Oscar Aspirations: Screenwriting, Passion & Good Ideas

February 21, 2013 at 12:35 am

The 85th Academy Awards on The Athletic Nerd

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

It’s the category I look forward to most each year.

A screenwriter(s) gets an idea and spends countless hours perfecting every moment.  Slowly, the story takes shape and the characters come alive.  The first draft gets sent out to family and friends.  To producers and actors.  The reviews are all positive but the screenwriter is still critical.  Rewrites.  The very measure of the dedication it takes to succeed as a screenwriter.

A new draft makes it’s way into the right hands and hundreds of passionate artists from all corners of the industry make it their own.  A collaboration.  One tiny idea backed by the passion and commitment of many becomes a film.

It’s released to the world and people relate to the story.  Professionals love it.  Critics love it.  Audiences love it.  Fans around the world discuss all the little details so carefully put in place.  Every word counts.  Every ounce of sweat poured into each sentence is on the screen.  A new classic.

Oscar night arrives.  The competition is tough.  The envelope is opened.  The winner is…

To me, this story is less about the award and more about the inspiring feeling I get when I watch The Academy Awards each year.  Best original screenplay.  A screenwriter’s dream.  It’s a worthy goal but I like to focus more on the passion that leads to the accomplishment.

A good idea is one of the most exciting events in the life of any creative individual.  But a good idea is only as good as the passion you summon to fan the flames.  Imagine having the freedom to write anything you want.  Imagine having the ability to hone your craft and make your screenplay great.  You can.  It may not win an Oscar but dedicating yourself to your script certainly doesn’t make things worse.  Everything you need is staring back at you when you look at a blank page.

It’s an inspiring thought isn’t it?

Oscar Aspirations: Screenwriting, Passion & Good Ideas

The Summer of Screenwriting: The Complete 20 Part Series

December 4, 2012 at 7:12 pm

The Summer of Screenwriting: The Complete 20 Part Series | Screenwriting Blog

20 ARTICLES.  1 SCREENPLAY

The Summer of Screenwriting

Screenwriting procrastination & the guilt that follows

I’m intimidated by the big scenes in my screenplay

The two scenes I came up with in an airport lounge

Getting stuck reading your screenplay before it’s finished

Screenwriting Mistakes: Small moments can have a big impact

When FADE OUT is just around the corner

The return to screenwriting: One Month Later

The soundtrack of my new screenplay

The language of my screenplay needs work

My screenplay lacks the all important little details

Have you ever cried writing a screenplay?

I’m not a screenwriting expert.  I just love to write screenplays

Tomorrow I finish the first draft of my screenplay

I finished my new feature length screenplay!

Who will read your screenplay first?

The screenplay is finished but my printer is broken

The first book I read after I finished my screenplay

What will I do with my screenplay now?

The Summer of Screenwriting: The Journey Ends

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The Summer of Screenwriting: The Journey Ends

The Return To Screenwriting: One Month Later

October 3, 2012 at 5:57 am

The Return To Screenwriting: One Month Later

June 29, 2012

One month ago, I announced that I would be scaling down the content on The Athletic Nerd for the summer.  In doing so, I gave myself 3 months to relax, get married and write new screenplays.

Well…  It’s been a month and looking back I’m happy to report it was a worthwhile decision.    Before I decided to put my side projects on hold to write, I was still finishing scripts.  I just wasn’t finishing FEATURE length screenplays.  Banging off a couple short films every month was fun but I felt like my screenwriting journey had stalled.

28 years old.  No writing credits.  No screenplays optioned.  No agent.  Most importantly, no new screenplays to even consider submitting.

SOMETHING HAD TO CHANGE

I feel like this last month has taught me just how much screenwriting means to me.  No matter what the future holds, I love to tell stories.  Nearly every morning, I wake up and write.  It’s like I just discovered screenwriting all over again.

To think, all I had to do was ACTUALLY write screenplays.  I’ve written a TON of articles about screenwriting on this blog but I only have 1 feature in 2 years to show for it.  Granted, I also produced a bunch of short films and launched 5 websites.  Those projects were fun but writing screenplays is my passion.

Not only am I making progress on my new script, I’m also thinking ahead.  My screenwriting goals have been reorganized.  I now have specific milestones to reach and the determination to reach them.

In short, June was a fun month.

I’m now about two weeks away from completed the first draft of my new screenplay.  I know the where my story is headed and it’s just a matter of getting the work done.   If I’ve learned anything in the last month it’s this:

LOVING SCREENWRITING IS NOT THE SAME THING AS WRITING SCREENPLAYS

True, you need both to write something you can be proud of but there is a very clear difference.  I spent way too much time professing my addiction to the craft instead of practicing and improving my skills.   These are difficult things to admit to yourself but seriously…  Who was I trying to fool?  I certainly wasn’t fooling myself.  Quite the contrary.  I felt guilty about not writing yet never sat down to write anything.

I know what you’re thinking…

This guy is nearly 30 and he’s just realizing this now?

Absolutely right.  This is something I should have figured out years ago but I was preoccupied with other things.  I’m just a screenwriter now and I’m loving every minute of it.  And so, a month into my SUMMER OF SCREENWRITING, I now have a tagline to add:

SIT DOWN, SHUT UP & WRITE SCREENPLAYS

The Summer of Screenwriting: Looking Back

Time flies.  That first month was easily the most productive screenwriting month I’ve ever had.  The momentum has definitely continued as I’m still actively developing my next script.  I started writing certain scenes but I’ll be honest, I’m stuck.

The concept I have in mind extremely challenging to pull off as my main character is completely unlikeable and selfish.  It’s my job to redeem this awful person.  That’s the challenge I’ve set out for myself but every time I think I’ve made progress, another character reminds me of what he’s done in the past.  My character tumbles back to the lonely pit that is rock bottom.

It’s sounds like I’m frustrated but I’m actually having a lot of fun trying to create character moments that show he’s trying to make amends.

Months ago, I challenged myself to write screenplays and it worked.  I followed through with a meaningful promise to myself.  Now it’s up to me to keep this momentum going.

XTRA | Screenwriting vs Anxiety

The Return To Screenwriting: One Month Later

Movies That Changed Everything: Signs

October 30, 2010 at 11:00 pm

Movies That Changed Everything: Signs

I’m an aspiring filmmaker.  Like every filmmaker out there, I have a lengthy list of films that have inspired me along the way.  This series will examine twelve of the films that changed the way I looked at movies forever.  Films that have greatly influenced the filmmaker I hope to become someday…

Signs

Movies that changed everything: Signs

Signs is my favorite movie.  Ever.

Normally when I make that statement, I receive a confused look in return.

It IS my all time favorite.

When Signs was released, I was already obsessed with M. Night Shyamalan’s films.  The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable were both amazing movies and I was eagerly anticipating what the director would come up with next.

I had no idea his next film would literally help me decide what to do with my life.

Signs was fun.  It was a simple yet well executed concept with incredible characters but what stuck with me was how well he told his story.  It was original, funny, emotional and entertaining. (Yes…  Even the alien water thing.)

I can’t explain what happened.  I just loved it.

I’ve never felt so inspired in my entire life.

Movies That Changed Everything: Signs M Night Shyamalan

Around the time that Signs was released,  I was thinking seriously about making a life altering decision.

I was in University and well on my way to becoming an English teacher.  The idea was to teach and use my summer holidays to write.

Truthfully, I was unhappy about the direction my life was heading.  I had just realized that I didn’t want to be a teacher at all.

I felt lost

So I took a chance and transferred out of English and into a college broadcasting program.

It was the best decision I ever made as it led to my career as a professional editor.  Now I have a job I absolutely love and I write whenever I can.

Where does Signs come in?

Signs arrived when I was weighing whether or not it was worth it to pursue film at all.

Am I going to write screenplays or not?

M. Night Shyamalan’s brilliant film opened my eyes again.  Screenwriting is a big part of my life and there was no way I could leave it behind.

Before Signs came along, screenwriting was merely a hobby.  Once I saw it, screenwriting became my passion.

To this day, whenever I see that movie, I want to stop everything and write.

Some people may think it’s strange that Signs is my favorite movie.   I will even concede that there are tons of ‘better’ movies out there but that’s not always a good way to measure the impact a film can have on you.

Forget the fact that Mel Gibson isn’t the most popular person in the world right now.  It’s not about Night’s current string of disappointing films.  It’s not about the awards, the critics or the popular opinion.

For me, it’s about the movies you connect with.  The movies that inspire.

Signs came along exactly when I needed to see it.

I’ll always be thankful for that.