Updated Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Thursday, July 31, 2008

You can't always get what you want...

Just got an email from the CFC.

Unfortunately, it would appear that my CFC endeavours for this year are over.

My mind, well, my mind's kinda spinning right now - as upset as I am to not get in (it's a punch in the gut) the thing that's weighing on my mind is 'Why'?

Hopefully that'll be something that'll come to light soon as it would appear that in my rejection letter (not a cut and paste job - thank you for that) they mention that they'd like to talk to me further. My main hope is that it'll have some real grains of constructive criticism in there, something I can turn into the mortar upon which the next chapter will be laid.

Fuck. It sucks and I'll be honest about it, it hurts. But you know what? Let's be real. Let's take a moment, push the emotions aside and take stock.

With no professional writing experience or teaching and under my own steam (and the assistance of some very helpful friends and allies) I managed to make the top 20 of the CFC and get an interview on the very first try.

I am on the right track. I am doing something right.

One of the things that they complimented me for in the interview was that I have a lot of ideas, ideas that they really seemed to like. That's good news. That means there's gold in them thar hills... I just gotta figure out how best to mine it.

If I had to get self-critical, I think my fatal flaw was that I lost track of the plot in my Battlestar spec script, ended up letting it take a back seat in favour of the character moments. It was the only thing they really seemed to ding me for - there were other problems, other comments, sure. But that's the one that really seems to stick.

So.

What now?

I'm going to accept this failure for what it is: A chance to push myself forward. They liked my work I know that much. I saw their faces, I know they liked the content.

I think it was the structure that tripped me up.

And I think that's something that's entirely fixable.

So now I'm going to go home and do what I do best: learn. I'm going to focus my own studies on the more technical side - the hard, barebones structure of what makes good TV. I think the biggest thing that would help me would be to understand WHY the structure is the way that it is. I mean I get the concepts of peaks and valleys (I think...), etc. but maybe there are some intricacies that I'm missing.

Either way, this is not the last of me by a long shot.

This just means that I have to work harder, keep networking, keep writing.

There's more than one way to break into this industry.

Cheers,
Brandon

P.S: If anyone has any good links or notes or advice they can pass my way - anything to do with structuring TV, or Film - that'd be very much appreciated.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Killin' Time - (The phones, they are a-ringin'...)

Not mine, yet (unfortunately)...

But the word has gone out that at least one person has gotten the ol' CFC nod. A hearty congrats to Peter (who I inadvertently almost drowned in a can of Coke yesterday! Sorry 'bout that ;).

1 down, 7 to go.

I didn't realize the calls would be going out so soon, but hey, that's how it rolls. For now I've got my cell phone's volume cranked and firmly by my side while trying to keep my nerve together. Any time now, right?

A part of me is terrified - and it's the one part of me that shouldn't be. The logical part. The laid-back, artistic half of my brain is still off fishing by the lake, sipping sangria and swatting flies. The logical side, well, it's not pretty. The logical side of me is the graying-temples, pipe-smoking, tweed-jacket guy.

And usually he's sitting back in a soft leather chair and thumbing through the dusty tomes of my memory.

But right now... there's a smashed kerosene lamp...

and... I think... the chair's on fire...

aaaand he's just gone streaking past my hypothalamus covered in ketchup and war-paint.

I hope that's ketchup. (Hrmm... what am I having for lunch...?)

Okay, take a second. What has him all riled up? What the hell is bubbling in that ol' left hemisphere of mine?

Wait a sec, he's screaming something, babbling... hard to make out...

"If you've only got 8 calls to make, why spread them out? Why not make them all at once?"

He stares at me with wide, wild eyes. Head cocked at an impossible angle.

"Unless they already did. And you weren't one of them..."

He cackles and sprints down the hall, booting open the door marked 'Storage' and diving in head first.

Uhhh... yeah. I hate it when this happens.

Before we go any further, I feel like I should explain. My logical side you see, well, between you and me, he's a bit of a wuss.

Great at parties and Star Trek conventions -- and that whole 'common sense' thing's been a blessing in disguise ever since I tried to lick a wall-socket back in the 80s -- but sometimes he gets into the sauce and... well, that's why I keep this handy tranq gun under mental lock and key.

Anyways, best not to let him get too far ahead.

Into the doorway now, scanning past the rows of rusty bike chains and sawed-in-half G.I. Joe figures (don't ask).

Wait.

Shhhh...

If you look just off to the right and all the way at the back, you can see him peeking out from behind my collection of Thundercat's quotes. He's a tricky one, that logic, but the wind's good, should be a text-book shot. Hunker in. Take my time.

Fuck.

Fuck.

Fuck.

Wily-Kit and Wily-Kat are down. Snarf too.

Say what you want about 'im but that skinny lil' logical bastard can run like the wind.

And he's out the window. Man, he took that fall like a champ.

He's up and headin' out across the drawbridge. Dammit.

Okay, new plan.

Me an' Teddy Ruxpin are gonna hop in the Warthog (I'm gunner, of course), you guys take Herbie the Lovebug and see if you can head'm off at the pre-frontal cortex - stay ON the path, do not venture into the Porno woods!

God help the last one we lost in there...

Across the drawbridge now, out in the open and off into the green. We're bootin' it through the Veldt - can't see a damn thing. Grass's damn near over my head. Sun's beatin' down like sledge... movement off to my right, swing around the cannon, trigger at the ready.

Nevermind, it's just Terra, Gau and Locke (Final Fantasy 6... haven't played that in ages...).

Wait a minute. Something's... they're pointing...

A Growl?

Oh shit! Oh shit! Ambush!

Where'd he come from??

He's on Ruxpin! Fuck! He's biting! ...?

Get offa him you salt-n-pepper-haired, smarmy mothafucka!

Dammit, DAMMIT! Gun's jammed!

I slam the butt of it home, caught'm good. He's... he's down.

Tie'm up, check a pulse - still breathing... Good. A lobotomy's the last thing I need right now.

Teddy's hurt... it's deep but he'll live... I hope... fuck, there's blood and stuffing everywhere.

I pack him back in as best I can and head back to Castle Greyskull.

I'm gettin' too old for this shit...

Cheers,
Brandon

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tick Tock, Noon o'clock

Things you can do while waiting for a life-changing decision:

1. Scratch self
2. Hum
3. Clean teeth - toothpick optional
4. Tap theme song to Ducktales
5. Count speckles of... stuff... on monitor.
6. Clean monitor
7. Make a horrible mess and drown keyboard
8. Blowdry keyboard, hang to dry
9. Salvage old, clicky keyboard
10. Call family
11. Call friends
12. Explain situation leading-up to life-changing decision so many times to so many different people that it loses all meaning.
13. Sleep (or not)
14. Dream about French Fries conquering the Isle o' Cheeseburger in a bloody coup d'etat.
15. Wake up with an unidentifiable flavor in mouth
16. Brush teeth - Find remnant's of isle o'cheeseburger, remember to floss next time.
17. Shower
18. Drop soap, don't care.
19. Shave
20. Cut self - deep.
21. Apply hot compress, apply pressure.
22. Count to 60. Check. Still bleeding.
23-28. Repeat steps 21&22
29. Dry off
30. Check eyes, no red veins (for once...)
31. Get dressed, mistake horribly ripe sock for clean sock - let hilarity ensue.
32. Realize laundry day has been put off for far too long.
33. Realize work started 10 mins ago
34. Grab fruit-type object (peach?...)
35. Rush out door.
36. Forget cellphone.
37. Run back, miss elevator.
38. Wait for elevator.
39. Step in, realize elevator's not there.
40. Fall 23 floors.
41. Awake in a strange land of purple skies and jellyfish gnomes.
42. Fall in love with the scorpion princess.
43. Lead jellyfish gnomes and scorpionites in last ditch battle against the horrific Mylar race.
44. Have dramatic clifftop battle in thunderstorm with half-melted Mylar King
45. Say pithy things - dodge lightning bolts using ancient/secret Jellyfish gnome martial art.
46. Slay Mylar King to thunderous cheers from the oppressed.
47. Reveal traitorous best friend/mentor
48. Exile traitorous bastard to the smouldering Velour hills.
49. Embrace princess, now Queen Scorpina
50. Get stung.
51. Awake in daze.
52. 47 New Emails await.
53. No calls missed.
54. Sigh.
55. Return to work.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

... The Storm

So it's an interesting experience to be at the other end of a long table with the focus of the group being entirely on you. I thought I might cringe but I actually kinda liked it.

On a good note, I totally over-thought what they would be asking me. Way over-thought. Probably what caught me off guard the most about the process was that I spent a lot more time talking about what they didn't like in my scripts than anything really related to the school/program itself. Now that's not a complaint, more an observation. Just the simple fact that I managed to get an interview confirmed to me that they liked my work, so it makes sense that they'd start with what they weren't too keen on to see how I reacted to criticism.

All-in-all, there were some excellent points made in respect to both my scripts. For Battlestar they thought that I let the plot take a backseat to the character moments (I should've made the Mutiny/Hijacking the first thing to happen) and some other scenes were a bit too long. For Savage knights the only real thing that I noticed was that they thought I had far too many ideas crammed in there. They thought that I should pull out some ideas, save them, and re-jig what was left into a really strong one-hour pilot.

Sounds good to me.

I spent a lot of time trying to read their reactions as I talked and for the most part there were a lot of good poker faces. It's hard for me to get a bearing on how it all went down. I made them laugh at least once and the mood seemed pretty casual but I'm drawing a blank. So, now I'm fighting that whole self-reflection quirk of mine where I over-analyze every last detail of it all.

All I know is I went in there and I gave it everything I had. I think I took the criticism in stride and still managed to show that I want this. Not just that I want this but that I know I will take advantage of it. I will work my ass off.

Because, if I've made it this far on my own - teaching myself how to write with very little feedback - imagine where I could be if I had access to a team of fellow writers and mentor to help guide and focus the things bouncing around in my skull.

Anyways. I've done all I can, I've put my best foot forward and swung for the fences.

Guess I'll find out soon if I made it over the wall.

Cheers,
Brandon

The Calm Before...

It's 12:30am and I'm doing my last check of things - less than 12 hours now until my interview.

Shirt's cleaned and ironed, pants as well. Got a host of ties to choose from - even spent an hour or so today learning how to tie them, apparently there's a whole shit-load of knots to choose from. Big knots for long necks, small knots for short necks, crazy, square knots - really, who put that kinda time into figuring this stuff out? Turns out I'm much better at putting the whole thing together on my own rather than looking in a mirror. Hell, I can barely tell East from West let alone Right from Left in a mirror with a strap of fabric looped around my head.

Moving on.

There's been an overwhelming show of support from my friends and family and fellow newbies (and not so newbies) and I wanna thank you all for the well-wishes (and thanks to Patrick for his well-timed letter).

Everything that can be done is done, every move that can be made is made.

Right now things are placid, a lake of glass stretching across the fibres of my mind - though I can feel the current thrashing beneath that crystal sheen.

Let's just say that the emotions are on hold if not necessarily 'gone'.

I don't know how things will play out today but I know that I'm going in there as me, with everything I've got and one hell of an honest smile. There's really no way to prepare other than to know myself and who I am and what I've done. There are no questions that I don't know the answers to, they're all up here (somewhere). Today is my chance to prove that I'm worth the go, that I've got something worth contributing. And if I can sit in that room and make them see even one-tenth of my passion and desire for this, well, then... maybe.

All I know is that, whatever the outcome, whatever the answer, I'm gonna be right here. One way or the other, I'm gonna make it and I'm gonna do it here. In my own country, in the place that has raised me and nurtured me and made me the man that I am.

I bring this up because there've been 'whispers', you know? That "hey, if you don't make it here you can always head South" idea. I won't say who's been doing the whispering only that it struck a chord with me and not really in a good way.

You see, I've never believed in the idea that you should have to go to some other country in order to find your fortune; that you should have to be awarded by someone else before you're deserving of recognition amongst your own. In the last few years, as I've really started to understand what I want to do with the rest of my life, I've been lucky enough to meet a great number of amazing people. Not just writers but from all walks of life, people who work hard and believe in what they do and are proud of where they come from.

And every single one of you has helped and inspired me in some way.

You are my country. You are why I would never want to leave.

Yes, it's a smaller world here, it's a harder world here but it's ours and it's worth the fight. Even after C-10, even after the CTF bullshit, even after whatever comes next - this is worth it.

Every time.

Thank you all, (be back soon)
Brandon

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Prepping for Sunday

How do you prepare for an interview that could change your life?

Any way you can.

Unfortunately, it's all rather aimless at the moment as I have absolutely no idea what they're going to ask me. If I have to try and nail it down, I'm going to take the easy $100 question and guess that it'll have something to do with both 'me' and 'writing'. But, really, who knows? A half an hour's a long time when you've got 3 people in one room and a clipboard full of questions.

It's funny, I really hadn't felt anything close to worry until this last Tuesday (not true) when Ivy's confirmation email showed up.

A simple action: I clicked on a link. And the next thing I know, my heart's racing. Sweaty palms, dilated pupils, the works.

Right there, in front of me, black text on white background.

Names.

My interviewers have names.

And careers.

And have done shit.

Fuck.

Out of nowhere a frosty lightning bolt slams into my spine and my throat closes up (did my hand just shake?). This is real. It's happening. It's real.

It's this Sunday.

Jeezus.

Okay, breathe. Keep breathing. Think. Push down the emotions.

What do I know for a fact?

They'll be interviewing me (good to keep in mind). They'll want to know what I thought about this or that, where this idea came from. It'll be about writing (unless it's not...). Probably something akin to 'why do I want to be a writer?'.

Okay, seriously, I'm fucked if they start asking me about something out of left-field like Algebra.

What else?

Why'd I choose my favourite shows? What'd I like about them? It makes sense - a logical extension of my application. Probably something to do with my character - what are my strong points? What are my weak points? Do I have any regrets or achievements I'm proud of?

My mind's racing - turning corners faster than I can build them. The joy of the hypothesis.

Where am I from? How did that help me get here? Nah, too personal - this is business. Can I handle stress? That's more like it. Can I handle a 10-ish hour-a-day workload plus homework? Also good (and yes, I can...).

The biggest question - the one I think will go unasked - will probably be something like 'Do you think you deserve to be here?' Now, of course the answer will always be 'Yes', but there's something unnerving about having a group of people staring at you and asking the one question you've been asking yourself since you somehow managed to make the shortlist.

Okay. Enough.

It's way past gut-check time. The focus of the last 9 months of my life (remember when I thought the deadline was in January?? Yeah... good times...) is now coming into view just over the horizon.

Pack'em deep, we're marching on through nightfall.

Cheers,
Brandon

Monday, July 21, 2008

Ghost Town

Plastic clocks line the wall, hollow. Nails jut out at random angles, pictures removed and stacked.

This is not my home anymore.

I moved the last of them today, they're all settled in - well, for the most part. Sure enough I'll have to answer a myriad of phone calls and technical questions, but it's just the remnants of the job. The scraps to be swept up in the wake of it all.

Tomorrow I move to my new 'area' and begin the same job with new parameters - many of which are yet to be defined.

But tonight I stare at the bare walls and our massive meeting room table, the place of boistrous debates and conversations. I look at the department that will no longer be and I choke up a little - to be honest, the work was never what I loved. The people made it all worth while.

I've had more than a few jobs in my short time on this planet, worked with all sorts of folks but never have I shared such a sense of community. And that's really what I'll miss. I mean, sure, the people are still there and they'll all be happy to see me when I visit - we're tight like that... but without them around I've started to see it; that niggling thing that's been at the back of my mind for the last couple years.

Without the comraderie, without the laughter and the conversation... well, my job really sucks.

In truth, I guess I feel lucky that I ever got to have it at all - things don't just coalesce like that for everyone. But now that it's done I've come to realize that I am too. This is a chapter of my life that's closing and closing fast.

My interview is this coming Sunday in the afternoon, from what I understand I'll be one of the last people to be up there. And that's something that I'm happy about, well, for the most part. It's a double-edged sword, really. On the down side, well, by the time I get there they'll have a pretty solid picture of what they're looking for, let alone what questions they're going to ask - it'll be a tougher crowd overall. On the up side, well, if I can still make a good impression then it'll be a fresh one when they break to discuss who gets the nod.

I don't really like the idea of being grilled but I do like the idea of being held to somewhat tougher standards - it helps to keep me on my A-game (do I have an A-game yet??).

Anyways.

Best 8 out of 20 get in.

I still like my chances.

Cheers,
Brandon

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

HOLY SH!T

It felt like a 20 second phone call, tops.

"Hi, this is Ivy from the CFC - We've decided to move your application to the interview phase".

And then I lost my shit. (Not literally, but, you know...)

I'm standing there in the middle of work, fighting with some drive mappings and such, just about to move yet another cool person home, when she called.

I'm standing in the middle of a crowded room and shaking like a leaf.

I got an interview?! Holy shit!!

I called my girlfriend and she lost it, hell, my friends lost it - my co-workers damn-near drowned me in hugs. It's absolutely killed me that I had to wait this long to share the news proper-like. I had to put in another 7 hours at work before I had the kind of free time I needed.

Still, I posted on Twitter and popped on Facebook through my cell while we were enroute to the setup, just to let my friends and such know -- but I knew I really wanted to post it here.

I worked so hard on that thing, I polished it 'till it shone. And I know there was no way I could've made it even this far alone. Please allow me to stop and thank some ultra-cool people who've had a hand in my small taste of victory:

Karen Walton and Beatriz Yuste, Patrick Hanratty and Denis McGrath, Mike Wood, Casey McNally, Jim Steele, Cameron Dixon and of course my loving and supportive girlfriend - so many people who've offered advice and helped me along, who've taken the time and shown interest from the beginning, who've read my work and been brutally honest all in service of the story.

Thank you.

Yes, I know it may be premature - heck, I'm not even IN - but either way, this is a milestone for me. Even if I don't make it past this phase, even if I don't make it into the course, I know one thing for sure: I'm on the right track.

And now the real work begins (aka: this is where things get interesting).

I've gotta deal with my job as it stands - I found out where they're sticking me and it's as dark and as dank as I figured. The good thing is that I know some of the other people that'll be sharing the dungeon with me... so at least I'll have people to sing sea chanties with.

I gotta get serious about saving cash - I've been socking it away but I've barely got enough to cover tuition let alone living expenses...

I've gotta start working on the ideas I submitted, get them into enough detail to explain to someone else where I want to take them.

Most importantly, I've gotta keep writing, make new ideas, polish old ones.

Whew.

Yeah, there's a lot to do and not a lot of time left to do it in... but not tonight. Tonight is bask-time.

But then, back to work.

Cheers all!!
Brandon

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Balancing the Scales

So, I've been away for a week or so because, well, I've found out they're folding my department at work. Essentially, while I may still have a job (even that much has yet to be confirmed), it most likely will not be the same one I've been doing for the last half-decade or so.

I've been spending my days helping to tear down my co-worker's workspaces and transport them home - helping them adjust to their new lives as telecommuters. Yeah, lucky them, they get to work from home... my job, however, seems ever more precarious as little bites here and there are taken out of the foundations of why I was hired.

My job has changed a lot over the last 5 years but one thing that remained and helped to keep me interested was the great sense of community and family that I'd built with my co-workers. We all got on quite well together and, over that span of time, I found that it became - more and more - my excuse for going into work. These cool people who made working a hell of a lot less like work.

But they're gone now - well, most of them. I've been helping to pack them up and move their computers and such home. I get them set up on the network, make sure to answer any of their technical issues and then I'm off. One less cool person there.

Work is like a ghost-town now, the move is half-done and expected to be finished by the end of the week. The rest of us, the Admin team - we're to be relegated to a closet somewhere and forgotten. All because some exec took a wrong turn into our space, looked around and said "this is nice - I'll take it!".

I wasn't there for that conversation but I've heard that's pretty much how it went down in the end.

Even now I have builders and such walking by me during my shift, measuring this or gesticulating wildly to their friends. A group of people wandered through one day, chattering excitedly like kids in a candy store. "We can put an office THERE and an office THERE!" I swore I saw his eyes roll back into his head and a stream of drool roll down the corner of his mouth.

Change.

More and more I'm getting reminded that things aren't meant to be static - that little ball of entropy and chaos flies by and you get to go 'YAY' or duck and cover with the best of 'em.

I'm being moved, I know that much. The particulars, the where's and when's, well, that's another story.

In other news, I had my locker broken into at the gym tonight. They didn't even try to hide it, hell, my whole lock was missing. I threw the door wide to see that $55 in cash was taken out of my pocket and my wallet was left open. Apparently I got off lucky though - the guy beside me lost a $15,000 watch, an iPhone and a bunch of other stuff. A lot of people got broken into and, comparitively, I got of pretty lucky. Mostly because I don't have $15,000 to put into a watch, but I digress...

Heh. I guess someone needed that money a lot more than me. (And a watch, and an iphone...)

I don't know - thing's are crappy right now and have been for the last week or so... maybe I'll get lucky and it's the Universe balancing things out in preparation for something good.

Then again, it could just be that my number came up and I was due for the ol' proverbial kick in the junk.

Who knows?

Cheers,
Brandon

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The power of numbers

So, I attended my first official meeting of a writer's group last night - actually, my first writer's group ever.

And, all-in-all, I have to say that It was a pretty kickass experience. We all sat around, drank some beers, ate some good grub and talked - sometimes about our stories, sometimes not.

I brought both of my short film scripts with me - 'Next-Gen' my old one and 'Off The Clock' my new one. Once in front of them, they read through my scripts with an eagerness usually reserved for my mom - though I have to say they were alot more critical (in a good way).

One thing that these gals (and guys) have down is their sense of structure, being able to say 'what' that 'something' is when 'something' is missing.

'Next Gen' went over well but ultimately the twist that I'd put in didn't work - it wasn't picked up by anyone who read it. So, I think I'm going to have to redo that one somehow - I'm not quite sure how to make it more clear just yet, but I'll put some brainwaves to work on it anyway.

The good news is that 'Off The Clock' was a hit!! Everyone who read it enjoyed it and thought it was pretty funny. The only criticisms that came out of that one was that I needed to describe the main character a bit better and add a bit more of an oomph to my ending - both of which were done by the time I got home. I'm pretty excited that it went over so well, it really is an interesting step for me 'cause I've always felt that comedy's not been one of my strong points as a writer. Will I be able to do it again? Who knows... but it's cool to have made something that other - unbiased - people think is funny.

But of course the night wasn't all about me :P

We went over an outline that Geoff shared with us - a pretty interesting setup, it had a lot of great imagery in it. The only problem I found, as I talked to him and as he explained what he wanted for his story, was that he killed off his main Antagonist in the 2nd Act - and not by the Protagonist either.

As I listened to him I could tell that he'd put SO much work into the back story - about why these two characters hate one another, family histories and such - but then to have the bad guy killed off by another element... well, it just seemed unsatisfying to me. Other than that, it sounds like he's got a great idea on his hands.

One thing I really enjoyed about the experience was the level of openness that existed - everyone talked about each others concepts and where they were weak and where they were strong. Yet no one got defensive or hurt, there seemed to be this great level of basic respect at the table, like we all knew we were there to try and help each other.

As a guy who didn't even KNOW any other writers until a couple years ago, it was a pretty awesome experience.

I really want to thank Cherelle (a fellow horror writer and all-round kick-ass person) for bringing me into the fold, it was a great time and I can't wait to see everyone again next month.

As for the CFC... still nothin'.

Oh well.

Cheers,
Brandon

Sunday, July 06, 2008

"Let's not go off half-cocked here"

Half-cocked. Heh.

I had a friend of mine look over my short last night and, while he liked it, he pretty much balked at some of the stuff I had put in my script.

"You do realize that professional, fully-paid, crews struggle with chase scenes right?"

Uh. No. Not really.

"Yeah, and unless you're thinking about hiring a professional stunt person, pretty much all your combat and such is gonna hafta go."

But...

"If someone gets hurt on your shoot, it won't be pretty."

And that conversation went on for quite a while yesterday - basically consisting of me being dressed down in as cheerful a tone as my friend could muster. He was looking out for me - and anyone who would help me - to be sure. But still, when cold hard reality hits, yeah, that can be a bitch.

I had all these cool thoughts about camera angles and creepy shots and chasing down actors with cameras and it being a fun and exciting time.

Well, I guess that's not really how things go.

"A single room, a couple people is all you need. And please, make it funny. Most people don't want to see scary/depressing short films, they want punchy and laughter and..."

"What if I don't wanna be 'funny'??"

Yeah, I'm sorry to say that by this point I don't think I was hearing him right and was getting a tad defensive about it all. Man, I shoulda worn a diaper... not my proudest moment.

Sigh.

The truth is that he's right and I know he's right. With no money and no experience why reach so far into difficult territory? I'm excited to do this short, and it's good, but does it have to be done now?

Seeing it through the lens that he provided I can understand now how hard it would be to film for an experienced crew.

As another friend of mine said "KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid."

And so I went back to the drawing board. I mulled around with the concept: A few people, one room. What kind of story could I tell that I didn't feel had been overdone and would actually interest me?

It took me a bit to figure it out - must've gone through about six or seven concepts before one actually stuck and stuck well.

Next thing I know, I'm typing away at my computer - wordpad first, just overarching notes - why this and not that, how would that work? Where did I want to take it?

I really wanted to tell a horror story, but I also wanted to make something that the general population might want to watch as well. I settled on a Black Comedy, a bit morbid but funny - dark but not TOO dark. Slowly I began filling out the questionnaire in my head - who was this guy, what did he do? Why was he there?

Bit by bit, the pages filled and I found myself being sucked into the process. I came up with a few funny lines - ones that actually made me laugh (and more than a few that made me cringe). I used the good lines to try and help inspire me some more, letting myself get a tad more fearless, writing whatever came to my mind. I found a few more gems amongst the rubble.

All in all, I got it done in a couple hours this afternoon and I think it turned out pretty well.

It's 5 pages in a single room with 3 characters, one who's asleep. I've got no real props and no natural lighting (another issue with my previous script) so in theory this'll be a lot easier to shoot. Also, my roommates think it's pretty funny, so that's not too bad.

Wow.

I'm going to put it away tonight and take it out again tomorrow night - I've got a writer's group meeting (my first one) so I think I'll bring it with me and see how it plays out.

In the end I feel pretty good about myself - I know I kinda freaked a bit when my original idea was panned (sorry Mike) but it did end up pushing me to go take another path that lead to something good.

Life lesson #674: Sometimes I just gotta suck it up and try something different.

Cheers,
Brandon

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Next Gen

I've been driving myself nuts all week, I dread opening my mailbox and clicking through my email has become a guerilla tactic all its own.

It's quiet. Too quiet.

And so, with still no word from the CFC folks I've decided to try and kickstart things in another way. I'm going to do something I've been wanting to do for quite some time:

Make one of my short films.

I've really got no excuse, what am I really doing with my spare time? Writing, sure, but hey - the weather's nice, I've got a story I want to tell and a script that is long done.

It's time.

Of course, the interesting part of this whole idea is that I've never actually 'made' a short film before - well, unless you count some very, very bad films I attempted back in High School (let's not... please).

I've been going over my options, reading up on what I'm getting myself into and, you know, I figure there are really only two ways to do something like this and they end up creating a sliding scale with two extremes: you can grab a camera and hit the streets, using whatever footage you happen to get, or you can methodically plan out every step and shot, every whisper and grunt and zoom.

I'm not sure what category I fall into here - a part of me just wants to get out there and shoot it but I know that planning this thing out right is what'll make it sing (or scream?) in the end.

And, like any proud parent-to-be, I want only the best for my lil' tyke.

So, it's new goal time: I will have my short film "Next Gen" shot (at the minimum) by September 15th - the supposed first day of the CFC Prime-Time Program (keeping fingers crossed that I actually get in).

What are the chances of that success? Well, let's break it down a bit:

I have a 7 page script which should turn out to be a decent (I hope) 5 min horror. I have little-to-no money - everything's being saved up on the chance that I actually get into the CFC - and not a whole hell of a lot of experience.

Yeah, 'interesting' is definitely a word I'd use to describe the next few months.

Okay, let's break it down further: What do I need?

Keeping this thing as pared down as possible I need:

Characters:
3 guys - One tall, chiseled, hard-ass lookin' mofo (villain), One 18 yr-old-ish geeky everyman (Hero), one tech-savvy computer-tech type (Best friend)
1 gal - Main character's girlfriend (same age range)

Best friend and Girlfriend characters have short screen time but will have a good presence in voice-overs.

A few extras for one scene.

Locations:
1 Pub/Eatery scene threaded through the short.
Various night-time locations in Toronto, not downtown, more urban-rural - just outside of downtown-ish area (think Dundas/Palmerston-ish).

Crew:
1 Lighting
1 Sound
1 Director of Photography
1 Producer (or at the very least someone to help guide me along as I try and figure this out, which forms I need for location shoots, etc.)

I'm questioning if I should get a director or not as I have a really good idea of what I want already inside my head - of course, not to discount the many technical skills that a good Director brings to the table... maybe an Assistant Director?? Hrmmm...

Am I forgetting anything important in regards to needed crew? (I probably am, don't be shy now!)

Props:
1 Lead Pipe - preferrably jagged and rusty
1 Garbage Can - for slamming into (of course)
1 Big Freakin' Knife - for stabbing
1 Dumpster - well-filled (for hiding in)
1 Laptop - with 'clicky' keys
1 Birthday Cake - 19 candles
1 Large poorly-giftwrapped Box
1 Small rectangular, poorly-giftwrapped Box
1 Plate of Fried Chicken

Beer
Blood

Total shoot time: 2 nights on a weekend (at the very most) starting from 8pm-ish onward.

I own a DV-cam (Panasonic PV-GS250) and a tripod which I was considering using for this but I've done some test shots at night and it doesn't hold up well without a decent amount of light. I've also been thinking about maybe shooting it in HD because I've heard that Film is just waaay too expensive (and 'cause I love the crispness of HD).

As for Audio, I want to get a good mix of ambient city noise (as opposed to a score, maybe subtle, ominous music) and pavement-pounding, wheezing, shrieks and groans. Low key and real, with a one good auditory kick in the pants when it's needed (and it will be needed).

Lighting-wise, it's street-level gritty yet cold and otherworldly. An ominous faux-dreamlike/nightmarish quality for most of the outdoors shots contrasted with the warm, inclusive tones of the Eatery/Bar scene.

Is that everything? Hrmmm I think so... for now...

Again, this is probably as pared down as I can think of - I'm not exactly sure how cheaply this thing can be made but one thing I can guarantee is that anyone who helps me out with this short will eat like a king/queen (I think I'm not too bad a cook :P).

Soooo... anyone wanna help me make a short film? :D

Cheers!
Brandon