Friday, December 30, 2005

I'm back

I know you've all missed me so. Well, there was a death in the family (not unexpected, but a few weeks earlier than expected). So our relaxing Christmas at home with the kids and my wife's parents ended up being spent... elsewhere. We drove 1000 miles -- without a break -- to get to the funeral in time. Actually, we drove 1000 miles to get to my in-laws' home, and then the next morning took a three-hour drive further south to go to the funeral.

A week later, we drove the 1000 miles back home.

I don't like long drives. So I find it annoying that we have lived a minimum of a 10 hour-drive from close family for the past twelve years. Before I took this job, I was determined that the next position would take us closer to family. Instead, we moved further away.

But I love my job and don't want to leave. I really feel like this is where I'm supposed to be. But an 18-hour drive? Yuck. And we actually didn't leave until 4pm the day we left last week. And for some reason, I made the decision to drive through the night (if we hadn't, we would have gotten in really late and then had to get up early the next morning to drive the extra three hours). Driving through the night... well, we used to do it all the time, on a 12-hour drive from home to my in-laws' home. We'd arrive at dawn and plop into bed.

But I'm not in my 20's anymore. This was a hard trip. Leaving at 4pm meant we didn't arrive til 11am the next day. Around 5am, I just couldn't do it anymore. It was a combination of exhaustion, tension (from the driving), and pain (sitting in one position for 12 hours is not good for my already-bad back).

So, home now. Glad I am going to sleep in my own bed tonight. Don't want to make any long trips for a while.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

the damn waiting...

so, i made a film and have entered it into a number of festivals. i've got a script going out to a few well-placed contacts after the holidays. i've got several things sort of 'in the hopper.'

and the waiting on all this is killing me. just driving me crazy.

i've never been good at waiting for things to happen. the festival thing is especially driving me nuts. i just want to know -- NOW!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Writing is Rewriting?

If writing is rewriting, as most writers will say it is, then is constantly revising the same script over and over again actually writing?

Okay, so I'm not constantly revising it over and over. It's just that, with screenwriting, there is so much tweaking and rewriting (over a comparitively small number words (compared to novels, for example)). This one script, one of my best, is the one that my friend/would-be manager is going to take out to the industry. And I'm trying to tighten it and make it better. And it IS better.

But I can't remember the last time I started a new script --from scratch-- and completed it. This may just be my own paranoia and neuroses. I don't know. I'm just concerned that I am not growing as a writer if I am still trying to make this one script good (or revisiting other old scripts, for that matter).

I'm a writer, so I"m naturally going to question my own abilities. So I don't know, maybe I should just strart writing and stop thinking about writing.

FALL 2005 Semester is History

Grades are in. I am officially (more or less) on break. Going to see a movie this afternoon to celebrate.

Friday, December 09, 2005

My Newest Little Reader

My middle child - the 4 year old - recently to recognize letters and their sounds. So we've been teaching her to read. You know - bat, cat, rat, etc. She also recognizes our names. So tonight, she situated herself under the Christmas tree and started reading who every package was for.

It was fun to listen to her mounting excitement as she not only found presents for her, but also just the thrill in her voice because she could do this all by herself.

Got most of my grading done today. I have one full day, maybe a day-and-a-half of grading left and then I'll be done. Woo. Hoo.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Snow Day!

Actually, it's more like a delayed-ice-morning. Temperatures are going to be in their teens tomorrow morning, my eldest child's school opening is delayed two hours, and so I'm going to sleep in.

Real grading starts in earnest tomorrow -- scripts from my screenwriting students are due (and one or two were already slid under my door). So when I start my late morning, I'll be trying to get through those scripts and the final projects of my directing students. A few more days of this...

Meanwhile, I read on the Withoutabox member forums that several people have already been notified that they are 'in' a couple of fests from which I am still waiting to hear. So, not sure if I should start getting depressed, or just continue to wait anxiously. These things are often done in stages, or notifications takee several days. On the other hand, they might have taken several days already and I might be S.O.L...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Nice Moment

Tonight we had a screening, not of my film, but of the documentary a senior made, the 'making of' film. An hour long doc that tells the story of my feature film debut, with a crew of inexperienced students, on a micro budget, on a three-week schedule.

It was a great documentary, a really effective portrayal of the event, moving and funny and full of great characters.

The senior who made it, who had complete freedom and access during production, did a fantastic job. So often on here I complain about those who do nothing or have little drive, ambition, or talent. But this kid was a consummate professional who produced a festival-worthy piece, and I'm proud he was my student.

As an added bonus, the two senior faculty in my division came to the late screening and not only liked the film but had occasion to 'see' the experience my students had this summer, bolstering my reputation for involving the students in my creative work and giving them an opportunity they would never have had if I wasn't here...

All in all, a really nice night. I sat with my wife and the producer (a fellow faculty member) and his wife, got to share this experience with colleagues and the students who worked on it, and reflected on the opportunities I've had over the past 18 months since I started on faculty here.

Also had a nice dinner at the university's faculty/staff Christmas dinner, a huge event in the basketball arena. All the younger faculty in our media division came with spouses or significant others and sat together and joked and talked. It was just a really pleasant evening, culminating with the screening. Couldn't have asked for a better night. Now if only it wasn't so late and I didn't have an all-day curriculum meeting tomorrow...

Monday, December 05, 2005


'Nuff said. Still have grading to do, of course. But glad to be done prepping classes.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Rewriting Update

Well, I finished working on the rewrite. Admittedly, it was more of a polish. And I think I'm pretty happy with the script. I know I don't miss any of the cuts. As much as I hate to cut things, I have to admit that losing the scenes and parts of scenes that I lost didn't hurt it at all, and the sped-up pace definitely helps.

New Friend wants me to read his latest spec, which is going out wide next week. It's too late for major rewriting. He just wants a general impression. I take it as a compliment -- that he likes my writing and just wants to know what I think.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

So, this came out of the blue...

I sent a copy of one of my best scripts to someone I met at that writer's conference-thingy I went to back in October. He's an L.A.-based writer, has some contacts. I figured, well, what could it hurt.

So he called me this week and wanted to give me his notes.

Now, I'm a writer, which means, by definition, I am only interested in people praising my words. So of course I tell him, "Great!" I always listen to people's feedback, and I rarely get outwardly defensive. But inside, I have this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. It's not anger. It's not defensiveness. It's just... I don't know what it is. It just is. When people critique, even with good intentions, it's like a wound of some sort.

So anyway, he starts in, and this isn't just some feedback. This is scene-by-scene notes. I mean real notes. I mean, 'this guy works in the business' notes.

And they were good notes. Not stupid and vague. Not missing the point. They were right and point. And really, really good.

I usually HATE it when someone giving me feedback starts making suggestions. My thing is: tell me what's not working, I'll decide how to fix it. But if someone wants to offer, I'll always feign interest. Well, New Friend here started in with the ideas and suggestions, all with the polite disclaimer that his ideas might be bullshit and not to worry if I didn't like them (which was appreciated).

And then his ideas were fantastic. Not every one of them. It's not like this happened in an some alternate universe. But most of the ideas were very, very good (as a writer, I find it alarming how many times I've used really, very, and good in this post).

First thing he said was -- gotta drop the page count. It was an unwieldy 126 pages, too long for the industry, and definitely too long for anything pretending to be a comedy. I've known this the whole time, but somehow convinced myself the script was so good that it wouldn't matter (how do we convince ourselves of things like this?). Gotta be 108 pages, max. Wow -- lots of cuts.

In two hours of discussion, we got through about 87 pages. I had to get home. That evening, I started working on it. I don't know why. There is no deadline. I don't have time right now. But I just felt highly motivated, and I thought his notes were such that implementing them could put the script over the top. And I've just been itching to do some creative work, so I guess I latched on to this.

So I cut the script significantly, implemented a bunch (not all) of his changes. Finally finished the conversation today and then he drops the bombshell...

He's made an arrangement with his somewhat small-time agent that he'll develop scripts on his own and bring them to his agent to go out with them. And, with his contacts, he feels that -- even if his agent doesn't want to handle it -- he'd like to rep the script himself, as a manager.

So this was weird. He's a writer, right?

But you know, he knows the business. He knows a lot of people. He has an office on the [Big Studio] lot, doing development for a television producer. He thinks the script is strong enough to make a six-figure sale, and he wants to be part of it (for, you know, 10% -- typical for a representative).

Now, I'm thinking -- well, what have I got to lose? 10% of what I'm currently getting for that script is -- you guessed it -- nothing! And here's a guy who loves my work, was really impressed by the speed at which I implemented my changes (and the fact that this also showed how 'hungry' I am), and who thinks he can sell it, and who doesn't make any money unless I make money.

So as I'm describing this, it sounds like no big deal. But it sounded like a nice option to me today. It still does. At the very least, he'll be getting my work in front of legit production companies and studios, places I can't get it seen.

It was just a nice little thing that happened today. Much nicer than getting rejected by another festival.