Thursday, November 14, 2013

Life's Big Left Turn at Albuquerque

One of the screenwriting forums I'm on asked "Why do YOU write movies?" It got me writing about why I made the turn from wanting to be an actress to wanting to be a screenwriter. I'm going to copy and paste my answer here.

"Why do I write movies? The simple answer is I'm a frustrated actress who has discovered that she likes to tell everyone's story instead of just one character's.

The long answer has to do with advice I got my senior year in college from my acting professor. She said to "You might want to consider some other part of this glorious thing we call theater other than acting." At the time it hurt (and to be honest, it still hurts) because I had dreamed of being an actress, particularly a movie actress, since I was in fourth grade. So for the prior eleven years, I had focused on that goal, taking all the drama classes I could even though I didn't get cast in many roles and certainly never in the lead. (I'm not pretty enough and always has been on the generously padded side.)

I finished the theater degree (this advice came during finals week fall semester senior year and I had already signed up for the spring one) and became a full time housewife. (I had married just before my sophomore year.) I moped and did the housewife thing with no interest in pursuing a career in movies for three years. Then there came a movie that captured my imagination and caused me to start writing what amounted to fan fiction. That movie- Pirates of the Caribbean- Curse of the Black Pearl.(Terry, I owe you and Ted a creative debt I can never repay. You guys and this site have inspired me to find a way back into the industry I always wanted to be a part of.)

Not long after that I started writing original scripts and spec episodes of tv shows I like. I realized that I had always made up stories in my head and now I could get them down on paper and someone else might actually get to read them. I have sold any, yet, but I have entered some contests and placed some on script boards for comment. So other people have read my scripts. Someday it will be people who want to make them into films.

I have realized what makes me a lousy actress is that while I don't care what an audience or the general public think of me but I do care what my fellow cast mates and friends think. That always hampered me from making the choices I needed to in order to fully inhabit my characters.

So the type of movies I write are movies I want to see. My taste is eclectic so I have a western, a couple rom-coms (I'm a sappy romantic at heart), a time traveling drama, a Steampunk adventure, and have a black comedy in the works."

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

If I Could Turn Back Time

"In an effort to avoid a mountain of paperwork, two Heavenly office workers send a recently deceased librarian back in time to try to prevent the school shooting that killed her."

So I finished the script in 3 weeks with 87 pages. I then spent the next week or so struggling to get it to 90 pages. Once I hit the magic 90 (most contests and such like won't take a script shorter than 90 pages or longer than 120) I put it up for review on the Zeotrope Virtual Studio. I then tried to promote it on that forum. Apparently I am an evil woman who likes mass murder because I dared to call it a comedy about a school shooting. It might not be funny to everyone else but it has a more lighthearted tone than you think while dealing with the actual shootings serriously. The people who said I shouldn't have even tried to write a comedy about such a thing didn't read it or stopped 33 pages in.

I have had two reviews and those scores are good enough that if I get two more like them the script goes into a database for producers at American Zeotrope and else where to read through. One reviewer didn't like my subject matter but thought I was a talented writer.

I've also had a couple friends read it and give feedback. One is a local independant film director and he had some real good suggestions on how to improve it but overall he liked it. He also called me a talented writer.

Overall I'm feeling positive about this script and my writing in general. I feel like I might actually be able to do this and make a career out of it. It would be great to make my revised dreams come true. (The original dream career and why I'm not chasing that one is an entirely sepperate blog post for some other day when I've imbibed some tasty adult beverages. It is too painful to talk about very much sober.)

I'm making the changes to make it better and it will be submitted the Nicholl Fellowship competition this year. I will probably query some production companies/ management companies with it too. Wish me luck/ pray for the script to find the right hands who know what to do with it.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

not another new script

What is it about getting halfway through one script that causes a fully formed idea for another to come bursting into my head? This one sort of scares me but it actually says something important that I think needs to be said today. It deals with school bullying and school shootings, but the weird thing is that it is trying to be a comedy. What the hell? I'm not sure how this will be recieved if it ever sees the light of day. I guess I'm going for the Mel Brooks theory of if you can't laugh at the evil then the evil has won by making the topic too sacred.

I didn't enjoy high school and this will touch on those topics. I've always said I don't agree with those who shot up their schools but I understood where they were coming from. I was in college during the times of the shootings at Springfield and Columnbine happened. So I was close enough in age to remember being the loner in high school and not feeling like I was accepted by the in crowd to understand.

Anyway i need to get back to writing but thought I'd put this out there.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Writing update

So I need to do a rewrite on The Zephyr Adventure (this would make a third draft of the script for those keeping track). I need to do more to motivate my villain and add some conflict.

But in the mean time, I've reserected a script that I had written 8 pages on and then let sit on the hard drive. I am now up to page 45 and still only about half done with the plot. This is a new thing for me. I usually get to page 60 and run out of basic plot so I go back and add filler. I might not have to do much filling with this one. It's a fluffy rom-com. I like writing fluffy stuff.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I'm thinking of

repurposing this blog to also post excerpts of current stories or posting them as serrials here. I might still occaissionally blathering about writing here too.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Rewriting Yet Again

A couple weeks ago I fianlly got some feedback from a professional screenwriter on "A Happy Reunion" via a phone call. She said some nice things about the script and it's possibilities as a comercially viablity. But there were two things that needed changing. To a degree I agree with her.
1. My voice over narration was good and funny. So much so that she wanted to see it and not hear it. Ok. That is a nice compliment but how to go about doing that? I think I can show the first and last ones with no problem but the one that trips me up is:

How was I going to explain this one to my Mother? Elizabeth Crawley Mcgill had never done an impulsive thing in her life. She had only dated my Dad after they had known each other all through high school. They dated for exactly half of college before getting engaged and planning for the perfect wedding a couple months after graduation. Then my brother and I were born exactly eighteen months a part. Optimal spacing for children my Mother always said.

A montage of the past of Beth McGill? Get rid of it entirely? The problem is that this sets up the character of BETH as we meet her in the very next scene. Also it sets up ROB, Liza's dad, when we meet him almost 30 pages later.

2. A Happy Reunion is a rom-com about a couple who go to their 15 year high school reunion in Vegas, get drunk and married. So currently Ihave them waking up the morning after and rationally discussing staying married and they decide that is what they are going to do. While this would be great for real life it doesn't work for a dramatic story. There needs to be more conflict to over come. (The note giver said that right now these characters would make terrific people to be friends with but are boring to watch on screen.) So I'm changing it to they haven't figured out what to do yet at the end of the weekend but Liza is going to talk to an attorney friend and see their options. But this change dominoes through the next 30 pages as right now it is all about them adjusting to their strange bi-city marriage (She's in LA He's in San Fran). Now I have to figure out how to do this we're thinking of spliting up but somehow we won't thing. (Yes, even in the original Liza turns up pregnant and they work things out for the kid.)

Anyway those are the writing thinky thoughts I'm currently pondering.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

More Rewrites

So once again I find myself working on rewrites. Not for "A Happy Reunion" this time but the feature after that "You Belong With Me." Yes, it is a rom-com. I started it as a 3-5 page scene for a contest in the middle of April and managed to write 56 pages of it before the end of April and finished it by the 20th of May.

This process of writing again what you've already written sucks. I know it will be a better script when I finally get around to making the changes, but it still sucks. I guess when I reach FADE OUT. and the magic over 90 pages I'm done living with the characters and story and I just want to move to the next project. Because you know I've got at least one projects idea I'm itching to start. I like to write small (full episodes in 40 pages instead of 50-54) so seeing 90+ pages is an accomplishment I want to celebrate. Last thing I want is to hear "You need more here to explain her/his motivation." I know I need it and this isn't complaining about the people who read and give me notes. I appreciate those people and notes. I need them to know where I've failed completely or just need tweaking. But fixing those things- I have no motivation.

I guess that's what this post is about. Finding motivation to end the procrastination and make those changes. Sure there are screenwriting contests with deadlines approaching and "writers have been known to complete things when deadlines loom "(from the FAQ of the Nicholl Fellowship of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.) But I need more motivation. When I find the secret I'll let y'all know.