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Archive for the Category "My Experiences"

MY DEMON GIRLFRIEND – Teaser Trailer Feb 06

Here’s the teaser trailer for a short film I wrote and directed, called My Demon Girlfriend. It will be released next week in time for Valentine’s Day.

My Demon Girlfriend is a horror comedy short about a lovable loser looking to introduce his friends to his new date… only to discover that there may be more to her than meets the eyes.

#KrillithIsComing

Still from My Demon Girlfriend

The Hobbit and High Frame Rate Dec 22

Legolas or just Orlando Bloom?Liked the movie. Hated the high frame rate.

In select IMAX theaters they’re showing the The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug with the higher frame rate (48 frames per second vs. the standard 24 frames per second). Having never seen a movie with this controversial format before, I was excited to experience the high frame rate (HFR), which promised more vivid and realistic images.

Within the first few moments of the film (and Peter Jackson cameo), I immediately understood why there was so much controversy over this format. The images were crisp and life-like… and didn’t look like a movie.

What was it like?

My brother said it was like watching a televised BBC production (TV has a higher frame rate than movies). Some people liken the experience to watching a play. I’d go one step further. It was like watching really clear behind the scenes footage of a movie, where you see the actor in costume rehearsing their lines — and at no time confuse them for their characters.

And that’s the problem. It looked too realistic. In many cases, I stopped seeing a character, and started seeing an actor with imperfect skin and contact lenses. I stopped seeing an Elf Forest, and started seeing fake tree props.

If you’ve ever been on a movie set, you’ll quickly notice how fake everything looks in real life. Why the hell would I want that? I want LARGER than life for my movie experience, thank you very much!

The Art Form

I’m always an early adopter of technology. I love innovation and applaud Peter Jackson for trying this new format out. You never know when something new will resonate with audiences. Believe it or not, “talkies” (i.e. modern movies where you can hear the actors’ voices as they say their lines, instead of reading their dialogue in subtitles) were controversial when they first came out.

But I can’t help but feel like HFR is a solution to a problem that didn’t exist. Movies aren’t reality. They’re heightened reality. The paradox is that making films look more “real” may actually compromise our ability to suspend our disbelief.

If the goal is to make the movie-going experience more like real life, perhaps we should get rid of the score in scenes where there wouldn’t normally be music playing. Or maybe we should shoot all of the scenes from one camera angle. All this jumping from angle to angle stuff isn’t how we view the world.

And when is that smell-o-vision gonna get here? I’m sure audiences would love that. I can think of one scene in particular from Slumdog Millionaire that would be especially… powerful.

Did you see The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug in its higher frame rate? (If you’re unsure, then you probably saw it at one of the majority of theaters where it was played in its converted and standard 24 fps.) What did you think of the format?

Table Read for My Demon Girlfriend Jul 03

Evolution

Table read for MY DEMON GIRLFRIENDAs this blog evolves, and as screenwriters evolve, I’d like to add directing, short films, video production and marketing to the conversation on Scriptwrecked. These days screenwriters need to have a utility belt of skills that they bring to table, in order to get noticed and stay noticed. I’ll continue to post my experiences so that others can benefit from the things I learn and the mistakes I make along the way.

A few weeks ago the cast, and some of the crew, of my short film script, My Demon Girlfriend, got together for a table read. As a screenwriter, I’ve heard actors reading my scripts before, but never for a shoot that I was going to direct. So it was a new experience for me.

What I Learned

Here’s how I did it…

We read through the script once, without stopping. I had a few notes for the actors, then we read through it one more time.

What I’d do next time…

I’d do the initial read through and the second read through, with my notes, again. However, I’d also spend more time using the table read as rehearsal time.

Jenni, Trace and KathrynThere were a few little things I noticed during the read, that I thought I’d just mention afterwards to the actors in a separate email, or that I thought we’d just fix during the rehearsals while we were blocking out the scenes. For the most part, that strategy worked out, but it certainly would have gone smoother if we had rehearsed the scenes a few more times.

As an example, there was one line in particular, where Jenni (the talented actress playing Krillith) put an emphasis on a word that imparted a slightly different meaning than the one I had intended. It wasn’t that big a deal, so I thought I’d just leave it for discussion later.

Unfortunately, on the day of shooting, the actress had solidified her delivery of the line, so when I proposed a change, it was more challenging for her to pull it off naturally. In addition to that, I (mistakenly — shhhh) changed up the line from the one that was in the script, so it took us a few more takes on the day to get it right.

What Else I Learned

There was a wonderful moment during the table read, where Trace (the talented actor playing Chad) tripped over a line, then embellished it into a really humorous moment. It worked so well, that I included it in the final version of the script.

It was a good reminder to always be open to new and better dialogue possibilities. There were also some lines that just kinda fell flat when they were read. The table read gave me a chance to go back and fix them and other issues related to the pacing of the scenes.

If you’re filming a comedy, I recommend having as many of your production team members available during the table read as possible, so that you can hear the laughter from the lines that work and the deathly silence from the ones that don’t.

To see more photos, and for more information about My Demon Girlfriend, please visit our production team’s web site or our Facebook page. If you’re in the Los Angeles or Orange County area, and have some skills or hardware that you’d like to volunteer for a future production, please let me know.

292 Days! May 22

calendar

Time Flies

292 Days. That’s how long it’s been since my last post. Yikes. So where the hell have I been and what have I been doing?

Writing.

As much as I love this blog, it occurred to me a while back, that I didn’t want to be a successful blogger. I wanted to be a successful screenwriter/filmmaker. So it was time to adjust my priorities.

Let’s see how things have panned out so far. In the last 292 days I’ve:

  • Had one script place in the semi-finals of Blue Cat
  • Had another script optioned
  • Had my latest script place in the top 25 (semi-finals) of the Tracking-Board.com’s Launch Pad competition (fingers crossed for the finals)
  • Learned how to use Adobe After Effects
  • Wrote a martial arts action movie that’s in pre-production in Thailand (paid assignment)
  • Wrote a short film, that I’m directing in a few weeks

In a nutshell, things  have been gaining momentum.

My Demon Girlfriend

I’m really excited about the last item I mentioned. The short I’m directing is called My Demon Girlfriend, and it’s a funny little script that may be the start of a web series, and will allow me to showcase my new special effects skills.

I’ll post updates as things progress on the production. I will also be writing other articles about screenwriting, movies and television, that I feel need to be discussed — I’ll just be posting them less frequently.

Bottom line is — I’m back! So stay tuned.

Did you miss me? Or were you happy to have less noise to distract you from your screenwriting career?

The Great American PitchFest 2012 Jun 06

Great American PitchFest Adventures

The Great American PitchFest 2012Thanks to Ben Cahan, and his Talentville contest, I won a free pass to this past weekend’s Great American PitchFest (GAPF)! I was thrilled because the event is always so well put together and truly one of the best ways to get face-time with people who can help you get your movie made.

If you’ve never been to GAPF before, it’s basically speed dating — but with Producers, Directors, Managers and Agents. You pay one flat fee that allows you to have 5 minute meetings with as many people as you can see during the course of the day.

Some of the bigger companies have longer lines, so you have to weigh the benefit of waiting a half an hour to see one key person, versus maximizing your time, and meeting with multiple people. So depending on your predilections you’ll end up pitching between 10 and 20 times during the day.

This year the PitchFest offered its Saturday screenwriting classes and panel discussions for free! That means, even if you didn’t buy a ticket for the PitchFest, you could still come down and learn some new things — all for no charge. If you missed it, keep that in mind for next year, if they do it again.

Miscellanea

Here are some of my random experiences from this year’s Great American PitchFest.

Bob and Signe

The Great American PitchFest is run by two special people — Signe Olynyk and Bob Schultz. During their “Making the Most of…” orientation on Saturday night, I noticed something quite interesting about them. They genuinely cared about making your experience at PitchFest the best it could be.

The Starter Screenplay

One of my writer friends introduced me to a guy named Adam Levenberg, who was selling his screenwriting book — The Starter Screenplay — at a separate kiosk. If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that I devour screenwriting books like chocolate. And not all chocolate is created equal.

After talking with Adam (a current Hollywood Executive) for a few minutes, I knew I had to buy his book. I’m only a few chapters in, but I already know it’s one of the best books out there. I’ll post some nuggets from it in the coming days.

Scene Writing Challenge

The lunch break at PitchFest is crazy long — like an hour and a half or something. So what’s a writer to do after he’s stuffed his face? Write!

The Script-A-Thon was sponsoring the PitchFest’s annual scene writing challenge. You had to hand-write a scene up to 5 pages long, while using the following line of dialogue: “If I’d known you were going to be this easy, I wouldn’t have worn these shoes.” You also had to use this object in a creative way: Pineapple.

I’m proud to say that my scene won!

The best part is that I got to learn all about the Script-A-Thon 30 day screenwriting marathon and competition. If you haven’t signed up for it yet, I highly recommend you do so. The chances of winning are much better than in many other contests, and the caliber of judges is impressive.

Some Great Free Classes

Here are the free sessions I attended. They were all excellent.

  • Let’s Sell Your Script – Panel Discussion
  • Screenplay Competitions – How to Win, Why Enter & How They Can Change Your Life
  • An Interview with Screenwriter Rhett Reese (Zombieland, Monsters Inc., GI Joe Retaliation)
  • How to Triple Your Contacts & Get Powerful People Reading Your Scripts

I’ll be posting individual write-ups on these sessions in the coming days.

Surprise Meetings

I got to meet some terrific screenwriters this year. You know who you are!

  • There’s the woman who I struck up a conversation with in line, only to hilariously find out she’s one of my clients.
  • There’s the NASA team member who’s decided to make a run at screenwriting a little later in life.
  • There’s the pitching prodigy who’s appeared on Jay Leno, and is a little nuts — but in a good way.
  • There’s the funny group of guys who were making off-the-cuff comments about the Michael Jackson impersonator who was pitching a movie — in full costume. One guy said, “Is he pitching a ghost movie?” Another guy said, “I thought he was pitching a children’s movie.”

The Pitching

My pitches went very well… for the most part. As I had different scripts to pitch — depending on the person I was pitching to — I felt a little bit schizophrenic at times. But it was a great challenge.

The one thing I learned, is that it really pays to make a connection with the person across the table from you, before launching into your pitch. Every time I sat down and forced myself to ignore the pressure of the time constraint, the pitch went extremely well. Hopefully I’ll have some good news to report on that front soon.

How was your PitchFest experience?

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