Collaboration & Chores

IMG_0501.jpgI spent most of the past month finishing a new TV Pilot. I had a couple of table reads for it during the writing process, and so I believe it’s a very mature 1st draft. It’s currently circulating among colleagues, and I anxiously await their notes.

The latest table read was the most people I ever had in the house at one time. As you can see, we were cozy but not so packed that we couldn’t enjoy ourselves. I’m organizing another table read for someone else’s script later this month.

I would have had the script completed sooner, but I was too busy procrastinating. And also feeling guilty for procrastinating.

This week has been mostly enjoyable because I have nothing to feel guilty over. I’m going to give it another week before I set some new writing goals. In the meantime, I’ve been reacquainting myself with my camera and editing software.

I stayed up ’til 3am last night finishing a short film. I’m collaborating with an artist named Raphael, whom I met last week, and the fruits have been completely satisfying. It’s fun to start something, but it’s even better to finish. .

Speaking of which – a solid consequence of collaborating with new people, is that I get to add them to the eclectic mix weirdos, actors, writers, and other artists who orbit my friendspace. I wound up taking in a bonfire on the beach at Ward Island on Friday night. I was invited by Raphael and she introduced me to a number of her friends. Best thing about the occasion, is that 24 hours previous, I had no idea I’d be doing that.

Today has groceries and chores on the menu. I vacuumed and mopped the living room/kitchen yesterday. Took the opportunity to rearrange the furniture. I’m going to take a crack at my room next.

I guess chores are another consequence of finishing long term projects – I now have time for ’em.

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Chooking the Cheese

Today is Orthodox Easter – or as I more fondly think of it – a return to eating up cooked bits of dead animals. Jazz and I celebrated by bbqing some steaks, and eating them at midnight. We didn’t have eggs, so we chooked with slices of cheese. A new tradition was born.

I didn’t do much yesterday. The sun was out. Looked like a beautiful day out the window, but I didn’t partake. No particular reason for that. Just needed to shut ‘er down.

Jazz spent the day downstairs with the dogs. Paul and Renee are away, so Jazz got their place to herself. I think the cat was jealous.

On Friday night I went to the Short Short Play Festival for the second time this week. The festival features twelve short plays, none longer than 20 minutes. A number of my friends are either performing in, directing, and/or producing the plays. I wanted to support their work. Also, my table is starring in one of the plays. I wanted to support my table’s debut.

I continue to enjoy my work on The Expanse. The people are great. The show is fantastic. The job is enjoyable. I left the production office on Friday afternoon, crossed the lot to Stage 12, and met with some of the crew about petty cash stuff. I was warmly received by all. It feels like I’m part of something special.

Jazzy and I finished watching Season I last night. I had previously taken her on a set tour, and so it was neat to see those same sets playing on our television. How many get that kind of intimacy on their TV?

Alright. That’s enough for now. Got some burgers to tend to.

Happy Easter!

Rapidly Expanding Jasmine’s Grades

800x600_TheExpanse_S1_Keyart1I’m sitting in Beaches Library with Jazz. I took her out for supper for getting good grades in school, then bought her a coffee at Tim Horton’s, then came here. As we wandered around, looking for a place to sit, we stumbled upon her friend Hanna. It’s been a really great afternoon.

I’m also celebrating the conclusion of my first week on The Expanse – Season 2. I’m doing Petty Cash on the show, and I’ll be there ’til October. For the first time in a long time, I don’t have to worry about cash-flow implications with every spending decision I make. The money from the CBC sale, combined with a weekly cheque from my current gig, will make for a very pleasant 2016.

It gets better. Not only do I have a steady gig, but I love the show I’m on. I binge-watched all 10 episodes of season 1, and I really think this series could be the next BSG. I’m so thrilled to be on it!

In addition to watching Season 1 of The Expanse, I also watched a movie called Rush. It’s about the 1976 Formula 1 season, where Ferrari’s Niki Lauda and Mclaren’s James Hunt battled for the world championship on the track, while carrying on a dynamic friendship off it. I also took in a documentary about that same season called Hunt vs Lauda.

I am fascinated by Formula 1. These cars are amazing – some of the most advanced machines ever built by humanity. They generate 3x their weight in downforce, meaning they could theoretically drive upside down on the roof of a tunnel. They weigh next to nothing, and they take turns at such high speeds, they almost defy the laws of physics. Nine drivers lost their lives driving these cars throughout the 1970s.

2016 Culture Tally;

Feature Scripts Read: 2
TV Scripts Read: 2
Movies Watched: 9
TV Seasons Watched: 5
Documentaries Watched: 6
Documentary Series Watched: 1
Audio Books: 1

Monday Sales into the Week

IJ I Intro Still01It’s been an interesting week.

On Monday I was sitting with my laptop in Tim Horton’s, doing some follow up in my spreadsheets. A fleeting thought crossed my mind to send a note to my contact at CBC, to see if he would like to renew the licence to InJustice. He was involved in the series’  production, and subsequently bought it in HD when I first moved to Toronto four years ago. The term expired a year ago, and the Canadian rights were completely available. He responded with a one sentence email, saying he would be happy to renew the term, and simple as that, I made the sale.

The following day I meant with the Head of Development at a big production company. She read Machiavelli & Tymes, as well as my Christmas script. These meetings usually last less than 20 minutes. We met for over an hour. She like my writing. Loved the banter in my dialogue. Like the premise. Liked me. She asked me to come back with some changes to the pilot. I need less back story, and more ‘caper of the week’.

Mostly it just felt gratifying to hear someone who isn’t merely a friend or colleague, say good things about my work. As I was walking out the door, she told me that she felt I would be great in a writers’ room on a series.

On Wednesday, Mom did my income tax. I am happy.

Jazzy is home from school today. We’re having a lazy morning, but we’ll be bundling up and heading out into the cold, to hang out in a coffee shop on Queen St. E. I’ll write and she’ll do whatever, but mostly we’ll just be hanging out together.

Sexy Spreadsheet Maintenance

I’ve spent the past couple days conducting maintenance on my spreadsheets. A couple years ago I created a master spreadsheet that I worked from, that contained the contact information for every production company, client, contact, writer, producer, and PM I sought to meet. I used it to track my points of contact, documents I’ve sent, and results of these actions. It became a bit ornery to navigate and it fell out of use.

Now that I have a couple of scripted projects that are ready to pitch, I’ve gone back to that old spreadsheet, and refined it. I’ve decided to break it down into five distinct spreadsheets;

Production companies that produce SCRIPTED content.
Production companies that produce NON-SCRIPTED content.
WRITERS
BROADCASTERS
OTHER

I’ve completed the SCRIPTED spreadsheet. There are 67 entries right now, and I’ve contacted most of them with my two projects. Most who’ve gotten back to me have been receptive to reading my work.

I plan to compile the WRITERS spreadsheet today.

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.

The Good, The Bad, and the Obvious

ZeroDraft30Feels like a good time to check in.

Last night, the second draft of a TV Pilot I’m writing was read before a live audience at Toronto Cold Reads. The audience loved it! I need to clean up some things in Act III, and I await notes from the producers who hired me, but I’m really excited about it.

In the meantime, I’m frantically working to finish a screenplay before the end of the month. I took the Zero Draft 30 challenge – an international community of writers (accomplished and emerging) dedicated to supporting each other, as we strive to write a screenplay in 30 days. With seven days to go, I’m on page 50. I’d like to land at around page 95-100, so I need to hit… [Jarrett does some quick math] …7 pages a day!

I’ve had good days and bad days thus far. On my good days, I’m writing nine pages and the scenes are vibrant and dynamic. On my bad days, I play video games and barely look at the script. I wish I could find a way to be a little more consistent. I really don’t know why my bad days happen – and when I have a good day, it seems it comes from making a simple commitment to write. Nothing more to it than that.

In other business, Mom and Jeremy are helping me with Riderville Sitcom, pitching Season Passes to local businesses. Mom called today and she seems to have a big fish on the hook. I wished I would have thought to add them to the team in the summer. I would have been able to focus on doing what I do best, and let them do what they excel at. Sometimes the hardest things to see, are the things we don’t see right in front of our nose.

Well, that’s enough for today. Gonna pound pages now.

Wrapped

We wrapped Season I of The Riderville Radio Sitcom on Tuesday. Episodes are now in the studio being mixed, and we premiere on CKRM on September 12. The scope of all this hasn’t quite hit me yet. I don’t think it will really resonate with me until I get back to Toronto, sometime around the 20th.

There remains work to be done, episodes to lock, sponsorship stuff to chase, and proposals to draft. I’m transitioning away from the creative endeavour, and moving towards the business enterprise of this project now. I can see many seasons in our future. I can see this thing, becoming a real ‘thing’ – with a whole team behind it, pushing with all their might.

I have figured out that I need more than mere people to work with me on this project. I want champions. I need people who see the potential of this project, take some ownership in it, then use their abilities and connections to further the cause. Season I is wrapped, and now the thrust is to make it a success, so that we may get a Season II. To this end, I’m making a list of people whom I can seek advice from.

On a related note, I am looking forward to the day when I have other things on my mind, besides my series. I find myself in conversations with old friends, and all I can think to talk about, is the sitcom. I’m actually getting kind of annoyed with myself.

With that said, I have a proposal to write. Gotta make hay!