Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Ladder Climbing

I've been feeling a touch jaded lately. And I don't like to feel that way. I like enthusiasm and positivity. I'm a hopeful realist. I realized my glumness is because there's no new tidbits to get me fired up. I've been working my ass off. Things are progressing. There's been some nice things happen. But there's been no new peeks lately.  And then I thought about ladders.

I think the journey of screenwriting like a series of ladders. And what you get excited about depends on where you are on the ladders.

Here's my ladder analogy...

There's the "hobbyist ladder". This is the one where you really have no fucking clue, but writing is the bomb. You're filled with hope and ideas of success and getting involved in the whole world of screenwriting, but you haven't quite committed to it. You might not tell anyone you're writing. You've never had professional feedback. You're not even sure what that is. Your mom likes your scripts. By the time you climb that ladder, you've made the commitment to learn the craft. It's time to get serious about becoming a screenwriter. Many drop off here or just stay on this ladder, where it's fun.

Next, you jump over to the "amateur ladder". This is the learning ladder. The social ladder. The ladder of hard work and dedication. The ladder where you enter the society of writers. Courses, books, articles, webinars, social media, you troll professional blogs and are a sponge. You find your homies (writing groups). You write a lot. You get better. You get professional feedback. You get better. You enter contests. You get better. You rise in the ranks. You might win a few. You get some reads by legitimate execs. You might make a short or help on other people's. Then you maybe get a manager, or get an option, or contracted to write something. Feels great to be at the top of this ladder.

And then you jump to the bottom of the "professional ladder". This is the ladder where you're trying to get paid and eek out a living as a full time writer. You get pro champions for your work. You build relationships with producers/directors. You probably write on spec for "up-and-comers" in the hopes that something will come of it. You might make more shorts. You might get small gigs, and then hopefully bigger ones, that pay... And climb that ladder.

The higher the ladder, the less people are on the ladder with you. At the bottom, there's a shit ton of climbers. You're climbing all over each other, hard to tell everyone apart. But if you are original enough, good enough, then you might be able to catch a higher rung and climb. The higher you get, the farther apart the rungs are. The pro ladder is a long and hard fucking ladder. You grow tough. Calloused. You may get a bit dinged up. But you hang on. Because you've just climbed too many damn ladders by now to give up.

I don't know what the pro ladder looks like after that. Maybe once you really break in with the first decent sale, or the first film produced, or a well paid contract the rungs start to get closer together again. I live in hope to see that part of the ladder. I imagine that section is really fun and crazy. Like Wonderland in a wild, action-packed theme park. There's flying monkeys and carnival mirrors.

Then there's the "elitist ladder" (or A-list ladder), but I have absolutely no clue what that ladder looks like. I'm sure it's made of gold, and there's beautiful people serving you champagne and feeding you grapes while trolls lurk behind the ladder and try to push you off. Maybe.

SO... that's the ladders.

Side Note: Of course, everyone's series of ladders are going to be slightly different, but you get the general idea.

I think on each ladder, there are different things to be excited about. I remember almost shitting my pants when I won a few comps. I mean, the bubbles came out, I was ecstatic for months! I felt a great sense of accomplishment. When I first started getting reads from proper execs!?! Holy shit, that was awesome. I mean G. Del Toro's company was reading MY script! Fuck me. I was sure each time (in the beginning) there was a big deal waiting for me. And when I got a manager, I celebrated like mad. And all of these things were absolutely valid excitements. I was climbing. Moving "onwards and upwards".

And all you can really see from the ladders are the rungs below you. But the ones above you are in the clouds. You can't anticipate those. Like life, I guess. But I think the more rungs below you, the more you learn to temper your excitement, because along with more accomplishments, there are inevitably more rejections too. And if you allow the roller coaster to get out of hand, you're going to barf. Maybe even let go of the ladder. So, I guess it takes more now to get me excited. It needs to be something new.

My short script won 2nd place recently in a comp, and I wasn't even excited. No bubbles. Shame really. What we get excited about shifts. Now I'm pumped about a potential book option. Things that will help me keep climbing. And yesterday, I got a whiff of something very exciting, but it's WAY too premature to even think about, let alone speak about. That's the other thing... you learn WHEN it's appropriate to even allow yourself to get excited.

It's an individual sport of climbing ladders. But it's great to be excited for someone else's achievements, regardless of where you or they are on the ladders. You can relate if you've already been on that rung. You can get a glimmer into the clouds if that rung is above you. And you can just be damn happy that someone's climbing those ladders, just like you are. There's strength in that. Comradery. There's no limit on goodwill. God knows we can use all of that we can get. I think that's a good way to avoid falling too far into the jaded pit. I'm very grateful for my homies. You need friends to laugh with on those fucking ladders.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Episodic vs Features

A few years ago, I was asked to write a few TV pilots for a producer in LA. It was a mad time, churning out 4 action pilots in as many months. And I had no idea what I was doing. I studied screenwriting, not TV writing. I'd only written feature scripts till then. The producer said "Just think of it like a shorter script, that doesn't have to wrap everything up." The gig came and went, studio contract fell through, whatever. But it got me thinking about TV... and how much more complicated it was than what that producer tried to lead me to believe.

Cut to now. I've written more spec features, and finally feel like I'm starting to get the hang of it. But  now, the buzz is that it's smart for a feature writer to also be involved in writing episodic. (I'm calling it episodic because it's not just TV anymore, is it? TV is just one platform of many to watch series programming.) I've heard several times from various pros that I should change my sci-fi feature script into a series. . What to do. What to do.

So rather than ditch my feature efforts and jump on the episodic trend like a desperado out for a paycheck, I wanted to see if this was something I really wanted to do. It felt so different to me. Like another world, with different people, different rules, and a new way to look at writing. Lots to learn. And after all my feature efforts... did I want to start over again without feeling like I've given features my best shot?

So I did what I do when unsure... research. I've read a few great books on writing for TV (one book in particular I thought was great, link below), read some TV scripts (link below of a great source for TV scripts), I've listened to Jane Espenson talk about how much she loves episodic and why, (she's written for so many of my favorite shows!) I've also watched The Hollywood Reporters roundtables of showrunners. Illuminating. My manager is a wealth of info about episodic, and how it works, and what exactly is a showrunner, etc. (THR Roundtable of Showrunners link is below)

What I'm learning is that in series writing, there's the creator of the show, often the exec producer. There's the showrunner, who is the creative voice of the show and head of the writers. Sometimes the creator and showrunner are the same person. Aaron Sorkin for ex. As for the directors, on some shows, the directors are rotated, and have much less say than even the main actors. Some shows have different guest directors, while others have a more consistent force in their director. With some big film directors doing episodic, I'm sure the traditional hierarchy is somewhat different. David Fincher is a director and an EP of HOUSE OF CARDS, and well, he's David Fincher. I imagine he'd be the boss.

From what I can tell, it used to be that a new writer wouldn't become a showrunner. That position was filled by the network with experienced writers if your show got picked up. So as a new writer, the best you could hope for would be to retain "created by" credit, and then give up the writing to someone else. But that seems to be changing as well. (Maybe??)  Well, there seem to be many more extenuating circumstances lately, and new writers are getting more of a shot. My optimistic viewpoint prevails.

And of course, there's the Netflix factor with HOUSE OF CARDS... instead of doing many pilots and testing them to see which one to produce, Netflix jumps in with both feet, and makes an entire season of a show, "airing" the season in it's online network all at once. Sadly, I've only heard about Netflix, like a beautiful land of endless fun, because it hasn't come to NZ yet. (grumble grumble) But it's forging a brave new way to produce and watch entertainment. And it's working. From what I can tell from listening to interviews, etc, it's also changed how writers look at the pilot, and how they unfold the story. They can take their time, and let us into the world more slowly, without feeling that they have to make the pilot whiz bang with everything, or the show will never see the light of day. That's pretty damn cool new system I think. Yay Netflix. (now come to NZ please!)

The other big thing I've learned about episodic is that things move (a lot!) faster than features. There's less outside influence and fewer opinions that have to be catered to than in a film, for a writer. It does sound quite stressful, but at the same time, things get done. You write an episode one week, and it's being shot the next. Unlike a feature that might take years (and years) to ever get shot. You live and die by quick decisions, but at least you can still remember what you wrote and why.

AND... it seems that more risks are now being taken with episodic than with film. Or specifically, networks, Netflix or webseries are taking more risks than the studios. And this is exciting for a writer. (John Landis has some interesting things to say about this. Link below)

So what I've discovered, in broad general strokes, is that episodic is more of a writer's arena, where the pace moves at a clip, and you can develop a world, story and characters in a kind of depth that you never could with a feature. Sounds pretty awesome.

I won't give up on my feature scripts, or my dream of seeing my story and characters played out on a big screen. I really do love the movies. I will always love the movies.

But seems that I can have my cake and a glass of wine too! Today, there's not such a line to cross with writing for features or episodic. Writers can do both! That's even more awesome sauce.

And that seems to be where I find myself now. I have been brought on board this insanely cool sci-fi episodic project in it's development stage. The director is visionary, and a joy to work with. It's an independent production company, with independent financing. After reading my sci-fi script and many chats later about the concept, life and the human or alien condition, he's asked me to write his show. Just like that. I still pinch myself every day and am grateful every day to play in this amazing world he's created.

In the meantime, I'm still in development with a producer on one of my feature scripts. We're making (slow) progress, and I hope to have her a new draft early in the new year. Fingers crossed that it makes more definitive strides next year into getting produced.

So, with a foot happily planted in both boats, I am having the time of my life!

Here's the links I promised... Enjoy!

John Landis interview...

THR Roundtable Drama Showrunners...

THR Roundtable Comedy Showrunners...

TV pilot scripts for download

The book I'm reading, so far it's very good...
Writing the TV Drama Series by Pamela Douglas

If you have any tips or links or info on writing episodic, lay it on me! I'd love to hear it!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

If I love you, I'll forgive you anything.

I just watched "THE ICEMAN". The protag is a complete psychopath. He does brutal things with absolutely no remorse or emotional residual effects. He's cold, detached, and unable to comprehend basic courtesies. BUT he has an unbreakable rule that he doesn't kill women and children, and he is a completely devoted husband and father, and he adores his family. I wanted him to be okay. Part of me felt bad for him (certainly his wife) when he was finally arrested. That's some kind of brilliant film that can make me feel badly for a cold blooded assassin who's killed over 100 people.

I've been studying this "character sympathy" thing feverishly for a while now. Emotional connection. That's what it's all about. If I'm in love with a character(s), I will forgive plot holes (as long as they're not too gaping), or poor fight sequences, or bad vfx, or almost any sin with the rest of the film. But if I'm not connected to the character(s), it had better be a pretty brilliant, well executed concept. And even then, the best I might come away with is "it was good". 

Some friends have given me some great books on the subject. 

One is called "The Story Solution" by Eric Edson. And the other is "The Art of Character" by David Corbett. (Thanks John and Dawn!) 
Check out this incredibly helpful list from The Story Solution...

I've also taken the 10-day Advanced Dialogue class at Screenwriting U, which is a repeat for me, but I wanted a refresher, and refreshed I got! It's stellar info! 

And of course there's Orson Scott Card's book "Character and Viewpoint" which is fantastic. 

So... what have I learnt (and am still learning...)?

That there's no magic formula to making people fall in love with your protag, just like in real life. But there's things that your character needs to have right from the get-go, as their char arc is just starting, before they transform into the person they'll become at the end. Things that are part of their char profiles. Their personalities.

I've been working with an exceptionally clever producer developing one of my scripts, and I'm also learning things like make sure the protag has a clear and definitive goal. And they're taking steps towards that goal. Wishy washy, floundering protags aren't who we bond with. We bond with people who are trying to get somewhere. Want something desperately, or desperately don't want something to happen. I know this sounds obvious, but when I went back to my scripts, in every case, this could be clearer. In some cases, much clearer. Damn it.

We also want strong protags. They can be shy, or lack confidence, or be terrible with the opposite sex, but deep down they have to be somehow a strong character. Believe in something strongly. Have a strong moral code. Be a presence. They have to be someone the audience is going to want to follow for two hours. They have to be smarter, or wittier, or tougher, or more calculating, or kinder, or braver than ordinary people. They have to be an expert in something, even if it's compassion. And preferably, they have to be an expert in whatever thing they need to reach their goal. Maybe it's determination and drive they need (like Rocky) over actual skill, but he had enough determination to overcome his lack of skill. Even if they're an "ordinary person in an extraordinary situation", they need to have something extraordinary about them to start with. It has to be part of their nature. 

I read CHILDREN OF MEN the other day. Brilliant script. The main character is a nobody. EXCEPT... he used to be a rebel fighter, and one of the best. And he's the only one that the rebel leader, his ex-girlfriend, trusts. So he's strong, courageous and trustworthy. Even though he seems like a nobody.

I found a list of the 100 greatest movie characters of all time. Each of these characters is somehow a strong personality, with inherent qualities in their nature to make us emotionally connect to them. And they show who they are through what they do.


I smell more rewrites in my future.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Digesting Big MF'ing Notes.

 Although nothing really “happened” this week, it was nonetheless eventful and enlightening for me. The beginning of the week, I got notes. They weren’t the notes I was hoping to get. They were the kind of notes I wanted to hide under my covers from. They were the kind of notes that I would have to change the fundamental way I thought about my story in order to address. They were the kind of notes I wanted to ignore.

I have always said… I’ll do anything to make the story better. I’ll rewrite it any way that will help the script sell or get made. I’m not precious. I understand the business of screenwriting. I get the whole “kill your darlings” thing. Change the protag to an alien? Sure! I had no darlings. I was open.

Ha! I was wrong. I guess it’s inevitable that we get attached to our ideas. In order to work through my resistance to these notes, I did some honest digging. I wanted to know what was causing my resistance and then what to do about it.

The Honest Why’s to Resisting Notes…(in any situation, not just the one I was facing this week.)

- Burn out. I’m not a lazy person by nature, but hell, everyone gets tired. I’ve spent a lot of energy, time and effort on this story. At a certain point, even the smallest change can feel like Mount Everest.

- Being too close to it. When every word has been considered, dialogue dripping with subtext, it can feel like a colossal waste of effort to even consider ditching those crafted little details. Forest. Trees.  

- Being scared that I won’t be able to pull off something different. That I won’t be able to make all the pieces fit as well. That I’ll screw it up.

- Losing the passion for the story. I have started on my next screenplay, which is all shiny and new. This unexplored world beckons me, while I am faced with a broken world waiting to be fixed. I am a product of our instant-gratification, throwaway society. This also falls into the “too impatient” category. I’ve never been praised for my patience. I am getting better with effort, but that’s simply part of my nature that I’ll have to do battle with forever. Breath by breath.

- The person giving the notes seemed condescending. Now, this shouldn’t even enter into the equation, but it does. I suspect we all want respect. We want our hard work recognized and understood. So, when I get notes that seem to disregard my efforts, I can feel myself shut off. I try not to, but it’s like a door that has a will of it’s own. SLAM. It’s not helpful. It’s ego. Yuck. But true. I read in some management-training book somewhere that people need to hear ten times the positive reinforcement to negative reinforcement in order for the negative to be accepted. Jesus, we’re fragile beings.

- There is of course, the first reason I tell myself why I am resistant to notes. That the notes suck. And sometimes, even after an open and honest evaluation, this is true. Not every story is for every person. Not every person giving feedback is a good, objective story analyst. Sometimes, the note-giver might know something’s wrong, but they don’t know how to fix it. Or they don’t know how to express the problem. That's very common. So this is the easiest way for me to fool myself when I get a note that makes my heart sink for any of the above reasons. I will try to justify why the notes suck, instead of why I am resistant to giving them a fair chance.

So, the first thing I’ve learned to do when I get this feeling of opposition to notes is to step away. Distance myself from the whole affair. Do things that inspire me. Watch movies. Read a good book. Or as this week was the Cannes Film Festival, I engrossed myself in that. I let the filmmakers’ excitement and love of storytelling infect me. I listened to Stephen Spielberg; I read articles about the films in the festival. I watched interviews where actors talked about the scripts that inspired them. I saw audiences moved by the films they saw.

And I was back. Inspired. Full of energy. Both eyes on the prize. Flying over the trees to see the forest. Ego in check. Door wide open. A willingness to do anything to make my story better; which would eventually get my script sold or made.

I re-read the notes. It’s much easier now to resist the urge to fall into darkness and despair. Now it’s time to do the work.

The biggest decision at this point is whether to take the notes on board. This depends on how I feel about the person giving the notes. Do I trust their opinion? Are they invested in helping me improve the script? Did they put time and effort into their feedback? Are they someone who could help me with my end goal of a sale or a "written by" screen credit?

If I answer yes to any of those questions, then the next step is figuring out the reason for the notes. People DO give notes for a reason. I’d be a self-indulgent idiot if I didn’t think all my stories could be improved. That’s not a lack of confidence, or false humility. It’s just true. So I have to figure out what didn’t click for them, or make them feel the way they hoped to feel. What was missing for them? That is the art of note deciphering.

I am incredibly lucky that I have people I trust and respect that I can ask for help. My manager, John, is one, and my friend and story analyst, Joey, is another. They both have a brilliant instinct for story, and clarity for the bigger picture that is rare and invaluable. I also have a very close-knit circle of wonderfully talented writer friends, and we constantly share and learn from each other. I’d be lost without these people.

So, once I’ve accepted that I need to really consider the notes, I must leave everything I’ve done behind. Everything is liquid once again. Anything can change. Nothing is pre-determined. I’m back to “what if…?” It took me a long, hard week from getting the notes to here.

And here’s the funny part. Once I arrived at this point, and started working through the new perspective of the story, brainstorming ideas and figuring out how it could all work, I started to get excited. This was good shit. This could be a better story. I could see how it was clearer, with a better structure, and still held the mystery and emotional content of the relationships that was so important to me.

I wrote up a new 4-page synopsis of the story in half a day. I guess really it was a week and a half a day, if you count all my mucking around. Some might call that the “creative process”, I guess. I call it somewhat embarrassing, but a great week of discovery.

Onward and upward!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

My 11 Commandments

I did a consultation with a development exec about a month ago. His knowledge about comedy and story are impressive. I'm looking forward to our next consultation with a new draft based on all his clever suggestions.

One of his suggestions was that I should list ten things to use as my commandments. Put them on a wall. Let them be a reminder of what I need to do. Wall. Blog. Same thing.

I ended up with 11. I’ve compiled it based on some of the wonderful things I’ve learned from people like that devel exec, Orson Scott Card, John Cleese, The Actor’s Studio, my friends, and my mom. 

1. Don't be married to words. Be married to the ideas behind them. Too many great words kill a good read.

2. Use the best characters for my story and it's audience, not just the ones I enjoy writing.

3. Don't settle on the first idea no matter how brilliant. I can always come back to it, but never pass up an opportunity to brainstorm. It’s is a free ticket to go nuts. Use it to be bold. Sexy. Inappropriate. Angry. Wild. Random. Idiotic. Truthful. 

4. Listen to my gut when it's telling me something needs more work. If I have to ask... "Is this too..." the answer is always "Yes". Convincing myself something is good means that it isn't.

5. Don't simply watch the movie unfold as I write. Live it. Be in it. Feel what the characters are feeling. Wear their shoes.

6. If I don't adore my main character, if I'm not anxious for them, horrified, elated, devastated, then no one else will be.

7. Keep it simple. One goal. One story. One theme. Overcomplicating is easy. Simple is hard.

8. Write a killer logline before committing to the story. If I can't interest someone in the concept, then it doesn't matter how it’s written. No one will read it. A logline is the quickest way to see if I'm about to waste a colossal amount of time and effort.

9. Learn from the least likely source. If someone is willing to help me, be grateful, regardless of their suggestions. Ideas are like balls in a pinball machine. The more they bounce around, the more points I'm going to get in my game.

10. Trust my path. It's not going to be the same as anyone else's. If someone says I can't do something, remember that's what they feel they can't do. Listen. Learn. Evaluate. Be open-minded. Be honest. Keep going. Onward and upward.

11. The very best way to learn how to write is to write lots.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Awesome Madness

 My last post I was waiting for a lot of things. Well… since then…

My sci-fi didn’t advance past the semi’s of Nicholl, but I had no idea that the semi’s would still get me reads! And it did. I got 14 script requests from various producers and managers to read that script. And from those requests, a few read more of my scripts… and from that… I’m getting ahead of myself.

I have been entering The Page Awards for many years, and each year, I did a little better. I feel like I have been growing up with Page, their competition tracking my progress. They are always filled with such enthusiasm and support. I went from quarters, then semi’s and then last year one of my scripts (a comedy) got into the finals. So it was super significant for me when I won 3rd place for another comedy script last year. I found out in October. (I partied hard.) From that placement, I got 12 script requests from various managers and producers, and a few read more of my scripts… and from that… well, I’m getting ahead of myself again.

In October, I met The Happy Writers. These guys have changed my life. No joke. My friend, Caz, recommended them to me. I went to them for script consulting. I knew as soon as Joey emailed me back within 5 minutes that I’d hit on a company that was different. He was personable, for God’s sake. Not like ScriptShark, or any other consultant I’ve used. The feedback was stellar, totally bang on. I did more consulting. And more. They showed me how to look at my script from a producer’s perspective. I’d never had that before. Eye opening.

Then Joey told me about the Skype pitching services they were doing. You pay to have the opportunity to pitch via Skype to a manager, agent or a producer. My friend Caz helped me with my first pitch. Thank God. I was crapping my pants in that first pitch. But it went down well, and a lovely manager asked to read my script. I was hooked. Joey and Alexis helped me even more with my pitches. I started pitching like mad.

I want to just pause for a moment, to say how much my yearlong association with Toastmasters paid off in spades for me. I was able to do my pitches without throwing up from nerves. Seriously. I am so grateful to them for helping me through my issues with public speaking. Nevermind the difference it made in my face to face meetings… but again, I’m getting ahead of myself.

In Nov, I found out that my drama won the Reel Author’s awards, which was awesome. It’s the first time I’d actually won a contest. A few weeks later, I found out that I’d won The Happy Writer’s contest with the same drama script. Now, I was chuffed that I’d won the Reel Authors, but I was over the moon that I’d won THW. Part of the prize was that they would set up meetings for me in LA. And another part was that I got my services from them for free for a year. That’s right. Free pitching. They’re crazy. I pitched to EVERYONE. I have done 39 pitches since last October. I’m a pitching fool.

I just came back from my 2 week trip to LA, where I got to see my mum, and so many of my wonderful friends (I lived there for 7 years) did 4 Skype pitches with THW, had a consult with an awesome guy from Disney on my comedy, met Joey and Alexis (LOVE those guys!!!!) met with a manager I was connected to via Page (more of that in a mo), met with an amazing A-list producer, 3 devel execs from fantastic production companies, and 2 other managers - all via Joey (truly he’s a superstar!), met the exec director of Page (she’s such a sweetheart!), and the judge who read my script (so incredibly helpful and lovely! A working writer for the past 20 years!), met with a director who was interested in one of my scripts via Nicholl (more of that in a minute), and as if all that wasn’t enough… my brother, who I hadn’t seen in 17 years, flew over from NYC to see me, which I can’t even tell you how wonderful that was.

F*ck me. Quite a trip.

The tangible results from those two weeks are that I now have :

- A manager whom I adore. I met John via The Page Awards. I would be friends with John even if we didn’t have a 2-year contract. (I’m SO thrilled). John is everything I wanted in a manager. We had two amazing meetings, and I feel in my gut that we are going to have a lot of fun together for many years to come.

- An option deal for my psych thriller, that John is working through right now. If it all goes through, as I hope hope it does, then I’ll tell you more about it. For now, I’ll just say that I had two meetings with this director (that I met via the Nicholl Awards), and he’s Awesome. We had a 3-hour story meeting, brainstorming and going through the script. It was a first for me, talking turkey with the director and his fabulous assistant, and really getting to the heart of the story, and bringing it to another level. I learned so much from them, and am so excited about the rewrite. We left feeling like family. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience for my first (potential) option.

- Connections with some amazing people via Joey, who have all told me to stay in touch. They all want to read my scripts, some need rewrites, some haven’t even been written yet. Ha! One of the devel execs I met will come visit NZ, and stay in our guest room. These meetings went well because I had so much experience pitching with THW. I was never caught out by a question I hadn't heard in some form already. I knew all my stories and pitches with ease. And I also felt comfortable talking with each of them, as I had already pitched to them all once before. I had no idea at the time I was pitching that it would save my ass later.

- My brother Jonathan, who is a brilliant composer/lyricist told me that he and a fabulous woman he writes with, want to turn one of my comedies into a musical. This is so incredible for me. First of all, I always saw this story as a musical. Don’t ask me why. Unlike my brother, I am not musical in any way. But the main reason I’m so excited and honoured that this is happening, is that I’ll get to work with Jonathan. Imagine that. Couldn’t be happier about this.

The intangible results are that I got to hang out with my Mom and her hubby. Which was awesome. I really miss her. Jonathan and I got to spend a lot of time together, getting reacquainted. I am so proud to be his sister. And I got to hang with many of my dear friends. I had a blast. We went to the Magic Castle (thanks Michael! And everyone who came. So awesome to see you guys!), the Getty (Great suggestion Robin!) and did some fabu shopping with Lisa! Keg had bubbles at the ready when I got the option (you so ROCK!). Got to meet Joey and Alexis in the flesh. How can you two be so fabulous and so gorgeous as well? Met up with my wonderful friends from the first writing group I ever belonged to. So great to see you guys! Had dinner with some old friends, which was just amazing. Big love and hugs to you all.

I didn’t get to see some pals… Christina, Karen, David, Erin, Barb… I’ll see you guys all next time!!

And that’s the news. I’ve gotten such amazing support from so many people during all this madness. It really does make all the difference.

I am one lucky puppy.

And I have a lot of writing to do...

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Waiting and Working

A few things on the go that I wanted to share. Plus my latest writing revelation. (I think it's a biggie)

My sci-fi script, GAME OF THE GODS, is in the semis of the Nicholl Fellowship. I'm still in shock. They are down to 129 scripts of nearly 7200 entrants. Now they tell me 4 Academy members read my script. And my name goes on a list that gets sent to around 200 agents/producers/managers, etc for becoming a semi-finalist.

My comedy script, 10 INTERVIEWS, is in the semi-finals of the Page Awards. I have no idea how that happened. 

A fantastic manager has contacted me (unsolicited?!) and requested to read GAME OF THE GODS. He didn't say anything about Nicholl, but why else?

I'm waiting to hear back from a producer in Vegas about my script set in Vegas. He seems lovely, and liked my script enough to pass it onto his director to see if there's interest. On his request, I've sent him a new outline based on some comments he made, and thoughts I had. I've basically changed more than half the script. But it will be so much better. I'm grateful to him, even if he passes.

So, yeah. F*ck me. Patience is key.

But I love having a few things on the go. That means I'm not pinning all my hopes on one thing. I think it's important for my moral. I've entered many more contests, and contacted more producers, and had other rejections, but the more I do, and the more I put my scripts out there, the more of a chance I have. Fingers, pies, many.

While my "business side" waits, my writing side is working away. I have the usual long list calling me. First is to get some of my sci-fi concepts in line. Then the rewrite of the Vegas script, and finally, I have a new sci-fi (a space cowgirl flick) that I'm dying to get at.

But I've also been thinking a lot about emotional content. I have come to the conclusion that I haven't been infusing enough emotional content into my scripts. I'm plot driven. So it takes me a lot of drafts to get the emotion into the script. But it's the emotional content that makes someone fall in love with a story and a character. So I've been reading some books on Method Acting. That's right. Because the theory (from what I can tell) about Method Acting, is that you don't play the part, you are the part. That way you aren't acting, you're feeling. It's intuitive. You can't hide from the emotions of the character, because they are your emotions. And this has made me ask myself, when I'm writing, do I simply watch the story unfold, or do I live the story as it's being told? I can put myself in my character's shoes, but it's more of an empathetic stance, than a completely personal stance. And I think there's a world of difference in that. So, while writing my next script I'm going to engage in the exercises a Method Actor does, and find shoes that my character would wear, and literally walk in them. Yup. I'm going to actually wear their shoes while I write. Of course, as a writer writing all the parts, instead of an actor acting one part, that's a lot of shoes. But it might work. Or I might go mad. But I think it's going to be worth a shot! I'm excited. Method Writing. WTFN?