Progress Report for Weeks Ending August 5, 2011

This is a report for the last two weeks. I’ve been really bad about blogging lately, but really good about writing, so there you have it. I’m working hard on my novel so it’s been hard to find time to keep up on WannabePride as much as I would like to. I will get better soon, I promise!

What I read: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

                               If You Ask Me, and I Know You Won’t by Betty White

                               Shoe Addicts Anonymous by Beth Harbison (Book on CD)

                               The Change Up (screenplay) of the film starring the charming and delicious Ryan Reynolds

What I Saw:  The Change Up, the film starring the charming and delicious Ryan Reynolds

What I Wrote: 10,000 words. I cracked the 50,000 word mark! My goal is to finish the first draft of the novel by Saturday, Sept. 2. That’s the Friday of the Labor Day weekend. I’d love to be done by then at the latest.

Quick Review – Buried – Screenplay by Chris Sparling

All I knew about this script going into it was that it was about a guy who is buried underground for most of the story and that in the movie, that guy was Ryan Reynolds….It made me laugh when the character was described on page two as “physically unremarkable…”. Obviously, this was before the role was cast…

BURIED Screenplay

Anyway! I was very interested to read this script because I couldn’t imagine how they could pull it off. From what I heard, the guy spends most of the film underground. I suppose it either could be a really exciting suspense story or crushingly dull…

It started off very strong. The guy is, well, buried in a box. He awakens to realize he’s been buried alive and, after the initial and understandable freak-out, he starts trying to figure away out of this mess. There is a cell phone – not his – buried with him. It has a weak signal and is already down to half the battery life. Cool. A ticking clock to create tension. It works. He calls home and leaves messages for his wife and son.

[Editor’s note – Ryan’s…uh, I mean PAUL’S wife is named Linda. Bonus points awarded to this script.]

Ry…Paul gets a text message on the phone. It’s 10 numbers, which he dials and speaks with the terrorist, Jabir, who buried him. Even though Paul is a truck driver / contractor, he is considered an enemy American soldier. Jabir makes his demand – $5 million by 9pm from Paul’s family or the embassy or he “stays buried like a dog”.

It was about at this point that I abandoned my blog article and focused on the script. I couldn’t put it down.

It was absolutely, unbelievably brilliant. It was riveting and full of tension, suspense, politics, fear, and drama. It was probably the most exciting script I have ever read.

And the entire story took place inside the coffin.

No cutting away to tearful family members, no rushing around at the F.B.I with worried looking officials shouting into cell phones and banging on top secret computers. The whole damn thing took place inside a wooden box.

Damn, that’s good writing.

Reading this made me want to set The Kids Are All Right screenplay on fire. They called THAT brilliant writing?? Oh, hell’s no….

I don’t know what else to saw except wow. Wow.

And if it weren’t for Ryan Reynolds, I probably never even would have heard of this film.

The Great Wannabe Autograph Project

I would rather get a rejection letter than nothing at all. For the most part. Most rejections aren’t the “I read your novel/screenplay. I hate it” type. They are more like “The idea doesn’t interest me so I’m not gonna read it in the first place” or something even simpler, like “our development slate is full” or “we don’t take unsolicited material”. No big deal.

I send out a lot of query letters to producers, agents, publishers, editors, etc. These letters take an awful lot of time, effort, and expense, so it can be frustrating to be completely ignored. Besides, it’s fun getting mail! Even a rejection. To me, a letter from a producer is like a scratch-off lottery ticket. You don’t know what you got until you look at it. It can be fun and exciting, even if you ultimately lose.

An empty mailbox is just straight disappointment. NO fun at all. And really annoying when you send them a preprinted, stamped rejection postcard where all they have to do check off NO and toss it back in the box. The idea of all that postage just going into the trash is irritating.

Right now I’m in between query letters. I sent out all the queries I could for several scripts (one of which is under option right now so I can’t query for it anymore anyway – wahoo!) and I am in the middle of writing another script, which won’t reach the query letter stage for a while now. I still want some fun mail – something to look forward to!

SO. I got the idea to send out a copy of my Wannabe Pride flyer – (just a little ad about the site I put together to post different places, send to college career centers, etc) – to famous people to try to get some cool autographs. I figure I have a decent shot at getting some of them returned to me signed. It’s not like a glossy 8×10 photo of a celebrity that I could ultimately sell and profit from. The Wannabe flyer only means something to me, so maybe they will realize my sincerity and autograph it. Cool celebs like Tom Hanks might actually sign it and send it back – even if it takes months or even years.

So far I’ve sent out about 30-40 handwritten letters with a copy of my Wannabe flyer asking people to give me their autograph and an inspirational “Don’t Give Up” kind of message on my flyer. Think it will work? Who knows?! But it gives me something to be excited about and to check the mail for every day. So far, I’ve sent out letters to various people, like screenwriter Callie Khouri, Ryan Reynolds and Shia LaBeouf (two of my favorite actors!!), Carl Reiner, Julie Andrews, Oliver Stone, the four hysterical guys from the Big Bang Theory, all the current members of SNL, and amazing soundtrack composers like Bill Conti, Alan Silverstri, and Thomas Newman.

I have included a SASE with each letter, of course, along with a warning sticker on the outside of the envelope (I also do this with my query letters to Hollywood, and let me tell you, it WORKS. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments from producers for succeeding in making my letter stand out from all the other Wannabes). The label for my fan letters says WARNING: Letter from a Wannabe. Contents: Sappy Letter and Autograph Request. Does not contain nuts, dairy, or a request to read my screenplay.

It’s been just under a month since the first letters went out. Stay tuned to find out if my little project works!