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Saturday, September 22, 2018

We’ve got a logline – Lake Regret - post author Gary Howell

We have a logline.  We think.  At least a first draft of one.

Loglines are a pain in the ass to write. I’ll be the first to admit that, and some of the best writers I know stink I writing them.  Loglines require you to be concise and to basically come up with an overview to your entire movie usually in a single sentence.  But they are helpful to quickly explain to someone the essence of your movie.  If they get bored with that simple explanation, or don’t understand it, then it’s a pretty good sign you’d better go back to the drawing board.  Here’s a quick article on writing a good logline that might be worth reading: How to Write the Perfect Logline

For “Lake Regret,” we wanted to convey the sadly ironic situation that our protagonist found himself in, and create empathy for what he was going through so that you would pull for him from beginning to end.

I’m going to leave the logline here for you to read, and ask yourself whether you would want to read this script.  If so, why?  If not, what is it that doesn’t appeal to you?  This is the sixth or seventh draft of the logline, and we’re willing to write seven or eight more, but your feedback can help us refine it further.

A high school senior who accidentally caused the death of a popular student tries to deal with the emotional fall out at a lake house graduation party, and at the same time cut ties with the small town he desperately wants to leave behind.

In our next post, we’ll start pulling back some more of the curtain about developing the storyline, and how a couple of guys who collaborate so well still can get into disagreements over the tone and direction of the script.

Bookmark this site and keep reading!  Hope to hear from you!


The further adventures of the screenwriting and marketing process of Lake Regret wherein Gary Howell documents his and Rick Hansberry's screenwriting adventures from concept, to the writing, to how they handle disagreements, to marketing the script. Reproduced with permission

Friday, February 9, 2018

According to Plan — Going Through the Rewrite - post author Gary Howell

WRITER’S NOTE: Rick and I are are struggling with the outline we started with on “Lake Regret”, and while we try to come up with another project, we are providing you with insight on our script “According to Plan” and how we went from concept to getting the project optioned, and the craziness that ensued afterwards.

My apologies for not posting here recently.  It’s been a crazy last couple of weeks where I’ve been approached about my pilot script “Bounty” — we’ll see where it goes but the conversations have definitely been interesting.

In our last post, we talked about how it took us 78 days to finish the 98 page script, but that couldn’t be the end of it.  We had to go back and edit the first draft, which is never going to be your best work, if you’re being honest about it (some of you even refer to that first draft as a “vomit draft”).  Now, you may remember that I said I would write a couple of pages and then Rick would edit and and send me back additional pages, and we went back and forth that way until we finished that first draft.  Now while we were editing along the way, it wasn’t the full-blown editing you’re probably used to.   We were just looking for misspellings, continuation issues, and so on.  The full re-write was still in front of us.

In addition to taking a critical eye to the writing, we were taking a look at some of the actual setup for the script.  Here’s an example:  This is a script that deals with early onset dementia and having a grandfather convince his grandson and one of his friends to drive him from St. Louis to New Orleans to recover a treasure he claims to have left there.  Now I originally imagined the family as being African-American.  This was an indie film and the black community is pretty underserved when it comes to that film segment.  Rick was against that idea, for a couple of reasons.  First, neither of us have the world view of what it is like to be African-American and we didn’t feel like we could adequately portray dialogue, lifestyles, customs, etc.  Second, if we made the characters non-race specific, it would open it up to more producers, who could choose how they wanted to approach it.

Another thing that we had to do was a make a change to a significant plot point.  The grandfather was originally going to be in an assisted living facility and the grandson and his friend were going to break him out of the facility and drive him to New Orleans.  The problems with that, we decided, were two-fold.  Breaking him out would immediately have legal authorities looking out for them, which might make it a bit interesting, but not make it very realistic.  Second, the grandfather only has early onset dementia, not full-scale Alzheimer’s (which would render him incapable of making any sort of coherent communication), and because of that he would likely not be in an assisted living facility.

So what to do in that case?  We reworked the plot so that the grandfather was at home, but there were instances that made it clear that he had some problems, such as wandering away from home, talking about a treasure that may or may not exist, and so on.  For a screenwriter, this is, I think, the most important job the writer has, which is finding the little inconsistencies and problems that your script has.   When you’re writing on your own I think finding those little problem areas are very difficult at times because a lot of writers have tunnel vision or they block out what might be a bad plot point or just plain bad writing because they are determined to wedge a plot point into their script.  If you’re not writing with someone, then at least find people to read your script after it’s done and give you an honest assessment of the writing.  And here’s something I’ve always done — I’ve always asked writers that are better than me to review my scripts and give me honest feedback.  SimplyScripts is one of those places where you can post your script and get those types of reviews.

So the second rewrite took us another three weeks, and when that rewrite was done, I still don’t think we were satisfied.  We took another swipe at it and finished that editing process in a couple of weeks.  Again, why would we do this?  Why wouldn’t we?  We wanted our script to be at its absolute best, and just taking the first draft was never going to cut it.

We’d finished the draft.  What now?  We’ll get into what we did with the script after we finished it in our next post.

The further adventures of the screenwriting and marketing process of Lake Regret wherein Gary Howell documents his and Rick Hansberry's screenwriting adventures from concept, to the writing, to how they handle disagreements, to marketing the script. Reproduced with permission

Saturday, July 1, 2017

3 Hours till Dead – Film Review - post author Anthony Cawood

3 hours till dead film review

An AWOL soldier and his buddies stop at an abandoned farmhouse and encounter the living dead.

Writer/Director, Jason Mills, has taken a basic limited location/limited cast premise and thrown some zombies at it rather than go the normal thriller route.

There’s an attempt at giving the characters a little three-dimensionality, with one of the leads an AWOL soldier with PTSD, but the majority are stock roles. For example, thrown into the mix is a guy who is positioned as dangerous and worse than the zombies, there’s always one!

But the main twist here is that the ‘infected’ live for three hours, so can our plucky bunch survive long enough to outlast them? I personally think this was a good idea but wasn’t used effectively enough.

Obviously, this is a low budget effort and tries hard to overcome this with a number of decently staged, and occasionally tense, attack sequences. The effects too are reasonable for this type of film, but…

Ultimately the problem here is that there is nothing that you’ve not seen before, it’s a zombie movie after all, so it’s all a bit too familiar.

Fairplay for a decent effort but it needed something to elevate it.

IMDB Watch it Streaming on Amazon

About the reviewer: Anthony Cawood is an award winning screenwriter from the UK with 4 short films produced and another 10 or so scripts optioned and/or purchased. Links to his films and details of his scripts can be found at

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Peelers Review - post author Anthony Cawood

Peelers MovieWren Walker, plays Blue Jean, the owner of a low-rent strip club in the middle of nowhere. She’s planning on shutting the club and leaving for a more normal life. But on a normal night, just a few customers and the usual issues with the dancers and other staff, her plans are changed.

A group of coal miners walk in, flush after making a discovery in the mine… only problem is that the discovery is a contaminant that is turning them into violent crazies with a blood lust that knows no bounds.

So the setup for this is pretty straightforward… the owner of a low-rent strip club must defend her club, and the strippers from the customers who have turned violent, a la Crazies, after exposure to some strange oil.

It’s self-contained with almost all the action taking place inside the club and the action is fast, frequent and often gory… oh and funny too.

It’s clearly very low budget, but it spends the money it has on the gory kills, which are inventive and fun, and the effects are decent given the constraints.

The theme is well mined (pardon the pun) and it owes a lot to films like Zombie Strippers and Dusk Till Dawn, and like these films it takes a great delight in its B movie  roots.

I had the pleasure of seeing/hearing the Director and Writer at a film fest in 2016, the Q&A after the film was a laugh riot and that sense imbues the entire film… definitely worth a watch if you love a good exploitation flick.

Stream It on Amazon Prime

About the reviewer: Anthony Cawood is an award winning screenwriter from the UK with 4 short films produced and another 10 or so scripts optioned and/or purchased. Links to his films and details of his scripts can be found at

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Hunting Grounds – Indie Film Review - post author Anthony Cawood

Hunting GroundsOkay, I admit it, I’m fascinated by man-beasts, Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yowie… whatever it’s called in your neck of the woods.

So I put this film to the top of my review pile and settled down for and action-packed scarefest… hmmm.

I understand, I really do, low budget and you have to convince an audience that the guy in the fur suit is a real, scary, wild animal. Many low budget films will take time with the reveal, keep the monster in the shadows until the last moment so that people can’t see the zip.

But not with Hunting Ground, here the reveal is early, and repeated… and it does detract from the scare aspect as the suit isn’t remotely convincing.

The other problem, inherent with Bigfoot films, is that stories of Bigfoot encounters don’t generally involve violence and attacks, they appear to be (assuming they exist for a moment) shy and reclusive animals. It’s like someone making a horror film with a Panda as the monster.

All bad then?

No, not entirely.

I realised about forty minutes in, despite the monster suits and dubious acting, that it was kinda fun. Silly for sure, but fun too.

When the sustained attack on the cabin happens and the set is wobbling, furry arms are poking through every hole and the gore effects are amped to the max… well it was difficult not to be impressed with the chutzpah on display.

A for effort and F for fun!


Well not entirely


Watch on Amazon Streaming

Buy the DVD/Blu Ray

About the reviewer: Anthony Cawood is an award winning screenwriter from the UK with 4 short films produced and another 10 or so scripts optioned and/or purchased. Links to his films and details of his scripts can be found at

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Bethany – Indie Film Review by Anthony Cawood - post author Anthony Cawood

bethanyClaire (Stefanie Estes) and her husband, Aaron (Zack Ward), move back into her childhood home and things are looking up. But Claire quickly starts to experience odd sensations, semi-hallucinations and other general oddities.

She’s also having flashbacks to her childhood and her harridan of a mother, played with suitable zeal by Shannen Doherty, who terrorised her as a child.

Aaron is concerned for his wife’s mental health, increasingly so as the incidents and their effects become more intense and dangerous.

As an audience we’re also left wondering what’s going on… well I believe that’s the intention, but it’s pretty telegraphed really. So the surprise, when it comes, isn’t really one and it feels like a cheat.

I think the problem for Bethany is that it draws from a number of influences without differentiating itself or staking a claim to originality.

This is perhaps best illustrated in a shower scene, where Claire starts to pull hair out of the shower, and BOO a scary visage jumps out at her from nowhere – it may not be a direct lift but it certainly is a heavy nod to The Grudge and other J-Horror staples.

The final twist actually has you wondering more about the weird architecture of the home than the family tragedy that has been revealed.

Tom Green is in it too, but I couldn’t for the life of me work out why.


Watch on Amazon Streaming

About the reviewer: Anthony Cawood is an award-winning and produced screenwriter. He has sold/optioned four feature screenplays, and sold/optioned over forty short scripts, many of which have been filmed. Outside of his extensive screenwriting career, Anthony is also a published short story writer, interviewer and movie reviewer. Links to his films and details of his scripts can be found at

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Psychos (Review) - post author Anthony Cawood

Three women receive a video message that documents their previous captivity. They compare notes about their abuse and it galvanises them into action of the revenge type. Who sent the videos is a mystery and why they now need to do something about it is beyond me – and them…

But anyway, they track down their abuser (very easily) and so ensues a cat and mouse, run around his house a lot sort of affair with him having the upper hand, then they do then…. ah who cares!

The plot here is paper thin, and certainly not something that will surprise you any, yes there is a twist but it’s telegraphed from the get-go so leaves you frustrated rather than impressed.

The film stars Angelica Chitwood, Daniele Ramos Cloutier and Melissa Elena Jones as the girls, aided and abetted by one of their boyfriends in the shape of Vince Peagler III, and with Aubrey Wakeling as the protagonist. The acting is variable and they are all willing enough, but…

This is an ultra-low-budget effort and everyone will have tried their absolute best here… but ultimately there’s not a compelling enough story to engage the audience and make you care about anything that’s going on.

Available streaming on: Amazon Streaming

About the reviewer: Anthony is an award winning screenwriter from the UK with 2 features optioned and over 30 short scripts optioned, or purchased, including 8 filmed. Outside of his screenwriting career, he’s a published short story writer and movie reviewer. Links to his films and details of his scripts can be found at

Tuesday, January 12, 2010 - post author Don

This just in from

At, you can join your fellow Goonies, Lost Boys, or Mogwais and talk tv and films from past, present and future. We’ll be throwing our spotlight on the latest film news, reviewing the random films and tv we see and blog all the coolest stuff we can find. You may notice a reference here and there to classic films of the 80s around the site…this is entirely intentional. So, join us. Remember to comment or argue for all you’re worth, relive and share those great film moments from your past and tell us what you think we should look forward to in the entertainment world. Enjoy, comment and remember, the most important rule – the rule you can never forget, no matter how much we cry…or how much we beg…. never, NEVER, read it after midnight.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Sweeny Todd: The Demon of Barber Street review - post author Don

Sweeney Todd

Sweeny Todd: The Demon of Barber Street
Reviewed by: Dr. “Doc” McPhearson

Directed by Tim Burton

Written by John Logan (based on Stephen Sondheim’s musical)


Having just arrived back home from the opening day matinee showing of Tim Burton’s “Sweeney Todd”, there’s only one thing I am sure of: It’s bloody great.

The story behind the Sweeney Todd myth sparked in the 1800s, when a urban legend, about a demonic barber screaming for blood, spread through London like wildfire, reaching the ears of the masses by, more or less, word-of-mouth. It wasn’t long after its conception that many newspapers began publishing chapters of the Todd-tale in their “penny dreadfuls” (small newspapers that cost only a penny, and worked like multiple installments for a novel… oh never mind).

Speed ahead a hundred years, and Christopher Bond has adapted the legend into a stage play, mixing a complex revenge plot into the madness. Move ahead to the 1970s, a young talented musician named Stephen Sondheim, at the peak of his power, sees Bond’s play, and thinks to himself, “This would make a good musical.”

And apparently, it does. Winning what was at that time an unprecedented amount of Tony awards, Sondheim’s musical was so phenomenal that the very thought of it stuck with film director Tim Burton, up until last year, when he and his production team set about making this thing, which, hundreds of years after the initial plot’s creation, is one of the best films of 2007.

Quick stage setting: Benjamin Barker is a barber in London, where he lives with his beautiful wife Lucy and their baby daughter Johanna. However, unbeknownst to him, a corrupt judge by the name of Turpin watches them from afar, concocting a plan that will send Benjamin away and leave his wife ripe for the taking. And with the help of lawman Beadle Bamford, he does just that, imprisoning poor Barker on false charges, and exiling him to Australia for life. But fifteen years later, Anthony Hope, a young sailor, finds Barker, recently escaped from prison, adrift on a plank in the middle of the ocean. Bound for London anyway, Anthony is more than willing to transport the awry fellow there as well.

In fact, that’s where the film begins, with the ship drifting into the London harbor. But, much like the dirty, dingy, drearily dark streets of the city, Barker’s life in general has forever transformed in his absence; his whole world has become, for lack of a better phrase, jacked up. Turpin raped Lucy, after which she poisoned herself, leaving little Johanna with no option but to fall under the adoptive care of the evil judge himself. Yep, things are in the crapper for poor ol’ Benji Boy. So what does he do? He kills a bunch of people, is what he does! You think I’m joking? Well, I’m not. By the end, the body count is high, and half of the cast is ka-poot.

Oh, and while speaking of the cast, I should say, it could not have been better. Johnny Depp works wonderfully as the brooding vengeful anti-hero, using his skills as an actor to help show emotion even while hittin’ the notes with surprisingly substantial ease. Helena Bonham Carter plays Mrs. Lovett so that you don’t know what is going on in her character’s head, making her that much more ambiguously brilliant as a character. Alan Rickman is completely dry (I mean that as a compliment) as the wicked Judge Turpin, and, with Depp at his side, performs “Pretty Women”, one of the most darkly ironic duets I have ever seen put on film. Timothy Spall as Bamford is phenomenally slimy and conniving, and also one of the best bits of casting in this film. Sacha Baron Cohen is absolutely hilarious as the crafty, but ultimately doomed, rival barber Senor Pirelli; the moment he appeared on the screen, people were already laughing. And the younger actors (Jamie Campbell Bower, Jayne Wisener, and Ed Sanders) all three make great debuts in this film, though some critics have shrugged off their characters as mere plot devices.

But it isn’t just the actors whose works shines through this dark, dark piece of work; Dante Ferretti’s production design, spliced into the same pie with Colleen Atwood’s costumes and make-up devices, blend the movie’s world with such Burtonistic (copyright 2007 Doc McPhearson) qualities, that, especially in moments like the “By the Sea” daydream, each one of them is destined for Oscar nomination no doubt.

Okay, I have to stop now. Seriously. No matter what I say, I feel as if I’m leaving something out. Look, if you take nothing else from this review, take this: strongly consider seeing this film. It is a fantastic adaptation of a even more fantastic Broadway musical. Please, understand, that while it will not be Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury singing these songs, the movie does the material justice in terms of both the actors, technicals, and screenwriting that could have been done, I believe. True, it shaved off several things here and there, most noticeably the entirety of the chorus lines. But with Burton behind the camera, Depp in front of it, and Sondheim’s fingerprints on every gorgeously gothic frame, you could not ask for a more perfect team in this violent, but oh so intimate, picture.

10 out of 10
Doc McPhearson

DISCLAIMER: I don’t think I mentioned, there’s a lot of blood in this movie. Like, a lot a lot. However, it is absolutely unrealistic, used as almost a romanticized quality, adding to the melodramatic film of the material. But still, please, don’t take any children to this thing. The therapist’s bill will eat you out of house and home.

Read more reviews on the Movie Reviews page.

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