When the Idea Becomes More

The short film that I’ve been writing has turned into something much bigger than I ever expected. With Alan Goloboff set as Director, Ken Crawczyk as DP, and Ron Wisman Sr. as Editor, we’ve already assembled an impressive, award winning team. A writer whom I came to know recently, who wrote for Flashpoint read my script and said, “it really cooks along.” The script will be the biggest factor in determining whether we are successful with our funding or not.

I’m feeling pretty good about things, but as I said, the project has turned into something much bigger than a short film. With this script, I realized that I have the beginnings of the procedural that I’ve been advised to conceive.

I tweaked some of the details, and wrote a one-pager. I showed it to some colleagues and they were impressed with the concept. Encouraged, I set up a meeting with a friend who’s working for a broadcaster. She loves the idea and gave me some notes for a second draft – things that will really speak this broadcaster. She said I should send her the revisions, and she’ll take the project directly to the decision makers. After that, it’s out of our hands.

I have meetings upcoming with three production companies and one other broadcaster. I’m working the phone to set up more meetings. This feels really good.

Cross your fingers for me. Please.

The Fine Line to Self Awareness

I was walking passed a store the other day and saw a dog tied up outside the door. The owner was inside and the dog was content, waiting patiently for the day to unfold. As I approached, the dog kind of stuck his neck out. He wanted some affection, so I stopped to pet him.

As I sat there scratching him behind the ears, I was struck with a thought – why don’t people stick their necks out for affection from perfect strangers? Dogs are perfectly happy to receive affection from anyone. People, not so much.

Perhaps it’s because we’ve all been disappointed by people at one time or another. We can be hurt. The reward of affection just does’t outweigh the risks.

Is this a ‘normal’ state of being, or have we socialized ourselves into this walled off place?

Personally, I don’t really have a lot of affection for perfect strangers, unless they’re hot and I might be able to have sex with them at some future time (assuming they’re sporting a vagina). I don’t think I’m that different from most men in this regard.

I attended a ‘Peace Ceremony’ last night. The women in the room were all acquaintances Renee. We lit a smudge stick and meditated on a candle flame. I wasn’t really sure how I felt about being there. It was all a bit too earthy for my tastes. I prefer a little more yoga with my earthiness.

This room full of women were all familiar with each other, and they were all down with the ceremony. Me, I felt a little like the pee in a public swimming pool – invisible but present. Whenever the group leader would say something like, “let the energy ‘penetrate’ your heart…” my mind would go to a naughty place.

Out of respect for the vibe in the room, I don’t think I’ll be going back. They made me feel welcome, and I would feel comfortable sticking my neck out for affection from any one of them, but my headspace is in a different place at present.

I’m not sure if that’s something I need to change about myself, or merely accept and call self awareness.

Write, Rewrite, Rewrite Again

I’m making a film.

Feels so great to say that. Thus far, I’ve taken four meetings this week that will have varying degrees of affect upon my career. The more hands I shake, the closer I get to realizing my goals.

I will be done the first draft of the short film script today and sending it off to Alan this afternoon, along with a package of other odds and ends we’ll need to assemble our proposal.

Yesterday was ‘Take Your Kid to Work’ Day in Toronto. Felt a lot like, ‘Let Jazzy Sleep In, Then Force Her to Hang Out With Me.’ She read an early draft of the short film script with me, then I took her to a meeting with a Director/Script Editor I know from Saskatchewan. We discussed Room 31 for two hours.

I have been collecting notes from a variety of sources for the past two weeks, and they all added up to a lot of unanswered questions. During my meeting yesterday, I came to realize that condensing my previous draft down to 37 pages was merely the first step in figuring out where my story begins. This current draft has three acts but ends too abruptly. Rather than being a cliff hanger that will make the reader want to read (watch) the next episode, it annoys them because there is very little resolution.

The script needs to get back to the 50-60 page mark – it needs Acts 4 and 5 to be added. I can use those acts to go deeper into the rest of my characters – bring out a C Story, then weave that story (along with the B Story) back into the A Story by the end of Act 5. In doing so, I can give this series much more of an episodic feel (where each episode is self contained), which in turn will make the series more marketable because broadcasters LOVE episodic television.

My next step with this script is to write out an actual outline – plot the act breaks and key story beats. Normally this is the very first step towards writing a script, but I began this thing 18 months ago as a way to amuse myself and my friends during the Spring Festival of New Plays in Regina. Between then and now, much (virtual) ink has been spent on the story, and only two scenes remain from that very first draft – and even those have been altered to a great degree.

The fastest way to move forward from here is to actually tear the script apart – break it down to its bones. Analyze. Plot. Reassemble. Write. Rewrite. Rewrite again. Keep rewriting.

Finding That Thing I Lost

I have been wandering through a career purgatory for some time. It began on the tail end of my time in Regina, and continued into the present, here in Toronto. That’s three years of aimlessness.

Certainly, my goal to write for television has been pursued with vigour. I have learned much about the craft over that time, and I have been reasonably productive with my work. I know I can be doing more however.

In the meantime, I stopped thinking of myself as a producer. I lost something that goes beyond a job description. Producer.

In Regina, I sat on the board of the Directors Guild of Canada – Saskatchewan District Council for years. I also sat on the board of the Saskatchewan Motion Picture Association, and chaired its training committee for many years. I was at the centre of my industry. I knew everyone. I involved myself in some very impressive projects and forged powerful relationships as a result.

Here in Toronto, I’m not any of those things anymore. I am a small drop in the ocean, and I have done very little to involve myself in the industry out here. I’m writing scripts, but I’m not actively pursuing their production. They’re calling cards – a means to an end.

I used to believe I could produce anything. I knew everyone I needed to know, and I knew where the resources could be found to make things happen. After two years in Toronto, I’ve only added a handful of industry contacts to those I already knew from Saskatchewan. My ability to find resources, should I want to produce something in this town, is severely compromised.

I woke up the other day, and realized that’s what’s been lacking in my mentality of late. I stopped being a producer. I stopped being a producer, and I really NEED to be a producer to feel like I’m myself.

This ain’t about job titles. Ain’t about ego either. It’s about possessing the means to create something from nothing, whether I want to or not – whether I actually do or not. I need to recapture that.

I met with Alan Goluboff yesterday, Chair of the Directors Guild of Canada – Ontario District Council. He’s someone I’ve known for years. He’s from Saskatchewan, but has been working in Toronto for 35 years. He knows everyone in this town. Everyone. Producers. Cast. Crew. Suppliers. Everyone.

We’re going to make a short film together. I’m going to write it. He’s going to direct. We’ll produce it together. The team will be assembled over the coming weeks, and the proposal goes in December 3.

Most significantly, I walked away from our meeting, feeling like a producer again.