Quote of the Day

October 3, 2011
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners. I wish someone had told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there’s this gap. For the first couple of years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase; they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know that it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you finish one piece. It’s only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take a while. It’s normal to take a while. You just gotta fight your way through.”
– Ira Glass

Moving On

July 21, 2011

Psycho Ex is done. Sent out to readers, ready to upload to inktip, everything. Done.

It works and I’m happy with it. It’s not perfect, it’s not my favorite script of mine, it is not profound or full of insights on the human condition. But it has one huge thing going for it: it’s done.

It has been a good exercise and hopefully a step forward for me. But now it is time for me to move on to the next one.

In grad school I TA’d for a film production instructor who told his class something very important. This was back in the days of 16mm film and non-digital editing and analog mixing sessions. With the structure of school, it took a semester to make a short (or write a feature), and after a while you started thinking of short films and screenplays in those terms: they were big, slow, time-consuming projects that took months to complete and consumed most of your waking life. Your semester grade was on the line, not to mention your pride, and since this end-product was what you showed your friends and parents and colleagues, people acted as if this was their one shot in life to make a movie, their one chance to fulfill all their goals and dreams, their one time to put down and justify their very identities for all to see.

This instructor said this was stupid and a huge flaw with film schools. It’s a movie. It’s a script. You’re supposed to make/write these all the time, because they’re FUN, not bureaucratic requirements. Yes, you do your best, and put in as much of yourself as you can. But if you’re a filmmaker, you make films. If you’re a writer, you write stuff. Not once in a lifetime, but over and over. You just keep doing it. Over and over.

The way you get better at this is by practicing, by doing, by moving forward. Psycho Ex is done and I will show it and send it out and put it out there. But it’s done. Time to move on and dust off that TV show idea.

Back From the Dead. Possibly.

July 7, 2011

Don’t get excited or anything, but I just may be moving forward again. It has been a long hibernation, and hopefully it really is over. After literally years, I picked up Psycho Ex again, dusted it off, and am nearly done with a rewrite.

It’s amazing what you can do with an hour a day once the weeks start adding up. We’ll see if I can keep it going. (And the more people I tell about this, the greater the peer pressure to keep it plowing ahead.)

More news soon. Maybe.

And hey you, out there – keep writing.

All My Life

April 2, 2011

All my life people have been walking up to me handing me vegetables. Some lettuce here, a tomato there. It’s random and annoying. I just take these idiots’ onions and stupid cucumbers and throw them over my shoulder with disgust, throw them away, and continue on my lonely impossible search for a salad.

Me and My Big Ideas

January 27, 2011

I think of myself as an “idea guy.” Why? Because I’m certainly not the alternative: the “work really, really hard sticking with it and writing multiple drafts until it’s the best it can be” guy.

Ideas are fun. Ideas are easy. When they come, they come. When they don’t, it’s not your responsibility. And when they turn into real work, well,… that’s usually when I get my next big idea.

Just this week I woke up with a fully formed idea for a TV series. This had never happened to me before. I was psyched, completely energized. Within hours I was Read the rest of this entry »

Short Stories

April 13, 2010

The blog has been quiet but I’ve been writing. Trying something new.

I’ve never attempted writing short stories before, but this year I’ve finished two. After years of training myself to shape any ideas into feature screenplay length and density and structure, it’s refreshing to just get an idea and follow it wherever it goes, without concern for page length or any of that stuff. Short stories can be smaller. Deeper.

The amazing thing for me is that I can let them stop where they stop; I can explore one idea – just one idea – all the way and then I’m done. It’s shocking how satisfying that is.

In both cases, I’ve literally woken up one morning with the whole thing there. I get to do the work of fleshing them out and trying this or that, but the scope is already there. Or it can change if I feel like it, no big deal. And that’s the point: it feels… free. Easy.

They have been very short so I can carry them around in my head, complete and whole. I can change the whole thing on a dime. I can work on them during down-time at the day job. Maybe it’s just me, but I get bogged down with this with feature scripts. There has to be enough there to carry the weight of 100 pages. They’re too big and have too much mass for me to change quickly and breezily. I can’t start thinking about them during down-time at work, because by the time I get my head wrapped around the whole thing the down-time is over. I just get frustrated.

But writing short stories has actually been… fun.

Are they any good? Who knows. I put the first one up on zoetrope in February and got some nice comments. I’ll put the second one one in a few days when I’m happy with it. Are they any good? Who cares?

This is good for me because I have some projects in the queue. I’ve been talking with a friend about a picture book since December – she’s made 10 or 12 paintings and she’s handed them off to me to tie together with a story. While thinking about this I got an idea for a kids’ picture book that I’m playing around with that I might finish and then hand off to her. Plus my son reminded me of another (incomplete) bedtime story I started telling him and my younger son a few months back. AND a couple of working actors and I have been trying to bang out a sitcom pitch/premise for what seems like forever…

So these are keeping me engaged. Will these short stories amount to anything, or are they just experiments? Or just practice? Either way, they’ve gotten me back into the flow and kept me there. Reminded me that I can play, I can open up, I can change on a dime. It’s much more about this than the finished product. Good stuff.

Keep writing.

Billion-Dollar Idea #5

March 23, 2010

I just got a guaranteed billion-dollar movie idea.

Cannot miss.

$250+ million opening weekend in the U.S. alone. Guaranteed.

Impossible to fail. Impossible!

Are you ready for this? It will blow your mind.

You will look at me and say “You, sir, are a genius.”

Are you ready? Here it is.

4 words:

Darth Vader vs. Spock

Just send me the cash now.