Thursday, September 29, 2011


For me the Director is the ultimate storyteller. He, or she is an artist who is the extension of the writer’s vision. 

Filmmaking all begins with a story, the moment the writer hands over a brand new, shiny package bound in plain looking cover with brass brads collectively called the Screenplay, or the Script. 

These days of course feature film scripts, or screenplays are send via e-mail saving everyone lots of time and money, but before and during actual production everyone follows the printed script format. 

What is the Screenplay?

Short answer: it's the story encoded in cinematic terms from which it can be told in multiple ways by many artists and professionals in the production team.

In our limited human experience surrounded by infinite Universe and another equally infinite subatomic world we cannot even see, with humanity operating in highly restricted environment, no matter who we, or where we are everyone has a story. 

This works on every level for everyone individually, and when told with equal amount of passion and authenticity everyone’s story is equally fascinating, whether it would be Odysseus, Queen Victoria, Lincoln, Einstein, Beethoven, or a guy next door. 

Of course, this gets much better when we have several stories intertwined together, as human beings rarely live by themselves, so whenever we tell a story about someone there is usually a unique world around them interacting with our hero, or a heroine.

Consequently, this is where the director takes over which is to tell a story about someone’s life and about others using his set of tools, the actors and the cameraman with his crew, and the production designer. The director is the extension of the writer who brings to reality the dramatic structure encoded in the script by the screenwriter. 

Screenwriting and filmmaking are all about storytelling in the most fascinating, exciting and revealing way with good taste, drama and authenticity, and the director’s job is to perform the function of a storyteller on the highest level and make everyone around him comfortable. 

My favorite directors are no longer alive today, but there are still few left and they are the icons of cinema among the elite group of people numbering less than few hundred in the world. 

Who Are Great storytellers?

Answer: John Ford (Stagecoach), Alfred Hitchcock (Rear Window), Anthony Mann (Winchester ‘73) Howard Hawks (Rio Bravo), Sam Peckinpah (Straw Dogs), Ingmar Bergman (The Virgin Spring), John Schlesinger (Midnight Cowboy), Robert Siodmak (The Crimson Pirate), Bo Widerberg (Elvira Madigan), David Lean (A Pasage to India), Michael Curtiz (Casablanca), Stanley Kubrick (Barry Lyndon), Akira Kurosawa (Roshomon), Luchino Visconti (Death In Venice), Michelangelo Antonioni (Blow-Up) and many others from the past.

Above films are few examples of great storytelling. They have a unifying theme to all their work which is good taste and the ability to tell a great story and capture it on the screen with all other filmmakers on their team. 

From living directors several come to mind Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather), Woody Allen (Midnight In Paris), Steven Spielberg (Schindler's List), Milos Forman (Amadeus), James Cameron (Titanic), Milos Forman (One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest), Andrzej Wajda (Young Girls of Wilko) and other directors for whom it's all about well-told story.

Friday, September 23, 2011


LISZT & CHOPIN IN PARIS - is a story about friendship and rivalry between two most celebrated musicians of all time taking place in the golden age of piano in 19th Century Paris.

This story is about two greatest superstars of classical music Franz Liszt and Frédéric Chopin taking place in nineteenth-century Paris just before the Industrial Revolution in a brief, magical period of time that gave birth to many ideologies everyone cherishes today - The Romantic Age. 

It is 1831 and young Chopin arrives in Paris, the capital of music sizzling with music personalities and amazing performers after saying goodbye to his homeland. 

Not certain whether he could make his career there as concert virtuoso he meets Franz Liszt, the greatest concert pianist who ever lived and who’s already a legend in Paris. Franz Liszt, who is also an émigré does not expect to encounter Chopin’s genius on his level and asks him to play at a rehearsal at Paris Conservatory where he’s preparing for a concert.

When Chopin plays, Liszt suddenly realizes that his career as all-time virtuoso has been threatened and challenged by Chopin’s genius. They become fierce rivals and along with immortal characters such as Nicolo Paganini, Felix Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann, Richard Wagner, Giacomo Rossini, Eugene Delacroix they conquer Paris completely with their music and with it the entire world.

Driven by obsession for excellence and never ending quest for immortality Liszt undertakes affairs with some of the most fascinating females of the day, royals so rich they own half of countries, opera singers so stunning they sell out theaters in countries whose languages they could not speak, and when Chopin has an affair with one of his famous muses who writes under the pen name of George Sand their affair becomes one of the most celebrated love stories in Paris and of all time next to Romeo and Juliet.

Chopin’s and Sand’s great love story takes us into the world full of intrigue and adventure and the quest for greatness in which everyone from kings and queens to ordinary people has a personal stake in it as we come closer to our understanding of creativity and the incredible art of classical piano.

When Chopin dies at the age of 39 on Place Vendôme in Paris and Liszt accepts his Court appointment in Weimar we come full circle in appreciating the art and lives of those two great men and cultural icons who conquer the world with their talent.

John Mark performing Chopin’s Ballade No. 4 in F-minor.wmv on Grotrian-Steinweg:

Preliminary SOUNDTRACK for LISZT & CHOPIN IN PARIS  recorded by John Mark - a preamble soundtrack featuring music scenes from the Script.


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Story & Screenplay by John Mark. Copyright © 2014  All Rights Reserved.