Thursday, May 07, 2009

Class Dismissed!

I know it’s been a while since my last real post, but I was busy with my class. A while back the Expo folks asked me if I wanted to do a one day class for them, and I said yes. Like I have nothing else to do! They wanted me to do the horror class because it always gets great “grades” from the students at Expo every year... and I’ve been doing it every year since the first Expo.

Well, two problems with that from my POV - the class is basically an hour and a half that I can expand to 2 with clips, and since I’ve been doing it every year at Expo to packed rooms I think everyone has already taken it. Well, they wanted a full day and they wanted horror because it was a proved success. My spit and gaffer’s tape solution was to combine the horror class with the thriller class (which is about 3 hours, and can be 4 hours with clips) - but that’s still 2 classes I’ve done every year at Expo.

My problem last year at Expo was that they picked the classes for me - instead of letting me do the 4 new classes I’d written, or even a mix of old and new, they gave me the same classes I had been doing since Expo #1 - because they had been successful in the past. Ironically, one of those classes is on ideas where I say that you need something the same but different. Something unique. And now I’m doing a one day class that is more of the same. How to attract an audience to something that most people have heard before?

Well, the first thing I decided to do was write some new material. That way, even if you took the class every year at Expo there would still be new material. So last week was spent writing new stuff for the class - 5,327 words on Contained Thrillers on Tuesday, 2,234 words on Creative Kills on Wednesday, and 6,136 words on Horror stuff and Thriller stuff on Thursday. And I was watching new horror films every night, looking for trends of elements that I could add to the class. Friday I selected clips and organized the class materials (and went to the movies). Saturday was my last day of prep...

The class began at 9am in Beverly Hills (Pico & Beverly Drive) and I needed to be there at least a half hour early. Problem is - as Beef says in PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE, “I am a professional”. I sleep until noon sometimes. I don’t do mornings unless there’s some important meeting. To get to Beverly Hills by 8am I’d have to get up... well, probably around 6:30. Sure, I probably could have slept until 7, but that’s when there’s a wreck on the 405 and I end up late. By the way, the location is not freeway close. Fastest way to get there would be over Laurel Canyon... which is a narrow road, one lane in places, and can get jammed.

And once I arrived? Even if all I did was quaff coffee in the car, I’d still be sluggish. No blood flowing, no exercise... I’d probably nod off halfway through class. That’s okay for a student sitting in the back of the room, not so good for the teacher. So I came up with a crazy idea (as usual) - I would ride my bike. Not over Laurel Canyon - that’s suicide - but there is a little bus with a bike rack that goes from the Laurel canyon News Stand over the hill to the Beverly Center. I could ride to the news stand, then drink coffee on the bus, then ride from the Beverly Center to the class. I’d get some blood flowing, get some fresh air, and would probably even zip by stop-and-go downtown traffic on my bike.

Of course, all of this was weather dependant. There was some rain in the forecast, and if that hit on Sunday instead of Saturday morning, I’d be driving and nodding off in class after lunch. The week leading up to the class had crappy weather for bike riding - lots of high winds - and the plan to get some good rides in before the class ride didn’t happen.

We got our sprinkles early Saturday morning, so weather on Sunday was perfect... and even cool and not windy! Problem, as usual, was that no matter how early I went to bed on Saturday night I did not get to sleep until late. Alarm went off at 6am, I showered, rode to the newsstand, drank coffee over the hill, rode to the hotel... got there just before 8, so I found a Starbucks for more coffee and went back at 8am and set up. Got instructions on how to use the DVD player/projector and did a test before anyone showed up. Cool!

I wondered how many people would show, since it was a class I’d done a million time before, and there were some behind the scenes issues. I asked for a banner for the class - never got one. They promised that there would be Lunch With An Agent as part of the class - that didn’t happen. They were supposed to have an advert in Creative Screenwriting Magazine (*their* magazine) - didn’t happen! They couldn’t even get an advert for their own class in their own magazine! I still had to make the deadline to get my class description to them for the magazine press date - they just didn’t get it in there. So I had no idea how many people would show... ended up filling all but seven seats! Not bad.

Class went well - I was awake, felt pretty good. There were enough questions that I didn’t even use all of the new material!

So, after class was over I got on my bike and made a crazy decision. Instead of riding back to Beverly Center, I would ride to the subway station at Wilshire and Western. Take the subway back (the Universal Station is practically in my back yard). My theory was - if I got tired, I could put the bike on the front of a Wilshire bus like a wimp. I had no idea how far the Western subway station was... but it was a reasonable bike ride. A couple of times (at hills) I thought about wimping out... but decided I’d just work through it. Wasn’t until I got home and Mapquested that I realized it was a little over 7 miles without a break. Add the morning ride segments and that was over 9 miles for the day.

In the old days, before I got fat, I used to ride from my apartment to Priscilla’s Coffee in Toluca Lake, do a half day’s work, then ride to Coffee Bean on San Fernando for the rest of the day’s work, then ride home... round trip was 10.5 miles. I did that every day except Sunday, when I’d ride somewhere else. I am not even close to being able to do 10 miles a day every day in this fat incarnation of me, but after the 9 mile ride on Sunday I still felt pretty good... and did a 6.5 mile round trip down the street to North Hollywood and back to run some errands on Monday.

So I feel really good about being able to ride that distance without my legs turning to jello, then still being able to ride the following day without falling apart.

Now if I can just get this new spec script finished...

- Bill

Yesterday’s Dinner: Pork Fried Rice & Pot Stickers at City Wok.
Today's Script Tip: All About Antagonists!
Movies: I have seen a whole bunch of movies... reviews to come.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Script needs to start doing their own "Expo"

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