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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, June 23, 2008

Take a Trip to Gaytown

So as a follow-up to my last post, I checked out The West Side, as Cecil suggested in the comments. Not bad, and looks good visually, with a decent overall concept. The writing is adequate, though a bit slow-paced, and the acting is sporadic. But still, it is definitely a better web series than most that I've seen out there. I just wish they could find some sponsorship so they could pump out more episodes, instead of the extremely sporadic style of the current release.

But I've continued talking to a lot of people about web series they liked. And this one came up the other day. Gaytown! It is generally quite funny, somewhat original, good writing, good comedic acting, and good production values. Here is episode one (the first season ran ten episodes, and you can watch them on you tube, or by going directly to the "network" that is airing them, Crackle.) I definitely plan to check out some of the other series on Crackle to see if they are equally good.

But looking at these two web series also made me think about the types of stuff that has gone up on the web. The West Side is essentially a single, longer story that has been split into shorter episodes, albeit with minor cliffhangers along the way. Still, it could easily have been made as a single short film. Gaytown, on the other hand, is significantly more episodic. And then you can think about a series like Ask a Ninja, which is made up of completely stand-alone episodes. Sort of like Lost vs. My Name is Earl vs. South Park.

Anyway, please keep any suggestions you have coming! And same with ARGs, if any of you have any good suggestions on that front.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Digital Storytelling

Still moving along with rewrites on the script, and with preparing for the move out of the apartment. So this will be a quick post.

While my main focus remains on writing for film, I have been thinking for a while about writing for online productions. It had been in the back of my mind for a while (I even have considered turning Hell on Wheels into a flash-animated web series), and thought more about it after attending this seminar. And recently I've spoken to a number of people about such things as web series and Alternate Reality Games (ARGs).

I'd be a fool if I didn't see these forms as at least part of the future of visual storytelling, and at the same time, not entirely different from what I do currently. And so I'm considering trying to do some writing in that arena as well.

So, for those of you who are already quite familiar with such things, I'd love to hear your thoughts on writing for the digital, online world. What is the same or different? And if you have any favorite web series (as opposed to a single, stand-alone viral video that you love) or ARGs, I'd love to hear about them. What's the best out there?

Leave your thoughts in the comments section, please!

Update: A few hours after I posted this, I read THIS POST on Kira's blog. Thought it tied in nicely!

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Trip to the Walk-In

Over the years, I've put a few posts up on here about Drive-Ins. This post is about Walk-Ins. Yes, I know that most movie theaters are walk-in theaters, but I'm talking about something specific here, so bear with me!

Let me start by giving you an update on what's going on around these parts, since it relates. I am currently in rewrites on the Safari script, with my next draft due at the end of this month. So that's been keeping me somewhat busy. But I've also had even less time because I am moving out of my apartment at the end of the month. You see, for family reasons (all good, nothing bad) I have decided to head back East for July and August, then return to LA in September. So I'm moving out at the end of this month and putting my stuff into storage, and then will move into a new apartment when I get back out West in the Fall.

I'm really looking forward to this. I'll be based in NJ at my parents' house for most of that time, but will certainly be getting into The City (NYC for those not in tune with the lingo) quite a bit. Now I love LA in the summer, and the weather in NYC during the summer can sometimes leave a little to be desired. But, there is still something special about the energy of NYC during the hot months. One of the things I miss most about NYC in the summer is outdoor movies (mostly free). Summer in New York City offers tons of free cultural events, from bands (e.g. Summerstage) to theater (e.g. Shakespeare in the Park). But I've always most loved the outdoor movie screenings, because they are NYC's version of the drive-in theater. But since no-one drives there, they're really walk-in movies!

The granddaddy of them all (at least to my knowledge) is the Bryant Park movie series. Sponsored by HBO, which has offices right across the street, this has become one of the most popular free events in New York during the summer. If I'm not mistaken, this series began in 1993, and I say that because it was my first summer after college, and I was working right down the block, at 42nd and Madison. So I seem to remember this starting out, and thinking what an awesome idea it was. To be honest, I'm not in love with this year's schedule (there are plenty of good movies on it, but not many of the fun kind of movies that people love to watch in big groups), but there are still some highlights. Here's that schedule, for Monday evenings (starts tomorrow night):

June 16 Dr. No
June 23 Bride of Frankenstein
June 30 Hud
July 7 The Man Who Came to Dinner
July 14 Fail-Safe
July 21 Arsenic and Old Lace
July 28 The Apartment
Aug 4 Lifeboat
Aug 11 The Candidate
Aug 18 Superman

One of the other good series is RiverFlicks, in Hudson River Park (Pier 54 @ 14th St). This year's Wednesday night series for adults (there is also a series of kids movies) is music themed (and you know how much I love music-themed movies):

July 9 La Bamba
July 16 Almost Famous
July 23 Purple Rain
July 30 Dream Girls
Aug 6 Saturday Night Fever
Aug 13 Rock Star
Aug 20 The Blues Brothers

Also on the river, about 3 miles uptown from there, is Summer on the Hudson, free Movies Under the Stars at Riverside Park South. Screenings will be held at Pier 1 @ 70th St. Unfortunately, this series is also on Wednesday night. This year's theme is the election year for their series:

July 9 Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
July 16 Wag the Dog
July 23 Election
July 30 The Candidate (in case you can't make it Aug 11 at Bryant Park)
Aug 6 The Manchurian Candidate (of course, the original one from 1962)
Aug 13 Primary Colors
Aug 20 All the President’s Men

Finally, I have two other series that are new to me, though I'm sure they aren't that new. Both look really interesting, though. The first is Movies with a View, from the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy. These Thursday screenings take place under the bridge, with the lower Manhattan skyline as a beautiful backdrop. Also launching slightly from the election concept, this series' theme is "change," interpreted in some fun ways! And it may be my favorite series of the bunch:

July 10 Stand by Me
July 17 Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
July 24 Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were Rabbit
July 31 Ace in the Hole
Aug 7 Pleasantville
Aug 14 Cabaret
Aug 21 Being There
Aug 28 The Shining

Lastly, for indie film fans, check out Rooftop Films, from IFC. Only a few of these are free, but the prices for the ones you must pay for are completely fair, and you'll be supporting the art you love! A very interesting and eclectic schedule at a variety of locations. So I'll just link to the schedule and let you browse. But it looks really cool, and well worth checking out. I recommend signing up for the email list so you don't have to dig through the schedule in advance.

And for my LA peeps, Don't think I'm neglecting you. I'm sure that when I return in September, they will once again be holding the Santa Monica Drive-In at the Pier (that is last year's schedule)!

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Monday, June 02, 2008

For My TV-Writing Friends

Just got word of this contest from a friend, and it looks like a great one, plus one that may close very quickly. So get on this ASAP!

The Fox-NYTVF Comedy Script Contest begins today, and ends on June 13th, or when they receive 1500 entries. There is no entry fee, and the winner gets $25,000 and a development deal!

Here is some relevant info direct from the site. Click through to get all other details.
The New York Television Festival and Fox Broadcasting Company have teamed up to offer aspiring TV writers the opportunity to win $25,000 and a development deal with FOX!

Enter the FOX-NYTVF Comedy Script Contest and submit your script for an original half-hour comedy series. One winner will receive a development deal with the network and a $25,000 prize! Up to 25 finalists have the opportunity to earn a first-look deal with the network. Scripts must be entered by uploading them in a PDF format on the NYTVF upload page, which can be found here beginning June 2, 2008. The submission period will open at noon Eastern on June 2, 2008 and will close at 11:59 PM Eastern on June 13, 2008. All submissions must be uploaded during this time period, without exception. The contest will stop accepting entries when this period elapses or when the Festival receives 1,500 script entries, whichever comes first.

Best of luck! I'd enter myself, if I wrote TV.

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