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.

Take advantage of your emotions and write something Good.

You’re stressed. You’re tired. Confused and disgruntled. You maybe upset about something, maybe a loss or a big change.

Your body is reacting emotionally. Take advantage of these times and pour it all out, into your writing.

The pain will show on your page. The passion will shape the scene and words will flow.

Writing always helps curve my anxiety. Writing makes me feel in control — where in reality, I’m not. It’s not going to fix your problems, but perhaps writing will help you deal with your issues.

Before, when I was stressed, writing was the last thing I wanted to do. Let’s face it; it’s a job that few take the time to do. But as I practiced more and more, I began to see writing as a therapy session.

I suppose this is why adolescents journal their feelings.

I do journal, but I keep it to a minimal. Instead, I pour my emotions into my characters and my scenes. I try to instill those very feelings I’m dealing with, into the paper. I don’t always succeed. But I always feel better.

And remember it could always be worse…

Often the scripts we write are nearly absurd. Character’s issues are always worse than ours. For example…TAKEN… My problems are nowhere close to Liam Neeson’s. His daughter was kidnapped! Poor guy. Thank god he had all that prior training…

Horrible movie by the way.

So when I hit the keyboard and realize life could be so much worse, the challenges I face in reality become manageable.

Suddenly, your life doesn’t seem so bad. And after you leave your computer, you’ll have a little more confidence.

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

Succesful writers have one thing in common. And it’s so obvious.

There’s one thing that ALL successful writers do. And they do it a lot.

THEY WRITE.

I know this is an obvious point. But too many times I come across people who claim to be writers, that don’t actually write.

Writers write. That is all.

And then again, I come across too many talented “writers” who don’t write enough. Or at all.

If you want to be a writer, you actually have to write. From what I’ve read and heard, you have to write everyday. Or it’s recommended I should say.

I have developed a habit to do so. I sit at my desk, I make the time and I write.

There is a yearning in all for us for greatness — and by greatness I mean happiness. And by happiness I mean fulfillment of one’s desires. If you’re a writer, or a want to be writer, then make sure you write. I’m guessing there is a lot of you “writers” out there today who know they don’t write enough. They don’t have the time. Or they don’t make the time. They tell themselves everyday or every week — how they will write more. Or write at all…

Before I wrote everyday, I wrote when I felt like it. When my heart desired, I sat down and wrote. What happened was that I only wrote, two or MAYBE three times a week. There were weeks where I didn’t write at all.

Saying, acting and yearning is not enough. I chose this to be my path of desire. In order to get there, in order to make money doing what I love to do, I understand I will have to take and make the time to do that exact thing!

It all seems obvious, I know. But I’m sure there are a lot of writers who know, they don’t write as much as they should.

I hope you write today. I hope you write tomorrow as well. And then so on for the next fifty years of your long writing careers.

Always be writing. Everyday.

-REH

Lincoln to Sherman: Nothing Risked – Nothing Gained

After his tyrannical march to the sea, the capturing and burning of Savannah, Sherman sent a letter to Lincoln, giving him what he called a “Christmas gift”. This was the ultimate gift, as the Civil War would meet its finale some months later, when the Confederate Army would surrender to the Union forces in early April.

Lincoln was reluctant on Sherman’s burning march to the sea. But on his “thank you” letter back to Sherman, Lincoln wrote and noted that he remembered “Nothing Risked – Nothing Gained”.

This idea: If you don’t risk, you will gain nothing — goes a long way. It’s been said in various ways through out history in philosophy and beyond. And is the basis for any avid gambler.

We must take chances. We must put ourselves out there. We must risk our dignity and ego to gain something in return.

When Sherman marched through Georgia and burned everything in sight – perhaps he risked his reputation. He risked losing the war. Lee was pinned to the North. On the other side of the country, another confederate army was awaiting Sherman’s next move. Sherman was forced to make a decision to not engage either of these armies, but instead, he captured Atlanta and marched onto Savannah, where he evacuated civilians, burned crops, infrastructure and left behind complete wreckage; the south’s capacity of warfare was broken. It was nothing short of complete brutality.

We come across these obstacles in everyday life. Whether it has to do with our careers or our relationships. We must take risks if we want to gain — easier said than done. We face the uncertainly of failure and humiliation. We have to ask ourselves, is it worth it?

The risk of losing can weigh heavy on the mind. We often choose the path of certainty. The path that is easy.

Today, we see so many talented people choose a career path that will just get them by. One that offers confidence of money and a limited struggle. They wrap themselves in a blanket of this security. As humans, we often yearn for more. More satisfaction and greatness, yet we often do very little about it. We often dream and speak of this yearning of greatness and satisfaction. We talk to our peers about what are plans are. We speak in hindsight and in hypothetical situations. But yet we seldom take the actions to make these things come true.

This is where the risk factor seems to come into play. Is it worth it?

Now this is where the lines fade. Each person has a different definition of what makes him or her happy? What they want or wanted to do? So when I speak in terms of “settling” you can choose whether or not to agree or not agree that you have settled.

You want to make music? You want to go to the NFL? You really like art, but the employment outlook isn’t good for a sculptor?

Yet you don’t think you got it — you think you’ll be poor. I’ll struggle and risk everything… you could have.

But stand back and look at what you’re risking. When you settle for the easy route, one that doesn’t challenge you, one that doesn’t test your will and ability to strive, you risk your happiness.

This route may offer happiness in the eyes of others, but often you’ll find yourself dreaming bigger and imagining the hypothetical day of change. If that’s what you’re willing to risk, then make music. Put yourself out there. Exit that bubble of self-security and try too something that REALLY satisfies you.

What happened to being an astronaut? Or a firefighter? There was a point in our life, where suddenly those BIG dreams faded and “reality” kicked in. Maybe it was when we started to understand money and how much it matters. How much we need it. Or maybe it was when we discovered sex. It changed how we dressed and acted. If I want to have sex, I need a job, I need money. Therefore being a musician or a sculptor or an astronaut is a tough route — I’ll have to risk things; I’ll have to take this security blanket off; I’ll have to work and strive and suffer and struggle — is it worth it?

We need to go back to when we were eleven. We need to again look forward to future and leave the cynical attitudes at the door. Find what makes you happy. DO what you enjoy and fight for that. This is life and there is only one at bat. There is no second chance. There is no other “time around” when you’ll be able to try something different.

If you dream of fame, money, glory or you just do prefer living in a cabin somewhere in the woods, in peace and harmony — then why aren’t you doing that?

Why wouldn’t you risk it? If you don’t risk it, you will gain nothing and therefore you will living with regret and continue to dream BIG, without ever reaching those dreams.

Sherman risked everything he had. He set his goals and he literally burned everything in his pathway to reach those goals. He had to win the war. It was his mission. His obligation. His risk…

He followed through.

It can start now. It can start tomorrow. It can start next Monday. You owe it to yourself.

-REH

Be patient. Don’t force it. But be adamant in your search.

Something is missing. It’s flat. It’s boring.

I have had these feelings on various occasions upon finishing a 1st draft of a script.

Even after all that pre-writing and outlining, the story is missing something. Perhaps it’s a bigger plot point, or action or something riveting that really makes the story original.

I didn’t notice when I was prepping the script. I was so excited that I thought the story had it all. This is why rewrites are so important.

Trust that you’ll find that missing piece in the rewriting process…

When this first occurred it was easy to shutdown and give up. I had gone through about five drafts of an old script and it still felt flat. I wanted to scream, even after all that digging and searching, the script didn’t have it. I had options….

I could panic. Throw it away and move on.

Or I could relax. Take a deep breath and be patient.

This recently occurred for a feature I’m writing. The first draft was junk. But I knew I would find it. I took it on with patience. I didn’t force it — forcing it results in a lot of further drafts that will be again, flat and unoriginal. But instead, I stepped back and reviewed everything.

I go back on my original notes for the script. I try and see what sparked the original idea in the first place. Sometimes those little tidbits of great stuff get lost in all the other writing.

I go back to the books. I began researching, looking for loose threads that can lead to somewhere great.

How can I change this story? What can happen? What is missing?

I am patient. I don’t force it. But I am adamant in my search for the missing piece.

I also trust my instinct when I find the missing link. I know it as soon as it pops in my head. Sometimes I’ll be writing something else, or be in the shower, or in bed, playing tennis or with my cats. I immediately find a pen and notebook to jot it down.

If I’m at my desk, alone, I will CHEER to myself. Literally, I clap my hands and say,  “I got it!”

It’s a wonderful feeling. Suddenly all that bore and flatness of the story goes away and the script comes to life and hope is again, rejuvenated.

These are the joys of rewriting. These are joys of molding a story into something you love.

I am sad to say I have given up on one or two scripts, which I couldn’t “find”. That’s okay. Sometimes they still pop in my head, and a loose thread is tied. I write it down and say to myself…I’ll eventually come back to that.

I write on.

Always be writing. Everyday.

-REH