Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Speechless Campaign

SpeechlessWithoutWriters has launched an online video ad campaign that shows what movies and TV would be like were it not for the vital pens of writers. A lot of celebrities participated and most of the spots are really good.

My favorite, though, has to be this one from Ed Asner...

Damn, that guy can act!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Leopard Attack and TV Pilots

My Thanksgiving present arrived today. (I know...who the hell gets presents at Thanksgiving anyway?) My copy of OSX 10.5 (A.K.A. Leopard) landed on my desk so, like any other pathetic Mac-head, I'm installing it right away.

So far, everything seems to be chugging along happily as I write this from a nearby Windows PC. I've taken great care to back up everything, especially my photos and screenplays, the latter of which are also saved in my Gmail account.

On the screenwriting front, everything is going well. I'm set to work on a third round of rewrites over the holiday weekend. This should be the final big rewrite, with a spit and polish round to follow this one. After that, if all looks solid, I'll pass it around to some people for comments and any notes they feel like giving.

Then it's back to work on the BBC TV pilot. My plan is to simply write the pilot and synopses of some following episodes, just to give the reader an idea of the intended story direction.

That having been said, my question is this: What's the proper procedure for setting up a new TV drama pilot? Just the first episode? Should I write more full episodes? Should I include synopses?

If you've done a TV pilot, how'd the process go for you?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Surfing the Scribosphere

Andy Caughlan has put together a great (and pretty darned complete) list of screenwriting blogs at his site, Scribomatic. Everyone I can think of is there, including this little ol' blog.

Thanks, Andy!

(via Man Bytes Hollywood)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Studio Execs Explain It All

Just in case you were wondering what the writers are in such a tizzy about these days, why not let the studio execs themselves explain it to you.

That was easy. Doesn't it all make sense now?

Friday, November 09, 2007

Monday, November 05, 2007

Pencils Down.

Unless you're a writer who's been living under a rock, you already know that the WGA is striking.

If you're a normal person (living under a rock or not), you'll probably never know that the WGA is striking, because apparently the mainstream press doesn't think the story is sexy enough to make much of a deal about it.

Check out this video or this WGA document for a simple explanation of the main issue.

As a non-member who doesn't have any scripts ready to go out, I won't be affected for the time being. But that doesn't mean that I might not be affected in the future. What the guild is fighting for is a writer's fair share in a market that is changing and evolving to include streaming video, downloadable video, and other video delivery technologies that are drastically lowering the distribution costs, thereby raising profits. There is plenty of room for writers to participate in increased profits. In fact, a writer's residual payments are quite often their primary bread-and-butter, paying their mortgages and health insurance and supporting their families when between writing gigs.

While I'm geographically far away from being able to participate in the picket lines, I'd just like to voice my support and solidarity for the pro writers who are hit by this strike.

If I were there, I'd stop by, carry a sign and buy you all coffee and snacks.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Radio, Radio

Much like Cameron Crowe does while writing, I've been listening to a lot of music while working on Left of the Dial. Not just any old music, but a genre that's specific to the time period of the story: early 80's college radio.

For those of you who miss hearing bands like the Replacements, the DB's, X and R.E.M. (when they actually used to sound like R.E.M.) on your radio, you're in luck...

Check out Radio Hidebound.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I, Meme, Mine

Okay, folks. It's time for our first meme game on 120-Page Monster...

"Five Films I'm Ashamed To Say I Haven't Seen"

1. Casablanca
Yep. The big one. This one really gets to me. I try to avoid mentioning my ignorance about it, but I promise I'll get around to seeing it soon. Promise. Really.

2. The French Connection
Yeah, I know...killer car chase and cool grittiness. I don't know what I'm missing.

3. Chinatown
Again. I'll get to it. Oh, and tough luck about your nose, Jack...whatever happened to it.

4. Raging Bull
Someone apologize to Deniro for me.

5. Crash
I can't be the only person out there who hasn't see this, can I?

I guess I know what I'll be doing this weekend...

I've tagged Dave, Scott, Julie, Rod, and John...you're it!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Sea of Holes

So far, the rewrite of Left of the Dial is going pretty smoothly. It's truly amazing how, when you leave a story alone for a few weeks, the holes appear. Everywhere.

When I was outlining, I thought the flow of the story was pretty tight. One scene just logically moved to the next and so on. But looking at it now, I realize that my outline consisted merely of broad strokes, not the detail that comes as the script is written. And rewritten.

I must admit that before settling in to start the rewrite, I was pretty nervous about the whole affair. However, now that I'm into it, I've found the process to be extremely therapeutic. Like pulling and punching a mound of clay, working it into something that is hopefully approaching attractive. It must be the ex-English teacher in me, but it's surprisingly comforting for me to hack away at this thing, chopping out bad scenes and planting needed ones.

I'm hoping to be done with this initial rewrite by the end of next week, so we'll see how it goes.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Script Cops!

Their coming for you...* (thanks, John August!)

* Ironic misspelling intentional

Friday, October 12, 2007

Break Out The Red Pen

After a two week break from the Left of the Dial script, the rewrite starts today. I printed out the script and put it in a three-ring binder, dropped it in my bag and got onto the bus.

Before I opened it up to start, I decided that I need to approach the thing not as a writer, but solely as an editor. I told myself that it was written by someone else and it was my job to make corrections, story notes and brutally honest suggestions.

Kinda like a reader.

Admittedly, it's a bit difficult to distance myself, but when I can get into that mindset, it's really refreshing. I don't get protective or possessive about it. I just let the red pen do its job.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Tripping on Daisies

I just finished watching Pushing Daisies and I'm happy to say it absolutely exceeded my expectations. Visually, it's very Tim Burton-esque...a slightly odd but brightly colorful world. Kinda like a Claritin commercial on acid.

The story unfolds like a sort of magical fable, with allusions to both Sleeping Beauty and Forrest Gump, but with a bit of procedural crime drama thrown in.

In short, Ned, who runs a pie shop, has a remarkable gift. With a touch, he can resurrect the dead. However, as with any magical gift, there are stipulations. One, if he touches the person (or dog, or plant) again, they die again and cannot be brought back. Two, if he keeps them alive for more than one minute, they will remain alive (as long as he never touches them again). And three, if he chooses to keep someone alive past the 60-second mark, someone else has to die to take that person's place. With the help of a streetwise cop, Ned realizes the profitable potential of his ability. He awakens murder victims, asks who killed them, then after putting them back to "sleep", collects the reward.

It's this conundrum that creates the interesting relationship between Ned and his childhood sweetheart, Chuck. (Chuck is a girl, in case you were curious.) When Ned finds out that Chuck has been killed, he revives her with the initial purpose of reward money, but when they realize that they both still have feelings for one another, he decides to keep her alive past the minute mark, invariably causing the death of the nefarious funeral home director.

Ned and Chuck, though very much in love, can never touch. No kisses, hugs...nothing. But through some inspiringly clever writing, this limitation is overcome, at least emotionally.

The writing on this show is fantastic. There are too many cleverly crafted bits of dialogue and story turns to mention. I can't wait to see how future episodes play out. If tonight was any indication, consider me hooked.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Monday Night = TV Heaven

Welcome back, Heroes. It's so good to see you again looking so fit and ready for action. And thanks for bringing your new friends, Chuck and Journeyman. Now I don't have to touch the remote for a whole three hours...until 11:00 when I hit the power button.

...And then hit it again Wednesday night and switch it to ABC for Pushing Daisies. I'm really looking forward to this show. Great premise, interesting relationship between the male and female leads and enough eye candy to send Augustus Gloop into a diabetic coma.

Friday, September 28, 2007


It's done! I can't believe I've actually finished it. The first draft of Left of the Dial is DONE!

In the end, it clocked in at 86 pages - not quite the 110 I had in mind, but as I said before, I still have a rewrite or two to go.

Now, I just have to leave it alone and resist the urge to go back and mess with it during the next two weeks. After that, I'll start making notes for the first rewrite and see if I can make it better. Like Hemingway once said, "The first draft of anything is shit."

As for the next two weeks? My plan is to start outlining a dramatic series for BBC television. I guess that should keep me occupied.

@#$%ing Final Draft

This script has some curse words. A lot of curse words. One of the supporting characters is a punk, so he's gonna curse a bit. A group of punks trash a pizza shop, so you know they're gonna drop the f-bomb numerous times.

So far, the script is coming along great. In fact, I'm working on the final scene right now. But I had no idea that I'd have to corrupt someone in the process.

I'm talking about my copy of Final Draft. Out of the box, it doesn't know any dirty words. You have to teach it all the nastiness - it's kinda like hanging out in the junior high boy's bathroom, telling all the younger kids what the unmentionable words mean.

I wish the good folks at Final Draft would create some kind of dirty-word add-on downloadable so all you have to do is install it and - BAM! - instant filthiness.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Rockin' On...

I have a feeling I'm not going to make the 110-page mark on the Left of the Dial script. Not because I can't think of anything to write - the outline's handling that, thank you very much.

It's just that I don't think there's enough story there to make 110 pages. But a few things remain:

1. I have a few more scenes left to write.
2. I have to go back and work out a scene that I skipped over.
3. A couple of minor dialogue issues.

So, I'm expecting that by the time I finish the rewrite, it just might creep up to around 110 pages.

But does it have to be 110 pages? Well, that's the goal I've set for myself. And if you agree with the classic "a minute of screen time per page" estimate, then that's a pretty decent period of time for a first film. Most other films I'd lump it with average the same running time.

Ninety-something pages would be fine, but 110 pages is what I'm shooting for.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

And the Award for Best Chunk of Dialogue from a Meet-Cute Moment Goes To...

Jeff Garlin, for this brilliantly catchy piece of work from his film, I Want Someone To Eat Cheese With (trailer)...

Beth: Did you want some more ice cream?

James: No, I really gotta stop eating ice cream. I need to lose some weight.

Beth: Yeah, I used to be chubby when I was a little girl.

James: Yeah, but I'm not a little girl.

Beth: No, you're a big girl.

James: Big pretty girl.

Beth: Big pretty girl wanna go for a walk?

Now, I don't know if this bit was actually written by Garlin, or improvised by him and his co-star, Sarah Silverman, but I think it's the best part of a movie I haven't even seen yet.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Halfway Mark

I've finally hit the halfway mark on my first draft, and man, is it a great feeling. This thing is really shaping up, though I know it's only the first draft. I plan to let it sit for a couple of weeks after I'm done, after which it'll probably look completely stupid. But I don't care about that right now. A completed first draft is infinitely better than no draft at all.

My characters also seem to be shaping up as I write, which is probably good, since I only did a basic writeup of them before starting. But it's the outline that's literally saving my ass on this. If I didn't have the story worked out on paper, I'd never have gotten this far. The draft has veered away from the outline at some points, but overall I think it's for the better.

I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully it isn't an oncoming train.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Deathly Obstacles

(WARNING: If you're one of the two remaining people in the world who haven't read the final book, stop reading this now. Spoilers abound.)

I've finally finished the final book in the Harry Potter franchise and I have to admit, I'm a bit depressed. I'm going to miss these visits to Rowling's magical world.

I've really enjoyed the ride, from Harry's first year at Hogwarts to the final showdown with Voldemort. Rowling certainly knows how to spin a great yarn as well as construct a highly detailed and believable world around it. However, I think this last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, kept me glued to its pages considerably more than the others. Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed all the books. The characters and storylines have always been well done. But something about the story in this book was more exciting to me than the others, and I think I know why.

It's because Harry, Ron and Hermione don't actually get to Hogwarts until the very end of the book. Harry mentioned at the end of the sixth book that he wouldn't return to Hogwarts the next year so that he could spend the time searching for a way to defeat Voldemort. So, of course, Ron and Hermione had to come along.

This change in the traditional Potter story structure made all the difference to me. The three of them were literally babes in the woods, stripped of the security of Hogwarts. Sure, there were some exciting times at school, but there was always the presence of Dumbledore to protect them all and answer all their questions in the end.

Here, there's no shelter, no protection, and no Dumbledore. They have to fend for themselves (shoplifting under the invisibility cloak...although Hermione always leaves money behind) and now that Voldemort's returned and has his followers hunting Harry around every corner. Things happen fast and furious and everyone is tested to their limits. Quite a few people die, but this is war.

Reading this was a great screenwriting lesson for me. If you really want to create conflict and obstacles for your characters, take away their safety net. Drop them into a totally unfamiliar place and let them wiggle their way out of it. No one wants to see a character muddle through their blandly familiar surroundings as nothing out of the ordinary happens to them. Shake things up a bit.

And I defy any of you who have read The Deathly Hallows to tell me you didn't tear up in chapter 34.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Big in CZ

I don't know how the heck this happened, but apparently the folks at a movie listing site in the Czech Republic really like messing with cast lists. On their page for Super Mario Brothers, I've somehow made it to the top, showing up right behind Lance Henriksen.

After the hell that film put me through, this was a nice surprise.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Disorder of the Phoenix

I have to confess that until just a few weeks ago, I had only gotten as far as the fourth book in the Harry Potter series. My wife and eldest son, however, have long since finished the entire collection, including the seventh, The Deathly Hallows. So, since the latest movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, is based on the fifth book, I decided I'd better get cracking.

In the case of screen adaptations, personally, I prefer seeing the movie only after first reading the book. A few days back and forth to work on the bus, and I was done. I thought the story was much stronger than the previous four books, leaving me ready to see a very exciting movie.

Now, for the most part, the Harry Potter films have failed to disappoint me in their adherence to the structure of the books. And I'd hoped that this latest film would be no different. Although I also realized that there is a lot going on in the fifth book and the film would probably need to be a bit longer than the rest to fit it all in, my hope for a faithful adaptation was riding high.

Ah, the word adaptation...adapt..."to make something suitable for a new use or purpose; modify"


Yeah, they certainly did that alright. They adapted the crap out of it. I don't know what the deal was with the filmmakers wanting to shave down the longest book in the series to make the shortest film of the series. I would've gladly sat through thirty more minutes if it meant a more faithful rendition.

The worst part about this hack job was that, in the interest of brevity, a number of key things were either left out or altogether changed. For instance: (WARNING: MAJOR BOOK & FILM SPOILERS BELOW!)

1. Quidditch. There wasn't any. None! No one even mentioned it. Who the hell wants to see a Harry Potter film with no quidditch? In the book, Ron joins the team (and is horrible), Ginny joins the team (and is pretty good), and Harry gets banned for life from playing.

2. Cho. Yeah, she's Harry's love interest, but she's no snitch. At least not in the book.

3. Baby-Headed Death Eater. This scene was so freaking bizarre in the book and it's a shame it's not in the film. I really hope it shows up as a deleted scene on the DVD.

4. St. Mungo's. Personally, I thought the gang running into Neville and his parents in St. Mungo's (in the book) was much more powerful than Neville calmly saying to Harry, "You know, Voldemort screwed up my parents. 'Preciate it if you didn't mention it." And Kenneth Branagh could've had a great cameo.

5. Battles. Dumbledore kicks ass in his office. The kids put the beat down on the Death Eaters in the Ministry. And Harry goes nuts in Dumbledore's office like a rock star in a hotel room. Too bad none of it made it into the film.

Overall, the movie felt disjointed and the scenes seemed to be connected only by the editor's hand. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't horrible. It just could've been so much better with a little more screen time.

This raises a fundamental question in screenwriting and adaptations. Does the screenplay owe anything to the original material? Not a lick. It's an adaptation. A modification of the original work. So it's okay to take a few liberties. But this is an insanely popular story franchise we're talking about, so it's gotta be just right. The first few movies nailed it. This one should've, too.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Syd Field Podcast

Actually, it's not so much a podcast as it is a short series of short conversations with Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine) about the writing process, character development, plot turning points, and other interesting tidbits. These videos feature clips from Little Miss Sunshine and are quite insightful, mainly because Arndt speaks candidly about getting the script read, sold and being fired from the project (and subsequently rehired).

I'm not a huge fan of Syd, but I do wish he'd make some more of these.

Click here to grab the videos from iTunes.

Unfortunately, I've only been able to find it in iTunes. (There's also an audio version for all you nanos and shuffles out there.)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Kill Your Television!

I just can't turn it on anymore. Someone else in my house has to do it. It's usually the children or my wife. This works out logically since the cat is unable to push the button.

But I personally can't turn on my TV. Why?


No, I'm not being existential or esoteric. Reality on TV is sucking all the joy out of watching it. I remember a time when primetime meant great stories, action packed drama; even the mindless sitcom or two was entertaining. But now, flipping the switch gets me any of the following:

Game shows
These have just gotten ridiculous. I'm not talking about the "put a bunch of people in a house and the last one there gets the money" game shows (that's another category)...I'm talking about real game shows, on a stage in front of an audience with lots of flashing lights. And these aren't anything like the ones from back in the day, like Match Game or Hollywood Squares or the all-time boss of all game shows, Jeopardy. Here's the basic premise: Let's put an incredibly greedy/annoying/spastic moron on stage and put them through the emotional ringer while we raise the jackpot (and the stakes), making said moron convulse in fits of emotional agony. I think that sums up most of them.

(Un)Social Game Shows
Box up a bunch of people together with the same goal (i.e. to be hired/married/funny/thin/beautiful/whatever) and sit back and watch them fight over it. Survivor started this one and every incarnation of the basic idea gets more and more insipid.

Talent Shows
America's Idol Got Talent. If I wanted to watch a talent show, I'd visit my local junior high school.

Real Life Shows
Every goober with a camera phone, right there on my TV. People falling over the dog, the Christmas tree falling on grandma, grandma falling on the baby...

Let me know when the second season of Heroes starts. Until then, I'll be reading a book.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Character Descriptions in Two Lines

Ever been stuck trying to introduce a new character? Okay, maybe not. Especially if you tend to take an entire paragraph to do it. But I'm here to tell you that it can actually be done in just one short sentence.

Yep. Once sentence...Actually, two lines in this case.

How am I so sure about this? Well, The Nails told me so over twenty years ago. The song was 88 Lines About 44 Women and it's a great example of concise character descriptions. Check these out:

"Reno was a nameless girl
a geographic memory..."

"Jeannie had a nightclub walk
that made grown men feel underage..."

"Jackie was a rich punk rocker
silver spoon and a paper plate..."

"Sarah was a modern dancer
lean pristine transparency..."

You get the picture. Just two lines and you instantly get a feel for what each woman is like. All they need are ages and they're pretty much good to go.

For most screenplays, this is quite sufficient for an introduction. As the story continues, however, it's the characters' actions and dialogue that fully uncover the essence of their personalities.

Monday, July 09, 2007

A Real Page Churner

You gotta love public transportation.

You save on gas, it's less wear and tear on your car, and since someone else is doing the driving, there's plenty of time to kick back and read, listen to music...

...and write. And write. And write some more.

In fact, in the past three days, I've managed to churn out fourteen pages of my first draft. Not too bad, especially when you factor in a eight to five J-O-B and four kids who are all involved in some kind of extracurricular activity during the week.

According to my guesstimate, based on my current outline, I should be able to set the overall limit to 110 pages. A nice lean spec.

But as I've been writing, something freaky has happened. The characters are reorganizing the outline. I'll get halfway through a scene according to plan and it's as if they're saying, "No way, dude. I would never say it like that." or "Hell, no...I'm not doing that!" I've heard other writers talk about this happening, but I have to admit, it's kinda spooky when it actually happens to you.

Anyway, to celebrate making progress, I've included the ubiquitous writer's progress bar on the right. And yes, the title (for now) is Left of the Dial.

Look for various scene snippets in the near future.

(Progress bar courtesy of David Anaxagoras. Check out his fantastic blog!)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

I'm As Mad As Hell...

Why can't all TV news talking heads be more like this:

MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski refused to lead the news segment with the Paris Hilton jail release story. I completely agree with her statement and here's hoping more journalists (as well as those who think they're journalists) follow her lead.

Here's her explanation of what happened:

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Getting Traction

As a fellow writer, you know that getting those ideas on paper really makes you feel like a million bucks. That being said, I'm feeling pretty damn rich right about now. I've finally completed the outline for this story which, until recently, I've been messing around with only in my head. So far it looks pretty solid, but then again, I haven't set it aside for a few days to ferment and allow the nasty bits to rise to the top. Normally, I would think that the next step would be to write out the scenes on index cards and shuffle them around a bit. But I think I've done all the shuffling I can do for now in the outline. It really just needs to sit for a couple of days.

After that, my next planned step after double checking the outline again, is to start cranking out a first draft. Just writing it out, getting it on paper. I'm not really concerned with massive amounts of quality here. Just words on paper. I mean, I'll gut-check myself as I write, but not too much.

Now, one of my previous posts mentioned Alex Epstein's excellent advice about coming up with a story premise with a great hook, querying the logline to some people, and actually writing it only if it garners any interest.

And it is great advice. Just not for this script.

This script doesn't have one of those mind-bending hooks that makes studios go nuts and dream of merchandising offers. It's just a simple finding-your-true-self story.

But if it turns out the way I have in mind, it's a script that could be shot for next to nothing. No special effects. No exotic locations. No weapon or animal wranglers required. Just a simple character piece that takes place in a North Carolina college town.

The only thing I can see standing in the way of it getting produced is music rights. Let's just say there's a LOT of music in this story. Music that mostly isn't heard much anymore, but is recorded and owned by record labels nonetheless. But it's crucial to the story. In fact the story literally revolves around it.

This is exactly the issue faced by the recent DVD release of WKRP In Cincinnati's first season. There's a great scene in which Mr. Carlson walks in on Johnny zoning out listening to Pink Floyd's Dogs. Unfortunately, it was cut from the DVD release because of music rights issues. Damn, I love that show.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Crafty Writers Query First

I just finished reading Alex Epstein's book Crafty Screenwriting and I have to say it's very different from other screenwriting "bibles". First, he presents his advice from a real-world, this-is-what-works perspective. Thankfully he doesn't dwell too much on proper structure or voice-over hating or his own personal act break philosophies. It's more along the lines of "if there's only three things you remember about dialogue, it's this..." Of course, there are more than three things he talks about on the topic of dialogue, but you get the picture.

Lots of great basic knowledge there. But, the one thing that seemed unusual to me was his advice to come up with the story's hook and a tasty logline, send out query letters, then wait for responses.

But don't actually write the screenplay yet.

Instead, base your decision to write what you have in mind on the kind of response you get from your letters. If you didn't get any bites, it could be that your story idea isn't compelling enough, so why waste time writing something that doesn't gather any interest?

Now, I know this contradicts what most of us know of the screenwriting process. You write something, then try to sell it, right? But, my big question about this was how long is an agent or producer who has shown interest in your story idea going to wait for you to write the darned thing?

I asked Alex this and here's what he said.

When I sat back and thought about it, the advice sounded pretty logical. If they wanted to see it when you sent the query letter, they'll still want to see it when you're done writing it. In fact, they probably won't even remember responding to your query letter, so when you finish writing and tell them, "here's the script you requested on March 12th", they most likely won't bother to second-guess you.

So, I think I'll try this for a couple of ideas I've been knocking around. Maybe that's the acid test I need to know which story to start writing.

Be sure to check out Alex's excellent blog, Complications Ensue!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Creative Screenwriting Magazine Podcast

Creative Screenwriting Magazine's Senior Editor, Jeff Goldsmith, is the most likable guy I've never met.

In his (usually) weekly podcast, he kinda comes across as the college buddy you used to hang out and down a few cold ones with. And his laid back demeanor definitely rubs off on the writers, directors, writer/directors, and producers he hosts in CS's post-screening Q&A sessions.

Take the recent Luc Besson Q&A, for example. Now, I don't know if Luc is naturally this witty and hilarious, but he was an absolute riot during Jeff's interview with him. That episode alone is worth subscribing.

The podcast focuses on the writing process -- everything from getting the initial idea on paper, to polishing the final draft, to getting your script seen, and finally into production. Working screenwriters tell their own stories of how they got started, as well as the stumbles they've had along the way. And the magazine has even more great stuff!

Soon, Jeff will give listeners another great reason to subscribe to the podcast. According to a recent email from him:
"Keep an eye out for [magazine] subscription discounts - I'll have a code for podcasters - it's definitely a good way to get the magazine and much, much cheaper - I'll be announcing it soon."
Can't wait, Jeff. If you haven't subscribed to the free (yeah, free) podcast yet, subscribe now through iTunes so you don't miss out on the magazine discount. To make sure you get new episodes automagically, click on the "Subscribe" button when iTunes comes up.

Creative Screenwriting
really is a great magazine and podcast, so don't miss out!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

"Nothin' Could Be Finer..."

There's a new filmmaking blog in the scribosphere and it comes from our southerly neighbors in North Carolina. In case you didn't know, there's a lot of shooting going on down there - and I'm not just talking about hunting season. North Carolina is currently a hotbed of film production.

Believe me, I should know.

CarolinaFlicks features everything from local casting notices, to upcoming productions, to book reviews. Hell, they even publish their own free shot list manager software.

Check 'em out at www.carolinaflicks.com.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Where The !@#% Have You Been?

That's what my blog just said to me. Yep. Sure did.

Here's what's been going on:

Writing. Writing sample material. Writing assorted screenplay notes. Writing an industrial training film.

Filming. This year's Mother's Day gift has been seen by over 540 people so far. Lots of fun making that one and only the baby got messy.

La Vie En Rose. Damn, I really wanted to write that one. Such a great story.

Launching a Blog. Not mine...not another one. This one's enough. It's my wife's blog. It's an in-your-face, no-holes-barred discussion about homeschooling and basically saying "up yours" to the public school system. We've been homeschooling our children since the day each of them were born and all of us couldn't be happier. Of course, much of the general public just don't "get" homeschooling, as evidenced by crap films like The Brothers Solomon. I could go on about this, but that's for my wife's blog.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Best Shows (that were) on Television

I don't watch a lot of TV. In fact, most of what I watch is limited to news, CSI/Law & Order: Whatever and the rare peek at the underbelly of human existence on daytime chat shows. Apart from these and a few other choice pieces of programming (Lost, Heroes, House), there's really just not much that floats my boat on TV these days.

But some of the shows that were on TV...ahh. Now there's some quality storytelling. Too bad they're no longer around to grow and prosper like they used to.

Homicide: Life on the Street - This had to be the best crime drama on TV in a long, long time. Hell, the best show on TV period! Great well-developed characters put into always interesting situations. Granted, the steam started to run out when some of the cast did, but when it was hot, it was hot!

Arrested Development - The darling of critics and viewers; the red-headed stepchild of Fox. The funniest show I never saw (until it came to DVD).

The first couple of seasons of Law and Order (the original) - Grainy and edgy, it set the standard for procedural drama, but in the midst of getting slick and eventually switching out its entire cast, it lost its wonderfully gritty essence. Catch the first few seasons - pure gold.

Seinfeld - Hell, who isn't a Seinfeld fan? No new shows, but long live syndication!

Firefly - Every inch a great show. Fantastic writing.

Twin Peaks - This freak show was so good it still gives me the heebie-jeebies. In the words of Agent Cooper, "Damn fine!"

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Stress-Free Writer

C'mon...who're we kidding. Any creative writing endeavor is a breeding ground for stress and anxiety. Trying to fill that blank screen (or page for you typists out there) is sometimes so overwhelmingly daunting that you're left sitting and staring, your jaw slacked open, fingers drumming the desk to summon the Great Spirit of Writing to send you a sign.

More commonly known as "writer's block", this condition (much like the hiccups) has many reported cures. Personally, a walk around the block in really cold weather does wonders, but in case you don't have access to a block or cold weather, try some of the exercises at Language Is A Virus. Here are a few choice nuggets:
  • Using phrases relating to one subject or idea, write about another, pushing metaphor and simile as far as you can. For example, use science terms to write about childhood or philosophic language to describe a shirt.
  • Systematically derange the language: write a work consisting only of prepositional phrases, or, add a gerund to every line of an already existing work.
There are a lot of other goodies there, including some online writer's block toys (cut-up and slice-n-dice generators) and some insight from some of the greats. (mostly the Beats; Kerouac, Burroughs, Ginsberg, et al)

Check it out and free your mind!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Ten Rules for Suspense

Over at Thrillerwriters.org, Brian Garfield's ten rules for writing suspense fiction lay it all out for you. This is the list John Grisham credited with helping him craft his first bestseller, The Firm.

Here's a few to wet your whistle:
  • Start with action; explain it later.
  • Give the protagonist a personal stake.
  • Give the protagonist a tight time limit, and then shorten it.
These are excellent guidelines and a must for any writer -- novelist or screenwriter.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

This American Podcast

I know this is old news, but it gave me an excuse to post to my sorely neglected blog, so there ya go.

One of my favorite shows on NPR, This American Life, is now available as a podcast. Each week, the show features fantastic stories tied together by a common theme. And each week I listen, at least one of those stories makes me say to myself, "Wow! This would make a great movie!"

Check it out on iTunes!