Browsing Archive: January, 2015

Writers' Spaces

Posted by Tom Brogan on Saturday, January 31, 2015,

I'm always interested in where a writer writes. If it's a coffee shop or a garden shed I'm always intrigued by where writers settle down to get something done. I think my favourite spaces are the ones like David Hare's above. To promote the Bruntswood Prize the BBC website has a nice collection of pictures of playwrights in their spaces. The photos, taken by Simon Annand, are part of an exhibition at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester in April.

Annand previously did a great book and exhibi...
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Brian Koppelman on WTF

Posted by Tom Brogan on Friday, January 30, 2015,
I enjoyed screenwriter Brian Koppelman's appearance on WTF with Marc Maron. The discussion over the relevance of Koppelman's attempt at stand-up was an entertaining exchange.

Here's an interview with Koppleman in the New Yorker.

“I’ve seen so many people sitting at coffee shops in L.A. reading ‘Save the Cat’ or Robert McKee’s ‘Story,’ ” he says, “And those are classic books. But they make you think only one thing is commercial, and commerce creates barriers. They think this ...
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Martin Starr's Random Roles

Posted by Tom Brogan on Thursday, January 29, 2015,
The AV Club do a good feature called Random Roles where actors who've got a large body of work behind them talk honestly about the parts they've done. The latest one is Martin Starr, who you may have seen in Silicon Valley, Freaks and Geeks or Knocked Up. My favourite series he was a big part of was the cancelled well before its time Party Down.

"It was such a fun, inviting group that we really—I mean, that was as fun as it could’ve been, and every job should be that enjoyable, and everybo...
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Gene Hackman

Posted by Tom Brogan on Wednesday, January 28, 2015,
Over on Twitter a while ago Chris Ward tweeted that Gene Hackman should be as much loved by the internet as Bill Murray. Grantland has a profile of Hackman looking at some of his 79 films and reminding us that while he may be retired he's still one of the greatest living actors.

"He couldn’t have planned it this way, but Hackman had aged into a screen persona — he looked like he had spent years driving a truck or working as a doorman before lucking into the movies, because that’s basical...
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Our Friends in the North

Posted by Tom Brogan on Tuesday, January 27, 2015,
For my money Our Friends in the North is one of the best things that's ever been on British television. Broadcast in 1996 it tells the story of a group of friends in a changing Britain over a period of nearly 30 years. As part of The Guardian's 'How We Made' series, actor Christopher Eccleston and writer Peter Flannery talk about putting it on screen.

"It was hard. It took nine months to film and one of the directors left a few months after we started shooting in 1995. The very first episode...
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Chic Brogan 1932-2015

Posted by Tom Brogan on Monday, January 26, 2015,

I wrote an obituary for my Uncle Chic, who died last week, that was published in today's Herald. A professional boxer he won Scottish titles at two different weights in the 1950s.

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Call Me Lucky

Posted by Tom Brogan on Sunday, January 25, 2015,
Bobcat Goldthwait has been one of my favourite filmmakers of the last few years. World's Greatest Dad and God Bless America in particular have become two of my favourite ever films.

His new film, which is at Sundance, is a documentary. 'Call Me Lucky' tells the story of Barry Crimmins, a comedian from San Francisco. Boing Boing has an interview with Goldthwait and Crimmins.

"Goldthwait: It’s been a really strange year for me, probably the roughest year of my life. Divorce, then my best frie...
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The Nightman

Posted by Tom Brogan on Saturday, January 24, 2015,
I've been enjoying season 10 of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Two episodes in and both of them have been laugh out loud funny. This is from the extras on the season 4 DVD. It's the live performance of The Nightman Cometh.

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The Vermont Plays

Posted by Tom Brogan on Friday, January 23, 2015,
I've been slowly making my way through Annie Baker's Vermont plays. A collection of four plays all set in the same small town in Vermont. So far I've only finished the first one, The Aliens.

This is Annie Baker interviewed in Elle

...Baker will gorge on reading for months before she even starts to write; then she tries to escape any "ideas" she has acquired in favor of building a world within an imagined physical space—the dueling theaters of The Flick, for example, or the fluorescent-lit c...

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Jay Leno on Cosby

Posted by Tom Brogan on Thursday, January 22, 2015,
Jay Leno has some interesting comments on the Bill Cosby saga. Quoted in the Hollywood Reporter he talks about how the nature of how we get the news has changed.

"I think this whole Cosby thing, Hannibal Buress started it. He's a stand-up comedian and he made a flat-out statement that reverberated around the world. If that had been on television, it would have been edited. But because somebody would put the news out raw and unfiltered — which I think is fantastic — it was a great thing."

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Simon Rich on Man Seeking Woman

Posted by Tom Brogan on Wednesday, January 21, 2015,
I've slowly become a fan of Simon Rich. I think his writing is among the most original, clever and funny stuff around. You can read his great short story 'Unprotected' on the New Yorker's website. A live version, read by Wyatt Cenac, is available as part of a collection to buy from the Selected Shorts website.

He has a new sitcom called 'Man Seeking Woman' starting. He speaks to Splitsider about it and his writing career.

"In the writer’s room, I would say we’re less influenced by tradition...
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Cora Bissett Workshop

Posted by Tom Brogan on Tuesday, January 20, 2015,
This is a really good write-up, by playwright Nicola Todd, of a recent workshop run by Cora Bissett at the Tron.

"Ms Bissett also spoke about creating rounded characters - there are no such things as good guys vs bad guys, people are complex and multi-dimensional, and we have to portray that or no one is likely to care about them. She told us that she hadn't wanted to set the show in a traditional theatre, where the audience are removed from the action and viewing the character from a distance...
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Louie Meets the Press

Posted by Tom Brogan on Monday, January 19, 2015,
With a new season of 'Louie' being announced by FX Louis CK spoke with reporters yesterday to discuss season four of his show.

For me it's been a show like nothing else on television. One week it's sitcom(although very rarely), the next it's a surrealist short film, then it's a drama, then there's lengthy stand-up sections. It's always watchable, even when he doesn't quite pull it off. But a few episodes from the last couple of seasons have been up there with the best television of all time i...
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American Sniper

Posted by Tom Brogan on Sunday, January 18, 2015,
I saw American Sniper last night. I'm generally a fan of Clint Eastwood's work as a director and I think this is up there with the best of his films. In Fast Company screenwriter Jason Hall talks about gaining the trust of the film's subject Chris Kyle, and how he went from a struggling actor to a screenwriter.  

Below is an interview with Chris Kyle from Time magazine.

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New Saturday Night Live Book

Posted by Tom Brogan on Saturday, January 17, 2015,
There's a new book on Saturday Night Live coming out to join the others already on the shelves. Taschen have a coffee table style book by Alison Castle, created during the series' 39th season. Castle previously edited the Stanley Kubrick Archives book for Taschen. 

The book is called 'Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!' and promises to be part encyclopedia and part behind-the-scenes-tour.

Features include:
  • Over 2,300 images from SNL's archives, many previously unpublished
  • An illustrated bre...

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National Lampoon Rehearsals

Posted by Tom Brogan on Friday, January 16, 2015,
This is footage from a 1974 Canadian documentary on the National Lampoon magazine. It features John Belushi, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis and Gilda Radner in rehearsal.

UPDATE: The video I posted here changed its settings to 'Private' a day or two after I linked to it. Instead here's a link to an archive of National Lampoon magazines.

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Behind the Scenes on How Did This Get Made

Posted by Tom Brogan on Thursday, January 15, 2015,
The AV Club has a feature on one of my favourite podcasts - How Did This Get Made? To celebrate their 100th episode Paul Scheer and Jason Mantzoukas talk about how they came up with the idea for the show and what they plan to do with it next.

AVC: If Nic Cage came on for an episode of the podcast, would he actually make a great guest, or would it just be awkward?

PS: Depends on the Nic Cage you got. I actually think he’s a very interesting, surprisingly quiet guy. Very serious and not bonkers...

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All Right, All Right, All Right

Posted by Tom Brogan on Tuesday, January 13, 2015, In : Films 
Thanks to the Criterion Collection here's the young Matthew McConaughey auditioning for his role in Richard Linklater's 'Dazed and Confused'.


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New York Times In Performance

Posted by Tom Brogan on Monday, January 12, 2015,
In their Arts section of their website The New York Times run a great section called 'In Performance'. Here they showcase a short scene from a play currently in production in New York. The scenes usually run from about a minute to three minutes.

This is one of my favourite scenes from it. Matthew Maher does a monologue from 'Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play,' by Anne Washburn. Maher crops up in a lot of films and TV. Most notably for me in 'Gone Baby Gone'.

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Steven Soderbergh's Seen, Read 2014

Posted by Tom Brogan on Sunday, January 11, 2015,
On his website Steven Soderbergh has posted his record of 2014, the films, TV shows and plays he saw that year, along with the books he read. He even has a system for it.

All caps, bold: MOVIE
All caps: TV SERIES
All italics: Book
Quotation marks: "Play"
Italics, Quotation marks: "Short Story"

I do something similar but it's not as well organised.

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Ira Glass on Beginning

Posted by Tom Brogan on Saturday, January 10, 2015, In : Writing Process 
When you start out writing, or bing creative in any way you have a lot of self doubt. You have to work through that doubt in order to get good. One of my favourite pieces of advice on starting out and the problems you find yourself facing comes from Ira Glass.

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William Monahan on Writing Dialogue

Posted by Tom Brogan on Friday, January 9, 2015,
Oscar winning screenwriter of 'The Departed' William Monahan spoke to Fast Company magazine on how to write convincing dialogue. He shares some good tips.

Dialogue reveals what characters hide

"Quite decent people often don’t realize that their conversations are not about truth or communication but advancing their own mythologies. Look at what people are trying to conceal, and you’ll see that they’re revealing everything. One of the funniest things in the world these days is that you go...

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Writers on the Writing Process

Posted by Tom Brogan on Thursday, January 8, 2015, In : Writing Process 
Here's some more writers talking about their writing process.

Dave Grohl talked to The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon about how he wrote songs for Foo Fighters' most recent album 'Sonic Highways'.

The band went to eight different cities and eight different studios. After recording instrumentals Grohl would go out to interview someone. Once he had enough interviews he gathered together the transcripts.

"I would pick out words, phrases and sentences from the interviews. Put those on this side ...
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Guillermo Arriaga on Writing '21 Grams'

Posted by Tom Brogan on Wednesday, January 7, 2015, In : Writing Process 
Script Magazine has an archived article from 2004 with screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga on the process of writing the film '21 Grams'. It covers the initial nugget of the idea, themes, characters and the film's big questions.

"We all know that one scene has a meaning by itself and a completely different one when it is linked to a scene before and a scene after. I wanted to go beyond the conventional, so I went for symbolic choices. I started writing scenes in a contrasting order, so that the str...
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Dustin Lance Black's Writing Process

Posted by Tom Brogan on Tuesday, January 6, 2015, In : Writing Process 
I'm always interested in a writer's process. In fact, I should start a collection of posts with that as a theme. As such the Creative Spark section of the Academy's YouTube page is a goldmine. They have videos of several screenwriters discussing and showing their various ways of approaching writing.

It's interesting to see how their working methods vary greatly. My favourite of all the videos is this one from Oscar winning write of 'Milk' Dustin Lance Black. His approach to outlining is in...
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Patton Oswalt's Life in 10 Films

Posted by Tom Brogan on Monday, January 5, 2015, In : Films 
Patton Oswalt again, this time in Rolling Stone talking about ten films that defined him. His new book 'Silver Screen Fiend' about spending his days watching films is now out. 
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Art of the Title's Top 10 Title Sequences

Posted by Tom Brogan on Sunday, January 4, 2015,
Art of the Title published their top ten title sequences of 2014.

"For our list of the top 10 title sequences released in 2014, Art of the Title’s editors chose from among film, television, video games, conferences, and whatever category Too Many Cooks fits into."

On the list is the title sequence for possibly my favourite new US TV show of 2014, True Detective.

HBO's True Detective - Main Title Sequence from Patrick Clair on Vimeo.

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Terracing Photo

Posted by Tom Brogan on Saturday, January 3, 2015,
Here's a photograph I took at the football this afternoon. Sometimes you can get an interesting image if you turn away from the action on the pitch. I just thought the silhouette looked quite nice here.

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Posted by Tom Brogan on Saturday, January 3, 2015, In : Podcasts 
"Podcasts! There's a million of them and they’re all amazing!" So said Parks and Recreation's Tom Haverford. Here's a round-up of a few podcasts I've been listening to recently.

Song Exploder

In Song Exploder songwriters discuss how they wrote a particular song and play some of the individual tracks the songs is made up of. The latest episode features Matt Berninger and Aaron Dessner of The National discussing 'Sea of Love' from 2013's 'Trouble Will Find Me'. There's also a weekly newslette...
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Patton Oswalt in the New York Times

Posted by Tom Brogan on Friday, January 2, 2015,
Patton Oswalt is featured a couple of times on the New York Times website this week. First of all he talks about books. Not just his all time favourite books, although he does that, but also books he hates, “I hate to say it, but “Jaws” is just awful.”

One of his favourite books is also one of my favourite books. “James Ellroy’s 'The Black Dahlia,' only because it was my first plunge into unapologetic historical fiction, and a disgusting portrait of Los Angeles that, weirdly, made ...

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Best Films of 2014 I Saw That Weren't Released in 2014

Posted by Tom Brogan on Thursday, January 1, 2015,
This is a list of films that I saw for the first time in 2014 which weren't released that year.

1. Witchfinder General (1968)
Directed by Michael Reeves
Written by Tom Baker, Michael Reeves, Louis M. Heyward (additional scenes)
Starring: Vincent Price, Ian Ogilvy, Hilary Dwyer

2. Magic Mike (2012)
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Reid Carolin
Starring: Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Cody Horn, Matt Bomer, Olivia Munn, Joe Manganiello and Matthew McConaughey

3. Bernie (2011)
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My Films of 2014

Posted by Tom Brogan on Thursday, January 1, 2015,
1. Blue Ruin (UK release date 21 February; GFF)
Written and directed by: Jeremy Saulnier
Starring: Macon Blair, Devin Ratray, Eve Plumb

2. 12 Years a Slave (UK release date 10 January)
Directed by Steve McQueen
Written by John Ridley
Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano and Lupita Nyong'o

3. The Rover (UK release date 15 August)
Written and directed by: David Michôd
Story by: David Michôd and Joel Edgerton
Starring: Guy Pearce, Robert Pattins...
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