One more hurdle hurdled

hurdles
On to the next one!

A little self-serving project status update for today…

Work on the comedy spec has been put on hold so I can polish up the pulp sci-fi in order to make a fast-approaching contest deadline.

Luckily for me, I’ve been very fortunate to get some high-quality feedback on it from trusted colleagues, and a lot of what they’re saying has been proving most helpful.

Several readers had the same comments about several sections. If one person had said it, their suggestion might be worth considering. Since it was a bit more than one, action had to be taken.

Among the notes was that a few scenes were simply too clichéd and unoriginal, and that their tropey-ness, along with being kind of dull, was more or less counteracting the high-octane action of the rest of the script.

Changes had to be made.

The objective of the scenes and sequences in question was still the same, but the execution needed some major work.

I went through several options with a mindset of “What haven’t I seen before?”, and came up with one I thought adequately fit the bill. That triggered a few more ideas, which upon a little more figuring out, could actually be connected to other parts of the story.

A little more tweaking and suddenly it all clicked into place. By having A happen, that would result in B, which leads into C, which both reinforced an integral part of the overall story while further developing a character several readers had felt was somewhat lacking in substance.

It was quite an exhilarating sensation.

There’s still more work to do for the script, but I felt quite psyched about having gotten this far, along with looking forward to implementing a few more of those much-appreciated notes.

I refuse to be complacent

runner
The road gets tougher, you run harder

First-round results for two of the biggest, high-profile screenwriting contests have been released within the past week, and the pattern for my western’s performance in both has once again repeated itself.

Total whiff for PAGE, and top 20 percent for the Nicholl. (I’m not doing Austin this year)

I didn’t get notes from the former, and based on the ones I got last year for the latter, am not that curious as to why it placed where it did.

My initial reaction was, naturally, disappointment, but this year is markedly different in what came immediately after.

There’ve been days where the agony, frustration and just plain shittiness of things not working out was so strong I’d seriously contemplate just walking away. After all, that would be one less member of the competition, right?

But that’s simply not an option – for any of us. Our desire to succeed as writers burns too bright.

I may not have done as well as I’d hoped with these contests, so instead of shrugging my shoulders and saying “Oh well. Better luck next year,” I plan on doing whatever I can to increase my chances. With a vengeance.

Gone is the wallowing in a blessedly brief mindset of “poor, poor pitiful me”.

In its place – a reinvigorated drive to buckle down, work even harder and write scripts so fucking amazing those readers won’t know what hit them.

I don’t think I can. I KNOW I CAN.

Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead, chums.

-A new addition and a return appearance on the bulletin board this week:

-Filmmakers Caitlin Stedman and Kayla Ditlefsen have launched a crowdfunding project for their short film Unattainable. They’re around the 60 percent mark, so donate if you can!

-The crowdfunding for filmmaker Steve Davis’s No Glory continues, with about a month to go. Steve’s a talented guy, and this sounds like a fantastic project. Donate if you can!

The value of face-to-face time

Coffee makes for a good 3rd part of this equation
Coffee makes for a good 3rd part of this equation

A few weeks ago, I’d read a post on Done Deal Pro from a writer who’d gone to Los Angeles to attend a Writers Guild function, but was now back home in the Bay Area.

Since I’m always looking to expand my network of fellow writers, especially ones that could be considered local, I contacted him and asked if he’d be interested in meeting.

Fortunately, he was. Coffee at the Ferry Building.

Since most of this summer has involved V being at work with me, she and I worked our way from my office to our designated meeting place.

I handed her my phone so she could play video games while Justin Sloan and I sat down to talk.

We exchanged backgrounds and career developments. He was especially intrigued about my results using the Black List.

Unfortunately, Justin had to get back to work so we had to cut things short, but he asked if he could read my script, and I offered to give feedback on his.  He also asked if he could send me some questions for his blog Bay Area Screenwriters. You can read those here, and I’ve added a link to it over on the blogroll.

It was great not only talking about writing, but also discussing the assorted experiences we’ve each had in relation to writing. Contests, writing groups, etc.

This is one of those experiences that can’t be duplicated via an online forum or instant messaging. Having an actual conversation with someone will hopefully be fulfilling for both parties.

So send those emails, set up those coffee chats, get out there and talk to people.

-Movie of the Moment: PACIFIC RIM (2013). What happened? This was supposed to be the big hit of the summer. No such luck. Instead, we got great special effects weighed down with forgettable characters and horrible dialogue. (Can’t people come up with something better than “Let’s do this!”?)

I will give del Toro and Beacham credit for coming up with an original story, but feel bad it was so poorly executed. There was no way this could lived up to all the hype. Scott Pilgrim, anyone?

Some notable disappointments: the Russian and Chinese pilots/robots were treated as throwaway characters, and were dispatched with way too quickly.
-the Australian guy with a huge chip on his shoulder seemed straight out of a studio note. “This guy should be a real asshole, but give him a dog so he’s semi-likeable.”
-the trailers featured most of the robot-monster action, leaving little to surprise us during the actual movie.

-THE LAST STARFIGHTER (1984). Hadn’t seen this in years.  Also watched it with V because I thought she might like it – she did. There are elements similar to DREAMSHIP. Not exactly the same, but definitely there.

The story by itself still holds up, even though the rest feels a little clunky, and Robert Preston’s fast-talking Harold Hill-type character always brightens up whatever scene he’s in.

Watching this on an HD screen makes it that much more obvious you’re looking at a film set, and the special effects, cutting-edge at the time, seem quaintly dated.