Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Oh, oh...the ice trucks cometh. 
Figures. The one day I have to drive this week.
Be safe, everyone.
Happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

“For sale: baby Shoes, never worn.”
--Ernest Hemingway

Please Join Us for 
A Free Stage Reading of
Four One-Act Plays
Penned by New Hampshire Playwrights
Donald Tongue, Lowell Williams,
John Sefel, & Dana Biscotti Myskowski
Sunday, Dec. 19, 2 p.m.
Greenroom of the
Adams Memorial Opera House
Derry, New Hampshire
Sponsored by theatre KAPOW
“According to legend, in 1923 Ernest Hemingway made a bet in a bar that he could write a complete and compelling story using just six words.  He then scribbled on a napkin the six words: "For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn."  With that, the legend goes, he won the bet and would later refer to that simple story as his greatest work.
“This season, theatre KAPOW will present four brand new short plays based on Hemingway’s powerful six-word story. … Staged readings in the fall will culminate in a workshop production in the spring.”

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Communing with Old Growth Trees as Old as Our Young Country
"The Lightning Bolt"
The tallest of the dozen or so old growth 

pines have lightning rods installed.
Joined my husband today on a hike through an Old Growth Forest Stand in nearby Bradford, New Hampshire. The pines are located on five state-owned acres just off Route 103; there's a parking area in a pull-off near the intersection that heads into downtown.
"Theodore," a name that
just seemed to fit this
pine, stands alone from
the rest of the trees.
When you visit,
say hi for me. 

A short trail takes hikers to a grouping of the first few trees where the tallest wears not just one, but two lightning-rod cables. Continuing further along the trail takes nature lovers to the corner of the property where the trail bends to the right and leads to what may be the largest of the trees. The lonely pine, separated as it is from the group, is also adorned with a lightning rod and cable that extends into the dirt at its roots. 

It's a beautiful spot along a lazy stream. An easy walk that would make an excellent hike for children and grandparents alike.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Granite SoFFA Launches!

And Lunches.

The four of us have a tendency to meet over food. Go figure. :)

And so we are planning the first *official* Granite SoFFA Social - the gathering of New Hampshire (and surrounding areas) Society of Female Film Artists (and of Female Film Lovers...oh, and of people [including males] who support or enjoy hanging out with female film artists!). It will be either Friday or Saturday evening of the NH Film Festival weekend. At Foobar in downtown Portsmouth, which is one of the many venues of the fabulous NH Film Festival. (Exact times and day TBA. Soon.)

The four of us chatted after a Red River Movie event featuring DEAF PERCEPTION (Awesome flick!) and MITO KIDS (Important and GREAT film!). A couple of us had, in the past decade or so, moved to New Hampshire and joined the Women in Film in New England group, but found that most of the events centered around Boston. And while we each of us managed to drive to Boston for a few of the events, we all craved the support of women in film in our own state.

And so was born the idea for Granite SoFFA - the NH Society of Female Film Artists.

We're a group centered around fun. And commiseration. And an understanding of what it takes to pursue this line of "work" (or volunteer gigs) that we love so much. And we hope that others will feel as compelled as we do to hang out together occasionally - to share, to bitch, to boast, to laugh, to drink, to eat, to connect....

And over the next few years, stars willing, maybe we'll all be working together on each other's films. Because that's where we're most at home, isn't it? On set and in the theatre. We can dream, can't we? So why not dream BIG!

Hope you'll join us for a Social gathering of the Granite SoFFA soon. And share your thoughts in the meantime. Be well. And may you enjoy the movies!

Friday, September 17, 2010

I'm stressed. You only have to enter my house to know that. The smells of barbeque chicken in the crockpot are enough to make even a vegetarian salivate. I can't help myself. I cook when I'm stressed. I don't eat though, so my family will have to take care of that part of the equation.

I have a second crockpot filled with root veges and I'm peeling potatoes for a vat of mashed (those I WILL eat).

I picked a bushel of apples with my daughter this morning that will become numerous canned jars of applesauce, a couple pies, and an apple cake. I have pie pumpkins that look adorable on my windowsill, but which will not escape my wrath as I seek to chop, squish, and puree the life out of as many foods as possible today.

And I'm planning a pork loin for tomorrow, which I will begin by marinading today.

Then there's the ice cream. I love making ice cream, but when I'm stressed I especially like it. Of course the electric whirring of the blade isn't nearly as satisfying as the hand crank I get to help with when visiting friends at their camp north of the lakes region.

I'm brewing ginger green tea. Three pots. And coffee, but I'll drink that as I work. And I noticed there might some more broccoli to harvest. Maybe I'll make a wholewheat pizza with that and my spices that are overgrowing the garden beds this time of year.

Of course, no stress-induced cooking would be complete without a chocolate yummy or two. And my ricer is available; perhaps I'll cook up a batch of brown rice for rice pudding later in the weekend. Or I could pair it with the frozen shrimp I've been saving for a special occasion (I think this counts).

Did I mention I'm stressed? I hope to be exhausted later. Otherwise I may be cooking long after the sun goes down.

Monday, September 06, 2010

You know it's almost autumn when...
I'm making the first applesauce of the season. And we picked our first ripe pumpkins. The squash is almost gone. The yellow finches are losing their brilliant mating hue. The chickadees are stopping by our feeders on their way south. The geese congregate in the nearby fields and ponds as they, too, wing toward warmer winter climates. And...we return to school.

It's the end of an awesome long holiday weekend. And the end to summer. Bittersweet perhaps, but the sweet scent of cinnamon and apples is worth celebrating.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Weird. For about a month and a half I could not add a new blog post to this, my original blog. Now that I can, I am faced with the question: do I remove Poetry in Motion Pictures, Take Two, or do I finally launch my "How to Write Screenplays" blog at my Take Two site, and reserve this blog for posts of a more varied nature?

And in asking the question, I've answered it.

So as of this moment, right now, (and hoping, trusting that I can continue to post new blogs on this original site) I officially announce to all two of my readers that Poetry in Motion Pictures [the original] is my personal blog site, while Poetry in Motion Pictures, Take Two, shall be my "How to Write Screenplays" site.

And while you may be asking yourself why you're still reading this rather redundant post, you can thank the ever-changing role of the internet in my life (in all our lives, perhaps) and a small book by David Meerman Scott that I use in teaching my Media Writing classes at the University of New Hampshire: The New Rules of Marketing & PR. If you haven't read it yet, do yourself a favor and read it. Soon.

Friday, June 25, 2010

World Cup Workout

Who can run a solid half without even stopping to nurse a bruised ego…uh, I mean shin? I can. Who’s surprised by this? My friends & family, I’m certain. But also me.

I have been addicted to this football not-so-American that has united the rest of the globe (except maybe France & Italy). So today as I prepared to head outside for a jog, trying to convince myself that I could live without seeing the result of the Brazil-Portugal match, I found myself procrastinating inside: one more set of pushups, another set of running on the stairs, a few more stretches. Until finally the second half erupted. And it hit me: there are NO fat footballers (unless you count several of the Football Americans).

As I regarded the inches I can easily pinch in the mirror that is so not my friend, I decided to challenge myself: could I run in place for a solid 45 minutes, plus whatever time the refs added to the clock?

I am happy to report I did it. Fifty minutes. In place. While also yelling at the television (my son will corroborate this), which was muted since I only get the Spanish channel during these games (shame on you, ESPN*, for not gracing the cheapest of us with seeing the games via our cable “providers”). Paul Simon’s Graceland and a little Metallica kept me running the “distance.” And engrossed as I was in the game, I hardly noticed the clock. (Well, that last part might be a wee bit of a lie.)

And so I have my new workout routine. Until July 11. After that I guess I’ll have to return to the trail. Or maybe I’ll give the pitch a go. As long as you promise not to laugh.

* But thank you, ESPN, for making it possible to stream the English version on my Mac.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Interns – Now & This Fall Semester

Though summer session has already begun at UNH, I am suddenly in need of a screenwriting intern to help me read & evaluate screenplays for the New Hampshire Film Festival Annual Screenplay Competition. One or two interns needed. All on-line work, no commuting necessary. Three to four credits. Screenwriting experience necessary. You may be able to assist with a two-day youth screenwriting workshop in early July too, if you're interested.

This Fall I am looking for an Assistant to help with numerous events. We can tailor the internship to your needs and interests, ranging from reading and evaluating screenplays to assisting in leading playwriting and directing workshops. I also need someone interested in helping with on-line marketing of the various events. Four credits. Combination of face-to-face meeting time and on-line assignments. Prefer someone who has taken both my Screenwriting and Media Writing courses, but am willing to work with a Media Writing student who has not studied screenwriting.

If you’re interested in applying, contact me at or contact the internship coordinators at UNH-Manchester.

Photo above taken during taping of "To the Power of YOU" this past winter.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Flowers

Pawprints on our hearts . . .
We bid farewell to our lil' elfin doggie (the half-sized Norwegian Elkhound) as he returned to his owner's family this week. It was an unexpected interruption in what we thought was a doggie adoption process, but we're getting adjusted to the quieter and furless lifestyle, even if we're sad to see him go.

I feel like there are at least one or two lessons to be learned and perhaps even shared, but for now I'm just happy that we were able to provide a temporary home to "My Buddy" (as I came to call Zhanka) these past few months. His short stay with us has left an indelible mark upon us all; his cheerful demeanor was a welcome respite to our cold New England winter and soggy spring.

Thanks to all the animals in our lives--past, present, and future.


Monday, May 03, 2010

A Tweachable Moment?

I'm taking my Media Writing Students to a Seminar on Launching Your Career with Twitter. None of them regularly Tweet (am I supposed to capitalize that?), so we will be in the computer lab the following week signing up for Twitter accounts and Tweeting with the @VistaPrint guy in a Tweet Chat Room (until a couple weeks ago when he suggested this option for meeting with my students, I had no idea this was possible).

But am I buying into our overly plugged-in society too eagerly? I feel like a pusher.... And it's making me second-guess my plan for the fall semester. I'm thinking of requiring all my Media Writing students to sign-up for a Twitter account at the beginning of the semester, so they can practice using the uber short method of marketing communications during their 15-week tenure with me.

My students currently blog. It began a handful of semesters ago as a last class of the term assignment. It soon became a first class assignment, with weekly blog posts and comments to classmates' blogs due regularly.  As a writer, blogging is a great way to practice your skills. As a professor, it's a fabulous tool for tracking the progress of your student writers.

But Tweeting--I'm not so sure that's necessary.

I'm a newbie to the Tweet scene. And like an addict's first taste of a powerful, mind-altering substance, I'm hooked. I Tweeted constant updates at our town's absurdly long and mind-numbingly tedious town meeting. I Tweeted as my husband and I drove to Red River Theatres last week, and later as we left after seeing the incredible GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATOO. I Tweeted when I was tired of having my floors torn up during our recent home make-over. And I Tweeted when I nearly stepped on a sizable serpent out sunning itself in the woods path where I was running with my dog.

And the responses to my Tweets? Since they are automatically uploaded to Facebook, a surprisingly high number of friends respond to my thoughts and commiserate with me during other harrowing snake-like incidents. 

But in the Twitter world I've been surprised at how one word or phrase woven into my update can spark someone to follow me.  I gained a follower in the "Work from Home" crowd when I happened to mention how much I was enjoying working at home while my car was in the shop. And a local reporter began following me during one of my moments of citizen activism. Meanwhile a do-it-yourself site tagged along after my first update on our home's progress.

So is Tweeting a necessity to furthering your career and/or your business? Or is it a procrastination tool for the terminally chatty?  I'm hoping my friends and colleagues in my Social Community Space can help me find the answer; in fact, you can bet I'll be Tweeting about it.

(Photo above of a chalkboard drawing by Leo for some of the B-Roll footage of the Boys & Girls Video we've been working on.)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Extreme Spring Cleaning
It's Home Make-Over Edition at the Myskowski Abode. We went from 30+ year-old hideous red carpet and disgustingly grotty vinyl to bamboo floors and tile, thanks to help from our kids and our daughter's extremely industrious and talented boyfriend.

Next step: hanging artwork. Then taking it back down so my daughter can paint the walls while she's on summer vacation.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Maybe it's time I updated my blog....
Been scouting locations for possible shoot of the Boys & Girls Club Video that I am co-producing with Carol Morse of the Club, and with Director/Producer Adam Jones, Creative Director Mary-Catherine Jones, and Director of Photography Kent Rich.

We're interviewing an incredible young man who has grown up in the club and who now, in his senior year of high school, is a mentor to the younger kids. I had no idea how much the Boys & Girls Club helps young people in our communities. From homework clubs to field trips, movie afternoons to games, computer time to friend time, and much more, the Boys & Girls Clubs of our communities are providing safe and comfortable places for kids to hang out when school is not in session.

More about the clubs later, as I learn more in this process. Am off to see if we have a Monday shooting schedule forming for all parties now....

(Photo above via phone by Carol Morse; it's of a room in Red Blazer Restaurant, which is one of many possible locations we're considering shooting.)

Monday, March 22, 2010

An open Letter to my State Representatives:

As you’ve probably seen in today’s House Calendar, HB 1664-FN is scheduled for 3/24. The language reads that it OUGHT TO PASS WITH AMENDMENT.

Further in the short write-up, Rep. Marjorie K Smith for Finance, notes, “We tried to have the burden of these cuts shared by everyone in order to minimize the impact on any one group.”

However, the Finance Committee has unanimously adopted a bill that allocates exactly $0 to the NH Film Commission.  Apparently the Finance Committee chose to “minimize the impact on any one group” EXCEPT the NH Film Commission.

I implore you to amend HB 1664; keep the NH Film Commission operational in 2011 and beyond.

I am not even asking for you to reinstate the entire operating budget; indeed, you could easily adopt the cuts already made by the Film Commission’s Department Head in response to the Governor & Executive Council’s request.

Simply cut Line Item HB 1664, #102 - Contracts for program services [$10,300]. This would reduce the NH Film Commission’s operating budget from $113, 221 to $102,921.

If an additional cut needs to be made, perhaps you could make it to item #069 - Promotional - Marketing Expenses [$10,000].  If the House were to reduce the marketing budget by $2922, the resulting final budget to the NH Film Commission would be only $99,999.

Thank you for your help in “minimizing the impact to any one group” by keeping the NH Film Commission operating in the next fiscal year.

Dana Biscotti Myskowski
Henniker, NH Resident

Sunday, March 21, 2010

An open letter to our State Representatives and Speaker Norelli:

It has come to my attention that House Bill 1664 is apparently attempting to circumvent the Governor & Executive Council’s Constitutionally-mandated authority to balance the budget.

The Governor and Executive Council have been working with Department Heads to make deep cuts in their budgets, including that of the one-person NH Film & Television Office. Yet despite the work of the NH Film & Television Office to comply with the Governor’s request to cut two percent from the current spring budget and an additional eight percent from the next fiscal year budget, the House Finance Committee has disregarded this effort and has slated the closure of the NH Film & Television Office in House Bill 1664, which is scheduled to go to the floor Wednesday, March 24.

I implore you, our State Representatives, to either vote NO on HB 1664 or to amend it so that the State’s Film & Television Office’s $113,000 budget is not eliminated.

Please keep in mind that for every dollar spent during last year, $9.22 was realized in revenue to the NH economy. A Return On Investment (R.O.I.) of 9.22 to 1; why would anyone cut funds that bring real income to New Hampshire’s taxpayers, and which helps raise direct revenue via the state’s rooms and meals taxes and via tolls?

I look forward to your support in helping to save the NH Film & Television Office.

Thank you,
Dana Biscotti Myskowski
Henniker, NH resident, voter, & taxpayer

Friday, March 19, 2010

A FABULOUS letter sent to our legislators by Director Adam Jones; thanks, Adam, for sharing this!
Please, everyone: write your state legislator today; or if you are out of state & have had a good experience with NH film projects, write our Governor and the Speaker of the NH House. Thank you!

Hello Beth and Harold,

I am a director of TV Commercials and branded content as well as shorts and music videos who shoots throughout North America, and I am a resident of Henniker. I am professionally based in New York City but have recently just shot my first project here in New Hampshire.

I was astounded to see that doing away with the NH Film Commission is on the table to SAVE money. The paltry $113k being spent on this organization brings in $9.22 to our NH economy for every $1 of its budget. The average budget of a single production for me through post-production is around $100-250k spent on vendors, equipment, crew, food, accommodations, permitting, location fees, etc.

Without the Film Commission an out-of-state production company has NO POINT PERSON to even consider shooting up here.

Of course we are all feeling the impact of this economy, so I won't mention the artistic and creative endeavors that the Film Commission promotes (HINT: creativity and art attract young adults while younger families and professionals are LEAVING NH for a lack of this). Having produced shoots in New York and Mass as well as Louisiana and Texas, I can tell you that those states have brought in millions by attracting Film Production with incentives and management. New Hampshire brought in over $1 Million in production dollars to the state economy last year, and that was a BAD year...

So, I'd simply implore that while I've just witnessed my kids’ enrichment and art teachers stricken from the school budget, the Film Commission actually has a quantitative ROI that can be measured.

Again, $9.22 dollars for every $1 dollar spent. Abolishing this office is beyond 'penny-wise and pound-foolish', it's financially unintelligent.

Please consider this and keep the Film Commission.

Feel free to contact me to discuss.

Adam Jones
Save our Film Office!
An open letter to New Hampshire State Legislators:

I’m writing today to ask for your help.  House Bill 1664 threatens to close the one-person State Film Office.  It’s an office that I can’t live or work without. It has introduced me to other filmmakers in the state, which has lead to productions such as the Public Service Announcement (PSA) that I produced for Big Sisters of Rhode Island in a Providence, RI, 7DayPSA competition. We shot the piece at the Concord Boys and Girls Club with the help of state filmmakers, including a last-second assist from Matthew Newton of the NH Film Office who helped find us a sound system when ours failed.

The all-volunteer effort included the help of more than 80 individuals and brought more than 40 actresses from around New England to Concord, NH. Though it was only a one-day shoot, we contributed to the state’s bottom-line in local coffee and sandwich sales and in toll revenue from the actors who drove up from Boston and Providence.  I am proud to report that our PSA took first place, is airing in Rhode Island, and is being nominated for an Emmy Award.

Moreover, during the project our director, a New Hampshire resident who normally works out of his New York City office, met the CEO of Hatchling Studios in Portsmouth who served as our editor. The following week the two of them, plus another New Hampshire cameraman, drove to New York City for a day of shooting and then returned to New Hampshire to edit the ad campaign for the popular men’s fragrance Axe.

The Axe project exemplifies how the NH Film Office has brought together filmmakers, which has led to work in the state. The editing would have normally taken place in NYC, but instead it happened in Portsmouth, NH. All because a one-man office has brought together filmmakers on a quarterly basis to meet each other, discuss projects, and brainstorm future productions.

As a part-time professor at UNH-Manchester I have also been able to send many interns through the office. Several of them now work in jobs that are closely related to the film and television industry.

The one-person State Film Office represents an extremely minor portion of the overall state budget, yet it is crucial to the filmmakers who call New Hampshire home. It is also vital to the bottom-line in this state, bringing in documented revenue each year (see stats at the end of this note).

Please help us amend the bill and save the State’s Film Office, a gem in this great state of ours.

Thank you,

Some important facts about the New Hampshire Film & Television Office:

1.             From July 2008 to June 2009, the New Hampshire Film & Television Office helped bring in an estimated total production spend of just over $1,000,000 into New Hampshire. That's $9.22 for every $1 spent to fund the New Hampshire Film & Television Office. (This is a conservative estimate and does not apply any kind of economic impact multiplier.)
2.            In 2000, the New Hampshire Film & Television Office Production Directory listed 46 production companies doing business in the state. In 2010, our directory currently lists 100 production companies, up from 46 in 2000 - an increase of 117%.
3.            There are currently 438 professional media production individuals and companies listed in our directory - taxpayers who are currently being served by the New Hampshire Film & Television Office.
4.            During Fiscal Year 2009, the New Hampshire Film & Television Office responded to 104 production-related inquiries.
An additional note:
The NH Film Office is slated to help me and Red River Theatres bring the 7DayPSA competition to New Hampshire this fall. It will pair volunteer filmmakers with worthy Granite-state charitable organizations that might not otherwise be able to afford to create a Public Service Campaign. The winning PSAs will air on WMUR for a year after the October Awards Ceremony held at Red River Theatres.  This competition might not be possible without the help and support of the NH Film Office; please keep this vital resource open for the state’s filmmakers.
Thank you.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

We did it!
Thanks to everyone who had a hand in helping us bring home the prizes!  And also to each of you who has wished us well and supported us throughout this project.

It was a heck of a ride -- especially the drive home yesterday, which began at 5:00 a.m. from Providence and finally saw me cross the New Hampshire state border about 11:00 a.m.  Six hours to travel what normally takes me about, uh, er, much faster then that. (Can the state police give me a speeding ticket if I post how fast it usually takes me to drive that distance?)

Feel free to surf over to our Smoky Quartz blog to see the run down on all the prizes -- including the top one: "Best Public Service Announcement."  While our spot can't quite yet be seen on the web, it will begin airing in the Rhode Island market next week.  We'll post the link as soon as it's ready.

For an even more in-depth report of how the team came together, see the News Release at the NH Film & Television Office blog.


Tuesday, February 09, 2010

"Drag" a micro-fictionalized, recast excerpt of the screenplay adaptation PLOWING UP A SNAKE 

"Drag" by Artist Lisa Rae Winant
Image used by permission of the Artist
11 x 17.5/oil on panel

It's an early-autumn day like any other in upstate New Hampshire: chilly, breezy, and fragrant.  Well, fragrant if you happen to enjoy the scent of wood smoke billowing from every chimney in the village.

"You don't smoke," Clay admonishes his cousin's widow.

"Not those stale, nasty cigarettes Hatch likes," Marjorie responds.  "But a smooth, carefully hand-rolled cigar..."  She pauses as she takes a drag, " like the gentle caress of an accomplished lover."

A corner of Clay's mouth rises, though in truth he's uncomfortable hearing a woman speak so bluntly, so seductively.  It is, after all, the mid 1950s and Clay's been a one-woman man in a small town all these years.  Until now.  But what’s adultery stacked up against the multiple murders that have recently plagued this sleepy hamlet?

He settles back into his chair and swallows his scotch--nearly choking on it.  As he struggles for air, he manages to sputter, "Soda...there's no soda in it."

"There's supposed to be soda in it?" Marjorie asks.

Clay wonders if she's hurt by his reaction.  Guessing she is, he says, "No, no.  Scotch this good doesn't need soda."  He sips gingerly the second time around.

And as he and Marjorie settle into their coy game, outside the razor-thin windows the first snow begins to fall, bringing with it an appearance of unearned innocence and silence echoing the eternal silence that has already frozen their river-bound valley town.

(A micro-fictionalized, recast excerpt of the screenplay PLOWING UP A SNAKE, an adaptation by Dana Biscotti Myskowski of Merle Drown's novel of the same name.)

Sunday, February 07, 2010

micro-fiction by dana biscotti myskowski
"Untitled" by Lisa Rae Winant, 28x12 oil on panel, used by permission of the artist.

The blood-red convertible was cold to the touch.  She managed a smile for the cameras, but it was all fake.  She’d just won this car on some silly game show her friend had dragged her to.  She wished she could see him now, but even squinting didn’t work, she couldn’t see five feet beyond the stage, the lights were so bright. 

She loved him.  She wondered if he knew.  Didn’t matter. He was gay from birth.  That’s probably why she loved him so. No complications. Well besides his frequent feminine-like mood swings.  He was probably nursing a wounded ego even now—hurt that she’d been called down to be a contestant instead of him. 

Her fingernail caught on the side mirror and snapped.  She looked at the jagged edge that instantly returned her to her first road trip across the country with GG, her great grandmother who drove despite being nearly legally blind. 

It began as a blissful journey.  She, then only fourteen, had already reached her adult height and, sporting a full double-D, looked every bit the part of a university co-ed.  She enjoyed being mistaken for a college student whenever she told others she was a freshman.  Wearing the logo of the college that held her small town together helped too.  People were so quick to assume, never mind the warnings not too. 

Somewhere on the journey GG nicked a goat that had escaped a farmer’s barnyard, sending them skittering to a jolted stop, one wheel dangling above the chasm of a drainage ditch.  While the goat head butted the car in anger—or perhaps glee, she was never sure which—she and GG assessed their own wounds: a scratch for GG where an extra key had scraped her thigh, and a broken fingernail for her when her hand hit the dash at an odd angle.  It seemed only natural that she should drive the rest of the way.  GG never drove again.

But when more than a thousand miles later she struck the child who raced into the road, dashing from behind a taco truck while she checked her mascara—damn thick-lash lying bastards—GG never moved so fast, scrambling into the driver’s seat before anyone arrived.  They attended the funeral and flew home again.  Took a cab between local stops.

She climbed into the new car now, only because the Host insisted she should, but she knew she’d never drive the bloody car off the lot.  Maybe she could sign it over to her friend to make amends.

(Note: Micro-fiction is an assignment this week for my Media Writing Class, which is why I am publishing this story I wrote for last year's New Hampshire Writers' Project Literary Idol Competition.  I landed the coveted top spot; that's right, New Hampshire: I am your Literary Idol.  Feel free to bow...tee hee.)

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

It's a Wrap!
More than 40 Actors joined us for our afternoon/evening shoot for the 7DayPSA Competition.  Thanks to all the patient actors, moms, dads, and chaperones!

And a HUGE thank you to our incredibly talented crew.  Many folks asked how long we'd all been working together; when I looked at the clock to answer __X__ hours, people were surprised.

Also thank you to the Boys and Girls Club of Concord, which is where we shot.  The folks there are incredibly friendly and generous.  And the gym was a perfect set.

While I'm handing out shout outs, I want to say hello to a previously anonymous blog follower:  Hey, Allison!  Glad to hear you're stopping by occasionally.  Looking forward to meeting you one of these days!

Okay...back to my paperwork and backseat editing here at Hatchling Studios.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

We're Casting for 7DayPSA!
Non-union Actresses - Ages 7-15 AND 20-n-OVER* needed for On-camera for 7DAYPSA competition project shooting in New Hampshire, exact place TBA on Tuesday, February 2 (likely from 3-6 PM).  The winning public service announcements will be shown for one year on Rhode Island television stations and longer on the web site for Big Sisters of Rhode Island.  For more information on the competition, go to

*We need 10 to 25 PAIRS of Ethnically Diverse** younger actresses/older actresses (to represent Big Sisters/Little Sisters pairing groups).  

(Photo above of Dana and her daughter Abby wrapping presents for Project Santa at Jan's lawfirm.  Many families were helped this past December.)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Calling all screenwriters!

It's nearly here: Green Chair Reader -- the on-line review dedicated to the short screenplay.

More information soon.  For now, prepare to send me your best screenplay of five pages or fewer.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The best-selling HD Player (as known as Netflix Player by Roku) plays High Definition video and connects to surround sound audio.

Roku has ROCKED our house!
By Scriptwriting Prof from New Hampshire on 1/13/2010

4out of 5
Pros: Reliability, High quality picture, Built in Wi-Fi, Expands Viewing Opps, Great value, Compact, Easy to set up, Easy to use
Cons: Want more video choices, Wish Pandora ranTV off
Best Uses: Living room
Describe Yourself: Movie buff, Film Professor, Netflix fan
We have maybe 13 channels via our regular cable. Roku has turned our TV into a film and documentary haven. That Pandora is supported too was an unexpected bonus.

(What can I say?  I love the movies.  And now Roku and Netflix make them so easy to watch over my TV...saving me from having to unplug my laptop in my office and connect it to the TV in the living room.  Who knew life could be so simple?)

Poster above for the script reading was from 2008.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Write a Short Screenplay in 2010
Lesson Three:
Tag!  Your Character is it.

What's a tag?  It's the description of the character the first time he appears in a screenplay.  It's the one time in screenwriting that the writer is permitted to write details that will only be read by the actors and director.  Though if you've crafted your story correctly, the viewing audience will pick up on the characteristics that you outline in your tag.

What makes a good tag?  It's the spot-on definition of character traits.  Spoiled. Arrogant. Pissed at the world. Always in a hurry. Too good for mankind.  Everyone's friend.  Mild-mannered.  A doormat.

And what of looks?  Only tell us physical details if they are pertinent to what makes the character who she is.  For example, you might write: BRENDA DILLON (13), the tallest girl in the school and painfully aware of that fact.  She's also the best Center in the state of Nebraska, but that's hardly just compensation for the pain of always being the wallflower at junior high dances.

You wouldn't want to describe Brenda as six foot tall.  Why not?  What if the best actor for the part was five foot seven?  You don't want to force your casting director to choose a runner-up simply because the actor fits the height requirement.  This way you allow your casting director and production team to work together to make sure the supporting actors are shorter.  Remember: filmmaking is a collaborative process.

The best way to get a good feel for how to write tags is to read them in screenplays.  If they gave an award for best tag ever written, I'd argue loudly that it be granted to Mark Andrus, screenwriter of AS GOOD AS IT GETS, for his description of Melvin Udell (played by Jack Nicholson).  Melvin is described as:
"...well past 50, unliked, unloved, and unsettling.  A huge pain in the ass to everyone's he's ever met."
Now that's a tag an actor can sink his teeth into.  See the movie if you haven't already; you'll witness how the screenwriter, director, and actor brought Melvin to life exactly as the character was tagged.

An optional exercise today: use the photos to describe what kind of character is behind them.  I'll post my own ideas in a day or two.


Thursday, January 07, 2010

Write a Short Screenplay in 2010: Lesson Two
Dialogue: what's the big deal?

Bad dialogue annoys.  Good dialogue scoots by undetected.  Why is that?  Because if the dialogue's spot-on, it simply becomes another production tool in the film.  Keep in mind that filmmaking is a collaborative business, and part of that collaboration is making sure as writers we're providing solid material for our actors and directors to work with.

So what makes good dialogue good?  Or bad dialogue not so good?  Maybe we should visit our ol' pal Clint for the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly on the subject:

The good - well, duh, it flows.  It's short.  Or if it's an actor's wet dream of a monologue (think Oscar nominations, baby!), then it has both heart and heat.  And no extraneous additives to slow it down.

The bad - it's easier to identify the dialogue that doesn't work.  Perhaps it limps off the tongue like a piece of undercooked bacon, extra smarmy or with not enough contractions.  Or it states things on the nose -- point blank.  Saying what you mean is not all it's cracked up to be in the dialogue business.  Hints and allegations are much more alluring.

The ugly - it just doesn't sound like a good fit for the character.  Perhaps it's Tom Bosley trying his best to impersonate a downeast accent in MURDER SHE WROTE, which just comes off cheesy since no one in Maine sounds like he does.  Or maybe it's Tom Cruise using an American accent to play a German spy.  (Okay, that faux pas I fault the casting director for.)

So what can you do to help your dialogue succeed?  Listen to conversations around you all the time.  As I tell my students, since I have a more than slight hearing problem, if I can overhear a conversation, it is definitely not private.  Listen to how people talk to each other when they're angry, when they're in love, when they're enamored, frightened, excited, bored, etc.   How you speak to your mother is different than how you speak with your pals, which again is different from how you speak to a cop who's pulled you over for a traffic violation.  And how do you speak to the telemarketers? Or to the cashier at the local mini mart? (Do you speak to the cashier?)

Keep that in mind as your characters interact with each other.  In DEAD POETS SOCIETY (yes, I'm reaching back a bit, but it's a great film and should be enjoyed and studied by all film enthusiasts) the fellows speak freely with each other, but are formal and stilted when speaking with adults.  Even the adults speak more freely with each other than with their students.

A few additional notes I've picked up along the way:

- Avoid introductions when possible, or at least be brief and clever with them.
- Avoid writin' in accents.  They're god dern annoyin' to try to read in dialogue.  Instead, tag your character with the accent you want to hear: JOSIAH SMITH (34) Southern from tip to toe, as evidenced in his syrupy, Georgian speech.
- Avoid hello's and good byes.  Ever notice how characters on TV and in film answer the phone with a statement or a question and hang up before the good bye?  We even tend to do it more in our hectic everyday pace, especially with the advent of caller id.  "You got my money?" is a much more intriguing way to answer the phone then "Hello?"
- Write with contractions.  And idioms.  Unless your character is foreign and a stranger to our speech patterns (in which case your character may mix up common phrases).
- Keep your dialogue short and succinct.  We do not normally speak to each other in term-paper lengths.
- Keep your characters LISTENING to each other.  That means they should answer the question or comment that just preceded...not the one that was posed three sentences ago.
- Avoid the little lead-in words such as like, hey, look, well.  Unless your character is a Valley girl, like does not like belong, ya know?  If the dialogue naturally calls for such a throw-away word, the actor will use it deftly.

Okay, that's enough for today.  What are you waiting for?  Time to do some eavesdropping....

Okay. It's 2010.  Let's write a short screenplay together.

Now if I may presume you already have a premise of a story, here's how you begin:


It's ALL CAPPED and Flush Left, followed directly by the obligatory colon.

Below that line is a space, and below that is a slug line that tells us where we are and whether it's night or day:


INT. = Interior.  If we're outside, then you write EXT. for exterior.  The Office location just happens to be where I am currently sitting, but you would use your imagination to place your characters wherever they may be: on the MOON, in a SUBMARINE, in an APARTMENT, etc.  Then cap it off with DAY or NIGHT.  Not EARLY MORNING or DUSK or any of the countless other descriptions for NIGHT or DAY.  A camera operator once thanked me for sharing this bit of advice with a workshop crowd at a film festival; he said, "the camera only knows light or dark, so night or day is what we need to make sure we capture the image correctly."  If you must convey first thing in the morning, do so with a simple prop like a Rooster CROWING or an alarm clock or a newspaper being delivered or what have you.

Next comes the action description line.  Keep your lines brief, with few or no adjectives or adverbs. And yes, sentence fragments are acceptable. Sometimes even encouraged. Here's an example:

The bereft beauty, SCARLET (30s), typed in the stillness of a house asleep.  Her eyes struggled to remain open as her fingers kept pounding the wrong keys.

If there's dialogue to be written, well, that's just another thing entirely, isn't it?  We'll tackle dialogue tomorrow.  That should give you time to conjure up a couple characters and to place them in a story.  Hmm, character development.  Guess we'll need to tackle that one too, eh?  For now, focus on a strong protagonist (or hero of your story) and an equally powerful and completely opposite antagonist.  Give your protagonist a do-or-die goal to achieve.  And place your antagonist squarely in your protagonist's way.  And to make it REALLY compelling, keep in mind that to the antagonist, he or she is the protagonist of the story.  That means that BOTH characters should be well defined and three dimensional.  (General rules here; always general rules.  And, as with all rules, they are of course able to be broken.  But first you must know the rule before you can artfully break it to achieve your goals.)

Make me the antagonist of your little drama if you must.  But remember that I'll always be the protagonist from my own point of view.

Good night, all!