Onward and Upward

This weekend we finished post-production on a short film, No Time for Romance. It’s a fourteen minute short about a pregnant wife who must decide to stay with her live-in boyfriend or prepare for the end of the world. It’s really about much more than that though: the rising nuclear tensions and the effects it has on a relationship with differing views.

My producing partner and I shot the film earlier this year. It’s been a long time coming. The production didn’t go as planned and the audio was a mess. There were disagreements on the script (that never fully felt complete by the time of filming). In short, we learned a lot.

Upon finalizing and exporting the film, my partner expressed how much he liked it. How good it felt to be done. I felt the same way, but differently.

I replied, “No one will watch it and we’ll make more. Onward and upward.”

He agreed. This might sound complacent but it’s the opposite.

The film won’t win Oscar. And it most likely won’t launch our careers into quitting our jobs and becoming full-time moviemakers. We had a story and we wanted to tell it. Did it come out EXACTLY the way we wanted? No. But that’s okay. Few things do.

I have boughten into this idea/advice from filmmakers like Mark Duplass (and others) whose motto of “just make movies.”

Every project is another lesson for the next one. We have other projects in the works, both together and separately, my producing partner and I. Writing is the same way. With every project you learn something, you get better, you home your voice, your practice.

And as much as we’d love the fame and attention for our projects, the likes and the shares and the views—we know it’s not about that. It can’t be. If it was, we would have quit a long time ago. It’s about the work, the process, the collaboration, the storytelling.

Just write. Just paint. Just workout. Just sew. Set your goals but know it can’t be about the outcome. It has to be about the work.

When facing that lurking feeling of creative self-doubt, born from resistance, waiting to devour all of your dreams and ambitions—Theo Roosevelt said it best:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Come join us in the arena.

This isn’t our first film and it won’t be our last. The next one will be better, and the next one better than that. Fail again. Fail better.

Check out the film here:  No Time For Romance

Thanks for reading. Always be writing.

 

-REH

Go back to where it all started.

When a good idea comes, I write it down. Eventually the really good ones are turned into a screenplay.

But all these “good ideas” are placed into a folder on the computer.

Often when I begin my outline, I copy and past the very first notes into another word document where I can continue to build the idea, thus leaving the very first starter note as is.

So one long night….
I went back to the starter ideas that were turned into screenplays…

What I found:

Most of the time the notes don’t even apply to the screenplay anymore. But I did find that they are filled with meaning and substance.

On the good screenplays I’ve written, that meaning and substance stuck.

On the bad screenplays, the meaning and substance was clearly lost. Probably in the shuffle of structure, characters and the basic to-do list of a screenplay.

I was also inspired by a lot of the notes. They actually brought on new ideas, which I quickly wrote down. I realized that these starter notes were crucial. I wrote them down for a reason. It’s what inspired me in the first place. And when I write a new story, I need to remember where it all started — where it all came from.

Go back and review your free flowing thoughts. I think you’ll find something. I know I did.

Always be writing. Everyday.

Save the Egg Roll

Chinese leftovers is king.

I love ordering out, they always give you more than you can eat, thus leaving plenty for the following day’s lunch. In the take out order, you get your main dish, your rice and an egg roll.

(There’s nothing like doing rewrites with a big plate of Chinese and an egg roll in front of you)

I always save the egg roll for the following day. This is very important, and it goes to show you how I live my life and how you should start living your life as well.

It’s about waiting. The egg roll is great. Even though I want to eat it as soon as I see it, I don’t. I let it sit in the fridge, waiting for me to eat it tomorrow.

I know, it’s just an egg roll and how can this possibly reflect life…?

PATIENCE. We want what we want, right now. Not later. RIGHT NOW. This is why we spend money right away; this is why we get frustrated and why three years olds throw tantrums — they don’t understand the idea of waiting for good things to happen.

And this is why saving the egg roll is important for writing screenplays. It’s about patience. For the past two years I’ve spent my days working on my scripts — writing everyday. It’s a struggle. Sometimes I just want to scream. Everyday it’s another goal. And everyday, well most of the days, I receive no instant gratification. So it would be easy to put it all down and walk away. Forget about it!

But I know, I’m laying the bricks, building my platform, becoming a better writer, so one day I can eat that egg roll — and I will be successful.

It’s not going to happen tomorrow. Not next week. It’ll be years. I’m prepared for that. But this is why you need to keep going. You can’t stop or give up. Now if it were as easy as grabbing an egg roll out of the fridge to be successful, everyone would be doing it. The analogy is the egg roll is there. You just have to earn it, if you want to eat it…you need to put it away and wait. Go do your homework. Go strive. You’ll know when it’s time to eat.

I just realized this is my second posting that has to do with Chinese food. Strange.

Always be writing. Everyday.

-REH

New Orleans Film Festival, here we come!

Good news!

The short film I produced earlier this year was selected for the 2013 NEW ORLEANS FILM FESTIVAL!

I blogged about it about five months ago, just after our kickstarter-funded production wrapped.  The writer, director, and editor, Gus Péwé, is just finishing up the final cut to send it off.

In all honestly, we weren’t expecting to have a final cut until Spring 2014.  You have to understand, this movie is like none other.  One of the characters in this 20 minute film, is completely rotoscoped.  Frame-by-frame animation had to be done.  It’s a total pain in the ass.  Just ask Gus.

To make things easier, I purchased Gus a Wacom Tablet, along with a carpel tunnel wrist guard.  The past month has been long and tedious for him.  I commend his endurance and drive.

So a trip to New Orleans should ease all the pain…

Our big plan was to take our time to finish the cut, and complete the animations.  We would then work the film festival circuit, and try to build a platform for the film.  Then we would release it  online.  From here, we would seek out funding for our next film — a feature Gus is currently writing.

But, we released a short teaser trailer this summer.  Actually two of them.  The second one was more revealing than the first. This is when Gus received a message from the director of the New Orleans Film Festival.  He he had watched the trailer and was very excited to see the final cut.  He  also expressed interest in the possibility of  showing the film in this year’s festival. See, another short Gus made, This Vacuum is Too Loud, was shown there last year.  So Gus knows it is a great festival.

Gus uploaded a very ROUGH cut of Same Ghost.  He sent it over to the director along with an access password.

A couple days later, Gus received a message.

The film was selected and, according to him, everyone at New Orleans was very excited to screen such an original movie.

Despite unedited sound, and animation that wasn’t even close to being done, the film was selected.  A deadline was set, and Gus got to work.

The NOFF staff saw what Gus and I saw when we filmed this movie: an original piece of work.

We are honored to premiere the movie at New Orleans this October.

We just recently purchased train tickets to New Orleans (I don’t fly).  We are ecstatic about the trip.  We are forever grateful for those who donated to our Kickstarter campaign, to those who helped make this possible and most of all, the support we have received from NOFF,  and our family and friends.

Today, we are looking forward to what the future holds.

Be sure to check out the trailer here.

-REH

Warming up, before a long writing day

I like to schedule a 30-minute time slot to warm up before writing.

On further reading, this appears to be the practice of many writers and I would highly recommend it.

But I still have yet to find that one warm-up I prefer. And let me be clear, I don’t necessarily always WRITE to warm-up.
At one point, I was going for a jog. Doing sit ups and push ups. My mission is to get focused. Clear my mind and ease into the project ahead.

Finding my favorite warm-up proves to be difficult. I’ve experienced them all:

Exercise. I ran a mile and half every morning. With sits-up and push-ups. But it got cold and I found myself crashing around mid-afternoon.

Free writing. Using Penzu — I journal my thoughts. Sometimes I have trouble getting them out. I use this more on my off days.

Grammar practice. I had a lesson-a-day grammar book — this helped tremendously and I ended up doing every day for a full year.

Luminosity — this cost some money. Using their regimented brain exercises, it really helped me with my math. But, it often wore me out. And eventually I dreaded doing it.

I have experimented with them all. Some mornings, I just sit there and drink my tea, read my horoscope and skim the headlines. This helps.

I also seek out blogs and articles that can inspire the muse for the day.

The important thing is to write. And no matter what warm-up I did, I always ended up writing.

If you have a special way of warming up, please share.

Always be writing. Everyday.

-REH

If you’re going to start something: Start Monday

I think this is a great practice.

Even know, I’m all about saving time and getting the most out of my day, starting Monday is the best idea when you take on a new goal.

Whenever I finish a new project. Or perhaps promise myself to start to working out; A new healthy diet. Or something that I always mean to do and never do…I tell myself  “I’ll start Monday”.

Now this only works if it’s not Monday. Then it becomes “I’ll start next Monday”

Allow yourself time to prepare for your new goal. Plan it. And tell yourself I’m going to do it. If you give yourself a couple of days, it gives you no reason to not do what you want to do — It doesn’t allow for any excuses.

For instance: my girlfriend wants to start eating only vegetarian.

Today she said, “Well maybe tomorrow I’ll start”. I said “NONSENSE! Start Monday.”

Monday is a great day of reckoning. It’s the beginning of the week (not technically). It’s the beginning of a workweek. It’s new. So much lies ahead.  You got the whole week ahead of you… to accomplish your goal.

When I finish a script on a Wednesday or Thursday…I never jump back into my next project the following day. I find other things to write. I still make progress but I tell myself: “On Monday… My next project will begin.”

It’s a mental thing. I jot it down in my schedule and there ya go. No excuses. No procrastinating. The three or four days I have to “think” about starting something new, is the procrastinating. It’s an excuse to procrastinate and think about the upcoming goal.

Always be writing. Everyday.

-REH

THE BIG WEST. Watch it here.

Some months ago, I blogged about a short film I produced called THE BIG WEST. It was written and directed by young and upcoming filmmaker Gus Péwé.

On Tuesday, at a local non-profit location, we premiered THE BIG WEST to our friends and family.

The final cut was 15 minutes. With a micro-budget, friends for actors and little resources, I believe we took a step into furthering our careers.

And that’s what it’s all about.

I utterly enjoyed making this movie — with people who take movie making as seriously as I do.

I hope you enjoy.

-REH

Music by Sonic Mound