Thursday, December 30, 2010

An elephant came to visit

Once upon a time I was a member of the local Red Cross First Aid patrol and once a year we attended a big competition in Norway, as actors.

We gathered about one hundred and twenty youths, put on makeup in all kinds of wounds and let the Red Cross First Aid patrols in Norway put on Band-Aids.

For two years I planned all the stations. I got a list with locations and basic setup and I did the rest.

There was one big hook: they had a deal with a local towing firm and most stations were car crashes. I wanted some variations. And most of all I needed them to get psychically involved, and not just put on plasters and bandages.

So I designed a “car crash” where a drunk driver simply had run off the road with a couple making love in the back seat, nobody physically hurt, but an uncomfortable and embarrassing situation.

When the actors had taken their positions I got a call: “We’ve got a problem here. The car is upside down.” The towing firm had simply dumped car wrecks on the stations without considering the situation on each station. I organized for the car to be overturned back on its wheels.

“It’s still a problem.”
“It must have been in the jungle on a Thursday*.”
“Say what?”
“It’s flat.”

To act in a first aid competition is to improvise as it is, but a car stomped flat with three unharmed youths - that were supposed to have be inside the car when it run off the road - dancing around the car, a bit buttoned up, waving with a “used” condom... Well, it didn't turn out as I had hoped.

*Q: Why shouldn’t you enter the jungle on the Thursday?
A: Because the elephants jump in parachutes.
Q: Why are crocodiles so flat?
A: Because they entered the jungle on the Thursday.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Screenwriting contests and new projects

I have entered four screenwriting contests this winter.

One is WILDsound’s One Page Screenplay Contest, which I will be notified about the 31th of December.

“The Death of Old Tommy” I’ve sent to two contests: LA Comedy Shorts and The Golden Brad Award. Notify date is 15th of Marsh and 14th of July next year – it’s ages until then.

I’ve also sent Dear Uncle to The Golden Brad Award.

As for new projects I my brain is completely empty of any idea at all since my last failure with “The Beautymaker”.

Well, not completely empty. It’s something there. Something elusive. Something I can’t figure out what it is yet.

I want a feature script to work on. It is much easier to keep writing every day then. But I can’t force myself to write on a project I don’t believe in just to have something to do. Then I prefer to write short scripts instead, even if it is rather impulsive and work in small boosts rather than even tempo.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

To value human life in movies

In the World of Movies there is no such thing as all human life’s equal value.

In the real life each killing is equal with refusing that unique individual his or hers upcoming life; denying husband or wife to ever see his or hers loved one again, robbing a father or a mother from their children, or the other way around. Each murder is a tragedy.

No such thing in the World of Movies.

A room filled with people, lets say bad guys, someone shoots, let say the police. There is a cop and a bad guy that constitute this story’s main characters. The police survives, the bad guy dies; but not any death, the Death, with a final word, coming to conclusions.

People around these two guys die like flies, without any value. There are no mothers, fathers or children calling for them. No one morns them.

They are there to fill the screen with action, not tragedy.

Sometimes the carelessness of human lives in movies overwhelms me.

A movie is not life. It is a story. We don’t have grieving family members unless it serves a purpose for our story.

But still, what happens in a movie affects people. We want to affect; that’s the whole point with making movies. But sometimes we get unwanted results.

I hope I will never write a movie where a killing passes unquestioned and unnoticed.

Monday, December 13, 2010

So I have arrived from another planet

I’m not American, I’m from Europe; Sweden to be exact.

I’ve been to the States, I’ve met Americans, but still I’m not sure I get it. The lingo I mean.

It’s not just about speaking and writing English. I wish it was.

I jumped when the girl behind the cashier asked how I was doing. I almost recoiled although I knew it was simply a polite phrase that could be translated to “welcome” in Swedish. Still, I asked myself, what does she care how I’m doing?

For a Swede an American easily sounds overly friendly. I know this is just a cultural difference, but I don’t know how to behave and what to expect. I like the friendliness, but I’m never sure if I respond in the expected way or if I’m a strange UFO.

I try to be myself, and be honest, but still, I don’t know if I match the pattern, if I follow the social code. What I say and write could be misunderstood. I want to be on the right level of friendliness, but I’m not sure what that is. I can't measure by Swedish standards. We come from another planet.

Friday, December 10, 2010

To leave what is safe behind

Robert suggested in a comment that I leave my comfort zone when I write.

Something I felt that he was very right about.

To write a script that touches people and connect, I can’t write about something that doesn’t hit my own emotions. And it is not enough that the subject is close to my own heart; I really need to be out of my comfort zone when I actually write. I can’t write with the subject on safe distance, on display in a glass case, and expect people to connect with my writing.

The funny thing is, I love romantic comedies, and therefore I’ve been thinking a lot about writing one myself; but I always end up with a concept suitable for deep and rather dark drama.

To leave my comfort zone and write a romantic comedy does not mix well, apparently. It turned into something depressing and I don’t want to write that. I want to leave people with hope.

I know some people will disagree with me. When I say I like feel-good and happy endings, there are always some who almost despise me. But I don’t care much for the dark and depressing, unless it is turned into something positive before the end of the story. That’s it. That is not negotiable.

I got to find that emotional core needed – outside my comfort zone if you please – but still find my happy ending somewhere.

I like challenges.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Christmas story

Once upon a time there was a big, big company producing soft drinks. They were so big that their name was known in every country of the world.

In a small, small country they had hired a local brewing company to make and sell their products. The people in the small, small country were a strange folk however; they didn’t drink the big, big company’s soft drinks for Christmas, but something called “julmust”*.

The big, big company told the local brewing company in the small, small country that they had to stop making “julmust” since it competed with the big, big company’s products.

The local brewing company in the small, small country refused. They had the best “julmust” in the country and was not about to give it up.

The big, big company got angry and withdraw their license and established themselves in the small, small country.

When Christmas came closer they sent commercial on the TV-channels and put up posters on the bus stops telling the people in the small, small country that the big, big company’s major soft drink with its read and white label was perfect for Christmas.

The impact of the commercial was prominent.

The big, big company's selling of soft drinks dropped immediately.

And the local brewing company in the small, small country sold more bottles of “julmust” than ever before.

The next Christmas the stubborn people in the small, small country found a new label of “julmust” in the stores with all the required features and a genuine look 'n' feel.

With small, small letters the name of the big, big company could be read: “the Coca-Cola Company”.

First published 10th of December 2009

* From Wikipedia: “Julmust” is made of carbonated water, sugar, hop extract, malt extract, spices, caramel colouring, citric acid, and preservatives. The hops and malt extracts give the must a somewhat beer-like taste, but much sweeter and, since it is not fermented, it contains no alcohol. 45 million litres of “julmust” are consumed during December (to be compared with roughly 9 million Swedes), which is around 50% of the total soft drink volume in December and 75% of the total yearly must sales. Read more here.

Monday, December 6, 2010

How long it will last this time

Désirée Nordlund is a great writer

My parents loved Walking the Graveyard. I’ve received positive feedback on Dear Uncle.

So now I am the best writer in the World again.

That feels great.

I wonder how long it will last this time.

I also wonder if it has something to do with my broken toe.

No, honestly, not likely; but, yet, maybe.

You see, I’ve felt rather shitty for a quite a while, mentally. And yesterday I baked ginger snaps/cookies (Swedish Christmas tradition) with my kids and broke a toe – don’t even ask – and suddenly I had a pain that was very physical instead of psychical.

Maybe, just maybe, that was good for me.


But right now, I rule.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Why I never consider stealing

Do not steal ideas from other people, by Désirée Nordlund

For most people stealing is something you don’t do, knowing it is wrong.

But then you come to the more vague kind of stealing, like using someone’s idea without pay of give credit. Could it be just as wrong? Yes.

But what if the idea is in the wrong hands? What if the writer will never have what it takes to make a great script out of it? Still, it is stealing, and yes, I never, ever even consider it.

Why? It’s not like the writer will suffer, since he/she will never get it right anyway.

Perhaps, but lets not focus on who I'm stealing from, but turn the searchlight on the writer stealing.

What is a writer? A writer is a rumour.

The script just sold is sold, so potential buyers can’t claim that particular script, but has hopes for the next by the same writer. Nothing is known of the next script – the next unique, single product – but all is a hope, based on the writer’s previous result.

Just the fact that I write and sold one script does not by any means include a life-time opportunity to sell scripts for the rest of my life. The one script sold, may be the only script sold. If the next script I write is a wreck, my potential buyers will look elsewhere.

Do you think this is a heavy burden?

Why then should I make it a great deal heavier by adding a bad reputation of stealing other people’s ideas?