Beating

I don’t mean what the Hawks took from Miami’s 3-point onslaught tonight, I mean what I worked on yesterday.
I had a couple of calls and meetings yesterday with some production companies. I know most of them don’t have tons of funds to begin with – you need to hook up with either a studio or a financier – but none of the ones I have any connections with or ins to have any cash to toss around. It’s a little disheartening to know that once you attach someone, and we’re talking real names here, that’s only five per cent of the battle, but I don’t let it get me down. I’ve taken a lot of really good meetings with quality companies whose people both know their business and are on the level. I really respect that.
It’s why I came out of my afternoon meeting feeling like I had a chip on my shoulder. I’m getting in the room. I’m sitting there with opportunity staring back at me. And yet, I don’t have stuff to pitch. Sure, I have concepts. Out the ass do I have concepts, some saleable, some not. But my goal is never to be the pitch guy. I don’t want to spring a pitch on an unsuspecting guy, nor do I want to not bring my A-game or the best version of something to the table. But at the end of the day, I don’t have enough polished and pitchable stuff, nor do I have any scripts I can send around to get people excited about.
I came back from the meeting and got to work. It had been a long day, I had put some time in on Days Missing, and I had a dinner meeting to go to. But I also have the long-neglected LYP to keep rolling. As you know, I was supposed to finish by the end of March with it. That was my goal for the year well before I went freelance. And I didn’t get it done. I’ve been chasing other work, paying bills, traveling, whatever. I didn’t get it done when I planned.
I decided to Blake Snyder up the story. I’ve had the first act worked out forever (though a good note made it clear I need to make one change to the first act and I’ve got a much better story, thanks B), but I didn’t know where to go from there outside of a loose skeleton. I took Blake’s beat sheet, which I know some folks in the industry swear by, and I decided to see if my story fit the mold. It actually helped me with a couple of things, including figuring out a subplot which helped strengthen the theme of the script. I didn’t have a B storyline before, and I do think it’s necessary just to give another dimension to the world.
Before anyone writes me off as a slave to the formula of Snyder/McKee/whoever, a brief word on formula and structure. Structure exists for a reason in crafting dramatic stories. And I mean that in a very Aristotelian way, not in a THIS goes HERE and THAT goes THERE sense. There are certain rhythms that work and should be used. Once you have them down, you can do all sorts of awesome, Tolstoy/Gaghan-style shifting and playing around with it, but until then… don’t try to destroy the world if you can’t tie your shoelaces. I’m not a big fan of formula. Not to say you can’t subvert, but formula is a method that relies on the established. Structure deals with the way various pieces are put together. It’s an argument for another time (or someone’s college paper), but I digress. I’ve tried to read Story three times and failed. I disagree with a lot of what Snyder writes, and think he’s bitter he didn’t come up with Memento. I think Syd Field is where it’s at because it’s not overly didactic in showing you that what you think is innovative isn’t. It’s clear, concise, and informative.
But there’s not one single method. There’s whatever works for you and whatever works for your story. Put them both together and you get good fiction.
I feel like I’m in a better place now with the script. Not only did I figure things out, but I was able to place it well within seemingly commercial confines when my goal is not necessarily to sell this script. My goal is to a) finish, b) write something good, and c) use it to get representation. Anything else is just icing.
I totally lost the point of this two paragraphs ago. I wrote out the beat sheet. I feel good about the story and my progress on it. My goal is to finish it by 5/20. Failing that, the end of May. If that doesn’t happen… I’m quitting writing and moving home to Atlanta to become a waiter and figure out what I want to do with my life.
Yesterday, leaving my meeting, I realized that there’s nothing else I want to be doing. I want to write, I feel good about my stories and my abilities, and the only thing stopping me is excuses and time. I don’t have any of the former, because I don’t believe in them. And I have plenty of the latter if I use it right.
Time to take over the world.
***
Oh, and I had lunch and hung out with Josh Fialkov today. He’s a good egg, an excellent writer, and I sometimes wonder why he isn’t bigger than he is. As a writer, not as a man. It’s a good size…
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