The Great Rewrite of 2015

IMG_01412015 feels overwhelmingly like ‘unfinished business’ to me. I accomplished a lot, but fell short just enough to leave me feeling unsatisfied with the year that was.

My resolution for 2016, is to feel the opposite of what I feel today. In one year’s time, I wish to take a few minutes to myself, with a pint at my side, writing about how grateful I am for the year that was.

And so what needs to happen?

Stability for one. The career has had many ups and downs over recent years. I think back to who I was before I left Regina, and I feel like I lost a skip in my step. A confidence. I felt like I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. Somewhere along the way, that feeling became something closer to ‘troubled optimism’.

Perhaps it was all an illusion to begin with, and I’m only just seeing reality now. I left the pond that was the Regina film industry, and jumped into the ocean that is Toronto. Never bothered to draw up a plan or pick a direction. I figured I could just show up and things would work out.

So many worthy and talented artists struggle in Toronto. Who am I to think I could just show up and expect it to all just fall in my lap?

The first three years of my time in Toronto were spent learning some hard lessons. My fourth year – 2015 – is the year I began to put all those hard lessons to good use.

I wrote a dynamic and marketable TV Pilot in Machiavelli & Tymes. I backed that up with a rich and well-researched spec script for The Blacklist. I took sole credit for three episodes, and made significant contributions to three other episodes of The Riderville Radio Sitcom. I was hired to write a pitch bible and TV pilot for an animated SciFi series. I completed two drafts of a TV Movie. Taken together, that’s over seven hours of content – three of which has been produced!

In 2016 I want to see my TV movie go into production. I would like to direct that movie. In addition, I aim to research the market a bit more thoroughly, then write two more TV movies for that market. I have a couple good ideas for TV pilots as well.

It’s an ambitious set of goals I admit. Possibly even a bit naive to express in writing. Putting a show into production requires the help of many others, and it’s a goal that even more wish for their own scripts. Still, if one doesn’t commit, one doesn’t really have a direction.

In times past, I’ve expressed the notion that life is a river – that we are leaves floating upon that river, and with great awareness and a pinky flick’s worth of effort, we can ride that river right up to where we’re supposed to land.

I continue to believe there’s something to that idea, but I may have been delusional in the balance between effort and awareness.

While production is a collaborative effort, requiring the commitment of many others, I need no one’s help to write a script. Nothing gives me greater satisfaction than crafting a great scene.

If I am to feel great about the year ahead, then I simply need to go out and write that ending.

Longing for Christmas

IMG_0313I’ve been home for Christmas for a week now. Feels different from past Christmases, because I was just here for over three months, three months ago. That longing to be home isn’t the same as it was last year, when it was my first without Dad. It had also been eight months since I last saw the place, so definitely, that longing was a long time in coming.

That said, it’s good to be home.

I spent the weekend on the farm celebrating an early Christmas. Of course it was great to see everyone, but I find myself walking around the place seeing – not the present – but the memories and ghosts of all those times that came before.

I spent a lot of time with my nose in my computer, or lost somewhere in my own little world. The rest of the time I was switch on, engaging with everyone, and saying mostly funny, sometimes inappropriate shit. On the final day, I gathered everyone around the table and we read through my Christmas script together.

IMG_0317Jazzy’s in Vancouver for Christmas. Mom and Dave are out running errands, so at present it’s just me and the dogs. Peaceful. A good time for sitting in silence with my thoughts.

My career as a writer is important to me. Something clicked for me shortly after completing the ZERO DRAFT Thirty Challenge. Write. Everyday day or so. That big intimidating literary mountain ain’t so ornery to climb when taken one small step at a time.

I’ve spent all this time pitching myself. Pitching ideas. Why not just write the ideas? It’s so much easier to set up meetings and send off ideas, when the ideas are actually written. That’s certainly been the case with my Christmas script.

I completed the rewrite last week and promptly sent queries to a dozen or more production companies. A third have gotten back to me, requesting the script. In nearly every case, I had previously reached out to these production companies for other projects. It made pitching so much easier.

I haven’t done much over the past couple of days, and I plan to continue that tread for at least the next forty-eight hours or so. After that, I have ideas I want to get to.

In the meantime, a driveway full of snow awaits my attention.

Writing Up a Habit

In the last two-and-a-half months, I’ve written two pitch bibles for TV series, a TV pilot, and a screenplay. Inside my head, it doesn’t feel like I’ve  been that productive, but clearly the work does speak for itself. I feel good about that. Really good.

I invited a houseful of actor/writer colleagues over last Sunday and we read through my screenplay together. The feedback was positive. Structurally the piece felt solid. It felt like a story.

I’m on page 90 of the rewrite for that screenplay. I’ve been focusing on developing some of my characters to a greater extent. There are also details of the story that left some confused in the table read, so I’m addressing that as well.

I’ll be finishing up today, and then I start sending it off to a number of production companies that I’ve been in touch with. It’s a Christmas script, so time is of the essence if we’re going to put it in production this year.

Tomorrow I fly back to Regina. I look forward to seeing everyone – and to continue my writing habit.