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.

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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.


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.


Completing 2012

December 31, 2012

Every year I take a look at my goals from the previous year and set new ones for the upcoming year. This year I’m about two and four halves for 11. Not a great showing, but still, I think progress has been made.

  • Finish ScreenwritingU’s ProSeries and graduate into the PS Alumni.
    Done
  • 52 blog posts and 1000 visits a month by the end of the year.
    38 blog posts and about 500 visits per month. Like last year, I hit some major lulls, so the overall average is moving up, though I think it could continue to go up more with more consistent posting.
  • A stage show at TRF, getting paid a living wage for the time I put in. Write and publish a book of poetry (written by my character) that I can sell as part of that.
    No, although there has been some progress there. I expect to achieve this result next year.
  • Sign with an acting agent and land 2 auditions per week.
    Done the first part, not so much the second.
  • Land a paid screenwriting gig.
    I realized recently that I’ve had a lot of opportunities here that I’ve self-sabotaged. In 2005 I landed a paid screenwriting gig, simply because I did the work on a spec project that someone contacted me for and asked me to work on with them. Over the past few years, though, over and over I’ve seen some kind of opportunity to work on a project that I then just haven’t done the work on.
  • Edit 6 books. Close sales on two more ghost writing projects.
    2, and 1.
  • Pay off all interest-bearing debt (including the car I just bought) and max out my wife’s and my IRAs for 2012.
    Paid off a lot of that debt, though not all of it. In the process of buying a house.
  • Finish three personal writing projects, and a rewrite of one more.
    I finished that  rewrite and am finishing another personal writing project right now.
  • Semi-finalist in at least one national screenplay contest.
    No.
  • Direct a feature film, or at least start pre-production on it.
    No.
  • Bring internal peace and confidence to the likelihood that my wife and I will be having children in the near future.
    We’re pregnant! So, there’s that …

I’ve got more work to do before setting my 2013 goals, so that’s going to be done in a separate post. I’m going to plan for awesomeness, though.

 


Owen Egerton on Writing, SCOTUS on Selling Used Books, Valuing Your Script, Odd Punctuation – Random Things for this Week

December 24, 2012

A few random things for this week:

  • Advice for writers. Owen Egerton, Austin’s favorite author for a billion years running and someone I interviewed two years ago, recently published a list of 30 pieces of advice for writers.  My favorites are 12, 14, and 21.
  • Could selling used books become illegal? Though the title is sensationalist, this is a well-crafted article about a student from Thailand who bought textbooks overseas (where they’re cheaper) and then sold them in the U.S. at below-market rates for profit. Wiley sued, claiming a copyright violation of sorts, and has thus far has won the suit to the tune of $600,000. The case is now before the Supreme Court, and whichever way they rule, the implications their decision could have on the publishing industry could be pretty staggering.
  • How much is your film script worth? Script mag put together an article on valuing your work as a writer breaking into the industry. Most of the beginning is pretty basic and self-explanatory, but once you get to the bottom it has some really interesting points about coming in as an “investor” or a co-producer.
  • Unusual Punctuation Marks. I think the interrobang, the percontation point, the exclamation comma, and the question comma should become standard usage. What do you think?

The “Let’s just blurt out a whole bunch of crap at once” blog

November 1, 2012

True to form, I haven’t written in a while. The hustle and bustle of reading for Austin Film Festival keeps me in “I can’t talk about the scripts I’m reading so what the heck do I blog about?” mode. This is followed by “It’s been so long since I’ve blogged, what the heck do I blog about?” mode, which is then followed by the “Let’s just blurt out a whole bunch of crap at once” blog. So here goes.

  • Recently finished Lolita. At first, I had it pegged as the best book I’ve ever read. For someone who gets some of the (extensive) allusions made throughout the book, it’s a very interesting read, and I’m particularly fascinated by the way he justifies his actions, at least at first. Also interested how, in the movie, the protagonist Humbert Humbert comes across as someone who can’t really help himself, whereas in the book he definitely comes across as a sexual predator for whom one loses pretty much all sympathy by the end. The middle of the book did drag a bit, but overall a fascinating read and one I’m glad I checked out.
  • Was kind of pissed that they made a movie of Cloud Atlas before I got a chance to read it. It’s been on my list for a few years. So I’ve started reading it now, and hopefully will finish before it’s out of theaters. Another book that’s designed (at least on first impression) for people with allusive minds.
  • Read a few great scripts for the AFF screenplay contest, including The Break-Up Nurse, which won the Enderby category. It’s one of my favorite things to do during AFF is to meet the people’s whose scripts I read. I only briefly got to meet the author of The Break-Up Nurse, but I got her card and am looking forward to sitting down with her when I visit L.A. in December.
  • Two main lessons from AFF:
    • Why is it this character in this particular situation?
      –and–
    • “Words for actors are a problem. Silences between the words are an opportunity.” — Terry Rossio.
  • Speaking of acting (and L.A.), I’m attending Will Wallace’s acting class for two straight weeks in December. Will be glad to get some intensive time practicing on-screen acting. I think that’ll make a huge difference for me.

I’m sure there’s a lot more, but I’m happy just to get something on paper … er, server … again. Ciao.


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