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 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 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

AwAFKPqy

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.

Progress Report 36 – Still Polishing

Auto polishing for red car

Still polishing.

I’m sorry for being late again, hopefully it’s no going to become the new normal. It’s just really busy at the moment and by busy I actually mean really slow and I realised that I work a lot better with a reasonable amount of “stress”, not real stress though, just the feeling of being busy, in a way that was what #ProjectMomentum was (and is) all about, keep yourself busy writing. I hope to be able to “increase” the momentum from now on and increase my output.

I’m still polishing “Skyscraper” but I’m not as productive as I could and should be but lets do the numbers:

One book/screenplay: Almost done with The brief and wondrous life of Oscar Wao. It’s an interesting book and it really surprised me, I thought it was about popular culture but its more Latin American dictators. Next up: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman.
Two movies: Week whatever of sleepless movie watching, stay updated on letterboxd. This week I rewatched the entire Mighty Ducks1 series and a bunch of other movies.
Seven pages: Still polishing Skyscraper.
Seven hours: Waiting on some Windwheel stuff to get feedback on.

After last weeks short post I feel the urge to write about something but I have no idea about what. My head is full of thoughts and ideas but most of them are not suitable for a blog that is mainly about screenwriting. I know I’ve stretched that definition in the past but by not suitable I mean too embarrassing. 🙂

So instead of a rant or something I’ll leave you with a nice video. John Oliver is back and he deserves your attention.

  1. The movies aren’t that good but they hold up, they are decent childrens sports movies. The bigger problem though, why the hell can’t I sleep?

Progress Report 35 – Untitled

Restaurant review river north untitled logo

If you can’t think of a title.

I’m a few days late, sorry about that but I was quite busy before I enjoyed a few das off from work and work related things. I also spent some considerable time working and Skyscraper and Windwheel but let’s look at the numbers:

One book/screenplay: The brief and wondrous life of Oscar Wao is off to a great start, I’m really enjoying it. I hope to be done in the next couple of days.
Two movies: No change in my sleep pattern and you can still follow my adventures in sleepless movie watching on letterboxd. Two movies I want to mention though, I did a submarine double feature, Hunt for Red October and Crimson Tide, I have to write a submarine movie at some point.
Seven pages: Developing and correcting took some time this week. The deadline was extended so I’m rewriting Skyscraper, rewriting is a big word, let’s call it extensive polishing.
Seven hours: Windwheel is coming together quite well, we have a good grasp on the story and the world and the characters feel very much alive. There are lots of details and lots of decisions to make but I have a good feeling about this.

I don’t have time to say more today. It’s Election Day here, I have to pay attention to that.