Saturday, February 28, 2009

End of Term One



 I am kicking back listening to Free Bird celebrating the end of term one. On deck for next term are classes such as: TV SPEC II, Script Genre: Crime, Dialogue, Basic tools and the one I am really looking forward to: Writing for Animation. It looks like a light load, but the reason is I'll have more writing to do on my own. For TV Spec I am paired with the head of the writing department, Michael Baser, so I have to be on top of my game. 

But this weekend I get to relax.  I am finishing up Andrew Horton's Laughing Out Loud while reading Clive Cussler's Trojan Odyssey at the bus/train stops. I am also watching CW's Reaper (Simple yet funny), Supernatural (Action, horror and a muscle car - it is filmed in Vancouver), It's always Sunny in Philadelphia (crude and hilarious), Two and  Half Men (the best one liners on TV), History Channel's City of the Underworld (A modern day Indiana Jones), and CBC's In Search Of Myths and Heroes (A modern day Alan Quartermain)  I seem to always have more than one iron in the fire.  Who wants to live a stress free life?  

And as promised here is my latest writing project. A twenty line poem for style class:


Two single people
Two busy streets
Two curious glances
Two numbers exchanged

Two nights later
Two place settings
Two opera tickets
Two enchanted hours

Two stubborn opinions
Two hours shouting
Two heartfelt apologies

Two golden bands
Two-car garage
Two golden retrievers
Two boys and a girl

Two coffee mugs
Two rocking chairs

Two head stones

Lately, I have been exploring Stanley Park, the pride of Vancouver. A thousand acre urban park, the largest city park in Canada and third in North America (it is 10% larger than Central Park). It is my escape.  The towering cedars drown out the city noise so I can relax. There is a bench overlooking a secluded lake where I can sit, watch the ducks swim by and brainstorm until the sun goes down. A little slice of home in the urban jungle. 

So until next time, take care an stay tuned...


Question of the Post:
What is the difference between Montage and Series of Shots?

Answer: They are similar because they are both multiple shots that progress the story. However, the difference is that a series of shot happens in one location, in or around the same time ala: a highlight reel (i.e. - Hoosiers: during the Championship game when Jimmy and the boys go on their scoring spree.)  Montage is a cluster of shots in different locations, at different times all linked thematically ala: a tale of love (i.e. - Casablanca during Rick's flashback when he and Ilsa met in Paris.)

Next post: the rule of three.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Play time is over...



My first term is winding down and I am gearing up to pitch three feature film ideas.  I am thinking one sci-fi/horror (Project Skylight - about seven survivors of a plane crash who must escape an island overrun with genetically enhanced insects), one thriller (One More Run: about a desperate, blue collar man who - in order to fund his wife's chemo treatments - enters a vicious cannonball run sponsored by a scrupulous Russian Mobster) and one drama (either AM 1450 - about a African American radio host in 1960 - or Spokane Man - about an affable old man in a 1930's retirement home who convinces a young journalist to go on a cross country trip to Wyoming in search of a cache hidden by Butch Cassidy). 

Earlier this week I pitched an episode idea for Two and a Half Men: 

Alan starts dating a sexy yet pale model that Charlie, Jake, Evelyn and Berta all think is a vampire. She 'works' nights at a hospital, she dreads the sunlight, hates garlic, wears gold not silver, and is a history buff... because she lived it? They confront Alan at a Halloween party (where the woman dresses the part) but Alan gets defensive and to prove she is not a vampire, he plans to stay the night at her basement apartment. Meanwhile, in order to impress a woman, Charlie pretends to be an animal rescue volunteer and takes in a stray 'cat', which actually is a raccoon and is now loose in his Malibu pad.  Left to his own devices, Alan ruins the relationship with the model in typical 'Alan fashion' while Charlie wins the heart of a woman for his valiant effort to rescue animals from the exterminator he called to eradicate the raccoon.

That was my one minute pitch.  Now I have to make a beat sheet (shortened outline) for the episode. Laura Doyle is the instructor for the TV Spec class, she worked on Early Edition, which was one of my favorite shows growing up.

In the last week my class has studied such films & TV Series as the Graduate, Legally Blond, About a boy, My Girl Friday, Barton Fink, Fargo, House, Grey's Anatomy, Casablanca, Battlestar Galactica, and Curse of the Black Pearl. We break down three act structure, inciting incidents and character arcs. So awesome!  Who knew, all those years I spent watching TV instead of doing my math would actually pay off:)

I also had to pitch a made up movie from a list of dummy log lines retrieved from a gag book. Here is what I ended up with: A NFL football player, realizes his passion for dance in a documentary narrated by James Earl Jones.  So I pitched an hour long documentary called: Dancing with the Star Wars featuring Warren Sapp.

On a personal note, I started running again. There are a few parks around my neighborhood (one with a nice pond) that are a great escape from the black top and concrete.  I can see the mountains from the Skytrain every morning, but it's not the same as Idaho. 

So there are the happenings for the week.  Take care and stay tuned...


Monday, February 9, 2009

Busy, busy, busy



This week has been pretty intense. I wrote a poem, formatted a short story into a screenplay, read, rewrote and read some more, created a game show for my group's Working Girl presentation, had to pitch a movie I loathed (The new Dukes of Hazzard movie with Jessica Simpson and Willie Nelson) as if I loved it, and I finished a character analysis of my protagonist and antagonist for the first screenplay I get to pitch at the end of next week. The general consensus is to pitch a sci-fi or a drama. They say comedy is a tough sell and action adventure scripts are too high priced for Canadian production companies.  And the 29's and 28's (those are the classes before me) said for your first feature you want to pick something that you are not emotionally attached to because it will be shredded in workshops for the next 8 weeks.

In my Biz Pitch class I am pitching a remake of an existing movie and a sequel to a movie that has never had one.  For the remake I chose Arachnophobia, I think Jack Black would be a great for the John Goodman character.  And I chose to do a sequel to the Tony Curtis, Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon hit Some Like it Hot. I call it  Some Like it Hotter:

Joe and Jerry's musical grand daughters - Michelle and Georgia - are on the run from a ruthless loan shark and have to dress as men and join a rock band on tour in Mexico to escape death.  The girls simultaneously and covertly court the same man, the handsome yet emotionally distressed lead singer, Carl Jones.  Soon Michelle finds herself living a duel existence pretending to be Michael, the drummer and Martina the Latin landowner in pursuit of Carl's real estate.  Georgia also finds herself in the crosshairs of a rich music woman, Salena Perez who wants to make George (Georgia) the lead singer of her own nightclub band.  But as soon as things start heating up romantically the loan shark and his goons close in.  Michelle and Georgia must make a choice, cut bait or sleep with the fishes.  

It's a new twist on an old story.

I found a basketball court out back in the alley to shoot on. However, after sinking a couple shots from outside something seemed fishy.  So I walked up to the rim and raised my hand. Then I took a step back and dunked the ball.  The rim is a little over 9' tall.  Dang it.  But the dunk made me feel good.

A couple of my classmates and I went to UBC (University of British Columbia) Thunderbirds basketball game on Saturday night.  That was awesome! They are 21-2 and rocked VFU by 20+. Now I am jazzed for the NBA all star game coming up on the 14th-15th of this month.

And now I have to do a rewrite for my Jim Reaper script and break down the structure of Legally Blond between the 60-75 minute mark before tomorrow.

Until next post, take care and stay tuned...


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Flu and the first assignment



I am in full on containment mode right now.  It seems I have contracted the same flu bug that has ravaged the writing department for the last week and a half.  So I have committed myself to lots of rest and fluids and am trying to stay awake for the big game today.  Cavs vs. the Pistons.  Lebron vs. AI.  It's a rematch of the 2007 Eastern Conference finals. New faces, same old rivalry. It should be epic! 

And I wanted to take the time to post my first assignment.  There were only two minor changes my Style Instructor wanted to see: One stronger verb and one shortened sentence.  The assignment was to create a story in three paragraphs using the traditional three act structure.  We needed a clear protagonist, an antagonist, an inciting incident, an all is lost moment and some type of resolution.  So here she is:

Ils ne passeront pas!
They will not pass!

2:24 p.m.
December 22, 1943
Ortona, Italy

Corporal Owen Dupree felt the burn in his chest before he heard the sharp staccato echo through the ruins of Ortona.  He staggered, dark blood oozing through his Van Doo uniform.  Lung shot.  A second Herman bullet slammed into Dupree's shoulder and spun him around.  He fell behind a crumbling church wall and landed beside a tear-streaked Italian woman.  She trembled with fear.  Her muddy loafer firmly committed to a German anti-personal land mine.

That however, was the second detail Dupree noticed.  The first being her fruitful figure.  He guessed she was six months along.  Maybe seven.  Bracing his back against the church wall, Dupree struggled to his feet.  He knew what needed to be done.  Bullets chewed through the bricks.  He cringed and inched his boot closer to the mine.  The Italian mother shook her head.  Speaking swiftly, she waved her arms urging Dupree not to attempt it.  He confidently slid his boot next to her, depressing the mine.  She shivered and looked into his eyes for assurance.  He nodded.  She trembled, hesitating.  Dupree squeezes her shoulder.  Gentle, but firm.  And with that, the mother closed her eyes and lifted her foot.

Nothing.  The woman exuberantly kissed Dupree's cheek, a tearful thank you.  Then she skirted the wall and slipped away.  Dupree adjusted his stance as a German officer barked orders.  Closer.  Within striking distance.  Dupree checked his magazine.  Ils marcheront ici.  Mais aucun plus.  Ils ne passeront pas!  With a breath of courage, Dupree spun around the wall and emptied his rifle.  Five Nazi's fell to the ground.  Dead.  The remaining three leveled their Mausers.  Dupree smirked, and then lifted his boot. 

* * * * * * * * *
Ils marcheront ici.  mais aucun plus.  Ils ne passeront pas! - Evil will march here.  But no further.  They will not pass!

Here is a little history behind the story.  Van Doo is a French Speaking arm of the Canadian Army founded in 1914 (originally called the 1st Canadian Division of the Canadian Expeditionary Force) to help the British in WWI.  During the onset of the war, most of the battalions being formed were English speaking, and this was not an oversight for at that time Canada was in the process of forbidding teaching French in schools, which was outrage.  In 1921, the battalion was called the 22nd Battalion and in 1928 the name was converted to French and deemed 'Royal 22e Battalion.'  Since then they have bravely served in every war including a current tour in Afghanistan. Van Doo is a corruption of vingt-deux, French for 22.

The battle of Ortona was one of the bloodiest campaigns for the Canadian forces.  In December 1943, the Highlanders (New Zealand's regiment) were outmanned and out gunned by the advancing German army.  The Canadian forces arrived (including the Van Doo) and helped turn the tides.  In bitter house to house fighting, and under constant threat of snipers, booby traps and land mines, the Canadian forces fought valiantly and helped push the Nazis out of town.  Van Doo Captain Paul Triquet's leadership, epitomized by his battle cry "Ils ne passeront pas" They will not pass, earned him a Victoria Cross.  The highest military decoration awarded for valor 'in the face of the enemy' to a member of the armed forced of British Provinces.   

There's some exposition for you.  Hope you enjoyed the story and stay tuned for more...