Ted Hope Extravaganza

Ted Hope

5 September 2012

American producer Ted Hope was in Australia last week, brought in by Screen Australia to teach a two-day class called Hope for Film. I had the good fortune to interview him, and to attend the class, and to write about it for Screen Hub. The articles were:

Happy reading!

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 Photo credit: NLjubicich



Storytelling rules learned at Pixar


The Pixar Touch Book site has collected a series of 22 tweets from Emma Coats, a Pixar storyboard artist, that outline story basics she gleaned from her colleagues. There is much wisdom here.

I was going to pick a few that I particularly liked, but really, they are all great.

#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.

#2: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.

#3: Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.

#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

#5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.

#6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?

#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.

#8: Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.

#9: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.

#10: Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.

#11: Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.

#12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.

#13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.

#14: Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.

#15: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.

#16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.

#17: No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.

#18: You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.

#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

#20: Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?

#21: You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?

#22: What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

Thanks to TubeFilter for the initial pointer.

Peeking Behind the Curtain: The Magic of Old Spice Guy


Old Spice Guy

Old Spice Guy

Last year, the Old Spice campaign dominated the Internet in an amazingly comprehensive way.  Part of what was clever was the social media outreach, but the ads themselves were little jewels of magic.  But how was that magic created? A dash of clever writing, a pinch of technical wizardry, some good old special effects, and surprisingly little CGI.

Leo Laporte and Tom Merritt did an in-depth interview on their Triangulation show with Eric Kallman and Craig Allen of Wieden + Kennedy, the ads’ copywriter and art director, respectively. It is a great listen, and they go into a lot of the specifics of the campaign and the ads themselves.  You can hear it here:

[audio:http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/twit.cachefly.net/tri0006.mp3|titles=Traingulation #6 with Leo Laporte and Tom Merritt, interviewing Eric Kallman and Craig Allen about Old Spice Guy]

Here is the behind-the-scenes look at the making of the ad they are talking about in the interview. A lot of the clip is fatuous, but the few glimpses at mechanics of filmmaking that they show are fascinating.

And here is the ad itself: