Project and Lifely Updates!

Had a meeting regarding the Untitled Awesome Project today.  This one has me all kinds of excited for a two simple reasons: theme and tone.  It’s something this prospective sci-fi series shares with three other shows I’ve done in the past, specifically: Stargate: SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis, and Dark Matter.  Sense of fun?  Check!  Sense of humor?  Check!  Sense of family?  Check! Read more

April 22, 2018: Everybody wants to work with you!

Congratulations.  You’ve just wrapped up your very first round of Hollywood meet-and-greets, sit-downs with production and broadcast executives all over town, and if there is one indisputable fact you can take away from the glorious experience it’s this: Everyone wants to work with you!

It’s true!  They said as much in their unbridled enthusiasm for you, your work, and your pitch for that zombie legal series.  They said it in their spirited suggestion that you would be perfect for some of the projects they have in development.  They said it insofar as they actually said: “We want to work with you!” and maybe even: “We want to be in the [insert your full name here] business!”.

So, in all fairness, you can be forgiven for actually believing it – you poor, deluded fool.

You go home, excitedly debrief with your agent/manager/friend/cute barista who never gets your name right (but you read somewhere that they do it on purpose to engender social media buzz, so you don’t take offense), then lie awake that night considering your mountainous prospects.  Damn, you’re going to be busy.  You might want to consider rescheduling that trip to Sugarloaf.

Or maybe not because, in truth, you’re not going to be that much busier.  On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being significantly less busy and 10 being much, MUCH busier, you’re at about a “No idea because you misplaced your scale but you’re not that surprised because that’s the way your week’s been going.”

Oh, sure.  You sent out those scripts, followed up with some emails, polite at first, then friendly and, eventually, lighthearted and humorous like a comedian’s Thursday afternoon shift at a palliative care unit.  In some cases, you may grow despondent and ask your agent to follow up for you.  This, more often than not, yields, not a response, but the addition of a whole other layer of unresponsiveness.

But in some instances, you DO receive a response.  And, in case you were curious, these are their hidden meanings:

Unfortunately, we’re already developing something similar. (Translation: I can’t be bothered to read your script as my time is better spent attending meaningless meetings).

I kicked it upstairs.  I’ll let you know when I hear anything. (Translation: I can’t be bothered to read your script, so I’m going to string things along in the hopes that you either give up and stop pursuing the matter or one of us dies).

I kicked it upstairs.  Unfortunately, they passed.  (Translation: They can’t be bothered to read your script either as their time is better spent attending meaningless meetings).

It’s not for us. (Translation: Your script was so poor and unintentionally hilarious that we held an impromptu read-thru in the lunch room.  Our new temp, Hazel, played the part of the jaguar).

It’s too similar to [established series]. (Translation: It’s too similar to the show we have in development that is a carbon copy of [established series].)

No one’s buying anthologies. (Translation: No one’s buying anthologies).

But before you pack up your laptop, dog-eared copy of Syd Field’s Screenplay, and that stack of color-coded index cards on which you’ve assiduously tracked the emotional arcs of every one of your main characters, hold up.  All hope is not lost, only a lot of your time and a small piece of your sanity, because this is just the reality of the business.  People will tell you they want to work with you because they honestly DO want to work with you – eventually, should you prove successful down the line working with someone else first.  No one wants to burn bridges.  Rather, they simply wish to invite you to cross at a later date and then sneak away under cover of darkness so that, upon your return, you discover the toll booth unmanned. It’s not a no. It’s an enthusiastic YES – somewhere in the not too distant future.

Over time, and repeated visits, you will get to know these people, form relationships with them and, should fortune smile upon you, actually work with them. Maybe you’ll develop a show for them that won’t go anywhere, or come up with a take for an adaptation that will ultimately go to some other writer.  The possibilities are truly endless.  So don’t despair and don’t give up!

But do throw away those index cards with the detailed emotional arcs.  Seriously.

October 24, 2016: My Writing Process!

The other day, I was asked to describe my writing process.  My first instinct was to say I didn’t have one but, upon further consideration, I realized that I do follow certain patterns when writing a script.

Step #1: PROCRASTINATE

I’ll do anything to avoid starting a script – surfing the net, doing my taxes, writing this blog – sometimes going weeks steadfastly distracting myself until, finally, fed up with my no-can-do attitude, I’ll capitulate and begin!

Step #2: LAY THE GROUNDWORK

I’ll open up a new file page, put my name, the date, and the title on the cover page, then set up the headers and, finally, write TEASE at the top of the first page. This always gives me a great sense of accomplishment and, satisfied with work well done, I’ll take the rest of the day off.

Step #3: OPENING WITH A GLACIAL PACE

The first scene of the episode is crucial and, for that reason, I will agonize over it for days, constructing the entire scene in my head before writing it down.  After several rewrites, I’ll set it aside and come back to it the next day, throw out what I’ve written, and take another stab at it.  Eventually, I’ll have a scene that I don’t love but honestly don’t hate as much as previous versions and, besides, I’ve got to get moving.  And so, the following day, I’ll rewrite the scene, then forge ahead and, usually, complete the tease.  This offers another great sense of accomplishment as I convince myself that 1/7th of the script is complete (tease down, next five acts and the tag to go!  That’s technically 1/7th – if you don’t take page count into consideration).

Step #4: CREATIVE DRIVE

The beginning of a script is always tough as I’ll re-read and rewrite those early scenes endlessly in the hopes that racing through them will give me the momentum to carry me through the rest of the act.  Instead, I usually stumble and crash half a page into new territory.  Fortunately, the cure for my writer’s block is only an elevator ride away.  Once I’m behind the wheel of my car, far away from the distractions of the internet and the chocolate in my fridge, I can finally focus. In fact, I’ve done some of my best writing while driving.  I’m not sure why it is but the 20 minute drive to work is golden time, allowing me to run and refine dialogue so that, by the time I get into the office, I’m ready to write!

Step #5: PUSH!  PUUUUSH!

That’s it!  Don’t let up!  Lock your door, ignore the distractions, and keep at it! You’re almost there.  Yes!  Yes!  You’ve done it!  Congratulations! You’re the proud parent of a Tease and First Act!  It may not be much to look at now but, like any mom and dad, you’ll grow to love it.  Or get used to it.

Step #6: RINSE! REPEAT!

Completing the first act is a HUUUGE accomplishment.   Believe it or not, the hardest part is over.  Now it’s simply a matter of repeating the techniques and superstitious  rituals that got you here.  Re-read, rewrite, go for a drive, lie awake into the wee hours playing scenes in your head, drink some sake, seek out positive reviews, comments or messages to remind you of your salad days and motivate yourself to achieve the perception of unparalleled visionary heights, you sad, creatively-spent has-been.

Step #7: RIDE THE WAVE!

At some point in the writing of the script, amidst the seemingly endless hours agonizing over turns of phrase or Rubik-like plots, you’ll get into a groove and the words will start to flow, smoother and faster.  And suddenly, all the pieces of the puzzle will fall into place and you can do no wrong.  You’re in the zone and it’s glorious!  Great characters moments, tight dialogue runs, clever developments – it’s as if some future you has traveled back in time to give you all the answers. Sadly, this inspired burst is fleeting, usually lasting 5 to 15 pages before dissipating and leaving you the shattered mess you once were.  But the key is to recognize the wave and ride it as long as you can.  Just last month, I rode my best wave ever on Dark Matter Episode 304, blazing through a record 32 pages in a white heat.

Step #8: FEAR THE DEADLINE!

By this point, I’m hopefully at least halfway through the script.  I can often rely on a late closing burst as all the story’s narrative points converge in those final pages of the fourth act, giving me the momentum to  drive through another modest chunk.  If that doesn’t work, then the prospect of a looming deadline will be enough to spur me forward.

Step #9: CAP IT WITH SOMETHING SPECIAL!

Beginning a script is tough, but ending one can be just as hard UNLESS you’ve got the Holy Shit conclusion already in your head.  And you should!  Start strong, but end even stronger.  Yes, it’s important for the viewers who will no doubt be blown away by your inspired moment, but it’s equally crucial to your creative mental well-being capping the episode with an ending YOU know will blow them away.  The shocking reveal at the end of the show’s very first episode, the reveal of Jace Corso in Episode 3, TWO being blown out the airlock, the Android going down in Episode 12, the captured crew being escorted off the ship by the G.A. with SIX revealed as the mole in the season one finale, the bloodbath in the palace in Episode 212 – all deliciously devious moments I envisioned for ages and saved for script’s end, like a decadent bite of dessert you look forward to at the end of a long and exhausting dinner party.

Step #10: IGNORE IT LIKE AN EX THAT SPURNED YOU!

Once the script is complete, I’ll set it aside and move on to other things.  Resist the urge to give it any attention.  Don’t you remember the difficult times?  The frustration?  The thankless hours and days spent trying to make it work?!!  Play hard to get.  Ideally, I give it a few days before I pick it up and give it another read and another pass.  After that, it’s someone else’s problem…

Until they give you notes.  Then it’s your problem again.

August 13, 2014: Pre-Production update! And a mailbag!

Yashaaa! * (*Made-up exclamation of satisfaction with a recent accomplishment. Yoshay! is an accepted variation).  Just finished a first draft of episode #4! Initially, I thought it was going to be long but, in the end, it actually turned out a little long. I had WAAAAY too much fun with this one.   I’m going to go over it tomorrow and Friday, then send it Paul’s way – so that he can have something to look forward to this weekend.  Not that he hasn’t been keeping busy as well.  He finished his pass on the pilot and is now doing a pass on my script for episode #2.  Meanwhile, we received a first draft of episode #3 from “mystery writer” and it’s great.  Mainly page notes, reminders to include a couple of beats that payoff what has come before or set up beat that will payoff later down the line, and suggested alternate attacks on two scenes – but otherwise, it’s pretty damn tight.  And fun! That’s the operative word through these first four scripts – and something viewers can look forward to over the course of the series’ run.  It’s going to be a hell of a fun twisty-turny-gripping-exciting FUN ride.

Seriously.  Where’s an official announcement when you need one?

Anyway, once Paul has completed his passes on my scripts, he’ll switch gears and actually start on his own scripts – episodes #5 and #6 – which he’ll be writing through September – while I’m in Tokyo/Osaka, presumably enjoying a much-needed break after finishing my next script.  Which is what I wanted to talk to Paul about today.  I needed to know if he had his heart set on any particular script (besides #5 and #6).  Also, wanted to get his opinion on which scripts we should be freelancing out.  It’s a tough call.  Because the show is so serialized, none of the scripts make good one-off opportunities.  In the end, I suggested episodes #8 would be a particularly difficult one to write for someone who wasn’t familiar with the “unique technology” of this world.  I expressed an interest in jumping on the script for episode #9 next and Paul was fine with that (he assumed I had a better handle on this story anyway).  Although I didn’t mention it, I’d also like to write the second half of the late-season two-parter (episode #11).  But I did mention that, since we co-wrote the pilot (episode #1), it’s only fair we co-write the season finale (episode #13).  He agreed.

The plan is to polish those first four scripts and get them out there before month’s end so that the rest of the production team knows what we’re working toward.  It will also give our prospective freelancers a sense of the show, tone, and characters.

Earlier today, we received some more concept art for the spaceship and space station.  Some very cool, very imaginative work.  I love the ship and think it’s almost there.  Paul and I feel it needs a little more exterior texture, a launch shell for our shuttle, and at least one specifically-positioned airlock.  As for armaments, I love the retrofitted look.  As tricked-out as possible.  We aren’t quite as close on the space station as we’re going to require some fairly specific interiors (that will, of course, need to match our station exteriors in those establishers).  But we’re getting there.  Paul and I fly to Toronto in the first week of September to discuss and, hopefully, nail down looks for everything (including the bridge and the two other ships that will be making an appearance in the opening two-parter).

But enough of me.  What of you?  Let’s open the mailbag and see what’s on your mind(s)…

Airelle writes: “Thanks Joe for doing all the leg work in reading these books, have to check some of them out. I just finished The 400 lb gorilla, and still trying to remember all I read.”

Answer: Ah, I remember that one being on my “possible pick-up” list.  How was it?

Purple – ultra Stargate Fan writes: “I was there at your first Comic and was happy to meet you.”

Answer: Well, hope to see you at next year’s Comic Con!”

gforce writes: “I also find myself quite interesting in the Afterlife with Archie series. I might actually pick that up.”

Answer: Far surpassed my expectations.  Looking forward to the volume 2.

Mike from Canada writes: “Where do you get your smoked bones from?  I’m always afraid to give my dog bones, I’ve heard so many stories about dogs dying or getting surgery to fix a perforated colon.”

Answer: I picked them up at my local butcher shop (Market Meats on West 4th Ave.).  Jelly and Bubba have maybe six teeth between them so I’m not too worried about them doing much damage.  It’s tough little Lulu we have to keep an eye on.

dasndanger writes: “I think I recommended that you read The Passage like…10 years ago.”

Answer: My to-read pile is actually three piles, 25 books deep.  Every time I pick a book (at random), it is replaced by a title from my recent-purchase pile – which is usually about 12 deep.  My home library holds several hundred books, half of which I have to get around to reading.  I’ve read 114 books so far this year.  I’m surprised I got around to it that quickly!

dasndanger also writes: “So, Joe…now it’s time for you to recommend – or not – a book to me. The Last Policeman sounds interesting, but right now I can’t take anything that’s too depressing.”

Answer: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.  Loved it.  Reminiscent of Elizabeth Moon’s The Speed of Dark.

Alfredo De La Fe:”Joe, I started reading your blog because of Stargate but I keep reading it because the way you treat your dogs won me over! (Not to mention that I am a bit of a foodie) You are a great example of a good pet owner.”

Answer: Very kind of you.  And I’ll be the first to admit: these dogs are spoiled!

dasndanger writes: “RIP sweet lady… http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v54/dasNdanger/laurenbacall_zpsff794c3c.jpg

Answer: She was wonderful.  Loved her cameo on The Sopranos.

skua writes: “O Captain! My Captain!”

Answer: Very sad.  Whenever I’d hear stories from people who met Robin Williams, they would ALWAYS be extremely positive encounters.  He was, by all accounts, a genuinely nice guy.

Mike A. writes: “Haha! Changlorious Basterds. From Community, of course.”

Answer: You’re the second person to I.D. the t-shirts (the other person being the cashier at the Whole Foods checkout).

Tam Dixon writes: “Cool T’s! What’s the translation on that t with an apple?”

Answer: “Death” as in “Death Note”.  It’s an anime series.  Check it out.

Line Noise writes: “My old friend Boxy! I used to play with him when I was a kid! How did he end up in Vancouver?”

Answer: He was actually headed to Ibiza for a CD launch party but boarded the wrong flight.

Lorinda writes: “Roxie (the dog) is a service dog for my daughter and we wondered if anyone knows any organization who would help pay for the $5000 surgeries.”

Answer: Hmmm.  Have you considered doing a GoFundMe?  If you do, I’d be happy to put the word out for you.

Roger Reynolds writes: “Do what is right, only you know what that is. If she has more good than bad days, then you’re OK. If not, you’ve got tough decisions to make.”

Answer: Mobility issues aside, she’s in great spirits.  She’s very happy and her appetite remains strong.

tinamarlin writes: ” But for pain management and anti-inflammation issues, you might pick up some 100% moringa capsules.”

Answer: Thanks for the tip.  I’ll look into this.

Brandon Y. writes: “Obviously we all want the show to return, but the most likely scenario would be a movie.”

Answer: Alas, the fans of the three Stargate television shows are out of luck.  MGM has green lit a big screen reboot of the original Devlin and Emmerich movie.

Chapa Siriwardena writes: “also finally I would like to thank Joseph Mallozzi, Brad Wright, Robert C. Cooper, Carl Binder and all the team who involved in making SGU for giving us one of the Greatest Sci-Fi TV shows in the television history. Thanks Guys. :)”

Answer: You’re very welcome.  Keep your eye out for our new SF series – we can’t announce yet – which premieres in 2015!

May 19, 2012: Amateur Blogging Made Difficult: My Top Ten Tips for the Online Personal Journalerer. Er.

So, despite having done this for over five years now, I apparently break all the fundamental rules of successful blogging.  I don’t market my blog, make money off it through advertising, stick to a single niche or dedicated theme, and, perhaps worst of all, do not limit myself to the recommended weekly entry.  Instead, my daily ramblings cover everything from Tokyo maid cafes to my hatred of ceviche and kiwis (not to be confused with Newsies, the people of New Zealand).  Sure, I could make it easier on myself by not being so prolific, but I’m on a roll here – five years’ worth of continuous daily blogging! – and just can’t bring myself to stop now.

Daily blogging is not without its challenges.  Yes, I’m a writer, but you’re sorely mistaken if you believe (like my ex sister-in-law) that I “just sit around all day, making stuff up”.  I can’t just turn it on and off like my friend, Martin Gero, does comedy (P.S. If you ever run into him on the street, ask him to say or do something funny.  You won’t be disappointed.).  I need to be inspired.  Or, if not inspired, then at least have a somewhat interesting topic to discuss.  Every day I wake up wondering “What am I going to blog about today?” and, eventually, it hits me – sometimes right that moment, sometimes late in the evening when I’m in a half lucid state from eating too much chocolate and ice cream.  Sooner or later, something comes.

Like today, for instance, when I received the following question from KevininNS: “Was wondering if you could comment sometime on your blog preparation/planning process? Do you have a set schedule/routine for it? Since you’ve written every single day, with a wide variety of content, i’m thinking you probably do.  Although since you’re also a writer by occupation, maybe you don’t.”

And that’s when it hit me, today’s blog topic: I would write about having nothing to write about.

Well, that’s not exactly true.  Although it seems like a lead a glamorous and exciting life filled with eroticism and high-adventure, the fact is my life is not all that different from yours (minus your funny hats but plus my awesome collection of supervillain statues).  I do have an edge however.  Being a writer, I can make the most mundane experiences sound interesting and inviting, like traveling to Tokyo and visiting 29 restaurants (totaling 34 Michelin stars) in two weeks or, say, working in television. It aint easy, but it can be done.

So to answer your questions, Kevin, little if any preparation goes into this blog.  I blog at all hours of the day, covering a variety of topics, with no schedule or routine because I am in a perenially panicked state. When will I have time to update my blog?  Is this topic interesting enough?  Will my failure to comment on her comment for two successive mailbags offend blog regular Das?

The reality is that coming up with a constant source of material for daily blogging can be tough.  Fortunately, I have some tips to make the daunting and drudgerous task of writing for others a simple and relatively pleasant experience:

1. Try to do at least one interesting thing a day (ie. making your own oatmeal or watching old episodes of Vampire Diaries out of order) and write about it.  In the event what you do isn’t interesting, then take a picture of it and post that.

2. Upload embarrassing and potentially incriminating photos and videos of yourself.  Don’t worry.  The internet is a place where nameless individuals come together in love, respect, and mutual support.  That’s why it was invented, after all.

3. When blogging, always try to write something you know nothing about.  Take the reader along with you on your journey of discovery.

4. Drink while blogging.  Booze makes you more charming.  Not most people, but you.

5. Schedule one epic rant every 7-8 months to bring in new readers. Choose an easy target most people can line up against (ie. Polygamous Walruses or Buddhists Who Don’t Tip).

6. Set your blog apart from all the others by adopting a unique writing style.  Old English would be ideal but, if you’re not fluent, then try peppering your articles with random words in Welsh or Tagalog. Alternately, you might want to consider writing in another accent. British for instance: “I say, that was a positively smashing entry, wot?”.

7. Come up with catchy titles for your entries (ie. “White-faced Saki Monkey Wins Parcheesi Championship!” or “Five Easy Steps to Wealth, Weight Loss, and Marriage to that Celebrity You’re Obsessed With!”). Don’t forget the exclamation marks!!!

8. Leave comments on other high-traffic sites and don’t forget to include backlinks to your blog.  Make sure your comment is succinct and engaging (“I think we may hooked up the last time I was in town!).

9. Readers today have the attention spans of caffeinated meerkats so make sure your blog stands out.  Grab their attention and keep it by festooning your home page with hyper-kinetic multi-colored visual elements: emoticons, funny gifs, flashing borders and multiple frames and sub-frames.  Take a page out of MySpace’s success story.

10. This goes without saying, but there’s nothing more frustrating than reading a sloppy article.  Before you hit publish, make sure you’ve prfread your work!

Febrary 20, 2009: Early Returns Are Positive!

Great news! It looks like I won’t be asked to pack up my office and escorted off the lot for the time being. Rob, who has been spending his days on set since the start of production, called this afternoon to tell me he liked my script. Always good to hear, but especially so given that: a) It’s my first script for a new series with all new characters, b) It’s the all-important first part of the mid-season two-parter, and c) Rob is a pretty tough critic. Then again, maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to order that new bookshelf since the other producers have yet to weigh in, among them Brad, an equally tough critic who also happens to be the second half of the team that created the show.

You never can tell. Sometimes, you may feel unsatisfied with a script, only to have the response come back surprisingly positive. Other times, you’ll feel great about a script only to have the response come back overwhelmingly negative. I was having this discussion with Carl today and told him that it never fails – always, halfway through your latest script, those same thoughts crop up in the back of your mind: “This isn’t working!”, “I peaked with my last script and it’s all downhill from there!”, and “Well, it was a good ride while it lasted I guess I can use whatever money I‘ve saved up to buy a bar in a Belize and play out the rest of the string in Central America.”. And, even when you finish the script and you do end up liking what you’ve written, there’s always that smidgen of doubt that leaves you wondering whether you like it because it’s good or whether you like it because you’ve re-read it so many times that what you’re responding to is not so much the quality of the writing as it is its internal rhythm imprinting on you. But you polish it and hand it in anyway, not because you’re eager for feedback, but on the off-chance that you may drop dead of a heart attack or get creamed by a bus before you even get the chance to deliver it, meaning your last script (and final two week’s of your life) would sit forgotten on your laptop amid the countless food pictures, blog drafts, and admittedly hilarious emails cluttering your inbox.

Production Day #3 was again away on location. Monday sees a return to the lot and Stage 5: Icarus Base!

Finally, a reminder to finish up Info quake (David Louis Edelman) because discussion on the book begins on Monday. And start on The Book of Joby (Mark J. Ferrari). And line up copies of Dogs (Nancy Kress), Powers: Who Killed Retro Girl? (Brian Michael Bendis), The Big Over Easy: A Nursery Crime (Jasper Fforde), and Poe: 19 New Tales Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe (edited by Ellen Datlow) for the weeks ahead. We’ve got guest authors coming by, so don’t miss out!

Let’s play catch-up with the mailbag:

Belouchi writes: “1.) Can we expect more brillant space ship battles for the upcoming Stargate Atlantis movie?
2.) Will We get to see you making a Cameo appearance in the movie?
3.) Will the Wraith still exist beyond project twilight?
4.) What did John Sheppard mean when he told Todd the Wraith in the Enemy at the gates: “let’s make sure it won’t happen again…”

Answers: 1) I wouldn’t expect anything. That way, you’ll be delightfully surprised. 2) No. 3) Now why would I answer a question like that and deny fans like Das the fun of agonizing over the awful possibilities? 4) Maybe we’ll find out in the movie.

Shirt ’N Tie writes: “Keep meaning to ask, Mr M… what’s the latest on your short story? So, Retirement Home scene done, Brow beating hotel room scene done, what next?”

Answer: I’m past the hotel room browbeating, went for a drive, and have pulled up outside the science center. Big reunion scene upcoming. Then, it’s a startling impromptu visit, a return to the scene, all hell breaks loose, and the revelatory conclusion. Thanks for asking.

Belouchi also writes: “ 1. I was wondering if the Alternate Nanite made Atlantis Team from this Mortal Coil were all killed at the end of the episode?

2. In the Episode Midway, if all the wraith were eliminated would that mean that their Cruiser is still left on that barren pegasus planet that is connected to the Mckay-Carter intergalactic gate system?

3. I was wondering after seeing Enemy at the Gate, Todd says he stole more than three ZPMS, but in Spoils of War we saw that wraith carrying a pouch containing exactly three ZPMS. We assumed three were used and destroyed in the cloning facility, one was used and destroyed on the Super Hive and two were gifted to Atlantis. This doesnt make sense can please explain”

Answers: 1) Yes, they were. 2) If they were all eliminated and didn’t leave anyone behind to man the cruiser then, yes, it’s still out there. 3) You assume that there was only one case, the one you saw.

Les Ferris writes: “According to a couple of sites, Alaina Huffman has been cast as Tamara Jon. Is this true?”

Answer: I followed the links to the sites in question and some of them have posted pictures of Alaina. I think she’s beautiful.

Duneknight writes: “Hey, Joe, since you’re writing for TV, may I ask you what scriptwriting software do you use?”

Answer: Movie Magic Screenwriter.

Sfclaire99 writes: “Ummmm….guest star? I thought Robert was a series lead/regular? Or am I nit picking?”

Answer: Not nitpicking but assuming – that the guest star I’m referring to is Robert. He’s a regular.

February 12, 2009: Pre-Production Update and Those Things Better Left Said or Unsaid?

As another week draws to a close we inch ever closer to our first day of principal photography. We had the costume fittings on Monday and then the super-secret closed-door invitation-only cast read thru on Tuesday. Yesterday was the stage tech survey for Air #1, #2, and #3 while the production meeting for all three episodes was held today. It was followed by the Safety Meeting which, I‘m disappointed to say, fellow writer/producer did NOT attend on our behalf. Given that we is the writing department’s appointed Safety Representative (in addition to Official Synopsis Writer, Food Taster, and Chairman of our Green Initiative), he really should have been there taking assiduous notes on things like the restriction on open-toe sandals and the indiscriminate use of helium cryogenic-system cooled super magnets on set. What the hell are we supposed to do now? Use our common sense?! The all important Hair and Make-Up Tests tomorrow will be followed by a second cast read thru and, if all goes as planned, the weekend.

So, we’ve got our first three episodes on deck – Air #1, #2, and #3 – and veteran director (and cyrogenic-system cooled super magnet collector) Andy Mikita will be doing the honors. Brad is working on Fire and, from what I hear, is very happy with the way it’s coming along. It’s a great story and, as I’ve already said, right up Brad’s alley. Looking forward to reading the first draft. This episode will see a certain fan favorite retake the director’s chair. Marty G. sent in his revised version of Earth weeks ago, but we have yet to sit down and discuss. Carl, meanwhile, completed his rewrite on Water and awaits word on whether he’ll be doing another pass or handing it off. At 57 pages and given the type of episode it is, Rob feels he’s going to need to trim it down. Rob has had his hands full, dealing with prep issues, but, in the interim, has been spinning episode #7 in his head. This one promises to be a lot of WTF?! fun. Carl also submitted an outline for episode #8, received notes, and is poised to do a rewrite – just as soon as he finishes work on a certain movie script. Paul has landed the polish of episode #9 and I’m presently tinkering with the my completed first draft of episode #10. Episode #11 is still in its initial outline stage, but freelance script and episode #12 is shaping up to be a very interesting dilemma story.

Next week, we welcome another potential freelancer who will be flying in, no doubt armed with ideas and ready to spin. And – we finally start shooting!

Still on track to complete a first draft of my short story by month’s end. I woke up early to work on it this morning but only ended up spinning my wheels. I’m hoping for a late night flash of inspiration that will allow me to strike that precarious balance between subtlety and significance. One of the critiques I tend to hear a lot of with regard to my writing is that it is, at times, cryptic and purposely ambiguous. I’ll admit as much and this stems from three things: a) a desire to challenge the audience, b) my hard-to-shake confidence in the intelligence of the average viewer/reader, c) my general distaste for on-the-nose storytelling that spells out exactly what the character is feeling or thinking in no uncertain terms. And so, I end up second-guessing myself. On the one hand, am I being so understated that the narrative comes off as glib and, ultimately, insubstantial? Or, on the other hand, am I being all too direct and conveying a sense of amateur desperation? Hopefully neither and my prose will elicit a positive reaction, falling somewhere between the two ends of the shifting spectrum: utterly baffling and downright cringeworthy. Although, at the end of the day, I suppose I’d rather err on the side of subtlety and, at the very least, try and fail rather than take the easy out. That said, it does work for some people. In fact, there are a number of popular authors whose prose is so earnest that I find them completely unreadable. And yet, they have an audience.

A terrific dinner with Ivon and Lawren tonight. Will file a proper report – with pics – in the coming days.