On Friday, June 21, there will be a screening of Bram Stoker’s Dracula with screenwriter James V. Hart at Full Moon Cineplex in Hermitage, followed by Hart’s master class headlining the day-long Script-Com symposium on Saturday, June 22, at Lipscomb University. To attend both, plus receive a year-long membership in the Tennessee Screenwriting Association, the cost is $50. An optional mix-and-mingle buffet for Friday’s screening is $15 at the door. Details at www.tennscreen.com
By Tom Wood
Not only was Giordano the screenwriter, but he also directed, and had a hand in nearly everv aspect of the thriller/horror produced by Alan McKenna and executive produced by Tom Steinmann (Uproar Pictures) and Kelly Frey (Music City Films).
The story focuses on a woman who gets involved in underground game of pain endurance worth $1 million to the winner, only to learn the rigged game is run by the manipulative and sadistic man out to defeat her. It debuted on June 4 and is available on Amazon Prime Video and at Walmart stores.
Giordano and Steinmann will host a panel session to discuss the movie at the June 22Script-Com Screenwriting Symposium at Lipscomb University’s Shamblin Theater.
“(The panel discussion will be) a good expression of the process from beginning to end and what you can expect if you’re a truly, truly independent filmmaker,” said Giordano, one of the principals of Uproar Pictures. “One of the things that I think is interesting about it is that, at least the way I went about making this film, you actually end up making the movie several times.”
Giordano then reeled off the ways in which he first conceptualized The Odds, then visualized it, then wrote, rewrote and rewrote some more, then … you get the idea.
“We’ll be talking about everything from conceptualizing it for a micro-budget film to all the way through the development, and even past that — to selling it and marketing it and sort of a number of things that people talk about in sort of general broad terms,” he said. “But our experience is definitely more focused … and it won’t be the same experience that everybody else has.”
Along the journey, he also pitched the idea and story at the weekly Tennessee Screenwriting Association meetings to get immediate feedback.
“Since I tend to do outlining, that’s kind of the first version of the movie. Then when you do the script and its subsequent rewrites, that’s the second version,” he said.
“And then when you go through the script with your production team and the actors, that’s another version that you do of it. And when it makes the transition from a piece of work on paper to something that you actually have to shoot, then you have to consider where all the actors are going to have to be, where the cameras are going to be, all these things.
“The way I did that most effectively was through storyboard,” he added. “Storyboarding it was another version of the film,” he added. “And then there’s the actual production of it, and then there’s the editing, then the sound design and the music — and these are all versions that are all slightly altered and slightly changed.
“So when people talk about a director’s vision of a story, you’ve got to have a vision that’s a little flexible as a practical sense about how filmmaking works.”
He says that it’s essential for the writer to follow the director’s lead — but even more so when the two are the same person.
“For a writer, part of the job is being open to making all these changes. I was kind of lucky as the director; you don’t have to fight with the writer so much,” he said with a laugh. “But I was pretty lucky — at least as much as a person can be. I tried to be objective once I was mostly done with the writing aspect. I kicked that guy out of the room and tried to keep my director’s hat firmly on.”
Giordano said that while the writer can envision anything, the director has to see what works and doesn’t work, and see the finished product as the audience would view it.
“The thing is that when you’re the writer, you’re trying to express the idea of the story and anything you’re trying to say within that story. Your job and your intention usually tends to be trying to get that out as clearly and as artistically as possible,” he said.
“But once you are a director, you have to be far more concerned with how the audience is actually going to receive this information. Because it’s not a work on paper, it’s moving pictures.
“So the audience gets all this information and sometimes the information is portrayed in a way that the writer was not aware, either for good or for bad, how it would come across to an audience when it’s actually playing on the screen among actors.
And it’s the director’s job to really make sure that the story is going to be received by the audience, and really the first audience for the film.”
Giordano hopes to carry those lessons he’s learned into his next project, Gates of Flesh, which he says i much more of a horror movie than The Odds, with “elements of supernatural and end of the world stuff.” Then it will be a sequel to The Odds followed by a faith-based film.
Screenwriter James V. Hart will headline Script-Com, which is hosted by the Tennessee Screenwriting Association. Events kick off Friday, June 21, with Hart at a screening and discussion of his Bram Stoker’s Dracula script at Full Moon Cineplex in Hermitage. Then on Saturday, June 22, Hart will headline Script-Com, discussing both his movies and the HartChart app and Toolkit he developed to help writers map stories and characters.
Besides 1992’s Dracula, Hart’s credits include Hook (1991), Bram Stoker’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994), Muppet Treasure Island (1996), Contact (1997), Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story (2001), Tuck Everlasting (2002), Lara Croft: Tomb Raider—The Cradle of Life (2003), Sahara (2005), August Rush (2007), Epic (2013), the 2014 TV series Crossbones, and 2019’s The Hot Zone min-series on National Geographic.
Script-Com admission is $50 and includes the Friday night screening and Saturday’s symposium, plus a one-year membership in the TSA. Current members pay just $40. To register, go to https://tennscreen.com. To attend the buffet/mix and mingle, cost is $15 at the door.
The June 22 symposium will open with a 10 a.m., presentation by manager Samantha Starr, who has recently joined Circle of Confusion Management. Following Star will be producer Mitchell Galin, who has been involved in a number of Stephen King adaptations including The Stand, Pet Semetary, Thinner, The Langoliers, and other movies including Dune.
“ScriptCom is going to be good whether you are a beginning screenwriter or you are an A-list screenwriter,” said Jeff Chase vice-president of the Tennessee Screenwriting Association. “There’s going to be something for everybody.”