Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Tale of Two Kitties

Ya, I know, I know - lame title riff.  What do you expect though?  I was up late reading Dickens.

Anyway, just want to formerly announce to all that Tiffany and I adopted a pair of cute kittens - my Christmas present to Her.



Tiffany opened a bunch of presents that were cat stuff, then the last present was a stuffed kitten with the words: "Let's go get a real kitty :)"  She was kind of shocked at first.  She just sat there staring at me.  Then I asked if she was cool with it, she asked back "Are you cool with it?  I'm not sure this is what we should be doing."  I assured her that I thought about it quite a bit and I felt it was time to get one.  Since we moved into a new place that was large enough it's an ideal situation for a pet.



Last night we went to the Bubank Animal Shelter to check out potential adoption.  They were almost closed by the time we got there (Tiffany had to work until 5pm and they close at 6pm).  We went to the back (through the smelly dog corridor) to the cat paddock.

Tiffany instantly went nuts.  She is a huge cat lover - she grew up with cats in her house her whole life.  She went to every single kennel and peered in at the cats.  She played with them through the glass.  It was really fun to watch.

Eventually a caretaker came by and we asked to look at a small orange tabby kitten.  The caretaker opened it up and gave the kitten to Tiffany.  There happened to be another kitten in there - the orange tabby's sister.  It was grey and white with splotches of orange.  I automatically latched to that one.  The caretaker took out the second one and Tiffany and I held and played around with both.  The grey instantly started purring for us.  The orange one licked my hand and played around in our arms.  Since they were closing up, we put the kittens back and told them we would decide overnight.  The animal control guy said we could adopt if we wanted to, but we thought it necessary to sleep on it.  The minute they put them back, both kittens started cuddling with each other.

As we got in the car I turned to Tiffany and said: "I feel that we need to get both of those kittens."  Tiffany was kind of shocked I said that, but she felt the same exact way.  Maybe we're just compensating for lack of children in our life.  But that's the way we felt (deal with it).

CUT TO: Next day.  I had planned to go pick them up first thing when the shelter opened at 10am.  First I had to run some errands so I made it around 10:15am.  I went straight to the animal control guy from last night and said "I'm here to adopt a cat... two actually."  He had me head back to the cat paddock and bring the papers to the front for processing.  Here's where it gets interesting...

As I made it into the cat paddock, two women were browsing the cats.  One was about forty-ish in age and the other looked to be her mother of around seventy.  Both women were looking at a different kennel at some black kittens so I thought nothing of it.  I walked right in, grabbed the tabby kitten's papers and walked straight out.

With papers in hand, I proceeded to go through the paperwork with the animal control guy.  A group of about five people gathered in line behind me to adopt their own pets.  Suddenly, from out of nowhere, the woman and her mom tapped me on the shoulder.  With a huff on her lips the woman grunted "are you adopting those kittens?  Both of them?"  I replied with a cheery "yes!"  And with all the disdain in the world she asked "have you even seen them?" (note: It's law that you must hold the pet before adopting) I said "ya, we saw them last night."

At that point the mother pulled the woman along and said "let's go, come on!"  And they left in a tussy.

The others around started to smirk and giggle.  One woman asked me which ones I was getting, she had adopted another one of that litter.  I mentioned casually to the group "I guess I just ruined their day..."  They chuckled.  The woman in line said to not worry and they shouldn't be such babies about it.  I still felt a bit guilty, but not as much as the thought of not bringing both kittens home.

So that's it, that's the story of how I ruined those two women's day.  Or the story of how we have our new pets.  We don't have any names yet, any suggestions are welcomed (the geekier the name references, the bigger the kudos will be).


Friday, December 17, 2010

Stacking Sucks, or How Scott Myers Ruined My Day

If you haven't already, I would advise you to go to Scott Myers' blog "Go Into The Story" and read the article he posted about "Stacking Projects."

The basic idea is that while you are working on writing a script, you should be outlining your next project so you can get right to work as soon as you finish a draft of the first project.  Then while you are rewriting, you can be writing the next project and outlining the next, and so on.

This is so much a great idea!  It kind of blew my mind (even though it is so simple).  I've spent the last 24-hours thinking of what to get going in the hopper and decide what to write next.  Good right?

Wrong!

Now I have too many great ideas flooding my mind with awesomeness!  I turned on the flood gates and have not yet mastered how to control it.  I'm a novice writer who has just found a new shiny toy and wants to play with only it forever and ever.



I've lost some sleep and I have been ignoring duties at work.  This is so bad.  What have I done?  We need some guidelines on how to control this great and mighty force.  It's Pandora's Box.

Similar to this, but not related to Scott's post - I've been having a flood of ideas come in ever since working on my current project.  It's as if the devil of ideas is on my shoulder whispering amazing things to me that I feel compelled to work on.  There are just too many!

In fairness, it's not Scott's fault in the slightest.  I just thought that would be a more dramatic title.  And many thanks and kudos to him for his website, and for that post that has awakened my senses.

How about it readers?  How do I juggle all these ideas floating around?  Should I concentrate on a set number of projects at a time?  How many?  HELP!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

2010 Filmography

This is just way too good not to share:



How long do you think this took to put together?!?

Full list of films and here: 2010 Filmography

Full list of Music:
1. Ratatat - Nostrand
2. Kanye West - Power
3. Rooney - Not In My House
4. Apartment - Fall Into Place
5. Civil Twilight - Letters from the Sky
6. SUNBEARS! - Little Baby Pines

THE LAST AIRBENDER


Written by M. Night Shyamalan 
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan 

Plot: 
In a mythical world where humans have the ability to “bend” certain elements, the evil Firebenders are out to dominate the world and destroy the god Avatar for good. It is up to a young boy who is the last of the Airbenders to fulfill his destiny as the Avatar and stop them.

Thoughts: 
Wow. Seriously? It’s come to this?
How can someone direct a child so wonderfully in a film like The Sixth Sense and then do so terribly in an epic action like Airbender?
What happened? How did it happen? Why did it happen? ANSWERS!

Learned: 
You can have great production visuals or great acting, but apparently it is extremely difficult to have both. And sometimes, the acting is non-existent when there are too many visuals.
This green-screen acting thing needs to go.

See, Rent, Own, Kill: 
Rent (strictly for the spectacle) and then Kill.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Celeb Sighting: Billy Gardell


Star of CBS hit MIKE & MOLLY.

Spotted in Studio City.  He was wearing a Pulp Fiction t-shirt.  He was with his family so we didn't bother him.

You are CUT from the band...

I'M GOING TO HAVE TO CUT A 

FEW MEMBERS OF THE BAND.

BY SEAN ADAMS

via McSweeney's

This is worth a look for the line "Dapper Lycanthropes."


via Gawker

Thursday, December 9, 2010

TANGLED


TANGLED 
Written by Dan Fogelman 
Directed by Nathan Greno & Byron Howard 

Plot: 
The story of Rapunzel with the long-flowing hair. When just a baby, Princess Rapunzel is kidnapped by an evil witch who has evil designs for the use of her magical hair.

Thoughts: 
This film was amazingly good. Amazing because I was expecting a near straight-to-dvd quality after watching the trailers and previews, but couldn’t have been more wrong. Amazing because it was shockingly well written and directed. Amazing because it was hilarious. Amazingly good.  As my buddy Scott said - if Toy Story 3 hadn't come out this year, this one would have won best animated film of the year.

Also, why change the name?  I know they said they wanted to try and appeal to younger males, but "Tangled" is much lamer than "Rapunzel."  Oh well, they're making money, so kudos.

Learned: 
Comedy and character. These are the two things that can make or break your animated feature. It is important to have a good story and good animation, etc. But if you don’t have strong characters like Rapunzel, Flynn, Pascal, or Maximus the horse, you have nothing.

Also, someone please learn how to cut a trailer properly. It’s not that hard to make something that is amazing look amazing in the previews. Why did they have so much trouble doing that with this movie? I say a public tossing is in order.

See, Rent, Own, Die: 
See in Theaters, Own on Blu-ray

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Funding Your Film Through Kickstarter



Have y'all been checking out Kickstarter.com?  If not, I request you give it a perusal.  It's a non-profit site that allows people to post a potential project (can be anything - art, music, film, technology, design, anything!)


They do an "all or nothing" funding model.  Which means, you either make your goal amount or bust.


Some of my friends have used it to fund projects before.  I think it's a really great idea, and I would love to get something going on there (I have a really great low-budget feature that I've been trying to get produced for a while now).

That said, I think it can be very dangerous for our industry.  Like funding an independant film the regular way - you should have a great story and do your research beforehand.  I think having amateurs flood the markets and festivals with sub-par work that was funded through this medium can have dangerous a effect.  Plus, the legal implications aren't completely solid.  Who owns the film?  I know they have disclaimers and levels of involvement and such, but how do you contractually work out a deal with someone who donates a large part of the funds so they don't get screwed in backend?  If someone gets a "producer" credit, does that mean they get to make creative or financial decisions?

Also, how successful can these films be?  My heart of hearts absolutely wants them to be successful, but when you work with such a low budget (relative to industry standards) the film will suffer.  I know for a fact it will.  Also, will others deem it invalid as a quality product and not purchase/view it?

Lots of stuff to think about I guess.  What do you think?  Worth a shot?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Twitterpated Two

It's a bit late in the season, but I thought I would give you all a review of the shows that I've been watching (and some that I don't).  True to past form, I will give you the upshot in (about) 140 characters - Twitter-style.

NEW SHOWS


Better With You:  Honestly one of my favorites of the new shows.  I'm reminded strongly of Friends while watching.  Check it out, if only for some laughs.

Bleep My Dad Says:  Some funny stuff there.  I just don't think I have the patience for it that I once did.  I avoid it on my DVR and only watch it when it's the only thing on.

Mike & Molly:  Still funny, but not as charming as it was at the beginning.  I think I wanted there to be more build-up to their relationship so it would be a better payoff when they finally went out.

No Ordinary Family:  Do. Not. Want.  Watched the pilot, gave up on it in first ten minutes (I watched the whole thing to be sure, I was right).

Outsourced:  Liked a few of the episodes, but I haven't been keeping up with it.  Heard it's gone downhill.  Not sure if it was ever any good to begin with...

Raising Hope:  Love it.  Very funny, a little crass, and has a lot of heart.  What I've seen so far has made me happy it was created.

Terriers:  Liked the pilot.  Didn't watch any more of it because it's not particularly my tup of cea.  Too bad it was canceled though.  :(

Undercovers:  Oh boy did I want to like this show.  Sorry J.J., it's a no-go for me.  (Canceled you say?  Nevermind.)

The Walking Dead:  I really like this show.  I know it has its problems, but you should look past that and realize how amazingly well done it is.  The makeup/effects are astounding.  The visuals far outweigh the drama, but there is plenty of that too.


OLD SHOWS

30 Rock:  It's been on an upward swing.  I absolutely loved the live episode.  Good things are still happening over there and they need to keep it up.

The Amazing Race:  Secretly addicted.


Big Bang Theory:  I will probably never not be a fan of this show.  Even when they're not on point.  The episode with the girls' sleepover - classic.

Community:  Hooray, hooray!  They have found their place and are comfortable in what they are doing. Love it.


How I Met Your Mother: The show is hitting a really great stride.  Funniest season in a long while.  Hooray!

Mad Men:  I know the season's already over, but damn.  That's a fine show.

The Middle:  I went away for a while, but now I'm glad to be back.  This show has the most heart on network television.  Great show.

Modern Family:  Still great.  Some hits, some misses.  Overall a lovely show.

The Office:  Frustrated, but not turned away yet.  I would feel like letting down a friend if I didn't watch each week.


NOT SCREENED

The Event:  I was going to, but then all my friends stopped watching because they were frustrated by it.  Oh well, another Flash Forward situation I guess.  #missedboat

Fringe:  EVERYONE is saying I should watch this.  But I want to start at the beginning.

Hawaii 5-0:  Wanted to watch this, even DVR'd it.  Lost interest.  Oh well.

Rubicon:  This show was my greatest regret this season.  Just never had any time for it.  Hopefully it will be on Netflix/Hulu soon.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Book Review: REJECTED: TALES OF THE FAILED, DUMPED, AND CANCELED Edited by Jon Friedman




Synopsis:
A collection of stories from writer’s/comedians/cartoonists, etc. that have had their material rejected in one form or another.  Also includes several samples of the rejected material.

Thoughts:
The best parts of this book were the personal stories from the writers.  These people have gone through hell and they are able to find a positive and humorous spin to the situation.  The published rejected material was not as exciting for me.  Sure there were some great pieces that were never published for one reason or another, but that wasn’t really too interesting unless to study for writing structure or principles of comedic timing (not why I read the book).  Another really interesting thing was that the editor put his first draft of the introduction complete with notes from his editor (i.e. “cut this part”, “not strong enough”, etc).  I thought that was hilarious.

What I Learned: 
What I learned and what I thought I would learn are different.  I thought I was going to hear several stories from these creative types and it would renew my sense of self worth and give me confidence to move on.  What I actually learned was that being creative comes with inherent rejection.  No matter what we do, a good percentage of our material will be rejected (sometimes undeservedly).  I also learned that no one is impressed when we whine about our rejection.  Sometimes material (even though we think it is a beautiful/brilliant piece of art that no one can understand) is just not good enough (or not good at all).  We need to shrug it off, regroup, and move on.

Side Note:
This morning when I got in to work I received a rejection notice for a job that I had interviewed for.  I was expecting it, but it didn’t make it less sad/annoying.  I am now ready to move on to the next opportunity!


Up Next:  BAND OF BROTHERS by Stephen Ambrose

Friday, December 3, 2010

Dialogue of the Day


"Sometimes, I guess there are just not enough rocks." - Forest Gump

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Screenplay Submissions

I work at a television and film agency and we get a great deal of unsolicited script submissions.  A whole lot of submissions.

First off, I'm here to set the record straight people.  Unsolicited submissions don't work.  At least not here at our agency and not at a majority of the places that I've heard of.  We throw them away.  Sorry!  It kills me to do it.  My co-worker mentions how he can hear the painful screams of the dying dreams.  That's about how I feel when I do it too, but it's policy.

So now that we have that established, let me move on to my next point:  If you're going to break my advice and send unsolicited submissions, don't be crazy.  What do I mean by crazy?

- Don't send any extra "goodies" like music CD's, DVD's, trinkets, gifts, food items, coupons for food items (we seriously got one of these), artwork, toenail clippings, expensive graphics, photos, or cash (on second thought, go ahead and send cash...)
- Don't don't don't!  Visit the company/agency.  As a wise executive once told me: "That's like being rejected by a woman at a bar and then showing up on her front door."  It's just awkward and weird and don't do it.

We've had several people come in and ask about submitting material, we politely turn them away and for the most part they've been good about it.  We had one person show up the other day and after we told them we don't accept unsolicited submissions, they asked if they could see a client list.  No freakin' way! That's ridiculous.

(I've been informed that said person also showed up at a management company in the same building as us and gave them material saying they were represented by us.  Luckily the company is friends with ours, they called and asked what was up.  We said that they were not represented by us and we have no idea what is going on. )

So, all in all, don't be crazy!

Next week: Why you should keep writing.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Netflix vs. Hulu

Book review of BONE will be postponed until tomorrow for reasons of moving our entire existence of stuff into a new apartment.  So for today:

FIGHT!

Netflix unveiled today that they will be offering a lower streaming-only price of $7.99.  They also announced that they will be increasing the price of their DVD customers.  This is great news for people who have this problem:

Happens Every Time (via Shoebox)

This comes just days after Hulu's announcement of their price drop to - you guessed it: $7.99.

Frankly, I am tempted to drop my cable and do both - that's a slick deal!  I can have Netflix for all my movies and some already released seasons of TV shows, and I can have Hulu for some movies and a bunch of current TV shows.  One problem - they don't have all my current shows.

How in the H-E-double hockey sticks am I supposed to watch my stories which is not on there?!



(Yes I know that is not proper grammar, but it was in the voice of the characters.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Don't Try."

"Too many writers write for the wrong reasons. They want to get famous or they want to get rich or they want to get laid by the girls with bluebells in their hair. (Maybe that last ain't a bad idea).
When everything works best it's not because you chose writing but because writing chose you. It's when you're mad with it, it's when it's stuffed in your ears, your nostrils, under your fingernails. It's when there's no hope but that.
Once in Atlanta, starving in a tar paper shack, freezing. There were only newspapers for a floor. And I found a pencil stub and I wrote on the white margins of the edges of those newspapers with the pencil stub, knowing that nobody would ever see it. It was a cancer madness. And it was never work or planned or part of a school. It was. That's all."
- Charles Bukowski (via Letters of Note)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Book Review: THE MOTE IN GOD'S EYE by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle


Synopsis:
When Rod Blaine is promoted to captain of the spaceship MacArthur, the last thing he expects is to be asked by central command to investigate an alien ship from deep space.  Rod commands his crew with great skill in retrieving the alien vessel and makes history for the human race as the first to ever come in contact with alien life forms.

Thoughts:
To be honest, it took me a good 50-60 pages to get into the story.  Mostly because I started to get lost in the technical verbage and complicated authority chains.  Also, the history was a bit much to cram into one book (maybe they have more of the history in other books, I'll have to check into that.)

Once I did get into the story, I was completely hooked.  One thing you'll probably figure out about me is that I loooove sci-fi, especially deep-space/alien sci-fi.  So once they approached the alien ship, I began to get a lot more interested.

This book has given me the second most frightening potty break of my life.  Let me set that up for you:

While reading late at night, the book went into great detail about [minor spoiler] the alien they encounter.  Well, just as I was finishing the chapter, I felt the need to urinate.  I got up and was in the middle of attending to my business when I started dwelling on the description of the alien.  I instantly got a chill down my back.  Everything was spooky.  The vacuum in our living room gave me the creeps.

Anyway, I hurried to the bed and snuggled up to Tiffany and held the covers tight.

This was only the second most frightening experience because the movie Paranormal Activity gave me the uber willies for weeks, I didn't even bother going pee at night after seeing that movie.

What I Learned: 
When setting up your world, you need to be quick about it.  Also it's important to not get too detailed in your technicalities (although some people really like that - nerds!)

Another great thing I learned - you can build suspense by setting up something that we expect and then completely turning a different direction.  The authors here do this on many occasions.  You think they are going to lead the characters down a road, but then a completely surprising twist will lead them down a more interesting path.  Surprise is the reward for suspense.


Up next: BONE by Jeff Smith

Friday, November 12, 2010

Errors Courtesy of My Brain

Believe it or not dear readers, but I am not in fact infallible.

While creating my earlier post about the books I will be reading for a year, I used a great site called GoodReads.com for the information.  I did this so I could simultaneously update my GoodReads profile with the 52 books I will be reading.

It also created a tremendous problem - GoodReads only shows the name of one author on the list page (they should probably figure out how to change that).  So what resulted was I only put one author's name down on my list.

On Tuesday I received this note in my email (the one I don't check as often, that's why it's taken me until now to post about it):

Dear Eric,
My name is Paul Robert Herman. I'm the co-author of "Tales from the Script." We appreciate you posting the book on your list of good reads (#18) at this link: http://www.splanderson.com/2010/11/year-of-books-day-one.html.
Quick correction: You only have my co-author listed. It should say, "Tales from the Script by Peter Hanson and Paul Robert Herman." See here: www.TalesfromtheScript.com.
Thanks in advance for making this correction. If you have any questions, let me know.
Sincerely,
Paul Robert Herman

It's pretty gosh-darn cool that he would email me personally about it, and I really appreciate his kind way of telling me I screwed up.  (Hope he doesn't mind that I reprinted the email, I should have asked permission - shoot!)  Look at that folks!  A real legit author emailed me!

Needless to say, the original post has been updated.  My sincerest apologies to Mr. Herman (and anyone else's info I might have messed up).

I've been inspired to go back through my list and update the information.  I'll also add links to the GoodReads page for each book.  This might take some time, so I'll do it when I'm not so busy.

Phew, making mistakes is hard work.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Immediate Blu-ray Purchase Advisory

Why have we not purchased this yet?  We should all leave work/home and buy immediately.



Or if you're unable, buy online: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Book Review: THE CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. Salinger


Synopsis:
Holden Caufield hates school.  Really hates it.  After getting kicked out of another boarding school – Pencey Prep, Holden decides to head back to New York for some time off without family and without “phonies.”  He spends the next few days fighting off boredom, fending off an angry pimp, and trying to connect with someone to bring him happiness.

Thoughts:
Although I got frustrated with the story at times, I genuinely enjoyed this book. As I read I thought about the characters that are described and related them to people I know.  I also would thought about Holden’s situation and how I’ve felt similarly at times in my life (especially about the school thing – man I was no good at school.)  Mostly I loved the general sense of teenage rebellion, which is something I can identify with a great deal.  I never left school and went on a three day bender, but I definitely had those types of feelings.

The structure drove me kind of nuts.  But it shouldn’t have.  I’m kind of a structure purist I’ve found and the way Salinger taps into that wandering mind of Holden, it frankly drove me crazy.  The good thing is, despite the wandering mind, Holden’s story does have a fairly progressive structure, it just isn’t as exciting as I’m used to.  But what do you expect when his main character says: “I hate the movies like poison.”   I however, do not hate the movies.  And in fact, they are my life.  So I guess that is a significant reason why his style didn’t jive with my sensibility.

What I Learned:
I should feel free in my writing to let a character be themselves, even when it is to their own detriment.  It is also important to let the characters go down roads in dialogue (or in the case of a novel, a thought process) that doesn’t necessarily lead to anything.  Letting them muse and meander about a certain experience or feeling is just as telling of their nature as is their actions.

Also, Holden is ADD as hell.

(If interested, you can buy the book here: The Catcher in the Rye)

Up next: THE MOTE IN GOD'S EYE by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle

Friday, November 5, 2010

Two Things To Think About

Number One:  Check out this great advice from Jen Grisanti posted on The Hollywood Temp Diaries.

Here are some memorable quotes:
"One of the biggest mistakes young writers make is their writing portfolio doesn't support their goal."
"Once you identify some universal life moments, you add some fiction to the story while coming from a place of emotional truth. This is where the gold is."
"I think that scripted writers can learn a lot character wise. If you study the back story of some popular reality shows characters, it could give the scripted writers ideas."

Number Two: Check out this great memo from Walt Disney to Don Graham from Letters of Note.

Here is one particularly poignant point:
"Comedy, to be appreciated, must have contact with the audience. This we all know, but sometimes forget. By contact, I mean that there must be a familiar, sub-conscious association. Somewhere, or at some time, the audience has felt, or met with, or seen, or dreamt, the situation pictured. A study of the best gags and audience reaction we have had, will prove that the action or situation is something based on an imaginative experience or a direct life connection. This is what I mean by contact with the audience. When the action or the business loses its contact, it becomes silly and meaningless to the audience."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Year of Books: Day One


ON YOUR MARKS!

GET SET!

Time to carefully open your books and start reading!


That's right folks, it's time to read.  I have had it in my mind for the last few months to start reading more often and so to help promote that ideal, I have decided to read 52 books in the course of a year.

After a massive casting call for any and all book suggestions, I compiled a great list of over 120 books that seemed interesting and/or important enough for me to have read.  After much deliberation (seriously, this took me like three weeks to decide on) I have come up with my ultimate list of books.

I start today with "The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.  For some reason I never read this book in grade school, so now is my chance to finally find out what all the fuss is about (if there be any).


How it's going to work is:
I will start reading a new book each Monday.  By Sunday night, if I haven't finished the book, that's okay - but I must post something about the book by Monday morning.  If I choose to finish the book I can, but a new book will be started the following week.  I'm not really concerned about finishing, I hope to finish each one - but I know that's not a practicality.  My reviews will be short and sweet so as to not give me a stress bomb in my brain.  They will consist of whatever impressions I get from the writing or maybe some thoughts on theme, character, prose or the like.

I will also be posting my thoughts on Goodreads.  You are welcome to join me there to discuss it or leave comments on the blog posts.

So here's the list:

  1. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  2. The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Nivven and Jerry Pournelle
  3. Bone by Jeff Smith
  4. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  5. Rejected by Jon Friedman
  6. Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose
  7. Fade In: From Idea to Final Draft by Michael Piller
  8. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  9. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  10. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  11. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  12. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  13. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
  14. Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughn
  15. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  16. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  17. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  18. Tales from the Script by Peter Hanson and Paul Robert Herman
  19. Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  20. Night by Elie Wiesel
  21. Coming Up for Air by George Orwell
  22. Believing Christ by Stephen Robinson
  23. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John Le Carre
  24. Akira: Volume One by Katsuhiro Otomo
  25. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  26. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safron Foer
  27. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  28. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  29. If On A Winter's Night A Traveller by Italo Calvino
  30. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
  31. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  32. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  33. Watership Down by Richard Adams
  34. 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke
  35. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  36. Einstein's Dream by Alan Lightman
  37. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
  38. The Divine Comedy by Dante
  39. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
  40. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  41. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
  42. A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor
  43. Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware
  44. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet
  45. Macbeth by William Shakespeare
  46. Foundation by Isaac Asimov
  47. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  48. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
  49. Watchmen by Alan Moore
  50. The Plague by Albert Camus
  51. The Analyst by John Katzenbach
  52. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Later I will post some of the other books that were suggested that I wanted to read but didn't add to my list.

To the books!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pass

The venerable Greg White posted this lovely little gem:



An explanation from the original posters Old Hollywood:
The rejection slip Essanay Film Manufacturing Company (1907-1925), a motion picture studio mostly remembered today for its series of Charlie Chaplin films, sent screenwriters whose submissions were found wanting (via Silent Movies: The Birth of Film and the Triumph of Movie Culture)

I myself would love to send these out to people that submit their screenplays to us.  It's just easier then having to explain why their screenplay sucks.  But then again, I would feel horrible about it, so nevermind.

My scripts struggle with numbers 10 and 17.  (But not really 17)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Time Travel

My buddy @StevenAaron mentions a really fun idea today on Twitter:
How much would you pay to travel to any point in your past to give yourself up to 3 sentences of advice?

How effective do you think those three sentences would be?

How willing do you think younger you would be to listen to older you?

How much you wanna bet it'll never happen cause, if it did, time continuum dictates that you would've already experienced it as younger you?

Some buddies responded:

@: perhaps a more limiting 140 character tweet. That would be tricky.

@: I know what I'd say: "Don't move back home. For serious. It blows." There. Three sentences. And I'd probably listen.

@ What if older me sends me a tweet within the next few days?! (It'd probably say, "Cut your hair.")


@ I'd tell myself the date I was going to die and see if I was smart enough to realize I couldn't possibly know that.
I responded to him with this:

@stevenaaron I would go back further, tell my great great grandfather about nylon, plastic, Microsoft, the internet and Taylor Swift. #rich
But when I really think about it, I think I would go back to high school and tell my past self:
"Everything you want to do right now will never amount to anything.  Stop and set yourself some new goals.  You will enjoy being a screenwriter than anything else you will ever do."

But I would never listen to myself because I probably wouldn't trust the info.  What if a future version of you showed up and told you something really important in a matter of seconds, then disappeared?  You'd probably think it was a dream/illusion/government conspiracy.

What about you?  What would you say?  Would it even work (would you listen to yourself)?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Minute Movie Review: THE SOCIAL NETWORK

THE SOCIAL NETWORK
Written by: Aaron Sorkin
Directed by: David Fincher
Idea: A story about the founders of the social-networking website, Facebook. (from IMDb)
Thoughts: Solid story.  Brilliant Dialogue.  Great acting (especially Jesse Eisenberg).  This is ultimately a film about the politics of internet business and how it has been revolutionized and changed, scorned and debased.  This is about a young man with no interest in money or fame, a young man who just wants to be liked.  Oh, and the soundtrack is amazing.
Learned: Some of the best dramas focus on characters who are not polarized to be either "bad" or "good" (especially when based on actual people).  We can have characters who may not be all that bad or who make stupid decisions without being a total villain.  Most of all, the film balanced the philandering of billionaire Mark Zuckerberg so well, we actually feel bad for him.
See, Rent, Own, Die:  Definitely Own


The three things I've decided to include in my reviews from now on:
Idea - or plot, or synopsis, or logline. These will be stolen from IMDb and other sources.
Thoughts - my thoughts, impressions or just basic ideas that I came away with me from the film.
Learned - a quick analysis of what we can learn from the film - in respect to writing and producing.
See, Rent, Own, Die - maybe I'll shorten this to SROD later.  This will chronicle my opinion of the film in an easy snap judgement style that has been famously created by the ABC show "At The Movies" (the version with the Bens, because they were my favorite.)  "See" means go see it at the theater.  "Rent" means don't even bother until Redbox/Netflix (which includes waiting for it to show up on TV).  "Own" means you should see it at the theater, rent it when it comes out, and buy it on Blu-ray as soon as possible.  "Die" speaks for itself.



Wednesday, October 13, 2010

That Movie is Terrible

Go In to the Story shares with us a few reasons why Hollywood sometimes makes bad movies.

Mr. Myers makes some great points as to why this happens, but I wanted to add my one little spin:

People watch bad movies and like them.  This is why they are made.

How many times have I heard someone say to me "Why can't the studios make any good movies?" followed by something to the effect of "Did you see Vampires Suck? It was sooo good."

So you've done it to yourself America.  If no one went to see Twilight or Step Up, they wouldn't make any more Twilight or Step Up.

All this aside, even though they may not be very good movies, I respect that people care for and desire the bad ones (when I was 12 I loved Surf Ninjas with all my heart.)

Screenwriting Blogs

I think it's important for every aspiring writer to keep current on basic trends and news on the subject of writing.  University of Phoenix just posted a list of top sites that are important for a screenwriter to know and regularly read.

I follow a majority of these blogs, if not for the advice and tips, for the fun and camaraderie.

Some that I personally like are:

John August  - Famous screenwriter, amazing blogger
The Bitter Script Reader - Insight from someone who actually reads a lot of scripts
Amanda the Aspiring Writer - An aspiring TV writer and former agency assistant like me
Screenwriting Tips…You Hack - A tip each day to help you write better
Scriptshadow - Reads, Reviews (and sometimes posts) the latest feature specs

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Bernoulli Principle of Writing

I was driving with the windows down one Saturday and I was using my arm as a "wing" creating lift by cupping my hand and having the air float my arm up in the air.  This led me to the internets where I looked up the Bernoulli Principle.  That was totally un-helpful because the internet is too smart.  But what I did gather from the kids version, was that the curve of the top forces air to move faster over the wing, so that the slower moving air on the bottom side of the wing helps create the lift and eventually force the wing upwards.

Seriously, why do I suck at science?
I would like to try and apply this principle to writing if I may.

The wing (or plane) is your screenplay.  The air is your writing (or physical exertion).
The pressure elevates your screenplay until you can eventually take off.

Now this is where it gets technical:

To write very fast, you glide over the screenplay so quickly that the screenplay has the freedom to lift upwards.  In other words - you give the screenplay an opening to take off.  Often when you get out your ideas quickly in a vomit draft (or quick draft), the writer is able to see what is working and what is not.

That's when the slow moving air comes in.  You go through the draft, very carefully.  Sometimes you rewrite the entire thing.  This process takes a long time.  Even the process of coming up with a great idea and "breaking" the story take the longest amount of time, but this is where you will be getting the greatest amount of lift.  At times I've simultaneously written my first draft while crafting the story - getting out the bad ideas while forming a great plan.  I think outlining can fall under this category as well, but if you never push the writing past outline you'll never get lift.

It also helps to have a better wing (solid ideas in the first place).

Spencer and I just finished the first draft of a pilot.  The idea was pretty solid and we came up with the characters and plot fairly quickly.  After writing the vomit draft, we rewrote.

We rewrote that darn thing four times in five days.  We had some pressure to get it done quickly, but mostly we just wanted it to be really good and the existing storylines just weren't working.  The faster we wrote, the better our ideas came.  Slowly but surely the great ideas were clear and once they were we incorporated them.  The script was able to eventually take off from the ground.

There is still a lot of lifting left to do, but I feel we've done the hard part - taking off.


Anyway, that's my take on it.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Daily Pre-Script-tion


Many of you may know, my buddy Spencer and I started a blog a few years ago called Daily Pre-Script-tion.

We attempted to write a one-page script every day for a year (schemes!).  We were unsuccessful at this attempt.  We were able to accomplish 100 each.  That's like two feature screenplays.

The experiment was extremely fun and exciting.  We based each script around a particular theme, usually a picture, video or other random craziness.  We also had guest writers on Fridays.  The Pen script was my favorite to write.

As you might expect, this practice became very tiresome.  The experience was valuable, we learned a great deal about deadlines and coming up with material quickly, but we just couldn't keep up the momentum.  We  learned how tiring it can be to format and fix a blog post every single day.  It was made especially difficult when traveling or not being near a computer.

Although the experience ended suddenly and the blog was all but abandoned, the overall lasting effects were tremendous.  We grew as writers.

I have officially opened the blog back up.  The dust has been removed and we are now going to have new content.

Check it out for more details and read the first in a long line of great scripts to come.

You are more than welcome to help us out by reading and commenting, or if you feel you have the chops - contributing your own scripts. (Just email me if you're interested).

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hearing is Better than Seeing

After being indirectly reprimanded by Bitter Script Reader, I will now proceed to write my post for today.  And hopefully the trend will continue throughout the rest of the week.

I have a good excuse though (writing a pilot, cleaning my apartment, reading everyone's scripts), but I won't bore you with my whining.

Instead I will just complain.

I would like to file a complaint.  My current work computer has some issues.  Most of which I'm totally okay with:  It runs super slow, the email program quits unexpectedly when I try and write an email, and there are nine (count them - 9) color lines running down my monitor - probably from dead pixels.

I'm totally alright with all of this.  But I have one very large complaint right now:

My freakin' audio won't work.

I started it up the other day and it is now broken.  Of course, I know if I restart my computer it will probably be fixed, but I don't have that kind of time.  It takes FOREVER to start up all my programs and especially the phone book - which is absolutely essential to my work.  I'll probably do it Friday night before I leave, but until then I'm audio-less.

Which means, I can't watch any cool and fun videos.  Yay for the spike in productivity!

Boo for not being able to watch this:



It also means that when my favorite website: Dump.com, who has just started sharing videos, is unplayable on my computer right now.

I watched the first minute of a video without audio and it totally sucked. Woah, is me.  I DEMAND YOUR PITY!!

Anyway, I've been working on my calendar for the Book Thing.  I'm getting really jazzed!
Also planning on a post a day during the week like Bitter.  I can only hope to entertain and educate.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Welcome Stranger

I have a pile of scripts to read on my desk, I am in the middle of finishing a new pilot and I have a few favors that I need to be doing for friends.  But I can't think straight right now, so I need to just write it out and see if I feel better.

Last night was a new experience for my burgeoning career in Hollywood.  I was a welcomed stranger in a strange land.

As some of you may know, a large part of my career of choice is networking.  To be able to shmooz and talk and get to know other people is the main way you get jobs, sell projects and make money.  (I'm totally down with this principle by the way, it is a necessary thing).

For a change of pace, I was invited to a mixer for Entertainment professionals of Asian and Pacific descent.  "But" you say, "you're not Asian, Eric."  Ya, I know.  It's cool, I was with good people.

It was a strange experience to say the least.  Not that I was shunned for being white, but because I was not shunned.  Let me explain...

Shunning can be very passive-aggressive.  It is very easy to ignore a person because of who they are, what they are and what they look like.  To ignore a person standing in the room that you for some reason hate with all of your black heart, is a very easy thing to do.

I'm not saying this is a good thing, it's actually quite bad.  But sometimes you just don't get along with someone or sometimes a person has done something offensive to you or your kin.  I think we all do it subconsciously to certain types of people.  I know I am guilty of doing this, and I hate to admit that I'll probably do it again.  Especially if I ever get stuck in a room with someone I secretly dislike (you probably don't know who you are, but I assure you - I don't like you.)

But here's my point - while attending this wonderfully asian social soirĂ©e, I was not shunned but welcomed whole-heartedly.  Almost too much in fact.  I felt completely at ease while there, even though there were a few moments of pure awkwardness - mainly from having been approached by one of the other only white guys there and being asked incessant questions about reading scripts at the agency at which I work.  But I brought that on myself, I should have just said I'm an aspiring writer and that I'm between jobs.

Needless to say, I shunned that guy the rest of the night.

Back to work!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Book Update

stack-of-books.jpg

Hey friends, an update on my book thing.

I've comprised a list of 72 suggested books to read. That is more than I need, but I'm still looking for more suggestions if you have them (send me an email or comment below).

I've decided to start the conquest on Monday, November 1, 2010. It seemed like a good enough date to start. Hopefully I can blog about each book and post it by Sunday night. I'm not promising deeply thought out and well versed critiques of each book, but I do promise hilarity and possible insight with each review.

I'm hoping to get the list compiled and my calendar set by the middle of October.  Then you may criticize and glow about the choices I've made.

Also, I've created a Goodreads account to track some of the books I want to read. You are all invited to join my circle of friends and recommend more books: Just click here to join me.

Friday, August 27, 2010

What Should I Read?

First off, let me start out by playing a little Ray LaMontagne:




Now, where were we?

Oh yes - schemes.  I'm fairly prolific in schemes.  Some of you may remember my sugar fast last year, and more recently my desire to run a marathon (if I can ever get my fat butt out of bed in the mornings.)

My latest desire/scheme is to read a book a week for a year.  That's right folks.

One book, every week, for an entire year.

Now I need your help.  I'm trying to compile a most amazingly amazing book list. I need 52 books. Any and all suggestions are welcomed. Any genre, any type, any era.

After getting the list together I will proceed to read.  My goal is to also blog about my thoughts on the book and any other general inspirations that come from the literary work.

My hope is that I will become well versed in my knowledge and understanding of the printed page, more prolific in current and past literary trends, but most of all I hope to rediscover my passion and kindle a desire to continue the habit of reading throughout my life.

Also, I hope that it gives me some really sweet ideas for my own writing.  Imitate the best I always say.


So what do you have for me?  What's your favorite book?  What have you been dying to read?

Please share in the comments section or email me personally.

I thank you in advance.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New Name, New Style

A friend of mine sent me an IM last night: "your link to the blog is taking me somewhere funky."

During the investigation, I have come to find out that Hostmonster had deleted my hosting because my credit card expired.  They had every right to do such things, but it would have been nice to get a call or an email.  I would have happily updated my billing info.  (Further inspection of an old email has shown evidence that they have indeed attempted to contact me and fill me in on the situation, but I had not in fact done my due diligence in checking that old email.)

Although this empty domain and hosting site distresses me, I only shed a single tear.  It's time to start anew. To freshen up the old blog.

I've decided to go with a new name.  The "Produce-er" title wasn't jiving anymore.  That was so three years ago.  Instead of being clever, I've decided to just use a trusted moniker of mine: Splanderson.

I plan to change some of the look, that will happen over time.  I also hope to keep up the posting regularly.  This will be a great challenge because of my work/writing schedule, but progress is only as good as the time and effort you put into it.

CH-CH-CH-CHANGES


By the way -- Everyone should be listening to the new Arcade Fire album.  Seriously.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Winner, Winner, Chicken Lunch

I realized when I posted the short story writing contest that I forgot to put a time limit on the entries.
For the official contest (of which the prize is a picture and bio on my blog), the deadline is right now. BUT I would like to hear any more stories you can come up with - either on these posts or on Facebook.

What fun eh? It's really hard to come up with a story in just six words. Hemingway was a crazy genius, so I'm declaring his hauntingly emotional story unbeatable in our hearts.

But as for the winner of the contest: [pause for effect...]

Scott Keller!

"Alien peace talks fail. Draft initiated."



Bio in Haiku
Best friend from high school.
Brilliant computer geek smarts.
Been too long since borscht.

I picked Scott's story because I felt it had a great beginning, middle, and end - plus you get an awesome twist ending.

This sort of writing exercise makes you think about how to organize and execute longer pieces. When going about writing a feature screenplay or a novel, it's good to think about how you want to set up your audience, grip them with emotion, then shock them with the final daring end.

It's so hard to do this in just six words, but if you can't do it in six, how can you do it in a virtually limitless amount?


Honorable Mentions
Spencer Holt: "FORSALE:Typewriterwithbrokenspacebar" (I liked this a lot, but I'm pretty sure I've seen it somewhere else...)
Tiffany Anderson: "Disneyland at 25, a first childhood." (this probably would have won if I didn't think it was about me... sorry babe)
Phil Monson: "Double Rainbow, what does it mean?" (because I laughed out loud)
Josh Cobb: "Whoa! *SPLASH* "Help!" *SPLASH* "guuurrggggle" Silence." (nice sound effects!)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Extremely Short Stories

I was looking into science-fiction short stories as a possible creative outlet - my friend Spencer has an idea that I think would be an amazing short story and it has a science fiction twist. I haven't told him this, and he probably doesn't know which story. Let's see if he can guess!

Anyway, I came across this article in Wired that was extremely fun.

They had taken the idea from Hemingway who said that the best thing he had ever written was a short story that was only six words long:
For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.
Then they had several authors come up with some of their own six-word stories. It's surprising how many of them played with time travel using a sentance structure gag. Here are my top three favorite:
3.  "Computer, did we bring batteries? Computer?" - Eileen Gunn
2.   Lie detector eyeglasses perfected: Civilization collapses. - Richard Powers
1.   TIME MACHINE REACHES FUTURE!!! ... nobody there ... -Harry Harrison
Now I want you all to come up with your own six-word short stories. The winner will be posted on my blog with a picture and a nice paragraph biography.

Here are a few of mine to get you started:
- No problems, no worries. Cryogenically frozen. 
- At first the numbing feels normal.
- Check arrived finally. No authorized signature.
- Cold. Quiet. Uncomfortable. Space suits suck.
- Approaching summit, no turning back now.
Have at it! And have fun. Post as many as you can think of.

Friday, June 25, 2010

It's in the Cards

This is a bit self-serving, but bear with me.

I've been told by a co-worker that my astrological sign is a Cancer (my birthday falls on July 6).


At first I was like "ho hum, what does that matter?" But after checking out a website that describes the personalities of a Cancer, I was dumbfounded at how much it describes me - not only as a person, but as a professional.

Let me explain...

Here are some traits of the Cancer people:
Emotional and loving
Intuitive and imaginative
Shrewd and cautious
Protective and sympathetic



All of that seems pretty straightforward and generalized. Sure I'm emotional (not outwardly) and loving. I really do think I'm intuitive and imaginative - two things that go well with writing. Shrewd and cautious? Maybe not so much. Protective I can be, also sympathetic.

Here are some less than admirable traits:
Changeable and moody
Overemotional and touchy
Clinging and unable to let go


Mmmm - I'm not that moody. Definitely changeable. I don't think the rest really apply to me.

So anyway, here's where it gets weird:

"Cancerians have a retentive memory, particularly for emotionally laden events which they can recall in detail for years afterwards. They are strongly governed by childhood memories and they tend to live intensely in the past in memory and in the future in imagination."

This is very interesting. So what I'm getting from this, is that I am able to recall vivid memories from my past (which is a great storytelling skill) and look forward to the future (imagination). Yay for me!

"Their abilities fit the Cancerian for a wide range of occupations. As they are interested in what people are thinking and able to judge what they can safely be told, they can be good journalists, writers or politicians, though in this last capacity they are more likely to remain in the background rather than attain prominent positions of power."

I definitely couldn't do politics - because I hate politics. Wouldn't be good for journalism either.

Writing it is!

(Oh, and also... there's a number associated with Cancers - 69. Just sayin')

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Down in Fraggle Rock

You know, my Birthday IS just a few weeks away...

on sale at Amazon for $37.49 (that's free shipping yo!)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Musings

I was writing up a big ol' post on writing query letters, but couldn't get it out. So instead I decided to dump all the random stuff floating around my brain right now:

This made me laugh all morning - seriously, it broke my work abilities.

Amanda Bynes wants to retire from acting.
Please don't Amanda, SHE'S THE MAN was pretty good and you're a great person.

Firefly: The Complete Series [Blu-ray] for $27.99 - that's free shipping on Amazon yo!


If I printed 5,000 of these, I would need more by the end of the month (and only if I gave them to the jackasses that park in the "compact" spots).

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

New Show: CBS - Mike & Molly

Here's a preview of the upcoming sitcom Mike & Molly on CBS:


This show was created by Chuck Lorre, who if you remember correctly, co-created The Big Bang Theory with Bill Prady.

Mike & Molly is about a couple who meet in a support group for their overeating. It's essentially about these two wonderful people who could stand to lose some weight (couldn't we all, amiright?).

I promised I wouldn't review shows before they are put on the air - but I will tell you which ones I would look out for if I were you. This is one of them.

If you're a fan of the Lorre shows (Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men, Dharma & Greg, Roseanne, etc.) then you will definitely enjoy this show. Lorre knows how to put a multicamera show our right and he does a good job with this one. After watching the pilot, my wife and I said "we want more!" and that is definitely a good sign for a new show.

Watch:
Mike & Molly
CBS
Mondays at 9:30/8:30c
Starts this Fall 2010

Police officer Mike Biggs knows his way around the streets. As a cop, Mike’s not scared of anything—except dating, so he’s joined Overeaters Anonymous® to lose those extra pounds and gain some much-needed confidence. When he meets Molly at a meeting, the attraction is immediate, and suddenly Mike is excited about the prospect of a new life. But now he must find the willpower to give up his beloved junk food for the apple of his eye.




Starring:
BILLY GARDELL | MIKE
MELISSA MCCARTHY | MOLLY
KATY MIXON | VICTORIA
RENO WILSON | CARL
NYAMBI NYAMBI | SAMUEL
SWOOSIE KURTZ | JOYCE