Wednesday, April 30, 2008
LoKor, after being there in the beginning and helping to create The League, has left the group. While I won't go into much detail on why here, as I'm sure if he wants to, he will do so, I will say that he has gone on to pursue something else, career-wise, which he is much more invested in at the moment. Though those of us still in the League do not want to give up trying to write professionally, we understand that one's heart must be in it 100% to do that. LoKor's just wasn't anymore, and we, as his friends and fellow Leaguers, understood that.
LoKor, we'll avenge you if it's the last thing we do. Writers Block will pay for this!
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
Another thing that hit me was how my approach and my superstitions while writing change from project to project. Usually, I outline. This time, I didn’t. I used to only write to music. I spent the post-apocalyptic project writing in silence, yet made sure to have tunes going for Screenplay X. (What’s most odd for X is that I didn’t always opt to listen to music that set the mood. In fact, the first few days of writing, I chose music that was the antithesis to the tone I was setting in the pages, because it was so dark, I felt this compulsion to make sure I didn’t lose myself in the darkness. Having upbeat music playing neutralized my emotions, which might sound very odd for a writer. I was still so deeply engrossed in the feel of the pages, but the music allowed me the door through which I could pull out when things got too heavy.)
The biggest difference, though, is that I haven’t told anyone in the group about this. I’m excited to get the pages out to them, but want to hold off until I tweak the scenes I mentioned above.
The biggest similarity? The schedule. Though I took to writing in the morning, rather than waiting until I got home from work each night (which has been a HUGE help), I still put in my hour a day. That precious hour is one thing I do not plan to change from project to project.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
When you're hot, you're hot, and lately I've been on fire. I don't mean to toot my own horn, but I'm just in the kind of groove where there's always a great scene waiting to be written. Beyond the scenes there's another script, itching to be realized. Since moving offices a few months ago (I do my work at work...after work), I have been enjoying the healthiest writing lifestyle of my life. I often wondered as to what might derail me. Would I wake up one day and find that all of the fingers on each hand had been fused into two annoyingly large fingers? Would the world come to an end? Would it be the ninjas? (Cake Man knows) No, none of the above. Instead, I'm brought to my knees by pollen, nature's sperm.
Oh how I hate allergy season, nature's coordinated ejaculation onto mankind. There's no escaping it. It's the one discharge that gets a little bit on everyone.... Anyway, my eyes have been bested by this foul substance. Even as I sit here, typing this post, it would be virtually impossible to stare at the computer screen if it were not for a double dose of benadryl. Oh benadryl, my pill shaped savior, but I will sing your praise later because you make me sleepy. And so I am either sleepy and mildly productive, or in agonizing discomfort and mildly productive. In a job where I can easily spend six hours a day staring into a computer, my eyes just don't have it in them to press on for an additional two hours. Everyone keeps telling me to rest. I say, spoken like true commoners. A writing groove must not end by choice! It must continue on, the writer taking advantage of every glorious page before his well runs dry. And so I sally forth and write on, riding a hybird steed of benadryl, claritin, mucin eye drops for tired eyes, and bausch and lomb allergy eye drops. It all makes me look and feel like a crackhead, but at least the pages will keep coming.
Friday, April 25, 2008
On Wednesday our Cake-loving member received Cloverfield from Netflix, which we came home and watched after a League business meeting/pizza outing. It was a lot better than I'd thought it would be going in, as I hadn't heard anyone say a nice thing about it besides fellow Leaguer Onyx. In the end, there were too many points where the characters grated on me or their actions didn't follow any sort of logic to keep me from really loving it, but I can't say I wasn't entertained for 80 minutes.
The movie really made me think of a Blair Witch Project with a much bigger budget. I'll come clean: I'm a big Blair Witch Project fan, and still feel the movie doesn't receive the credit it deserves. Even taking the low-budget blockbuster and insane grassroots marketing phenomena away, it succeeds as a creepy, disturbing horror film.
In high school (back when I was younger and a bit more naive) I shot a Blair Witch parody with some friends. We edited straight on VHS and filmed it all in one weekend in the woods behind my house. My memory is a bit foggy, but I believe we were searching for Joan of Arc, rather than a witch. We ended up handing it in, in lieu of a paper for history class. I got a B, which was nice enough.
Coincidentally, a lengthy, insightful look back at The Blair Witch Project from The Onion AV Club's Scott Tobias was just posted here this morning. It's a great read, even if you're not a fan of the movie - it expresses a lot of the same feelings I have about it, nearly ten years later.
Ten years? I'm feeling old.
I'm the newest member of the League of Screenwriters + 1 TV writer, and so I just wanted to say, "What are you eating for lunch today?" (I had matzah, fucking passover)
My current status is at work, wavering between eating that piece of cake or chewing a piece of gum. My advice to anyone who is about to graduate -- get a job where you have the freedom to write at it.
I spend 8 our of my 9 hours a day entertaining myself with my own words. Does that make me selfish? Probably. But otherwise I could collect dust, and my coworkers' allergies would act up when they walked by me.
All right League members, Happy Friday! And remember to stay smart, or else you're likely to get hit by a taxi cab.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
The most recent question is who would you rather be: Neil Gaiman or Hugh Laurie.
The race is pretty close, but so far Neil Gaiman is winning. My favorite reason for this “because Hugh Laurie has to live in LA”.
Monday, April 21, 2008
I must begin by saying that
A friend is moving to Prince Edward Island Canada, where there are two lobsters and two oysters seasons a year. I agreed to booksit while she leaves the good ol’
The book’s name is Midnight Blue. It’s thick, especially for a paperback. However, neither the New Yorker nor my next next library book arrived yet, and if I don’t have something to read on the bus in the morning, I go stir crazy. So, you know, whatever, let’s see what this book is about.
It’s about vampires. Light on the plot. Heavy on the violence. And oh God is the violence wonderful. It’s brutal, gritty, vicious, ugly, and it doesn’t skimp on the details. I can’t even bring myself to think about the rom. com. anymore, and there’s a part of me that wonders why on earth did I want to write something funny and romantic and, most of all, happy in the first place?
When I’m writing something that’s...not very nice, I always think how nice would it be to write a script like 50 First Dates, or, I don’t know, Finding Nemo. Then I actually try to write a story in which no one dies and I start watching Law and Order: SVU like it’s crack on screen. (Actually, that’s basically what Law and Order is.)
The truth is, under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t even like Midnight Blue so much. But I deprived myself of gore almost the entire time of writing the rom. com., and finally I lost it. I know I’ll get through this phase, but right now all I want to do is write about people bleeding. I can’t even come up with plot to go with that.
I guess it’s worth mentioning that I got to page sixty, which is 2/3 of what I’m targeting. I’ve thought of this current script, the mysterious Screenplay X as a 90 pager from day one. I still really like the idea, but I don’t think it’s one that needs to hit that less and less common two hour mark. So, I’m two thirds of the way done, and I still haven’t outlined at all, save for maybe a few notes here and there, which I type directly onto the page and then delete as they become obsolete.
I haven’t worked this way in a long time, and while I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing, there are certain drawbacks to it. Mostly, I’m writing much slower. I can typically bang out about five pages an hour, if I know what I’m writing. Nowadays, with this script being done this way, I’m getting maybe three. That’s not a bad thing, and it keeps me thinking much more about what I’m putting on the page, about every single line. I’ve never thought quite as hard about each word of dialogue as I am doing now, so that’s been a learning experience.
And, that brings me to the second drawback, of sorts. The dialogue. I’m pretty sure that, structurally, the script is about where it would be if I was outlining. This scene set in X location at this point in the script, followed by these other characters in Y location. I’m doing that. But it’s the content of the scenes that’s not as firm as perhaps it would be if I had outlined. Partly, that’s because I still don’t know where Act 2 ends. (Page-wise, it’ll be about 75. But I mean plot-wise. I don’t know what the tent-pole scene is that supports the script at the end of Act 2.) I don’t fully know what ought to be happening in some scenes, which is making future scenes weaker or repetitive. I could be wrong, but I’ll probably have to read through it and do some re-writes before the League sees it. Eitehr way, I guess I’ll find out soon enough. Going at this rate, and with any luck, I’ll FADE OUT in ten days.
I do still like where the script is going, and it actually developed into something more recently. I found a newer, deeper meaning, and a tangible connection I can make within it to a pre-existing work; a poem, actually. I’m not sure how much I’ll use it—I actually think I might have allowed it to feel too much about the poem right now—but it was a discovery I had no intention of making. Like penicillin.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
But not everything this week was good. I managed to let one person put a huge damper on a fun night I was having Saturday. We were hosting a party, and someone I’d hoped would come cancelled last minute. I don’t know why exactly, but I used that as an excuse to disappear for the rest of the night and check out early. When I woke up on Sunday, I was back in that mindset where I seek shelter in my scripts and those worlds. I wanted to escape there again, and felt another brick added to the wall I’m building between myself and the real world.
And the real world has started seeping into the League more and more recently. We’ve been going through some changes, which I’m sure will be discussed later. But they involve bringing new people in, and old people possibly leaving. Careers and paths are changing, apartments are being found and lost, and romantic relationships are either progressing or regressing. There is a lot going on now; we all feel a strong wind of change blowing through the League watchtower right now, and while there’s little more we can do than ride it out, it is at times unsettling. Not so much because we will be unable to cope with the changes—no mater what, we’ll remain “the League” in spirit if nothing else—but because we’re reminded of how quickly and how dramatically things can and do change.
The important thing, I guess, for me to do is keep writing. In fact, I’m sure writing will become a refuge for me. When everything is changing and people are coming and going, the writing will be constant, unwavering, safe.
You have no idea how much I hope that’s true…
Monday, April 14, 2008
In Chinese, naming people are fairly easy. If it’s a girl’s name, chances are there’ll be a character that means quiet/ pleasing/ pretty/ some-sort-of-“famine”- animal. If it’s a boy’s name, then patriotic/ fierce/ smart/ successful/ rich/ bright/ some-sort-of-“masculine”-animal. Sexist, I know, but hell, at least it’s usually easy to differentiate between male and female names, and what the parents wished for the kid (unless they’re named after a scenic view or vegetation). When in doubt, name your boy “Love (your) Country” and your girl “Pleasing (to) Husband” or “Call (forth a younger) Brother”. (I’m not making this shit up. Those were pretty popular names.)
Names written in English, on the other hand, doesn’t necessarily mean it's an
Usually I get away with just throwing my characters New Testament names, but when I stray from the Bible, things start to make less sense. I don’t know why three of the archangels’ names--Michael, Gabriel, and Rachael--are pretty popular, but hardly anyone is named after Uriel. Although, when I name someone Raphael, people usually respond “oh, like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle!”
I’ve given male names to my female characters, female names to my male characters (still can’t believe Brooke is a girl’s name). More than often I just grab the nearest book or magazine that has multiple contributors and pick something that I can pronounce. I’ve used up my old high school contact list by now. The one time I named two of my characters Luc and Nicolai after old work interns Lucas and Nicolas, Cake Man pointed out I turn them Russian. How??
I also just realized that the girl in my new script probably can’t be called Christina since she lives in an alternate/ fantasy universe where there’re multiple deities.
And last names? Bane of my existence.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Most things you simple pick up when you've lived in another country for this long and 90% of your friends don't speak your native language. But after a certain point you start hitting words that people just don't use enough for you to pick up naturally. I distinctly remember learning "asphalt" in 2004 because it was in Gwen Stefani's song "Long Way to Go", and the word "silhouette" in 2003, first semester of college, because it was in Cake Man's script, three times, and I couldn't pronounce it (Damn you Cake Man. The fuck did you pick the Asian girl to read stage directions for??). And some things you just don't pick up unless you grew up here.
Such as the term "Rub-a-dub-dub". Is that trying to say "rub-a-duck" i.e. rub the famous yellow duckie? Or does it actually mean "rub-a-tub", i.e. spray the tub down with some Lysol and start scrubbing. I still don't know.
If you do, answers would be appreciated.
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Saturday, April 05, 2008
As soon as I get writing again, the weather takes a turn for the wonderful. There's nothing quite as distracting as SUNLIGHT.
I've managed to get just over an hour of writing, but looking back I noticed I misspelled "waitress" as "weaters" in three different paragraphs. It just goes to show that my mind is somewhere else.
Friday, April 04, 2008
After a little over two grueling weeks of keeping tight-lipped, my characters have to decided to start speaking again. Tonight has been the first time I've been able to sit down in front of Final Draft and actually feel like I'm getting anywhere. It's not to say that I haven't been writing, but my various side projects just haven't had that exhilarating feeling my main script does.
This is the first major roadblock I've hit with this one, and I guess it was about time. Once I hit pages in the 50s, I just lost the ability to write dialogue that had been coming naturally up to that point. Now I'm walking away from a session and I feel like I may've gotten the ball rolling again. (About time, heh.)
Writing done for the evening, file saved. Time to crack a beer.
Ok, I’ll start with the most clichéd. It’s disgustingly sappy, so you’ll have to forgive me. I’m talking about love. I’m not saying I’ve fallen in love. Rather, I think, for the first time really, I’ve begun to understand it. I haven’t really bought into it before; that’s not to say that I don’t believe it exists or is felt every day. I do. Just not by me. But I recently returned home for a weekend and saw a friend of mine—she was always the last one we’d expect to be in a relationship, and even the relationships she was in were defined by her wild independence and seeming reluctance to let anyone in—clinging off of a guy she recently started dating again. I’ve never seen her act the way she did, walking over to a guy in the middle of a party just to give him a peck on the cheek and walk away. I’ve seen other people do similar things, but seeing her do it really jolted me. It got me thinking; if this is what that looks like, if she can do it (and I had always felt a kindred spirit in her because I have acted the same way in past “relationships”), then maybe there’s hope for me yet. World 1.
Next is the world created of starting a new script. Jumping ahead a bit to what would be in the next Writing Week. I began a new script last night, one that I didn’t outline or anything (more thoughts on that later). But I’m so excited about it. I feel like I’m in elementary school again and counting down the hours until school ends so that I can run home and play with my new toy. I just want to dive back into the script as soon as possible. I hope this feeling doesn’t die down (the first act is often the most invigorating for me) any time soon.
Finally, is a world of revelation. I tend to do these things, which I kick myself constantly for. Who doesn’t do things they get pissed about, I know. But I linger on the small things like nothing else, and often let big issues just get swept under the rug. At any rate, I find myself in situations where I say or do something stupid or inadvertently act inappropriately—completely accidentally mind you—and then spend the next week berating myself. Well, that sort of happened again two nights ago. Now, nothing bad really came out of it (that I know of), but I found that once again, I turned inward to the worlds that I create for my scripts. I am safe in those worlds. I am in control of them. My characters might not be, but there, I cannot be harmed. Perhaps that’s why I’ve taken so much to writing; it’s my safe haven. No matter the body count or the number of broken hearts in my scripts and plays, I am unaffected. The world could (and nearly has) come to an end in something I write, yet I manage to always make it out unscathed. More than that, everyone in those pages is my friend, no matter how diabolical. Because they’re all of me, of somewhere inside my mind. It might not be the healthiest of mindsets, in fact, I’m pretty sure it’s not, but it’s something I’ve realized.
Why, you ask, am I revealing this here? It’s been on my mind and, well, maybe it doesn’t matter outside of the type on the page, at least for as long as it takes me to write this.
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
I've actually been back from my visit to the Bahamas for a while, but this would be my first post since soaking up some rays. I was a little concerned for a moment that all the great food and chill island vibes would melt away the crusty shell of New York determination that I've been building over the past few months. I was wrong. Still writing, and with tan lines to boot. I expect to finish the script for my first ever feel good sports movie this week. One small step forward in my quest to delve into every genre. I don't write off of an outline often, but so far I'm finding that it's probably worthwhile with this script. The sports movie genre always strikes me as one of the simplest, formulaic genres out there, but it's actually been kind of difficult to nail. I'd much rather be writing about ninjas in the Iga province of 14th century Japan, but there's something refreshing about having a fun script that could be made for 100k at it's cheapest. I just threw that number out there. I'm not sure what industry professionals would suggest, but I could probably make the movie for $1000 and a 20 lb bag of rice. Who needs lighting? The techs just make things complicated with all their funny terms. Sound? I just need a kick ass rock soundtrack over all the game action. Actors? I'll just find people who like rice. I got a good feeling about this one.