What’s The Most Popular Drama to Spec in 2014? – September 12th, 2014

First, guess who writes a blog and just had his spec for The Americans place in the 2014 Austin Film Festival?


Now, this post isn’t all about back-slaps and high-fives. Like last year, I took the list of second rounders and semi-finalists and created a homemade infographic that answers “what is the most popular show to spec?” Note, I really did make this all on my own in Illustrator, so it’s a little rough.

Here are the number of specs that placed by show (be sure to click on the graphic below to see it nice and big).


Posted in Festivals, Writing

Final Showdown: Hannibal vs Arrow, VOTE! – September 5th, 2014

Holy s**t! In a last minute rally the good Doctor Lecter devoured the Agents of SHIELD.

Hannibal - Season 1

And so we are down to our final two contenders. Both shall enter but only one will emerge the victor.



If you’re up on your geekery, you know that Arrow has been casting like crazy and, unlike Marvel with Agents of SHIELD, they aren’t afraid of using DC characters in the show. Hell, if you read my last post, you know that a bit of casting news just delivered my spec idea a fatal bullseye to the heart. That’s fine. I’ll just have to dig up a different baddie for my script. It’s a challenge I’m willing to tackle.

In the other corner we have the fever dream that is Hannibal. I won’t lie, writing a Hannibal scares me. It’s highly serialized and more about mood and imagery than plot but it’ll be a great challenge for me. Plus I’ll have to dig up at least one amazing recipe where I could substitute the usual protein for that most dangerous game, man. That’s a tasty proposition (I couldn’t resist).

Okay, this is it. Will I be cozying up to the Emerald Archer


or Hannibal the Cannibal?


Will I be crafting passionate moments between masked avengers…


Or plumbing the depths of my darkness for something like this?


Are the young and cross-fit my cast…


Or cops, killers and cooks?


I leave it in your hand.

Which show should I spec next: Hannibal or Arrow?

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Posted in Writing

One Less Arrow In My Quiver – September 1st, 2014

Although the new fall TV season has yet to start, and the TV writing fellowships have barely started sending notifications — already got my form letter from Warner Brothers — I’m already planning my next spec. That’s right, I’m already brainstorming ideas for the three final contenders in my spec challenge: Agents of SHIELD, Arrow and Hannibal. Hell, I’ll even go so far as to tell you that my Arrow spec idea featured Cupid.


The spec practically writes itself, no?

Why am I so willing to spill the beans? Because they just cast a Cupid and that pretty much kills my spec idea. Still, that doesn’t deter me. I’ll figure out a different story to tell, minus a pretty badass origin for Cupid. Actually, it all depends on which show I spec. Maybe you guys will pick Marvel over DC, or you’ll vote in the good doctor. It’s up to you. So vote.

Which is a better show to spec, Agents of SHIELD or Hannibal?

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Posted in Industry, Writing

What’s In A Name? – August 28th, 2014

To give something a name. It is a great power, an inherit right of humanity (one that’s even expressed in the bible). The way I was trained, the same reverence and gravitas goes into titling a work. Titles should be short, strong and evocative. At most they should be two words. You could use a preposition, maybe an article (with the definite article preferable to the indefinite). The title should be a noun, it should be a thing. Examples of great titles are…



(both the band and the album title)




Right now I’m working on a webcomic and I’m having a hell of a time coming up with a title. My philosophy of naming isn’t working. I’m trying to convey the entirety of a complicated and packed idea in one to two words and I keep coming up short. I’ll get a title that expresses 2/3 of my concept. Then a friend told me that I need to go in the opposite direction. That I need a crazy, sprawling title. I need something that can capture the main characters, the setting, the time, and the dark humor. I need a title like…




Ack! I was hoping to launch the webcomic this October but that seems unlikely. Once I lock down a title, I can pick up a web domain. Then I can approach artists. If I’m incredibly lucky, I might be ready to launch by Thanksgiving. Sorry, I know it looked like I was heading towards an announcement but really this post is about marking my progress (or in this case, a setback). Regardless, some of you will be getting an email from me asking for your opinion about a title. To those lucky few that are chosen, thanks in advance.

Oh, and in the meanwhile, don’t forget to vote in my spec challenge. That’s still happening and we’re down to our last couple of rounds. By next Thursday I’ll announce the winner: Agents of SHIELD or Hannibal. After that, it’s the finals. So please, vote early, vote often (you’ve figured out that you can vote at least once from each device, right?).

Which is a better show to spec, Agents of SHIELD or Hannibal?

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Posted in Writing

The Lady Guardian – August 21st, 2014

AND I’M BACK! To all that missed me, I missed you too (I can’t tell you how much I missed my little lappy). As a “welcome back,” I’m posting on a Thursday (also, my buddy Dave said it’s the best day to post) but enough of the chit-chat. Let’s get to it.

As you already know, I’m a huge fan of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Behold my surprise when I found out that the original screenwriter, the first credited female writer on a Marvel movie, also came out of the Marvel Screenwriting Program (or whatever they’re calling it, but I’m gonna stick with that name for this post). Ladies and gentlemen, meet Nicole Perlman.


Recently, she did a talk over at Meltdown Comics, sponsored by the Writers Guild Foundation, and she spilled plenty of beans. If I may abbreviate her bio up until the Marvel Screenwriting Program (MSP), she grew up a science nerd, attended NYU as a film production major, wrote a feature script about the Challenger investigation and took a very long water bottle tour across Hollywood until she was invited to join the MSP. It was there that she and her group of peers were given a list of “C” level characters (her words, not mine) to choose from. She chose the Guardians of the Galaxy. BTW, she was not a comic nerd, so she spent her first six weeks reading as many Guardians comics as possible (yes, we can all be jealous).

While there, she wrote a Black Widow treatment, but dropped that to keep working on Guardians.


An interesting side note, at that time the MSP wasn’t paying by the draft or step, as is customary in Hollywood. They paid an annual salary and in return expected as many drafts as they felt necessary, so Nicole said the road to Guardians is easily littered with drafts that go into the double digits.

Another tangent: at one point, all the MSP writers were asked to take a pass on the Thor script; I’ve met at least two other non-credited writers that have taken a stab at the first Thor. I guess Marvel felt Thor was a big risk so they took every opportunity to source ideas for the movie. Anyway, apparently the Marvel heads loved Nicole’s work on the Jane Foster scenes so they brought her in to polish Natalie Portman’s dialog.


It wasn’t until around Avengers when it looked like Guardians might actually get the green light — you know there must be a stack of Marvel script just waiting to get made, right? Nicole said she was competing against two other Marvel properties for the release date. As there were plenty of rumors of Katee Sackhoff taking Marvel meetings around this time, I’m gonna guess Captain Marvel might have been one of those projects. I mean, you see it too, right?


Once Nicole’s script was selected, and James Gunn was picked to direct, he  started doing his own revisions to the script. Two things Nicole said that he brought to the project were his well known humor and Nebula, who wasn’t in any of Nicole’s drafts.


In fact, Nicole said that she always hoped that she could feature the Thanos / Death relationship (that’s Death, as in Death, not just a girl named Death) in her script but Marvel felt that the cosmic universe was a big enough risk, so they stayed away from their more metaphysical characters, at least for now.


Now, I know know some of you are green with envy at Nicole’s meteoric climb but it seems to me that her story is yet another of these overnight successes that took a decade. And in the end, she came out ahead by sticking to what she found interesting and not being swayed by the fashionable or hip market trends.

Nicole, keep kicking ass because I’m dying to see what you do next.

Posted in Industry, Writing

HawkGuy Lays It Out – August 18th, 2014

Okay. If you’re reading this, it means I’ve missed posting to my blog two weeks in a row. Why? Because my computer has been having kernel panics so I had to send it away.


I know, lame.

Posted in Off-Topic

The Giving Guardians – August 11th, 2014

My computer has been acting up all week and it really took a dive this weekend. Therefore, I don’t have a post for today but I wanted you, my reading audience, to know that I’m thinking of you.


Hopefully I’ll have a post later this week, for sure by next Monday.

Posted in Off-Topic

I Can’t Draw So I Need You – August 4th, 2014

A few posts back I told you that I wanted to write and draw my own comic strip. Then I saw this…


Holy Hell! If a fictional GameBoy can make a comic that good, I’m screwed.

Sigh. I have to accept my talents, and drawing isn’t one of them. I can’t draw. Period. I could practice every day but it would take me a couple of years before I’m ready for prime-time. Therefore, I need you… provided you’re an artist that wants to work on a comic strip with me.

What can I tell you about the project? It’s a comic strip, 3-4 panels per strip. It’ll have a punch line per strip, but it might not always be a “funny, ha-ha” punchline; I plan to indulge Dark Tony on this one. It’ll be serialized, I’m thinking 100 strips, at which point it’ll end–definitively. Almost all the main characters are animals, cute animals, with terrible secrets and inappropriate desires.

I know, it sounds crazy, but it’ll all make more sense once I have my pitch fully worked out

Change up: let’s talk about the art style. Right now I’m in love with the work of Jake Lawrence, so in my mind’s eye the characters have this vibe…


There will also be humans, with structured situational humor, so some strips might feel like this…


But there’s also a sci-fi / fantastical angle, so I will need someone that can draw monsters and robots, or animal monster robots, like…


Eventually I’ll post something on Deviant Art but first I want to reach out to my readers. Are any of you artists? Do you have a significant other that’s an artist? If yes, then drop me a line. Let’s talk and maybe we can make beautiful comics together. Who knows, you could be the scissors to my denim jacket.


Posted in General, Writing

Guardians Makes Me Wish I Were 12 Again – July 31st, 2014


If the trailer makes you feel that good, the actual movie will make your little nerd heart explode.

Okay, I’m not supposed to say anything about the movie (stupid NDA) but I will say two things.

First, watching Guardians of the Galaxy makes me wish I were twelve years old again. Why? Because, at that age, I would have loved the crap out of the movie.


Second, if Marvel can make this a hit, they are officially entering the Pixar phase where they could make anything and not screw it up.

And while I have you here, hasn’t this been an excellent summer for science fiction? GotG is great. Edge of Tomorrow was maybe my favorite movie of the summer and Snowpiercer might be the most ambitious movie of the year.

I know TV has been having its moment in the sun but movies, you’re doing all right.

Posted in Industry

Agents of SHIELD vs Hannibal, VOTE! – July 28th, 2014

In a battle of the titans, the emerald archer clearly wins.


And now were are down to a trio of awesome shows.


So let the penultimate battle begin!


While both of these shows are well regarded, there are a ton of naysayers. Many have complained about the molasses-like pacing and lack of superheroes in Agents of SHIELD. Still, Marvel believes enough in the show to build a block of programming around the premise with the addition of Agent Carter.


And they have a new comic book series with superstar writer Mark Waid launching this fall.


As for Hannibal, it might be the most buzzed about network show that keeps getting renewed despite very low ratings.


It’s so well regarded that it got show creator Bryan Fuller a shot at adapting Neil Gaiman‘s American Gods, a property notoriously known as being unable to be adapted into television. Just ask HBO. They spent years trying to make a show from this novel before giving up the rights.

So, which is the better show for me to spec next year? Will it be the superheroes or the serial killer? Cast your voice either below of in the sidebar.

Which is a better show to spec, Agents of SHIELD or Hannibal?

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Posted in Writing