17 April 2014

12 in 12: The May Script

In deciding what to write for this 12 in 12 endeavor, I've found myself going to ideas I had years ago and have accumulated a bunch of notes and research for.  It makes the whole prepping period a lot easier since I'm not starting from scratch.  And I'm finally writing these stories and they don't have to live and fester in my head anymore.  Getting them on paper -- yes, I print a hard copy of each script because there's a certain magic in holding a stack of pages you've created -- means I don't have to wonder about how they'll turn out.  The stories are real, tangible.  Sure, they're gonna need some rewriting and revisions, but the hard part -- actually writing them -- is done.
The script I'm diving into for May is a script that, as far as I can tell from my notes and print-outs, I've been rolling about in my head for about four years now.  I don't know where the initial idea came from -- I'd guess from constantly clicking the Random Article link on Wikipedia -- but I have the plot worked out and I feel like I already know the characters.

16 April 2014

"Recently Viewed" Explanation

Just a way to break up the continual 12 in 12 updates, I've gotten a few questions (well, one question a few times) about the "Recently Viewed" column over there on the left. 

It's basically a running list of movies I've been watching.  I link each title to its IMDb page and mark first-time viewings with an asterisk (*).

And I guess that's about it.

15 April 2014

12 in 12: The Road Ahead (Part II)

Look, Mom, no hands!
And now it's whatever time you want it to be.
The trouble that comes up when attempting to write 12 feature screenplays in 12 months is having 12 ideas/stories that grab you.  I've got pages of ideas, characters, quotes, scenes, locations, etc. that I use for inspiration and to include in a script -- but usually I have the luxury of reading something I've written down and sitting with it, letting it roll about in my brain and finding the best place to use that little nugget I felt so necessary to jot down.  But with a deadline... there's little to no time to luxuriate in a clever turn of phrase or quirky character trait.  With writing a feature in a month, time is more than of the essence:  it is everything and anything, and there is definitely not enough of it.

10 April 2014

12 in 12: The Long and (Mostly) Short of "Standers"

Something like this... but more ominous.
Much more ominous.
This month's script is called Standers, about a married couple staying at an isolated cabin in order to try and work out their problems only to notice strange figures standing around the cabin -- and getting closer...
Scary, right?  If not, give this a whirl:  Next time you get in a rural area, what until dark, then look out a window and imagine if you saw someone/something just standing there, staring at you.  And everything you checked back, they/it was closer than before.  Hey, it freaked the hell out of my mother-in-law.  She lives on Lake Michigan with neighbors living at least 100 or so yards away -- so not completely isolated, but there's still some distance between houses.

08 April 2014

12 in 12: The Road Ahead (Part I)

When I was in college -- which actually wasn't that long ago (just 4 months) -- my professor for Advanced Screenwriting had students publicly (in the class) state what their goal was for the course.  In advanced screenwriting, you had a few choices for what you could work on, but as far as I remember, everyone chose to write a feature-length screenplay over the 15 week course (oh, what luxury).  So we'd each take a piece of paper and hand write something to the effect of, "I, Zach Jansen, will write a feature-length rough draft screenplay for Advanced Screenwriting," and then sign it and read it aloud.
The point of it, of course, was to give you incentive to complete your script.  It was basically working on our innate psychology of fear and not wanting to be embarrassed.  If you didn't finish the script, you've got about 15 or so people who know it.  You have a slip of paper that mocks you.  But that's the negative point of view; conversely, it does get a fire roaring behind you, almost compelling you to finish the script.  A "your success is everyone's success" kind of thing.

07 April 2014

12 in 12: The "Second" Script

I appreciate the effort to decorate like this,
but if someone's just going to eat it, what's the point?
In February, I wrote a comedy script called Bake Sale -- which, despite the title, is a very R-rated story.  It's about a lowlife dad who's never there for his kids, but tries to be better when his ex-wife tells him that she and the kids are moving because the school's shutting down the band program.  So the dad volunteers to organize a bake sale -- he works at a bakery (as a delivery driver), so he's got an in.  Or so he thinks.  Anyhow, things go awry and there are ups and downs and of course things work out in the end -- though maybe not as intended. 

The point here is while I only started the 12 in 12 in March, I kind of got a nice head start with Bake Sale.  I didn't have any anxiety that you'd expect when attempting to write 12 features in a year when I started writing the March script.  Having just finished one script in about three weeks, I had confidence in starting that script because I knew I could finish a screenplay in the timeframe.  Also, there weren't any jitters with it being the "first" script.  It felt more like a continuation of the routine I began in February.

28 March 2014

12 in 12: The (First) Homestretch

The first month in the 12 in 12 experiment/challenge is winding down basically just the weekend left.

I can assure you I'm much further along than this picture indicates.
So how's it gone?

26 March 2014

12 in 12: The Work Space

I don't get a lot of time to write.  Only a couple hours a day, really, where I can get away from everything and sit down at my laptop and type.  But that's writing actual script pages (which I call scripting):  Throughout the day I'm usually reading and researching, breaking down a story, and outlining a script (with good old fashion pen and paper) when I get a chance -- which is tough with a 4-year-old and a 3-year-old demanding about 95% of my attention when they're awake.  Still, I do what I can, when I can.

It's all about getting to this moment.
But with scripting, I'm on my own.  My wife is awake to handle the boys (she works third shift and sleeps during the day) and I'm off to my work area to write.  In the basement.  The cold, dark basement...

20 March 2014

Let's Start At the Very Beginning -- Even If It's Really Not That Good

I wrote my first feature-length screenplay in 2002.  I had written two short scripts before that -- and produced one of them -- and honestly had no idea what I was doing beyond formatting elements (dialogue, action/description paragraphs, etc.) correctly.  Well, that's not entirely true:  I had read Syd Field's screenwriting book and another book about how to write a movie in three weeks, so I knew about Three Act Structure and "show, don't tell" and how certain plot points should happen on specific pages*.

So with that knowledge in hand, as well as Microsoft Word Processor on an early 2000s HP desktop, I set forth to write what would become the screenplay I don't really talk about:  California.

It's called California because I thought Hollywood would be too obvious. 
Plus, I was in love with the Tom Petty song of the same name.

17 March 2014

Just for Fun; or The Red Elephant

There's really no rhyme or logical explanation (at least one I'm willing to admit to) for this, but I'm thinking about something and want to see what happens.

You ready?  Okay...