Monday, January 07, 2008

The Writing Week part 1

Until I come up with a catchier title for it, the weekly update I'd mentioned I was going to begin putting on the blog is called The Writing Week (I know, they gave me a degree for that?). We're seven days into 2008, and to be completely honest, I haven't written yet this year. So, this is where I start. This is my first Writing (or lack-thereof in this case) Week.

Tomorrow, come Hell or High Water (let's hope not) and with amazing will power, I plan to overcome my laziness (correct word?) and put fingers to the keyboard. At the moment, I don't think I will be starting a completely new project. No, I already have three pages written!

In all seriousness, though, the outlining stage is the hardest for me. Oddly, I didn't do it the last time I wrote a play, and I was quite content with the draft I produced of it. Much more pleased than I typically am with first drafts of screenplay that I have outlined. Maybe that's because of the difference in mediums. In a play, characters seem to have much more room to ramble on and find the point of what they're trying to say. In a screenplay, they have to get right to the point, often as subtly or subtext heavy as possible, and then get out of the scene (or have it leave them). Personally, I feel a screenplay requires much more outlining, so the notion of doing that first step is always daunting.

Yet, even with these first three (solid, I feel) pages, I wonder if I really want to pursue the project in mind. Maybe I want to do a play. I don't really have another screenplay in mind at the moment. I think I'm just allowing myself to be intimidated by the inevitable outlining. But, once that process--typically, if I really focus and eat, sleep, and breathe it, it lasts a week--is over, I feel good enough to move rather rapidly through the actual pages.

The idea I'm working with now, though, is just so large, so dependent upon setting up a remarkably different world that I am also facing something... different. Sure, I've created unique worlds before, but always with an element of fantasy or realistic abandon that I can get away with whatever I want. This world, however, is based on scientific occurrences, so I feel a need to get as accurate as possible, if not for readers and viewers than for myself.

Maybe, come to think of it, I just have to treat it like any other world. Pretend it's something completely different. Mold it as I need it. And go from there.

Tomorrow, regardless of where I am in preparation, I begin. Because, why wait?

Until next Week.

This is What We Get in 2008?

I saw I Am Legend a few weeks back. I didn't really enjoy it that much, but I found some of it entertaining. I like the post-Apocalyptic genre, so that alone made it interesting to me.

But, what I was most dismayed with were the trailers. Every single movie, save for The Dark Knight --which you better not let me catch you saying a bad thing about-- looked done. I don't mean "done" in that it was ready for theaters. I mean done as in, "That's been done before."

I barely even recall which movies I saw trailers for, but I distinctly remember thinking, "Wow, not one of these is original. And, to make things worse, none of them look good." I suddenly felt so dismayed with the film industry, so disgusted with it and wanting to distance myself from it. Yet, at the same time, I felt an overwhelming need to get out there, to write like mad, and to be a part of a film that audiences will see a trailer for and think, not only, "Damn, that looks sweet," but also, "I haven't seen that before."

We talk about telling stories that we just have to tell, stories that almost write or tell themselves. And yes, I would feel as if I were being suffocated if I couldn't or didn't write my ideas out, if I didn't put them on the page. But shouldn't making movies be about something more? Don't we want to excite? To entertain with creativity and surprises? To be new?

After seeing the trailers before Sweeney Todd (worse trailers than before I Am Legend), I'm not so sure that's the case. I hope I'm wrong.

The Terribly Amateur Box-Office Analysis

Editor's note: data was taken from late Sunday estimates. Actual figures may vary.

Is it just me or has it been an oddly quiet awards season? I know the strike has put a damper on everyones' spirits, but it's almost as though you could hear a proverbial pin drop. There don't seem to be any films generating an overwhelming amount of "Oscar Buzz" (which I'm pretty sure is a side effect of prolonged drug use). In past years, you could reel off six or seven films that could receive Oscar nods for Best Picture without hesitation. But now? Wouldn't you have to at least think about it a little?

Anyway, that being said, National Treasure: Book of Secrets took home the most moolah this weekend, grossing an estimated $20.2 million. For all intents and purposes, by this time next week, it should surpass its predecessor and be the highest grossing film of Nicolas Cage's career. Reread that sentence and tell me why it's odd: because you'd think there would be some other film, or because it's Nicolas Cage of SNL's "Celebrity Jeopardy" fame?

I Am Legend came in second with $16.4 million. Has anyone else already forgotten about this movie? Honestly, after its release, I've heard nothing about it. Even people that have seen it don't seem to say much. It's like everyone collectively agreed that it was time for it go away. But thank goodness. Because just when you were over the idea of a decimated New York, Cloverfield is on its way.

Playing the role of the obligatory "Indy movie that gets a lot of awards attention and also becomes a box-office success story" this awards season is Juno, which came in third with $16.2 million. The cool part about this? It has grossed $52 million since its release. The price tag? $10 million.

Rounding out the top five were Alvin and the Chipmunks ($16.0 M) and One Missed Call ($13.5 M).