Monday, May 1, 2017

Being on Pilar Alessandra's podcast

So you might have already listened to me on Pilar Alessandra's podcast. If not, please feel free to. Here's the link, we're in episode 502,

A bit about the experience. First of all, I was nervous as heck leading up to it. So then I meet the other two writers right before we start taping, Aydrea Walden, and Mike Martin, and they're just as nervous as I am! So that's a relief knowing it's not just me!

Then, this is my second time to meet Pilar, and she was just as sweet as the first time. If you listen to her podcast, you already know she's super nice and really friendly. And guess what? Every time I meet her, she's like that in person! I really hope at some point in her life she gets mad at something or someone, but I have this awful feeling that just never happens and she's just the sweetest person on this planet!

So, as Pilar says in the podcast, she had some difficulty getting the recording to actually record. So it took about half an hour for her to figure it out. Poor thing was worried she'd have to reschedule. It took us a lot to find a day that worked for all of us, so that wouldn't be easy. Meanwhile, Mike and Aydrea and I started chatting about our backgrounds and what kind of things we had written. As Pilar mentions in the podcast, we easily made friends. They were super nice and I think when you meet other writers that are working towards making their dreams turn into reality, you're really just excited to meet other writers in the same boat and hear their stories. I don't know if it's always like that, but it was for us.

Finally Pilar got the recording to actually record, and we were off to start our podcast. We were still super nervous but all tried to act like, heck, no big deal! ha! It was! I got the feeling none of us were trying to talk over each other and be really respectful of what the others wanted to say so they could get in their info. Then before we knew it, it was over!

Every show, Pilar says this closing line, "And have a good writing week!" She looked at us to see if we wanted to join in with her to say that at the end of our show, and yes we did! I was really awesome to say that line! I'd been listening to hundreds of podcasts of hers at this point, and it was very cool to think that someday I might get to say that infamous line. And then, that day was finally here! So surreal. I know it's silly. It's not like it's like winning an Oscar or anything! haha But for me, it definitely was a moment.

So then we had to wait a couple weeks for the podcast to come out. Of course, while you wait, you think of all the things you could have said that might have been funnier. Or a great insight you missed out on saying. But oh well, that's the show everyone's going to hear. And so far, I've been getting really nice comments about it. So good! Phew! At least it's done! I've even had a writer friend listen to it on his own and realize, hey, my friend Denise is on Pilar's podcast! And he emailed to tell me he heard it. So that was kind of cool.

In the end, it was a great experience. Mike and Aydrea and I are keeping in touch and hope to meet up when we have time. But boy, writers are busy! haha

So here's the group. Everyone has the best smiles and look super nice. And that's because they were and are! If you listen to the podcast, let me know what you think!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

What kind of writers to ask for help from

So at some point in your career you might have friends that have agents or managers or know producers. And perhaps you're thinking, well, I need one or both or all of those, so surely I should ask my friend to refer me! But hold on there buckaroo! Just when you think it's time to ask a friend to help you out, there are a few things to consider.

First, did your friend JUST get this agent/manager/producer? If so, then put on those brakes. If they're at that point, then they're trying to establish a relationship themselves. And for you to ask them to help you is a bit like asking a pregnant mom what it's like to have a baby. It's too soon to ask! So let that relationship they have with their agent, etc percolate.

Then, if a friend has had this agent/manger/producer for quite some time, still ask yourself what kind of relationship they have with that person. When I first became a writer, I knew a really big producer. A writer I had in a writing group asked if I could get a script to them. I hadn't even gotten a script to this person! I was still working on the relationship we had and if even I felt comfortable asking this producer to read something of mine. So I surely couldn't ask him for a friend! That's just odd and it put me in a weird position with the writer. Don't do that to friends! If you're a good writer, I promise your friend will help you out. I surely would have helped this friend out if I had built up the relationship. But instead she was mad I didn't help her and we lost touch.

If you're certain your friend is in a good place with said agent, etc, and I'm sure they see you making your own efforts to make things happen in your writing career, your friend will offer to help. If you really don't see them offering, then yes, go ahead and ask. But even then, they could say no. Some people just aren't willing to take risks on other writers. And if that's the case, there will be other opportunities.

There was even a time when I had a friend who had several really big contacts. It was years before she offered to get one of my scripts to her big producer contact. When she finally did, it turned out the producer had a script like mine, so passed. I was hoping my friend would ask to get another script to her producer friend because this was a really big opportunity for me. She didn't ask though. It really bummed me out. But I put it behind me and knew if it was the right time or situation she would. Well guess what? Now years later I'm working on something with this friend that we're getting to her producer friend! If I had gotten mad that my friend didn't help me out, I surely would have lost that friendship.

So plant the seeds with your writing, work hard, and in time, those friends will help you. But sometimes it just takes patience. And lots of hard work.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The rewrite has happened!

So the writer and I took the notes that the Exec Producer gave us. We were able to turn a rewrite around in under a week. So sent that to the director who's also creating the show with us. He liked it. So now it's on to the Exec Producer. If he likes it, and if he thinks he can pitch this along with his other shows, then, he'll pitch it with us. So we're waiting. Again. Half of the writing process right? But it sure would be exciting to have this Exec Producer team up with us. He has lots of connections in this biz.

So what do I do in the meantime? Well, what I'll say to you too. Work on other things! Luckily I'm working on a new TV script outline and another script for a feature. So I have enough things to keep my mind off that script. It's definitely why you want to work on more than one project at a time. Because the more you work on, the more you can throw out into the world. So if one thing doesn't happen, then you have plenty more options. Hopefully! Well, that's at least the plan.

So, I'm back to my outline now. I hope you're keeping busy on all your project too!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sample scripts - always a good time to write more

I heard from a female actress/producer this weekend who needs a writer to help her and some friends who look like they'll be getting funding for a sitcom they're writing. From what I can tell they're more like comicedians and need a sitcom writer who gets the ins and outs of writing an entire sitcom, along with a series. They wanted to see samples that represented their idea to find the right writer.

As I was gathering samples to show I could write what would fit their show, I realized, I actually had a lot of samples with female comedy leads. Who knew! It's funny when you write piece after piece that eventually you actually have a lot of things that fit in the same category. I think because I wrote so many guy pieces at times, I didn't realize how many female pieces I really had.

So I sent them along to her and her partners and now I wait. But it just goes to show, keep writing. Because you never know when those things you're writing can actually turn into a gig!

Whenever I see a contest that asks for a certain sample piece, if I don't have it, I try to write it, especially if it's for a short film. It doesn't take much time to write something that if it doesn't win you the contest, could at least be a sample piece later on. So, compile those samples! You never know when you'll use them next.

And maybe, just maybe, you'll get hired from them. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Well that was a good meeting

So I've been creating a show with another writer I've been recently working with. I met him through my neighbor who was a director on a family sitcom. My friend said hey, you need to partner up with this guy who works as hard as you to become a full-time writer, see if you guys want to work together! So we met, we clicked, and thought, okay let's try to write together! We wrote, liked each others' style of writing, had fun working together - this team was working! We had different styles of approaching the writing, but like any good partnership, you allow the other writer to do what they need to, if in the end, you wind up with something good. And, we thought we just might have that!

So today, the director and writer met with their executive producer friend to get notes back from him. (I couldn't make it as I was on another gig). We had already heard that the exec prod. really liked it too! So we knew it would be at least a fun lunch, not painful with, "This sucks!" kind of lunch. So they got notes and they were all very positive and helpful. And now looks like he might be interested in partnering with us! So, he's going to let us know for sure in a week! We're all overjoyed. This is someone with lots of connections and really could make this happen. We're going to tackle his notes in this week and plan to have it rewritten to him before he makes his decision. We're thinking maybe it will help him say yes to us! We sure hope so!

On a side note, the reason this is even happening is the director is my neighbor I've known for years, just as a nice neighbor. He hasn't always been a director but I knew he produced different shows, not sitcoms but more event shows. We've always chatted about what we were working on, but really never thought I'd be pitching a show with him! Till one day he suggested I team up with him and the other writer. And here we are! So it just goes to show, you never know where a friendship will lead to. So make friends in LA! It can't hurt.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Don't shove theme down my throat

So I went to a short film festival a few weekends back. Okay, maybe more than a few weekends back. But you understand what I'm getting at. I go almost every year to this festival. Usually there are some good ones, okay ones, and some even close to bad ones.

This year, I went to an earlier time/hour than normal. So maybe that's why I wasn't really loving any of the films. Maybe they save the best ones for the later hours. But, what I did notice that wasn't working in pretty much all of them was that they all were forcing theme in our faces. Hitting us over the heads with it. But guess what? Theme is only supposed to be obvious to the writer! Not the people watching your film!

If you're watching a film and you come away thinking, "This movie was obviously about the family bonds", then that writer did not do their job. For instance, when you watch The Godfather, did you walk out going, wow, what a close family! Probably not. You probably just loved the drama and the fighting between the mob and all the Italians. It's not until you probably took a film class did you really think about wow, that was really about family and the loyalty between relatives and the loyalty with the mob family. Nowhere in the film did any of the characters say out loud, "I"m loyal to you." No! That would have been awful.

Some people swear that you have to have theme at the start of writing your script. Others say you don't and say it's okay if you stumble upon it and then pepper it throughout once you realize what it is. I say as long as you find the theme and put it in, who cares when you put it in. I personally put my theme in after I've started. Sure, I might have what I think is theme at the start. But sometimes, another real theme emerges and then that's what it becomes. The fact is, it doesn't matter when you find it. It just matters that you don't hit your audience over the head with it. Or I promise, your film will not resonate the way you think it will.

So get to writing that script. Add your theme. But just don't be so obvious, okay?

Happy writing!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

You win some, you lose some

First the good news. I heard from a producer that's been involved in some decently sized movies and he emailed to ask if one of my shorts was available because he might be interested in producing it next year. That's great news, right? I was excited to hear, of course. But...

Then minutes later, I get an email from an even bigger producer who I've been working on a few projects with over the years, and he says, he loves my new draft, it's really funny, loves the setup, but the comedy is out of his wheelhouse and he's so busy on movies going into production next year he won't be able to work on this with me. What??? No! This has been a relationship I've literally been developing, writing scripts, pitching ideas, meeting. I thought for sure, this was going to happen! And now, nothing? Ooh boy. Not what I wanted to hear. That's a huge blow for sure.

So of course I'm bummed. It's part of this business, I'm sure. I get it. But no one wants it to be them when it happens. So, instead of remaining bummed, which would be an easy thing to focus on, here's what I'm going to do to get out of this funk.

1. I'm going to focus on the first great news of the day, that the other producer is interested in producing my short! Yay! That's great news! Let me enjoy that for some time! It's not a definite, but it looks likely. And even if god forbid it didn't happen, this producer still did email me that he's interested. That's good no matter what happens.

2. If I wasn't working with the other producer, maybe I wouldn't have gotten this script into the awesome shape it's in. I plan to get it out to whomever I can next year. So who knows what great things can come from this.

3. I worked with Pilar Alessandra, story analyst, like I wrote in a previous blog, and she is getting me on one of her podcasts. If I hadn't been getting my script to that producer, maybe I wouldn't have hired her. And then that great thing of being on her show wouldn't have been an opportunity.

4. And let's not forget, the really big producer really did love my script and found it very funny. Funny! That's huge! I can't let that pass me up. He works with huge writers, and yet, he still did love my script. sigh. And even though it might not happen with him, I'm not going to ignore the compliment.

I'm sure there are more great things too I'm not quite ready to see. So, instead of sulking. I'm going to work on the outline for my newest script that a huge production company has already said they want to see the script for. Because one of the most important things about being a writer is to always work on the next thing. So that's exactly what I'm going to do instead. On to the next great thing!