Thursday, November 09, 2006

"Liked it, Didn't Love It!" But I did!!!

...and you should get it!

Sitting on my delayed train this morning I finished reading, "I Liked It, Didn't Love It" by Rona Edwards, Monika Skerbelis and I highly recommend it for anyone looking to get into the industry above the line. If you are already there, you should still read it. It is the School House Rock of how a script becomes a movie.

I wish there was more info on TV series, but that is not what the book covers so I should not be asking in the first place. It does cover "made for TV" and MOW, the focus is the silverscreen. The book lays out the step-by-step process and duties that the (Exec) Director of Development performs and how that relates to the Writer, Producer, Studio Head, back down the line and back up the other side. It also covers how Development relates to Agents, Lawyers, and Producers, from small independents too the Big houses.

If you are a writer and you ever wonder what happens to your script once it has submitted you will probably feel better that it is actually working for you. It is in more hands; then you ever imagined, posted on boards and being marked for weekend reads. The furry of the journey your script takes is exciting and worth understanding.

Being someone who wants to get into Development I found myself saying again and again, "This IS what I want to be doing".

Monday, November 06, 2006

Return to White Castle

A couple weeks ago I had a question...

Everything has to pass by Legal before it goes on-air, or the silver screen but… When working on your idea should one be concerned when your pitch title includes a licensed property? If using a brand name is the motive and sensibility behind your story should you use it and deal with the legal issues later? Do you sell the idea first or secure the use of the name? I wonder how powerful of a pitch Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle would have been if they couldn’t use “White Castle” in the title or the premise for that matter. “Harold and Kumar go to a Generic Hamburger Joint” just doesn’t sell. The fact that they where going to "White Castle" sets a certain tone for there motive.

I want that.
Kumar: What? A Hot Dog Heaven super chili cheese dog?
Harold: No. I want that feeling. The feeling that comes over a man when he gets exactly what he desires. I need that feeling!
Kumar: Are you saying what I think you're saying?
Harold: We gotta go to White Castle.
Kumar: YES! YES! I knew you had it in you dude!

Nothing else would do in the case of there motive! It's not only what drove them, but the audience immediately knew what that feeling was. It moved the story forward and brought the audience on the quest because they understood.

Is it just a matter of having a strong enough story that the studio is going to fight for you (the film)?

The reason I know bring this up again, Variety has announced that the second coming of Harold and Kumar is on the horizon! It just gave me warm fuzzy feelings and reminded me of my quarry.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Free Hugs!

No no... Not Pugs! HUGS!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Day job

I recently dug up an old thread on "The Artfull Writer", talking about your "day job" and how it's a means to the ends till you make that break ("IF").

So hear I sit. My day job... it makes ends meet and it's kinda in the right direction. Surfing around nothing that has to do with anything when I found the following...

"Invest in yourself first and always. Select day jobs that also move you forward and give you the experiences you want and need. Never take a job just to pay the bills. Always find a job that pays you back in some way because while you are selling your time you'll want to have something to show for it in the end."

...."Being proactive really means doing something every day to move yourself forward. This can be something as simple as practicing visualization techniques, writing an article like I do, or surfing websites that interest you.", am I moving myself forward? Am I sticking to the words that are coming out of my mouth, "keep your story moving forward!". Over and over, I say keep your story moving forward, but am I doing enough? My job isn't. What chances am I giving myself? Have I defined myself? Am I reaching above the line? Did this move me forward?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Hit and Shun

I beseech you my writers! Please stop and resist from trying to shock us with the over done. I’m not sure if it’s Halloween, the Execs not getting out enough, or if writers truly think it’s original. If you are writing a thriller, a coming of age, tragic romance, or just any thing and for some reason you need that moment, that twist, the turning point, the thing that’s going to make people feel… Scared, Sorrow, Satisfied, Sorry they ever watched. Do not have your antagonist, or protagonist, or anyone step out onto the road just when the car, bus, van, moped flash into scene and kill, mangle, toss your character on end. IT DOESN’T WORK ANYMORE! We’ve seen it. It’s been done. We are not shocked. We’ll be more surprised if it doesn’t happen… Oh wait! Don’t do that either! Don’t have the crying teen angry at the world slowly back into the street making us think, “Here’s where the car comes and hit’s the poor girl”. Then you cleverly have the car just miss her. And if for some reason you did this and then you think, “I know how to put a twist on this, I’ll just have a second car come in and hit her!” This is not a Brilliant solution!!! Another solution is to have two people sitting in a car when it is struck, killing at least one of the passengers.

I bring this up after seeing it on this past weeks Smallville, "Reunion". Which if no one has been watching, the Green Arrow has been a great addition and Justin Hartley is the perfect balance. Now if they would finally get rid of Lana Lang! But I digress…

I don’t think I could ever list the amount of times this has happened on TV or the movies (and in a great deal of Car Insurance commercials). I will admit there are times where it has worked but the time has come to stop. I’ve submitted my definitions to Urban Dictionary. I also started a site of Screenwriter Vocabular, not sure where that's going but chime in and add your 2 cents!

Hit and Shun:

The act of avoiding a better way to come up with an insightful moment or turning point, the screenwriter has the character conveniently backing into an empty road protesting their anger or the events that proceeded when suddenly they are hit by a speeding car.

Hit and Shun 2:

If the first car doesn’t get him (her) the second one was does.

Sit and Shun:

The same act as Hit and Shun but the victims are sitting in the car. In general there are two characters in the car one of which doesn’t make it. The car probably just pulling threw a traffic light, or sitting idling after a deep conversation. If there is only one person in the car they probably just hung up the phone.

From "Meet Joe Black" (warning: shocking, it worked this time)

p.s. About 10 years ago I was sitting in my 87’ Jeep Cherokee waiting to make a legal left turn when a Ford F-150 traveling 55mph re-ended me sending my truck into the air and colliding into another vehicle. I walked with two small cuts the size of a tic-tac on top of my head. As we all sit and wait in life for our “TV Moment” this was not an insightful moment or turning point in my life.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

What do you do for a living?

Upon reading Aury Wallington’s most recent entry on the frustrations that come with answering the question; “What do you do for a living?” I had to commiserate and thought I would now share that here as well. Not sure if it’s the curse of the creative but you’ll probably be beat up with criticism and an “I can do better, could ya help me?” response.

My wife and I both work I Children's Animation, hear in NYC, and are clawing our way out. Not that we haven't enjoyed our tour of duty. After all it's how we meet, while working on Nick Jrs. "Little Bill". My wife is a writer, and for myself I'm a Storyboard Supervisor. My back ground is that of an Artist but I'm a storyteller and my job deals more with making a story work then drawing. So what happens when I'm asked "What do you do for a living?" the simple answer is I work in Children's Animation, as most people are clueless as to what a Storyboard is? 99% of the people say, "Really? I wrote a Children's Book, you should illustrate it!" The other 1% well... "You should do a Children's Book; I have a great Idea for you!"

Now I've taken my share a shoots of whiskey over this. You got to be careful though because I have a sneaky suspicion the Bar Tender also wrote a Children's Book.

I am now at the cross roads of my carrier and as mention above both my wife and I are moving into live action. We have a few scripts we're working on together and she is prepping a spec script as we speak. So I now tend to be even more sensitive when I'm asked what I do for a living. Don't want to go down the road of hearing the bar tender lean over and say, "I wrote a script!" verses "I wrote a Children's book". So I option for "I'm in transition", and then leave it at that. This is dangerous because you don't know who knows who and all that.

But just when you think it is safe, it gets you! The following situation of how my wife, her High school boyfriend, his roommate (ten years younger then us), and myself came to be in a strip club in San Francisco is a whole other story. However... the night was going well and we where all having a good time. A few drinks, some laughs, getting along with the "entertainers". We actually spent more time hanging out and chatting with the strippers then anything. And then it happens. I swear, I'm sitting there talking to a stripper, my wife sitting next to me and the question comes up. Katie leans over and asks, "So what do you do for a living?" My guard is down; no reason to over think anything "I work in Children's Animation". Not a single beat missed, "Really? I wrote a Children's book!" I sit in disbelief, waiting for the next line, where they ask me if I am interested in illustrating it. Oh no! Not this time. "It's being published next month. You'd love it; it's about an alcoholic teddy bear." I am not making this up! I can only imagine it's a small independent press in the bay area. But apparently it's for kids.

From that day on, I stopped telling people I work in Children's Animation. Now don't you worry, I still have neighbor's approaching me about there Children's Book. As soon as we got back home from our trip our neighbor across the hall stopped by to pitch it to me. And then there's the neighbor that lives on the back side of our building... And the guy that lives at the main entrance. And I'm sure if I talked to anyone else in the complex I could rack up another half a dozen books for the list. I've resigned that this will go on for the rest of my life, no matter where I end up.

If you work in television and have found yourself with the same frustrations that Aury has found when asked what you do for a living, I sympathize on many levels. I daily deal with the tribulations of making a show work and watch the good bits recede into the dark (most by S&P and the bloody research department, for us). That crowd of 99% that asks you "How come your show is so unfunny? Don't you guys realize how bad it is when you're writing it?" well let them try and do better. For the 1%, tell them your agent only works with sitcom writer's that write unfunny scripts. For me, I'm going to except my fate and tell the world I write Children Book's and cut them off at the pass!

Thank You Aury for letting me share. Or should I say thanks allot for reminding me!

p.s. Although I have played with the idea and I do in fact belong to the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, I do not in fact write Children Book’s. And that's not from a lack of ideas, I have files full of ideas. I have credit as an Illustrator on a book and at a time it looked like it might be my Carrier path. Maybe trying on my fait bestowed among others. I much prefer to work with an older audience.

p.p.s. The info at Amazon does not list me as an Illustrator, that's another story! My name is on the actual book cover and the title page.

Friday, October 20, 2006