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Saturday, February 28, 2004  

Rocked the 'board today. Six tough pages. Wrote and Polished and rewrote. Act II is officially underway.

I had slowed down after I finished a polish of act I, my writers esteem throwing speed bumps in my path. But Thursday I got out of Hollywood for the afternoon and paid a visit to a friend in Echo Park. It was the day after our "big storm" and the sky was still streaked with isolated dark clouds, but the sun was bright and warm and foreshadowed Cali spring. Matt Hals was the director of Trannies! and one of the few people I knew when I moved to LA. We ventured downtown for some serious tacos (that rivaled Taqueria-V's) and chatted about writing.

This is my first screenplay that has actually gotten into the scripting stage in like three years, so I've got a fair amount of anxiety and ego tied into this project. It is hard to make headway sometimes when you can't step away from your work as see the big picture. Its like writing in a vacuum. But talking about some of my story concerns and conceptual problems with another writer was really helpful and I was able to attack act II with renewed vigor on Friday. Matt is also writing coverage for some company, so when he had nought but good things to say about the sample I left him I was super-stoked!

One of the things we talked about was tone, and how screenwriters often ignore this until it is too late. The story I'm writing is dark and atmospheric and establishing this tone early on in my pages was very important for me. I ended up using a little trick that I stumbled on when writing my first script/thesis: music. ARIES (the aforementioned thesis script) was a high-concept "cyber-noir" detective story; conceived as a way to meld all of my academic research of "hard boiled" and Film Noir movies with my love for Sci-fi and specifically the cyber-punk aesthetic. I ended up writing nearly the whole script in a Lyons Diner in Capitola, California (in a notebook, longhand) while my discman played my new favorite album of that time: Portishead's "PNYC." The distinct retro-future sounds of that album were a perfect match for the script I was writing.

So, when I started writing the script for this current project one of the first things that I did was make up an iTunes playlist that would help me capture the tone I was going for. I ended up with a selection of Tool, A Perfect Circle, some of the darker Radiohead, and a smattering of Tori Amos. That should give you a pretty good idea of what I'm shooting for. And so far it has worked really well. I listen to the same 3 or 4 songs every time I sit down to write and that helps me center and get into a consistent frame of mind. So far so good. Busy weekend ahead, so I probably won't get through too many pages, but I'll be sure to get my Oscar picks up before the festivities on Sunday.

posted by JMV | 2/28/2004 02:28:00 AM
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