Katie left for Raleigh to train for her 500 mile cycle ride this summer so I had high hopes of getting a lot done this week and making progress! Do you think I managed to get much done? Do you think I was distracted by life and being in Santa Monica?  Am I going to make the objective of having a finished screenplay by April 19th?

Alan Donegan Screen Writing

Alan writing his movie at The Victorian with a coffee in the morning.
This is my week 3 report sharing with you what I have written, created and learnt in the last week!  Thanks for sharing this journey with me and thank you so much for your feedback and ideas.  I REALLY appreciate you reading and writing to me.

Graphs, word count, and pages!

So this is the section where we see if Alan has made any progress this week!  Let’s have a look at the numbers and where we are.

Total words written. 
This week I wrote a total of 6841 words across the two screenplays.  That is 300 words fewer than last week!  The reason for this is editing.  In the screenwriting process, you get to a stage where you aren’t writing, you are re-writing!  I reached that with the romcom this week although it did continue to grow!

A screenplay is anywhere between 15,000 words and 25,000 words so as you can see we are making progress and on track! Yay.

Pages Written
I created 31 new pages of content this week, down from 49 last week.  Most of these new pages were for the romcom as I focused heavily on getting that nearer completion.

A screenplay is anywhere between 90 and 120 pages long so my movie is a little light but I feel as I develop and grow it, it will mature to about the right length.  I have sent it out to a few people for feedback and comments this weekend, and my aim is to edit it and get to the fourth draft this week coming!  Making progress, and if I keep going like this there is a chance I will get 2 movies completed in my time here!

Editing versus Writing 
One of the things I have loved about the movie writing process and this process of writing blogs is just getting into the flow and writing.  Letting the words flow from my fingertips onto the page.  When it is flowing it is an incredible feeling.  As you can probably tell by the number of spelling and grammar mistakes on my blog I don’t so much like the editing and re-writing of the material.

This causes me a problem as I need to write a script and then work on it and develop it by editing it and improving it.  Reducing the word count, improving dialogue and enhancing it.  This is a skill I am going to have to improve!  I have two main options here:

  1. Hire an editor to work with me.  Outsource the work that I don’t like!  I am not sure I want to spend the money yet
  2. Develop the skill myself.  This is where I am going to start and then we will see how good I can make it before spending money (got to live by the Rebel principles!)

25 words or less
I learned about creating a 25 word or less synopsis of your movie to help sell it this week. I worked on that creating 4 versions and sharing them for feedback.  If you didn’t see them you can find them here Movie Pitch: 25 words.  I will share with you the feedback at the end of the post.

Big successes of the week

It has been an incredible week and a lot has happened.  Here are some of the highlights.  Monday was written off helping Katie prepare for her trip to Raleigh for cycling and getting things straight at our flat in Santa Monica.  Tuesday was a day for meetings. The writing progress above has been achieved in 3 days so I am so happy with the progress given how little time I actually had.

Tuesday was a phenomenal day.  I met with a director of a recent Arnold movie and had an incredible 45 minute chat about the industry, how it works and more.  He also asked me to pitch my movie to him!  I was SO UNPREPARED!

I knew this would happen but even so I wasn’t ready for it.  I was still writing the script and thought I would write the pitch afterwards.  I think I should have taken my own advice and written the pitch before the movie!

I can now officially say I have pitched a movie idea to a Hollywood director!  And it was an experience.  He asked awesome questions, probed and helped me to see my script from different angles.  I wrote out his questions after the meeting and used them to enhance, improve and develop version 3 of my script! This in no way means we are working together (I am learning the industry lingo) but it was fun to get the experience to pitch my movie to a real-life director!

Version 3 of the romantic comedy is complete.  I got some early feedback from my friend Jamie, and I worked through that on Wednesday to get the script to the next level.  I added in a new scene on Thursday morning and sent it out again for the next round of feedback.  I have got one email back and I am going to use that to start next week off and develop the script further. I am feeling very happy that I have a script that I can now enhance.

I have also done some character work for the vigilante/superhero movie, cycled 20 miles, read a book, and managed to chill out a little bit.

Even though all this happened I still catch myself saying, “Come on, Alan, why haven’t you finished it yet?”  Remember it is a process and if you keep working at it you will get a result!

Swingers Breakfast Burrito

I ate a breakfast burrito at a diner called Swingers in Santa Monica.

Alan Donegan Swingers

Alan at Swingers Diner in Santa Monica

Picture

Finishing a late night breakfast burrito after a long writing stint!
I found the most incredible morning writing perch at Shutters Hotel in Santa Monica.  They have a quiet deck that looks out over the beach and I can sit there in the morning with a coffee and it is only me and 1 other person!
I sat on the beach and read the Raindance Writers’ Lab book.  Write and Sell the Hot Script.  This was the booked that inspired my “explain your movie in 25 words or less experiment.”  More on that shortly!  The more I learn about the movie industry and writing screen plays the more I see similarities with all the other industries I have worked in!

Picture

Santa Monica beach looking out towards Malibu northwards

Picture

Reading the Raindance Screen Writers guide on Santa Monica Beach

The BIG pitch – 25 words or less

One of the reccomendations from the Raindance book was to write a 25 word or less pitch for the movie.  This proved to be quite a tough task to get it down to just 25 words!  You can find the 4 versions I created here

59 of you left me comments, feedback and ideas yesterday and all told me which one you preferred.  The results are in and here they are in order:

  • Version 2 – 9 votes
  • Version 4 – 9 votes
  • Version 3 – 19 votes

and the winner is version 1 with 22 votes.   This is not the end so if you want to still give your opinion you can here.  I am going to come back and update this as more people tell me what they think!

Here is the winning version:

Version 1
David, a single, chubby twenty something is trapped in a job he hates, living at home and is trying to escape corporate purgatory to create a life he wants to live and get the girl of his dreams.

But that is not the end of it!  I can take the bits from Version 3 that you loved and put them into version 1 and make it far stronger and you gave me lots of ideas.  Here are the top things that I took out of your comments:

  • Chubby as a word is polarising.  You can see the comments on the Facebook post if you want to know! 13 of you said it has to go and 7 of you said it would make you watch the movie.  At least it created an emotive response
  • The term “soul-sucking” corporate job created an emotive response and you seemed to be intrigued to find out if he could escape and make it on his own.  This I will absolutely be taking from version 3 and working into version 1
  • A few of you suggested adding in a question to the pitch which I really like.  Here is one of the examples you gave me.23-year-old, chubby, single Brit, David, is on a mission to escape corporate Purgatory and build his own empire. But can he do it AND win the girl of his dreams?
  • You liked having the name in the pitch as it bought the character to life and made him real
  • “All in one move” didn’t connect and I am going to ditch it

Thank you so much for giving me feedback and helping me to improve my pitch and develop my ideas! I really appreciate you taking the time to read my blog and help me make on my journey to making my dreams come true! I’m going to have to come up with a way of thanking you for helping me. If I ever get this made I am absolutely going to invite you to a screening!  Or some of you might see that as a punishment!?!  I will come up with something.  Thank you.

I will publish the next version of the 25 word pitch next week in the weekly update.

What have I learned?

It has been a fun week working away at this stuff and as always the week has taught me lots of different things.  Here’s a summary of my learnings from the week:

  • First things first. Even given completely free time it is hard to make sure that the important stuff gets done first.  I think this is the most critical lesson that keeps coming up.  If you have something important to do then work on that first before anything else.  If you put it off you might lose energy, get distracted, have an emergency and never get to it.  Put the most important things first each day and focus on making progress.  Today (Friday) I failed to do that and as such it has been a less than productive day for my movie writing!
  • It is all about who you know! The movie business, the entertainment industry is the same as any other industry.  It is all about who you know and connections. It is amazing where you can get to through a good connection, an introduction or just making friends. Point in case was my meeting this week with a director of an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie that came through an introduction from a friend.  As in all industries it is who you know just as much as what you know.
  • Asking and handling feedback.  One of the quickest ways to get better at anything you do is to ask for feedback and comments.  It is also one of the most painful things you can do.  When the first comment on my movie pitch came back saying “I don’t like any of them, they are overly verbose” (at least that is how I read it the first time!) I wanted to hide under a table in Starbucks and not come out!  I went bright red, I started sweating and felt VERY uncomfortable! But feedback is how you improve.  The quicker you get it, the quicker you innovate & the quicker you will make progress.  Thank you to all of you who gave me feedback on my movie pitches and scripts.  I REALLY APPRECIATE IT!!
  • It’s not linear.  The progress you make is not linear, it never is.  It is more often than not exponential!  You slave away at a project, work or building something for some time.  You build, create and develop it for weeks if not longer and then the results all come at the end!  It is not linear.  You have to work away at it!

What’s next?

Last week I committed to 4 things.  Review the feedback on the romcom, get a next version developed and ask for more feedback.  Continue to develop the superhero movie and then get it out for feedback.

I achieved 3 out of 4 of my goals!  Version 3 of the romcom is done and out for feedback, which I then need to edit next week!  The superhero movie made progress but it is not ready for feedback yet!

What am I planning on doing this week?  Here are my goals:

  1. Go through the feedback on the romcom and get a 4th draft finished and out for another round of feedback
  2. Finish the 1st draft of the superhero movie and get it out for a first read
  3. Get the table read for the movie set up to help bring it to life! I have started the process on this by asking one of my friends to help me with it
  4. Write a blog post on asking and receiving feedback.  I have some ideas to share!

I think that is going to keep me busy!

Thanks so much for being on this journey with me and I hope it is giving you ideas, inspiring you to work on your own projects and giving you the energy to get going.

I am lucky to have you all as friends.  Thanks for reading.

Any more ideas for me, send them!  Thank you!

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