Updated Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different

So, to be honest, my life's become the epitome of an 'innie' these days.

Where I used to spend time watching (and reading, and researching and railing against) the Canadian system, where I used to spend hours or days crafting a post to share with you... well, lets just say that I've been finding it harder and harder to focus much on anything outside of my direct sphere of influence.

Which, incidentally, means I have less and less to talk about that means anything, let alone insights to glean and share -- I mean, believe me, I can talk about my various neuroses about becoming a father for days on end but other that that, I've turned into a bit of a one-trick pony as of late.

In fact, my ongoing fears of impeding fatherhood are pretty much the only thing that I can expound on right now.

(HINT: If that's not really your cup of tea today, you might want to come back tomorrow).

See, the thing is that, for a while now, I've felt a tangle of emotions about the whole thing. I mean, yes, absolutely, if you asked me about it, I told you I was happy. And I am. But it never seemed to encompass everything. There was this whole other set of feelings that I couldn't articulate.

It's like, I could see the moving parts -- the pulsing, writhing mass -- but ask me what it was and I couldn't tell you.

But now I can.

Over the last little while, after some friendly conversations and a bit of personal insight, I've come to realize that it's been a churning froth of Ambition and Angst -- mixed with loving spoonfuls of both Awe and Apathy -- that have worked to make me feel like quite a mess lately.

I've been trying to accomplish as much as I can before my life takes a sudden turn towards the 'not-able-to-do-anything' and it's made me acutely aware of time flying away in a very real (and, at times, terrifying) fashion.

It's quite an interesting sensation, to say the least -- I mean, to understand that all the pressure residing inside me is that which I've placed in there myself...

Yeah, it's made for quite a minefield of mindfucks.

The intelligent part of me (which, incidentally, tends to be the one whispering amongst the yellers these days) knows the easy answer, knows that I can only do what I can do and shouldn't push myself; that I'm being insane to push myself as much as I have been. I know this. I know -- am utterly aware -- that there is no way to sate any of the facets.

And yet they hunger, each pulling me in a different direction -- the siren call of Apathy, begging me to just 'not give a shit about anything' underlying all of it. That it's the easiest choice of them all makes it the sweetest song by far... but I know I'd never let myself live it down.

I think the hardest realization of the last few months has been that of my absolute need to make something, anything lasting -- now, while I can -- so that should I, somehow, never manage to write again or fulfill my dream of 'making it'... that I might have something to show for all of this, all my years of hard work and dedication.

It's been an entirely maddening feeling: fearing something that hasn't yet come to pass so absolutely... and yet, as each day ends, there are times where it's hard not to succumb to it.

Worse yet, to find myself feeling such selfish anxiety about something that is undoubtedly a positive and beautiful thing only seems to magnify these emotions (while adding a heaping helping of guilt into the mix).

Damn, I've just realized how much it sucks to try and pick apart my emotions in a calm and rational matter.

On the bright side, sorting them out is keeping me on an even keel, so that's a bonus.

I can (and do) tell myself each and every day that this is not the end, that I've got nothing to fear -- that, like that moment when I finished the final draft of my first script and felt that cold grip of 'what next'? -- there is more to come.

But my God if it doesn't fall on deaf ears some days.

It's been a rough few months, not really understanding what's been going on inside me, feeling compressed and stretched at the same time, wishing for -- more than anything else -- more time.

Honestly, even with all I've learned about myself as of late, even with my newfound ability to look at it objectively, I still feel like I'm only just starting to 'get it'.

The funny thing is that I always thought I was cool with the whole 'going to be a father' thing. But it's amazing what sneaks in through the cracks when you're not looking. When you let your guard down.

For now, I comfort myself in that old adage 'this too shall pass' -- knowing that life will go on and I will adapt; that my dreams will live on for as long as I choose to nurture them. There are good things coming. Different things, but good.

And, yes, there is peace in that.

As the sages say, "Change is Hard."

And as my father says, "You're never ready."

Who am I to argue?

Cheers,
Brandon

Friday, November 26, 2010

Band Practice

If you just happen to be in Toronto tonight and also happen to be a TV and/or Film writer looking to meet/hang out with other writers, then this is a good place to be.

Pop on by and say 'hi'!

All the info's available here and it looks like it'll be a good turnout. Things usually don't start hopping until 10pm, so don't worry if you think you might find yourself coming late.

So brave the cold, come on out and meet some fellow writer-ly types. It's always a good time!

See you there,

Cheers!
Brandon

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ruby Skye Episode 9 is Live!

Check it out folks, all the way over here!

Don't dawdle, go, check it out. There is goodness.

In other news, today is a slow day -- been trying to work on the novel, get it ready but life and time are two things that seem to be in intense competition these days. Fingers crossed that I can get it all done and looking good by mid-December. :S

Also: To those who've enjoyed my rundown of the CFC's recent TEST PATTERN interview with Hart Hanson, I put it to you: Who would you like to hear from next? Any nagging questions you need answered? I make no promises (and no, I'm not affiliated with the CFC) but if I know, I can keep my ear to the ground for opportunities. Sometimes people show up unexpectedly.

You know, at things like Band Practice.

PROTIP: If you're a newbie writer, this is a good place to meet other writers. Just show up, be chill and, most importantly: don't be creepy. I know that sounds weird, but yeah... historically we've had a few people who didn't read that particular part of the memo. (HINT: If you're actually worried that you'll show up and 'be creepy', chances are that you aren't/won't be... and yes, I say this as a former worrier myself).

That said, it's all about building the community and if you're starting out, this is a great chance to get out there and meet other writer-ly types and their (producer/director/actor/editor/crew) friends in a relaxed and sociable setting. If you don't know anyone, introduce yourself to the first person you see and say some variation of "Hi, I'm < >, this is my first time at Band Practice." and/or "Are you a writer?" Usually those are pretty good ice breaker -- after that though, you're on your own ;)

Cheers (and see you there)!
Brandon

Thursday, November 18, 2010

One Last Bit with Mr. Hanson

This'll be one that my fellow TV writers will probably enjoy as he answers some cool questions about what he looks for in a writer that he'd like to hire and some other cool tidbits.

Read on!
_______________________

As the laughter subsided the interviewer asked a question that brought a hush over the room.

He turned to Mr. Hanson and asked him how a writer gets hired on a show like BONES.

Mr. Hanson smiled and explained that, at least for him, he likes to see a piece of original work, to show what the writer can do on their own -- but then, and just as important, he needs to see a spec script or a broadcast script to show that you know how to write in someone else's voice. This is incredibly important on a Network show.

He said that really he's looking for two things: 1) that they can write really well in their own voice but also, 2) that they can speak in another's voice as well.

When asked how many spec scripts he gets per year he laughed and shook his head saying that there were 'hundreds' -- and that he doesn't read them all. In fact, often his assistant will read them and then point him to the ones that he should check out.

Good News: Mr. Hanson said that he tries to bring on one new 'baby writer' per season!

When asked if the writing room for BONES was like some other writing rooms (like HOUSE) that used projection screens or computer screens to share information, he laughed and said that they still use lots and lots of white boards. He knows that some rooms even use iPads with special apps on them to share information -- so that everyone has their own version -- but they're old school and just have lots and lots of white boards.

Once the floor was opened up to questions, one of the audience members asked Mr. Hanson about an earlier statement he'd made, specifically, how they actually go about making the show look $800,000 to $1 Million dollars more than it is. He responded by saying that they absolutely have to make sure that they have a shooting script ready for the Director on day one. That way everyone on the team -- from the Director to the Prop department -- has as much time as possible to do the very best job that they can. He said he knew that it sounded like an odd thing, that 'doesn't everyone do that?' but no, apparently not everyone does that.

They also try to make sure they don't change the script too much as they're going along. He said he likes to think that his team are 'very efficient shooters' in that they're always looking for ways to cut down on costs -- exactly how many people NEED to be in this shot? etc. Finally, he also doled out a massive amount of credit to both of his 1st Assistant Directors, who he thought were absolutely amazing.

The last question of the night was actually quite good. A member of the audience had asked 'what makes a valuable writer to you?' -- specifying that you can be a brilliant writer but not necessarily 'useful for him or his team'. Mr. Hanson closed by saying that the mix of people in a writer's room is really quite interesting (for a Sociologist). There are some writers who aren't great 'theme' writers but have fabulous ideas or come up with fantastic clues. While others are very good at structure but not so good at writing scenes... or vice versa. There are some who can write amazing scenes but without a solid structure to follow (an outline), they're lost.

It's about having the right mix of all these types of people there on the team -- they don't expect everyone, especially when you're in the lower levels, to be an accomplished scene writer AND an accomplished story writer.

And, well, that's all she wrote for the interview. Thank you so much for following along, and a big, fantastic thanks to the CFC's TEST PATTERN series -- and Mr. Hanson -- for setting up this brilliant session for us to take part in and learn from. I truly hope that if you're in the Toronto area that you can make it out to the next one because they really are worth your time.

Cheers!
Brandon

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

More Hart Hanson At The Varsity

Hey all!

Here's some more impressions from the interview!

Enjoy!
______________

Mr. Hanson said that there's no formula for the show itself -- that they try to mix the shows up as much as they can, sometimes they'll have more case, sometimes more personal stuff... sometimes a lot more personal stuff.

He mentioned that back in the second season an exec told him that there's nothing at all wrong with having a formula, that they'd end up having more viewers if the show had a recognizable formula -- to which he shook his head and laughed in his chair as he joked that he should've gone formulaic.

The interviewer nodded, saying that the strength of a show like LAW & ORDER, where you know that by 23 minutes into the hour the case will be solved and they'll be off to trial, is that it's sort of like meatloaf. Comfort food. And Mr. Hanson agreed, saying that his show's version of 'comfort food' was that you'll have a laugh, throw up a bit and, in the end, they'll catch the bad guy.

But he also added that one of the things that people really seem to like about the show is that the case isn't the main aspect of the show; intimating that it's ultimately the strong character moments -- like Dr. Brennan throwing down 'the Crab' move in this particular episode ("The Maggots In The Meathead") -- that really make the show sing.

Of the 'techniques' and fancy machines used in the show? He mentions that while they often 'cheat' like crazy -- getting DNA results back in 5 minutes, for example -- they have not lied or made up anything in the show, all of it exists in the real world. It may not work as fast but it all exists.

He says that they're not the kind of show that's going to 'spring' anyone on you -- by the time you get to the end of the episode, you'll have met the murderer in some fashion.

Side Note: One person apparently wrote to him and told him that her husband had figured out that 'it's always the 3rd person they meet on the show' -- which sent them all scrambling to figure out if that was true because they always want to keep people guessing.

In the writing room, the beginning of the next season always begins at the end of the last season when they start to talk 'arenas' for new episodes. Once they have about six or eight good arenas set up then they'll start to begin the process of actually breaking some of the stories -- Mr. Hanson himself talked about how he'd often leave the main story-breaking efforts to his Co-Executive Producers while he'd come up with the B stories (the personal stories) that would come up during the episodes. As a team the room would break the 'Crime' story and then pitch it to Mr. Hanson who would tell them what he feels works or doesn't work (often where the Act ends are).

Great Idea for Writers: Over time he's discovered that the best way to pitch a story is to have them tell him the story from the Murderer's point of view. This helps make sure the murder and motives make sense. He used the example of 'well why's there a body in the basement?' and the response was something like 'because it'd be a great Act out' -- but that doesn't cut it. First and foremost: The murder has to make sense.

Fast show fact: The explanation at the end of the show, where they reveal how the murder happened, is called 'the download'.

Now that they've done 108 murders (at the time of the talk) he admits that it's getting harder to not repeat themselves, getting to the point now where the actual process of finding stories they can use is almost a full day longer than it used to be.

Alright folks, that's all for today. More tomorrow ;)

Cheers!
Brandon

Monday, November 15, 2010

Well Hello There!

Okay, so my write-up isn't quite done yet -- I'd been pushing to get the writeup done and up today from Mr. Hart Hanson's recent visit but it's taken me a bit longer than expected to go through the notes and get it into sharing form (trying to keep it interesting).

On the bright side, things are going alright on the writing angle -- I'll be in the writing room tomorrow night with my good buddy Peter and some friends to begin breaking down our web series. Some crazy stuff coming down the pipe, hopefully I'll be able to spill more about it soon!

Until then, hopefully you've been keeping up with your Ruby Skye! Episode 7: Stalled was just recently released and things are starting to get pretty hairy for our heroine.

Check it out (or get caught up) here.

Cheers!
Brandon

My Impressions of Hart Hanson at The Varsity

Hey all!

Sorry this took longer than expected to process -- the interview had a ton of little nuggets of goodness in it but that's how it goes sometimes. I'm finally all done but I figured I'd spread it out over the next day or so 'cause, really, I've got nothing exciting going on right now.

So, without further ado, here we go:

Sitting up in the front row, like the little keener that I am, I watched as Hart Hanson -- of BONES fame -- made his way to the stage and sat across from interviewer Richard Crouse. We'd just finished watching 'The Maggots In The Meathead' -- a Jersey-shore-ish episode -- and our applause was still in full swing but he wasted little time in turning it toward the director -- who was actually there in the audience -- Tim Southam, calling him 'a nice Canadian boy' who had gone down to work in LA.

And with that they set off into the interview proper, the first topic: Does he enjoy seeing his work up there on the big screen? Mr. Hanson discussed how it was hard for him to watch it because he was able to point out every single flaw -- that said, it was nice to watch the show with an audience. He sees the show as a 'Crimedy' and felt it was nice to see the audience laughing in all the right places.

Also: Apparently BONES does fantastic with the female demographic... and teenage boys. He said he's not exactly sure why women flock to the show, but then conceded that having David Boreanaz take off his shirt from time to time probably didn't hurt.

Mr. Hanson credits the 'high-budget' look of his show -- saying it looks $800,000 to $1 million more than it actually is -- to his brilliant (and stable) crew, some of which have worked with him since his days on JUDGING AMY.

Interesting side note: When Mr. Hanson first hired Emily Deschanel for the titular role of Dr. Brennan, she made him promise that Booth would only 'save her' a few times, at most. He joked that even in the few times that Booth has had to save Dr. Brennan, she usually ends up saving him right back.

In regards to, what some might call, 'disturbing' levels of gore he actually credited former FOX executive Craig Erwich with presenting the idea to have a 'signature' horrible or baffling moment off the top. Something to elicit a sense of 'How the hell did this happen?' that would draw the viewer in. Mr. Hanson said that he especially liked the idea because it meant that he could allow Ms. Deschanel some time off from in front of the camera (as she'd been in almost every scene in earlier episodes).

Show-wise, in regards to keeping the show fresh for six years, he said that it helps to have a lot of fingers in the pot. Apparently they have eight writers and are quite active in the Writer's room.

Specifically, in regards to "The Maggots In The Meathead", Dean Lopata -- the credited writer -- had approached him early on saying that he'd wanted to do a 'Jersey Shore' themed episode. Though Mr. Hanson had originally said no to the idea, the writer went back to the room and persuaded the C0-Executive Producers that it would be a great episode. By the time the story was re-pitched to him, he found himself quite impressed and gave it the go ahead.

Mr. Hanson said his major contribution to the episode was that he pushed Dr. Brennan's anthropological take on it -- that she thought 'Jersey Shore' really was actually a documentary.

The conversation hit a tangent then, following the 'keeping it fresh' topic, they broached the subject of Season 3's cannibalistic serial killer Howard Epps. Apparently it was a very popular storyline, which was tough for Mr. Hanson as he personally doesn't like serial killers.

This pushed them into the topic of Zack -- originally intended to be a victim of the serial killer known as Gormagon -- the Writer's strike came up and ended up shortening their season substantially. He believes that there's no such thing as excuses in television but the shorter season made it impossible to do the story properly as it had been intended. In the end he felt bad for the actor (who's character was going to be killed) and instead decided to make him an accomplice that way at least there would be an opportunity to bring him back from time to time.

Numbers-wise, the show tends to pull in an average of about 10 million viewers a week, which is fantastic for our current television climate -- Mr. Hanson noted that in the past, on his first show CUPID (with Jeremy Piven), it was canceled because it wasn't performing well and it had 14 million viewers at the time. By the time he left JUDGING AMY (at the 100th episode) it was doing 18 million viewers and it was considered a big hit.

Interesting fact: Apparently studies have shown that if they can get you to watch three episodes of BONES then they've got you hooked. He's not sure why that is (but I'm sure he's not complaining).

More to come tomorrow! Stay tuned ;)

Cheers,
Brandon

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hart Hanson At The Varsity

Hey all,

So I went to see Hart Hanson (Creator of the TV series 'Bones') last night at the Varsity theater -- a new event in re-emergence of the CFC's TEST PATTERN series -- and I have to say that I thought it was an absolutely brilliant time.

Mr. Hanson doesn't seem to be one to pull many punches when he talks about the creation and running of his show -- especially in regards to the politics of running said show -- and I sat there riveted to my seat, just trying to soak it all in.

I really want to thank the CFC (also Global and Fox) for putting this thing together as it was definitely worth the time and I can't wait to check out the next one.

Keep an eye out as I'll have a thorough write up about my impressions of the event soon.

Cheers!
Brandon

Monday, November 08, 2010

Hart Hanson Tonight!

So tonight at 6:30pm at the Varsity Theatre, I'm going to be checking out 'An Evening with Hart Hanson, creator of Bones', one of a series of ongoing shindigs in the CFC's TEST PATTERN series.

Side Note: 'Creator Of Bones' is the coolest Barbarian name ever

Side Side Note: ^ My new character's name when Diablo 3 comes out.

Right. Moving on.

If you're going out there tonight, might be useful to take a look at the Transcript from an earlier (February) appearance at the "Future Of Story" conference in Edmonton.

There's some brilliant stuff in there and I'm re-reading it now to make sure I don't ask any silly questions -- or better yet, make sure I ask some good ones.

More to come tomorrow!

Cheers,
Brandon

Friday, November 05, 2010

Surprise!

Well folks, this has been probably the hardest secret I've ever had to keep in my life.

The moment I found out we were going to have a baby... well, yeah, my wife practically had to hold me down. I wanted to shout it to the world.

But she -- being, truly, the better half -- made a lot of sense. There were tests and doctor's visits and all sorts of things that needed to be figured out first. So, until everything was ship-shape she asked me to keep it on the downlow. Needless to say, I think I've got a permanent set of grooves bitten into my tongue.

On the bright side, now that we're officially in our 3rd trimester, I've been given the green light to yell from the mountain tops. Okay, well, my blog. And so here I go ;)

I'm gonna be a dad!! :D

How cool is that??

Cheers!
Brandon

Thursday, November 04, 2010

More Ruby Skye for you!

Hey all, today's the release of Episode 4 for Ruby Skye P.I. a great new webseries from the likes of Jill Golick, Kerry Young and Karen Walton.

Check out Episode 4 here:

Chapter 4: A Real Green Dress from Story2.OH on Vimeo.

Or better yet, go to their website and check out all the awesome-sauce they've got in store for you there. http://www.rubyskyepi.com/episodes/

In other news, I'm hard at work re-writing 404, trying to get this thing hammered out for mid-November. *fingers crossed*

So yes, I'm a bit distracted.

But, on the bright side, I've been given the go ahead to share some special news with you all... so yes, come back tomorrow for something pretty cool!

Cheers!
Brandon

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Really, George... Really?!





George Bush claims that the lowest point in his Presidency was when Kanye West called him out on live TV and said that 'George Bush doesn't care about black people'.

http://www.movieline.com/2010/11/kanye-west-insult-worst-moment-of-george-w-bush-presidency-says-george-w-bush.php

That's your lowest point? Really?

Ugh. I need a drink.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Taking Stock

Are you trying to break in as a Film/TV writer?

How many hours a day do you pour into your scripts versus pouring into your networking versus balancing a day job?

Which is more important to you? Why?

When do you sleep? How do you sleep?

Do you wake up early and pound the pavement, set up meetings, call your agent -- look for an agent?


Do you work a 9 to 5 and call it a day?

Do you write on your lunch break? Do you talk aloud to the air on your way home?

Do you have a set time to write? Or do you write in the moment? Do you create inspiration or wait for it to arrive?

Do you write a script or an outline? A scene or an exchange?

How do you start? Where do you draw the line? When do you throw up your hands and say 'okay, okay, that's enough for now'?

When is your script done?

And when it is, do you put it out there? Do you seek criticism?

Do you take negative criticism well?

Do you hold a stiff upper lip? Or clench your fists or sneer or snicker? Do you work to make it better or shrug off the obvious lunatic?

Do you roll your eyes and sigh?

Are you a wide-eyed newbie? A calm realist? A sadistic overlord? A jaded mensch?

Can you imagine it? What your goal looks like?

What's your end-game?

How do you plan to get there?

Do you work to lift up those around you? To make a team of friends? Or do you go it alone? Make a name for yourself?

Who do you appreciate? Who do you miss?

Who eggs you onward or lifts you up or reminds you why you're on the right path?

What's your sacrifice? Are you willing to make it?

Will you see the opportunity? Know the right time to strike? Will you snatch it when appears? From the hands of another, if need be?

Are you ready for it if it comes?

Cheers,
Brandon

Monday, November 01, 2010

Back In The Barrel

So, what can I say... last week was not a blog-writing week.

Okay, the last week and a half.

Oddly enough, it's not because I had nothing to say... but more that I just couldn't put it out in any way, shape or form that I could live with.

On the bright side: The Walking Dead premiere -- a show based off a comic that I'm a HUGE fan of -- did gangbusters. 5.3 million people for AMC. It was a brilliant start and I hope it just gets better. If you're currently up to snuff in the comics then you know that Mr. Kirkman has left lots of fertile ground for the series to tread. Fingers crossed that they'll keep a lot of it in. There's some truly, truly disturbing stuff in these books... and very little of it has anything to do with Zombies.

In other news, Toronto has a new Mayor.

Also: Democratic voters still do not have the option to check 'None of the above' and have it actually mean something.

Writing-wise, my 'fixes' of 404 have turned into a full-blown 2nd draft. I realize that there's more that I'd like to add to it and so I've been plugging away at it, trying to make it better. It's a fast-paced story, to be sure, but at some points I realized that it needs a bit more room to breathe, things that I blew right past that deserve to be explored more.

So I've been doing that, selectively easing on the brakes in a few places so we can take in the scenery a tad.

I'm also starting to put together a web series with some friends. Hopefully we can put a writing room together for mid November and have some good stuff hashed out.

Those two things are going to eat up a bunch of my time -- as well as another major event that I can't talk about until mid-February -- but with any luck I'll be able to start on a new spec pilot as well. I've got some great stuff for a starting point... we'll see if it sings or not.

Did anyone else just realize that it's freaking November?!

Geez.

Anyways, more to come -- tomorrow.

Cheers,
Brandon