Good Night, Sweet Prince

220px-Philip_Seymour_Hoffman_2011“I had insecurities and fears, like everybody does,and I got over it. But I was interested in the parts of me that struggled with those things.” ~ Philip Seymour Hoffman

For creatives, our mind can be our greatest asset – or our worst enemy. Philip Seymour Hoffman succumbed to his fears and insecurities today. He was perhaps the greatest actor of his generation. His ability to step into a character’s skin, and to transform into their personas was uncanny; his gift was as immense as his deeply vulnerable heart.

As creatives, we’re asked to open ourselves up to the world, to stand naked, to bare all of our secrets. This emotional accessibility is what makes a great artist, and yet, it is also what makes so many of us fall prey to one form of addiction or another. It’s painful to feel so much all of the time, and for some, this pain is so great that they desperately try to numb themselves, in order to be free from its grasp. They seek respite in the form of drugs, alcohol, and sex.

Hoffman’s death comes as a great shock to us all. We believed he had conquered his fears, and that his days of addiction were long past. He was very candid about his struggle with sobriety; and yet, the story seemed a long-closed chapter of his early life.

We were fooled… because we wanted to be. It’s a difficult truth, to discover that what you most love about a person ultimately leads to their undoing.

Good night, sweet prince,

and flights of angels guide thee to thy rest.

RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman 1967 – 2014

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Scribe, Interrupted

Dementor image“There was a demon that lived in the air. They said whoever challenged him would die. Their controls would freeze up, their planes would buffet wildly, and they would disintegrate. The demon lived at Mach 1 on the meter, seven hundred and fifty miles an hour, where the air could no longer move out of the way. He lived behind a barrier through which they said no man could ever pass….” ~ The Right Stuff

I have met this demon.

In November, I stumbled upon a story. It sprang forth from a conversation that haunted me; it invaded my dreams. I had a visceral, emotional reaction to what had been discussed. It possessed me. I knew the only way to exorcise it was to write it.

And so I began. I welcomed my muse with open arms. I methodically and precisely built my outline; I created characters, and gave them detailed backstory. I knew them inside and out, heart and soul. I created a world. Perfection. Finally, the time came to type FADE IN:

At my first pass, I knocked out half of the script (this was for a 12 – 15 page short). I contacted a few people for a bit of feedback – is this a story of interest? Worth exploring? I received a unanimous “Yes” and took the plunge. I dove into story, headfirst. I made some adjustments, and began again.

Once again, I knocked out half of the script. Then, the problem surfaced. I could go no further.

Every day, I’d open up my trusty Final Draft; every day I would stare at the screen. I’d read my pages, and try to push further, only to have my brain completely shut down.

It was terrifying. I had never experienced anything like this in my entire life. I was beginning to believe that I’d never write again.

I tried everything that I knew to do. I threw away the outline and free-formed it. Stalled at the same place. I dropped characters, and brought in others. Stalled in the same place. I gave my protagonist a new name. Stalled. A new job. Stalled. I was in a complete state of panic; I felt that I was free-falling without a parachute. Stalled. Stalled. Stalled.  I had met the demon in the sky of my mind, and my heart and soul were disintegrating, like a jet hitting the sound barrier. All was lost.

This particular script had a hard deadline, as I had the opportunity to place it in consideration for production this year. The deadline was in a day. I had about 36 hours in which I would need to write, proof, rewrite, edit, and hand off my little drama.

I went jogging. That always works. I ran and ran along the streets of Toluca Lake, until I could run no more. I turned and walked home, waiting for the muse to descend.

As I neared my house, my pace slowed, for nothing had happened. 

I took a deep breath, and walked inside. Surely, something will click, I told myself. I sat down, opened up FD… and once again, stared at the pages.

I took a shower. I scrubbed my hair, breathed in the steam, and poached myself like a lobster.

Nothing.

And so, I broke. I buried my head in my hands and sobbed. I keened for the death of my creative spirit. I surrendered my need for perfection. I allowed the project into my heart, I let go of all expectations, I permitted myself to be totally naked and raw. I felt… and then, it happened.

My hands reached, shaking, towards the keyboard… and once again, I typed FADE IN:

Only this time, I kept typing. I had met the demon… and the demon was me.

***

Apogee - apo*gee (noun) : the highest point of a vertical ascent. Multimedia production and distribution house. We #SupportIndieFilm

Apogee – apo*gee (noun) : the highest point of a vertical ascent. Multimedia production and distribution house. We #SupportIndieFilm

The script is complete, and has been submitted. I’m still making minor tweaks here and there. Pre-production is beginning under my newly formed Apogee Entertainment, and by the end of the year, by hook or by crook, I’ll be able to take you by the hand and lead you through the world of CREED. It’s the unflinching story of a returned warrior, a veteran of the Afghanistan war, who is so haunted by the past, that he is precipitously close to destroying his future. For it’s not only the fallen soldiers who are left behind. Our returning vets are being left behind – by the very country they risked their lives for.

Now, go write.

HRH, Princess Scribe

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Happy Holidays

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Natal Wishes

birthday-candles-1338372401X5qIt’s here again. The day of my birth.

Last year, I began a tradition of creating a wish list on my birthday. Without further ado, here is what I want for my birthday. For myself – and for you:

Personal:

To forgive. We all know people who, for one reason or another, wish us ill. They cause great pain within us, and yet, to hold onto anger and resentment is to cut ourselves off from a more conscious state. I wish to forgive them, for I realize that they behave in this manner because they are living in a state of inner turmoil. II forgive myself. I forgive others.

For those who feel that one has done them an injustice, I wish forgiveness for you. I wish you forgiveness for self.

Joy. We spend a lot of time searching for this thing called “happiness.” I am beginning to believe that happiness is a faux emotion, for it is derived from things or people external to the self. If you think about it, happiness can be a very toxic state of consciousness. I wish for joy. Joy also accepts pain as its partner. I do not wish to live in a state of vapid happiness. I wish to experience moments of grace.

I wish joyful living for you.

Conscious living. I have said before that L.A. is a very noisy place. It is difficult to live in a state of conscious awareness when one is surrounded by so much noise. We need silence, every day. Music is not silence. Silence is silence. I wish to be aware of those around me. I wish to live in harmony with my environment, even when it changes. I wish to be conscious of the choices I make – even the most mundane.

I wish conscious living for you.

Compromise. I wish to continue to practice this choice.

For our nation, and our people in it, I wish for all to practice conscious compromise. This nation was founded by the people, for the people. Not by corporations and lobbyists for personal or financial gains. Democracy means that we are our brothers (and sisters) keepers. We must look out for one another. Choices should be made for the dreams of the many, not the schemes of the few.

Professional:

I wish for They Live Among Us to acquire funding for future episodes. I wish for high production value to come to the table. I wish this for myself, and for the hard and beautiful work of the cast and crew.

For you, and your passion projects, I wish you funding through completion.

I wish forBig Boy Toys to receive its greenlight. It’s reality done right. I wish for Exit Plan to acquire festival placement.

For you who are trying to get your projects moved ahead, I wish you a viral presence and festival awards.

I wish for Impasse to come to distribution. Jeanne and Michael, you deserve this.

I wish for Eden to receive its financing in full, so we can start production. This project deserves it – and it is a story that needs to be told.

For you who are trying to film your features, I wish financing for you.

I wish for growth as a filmmaker.

For you seeking to expand your body of work, I wish for growth for you.

I wish for the Hammer Down monkeys to continue on with our amazing collaboration. It’s the greatest gift I’ve been given in my artistic life.

For those of you struggling to create, I wish for you extraordinary creative partnerships.

And finally, I wish for peace. I wish for love and compassion. I wish.

Now, go breathe. Live. Write.

HRH, Princess Scribe

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Ripple Effect

ripple_effectThe death of a person affects us all. The announcement of such an event causes a ripple effect, like the dropping of a pebble into a pond; as the news spreads throughout the community, its effect can be followed outwards infinitely.

I’m watching as a ripple effect cascades across the screenwriting community, via the  tsunami-esque internet. Early this morning, there came news across the wires that Syd Field had died.

It is during times like this, that I pause, and take inventory. I’ve led a blessed life. I was beyond fortunate to have worked with Blake Snyder and the Cats for as long as I did. That work has provided me with rich, intensive training, and countless opportunities. I still find it extraordinary that I was able to share so many experiences with Blake. The relationships that I forged then still resonate within me today. The Cats are my family; they are my band of brothers.

I was also fortunate enough to have, for a brief time, worked with Syd Field.

Certainly, my relationship with him was in no way equal to the one I shared with Blake. I met Syd when I was working at Final Draft. I had launched an Outreach program, and so I found myself spending many a day with him, discussing the various facets of the program, and how it could be expanded. At that time, I was searching for disadvantaged and young writers, who could benefit from the mentorship of Hollywood professionals. I connected writers with producers, with development people, and so, eventually, the program led me on the path to Syd.

SydField_4x5Gracious and gentle are the words that come to mind, when I think of Syd Field. He was never too busy to take a phone call. He had a smile that could light up a room, and there was a twinkle to his eyes. He was already somewhat frail by the time I met him; heart disease had taken its inevitable toll, and yet, he still had the joie de vivre, the magical thinking one would usually find in children. He was the first person to emphasize to me that “none of us knows anything,” and “the true artist is a perpetual student.” Life for Syd was a process of constant learning.

Syd knew how to make an entrance. When he would come over to visit FD, Mark would announce on the PA “Syd Field has entered the building,” and I am fairly certain that Syd got a big kick out of that.

My time with him was short, but the conversations and work accomplished left a lasting impression on this scribe.

What do I remember most about Syd? He worked with some of the greatest names in the business; people like Darabont and Goldman wrote with great eloquence, heaping praise upon Syd’s shoulders. And yet, at the end of the day, when I would talk to him, it was not about who he had just met with, or what celebrity had singled him out. It was about a project that he was working on – interactive software, based on a gaming model, to help young children improve literacy.

That’s what made him flash that million-watt smile – not celebrity, or adoration -but the dream of helping children. That was the Syd Field that I knew.

RIP, Syd Field. You are legend. You are… shall I say it? Awesomeballs.

Now, go write.

HRH, Princess Scribe

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Things That Go Bump in the Night

princessscribe:

It’s that time of year again….

Originally posted on Princess Scribe's Blog:

It’s that time of the year again! I suppose I could write a new Halloween blog, but why? Drumroll, please… the annual publishing of the Halloween blog:

No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed by some to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.

Thus begins one of the most masterful ghost stories of all time, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. Halloween is upon us, “Oooooh, scaaaaary, kids!” as Count Floyd would say, which prompts me to rattle on about…

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Whose Film is It Anyway?

UnknownI’m moving several projects through post, a couple of shorts and an episode of TLAU.

I love post-production; it’s where the magic really happens. Edits, sound design, composition… all those beautiful components, coming together, like notes on a page, to create this symphony that is called a film.

I have the greatest respect for artists in all aspects of production. It takes a village to create a film; this is a philosophy I embrace wholeheartedly. Each and every person contributes to the project; each and every person involved is of the utmost importance. Each and every person influences the film. Even craft service. Especially craft service.

The emergence of YouTube, combined with the advent of DSLR, has presented visual storytelling with a unique set of circumstances. New technologies and lowering costs have made the tools of filmmaking more and more accessible. Every Tom, Dick and Mary can outfit themselves with a pretty sweet setup, and these same Toms, Dicks and Marys then turn around and refer to themselves as filmmakers… and they knock a film out, cut it, buy some stock music and slap their names all over the opening credits without so much as a “by your leave.”

You know what I’m talking about. That offensive, annoying title card. The one that reads “A [insert your name here] Film.”

What’s wrong with that?! I hear this all the time. I wrote it! I directed it! It’s MINE!!!

I will tell you what is wrong with it. It is a lie.

Document1You have had the good fortune to have an entire team surrounding you in the creation of this film. There was a cast. There was pre-production support. You financed through crowdfunding. There was a crew. There was post-production support. The list goes on.

Plastering your name all over those titles is an act of grandiosity, borne of ego, for it makes the film about the Me instead of the We. It is the opposite of gratitude, and it does a great disservice to all who contributed in the creating of this story.

The next time you feel the urge to use that credit, sit back and answer the following questions:

schitzophrenia-808-lgDid you write the screenplay? Did you direct the film? Did you produce the film? Did you fund the film from your own pockets? Did you pay for locations? No donating of space from anyone allowed, because then it could not be “your” film. Did you design the production, build all of the props? Did you use your own equipment – or rent what you did not have? Did you shoot the film? Did you light it, run electrical? Are you the sole talent in the film? Wigs, makeup, wardrobe can turn you into multiple characters, so you’ll need to handle that, too. Without help. Did you hold the boom as you were filming your acting? Oh, you used lavs. Good choice. Did you mix the sound with your toes while you were filming and acting? Did you slate each take? And keep an edit log for yourself? Did you cook all of the meals for your one-person cast and crew? Did you edit the film? Did you do the sound design? VFX? Color grading? Music – you composed it, of course, right?

Now, if you can say yes to every single question, then you have my permission to plaster your name all over your masterpiece.

That being said, if you did do all of that on your own, ask yourself, and ask truthfully - is this really a film that anyone would want to see?

Now, go write.

HRH, Princess Scribe

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