Monday, December 14, 2009
The entire evening was my husband's idea. I went to bed early Saturday night, exhausted from a day spent traveling to Massachusetts with my daughter to make tons of pierogi with the in-laws and her cousins, and awoke Sunday morning to a forwarded text alerting me of the evening's festivities.
It was a gift not to be planning the holiday get together. So after begging off from that night's monthly gathering of my playwriting group, I scoured the house for the holiday videos, which I so cleverly hid last year. While I never did find them (thank goodness for the local video store), I did find two snowboarding coats that went missing about three years ago and the pearl ring that my hubby gave me on our first Christmas together, which has been missing for at least three years too. I also located the papermache Santa my husband made when he was in grade school and the clay sleigh and Santa figurine I made as a freshman, plus tons of photos and cards from over the years.
And now that I've replaced our three must-have holiday classics* with a last-minute desperate order via Amazon dot com, I'm sure to find the treasure trove of holiday videos that have been watched multiple times over the years. (If I do, I'll simply have DVDs to hand out as presents...so if you're on my list, hope I find my holiday video box.)
Ah, the holidays. Such a crazy, magical, hectic time of year. Now where did I put the stockings? Oy. Who cares? As long as family's around to pass the rice....
* Our three must-have holiday classics include: Dr. Seuss's Grinch Who Stole Christmas (the original cartoon version), It's A Wonderful Life, and, of course, The Muppet's Christmas Carol. What videos do you watch every year?
Monday, December 07, 2009
Sunday, November 01, 2009
Saturday, October 03, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Monday, September 07, 2009
Monday, August 03, 2009
Sunday, August 02, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
Am flying to Maryland today to finally interview a fascinating cartographer who worked on the DEW Line project up near the Arctic Circle in the 1950s.
I stumbled upon him, or rather his photographs, while researching my graduate thesis project, a spec script set in Nunavut, Canada—in and around Baffin Island. His daughter had posted her father’s photographs from his time there to her flickr account.
Our first correspondence was in February of 2008. And here it is June 2009 and I’m finally listening to the advice of William Zinsser and getting on that plane. “If a subject interests you,” he writes at the end of chapter 23 in his book On Writing Well, “go after it, even if it’s in the next county or the next state or the next country.
“Decide what you what to do. Then decide to do it. Then do it.”
I am so happy to have finally arrived at step three, even if I wonder if I might be subconsciously endorsing Nike.
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PHOTO CREDIT: Bill McTigue, as posted to flickr by his daughter Terry (link to entire set of photographs above).
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
You know when you cry about one thing, but it’s really about another, larger thing going on in your life? That was me today as I pealed out of the tire merchandising lot where originally they were going to replace all four of my bald tires under warranty (which aren’t even a year old yet, doggone it!), but instead decided to point out some ridiculous miniscule text that apparently declared that my tires were TOO WORN OUT to be replaced for free. Say what?!
Okay, so fast forward about three miles. And I do mean fast. Too fast. And I’m sitting at this traffic light crying, feeling completely ridiculous, when it hits me: it’s not the tires that I’m crying over (though I am mad at that snow job and will NEVER buy a Toyota again even if they are the only car company left at the end of all this automotive fiscal mess…).
I’m crying because after weeks of reading and studying this thing called Asperger Syndrome, and trying to figure out how to help my son, I feel like I’m no farther than when I began. Like I’m stuck in my bed sheets trying to outrun the monster in my nightmare. And even though I read the part in the OASIS book last night that said if you feel like you’re stuck after recently having received the diagnosis for your kid: stop, take a breather, you’ll feel better in a few days.
So there I am sobbing and feeling self conscious, like everyone is watching me wondering if the crazy woman is going to be able to see when the light finally turns green. My worries were for nothing though as the ditzy woman next to me chatted on her cell phone and blew her nails dry. (I mean OMG – I thought I was the problem on the road at that moment!)
And so that’s my day in the life of a parent of a kid with AS. And it doesn’t even compare in the tiniest amount to what my son is going through. But if I think too much about it, I may go insane. So instead, I think I’ll heed the lesson in the book and take a few days off. Finally read that Rebecca Rule book that’s been sitting on my nightstand. She’s a New Hampshire humorist (and a great woman); I’m looking forward to letting her entertain me.
(Graphic above by my son Leo; he just had artwork accepted for exhibition at the Annual Asperger's Association of New England Conference in Boston this October! We're awaiting word which of his pieces was selected. Uh, sorry for the bad photo of a great piece of art; that's a mom for ya....)
Friday, May 01, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Since I can’t mind meld with you, dear reader, I will have to slam on the brakes before I’ve even begun. For before we can enjoy debating how character determines plot or vice versa, we must first discuss the mechanics of a screenplay. (This is where we sound our collective SIGH.)
Yet, by understanding that it is because scriptwriting is a collaborative endeavor, it should help to comprehend why formatting is so vitally important. What it all comes down to is this:
I know, you hoped I was going to say fame and fortune. Quick: name your favorite movie. Tell me who starred in it. Easy, right? Who directed it? Maybe that’s equally as easy. Now tell me who wrote it. Unless you’re like me and follow the published lives of favorite screenwriters and playwrights, you probably can’t name 50 percent of the writers for your top ten favorite flicks.
That’s how famous you can hope to be as a screenwriter.
Okay, so let’s steer back to money. This is show BUSINESS people. The quicker we understand that, the quicker we’ll understand why there are rules that are meant to be followed. (Some can be broken, but that comes MUCH later…once you’ve learned them all and can break an occasional one on purpose for a specific effect.)
When correctly formatted, one screenplay page equals roughly one minute of screen time. And in this business, even when a movie is shot on digital cameras, time is literally money. So, when a decision maker gets your script, one of the first questions is: how many pages is it? (Translation, roughly how much is this thing going to cost me to produce?)
Of course other variables affect the bottom line, such as special effects. Weather is a special effect. Really. But there are ways around costly weather events. For instance, if you need rain to produce the right mood, set the scene inside and let the window show us the rain. The SFX team can rig a hose or two above the window for much less money than it would cost to bring rain to an exterior shot.
So, here’s your primer on correctly formatting a screenplay:
Type face: Courier New
Size: 12 points
Margins: 1.5 inches left, one-inch all other margins
FADE IN: and SLUG LINES are left flush and ALL CAPPED
Transitions such as FADE OUT: or the final FADE OUT. are flush right and ALL CAPPED
Action paragraphs run the entire width of the page in upper and lower case. Fragments are acceptable. Ideally, paragraphs should run three lines or shorter; while an occasional four-line action graph is acceptable, any more than that slows down the reading too much.
CHARACTERS NAMES APPEAR CAPPED above their dialogue at three and a half inches from the left of the page.
Dialogue appears in upper and lower case indented on both sides at two and a half inches on the left, roughly the same to two inches on the right. (It’s ragged right, so do your best guess if you are not using FINAL DRAFT or MOVIE MAGIC SCREENWRITER formatting software.)
Screenplays are ALWAYS in the present tense.
A slug line is: INT. LOCATION – DAY It can be INT. (interior) or EXT. (exterior), any location you choose, one dash or two (just be consistent throughout your script), and DAY or NIGHT (since the camera only knows light or dark; if you need sunrise, mention something tangible that can depict sunrise in your action line—a ROOSTER’S CROW, an alarm clock’s BEEP, etc.).
There is a ton more to learn, but that’s a quick taste that I’ll let you savor until next week (or so). A good, solid formatting book that I require of all my screenwriting students is Paul Argentini’s “Elements of Style for Screenwriters, First Edition,” which is available at Amazon dot com for about ten dollars or so. Buy it if you’re interested in this field. And read it once. Then refer to it over and over again.
I’ll be back as soon as I can with more. Sorry, but I have a few more pages to cut from my latest rewrite of a feature-length screenplay. J