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

The day I broke the chain.

2 years, 3 months, and 13 days.

It was a Monday. April 14th.

When I started this blog more than two years ago, I blogged about something called “Don’t Break the Chain”. It was a writing technique practiced by comedian Jerry Seinfeld. It was simply a promise to oneself to write every day. Using a calendar and a red marker, you cross days off that you wrote, creating a chain… Hence DON’T BREAK THE CHAIN.

And on April 14th 2014, I simply forgot to write. And now the chain is broken.

I woke up that morning I realized what I had done.

Before I get into what followed, I should put some context into why I think I broke the chain.

It had been two months since I had worked on a specific project. There were a lot of changes in life and for some reason I was hitting walls with creating anything new — thus I had very little inspiration when it came to writing. Early drafts of scripts sat on my desk, and I couldn’t find any ambition to do rewrites. Perhaps the two years of striving, had worn me down — that’s my excuse anyways.  Without the inspiration of a new fresh project at hand, I began to journal to continue my goal of writing everyday. But then one day, I forgot to. Writing seemly took a backseat — something that didn’t occur for over two years.

I woke up that morning feeling nothing by guilt. I began to over think the reason why…

Perhaps it was sign to give it all up. Stop all struggling and realize I’ll never make it. And that’s how I felt.

“What do I have now?”

There was a blank space on my calendar and I felt broken. The feeling didn’t last for long though. Because I knew, I had to be tough. It was just one day. I had still conquered quite a bit and achieved what I wanted for those two years.

I simply kept writing the following day. I started a new chain on April 15th.

I’m still struggling to get back in the groove of things — and quite honestly don’t know why that is. Some days I’ll work on the rewrites that I have put off for so long. Other days I’ll journal just to cross off the day.

Since breaking the chain that one time, I’ve done it three more times. It doesn’t hurt so much anymore…

And that hurts that it doesn’t hurt so much anymore. When did the writing become so stale and when did the dream of being a successful, working screenwriter become so distant?

It’s hard to say I suppose. But at this point, there is no turning back.

It’s like I’m waiting for that break and that inspiration again. I’m waiting for that moment of rejuvenation and reason to start working hard like before.

I don’t know when that will be, but I’m confident it will come sooner than later.

Or I could just not wait and make it happen myself…

We shall see.

But what I have is two years of major progress in my work. What I have now is another streak to continue, another goal to reach, and another reason to write more and better. I just have to sit down and do it.

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.

ULTIMATE GOAL: Getting paid to do what you love to do.

I landed a writing job last month, rewriting some script.

Although, it didn’t exactly pay a whole lot, I realized a huge lesson…

I was getting paid to do what I love to do. And as I polished the script, I was enjoying it to the full extent.  I’ve had various other small writing jobs — but until now, I’ve never full understood the lesson.

Sometimes you have to sacrifice your artistic integrity and just push through it. The script may not be exactly what you would write, or perhaps the topic isn’t exactly what you would agree with. But I was getting paid to write.

Writing is something I’ve done everyday for the past two years — very often for free.  SO when I saw that deposit in my checking account, all for sitting at my computer, with my tea, music in the background, typing away, expanding my mind, creating and imagining — I realized,  all that hard work, all that reading and practicing, has paid off. Not in full, but it was a start.

And that should be everyone’s goal. Not just for writers. But for anyone with a passion. Learn how to get paid for what you love to do. And suddenly your problems won’t be so immense. Life will have a purpose.

Let’s face it: we need money to make it. We need money to live. We need money to write. And that’s the issue with most striving artists today — they stop being artists, when they need to pay the bills. But what if your art can pay the bills?

Strive to reach this goal. Whatever it is, master it and get paid to do it for the rest of your life.

That’s my goal.

Always be writing. Everyday.

-REH

I (don’t) envy those who have “lazy days”.

Browsing social networks, I often come across posts like this:

“Day off work, putting in a good show and being lazy, all day!”

“Lazy day, with wine!”

“It’s raining outside, so I’m not going to do shit, but sit my lazy ass on this computer and share my recent gaming achievements” — okay, I exaggerated that one.

I don’t know why these people, work their asses off, go to school, pay rent, raise kids, strive for all these things, to sit around and do NOTHING — when they finally have free time, they want to be lazy?

Why would you ever want to do that?

Hey, I love taking 2 hours off and drinking a beer in front of a good movie. But, even when I’m drinking that beer, watching that movie, I’m still thinking about all the things that I need to get done. All the writing I could be doing. And how the movie I’m watching could influence that.

Take that free time and progress in life where you haven’t…

Hey, we all work hard. Every now and then we need to sit back and relax. But it appears too many people are doing it way too often.

I sound so preachy, I know. But when it comes down to it, everyone wants something out of life.  Let’s face it, they want A LOT out of life. We expect so much. But often we get very little. You want something, you have to work for it.

So you hate your day job, but always wanted to (insert your dreams here) and possibly make a living out of it. Well then why in the hell are you taking a day off to sit on your ass and watch Vampire Diaries? What you do on those days off can change your life.

Take advantage of your day off. Get some things done. You’ll feel better. You’ll make progress and thus you’ll take one step closer to your dreams — being happy.

I suppose if being lazy makes you happy, then do it. But don’t brag about it.

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

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