Gerald Hanks Filmography

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Screenwriting with the VOTE Method: Miss Sloane

This post will mark the first in a series of film reviews geared toward teaching the VOTE method of character development. These reviews will not go into in-depth analysis of plot or story execution, but instead will focus on how you can see the VOTE method applied in current and classic films.

Each review will look at four principal characters: the protagonist, the chief antagonist, the protagonist's primary “helper”, and a minor character. This analysis will help you see how the VOTE method can be applied to nearly every significant character, which will help you create more realistic and believable characters.

The first film we'll examine is Miss Sloane, a tense political drama written by Johnathan Perera about a hard-driving lobbyist willing to bend the rules for her clients.

We'll look at how the VOTE method applies to the characters in Miss Sloane that fit in each type of role:
  • Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain), a fiercely competitive lobbyist
  • Pat Connors (Michael Stuhlbarg), Sloane's former colleague turned chief antagonist
  • Esme Manucharian (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), Sloane's fellow lobbyist and main “helper”
  • Forde (Jake Lacy), a male escort Sloane uses

Please keep in mind that this post will contain some SPOILERS for the movie.

Elizabeth Sloane's VOTE would look like this:

V: She wants to ensure enough votes to stop a filibuster on a controversial gun control bill.
O: She's facing off against both the “Guardians of the Second Amendment” and her former firm.
T: Her tactics range from planting documents to employing private detectives to investigate her colleagues.
E: She needs to show that she can win against the most overwhelming odds, regardless of who gets hurt along the way.

Pat Connors' VOTE would look like this:

V: He wants to have enough senators on his side to kill the gun control bill and keep his client happy.
O: He has to face off against Sloane and her arsenal of political trickery.
T: His tactics range from turning Sloane's former assistant against her to planting a “mole” at her new firm.
E: He needs to win over his client and his boss to keep his job.

Esme Manucharian's VOTE would look like this:

V: She wants to ensure enough votes to stop a filibuster on a controversial gun control bill. (same as Sloane)
O: She struggles with her past as a victim of gun violence.
T: She becomes the (reluctant) face of the gun control bill.
E: She needs to recover from her past and feel safe.

Forde's VOTE would look like this:

V: He wants to get Sloane to open up about herself.
O: Her reluctance to get close to anyone, along with the nature of his “occupation”.
T: He tracks her down at a formal event and tries to start a real conversation.
E: He needs to connect with her and show that he's more than just a body she can use.

When you write your script, every character should get a VOTE. If you need help applying these methods to your characters, contact me at storyintoscreenplayblog(at)gmail(dot)com, or through the SIS Facebook page.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Success Stories: Story Into Screenplay Year-End Update

First off, I want to thank everyone who has supported my projects and Story Into Screenplay in the past year. While I haven't posted as regularly as I would have liked this year, I plan to step up my game in every aspect of my screenwriting career, including finding new ways to help you with your scripts and relating my methods to current major films.

Past Successes

My most recent project, “We Are All Made of Stars,” was screened at Houston's Comicpalooza sci-fi convention in June and was selected a finalist for The Zone science fiction short film contest. Not bad for a film shot in the lead actor's living room in an afternoon!

My most notable project, 2014's “Dreamland Murders,” was screened at the Marche du Film at the Cannes Film Festival in May. It was also an official selection of the Director's Circle Festival of Shorts in November. 

The Story Into Screenplay blog was also selected as one of the “Top 50 Screenwriting Blogs and Websites for Screenwriters and Filmmakers” by Feedspot. Feedspot is a “modern RSS reader” that lets subscribers read all their favorite blogs in one place.

Future Projects

As for upcoming projects, I plan to add film reviews and story analysis of current films to this site. I plan to bring a new aspect to film reviews by using the VOTE method to break down the major characters.

I will also be serving as a judge for the TV One Screenplay Competition for the second straight year starting later this month. After the contest, I plan to share some lessons I've learned from the scripts I've read from other aspiring writers.

I will also be a regular contributor to The Buzz, the blog for the Virtual Pitch Fest site, which allows writers to submit their pitches and query letters directly to industry pros. My first piece, regarding how “Doctor Strange” will affect the Marvel Cinematic Universe, will be appearing on the site later this month.

I am also working on a book on how to help writers develop their characters, largely based on the principles outlined in my VOTE method. I expect to have the manuscript done in the spring, and I have been in contact with some small press publishers who have expressed interest in bringing it to market.

I will also be appearing at Comicpalooza again in May for another seminar, as well as on several film-related panels. Please keep checking back for more information as the convention date approaches. Get your tickets now!

During the most recent Comicpalooza convention, I was inspired to write a short script involving one of the most recognizable superheroes of all time. Last month, my producer staged a reading of the script for a group of local playwrights and screenwriters, where I received some very useful feedback. I'm not at liberty to say too much about it, but we are considering working with some Houston-area talent to bring this fan film project to the screen sometime next year.

Present Perseverance

As the holidays approach and the year comes to an end, I hope that you all continue to persevere in your efforts to create the best scripts possible. If you need any help in developing your ideas, creating your characters, or sharpening your dialogue, contact me here at storyintoscreenplayblog{at}gmail(dot)com or through the SIS Facebook page.

Have a wonderful holiday and a great new year!