Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Last Two Weeks to Register!


What's the "Big Idea" in Movie Writing? Act One and world reknowned story expert, Bobette Buster, have the answer and you have only TWO weekends left to find out!

Participants of Weekend One are saying…

‘Through her love of cinema, Bobette draws you into the multi-layered craft of truly great films--it's a deeper journey than you'll get in film school or anywhere else. Bobette shows you how the master filmmakers create a richer story… inspires you to pick up new tools for your craft.’ – John F. Colorado Springs, CO

‘Bobette Buster makes you think about movies in a different way. The way she talks about story has inspired me to write every day. If you're experiencing writer's block, she can help you. If you need tips on how to punch up dialogue or improve character arcs while in rewrites, she can help you.’ – Kara H. Los Angeles

‘Bobette is right on target. This is the most insightful and valuable seminar I have been a part of. Her big picture thinking is exactly the kind of wake up call our generation of filmmakers and executives need.’- Josh R., Santa Monica, CA

‘This weekend writing class was amazing for me both as a Producer and a writer. Bobbette's style of lecturing is top notch... Bobbette has clearly defined the structure of cutting edge story telling. It truly has broken open my creative mind and given me a new sense of what makes a GREAT story.’ – Rochelle W. , Hollywood, CA

‘Bobette's lecture series is nothing less than fantastic! Her insights are profoundly interesting and valuable, I could have stayed another several hours. Can't wait to come back next weekend!’ – Martha L., San Diego, CA

Or check her out for yourself here.

Sign up TODAY for parts 2 and 3 of the Act One Lecture Series ‘What’s the Big Idea?: The Art of Cinematic Story-telling’ with Bobette Buster!

Only $250 per weekend:

Weekend 2: March 28/29 - Weekend 2 - Advanced Story Physics & Sound Design: Cinema is the orchestration of emotions. Learn how the master film storytellers create complex chords of feelings while creating clarity of insight.
To register - click here!

Weekend 3 : April 4/5 - The Future of Cinematic Storytelling: How Fractured Narrative Works. And Understanding Hollywood Economics and Target Audience: How to create smart scripts that connect with the right audience.
To register click here!

For more information or to register please contact Rosario Rodriguez at

Considered by many to be the next ‘Robert McKee’, Buster's course is taught at USC, Pixar and all over the world, and her students have gone on to write and produce international blockbusters.

"Bobette Buster's…insights and thoroughness in examining every aspect of a film; from structure to marketing, acting, cinematography, editing, and sound, have been immensely valuable to our ongoing commitment to learning and creativity," says Elyse Klaidman, Pixar Animation Studios.

“Bobette Buster is an absolute wizard at understanding story and passing that understanding along to others,” says Kathy Fogg, Associate Director, Peter Stark Producing Program at USC.

Visit our web site or contact Act One directly at | (323) 464-0815

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"I come not to praise BSG, but to bury it."

Well, it's over. And I have lots to say as a requiem. Unfortunately, I am swamped for the next two days with legitimate writing work. And really, I think I am still a bit too grief stricken to write yet. I will soon, however, as I think there are some key lessons about bad storytelling, and the problems of sustaining excellence in television in general, that we can pick off the carcass of this once great series.

I'm opening a thread here for anybody to comment on the "Emperor's clothes" journey that has been Battlestar Galactica, Season Four, and particularly the last episode, Daybreak, Pt I and II.

Feel free to just write that you are heartbroken too. There is, as Emily Dickinson notes, a certain comfort in knowing you are not alone in your discomfiture.

More as soon as I can defend the time expenditure...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Quote for the Day

From Marcus Tullius Cicero, on W vs. Obama?:

"I prefer tongue-tied knowledge to ignorant loquacity."

New Site Alert

I found some folks coming over here from a new site called Notes on the Culture Wars. It seems to be a clone of Drudge, only with a Catholic filter. I'm honored that this blog is under the list of selected columnists and I'm adding it to the side bar.

There have been times in the past in which I have vigorously opposed the phrase "culture wars," as it seemed to me that it set up "my people" (ie. my Christian/traditional Biblical values brethren) against my, um, "other people" (ie. my Hollywood artist media making elite brethren). I wasn't sure where I fit in to the world if both halves of my family were at war, and as long as there was still hope for detente between the two sides, I wasn't sure it was helpful to employ militaristic language in the relationship.

That, however, was before I woke up to the Connecticut State Assembly debating a "special" law last week, to rein in the authority of Catholic bishops in their dioceses. It was before the House passed a bill this week to make three years of mandatory service to the federal government, um, well, mandatory. It was before my parish church had human excrement rubbed all over the vestibule in vicious retaliation for our support of Prop 8. It was before the city of West Hollywood denied our parish the permit to have a preschool because of the assertion that "Catholic ideology" is dangerous to children. It was before Obama administration brown-shirts sneeringly dismissed the idea that Christian physicians should have a "conscience clause" exempting them from being forced to perform abortions. It was before the Treasury Department asserted that major gifts to charities(ie. churches and ministries) should not be tax exempt. It was before the member of a formerly oppressed group, President Obama, signed the execution orders for little humans to be grown in labs and mutilated for scientific research. It was before House disdainfully proclaimed a few weeks ago that "all doctors who care about their patients are doing it" about euthanasia. It was before the CA Supreme Court began brooding over whether there was any way it could AGAIN throw out the man and woman marriage passed by the voters, um, again.

In this moment it seems to me that as inflammatory as words like "culture wars" are, it is much more dangerous for any of us to assume the posture of critiquing the names by which others of us want to be called. When NY Sen. Chuck Schumer is comparing talk radio to pornography, it seems to me that First Amendment free speech is getting near to be toppled like so much other 18th Century idealism - freedom of conscience, religion, property and arms. And it all started by stripping the "right to life" guaranteed in the Declaration of Independence of its application to little humans. Weird how the 20th Century Popes have been so consistently right about that slippery slope, eh? How freakishly haphazard of them to all seize on the notion that the right to life is the pre-eminent foundation of all other rights? I mean, how lucky can a bunch of guys in white cassocks be?!

Anyway, so if you want to call yourself Culture Warriors or Freakin' Wild-Eyed Maniac Shock Troops for Jesus Christ, go for it. I expect a horde of us will die for your right to do so. So, do make it worth the sacrifice.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Barb on Haunting Moments

Here is my talk about haunting moments in storytelling, from the Storytelling Conference that Act One hosted last October. Following my talk there is about thirty minutes of discussion with our panelists which included Dr. Peter Kreeft (Socrates and Jesus), Bill Marsilli (screenwriter Deja Vu), Karen Hall (writer Judging Amy), Christopher Riley (author, The Hollywood Standard) and Bobette Buster (studio story consultant), among others.

I listened to it yesterday and am humbly going to proclaim it a real blast to listen to. Very smart discussion...and, oh yeah, I wish it had gone on one more minute because I could have TOTALLY answered Kreeft's last question about the heart being more important than the mind. (The answer is that haunting moments appeal to both...)

Dr. Kreeft's talk and the discussion afterward is already online and can be heard here.

MEGA thanks to Clayton Emmer for making all this online stuff possible. You're my hero Clayton...wherever you are! We miss you...

We are gradually editing and transcribing all the talks from the two days for what will be an amazing and unique book. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Quick Movie Warnings



Awful. Disgusting. Degrading. Vile. Barbarous.

The kind of entertainment the Roman mobs were watching just before the barbarians came over the walls.

Did I say depraved? I meant to.

If you let your kids go to this piece of absolute unmitigated garbage, you deserve whatever nightmare lives they end up inflicting on you.

I fear I haven't expressed myself strongly enough...

Ghost Town

We stopped watching.

After twenty five minutes when we realized we hadn't laughed once yet. And Tea Leoni still hadn't made an appearance in the movie. She might have saved us as viewers, but it wasn't to be.

This movie is a badly over-written rip-off of Ghost and The Sixth Sense.

Stupid. Lame. PASS.


We walked out.

Only after the mob of young fellows gave up and we were the only ones left in the theater and then we realized that if the Millenials had given up on the movie, it must truly, madly and deeply be a waste of time.

This weird mess of a movie comes from Icon Productions. What are they smoking over there these days?

Anyway, I went to see it just to get a glimpse of Camilla Belle on screen, as she is the one playing the titular role in Mary, Mother of Christ. She definitely looks good on screen.

But that was the only thing good about this stupid waste of millions of dollars and over an hour of my life.


Benjamin Button

We stopped watching.

After about an hour when we figured out that this whole movie is about its main idea and not about storytelling. And once you had seen enough of the big idea, than there was no need to watch more. I'm just not a big enough fan of the latest technology in 3-D makeup effects to hang in there for three hours.

I know I am really late to the party on this one, but I only just managed to get to the screener. This is one of those movies that got nominated because it happened to be a big stylish and pretentious study movie in a year when the best films were all small. And the best films were also not really that good. Hence, a big fuss over Benjamin Button.

See it or don't. I was bored and didn't make it through.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Obama Killing More Little Humans....But it's Just One Issue, Right?


Bishop Finn on President Obama's Executive Order

Kansas City - St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn issued the following statement today responding to President Barack Obama's Executive Order on Embryonic Stem Cell Research:

Statement on the President’s Order for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research
Most Reverend Robert W. Finn
Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph

President Barack Obama has kept another campaign promise today as he signed the executive order which will allow federal funds to be spent on destructive human embryonic stem cell research.

I join my voice to that of other Catholic leaders, and other men and women of good will, in denouncing this newest step by the President to eventually remove all legal protections for innocent, nascent human life.

The President boldly proclaimed that he was taking the politics out of science. Rather, it seems clear that he is only asserting “his politics” over life itself.

In the Fall of 2006, we proved in Missouri that if we teach the truth about human cloning and scientific experimentation with human embryos, more and more people will reject the pretense and false hope of this still unsuccessful research.

While breakthroughs continue to be documented in adult stem cell research, taxpayer money will now be siphoned into the coffers of medical researchers to fund projects so dubious that they would never waste their own money on them. These experiments on human embryos, while they have always remained legal, have never produced any medical benefits. The thing that differentiates human embryonic stem cell research from adult stem cell research is that, with embryonic experiments, there are no results. There are no cures. The great “hope” that was promised is an illusion.

Americans should urge the Congress to appropriate no money for such research. Missourians should urge their Missouri Legislature to quickly pass The Taxpayer Protection Amendment (SJR 17), to prevent Missouri tax-dollars from paying for these destructive experiments.