Saturday, February 27, 2010

Snow day

It started snowing yesterday morning and kept on for 36 hours straight. Crazy amounts of snow. I'm starting to think about maybe considering not all that the weathermen say to be completely bogus.

If it's going to snow like this, it should be socially acceptable to play Christmas music.

Over the last couple days I've finished notecarding Keys to the Garden and the first half of my TV pilot and I've tinkered with my rom com idea, to no great gains. I really need to do some research for the rom com, but I'll admit, the thought of checking out half a dozen books from the library about men and dysfunctional relationships intimidates me.

I've also been majorly productive by watching 30 Rock. I've watched some of the recent episodes on Hulu, but thanks to the beauty of Netflix, I can start back at the beginning. I've watched the first four or five episodes, and they are hil-aaaar-i-ous. And honestly, I swear I'm not making this up just to justify my waste of my life by watching TV, I have been learning a lot about comedy from 30 Rock.

Ms. Fey, if you have a minute, I have an idea for a film that I think you would loooove. Mr. Baldwin, if you have a minute, I'd just like to bask in your presence.

For instance, in 1x02, The Aftermath, Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) starts off with one problem. In her attempt to fix her one small problem, she causes a big problem. In her attempt to fix her big problem, she causes an even bigger problem. One, that's an incredibly smart model to use for rising conflict in general, and two, it's wonderfully funny, especially when Lemon's gone through this whole song and dance and you think she's finally smoothed things over - only to find out she's just got herself into a worse mess than before.

And then in 1x04, Jack the Writer, there is a small but brilliant moment. Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) comes into the writer's room to monitor their efficiency. And of course he says to act like he's not there, and of course we expect him to be anything but inconspicuous. However, I was expecting him to be difficult and demanding, when actually all his interruptions stemmed from him getting too excited and involved in the creative process. (Ok, clearly I was not paying enough attention to the title of the episode here.) A great example of expectation reversal. I was expecting the story to go one way, and instead it took the opposite route.

You may not have realized comedy is so contrived. It's actually "easy" to study, analyze, and deconstruct the structure of a joke and learn how to build your own. Thank goodness it is, for those of us who need to be book funny.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Go for the Gold

I watched the ice dancing competition last night. Really fantastic. I'd also like to brag a few minutes - two of the three American teams were Michigan students. Six of the eight competing athletes representing USA in this sport.

Davis and White, with some non-Olympic medals. Doesn't he look like Steve Zahn?

As I was watching, I wondered if it was to late to switch careers. The medal ceremony unfolded, and I wistfully thought how amazing it would be to be presented with a shiny gold medal for being outstanding at what you do. To not be mediocre. And then I realized...

Hollywood DOES give out shiny gold awards for being grand!

Someday, you and I will have a date, sir.

Day 4: More note carding. I'm more than halfway through the script, close to Act III.

How I rewrite --

I read through the screenplay again, refamiliarized myself with the script and the notes I already had, took a few more notes. The first rewrite is mostly structural, so I'm not really taking nit-picky notes. I reverse engineer my step outline on 3x5 cards. I then sticky tack it up on the wall and playing around with the structure, rearranging scenes, adding scenes, throwing scenes out. This is the best way I've found to wrap my head around the immensity of an entire screenplay. When I take out a note card, I can see the hole in the structure. I can see when an act is top heavy with scenes. I can identify actions scenes, sub plots, character moments. Structure has to be addressed first, and I find using note cards to be more effective than an electronic document or even a printed step outline.

When I know what the next step is, I'll let you know.

Monday, February 22, 2010

When a girl skips class to bake you cake...

First of all, anyone else notice how sappy the Olympics are? I nearly cry every time I watch it. I'm a veritable waterworks anyway, and then when they throw in the stories of Olympic athletes in life threatening accidents and their doting families, I'm pretty much a goner. Have not cracked yet, though.

Kevin Pearce

I was talking with Dear Friend G. the other day. I'm trying to overcome my dislike for the phone, since the distance between my friends and I is not getting any shorter. We were talking about our lives and we brushed on relationships, and I told him, "I think everyone should have their heart broken at least once." He did not seem as gun-ho about that idea. Listen, I'm not being flippant. I'm not saying everything about heart brokenness is great. It's a rather unpleasant experience, in the whole. But I've also found a whole lot of growth, maturity, and self knowledge in it. I've known people who've never had their heart broken. Sometimes I think they're too scared to. Once you've had your heart broken once, you know what'll be worth the risk again.

Of course, on the flip side, I once bought Dear Friend G. "A Walk to Remember" for Christmas. I was sort of joking. He loved it.

Talk about waterworks!

Day 3 - Ironed out the rom com logline, I think. Might test it out with a few more people. Broke down the first act of Keys to the Garden on notecards. Most productive writing I've done in the past few weeks... without actually writing. I'm gettin' back into it.

I will not try to influence you... just yet.

Unk tweeted this blog post about a new idea of having writers pay to compete in the slush pile. I commented, just to throw my two cents in, and have gotten wrapped up in the dialog. Instead of ranting and raving in two places, I thought I'd just post a link.

Check out Bruce's blog. I haven't looked through it all yet, but it looks like he's got some interesting stuff to say.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mr. Hanson, I'd love a job.

One of my favourite Bones episodes is up on Hulu. Two Bodies in the Lab. Check it out.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Day 1 - Still Gearing Up

I've always steered away from writing at home. I can never focus. So I tend to take off when it's time to write. I don't know if that's because if you have to get up, leave your house, travel, readjust yourself some place new, and stay there for a while to justify the trip you're more likely to work. Or if it's just a procrastination technique. Dicey.

I'm trying to get over that. Partially because I'm trying to maximize my productivity. Partially because I already spend too much on tea at coffee shops. Previous to this day, the desk in my room has primarily been storage. I really don't have any space in my room, so I tend to toss things like mail, books, and magazines onto my desk. Anything that needs to find a permanent space in my room makes a "temporary" stop at my desk. But today I decided that my desk needed to stop being storage and start being a creative space. So, at the risk of looking like a complete disaster, I'm going to show you before and after pictures.

Ok, so on my desk we had my diploma (seriously, you'd think I'd take better care of that thing. I guess at this point I was just lucky it was in a frame.), birthday gifts, apology notes my second graders wrote me after a particularly bad recess, a Script magazine, and that book about screenwriters that I'll probably never read. All things that are waiting for a permanent spot in my room. I feel like it's like my house's equivalent of the Island of Misfit Toys. Well, I cleaned house, and here's what we ended up with --

My desk still has stuff on it, but it's definitely more organized. The stack by my computer is all notebooks, screenplay pages, and legal pads. Sometimes I can be very productive. The pictures I put up are just because I think I'll be more productive if I can converse with real Hollywood types. Ok, I'm not that far gone yet. I'm trying to play on my visual side. The pictures are the actors I could see playing the characters I write (I know, there are huge debates about writing for a specific actor. I'm really going for physical similarities.). The pictures under the cork board are for my tv pilot, and the pictures beside the Empire poster are for Keys to the Garden. And look, I got my diploma up.

I worked at my refurbished desk today. I didn't do much (so creatively drained from redecorating), but I think the changes will actually encourage working at home. I read through the first half of Keys to the Garden and took some notes. Before I can really get to rewriting, I need to refamiliarize myself with this story. It's been about 9 months since I finished the first draft. There are some choices I made that I'm hazing on what my thought process was. On one hand, this makes me nervous. How out of touch with my story am I? On the other hand, if I can't remember my reasoning or motivation for a certain choice, than maybe it wasn't a strong one. Maybe my eyes will be more analytical and objective. Altogether, tackling this second draft is a daunting task. I've only done a rewrite this extensive on a full length piece once, and that was for our rewrite class at Michigan. This time, instead of having a full class of peers, an easily accesible professor, and a course syllabus, I have a handful of notes given to me about a year ago, half of which will probably become irrelevant once I complete the deep structural changes. It reminds me of this Sorkin quote --

"It says...'I'm not your agent, and I'm not your mommy. I'm a white piece of paper, you want to dance with me?' And I really, really don't."

Somehow, I think he manages to conquer his reluctance anyway.

Day 0

First of all, I'm sorry I initially mentioned Shaun White air guitaring the national anthem in my post yesterday. I think it was silly of him, but now I feel bad about all the people who Googled that and were directed to my blog. I have nothing important to say about Shaun White, air guitaring, or the national anthem.

I did want to write a post on the Olympics and writers, but Scott does it so well here, it's more effective for me to point people towards him than churn up something of my own.

I just spent the last 20 hours in a car driving back up from Florida. So no, no real writing was done today. I did scribble out about a half dozen beats for a revised outline for Keys to the Garden. Real productive. Tomorrow, I'm going to prep myself (meaning, maybe I'll organize my life and my millions of pieces of paper) for the next 90 days.

But first I'm going to sleep in for as long as I want.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Page Count

NBC just showed a promo for the Olympic ice dancing set to "Bad Romance." I can only hope.

Since I've been chilling down in Florida these past few days (chilling for real. It's COLD down here!), I've spent more time thinking about my projects and trying to work out problems than I have over the past three months. It's very relaxing and not busy down here, and besides the ever present stress of what I'm going to do in four months, my mind's been pretty clear. I got to thinking, how much writing could I get done if that's all I committed to doing for three months for at least 4 hours a day? 4 hours a day, 5 days a week, for about 13 weeks. 260 writing hours.

Wouldn't it be cool if writing this much was as easy as finding this picture?

I thought about how I could pull this off. How to pull it off productively and not just goof off for three months. And then I realized that this will probably never happen. HOWEVER, I can just as effectively ask the same question for the next three months. I'm obviously working and won't be able to dedicate four hours a day to writing. I will be more tired and more distracted. But I'm still interested in seeing how much I can get accomplished in the next three months. I'm still learning how to have a day job and have the energy to write on the side. It's sort of a gimmick, but let's see if it works.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Some Backup

I'm trying to work out summer plans. It's a little bit stressful. I'm thinking about taking some bigger risks. Sometimes I don't know who I can talk these things through with. I need someone objective... but who knows me incredibly well.

Having someone to bounce ideas off is important. I've been stuck on a character issue for my rom com idea, so I've been expounding to anyone who'll listen, family, friends, former classmates. Writing is solitary. You do it alone. Even if you have a writing partner, there's some point where you are the one putting the words down. However, you also have to be comfortable enough with your ideas to take them to the masses early when you have a problem. Even though I no longer have a screenwriting class every week or a writer's group I go to, I have a pretty large screenwriting support group just an email away. One of my friends from LA and I chatted on the phone about the problem the other day. My dad has some great ideas. Even if I don't always agree with them, there are always good points raised. I get to know my characters more, and I get closer to my story. I know some people have a hard time with this (I do sometimes), but it's ok to ask for help. Jane Espenson agrees.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Poor Taste

I'm in Florida for a few days, relaxing on vaca (it's so hip to say "vaca") and visiting family. I've found my place in my family. I make humorous though mildly inappropriate jokes, like telling my grandma - in front of my grandpa - that moving to independent living will give her a chance to move in with her boyfriend. Or that my grandpa should start a boys' night with poker and cigars and gambling. (It doesn't take much to be mildly inappropriate with my family.)

Amanda the Aspiring Writer has a link to the WB Workshop winners. I was thinking back on my experience with the WB Workshop, and I realized that I never got a rejection letter. Maybe I did something wrong with my application, though I'm not sure what. I think my Bones script that I sent in had a lot of potential. I'd like to rework it, but I've heard that Bones scripts are getting stale. I'll ruminate on it. I've been ruminating on my rom com as well. Lots of ruminating in this writing job.

Also, my all-time favourite TV character? I'd probably have to go with the character that's made me sound much more intellectual and well read than I actually am. Definitely Wishbone.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Not gonna lie

I sorta wanted the Australia/Canadian win the gold for Australia. The drama of no home gold needed to be drawn out a little more.

I'm sorta mean like that.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

Due to circumstances out of my control, the car I normally drive is unavailable. I'm left with the monster truck van that I have to use a step stool to get into. I feel like a kid driving this car. The steering wheel literally comes to my chin.

I did have to drive, though, because I had a dinner party last night and I had to pick some things up. I had a dinner party for three married couples the day before Valentine's Day. Right, I know. It went really well, the food tasted great, and it was a lot of fun. One day people will ask my friends what they're doing Saturday night and they'll respond, "Oh, Amy's having one of her famous dinner parties." You can totally come.

Is it weird my favourite part of prep is setting the table?

I practiced making the dinner for the party on Wednesday when we had our first snow day. (Yes, you can practice cooking. Some of us should.) On Friday my mom turned to me and said, "Just an observation... You know what you did during our two snow days, right?" I spent like 12 hours baking and cooking and twenty minutes writing.

There are a lot of reasons. I needed to practice cooking. Sometimes, writing isn't always fun. I'm in between projects right now. But I think the problem is that I'm not in the habit of writing every day. It takes a lot of motivation to sit down and write in the first place, and if you're not in a habit, it's ten times more difficult. And I've been saying for the past few months that I'm going to get in a new routine. And I haven't. However, I have this visual reminder in my room of how much work I should be doing.

Between my corkboard collage of movie tickets and my Empire Strikes Back poster. That's right. I have a Star Wars poster in my bedroom.

The big screenwriting competitions, some film festivals. And their deadlines. Deadlines help. And it's not like they're six months away anymore. April, May. Just enough time to get a script cleaned up.

So I have a week off of work. A week free. A perfect time to pick up a habit.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Gold Dust in my Eyes

This has been a rollercoaster week. Man, if only Monday had started with a "must be this tall to ride" sign and I could have bypassed it.

My school found that they needed another aide, but since our district doesn't have enough money to hire one (listen. Once you prorate an aide's salary for a late February start date, you could pay for it with the superintendent's pocket change.), I spent Monday afternoon in the third grade in what was expected to be a new permanent routine.

Tuesday. Not only am I going to third grade in the afternoon, I'm spending an hour and a half with first grade in the morning. I've been in the first grade class before, and I'm starting to get to know the third graders, so I think I handle the transitions pretty well. Still. Three classrooms. Three grades. Ex-hausting. I think Coworker J might have caught a video on her camera phone of my head spinning. I return to second grade at the end of the day to hear that I'm being kept with the second graders all day in a return to my normal schedule.

Wednesday we had a snowday. Yay! I was very productive. I made macaroni and cheese, taco soup, cheddar and dill scones, hot fudge pudding cake, and Oreo brownies (can life get any better than Oreo brownies?). My family and I also finally finished watching Alias. Yes, by the end of five seasons, I had my entire family watching it with me. I'm a little sad that it's over. I'm a little overwhelmed by how much time I spent watching it (and no, I didn't try to figure it out precisely nor do I want to try). I feel like I learned some stuff though, especially about story development over a series, so it definitely counts as "research" and not just "waste of time."

Today we had another snowday. We believe that this is because they were inclined to give us a delayed opening but we had a 1:00 dismissal anyway, so what's the point of even going to school at all? (Along with that reasoning, we have all of next week off, so why bother going in tomorrow?)

Today I also found out I didn't get the job I was pursuing here in New Jersey. It's ok, since it wasn't a job in my field, but it did have some attractive qualities. It also offered security, and now that I'm thinking about my options, I'm leaning towards a little bit of a riskier direction, delving into the dirt poor life of a film grad sooner than perhaps expected. So if anyone has any films or film related work, I've got this summer free...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

101 Things in 1001 Days

So a couple years ago I made a list of 101 things I'd like to do in 1001 days. My end date was February 4, 2010, so I thought I'd repost the list and whether or not I completed the items. I fell pretty short, but it's fun to have a tangible list. I italicized the things that I did. Here we go:

1. Paint a self portrait.
2. Obtain a new iPod (hmm, Christmas)
3. Ride in a Mustang
4. Give a Slice of Life at church
5. Give someone flowers for no reason
6. Break into the Big House
7. Sing karaoke
8. Write a short story for an anthology, something fun
9. Start a "scrap book" collection of my writings, rejection letters, correspondences, etc. [I think they're all in an envelope or a box or something somewhere together... Not really a great scrapbooker.]
10. Defeat Zelda on the Wii
11. Learn to knit (and knit something)
12. Read at least one book a month and feel badly if I don't read two [I didn't do well on the habitually ones, but I am proud to say I'm getting back into leisure reading.]
13. Get a credit card [I've been preapproved...? This one is happening in like the next two weeks. 1011 days?]
14. Attend a movie premiere
15. Hang out at the MET all by myself
16. Start keeping better track of my finances
17. Tell that secret
18. Finish reading the Narnia series [Yes, believing that I did read the Magician's Nephew when I was little.]
19. Send everyone in my extended family birthday cards for a year
20. Go back to AU, if only for next year's graduation [Went back for Emily and Adam's wedding sometime around the start of the list, before or after. It counts.]
21. Buy a book of the Onion's Best Of
22. Paint at least once a month
23. Go to a Michigan basketball game [I went to one... at some point in my life. I'm going to count it.]
24. Visit three new cities [Edinburgh, Las Vegas, and LA]
25. Take Lindsay out when she graduates Cederville and she has no more "rules" [Not my fault this one didn't happen.]
26. Go sledding [I lost my battery dead cellphone in the snow in a park. Miraculously, someone found it, recharged it, and called my dad. I got it back.]
27. Go to Canada with friends from Ann Arbor
28. Start the novel on our family history
29. Die my hair an unnatural color (definitely something wash out) [Red streaks, baby!]
30. Go to the top of the Empire State Building [Do you know how expensive this actually is?]
31. Take an art workshop/class
32. Convince at least one new person to participate in the Dance Marathon
33. Win a game of bowling for once
34. Visit a national park [Camping in the Smokey Mountains!]
35. Go to the northern peninsula of Michigan
36. Restore Classic on my computer so I can play Scarab of Ra [Um, you can't do this for some reason! Biggest flaw ever, Mac.]
37. Find Dino Park Tycoon [Ditto above.]
38. Pick a list of 100 greatest movies and watch the ones I haven't seen [Yeah, I'm a terrible film person.]
39. Fill up one of my prayer/spiritual journals
40. Go kite-flying at night, preferably in the snow
41. Memorize a Bible verse a month
42. Buy a plant and manage to keep it alive for the whole school year
43. Go back to HCA or alumni night at least once
44. Every time I'm with friends and see those overpriced photo booths, take pictures [Yes, I did not realize HOW overpriced or how prevalent they are. Still, I did this once with Best Friend D. We got tiny stickers with a Jaws shark approaching our tiny heads.]
43. Go to at least three balls every year
44. Send an anonymous valentine
45. Buy the second book of the Firebird series to complete my trilogy
46. See a meteor shower [NOT for lack of trying! Curse you, cloudy nights.]
47. Go to a food festival/state fair/renaissance fair (or something similar)
48. Give up something for Lent
49. Go to the top of the Bell Tower when the bells are ringing
50. Throw a surprise party
51. Take a spring break trip with friends
52. Play scratch lotto
53. Finish a novel independent of National Novel Writing Month
54. Adopt a Soldier
55. Write 2 letters a week as a habit
56. Take swing dancing lessons for at least a semester and then find a nice place to go swing dancing so I can wear that super cute dress Aunt Pat bought for me yesterday
57. Drink water with one meal a day as a habit
58. Enter the Nicholl every year
59. Write my own song, music and lyrics
60. Go to a concert
61. Paint my face for a Michigan Football game [Ok, so I never really painted my face. But I wore face tattoos all the time and once let Dear Friend G doodle on my face with a blue crayon. He said it was Mike Hart's running pattern.]
62. Write and shoot my own short
63. Get an internship
64. Graduate [I was really reaching by this point, can't you tell?]
65. Send Adam Brody a query about The 4:05
66. Go to L.A. [Um, does this mean I can't count LA for the three new cities one?]
67. Organize my photos on Snapfish
68. Back up my computer [Yet, I did this one early on in the game. Probably do for another back up.]
69. Smash pennies on the train tracks
70. Go to an outdoor film
71. Attend at least one showing at the Ann Arbor Film Festival
72. Find the Times Square kiss purse and buy it
73. Finish reading the books of the New Testament [Ugh, perhaps most mortified about this one. Still working on it.]
74. Throw an Oscar party
75. Throw another pirate party
76. See the Wilsons again [ :-) ]
77. Have 7 completed feature length screenplays by the end of the 1001 days (including ones already written) [Five completed features and two TV scripts.]
78. Go star gazing [We canoed out to the middle of a lake and went star gazing. It was pretty cool.]
79. Watch the sunrise over the ocean [Saw a sunset over the Pacific.]
80. See the Northern Lights
81. Buy a fish as a pet
82. Kiss in the rain
83. Go sailing
84. Have a girls-only picnic
85. Get on a bus/train not knowing where I'm going until I buy the ticket
86. Read the Purpose Driven Life
87. Help out with youth group for a school year
88. Start tithing again [Does it count if I start this week?]
89. Grow out my hair to cut it for Locks of Love again [I got impatient and cut it at 8 inches. It didn't go to Locks of Love, but I sent it to Pantene's similar organization.]
90. Go Christmas caroling
91. Write another Star Wars story
92. Write fan mail to get at least one celebrity autograph
93. Get my driver's license [HA! Take that, all you doubters.]
94. Visit at least 2 new countries [Does Scotland count as a country? Even still, I'm only halfway there.]
95. Visit at least 5 new states [Nevada, California. I don't think Utah counts since I only had a layover in it.]
96. Visit Sarah at PBA and Lindsay at Cederville
97. Once a season, take a day just to walk around with my camera and take pictures
98. Act in a short film again [I had a cameo in my own! ;) ]
99. Write a story on my typewriter (make sure I have tape for it)
100. Get a professional massage
101. Make it to Florida for Holly's wedding [Though it was held in Indiana instead.]

It would be kinda cool to make a second list for the next 1001 days because my life could be increasingly fluid in the next few years. But I think instead that I should just keep working on this list. :)

Monday, February 08, 2010

Good things come in 3s

Billy Mernit has a wonderful post about the return of romance. Hollywood Friend A (like that?) was just expounding to me this afternoon about the excess of cynicism in romantic comedies, and I thought Billy's post was a nice complement.

Someday I will demonstrate my domestic charm by making some very lucky boy this. Right now, it's too much effort.

Also, I'm for Team Tenley.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

It was my birthday.

This was my first time being home for my birthday in five years. Actually, that's not even technically true, because I was technically in Virginia Beach for my birth-date. And I was sorta just going to dismiss it. But my mom found an Irish pub restaurant that had Irish music on Sundays, so last week instead of watching football (it very nicely worked out to be on a day without a football game. Elsewise who knows what we would have done) we went out to dinner. I requested "Galway Girl" from the musicians, the only, erm, "appropriate" Irish song I know. It was kinda like this --

Except instead of Gerard Butler it was two adorable Irish gentlemen who'd come over to America to escape the potato famine. And instead of young twenty-something native Irishfolk the patrons were families or other elderly Irishmen and women who had a surprisingly aggressive presence on the dance floor. My nephew wouldn't dance for fear of being trampled.

Then we went home for cake and ice cream. Now you must understand that growing up, we always had pretty extravangantly decorated cakes. We had castles and trains and scenes from Star Wars. My mom tried very hard to either fit the theme of the party or to have our cake symbolize something that had been important to us in the past year. When we got home, my sister informed me that I'd have to decorate my own cake. I enjoy all things baked and delicious, so this wasn't a problem.

First she pulled out a sheet cake. Then she started making the icing. When I walked into the kitchen, it was a lovely gray color. At this point I was really thinking it had something to do with second graders and education, like they were going to make me do simple math on my cake and send me into the shakes out of anxiety. But no, I was instructed to wash my hands thoroughly, which I did, and the cake was set before me. And then I got to do this --

I stuck my hands on the icing --

I signed my autograph --

And I had my very own edible piece of Hollywood legacy. Screenwriters only make Grauman's Chinese Theatre if they're also directors or stars, but I got a chance to practice just in case. My family did pretty well, didn't they?

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Amy Goes to the Movies

First of all, Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland is looking more and more amazing. And last night I found out it's going to be in IMAX 3D. Not gonna lie, I might be more tickled about Alice than I ever was about Avatar.

Of course, when they make a biopic about me, I will be played by Helena Bonham Carter. Because, you know, that makes sense, considering she's about 15 years older than I.

Curly hair sisterhood. Never mind that she plays mostly twisted characters.

Last night I went to see When in Rome. It was free movie night, so no, I did not go out of my way and pay to see this movie. It was actually a second choice anyway. We were going to see Up in the Air, but it was sold out. When in Rome was actually funnier than I expected, though still absolutely ridiculous. Let me tell you, the audience did not laugh like that when I saw Leap Year. And I had difficulty distinguishing Will Arnett from the magician character, especially when Jon Heder used "illusions!" instead of "tricks."

versus --

Alliance approved

Since I'm (sorta) writing a rom com right now, I've been thinking a lot about the stereotypical characters that seem to be really tired from running the gambit recently. I think this especially concerns female characters, who are often writing flat or shallow. As When in Rome opened, HS Friend L leaned over and whispered to me, "Let me guess -- another anti-love uptight workaholic." And yes, Kristen Bell even monologued about how she didn't need a relationship because she was married to her job.

I haven't done any hard research, but I'm pretty sure most of the Hollywood produced rom coms of the past few years have featured career-driven female leads. These numbers radically peak when you examine Katherine Heigl films alone. But what's on the flip side? If Katherine Heigl can be the spokesperson for the female rom com lead stereotype, who represents the male characters? I used to think that women were being short changed in this laziness of character development until I realized that the boys don't fare much better. They are the models of man-boyhood for every teenage boy who sees Knocked Up to aspire to. The "opposites attract" model of the last decade has been workaholic uptight responsible woman clashes with laid back fun loving man boy. Billy Mernit is really the guru here. He talks a lot about it - and with much more eloquence than I - on his blog.

I understand why. I understand that the biggest transformation will occur if you have one character who's focus is not on love but on their work. I understand that the female audience being targeted is increasingly more educated and professional (and the corresponding cultural question of whether or not a career is just a woman's placeholder for a relationship). I understand that having an oppositional female character allows the female audience to play into the wish fullfilment of being pursued. I understand this is the easy way to write a rom com because that's the way I want to write mine and it's a real challenge to figure out how to flesh out my characters so that audiences will see something new.

Maybe this is why films like (500) Days of Summer are so refreshing. Finally -- the audience is introduced to someone new.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Good Car Music

Today I went to the library to pick up the last season of Alias (ahhh! Season Four ended crazily! I never could have handled the months between the finale and the premiere). I ran right to the shelf where they are -- and it wasn't there! Luckily, I had a second library location. But I couldn't just leave the library without getting anything because that would look weird and Super Cute Librarian was there so I had to get something (Hey! Don't you judge me...). So I found a book with interviews of screenwriters that I should read but probably won't and went to check it out. I took it to Super Cute Librarian, who said --


I probably just made him nervous.