Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bombastic Action, anyone?

No, I’ll be not be ready with the second draft of “Mord i Malmö” on the date set.


My internal deadline, yes, so no real harm done, only my pride.

I had, I thought, a great idea for the third act.

But it didn’t work.

I read the relevant parts of the book again. It’s from a first person point of view, and he sees things and analyzes what he see; interesting, yes, but not very visual. I needed something more of a bombastic moving visual thing to happen.

In the book the main character searches an individual’s apartment and finds a lesbian porn magazine. He becomes embarrassed, realizing how much trespassing he is really doing, but what we as viewers see is nothing more than just simply a lesbian porn magazine, and we expect this to lead somewhere. We don’t feel embarrassed because we are not the ones snooping around and we can’t know that this is what the main character feels and if we did, we would still expect this to lead somewhere.

So I have a ten minutes gap in the story. Bombastic Action, please reveal yourself.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The blog for the Graphic Novel

Here is the blog for the Graphic Novel project:
The Recreators

Please visit and pass the link around.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Review: “Essentials of Screenwriting” by Richard Walter

Some time ago I was asked by a PR-office to review “Essentials of Screenwriting” by Richard Walter - who is a professor and screenwriting chairman on UCLA – here on my blog. I love to read books on the subject and accepted.

“Essentials of Screenwriting” is a book that entertained me. If you read a book about how to tell a story the least one could expect is to find the book fascinating and irresistible. Richard Walter succeeded admirably to keep my interest on top all the way through 376 pages.

The book is not only speckled by great knowledge and pieces of advice, but also filled with amusing stories from the writer’s own life, rich of experience and insight.

I would say that this book mostly turns to those new to screenwriting, but has been writing for a little while and maybe finished a script. Although I’ve been writing for a long time I found interesting comments and felt enlighten afterwards.

Richard Walter has split the contents in four parts: Art, Craft, Business and The Whole Picture (which is basically a case study).

The first part, Art, is about the actual script: how to build a story, theme, structure, to make it personal, writing dialog and formatting.

One thing that especially caught my attention was Richard Walter’s emphasis to put faith in the actor’s ability to deliver a line without the writer of the script underlining words and end sentences with “. . .”. I must admit that my own dialogs are pretty much in favour of using “. . .” but I liked his advice and has begun to remove them. The dialog looks pretty stiff on the paper now, I think, but just as much as I don’t underline and use (angry)-directions, I think I can live with my missing dots as well.

The writer also points out the importance to use the environment where the character is; to not place them in a diner just to give them something to do. A very important aspect I think, which I sadly have neglected too often so far.

The second part, Craft, works with you as a writer, how to find a writing habit and to help you to handle criticisms, for example.

To learn to put your ego on the side, to learn when to let go of a script and to find methods to bring out those extraordinary ideas are all important aspects of writing.

Then comes the third part, Business, which I actually read first. All about script sales strategies I found extremely interesting. Although most people say it is almost impossible to get a script sold, Richard Walter’s advice and experience gave me hope when he explained the mechanisms behind things.

The contents of the book is solid, valuable and also fun to read.

There are some areas however which is less explored than one could expect and the subject of characters is one of those. This book is focused on story rather than how to form good characters and even less the use of heros and villians.

Another area is how to break into the business other ways than sending query letters. There are ways to form a network of people and finally find someone recommending you, and perhaps a little more about the modern social networks on the Internet and its possibilities should have been included.

On the other hand, the title is “Essentials of Screenwriting”, and maybe these two areas are not considered essential by the writer.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in screenwriting. Especially to those who want to break into Hollywood.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Back to work!

After my drawback with Mord i Malmö (crashed file, no proper backup, rewriting my previous rewrites) I sort of feel subdued on the subject.

That is not acceptable.

I made a mistake in not keeping valid backups and caused myself a lot of extra work. Now it is done. Leave the regrets behind you.

I can’t let myself float along those emotions. First of all they are destructive and secondly it’s not very professional.

So let’s go to work.

Monday, September 20, 2010

News about Old Tommy

Most readers of "the Death of Old Tommy" has liked it, but also asked why he wishes for in total three hundred more years of life. Even if we all from time to time think life is too short, in a movie you need a specific reason.

One of my best critics suggested that the reason would be a woman. Not necessarily a love story, but maybe someone he needed to care for. I liked the idea.

But as I tried different approaches in my mind, I found to my dismay that it didn't work.

As the story is now, it is, I think, pretty solid in structure and tempo. The mood is good, number of actors few and the story has focus. Adding a woman or a child in this short story would also add a new dimension and complexity that I didn't want. I want that simple fairytale style over it. This is a story where characters like Death, Devil and God appear solid persons. I didn't succeed in adding a child or a woman being abandoned by his death, without adding seriousness that I didn't seem fit.

And then there is the time aspect. Let’s say he has an orphaned grandchild to care for. He wants to live long enough to see the child grow up and live her own life. Why ask for a hundred years? Then you live long enough to see the grandchild die as well.

So I have to add a reason for a long life within the story that already is.

And then I found out: the reason that he gets three wishes in the first place! He gets God's favor because he gives food and shelter to people in need. That is something I could easily enhance. He simply loves what he is doing.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The premier of "Fåglarna tittar på oss"

If you put twenty teenagers in a room would you expect them to succeed in making a movie?

When Simon Jansson told me that he intended to engage inexperienced youths to do the movie I wasn't up over my ears with joy, but it wasn't my call and I kept my opinions to myself. And after all, the idea itself wasn't bad, I thought, just the length of the movie for the project.

With budget to have rented equipment and crew with beds and meals for a week they started filming.

I don't think the result turned out as expected for anyone; Simon Holmstöm told me they had to dump many camera glides because they were bumpy, and Simon Jansson, the director, said it was only one shoot that he was entirely pleased with cinematically; but they had a vision and they thrived to reach it.

Yes, sure, with more money and time, the result would have been better, I don't deny that. Then that blurry take could have been replaced and both talking actors would have stayed within the frame of the picture, but I think that is beside the point. With money and experience you can do whatever you like. They did a tremendous job with neither.

These youths dived right into something they knew little about and made a movie. Is that something, or is that something?

Afterwards the main crew had dinner at a restaurant and I sat beside the only other grown-up present. She had been helping them finding finances for their project. She told me the terms the restaurant set for letting them book a table for twenty teenagers were her presence as a responsible grown-up and continued: "Considering that these youths handled themselves for a week with food and all and made a movie on top of that, I felt that was kind of superfluous."

I think Sx2 Productions - as team or as individuals - will have dazzling futures.

Photo belong to Sx2 Productions

Thursday, September 16, 2010

All my rewriting is bye, bye

Just a short note of whining and complaining.

My rewriting so far of "Mord i Malmö" has gone bye, bye. The @#¤% file crashed. My latest backup is before I started the rewrite.

Well, I guess I should be happy it's just the "easy" rewrites and not the big stuff I thought I should do on the train tomorrow.

Guess my planning just took a step out of the map.

Premier approaching

The birth of the graphic novel will get a blog of its own. I’m working on it now and I hope to be able to open it to public within a month. There you will be able to follow the story’s journey on its way to become the most stunning graphic novel ever (I’m not making you nervous now, Robert, am I).

Tomorrow I’ll jump on a train at eight-thirty in the morning and arrive at Mariehamn on Åland at six in the afternoon. I’ll have plenty of time to write on “Mord i Malmö” and read a book I got sent to me from the publisher to review. And equally back home again.

I don’t mind long journeys, because I hardly ever get bored, but it is interesting that it takes so long to travel so relatively short. It takes marginally longer to get to Washington D.C. from where I live, and then I cross the Atlantic.

Well, anyway, I’ll have plenty to tell when I get back.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I'm going to Åland

This is exciting times.

On Friday I’ll travel to Mariehamn on Åland to attend the premier of “Fåglarna tittar på oss”, a short movie (about 45 minutes) produced by Sx2 Production, directed by Simon Johnson and script written by me. See the trailer here.

I’ll see the result of the work for the first time and meet the guys and gals on the project for the first time as well. I know for sure what I’m most nervous about.

Then Robert A Vollrath and I will soon get two interesting projects going.

He liked my script “the Recreators”, but since it is not a small budget feature he pitched the idea to make a graphic novel out of it. Now this seams to become reality with Robert himself as the artist.

The other project consists of three feature scripts where I will act as script doctor. I’m not entitled to tell much more than that.

I've also started to rewrite "Mord i Malmö" and I'm pleased to announce that two-thirds are great, and the last third is a wreck soon to bee rebuilt.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The first draft is what it is

I’ve finished the first draft of “the Beautymaker”.

I didn’t write the last two scenes.

Honestly, I’m the only one who will ever read this first version, and I already know that my current ending will be changed. I wrote a note at the end what was missing and ended it there.

I’ve also made a note about my ideas for the rewrite. It would be awful if I forgot about it.

You might ask why I don’t go right back and start the rewrite now when I know what to do, but I tell you, it is not that easy.

When I write a story I live in this bubble of the story’s perfectness. I need to burst that bubble and read the script with fresh eyes; and the best way to do that, is to simply let it be for a while and don’t under any circumstances read it in the meantime.

This “not to read it” must have been much easier when you had one copy written on a typewriter. You should seal it in an envelope and put it away in a drawer.

I’ve got mine on file and it is just to click and open. But of course I won’t. Since I know this will do more damage than use. It will be tempting, but no, trust me, I won’t. But I wish I could lock myself out in a more trustworthy way than just a promise to myself, if you know what I mean.

Now I’ll keep working on my adaption of “Mord i Malmö”; A project I now will be able to look upon with fresh eyes.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

First draft of "the Beautymaker"

I’ve just got a few pages left and then the first draft of the Beautymaker is done. I’m pretty confident the ending will suck.

I think I somehow misplaced the story’s climax. It doesn’t feel like the grand final any longer. To make it worse it is almost a new beginning.

I’ve tied it all together, just to start a new thread; A less brilliant move.

But relax. I’ll fix that on the rewrite. I’ve already come up with a new idea to raise the stakes. A first draft is just a first draft; No harm done.

Photo: Deutsche Fotothek‎
Used under the Creative Commons
Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

John August: Step one - make a playlist

Screenwriter John August tells us at his blog that his first step when starting off with a new idea is to make a playlist of music that reminds you why you are writing the particular script.

A very interesting idea. I’ve never tried that.

I don’t need music to write. I love listen to music before I start writing to get into the right mood – or simply try to find an excuse not to write – but I rarely care about music when I start writing. I react to completely wrong music, but otherwise almost anything can pass by unnoticed.

Maybe I should try to do a playlist for the coming-to-the-right-mood part?

If I find music that inspires me to the story I’ll put in a playlist. But I don’t think I’ll search for music that fits.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

To sell a feature script

The amount of money you talk about when you make a feature versus a short movie is giant leap. No, galatical.

A short movie an enthusiastic group of people can do for the cost of basic equipment – equipment that probably could be used for more than one movie too. Maybe you buy what you can’t produce yourself, like a script, sfx and music, but on the whole you can do a short movie for a small amount of money.

On the other hand, the chances you make money on a short movie is not big. You make shorts to finally be able to do a feature. The short movie can be great in every aspect, but I’m pretty confident that most people dream of doing a feature. And making big money.

And now we are talking BIG money.

A movie with a budget under $5.000.000 is considered low-budget. Five million dollars!

If I should earn $5.000.000 within a year I would need to have $417.000 a month in salary. I would need close to a hundred years to make five millions, not needing to pay taxes and living expenses.

Somebody has that kind of money though, and is ready to invest them in a movie, because he or she or them thinks they will get them back, with interest.

With all but a hope that half a million people are interested in watching it at the cinema.

It's not strange at all that it is so difficult to sell a feature script.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Blogging focus

I’ll keep my painting dreams off my blog from here on. They do not belong here.

I was just taken by surprise by this urge, but honestly, my writing and my drawing have so far nothing to do with each other.

I got be careful not to use this blog as a general diary, but keep my focus on my writing. It’s in my writing I feel I’ve got my potential. And besides, you don't need to know everything about me either.

I’m sorry I got a little sidetracked.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Are these any good?

I know this is off topic but are these any good?

Please be honest, otherwise I will not develop.

I have a book with faces, meant of animators and illustrators, and I let my sons pick which face I’ll draw. Otherwise I’ll pick an easy one. Then they tell me if the result matches the face they picked.

Image belongs to Désirée Nordlund.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Looking at the stars at night

What do you see when you look up at the stars at night? What do you feel?

I feel fright.

I don’t like the idea that I’m a smaller than a grain of dust in the big universe; that our lives are not important.

My husband says he feels comfort looking out into the big void.

He says he likes the idea of being unimportant. Looking at the whole picture, how much wrong can he do? It’s not that he doesn’t care about his actions, but he knows that he is not likely to change the orbit of the Earth, and even if he did, it doesn’t matter in the big picture.

Now I interpret lines of thoughts expressed by him and you should read them as such: my idea of his thinking.

While I need some kind of religion or belief, I feel that my husband is just as comfortable without.

But I can’t say I believe in God. I believe in Mother Earth and some form of One Soul. It bothers me though, that I can’t put this faith into the giant universe. Is this soul-system tied to our planet or to every planet? Only to those with life, or to everyone?

I remember as a kid asking my mother if we die in space or on another planet where do we go. Mother insured me that we end up in Heaven no matter where we die.

I wonder. For me, I’m an Earthling, bound to this very planet, and the forces I feel come from its inner, somehow. That the Mother Soul should include the whole Universe is for me as scary as being a pointless grain of sand.

So, I look at the stars when I get the opportunity, take note of their beauty and the fantastic idea of the great distances, but keep every other thought away.

One day, I’ll find out anyway. So why worry? I can’t do anything about it.