O, the joy of a southernly jaunt

gable colbert
Fortunately, I didn’t have to resort to this

The suitcase is put away. The dirty clothes laundered. The thank-you notes sent.

All the result following your humble blogger’s recent trip to the land of potential future employment, aka Los Angeles, which continues to yield results and, hopefully, keep on doing so.

“Los Angeles? How in the world did that come that about?” you may ask, and probably just did.

I was invited. At the behest of a new media company (as in “new media” i.e. online content, not “a media company that is new”) called AfterBuzz TV that produces a myriad of programs about an even wider variety of topics – all entertainment-based.

This one in particular is called The Unproduced Table Read. As the title implies, after finding a heretofore unproduced script they deem appropriate, they assemble members of their core group of actors and do a table read of the script – first as livestream video, then viewable on Youtube. Following the read, there’s a brief q&a with the writer. Sometimes the writer’s there in person, or if they can’t make it in, done via Skype.

Seeing as how the City of Angels is an hour-long plane ride away, I opted to attend.

They’d found my fantasy-swashbuckler in the archives of the Black List website and thought it fit the bill. The producer contacted me earlier this year, and after some informative back-and-forth emails, it was all set.

Seizing the opportunity of being in town, I also went about setting up meetings of both personal and professional natures. Although the scheduling didn’t work out with a couple of potential representatives, I was able to have some very productive conversations with some exceptionally talented professional contacts.

Networking, people. Establish and maintain those contacts! SO worth it.

But getting back to the table read. It was great. And fun. The actors did a fantastic job, and as a bonus – they really, really liked the script on several levels. I’m quite thrilled with how it turned out.

Was it worth doing? I’d say so, and not just because it got an enthusiastic reception from the people involved. It’s probably a little early to see if it’ll contribute to the career-building aspect, but it definitely makes for a strong marketing tool.

If you ever get the chance for a table read to be done for one of your scripts, take it. You can even put it together yourself. It’s a great way to evaluate the material, plus the actors might provide some unexpected insight. All you need is a workable space and the ability and willingness to feed your performers.

While talking afterwards with the show’s producer and some of the actors, somebody asked what other scripts I had. I mentioned the western. “We haven’t done one of those,” was the reply. Thus raises the possibility of a return trip. Time will tell.

An extraordinarily jam-packed couple of days

The mind reels at what could possibly happen next
Who knows what could possibly happen next? (but it’s fun to guess)

It’s been quite an exciting time ’round these parts, my friends.

-Wednesday. As has been previously chronicled, my script was in the top 15 percent for the Nicholl. Not enough to be a quarterfinalist, but that’s okay. There are so many other avenues to explore, and I’m already mentally rewriting the script I’d enter next year.

-Friday. I won a pair of tickets to a Giants game, which includes a pre-game VIP party where Stan Lee will be in attendance. With any luck, I’ll be able to get my ESSENTIAL SPIDER-MAN VOL 1 signed, and maybe a picture with him.

-Sunday. Ran the Giant Race half-marathon. Perfect conditions – cold, foggy, windy and a mostly flat course. Steady pace, positive attitude. Finally achieved the until-now impossible and broke the 1:55 barrier – 1:53:07 (a pace of 8:38, which I’ve never done before either). Next race is another half-marathon in October. Highly doubtful I can duplicate this kind of time, but still looking forward to it.

-Sunday, part 2. While I was recovering from the race, DREAMSHIP got its second Black List review. 8/10 overall (yay!), including 9/10 for character and setting (double yay!). That was enough to place the script on some of the top lists, including uploaded for action/adventure, family and sci-fi/fantasy.

-Monday. Because of my scores on the Black List, DREAMSHIP will be included in this week’s ‘industry member highlight email,’ which goes out on Friday to around 1900 industry pros.

You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face if you tried.

It’s probably safe to say there may not be a week like this ever again, so I’m definitely enjoying the positive vibes while I can.

Just call me the human perpetual motion machine

Stop working? That's crazy talk!
Stop working? That’s crazy talk!

Well, this has been an interesting week, to say the least.

-Rewrite was completed and sent it off to my manager. Hope they like it.

-Found out DREAMSHIP was one of 25 semifinalists in the Tracking Board’s Launch Pad competition. The top 10 finalists will be announced at the end of the month, followed by the winner a few days later.

Even if the script doesn’t advance, I don’t mind (although it would be nice). I’m just thrilled to have made it this far.  As K said to me after I got the email from the Tracking Board people, “See? Somebody who doesn’t know you thinks you’re a good writer.”

That’s a nice reminder.

-The Nicholl deadline came and went. DREAMSHIP was sent to that back in March, which makes it one of at least 7,200 submissions. The final count should be tallied sometime soon.

(If you have the time, do a quick search to find out what past winners are up to these days. It’s a fascinatingly diverse range of material, including film and television.)

-With a lot of this contest stuff out of the way, it’s time to return to the first draft of LUCY.  It’s been about a month since I last worked on it, so it’ll be interesting to take a look at what I’ve written so far.  Nothing like fresh eyes on your old work!

-I can also start running again. Next race is in 6 weeks, and I really want to be ready for it.

-Movie of the Moment – SKYFALL (2012) Took me three separate viewing sessions, but I finally made it through.  I enjoyed it.

Easy to see why this was so popular. It was a well-written combination of old-style Bond movies with 21st-century themes, thankfully without dipping too much into cheesy joke territory.

Hacking my way through the rewrite jungle

Yeah, it can feel like that sometimes…

Man, this rewrite is just zooming along, especially with the much-appreciated, very helpful feedback I’ve received. Spending so much time plotting things out before churning out pages really paid off. I tried to make sure any possible questions that arose could be easily answered through the course of the story.  One or two small issues may still need a little work, but looks like they can be handled without too much heavy lifting.

Nevertheless, confidence levels still running high.

Most of the edits took no time, but the biggest challenge was changing how the antagonist’s story ends. This has been in place since day one, but I’ve received more than a few comments saying it seemed too intense compared to the rest of the story.  So change was necessary.

I must have spent around two hours trying out at least a dozen scenarios until I finally came up with something I like. It may need a little fine-tuning, but the execution is pretty solid and I think it fits in nicely with the rest of it.

You know how a writer’s mantra is/should be “write every day”? I’ve tried to adhere to that as much as I can, and it really feels like it’s paying off in terms of being able to think my way out of potential writer’s block situations. Getting stuck trying to figure something out isn’t as much of a hassle as it used to be.

Cliched as it sounds, your creativity really is like a kind of muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger it gets. And you don’t even have to break a sweat.

That’s almost that

Reaching my goal seems a little closer now

It took me longer than I wanted, but I finally finished the DREAMSHIP rewrite. 116 pages, which isn’t too bad. Now begins the editing phase, primarily of the second half.  I managed to trim about 7 pages for the first half, and hope to cut at least 4-5 this time around.

It bothers me that it won’t be ready for the Nicholl, but I’ve accepted it and moved on.

I’m also exploring the idea of sending it to a couple of professional script analysis firms. One of them might be ScriptQuack, especially since this rewrite was based on their suggestions for the previous draft.  I like the idea of getting some solid feedback, but I don’t know if I have it in me to go through another rewrite.  I like the idea of doing what I can with this and moving on, since LUCY is still waiting.

There’s something that’s been gnawing away at me inside for the past few weeks. I’ve noticed a unique writing style in a lot of recent scripts I’ve read; a lot of it really good.  My writing may not necessarily be as vivid as others, but it gets the point across. I try to use a little flair, but not enough so it distracts you from the story.  I’d rather let the story do its job than wow you with fancy-schmancy writing.

I’m also hoping that once the editing/polishing is done to fine-tune the logline and start sending out query letters. I did this before using a hard copy of the HCD, sending out about 200 email queries. It got the script optioned, which unfortunately didn’t lead to anything.  Maybe I’ll have better luck this time around.