Progress Report 55 – No Progress

Yeah, it’s that time of the year, the end of the year slump. I haven’t done anything since my last post. I just couldn’t sit myself down to type. My head is just empty and I desperately need some down time to recharge my batteries. I realise that this autumn hasn’t been as productive as it could have been but I’m positive that I will be able to return to form next year. I have a feeling that 2018 could become a great year. 

Maybe I’ll do a 2017 wrap up post next after Christmas, if not take care and I see you in 2018. 

Progress Report 54 – Updates

Sorry, I’m late. I’ve been busy. I haven’t written that much, had to do work stuff but I hope I can manage to get some keyboard time in the next few month. I abandoned the idea for a novel. I still like the idea but I don’t know if it’s a good idea to focus on that part of my life again.

I’d rather do something fun and exciting so I’m probably going to focus on “The Eternal” and I’m also going to resurrect my Time-Travel TV show, for German TV this time.

There’s also an extensive rewrite of “Die Klientin” in the cards. Orlindo helped me pinpoint some problems but I don’t have solutions I like yet. I want to tell a specific story that I have to adjust for audiences and I need to find a way to make the movie and its characters compatible for german tv without sacrificing what interested me in the story. It’s complicated but I’m sure I’ll figure something out.

The “Saber Rider” rewrite is almost complete. I reworked the attack on the Alamo base and there might be some additional adjustments in the final battle but other than that, the rewrite is done and I’m quite happy with it.

No news from the guys from Spain. 🙁

Progress Report 53 – Rewriting Saber Rider

After last weeks big news1, this week is going to be focusing on craft, especially rewriting.

I mentioned that after cutting down Skyscraper, we decided to to the same with Saber Rider. I finally got down to it and I’m happy to report that we were able to cut about 17 pages. We were at about 130 and now the script has 113. The plan was 110 and I’m going to try to find the 3 pages somewhere. Most of the cuts happened in the action sequences. There were to many and they were convoluted. As much as enjoyed Ramrod fighting his way though the four elements, it just felt like three Super Mario levels in a row.

I also reworked the assault on the Ramrod base and made it smaller and a bit more focused on April and Jesse. Some banter between the characters had to go due to this but there’s still enough of that to feel like Saber Rider. What I realised again is that making Saber Rider a bit older was a great decision. It instantly elevates the character relationships and adds some necessary weight to his character that was lacking in the TV show.

During this rewrite I also corrected some spelling errors and polished the dialogue a bit and by polishing I mean shortening. I have the tendency to let my characters speak to long and convoluted2 and each rewrite pr polish I cut a few words more. It’s definitely not the mist efficient process but I think in the end it leads to decent results and I’m usually quite happy with how my characters sound after a couple of polishes.

One last thing I want to mention, I used Highland 2 for this rewrite. Highland is John Auguts’ screenwriting software and I got accepted to the beta program. The app runs really smooth and is totally decluttered and You really focus on the words the page. I feel that with Highland and WriterDuett I can satisfy all my screenwriting needs and the Final Draft days are definitely over. Highland is similar to Slugline but has some neat features that won me over immediately. The “bin” tab where you can put omitted scenes is especially useful while rewriting. I’m really looking forward to the finished version.

That’s it for today. Back to playing Super Mario Odyssey.

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It’s a me, Mario!

  1. I’d love to report some reader spike or maybe a comment but seems like this blog is definitely a one man show. 🙁
  2. I wonder where they get that from.

Progress Report 52 – The New 52

The last week I divided my time between rewriting “Die Klientin” and annotating “Saber Rider”. Rewriting “Die Kleintin” was quite enjoyable. I prefer rewriting to writing and it’s especially rewarding when you feel the script improving. Thanks to Orlindo’s notes I was able to improve the story considerably and I’m currently in the process of polishing my changes and adjusting a few things. I had to realise that I had to improve my two main characters in order to make the story more interesting. I realised something though, technically my story is not about how my main character changes throughout the story, don’t get me wrong he does, but how his character is revealed. This makes it even more important that his perceived change makes sense and is visible. Otherwise he just seems like a boring character without an arc.

In this polish I have to focus on his journey a bit more and I think I know how to make his arc work on the page. The stronger his arc on the page, the stronger the gut punch of the twist will hit the audience. I’ll keep you posted on that one.

Annotating “Saber Rider” was fun as well. There are some scenes that are easy to cut or shorten but there are also big decisions to be made on what to focus on. The plan is to cut a few pages and a couple of million dollars. I have a couple ideas on how to accomplish this. One of the highlights of this process was using my new iPad with the (silly) ApplePencil. Guess what, it worked like a charm. The latency on that thing is great and you can really write and annotate on the screen.

I’m going away for a couple of days and the plan is to do the next polish pass on “Die Klientin” in a similar fashion. I’ll tell you how that went.
I also made some progress with “The Eternal”. I think I know how to proceed and I started making a playlist today. Let’s see how that one turns out.

I don’t know how much time I’ll have to blog the next week and the week after. So don’t hold your breath but to make up for that, I’ll give you a little tease, I’m thinking about doing Nanowrimo, well, not a novel but I have this idea for this novella/short story I might try out. I just had that idea a couple of days ago but for some reason I keep getting back to it. Not sure if it’s a healthy idea. Hooked yet?

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The new 52.

Progress Report 51 – I Will Survive

Greetings my friend. I know updates have been spotty but I hope this will change now. I really hope that some of my personal issues that have been keeping me way too occupied are finally ready to be resolved. I‘m not saying nor expecting that they are going away over night but I hope that it will get better in the weeks and months ahead. But ebnough this is not supposed to be a therapy blog, it‘s a writing blog so lets talk about writing.

I think I finally cracked one of my ideas, the one called „The Eternal“. I think I finally figured out who the main character is and I think that the rest of the story will follow now. It‘s still a lot of work but I‘m confident that I can get a decent story on paper.

Orlindo also gave me feedback on „Die Klientin“. His notes are really helpfull and I‘m sure that incorpotrating his thoughts will elevate the script and make it better, probably not producable yet but definitely more focused, more logical and more fun. I really appreciate his feedback and getting notes like this always reminds me why I like collaboratong so much.

I decided to stop making the numbers a part of the weekly reports and instead focus and writing a bit more about what I actually did. I might do the numbers from time to time but not regularly, I mean seriously, how many times do you need to hear that I did schoolwork. 🙂

But I will try to end every report with „one cool thing“1, a thing that I encountered that week that I want people to know about and/or check our. This weeks omne cool thing is the new Netflix show „American Vandal“. I don‘t want to spoil anything just watch, It‘s worth it.

  1. Yes, I‘m totally gonna steal this from John August and Craig Mazin and the Scriptnotes Podcast.

Still alive

NewImageDon’t worry, the report of my death has been greatly exaggerated, well slightly but you know what I mean.

I’m still looking for momentum but I hope to find it soon. There are a few things I have to take care of first but one way or another I hope that “our long national nightmare” will be over soon.

I don’t want to sound too dramatic but… well let’s just say that Werther seems like a really chill guy with a positive outlook on life….

I hope to resume regular posting soon, just bare with me until I find my bearings.1

  1. Cool wordplay.

Progress Report 50 – In for the long haul

NewImageThis is it, Progress Report 50. I know I’m a bit late but the last too weeks of the school year are always busy and I wanted this one to be a bit longer, it’s the 50th after all. Time to reflect and time to look ahead. I’m not going to talk too much about my private life, I did that many times in the last few month and I’m pretty sure I’ll keep doing that for the foreseeable future but today I want to focus on my writing and how I think I evolved as a writer or to be more precise what I learned about myself as a writer.

Working on Skyscraper and dealing with some personal problems1 I realised that Skyscraper and all the other scripts are much more personal than I thought. I’m starting to see things about myself in Scrap and Skip, well more so in Scrap, that I didn’t knew. I’m not a bird who can’t fly but some of his issues and especially parts of his journey remind me of myself and some of my issues, fears and problems. I didn’t realise it while writing but now it seems really obvious. There’s a lot of me in Scrap and I think that #ProjectMomentum is an important part of my journey and really helped me to spread my wings or at least getting me to a place where spreading my wings seems like the natural and right thing to do.

For me this is what art is supposed to be, I’m not saying that the things I wrote are great art but they speak some truth, maybe not universal truth but my truth and that’s the only one I have and frankly the only one I really care about. I know that Skyscraper is technically “just” a kids movie but if it gets made one day I really think that Scraps journey could be a good life lesson for kids and adults alike. Conquering your fears and self-doubts might not be the most original life lesson but I think it’s an important one, if not the most important one. It’s probably natural for any writer to give meaning to his work and I can see why, it adds value to your work and helps dealing with all the pain of being a writer. You wrote something that has meaning for you and if you’re lucky for someone else as well.

Again, I’m not saying that I wrote War and Peace but if were really honest, popular culture has a far wider reach than most great works of literature and and art, at least those who are not part of the cultural zeitgeist. A popular movie or a tv show has a far wider reach than Tolstoy or Joyce, I’m not saying that that is a good thing, Ulysses is a great book, so as a writer of these shows and movies you have to be aware of your responsibility. You characters, your themes, your stories are going to influence people, their choices and their values, maybe not in a big way but even small and insignificant choices can lead someone on a different path.

ProjectMomentum has been one of the best decisions of my life, it helped me though some dark times and made me a better writer and better person. Blogging about this process was a vital part of its success as well. I don’t know how this blog feels for my readers but it really helped me focus and reflect. If this just reads like gibberish I’m sorry but to me it’s really important.

I won’t do the numbers today, I watched a couple of movies and I’m preparing for my trip to Canada. I hope to get some editing and outlining done, maybe even some writing. I don’t know how often I’ll blog but you can be sure that “Hard but unfair…” returns in August and You can cry and laugh about me and my problems as a person and as a writer. I think the Canada trip is exactly what I need to recharge by batteries.

So, this is it for today but don’t worry, there will be at least 50 more of these in the near future, this time I’m in for the long haul. See you in August, who knows maybe something really great happens. You never know.

  1. I didn’t say I wasn’t going to talk about my personal problems, I just said not too much.

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.