Transforming caterpillars

August 24, 2010

I’ve added a couple new quotes to my writer quotations collection—one quotation for the story structure section, and one for the writer motivation section—and both from screenwriter Blake Snyder.  I hope you find them as motivating or thought provoking as I did.  The first:

“All stories are about transformation.  In every story a caterpillar becomes a butterfly.”

It’s hard to think of a major film in which the lead character or characters did not go through a major transformation.  And as Robert, a writer-director friend of mine, pointed out yesterday, this is probably one of the least realistic aspects of movies because, in real life, people rarely change.  Not real, root-structure changes. 

Which, I figure, is why character transformation makes for such good storytelling:

  • We all have this vision of what we want to be, even as we wallow in the quagmire of who we are.
  • We all know those whose persons who never change and we desperately wish they would.

So when a story can take us to a world where people really change, it inspires us—gives us hope. 

That’s my theory.  And Blake Snyder’s, apparently.  His words are a good reminder that writers must let their characters not only affect their world but be effected by it.

And, in other news…

Blake Snyder gave this advice to yet-unknown screenwriters, which he wrote on his blog the day before he died in July of 2009:

“Have fun! The most important thing to do is to love what you’re doing. That way, getting better at it isn’t a struggle, it’s a pleasure.” 

I love that.  What a wonderful reminder when one is getting bogged down in the business of trying to create a screenwriting career that you got into the business because, hopefully, you enjoyed the art of creating with words and language.  Yeah, sure, it’s hard work.  But so is mountain climbing or playing soccer.  If writing isn’t just as fun, why not flip burgers instead?  Much less stressful.

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Where Are They Today? Joe’s Son from Men of Gray II

August 21, 2010

Matthew Kong as “Sean Cameron”

I was recently contacted by a Trinidadian I’d never met—a young woman named Sydney.  It turns out that she is the younger sister of the boy who played Sean Cameron (Joe Cameron’s son), in the 1996 Men of Gray II movie (aka Flight of the Ibis).  Sydney and her mother Cheryl were trying to find a copy of the 1996 movie on DVD, which is apparently very hard to find in Trinidad.

Matthew then and Matthew today

The actor who played young Sean, Matthew Kong, is now fully grown and still living in Trinidad.  Here is Matthew as Sean in 1994 when we shot the movie:

sean_mog2_a sean_mog2_b

And here is Matthew today in a recent snapshot:

matthewKong-2010

I’m not certain what Matthew is doing now, but hopefully he or one of his family members will respond to this and fill us in.

The difficulty in fulfilling the family’s request 

With Men of Gray II being released so long ago, and into the low budget market, the movie was not originally distributed as a DVD at all.  It was theatrically released in several countries (not the U.S.) and available in TV markets and VHS worldwide.  But not DVD. 

Since I was not aware of a place in Trinidad where his family could buy the movie, I pieced together a collection of video snippets from the movie that featured Matthew.  It’s not as handsome a gift as a DVD (which I don’t have either!), but this online 8-minute montage was well-received by the family. 

You can see the Matthew-as-Sean clips here on YouTube.