Screenwriting Review of ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ and Update!


Hey everybody! Been busy writing a lot since I want to try and wrap a few more drafts before the end of the year (in other words going to have sporadic absences but I am around – just not posting as much!) Also in-between all that managed to watch ‘Catching Fire’ last night!

From a screenwriting point-of-view, nonstop heart pounding conflict, a great ensemble cast and a solid story made this adaptation far better than the book… not to mention I will always like ‘Movie’ Katniss more than ‘Book’ Katniss. My only gripe was not enough interactions between K and Peet (WHY NOT? Aren’t they the twi-hard generation couple in this franchise? Waay better than the BEJ love triangle…if you are not sure what BEJ is, here’s a hint: it’s another famous book-movie franchise we are all too familiar with)

Not much spoilers to give really – except in my humble non-expert opinion, it was a much more imaginative, improved version of the book. If I were writing a book and getting it made, these are the guys I would be honoured to work with. Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) and Michael Arndt (Toystory 3, Little Miss Sunshine and formerly Star-wars reboot fame) are two screenwriters at the top of their game – Lionsgate certainly hired well! You can’t expect anything but the best from them.

Structurally flowed very well – no sleepy moment perhaps because ‘Catnip’ suffers throughout  – and any other actress would have made it obscene and want us to strangle her and put her on a lion’s dinner plate with all that whining, but Jennifer Lawrence pulls it all off with incredible grace and acting chops!  Not bad for an oscar winner and an all-around cool person!

I have a couple of fantasy stories I am working on right now and as a writer, once you fall in love with your characters, it’s hard sometimes to think about what would happen if you actually managed to pull off a production deal for your babies, especially when you think of all the misnomers and bad casting choices made by box-office-hungry studios in the past (a writer CAN fantasize, can’t they?)

That said, Suzanne Collins really lucked out! What’s better for an author than to have her books not only made into movies – but some of the better if not best book-movie adaptations currently out? While the books have their charm, no doubt, it’s incredibly gratifying to see how well the movies are turning out. Not to mention the incredible art direction and the costumes (Katniss as the ‘Mockingjay’! I almost peed!) Seriously awesome! Also accolades to Philip Seymour Hoffman for his wittily-engaging turn as ‘Plutarch’, the always flawless Stanley Tucci and Josh Hutcherson’s incredibly likeable and engaging turn as attractor Peeta Melark. Another great surprise was Jenna Malone’s turn as Joanna, Katniss’ prickly ally – totally nailed the bitchy-complicated factor!

Either way, if you are debating watching it – even if you are not a fan of Hunger games, you gotta like this movie for its incredible production value! I came home afterwards all jazzed and inspired (and need I say – proud! High-five Simon and Michael! Fan adaptations are a pain and you killed it!!!)

In other less exciting news, two days ago, Toronto had its first snow,  so looks like a nice white Christmas ahead! I should be returning with a post or two in the next two weeks! Till then, feel to browse and look through my journal of entries or just catch up with me anytime in comments! Seriously if you are reading, just write and say ‘hi!’ Blogging can get lonely so hearing from the other end even if it’s just typing two words or saying ‘You know NOTHING – you SUCCKKKKKK!’, always a pleasure to make your acquaintance;)!


25 things for aspiring writers! Look what the cat dragged in…

So after a long slog yesterday, I was doing my usual early-morning googly-fest and came across this article by author Chuck Wendig from his blog last year.

Refreshing, honest, hilarious and most of all – will ABSOLUTELY inspire your writing, so go READ it – not because I am telling you to but because all writers SHOULD!  I literally printed and have this posted on my wall right now! Enjoy!

UPDATE: I have taken off the ‘aspiring’ in my profile! Take that, you inner narco-pessimistic demon you!

First drafts and script lengths!


Speaking of first drafts, here’s a common issue I have been getting into lately – script length. I know most of the time we don’t worry about that in a first draft… just get the damn thing done right?

But of late I am finding myself worrying about it – why? Having done a lot of first drafts and read quite a few just this year alone, amongst the things I am noting with them is that if they are starting to run short, (80 – 90 pages), there’s always some bit of story that’s undercooked. Most times, I have left this to sort out in the second draft… but let’s put it in perspective and think about the recommended page length of a script in its final stages. From what I am hearing out there, the lowest recommended script-page count is 95, highest 120, ideal: 100 – 110. There is no specific rule of thumb for this – but one thing I am already discovering on my own is that generally when my drafts go lower than 90 pages, there is something I haven’t done enough of. Usually it’s something in the prep stages.

This doesn’t mean that I layer my draft with unnecessary fondant – but as with this thought on go into the story a few days ago in response to a reader’s question: I tend to think of my first draft more now in terms of development – developing content worth exploring –   plot, characters, conflict, etc.

So in my case, as I am writing it, I am weaving back and forth – ALWAYS moving forward (not losing sight of the end) but also after some brainstorming, going back and adding things as I go, where I see fit. So far, this is working well.. and I am still on schedule!

A final note: while I don’t think it’s a good idea for everyone to see their first drafts this way (in terms of page count), I think keeping it in mind is not a make-it-or-break-it, but nevertheless, still a useful tool to know how well the overall story is developing and how much still needs to be developed.

How are your first drafts coming along? Drop me a line!