Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Erik Bork at Alameda Writers Group - May 7th

I've spoken at the Alameda Writers Group a couple of times, and they asked if I would help them get the word out about a FREE lecture by Emmy Award Winning screenwriter Erik Bork (BAND OF BROTHERS, FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON, etc). So here it is...


ERIK BORK is best known for his Emmy and Golden Globe-winning work as a writer-producer on the HBO miniseries BAND OF BROTHERS and FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON. He has also sold multiple pitches for original series – and written pilots – for NBC and Fox, worked as a writer-producer on staff of drama series for Warner Bros. TV and Twentieth TV, and written features on assignment for Playtone, Steven Spielberg, Universal Pictures, HBO and TNT. He’s represented by Creative Artists Agency.

Erik did classes last year at the Screenwriting Conference in Santa Fe - where I still have open seats in *my* class this year. Info on how to sign up for that...

The Screenwriting Conference at Santa Fe - May 27th - 31st, 2011.

Okay, now I'm going to go back to working on this script...

- Bill

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Do You Know The Way To Santa Fe?

I'll be teaching at the Screenwriting Conference in Santa Fe again this year, and becuase I've postponed my Los Angeles class - this may end up being the only class I teach this year. And it's only a month and a half away!

I'm sure I mentioned before that Santa Fe and the Raindance Film Festival are the reasons why I taught classes in the first place. Both called at about the same time a decade ago and asked if I wanted to teach a class for them, and I told both that I didn't teach classes, and both said: Come out out and try it, you'll like it! I've always been terrible at public speaking, so I thought it might be a good idea to deal with that - so I said yes to both.

Santa Fe was great, and that first year I basically just did a class based on my book Secrets Of Action Screenwriting. I've gone back several times over the years, and was there last year with Josh Olson - who will not read your fucking screenplay (except he read portions of his student's screenplays as part of his class). The great thing about Santa Fe is that Larry tries to keep it Working Professional Writers as teachers. So your teacher may be an Emmy Winner or and Oscar Nominee like Josh or some dude with a bunch of awful action films that play every week on the UK's version of Spike TV like me. But he tries to avoid that thing other conferences do where it's a bunch of Script Gurus with consulting services who have never sold a script telling you how to write... while plugging their own services. At Santa Fe, you learn from people who do it for a living.

And there's access. I mentioned in my blog entries last year that I went out to dinner with a group of students every night I was there - and so did almost everyone else. I was also in the hotel bar every night with some of teh other teachers and many students - and we talked screenwriting. I answered a bunch of questions from people who were not in my class - which is cool because you may get a different answer from me than from one of the other pros (we all have different experiences). Though I'm pretty easy to talk to at someplace like Expo, I've done events where we were kept separate from the students the whole time. Expo is kind of like that - one year at the "mixer" party that students paid money to attend, all of the teachers were in the "VIP room" upstairs. I felt guilty and went down to hang out with the students. Santa Fe - no walls, no separations. There's always a "mega panel" with all of the instructors answering student's questions, and students and teachers eat lunch in the hotel restaurant together - sit at my table if you want.

So this year I'm back in Santa Fe, and in addition to my 3 day class where I tear apart your first ten pages and go through all of the elements of writing (this year we're going to look at concepts, too) - I'm doing a short class based on the *revised* Secrets Of Action Screenwriting book. Kind of a flashback to that first class I did in Santa Fe a decade ago.

If you're interested in taking my class, there are still a couple of seats available, check it out!

The Screenwriting Conference at Santa Fe - May 27th - 31st, 2011.

Here is last year's blog entry on my adventures:
Santa Fe 2010.

- Bill

TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: Self Discipline - not as much fun as self bondage...
Dinner: City Wok - Tomato Beef
Pages: No sleep yesterday, so no pages written.
Bicycle: Yes, short ride.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lancelot Link Thursday

Lancelot Link Thursday! For those of you who think they need to remake John Landis' movie SCHLOCK! with modern special effects, here are some articles about screenwriting and the biz plus some fun stuff that may be of interest to you. Brought to you by that suave and sophisticated secret agent...

Here are five cool links plus this week's car chase...

1) Frank Sinatra *IS* Dirty Harry! and other films that never were!

2) Cinemacon: What will this summer's flops be - from people who have seen more of the films than anyone!

3) Movie Barcode - great films turned into skinny lines of information.

4) Brain Garfield (DEATH WISH) on Don Westlake (POINT BLANK, THE HOT ROCK).

5) Screenwriting news from The Onion.

6) This week's car chase is from NO PROBLEM! a 1975 comedy that's kind of a riff on THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY...

- Bill


TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: Revealing - which is not about turning an adult cow back into the baby cow.
Dinner: Burger, onion rings & Barney's Beanery.
Pages: Still trying to dive back into this script after working on 2 others for a week... and struggling.
Bicycle: No - had a screening to go to.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Kids! Get Off My Lawn!

This is probably because I’m officially an old man, but I wonder why kids don’t seem to care about anything but themselves anymore. And, I’m fairly sure I was one of these kids once - but also fairly sure I had slightly better manners.

It's been cool in Los Angeles lately - after a couple of days of 80', we've gone back to winter for some reason. I’m sitting in a Starbucks by the door and a whole flock of really loud kids enter - school just let out, I guess - and as soon as I think “indoor voices please” the kids manage to click the door to “stay open mode” and don’t close it, just stand in line with the door open and the overhead fly fan going crazy and cold air blowing in. After a few moments of the door open next to me, I get up and close it.

Cut to: same girls, same door... on their way out. Again, they click the door to “stay open mode” and again no one closes it. Now, this happens all of the time - and it’s not only kids - there are many adults who also leave the damned door open. But this time I decide to step outside before closing the door and ask the kids to please come back and close the door that they opened...

And they yelled at me. So I yelled back that they opened the door, they need to close it. And they yelled some more and called me names. Um, these are like 12 year old girls. They called me things I wouldn’t call my worst enemy.

Door: still open.

But here’s the question - what do you do now to get these people to close the door? I can continue to close doors for strangers for the rest of my life, but I didn’t open these doors, and it’s not my responsibility to close them. And If I don’t close them, it just trickles down to someone else like me who also did not open the door. If none of us closes the door, it gets cold inside Starbucks and we all suffer and eventually some employee who should be making your drink has to get out from behind the counter and close the door. Then, your drink is late - and maybe you are late for a meeting - and maybe because you are late you get fired or don’t get the job or some other terrible thing. Yes, I’m kind of making mountains out of molehills, but how many times in your life have things gone wrong because your timing was off by a minute? And, even though I’m specifically talking about closing doors, here, there are lots of other things that are just like this - where people just don’t care and cut across three lanes of freeway traffic to make their exit because they forgot to merge over... and cause a ten car pile up? These little things are really big things.

The person who opens the door should also shut it.

We are all human. We have all left some door open somewhere. I’m sure the reason why I stuck my head out the door and asked these kids to come back and close the door is because they did this *twice* in the space of 5 minutes... and didn’t notice and didn’t care. So, I’m imagining hundreds of doors all over Los Angeles left open by this group of 12 year old girls. And they have learned that this is okay, and will keep leaving doors open all of their lives - billions of open doors that others have to close!

Poliely asking did not work.
Demanding did not work.
What *does* work?

The door was sill open.

I closed it on my way back inside.

Sometimes, you just have to do it yourself... even if it's not your responsibility. You can complain about things that are wrong, or you can work to change them.

- Bill

TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: Revealing - which is not about turning an adult cow back into the baby cow.
Dinner: Burger, onion rings & Barney's Beanery.
Pages: Still trying to dive back into this script after working on 2 others for a week... and struggling.
Bicycle: No - had a screening to go to.

Monday, April 11, 2011

RIP: Sidney Lumet

Great director of urban dramas, often dealing with police or criminal activities. He will be missed.

- Bill
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