Screenwriters are the most fortunate people in the film industry. Fortunate, because they have so many other people out there just aching to tell them what to do. I was recently reminded of that point while reading Danny Rubin's blog piece How to Write Groundhog Day: 10 Rules for Screenwriters. Since Rubin actually wrote Groundhog Day, he has the advantage of having an honest to goodness major movie under his belt. That is more than some folks handing out advice (keep this in mind when signing up for a screenwriting class). Rubin's article has become a must read; and, to be honest, his advice is actually pretty good. The same is true of Colson Whitehead's article How to Write, printed several years ago in The New York Times. Heck, there are nuggets of wisdom to be found in most of the thousands of articles that turn up in a Google search on the topic. Writers are blessed or what?

Marvel Studios has just announced phase three of their master plan. Good, because we can now announce that the commercial Hollywood film industry is dead. All we need is for Stan Lee to play the fat lady waiting in the wing for her song. The problem isn't necessarily the Marvel Studios plan. So far, it has been a marvelous plan. Beginning with the Phase One production of Iron Man in 2008, they successfully weaved together and nurtured multiple characters and titles in a gradual development steered toward the 2012 blockbuster Marvel's The Avengers. Phase Two has repeated, and even expanded the approach (and box office) as it heads toward next summer's release of Avengers: Age of Ultron. To be honest, Marvel Studios has done an amazing feat based upon a fearless commitment and a masterful sense of long term strategy. These are exceeding rare traits in modern commercial Hollywood. For that I congratulate them. I also have to add a soft but firm “Damn you!” Why? Because Marvel Studios has taken the entire commercial American film industry hostage.

Proclaiming the death of cinema has become a popular pastime. Jean-Luc Godard has been announcing the death of cinema for over 40 years. So he was bound to be right eventually. Perhaps the time has arrived. Several years ago, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg warned of the end of Hollywood. OK, they were mostly focused on the current Hollywood business model and its possible implosion. Last Spring, Quentin Tarantino produced a stir at Cannes with his death of cinema pronouncement. However, he was mostly complaining about digital projection while having a nostalgic fit on behalf of old-fashioned celluloid. To be honest, Tarantino sounded as if he still used a rotary phone and an old Philco TV set. Now, with his recent lecture at Pietrasanta in northern Italy, British filmmaker Peter Greenaway gives a much more detailed and provocative argument for the end of cinema. In some ways, Greenaway's remarks are closer to the Lucas/Spielberg perspective. But he goes much further. It isn't just the business model that is broken. It's everything. Specifically, Greenaway is focused on the greater aesthetic changes taking place due to the digital revolution. The traditional movie theater is fading from its importance. The concept of the screen is changing as the standard movie model is replaced by multiple types of “screens,” from laptops to smart phones. The entire model of production and distribution is evolving