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400 Room Nights

htlSo I was calling around prospective hotels for sufficient room nights to house visiting cast and crew for the duration of the shoot.

There was a good estimate of the number of out of town cast and crew we’d need. Calculate who would be there for the whole shoot plus a bit of prep vs in town for a few days at a time. We ended up with a total of 400 room nights… that’s a pretty good booking and duration. I should be able to make a good deal.

But my first choice hotel turned me down with no negotiation.

Really? I was puzzled. What was the problem?

“We don’t have 400 rooms in the hotel,” was the response.

Ah. Right. I had to explain. It was going to take us longer than 1 night to make the movie…

Cheers and a good shoot to you,
Deb

prplwindwCan you picture it? That perfect writing place?

A window overlooking nature (forest or beach), an ergonomically comfortable desk chair, a keyboard at just the right height, reference books and inspiring objects all within arm’s reach, but breathing space on the desk so as not to clutter the mind, and wall space that’s either a white board for you to work out story problems like a fresco painter, or cork board with ample space to tack up movable notes and inspiring pictures… happy sigh. While we’re dreaming, how about a servant to bring you a cuppa tea or coffee when you need it?

Dreams indeed.

Ever seen the haphazardness of Nature? Perfection of writing space is not necessary. Grab a notebook or tablet and go sit in a new place: a living room chair, the back seat of a car, the deck of a sailboat, wherever. Now write. Journal stuff. Anything. Go!

See? It’s possible!

What’s the perfect writing space you have to let go of?

Cheers… with a little INK,
Deb

“I have made this letter longer, because I have not had the time to make it shorter.”

– Blaise Pascal

How efficiently Pascal describes the usefulness of an editor!

… makes me think about that Budgeting/Writing Pencil again. Happy first day of summer to the winners of the spring contest to win one! Thank you all for participating! I decided to randomly select more than one winner after all (just because!), and will be in touch with you shortly to send you your pencil. It’s interesting to see where people access the blog. The winners are:

winpcl

#1 = Dan (Canada)

#2 = Rona (USA)

#3 = Louise (Canada)

… plus honorable mention goes to Barbara, who so often comments!

Cheers and good editing to you,
Deb

P.S. The actual pencil is NOT the same size as in the picture. :)

Excuses, excuses, excuses… We tell them to ourselves. We give them to others. What’s stopping you from writing?

How about that voice in your head that doubts your use of vocabulary (“should I write in US English, UK English or Canadian English?”), or doubts your consistency of style (“you don’t really know how that character speaks yet”)… it’s the voice of:

mageyethe Nit-Picker Copyeditor

A valuable voice later in the writing process for identifying and polishing the details of consistency and flow in your writing, but letting this voice into your head too soon and you can be stopped before even before you start.
A solution?

Make a writing schedule for yourself. Yup. I said that. Real dates on a calendar (or on a clock if the work is short enough). Give enough time for your Wild Creative Brain to work with free reign on the first draft. Then have a specific date (or time) for Nit-Picker Copyeditor to come back in and work with the whole drafted work instead of the words in progress. I bet you’ll find Nit-Picker Copyeditor back pedals on criticism when the whole work is available… it’s not as bad as Nit-Picker Copyeditor thought it would be. Besides that, Nit-picker Copyeditor loves details so much, the specific date/time will be acceptable to leave you alone so you can truly get on with your writing.

How else do you deal with Nit-Picker Copyeditor?

Cheers and happy drafting to you,
Deb

P.S. Since copyediting makes me think of revisions, have you seen and liked or commented on my posting to win a Writing / Budgeting pencil? Here ’tis is you missed it: https://debpatz.wordpress.com/2015/05/14/how-writing-a-budget-is-like-writing-a-script-revisions-and-a-wee-spring-contest/

dncWe each take many paths in life and learn from all that’s around us. Learn something on one area of life and cross over to another. Here are three nuggets that crossover for me between Highland Dance competitions and filmmaking:

1. “Dance Beautifully” Does Not Necessarily Mean “Dance Standard”

The closer you dance in a competition to “dance standard” (in the eyes of judges) the more awards you win. The higher the level of competition, the more challenging it is to win awards, because eventually there are only slight differences between those who win awards and those who don’t. Yet… anyone in the audience will tell you passionately and honestly that so many of the dancers dance beautifully, awards or not. This declaration is not friends and relatives being kind the dancers, it’s the truth. Parallel this situation to movies. You can enjoy a beautiful movie whether it wins awards (achieving “movie standard” in the eyes of judges) or not.

2. Dance YOUR Dance

When competing on stage at pre-premier level, different dancers know different steps to pretty much all the dances. To the audience it’s like watching several different dances on stage at the same time, dancing to the same music. Sometimes it looks like one of the dancers is going to bump into another because of the varied choreography, but somehow they manage to steer clear of each other. On stage, if you forget a step, a glance left or right to a competitor can just confuse you more because chances are they will be dancing totally different steps. You have to know your dance and dance it with confidence no matter what’s happening around you on the stage. Good advice for filmmaking too. Choose your path with confidence and take it, no matter what the competition is doing around you. Be aware of what’s happening around you (so you don’t “bump into other dancers”), but be true to yourself.

3. Despite Any Errors, “Dance On”

Highland dancers forget steps. They knock the crossed swords out of alignment. A shoe can fall off. The piper can make a mistake in the music. One step can be wrong. So many errors can happen “on the day.” Dancers can stop and wait for the dance to end, stop and leave the stage, or they can dance on. “Dance on” doesn’t erase the error, but can provide a sense of accomplishment at overcoming obstacle, and for the bigger errors that the audience notices, it also triggers deep-felt admiration in the whole room. Take that determination into filmmaking. Mistakes will happen, but work with them and finish the film. Film is not as much a live performance as Highland Dancing, but sometimes you can’t go back to fix a shot; you have to “dance on” to the end.

What crossovers happen in your life?

Cheers… with a little FILM and INK,
Deb

You may have seen my PM101 budgeting pencil:
wrt-pmpncl
… or you may even have one (and laugh each time the eraser wiggles while you write). It tangibly demonstrates the proportion of time you spend writing a budget vs the time you spend revising it. Recently, it got me to thinking about script or story writing too.

Revisions, Revisions, Revisions
Both budgets and stories are sooo not done after the first draft! Actually, the “draft” you are ready to show publicly as the “first draft” is sooo not the first pass you penned – you’ve already revised it privately however many times you’ve needed to for you.

Then after the first draft, your creative team contributes, pointing out strengths and weaknesses. You evaluate feedback. You restructure. You revise. You tweak.
Limits and prerequisites are imposed as the revision process continues. How you thought you could shoot the movie cannot be done that way. Script is revised, the budget undergoes re-allocations.

One thing is for sure… both writer and PM spend a lot of time reviewing, evaluating, revising, and tweaking to make the script/story or budget the best it can be.

Wee Spring Contest: Win a PM101 Budgeting Pencil
dp-pnclHow about owning your own PM101 budgeting pencil? Whimsically remind yourself with each wiggle of the eraser as you write that you don’t have to write the “perfect” first pass or “perfect” first draft. It’s ok (and expected) to revise, revise, revise.

To celebrate this parallel of art and business through revisions, let’s have a wee Spring contest. Like and/or write a comment on this post (on WordPress, Facebook or LinkedIn) and I’ll draw a random winner at the end of Spring (June 21). 1 entry for a like, 2 for a comment, 3 for a more thoughtful comment.

Cheers, good luck, and good revisions to you,
Deb

P.S. “PM101″ is short for my book’s title “Film Production Management 101” and though there’s a lot inside about the business side of the industry, I’ll bet you know now that because of parallels like this one on revisions, you’ll learn about the art side of the industry too in its pages, too.

iceAt Digital Days 2015 this past weekend (an event hosted by DGC and IATSE for the BC film community), I was heartened by talk of story.

At an event focused on discovering and experimenting with cool, new tech, the wow-factor can easily become the centre of attention, yet while we were experiencing the Polar Sea in immersive-put-me-in-the-movie 3D virtual reality, the speaker (Thomas Wallner of DEEP Inc.) stressed to us how the cool new tech is – and should be – just another way to experience story. Story is the reason we watch movies.

So very true!

Tech may let us experience story in a new way, but tech – and nifty new ways to shoot a scene – should never overshadow story. The wow-factor quickly fades, but it is with story that people connect in an enduring manner.

So next time you’re amazed by new technology, ask yourself: how can it help me tell story? Because… story rules!

Cheers and a good story to you,
Deb

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