April 27, 2009

William Morris and Endeavor Merge

Two of the biggest talent agencies in the world have joined forces to form the William Morris Endeavor Agency.  This merger has little if any impact on an outsider like me, but this is big Hollywood news.  Read it about it here.

My only experiences with the formerly separate agencies were a query to William Morris a couple years ago and a brief series of phone calls discussing one of Endeavor’s talents who I was trying to attract to a project.  Both agencies were cordial in there rejections.  ;)

April 23, 2009


Random Writers Resource

Creative Screenwriting recently offered a PDF listing 50+ producers and agents who openly accept queries.  Cost is $19.95.  Might be a good investment if it opens the right door.  Click the pic below for details.

April 19, 2009


“Everything that can be invented has been invented.” – Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899

In his column in the January/February 2009 issue of Creative Screenwriting, Karl Iglesias offers a list of screenwriting resolutions.  I already follow several of his suggestions – Experiment in a new genre, Eat less junk food and exercise regularly, Never stop learning, Develop new relationships – but one very tangible goal that I’d like to adopt, even though I’m already behind by 3 months, is to develop a new script idea every week of the year.  That’s right, Mr. Iglesias suggests 52 new script ideas in 2009.

That’s a lot.  In my lifetime I’ll be lucky to write a total of 52 screenplays, so why bother trying to drum up a new idea every week?  There’s no way I’ll be able to turn more than four dozen concepts into feature length stories before some of the concepts lose their timeliness.  I think that’s one of the benefits of Mr. Iglesias’ suggestion.

For every great screenplay idea I have (no, really, I’ve had a few) I have many, many sub-par ideas.  In some cases the concept itself is unimaginative, while other times there simply isn’t enough meat there to cook a worthy stew.  So playing the percentages I’m bound to come up with at least a few ideas worthy of the transformation from concept to 100 page masterpiece.

It’s easy (and dangerous) to believe, similarly to Charles H. Duell, that every great movie idea has already been thought of by someone else.  It’s commonly suggested that only seven basic plots exist, so the trick is to choose one of the seven and tell it in a new way.

You never know where the inspiration for that new great story will come from – newspaper, magazine, book, mall, highway, backyard – so it’s best to be prepared and always looking to turn even a simple occurrence into a scene, character, or entire plot.  My problem is I don’t carry a tape recorder or notepad around with me, but I’m considering one or the other.  I’d hate to forget my idea about dinosaurs created genetically and placed on an island amusement park.  I think that idea could have some legs.

April 14, 2009


“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.” – Oscar Wilde

The story of new filmmaker Jacob Medjuck and his first self-produced feature, Summerhood, was featured in the January/February 2009 issue of Creative Screenwriting magazine.  Mr. Medjuck’s story is both inspiring and cautionary.

After a 30 day shoot for a movie funded by 44 private investors, Mr. Medjuck claims the first cut of Summerhood was as long as “all three Godfather films put together.”  Obvious exaggeration aside, his shooting script was a lengthy 130 pages, not a single word of which was offered for the investors’ approval.

The auteur laments of his herculean task in post-production of rewriting the movie, something he advises others to do at the appropriate time of pre-production.  The story and ending changed in post along with the dismissing of two central characters which he had to digitally remove from several scenes.

My post-production for Horror House lasted much longer than I anticipated or wanted to tolerate.  The major setbacks were due to technology, the troubleshooting for which I have little to no patience.  I can’t imagine going through what Mr. Medjuck went through in digitally removing characters and changing the entire movie in post.  Horror House, for all its imperfections, is at least a coherent story with no irrelevant scenes.  Of course there are scenes I’d change a bit if I could – a result of my obsessive self-loathing perfectionism – but outside of one tiny scene I dropped in editing, the finished movie is the movie we shot.  Preparation saved us from extraneous production which saved us money.

Horror House worked on the whole because we took the time to write and rewrite the screenplay a number of times.  But… it should have been rewritten again.  Nothing too significant, but the differences between a good movie and a great movie are rarely major.

The best place to start addressing those minor tweaks and adjustments is in the screenwriting phase where a delete key can be the needed messiah for your movie.  Why mediocre screenplays are continually made into bad movies is beyond me.

Just to be clear, I am not claiming Horror House would have been a great movie with one or more rewrites of the screenplay.  It could have been better than it is, but greatness was pretty much out of our reach.  We simply lacked the budget, equipment, and resources to achieve the level for which I ultimately aspire.  Then again, I hate excuses…

April 8, 2009


Random Writers Resource 3

Boy, if you’re able to attend this free screenwriting event, you definitely should!  Click on the picture for details.  If you go, take notes and share them with me!

April 2, 2009


“Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.” – Sir Winston Churchill

2009, thus far the most important year of my journey, is already one quarter through.  I don’t feel any closer today to my goal than I did three months ago, but validating Mr. Churchill’s claim, I have taken many fruitful steps – I updated my demo reel, updated my resume, sent a dozen or so queries, assisted in the launching of two new programs on my Internet channel, read a few wonderful books, listened to a number of excellent podcasts, connected with a few more industry folk, and put on a few more pounds of muscle.  No really, it’s muscle.  I swear.

I just started a new screenplay and I am in production of my new mock soap opera pilot which I will send out and release in short increments online.  In the coming weeks I hope to form a new group for Twin Cities screenwriters, and I have already talked with an actor friend about forming a support group for those of us in the community who are serious about making a career in the film business.

I’ve been approached by a few people looking at getting into the acting industry and offered as much advice as I was able.  And I started this blog hoping to assist others in the same boat.

Will any of my first quarter efforts draw me to my goal for this year?  It’s impossible to say at this point, but the destination matters only as much as the quality of the journey.