With a couple days free, our CEO & Creative Director, Aaron Davis, heads up to Park City, Utah to see how indie The Sundance Film Festival still is. On the drive, Aaron listens to the audiobook “Down & Dirty Pictures” by Peter Biskind about Miramax, Sundance and the rise of independent film.
Now that we are in the age of lying freely, let’s address Hollywood lying. There are two kinds of lying: below-the-line lying and above-the-line lying. Below-the-line lying is “I got mugged” instead of I partied too hard and overslept. #guilty Above-the-line lying is more of what you think about when you hear about not being able to trust people in Hollywood. A producer with “several projects in various stages of development” is lying unless they really do have something in production. Mostly, people who are trying to get something to happen but have no real value are the liars you’ll first run into in Hollywood, aka name-droppers.
Many people are starry eyed searching for a dream in Hollywood. For these people, a few well-placed words, promises, and smoke and mirrors can be enough to convince. This is the shady realm in which these liars can thrive. Social media makes this form of deception even easier. Everyone knows that not everything you see online is necessarily true, but it doesn’t keep the lies from being enticing. Instagram, Snapchat, and even Facebook are perfect examples of opportunities for individuals and companies to pull people in with provocative pictures, slick marketing, and assurances of success. When it boils down to it, we like what is flashy and fun. Most of us would rather believe in the easy, get-rich-quick scheme than in the idea that hard work is going to be required.
The entertainment industry is ripe for dreamers. It is a world that isn’t like the one in which most people live and breathe. There are larger-than-life, dramatic elements that are characteristic of working and living in that world. To some extent, you expect the people in it to be story spinners and to keep things colorful. This is another reason why people can be easily duped. The seekers of adventure who have made their way to Hollywood are not deterred by above-the-line lying because what sounds and feels good vs what is good is essentially what they want. While the thrills don’t last, one thrill can lead to another, which is almost the same thing (almost).
Success is possible, however. We all know the stars that have been able to shine and reach new zeniths after navigating Hollywood. The liars who muddle the path are not the focus. Staying vigilant is necessary no matter what industry. I think we can agree that this is all the more important in Hollywood. Accept it. There are swindlers that make their money from presenting a show to those who are willing to watch. Get it and get to working on sharpening the focus needed to see through the veneer and reach what is real. Just like you have to kiss a few frogs to get to a prince, sometimes you have to meet a few shysters to find a genuine opportunity. Above all, you can’t be afraid to try and put yourself out there. Taking risks will take you a lot of places: both pretty and not-so-pretty. Of all the dark and dangerous places to be, Hollywood is likely one of the most fascinating.
February 9th is one of Pandemonium Screenplays' biggest holidays of the year because The Beatles' first appearance on Ed Sullivan is the event that set our culture on fire! Almost everything cool that followed owes a debt to this event. So, enjoy all four songs in their entirety, plus the rarely seen afterparty jam! And, if you have a rock n' roll biopic, we'd love to check it out. Also, if you're in the mood to read a script with great music, innocence, and cultural impact, pick up "Never About Love".
On February 9, 1964, the British Invasion began with The Beatles playing live on The Ed Sullivan Show in front of an estimated 73 million Americans. Ed Sullivan introduced The Beatles, and was almost immediately drowned out by the screams of girls in the studio audience. The Beatles continued to play twice that evening on The Ed Sullivan Show and “Beatlemania” had officially arrived. The exposure of The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 became a touchstone event for an entire generation.
The Beatles caught Ed Sullivan's attention at the London Airport when he saw crowds of their fans trying to catch a glimpse of the band returning from Sweden in 1963. Later that year, he witnessed another huge airport reception before The Beatles played the Royal Variety Show. It was incredibly clear that The Beatles had conquered England and were set to ignite teens in America with their catchy pop songs, adorable personalities and witty banter.
Ed Sullivan told The New York Times, “I made up my mind that this was the same sort of mass hysteria that surrounded Elvis Presley.” Sullivan booked The Beatles American debut——a pivotal moment in American cultural history. Never before had so many viewers tuned-in to watch a live television program. Nearly the entire country, 73 million viewers, watched history unfold on television.
The Beatles changed everything.
Pandemonium Interview with Matthew Duriez, Screenwriter of "SET THEM FREE"
Matthew Duriez is a screenwriter from the United Kingdom, with a passion for history and for telling human stories. Whether he’s writing about the tragic events of the Peoples Temple massacre, the treacherous Arctic convoys of World War II or the striking miners in Colorado, almost all of his work revolves around true events. Matthew has been a member of the British Armed Forces for the past eleven years and has served all over the world, including two combat tours in Afghanistan.
PNDM: What was the first screenplay you ever read?
MD: When I was fifteen years old, around the year 2000, with a painfully slow dial-up connection, I scoured the internet and managed to track down an early draft of the script to my favorite film, “Saving Private Ryan”.
I remember it taking hours to print all 160 pages on my old inkjet printer. There was something magical about the experience of sitting and reading a script. I understood the genesis and development, and saw how much influence a director has over a project. It was fascinating to re-direct the movie in my head, and it’s lasting effect, was my enthusiasm for screenplays. I just fell in love with the 12 point Courier type, the sparse nature of the page, the visual storytelling, the fact that what you are reading is a blueprint for a movie, a piece of cinema——art. Finding screenplays back then, was nearly impossible.
PNDM: Did reading that script start you writing?
MD: I’m not sure if it was that experience that started me writing, but it was certainly around that time in my life that I tried my hand at a screenplay. As with most new writers, the early experiences were badly written messes. Recently, I had a look through my file-box of early scripts in the attic. Terrible! But we all have to start somewhere, we all learn our craft by experimenting. By writing shit.
Now, sixteen years later, I’m still writing. It’s still my key ambition but it’s not that easy to get your projects off the ground. I’m determined, though, to get my work out there——find an audience, find people to bite.
PNDM: What is your most successful screenplay?
My most successful script so far, the one that's been best received, has the most praise and accolades is “Set Them Free”, the pilot episode of a mini-series about a tragic event in Jonestown, Guyana. In 1978, the Jonestown Massacre was the single largest loss of American lives before September 11th, 2001——nearly a thousand people died. It's a dark and fascinating piece of American history. I’m British, and up until recently, it’s not something that many people over here have heard about. But who knows, maybe my script could change that?
PNDM: How did you come to write about this subject?
The path to writing this screenplay was not a straightforward one. It actually started out as something entirely different. I was brought on as a writer for a cult-based horror film and, as part of my research, I watched the PBS documentary on Peoples Temple. That documentary changed my life; it hit me hard in my chest and gripped me tight. It created a fascination with what happened to those people. I wanted to know-- and the writer in me wanted to tell their story. I needed to know what force could drive these people to drink that Kool Aid. I thought such a wild story would have been told over and over, but discovered that there wasn’t much out there.
PNDM: Why a mini-series over a feature film?
Initially, I did start writing this as a feature, but soon realized this was a hell of a deep story I was getting into. It was too big for a 120, or even 180 minute film. I also couldn’t see this spanning 5 seasons of a TV series either and that dismayed me enough to abandon the project. Later I rejuvenated it when realized I could tell it in 6 to 10 hour-long episodes.
PNDM: What was your creative process like?
Countless hours of research, taking in hundreds or maybe thousands of pages of information, watching documentaries, listening to Jim Jones’ sermons and reading FBI files informed my writing. I wanted to tell this story from the Point Of View of an outsider, someone trying to find their way inside Peoples Temple. I needed to highlight all of the good that went on there, and contrast that with the evil that befell the followers. So I created Amelia Mooney, an investigator for the San Francisco District Attorney, who's looking into allegations of a Jim Jones connection to election fraud. And, of course, this investigation quickly turns dark and dangerous.
PNDM: Do you recommend that people, who have never read a script before, pick one up?
MD: Absolutely! Unlike my early days of reading scripts, getting your hands on “Set Them Free” and other original scripts is much easier with sites like Pandemonium Screenplays, where you can read exciting new scripts and get the word out, to help those projects find their way to the small and the big screen.
Experience the final moments of the Jonestown Massacre by listening to this live audio of Jim Jones convincing his Peoples Temple followers to drink the poisoned Kool Aid during the cult's mass suicide and murder.
As some of you may know, today is National Screenwriters Day. To those of you who don’t: Today is National Screenwriters Day so we salute all the intrepid women and men throughout history who have blackened the pages to bring us the stories we love. And, in honor of all that literary sweat, we’re offering you a Free Hard Copy of any script you pick up on our site.
Pandemonium declares that screenplays are their own valid artform. Most people have not yet had the opportunity to appreciate an inspiring script, so here are some reasons you should give one a read:
They’re Interactive. Screenplays are written cinematically, which means they have just enough information for you to build your own world. You direct the movie, you cast it, you are the set designer, YOU are the imagination that adds life to the words.
They Teach You. Reading screenplays gives you a greater understanding of how words on a page are turned into moving images, thrilling moments, emotional journeys and satisfying resolutions.
They’re Quick Reads. Your time is valuable — experience the full arc of a story in a fraction of the time it take to finish a novel. You could read a feature screenplay, soup to nuts, in 60-90 minutes.
You’ll Write Better. Everyone knows, the more you read the better you write. Screenplays expose you to the most diverse genre of writing, which will help you develop your own voice. Besides, everyone has a movie in them, right?
We’re Giving You A Freebie. Do yourself a favor, pick up one of our screenplays and we will mail you a Limited Edition Hard Copy of that script. Note to collectors: The artwork on each of our screenplays is designed by renowned movie poster artists.