INT. OFFICE – EVENING

Our weary screenwriter sits at her L-shaped desk, her ever faithful cat, Bones, curled up on the floor near her. She opens up her laptop and starts up her MovieMagic screenwriting program.

She skims, only for a few seconds, the previous pages she’s written. Satisfied that she’s caught up, she cracks her knuckles, places her fingers on the keyboard like a pianist ready for rehearsal to start, and tap tap taps away.

Two pages later, she realizes – the opening is too long.

She pushes back from her laptop and leans back in her chair, stares at the last things she’s written, and decides…she must blog about it.

FADE OUT

Listen, we all know that writing is rewriting. I’m also aware that it’s probably not the best idea ever to rewrite as I go along. The more I look at this screenplay the more I realize…this opening doesn’t work. It just doesn’t. It’s taking way too long to get to the story. I’m at page 10, and I should be at the moment THE BIG THING happens that brings us into the premise.

I really have to decide at this moment. Scrap it and start over? Create a better outline? Or, do I keep going along and do what I’m supposed to do later which would be rewrite it to fix things?

 

 

 

 

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Casting…

Sometimes it seems as though roles taken on by actors were made especially for them. Marlon Brando in The Godfather, Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver, Geena Davis in Thelma and Louise, Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada, etc. etc. etc.

When I’m writing, it helps to imagine who I would cast in the roles of my screenplay. I don’t have any knowledge of the above actors being thought of by the screenwriter when the ideas came forth (The Godfather was a book, so I doubt it there. I don’t have enough off-hand knowledge of the others at this point in time to know otherwise).

I’m currently working on an LGBTQ rom-com. A story that’s been in my mind for quite some time (I’m pretty sure if we go to the way-back machine on this blog of mine you could find somewhere else I’ve spoken about it). What’s been incredibly helpful is casting it in my mind. Not every single character, mind you. Just the ones that are driving the A story and the B story.

The funny thing is, my main character for the B story stands out more vivid in my mind and it is going to help me so much in developing this characters voice and style within the story. I can only hope that one day I could have this person star in the future movie that I’m writing! I know I’ll never utter a word about who I’d want in the roles if and when I ever get the chance to pitch this script.

I can share these choices with you.

The leads:

A Story – Samira Wiley and Ellen Page

B Story – Kristen Wiig and Shiloh Fernandez

I have pictures of them saved in a folder that’s titled after this script. This way I can reference them from time to time to really fully imagine them. Wiig’s character is the one giving me the most as I can easily picture the character and her mannerisms in Wiig’s skin.

I could also easily see Wiig’s character running away with the story. So much so, that I’ve thought of re-working the original premise slightly to fit that character’s story. I’m just not so sure it’s 100% a great idea to that.

So, I’m going to plug away with the version in my head that is aching to get out!

 

 

 

Nasty Women (and Men and Kids)…

bus

Yesterday morning I woke up at 3am. I barely slept (though my fiancee will tell you I slept just fine). It was the kind of sleep you get as a kid Christmas Eve. You’re asleep but all of your senses are awake. The excitement and nervousness about what the next day will bring runs through your veins. My sister met us at our place before heading off for our Rallybus meetup that was to happen at 4:36am precisely.

Our bus was filled to capacity (maybe a seat or two was empty, but they were no-shows). It was dark and chilly out and most of us were half asleep as we settled into our seats to prepare for the 3-4 hour drive to D.C.

I don’t know what I was expecting when we arrived at RFK Stadium. I knew it was going to be a big event…but I had no idea it was going to be as big as it was. As our bus maneuvered through throngs of women, men, and children…many with their bright pink hand knitted “pussy” hats securely on their heads, I began to see just how big this was going to be.

just-arriving

This was just the crowd leaving the bus drop off! This wasn’t the throngs that flew in, or those who made the drive themselves, or those who took a metro in. This was just the tiniest portion of what we were about to be a part of. There’s something completely invigorating to see people joining together for the same cause…the same idea! There’s a certain truth about the energy one feels that can move between us when we are all of the same mind. It’s similar to the kind of energy I feel when sitting in a dark theatre embarking on the same journey with others. It’s a helluva a ride.

We continued to flow into the city, some chose to metro in from RFK. Some of us chose to walk the distance. We chose to walk. This ended up being a mistake in the end because it prevented us from arriving on the proper side of the stage where performers and speakers would rally all of us up with inspiring speeches and songs. Organizers did not inform of closed off areas so we moved sluggishly, like a herd of cattle, with no real direction of where we should go next. We just followed the flow until we started to see the flow coming back towards us due to another blockade. We were stuffed in tight, shuffling along, chests to backs, and shoulder to shoulder.

stuffed

Regardless of my intermittent  bouts with anxiety due to the amount of people and knowing I could not escape even if I had to, the experience was amazing.

After a few hours of fighting our way back towards the National Mall, we found some breathing room. It lasted about 20 minutes because then more and more people began to flood into the area.

so-many

After trying to figure out where we were to go, we eventually decided it was best to head out and look for lunch. Which we did. We live streamed the event and caught up on what was happening. We found out that way more people attended than was expected, hence the mass confusion and the inability to actually march. At one point they temporarily halted the march because there were so many people…they couldn’t move them to create a march!

nasty-womensolidaritymassive

The best part of all of this, of all these amazing people coming together, and all of us were tired, frustrated, hungry…not one arrest was made. There wasn’t a single report of any act of violence or destruction of property. Aside from some not understanding why we weren’t moving…most of us were happy and celebrating women of all walks of life. Wanting to fiercely protect what we have, what we may lose…for all women across the board.

The journey back to the bus was fairly uneventful. The Metro did a wonderful job with such a large influx of people.

going-home

A blurry pic, but you can see the large amount of us exiting the metro!

I had a lot to take away from this event. But, hands down, the best picture I took with my little iPhone was this:

equality

Our children are so important to protect in these uncertain times. We need to show them the way out of this is with love and compassion for our fellow human beings. It is to show them solidarity with those that are less fortunate than us. It is to teach them that regardless of their biological sex, gender-identity, sexual identification, race, religion, or socioeconomic status…they have value. They are loved. They are wanted. They are needed.

Then they will turn around and show that other child, the one that has been denied by their family for coming out as gay or transgender, they are perfect the way they are.

They will turn around and show that other child, the one that is being harassed for being anything but white or anything but Christian, that they are perfect the way they are.

They will speak up for someone being bullied, they’ll step in when they see someone being sexually assaulted. Why? Because they see the value in those who are told they aren’t worth anything but hate.

These future generations that sit on the shoulders of their mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and siblings… they will see from greater heights what it means to be part of a movement designed to empower the marginalized. To help our fellow citizens up when they need that hand. They’ll look them in the eye and say, “I see you.” Then work to make sure that person isn’t left behind.

These future generations will be built up with a strength and a confidence, about what is right and what is wrong, that hate simply cannot fight against.

INT. OFFICE – MORNING…NIGHT…AFTERNOON?

I always see little blurbs about writing habits. Habits like getting up early to write before the day really starts or staying up late, etc. I hear stories about successful scripts being written during breaks at work and I think… WHY can’t that be me?

I’ll tell you why. The one big thing holding me back. Well, maybe more than one thing.

I don’t have a habit. I don’t have discipline. That’s what 2017’s theme for me should be. DISCIPLINE. I need to be disciplined. I need to create a habit. I need to set aside a non-negotiable time to write. Perhaps even a daily non-negotiable set of pages that must be completed before I can say, “It’s time for bed.”

I need to look at writing this script as a part-time job. I have time to write…I’m just not utilizing it. I used to work a full-time gig, a part-time gig, and work on getting my degree online. I no longer work that part-time gig. I definitely have time. Soooooooo?

Here’s to committing to getting up at 7am and not hitting snooze. Here’s to firing up the keurig while I’m starting up the laptop by 7:03am. Here’s to sitting down in the beautiful office my fiancee helped make a reality by 7:05am. Here’s to writing the first pages of my new script starting tomorrow.

2017 – The Year of Committing to Disciplined Habits (if that makes any sense!)

 

Character Sketches…

So my current assignment with ScreenCraft is essentially a character sketch. Just fleshing out some backstory in order to create characters that are multidimensional. Nobody likes a flat character. If we want a solid story, then we need solid characters.

I don’t mind doing very brief character sketches…the type that reads like an old school AOL chatroom: ASL (for you youths out there this means Age, Sex, Location). I might describe a bit of how they might look and how they dress. I’ve never really gone beyond the surface of my characters. It’s served me well in the past.

What would happen if I pushed deeper than that? I’ve never really tried. I’ve never thought about what my characters’ parents would be like, or what school was like when they were younger. I’ve never wrote out what their favorite meals would be. Or their favorite movie.

Why wouldn’t I want to do this? To really bring these characters to life I would need to know these things. Instead, I go flat and allow them to present themselves to me as I write. Again, it’s served me well in the past. Yet, I wonder how much richer their dialogue might be if I really knew them. I wonder how much deeper their reactions to things I throw at them would be if I knew how they would react if they were someone in real life.

I know why I react to things certain ways because I know my backstory. I know why my fiancee reacts to things certain ways because I know her backstory. We should love our characters as we love the people in our lives. We know everything possible about those we love and we should apply that same way of thinking to our characters.

So, here’s to creating real backgrounds for my characters. Even the small players in the story. Here’s to knowing the details about our characters from scars to first heartbreak to education to favorite scent to…everything.

 

Writer’s Block

Ahhhhh, writer’s block. We’ve all been there and experienced that dreadful stall in our minds. It’s that feeling that you want to create and write and put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) but something stops you. It’s as if some invisible force, some wall, has come between you and the creative force you know you are! You stare, mindlessly, waiting for the wall to break…for those words to flow. Ten minutes passes. Nothing.

Twenty minutes passes and you find yourself surfing the internet. Hoping for some sort of piece of information to come across your e-travels to grease the wheels. Still nothing. Frustrated, you close your laptop (or cap your pen), and walk away…another wasted opportunity to knock some pages out.

It’s time we start looking at writer’s block in a different way. It’s not, at least for me, a LACK of ideas. It’s too many floating around in my mind. These ideas, these little fragments of scenes and characters and snippets of dialogue (some from the same script, others are new ideas who decided to try and rise to the top), swirl and swirl and eventually they block the pipe from my brain to the paper (or keyboard).

How can we make that work for us? How do we clear out our minds so that the flow can start back up again? If there’s a block in anything in our lives, then we usually have to find what’s blocking it and remove it. Right? Why aren’t we doing the same thing with writing?

Perhaps we start by picking out each of those ideas that are blocking our flow, one by one, and exploring them briefly. Did that first idea you filtered out start up the flow again? No? Filter out the next piece and work with that. How’s the flow now? A bit better but not a free flow yet? Keep going! Filter out every piece of information until eventually you’ve opened up that pipe again!

Eventually you’ll clean out enough of those blocks that the useful ideas will start to (hopefully) flow again from that creativity pipe in your mind.

So, find what’s blocking you and get it out. That way you can get to the good stuff that’s been pushed to the back,¬† just waiting to flow out and into the world you’ve created in your screenplay.