Comic Book Review Writing Tips and Tricks

Comic books are becoming more and more popular nowadays. Several decades ago, a comic book was treated like meaningless trash whereas it contained pictures and short portions of text about superheroes, ghosts, common people, etc. The majority of comics were produced for children. Apparently, the choice of comic books is enormous. One can find books about scouts, animals, Vikings, schoolchildren, supernatural creatures and others. Without doubt, the most famous and successful comics are about superheroes and their adventures. Modern comic books are no longer treated carelessly. They belong to the specific combination of art and literature. They possess a specific name – graphic novels. The most prominent producers of graphic novels employ the best artists and scriptwriters who make their comics captive, absorbing, curious and uncommon. Every comic book contains its offbeat plot and characters. Most often, graphic novels are periodical. There are specific main characters who experience various adventures in every new edition. As might be expected, young people are interested in comic books and they make them a part of their life.

Whenever you want to review a graphic novel for high school, college or blog, you should get to know how to do it beneficially. Firstly, you should prepare for this process practically. Read several different comic books in order to catch their structure, motives, plot, strong and weak sides. You should understand the nature of a graphic novel. Secondly, you should read your specific comic book planned for analysis. It is important to read other editions of this chosen series of graphic novels in order to learn about its characters, the core motives, ideas and peculiarities. Needless to say but many situations and motives repeat in every edition. It is vital to notice them and mention them in your comic book review. In brief, you ought to study the entire world of DC comics if you review a specific graphic novel about Batman, Superman or Flash. It is impossible to grab the main idea of these books if you do not know about the foundational connections between its characters.

You cannot prepare a worthy and imposing graphic novel review if you do not write about the author and illustrator of the specific comic book. If you review a comic book about Iron Man, Spider-Man or the X-Men, you will definitely need to mention Stan Lee, the creator of the majority of Marvel Comics superheroes. Say a few words about his achievements, career and impact on the development of the specific series of graphic novels. Illustrators are extremely important for this industry. No one will buy a comic book if there are no fascinating, magnificent and authentic images in it. Very often, people purchase these books in order to possess it like an album. They treat it as a form of art. Thus, you cannot omit an illustrator in your review. He makes the indigenous ‘appearance’ of a comic book. Above all things, you should mention the title of the chosen edition, its date of publication, format and ISBN number. This basic information will help one find the required edition in the Internet or library.

Now you ought to analyze the plot of the selected graphic novel. It is smart to divide the plot into two levels. The first level denotes the main characters and events of the story. Of course, you must not reveal the most newsworthy details and the ending of the story. The second level refers to the problems and major ideas hidden in the comic book. For instance, when you write about Superman, you can write how he protects the world and how he would influence our life if he lived in the real world.

The quality of writing and artwork are two paramount elements of your review. You should analyze the conflict of the specific novel and evaluate its resolution. You should say whether the author has managed to make a gripping and affecting plot or not. Is the plot unpredictable? What can you say about its crucial moments? Then, you need to pay attention to the illustrations that can be found in the comic book. Say about the artistic style. Illustrators apply cartoon-like, manga and realistic styles. They definitely influence the general perception of a book. What are the dominant colors of your particular graphic novel? Do you like it?

Bear in mind that your review is subjective. You cannot impose your point of view on other readers and fans whereas they like these comic books regardless of how you criticize them. Therefore, prepare to receive negative feedback and comments of your readers if you place your graphic novel review on your blog.

If you need professional book review assistance from academic experts, you should visit this paper writing service – SmartWritingService.com.

Matt Thompson talks about writing, directing and starring in “Bloodline”

It worked for Sylvester Stallone. It worked for Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. And, if things go well, it’s going to work for Matt Thompson. An actor who does so much more, Thompson found himself in a quandary. You can’t get noticed in Hollywood unless you’re in something but unless you’re in something you can’t get noticed. So he took it upon himself to write and direct the new film, “Bloodline,” which opens today (9/27). He then cast himself in the lead. Take that, Hollywood! While taking time off from his next project Thompson took time out to talk with Media Mikes about his current one.

Mike Smith: Can you give us a quick introduction to “Bloodline?:
Matt Thompson: “Bloodline” is about a seminary student named Brett Ethos, who I play. He falls away from the church only to find out that his bloodline has been cursed, ironically, a couple of hundred years earlier.

MS: What inspired you to write the script?
MT: It was about 10 years ago when I was just starting out. I had talked to a producer and had told him how frustrating it was sometimes. How you have to have something to be in something yet you have to be in something to have something in this industry. It’s truly a Catch 22. I was taking an acting class at the time. He told me that I should write myself into something so I did exactly that. I looked at the horror/thriller genre’ and found it to be incredibly fascinating. It’s one of my favorite genres…it can grip you like no other can. Being from Northern California I had a great interest in Native American legends…I mean you can literally walk out into your back yard and find a grinding stone. It was really a natural fit, to piece together the Native Americans and the settlers and piece together the “Bloodline” idea…to tie in with the Native American legends.

MS: Did you write the film with the intention of both appearing in it and directing as well?
MT: Exactly! You have to have something to be in something. The whole idea was to basically create a vehicle that I could put myself in. In the interim I had written a short film called “Fallen Soldier,” which I also directed. When it was completed friends would encourage me to direct and explore that side of my creativity more.

MS: Is it hard wearing two hats on the set? To concentrate on your performance as an actor while concentrating on everything else as a director?
MT: Oh my God, it’s an incredible task! You kind of have to be schizophrenic in a sense, jumping in and out of, a., being an actor and, b., being a director. In one frame you have to be completely emotionally invested with your co-stars while in another you’re out of the shot and worrying if the lighting is right…if the camera is in the right place. Are the actors delivering? And on top of all that you have to deal with all of these people. You’re not only their co-star and friend but you’re also their boss. There are a hundred different facets in acting and directing at the same time.

MS: You recently completed a run on stage as Stanley Kowalski in “A Streetcar Named Desire,” a role considered one of the most iconic ever on the American stage. Is there pressure as an actor to take on a role that well known and so well associated with another actor? And do you take a look at the way other actors have done the role in previous performances?
MT: I knew how big the role was but I didn’t watch the movie. In fact, I didn’t watch the movie until I finished my last performance because I wanted to give Stanley my own spin. He was much more devious…more of a maniacal character. I actually prefer that version at the end of the day, more so then the movie. I mean, of course, hats off. In the movie Brando gives one of the best performances on film of all time, in my opinion. And I did the part because I really wanted to put myself out of my comfort zone and do something that was just really, really hard before going into production on “Bloodline.” I have so much respect for stage actors. Once you’re in that role…in that character….you’re there for two straight hours. There are no cuts…no one is laughing with you at the outtakes. You’re invested. And that’s the kind of discipline I wanted to have when I went after that role.

MS: Great answer. I played Moss in “Glengarry Glen Ross” several years ago..
MT: Nice!
MS:..and I purposely didn’t watch the film until the run was over. And when I watched it there was so much stuff I wish I had done…I could have stole that bit, I could have done that…but then I realized that if I had I would have just been doing an imitation of Ed Harris instead of making the role my own.
MT: (laughs) Exactly!

MS: What are you currently working on?
MT: I’m working on a few things. I have a couple of pilots right now that I’m getting ready to shoot. The biggest project I’m working on now is a crime drama that fits in the realm of “Blow,” “The Departed,” “The Town” and some other movies. It’s about a sheriff’s deputy that goes undercover in a multi-million dollar drug ring, becoming the right hand man to the guy that’s importing all of the cocaine from South America to California. He basically starts out as the shiny penny hero and becomes corrupt in the process. There’s instance after instance and decision after decision where you think “I’ll follow this guy all the way to the dark side.” I’m a big “Breaking Bad” fan and the film is akin to it, I think.

MS: Is this something you would also direct or do you just plan to appear in it?
MT: Right now I’m just concentrating on getting it green lit. I’m not opposed to having someone else direct it as long as they have great credits and a really great vision for the film. This is a project where I’d really like to concentrate on the acting portion so I probably won’t end up directing it. But there’s always the chance.

 

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Leland Orser talks about his feature film writing and directing debut “Morning”

Like any great character actor, you know you KNOW Leland Orser. From early television work in shows like “The Golden Girls,” “Cheers,” “L.A. Law” and “The X-Files” to roles in films like “Se7en,” “Saving Private Ryan” and “Pearl Harbor,” Orser has carved out an impressive notch in the Hollywood tree. Now he’s taking his considerable talents to the other side of the camera with his feature film writing and directing debut, “Morning.” Based on a short film he made in 2007, “Morning” stars Jeanne Tripplehorn (Orser’s real life wife) and Academy Award nominees Laura Linney and Elliot Gould and is scheduled to open in selected theatres on September 27.

To help spread the word about his new film, Mr. Orser took the time to talk with me about his new career move, the power of Steven Soderbergh and how dinner with Blake Edwards changed his life.

Mike Smith: “Morning” began as a short film which you’ve now expanded into a feature. Was that always your intention?
Leland Orser: It was never my intention. Even making the short was never an intention. It was just something that kind of happened. I went to the Sundance Institute a couple summers back. I went there as an actor and was very, very inspired by the experience. As I was flying back on Southwest this story just popped into my head and began telling itself to me. I asked the stewardess if she had anything to write on and she brought me a pile of airline cocktail napkins and I basically wrote out the (14) page treatment for the short film. When I got back to L.A. I showed it to some friends and they all said “let’s do this.” I shot the film in my own home and banged it out over a weekend. I came back from dropping all of the equipment off on a Monday – I had sent my wife and son to a hotel for two nights – I came back to a big, old empty house with everybody gone and realized I had no idea what to do next. All I had was a pile of Mini-DV tapes on the table in front of me. I had just finished working with Steven Soderbergh (NOTE: Mr. Orser appears in Soderbergh’s 2006 film “The Good German”)and I thought “well, he’ll know what to do.” (laughs) I picked up the phone and called his office. He had come in early and actually answered the phone himself and I said, “I just shot a short film and I don’t know what to do next.” He told me to keep the tapes away from anything warm and that I needed an editor. I told him I didn’t know any editors. He asked me where I was and I told him at home. He told me not to go anywhere. Fifteen minutes later my phone rang and it was one of his assistant editors. He said, “Steven told me to call you,” and I said, “Oh, cool. I just did this film.” He told me that he had a couple of weeks off between working on Steven’s films and came over. He ended up editing the short in the room above my garage. We took it out on the film festival circuit and had a very lovely time. It was very successful and we had a great run with it. When we returned I went and spoke with Michelle Satter, who runs the Sundance Institute for Robert Redford. She asked me what was next and I asked her what did she mean what next? What were my options? She said I could continue to tour the festival circuit and hang out with..discuss, socialize and collaborate with…other short film makers or you can use this as a calling card if you have any interest in continuing your career as a director. Or, she suggested, maybe this is a smaller part of a larger story that you want to tell. Boom! There it was. I told her that it was and she told me to go write it. And I did. Even when you’re telling a small story you need to know the big story around it. You need to know what happened before, during and after in the world you’re telling about. And you have all of those details in your mind as you’re writing the specifics of the tale you’re telling. So there it is. That’s what happened.

MS: You’ve been able to work with some great filmmakers – Steven Soderbergh, Steven Spielberg, David Fincher…did you have the opportunity to observe them at work once you realized you wanted to direct?
LO: I was doing the first part of that but not for the second part of that. I never really had aspirations or ever thought that I would want to or could do that. But I’ve always been fascinated with filmmaking and filmmakers. I’ve been so lucky to have worked with the ones I’ve worked with. I’m a question asker and an observer. You can learn a lot just by being on set as an actor. You can go back to your trailer and get on line or on the phone or you can stick around and watch…see what everybody else is doing. That’s always been my way.
MS: You’ve worked pretty steadily in both television and film. Do you have a preference as an actor?
LO: I really think the lines are blurring between the two. I think the great renaissance – the Golden Age of Film right now – is taking place on television. Filmmakers, film actors…everybody is doing something on the medium of television. And that medium is not necessarily TELEVISION anymore. It’s really the world of computers and iPads and Apple TV. I don’t have a preference. I go now where I’m wanted, for one. Where I’m asked to be. And I go where the good work is and the good people are. Sometimes you go to make money and sometimes you go to make art. There are now so many outlets and choices. There is so much happening.

MS: You not only wrote and directed “Morning,” but you also co-star. Is it hard pulling double-duty…having to concentrate on your performance as an actor and then everything else as a director?
LO: I think it’s impossible….I think it’s impossible! I did the very best that I could but I probably could have been better doing either of those two things if that was all that I was doing. I worked at length on my acting role in the film. I spent a great deal of time and I worked with people to put it into place mentally and on paper for any given day and any give scene. I could open up my acting script, which was separate from my director script, and say to myself, “I know on this day and in this scene I have been through THESE events…I’m this far into the progression of the story. I’ve ingested THIS alcohol and THIS pharmaceutical or I’ve had THIS amount of sleep. I was very, very, very specific with the goals I needed to achieve as an actor. I left some things open for those happy accidents and improvisation in the moment but I was regimented and disciplined about what I needed to bring to the day as an actor. One of my best friends was by my side basically the entire time I was making the film and he was my double as well. When I was directing a scene he would go in and stand in for me and do all of my actions so I could see where the scene worked or where it didn’t work. I could direct him and then I’d know physically what I had to do to accomplish the scene. It’s very hard to be objective and subjective at the same time.

MS: You’re leading lady in the film (Jeanne Tripplehorn) is also your leading lady in life. How was your relationship on set? Actor/director? Husband and wife?
LO: (laughs) We made rules for ourselves. Number one was that any discussions of the work would never enter the house. We have a guest room above our garage and when we began production I went up to that room and I lived there. My hours were very different from hers. We also both thought it would be a very good way of dividing the world. We would have meals together at the house when I was able to get home. We actually had a lot of discussion between us as to whether we should even do this together or not. She said that I could get any actress in Hollywood…that any actress would be crazy not to want to do this part. So I asked her if this was something she wanted to do…something she should do and something we should do together. Jeanne had traveled to New York to do some press for “Big Love” (NOTE: Ms. Tripplehorn starred for six years on the popular HBO series) and she had taken the day off to go to the Whitney Biennial Art Exhibit. She finds it very inspiring to be surrounded by new and young artists and their works. Afterwards she called me. She was very moved…very emotional…and she told me she was surrounded by art. She wondered what we were questioning because what are we if we’re not artist? It’s what we are and what we do. How can we not recognize that this film is something we are meant to do and what we should do together? That was a major turning point and we never looked back. It was a dangerous choice because the subject matter is so, so heavy. But we’ve always managed to keep our work separate from each other…to help each other and support each other through thick and through thin. To work together, in hindsight, was a very risky choice. But I know her as an actor. And what I experienced and what I witnessed on set, as you now know, took my breath away and I realized that not only is she a great actor she’s one of THE great actors. Better than most actors out there. She has such access to range and emotional depth that she can draw on and she’s so directable. She’s a director’s dream. She gets it. She understands it. And she submits herself to the process. She trusted me. She was the very first person to trust me in this role and I was very thankful that I was able to return that trust in kind.

MS: Besides Jeanne you’ve assembled an incredible cast, including a couple of Oscar nominees. Was it daunting to cast such prominent actors in your first feature?
LO: Maybe I was an idiot but I never questioned any of it when I asked. To me Laura was the doctor and I had to find her and ask her and surely she’ll understand how important she is. And it was the same thing with Elliot Gould and Jason Ritter and Kyle Chandler…those were the faces and personalities that I saw in the film and I was just so freakishly lucky that they all agreed to come aboard. But so many people did. We got help from so many different places. Kodak and Panavision and Technicolor. Steven Soderbergh introduced me to yet another film editor who agreed to come and work at a fraction of his rate. We were so very lucky. Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman at Playtone gave us their editing suites for the entire time we were editing. They didn’t allow anyone else to use the editing bays in the Playtone Offices. They gave them to us. They told us to go edit your film, make it great and then show it to us.

MS: What do you have coming up next?
LO: Once I finished the final mix on “Morning” and once we got back from all the festivals I retreated to the guest house where I had written “Morning” and sat down and had a little discussion with myself. I knew that when this movie comes out people are going to ask me what I’m doing next (laughs) so I knew I had to be ready to do something next. A story I like to tell is that many years ago Jeanne had just gotten back from doing a film with Julie Andrews (“Relative Values”)on the Isle of Man. We got a call from Julie’s assistant saying Julie would like to have you to a dinner…can we come to the beach house at 5:30 in Santa Monica and then we’ll go to the restaurant. We fully expected it to be something for the cast but when we walked into the restaurant it was empty. We were escorted to a booth in the back in which sat Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards (NOTE: Blake Edwards, whose career included such classic films as “Days of Wine and Roses,” “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Victor/Victoria” and the “Pink Panther” series passed away in December 2010. He and Julie Andrews were married for over four decades). And it wasn’t a big booth. Jeanne scooted in opposite Julie and the two of them set off together on catching up and giggling and telling stories and I was left sitting opposite Blake Edwards. My mouth went dry, my heart rate went up and I thought “are you f***ing kidding me?” How was I going to manage to get through even two minutes of the evening. He immediately put me at ease. We found out we had things in common. He had been born in Tulsa, where Jeanne is from. He had grown up in Laguna Beach, where my father is from. He had been an abalone fisherman like my father had been. He was just a normal, regular Joe and so easy to talk to. And at one point of the conversation he asked me, “do you write? Are you a writer?” I told him I wasn’t. I write in a journal, that’s it. He told me that I spoke like a writer. I hear like a writer. “You should try it some time.” I told him that I wouldn’t have the slightest idea where to start. And he said, “that’s exactly all you have to do. You just need to start.” I asked him how he wrote…if he had a process. He said he did. He said he would go off to a quiet place that was clear of all clutter. He would sit down and get very quiet. He would have his writing implements with him…I don’t know if it was a typewriter or if it was yellow pads and pencils. He said he just gets very, very quiet. He waits. And he waits. And he listens. And he said that at some point the story will begin to tell itself to him. And it was after that dinner that I had gone to Sundance to the Institute and it was on that flight back, when I was super quiet because I was probably tired and hung over, when the story of “Morning” told itself to me. So I went up to the guest house after I finished “Morning” and I said, “ok…let’s see if it happens again.” I told my very, very intense family drama…I’ve told that story. I don’t want to tell it again and that’s not the type of story I want to tell again. So I had in my mind the type of idea of the story I wanted to tell, it was just a question of is it going to come. And boom, there it was. It’s a thriller. It’s a witness to a murder and it’s a mystery which gets solved in the last couple of pages. And it really told itself to me in a pure way. I’ve worked with a couple friends of mine in the business who have helped me nip it and tuck it and deal with the industry expectations of a script of its type. It’s clean. It’s tight. It’s crackerjack…it’s ready to go. Jeanne was one of the first people I showed it to and she loved it. She’s a good judge so keep your fingers crossed!

 

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Brandon Auman talks about writing “Iron Man: Rise of Technovore”

Brandon Auman is the writer of great TV shows like “The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” and “Iron Man: Armored Adventures”. He also has done features like “Dead Space: Aftermath” and most recently “Iron Man: Rise of Technovore”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Brandon about “Iron Man: Rise of Technovore” and what we can expect next.

Mike Gencarelli: Since “Iron Man: Rise of Technovore” is animated, is the scale ever a concern when you are in the writing process?
Brandon Auman: Not really, the beauty of writing 2D is that you’re not as constrained as you are in live-action or CG animation. I really love 2D animation and I’m so glad that Japan is keeping it alive, they feel like the last bastion of hope on this front. TV Studios really want to move completely into CG and as it gets cheaper, they will. I fear 2D is a thing of the past. My favorite sections of the film are in 2D and it looks beautiful. Some may complain there is a lack of animation, but that’s very anime. Long pauses on beautiful drawings. If the paintings are cool, who cares?

MG: I loved that you incorporated The Punisher into the story; tell us about that decision?
BA: Everyone at Marvel loves the Punisher. I pushed for him early on, thinking the idea would get shot down, but everyone loved it. I was really excited; finally I get to write some Punisher action! He rarely makes appearances in TV animation, but when he does, he always comes off… well, not Punishing. More like the “Kinda” Punisher. Who can’t kill bad guys, but maybe shoot a billboard down on top of them.

MG: What do you enjoy most about working with superheroes and with the animation genre?
BA: I love everything about it. It’s just so much fun, it’s a total dream job. I haven’t really left the genre either, because now I’m story editing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for Nickelodeon. They’re sorta superheroes. Well they’re ninjas, and the stories are smaller… but it’s close.

MG: What other new projects do you have in the works for Marvel animation?
BA: I have a few things happening there. I wrote a bunch of episodes on “Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.” that I’m excited about. I get to work pretty closely with Henry Gilroy, Todd Casey and Jeph Loeb, three awesome creative guys at Marvel. I was always a big fan of Jeph’s work, so it’s really exciting, and I’ve worked with Henry many times in the past, he’s terrific.

Rob Zombie talks about writing and directing “The Lords of Salem” and new album “Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor”

Rob Zombie is one of the founding members of the band White Zombie, but is notable for his solo act which spawned hits like “Living Dead Girl” and “Dragula”. While still working in music, he turned his sites over to writing and directing films. He has written and directed films like “House of 1000 Corpses”, “The Devil Rejects”, “Halloween (2007)” and “Halloween II (2009)”. His latest film, “The Lords of Salem”, is his most real and dark film to date. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Rob about the film and also his newest solo album “Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor”.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about what or who were you major influences when you were written “The Lords of Salem”?
Rob Zombie: There wasn’t really one thing in particular. Truthfully, the biggest influence for me is that I wanted to make the type of midnight film I remember watching when I was in high school. Back in the day before you can get your hands on everything, I used to have these film books. I used to look at photos from movies like “Suspiria” or “Eraserhead”. I used to say “Fuck, I got to see these movies!” The feeling I would get when I would watch these movies was so special since they were so unique, odd and unlike anything mainstream. I wanted to make a movie that was like that. If you go to see “Lords of Salem” you are going to see something that isn’t what you wouldn’t typical expect to see at the movies. It takes it you to a whole other place. On a grand scale, that was really the inspiration that I wanted to make something like that.

MG: In terms of directing, did you learn any new tricks on this film?
RZ: Well I learned more patience, I think. It is very easy to be impatient when you are making a movie. I learned to just slow the camera down, slow the actors down and let the movie breathe. I wasn’t worried about the audience getting bored or restless, those qualities sometimes can help a movie. It is very easy to make a movie fast paced and keep people interested but sometimes that detracts from the certain mood you are trying to create. Sometimes you need the movie to drag in order to pull people down with it. That was something that I learned on this movie.

MG: The budget was $1.5 million; what was your biggest challenge working with that?
RZ: Everything! [laughs]. Everything was huge challenge. We had no money for anything. The cheapest movie that I have ever made in my life cost $7 million (which was “House of 1000 Corpses”). I was not used to be down in the no budget range. So as we were shooting, I was constantly re-writing the script and constantly changing things. So every second of the day was a challenge.

MG: The witch burning scene was very intense; tell us about shooting that scene?
RZ: We shot that whole scene very quickly, in fact it was done in one night. We had no time. Once again, I had come up with this great plan for shooting the witch burning scene but then I realized that we only had an hour to shoot. I set up one grand shot that I thought would have the most impact and then just went for it. My big goal was to not make it ever look like we didn’t have any time or money. That was what I was always trying to hide.

MG: How did you get genre legends like Patricia Quinn and Meg Foster, who had quite the transformation, on board?
RZ: It was fantastic. I have always loved Patricia Quinn because I was a huge “Rocky Horror” fan. I loved her in everything that she has done but she also hasn’t done a lot. She also hasn’t done a lot recently. But I always wanted to work with her. I had met her over dinner about 15 years ago talking about a movie that never happened, so I had always had her in my mind from day one. Meg Foster was someone who I always thought was cool and very beautiful with those piercing eyes, but I didn’t know if she would be right of this film. I wasn’t sure at first. So I got her on the phone and after talking for about an hour, I know that she would be perfect. She totally understood and got the film.

MG: Being a musician yourself; tell us about working with John 5 on the score?
RZ: He was great to work with on this film and obviously I have been working with John now for over eight years. I know how talented he is, not just as a guitar player but also a musician. It was very easy. I conveyed my ideas and what I was thinking and he executed them perfectly. He was great on this film.

MG: Tell us about the composition of The Lords music track?
RZ: That one was tricky trying to figure out what that track would be. John had worked on a few things and it wasn’t just right. I remember one day we were on the phone together, I was on the east coast and John was on the west, and we were just humming little weird melodies back and forth to each other on the phone. It was then that we found the sound that we were looking for. Neither of us can remember who came up with it first but we just knew we had it when we heard it.

MG: Horror fans are the toughest of any genre fan; what do you think they will appreciate the most within “The Lords of Salem”?
RZ: What I would appreciate most about the film is that it is different. I think that horror fans are tricky. They are all different kinds of people. Sometimes they are not the first ones to embrace something different. But again all of those films that I spoke love as a kid, those weren’t embraced at the time either. So I purposely made a film that would be a tough sell to people…but that is why I made it. I think it will be split. Some people will love it to death and some people just won’t get it.  But that is ok with me since everybody cannot get everything!

MG: Your new album “Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor” is heavy and dark; tell us about the inspiration behind this album?
RZ: Well I think the movie and album sort of played into each other. I was doing them both around the same time. I had an editing room in my house were we edited the movie. Then we moved the editing room out and moved in a recording studio. I went right from one to the other. I think the vibe of the two projects sort of melded together. I wanted both of them to be weird and unique and that was the goal for me.

MG: Where do you find time to tour, making films and also new music?
RZ: That is all I do man! Where do I find time for anything else is more the question…[laughs].

MG: Do you still plan on directing “Tyrannosaurus Rex” next? What else is in the cards?
RZ: No, that project isn’t happening anymore. What is happening next besides the two we just spoke about is that I will be doing a lot of touring. I headline the Mayhem Fest 2013 tour, which is starting in June and that will go for a while. But the next film project I got is called “The Broad Street Bullies”, which is a true life sports film about the Philadelphia Flyers… which is totally different!

Ron Shusett talks about writing films “Alien” and “Total Recall”

Ron Shusett is the writer/producer, along with Dan O’Bannon, for the original “Alien” and “Total Recall”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Ron about creating the scripts for these iconic films and also got to chat about recent “Prometheus” and “Total Recall” reboot, which was based on his original stories.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about how you got involved writing the original story for “Alien” with Dan O’Bannon?
Ron Shusett: Yep, I co-wrote that with Dan O’Bannon after he brought me the concept that he has from when he was in film school. We met and shared ideas.  I showed him a script I had done and he liked it.  He said “Your damn good, I think you can help me.  For two years in film school, no one has been able to help me get past the first act”.  I looked at the first 30 pages, which is basically what you see on the screen and he said he needed help finishing it and asked if I wanted to give it a shot.  I told him that I also had the rights to the Phillip K. Dick’s short story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale”, which turned into “Total Recall”. The short story is only one act and then it ends though. He said “you help me get the second and third act of mine (“Alien”) and I will help you with your second and third act” (“Total Recall”).  And at that moment both movies were born. We worked together on what became “Alien”.  We didn’t an agents or an attorney. We had nothing. The first place we went accepted it, Fox and it was a miracle. And the rest is history.

MG: Where did you get the inspiration for the Aliens?  Did you work a lot H.R. Giger?
RS: Those all came from a Swiss artist that has never worked on a movie, Hans Giger.  Dan found his paintings and thought he was the perfect guy to do these creatures. As we were writing the script, we would send him pages. He wanted to get into Hollywood and be a designer.  So he would design them for us as we were writing the pages. We would think up an idea, send him some pages and he would design them.  Then we reduced them and put them into the script.  They ended up looking exactly like they did in the script, which is very rare. Originally, they didn’t want to go with a first time designer.  But Ridley Scott, the director, looked at Gieger and said that his concepts were so unique that he wouldn’t want to make the movie if they didn’t use him. Ridley said “I can’t do the movie without this guy because I would always know how good it would have been”. Giger ended up winning an Oscar for special effects.

MG: With “Total Recall”, you wrote the screenplay off Phillip K. Dick’s short story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale”, how was this process different adapting from the short story?
RS: It is a totally different process and I am lucky enough to have done both in my career. It is probably a lot easier to adapt since it gives you a springboard to the start.  It gives you a gigantic creative push forward. If you have a blank page, it is harder to start from scratch even if you have a great idea. So it was hard for both of them but I enjoyed them both.  Phillip K. Dick has seven movies created from his work.  Only two of them were a success at the box office, they were “Total Recall” and “Minority Report”, both of which I worked on the scripted and produced. Not including films like “Blade Runner”, which was not a box office successful when it came out, though later becoming a cult classic. Like I before short stories, only have one or two acts tops.  So if you can’t get a great third act to match him brilliance than it is bound to fail. That was the hardest part.  It took about two/three years, just to get a proper ending for “Total Recall”. The whole “Alien” script was written faster than that. Dan and I got the first two acts of “Total Recall” writing by 1981 but we couldn’t get the third act. Then we got Paul Verhoeven and Arnold Schwarzenegger on board shortly after.

MG: Also having worked on “Dead & Buried”, “King Kong Lives” etc; what drew you to the horror genre?
RS: “Dead and Buried” was a complete original.  Obviously “King Kong” was a sequel – the third sequel in the series.  “Dead and Buried” always surprised me because it didn’t make money original but like “Blade Runner” became this cult classic after a few years.  I guess it was ahead of its time.  It was the only zombie movie, where the zombies didn’t look like zombies. I think only one thing really draws me and that is the fact that you have incredible flexibility. Anything you want to say create…you can, even whether it is believable, realistic or not. It just comes down to good craftsmanship. That is why I love the genre.

MG: With “Alien” getting “Prometheus” and “Total Recall” getting rebooting this year; can you reflect on these?
RS: Both of them were not very successful.  I didn’t work on either of them but was still awarded a story credit by the Writer’s Guild. I had no input either.  We had to use humor mixed with action for “Total Recall”, since that was what Arnold was known for. This time around they tried to do it without humor.  I guess what happened was that the audience wanted to see what they loved about the first one. With the humor stripped, even though the stories were similar, they didn’t seem to embrace it.  I did feel honored though that 22 years later, they are still using my ideas and spending over $100 million dollars on them.  “Prometheus” was 30 years after “Alien” and they still uses our ideas, we got credit for original story elements. I was also very disappointed in that film though. Like I said earlier, also touches on “Prometheus”, I think where they lost you on this film was that the first two acts are visually stunning but they couldn’t come up with a good third act. They left too many open answers that they claimed they would answer in the sequel. But you can’t do that if people don’t like the first one there will be no sequel.

Michaelbrent Collings talks about writing WWE’s “Barricade”

Michaelbrent Collings is the writer of the latest film from WWE Studios, “Barricade”. The film was released on DVD on September 25th and I recommend it highly. Michaelbrent is also a black-belt martial artist and in his past life was an attorney. Currently, he is focusing on writing full-time not just screenplays but also novels. His latest novels are called “Apparition” and “Billy: Seeker of Powers”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Michaelbrent about his his work with WWE on “Barricade” and also what else he has planned next.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you go from black-belt martial artist to attorney to writer?
Michaelbrent Collings: Geez, there’s a question whose answer could go on FOREVER. Short answers: I’ve been involved in martial arts for much of my life, dating back to the day I realized that a teen who weighed all of one hundred pounds was going to have a full life working as a doormat for bigger kids. Also, I realized that girls did not, as a rule, dig guys that they could out-bench press. Martial arts seemed like a good way to both take better care of myself and build up some seriously lacking strength. Thus I became the towering colossus of manliness I am today. As for the attorney to writer thing, I always liked writing, but never liked the idea of being “that guy.” You know, the guy who’s 40 years old and still living in his parents’ basement while trying desperately to convince girls he’s “just waiting for his big break.” So I went to law school, the last refuge of the incompetent. And as soon I started making money as a writer, I was pretty much out of there (the law thing, that is). So now I’m no longer a lawyer, just a writer. And my wife and family both assure me I’m much happier because of it.

MG: How did you get involved writing the screenplay for WWE Studios’ “Barricade”?
MBC:It was actually an original script that I took to them. I had written this ghost script called BARRICADE, and a lot of people in Hollywood liked it. It ended up going to WWE Studios, where Richard Lowell and Sharyn Steele, two of the producers there, got their hands on it. They loved it, but it wasn’t right for the studio at the time. Sharyn (who is still a great friend of mine and a peach of a gal) ended up going her own way, but Richard stayed at WWE Studios. A couple years later there was a management change at WWE Studios. The new VP walked in and told Richard that they wanted to do a ghost movie. Richard, it turned out, had more or less kept BARRICADE on his desk for the intervening years, and handed it right to the VP (another really cool guy named Steve Barnett). Steve loved it, so Richard called me in to the production company’s offices and I met with him and Steve. I think they’d probably already decided that they wanted the script at that point, but wanted to make sure I was someone they could work with. Well I already liked Richard, and Steve and I hit it off really well, so the next day I got a call that they wanted to option the script. They did so, and then they purchased it a bit later, and voila!

MG:How does the film compare to the page?
MBC:It’s different in a lot of ways. I mean, for one thing it’s a surreal experience to go from a hundred or so printed pages to an hour and a half of film that cost millions to put together. Not only that, but everyone who works on it puts their imprint on it. So when WWE Studios purchased my original script, the first thing that happened was they hired me to do a rewrite to accommodate some of the producers’ “visions” of the piece. The ending was changed a lot, due to a belief on their part that the ending I had (which was quite dark) wouldn’t be something American audiences would like. Then they hired a director, and I understand he pushed the script more toward the psychological thriller aspect, when originally it had been a 50/50 blend of psychological thriller AND ghost story. And then there were changes to accommodate production scheduling, location issues, editing, etc. etc. etc. So in the end it was nearly as much of a surprise for me to watch the finished product as it would have been for anyone else in the world.

MG:Tell us about your next film “Darkroom”?
MBC:DARKROOM is a really cool script I did that deals with a girl getting out of prison. She’s young, went to jail on a manslaughter charge, and now she lives in a halfway house during parole. As part of her parole she has to get a job, and lands as a gofer at a real estate photography company. She shows up to work on day one (the company is shooting a gloomy mansion, of course), and is told that the model they were counting on didn’t show up so she’s got to fill in. The photo people give her a change of clothes, she changes in the bathroom… and when she comes out she’s been locked into the mansion. Turns out the photo company is owned and staffed by a group of crazy siblings who tortured and killed their own mother, and now intend to reenact the fun with her. So it’s basically one of those “feel good” movie for the whole family flicks you’ll probably see on the Disney channel at some point. Ha!

MG:You have written many novels, how does it compare to doing film?
MBC:It’s totally different. I love doing both, but the way I describe it is that they’re like two different languages. Screenwriting requires an extremely high level of precision and clarity because there are only a very few words to describe characters, location, action, and dialogue. But at the same time, books are tough because you have to keep an audience’s attention for many hours of reading, as opposed to just one or two for a script. Some stories lend themselves to one or the other. I like stories that work for both, because I love to write novels of scripts and vice-versa.

MG:Tell us about your latest and upcoming novels?
MBC: My latest novels are called APPARITION and BILLY: SEEKER OF POWERS. APPARITION is a crazy-scary book about a family where the mother tries to stabe her two kids to death. The dad saves them, and the mother then turns the knife on herself. A year later, Dad and the two kids are still putting their family back together… and he starts fantasizing about killing his children. Turns out there is an otherworldly entity at work, one that feeds on the blood and death of children, and one that possesses the kids’ own parents to do the dirty work. BILLY is the other end of the spectrum: it’s a young adult fantasy that’s the second book in my bestselling BILLY SAGA. It’s about a misfit kid who discovers that his favorite teacher is a wizard and that he (the kid) may be the key to a war between two factions of magic-users. The kid may also be a weapon that destroys the entire world, so it’s definitely a high-stakes book, but with lots of fun and humor as well. And upcoming… I have a novel called HOOKED that I’m working on and it should be out before too much longer. I can’t say too much about the plot because it’s THAT fun, but I will say I hope it will be kind of the anti-TWILIGHT: teen vampires done right. No sparkles.

 

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H. Perry Horton talks about writing “Shark Week” & “2-Headed Shark Attack” with The Asylum

Perry Horton is the writer of two recent films from The Asylum, “Shark Week” & “2-Headed Shark Attack”.  Media Mikes had a chance with Perry about how he got started working with The Asylum and about his upcoming films.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about how you got involved working with The Asylum?
H. Perry Horton: In August 2010 I started my blog, Committed, dedicated entirely to Asylum films – news and reviews, interviews and profiles et cetera, as well as my own personal pitches. Basically, it was a shameless ploy to get their attention, and somehow it worked; in January 2011 they added me to their pool of writers. Three months after that, I was working on A Haunting in Salem.

MG: What was your biggest challenge working on “2-Headed Shark Attack”?
HPH: The sheer number of characters. I inherited the concept and basic set-up from the very talented Edward DeRuiter (3 Musketeers), and in my head, a semester-at-sea couldn’t just be 8 or 10 characters, there had to be enough people to justify the program, so I added a bunch more. Too many, perhaps, for development across the board, but on the bright side, it does yield possibly the highest death count in all of shark cinema history, at 26, I think.

MG: You work with sharks again with “Shark Week” also from The Asylum, tell us about working on this project?
HPH: The Asylum came to me with the concept, a sort of Hunger Games for the shark set. I thought it was a brilliant idea, and instantly wanted to get my hands on it. As far as the process went, it was quick – very, veryquick – and as such sort of a blur in my memory. I just remember throwing myself into it, wanting to satisfy what I think of as the two sides of being a shark fan – wanting to marvel at the sheer evolutionary superiority of the creatures, the genetic adaptations and instincts that make them such exceptional predators, and wanting to see them rip shit up. There are a lot of different species in the film, and I wanted to highlight each’s nefarious advantages, give each a different perilous personality.

MG: You are quite the shark expert, what do you enjoy most about working within that genre?
HPH: I don’t know that I’d consider myself a shark expert – maybe a shark-movie aficionado – I’ve just always been simultaneously fascinated and terrified by them. When I was a kid, eight or nine, I was surf fishing with an older friend in North Carolina, back where I’m from, and he got a bite on his line, big one, and started trying to reel it in but it was giving him trouble. When he tugged hard on the line, a hammerhead breached the surface not ten feet off shore. My buddy dropped the pole right there and it disappeared into the waves. Since then, I’ve been hooked (pardon the awful pun). Sharks are the pinnacle of evolution, the absolute fulfillment of biology’s potential, they’re consumption machines, it’s all they do, and they are well-equipped for the task. I can’t think of a more primal creature on the planet. And then there’s the sea: I could be making this up, but we know more about our solar system than we do the sea. It covers 3/4th of the planet and contains such a wide variety of hazards they’re practically innumerable. You put those elements together – a singled-minded killing machine with zero natural predators and the most unexplored and hostile environment on Earth – you’re gonna come up a winner every time.

MG: Tell us about why you created Committed, a fanblog about The Asylum?
HPH: I’m a fan, first and foremost, I just love whatthey do. I’ve always been a B-movie guy, and for my money, they’re making the best ones out there. I started the blog because I couldn’t believe there wasn’t one already, and because I wanted people to share in my enthusiasm for Asylum films. For all the general crap people may sling just because of the type of films they make, how inexpensively or quickly they make them or who’s in them or whatever, there’s at least twice as much to love about every single one of their films, and I wanted to share those things. And also I really, really wanted to write for them.

MG: What is your all-time favorite film from The Asylum and why?
HPH: Anything that reads “Screenplay by H. Perry Horton.” Other than that, Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus is the film that really ignited my love for The Asylum. But I come at the question from a couple different angles. As a fan, I dig the Mega Shark movies, the found-footage stuff like Alien Origin, certainly the sex comedies like Bikini Spring Break; while as a writer I’m drawn to stuff like Paul Bales’ Nazis at the Center of the Earth and Sherlock Holmes, Geoff Meed’s I Am Omega and 6 Guns, Jose Prendes’ Haunting of Whaley House and Jared Cohn’s Born Bad – I could go on for paragraphs – but basically stuff that I’ve been not only impressed by, but humbled. So I guess the short answer is, all of them?

MG: What do you have planned next?
HPH: “Shark Week” premieres on SyFy Saturday, August 4th at 9 p.m. then bows on DVD a few weeks later on the 28th. I have a disaster film that’s in production at the moment, water-based, and an iron or two in the fire beyond that. I’m a superstitious sort of writer in that I don’t like to discuss projects before they’re in production. I’m a big believer in jinxes.

Amy Sorlie talks about writing shark thriller “Dark Tide”

Amy Sorlie is the writer of the new shark thriller “Dark Tide”, which stars Halle Berry. “Dark Tide” was the first screenplay from Amy and she took out some time with Media Mikes to discuss working on the film.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about the origin of the project “Dark Tide”?
Amy Sorlie: From a very young age, I was always very fascinated with sharks, especially Great Whites. They’re extremely mysterious creatures and provoke a fear unlike anything else. Like so many others, I was deeply affected by Spielberg’s JAWS and wanted to try and tap into the fear and write a really authentic shark film.

MG: What did you do in order to research sharks?
AS: Halle Berry plays a shark biologist who studies Great Whites. Through knowing their mannerisms and behavior, she has cornered the market on being able to swim outside the cage with them. I did quite a bit of research in the first initial drafts, but it was fun research for me and something I’ve always been interested in. I did a cage dive at the Farallon Islands and that was an amazing experience. I already had a lot of shark knowledge, so most of the research was in dealing with the locations and setting of the film.

MG: This was your first script, what was your biggest challenge?
AS: I think the biggest challenge was just taking it all in when Halle came on board and wrapping my head around the movie actually happening. The ramp up to production was really difficult because it fell apart a number of times and then everything happened so fast. That age old saying is true – once they pay you, they can do whatever they want. I think something that’s hard about the first one is that you’re trying to please everyone while attempting to protect the script, which is a balancing act. In the end, you just have to let go because some things are just out of the writer’s control.

MG: How do you feel the script was represented in the film?
AS: Ya know, this is a tough one. On one hand, I ‘m happy the film got made, but on the other, it’s always really difficult to see your work changed. It’s something every screenwriter will experience in their career and it would be dishonest to say I’m 100% happy with the final script. I think it had a lot of problems and the writer they brought in to do the production rewrite really didn’t have a strong understanding of the material. And unfortunately, some of the financial people involved were making creative choices and that’s always kind of a recipe for disaster. That said, it’s my first produced movie and I learned a great deal of what to do, what not to do and what’s out of my hands. I get compliments on my original screenplay all the time, so at the end of the day, that makes me really happy.

MG: What do you have planned next?
AS: I’m about to hit the market with a new script I just finished. It’s a really fun heist in the vein of Mr. & Mrs. Smith. I’m also shopping a cable pilot and working on a wilderness thriller with producer Matt Baer.

 

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