Thursday, March 31, 2005

I'm Back, Ouch

I hate blogs that don’t update. Thus I hate myself.

I have three great excuses: Flu Back Travel. Yeah, I was sick, then I was sore and then I was away. I’m feeling mostly better, back still sore and phlegm still flowing but good enough to sit at a computer and type.

The truth is that I haven’t been writing in the script either. I’ve been away from it since I last updated. When I opened it today I couldn’t have been less motivated or inspired. I was finally able to decide what I would write next. I have to write a pretty important action scene and I know that if I just sit down and do it, pages will come. The only drawback to that plan is that I am entirely sure that the whole scene will then have to be completely rewritten because I didn’t think about it enough. I am going to marinate for a day or two and then sit back down.

I just got accepted (randomly) to direct a short film in the Boston leg of the 48 Hour Film Project. At first I didn’t make the cut but it appears a team had to withdraw, so there was an opening. I had already committed to shooting someone else’s film in the competition but had to bail on them because what I really want to do is direct. I’m trying to crew up for the weekend of writing, shooting and editing. So far I have a few positive responses and some gear.

I’m also thinking about entering a film into the Salem Amateur Horror Film Festival. At this moment I might enter the first 10 minutes or so of a script I started but stopped because the movie Underworld came out and was so similar to my plot I had to stop. My idea wasn’t about vampires fighting werewolves, but more about the hidden battle between a group of people afflicted with a curse/virus/disease and the people who are hunting them down with hopes to eliminate them. My story was much more personal and much less Matrix meets Interview with a Vampire meets the Matrix meets the Matrix (did I mention meets the Matrix?) I was going for more Running on Empty meets I Was A Teenage Werewolf.

I’ve been thinking about how to rework it and I might just tweak the opening with a bit more story and a dramatic arc of some sort. Maybe this will inspire me enough to reopen the script and try to make it less like the mediocre monster movie that beat me to the big screen.

Friday, March 18, 2005


So I just re-read (and changed a few lines) of my first script. I am prepping it to send it out to the 2005 Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting. I put the link there because I know I can trust you and you won’t send your screenplay there thus making the competition for a 30 grand writing fellowship any harder for me to secure. This will be the second Fellowship to which I submitted HEARSAY. The first was Disney. They passed. I also sent it to the Slamdance Screenwriting Competition. I did not win, show or place. They were kind enough to offer me coverage. And by ‘offer’ I mean I paid them to criticize me. Unfortunately they gave me less constructive criticism than I hoped. They wrote that the concept and execution were great, the dialog sucked. I should say, that is the opinion of the one guy that read my screenplay. I am one draft removed from those contests and criticisms. The final draft was inspired by a good friend’s thoughtful and savage outline of everything right and wrong in my script.

Now I need to print this monster out and send it off.


Yes, imaginary audience?

Why haven’t you sent out any query letters yet to production companies that are looking to produce an inexpensive and original romantic comedy?

Wow, uh, good question. Uh, MALLRATS.

MALLRATS? What the hell kind of answer is that?

I’ll explain. I recently watched MALLRATS. Although I find it a funny movie, I feel the dialog is stilted and self-conscious and designed for the joke. In the months since I finished HEARSAY, it began to creep into my mind that my script might be something like that. The characters are smart and sassy and talk fast and funny. I thought of that as a strength. As I watched MALLRATS and as every character says every silly thing that came to Kevin Smith’s mind, I worried that all my imaginary friends who I thought spoke like me and my friends, were actually just spouting exposition and pseudo clever things that made us all laugh when we said them in real life.

Long Sentence (No suggestions)

As I said I just re-read it. I think I was being hard on myself. It’s funny. It has less exposition than I feared. I’ll send it out to Nicholl and I swear I will get on the query stick ASAP. That damn query blog is making me quite nervous.

Will try to write in new script today or tomorrow.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

From here...

... it looks blurry.

Snow Here

Wrote a page. Finished a scene. Added a tiny scene.

I’ve always wondered how you could shuffle scenes either in postproduction or on the page. Sofia Coppola said that the only thing her dad to help her make her Oscar winning film was to suggest that she shake up the order of some of the scenes*. This surprised me. On the first script I wrote, I can’t even imagine changing the order of almost all the scenes. ‘This happens’ so ‘that happens’ so ‘this guy finds out about that girl before he finds out about this girl who has his cell phone’. (Note: Not a completely inaccurate representation of my script.) But as I’m writing this one I can see doesn’t necessarily have to find the pills before her son goes crazy but instead could find them after he kills some people. The scene doesn’t really have to change in its writing but it will possibly have a very dramatic affect in its, well, dramatic effect. Just a thought as I try to connect the dots and get it all down on paper.

*I swear no more Coppola hyping.

I’ve noticed that if you go away from it for a few days, as I did in my illness, it’s hard to get motivated to go back to it. I promised the blog and myself I would write yesterday, but instead went to a movie. I made the excuse that my head wasn’t ‘cold-free’ enough and I needed to see a quality movie to re-energize my creativity. I sort of believe myself.

I saw Million Dollar Baby and I think the re-energizing scheme worked. I loved the visuals, the performances and the story. What I loved most was the screenplay. It was almost scientific in its ability to efficiently tell its story. If I were more critical than I am, I would suggest that it was too scientific and efficient. I was actually jealous of how well it foreshadowed, it paralleled character arcs, it paced the rise and fall and redemption. It was like the perfect road map. Which means, like a good map, you can see what is coming. As the jealousy subsided I realized that given the right idea, some more practice and some really good days in front of the computer, I could someday hit those same beats.

So, all in all it was a successful day of not writing.

29 pages hoping for 90-ish.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Haven't Written

I haven't been writing. I've been busy at work and sick everywhere. I don't think it's the Bird Flu, West Nile or anything Africanized.

Will buckle down and write. Should have half day tomorrow.

Hopefully my head will be clear enough for creating.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Phew! Got Out of that Unscathed

Just finished the scene I mentioned earlier. I had to find a believable way out of it without getting to a dramatic climax. I needed to build the tension but not end them movie in 20 pages. I hope it wasn’t too artificial. We’ll see when I get to rewriting/editing. Hell, this scene might not exist by then.

This writing thing is slow for me. I wouldn’t say it’s tough, just hard to see lots of progress. This blog is helping. Part of the problem is that I am writing between working and living my life. I’m not complaining and I’m not going to quit my job or stop watching baseball so that I can live the dream. I find it fun and I’m sure it’s good for my brain to writing instead of watching TV or playing video games. It is however very solitary and I’d love to be making a movie instead of (or in addition to) writing one. Hopefully this summer project will actually materialize and I’ll have another whole creative world to work in. I’m talking about a world that doesn’t involve sitting on the edge of an office chair, leaning with poor posture into a computer screen, and eventually destroying my wrists.

28 pages hoping for 90-ish.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

I Just Got My First Link to This Site...

... That I know of. A great blog that I read daily, written by a working screenwriter (unlike myself), used his post to answer a question I submitted to his comments page. I asked:

“So how formed was the script in their heads before you wrote it? Did they come to you and say, "I want this, this and this to happen?" Just curious.”

Not only did he answer it, he also put a link to my blog in the post.

Now I don't know if I should feel like I have my name above the title on the Marquee at Mann's Chinese Theater or if I should feel like Steve Martin when he gets his name in the phone book in the Jerk.

"The new phone book's here. The new phone book's here. This is the kind of spontaneous publicity I need. My name in print. That really makes somebody. Things are going to start happening to me now."

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Three More Pages and a Side of Pulp

I just wrote the beginning of scene I hadn’t planned on.

I needed two characters in one place and a revelation. I got those down, both easily and satisfactorily. But now I need a way to get out of this scene. I’m going to ponder this until the next time I sit down to write. Wish me luck.

On the summer movie making front:

My cohort didn’t like the idea… well I don’t know if he didn’t like it but he passed on it. He mentioned a point I hadn’t thought about (my wording): We have the tools and the talent, but we don’t have the tools and the talent.

For budgetary and acting reasons, he wants us to come up with an idea that is action driven as opposed to narrative driven. Stuff has to happen – plot. More moving around screen and less a dramatic arc for actors that we don’t have yet and may not be able to convince people of much more than, wow I almost just got killed there. Not a knock on actors, we might get some great ones, but let’s not limit ourselves if our cast is limiting.

We’re going to meet and talk about what he’s hoping for. If we come to an agreement on the premise, I’ll get started on that script.

I also pitched two more ideas to him that he passed on and had one on deck. I might explore those ideas for my next writing project… talk about a long-term plan. One irrational goal at a time.

26 pages hoping for 90-ish.