Screenwriting and the Script Frenzy

Countless nights. Countless days. I forced myself not to play video games- only playing Battlefield 3 when friends wanted to play with me. Games that I have been looking for, like Mass Effect 3, were barely touched throughout this month. My brand new Playstation Vita was only picked up twice, only to download new applications for it. There wasn’t a day where I was writing a screenplay. I couldn’t stop myself. And it was wonderful. Script Frenzy, at least for me, is now over, with a total of…

Total Script Frenzy page count: 178 pages! Fuck yes!

178 pages. 178 pages of script. I didn’t think I would write so much, but once I started… I couldn’t stop myself. Hell, there were times I wanted to slack off, where I kept saying to myself “Okay, after this page, I’ll stop and watch a movie or something.” But the movie never came. I just continued to write, write, and write. That night, I finished one of my screenplays, writing until 3 am until it was done.

The words “The End” never felt so great, but I was eager to just go back and start editing it. At that point, I forced myself to go to bed. I had work that day at 10 am. But I didn’t care. I felt like I had accomplished something new during that time, or rather, feel that sense of accomplishment I hadn’t felt in years. I compiled all the pages I had written today- counting them up in one file. Right after I had counted it, I paused for a second, reviewing over the work I’ve done so far. And then I started writing again, pouring through my work. It felt fantastic.

I originally started to write in the sixth grade. I started writing some ridiculous screenplays back then. I still have them all- I pour through them from time to time to amuse myself, to see what I had come up with as a teenager with an overreactive imagination. Back then, one person was my biggest influence, my biggest motivator to continue writing screenplays. It was Taylor.

Taylor always cheered me on to write- back then, I mostly wrote silly comedies, things that I knew would make Taylor laugh. And I loved making him laugh- his face filled with glee as I read stories aloud to him. I remember riding along with him in his Black Mini- sitting in the passenger seat as I read hastily written scripts on lined paper. I would be watching for Taylor’s reaction- that sense of relief and joy I got when he cackled in joy, slamming his palm down on the steering wheel as he proclaimed his love for the screenplay. I could think of no other joy then that very moment. After his death, my motivation to write… dried up.

I would come up with ideas here and there, but my need to get it down on paper was nonexistent. I did write the last Script Frenzy in 2011, but even then, right after I finished, I would stop completely writing. It felt like an obligation back then. I feel like that’s gone now. I’m writing screenplays every day, even if its for only five or ten minutes. Maybe in the morning, as I’m reading my news headlines of the day, I’ll flip over to Celtx (the amount of love I’ve professed about this app is bordering on an endorsement deal. I seriously wish they would have paid me for the amount of times i’ve talked to people about the app) and start to write, or edit things. I’ve finished counting my pages for Script Frenzy, and I still want to write more. It’s no longer an obligation to write- I just want to keep writing and writing more. I love this feeling. During this month, I went to go to visit Taylor. I brought the iPad along, reading to him passages of my scripts to him. Passages he would have loved.

Reading to Taylor

I’m sure he loved it.

Script Frenzy 2012 Update #3

I didn’t write jack shit. Yeah, because I’m only 7 pages away from my goal, I decided to take the week off from writing. Used the time I did spend writing to edit some things from my scripts as well as plan ahead to see where I want to go with some of them. I’m still proud of myself to where I have gone with my screenplays. Starting tomorrow, I’ll probably continue writing. But tonight, Mass Effect 3 waits for me. I had it waiting for me until I was able to hit the goal.

Script Frenzy 2012 Update #2

Script Frenzy Update #2

I can’t think of a more apt thing to say now other than: holy fuck. I don’t know what came over me the last week. I’ve been spending every minute writing more for my ScriptFrenzy. Again, I have to hand it to Celtx for its syncing feature: whenever I could, I would pop open at least one version of the software. If I was stuck in line someplace, the iPhone version would be brought up to make some notes or quick changes. The iPad version would be brought up during breaks and lunch at work. The Mac version when I was at home. I just kept writing and writing. It was perfect. I hadn’t written a single page in the last six months. Call it writers block, call it focusing on work, but I had to do something, and this friendly competition seemed to have done the trick. And I still want to write more. I’ve been writing four feature length movies, two of which are approaching 70 pages each. I want to see how much I can do through the end of the month. Maybe I’ll finish at least one of them.

Script Frenzy 2012

Last year, I was really proud of myself as I completed the Script Frenzy competition. Think of it as Nanowrimo but for screenwriters. If you don’t know what that is, I’m too lazy to explain it, go ask someone else. Last year I was able to make about 103 pages for random scripts. This year I want to try to break my record and see how well I do. I will be posting updates here but instead, on the script frenzy website located here. Ill be working on more than one script because frankly, my mind goes all over the place when I write. I’m hoping to (possibly) release one here, as I don’t plan on shooting it. Wish me luck.

The Prop Room

This past week, I had the fortunate chance to go visit a prop room to assist my friend Primo with a photo shoot he was working on. We went to the Hand Prop Room, out in LA. While we were there just to pick up a bear trap and shackles (not going to explain it), we just got lost in their warehouse, and it was wonderful. Floor to ceiling, there were all sorts and kinds of toys, gadgets, even simple housewares. We wandered around, looking at the selection of all these kinds of things with a sense of wonder. The best part came at the back of the warehouse- a closed off room for all of their prop guns. Primo and I just peeked inside in wonderment, seeing all of the random things they had there.



As we looked in, a man working there greeted us. With our mouths agape, Primo commented, “This is amazing.” The man shrugged his shoulders as he calmly unloaded the weapon in front of him, the click of the bolt being pulled back. “Eh, you get used to it” he said in a nonchalant manner. All we could do is sit there to his reaction. So many times, we encounter amazing things in our lives, things we consider normal, but to others, it may be something out of this world. We take things for granted, even if it’s a wall of fake munitions.

The Rose Parade

I’ve lived in the city of Pasadena ever since I moved here, back in 1994. Every year since then, I’ve seen every last one of the Rose Parades in person. It’s one thing to see the whole thing on television, but even today, HDTV doesn’t do justice to the pure beauty of the craftsmanship of the floats. It’s become tradition- no matter what, I’ll go see the parade, even if I had partied with friends to the wee hours of the morning the night before. I’ll be there with my family. But this year held a new challenge- with the parade being held on January 2nd instead of the 1st, my family didn’t have anyone willing to camp out for our spots on Colorado Boulevard (for example, my sister and her friends did it one year, and another year other families we share the spot with did the duty another year). My mother would have to do it alone. I couldn’t bring myself to leave an almost AARP-qualifying family member (I can totally make this joke here, because even after telling her the URL to my blog, my mom can’t be bothered to check it out. Mom, if you figured it out now, I totally had to do it. You know I had to.) out on the street overnight. I volunteered myself to spare her the pain. Sleeping out for the Rose Parade. #roseparade #newyears #socoldSo after waking up on January 1st to work at seven motherfuckingohgodthisisgoingtokillme in the morning, I proceeded to go home, nap, and drive out to the boulevard in the early evening to bundle up and sit out with my mother. There’s something to be said about the whole experience, though. The yearly tradition for those out on the street for the parade is to chuck marshmallows and tortillas covered in shaving cream at those cars brave enough to drive on the street. I sat there, in the california cold, just waiting, watching the festivities countinue ahead of me. Thankfully, I had my iPad, so I had a deluge of entertainment waiting for me. Those sitting in the reserved spot next to me threw tortilla after tortilla at cars, who retaliated with silly string (and in some cases) water balloons, which, more than once, almost hit me. I simply avoided the projectiles, and watched the videos I had loaded up in anticipation of the evening. A hidden air mattress underneath me provided comfort for me once I got ready for bed. I hid my iPad under my shirt and jacket, and slept on my stomach so no one could take it from me (my fat ass being the best source of protection for it.). I was surrounded by chairs for the next morning, a few anemities scattered across a little plot I had called my own for the rest of my family and assorted friends to join me at the next morning. I finally fell asleep around 2:30-3 am in the morning, the sounds of blaring horns and loud talking neighbors blaring in my ears even then. I woke up the next morning at seven in the morning, by my mother, who awoke me with her laughter and holding her iPhone to my face, taking pictures of me drooling in my sleep. I begrudgingly woke up for the parade (wiping the drool off), only to fall asleep multiple times throughout it, nodding off random times even as marching parades blasted music past me. At my point in the parade line is roughly about 2/3rds complete, so everyone marching already has a look of fatigue upon their faces (the spot where the television cameras are is right at the beginning, so everyone still looks cheerful there). My mother proceeds to troll them every year, screaming out “YOU STILL HAVE ELEVEN MILES TO GO!” (not really), and then proceeding to talk to someone on a horse riding on the pararde on how wonderful the movie *War Horse┬áis (honestly, I could go into a whole book on how my mother’s madness shaped my own. It would have to be an epic that would be longer than the Lord of the Rings to explain). It’s an experience, time and time again, to see the handiwork of the hundreds of volunteers who make the floats. I reiterate-HDTV doesn’t do these floats justice at all– to see them up close and personal is some sort of magic for me still, 18 years later. Will I sleep outside again? For the experience?

Waking up on the blvd

Nnnnnnnnnope. I’m good, thank you.

Revisiting the Library

I went back to my old job a week or so ago. I was once a proud librarian/librarymans, working basically weekends at this job that offered me my first real experience at a position I sought myself (I was promoted from page to library clerk during my stay there). It was the first time I dealt with the public, dealing with problem patrons and the library fines they incurred over time. It’s been about 18 months since I had the job. I had stayed away for being bitter for being laid off. There were a lot of things I didn’t agree with, especially in upper management. I had plans to lash out at them, but with some time quietly gave me the chance to ponder the choice and decide against it. Visiting my old job. Former librarian.So on my day off, running errands had me passing by my previous job. I went in and visited the library and my former coworkers. There were previous visits, sure, but this day, I spent a considerable time talking to people and observing my former workplace in a different light- from a workplace to a patron. And its as if nothing has changed. Well sure, it’s only been about 18 months, but I had expected to see something… more to be changed since I was laid off. It’s as if it lived in a snapshot of time, and I was simply revisiting the snapshot, looking into it as if I were Alice peering into the looking mirror.. It felt like I had been laid off only a few days beforehand. It felt eerie, in a sense, to see the regulars still visiting the library, the same people picking up books, reading magazines, or using the computers there. As if nothing happened recently. Children I remember seeing had grown older- but the same patrons still were there, greeting me as if nothing had happened. I went back to visit a chapter of my life that never changed, or if it had, I couldn’t see it my brief time visiting there. And I still don’t know how i feel about it, to be honest. It’s frustrating to see what was a huge part of my life stagnating, but at the same time, almost welcoming to see it never change. I went through the stacks I used to organize as a page, getting a sudden urge to organize a western book that had been placed in the fiction section. I ultimately did, out of courtesy, but it was ultimately my own mind reverting to a much quieter time in my life. In the end, visiting the library so far out gave me closure. I came into work the next day eager to tackle the day’s challenges, knowing that in some way, the previous chapter of my life will always be there in one form or another. Because, in the end, it’s rare for changes to occur in such a sleepy little place.

Webcomic Appearances

I failed to mention an appearance I had in a webomic recently! An old friend of mine, Robin Meyer put me in her web comic, Real Life Fiction. This used to be a regular thing for me- I appeared in a variety of friend’s webcomics in all sorts and forms. I suppose when I get my own personal site completely up and running, one of the pages will have to be appearances I made in comics. (Do check out Real Life Fiction- Robin is insane, but in an amusing, mostly non offensive way). I’m working on a couple of long form blog posts, including one about my thoughts on the Mass Effect movie. I’ve had just a random assortment of things thrown my way as of late, but with some great news (I became full-time at my job! hooray!) I might finally be able to structure my time a bit more effectively to get things like my own site and writing (both screenwriting and blogging) done effectively. Last but not least, I’d like to share a picture I have- my grandmother playing with my new ipad. She’s had two chances to use it so far- the first, she was beside herself laughing at Bebot, and the second, Garage Band. Getting used to the touch interface has been the biggest difficulty for her, but she’s been enjoying it so far.

My grandma playing with my iPad happily.

Just seeing her smile like that made it worth it.

writewritewrite

I’ve been busy writing. My interest for a while now is to go into the filmmaking industry, in one form or the other. I’ve been writing scripts, in particular, since the sixth grade, so if anything, my hope is to become a screenwriter. It’s been something almost ingrained into my being- I can’t go a day without writing, without trying to come up with a character or how to try and compose a scenario or an objective for the next scene I write. Even as I work at my job, I think of what horrible thing could befall a character in one script (I’ve been quietly working on a zombie comedy series for a while now), or how to end another as the characters sacrifice themselves. I’ve read so many books on how to write said screenplays. Hell, even in my freshman year of high school, I even had a teacher who was a screenwriter- he kept piles and piles of film scripts in the back of the classroom. I would sit in the back of the class and voraciously study all of them, quite happily, in fact (most of the time not paying attention to the class). I read the screenplay for Total Recall, front to back, before I even saw the movie there. I studied the styles of the writing, how characters were defined (or not). And thankfully, he pushed me to continue this passion. Instead of playing games, or getting other work done, all I can think sometimes is to write a story, to get an idea out of my head and onto paper so it could * just stop bothering me.* I’ll write during lunch, during breaks, hell, I’ll write before going to bed, just so I have something new to think about before I nod off to sleep. At the moment, I have two weapons of choice:

Celtx for shorter scripts and works I’ve been slaving on. I’ve all but given up on Final Draft, and to have a full featured, free app is nothing short of a lifesaver. Plus, it’s multiplatform, so I’m able to run it on my Ubuntu-based netbook. Scrivner hands down, this is one of the best applications for writing anything, really. Novels, screenplays, you name it. Being able to create one file where all my research, all my notes, hell, even all my scraps of unused dialogue or ideas are kept nice and tidy in one file. My only wish for this program would be for the developers to come out with a version for the iPad, so I have no excuse to ditch the netbook and switch to an ipad for my writing needs. I write multiple projects at once, often of different genres and styles. I’ve even written close to five or six full length films during high school, but my paranoia gets the best of me. I’m always worried about what other people would do to the script, how someone could judge me on it, how I will be seen for the actions and the ideas i put forth on paper. Sometimes i can go bizarre, sometimes I can go a bit dark, and there’s always that nagging voice in the back of my head as i write them: What will people think of me for this? I don’t know how to get over it- for now, I try to write more scripts, and in time, let more and more friends read them for feedback. Who knows, living in Lost Angeles, I might get that break- that one person I run into who (with connections) could get my script read by the right people, and people could (maybe) think of me and my work (and not have me worry about how it would reflect on me). And maybe, just maybe make my dreams come true. In the meantime, I’ll keep writing, keep perfecting my stories, revision after revision. After revision. After revision.

The Last of LaFonda

So I got attached to my car.

Who wouldn’t, after all the weird adventures I’ve had with it?

LaFonda was a 1992 Chrystler LeBaron- or as I liked to call it, “The Pimpmobile past it’s prime”. With it’s roomy red velvet interior, it looked like it tried to capture the same style of those giant boats of yesteryear. Either that, or I was driving a Russian tank with the turret removed. (I can’t take credit for that joke- I got it with some inspiration to a Simpsons episode where Homer’s pink sedan was described as being built out of old Russian tanks. With the way my car handled, it may have been true in my case.).

And I had so many memories with said car. I recall driving down the 101 freeway with five other friends, bobbing our heads up and down in unison to Haddaway’s “What is love”– so much so that the suspension jumped up and down roughly, making me swerve slightly to compensate for the abuse I put on the live axel suspension. It was a ridiculous thing to do, but as it was the first time i had people in the car, and as such, it became my first big memory with the car.

And of course, who could forget my incident with the Joystiq crew. It was my choice story to tell others what had happened with the car. Every E3 since then, I’ve told the events time and time again to members of the industry- most of which still don’t believe me (this past year, I’ve told the story about five separate times, each person still looking incredulous as I describe the events. Best thing is- only a select few still know who it was who had thrown up in the car).

LaFonda was always a choice car to be pulled over- with the peeling paint and well- overall shadiness- I have been pulled over more than once in the car in some more, quiet, suburban neighborhoods. In one occasion, I made it a point to ask the police officer if, well- my car looked shady. All he could do was to smirk nervously before wishing me a good rest of my evening.

But the good times had come to an end. The car had blown its gasket (literally). With a failing transmission, I was quoted at roughly $2.5k to fix everything. And even then, it was an old car. Parts were hard to come by. I couldn’t even look my mechanic directly when I asked him if it was worth it. And when I could, all he could do was to shrug his shoulders. It was a clear enough message.

I donated the car to charity- it was my only choice at that time, donating it to to the Convalescent Aid Society, a nonprofit that had supported my grandma by lending her a wheelchair when she first broke her hip (it’s a fantastic organization and honestly, it’s the least I can do for helping her). By the way, if you think of getting rid of an old car, donate it to charity- I found a nonprofit by the name of Cars4Causes that made the process as simple as it can really be.

When the tow truck slowly pulled away from the mechanic’s shop, all I could do was to record video of the last time I would see her.

Call me nostalgic. Call me a fool. But being attached to a car that treated me right- gave me so many memories- who wouldn’t be that… despondent?