[common sense, in retrospect]
I love having epiphanies. I miss my early twenties when it seemed like I was having an epiphany every couple days. The ones that I’ve loved the most were the ones that seemed in retrospect to be obvious. When a complex line of problems can be resolved by a simple, concise idea that once under your fingers feels like it’s been there patiently waiting for your realization. Those are the magnificent realizations.
I had one of those today.
I’m currently working on a crime drama script. Part of my Rolling Fours project, which I’ll get to explaining later as I learn more about how it succeeds and fails. It’s an interesting script. I dig the fundamental concept, though it’s a little more complex than I’m able to currently summarize down into a simple log line. The story is big and I’m somewhat concerned the first draft page count is going to be north of 150.
Tonally, there are aspects of Asian crime drama in there. New World and Infernal Affairs come to mind. I’ve been casually referring to a character that currently doesn’t have a name as Uncle Ji, in reference to Anthony Wong’s character from Tsui Hark’s Time and Tide. Every single time I wrote down or thought Uncle Ji it was followed with the feeling that the character couldn’t actually be called Uncle Ji.
If I’m being honest here, the reality is that this script is never going to be made. Even if it ever approaches being made, it’s not going to be made in the same format of whatever draft I finally settle on. Movies never are. So, if that’s the case then what’s the harm in calling the character Uncle Ji?
For that matter, what’s the harm in just having some fucking fun with it. There’s so much potential for steering this thing into avenues where a modest budget just isn’t going to cut it. I was avoiding those avenues to keep the film’s overall cost low. If it isn’t ever going to be filmed then who gives a shit? A film that never gets made is free. If I can call a character Uncle Ji then I can write scenes in unreasonably expensive settings and action pieces with dozens and dozens of people and weapons. I can do whatever I want. If I want to turn this shit into John Woo meets Michael Bay for the last 30 pages I can. I won’t, but I could.
That simple realization has made an already enjoyable project better.
david shute - 15.05.13 @ 23:15 - permalink
A couple months ago I took part in the Ed Video screenwriting challenge. Much like weekend film challenges, competitors were given a criteria and short time frame to come up with a short screenplay. My entry, A Plague of Worms, ended up taking the jury prize. This left me with a $200 production rental package with no intention to actually film anything.
I’d stopped working on film projects a couple years ago. The reasons to do so were good, but they were also temporary. As the majority of those reasons have minimized or gone away entirely it seemed like a really good opportunity to get back into it.
A Plague of Worms isn’t something I honestly think I could film appropriately right now. Instead, I pulled out an existing script that’s been kicking around since 2004, Bad Kitty. It’s a very basic script playing off the slasher genre and mocking the cat scare trope. As of right now, it’s still really early in preproduction. While the script has been rewritten and tweaked there’s still a bit of work to do on it. While I’m going through and working out my shots, so I can start in on the storyboards proper, I’m seeing some areas that still need finesse.
Equipment shouldn’t be a problem. I have easy access to the majority of the equipment I need. With the production package I can rent what I can’t easily access. I have locations. I think I have an editor as well. All that’s left is to get all the preproduction materials together, figure out a shooting schedule, and get a proper cast and crew.
david shute - 06.05.13 @ 22:52 - permalink
I just finished off a quick read through of the feature script I finished writing in April. Nothing special in the read through, just ploughing through it in an effort to correct some of the stupider things that crop up in first pass writing. After having this script on my plate, unfinished, for a couple of years a draft is now done and it’s been mailed away. It is complete, pending any rewrites that might come back. I’m not entirely sure if that will happen. It may simply end up being the wrong script at the wrong time. If that’s the case, I’m cool with that. I’m glad to have to gotten something done.
Now that the slasher script is done I’ve got the leeway to move on to something else. That’s exactly what I’m planning to do. There’s this huge part of me that just wants to do horror. When I look back over the scripts that I’ve written only four of eleven feature scripts are actually horror. The first is a bad haunting film with the potential to be much better, the second is zombies, the third is a sequel to the zombies and the fourth was written on request. That leaves me with crime drama, a romantic drama, comic book/action, and a weird drama/horror/fantasy (the good kind, not the elves and LARPing kind) hybrid.
I dig horror and I do write horror, but I’m much more interested in writing darkness into scripts than I am writing scripts solely about darkness. I have two new projects on the brain that I want to get working on. Both are more crime drama than anything else that, like most of what I write, have an undercurrent of horror to them. I think that’s what drives my writing. I also think it’s what gets the best quality work when I sit down at the keyboard. That sorted, all that’s left to do is write.
With that in mind I have a new plan. I think it’s better than the old one (of not having a plan), but I’m still working out the finer points on it. I’m also trying to figure out if the plan actually works. Sadly, I don’t have much more to say about it other than the basic name I’ve been calling it by, Rolling Fours.
Once those details get a little more explicit and I have a better idea of the consistency of the plan I’ll have more to say about it.
david shute - 01.05.13 @ 22:43 - permalink
[the cycle begins… again]
It seems like I’m always stuck in this little roundabout, doing the same things over and over again. I don’t know why I’m so apt to do so (poor attention span/novelty seeking personality), but here I am again. I’m not going to pretend like it’s going to stick this time (though I totes swear it will), but here I am again.
I started a feature script for an acquaintance a couple years ago. I had sent a email that basically amounted to the following.
I’ve started working on that project. I’m about to get scripting off the outline, but I had a question. I’d really like you to answer this question before I get started.
I sent that email off and patiently waited for a response… that never came.
A couple months ago I was checking through my mail client, I almost always use the web UI/mobile for email, and noticed I had an item in my drafts folder. It became abundantly clear why I never received a response.
I got in touch with the person requesting the script. He laughed about as much as I did over it. It’s not high on his list of things anymore, but it’s still something I’d like to get off my plate. I started up working on it again back in March. It was pretty stale, so I took the time to start over and outline the whole thing from memory and tweak some parts. Starting April I began working through a first draft.
As of now, it’s nearly done. I should have the remaining fifteen pages or so done this weekend. The plan is to read it over, do a very rough polish of the draft as it exists and send it off. I know there’s a lot of work to do on this script, but I’m not going to commit to the time to it right now unless I’m requested to do so. I can always pick it up later if there are rewrites to do.
david shute - 19.04.13 @ 22:35 - permalink
Every so often I am compelled to start clearing out the directories on my computer. Ditch what needs to be ditched and organize what does not. This process inevitably leads me to different works in various states. This most recent round and has shown me something I didn’t quite realize.
I wrote a lot last year.
Most of it is in the final stages of editing. Some of it is barely started. Some of it needs a lot of love to start getting anywhere serviceable. There’s still a lot of it. I’m working my way through and figuring out what’s ready to go, what I’m happy with putting more time into, and what projects can be safely labeled abandoned.
Everything that comes out I’m just trying to get out, which means it’s all going over to davidshute.ca. Some of which, my old one act stageplays, already has.
david shute - 13.08.12 @ 21:44 - permalink
This is by no means a new problem. In fact, it’s a problem a lot of teenagers are going to have bite them in the ass in the next five to ten years.
As I attempt to improve within my given occupation I’m working toward placing myself in a career. This particular career is, at high levels, a very public one. Lots of discussion and lots of writing at a professional level. There is an interest in making yourself known as a professional.
I, however, enjoy being transparent about who I am. I’m not really interested in winning over people that may find my sense of humour a bit too over the top or my language to colourful. Outside of work and professional endeavours I’d rather be exactly who I am, damn the consequences.
(That was three Canadian U’s in one paragraph. An American proof reader somewhere is silently dying on the inside, just a little.)
I’m not entirely sure I can do both. Websites are, by their nature, open and indexed and accessible. Even if places I write down my nonsense disappear there’s always Google cache and the Way Back Machine over at archive.org. There is nothing to stop a potential employer from e-stalking the shit out of me.
More to the point, I expect it.
I needed to log into my Facebook account. I’m loathe to even have it, but there was a contact there that I needed. Log in, get the info, log out.
Make Facebook your home page!
It helpfully suggested after I logged out.
I quickly typed this in to twitter.
“Save Facebook as your homepage”… How about I would rather chew syphilis tainted razor blades encrusted in dog shit.
And that’s where I left it. It’s still sitting in the text field, without being submitted. A third of the people following me on twitter are friends. A third are just random folks that follow random folks. A third are in the same professional field.
So what’s the right choice?
david shute - 12.04.12 @ 21:40 - permalink
I realize that I’m likely coming back to an audience of zero. In all honesty, I’ve never even been sure that there was any audience for this site to begin with. (Hi, Mom!) And that’s okay. It’s always been more about documenting things than sharing them with other people. I’d be quite happy if there was an audience for this, but I’m equally content with this being just a place to put down thoughts.
It’s a good thing for me to have. I’ve been writing journals for a very long time now. The biggest problem has always been that I’m not very good at it. Consistency is a huge issue. I have a good number of notebooks kicking around that have a half dozen written entries in them before they were abandoned or repurposed. I’ve also got a couple of plain text files that were created with the best of intentions that are left unloved in some directory I’ve forgotten exists on my computer.
I’m back to writing and that’s the largest reason I’m back to this. I’m going to do things a little bit differently now that I’m back to it again. I’m not going to fall back on old habits where I set project goals and schedules and pack my little life to the gills.
That’s pointless and self defeating for me.
I’m going to start blocking out time where I can say that I will work a specific type of material and, if I’m feeling up to it, I will do just that. If I’ve got time set aside for music and I want to practice an instrument or record something I will. If not, I’ll do something else. That’s the plan. Plan for it, but be flexible.
More importantly, as much as as I’ve been going just fine working nearly exclusively on professional life related things I know that won’t hold. If I continue on the schedule I’ve been on, with the dedication level I’ve been giving, I’m going to burn out. I will get bitter. I will get bored. I don’t want that. Knowing that it will come I can combat it in advance and fix it before it sets in.
I don’t have much of a plan as to what is on the immediate horizon. I have a lot of things I want to do. Rather than committing to any specific thing I’m simply going to do and to be. If something comes out the other end that I’m interesting in sharing then I will happily share it. Otherwise, I’m just going to keep working away and see where it leads.
It beats the alternative of doing nothing. For it being nothing I sure have done a lot of it.
david shute - 11.04.12 @ 21:53 - permalink
Sometime around my last post I started a new job. It’s been quite good. I didn’t realize at my last job how very little software testing I was doing in a software test specialist position. If I had to categorize it I would say that it was more software checking than software testing. My new job has been interesting, engrossing, and educational. As much as there things about my old position I enjoyed, this new position has fired a passion to be great at my job.
To that end I’ve been reading like mad about software testing and some other, related fields. I’ve rejoined the local software quality professional association, gone to meetings, and taken some courses. There’s an upcoming software quality conference that I didn’t want to miss due to not being able to expense it. Instead I volunteered to ensure I’d be able to go.
The flip side to this has been that a huge amount of my focus has been tied up in this endeavour. Between work, family, and studying to be better at my job I’ve been left with little free time except when I can read during lunch and before bed. I’m aiming to change that.
Last month I took a course on black box software testing through the Association for Software Testing. Fantastic course that many have aptly described as ‘drinking from a fire hose’ in terms of the amount of content to absorb within the tight deadlines. It took up an extraordinary amount of time I simply didn’t have. Now that it’s done I’m starting to realize that, overall, I have a bit more time than I thought.
I plan to continue working toward being exceptional at my chosen career. That doesn’t have to come at the expense of writing, music, film, and all the other things in my life that I am passionate* about. Devotion and passion can co-exist, even if they aren’t for the same thing. I’m aiming to ensure that’s the case.
sub* Passion makes no assertions about my ability to adequately perform at any of these activities. /sub
david shute - 10.04.12 @ 22:29 - permalink
I feel like I’m trapped at the moment. A few months back I found a heavy drive to start writing and to move out of my screenplay comfort zone. In that spirit I’ve started several different projects, most of which are in various states of completed drafts. So, while I’ve completely a lot lately, I still don’t have anything to really show for it as I’m going through the process of editing and redrafting in one form or another on every single project.
More frustrating is that I stumbled on a very awesome script idea while I was working on these smaller projects. Six years ago I would have tanked everything I was working on to go chase it. Grown up, responsible me has put it on the back burner to bubble for awhile so I can clean up the projects I have on the go.
All of this means I’m not spending any time doing any “new” writing. It also means that I’m still a distance away from having anything I’m happy releasing. I don’t know when I’m going to be able to start something fresh. It feels like a very long way away and I’m itching to dig into a new project.
david shute - 13.09.11 @ 22:21 - permalink
[nyc midnight micro fiction post mortem]
Realized that I haven’t really updated much as of late. I had intended to do a NYC Midnight Micro Fiction follow up but didn’t actually get around to it. I don’t remember exactly why. Anyway, I made it all the way to the finals. Quick recap. The first round I had to use ‘break’ in my stories. These are my three submitted stories.
The invading aliens can instantly vaporize city a block. How to protect your family after the break.
16 covered trucks coming, their lights off. Break quarantine. We need to get the fuck out of here.
(323) did an eight ball with the point break dude. gonna seduce him in the hot tub. thinking of you.
The last two in that group were selected for the voting for my group to move on. I didn’t actually get voted through. I was saved by the judges. They moved me along based on my final story.
The final round required ‘oxygen’. I didn’t really like the word. It didn’t flow for me. These were my three submissions.
Decedent was testing a homemade jetpack made from a parachute harness, an oxygen tank, and a flare.
So, apparently, they expect me to use oxygen in this competition. Like I’m their trained monkey.
I don’t care if there isn’t any oxygen out there. You can’t tell me where I can go. That’s racist.
I didn’t think any of these were going to get me through to the final voting round. Although I really liked the first and third, I didn’t think either of them were strong enough. The third did actually make it through. I knew, just based off the first round, that I didn’t have enough support to win by vote. I had to hope for the judges to pull me through again.
It was a vain hope.
Still, I’m quite impressed that I was in the finals of a competition I wasn’t expecting to move past the initial slush state.
david shute - 13.09.11 @ 21:35 - permalink