I got such a good idea for a feature that I'm clapping my hands together chanting 'Hercules, Hercules'. If it weren't for the fact I need to be writing my 'House' spec right now, I'd dig in on this.
It feels like I'm being denied a new shiny toy. I need to just add it to my wishlist for later. Hoo-boy I think this one's a keeper.
Friday, July 29, 2005
I got such a good idea for a feature that I'm clapping my hands together chanting 'Hercules, Hercules'. If it weren't for the fact I need to be writing my 'House' spec right now, I'd dig in on this.
Another month, another batch of screenwriting blogs. This month I've added:
- Dreaming in Tennessee (by frequent commentor TN_Dreamer)
- this savage art... which has been around awhile, but I keep forgeting to link it. **This has been updated, sorry for the bad link.
- Fresh Hell (by sometimes commentor Kira)
Now, you all have to remember the golden rule of blogging (and staying on my blogroll): Post or you're toast!
(By the way, for the curious, blogs that are registered with Blogrolling to be pinged will be preceded by an asterik if your blog has had an update in the last 2 hours on my blogroll. You can always tell which blogs are fresh here at 'Shouting')
Thursday, July 28, 2005
It's not my fault, really. I just can't help it when I see something that could be better, I just want to help them fix it.
The result: I talk too much in class. The teacher doesn't say it, I'm sure she wouldn't, but I don't blame my classmates for resenting me and my big mouth.
One good rule of feedback: Don't overload people. Of course, I consider myself bulletproof in the feedback department, but others might not be...
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
So we've talked about the importance of networking and how/where to potentially meet other writers and people in the business. Now you need to know what to say to those people and how to keep those connections strong. Most importantly, you have to make your connections work for you.
Let's back up and talk more generally here. I don't know about you, but I find that sometimes I don't do a good job at managing my relationships with others. You meet someone, exchange business cards or program each other into your cellphones and then...you don't follow up. Or they don't call back. Either way, the relationship withers and dies. When that happens, you've just broken the first rule in Relationship Management: Never lose a contact.
You may not understand where each contact fits into the big picture, but that's more reason not to let them fade away. Look at the following list of "contacts" and determine what they all have in common:
-- a writer from your class writing their first script
-- a blogger you've been reading who appears to be working on a TV spec
-- a person you met at the Screenwriting Expo who works as an assistant at a studio
-- a grip who works on films and would like to be a director
Beyond the obvious of 'they are all working their way into or are in the business' there's another key similarity -- they are all contacts! Each one of these people has the potential to be someone you can talk to, pass work to, work with...the possibilities are endless.
Here's a story from my life. This is an example of what NOT to do in managing relationships.
When my sister and I first moved to our condo, our neighbors(who have since moved) were a hairdresser for TV/films on one side and in the other unit was an older woman who used to be a script supervisor. The woman who used to be a script supervisor offered to teach me her craft, something that can be very good work once you get in the union and can also help you understand your writing. She moved out a couple of months after I moved in and I had every intention of keeping her as a contact...
...until I lost her phone number. I tried to track her down, but I still can't find her, a year later. That was BAD. That was a contact I could learn from, who was willing to teach me something that is a very usable skill in this industry and would have helped my writing. (I'll post about script supervisors and what they do some other time, if there's interest). The lesson I learned here was, SAVE EVERYONE'S PHONE NUMBER/E-MAIL ADDRESS/CONTACT INFO. Keep a spreadsheet on your computer or use your e-mail program or a palm pilot to store your contacts. Write them in a book. Whatever you have to do to keep the information, don't lose it.
So, here's a scenario. You've seen that someone has just written a new book about screenwriting and is going to be signing books, maybe even doing a Q&A at a local bookstore (I've done this one for networking too -- doesn't happen as often, but still a good one). What should you do?
Here are some possibilities. Let's say you haven't written anything yet. At this point, you need to make connections to learn from people (hopefully that's why you are reading blogs too). Talk to the author, talk to others who have come to the signing. Find out what their interests are. The basic question you can ask anyone is 'what are you working on?' This is a good place to start. If you've met another newbie, you can swap stories of your attempts to write and maybe you've just found someone who can keep you motivated (like a workout buddy, but a writing buddy). If someone has just finished a script and is looking for feedback, maybe you can (down the line, not the first time meeting them) offer to read the work and offer feedback. Maybe you've met someone who is trying to get an agent. You can learn from this person too. They have an agent? Even better, then you know someone you can talk to about submitting work to agents when the time comes.
Now you talk to the author of the book who is signing things, maybe while getting the autograph on the book you will buy (hey, I didn't say this trip was free) or if you're a cheapskate wait until after the Q&A and try to steal a moment with the person. Usually you can do this unless the author is on a tight schedule. Start with the usual, 'your book sounds great, looking forward to reading it'...oh, you DID read up on the person before you went, right? If you are going to be successful in relationship management, follow Rule Number Two: Know your contact. If the person has credits, know them. This is what Google was made for. Be able to compliment them on something they've done. Bonus points if you take the time to read something else they've written or seen a film they wrote. Again, ask about their latest project besides the book. Trust me, they'll have one. Now you've reached a decision point. It could be that this person won't care about getting your contact information and if the person is pretty well known, he/she could be pretty wary of giving out contact info. No matter, you don't need a phone number/e-mail in hand for this one. After all, you know who their publisher is. And if you do your research you'll find another way to contact them. The key here is to make the connection, have the conversation. You never know when 'I met you at your books signing at Barnes & Noble in April and I really enjoyed your book' might come in handy.
So far, we've presented the first two rules of Relationship Management:
1. Never Lose A Contact
2. Know Your Contact
Next Tuesday we'll get into how to maintain your contacts and make them work for you.
Monday, July 25, 2005
Today marks the 1st birthday of this blog. I started it as a way to spout off about whatever came to mind and over the course of the year it guided me to its true purpose -- to discuss my writing and my journey to become a working (paid) writer.
So here's to the next year of 'Shouting into the Wind'. May I never get too hoarse or my lips get too chapped. :-)
Sunday, July 24, 2005
Went to see The Island this weekend. Apparently, I was the only one (though I'd swear the theater I was in was pretty full). I actually enjoyed the film a lot, which makes me wonder 2 things:
1. Is it okay to like Michael Bay? All of the critics tell me not to. I probably shouldn't tell them of my secret love for Armageddon
2. Did I miss the memo that said 'don't see this really expensive movie' this weekend?
I dunno. I'm gonna offset my sin of enjoying a Michael Bay movie by going to see March of the Penguins today. I loves me some penguins.
Friday, July 22, 2005
...if people continue to search for the film Hustle and Flow by looking for "hustel and flow"...someone happened to typo it in the comments and so people are finding the blog.
Okay, if you are looking for this film or information about it, you might want to heed Google when it asks you Do you mean Hustle and Flow?
...unless you are German. Then you are allowed to misspell.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Most folks know that Moviebytes.com has a pretty comprehensive list of screenwriting contests and film festivals.
Now meet Withoutabox.com. Register (basic membership is free) with this website and you can see many of the current contests and film festivals accepting submissions. Some even offer a discount on the entry fee to Withoutabox members. If you upload your script with information, you can submit it to some contests through their website, saving you time and money.
Check it out!
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Admit it, we'd all like to believe that talent alone will get us noticed, get us an agent, get us a job or a sold spec. As with any other career and probably more so, we know the truth is there is a combination of factors that will help us along. Talent is pretty important but talent is not the most important thing to have. Luck is hard to gauge, but I'd assert it plays a part. No, the most important factor in success has got to be determination. But how do you focus your determination into positive results.
Answer, you've gotta have friends.
Networking is probably the most important skill to have as an aspiring screenwriter. I like many others I'm sure, can be pretty darn hermit-like. While this may be great for focusing on honing our craft and making our scripts great, it doesn't help us much in "playing the game." I also don't think there's any shame in networking. I've actually met other aspiring screenwriters who have told me that they feel that an agent will kill for their script. Sure, they don't know anyone at CAA or Endeavor, but their script is dynomite and it cannot be denied.
Look, this blogging thing -- it's great to keep me motivated, but I'll admit it, it's also a way to connect with other people. Don't be closed off to any avenues of meeting people. In my experience, here are a few of the best ways:
- Take a class -- I've taken several classes at UCLA and in each one I make a point to stay in contact with instructors and classmates. Building a good network takes time, but this can provide you a quick way to advance your circle of friends and colleagues very quickly.
- Message boards -- The Artful Writer is a great one. So is Wordplay. Without being in the WGA, these boards provide not only insight into working writers' psyches but direct access to them. Along with message boards, the next best thing are other writer blogs, particularly working writers like John August. Now, don't be stupid and ask them straight out for a job. That will get you nowhere fast. Many of these blogger writers are however willing and able to answer questions from newbies. Take advantage and LEARN.
- Meetup.com -- Did you know there's a Hollywood screenwriters meetup group? Actually, there are many many meetup screenwriter's groups all across the country. See if there's one in your area and join it. If there isn't one near you, why not start one? You may be surprised how many aspiring screenwriters live in your area...
- Other writer groups -- Besides Meetup.com, there are other writer groups out there. I know the Alameda Writer's Group (AWG) is a pretty substantial one. I've already signed up to their Yahoo! group and plan to attend the next meeting, provided I'm in town. Some groups may charge a membership fee, so be sure to check. Don't live in Los Angeles? Again, just start googling. Another way to find other writer's is to refer to my previous suggestion about taking a class. Can't afford a class? Why not just post a flyer at the nearest campus looking for writers to share pages and to meet with. You may be able to form a group without hitting the classroom.
- Screenwriting Expo -- It's probably the biggest screenwriting event in the country (Austin's Festival is probably #2). Hundreds, no, thousands of aspiring writers will be there taking in panels, listening to writers, pitching scripts. You could meet not only other writers, but pros, maybe even an agent or two. Networking goldmine.
So you've found some ways to network. What do you do when you network? How should you approach people? How do you build connections with people. Most importantly, how can you make these connections work for you?
Ah, that's the next post. Stay tuned.
Sunday, July 17, 2005
Finished reading Harry Potter VI today. I'll reserve my comments/review until I feel everyone who wants to read it has and those who won't get around to it won't care what I say. I dare not incur the wrath of a Harry Potter fan who hasn't finished the latest book.
This one was shorter than the last one, only 650 pages. I blazed right through it. Read about an hour or so yesterday and finished it in 6 today. Kinda slow for me, but I did take breaks to eat and clean the kitchen...
So, I'm off to see Wedding Crashers. Will try to catch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory later this week.
What did everyone else do this weekend?
Saturday, July 16, 2005
So, got my first draft (and I mean really really rushed first draft) of my "House" spec outline back from my instructor (btw, for those keeping score, this is a new class so the instructor for this class does NOT write for "House". The instructor for my previous class does write for the show.)
So, how to interpret the notes...there are exactly 2, not counting the 'Very Good!' at the top of the first page. Note number 1 tells me that a scene in Act 4 might not be needed. Note number two says that another scene later on in the Act could be combined with the scene I might not need.
That's it. Those are the notes. I'm not sure I can revise my draft from this.
So either it is 1) the most brilliant outline ever written or 2) it was so bad she didn't know what to point out.
Please God, let it be #2. I don't know if I could handle it being really brilliant.
Working on the revision of my "Lost" spec today. I'll go back to the outline during the week...
Thursday, July 14, 2005
The Emmy nominations were announced this morning. Here's the full list.
You have to scroll quite aways to get to the writing categories. I was thrilled to see that the "Three Stories" episode of House was nominated, as it was definitely my favorite of the season. Oddly enough, it was the one episode my instructor (who writes for the show) wasn't sure about...
Lost picked up two writing nominations. Yay for Terry O'Quinn and Naveen Andrews getting supporting actor noms!
Also note the sad state of sitcoms.
So, other reactions...?
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
This story (hat tip: Slashdot) discusses the revival of B movies on the Sci-fi Channel, which is investing about $21 million for 28 more films.
I helped write a short 'B' movie once for my sister's class. I think it's time to dust that puppy off and bring it back as a feature!
A new study notes that at least 90% of DVR users skip the commercials.
I use my DVR many times for the sole purpose of skipping commericals. I'll start recording a show and turn it on about 16 minutes in so I can watch the whole thing without sitting through a single commercial.
Talk about a waste of money studying that phenomenon. Hey, guess what geniuses, 90% of web surfers hate pop up ads and ignore them or block them! You need to study that? Give me $100K and I'll prove it to ya with pretty charts and graphs and everything!!
Monday, July 11, 2005
Four Weddings and a Funeral Abso-bloody-lutely brilliant...except the last 5 minutes.
"It's raining? I hadn't noticed." Worst. Delivery. Of Lame Line. EVER.
Okay, I'll give them that, but then they happily enjoy living in sin and not getting married or some crap like that?
To this day, I'll watch the film all the way through, and shut it off right before he goes after her. Makes me so mad.
So, Sunday my sister came home from seeing a film -- the French dubbed version of "High Tension". She says, "I liked it up until the point I didn't like it" (I'm paraphrasing).
Essentially her beef with the film was that it was almost brilliant if you could get past the gaping plot hole the size of a Mac truck. It could have been a great 3rd act twist -- it actually was until she said, "hey wait a minute, that can't be right..."
Movie that gets the 3rd act twist right in this vein: The Sixth Sense. Everything in that film lines up and makes sense and on rewatching you half think to yourself, 'how could I miss that??'
This one got close but couldn't reach the bar. And she was there with it. She said it was thrilling, edge of your seat stuff...until the end. So frustrating.
So, any movies that 'had you at hello' but left you before the end of Act III? I'll have to mull over my top pick, but I'll post it soon.
I've updated the blogroll to reflect some new screenwriting blogs -- I think we are all feeding off each other now.
Next step: how do we draw others into our little web, hmm? How shall we pull the unsuspecting into discussions of 3-act vs. 4-act vs. sequences structure or FD vs. MMS or brads vs. brass fasteners (see Artful Writer Forum FAQ for final word on that I guess)...
Who will we be able to taunt with calls for 'Concept vs. Execution' -- We can't keep going 'round in circles on this one between the 30 or 40 or so of us...
So, I propose a project for the week. Invite one friend to visit any of the screenwriting blogs (and you know what they are). Pick any blog. Pick any friend. Only rule is, they cannot have visited a Screenwriting Blog in the past.
I'd challenge you to 5 friends, but I know I can't pull that off myself. I can count on one hand minus a finger the number of friends I have. Subtract 2 more fingers for friends who haven't read a screenwriting blog...
We must refill the gene pool!
This story prompts an interesting question:
In the future, will movie viewers at home become editors?
I mean, think of the possibilities! I've said myself that I *love* the old Choose Your Own Adventure books. In the future, could the screenwriter set out various scenes and the viewer at home choose their movie? It could mean dozens of viewings and multiple opportunities for creative storytelling.
The film version of the boardgame Clue tried this with multiple endings to the film. When you went to the movie, you didn't know what ending you'd get. When it came out on video they included all of the endings shown in theaters. I'm not proposing all films should be like this (just like not all books should be like this), but think of our current environment...
Kids and teens are used to 'choosing their own adventure' through video games. They would probably take to this kind of entertainment very well.
Food for thought...
Saturday, July 09, 2005
I'm taking a break from the grind this weekend...well, at least today. I have one of my feature spec ideas itching at the back of my brain and I feel I'll need to do some work on it before the weekend is over. Still, one whole day with no writing, no obligations, no "to-do's"...I don't know what to do with myself.
So, what do *you* do when you aren't writing?
So far, my best idea is to go hang out at Borders for a bit, maybe take in a movie (but I don't know what to see -- I'm not big on "The Fantastic Four")
What an unusual situation to be in -- all this time, don't know what to do with it.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
DO NOT try to write an outline for "House" in 6 days. Don't do it. I'm here to help you, trust me. It isn't worth your life sucked into a black hole.
So, I finished my first draft outline. It needs a few more passes, but I think my story pitch passed the test in class, so I'm optimistic that there's no serious revamping on the horizon. Of course, after the last week I've had, I prefer to remain optimistic.
Meanwhile...still doing bumps and tweaks to the "Lost" spec. Overall, I think it's in pretty good shape.
That's all I've got in the tank tonight. Sorry folks. We'll try to reload tomorrow.
Monday, July 04, 2005
I've been researching diseases non-stop for two days. I always knew that writing a spec for a medical drama would be difficult, but it is draining.
I'm trying to bang out a decent outline to use for writing a spec in my current TV writing class. Since I've already written my "Lost" draft it seems an inefficient use of time to focus on that for the class. So, I'm starting anew.
"House" is a particularly difficult show. It is medical mystery and is mostly a procedural, but it focuses more on the lives of its characters than "C.S.I." but far less on their lives than say in "E.R." Trying to find how something could be misdiagnosed a couple of times isn't by itself difficult, just trying to pass the plausibility test that the doctors would miss it twice is tough. Writing a spec about someone who catches a cold but it turns out to be cancer probably wouldn't pass the plausibility test.
So, I'm going a little batty this weekend. Trying to keep it together, but I've already had some disturbing memory lapses this weekend, with my mind focused so hard on this task.
It also doesn't help that the new neighbor downstairs still hasn't finished his renovation and the contractors are working today, pounding and sawing away...
Sunday, July 03, 2005
We all talk about 'rewriting' our scripts. The rewrite is where we spend a lot of time. Second draft. Third draft. Polish. But what *is* a rewrite?
I've been pondering this because maybe I am not actually rewriting. When my draft is finished, I go through it, make notes, cross out dialogue, write new dialogue and create new scenes. Then I go back to my FD file and start acting on my notes: adding, deleting, changing. But this is augmentation, revision, not rewriting...is it? It isn't like I sit down and type an entirely new draft from scratch.
So what *is* rewriting as you do it? What seperates a first draft from a second draft? How much has to be different?
Maybe I need a rewriting class...
Friday, July 01, 2005
Another month is over, and you all know what that means -- time to look at all of the sequels, remakes and TV to big screen adaptations Hollywood has deemed suitable for rehashing. So, let's check out the deals this month, shall we? (Information courtesy of Done Deals.)
The Brazillian Job -- a followup to "The Italian Job" doesn't have any actors attached as yet. Based on the title, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say they leave Italy.
The Heartbreak Kid -- This is a remake of the 1972 film. This time the Farrelly Brothers will try to add some zany elements.
Piranha -- I've been waiting for this one to pop up. Finally, someone had the sense to remake the 1978 schlock classic. Scantily clad college students plus killer fish equals goldmine!
The Persuaders -- A remake of a 1971 British TV series to star Ben Stiller. What, they haven't gotten Owen Wilson signed up yet??
Swiss Family Robinson -- This one has been kicking around awhile at Disney, but there's a rewrite in the works. I'm sorry, but who could possibly take the place of Tommy Kirk??
Elf 2 -- Okay, so sequel to "Elf"...but so far, no Will Ferrell. Don't count on this one going ahead until they get the Elf himself signed on.
National Treasure 2 -- Obvious sequel, no idea if it will have the original cast, but I'd expect them to be looking for clues in the Statue of Liberty or something...
Underdog -- Live action. Kill me now.
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt -- Remake of Fritz Lang's 1956 film in which a reporter sets himself up to look like he committed a crime in order to prove that circumstantial evidence is dangerous. Yeah, because our court system doesn't have any other problems besides that...
Don't Look Now -- Remake of the 1973 film with Donald Sutherland. Don't know who will be in the new one, but expect it to keep the improvised sex scene. I'm sure it has been added to the script.
The Hitcher -- Remake of the 1986 film. Because there is no such thing as a horror movie that shouldn't be remade...apparently.
A Thousand Clowns -- Remake of the 1965 film about an out of work TV-writer who has to get a real job to keep his 12 year old nephew around. Whatever.
Be With You -- another creepy Japanese film remake (this one from 2004). Although, this one has romance in it and doesn't feature crazy ghost people coming out of walls, so it will probably be cool.
The Bourne Ultimatum -- More about Jason Bourne and based on the novel. Yay! Matt Damon won't sign on until he reads it...
The Untouchables: Capone Rising -- Prequel to "The Untouchables" based around how Al Capone got to where he was before being brought down.
Those are the remakes, sequels and TV adaptations for June. We'll see what Hollywood digs up in July!