Monday, July 30, 2007

I Who Have Nothing

...but raw disappointment this year will be taking a little time off writing to work on some stuff I have to do professionally. When I get back to it, we'll take a look at successful films WITHOUT a romantic secondary story line or subplot and figure out what makes them work. Meanwhile, congratulations to the 254 quarterfinalists in the Don and Gee Nicholl Screenwriting fellowship. I am not one of you.

By way of explanation: Books arrived today from the University of North Texas for a three year program I need to take due to a technicality. I wouldn't mind except I've already graduated from this program and even assisted in teaching the program. But not retaking the entire three years is causing me a credibility problem at work. It's a long story but basically, this is pretty much graduate study material and is going to put serious demands on my time.

When it rains, it comes a stinkin' torrent. Will fit as much writing in as I can, but the job pays the electricity so this other thing has to be done. Meanwhile, I need film titles where there is NO ROMANTIC subplot. I'm making a list. Ready . . . GO!

And Todd, you realize, of course, this means no autographed shoes.


Matt Hader said...

You're still one of my favorite bloggers...Does that count for anything?

Rochelle Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rochelle Smith said...

Hi, MaryAn.

I know how you feel.

In 2005, a first draft of my historical drama finished in the top 15% of Nicholl entries. In 2006, a revised version of the same script finished in the top 6%, missing the quarterfinals by a lousy one percent (Greg Beal wrote me a note saying "I just missed, and that my script was in the next 50 after the quarterfinals").

This year, with (more or less) the exact same script, I failed to progress beyond the first read.

I am reminded at just how subjective these competitions can be.

Chin up -- maybe we'll run into each other in Austin this year. I'll be there with my brothers.



"Fall down seven times, stand up eight"

-Japanese Proverb

MaryAn Batchellor said...

Naturally, Matt!!!

Grats, Rochelle!!

David Anaxagoras said...

I can't imagine going through grad school all over again. I don't know the details of your situation, but it just doesn't sound right. I have nightmares like that, I really do.

As for the Nicholl, you don't need it. DO NOT let a contest decide your fate as a writer. Pick up the phone, call a production company and ask if you can pitch them your logline, then ask if you can send your script. Do the same with agencies. If your script is good enough to submit to the Nicholl, it's good enough to send out. Get busy.

Lucy said...

The very first comp I ever entered, I made it to the semi-finals. It wasn't even that good a draft. I must have entered about 20 since with much better screenplays (or so I thought) and only made it to the Quarter Finals of ONE other. Sometimes it doesn't make sense, don't take it personally. I firmly believe that certain scripts have "zeitgeists".

Hope your other stuff doesn't take up TOO much of your time - where am I going to get my Maryan fix???

Anonymous said...

I am truly sorry M... but I will still drink champagne from your stiletto pumps regardless of autograph or not... and in the words of the illustrious Mr. Hader "keep after it" and don't give it up (I mean blogging as much as writing)

MaryAn Batchellor said...

Thanks, guys. Life goes on. 4796 other people didn't make the cut either so I'm in mediocre company.

I don't know about pitching yet, David. Did that a couple of years ago with limited success in Bowfinger arenas. I love Indy films but I think I need to cope with this other snafu in my career that actually pays before I make any other plans. Besides, I'm not through pouting and licking my wounds. You don't make phone calls without your self esteem in tact. Let me build that back up before I get in the saddle again.

Heard other stories like that, Lucy. It's weird how these things work. The rewrite I entered this year did zip and I worked like a dog trying to make it perfect. Last year, it was top 10% and it was rushed and flawed. Go figure. Of course, all screeplays are flawed when you think about it...

I don't know how to balance writing, working, raising kids, studying, and attending classes (which require travel) but I'll try not to let the blog fade into oblivion like so many screenwriting blogs do.

Meanwhile, Austin Film Festival is in October. I am still planning on being there. Hope some of you guys are too!

Fook said...

Why are there so many bad scripts that get made into films and so many great scripts that sit on shelves?

Because it's not the best work that gets made, it's what gets SOLD that gets made.

To win a contest, a writer has to convince several people (in the case of Nicholl- up to seven different people) that their script is the best out of thousands.

To get a script produced, all one must do is convince one person- the person with the money- that your script is great and will return his/her investment plus profits.

This scenario explains why films like "Because I said so", "Preminition", "Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever" and anything with Kneau Reeves get made.

And honestly, the films that were made from the winning Nicholl scripts: i.e. Akeela and the Bee, Finding Forrester, Arlington Road, etc-- while nice, aren't really GREAT films anyway.

Chin up, although a contest win could be a shortcut to success- the best road to success is this:

1) Write something amazing
2) Find one person, or a group of people with money (see the Cohen brothers history), and convince them that this movie will get them to Hollywood.
3) Make the film

Good luck to all.

Dante Kleinberg said...

I keep a lot of lists. So I opened up the list of movies I saw in 2006 to see which didn't have romantic subplots. I must be remembering things wrong because it seems like a lot:

Hoodwinked, Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World, V for Vendetta, Inside Man, Little Miss Sunshine, Pan's Labyrinth, Letters From Iwo Jima

Not sure if any of these are helpful, or fit the concept you were going for.

Dante Kleinberg said...

Fook: Keanu Reeves is an easy target. You can always make fun of him because he did Bill & Ted. But between The Matrix, The Gift, The Watcher... even Constantine... you can't deny he's a talented actor. Also, in interviews, he seems genuinely nice and down to earth. He apparently won't even accept gift bags because they're "not his thing."

Fook said...

Dante: You aren't Kneau, are you? Yes, I can deny he's a "talented" actor. He's one dimensional.

The Lake House? Sweet November? The Devil's Advocate? Okay...


potdoll said...

having to go and do another three year stint at university sounds much worse than not making the comp.

good luck with that - hope it doesn't stop you from writing. or blogging. x

Grubber said...

Sorry to hear that Maryan. I hope you can study and write at least something when you can.

I know what it's like trying to work and write, let alone study, work and write. Teach the kids to type and dictate to them whilst you are cleaning :)

I love reading your blog but when you get back to writing more, feel free to abandon it to give you the time to write. Better to spend that time writing your spec script extravaganza.

Best of luck with it all, you deserve it.


esruel said...

Hi MaryAn
Sorry you didn't make the cut 'this time'. I know nothing of the significance of this fellowship, but feel sure it's their loss - just look at the popularity of this blog. Maybe other avenues will prove to be the best way. You'll make it. You will.
Keep writing; keep believing

oneslackmartian said...

Oh, girl, are you kidding me?

Let me put this in a parenthetical so you can’t hear it.


Cripes, now my ribs hurt.

Really, MA, you provide more humanity to the scribosphere than anyone. I’ve read your blog for a long time now. This is just a speed bump. I’m not even going to say it will make you stronger because it is just so obvi. If I were assembling a team of tough-nut, straight-shooting, thick-skinned, hyphenated-using hombres, you’d be at the top of the list. (Thars a compliment in there somewhere.)

Personally (I can’t even write about it on my blog because of the scrutiny), I’m battling the #2 politician in our state over a major educational issue. And the one thing that gives me solace before I face the beast is knowing that I’ve just worked on my action thriller or romcom. That life exists outside of this infantile (on his part, not mine) dispute.

Anyhow, Nicholl . . . let it go.

You know, we all love Crash Davis for hittin’ 247 dingers in Class A ball, but Nuke LaLoosh made it to the show. THE SHOW!

Remember . . . .

“If you pursue it, it eludes you.”


or maybe Annie Savoy

MaryAn Batchellor said...

Okay, okay, I'll autograph the shoes!!!!

Grubber said...

I only just realised, I suppose you are going to use this as an excuse to send Aquawoman into Development Hell so it wont be out by Xmas.

I knew you were never 100% behind that project, you were only in it for the designer shoes.

another good project down the drain.........

MaryAn Batchellor said...

Such negativity, my water logged friend! With enough sleep deprivation and legal addictive stimulants, anything is possible.

Grubber said...

Might need's Aquawoman, we all have to make sacrifices...except me...and well anyone but you...but it's a nice sentiment...bit like Bush and the defence forces...