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Fun Joel's Screenwriting Blog


-- On Screenwriting and Related Topics

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Location: Los Angeles, CA

I moved from NYC to LA in October, 2003. And though I still think NYC is the greatest city in the world, I'm truly loving life here in the City of Angels. I'm a writer, reader, and occasional picture-taker.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Music Vids Animation

My buddy, and member of my writing group (no, not this group), Ben Umstead is one of five finalists in a contest to direct a video for one of his favorite musicians, Norwegian Sondre Lerche. I thought his vid was the best of the five and really respect his efforts, and if you're into music vids, I hope you'll check this out and consider voting (hopefully for him).

Just go HERE. The site is in Norwegian, but Ben's vid is the first one, with the picture of a teddy bear. You can vote on the bottom of the screen where there is a pink box that says "KLIKK HER FOR A STEMME." The voting ends this Thursday at 11 AM Norway time (2 AM PT, 5 AM ET), so there's only about 18 hours left!

And while I'm discussing music vids, I had to tip my hat to this wonder of good editing. (Not safe for the office, btw, with foul language and sentiments I don't support, but a funny video nonetheless.) Somebody clearly knows that TV show way too well!


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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

New Year, New Stuff

Firstly, I wanted to wish all of my Jewish readers a late Happy New Year, and as is traditional, I'll ask you forgiveness for anything I might have done to hurt you. Not posting enough, perhaps? Making a snarky comment (that was intended to be humorous, but) that was misconstrued as mean? Hopefully not, but I'll ask anyway! And I hope all of your screenwriting dreams come true this year!

And with the New Year, comes new stuff for me. I've just placed an order for a new laptop! My faithful readers will recall that I bought a refurbished laptop on eBay last year. Brand X, dirt cheap ($300), and very basic. I got what I paid for with that. About 9 months of relatively solid service. It died sometime about a month ago, after I ended up using it much more heavily than I had originally planned. I was fine with that (having gotten my money's worth), but what hurt was the lost data. I had backed up some stuff, but not everything, and not all the time. But I've moved on and accepted it. It's done and there's nothing I can do about it.

So, one of the good things I've found about working full time is that I actually have money in my bank account on occasion. So I took the opportunity to remove some of it and buy myself the new laptop. I get a discount from Dell (through my work) so I went with one of their machines. I had a choice between a more basic model (B130 for those who care) and a middle of the road model (E1505). The difference was that the E1505 would have had a better processor and is a lighter, newer machine, and the B130 I looked at had a longer warranty and was $85 cheaper. I thought about it, and I'm still trying to be frugal. Plus the B130 was good enough for my purposes, so I went with that choice. If for some odd reason, any of you really want to hear all the specs, let me know and I'll fill you in. But it couldn't possibly be as exciting for any of you as it is for me! (At least I hope not.)

So, bottom line, I should be receiving my new laptop by the end of next week. And it is my hope that that will help better facilitate my screenwriting endeavors. As I had mentioned, I'd like to write at lunch from work, like my coworker does regularly. I'll keep you all posted!

And lastly, just to give you a taste of what's to come, upcoming posts will hopefully address:

  • my upcoming speaking engagements
  • some new(ish) online tools and services for screenwriters
  • cool articles I'm having come out

And more, hopefully! Thanks again for sticking around. If I get back to regular posting, I'll stop apologizing soon! :-)

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Local Writing Group Holds Smallest Meeting

Harsh criticism and laziness trumps "ambition"

September 21, 2006
LOS ANGELES - An Encino, CA screenwriter's group held what is believed to be the smallest meeting ever of such an organization. Host Marvin Ixter was the only attendee, and then walked out in the middle of the meeting. "The harshness of the criticism I gave myself was rude and uncalled for," said Ixter. The meeting continued without him for another half-hour after Ixter's outburst before he returned to tell nobody that it was time they "get the hell out of my living room."

In its prime, the Over-the-Hill Writer's Group had regularly attracted anywhere from 7 to 17 people to its bi-weekly(ish) meetings. Though rarely an identical combination of attendees, the group enjoyed 5 hardcore members -- at least until recently. Other attendees were a near random selection that drew from an email list of 56.

The group's declining attendance has been attributed to a number of factors. Ixter, for one, claims attendees "didn't know what the hell they were talking about." He based this claim on the criticism he received about his writing at the meetings.

"They consistently told me my writing was poor. Clearly they were jealous and felt the need to do a little back stabbing."

But Allison Marks, another (quasi-)regular at the group disputes this claim. "That guy can't write for shit," she says. "His dialogue is vapid and flat, his concepts are trite and unmarketable, and most of his scripts were either in the 85 or 185 page vicinities."

Ixter, however, remains steadfast. He says he can't recall reading any of Marks' own writing in the group. "Allison? Never heard of her."

Group founder Lance Manley offered his own take on the group's demise. "Dude, like, I can't, like, run the whole meeting myself, y'know? At least not, like, all the time. I mean, like, this one time it was my turn to bring in my script for review, but like, surf was bitchin' that day, y'know?"

Manley mentioned other similar interruptions affecting other attendees. "This chick Lysette was scheduled to attend her first meeting. I think she was someone's friend or wife or something. But then she up and had a baby, like right that night! I mean, dude, like why you gotta flake on a meeting, if you care about it, right? Can't you pop the kid out a different night?"

Location, according to Marks, was also an issue. She points out that the name of the group referred not to members' ages or skill levels, but to the San Fernando location in which it was regularly held. "Who the hell feels like going to the Valley every two weeks? I mean, what exactly is the attraction of living there anyway?"

Manley has indicated the group will be taking a new direction over the next 2 to 18 weeks. "Nobody knows anything anyway. Isn't that, like, what that old writer dude said? So why should we sit around and have other people tell us what's wrong with our screenplays? Instead, we're like totally changing the name to The Central Los Angeles Producers group," aka The CLAP. "We figure that by becoming producers and stuff we can have a better chance of getting our scripts made."

Industry insiders, speaking on condition of anonymity, agreed that all you really need to become a "producer" in Hollywood is a business card. "And you can get those for free from Vista Print!"

Manley pointed out one other key requirement that makes his group strong "producer" prospects. "We're holding meetings in my, like, home/office thing, and it's got a sweet couch. I expect to meet with all potential talent there for our first production. It's this really awesome flick about two hot lesbian cocaine dealers who blow lots of shit up. Of course, there will be a guy along to enjoy the ride too. It's called Blow-ing."

Production is scheduled to begin "as soon as we can get financing." Ixter, reportedly, has agreed to be a part of the group in exchange for a credit as a Producer, or at least as a Production Assistant.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Last Night at the Arclight

Dipping my toe back in the blogging waters here, and hoping you won't all kill me for being gone so long, and for writing such an empty post here. Regardless, here I go...

Last night, after work, I headed over to the Arclight for the LA Shorts Fest. A coworker's boyfriend had written a short (Twist of Fate, written by Kirkland Morris) that screened there last night. It was a pretty good film with an interesting premise.

But what impressed me most about the night was how energizing an event like that can be for a filmmaker. Last night, these short filmmakers were the total big shots, at least for the night. Their films played on a giant screen, in a gorgeous and well-known Hollywood venue. They answer questions from the crowd after their films. And some of these films were made for as little as a few hundred dollars!

Making the night even more glamorous was that there was some kind of screening or premiere or something with red carpets, paparazzi, and even stars outside. Here for your viewing confusion, two pictures of stars I spotted on the red carpet, but remember:

low-res bad camera phone + darkness + distance and movement = bad pictures

Thus, you'll just have to take my word for it when I tell you these are pictures of Orlando Bloom and Thandie Newton:

And does anyone recognize this crazy-haired guy? He looked like a director type:

(Again, sorry about the terrible quality.) Anyway, that was cool.

Furthermore, there was such a range of quality up there. Some of the shorts I saw (I think we saw about 8) were laughably bad (I won't mention them by name), others were completely unique, and others fell somewhere in the middle. One interesting short I saw, that I'd like to give a shout out to, was Elroy - The Potato Head Boy. This was a truly unique animated fable that had some really interesting stylistic touches. I'd say it is well worth checking out.

Bottom line, however, is that it makes me want to think more about making a short film. This in conjunction with a pro writer friend of mine telling me he was just directing his first short film this past Sunday and Monday, and also my current participation as a judge in NYC Midnight's 2006 Screenwriter's Challenge. That was also fun and intereting for me, and I got to read a number of scripts with, again, a wide range of skill levels.

One thing I had considered doing was this: once I finally finish Hell on Wheels, then re-writing it as a series of 2- or 3-minute animated shorts and putting them on the web. WAY down the road, but something I toyed with. Of course, a precursor to that is getting back to my writing, which will hopefully become more feasible some time next week. I am getting paid on Friday, and I hope to use most of that check to purchase a brand new laptop, since the other one died, and this desktop is in old and creaky shape. So wish me luck on that endeavor as well!

Anyway, that's that for now. Hope to see you back here, and write to you again sooner rather than later!

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