Sunday, February 19, 2006

Where Are My Pages????

OK, I'm going to admit that I've been in hiding for the last few weeks. I didn't meet with my writer who is visiting Los Angeles from New York this weekend because I had a 101 degree fever, and last week, I totally blew off a girlfriend of mine. BUT, I did do some charity work, bugged an actor to help out with a war-refugee foundation I'm helping (this is the direction I'd like my "real" life to take), and I drove to the Bay Area. Twice. Do Not Ask Why..... That said, I thought I'd take this precious time away from my tivo'ing of Grey's Anatomy to add the promised posts.

Green, newbie and baby writers

It's not a bad thing to be a wannabe. Everybody in the entertainment industry is. Even people who've "made it". Let's face it, unless you are actually in production or under contract, you're a wannabe. (Even when you're a studio exec with a nice cushy deal, you wanna be the head of a studio, or hustle up your own production deal or at least get your movie made.) And a LOT of people aren't working at any given time. Your job is to remember that, and keep on trucking anyway. New talent is the lifeblood of managers and producers. Successful companies (like Bender Spink, Kaplan/Perrone, et al) know this and foster an open door policy. Do not make the mistake of blowing your wad on any single piece of material. Have several projects in various stages of readiness (i.e., 2-3 scripts, a few treatments, some short-form material, non-screenwriting material, a few outlines, and a few concept pitches you can flesh out within a few days' time) to share when you get your break. Or one kick-ass SEVEN, TRAINING DAY, USUAL SUSPECTS type spec that will burn the eyeballs of anyone who reads it.

Craft is craft, Art is something else entirely

Because I'm working on my book (fiction, not film industry related AT ALL), I'm going to focus on writers today. Directors are a whole other thing. I love directors, have worked (at times uncomfortably) closely with quite a few, but the work is very different. That said, writers: please take an acting class. Yes, I mean you. I know it sucks to get out from behind the desk and be seen in public, however, unless you're on FIRE, you need an acting class. Preferably one which will teach you how to break a scene down beat by beat. Learning how to create emotional beat work will keep your characters from suffering from plot-watching overload. There's a veracity to the emotional work when you've "thought" it through your emotional apparatus. I personally prefer acting teachers who've had some method/stanislavsky background. Uta Hagen's RESPECT FOR ACTING book is an excellent start, and for those of you living in New York, get your butts in gear and get involved with a theater group. Screenwriting is great, but if you can learn scene work doing 1-2 act plays for a small troupe, you will be far ahead of the game when you get here.

All that aside, do not confuse YOUR (and my) appreciation for your fancy footwork with commercial viability or the ability to get work. Craftsmanship in Hollywood is like building Michelangelo David and having someone use it for a coatrack, right? Don't despair. Your hardwork pulling together your craft will pay off. This does not mean run off and pitch that epic romance set against a backdrop of the fall of Constantinople. Some people like banging their heads against the wall and writing material that no one is going to make without a fight. I'm one of those people myself. If you'd like a more reasonable approach, take the above advice and write an emotionally truthful genre piece and you will win big.

I'm going to promise a post on commercial ideas, but not when I'll be able to post it. I'm raising money for a documentary, a charity and me. I do not want to return to the darkside, but economic conditions may force me to...*sigh* Here's hoping my little rain dance at least yields a few clouds.... Everybody's on the hustle in Hollywood.


writergurl said...

Once agin, you deliver the goods, and have my thanks.

writebrother said...

I took an introductory acting class last year and it helped me in a few different ways. First of all it helped me become a bit more outgoing since I had to do ridiculous things in front of a people such as imitating a manatee. It also gave me a better grasp of the interaction between actors, which will not only improve my dialogue but the pacing of my scenes as well.