Writing Log Week 39 – October 2nd, 2017

With October looming, all I can think is HOLY-HECK-THE-YEAR-IS-ALMOST-OVER-I-NEED-TO-KICK-IT-INTO-HIGH-GEAR-NEVER-SAY-DIE!!!

Things are slow but good with the horror feature script. They need to be better and faster. My class is definitely helping.

Getting into the mood, I watched my first Ti West feature, The Innkeepers. It’s a fun little horror film, funnier than I thought it would be. The second half of my indie film double feature was Axis, directed by Aisha Tyler — yes, that Aisha Tyler. It’s basically a scrappy, low budget Locke.

The first script I read was the CBS pilot, Perfect Citizens.

I am truly amazed when a script/writer nails the feel of a network and this script screams CBS. Salamander is an all out action script for ABC written by a quartet of heavy hitters, including Scott Rosenberg of Con Air fame.

On that note, time to hunker down and pound out this script.

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Writing Log Week 38 – September 25th, 2017

So the big news is only big news to me (and to those that follow these rantings with bated breath). I started my feature writing class this past Saturday and I went with my back up idea… and it felt this good…

And man, you better believe I sweated that decision.

Besides heavy (creative) perspiration, I caught the movie everyone’s been watching, It. While I hate scary clowns as much — if not more — than the next person, I really wanted to check out the guy that just got signed to the new Robotech movie. He’s good (but I’d still make a better movie). I also caught that other movie that everyone loves to hate, Mother! Personally, I’m in the middle. I don’t think it’s genius (Fellini did the same thing WAAAAAAAAY better) but I also don’t want to boo it and stone it until it has been vanquished from this earthly plane. I’m glad a studio made it but I don’t need to see it ever again.

Barbarian, on the other hand, is a slam dunk action script that I wish I had written. Seriously, I had a “Notes & Ideas” files on this very subject. But I’m not upset because this script kicks ass. Seriously, this is the level that I aspire to with my writing.

And on that note, I have to get back to my Destiny addiction — I mean writing.

I KNOW! (but I can’t help myself).

I mean, just look at this Japanese commercial for the game!

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Writing Log Week 37 – September 18th, 2017

This week I hit a crossroad, maybe a crisis of confidence. See, I’m starting a feature writing class on September 23 and there’s this one story I really want to write. It’s a small story, sorta like a contained thriller. The problem is that there’s this other story that’s just so goddamn attractive. I was totally set on the writing the smaller story but I feel like I’ve psyched myself into a place where I can’t decide. I don’t know any more. I’m like…

… but maybe I should give in.

As for the rest of my endeavors…

Mission Control was written by Andy “The Martian” Weir for CBS and Las Reinas is an ABC pilot from the writer of the Angelina Jolie’s Tomb Raider and The Manchurian Candidate remake. One thing I can say about both is that it feels like they really knew how to target their buyer (a skill I wish I had).

A Simple Plan continues my mini Bill Paxton marathon and Death Note was a movie on Netflix (and that’s all I’ll say about that).

I start my class with Pilar Alessandra this upcoming week and I’m nervous as all get out. Wish me luck.

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Writing Log Week 36 – September 11th, 2017

At some point we must face undeniable facts. For me, it’s that I won’t finish this pilot by the time I start my feature writing class.

Class starts on September 23 and I’m still halfway through an outline. The first few acts are solid but the second half feels too cliche. My suspicion is that the characters aren’t meaty enough to carry us through the end of page 60. Or maybe I’m stuck in a vicious cycle of self sabotage. I’m not sure anymore. What I do know is that I can bang out an outline by September 23. That’s my new goal.

For good news, I’ve been working on what I’ll write in Pilar’s feature class (starts September 23) and Hollie’s pilot class (starts October 28). Actually, for Pilar’s class, I have both an “A” and “B” idea. The “A” idea is a contained thriller that I’m really digging. The problem is that the “B” idea is easy to pitch and built off IP and — it’s just so goddamn sexy. The minute I tell anyone idea “B”, their eyes go wide, like I just told them that I have a winning lotto ticket. My problem (if it is a problem) is that I *REALLY* want to write idea “A” first. Also, idea “A” is small, potentially an indie-ish film, but I don’t know if Pilar will respond to it. Idea “B” is a goddamn movie.

Anyway, enough of my blah-blah-blah. Let’s talk about what I read and watched.

Thanks to a good friend, I was able to catch a 35mm double feature of both Jackie Brown and Out of Sight. Tarantino’s post Pulp Fiction film is a long, rambling meditation on getting old. It plays well on the big screen but I have a feeling its self-indulgences would be a bit too much at home.

That said, I enjoyed it much more now than when I first saw it in theaters. Soderbergh’s film, on the other hand, feels fresh and timeless. It’s a goddamn great movie. It’s practically perfect.

Mother is a contained sci-fi thriller that’s a real page turner. We’ve seen this story before — hundreds of times — but if it’s done right, if they get the right cast and director, it could be a home run.

And that’s all for now. Time to bang out that outline and prep for Pilar’s class.

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Writing Log Week 35 – September 5th, 2017

You know what I just realized? It’s goddamn September! The sun is setting on 2017, so let’s get through this quick because I need to script some pages (I know, I KNOW).

A brief tangent: on the drive from my day job to my evening writing spot, I listened to Pilar Alessandra’s podcast (it’s my prep for taking her class later this month), specifically the episode with Carole Krischner. Everything Carole said made sense. It’s all advice I need to take to heart. I can’t tell you how many times I said, “I need to be doing that.” I really, REALLY, need to find a great way to pitch myself. I need to have a great take on my own story (and, man, do I hate talking about myself).

Back on topic. Most of my writing work this week was about trying to crack the 2nd half of my pilot outline. It keeps falling flat and I think the issue might be that my characters aren’t well developed enough. They’re just not interesting enough to sustain the story. That’s why I’m looking for character development tools. I don’t believe in detailed character bios — most of that gets tossed out early on — but maybe I need to change my tune.

Regarding the movies I watched, did you know that Bill Paxton directed a movie? It’s called Frailty and it’s not half bad. I think he might have had the potential for a great second act career move into directing. And speaking of actors that direct, I finally saw Gone Baby Gone. Damn, it’s an assured directing debut but Amy Ryan’s performance is pure gold.

Thanks to my reading, I have learned one fact about myself that you’re going to hate: I don’t dig Neil Gaiman. I should but I did not enjoy the pilot for Good Omens, nor did I like the book of American Gods — I’m only watching the show because I love Bryan Fuller. I’ve also read a ton of Gaiman’s comics (albeit not Sandman) and I don’t love any of them either. I wish someone could help me understand and appreciate the Neil without feeling the need to beat me up and rescind my nerd credentials.

Insatiable, on the other hand, seems like a devilishly fun idea for a show about someone dealing with weight issues.

Okay, time to get this pilot done so I can prep for Pilar’s class.

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Writing Log Week 34 – August 28th, 2017

So the big disappointment this week is that I didn’t script any pages.

I had started writing my pilot last week but, when I went back to my beat sheet, I realized that it wasn’t quite as thorough as I hoped. That’s why I’m taking some time to bang out a full outline (12-20 pages for a 60 page script). Still, I did do more great research for the feature I hope to write in Pilar Alessandra’s class and the pilot I’ll write in Hollie Overton’s Script Anatomy class.

While I’m here, I should mention that I have it on good authority that both Writers on the Verge and the WB Writers Workshop have called applicants for interviews and… and I didn’t get a call this year.

Frankly, I’m not as glum about it as I thought I’d be. There’s still NHMC but maybe I need to think about expanding my resume in other, more creative ways. Maybe it’s time to write that comic book or make a fiction podcast. Something, anything, to help me stand out.

But I digress. This week I completed what must be my 10th viewing of Edge of Tomorrow. Goddamn, I love this movie. It want to call it a perfect sci-fi movie — yeah, I like it that much. I also watched The Invitation. A lot was made about this slow burn of a chamber piece. It’s… it’s not for me but everything it’s about is for me.

Lastly, I read the Black List script Free Guy. It’s like a live action LEGO movie, and to say any more would spoil the read.

(hint, hint)

I will say that the writing is funny, fasting moving and surprisingly emotional. If they can properly visualize the main conceit, this has the potential to be awesome.

That’s all for this week. Me, I’m gonna keep tearing though this outline. You, be excellent to each other.

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Writing Log Week 33 – August 21st, 2017

I left LaLaLand for a few days so that I could be IN THE PATH OF TOTALITY (sounds like a heavy metal song).

And crazy as it may seem, I got some good work done, too.

Yes, you read that right. I actually wrote a page of this pilot I’ve been brewing up for a while now. Here’s hoping this trickle leads to a tidal wave. I also did some quality work on an up coming feature and the next pilot I hope to start before the end of the year.

Locke is the Tom Hardy movie that all took place inside the car he was driving. It was much more enthralling than I could have guessed. I can confirm that The Dark Tower is a movie.

The Machine is a SyFy pilot based on a 2013 movie about AI becoming aware. Unit Zero is a lite action hour for Toni Collette that’s shows a lot of promise on the page.

Next week, more pages.

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Writing Log Week 32 – August 14th, 2017

This week I attended Tiki Oasis and I drank until I was like…

So you’ll understand why this was all I got done…

Mayday 109 is a survival thriller about John F. Kennedy’s sunken PT-boat. It’s a harrowing, fast moving story and they recently locked an up-and-coming leading man.

Continuing with the war theme, both of my movies this week were absolute master pieces. Dunkirk is a lesson in pure cinema while War for the Planet of the Apes proves you can get a great performance out of a damn dirty ape.

As for my own writing, I’m moving very slowly on my pilot. I have a solid beat sheet for the first half but I hit a road block. That’s why I did some work on my other two projects. And why I drank myself stupid.

Next week: pages!

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Writing Log Week 31 – August 7th, 2017

It’s that time of the year when we all realize that more of the year is behind us than ahead. Suddenly the reality of your goals come into sharp relief.

Now, one pilot isn’t good enough. I have to write a 2nd one. And I need to write a feature. And I will take classes for both, damnit!

But there’s always time for a movie. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a great looking movie. Atomic Blonde is basically a non-stop fight scene.

This week I read two pilots. Fox came this close to making The Beast but they couldn’t secure a lead. It’s a pity because the script injects a ton of energy into a well-worn TV genre. Unsolved promises to answer the question: who killed Biggie?

See ya next week.

 

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Writing Log Week 30 – July 31st, 2017

Post San Diego Comic Con is a recovery week. Hence, the low output:

Cop Car was the first film by Spider-Man: Homecoming helmer, Jon Watts.

From this first film, it’s easy to see why the best scenes from Spider-Man radiate with energy and suspense.

Frances Ha is the best Woody Allen movie Woody Allen never made — it’s absolutely wonderful.

The Man in the Rockefeller Suit feels like a fun variation on The Talent Mr Ripley but what kept tripping me up was the dense writing style. It’s not “bad” but it flies against the modern conventions that call for sparse descriptions and action blocks of three sentences or less.

Lastly, I’m ramping up on my pilot, so expect me to fall down that rabbit hole of late night writing marathons.

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