Updated Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Coping With Writer's Remorse (16 Days Remaining...)

So, I finished my 1st draft around midnight last night and I've since sent out my first copies to my ever-lovin' readers (you guys are seriously awesome).

And, of course, my first read-through - post-sending - was... traumatic.

It's funny how I can finish writing something and think it's a beautiful, floating ball of immaculate light and then - 5 seconds after I send it off - the glow turns a sickly yellow and heretofore unseen tentacles begin to molest my eyeballs.

Right off the bat: spelling mistakes and entire swaths of dialogue that're just bland and boring and...

Why did I send it? Why?! Ugh.

There goes another small patch of hair...

Little things like missed punctuation are bad enough but then I realize - hey! I missed half a sentence. That's right, an entire chunk of dialogue just cut off - who knows where it went, or if I ever finished it in the first place, or why I didn't catch it in my post-writer-coitus read-through (actually I think that last one's kinda self-explanatory...).

It's funny how my brain can just flick that switch, like some sort of brain-on-Brandon practical joke.

As if he's sitting there in my skull, snickering away with my eyes (drinking buddies, no doubt - who're SO totally in on this...!), being all like: "okay, is it safe to show him how much he tossed this one up?'

And then *poof*, veil lifted to reveal spelling and grammar mistakes galore.

Sooo, right... it's times like this where one comes to realize why most writers don't show their first drafts to anyone.

Of course, I'm notorious for not following that rule... which I'm sure will come to bite me in the ass eventually. I've always figured that the earlier I get feedback on things the better - but yeah, that's pretty much as double-edged a sword as you can get.

Anyways, I'll be starting work on version 1.5 probably tomorrow night (gotta see my Chuck finale tonight... thank you PVR!) - It'll mostly consist of me cleaning up all the chunky missteps of version 1.0; Sanding off the edges in preparation for notes and feedback - at which point I'll end up ripping up the floor again.

On the bright side, all that doesn't get ripped up will be shiny and pretty, thus making version 2.0 and, maybe 2.5 all the better.

Just gotta remember: It's all a process; Everything starts out clunky and jagged and painful - the craft of it is all about trying to make it shine. Trying to make it better.

Not easy... but damn is it fun.

Wish me luck!

Cheers,
Brandon

Monday, April 27, 2009

It's ALIIIIIVE! (17 Days Remaining...)

So, the goal seemed simple enough: Lock myself away for 2 full days, emerge with a finished script.

How'd I do?

Well, it's not 'done' but as of right now I'm knee-deep in Act 4. The more interesting part of the story is that I COULD have had it done - had I stuck to the plan.

Friday night was brilliant - I put the finishing touches on my outline just in time to curl up into a ball and die on my bed around 3am. It was done, it was done well - I was in love, I could feel the soft caress of the story in my mind as the world faded to black around me.

Then I awoke on Saturday - 7 am, no less - only to discover that my beautiful outline had a gaping hole in the middle. There I am, rubbing the sleep from my eyes, skittering down the page, making sure it all makes sense and then - what the hell?

Apparently my leaps of logic are not bound by the time-space continuum. So, yeah, that took most of the morning - figuring out just how deep the rabbit hole went (the blue pill tastes like mommy's kisses). Finally, after discovering just how much work was ahead of me - well, I kind of panicked. Yes, I'll admit it. I saw the bright, shining, beautiful day outside (24 degrees?!) - said 'fuck it' and went for a little walk to clear my head.

Though, deep down, I really, really didn't want to do the work to patch this sucker up.

"Why me?!" and "How the hell did this happen?" and... yeah, lots Emo/Country music twanging away in the back of my mind. Luckily for me, Momma nature decided I (and the rest of us) had been outside long enough, 'cause she dropped a good ol'-fashioned GTA Tornado on our heads. (Glossary - GTA Tornado: High winds that make us city-folk think the world is ending yet not even remotely close to the real deal).

On the short run home I came up with a plan of attack - since I wasn't going anywhere anyways. I sat back down, physically unplugged my Ethernet cable from the back of my PC, put my phone on vibrate and got down to it.

Then my roommates came home.

Long story short, I managed to actually get to work fixing up my outline around 7pm. At which point I (mostly) powered through. I managed to get it fixed for around midnight - and decided to call it in early... imagine if I'd somehow managed to work straight through? *sigh*

Sunday morning - I roll out of bed for 7 am, a new day, I'm ready to face the world. I write 'til noon when my stomach decides this whole 'work-till-you-drop' thing is nice and all but it's going to bust out the steel-toed boots soon if I don't make with the sustenance.

And my Roommates are up.

So we go out for brekkie. Back home for 1:30. Right, back to it for a few more - nope. I decide to (quickly) check my email. And maybe twitter a bit. Around 2pm I get a phone call from my mom, I'm an uncle again! My sister's just given birth to a preemie little girl. Apparently she's quite a fighter already. Wow - I'm an uncle 4 times over now. (there's a reality check for ya...).

Okay, back to it - I'm actually making progress - pages are flying by and soon I'm on page 23, it's 11pm - I can feel the spurs of progress digging into my side, egging me on. The fiancée calls to ask me how it's going - tells me how much she misses me. I miss you too baby - Just. Have. To. Power. Through.

Midnight rears its ugly head, then 1 am, then 2. I kick it in to high gear as hard as I can - I roll over onto page 43 before the sleep demons beat me over the head with their battle-axe-of-poor-sleeping-posture (+1).

My alarm wakes me up this morning at 6 am - my body's screeching at me, nerve-endings firing off in random cascades. Huh. So my feet aren't supposed to rest behind my head?

Right. I drag myself out of bed - head thudding - shower 2 days worth of 'ew' off me and prepare to get back to writing. Only, well, pain is not quite as good a motivator when you actually need to be able to think on some sort of consistent basis. So I pack it up, head to my chiro - who thought I'd died in a gutter some where - to get my spine turned back into some form of proper 'S'-curve. The headache/body apocalypse subsides just in time for me to pull into my cubicle.

I've got about 10-13 pages to go - with any luck I'll get them done tonight - and my first draft will be out and ready for public scrutiny/beating.

Anyone who's seen a good amount of the show 'Chuck' (season 2) care to read and critique a first draft? It'll have to be on the 'whoo, fast' kind of timeline tho' as I've got around 2 weeks to prep and deliver version 2.0.

Cheers,
Brandon

Friday, April 24, 2009

Head down, sleeves up. (20 Days Remaining...)

Tonight is going to be fuuuunkay. Don't even get me started on the weekend.

It is with great, great anticipation that I'll put the final nails in the coffin of my outline and set forth in my quest to actually write the damn script.

Can you feel the excitement in the air? Can you?

Oooh... It tingles!

Okay, forgive the weirdness that's about to unfold - but Denis McGrath, I want to hug you right now. Seriously man - hugs and high-fives are yours to claim at your leisure.

It's so simple that I don't even know why I didn't think of it before, but there it is and because of it you've saved me from one hell of a mental wedgie.

See, I've always done my outlines in Word and then just re-typed everything into Final Draft when I was ready to get down to it.

But then Denis, in all his awesome 'Look-I'm-A-Showrunner-Now' awesomeness comes along and says "Hey, why don't you just write the outline in Final Draft using a basic script format?"

And there go my words as the hamster slips off the wheel, into the wood chipper.

Uh. *blink*

Um...

I dunno?

For some reason simple, logical ideas like that never popped into my head - hell, to think of all the time I wasted on my old scripts, re-typing everything out by hand. Ugh.

And so I took his advice.

Essentially, all my scene headings are done now - all the descriptions of what's needed is there - I just gotta go back now and add dialogue, time things out. Maybe not 'simple' simple, but a hell of a lot less headache-y.

What can I say? Same effect, less overall work? Brilliant.

It's simple shit, but it saves time - and when time is your bread and butter, well, damn. I'll take it.

So, many, many thanks Denis! My wrists and newly-forming hunchback thank you very much.

Alright folksies, 20 days left - let's take stock:

1 script to go.

Time permitting, a couple re-writes. We'll see.

A letter of intent that doesn't suck (the one I just finished is... yeah).

This weekend shall be the bringer-of-the-pain for, come Saturday, I'm going to try and finish the first draft of my script in 2 days.

That's right, forget the warming warming-ness of sunshine (or rain if you trust the weather peoples), forget the loving caress of Vitamin D - I'm going marathon stylez here.

2 days. 48 total hours. Well, probably less. Let's say around 36 total hours (I'll be generous and give myself time to sleep... maybe eat... do... other functions - maybe.)

I'm thinking that with a good outline it's potentially possible. But this'll be a test, no doubt about it. The 48(36?)-Hour Writer Rally, if you will.

Hell, I'm just psyched to see if I can pull it off.

And so, as of 7pm tonight: Off with the phone, off with the internet, on with the noise-cancelling headphones. Just me, a blinking cursor and the beginnings of a well-earned monitor tan.

Wish me luck!

Cheers,
Brandon

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Cardinal Sin

If there's any one true, un-shakeable rule of writing a spec script it's this: Thou shalt not fall in love with your B story. More specifically, Thou shalt not make a minor character more important than the Lead of the show.

Sooo yeah... I did that.

Luckily, thanks to my all-new, all-powerful outlining skills, I caught that in the outline stage instead of after having written the script and trying to pull the threads apart again.

It turned out to be an easier fix than I expected - simply switching perspectives in most cases - and giving the big, cool moment to the Lead.

For me it's one of those classic cases where I ended up feeling more connected to one story/character than another. This time it was my B story.

But yeah, definitely glad I caught that.

In other news: I went to the WGC awards last night, drank and ate my $75 worth and met all sorts of interesting people who's names I've already started to forget.

Please, don't take it personally, I'm a 'face' person not so much a 'name' person. This is something I've been trying to rectify for yeeears but my mind is like a sieve when it comes to names and places.

I tried doing that thing where you associate them with something - anna/banana, mike/trike, steve/sleeve - etc. but yeah, that really gets complicated when you're trying to remember if this Mike is the Pike, Trike, Nike, Dike or Bike.

Still working on it tho', just have to find something that works for me.

The Ink Canada after-party - which (fellow inktern) Dave McLeod and I put together - turned out to be a bash and a half. I did make the mistake of setting the after-party for 11pm though, which led to us sitting alone in a near-empty bar and suffering through the barkeep's derisive comments ("Oh, so yoooou're the party we've been waiting for?" and "looks like you got stood up, huh?" ... nice!).

In retrospect, I've learned a simple lesson: Don't set an after-party to start before the free booze at the other party has finished flowing.

So, yeah, other than that: Good times ;)

On the bright side, people started trickling in by midnight and by 2:30 or so when I left the place was truly, truly hopping. Karen was there in fine form, celebrating her win of the Writer's Block award - won for all her work developing and nurturing the community over at Ink Canada.

All in all, I had a great night - I handed out a ton of business cards and met lots of fun, interesting people.

Why can't we do this more often??

Cheers,
Brandon

Friday, April 17, 2009

29 years in the making (27 days remaining...)

You know, it's days like today that I sit back and look at where I am and where I'm going.

I'm 29 today.

And I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that.

I remember back when I was a frustrated art kid back in college - when I first started scrabbling together this whole concept of 'me-becoming-a-writer'. I had this whole idea that I was going to make it big by 25, have my own show by 27 and, hell, have my name scrawled on the moon in lights by 30.

As you can see, that didn't quite happen.

Instead, I got something better.

One thing I've learned over the last year or so is that it's one thing to dream big - it's a whole other ballgame to make the sacrifices necessary that'll bring that dream home... and still fail... and then have to start again. From scratch.

Last year, when I didn't get into the CFC I took it pretty hard - I wasn't really prepared for the idea that I wouldn't get in. I expected the world to make way for me because I worked my butt off. Because I put in the time and the effort and the sleepless nights.

Thing was, my best wasn't good enough. Not then. It's a realization that I came to terms with early but only really accepted as I started digging new trenches and filling them with the experiences of this last year. It was nothing personal, it was a challenge. It was life saying "Great, you worked hard... now push it farther". Again, one thing to know it, to think you understand it. A whole other ballgame to put that shaky foot forward again.

And I have.

I'm 29 years old and I am a goddamn writer - a much better writer than I was last year, certainly a better writer than when I was 25.

And I'm just getting started.

Heh.

You know, it's funny... the concept that my career - hell, my life - wouldn't get fully off the ground until I was headed on to 30 was so alien to me that I never even considered that it could happen. I never thought that I'd be a 3rd through my life before I'd be actively following my passion.

But, you know, life... life's tangential like that - before you know it you're off jumping out of a plane or working a dead-end jo-job for 10 hours a day.

It's all about finding ways to make the tangents connect, to bring it all back home and focus it.

I'm not sure what this year has in store for me -- actually, scratch that - I do. This year'll involve me, in one way, shape or form, working my ass off to bust out and into the industry I love. To finally get myself working in the Canadian Television Industry. And maybe, maybe, get started on the process of spending the next 60-odd years doing what I love: sharing a good tale.

Cheers all,
Brandon

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dreaming in Courier Font (29 Days remaining...)

INT. DARKENED ROOM - NIGHT

BRANDON (28) - a young man with passionate, deep blue eyes and a chiseled surfer's physique - tosses and turns within the confines of his bed. Limbs thrash as we careen toward his head.

WHITE FLASH

Brandon is sprinting along the QWERTY of a giant keyboard - torrents of panicked sweat cascading down his brow, the keys clicking beneath his feet with every gasping step.

The angle changes, the keyboard shifts - now the steps of an ancient Mayan Pyramid - the letters etched in stone, the Jungle sweltering behind him.

The ROAR of a Jaguar as it stalks amongst the treetops, held at bay by fear of a much larger predator.

He gulps in air as his bare feet pound the limestone, rocketing toward the top, toward the glowing MacGuffin. It watches him through slitted eyes, a yawn escaping its jagged beak.

A crash of THUNDER causes him to look back, it's there.

It's found him.

He stumbles, crashing headlong into the step - stars and copper as his mouth burns crimson.

He can hear it padding up the stairs behind him, a LOW GROWL harmonizing with the high-pitched shriek of quills on scales - its haunches tensing as it prepares to end it once and for all.

Scrambling, Brandon rolls to the side as its stinger BASHES into the step by his head - the tiny hairs prickling his ear as he bursts to his feet and into action once more.

Finding his footing he takes the steps two by two - I then P then ] as he launches himself toward the dais. He grasps at the shimmering ROC as it takes to the sky, its massive wings plunging the grove below into bouts of nightfall.

Brandon grips a golden talon, hoisting himself above the claw as the earth - and the creature - disappear beneath tufts of amber cotton. The dawn is breaking, the sun's light warms the horizon as they approach

A voice unlike any he has ever heard booms down from the Heavens above:

VOICE:
Nah, that sounds like a Movie...
What else ya got?

Golden feathers crumble to dust as the creature screeches its last - Brandon tumbles, free-falling, the rush of wind in his ears as he SLAMS through the canopy below, hitting every branch on the way down as he hears a familiar GROWL.

The gaping maw opens wide beneath him, fetid ivory daggers punctuating the edge of oblivion.

Brandon screams

INT. DARKENED ROOM - DAWN

And pitches himself out of bed, quivering amongst a tangled mess of sheets and blankets as the sparrows chirp above the morning dew.

Brandon checks himself, his heart racing, hair matted and pillow soaked - but he's fine. He allows himself to take a breath.

As a LOW GROWL is heard outside his bedroom door.

BRANDON
Fuck Me...
_______________________

'Chiseled surfer's physique'.

Heh.

I have the best dreams ever.


Cheers,
Brandon

Monday, April 13, 2009

Indistinct Chatter (31 Days remaining...)

I've been hunkered down in this bunker for what seems like an eternity - I have good news:

There has been progress.

My spec pilot is done and Peter's been an absolute Being-of-Light about helping me figure out how to make it a stronger, leaner, faster animal. I've been going over things, taking notes, but I've decided to put that little wonder on hold whilst I get down to pumping out my other spec. I've got a pretty good sense of the story I want to tell (finally) but I'm still working on catching the voice of the show.

And so I'm all about breaking down episodes for my spec script - which, well, that's been an experience. My first 'official' break down took me about 7 hours for a 42 minute show and I felt every single second of it - seriously, it was probably one of the most demoralizing experiences I've had in a while.

I typed it all out by hand in Word (don't ask my why...), an incredibly detailed document on the surface that, upon looking deeper into it, revealed that I hadn't captured that much info at all. Digging deeper, I realized that I was in more trouble than I thought as using what I had managed to get was going to be almost more trouble than it was worth.

Turns out I'd spent most of my time writing the format of the document and less of the information that I actually needed.

Talk about losing sight of the forest.

Luckily, my fiancée is of the awesome and, after giving me that look - the 'why-would-you-do-that?' look - she set about putting together this awesome spreadsheet for me. Seriously, she is an Excel master - I mean, Damn.

Spreadsheets have never really been my thing - again, don't ask me why - but she's turned this thing into an artform. I'm over halfway through breaking the second episode (properly) after importing my old information into the template and I'm amazed how much time it's saved me. She's worked in little things like self-updating totals of who does what in what Act and when, which plots interact... Wow. Thank you, baby! (Did I mention she was of the awesome?)

In other news, as of tomorrow I have 30 days to get my application done and on the CFC's desk. I can practically hear that tick-tock as time clicks by - still, progress is going, it is being made.

Should have my first Outline for Thursday or Friday with the hope that I'll be starting my first draft on Sunday or Monday.

This thing's going to go right to the wire, I know it - but believe it or not, I find that fact kind of exciting. My last application, I misunderstood the date and started, oh, 6-7 months early on polishing the one script I already had while writing a new spec script.

This time it's 2 new scripts from scratch (after ditching an entire concept I'd been working on for months) and it's... well, it's brilliant. It's scaring the living shit out of me, but I'm loving every minute of it. Yeah, I definitely prefer to work under deadlines :P

I just hope what I've got now is better than what I had before.

Alright, back to it.

Cheers,
Brandon

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Rollin' the Hard Six (43 Days remaining...)

So, I haven't been talking about writing much these days - mostly because I've been a bit of a basket case about it.

See, I'd been working on a different spec pilot in the run up to my application - I was sure that what I had was what I was going to submit. Only thing is, try as I might, I couldn't get the darn thing to hold together - I couldn't connect with my characters... And so I put it on the back-burner and began working on my backup idea. That seemed to come easier and, well, about 2 months away from the deadline I figured I'd had it wrapped up, the spec pilot was done, I could hop to working on my spec script.

Except a rather glaring issue came to light: It wasn't very good. Now, it didn't suck, it wasn't terrible, but it wasn't 'welcome to the CFC' good.

And so, about 4 or 5 days ago, I scrapped it. Took the concept and re-imagined it from the ground up.

Uh, yeah. 43 days 'till the application's due... and I'm doing a page-one rewrite. Needless to say, I've been a bundle of nerves lately - especially due to the fact that I'm clocking in maybe 3 hours a day of actual writing.

Uh oh.

And so I've been hitting the sack before midnight, up before 6am and I've been writing my ass off with the time I do have. As of right now, I'm halfway through my new outline... and it's better. Much better. I'm hoping to start my actual 1st-ish draft Friday morning and with any luck I'll have it done for Wednesday.

Thing is, I'm going home this weekend to celebrate my mom's birthday (it was on the 31st, but I couldn't get away... sorry mom! :S) so it's not like I can put the 8 hours a day I'd like to put in on a weekend... but s'okay, I'll make it work. Mom and I'll have a good time, we'll be out and about... and I'll have a notebook and a pen on hand.

It'll be hard, for sure, but that doesn't mean it's all a wash.

The plan is unfolding like this: it's 3 hours Friday morning, 3 hours on the train there Friday Night, 3 hours on Saturday morning (she'll probably sleep in) and 3 hours on the way back Sunday night. 3 hours on Monday, 3 hours on Tuesday.

IF (and I do mean if) everything goes to plan and I can keep this pace up, I might be able to get this sucker done and done well in time to have a hand-out-able, non-vomit, 1st draft for Wednesday. Or maybe a 1.5 draft. That'd be nice.

Then I can get to work on my spec script.

Which I'm only in the most preliminary stages of breaking.

Heh, what was it they say? Write fast and write well?

Guess I'll find out if I can do that. Time's a tickin' and I'm doin' my best to get'r done.

On a side note, the wedding planning is going well - we're hmming and hawing but it'll probably be the end of July (yes, this July), we've got a date in mind, just a matter of seeing if everything else can be lined up. It all rests on the hall/room. We found one we like, if we can get it on the day we want then we're golden. It's a really, really nice area so definitely keeping my fingers crossed on that one.

Whew... no pressure :P

Cheers!
Brandon

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

April Fool's Day On The Web

Rather than posting something y'all will figure out to be a prank - and that I'm not feeling overly creative this morning (I was up all night beating-out my new Spec Pilot) - I'm going to share with you a few interesting Links I've found on the web today:

See what's happened so far and what's happened in the past on April Fool's Day:
April Fool's Day On The Web

Google's Annual April Fool's Joke:
Gmail Auto-Pilot

An interesting bit of History on April Fool's Day:
When Did April Fool's Day Begin?

Great Article on The Onion:
Obama Depressed, Distant since Battlestar Finale

And just for a bit of Weird:
Church Baptizes Baby With Cola

Cheers!
Brandon