Progress Report 49 – Making Plans

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“I love it when a plan comes together.”

That was a crazy week. 3 rehearsals, 2 concerts, one procession and too many hours of not getting any sleep, some of this might have been my fault and I’m not complaining but I’m glad the week is over. It was awesome but exhausting, like all good things.

I’m skipping the numbers today and I’ll dive right in. We finished our new version of Skyscraper. We cut it down to 73 pages and we are quite happy with the finished product. As I mentioned last week, not everything is perfect and I also realised, that we fail the Bechdel test but we wanted too cut pages and sacrifices had to be made. We learned a lot and I’m pretty sure that I’m going to write a post just about that process and some “behind the scenes”. That one might actually be worth your time. So stay tunes.

Anyway, inspired by this milestone I decided to go though all my projects, dormant, on life-support and near death and triage them to decide what I’m going to do next. I decided on a few parallel ideas and projects to keep all my creative muscles exercised. I don’t know yet what Orlindo is planning but I intend to do my job as his #ProjectMomentum partner and keep pushing him to work. I’m going to focus on these 5 things:

  1. Inspired by the new shorter version of Skyscraper, I’m going to cut at least 20 pages from Saber Rider. There’s going to be heavy tweaking as well.
  2. I’m trying to crack the idea I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. It’s a very personal project and I want to get it right. This one has the biggest potential to be my next project.
  3. Die Klientin: I need to rewrite that one, it’s a bit of a mess right now but I can really see that movie being made for TV.
  4. Windwheel: Windwheel is an idea Orlindo had and I hope to be able to push him to keep working ion it. I won’t be the lead in that one but I really feel good about that idea and it might be worth to explore where that one might lead.
  5. That new exciting idea I’m waiting for. I don’t know what, that seems to be the point but I’m pretty sure that in the next couple of weeks I’ll get inspired to write something new or at least get an idea for something. It might be animated, it might be something totally different.

This sounds like a lot and it definitely is but I think these things are different enough to coexist next to each other in my brain. But then again, maybe I receive a total curve ball and all my plans fall apart, I guess I have to take it week by week. So, see you next week.

Progress Report 48 – Life on Mars

Greetings my friends. Busy week so this is going to be quicky. We have a big concert coming up, actually tow and work requires some attention s well, it’s oral matura next week. I’m really looking forward to July, I’m in serious need for some R&R. But let’s do the numbers.

One book/screenplay: Looking at some books for my students to read next year. Haven’t made a decision though.
Two movies: As part of the Skyscraper rewrite I watched Ozzy, an internationally financed animation film. Its not a great film but I’ve definitely seen worse and the movie shows that a shorter, cheaper version of Skyscraper is something commercially viable. I also watched LIFE. Cool movie, too bad they didn’t do the Venom thing. Would’ve been great.
Seven pages and seven hours: Still polishing the new draft. We got some feedback from friends and we hope to have a decent new version by next week. I feel good about the new version. There are a few things I miss but overall the script feels a bit more in focus. There’s a new found purpose to the story nut much fat. Some of our friends argued, that the pace is almost too high, and they are probably right. It’s even faster than before and there’s almost no filler and the quite moments are short and far and few between.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing for a kids movie and I’m not trying to sound disrespectful, I love kids movies but they are generally faster paced than let’s say a P.T. Anderson movie.

Unfortunately, that’s it for this week. Too busy but stay tuned… who knows.

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Progress Report 47 – The Times They Are a-Changin’

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Something’s in the Air

I can’t believe it’s time for one of these again, the weeks just fly by and I can’t believe I’m at #47 already. It’s matura time and I spent most of the week correcting matura exams. It’s actually not as bad as it sounds, we usually correct together and chat while correcting or make fun of some of some of our student’s mistakes. I know its sound harsh but what can you do, some mistakes are just too good/bad.

Anyway, correcting obviously ate away many hours and I couldn’t do as much writing as I wanted. I managed log some writing time but not nearly enough.

One book/screenplay: No reading this week. A bit of Catcher in the Rye and Of Mice and Men for school, that’s it.
Two movies: I watched some of the Mission Impossible movies, 1 and 5 to be specific. It’s great to see that some franchises evolve, talking to you Pirates.
Seven pages: We finished the new draft and now the real work starts.
Seven hours: Proofreading. Cutting pages and rewriting scenes was surprisingly fun, proofreading and making sure that everything holds together is not. That’s all I have to say about this.

So what now. I should write something, I should get back to work but sometimes I just feel the urge to write something completely different, something unimportant and let’s be honest, what’s less important than my blog. I have basically no readers, not even my friends…should you read this please drop a comment and I stand corrected but I highly doubt it… but that’s totally OK. I figured something out, this blog is not for them or for the world out there, the blog is for me. I’m probably repeating myself but writing this blog is a freeing experience and it kept me sane.

It sounds strange but it really did. You might ask, but if its a blog with no readers why not write a diary? Well, I thought about that too and the only answer I can give, I prefer to organise 1 my thoughts and having (a potential) audience helps me with that. I also like the fact that I I have to disguise some of my personal issues, it’s easier for me to cope with them after I translate them for you. Again, sounds strange but It helps me distance myself from my problems and sometimes they seem a little bit smaller because of it…sometimes they don’t.

During the last couple of month, this blog kept me sane and it was probably one of the best ideas I ever had. It also helped me shape my “writer persona”, that’s not to say I’m playing a character here but I’m a different person on this blog than in real life, I can show another side, other aspects, a different Greg who is probably a bit more honest and unafraid to admit to his feelings, even the dark ones.

I don’t know why I just felt the urge to type these lines just now, it’s just that somehow I have the feeling that change is about to come, The Times They Are a-Changin’. I have no idea, maybe it’s the end of the school year but I have this feeling that something is going to happen, not sure if it’s good or bad, I just know that something’s in the air. I’m not sure if I should be excited or frightened…I think I’ll go with curious.

  1. Ok, my thoughts might not be too organised but definitely better than in a diary.

Progress Report 46 – Up, Up and Away

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Keep calm.

I just booked my summer holiday. Canada, I start in Vancouver and take a trip through the country and I end up in New York and yes, I have a Hamilton ticket. I’m really looking forward to that. I need a break and 5 weeks of travelling should do the trick.

This is just going to be a quicky so let’s go straight to the numbers.

One book/screenplay: Not really, I had to spend some time with Skyscraper.
Two movies: The new Pirates is a mess. I also watched some random movies. Nothing too fancy.
Seven pages and seven hours: I spent most of my time with Skyscraper. We decided to cut it down to 80 pages and we hope to be don by the end of June. The goal is to make the script “cheaper” to produce. Pixar is not going to buy it but maybe someone who produces mid-budget animation movies might be interested. So technically I worked more than 7 hours but I produced minus 21 pages. We’re down to 82 right now but there are a few areas that require a lot more work.

There were some easy cuts, surprisingly easy, but some cuts require some adjustments and some new ideas. It’s quite an interesting process. You have a goal that creates problems and solving these problems is quite challenging but also inspiring. I haven’t felt so creative in quite a while. I love it.

In fact I enjoy it so much that I’ll stop now and get back to writing. Stay tuned, who knows.

Progress Report 45 – Master of None

What a busy week. So many things going on, I’m sure you are familiar with that. You have a thousand things to handle, so many different tasks to balance and then on top of that something totally unexpected happened and you just have to ask yourself where to find time for that. Two weeks earlier or later, no problem but why now? Why now?

Guess what, turns out you can find time. Sure you’re extremely busy and your nights get shorter but I actually like being busy. Don’t get me wrong, I love doing nothing but being busy, doing something I like or even love is not bad either. You probably wonder what Im talking about, well, a gentlemen never tells…no it’s not about a women, I said doing something not someone you love…but at this point I wouldn’t be surprised if… no, not going there. Focus. Quick, let’s do the numbers before I get sidetracked again.

One book/screenplay: Do term papers count? I ha to read and correct some term papers, some of them good, some not so much but it’s work and it has to be done. I also reread Skyscraper but more on that a bit later.
Two movies: I didn’t watch too many movies but I binged Master of None, Season two on Netflix and wow, what aigret show. Season 1 was good but the second season is a sight to behold. Ansari and his team truly deliver on something great and unique. I don’t want to spoil anything, just go and watch it.
Seven pages and seven hours: I’m combining these two this week. A couple of month ago we wanted to rework Skyscraper to enter some competitions, well we reworked it a bit but we decided against the competition. This week I found myself going back to the script and I started to look for stuff to cut, shorten and polish. 103 pages is a bit long for an animation movie. Making it shorter seems like a good way to improve the scripts commercial appeal. In a way it’s similar to what we did with Saber Rider. It worked great for Saber Rider, it actually made the script better so hopefully we can repeat that with Skyscraper and who knows, maybe we soon have good news to share…c’mon, we’re allowed to dream. 🙂

Let me end with just a few quick thoughts on Master of None, I’m really busy remember. I liked the first season but compared to the seond one it was a bit unfocused. Maybe that was deliberate to some extent, Dev had to find himself at the end of the season and I think like Dev, the show really found itself in season two. It feels more mature and clearly wants to say something about human nature that goes far beyond the experiences of an Indian Muslim in America. All his problems, even the religious ones, especially those, are totally relatable and feel universal. I think that’s high praise and the show deserves it. I’m looking forward to season three.

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Jack of all Trades…

Progress Report 44 – 47:11

It’s that time of the week again but let’s start with some personal news. I did my first 10k yesterday and I totally crushed it. I wanted to run under 55 minutes, a decent pace for me, but I was able to finish in 47 minutes and 11 seconds. I’m really proud. I obviously didn’t win anything (I placed in the middle, 68th to be precise) but I ran for me and it’s safe to say that I successfully completed the challenge. Hooray!

You probably wonder if I had time to write with all my racing, of course I did, well not actual writing but I did some outlining. Here are the details:

One book/screenplay: I started with the Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, I’m thinking of reading it with a class next year, too early to tell though.
Two movies: Finished Buffy today, great finale. Angel’s 4th season is really strong as well, even though the plot feels a bit too constructed sometimes, still great shows. Maybe I’ll go see Get Out today.
Seven pages: Still waiting for stuff to write.
Seven hours: I’m fairly certain that I cracked the idea. I have a decent outline for act one and two (two is a bit sketchy but makes sense) and I’m reworking them right now in order to get a good grip of the third act. I’m not sure how to introduce the Supernatural elements, actually I don’t know if they are necessary.

I decided to set the story on a space station, picture 2001 meets Gravity with a bit of Alien to keep everyone on their feet. I actually think that a psychological version of Alien is actually a good way to describe my idea. It’s not about a Ripley who fights an alien, it’s about a character who fights another kind of evil, inner demons, either real or supernatural. It’s more about an internal struggle than an external one, sure it’s a movie and you need some action but I mentioned I see the monster of the story as a metaphor, a manifestation of inner turmoil that the protagonist needs to resolve. I hope I’ll be able to externalise this internal conflict in an appropriate and entertaining way. That’s why I’m going to stop now, I need to get some work done.

2001 Space Odyssey

No HAL in my movie.

Progress Report – Vol. 43

I’m a few days short but I did some work, so shut up, just kidding…about the shutting up, not about the work.

Guardians Galaxy 2 Baby Groot Trailer

WE ARE BABY GROOT!

I spent my second week off from work working in my office. School stuff and writing stuff. I’m working on the outline for my next movie and I’m making progress, slow but steady. I had some ideas on how to make the story more dramatic, most of them not very original but I decided to write them down anyway. I’m a strong believer in writing and rewriting so I rather have a page with stupid things on it than nothing at all.

Let’s do the numbers.
One book/screenplay: I’m currently reading To Kill a Mockingbird for school. Good read.
Two movies: My Buffy the Vampire Slayer Marathon Turned into a Buffy and Angel marathon. These two shows are just awesome. Season one of Angel takes some time to get its footing (the Arrival of Wesley1 mark the spot) and The 6th season of Buffy has some issues2 I’ll probably do a dedicated Buffy and Angel post at some point about my love for these two shows and some lessons about storytelling. I also saw the second Guardians of the Galaxy movie and I’m happy to report that James Gunn delivers. A fun ride with an adorable Baby Groot.
Seven pages: Who am I kidding.
Seven hours: As I mentioned before, I’m hard at work on my new idea and so far it looks promising. There’s a lot of work to do but I think I figured out what story I want to tell. I Hope to be able to blend my love for genre-movies with the emotional depth the story needs. It’s a very personal story and I hope that the genre elements help me too get to the core of the emotions.

It’s interesting, the more I think about this story and all the other things I wrote the more I see that everything I every wrote is deeply personal on at least one level. Sure there’s comedy and action or whatever in pretty much everything I wrote and there’s plenty of silliness as well but to some extent there’s always something in there that is straight from my heart, or at least that part where my emotions wreak havoc from.

I have a lot of doubts about my writing and I’m not sure that my stuff is good but I’m fairly certain that it is at least honest and I’m fairly certain that my writing made me a better person and helped me working through some stuff. I don’t know what I’d do without this outlet. I guess as a writer you have to be a bit crazy but for me it’s probably the other way round. I’m a bit crazy and that’s why I write.

Which is why I must get to writing right now, there’s a lot of work to do.

  1. A quick aside: In Buffy Wesley was a joke and in Angel he’s introduced as a klutz but by Season 3 he’s probably my favourite character and that’s not just because we have a similar taste in women. 🙂
  2. Once more with Feeling not being one of them.

Progress Report 42 – the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything

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Six by Nine?

I’ve been looking forward to this one. We all know that 42 is the answer the to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, so maybe Progress Report #42 is the thing Douglas Adams was aiming for. Who knows, maybe this blogpost starts a new movement or religion or something1.

I’m still not feeling quite myself but I’ve been quite creative so I’m not complaining too much. So let’s start with the numbers and then we’ll see where #42 takes us:

One book/screenplay: I’ve read Off to be the Wizard by Scott Meyer. Quite a fun read, nothing too deep but highly enjoyable.
Two movies: Still in the middle of my Buffy marathon. There are some great arcs and episodes. Season 2 and 3 are even stronger than one, Angelus is a great villain and the Mayor is just hilarious. I even cried a lot wehen Buffy’s classmates thanked her for saving their lives in the Prom episode. I also watched some horror movies, The Babadook and Drag me to Hell to prepare for my new project.
Seven pages: I’m not there yet. I have to light some fire under Orlindo’s arse though, I need to rewrite Die Klientin.
Seven hours: I’ve been working on my new idea and so far it looks promising. I’m still figuring out what exactly I want to say but I had some good ideas on how to structure the whole thing. At the moment I’m toying with some alternative setting ideas. The Nerdwriter hat this interesting Video this week about Passengers, that movie with Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence2. In the video he talked about ways to improve the movie and he (and others) has a point. A structural change would improve that movie and it got me thinking, not only about the structure, maybe the movie and the supernatural aspects would flourish in a different setting as well. I’m not just considering space, maybe a different time period or just a really peculiar setting, basically anything more interesting than just a boring office.

That’s what I’ve been up to this week. It feels good to work creatively again and it helps me through all the other crap. Alfred Hitchcock once said: “Drama is life with the dull bits cut out.”I’m just hoping I get to the happy end before I get canceled.

In other news: James Gunn released the Tracklist for the Guardians Vol. 2 Soundtrack, guess who’s on it…David Hasselhoff. I would never have thought of that but it makes perfect sense. Proof? Let’s end this post with an awesome song/music video.

  1. Or maybe it’s “Six by nine. Forty two. That’s it. That’s all there is. I always thought something was fundamentally wrong with the universe
  2. Love of my life…please call me. 🙂

Progress Report 41 – A Monster Calls

Ok, bare with me, this is the last time I promise1 but at least this one is a bit writing related.

There’s a saying among screenwriters, I’m paraphrasing but basically its about the idea, that every villain is the hero of his story. He probably doesn’t know that he’s the bad guy, he has his mission, his goals and his motivation and he just want’s to succeed. If that is true, what about the opposite? Is every hero a villain of someone else’s story? To complicate matters even more, how do I know which one I am? How can I be sure that I’m the hero if it feels exactly the same as being a villain in someone else’s story?

In my ongoing quest to make sure that my life is one god-awful movie, I inadvertently (or maybe through mind-boggling stupidity is more accurate) turned into the villain of someone’s story. I was blind to the effects my actions had on that person and through all my efforts to fix my mistakes (apparently heroes and villains both make mistakes), I made it worse and  I turned from villain to monster. I’m not comparing myself to a moustache-twirling Bond villain and I’m no Xenomorph either but my actions deeply hurt someone. It doesn’t matter that my intentions were good, apparently all villains have (some) good intentions, the only thing that really matter how my actions affect others. It might be a while until I fully realise the damage I caused and the full extent of my misguided actions, I don’t even know if I can ever forgive myself, the only thing that I’m sure about is that I’ll do everything in my power to never repeat my mistakes. Out of respect to others, I’m not going into too much detail but trust me, I learned a valuable lesson I don’t intend to ever forget. It doesn’t feel good2 to realise that you’re the monster and that you (inadvertently) hurt someone you care for. If you should ever read this, I’m sorry.

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What I see in the mirror.

Moving on, I promised you screenwriting and screenwriting you shall get. It was Carrie Fisher who said,

“Take your broken heart, make it into art.”

and that’s exactly what I intend to do. The last couple of month were really difficult for me and recent revelations reshaped my perception of them and I think in these events and my newfound insight into them lies my next movie. I know I say that all the time that I finally found my next project but I think I really need to write this one now. It might not surprise you that I’ll think of it as part writing, part therapy but who cares, I truly believe that it will turn out good and I’m saying that before I even have the slightest idea what the plot is going to be. I have a lot of ideas about the characters and I know that the story will get a supernatural-horror edge, I’ll mix in a bit of romance and round it up with a pinch of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (not the slaying part but the one with all the metaphors).

I have no title yet but I hope to finish my outline over the easter break. I’ll keep you posted.

And now for something completely different…the numbers:
One book/screenplay: To Kill a Mockingbird is a really good read.
Two movies: I rewatched a few things, among themThe Neverending Story (someone needs to remake this, there is so much potential) and I started with a Buffy marathon, its just a great show, the first season is really tight.
Seven pages: Not even one page.
Seven hours: Does my new Idea count?

That’s it, I’ll promise to regain momentum, but who knows I might be a villain and maybe I’m just lying.

  1. Who am I kidding, there will be more posts like this but let’s be honest, you’re just here for these anyway.
  2. Honestly, it totally sucks.

Progress Report 40 – The Shape of Things to Come

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Never heard of this movie.

It has been a while and I’m sorry that I’m not sorry. Things are complicated and my life seems like a silly soap opera. It’s probably the universe having a laugh on my expense but sometimes I feel like Ben from “The Passion of the Geek”. Life imitating art, but wasn’t that script inspired by life? Looks like I’m trapped in a vicious circle. Good joke universe, really funny.

Writing is on the back burner right now but I’m collecting my thoughts and I’m positive that I’ll start my next project soon. Until then I have a lot of work to do. School keeps me really busy, reading, correcting, preparing lessons and all that crap. Don’t get me wrong, I like my job but it’s very taxing at the moment.

But let’s talk a bit more upbeat, this is my Progress Report 40 after all, YEAH! I honestly never thought I’d get this far and I think it is fair to say that #ProjectMomentum has been a success. I got some writing done, I helped developing ideas and I’ve lost some weight in the process. #ProjectMomentum is not just a writing project anymore, it’s actually something that got my life (back) on track. I don’t want to sound too dramatic, I didn’t feel lost or anything before, but all things considered1 my life is better than it was a year ago. I think right know, I’m the person I want to be, the person I’m supposed to be, someone with a lot of potential to work towards (some of) his dreams. Doesn’t sound too bad, does it?2

I have no idea if this post is depressing or uplifting. This is basically how I feel on most days and as much as I try, I can’t change that, I can try to make the best of it and that’s what I think #ProjectMomentum is for me, a way to make the best of my life and I intend to keep doing that. I have no idea in what shape or form that will be but I will continue on that path, I just hope it leads somewhere nice.

So here’s to 40 more, I’ll try to keep these reports coming.

I’m not doing the numbers today. Progress Report #40 doesn’t need that but the numbers will continue. I have some good books and some decent movies lined up. Today I want to end with a piece of music that gave me the idea for the title of this post.

Bear McCreary wrote some great music for the “Battlestar Galactica” series and here’s one of my favourite tracks. Its beautifully haunting piece of music that really resonates with me.

  1. ..well, besides that one small (really important and life defining) detail of course.
  2. For a better understanding of my hopes and dreams, see this entire blog.