Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Lest anyone think that a writing gig is going straight to my head, I was brought back down to Earth somewhat by BlueCat's first round of cuts. Of which, my submission was one and I won't be moving on to the next rounds. Maybe it's some measure of progress that I hadn't even thought about the results until the email popped up in my inbox. Nor was it entirely unexpected as I think I've taken that script about as far as I can go in its current iteration. Now it's Steve Austin time: I can rebuild it; I have the technology. I expect a similar response shortly from Nicholl but if I get anything more promising, all the better. For anyone interested in doing some serious bionic rewriting on their scripts, BlueCat now has a screenwriting lab competition as well. Detailed analysis and feedback from veteran screenwriters, directors, and producers. A table read by real live actors. Pitch prep and other amazing benefits to the lucky recipients. Early deadline ($40 entry fee) is August 1; regular deadline (um, also $40) is September 1, late deadline ($50) is October 1.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The happiest sound in all the world

The hundredth post. An arbitrary demarcation for blogging milestones but one that coincides with an actual milestone in my own screenwriting career. By way of Salzburg and the Hollywood Bowl. Two years ago, when I was still practicing law in Baltimore, I saw that Sing Alonga Sound of Music was coming to the Bowl that summer.

For those who have never been, Sing Alonga Sound Music is like Rocky Horror for Julie Andrews fans. More than just a screening of the 1965 film, all the Rogers & Hammerstein-penned songs have the lyrics thrown up on the screen, karaoke style. Enabling audience members to, as the name suggests, sing along. Many audience members also dress up as their favorite Von Trapp, other characters from the film, or eve inanimate object, e.g., whiskers on kittens, snowflakes that stay on your nose and eyelashes, schnitzel with noodles. The non-costumed audience gets to choose the best costume by way of applause during the pre-show costume parade (this edition's victor? How Do You Hold a Moonbeam in Your Hand, pictured on the left). And then lots of other fun audience participation moments, like booing the Nazis, hissing The Baroness, and general MST3Kish riffing.

I first witnessed the spectacle several years ago, at the Prince Charles Cinema in London, where it originated. For all the mocking of the movie's often corny dialogue and melodrama, the people who turn out don't seem to have the same ironic detachment from the songs, which everyone sings with genuine affection. Altogether, a lot of fun for fans of the movie and I was sure to catch it again in D.C. when they started screenings over here. So when I saw that it was coming to the Bowl in 2005, and never having been to Los Angeles before, I thought it a perfect chance to kill two geese the fly with the moon on their wings with one stone. Then I got the news that I was leaving the firm I was working for. Although I wasn't able to make the trip then, that was the catalyst for my decision to move here and pursue screenwriting full time. Two years on, here I am.

Then, last weekend, back to the Bowl comes Julie et al. But now I'm in LA with a year under my belt. And, as of the week before, officially a paid screenwriter (there must be something in the scribosphere water these days). The amount is small (not disqualified from Nicholl yet) and the job is an assignment (nobody's bought anything of mine yet) but it is a paying job, which is a start. How did I get it? An actor client of the small marketing company I've been working for needed someone to help him flesh out some ideas for a couple scripts he hopes to produce. I wrote up an abbreviated treatment for the first story gratis, which, in a perfect world, I probably shouldn't have done. But he seemed to like the take. Enough to hire me to write up the other script anyway, a period biopic. At least in this case for me, being in LA was invaluable in making the contacts that lead to the work. So now that agreements have been signed and commencement fees have been paid, the only thing left to do is to do the research and put pixel to laptop screen to crank out the pages.

But this isn't the part of Sound of Music where Maria and The Captain lead the family over the Alps into safety. More like the moment that she's just landed the nanny gig but doesn't have a clue as to what plans the Von Trapp children have in store for her. I simply remember my favorite things and then I don't feel so bad. The power of Julie is not to be trifled with.