Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Writing Week (Vol. 5) part 245 - Thoughts on an Agent

It strikes me that just about two years ago, I was flying out to LA to meet with an agent at UTA about possibly representing me. The meeting went well, and I wound up securing a well-known and popular agent. If you've been following this saga for a while now, then you might know that one of the things my manager promised my agent upon the handshake agreement was that I would deliver two scripts per year to him. 

That hasn't happened.

In fact, I haven't been in touch with my agent since a week after we first met. He has seen no new material from me. 

I would try to argue here that this isn't entirely my fault. I've been writing. I've done multiple drafts of different projects. My manager thought some things just weren't right for the market at the time being. Yadda, yadda, yadda...

The truth of it is, I should have produced more. I wound up going idle for a but most of the remainder of 2010 while trying to determine what to write next. I pushed through drafts of a couple scripts, but my manager thought the one - though good - would be unlikely to sell given similar projects that had recently not scored big at the box office. The other is still sitting on my desk, waiting to be rewritten again. 

Sure, I have the sci-fi collaboration with a working actor/writer/director, but that's not anywhere near ready to be shown to the agent. Now and then, I think that maybe I should reach out and update him, but I know that's foolish. He knows my name - every now and then, my producing team still tries something with the post-Apocalyptic spec, but to no avail. My agent knows that's still in the ether. And, frankly, a non-update email is worse than no email. Until I have something to say, I shouldn't say it.

In the past, I've gone back to those few emails he and I exchanged in 2010, wherein he mentioned a project he thought I could write on spec. I would torture myself by rereading the two laconic sentences he wrote me, something to the effect of, "I have a project in mind that I might slip your script for to a producer as a sample. If he likes it and all goes well, I might suggest you write on spec." And that was the last of it. Until, that is, I realized only very recently that his email indicated no different kind of project than the sci-fi collaboration I'm working on now - someone has and idea and needs a writer to work (for free) on it. I wish it hadn't taken another year and a half for something like that to come about, but it did and that's that.

At the end of the day, I know it's no use fretting about any of the above. I have an agent. When I have a script that's ready, he'll read it. In the meantime, I should draw on my lack of other ready-to-go material as a source of inspiration to write, rather than a weight dragging me down. 

So, folks, off to the races.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Writing Week (Vol. 5) part 244 - Act One Notes

My collaborator is abroad shooting a movie this and next month, but we managed to grab some time yesterday for a phone call regarding pages I sent him. In an effort to make sure that he and I were on the same page regarding the tone of the piece. Though I am doing the actual writing, this is still his idea first and foremost, and we agreed that it would be better to make adjustments incrementally, rather than discovering after I had written a full draft that we were diametrically opposed in our understandings of the scripts' voice and feel.

The good news is we were on the same page. He had some thoughts about tone, but nothing really that would require me to make sweeping changes to the existing first act I sent him. I'll be better equipped to move forward, but I'm not looking at a major rewrite as far as that is concerned. My partner also had larger notes on two main sequences, but again, they're not immediately pressing. I'll go back and reqork them (one of them implies a location change for many upcoming scenes), but we're not at make or break yet, which is great.

Neither of us can really wait to have our hands on a full draft, but we're approaching the next 75% of the script in a prudent fashion. Just as we caught a few things that are good for me to know going forward, so we'll hope to do so again with the next chunk of pages. I will send him the first half of Act Two next, before going on to finish that act, in case he sees anything else that seems off to him. The point, again, is to address those notes as I continue writing, not to get saddled with rewriting pages before the draft is even done.

at any rate, it's great to be writing again and to have a project solidly under way. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Logline Central - Environmental Awareness

Logline Central is an irregular segment that takes a deeper look at loglines of scripts or projects that have just been purchased, as listed on DoneDealPro.

For this Logline Central, let's take a look at a recurring theme - the environmental crisis. WALL-E was a not-so-thinly veiled look at the climate and environment catastrophe facing us at the moment. Leaguer Onyx wrote a script that indirectly addressed global warming. Countless books cover the problem, and with the elections coming up in November, the environment is on the tip of most politicians' tongues. So, naturally, it makes perfect sense that more and more movies are going to deal with the state of the planet. Here are two recent acquisitions.

Title:Aurora The Spirit Bear of the North
Logline:Revolves around the growing worldwide trend for conservation and preservation of the natural world, a movement that highlights the wonderful richness of the spiritual, earth-centered beliefs and actions of the Indian peoples of the Pacific Northwest.
Writer:Erik Daniel Shein (author)

Genre:Family Adventure 
More:Book. This will be an animated film.

Title:Darwin: A Galapagos Love Story
Logline:A group of unlikely friends, some of the rarest creatures on the planet, attempt to rescue a wise and infinitely kind Galapagos tortoise, who needs to find a mate to continue his endangered line.
Writer:Erik Daniel Shein (author)
Genre:Family Adventure 
More:Children's book. This will be an animated feature film. 

Both of them are adaptations from books, which is no major surprise in this script buying climate. In terms of loglines, the second is far superior to the first. To be honest, I have little idea what the first is about. What we're presented with in this logline is a setting or a context for a film, but it's not a logline. It doesn't convey any plot at all. Perhaps the book has yet to be published, but this statement doesn't give us any insight into the story.  The second, however, sounds fun. We know who the characters are and what they want. We even know where it's set. And, we know what the struggle and challenges are. That, folks, is an effective logline.

I just hope that the trend toward environmental conservation themed family films means that the next generation will be heavily focused on preserving this planet. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Writing Week (Vol. 5) part 243 - Started a New Script

Working with a partner has been a very positive experience for me so far. One of the biggest unforeseen bonuses has been that there's someone holding me back from jumping the gun on starting a new script prematurely. When working by my lonesome, it's easy enough to say to myself, "this outline is ready; might as well jump into the page stage now." Having my collaborator, W.A., along with our producer, however, has made me hold off until the outline was about as ready to go as we could make it.

I'll admit, I used to loathe the thought of outlines. Granted, this was in college when I was a much more novice and pretentious writer. I thought that no good story could be old without giving it the freedom to roam where it might. Outline? Psh. That would only stifle my creativity. For the character to come alive and the plot to go where it needed, I had to strip away all confines and let the beast roam free. 

The result was usually trash.

In the years since, I've become heavily dependent on my outlines. I don't like to embark upon a script without one, and I'll generally do at least one full pass at an outline before getting anywhere near Movie Magic. For the sci-fi collaboration in question this week, I've done seven - count them, seven - full outlines. Probably about a hundred pages or more in different drafts. That tally doesn't even include the versions that preceded my involvement in the project. I came into the script, back in February, to a an outline, that was the result o many other years of development. And by saying I have done seven, I mean there have been seven major incarnations of the outline since I became involved. There have, as with any writing project, been multiple other revisions that were more edits than actual changes. Seven just represents the number of new documents I have created due to overwhelming changes to the story and structure.

And you know what? Draft seven isn't perfect.

There are a lot of smaller things we still have to fix, but W.A. ans I both felt that those, many of which are dependent on visuals and minute details, are best addressed in the actual pages. So, with a solid though still not perfect outline, I finally set off onto the page stage. My hope is to get W.A. a draft of act one by the end of the week. It will be rough. It won't be edited. It will need streamlining and revisions. But it will, if all goes according to plan, be structurally sounds, and I will ask him to focus primarily on the tone.

Off we go.