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Category Archives: The Secret Project

So, I started this new job in July which affords me the opportunity to ride the bus to work instead of driving. The new office pays for the bus pass, so all I’m out is the little more time than driving would take. I decided that the ride would be an excellent opportunity to work on the secret project screenplay, and so far I’m right. As long as there’s a place to sit, I’ve been able to come up with some great new ideas and expand them into scenes, all during my commute.

But I realized before the holidays that it’d been a while since I’d really sat down and looked at the screenplay as a whole.

It’s bad.

Really bad. I like the direction things are going generally, but its amazing what a little break from your work will surface. Problems abound. Continuity problems, lousy character introductions, plot holes. That sort of thing.

See, the thing is, in the last few months I’ve been reading screenplays, and listening to screenwriting specific podcasts. The Creative Sceenwriting Magazine podcast (iTunes link, highly recommended), and Pilar Allesandra’s On The Page (iTunes link) podcast. Of course, John August’s blog is a must read. A trip through his archives is definitely worth your while. These sorts of helps are what make the internet so great. You can learn on your own time at your own pace.

And I’ve learned that a lot of what I’ve already written is pretty bad. Which is OK. I’m willing to work at it to get better. After taking the holidays to fix a lot of stuff, and add new stuff, I’m pretty happy. I’ve got 40 OK pages down, and they’re definitely going to get better.

Also, I started running numbers on making this movie and selling it online. For my projected budget (which, of course, is me just making numbers up, but still) I’d need around 20,000 people to pay $12 in order to break even. Odds are pretty small, but what’s encouraging, is that Internet distribution is possible for an independent. Things are looking up.

The outline I wrote about back in June has quite a few story holes that I didn’t notice until I starting getting the thing turned into screenplay format. So I’ve got to come up with a few scenes that plug up those holes. And speaking of screenplay format, I’m up to about 20 pages. I know a lot of people write scenes out of order, but I just can’t figure out how do that. I write linearly, what can I say? Not that I don’t have any idea about what’s going to happen later on in the movie. I do. But I need to figure out how to get there before I flesh those parts out further. I’m into the second act, where all good screenplays go to die. The long pauses between times when I get any actual work done allow me the luxury of reading with fresh eyes. A lot of it is crap. Some of it is ok. And it’s still got a freaking long way to go. I still think the idea is really compelling. I just need to write more so that I get good at doing it. There are no excuses there. Well, there are, but none of them that mean anything.

I decided that once I’m done writing, I’m just going to try and make the thing myself. Forget about selling. In this day and age, trying to do that will get you about as much attention as a rhino gives to a fly. He might notice the fly. Probably not. And if he does, he certainly doesn’t care. If Hollywood isn’t going to make my move, I might as well. They might even want it when I’m done. Stranger things have happened. And if not, we’ll see if I can’t just try and sell in online on my own. It’s a brave new world with this interweb thing.

I discovered a website by a couple screenwriters that I like. Wordplayer has a whole bunch of screenwriting tips and other inspiration.

fundable logo

I just found out about Fundable, a way to raise funds online. The concept seems cool enough: You set up a fundraising goal, and basically request pledges. No one actually gets charged until the total amount pledged equals the goal. If pledges are slow coming in and the total doesn’t reach the goal by a pre-determined deadline, the all of the pledges are deleted and no one gets charged anything.

The idea is cool, and it was exciting to see that a couple of folks have already tried it out for financing their films (with varying degrees of success). This looks like something I may take advantage of in the future. You’re only limited by how thick your rolodex is. Just like with blogging, the people most likely to contribute are those you know, but, just like with blogging, the possibility exists that folks you don’t know will end up reading (contributing) and that’s what makes the internet so dang cool.

It's simply amazing how things can sap your time. Buying a house, fixing a house, maintaing a house, maintaining the grandparents. Keeping up relations with my wife. All these things seem to pop up when you think you'll get a couple hours to work on your secret project.

I've finally gotten an outline done of the whole script, and have starting fleshing the thing out in screenplay format. In the meantime, I've spoken with a rather renowned cinematographer, and he suggested that I start out with something in short form in order for me to get something under my belt. He's not the only person to have mentioned doing things this way, and I'm starting to see the merit. I hate to cut down my idea to a short film, so the compromise is to shoot a trailer for the movie, and maybe start showing it around locally in order to drum up interest from investors.

Finding actors has been harder than I thought though. Not that I've tried hard, but everyone I know has declined. So, I'm going to start asking around the local community theaters and see if anyone in those places would be interested. I haven't any money, so the idea is to find volunteers. Rodriguez style. In fact, I hope to make the full length flick that way as well. We'll see.

P.S. In case anyone is interested, I'm using OpenOffice.org to write, with the screenplay macro to help out with formatting. Talk about a cheap start to an indie flick. Even my writing tools are free.

So, the whole 4 AM thing didn't work out. Getting up in the middle of the night with the kid (almost a year old) brings 4 AM rather swiftly. Just working on this on nights when I get some time.

I'm up to a whole 8 pages.

But, in the interveneing time, we've bought a house.

Note to prospective homebuyers: That takes a freaking lot of time.

Slow and steady wins the race.