The value of face-to-face time

Coffee makes for a good 3rd part of this equation
Coffee makes for a good 3rd part of this equation

A few weeks ago, I’d read a post on Done Deal Pro from a writer who’d gone to Los Angeles to attend a Writers Guild function, but was now back home in the Bay Area.

Since I’m always looking to expand my network of fellow writers, especially ones that could be considered local, I contacted him and asked if he’d be interested in meeting.

Fortunately, he was. Coffee at the Ferry Building.

Since most of this summer has involved V being at work with me, she and I worked our way from my office to our designated meeting place.

I handed her my phone so she could play video games while Justin Sloan and I sat down to talk.

We exchanged backgrounds and career developments. He was especially intrigued about my results using the Black List.

Unfortunately, Justin had to get back to work so we had to cut things short, but he asked if he could read my script, and I offered to give feedback on his.  He also asked if he could send me some questions for his blog Bay Area Screenwriters. You can read those here, and I’ve added a link to it over on the blogroll.

It was great not only talking about writing, but also discussing the assorted experiences we’ve each had in relation to writing. Contests, writing groups, etc.

This is one of those experiences that can’t be duplicated via an online forum or instant messaging. Having an actual conversation with someone will hopefully be fulfilling for both parties.

So send those emails, set up those coffee chats, get out there and talk to people.

-Movie of the Moment: PACIFIC RIM (2013). What happened? This was supposed to be the big hit of the summer. No such luck. Instead, we got great special effects weighed down with forgettable characters and horrible dialogue. (Can’t people come up with something better than “Let’s do this!”?)

I will give del Toro and Beacham credit for coming up with an original story, but feel bad it was so poorly executed. There was no way this could lived up to all the hype. Scott Pilgrim, anyone?

Some notable disappointments: the Russian and Chinese pilots/robots were treated as throwaway characters, and were dispatched with way too quickly.
-the Australian guy with a huge chip on his shoulder seemed straight out of a studio note. “This guy should be a real asshole, but give him a dog so he’s semi-likeable.”
-the trailers featured most of the robot-monster action, leaving little to surprise us during the actual movie.

-THE LAST STARFIGHTER (1984). Hadn’t seen this in years.  Also watched it with V because I thought she might like it – she did. There are elements similar to DREAMSHIP. Not exactly the same, but definitely there.

The story by itself still holds up, even though the rest feels a little clunky, and Robert Preston’s fast-talking Harold Hill-type character always brightens up whatever scene he’s in.

Watching this on an HD screen makes it that much more obvious you’re looking at a film set, and the special effects, cutting-edge at the time, seem quaintly dated.

Dispatches from the road

Who doesn't love finding one in their actual mailbox?
Nothing like finding one in your mailbox

Visiting my folks this week, so not much time for writing. That being said, there are a few items worth mentioning…

-The Tracking Board Launchpad top 10 finalists were named earlier this week, and I was not one of them. It was a little disappointing to not see my name on the new list, but I can still claim to be one of the semifinalists, which is at least something.

The logline to DREAMSHIP is now officially posted as part of the contest update, so now it’s a wait-and-see situation regarding being contacted by potential reps. Which leads me to…

-Having an actual face-to-face meeting with my manager today, so I’ve been working on questions to ask and topics to discuss. Looking forward to hearing feedback on the latest (and hopefully final) rewrite.

This is a great chance for both of us to further explore what we’re both hoping to achieve, and what we can do to get there. Should be interesting.

-Your thoughts on summer movies so far? Hoping to see STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS this week, and looking forward to MAN OF STEEL next week. IRON MAN 3 was fun. No interest whatsoever in HANGOVER 3 or AFTER EARTH.

As much as I enjoy a lot of these fanboy films, it would be nice to see more original stuff (the forthcoming PACIFIC RIM, for example). Sequels, remakes and reboots can only carry you so far.

-The fine folks at United were generous enough to let us use the DirectTV for free on the flight here, so got to see WRECK-IT RALPH again. Still fun. Wish they’d do that all the time.

How much is too much?

A scene could be wafer-thin but still be potentially harmful
This slightly expository scene is practically wafer-thin. What harm could it do?

The rewrite continues, with some of the suggested changes being implemented.

Some, not all.

I take each suggestion into heavy consideration.  First and foremost – will it make the story better?

There’s no argument about some of them. They work, and that’s it.

There are the ones that are “maybe”. Purely optional.

Fortunately, there aren’t any that are straight-out “no”.

It’s the ones that suggest going into more detail (tell us more about this world you’ve created, explain why a character acts like they do, etc.) that are giving me pause.

I understand the reasoning behind this, but my concern is putting in too much information that it bogs down the whole thing. I’m as much for explaining things as much as the next writer, but I don’t want to overdo it.

I’d much rather leave a little to the audience’s imagination, rather than bombarding them with why things are happening.

Think of it this way: the flux capacitor makes time travel possible. Do you need to know how it works?

I suspect my subconscious creativeness let it’s two cents be known by coming up with a wonderfully bad joke to explain something. My initial response is to take it out, but it may actually be just what the scene needs.

-Movie of the Moment – The trailer for the next Percy Jackson movie came out earlier this week (hitting theatres in August), so now V is splitting her time between reading the book it’s based on and watching PERCY JACKSON AND THE LIGHTNING THIEF (2010) again.

I don’t have anything against the movie. It’s adequate popcorn fare with excessive CG (which this kind of story couldn’t be told without), and V likes it.  The more I think about it, the whole franchise just feels like a semi-successful attempt to be the next Harry Potter.

We also checked out the trailer for PACIFIC RIM, which has growing potential to be a family outing to our local theatre this summer.