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Interview with “Supernumerary” Producer Alexandra Creswick

Supernumerary, a film that showed recently at the Newport Beach Festival and garnered a great review on TFD News, is a 26 minute long short that was produced by an old friend of mine from High School, Alexandra Creswick.  Though I call her Alex, but IMDB tells me it’s Alexandra…

1. A brief description of the film itself?

“Supernumerary” tells the story of Sally Nuart, a projectionist that locked herself in a film booth for four years after the loss of her father and completely immersed herself in cinema.  One day, an ‘extra’ in the film comes to life and they begin an unlikely romance.

2. Who is the creative team behind it? Do you have “day jobs”?  How did you get together initially?

This film is a production of the Wake Forest University Mafia, LA chapter.  Just kidding…kinda.  The director, cinematographer, and two producers are all WFU grads, and most of us met through some sort of Wake connection.

JS Mayank and I took a screen writing class together at Wake when I was an undergrad and he was getting his first master’s.  (We all assumed he was the TA and it wasn’t until a year or so ago that he told me he was a student.)  He’s a full-time screenwriter and an adjunct professor of screen writing at Western State College of Colorado.

George Reasner, the DP, is also a WFU grad and we met through one of our favorite professors.  He’s a professional cinematographer.

Alex Saks, the other producer, we met through the same professor; she also started the Reynolda Film Festival in Winston-Salem, NC, where we screened a rough cut of the film.  She was working with a company called MPower films at the time.

3. How did you find the rest of the team: actors, cinematographer, editor?

We had a casting director, Luis Selgas, who helped us find our very talented actors. In casting, we saw over 200 actors, and narrowed it down to Mckenzie Cowan for the role of Sally, Chris Fore to play the Supernumerary, and Jeff Coopwood for Frankfurt.

The chemistry between the two leads was instant.   What appealed to us most about their look, in that they both seemed as if they were from a different era, i.e. they could have very well been in any one of those classic movies…

The director found our editor, Mark Sult, through a mutual friend of his. Once they looked over the footage together, both realized that they had similar visions for the film.   They both understood the importance of paying homage to their shared love for cinema, yet keeping the story personal and intimate.

4. How intense was post-production?

Very intense.  Probably more intense than the actual shooting of the film, which was more exhausting than anything.   The process was long and very precise.

The visual effects which were done by the extraordinary team at Crash+Sues, were the most time-consuming. That took almost six months, since integrating our actor into the pre-existing movies is painstaking work, and making it seemless was pivotal to the story. They were marvelous, and did an amazing job.

Additionally, we had to work very closely with our lawyer, Michael Donaldson.  All of the existing footage (from 28 films) is considered Fair Use, and we had to pass very stringent criteria to make sure we were within the bounds of the law.  But Michael and his colleagues were endlessly enthusiastic about our film, and supportive through every step of the way.

There were a couple of instances where we wanted to use bits of soundtracks to movies to introduce the clips, but we couldn’t because of copyright issues.  But our composer, Antonio Lepore, stepped in and found ways to marry our original score, the original songs, and the films we pay homage to.   If you listen to the original music, you can hear themes that are echoed in the music of the clips that follow, and it’s amazing how much of a difference that makes to the feeling of unity we managed to achieve.

5. When was it made, what was the budget, how long did it take to get out to festivals?
6. What festivals have you tried for?  Do you have a festival plan?

I took two years from conception to final cut and print.  We completed all the sound mixing and corrections in late 2010 and started submitting to festivals for the 2011 circuit.

We tried to pick festivals that our film would appeal to.  Each festival has it’s own brand and personality, and we tried to remain conscious of that because we wanted to find the best places to showcase our work. The film is 26 minutes long, which makes it hard to program for festivals that are trying to pack as many shorts as they can into one program.  So we knew going in that that would be a challenge, but we made the film we wanted.  We did a lot of research as we narrowed down the field.

7. What is the background to the term “supernumerary”?

“Supernumerary” is an old-fashioned way of saying an extra or background actor.  It’s primarily used in operas these days; I’ve actually heard it in use a few times in the past couple of years and every time I do I perk up.

8. Future producing plans?  Anything else you’ve produced that we’ll be seeing?  Anything you want to pimp here…

The writer/director, JS Mayank, is trying to use the momentum of Supernumerary to try and make his feature directorial debut – “THE DEAD WIVES CLUB”, a quaint ensemble British comedy.  He’s also had several screenplays optioned and is working on them.

I work for an executive producer who specialize in independent, foreign-financed films, and we have several projects we’re working on at the moment.

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Interview with Nicholl Fellowship Winner Micah Ranum!

FSU Classmate and winner of the 2010 Nicholl Fellowship Micah Ranum very kindly answered some questions I had for him about winning and what his life has been like since.

From the Nicholl Website

1. What script did you win with, what’s it about, what do you love about it?

My script is entitled “A Good Hunter.” The story is about a reformed hunter living in isolation on a wildlife sanctuary in Northern Minnesota. He becomes involved in a deadly game of cat and mouse when he sets out to save a young girl from a vicious killer in the wilderness.

I have found that in order for me to really become excited about a project, I need to love the characters. As a writer you spend countless hours with your characters and if you don’t find some reason to get to know them well, the script just doesn’t stand a chance. So while I love writing suspenseful moments, those moments mean very little if you don’t find a deeper connection with the characters and the world they inhabit. For me, Rayburn, the protagonist in A Good Hunter, was a guy I liked quickly. The idea of this man, who is a reformed hunter who now takes care of animals on this isolated wildlife sanctuary, spoke to me. You have to get invested in what it is the main character is after, and in order to do that you have to become attached to the hero of the story.

2. What’s your background? Where are you from, how long have you been writing, how many scripts have you written? Do you want to be a writer/director?

I am originally from Minnesota and have been writing screenplays for nearly the past ten years. Some years have been much more prolific than others, but all together I have written ten feature scripts, most of which I would never show to anyone.

Other than writing, I also went to film school at Florida State University where I earned an MFA in film production. While there, I wrote and directed five short films and had the pleasure of working on countless other students films.

I do hope to direct someday, but as of now I really just hope to forge a career in writing and hopefully directing will fall into place as a result.

3. Have you applied to other contests or festivals? With what results?

The 2010 Nicholl competition was the first screenwriting competition I have ever entered and will likely be the last. As a winner of a fellowship, I don’t believe I qualify for most other competitions.

4. Did you get feedback from nicholl on your writing? Once you were a finalist what was the process from there to winner?

I did not receive any feedback from the Nicholl Fellowships, but I did not ask for it either so I’m not sure what their official policy is on sharing feedback.

Once I reached the finalist level in the competition I was asked to submit a brief letter describing my background and my aspirations for the future, as well as a description of a script that I would like to spend my time working on during the fellowship year. Overall the process was simple and painless. The waiting, on the other hand, was a nightmare! But when the call came from the director of the fellowships, Greg Beal, I couldn’t have been more elated. It was such an exciting moment and much needed validation.

5. Did you meet the other winners? Did anything seem to separate them from others?

I met the current fellows and finalists and also had the honor to meet several brilliant past fellows as well. Most writers tend to live such isolated existences that it is hard to discern what separates a professional from an amateur. How do ten scripts rise to the top in a competition like the Nicholl Fellowships? If I knew the answer to that question I would be happy to share, but I am not sure anyone knows that answer.

There are so many ingredients necessary to make a good script great that if just a few are missing, the story just won’t feel quite right. Basically, tell an entertaining story and make sure it is full of conflict with dimensional characters that a reader and an audience can fall in love with. But first and foremost, fall in love with your own story so that you can spend lots of time necessary to rewrite your work.

6. Tacky question: have you gotten the money? Have you bought anything exciting? Did you have a day job and did you get to quit it? Has your life been turned upside down with calls for screenplay deals and agents?

The fellowship money is not given in one lump sum. Instead it is dispersed in five payments over the course of the fellowship year. But after I got my first check, I did purchase a new Macbook Pro. I had been using a touchy nine year-old imac that is well past retirement age.

Before I won the fellowship I was fortunate to be writing fulltime. My wife and I moved to Los Angeles without much of a backup plan. Once we arrived, and I was able to secure a manager we decided that I would spend a few months writing full time while she would support us. A few months extended into over a year, but we kept seeing progress and it just seemed like the struggle would be worth it in the end. The Nicholl is a huge step and the sacrifices that we made have worked for us, but it has not been easy. While I have supplemented our income with small amounts of production work from time to time, I have been lucky enough to really spend my time working on the craft of screenwriting.

My life hasn’t been turned upside down yet, but doors continue to open. The script has garnered a lot of attention and I do expect good things to happen in the coming year. I already had a manager and an agent so I was not looking to sign elsewhere. But from what I gathered, the writers who did not have representation found it quickly.

7. There’s always grumbling about the race, sex, geographic locale, and genre of the majority of Nicholl winners, though the first three line up pretty closely with submissions. Do you have any thoughts on that? How does it feel to have won with a fairly atypical genre?

Personally, I think the competition is about as perfect as one could expect. The blind submission process ensures that everyone gets a fair chance. No script contains information about the age, gender, etc. of the writer. With that said, if a script comes by about a menopausal woman taking a road trip with her 3 dearest friends, I’d wager that it wasn’t written by a 22 year old guy. Nor is a gratuitously violent slasher flick filled with teen sex usually written by a 50 year-old woman. In that regard, the process is a little subjective, but I think good work usually gets recognized. But gender and race issues are a much larger sociological issue that cannot be so easily pinpointed and dissected in a screenwriting competition.

Geographic locale is simple. Most people who take their work seriously, move to the location that best fits their needs. If you want to become a country singer, move to Nashville; if you want to study Chimpanzees in their native habitat, move to Africa; if you want to be involved in the film industry, Los Angeles is where the industry is. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it from somewhere else, it only means that it’s that much easier to surround yourself with like-minded peers.

It was exciting to win with a thriller; however, I do believe that even genre scripts need to have a good dramatic through line. We have to like the characters and we have to root for them to succeed. Every good script needs several layers to really work on an emotional level.

8. You had a manager who sent this script out to the tracking boards about a year ago. Did she help you with the script? Did you make any changes before sending it to nicholl? Did you get any meetings off of it then?

My manager certainly helped develop the script. I think a good manager will do that, but in the end it is still up to the writer to take those notes and execute. But a good manager will point out the weak moments and should push a writer to do their best work.

I did not make any changes to the script before submitting to the Nicholl competition. I was already working on other projects and felt that “A Good Hunter” was in a good place to submit to the Nicholl.

When the script initially went out I think I had around thirty meetings. After winning the Nicholl, I probably had another fifteen or twenty meetings and they still seem to be popping up several months later.

9. Any advice or recommended resources, books or websites on writing or the business? Words of wisdom for people who are older than 22 or don’t live in hollywood but still want to make it?

There are tons of great books on writing including Save the Cat, Story by Robert Mckee, books by Linda Seger and of course Sid Field. But other than reading those books, study the types of movies that you would like to write, read as many scripts as you can, but most importantly write. I’ve had days where I’ll read all the tracking boards and screenwriting blogs, read chapters in a screenwriting book, and then break down a movie or two, but at the end of the day, I hadn’t written a word. All of that busy work is important but you have to write – make a schedule that you can stick to. The only way to improve is to repeat the process over and over.

And most importantly, learn to rewrite your work. First drafts are never very good no matter who you are. Anyone who thinks they can write one draft and be done is delusional. There are many layers that make up a good script and most of those do not show up until rewrites.

10. What’s next? What are you currently working on?

I am currently writing two more spec screenplays. I couldn’t be more excited about both projects. But have found it never seems to get any easier. It takes hard work to write a script and maybe a touch of insanity to do it over and over and over.

Thanks a lot, and again, huge huge congratulations!

Eddie Kritzer: Holiday Edition, ad nauseum

Man, it’s gotten to the point where I don’t even understand what he’s trying to say anymore.

http://articles.latimes.com/2010/aug/23/nation/la-na-blogger-suits-20100823

Dearest Ashley,

Action’s bring consequences, you dont live in a vacum, and I gave you some good advise.
You put yourself in this position, and I looked at imdBPro.com and saw no (added) credits for you

You’re feeling of self importance (ego) is beyond belief, to deny our relationship and try and embarass is me is not really helping you’re delusional behaviour .
You look so dumb, bottom line, IM giving you an importance you dont deserve, and to deny is ridiculous.
Publishing our private sex notes makes you look dumber then when we (well you know what I mean)
The only good thing is not many people are goiing to read it, and most people will realize it’s true, it’s as true as everything you say about me.
You have a hard on for someone, well dear ashley remember, there are consequences for every action.
You think you’re going to moan and groan about every body, and I know IM not singled out, you have many enemy’s and some people tell the truth, and somepeople dont.

On the other hand, I wish you well, however you have to accept what happens when you bad mouth someone, just because I didn’t take on your script under my terms.
If you sold your script, congratulations, why dont you mention what company, who’s attached, director, etc..Ashley you’re an editor, and IM sure a good one, you should take my advise about your blog, or stick to your knitting.

All my lovin.

Eddie
eddiekritzer.com some details

And if you’re thinking it’s just me getting these emails, here are a bunch of links

http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2010/01/apparently-im-boring-wrinkled-self.html

http://leegoldberg.typepad.com/a_writers_life/2005/02/youd_think_anyb.html

http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/4752919-another-round-with-eddie-kritzer

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=32362

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090608123451AA80wfq

Eddie Kritzer: Holiday Edition: Operation Gross Out, ctd

I should note that the reason I post all of this is to A) keep a record and B) warn others off ever getting in touch with this guy.  I have noticed that the majority of his written abuse has been directed at women, and it’s almost always sexual in nature.  I’m not sure why this is.

He also appears to either be hoping that I’m either so embarassed by sex or by the possibility that someone would believe I had sex with him that I’ll stop exposing his scams. Basically these letters are a threat to try to defame me by saying I’ve posted everything as a spurned lover, and that the more I protest, the more he’s going to talk about me in a sexual context. At least, that’s all I can make of it.

And, if I hadn’t been previously harassed on the phone, I’d assume he was a thirteen year old troll, but he’s actually got a production office according to google:

Eddie Kritzer Productions
8484 Wilshire blvd
#205
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
323-655-5696
Producedby@aol.com

My Dearest Ashley, It’s always tough when sexual relationships end, and I know you feel bad, because I complained about your prowess as a lover, but since you’re a public figure, I knew you would understand. Please remember “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” Just because were not fucking anymore, does’nt mean you have to knock me on The Internet, however you do have a website, and you continue to love to talk about me (and anybody else you have a cause for) IM sorry you feel bad about us not making love anymore, but things do end. I notice you’re knocking my poor grammer, and punctuation, probably good points, but IM getting my message across. Just because were not fucking and sucking anymore, doesn’t mean you go on a personal vendetta about me. Please feel free to take me to court for “sexual harassment” I will explain how you were a lousy lover, and when you sucked my cock, I thought you were going to bite it off. You think you’re going to sit on your limited perch, and just say any fucken lie you want, and IM not going to respond about it, by telling the world thatyour a lowsy lay (that’s’ fuck in your terms.) I love when you write about me, and Please keep on lovin me, and think about the days when we fucked and sucked. Your’e my bitch, All my love, Eddie All my precious love PS: The pimples on your fat ass are improving the puss is much less visable

MyLover and Dearest Ashley, Got your sexy letter, IM glad you posted it my regular mail…..please dont be embarrassed. When you’re letter told me how you loved my giant cock in your hot pussy, I must admit it turned me the fuck on. Oh, by the way your “Blog” is down, it’s probably because you kept on writing about how you love to fuck and suck me off………I love it when I come in your mouth, it turned you on. Keep on writing about me in your blog, and remember (my bitch) you’re a “public (nuisance) figure” buy most of all you’re my fucken bitch…… Pleeeeeeeease let’s go to court, I can tell the judge all about our fucking and sucking, with your big fat ass……….you’ve gained a bit of weight since we last fucked. Keep on writing about me, it keeps me thinking about you and makes me want to write you our sexy escapades All my fucken love, your my bitch, Eddie copy to literary development part of the press

Dear Ashley, I hope we come to an understanding and we can be civil to each other, I think you get my point. Pllllllease remember, when you step on land mines, they sometimes blow up. All my precious love to you,” Eddie

I’m Excited

This is a list of my Top 10 Films. My Top 10 is not the 10 movies that I think are the best movies ever made, they are the 10 movies I would sit down and watch at any time, anywhere and love as much as the first time I saw them. They aren’t in any particular order.

  1. Dr. Strangelove
  2. The Princess Bride
  3. Die Hard
  4. Silence of the Lambs
  5. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
  6. The Shining
  7. The Labyrinth
  8. Blazing Saddles
  9. Beauty and the Beast
  10. Gone with the Wind

Someone who produced one of the movies in my top ten list is reading something I wrote. Holy Awesome!

World Cup: Day 4; Writing D4aD

Netherlands v Denmark

Netherlands won as expected with the added bonus of a freak Denmark own goal.

Japan v Cameroon

Japan with an upset over Cameroon.

Italy v Paraguay

Italy was supposed to trounce Paraguay, and instead they ended up trailing for most of the game, and just pulling out a tie in the second half. Italy is not playing nearly as well as they did last cup, where they were the winners, but they have a reputation for eking by for the win anyway.

Finally put something on paper for the second act of D4aD. Hopefully the lack of a blank page staring at me will let me move with some speed through the rest of it.

Internet help?

Using the massive power of, um, asking a question on my blog in the hopes that someone who reads it knows the answer, does anyone know if there’s a place online where I can watch the world cup games after they air? As in, I have no plans to be up at 7am to watch the opening game live, but I would actually like to watch it. Or is this just something I have to figure out Friday?

I sort of fell off the blogging map last week.  It was one of those weeks where I accomplished like nothing at all.  But I will be better now because I’m fully recovered from having another human being (aka Mom) spending all day with me every day for 4 days.  Have you read this?  You know that phrase “you’re getting on my last nerve”?  Having people around all the time is sort of like being put in a state of permanent last nerveness.  Also, she broke down my door.  Which was kind of hilarious.

In the last couple of weeks I haven’t been watching a lot of media.  I’m well behind on Glee and hadn’t watched a movie in like weeks because I’d been reading a lot trying to do the 50 books in a year thing.  Which has actually been nice.  I spend all day at work in front of the computer watching TV footage, I think getting away from the computer is a state I have to manufacture more often.  Like, I’ve gotten some (late-afternoon, indirect) sunlight in the last couple of weeks and I feel slightly healthier and I think my skin is vaguely less albino.  But, this weekend, I watched some movies and Sherlock Holmes.  I know it’s wrong, but Jeremy Brett, am I right?

Jeremy Brett: Hot or Not?

I just did a google image search for people who are albino and they are not paler than me.  What’s that about?

Working on D4aD, trying to get beyond the outline with complete first act stage.  I tried scene cards and decided I hate them.  I’m not saying writing has to be totally organic, and having a skeleton is important, but the scene cards confuse that for me somehow.  //END RANDOM BLOG

ScriptSavvy Feedback

I sent the second to newest draft of Bible Con into ScriptSavvy for their April contest.  I got my feedback back, I got 56/60 which is on the low end of what their winning scripts normally score (I didn’t win).  Based on the feedback, I don’t know that I can get it much higher than that, it’d just be luck of the draw in terms of who the reader was.  Still that’s an 8 point (or 13%) improvement over the previous draft I sent in, which could be good for the Nicholl this year as well.  There are other things going on with maybe getting it made, but I’m reluctant to even consider those as feasible until they happen.

I’m just going to share many of the lovely things that were said about me.

This “mockumentary” proves to be a very strong concept for a script. It takes a relatable topic and, in a very Christopher Guest kind of way, pokes fun at it without being too mean or snide. The writer does a nice job of building personal relationships in to the overall spoofish story, giving the audience people to cheer for as well as something to laugh at.

The dialog throughout the script is sharp, clever and really well done. It sounds so real and natural that it just pops off the page. The characters have unique voices without going over the top with accents or colloquialisms. It’s really nice to see how wonderfully the writer crafted the dialog to make subtle but distinct differences in the main characters. Any exposition, such as the events of last year’s convention, is stated through natural and usually very humorous dialog.

The writer does an excellent job setting the scenes with vivid but concise descriptions, like Mary’s room, “…looks like a normal teenager’s room. Only Jesusy.” It’s a great shorthand way to tell us all we need to know to fully imagine the scene.

The scenes are very tightly constructed, cutting in and out at exactly the right moment. Even awkward pauses for added humor are very clear and effective. The rhythm is consistent with a bouncy feel as the script jumps from one storyline to another. The pacing is energetic without coming on too strong, giving the script that slightly slow feel of a spoof-worthy documentary. The use of supers for the characters and labeling the days of the convention is a nice touch to give the movie a suitably pompous kind of feel that fits the genre perfectly.

Many times writers misuse the device of having each paragraph be only one sentence long. This writer really nails the beauty of how to make that work with the scene on page 19 with Mary jumping on her bed. It’s a great flow to give each action it’s own paragraph, creating a visual rhythm for the reader that adds to the scene.

Comedies like this are popular with a very niche audience. The appeal isn’t as wide as perhaps a standard romantic comedy but would work well as a smaller, art house movie. However, it’s well written enough to attract the attention of meaningful talent. It would probably also play very well on the festival circuit, gaining some attention from distributors as well as critical notice.

The writer gives the script a very polished look by using professional formatting throughout. Well done!

The script has great spelling, grammar and punctuation. The writer clearly carefully proofread the script and the effort pays off.

My favorite compliment may have been the formatting/grammar bit. Not really, though. Maybe a little. And “suitably pompous”.

New draft; Weblebrities

Not a totally new draft, just a tweaked one.  I have a hard time doing rewrites immediately, I need time for things to gestate.  I think I’m different from most writers in that I’d rather spend a lot of time thinking and write in a mad dash than to write a little each day.  I think a little most days, and then write 10-20 pages a day for a week.  I think this is absolutely not the way they recommend doing it.

I think about 30% of it is a procrastination thing*, it’s hard to write without deadlines, but most of it is about the fact that in the rewrite stage I need to get away from the previous draft enough that changing it doesn’t feel like I’m betraying the truth of the story.  Because when you write something down it becomes sort of solid; while it’s floating around in your head, changes are easy, but once it’s on the page it’s just a little bit harder to change.

*Writing is tough when you’re at work 50hrs/wk and you have other stuff you’ve got to do.  And there’s the internet.

In other, unrelated news, I met Mr. Deity on Friday!  So in one week, I’ve met Michael Shermer, PZ Myers, and Mr. Deity.  Only slightly related, UPS was supposed to have delivered my new business cards on Thursday, but even though I left them the signed thing saying they could just leave it, they didn’t.  So I don’t have them and I am frustrated because I spent hours (maybe like an hour) designing new ones and I could have had those on me at the time.  Oh well.

In other other news, I spent all of Saturday (14 hours) ACing on a spinoff series of Gold.  They’re shooting for four days, but 28 hour weekends is a lot when you’re not getting money or an above the line credit, so I did yesterday and probably will help out a little next weekend.  It was an interesting day, they’ve got different directors working on the project, but two different people were directing different bits, so it was interesting to see how differently it went with the two of them.

And, we were shooting in the garage, and the garage door fell off.  And I thought that was hysterical, which I think is allowed because they fixed it.

So, go watch Mr. Deity or Gold

Advice for 2010 Grads Coming to LA; 15 things

The Bitter Script Reader posted some advice about how to survive to move to LA.  I tried to comment over there and it won’t let me, but this is what I said.

1) Get settled so that you’re as comfortable as possible — living out of boxes makes everything seem transient. Have roommates or whatever, but make sure that you’ve got a space, however small, that is yours. Spend some time driving around the city and getting to know places. Find the studios. (Have a car!)

2) I really love Glendale, it’s safe and cheapish. Frogtown is super cheap. North Hollywood is becoming a lot safer, the parts closer to the 134 are totally fine for a single girl to live in.

2) I would say you probably need at least 7k in the bank before coming out here and at least two finished scripts and some outlines for more. Basically, you need enough money that you can go several months without making much money at all and enough written that if you’re too discombobulated to write, you’ve got something to work with. I applied for internships and jobs for 6 months before I moved out and it still took me 3 months to land a part time paid gig, though I did have an internship lined up.

3) Apply to every job you can find, do things for free, take an internship in the industry if you can afford it and then work at whatever you can in the rest of the time. It doesn’t matter if it’s an industry job, making contacts of all sorts is important, life experience, all that jazz. I’m not super social and I don’t like to drink, but working on other people’s projects is a great way to meet people and learn useful skills.

4) Find something else you can do in the industry besides writing. Can you edit? Can you gaff? Find a way to make yourself useful. Pursue every avenue. Learn to script supe, that’s easy and low impact.  Find something you like to do that isn’t writing.

5) A lot of people would say find a writing group. I personally am not in one, but I have a large group of friends who I can get advice from. Writing groups are pretty useful if you don’t have that.

6) Apply selectively to contests, but do apply. I’ve definitely gotten contacts from agents and managers and earned some street cred by placing in contests people had heard of.

7) Mandy.com, realitystaff.com, and craigslist are your new friends. I personally don’t really like the UTA job list, but it’s out there too.

8) Figure out a way to make your commute worthwhile. A voice recorder is great if you can think outloud for writing purposes. I listen to a lot of audiobooks.

9) Do things that have nothing to do with film because people who only talk about film are boring. Read books, magazines, go do stuff that’s got seriously zero to do with film and then you’ll have something interesting to talk about. The reason Hollywood loves young blood is because they have experience outside of the Hollywood system and they haven’t quite yet been turned into normal LA people who can only talk about themselves and movies.

10) Write genre scripts that can be produced cheaply if you’re really out to make a sell.

11) Don’t ever be a douchebag. Don’t have a temper. If you talk shit online, don’t use names.  (Unless revealing scam artists!)

12) Conversely, if you’re working for free, you have the right to be treated well and to learn something from the experience. Don’t be afraid of anyone. And don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself, just don’t be aggressive. Along these lines, know how much you should be getting paid, even if you’re not being paid that. This is useful info.

13) Be on the look out for scams. Not all competitions are worthwhile. Not all agents are legit. If someone asks you for money upfront to be your agent, that guy is a scam artist. (google Eddie Kritzer)

14) If you’re a lady writer with a girly name, I’d recommend using your initials. That sounds terrible, but there’s genuine gender bias out here and I’m super lucky that all the other Ashleys out here are guys. This is especially true if you’re replying to internet ad, because internet people are super creepy.

15) Give yourself deadlines so that you’re not constantly second guessing yourself and make sure they’re reasonable. I, for example, haven’t always been totally sure LA is the place for me, but I’m only allowed to seriously think about moving during the month of August. So I don’t dwell on it in general.

(I never had a problem with the tap water, don’t know what people are talking about)