Tuesday, June 29, 2010

In search for an answer, part III:b

I hope you don’t think I’m a lunatic. Because I am not. At least not much.

The Western cultures have an annoying urge to be normal. And if something is out of the ordinary it is something wrong or evil.

I think this line of thinking comes from the Bible: “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness”. If the normal human is God’s image, then anything that does not fit in the norm is not God’s doings. And then it is evil.

I’ve seen videos on YouTube from India where deformed children are praised, not banished, because oddities are a sign of being selected and special.

I’ve heard of cultures where insanity was a sign of closeness to God.

So it’s just a matter of attitude, just as much as beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I don’t thrive to be normal. I never have. That seems too boring to me. But I don’t like a seesaw in my brain playing tricks with me.

Don’t worry. I do function in a normal society. I can keep deadlines. I know what responsibility is. As far as I know my writing does not suffer.

But I do have periods when I’m in great need of hearing how good, loved and needed I am. And I want this overwhelmingly much at these times.

On the other hand we can all need this as a reminder to tell these things to people around us, because everybody actually would need to hear it.

Monday, June 28, 2010

In search for an answer, part III

Oh no, I know what this feeling means. It means a mental down slope.

I should have noticed earlier, really, because I turned very sensitive and aggressive and my patience became short.

But heck, I’ve not had a down slope since I started to think in terms of bipolarity. And I thought that maybe I wasn’t bipolar after all, just looking for something that wasn’t there.

This down slope however appeared out of nowhere. Last week and the week before that were not different form this week. Why now, unless there is a hidden seesaw somewhere in the brain that I don’t know of?

I had a discussion with the CTO at work that turned bad without me getting why. “You do have a way of expression yourself sometimes” he said “hitting one right out of the blue.” I got a calm person turning really angry, without me getting why.

And when my head is like this I can’t let that discussion go. It keeps pounding in my head. Like it wants to turn time backwards making things undone, telling me I’ve made myself a fool for all time. It’s not a good sign.

I need a break. Of the kind that stops cars. Or rather an ice axe to jam into the icy slope breaking my slide.

Right now I just want to be alone somewhere minding my own business.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Search and replace

I did one of these funny mistakes during rewrite. "Dad" should have a name. So instead of a character "Dad" there would be a "Per".

Search and replace.

And then the daughter calls her dad by his first name. . .

Not only had I changed all the DAD over dialog lines, but every single "dad" in the whole script.

Ooops. . .

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

In the twilight

Is it just me or are my blog entries more interesting when I write on my own scripts, written on speculation?

When I write on something commissioned, I don’t want to spill too much of the story and definitely not something negative. When I write something of my own it’s completely up to me what I want to write.

Then it is a matter of time too. Most writing assignments mean deadlines to be kept. This blog is my writer’s face to the World, so I want to maintain it and keep it updated. But I can’t do some magic and add an extra hour now and then. The time I have to write these entries is the first to get a little torn.

Which is stupid in a way, because I need to show my writing ability here. Boring entries, spelling errors and grammatical mishaps are not welcome. With a sloppy blog I don’t get any jobs.

On the other hand I don’t want to miss a deadline because I was writing on my blog. That is not a suitable excuse.

I feel like I am in some weird twilight zone. I don’t earn enough to support myself, but if I don’t take the plunge, maybe I never will.

I’m such a coward. It is called grown-up with family and responsibilities as well.

So, I’ll do my best to keep my blog at high standards and still keep my deadlines. What else can I do?

"The Death of Old Tommy" and other things

In the middle of July ”Fåglarna tittar på oss” will go into production.

What will I do then?

I’ll continue with my adaption of “Mord i Malmö” of course. It will feel great when the first version is done and the rewriting and tuning can start.

Then I’ve received some great feedback on my short script “The Death of Old Tommy” which basically is about grammatical and spelling errors – sigh! I fooled myself thinking I could write English again.

I read as far as I’ve written on “The Beautymaker” and it is simply great! Wow, damn I’m good. Sometimes.

ERG” I felt far less confident with after reading. That one needs rethinking. Maybe I’ll merge two characters. It is messy and out of focus somehow. The main character is as interesting as a slice of toast while one of the villains is far more interesting, not to mention her mother who is stunning. Yep, out of focus all right.

I guess I shouldn’t be too sad about giving scripts up. “The Beautymaker” started as a horrible script written about five years ago. I think both “ERG” and “Sunlight” will return and be far better than they are now.

“The Recreators” – a feature script very close to my heart – is up on a producer’s table! Since it has an odd structure I had given up hope on that one. But one day a producer asked for scripts matching certain criteria which fit my “The Recreators” I took contact, described my story and got a request for the script in return. I’m told the producer loves it, but as it is not set in our ordinary world, it will demand some budget. Let’s hope he finds people with money.

So, the future lies ahead and I can’t wait to get there.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A screenwriter is like the architect

I don’t know how to write this post without sounding pompous, so bare with me if you think I sound too unbearable.

Story is not all that is needed. It’s not just to write it down and you got a script that works. No matter how good the story is, a movie script is so much more than just a story written in a special format.

I’m writing this since the co-writer I wrote about in the previous post claims that it is his story and he don’t want to pay me to use his own story.

True, it is his story. But I’m the one who reshaped his story into a movie script. Is that of no value?

Forums and such tell you that an idea or a story on a notepad is worthless. To get anywhere with this great and fantastic story never heard of before, you need to have it as a script. The script has a value, the raw idea has not.

So what does a screenwriter do with a story that is so special?

Dialog for one thing. Every word spoken must be considered and written. There is no such thing like “they continue to speak about it for an hour” or “he spoke lavishly about her big feet”. Every word count and is part of the whole picture. Every word matches the one who spoke it.

Structure is another thing. Not only the over all structure that might already be there, but the structure in smaller scale. Even every scene has a structure, a point and a purpose.

Then we have the characters. A rough story has characters, and they might have their backgrounds ready, but it is the screenwriter who brings them to life on the paper.

It’s the screenwriter who makes you see a movie and not written text when you read the script.

Everyone can get a great idea for a movie. But to get it into a movie you need a screenwriter.

With a finished script you can start your production. You can give it to the actors, props, makeup, sound, costume and so on and they will understand what it’s all about. It is literary a blue-print.

If you want to build a house you maybe do some sketches and write a few notes about what you want. You don’t take these to the carpenter; you take them to an architect. The architect produces materials that the carpenter can use. And the plumbers, and the electrician and so on.

It’s the same with screenwriters.

Do you pay the architect, or do you say “it’s my idea, you just did the blueprints”? No? Fine, then we understand each other.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Co-writing project that didn't work out

I've made a tactical mistake.

I've made an investment that will likely not pay off.

No, no, not an investment in money. An investment in time.

He had a story; I know how to write a script. The result is four funny pages with a minimal amount of dialog. I'm really proud about it.

Now we disagree with each other. The script is ready; we are both pleased with the result, but. . . BUT!

We had written a contract sharing the ownership of the resulting script, splitting the winnings 50/50.

Now, the thing is, he has done a movie before and it turned out that he was pretty interested in filming our script himself. Something I had to approve of according to contract. If he films it himself, the script will not be sold and no money to share.

And here is the problem: He is not interested in paying me for the script.

I offered him "my half" of the script for a small amount of money - it's only four pages after all - but because of some principle that his movie projects should not have anything to do with financials, he could not pay me.

I, like any screen writer want my scripts filmed. I could give him the script for free, sharing the ownership of the final film instead, but first of all it will be problematic to produce the movie with two producers in different locations and once the movie is done every call must be approved by both. And since we disagree about things now, I don't think things will be better later.

I want to give him free hands. If he pays me, I will leave him alone.

If I felt that the little short movie would reach out to the World I could consider to give him the script, but his attitude about finances gives me a feeling that it will not even reach YouTube.

I spent my time as an investment that I hoped would pay off. Pay off in the form of a movie or money which both in their own ways will help me to become a full-time writer.

Then I don't want to write a script for free to someone who films just for fun as some form of artistic project. Never write for free unless it is family or maybe close friends. This type of arrangement I will never, ever do again. It simply isn't worth the risk.

What bothers me most is that I feel he wasn't honest about his intentions. Maybe he wasn't aware of them at the time or I didn't pay attention, I don't know. But I feel cheated.

The fact that he by some form of principle refuses to pay me when he wants to do the movie himself came as a cold shower. You can't get a good movie without a good script, but he doesn't think that is worth paying for!

Honestly, I'm pissed.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The final scene

I’m about to write the final lines of the first draft of “Fåglarna tittar på oss”.

I want it sweet without dripping with syrup, serious without being complicated.

They will find each other, but he can’t just say “hi, nice to see you again, of course I love you”.

He must be the final obstacle for her to pass, without him being a dumbass.

I know exactly what I want. I remember a quarrel my parents had once, which I will not expose here, but it included words that sort of backfired and an especially messed up yarn of emotions to handle afterwards. Perfect for this story. And I also want to include some of those “cultural clashes” and misunderstandings that easily appear when two people fall in love.

Without messing it all up.

Hmm. . .

When done, I’ll send it to Sx2 Productions for consideration and feedback, and then I’ll start rewriting.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Names of characters

My brother-in-law expressed that he would join XXX at a party, because she would stay sober. Of course she will, with that name, I replied, not remembering where I was.

For me a person with that name stays sober. I don’t know why, it’s just obvious.

But that is of course for me, naming characters all the time. For my brother-in-law, and as for most people not writing regularly, name and character have nothing to do with each other. You get your name long before anyone knows what you will become. If your name reflects anything it is only your parents’ ideal, not yours.

Still, how come I have a guy at work with a completely wrong name?

How come my first reaction to the name my brother-in-law mentioned was the she would be sober at all times?

Of course it has something to do about persons I’ve met before with those names. But some names are simply too common for me to think of a particular person. And I’ve only met one person with the name my brother-in-law mentioned and I can’t even remember what attitude she might have had towards alcohol.

As for my brother-in-law’s friend, she didn’t stay sober at all.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The third act went by

And here I go again. A too quick and easy third act.

I’m thinking of my current project The Birds are Looking at Us.

It’s not the first time I’m staring at a third act that went by just like that and I wonder what happened.

That is one of the advantages with short scripts: I notice these things much quicker.

And another advantage is that the solution does not have to be something covering ten pages or more, but just a few pages, a scene or two.

In this case I found pretty fast what was missing.

But I wonder why I’m so lousy at third acts. It’s the grand finale, the high peek of the story, the place where I can show my worthy and not just the main character’s.

It’s the impassable obstacle that never is quite as impassable as needed and there is always a quick route around it once the main character is there.

Maybe it is my own attitude towards problems.

Or maybe simply lack of imagination.

It’s like my abilities in chess. The first half is fine, but I never know how to attack.

I know how to build up the first and the second acts but I do a check mate on myself when I write the third.

Pretty interesting. And also my next phase in my development as a writer.

Queen's Gambit Marshall-Kapablanka 1909
Painting by личная работа (Nina Silaeva), 2007
Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The sweet breeze of a quiet revolution

I feel a change in the air.

I think Celtx will survive and Final Draft not.

No, not because I liked Celtx better but because it is free and open. Especially open. Like Wikipedia. I think the time when we just want to be fed with information and tools are gone. Now we want the option to participate.

I’m not sure the result of the collaboration work of the common people always will be better, but I think it is the only way of surviving for any software company.

Just as I think music to download from the Internet are here to stay, legal or not.

People have found their freedom and will not let it go.

There might also be a change in the air in movie making.

When I read the e-mails from Robert A Vollrath and he writes about his vision about ego-free producing and a new way to look upon the process I feel the sweet breeze of a quiet revolution.

I don’t want to express his vision as it is his and he should use his own words to describe it, but rather my impression of it. And that is a way to produce a movie where the one paying is not doing a movie according to his/hers ideas but rather the visions of the writer and the director as well. In a way paying someone else’s dream to come true, trusting the project without making all the decisions.

I think that this way of thinking might spread as ripples in the water.

And once we writers found that freedom we will not let it go.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Fear for learning blocks the brain

One very positive thing about starting my own company – a process which I started last Friday – is that I finally have to deal with my fear for economics.

I just simply don’t want to touch the subject. Money on the account, fine. All I want to do is keep an eye on the Visa use.

Now I’ll start with bookkeeping. Understand VAT, taxes, accounts. Things that I simply refused to understand before. Now I have to. And that is simply great.

It is a good thing to attack those “don’t want to” things.

My grandmother is very good at painting. But she never learned how to do faces. And she had such an understanding teacher at school, she has told me, so she never had to try to do what she couldn’t do.

What a bitch! A teacher should encourage their students to learn what they can’t do, not to avoid it.

Yes, I know, we can’t be good at all things. A friend of mine wanted to learn diving, but said that she could never do that. A very enthusiastic diver stepped in and began to pep her getting started until she said “I’ve only got one lung”.

So, maybe my grandmother would never had been able to draw faces, but she never tried to learn.

As I’ve never tried to learn economics.

All those fears for learning stop the system, block the brain, cause big plugs of halted flow in the mind. Learning is a good thing. Now, let’s kick one of those big plugs out of the system.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Celtx won over Final Draft

I've always been a fan of Final Draft.

But. . .

The registration process has been tiresome lately. And to my netbook without Internet connection and cd drive it has been close to ridiculous. I mean, honestly, why waste so much time to prove I'm a legal user when it is costless and much more efficient to download a cracked version from the Internet? Because of honesty.

So when I heard of the free Celtx I was interested and put it on my must-try-someday-list. That someday was yesterday.

And now I'm a Celtx fan.

It was so much more than a screenwriting program. It was an organizing heaven. I could add all my mindmaps and documents to one big project file and see it all in one place. I could add a calender and add deadlines and other events. I could have bookmarks to pages on the Internet.

I was thrilled.

But how about its writing abilities? After all, that was what I really needed.

I imported the script I'm working on at the moment. It had the same page numbers afterwords - that's a good sign. And then I started to write.

And write. . .

And write. . .

No problem what so ever.

So I was a Final Draft fan who changed simply because it was too complicated to be a legal customer.

And found something better. It's not every day one does that.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hello Anonymous

In general I don't delete comments. But it happens. It happened today for instance. Anonymous had left no less than eight identical comments on the eight blog entries displayed. All with links to sites Anonymous probably wanted to get some attention on.

Sometimes I get comments that very much feel like the writer leaves at my blog because of the dofollow. This means that the link given at the usename is counted when things like page rank are calucated.

But as long as the comment seems relevant and the writer appears to have read the article I leave it alone.

But dear Anonymous, what were you thinking when you wrote eight identical comments? That I would fall for the flattering words and leave the rubbish where it was? And being anonymous does not raise the value of your copy-paste activity, you know.

So here is some friendly advice for those of you just passing by and want to comment just to have a counted link:

  • Read the article you comment to.

  • Write unique comments for each article.

  • Flattering words are fine, but content is better.

  • Don't think I'm stupid and blind and don't see if you try to get some free commercial. Add it respectfully, and it might be allowed to stay.

Thank you.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A suitable name for my company, part II

It’s amazing how many names that are taken.

I’m thinking of the name of my soon to be company. I’ve had twenty-thirty ideas that all have fallen due to occupancy.

I have this idea that I might want to have a website for my company, and a dot-se is not what I had in mind but a dot-com domain, since I work internationally.

If there is any company in the world with the same name that have an international public in mind or happens to be in the US, that dot-com domain is taken.

Now I’m down to two possible names and both work. Two is good.

One is all I need in the end. So two means options.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A quick dark night of the soul

I’ve been working with the mind mapping program FreeMind for some time and saw to my delight that you now could add your own icons.

You can add one or more icons to each node in your map, but as I’m in little need of symbols for priority, phones and paperclips I’ve not used them much.

But since a mind map is a very visual way to structure a story a small image here and there would not make it worse.

But honestly, a sad smiley icon for the All Is Lost Moment didn’t feel very dignified.

So when I saw that for the new beta version you could add your own I started to work. I mean, I’m not bad at these things. I’ve made all the software icons for all the programs the company I work for release.

But. . .

This was not one of my brightest creations.

Mostly because I felt that I just wanted a quick symbol.

Quick. . . Yeah. How often do one make quality quick?

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Birds Are Looking At Us - Deadline ahead

I’ve 18 days to deadline and I’ve 60% left to write.


On the other hand those first 40% I’ve written in seven days. 18 pages.

No, I’m not worried.

If math is to be trusted the script will be ready in ten days.

I love the story and the first draft floats nicely when I type on the keyboard.

Well, it’s not like I don’t go back and rewrite or halts to consider what they should say and do, but I know I will deliver on time unless I get overrun by a truck or something like that.

It’s not the first time I have to remind myself that I’m not the leading lady in the story. It is so easy to be one half of the dialog. It’s not about what I should have said in the situation, but what she will say at this very moment in the story. Suddenly I realize that it’s me talking again.

What I found most difficult with this script is that the main characters are teenagers. Teenagers of a kind that I never was. I never drank, robbed banks, cut my wrists and screwed every guy I could (oh, sorry, I spilled some of the story, and a little more). But just as it could be problematic to understand how the bad guy thinks, I have to figure it out and make her true. Find those emotions that I understand and know about and use them.

This is going to be forty-five great pages.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A suitable name for my company

It is hard to find a suitable name for my company.

I know exactly what kind of name I want, but my family disagrees with my suggestions. Now, since there is a small risk that they can be right, I continue to find new ideas a little longer. There is no rush yet.

Everybody tells me to keep it short.

My mom says one word, my husband no more than two. My ideas all have three or four.

And I want the name to be something with trees or forest, because I’ve realized how much I love the Swedish forests and what strength the trees give me.

Now, this may sound silly or overly spiritual, but that’s okay. I prefer that to a name that sound like an ordinary company. And I’m the one that got to spend most time with the name.

And after all, it is still me writing, and my own name to be published, not necessarily my company’s. I still want a good name though.

So these are the names disqualified so far:

  • Magic Forest – my first choice. It gave too many hits on Google, and yes, too childish hits.

  • Descript – mom’s first choice. Nice idea, de’s-script, but it felt too impersonal. And it was taken.

  • Dend – mom’s second choice. It turned out to be a short for a mental disease and a word for stupid.

I want something like “Up-in-a-tree” or “Within-a-tree”, but all my husband said was “seek help” (meaning I was a nutcase thinking those where good names).

And I don’t want it to include “writing” since I then limit my options for the company.

I tried to look for names in the Nordic folklore and the Viking’s mythology, but not very surprising, all the good ones where already taken.

Besides, does “huldra” has any meaning outside Scandinavia? And the ironic with that word is that it is the Norwegian word for what Swedes call “skogsrå”. And I’m not sure I want to be associated with a naked woman walking around in the forest seducing men so they never return home.

So I keep thinking.

And write. It’s the writing that sells after all, isn’t it?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Just Effing: You Know How I Know You’re a Writer?

Julie Gray has a quite funny blog entry about different types of writers.

The "stay-at-home" is not true for me, but otherwise. . .

"Your stay-at-home mother who feels landlocked creatively and is taking time for herself type. This person is so excited to write but has a hard time finding the time. But she has great ideas and isn’t willing to table her writing for 12 years til Junior is in middle school and god bless her.

Personal challenge: Finding the time and energy to write. She seems to come last in the family hierarchy of needs, especially because secretly she worries that writing IS perhaps a silly thing to spend time doing.

Julie says: You go, girl! Writing is not a silly thing. You are part of the tribe. Model for Junior that following one’s dreams IS the most important thing, right behind Thin Mints and swimming lessons.

Thanks Kim for the tip.

No, I’m not quitting my day-job

It’s been a bit quiet from me lately.

I’ve had computer problems – still have partially. This is at work, so even if it doesn’t effect my blog entries since I, of course, don’t write these on working hours, it affected my ability to publish anything (which I mostly do from my working computer, since my number of computer hours – sorry, minutes - at home are limited to say the least, so I use it for things I cannot do anytime else - write at home, publish at work).

Then I have decided to start my own company. No, I’m not quitting my day-job. I simply want to use the advantages of earning money on my writing. I’ve been on information meetings and it is not really that difficult (in Sweden). A lot to think of, yes, but it’s just me and a limited sum of money. I don't need a $40 000 investment like the woman beside me.

So, stay in touch.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A gender issue in moviescripts

I wonder what would happen if I wrote a script with all male characters and then changed half of them to women without changing anything else.

Of course I would let a dice select which ones to change.

I would get a script without sexual implications (unless a possible homosexual relation was part of the plan) and also without any hierarchy based on sex.

A sexual relation is something that most people can relate to and connect with. But sometimes I feel it is a too easy way to take. And definitely overused.

Look at Alien. My favorite script when I discuss these matters. Two women among men, but no tits and no kisses throughout the whole movie. Not once as far as I remember is the subject of man vs woman mentioned. They are simply all teammates.

I think it is true that the script was written with male characters in mind.

And that is another subject of interest: Female characters have a great habit to behave differently from male counterparts. Mine too.

The overall desire from the industry to get away from cliché images of women sometimes ends up just as bad.

The Finish language has one word for “he” and “she”. I want to use that word throughout my scripts and afterwards let the dice decide who is what.

I actually think I then would get a script closer to real characters than I would otherwise.

And I might be able to solve the characters problems with other means than sex.