I AM STILL ALIVE!

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Hi everyone, thanks for stopping by and continuing to visit my blog! I am in the process of winding down projects at the moment to keep up with my lofty new year’s resolutions, (hence the lack of posts)but should be back with something more substantial next week on where I am at as well as any other interesting writing thoughts that come my way.

All things considered, this is the longest period I have actually been away from the blog since I first started… but it’s all for a good cause and it’s encouraging to know that you all still check!  Anyhow, keep writing and look forward to connecting with you all through the blogosphere next week hopefully!

MY NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS!

2013 has been a very interesting and eventful year for me:

It’s the first year I decided to become a part of the online writing community by writing a blog.

The first time our family got a dog.

The first time I decided to fully dip into some serious screenwriting full-time and juggle several projects at once. Frankly, it’s been one hell of a year and I have to thank God… for not only for helping me with everything along the way – but also for my wonderful spouse and family who continue to put up with me and my passion – even when it all got tiresome and cranky.

So, without further ado, here are my goals for 2014:

• Complete three spec scripts.

• Prep and write three more on the side.

• Along with the sheer pleasure of winding down a few stories I am passionate about, ACTUALLY stifle my nerves and aim for sales and representation! (AAH! I just said it – scary!)

And finally –  another great blessing I had this year through this blog and other connections is the opportunity to meet some mighty talented writers and be inspired by them.  So along with the other goals, I would like to continue those relationships… along with establishing some  new ones.

Whether I achieve my goals this year remains to be seen, but one thing I am certain of… I will do my best! HAPPY 2014!!

Blackouts, Christmas and Saving Mr. Banks!

Hey all,

Haven’t been able to post for a while but a belated ‘Merry Christmas’ to everyone! Particularly those who take the time to read my humble blog, a huge ‘thank you’ from the bottom of my heart! There were several reasons I haven’t been able to post anything for a while, the biggest one being that we experienced a major blackout in Toronto (curious? read about it here). While for some people it lasted a mere few hours, for us, it lasted six days (YUP!), basically turning our house into an icebox. Long story short, our Christmas was basically spent at a Hotel – so no Christmas tree and breaking the eggnog this year:(

However, it wasn’t all bad though – we did manage to catch the last show of Saving Mr.Banks after the kids fell asleep (trust a movie to make a winded week slightly better). Managed to read the script a while back and have been following it ever since, so it was a treat to see how those words on the page turned into onscreen magic. The backgrounds, visuals and casting were fantastic – Tom Hanks did an excellent job as the effervescent animation giant Walt Disney and Emma Thompson did justice to the fairly complicated character and anti-hero, PL Travers.

Some quick notables:
• The transitions from past to present were seamless (even in the script, aka. the term FLASHBACK was not used even though there were several). Writer Kelly Marcel did a fantastic job making this happen.

• PL Travers (played By Emma Thompson) is an intriguing, multi-layered protagonist. While at first glance her negativity does come off quite irritating (which in real life she apparently was – even Emma Thompson had a hard time listening to her old interviews), her backstory and her relationship with Walt thaws her enough to make us  – if not, root for her, at least understand and sympathize with her.

• While some parts might seem saccharine, the dialogue was still very spot-on and complemented the story with some darker themes – touching on circumstances of alcoholism, poverty, neglect and ultimately tragedy as well.  So whether light and magic at Disney land prevails is a journey worth seeing and exploring.

• The subplots were all supported by excellent well-developed characters. Specific ones of note: young Ginty with her father (played by the charming Annie Rose Buckley and Colin Farrell), PL and Walt (the main subplot – formidable giants, powerful in their own right who actually still manage to have something in common despite their differences), PL and Ralph (played by the wonderful Paul Giamatti) a character it turns out was added in later drafts to give PL some added heart and humanity (certainly a good thing considering how annoying PL’s character would get otherwise), the incredibly talented Sherman Brothers (who also bring some wonderful comic relief to the story when it needs) –  and finally something not mentioned as much – the relationship between Ginty and her brokenhearted mother (played by newcomer Ruth Wilson) a subplot in my opinion, almost as powerful and complicated as Ginty with her father.

• While some may crib about historical and character accuracies, namely the ending which I am not going to spoil, I tend to focus more on the effect the characters had on the story and me – and certain parts were emotional enough to bring tears into my eyes… without leaving me too depressed (considering everything else this week).

To conclude, ‘Mary Poppins’ was also one of my first early childhood forays, a classic I have nothing but fond memories of  – so for those fans of the 1964 original, this movie is not only great in shedding light on the events behind it, but will also make you rethink the original – in a good way. So either way – certainly worth heading into theatres to watch.

Next week: New Year and resolutions!

Screenwriting Review of ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ and Update!

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Hey everybody! Been busy writing a lot since I want to try and wrap a few more drafts before the end of the year (in other words going to have sporadic absences but I am around – just not posting as much!) Also in-between all that managed to watch ‘Catching Fire’ last night!

From a screenwriting point-of-view, nonstop heart pounding conflict, a great ensemble cast and a solid story made this adaptation far better than the book… not to mention I will always like ‘Movie’ Katniss more than ‘Book’ Katniss. My only gripe was not enough interactions between K and Peet (WHY NOT? Aren’t they the twi-hard generation couple in this franchise? Waay better than the BEJ love triangle…if you are not sure what BEJ is, here’s a hint: it’s another famous book-movie franchise we are all too familiar with)

Not much spoilers to give really – except in my humble non-expert opinion, it was a much more imaginative, improved version of the book. If I were writing a book and getting it made, these are the guys I would be honoured to work with. Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) and Michael Arndt (Toystory 3, Little Miss Sunshine and formerly Star-wars reboot fame) are two screenwriters at the top of their game – Lionsgate certainly hired well! You can’t expect anything but the best from them.

Structurally flowed very well – no sleepy moment perhaps because ‘Catnip’ suffers throughout  – and any other actress would have made it obscene and want us to strangle her and put her on a lion’s dinner plate with all that whining, but Jennifer Lawrence pulls it all off with incredible grace and acting chops!  Not bad for an oscar winner and an all-around cool person!

I have a couple of fantasy stories I am working on right now and as a writer, once you fall in love with your characters, it’s hard sometimes to think about what would happen if you actually managed to pull off a production deal for your babies, especially when you think of all the misnomers and bad casting choices made by box-office-hungry studios in the past (a writer CAN fantasize, can’t they?)

That said, Suzanne Collins really lucked out! What’s better for an author than to have her books not only made into movies – but some of the better if not best book-movie adaptations currently out? While the books have their charm, no doubt, it’s incredibly gratifying to see how well the movies are turning out. Not to mention the incredible art direction and the costumes (Katniss as the ‘Mockingjay’! I almost peed!) Seriously awesome! Also accolades to Philip Seymour Hoffman for his wittily-engaging turn as ‘Plutarch’, the always flawless Stanley Tucci and Josh Hutcherson’s incredibly likeable and engaging turn as attractor Peeta Melark. Another great surprise was Jenna Malone’s turn as Joanna, Katniss’ prickly ally – totally nailed the bitchy-complicated factor!

Either way, if you are debating watching it – even if you are not a fan of Hunger games, you gotta like this movie for its incredible production value! I came home afterwards all jazzed and inspired (and need I say – proud! High-five Simon and Michael! Fan adaptations are a pain and you killed it!!!)

In other less exciting news, two days ago, Toronto had its first snow,  so looks like a nice white Christmas ahead! I should be returning with a post or two in the next two weeks! Till then, feel to browse and look through my journal of entries or just catch up with me anytime in comments! Seriously if you are reading, just write and say ‘hi!’ Blogging can get lonely so hearing from the other end even if it’s just typing two words or saying ‘You know NOTHING – you SUCCKKKKKK!’, always a pleasure to make your acquaintance;)!

25 things for aspiring writers! Look what the cat dragged in…

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So after a long slog yesterday, I was doing my usual early-morning googly-fest and came across this article by author Chuck Wendig from his blog last year.

Refreshing, honest, hilarious and most of all – will ABSOLUTELY inspire your writing, so go READ it – not because I am telling you to but because all writers SHOULD!  I literally printed and have this posted on my wall right now! Enjoy!

UPDATE: I have taken off the ‘aspiring’ in my profile! Take that, you inner narco-pessimistic demon you!

First drafts and script lengths!

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Speaking of first drafts, here’s a common issue I have been getting into lately – script length. I know most of the time we don’t worry about that in a first draft… just get the damn thing done right?

But of late I am finding myself worrying about it – why? Having done a lot of first drafts and read quite a few just this year alone, amongst the things I am noting with them is that if they are starting to run short, (80 – 90 pages), there’s always some bit of story that’s undercooked. Most times, I have left this to sort out in the second draft… but let’s put it in perspective and think about the recommended page length of a script in its final stages. From what I am hearing out there, the lowest recommended script-page count is 95, highest 120, ideal: 100 – 110. There is no specific rule of thumb for this – but one thing I am already discovering on my own is that generally when my drafts go lower than 90 pages, there is something I haven’t done enough of. Usually it’s something in the prep stages.

This doesn’t mean that I layer my draft with unnecessary fondant – but as with this thought on go into the story a few days ago in response to a reader’s question: I tend to think of my first draft more now in terms of development – developing content worth exploring –   plot, characters, conflict, etc.

So in my case, as I am writing it, I am weaving back and forth – ALWAYS moving forward (not losing sight of the end) but also after some brainstorming, going back and adding things as I go, where I see fit. So far, this is working well.. and I am still on schedule!

A final note: while I don’t think it’s a good idea for everyone to see their first drafts this way (in terms of page count), I think keeping it in mind is not a make-it-or-break-it, but nevertheless, still a useful tool to know how well the overall story is developing and how much still needs to be developed.

How are your first drafts coming along? Drop me a line!