2015 Austin Film Festival Sitcom Spec Competition – October 1st, 2015

Last week we looked at the one-hour specs. This week let’s examine the sitcoms.


TV Sitcom Specs 2015 | Create infographics


  • Everyone is writing a Brooklyn Nine-Nine spec. Kinda surprised there weren’t more Workaholics scripts.
  • HBO dominates but Fox and FXX are close behind.
  • Sitcoms have a longer shelf life than dramas.

Congrats and see y’all in Austin!

Posted in Festivals, Writing

Consumed September 2015 – September 30th, 2015

Oh, September, you were a cruel, cruel month. This is how I hid from you?


Wayward Pines – What initially felt like a LOST ripoff eventually wandered into a thoroughly entertaining forest of bats**t crazy. Definitely worth the watch.


Inside Amy Schumer
Narcos – That pilot was awesome and I love the guy playing Pablo. Here’s hoping the rest of the series holds up.


Halt & Catch Fire – Finally finished season one. Pretty good. I’ll be looking forward to season two on Netflix.


Mad Men – I’d say that they stuck the landing. Bravo.


Blindspot – Man, can we give those billboards an Emmy for “Best Outdoor Ad”?


Bob’s Burgers

Sicario – Emily Blunt is my new favorite badass.


Small Town Heroes by Hurray for the Riff Raff – I like it but this one song sounds nothing like the rest of the album.

Rated R by Queens of the Stone Age – Sometimes I need to rage out to this song.

The Bones of What You Believe by Chvrches – I think they have a new album out soon and I am excited.

Robyn by Robyn – This album always makes me feel better.

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal – I dare you to not crave a peanut butter bar after reading this wonderful book.


The Sixth Gun – I’m down with the magical western genre.


The Walking Dead
Nextwave: Agents of HATEEllis and Immonen make great comics. Period.


Letter 44 – Goddamn Charles Soule writes addicting narratives.


Batman: Arkham Knight
Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Four
Captain America – The story veers into weird territory quickly but Rick Remender keeps it moving and JRJ keeps it looking sharp.


Six Gun Gorilla
Manifest Destiny – Goddamn I wish this was my comic.


The Midas Flesh
DC Comics: Bombshells
Red Sonja
The Bunker – This comic should be a TV show.


Star Wars: Rebel Heist
Tomb Raider

Borderlands 2 – Finally had to put this down…


Destiny – Only to pick up this beast of a game.


Okay, enough hiding. Back to work for me.


Posted in General

2015 Austin Film Festival One Hour Spec Competition – September 24th, 2015

This year I wrote a spec of The 100 for the Austin Film Festival and I washed out. Hell, even my mail carrier added insult to injury (thanks for crumpling my rejection).


Still, I’m an addict for infographics. Here’s a breakdown of the 55 one-hour specs that made it to the second round or better.

TV Drama Specs 2015 | Create infographics

If you’re looking for trends, here are a few generalizations I’d make.

-This was the year for The Blacklist. Also, I’m surprised that there wasn’t even one Walking Dead spec. And no one made it with The 100? I mean, there was at least one good one out there, right?

-ABC, Showtime and The CW got the most love this year. And only one HBO show made it?

-As usual, third season shows are the most popular to spec. Next year you’d better be ready with your spec of The Flash, Jane the Virgin and maybe even The 100.

Congratulations to everyone that made the cut.

Posted in Festivals, Writing

Failure Is Inevitable – September 17th, 2015

It’s been a tough month. One of those kick-ya-in-the-face-while-you’re-down kind of months.


So I was heartened to see this short post from writer Antony Johnston. In particular, this quote…

“Failure is the expected outcome of all comics. When failure occurs, we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and we make something new. So focus on the work.”

I needed to hear that from one of my favorite comic book writers.

September, you suck. You’ve shown me zero love. Fine. October is just around the corner.


Related/unrelated, I stumbled upon this interview with former Dark Horse Comics Editor-in-Chief Scott Allie. Days later I found this New York Times article. Both discuss unhappiness related to blindly climbing the corporate ladder.

Hey, universe, I heard ya.


PS, I want a puppy. And a hug. And a hug from a puppy.

Posted in Writing

Stealer of Sleep: Remembering Wes Craven – September 10th, 2015


Growing up hardcore Catholic meant I wasn’t allowed to watch Rated R movies. It also meant that I believed in the end-times and that they were coming for me specifically. That’s why I had a panic attack in the middle of a Von’s when I was 5 years old. Knowing that, you could understand that all it took to give me brutal nightmares was a newspaper ad featuring Freddy Kruger. Wes Craven was the stealer of sleep.

That is until I had the good fortune of meeting Wes as an adult and it all started with a spare Cirque du Soleil ticket.

I was in Las Vegas, by myself, to accept an award for a short film I’d made. Wes was my presenter and we were both ushered into a greenroom the size of a school auditorium. Like fighters, we were briefly allowed to shake hands before we were ushered into opposing corners. I was left alone in a my corner and told, “don’t move no matter what.”

And I didn’t. Wes, on the other hand, had at least a half dozen people from the organization chatting him up, taking pictures, what you would expect for a celebrity.

And then Wes made a bee-line for me.

“They gave me two tickets but I’m here alone. Want to go to Cirque du Soleil with me?”

“Um, yes.”

I barely remember the award ceremony but I’m positive any picture would show me wearing a crooked smile. I just kept thinking, “I’m going to see a show starring muscle bound clowns with the guy that convinced me that sleep equals death.”


That night we drank beer, ate very expensive sushi and just chatted. He was amused that I had only seen his films either because of peer pressure or in college classes. We shared stories about growing up in strict, religious families. We effused over our love of the great European masters – Fellini, Goddard and, most importantly, Bergman.

After the show, after I’d explained that I had indeed enjoyed the performance and any grimacing he saw on my face was due to the proximity of that stupid clown – I hate clowns – Wes invited me to give him a call once back in LA.

That’s when I really got to know the Wes Craven renown for his warmth, intelligence and generosity. This is the Wes Craven that not only gave me a break, he also offered up his mentorship. This is when I got to be friends with Wes.

Wes acquired one of my scripts and when I insisted on directing it myself, he offered his support. When I crashed and burned pitching him a remake of one of his older movies (think Albert Brooks from Broadcast News), he took me out for lunch and drinks, all the while reassuring me that it wasn’t that bad, and that next time it’ll only get better. When assigned to write a non-horror feature for him to direct, he’d see my frustration after every round of notes and always proclaimed, “you’re getting closer, next time you’ll nail it.”

Eventually, like many friendships, we saw each other less and less but we still kept in touch, traded Christmas cards.

The last time I saw him was at the ArcLight discussing Children of Men. We only had a minute to catch up but I was heartened to hear that he was coming back to both the big and small screen with an armload of projects.

I was heartbroken to learn of his passing from brain cancer.

If I had two more minutes to speak with him, I’d tell Wes how much I cherished our chats about playing the guitar, his trying to teach me about the birds I could find in Hollywood, and our schemes to charge another lunch to Bob Weinstein — thanks, Bob! I’d thank him for believing in me and for being a mentor and a friend. I hope that I honored him with the work I’ve done and that I honor him with the work I will do.


Wes Craven, 1939-2015.
We hold you in our hearts.
You haunt us in our dreams.
Rest in peace.

Posted in Off-Topic

I Am Writing To Regretfully Inform 2015 – September 3rd, 2015

Just got my first fellowship / contest rejection.


Honestly, I’ve been outright rejected so many times that I don’t need to do anything special to pick myself up… but I still might honor my rejection with an ice cream sandwich from Coolhaus.


Lastly, on a sad and unrelated note, Wes Craven passed away from brain cancer this past weekend. He meant a lot to me but as I’m still processing I’ll go into that next week.

Posted in Writing

Consumed August 2015 – August 31st, 2015

August is the kind of month where all I want to do is nap in front of the air-conditioner. Also, it doesn’t help that I’m dying to hear back from the fellowships and contests.

But nah, it’s fine, it’s cool, it’s awesome.


But you’re not here to hear me bitch and moan. No, you want to know what I watched, played, read, etc. Let’s go!

Hannibal – And so ends a great show. Fingers crossed that American Gods fills the void.


Turn – Still winding my way through the first season. I’m really liking this show but I’m still looking to get hooked.


Friends – Finally finished watching the whole damn series. I could ramble on about waning quality but it’d be a moo point.


Halt & Catch Fire – Only three episodes in, the series shows a lot of promise. Still, easily my favorite thing is the opening credits. They’re just so f**king rad!

Jane the Virgin – Wow! First, this show is a shining jewel of optimism in an otherwise gritty television landscape. Second, it feels like they’re burning through two scripts worth of plot in every episode so it never, ever, drags. Bravo.


Bloodline – I know this show is good but damn if it don’t feel like TV vegetables.

Kyle Chandler (John Rayburn) in the Netflix Original Series BLOODLINE. Photo Credit: Saeed Ayani © 2015 Netflix, Inc. All rights reserved.

Inside Amy Schumer
Seinfeld – Since I finished Friends I thought I’d start Seinfeld from the beginning. Holy s**t, season one is terrible!


Ant-Man – Right down the middle. Not great. Not awful. Except for that poor girl’s wig. Can we get her a better wig for the next movie? How about a more flattering hair cut?


Mr. Holmes – A f**king lovely movie. Everyone should see it.


Inside OutPixar does it again. Great voice casting.


Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation – The definition of summer fun. Plus Rebecca Furguson for the win!


Beat The Champ by The Mountain Goats – In light of Rowdy Roddy Piper’s passing, I’ve been listening to this on repeat.

All or Nothin’ by Nikki Lane – Lordy, how can you not love her? This song in particular is like Dusty Springfield redux.

White Men Are Black Men Too by Young Fathers – If you don’t find this song infectious then you might not be alive.

My Education by Susan Choi – I *loved* hating the main character. What a goddamn selfish child… but aren’t we all at that age? No, we’re not, but this girl…


The Nakeds by Lisa Glatt – Not bad. Somehow I didn’t fall in love with this book and I blame Susan Choi for writing such wonderfully rich characters. This book pales by comparison.


Batman: Arkham Knight
The Spirit
Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis – So apparently there’s an obsession with Emma Frost’s… big eyes…


Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman
Batman: The Black Mirror – It’s clear why this is heralded as a modern classic. Go read it ASAP.


Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Four
Suicide Risk
DC Comics: Bombshells – How can you not love this series? Honestly, DC digital is just crushing it.


Hawkeye vs. Deadpool

Borderlands 2 – Goddamn this game has its hooks in me good.


That’s all folks. Hopefully next month I’ll feel less like this…


Posted in General

Action Bound by the Page – August 27th, 2015

As I’m about to move from outlining a comic book short story to scripting it, I find myself stymied by limitless possibilities.

Why, you ask? Because they’re LIMITLESS!

Specifically, my story ends with an action sequence and according to popular consensus you’ll need a good number of pages for an action/fight sequence, anywhere from 2-6 pages. My challenge is to keep this comic short, around 2-6 pages.

You see my problem?

After a bit of research, I found this sweet interview with six artists talking about how they layout a page of action. The artists are…

Tradd Moore and Val Staples, All-New Ghost Rider #3, Page 18


Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire, Moon Knight #2, Page 16


Michael Walsh and Matthew Wilson, Secret Avengers #3, Pages 16-17


Notable bits of wisdom include…

-Paneling is like cinematography and editing in one.

-A strong gesture expresses speed and force (compare the three different uses of a punch).

-Action sequences have one “focus” panel per page. Everything else builds up to it, or breaks down from it.

-An action page should have tension, not just violence.

-Time moves slower in a wider shot. It can also move slower over a series of smaller shots.

-Color can influence pacing, too (the Secret Avengers use is a textbook perfect example).

Take a read, keep writing and don’t let up!


Posted in Writing

The Plan Redux – August 20th, 2015

A few weeks ago I posted a series of ambitious writing goals in the hope that by making them public I’d stick to them.

I am failing, spectacularly so.

Why? I have two reasons / excuses (yeah, I’m gonna be hard on myself). One, we’re going through a merger at the day job and it’s incredibly stressful and all consuming. Two, it’s hot as f**k in my apartment so I can’t write at home.

Stephen King sitting at Desk with hands coming towards the camera

How do I salvage my plan? How I do I get back on track? I have to change the plan.

Let’s be honest, that was an ambitious plan in all the wrong ways. I could be “ambitious” about one thing a week, be “good” about two things a week. My week could work like this…


Let’s break that down. A week is 168 hours. 56 hours is spent sleeping. 45 hours is spent working. That leaves 67 hours for personal time and creative work. Let’s devote 30 hours a week to personal stuff, like TV, eating, reading, drinking, long walks on the beach, internet porn, stuff like that. That leaves 37 hours for creative work. Let’s split that up into 18 hours for being “ambitious” with one project and 18 hours for being “good” across two projects; that last hour of the week I’ll pour out for my homies.


Seems rigid but not out of the question, right? (I think I’m wrong but let’s go with me “being right” for now). Therefore, I can’t book more than 3 creative projects per week.

Great! Now how do I put this into practice?


Schedule. My. Time.

I have to book my creative time the same way I book time to meet with my boss or train an employee. So let’s say I write for 2 hours Monday through Thursday; that’s 8 hours. Friday I take off. Saturday I write for 7 hours; that’s 15 hours for the week. Sunday I write for 3 hours and I’ve fulfilled my weekly requirement.

Right now the crazy part of my mind tells me that this is doable while the panicked half tells me I’ll fail the first day. Maybe if I broke up my time? It doesn’t have to be 2 contiguous hours, right? It could be an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening.


Okay, let’s see if this’ll work for me. Wish me luck.

Posted in Writing

Mine That IP – August 13th, 2015

Everything old is new again, especially if it has fallen into the public domain. Apparently the hot trend in screenwriting is to find a new take on an old story, or as the kids are calling it: IP Mining.

Like Robin Hood told from the Sheriff of Nottingham’s point of view.

Or what if Snow White were the hero of her own story?

Or how about Santa Claus’ sexy early years.


Actually, that image is from a different “Santa Claus: The Early Years” story. If you’re in the movie industry, you’re aware of this article / Twitter rant and how this guy got his foot in the door with Winter’s Knight.

If you want to break into the movie business — I’m talking about big movies, not indie films elbowing to get into Sundance — then you need to mine IP.

So, can I interest you in Adam & Eve, Monster Hunters?



Posted in Writing