Faith in What?

I’m taking a Religious Studies 275 class with Courtney.  It focuses on women in world religions.  We started with Christianity.

I go to church maybe a couple of times per year.  It see it as a part of my history, my community, and my identity.  These are the places and faces I remember seeing as a child.  Still,  I’m not really sure how much of it I actually believe.  Mostly I’m neutral to it.

Sitting through that class yesterday reminded me of how confused my faith is, when I really put some thought into it.  I believe there are ‘mysteries’ in life beyond physics and science and I believe the essence of those mysteries is God.  The nature of God, what he/she/it wants, or why, is something I choose not to think about.

Too many people have shed far too much innocent blood pondering the question.  When one person stands up and says, “I have the right to judge you because my faith is better than yours,” well… nobody wins.  If your faith is not strong enough to stand up to someone else’s alternative, the problem lies not with the other person, but with yourself.

I think about people of faith who feel a strong need to meddle in other peoples’ points of view.  They attack the woman who lives a sensual lifestyle.  They scorn the man who stays home on Sundays or marches in protest against the discrimination of others.  Do they truly believe they are trying to ‘save’ these people from their choices?  Perhaps it’s simply fear that if some members of their congregation see the example of an alternative choice, they may stray.

There’s no definitive answers anyway.  No one can say they know the mind of God.  How fucking arrogant.  I think the world would be a better place if people everywhere just kept to themselves, looked in the mirror, and worked on themselves instead of finding faults in the choices and beliefs of others.

Dramatic Opening

How very dramatic.  I stood in the rain for an hour at Rider practice yesterday waiting to speak with my contact.  When practice was over, I gave him the Highwaymen pilot script, said a few pleasant words, and then I was on my way.

I also spent several hours yesterday preparing my pitch package.  Once the bios are done, I have some serious brainstorming to do.  What are the next few episodes going to be about?  I don’t want to go into too much detail because  sometimes it’s better to leave ‘em wanting more rather than filling in all the blanks.  I’m just not sure where the handle is exactly.  Too much, too little, wrong direction, right vibe?  I don’t know.

I’ve never done anything this big before, and I don’t have the contacts at CTV to lean on for support.  I can only hope my pilot script and supplemental documentation is enough for them to get behind and push.

I guess more than ever before, it’s real now.  ‘Highwaymen’ is a real project with a pilot script and a series concept.  I have something I can put in peoples’ hands.  If I shake enough of them, I’ll get my answers soon.

It’s time to make some fans.

Final Draft People Watching

There’s a guy sitting outside the window here at Atlantis.  He’s just sitting there at a table, arms crossed, looking forward, blinking, and otherwise just staying out of the rain.  Didn’t even order anything.  He looks like he’s got a load on his mind.  Probably has something to do with a girl.  He’s got that posture.

Oh wait.  He was just waiting for a ride.

I bought Final Draft on the weekend.  It’s the industry standard script writing software that everyone uses (hence the ‘standard’ designation).  I’ve only spent a little bit of time with it, but damn!  It’s great.

Screen plays are ruled by very strict formatting guidelines.  The font must be Courier 12 point.  The spacing and margins must be exact.  Transitions, edits, dialogue, etc must be precisely noted.  These guidelines have been used around the world in this way since the 1930s.  Obeying these rules gives the reader a sense of how long the story is.  In general, one page of screenplay, properly formatted, equates to one minute of screen time.

Straying from these rules will distort the perceived length of the story.  Worse yet, improper formatting will scream ‘amateur’ to a professional reader, and in an industry crammed with wanna be writers, that’s a stink you don’t want associated with your script.

So I loaded my script into Final Draft and fixed all the formatting errors.  I’ve learned that the best thing about this software is that it takes all the formatting out of your thinking.  You just write, the software formats it for you.  I’m looking forward to putting it through its paces on the next episode.

On a related note.  The Riders are back in town today after getting their asses kicked in Winnipeg.  Very inconvenient because I want them in a receptive mood when they read my script.  Regardless, I sent out an email last night to one of my contacts.  Hopefully I can get a meeting with the team this week.

60 Double Double

On Wednesday I got two scenes into the 3rd Act of ‘Highwaymen’ and my skin tingled for hours afterwards.  I was electric with the possibilities and potential of the project.

Yesterday afternoon at at ten minutes to four, in Atlantis, I finished the first episode.  There was no euphoria or anything resembling Wednesday’s head rush.  Wednesday was about potential and Friday was about reality.  I was creatively spent.  Perhaps how someone feels after running a marathon.  Swelling feeling of accomplishment inside, desperate need to rest on the outside.

I’m going to spend some time with it today and kick the tires.  I’m sure there’s barbs on it yet that need smoothing, but otherwise it feels pretty good.

And as I sit here pondering, I feel like that’s the thing that’s bothering me.  It’s only the first draft and I think it’s really good.  I must be missing something.  Act III feels very different from the first two acts.  Of course, Act III takes place amidst the chaos of a football game.  Maybe it ends too abruptly.  I’m not sure… gotta leave something for Episode 2.  Still, the ending is consistent with the whole theme of the episode.  Football is the highest of highs and the lowest of lows and episode 1 ends with a play that does both.  I called it ’60 Double Double’.

The Riders play Sunday and I’ll try and line up a meeting with them on Monday.  Cross your fingers.

Skin Tingling Wordsmything

Nothing.  I repeat NOTHING feels better than writing a great story!

I spent several hours at the university library yesterday working on ‘Highwaymen’.  I’m two scenes into Act III and at this pace, I can finish it by tomorrow evening.  I’ve never been this high on my own work before.  My skin is tingling.  I close my eyes and I see its potential.  This series can really touch a lot of peoples’ lives in really positive ways.

I couldn’t even sleep last night.  I’m sure it was the story, but I also hung out with Courtney again last night.  Definitely a double dose of spiritual goodness.  My cup runneth over.

Today has more writing in store.  Not as much as yesterday, but enough to keep the buzz going.  Later today I’ll be attending a Humanitarian Awards Gala put on by the Red Cross.  I did some work for them and now they’re calling me a sponsor.  I’ll take it.  There’ll be a lot of big wigs there.  Maybe I’ll even run into some honchos from the Roughriders.

Act III Doth Beckon

Hmmm.

The sky is cloudy and the pace is slow.  My phone is dying and I can’t seem to pull my head out of my ass.  I get in these moods every other week or so.  I pay attention to myself and I notice these patterns.  Usually I get this way following a day of completely disappointing non-productivity.

Check.

I was on a roll with Highwaymen.  Wrote two new scenes and the end is in sight.  It’s good too.  For a first draft anyway.  In a week or so it will be ready to show to the Roughriders.  I’m excited.  With them on board this project could really move.  Their last home game drew a national television audience of 1.34 million, an all time record.  I’ll take it as an oman.

I did spend the morning catching up with an old friend.  Linda used to be my program manager at SCN.  I read her what I have and she’s into it.  She said it’s better than a lot of projects she’s been intimately involved with on TV.  That made me feel good.

In the afternoon I headed to the university to check out potential classes.  There was a philosophy class that looked interesting and an English class that focused on Joss Whedon’s, ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’.  No dice though.  Looks like I’ll spend this semester completely focused on my projects.

A photo shoot in the evening was also cancelled.  I was actually happy about that because the time would better have been spent writing.  Of course, prying my ass off the couch was too great an effort.  Instead I wound up analyzing why the TV series I’m currently addicted to is so bad.  Mostly it’s the writing.  Lots of exposition filled scenes with no action, lots of action with no turn, lots of characters with no dimension… flat flat flat.

Still I watch it.  It’s a series that ran 10 seasons, spun off two other series, and three movies.  ‘Firefly’ got cancelled after 12 episodes.  There’s no justice sometimes.

I’m going to take this day by the balls and turn it around.  Upon publishing this article, I’ll be finishing up some reading, and then heading to the university for some much needed writing.  Act III doth beckon.

Give and Take and Memory Lapses Too

I have a hard time remembering peoples’ faces.  It’s embarrassing.  Doesn’t matter if that face belongs to an important business contact, a friend of a friend, or a cute girl I just met and hung out at her apartment with, two nights before, sitting on her floor with her friends drinking pilsner and talking about such profound things as art, the Regina scene, and Toronto too.

But enough about my flaws… onwards and upwards.  Ran into Jenn this morning at Atlantis.  She was sitting outside with her friend having a cigarette and she saw me first.  She waved at me and we had a pleasant small talk type conversation whilst waiting for our coffees.  I bought the coffees by the way cuz I figured since she fed me a couple of beers at her place the other night, coffee was the least I could do.

Yesterday the Riders sleepwalked their way through the Winnipeg Blow Bombers.  I’m happy we got the win… I mean, it would have been a disaster if we lost to a 2 – 6 football team.  Still, I’m concerned about the rematch next week at the Banjo Bowl.  Our offence was looking completely unremarkable for most of the game, and rose to average by game’s end.

I watched the game with Shawn and Ron (and their families).  Gave my ticket to Rich’s fiance Deb.  She was super happy and guilt ridden over taking the ticket, but I figured that this game and everything surrounding it, was of such a magnomonious scale, with the rest of the Romanian Syndicate hosting before and after tailgate parties, that it would make an ideal wedding present.

Still, I felt a bit lost.  Watching the game with Shawn and Ron was kind of an empty feeling.  I think Jeff put it best the other night at Rich’s birthday party, “That’s really honourable, but kind of disappointing at the same time.”

No regrets.  My gift to them was a profound experience that they will remember long after their other wedding gift trinkets and toys have faded away or worn out.  I’ve also gained a guilt trip I can manipulate for selfish purposes down the road.  In the long term, I shall look upon it as a win/win.

Regina Pact

That was completely unexpected.

I was wandering through Victoria Park after spending a few hours in the library working on ‘Highwaymen’.  The city was full of hooting, howling Roughrider jersey clad pedestrians and even the odd Bluebomber fan was seen out and about.  There was a parade earlier, a Roughrider art exhibit in the Dunlop, and games for kids in the park.  The whole city seemed to be caught up in that weekend long beer buzz going around called, ‘The Labour Day Classic’.

So I took a left down Scarth Street and saw someone waving at me from O’Hanlon’s.  I crossed to see who it was and it turned out to be two of the creatures who work behind the counter at Atlantis, Eric and Carl.  I know Eric from a theatre class we took together, but this was my first non-Atlantis conversation with Carl.  Their friend Jenn was sitting beside me.

Small talk turned into a rather engaging conversation, so I ordered a pint.  One pint turned into three, plus a share of a Spinach and Feta Pizza.  In the meantime Carrie joined us after Carl left and ordered a round of shots.  Carrie already knew me but I couldn’t remember her at first.  It hit me about two hours into the conversation — she dated a guy who worked for me about five years ago.

From O’Hanlon’s we headed over to Jenn’s apartment, two blocks away (after making a pit stop at an off-sale).  Jenn’s friend Bret met us at the door and we all headed in together.  I met Bret six years ago when I first started taking theatre classes.  She didn’t remember me.  Fair is fair.

So now we’re all sitting on the floor of Jenn’s apartment drinking Pilsner and talking about art, money, Toronto, Regina and more.  Both Bret and Carrie have recently ‘temporarily’ returned home from stints in Toronto.  They both talked about feeling the strong pull of Regina quick sand.

This ‘quick sand’ is what we figured out is quality that characterizes Regina.  Carrie talked about showing up and being given the Regina blanket to wear, a cigarette in one hand and a pint in the other.  Didn’t even ask for it.  People just found her.  Old friends, new friends, love, sharing, inspiration, opportunity, and warmth.  Who in their right mind wants to walk away from that?

Toronto and other big cities have a lot of really cool things to offer.  Regina can’t touch that right now, but why can’t we import that?  We talked about working together to grow something here.  Let’s call it the ‘Regina Pact’.

There are so many really great and interesting people in this community.  So many quirky and creative things going on.  On top of the really big things going on, let’s add to the fusion.  Why not.

All it takes is the least amount of effort by a whole bunch of really special people.

Crisis in Yellowhead

I have to dig deeper.  Much much deeper than I first expected.

Spent some time yesterday tinkering with the crisis scene of Highwaymen, episode 1.  Every turn of the screw tightened one other component to the story out of shape.  Every poke and prod revealed more imperfections to the story design.

This is just one scene.  It’s like trying to heard cats.  Granted, it’s the most important scene in the story design, and it represents the grand culmination of every seed planted to date, but still… I thought I was so close.

Ideally a crisis scene is the most difficult choice of all between the better of two evils, or the outcome of two goods.  Simply put, it’s a choice between Door Number 1 and Door Number 2.  It’s a one way trip and there’s no going back.  It needs to be a motherfucking choice of all choices, and in order for the choice to be a true crisis, a strong case for both doors needs to be made throughout the story.

My story will end with my protagonist walking through Door Number 1, but I need to go back and make sure the argument for Door Number 2 is an even better choice.  This decision will then set up the rest of the series for inherent future conflict… and conflict is what drives a story forward.

Diving In

If Bob Marley were here right now, he’d be singing, “Everything’s gonna be alright, everything’s gonna be alright, everything’s gonna be alright, everything’s gonna be alright!”

It’s Friday of a Labour Day Weekend!  The sun is out.  The trees are as green as the Rider swag every other man, woman and child is wearing.

I gotta say, I feel okay and I like it this way.

There are as many concerns in my life right now as there are things going well.  I simply believe and accept that all good things come to an end, just like all the bad things do.  I’m diving in and where ever I wind up…

Everything’s gonna be alright.