Friday, August 26, 2011

The Screenwriter Think Tank Session of Brilliance

Some of the best advice I was ever given was by Will Akers.

He told me, "You're a good writer. Now start making short films. Learn every aspect. That way, you'll always have work."

I am passing that on to you today, dearest reader.   He was absolutely right!

Now, on to screenwriting stuff.


It was truly one of the most outstanding times I have had as a writer. Here's the back story:

I am working on a supernatural thriller script.  I had a vague outline of who and what would go on with the story, but I was stuck. I didn't know how to raise the stakes for our hero. I didn't know what occupation my villian should have.  I have a decent concept for a script, but this was driving me nuts. 

So I called the meeting.

I invited a group of friends.  All were from different backgrounds.  Since my story is about a hero paramedic, I had a paramedic there. I read them the outline from my script, and then for two hours picked their brains.  What a great time!

Folks had AMAZING insight. When all was said and done, I had a full fledged outline, and will get this written probably in a couple of weeks before I start the rewriting process.

The point is, DON'T keep your story to yourself. Pitch it to folks.  See if they'd be interested. I pitched the CONCEPT of this script for about two years to folks.  I would say, "Hey, would you see this movie if this happened?" 

With a group of folks who are from different backgrounds, you will be amazed at some of the ideas that will pop up.  Brilliance!  Even my 14 year old daughter contributed, and I am using her idea.

Now, don't get folks who won't speak the truth. If something doesn't make sense, you want to know BEFORE  you start fleshing it out.  Sometimes people will be 'nice' and not 'honest'.  Honesty is what you want. 'Nice' just wastes your time.

So, if you're ever stuck on writing, hold a meeting and pick brains!  We had a great time and got TONS accomplished!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Communication is KEY!

At the time I am writing this, it is 1:45am. Literally.

Why am I writing in the wee hours of the morning? I thought you would never ask, my faithful fan! I'll tell you.

The reason that I'm not resting is because I am supposed to work for a high profile client tomorrow.  They hired me for two days and told me they would send me a call sheet.  I have since emailed them three times requesting this call sheet. I was told that one would be sent to me tonight, hence I am still up waiting.

And this give me a perfect teaching moment for you.


By the production coordinator not having his ducks in a row, I can already predict how tomorrow will be. And THAT'S if I ever find out what time I'm to arrive!

For those of you who don't know what a call sheet is, it's a document that tells you the address of where you are supposed to be, the TIME you're supposed to be there, numbers to call if you can't make it, and other pertinent information like, where to park.  I'm headed to a municipal auditorium.  Do I park in the audiorium's parking or do I need to park across the street?  There will be thousands of people at this.  What is the dress code? Some companies don't care and merely state: dress comfortably, jeans okay, no open toed shoes.  Some require all black. Which is it for these guys? Who knows!!!

When you run a production, you are the leader.  Everyone looks to you. You may not realize that at the time, but it's true.   You need to have things handled, like, call sheets.  If you are too busy to do it, you know what? There are assistants that are great at it.  Don't mistreat your crew by keeping them in the dark.  And for goodness sake, DON'T lie to your crew!  I got an email stating that I would have my call sheet "tonight".  Well, it's tomorrow, and I'm losing sleep waiting on a call sheet that may or may not come.  And if they call me and my call time is 3am I will seriously be ticked off!

If you are feeling overwhelmed, the best thing you can do, is ask for help. Don't drag people through the mud because you feel it's your baby.  Maybe it is! But do you want a happy crew, or a confused, grumbling crew because now folks don't think you know what you're doing? 

Communication.   It's the key to happiness and a smooth running production.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Back in Business!

Hello Faithful Fans!

I have gotten back from Los Angeles and had a wonderful time.  For those of you who are facebook friends, you have the skinny on the trip.  For the rest of you, feel free to look me up!

On another note, I am officially the producer of WELCOME TO WAFFLE HOUSE, the next summer blockbuster.  I'm really excited to venture off into producing now... such an unknown world to me.  However, I have great contacts in "the biz" and they are hooking me up with outstanding mentors... one of whom I hope to add as an associate producer on the movie.

I'm truly excited about this new chapter and the writers are great guys.

On top of that, I have also been tapped to produce some short films for a local filmmaker in Nashville, Robby Coles.  His newest project, THE GREY AREA, is a short film regarding bullying and he is working on getting it submitted to every school in America.   You can go to my facebook page and see where Robby has a kickstart page for funding.

If you would like to help me raise funds for WELCOME TO WAFFLE HOUSE,  please feel free to donate at:


Please know that I appreciate any and all donations to help get this movie into theaters.  If you donate, I promise you will have a special thanks noted in the credits.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Great Writing

When you read great writing, you know it. It sticks with you.

In film, the image that sticks with you is a result of words on a written page. You don't think that way... you usually give the director most of the credit for being so brilliant, but it's the writer that has captured your heart. The director was the vessel that caught his vision and brought it forth on a screen so you could see the writer's imagination.  Believe it or not, some directors just can't write.  I will not name names. :)

A dear friend of mine brought a commercial to my attention. I wanted to link it here so you can see what I mean about great writing.

Try and guess what is being sold in this commercial.  I tried. I bet you will never get it until the reveal.

It's an amazing commercial and was executed masterfully.  This is one of my favorite all time works. 

Warning... it looks pretty creepy.. just hang on until the end and you will understand why this commercial is such genius.

Let me know what you think of it.


PS For the next 2 weeks, I will in Los Angeles following mine and my daughter's dreams,  plus doing lots of touristy stuff.  I'll try to keep you  updated.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

What A Ride!

Hello Faithful Fans,

It has been an interesting few months.

First of all, after the nagging of my heart wouldn't shut up and made me more and more continuously grumpy, my husband and I agreed it was time for me to quit my full time job of being an office manager drone and pursue my dreams of film making.

Best decision of my life.

In addition to having more time to write, I have also been hired on numerous projects as part of the crew. I find it much easier to understand how a business is run or how a production is put together if you understand each person's position.  I've learned a lot in the past few months. Sheer gold.

I've also gotten to work with some amazing folks who have opened a lot of doors for me. From infomercials, to webisodes, to commercials, I have been extremely blessed to be able to work steadily.  I love this life.

I am beginning to tweak a script that I had written two years ago. I have messed with it so much I finally just had to put it in a drawer and tell it to, "Stay!"  I understand more now, have more connections than before, so this time I will get it right.

I've also learned a few things about myself in the past few months, things I really did want you to know. First of all, I would fall in line with what my mentors thought about movies.

For instance:  Black Swan. I really liked it. I loved Natalie Portman's performance.  Mentor:  She was whiny and I didn't care about her. Terrible film.

Children of Men. Mentor: One of the best films ever made.  Me:  Hated it with a blinding passion.

So, like what you like and like it for the reasons you like it.  Maybe I like Black Swan because I was a gymnast for 15 years and know the pressures that come with performances like that.  Maybe I hated Children of Men because I didn't like the premise. Or Julianne Moore's acting.  (I always love Michael Caine, though).

Who knows?  The reason that there are so many movies made is because folks DON'T conform. We like to have variety. 

So, like what you like. And be proud of why you like it.  I've agreed to disagree with my mentor and we respect each other.

I'll try to do better in keeping things posted more regularly now that I have sprung the big bucks and made my house a wireless family.

Let me know what's going on in your world!


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Update on the Assistant Directing

My first bout with Assistant Directing was a success!  I was very organized, and had a list to go by, so all went well. I learned a ton and met some totally awesome people who are going to use me for future movies.  You can't get much better than that!

We film all this weekend, and may I say, I am a bit bummed about that.  I will miss the Oscars! :( 

AND on top of that, THE HABITUAL LIAR, my labor of love, is set to be screened and possibly awarded at a film festival that same day.

Needless to say, I'm very sad. At least MY Assistant Director will be there to snag the award should we win a prize!

I'll let you know how it goes!


Friday, February 11, 2011

I am Assistant Directing

Hello all,

I am in the process of (well, we actually start shooting tomorrow, but I am preparing schedules) Assistant Directing a film for Will Akers.  I've never done this before, so it's a challenge. This is more a nuts and bolts type job, so it's strange for me not to be on the creative side.

I'll let you know how it goes!


Thursday, February 3, 2011

No Rest For Me!

I feel like I need to keep you, my most loyal fans, updated with what is going on with me!

First of all, THE HABITUAL LIAR, the screenplay that I adapted and directed came out extremely well. I learned a lot on this shoot. Like, don’t let anyone upload your favorite footage because it could become corrupted and you might not ever see it again. Or, your sound guy needs to be extremely aware that the mics take the rectangle batteries and not AA’s. Ugh!

Here is the finished result:

The Habitual Liar from Atomic Jello Productions on Vimeo.

The production starts Leslie Li Voorheis, Emily Byrd, Danielle Ivery, Keagan Haney, Lucy Turner, Stephen Cornwall, and Kim Kinsley. They are all very talented and I was priveledged to have them for my cast. I can't say enough about each of them.

For the month of February, I have been made the Assistant Director of a short film written by Hillary Schoelzel and Will Akers, with Will directing.

As they further along their story by rewriting drafts, I throw in my two cents. Sometimes they take it, sometimes they don’t. I’ve been working as a bit of a person of all trades on this one.

I location scouted a couple of days ago. An extremely nice couple allowed me to take pictures inside of their home and were willing to allow us to shoot anytime we needed. Is it the right set? Not sure. Director’s call.

I’m extremely busy! So, if you don’t hear from me in March, know that I am living the dream… not sleeping and working my butt of for some street credit! I have NOT forgotten you all! :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Work For What You Want!!

The movie industry is a monster.

It will eat you up, spit you out, and never look back.  So, to get what you want, you have to fight for it.  The best example I can give you at the moment is this story:

This little girl has a once in a chance opportunity and do you think she's relying on anyone else to get her to Tinsel Town?  No! She has totally taken life by the horns and is captain of her own destiny.  (I can say this with my pride in my font because this little girl happens to be my daughter!)

Our family has obstacles, whose doesn't?  But for my daughter, Keagan, the word NO is not an option.  She believes. She fights. She wills.  She overcomes. 

We all need that tenacity in life, no matter if you're a screenwriter, a gaffer, a pediatrician or an electrician! 

Do you have a story?  Write it!  Take criticism constructively!  Make notes, changes and whatever it takes to get your work read! And then... like my little girl....


Monday, January 10, 2011

2011: A Call To Arms!

Ahhhh… My first post of the new year.

What will 2011 bring?

More writing, more ideas.

I read over the weekend that this summer will be known as the SUMMER OF SEQUELS. Movies that will fill slots on movie marquees for 2011:

Pirates of the Caribbean 4

Harry Potter (I’ve lost count on these)

The Hangover 2

Mission Impossible 4

Final Destination 5

Cars 2

Scream 4

Transformers 3

Spy Kids 4

Kung Fu Panda 2

Fast Five (the latest segment in the Fast and the Furious franchise)

Some of these may be good, and some may be a colossal failure, but one thing jumps out at me just from looking at this list.

Hollywood needs originality. A new story. A new idea. Next summer we’ll have another Superman, Spiderman and Batman movie.

There are plenty of great writers out there, you included!

Let’s all sit down, write a kickin’ story and show Hollywood how to make money off of a story that’s fresh, new, and innovative instead of beating dead horses until they’re well, more dead. Did you know they are making another installment in the SHREK series? Yep! Now it’s just about Puss ‘N’ Boots.

THE MATRIX took Hollywood by storm. New, thought provoking and it broke boundaries. I adore this movie. Even though the trilogy is over and done with, I still watch and am amazed at it. What inventive minds to create such a story!!

I’m sick and tired of paying $10 to see a sequel that 1.) Either never should have been made or 2.) Should have been a made for TV movie. Granted, these sequels have better budgets than made for TV movies!

Where are the writers? Where are the great ideas? YOU have them! I have them!

So, let’s sit down and write it out… let’s make time to get those rewrites done and share our scripts! We have great ideas!

Anything is better than a life dominated by sequels, isn’t it?

In conclusion, my first blog of the year is a call to arms. For all great writers to create that script of their dreams. For in the months ahead to bombard Hollywood with new ideas and not take no for an answer.
So, write, write, write! It's in your hands!