The ‘Jane Test’

Angela Watercutter at Wired magazine discusses the “Bechdel Test”, a simple three question test to gauge the level of gender bias (towards females in particular) that a film or story has. Watercutter goes a step farther and introduces what she calls the “Jane test”. The name is inspired by Natalie Portman’s character Jane Foster in the MCU’s Thor films. Following the lead of script reader and producer Ross Putnam, who began posting female character descriptions in scripts on Twitter, she adds three additional questions to consider. The point of the test is to evaluate how female characters are portrayed, not just onscreen, but on paper in the initial script so that female characters can be given the multi-dimensional qualities they deserve.

Read full article here: The “Jane” Test

Three of the Most Common Conceptual Mistakes Writers Make

Ken Miyamoto at ScreenCraft created a list of three of the most common mistakes writers make when developing the concepts for their stories and offers insight on how to correct these errors.

Read full article here: 3 Most Common Conceptual Mistakes Screenwriters Make

Meet the Blogger!

I’ve come to the realization that I’ve been running this blog page for Hollins University for a year now and I have yet to properly introduce myself. Where are my manners? Allow me to ameliorate this.

Name: Amanda Hobbs

Hometown: Richmond, Virginia, USA

How long at Hollins? I’ve been a graduate student in the summer graduate screenwriting & film studies program since 2015.

What made you chose this profession? Long story short, this place feels like the right place. This industry has given me more chances than others. I believe in following the yes’s. So this is where it’s lead me. 

Favorite films/directors/writers/scores/composers/costume designers? Favorite films: Chicago, A League of Their Own, The Sandlot, just about any Disney film, The Princess Bride, Invictus, Long Strange Trip, Midnight in Paris, The Dark Knight, Charlie Wilson’s War, Elizabeth: The Virgin Queen… Directors: Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino, Woody Allen, Alfred Hitchcock, Susanna Bier… Writers: Joss Whedon, Aaron Sorkin, Quentin Tarantino… Composers: Michael Giacchino, John Williams … Costume Designers: Colleen Atwood, Alexandra Byrne, Jenny Beavan

Goals for this blog: To reach as many people as possible and be a valuable tool for as many people as possible. I strive to include articles about multiple aspects such as filmmaking and production, the atmosphere and culture of the industry, women and minorities in the industry, and perspectives from the actor’s or director’s points of view. I seek out multiple – if seemingly unusual – sources for inspiration, creativity, and anything else I think could be of value to anyone working or hoping to work in the film industry. Since this page is sponsored by an actual living, breathing university, I also like to showcase the work of our students and professors in hopes that you will come spend time with us so you can become better at your craft and become a part of this incredible family of creatives and artists.

What genres do you like to write? Is there another genre or aspect of the industry you’d like to explore more? I’ll admit my brain tends to go into a Hallmark/Lifetime kind of place. But, I do have an incredible fascination with history. It’s really not as boring as people think. History is all about people and their stories. As far as the film industry goes, I want to learn about anything and everything I can get my hands on: writing, directing, acting, film scoring, or costume design. My skill set, however, is an entirely different discussion – ha ha. Anything can be learned if you’re willing to be a student.

Where do you find inspiration? History and real life stories fascinate me. I also find myself gravitating towards stories about women. Women have stories just as rich and compelling as anyone else. I’m not the sort to condone or resort to man-bashing; I think it’s neither necessary nor appropriate and contradicts the goals of gender equality. I just think women deserve to have the credit for their contributions, respect for the abilities of their brains, and deserve to have their stories shared and celebrated.  

Tricks for sustaining/maintaining creativity? How do you fight creativity blocks? When I write, I like to lock myself in room with a big window, stick my earbuds in and listen to classical music (which is also not as boring as people think). The Beethoven station on Pandora does the trick for me. It’s nice to have something in your ear that will block out the outside world for a bit while also stimulating your brain enough to keep your attention. Whenever I find myself struggling to write, I realize that it’s time to take a break. The brain needs some rest. So I’ll find something else to do like go for a walk – fresh air does wonders, find a craft to do, read a book, or exercise. I like to think of it this way: when you hit a block, the creative fuel tank is empty. So in order to keep going, you need to refuel. I find it enormously helpful to go find something else to do because staring at a blank page all weekend accomplishes nothing. Go socialize, enjoy a meal with people, have conversations… I’m an introvert and I’m saying this. Yes, private time is important. But humans are social creatures and require interaction with other humans for a multitude of reasons. That’s neither an accident nor a fluke. Also, pick a writing time and defend it like mad – this is something I struggle with immensely.  

Fun facts/favorites/interests/hobbies: Fun facts: I attended the Sundance Film Festival in Salt Lake City for the first time this year and volunteered with the Richmond International Film Festival. Both wonderful experiences. Interests: outdoor activities, travelling, gardening, music, cooking/baking, crafts, reading

Bio: A little bit about me. I’m Amanda, your humble blogger. I grew up in Chesterfield, VA (just south of Richmond). I received my Associate’s in Arts degree from Richard Bland College, my Bachelor of Arts in History from Virginia Tech, and I’m currently working on my MFA at Hollins University. As far as my involvement with the film industry, I’m slowly but surely, making my way. I was an active member of the music community as a band student in high school and wanted to pursue a career as a music teacher, but eventually realized it wasn’t a good fit for me. However, I did become a sister of Tau Beta Sigma, the National Honorary Band Service Sorority. I considered pursuing a theatre major, but opted for history because I felt it would be more versatile, it was subject I was genuinely interested in, and I still thought I wanted to be a teacher. After teaching preschool for several years, spending a semester in a teacher licensure program, and not satisfied with where I was headed, I decided to take another direction and go after something that I really wanted. I came upon Hollins University after doing an online search for film programs in my home state of Virginia. I stewed over it for some time before applying, but once I did I never looked back. I’ve continued to pursue work in this industry because it’s given me opportunities that others wouldn’t. And, plus, there’s more than one way to be a teacher. 

 

Amanda Hobbs - photo 2
Amanda Hobbs

STORY BROADS: 5 Tips to Get Your Story on the Page

Co-founder of Story Broads Despina Karintis, with her engaging brand of humor, provides five steps to help writers get the story OUT of their head and ON to the page.

STORY BROADS: 5 Tips to Get Your Story on the Page

Notes from Aaron Sorkin’s Screenwriting MasterClass

MASTERCLASS has been providing incredible opportunities for newcomers to creative industries to learn from the masters. You can learn cooking from Gordon Ramsay to acting from Kevin Spacey to tennis with Serena Williams. One Reddit user chronicled his experience with Aaron Sorkin’s MasterClass on Screenwriting.

Read the full article here: Notes from Aaron Sorkin’s Screenwriting Masterclass

Creating the Ultimate Antagonist

This video explains how to create the ultimate antagonist. Using The Dark Knight and Heath Ledger’s character of the Joker as an example, they breakdown precisely the goals of an effective antagonist.

Watch here: Lessons from the Screenplay: The Dark Knight – Creating the Ulitmate Antagonist

Revealing a Character’s Backstory

Martha Alderson at Script Magazine shares some secrets on how to reveal your character’s backstory wound, which plays just as vital a role as the current story being told. The backstory is what helps explain to the audience the hows, whats, and whys of the character when the audience meets them and why this journey that character is on is so crucial.

Check out the full article here: How to Reveal Your Character’s Backstory Wound

How to Write Character Arcs in a Series

Creating character arcs in one story can be challenging enough. But some of us writers just have too much wracking in our brains, so we create a series. Which begs the next question: how do you create and maintain character arcs across a series? K.M. Weiland at Helping Writers Become Authors provides insight and guidance on how to do that.

Click the link here to read the full article: How to Write Character Arcs in a Series

Naming Your Characters

Laura Martin provides a helpful list of tricks and tools to use when naming your story characters. Every writers knows this to be a tremendous chore and one that has a serious influence on your characters and how they are portrayed and perceived.

Read the full article here: Naming Characters

The Right Way to Torture Your Characters

Brianna da Silva at Story Port provides some insight on how to appropriately and effectively “torture” your characters in ways that will make sense, enhance your story, develop your characters, and move your story forward.

Read the full article here: The Right Way to Torture Your Characters