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Second Rounder at Austin Film Festival! NOW On The Black List!
Published by September 20, 2017 11:35 pm

AFF

IMPORTANT NEWS UPDATE!! 

Magic of Story‘s founder, screenwriter and script analyst Selin Sevinc’s latest feature-length screenplay became a second rounder at Austin Film Festival‘s prestigious screenwriting contest – a recognition given to less than 20% of the entrants.

Her screenplay Off the beaten path is now listed on The Black List! If you are an industry professional registered in The Black List, please read and rate her screenplay.

 

NEW SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT!!

We now offer services for screenwriting, co-writing and re-writes in addition to regular script coverage and development services.

Write to us about your project, request writing samples and receive a quote at selin@magicofstory.com


Magic of Story Partners up with Indiepossible!!
Published by October 19, 2015 4:06 pm

Indiepossible competition

Excited to announce: Magic of Story recently partnered up with Indiepossible – a community forum dedicated to promoting news and information about independently produced movies, television and web series.

This year for the first time Indiepossible is leading an international online film festival and screenplay competition. As their in-house script consultant, I will be writing a one-page script coverage for each screenplay competition entry, all included in the submission fee. I look forward to your submissions and can’t wait to share some insights into your stories.

Furthermore, if you are a contestant you can benefit from my services at a 10% discounted rate. Check out Indiepossible for details about the competition and to meet all your independent film needs.

Another new opportunity to note is that all feature length screenplay submissions to Magic of Story that receive a ‘Recommend’ will have the added benefit of getting read by a producer at Aloris Entertainment LLC.

Write to me with any questions at selin@magicofstory.com


Mountainfilm for Everyone
Published by June 20, 2015 3:37 pm

“…how strange it is to risk yourself for a mountain, but how central to the experience is that risk and the fear it brings with it… Life, it frequently seems in the mountains, is more intensely lived the closer one gets to its extinction: we never feel so alive as when we have nearly died.” – Robert MacFarlane, Mountains of the Mind

I had the fortune of attending Telluride Mountainfilm Festival this year. I have been to many film festivals before and although I love documentaries, I thought a festival that primarily concerns itself with mountains might be too limited in scope. I quickly found out that in addition to climbing movies, the film program encompasses all sorts of adventures in nature, manifestations of human effort in any walk of life, environmental and political issues, better yet, ruminations on the future of our Earth and humanity. Still, I thought for a non-climbing, non-skiing indoor creature like myself, it might be too sporty, or too factual, or too dark… I didn’t know a thing.

The day before we arrived in Telluride, my husband, who lived the life of a climbing bum for a decade himself, announced that Dean Potter had just died. “Who’s that?” I asked. That’s how clueless I was. Dean happened to be one of the most innovative and influential climbers of his generation, a long-time friend to Mountainfilm, and simply a truly luminous soul. He died flying into his favorite place on Earth, the Yosemite Valley. My husband had just taken me to Yosemite a few weeks before the festival and now those incredible peaks had a new meaning for me – death.

As it is my nature, I blamed those rocks for alluring so many wonderful people to engage in such deadly love affairs with them. I don’t know what it was about Dean Potter’s death that so captivated me, but the whole festival weekend felt like a mental and emotional investigation into the reasons why humans go to such great lengths to experience being in nature.

Meru was one of the first films I saw at Mountainfilm. I have to say, at first, it confirmed my hesitation to put climbers on a pedestal for their courage and strength. In Meru a very talented and experienced climbing trio ventures to climb a peak that was considered an impossible ascent at the time. Despite a serious head injury and an alarming avalanche incident for two members of the team only months before the expedition, they go ahead with their plan. Their determination to climb Meru would have been crazy even in perfect health, so you can imagine a mortal ground-dweller like myself would grow uneasy with these guys’ insane obsession with a summit. I was yet to see why this was…

Later in the weekend I watched Valley Uprising – a chronicle of 60 years of climbing in Yosemite National Park. Not only do we get to see notorious world-class climbers pushing the boundaries of the sport, but we are also introduced to (or reminded of) how a sport (or any act of passion) can be a rebellion against the presumed limits of human potential. Absorbing image after image and story after story of men and women watching El Capitan in total awe and evident yearning gave me a clearer perspective on what’s up with these people. Climbing, or being at one with a rock or a mountain, must be about freedom. Freedom to be by oneself in one’s most receptive and vulnerable state of being – in one’s purest form. I’m just guessing…

There were more relatable films that helped me delve ever deeper into our diverse experience as humans. I particularly enjoyed a selection of shorts that offered little glimpses of life that sparkled beyond their confines:

Denali might be the most touching tale of friendship between a man and his dog.

The Fisherman’s Son is an inspiring story of how a Chilean surfer’s passion for riding the Ocean waves in his little fishing town grew into making history as one of the best big-wave riders in the world, and as an advocate for the protection of the Chilean coast.

The Reinvention of Normal redefines the meaning of the ‘think outside the box’ adage, brimming with odd originality and playful persistence to transform what’s considered normal.

The Important Places is a father and son’s 28-day journey down the Colorado River where they find beauty, wonder and a deep connection with nature and each other.

We are Fire is a look at the Gulabi Gang of India through a radiant woman’s search for justice and equality.

Among the wonderful selection of feature-length documentaries were Frame by Frame. It tells the story of four Afghan photojournalists who strive to depict the truth about the Afghan people under post-Taliban regime, suggesting change can happen one frame at a time.

How to Change the World is another story of how a small group of people can make a big difference. It recounts how Greenpeace ignited the unstoppable power of direct environmental action to inform and mobilize masses and engender social movements. Personal conflicts among the team members juxtapose the diversity of human perspectives with the uniting power of a great cause.

Entertaining a different angle, The Yes Men are Revolting demonstrates the power of humor in revolutionizing our minds about the biggest danger we face today – climate change. It feels less like a series of environmental protests, and more like a comedy show made even more hilarious because of its truth and effectiveness. Personal sacrifices, disappointments and relentless perseverance are skillfully woven into the quirky fabric of this gem of a movie.

Two of my favorite films were beautiful manifestations of human ingenuity. Landfill Harmonic is one of the most uplifting stories you will see, where anything feels possible. A group of under-privileged children who live near a landfill in Paraguay begin learning classical music under the guidance of their teacher. A crafty landfill worker supplies the children with classical instruments made out of scrap. And off they go to win the hearts of people around the world. The film is a testimony that great things can emerge from the direst circumstances.

On the other hand, in Very Semi-Serious we find relatively privileged people working very hard to live their dream – to be published cartoonists in the New Yorker. The film is not only a most entertaining compilation of cartoons in the history of the magazine, but also an inspiring look at the world of accomplished and beginning cartoonists, daily conquering their egos to keep learning and growing. The New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff’s story beautifully frames a picture of the value of passion, hard work and humor.

Needless to say, it was impossible to fit all the movies on my long wish-list into a short weekend. Among the titles I will make every effort to watch are: Being Evel, Cerro Torre, The Diplomat, Drawn, The Last Patrol, The Man vs. the Machine, No Cameras Allowed, Racing Extinction, Unbranded and Les Voyageurs Sans Trace.

In a nutshell, what I learned in my week in Telluride at the Mountainfilm Festival is this: the way to achieving anything that is worthfilming (and, literally or figuratively, worth dying for) is to do something unimaginably courageous. And the good news is you don’t need to climb mountains for it. Whether it’s getting published in the New Yorker or becoming an international musician playing your recycled instrument, there is a personal summit to reach for everyone and it’s worth it.

No matter what you think you will get out of it, make plans to attend the next Mountainfilm Festival to taste a potent slice of inspiration, which will no doubt give you the boost you need to make the leap into your version of greatness. May the Mountainfilm be with you!


Let It Rip Before the Next Oscars
Published by February 26, 2015 6:01 am

Oscar

I don’t have a great deal to say about the Oscars this year. As a mother of a young one and a member of a crazy world-dwelling family, I only had the chance to watch ‘Birdman’ and ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’. The former I loved and wrote about (see Snyder’s Beat Sheet Applied to Inarritu’s Birdman), the latter I saw as yet another cute idea only Wes Anderson could spew forth.

What I do want to talk about is this: I feel there is a subtle but noteworthy connection between the qualities all Oscar nominees must surely possess and these words I came across in the book I am currently reading, Annie Dillard’s ‘An American Childhood’:

“There was joy in effort, and the world resisted effort to just the right degree, and yielded to it at last.”

— Everyone who is engaged in a creative endeavor must share these feelings: The world resists and resists our efforts for as long as it can, for good reason, until it gloriously gives in. This must be the experience of those whose work eventually reach world audiences.

“Just once I wanted a task that required all the joy I had. Day after day I had noticed that if I waited long enough, my strong unexpressed joy would dwindle and dissipate inside me, over many hours, like a fire subsiding, and I would at last calm down. Just this once I wanted to let it rip. Flying rather famously required the extra energy of belief, and this, too, I had in superabundance.”

– I’d like to imagine that everyone who was in the Dolby theatre on Sunday had spent all the joy they had in the tasks that demanded it of them. They must have all ‘let it rip’ while they shed blood, sweat and tears that go into the business of making movies.

“What I was letting rip, in fact, was my willingness to look foolish… Having chosen this foolishness, I was a free being. How could the world ever stop me, how could I betray myself, if I was not afraid?”

— Welcoming foolishness to the bitter end must be what it feels like to follow your absurd passion that many people are ready to tell you is a lost cause.

“…what was I to myself, really, but a witness to any boldness I could muster, or any cowardice if it came to that, any giving up on heaven for the sake of dignity on earth? I had not seen a great deal accomplished in the name of dignity, ever.”

— I recently acquired a cloth bag that says, ‘hurts like heaven’, which I think delivers a similar message to Dillard’s. Turn everything that hurts and scares into your ticket to heaven, for the ticket is pricey.

Congratulations to those who ‘let it rip’ this year and good luck to those who are determined to do so for the next.


Farewell to Two Beautiful Souls
Published by August 16, 2014 8:51 am

Robin & Phil

Following Philip Seymour Hoffman’s tragic death earlier this year, Robin Williams’s sudden departure this week caused great grief among his millions of fans around the world. Both Hoffman and Williams were immensely talented actors who suffered from depression and addiction. They eventually surrendered to the destructive forces that had apparently tainted their much celebrated lives.

I was much too sad to write about Philip Seymour Hoffman. When I watched ‘The Master’ I had sensed that beneath his enormous talent a dark sorrow was brewing. When I found out about his death, I had the sensation that he slipped through my fingers, as if I was holding him just above the water by having acknowledged his pain.

Robin Williams’s apparent suicide is perceived as another thing entirely. There seems to be a lot of negativity around Williams’s passing, simply because he intended to take his own life. The media is ruminating about all that was going for him and how selfish it was of him to take his own life. What is it about people that makes them think the more you have the better your life must be? Isn’t it much more likely to suffocate because of all that you do have?

Depression must be even darker and uglier if the sufferer is perceived as undeserving of that suffering. Imagine suffering from a disease that you don’t even have a right to have. Imagine everyone around you dismissing your debilitating state of mind. Imagine you can’t even be at home with your own pain.

I don’t see much difference in how death came to both these actors. More important question is, surely, why they welcomed it in the way that they did. Both Hoffman and Williams’s passing should bring into question why such fortunate and supremely gifted people lived so close to the edge. Why were they so unhappy? And why do we react with bitterness and criticism to such loss?

Robin Williams was a beautiful soul, as was Philip Seymour Hoffman. While I don’t mean to compare their lives and deaths, I salute them both together as two heroes who lost the same battle. I don’t know the particulars of their depression, but I appreciate their suffering. Their gifts are irreplaceable. Our loss is great.