Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Screenwriting Serendipity

Serendipity = a happy accident.

I like the word serendipity, always have. It's tossed around in library school as a known phenomenon. You enter a library (or bookstore), wander the stacks, and something draws you to a specific shelf. Or perhaps a pile of books tumble to your feet. Or an angry library biffs Volume 5 of the Encyclopedia Britannica at your head, ninja star style. Either way - magically - by the will of the fates - by serendipity / happy accident - THERE IT IS! The book you didn't even know you were looking for.

Well, serendipity struck yesterday and once again, I'm thankful. Instead of using my prize money from the wonderful Alberta Screenwriters Initiative award (and hawking a guitar)  for my writing partner and I to buy (and split) a pass to the Banff Media Festival - I'm suddenly sponsored to attend. Turns out a pass was part of the prize.

Go figure.

Now we can pitch our TV series pilots with impunity! All willy nilly and confident, because it didn't break the bank to get us there.

What a lovely, happy accident. I wish many such occurrences for all my writerly friends.

Here's a short / silly / homemade film from my old band, Rustic Charm, featuring our tune - you guessed it - Serendipity:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Random pitchin' is bitchin'

Writers are always testing their ideas out on unsuspecting victims. Might be a subtle, What if? question casually interjected into water cooler discussions. Or a full-on attack. "So, I've got this brilliant idea for a book/TV series/film...".

And then we spew out as much info as possible, fingers and butt cheeks crossed our victims don't get the glassy-eyed look of death that pronounce our idea SUCKS and it's time we KNEW IT.

But random pitchin' is bitchin' - it helps solidify ideas we haven't even written down yet, provides instant feedback / possibly a smack upside the head, and more importantly, provides invaluable experience delivering our loglines.

If you can't say your logline out loud for the world / your cat to hear - and make it sound like the next big thing - you need to get on board with random pitchin'.

Want to know how others are presenting their pitches? Well, my friends, there are a bevy of brave souls who have filmed their pitches and posted them YouTube. That's right - you can watch and learn - all from the safety of your home.

But someday, if you're serious about this business of writing, your going to have to send out a query letter, or attend a conference and pitch directly to an agent / manager, and you want to do it like the Brownies do it.


Jay Leno did a pitch feature his show, Pitch to America. You'll be appalled, shocked, thrilled, and mildly nauseous from some of these pitches. However, I NOW realize how I sound to friends when they innocently ask "How's the writing going?"and end up on the receiving end of a mini pitch fest. The words mentally disturbed come to mind.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Alberta Screenwriters Initiative Award

Not even a raging case of sinusitis can keep a snot-laden chick like me down when there's news to share. Just saw the official posting from the Writers Guild of Alberta that my edgy screenplay, Losing It, has nabbed first place for the Alberta Screenwriters Initiative award.

So very cool! I can't wait to see who I'm matched with for the workshop aspect. The more brains I can freekly pick, the safer YOU are. ;)

Here's a link to the full press release. And the smidge that makes my aching eyes feel almost human again:

This year’s jury had this to say about the winner: “Losing It is a refreshing story with a distinctive writing style that avoids the pitfalls and expected patterns of most teen comedies, to be fresh, quirky and unique in story structure, characters and writing style. The characters are memorable are well-developed and the situations manage to be both comic and affecting.” 


Many congrats to the second and third place scribes, Aaron Langvand and Jarrod Hills. Now let's all go and make some freaking movies. And somebody get me another box of tissue, it's getting messy around here...

Monday, May 21, 2012

Banff World Media Festival

Funny story.

A long time ago, in a far away land known as Edmonton...I worked in a legal library and my job included anything from shelving books, updating filing, updating statutes, tracking them back to British law, conducting lit searches,  database searches in Quicklaw-LexisNexis to find precedents in case law, scads of photocopying...you name it.

Everything was a rush. Suits abounded. We chewed on stress like bubblegum. Without it, I couldn't function.

Then my husband and I moved to this small, wonderful town of Cold Lake, where he landed his first teaching job and I scooped up an elementary school library position. I went from highlighting lines in Vriend v. Alberta to reading picture books aloud to young children. Talk about culture shock.

Anyway, during my time at the law firm, writing fiction was a merely a hobby of mine and most of my creative energy went toward the very cool little band I was with at the time, Dark-Eyed Junco. But I was intrigued when one day it was announced that a lawyer at the firm, Greg Ball, was leaving to pursue other things.

Screenwriting things.

Greg Ball and his writing partner, Steve Blackman, had written a pilot episode for a legal drama and pitched it at the Banff World Media Festival - successfully. The resulting show, The Associates, ran for two seasons. Ball also earned writing and production credits for shows like NYPD Blue and Bones. Here's an article on The Associates worth reading.

How I wish I'd been into scripts back in the day - I so could have picked his brain. ;) But I should get to the whole point of my rambling - the method Ball and Blackman used to pitch in Banff.

They were winging it all the way. Discovered at the last minute that meetups with executives / producers had to be scheduled in advance, could only afford to stay at a motel and not in the beautiful Banff Springs Hotel, almost got kicked out when it was discovered they didn't pay for the entire festival. They crashed the party, took risks, and won.

Here's the full scoop on their adventure in a Writer's Guild of Alberta article.

Now, this is an odd, inspiring story to me on many levels. My writing partner, Dawn Ius, and I are about to embark on our own Banff World Media excursion - this June - to pitch several TV series treatments.

Here's hoping we have even a portion of Ball and Blackman's success.

The Quest: Screenwriting Contest

Aspiring screenwriters...here's an opportunity you DON'T want to miss. Scott Myers, screenwriter, writing instructor, producer, director, blogger - is offering a six-month "internship" to four lucky screenwriters. 

At the end of their journey, these scribes will have been immersed in Myers screenwriting methodology - which usually costs a pretty penny (he teaches Master Classes / has major production credits), produced a full-length feature script, and if the product is solid - Myers will help open a few of those dead-bolted industry doors.

Check out his posts this week to get you in the script subbing frame of mind - then give it a shot. THE QUEST is on!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Alright Already

It's been awhile since I had the hankering to blog as myself. My dreadfully paranormal alter ego, Judith Graves, can be a bit POSSESSive that way. But with a few contemporary fiction and screenwriting projects in the works, I thought, alright already - it's time to flex a different set of writerly muscles.

The non-supernatural kind.

Which means, I might post boring stories about my three labs, library related resources or issues (I am a library technician by day, after all), writing life, writing craft (not to be confused with witchcraft although many believe there's a bit of magic to it), screenwriting, plotting, storyboarding, films, music, other coolio authors - whatever. I'd love to spark discussions, debates, debacles.

You want to read, you want to write. So do I.

Let's go a few rounds, my friends.

Flex Your Words, baby!