Pimping the Program
Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Variety reports that Final Draft software bought Scr(i)pt magazine.

I can't say the news excites. I don't own Final Draft, and have never used it. I don't really have an opinion on the software, actually. My problem is that they now own the magazine.

I read Scr(i)pt for the articles. Really, I do! Trust me, the pics are nothing to drool over. This buyout has me worried though, about the integrity of the articles. Are there going to be unbiased reviews of software? Are we going to get an honest evaluation of Movie Magic vs. Final Draft? Interviews with spec-ers who have recently sold, will they honestly report it if they claim "Best thing I ever did was get Sophocles?" (Like that would happen. It's rhetorical, ok?) I guess I have an inherent distrust for blatant conflicts of interest.

Am I going to hear about new products in their magazine anymore? Is everything going to be tainted by the Brand? Will they only advertise contests that offer Final Draft as the prize (I've never understood that. The last thing a prize winning screenwriter needs should be software. Either they already own it, or they have something else that already works for them.)
They are also redesigning the magazine. Probably trying to find alternative advertisers - gotta replace all those competitors.

The questions are many, the answers few. We'll see how it all turns out - there's always Creative Screenwriting.
posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 7:39 AM | Permalink | 0 comments
Empathy quickie
Friday, October 13, 2006
From a review of Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning on a deliciously snarky site, Pajiba:

The characters’ brief introductions skirt the boundaries of meaningful involvement, but are much too short and rushed to really let the audience feel empathy. And where empathy doesn’t go, interest is not likely to follow.

So true, and good advice to keep in mind when writing this stuff! And by "this stuff", of course I mean weeks and months of blood, sweat, tears and vodka to produce 110 pages of Oscar worthy magic.

On another note, I am published!
SpongeBob's New Friend

Devil May Care

Published, but not paid. Well, paid in "exposure", which could mean nothing or everything. It will give me a portfolio to show in order to land paid work, allow me to practice working on a deadline, and give me an outlet for all of those useless factoids I come across while procrastinating online. I do work better when I'm not connected to the wireless network, that's for sure!
posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 4:44 AM | Permalink | 0 comments
My character technique
Thursday, October 12, 2006
I haven't been writing around here for a little while, and that's not the only place. I haven't done anything to my script since Sunday, either.

My time to work on it is either between the hours of 12-2pm or after 7 pm, and I've just been too tired to do anything more than lay on the couch. Yesterday I went to bed at 6 pm and didn't get up until 6 am.

I have been thinking about it, though.

I tend to write in my head before I ever commit to paper. I have a pretty good outline (beats laid out, a 19 page 'scriptment'.) Now I'm fleshing out scenes; where should they take place, lines of dialogue. I've always done this, had practice conversations in my head. I can be shy, and it's something I do to make myself more comfortable, to rehearse what I'll say, what my boss will say, what I'll say back, etc.

It was really, really good practice. In order to effectively use the technique to conquer self consciousness, one has to properly and adequately predict the other partie's response. One must get into character.

This is how I get into my characters, how I find their voice. I imagine tone of voice, word choice, pauses. I try out snappy banter and quick comebacks. It seems to work for me. I've tried writing out biographies, mapping their imaginary childhoods, but that never did it for me the way just talking to them constantly does.

I also find myself, lately, predicting responses. When at the grocery store, I'll actually think about what kind of, say, jelly, my protagonist would buy. It would be Welch's grape. She's very practical, and quality counts with her. Also, Welch's is the cheapest name brand and comes in jars you can later use as cups. Her sister/sidekick, would buy Polaner's All Fruit. It's much more expensive, comes in a fancier jar, has highbrow commercials involving dinner parties and British accents, and is all-natural. There are uncommon flavors, such as blueberry, pineapple, and black cherry. As an extremely image-conscious earth mother, these things are important to her. Another character wouldn't buy jelly at all, but would force himself to be satisfied with a martyr-like plain peanut butter, or dry toast.

Myself, I buy my jelly at the dollar store. They have good quality jelly with 3 ingredients: Water, strawberries, pectin. For a dollar - can't beat that deal, and I have quite an issue with Red Dye #40 and High Fructose Corn Syrup.

You get my point. My movie takes place more or less in one location: the house, and the backyard of the house. But I can tell you what kind of car each of my characters drive. Where they go for coffee. What they do the day after Thanksgiving.

What character techiniques work for you?
posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 4:13 AM | Permalink | 0 comments
Just words
Thursday, October 05, 2006

A lot of people seem to look down on writing as a non-profession. As in, "Why don't you get a job that pays you regularly and doesn't make you drink?"

There is also a subtle bigotry, the Jungian universal thought:
"What's the big deal with putting some words together?"

After all, they are just words.

Here in South Carolina, our Governor is recovering from a "slip of the tongue". Just some words, but might cost him the election.

You see, when talking about the budget, he declared "It's like dancing with a tar baby".

Now, I'm not from the South, and was unfamiliar with the expression. Of course, I recognized tar baby from the Brer Rabbit stories, and so my first impression was that it was racial.

It's not. I checked Merriam Webster; they have one definition:
Main Entry: tar baby
Function: noun
Etymology: from the tar baby that trapped Brer Rabbit
in an Uncle Remus story by Joel Chandler Harris
: something from which it is nearly impossible to extricate oneself
I also checked the Urban Dictionary, which does list it as a racial slur, but that's the FOURTH definition. The first three are here: Tar Baby
Just words.

Reminds me of the person (was it a college professor?) who had to apologize and resign for using the word niggardly, which also is not a racial slur and doesn't even share an etymology.

So, here's my advice for all those "It's just words" folk.

Write 100,000 words. Yes, you can use them more than once. Actually, better make it 200,000. Then, edit out all the words that don't make a good story.

Way to go! You just finished your first novel.
posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 8:14 AM | Permalink | 0 comments
October Sky Blues
Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Well, it's October now. It's hard to get excited about Halloween, all the way at the end of the month, when the candy, costumes, and kitschy jack-o-lantern leaf bags have been on display since Labor Day. Also, I don't celebrate Halloween (Thank goodness, do you know how expensive it would be to outfit 6 kids?!!!) so, aside from killer sales on Snickers Minis, it all seems kind of pointless. My local Wal-Mart has Christmas wreaths for sale now, too.

Mmmm. Snickers.

The highpoint of October is that my absolute favorite color is the color of the afternoon, cloudless sky in the middle of the month. I'm happy to say, even in the South, where the leaves aren't changing and the weather is down to 60's and 70's, the sky is still that brilliant blue that pierces the heart and makes me think of Heaven.

It is actually a good month for my screenplay, though. All the movies that I should probably watch for procrastination/"research" are coming on cable, so I don't have to rent them. I've mentioned before how much I hate the Horror genre. I've realized, after watching many, many scary films that I don't hate Horror movies. I hate poorly done, continuity lacking horror movies, which seem always to feature a creepy kid, a blonde in her panties, or a previous movie that made lots of money, so the producers popped out another one to get blood out of a stone.

There is a kid of sorts in my script, but he's not a demon in disguise, dark and brooding, or possessing of other worldly knowledge passed on in wise one-liners.

I've realized this after reading several online scripts in addition to screening the movies.

Some of my favorite movies are, or could conceivably be called, Horror.

An incomplete list, in no particular order:
POLTERGEIST (that clown still scares the crap out of me)

Movies I've watched the last couple of weeks that were horrible (not horror-ble, ha ha ha, oh, there's that Shakespearean sense of humor again, no pun intended!)

Movies that everyone else liked, and that I hated:

A note on Elm Street: I think I was disappointed because I had literally been wanting to see the movie for 20 years. My mom would never let me, and whenI was all-growed-up and thought about renting it, there was always something better on the new release wall. I had to watch it on VHS, and even once I got over Johnny Depp, it just couldn't live up to the anticipation. Also, I wish the mother's character had been a tad more developed. Any point in the movie where the mother was speaking, I wanted to get up and get a snack.

I haven't actually watched a lot of scary movies - at least not more than the first 10 minutes, which was usually enough to bore me to tears and go find a good book. I waited until I had a "scriptment" first draft, with all of my plot points and action sequences mapped out, before taking up watching again. I feel the need to make sure I am not inadvertently copying a well known movie in any of my sequences. So far, so good.

What I've come away with, is even though most people are shocked when they hear I am writing a supernatural thriller/horror movie, I've come around to the idea that it isn't a fluke and this is the story I should be working on.

My desire is to make a movie that is scary on the level of THE EXORCIST - not full of cheap shots and jumpy thrills, but one that stays with you even after you've come home from the theater and makes you think twice about shutting the closet light off.
posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 5:24 AM | Permalink | 0 comments
Sunday, October 01, 2006
commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.
posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 6:47 PM | Permalink | 0 comments
One Page
Red Right Hand has a challenge - post one page of your script.
Ok, I can do that.
One page.
For all the world to see.
One page of my script that is not polished for submission - not a first draft but not a last draft.
Here goes.
I went with page one of my horror movie:
I'm not a nifty computer geek, but so I printed and scanned. Couldn't figure out how to screen capture (ok, I'm lazy too. ) Or, John August has a cool CSS Template.
posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 7:52 AM | Permalink | 2 comments