Saturday, November 24, 2007

Story Mechanics

Alex Epstein has a great post today about story notes and the difference between getting them from readers and getting them from writers. Either it's a really good post or my history of restoring vintage Mustangs has skewed my opinion of his analogy.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Odd Woman Out

Strike supporter here. Bought a t-shirt. Signed the petition. Converted my blog pic. Added strike video. Follow the strike news every day. But I'm not doing this. Regardless of all the green friendly plans made by the masterminds, I see wasted dollars and anticipate crates of broken pencils delivered to strike captains. This doesn't feel like professional writers asking for fair treatment. It feels like teenagers toilet papering houses. Supporter/fan driven idea or not, I don't think it's a good one.

But just so there's no misunderstanding - while the pencil stunt does not have my support, the writers most certainly do.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Bingo is so LAME-O!

My friends, family, and readers of this post know that two cliches in dialogue that vex me more than others - that irritate, provocate, exasperate, and peeve me to the point of pulling my hair by the fistful - are "bingo" and any derivation of "I don't know you anymore".

These word piƱatas seem to show up in even good films. It's weird.

So, when I saw American Gangster last night (a good film but hard to follow initially) and heard the word "bingo" early on, I dug my nails in the chair and reminded my friend how much I loathe that cliche. But since this particular "bingo" had only been kind of casually thrown in, she said it wasn't THAT big of a deal, told me to chill, and we quickly got re-absorbed in Denzel.

And then... and then... It happened again!

This time, "bingo" was spat at us in exactly the "eureka!" way you would expect and we fell out of our chairs in uncontrollable hysterical laughter at the most inappropriate and un-funny moment possible in the entire film.

I'm really quite fortunate that movie theaters are too cheap to hire ushers these days.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Stung By a Thousand Bees

Ever been to one of those websites that lists bad analogies? Somebody always comes up with one about pain associated with being stung by bees. I'm not necessarily afraid of bees or even pain for that matter (mice are another story) but some time in my twenties, I figured out that I'm highly allergic to the venom of certain bees and all wasps.

Now, while the very SIGHT of a rodent may SEEM to create anaphylactic reactions in me, the biggest danger those buggers actually pose is to anyone between me and the nearest exit. Bee stings, however, are a legitimate health risk that range from a mild swelling and vomiting to a highly dangerous allergic reaction that could require emergency medical treatment.

When you get right down to it, ALL of us are allergic to bee stings to one degree or another or else the darn thing wouldn't hurt or turn red and swell after the initial puncture.

Point? None. Just felt like talking about myself before I tell you that Josh Friedman has a brilliant bee analogy on his blog today.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Blog Readability Test

As a writer willing to consider an objective evaluation of your skills, could you benefit from a computerized assessment of your command of the English language? Go here to find out what an internet widget says is the level of education required to understand your blog.

I'll wait.

Cue theme from Jeopardy.

Well? What it did it say? High School? Junior High? College?

According to that widget, no cap and gown are necessary to read my hallowed words but you had better at least be in college. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. In screenwriting, we want to keep things simple but that doesn't mean to dumb down for anyone. Of course, I don't know how reliable these things actually are either. This widget says my blog is rated PG-13.

You need parental guidance if you're under the age of 13 to come to my blog? Well, maybe that's because they need somebody who has been to college to read it to them!

Stupid widgets. Oh wait. I said "stupid". Can I use the S-word without getting rated R?

Friday, November 09, 2007

Bloody Rumors

Kind of thought I was done writing about the strike since I'm a nobody writer in no-placeville and there are quite enough people on the frontlines filling everyone in. But then there was this!

Come on, Variety, this article honestly feels like a scare tactic to me. OF COURSE London is abuzz! So is Luckenback, Texas! And seriously, are writers both professional and non-professional on the other side of the pond wondering anything different than we non-Guild writers are wondering right here in Hollywood's back yard? Okay maybe not RIGHT in the back yard but I'm in armadillo throwing distance.

None of us want to be scabs but we're all wondering how we would deal with that dream phone call *gasp* if it came from a studio at this point in time. We'd be forced to act like the professionals we hope to one day become and turn down our big break or be barred from the Guild in the future. EEEK! Who wants to make that choice? Integrity hurts. But no worries. It isn't gonna happen. So don't print stuff like that unless you've got stories about Martians impregnating movie stars to go along with it and a nice big paparazzi payroll.

Come on, Variety. Do you really think studios want to look like they'd rather go to Great Britain than the bargaining table this soon? You're better than that. People rely on Variety for genuine information, not tabloid journalism. That article is a new low and insulting on both sides of the negotiating table. Really. It's inflammatory and rabble rousing. And it worked! My rabble is roused!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Those Muddy Strike Waters

"You're watching this on the internet, a thing that pays us zero dollars" - this quote is from these writers from "The Office" and helps put the WGA writers' position into perspective for me. Maybe it will clear the waters for a few other people, too.

Admittedly, it's tough for many viewers to sympathize with a cause they don't understand, especially when they sit in front of their televisions and then hear that storytellers aren't going to tuck them in with another maddeningly confusing episode of "Lost" or when they hear hyped man-on-the-street remarks about selfish writers with Malibu homes motivated by greed and the need to buy matching his and her chocolate portraits from the Neiman Marcus fantasy Christmas catalog.

Yeah. That's what it's all about. Pfft. Oh, and Steve Carell has been unable to report to work for the following reason.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Musical Theme Meme

This meme is perfect for me because it blends the two things I love most (excluding the obvious kids and family, come on, people, give me a break) - music and writing. Can't even sing with the radio right now due to strep and worried about learning music for my Christmas engagements but am I going to take steroids? NO! I'm finally (very slowly thanks to cottage cheese and treadmill) shedding these pounds that made me blow up like Augustus Gloop so I'll just pop the antibiotics and leave it at that.

Where was I? Oh yeah, the meme!

Julie had to hunt down what the meme was all about so I'll plagiarize most of her explanation. IT's SO COOL! Find a song that inspires you to write something, whether it gives you an idea for a script or just puts you into a better frame of mind, peek into the lyrics and find a stanza that sums up the theme of whatever script you're working on. THEN, if you can find one, (and you can) post a video of the song to get people into the mood. Send the assignment to 5 other writers.

My current screenplay has a theme of self acceptance (funny coming from a lady killing herself to shed pounds) and my song comes from Ingrid Michaelson. I'm posting all the lyrics because they're just beautiful in their simple honesty.

If you are falling, then I would catch you
If you need a light, I'd find a match
Cuz I love the way you say good morning
And you take me the way I am

If you are chilly, here take my sweater
Your head is aching, I'll make it better
Cuz I love the way you call me baby
And you take me the way I am

I'd buy you Rogaine when you start losing all your air
And sew on patches to all you tear
Cuz I love you more than I could ever promise
And you take me the way I am.

And now, who to tag that won't hate me and knows I don't care whether they play along or not? ( you should, though, it's a good exercise) How about Lucy, Christina, Piers, Todd, and Dante?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

What the Strike Means to You

My son asked me last night what the strike means to him as a movie-goer. He's convinced that we're in for nothing but bad remakes. In the effects column, here's what says will happen when writers strike on Monday:
  1. Release of bad/unpolished/unfinished films.

  2. Stalled productions.

  3. Established writers scabbing.

  4. Unproduced/unestablished writers screwed.

I didn't say any of that to my eighteen year old when he asked me what the strike means to him. Instead, I relied on the "gee, that depends on how you look at it" answer - a skilled parent rephrase of "do you see a crystal ball in my hand?" designed to make it sound like I probably know something but would rather him figure it out for himself instead of sponging off my wisdom because how else is he going to become a man?

Don't judge me, people!

As a non-card carrying member of #4, however, I began a month or so ago converting my favorite screenplay into a novel -- ya know -- just in case and for those of you who are familiar with the poor quality of my prose writing (which is in the same category as my skill for peeing standing up), well this is not good news.

But a good screenplay can be like a detailed outline for a novel so we'll see what happens. I'll probably get fed up with my description of a cash register and go back to a partially completed screenwriting project. Or, maybe I'll bounce back and forth to keep from getting bored.

In reality, most of our newbie unproduced screenwriting careers won't be affected one way or another by the strike. We'll still be writing stuff nobody opts and few people read but we'll keep writing anyway because writing is not what we do, it's a product of who we are.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Strike Could Begin Monday?

At least that's what the WGA negotiating committee announced. According to an article in Variety, there's still a minute chance of re-launching the negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers over the weekend. But it's doubtful , given the "vitriolic rhetoric that's dominated in recent days".

Well, okay then.

I STILL don't have a grasp on the strike issues. Yeah, I'm ashamed. I've followed the trades as best I can (andCraig Mazin's blog even), but my head is shoved in the WGA toitie and I'm getting a strike info swirlie cuz people, I'm confused. Guess it's a good think I'm not an official pot sitter yet.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Brett isn't a Nicholl fellow. Can't find a press release from Greg Beal or AMPAS stating which of these 2007 Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting finalists are:

Julian Breece, Los Angeles, California, “Ball”
Amy Garcia, Manteca, California and Cecilia Contreras, Pleasanton, California, “Amelia Earhart and the Bologna Rainbow Highway”
Lisa M. Gold, Long Beach, California, “The Poker Wars”
Michael L. Hare, Moorpark, California, “The Fly Fisher”
Sidney King, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, “Kalona”
David Mango, Japan and Syracuse, New York, “Kissing a Suicide Bomber”
John Robert Marlow, Los Angeles, California, “Nano”
Brett Nicholson, Katy, Texas, “Queen of the Sky”
Andrew Pritzker, Kansas City, Missouri, “Sweet in the Saddle”
Andrew Shearer and Nicholas J. Sherman, Los Angeles, California, “Holy Irresistible”

Some are though and since all are finalists, congrats all around.