Thursday, February 26, 2009

Another Log for the Fire

Quick note: I just finished a screenplay for another short (not the next short, just another short -- soon the Company will have a big cache of scripts and we can sift through them and pick one out and film it at our leisure, with funding and golden fairy wings)

This one is a mystery! With dialogue! And action! Brandon reads it now. I await the judgement of a Director Directs, then, if they so desire, I will subject it to the scrutiny of the Company. Then one day we will perhaps film it and it will be subjected to the scrutiny of the world at large. And I realize, everyone just wants to be loved, including me.

Which reminds me, if you're reading this and want to "Follow This Blog," please do so. Just click on the little link to your right. It will make me feel loved. And like I just said, that's what everyone wants. Including me. Still.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

And Then Here We Are

This blog has been around for a year now. Happy anniversary.

When this started I was writing the screenplay for Archie Hotel. I finished it. Brandon and I fought like squirel versus weasel to come up with the final draft. Then the company began filming it. Then we realized a feature was too big and somewhere between July 8th and August 3rd we gave up on it.

Not 10 days after relating our defeat we had the script for a short. We casted it. Filmed it. Took pictures. By mid-October we were done with production.

And now we sit in post-production limbo as we wait for the final edit. A few days past we watched a rough cut. I'll tell you all now: it was good. Prepare yourselves.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Yes. Exactly. Yes.

Sometimes someone says something you have always known but never put into words. Ted Hope said this at Hammer to Nail:

In terms of the filmmakers who create them, some films are challenges; some are proofs. In the Challenges, the filmmaker is hoping to discover things, hoping to learn things in the process. In a Proof Film, the filmmaker is showing the audience what she or he knows. With a Challenge, the audience is aligned with the movie, trying to discern whether the filmmaker will meet the challenge; whereas with a Proof, the audience is dictated to, watching something unfold according to a recognizable formula. A Challenge is involving, whereas a Proof is a passive experience for the audience. Ambition is to go to places you have never gone before with the hope that you will discover something positive in the process—a challenge and not a proof.

Read more.

Here's to challenges.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


My posts are long. And far between. So here's a quick thought on dialogue, the 2x4 of the screenwriter's trade.

I wrote a play once. Back in junior college when I wanted to be Eugene O'Neill. I sent it off to Jeffrey and received back one of the only pieces of literary advice for which I have ever had much use. This was a two-man, one-act ditty about a hit man, his mark, and the inevitable change of heart, all set in the junior college romance of a Vegas all-night buffet. Jeffrey said, "Both these guys sound like you." It was true. And that fact has become one of the guiding principles of my screenwriting.

Now this is not to say that you can't have a successful work wherein the characters all sound the same, far from it. But a 60 year old retiree and the 30 something punk who has been sent to off him should not sound like a middle class 19 year-old chick from California.

How, then, do you make ten characters have their own voice, and not sound like you? Personally, I cheat. Syd Field says, "Dialogue is a function of character. If you know your character, your dialogue should flow easily in line with the unfolding of your story." Now that would be wonderful. But knowing the ins and outs of a character and knowing how those ins and outs influence the way they construct sentences is a whole new world of "Knowing".

I say, why go to all that trouble when the world around you is already filled with people who talk in a way that is wholly unique, wholly their own?

So, the main character in Fine Arts? A guy I had a crush on in high school. His coworker in that script? A current coworker of mine.

And in the new script I'm writing, the love interest talks like my ex-boyfriend. The protagonist takes word right out of the mouth of one of my best high school girlfriends. Fun fact: I sometimes futz with the names of the characters to give a little homage to the source material.

Now this is not to say that the characters ARE the people I'm referencing. They most certainly are not. I'm just borrowing the way people I have known talk, as a tool to get out of my own head, out of my own way of saying things and constructing thoughts.

Damn. That wasn't a very short post, was it? I blame god.