#Momentum – Week 2 and 3 – WWW

I’m back and I’m not even pretend to be sorry because of my broken promise. I really wanted to blog last week but WWW (Whiteworms Work Week) was a success. We worked hard on some new projects and old projects and I think it’s fair to say, that I feel energised and motivated to hit the keyboard again. But what I liked most about last week wasn’t the actual writing it was the way to get there. We had some heated discussions and I think our new project is the better for it. I don’t want to spoil too much but I just finished a new draft of the new project’s first act and I have a pretty good feeling. It is so much better than it was a week ago. I now where the characters need to go, I have a pretty good idea about their journey all I need now are some interesting set pieces which force them to change and become better… I don’t want to spoil anything.

All I’m saying is, it’s not a sequel to “Skyscraper” but in a way it is. It’s set in a different part of world, a different time and everything is different but there’s a similarity in tone and theme to “Skyscraper” that seems to be the thing we/I aspire to when writing. If I write something I need to say something, it actually doesn’t matter that much whether or not the audience gets it, I just need the story to mean something to me and both “Skyscraper” and our new animated feature have something to say that is very personal.

In fact, the new project is probably one of the most personal things1 I ever attempted to write, but not in the sense of an actual story, more in an emotional way. It’s not that I lived through these events, it’s more that similar events and experiences made me think a certain way and this story is a way to share these ideas and feelings. I think it’s probably my version of Finding Nemo’s Andrew Stanton realisation that he was an overprotective father that led him to write Finding Nemo.

Finding Nemo‘s roots back to a 1992 visit to Six Flags Marine World  and started Andrew thinking about the amazing possibilities of capturing an undersea world in computer animation. The film was inspired by a fleeting moment of realization in which Stanton observed that his overprotective fatherly instincts were preventing him from properly bonding with his son. It tells the tale of a young clown fish who is whisked from the ocean to a dentist-office aquarium and his father’s quest to bring his son back home safely. As with Stanton’s other writing efforts, Finding Nemo focused on character development and provided an emotional resonance and heart rarely seem in animation. – http://www.pixartalk.com

I’m not saying that my story is as good as Finding Nemo but I think the fact that I the idea had a similar way of coming into existence is probably a good sign. As I say before, writing is not just for entertainment, it’s also about ideas and communicating those ideas. Even blockbuster movies, actually especially blockbuster movies need something to connect them to an audience and it usually helps if the writer or the director or preferably everyone who works on the movie has a personal, emotional connection to the core theme or message of the story.

I actually think that’s what good writing is really about, finding that emotional center, and it actually doesn’t matter if everyone in the audience gets it. Maybe someone takes something different away from the movie, who am I to judge. I’m not going to explain to anyone what he or she should feel after reading or (hopefully) watching one of my stories. I’m going to share with you what it means to me but if it means something different to you, be my guest.

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No Spoilers!

  1. Well, the most personal is it probably “The Passion of the Geek” but let’s not go there, it’s a silly palce.

#Momentum – Week 1 – Breaking the Research

The 1st week of #Momentum is almost over and I’m happy to report, that even though I didn’t meet all my guidelines, I consider week one rather successful. I spent most of the week thinking about the follow-up to “Skyscraper” and I’m happy to report that I made some progress. I’m far from finished and I don’t have a story yet but I have a feeling about the characters and their journey. But let me tell you bit about how I approached this project.

Usually, I have a story I want to tell but this time I decided to force myself to approach the script from a character perspective. For the last couple weeks I had an idea about the kind of story I want to tell and what the theme, the message should be. So all I had to do is come up with characters who could experience this emotional journey I planed for them. I narrowed down the theme and suddenly I knew what characters I had to pick and how their journey looked like. It’s obviously not polished yet and there will be many things that will change but looking at the character breakdowns, I get a feeling for them and I think I want to get to know them better (which is really important when you decide to write 70 to 80 pages about someone).

Ok, so now that I have some ideas for the characters and a sense of what I want to say it’s time for my favourite part, research. Where do I set the story? Do I use animals or humans or both? What kind of animals, what kind of humans? What external forces play a role? etc.

I love this part, the possibilities are endless but as soon as you hit on the idea, it just clicks, and yesterday it did. I’m not going into details but I had an epiphany yesterday and I could feel how the pieces started to fit together. It’s a nice feeling and probably one that every writer cherishes. It doesn’t feel like work yet but It’s a huge leap forward. The only downside, now the real work starts.

Now I have to distill all my ideas and all possibilities into a treatment that Orlindo and I can (hopefully) develop into our new project. Ok, back to writing now, I never said these updates have to be long. 🙂

Home sweet home

So, that was that.

I‘m fresh off the Festival and I think it‘s a bit too early to fully reflect on the last few days. But first things first, we didn‘t win. I‘m not too sad or surprised about that, we never really thought that we‘d have a real shot and it‘s definitely one of those „an honor to be nominated“ cases. Congratulations to Petterchens Mondfahrt

I don‘t know yet what will come of this weekend but I have a good feeling about it. The nomination proved that the things we write are decent and we got some contacts and new people to send the screenplay to. I‘m cautiously optimistic that something might develop out of these new contacts. fingers crossed.

The festival itself was nice and if I get another chance I‘ll go back. I visited some FMX panels, some talks and one animated short presentation. I didn‘t attend any of the competition movies, I had my own one. 😉

All in all, I had a great time and… who knows. 

I’ll do a longer write up once everything settles down and maybe I have more news to share then.

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.

A bit of follow-up on that ITFS business

It’s been a couple of days since that awesome news and I had some time to process all of it and I want to share my thoughts. Let me start by saying that since the news of the nomination, there’s this warm and fuzzy feeling all over me. It feels awesome to have your work finally recognised by professionals but I also have to admit that part of me is still a bit in denial and tries to downplay all of it. To be honest, this is probably the closest I will ever come to achieving my childhood dream and I’m pretty sure that on the 27th of April in Stuttgart, once I fully realise where I am and what is happening that feeling will totally sink in. I will be in a room with industry professional and they will assume that I belong there because of something I wrote. I’m pretty sure, that that feeling will be great and probably a bit overwhelming. 

I now know who the other nominees1 are and I’m sure that we’re not going to win, which is actually freeing. I’m just going to Stuttgart to have a good time and maybe talk to some movie people and who knows maybe one of them buys “Skyscraper” or has an interesting job offer. The other nominees are in production and have producers and funds attached to them so we’re definitely the underdog or the only one without a date for the big ball which technically makes us the most interesting girl at the dance. 

A boy can dream and that’s definitely what I’ll try to do for the next couple of weeks. I’ll dream about achieving my dream and who knows, I’ve never been closer and I’m quite sure that the night will be a blast and even if nothing develops, not many people can claim that they came this close to achieving their childhood dream and I consider myself really lucky. 

  1. So far the ITFS and the other nominess have not officially announces the nominations, so I’m going to refrain from divulging that informiation until it’s official.

Breaking News: That was unexpected

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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.

Almost there, just give me a second

…I’m almost there. Things are looking good. I’m slowly getting into it. I’m doing some housekeeping on my computer, I’m reorganising my notes and I even started to write a few words. I don’t know why it takes me so long to ease into my process again but I guess it’s because I lost momentum and I need to get it back.

There’s this one problem with momentum though, you don’t have it until you have it. It’s basically an uphill battle to get it but once you have it, it’s pretty much flat or even downhill…in the good sense. It’s going to be a lot of work but I’m sure I can don it. I lined up a little project that should allow me to be creative without too much preparation and if things work out it should be creatively rewarding. I think a small thing like that might be the ideal way to get started again. I have some other projects and ideas but they all seem big and daunting and I just know that I need something small to get started….just give me a second.

Sisyphus

Almost there…seriously.

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. 🙁

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.