In Praise of Fountain

I’m getting back to screenwriting.

It’s mostly short film or small fun sketches I’ve been meaning to do more of, but I’m no longer writing screenplays in any of the traditional applications.

When one considers the places you would usually see the screenwriter work in, one would probably name Final Draft, Movie Magic Screenwriter or Celtx. For me, it’s a rather new (comparatively) writing language named Fountain.

I started looking into alternatives other than my previous writing app, Celtx. I realized that if Celtx were to stop development, I’d have no way to really take the screenplays out to another app. None of the other apps out there really have very good exporting tools, outside of taking them to PDFs. I was quite interested, however, when hearing about the Fountain writing language as an almost perfect solution to the problem.

So a screenplay that would look like this on my iPhone:

Fountain Before

Would turn out looking something like this:

Fountain After

Once I got the hang of writing with it, I was estatic. I took some time and even converted all my Celtx based projects (mostly old projects, but I still wanted to have them in the new format) over to Fountain using an application named Trelby (Windows/Linux only). There’s even an app that can help me convert it to Final Draft, if need be- Highland (Mac only). Hell, even the phenomenal Scrivener has support for Fountain.

So for now, I will say that I am very, very happy in the new workflow- it’s making writing so much easier. The Fountain files are just plain text files, so any program that can handle text files automatically becomes a screenwriting program for me.

And as a nerdy, nerdy screenwriter- I love it.

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 Update #1

I’ve taken a break from writing to see how many pages I’d written this week so far for Script Frenzy. So far it seems a pretty 41 pages.

danielorta | Script Frenzy Update #1

I’m actually really impressed I didn’t think I was able to write so much in the course of the week, even with taking two days off from doing it. Regularly, I planned to write only 4 pages a day, but averaging 6 is completely unexpected for me. I’m almost to the halfway point already. It helps that I’m working on multiple scripts- if I get stuck on one, I quickly move on to another.

Celtx has also been my savior through this. The syncing service has been a lifesaver while moving scripts between my Mac, iPad, and iPhone. I’m now aiming to go to 120 pages by the end of April. Back to writing, I guess.

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.

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.

Imaginary solutions to Imaginary problems

I’ve been working heavily on writing a new series as of late, a revamped concept on a script I had thought up of while I was still in high school, carefully writing out the characters, rethinking major plot points, and trying to find some sort of reasoning behind the motivations for each and every one of the characters in the film. Unfortunately, it involves one of my biggest fears.

Zombies. Yeah, the living undead. I’m fucking SCARED of them. It doesn’t help that some of my best friends are absolutely fascinated with the subject. More often than not, regular conversation turns to the survival of the living during an outbreak. An oddly bleak subject, naturally, but it’s given me quite an amount of fodder to write with. Writing these series has proven to be the most stressful, crazy thing i’ve written in quite some time, and gives me nightmares. Most the nightmares involve the characters I wrote myself (with some scenarios I later incorporated into the series, thank you), but a lot of the times, I would find myself scared of the dark. I’ve started to stay up late to the wee hours of the morning, something I had never even considered on doing until about a year and a half ago. The relative calm that comes over my neighborhood (and family members sleeping) can be rather soothing, if you can block out the squaking parrots and the ghettobirds patrolling for the latest felon to wander only blocks from where i live. This opportunity has a large caveat- that same lull also brings forth the fear in the imaginary within myself. I fear sometimes for the imaginary things I had created in my mind- the zombies that once attacked a character in a script now has a slight chance to exist in reality, waiting for me on the other side of my door. It was a silly fear, but enough to give me certain amounts of stress when writing, and that stress would in turn affect said writing, to the point that it would be… unnerving. BB Gun.Talking to Primo’s brother, Andrew, I relayed to him my fears in such a case. He smiled, and gave me a solution- “come up with an imaginary weapon”. I was puzzled, but he explained it rather well- if you fear the imaginary, come with an imaginary weapon to fight it. As such, I’ve been carrying around a cheap little BB gun pistol, a PP9 replica that’s probably 1/2 (or even less!) scale replica of the actual gun. I know it isn’t real- i left the orange tip on there for safety, but it’s there to fight off the imaginary, to reinforce my own mind that I am the one in control. Oddly enough, it works. When I walk around my house, I’ll carry the gun in the pocket of my robe or my jeans, or if I have a particularly heavy scare, I’ll walk around the house toting the small pistol in my hand. The zombie nightmares have gone down to a minimum, thanks to this cheap gun i bought off of amazon.com (it was .99 cents, if i recall correctly. It was something I bought off of the site that was a simple joke). An odd way to explore the power of the mind and imagination, but there you go.

Artist’s Block

Writer’s block is common for many artists- i know of plenty of webcomic artists that struggled to get work done only to feel that their art or their current output is less than satisfactory. To simply call it writer’s block is rather unfair- I rather like to refer to it as artist’s block. Any artist can get it, whenether it may be something so simple as not being able to draw a simple sketch or a musician unable to get the concepts in their head played back upon their musical instrument of choice. As of late, I find that my artist block affects me in cycles. I basically dabble in multiple fields, including writing, filmmaking, minor photography, and website design. When one of the fields feels stifling to me, the other flourishes. As of late, I can’t seem to get any work in my website design field done AT All, but I feel much more inspired in the case of writing- I’m getting scripts done with much more fluidity than before. I’ve gone back and looked at older scripts that I had done on old Word macro templates and pulling out the funny parts that I had written back in middle school/beginning of high school and seeing what I can do with all of it. There’s some small funny bits i found, but most of it was simply sophomoric humor that would barely fit in say, the Disaster or Date Movies. (I wonder if I could ever combine them all and sell it as a bad parody movie. Somehow, those always make money.) I had been using the popular Final Draft program for my mac for quite a while, and I had found it to be rather buggy and well… antiqudated. C’mon, a decent program on the mac has to at least use the mac’s own native spellcheck program, right? Nope! Final Draft uses it’s own spellcheck program, and that has proved to be inadiquate for my needs (the program doesn’t even bring up its own spellcheck, persistently frustrating me), . I made the recent move to Celtx, an open source pre-production suite, and that has made the difference between night and day. While it doesn’t have the technical complexicty that Final Draft holds, the program does do a good job of tying in the script to other parts of the pre-production process. It’s rather simple to tie a character sheet together with whatever props I may need to use, what parts of the script is being shot on a certain day, and other aspects of the post production. Best thing, it’s fucking free (fucking just adds the fact that a program of this level should have some sort of price attatched to it, and being free just sweetens the deal for me). I can’t complain with that now, can i? There is a download serivce available to make the program availalbe to multiple people, but if it had some sort of syncing system in place (with wikipedia-esque editing service) i would be golden. But anyways, back to the original topic. I feel that some of the parts of my artistic enviroment feels restrained at times, while in other times, other parts of my artsy fartsy brain seems to flourish with great gusto. My techy part and my writer parts seems to have been much more proactive, while trying to do any sort of graphic design work or anything along those lines (website design) seems to have gone dead. I’ve tried FORCING myself to get work in those fields done, but they end up looking subpar and crappy. Thankfully, I need more scripts done, so i’m not feeling that far behind, I’m just afraid i’m going to have to play catchup to hit my own personal deadlines. Well, back to work. Maybe.