Tag Archives: Screenwriting

UPDATES and the THR Writer’s Roundtable

Wow … it’s been a while since I have updated this blog.

A whole year.

Things have been happening…

And things have not been happening…

Such is life.

Still holding down the assistant desk, answering phones, updating calendars, making coffees, and picking up lunches. But I’m trying my damned hardest to get into the paid writer’s world. I had a manager last year. Wrote some scripts with him. Went out on a lot of meetings around town. Met some great people. But the manager and me didn’t work out. We’ve moved on.

Good news is, I have 4 new managers reading me this weekend, so hopefully one of them will work out and I’ll be in business with someone else this year. It’s a long hard road trying to become a paid screenwriter, but god damnit, I’m going to make it happen.  My new years resolution for 2016 was to find representation.  And now my new years resolution for 2017 is to… find representation.

I wrote a new pilot at the end of last year. It’s gaining some traction. “Is this the year?” I ask myself. We’ll just have to wait and see.

I’m sure I learned a lot over the last year that I can share with you all on this dwindling near-dead website of mine. Maybe I can pull an article or two out of my ass over the coming months. Blow a little life into this fire.

I’ve visited this little blog now and again over the past year to check in, filter out spam, and update plugins… but to be honest, and it’s kind of embarrassing… I forgot my login password. And rather than put in the work to figure it out, I’ve moved on to other things. But I finally got off my ass and figured out what the password was, and here I am! Woo. Fucking hell…

I feel like there is more I wanted to write, but it’s not coming to me now. Oh, yeah, we got a new president. Fucking just kill me now.

Oh, and I watched Arrival last night. I really enjoyed it. But I was left feeling super depressed at the end. Anyone else feel that way? Just like… what is the point of living anymore? I think the message of the film was the opposite of that but, jesus christ, was I depressed.

Overall — I think this year’s Oscar season is the most boring it’s been in a long time. This year’s selection of films do nothing for me. It’s kind of a drag. There are usually a handful of award films that I really enjoy each year. This year we have….

Arrival —  I’ve already told you how that one left me feeling. But I liked it. Even though I wanted to slit my wrists in a warm bath.

Fences — Didn’t see it. Doesn’t really interest me.

Hacksaw Ridge — Loved it. I’m an unabashed Mel Gibson fan. Don’t get me started. Is he a nut job? Of course. Does he make amazing movies. FUCK YES HE DOES.

Hell or High Water — Thought I would love it. But the dialogue was so witty, it took me out of the world and the story. Disappointed by high expectations.

Hidden Figures — Looks like a lifetime movie. Didn’t see it. Don’t want to.

La La Land — Heard it’s great. Doesn’t interest me in the least.

Lion — Looks good, but again… not enough to get me to watch it.

Manchester by the Sea — Saw it. Great acting. BUT FUCKING CAN A MOVIE GET GET MORE DEPRESSING. Jesus christ.

Moonlight — Just like Lion, looks good… but ugh. It takes a lot to get me to sit and watch a movie these days. Probably wont see it.

Jackie — LOVE Natalie Portman, but jesus christ was that movie boring.

There are more — but I can’t even bring myself to name them. So there you have it, a list of movies I couldn’t be less excited about. Except Hacksaw Ridge. That one was pretty good.

Anyway — Here is THR’s full Writer’s Roundtable. Worth watching despite how I feel about this year’s selection of movies.

 

Crazy Pills

12fa6c8c1c613ddde2ac803467ce22bd

I sometimes just visit this site and stare at it. I want to write a post, I’m just not exactly sure what to write about. I figure it’s been a while since I posted something… so I’m just going to start writing and we’ll see where it goes. If there is anything specific you’d like me to write about — see that “ask me a question” tab at the top?

It seems I tend to write posts when I’m angry or irritated. I guess that’s because I find writing as a sort of release. If I’m upset at something, it helps to write about how I feel. After I’m done writing about whatever it is that’s bothering me — the tension seems to go away. Whether it’s about bitchy people, ignorant people, or what not to put on a fucking resume, I amuse myself by turning my feelings into witticisms… or at least what I think are witticisms.  If I can take something really fucking irritating or depressing and make myself laugh by writing about it… it’s almost like therapy. (But I’ve never been to therapy, so how the fuck would I know. )

I guess that’s called passion. Writing about something that deeply moves you. Whether it’s hate, love, or depression. These are the emotions that fuel all types of art. Most of the time I guess I don’t feel strongly about anything… so I don’t find there is really anything to write about… but as proof of me writing this —  if you just start writing the words seem to come out anyway.

The new job is going well. I’m an assistant at a very small production company with a project going through post. I kind of feel like I’m not doing enough. I’ve been busting ass in production for so long… give me an hour of no responsibility and I start getting paranoid that I’m not doing my job correctly. I think the phone rings about twice a day.  Which I answer IMMEDIATELY … of course. I get mail. Go on random runs. (The other day I picked up a shit ton of cat food and returned some pillows.) I clean and organize things… One upside to the lack of my current responsibility is the time to write. This morning I got into the office, made coffee, and wrote for 2.5 hours without interruption before going on my first chore for the day. I call that a Tuesday success story.

I’ve started taking my first steps into the rewriting phase of this pilot. I finished it — so that’s good. But I’m not happy with it. I’m about half way through turning my “vomit” draft into something I would actually let someone else read for notes.  My first step was to just diarrhea creative thought onto the page in order to get through scenes and finish the damn thing. Now I’m basically just starting from the beginning and rewriting every sentence keeping in mind that someone else has to read and understand what the hell any of it means.  Of course, in going through it again, I see things that aren’t working. Scenes that need major improvement. Characters that make no sense. Horribly cheesy dialogue.  So as I nitpick my way through I’m trying to fix most of these problems…. at least temporarily. After I get all they way through, I’m going to give it one more once over just to see if it flows decent enough… then I’ll hand it over to my writing partner and have him do a pass. After he’s done,  I’ll read it and we’ll have a creative meeting and go from there.

I need to get this shit done fast. I’ve been reading deadline (which, if you work in the industry you should probably scan through the headlines on deadline at least 2-3 times a day) and a few shows are being announced with similar themes to the show I’m working on. It doesn’t necessarily scare me… as I feel these shows are paving the way for the show I’m working on… but I feel like a window might be opening that I want to jump through before it snaps back shut. Which makes me think, why the hell am I writing THIS when I could be working on my pilot.

In other news I’m still talking to miss orlando.  Which is just as depressing as it sounds. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.

Summer Lovin’

First day of Summer is tomorrow!

Summer used to be the best shit ever. No school. No responsibilities. Kick back. Party. Something about those hot summer nights… they were dangerous. One could have too much fun.

Now when I think of summer, I think of having to sit in hot traffic on my way to work. I think of sitting in an office filled with fluorescent lighting and the never ending ringing of phones. And when I’m in said office, all I can think about is going to the beach. Which is funny, because I live near the beach… and I never go. But when I’m in the office… I think of the fucking beach.

But anyway… the reason I’m posting.

I remember back when I was an avid reader of TAPA’s blog it came to a point where he would stop posting very often… sometimes months on end. This made me sad. I was scared he had been ousted and forced to stop posting. Or had died. Or was going to abandon his website… (which he eventually did). So, even though this site is not nearly as popular as his (but for some reason I am still receiving over 100 hits a day) I don’t want to leave any of my readers thinking I’m dead. So here I am — making this obligatory post telling you that I am alive.

I haven’t been posting much because I’ve been working non-stop since the end of March. Hopped on an Office PA job for all of April and now I’m out of state working as an Editorial PA… which is pretty awesome. I get a little break from the HELL that is production. I’ll be back in LA mid July looking for my next gig. Just in time for 110 degree weather on the 405! *Stabs neck repeatedly with pen*

I wasn’t able to finish my screenplay in time for the Nicholl Fellowship due to work… but fear not. I have some other things on the horizon. Hopefully I’ll be able write back with some good news soon. If not… I’ll try… and try again.

We’re currently in that time of the year when screenplay contests begin announcing their winners. I want to wish all you budding screenwriters the greatest of luck… and if you don’t become a finalist, I leave you with this quote.

“Failure is a badge of honor. It means you risked failure.” – Charlie Kaufman

Screenwriting Tips from Legend Billy Wilder

Real quick. Stumbled across an article you may find helpful. You can read the full article over at Flavorwire.

Billy Wilder’s tips for screenwriters:

1. The audience is fickle.
2. Grab ‘˜em by the throat and never let ’em go.
3. Develop a clean line of action for your leading character.
4. Know where you’re going.
5. The more subtle and elegant you are in hiding your plot points, the better you are as a writer.
6. If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is in the first act.
7. A tip from Lubitsch: Let the audience add up two plus two. They’ll love you forever.
8. In doing voice-overs, be careful not to describe what the audience already sees. Add to what they’re seeing.
9. The event that occurs at the second act curtain triggers the end of the movie.
10.The third act must build, build, build in tempo and action until the last event, and then that’s it. Don’t hang around.

Midpoint Land and Fuck March.

I’ve had Final Draft open all day and literally haven’t written a god damn word. I open up the program periodically (between aimlessly scrolling thorough my Facebook feed and browsing Reddit until my eyes bleed) hoping that the exact moment my screenplay pops up the gods of wit and humor will shove a lightening bolt up my ass and my mind will spew greatness all over the place. It hasn’t happened yet, so now I’m writing on this blog for the sole purpose of not going completely insane.

Remember back when I said I hope March doesn’t end up being a bad month? Well let me break it down for you. March has been fucking horrible. I’ve worked 3 out of 19 days. I thought this was the busy time of the year? Last month, in fucking February — the shortest month of the year — I was working a feature pulling out 6 day weeks and turning down multiple jobs. Who killed all the job fairies? Work for me is like having a girlfriend. When you’re single, no one fucking cares. When you’re dating, every girl and her mother is checkin’ you out with husky and buttery eyes.

The only good part of not working is the fact that I get so incredibly bored (yesterday I watched the ENTIRE season of Spartacus: Blood and Sand, wtf) I start doing crazy things like actually working on my screenplay. Which so far has got me to churn out a wonderful 49 pages.  *Pauses and sips cold coffee out of a bowl* That’s right. I started drinking coffee out of bowls. I’m just going to blame it on Food + Lab WeHo. I know, it’s kinda weird at first. You’re all like “Coffee in a bowl? How do I drink this?” You drink it like soup without a spoon, and it’s awesome. Maybe when I ate at Food Lab they were just being lazy and ran out of mugs, I don’t know. But I feel like this is what it must have felt like to discover the wheel. Maybe not as important, but somewhere in the same realm of awesome. Now I’m rambling all because I —

— am hitting midpoint land in my screenplay and am dreading writing the next scene. There. I said it. I enjoy writing scenes that have to do with people hunting zombies in the woods, or the awkward hilarity that ensues when a couple must break into a morgue to steal a dead lady’s finger. But I have now come to the point in this particular story where my lead obtains a false victory by falling in love, exploring new freedom, and doing what every modern-day couple does on their first date — get trashed off wine and have wild sex. My whole screenplay so far has mostly just been negativity and crazy shit. Now I actually have to give my lead a decent time and I can’t do it. If I can enjoy the movie Lost in Translation, I can write a funny yet meaningful date scene.  So. This is what I’m going to do.

JUST FUCKING WRITE IT.

Beware The Ides of March!

Three posts in one day! NO WAYOMG.

No idea why I named this post that. I hope bad things aren’t going to happen. I definitely hope I don’t get stabbed 23 times. That would just put a real downer on the beginning of 2012. Even getting stabbed 1 time would pretty much be horrible.

I know I said I would post what I decided to write soon after the holidays. Unfortunately January became a freak out month cause I couldn’t find any work. But I survived again… somehow. Then in February something amazing happened. I worked my first feature! 18 days of ass busting work. Three 6-day weeks consisting of about 75 hours of work per week. It was hell, and I was so loving it. My AD’s were basically training me to be a PA god… and I learned a whole lot. I’m sure I have material for more PA articles now

I came out here to work on features… and I definitely want to work another one. The entire crew was amazing… which is rare. There are usually those one or two people you wish would die in a car wreck on the way to work one morning… Not on this feature. Everyone was a joy. Anyway… that is over now… and the money is almost gone already. Time to look for more work.

On a good note I had some time to really think about writing, and I’ve decided to start working on a dark comedy I’ve been brewing for a while. The feature I worked on was low budget. It probably was in the $1Mil range. I got to see what one could do with a million dollars. Most of the features I’ve been brewing would cost a shit load of money to produce — not usually a good way to break into the industry as a new writer. So I’ve decided to get this dark comedy finished because:

  • It doesn’t have many lead actors
  • It doesn’t have many locations
  • It doesn’t have any HUGE set pieces
  • It could probably be shot low budget and still be awesome.

I feel something like this could sell way easier than my screenplay about a futuristic medieval zombie apocalypse, or the earth building a spaceship to meet the source of an alien message. Even though my heart is set on epic… I need to get to that point somehow. So I’m going to try and be epically low budget out of the gate. I could be going at this completely wrong, but it’s where my head is at.

I hit my first act break today and magically landed right on page 25. That is pretty much an awesome coincidence. I’m writing a vomit draft… so it’s nothing but a crazy person’s thoughts on paper at this point… and the first act break still landed on 25. That makes me happy. I’m going the right direction with this shit, I can feel it.

I’ve been in a caffeine induced haze all day playing make believe and talking with people that don’t exist. Thus the life of a writer. So now I’m going to drink a lot of beer.

I’ll let you know how this venture goes someday in the future. Until then… beware the ides of March!!!

12Point Beats out ‘Gladiator’ — errr Part 1?

Haha. So… I love this movie called Gladiator. Have you heard of it? I think it’s awesome. I have a freakin framed Gladiator poster on my wall. Anyway… I was about to make a new post on the site when I saw I had a draft in my inbox. Apparently I drank too much over the holidays and started an article but never finished it. Here it is… Part 1 of my drunken Gladiator Breakdown. When will part 2 happen? Probably the next time I get drunk and decide to watch Gladiator.

Enjoy————————— drunken run on sentences and all.

Alone, House-sitting for the Holidays. Decided to start drinking some bourbon. Gladiator comes on HBO. Oh snap. Gladiator is one of my favorite movies of all time. I decided to get out a pen and paper and actually try and figure out why I love this movie so much. So here it goes. Enjoy.

Within the first 3 minutes of the film you love the main character. Maximus walks through his army and you can tell his men love him. He is a leader. He is awesome. You already want him to win without even hearing him talk. When he does talk, we love him even more. He’s confident. He gives the calvary a pep talk and jokes about going to the afterlife. Again, his men love him, so we love him.

Then we have an awesome battle scene. This battle gives us the tone of the film. It’s going to be realistic, and bloody. This battle is epic and we’re suddenly falling in love. We’re losing ourselves and soon we’re in the movie, rooting for our main character to kill all the barbarians. We’re out for blood.

The beginning of the film sets up all the main characters. We have Maximus, our Hero. This guy named Commodus. We don’t necessarily know he’s bad, but we automatically don’t like him because he’s being negative about his father dying as soon as we see him. We see Commodus’ sister Lucilla. We see our dear Emperor Proximo. We see the relationship between Proximo and Maximus. A relationship that fuels the hate between our antagonist and protagonist.

We learn our Hero’s wants and desires. All he wants is to go home to his wife and children. He doesn’t want to fight, he wants to farm. But… being the story it is, we know this isn’t going to happen. Something bad has to happen to spin our character into Act 2.

We have our call to action. Proximo tells Maximus that he is going to be the heir. He wants Maximus to be the emperor. But NO! Our character has to refuse the call to action. This happens in every good movie. The refusal of the call. But, something I learned about movies is, our hero has to decide to go. Our hero has to DECIDE himself to accept the call. This is a problem I really struggle with in writing, but it’s very important.

Maximus does accept the call to action, but it’s a very small part of the film. Maximus tells his friend Cicero “We may not be able to go home after all.” This shows that after all the debate, Maximus has reasoned with the greater good and realized that Commodus can not become the emperor. HE has to become the emperor. BUT NO! Nothing is ever easy in movieland.

———–

And that’s where I passed out. I didn’t even finish the movie.  I really doubt there is going to be a part 2.

[Update: This post gets a lot of hits… only because of the word “gladiator” searched in google. I’m sorry for everyone who came here looking for something else.]

Happy Holidays and Charlie Kaufman!!!

I am alive. I have not completely abandoned this website. In fact, I hope to write here more in the months to come. My life since moving to Los Angeles has been absolutely crazy, but I’m still here. Surviving. For all you 10 people who read my blog. I’M NOT DEAD!

I have finally been able to put myself in a place where I can begin to write again. Working and moving and looking for work and working on websites and looking for more work have kept me from doing what I really came out here to do — sell a fucking screenplay. Now that the film industry has absolutely shut down for the holidays, I can sit back and do a little soul-searching. What do I want to write?

Do I want to start working on one of the 5 features I’m trying to structure? Do I want to re-write the feature I wrote last year? Do I want to work on one of the two TV Pilots I’m trying to develop? I have to pick something soon. I made a pact with a fellow writer that we’re both going to start working on our respective projects by Christmas Day.

While I sit here and ponder these thoughts I’ve decided to listen to what fellow screenwriters have to say by tuning into the BAFTA Screenwriting Lecture Series.

Right now I’m watching the brilliant Charlie Kaufman say awesome things like:

Your dreams are very well written. I know this, without knowing any of you. People turn anxieties, crises and longing, love, regret and guilt into beautiful rich stories in their dreams. What is it that allows us the creative freedom in our dreams that we don’t have in our waking lives? I don’t know, but I suspect part of it is that in our dreams we are not constricted by worry about how we will appear to others. It’s a private conversation with ourselves, and if we’re worried about it, this becomes part of the dream. I think if we were better able to approach our work this way, the results would be different.

I suggest you check it out.

I hope you all have an awesome holiday season! Take the pact with me and my friend and start writing something by Christmas Day! I’ll let you know what I decided to start working on after the holidays.

Cheers.

Being Busy Not Being Busy

I haven’t posted in a week.  It’s because I’ve been on an extended period of downtime… and it sucks. It really blows.  I’m one of those “work-a-holic” types, and my patience is being tested. I’m so restless. I sent out 26 resumes last week to countless black holes. An Assistant Editor job I was in the interview process for got put on indefinite hold.  A Set PA gig on a commercial got bumped to next month.  The people I have worked for in the past don’t have anything for me at this point in time.  I needed to find SOMETHING to keep me busy, and feed the work-a-holic inside me — so I started another blog.  I know, I should be writing my feature.  I am doing that as well. That’s one good thing about downtime.  I wrote a new horror logline, I’m developing a treatment for an adventure film, and still switching between writing two features.  I know… I just need to finish one of them and get on with my life.

A couple friends and I have just launched a movie news blog.  It keeps me busy while I’m not working and, an added plus to running a news site, now I know everything happening in the industry.

On a good note, I made a couple new contacts, had a phone interview with a company that may bring me some work, and talked to a 1st A.D. who added me to the interview rotation for a PA job on a TV show. Should hear back from her in about 3 weeks.  Fingers crossed.

Oh… and I discovered MineCraft, Portal 2, and I’ve done some catching up on Parks and Rec.

So I guess what I’m trying to say in this post is, USE YOUR DOWNTIME. Stay busy when you’re not busy, you never know where it might lead you.

Star Wars Story Structure

A friend’s mom, who owns a flower company, needed extra drivers today because of their Mother’s Day weekend rush. I can drive, and I needed the money, so I sped around town all day bringing joy to mother’s everywhere via expensive dying plants.  Now that I’m home, all I want to do is catch up on Justified and go to bed.

I’m trying to write something everyday, whether that be my spec, novel, or a blog post. My brain doesn’t want to be creative, so I’m going to share something amazing.

Today, PART 2 of The Star Wars Beat Sheet was posted over at Save the Cat! and is a must read for anyone interested in Star Wars, screenwriting, or storytelling in general. Inside, Tom Reed gives a very perceptive breakdown of Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope which sheds a unique insight into the backbone of the movie that started it all.

“Break into Two” can just as easily be called “Choose Act Two,” and Luke does not choose to move forward until after he returns to Ben at minute 42:00.  This may seem late — 12 to 15 pages too late according to conventional thinking.  However, it’s important to remember that Luke’s story doesn’t begin until minute 17:00, and the script interval between 17:00 and 42:00 is exactly 25 pages;  the perfect length for Act I.]

Read PART 1 and PART 2 and follow Save the Cat! for even more great breakdowns, interviews, and articles.