Thursday, January 11, 2007

Despite Being A Writer I Also Like Reading Screenplays

Fade In:

One of the best ways to learn the art of screenwriting is:

a) pay $500 for a two-day weekend to hear an unpublished/unsold writer pontificate off a pedestal, then make side deals afterward charging impressionable/gullible newbie writers an addtional $200+ to write coverage/critique their personal opus they have slaved over for the past 18 months

b) continually submit the same dusted off-slap a new cover on it script to contests that don't give feedback, never wondering why you don't make it past the first round, never change a word, keep thinking it's THEM not you and one day your one script will see the light of day

c) buy every writing book on the market, get the hat and T-shirt, hang out in writing groups and coffee shops saying you are a writer, and by osmosis, not actually completing anything always having a work in progress, will somehow become a writer by default

d) watch the Top 10 Rented Movies from Netflix and Box Office Weekend Champ only

e) hire a washed up ex-screenwriter ghost writer who really needs 1) drink 2)drugs 3)shelter, works for cheap and won't be missed when you kill them and submit for arbitration under your own name

Of course the answer is NONE of the above.

I think the best way to learn is do, and then see how it is done, otherwise WRITE and READ screenplays. Personally, I write every day, did a bang up job following last year's resolution, batting 100% for 2007 so far.

To feed my monster when I am in downtime, unwinding, sipping my martini waiting for the rap videos on VH1 Classics to finish playing so I can crank the volume back up, I enjoy reading professional screenplays.

I have a handful in PDF format I'd consider trading to any of my fellow blogpersons, if they are also interested?

Email me

Fade Out

EDIT: I guess I should list what I am looking for huh?

Atlantic City
The Descent
Silent Hill
Radio Flyer
Steel Magnolias
Point Of No Return
Terms Of Endearment
Thomas Crown Affair
Family Business
Trick Or Treat

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Let's Hear About Your Loot

Fade In:

What did Santa Scribe bring our budding screenwriters this year? If you received anything remotely writerly please feel free to let us know...

My haul included:

- a handful of funky flashy hardwood writing pencils
- two writing journals (both pocket size, never leave home without one)
- mp3 player to load with tunes
- subscription to Creative Screenwriting magazine
- cocktail shaker with applu pucker and butterscotch schnapps (can anyone say caramel apple martinis?)
- afternoon out watching Casino Royale (Mr. Craig did a great job and would love to know where in the script Paul Haggis added his usual flair)
- AC/DC pajamas (my writing costume for this week)
- "The Big Deal" book by Thom Taylor (great screenwriter stories, behind the scenes of how movies go from script to screen stage)
- Movie In A Month mini cdrom screenwriting course (anyone want to trade something for it? Email me and we can work something out)

Fade Out

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I Have A Chance To Write The Next Gumball 3000 Movie

Fade In:

It's true. I heard about a screenwriting contest surrounding the next Gumball 3000 Car Ralley, you know, the crazy multi-day cross country road trip in expensive souped up luxury cars driven by celebrities, sports figures, pro-drivers etc. Gumball Rally and Cannonball Run are good movies for frame of reference, but some of you may not know that they actually run these races, it isn't just a made up Hollywood plot.

Anyway, Danny Stack and Lucy both mentioned it so I tossed my keys into the ring and today I was notified I was one of the 100 selected to go to the next round. The next round being writing a treatment for the film by January 5.

I think my idea is unique, but odds are that someone out of that 100 came up with the same concept, so good luck to all who made the cut.

Fade Out

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Lay Down With The Devil And Sometimes You...

Fade In

... get to sleep with Sharon Stone. Or at least that's what famed, renowned, revered, feared screenwriter Joe Eszterhas tells us in his latest tome on the trials and tribulations of being a Hollywood Screenwriter in "The Devil's Guide To Hollywood."

I highly recommend the book if you have any interest whatsoever in screenwriting or the Hollywood business of making movies... or if you just enjoy smartass, witty, no holds barred face punches at celebrities extraordinaire.

The layout is simple and straightforward. He poses a question and then either answers it himself or provides quotes from industry folk. I found myself laughing out loud many times... sometimes even when reading the book, so put it on your Christmas List. Well worth the entry fee.

I loved his advice to us all: "Sit On Your Damn Butt: sitzfleisch - a German term that means the ability and the strength to sit on your ass."


"Screenplays Are A Bitch To Write - One man wrote War And Peace. Thirty-five screenwriters wrote The Flintstones."

Fade Out

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I Henceforth Return From Which I Came...

Fade In:

Don't worry, I have no idea what it means either, but since I am considering adapting a public domain Shakespeare piece (why not?) I have been speaking of the Bard... or if you are from the East Coast of my native homeland Canada, "baaaaaarrrrd"

Just returned from a full two week vacation back home to Ontario to see my parents, friends and relatives. First trip since 2003 and not much has changed in the old ville. Saddest part is always the last goodbye isn't it?

Did the NHL hockey pool, picked 13/16 which sucks because I never get the good players... although I came second last year.

No message from Hollywood on the machine and the production company hasn't called back yet (they mentioned two weeks which was last Wed.) I am thinking a followup call on my behalf around Halloween?

Just writing away... and debating on whether to continue to outline in #2 HB pencil or use the shiny multi-colored pens I have?

What did I miss in the last two weeks? Feel free to email me or post in comments what you have been up to. I love mail.

Oh yeah, we saw The Departed while at home and I have to say, Marty, I love ya and Bill Monahan, he did NOT have to die!

Fade Out

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I Fell Off The Wagon And Joined AAA...

Fade In:

No, not the automobile protection society, but rather the Access, Acclaim, Achievement screenwriting contest put on by Creative Screenwriting Magazine (one of the two must-read bibles of the industry.) I entered my drama/horror script "The Barber In A Seville" so next Sept I'll anxiously await results for this and the Nicholl's first cut.

Query: Does every writer actually think their screenplay will be made into a movie, or should we be treating it more as an example of our writing style? I always hear of writers holding out for years until they get a good deal/set up on their script, but wouldn't it be better to grab some writing assignments out of it first? Let your "baby" go out into the world and develop, cut the apron strings after your writing got your foot in the door and allowed you to be welcomed to play The Game?

Oh, don't get me wrong, as is everyone's want.
I'd love to be negotiating an option or wait by the phone as my spanking new agent sends my blood, sweat and tears out (BTW, I want that cd back on Monday, I play "Spinning Wheel" every morning while I dress.) But, I'd also just be happy someone recognizing I have a wee bit of talent in my left pinkie that can be exhumed, exploited and exhausted to the fullest exhalations of an exuberant studio. I want to work in the industry itself, not just sit at home on my sundeck sipping coffee typing on my laptop, wait a sec

Which brings up another question. How many of you are actively seeking, or are open to, employment within the LA based Hollywood screenwriting community? If the "call" comes by land, sea or water (insert pitch meeting, email query and telephone chat)will you answer? Or are you just content with entering some cash-quick contests, stay attuned to your local film communities and festivals. Writing being a serious hobby in your life but not necessarily a "drop everything and run to LA" sort of career choice.

Sidebar, even though it's at the bottom.

I am reading the Matrix script and wow, talk about descriptive writing. Some of the best I have had the pleasure of burning my retinas on.


It is a place of putrefying elegance, a rotting host of urban maggotry.

Fade Out

Monday, May 1, 2006

He Got To Manhandle Eva Longoria...

Fade In:

A shout out to a really nice writer slash SAG member known to some of us as Formosus and some as
The Angry Anthropologist . This lucky S.O.B got to fondle Eva Longoria last night on Desperate Housewives. He was the cop who held her back when they took the baby away at the end of the episode. How many takes did you make them do, Steve? Good luck on your burgeoning acting career

Can I be Frank for a sec... Scott Frank that is, because after reading this way cool
interview with him I realize my writing methods are similar, which to me is cool. I took a year to nail down my recent opus and a lot of people told me I spent too much time on it, that I should have done three scripts in that period of time. But, the people that told me this should look at themselves in the mirror and realize that maybe the reason they aren't selling or winning anything is because maybe, just maybe they rushed theirs out way too soon.

I especially love this part, here is a professional that takes his time so I don't feel so bad now.

                        Then, since writing is rewriting,
                        let's talk about your writing
                        process.  How many drafts does it
                        take to get to a first draft?


                        All rewrites?

                        All rewrites.

                        Over how much time?

                        I don't know, it's usually, off and
                        on, working on something for about
                        a year before I have a first draft.

                        How about "official" drafts, five
                        or fifteen?

                        Closer to fifteen.

                        How do you know you're finished?

              Scott smiles.

                        I'm never finished.
                        Let's start at the
                        open up page one, FADE IN:, you
                        write the first day, what's your
                        process after that?

                        I rewrite as I go.  I always
                        rewrite what I did yesterday to get
                        me into my work today.  I'll start
                        at the beginning sometimes and I'll
                        go through the script up to where
                        I'm at right now and then I work
                        for a while and add another brick.
                        Then, I'll go back and work on all
                        the other bricks, then I add
                        another brick.

Fade Out

Monday, October 24, 2005

One Of These Statements Is Not Like The Other


My Secret Musings (or her actual name The Real Me) tagged me to do this bit of nonsense. I list four statements. One of them is a LIE and you have to guess which one.

I am on Draft #3 of my script right now (no, the game hasn't started yet, this is the truth, so consider it a freebie warmup)

1. I am a diehard Rolling Stones fan, I eat, sleep, breath and _____ to all things Rolling Stones. I collect their stuff...I even collected my wife by meeting her in an official fanclub.

2. Elvis died on my birthday and each year since, I incorporate something Elvisian to my routine that day, be it fried peanutbutter sandwiches for breakfast, watch all of his movies on TNT naked on the couch, refusing to listen to anything but The King on streaming radio etc...

3. I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die..ok, too about, I was hired by one of the major motion studios to keep tabs on screenwriting blogs. To gather info on what movies people are liking, hating, cringing about remakes. Pass on certain blog writer's names that slag Hollywood writers, producers and executives because they ARE reading and want to know what is said about them behind their backs.

4. I learned how to drive on a 1950 Pontiac in the wilds of Northern Ontario, Canada.


Sunday, July 17, 2005

Baby Steps In The Playpen Or The Sandbox?


Yesterday I had my local screenwriter's group meeting, where a bunch of us knuckleheads shoot the shi... I mean breeze about our writing progress, process, and problems. We also discuss the latest films, ones we have viewed recently that stood out as being worthy of recommendation or the garbage we hold in our fists and yell at the poor sap behind the Blockbuster counter for our money back. Personally I find it instructive and enlightening hanging around fellow writers talking shop. Are any of you cats in writing groups? Tell me about your experiences and your merry bag of pranksters. Our group is called The Playpens Writing Group (which I recently discovered)and I hope you take the connotation as 'playwright and pen' not 'baby writer in diapers'... although after having my latest pages read, it made me think they were covered in ka-ka. Actually it wasn't as bad as baby poo... maybe seagull droppings on your shoulder as you stand outside the building stealing a smoke. Criticism can be hard to swallow, but if we can't take it from our peers, then how are we to handle a cigar chomping producer or saliva spitting agent in our faces, screaming 'this is utter shit pal, where did you learn to write, correspondence lessons from University of Pheonix?'We should all beg for honest critique. Of course our scripts are 'perfect'and only need minor tweaking (rolls eyes)but isn't it better to get as many opinions as possible? If you let 15 people read it and 13 of them say there is major flaws, doesn't that say something? And don't go say the 14th guy is a genius just like yourself and to hell with everyone. Q: How do you guys feel about letting others read your material in progress such as groups and friends? BTW, I am transfering the notes I got from my meeting yesterday as I found myself nodding more than once to some suggestions. My re-write should be a real page turner...