Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Christmas!

It's Christmas Eve and I've been awake since the dawn of time due to a cat's meow.

Happy holidays everyone. Hope that in addition to getting all the things you hope for, you are also blessed with a healthy dose of PEACE, which is something I am seeking this coming year. (Can one actively seek peace? Anyway, I'm going to try.)

Think I'll try getting a few more winks, too, before it's time to drive my son to the "mountain" for his first job; he began last week at Pats Peak working in their tubing park. Suddenly he's starting to see the compelling reasons to whip his grades into shape...I think. I can only hope.

Be well. Be merry. Be nice.


PS Just posted these thoughts at the Cinema Strikes Back website. Thought I'd share them here, since I am such a fan of the actor, director, and of the documentary:

CHAMPION is the tops! Not because it's a fascinating look at a compelling actor (which it is), nor because the direction is first rate (it's that, too), but because of the impact it's had on my fourteen-year-old son. Since seeing it in August CHAMPION has been on the top three of his favorite movie list. Danny Trejo provided inspiration in his revealing story about his struggle to survive in this bizarre world of ours; and Joe Eckardt's direction provided the fly on the wall view audiences seek, while capturing the true grit that is Trejo personified on the silver screen. My only recommendation is that The Film Emporium consider producing an edited PBS-documentary length. The tight 56:40 length would edit out the occasional redundancy and might help secure wide-spread distribution, which is what this documentary needs. All our teens need to see Trejo for the couragous hero he is.

Monday, December 05, 2005

This Lousy Book

Yes, this Lousy Book has, indeed, finally entered its final chapter. The remains unearthed in Ohio have been identified as those of Philip and Sarah (thank you David for your post).

Some have wondered how I became involved with this case. It all started with an exceptional young man, a talented and gifted actor, who showed up to audition for my short LEMONADE STAND. He amazed us -- me, and the two producers/directors. And continued to stun us with his incredible energy and enthusiasm, as well as his knack for memorizing the entire dialogue in a scene, not just his own.

One day, taking a break between shots, Philip asked me a question about something in the script that we'd be shooting the next day. I said I didn't know and would have to look it up. He was thunderstruck. "But you wrote it! How can you not know what happens next?" I told him as a writer I tended to write things down and clear my head for the next creative item to germinate and grow, and that as an actor it was his job to know and memorize his lines. "I'm just no good at memorization," I finally confessed.

I'm not sure the explanation ever sat right with him, though I did notice Philip paying attention to all the different jobs people performed on the set - the lighting, audio recording, directing - everyone had his or her job to do in order to pull the whole thing off. I think he was starting to see just how much a team effort the small video had become.

Later, somewhere down the road, I was called on by RachelFind to produce the Public Service Videos since they had found my name in a Google search; apparently there are numerous quotes of mine that the wire services had picked up after the children went missing. When Anne at RachelFind realized I was in radio and TV AND that I knew Teri, she figured she'd found her New England Producer. Even though my LA manager at the time had told me that producing was and is what I am meant to do, at that time I had never produced anything. Anne wasn't deterred. And even though I cried a release of tears, and wrestled with uncertainty as to whether or not I could handle my emotions and somehow figure out how to produce the segments, I said I would. And somehow I did - with the help of Teri, Shawn, and Anthony at WKXL.

My thoughts and prayers are still with Teri, her new husband, and their beautiful family, especially as they travel out to Ohio. Teri is one of the most remarkable people I've ever met. I don't know how she pushes on, and yet she does so with grace.

Thank you for stopping by. May you enjoy this holiday season.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Finally a closed chapter?

I just received a call that the New Hampshire Attorney General's office is holding a 3:30 press conference regarding the Gehring children. As we hold our collective breath to see whether their remains were finally recovered, we can tune into WKXL radio for a complete report.

For those of you who are not aware, WKXL generously donated their sound studio and audio editing expertise for a number of radio and video sound tracks for a series of Public Service Announcements (PSAs) that have been running all summer and fall in the Midewest markets. I was called on by the volunteer-supported Rachel Find organization to produce and write the series. My intern at the time, Shawn Laplante, edited the video PSAs, and Teri Knight (the children's mother) and I recorded the Voice Overs.

Let's hope and pray that this is a story that can finally have a resolute ending for Teri and her family.

Thank you for stopping in.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A quick blog....

I am aware I have been away for a spell. To be honest I may have to pull the blog and put it up on a shelf for a couple years as grad school quickly approaches, and the rest of my life refuses to slow down.

In the meantime, as I [finally] complete the revisions to my "Poetry in Motion Pictures: The Art of the Cinematic Short" book proposal, it occurred to me that the timing couldn't be more perfect to hear those tireless family tales recounted year after year around the Thanksgiving table. Which tales will you hear again? Please share them, if you feel so compelled, after the holidays. Or before if you are planning your annual telling of an oft recounted family story.

I'll see you on the flip side of the holiday. I'm hosting again this pardon me as I excuse myself to the kitchen for the next three days.

Rent HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS for a fun look at someone else's dysfunctional Thanksgiving gathering. It's a hoot.

And thanks for stopping by.


PS What are you thankful for? Me? Family, friends, pets, good health, and words.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Where do Stories Come From?

How do we dive into the process of writing a short script?

Let's start at the beginning: the story. Where do we get ideas for our tales?

From stories passed down from generation to generation, to that stupid thing you did as a teen, we all have them - stories that entertain and amuse others. Some can and should be recorded for all eternity; ultimately those few gems may be spun into a short screenplay.

Where else can short scripts stem from? Short stories, poems, a seed of an idea, musical lyrics, even story-style jokes. I've written short scripts that sprouted from a family tale, from a seed of an idea, from a character I think I know, and from a poem. Anything that can evoke an image may have the ability to be spun into an entertaining script. Or at least serve as a jumping off point to another great script.

In my Introductory Screenwriting Course I ask each student to tell a story - one that has been handed down from generation to generation, or one that is recounted every time the same group of friends gets together. It's a fun exercise and a good way to open yourself up to the endless possibilities that may be turned into that next great short script.

Try it now, if you're game. Jot down a story that you have found amusing for a spell - or that your family has found humorous, even if it's at your expense. Feel free to share it here, if you like. I'll do the same later this week.

Thanks for stopping by.


Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Art of Writing the Short Script

Short Scripts. Why write them? And how short is short?

I teach the Art of Writing the Short Screenplay both as an introductory to scriptwriting course at the University of New Hampshire-Manchester, and as a workshop at Film Festivals, Writer's Groups, what have you.... By learning the short form screenplay, we can begin to gain an understanding of their feature film-length grown-up cousins.

In my teachings, short scripts maintain three act structure, plus they incorporate all the formatting issues that a screenwriter must learn to pen that next Academy winning film: FADE IN, FADE OUT, INT./EXT., all these elements are just as important to short scripts as they are to feature screenplays.

In fact, a short script could garner Academy attention. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences recognizes any short film under forty minutes that has qualified for a nomination. Personally, I would classify any film of about 89 minutes or shorter as a short film, but we're each entitled to our opinion.

Short scripts can run less than one page, too. Consider that one page roughly equates to one minute of film time, and then consider that many commercials run less than a minute, some even top out at 15 or 30 seconds long.

So short scripts can be an excellent tool to learning the screenwriting craft. And a polished short script can serve as a calling card, especially if that short script has won an award, or - perhaps even better - if that short script is shot, resulting in a possible Oscar contending film, and a fabulous calling card.

Speaking of short, in an attempt to keep my posts both frequent and brief, I shall end for now...and promise a follow-up. Those of you who know me from workshops and classes can verify that yes, indeed, there will be more to follow. Much more.

Thanks for stopping by.

Dana Biscotti Myskowski
Award Winning Screenwriter & Script Consultant