Friday, December 18, 2009

Second Draft

This past summer I wrote the second draft of my screenplay, then during this semester at school we read through it in class (usually reading about 15 pages at a time) where I received feedback from the students and teacher. I hoped to get the screenplay completely read--all 127 pages--so the same students could hear it from beginning to end, and that goal was accomplished last night when we read the last 27 pages. This morning I met with my screenwriting professor. I feel really psyched over the things he had to say about my script. Such a good feeling to receive great input and encouragement. Now I'm anxious to write the third draft, but alas, the holiday season is here and I'm on a time crunch. Next semester I start an entirely new story.

Monday, December 14, 2009

So many movies, so little time!

With the semester drawing to a close, I finally had time to watch a couple movies. I want to post my opinions on the movies I saw over the weekend, and I would welcome any comments from the few people that follow this blog.

First, I want to post a disclaimer: I am not using this entry to bash the movie; I truly want input on this topic. What drives this particular story? I am interested to know because the main character in my opinion is so unlikeable. I feel no pity, no sympathy, no connection to Bella at all. I cannot find anything that makes me want to root for her. She wants to die (so to speak) and by the end of the movie I wanted to help her die. Except I dislike her so much, I want to help her really die and not be immortal with Edward. A primary aspect taught in storytelling is that the protagonist has to be likable in some way. The person can be ornery, stupid, whatever, but somehow there must be something likable too--something to make the viewer think, "Okay, I'm behind this person. I want her to succeed, I'm rooting for her cause." Maybe I am missing something since I have not read the book. I read Twilight after I saw that movie and I enjoyed both. I have not read New Moon. So maybe I am missing a key part that makes Bella likable. I figure if the main character is completely unlikeable, there has to be something that drives the story so readers (or the audience) will overlook that major flaw and keep on reading (viewing). Please tell me what the secret is to this story. I really, in all sincerity, want to know. I have heard comments that people liked New Moon better than Twilight, so I feel like I am missing something, somewhere. What is it?

Julie & Julia (2009).
I enjoyed this movie. I got a kick out of Julie saying she was not a writer because she wasn't published. I used to buy into that myth too. It's like an unwritten rule of society that you have to be published to be a real writer. Then I realized, "Hey, does a runner have to run a marathon to be considered a real runner? Does a chess player have to compete in tournaments to be a real chess player?" But, for some reason, most people think writers have to publish, and I get that type of response when people find out I am studying screenwriting. They respond as though I can't be serious unless my screenplay is made into a movie. What if I write a dozen screenplays and not one hits the screen? Does that mean I'm not a screenwriter? Then what did I write?

Anyway, I digress. Overall, the movie was fun and interesting. I enjoyed the way scenes from Julie's life were juxtaposed with Julia's life. Since the movie is based on a true story, I found myself amazed that Julie could accomplish such a tremendous task of cooking all those recipes in a year, especially since she did not get home until around 7 or 8pm and still found time to blog daily. Makes me feel guilty for my sporadic blog posts. :)

I do have one complaint about the movie though: I did not appreciate the F-bomb being dropped out of the blue. Granted, it's my fault that I did not take the time to use a Clearplay filter, but the word did not fit the scene, and did not fit the character that dropped it. So what was that all about? I get angry enough at the use of foul language in movies, but using it just to use it makes me even angrier. Okay, I vented. Now I feel better.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Private Screening

This morning I attended a private screening for the upcoming film Broken Hill. The screening was for the press but a few others were invited. I felt privileged to be there. 

The movie comes from Audience Alliance--the first audience-driven motion picture studio--and I was pleased with the results. I became a member of Audience Alliance a few years ago when they first started; and I hoped they would produce quality film. This one did not disappoint. 

It was predictable in parts, but still contained enough surprises to keep my interest. The music was great (gave me goosebumps!), and the story uplifting. 

Trailer: Broken Hill (2009)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Extra! Extra!

Last Wednesday I had the opportunity to be an "extra" (or, as they called us..."Background Talent") in the movie My Girlfriend's Boyfriend (2010) with Alyssa Milano, Christopher Gorham, and Beau Bridges. It was an interesting experience.

I was part of a wedding scene, seated in the chapel. I doubt anyone will see me in the movie since I am on the back row and there are crew members lounging around behind me. There is a scene outside the chapel where I may or may not survive the cutting room floor. Hahaha.  

I'll tell ya this much: I learned that the true blue "extras" will elbow people in the ribs and gouge out eyes (practically) in the fight for on-camera time. Sheesh! Good thing I wasn't clamoring to be "seen" in the scene, or I might have lost a limb! It wasn't bad when we were seated in the chapel...since we were each told exactly where to sit. But when the wedding guests had to "pour" out of the chapel doors....well, let's just say it was not pretty behind those doors before the call to "action!" I will never be able to view such scenes in a movie again without picturing the blood bath behind the doors!

[Update: At the time of this writing, the film was still in production, but I returned to add a link to the film on IMDb, released in 2010. And I did survive the cutting room floor in one of the scenes. I'm one of the wedding guests waving to the newlyweds as they drive away.]

Friday, May 8, 2009

First Draft!

I finished Spring Semester 2009. YAY! 

I also finished the first draft of my screenplay--big sigh of relief. What a milestone. Now I need to do the re-write. I'm excited to redo certain scenes and give them far more punch...yet, at the same time it feels like a huge mountain looming over me. With my first draft complete, my professor recommended I read the book Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, especially the chapter called "Sh**** First Drafts" -- Okay, I bleeped out part of it. She uses a word similar to "poopy." Here's a quote from that chapter...

She says that many people think great writers sit down and crank out wonderful drafts from the get-go. "But this is just the fantasy of the uninitiated. I know some very great writers ... and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts. All right, one of them does, but we do not like her very much. We do not think that she has a rich inner life or that God likes her or can even stand her." (hahaha)

So here's a toast to my First Draft, and now I must press onward to a good second draft and a terrific third draft, right?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Upcoming Premiere!

One of the films I mentioned in my previous post will be premiering at the Foursite Film Festival (Ogden, UT) on March 4. I'm very excited. The title was changed though, it is now called Father Forgive Me. Kurt and I get to attend a reception before the premiere. I will have to miss my screenwriting class that night, but I got permission from the professor.

It's a heady experience to see my name in the credits of a film. This will be my second time seeing my name on the screen. Weird, but very cool! When the director of Misa sent me a copy of the DVD, Kurt and I paused the film at the credits and stared at my name for the longest time. No wonder actors get such big fat egos!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Working on Films

Some people have asked if I have worked on any films. Yes. So far I have worked as Production Assistant for two Independent Films. My first experience as PA was for a feature length film titled Misa. My next experience was on a short film titled Forgive Me, Father*.  

Did I receive any payment for working as a PA? Yes, and no....  

For MISA, I received a small paycheck, which I have not cashed to this day. I cannot bring myself to do it! My first pay working in the film industry! It's on my bulletin board--serving as seed money, I guess.

For Forgive Me, Father* I signed a form donating my salary to the non-profit film company (Foursite Films). I can deduct the salary amount as a charitable contribution.

*NOTE:  When the film was complete, the name was changed to Father Forgive Me (2009).

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Take (the movie)

Take (2007), starring Minnie Driver and Jeremy Renner. 

Inside every moment is a lifetime.

The writer/director (Charles Oliver) created a film that contains a strong message of revenge--as in those that seek revenge can become destroyed themselves--and forgiveness. The film contains no nudity, no profanity, and minimal violence. However, the movie is very intense and at times disturbing. Oliver did a superb job in creating tension and anxiety through the use of space, color, and setting.

Charles Oliver spoke to a group of film students at the University of Utah. I was privileged to be there. He explained that an approved PG-13 version was showing at the cinema that weekend, so I took advantage of the opportunity to see it.

WOW! Now that is the type of movie I am talking about when I say "quality film." It carries a great message in a powerful way. I rarely cry while watching movies, but rivulets of tears streamed down my cheeks during this one. It yanked emotions out of me, and left an impact. I think it is the best movie I have seen in a long, long time.  

Trailer: Take (2007)

Soap Box: The MPAA Rating System

I get irritated at the MPAA rating system. It seems out of whack. For instance, some movies are rated PG-13 yet have nudity, profanity (including the "F" word), and violence. Other movies are rated R only because the theme is intense. Consider the movie Take (2007)(see post: Take). The movie was rated R because of an intense scene. The writer/director (Charles Oliver) tried to fight it, but the rating stood. There is no nudity, no profanity, and only mild violence, but it is rated R. Go figure!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What drives me to study film?

I am seeking a way to help bring about better quality films. I am not talking about milk-toast white washed topics. I am talking about quality. I define "quality film" as a movie that teaches, uplifts, or gets its message across in a non-preachy, entertaining, or thought provoking way. It can be hard hitting, it can be cutting edge, it can be powerful; but it does not need to be vulgar or violent! 
Film is the most powerful medium there is to date, and it should be used for good. There is far too much filth and graphic violence in movies--and there is no need for it. Consider the silent films of years ago...they handled deep topics and concerns without nudity, profanity, or extreme violence. The addition of sound and modern technology should enhance those topics now, not serve to demoralize or drag the viewers down.  

So, although my personal focus is on screenwriting, I am also seeking ways that I can contribute or help those in the film industry bring quality back. I told my husband before I began this path, "I don't care if I only help by bringing hot chocolate to the director...if it's for a quality film, then I'm at least doing a small part." (I had to laugh when that statement literally came true in October when I worked as Production Assistant and served hot chocolate to the director, cast, and crew of a short film. I'll tell more about that in a later post.)