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,

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,

You may have seen my PM101 budgeting pencil:
… 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,

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,

orgdeskNeed to know your skills and strengths for your resume? Notice what people say around you.

I was working in the production office as a coordinator at the time. As usual, I was in the middle of several activities at the same time. I slid a note about credits into the blue file folder in the fan of coloured folders on the left side of my desk. I was talking with set on line two at the same time. The “set square” made of masking tape by the phone only had 3 more Post-it notes in it with messages and questions for set. I was happy to have wheels on my chair as I rolled a bit closer back to the phone side of my desk.

At this point, the Assistant to the Executive Producer came in. She stood beside my desk, not in front, so no doubt had something urgent to discuss, perhaps even confidential.

Set put me on hold, so I took the moment to find out. “Hi. How can I help you?” Was it another note for the screen credits? A question about the star’s contract? A restaurant recommendation? I was alert and ready.

“I just want to watch you organize.”

But not ready for that request.


Her pen was poised above the steno pad in her hands. Her expression expectant. Was she really going to make observations and take notes?

“Okay,” I said. “Go ahead!”

I almost forgot I was still on the line with the set, until they said my name a second time. I turned back to my desk, peeled up the next Post-it and asked my next question.

I should really mention that I’m organized on my next resume…

Cheers and a good shoot to you,

P.S. This event also inspired me to write my first book “Surviving Production” – how to coordinate film and TV productions.

What do you see?

(a) A sound blanket, of course!
(b) Uh, a moving blanket, yes?
(c) I got it. It’s both! A sound blanket AND a moving blanket!


If you answered (a), you’re definitely “of the industry” (a filmie). If you answered (b), that’s ok, you’re perspective is just different from filmies. If you answered (c), then you’re a filmie who – I’m sorry to say – has moved too often.

Cheers & all the best,

gldImagine being a kid with the vocabulary of an adult. You would have the word power to really explain to adults what it means to be a child! To remind them that as a kid your journey is different than that of your parents’, that inside you feel that you are as old as you are ever going to be. In a way you are already grown up.

What wisdom we could learn about our own forgotten childhood. We’ve all been there, but some have crossed that bridge into adulthood and can only now glimpse back at what life was like.

Kenneth Grahame captures childhood with exactly that (adult vocabulary provided to child characters) in “The Golden Age.” It’s a superb insight into life from a child’s POV. The parents are “the Olympians,” affecting the outward lives of children with the same effect and distance as Greek gods, and the children are “the Illuminati,” the enlightened ones who really know what life is all about. You can’t help but want to dive into the pages and learn the “ink wisdom”!

Cheers & all the best,

Deb Patz, author – “Film Production Management 101” and writing for children