Saturday, June 21, 2008

For every action there is a vague and underwhelming reaction.

KIRK reacts.


At my internship, I’ve been reading a lot of scripts (mostly TV pilots), and writing lots of coverage. In just three weeks at UBS, I’ve written about 36 pages worth of coverage—I’ve been writing at a rate of about one end-of-the-semester film analysis paper per week. Needless to say, some scripts were good, some were shit, and most were somewhere in-between (or as we like to say at UBS: CONSIDER, PASS, and CONSIDER WITH REVISIONS).

And in my short time of reading spec pilots, I’ve found one word that I have now sworn to never use in a script ever again. Ever. And if any of you catch yourselves using it, you need to get down on bended knee and pray to the Cylon God to forgive you of your sin. And then burn the script.

What is this most hated of words, you might ask?

The word is “react”.

Perhaps an example is in order:

INT. FORENSICS LAB - NIGHT

MIKEY
We finished analyzing the blood sample.

GRETCH
And…anything interesting?

MIKEY
It’s AB Positive, and whoever it belongs to
(dramatic pause)
…has AIDS.

As Gretch REACTS…

END OF ACT

Why is this bad? Because it tells us exactly nothing. We don’t know if what Mikey said surprises Gretch or if he saw it coming. We don't even know if it makes him angry, sad, perplexed or jubilant. Literally all it tells us is that one character (Gretch) understood another (Mikey).

Part of why this annoys me is that it really isn’t that hard to make the description a little more specific (or a little more descriptive, maybe?). I'd much rather see something with a little more flavor, like Gretch reels. His entire case is crumbling before him. or even Gretch smiles. Looks like he was right all along. I mean, obviously not that, that’s the bad version. But give it something to liven up the description, and make it not so vague and ambiguous.

I know some people hate wordy description like this—usually saying something to the effect that it isn’t “actable”. But for my money, description like that makes the script much more enjoyable to read. And if the person reading your script is enjoying it, then you’ve already won half the battle.

What about you? Is there ever a word that you just can’t stand in a script? (or fiction, or poetry, or whatever is your particular cup of tea) Something that you find yourself writing, and then immediately taking out?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

In and out

I think this about every girl I ever meet.



In other news, a real post is forthcoming, I just thought I'd take a break from the four coverages I need to finish for tomorrow. Yeah, and I was afraid I'd be stuck just getting coffee.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

This is me, keeping my job and not getting sued.

This could have been me. What with UBS's super-advanced circa-2015 technology.


Josh brought to my attention that mentioning the Unnamed Big Studio that I'm interning at may not be the best idea, even when I have nothing but great things to say about it. So, after careful consideration lasting no more than 30 seconds, I deleted every reference to the actual name of Unnamed Big Studio, and replaced it with the more benign "Unnamed Big Studio" (Or UBS, which is cool for other reasons).

But regardless, my internship at UBS has been pretty great thus far, if a little taxing at times. I had three TV pilots to read and write coverage on last weekend, and then three more for this weekend. Add to that my initial Barista training, the online Spanish class I have to finish, and the great quantities of people that have been visiting me in California, you have no free time for Matt. Poor Matt.

Which is why I don't have that much more to say. I have two more scripts to read before I go to bed tonight. So sorry, this space may stay boring for a little while longer now. I'll try to blargh sometime next week.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

I'm just happy to be a corporate whore.

I now officially love my internship.

Yesterday was my second day at Unnamed Big Studio, and much to my glee, we had our first development meeting. Sure, it we were supposed to meet at 11:30, and it didn't actually start until 6, but I was having so much fun in the meeting I didn't notice that it ended well past 8 o'clock at night. Am I weird because I describe meetings as "fun"?

No, I'm weird because I play Dungeons and Dragons, and babble on about the Star Wars: CCG when I'm drunk.

Anyway.

We had 2 pitches for Russian shows that, as it turns out, were both take-offs of a certain mid-nineties show. I had joked about the similarities in my coverage, but my supervisor informed me that in reality they were both attempts to make an updated version of the show that would work for Russian audiences. Hey, so long as they can find an adequate Russian version of Kyle Chandler, I'm game for anything.

Anyway, we spent about an hour or so doing exactly what I love to do: talking about TV. Sure, it was about translated russian pitches, and not actual shows. But as I sat there, talking about how to strengthen the episodic conflicts, ramp up interpersonal tension, and set up season-long story arcs for the shows, I realized that I was loving it. And it felt like the most natural thing in the world.

I'd like to think that it's what a writers room feels like at its best. Arguing about character motivations, complicated plot holes, and even squeezing in a discussion of the most recent LOST finale.

And on top of that, Starbucks called me back on my lunch break. Yes, my caffiene-laden dreams have risen from the ashes, and as of next Thursday, I will sell my newly christened Barista-Soul™ to the corporate hegenomy that is Starbucks Coffee.

Of course my soul is already part-owned by the corporate hegenomy that is Unnamed Big Studio, so they'll have to work out between the two of them which one is my primary corporate pimp.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

I cannot confirm or deny this post

My first day at Unnamed Big Studio went pretty well, thank you very much. I got there early, so I had to wait around in the lobby for about a half-hour. This was fine with me, since the lobby was filled with movie memorabilia, which I have chosen to not name in order to not reveal the identity of Unnamed Big Studio.

Then it was off to the exciting world of Human Resources, where I got to sign my very first non-disclosure agreement. Which probably means I'll be fired for blogging about this. Well, not really, but I'm gonna play it safe, just in case.

From now on, I'm going to leave out any thought or opinion that could possibly be construed as a derogatory or disparaging statement about the company, its parent companies, or any of its products. Which means that if I don't like the [redacted] I got for my birthday, or if I have less than glowing thoughts about [big summer movie from Unnamed Big Studio], or if I ever see these scenes in context [left in because it's just too funny], then none of these things will ever make it into this blog.

So in a general sense, leaving out anything remotely confidential, it was a pretty good first day. I wrote my first coverage, which I'm sure will get much less exciting as the summer goes on.

Also, Starbucks never called me back, so I'm assuming that's dead in the water. I guess I'll just have to apply to any of the other THREE Starbucks that are within walking distance from my house.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

My three jobs (hopefully)

I have my first LA job today.

One of my dad's friends called me up a few days ago, asking if I'd like to be a camera assistant for a day. I gave him the nice-Christian-man version of "hell yes, sign me the fuck up.", and here I am. It's $150 for the day, which is a bit less than the going rate, but I'm happy with whatever I can get at this point.

There's an old steam engine that's going from Los Angeles to San Diego and back, which it apparently hasn't done for over half a century. We're the official video team for the trip, with one crew on the train, and the other following it down the freeway, getting exterior shots. Thankfully, I'll be on the train, helping the cameraman, and also passing out cards to the passengers. It's also a very beautiful view from what I'm told.

So that's exciting.

Also, it's just occured to me that I haven't said really anything about my internship at all. And since it starts on Monday (oh God, tomorrow, I guess I'll just fill you guys in.

For those who don't know, I'm going to be interning at an Unnamed Big Studio, in the International Development department. It's an exciting opportunity, even though it's not exactly what I'm looking for. I'm looking to make my mark on domestic television rather than international television, but hey at least it's TV, right? The basic principles should be essentially the same. And I'll be doing the same thing anyway: writing coverage, making copies, filing, and just in general being everyone's bitch.

I can't wait.

As a final note on my employment situation, I had an interview for a part-time job at my local Starbucks yesterday. And when I say local, I literally mean a block and a half from my apartment. It takes me two minutes to walk to it, and less than two minutes to walk to the one a block and a half from that one. I never realized that the "Starbucks on every block" cliche was based on something real (of course, I never realized until I moved out here that Weinerlicious from Chuck was based on something real). Go figure.

Anyway, the interview went well, and I'll find out what happens tomorrow.

I've got a big couple days ahead of me.