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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.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Expo Post #3

Okay, so a bit more wrap-up is due.

Firstly, I had the great pleasure of having a number of people identify themselves to me, over the course of the Expo, as readers of my blog. It is always a pleasure, and quite gratifying, to meet you. I'd love it if you'd chime in occasionally (or even, at least, just now), just to say "Hey," or let me know any thoughts or questions you might have, or opinions you want to express.

My two seminars on Friday went well, though I was quite disappointed with the size of the rooms I had. This was a running theme that you'll here from many of the speakers and attendees. But it reached the point that my second seminar ("Verbalizing the Visual") was packed to the gills, with people sitting on the floor, and barely any room for anyone to move. We had to turn people away, due to a lack of remaining space, which upset me, and isn't really fair to anyone.

Beyond the space issue, however, the seminars went as well as I could have hoped. I was quite pleased, both with the turnout, and the response I received. I had at least two repeat students, who joined my second session after attending my first one, so I can only assume they liked the first one! If you are either of those two people, please say hey to me, either on here, or via email. And I'll actually tell you all a funny story about what happened with one of them in a moment. I also had the pleasure to finally meet Emily for the first time. She came to "Verbalizing the Visual" and was very sweet. We missed you, Em, at the meet-up, though I know you were exhausted.

But a funny thing also happened during my first seminar, "Writing to be Read." In that seminar, I go through specific scripts that I have read over the years, and list the specific reasons I rejected them. Not the ones that were total crap, because there is little that is informative about that, but rather the ones in the middle area, that might have had potential, but which still got rejected for other reasons. The idea is to help writers think like a script reader as they write, in the hopes that they won't make the same mistakes, and will also be able to make the reader their friend.

Anyway, since I refer to actual scripts I've read, and describe them, I change the titles for confidentiality reasons. After this year's seminar, one of the participants came up to me and said that a script I described sounded like it might have been his. I looked at his name tag, and immediately realized that it was, and I told him so! I always start off my lecture by saying that if any of the scripts I describe were written by anyone in the class, that I hope they won't be offended, and that they will take it is constructive criticism. In fact, it gives something of a valuable window into the mind of a reader for them, an opportunity which most writers don't get, since they rarely get to read actual unvarnished studio coverage on their work.

So I told this guy that I hoped he wasn't offended by my comments, and I asked him if he agreed with my assessment (since I had read the script many years ago, as I'll explain in a minute). He said that he did, and that the script ended up being somewhat "half-baked." Which I think is relatively normal for a first script (which this may have been).

Now here's the weird part, which may have confused the writer, and which I didn't have the chance to explain to him then either (so I hope you're reading this). His script was the only one I use in my seminar that I did not receive as part of my job, or get paid to cover. When I started out working in film, I did some free PA work on a number of indie features in NY and NJ. His film was one of the first that I ever worked on, but only for like one day in pre-production, when I helped him with casting. For whatever reason, I never ended up working on the actual shoot. Still, I had a copy of the script lying around my house. So, when I was writing up a sample coverage to use when I was trying to get my first jobs as a script reader, I covered his screenplay. And I use it in my seminar, because I still think it is a good example of the flaw I use it to describe.

Anyway, the bottom line is that it was mildly embarrassing, but generally just kind of funny. And I was pleased to see the writer return for my second seminar, so I can only assume that he wasn't too offended, and that he hopefully enjoyed what I had to say.

What else? Oh! Some of you may recall my interest in learning about Sheila Hanahan-Taylor, since people kept landing on my blog while searching for info on her. Well, I had seen that she was scheduled to speak on a producers panel on Sunday, so I was excited to finally meet her, and mention the interest people had in learning about her. Maybe I would have even been able to get her to speak a little for my blog so I could supply some information! So I showed up on Sunday, only to find that, alas, she didn't make it to the panel! Oh well. One of these days, dear readers, I will give you the information you need.

Still, I did enjoy that panel, and got excited (being a Deadhead) about a film that Tracey Becker (Finding Neverland) is producing. Called Losing Jerry (I think), it is scheduled to go into preproduction in March, in New Hampshire. The film is about three Deadhead best friends, and their relationship over 15 years, culminating in Jerry's death in 1995. Perhaps most exciting to us Deadheads is that she actually secured the rights to 25 Dead songs for use in the film. I have no idea if she'll get it to me (though I hope so), but I asked Tracey after the panel if she'd send me a copy of the script to read, just for my own pleasure. We'll see what happens there. Regardless, I'm excited to hear about the film, and look forward to it.

Anyway, I think that about wraps my wrap-up. Back to regular life now. For those of you who attended the Expo, I hope it energized you to write more and better, For those who didn't attend, I hope you were too busy writing away! :-)

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Blogger shecanfilmit said...

That's great someone has a movie about deadheads in production. I knew it would happen sooner or later. When I was sending my Deadhead screenplay around, the rights to the songs were listed as the biggest hurdle, so if that have that, they have 50% of the battle completed...

5:06 PM  
Blogger Fun Joel said...

Yeah, I didn't ask Tracey, but my feeling is that she realized (correctly), from a producer's persepctive, that there is little promise in such a movie without the rights. Though I wonder what it might have been like (and if it would have been easier) to use the music of a cover band, such as dark Star Orchestra. Would the rights issue have been easier, and how many people would've recognized the difference?

7:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dangit. I was planning on starting a project that begins on the night Jerry died. I live in DC, and remember going to down to this weird, impromptu memorial service in front of the Lincoln Memorial. I thought it would be a cool opening.

And here I thought this subject was too obscure.

12:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First off, I never thanked you for thanking me for posting a link on my site. I'm not 100% sure how I plan on presenting myself on the blog either. Which is evident on my most recent post. It's more of a sign of what happens when you’re sick and pent up in the apartment for the day. Boy from Ipanema

Second: I so wish I could have come out to L.A. for the Screenwriter Expo. For many reason we (my wife and I) couldn't make a last minute jump to LA. Good thing we didn't try, I ended up being sick all weekend. Resulting... in the strange video posting above. We almost signed up for McKee's Story seminar here in NY, but passed. I wanted my wife (the actual writer in the family) to take the seminar. Work sent me in the spring, ironically I had a cold that weekend too. So my conclusion is, if I plan or even entertain the idea of a writing seminar weekend I will end up with a cold. Maybe next year...

Third: Thank you for continues post of info and inspiration!

10:03 PM  

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