script

In Which I Return to Blogging But Don't Talk Much About Screenwiting

If you’re ever trying to use the OS X Terminal to delete invisible files from a hidden folder that pretends the files aren’t even there, and you become convinced that it would be a good idea to type the following command:

rm -rv *

DON’T DO IT. You will spend the next 10 hours sitting at that computer running Data Recovery Software and hoping you don’t have to tell the guy who hired you to edit his documentary that you lost most of the footage through sheer stupidity.

This is a perfect segue into mentioning that I moved to LA six months ago and am scraping by a living in the film business through a combination of Production Assistant and Editing work.

I could go on about it, but that would be BO-RING.

I’m editing two feature movies right now—the one where I just lost all the footage (and that is now supplying me with the free time to write this post), and another one.

The Other One is a film shot by this Art Director I know. She said to me one day (truncated version of hybrid email/face-to-face conversation follows):

ART DIRECTOR: Hey, I made this short film. Wanna edit it for free? *
RYAN: Sure! What’s up with it?
ART DIRECTOR: It’s a half-hour drama about a woman who yells at a homeless lady and then feels bad about it, so she goes on a journey to find homeless lady and give her back something she dropped.
RYAN: Sounds EXCITING! I’m in.
ART DIRECTOR: OK.** Here’s the script. Don’t mind that it’s 45 pages long; that’s just because I’m not good at formatting a script.
RYAN: Cool. I’ll get right to it.

Almost needless to say at this point, her movie is not going to be 45 minutes long. It’s going to be more like 60 minutes long. Because while she was correct about her lack of formatting expertise, she was wrong in her assumption that this would make her movie SHORTER than the page count of the script.

So I called her back a couple days later and said: “Uhmmm … I’ve done eight pages worth of script and have 25 minutes worth of movie. I think this is going to be a feature.”

The awesome part of this story (to me), is that this lady actually shot a feature film, BUT DIDN’T REALIZE IT. She thought it was going to be 25-30 minutes. ACTUALLY AN HOUR. Awesome.

So now I’m editing a feature. And another feature.

If I can recover all this footage I deleted.


*Syntactical challenge: This sentence contains two word pairings that are difficult to pronounce. See if you can figure out which ones!
**Spelling note: I hate it when people spell the word: “OK.” But I recently learned that this is actually correct. The people who spell it “okay” are wrong. So now I’m trying to force myself to do it right, however painful.


Best. Vacation. Ever.

My vacation is hours from ending, but I have actually accomplished what I set out to do.

Firstly, I finished rewrites on the rom-com and sent it to an agent, as noted below.

Secondly, I banged out the last 86 pages of the book adaptation I started some time ago.

Finally, and most recently, I chopped a fairly ruthless 15 pages out of that script to get it under the 120-page marker.

Now it goes out to my trusted readers (and some new readers, hurray!). If they have major quarrels with it, there may be rewrites. Otherwise, or whenever the rewrites are done, I will have three quite solid feature scripts to toss at the semi-curious or, failing that, the merely unwary, once I move to LA.

Or whenever I might happen to meet them.

I can now focus my energies on getting my stupid house into shape to rent and trying to land a job in the movie business, however menial.

If only I had more vacation ….

I Blame My Wife

Marriage kills your discipline. Well, that’s not true. It just gives you a million additional things to think about, so you never think about writing ever again. At least, not enough to do any.

So I blame my wife. :) *

But actually, I do have 23 pages of the Nightmare book adaptation done. It’s going quite well, when it’s going. I loves me my adaptation. It’s like Michaelangelo and sculpting: I just cut away anything that isn’t the movie.

In other news, David gave me some notes on my rom-com, so once I’m done with the adaptation, I have somewhere else to go. I’m not going there yet, because I’m still a little sick of that script, but eventually I will have to give it some final attention.

And finally, I have made my first dollar as a screenwriter. Really. $1.00.

I’ve had a short script on inktip.com for almost a year now, and after many other dead-end inquiries, these guys finally liked it enough to at least plan to produce it. There’s no money in shorts, so they were only willing to part with a dollar for it.

But I don’t care. It’s a production credit (hopefully). And it’s at least a tiny bit of validation. Writers need validation.

I’ve also noticed that adding an option (albeit a free one) to my profile on Inktip actually results in more hits for my other scripts. Thus, a “halo effect,” if you will.

That’s right: Shorts are the iPod of screenwriting, baby.

I’m such a geek.

Anyway, things are moving, if a little slowly. And also, despite my above complaint, marriage is great.

And yes, Greg, I know I’m supposed to do that 10-item list for which you tagged me. But you can’t jump back into blogging after a two-month-long absence with something like that. You just can’t.

* It’s okay. She knows I love her.

And Just a Few Weeks Later ...

So I still exist, and I still write things down, and I still blog with the diligence of a baby goldfish, but the main difference, the really essential thing that separates the me who last posted from the current me is that one of us is wearing a ring to match the one pictured below.

In short: got married.

If I’m feeling really nice about it and if my attention doesn’t wander, sometime later you might see an image or so from the happy event and subsequent vacation, but right now, I have more important things to talk about.

I don’t blog to talk about my personal life. It’s not how I roll.

No, the real news here, my friends, is that bare days before being linked up to the beautiful blonde of recent mention, I posted a feature script on Inktip.com.

That’s right, with complete disregard for whatever my fellow scribes may eventually say about this script whenever they have a chance to read it, I surged ahead and sent it out into the world all on its own.

It was only the free Inktip 10-day trial, which since expired. But it seemed to be garnering at least a little attention, so I just now this night shelled out the cash to put it back on for the full term of six months.

We’ll see what happens.

If I can get some feedback on it, and make what will hopefully be relatively small corresponding adjustments, I will later start querying it out. That’s a hint to some of you. *Insert Winning Smile Here*

But until that happens, we are moving on.

If you will look to the right, Ladies and Gentlemen, you will see that the “Polygamy Rewrite” has been pushed down in favor of a new spec adaptation, which I am going to refer to for the moment as “The Nightmare.”

Feel thrilled.

I’m excited about this adaptation. I’ve never done one of those, and I really love this source material. And I’m excited about starting my first new script in (I think) eight months.

So scamper off and let me work.

Note for my Xanga-using friends: surprising as it may seem, I am one of the last Blogger bloggers to allow non-Bloggers to comment. So you can keep commenting at my Xanga blog, but you don’t have to.

Other Eyes

All the cutting is done on my rom-com. I think. It’s six pages longer than I wanted, but I think that might be okay.

While I was at it, I worked in some character development and dialogue adjustments. I could probably keep tweaking this thing indefinitely, but I really feel like it’s very close to finished, so it’s time to get some Other Eyes on it.

Other Eyes are good. They’re fresh, and they can look at things with perspective, whereas I am mired in my own work and may be currently incapable of honest evaluation.

It’s a great feeling.

I did the same thing when I was a graphic design student. In an early 2-D design class, I had to produce a work incorporating (I think) seven different tricks for creating the three-dimensional illusion.

I spent days just thinking about what I was going to do before I ever started drawing. I figured out how I was going to use each and every one of these tools, and also how in the process I was going to paint something totally kick-ass.

I worked it hard, and felt pretty good about my watercolor masterpiece when it was done. The instructor critiqued everyone’s project in class those days, and when he got to mine -

I got 3 out of the 7. Four, if he was being nice. And he probably wasn’t.

If only I’d asked someone else whether they thought the piece was complete, instead of just making an assumption.

You know what happens when you make an assumption?

I’d rather not make an ass out of you and umption when it comes to sending out this script. So hopefully some cat like Greg will be able to help me decide if it’s ready for the world or needs some more TLC.

It better be ready soon. I’m sick of writing comedy.

Cut, Cut, Cut

So when last heard from, I was trying to cut 148 pages down to 100ish pages. Special thanks to Emily Blake for the progress bar info, which adds some snazziness (oh yeah, it’s a word).

I thought at first that I was going to have to cut huge chunks out of some of my favorite scenes, which kind of run a little long. However, I discovered that I can probably just go through and tighten them all up and still come out significantly shorter. The real cutting is in my connecting scenes between the set-pieces, which tend to be horribly extended by pleasant but irrelevant dialogue.

So I had all kinds of fun last night writing an eight-page replacement for a 20-page sequence. In the process I got to take it out of the realm of People Talking In Rooms and make it fun, with snappier dialogue and physical abuse. Great stuff.

So that’s all. Nothing else too exciting, just working away. I hope to be done with all of this rewrite by February 28, when I go see this girl