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A Heartfelt Thank You to Blake Snyder on the 9th Anniversary of His Death

By on August 3, 2018 in Success Stories, Today's Blog
Olaf de Fleur filming Malevolent.

Olaf de Fleur filming Malevolent.

The year is 2006. I’m at the Singapore International Airport, where my eyes are drowning in a blur of red carpet. How fitting, with my career in chaos.

I’ve traveled for 15 hours and I still have one long flight left. I pace anxiously around the airport, not biding time very successfully. While buying a bag for my HDV-cam, I notice a book on the store’s shelf: Save the Cat! I quickly browse through—it’s love at first sight.

I board a small airplane that will take me to Cebu City in the Phillipines. I’ve received a modest support from Scandinavian film funds to do a film there about the local transgender community (known at that less-enlightened time as “ladyboys”).

For the last 12 months, I’d been going from market to market, and no one wanted to pre-buy a film about ladyboys. “It’s been done before so many times.” … “We are already doing a film like this” … even a lecture from a well-respected European TV producer: “Why are you trying to make this film? Nobody is interested.”

I was at my lowest low, my confidence gone, but in that one hour and 40 minute flight from Singapore to Cebu City, I read Save the Cat! It felt like Blake Snyder had poured himself into this book, just to say: “Don’t worry.” And to give me a hug.

Blake gave us all a tool. Like the child in Hans Christian Andersen’s story, Blake pointed to the Emperor to tell us that he didn’t need to act all that fancy. Save the Cat! allows us to see with childlike eyes so we can go deeper into the magical worlds of our own creation.

The film I shot in the Philippines was the first time I used Blake’s principles, and it won the Teddy Award for Best Picture at the Berlinale International Festival. Since then I’ve used Blake’s books for all my work, whether I’m editing a film, writing treatments, or cutting trailers. And I never get tired of spreading the word.

I exchanged emails with Blake before he passed away. He wanted to come to Iceland and hold a lecture about the powers of STC. That, of course, was not to be.

Today, hours from the ninth anniversary of Blake’s death, I want to thank him for what he did for a lost filmmaker, for speaking so clearly and powerfully in this essential guidebook. And thanks also to those who are continuing Blake’s legacy, helping the filmmakers of the future accomplish their dreams.

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Olaf Johannesson

About the Author

About the Author: Olaf de Fleur Johannesson (director, writer) has directed 12 films in the last 14 years. His first feature The Amazing Truth, about Queen Raquela, won the Teddy award for Best Film at the Berlinale Int'l film festival in 2008. In 2012 Olaf released the crime films City State and its sequel—both are currently in development as U.S. remakes in Hollywood. In 2013 Olaf sold an original sci-fi concept to Lionsgate/Summit, written by Joe Robert Cole. Olaf's most recent work is directing Malevolent, a horror film starring Florence Pugh (Lady Macbeth). Olaf is represented by WME and THRULINE. .

There Are 4 Comments

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  1. L. R. Farren says:

    I cannot say this enough. I owe a huge part of my writing career to Blake Snyder and his work. I own a copy of every Save The Cat book ever published, and I tell everyone I can how these books have helped me craft better stories, and how these book can help them do the same.

    It’s still a sad thing to see Blake leave us so prematurely, but I’m thankful for the STC staff and their faithfulness in continuing his life changing work.

    Thanks to the STC staff for all you do.

    Goodbye, Blake. We miss you.

  2. I remember getting the email – where I was, what I was wearing, what i was doing, how I thought the subject line was a joke or a metaphor of some kind. I’d only recently taken a weekend workshop with Blake, and as with all his students he was so encouraging, and all his emails — responses that somehow always came within only a few minutes of my questions — were a giddy profusion of exclamation points. After I opened the email, and read it several times trying to take it in, I cried for days. I don’t think I’ve mourned members of my own family with as much grief. What an amazing spirit, what a loss to us all, and yet his work lives on in those he inspired and continues to inspire with his books. I feel so fortunate to have gotten to spend a few days in person with him. I have not had a script produced yet…but the one we worked on in that workshop might just get dusted off soon.

  3. Melody Lopez says:

    A fitting tribute to Blake! Thanks for sharing your Blake story Mr. Johannesson and I’m happy for your continued successes. The team at savethecat.com are incredibly special and are responsible for helping Blake continue to share his clear methods of cracking a story! That too is a fitting true tribute to someone who was there for seemingly everyone he was in contact. The man continues to bless so many of his students both ‘former’ and ‘current’… it is remarkable!

  4. A lovely tribute.

    Thank you.