Good and not-so-good

much nicer to be thinking out here

Working with this director is becoming an exercise in keeping my sanity in check. We had a brief conversation the other night about what exactly he wants, or at least is looking for, in this short project.

I came up with something I thought was pretty unique and, according to a friend who actually writes mysteries, contained some good setups with a “sucker punch twist” at the end. I’ll take that as high praise.

But it didn’t jibe with what he wanted.  Because he’s been reading some mysteries on his own, including a few Sherlock Holmes.  He says there’s a pattern to be followed. Victim, clues, solution.  And he also has a list called something like “50 rules of mysteries”.  Oh dear lord.

I offered that if you saw 4 mysteries, and 3 of them followed the same pattern and the 4th was different, wouldn’t you be more likely to remember the different one?  Didn’t work.

While he appreciated my take on the story, he wanted the more traditional approach, but also to punch it up even more. “Go bigger” seemed to be his mantra.  For some reason, he again referenced INCEPTION. I really hope he’s seen more movies than just that.

He wants the outline by Tuesday, which I’m fine with. Most of the story is in place. I just need to move a few details around.  But he wants a ready-to-go draft by January 1st so he can immediately start on pre-production and casting.  Based on how his previous project progressed, I think he’s being a little too ambitious.

The only positive spin I can put on this is that it’s really testing my abilities.  On several levels.  I don’t mind. It’s good exercise, writing-wise.

Now, while I probably should have been spent time on his outline, I opted to do some more work on DREAMSHIP.  I had two scenes that seemed way too similar, and my protagonist was being more reactive than active.

Implementing the changes wasn’t as hard as I expected, and I think both turned out better than before.  Honestly, this thing is really coming together.

-Just a brief note on something going on over at ScriptShadow. The First Ten Pages competition is taking place this week. Readers were invited to send in their log line and first ten pages, and the rest of the readers would vote on which ones looked the most interesting.

I meant to take part, but never got around to it.  I don’t know what kind of chance I would have had. After reading some of the 50 finalists, I can’t help but wonder if some of these people have a grasp of what is expected of them.  Some of the loglines were just too confusing, or didn’t make the story sound interesting.

I always thought the logline summed up the protagonist’s objective, who/what stands in their way and what could happen if they don’t achieve that objective, all in a way to make the reader/viewer want to know more. How do you screw that up?

Apparently quite easily.

As a bee

the result of growing up in the 80s

Hokey smokes, is there a lot going on this week!

Might as well get the bad/not-great news out of the way. After all that time I spent slaving away on the outline for the short, the director got back to me within an hour saying that while he could “see” my story, it wasn’t what he wanted. While my first immediate thought was “you arrogant bastard. Of course this is what you want. You’re just too thick to realize it,” I had to remind myself that ultimately it was his movie and I should be a bit more flexible about it.

He wants something a bit more…traditional, in terms of a mystery. For the most part, most of the pieces are there.  I just need to rework them.  Shouldn’t be too hard.  I’m talking to him again tomorrow night. Should be interesting.

-Since I’m still learning how to use a Mac, I got both jack and shit done on both LUCY and DREAMSHIP during my cross-country flights this weekend.  My sister put it rather succinctly: When you’re so used to working on a PC, making the switch to a Mac forces you to learn a completely new way of using a computer. So while I may want to do something the old PC way, I can’t do it exactly the same and have to figure out how it works in the new Mac way.  This is going to be a work in progress.  I still have to schedule my one-to-one meeting with somebody at the Apple store.  My list of questions has been steadily growing.

-Really, really hoping to get back on track with both LUCY and DREAMSHIP. I hate these big gaps in productivity, but you do what you can.  For the most part, any concept of a target end date has been thrown out the window.  My goal now is to finish them. No matter what.

-I’m currently working on a project for a client that requires me to put together a short video script.  This has been quite a challenging experience.  I knew a video script was completely different in appearance from a film script.  I really thought my screenwriting program would have something for it, but doesn’t appear to.

So for now, it’s been manipulating a Word document with two columns.  I don’t mind the work. It’ s been fun.  But again, quite the challenge.

-The 2011 Black List came out today. I skimmed through it, but nothing seemed to really jump out.  The friend who sent me last year’s batch has offered to do it again.  I’ll look through it again and try to pick about 12-15.  Of the ones I selected last year, I think most, if not all, are being made.  Not a bad record.

Done!

how it feels, which is good

This post was originally going to be called “Sad Face” because I’d been struggling to get the outline for the short done before tonight, and didn’t think I was going to make it.

My original idea wasn’t panning out. The one after that was becoming too complicated.  The more I tried to figure things out, the deeper my self-dug metaphoric hole of frustration was becoming.  It got to the point that I was having dreams about it, and that’s just scary.

Would I have to accept the fact that I wasn’t going to make it?  Well, maybe.  But I wasn’t going down without a fight.  I just needed that one spark of creativity to get me going again.

And that spark came to me in the shower, of all places.  I already had a lot of the story elements in place.  What if I tried a different approach in tying them all together?  But how?  How about if the question of what happened is an absolute unknown?  That’s it!  Brilliant!

Oh, wait. That sounds like THE HANGOVER. Okay. Don’t want to seem like I’m completely ripping that off.  Maybe a variation on that.

And I was off.  Two and a half hours of writing, editing, researching and double-checking later (occasionally saving to prevent heartbreak if it accidentally got erased), I had the outline for what I think is a pretty good story.  It has now been happily sent to the director.  I hope he likes it.

-Movie of the Moment. THE LOVE GURU (2008) aka The Movie That Almost Destroyed Mike Myers’ Career.  Bad doesn’t even begin to describe it.  Non-stop, rapid-fire jokes that aren’t funny.  Despite a running time of 1 hour, 27 minutes, we zipped through it in about 45, and it still seemed too long.

This seemed like another case of a megastar project where nobody wanted to say ‘no’. How else to explain a Morgan Freeman vocal cameo, or Sir Ben Kingsley  making an ass of himself?

Only high points: Stephen Colbert and Jim Gaffigan as hockey announcers.  Sorry to say their scenes were the funniest parts.

If you value your time and sense of humor, DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE!  And if this wasn’t proof that Myers has gone to the ‘throw every joke at the wall and see if anything sticks’ well more than once too often, I’d forgotten that there’s another Austin Powers movie in development.

I’ll do my best to rectify this situation with my next scheduled Netflix delivery: SUPER 8.

Never throw anything away

What you need may be buried in what you don't

I’m so close to the halfway point of DREAMSHIP, it’s gettin’ scary.  While 2-3 pages a day may not seem like a lot, doing that for a few consecutive days can yield some pretty good results.  Slow and steady and all that.  Highly doubtful I’ll be done by year’s end, but if I can keep up this kind of pace, then there’s a strong chance of typing FADE OUT soon after 2012 is a reality.

We’ll be traveling next week, and I’m seeing those plane trips as prime LUCY plotting time.  A perfect scenario would be having it completely finished before the return flight touches down.

I’ve noticed while working on rewrites in general that while the new take on the story may be extremely different than its previous incarnation, there are always a few parts that fit perfectly in the new draft.  A scene or idea of a scene here, a line of dialogue there, and so on.

Sometimes when I’m done with a draft I’m absolutely certain is the final one, I’ll delete the numerous drafts that came before it.  Then, months or possibly years later, when I decide to take another stab at it, I’ll dig up that “final” version and see if any of it can fit in the new draft.  A lot of the time, a lot of it does.

-Got some good feedback from a writer friend regarding my short mystery project.  My goal this weekend is to develop the twists and red herrings of the second half.  A lot harder than expected!  He also agreed that one particular subplot of the director’s was completely ridiculous and made absolutely no sense.

Once again proving that you really should trust the writer.