Great article on what being professional is all about, from Script Reader Pro. (See, they even have “pro” in their fecking name!)
by Stephen Stanford
Crafting and planning a screenplay can be a daunting task. Of course, any undertaking in creative writing has an intimidation factor, but screenwriting has an inherent aspect that sets it apart: a lack of freedom.
This isn’t to say that there is a lack of creative freedom—quite the contrary—but there is a definitive, regimented structure that is ingrained into the minds of producers, filmmakers, and audiences alike as to how a cinematic story needs to be told. This makes the screenplay an inherently constrictive medium.
Even after one masters the idiosyncratic formatting, gets comfortable with the present-tense, and trains themselves to “show, not tell”, they’re still going to find themselves struggling to keep their story on target.
A screenplay needs to command attention, move briskly, and not meander. Every stitch of writing needs to be in service of the plot, and the end result has to be just the right length.
For first-time writers, the typical impulse is eschew too much planning of their screenplay, take their idea, dive headfirst into a script editor, and simply wing it.
For a lucky few this method works but, for the rest of us, the result is typically a script that grinds to a halt after thirty-odd pages (or a script that is bloated beyond usability).
Both of these outcomes stem from not understanding the story that you’re trying to tell.
So, how do you blaze the trail that will eventually become your screenplay? How do you plan a screenplay effectively? The answer is committing yourself to doing most of the heavy lifting before you write that first scene heading….
The writer of this article, Julie Isaac, is a friend of LB’s. (Hey Facebook Friends count as friends, right?) Awhile ago, in a meeting, he described reading Ms. Isaac’s work as “transformative.” We didn’t understand then.
Now, after reading this, we do:
Kiss Shy Goodbye
by Julie Isaac
As authors, we want our books to be read. For that to happen, our audience needs to be able to find us. But don’t kid yourself, that’s our job, not theirs. We need to connect with potential readers, and to get them interested in what we have to say. For those of us who would rather write than promote, that can be tough. But it doesn’t have to be.
I remember, years ago, being nervous before doing my first live group coaching call, but I knew the nervousness would pass, and I’d be okay. Not only did I live through it, I thought it was fun.
I wasn’t always that confident. There was a time I was extremely shy.
That’s why I could identify with the people who came on the call, but were too shy to ask a question or share their accomplishments and goals.
Been there. Done that.
And, happily, have left it far behind me.
Being a writer, I had to. Writers are required to balance the inward creative journey with outward promotional responsibilities. Before your book is even written you have to start promoting yourself and building your author’s platform. Then, once your book is published, promoting your book in 1001 different ways begins. And keeps going… and going… and going…
If shyness is what prompted you to look within and become a writer, then it’s been a great gift in your life. But if it’s now getting in the way of your fulfilling your writing dreams because it’s preventing you from stepping into the limelight of self-promotion and book marketing fully and joyfully, then it’s become a problem that you have to face, and deal with.
In my long journey from shy writer to (nearly) fearless promoter, I’ve learned some useful things about the emotional terrain in-between these two energetic opposites, and the mindset you need to have to make the journey.
Here are what I consider to be the four main attitude adjustments needed to turn shy writers into fearless promoters.
Attitude Adjustment #1 Don’t force yourself to do something, when choosing to do it is more empowering
Many shy writers tell me that they have to force themselves to do promotional tasks. The only reason you would ever have to force yourself to do something is that you don’t really want to do it. Unfortunately, forcing yourself to do that thing, anyway, automatically creates resistance, which makes whatever you’re doing—in this case, promoting yourself and your book—that much harder.
If you focus, instead, on the benefits of promotion—on what you want to achieve through it, and why—you’re more likely to feel that you’re choosing to promote yourself, rather than being forced to do it, even if you’re the only one doing the forcing. Feeling forced to do something disempowers you, while making a choice to do it empowers you. The difference between these two—between feeling disempowered and empowered—becomes especially important when the results of your actions affect your livelihood.
All this may feel like nitpicking to you, but mindset matters. Depending upon your mindset, on what you believe and how you feel about whatever you’re doing, the task at hand can be easy or hard. Your mind can be open or closed. Your creativity can be flowing or stuck. And this has an impact on whether your efforts result in failure or success….
In the grand scheme of things – much grander than showbiz – it doesn’t get much more important than this. Submissions close June 29, so this definitely is something to take advantage of ASAP:
by Rachel Montpelier
If you’re a woman or person of color trying to break into unscripted directing, take note: NBC has unveiled the new Alternative Directors Program, the entertainment industry’s first initiative for unscripted series. Designed for women and diverse helmers with at least one directing credit, the program’s goal is to “help feed the pipeline for new talent behind the camera on alternative series.”
Five directors will be selected for the Alternative Directors Program’s inaugural outing. Each will shadow an experienced director for several weeks on an NBC unscripted show — such as “The Voice” or “America’s Got Talent” — including prep, production, and post-production. The program is spearheaded by Meredith Ahr, President, Universal Television Alternative Studio, and Karen Horne, NBC’s Senior Vice President, Programming Talent Development & Inclusion.
“The Alternative Directors Program creates a big opportunity to start changing the unscripted landscape and flip the paradigm on who calls the shots in our industry,” said Ahr. “While much of the conversation around inclusion has been focused on scripted programming, we believe that a big piece of the puzzle is missing without equal concentration on the unscripted space, which makes up a big percentage of what audiences are watching every week,” she explained. “With this program, the goal is to not only give emerging directors the extraordinary opportunity to learn from the best in the business, but also to galvanize the industry as a whole to make strides towards increasing representation behind the camera on alternative series.”…
Thoughtful commentary from The Guardian. No, for reals…we forking mean it!
by Ellen E Jones
f there’s one thing that hit Netflix show The Good Place is absolutely, definitely not about, it’s The State of the World Today. Intentionally, anyway. For one thing, this feelgood sitcom isn’t even set in our world, but in a non-denominational afterlife you might call “Heaven”. This is the Good Place of the title, where Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) finds herself in the show’s opening episode and soon concludes she’s been sent in error.
The Good Place is for the likes of beautiful philanthropist Tahani (Jameela Jamil), silent Buddhist monk Jianyu (Manny Jacinto) and earnest ethics professor Chidi (William Jackson Harper). Eleanor, on the other hand, is the kind of garbage person who reads Celebrity Baby Plastic Surgery Disasters magazine and sells fake medicine to the elderly for a living. Still, understandably, she wants to stay, so spends most of season one trying to keep her secret from Michael (Ted Danson), the angel-architect overseeing the Good Place neighbourhood.
The other point is that The Good Place was midway through its first season on NBC when the 2016 US presidential election took place. Even after the world entered into its Trumpian twilight zone, The Good Place’s showrunner, Michael Schur, was keen to ensure his writing team did not get sidetracked: “We talked a lot in the room about, this is not a show about Donald Trump,” he told New York magazine before the season two premiere last year. “These characters are dead. These characters don’t even know that Donald Trump is president.”
Most importantly, though, The Good Place couldn’t be about Trump, Brexit, Windrush, #MeToo or any other contemporary talking point, because that’s exactly the sort of thing that fans watched the show to escape. While for some, The Handmaid’s Tale was a perfectly timed misery-watch, this show offered the opposite sort of distraction. By 2017, political drama and comedy were on the wane in TV generally, with once-popular shows such as Veep, Scandal and House of Cards all either cancelled or embarking on final seasons. Schur, meanwhile, was known and loved as the creator of optimistic, easy-watching sitcoms that found silliness and fundamental decency in the lives of local government officials (Parks and Recreation) and police officers (Brooklyn Nine-Nine). The Good Place, with its pastel hues and twee, euphemistic cursing was his most whimsically escapist yet.
Or so it seemed, right up until the season one finale, which first aired on 19 January 2017, the night before Trump’s inauguration. This was the episode in which – plot twist! – Eleanor discovered that Michael (Danson) wasn’t an angel-architect, but a demon-bureaucrat who’d been messing with them all along. It wasn’t just Eleanor who belonged in the Bad Place (AKA Hell), but Tahani, Chidi and Jianyu (actually another imposter called Jason) too. And, what’s more, they were already there. They had been obligingly torturing each other as part of Michael’s reality TV-meets-Sartre experiment since episode one. As Eleanor’s catchphrase-coining moment of realisation had it: “This is the Bad Place!”…
If you aren’t a Jeff Daniels fan, maybe you should rethink that. Especially if you’re a TV aficionado, or better yet, a TV writer.
“Why?” you ask.
To which we reply:
Why do you believe that television has surpassed movies in quality?
JD: It is where the writing went. Television is where the writers went. They’re given a creative freedom that I haven’t felt in other places. Then they hire really good people. And they give you the money to shoot it. It’s a lot of money, too.