Danny, Dakota & the Wishing Well

The Board
The Board

We had an assignment for Writers’ Group over the holiday break to write not just a Conversations in Cars script, but one in which we think out of the box. “Write something different than you’ve ever written.” I think I have until the following Monday. Nope. Shit. I have to send it to Dane by tomorrow.

Mike has been wanting to write something together for a while, so he agrees to help. If it can’t be like anything I’ve written then it can’t be a scene with a guy and girl. And it can’t be an every day conversation. And it can’t be drawn from my life, God dammit. OK, so those are my parameters. I’m ready to brainstorm. Ready, Mike? He is not. He is doing God knows what and I’m already frustrated. This is why I can’t have a writing partner. But when he’s finally ready, he has our initial idea. “How about a film noir?” Of course it has to start with a guy smoking a cigarette because Mike loves that image on camera. From there, the ideas are pouring out of us and an hour later, we’re finished. And I must say, we’re proud of it. Maybe I should rethink this whole writing partner thing.

I email it to Dane and of course think that when we share it in group, they’ll rip it apart. But we need to come up with our top five scripts (that are the easiest to shoot) before then. We email back and forth and guess what? Of the 27 scripts we have, everyone – except Dane, just to be spiteful (I’m just kidding, Dane) – has our film noir in their top 5-7 (some gave it an honorable mention vote). I hadn’t emailed my choices yet solely because I wanted to see if our script would pass the test or if it was trash. It passed. So excited! (The Doug and Heather script was also a favorite for some.)

Long story short, I’ve been put in charge of producing our script. Mike asked to direct, and when I told the group, they were fine with it. I can’t wait to start casting!

We finally meet Monday and tonight is all about our plans for the year. So basically, our New Years’ resolutions. My top priority is to get a commercial agent. Still not sure how I’m going to do that…

After that I’d like to save up money to take some more acting classes, read at least one book a month, and watch movies and read screenplays to help me write my first screenplay. My screenplay is my new project. My baby. I don’t want to use it as an excuse for not writing blogs more frequently, but I have been putting more of my energy into writing this script than anything I’ve written in the past. I won’t divulge too much information at this time, but I will say that it’s a Christmas movie.

I decided on a Christmas movie for two reasons. One: it’s my favorite time of year and I love Christmas! Two: Even bad Christmas movies, I like. Even the cheesy ones where I pretty much know what’s going to happen….they still get me. I feel like Christmas movies are more easily forgiven for being cliche or unrealistic. Not saying I want to write something cliche or unrealistic, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to write something that I can sell. Again, not saying I’ll be able to sell my script, but I’d still like to set the bar up there somewhere.

Also, what I keep hearing is that the first screenplay you write is crap. This is only more motivation. I refuse to believe that something that I put a lot of my time and energy into will just be complete, utter crap. No. I’m going to write something worth reading. Worth making. I won’t write it in a month. I’m not even sure if I’ll write it in a year. But I promise you it will be worth at least a read.

My inspiration? The Family Stone. That is the movie I want to make. You laugh and you cry and you laugh some more. Love that movie. Of course, I’m looking to my life for some of the story. Actually, less about the actual story and more about the characters and their interactions. Anything funny said on GirlTalk is now possible dialogue in my script. I’m paying more attention to my interactions with people every day, whether it be with Mike, or co-workers, or a complete stranger. Everything has the potential to be material.

But how am I going to keep this up? How am I going to continue working on it week after week? Dane promises to be my accountability partner. This means every Thursday at 10am we Skype for an hour and go back and forth – me talking about my script and he talking about his own projects. These sessions have already proved invaluable. Sometimes we’re about to Skype and I feel like I have nothing worth saying or talking about. By the end, I feel like so much has been accomplished. And it’s only January.

Organization is key. This is where The Board comes in. This idea comes from Blake Snyder’s book, Save the Cat, which is my go-to for this project. It breaks the screenplay up into four parts: Act 1, Act 2 Part 1, Act 2 Part 2, and Act 3. Going to Staples and buying my board, index cards and pushpins was very exciting. Hanging it up on the wall and color coding it was even more exciting. Now I only need to fill it up with words and ideas…

*A Silent Film

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