Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The light has returned to the dark hours

I’ve received the third draft from Robert A Vollrath that I now will transform into the forth, and hopefully final draft.

We had e-mailed back and forth about the changes I had made between his first draft and my second and one thing that I had removed without real intention was the humor.

I considered the lines in question unnecessary, misplaced or simply not funny. I didn’t think about this very serious story as a story with one-line jokes. Not that I deliberately said to myself that I would take out all the funny moments, I just didn’t see that this, and this, and this, fitted the story.

When I read it now, with the humor back in place, I realize how wrong I was.

And I am surprised and almost chocked that I didn’t see the importance of the funny moments. Am I not the one who hates dark and depressive movies, despising the lack of mood lifters in the dark hours?

Me of all persons remove the so vital humor.

Jokes and fun help us surviving our dark hours. Even Schindler’s List has moments of fun.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The nude man under the table

When I was a teenager I had the opportunity to be at a set where they filmed a mini-series.

I was amazed at many things. Like how that long gone barber shop became a café for a few hours. And how to hide the shadow of the boom when the sun suddenly dived out from the clouds.

But most of all I wondered how that naked man had ended up under the table.

The mini-series was called “The stairs” and was directed by Eva Bergman and included quite a few well known actors, mostly from the Backa Theatre.

One of these actors was nude and placed himself under one of the café tables on the sidewalk.

Although I didn’t see this. I was suddenly sent up the street to stop the traffic during that take.

And when I turn to take a look if the take is over and I can let the car move along, I see the back of a nude man running away.

I just had to see the miniseries when it turned up in the TV tabloids.

It turned out that the scene didn’t appear until the last episode! And I had to harden myself to make it through the previous ones, every time hoping that this would be the episode with that scene. The series was just so b-a-d.

How he ended up nude under the table?

Well, if you find yourself locked out from your apartment without any clothes on (!) would you then walk out to find your brother to get the spare key?

Friday, October 23, 2009

My turning point to act three

I was researching what kind of animals live in deserts.

My main character crosses a dessert at night and I was looking for some images to use. Maybe some dangers.

And guess what I found?

A whole scene!

And not any scene for that matter.

I found my turning point to act three.

Just because I happened to came across a legend with roots in Native American culture which inspired me.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Review: Writing Drama by Yves Lavandier

In August I got an inquiry from Le Clown & l’enfant, a French publishing company, wondering if I was interested in reading and reviewing Writing Drama by Yves Lavandier on my blog.

I was delighted and interested in reading a book from a European writer, since most of the literature I've came across have been from USA.

Close to three months later I've read the almost six hundred pages and am ready to write my review.

What I liked best with this book was that the writer brought up several cases of less successful situations and suggestions that would have brought out more of them. In all books I have read so far only examples that demonstrate the “right way” have been used, never examples where someone could have done a better job.

What I didn’t like and found very annoying was that the writer never succeeded in keeping me interested. It was a difficult reading. Page up and page down packed with text written in a very boring way and often with extensive footnotes.

And since this is a book about how to tell a story I find it remarkable that the writer cannot keep my interest on top though this is a subject that I am very interested in.

He also succeeds in throwing me off topic several times because he states theories and own opinions as facts, things that I do not recognize as facts. It could be everything from theories from Sigmund Freud to how to raise a child and political agendas.

It would have been better if he had used “I” instead of “we”, and therefore taking responsibility for his own opinions, instead of besmirching me with standpoints that are not mine.

Something that does not ring true in this book is that the first thing he does is praising the American success in storytelling and claiming that Europe lacks good storytellers and then uses the rest of the book to despise and sneer at the American ideas how to write a script and structure a story.

To mention some examples of this, the writer insists that a character does not need to change in the span of the script, that Syd Field’s way to structure a script is more or less ridiculous and that it is completely okay that characters’ dialog all sound the same; all three opinions strongly opposing the American gurus in storytelling.

If he had stated that he didn't like American movies, all would have been fine, but now he says they are good at storytelling. But he disapprove of some of the most fundamental rules American movies have.

The book was however not useless to me. Here and there I found a gem. The chapter about dramatic irony was especially interesting for me. Some things were interesting just because it was from another point of view than usual and that always brings out new aspects of things.

My feeling is that the writer wanted his book to contain everything useful for storytelling (and even some that isn’t, like subtitle vs dubbing).

Some areas I felt were too thin because of this, aspects that I never thought of and wanted to learn more about were way too short, while other subjects were way too lengthy.

This is a matter of taste and interest, of course, but some subjects are covered in many other books, some not. And since you can’t cover it all, maybe the book’s focus should have been more precise rather than wide spread.

Finally I find an atmosphere of pompous bitterness over the whole book. A whiny attitude where the writer tells us how wrong modern way of storytelling is and that good old Aristotle knew what he was doing.

Comments during reading you can find here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A story about chairs

Once upon a time when I and the man I didn’t then knew I was going to marry had become a couple, we visited my parents.

I somewhat feared that my mother very unstoppable would start talking about furniture and their history, which I was quite certain about would horribly bore my darling.

And as he, of course, asked them what they worked with he entered the subject and got a lecture started. And I wanted to hide somewhere.

To my surprise, he didn’t get bored. He even asked questions!

On our way home I asked him if he really had any genuine interest in chairs in their design.

“No” he said “but I had the opportunity to listen to someone very enthusiastic on a subject I knew nothing about. I’m stupid if I don’t take care of moments like that.”

As natural as anything. Just like that.

And that is something I love him for.

Endangerad Truth: Flashback

At Endangerad Truth you can now find a clip from "Paralyzed in Paradise", the short script assignment I got.

This is the first thing I've written that become a real moving image!

The script is not completely finished yet. This was shot now because it is outdoors and dependent on season and weather.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The ultimate fight?

I was contacted by an aspiring screenwriter from Sweden who wanted me to read and give feedback to the first half of his short script.

Have you seen old Disney shorts where a little angel and a devil pops out and have an argument? The story was based on this concept, but in serious terms.

The concept was interesting but I realized I would never have tried it myself. Not because it is a bad idea, but because I’m likely too much of a coward.

You see, an angel and a devil are two very stereotypic characters; as stereotype as they can be, really. And I would have presumed that there was not much to find.

Also there is the situation that the angel is Good and does the Right Thing, so whatever the angel says is right, is right. So, if the angel says "call the cops", we want the main character to call the cops, since it is the Right Thing to do.

I don’t know how this story ends since only the first half was written, but I do hope that he surprises me and I will find that I was wrong in my assumptions that there is nothing to explore.

Never the less, it was refreshing to read his script, just because he wasn’t wearing his condemning glasses, but actually started on an idea so easily considered doomed to fail.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Did I write more?

I have made a very interesting reflection concerning my writing activity.

Some time ago I felt that I had too much on my hands and put several things aside, to have more time to write.

Did I write more?

No. Less!

Obviously, I need these other things as well.

I must stop listen to people who tells me I can't split myself and still get something with quality out of it.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day: Small changes will have big effect

For me, it does not matter if there are any climate changes or not. Nothing gives us the rights to pollute, overuse, and waste.

In my world it is completely obvious that if we ruin the environment it will sooner or later strike back at ourselves. Earth is too small and we too many for us to hide our mistakes and move on.

When do we ruin? When do we waste?

In my opinion it is when we take without giving back; when we destroy without repairing.

Every item we produce only to use once and then throw away is a waste. If I instead can use the item five times, I have saved energy and material to produce four new items. No matter how little, it counts in the long run.

Every time we neglect to recycle an item in best possible way, we waste.

What is “best possible way” is not always easy, but I’m quite certain that dumping or burning do very rarely qualify.

I know people who roll their eyes when I question why I must have a LED display shining twenty-four hours on my microwave oven. “It is hardly any energy to talk about”. Perhaps, but does that justify the use of energy without any reason?

It's not because I'm tight on my money, it's about saving the Earth!

So, bring the light down a little on your computer screen, disconnect any transformer not currently in use and write on both sides of the paper.

Small changes from an individual counts.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The third act of the first draft

I’ve almost accepted that a first draft is allowed to have a glitch or two.

When I’m writing on Sunlight (my current feature movie script project) I know where I’m heading and why, but in detail what will happen – sorry, but no.

I had planned the scenes for act one and two, but now when it comes to act three, I’m a little uncertain if it will do any good.

You see, I’m afraid that I will either get limited by the script as it is written or get back and rewrite to get a setup for something I’ve forgotten.

Of course it will turn out that setups are missing, once the whole story is in place. It’s a first draft! Even though I know what will happen on an overall level, I’m not even certain what will happen on the next page.

I’m still learning to get the best out of me.

Maybe this is a good way. Maybe it will be a horrible mess.

Since I’m not the kind of writer that can dump out an idea just like that in any readable form, maybe I should have planned the whole script? I don’t know. It didn’t feel right then. Then one act at a time felt best.

But once I started to write, I didn’t want to break and get back to planning.

I do miss my notes. They kick-started my creative flow.

Well, no matter result, this is the way I will write this script.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Rewriting a bulky line of dialog

What I’m working with now is a piece of dialog in my short script “WG”.

Apart from a few grammatical errors one line of dialog is my major problem, according to my feedback.

It is too bulky.

An important line is bulky!

You don’t want to have an important line bulky.

Lines that constitute an essential emotional turning point for the main character should be understood instantly.

How to achieve this?

One way is to slow things down. Instead of deliver a long line, another character can break in with a comment or a question, which give us – the audience – time to grasp what’s going on.

But this tends to be like getting the last toothpaste out of the tube: annoying. I mean, you want that perfect “punchline”; you don’t want to squeeeeze it out.

Another way – the hard way – is to rewrite the line until it sparkles.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Nobel Peace Price

I would like to congratulate all Americans for having a Nobel Peace Price winner as President.

Read more here

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The hen or the egg? Yes, it matters to me

Robert asked if it really matters if it was the hen or the egg (see previous blog entry).

When it comes to me understanding my own writing process it does matter if it is the hen or the egg. But I also respect that this is does not matter to the readers liking my blog.

I believe that it is important to write every day. To focus and write about something, anything.

If it is a blog or a script or a poem does not really matter.

I started this blog to keep myself writing and when I did I also kept on working with my current script. It paid off that I wrote close to every day. And that feeling is great.

So when I’m making slow progress on my current feature script I have to ask myself why.

Yes, I have been writing on other things, like the script based on Robert’s story, and my own short script. That is as it should be. Those go first.

But now, “between works”, why don’t I write that much on my current feature?

If I’m not in the mood, I ask myself why. I know it is no good to sit on my butt and wait for inspiration.

I want to be able to write professionally. In my day job I’m known to be a reliable team player delivering on time. That is a trademark I like to keep. But then I must understand how I work when I write. And when I don’t write.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Is it just beautiful feathers?

First I thought I didn’t have anything to write about.

Then I reminded myself why I have a blog.

The blog is not there for me to write brilliant entries for the world to awe at. Brilliant is a bonus in case it ever happens.

The blog is there for me to keep writing even when I feel there is nothing to write about.

I need the audience to push myself. I need to feel that there is someone watching, someone judging what I do. Or don’t do.

The progress bar for what ever feature script I’m working on is there for the same reason. I need to keep it moving to look good, to be an apt pupil and do my homework. And keep me writing!

This might sound silly, or idiotic even, but this has aided me a great deal. That’s a fact.

And now I’ve been blogging for so long that I almost forgot why I started to write. That it is the blogging that got me moving and helped me to make progress.

And suddenly I find myself thinking that I don’t need to write today, because there is nothing to write about.

Sunlight’s progress bar moves too slow.

The hen or the egg?

Do I write too little on my script because I’ve hard time getting started because I write too little overall, like blogging? Or the other way around?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Mount El’brus

Has Mount Blanc become smaller? Or has Caucasus grown higher? Neither of course, but still, Mount Blanc is no longer the highest peak in Europe. Mount El’brus is.

Mount Blanc is 4 808 meters high. Mount El’brus stands 5 642 meters. Why did my schoolbooks tell me that the highest peak in Europe is Mount Blanc?

The answer is the Soviet Union.

The lack of working politics between the two halves of Europe had effects even in the geography books.

Neither did we learn about the different countries that the Soviet Union consisted of. Except for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania that we all learned were invaded and incorporated unwillingly.

The Soviet Union wasn’t interested in Europe. We were not interested in them.

But I can’t help to feel disappointed of the whole of Sweden when I realize that even something so simple and non political and very measurable and objective like the height of a mountain peak was altered to suit the needs.

Caucasus is not part of Europe, some might say. Well, I accept that there are different opinions about this.

Did you know that it was a Swede suggesting where the boarder to Asia should be? He drew the line 300 km north of the Caucasus Mountains, through a depression. Now this was about 1730 so he probably didn’t do it to exclude Mount El’brus from Europe. At least I hope not.

Now, he was not alone to draw the boarder between Asia and Europe, and more than one line leaves Mount El’brus belonging to Europe.

My point is: I didn’t even know that Mount El’brus existed when I went to school. The Soviet Union was a big gray area that minded their own business. Period.

Friday, October 2, 2009

How I start constructing a movie script

It starts with a scene or a situation.

Where this scene fits into the rest vary, but it often turns out to be in the first haft of the story.

I decide whose story this is, whose point of view.

And then I settle for a beginning and an end, the first and the last images. These images represent the main character’s changes. The first image is also a mood image for the story.

In my feature script “Kim” for instance, I think I will change the first image when I decide to start the rewrite, because it shows her making love and I think it is more appropriate to show her as the assassin she is.

Then I need to figure out what kind of obstacles are in the way and how the final victory will be. It is the time where the main character passes all the tests and proves her worthy. This is a part of the process I need to work with and learn more. I feel for instance that the finale in “Kim” has too little connection with her obstacles getting there.

Next step for me is to find the ultimate happiness moment for the main character. This is the scene in the middle of the story. It’s a point of no return scene. It is a moment where maybe the main character thinks that all goes well, maybe even won.

This matches the contrast scene close to the end of act two which Blake Snyder calls “all is lost”. This I try to make as a contrast of the previous described scene.

In “Kim” the “happy scene” is where she gets married and “all is lost” is where she has lost her husband and tries to commit suicide when the police close in; Two scenes in sharp contrast to each other.

I keep this basic structure as a skeleton to build the rest of the story.

These four scenes help me to remember where I’m heading and where I am each moment in the story.

When I start writing the first draft I might change things if I feel they don’t fit any longer. But I try to keep the contrasts in mind, because I feel it creates a movement in the story.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

An understanding mother - too late

I sit at my work somewhat out of focus which is not a pleasant feeling.

And suddenly I realize why my two-and-a-half-year-old didn’t want to stay at the preschool today.

He probably had the same confused feeling.

This morning we had visited BVC (which is short for child care center) for his language and social skills checkup. He had a good time and enjoyed it.

But when we stood at the door to the preschool the mood turned, although he likes to be there.

Just like when I return to work after having a morning like this, makes me jump out of the daily rhythm, the little fellow experienced the same.

I’m a grown up, I can handle those things; Or at least I know what is happening and why.

He probably just felt the unpleasant feeling of being confused and off track and didn’t know what to do about it. So he started to cry and wanted to go home.

And I stared perplexed and wondered what on Earth happened now.

(Although once inside with his jacket and shoes off he was quickly back on track. I won’t be back on my tracks until an hour or so.)