Updated Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Crunch Tiiiiime!

I just realized that today is Tuesday.

How crazy is that? I meant to go into this whole big post on Monday and then got sucked into the shadow-less land of 'writing for my applications'.

Yes, we're into serious crunch time for my NSI app - I've been firing off emails to my producer, new drafts of the script, the bible, all sorts of supplementary documentation... man, I never realized just how much was going into this thing.

Don't even get me started on my CFC app, I've been punching away at that one in my spare time but it's still gonna be a race to the finish there.

My Mentalist spec that I was putting together for the CFC app... well, yeah, that's just not going to happen. I've got a lot there but there's no way I'll be submitting a first-draft-and-a-polish... believe me, I didn't make it in the first couple times 'cause they felt my work wasn't strong enough; there's no way I'm going to chance it with a script that's just not ready (yes, lets consider that a hard-learned lesson).

On the bright side, it does give me something to tinker with once all this madness is over... so that's good.

I'm still waiting on my letters of recommendation; still finding all sorts of little threads to bind up and tie together as the clock ticks down.

In other news...

The Exchange for Change session that happened on Saturday was as close to a slam dunk as I can call for a first run at the net.

Both Elize and Karen had obviously put a ton of thought and work into putting the event together and there was lots of brilliance on offer from minute one.

Here are a few choice notes I took from the event:

Web-Series and Transmedia:
- Some of the biggest problems they've faced:
-> Legitimacy, getting people to 'get it' ("that's on the 'internet' right?" *tumbleweed*)
-> Getting past the 'Gatekeepers' - people in charge of content acquisitions (the new 'broadcasters')
-> Having an audience find you/bringing them to you - standing out from the 'noise'

Tips:
-> Think 'possible revenue streams' from day one.
-> On the web, volume is everything. Don't make one video, make 25 then go
-> Building community is key
-> Write to what you have access to/readily available

Short Films:
- Some of the challenges they face:
-> No such thing as a 'small' film - still have as many hoops to jump through as feature.
-> Extreme limitations, time/money - telling a full and compelling story
-> What you want compared to what you get - 'fireplace w/ roaring fire' becomes 'candle'

Tips:
-> Always have a backup plan - sometimes cast/crew have to leave for paying jobs
-> Find the story you need to tell. Don't just 'make something'
-> Let other people contribute, sometimes they make it better
-> Work on an Assistant Director team on set to learn how the process works

Story Co-ordinators:
- Challenges they face in their job:
-> Attention to detail is a must - One spelling mistake can easily snowball into a big problem.
-> Your biggest responsibility is lunch. Seriously. Do not screw it up. You will pay with your job.
-> Figuring out your relationship with the room - is it 'safe' to offer suggestions? Or do you keep quiet and keep typing?

Tips:
-> Before you speak out in the room ask yourself "Is this worth saying?" - You have very limited 'coin' to play with. Get it wrong and you could end up being ignored down the line.
-> Look for innocuous ways to 'do more' - names for fake cereal boxes, businesses, etc.
-> Watch out for 'good intentions'. When in doubt, ask. If you don't and you get burned it will be ugly.
-> Should you ever get the chance to pitch, make sure you have a solid beginning/middle/end to it. Don't just go 'I don't know what happens next'.

Adaptation:
- Problems they run into:
-> Finding the movie within - not just as simple as taking the book and running with it.
-> How to tell the story in a way that you forget that you already know how it ends.
-> Often have to change the ending of the book - No third act or often not 'cinematic'.

Tips:
-> Always ask yourself: What will I be seeing on screen?
-> When adapting, be ruthless in what you use. Not every 'great moment' is going to fit into the movie.
-> 1st draft is often too faithful to the source material - feels 'mushy', not a movie.
-> It's not always fair to the book to be faithful to it.

Showrunners:
- Common problems or misconceptions:
-> You have to be able to forsee and solve the problem that's 8 weeks down the line
-> You're responsible to share what's going on in your head with 100's of people but still keep an open mind and be open to change.
-> Surprisingly 'showrunning' is a lot of 'management' and sharing of power than 'being in control'.

Tips:
-> It's about 'how can you get the A-Game out of the person in front of you? Giving them the space they need to 'be excellent'.
-> Keep your vision strong but flexible. Making TV is a collaborative process.
-> You are designing a system or a mechanism that new stories will come from.
-> If you have an idea that you believe in, fight for it 3 times - if still no, let it go. Don't make it personal.

Anyways, if you were there with me you know that this is only scratching the surface of what was discussed... I was scribbling the entire time, trying to fit it all in.

Absolutely brilliant, brilliant stuff.

Next time one of these comes up I'll make sure to trumpet it out for you.

But you gotta show up to get the good stuff.

And nothing beats sneaking in a few minutes of one-on-one Q&A time with them after the show (very, very cool).

A big thanks to Elize and Karen and everyone who volunteered to speak - it truly was a fantastic day and I'm glad I made it out there.

Cheers all!
Brandon

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