The Write Brother

A Blog Dedicated To My Pursuit of Screenwriting Success

Sunday, February 19, 2006

First Film Job Interview

I’ve ramped up the job search the past month or so and even signed up at a few temp places.  Money is low and I need to get back out there, so I figured I’d try the temp route and see where that led me.  After not being able to get arrested for months I finally landed a few of interviews.  The first one was set up through Friedman Agency for an assistant job with a production company.  I was pretty excited about it since I’d never interviewed for an industry job and also because the company seemed pretty cool.  The interview went OK but it was probably the shortest interview I’ve had in my life.  I think they pretty much had an assembly line of candidates for the day because my interview was mad short and when I left the next guy was already waiting.  Seriously they must have had dude scheduled for 2:15 and mine was at 2:00.  I was only in there like 12 minutes so he couldn’t have been 20 minutes early for a 2:30.

I also went on an interview at CAA, but it was in their Marketing department.  The job sucked, although at least it gave me some practice on my interviewing skills.

In addition to those I also landed three interviews on my own, but they weren’t industry related.  I didn’t get two of the jobs, but I’m in the running for the other.  I actually got a callback from Saatchi & Saatchi, but I really didn’t want the job so I didn’t set up an interview.  I could already see myself hating the job before I even stepped into the door for my first day.

As for the temp agencies, I sent my resume to 5-10 spots and I’ve interviewed at three of them.  I seriously can’t fathom taking another typing test or having to go through those damn Excel, Word, and PowerPoint exams either.  I haven’t used PowerPoint since I was at SC but I scored pretty well.  I scored in the 90’s for Excel and honestly I suck at Excel.  They really need to revamp those tests because I really shouldn’t have scored as high has I did.  If anyone asks me to set up macros or mail merge they’re going to be in for a rude awakening, regardless of what my scores say.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to on the job tip.  As for writing, I’m churning out pages pretty rapidly. I’m working on an Entourage spec, a drama pilot, and my feature would be best classified as a thriller.  I’ve definitely been a lot more productive in 2006 and I think for once the whole resolution thing is actually working.  It’s as if Napolean Hill is whispering in my ear at night or something.  I’ll be back soon with better posts (hopefully).

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Family Guy

Here are some clips from Family Guy that a friend and I always seem to reference. We both repeat these lines whenever we're talking shit to eachother about scripts. It's really played out since we've done it for months, but I still like watching the actual clips so here they are for any proscrastinating writers out there.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Meme

It looks like I've been tagged by ScriptWeaver, The American Knight, writergurl, Matt from The Daily Pitch and Shawn.

I wasn’t really hip to this old meme thing, probably because I’m wholeheartedly an anti e-mail forward guy. I actually had to confront an excessive forwarder at my old gig since no one else had the balls to. It was like telling someone they have BO or bad breath ; it’s an uncomfortable conversation for both people but everyone benefits from it. I won’t tag anyone else, but here are my answers…..

ONE (1) earliest film-related memory:
That would definitely be going to see E.T. with my Aunt Patrice when I was 5 or so. I don’t necessarily remember it because I loved E.T. , but because the kid next to me cried like a baby. I guess E.T. heading back home to his alien family really touched that kid. I always wonder if that same kid, now an adult, still cries when he watches that scene on DVD. That’d be pretty disturbing.

Weird related fact: My aunt ended up naming her first-born son Elliot. He’s now a 19 year-old knucklehead who likes to show up in LA from Arizona unannounced and crash on my couch.

TWO (2) favorite lines from movies:
I don’t really have favorite lines but here are a couple I like…

“So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it.”
Peter Gibbons - Office Space

“Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need”
Tyler Durden – Fight Club

THREE (3) jobs you’d do if you could not work in the “biz”:
Social Activist
Music Producer
High School Football Coach/Teacher

FOUR (4) jobs you actually have held outside the industry:
Music Marketing Guy (4 years)
Hemp Clothing Salesman (3 weeks)
Sales Assistant at a Screw Company (2 days – what the fuck was I thinking?)
Supervisor for USC Student Fundraising Phone Program (Soph. and Jr. year)

THREE (3) book authors I like:
Iceberg Slim
Richard Wright
Frantz Fanon

TWO (2) movies you’d like to remake or properties you’d like to adapt:
I have no desire to adapt anything and I’m not a fan of remakes. A couple of remakes I think might not completely suck if the right person penned them would be Logan’s Run and Double Indemnity. I just came up with those off the top of my head so I may read this later and think otherwise.

ONE (1) screenwriter you think is underrated:
I’ll go with Alex Tse, who hasn’t a theatrical release yet but will soon, since I know him and the food at his wedding was really good. He’s also pretty slick with the quill.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

American Pie: Band Camp

Have you ever watched a movie knowing full well that it's probably going to an abomination, and yet it turns out worse than you could possibly imagine? This is that movie. My friend downloaded this after I told him how wack it was and instant messaged me with the following:

"Dude you were right about this American Pie flick. I'm calling sbc and asking them to credit my account for the wasted bandwidth"

You know a movie is bad when an illegal downloader wants a bandwidth refund. Hopefully some sucker on eBay will buy it.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Writebrother's Christmas Day Post- My 2006 Goals

Most people that write out New Year resolutions are full of shit. I think the main problem with people is that they think too long term, and when you do that it’s easy to fall off course. If you resolve to lose 10 pounds in 2006, you really don’t have to face the music until December when you realize that you’ve sat on your ass for 11 months and you’re going to have to down to the nearest gym to work a miracle. I think that when you set log term goals, it’s best to break them up into short-term goals so that you can keep yourself on track. Here are a few of my goals for 2006…

1. Write 4 feature specs:

Spec #1 by 3/31/06

Spec #2 by 6/30/06

Spec #3 by 9/30/06

Spec #4 by 12/31/06

So by the end of 2006 I plan to have written 5 feature specs. Not too shabby for my first 16 months.

2. Stay under 185lbs.

A lot of writers are entirely out of shape and I don’t plan on being one of them. I workout regularly, but when I don’t I tend to eat more and the pounds creep up on me. Fortunately even when I gain weight I don’t really look all that out of shape. I just end up looking more like a safety than a cornerback. Gotta stay at the cornerback size. I can pretty much make anything in life relate to football if you haven’t noticed.

3. Join a writer’s group after I get my 2nd spec of the year completed.

I figure I‘ll be a little more open about my writing by then. Not that I’m shy about it now, but I know my 3rd screenplay will be a vast improvement from my first.

4. Get an industry job.

It’s hard, but hopefully I can get one soon.

5. Get back to reading at least a book or two a month.

The past few months I haven’t read a damn thing, so I need to get back into the habit of reading. I’ve been too lazy to go pay my fine at the library, so I haven’t been able to reserve any books to pickup.

Friday, December 16, 2005

To All You Movie Downloaders

The studios aren't the only ones you're hurting

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Writing To Win

I remember back in high school during halftime of a football game our coach was up to his usual. If you’ve ever played high school football, which I doubt a lot of screenwriters have, you’ve sat through a ton of halftime speeches. These speeches usual consist of a loud coach telling players to get their heads out of their asses, to go out there and hit somebody, and to go balls out. Now if your team is a successful one the speeches will be drastically different, but we sucked that particular year so that’s how the speeches we got usually went.

During this particular game we were winning by two touchdowns to a team we should have been beating anyway, but the way our coach was talking I could tell he was scared of losing. He had us playing not to lose, instead of having us plan to win. We went out and got our asses kicked in the second half because the other team made adjustments and all our coach had us doing was sticking to the script and trying to hold onto a lead. Big difference, and in my writing I realized I was doing the same thing. I was writing to not lose, instead of being confident in my abilities and seeing things through without hesitation.

I read before somewhere that “writing is rewriting”, and that is most definitely the truth. My problem was that I kept rewriting while I was writing my first draft. It was as if I was scared of actually finishing, although I really wasn’t. I was just scared of actually sticking to what I had planned to do. I kept coming up with alternatives to how to end my story and it was screwing me up. Once I realized this, I also realized my indecisiveness was spilling over into the other things I was writing. That’s not even my style, so I had to check myself and get back on track.

The past few weeks I’ve shed my insecurities and the indecisiveness that was hindering me, and returned to form. Now I’m writing to win, and I realize I must believe in myself before I can expect anyone else to. I’m back to my normal output of at least 5 pages a day and by the end of the year I should have my 2nd draft polished and at least one, if not two, of my TV specs knocked out. Writers write, and you’ve got to be able to realize what your weaknesses are and confront them head on. You can’t run around talking about how you’re a writer and not back it up.

Spec Advice

If you want some spec advice from a seasoned vet, check out a new blog from Ken Levine (Cheers, Everybody Loves Raymond, The Simpsons).

I'm off to polish up my Rodney and Reba specs.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The Rebound Guy

I had jotted this down on my ever growing spec idea list about 2 months ago. I'm sure it happens to tons of people all the time, but at least this gives me an indication that I can come up with some commercially viable ideas. Gotta work harder and get these things written.

Title: Rebound Guy
Log Line: A carousing bachelor, who only dates girls on the rebound, is secure in the knowledge that they never want a serious relationship after a long commitment. When he falls in love with a girl on the rebound, he inserts a "rebound guy" in front of him and positions himself as the real guy.
Writer: Jennifer Robinson and Dyanne Stempel
Agent: United Talent Agency
Buyer: Twentieth Century Fox
Price: n/a
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Logged: 12/5/05
More: Pitch. Seed Productions' Hugh Jackman & John Palermo will produce. Hugh Jackman will star.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Ex girl to the Next Girl

Today I kicked it with a friend of mine and we ended up going to grab something to eat after getting completed stoned out of our minds. This particular friend is a guy I met at some kind of party and he decided that he wanted to be my friend. Normally I would have blown off someone like him because in general I’m a little weary of people seeking out friends. I’m the type of person that has a handful of true friends and everyone else I kind of see as outsiders and potential witnesses for the prosecution. I know that’s not a healthy outlook to have, but I’m working on it.

Anyway, “Dave” called me up and asked me if I wanted to come over and watch some football. My Broncos were playing so I said fuck it and headed over to his spot near Melrose. Now me and Dave usually end up hanging out and smoking weed. In fact we pretty much smoke weed every time we hang out. Now we’re not on some stoner type of shit where we smoke weed and sit around giggling at Family Guy DVDs. When we smoke weed we tend to get into seriously deep discussions and end up bringing up things that are way deeper than our level of friendship should dictate. He probably knows more about me than most of my so-called best friends. He likes weed, football, soul music, and movies so we’ll always have some shit to talk about. Plus he’s the only person I know that knows more about weed than I do, so he's sort of my Mr. Miyagi (R.I.P Pat Morita) when it comes to the reefer.

Now I’m not sure why I even mentioned all of that, but let’s get to the main story. After we got stoned we decided to go to Antonio’s, a Mexican spot on Melrose that I usually end up eating entirely too much food at. Dave was treating, so I took it upon myself to order as much as I liked. He’s done the same to me, so don’t think I’m some kind of asshole. Anyways, as I was devouring the complimentary chips and salsa I noticed a beautiful woman and her equally beautiful friend walk in and sit down at a booth across from us. Now remember I’m completely stoned, so when I tell my friend Dave I used to go out with the tall one he thinks I’m bullshitting him. He literally laughs at me and tells me that I’m making shit up. I’m horrified because this is one of only 3 girls that have ever broken up with me and when I see her I immediately revert to being the insecure 23 year old I was when I was with her. She’s a model, completely fine, and I still don’t know how I was even able to get her. I knew she would eventually leave me while I was with her, but I rode it out and for about 4 months we were a couple of lovebirds. Then she dropped me for some rich guy and apparently ended up marrying him. Our last conversation involved us cursing each other out, which I definitely regret. How the fuck did I get emotional over this girl? I was a serious dumbass.

So I’m sitting in my booth with a fitted USC hat (haha Bruins, 66-19) sunk low over my forehead, sans glasses, hoping that she doesn’t notice me. Dave is still insisting that I’m bullshitting so I decide to take off the hat and put on my glasses just because as man I had to prove to Dave I did in fact go out with the hot model across the room. We end up making eye contact and she has the audacity to come over to my table. I feel like such a little bitch because I have no idea what I should even say to her. “Hey, I’m unemployed right now and I’ve decided I want to be a writer. Aren’t you sad you left me?”. Fuck, I could make up some shit and hope Dave doesn’t bust up laughing as I lie, but he’s a loose cannon so I decide to just tell the truth. Surprisingly she tells me “That’s a good move for you. You always used to make me laugh with your little stories. I always thought you should write instead of doing music”. Now at first she offended me with her “little stories” remark because it reminded me of how she could turn any remark into something condescending that infuriates me. I detest her, yet she’s so fine that even when she’s being that way I still find her stunning.

But I soon realized that what she said was actually a compliment, regardless of how condescending I found it. She did used to laugh at all my stories and sit content listening as I told her inane stories about my life as a slacker, not by choice, at an Internet start-up that was quickly going under. She did used to sit listening to me as I mused about which Tribe album was the best, why I preferred Dr. Dre’s earlier work from the late 80’s-early 90’s, and why I regretted not going to play football at a JC and hopefully transferring to a 4 year on scholarship instead of giving up after my sub-par performance as a senior in high school and just going to USC as a regular loan ridden student. Maybe she wasn’t so bad after all.

But then I remembered how superficial she was. How she used to bug me to keep my leased 3 series BMW washed all the time so she wouldn’t be driving around with some guy in a dirty car. How she used to doze off anytime I spoke about politics or anything remotely related to world events. How she used to spend hours hating on other models that she was in competition with, then act like they were best friends whenever she ran into them. God, why was I with this woman?

But after I spoke to her I realized that I wasn’t that guy anymore. It was only 5 years ago, but I’m a completely different person now. I see the world differently, I’m more secure with myself, and I don’t fall for girls because they have a nice butt and a smile. The old me would have agonized over running into her and not being some big timer that could rub his success in her face. The new me dwelled on the fact that she thought that I was making a good move in starting to write. It made my day in a weird way, but in no way did I wish I was with her instead of my girlfriend of almost 4 years that puts up with my pie in the sky dreams and supports me regardless.

After I got home I sat down and hammered out 5 pages of my new feature spec with vigor. I like the new me a lot better than the old me. My cool quotient definitely increased in Dave's eyes though, so I should be able to get him to pay for the weed and quesadillas a little more now. Meanwhile I sit at home spoiling my Daschund/Rottweiler with jerky treats and belly rubs and missing my girlfriend who's out of town in Vegas on location. I'm such a player now.

Friday, December 02, 2005

So You're a Screenwriter?

In this soul sucking town called Los Angeles you’ll run across a wide spectrum of people. You’ve got your screenwriters, hipsters, actors, film execs, music industry folks, artists, gangsters, etc etc. I’ve noticed that screenwriters in particular seem to come in a wide variety of different flavors. Here’s a breakdown of a few of the different types that I’ve run across. You might fit into one or more of these categories yourself.

The Wannabee
This is where most of us fit in. Technically you’re a wannabee until you sell something, and in this town most people will never sell anything. The truth is painful, but it is what it is. I think what separates the wannabees that will someday make it and the wannabees that will forever be chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is ambition, persistence, and strategy. Sometimes you meet a wannabee and you can tell from the jump that they’ll never make it. Then you meet others and it’s the exact opposite. Hopefully you fall into the latter category.

The One Screenplay Guy

This is the guy that has one screenplay that he’s been revising for like 5-10 years. Their script is so old that the futuristic, sci-fi piece they started in 1995 is now modern. I don’t think it’s wise to have a 10th revision of a screenplay. If it isn’t ready by then you should probably wrap it up and move on.

The Turtle
These are the people that take months and months to write one screenplay. I’m of the belief that if you’ve planned things ahead of time and really have your story laid out, your first draft should not take up more than 3 months of your time.

The Biter
These are the people that completely jack movies that have already been successful and think that no one will notice. We know that Hollywood is a town of dick riders and followers, but some people take it too far. I’ve read bites of everything from Van Wilder to Pulp Fiction. Yes there are some people still biting Pulp Fiction in 2005.

The Snob
This is the guy that writes screenplays with absolutely no commercial sensibility at all, yet complains that he can’t catch a break. Many people don’t realize that this is Hollywood. As smart as you may be, screenwriting is probably not the best route for you if your stories don’t resonate with the masses, or even the Sunset 5 type of crowd. It seems there are a lot of novelists masquerading as screenwriters. Play your position and realize the game you’re playing.

The Hot Chick
I met this woman my girlfriend knows that is getting paid like a motherfucker. She’s an ok writer, but apparently she is going around tossing out pitches like she’s Roger Clemens and everyone is biting. Being attractive helps in this town, so if you’re a hot blonde with a little bit of talent you can make some noise.

The Weekend Warrior
This is the person who has a steady and fairly successful career, but hopes that screenwriting can be their ticket out of the banal lives they lead in corporate America. The problem with many weekend warriors is that they never really devote substantial time to writing and with the safety net their lives provide them they’ll never really risk anything to truly make it. They have too much to lose, and in a town where tons of people are putting it all on the line to make it you can’t play it safe.

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Man Next To The Man

I haven’t mentioned this before but I’m involved in an animation project that is being pitched to a few high profile music artists. You may ask how I even got involved in something like this seeing as how I’m a rookie writer without a track record. It’s who you know and how much of a hustler you can be. I was able to get into the mix and after it was all said and done a huge chunk of the project has my fingerprints all over it. Here’s how it all went down.

My friend is a former head of development at an indie production company and he’s gone into business with my girlfriend who used to work with him a few years back. He got linked up with a lawyer friend of ours who used to work at one of the studios and who represents some animators. They got the idea to pitch an animation project because they met with the manager of a high profile figure in the music biz who was looking to develop something in the animation arena. My girlfriend was kicking around ideas for the project and she had asked for my opinion a few times and liked my take on it. Eventually I just wrote out a treatment of sorts and after we put our heads together she sent it to the other folks. They dug it and the bulk of what I came up with ended up forming the backbone of the project. After some tweaking we had everything put together and the animators sketched the main characters. It was a trip actually seeing the characters I helped develop come to life like that.

The project was finally submitted to the music industry guy’s manager, but in short these guys were bullshitting and taking forever to get back to us. If someone’s taking forever to get back with you they either aren’t really that motivated, or they don’t like your shit. Either way we had to keep it moving and we’re going to try and pitch it to someone else. The artists aren’t too similar and are from different areas of the country, but fortunately both artists have similar outside business interests/ties and things can be easily tweaked to where it will appeal to the second person we’re going to try and pitch it to just as much.

I used to work at the company where our Plan B is signed. I actually dealt with his right hand guy a few times so I’m going to try and get a hold of him and get a meeting. Now we could try to go through traditional channels and try and get it to him through his TV/Film reps but if we can skip all of that it makes much more sense. Now hopefully I can actually touch base with Plan B’s right hand and get a step closer to making something happen. I actually think Plan B is a better fit for the project anyway and he’s had more TV experience as well.

I’m a little nervous, but I don’t have anything to lose. You’ve got to have balls in this town and you can’t get anywhere without putting yourself out there. Also, you’ve always have to make sure to get your fair share of the credit. If I hadn’t I would have been getting a cut of my girlfriend's cut, but now I’ve got the opportunity to get a producer’s credit. We'll see how it goes.

Monday, November 21, 2005

I've Got an Idea for a Movie

I write down things. In fact I write down tons of things. If I hear someone say something funny, I tend to put it in the memory bank and write it down as soon as possible. I carry around a notepad and jot things down that I find ironic, interesting, or even mildly amusing. I do this because I must have read it in some screenwriting book and found it to be worthwhile. Of course sometimes I look like some old school cub reporter on the beat, but who cares what I look like if I’m writing down a hot idea.

Everyone has ideas that they think would make a great movie. We all know that most of these ideas suck, but if you have 50 ideas one of them will probably be decent. I tend to come up with at least one movie idea a week, and I keep a log of them all. I’m going through a 2nd draft on my first screenplay, but I won’t have a problem with coming up with my next spec idea for at least a few years because I have a solid list of stories I want to explore already.

A lot of times my girlfriend asks me for advice on projects she’s developing and I can come up with stories at the drop of a hat. I don’t think coming up with stories is very hard. Maybe I have a gift or maybe I’m just overly confident, but I can petty much spit out a movie idea like it’s nothing. Last night my girlfriend asked me for advice about a script she has one of her clients working on. I spit out the first thing that came to my head and she ended up discussing it on a conference call with her partner an their client. They didn’t end up going with my concept, but they all thought it was a great idea and I’m sure my girlfriend took full credit. This has happened a few times.

Now if I do in fact have a knack for story all I need to do is get my writing skills up to par and then it will smooth sailing. If I ever do then I won’t necessarily have to write all of the stories that come to my head. I could just move into producing and have other writers do the dirty work. To me that’s the smartest thing to do. I love to write, but Hollywood is a business and the production hustle is much more lucrative. But for now, I’ll concentrate on honing my writing skills and getting my foot in the door first. Is that weird to want to produce, yet not direct?

Friday, November 18, 2005

My Girlfriend, My Friend, and The Producer

Earlier this year my girlfriend told me that a producer she was working with was looking to branch out and start developing and shopping material on his own. This guy has done a lot of movies over the years, including one of my favorite comedies ever, in addition to most recently one of the bigger movies of the year so far. I told my girlfriend that my boy “Lance” had a screenplay and I hooked them up. She brought it in to the producer and he liked it, but had a few things he wanted to change.

Now that was in April or May I believe. Along the way the script has changed dramatically, but definitely for the better. The problem is that this process appears to be taking forever. You see the producer is never too quick to read, and in turn my boy has been taking forever to churn out drafts as well. He’s not getting paid for this, but my boy has no credits and this would be his big break. This particular script was optioned for like two or three grand by some company, and he passed up another option payment to work on it with said producer. Throughout this whole process I’ve pretty much stayed out of it because my girlfriend vents and tells me everything, but on the other hand it’s my boy she’s dealing with so I’m in a tough spot. I choose to not really discuss the project with him because I figure I should stay out of it since I know people on both sides of the table. It’s a really odd situation because while he’s not signed with my girlfriend, she’s given him advice on his career and he has introduced her to people as his manager. But she’s working with the producer, so it’s a bit of a conflict of interest to a certain extent although like I said, he isn’t signed.

Lance was hoping to have the script ready to go out for this past spec season, but the script was not ready. I think he was under the impression that it was, but I know he could do better and so did the producer and my girlfriend. If had been sent out, he would have shot himself in the foot with an AK-47. Since it didn’t go out, I think he soured on the situation a bit, and it appears to have affected his writing because it has taken him two months to do the latest draft. Personally I think he’s really fucking up, but I’m not really discussing the situation with him. I don’t want to get in the middle of it because that’s not my style and plus he’s a grown man and he’s doing his thing.

So now the script, if ready, will go out during the next spec season in a few months. Part of me fears that it won’t be ready and this whole thing is just going to fizzle out because of my boy’s slow writing and inability to effectively incorporate notes. This would be wack because not only will have Lance really dropped the ball on a huge opportunity, my girl will have also lost an opportunity to work with the producer, who may be weary of working with her in the future because of it. I mean this is Hollywood. A lot of times you only get one shot and if that first shot turns to shit your calls may unanswered the next time. I’m crossing my fingers and I hope this all straightens out. All I can do from this is learn what not to do when I’m in a similar situation in the future.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Is It Really Wrong To Download a Movie You Wouldn’t Pay To See In The Theater or Rent?

I’m not one to ever speak bad about downloading. In fact I think it’s just an inevitable part of the technological evolution of our society. It’s human nature to get something for nothing and there are people out there downloading movies like there’s no tomorrow. If a movie comes out on Friday, you can best believe that you can find a torrent of it on Saturday. The question is, who’s really hurt of you download a movie that you were not going to pay to see or rent anyway? For example, let’s say I don't have any Netflix out and I want to check out Duece Bigalow: European Gigolo because a friend of mine said it was horrible beyond belief. Now there’s little chance I’d ever hand over 10 bills to see this movie, or even waste precious real estate on my Netflix queue. But if I download it and watch it one of those days when there’s nothing on TV, my writing isn’t hitting, and all my Netflix are in transit then what’s the harm?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Support Black Cinema and Go See "Get Rich Or Die Tryin' "?

Last week my literary manager and aspiring producer girlfriend said something to the effect that we should go see Get Rich or Die Tryin' in order to help open more doors for Black movies to be made. She wasn’t completely serious, but she was to a certain extent. You see my girlfriend is the type of person that is always playing devil’s advocate. A lot of times I’ll have an opinion on something, but even if she agrees or sees my point of view she morphs into the captain of the debate team and a battle ensues. She doesn’t just play devil’s advocate, she embraces the role completely.

Now when she said that we should see Get Rich.., I knew where she was coming from. If it did well then all the studio drones will be looking for the next hot urban film. I think that’s bs though. If it were to do well it’s because it starred 50 Cent and he supposedly brings a built in fanbase. Hollywood isn’t particularly interested in Black films that aren’t comedies, and if the comedies don’t have one of a handful of bankable Black stars they aren’t interested in those either. Hustle and Flow opened earlier this year and Paramount tried to make it into something it wasn’t. It was a small indie pic that they tried to sell to the MTV audience as a mainstream flick. After that one came out and did shitty numbers, Black suddenly went back to being undesirable.

Needless to say I’m not rushing to buy a ticket or 50’s movie. My old job involved marketing his records and I’ve had enough of 50 Cent in my life. I was able to see the movie for free though, and I thought it was wack as hell. It’s slow, 50’s performance is stiff, and it’s a huge waste of 2 hours. I was baffled at how bad they screwed this movie up, and seeing as how it only did $12.5m in it’s opening weekend I wasn’t the only one who thought it was lame. How can you only do $12.5m with 50 Cent?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Lion's Gate Is Kicking Ass

Lion's Gate is blowing the fuck up. The cats over there are far into the black already with Saw II, which has grossed $36 million and some change in just 4 days. Apparently the production budget was only $4m, so you don't need a Wharton degree to figure out that things are looking good for them. I plan on checking out out Saw 2 in the next couple of days, and hopefully I'll dig it. I'm usually not into these types of flicks, but I thought the first one was great.

In addition to Saw 2, their other recent hits include Farenheit 911, Crash, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, and Saw. All of these brought in over $50m at the box office with production budgets not exceeding $6.5m. These numbers are sick, and of course when something indie is doing well that means the big dogs will definitely want to scoop them up and put them under the studio system. That of course will probably screw up the whole operation and soon they'll be spending $50m on movies and their formula will be shot to hell.

I actually just sent in my resume for a gig over there. That'd be a good spot to be at right about now.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

My Ammunition

Since deciding that I wanted to go to war with Hollywood, I knew that I would need proper ammunition. Everyone in this town has a screenplay, but it takes more than that to be successful. You’ve got to have a plan and figure out what people are looking for before you go of writing shit that isn’t going to further your career.

One of my industry friends is cool with an Asian writer that got a staff position on an NBC show. He was told that the networks definitely look or younger minority TV writers. A few of the things he suggested to have if you’re looking to start a career in TV are the following:

  • 1 original pilot
  • 2 specs – one of each in comedy and procedural/drama
  • 1 or 2 feature specs

In addition to that they look for is someone who is personable, attractive, hip, around 30 or at least acts/appears to be, and can work a room. Apparently this guy had to go through a series of interviews with a panel of people each time so you have to not only know how to work a room, but also be able to withstand the scrutiny of several meetings before being staffed. The process was likened to rushing a frat. I’m not sure what the line of questioning consisted of, but I’m sure it’s nothing too tough.

Now I pretty much have an outline for my original pilot, which I’ll dive into head on hopefully later this week after I finish my feature spec, but I need to decide on what my comedy spec(s) will be along with my drama/procedural.

Here are the top contenders in no particular order:

  • Entourage – I’m pretty certain this will be one of my picks. I already jotted down several story ideas for each character and I think I have some pretty potent ideas.
  • Family Guy – This one would be mad tough to do, but if I could write a decent one I’d be on my own jock. This might be the funniest shit on TV now.
  • Everybody Hates Chris -The best new sitcom this year and one I think I could kill.
  • The Office - One of my favorites and is completely my style of humor, but who knows if this will survive past this year. Perhaps not a safe or smart choice, but it might highlight my strengths the most.
  • My Name Is Earl – I’ve watched every episode and while it’s fairly funny, I don’t know if I like it enough to spec it. I think it’s actually overrated, but not in a Friends type of way to where it annoys me.
  • How I Met Your Mother – I downloaded the first episode a few weeks ago and this one is surprisingly solid. After 5 episodes or so I’m still into it, so that’s a good sign. I can get down with this one. Suit up!

  • Weeds – I don’t know if this would be a smart pick since I’m unsure as to it’s popularity around town. No one I know watches this, but I watched every episode and I think I can do something with it. They need to get a creative consultant on board though because a lot of the weed related dialogue/plot points were laughably unrealistic.

  • Law & Order : SVU – Procedurals aren’t my thing, but this is the one I enjoy the most and have actually watched more than a few times.

  • Veronica Mars – I’m starting to get into this one a lot more than I expected. I have a pretty firm grasp of the characters, although it seems like Veronica has changed a bit this year. She’s got a bit more spark to her than last year. Did I just use the word spark?

  • The OC – I didn’t mess with this show until this summer when I peeped it on DVD. That shit was like heroin, and I got that monkey on my back. I downloaded all of season 2 until I got caught up, and watched it over the span of like a week. This one has jumped the shark, but I could take a stab at it. I’d have to resist the urge to bring Caleb back from the dead on some ol’ soap opera type shit. He was my favorite character besides Oliver.

  • King of Queens – This show is probably done soon so I don’t know if it’d b a great move to spec it. It’s one of my favorites though.

  • Bernie Mac – See above. I haven’t been into as much the past year though, but I think I could nail the voice of the show.

Now you may be asking why Lost, Desperate Housewives, House, Rescue Me, or any other of the popular shows to spec aren't on the list. The answer is I probably don’t watch it or I don’t think I can write for it. Sometimes you’ve got to play your position and if something doesn’t fit your style there’s no need in trying to force it.

What I’m Listening To: DangerDoom

Feel free to leave comments, even if you don't really have shit to say. I’m always interested in finding out who comes across this blog, and since I haven’t told any friends about it I can’t have them post comments to make me look popular and stuff. Write on…..

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Life's A Bitch

Daaaaaaaaaaaaaamn. Looks like my power move into an Associate Producer position got derailed due to a minor technicality called lack of experience. The producer that was co-signing for me brought my resume in to the Exec. Producer but was told she couldn’t put me on because I don’t have any TV experience. I guess 28 years of actually watching TV doesn’t count. I wish I could call Jesse and hold a press conference to pull the race card.

So anyway, it looks like I can still get a gig on the show with the hopes of getting promoted to the Associate Producer position, but I’d be starting a little lower on the food chain. The producer who’s bringing me in got promoted from AP after only 6 months on the job, so that’s a sign that I can get in and make some noise quick. Plus she'll be looking out for me so that will help my cause as well. Initially upon hearing that I couldn’t get the AP position I was going to just say fuck it and move on, but something hit me. I had a Costanza type moment, where I realized that maybe I should just go with the opposite of what my natural instincts tell me. I consulted with the girlfriend and she said that she thought I should just go for it and work my ass off and see where it takes me. Working my ass off at the bottom, hmmmm never really had to do that. I almost got out of doing it this time to, but my streak of getting by with my slick talk and educated Negro steez might have to come to an end. I may have to be the coffee and donut retriever. The lunch order taker. The gluteus maximus kisser. Fuck it, I’ll do it.

Now taking this job pretty much means that my broke lifestyle will have to continue on for another year or so (hopefully less). That means making some sacrifices. We’re talking drinking Ralph’s brand OJ instead of the Trader Joe's organic shit. That means going from borderline stoner to occasional toker. And yes, how much weed I’ll be able to smoke did pop into my head instantly upon learning that the salary I was expecting got slashed. Is that lame? Perhaps, but it’s the truth. Hopefully I’ll be able to meet with the other Producer this week and confirm if I can even get the chump job. Can’t count my eggs before they hatch.

That’s all for now. My next post will be about what shows I’m going to spec.

What I’m Listening To Now: Sean Paul – The Trinity

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Associate Producer - The Interview

Today I had the meeting I posted about yesterday. It went extremely well and it looks like I’m going to be pushed through for a second interview with one of the higher ups, hopefully later in the week.

Looking back, I can honestly say that I’m pretty damn good in interviews. This one in particular was great because the producer was very real and candid with me. Even though I met at her house, it didn’t feel awkward at all. The best part about the interview is that I got some more insight into the job and what it entails. It’s much more substantial than I was led to believe, so if I do get this job it will be a huge leap into the TV game considering I have zero experience. This particular producer got promoted after only six months and she’s down for her shit. She’s the type of person you want to ride with because she let it be known what her goals are and that she was going to achieve them. Make no mistake, my main goal is to succeed in the writing game, but if I can get some experience as TV producer that’s a hell of a back-up plan.

So while I spend the week waiting by the phone for some notification on my second interview I’ll also be finishing up my first screenplay. It’s going to be a pretty exciting accomplishment for me considering that I never expected to be going down this road. I’m at such a changing point in my life that it feels like I’m trading in my life for something completely different. I hope I get this damn job……

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Associate Producer

It looks like I may have a chance at an industry gig. It's an Associate Producer position on a fairly long running "reality " TV show. The title is much more glamorous sounding than the actual position, since I believe it'll basically be a high paid PA type of situation. That's cool with me though because I need a gig, and it's a foot in the door to the TV industry. I'll have to completely change my work personality in order to do the job since at my old music industry gig
I was able to do what I wanted a lot of the time and I didn't really have to kiss anyone's ass. I can make the change, and I'm honestly pretty excited at the prospect of getting the gig. If I do get it I will have made the switch from music industry guy to aspiring screenwriter/Associate Producer on a TV show guy in the span of a year. You never know what life has in store. Wish me luck.

Update: It looks like tomorrow I'll be meeting with one of the producers I'd be working under. I have a good feeling about all this.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Don't Call It a Comeback

Here's a great article from Filmmaker Magazine written by Richard Shepard, Writer/Director of the upcoming flick The Matador. In this article he breaks down his career and includes the ups and of course all the downs. This guy went from having a nice little buzz in the early 90's to falling off and having all interest in his work die out. Its a great story illustrating how perserverance and sticking to your art can really pay off in the end. His new movie is supposed to be pretty decent so I'll definitely be checking it out.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

You're F@#ked in Hollywood if You're a Minority

This past Saturday I went to workshop presented by the WGA entitled "The Write Influence: Valuing Diversity". I wasn't expecting much, but I walked away from the experience motivated and more focused than I was before.

My favorite speaker at the event was Larry Wilmore, a writer/producer who’s worked on such hit shows as In Living Color, The Bernie Mac Show, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and most recently The Office. The most candid topic he spoke about was Chris Rock’s show Everybody Hates Chris. He openly questioned why such a huge star as Chris Rock couldn’t even get his show onto CBS, but instead was relegated to UPN. Let’s be real, UPN is the ghetto of TV. I know some white folks that never watch the network and if they do they just recently started because of America's Top Model and Veronica Mars. This is the same network that aired Homeboys from Outer Space and that show about the slave butler of Abe Lincoln. Now what does it say about the prospects for Black shows when Chris Rock can’t even get sit at the grown up table? I won’t be surprised if CBS snatches the show from UPN next year.

Here are a statistics regarding writers in Hollywood for you to chew on:

· Television employment of women: 27%

· Television employment of all minorities combined: 10%

· Film employment of women: 18%

· Film employment of all minority groups combined: 6%

To make a long story short, your prospects for success in Hollywood if you’re a minority, a woman, or both are pretty fucked. But if you’re a minority you’ve been dealing with that situation your whole life. You just have to look past it, work your ass off to get in, and try to change things from the inside. That’s my plan, and I’m sticking to it

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Winning the Lottery

The likelihood of someone selling a screenplay has been compared to winning the lottery.
In Los Angeles though, the odds are a little bit better and I met two winners a few night ago.

On Tuesday I went to Cinespace for a screening of a short film my girlfriend produced. Cinespace is a spot in Hollywood that is a combination screening room/restaurant/bar/etc. etc.. If you’re under aged it’s the spot to hit up because you can get in without showing ID by just nodding at them whenever they ask if you’re there for whatever event is happening that night. That doesn’t really help me out now, but whatever.

Anyway it turned out to be a solid night even though I wasn’t really in the mood to go to begin with. I’d seen the short about 100 times already in about 50 different cuts, and on top of that I just didn’t really feel like being social. I had to go so I mustered up the energy and decided to make it work.

The turnout was pretty solid although it was filled with a lot of USC film school kids. I ran into this writer I know through one of my friends that’s an exec at a production company. I’m usually horrible with names when it comes to meeting Hollywood types, but I can’t be that way anymore. This time though he came up to my girlfriend and I and I actually remembered his name so I didn’t have to bust out with the tried and true “hey man”, or “what’s up dude” that must be utilized when I forget someone’s name.

It turns out that this guy is doing pretty well for himself. One of his screenplays just got optioned and another one is being packaged with some heavy hitters. He was very modest about it though and might not have even brought it up if we hadn’t asked him about his writing. He and I pretty much talked most of the night and he introduced me to another one of his friends. This dude had a screenplay that was bought by one of the Disney companies and we basically just talked about random shit, which always seemed to connect back to movies. Now at first I was a little intimidated, but after awhile I realized that I could hang in discussion with film nerds. I often forget that my cinema knowledge is actually pretty impressive and whenever they referenced something I had seen it and could chime in with something. It was also the first time I had mentioned that I was doing the writing thing to anyone other than my girlfriend so that was weird. I always fear coming off like a poser, but it didn’t feel that way at all. I think I needed to get over that hurdle and from now on it won’t be a problem. He and I made plans to visit the set of a big movie my girlfriend is working on. I won’t mention what it is, but it’s last installment sucked and people will be surprised another one is being made.

The rest of the night was cool too. Red Stripe was handing out free beers, and since I’m a huge Red Stripe fan I took full advantage. I also snagged two free Zippo lighters that Marlboro was handing out. I love free shit and these can possible be used as gifts if needed. So I got about 4 free beers, 2 free Zippos, I found street parking and avoided being raped by the valet, and had a cool conversation with a couple of writers. Not a bad night.

Monday, October 03, 2005

A Job Aint Nuthin’ But Work

I remember back when I was a youngster, the teachers used to ask you what you wanted to be when you grew up. I was one of those kids that wanted to be a superstar athlete. Yeah, very original. As I grew older I also wanted to be a writer, but by then I was old enough to realize that that may not be the most practical of paths to take. So with that in mind I decided I’d be a businessman of some sorts, and I made a trek out to USC with that as my supposed goal.

10 years later I’ve realized that I really didn’t want to be a suit. But now I’m stuck with a Business degree from USC and very little desire to be that guy. I should have stuck with that writing goal, but instead I held on to some lame desire to be the some kind of bootleg Donald Trump or Russell Simmons. I think I can still do my thing in that arena, but I need to actually create something original in my life. If I spend all my life hawking someone else’s dreams and creations I’ll be like a hack of human. The dream of being a screenwriter or some kind of mover and shaker in Hollywood is so cliché, but life is a fuckin’ cliché in itself so I don’t care anymore. I can’t see myself toiling away at some square job, sitting through performance reviews for the rest of my life. I’m 28 now and while I’m not an old geezer, I’m not exactly a young buck anymore. I’m pushing 30, and while that used to scare the shit out of me, I’m mad comfortable with it now.

For the past year I’ve been out of work, and it has been the most liberating year of my life. Sure I’m financially fucked, but I may never have this opportunity again in my life. I don’t have any kids, a mortgage, or a car payment. Some would say I’m leading an immature lifestyle, but I don’t envy the squares out there climbing the corporate ladder and I’m completely comfortable in my own skin.

So now that I’ve decided to revisit my aspirations for a writing career I’m moving ahead with vigor. All my life I’ve always been pretty good at a lot of things, but I can honestly say I’ve never gone all out to achieve a particular goal until now. I’m 70 pages into my first screenplay and it’s much more decent than I expected. My girlfriend is a literary manager and I had her read through what I have so far. I’m lucky in that I basically get free coverage, and since she’s probably going to be the woman I end up marrying I won’t have to pay her when I finally sell something. Gotta love it.

In the future I’ll be using this blog to document my progress, talk shit, and post anything I find worthy of reading. Check ya later.