Updated Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Dancing with myself (12 Days remaining...)

It's done! My CFC Application is absolutely, positively done! Okay, mostly. All the writing's done, all the big stuff, all the painful parts are over.

Now comes my favourite part: Polishing.

Spelling, grammar, timing - hell, even the sentence structure - I'm going to go over this thing with a sandblaster and a shammy cloth. Polish this thing until my face glows in it. Will it be good enough? Who can say? But I've put everything I've got into this thing, I've worked my ass off and hopefully - hopefully - it'll pay off.

In other news, I'm in research mode right now. I've decided that since I've figured out what my next spec is going to be, I'm going to start researching The Border pretty hardcore. I'm taking character notes and building up my familiarity with their personalities. Even if I don't get into the course I think that my next spec is going seriously kick some ass. I've got the first 2 act outs already in my mind and the general idea of what kind of pacing I want so I'm trying to see how that co-incides with the general pacing of the show itself. If I DO get into the course then a good chunk of the digging is already done and I might be able to kick it out a bit easier.

Everyone I've talked to has told me that you're pretty much writing non-stop from beginning to end in the course so I'm actively looking for ideas and bits of info to make the process easier while I'm there. Like my Border spec, I figure if I do alot of the legwork now I'll be in better shape once we start getting our hands dirty. Outside of my spec I've got 3 original show ideas that I can flesh out so I'm doing that as well. Most of it is character stuff, figuring out what makes these people tick then worrying about the world they live in. Though my new one, Shears, that's gonna take some finagling.

Other than that I'm starting to look into the financial side of things - something, admittedly, I hadn't given much thought to. If I get in, am I going to be able to afford to go? Yeesh. Well, it certainly won't be pretty but I might be able to swing it. The hardest/crappiest part is that I'll most likely have to quit my job in order to do this, which means at least 5 months (maybe more) of no income. Yikes. Add in the $5500 entrance fee plus cost of living and it's going to be back to gorging on Mr. Noodles for me. I'd already been scrimping and saving (for another purpose...) so I'm not as bad off as I could be - but I'll certainly be hoping to snag a bursary or two if I do get the green light.

Anyways, back to the sandblastin' for me...

Cheers,
Brandon

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Safety In Numbers (18 Days Remaining...)


I'm a little late these days (seems to be a theme lately...) in reporting good news but I figure it's better late than never.

On Saturday I ended up heading out to the CFC's Prime Time TV program info session and had a chance to A) visit the campus - a pretty sweet ol' Heritage Building and B) meet some of the people involved in the program.

Over about two and a half hours I got a crapload of information handed my way, one of the more interesting tidbits was this one:

Apparently they get about 50 applications a year (waaay less than I'd originally imagined) from that they interview 20 and then from the interviews they take 8. Not too shabby! I think that tidbit actually managed to make me even more excited for my chances.

I know it's still far too early to get my hopes up, there's a lot of great talent out there (some who have applied more than once...) but I feel really good about what I've been writing as of late. Let's just say I'm in the field of the 'cautiously optomistic'.

Another interesting tidbit is that I've actually met the Manager of the program - Jessica Weller - before! Last year I attended a pitch expo called "I CAN Pitch" and had wandered by the CFC info booth. While I was waiting for my next pitch session, I'd started chatting with her (not knowing who she was). We ended up talking about the Zombie flick I was there to pitch and ended up having a pretty good conversation. Anyway, it would appear that I managed to make a good impression because at the Info session she actually remembered me!

Pretty damn cool!

I guess that kind of follows a piece of advice that I'd been given from Denis McGrath some time back: "Always be friendly with whoever you meet in this business, 'cause you never know who you'll be working with next."

Anyways, the meeting had me so pumped that I've been writing like a fiend all week (thus the lack of regular updates). I'm literally getting down to the final two weeks until the deadline and I want to make sure everything is perfect. All the big stuff is done: The spec script, the Original screenplay, the CV, Letter of Intent. Right now I'm working on the Synopsis part of the package.

For the application I have to submit an idea for a spec that I want to do during the course. That one actually came out pretty easily - I'm going to do my second spec script for *drum roll please* The Border! Yes, I know it's a bit different from what I normally write but I found a hook that was so good that pretty much everyone I've told has been "DAMN!" Heck, even people who don't watch the show are intrigued... so I think I'm actually onto something here.

The hardest part for me is creating synopses for the original programs I want to develop. I have the IDEAS down but they're pretty high-concept and trying to break them down into single paragraphs (that still convey the spirit I'm looking for) is kicking my ass. I just can't get the words to sit right on the page, there's... jagged edges that are bugging the hell out of me. Hopefully I can get them filed off ASAP.

But yeah, things are going good - I'm ahead of schedule and feeling good. I've decided that I'm going to deliver my application in person, turns out it's actually cheaper to spend the $5.50 to TTC it up there than deliver it via post. I'll have to remember to get pics of that historic moment :P

Anyways, back to the grindstone!

Cheers,
Brandon

Friday, April 18, 2008

Mortality Bites. (23 Days Remaining...)

So I'm not usually the kind of guy that reviews movies - I watch a fair number but I'm not usually moved enough to want to write anything about them. Reviews are nice and all but I find that in most cases they're almost entirely subjective.

And yet here I am.

My girlfriend took me out last night for a little birthday treat, she'd managed to get passes to a documentary called Young @ Heart and absolutely forbade me from doing any research on it. I was to go into it cold, with only the knowledge that it was a documentary about a bunch of 80+ year olds in a traveling singing troupe.

Needless to say, based on that pitch I wasn't extremely excited to think of what I'd be doing with my birthday evening (instead of what I could be doing). But work ended and together we trekked across the city to the Varsity theater in the hopes that we'd make it there before all the seats were taken.

As I stepped into theater 8 the first thing that hit me was how diverse in age the audience was, followed by the fact that, at 6:30pm, the place was already PACKED. I mean it was an actual struggle to grab two seats off to the far Right.

I watched as the audience chatted back and forth, a few elderly couples actually turned around in their seats like school kids, hands waving in the throes of some sort of deep discussion.

Hrmmm.

You know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you realize you might have horribly misjudged something? Yeah...

The room faded to black and an elderly lady - 93 year old Eileen Hall - stepped up to the mic and sent my mind reeling as her British school-marm voice belted out The Clash's "Should I stay or should I go?" to thunderous applause (both in the film and the theater).

Wow.

I couldn't help but smile as the song played out, as this woman who could barely stand without the aid of a cane, rocked the mic better than some younger and more recent punk pretenders.

Now I'll try and be good and not stray into spoiler territory but suffice it to say that what unfolds over the next 107 minutes is quite possibly one of the most gripping experiences I've had in a cinema this year. It is, without a doubt one of the best films I've ever seen.

Yes, I know there's a lot of ways you can take a statement like that - and it's very easy to accept it on face value alone, it's... gushy. But, for me, there's something to that film that even now I can't get out of my head. That image of Fred Knittle, hooked to a portable oxygen machine -the cadence of the 'Pffts' of his inhales as he moans out Coldplay's "Fix You"; a veritable dirge to his fallen friends. This man, such an active, lovable character in the film - a wonderful mind reduced near to tears as he fights against a body that has betrayed him to the ravages of time.

It hurts.

Maybe it was the timing. There I am, now 28 years old, seeing a movie about people unwilling to let their faltering bodies hold them back from living. I'm watching these people, such colourful personalities, so full of life - and I realize that I want to BE them. I hope with all my might that should I live to be 90 that I'm anywhere near as cool as these people.

Then reality hits home. This isn't some script being read. These people are near the end of their life. And somehow that realization chills me to the bone.

I mean, I'm a pretty avid Horror fan. I see death on the screen all the time - hell, I watched Hostel and barely blinked. But, you see, I know its not real, I can disassociate myself from these movies - that girl getting her eye taken off with blowtorch is an actress and she'll be just fine the moment the director yells 'cut'.

But not these people. These happy, free-spirited people who just happen to be trapped in these sallow dens of flesh. Active minds that lived the last century long before it turned and yet kept rolling with it - who get confused over which side of a CD you're supposed to use but still somehow wrangle the internet. They weren't just fine.

And I felt it.

Even when I knew it was coming, even when my knowledge of structure and story and, hell, even the health of the person them self told me to be ready. When it happened, when that life - that personality - was ripped away, I felt it.

Hell, even now, as I write this, I can feel that sense of sadness - of having briefly met someone only to have it taken away. I'm not sure how, but somewhere out there in that sea of people, that movie found me and connected in a way that no film has ever done. I know this will sound weird but I think I came to a personal understanding of how the need for something like 'Heaven' can exist. The thought that all those memories, that life, that existence can just... disappear, never to return. It's heartbreaking, especially when you see that life lived out there before you in such a vivid way.

And yet, though I sat there in the darkness fighting tears, I walked out of that theatre feeling somehow cleansed. As if my chronological age no longer mattered, the newfound twinges in my shoulder and leg now inconsequential.

Even in my relative youth, I realize that there's that distant edge to the concept of death - that fear of the unknown in what's at the end. But this lively group of people, so close to that horizon, refused to let time and age conquer their spirits. Throughout the film they fought to be standing there on that stage at the end. And, in doing so, proved that while we don't get out of this life alive, you sure can go out in style.

Go see this film.

Cheers,
Brandon

P.S.

I've managed to find the video of Fred Nittle's version of "Fix You" and I'm linking it here. Even though it's not as powerful outside of the context of the movie, it's still a beautiful cover. I hope you enjoy it and then go see this film. It opens today in Toronto, you can follow this link and put in your Postal Code or Zip Code to see which theaters near you are playing it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

All wrapped up and nowhere to go... (25 Days remaining...)

So, I've been horrible for updating lately - unfortunately my work has done that wonderful little thing where it drops in on you all at once and says "Surprise!"

For those who've been wondering about lil' ol' me - thanks mom - let's recap (from least to most recent):

After months of waiting and working and hoping, I finally heard back about the job I applied for. Aaannnd... they decided to go with someone else. So, well... yeah. To say that it sucks is a bit of an understatement - it was for a PA position at the Space Channel - but them's the breaks. On the bright side of things, they told me they had over 300 applications for the job and I was one of the top contenders. Guess I just wasn't Spacey enough.

Oh well. We move on.

My Battlestar script is done. Finito. Roll it up, put a bow on it and send it out to market - this thing cooks and I've never been so proud of something I've written! Yes, I'm tooting my own horn a tad - but hey, if you can't toot in your own blog then what's this world coming to? It's the first spec script I've ever done, I put a ton of research into it and I think it paid off. It'll definitely be a centerpiece of my CFC application.

I'm also officially halfway through the 1st draft of my newest pilot script. It's called "Shears" and well, that's all I can say for now.

I ended up spending Monday night at the Canadian Screenwriter Awards where I somehow managed to meet all sorts of cool people and have an insanely fantastic time.

Aaaaaaannnd...

I met Karen Walton!! And, if I may say, she's as super-cool in real life as on Facebook. You see, ever since I joined her Facebook group (Ink Canada) Karen's been kind enough to help me with all sorts of writer-related stuff; Kindly answering my newbie questions and helping me to meet other writers. We ended up hanging out a bit at the party - she graciously introduced me to pretty much every person that came up to say hi to her (as if I was someone to meet!) - and... yeah... I'm still gobsmacked by it all.

One thing I have to say is that I was absolutely blown away with just how cool everyone was. I mean, here I am, essentially a nobody in the business and yet I was able to walk up to people like Peter Mohan (winner of this year's Showrunner award!) and say hello. Mind you I'd managed to meet him before - waaay back in the winter when he, Jim Henshaw and Denis McGrath scared the bejeezus outta me with their true-life tales - but the funny thing was that he actually remembered me! Okay, I was 'that guy from the strike' but still, I'll take it.

What was really great about the whole night was that every single person I met there seemed like a genuinely decent person. Even the ones that I only managed to chat with for a few minutes were interested in at least saying a proper 'hello'.

I also wanna give big shout outs to James Des Roches, James Gilpin and John Callaway who all had fantastic stories to tell and a boatload of solid advice to share. You guys rock somethin' fierce.

All-in-all, Monday night was a total affirmation that I'm making the right decision in pursuing my love of writing. Just to be in that room, with so much comraderie and positive energy... well, it's something I'm looking forward to sharing in. And, yes, I know that that's not how it is in real life (these guys and gals have been in the trenches together) but just the same I'm looking forward to getting my hands dirty.

Cheers,
Brandon

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Focus is a four-letter word. (33 Days Remaining...)

I've officially lost it. You know, it. That flimsy little piece of rice paper that somehow manages to keep all the ideas in my brain from bouncing off one another.

In my prep work for the CFC Application I've started to dust off some old scripts, start some new ones and polish some current ones.

Needless to say, my mind is in - and I believe this is the technical term - a "fucking shambles".

I've got Werewolves and Soccer moms playing lawn darts on Galactica and Rat zombies struggling with teen dating and overbearing grandparents (It's very after-school-special-y). It's all coming together in the thick and chunky soup that was once my brain. Mmmm Squeeeek.

Ugh... even my tangents are spawning tangents and though it's all very interesting and potentially great raw material, it's taking one hell of an effort clean up this oil spill.

For the last few days I've been sitting down in an effort to try and work on one project at a time - even going so far as to work on one for a couple hours, switch to another and back again in the hopes that I'd siphon some of it off. No dice. I'm thinking I might move to a tape medium for these kinds of days - just click the recorder on and let myself babble for a good 6+ hours or so. Get it all onto something other than my overstimulated neurotransmitters.

I'm not sure why but I always thought it was somewhat pretentious to be walking around with a tape-recorder, spilling your utterances whenever something popped in. But now? Now I'm thinking otherwise, I'm starting to see the arguments for.

Either way, I've definitely decided to start taping my conversations with Cameron - as something magical just seems to happen whenever we start riffing. We have this wonderful ability to just push each other in different directions and come up with things the other hadn't thought of. At the very least, we're each other's sounding boards - a simple expression usually telling us all we need to know about our ideas. Needless to say, our mutual admiration of solid writing - a great line here, a cool scene there - offers quite the backbone for a friendship.
Incidentially, we both still laugh at the line "Real coffee would take this out behind the shed and beat it 'til it turned to tea".

With my Battlestar script nearly officially done - as in Done done, only revamping 2 scenes - I'm now onto Act 2 (of 5, learning to write to Five acts now!) of another pilot. I've been debating on whether or not to submit Savage Knights as part of the application process or if I should write something new - to show where I am now.

All-in-all, since I've got the time, I've decided to do it and see where it takes me. If the finished product ends up being stronger than Savage Knights then that's what I'll push to the forefront. If not then I've still got a finished script that I can polish at my leisure.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go see about installing a spit valve in my brain.

Cheers,
Brandon

Friday, April 04, 2008

And we move on. (37 Days Remaining)


New day, new opportunity. I woke up this morning with a skip in my step. I ate my porridge and toast with a grin. I ... well, I got soaked on my way into work. But everything's alright.

Today's a big day. A big day for a lot of people. You see, we've been waiting for a while - ever since her glorious return. Soaring through the heavens, emerging from the nebula, back into our ever lovin' arms.

We've missed you Starbuck.

I've been looking forward to this day ever since you sailed back to us, all along the watchtower.

Of course I've missed Adama and Lee, Helo and Sharon, Chief and Cally... it's been a long, long time - seems like a touch of forever.

But tonight, at 10pm we'll be joining them all once again. Huddled around the video portal, looking into their world. And what better way to celebrate their return than to drink lots and lots of alcohol in their honor?

And it is with that mindset that I share with you my Battlestar-themed party drink recipe list!

Enjoy! (and please, if you drink, leave your Viper in the Hangar Bay)

BATTLESTAR DRINK RECIPE LIST:

AFTERBURNER - (VIPER MARK II)
2 parts Vanilla Vodka
1 part Fireball Whiskey

Shake with ice, serve in a shot glass.
For a longer burn add a touch of Tabasco sauce

THE RED DRESS - (AN ODE TO NUMBER SIX)
2 parts Gin
1 part Pomegranate Juice
1 part Cranberry Juice
a dash of Grenadine

Stir and Serve with a touch of ice in a slender Collins glass.

TWISTED MESSIAH - (THE BALTAR COMPLEX)
1 part white Tequila
1 part Ouzo
1 part tomato juice
a dash of worcestershire sauce

Shake and serve in an old fashioned glass.

SKINJOB - (CYLON LOVER)
1 part Bailey's Irish cream
1 part Tequila Rose
a dash of Amaretto

Shake and serve in a Shot Glass

PLANETSIDE - (THE BROKEN COLONY)
1 part lime cordial
1 part lemonade
1 part blue curacao liqueur

Shake with Ice, strain into a frosty Hurricane glass

BLACK BLUR - (FTL JUMP)
1 part Red Bull
1 part Scotch Whiskey

Mix with a double shot of espresso and down in one gulp.

PEACH ASSASSIN - (THE CALLY-DRIVER)
2 parts Peach Schnapps
1 part Vanilla Vodka
1 part Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice

Put Frozen OJ in shaker, add Peach Schnapps and Vodka, shake until melted enough to drink. Serve in a Highball glass.

CAPRICAN DAYDREAM - (ESCAPE FROM STEEL WALLS)
1 part Malibu Rum
1 part Coconut Milk
2 parts Mango nectar

Blend with crushed ice, serve in a Hurricane glass with a tiny umbrella.

IRON WILL - (THE ADMIRAL'S GAMBIT)
1 part Scotch
1 part Jagermeister
1 part Bacardi 151

Shake with ice, serve in a shot glass.

Drink up and enjoy! :D

Cheers! (somehow much more fitting today)
Brandon

Thursday, April 03, 2008

You might want to look away... (38 Days Remaining...)

I had originally planned a very different kind of post - it was funny and light-hearted and, more importantly, it was mostly written.

Unfortunately something has come up and I'm not really sure what to say or do about it. A lot of people would probably just deal and move on - I know that's what I would normally do - but this is something that directly affected who I am today. I've chosen to share it. I hope... well, I'm not sure what I hope right now, I've just got stuff to get off my chest.

It's going to get pretty personal right now and if you're not cool with that, you should hit the back button.

Just fair warning.



My sister and I were pretty horribly abused as kids. My sister sexually, myself, physically. I just found out that James Robert Bateman, the man who did it, was released from jail and then almost instantly arrested again for threatening a bunch of kids.

Seeing his face again... I didn't take it very well.

I've dealt with a lot of anger and pain over the years and a good amount of the demons I've had to fight in my life have been as a direct result of him. Of the man who was once my step-father.

I'd worked through them though, I'd overcome them - or so I thought.

The moment I saw his face - now much older and hardened - I lost it. Rage and tears and... well, when you're sitting at your desk at work, it's not the best time to start sobbing.

And so I retreated to the one thing I know well, the thing that had saved my life, that got me through it all in the first place: my writing. I'd originally wanted to say something snarky, some sort of verbal punch in the face that'd be the ultimate 'fuck you' to the man who'd hurt us so much. I had my thesaurus at my side and I was going to unleash a torrent, a firestorm, a righteous fury... but it didn't come. What came out of me started as a simple reply - an attempt at a dialogue with those who'd inadvertently ripped open wounds I thought had been healed.

Yet, it was through that letter and the words that poured out of me that I've come to be made whole. And I understand now that this is why I sit here, posting about this on my oh-so-public blog. I don't do it because I seek pity or acceptance, I don't want sorrow or to share my pain - I do this now as my victory lap. My exclaimation and exultation to the world that at last, 18 years later, I truly feel free of that monster.

I survived.

WE survived.

It's time to put this to bed once and for all and in doing so I want those who have suffered or are suffering to know that it does have an end. It will get better. You can beat it. You will beat it. One breath at a time...

This is what I wrote:

That little girl back in 1991 was my little sister and the horrors that man perpetrated on my family, the things he did to me and the rest of my brothers and sisters - they are scars that have never fully healed.

For a long time I've wondered what I'd do if I saw his face again. I dealt with a lot of anger after what happened. It took me a long time to cope with it all, even longer for my sister. The others, the younger ones, well, luckily they don't remember much.

I just found out today that he'd been released then subsequently re-arrested and as I stare at his picture, the man who inflicted such grievous wounds on our childhoods, I can't help but find a loathsome sort of pity for the man I once feared.

The man who beat me - then a 10 year old boy - within an inch of my life; standing over top of me, choking the life from me while screaming "Do you want to live?!" – all because I was still limping from the beating he’d given me the day before.

The man who made my little sister come to me in fear, afraid to utter a word of what was being done to her; who made her cry out from that musty basement - cries heard over the convenient sounds of a tumbling dryer. Cries that haunt me even as I write this.

And yet, here I am, pitying this husk of a man; this man who was released time and again into the world to harm others. Another little boy and girl have felt his wrath now. They will have to live their lives touched by a darkness they did nothing to deserve.

I hope they handle it better than I did.

I'm an adult now, I've been through college and have a decent job - I'm in a stable relationship. My sister (the victim) is married now and has a child. She dealt with it in her own way, it took her a long time and lots of mistakes for her to sort it out but she has. We're better. For all intents and purposes, we are happy. We've moved on.

And yet, from my desk at work, the tears and ancient fears come rushing back the moment I see his sallow face; The rage and pain of an eldest son too young to protect his family from this beast.

I try to hide my face at work, at least until the redness in my eyes fade. I tell myself that he's institutionalized now, that the true threat is gone - and it helps. With that realization I can feel a sense of calmness, of justice. It’s why I find myself writing this letter - a certain part of me is healed today and so, for that, I thank those responsible. I will share this information with my sister and the rest of the family, maybe it'll help them as well.

As for Jim... well, Jim Bateman is back in jail where he belongs and I hope this time you forget where you put him.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Bark. (Ruff Bark Owwoooooo...)

Bow wow, wow!

Grrruff!

Grrr...ow! Bowwow!

Ruff! Bark, bark, yip!

Grrrrrrrrr...

Graowowow?

...Woof.

Wabowowowowowow!

Ow, wow!

*snuffle*

*scratches ear*

Ruff, booowrow? Bowowow. Bowow. Bowowow!

Bark! BARK!

GAharaow! Raow? Baowow.

Grrrrr... he...rrrrr...he... rrrrr...

Bowrowowowow! WOWOWOW!

RaowBow,
Barowowow