What Makes You Fun, Joel?
First of all, about the name... If you were to ask me the above question, I'd have to say it isn't a matter of what makes me fun -- I just am. What you'd probably be asking, really, is how my fun-ness (yes I know it ain't a word, but neither is ain't) manifests itself. Well, I'm a friendly, nice guy, who loves to entertain, make sure everyone else is having a good time, and generally make people happy and comfortable. The nickname actually was given to me by my good friend Edina (Funky Edina to me), and the name kind of just stuck. Eventually, I adopted it as a working moniker. If you ever meet me, I hope you'll find it appropriate!
Still, this little diversionary discussion is more than just that. It also helps explain how and why I ended up in the screen trade. I write movies because it is a way that I can entertain people and make them happy. While I have nothing against artsy movies, or those that might even be depressing, those are not the types of films that I write. I have a mainstream sensibility, and particularly focus on comedy, though not exclusively.
Now, why have I started this blog? Well, everybody else was doing it so I figured I better hop on the bandwagon quickly! No, actually, I held off starting one for quite a while. While I enjoy reading personal blogs -- and many of them do not fall into this upcoming categorization -- I felt that if I were to write a general personal blog I would feel overly self-indulgent. And that's not really my style. However, it is my sincere hope that this blog might be enlightening to beginning or developing screenwriters. I am first now getting to the point in my career that I'm really trying to establish myself as a professional screenwriter, and I'm hoping that by blogging about the ups and downs that I experience along the way, this might serve as some kind of guide for those who follow.
Let me also toss out a bit of my background (sorry if it reads a bit like a resume), so you have an idea of where I'm coming from as I ramble through this blog. First off, as I write this, I've been working professionally in the film business for almost 11 years. I began working crew positions on various features and other productions, and simultaneously attended The New School in NYC where I received an MA in Media Studies and a Certificate in Film Production. Over five years ago, I began working as a freelance Script Reader. Companies I've read for include New Line Cinema, Walden Media, William Morris Agency, Tribeca Productions (DeNiro), The Shooting Gallery, Mandeville Films, Constantin Film, and the Nantucket Film Festival, among others. Since then, I've also begun consulting privately with developing screenwriter clients, and feel free to email me (funjoel [at] earthlink [dot] net) for a copy of my rates and services. Finally, I write regularly for scr(i)pt magazine, and will also be presenting a few seminars at Screenwriting Expo 4, this coming November. I hope to meet many of you there!
Still, while this is all related background, none of it speaks to my screenwriting in particular. Well, let me catch you up on that as well, as it is the area of my career that I'm most attempting to move along at this point, and which I hope may be enlightening as I progress. Though I've been writing feature screenplays for about 5 years now (and short films for a bit before that), it is only within the last year that I've truly gotten focused and serious about it. Before then, it was something I said I did, but more frequently was something that I didn't do at all. Which brings me to my first, most important maxim:
"There's no such thing as an aspiring writer. You either write or you don't."
It is for this reason that I do not use the phrase "aspiring writer." If you are a person working on your first or second, or even 10th screenplay, but have not yet landed your first paid job as a screenwriter, you are not an aspiring screenwriter. A screenwriter is someone who writes for the screen. You are doing that. When you sell a spec, or get hired for a rewrite or adaptation or something, then you become a professional screenwriter. Until then, perhaps, you are a beginning or developing screenwriter. But a so-called "aspiring" screenwriter is actually no writer at all. It's someone who sits around dreaming about doing something, but never even attempts it.
That being said, let me summarize my screenwriting experience and then wrap up this lengthy post. Prior to buckling down with my writing, I began one script, but never finished it, then moved on to researching a second. That second script is one that I hope to eventually write, but it is on the back burner, along with many other potential future projects. Since then, however, I wrote a comedy script, and completed two revisions on it. I need to do one more full revision before I move on it, but before I did that, I put it on hold to quickly knock out a straight-to-vid type horror script. I completed that one, and also feel it will benefit from a brief revision. While I am in the process of revising both of those scripts, I have also begun working on a third, a collaboration with a friend of mine, based on another of my ideas.
I do not yet have an agent, but I also have not even tried to find one yet. I also have not sold any screenplays yet, but again I am only now just approaching the point where I will try to sell these scripts. It is my plan that, as I complete these 3 projects, I will simultaneously get them to contacts I have from my years in "the biz," and also begin to use them to try to acquire representation for myself. And since I now find myself "on the cusp," so to speak, this seemed like the appropriate time to launch this blog. I look forward to hearing from you all, and learning from you as well, while I relate my own experiences and hear yours.
Thanks for reading, and keep writing!