Frustration, Risk and Money

I am an intellectual. No, I’m not just saying that to show off or anything, I did an online quiz at www.oprah.com and it told me so. It also said my need for helping others was my lowest score, (no surprise there) and creativity was up there in the highest marks (12 points) but my thirst for knowledge was paramount (14 points).

I wonder if this is why I’m feeling frustrated at the moment, which I really am right now. I would like to use this frustration to take risks that would mean I can get on with the work that I so want to do, but this all requires money, and there’s the sticking point. So what to do? So many things revolve around money, but it takes other people to also make decisions (and I’m not talking about mental health or any systems here) so, should that be a reason why I can’t get on and do stuff?

I can’t progress with the choices I have until I have the money to do so. Although, that’s not strictly true, I can write stuff, I can write an application, I can rewrite my feature screenplay. I can do quite a bit of writing really, though anything else pretty much relies on me having funding.

A friend put a post on Facebook I noticed which said, without Capitalism there wouldn’t be any mental health problems. I thought this was kind of interesting, and actually hard for me to argue against.

Although, I’m sure if I lived somewhere without the 9-5 working hours and pressure on jobs etc. mental health ‘issues’ would still be around. Probably arising from boredom and frustration…

Which brings me back to where I am now. And out of that, I can only hope I’ll grow, and change. But its a slow process, unless anyone has a spare five grand they want to donate, in which case I’ll possibly be less frustrated…

Last post from LA – better late than never!

So this is my last post from LA, LAX to be exact, and I’ll say it again, I’m seriously worried about lack of free wifi in this town. There is an airport lounge with ‘free wifi’, costs $10 an hour to use, I thought about it, but then spent my last dollars in McDonald’s, which is where I’m typing this from. (It’s ok, someone else has their laptop out, and its an airport, so I’m sure I’m safe)

So the final day at the expo was a much more settled pace, I still got nervous, but then that didn’t bother me. It’s amazing to me when I went to the pitching boot camp that nobody else had got there pitch down to the ’25 words’. This is something that John Truby, Blake Snyder & Elliot Grove talk about. But what it came down to was that was all I had to remember, and when they asked me for more story (which they all did on Sunday) I was able to tell them, without getting worked up, without forgetting anything about the STORY. This is the one thing that’s come out of the weekend, how important the STORY is. Especially in comedy, one of things Truby talks about is how you write the story first, and the gags come out of that. Most writers start with the gags, which doesn’t always create a great story.

It was great to hear John Truby talk again, reminding me of how much he knows and why he’s one of the best in the business. I’m going to get a report from the guy who works with him once I’ve looked over my current draft – cos of the exchange rate it actually works out a similar price to those script doctors over hear, but hopefully I’ll get new insight, and lets face it, although a good story is a good story anywhere in the World, he is Hollywood. And that’s one thing that I’ve learnt while I’ve been here.

I thought I was soooo right about my first couple of choices of companies to pitch too, but then when they gave their responses, I was surprised, and then when the bigger companies were interested that took me by surprise. It was a happy surprise too, one that got me really excited, and got me to think seriously about the choices that I have. I’ve directed short films, sure, but I’m not a ‘name director’, so I could hold out to be a writer / director. That’s one thing I’m not too worried about now, unless of course someone wants to fully support me on this, but I can write another script, with a good story, to do that with. So now, having pitched to the guys here in LA AND had some positive feedback, my options are wide open. And that’s the best thing for me right now.

So, what am I going to do when I get back? Get a script report from LA. Finish current application to the Arts Council, look up the Unlimited arts funding, and look at my life plan again. This is something I’ve done this year, along with doing ‘energy mapping’ out of it has come the sloooow realisation that all I want to do is write.

I want to make films that interest me, sure, that’s why I go down the arts route. Originally it was a means to an end, but once I got stuff for my showreel (Early One Summer, which was signed to Hollywood Independents distributors last year) and worked in collaboration with a digital artist to create artist film & video, now I can decide where I want to go – The big wide World is mine…

Pitching weekend day 2

20th October 2009.

I’m going to write about the Saturday & Sunday then post them separately, just to keep you in suspense…

So, the 1st proper day of pitching, Saturday, 7 pitches in all. I was lucky enough to do the Blake Snyder weekend when he came to London in May, not long before he passed away. His advice was to use sites like the Hollywood Creative Directory, and write 400 query letters. You’ll be lucky if you get 3 responses. That’s what it was like on Saturday, just all in one day.  Good things, not so good things. Obviously I won’t name the company’s I pitched too (that would be silly) but it didn’t start great, but by the end of the day I got some really positive responses, a couple from big companies. NB: I was going to do a ‘run down’ but have decided against publishing it on here.

When I did the pitching boot camp they did it in exactly the same way as in the actual pitching. What they don’t tell you is that you get ‘herded’ in to one room, sit on the chair which relates to the table number your sitting at, and the they tell you when you can go into the room with all the companies. By the time I got half way thought the day, I felt I’d achieved something quite remarkable to me – I got to the point where I just wasn’t nervous.

So that was it, and after what felt like a full day of pitching I was pretty knackered. By the time of my 7th pitch, when that company passed, I really, really wasn’t bothered by it. I said thank you, and left my seat.

When the morning pitching goes crap, and then the afternoon pitching goes so well that you get a major company definitely interested, then that says something about perseverance. All (except the last company) said I definitely had a good idea, and I was definitely on to something. One of the companies had loads of questions about it, all of which I answered – when people are that good, you realise why they’re working for the studios.

I still had time to attend a couple of the seminars, one especially memorable was James Manos Jr (creator of Dexter!) talking about writing in general. Very, very funny. He also made me feel better about my ADHD. Much better in fact. Which brings me to this blog, and why I’m much better at twittering than blogging. This blog will always be occasional, so the best thing is to follow me on twitter: @2weddings if you so desire. I can tweet by text too! Which is much easier.

So I’m here in LA for another week, and wondering if I’ll hear something other than the deathly wail of silence from anyone I met. They were nearly all polite enough to take my business card, nobody asked for a one sheet or a sample, but as said, one was definitely interested. So now I play the waiting game, and see what happens. Although while I do that, I’m off to Vegas to see Bette Midler. I can text from there too, hopefully.

15th October

Just had my first ‘pitch boot camp’ session hosted by the Screenwriters Network, LA. Well worth doing, definitely got it down to 25 words though no one else seems to have done this with the 7 or so pitches that I heard… So I got to verbalise my pitch to a number of people, all with good feedback (one lady who liked it and couldn’t think of anything cos it was all there – (hint… She’s my audience!!) and nobody had an issue with the ‘gay thing’ which was cool, and one confirmed that gay marriage is a big thing in the States right now. So a positive experience all round. If I have any luck tomorrow, it should go well and I won’t make a complete arse of myself… Party tonight, & awards ceremony for screenwriting competition… I am beginning to need sleep, though MUST attend this one.

Oh, and I’ve finally found free wifi, at the Wilshire Grand.

Awards season kicks off really early…

14th October LA time.

It’s 11.10pm in LA and I have officially been up well over 24 hours with out any sleep. Couldn’t sleep on the plane, and rather surprising it went really fast. Only watched one film, ‘The Hangover’, which I enjoyed (being a comedy about weddings, I would wouldn’t I!)

Landed at an airport which is covered in boardings as it’s being ‘given a make over’, so no information, no food places (as far as I could tell) and after being nervous about customs went straight through without any problems, into the rain and grey sky.

Waited ages for shuttle bus and got to hotel around 3pm, & I didn’t realise which hotel I was staying in – It’s the hotel that hosted the first few Oscar ceremonies. You know, when they were all in Black & white & Walt Disney got an honorary one? That hotel. Pretty cool huh? Loads of photos in the Lobby, inc. Walt, and James Stewart receiving an academy award for The Philadelphia Story (I didn’t realise he got one for that, a favourite film!)

My first attendee thingy was ‘The Voice Awards 2009’, which celebrates positive portrayals of mental health in the entertainment industry. Richard Dreyfus presented. Interesting, variety of people. I didn’t meet any of them sadly, was soooo tired I didn’t want to go to the after party, plus I was the only one in a dinner jacket… duh!

Anyway, I did meet a couple of people beforehand, and attending an awards show at Paramount Studios is a pretty good start for my first day in LA…

I'm off today…

My Blog about LA

I’m at Heathrow airport, very excited, a little nervous, and not sure what to do for the 10 and a half hours I’ll be in the air. I’m travelling to Los Angeles, where I’m attending the Screenwriting Expo for the first time.

Looking forward to getting there, and really I’ll probably sleep for most of the journey. ‘The Proposal’, Starring Sandra Bullock, is apparently showing on the plane so I get to watch that again, seeing as romantic comedies are my ‘thing’.

Also tonight, I got an invite to ‘The Voice Awards’, at Paramount Studios – celebrating positive portrayals of mental health in entertainment. That’s tonight, although I’ll still be thinking its around 4am, UK time.

One things for sure, it’ll probably go way to fast once I get there.

You can follow me on twitter @2weddings or keep in touch for occasional updates on my website at www.garythomas.co.uk/garythomas

Hello World!

Hello, indeed!

I am off to LA in less than two weeks and so this is a blog of how I get on out there. Hopefully I can figure a way of linking it to Syncsoutheast.co.uk and maybe even DADA-South, so I’ll let you know how I get on with it, and more importantly, what its like to go to LA and pitch my script ‘all over town’. Or as all over town as I can manage!

My own website is here where you can find out more about me and the short films I’ve made so far. When I get back home I’m sure the content will change, but I’ll still hopefully be able to keep you updated on my progress.

That’s all for now.

Gary