Friday, May 28, 2010

Emergency Rewrites

Filming with the company I'm a member of is never dull; we all have great senses of humor and get along very well. And as a fledgling film company, we have a lot of learning and growing to do. Today, we learned and grew the amount we usually do in a month of filming, in three hours. Today's lesson(s): MAKE SURE YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU'RE DOING... AND LET EVERYONE WHO IS INVOLVED IN ON IT.

See, we do most of our filming in our kitchens or living rooms or backyards. It's free, it's ours, and we have unlimited time. But as we grow, we've been trying to branch out, which means real locations. So when our director procured us a great, artsy cafe that was perfect for our film, I was extremely excited. He had talked to the owner and she was also very excited that we were coming. All she asked was to be put in the credits, which we would have done anyway.

We met up early to run lines and though the owner wasn't around, we got permission to film in the kitchen of the cafe. Long story short, we spent about a half hour in there shooting and then moved out to the main area to figure out what we were doing next. This is when the owner (a lady from whom I took art lessons as a child) came out and started asking us some questions about our company, the film, etc. She then asked to see what we had done. This is when things started to go downhill. Turns out, there are a lot of health laws we were violating by being back there (though we didn't touch any of their equipment- I wrote the script so that we wouldn't have to actually make coffee, etc.) Another long story short, though there were some scary moments when we thought we were going to be thrown out, the owner is very forgiving and in the end was helping us work out shot angles that wouldn't show the equipment and gave us props to use. She even made me a little barista magnet with my character's name on it to put on the barista board!

All of these new rules meant that I had to rewrite a lot of the script on the spot. There was an adorable metaphor moment at the end of the film where one character cleans up the others mess, literally and figuratively, but there was no way, after all we had already done, that we could show a smashed coffee mug on the floor, even if we didn't actually break it in cafe. Also, the entire film originally took place at the counter or in the back room, neither of which we could use, so I rewrote it so that we could be moving around the entire time. Because of all these changes, what was meant to only be a three/four hour shoot has turned into six to eight hours, as we're going back tomorrow (can you imagine? The owner actually encouraged us to come back. What forgiveness!)

All I have to say is, though all of us are pretty similar, thank God we have our differences, too. Because while the director and I were freaking out, our camera guy was totally chill, letting it roll right off him; he saved the director and me from having complete breakdowns on the spot!

Now time to go rework that script for tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

WIP Wednesday: Scene at a Funeral

Whew, just made it. And I, uh, wasn't actually going to post anything, as I didn't do any work on the piece I wanted to work on and almost everything else is on an external hard drive, my laptop having gone into surgery yesterday (as soon as I returned home from school, it began to sound this constant, loud hum that could be heard throughout my entire house when it was turned on, and since the Great [Albeit Temporary] NaNo Novel Loss of 2009, I take impending crashes very seriously.)

So anyway, enough rambling. Here's a short-ish excerpt from a short I hope will be shot this summer, though I still want to tweak the lines a bit... or, make that a lot. What you need to know is that this scene takes place at a funeral.

[Sorry! This excerpt was removed! :(]

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Melodrama and Shooting on Location

I know, I know, it's been awhile. But I swear I plan to post something for this week's WIP Wednesday, although I don't think it will be from my NaNo novel, since I'm too scared to delve into the edits. Unfortunately, I have to eventually- my friend asked me to edit his novel, which I happily agreed to, but then he said, "On one condition." "What's that?" I asked. "That you let me read your novel." Cue the needle-ripping-off-of-the-record sound that they use in movies. My novel is sooo far from being reading material. It's mostly the fact that he is a close friend of mine who has read a lot of my writing, but this novel is much different from any of my other material. It's very, very dramatic- almost melodramatic- which is most worrying. I put my characters through so much that I'm worried it's laughable. But I have promised him that he will read it one day, so I will have to start the edits sometime.

In other writing news, another of my shorts is being produced on Friday by the film company I'm involved with! I'm really excited about this one because I'm pretty proud of the script. I started it in early January and worked on it for awhile with the aforementioned friend helping out with some stuff. It's cute and romantic and I hope it turns out well. It's also exciting because a) I am acting in it as well as being the writer and b) we're not shooting in our kitchens; we actually have a location (a local and really cool, artsy cafe). I love shooting on location, especially with this crew, even though the last time we did, we almost got arrested- but that just added to the fun and gave us a fun anecdote. And on the fifth of next month, the crew is taking a non-film-related trip to New York City!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Struck by Inspiration

Yesterday I went to New York City to audition for the national tour of a very big show. The audition went well (though I don't expext a callback) and afterward, I headed to one of my favorite places in the city: The Drama Bookshop. I go there whenever I am there and spend far too much money on far too few plays. This time, I hit the jackpot. I had a list of plays I wanted to get and got some of them as well as a few others. I got tired of walking a few hours later and went to find a seat in Borders. I cracked open the first play I had bought (The Metal Children by Adam Rapp) and read it straight through. It's fantastic; the plot revolves around the banning of a young adult book in a small town, and since censorship is something I'm strongly against, it was a very interesting read. Then I started July 7, 1994, by David Margulies (which my school is doing next spring) and read straight through, too, and sat crying in the middle of Borders over the sad ending. Then, while waiting for and on the train, I read Sarah Treem's a feminine ending, which is fantastic and I want to play the lead character so badly.

Reading all of these amazing works was very inspiring, especially since I haven't read a play that made me feel any of those things for a long time. I was so inspired, in fact, that I wanted to write something, anything, right then. But I didn't know what to write. I had no ideas. But about half an hour later, a question and a name tiptoed into my head and I quickly noted them in my phone and didn't return to them for awhile, until on the train, all of these ideas started flowing. At first, I only had a tiny snatch of dialogue, which I again typed into my phone. But two hours and one piece of paper later, I had this:

I got home fairly early, so I typed all of this into my computer (with a bit of difficulty- when I'm writing quickly, my handwriting is atrocious, and adding the bumpiness of the train made that entire page almost unreadable.) As of now, it seems like I've got almost all of Act II sorted, and a tiny, tiny bit of Act I. I'm pretty excited, although daunted, as I've already got one writing project I need to work on and three more I'd like to. This will be the fifth project on my plate. But I'm enthusiastic, and that's all that matters, I guess.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Slacking and Different Views

Wow... sorry for the absence. Unfortunately, it'll be going on for a little longer. Though, compared to my fellow students, my finals week- and finals in general- have been pretty easy, I've still had so much to do in the way or projects, packing, performances, etc. However, I'm done with my sophomore year of college tomorrow at noon (just a scene from Much Ado About Nothing to do for Shakespeare!) But while I've made notes on all of the edits that my friend made on my novel, I have not actually applied any of them yet. Me = slacker. And while I have many, many plans in the next two weeks, I do have some free time to work on the novel. So I hope I will have a WIP excerpt for you next Wednesday!

In other news, I have done back to the editor side of the writing process. My roommate has written a play for her thesis and I have been her primary editor since day one; I just finished editing her final version, which means I've read about four or five versions of the play.

My roomie and I are very similar, but there is one thing we don't really agree on, and that is writing. Our styles are so incredibly different, and every time we've edited each other's composition, we've been borderline arguing. We agree on almost nothing- conventions, grammer, word choice, character development, and, in the world of scripts, stage directions. Our debates over her final draft got so heated today that I had to stop talking about it because I didn't want to fight with my wonderful roommate who I am leaving forever in less than 24 hours (she's graduating in a few weeks)! So now we've reconciled and worked out some plot points together. It's just very interesting to me how we can have such different views on a topic.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Hey, I'm Interesting!

The semester is winding here at my school. Today is the last day of classes, which means that at ten am this morning, my last official Children's Theatre class took place. Though we are technically meeting twice more to finish up final project presentations, I am so sad that this class is over. It was easily one of the best classes of my college career so far, despite all the stress I went through over my Peter Pan project.

And speaking of that project, I presented it today! Every time I met with my professor or even talked to her, she would congratulate me on all the work I had done on the script. Until last night, I accepted the compliment but never really believed that I was worthy of it; I just didn't feel like I had really done that much work. But what I realised last night was that I really have done a lot of work on the project- it just doesn't seem like it because, well, I'm a writer and writing is what I do for fun. And yes, the script was hard work, but I enjoyed every minute of writing it, so I didn't see it as work, really.

After I met with my teacher last Wednesday, she asked me if there was anything she could do to help me with the project. I had given her a copy of the three scenes I had written and said that if she had time, I'd love to hear her comments on them. She's doing a lot of writing work of her own, as well as a million other things, but since she rocks, an e-mail popped into my inbox around noon on Saturday- her comments. I was scared to click on it- what if they sucked? But eventually I did and was ecstatic at what I found- she loved them!

Of course, they were in no way perfect- even after the rewrite for today, they still need a lot of work- but she really liked them and gave me a lot of great suggestions. I gave one of the scenes a huge facelift, finished one of the scenes that had been incomplete when I handed it in, and made a few smaller conventional changes to the third one. There are still a lot of changes I want to make-I am struggling a lot with Peter's voice (he sounds too mature for his age and attitude) and though the play is set from the 1860's to the 1890's, I need to make sure the dialogue isn't so old-fashioned that it sounds stilted.

But even though I want to do all of those things, my presentation went very well. I had to explain why I chose to continue with the script, as doing so wasn't actually an option, and my explanation was simple- I am passionate about the story and feel it needs to be told.
I cast all of my classmates in the scenes for the staged readings, so four or five of them would be onstage while the others would watch. The actors did quite well in their characters, and the best part was the audience reaction- I got great laughs and "aw"s and gasps of surprise- pretty much everything I wanted from my audience, I got. YES!

A required part of the presentation was a Q&A at the end, where we were allowed to ask questions of the audience and vice versa. I asked them a few questions, and got some great, great stuff- some suggestion were made about the plot that I've already got penciled in, some awesome questions were asked that made me want to delve even further into the material. And the absolute best part of the Q&A session was when one of my classmates raised her hand to ask a question and said, "Your writing just always keeps me interested."

There are few compliments better than that. If a writer's compositions don't keep their readers' attention, there's a problem there. I know I have a ways to go before I'm a Libba Bray or a Neil Simon, but I hope that being an interesting writer is a baby step in that direction.

Now that the project itself is over, I'm ready to continue work on the script- for real. Now I'm not writing for anyone but myself as I develop the story. With my classmates' and teacher's support, encouragement, and suggestions, I am confident and ready to put in the work!

In completely unrelated stuff, I have been obsessively listening to When You're Home from Into the Heights for the past day or so. You should check it out. I haven't seen the show, but the song is so catchy.