Monday, November 28, 2011

What to say...what to say.

Well, here I am again, even though I don't know what to say.  I've struggled a lot over the past few months. Here I am in my mid 50s (the age of the double nickels), I decided late in life what to be when I grow up and finally got my degree, yet I feel like a young whippersnapper trying to find my sea legs after college.  Trying to find my niche.  Trying to find my voice.



I will get past this phase.  I will not quit!  I will fight my way through.  And that's all I've got to say ... for now.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Notes to Self

Capturing ideas lets my brain know I am serious about creating.  I keep index cards and scrap paper all over the house and in my purse so I can jot down notes to myself. Then I put the note in a binder, depending on what the idea relates to... I have a binder for writing ideas and another for film ideas. Sometimes, I grab anything handy to scribble on (napkin, receipt, take-out menu), so I use sheet protectors in my binders to accommodate such items.

I've noticed that some activities seem to be a breeding ground for ideas: driving, exercising, and bathing.  Ideas that arrive during those activities are a little tougher to capture. I've taken some pretty cryptic notes while trying to drive, and sometimes cannot decipher them when I get home. (The whooza goes to the whatza?)  Notes taken while exercising are not a whole lot better.  It's hard to write while trying to keep my heart rate up, jumping around.  As for bathing, I call the tub/shower my Think Tank, and I keep a wet-erase marker handy.  Whenever an idea hits, I write it on the tile, then copy the note onto paper when I'm able.  A problem arises when I forget to wash away the marker notes.  One time I was trying to figure out a method my main character would encounter to accidentally kill a person. Scribbled on the tile:  A knife? A gun? Burn the house down?  Notes such as those can easily frighten my husband.

Today I learned yet another lesson about taking notes on the bathroom tiles.  I usually write them on the outer edges beyond reach of the water, but since I was soaking my sore Tai Chi'd muscles in the tub, I figured I was safe to write them on the main tiled wall with my blue wet erase marker.  When I was done soaking, I washed my hair with the shower (forgetting about my notes). Blue ink bled down the tiles, into the tub, and down the drain.  It looked like Norman Bates attacked Smurfette.

Hmmm...that gives me an idea....



Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Time flies...just like random thoughts.

  • I looked under the bed, cleaned out my purse, emptied storage bins, but I cannot find July.  I have no clue where it went.  And apparently, from what I read on Facebook, others lost it too.  Weird.
  • It used to be that I looked forward to going to the movie theater so I could have some buttery theater-style popcorn, but now I make my own popcorn (yep, popping in a pan) and love the taste of it so much, I find it's one more excuse to stay home and watch a DVD.  I want my own freshly made yummy kernels of goodness.  
  • "By the age of six the average child will have completed the basic American education... From television, the child will have learned how to pick a lock, commit a fairly elaborate bank holdup, prevent wetness all day long, get the laundry twice as white, and kill people with a variety of sophisticated armaments."  (From thinkexist.com)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Painfully funny.

An article in the July/August issue of Script Magazine, "How to Sell Out!" made me laugh...and nearly cry.  The authors (Thomas Lennon & Robert Ben Garant) use tongue-in-cheek humor to share tips on how to make money as a Hollywood screenwriter.  I love that kind of humor--the kind that makes me laugh at the painful truth.

They state that in order to make money as a screenwriter, you have to sell out to the big Hollywood Studios.  Here are a some favorite excerpts from their article:

    1. Check your pretense at the door! You may be saying to yourself: "Hey, I want to write subtle, interesting films ... I don't want to spend weeks writing some crap about Martin Lawrence being put in charge of a Girl Scout Troop."  WELL GET OVER IT SMARTYPANTS! Us sellouts relish the idea of thinking up scenarios where Martin Lawrence is a "fish out of water." ...
    2. Give up on the idea of ever winning an award. If you're selling out properly, this problem won't ever come up.  ... If you have your heart set on winning awards, DO NOT BECOME A HOLLYWOOD SCREENWRITER.  Write art films.  Art films are easy to write.  They don't even have to make much sense.  ...   
    3. Write every day, compulsively.  Don't approach your "craft" like some auteur who stares longingly out the window at the moor, occasionally putting quill to paper when the muse strikes you.  No.  It's not a "craft." It's a job. ... If you are not prepared to write as though Simon Legree  was standing over your shoulder, whip in hand, do not attempt to write movies for the big studios.
    4. Have no ego.  To write for the studios, keep in mind that over half of what you write will be thrown away.  ... And you must learn to nod and smile while it's thrown away.  Remember: The writer is the easiest person to fire.  Always.
    5. Be wonderful. ... Hollywood is a small town.  You'll run into the same 75 people over and over again.  Assistants will become executives. Executives will get fired, then become producers.  ... Make no enemies, because whoever brought you a bottled water last week will be the woman you'll be pitching to in three months.
    6. Develop a drinking problem, it helps you through steps 1 through 5!
    7. Dress like a professional. ... Lots of wannabe screenwriters throw on whichever of their Doctor Who T-shirts has the least amount of Cheeto dust on it.  Stand out from the crowd by dressing like a grown-up, with a real job.  People have to take you seriously if you want to write the stupidest films in the world.
    8. If you're going to sell out, SELL OUT AND STOP [GRIPING] ABOUT IT.  Don't "kinda" sell out.  "I'm gonna take half of their notes, but keep the 'integritty' of my screenplay."  NO!  ... DO WHAT THEY TOLD YOU TO DO ... !  If you don't, they're just gonna fire you and hire somebody else to take out the parts you liked anyway. ... Practice this, in the mirror, every morning:  "Wow, I think that's a GREAT idea!"  "Change the subplot about sweatshops in Cambodia to one about two monkeys who just can't get enough Sierra Mist?  I LOVE THAT!"
    9. Remember: After you sell your screenplay to a studio, it is not your movie anymore.  It is theirs.  So don't dig in your heels and defend it. That's like being a contractor, and arguing with the client over how big you think the bathroom should be.  If they want 10 sinks and no toilet, you say, "Yessir boss, coming right up!"
    10. Studios do not want "brilliant screenplays."  They want screenplays that make money.  No one hires you to be brilliant.  No one wants a thought-provoking work of genius.  ...  And THE MOST IMPOTANT RULE IN SELLING OUT:  Do it for the money.  ... Your writing is your art, your art is your soul.  ...  Do not sell your soul ... unless it's for a [butt-load] of cash.
(I added bracketed words to replace some I didn't want to use on this blog.)

This morning I read the article, in its entirety to Kurt. We both howled with laughter. Then I told him, "This is why I don't plan marketing my screenplays to Hollywood.  I'll go to Independent filmmakers."

"NO!  Stop writing brilliant stuff!" Kurt joked.  "I'll be Simon Legree with the whip when I get home tonight, and I better find you writing a script about monkeys fighting over Sierra Mist. You can write your brilliant stuff later, after you've made a buttload of money, and we are lounging on our yacht!"

(Er...he was joking...right?)

Oh dear.  What did this clever article get me into?  And why am I considering purchasing their book: WRITING MOVIES FOR FUN AND PROFIT.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy July Fourth!

It's Independence Day, and to celebrate I wanted to spend the day reading a novel.  I am a reading pig when it comes to novels...I want to read the entire book in a day, none of this read a little one day and a little more the next.  AAAaaahhhh!!!  To me, that is like pausing a movie a million times.  Drives me nutty.  So, I have to block out a day, which I don't do very often.  This was to be a royal treat for myself.

However, since writing screenplays, and reading screenplays, I am spoiled.  I'm used to tight writing styles that give description only if it is pertinent to moving the story. Now, I try to read novels and find myself feeling very impatient with all the description and blah-de-blah-de-blah. Oh  my goodness!!!  Get to the point!  The novel I selected is a disappointment so far.  The author writes too much exposition into the dialogue. The characters are talking about things that are common knowledge to both of them, which makes it obvious the writer just wants the reader to know the information.  It would be like me talking with my husband about details we both know.  For example:

Trudy said, "When we met in February of 1978 in Twin Falls, Idaho, you were visiting your parents during a military leave of absence."  Kurt smiles and responds, "Yes, I remember.  I was with my brother, John, the youngest out of seven siblings of which I am the middle child."  Smiling wryly, Trudy teases, "And I was with Lonnie, the boyfriend of my roommate Jeannie."

See what I mean?  No one talks like that, making the dialogue in the novel annoying. In reality, our conversation would go something like this:

"Remember when we first met?"  Trudy asked.
Kurt smiles, "Yeah."

I've read three chapters and I don't know if I can continue.  I think I will switch gears and watch a movie.

Happy July Fourth everyone!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Birds of a feather.

Isolated.  Disconnected from the film community.  That's how I've felt since I was no longer in school.  But Friday night I put an end to those feelings.  I attended a social gathering of filmmakers, sponsored by Utah Women in Film, a group I recently learned about.  The gathering was not just for women though, since the purpose of UWIF is for networking, they allowed another group (Utah Filmmakers) to join in the social for their "Meet and Greet". 

Imagine people mingling, eating fruit, and strange (but delicious) cucumber snacks, talking "shop" and schmoozing.  I met actors, producers for independent film, location scouts, and sat at a table with other screenwriters.  At first I felt strange since I didn't know anyone, but as we sat and shared stories, experiences, and laughter, I felt comfortable.  We were birds of a feather.  The "screenwriter's table" (not officially set aside for us, but soon developed into "our" table) became the happenin' place to hang out, so most people in the room eventually migrated near us.  

It felt so good to hear other screenwriter's share about their problems, writer's block, lack of writing time, reading about writing instead of writing, frustrations with actors or directors wanting changes to the script.  That's right.  Some of them have screenplays they've sold.  Some have found private funding to film their work. And some (me) have awe and envy and want to hang out with them to pick their brains!  

Ah! 'Tis good to feel connected.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Murphy's Law abated at last!

Most people deal with Murphy's Law in their lives -- the law that indicates if anything can go wrong, it will.  When trying to film, Murphy's Law seems to rule the day, and held no exceptions for me with my latest project.

In January, I approached a small business and asked if they would be interested in a little bartering...I would make a short documentary of their business to post on their website and they could pay me in delicious natural meats.  They run a local farm with chickens, turkeys, pigs, and cows that graze on grass and are not given antibiotics or hormones.

They were excited about the idea, and agreed that the best time to film the livestock would be in the spring, so we waited for the snow to disappear and the grass to green up in hopes for nice shots with blossoms on the trees.  May approached and the elements lined up.  However, they were going on vacation the first week in May, so we set a date for the following week.  Setting a date always triggers Murphy's Law into action.

That's when the rains started.  The first appointment was canceled.  Then the second.  Then the third.  Then we stopped making appointments and agreed to watch the weather and play it by ear.  The rain lasted three weeks, only clearing on a few select days when I was unavailable.  After that, it was my turn to go on vacation.

Long story long.  Finally...today was the day!  It happened!  I went early this morning and filmed the animals.  I am now in the process of logging and transferring my clips into Final Cut Pro, and hoping that I have enough decent footage to use.  Take that, Murphy's Law!

(However, Murphy still got a last laugh since it rained heavily yesterday which forced me to walk through muddy muck to the animals.)

Friday, June 17, 2011

I actually purchased a DVD!

Okay, the title to this post probably sounds pretty lame to most people.  I rarely purchase DVDs, partially because technology changes and I don't want stuck with a bunch of outdated DVDs... like the sorry old VHS collection.  Another reason I rarely purchase DVDs is because I'm not one to watch the same movie over and over and over again.  If a movie tickles my funny bone, or seems like a classic, then I might buy it.

Well, last night I was in Target and walked by a display of DVDs on sale for $4.75.  I usually don't pay attention because often for that price the film is a real snoozer, but for some reason I stopped and looked at the titles.

And there, lo and behold, was a favorite movie:  WHAT ABOUT BOB.  I grabbed it and put it in the cart.

When I told my husband I purchased a DVD, he was shocked.  Then when he learned the title, he was thrilled.  It's a cult classic at our house, and we quote from it often.  Even during our vacation, we used one of the lines, "I'm saaiilling!" (Bob...as he's literally tied to the mast of a sail boat.)  And any good meal at our house brings lots of moaning pleasure just like Bob as he enjoys a meal with Dr. Marvin's family.

Yep...WHAT ABOUT BOB... a steal for $4.75!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Am I nuts?

During my first semester at school, I went to the career counseling library with one of my classes.  We were instructed to look up our particular chosen field and learn about the job description, requirements, and salary.  I found the book on filmmaking and flipped to the pages for Screenwriter.  The listed salary was both discouraging and exhilarating: Range... $0 to $1,000,000.  Okay, that's a pretty wide gap.

Lately I've been questioning my choices and taking a long look at my chosen profession.  Why do I feel driven towards a career so laden with difficulties, stress, uncertainty, rejection....  AAAACCKKK!!  (Picture me pulling my hair out here.)

I used to tell my husband that a dream job for me would be crunching numbers--adding columns upon columns of numbers while seated in a cubicle.  Seriously.  I've had a job like that and absolutely enjoyed it.  So why don't I feel driven to pursue that career? Why does the very thought of getting a degree in, say, accounting, make me want to upchuck?

Why screenwriting?  Why filmmaking?  Why writing?  Why any career in The Arts? Why can't I feel a passion for a job that actually pays, or even one that sounds like a real job?  I've been driving myself crazy, questioning.

I'm not alone in my craziness.  I started reading Staying Sane in the Arts  by  Eric Maisel, Ph.D., a psychotherapist who works exclusively with creative and performing artists.  I've had the book for several years, but finally drug it off the shelf.  Like the salary range for a screenwriter, the first chapter of this book was both discouraging and exhilarating.

First the discouragement.  Right away in the introduction he describes the "real artist in the real world" as "often uncertain about his own talent, wants to do art his own way, but must also do business, is hard-pressed to make a living, posses a personality that sometimes serves him well and sometimes does not, frequently has bouts of depression, and in general faces the toughest uphill battle one can imagine."

Gulp.

Oh.  It continues.

"I believe that the artist in contemporary Western society is guaranteed a life of grave difficulty because of his personality, because of the inevitable challenges he encounters..."  (italics added)

That's just the introduction.  If that's not a big enough dose of discouragement, then the first chapter brings another punch.  He writes of income--or the lack thereof.  He states, "A quarter of all working visual artists earn no money from their arts, and another quarter earn less than $1,000 a year.  Almost 90 percent earn less than $5,000 a year. ... Similarly disturbing figures can be quoted for...all groups of creative and performing artists."

Then he poses the same question I keep asking myself:  "Why would a smart, ambitious, talented person choose to live such a life?"

Because I feel alive when I create.  I feel joy when I create.  Author Maisel quotes the sculptor Louise Nevelson, "In my studio I'm as happy as a cow in her stall."

I'm not alone in my craziness, and there's hope that I can learn to work with the anxieties and discouragement.  That's the exhilarating part of the book so far. Tomorrow... chapter two.

 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why I dislike profanity.

Perhaps you recall an earlier post where I referred to topics I might discuss in this blog. (Click here to see that entry.)  This post is in response to the next issue I wanted to address: Why foul language bothers me.


"Swearing is the language of the ignorant."  That's what I grew up hearing.  "People who swear are not smart enough to think of a more appropriate word."

Think about it... when an author wants to indicate an intelligent race, he usually eliminates swearing from the vocabulary.

For years, I associated swearing with lack of intelligence and lack of refinement.  I never really thought about the "author" of foul language.  Other than the obvious "Lord's name in vain" type references, I never thought about how all swearing is offensive to God until I took a class taught by Randall Wright.  He conducted a study on affects of strong language in the media.  Research and study revealed that all swear words fit into four different categories.
  1. Describing body parts and/or functions.  We are created in God's image.  Our bodies are divine temples where our spirits dwell. So who would want to mock bodies?  Satan...he who has no body! 
  2. Descriptions or references to intimacy.  Intimacy is sacred and beautiful. Through intimate relations, husband and wives can draw close to each other, as well as bring children into the world.  So who would want to make fun of such a sacred union?  Old Scratch...he who would love to destroy marriage and family relationships.
  3. Describing others.  We are all children of God, no matter what color, size, or shape.  He loves us all, and wants us to care for each other.  So who would want us to mock others?  Yep...ole what's-his-no-face, the master of mockery (and misery).
  4. Vain references to Deity.  The misuse, overuse, and downright abuse of holy names are utterly offensive to God.  So who would want us to profane Deity? The one who fights against all things Holy and Good.
There you have it: profanity is authored by the devil.  Foul language offends me, and worse, it offends God.

Sometimes when I complain about foul language, I hear the response.  "Oh, I don't even notice.  I hear far worse at school." (or work, or wherever...)  When I mention strong language in films, I usually hear about "realism" and how it was "true to the character."  Well, I don't care.  A character can display anger through expression and action.  I don't need to hear profanity spewing forth to understand his anger, or to understand his upbringing, or to understand his (or her) feelings.

Some accuse me of being naive if I think films don't need profanity.  I say,  "Look at the classics.  They didn't need profanity and they are still held as a standard of great films."

Some tell me profanity is inevitable.  I say, "The media helped bring profanity to this level, therefore the media can help bring the level of profanity down!"



Friday, May 27, 2011

I voted with my money -- twice!

In an earlier post (see: My movie viewing preferences.) I mentioned my need to support new release movies at the theater whenever I feel like it is quality and in good taste.  Well, I've gone twice in May!  Go me!   I voted with my money (well...technically Kurt's hard earned money) for SOUL SURFER, and for PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: STRANGER TIDES.

When SOUL SURFER came out, I had no idea what it was about.  It wasn't until I started hearing "thumbs up" reports from friends that I decided to see it.  I'm not sure how long it had been playing by that time, but it was still at the new-release theater and not the "sticky shoe."

We wanted to see PIRATES the first weekend it came out, but decided to avoid the crowds so we waited until Wednesday.

From what I understand, the success of a film is often determined by the numbers attending the weekend it hits the screen.  Do I lose points for not attending the films during box office weekend?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

House on fire.

In the movie LEAP YEAR, my favorite scene (warning...spoiler alert...) is when the main character pulls the fire alarm in their new apartment and observes the items her new fiance' frantically gathers.  That scene made me wonder, with the house on fire, what would I grab?


I saw the movie earlier this week and continue to think about it, so when I came across a website today titled The Burning House, I was intrigued.  People gather the items they treasure, take a picture of it, and list the items.  No fluffs.  No advertising.  Just here it is folks.  Here's what I would grab.

The photos, pleasing to the eye, are well composed.  I enjoyed looking at them as an art form since they are in essence a portrait of the person posting, but it's also like a glimpse into his or her soul...a nostalgic unnerving.

Besides the safety of my family, what would I want to rescue from our burning home? Three things pop into my mind... my journals, my external hard drives (with my short films and photos), and the photo albums.  

My "grab and go" list makes me want to scan everything and post it on the web where I can retrieve it from anywhere on any computer, so if the house catches fire I can just run screaming into the streets.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Wow, I actually made the cut!

A couple years ago I was an extra in a movie titled MY GIRLFRIEND'S BOYFRIEND, and I wondered if I might end up on the cutting room floor.   (See the blog post about my experience as an extra.)

Recently, my daughter called me, "Mom!  You're famous!  I saw you in that movie!" Turned out she downloaded it from Netflix to watch, not realizing it was the film where I was an extra.  Gradually, as she recognized it was filmed locally, she put two and two together, so by the time the wedding scene came along, she was watching for me.

I finally had the opportunity to see the film this weekend (which I thoroughly enjoyed, by the way) and there I was...in the crowd of wedding guests at the end.  Wow.  How about that.

Where's my trailer?  Where's my basket of goodies?  Where's my make-up and hair person?  Sheesh!  Can't a star get decent help around here?

I'd like to thank my family for their support and encouragement, and I'd like to thank my manager (if I had one), and I'd like to thank my friend and former screenwriting classmate, Matt Taylor (check out his awesome Raccoon Toons...be sure to read his blog entry for the comic too).  Anyhoooo, Matt worked as an intern on the film crew, and he's the one that gave me the information on how I could be an extra (ahem..."background talent") for the movie, and spend a majority of the day in a holding pen...in the heat...with no compensation...and no credit.  Thanks A LOT Matt!  

No.  Seriously.  Let's do lunch.  I'll have my people call your people.

Friday, May 13, 2011

New Tripod!

After much shopping, comparing, searching... I finally bought a tripod today.  I am now the proud owner of a Manfrotto 701HDV, 547BK Video Tripod system with bag!  It has features I wanted: capability to go real low to the ground, easy to lock/unlock the legs, smooth motion for panning or tilting, and camera leveler.  Plus it has some features I hoped to get but didn't think I could afford... spiked rubber feet (the rubber feet are great on level surfaces, but I can lower the spikes if I am on uneven, or rocky surfaces) and it came with a carrying bag!

When I first started looking for a tripod, I didn't think it would be difficult to find what I wanted, but most of the tripods I found were made for still photography, not video.  Many salespeople looked at me like I was nuts, "You want a camera leveler?  Well, this one shows when the legs are level."  And I would try to explain... "I don't give a hoot if the legs are level, I want my camera level.  If I'm shooting on the side of a hill, I want to quickly level the camera."  I pictured some of the shots I took while filming A Shear Gem.  For some shots I had one leg of the tripod on a bench and the other two legs on the ground.  I don't care what the legs are doing...have I emphasized enough yet?...I just want my camera level!

Granted, my tripod is not heavy duty professional quality, like the one I toted around Italy last summer, but it suits my needs.

Tomorrow I have my first paying video job.  I'm filming a short documentary style ad for a small company to place on their website.   (Okay, so they are paying me in merchandise, but hey, I'm fine with that!)



Monday, May 9, 2011

Film Degree

I graduated in December 2010, but the University of Utah only holds graduation ceremonies in the spring, so it was on Friday, May 6, 2011, that I finally "walked the stage."

My degree... Bachelor of Arts, Film and Media Arts, Summa Cum Laude.

Because of the recent ceremony, inquiries once again come my way such as "A degree in film?  What do you do with that?"  It's almost a private joke among film students.  Fodder for laughter and frustration.  One classmate wrote a clever screenplay based on that question and the pickle the main character finds herself in after giving a flippant response.  (I don't want to tell more since it is not my story.)

I wish I had a solid answer to give people.  "I'm working for Acme Productions."  "I'm a script reader."  "I formed my own Independent film company."  But I tell the truth,  "I write screenplays.  I studied film so I could understand the filmmaking process better."

Then comes the next question, "What are your screenplays about?"  And I have to answer, "I can't tell you or I would have to kill you."  This answer comes because I totally suck at telling about my stories in just a couple sentences.   Maybe they only teach that skill in the Master Degree program.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Writing while "under fire."

It's been a month since I posted on here.  A rough month with two deaths in the family (an aunt, and one of my brothers), and two trips (one trip for a funeral, and one trip for delivering a car to someone in southern California).  


One thing I keep learning over and over since graduating: life is hectic.  Whether in school or not, life is hectic.  I have a tendency to want the "perfect moment" for writing.  You know...solitude, quiet, a house so clean it doesn't cry out to me.  Right.  Like that will ever happen.  Life--and death--happen, and I need to knuckle down and write.


That lesson was just starting to sink into my thick skull when I came across some notes I had scribbled about writing while "under fire" -- or in other words -- while life goes on all around.  Choas, interruptions, noise, lack of time.  Finding those notes written in 2003, reaffirmed what I was re-learning... I need to write no matter what.


I put a note on my computer, "Write while under fire," and since that time I have been more diligent in working on my screenplays each day.  I am about 3/4 of the way through the process of re-typing the pages of one of my screenplays into my screenwriting software.  (see post)


Now I am back to writing in my blog.

Monday, April 4, 2011

My movie viewing preferences.

In my previous post, I mentioned an article titled, "The Day the Movies Died."  In this article, the author stated numerous reasons why people stay at home to watch movies, rather than go to the theater.  I, too, am guilty of staying home to watch movies; however, he didn't list the reasons that apply to me.  

I enjoy watching movies on the big screen, and prefer to see them at the cinema (mmm...popcorn...big screen...).  So why am I a stay-at-home viewer?
  • Too often I am disappointed in the quality of the film.  I don't like to pay full price (or even matinee price) to see a lame movie!
  • Life gets busy.  Sometimes by the time I get a chance to get to the theater, the movie I wanted to see has come and gone.
But a major reason I wait for the DVDs to watch at home...
  • I don't like the content of most films.  I personally think that movies have no need for vulgar language, extreme violence, and nudity/sex.  At home, I can watch the DVD with a filter and not have to sit through the unnecessary garbage.
When a movie draws me to the cinema, it is usually geared for kids.  Even then, I tend to wait for it to come to the "cheap theater" (or as my niece calls it: the "sticky shoe" theater). 

A problem stems from rarely attending new-release films...I don't see the previews for upcoming movies that might actually be worth paying full price and going to the theater to watch.  

After reading Harris' article, I realized that I need to make more of an effort to keep tabs on what's playing at the local cinema.  I need to "vote with my money" and show that I will support new-release movies if they produce films of quality in good taste. 

I wonder how long I will have to wait for such a film to hit the screen.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Reflecting on Hollywood movies...

One of my Facebook friends posted a link to an article titled "The Day the Movies Died" (by Mark Harris).  Naturally, the title grabbed my attention, but since the article was not a "quick read," I waited until I had time to pour over it, which was yesterday.

Very interesting, well-written article.  (Click on the highlighted link above if you want to read it.)

As I read about Hollywood sticking to what they consider guaranteed box-office draws, I reflected on the blog post I wrote a year ago:  "Hints for watching movie re-makes."   For a review of that post, go here.

Reading the article also gave me ideas for several topics I might address over the next few blog posts:
  • My personal movie-going habits.  (Reasons why I sometimes choose to watch movies at home rather than the theater -- one reason being foul language.)
  • Why foul language bothers me.
  • My thoughts on edited films (such as in-flight movies).
  • My opinion of sequels.
  • And, how the Hollywood outlook on original screenplays affects me... a new screenwriter.
Stay tuned for upcoming posts!  ♩Dun dun dunnnnnn.....   :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Screenwriting Software

Wow!  I feel all official and special!  I just installed screenwriting software on my desktop and laptop.  I've already written (and re-written) two feature length screenplays...using Microsoft Word.  Using "Word" is not the most efficient way to format a screenplay, trust me.  Ugh.  But I made do.

In February I purchased Movie Magic Screenwriter 6.  Why am I just now installing it, you might ask?  Because I was up to my ears in projects and knew that once it was installed it would call out to me, and I would want to play.  So I postponed the installation.

Now it's time to play.  Time to re-type and re-write my babies!

(Oh, and with the installation, Write Brothers included a tutorial for an add-on plug-in I can purchase: "Streamline."  I want, I want...I need, I need!)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

My Documentary Short



I want to share the short documentary I created in Production 1, during my last semester of school.  This assignment really boosted my desire to do more short films, especially documentaries.  (I have several ideas brewing!)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A tough decision last week.

I know I'm late in posting about this, but I had to make a tough decision a week ago Wednesday.  I had to choose between meeting an Academy Award winning screenwriter Bobby Moresco, or attending an on-line class I had signed up for (to learn how to market my screenplays).  The class was taught by David Trottier, author of The Screenwriter's Bible, and was a four week course which ended last night.

I went back and forth between the two choices, but finally decided to attend class with Trottier.  Why?  Because he teaches in such an encouraging manner I knew I would find motivation during the class chat, whereas Moresco was an unknown to me.  I have met Hollywood screenwriters before, and they seemed to send off very negative vibes.  "I made it, but you are all just peons and probably don't have what it takes."  That seemed to be the attitude of the ones I've met so far.  Moresco might not be like that at all, but I wanted a sure thing.  I took a class last year taught by Trottier and even though he didn't sugar coat the difficulty, he taught in such a way that I felt motivated after class, rather than discouraged.

Last week did not disappoint.  I made the right choice.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Video Project

I am working on a small video project, which I hope to complete by tomorrow night.  Yesterday I had so many glitches I felt discouraged and frustrated.  Why do I love doing this so much?  I asked myself that question numerous times while I struggled yesterday.  I don't know the answer, I just know that when I complete a video, I feel great satisfaction which makes the agony worth it.   Perhaps the agony and the ecstasy go hand in hand when creating.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A writer needs feedback...

Before I began writing screenplays, I did not understand how important it was to have feedback from numerous sources.  I learned firsthand in my screenwriting class that numerous heads are better than one.  It is impossible for a writer to see every angle, making feedback from others vital to the story.

I never understood the students who became defensive and refused to accept input on their screenplay.  I learned early on that if people said a scene didn't make sense, then something was wrong in my story!  Why argue for what I wrote when it's not working?  It's almost a guarantee that if a group of writers say something is amiss, then no amount of arguing is going to make it better, and the chance of that story making it anywhere is nil.  

Some of my favorite times were when my classmates not only told me what didn't work, but also gave suggestions on changes to make it work!  They came up with ideas that I never thought of, many of them brilliant.  When I included the good ideas with my rewrites, the stories become far more solid.  

Writers struggle with "killing" their "darlings" (or as I call it...killing my babies) but sometimes those wonderful lines just don't move the story.  I keep a file of such lines.  That way they don't feel dead to me forever...I have the hope they can be resurrected for a different screenplay!  

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Long time no post.

Nearly a year passed since I posted last on this blog. Two main reasons caused this lapse... 1) my last year of school was intense and many things in my life were put on hold, including this blog, and 2) I have tried to assess what direction to go with the blog. I started the blog initially to have a place to write about why I returned to school. With that already posted, I wasn't sure what to focus my posts on. I kind of dabbled with whatever came to mind.

I am still dabbling, but want to hone in on a focus soon... after all... this is called REEL FOCUS, not Reel Dabbling.

UPDATES: (since so much time has passed after my last post)

Last summer I worked as an intern in Italy for a month, learning about documentary filmmaking. I absolutely loved the experience, and yearn to return.

I graduated in December 2010 with a Bachelor Degree in Film and Media Arts. Since that time I took a couple months "off" to recuperate from school, and to get my office in order, giving it a more creative atmosphere.

I now have two feature length screenplays written. (Feature length meaning if they were produced they would each be two hours long.) My first screenplay needs at least one more re-write, and the second one needs several more drafts.

During my last semester of school I produced some short films, finding an interest in that area too. (I will post links to some of my films later.)

Now I embark on a new adventure... my career in screenwriting, as well as some film projects I have in the wings.

(NOTE: If anyone has any suggestions as to what you would like to see or read on this blog, please let me know! I have several ideas spinning around in my head and your suggestions might help me pin an idea down. :)