Future Man: Actors as Directors–Sometimes it works

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On occasion, I am privy to things in the course of my day job working as an on-set medic. I am the fly on the wall on film and television sets, there in case something bad happens, but, more often than not, just handing out Advil and Band Aids. This situation affords me the opportunity to observe multiple aspects of production life that most people don’t get to witness. I’ll not be getting into any deep, dark secrets or juicy gossip here (we all sign hefty non-disclosure agreements before every shoot), but having recently worked on a show with a well-known actor directing, I did want to give credit where credit is due.

Most people know Seth Rogen as a jolly, bearded stoner guy from myriad comedies. His laugh and voice are unmistakable, and his delivery is unique. Less-known (the joy of being behind-the-scenes) is his writing/producing/directing partner, Evan Goldberg, a childhood friend with whom he has worked for years. Superbad? He wrote it. Sausage Party? Likewise. The guy has pretty substantial comedy chops, is my point. When these two work together, it’s a rare situation where the separate elements of a team truly do function as a complementary unit.danny-mcbride-evan-goldberg-seth-rogen

The other day I was called to cover a few shifts on the upcoming Hulu show Future Man, a comedy starring Josh Hutcherson as a janitor and world-class gamer who is chosen by mysterious beings to travel through time to prevent mankind’s extinction. I’d never heard of it (there is always something new in the works in LA) but from what I saw in my short stint on the show, it looks to be damn funny, with awesome action to boot. And that’s what I wanted to discuss.

A lot of actors and writers with a track record in those areas are given directing gigs as appeals to their vanity, but with no real skill or experience in that role backing the decision. thumbnail-cdeab255fd2375819b7c0ffd286c57b4When that happens, more often than not, the director of photography steps in and does the heavy lifting while the neophyte director sits back and takes the credit.

This was not the case with Seth and Evan.

I cannot tell you (okay, I can, since I am writing this after all) how refreshing it was to witness such a smoothly-functioning team. This was an instance where both individuals worked in symbiosis, effortlessly communicating tweaks and adjustments to actors and department heads as needed, and all while getting a metric shit-ton of work done. For those in the industry, I’ll say this: 48 setups in a day. With action. With stunts. With effects. With kids. With a technocrane. For those not in the industry, here’s a translation: Holy shit that’s a lot of work crammed into a day.Screen Shot 2017-06-29 at 6.32.40 AM

When a director knows what they want, can clearly explain what they need, and has the confidence to move on after a single take if they got their shot… well, it’s a beautiful thing. Seth and Evan accomplished that with style, and it was amazing to see. I’ve been in the industry a long time, and let me tell you, it’s rare to see this efficiency. What made it stand out was the utter confidence in their vision, as well as faith in their team. DP Cort Fey and his camera team (awesome folks with whom I worked previously on The Last Ship) are rock stars, and the communication and trust on display was a master class in how you’d like to see directors, actors, and camera all fit together like a well-tuned engine.

Complex action shots were nailed in one take. Not only because the talent and crew achieving them were skilled (they most certainly are), but also because Seth and Evan knew when they got what they needed. None of the dreaded time and morale killing phrases like, “Great, one more!” Or, “Perfect! One more for safety!” No. When they got it, they moved on to the next shot. A sign of a confident director, and quite a contrast from those who waste buckets of money shooting twenty takes of every size and every angle just because they don’t know what they want/need. It’s enough to drive any editor mad.eiseinstein_1928_editing_octoberAnd let me tell ya, I’ve seen the worst of that first-hand on other gigs. Like the unnamed showrunner who can write and produce, but certainly not direct (though his staff would never tell him even as he went $250k over budget in a single day.) Or the music video director given a feature… only to work the crew to death with his indecisiveness as he literally played other directors’ films on his laptop behind the camera to try to copy shots as he went.

To Seth and Evan I must give massive kudos. kudos-barThey seem like really quality dudes who also happen to be rock-solid in their behind-the-lens skills. As a crewmember who has seen a lot, working with such positive energy people who were also really good at what they do… well, despite the long hours, it was an absolute joy. That goofy stoner dude is a really good director. Who knew?

Now go see Future Man when it comes out later this year. It looks like it’ll be a blast, and I say that as a guy with zero fucks to give when it comes to critique. I have no horse in this race, it just looks like a cool show. I hope they prove me right.

Fraturday

exhaustedwoman_illussmaller1In the film and TV industry, there exists a thing of pure evil. A word that makes grown men shudder. An event that chills even the stoutest of hearts. This thing is called Fraturday.

Crew members are accustomed to working long hours, sometimes upwards of seventy or more in a week (I’ve done days over 25 hours, and weeks over 80, and boy-howdy it sucked!), but despite that hardiness of spirit, when it gets later and later towards the end of the week, we all hope to avoid the horror of Fraturday.

What is Fraturday? That terrible mingling of Friday and Saturday. The loss of your entire weekend to a work schedule that sees you beginning your day on Friday, and getting off work early Saturday, sometimes after the sun comes up.fraturday_rectangle_sticker

As you can imagine, this leaves you a shell of yourself, only wanting to sleep and recover over your briefest of weekends. Social life? Forget it. Maybe you’re somewhat rested by Sunday. Then on Monday you start over again… at 6am. Yes, you heard the madness right. You get off work at 6am Saturday and start work at 6am Monday. Some shows even do this multiple weekends in a row (and occasionally have a crew mutiny).

So the next time you find yourself miserable at the prospect of another eight or nine hour day in a non-industry job, just take a deep breath and remember, at least you don’t have the misery of Fraturday.

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Pitfalls of Shooting Digital

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Now that digital has more or less caught up to shooting on film, though some purists will still argue that digital isn’t quite there yet and that film looks better, we see many of the constraints of working with film gone, only to be replaced with problems of a new sort.

Exhausting the actors.

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When mags of film would roll out and require a reload, directors were forced to better plan what they wanted and then do their best to capture it efficiently. Unless you were a big production, the cost of film alone prevented doing massively long takes and shooting a dozen different angles just to have more to play with in the edit. Indecisiveness and lack of clear vision was shunned. Unfortunately now with the leeway of digital, we see dozens of takes from a multitude of angles as clarity of vision is often replaced with a wing-it “let’s try this” approach. Actors love to get to try different things, and many times that produces pure gold, but when this new flexibility is abused, actors can get worn down. An entire day shooting a 3 page scene over and over and over would tire even the most seasoned actor, and performances start to drop off. Then there’s crew. They get far less turnaround between days than actors do (9 hours on stage and 10 hours on location, including drive time home and back to work the next day… Teamsters only get 8) and safety and productivity can suffer greatly as your crew wears out. nap on set

Running up the budget.

Another problem stemming from the overshooting/underplanning issue is one directors often ignore, but one that keeps producers awake at night. Budget.

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Paying an entire crew for those extra few hours tacked on to each day because of a less constrained process can cost tens of thousands of dollars an hour. IATSE film crews get time and a half after 8 hours, which they almost always go past. Once you pass 12 hours your crew goes into double-time. If you go long, you’ve essentially hired an entire second crew (money-wise) for each hour you go over, yet you still get the output of one crew, and that’s an increasingly tired crew at that. Then factor in meal penalties (a union crew must be broken for meals every 6 hours, otherwise they are paid a penalty every half hour, which can really add up) and costs skyrocket. One way to avoid running long is by tacking on additional days to keep the overtime low, but we’ve seen in countless times, if you give an extra few days leeway, the 10 hour days will still often creep up to 14 or 16 hours, and now you’ll just have more of those overtime days rather than actually cutting costs.  Adult Supervision (i.e. a producer with balls to stand up to the director when need be) is vital on a set where money is an issue.

Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 1.21.05 PMIf you’re shooting on location, you may have to pay the location, neighbors, traffic control, security, rental bathrooms, and other equipment for extended hours as well. Long story short(ish), if you don’t rein in your director the budget can go out the window.

Those poor editors.

I worked a project recently that shot back-to-back takes of 38 minutes and 42 minutes with two cameras operating. That’s 160 minutes of footage shot in 80 minutes of work. These were unusually long takes, but are indicative of what can happen when a director goes off-book. The five most dangerous words in Hollywood are, “Hey, I have an idea.”

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If a director shoots with two cameras and averages three 10 minute takes per setup, then shoots sixteen setups per day on a 30 day shoot, you’re looking at (roughly) 16 hours of footage a day, or 480 hours of footage at the end of 30 days. That’s a month of non-stop viewing on an 18 hour day schedule, not including the actual act of editing.

Now consider that continuous rolls means no slate to break up the action and mark a moment. Unless the director is very good at telling the script supervisor which moments they really like on the fly as they happen, the director and editor will later have to re-watch all that footage to find what they want to use, searching for that needle in a haystack. Amusingly I’ve heard from several editors that almost always in this situation the director will use the first take that they come across that they like, even if there may have been something amazing further down the line.   needle haystack man

I love digital. I believe digital opens up many opportunities to be creative and efficient, but it is also important to not allow the benefits of shooting digital be erased by poor filming practices. Directors need adult supervision to keep them from shooting 2 hours of insert shots of hands from 7 different angles. I’ve seen a director (who happened to be the showrunner, so he got away with it) shoot multiple masters from different angles. The guy had so little clue how to shoot or what he wanted, he was just getting a master, then closer, then closer, then closer from every angle. no_idea_by_workisnotajobIt was a shit-show and the actors (not to their head honcho’s face of course) were even breaking composure and bitching about it.

Use digital as the amazing tool it is, but plan ahead and use it well. If you treat digital like film and follow at least some of the same production practices (for the most part, after all, flexibility of digital is a big plus) then you should still be quite able to shoot excellent material at a much lower cost in terms of money, time, and frustration, than film.

Lastly, Always Remember the 5 P’s: 

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Entertainment, a New Youth-Driven Paradigm

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Adaptation is something species do over many generations, but in the entertainment industry, especially in recent years, advances in viewing technology have been arriving at a speed that seems to outpace many attempts to keep up. If adaptation in this arena is too slow, any such slowly adapting product or service will rapidly find itself in the crosshairs of something beyond simply being forced to change faster, namely the likelihood of a newcomer providing a stand-alone replacement.

In the current booming environment of startups and tech-pioneers, if a solution to a problem doesn’t exist, rather than wait for that product or service to be rolled out by the establishment, people are now far more capable of putting in some effort and sweat to build it themselves, often creating a livelihood providing to others what they originally made for themselves. This is even more true today than in the past as huge segments of the younger population are shaping the discussion by simply ignoring what they are told they can and cannot do and are instead just doing it to a level that would make Nike proud.

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Now how does this tie in to entertainment? We all know that the largest segment of traditional “Hollywood” is still largely run by well-entrenched establishment executives with long track records and huge budgets, but it seems they are often not doing terribly well at keeping up with changes in the market. What they see as “emerging trends” to study and track, I would rather tend to call paradigm shifts in production, distribution, and viewing.

There is now a generation that has never had to watch a full-length commercial. A group who doesn’t watch movies in theaters, but rather on giant home entertainment systems with incredible sound systems. And of course the portable content viewers, for whom watching a video or show on their laptop, tablet, or even cell phone is as natural as walking to class. To them those statements are obvious and self-evident, but to the less bleeding edge execs, what is as plain as day to younger people often needs to be spelled out for the older ones.

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The thing is, much of the content younger audiences are being marketed from main stream sources still comes from those who watch movies in theaters, who grew up on a few dozen channels of TV, and who are reluctant to let go of the old way of thinking that several minute commercials blocks breaking up a show is the natural way to pay for production.

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The marketplace is full of people who have, in their pockets, access 24/7 to a huge variety of content, most of it largely if not entirely commercial free. The commercials they do find themselves forced to sit through are tiny snippets and not 2-4 minute blocks. YouTube, Hulu, Vimeo and the like offer bite-size entertainment with minimal ad interruptions, and much of it is produced by peers rather than out of touch studio heads.

It is likely that for the foreseeable future there will continue to be a solid demand for high-end, high-production value product. Even with home studio technology, you just can’t produce The Avengers or Harry Potter on a C-300 or GoPro, but there are a ton of great films and programs being made for a limited budget which have surprisingly good production value. Conversely, free is not always better, and a lot of really bad filler material is out there as well. While quality sometimes rises to the top, the sheer amount of product out there requires a bit of sifting to discover the hidden gems. Fortunately an active social media network can help steer like-minded people to entertainment they’d likely enjoy. We saw it happen with music, and it is happening more and more with other entertainment as well.

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Anyone with a camera can make a short, shoot a movie, or put out a show, and many of the more talented content creators make a very good living off of viewer donations and views/ad revenue shares. The donation aspect is particularly worth noting. If you produce a product people like, the younger generation has really latched onto something great, namely supporting the content you like directly. I don’t only mean a Go Fund Me or Kickstarter campaign, but just chipping in on a case by case basis. A dollar a month to support a show you enjoy times several thousand supporting viewers can effectively let the viewing audience become the defacto producers of a show. It’s crowd sourcing at its best. No middle men re-directing funds to their pet projects, no great shows canceled by an out of touch executive (ahem, Firefly). The audience speaks with their dollars, and when directly helping those who give them what they enjoy for less than the price of a cup of coffee, many have no qualms about chipping in and supporting shows they enjoy.

Just look at how successful Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion were with their crowdfunded series Con Man.

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Yup, they raised over $3 million on their Indiegogo campaign.

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A final thing to consider is that with GoPro and Blackmagic making amazing and affordable cameras that shoot amazing HD footage and are within reach of a lot of aspiring directors and cinematographers, it is rapidly becoming a time when anyone can become a content creator, and what will set them apart is no longer the ability to somehow afford a great camera but rather the eye and skill of the shooter behind it.

7 Simple Ways to Cut Film Production Costs

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If you’ve worked on a show, you’ve likely seen financial waste of varying degrees, from minor wobbles to downright trainwrecks. While sometimes sh*t happens and production just has to deal with it and carry on, more often than not a lot of terrible budget-suck can be avoided. Here are a few tips that apply to many situations (keeping in mind there is no one-size-fits-all method). Paying attention to a few key details can help on your quest to make a good product while staying within budget.

  1. Reign in your director.

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Now the director makes the piece what it is, be it a feature film or a 30 second TV spot. Without them you don’t get your project completed, but that doesn’t mean giving them free reign. Everyone who’s worked more than a day in the industry has likely heard the term “Adult Supervision” muttered around an uncontrolled set, and let me tell you, it’s incredibly important if you want to keep runaway production costs from spiraling out of control.

Producers are there to say no. Someone must wear the black hat. Not always mind you, but their job is to look out for the good of the project and play bad cop when need be. At hour 17 when a director is on his 35th take of an insert shot that could be picked up by 2nd unit, that’s an easy example of when a producer must pull the plug. Unfortunately people want to be liked and often are reluctant to be that guy, but if you put on the producer hat, you have to accept that some days you won’t be terribly liked. Suck it up and keep your project (and budget) on track.

  1. Reign in rampaging actors (when possible).

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Ok, actors are a unique bunch. Folks make fun of them, but when you really consider what they must do to put on a good performance, a bit of flexibility is warranted. I mean let’s not forget Lawrence Fishburn and Hugo Weaving’s epic fight in The Matrix. Even after 16+ hours, bangs & bruises, and horrible allergies from all the dust, they acted like pros and made the fight look amazing.

Here’s the but. BUT, everything is on a schedule and every extra minute spent on something that should be otherwise completed is costing the production money. Be it demanding frivolous alternate takes, or refusing to come out of the trailer while the whole crew is standing around waiting, once again it is the producer’s job to play bad cop, albeit with kid gloves more often than not. I should also mention that I wholeheartedly support shooting extra takes when an actor has interpretations of scenes they want to try, so long as it really may add to the scene and won’t cost the production tens of thousands in overages in the process..

One notable exception to this is when the actor is also the financier. I once worked on a ridiculous film where come shooting call we were looking for the lead. “Ready to shoot” the AD said. “Oh, he went to Texas to do a concert.” Yep, the talent/financier left and didn’t tell anyone. “Ok, we’ll shoot the other parts of the scenes.” “Um, those were all his posse… they went with him.” A quandry, but not insurmountable. “Ok, we’ll shoot the actor who isn’t in his crew.” “Yeah, about that, he heard they were going to Texas, so he flew to Ohio.”

It was the only time I got paid to sit and play Scrabble on set for 8 hours as production tried to figure out literally anything they could shoot. In the end it was one POV shot of someone’s boots… worn by the producer.

  1. Plan ahead. For real, DO THIS.

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Showing up and winging it may work on a student film, but if every minute costs hundreds or thousands of dollars, you’d better damn well know what you’re doing next. This is where pre-production is vital, as is location scouting with the director and their keys. A little forethought can save you literally hours of paying a crew to stand twiddling their thumbs on the clock while ideas are bounced around.

The time for brainstorming is before you have the crew on the clock. I’ve worked with directors who will change their shots for that day’s work, but there are two types. There’s the type who torpedoes the schedule and budget in doing so, and there’s the type who knows that they want to make changes and shows up early, walking the sets and planning their changes before the crew is even ready. The latter is a sign of professionalism, and trust me the crew notices these things.

Remember the 6 P’s: Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.”

  1. Find ways to reduce needless complexity.

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A lengthy scene with 6 people can eat up your whole day, but can some of those characters not be in the scene? Can their dialogue be spoken by another character, thus reducing the number of shots and coverage needed? Can they be out of the room, perhaps even answering from off screen? What can you do to keep the integrity of the scene while reducing its complexity and schedule demands?

Coverage can be death in crowded scenes. If you start doing multiple coverage angles at multiple sizes for multiple characters, pretty soon you’ll not only burn through most of the day shooting the same scene over and over, but you’ll also eventually start to burn your actors out as well. Now sometimes it must be done, and everyone appreciates and understands that, but when it is frivolous, all it does is burn time, money, and patience.

  1. Do not shoot multiple masters.

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Want to piss off your actors and crew, waste time, and look like an amateur? Shoot hours of multiple masters from multiple angles before moving in to coverage. The master should be just that, a master, from which you then get into the meat of the scene with coverage. Shooting multiple masters screams out “I didn’t plan this and am winging it!” Don’t be that person. If you’re truly making it up as you go, the crew and actors will know, and they will lose respect for you eventually. Even if the end result is amazing, you can’t do it often. It is morale killing to spend a 15 hour day on set that could have been 10 just because someone was indecisive and unprepared.

  1. Keep dolly and crane shots within reason.

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Giving a director toys to play with can produce some amazing shots, but it can also cost the production tens of thousands in overages. This comes back to the idea of planning out your day. If you have a dolly shot planned for the morning and a crane shot for the afternoon, great, but if you have those tools and just start making things up it is going to derail your schedule faster than an Amtrak (sorry Amtrak).

This is where dialogue between the “Adults” (remember the term “Adult Supervision”?) and the director. Sometimes for a great bit of inspiration you have to suck it up and get the shot if it is truly worth it. A lot of amazing material has been filmed because of inspiration on the day. The key is knowing when to let them run with it and when to reign it in. Toys are fun to play with, but every dolly, crane, or drone shot requires a lot of time to set up. It’s tough, but this is where the producer must make judgment calls and hope their decision was the right one.

  1. Storyboard if you can afford it.

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Ok, I may be a bit biased, my cousin, Tony Liberatore, (not his board shown above) is an amazing storyboard artist who comes up with brilliant shots and transitions on the fly for some of the biggest films out there (Fast and Furious, Captain America, and many more). The thing is, a good storyboard artist will help a director approach the day with a concrete plan. A course of action. A visual map of what they MUST get that day. If they can get more, fantastic, but the storyboard really helps keep the production on track.

Paul Hunter is a music video director whose shoots I’ve worked on in the past, and let me tell you that man is meticulous in his storyboarding. Now we all know music video shoots are almost always ridiculously long days, but Paul is a rarity in that he not only gets every single shot on his boards, but once he has them he then gets additional shots he’s come up with if reasonable given the schedule. His work ethic is impressive, and it shows in the smoothness of his shoots. It’s also a big reason so many of us loved working with him, it’s always a pleasure working with a pro.

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Even if you forget everything you’ve just read, try to keep this one thought in your head: Whether you work on tiny productions or massive projects, every minute wasted is money wasted, and boy does it add up. Strive to make every minute count and you’ll not only save money, but will also most likely find your project will go smoother in nearly all respects.

Be sure to check out my Pulse articles on LinkedIn

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Tax Benefits Shooting Film in the UK

Everyone is looking for a deal, an incentive, a tax credit, something to help them get their project made, be it in the swamps of Louisiana or the wilderness of New Zealand. For those filming in the UK, the incentives currently available there seem quite attractive.

Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme, aka SEIS

The SEIS is designed to help small production investors realize tax savings. £100k or less in shares can have 50% deducted. Additionally if you hold the shares for 3 or more years and have made a profit, that profit will be free from Capital Gains tax. It’s a fantastic way to fund a project and immediately cut your risk in half.

Enterprise Investment Scheme, aka EIS

The EIS is the big brother of the SEIS, and investors can realize tax savings of 30% on amounts up to £1,000,000 in shares. As with the SEIS, if Capital Gains are realized after a minimum of 3 years, they will be tax free. While tax savings are 30% rather than 50%, you can invest up to 10x the amount as SEIS and still receive a tax write-off.

UK Cultural Tax Rebates

For culturally UK films a tax rebate is available for up to 25% of the production budget, up to £20 million, to qualifying production companies. What this means is when the production company files its tax return, it can claim a cash refund of up to 25% of qualifying expenditures (such as pre-production, principal photography, and post-production). Development and marketing are not included as qualifying expenses.

With incentives like these, the UK saw a 35% increase in overall film/tv spending in 2014.

Obviously there is a tremendous amount of information not covered here, and this is not intended as legal or tax advice. Seek out investment counsel or tax professionals before making any financial decisions.

Productive Screenwriting – Avoiding 1st Draft Pitfalls

Pitfall!

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First off, I’m sure I’m going to piss off a few ‘experts’ when I say this, but it is my sincere belief that there really is no right or wrong way to write. For the most part at least. A screenplay consisting entirely of page-long run-on sentences would be pretty horrible, though someone may write one some day and prove me wrong.

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Outlines and idea notes are the most common tool for laying out the basics of a story before you get to the actual writing of it. Some may write meticulously detailed outlines while others (myself included) prefer a more basic outline of the key themes, characters and ideas and what order they’d work well in. There are myriad programs to help with the process, or you can do it the old-fashioned way with cards or Post-it notes.

As old-school as it may be, I actually like using Post-its as I can quickly move scenes around on the large wall mirror I use, allowing me to see every scene and descriptions of it with just a single glance. I use different color notes for different times of day to more easily visualize that aspect of the story. Some find it easier to switch pages on a computer screen, and the ability to take that with you via laptop is certainly an advantage, but physical cards are kinetic and I find them more conducive to creativity (for me). I also prefer to do the core of my writing in one place, so the need to move my Post-its doesn’t typically arise.

AP_NYC_train_derailment_jt_131130_16x9_992Others utilize a Train of Thought method, opting to go with the flow and see what comes of it. While this can be a fun way to write, it does tend to lead to a lot of revisions as completion more often than not follows a very windy road rather than a sleek expressway. Anyone who has decided to “just write” with no plan and see where it goes likely has the same story we’ve read time and again, the one with their train of thought derailing like an Amtrak traveling in a straight line (and why is it rollercoasters stay on track but Amtrak seems to flip with nary a curve in the line?) Writers who do this often send their formerly interesting characters on random side trips that ultimately detract from the story.

These exercises in tangential writing often lead to some interesting ideas that may ultimately find a place somewhere, perhaps in a later creation, but the story at hand most often becomes a jumbled mess in need of serious revision. Having a plan, even the most basic one, helps you stay on track and not waste days or weeks chasing the dragon of new ideas that don’t fit in the concept of what you set out to write.

200474875-001Then there are the Meticulous Rewriters. You know who you are, the ones who edit as they go, unable to leave a sentence on the page unless it is perfect. We’ve all been guilty of it at one time or another, getting so wrapped up with making every single word count that we don’t see the forest for the trees. Unfortunately this leads to what I call Hitting the Perfection Wall, where one imperfect sentence can bring an unfinished script to a screeching halt. Quality writing and the exquisite turn of a phrase are certainly ideals to strive for, but that is not what anyone should be focusing on in their first draft unless they want to be one of those writers who puts out one completed work every few years or so. Over-correcting and constant tweaking/editing can derail actual writing. Get that first draft written, you can edit and tweak to your heart’s content once that is accomplished.

edvard munch1Like a painter creating a body of work for an upcoming exhibit, sometimes you have to put a piece aside and stop tweaking it or you’ll have nothing to show but just one piece that’s never finished. Crank out a body of work and you’ll have a lot of things to revisit and rewrite.

Now in the sea of tips, tricks, and advice out there (mine included) there are many methods that may work well for your particular style. Experiment, try things out, just keep in mind that no matter a blog creator or writing expert’s credentials and bona fides, you don’t have to conform to someone else’s structure if it doesn’t work for you. Some people swear by Save the Cat, others abhor it. Choose what works best for you.

In the quest for a great story, I am certainly guilty of leaving drafts unfinished, though that typically stems from working 60 to 70 hour weeks on set in my “day job”, leaving little brain power to write. This is why I carry notepads, rapidly filled full of outlines, ideas, dialogue and scenes that I hope to have time to fully explore during a break. One such notepad became my Knight Resurrected screenplay first draft in just 5 days during the downtime between shows. For me the outline first then write process works well. But don’t take my word for it, I’m just a guy on the internet, giving my 2 cents worth.

One un-related bit of advice:

Don’t be ashamed to say “I’m a writer.” There’s a lot of negativity placed on saying “I’m an actor/musician/writer/artist” if you aren’t successful yet, but just because you might not be in the .0001% who make a living at it does not lessen or invalidate what you do. I tell people I’m a writer, albeit unproduced, who also works below the line, though I’d prefer to write for a living. There’s no shame in a day job. Very few people make a living from their artistic endeavors, and several amazing artists I know still work other jobs when not selling paintings for thousands of dollars. A paycheck doesn’t define you.

Now go write!