Tag: History of

Four Key Habits For Successful Screenwriters

Cape Cod | Nantucket

What separates winners from losers? Why do some people manage to sell a screenplay, while others do not? In short, is there anything that we can learn from successful screenwriters that will allow others to achieve success?

Having worked in this business for around ten years now, I've certainly had lots of time to ponder this question, and, of course, to try and apply the lessons I have learned to my own career as a screenwriter.

While I do not profess to have all the answers – if I did I would be luxurating by the pool in my Hollywood villa rather than writing this article – I believe that you can adopt that will increase your chances of success as a screenwriter:

Persistence: This is the first key habit for a reason – this is not an easy business. If you come into it thinking that you can just whip out a quick draft of the first idea you think of and Hollywood will come knocking at your door you are in for a rude shock.

Many people think that screenwriting is easy – they've seen plenty of bad films, and they think "I could easily write something better than that!" And compared to a novel it's a snip to write a film script – whereas a typical novel weights in at around 120,000 words, a screenplay is closer to 20,000 words – so how hard can it be to write 20,000 words?

Actually, it's pretty hard! For while the screenplay format is significantly shorter than a novel, that brevity places its own demands upon you – no thoughts, no space to explain everything – you have to get straight into the story and show everything through what your characters do and say.

The truth is that many people write one screenplay, can not sell it, then quit – but like anything else, you get better with practice, so your second script will be better than your first, your third better than your second, and so on. Persistence is vital. Because if you keep writing, keep improving, keep networking, keep sending your scripts to people, you will eventually find someone who is interested in what you have written.

Keep Learning: Screenwriting is a skill, and you need to keep on developing and improving your skills. One way to do this is to be open to learning. There are many different ways to learn this skill – you can take a screenwriting class, buy a book on screenwriting, read articles like this, read professional screenplays, and of course be sure to regularly sit down and analyze completed films to see what works and what does not. Learning never ends.

Write From The Heart: Many writers spend time trying to write what is currently popular. Writing what you think people want to see – or, in fact, what you think they might want to see in three years time – is a waste of time. As William Goldman famously said of the movie business, "nobody knows nothing." The bottom line is that all good writing is about emotion – if you are passionate about your story and your craft, the emotion will show in your story, and readers will respond to that.

Write Regularly: Finally, any writer must commit to writing regularly. The only way to BECOME a writer is to BE a writer. Of course you will have another life – a job, family, hobbies etc – that will make it hard to write every day, but the more often you do, the better your writing will become.

With a few rare exceptions, good writers are made, not born. You can make yourself a good writer by being passionate, persistent, open to learning, and by writing every day. If you write it (and keep writing it) they will come …

A Brief History of Rock and Pop Music

We like the moooooon (heavily annotated Harvest Moon, 10/6/2006)

You may be wondering when exactly did rock/pop music begin? There’s no clear answer to this. Some might say that it started with the advent of rock n roll with Bill Haley and the Comets in 1952. Others would say Elvis, although not the first but surely the original truly global superstar. Yet none of these were really the first. Rock n roll has its roots in blues which has its roots back to the 19th century with black immigrants trying to escape from their slave driven lives. Fast forward to the early 20th. century and some of the earliest recordings on 78 began to appear. Players from this time such as Bobby Jo and Robert Johnson helped to form the structure of early blues

Robert Johnson had recorded only thirty songs during his short life as he was prevented from achieving true fame while alive by being poisoned by a jealous husband. He died shortly before he was being sought to appear at the ‘Spirituals To Swing’ concert in 1938 by record producer John Hammond. As a result, his reputation only took off after Hammond released an album of his recordings for Columbia in the early sixties. Later blues exponents like Muddy Waters and Eric Clapton admitted borrowing heavily from these early stalwarts.

In the 50’s, artists took the basic blues style and used electric guitars, drums and double bass for the first time creating early rock n roll, later known as rockabilly. Stalwarts like Chuck Berry, Buddy Hollie and Jerry Lee Lewis were the most famous protagonists here. Later Elvis in the US and to a lesser extent, Cliff Richard (later leading the Shadows) in the UK brought rock n roll to a truly worldwide audience. This paved the way for the 60’s beat era which could be considered the true beginning of pop music as we know it today, certainly as far as bands were concerned.

In the 50’s and early 60’s, it was mostly lead solo artists with just a backing band. With the advent of the beat era, bands dominated with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and the Beach Boys from the US taking the world by storm. Even so, The Beatles later admitted being heavily influenced by those earlier rock n roll and blues artists. They mostly played rock n roll and blues covers at their pre-fame Hamburg concerts. in the early 60’s. The Beatles however, were the first band to successfully blend classical music textures with rock n roll to form perfectly crafted pop songs. While bands like The Rolling Stones continued with the mainly rock n roll theme,

The Beatles took their finely crafted style further in the seminal album ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ in 1967 by utilizing new studio techniques and instruments never used before. They used a new instrument called ‘the Melotron’ This was basically a keyboard which played looped tape recordings. of real instruments. The most famous sound from this was probably the flute used on the ‘Strawberry Fields’ single recorded at the same time but later dropped from the album. The Melotron though, was cumbersome and unreliable and had a rather grainy sound. Even so It was regarded as the forerunner of the electronic sampler, invented nearly 20 years later. Infinitely more flexible than the Melotron, the sampler helped build the framework for modern pop,dance and R&B music.

The Beatles ‘Sgt.. Pepper’ album with its groundbreaking recording techniques was preceded the year before by their ‘Revolver’ album. These LP’s helped popularize a new wave in music known as psychedelic or acid rock, named after the mind bending effects of LSD drugs. Pink Floyd also recorded their debut album ‘Piper at the Gates of Dawn’ in the studio next door at the same time that The Beatles recorded Sgt. Pepper. It was reported that Pink Floyd were a direct influence to The Beatles as a result. This new style incorporated new guitar effects like Fuzz, flanger anger and delays. These were used along side the earliest portable synthesizers such as the therein and mini Moog. invented by Bob Moog.

In America, the Beach boys responded with the ‘Pet sounds’ LP in 1966 and later that year released the first big psychedelic hit ‘Good Vibrations’. About this time, the band ‘Jefferson Airplane’ recorded their debut album which was also the first LP to come out of the new San Franciscan music scene. This got the record industry’s attention and they had two of the earliest psychedelic hits ‘White Rabbit’ and ‘Somebody to Love’ in 1967.

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, Jim Morrison joined with members of The Psychedelic Rangers and Rick and the Ravens to form ‘The Doors’ They were initially turned down by Columbia but were signed to Electra Records and released their self titled debut LP in 1967. The album included the 7 minute long hit single ‘Light my Fire’ one of the first to break the typical three minute pop and rock song barrier.

Back in Britain, radio broadcasting was very limited because the BBC were the only organization allowed to broadcast on the mainland and had just two pop music shows The Saturday club and Easy Beat Radio Luxembourg partially filled the gap but it was left to pirate radio, broadcast from ships out at sea with DJ John Peel’ which enabled the new style to reach a mass audience, often eclipsing the BBC in popularity. The BBC responded in the end with the advent of Radio 1 in June 1967. With the existing labor government making pirate radio illegal in Britain several months later, Du’s like John Peel rather than risk arrest joined radio 1 which had a much more informal and relaxed style as opposed to the staid and conservative approach favored by the BBC until then. This perfectly suited psychedelic pop and rock and John Peel championed this in his late night shows. playing new genres of music and introducing new and unsigned bands in the Peel sessions. He did this for nearly four decades until his death in 2004.

By the end of the 60’s after the break up of the beatles, mainstream music was about to change direction yet again both in style and fashion.

Famous Ships

Údolí Labe

Before the thundering Boeings and Airbuses hit the skies and made the world a smaller place, ships were the primary source for not only transportation, but also exploration and fighting wars. The exact history of boats is difficult to pinpoint, but the Noah's Ark can be cited as an example of how long ago they exist.

Famous ships can be broadly categorized on the basis of historical significance, war participation, and catastrophic shipwrecks. From an American history point of view, the Mayflower is said to be the most significant, since it bought the "Pilgrims" to Plymouth, starting from Southampton, England, in 1620. Another famous ship was the Spanish ship Amistad, which had on board 53 slaves, who revolted and killed their captors on July 2, 1839. The ship's navigator was spared so he could take the ship to Africa, but the ship arrived Long Island, New York instead. The slaves were acquitted after several trials and allowed a passage home to Africa.

The mighty Bismarck was the most powerful Nazi warship, which after being spotted by a reconnaissance aircraft, was engaged by the Prince of Wales and Hood. It sank the Hood in a matter of minutes and then escaped into the ocean, where it took a day and night of shelling by the three British ships, George V, the Rodney, and the Dorsetshire, to sink the German pride and joy. The latest famous ships include the Nimitz class nuclear powered aircraft carriers such as USS Truman that participated in the Iraq War and Hurricane Katrina relief.

From an infamous shipwreck point-of-view, the "unsinkable" Titanic preceded all, which when sank on April 15,1912, and had only 705 survivors out of the total 2227 people on board. However, few remember the sinking of the steamship Sultana on April 27, 1865, which left 1500 dead. The worst iron was that it had hundreds of Union POWs returning home after the Civil War, on a ship that had no lifeboats or life jackets.