Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The art of hiding a hangar ship

I’m fairly interested in clothing but I just hate shopping. If I had the money I would gladly pay a seamstress to keep my wardrobe as I want it. What I want on my body rarely exists in the stores.

Last time I bought jeans I found that the fashion told me that my waist had moved down to my hips. My butt is the size of a hangar ship compared to the rest of the body; it simply doesn’t fit the puzzle. To put the waist there. . . Well, let’s say I would rather place it at my actual waist. But all the jeans in the store was fashionable, Heaven forbid anything else.

Both my pair of beloved jeans had been used until they were worn out so I had to buy something. I bought two pairs. One of them I soon learned to hate since the pockets are not real and the waist is so low that my still floppy belly from two pregnancies insisted on hanging over the waist. So I have one pair of functional trousers in my wardrobe. That is quite ridiculous.

Then I saw photos of me in one of my long skirts. My hangar ship miraculously gone, so was my floppy belly. And skirts are quite easy to make.

I have no idea what I will do when the temperature drops below ten degrease Celsius, but until then, I will wear skirts.

Today I listened to a program on the Swedish Radio which goes every summer. It consists of a more or less famous person talking about a subject of his or her choice. Today I listened to Clara Lidström’s program. I’ve never heard of her, but it sounded interesting. To my great amazement she has had just about the same experience about jeans as I. For you understanding Swedish, please take a moment and listen to her program.

Lyssna: Sommar i P1 med Clara Lidström

Monday, June 27, 2011

Back to Sunlight

I have decided to change places of my two projects To Be and Sunlight. I simply don’t feel inspired enough to work on To Be as my first priority project. It is nothing wrong with the script and so far I’m not stuck, I just don’t feel inspired.

Maybe I made the supporting characters so colorful and interesting that my main character appeared bleached.

Or maybe I’m simply not in a romantic comedy mood.

Be as it is, I’ll reread all my feedback on Sunlight and begin the third version right away.

John August gives formatting advice

Screenwriter John August advises how to format a montage consisting of different interviews:
How to format a talking montage
Observe the little extra advice if there is different locations in the montage.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Zero budget

Zero budget can really mean zero budget. Not small budget, but zero money.

Me and the other writer had written a nine page script to our first team meeting. We needed four rooms, one wardrobe and a paintball range. None of us felt that we had an urge to bring the film team to our home, or simply didn’t have the location specified. A paintball range is not hired for free.

Here is my tips for writing a script for a zero budget:

  • It is easier to find a friend to act in front of the camera if there are no lines to speak.
  • Keep the story outdoors, on public grounds.
  • No special clothing, makeup and props. Do not include any of these if you don’t know for sure that you have them.
I’ve already learned something I never considered before. I thought I know how to write with a budget in mind, but I never considered a situation with no money at all. Sure, a producer buying one of my script is not completely out of money, but I think it is easier to sell a script that can be done with a minimal budget.

After all, I think I should be able to tell a story with as little aid as possible. This will be an interesting exercise.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Judge at a short script screenwriting competition

I’m one of the judges at International Student Film Organization Short Script Competition and I have received seven short scripts á five pages to read and evaluate.

When I asked if I was allowed to blog about the process, I was told it was okay as long as I didn’t expose any individual script and contestant, but I also got a request not to discourage the students.

I halted. Was I about to write one of these I-wonder-what-this-one-was-thinking-must-be-nuts-advices that only someone that doesn’t recognize him/herself finds funny? And those in need of the advice finds rude and – discouraging.

Ouch. Of course I was about to write about things lacking and not about the amazing things that surprised me.

But, at least I’ll try not to be rude and discouraging.

None of the scripts I got were bad - they all had potential – I just felt a fright within the writing to stand out too much; or a need to be realistic; I don’t want to presume I know what another writer is thinking, I can only gain impression by what is written.

What I miss in many of the scripts is character development. Sure, it is only five pages, but in the world of movie, a character can go from being a devil to a monk within five minutes. Let the story touch the character; make what happens to him or her mean something, make it a turning point in the character’s life.

I am impressed by how many who grasped how a movie script works; that you only can write what can be seen or heard. I have over the years read all too many scripts including background stories and thoughts of characters in the action text. This is a very common beginner’s error. None of “my” writers have made this mistake.

So, every aspiring screenwriter out there in the world, keep on writing, send your best to this contest of next year and let the judges feel your fresh energy flow over the pages. You will write the movies for the next generation.

Photo by: Dominik Schäfer
Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Germany license.
Image edited by the writer

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Part of a team

I’m doing something I never thought I would do. No, not bungy-jumping. Trust me, that is something I will never do. At least not with my head down. No, I’m part of a new film team in my home town – a bunch of people who met over the Internet and wanted to do a short movie together. I will not get a dime out of it, but hopefully some useful experiences. Just the fact that I will meet the director and sound technician and special effects team and the actors face-to-face during the writing process will be something completely new.

I’m not alone on the script. I’m working together with a guy twenty years younger than me. He wrote the first version. I rewrote his great start into a second version, finishing last night.

I can’t really tell why I jumped onto this project. I’m not interested in writing for free, in general, but on the other hand, here I’m part of the project and I know what I’m writing and why. It is not some unknown character popping up expecting to get my scripts for free.

We will all meet for the first time this week with – hopefully – a script everybody likes.

I have no idea who will actually own the final film and what will happen with it. We can’t all have ownership in it. But we can likely agree about what to do with it. But, as I see it, as long as the producer/director does not make any money out of it and my name is in the credits, it is not that different from a normal writing job.

I have had a few projects that didn’t work out as planned. They gave me experience even if they didn’t generate any income. They taught me never to work for free. And here I am working for free, again. Maybe this will be a mistake too. But – and this is very important – it won’t be the same mistake over again.

This project will hopefully give me the opportunity to be on the set while filming, something I’ve felt would give me a lot to understand how a script is actually used.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Everybody can develop a great story

It amazes me every time a writer does not care about his or her writing; when a writer thinks that story is the only thing that counts. Sure, the story is the most important thing in a movie script, but a great story in the hands of a bad writer, well, just skip the script, put the camera on a tripod and film a broken toaster.

I read an ad in a forum: a writer was searching for a writing partner. The ad was clogged with spelling errors and grammatical mistakes. I wrote as kindly as possible that it would help in his quest if he showed that he cared for his own writing first. I got a very rude reply. Now, I can understand if he found my comment annoying – it is never fun to have these kinds of comments – but his total lack of interest fascinated me. He said he never wanted to hear from my kind ever again.

Spelling errors and grammatical mistakes do not necessarily come from an untalented writer. There might be a great talent behind it, because it is the use of the words that is interesting and gives the writer his or her voice, not whether or not they are correctly spelled. But in the end the text is to be read, and then all those slips will make the reader irritated and the script will never be read.

A great story in the hands of a great writer makes a script that can give the movie wings and a voice and a spirit; simply because it is well written and takes the reader on a journey. While spelling errors slams the reader back in the armchair again.

By all means, get upset when someone comments on linguistic errors, but take it as an adult, show ability to learn and for your own good: take care of your tool (your writing) and hone it. Everybody can develop a great story. It is the ability to express it to others in written text that makes you a writer.

Friday, June 17, 2011

That uncomfortable silence

Once upon a time when I was twelve or something we had guests that never visited us before and these came with special instructions from my mother: “Don’t talk about kids”. Our guests were a couple that tried to get kids, but it didn’t seem to work out. My mother didn’t want to spoil the occasion by bringing up a sensitive subject.

So we were sitting by the dinner table and somehow our new neighbours were discussed. I wanted to add something and began to tell them about their oldest daughter who was five years younger than me and asked me all the time if I wanted to come over and play with her My Little Ponies, something that I found rather tiresome.

I didn’t get far. I said “They got kids — ” and suddenly remembering my mother’s voice and halted. So all I said was “They got kids.” Period. If I had continued with what I was about to say right away, those first words would have done no harm. As it became they landed like a hammer strike in the middle of the conversation leaving an awkward, painful silence that could have been cut with a knife.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The reward of hard work

There are times when I see no light at the end of the tunnel.

I try not to whine on this blog, because it has became too much of it sometimes. I prefer to linger on happy moments.

It’s just that sometimes me supporting myself on writing feels like a hopeless dream. And if it never will be more than a dream, I will be stuck on my current job for the rest of my working life. It’s not that I can’t change jobs, but if I do, it is because I want to work with something else, and then I need to educate myself for several years, which means tight finances and then maybe get a job for a likely less pay. Not to mention to dare to take that very step into the unknown. After all, I’m soon forty, and the daring mind of the youth has sort of left me.

If I just knew that someday I will sell a feature; and this "someday" would appear within the next ten years.

I’ve seen no less than four of my short scripts as movies. That is inspiring. Indeed it is. Nothing can be more inspiring than that. And I remind myself of all the talented people that wanted to work on the projects based on my scripts.

It’s just that it feels so long ago.

I’m a person who has little tolerance for the fact that movie making takes its time. I know that it costs a lot of money to make a feature and it’s not just read, like, buy – Tada! Movie! So from a realistic perspective it wasn’t that long ago I sold my last script. And I didn’t expect to sell anything every month of the year either. It’s just me, working impatiently with things I don’t know if I will ever sell.

I’m hardworking and I know what I thrive for. But unfortunately I don’t believe in a God that sees this and awards me for my doggedness. Without hard work I don’t expect to get what I want, but I don’t believe that hard work in itself will be rewarded by some divine universal guarantee. I wish I could have faith in that.

Bewag-Tunnel in Berlin-Prenzlauer BergPhoto by: Axel Mauruszat
Image edited by the writer.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Progress on my latest feature script

I’ve written 21 of 46 planned scene in my current project and the script is only 24 pages long. That is far less than I had hoped. The double would have been nice.

On the other hand, I’ve not written the major scenes yet. I’ve written on the complementary stories mainly. The main character’s story is not yet written.

Seventeen days left, if my plan is to be followed, and that’s the point with a plan, isn’t it? Within seventeen days I want the other 25 scenes written as well.

Hopefully with a more colourful main character than she appears now. So far she is almost invisible, but then again, it is now I will write her story.

And for those who hasn’t followed this from the start: I’m trying a new approach which means I’m not writing linear from start to finish, but rather one character at a time, starting with the first scene, then the last and then what’s in between, preferably backwards; All to see if I can write a script without getting stuck on the third act.

Image by Mosborne01
Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license
Image edited by the writer

Friday, June 10, 2011

Impression of a character

I’ve thinking a little about the first impression of a character, that very first description, of the kind I’ve been writing under the title “Characters description daily”. As a screenwriter you have the option to choose more than the character’s actual physical appearance: you can also choose the environment and surrounding characters. This could also be part of our impression.

Think of instance of Jack Sparrow’s first appearance in Pirates of the Caribbean. An obvious pirate, sure, but what if he hadn’t been standing in the top of a mast? That seconds later turns out to be no more than a small fishing boat? What if we saw him for the first time stepping ashore from a normal boat? Sure, he would still be a pirate, but we would know so much less about him.

It could also be very awkward to write everything needed straight off. Like one of my characters in my current project is a former drag-queen and still has painted nails. But instead of writing this in the first description, he seconds later shakes hands with the main character, noticing his nails and he comments them.

It is a good thing to keep in mind that the environment where we see the character and the character’s behaviour also counts. And would probably give us a far more interesting impression than knowing the color of the T-shirt.

Filmography links and data courtesy of
The Internet Movie Database.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Name a Swedish dish

When I visited the US I was asked by a ranger to name a typical Swedish dish. Without blinking I answered:
“Blood pudding.”
“From pig.”
“As a pudding? Like jelly?”
I told him it was more like a sausage than a pudding, and that most kids love it, but most grown-ups don’t.

It is a dish from the time when the country was a farm land and you slaughtered one or two pigs a year and took care of everything. And “blodpudding” was a result of this. “Palt” is another version of the same concept.

Today it is a common, simple dish. It is nothing you serve guests. Rather something parents serve their children because it is easy to cook and healthy to eat. (I don’t, though, because I can’t stand the smell. I ate too much once in young age and cannot stand it since.)

But since you had fewer options in storing food in the old days, I think you only had the option of eating it once or twice a year when a pig was slaughtered and it was something the family looked forward to and enjoyed. Maybe it wasn’t something you served when you had guests, but maybe that was more because of practical reasons than the simpleness of the dish.

I’ve learned it is called “black pudding” in English.

Maybe I should have said something less shocking as Falukorv, but at the time, it didn’t cross my mind. And honestly, what is interesting about Falukorv? It is just an oversized hotdog formed as a loop. Maybe it’s because Falukorv takes an active part of my cooking that I forgot that it too is very Swedish.

Photo by David Castor
Image is public domain

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I want to study history

I'm sorry for not posting regularly lately, but me and my family have been travelling in the US for three weeks and I simply felt that it was a bad idea to tell the world that our house was empty. And when we were away my mind was elsewhere, hence very few updates.

As we travelled from north to south and back again in the east of the country it struck me how little I know about its modern history. I remember reading about the Native Americans in school, but I have no memory of e.g. the Civil War. I write movie scripts for the American market and I shouldn’t be so ignorant about the US’ history. I promise I will do some study here.

I also got a vision about a kind of guidebook I would like to write about my own home town. Let’s see if it turns into a realistic project.

I didn’t get much written on my feature, but I’ve got a one page script ready in my head which I need to write properly soon.

My idols are on the news again

"Ungdomar lär ungdomar lätta på vingarna" (Youths teach youths to try their wings)

Simon Jansson and Sx2 Productions bought and produced my scripts "Ett livsviktigt möte" and "Fåglarna tittar på oss".