Posts Tagged ‘Pilar Alessandra’


Writing Log Week 37 – 18. September, 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 – 11. September, 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 – 5. September, 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.

Posted in Writing

I’m Gonna Git Edumacated – 10. December, 2015

I’ve been an absolute demon when it comes to writing this year — more on that in a later post. Still, sometimes I feel like a total slack jawed yokel.


Why? I suffer from a near fatal case of “Impostor Syndrome“. This is why I’m always pushing myself. This is why I’m in four writing groups. And this is why I’m looking for a screenwriting class in 2016.

Here’s what I am considering:

UCLA Extension – I took two of their classes earlier this year. One was great. The other was okay. I might take another but I feel like I need to branch out, find something that will push me to the next level even faster.

Script Anatomy – I know two people that have taken their classes and both gave glowing reviews. To boot, one did the NBC/Universal Writers on the Verge program and the other is currently in the WB Writers Workshop, so their recommendations have weight. I also dig that S.A. is almost exclusively geared towards those seeking a television career and those applying to the popular spring fellowships.

Writing Pad – I have one friend that’s currently taking their TV Comedy Pilot class and so far she finds it valuable. The classes offered cover both features and television, as well as other formats like publishing and memoir writing.

Corey Mandell – One guy in my writing group took one of Corey’s classes and he couldn’t stop raving. Corey seem to offer only a couple of classes, but maybe his strength lies in teaching the basics, laying a rock solid foundation, instead of diving into specific topics.

Pilar Alessandra – I’ve been listening to her podcast after meeting a writer that was devoted to her (I should note that this writer then went on to attend the WB Writers Workshop and is currently staffed on The 100). I think Pilar has a lot to offer feature writers but I know she’s new to teaching television. Then again, like I said, my acquaintance got into a popular writing program and got staffed, so Pilar must be pertinent when it television.

Jen Grisanti – I first heard of Jen at the Austin Film Festival where writers from Los Angeles, Seattle and Austin extolled her virtues. I’ve met a few people that have taken her teleseminars — she doesn’t really offer classes, per se — and they’ve had good things to say.

So, have you taken classes from any of the above? If so, did you love it? Hate it? Indifferent? Maybe you could offer me better advice if I told you what I’m looking to get out of a class.

One, I’m looking for a class, not another degree, or an ongoing sequence of learning, or a cult. At best, I might take two classes this year. It all depends on time and budget.

Two, I’m looking to concentrate on television. I’m looking to jump into television either by getting into a fellowship or by begging my friends for a job. Yes, I want to write features and develop comic book ideas but the tip of the spear is TV writing.

Three, I want an in-person class. I want people that will judge me for being tardy and guilt me about deadlines.

Four, I’m looking to write a new pilot or rewrite one of the two pilots I wrote this year… but I might take a class to nail a spec script — yes, I’m that serious about getting into one of big fellowships.

So, do you have a suggestion for me?


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