29 January 2009

do what you do

I was reminded (again) this week how often the simple truths seem to elude us, or -- worse -- quietly tiptoe away and hide themselves even after we've already learned these truths once or ten times before (usually at the expense of some humiliation or personal pain).

I am a screenwriter. By that I mean "I write screenplays." The fact that I have yet to actually sell a screenplay remains just an annoying detail in this tragicomic opera. The central point is I write.

Except, you'd be amazed at how easy it is to somehow forget that or lose sight of that. To think that somehow the actual, ya know, "writing" part of "screenwriting" just sorta magically happens -- unseen, unnoticed and on its own, kinda like grass growing. Instead of chaining yourself to the keyboard, you fret and fiddle with all the various other semi-related aspects of the game rather than the core critical tasks.

Such behavior is, of course, high-grade idiocy. Self-delusion of the most destructive sort, for you have no real business in expecting to enjoy much success unless you remember to actually DO what you DO.

Eyes on the prize... Focus on the goal... Know your role... Dance with the one that brung ya....

All of these are variations on the same underlying theme: that in any task, there is that simple undeniable part of the task which **is** the task.

Fire fighter.

Lion tamer.

Pole dancer.

Ditch digger.

Screen writer.

We can find ourselves distracted and diluted by all sorts of perfectly sensible-seeming side ventures and secondary tasks -- the classic "vacuuming before finals" behavior where we become almost desperate to find a legitimate justification for not actually doing what it is we most need to be doing. It's a nasty dangerous habit. One that I find myself prone to far too often and too easily.

So it feels good to look up and get back on-task. To resume course and get back to basics, to take care of job one so that even if none of those cute and amusing secondary tasks are addressed, you still can look back at the day's efforts and realize that you did some good.

So today's scripture lesson is simple. "Do what you do."

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

dominus vobiscum B

27 January 2009

the majesty of mayhem

I was reminded earlier this week of how truly jaw-droppingly beautiful scenes of death and combat can be, if done well, and I guess that realization is what sent me back to a script that had rotated to the back of the current crowd of "open" projects -- the challenge of penning a scene filled to near-overflowing with violence and blood and animal brutality committed by humans yet which still possesses a poetry and delicacy akin to romance.

So I spent the day finally putting to paper a cool early story moment wherein our hero and our heroine meet for the first time, and there is no dialog, and no love in any traditional sense, instead only violence and mayhem and gore and terror, yet at the end of teh scene the odd relationship between these two is clear and unshakable, even with no dialog or moments of emotional bonding. We start and end the scene with our hero admiring the peacefulness of gulls circling overhead, but where the image at the outset seems quiet and tranquil, at the end it seems tragic and final.

Of course, it helps to have some cool music swirling around in the periphery, and the magnificent sounds from Crouching Tiger somehow fit this mood and moment even though there is zero connection or similarity between that tale and the one I am spinning, and yet... there's an emotional component common to both: threads of love, and loss, and life, and death, and heartbreak, and honor, and impossible sacrifices.

I hope this thing bears fruit. There's too much of it already clear in my head for me to remain sane if this goes for nothing.

And so I dive back into a ballet of blood, dreaming of brutality and mayhem.

And I feel more than fine.
old school B

15 January 2009

Patron of screenwriting Gee Nicholl dies

So leads the sad headline in today's Hollywood Reporter.

If you're a screenwriter -- especially an aspiring screenwriter -- then the name "Nicholl" is (or surely should be) instantly familiar to you. The Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting are the ne plus ultra of screenwriting contests. Win a Nicholl, and you are launched, baybee. Hell, even an honorable finish in the Nicholl carries more weight and prestige than most contest wins will ever hope to warrant.

From the story:

After her husband's death in 1980, Gee Nicholl, knowing that Don had long spoken of helping new writers get started, provided funding first for grants for students in the screenwriting program at Stanford University and then for the Academy's Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting Program.

In the 24 years since its inception, the Nicholl Fellowships has become one of the world's most prestigious awards for amateur writers. The program has given boosts to the careers of screenwriters such as Susannah Grant ("Erin Brockovich"), Andrew Marlowe ("Air Force One") and Mike Rich ("Finding Forrester") as well as to Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jeffrey Eugenides ("Middlesex").
-- Hollywood Reporter

Mrs. Nicholl was too ill to attend the awards dinner that incredible year when i was lucky enough to be among the ten finalists, so I never had a chance to shake her hand and tell her "on behalf of tens of thousands of dreamers whose names you will never know but whose hopes your generosity buoyed and sustained, thanks." The world could use more folks like her.


Full story here.

14 January 2009

not posting don't mean there's nothing worth posting

Cuz there is.

Cool stuff -- and I mean insanely cool stuff -- is rumbling and grumbling behind the scenes.

I hope there's some good news to post about soon. And if not, I'll at least have a lot of stuff to grouse and complain about.

But this is goooood...
fingers crossed B