Friday, April 27, 2007

But Craft is Fun!

(Click to enlarge image)

In the screenwriting class I just finished taking, my teacher introduced us to an aspect of craft known (to him, anyway) as "Emotional Resonance." Basically, it's a way of creatively giving insight into the feelings of the characters without coming right out and saying it. A great example can be found in the script for Casablanca. It's happens in the scene where Rick is first meeting Lazlo and reuniting with Ilsa. I don't remember the line, but it looks something like this:

(but why is he looking at Ilsa?)
Blah blah blah, poorly delivered line.

It actually does make a world of difference in a screenplay, but as it was the first time I was introduced to the technique, I...well, struggled with it. While I can't destroy buildings like my superhero counterpart, believe me, the frustration was definitely there. Enjoy!

One of the things that young artists have to realize is that they can't succeed in this industry alone. While just about everyone hears the terms "networking" and "connections," it's ambiguous what these actually mean.

The truth is, I don't really know either.

The League is based in New York (duh) and even though there are plenty of people working in and aspiring to work in the entertainment industry, they seem to be hidden in the woodwork, waiting till the rains come to wash them out.

I have no idea where I'm going with that.

The point might have been that you actually need to seek out like minds in this city. True, being actively involved in a lot of different things can bring you connections regardless (being an actor in New York and doing shows and films found in Backstage is a great way to do this), but as a writer, it's a little more difficult because your craft is so incredibly solitary.

But "network" you must. You must find the assistants, the upstarts, the people whose ambition meshes with yours and so I wish to mention one important, incredibly useful source:

It is exactly what it sounds like. It's a site that hosts communities of like minds whose goal is to MEET UP, to get together, to share ideas - to physically get bodies together in a room. The idea behind this site is nothing short of invaluable, and it's in every artist's best interest to make sure that it succeeds. So create your logos, get your business cards made, and start creating your own buzz among the people who will ultimately count most: your peers. The site and most groups are free to join. While there is a fee to form a group, there is nothing wrong with joining an already established crowd.

But naturally writers, while selling yourself, don't forget to keep writing.

(New York screenwriters! We're big fans of New York meetups, "NYC Screenwriters Meetup" and "SCENE NY Film and Media Industry Network." Check our links list for the pages of meetups we enjoy, and we just might see you there.)

Batman: Defenders of the OH MY GOD!

Arguably the single worst thing on the internet, there was no possible way I could NOT show this once it was brought to my attention.

Plus, apparently there's a whole superhero theme to this site. So I'm told.

And if you manage to make it to the end, check out this dude's blog. He gives a running commentary on the "film." Friggin brilliant.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Oh Mandy....

I wish this was some heartfelt, swooning post about a girl. That would probably mean that there was a girl in my life at this point in time who I was looking to have do more than just read my scripts. Alas, however, the only Mandy right now is, a site that a co-worker of mine directed me to today.

Mandy, or "the mand" as I'm going to call it, is an employment site for people specifically looking into careers in the television industry. Particularly, it helps people who are more interested in the production and technical aspects of it, though it does have postings for writers and office assistants wanted, as well. It's sort of like a glorified Craig's List employment section, as one can search by location and aspect of television entertainment. It's free to create an account and upload a resume, though I actually applied through the site without creating a profile first, which was a nice little time saver.

Many of the positions are for temporary employment. Though I searched for full-paying jobs --if you go to the site, you'll see that you an either search the part-time and low to no pay gigs or the full-salary positions-- most of them were still only for a few months long. Some of the gigs actually only last a day or two (has another opportunity to use "gigs" ever been more appropriate?).

But despite the short term aspect of most of the jobs, the site also offers some of the most interesting opportunities I've seen thus far in my increasingly extensive job search. Why, just a few hours ago, I applied to be an associate producer on a National Geographic special, to be a writer on what I can only imagine is a Middle-Eastern owned network called EbruTV in New Jersey, and an office assistant paying slave wages.

For anyone still looking for a job (and who isn't who is fresh out of college and pursuing a career in entertainment?), might be worth a search. And, by chance, if you know any cute girls between the ages of 18 and 26 named Mandy, be sure to direct them my way.

Edward Albee Article

The New York Times is running an article about Edward Albee that every writer should read. I know he's a playwright and all, but there are some writers that transcend mediums. He's one of them.

One Step Forward...

The New York Times had an awesome article in the Sunday Arts section about the new Broadway production, The Pirate Queen. It dealt with how the producers had to basically revamp the entire show after it got destroyed in a trial run in Chicago before arriving for its opening in New York...only to get...well, killed is too harsh, but perhaps mutilated by the critics works. I mean, let's face it, when words like uninspired and banal are used, in some cases in the same sentence, you may have a problem.

However, I bring all this up because the article focused on the producers and how they coped with having to make drastic changes to the show. Without giving away too much about the screenplay I'm currently working on, it would be fair to say that my premise is almost exactly that, only mine has the added flair that would, you know, make it worth being a movie.

The article was incredibly informative, and as I'm a graduate of the "only do as much research as you need to write a first draft, then do more later if you need to" school, reading it gave me some great things to consider and even a few ideas to immediately address some of my script's issues. Yay!

And yet there's that pesky task, which seems to have dragged out for at least the last month, of finishing my friggin rough draft. I'd been stuck over the weekend, and as most writers know, when you can't move forward, it's because your problem lies behind you. Needless to say, I wrote negative five pages yesterday. At this rate, I should be back to zero by mid-May.

(I'm frustrated. So there.)

Anyway, in tying up a few loose ends, there have been a few Spider-Man 3 reviews popping up here and there, most of them saying the same thing: the plot is stretched incredibly thin, the film seems to drag in places, many of the characters are hardly fleshed out, and yet the action sequences are incredible and at the end, everything is tied up and you feel...satisfied.

Given how ass-tastic X-Men 3 was, I suppose that's better than nothing.

(Of course, rumor has it that Spidey 3 cost almost 300 million dollars! 300 million?? Really? But then again, I saw figures that Sony stockpiled almost $1.6 billion on the first two films, so I guess they can do whatever the hell they want.)

Hopefully we'll have a short comic up by Friday. Expect part 3 of And So It Begins sometime next week.

Happy writing...

Best Scenes From "The Wicker Man"

Because everyone needs to understand that a man in a bear suit punching a woman is never, in any circumstance, anything but downright hilarious.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Happy Birthday Cake Man

It's belated, but we try our best...


To piggy-back off DOA's recent post, while the employment opportunities offered by the sites below are a great way to pick up extra cash and work on ever-valuable coverage skills, The League does not recommend actually paying money for feedback. Writer's groups and good screenwriting classes are the best way to get reliable, constructive feedback that is specific, helps you address the things you're struggling with, and that ultimately aids in the process of writing a script.

Hypocritical as it may be, this is still a great find, and writers with any experience writing coverage and giving formal feedback should definitely apply.

Write on...

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Page by Page, Final Product

Earlier this week I had a dream I could fly. It was pretty awesome because it was so authentic - I had very little control over it, and would fly up and down way too quickly, all accompanied by my fear of heights. The "controls," if you will, reminded me of the Peter Pan level in Kingdom Hearts, but was one of the best dreams ever.

My girlfriend has proposed that it could be some sort of sign and that I should go running down the street and jumping to see if I can, in fact, fly, but I've yet to do so. If anything superhuman develops, I'll be sure to let you know.

Needless to say, the rest of that day was completely shot - I spent most of the day thinking about the dream and, ultimately, wishing that it was a little (or a lot) more than just that.

I tend to get this way when an ideal situation, or one at least more interesting than a current set of circumstances, comes into light. This affects me in practical and impractical ways, but in regards to my writing, I've noticed that I'm looking forward to a day down the line when rough draft becomes fourth draft becomes the next project because...I don't know what.

I've heard people use a phrase that drives me insane: that they hate writing but love having written. To me, that's the dumbest thing in the world. If you hate writing, then why the hell are you doing it? I bring it up because I want to emphasize that I'm not in that group. I actually really enjoy the physical act of writing. It can be frustrating if what you're producing isn't any good, but in general, it's something I enjoy doing. Hence, that's why I actually, you know, do it.

However, there must be a relationship that purists and sell-outs alike acknowledge but don't ever talk about: that being the relationship between the work and the product. I imagine you don't hear much about it because it's something that has more layers than an onion. I've always found writing to be refreshing because it's always something you can be doing, as opposed to say, acting, where if you're not actively involved in a project well...then you can do some your room. Anyway.

Being something that takes so much time and, ultimately, so much effort, it seems ridiculous to write anything that you're either not planning on sharing with others, or not trying to sell. I feel like the moment that thought goes through my head, the joy of writing itself diminishes a bit, and yet, I'm not naive enough to think that the finished product...*sigh*...a.k.a. having written, isn't a gigantic part of the process that I am so dearly fond of.

Spinning around in circles, getting way too far ahead of myself, I ultimately come back to the task at hand - that act of writing and all the collaboration involved in rewriting (what else would you call sifting through all those notes but collaboration? Oh, hell? That too.) Progress is slow but steady, and unless they uncover some evidence to the contrary, Rome (to sound far too much like my father) wasn't built in a day.

But I bet if the Romans could fly...I bet they might have gotten close.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

My Own Version of the Same Story

*While there is so little to be said about the tragic events at Virginia Tech, my heartfelt prayers and wishes go out to the families and friends of the victims, and the entire VT community.*

(And since there's no way to not awkwardly transition...)

Hey Cake Man, nice title on your last post. Really...gripping.

I would like to give my own take on some of the themes that Cake Man brought up in his last post, namely motivation and discipline. Having been out of school for almost a year and a half more than him, I think I can offer a slightly different perspective and a bit of (probably meaningless) advice.

I double majored at NYU. I came in as a theater (acting, specifically) major, and after the first two years of the program, I suspected that I needed some kind of change seeing as I a). hit the largest wall in the history of man, b). was really, really sick of actors, and c). was really, really sick of acting. I'd taken a playwriting class with Daniel Goldfarb the spring of my second year, and, go figure, I really enjoyed it. I'd never written before that, but I found that I had moderate talent, and when I did the math, it didn't make a whole lot of sense to be paying as much money as I was for a degree with only one major. I took a shot and applied to double major, and I got it. Wee!

Deciding that graduating on time was a high priority, I loaded up in the summers and completed the dramatic writing program in two years. I waver in deciding if this was the best choice. I only skimmed the surface of what the department had to offer (Cake Man, for example, and everyone else in The League at the moment, did the program in the ideal four years), and the truth is that all that work in such a short amount of time left me horribly, horribly burnt out.

While Cake Man mentions that he hasn't written for months, it took me over a year to start writing again following graduation. I was half-heartedly pursuing acting during that time, but I wasn't even remotely motivated to write a thing. Was it just burn out? Did I seriously just need a break? Did I need time to forget everything the department taught me? Had I lost all my confidence?

Yes, yes, yes, and yes. Because of all of these factors and an overwhelming desire to just experience life for a while instead of trying to create it, I had no stories to tell. This can't be emphasized enough: laziness never came into play. There was just never a moment when I cared to write. It wasn't writer's block because there was nothing to be blocked. The well was dry. The jar was empty. The metaphors were used up.

But by late May of last year, a friend of mine sent me the first bit of a story he wanted to take turns writing, and so I wrote the next few paragraphs...then the next few, then the next few. Before it was all over, he wrote one more tiny paragraph of a story that ended up being almost sixty-five pages long. The story itself was simply awful, but it sparked the creative urge that led me to start writing again.

I don't suspect there was any rhyme or reason to it. The first bit he sent me did play to a lot of themes that were present in all my previous endeavors , so I found it easy to get lost in, but I think that writers have an innate inner clock that will eventually release an urge that can't be ignored.

If one believes this, however, then it's hard to call that motivation. Is it motivation when you're being forced to do something, even if only by some mystical force? Motivation itself is something incredibly personal. The reasons people write, create, make art, tell stories, shoot films are all different and vary from the tangible (money) to the mysterious (an odd mix of love and obligation). I'm no scholar of philosophy or anything, but it would seem that motivation, especially in the context of creating works of art, is closely connected to the ever-changing circumstances in one's life. Sitting on the couch playing video games will probably not beget motivation; however, my Saturday afternoons are not the issue here. On the other hand, my self-mockery seems to have illustrated my point fittingly.

If we piggy-back off the action-begets-motivation corollary, then stimulating those mystic urges to write would, in theory, be closely linked to actually writing. In other words, it demands a sense of discipline. A teacher of mine once said that if you do nothing else, write a page a day. If you do that (assuming you stay on one project), you can finish three screenplays, three plays, or a novel. In a year. It's a trap, too, because there are going to be days when you write more than one page. There will be days when you write 20. The key is forcing yourself to do it, and the key to that is to set the time aside.

In order to snap out of my current state of brain-fog, I've found that setting aside a specific 30 minutes every day to write - no matter how awful the pages turn out - has helped tremendously. It's hard working on computers because they're all connected to the internet and there is SO MUCH GARBAGE out there that seems so interesting, but once the web browser is closed and you actually begin writing, knowing that there is nothing you have to do for that half-hour, suddenly you're turning out half-decent pages that don't make you want to vomit, and suddenly 30 minutes turns to 45, turns into an hour.

And like magic, motivation just happens. As I've lamented, I've become very frustrated with my current script, but after setting aside this time for a week, I've found my motivation. I actually want to write.

The bottom line is that it's all deeply personal. If you feel like you need the time off, then you have to take it. But if you want to avoid it, but can't seem to find yourself to be motivated, set the time aside, and make yourself work. Remove your distractions. If the internet is too appealing, use pen and paper. If people are driving you nuts, go outside and be alone. Once the discipline begets the motivation, the distractions will go away on their own because, frankly, you won't care about anything else.

(So, with a great deal of sincerity...)

Write on...

Monday, April 16, 2007

It's an interesting thing, isn't it? The desire to make one's living by writing, and writing alone.

Since I've been out of school, which is about four months now, I really haven't done much writing to speak of. In fact, I've done almost as little as possible. Why? It wasn't a conscious effort, at least, not for most of the time. Yes, I did decide to take some time off after finishing school, but mostly to distance myself from the project I was working on at the time. But since then, I just haven't felt "motivated."

What is "motivated"? How should I make myself motivated when I'm not, or should I even bother. I sit down with my notebook or at my computer, and before I can help it, I find myself getting distracted, or doing something else before I'm even fully aware that I've given up writing. I keep telling myself that, "Tomorrow, I'll start writing," or, "I'll start after I sign a lease, or after the weekend" or any other number of things.

But the bottom line is: I'm wasting time. I'm not just procrastinating, which can involve doing other things in the mean time. I'm wasting time. Like it's something I have infinite amounts of. And quite frankly, I'm disgusted with myself for it. I understand that my time is limited. But that's not even the worst part of it. I go on or other such entertainment site, and I read about these actors making films at 18, tennis players winning tournaments at 19, that rare writer who sells a play or a script right out of college. And while I'm wasting my time, I'm also telling myself that "I'm going to sell my first script by the time I'm 23." My 22nd birthday was two days ago, and at this rate, there's not a chance I'm selling anything in the next 363 days.

Part of the problem I'm recognizing is that writing does not always feel as immediate to me as I wish it were. I have these visions of my movies and my plays, I see the action from my comic book ideas as though it were happening live in front of me. I know what the characters are saying, and I love to play up the emotional, heart-wrenching scenes. But to write it takes too long it seems. I've found my lack of patience to be disastrous, and confusing, if you consider that I seem to waste time as though I'd wait for anything.

So how do I motivate myself to write? Bottom line is: I don't. If I'm motivated, then great. Don't waste it any longer. Use it. Drop whatever I'm doing right then and there, and get to my computer, a notebook, a chalkboard, toilet paper and a pen if that's closest, and write. But if I'm not motivated, then I just have to sit down and write anyway. 362 days to go. Clock's ticking.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

And So It Begins, Part 2

(click to enlarge)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Preview of "And So It Begins: Part 2"

A mysterious swordsman...

...a man with the ability to control the dead...

...and Lokor and Cake Man...

...caught in the middle.

coming soon.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Box Office: Grindhouse, FTL

While I think there was plenty of hype regarding Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez' Grindhouse, which opened last Friday, it only grossed $11.6 mil - as opposed to the $20 million projected by producer Harvey Weinstein.

This should probably not come as much of a surprise seeing as it was Easter weekend. You know, bunnies and hidden eggs and candy and Jesus rising from the dead. You know, a traditionally family-gets-together kind of weekend. I question the choice of release date, as you can tell, but whether or not that was the sole cause of Grindhouse's box office futility is yet to be seen.

I've yet to see the movie, though I'm definitely intrigued. It's a bit difficult to set aside over three hours of your day for a movie, and while I think the days of the double feature are long gone, I really like the idea of putting these two films (Planet Terror and Death Proof, respectively) and these two directors together. Sometimes I suspect that the cultural act of seeing a movie has become something of an afterthought, like it's just something you'd put in with a laundry list of other activities, but this idea of an old fashioned double billing seems to attempt to make the movie itself the experience. The whole shebang. It would, literally, be your entire evening or afternoon. If nothing else, that I can appreciate.

The thing that caught my eye was a few initial quotes from Mr. Weinstein (probably way out of context) that made him come off as a bit arrogant and looking down upon the general movie public. One such quote from a report by Reuters:

"'What Robert and Quentin did was a very noble attempt to re-educate American cinema-goers as to what's good and what was great about seeing those old double bills,' Weinstein said. 'They tried and the story's not written in one week when you do something this bold.'"

Re-educate American cinema-goers? I'll agree wholeheartedly that audiences aren't exactly conditioned to sit in theaters for extended periods of time, seeing vintage-style movies that, while I'm sure they're very well done, probably rely heavily on nostalgia and camp. But then again, there's a reason those kinds of movies aren't actually produced anymore. And I doubt Mr. Weinstein has anyone but the lowliest intern reading those 180-page scripts that come into his office.

Anyway, like he said, the end result is yet to be seen. There has been some speculation that the films will be re-released individually. In which case, I'd expect the ticket sales to soar. But, again, we'll see.

The rest of the weekend shaped up like this:

1. Blades of Glory - $22.5 million
2. Meet the Robinsons - $16.7 million
3. Are We Done Yet - $14.2 million
4. Grindhouse - $11.6 million
5. The Reaping - $10 million

6-10, respectively: 300, Wild Hogs, Shooter, TMNT, and Firehouse Dog

Write on...

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Lost Art Of Pitching...Not Baseball

Pitch is actually quite impressive for such a little word. Look it up in on online dictionary (only kind of dictionary I’ve used for the last eight years) and you’ll get about twenty definitions. If you count urban slang then you’ll get about ten more, half of them probably British.

For the sake of clarity, I’m talking about pitching creative ideas. As aspiring screenwriters this is something that we will all have to do, and do well if we hope to sell our material. Old timers who have had experience in the industry tell me it’s a “lost art”. I always felt that term made it sound so mysterious, as if pitching as it was originally understood is buried somewhere next to Atlantis.

Pitching must be a lost art, because I’m not too good at it, and most screenwriters I know aren’t too good either. Sure, we can all convey our ideas, but it’s not the same as what those old timers talk about. They talk about going into a room and having a riveting conversation that turns strangers into family. By the ninetieth minute they’re on the edge of their seats and you’re on top of the table as you walk them through the same amazing experience the audience will have. Can people still do that? I know I can’t...not yet at least.

There was no doubt that my pitching muscle needed strengthening after what I would call my first official pitch session. All in all it went fairly well, but as the two men studied me for flaws I couldn’t escape that feeling that I wasn’t in control. It’s my pitch, my idea. I should be in total control, but their eyes, their gestures, and their comments began altering my idea and even how I felt about it. It’s a warm smothering feeling. I imagine it would be similar to making out with the facehugger from Alien.

I felt creatively stronger after the session, but I also realized that I still have a long way to go. In our world, pitching is an ability worthy enough to be a superpower. I hope writers aren’t passing up the opportunity to study this lost art.

Motherly Love

While I assure you that the conversation that influenced the comic was not nearly, annoying, while recently speaking to my mother, the questions regarding my life's current course inevitably came up. It's becoming a tradition as tried and true as the change of the seasons. The simple act of nature showing some kind of progress, albeit cyclical, is a reminder to those with something invested in my future to ask just what, exactly, my progress has been. I suppose blogging, drawing crappy comics, and writing movies is not quite the answer they're looking for, but then I could probably be rescuing babies from alligators in China and some naysayer would still find trouble with the fact that there was no ultimate point. It seems even the most heroic, even superheroes, are bound to this criticism.

So where then does that leave the indebted yet artistic twenty-somethings?

I shudder at the thought.

FYI: The 2nd part of "And So It Begins" will be posted this week. I'm not too sure there are people out there squirming with baited breath, but it never hurts to inflate one's importance.

Write On...

Friday, April 06, 2007

A Tribute to Lost Drafts, the Drafts of Drafts, and Other Such Variants

Last night I received a large helping of feedback on the first half of my current screenplay. I actually enjoy receiving feedback from a large number of people at once (eleven in this case) because it helps you determine what's working particularly well, and what, specifically, must be addressed. While I value individual criticism, it becomes much more valuable when two or three people share a common gripe. If red lights aren't going off by then, well, my stubbornness will be my downfall.

Unfortunately some of those common gripes regarded my protagonist. I knew when I sat down and started the actual script that I had failed to make some critical choices about his backstory, hoping that those things would become more clear as I progressed (things that would then be better addressed in a second draft); however, I hadn't as clear an idea that those vague impressions would lead to a lack of clarity regarding his objectives and stakes. Ouch.

Any screenwriter (...actually, any writer in general) would know that fixing that problem isn't terribly difficult. It simply requires me to make some concrete decisions, most of which I've already decided. The aforementioned "Ouch" comes into play, however, because the clarity that those decisions provides will ultimately change almost everything that I've already written.

Well, duh. Writing is a long process, one involving multiple rewrites - not polishes - and I am well aware of this. It's just that the pages I still have to write probably won't be the same either, and it's as though they're gone before I've even set them down.

I find something sad about the fate of drafts. In melodramatic fashion, I mourn the loss of scenes and moments that will never make it into important hands. I think fondly of the drafts of drafts - the pages and pages written before the actual pages became clear. Maybe it's laziness manifested in nostalgia, but how wonderful would it be if the ambition and excitement poured into that rough draft wasn't somehow dulled by the labor of subsequent revisions?

It's completely silly, I'll admit, but it's an odd feeling knowing that the pages I have yet to write have already lost a bit of their importance, even if it's due to the revelation of changes that will make the entire project that much better.

Write on...

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Without A Box

Editor's note: it took everything in the writer's power not to include any references to the end sequence in Se7en ("What's in the BOX??!!") or the SNL Digital Short, "Dick in a Box."

A fellow League member pointed me toward Withoutabox, which is an enormous online database of film festivals and screenplay competitions. This is a great resource for writers sans representation because the more people that see and recognize your work, the better chances that your script will fall into the right hands. Seeing as many agencies only take submissions based off recommendations, winning a few competitions with a kick-ass script certainly can't hurt.

(It may be common sense, but should be reiterated: make sure the work you submit is not a first draft, has been toiled over laboriously, is polished, and is the strongest representation of yourself. Nothing worse than a bad first impression...)

(Also, before submitting anything, please take the time to COPYRIGHT your work. You can do so with the US Copyright Office or even the WGA. You've worked hard on your screenplay. Take the extra steps to protect it. )

We're starting a links list here at League HQ - you'll find it in the right hand margin - linking to sites that are assets to writers. Hopefully it doesn't turn into the behemoth that is our list of labels (which I suppose defeats the purpose), but time, of course, will tell. If you have recommendations, pass them along! Leave comments or send an e-mail to

Write on...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Box Office: Will Ferrell, FTW

At the beginning of March, it looked like the last two weeks of the month would be surprisingly strong. Sure, 300 tore everything apart, but looking ahead, there was TMNT, Reign Over Me, Meet the Robinsons, and Blades of Glory.

"Wow," I thought to myself. "What a surprisingly strong-looking March!"

Well, then the past two weeks happened and Reign Over Me, Meet the Robinsons, and TMNT got demolished by the critics (I'll admit, by "the critics" I only mean the NY Times. I'm lazy like that), 300 and Wild Hogs stayed strong, and there ended up being more buzz about the trailers for summer blockbusters than the humble movies of March themselves.

The more things change...

Blades of Glory took the top spot this week, grossing a little over $33 million, and having seen it, I highly recommend it. If you're a fan of other Will Ferrel fare, you'll enjoy this one, despite the fact that it's not as strong as Anchorman, or even Talladega Nights.

Meet the Robinsons did fairly well, pulling in $25.1 million, and 300 fell to third, grossing another $11.4 million.

(TMNT, which took the box office gold last weekend, already dropped to #4)

You can read more in-depth coverage here.

On another note, when seeing Blades of Glory, I got to see trailers for Spider-Man 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, and Shrek 3. May the countdown to summer begin.

Also, don't try this at home kids.

Getting Away

A couple of months ago, I started taking a screenwriting course. I felt I could use a refresher, I was looking forward to writing with a deadline, and I wanted to root out a general sense of irresponsibility in my writing. It's something I didn't realize at the time, but I wrote as though I was someone who didn't have to care about the end result. In a way, I didn't.

Thus far, and with only a month left to go, I've received from the class all those things. One thing that has struck me though, one thing that I didn't expect, is how much my writing has changed since the last time I took it seriously, almost two years ago, around the time I graduated from college. It comes off as subtle, I'm sure, and to use a cliche, I think it's clear that I've matured as a writer. Example? Well, two years ago, it was difficult for me to inject comedy into my work. It would always pop up as a backlash, as a way to stick it to the faculty and students that didn't appreciate the weight of my drama. Now it seems I've come to understand the world (maybe?) as comedic, if only in the Checkhovian sense. There's also an appreciation and humanity toward my characters that has made them much more three dimensional than I could have managed while in the halls of the DDW.

I got to wondering what exactly might have caused this change, and I don't have any kind of concrete answer. Time? Growing up? The break I took from writing? Maybe. When I was studying acting, there was a scene study class where I got into a verbal altercation with my teacher. She was giving me notes, I was stating my case, we each had monumental egos, and we weren't listening to each other at all. Needless to say, we ended up apologizing to each other the next day, but she left with an odd note: she mentioned that I walked the halls of the studio like I was a 40-year old. She left it purposefully vague, but I'm sure I drew from it what she was suggesting - namely, that I was acting more mature than I was, and that I was putting too much pressure on myself.

I bring up this story (and there are plenty more like this) because the difference between faux maturity and the real thing is staggering. For me, the real thing, ironically, required a certain amount of immaturity, which, in turn, helped me open up and...well, relax. Of course, actually growing up and struggling since entering the real world has helped me not give a crap about the things I thought were so important for the past three or four years. I take pictures to frame the memories of my life, like I'm shooting my own movie, but the images themselves have changed, and it's helped my writing in ways that could never have been learned in a classroom.

...I just had to be in a classroom to realize that.


I was in Connecticut this weekend with some friends from college - an old group of us that date back to the first days of living in New York. We were there to see Video Games Live, which is an orchestrated concert of video game music, and while I suspect this was something I would have eaten up a few years ago, while flipping through the pictures I took of the weekend, the images of the concert meant the least to me. In fact, the concert itself was silly, disappointing, and nothing more than a masturbation vehicle for co-founder Tommy Tallarico. Seriously. Playing an electric guitar during "One Winged Angel?" Gimme a break.

The thing that stands out the most from the weekend wasn't that concert, nor my personal satisfaction with getting to play a Wii again (which we all did, in earnest), but rather being there with my old friends. The best part? Taking walks, eating dinner -- the human aspects of the trip that weren't the intention, but instead were the result.

It makes me wonder what parts of myself were honest. I was gamer, I guess, but never hardcore. What does it say about oneself when the things that used to be exciting are exceptionally bland? It just seems that I've lost more and more interest in my past these days, which, I propose, is ultimately a good thing. However, in this age of instant nostalgia, it can be a little sickening.

Yet, mix all that with optimism for the future. There are visible signs of growth, and at least I'm dealing with nostalgia and a desire to shift focus rather than a crippling fear of change. After all, as I've seen with my writing, I'm able to do things now that I never could in the past. I feel like I live life more fully and can express and share things that might not have been possible. There's a strange relationship brewing between the stories I want to tell and the way I go about my day. I've written how the status of my current projects affects the way I behave, but I'm understanding that it's a relationship that goes much deeper and works both ways.

In other words, I'm not thinking of it anymore as a debilitation. If nothing else, and for lack of a better word, I'm starting to think of it as a strength.

Write on...

Sunday, April 01, 2007


I was in the car the other day (on my way back from court, but that's a whole other issue and does not really belong here, at least not in this post) and was listening to some music on my drive. I had the good fortune of having three songs play in a row that had a kind of theme to them. They were "angry" songs, not necessarily bleeding heart songs about lost loves or blood vengeances, but hard rock/heavy metal songs that got my heart pumping and psyched me up. If I wasn't in a car, but rather in a bar, I'd have been tempted to smash a bottle on the counter and start a fight (a testament to my mental state, I'm sure).

But the point is this: it made me want to write. It made me want to be angry, to be out for blood, to be able to punch through walls and not even blink when I take on twenty opponents. In short, it made me want to be the protagonist of an action/comic book script I had worked on earlier, and not thought about revisiting up until that very moment.

(Interestingly, I knew that I would probably never be that guy who could walk into a bar filled with huge guys and hold his own in a fight. I never expect to be in the middle of a firefight or battling for my life. That is why I write. I find every day life to be rather dull and uneventful. The things that I worry about are rather banal and unimportant in the long run. I know that I am very privileged to think of life that way. I am not living in a war-torn country where militias raid my town daily. I am not dying of starvation. I have the luxury of watching movies and fantasizing about what it would be like to live those lives, to be that guy. And for that, I am grateful. But I am also restless. That is why I write, and why, I believe, most writers do. We have our demons, and many of those come from our comfort.)

It is amazing what music can do. The right songs, no matter the subject, can put me (and many other writers) in the optimum mindset for writing the very kind of scene or movie they want to do. I've often found that it's best to listen to soundtrack for pre-existing movies, because those films that I own soundtracks to are generally well made, award winning films -not because I'm a snob, but because those are the films that have moved me so much that I wanted to own the music, as well as the films themselves. It is amazing what music can do, and when you're not in the mood to write, don't be surprised if you find yourself heading for your desk after listening to a few relevant songs.