Monday, December 20, 2010

End of line...

Spoiling the shit out TRON so if you haven’t seen it stop now.

The movie starts with the Disney Castle all lit up in the TRON style which is awesome. It sets the bar high right off the bat then bangs it’s head on it.

The visuals in this movie are awesome. The action sequences are pretty cool. The light cycles and planes are beyond awesome.

Daft Punk score. I will definitely own this.

My Issues:

There are shades of Star War slash Jedi stuff that kind of make me wince. Some of the costumes and weapons are too similar.

This story feels like fragments of several story lines developed over the production of the movie and they mashed them all together.

Somehow, for some reason, Flynn’s son is brought into the “Grid”. We find out CLU is the one that brought him in and that is it. That story never plays out. Presumably CLU does this to draw Flynn out but that only happens because the son chooses to go out and the father has to follow. Reactive, not proactive.

Quorra is some special, self manifested program. That whole story line was great and I thought the movie was headed in the right direction finally. No. With flashbacks and boring expositional dialogue they puke out the story of that whole mess and that’s it.

CLU creates this massive army and we never see it in action.

There are hints of some insurgency that never gets explored.

WTF was up with ZUES channeling some combination of the Jack Nicholson’s Joker and Jim Carrey’s The Riddler. What the what?

The TRON story line pisses me off the most. The build it up only to let it fizzle at the bottom of the ocean. So frustrating. The movie is called TRON damn it. You can’t even resolve that story line of the namesake? Weak.

This movie is not about video games as it should have been.

The hero brings his physical skills into the Grid instead of learning new skills and using them. This was supposed to be about a geek manifesting greatness. Some spoiled rich kid is not my Hero.

What security guard would walks out on a crane? Come on. So disappointed.

That is all.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I suck

I suck. Seriously, one post in three months?

Still writing though. When I have news I will post it. Hang in there fan(s).

That is all.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Yeah... yeah.

I suck.

A blog post once a month? I can do better than that. So to you fearless reader(s) I promise to do at least two posts a month. Baby steps.

So… Classified Prime. A story I’ve been tossing around for awhile. A retired military man seeks some peace and quiet in a rural town but I DON”T THINK SO! Of course his past is going to come back to haunt him and threaten to destroy everything. But wait! Is there a glimpse of redemption somewhere in the impending doom? We will see!

I am doing some research for this story. Reading a book on several special forces branches as well as a book on the psychological and physiological effects of combat on soldiers. This should give you a hint as to what is about to go down in the tiny, peaceful, but way out of the ordinary town of Red Ridge.

My next story (After C:P) in the queue is a awesome. I can’t wait to get into it. Again it’s going to be a lot of research but I love that shit. Lets just say the human race is in deep shit. Ever the underdog, us scrappy humans are going have to bring our A game to get out of this mess. Awesomeness.

I might have to sneak in a another run on Air Bears at my wife’s request. She likes the story but as with all newb writing it needs a lot of work.

Met some awesome people at a screening of The Machinist followed by an interview of the director Brad Anderson by Warren Etheredge. The networking is really starting to pick up. All it takes is a hello and a handshake. Easier for some than others.

That is all.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

How being a finalist crushed me.

I learned a valuable lesson after placing in TheFilmSchool’s short screenplay contest. Everything that is wrong with my stories suddenly slapped me in the face.

I submitted three stores. Click the download link on the right to check them out. Of those three, the one I liked the least placed. “No Such Things.”

After mulling it over for a few weeks and conversing with my wife it suddenly dawned on me why that one was special. Then my other stories started trickling into my mind, and everything that is wrong with them became glaringly obvious.

They are a series of events. Damn cool events but just the same. They are gauntlets that I am running my characters through. That’s fine. But it’s not good enough. It needs to be about the character themselves before we give a shit that they are even going through the gauntlet in the first place.

Yeah, yeah, I could link a hundred books telling me this very thing. But until you see it, and realize it, and live it, and do it, it makes no sense and you don’t really get it.

When someone asks you what your story is about, how do you answer? Is the story about a boy and his car that’s not really a car? Or is about giant transforming robots? Which story do you want to see? Transformers rocked. Transformers II was polished turd.

The good news. I get it now.

The bad news. Holy shit do I have a lot of work to do.

I just finished my second rewrite of I.F.O. I was hoping that it would be done so I could turn it into the guild. Wrong. Last month if someone were to ask me what I.F.O. is about I would have something like; “It’s about a boy who becomes trapped on a UFO.” Today I would answer that question with; “It’s a story about a strained father-son relationship. It just so happens it’s set aboard an alien spacecraft under siege.” That’s not a polished description but it’s a damn sight better than the first sentence.

What is Air Bears about? The dawn of the age of the flying car? Or a comic book geek living a dream only to see it come crashing down…pun intended?

Is Rebooting Andy about a gamer who games to much or a young married couple being driven apart by his gaming descend into a tit for tat game of extremes? I need to work on this one.

Bottom line, I couldn’t be happier. Above that line, I am pissed that I spent hours building those stories only to have them be flawed at the core.

Silver lining, I would not be where I am today had I not written that shit.

That is all.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Contest shorts are away!

I uploaded three short screenplays for the contest. They are in the mail with the check.

Click on the link under Projects to download them.

Wish me luck!


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Long Weekend

I trust everyone had a great Memorial Weekend!

Other than the rain mine was good. Aiden and I snuck out during a sunny break and did some bike riding. He was very bummed I couldn’t take him skateboarding.

I also taught him how to play Monopoly at which he crushed me. So that was awesome.

My writing weekend consisted of:

A rewrite of Solo. After a lot of discussion with my readers I went back and added some elements that are intended to clear up some confusion. I also changed the title from Solo, which had some readers thinking something entirely different than what the story was, to The Promise, which hopefully makes sense once you read it.

I edited the final 40 pages of I.F.O. Yes, you read that right, forty fricken pages. I then plowed through 20 pages of the page one rewrite.

Needless to say I am very happy about my writing weekend.

Heading to Seattle tonight for The Film School first Tuesday meeting.

That is all.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What's next?

Two consecutive sci-fi adventures. I think its time to change gears a bit.

Next in the queue will be my geek comedy. Been tossing around the idea for a few years now. It’s time to get it written.

I owe IFO and Air Bears two edits and rewrites each. I will complete those first so that I have some fodder for contests.

My last candidate for The Film School’s short screenplay contest is written. It’s waiting for feedback from readers. Nothing leaves the house until my wife has read it. Unfortunately she is busy with schooling and hasn’t gotten to it. DAMN IT WOMAN!

I’ve added the shorts to the projects list. I’ve also created a MediaFire account and will be posting the complete works once they are ready for human consumption.

That is all.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sophomore effort…

I have been a writing fool.

Finished my latest script I.F.O. (Identified Flying Object). I learned some things while cranking out my second script.

I was so excited about starting that I didn’t check my scene cards thoroughly. Each card is typically meant to go two pages. I had several that ended up being quick, half a page scenes. Consequently the first draft came in at 85 pages.

Those scene cards weren’t necessarily incorrect, I just need to make sure I know that these are short scenes and make sure I have enough material to come in around 100 pages.

I am modifying my process to include an edit and rewrite prior to putting the script away for a week or two. So I am going to do this for I.F.O. before going back to Air Bears.

I hope to have a link up for I.F.O. in the next month.

I have three candidates for The Film School short screenplay contest.

No Such Things - The struggle of a man destined to repeat history.

Heavy Soul – A Biohazard technician takes one last job to clean up the crime scene of the century, but does he have a solution for cleaning evil?

Solo – A Hiker discovers a vicious beast between him and a promise.

I will post links to the shorts after the contest.

That is all.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Story Ideas

New segment today call What the fuck am I talking about.

Today’s random shit… Story Ideas.

Where do my ideas for stories come from? Personal experience. A conversation overhead. Something someone said on Facebook. I’ve gotten ideas from all of these sources. A TV show here, a novel there, a slew of blogs and web sites I frequent. Ideas are everywhere. I remember asking a question a few years ago at a writing seminar. “What if you only have one good idea?” Wow, was I retarded.

What do I do with these ideas? Write them down. I carry a small leather bound notebook with a pen attached. I write everything that catches my attention. Some just stay on an “Ideas” page waiting to be read again. Others immediately evolve into a title and a story that I can see clearly.

I love those moments. It fuels me to write. I have the next seven stories lined up. All with good titles and I know how they start and how they end. If a better story idea comes along I toss that in the queue.

Why do I write? To get these stories down on paper and out of my head. For so many years I would walk around with these ideas that would show their faces every so often. Every time they would pop up I would think, “Man that would make a great story.” One day I decided to get them out of my head. I love movies so I chose screenplays as the medium.

I can’t break a story unless I have a title. To me, a good title is the corner stone of any story. It’s a warm blanket around me that keeps me warm as I snowplow through a story. Without a great title, I am lost and my writing suffers.

I have to know the opening scene and the ending of the film to consider spending time to break the story. Stories gestate over time. I let them sit there until I allow it to show me what it’s about. I am sounding like a total freak right now but after several years of trying to get a complete story down on paper, I’ve realized what works for me.

Writing isn’t just about typing or writing words. For me it’s about having fun and creating awesome shit out of thin air. To do that I need a process that works for me.

Find your process, in whatever you do. Refine it, learn from it, and enjoy yourself.


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Max, Maxene, and Marvin go into a bar...

Coming up with good names for a story can be quite challenging and an enormous pain in the ass.

If Will Farrell's character is named Bobby and Harrison Ford's character is named Berry you are not going to mix those two up on the screen. On the page it's another story. If your character names are too similar they can bleed into one another and make it confusing for the reader. I also stay away from ambiguous names or using girls names for boys and vice versa.

I like strong names for my Hero's but seriously, not everyone can be named Jack. I tend to use names of my friends for the good folks and names of people I can't stand for the assholes in my script. A neat side effect of doing this is that it helps me keeps my characters straight.

I also make an effort to not have any character's name start with the same letter. It's stretching it a bit but it makes me be creative with names.

When I snowplow and I find myself getting hung up on names I default to Hero, BadGuy, Girlfriend, Henchman, Hotshot, etc. This way I can continue getting the good stuff down on the page without staring at the screen. Find and replace is your friend.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Do's and Don'ts and everything else

As a new writer I struggle through the massive mental checklist of all the do's and don'ts of writing a story. Many fall by the wayside as I focus on completing a coherent screenplay.

I suspect, and hope, that as I become more experienced I begin to do and don't some of these things subconsciously, therefore being able to focus more on the complex aspects of creating a story that is simple, clear and fun.

In the mean time it's all about having fun and writing stories that I would pay to see in the theatre.


Monday, March 29, 2010

How to train your Dragon and in the mean time write a kick ass movie...

I'm from the Snyder-Ackerman school. Blake Snyder taught me how to break down a story and Hal Ackerman taught me the process of building a story.

Walking out of the movie theatre this weekend after seeing the excellent "How to Train Your Dragon" I was ticking off beat points, recalling the inciting incident and identifying the universal device. It was awesome. Makes me think I am finally learning something.

Off the top of my head;

**** Minor, vaguely referenced Spoilers ****

The opening image and the final image were complete opposites.
Fun and games were funny, scary and action packed.
All is lost was heart breaking.
A and B stories intersected perfectly at the beginning of Act 3.
They actually stormed the castle.
The universal device was spaced evenly and called back at the end.

**** Done ****

Most people think their rebellious artistic side are selling out by following a template to write their stories. Well who fucking cares? If you can keep a theatre full of six year olds rivited to the screen so much so that my son wouldn't take his eyes off the screen to lean over and tell me he wanted this movie on DVD... 10 minutes before it ends, you're doing it right.

Go see "How to Train Your Dragon". Good stuff.

Oh, and fuck 3D, it's just fine on normal mode.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Rewrite strategy

After reading the "Rewrite" section of the book in the previous post I am changing my tactics a bit.

First off I had a great discussion with my wife about Air Bears. Typical newbie writer issues like fuzzy story lines and I coddled my hero. My secondary characters rocked, she really enjoyed them. On my hero she was kind of meh.

I took down a page and a half of notes on areas that I need to focus on. I have some great ammunition for the rewrite.

Next time, after a first draft and I will send it to two people I trust to get feedback. I have let the draft sit for two weeks however I think I am going to break this next story and write that first draft before going back to Air Bears.

I have to say it was a unique feeling discussing a story that I created from scratch in such detail with someone. How she felt, when she laughed, when she smiled. Even though I have a lot of work to do, it was an awesome feeling.

So this weekend it's SNOWPLOW!


Thursday, March 25, 2010

This book changed my screenwriting life...

I struggled mightily over the last several years trying to come up with a process of writing that a) worked for me, and b) worked for my family , and c) worked around my day job.

During a Northwest Screenwriters Guild meeting with Greg Poirier (Rosewood), who by the way is a very cool person, he mentioned that his process was taught to him at UCLA by Hal Ackerman. He didn't have time to go into it but he thought that Ackerman had written a book so go check it out.

I did and I put it on my Amazon wish list.
Writing Screenplays That Sell

My lovely wife got it for me as a Christmas present. I read it. Used the processes described inside and I completed my first screenplay three months later.

I'm not saying this is going to work for everyone. But it sure helped me get my shit together and put a story down on paper.


Breaking a new story...

There are no such things and UFO's... they've all been identified.

Snowplowing my new story. My goal is to at least have 7-10 plows done before the weekend (on #3) so I can begin rewriting "Air Bears".

The wife is almost done with her read. Getting some good feedback from her. It was neat for me to learn that she picked up on stuff and even came to the correct conclusions about some story points even though I thought I hadn't explained the parts well enough. That made me smile.

Things are good.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Air Bears Complete!

After all the books, a couple of seminars, several stops and starts, and years of trying to find myself as a writer, I finally completed a script.

I discovered a process that worked for me. I followed it faithfully. I set a schedule that worked for me. I followed it faithfully.

Now I have a 106 page first page of Air Bears in my hands. What a feeling it is.

My plans are to let is simmer in the drawer for two weeks (ending this Sunday). In the mean time I am breaking my next story. Once I get the next story ready to go I will hit Air Bears for a rewrite that I feel comfortable having people read.

I feel like I have finally stopped stumbling around in the dark. I see the light coming from underneath the door. I am walking towards it. Hopefully I can find the handle and open that door...