Tag Archives: john august

Preacher, the movie

24 Jan

After looking through Carl’s comic book/graphic novel collection and mining V for Vendetta, Sin City (I worked on that one!), 300, and Watchmen, the movie industry has finally latched onto Preacher for their next big screen adaptation, one of the comic series that I’ve actually read.

Sam Mendes (American Beauty) is attached to direct, which is a good thing, and John August is writing the screenplay. Nothing else is set, which means it could very easily not ever get made. If it does though, it’s potentially great. John August can write great things (Go) when not interfered with. He can also write merely mediocre things (Charlie and The Chocolate Factory), so we’ll have to wait and see.

On writing, striking, stealing, selling, buying, and copying. And profit?

11 Nov

The writer’s strike is making my daily blog reading more interesting since both John August (Go, Big Fish) and Ken Levine (Cheers, Frasier, MASH) have been writing about it almost daily.

The only (almost) compelling case I’ve heard against the writers is that when they are hired to write a script there is nothing in the contract about ownership. In other words, let’s say I am hired to write a movie about a boy and a girl. I do it, turn the script in and get paid for my script, but I don’t own the boy or the girl. If the movie is then made, and the studio then shows the movie online I am owed nothing because I don’t own the movie or anything in it. That’s the argument anyway.

This is one thing (the main thing, I think) that the writers are striking about. If the studios are making money by showing my boy and girl movie online, aren’t I owed residuals? The Writers Guild thinks so. While this is mildly interesting it strikes me as a conflict created entirely by lawyers.

Personally, as someone who is not a member of the writing guild, but may be someday, or in any case considers himself to be a writer, I think there’s a much bigger and more important question to be asking. How can I get people to pay for the media I create?

Traditionally this was easy because the only way to get media (a movie, or a tv show, or a song for example) was to pay for it – to buy it from the studio or record label or television broadcaster. This is no longer true. The internet changes the rules. Media is now free. So, given that anyone can experience the media* I create for free, how can I get them to pay for it?

I have this idea for an internet show. The episodes would be short YouTube videos. Anyone could watch them for free. If it catches on, if it gets a really large audience of regular viewers, there is potential money there since people do sometimes pay for what they like. There is no precedent for how to make this money however. How much of that regular audience is going to pay me for something they’re used to getting (and still can get) for free?
Will they pay me for merchandise (like T-shirts) that relate to the show? Will they pay me for a DVD of the episodes? If I make a DVD of the episodes and one person buys it that person could rip it and make it a free download online. Will anyone else pay me for the DVD?

How can I get people to pay me for media I’m making when they could be/are getting it for free? Should they?

* note that this really only applies to media that can be duplicated. The internet has not made a way to freely re-distribute an art installation with integrated live performances.

Writing in the Digital Age – how about learning in the digital age?

10 Oct

John August, screenwriter and director (Go, Big Fish, The Nines), has a very informative blog where he just posted the transcript to a speech he recently gave called “Writing in the Digital Age.” Some choice quotes are below, but I recommend reading the whole thing.

“as more aspects of our lives are conducted online, how we present ourselves in writing will only get more important.”

“The internet has billions of readers. What it needs are writers who write with authority.”

“No matter what career you end up choosing, or what career is chosen for you by fate, you will be a writer for the rest of your life. As the digital age accelerates, I’m convinced that writing is going to get more important each year. It’s not a noun anymore. It’s not the term papers and the memos and the screenplays. Writing is a verb. It’s an action. It’s a crucial way in which we process the world around us.”

Reading this brought to the forefront of my mind thoughts I’ve been having recently about the state of learning/information/knowledge in “the digital age.” The boy I tutor has an iPhone and a laptop, which means that he’s able to connect to the internet virtually anywhere and at anytime. That means he carries the entirety of wikipedia and infinite google search results in his pocket. If he carries all that information there, what does he need to carry in his head?

I don’t have some climactic revelation to all of this, but I do think it’s fundamentally changing something about the purpose of learning, or at least what is fundamentally important to learn. On another angle, if the space in our brains that we spent on memorizing facts can be used for something else, (since the iPhone/internet can be used as a repository for facts) what can we do with this newfound brainspace?