I’m Excited

This is a list of my Top 10 Films. My Top 10 is not the 10 movies that I think are the best movies ever made, they are the 10 movies I would sit down and watch at any time, anywhere and love as much as the first time I saw them. They aren’t in any particular order.

  1. Dr. Strangelove
  2. The Princess Bride
  3. Die Hard
  4. Silence of the Lambs
  5. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
  6. The Shining
  7. The Labyrinth
  8. Blazing Saddles
  9. Beauty and the Beast
  10. Gone with the Wind

Someone who produced one of the movies in my top ten list is reading something I wrote. Holy Awesome!

Road Trip

I am about to drive to South Carolina, on Friday, from LA, which will be quite the adventure.  I’m planning on being in SC for the next couple of months, working on some various projects, and hopefully getting some writing done.  Debating pursuing more screenplays or another attempt at a novel, it’s weird though, I find LA to be not a great place for writing.  Maybe that’s not that weird.

Nicholl 2010

Didn’t make it to the QFs.

I’m bummed, but trying not to be too bummed.  I know the script is in much, much better shape than it was when it SFed last year — I’ve got industry reader feedback, so it’s not just my opinion.  It comes down to the fact that it’s an incredibly arbitrary process with over 6000 scripts competing, and if you’re script addresses anything controversial or is a weird genre, it’s not unlikely that it might hit someone the wrong way.  That’s all I can guess from the PS, 2 readers liked it and one hated it.

I am really surprised and bummed after how well it did last year, but I guess that just underlines how much luck is involved.

World Cup: Day 4; Writing D4aD

Netherlands v Denmark

Netherlands won as expected with the added bonus of a freak Denmark own goal.

Japan v Cameroon

Japan with an upset over Cameroon.

Italy v Paraguay

Italy was supposed to trounce Paraguay, and instead they ended up trailing for most of the game, and just pulling out a tie in the second half. Italy is not playing nearly as well as they did last cup, where they were the winners, but they have a reputation for eking by for the win anyway.

Finally put something on paper for the second act of D4aD. Hopefully the lack of a blank page staring at me will let me move with some speed through the rest of it.

Internet help?

Using the massive power of, um, asking a question on my blog in the hopes that someone who reads it knows the answer, does anyone know if there’s a place online where I can watch the world cup games after they air? As in, I have no plans to be up at 7am to watch the opening game live, but I would actually like to watch it. Or is this just something I have to figure out Friday?

I sort of fell off the blogging map last week.  It was one of those weeks where I accomplished like nothing at all.  But I will be better now because I’m fully recovered from having another human being (aka Mom) spending all day with me every day for 4 days.  Have you read this?  You know that phrase “you’re getting on my last nerve”?  Having people around all the time is sort of like being put in a state of permanent last nerveness.  Also, she broke down my door.  Which was kind of hilarious.

In the last couple of weeks I haven’t been watching a lot of media.  I’m well behind on Glee and hadn’t watched a movie in like weeks because I’d been reading a lot trying to do the 50 books in a year thing.  Which has actually been nice.  I spend all day at work in front of the computer watching TV footage, I think getting away from the computer is a state I have to manufacture more often.  Like, I’ve gotten some (late-afternoon, indirect) sunlight in the last couple of weeks and I feel slightly healthier and I think my skin is vaguely less albino.  But, this weekend, I watched some movies and Sherlock Holmes.  I know it’s wrong, but Jeremy Brett, am I right?

Jeremy Brett: Hot or Not?

I just did a google image search for people who are albino and they are not paler than me.  What’s that about?

Working on D4aD, trying to get beyond the outline with complete first act stage.  I tried scene cards and decided I hate them.  I’m not saying writing has to be totally organic, and having a skeleton is important, but the scene cards confuse that for me somehow.  //END RANDOM BLOG

ScriptSavvy Feedback

I sent the second to newest draft of Bible Con into ScriptSavvy for their April contest.  I got my feedback back, I got 56/60 which is on the low end of what their winning scripts normally score (I didn’t win).  Based on the feedback, I don’t know that I can get it much higher than that, it’d just be luck of the draw in terms of who the reader was.  Still that’s an 8 point (or 13%) improvement over the previous draft I sent in, which could be good for the Nicholl this year as well.  There are other things going on with maybe getting it made, but I’m reluctant to even consider those as feasible until they happen.

I’m just going to share many of the lovely things that were said about me.

This “mockumentary” proves to be a very strong concept for a script. It takes a relatable topic and, in a very Christopher Guest kind of way, pokes fun at it without being too mean or snide. The writer does a nice job of building personal relationships in to the overall spoofish story, giving the audience people to cheer for as well as something to laugh at.

The dialog throughout the script is sharp, clever and really well done. It sounds so real and natural that it just pops off the page. The characters have unique voices without going over the top with accents or colloquialisms. It’s really nice to see how wonderfully the writer crafted the dialog to make subtle but distinct differences in the main characters. Any exposition, such as the events of last year’s convention, is stated through natural and usually very humorous dialog.

The writer does an excellent job setting the scenes with vivid but concise descriptions, like Mary’s room, “…looks like a normal teenager’s room. Only Jesusy.” It’s a great shorthand way to tell us all we need to know to fully imagine the scene.

The scenes are very tightly constructed, cutting in and out at exactly the right moment. Even awkward pauses for added humor are very clear and effective. The rhythm is consistent with a bouncy feel as the script jumps from one storyline to another. The pacing is energetic without coming on too strong, giving the script that slightly slow feel of a spoof-worthy documentary. The use of supers for the characters and labeling the days of the convention is a nice touch to give the movie a suitably pompous kind of feel that fits the genre perfectly.

Many times writers misuse the device of having each paragraph be only one sentence long. This writer really nails the beauty of how to make that work with the scene on page 19 with Mary jumping on her bed. It’s a great flow to give each action it’s own paragraph, creating a visual rhythm for the reader that adds to the scene.

Comedies like this are popular with a very niche audience. The appeal isn’t as wide as perhaps a standard romantic comedy but would work well as a smaller, art house movie. However, it’s well written enough to attract the attention of meaningful talent. It would probably also play very well on the festival circuit, gaining some attention from distributors as well as critical notice.

The writer gives the script a very polished look by using professional formatting throughout. Well done!

The script has great spelling, grammar and punctuation. The writer clearly carefully proofread the script and the effort pays off.

My favorite compliment may have been the formatting/grammar bit. Not really, though. Maybe a little. And “suitably pompous”.

Talking about movies

This is my favorite scene ever shot, the heart of which begins 1 minute into the clip.  It does what films do arguably better than any other medium, tells a complex and specific emotional story without words.*  In it, Glenn Close realizes that her guy is in love with someone else.

5 setups, breaks my heart every time.

Anyone else have a favorite film scene?

*I said arguably.

New draft; Weblebrities

Not a totally new draft, just a tweaked one.  I have a hard time doing rewrites immediately, I need time for things to gestate.  I think I’m different from most writers in that I’d rather spend a lot of time thinking and write in a mad dash than to write a little each day.  I think a little most days, and then write 10-20 pages a day for a week.  I think this is absolutely not the way they recommend doing it.

I think about 30% of it is a procrastination thing*, it’s hard to write without deadlines, but most of it is about the fact that in the rewrite stage I need to get away from the previous draft enough that changing it doesn’t feel like I’m betraying the truth of the story.  Because when you write something down it becomes sort of solid; while it’s floating around in your head, changes are easy, but once it’s on the page it’s just a little bit harder to change.

*Writing is tough when you’re at work 50hrs/wk and you have other stuff you’ve got to do.  And there’s the internet.

In other, unrelated news, I met Mr. Deity on Friday!  So in one week, I’ve met Michael Shermer, PZ Myers, and Mr. Deity.  Only slightly related, UPS was supposed to have delivered my new business cards on Thursday, but even though I left them the signed thing saying they could just leave it, they didn’t.  So I don’t have them and I am frustrated because I spent hours (maybe like an hour) designing new ones and I could have had those on me at the time.  Oh well.

In other other news, I spent all of Saturday (14 hours) ACing on a spinoff series of Gold.  They’re shooting for four days, but 28 hour weekends is a lot when you’re not getting money or an above the line credit, so I did yesterday and probably will help out a little next weekend.  It was an interesting day, they’ve got different directors working on the project, but two different people were directing different bits, so it was interesting to see how differently it went with the two of them.

And, we were shooting in the garage, and the garage door fell off.  And I thought that was hysterical, which I think is allowed because they fixed it.

So, go watch Mr. Deity or Gold

Advice for 2010 Grads Coming to LA; 15 things

The Bitter Script Reader posted some advice about how to survive to move to LA.  I tried to comment over there and it won’t let me, but this is what I said.

1) Get settled so that you’re as comfortable as possible — living out of boxes makes everything seem transient. Have roommates or whatever, but make sure that you’ve got a space, however small, that is yours. Spend some time driving around the city and getting to know places. Find the studios. (Have a car!)

2) I really love Glendale, it’s safe and cheapish. Frogtown is super cheap. North Hollywood is becoming a lot safer, the parts closer to the 134 are totally fine for a single girl to live in.

2) I would say you probably need at least 7k in the bank before coming out here and at least two finished scripts and some outlines for more. Basically, you need enough money that you can go several months without making much money at all and enough written that if you’re too discombobulated to write, you’ve got something to work with. I applied for internships and jobs for 6 months before I moved out and it still took me 3 months to land a part time paid gig, though I did have an internship lined up.

3) Apply to every job you can find, do things for free, take an internship in the industry if you can afford it and then work at whatever you can in the rest of the time. It doesn’t matter if it’s an industry job, making contacts of all sorts is important, life experience, all that jazz. I’m not super social and I don’t like to drink, but working on other people’s projects is a great way to meet people and learn useful skills.

4) Find something else you can do in the industry besides writing. Can you edit? Can you gaff? Find a way to make yourself useful. Pursue every avenue. Learn to script supe, that’s easy and low impact.  Find something you like to do that isn’t writing.

5) A lot of people would say find a writing group. I personally am not in one, but I have a large group of friends who I can get advice from. Writing groups are pretty useful if you don’t have that.

6) Apply selectively to contests, but do apply. I’ve definitely gotten contacts from agents and managers and earned some street cred by placing in contests people had heard of.

7) Mandy.com, realitystaff.com, and craigslist are your new friends. I personally don’t really like the UTA job list, but it’s out there too.

8) Figure out a way to make your commute worthwhile. A voice recorder is great if you can think outloud for writing purposes. I listen to a lot of audiobooks.

9) Do things that have nothing to do with film because people who only talk about film are boring. Read books, magazines, go do stuff that’s got seriously zero to do with film and then you’ll have something interesting to talk about. The reason Hollywood loves young blood is because they have experience outside of the Hollywood system and they haven’t quite yet been turned into normal LA people who can only talk about themselves and movies.

10) Write genre scripts that can be produced cheaply if you’re really out to make a sell.

11) Don’t ever be a douchebag. Don’t have a temper. If you talk shit online, don’t use names.  (Unless revealing scam artists!)

12) Conversely, if you’re working for free, you have the right to be treated well and to learn something from the experience. Don’t be afraid of anyone. And don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself, just don’t be aggressive. Along these lines, know how much you should be getting paid, even if you’re not being paid that. This is useful info.

13) Be on the look out for scams. Not all competitions are worthwhile. Not all agents are legit. If someone asks you for money upfront to be your agent, that guy is a scam artist. (google Eddie Kritzer)

14) If you’re a lady writer with a girly name, I’d recommend using your initials. That sounds terrible, but there’s genuine gender bias out here and I’m super lucky that all the other Ashleys out here are guys. This is especially true if you’re replying to internet ad, because internet people are super creepy.

15) Give yourself deadlines so that you’re not constantly second guessing yourself and make sure they’re reasonable. I, for example, haven’t always been totally sure LA is the place for me, but I’m only allowed to seriously think about moving during the month of August. So I don’t dwell on it in general.

(I never had a problem with the tap water, don’t know what people are talking about)

Eddie Kritzer aka Andy King Cont’d

I won’t let this post of his stay where it was originally posted because it’s got nothing to do with Eddie Kritzer, but I also think people should know exactly what depths this grown man is sinking to in an attempt to score some sort of points.

So, on a relatively popular post unrelated to Mr. Kritzer, “Andy King” posted the following:

you deleted Andy Kings criticism of Ashley; Ashley, your a hooker on
Sunset Blvd, some guy told me you gave him head, and he threw up on you, and you ate it.
Ashley you are one ugly old lady

While I did delete this comment, I haven’t deleted the one he posted prior.  I sent “Andy King” an e-mail asking him to stay on topic.

Let’s do some thought experiments here.  One, let’s pretend we don’t think “Andy King” is Eddie Kritzer, why would someone care that much about someone they supposedly didn’t know?  Why would a business man whose posts link directly to his business put that sort of language out in the public under his name?  Two, if it is Eddie Kritzer, which it is because the IP address and grammar is the same, why would he continually bring himself back up on a blog that calls him a scam?  Does he not realize that every time he posts, I get a surge in hits and more people discover what he’s done to me and the people who’ve contacted me?  Does he not realize that using that kind of language and this obsessive behavior makes him more obviously unprofessional, regardless of whether he’s a scam?

He is simply vile.  I don’t take it personally, but it’s hard not to be grossed out.  Especially when you consider this is a guy old enough to be my father.  Ick.

If you’re new to the Eddie Kritzer saga just click at the top where it says Eddie Kritzer and you’ll go to all the wordpress blogs on it, which are almost all mine.  Basically, he’s a guy who says he’ll be your agent if you pay him up front, which is against the rules for agents and who has been harassing me since October 09.