Oscars 2016 – Academy Awards

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With the Golden Globes done and dusted for the year, we have the Oscars (Academy Awards) to look forward to.

Here is the list of nominees, and my guesses.

Please note, most of these are not the films I want to win, and are merely who I think will win.

Best Actor

Nominees: Bryan Cranston (Trumbo), Matt Damon (The Martian), Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant), Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs), Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)

My Prediction: Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)

Best Actress

Nominees: Cate Blanchett (Carol), Brie Larson (Room), Jennifer Lawrence (Joy), Charlotte Rampling (45 Years), Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)

My Prediction: Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees: Christian Bale (The Big Short), Tom Hardy (The Revenant), Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight), Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies), Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

My Prediction: Tom Hardy (The Revenant)

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees: Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight), Rooney Mara (Carol), Rachel McAdams (Spotlight), Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl), Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)

My Prediction: Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)

Directing

Nominees: Adam McKay (The Big Short), George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road), Alejandro G Inarritu (The Revenant), Lenny Abrahamson (Room), Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)

My Prediction: Alejandro G Inarritu (The Revenant)

Film Editing

Nominees: The Big Short, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Spotlight

My Prediction: The Revenant

Foreign Language Film

Nominees: Embrace of the Serpent, Mustang, Son of Saul, Theeb, A War

My Prediction: No guess

Original Score

Nominees: Bridge of Spies, Carol, The Hateful Eight, Sicario, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

My Prediction: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Picture

Nominees: The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Room, Spotlight

My Prediction: The Martian or The Revenant

Production Design

Nominees: Bridge of Spies, The Danish Girl, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant

My Prediction: Mad Max: Fury Road

Visual Effects

Nominees: Ex Machina, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

My Prediction: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Adapted Screenplay

Nominees: The Big Short, Brooklyn, Carol, The Martian, Room

My Prediction: The Martian

Original Screenplay

Nominees: Bridge of Spies, Ex Machina, Inside Out, Spotlight, Straight Outta Compton

My Prediction: Straight Outta Compton

Animated Feature Film

Nominees: Anomalisa, Inside Out, Shaun the Sheep, Boy and the Wild, When Marnie Was There

My Prediction: Inside Out

Cinematography

Nominees: Carol, The Hateful EightMad Max: Fury RoadThe RevenantSicario

My Prediction: The Hateful Eight or The Revenant

Costume Design

Nominees: Carol, Cinderella, The Danish Girl, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant

My Prediction: Mad Max: Fury Road or The Revenant

Documentary Feature

Nominees: Amy, Cartel Land, The Look of Silence, What Happened Miss Simone?, Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

My Prediction: No guess

Documentary Short Subject

Nominees: Body Team 12, Chau Beyond the Lines, Claude Lanzmann, A Girl in the River, Last Day of Freedom

My Prediction: No guess

Makeup and Hairstyling

Nominees: Mad Max: Fury Road, The 100-year-old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, The Revenant

My Prediction: Either Mad Max: Fury Road or The Revenant

Original Song

Nominees: Earned It (50 Shades of Grey), Til It Happens To You (The Hunting Ground), Writings On The Wall (Spectre), Manta Ray (Racing Extinction), Simple Song 3 (Youth)

My Prediction: Writings On The Wall (Spectre)

Animated Short Film

Nominees: Bear Story, Prologue, Sanjay’s Superteam, We Can’t Live Without Cosmos, World of Tomorrow

My Prediction: No guess

Live Action Short Film

Nominees: Ava Maria, Day One, Everything Will Be Okay, Shok, Stutterer

My Prediction: No guess

Sound Editing

Nominees: Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Sicario, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

My Prediction: The Revenant

Sound Mixing

Nominees: Bridge of Spies, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

My Prediction: The Revenant

 

7 Great Writing Websites and Blogs

When you’re writing, whether it is a short story, novel, screenplay, etc., it is important to know you are not alone.

Not only are there a lot of online forums and real-life communities that are eager to discuss and critique your work, but there are websites and blogs that can give you great tips.

*All of these sites are FREE.*


Discussion & Critique

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All of these forums are up-to-date, with writing tips, publishing help, and forums specific to genres.

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You can talk with other writers, hear about upcoming news and events, and they even hold some competitions and challenges.


Tips and Tricks

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The website layout might not be the most appealing, and it is very cluttered, but it is filled with fantastic information. It features articles by many authors, and there are tips for every area of your writing.


Writing Prompts

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Numerous times throughout the day, iAuthor posts picture and word prompts. Whether you use them in your stories, or as an exercise to get your brain warmed-up, you can share with others and hear their feedback.


Competitions

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Every year, Text Publishing hold their Text Prize. The categories are ‘Young Adult’ and ‘Children’, with their first prize a publishing contract with a whopping $10,000 advance against royalties.

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I haven’t used this site before, but I plan to. Getting your writing published is very hard, so it might be worth your while to enter some competitions.

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National Novel Writing Month takes place annually in November. The goal is to write 50,000 words, getting one step closer to completing your writing project. Not only can it help you stay on-track, but you can chat with others and help each other.


Have you found a great writing website or blog? Let me know below!

Writing How-To: Character Profiles

Whether you’re writing a short story, television series, movie, novel, etc., you are going to have to complete more than one character profile.

Over the years, I have completed MANY of them, and have collated a well-rounded list of character qualities to help you decide who your character is.

CLICK BELOW TO DOWNLOAD DOCUMENT:

Character Profile notes


If you can’t download the file, here are the profile notes:

CHARACTER NAME:

AGE:

ETHNICITY:

DESCRIPTION (EYE COLOUR, HAIR COLOUR, HAIR STYLE, HEIGHT, WEIGHT, BUILD, ETC.):

STYLE OF DRESS:

PHYSICAL FLAWS, ABNORMALITIES OR DISABILITIES:

SIGNIFICANT RELATIONSHIPS:

WORST MEMORY:
BEST MEMORY:

QUIRKS AND MANNERISMS:

WHAT DO THEY BRING TO THE WRITING PROJECT/HOW ARE THEY DIFFERENT FROM OTHER CHARACTERS:

WHAT PART OF THEIR PERSONALITY CAN/SHOULD CHANGE:

DO THEY WANT TO CHANGE:

WHAT ARE THEIR LITTLE, SOMETIMES UNREASONABLE, FEARS:

WHAT ARE THEY SCEPTICAL OF, AND WHY:

RELIGION/CULTURE/TRADITIONS:

WHAT DO THEY DO ON THEIR DOWN-TIME:

WHO IS/ARE THEIR BESTFRIEND/S:

WHO IS/ARE THEIR ENEMY/IES:

SKILLS:

HOBBIES:

FAVOURITE FOOD:

LEAST FAVOURITE FOOD:

FAMILY (PARENTS, SIBLINGS, ETC.):

FRIENDS:

PETS:

LIFE-SHAPING EVENTS AND THEIR LONG-TERM EFFECTS:

HAPPY/SAD CHILDHOOD:

EDUCATION:

OCCUPATION:

INTERNAL CONFLICTS:

EXTERNAL CONFLICTS:


Don’t worry if you can’t answer all of these questions yet, some of it will be decided as you go along.

Let me know how you go.


Make sure you also check out my other Writing Tips and Tricks:

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Writing How-To: Format a Script/Screenplay

If you love writing, then write. Things like formatting don’t matter until you’ve put pen to paper.

This post is about the technical formatting of your screenplay/script. I will write another post soon about what to put in your script, and how to use proper terminology.

For those that are ready, here is my step-by-step tutorial Writing How-To: Format a Script/Screenplay. I usually use a program called Movie Magic Screenwriter by Write Brothers, but I will be showing you using Word, because it’s free and still easy. I will be using a Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Band Candy script as examples throughout (don’t worry, I won’t put any major spoilers in it).

You can do it in any order, but I will be going from front to back.

Step One

TITLE PAGE

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Title and Names:
Courier New 12pt, centred, two inches (6 ‘enters’ from top margin, title in bold (sometimes underlined), names clear formatting.

Contact Info:
Courier New 12pt, flush right. Name, address, email address (professional), phone number

Step Two

CAST LIST

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Title:
Courier New 12pt, centred, two inches (6 ‘enters’ from top margin, title in bold (sometimes underlined)

Names:
Justified, clear formatting
*Regular cast (for television series) goes first, then guest stars.*

STEP THREE

SET LIST

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Title:
Courier New 12pt, centred, two inches (6 ‘enters’ from top margin, title in bold (sometimes underlined)

Text:
‘Set List’ underlined, centred
‘Interiors’ and ‘Exteriors’ underlined, justified
Rest in justified, clear formatting
*Interiors first, then Exteriors*

STEP FOUR

ACT ONE or TEASER – Page 1

Television shows have a short section at the start to introduce the main story of the episode. Films just begin with Act One.

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Title:
Courier New 12pt, centred, underlined
*Title no longer on screenplay/script pages after this*

Text:
‘Teaser’ centred, capitals
‘Interior’ or ‘Exterior’ capitals, justified
Scene, character, and action description flush left, clear formatting
Character name in capitals in description first time mentioned
Character name (dialogue header) capitals, left indent (6 ‘tab’ from left margin)
Dialogue centred, left indent (3 ‘tab’ from left margin), 10cm long

STEP FIVE

END OF ACT ONE or TEASER

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Text:
‘Fade to Black’ or ‘Black Out’ flush left, capitals
‘End Of…’ centred, capitals


So, there you go. This is how you format a screenplay/script using Word and no template. Templates are easier to use – programs are better, though – so decide wisely.

Writing How-To: Plot and Structure Plan – SIMPLE version

Over the last fifteen or so years, I have dedicated myself to researching new writing (short story, novel, script) tips, tricks, and techniques. So, naturally, I want to share them with you all.

Some of these tips will be from my own experience, some from research, and some from my university studies.

Let me begin by saying these structure plans are not a ‘must do’. Yes, they are how the vast majority of novels and screenplays are written, but writing is a creative form and can always be beautiful when done uniquely. This is the simple version (in-depth version still to come). For examples throughout, I will be using Speed (1994) – this means there will be SPOILERS!

1. Believable/Sympathetic lead character

Each story needs to begin with the introduction of the lead character and the world of the story. The majority of lead characters need to garner sympathy from the audience. If we feel bad for them when they are being targeted by the bad guys, we will root for them. (i.e. Jack Traven and Harry Temple are L.A. SWAT officers. Straight away we see them in action, and acknowledge them as the good guys. When Jack shoots Harry to get to bomber-Howard, there is humour, a likeable emotion. We like them, therefore we root for them.)

2. Urgent/Difficult problem

This is where the action really takes off. Our lead character must be affected by an urgent and difficult problem. Not every problem the lead character will face is evident at this point, but it sets up the antagonist. (i.e. Bomber-Howard contacts Jack, and sets up the premise: “There’s a bomb on a bus. Once the bus goes 50 miles an hour, the bomb is armed. If it drops below 50, it blows up.”)

3. Attempts to overcome the problem

This is where the majority of the story/novel/screenplay takes place. Imagine a cliff with jagged rises. Each plateau is another problem. There are no real limits to how many problems your story needs, but each one needs to keep progressing the story. (i.e. Speed (1994) contained many problems for Jack to overcome. They include – not in order because I can’t remember – getting onto the bus that has already reached the bomb activation limit, passenger with gun and subsequent shot driver, navigating in heavy traffic without slowing, getting passengers off, etc.)

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4. Climax/Last stand

This can either be a continuation of the action – one thing leading to the next and never letting up or giving the lead character time to breath and recover, or almost like an after-thought – such as in Speed (1994) where Jack and Annie think the event is over only to have to face one last, major, problem. This problem needs to be more threatening than the others. The lead character doesn’t even need to be entirely successful (though it is the norm), but it is the end of the conflict.

5. Resolution

The end of the story needs to almost mirror the introduction. It will show how the world of the story has changed, and how our lead character has grown from the experience.

So, this is the simple version of the Plot and Structure Plan. I will be going through the in-depth version soon, but this version is still great for beginners.