1) You're not telling me anything *new* about
the movie production business.. Syd Field told us
something new about movie structure - fairly simple, not
that remarkable, but a new, useful way to think about
movies and indeed drama. There is nothing new here about
what is "good","creative", "novel" etc.
Well, I have 2 *very big* problems with the above...
(1) No -- Syd Field actually did not tell us anything new. - He
said: `Use a 3 Act structure'... Which, he also says, Aristotle once
said. And - which Aristotle never did say.
(ie - Read any translation of Poetics. I've read many... He
never once said 3 Acts. Not once. He actually said 12 Acts.
See my blog for more.)
- If you read any of my doctoral research (ie - on the blog: http://storyality.wordpress.com/an-index-to-this-blog/)
and in my StoryAlity book (either will do) - you'll see
that I contend (with: overwhelming evidence) that the existing 8
`biggest' screenplay `gurus' (of which, Syd Field was the first - in
1979) are all deeply problematic. Seriously.
I should also point out, I've read over 100 screenplay books... (see
my 1-page Summary of all of them here, The Screenwriter's
And as a professional script reader (for major film studios - and
countless other film prod cos) - for 20 years, *very few people I
ever meet*, are more familiar with `the rules of screenplay
structure' than I am... ie - Try also, over about 20 years, writing
about 1000 x 4-page script `Coverage' reports, for film studios.
(meaning: you read over 1000 film scripts, in very close detail.)
- You soon get very familiar with (a) the 10 or so `major
screenwriting books' that the `inner circle' at film studios - the
`field of experts' - the `industry gatekeepers' - the ones who
decide which movies (scripts) get made, and which movies don't -
use, as their `Bibles'...
And (b) -- as all my research points out -- there are *massive*
problems with Field and all 8 major gurus' work - it is *not*
empirical or scientific. - Check all this. It is all true.
This was in fact, the whole reason I undertook the research...
Someone needed to do what EO Wilson, and Gottschall, Carroll, Boyd,
suggest - use some Science. Get some *real* results.
This is why I did the research. Nobody else is (yet) doing this. It
is all brand new. I am not making this up.
Also once again - Field's big contribution? "3 Act structure" -
Now, read this article: (which is even: BY one of the 8 major
screenplay `gurus') http://www.raindance.co.uk/site/index.php?aid=184
And now, read this: http://www.prlog.org/11909861-shocking-syd-field-failed-980000-aspiring-scriptwriters.html
Please note: I have worked with most of the major screenplay
gurus... I know `what they know', (as, I have picked their
brains, and purposely `tested their knowledge' when I was working
with them, as I was suspicious of their methods) and I know,
from first-hand experience, exactly what methods they each use. And:
they are not: empirical - nor scientific.
This fact has bugged me - horribly - for 20 years.
This is in fact why I came back to study - to do a doctoral research
study... To actually: start to fix this problem. See: my blog. In
Ok - now, on to part 2 of the above: `There is nothing new here
about what is "good","creative", "novel" etc.'
Of course there is.
The model itself is: brand new.
Nobody - apart from Peter Bloore (in a book that was first released,
this year) has applied the Scientific Research on Creativity
And certainly - *NONE* OF THE `SCREENPLAY GURUS'!!!
So, what is new is a detailed application of Creativity - and How
it really works, in the Domain of Film, and Screenwritng and
Film Storytelling. That's actually *new.*
Please stop saying, that: it isn't...?
Like I have said before, so many (incorrect) `myths' abound about
Creativity (many of them, are actually in the
screenplay guru `manuals'-! See: McKee!)
And that is why: 98% of screenplays do not get made.
It is also why: 7 in 10 movies lose money.
...If you don't think these are *the most important* real-world
problems in Film, then - you don't understand the reality of:
Creativity in the Movie business...
Also for a whole lot more on: "new stuff, about what is
"good","creative", "novel" etc."
See: all my doctoral research on the top 20 RoI films, on my blog...
Nobody has *ever* looked at that data set before.
It is all new knowledge.
The agent-based model shows how the bigger system behind it works.
The top 20 RoI films are 20 of the ones in the center of the model -
the inner green ring, the "domain of works judged creative by the
This is all: new.
And -- it is all counter-intuitive, and furthermore, is in direct
contradiction to: the old `wisdom' on what is: "good","creative",
Ergo - I don't know how much `newer', new knowledge
can actually, ever get...(??)
2) Your attempt to model the system is stimulating
but the results aren't.
Why call it, an `attempt'? I've modelled, what we now know, about:
How the film system works.
- This is an educational tool -- for people who read `the
words' on my blog, and who look at 2-D diagrams and the flowcharts,
but still (somewhat oddly) "just don't get it".
The agent-based model works, and - it achieves its purpose.
The result is: people then understand `the film
system' that they are (trying to be...) a part of.
Screenwriters and Filmmakers also understand: What they need to do,
So - sorry, but I can't agree with this, either...?
- The model works, and people have thanked me for it. (That, is all
the `result' that was required..?)
3) Nothing in movies or the arts is like an algorithm
- writing the script, changing the script,
casting/producing, distributing, marketing etc.
(a) What exact evidence can you provide, to support that above claim
in any way?
Also, may I ask -
(b) Have you ever written a film script yourself? (Not that it
matters, but I've written over 30, and - over 100, if you also count
my short films and TV work...)
(c) Have you ever changed a script yourself? (I've also been: a
professional Script Editor for over 20 years... I have `changed'
(d) Have you ever Cast a film? (I've cast many. And have been cast
(e) Have you ever done those other aspects, either? (Marketing,
Distribution, etc) ?
...I only ask as -- you don't sound to me, like, you know what you
are talking about, in very much depth, there. (That's not meant to
sound rude... just: honest.)
But - given that every one of the above is a Creative
Process, they all involve the evolutionary algorithm:
Selection (eg - Casting: You audition a whole bunch of
people - and then you PICK/ SELECT one of them - for the role)... Variation
- Each and every actor brings their own personal acting skills
and `schtick' and vibe and `look' to the role. This VARIES what
is written in the script. Then their acting performance is TRANSMITTED
into the film - and, ultimately into the minds of people who
experience that film story.
I could go through every one of the above things you mention (>
writing the script, changing the script, casting/producing,
distributing, marketing etc.) and show how SLECTION, VARIATION
and TRANSMISSION (ie the evolutionary ALGORITHM) applies... in each
and every case. I just don't have the time...
Here is one though -
Consider: How a film script (or a novel or anything creative) is
A writer SELECTS ideas, then, VARIES them (combines them, with other
ideas) and then: TRANSMITS then into the script (onto the page).
If they don't do this, the result is not: Creative.
...Why are you still not getting it-?
Creativity *IS* an algorithm.
It is the evolutionary algorithm.
Read every single post here: http://storyality.wordpress.com/an-index-to-this-blog/
- Until you do, you will keep asserting stuff, that's: completely
Only actually running the movie on a screen is really
comparable to executing an algorithm.
Mike, can I please hear your own definition of: an algorithm?
ie - Like in The Princess Bride: (Inigo Montoya) - RE:
"You keep usin' that word.. I do not think it means... what you
think it means...?"
Pace Koestler, algos only model the lower level - the
routine levels - of human activities, not the higher
First you would need a model of the higher level of
algorithms/programming - how ALGORITHMS are created
and evolve - not a single evolutionary algorithm - but
a model of how ALL evolutionary elgos, or all algos in
any field of programming have been created and evolved.
How are algos written, produced, selected,
Not sure quite what this means... it's all too vague...? I really
don't understand what you mean here.
The creation of algos is NOT algorithmic - routine.
Ditto the creation of new formulae in maths is NOT
formulaic - routine.
I am not sure - but - I think maybe you are getting way too
complicated, for the subject at hand, here...
You seem to be talking about: the algorithmic creation of
algorithms - or, something...(???)
I'm just not sure, what all that has to do: with my agent-based
model, or with Film, or with Creativity.
(All of which definitely involve `algorithms' -- by any definition
of `algorithm', that I know of.)
To really understand programs/algos you have to look
at the WHOLE business - not just the routine running of
individual algorithms, but the whole business of
creating them and producing them etc .
And - to really understand `understanding', you have to look at how
`understanding' is understood by understandability, on the corner of
Understanding Street, while drinking some Understanding Juice.
And, while that sentence was fun - it doesn't solve any problems.
And, I suspect, neither does yours...?
And then you can apply your model to how movies are
Ok maybe I will, but first you will have to explain what this all
has to do, with anything.
- The model works.
It shows: how the film system works.
It is new. ie - Nobody has ever done that, before -
modelled the film system with an agent-based model. (To: my current
And - I'm sorry Mike, you seem to want someone to: go and build an
agent-based model, of, how an agent-based model might be built, by
an agent-based model. Or, something.
Whatever it is you're trying to get at, I don't think that (can't
see how) it changes, anything I've ever done, said or thought.
But it will be a loose model, not a rigid algo.
4) No algorithm - and there are billions - has ever
adapted to or produced a SINGLE new element. They only
create variations on OLD elements - old boxes of
chocolates. They can't incorporate a single new kind of
chocolate. Look at the actual products of so-called
"evolutionary algorithms" - they are mind-blowingly
same-y mixes of the same old chocolates - not truly
evolutionary at all..
This is wrong.
Mike - the problem here is - you clearly don't understand:
the evolutionary algorithm.
Selection, then Variation, and then Transmission.
And - example:
Take 2 old pairs of genes.
Take 50% of each - and combine them.
That *new* resultant gene - has instructions for building an
organism (eg - a person) - that combines/mixes some traits of the 2
Therefore, it is new. Novel. Fresh. Original.
If it `works' (if the resulting new organism survives - and also
reproduces): then - it is also `Creative'.
Now - do the same with 2 old ideas (memes).
Take 2 old ideas. (Selection)
Mix them together. (Variation).
Put them back in the (eg: Film) system (Transmission.)
Take the movie JAWS, and add it to 2001: A Space
The (new) Result? ALIEN.
...It's not that hard...?
But every movie - every work of art - continually
incorporates new elements into the mix. Movies
continually evolve - pace my shark example.
No - You're wrong there Mike.
Your `shark movies' example showed: 2 old ideas being added
together -- in every single case.
Go back and check 'em all.
Or, ok - I will:
(1998 TV movie)
shark-like monster -
(So - this was based on Benchley's novel... ie - the JAWS guy...
(the original novel of JAWS is: genius, brilliantly well
written, as: he was a journalist) - and it's not a new idea to
`cross 2 animals', eg - a shark and a dolphin, in this
See: THE FLY (1958) --
and the idea is certainly not `new' in novels/literature/myth...
ie - see: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HybridMonster)
(3) Snow Shark (2011) -
So - what is the first movie about a monster, frozen in the ice?
See: THE THING (1951, Howard Hawks)
(and note how -- the poster is an *exact ripoff
* of the
`JAWS' 1975 poster... now, again tell me, there is something `new'
(5) Red Water (2003) - freshwater shark
(Ashark meets fresh water... So - how `new' is the idea of: `fresh
water'... hmmmm, circa, the Pleistocene Era, maybe?)
(6) Ghost Shark - (2013) -
So, a shark becomes a ghost and kills folks.
How new is that idea?
For a biological entity that becomes a ghost and then kills
people: see Tormented
1960, The Innocents
and obviously see the Henry James novel that it was based on, The
Turn Of The Screw
So, 1898 - and for film, from 1960 (Tormented
) till 2013,
check how many `murdering ghost' movies there are here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ghost_films
and I'd add:
(7) Piranha - How old is the idea of Piranhas in film? See the
Tarzan series. Not a new idea.
(8) Anaconda - How old is the idea of an anaconda in film? See the
So, I rest my case... quite contrary to this assertion:
> But every movie - every work of art - continually
incorporates new elements into the mix. Movies continually
evolve - pace my shark example.
- Every `new' movie is: a blend of old ideas.
I can't speak for `every work of art' as I haven't seen every work
of art... but: it's the same idea.
Certainly every famous work of art: is `new' combinations
of old art ideas/concepts (ie Selection, Variation,
And - Why are you now telling me, that "Movies continually
That is exactly what I've been saying all along?
Biological - and Cultural - Evolution work: in exactly the same way.
Selection, Variation, and Transmission.
Some of those `new' hybrid-genes (people) turn out to be Olympic
athletes, or creative geniuses.
Some of those new' hybrid-memes (movies) turn out to be high-RoI
films, or Oscar-winners.
But 99.999999999999999% of them don't... in both cases.
(Most people are not Olympic athletes; and most films are not:
incredibly-viral. Most are the opposite, as 7 in 10 films lose
So -- if you want to be in the Olympics, then study what Olympic
athletes have in common: (1) The person, (2) the process, (3) the
(Their (1) biological predispositions, (2) their training routines
& diet, their (3) historical record-breaking Olympic
And -- if you want to make a highly Creative film, then study the
Top 20 RoI films. (Person, Process, and Product. And note: they
have loads of things in common. And if you want to be
creative, you should do those things too. See: Creative Practice
Theory, which totally `underpins' (using computer algorithms):
the agent-based model.)
And -- don't ever expect to win an Oscar with your first *produced*
film... (as only 3 screenwriters in the entire history of film have
done so, and they also had a lot of secret help... ie William
Goldman actually did an uncredited rewrite on Good Will Hunting,
and Diablo Cody, I havent researched yet - but am sure there's a
logical explanation - and anyway - the Oscars selection process is
not based purely on merit, look exactly at: How the Oscars are
`voted for'... and who actually gets to vote... seriously.)
Algos don't - individually - although the **fields**
of algorithms do.; Obviously, only a field of algorithms
model is applicable to fields of moves.
As a v. wise man once told me, "Li-i-i-i-fe is
li-i-i-ke a [NEW] box of chocolates. You never know what
you're going to find." And the movies are like
li-i-i-fe. (Koestler would totally agree with me).
(Well, I am pretty sure Koestler would ask you to: please step away
from his ideas, and never misuse any of them like you are doing,
Anyway sorry to disagree so much Mike. - I don't mean to. But - this
stuff is super-important.
-- If you can understand something, then you can control
Currently - nobody much, seems to understand why: some movies go
viral (are: super-creative) and - others don't (are: uncreative).
- If we can understand why some movies go viral in the
culture -- we can make more of them.
We can actually shape human history - in a positive way...
EO Wilson (the genius) calls this `directed cultural evolution'.
And -- then, we can actually stick worthwhile messages in
viral movies, (eg like: conservation, and combatting global warming,
and beating world poverty and inequality, etc)
and not: messages/themes like the stupid, vacuous ones (like `Transformers
4' or whatever) that: Hollywood keeps on throwing out at us.
See: the movie `The Ledge' by Michael Chapman...
Now, THERE's a worthwhile movie...
...All just my 2c...
And anyway Mike - thanks (sincerely) for the feedback on the model.
As a result of our conversation here - I've added loads more stuff
to that blog post -- and, it is actually, vastly the better for
and Transmedia Writer-Director-Producer:
Movies, Games, TV, Theatre, Books, Comics
Transmedia Writing Blog: http://on-writering.blogspot.com/
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aka: JT Velikovsky
Research Student & Filmmaker
Doctorate of Creative Arts - Feature Film / Screenwriting
School of Humanities and Communication Arts
University of Western Sydney
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