Complications Ensue: The Crafty TV and Screenwriting Blog
Complications Ensue:
The Crafty TV and Screenwriting Blog



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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

In my book I say a movie is a short story, not a novel. I also say it's a simple story. Walter Lee of Sydney, Australia asks: how simple?

I was going to ask "how long is a piece of string?" but I realized that I actually can answer this question, a couple of ways:

Beats: In my experience, a movie is between forty five and sixty steps or "beats." A beat is a unit of storytelling in which something happens. It could be a fight, a revelation, a chase, an argument, etc. In my experience a beat usually becomes a two page scene; longer scenes usually have a dramatic turn of some kind within them where something new happens and you're into a second beat without ending the scene. These days I find I'm writing more compressed scenes, so practically, sixty beats winds up giving me a script of about a hundred pages. Your studio-oriented scripts probably tend towards 120+ pages with two-minute scenes, and once the director gets on board they swell to 130+ pages, but I like to shoot for 100 pages and I rarely consider a script polished that is over 110.

My last script had 58 steps. The rough draft came in at 127 pages (ack!), the first draft came in at 115, and the second draft is 97 pages. Which is the perfect length for a comedy, according to Woody Allen.

Memory: A more organic way to tell if your story is the right length is to tell it out loud -- which you should do anyway. If you can tell your entire story, beat by beat, in between five and ten minutes, it's the right length. Shorter than that and it's either too short, or you're describing the story rather than telling it. Longer than that and you're either fleshing out the scenes too much in the telling, or your story is too involved. Also, if you've told it a bunch of times and you can't remember every beat, it's likely too complicated.

That said, if you know what you're doing, you can break these rules, but that's true about any screenwriting "rules".

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John Rogers just posted a very satisfying review of Crafty TV Writing. If you're still on the fence about buying my darn book, check it out.

Thanks, John!

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Monday, October 30, 2006

Q. You mention using the internet to find out how to contact people and I was wondering what is the proper way to contact people who I heard giving lectures at the Screenwriting Expo? I don’t want to ask for a job or for them to read my script, I just wish to thank them and ask them follow-up questions. Is it better to go through their agent or the TV show that they work on?
If you just want to thank them, send'em a postcard at their show. They'll appreciate it. They probably do not want to be asked follow-up questions, and their show and their agent will generally try and stop you from contacting them with stuff that will not result in a paycheck. (Especially the agent.) But if you can smoke out their email, feel free to try.

When I was talking about using the Internet, I meant using it to find like minded aspiring filmmakers you can work with. Best to leave the professionals alone, unless they've indicated they're willing to talk to the outside world -- e.g. they have comments enabled on their blog, or publish their email address.

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Based on a reader's suggestion, I rented Buffy, Season 5, Disc 5, and watched "The Body" with Joss Whedon's commentary. It's fascinating to watch his stuff with commentary because I usually don't see the seams in what he's done until he points them out. Then, there they are. The episode is shocking because it's about Buffy's mother's death -- from entirely natural causes. To see the ordinary horror of death in a show about spectacular, supernatural horror, is somehow even more alarming than it would be elsewhere, especially since, of course, in the Jossverse, death comes unheralded.

Worth watching for its notes on how the script is constructed, as well as nifty points on the cinematography.

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[POLITICS] Here's a scary-calm article on just how easy it would be to steal an election given the electronic voting systems currently in use in the US.

What's wrong with optical scan ballots again?

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Q. Is there a site out there which evaluates all the screenwriting courses, seminars, workshops that are offered. Do you know anything about the hands-on screenwriting workshops offered at www.theworkshops.com in Maine, or the 1 yr online professional screenwriting program at UCLA which they started few years ago. Gotham workshops also keeps coming up now and then, but how to find out how good all these are?
I don't keep track of screenwriting courses, but maybe you readers would like to comment on screenwriting programs and classes that you've taken?

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I was surprised to see that NBC is bumping Studio 60 this week -- for Friday Night Lights! But it makes perfect sense. So far FNL has had poor ratings (correct me if I'm wrong, Bridget) but rave reviews. Which suggests to me that while it might not be doing all that well in the Red States (apparently Tuesday night is Peewee Football night), it's got to be doing well in upscale coastal demos. That's Sorkin territory. With S60 losing audience, it makes sense to trick those audience members into watching a show they might not think to watch, but might love once they saw it.

Or it might not. Who knows?

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Q. Do you have any feedback on the 1 year screenwriting course offered at NYFA (new york film academy)?
I think I asked people about this on this blog a while ago and people were not impressed with NYFA.

I don't know what people need film school for. Sure, if your parents are willing to support you for three years while you get a "terminal degree" (i.e. you can teach with an MFA), why not? But otherwise, why not put yourself through Robert Rodriguez Film Academy: get a camera and shoot a bunch of movies. The MFA credential does not open doors for you in show business. Cool looking if roughly produced short films do. And these days with very respectable "prosumer" cameras going for under a thousand bucks, and very fine editing software available for your Mac, why go to film school?

It used to be that film school would hook you up with people who'd work on your student films. But with the Internet, you can find those people yourself, if you have a little bit of initiative. (And if you don't, don't go into showbiz.)

Personally, I went to UCLA film school. I learned a few things there. I had a few truly great professors -- Richard Marks comes to mind. Okay, I had one truly great professor, in editing. But I learned infinitely more in my first full time job than I did in school.

As I've said before, if you're in Canada, it's a different story. The CFC turns out a disproportionate percentage of successful show people. It is really THE national film and TV school. But in the US, the business is too big for one school to dominate, and a degree will get you no respect at all.

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Bill Cunningham responds to my remark that I am not primarily concerned with the studio making money:
Do you really want that statement out there, Alex? It seems a bit, "biting the hand that feeds."

As a writer, I want my financiers/clients to do well with my writing. I want them to succeed because in doing so, I succeed. Even if it's just a low budget contract job where I'm paid a flat fee. The publicity value alone is worth it.

If BON COP BAD COP tanked, you wouldn't have had as many PR opportunities as you've recently had would you? You wouldn't be able to tell people you were part of a movie hit, tell them you have two books on the shelf, and that you're available for work. Your agents certainly want your producers/studio to succeed because that means they have "an easier sell" with you next go around - you're the guy who wrote that hit Canadian movie.
Sure. But let's be honest. I'm not in the screenwriting business in order to make money. I'm in the screenwriting business because I love writing movies and TV, I get off on people watching my stuff, I get off on watching my stuff, I enjoy the process, I like being with show people. I am concerned about the stuff making money, but only secondarily: because if it don't, I don't work.

When I am writing a screenplay, I am mostly trying to write the best screenplay I know how, within a commercial genre I believe exists. Commerciality affects what I write to the extent that I don't write something I don't think can get made. But once I'm writing the script I'm trying to write a movie I'd enjoy, and hoping other people would enjoy it. I would find it quite hard to write something that an audience would enjoy but I wouldn't. (That said, I have pretty mainstream tastes.)

And Bill, I bet you write movies you love, too, and hope they make money. Because both of us could probably make more money in another line of work. I quit computer science to go into showbiz.

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"
I read Moneyball in about two days. Lewis's book is about how a few statistics-crazy amateurs invented a new system for analyzing who the most valuable baseball players really are and how to use them; and how it only took about 15 years for one team, the Oakland A's, to put the system into use. Most teams still aren't using it, though it's worth noting that the Red Sox finally broke the Curse of the Bambino when they did.

If only there were comparable statistics for show business. One suspects that one reason studios are so close to the vest about movie budgets and profits -- aside from it helps them keep the money -- is that they don't want people to know how dumb their decisionmaking really is. I've read many times that hiring expensive stars correlates negatively with profitable pictures. (Star vehicles make more money, but they cost way more money.) It's impossible for outsiders to tell how true that is, though somewhere in the heart of each studio there must be a gnome that knows. The star system continues because no one gets fired when they greenlight a Harrison Ford picture that tanks, but if your Nathan Fillion picture crashes, you're fired.

Of course as a creator I'm not primarily concerned with whether the studios make money. But if it so happens that you're better off spending money on writers than on stars, I think all of us here would like that to be well known. And possibly, even, acted upon.

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Alex Steele of the Gotham Writers' Workshop was kind enough to send me a copy of their new screenwriting book, Writing Movies. Contrary to what I say in Crafty Screenwriting, they believe that even if you don't sell your well-written feature screenplay, it can get you work.

You would think that would be true. In my experience that wasn't the case. At least not at the studio level. I went out with any number of spec screenplays in my first ten years in the biz. I had great meetings, the development execs gave me projects they were looking for rewrites on, I came back with my "take" on where the rewrite should go... and nothing. My agents all said I needed a big spec sale to get on the list of writers studios will hire.

I did get various jobs writing screenplays for independent production companies, but that was all through people who knew me. They already wanted to hire me, and they read my screenplays to see if I was any good. And, it was all below scale. (I wasn't in the Guild in those days.)

Is the Gotham Writers' Workshop right? Anybody know someone who got a proper Guild screenwriting job based solely on their unsold spec screenplay and not on their personal connections?

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Friday, October 27, 2006

A few days ago, DMc posted a monster think piece on Ten Things That Would Make Canadian TV Better.

I think it should be published in Playback. It's not their usual thing, but it's what people read in the Canadian industry, and the piece is so good, they ought to be able to spare the space.

Here's what I wrote the editor:
Dear Mr. Dillon:

Every now and then I read something on the Net that really deserves to see a wider audience. Denis McGrath has been saying some really insightful things about Canadian TV -- the business, the audience, the process -- that all of us ought to take to heart. He's written a particularly brilliant post in his blog here:

http://heywriterboy.blogspot.com/2006/10/10-things-that-would-make-canadian-tv.html

I think you ought to consider publishing it as an op-ed piece in Playback, or possibly even inviting him to write a column.

Thank you.

All the best,

Alex Epstein
If you agree, why not drop Mark Dillon a nice, polite note, in your own words, and let him know?

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Charlie Jade is going to be released on DVD in Japan. Ought to do well there, actually.

And here's the trailer on YouTube.

Via DMc.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

While we're down here in New York for Lisa's book launch, thought you'd want to know that The Artful Writer is now offering Ask a Pro, where you can ask pro monkey friends of his your burning questions.

Or, check out DMc's post about the comments on his monster post of yesterday.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Lisa's book is finally out. The Intrepid Art Collector is about how you, or someone you love who needs a Christmas present, can buy art on a regular person's budget. It covers everything from contemporary art to prints to photographs to art posters to Oriental rugs, and lays out what you're looking for and what you should watch out for. It's a nifty read, fits in your pocket, and will make you sound smart at parties. Buy it here, or check it out at your local bookstore.

Or come to her reading at Barnes and Noble in Greenwich Village (6th Ave & 8th) on Thursday at 7:30. Or come to her reading at Indigo in Montreal on the 2nd at 7.

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Some people have complained that this ep was mushy, but I liked this week's Studio 60 best of all. Instead of hearing a lot of gumph about how important sketch comedy is, or seeing sketches that weren't as funny as they were cracked up to be, the show was about what's important to sketch comedy people, and how they feel about it. That, I bought. And the two comedy sketches were for once interesting as story points. We see one black comedian kill with yet another racist sketch about the differences between white people and black people; and we're not meant to laugh, we're meant to think. And then we see another black comedian die onstage with an interesting but badly delivered bit. The sketches, and Matt and Simon's reaction to them, told us something about Matt and Simon, and about the state of comedy.

It also felt clearer that this is a drama about comedy people, rather than something that's trying to be a comedy about comedy people, and failing.

I hope Sorkin stays in this groove...

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I'm always thrilled when I hear from working tv and film writers who read this blog, because not only does it make me feel like I'm not completely talking out of my hat, it's an excuse to ask them questions about their craft and their history. Aury Wallington got her start as a script coordinator on Sex and the City, and turned that into her first TV script gig. How, you may ask? I did ask, and Aury was kind enough to write back:
Sex and the City was the first TV show I'd ever worked on -- I'd been living in New York and working in features (as a celebrity personal assistant.) But my dream job was to write for television, and a friend of mine recommended me for the SATC job. I wasn't sure if I'd ever get a chance to write an episode, since it was such a huge successful show and I was a complete beginner. But there wasn't a lot of TV shooting in NYC, and I was scared of moving out to LA and starting from scratch. (which, by the way, was crazy -- even though it ended up working out unbelieveably well for me, it's absolutely vital for a person who wants to work in TV to move to Los Angeles. Aspiring TV writers will increase their chances a thousand percent by living in LA... and within a month after SATC ended, I'd moved out here...)

I worked as hard as I could on Sex and the City, not only doing my script coordinator duties, but also looking for any opportunities I could find to write *anything* -- I wrote episode descriptions for the HBO website, and anytime the props department needed written copy (when they would show a newspaper with Carrie Bradshaw's column in it, for example) I would volunteer, and write the coolest, funniest copy I could, even though no one would ever read it (it would be a one second blur of words on the TV...)

But the producers started noticing that the props were these funny articles, and I was also writing and publishing short stories and essays, which I'm sure help legitimize me as a writer. Plus they knew and liked me personally, so, when they were assigning the freelance episode for season six, they gave it to me.

(I think freelance episodes are also misunderstood by most aspiring TV writers -- I know that before I'd actually worked in TV, I thought that freelance scripts were the way for unknown writers to break in -- the reality, of course, is that freelance episodes are assigned to established writers, and are generally only given as "the big break" to assistants who already work on the show.)

Which is another reason to move to LA... a good 50 percent of the working writers I know got their start paying their dues as writers' assistants on shows, and 99 percent of TV shows are based in LA. (even if the show films elsewhere, frequently the writers will work from LA.)

I was incredibly fortunate to have gotten the opportunity to write for SATC -- but my "lucky break" came after 3 years of working on the show and building relationships with the producers... which, I think, shows another point -- finding a writing job in TV really is, in many ways, about "who you know" -- but the good news is, it's possible to get to know the people who can provide opportunities... you just need to realize that it might take some hard work, and it might not happen overnight...

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Just got back from a big party they threw for Bon Cop in the Musée de Rire, I guess to glory in the success of the picture. It turned out to be a press conference too, with print and tv people, and questions from the audience. It was interesting to hear Colm Feore say that he's been in Canadian movies that he hasn't had the heart to see, himself; but that he respects Quebec film, and that's why he liked the idea of being in a bilingual movie. (His French is just as good live as it was scripted.)

Upcoming weeks are going to be full of events. We're going to New York on Wednesday, so that Lisa can give a talk Thursday at the 92nd Street Y, and then launch her book Thursday evening at Barnes & Noble (the one in the Village). Lisa's got another launch here in Montreal on the 2nd, at Indigo. Then on the 8th I'm off to Toronto to give a talk at the CFC, and the CFC party that night, then off to Fredericton for the film festival and a panel I'm doing. The next week, back down to New York for a party in Chelsea for Lisa's book.

Oh, and Hallowe'en, and a showbiz party next Monday ... we don't normally get out this much at all, writers that we are. In revenge we'll probably spend New Year's Eve asleep in our beds.

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... was The Economist's bid for the most boring headline possible.

So y'all down South can ignore this monster post from DMc about how to fix Canadian TV.

Except you shouldn't, because it also talks about what Americans do right, and occasionally, wrong. With TV shows, I mean.

North of 49 and in the TV biz: stop reading this blog and go read Denis's post, K?

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Saturday, October 21, 2006

Caroline points out in the comments to the previous post that many execs liked CSI, but they were afraid to say so. Too smart for the American viewer. Too expensive. Etc. No one was willing to champion it.

The moral for networks to draw, given that the CSI franchise is practically carrying its network now, might be that the system needs to be amended so people aren't afraid to fail. This WaPo article talks about the corporate culture at Google, "if you're not failing, you're not trying hard enough." It's hard to argue with their success. Granted it's cheaper to try, and fail, on the Web. But while it's expensive to shoot a failed pilot, it is much more expensive to not have any programming people want to watch. These days networks can't expect to keep viewers with anything less than appointment television. Perhaps the standard shouldn't be that you can carp safely, but you get fired for championing something that fails. Perhaps the standard should be that if you don't champion at least one show per season, you're out.

The moral for writers to draw, I think, is how important passion is. If you have an exec who is passionate about you and your show, go all the way to give her what she's asking for. Your show might be a better fit at another network, another network might offer you a better deal, there might be all sorts of reasons why you'd move on. But nothing gets on the air without a champion. And, while you're writing your stuff, be sure you're writing something that someone can get passionate about. If what you're writing is merely good, it probably won't get made.

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I'm reading Desperate Networks, a mildly informative bit of journalism about how the various networks have been faring over the past few years, the executives and their shows, and the competition between them. It's one of those journalistic pieces that adds up a lot of interviews into a probably fairly accurate overview of what happened, without giving deep insight into any of it. I don't particularly need to know which exec passed on Desperate Housewives; I'm more interested in knowing why. Other than, "didn't get it." It's easy to say that the system is inefficient, and it's not hard in retrospect to point out who's a boob. It would be interesting to understand better what exactly doesn't work, and how it could potentially be fixed.

It is mildly interesting, though, to hear just how hard it was to get some of the biggest hits of the past five years on the air. American Idol, CSI, Desperate Housewives, Survivor: each of them nearly didn't get on the air. Each of them got rejected all over place, often repeatedly. CSI only made it on the air because someone finally nixed the Tony Danza that was originally on the schedule.

One is inclined to think that the system discourages people who know what they're doing from doing what they know how to do. I don't believe that networks are staffed by idiots. No one survives at a network without being very canny, unless they're close personal friends with the head of the network. I do believe that the system encourages people to make bad decisions.

Unfortunately this is a book meant to celebrate the people who got it, not to dissect why other smart people didn't get it. Which is unfortunately, because you can't fix the system if you don't know how it's broken. How does a stinker get on the air while a future tentpole gets a pass?

Discuss...

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Friday, October 20, 2006

Looks like I'm going to be doing a screenwriting panel at the Silver Wave festival in Fredericton, New Brunswick, on the 10th, in the morning, with my dear friend Jamie Gaetz.

So, what should I be sure not to miss in Fredericton?

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In this article in Science, Peter Fiske talks about how he manages his time so that he can do creative scientific work and avoid being "kicked to death by grasshoppers" -- the grasshoppers of email, meetings, and watercooler conversation.

Sounds verrrry similar to being a freelance screenwriter:
One senior professional I met had a rule that she lived by: the 80:10:10 rule. She spent 80% of her workweek doing the best work she could possibly do, 10% of her workweek focused on her personal and intellectual development, and the remaining 10% telling as many people as possible what a good job she was doing
. Showbiz ratios may vary. Probably a good idea to spend more than 10% schmoozing, and most of us will spend more than 10% of our time on "creative and intellectual development." (I guess that's what they're calling "goofing off on the Web.")

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

As John August points out, Final Draft sold 35,000 licenses last year. Figure at least than many people bought it the year before. Figure Movie Magic Screenwriter accounts for another chunk of the screenwriting world and... gotta figure there are 100,000 people out there at least trying to write a screenplay.

Dang. That is a lot of competition.

Glad producers are optioning my projects. Also glad I sent in a pitch for a new comic today to DC Vertigo. Why in comics, as John Rogers says, you can make fives of thousands of dollars.

Of course, the numbers aren't that meaningful. It isn't a lottery. You are competing only with the people who are as good or better than you are. You might only be competing with ten thousand people. If you're competing with only one thousand people, you probably get work. If you're competing with only a hundred people, you are likely debating whether to buy, and tear down, your neighbor's 1930's Bel Air ranch house so you can put in an Olympic pool.

Still. You better get cracking!

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All the critics everywhere are jumping up and down about Friday Night Lights. Here's CNN. It's not clear to me yet whether the audience is building or not, though.

Ron M writes in to say why it might not catch on in the Red States:
This is a show which shows underage drinking, implies underage sex, and *gasp* implies interracial sex. (It's nice to imagine that the later is not a big deal anymore, but my mixed-race stepdaughter, a 13-year old living in Austin - the liberal, well-educated part of Texas - was recently in a car when her best friend's (white) dad commented that he didn't think people should date outside their race).

Admitting that teens do stuff like drink and have sex (without turning it into a morality play) is something that conservative groups in the U.S. simply refuse to do. This is why they're fighting an HPV vaccine (better that your daughters get cervical cancer 30 years from now than talk to them honestly about sex today) and why they'll fight an HIV vaccine, should somebody manage to develop one.
Excellent point. FNL is reality-based TV. It is not faith-based -- a term I could apply to my beloved West Wing. It does not show people uniformly at their best. The good girl organizes a prayer meeting for her hospitalized boyfriend, and later on in the same episode ... she slips.

One reason I love watching the show is the way confrontations are allowed to build. Coach Taylor is irked when the town bigshot proposes recruiting a new quarterback. The kid is a Katrina refugee with a 50-yard arm and a thousand-yard stare, and drafting him would involve relocating his whole family to Dillon, TX, giving them a house and giving his father a job, and some money to help get them settled -- basically the town is buying itself a new QB for a high school football team. It might be a recruiting violation. It certainly won't help morale to bring an outsider into a team made up of kids who have been playing football with each other since grade school. On another show, Coach Taylor would make a Principled Stand, and the episode would be about that.

But Coach Taylor lives in the real world. He's not pleased how the bigshot is stepping on his Astroturf, but he needs a win more than anyone. One more loss and he's surely out of a job. And why not have the best team you can? So he restricts himself to refusing to promise the kid a starting position -- you have to earn that on the field, he says.

Which means that you don't know where the episodes are going.

Which makes for interesting television, but there's the other reason why the audience might not flock to this show. Not everyone's watching in order to be surprised and challenged. Lots of people are watching to relax. If you're watching Law and Order, you're comforted by knowing that they will surely get their guy. You know the shape of the episode, you can even guess who the perp is sometimes. It's comfort TV.

FNL is not comfort TV.

On the other hand, if the liberal conspiracy intelligentsia keep raving about it, the show could wind up with superb democraphics. (Liberals are the heart of the Demographic Party.) What saved West Wing from its lowish ratings were its superb demographics. If you're pitching Lexus SUV's, you don't do it on SVU, you do it on West Wing... and now, I'm hoping, on FNL.

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I'm interested in hearing from y'all aspiring writers and those of you on the receiving end of spec screenplays: do people still send Stamped Self Addressed Envelopes or postcards? My guess would be that they shouldn't be necessary -- if someone's not interested enough to shoot off a quick email saying "Yeah send it" then they probably are too busy to read your 110-page script.

Also, are people still sending queries by mail, or by email? Which is more likely to get a response?

If I were still in development, I'd just as soon get queries by email. (I'm not, so don't send me any.) But how do you feel?

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Q. Which do you think is better, Friday Night Lights the movie, or the TV show?
Or the book?

Well, which would you rather have? A relationship, or a one night stand? No matter how good the movie was, once it's over, you can't see it again fresh. You can watch it again, but it's not a new experience any more. With a TV show, you get to follow the unfolding drama. Each new episode is a surprise. And, hell, a TV show is just a lot more screen time.

I do still love great movies. Aside from the big budgets and the big screens, which are nice, you get a sense of closure with a movie that you rarely get with a TV show. A TV show is meant to leave you hanging, unless it's cancelled far enough in advance that the writers can end it neatly. A movie can be convincingly larger than life in a way that TV generally tries to avoid. West Wing showed you the humanity of the US president. Even Heroes makes superheros ordinary, while a movie like Die Hard makes an ordinary guy into a hero.

A movie is a single story, and that can be nice. It's hard to imagine a simple, iconic story like Yojimbo or its remake A Fistful of Dollars working in TV. And in movies, characters can learn and grow up, which they can't really do in TV.

Movies can cover subjects that don't work well on TV. TV wants to be about some kind of a family, and it wants to keep returning to the same sets if possible. And an indie movie can find a more niche audience than TV can, since a movie is available longer. (Though downloads will change this.)

But still, I'd always rather discover a new great TV show than a new great movie. It's the difference between up to a hundred and change happy evenings, or just one happy evening.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Just discovered this brief little interview snippet of Joss Whedon talking about the difference between TV and movies.

Now if we can just get him back to writing TV...

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Hunter and I have been watching Firefly, me because it's been too long (almost 6 months!) and him because he's never seen it, loves it, and I am secretly teaching him story structure. (Someone's gotta support me in my old age.)

Go watch the "Our Mrs. Reynolds" if you haven't already, and then we'll talk.

/* spoilers */

I mentioned a little while ago that Joss turns four act structure on its head in FF. That's not exactly true. I should have said he fully uses all the tools available in four act structure. But that wouldn't have sounded so impressive.

What is so brilliant about the Joss in this episode is the way he uses the audience's understanding of TV to play with its expectations. This wouldn't be the first episode where we meet a naive, innocent girl who turns out to be more than she pretends. So his narrative problem is when we meet someone who says she's X, we expect there's going to be a reveal.

So Joss goes all out. He makes the entire episode be about Mal dealing with a naive, vulnerable, innocent girl who says he married her. He has the other characters poke fun at Mal. He has her naivete become a problem for Mal -- a problem for the entire crew. Her presence causes dissension. Joss hints openly that the episode is going to be thematically about the abuse of female sexuality in a paternalistic society. The unwelcome attractiveness of a submissive woman.

Usually what tips you off to a character being a spy is that there isn't enough story there if she isn't. There is a hole in the story -- a narrative vacuum that must be filled. You know instinctively that what you're seeing isn't the whole story because it would be too boring if it were the whole story.

Instead, Joss commits so wholly to the character's innocence that you are wondering if this will be an episode about Saffron inadvertently setting the crew at each other's throats. There is no vacuum to fill. There's a perfectly good episode there. Or maybe those bad guys out in space will capture Serenity and Mal will have to fight for a wife he never wanted. 'Nother good episode there.

Instead of which, Joss goes and throws a curveball, and suddenly the episode is about something entirely else.

He does the same thing to some extent in the pilot, where when Mal tells Simon that Kaylee is dead, he shoots it exactly as if she were dead, all slo-motion and canted angles and dread, playing up the sorrow of the moment ... because if he didn't shoot it that way, you'd know it wasn't true.

The lesson, I think is: if you're going for a mislead, commit to it fully. Play the mislead as if it's really where you're going. Make sure you're describing the action in exactly the same tone as you would use if that were where you were going. Make sure there isn't a hole there that the audience is expecting you to fill. Don't hold back.

Incidentally, this is true in a broader sense in thrillers and sf when you're setting up your world and your characters but before you throw your plot into motion. If you're writing Night of the Iguanas and you're going to strand a whole bunch of characters in the Mexican backwoods surrounded by mutant carnivorous iguanas, be sure there's an interesting plot going on before the iguanas show up. Make sure your main character already has a problem, something that haunts him that he is actively trying to deal with. Make sure the drama and tension is already building. Then when the iguanas show up, the audience hasn't been irritably waiting for the other shoe to drop; they're actively involved. And, of course, in lulls between characters being eaten, you can watch them try to resolve their personal differences. And that's always fun.

"Life is what happens when you're making other plans," said Mr. Lennon, and so it should be with your plot. Plot is what happens while your characters are trying to get on with their lives.

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Here's an odd thing I've wondered. Do Hindu gods actually have multiple arms? Or are the multiple arms a sort of Cubist way of representing that they are set over certain aspects of life? I'm guessing that devout Hindus imagine their gods with just the regular pair of arms, and the multiple arms is a visual conceit, but I've never had a theological discussion with a devout Hindu. Would someone kindly enlighten me?

Also, while we're at it, if rakshasas are sort of demons, then are there also angels in Hinduism?

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Malcolm Gladwell has an interesting article (does he have any other kind?) in this week's New Yorker about Epagogix, a company that uses a neural network AI to predict box office receipts with better-than-studio-executive accuracy. They analyze what -- the star package? The director? The release date? Competition? No, they analyze only the script elements.

Naturally the analysis is most accurate when you're looking at major studio releases that get enough publicity. With indie pictures it's not so accurate because those films need to catch the breaks.

It's surprising, because much as I think screenwriters are undervalued in showbiz, a bad director can screw up a film pretty badly, as can miscasting. And while a bad director will usually insist on screwing up the script before he shoots, he doesn't always. Toys would be a good example -- a very funny script misdirected as a poignant drama by Barry Levinson.

If Epagogix is as good as Gladwell says, it doesn't mean studios will stop chasing star right away, because that is what they know how to do. It will take one studio adopting a script-based system for greenlighting projects, and creaming the competition by hiring cheaper stars and writing better scripts, before it catches on. Sort of like what happened with the Arizona Diamondbacks Oakland A's, an underfunded baseball team whose managers adopted a new metric for evaluating what players they wanted to hire, and kicked butt. [Correction thanks to Webs].

Studio execs can use their service to decide which direction the script needs to go. As Gladwell points out, the analysis doesn't fix your problem for you -- you still need a screenwriter to fix it -- but it can show where you're at, and what might work fixing it. It's like a similar service that analyzes your song and tells you whether it is in hit territory or not. No computer can generate a hit. But a computer can now tell you if something is not a hit, and give you hints about what aspects of the song are keeping it out of hit territory. It can tell you your bass line isn't working; it can't tell you how to fix it.

What the article doesn't really address, though, is that Epagogix's service only works as well as the people who are coding the script into the computer. In this case, it's two guys from Britain who have watched thousands and thousands of films and thought about them. And their judgments are subjective. So you don't really have a stand-alone computer program. You have intelligent readers enhanced by a neural network. Neither can function without the other. The computer can't do its thing without the readers' subjective judgment. The readers can't duplicate the delicate weighting of dozens of factors that the neural network can do in a blink.

It will be interesting to see how much of our job AI's start to take over. Will we be assimilated?

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Friday, October 13, 2006

The GTE Trivection Oven -- a major gag in the 30 Rock pilot -- turns out to be real.

Now, is Tina Fey:

a. really clever for getting away with tweaking her corporate owners' noses by making fun of how big appliance corporations own entertainment companies, and the whole schtick about how Alec Baldwin's character is looking for that "third heat"?

b. a total whore for spending a minute showing her fictional boss touting the virtues of the GTE Trivection Oven, as if this were the 1950's, when you had your fictional characters tout the corporate sponsor's wares? (I didn't even realize that there were ads during the show for the GTE Trivection Oven, 'cause I know where the "skip 30 seconds" button is.)

c. the future?

Discuss. (And try not to use the phrase "now we're cooking with gas.")

PS See? no more caps. Haven't figured out how to make the titles explode yet. Workin' on that.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Q. I love your block, but -- any chance I can convince you to not make the post titles in all caps? I syndicate your blog into my Netvibes, and seeing a big thick stacks of capital letters hurts my soul. I'm sure I'm not the only one who think so.
Personally I like the caps 'cause they set the blog titles apart from the text. But I'm easy. Anyone else got an opinion on this?

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Jericho is beginning to pall already. We are now four days after the nuclear blasts and ... martial law has not yet been declared and people are still buying corn chips at the grocery? I don't think so. It would be interesting to imagine just exactly what an American town would be like after ten big American cities took a nuclear hit. But it doesn't feel like the writers have thought it through. They've come up with some dramatic situations that a massive attack might provoke. But they haven't figured out how such a shock would ripple through the fabric of society, I feel. And they haven't come to grips with how different things would be. They've got a gas station manager wondering if it's okay to part with some of his gas, because it belongs to the oil company, and the grocery store owner saying it wouldn't be right to pillage a crashed train for food supplies because "that doesn't belong to us."

Why is the only thing on TV an endless loop shot from somebody's TV camera? If anyone's broadcasting anything, why aren't they broadcasting more valuable information? Could it be because it makes a good visual?

How is it no one has a short wave radio? If Japan is still broadcasting, then you should be able to talk to ham radio people in Japan. How is it no one has a satellite hookup to the Internet? (The Internet was built to survive a nuclear attack. It automatically routes around damage unlike, say, the electrical grid.)

In my book, science fiction is best when it changes as little about our real world as possible. Add one science fictional element to our real lives and see how that changes us. Our world, plus nuclear bombs. That ought to be interesting enough, if you actually thought about where that would take us. It might be even interesting enough that you wouldn't need to make plots out of the Black Man with a Big Secret and the Rich Girl's Party.

Some of the other things I'm missing, oddly, are things I missed in early drafts of the show I consulted on. I wanted a strong sense of the town as a community. Not just preacher preaching in the church, but people actually doing things together. In a real town, the sheriff wouldn't be deputizing people 4 days after the attack because people would have been organizing themselves to take care of each other on Day One. There would have been locals outside the gas station with shotguns to make sure gas went only to emergency vehicles. There would have been locals outside the grocery store. There would have been a posse sent to empty that train with all the supplies, instead of one kid miraculously restocking the grocery store in the middle of the night without anybody noticing.

Instead of a town, we just have a collection of people who live in the same zip code. It's not excuse to say that TV handles two people in a room better than a group. Buffy regularly put seven people in a room, which is about all you can fit in a frame.

But worse, we have a collection of people without overall stories. People are reacting, but what do they want. The Pretty Blonde Girl wants her fiancée back, but she's doing nothing to contact him. What does the Mayor with the Flu want? I don't have a sense of clear stories unfolding, except for the now-sinister Black Man With a Secret.

And yet, to compare it to Friday Night Lights -- you have a clear sense of the town, and what it means to live there, and what all the characters want in their lives. Why couldn't the writers of Jericho have built their town in their heads a bit more before they started throwing stories at the whiteboard?

This could be such a rich show. It occasionally hints at the issues it could have delved into, like the brief conversation about torture. But no one seems to be doing the work.

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Watched 30 Rock last night as well. Some of it was funny. Some of it was dumb. Some of it was dumb-funny, which is just fine.

As with Studio 60, few of the laughs were in the show-within-the-show comedy skits. (Though I did like "Science, Schmience" in S60's 3rd ep.)

And that's a danger in putting art within your art. A comedy sketch within your comedy (or drama) suffers from the "make me laugh" syndrome: you're telling the audience something is funny, which is a practically guaranteed way to make sure it's not funny. Jokes come from derailment, and if you have a comedy sketch within your comedy, you've already derailed the train before it can get up to steam.

There's a similar danger any time you want to show that someone is a great actor, or a great artist, or a great dancer. If you've got someone performing "To be or not to be" in your TV episode and you're telling us this guy can really act -- well, it better be one of the most impressing freakin' "To be or not to be"'s we've ever seen. Otherwise you provoke a reaction: That's brilliant acting? (I didn't find Jack Crew's "To be or not to be" in Slings and Arrows to be all that compelling. Did you?)

Whereas if you tell us your character is the best race car driver in the world, we'll just buy it. We have no way to evaluate one race car driver vs. another. Well, except that winners win. And we all know what winning a car race looks like. We just accept that the hero wins because he's good, not because he has a better car.

If it's something the audience can't evaluate, we may just buy it. I've got a couple of characters in my current feature that are supposed to be good artists. We'll try to get good artists to do their charcoal sketches for them, but everyone's got their own idea of what a good piece of art looks like. I don't think too many people in the audience will reject the art, so long as the technique is good.

Sometimes you have to fake it intentionally. Real ballet, to my mind, doesn't look that interesting on film, at least not to the mass audience. It seems to me that much of the time you have a ballet scene that scores, the filmmakers have jazzed it up. I doubt Jennifer Beals's dance moves would have got her into ballet school in Flashdance and I doubt John Travolta's moves in Stayin' Alive would impress Balanchine either. But they worked on film. (And while I'm horrifying the purists: I prefer Tex-Mex to authentic Mexican, and I prefer Upper West Side Szechuan to authentic Chinatown Szechuan. Because I'm an Upper West Sider, not an authentic Chinese person.)

Be careful when you put art within your art. If it's something the audience knows well, it better score. In Broadcast News, James Brooks had real news editors edit the news segments, rather than his usual feature editor. He wanted to be sure the broadcast news segments smelled right to an audience that knows exactly what a broadcast news segment is. If you can't make the art within the art score, find a way to give us clues how we're supposed to interpret it, or better yet, find ways that you don't have to put it up on the scre

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Let me tell you how good Friday Night Lights is. We put the kids to bed, and settled down to watch the show on our PVR, and I got out of bed and got my stepson Hunter in to watch it, because it's so good I didn't want to miss it.

It's so good it gets me all choked up even though I couldn't care less about football and I've never lived in anything smaller than a small city. Or in the South.

Boy, I hope people in the Red States are watching it, too. If they're not it might be because it's too close to home; it certainly feels real and true and gripping.

The second episode ends on a wee bit of a cliffhanger, and Hunter was shrieking in mock torment that he has to wait six more days to find out how the game went. He suggested that the show could be used to torture prisoners. "Tell us what we want to know or we won't let you watch the next episode!"

Now that's good tv.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

And in other news, Bon Cop Bad Cop erased Canada's national shame -- that its highest national box office ever was for Porky's. Bon Cop Bad Cop now has the title. (If you don't adjust for inflation. And we're not going to.)

UPDATE: I see from Zip.ca that the DVD is coming out December 19. Then you can start bugging Netflix about carrying it!

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Go thou and rent or buy the DVD's of Firefly, and listen thou to the commentary by the Joss. Hunter and I listened to the Joss's commentary on the pilot. It's illuminating to see how he sets up the characters -- and in some cases, sets up the characters with intentional misleads. (Simon is clearly the villain of the episode -- whoops, he's not.) Also a good deal in there about camera and lighting. A bit too much about Nathan Fillion's pants splitting, but it's illuminating to see how Joss convinces you that Kaylee's dead, pulling out all the cinematic stops -- and it's a mislead -- to warn you that any character can die -- and that you can't be sure you know which way the story is headed...

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Today, DMc is writing about character names and how hard they are to clear.

Fortunately, only a tiny percentage of the audience really notices what the names of the secondary characters are. Names are important to understanding the character during development. Names are important in reading scripts, but far less important to shooting scripts. Once you're shooting, there's an actor inhabiting the character, and that trumps the name, except for people writing prose about the show, and they are in a tiny minority. (The fact that all of you readers are probably in that minority shouldn't throw you off.)

I'm a writer and I often have to look up characters' names when I write about a show. Even when I'm pitching shows to people, it's often easier to talk about "the kidnapper," "the sidekick," "the pathologist."

One hack for getting around the clearance issue with names is DON'T USE A FULL NAME. If your main character is RACHEL, that will clear. Or, if her name is MCADAMS, that will clear, too. Put them together and you have Canada's most adorable export. You can't really do that with a lead character -- her name will surely come out soon enough in dialog. But you will probably clear DR. TARTOVSKY more easily than you'll clear DR. EUGENE TARTOVSKY.

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Monday, October 09, 2006

My wife, the fantabulous Lisa Hunter, is launching her new book, The Intrepid Art Collector: The Beginner's Guide to Finding, Buying and Appreciating Art on a Budget, in New York in a couple weeks. It's the intelligent layperson's guide to buying the real thing. She'll be reading from and talking about her book at Barnes & Noble on Thursday, October 26 at 7:30 pm. (It's the one at 8th Street and Avenue of the Americas.) Come buy a book, get it signed, ask a question, and go out drinking with us afterwards!

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Q. A friend of mine is a writer whose work has been lucky/funny enough to make it to the big screen. The sequel has been greenlit and he just shot me an email letting me know that he's signed on as the director! I am an aspiring screenwriter and I understand how valuable it is to be on set and get a bird's eye view of the process. So my question is this:

What job should I beg him for? I've got no on-set experience and I'm not sure how much staffing power the director has, or in what areas he has it. I don't want to ask for something completely unrealistic and appear foolish. I am, however, eager, ambitious and a very hard worker. I'll carry their luggage, haul equipment or simply make sure the toilet paper is properly stocked -- if I can just get a peek at the process, write during my down time and make friends/connections. I'd kill for this opportunity!!! I just need to know...um.... what opportunity exactly, I'm killing for.
Superb attitude!

Don't worry about writing during your down time. You shouldn't have down time. During production, everyone's working 12-16 hour days. While you're on set, you should be making friends and volunteering for extra tasks, not sneaking off to write down your thoughts; and by the time you get home you'll want to just sleep.

If your friend will take you on as his assistant, if that won't wreck your friendship, that might be useful. Then you get him coffee when he needs it, and hang around and listen in on all the conversations with producers and stars at Video Village (that's where the director watches the takes). You get to see how shots are framed and listen in as the director explains to the cinematographer what he wants.

The director can't really hire you into a department -- that's up to the department head -- though he could recommend you. You could intern in one of the departments where your screwup can't be fatal, e.g. grips, props, electricians (well it could be fatal to you, but not the show!), etc. But if you're in a department, you should really be paying attention to your department, not ogling the camera and the actors. If you're an electrician, for example, you're concentrating on what the next light the gaffer might need; or sitting 60' high on the scissorlift in the cold night air wondering when lunch is.

It actually isn't that glamorous or necessarily educational to be on set. Everyone is doing their job. If you don't have a job it's not that exciting to hang around watching the other kids play. Most of the jobs aren't things you as a director or writer will ever need to know how to do. But, you'll need to be focusing laser-like on that job and not trying to understand what the director is doing. I'm not sure I ever learned that much from being a p.a. or from being an electrician (i.e. lighting department); at least, I didn't learn much about how to producer or direct or write movies.

On the other hand, everybody should work on at least one set so they know what goes on there, so I applaud you for doing what it takes to grab your chance.

If I were you, I would offer to shoot footage for the EPK (electronic press kit). Get a video camera and shoot interviews with everyone. The studio will send someone for three days to do the EPK, but you can provide additional footage throughout the shoot. So your footage may include things the studio team won't be around for. Your footage may wind up on the DVD. Maybe you can even cut it together yourself. It's a great opportunity to do as you please on a set so long as you're not in anyone's way. You may even be able to get yourself invited to screenings of the dailies, casting sessions and so on. Especially if you're buds with the director.

UPDATE: This guy asked John August the identical question, and lo and behold -- he got the same answer. Now I feel very smart indeed!

John also provided a handy link to The Production Assistant's Pocket Handbook, a free PDF document on how to be a good flunky. Check it out.

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

As Diane points out, the audience for Friday Night Lights was abysmal -- the lowest rated new drama. The network will be looking closely at whether those numbers build; pilot numbers are less a function of how strong the show is than the hook plus the promotion budget. So here's an opportunity for all those conservative groups that threaten boycotts of various shows to do something constructive. If they're really serious about promoting family values on television, they ought to mobilize their viewership to watch the darn show. Punishing shows with happy gay people won't change the face of television. But nothing will get family values on television faster than people watching shows with family values.

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We just watched Tuesday's pilot of Friday Night Lights. Hot damn that is some amazing television. I was swept up in a world I'm not familiar with, but felt real and true. The characters felt so concrete, so-un-tv. Rather than feeling like there were A stories and B stories and C stories, it felt like there were a bunch of people who had a web of relationships, and we were watching their lives. Of course it all built up to a hell of a bang in the end.

Yeah, as Denis says: football and West Texas isn't a big part of my life. But it felt much more real and close to my own life than Shark, or Grey's Anatomy, or Studio 60. Which is odd, 'cause I have friends who are prosecutors and doctors and comedy writers, and I probably couldn't live in that small Texas town without getting beat up on a regular basis.

The storytelling was so rich and dense, I kept worrying I wasn't watching a hour pilot. It felt like it must be a two hour pilot, and damn if my PVR wasn't going to cut off before the resolution. But it was all squeezed into the one hour. (Forgive me if my grammar has gone all Texas on y'all; it does that whenever I'm exposed to the axayunt.)

It felt like 6 acts. Bridget, was it 6 acts? Sure as hell wudn't no 4 acts.

And I am glad to see a TV show where people believe in God. Quite a few people believe in God, but I see very few characters on TV who seem to have a spiritual life without it becoming a Story Point. Sorkin has one Christian on his show, and it's worth writing home about. But in FNL, the whole town is folk who take it for granted that Jesus Christ is a part of their lives. I grew up among atheist Jews, and my own spiritual path isn't mainstream. But religion seems to me too big a part of our cultural life to leave it out of so many of the stories we tell.

Nice work, guys. I'm signing on for the season.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Screenwriter - Hero of Action

Um. No comment.

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Q. I'm currently working on a Pro/con list for possible places to move. My dream is New York City but I know that they don't actually produce a lot of dramatic television in New York and the shows that are actually shot there are still written in LA. So not exactly ideal.

LA is probably the best place to move but I really have no desire to move there. I like things like cold weather and leaves changing. So my other thought was Toronto. However, I know nothing about Toronto except that it's in Canada. I've read somewhere where you said that the television industry in Canada is kind of a family affair. So my question is how difficult is it to get into the TV industry in Toronto and does being an American make it even that much more difficult?
Canadian film and television are small worlds, compared to LA. But you can break in if you have talent and perserverence. However, to work in Canada, you need to be a Canadian citizen or Canadian landed immigrant. A landed immigrant is the equivalent of an immigrant to America with a Green Card. The process for getting landed now takes on the order of 18 months. Until you're landed, no Canadian producer will hire you. On the other hand you can apply, and not move to Canada until you are accepted. (Contrary to DMc's comment earlier, once you land, you can work as a Canadian immediately. At least, I could.)

There is no doubt that L.A. is the best place to move, if you're planning on moving. Lots of people move there who don't have any real desire to be in LA. The physical climate is warm (though it does get chilly in the winter), but the emotional climate can be frigid. You move there because that's where the showbiz is. John Dillinger didn't rob ice cream parlors, eh?

I wouldn't move to New York. Squalor in New York is much more expensive than comparable squalor in LA, but as you are aware, very few shows are actually written and produced there. More often they are written and produced in LA, with a brief New York location shoot. New York is where you move if you are in love with theater, God help you. Or publishing.

In LA, it is possible to live a life entirely in the show business community. This can suck the life out of you emotionally; if your career is not taking off, you are nobody. But it is also how you absorb, with every breath, the smell of the market. In LA, everyone is working on a script, or a short film, or a deal. (This is not literally true; but it feels that way.) You get a sense what the buyers want. You overhear conversations. You bump into people. Nowhere else has the same concentration of dream makers and merchants; nowhere I know.

My own personal trajectory has been a bit against the tide. I started in LA, and wound up in Montreal. I'm not sorry I spent a decade in LA; but I'm madly in love with Montreal. Some of the decisions I made may have involved a girl I'm in love with, too. But if you ask the generic question, Where do I go? Then I have to say that the obvious choice is LA.

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Stewart McKie has a website about screenwriting software with reviews of the various programs. He would like your input on what programs and what features you use. The survey is here.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

I'm in Toronto today and tomorrow, mostly for a Big Network Meeting tomorrow, but I try to make the most of each trip here.

Unfortunately for Yours Truly, Montreal is an ideal place to have a life, and it is even a superb place to set a TV show, but it is not an ideal place to get a TV show set up. So I find myself hopping on the early morning train every couple of months for a slew of meetings in Toronto.

The vibe here is quite different from Montreal. There is a real English language show business community. I walked around the renovated part of town with a development guy who was planning to head off later to have drinks with a dozen other development people. Couldn't happen in Montreal. I'm not sure there are a dozen development people in Montreal (as distinct from producers who read), and if there are, they don't know each other. I always feel a lot better as a writer trying to get things off the ground when I'm here. In Montreal it can be tough to get people to meet. Here they all seem very happy to.

(Of course this is also a function of my being from out of town. It is easier, ironically, to set up a meeting when you're only in town for a couple days than it is when they can theoretically see you any time they want.)

Here they also seem to have a better sense who I am, again ironically, than they sometimes seem to in my home town. Well, go figure.

Tonight I'm going to study up on the series I'm pitching tomorrow. My writing career is a constant job of swapping concepts and plots and worlds in and out of my head. At any given moment I'm only completely on top of one or two projects at most. I've been working on THE ALTERNATIVE, so now I've got to swap that out and swap in my drama series...

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

My brand spankin' new MacBook Pro is unbelievably slow. It takes forever (=10-15 seconds) to do basic system tasks like move from one app to another. This doesn't seem to be a question of non-native apps since (a) I'm doing nothing calculation-intensive and (b) I'm just going from one app to another, which is a Finder function.

And here I got the damn thing because it's supposed to be sssssmokin' fast.

Is there a diagnostic I can use to find out if something's wrong with the computer? Has anyone else had this problem on the MacBook Pro?

UPDATE: I ran fsck, which helped some. I got another GB of memory, which helped a lot. Runs fine now.

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Watched the third ep of Studio 60, and I'm feeling a lot better. The jokes were funny. I loved "Science, Schmience" -- and the guy's Tom Cruise bit was great. The character moments had bite, and were often funnier than the jokes.There was a neat revelation at the end.

I did think the last act had an odd valedictory feel to it, as if it were a season-ender. The story felt overwhelmed by the atmosphere sometimes -- the fourth act montage went on a bit long while we waited for the plot to kick in again. Still waiting for Sarah Paulson to show her comedic brilliance. And the act outs were a bit soft. (The act two out was: Matt decides to look at the focus group report?) But at least I have a TV show to watch where no one is in regular danger of dying.

(Boy, Pat Kingsley must be in hog heaven. She was Tom Cruise's publicist for years until he fired her. Her pitch these days must be: "See what happens when you don't have Pat Kingsley?" I'm sure he was just as nuts in the '90's, but no one was mocking him on fake sketch comedy shows.)

Tonight I'm definitely going to tape Friday Night Lights. It's had superb reviews, and it was a damn fine movie too. It's one of the few football movies I've seen where I really cared deeply who won, because it's not about money ball, it's about small town high school football teams in the kind of small town where football's the only thing going on besides Jesus.

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

We watched an episode of Grey's that made no sense at all. Izzie was sort-of sitting shiva, and someone came in with a tree in his stomach, and someone had lung cancer, and then all of a sudden various people were quarantined for plague, and at the end of it Derek and Addison broke up... wtf? Did BellExpressVu scramble two eps together? I can't make sense of it even with the help of TV.com.

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