The screenplay for the film Lost in Translation (2003) was only 75 pages.


Lost in Translation is one of my favorite films. Typically, feature length screenplays are 90 to 120 pages.

Many of my favorite directors use few words in their films: R. Bresson, A. Tarkovsky, E. Rohmer, T. Malick.

I love great dialogue, but sometimes I prefer films with little or no talking. Many of my favorite scenes are ones that are purely visual, relying on the moving image to tell the story. Relying on dialogue to tell the story is sometimes just laziness.

The screenplay I’m currently working on is 92 pages and will probably increase to around 95 pages. I was worried I didn’t write enough, but now I think it’s fine, even a bit long.

The Three-Act Story Structure

Once again I am diving into the struggle to write screenplays. In the past I got all snobby and looked down on the typical Hollywood story structure. I saw it as too conventional and I wanted to be artsy. Well, that got me a long ways.

In the mean time I have learned a thing or two, and have come to understand the conventions that drive Hollywood storytelling are, in fact, ancient paradigms that fit with human nature. In other words, the basic three-act structure (and it variations) was built into the human design by God. Sure, many have exploited it, have misused it, have done bad things with it – including making just plain schlock – but that does not nullify the fundamental character of the structure and how it engages with our minds.

With that I am trying to teach myself the structure, and how to use it to my advantage. Here are some examples:

3-Act story Structure



I know that none of us work in a vacuum. We do not create ex nihilo. We work with what is given, and it is in our manipulations of forms that we discover new nuances. Structure is one of the great givens. I have decoded to use the three-act paradigm as strictly as I can and see what happens.

A couple vids on the topic:

>Happy Birthday Elie Wiesel


I have not lost faith in God. I have moments of anger and protest. Sometimes I’ve been closer to him for that reason.

~ Elie Wiesel

If I had to make a top ten list of those events of the 20th century most critical to know and remember, the Holocaust would be in the top three. Wiesel survived the Holocaust, I suppose, as well as anyone could. His memoir Night is brilliant and staggering.

I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

~ Elie Wiesel

>write a novel in a month – yee haw!

>I am sure some of you dream of writing a novel but have not found the gumption to do so. Well, here’s something of interest: the National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. The idea is that one commits to writing an entire novel in one month. According to the rules that’s 50,000 words in 30 days, or about 1,667 words per day (if my math is correct). It launches November 1st.

I know folks who have done this and they loved it. Some finished their novels, some didn’t get that far, but all loved the process and the kick in the butt that NaNoWriMo is all about.

There is also a scriptwriting version called Script Frenzy. Now Script Frenzy already happened for 2007, but it is supposed to be an annual thing, so keep an eye out for that one next year.

I would love to know if anyone is going to do this. I am in the middle of my thesis for grad school, so I have to focus on that, but if I can get it done in time, which is unlikely, then I just might do NaNoWriMo too.

>work in progress


from pages 10 to 14 of a script I am working on:


Vinson and Florence sit at the dinner table. Vinson is finished with his dinner. Florence has not really touched her food. Candles create the only light in the room, throwing a warm glow on the walls.

I did not eat much.

How long were you traveling?

There are things I’ve seen.


You understand.


No, you cannot understand.

Vinson stands up.


Vinson takes their plates and leaves the room. He comes back with a wine bottle and two glasses. He remains standing.

I noticed you are writing
again. Your desk…

I have been writing a little.


But not to completion.

(another beat)

I really haven’t been
writing anything.

Do you ever…


How do you live alone? So
completely alone.

Vinson straightens up, pondering. He looks at her.

I suppose we’re are all alone.

She looks at him.

We are all connected.

Well, there you have it.

He sits down and begins pouring the wine. He looks at her. She shakes her head.

I’ll just throw up.

Vinson sets the bottle down and begins drinking his wine, maybe a little too fast. Florence watches him.

I don’t know why I am here.

I’m not looking for answers.

In the next few weeks I will
continue to grow weaker. I
will become sick and my body
will not be able to fight.
The radiation was far stronger
than any of us anticipated
or understood.

She speaks deliberately, slowly. She has stopped looking at her father.

Many have gone before me.
Friends. Children. There was
so little…


…so many…

She cannot continue, but she keeps herself from crying. She turns toward her father and looks into his eyes. He looks back at her, then turns away.

I have made a bed for you
in the library.

Florence smiles at him, almost with pity.

He stands up.

I’ll stoke the fire.

He leaves the room. Florence stays in her chair. She silently, stoically cries, wipes her eyes, then slowly, with effort, stands ups.


Vinson is kneeling beside the fireplace watching the flames. Florence now stands at the door.

I believe mother loved you very much.

I think this fire will burn for
some time. If you get cold
please tell me.

He stands up.

And you should find plenty to read.

He gestures at the many shelves filled with books glowing in the light of the fire.

Thank you.

You’re sure this old chair is okay?

She nods.

He leaves the room.

(from beyond the door)
I’ll be up early.

Florence turns to look at the fire. Her face glows it its light.


Clouds pass in front of the moon.


Leaves glisten on barely visible trees, gently quaking in a soft breeze.


Florence sleeps fitfully. She is in a cold sweat.