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.