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.

Day of the Dead.

Today is (well, earlier today) was the celebration of Day of the Dead.I wrote about Day of the Dead before- about the celebration and the lack therof in my life. I wanted to honor those who had passed away to connect to my own lost roots as a Mexican-American- or at least, to my own heritage as a Mexican. I hadn’t celebrated last year. To be honest, I totally forgot about the celebration, the festivities. I had nothing to celebrate, or really- no one to celebrate. This year, I had someone to celebrate about. Taylor. Ofrenda 2010On Halloween, I set up the ofrenda– or altar to the dead. my sister bought some virgin Mary candles from the supermarket, and I set them up along the tabletop, along with other smaller items traditional to the national holiday: A picture of Taylor (along with some relatives and other people). Some skulls and festive skeletons to celebrate the occasion. An offering- Taylor’s favorite beer, Natural Light. I’m oddly proud of this makeshift ofrenda. Maybe next year, I’ll have to get a couple of those sugar skulls to make it truly authentic. Or perhaps I’ll have to put a little more effort into it- who knows. Teresa and I both went to Taylor’s grave to lay down the flowers early this morning, laying down the (again, traditional) marigolds upon the graves. Even then, early in the morning, we drove by past rows and rows of graves, some littered with the same marigolds. Just goes to show the tradition is still strong in the US.

goodbye taylor

*My friend Taylor’s funeral was today. I prepared a speech to say at his funeral, but with a lack of time, I was unable to do so. Here’s the speech in its entirety so I may share my final thoughts of a dear, dear friend. * For the past week, I racked my brain for hours on end trying to find a word that could sum up Taylor and what he meant to me. I spoke to friends who were also shocked at his passing, recalling our times with him, stories of his great character and his importance to us. I think I finally came up with the proper word- Taylor Thomas Nudo was nothing short of fantastical. Ever since I met Taylor in the sixth grade, I always knew he was unique- from the way he befriended so many different people or the way he spent an entire day at school asking everyone if he had a chin. He was my inspiration to become a writer, pushing me since middle school to continue writing scripts, even after we went to separate schools. My greatest joy was to finish a script, rushing to read it to him in person or over the phone- his laughter being the biggest satisfaction and approval I could receive from anyone. What I wouldn’t give to just hear his cackle of laughter, to hear him say “That’s AWESOME!” over the phone, just one last time. He was larger than life, one of those charismatic individuals that no one could speak ill of. Yesterday, I heard Tara describe Taylor perfectly- he was a ball of energy. Every time I was able to see him perform live someplace, Taylor’s energy never changed, his hair flying all over the place as his fingers moved across the neck of the guitar. He was that ball of energy on and off the stage, always flashing that impish smile wherever he went. In writing this speech, I researched eulogies on the internet, scouring for examples and ideas to make this speech memorable, to find the best quotation or passage that could encapsulate Taylor. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any that could do him justice. All I can leave all of you with are my memories of him. A classmate who supported me through the worst times of my life. A musician who I believed was a guitar god. My greatest inspiration as a writer. One of my dearest friends. I’ll miss you, Tay. You were nothing short of fantastical.

Rest in Peace, Taylor.

Yesterday, a dear friend passed away. Taylor Nudo was an old friend- one you regret not talking to if you lose contact with. We had known each other for years now, ever since we were in sixth grade. He was a motherfucking guitarist, through and through. He had the energy and talent on the guitar to just send electricity through the room as he performed. Hair always shaggy that flew all over the place as he bounced his head about. And I’ll miss him. He always managed to bring a smile to my face. no matter what. The shock has yet to pass- i still think about when the last time I spoke to him, and I regret not talking to him before he died. Those “what if” moments fleeting through your head trying to think of what you had done wrong before his passing, and realizing the mistake to even try and delve into every scenario possible. One of my favorite memories was when I took him and two other friends to go see the Video Games Live concert at the Hollywood Bowl. As we were both lifelong gamers, the whole event was amazing for us to experience- one of those surreal moments. Taylor’s face lighting up every time he started to recognize a song was probably the best memories I had of him at that concert. He would become animated, pumping his fists into the air and screaming as the music came to a crescendo. When music from Final Fantasy came on, cosplayers dressed up as iconic characters started to come onstage- to everyone’s delight. Taylor had a different reaction as soon as two of the most -well, arguably, most iconic characters- came on stage- Cloud and Sephiroth, from Final Fantasy 7. He started screaming at them to fight, throwing his arms into the air again and demanding a battle between the two, even after the music had ended. “SHANK HIM, CLOUD! HE’S RIGHT NEXT TO YOU!” Taylor bellowed, demanding the cosplayers to fight. And we were close enough that they heard him, and I could see them shifting around nervously as he continued to yell out demands for a fight to occur. He was larger than life. Through and through. The penultimate moment of the night came at the very last song- the theme song to Halo. Everyone cheered for the song, but Taylor cheered for an entirely different reason- guitarist Steve Vai came onto the stage to play with this guitar that could only be described as science fiction- it had light up struts that seemed to glow as Vai played- almost elegantly so. As Vai played the guitar riff heard during the soundtrack, Taylor went batshit crazy. He lit up and cheered like no other as Vai played his riff. He was grinning ear to ear as Steve Vai (and the concert finished.) but Taylor turned to me and the party with an announcement. “I’m going to go steal Steve Vai’s guitar.” Everyone in the party went silent as we looked at taylor and realized- * he was stone dead serious*. “Taylor, no.” We all said, calmly. He seemed adamant to back down from his position, glancing at the guitar less than thirty feet away from us. I finally had the chance to bring him down. “Taylor. Look at you, you’re a skinny white guy. Those-” I motioned to the guards on either side of the stage “are big security guards. They’d have no trouble taking care of you.” Taylor finally gave up, slumping his shoulders. “Fiiineee”. For a good moment, I really did believe that I would have to speak to his family on why he rushed the stage at the Hollywood Bowl for just a guitar. “It wasn’t just a guitar- it was Steve Vai’s sci-fi guitar.” I would have to explain to them. I’m going to miss you. Take care, Taylor.