Three Things

April 1, 2014

1. Last weekend was the final weekend at Sherwood Forest Faire, where I play François le Foutre, the “most fearsome fruit in all of France.” As the character, I’ve talked about my “gay pirate romance novel” for two years. This year I finally wrote and published it. Altogether, 339 books sold this season, not including the thirty-odd books that were given out as rewards for the Indiegogo campaign.

François will be re-appearing this fall at the Texas Renaissance Festival, in a brand new period-appropriate costume made (at least partially) of bubble-gum pink velvet. With the larger crowds, my goal is to sell 650 books so I can break the 1,000 barrier by the end of the year. That money would then get used to bankroll the sequel, whose title is still being brainstormed. (Leading contendors so far are “Yank the Plank”, “The Rear Gunner of Gaios” and “Look at the Size of that Cockboat”.)

2. Kind of humbling to think about how big some of the things I’m participating in are starting to get. Found Footage 3D is now 7 weeks away from production, and thanks to the right resources and a great team, our fan base is growing rapidly. The Kristen Stewart April Fool’s prank was seen by 2,000 people in just a few hours. That’s something I (at least partially) wrote, that’s been seen by thousands of people. Hundreds of people have read my book (far more than the 300-odd copies I’ve sold, as it’s been passed around the campgrounds). A screenplay I co-wrote has gathered 2.5 million in funding, en route to $5 million. When you actually stop to think about how significant that actually is, influencing something that thousands, if not millions of people will enjoy—and getting paid for it—it’s a pretty awesome feeling.

3. Want to give a shout out to Evelyn Talmadge of Goalsmiths. Over the last few years I’ve gone to see her a couple of times for a few sessions, and was reminded this week of the long-term benefits of the work she does. One of the thing she helped me with was an addiction I was dealing with, and this week I used the same tools to manage a diet change that I’ve been struggling with—and just like that, I cured myself. If you’ve got an addiction, trauma, or anything else you’ve been wrestling with consciously that would be better altered at the subconscious level, you should talk to her.


Resurfacing

January 13, 2014

I’ve been insanely busy over the last several months, which is the reason (excuse) for lack of updates. I’m directing a play that goes up ten days from now, just started rehearsals for the Combat Tournament of Sherwood (which goes up in February), launching a crowdfunding campaign this week for a book I’m publishing, the film I’ve been producing–Found Footage 3D–entered pre-production last week, and I’m also in a screenwriting class to take things to the next level. And oh yeah, somewhere in there I gotta find time to be a husband and a father. Livin’ the dream.

More later, just wanted to say hi for now.


Trimming the Fat

May 6, 2013

Last week I finished up a script I’ve been working on — a screen adaptation of Laura Gallier’s paranormal thriller, The Delusion. As an editor, this is my favorite part of screenwriting: that last read through, when I get to go through the entire thing and just trim the fat; find those places where just by cutting out a couple of words, that chunk of description goes from three lines down to two:

Cutting lines

or that chunk of dialogue goes from five lines down to four:

Cutting lines 2

For this script, the cascading effect of those kinds of changes ultimately reduced the page count from 123 to 115 — and more importantly, made for a stronger, tighter read.

I think this step is a must for any script before you do anything with it. I try to avoid prescriptive rules when it comes to screenwriting (or any kind of writing), but I always notice if there are a lot of dangling words (like “him” or “running” in the first example above), and I feel like it’s a sign of an amateur writer. I wouldn’t consciously pass on a script because of that alone, but it’s one of those things that can make a script drag, and people will pass on your script if it drags.

 


Your Baby Is Ugly

April 16, 2013

Just a had a guest post on editing published on the Book Elves blog. This is probably one of my favorite blog posts I’ve written. Enjoy.


House of Cards

February 11, 2013

The next generation of television program is officially upon us. Hulu’s hyper-compelling low-budget drama The Booth at the End made serious waves last year, but with House of Cards, which boasts star-studded talent (Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, and director David Fincher), an impressive $4 million-per-episode budget, and a distribution schedule that consists of releasing 13 episodes at once, Netflix is breaking new ground on Internet programming.

It doesn’t hurt that that the show is awesome.

I only just watched the first episode, and it was confusing at times, but it’s also thrilling. I’m particularly enamored with the hero’s dialogue. A couple of my favorite lines: “I love that woman more than sharks love blood,” and “We’re in the same boat now, Zoe. Be careful not to tip it over, I can only save one of us.”


Goals for the Year of the Snake

February 5, 2013

Most people set their New Year’s Resolutions some time around the new year. Screw that. Mine are for the Year of the Snake.

  • Stage show at TRF. Write and publish a book of poetry (written by my character) that I can sell as part of that.
  • Sign with a writing manager.
  • Get paid as a screenwriter. At least twice. (I’m already one one the way.)
  • Edit 12 books.
  • Produce a film.
  • Finish and publish There’s Seamen on the Poop-Deck! Sell 100 copies.
  • Write and publish A Couple in Stockholm. Sell 1,000 copies.
  • Through all of that, make time for my wife and child. Leave them both with the experience of being loved, that I am there for them, that I am available, and that I take care of their needs.
  • Have our home and finances be a reflection of our greatness in the world.

 

 


Why I’m Glad I Don’t Live in L.A.

January 21, 2013

The attitude around whether or not one has to live in Los Angeles in order to make it in the film industry has changed drastically over the past few years. A decade ago, anyone you asked would say that without a doubt you must live there, at least for some period of time. Then social media happened. All over the place, scripts were getting made not because of who you know, but because of how many people on the Internet know you. Digital technology improved, and the barriers to entry dropped dramatically. More films were getting made at lower costs, resulting in a lot more rough but a lot more diamonds, too. The “top tier” film festivals lost their stranglehold on the indie market, with more and more deals coming out of second and third tier festivals.

In short, the world changed and a new reality emerged, one that’s given an unprecedented level of access to Hollywood for people all over the globe.

Everyone knows this now, and yet people still like to tout the benefits of living in L.A. No doubt, they are plentiful: being surrounded by the industry, the buzz, being able to take that meeting today instead of next week, chance run-ins with industry players, and so on.

Well, I’m here to share with you the reasons why I’m glad I don’t live in Los Angeles–not because I hate the city (I actually love it there), but because it’s been the best thing for my career.

In 2006 I left my day job to start working as a freelance writer. I’ve been doing that full time ever since. The experience has at times been humbling, terrifying, agonizing, and exhilarating. I’ve had moments of joy that are unparalleled in any other profession. I’ve contemplated suicide. I’ve failed more times than I can count, been rejected more times than anyone should have to bear, and succeeded more times than I sometimes feel I deserve. I’ve got evangelists who are begging me to work for them, and I’ve had people tell me I’ll never make it in this industry (sometimes the same people).

But at the end of it all, I’ve learned some invaluable skills. I know how to market myself. I know how to network. I’ve kept staying the course, and have been rewarded for it.

Most importantly, I’ve been making my living as a writer for most of my working career. People are impressed when I tell them I write and edit books for a living, and have been doing that for seven years now. It gives me credibility. It’s given me tremendous experience. Most people don’t think about the similarities between writing a technical manual and writing a screenplay, but they’re there. And of course, the similarities between editing a fiction book and writing a screenplay are considerable.

I don’t know that I would have had this opportunity in Los Angeles. Most of the people you talk to there fall into one or both of the following categories: (1) they’ve been working in the industry full time since they graduated from USC, and (2) whatever job they have leaves them no time to write. You hear all the time stories of people who are talking about it but have subconsciously given up. I’ve been able to keep writing, and make my living. I’ve been patient. And I’m being rewarded for it.

I also think there’s a lot to be said for being an outsider. Most of the people I meet when I come to California are folks I know either directly or indirectly through Austin Film Festival, and they’re delighted to see me and find out how things are going. They love that I offer a perspective from outside the insular bubble of Southern California. And they’re happy to arrange that meeting for while I’m in town. I can call somebody up and ask if they want to go out to lunch just ’cause, but that’s a much more unusual invitation if we both live in the same city than if I’m flying 1,500 miles to be there. And I get to put all my meetings together into one whirlwind adventure of a week.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t move to Los Angeles (though some people I know would). Nor am I saying that I never will–n fact, I fully expect that at some point that’s going to be the natural and obvious thing to do. But I will say that I’m glad, when my wife and I contemplated it a year and a half ago, that we made the choice we did.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 529 other followers

%d bloggers like this: