March 30, 2010

I’ve recently accepted a position with as their Twin Cities Filmmaking Industry Examiner.  As such, I imagine my entries here will taper for a bit.  I’m not sure the Examiner column will be as fulfilling as this blog, but I’ll give it a shot.  Stop by and say hello:

March 20, 2010


“The more original a discovery, the more obvious it seems afterwards.” – Arthur Koestler

This list by screenwriting teacher Michael Hauge shouldn’t be necessary.  His tips here are so obvious that anyone writing a screenplay should just know them instinctively.

Right.  And Kansas was a lock to win this year’s NCAA Tournament.

Take special note of tip #4 from this list which is a close relative of the old screenwriting axiom – enter late, leave early.  So many screenplays I read spend a great amount of ink on “hello, how are you?” lines.  Instead of describing how two people meet each other, it’s more efficient to jump right into the conversation that necessitates the scene’s inclusion in the screenplay.

Of course, all bets are off on first drafts.  I break many of these rules in the first draft or two, but when the screenplay reaches the point where I’m ready to expose it to other eyes, I’d better have eliminated all violations.  If not, shame on me.

March 12, 2010

No Kidding the Block

“People have writer’s block not because they can’t write, but because they despair of writing eloquently.” – Anna Quindlen

My tendency is to try to write an excellent first draft of a screenplay.  I reason to myself that my rewriting will be less painful if I get my best stuff on the page the first time through.  One major problem arises from this mindset – I fret over the first words so much that I often get no words on the page.

Ms. Quindlen’s observation couldn’t fit me much better.  I’m in a constant battle with myself to turn off the censor, douse the inner editor, and muzzle the relentless perfectionist ensconced in the nether regions of my brain.  They are only welcome at the late draft parties, yet they crash the early ones.

How do I defeat my counterproductive habits that disallow quantitative writing? This short list from Dr. Format himself, Dave Trottier, may be a good place to start.

And really… no matter how hard I try, the first draft always sucks.  That’s just the way it is.

March 9, 2010


“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” – George Bernard Shaw

Hindsight is 20/20.  What seemed like a good idea at the time can so often be revealed as a boneheaded move when reflected upon later.  In this list from Heidi Van Lier, a columnist with Film Independent, Ms. Van Lier highlights some of the peculiar mistakes she witnessed independent filmmakers make last year.  My favorite is #19 because I’ve seen many movies seemingly made in such a way.

It’s easy to roll our eyes, shake our heads, or blow a short puff of air through our nostrils as we pity the poor saps whose idiocy trumps our own.  But at least they got themselves into position to make those mistakes.  As Mr. Shaw profoundly states, it’s useless to sit on the sidelines only to avoid potential mistakes.  Go out there.  Make mistakes.  The alternative is boring.

March 3, 2010


“An optimist is the human personification of spring.” – Susan Bissonette 

In Minnesota, March means one thing and one thing only: the end is near.  Four months of four-walled banishment is finally melting away.  While March is statistically the second snowiest month for the Twin Cities, the promise of rising temperatures and lengthening daylight hours is a much needed breath of optimism.

I’ve diagnosed myself with many things, mostly in jest, but if I don’t officially have Seasonal Affective Disorder, I have the red-headed stepchild version of it.  For me, March is the light at the end of the barren tunnel brightening my cup just enough to see that it just may be half full instead of half empty.

This year, I’m going to treat March less like a noun and more like a verb – as in, march ahead, march forward, march of dimes… wait, not that last one.

No more waiting around for phone calls and e-mails to be returned.  No more waiting for perfect opportunities to saunter up to my doorstep.  No more hiding.  No more begging.  No more self pity.  No more self doubt.  No more…