ITFS 2018 – Here I Come

I have to admit, I’m getting nervous. I leave for the ITFS today. I have a 4 hour trainride ahead of me but I’m so excited that I don’t mind. Slowly, the fact that I’m attending a festival where I’ve been nominated for a prize, starts to really sink in. I’m not fully there yet, I’m quite sure that it will happen once I have my lanyard with my name on it that says filmmaker. I’ll post pictures. 🙂

I’m probably going to use my instagram account this weekend and the plan is to write a follow up on saturday on my way home. I don’t really know what to expect from the festival, I just know that I’m really excited.

I’m also looking forward to seeing Orlindo, my partner in crime (in the flesh), again. A long time ago we started this journey together, on somehow diverging paths but it’s fitting that we can experience this together and that “Skyscraper” is the screenplay that made it happen.

I obviously have no idea if and how this weekend will influence our careers and to some extend maybe even our lives, if at all, but I just can’t shake the feeling that it’s going to be a great weekend and because we worked hard and long for it, karma should reward us at least a little bit. A journey that started on April 7th 2007 and that had its ups and downs, lead us to this weekend and as I said, I have absolutely no idea what will haben but I know that we are going to have some serious fun this weekend.

Stay tuned. 🙂

It’s official!

Another bit of ITFS follow up.

Orlindo’s and my nomination is now official. We’re still waiting for a proper press release but our names appear in the official festival catalogue and although the possibility of it being a very elaborate practical joke still seem like a viable explanation… all signs point to it being a real thing. Yeah! Rejoice!

Skyscraper

from the Official Festival Catalogue

We feel humbled to be included among these other nominees. Ron Segal is an accomplished author and his novel that the screenplay is based on, went straight on my to read list. Ali Samadi Ahadi and Arne Nolting are two prolific filmmakers with a long list of IMDB credits. Orlindo and I definitely feel like the underdog here but I actually prefer it this way. No matter what happens in Stuttgart, the fact that we were nominated is rewarding enough, especially with these fellow nominees.

We seem a bit like the odd one out, no producers attached, no grants awarded yet but I guess that’s why these writing competitions are so great, in the end it’s just what’s on the page. Sure, there’s the tiny possibility that only three screenplays were entered into the competition but I choose to ignore that thought.

So, I wish to congratulate my fellow nominees and I can’t wait to meet them in Stuttgart. It’s going to be a blast.

Breaking News: That was unexpected

NewImage

Word!

So yeah, this happened. Remember when I talked about how my motivation is slowly returning and that I felt confident that I could get #ProjectMomentum going again… Well, turns out that getting nominated for a screenplay award really helps in that department. Yes, you read that right, Skyscraper, written by my friend Orlindo and yours truly is nominated for the German Animation Screenplay Award at the ITFS 2018 in Stuttgart. There are two other nominees, I don’t know who they are but I’m sure I’ll find out soon.

The awards ceremony is set for April 27th and Orlindo and I will be attending. We’re obviously very excited but I’ll try to manage my expectations. I’m pretty sure that we won’t win but as long as we are able to have a few interesting conversations after the event and maybe, who knows…you never know but I don’t expect anything to happen. I’m going in open minded and I’ll try to have a good time. It’s probably the only awards ceremony for screenwriting I’ll ever attend as a nominee and I don’t want to spoil that experience by having too many expectations.

This I obviously a developing story so I’ll keep you updated but it’s important to me to use this chance to say thanks, I’m not going to name names, you know who you are, but I want to say thanks to everyone who either believed in me or challenged me. Skyscraper is a product of a lifetime of experiences and challenges and I couldn’t have done it without you. Thanks.

Let’s do some News – #Rascacielos

Yes, someone likes our work!

In the last couple of months there have been some developments I want to share with you. I left some cryptic clues here and there but it’s time to set the record straight that tell you what we’ve been up to. It’s quite cool but I’m pretty sure it will fall apart quite soon, that’s basically why I’m posting this now, before this post becomes obsolete.

But not too fast, let’s rewind a bit… previously on Hard but unfair… You probably know that the last year was a difficult one for me. Things1 didn’t go according to plan and life has been strange, difficult and just generally sucky. I always had a really hard time coping with these kinds of experiences and feelings and this time it completely knocked me off base. I’m a different person because of it, at least I feel different and I’m finally moving on. I hope though that these feelings and experiences make me a better person or at least inspire me to become a better writer but when it comes to unrequited love, being emotional just sucks. Life is hard but unfair… but even in these dark times, there’s usually a silver lining, you just have to look really hard. Sometimes a personal failure can lead to something good and in this case it did.

Out of respect to others, I’m not going into the details of what exactly happened, it’s not too hard to guess though and as an avid reader of this blog you have enough information to fill in the blanks but I’ll tell you what happened afterwards. I cried my soul out and I promised myself something: Become the best possible version of yourself.

So, who is that? Well, basically it’s a better looking more successful version of the thing I was looking at in the mirror. If you follow this blog you probably read about what came next, I lost some weight, started to use some hair product, bought some new shirts, tighter trousers, generally speaking, I started to take better care of myself and my looks. One thing was missing though, professional success. I’m not saying that I’m a loser, I have a decent job I like and I’m not bad at it but this blog is supposed to be about my endeavours as a writer so you probably know how I’d describe success or what my dream version of success is.

Take your broken heart, make it into art. – Carrie Fischer

I wrote a new screenplay last fall and I promised myself to work hard on achieving my goal of becoming a professional writer. A broken heart can be a really good incentive to get things done and I admit, I definitely used those feelings, as chronicled on this blog. My motivation was about 50% hope and 50% defiance, or maybe the other way round. So I worked really hard on some new material, worked a bit on some old stuff and made sure that word (the screenplays to be specific) got around. I’m not sure how but … and here it comes … no, she didn’t confess her love for me…we reached someone. Yes, you read that right. Someone got interested in something we wrote, we being Orlindo and I. Yes, I’m serious.

On May 8th2 we got contacted through www.whiteworms.com by Capitán Araña, a Spanish production company. They heard about our script Skyscraper on the Blacklist and wanted to read it. They seemed legit, they just produced an animated movie called Ozzy that looked decent and professional enough, so we sent them a copy.

They read it.
They liked it.

A week later I was on a Skype call with them. They had some concerns but generally they saw a lot of potential. Their biggest issue, length. 104 pages was at least 24 too much. Too expensive was another issue. So we searched our feelings and a week later we had another Skype call. We agreed to cut the pages and find ways to make the script less expensive to produce. There were some easy fixes but also some areas that required a lot of work and some creative problem solving.

We worked our asses off. At this point I’d like to mention writerduet.com. Cutting the script down was very collaborative and writerduet’s collaboration features made it just so much easier. I don’t want to think about how much time and hassle that piece of software saved us. We also used Slack and Evernote to communicate and share notes and thoughts. It’s amazing how essential these tools became for me in the last couple of weeks and months. Somehow I can’t imagine my workflow without those tools anymore, especially if there’s a co-writer you have to share notes and ideas with.

There were a couple of steps we had to take to turn 104 pages into an under 80 pages. Some pages were easier to cut than others but after a few days we were down to a 73 page screenplay and that was where the real work started. In order to cut pages we had to get rid of some connecting scenes and sequences. We had to come up with new connecting scenes and reworked entire sequences.

Another thing we had to keep in mind was the proposed budget. We wrote Skyscraper without thinking too much about money, the world was big, many characters, crowd sequences, water, wet fur, … . So when the proposed budget is less than 10% of that of a Pixar movie, you have to make some adjustments. This was probably the most difficult issue but also the one that required to most creativity.

The biggest nuisance was proofreading though and I’m not just talking about typos and stuff, by cutting pages, whole scenes or even sequences you risk cutting something vital, a small detail that was important for the plot but because you’re so into the story you don’t realise its importance. That’s why I, on behalf of Orlindo and myself, want to thank our friends who provided some proofreading/feed-backing. It was vital and fresh eyes were sorely needed. Thanks, if there’s a showing in town, you’re invited… if the villagers want to run us out of the village afterwards we need someone to blame.

Jokes aside, we’re actually very happy with how the script turned out. There are a few details missing and some moments I quite liked are gone but generally speaking the script feels more focused and no matter what happens we’re glad that we rewrote Skyscraper and we learned some valuable lessons for our next screenplay, yes we’re actively pursuing some of our ideas and I’m positive that this rewrite will lead to a better next script.

But I digress, you were wondering about the guys from Spain. Well, we sent them the new version and started waiting and waiting and waiting …. After a week we started to doubt ourselves … not that they were taking that much time but they were really fast the first time around and let’s face it, emotions were running high. After the second week, all our doubts were gone, yes we suck. After week three….
Let’s just say we waited for some time. Our Spanish friends were busy with other projects and summer went by without any new developments. I’d love to say that in autumn the whole story gained “momentum” again but apparently they are really busy. We’re still waiting. So were basically experiencing our very first “development hell”, at least we can strike that off our bucket list.

This is the whole story up to this point. We’re obviously just at the beginning of this journey and there are many things that could and probably will go wrong but it feels like a really big step in the right direction. I’ve never been closer to achieving my childhood dream and I’m cautiously optimistic. There aren’t that many people who are lucky enough to get this close to achieving their dreams, especially if it’s something outrageous like becoming a screenwriter and yet here I am.

There are truly exciting times ahead and I hope that this journey takes me where I want to go or at least where I need to be. So stay tuned, hopefully there’s more to come, either a great Hollywood success story or a hilarious Hollywood failure story that ended before it really started… well not exactly Hollywood but you get the drift. I will continue to share news about this adventure under a new segment I’m calling #Rascacielos, that’s Spanish for Skyscraper.

The Hollywood process is like trying to grill a steak by having a succession of people coming into the room and breathing on it. – Douglas Adams

This is getting really long, so I should wrap it up. Just two more thoughts, first, thank you3. Not for breaking my heart but for pushing me to become the best possible version of myself. I couldn’t have done it without you. Second, this is a strange thought though, it’s probably just me being me, like totally stupid and ungrateful for this awesome opportunity and just by contemplating this I feel like I’m betraying my childhood-self or it might just be that part of my brain/personality again that makes me a writer, anyway, if someone (fairy godmother, I’m talking to you) offered me a choice, either this or a little more luck in that other area… how shall I put it… a heartbeat seems like an awfully long time to decide something so easy.

You know what? Actually, I think my childhood-self would definitely approve. 🙂

Stay Tuned.

  1. Let’s be honest, we all know that I’m talking about a girl. I have no idea what it says about me that I start this post about my greatest achievement with one of my biggest failures… but I guess it’s fitting.
  2. That’s exactly 10 years, 1 month and 1 day since we officially started the project, April 7th 2007. Coincidence?
  3. You know who your are.