Tuesday, March 10, 2009


That's where the good stuff is happening these days.

And a lot of it, too.


Monday, February 02, 2009

The Social Department

Finally caught up on some movies without guilt about sitting in a theatre, eating popcorn & having fun. Hey, it's my job! The tail of 2008 felt as the second act in a good screenplay: fun & games, midpoint, ordeal and reward. January started off like a good Third Act. Fast, furious, promising.

The Story Department is booming and I am now helping more filmmakers than ever before. I am proud to have my first Pro Pack Elite client: Writer/director Haifaa Al Mansour is the only female film director from Saudi Arabia, one of the country's best-known and most controversial directors. With her I will be working on her screenplay WAJDA (working title), which secured a place in the Berlinale Talent Campus at the Berlin Film Festival.

This is a montage-style, birds eye overview of last year and I'm definitely leaving out hugely important stuff. Some of it is not your business anyway! (LOL)

FUNDING AND OTHER SUCCESSES: Early in the year, two of my clients were awarded AFC Development funding. The one client who had 'defected' to Michael Hauge was not so lucky (LOL). Speaking of Michael: in May, a handful of other clients joined me in the 5-day inspirational Michael Hauge development workshop organised by Inscription. Thank you Marcus West for making this possible!

PRODUCTIONS: In 2008 I completed two screen productions: Rodney March's fabulous animation TIN CAN HEART (a 'mini Wall-E', which we completed just before the release of the Pixar feature) and a documentary interview with legendary Hollywood designer and fellow Sydneysider Ron Cobb. The latter was commissioned by the CREATIVE MASTERS FORUM, where I hosted discussions with Ron Cobb and top cinematographer Don McAlpine.

THE SPRING SEMINARS - I'm missing Miritana, Antonio, Mellanie, Jacob, Daniel, Mark, Nicole, Ron, Michelle, Ngaire, Carlo, Sharon, Linda, Vee, Susanne, Thomas, Nick, Pam, etc., all participants of
the Spring Seminars. Sign up now for Premium membership for $89 and receive an early bird discount code that won't expire in 2009.
THE GREAT DEBATE - In a stroke of insanity, I accepted Billy Marshall Stoneking's challenge to go head-to-head on Structure vs. Character in The Great Debate. Billy did his trademark performance and I focused on the learnable craft skills. The debate re-focused my thinking: as Jack Feldstein concurs, structure is indeed a more manageable and tangible approach.
WORDCAMP AUSTRALIA - If you were at the Great Debate wondering about the "W" pin on my shirt: I was not supporting the ex-US President; this is the WordPress logo. I recently held a 'lightening talk' at WordCamp Australia (Photo's: http://ma.tt). WordPress is the powerful open source technology behind my blog and I love it. Thank you WP!

SPONSORSHIPS - The Story Department was a proud sponsor of the Stinkwater Film Festival, the WIFT Mentorship Program and the AZA film festival in Greece. Check out this little making-of clip in which the Story Department's parent company OZZYWOOD Films features (with its a slightly distorted logo).

Finally, a big thank you to the interns who helped me throughout the year: Lauren, Susanne, Yvonne, Iona and Tanya.


In the introduction I bragged a bit. Now, here's some stuff you might actually benefit from:

Jack Feldstein has written a bitterly funny four-part series about the psychology of the screenwriter. Some of it can be extrapolated to filmmakers in general, I think. Not sure if that's a good thing... I have a whishlist of some other people I respect in the industry and who I'm hoping are willing to contribute to the blog. Feel free to suggest someone from the screenwriting or filmmaking community you would like me to grill on story for the screen.

- All existing Premium Subscribers will receive a free extension of their membership until 31 December 2009. For some this means an extension with more than half a year. And for new subscribers I am offering the Valentine Special of 50% discount, ending on 14 February. All subscribers will also enjoy a never expiring Early Bird rate for all workshops and seminars I organise throughout 2009.

STORY WORKSHOP - Join me for the first story workshop of the year! At this point, with more than two weeks left to go, we have no less than 29 confirmed guests at my scriptwriting workshop
on 21 February at the Rex Centre. So hurry to secure your seat! It will be the largest workshop I've ever conducted and yes: I may be nervous! The event is organised by Ana Tiwary and her team at the WIFT NSW's Media Mentorship for Women. The workshop will kick off a new series of seminars and workshops about such topics as essential screen story, hero's journey, adaptation and script perfection.

Welcome to this year's interns: Cleo, Ursula, Marian, Francesca and Margit. I also look forward to mentoring Nicole Tanzabel through the WIFT MMW program.


GET CONNECTED - Have you noticed I moved from Outlook to Gmail? It happened when the following icons appeared in my signature: LinkedinFacebookBloggerTwitterPlaxo. If you have accounts with LinkedIn, Facebook, Blogger, Twitter or Plaxo, it would be great to connect. Just click on them (sign up if you need/wish) and add me as a contact.
TWITTER - Of the social network media family, Twitter seems to be the fastest growing sprout. I like the 140 character limitation of the messages. Can you fit the logline for your film in a tweet? Perhaps you should work on that.

TSD BLOG AND GROUP - On the Story Department Group
on Facebook you can socialise, discuss and learn. With the closing of the AWG Bulletin Board, this might be an alternative. Go to Facebook and bookmark the page. I have started a discussion looking for the last truly great Australien Movie. Keen to hear which movie you remember to fall in that category...


My way of celebrating Australia Day was to get my blogs back up-to-date.

And to review Australia.

It now looks like the film has done pretty good business in Australia and overseas, not in the US. Unfortunately the latter is the market where the film should have recouped its investment, so the other territories could help going into profit.

America is still all about 'opening' (i.e.: making the money in the opening weekend), while at home the film has had the opportunity to grow. I would imagine Fox has an arrangement with the exhibitors to keep the film on for a minimum number of weeks at a minimum number of screenings per day.

I went to see it in its fourth week and the theatre was full. Although I liked it, Australia wasn't by far my favourite film of 2008. This honour probably went to Iron Man, which I preferred over The Dark Knight (although the latter did deserve some oscar nods). But I missed a few big ones last year.

So yes, I worked on 26 January. I will celebrate Australia Day on 25 September, the day I invaded Australia back in 2001.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Creative Master Ron Cobb

Did you know the story at the basis of what later became E.T. started with a pitch to Spielberg at a Paris hotel? On Friday I was sitting opposite the very man who pitched to Spielberg back in the late seventies. I listened to that same pitch. One of those moments you don't lightly forget...

The man sitting opposite me (and Spielberg) was Ron Cobb, who worked in a completely different capacity on other movies such as Alien, Back to the Future, The Abyss and Southland Tales (the last movie by Donnie Darko director Richard Kelly). Next week, Ron will be at the AFTRS Sydney screening theatre for the first Creative Masters Forum.

Now, why am I telling you all this? (prepare for the shameless plug)

Because I produced a documentary interview with Ron and I'll be hosting two sessions at the Creative Masters Forum, which is all about Ron's life and work. Legendary Australian cinematographer Don McAlpine will also be part of one of the sessions and I'll be talking with Rod March, co-writer and director of my latest 3D animation TIN CAN HEART. This film will have its world premiere on the launch night of the conference.

If you like the sound of all this, but your focus is more on writing and less on the design side of movies, here is an offer you cannot refuse:

Book the four Story Dept. Spring Seminars at full price now, and attend the Creative Masters Forum with Ron Cobb at no additional cost. This is a bonus valued at $990.

Details are below.

If it's not for you, please pass it on to your scifi geek friend.



Join us for the first Creative Masters Forum (www.creativemastersforum.com), on Tuesday 21 October at the new AFTRS Sydney screening theatre in the Entertainment Quarter.

The day focuses on the legendary writer, designer, concept artist Ron Cobb and among the forum participants are other Australian masters such as cinematographer Don McAlpine.

Ron will be talking about his life and career and answering questions during two public sessions, hosted by myself (Karel Segers). I also produced a feature interview documentary on Ron of which all delegates will receive a copy.

This week only, The Creative Masters Forum and The Story Dept. are offering an exclusive double ticket. For $660 you will be able to attend the full day conference plus the four Story Department Spring seminars. This package is valued at $1,550 if booked individually.

As a writer, Ron wrote an episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE and he sold an idea to Steven Spielberg that later became E.T.. He directed the 1992 feature film GARBO.

But Ron is best known for his art, which has had a profound influence on modern popular culture through his work with the likes of Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Ridley Scott & Jim Cameron. His artistic talents have been commissioned by these iconic directors to assist them developing their vision from concept to creation, and ultimately to the big screen.

Ron Cobb's screen credits include ALIEN, CONAN THE BARBARIAN, RAIDERS OF THE LAST ARK, BACK TO THE FUTURE, ALIENS, THE ABYSS and many other classic science fiction movies.

Details of the conference are here: http://www.creativemastersforum.com.
Details of the screenwriting seminars are here: http://storydr.com/story-sydney
Book the seminars before Sunday 19/10 and get the double package (value £$1,550) for only $660.

Phone: +61 (0)407 955 555
Email: karel@ozzywood.com
Web: www.storydr.com