13 June 2014

More Posts To Come, I Assure You

Just a quick update for the lack of activity:  On Monday I sent out a bunch of query lettersSo last weekend I was pretty much working on getting addresses correct and perfecting my letter and stamping envelopes and everything else that goes with sending out a lot of mail.

A couple days ago, I got a request for the script.  And today, I got another.  So I've been going over the script intensely, trying to find any proofing errors and story issues (I didn't find any, but I'm sure there are tons...) in order to know that I'm sending out the best draft of the script that I can.

And now it's the weekend.  Which means if the people who wanted to read the script do read it right away I'm not hearing anything until Monday.  But who knows who might contact me about the script then -- optimistic, I know, but I wasn't even expecting to get one response, so I'll take the good times and run with it.

Anyhow, I should be getting to some more 12 in 12 posts and updates over the weekend.  The current script, Greyhound 1170, is going well and I'm excited about how it's developing, especially one of the lead characters (more on why just the one later), and I do want to share what my process has been like this month.

So stay tuned, I'll be back.

05 June 2014

UPDATE: The July Script

Just a heads up that the July script will not be discussed too much -- or at all -- as it's moved on to Round 3 of the Movie Poet feature screenplay contest.  I don't expect to win since I've only just gotten by in the first two rounds, but based upon the reviews/comments, I got the reactions I was hoping for.  I'm kind of stumped about the script as a whole, but I've been focusing more on Greyhound 1170 and getting query letters figured out (and yes, because I don't have email addresses to query I'm sending actual, honest-to-goodness letters via the United States Postal Service).

Anyhow, below is a list of Movie Poet's Round 2 results and the screenplays moving on to Round 3.  Keep in mind that the contest is done anonymously, so no one will know for sure who wrote what until October 1st when the final results are announced. 

First, the results:

04 June 2014

The December Script

Even though for all intents and purposes I stopped caring about politics a few years ago -- only thing that seems to matter now (which the Supreme Court backed up) is how much money you have rolling into your pockets -- I still keep a view from the sidelines.  Besides, you've gotta know what's going on in the macro in order to have something to chat about in the micro. 

The thing is, politic debate in the U.S. is just too much of a "I'm more right than you" argument and has little to do with making persuasive points and counterpoints.  Over the last two decades, the best accord between the right and left has been this:

And to be honest, I've gotten just about about enough abortions and miniature American flags as I care to get.

28 May 2014

12 in 12: When 25% Is Passing

To those just joining this blog, I'd like to say thanks, really appreciate your patronage.  And I should also explain the impetus for the dramatic increase in posts this year (this one's the 13th of May -- one-upping the total of 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 combined).

Fortunately, the math I'll use is not as complicated.
It's complicated, to be sure, but not as.
In February, I was finishing up a script called Bake Sale, an R-rated comedy that I had note-carded years ago but finally got around to writing.  Not having school and homework to worry about helped open up my schedule to write.  And my sons had reached an age where constant supervision wasn't an absolute necessary (they're 4 and 3, so yeah, they need Mom and Dad still, but at least there's no more diaper changing to be concerned with).  Anyhow, the point is, now that I was no longer a student but an actual screenwriting degree holding person, I felt I should get to writing screenplays full-time -- Bake Sale is the seventh feature I've written, so it's not like I was slacking or anything before then.

27 May 2014

Commencement and Screenwriting

I graduated from college this past December.  I got a late start (meaning I didn't start my post-secondary education until a few years after high school) and went part-time over 6.5 years.  While in school, my wife and I bought a house, had two kids, and I sold or had a few screenplays optioned.  I did well enough in my classes -- even the non-writing ones that I had little to no interest in -- and was fortunate enough to be named one of seven Outstanding Students with my graduating class (of around 1000 or so).

We were actually handed medallions at the ceremony.
Diplomas were mailed out two weeks later,
after grades were finalized. 
You know, just in case.
I was also asked/selected to give the student commencement address.  I think because there's "writing" within my major it was presumed that I could come up with a speech, no problem.  And sure, the speech wasn't that difficult, but I'd never spoken in front of more than a few dozen people at one time.  And there going to a give or take a few thousand watching and listening to me.

26 May 2014


In an effort to branch out and reach more potential readers -- you know, beyond me and the three other people who frequent this blog -- I'm trying new things for F*** No! But There's A Poster.  And the best way to do that in the 21st century is through social networking sites.

As such, I've created a Facebook page and a Twitter account.

Honestly:  I don't know what most of these are for.

Unforgiven: A Genre Analysis

Of all the genres in the history of American cinema the Western is easily the most popular -- or at least the most abundant.  The 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s saw hundreds upon hundreds of films depicting various aspects of the American West.  Though the genre is not as prevalent now, Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven (1992), has proven itself to be one of the best examples of the genre.  The film takes a revisionist approach to Western conventions and unlike classic Westerns leaves viewers with many questions about what constitutes good and bad or right and wrong people.  Despite the ambiguities, Unforgiven still follows, often modifies, and sometimes violates Western standards.  This includes its presentation of stock characters, settings, plot and story events, and issues/questions that Westerns raise.

23 May 2014

High Noon: One Shot for a Shot

While there are many relationships that carry more weight throughout Fred Zinnemann’s High Noon (1952), the one that sets all events into motion is the one between Will Kane and Frank Miller.  While most of the main events of this relationship take place before the film starts -- including Miller’s arrest, threat of revenge upon Kane, and subsequent pardons -- it is the outlaw’s imminent arrival to Hadleyville that eventually brings the two men together by the film’s end.  By the time Kane and Miller share a shot -- it’s worth noting that the characters only have one scene and three shots together –- the nature of their relationship is that of enemies.  Miller is returning to Hadleyville to kill Kane for sending him to prison five years earlier and Kane is staying in town to finish his last piece of business as marshal.

The relationship is very combative, as the single scene involving the men is the final shoot-out/showdown of the film.

21 May 2014

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

It's a strange thing:  When you've written a lot of screenplays, you get this peculiar ability to know, before you even write a page, about how long the script will be.  I knew Standers was going to be less than 80 pages -- though 12 less did throw me.  When I wrote Bake Sale in February, I knew it was going to be one of the longest scripts I'd written.  And it came to 122 pages, which is way too long for a comedy, but starting it I was sure it'd be somewhere over 115, so I wasn't surprised.

I bring this up because when I first got the inspiration for The Education of Tobias Smith, my intention was to write it as a short script (15-20 pages) for a class.  I got about five pages in and realized that it was going to take more than the 20 page maximum I was allotted.  So I put the idea aside and wrote Treading Water instead.  

And Treading Water not only got produced but led to a re-write job, so I suppose it all kind of worked out.

20 May 2014

High Noon: The Disintegration of Kane and Harv

This was written for a class 
so it might come off a bit more academic than a usual essay/article.

I figured since I'm working on a Western, I might as well post some essays about some of the better films in the genre.  I've got a couple involving High Noon and one about Unforgiven.  I really like the Unforgiven one, so I'll save that for a bit, which means I'll be setting the table with some takes on High Noon.

It's best with the Oscar-winning song.
One of my favorite Westerns -- rather, favorite films overall -- is Fred Zinnemann’s High Noon (1952).  There’s so much story and plot that happens in just less than 90 minutes that you wonder how the filmmakers did it.  Among the many plots woven into the intricate narrative is the deterioration of the mentor-mentee relationship between Will Kane, the former/current Marshall of Hadleyville, and his deputy Harvey “Harv” Pell.

19 May 2014

12 in 12: Schooling for "Education"

One thing I've been dealing with while writing scripts in different genres than I'm used to is trying to write the script right.  By that I mean less about finding the proper words to use and more about establishing the appropriate tone, mood, and atmosphere -- what I like to call the flavor of a script/movie.

Probably the definitive revisionist Western.
With The Education of Tobias Smith, I've been watching a lot of Westerns.  To be honest, I've got maybe dozen Westerns I really like and watch more than I actually care to admit.  For the most part, the films would fit the revisionist sub-genre.   And to be honest, that's probably where Education will fall into:  Most revisionist Westerns are non-Western Westerns because of how they approach the generic tropes established by traditional/classic Westerns.  Good guys don't always wear white hats, the outlaw has more ethics and morals than the law enforcer, Native Americans and Mexicans aren't necessarily bad because they're a minority.  Beyond something like Stagecoach, which didn't invent the genre but has since defined the genre, I subscribe to the school of thought that the best Westerns are revisionist Westerns.

18 May 2014

The November Script

This is a script idea that first came to me when I was writing What Happened to Christine in 2011.  Christine was written for a screenwriting class, and in that class we'd have regular writing exercises each meeting.  Some of the exercises pertained to the scripts we were working on -- writing our protag's obituary or eulogy; writing a scene between two characters from the script who didn't otherwise interact with each other; re-writing a scene different ways, with one character having the upper hand, then the other having the it -- but most were just general free-writes to get our creative juices flowing and for the professor know that everyone in class was at least writing for 10 to 15 minutes a week.

Didn't finish the assignment?  Just don't show up.
Problem solved!
And unfortunately, I'm quite sure that for most of the class, that was the only time they wrote.  Except, you know, the final week of class when they had to have 80 pages of a screenplay to turn in.

College, right?

Anyhow, most of the writing exercises involved getting handed a photo of some kind -- landscape, portrait, architecture, a scene, etc. -- and writing on the first impulse that came to mind.  I can't recall what photo triggered this idea, but who am I to question inspiration?

17 May 2014

Writing Scripts, Writing Posts

Here's the thing:  I know I should post more here.  Maybe get down to some of the nitty-gritty details about how I go about writing a script.  Or give a review/analysis of scripts I've been reading and movies I've been watching.  And then I realize:

10 May 2014

The October Script

I have a bit of a passing interest in cryptozoology.  Though that may go without saying seeing as I did write a script called The Incredible Frog Boy Is On the Loose Again!, inspired by the Loveland Frog.  Seems most states have some kind of cryptid hanging out somewhere withing its borders:  Bigfoot in Washington, Mothman in West Virginia, the Lizard Man in South Carolina, the Jersey Devil in New Jersey, and dozens of other lesser-known ones mostly relegated to regional stories and sightings.

Where I grew up, we didn't have anything like that, though the town an hour up the road did.  All for the best, I suppose, since for a while my family lived right up against the woods on the north side of town and then just 20 yards from another big swath of woods.  I know better than actually believe in non-existent creatures, but I was more impressionable as a kid.

Pretty, isn't it?
That's just to ease you into letting down your guard...
But that's the thing about the woods:  They're (Or is it "It's"?) creep as all get out.  Why do you think a great many horror and slasher films take place there?  'Cause it's a universal fear, getting lost in the woods, one tree looking like the next, the canopy blocking out the stars and moon, drenching you in darkness...

Same picture as above, just darkened.
Bait and switch, bait and switch.

09 May 2014

The September Script

I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but one goal of mine for the 12 in 12 is to lean out of my comfort zone and try to write in different genres.  I didn't do that with the first script, Enumclaw, but I was more easing in to the challenge, wanting to feel like I knew what I was doing going into this.  But Standers is a contained thriller; The Education of Tobias Smith is a period Western; Greyhound 1170 is a dual-lead drama, probably using flashbacks/flash-sideways and such; the July script I can't say yet; and Skidmore Park is an ensemble piece -- none of those genres/sub-genres have I ever attempted in a feature screenplay.

T-N-T.  I'm dynamite.
I think stretching my legs into different genres can help me to figure out if I'm better at writing Type A movie versus Type B movie.  It's like, maybe I'm writing dramas, but it turns out I can really throw together a horror or comedy with adept skill and ease.  And then, having found my wheelhouse, I focus on that genre, pound out some worthy scripts, then by virtus et labor, my screenwriting career begins.  Well, begins more so.

07 May 2014

The August Script

A few years ago I took an advanced writing course -- focusing on prose writing -- in which I had to write a kind of excerpt of a larger project.  So it was something like a couple chapters of a novel, a few scenes from a play, a dozen or so poems... that kind of thing.  I chose to do a short story from what was supposed to be a collection of interconnected short stories, along the lines of A Visit From the Goon Squad.

Three covers.  One book.  No waiting.
For the class, I had to not only write the short story itself, but also provide an outline of the entire project.  So I had to figure out the characters and plots and themes and everything else that goes into writing a worthwhile story.  And because I won't insult anyone's intelligence, I won't make you guess what the general idea of the 12 in 12 script for August is.

30 April 2014

12 in 12: "Standers" Sitting Short

The shortest screenplay I had ever written was my first one, California, at 81 pages.  Not a bad length for what I was hoping to shoot as a super low-budget (i.e., no budget) indie flick.  Throw on a four minute opening credit sequence and a five minute end credit roll and you've 90 minutes, no problem.  Probably wouldn't've even had to do that:  The Final Destination (the fourth one in the series), is 82 minutes long.  And that's with a long opening credits sequence.  You really only get 70 minutes of movie.

I think the sad thing is that people paid money to see it in theaters.
So what's the point I'm getting at?

29 April 2014

The July Script

A change of pace for this post:  The script I'm writing in July is my entry for the Movie Poet feature screenplay contest -- and because entries must be kept anonymous, I can't delve too much into it.  Or rather, at all.

The soonest I'd be able to talk more about it won't be until June 1st at the earliest -- that's if I don't advance to the third round.  If luck be my lady, I won't be discussing it until October 1st, when the contest's final results are announced.

Still, I'd rather keep the unveiling of what's getting written when as consistent as possible, so I didn't want to skip mentioning July's script.

Here's the first page.  Same as every other script.
That kind of reliability is comforting.

So stay tuned and we'll all find out together when I can reveal the title and logline of the script.

24 April 2014

The June Script

One way I try to get ideas and inspirations for scripts is using the "Random Article" link on Wikipedia.  Just now, clicking on it, up came articles about Khan Noonien Singh, the 1936 Boston Red Sox season, Bhagabat Sahu, and the sawbwa barb.

Granted, none of those (including Khan, but for a different reason) demand that a film be written about them, but they all can't be winners.  One more click, and...  There you go:  Lillian Lorraine.  She can be the subject of a movie.

And that's the best part about the "Random Article" link:  It's random.

So what does that have to do with the script I'm looking to write in June?  Since I assume anyone reading this blog has at least average intelligence (at the minimum, of course), I'm sure it's obvious that I can thank Wikipedia's "Random Article" for giving me the impetus of June's script.

So:  What did Wikipedia offer up?

17 April 2014

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 -- 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

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...

14 March 2014

12 in 12: Marching On

Okay, so for those who don't know, I'm doing a challenge in which I'm going to write 12 feature screenplays in 12 months.  I haven't laid out my overall plan yet -- that's soon to come, though -- but I have been working at the first script.

I think this'll be the official image of the challenge.
I'll see what I can do to spruce it up.
I got a bit of a late start since I didn't finish my last script until a few days into March, but I jumped right in as soon as that script was wrapped up (it's not that bad of a script, but it's definitely first draft material) and am driving ahead with the first script of this challenge.  Granted, I'm only on page 24, but I tend to hammer out at least 5 pages every time I write.  And since I'm only getting 2 to 3 hours a day to write I make damn sure I'm getting those 5 pages.

07 March 2014

Predicting the 87th Oscar Nominees, or: A Lesson in Futility

As anyone who took the time to glance at my predictions for this past Sunday's 86th Academy Awards, it's blatantly obvious that I'm not really that great of a prognosticator.  Not that I'd ever claim to be.  Nevertheless, like most movie fans, I still enjoy tossing my hat in when it comes to making Oscar predictions.

The Academy Award of Merit
Now, most years, my favorite movie has no hope of winning, so rarely do I ever really care what movie or actor or filmmaker wins.  What Oscar night basically comes down to for me is one more data set to add to the ever-growing Oscar information I can't seem to get enough of.  (And in all seriousness, if screenwriting doesn't pan out for me, I'm going gung ho with Oscar-ing and writing a book or two and keeping a regularly-maintained blog.)

And that's because my forte is Oscar history.  I know more Oscar trivia than the so-called experts who also seem to make a point based upon a false "fact" in Oscar history.  Now, I don't claim to be an expert, but I'm about as close to one as you could probably get.   And that's what trips up my predictions:  I look at what's happened in similar years and compare it to the current year.  But since every Oscar season is its own beast that bites the hand that feebly tries to feed it, I don't get much right.

Yet, that doesn't stop one from trying and trying to find patterns and similarities from one year to the next and seeing how what happened then can apply to now.  While that ends up being a simple task come nomination morning and a frustrating exercise leading up to said morning, it's beyond herculean when tackling what's to come more than ten months out from the current year's Oscar nominations.  The thing is, though, once you're in all the way (Oscar-wise), you're never getting out again.

So while I do this every year, this is the first that I'm publicizing my year-out "predictions."  What makes this incredibly difficult is you never know what movies might get delayed or moved up.  Well-regarded casts and crews can turn in a turd while a sleeper indie could become that diamond in the rough.  Getting one nominee correct per category is great; get two and that's impressive; three or more and you'd do much better at the horse track than picking Oscar nominees.

Just a quick note:  About 90% of these are based upon pedigree, articles, and IMDb synopses.  The other 10% is based upon having read scripts or source material.

Okay, time to embarrass myself...

05 March 2014

12 Features in 12 Months: ACT I

I haven't posted a lot, but those who don't want to search for it, about a week ago I announced that I was going to see if writing 12 feature screenplays in 12 months will kill you or just drive you completely nuts.  I was inspired by a fellow writer, who'll be chronicling his endeavor as well.

I intended to post something about starting this over the weekend, but it was Oscar weekend, and that kind of throws off the old schedule.  On top of that, I was running a bit long on the script I started writing a few weeks ago.  Instead of being done by the end of February, I hit a snag with the third act and didn't get reach FADE OUT. until yesterday.  But it's done now and sitting on a back burner, so it's time to finally get on to the first feature in this challenge.

The easiest part of every screenplay...

Fortunately, I was able to get some prep work done on one idea.  Unfortunately, I'm feeling a stronger pull to work on a different idea.  So I'm kind of torn, but the common sense in me knows which idea to pursue.

01 March 2014

86th Oscar Predictions (Part II)

So you've come back for more, eh?
If you haven't already, you can go here to read Part I of my predictions for the 86th Academy Awards.  If you don't care much about the tech awards, well, you can just continue on and check out my predictions and personal picks for both writing categories, all four acting awards, achievement in directing, and of course, Best Picture.

28 February 2014

86th Oscar Predictions (Part I)

I love the Oscars.

And I hate the Oscars.

Oh, Oscar...  I am your bitch.
Maybe not hate, but at times it can be incredibly frustrating paying attention to the whole awards season.  Granted, it's kind of trite to blame the Oscars as it's only the climax of three months of critics' awards and guild awards and this guy's awards and whoever else decides they have to award the movies of the past year.  Still, everyone knows the Oscars and takes the Academy's choices in consideration when selecting what movie to watch next.  Some want to see all the Oscar-winning films and others -- like my step-dad -- are of the mind that if a movie won an Oscar it's not going to be entertaining.  (My step-dad says it in jest since I'm pretty sure he liked The Departed and Unforgiven.)

Anyhow, I've been an Oscar-watcher since the 2000 race when Gladiator won Best Picture.  I'd watched a few Oscar shows before then, but that year was the first that I actually paid attention.  And started my journey of learning everything about the Oscars.  Everyone has one thing they're really good at and while I can write a decent screenplay, knowing the Oscars seems to be where I excel.  From memory I can name every Best Picture winner and how many and what Oscars it won.  I can name every Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Actress winner.  I have charts and graphs and pages of what awards are commonly won together and what nominations can best determine which nominee will win Best Picture.

All in all, I'm just a big Oscar nerd.

But here's the rub:  Knowing Oscar history does little to nothing when trying to predict winners for the current Oscar race.  Sure, there are some indicators you can look to for help -- the guilds are typically the best, the Golden Globes aren't as good but you can't ignore them -- but what ultimately happens is personal feelings play a larger role.  Sometimes those feelings are lucky (I held fast to Christoph Waltz winning last year and it paid off), but most times they're the bane of your prognostication (I should've known Carey Mulligan couldn't overcome Sandra Bullock in the 2009 race).

And that's why I end up doing two Oscar predictions:  The nominees I want to win and the nominees I think will win.  Sometimes they match, most times they don't.  Nevertheless, at the end of the night, my biggest concern is updating all my charts and graphs and pages of Oscar info, because really, whatever/whoever wins wins.  There's nothing that can change that, so it's best to accept the results and see how this year's winner matches up with various cross-references to past winners.  Really, I'm an Oscar historian:  I don't care too much about the winners, just how they fit in with Oscar history.

Anyway, I suppose that's enough about me and my Oscar history.  You're really only here to see what I'm picking to win so you can call me an idiot in the comments.  (Trust me, go to any Oscar blog/site and it's venom and vitriol from anyone who disagrees with you.)  I'll explain my choices as I feel (because maybe I don't want to tell you all my secrets) and breakdown some of the categories as well.  Also, while I think it's great the Oscars recognize short films, those are just too random to accurately predict.  Plus, I haven't seen them.  And it's a bit embarrassing to admit, but I haven't seen any of the Foreign Language Film nominees (I know, I know...) and I've only seen The Act of Killing from the Documentary nominees and Frozen from the Animated Feature slate.  So you're on you're own for those six categories.

So, after all this ado, here are my thoughts about the 86th Academy Awards.

27 February 2014

Writers Write -- So That's What I'll Do

So it's been more than a month since the last post -- I told you I'm not that great with this blogging stuff.  But something's going to happen that'll strong-arm me into making regular posts and updates and what-all.

In the previous post, I laid out my plan of what I'm going to be working on.  Thing is, a few days after that post I started working on a totally different script I didn't even mention.  I've got about 15 to 20 pages before the first/rough/vomit draft is complete. 

It's weird, writing I mean, planning out a script -- outlining or using notecards or whatever your method is -- versus what actually happens when you write the script.  I've got the same basic storyline for this script, but the scenes and paths that get us there are about 75% not what I expected.  If anything, I suppose that shows how you can pre-write and prep a script and still have the freedom to write whatever you want.  Remember, you're not bound to the prep work.  That's just to get you immersed in the story.  Writing the script is a different beast all together and you'll probably find things the made sense on the notecards won't work when put into use.  Also, it's your script:  If you want to change something, change it.  Go ahead.  If you don't like it or it doesn't work, you take it out.  Problem solved.

Okay.  Now on the nitty-gritty...

22 January 2014

Scripts to Come

I recently just finished rewriting a screenplay I had optioned.  It was the second draft I turned in, and the last one I was contracted to do, so I don't know if I'll be involved with the pre-production process as it moves toward a (tentative) shooting schedule for next winter.  But as of now, I'm done with the script until further notice.

As such, I've outlined the plans for my next projects.  I have three feature scripts I'll be working on for the next few months -- I like to have a few things going so if I get bogged down or bored with one script I can get the juices flowing with another that already been worked for a bit.  Each script has different purposes for me writing it and unfortunately (some would say), none of them are really spec script material.  But I'm still working a bit on finding a comfort zone with what stories I want to write and can write versus having pipe dreams of writing the next Inception or being a Tarantino-wannabe.

Since I'm still working on the outlines and pre-writing, there aren't much for details, but here's what I have for the scripts.