What’s stopping you?

The ultimate DIY project (film division)

I had the recent pleasure of connecting with a screenwriter who’s working on a feature script, but is also investigating the logistics of developing a short out of it, which includes them having begun connecting with other writers and filmmakers in their area.

I thought that was a great idea, and tossed out the suggestion that maybe they try to make it themselves, as in “just you”. Especially now that most smartphones can double as camera equipment, and film editing software is easily accessible (if not already installed on your computer).

They’d considered this, adding “But I’m just not tech-savvy”.

But you can learn.

If you’re reading this, you’re more than likely interested in screenwriting and/or filmmaking. When you first started out, it’s probably a dead-on certainty that your early works were awful, right?  Looking at some of my first scripts makes me cringe from how bad they are.

But we kept at it, learning and improving along the way. How does your most recent effort compare to that first one? Worlds apart, I’d imagine. You try something, you make mistakes, you learn from those mistakes, and try again.

There’s no reason you couldn’t apply the same logic to making your own short. Sure, there’s a lot more to it than simply pointing your phone and hitting ‘record’, but you gotta start somewhere.

Give it a go and write yourself a short script. Nothing fancy (but do try to make it a good sample of the genre). Anywhere from one to five minutes, spread out over one, possibly two scenes. Two characters, three at best. Try to keep it limited to one location.

Now look at it from the filmmaker’s perspective. Could you feasibly make this yourself? Like how a first draft of a script reads, the end result will not be pretty. At first, you’ll be thrilled at having done it. Then reality sets in and the flaws become that much more obvious.

But you will have done it. A short film, written and produced by YOU.

What you do with it now is up to you. Hopefully, you’ll embrace the learning experience and know what not to do the next time around.

My friend mentioned that once the short got made, which it sounds like they are very intent on making happen one way or another, plans are already being discussed about next steps, which included posting it on YouTube and/or submitting it to some film festivals.

Even though our conversation was solely via email, there was a certain tone to their words that indicated they were quite psyched about jumping into this new venture. I wished them the best of luck and asked to be kept updated as to their progress.

I think they’re off to a pretty good start.

Trying to unlock a key moment

One of these HAS to be it

I was hoping to wrap up the polish/revision of the comedy spec this week. Everything was going quite smoothly until I hit a bit of snag when I got to the end of Act 2 – only one of the most important parts of the story. Where things are definitely at the lowest point possible for our hero.

The general consensus of my readers was that the hero was too passive, and therefore needed to be much more active and stand his ground, yet still end up failing. Some suggestions were made, and I’ve been working on making it stronger and more effective.

Which brings us back to right now. As it reads, it’s just not working.

And that’s kind of frustrating.

I know there’s a solution to this, and my creativeness has been working constantly to come up with one that not only works with the context of the story, but seems plausible and believable.

As I said to one of my readers, I tend to overthink this kind of thing. To which they responded with “Remember, this is a story that’s supposed to entertain.”

And that’s pretty important, too.

Hopefully when all is said and done, it’ll do all of it.

-I ran the Giant Race half-marathon on Sunday. Got a small rock in my shoe around mile 7 or 8, but opted to keep going rather than sacrifice the time to remove it. The rock eventually was a non-issue and I managed to just beat my ongoing goal of 1:55 by one whole second – 1:54:59.

Finding the spark to get those synapses firing

The solution to your problems is somewhere in there
The solution to your problems is somewhere in there

Finding time to work on the outline of the rewrite has been a bit challenging these days, but I’m managing. I do what I can to make the most out of a limited timeframe. Do this often enough, and it actually gets easier.

One of my biggest concerns with this new draft was “what if I can’t think of anything?”

Trying to figure things out had been bothering me for the past couple of days. No matter what I was doing, I’d be going over potential scenes and scenarios in my mind. How about this? Does this work?

All that was missing was the cartoony stormcloud over my head.

So I’m riding my bike home from work. All of a sudden, a metaphoric lightning bolt springs from that cloud and hits me dead center.

A small idea pops in.  Just a two-word phrase, but within it is the potential to have a widespread impact throughout the rest of the story.

This then triggered a steady flow of still more possibilities. If I redo this part, then this could happen, thereby changing that and the other thing around completely.

How could I not see any of this before?

Writer’s block happens to everybody. It can be extremely frustrating, but you can’t let it stop you. It takes time to break it down, but don’t force it.

Do what you can to encourage your creativeness, and eventually it’ll be a lot more cooperative.  Once you have that breakthrough, you’ll feel like there’s nothing that can stop you.

Pretty cool, isn’t it?

Mega-short post due to real life

My apologies. No time for the usual words of wisdom. Lots of last-minute preparation while we get ready to head out on a whirlwind trip to my nephew’s wedding. (Typing that feels odd.)

It’s the start of Memorial Day weekend here in the US, where we honor those who’ve given their lives for our country.

Even though several tentpole films came out earlier this month, this is also seen as the official start of summer movie season.

So go see something. Tell your friends about it. Tweet about it.

Or work that creativeness and crank out a few pages of your latest project.


The argument for originality

Nobody saw it coming, and look what happened
Nobody saw it coming, and look what happened

As a screenwriter who hopes to one day see my work displayed on the big screen at your local theater, I strive to have each of my scripts present a unique tale that takes the audience on an entertaining ride.

Part of that uniqueness comes from me wanting to offer up a story that hasn’t been seen before. What’s better than being surprised with something you weren’t expecting, and liking it?

A lot of scripts adhere to “familiar, yet different,” which is fine. But there’s something to be said for putting a little more emphasis on the second part.

There’s an abundance of complaints about the lack of new ideas, or at least how sequels/remakes/reboots/re-imaginings are outnumbering original ideas.  (I won’t argue with that, especially with the recent announcement of a planned remake of GREMLINS. As the saying goes, is this really necessary?)

Don’t let that stop you.  New, smart and interesting will always triumph over dull, cliched and predictable.

Part of your job as a writer is to make your story so appealing that it becomes impossible for someone to say ‘no’ to it.

Put your creativeness to work.  Figure out what could make your story different. Don’t be afraid to take chances.

Show off those writing and storytelling skills.  Make the most of it and give ’em something they’re really going to remember.