The iPad has changed the way we communicate, enhanced the way we share information and represents an evolution in many forms entertainment. Movies are no exception. Whether your a film fan watching the latest releases or a filmmaker using the iPad’s vast library of creative tools, it’s a truly remarkable device.
Screenwriters have access to brilliant mobile apps to craft their tales. Illustrators can create storyboards with powerful drawing and image authoring programs. Movies can be planned, shot, edited and shared with one device.
I use my iPad non stop. It’s with me wherever I go. I read book and screenplays on the bus. I write scripts during breaks at work. I’m constantly connected to my websites, blogs and social media account. I watch movies, short films and documentaries. I create.
I guess what I’m trying to say is… The iPad is neat.
BAD DAYS HAPPEN… BUT THAT’S WHY I LOVE SCREENWRITING
A few days ago, I woke up in a really bad mood. It happens to us all. This particular morning was awful and there wasn’t an explanation for it. I was just cranky to say the least.
On a normal day, I wake up and publish the latest post on The Athletic Nerd. Then I write something new or tweak existing posts. Depending on my work schedule, that usually leaves me with a couple hours to do whatever I want. Screenwriting is usually the number one contender for that slot. But I like to work on new graphics and brainstorm as well from time to time.
However, I didn’t feel like doing anything when I woke up that day. I hate being bored and basically wandered around the web looking for interesting things to read. It was a low morning at first but screenwriting was there to save the day once again.
I finally decided to take some pressure off and ditch my morning routine. I focused solely on my new feature screenplay. I hadn’t made any progress in a week or so.
So I loaded my notes and Final Draft on my monitors and got to work. Over the course of the next few hours I was silent as I typed. At first, I reworked a few scenes I was meaning to tweak. But my bad mood officially ended the second I broke new ground.
By the end of my session, I had crafted 4 new pages which isn’t a lot but it was all I needed. I felt a rush of excitement as I reached a pivotal scene and blasted through it like I had seen it a million times in my mind.
I felt a sense of accomplishment. I was in a good mood. The happiness stretched throughout my day. I found myself thinking about the new pages as well as the changes I wanted to make. I spent a great deal of time on the bus making notes to enhance the scenes I wrote that day. I couldn’t wait to get back to my script.
I also found myself wondering what triggered my bad mood. Was I blocked because I hadn’t written a word in a week? Maybe the lack of screenwriting contributed to my sour mood.
I’ve said it many times on this blog that I’ll never stop writing screenplays whether my work finds success or not. Screenplays can turn around days just begging to be wasted. Each page inspires the next and whatever was bothering me disappeared.
I’m happy when I write. Even though circumstances limit the amount of screenwriting time I have each week, I know it’s always there. There are always pages waiting to be filled.
I read IGN a lot. I visit the site multiple times a day for movie, television and video game news. When you visit the largest gaming site on the net as often as I do, big stories like Minecraft don’t go unnoticed. I just never took the time to really find out what this indie game was all about. Now it’s one of my favorite games of all time.
Minecraft is essentially a giant sandbox. A massive world that allows you to create virtually anything you can think of. Your character is essentially thrust into a unique world with nothing. You must rush to gather resources, create shelters and survive the onslaught of monsters that await you when the sun goes down. After a few days in the game, you can branch out and begin collecting better materials and creating better structures. It’s pretty much limitless.
The more you play, the more rare types of materials you find and the more ‘things’ you can create. Feel like exploring enormous caves? Go for it. Is it your goal to create huge towers? Why not? Did you decide to create a bridge that links the towers and a water slide that leads into the caves? Of course you can.
Curious as to what is possible when you really dive into a game like Minecraft? Check these creations out:
The only limit truly is your imagination. Sound familiar?
Before I get into screenwriting, I’d like to first make mention of the inspirational story behind the phenomenon known as Minecraft. The game was created by Markus Alexej Persson or Notch as he’s commonly referred to. He’s a talented and passionate game designer who had an idea and got to work. The game is a massive achievement and has taken the gaming world by storm. Notch is a superstar now and the development world is eagerly awaiting his company Mojang’s next project.
Notch had a vision, executed that vision and found an audience who adores his work. That level of commitment and dedication is universally inspiring to anyone looking to start a new creative project. Personally, his story inspires me as a screenwriter.
FINAL DRAFT, MINECRAFT & ME
When I’m developing a story, I can’t just sit at a table and spit out a treatment. I need something to do while I think. Eventually I need a quiet place to work but in the early stages I like to have something to do. Obviously, I can’t do anything that requires a ton of brain power because that would be counter productive.
Normally, I think about stories while I’m being active. I play basketball, I swim, I go to the gym or I take my dog for a walk. But sometimes, I rely on video games. Again that sounds counter productive but it has to be a specific type of game. For me, the all time champ is Sim City. It’s an open world that allows you to do whatever you want. I used to play Sim City all the time with a notepad close by.
Minecraft takes all the things I love about Sim City to the next level. I’m not limited to buildings and roads anymore. I can build absolutely anything I want as long as I’ve gathered the resources to pull it off. The resource gathering is monotonous, repetitive and takes forever which is perfect for brainstorming screenplay ideas. I’ve spent hours demolishing mountains and digging in caves while thinking about new screenplays.
It’s just me, an empty cave and a blank page.
TWO MONITORS = MORE CREATIVE SPACE
Every time I launch Minecraft, I set it up on one monitor. On the other, I alternate between Microsoft Word for story notes & Final Draft for screenwriting. Typically on the left, I’d be creating a tower because I felt like it. On the right, I’d be typing notes about new characters and story points. The system works perfectly…
Except, I don’t play Minecraft anymore.
Why? Because I’m actually writing now. I don’t need my latest brainstorming device anymore. I’m sure when it’s time to begin a new tale, I’ll jump back into my Minecraft world but right now, I’m focused on the story the game helped me create. It’s a strange relationship. I’m absolutely addicted to the game but I never play it unless there is a story problem or scene I want to work out. Thankfully, there are always new screenplays to write and there will always be giant structures to create in the process.
The reason for the lack of posts is simple. I wasn’t writing any screenplays. I decided that, once and for all, I would wrap up some big projects and start 2012 with a clean slate. I’m happy to say I accomplished that goal. We finished and released 17 West’s latest short film The Climb. In addition to that release, we put Playing Through online as well. It was all timed with the launch of our brand new website 17west.ca. Now I can start a new year with nothing left to do except write. (And get married in the fall)
All of the sudden I’m just a screenwriter. I’m not a web designer anymore. I’m not a director either. All my projects in 2012 involve writing in some capacity. Whether it’s blogging, picking away at my eBook or finishing up a new script, my mind is free to create new things. It’s an incredible feeling.
First up for me is a deeply personal story that I’m absolutely terrified to write. It’s a terror I can’t wait to explore. A demon I can’t wait to banish from my mind and onto the page.
Thinking about the new projects I want to tackle makes me wonder where I will be at the end of 2012. Mainly because I’ve been asking myself a very serious question for over a year now:
Am I a screenwriter? Or do I simply enjoy writing screenplays?
I’m not sure I can answer that. I’m an honest person so I don’t mind admitting that currently, I have no screenplays in production. I have no screenplays awaiting judgement in competitions. I do not have an agent texting me hourly for updates on my latest draft. There are no producers with a copy of my screenplay on their desks.
But that didn’t stop me from writing short screenplays entitled After, Lorraine, Maybe Not Today, Nathan’s Hoard, The Cold Spot, The Guardian, Caligari, The Blanket Fort and Droid. It didn’t stop me from dusting off a feature length script I started in college and finishing it. It didn’t stop me from developing treatments for 2 new features I plan to write this year in addition to a bunch of new shorts I’m excited about.
I am not a professional screenwriter in the sense that I do not get paid to write screenplays. I just love to write. Screenwriting is my cure for anxiety. It’s my calm place. It’s mine. But I’m 28 years old now and I just don’t think that’s enough anymore. I feel like it’s time to find out what I’m made of. Yet, I’m frustrated because I’ve said that before. I’ve even written about it on this blog.
“This year, I’m going to get my act together and find out if I have what it takes.”
It sounds great but that sentence won’t fill up the pages will it? It merely starts the engine but it’s pointless if the engine dies less than a mile down the road. What makes this year different?
“Nothing changes if nothing changes.”
What changed this year? I’ve simplified things. All I’ve got is screenwriting now. It’s just me and Final Draft. (Or Celtx on my iPad)
Above all else, I think the main difference is my main goal overall. Normally, I start a year thinking about all the screenplays I may or may not finish. This year, I’m thinking about the screenplays I’d like people to read. The screenplays that actors, agents and producers can get excited about. The screenplays that may become films someday. That’s a BIG difference in my usual thought process and it’s a ‘rewrite’ I should have done years ago.
Maybe I was afraid. Maybe I’m still afraid.
So… Am I a screenwriter? Or do I simply enjoy writing screenplays? I think I’d be happy with either in the long run because no matter what I’ll get to do what I love.
6 months ago, my ‘nerderie’ was comprised of a Mac with Final Cut Studio 2 and a PC with a ton of software including Final Draft, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Office, After Effects and more…
While all of my video and film related work was done on my Mac, pretty much everything else was done on my PC. I’ve always been a PC guy at heart. On a daily basis I wrote screenplays, designed graphics, worked on a couple upcoming eBooks, created animations and maintained all of my websites.
So you can imagine how heartbreaking it was when my PC died in February…
I was genuinely sad about it. I had suddenly lost 80% of the creative software I adored. Final Draft hurt the most. What was I going to do without my screenwriting software? I wasn’t in a position to buy a new computer so I was forced to upgrade to a Mac version.
That was the good news. I could write screenplays again but my websites all went dark with the exception of this WordPress hosted blog. I was still able to update it, I just couldn’t create any new ads or graphics. That’s how I’ve been working for the last few months. However, I did manage to back up enough of my files to function until the day I could replace my beloved PC.
That day came this week!
After 3 days of transferring files, installing and activating software and customizing my new system, I’m officially back up and running! The amount of tasks that needed to be done was insane. When you factor in things like transferring custom Photoshop brushes, 17 West’s movies and archives of all my work it adds up quickly. Especially when I figured out that I would have to take apart my old computer, buy an adapter and transfer some extremely important backups manually.
It’s been a nerdy couple of days and I’m surrounded by cables, boxes and hard drives but I’m finally done. My writing, filmmaking, graphic and web design work is now back and better than ever! So please forgive the lack of in depth posts this week. I’ve been extremely busy solving tons of logistical issues as I moved into my new PC.
I can’t wait to get started on some new graphics, updates to 17west.ca and a couple new projects I had to put on hold because I simply didn’t have the software to do it. First up is the planned graphics I’m hoping to use as the opening credit sequence for The Climb.