Monday, October 15, 2018

5 Things I Learned Writing This Movie, #3

I'm back! I'm doing a series of blogs in honor of my movie 5 Weddings, that comes out this month worldwide, on October 26. I'm writing about 5 Things I Learned Writing This Movie. So onto:

#3 - Getting a movie produced can take a long, long time. I wrote the first draft of this movie about 13 years ago. Yes, 13 years! So what's a writer to do to not drive the producer crazy while you wait? You get started on another script, and then another, and then another, and then another. Well, you get the idea. Any script you write, you put in the past. And if it gets produced, great! And if not, you've got so many other scripts you won't care. And when it does get produced, like 5 Weddings did, then yay that's just icing on the cake. Even when the producer Namrata Singh Gujral finally told me about it two years ago that we were going to bring on Andy Glickman, a good friend of mine and talented writer to get the script ready for production, I almost didn't believe her! It had been sitting around for so long I really thought it would never get produced! But true to her word, one day, it was in production! I even have a blog post about being on the set for one of the days. And then next thing I knew, it premiered at Cannes! And now here we are, about to see the movie released worldwide. So, the moral of the story, is don't sit around waiting for a script to get produced, always move on to the next project. 

Okay, check in next for #4! 

Monday, October 8, 2018

5 Things I Learned Writing This Movie, #2

So I started a series of blog posts, 5 Things I Learned Writing This Movie, to honor my first produced movie that comes out this month, 5 Weddings. So, today let's hear it from:

#2 - When you write a script, you may think that what you have, is what it will always be. But for us, that was definitely not the case. And maybe not the case on many scripts. So what I learned is that when you write a script, it will change, and change, and change, and then change some more. At first when we started this script, it was a straight-up comedy. But after I finished the script in two weeks, the producer decided to add some dramatic elements. I don't want to say what they are as to not give anything away about the movie. I do think they add a lot of depth to the story, so I'm glad she suggested it. It ends up being the B story, in fact. But that meant there would be a lot of rewrites. So it went from a comedy to a dramedy. I also wrote the first script about 13 years ago, so that means a lot of rewrites over those 13 years. So as a writer you just have to be fine with changes. Because changes are what makes a better story. I think the basic elements are there from the start, but we added a lot over that time frame. So what I'm saying is, don't be afraid to let your script evolve! That's what scripts are made for.

Okay, be sure to be on the lookout for #3 tip next time!


Monday, October 1, 2018

In honor of 5 Weddings: 5 Things I Learned Writing This Movie

So my first produced movie comes out this month, October 26, to be exact, called 5 Weddings. So in honor of that, I have decided to write posts called, 5 Things I Learned Writing This Movie. Get it? 5 Weddings? 5 things I learned? So drum roll, here is:

#1 - That I can write a script in 2 weeks! Before I wrote this script, I had never written a script that quickly. But when the producer told me about the project, she said can you write this in two weeks? And of course, I said yes, even though I'd never done it before. Because if someone has a deadline, then I meet it. I looked at it as a challenge that I would happily take on.

So I set myself a schedule in order to meet that deadline. I remember I had the weekend to write the whole outline and character studies. Then I had to pound out 5 pages every day, no matter what, during the week, for both weeks. And then on weekends, I wrote about 10 pages. For anyone who's written 5-10 pages in a day, it can be pretty exhausting. And doing that for two weeks? I was spent. Plus I had a one-year-old child at the time, so wasn't getting much sleep on top of it and didn't have a nanny so was really spending all day with my child and then writing at night. But anything can be done for two weeks. I remember being spent mentally at the end, but you know what? I had a complete script done in two weeks. And now, I know, if it needs to be done, I can do it.

So check back next time for What I Learned Writing This Movie #2.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Nothing Shines Like Dirt - My guest spot on a podcast

So a couple weeks back I recorded a podcast for Nothing Shines Like Dirt. The two gals that interviewed me were Elise Sievert and Lesley Shannon, both do everything in the biz it seems: Actresses, producers, directors, you name it! They're as adorable in person as they are in their photos and made me feel comfortable right away. I was a tad nervous before we started speaking even though this is the 2nd podcast I've done so far. Luckily, each one seems to get easier to do. What I will say about speaking with Elise and Lesley is they were easy to chat with and so sweet that I felt like I'd known them for ages. And what I loved about how they did the podcast is they set me up in front of the microphone and we started talking about normal things and before I knew it we were actually in the middle of the interview/podcast. Eventually, I thought, hey, I think we've started! It's an awesome way to do a podcast, if I do say so myself. They interviewed me about my upcoming movie, 5 Weddings, that opens worldwide October 26, plus a whole other bunch of things about my writing path and writing advice. So without further ado, here is a selfie we took after the podcast and the podcast itself. Hope you enjoy!







Website: https://www.nothingshineslikedirt.com/podcast-guests-1/denisecruz-castino

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Energizer...writer?

Friends always tell me I have more energy than anyone they know because I do so much and that includes always writing. It doesn't feel like I have a lot of energy. I'm always tired. Writer friends tell me I'm the most prolific. I wish I had even more time to write! But I think what they're noticing is that I have this underneath energy that propels me to write no matter what is going on in my life. See, when you focus on what you haven't accomplished in your writing career, that's draining and that will pull you down, causing you to not have enough energy to write after a long day of work. But if you focus on how much you love writing, you'll be energized by the fact you get to do what you love. Plus, if you focus on just always sitting down to write, it doesn't matter if you have the energy or not.

I also don't worry how much time I have to write. Like I've said before, sometimes it's just squeezing in an hour, 30 minutes, whatever time I have. If I'm in the car driving long distances and my husband is driving, I bring my computer and write in the car. There are so many ways to squeeze in writing. Sure there were days when I used to have 4 hours, 5, or 6 hours. Those don't seem to be the norm right now.

Are there days when I'm just too tired to write? Sure, but that's not my usual. I write almost every single day. So even an hour here and there, by the end of the year can add up to several scripts!

Do some friends have more time to write than I do? Sure. A writer friend just told me she has to get 30 pages written in a couple days. Would I have the time to do that this week? Hell no. Am I jealous? Hell yes! But so what. We all have our own writing path. So don't compare yourself to any other writers. Just write! Find the time. Even if you're tired. I promise you'll never regret it.


Friday, September 7, 2018

Writing while mom

So recently I met a new writer. She's also a mom. We chatted about how we fit in writing and life and being a mom, being a wife. It's hard to juggle it all. There were times where she was a full-time producer and then had little time for writing let alone enough time to do things with her kids she wanted. So she's decided to put off on the producer jobs. But I can relate, because I have a lot of freelance advertising work right now, but then squeezing in my screenwriting isn't easy. Which is why I rarely find time to write my blog. There's only so many hours in the day. So what's a writing mom to do?

I'm hardly saying dads who work don't feel the same way. So if you're a writing working dad, please don't feel dissed. And I'd love to hear your challenges too. But for some reason, it seems like even the extra mom stuff falls on us. Or maybe it's just that we moms let it fall our way and we don't release it to the dad. Stuff like filling out the school papers, doing the back-to-school nights, parent-teacher conferences. As the years go on, I have tried to release some of that to my husband. The more I send his way, the more he seems fine with doing it. Maybe sometimes all it takes is asking them to do it.

Since I rarely have time to read, I'm listening to an awesome audible book right now, Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. I'm enjoying it so much that I will surely mention her in other posts. But she was a busy working mom and an author. And she says how women guilt other women by judging what kind of mom they are. Of course when I hear her say that, in my mind I think, how awful, who does that? But then she goes on to say, "And if you miss your child's school play, it doesn't make you less of a good mom." But inside I'm thinking, yes it does! How awful is that? I went straight to, "No way would I ever do that." Okay, I'm not judging another mom, but I am judging myself harshly. And maybe driving myself crazy trying to meet impossible mom goals!

So what's a working writing mom to do? Of course, we have to make our writing a priority or we'd never get any done. But with so many priorities how do we choose which one comes first? Grocery shopping? Feeding the kids? Taking them to school? Writing? Like I said, I've given some important chores over to my husband. But even then, there still is very little time to find for writing.

I definitely have learned not to get upset if the house isn't perfectly clean, mostly clean has become more the norm. Clean laundry? Okay, so it's on the couch and not put away a few days before it gets put away. Home-cooked meals that don't have much variety from week-to-week? Okay, but at least we're eating together and it's home-cooked. I'm not sure what your level of doing the best you can is, but I really think as a working writing mom or dad, we're all doing the best we can. And before we know it, our kids will be out of the house. But our writing will always be our passion and if we're lucky, a full-time career.

So maybe all we can do is find the time when we have it. Squeeze in an hour a day, 15 minutes on other days, three hours on a weekend if the kids are at a friend's if we're lucky. And before we know it, it all adds up. But making ourselves feel guilty over what we're not doing as parents? Who really has time for that? I'm definitely trying to learn to forgive myself when I can't do it all. I mean, is anyone really doing it all? I bet not.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Do you have a flute man in your life?

Okay, let me explain. Years and years ago when I was having one of those "OMG I shouldn't be writing!" moments in my life, I was in Bali, because aren't all writers? Okay, maybe not. But I was traveling around the world for a year, and I almost considered not traveling because I was so afraid any time away from writing meant my career would take that much longer. Now I'm so glad I went and didn't miss out on that trip. Because I've learned since that every life experience can only help our writing. But that's another post! So back to the flute man. So I'm in Bali and my travel friend isn't feeling good so she stays back at our hotel. So I go out clubbing with two nice guys I met at the beach that day.

So we hit this happening club where everyone was no older than 30, most probably closer to 20. And I see this older man, maybe in his 60's, with a long gray ponytail, and he's in tye-die like a lot of the travelers and he's dancing all by himself having the time of his life. Most of the people were avoiding him, kind of chuckling at this older dude at this club. And I say to my friends, that guy is so happy, I'm going to dance with him. Because when I see anyone living their life the way that's true to their own purpose and is full of joy, I want to know them.

So I start dancing with him. And he looks at me and goes, "You're going through something." That went right through me! Because just that day on the Bali beaches I was telling my friends, "I don't know, maybe this writing thing won't happen, maybe I need to quit." And I was really doubting if this path was right for me. Because all us writers doubt if we should be writing at some point, maybe many points! And I'm dancing with this older dude and he tells me just what I was thinking that day! OMG! It was a sign! And he continues, "You need to believe in yourself. You're going to succeed. Follow your dreams." Wow! The universe sent me a sign! Okay, maybe you don't believe in that stuff, maybe you do. But guess what, I do. And that day, I definitely did. Becuase no way could this man have known what I was saying to my friends on the beach that day. And no one at the club wanted anything to do with this man, but I did, I was drawn to his energy. And because I trusted my instincts about him, he told me the message I needed to hear. And every time over the years I've doubted myself, I remember the flute man. He keeps me going on my path to follow my dreams and believe in myself when I don't know if I can any longer.

So maybe you don't have a flute man. But maybe yours is a teacher who believes in you, or a spouse, or a best friend, or a contest you advance in or a wind that blows a certain way. Whatever it is, find the thing that keeps you on your path. Because it's your dream! And only you know why you were meant to be a writer. And you have to tell your story. And now here I am and my first movie got made and is coming out in the theaters this year and is premiering at Cannes! If I stopped believing in myself all those years ago, that wouldn't be happening! I would have stopped before the thing I wanted ever happened! So keep at it!

If you haven't found your flute man, then I'm hoping this post can be that for you. Believe in yourself and your dream! And keep writing.