Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Inspiration, Motivation and Perspiration

So, I agreed to read Richard Walter’s new book, Essentials Of Screenwriting. I had hopes of writing a nice, lengthy book review complete with quotes and referenced pages. Well, that all went to hell.
Instead, I found myself knee deep in revision work; of course, thanks to Richard Walter. You see, I only got a few chapters in before that writer-thingy-person inside of me kept banging the crap out of the inside of my head going, “Hey, what are you waiting for, a freaking invitation?” - she’s sassy that way. Anyway, all it took was one line and I was off in La La Land for Writers, otherwise known as inspiration. The line:

Whenever a writer sits down before a blank paper or glowing pixels, they should write down their own personal story.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Armchair Film School: Guest Blog

By Richard Walter
Among my favorite movies is Sweet Smell of Success, screenplay by legendary playwright Clifford Odets collaborating with Oscar-winning screenwriter (North by Northwest among many splendid films) Ernest Lehman. Tony Curtis, in the most brilliant performance of his career, plays NYC publicist Sid Falco, who is always sucking up to the unethical publicity power broker, newspaper columnist J.J. Hunsecker (did these writers know how to name characters or what?) played by Burt Lancaster.
Falco’s posture is always hunched against the cold of the New York winter night; he never wears a coat because this enables him forever to avoid tipping the coat room girls in the nightclubs where he plies his trade.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

FYI For Fellow Screenwriters

I was forwarded the following information that may be of interest to screenwriters looking to get professional feedback on their scripts:

Is your screenplay ready to sell? Enter the Richard Walter Online Review Program to win a chance to find out!

UCLA Professor Richard Walter asserts that one of the biggest mistakes writers make is to market their scripts before they’re truly ready. If you read Richard’s new book, Essentials of Screenwriting, and post an online review of it on, your own blog, Facebook page or favorite user review site (and send the full review and the link to where it appears online to ), you will be entered into a weekly drawing to win a free read of your script by Richard. If he deems it ready, he’ll refer it to a potential representative or directly to a production company. If he feels it is not ready, he’ll send you a letter in which he cites its essential strengths and identifies those issues that in his view require further consideration.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Richard Walter to Guest Blog

Imagine my shock when I discovered that someone was actually reading this blog. A few weeks ago, I was approached about the possibility of having UCLA Professor Richard Walter featured on It Is What It Is. Well, that was a no-brainer.

In keeping with my Armchair Film School Review, I asked Richard to discuss which films he felt were essential viewing for writers and filmmakers. In the next day or two, I will be posting his guest blog. To the loyal five readers, please check back here in a few days.

Also, I will be spending the next few weeks poring over the pages of Richard’s new book, Essentials of Screenwriting. Anyone who has followed this blog from the beginning (no, really, anyone?) knows that I truly believe in gathering an arsenal of tools when it comes to the writing process and filmmaking. I consider myself a life-long learner, and will never pass up an opportunity to learn something new (or spend some quiet time alone with a book - I LOVE books).

So, check back in a few days for Richard Walter’s guest blog, and be on the lookout for my review of his new book, Essentials of Screenwriting.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Armchair Film School #4

A word before I post my latest Armchair Film Review. My reviews do NOT follow the typical structure of many film reviews, where the critic provides detailed scene examples. I’ve strayed away from providing too many scene details, as I believe that it has the potential to ruin a thoroughly enjoyable viewing. There have been several occasions where I have read a review and then watched the film, only to have the impact of certain scenes dulled because I knew exactly what to expect or, even worse, was influenced by the critic who may have loved or loathed that particular scene.
I offer these reviews as a way of introducing films that people may want to add to their future viewing queue. My two cents belong in only my pocket, and won’t buy you very much. One man’s treasure trove is another’s waste deposit. Please feel free to offer your own thoughts on the films I’ve reviewed. The biggest goal for me is to learn from these movies, and feedback is a valuable learning tool.
The Lover
Rating: R
Genre: Foreign Drama
Dir: Jean-Jacques Anode
Length: 103 min
Year: 1992
Summary: This Oscar-nominated film explores the coming-of-age of a fifteen-year-old French girl sent off to boarding school in 1929 Saigon.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Tell me, why must Mr. Smith keep making repeat trips? Did he not get the memo?

Art imitating life? Life imitating art?

Nope... it’s just life.

I recently watched this classic with my 14-year-old son, who states he might want to travel that political road, which has been known to take the Mr. Smiths of the world on a bumpy ride through rough terrain.

At first, I wondered if he’d “get” the film, but as he watched with genuine interest - admittedly more than I’d seen him do with Transformer 2 - I began to wonder. Had the Mr. Smiths of the world been exposed in their youth to the duality of man’s nature? Had they seen what really stood behind the curtain once it was pulled back by that innocent little pup? Or, were all those messages packaged in tales of mischief and discoveries; journeys and adventures; laughter and tears lost on the innocence of mere babes? Was it, and is it, to this day, just pure entertainment?

Can it be, my dear Mr. Frost, that all the roads are now a packed parking lot of passive travelers?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

It Hurts Sooooo Good

I saw The Hurt Locker when it first came out - better yet, when a theater near me was willing to take a chance on not filling every single seat with some bang-bang-blow-it-all-to-pieces-with-as-much-visual-effects-that-money-can-buy- Megabuster. I must admit, the main reason I was so eager to see this film was because of its director, Kathryn Bigelow. A war film directed by a female was too good to pass up. However, my enthusiasm was kept a bit at bay by a creeping fear that the film would mimic many war films with the in-your-face, “shock-and-awe” approach to filmmaking. Needless to say, I purchased my movie ticket with crossed fingers, making my way to an echo-filled, empty theater (no surprises there).