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 things 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.
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. 🙂
Aaron Sorkin is one of my favorite writers, I like pretty much everything he has ever written. I even like Studio 60. I admit, not a great show but I like shows about shows and Bradley Whitford is always fun to watch. The same is true for Sports Night and Newsroom but Sorkin‘s best behind the scenes show is without a doubt The West Wing.
I’d vote for him!
Apparently the show originated when they had great material leftover from The American President. I mean obviously „leftover material“ doesn’t make sense but I think they realized that there are more stories to tell within the White House dealing with politics and the people involved. On the surface it sounds really boring but the characters are really compelling and you just love to watch them do their thing.
The characters are very well realized and even though there’s room to grow for them, they appear fully developed in the Pilot. Toby’s arc in the final season doesn’t fit though, but Sorkin was long gone by that time.
I’m currently in the middle of my yearly rewatch and the show is still amazing and has probably the best dialogue ever. Nearly every conversation has it’s moments and I know it’s stylized language but I wish I could talk like that in real life. I’d probably be somewhere in between Josh and Sam but every character gets great lines.
But it’s not just about the characters it’s about the storylines and the politics as well. In today’s world, it’s particularly nice to see a bunch of government officials who are trying to do good. We’re not used to that anymore. Granted, the Bartlet presidency had its fair share of disasters (the Zoey thing is happening in one of the next episodes) but there are other great two parters that elevate the storytelling. I’m binging the show and I’m astonished how high the quality of every episode is. Nearly every episode has at least one moment that I can still remember from my last rewatch… “ahh, that’s the episode where Josh does this…“. I rarely skip an episode and if I do it’s mostly because I’m not in the mood for something really depressing.
But let’s get back to the actual writing. I have no idea how Sorkin managed the workload on the show (drugs?). His name is on nearly every episode and maybe that’s one reason why the show is so consistent. You can clearly hear his voice, his values, his opinions and I have to admit, I share a lot of them or at least I find the presented arguments compelling and worth talking about. The show was sometimes panned as „The Left Wing“ and I can see where these people came from but I have no problem with how left-leaning the show is. In fact I think the show might have influenced me politically.
So If you’ve never seen The West Wing go watch it, keep two things in mind though:
- Yes, Bartlet would have been a great real president.
- Yes, the show is „old“ but isn’t it embarrassing that we’re still trying to solve the same political issues?
So, what are you waiting for. Go watch it. I fully endorse The West Wing and while you’re at it, go watch Sorkin’s movies as well. Molly’s Game was fun and who doesn’t like A Few Good Men.
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. 🙂
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!
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.
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 nominees 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.
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.
Ok, that took longer than expected but I think I needed the time. I just needed to relax and take some time off from this endeavor. It’s not that I was fed up with it, I just needed time to gather my thoughts and get a few things out of my system.
I don’t have an exact plan yet, I have no idea when and what I’m going to write but I can feel that there’s something burning underneath all my other thoughts. Unfortunately I don’t have specifics yet but I’m pretty sure that by easter I have something to show.
Maybe I’ll have a look at some of my older projects, but to be honest I really want to do something new or at least something older in a totally new way. But who knows, maybe an old project suddenly requires some more or additional work, you never know and I’m also toying with the idea of giving the Blacklist another shot.
The new version of Saber Rider and Skyscraper are different enough to try again ans see whether or not we can get some momentum. See what I did there? 🙂
There’s nothing new to report now on the Skyscraper front. These things take time and the Spaniards are not the fastest when it comes to reading your script and writing back. We also handed in the script to a competition and to some production companies. Hopefully something interesting will develop there. I’ll let you know if something cool or interesting happens.
That’s it for today. I promise to return to regular programming soon. Stay tuned. 2018 is going to be exciting, seriously, I have a feeling about this one.
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. 🙁
After last weeks big news, 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 convoluted 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.
It’s a me, Mario!