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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, October 31, 2007

Strike Info

Just wanted to throw out a few links to help you all keep updated.

Of course, you should all be following Craig's frequent updates. But in case you missed it, he also linked today to a new blog that is by a group of other writers who are involved more directly, and I recommend a look at United Hollywood.

Via Scribe LA, I bring you Variety's page with updated news. And the WGA's news page.

Another good blog for strike news is Deadline Hollywood, by Nikki Finke, a columnist for LA Weekly.

Since I know most of you, like me, are not Guild Members, you may be thinking, "why should I care?" I think the answer to this is manifold. Firstly, even if you aren't yet a member of the WGA, you hopefully will be someday, and what these contract negotiations accomplish or fail to will affect the conditions under which you will hopefully be paid in the future. Secondly, the attitudes of both the AMPTP and of the public in general during this negotiation are both an echo of, and a signal to the future of how screenwriters are treated and viewed overall. We often complain that screenwriters don't get the respect they deserve and have earned as the initial creators of most of the product that comes out of Hollywood. Well, that lack of respect affects us all, and when you all hopefully become working screenwriters in the industry, you will benefit from any respect that is earned by your predecessors.

Why else? If you work in the industry in any way, or even if you work in Los Angeles in general, a prolonged strike could have serious effects on the extended community, beyond just writers. I was not in Hollywood during the last strike, but from what I've been told, it was not pretty. I know that a decent amount of my reading work may dry up (though many producers are simply saying they will be looking more at books and manuscripts in the interim). If you are in the process of making any progress in your career, and may be moving towards the step of looking for an agent or manager, could a strike put things on delay in those areas? I don't know, but potentially. Plus, the length and intensity of any potential strike will also have an effect (though somewhat unpredictable, I think) on the tone of the spec market following the strike's end.

Knowledge, they say, is power. And even if you are not a WGA member currently, you need to stay educated and aware of what is happening if you have any hopes at all of ever being a working writer in Hollywood. Hey, that's just my opinion, but I think it is worth considering at the very least.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Making Ends Meet During a Strike

Wondering how all of Hollywood's writers will get by during the impending strike? This instructional video should be enlightening on the subject:

From the mind of Gregg Rossen. It does answer one question -- why these guys write instead of act! ;-)

(Let's hope it doesn't come to this!)

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Expo Update

On Monday I plan to finally post my update regarding my Africa trip. But I wanted to address the more current first -- the Screenwriting Expo.

So let's see now. Got back to LA on Monday, and nearly immediately dove into finalizing my preparations for the Expo seminars. Didn't even have time to process my thoughts about the trip. As you know, I added two new seminars to the two I'd taught previously. Which meant more prep than would have otherwise been necessary. I'm happy to report, however, that I got everything ready on time.

Thursday was my big working day, with three seminars to teach. As opposed to last year, when I was sorely disappointed in the tiny size of the rooms they stuck me in, this year I had a good sized room, and the same one for all of my seminars (which made things a drop easier). Plus I got all of the equipment I requested, also unlike last year. The only real technical snafu was that They had asked me to let them videotape one of my seminars for inclusion in the Screenwriting Expo DVD Series. I was obviously excited to be asked and agreed, but due to a scheduling mix-up, that taping never happened. Oh well. Maybe I'll try to arrange to speak a different time and produce the DVD on my own. Or there's always next year!

My seminars were successful and I had a nice turnout, but my third seminar, one of the two new ones, attracted my largest audience ever. It was the seminar on Effective Use of Flashbacks and Voiceovers, and I had 70 people there. I used excerpts from a number of films, many of which were recommended by commenters in this old post.

Thursday night I went to the networking party, and got to chat with old friends, new friends, etc. Henry, who I met at the Expo 3 years ago. Viorica, who I met last year, and who was my assistant for my classes this year. Becky and Jack from Chicago, who had been in my class earlier in the day, along with their friend Priya. And others. Then I hung out around the hotel and met more people from the Expo, including two lovely ladies (Fiona and Fionnoula) who came to the Expo all the way from Ireland (though Fiona is originally from Scotland). This is the stuff I love about Expo -- just meeting people, hanging out, having a good time with other writers, etc. In fact, one of the first people I ran into when I got to the Expo was David, who I had never met in person before. Good to meet him (even if I didn't make his Twitter feed).

Friday morning, bright and early, I had my last seminar. It was designed to be a workshop follow-up to the Verbalizing the Visual seminar I had taught the day before. In that workshop, I go through various screenplays to see how they wrote non-verbal, active sequences. Physical comedy, chases, fights, sex, general action, sports, etc. So the plan was to work with the class to build some new scenes using the techniques highlighted the day before.

Things did not go exactly as planned, however. Only one person who showed up for the workshop had been at the original seminar. So I ended up spending about 1/2 the class reviewing (in brief) the seminar material, and then rushed the workshop portion. While I think we had fun with it, it was probably less illustrative than I would've liked. But I hope that people liked it anyway, and found the effort informative.

I also love hanging out in the speakers' lounge at the Expo, because it gives me the chance to chat with some really nice and intelligent people, and people who are doing similar things to me. Among others, I chatted with Robert Flaxman, Brad Schreiber, Philippa Burgess, Coleman Hough, Karl Iglesias, Steven Barnes and Heather Hale. Others that I've run into around the Expo include Chris Soth and Julie Gray.

I stayed home today, and plan to head back tomorrow for more hanging, and maybe a seminar or two. I am out of business cards, so I ran out tonight to pick up a batch of "print-your-owns" from Office Depot, so I'd at least have something to give people who ask. And I actually am happy I did, because even though they look a bit cheesy, I did get to finally use this logo. I hope to meet many more of you, and if you are checking in here following one of my seminars, welcome and please stick around. Hope to see many of you at Champions tomorrow night, for drinks, post-Expo!

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

3rd Annual Post-Expo Scribosphere Gathering

Well, I'm back in the country! I will definitely be posting about my trip, but I'm simply too tired now. I thank all of you who have stuck around, and/or kept checking in to the blog while I was away. I'd hoped to get at least one post up while I was there, but my internet access was sporadic, and I just couldn't work it in. I got back to LA this afternoon, and though the trip was amazing, it also feel great to be home getting back to life again.

But what I did want to do was at least throw up a quick announcement regarding this year's Post-Expo Scribosphere Gathering. Following successful gatherings after the past two Expos, I'm organizing once more. And the plan currently is to hold the gathering at the same location as last year's: the hotel bar at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott, a sports bar named Champions. It is on the right side of the lobby when you walk in. I haven't spoken with anyone there yet, but I can't imagine it being a problem, however, if there are any issues, I'll post again with the changes.

This year's closing ceremony is scheduled to end at 7 PM, but I will most-likely be there before then. By the way, this is not only open to those who have screenwriting blogs, but also for those who are part of our extended community. And even if you don't attend the Expo, you are more than welcome, and encouraged, to join. Please do me a favor and if you know you'd like to come, let me know, so I have some idea of how many to expect.

Cheers for now!

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