Bulletin board back in action!

times square
It’s not your name in lights, but pretty darned close

Reinvigorated from their summer vacation, the hard-working staff at Maximum Z HQ has assembled the latest batch of projects from savvy creatives well worth your time and attention.

-Writer/director/producer Aaron Mendelsohn is offering a special 20% discount for his new ebook The 11 Fundamental Questions: A Guide to a Better Screenplay. Aaron is the co-creator and co-writer of the AIR BUD franchise (12 films and counting), has served as Secretary-Treasurer for the Writers Guild of America, and is currently a Professor of Screenwriting at Loyola Marymount University.

-Writing coach and author EJ Runyon runs the online writing service Bridge to Story. She’s launched the Little by Little crowdfunding project to help her build a vehicle that with your help will bring her services to those without internet access “anywhere in the lower 48”. You don’t “donate” to her Kickstarter; you book a coaching or story editing session and your funds go to the build!

-Screenwriter Phillip Hardy has launched his own script consulting company The Script Gymnasium. Phillip’s scripts have placed or won at over 30 film festivals and script contests, including Austin and Screencraft, and he also serves as a judge in the New York City Midnight Screenwriting Challenge. Seeking help to get your script in shape? He’s your guy.

-Writer-director Josh Mitchell runs Wicked Pissa Publicity, but has also worked on a lot of short films and is now running a crowdfunding campaign for his feature-length family film project HARRY HEAD, an original story about loyalty, family, unity and differences. Donate if you can!

-Screenwriters Chris and Jay Thornton have been busy the past couple of years with some script sales and developing a TV show with The Weinstein Company, but they’re now working on their debut feature CACTUS JACK, “an ultra-contained, thematically supercharged and extremely relevant gonzo micro-budget film.” A crowdfunding project is up, and you can view the NSFW proof-of-concept trailer here. Donate if you can! And as an added bonus, an interview with the Thorntons will post in the very near future.

Have a project of your own for which you’d like a little help getting the word out? Our email inbox is always open.

Time for the editor to take over

Where’s the ‘delete’ key on this thing?

The latest undertaking: the edit/rewrite of the low-budget comedy spec is underway.

Even while I was writing it, I knew there were changes that needed to be made. So now it’s time to dive in and make those changes, which tends to be equally as thrilling as the actual writing process. For me, anyway.

This is the part where I force myself to let those changes be made, even for the parts I absolutely love. There will most likely be more than one instance of “Why did I think this was a good idea?” Then I change it.

It happens with every draft of every script. You have to be able to be your own harshest critic. Every decision stems from “How can this be better?”

Sometimes it comes easy, and sometimes it doesn’t. It takes a while to get the hang of it.

“But why not just do it while you’re writing that initial draft?” some may ask. Because you don’t always hit the bullseye on your first attempt. You need a couple of practice tries. Many’s the time I’d suddenly stumble into a solution that proved to be significantly better than the original.

Don’t hold back. Don’t be afraid to make those changes. As I’ve discovered many times in the past, once something is changed, it is very soon forgotten. So much to the point that you’ll barely remember the previous incarnation.

When this whole process is done, at least for this round, I believe the end result will be a better script. I’m fairly confident this won’t take too long, and think writer-me will be quite content with the decisions made and steps taken by editor-me.

And then the whole thing will repeat itself again.

*Side note – blogger-me is proud to announce that the number of visitors to the blog has surpassed the 20-thousand mark. Not too shabby, especially considering the first few years were me and about six other people.

Thanks for reading, everybody!

Flashing back in less than 12 parsecs

The big project continues, but I’m definitely in the home stretch now. Feeling very confident and rejuvenated about wrapping it up in the next couple of days. Planning to offer up all the sordid details once it’s completely finished.

While all energies are focused on that, here is another throwback post from a long time ago in a galaxy not so far, far away. From me, anyway.

And yes, I still have the t-shirt and chopsticks.

One good turn

No problem. I'm happy to help.
No problem. I’m happy to help.

An incredibly amazing thing happened to me in a remarkably short timeframe.

My script DREAMSHIP is on the Black List’s public site. You have to pay every month to keep it on there, and if you want a professional reader to review it, you have to pay for that too.

My family’s currently involved in the ongoing economic recovery, so we have to be careful about where we spend money.

I was content paying the monthly fee, but reluctant to spring for a review or two.

Then came the results of the Tracking Board Launchpad contest. The whole manager thing. I liked how everything was developing.

I wanted to know more about some of the other scripts in the contest, so I checked out loglines and the pitch for each (“X meets Y”, which will probably be the subject of a post next week). Some of them sounded very intriguing, so I wrote to the writers asking to read their scripts.

One declined, wanting to wait until they signed. No problem.

Another was flattered, sent it, and asked to read mine. Again, no problem.

But this writer also noticed my script was on the Black List with an 8/10 score from one rating. Why didn’t I get a second review, which would make it more visible and raise its profile?

Two reasons: I was reluctant to spend the money, and even though I did well in a high-profile contest, I was still nervous about getting a bad review. The fear of rejection never goes away.

But I said I’d probably eventually bite the bullet and do it. Maybe the overtime from working July 4th & 5th would help.

So while I was working on the 4th, I got a very interesting email from someone at the Black List (who apparently was also working on the 4th).

Apparently this writer who had encouraged me to spring for a second review took matters into their own hands and offered to pay for my second review.


And the Black List folks thought this was so nice, they decided to give me the second review for free.

Double gasp.

Somebody I only know through a handful of emails did something extremely nice and generous that has the potential to make a significant positive impact on my career.

What can you possibly say to this? I was sincerely and honestly touched by such an act of generosity, and sent my thanks to both.

Hopefully someday I can return the favor to this writer in one way or another, and if things work out, try to help out others in a similar fashion.

Despite what you may think, not every writer is out to steal your ideas, or play dirty and step all over you just to advance their own agenda.

There are still nice people willing to help you out, sometimes when you’re not even expecting it. I’m all about helping others when I can, and an act like this just makes me want to do it more.

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.