Friday, August 21, 2009

Let That Be A Lesson To Me

I got a notice recently letting me know that my action script had not been chosen as a finalist in a certain screenplay competition.

No sweat. I’ve placed in competitions, but hell yes, I've also been turned down before.

But here’s the thing: this notice included “coverage” from the “first round judge” that “explains the difficult decision” not to include the script in the final round.

Always eager for well-reasoned feedback from professionals, I read the notes immediately.

That’s when I got mad. For a second.

The reader said that the script “is well-structured, moves fast, is briskly and humorously written, keeps you involved and has great dialogue.”

However, he/she was passing because, well, he/she didn’t really like action movies.

He/she felt the main characters were macho types. He/she didn’t understand how people can get shot in the leg and continue on their task instead of going to the hospital. He/she was bothered by the fact that a helicopter was able to approach a speeding motorboat without being heard and wanted to know where the ropes had come from that allowed the heroes to rappel from the chopper.

Can you imagine? A macho-type in an actioner? An ex-special forces soldier getting shot in the leg and actually having the audacity to continue trying to save his abducted mother? The noise of a speeding motorboat at sea obscuring that of a small private chopper? And, mother of God, a rope, the origin of which is not carefully explained???

Um. Are you fucking kidding me? This wasn't a competition with any kind of angle - not a horror competition for example - just supposedly looking for good scripts in any genre. I mean, by all means, pass if it's not any good, but because you don't like the genre?

Like I said, I got mad for a second, and then chuckled to myself and threw the thing in the recycle bin.

Ah well. Let that be a lesson to me. You never know who’s reading your script and can kill it for the silliest reasons.

By the way, the cover form letter sweetly encouraged me to keep trying, because it turns out successful screenplays "often need to be revised several times."

Really. Thanks for that.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Short Attention Span

Recently I've been thinking more and more about doing a short.

I realize I'm bouncing around too much. The new stolen baby spec, the animated spec, blah, blah, blah. And now this.

But for a long time I've been out of production, spending all of my time at work developing new TV shows and whatever out-of-work time I can writing specs. All of this is based in ideas. I miss the concrete. I miss producing.

Last year I did the 48 Film Project, and it was a blast. It was just wicked fun and exhilarating to get my hands dirty again -- casting, locations, wardrobe, stunts, directing, editing, scoring...

So I keep thinking about a short. And giving myself more than 48 hours to pull it off. I'm too old for that shit.

Then I thought, District 9, Napoleon Dynamite and many others began as shorts that showed off interesting worlds that producers and investors wanted to see in a feature. So I thought about flipping it around a little:

Could I adapt my latest feature spec, an actioner I'm currently shopping around, into a short? If so, and if I direct it myself, and if it turns out well, it might be another way to try to market the feature script. And maybe me as a director in the feature world.

Hmmm. Interesting.

Anyway, that's what I've been doing the last few lunch hours and evenings -- trying to adapt the feature screenplay to a short script.

It's been a hell of a wrangle, and my brain hurts a little. But then again, your brain has to hurt a little if you want to do something worthwhile, doesn't it?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Moving On Past DinoPirates

Writing music for the day: Secret Agent on SomaFM via iTunes.

Earlier this year I learned a friend of a friend was working in Fox animation, so I started thinking about animation screenplays. I asked myself what my son would want to watch and, mulling over his favorites that if thrown together could create interesting worlds, came up with a title and a vague concept: DinoPirates.

Started to brainstorm storylines. Then I thought, Wait, it’s too easy. So I googled it and found out I was way too late. There already exists an online game called Dino-Pirates of Ninja Island.

They beat me to it. And they added ninjas. So they’re both more productive and smarter than I am.

I’m not giving up though. Still banging around ideas for an animated feature. Perhaps because the script I’m currently writing is a horrific one, about a stolen baby, cut from its mother’s belly. I’m liking it, but it’s so disturbing. No surprise that thinking about movies my youngest kids would watch helps.

I’m onto a new idea now. Got a title, a tag line, some shape of the world – I can see the poster even. And no one has made a show, book, game, film or anything else about it.


(Bet they beat me to it though…)