Friday, April 01, 2005

Hollywood Gossip

Wow! Look at all the people who've been checking the site out. Thanks, your support means much. Don't forget to drop me a note; I've committed to returning comments.

Big Bro left early this morning after building a beautiful ramp for the now mobile Mom. He got to know our great Hollywood neighbors. I swear, we live in Mayberry, not a big city. So much foot traffic with so many friendly, nosy people! :)

I finished my script and missed the contest deadline by twenty minutes. Self-sabotage, sure, but also completely up to one bitchy UCLA secretary on a power trip. She accepted a couple dozen scripts without the signed paperwork that was required (and I had), but came down on me for twenty minutes because "Rules are rules". Hope she has a very happy life with her house full of cats, cuddling with the scripts she arbitrarily rejects. Whatever.

It's just another way UCLA shoots themselves in the foot. Their program is only as valuable as their successful alumni say it is, and a secretary just deleted someone the program head thinks is a brilliant writer. How dumb is that? It does them no good to have yet another pissed off alumna who doesn't want to represent their program because of their mickey mouse bureaucracy and lack of focus on what's important.

I can't tell you how pissed off my classmates are at various horribly stupid problems in this program, including the half-assed coverage we just received from our section professors. What we're receiving doesn't match the glossy program brochure, and feels very half-hearted. I don't know one satisfied student, yet the administration blithely carries on thinking they've got the best screenplay program in the country. I was a loyal bruin alumna, but this treatment is forcing me to check out USC.

The good news is, I got to write THE END on another feature-length script. I'm going to polish it a couple more times over the next two weeks and exchange it again with the best two readers in my class. A script is never really "done," but this one will be ready for my portfolio in two weeks. If I can go back and shine up the one I finished last September about Mom, then I'll be ready to look for an agent in June when I finish my third script (at UCLA, my fifth finished feature a good writer, I tossed out the first two I ever wrote as exercises. And my produced plays and short films don't matter to an agent).

Received an email from my new section professor asking us to bring the two page synposis for the spring quarter script and the first five pages to class next week. Yikes! They weren't kidding about writing the next one in ten weeks, while overlapping with the one we were finishing! Geez, no spring break for me. But I'm thrilled with my new teacher assignment because he has the best record of students succeeding, which is what I want.

Big Bro wants me to share some of the Hollywood stories I know. Thought you all would find it interesting. A friend of mine entered "Project Greenlight" two contests ago. If you submit a screenplay, you're required to read x amount of scripts. Apparently, there's a bit of a cheating going on. The writers are so competitive they knock others out of the race by giving them lousy coverage.

According to my friend, you get a handful of reviews from other contestants, all with a vested interest in having you fail, then the Project Greenlight people delete your high and low score to try to make up for the BS going on. Yeah, I'm sure that does the trick. Now I get why the scripts that have won have been so lousy!

The weird thing about Hollywood is that a good movie starts with a good script, but most production companies literally hire untrained secretaries and interns to do the script coverage when they're finished with their awful daily grind of grunt work. Sorry, but one weekend seminar with Robert McKee can't make an illiterate nineteen year old recognize a good script.

The system is all backwards, and it doesn't take a higher degree in Organizational Development to see what's not working. They should be paying beaucoup salaries to qualified writers and screenwriting professors who know what the hell they're talking about. They'd get a much better return on their multi-million dollar investments. Crazy, crazy, crazy, and so easily fixable.

If you haven't been watching the new (and probably last) season of Project Greenlight on Bravo, tune in. You can still catch up; they're rerunning the first three episodes and it is fabulous. The process of making this movie is more frightening than any horror movie they can dream up. The crazy thing is, I was rooting for the schluppy hollywood outsider to make it as a director, until he turned into a raving idiot. I've never watched anyone be that clueless or self-destructive. I'm sorry if anyone knows him;

I don't mean to be mean. I'm just shocked someone who's been working near the industry for thirty years could blow the best thing that's ever happened to him by being so tragically uneducated and uninformed. A great reminder to everyone else to check your ego, read your film history books, and be ready for your big break!

Talent - Preparation = Compulsively Watchable Reality Television.


Dave said...

Sorry to hear about your run-in with the secretary. I have been the victim of many undeserved sour looks myself. Why are University employees so universally unhappy? They get paid gobs of money and have indestructible job security.

Who do you have next quarter? Is it Tim? Hope it's Tim. Sour secretaries aside, the quality of the UCLA experience really comes down to the instructor and the students in your workshop.

Kid Sis said...

I do have Tim next! See, reputation deserved. Still, that's an impressive guess.

I completely agree about the students bringing the quality to the class...their professionalism and talent have been the only rays of light in the program, other than the obvious benefit of a writing schedule.

Kid Sis said...

Okay, not the ONLY rays of light... I'm exagerating because it's after midnight. Hal and Kevin have been very supportive, but I don't know how I'd be floundering if I didn't know them previously from summer school. The best part of my week is drinking with my classmates afterclass, exchanging scripts and ideas.

Hey, checked out your blog! Nice! Are you going to tell the world about the Secret UCLA Handshake, are or you worried the Pt. hosh mafia will retaliate? :)

I didn't realize you were still in the MFA program. Did you do the Professional Program first?

Were you at the Q & A with Luc Besson last fall? I missed the Machinist Q & A for some dumb reason. But I'm going to the big thing Monday night...I'm friends with Kevin and Barak. Maybe we'll run into each other.

Dave said...

Hey, my friends are Kevin and Barak too! No, but actually I do know Barak -- we had Tim's 434 together last quarter. I wish I could go to Monday's Big Thing, but alas, I have been drafted into Mike Werb's 434 and our first meeting is Monday night.

I also missed Luc Besson but I did see Scott Kosar. Didn't like Machinist much, but it's always inspiring to hear screenwriters speak of their path to success. You can search my blog for a my lame write-up on the night in question.

Yes, I did do a tour in the Professionals Program, and was accepted directly into the MFA. Before PP, I had Tim for four or five quarters at UCI Extension. His rep is well-deserved and I'm happy for you. You'll end the quarter on a high note, but be prepared to crank out pages!

Kid Sis said...

Look at you, Mr.5 am! Glad to meet a fellow night owl!

Thanks for the info; it's appreciated.

Are you taking another class in addition to 434 this quarter? I'm curious how the program works, because with a night-time 434 it sounds like you could almost lead a normal life working during the day.

How were the UCI classes in comparison to the PP? I've read on Tim's site about his students' successes through UCI. Much more impressive than any other professor's.

Do I end the quarter on a high note because I actually get feedback from Tim? That would be fantastic.

Dave said...

"Actually get feedback"? Just what's going on with that Professional Program! As far as I know, Tim meets with students one-on-one to give his notes on your completed screenplay after the quarter ends. He's also VERY accessible via email during the week if you need to bounce an idea off of him or whatever.

You can't really depend on night classes in the MFA program. The last two quarters it was only Richard who taught at 7:00 pm (as he does every quarter), and this quarter only Mike Werb has a night section and Richard is on sabbatical.

You are supposed to take other classes with a 434 although most of the time you can get away with only the 434 as they are 8 units each.

It might be possible to do nights only, but in the end I don't think it would be worth it. You'd have little flexibility with your schedule so you'd miss out on many good classes and events and you'd have to take Richard over and over again for 434.

Kid Sis said...

Yes, I had L and she gave us no office hours, no email contact, and no meeting at the end about our scripts. I talked to everyone in my section and the notes that they received on their screenplays were all format related, no story suggestions. Generic, half-sentence comments with no note at the end of the scripts. Maybe a dozen half sentences throughout. That's part of why we're ticked. So, I'll be looking forward to Tim.

Sounds like the MFA program is best done as a day program; thanks for the feedback. Are you on the two year track, or the three year track?

Thanks for writing about me on your blog. You're the first one I know of to do it; it felt very cool.

Dave said...

Gee, that doesn't sound like L at all. Sorry to hear it. I'm a third year. At the time I entered, everyone was going three years. Then tuition starting to baloon out of control. Now I suspect most folk are on the two-year plan.

LeMorse said...

Hello there. I am a playwright (now venturing towards screen-writing in Northern California. Just had to say hello after reading the bash on Project Greenlight this season. Only caught a few episodes myself and I have to agree, why the heck is this guy shooting himself in the foot. He has a break some of us would kill for and he is doing his best to be thrown out of Hollywood. It is just total weirdness in my opinion.
P.S. any screenwriting tips I can't find in a book somewhere? I have done three plays, writing scripts for two short films, and just put THE END on my second feature script, planning on filming one feature this year with some friends and wanted to know what Digital equiptment you recomend.

Kid Sis said...

Hi Jason!

Like your blog. I'm also a big fan of TMBG, Rocky Horror, and Shaun of the Dead!

Thanks for reading my blog.

My new cyberfriend David has a great site where he frequently gives Screenwriting advice. Check out his "Secrets of the UCLA MFA" section in particular.

Digital Equimpent - all my friends gush about Panasonic's prosumer line with P24 capability. One professional editor I know swears that with the right filters in post, it looks like 16. He's done extensive testing, and loves it. Not a bad deal for $3500, especially if you can't get a hold of a real digital camera in the $40,000 range. Here's a link to check out.

LeMorse said...

Glad you liked my blog.
Thank you for all the advise. If you have the time and desire, you have a blogpal up here in NorCal. Could always use a friend that knows what Hollywood is about, so when I work my way there I can still be grounded. Hehehe

Kid Sis said...

Of course! And thanks for reading!

Kid Sis said...

BTW just so you say the right thing, it's 24P camera.

Apologies; my brain dyslectic-type thing likes to kick in right when I author code or talk film tech. Makes life a little more exciting.