Minor setback

I received some new notes on my outline from my instructor. Things he hasn’t commented on in the last two weeks suddenly have given him concerns and I’m frustrated. I’ll have to take time out from writing script pages to address possible concerns with my structure (fortunately I fixed one thing he questioned as I was writing the pages). I may only be 10% done writing script pages, but it feels like losing momentum to go back and focus on the outline.

Still, this *is* an outline writing class, so if I want to get an ‘A’, I’d better deal with it. Ugh.

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This post was written by Shawna on May 30, 2005

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It has begun

Weekend is going well, in case, like me, you are home slaving away on the next ‘Great American Screenplay or Novel’ and are home to read this. (Wow, nice run on sentence there Shawna. You call yourself a writer??)
As a matter of fact, I do. I have started the spec. I know, most of you are thinking BFD. Can’t say I blame you, but it’s always momentous when I start thinking about writing or talking about writing or (the worst) writing about writing and I actually start banging out my crap draft. The crap draft is what spews forth when I start typing. It comes before the really horrible draft which usually leads to the just lousy draft. The lousy draft is what I end up working with to form a first draft.
Went to an arena football game today and played pool. Sometimes it’s good to live life and not be holed up away from it. I’m working on that aspect of my existence.

So, what burning questions can I answer for anybody? Doesn’t need to be about writing either. Some of you have been hanging around long enough, you must be *dying* to hear me tell some tale or other of myself. I just don’t know what you want to hear…

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This post was written by Shawna on May 30, 2005

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Film Friday for 5/27

It is almost the end of the month, so it’s time to recap all of the new sequels, spin-offs, tv shows made into films and remakes that were given deals this month. All info can be found at Done Deals. So, what do we have for May?

  • Rush Hour 3 – apparently we need more Chris Tucker paired with Brett Ratner. At this time, Jackie Chan has not signed on. Perhaps he’s had his fill of Michael Jackson impersonations?
  • All of Me – Originally this was made in 1984 with Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin. Now Wanda Sykes will star. I think I’ll pass.
  • The Prone Gunman, Rider on the Rain and Honor Among Thieves – I’ve grouped them together because I had never heard of them. They are remake projects all being produced by John Woo and appear to all have starred Charles Bronson in the 50s and 60s.
  • Kung Fu Hustle 2 – I guess it did well.
  • The Power of the Dark Crystal – I’d list this as one of the more interesting projects for the month. I really loved The Dark Crystal as a kid, so there’s a little geek part of me that is happy. We’ll see if it actually gets made.
  • Tekken – Video game adaptation. This is in rewrite.
  • The Rum Diary – While not technically a sequel, since Johnny Depp is going to Play Hunter Thompson again in this adaptation of Thompson’s book, I’ll throw it in here.
  • Shutter – remake of a scary Thai film. Asian horror films are still hot!
  • Day of the Dead – Sure, why not, we keep recycling all the other Romero zombie films.
  • Adventures in Babysitting – NO NO NO!! And to think I respected Lynda Obst! This is a travesty, and if Hilary Duff gets anywhere near it, I’m gouging her eyes out.
  • The Ring 3 – Hey! New character, same stupid girl in the tape!

That’s it for this month. I’ll update if there are any relevant deals on Tuesday, but it looks like a trend is developing, a very unsettling trend. The studios are now dipping into the 80’s for remakes. This can only bring very bad things. If anyone breathes a word about remaking ‘Ferris Bueller’ for a new generation, I’ll sic Ed Rooney on them. Ed will teach them a lesson.

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This post was written by Shawna on May 27, 2005

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Long, lost weekend

I wish I could say I have exciting plans for the weekend, but I can not as I do not. My sister and I will be making the ‘big push’ to finish our domestic painting this weekend, a project that started a month ago. I might get out of the asylum long enough to see a movie or do some shopping, but I see your head nodding. I’ll end the boring details there.

No, I will not be drinking myself into a stupor, despite what the post title might lead you to think. More likely, I’ll be finally starting to write script pages for my ‘Lost’ spec. The outline is complete and I’m ready to breathe some life into this sucker.

Can I just say I don’t know if the ‘Alias’ finale was the most awesome thing I’ve ever seen or the lamest thing? If done correctly, next season could be a real head trip. If they fail to make sense out of it…let’s just say I do not see a Season 6 in their future. That is all I’ll say on the subject. For now.

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This post was written by Shawna on May 27, 2005

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HOA woes

My primary job (what I get paid for) is as a supervisor for UNNAMED LARGE COMPANY. My second job (currently unpaid) is as a writer. My third job (which I would drop in a heartbeat if allowed) is as the President of my HOA.

Last night there was smoke in the laundry room. Guess who gets their doorbell rung in the middle of the ‘Lost’ finale…

Yup, yours truly. So I schlep downstairs in my Winnie the Pooh slippers to see what’s up. Sure enough, burning rubber smell and light smoke in the air. The VP of the HOA had called 911 so the sirens were whirring in the background as I inspected the room. I think we disappointed the firemen. We had no fire, but certainly a problem with one of the washing machines.

This is just the latest ‘crisis’ in a series of crises in my condo building (which has 18 units and very strange residents). We have bad pipes, electrical problems, water damage, an old elevator and we are technically broke. And, there are so many elderly residents that they prohibit us from raising the association fees to cover our expenses and needed maintenence. The building is 40 years old and shows it.

It’s horrible, but I keep hoping a few will either pass on or move soon so we can actually improve our builidng and stop the unnecessary degrading of our property value.

But we are in a kickass location. I just wish I had an extra parking spot in the garage.

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This post was written by Shawna on May 26, 2005

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Whither ‘Lost’?

Season finale is tonight. Of course, this is exciting for me, as I follow this show very closely, and not just because I’m writing a spec.

Some of you have wondered why on Earth I chose to spec Lost. There are two answers to this question.

  • I wanted to spec ‘House’ but my instructor writes for that show and discouraged me from writing it as it is a very difficult show to write (and I think he didn’t want to be extra hard on me, since he has such vast knowledge of the show).
  • I refused to spec CSI, Law and Order or The O.C.

I know there are other shows I could have chosen, but I feel vindicated in my choice since I’ve been looking over the network pickups this fall. What do these shows have in common:

  • Fathom
  • Invasion
  • Supernatural
  • Threshold

They are all new hourlong dramas that deal with ‘strange’ or alien phenomena and appear to have an arc for an entire season. I don’t know if any of them will hold on and make it, but my Lost spec might be interesting to writers of any of these shows.

I’m still writing a ‘House’ or some other procedural spec though. Gotta cover my bases.

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This post was written by Shawna on May 25, 2005

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Class tonight

Gearing up for class — instructor told me in his last set of notes that my latest draft is pretty good. I’ve made a couple of tweaks to share with him tonight, but then I think I’m ready to go to script.

I’ve signed up for the summer course, just to keep my momentum going…especially while things are so topsy-turvy at work. I need something to focus on outside of that stress.

They are outsourcing at my workplace and my job is in limbo. Hopefully I’ll know more in the next two weeks. This has been a long time coming and finally the hammer is falling. I wouldn’t mention it, except it seems to be the overriding concern in my day to day life right now. I’ve always maintained that in order for this ‘screenwriting thing’ to work, I’d need to keep my day job. I never really planned on what to do if the day job wasn’t there (besides get another one). It has me thinking about all sorts of possibilities, though the most realistic is just to find another foothold until I can get an agent/sell something. I am all about what I will do right now, I have no time to think about how much I suck or how remote the chances are that I’ll succeed. Those thoughts are irrelevent. My current predicament has brought into focus what I came out to L.A. to do and I will not fail.

I just hope I don’t suck. :-)

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This post was written by Shawna on May 24, 2005

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Upfront roundup – the final tally

So, there are lots of places where you can find the schedules (try here or here). One thing they may not say is what does this all mean?? In Entertainment Weekly style, I present to you the ‘Winners and Losers’ list:

Winners

  • Jerry Bruckheimer – the man is unstoppable. He already had six shows on the air and now the networks have picked up four more. He’s got Aaron Spelling in his sights. (Read more at Hollywood Reporter).
  • Dramas – There are 19 new hourlong dramas vs. 10 new sitcoms in the network programming mix. For now, drama is where the action is…so to speak.
  • Jim Belushi – is he not the luckiest guy on the planet?
  • David Mamet – he actually has a midseason show. Whodathunk that David Mamet would want to break in to TV?
  • Conservatives – CBS cancelling ’60 Minutes Wednesday’ may have been for ratings reasons, but conservative bloggers will still feel it a victory to have ousted Dan Rather from yet another home due to the National Guard memo scandal.
  • Warner Brothers – Clearly they hold the keys to the show production kingdom. While Paramount and 20th Century may be close behind, Warner has more shows on the various schedules than any other production house.
  • UPN – Yes, I know…this one seems weird. The perenial whipping boy of the upfronts actually had two bits of good news to tout (even though they cancelled ‘Enterprise’). One, they renewed Veronica Mars. Two, they managed to get Chris Rock to do a sitcom with them (even if he only does voice overs and produces, it’s enough for them). And hey, they still have ‘WWE Smackdown!’

Losers

  • Tara Reid – her sitcom for Fox didn’t get picked up. Of course, IMHO she was a ‘loser’ before her sitcom was rejected…
  • David E. Kelley – believe it or not, Kelley had a show rejected. As I read somewhere (sorry can’t remember where) there was a time when Kelley didn’t even need a pilot, they’d just buy the thing sight unseen. I guess ‘Snoops’ and that show he did for CBS changed that.
  • Reality – Okay, there are still a lot of reality shows on, but the networks are only introducing 2 new reality shows (‘Three Wishes’ and ‘The Apprentice: Martha Stewart’ on NBC) this season. This is down significantly from the five to seven new shows we were seeing each fall. Thankfully, we are going to get a break from ‘The Bachelor’ until midseason.
  • Donald Trump – Another strange one, you are thinking. Let me put it this way: Martha Stewart’s Apprentice show is going to crush Trump’s. Trump has been fun for three series, but now it’s time to watch the ‘Domestic Diva’ put people through the ringer.
  • Jeff Zucker – Defamer has been all over how much crow this guy has had to eat this week (last year at upfronts he boasted that ‘Joey’ and the rest of the NBC schedule would keep the network at #1. They fell to #4 last year. Not only that, he’s been taunted by the other network heads too. Advertisers will have to consider the new NBC schedule closely before deciding where to spend their precious ad dollars.

Finally, I’d say writers are big winners. Lots of networks putting lots of faith in new product. It will be interesting to see what of the current crop of programming hits and misses with the public. Get your specs ready. Staffing season may be over, but the fun is just beginning.

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This post was written by Shawna on May 22, 2005

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Analyzing the TV schedules

All of the networks have been announcing their fall schedules this week. Lee Goldberg has links for the new schedules.

One major trend I noticed was a lack of major new reality programming. NBC has one new reality show and everyone else seems to be holding reality for summer or midseason. As a result, there are a lot of new scripted programs on the schedules. Obviously this is great news for writers as the possibility of some of these shows being successful is higher now that they aren’t competing quite as much with reality fare.

I’m particularly heartened that there are a lot of ‘Lost-inspired’ shows on everyone’s schedules. My Lost spec may actually be of some use, if I can get an agent and if any of these shows are good enough to make it. Of course, I’m still going to spec a procedural to cover my bases.

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This post was written by Shawna on May 19, 2005

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My screenwriting bookshelf

Someday maybe we’ll talk about my other bookshelves (the sci-fi bookshelf, fantasy bookshelf, mystery bookshelf, non-fiction, etc) but today I’ll just give you a quick run down of the books I refer to most often when I am writing and need words of wisdom, technical help or just need to procrastinate.

Of course, there are two or three which should be on every screenwriter’s bookshelf:

  • Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri
  • Screenwriting 434 by Lew Hunter
  • Making a Good Script Great by Linda Seger

I suppose if you want the true basics, you can read Aristotle’s Poetics but that’s up to you. It makes you sound smart to your non-writing friends if you can quote Aristotle.

Books I read for inspiration:

  • Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
  • Breakfast with Sharks by Michael Lent
  • The Right to Write by Julia Cameron

Books I refer to for advice (but not as much as the first 3):

  • Creating Unforgetable Characters by Linda Seger
  • The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler
  • Writing Screenplays that Sell by Michael Hauge

Books I haven’t really used in the last year, but I still have on my shelf:

  • Screenplay by Syd Field
  • Screenwriting: The Art, Craft, and Business of Film and Televison by Richard Walter
  • Write Screenplays that Sell by Hal Ackerman
  • Writing Scripts Hollywood Will Love by Katherine Atwell Herbert

Recent purchases/reads:

  • 10 Minutes to the Pitch by Chris Abbott
  • Screenplay by Disney by Jason Surrell
  • Successful Television Writing by Lee Goldberg

I’m going to pick up Alex’s book Crafty Screenwriting next chance I get. I’m always picking it up in the bookstore, but I’d like to finish it this year, so I’ll just buy the damn thing already.

Now you know why I never get anything written — I’m reading too many books!

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This post was written by Shawna on May 17, 2005

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