Tag Archives: set visits

Yes. It’s been too long since I last blogged but I have a good excuse. I’ve been in LA for more than a month and writing like a fiend before that. I shall be writing like a fiend again until the end of the year, too. Thank You God.

So... what did I do on my summer vacation. I was in LA.  And what did I see? I did and saw a lot. I learned a lot. I had two spectacular producer meetings that have the potential to change my professional life for the better. Whether they do remains to be seen, but it’s nice to hear from influential people that they are fans of what I do.

But the main part of my trip? Culmination of a dream. I’ve had produced films from scripts I’ve written before. Seven, to be exact. Each one was good, except one, in their own way. All have been successful, even the one I hate, unfortunately. I got a fan Email just yesterday about the one I hate saying they loved it. The fact that the film doesn’t have one single thing I wrote on the screen and that it’s kind of an embarrassment to have my name on it notwithstanding.

Back to Summer Vacation. Our first stop.  A script I did a complete page one rewrite on that was NOT my idea nor my original script, but one that I did LOVE the premise and basic story for and a lot of the people who were involved, went into production. I got to spend a couple of days on the set, including playing a small part in the film they were kind enough to offer. I even got to play guitar on screen, another dream fulfilled. Wait, I got to play guitar while Joey Fatone danced to it. Not bad for an old guy like me. Even if my scenes end up on the cutting room floor it was a wonderful experience, so my profound thanks to all involved. But beyond that I also think this could be a very good and maybe groundbreaking film in a genre that’s not known for its groundbreaking films. I hope so. Thank you, John McGalliard, Stephen Baldwin, Christopher Shawn Shaw, and Thor Ramsey.

The rest of my six weeks of vacation, minus the things I’ve mentioned? Ok... this is where it gets really good.

One of my original spec scripts shot at the same time as the other film. Yes, I had two films in production at the same time, something that probably will never happen again. The fact that I’m still under embargo not to mention the specifics of this second project because it hasn’t been announced yet makes this part of the blog post a little tricky, but I shall try to be as vague as possible while still telling you how incredibly damned wonderful and exciting and spectacular it was.

Let’s start with casting, and holy crap what a CAST. Better than I could have ever imagined down to the smallest character, all of those filled with fabulous very recognizable talented character actors... and the leads, forget about it, just remarkable. Only one sore thumb in the cast. Me. Once again these wonderful people asked me to play a small on camera role, which was mega fun. I never write roles for myself when I write a script because... well, I never write roles for any actor. I write CHARACTERS who fit the story I’m trying to tell and hope actors want to play them. It’s worked out well. They offered me a role that surprised me, though. Which if you think about it, is damn cool. And I’m crazy about the casting agent who did this, too. She was wonderful, sweet, smart, innovative and yes, I will name everyone when the embargo is lifted.

The director. Can I say I love him without it sounding pervy? No? Then I don’t care. And even though he is now my lifelong friend, I’ve never worked with anyone I was so on the same page with. Watching him work to bring my story alive was so amazing that I did cry sitting there on set on a few occasions. Watching characters come alive the way I wrote and pictured them was something I hope every writer gets to experience.

The producers. More love. The one on set everyday worked harder than I’ve ever seen a producer work and got more done than I thought possible.

The crew. The best. THE. BEST. In every department. The best.

And every time I was there and there were a lot of extras (some days a whole lot) I went and sat down with them. That’s where I started in this business. Right there in extra’s holding. Right there with the people who get to eat last. And I talked to them and I told them to never give up on their dreams. That I didn’t and even though it took 18 years of not giving up, my dreams were now seeing the light of day in ways I never could have imagined.

I got to share some of it with my wife and daughters. My wife was with me most of the time, except the days I acted (or attempted to act) and was, as she always is, one of the most popular people on the set. The fact that she baked piles of homemade cookies for everybody helped. Two of the stars came up to her separately after the first batch to ask for more please. Immensely satisfying to her... and me. She’s been at my side for this whole journey and I couldn’t have made it without her. I can never repay her for all she’s done. The greatest wife ever.

My daughters came for one night of filming each and that was also wonderful. Not only so they could share it with me, but to see the scope of the production, which in both cases surprised them. Hey, I’m Dad. They’ve lived with this dream and all the failure and hard work and rejection and been uber-supportive. I wanted them to see that it all paid off in a big way.

Now I’m off to write the first of three paid jobs I need to get done. Two movies and a second episode of my series I hope to tell you about soon. Everything moves so slow in Hollywood and everything can blow up and disappear at any time too. So that’s why I am careful about specifics until a project is really real.

Or announced. Damn it.

Follow me on Twitter @BobSnz

This question was posed on Twitter last week: Do you think you are a better writer because you started out as an actor?

Hmmm. Well, I have spent many more years as an actor (or trying to be an actor) than I ever have writing. In fact, I’m headed out next week to be an actor again after my first audition for a film in over two years actually netted me the part and caused me clear the cobwebs and dust off my SAG card.

It’s not a big part by anyone’s definition, but a funny little part in what I think could be a very funny film. I made the camera operator laugh in the audition and I believe that helped because his laugh had to be heard in the background. Couldn’t have hurt.

And it’s a nice situation for me. No other responsibilities except learn my lines, hit my marks, and make it real. I know my limitations and this part doesn’t get near them, so I’m just gonna have some fun.

But switching back to actor mode, and believe me it is a switch, got me thinking about the question. How much has my acting experience helped me as a writer?

I'll tell you. A whole lot. Maybe more than a whole lot.

Has it helped me write better dialogue? You bet. You still have to maintain the character you’re trying to write, it just makes it easier putting the right words together in the right order if you look at it from an actor’s (who is still playing your character) standpoint.

No actor wants wooden dialogue. No actor wants dialogue that no human would say. Yet I see it all the time in spec scripts. Dialogue so unreal it’s like space aliens wrote it. I’ve auditioned in the past for independent films or TV where I got the sides, (actor’s audition lines in script form as scenes or parts of scenes), and I've cringed at having to say what was on the page. Sometimes you just can’t. There’s no way to make it come out right because of the way it’s written. How then, you ask, did such bad dialogue get as far as an audition? Beats the hell out of me. Tell me you haven’t seen films or TV with dialogue like this. You just don’t want to be the one who writes it.

Actors LOVE great words. It makes them happy. When I was on the set of the film Jeff Willis and I wrote, “The Right Girl”, it made my year when all three leads told me, unprompted, that they loved the dialogue in completely separate conversations. They didn’t have to do that. They could have just ignored me, but they didn’t. The female lead hugged me out of the blue when we met and thanked me for such a great script. (See what you missed Jeff?) And one of the male leads remembered when we worked together as actors on a TV series episode. That was cool, considering I had a flea sized part compared to his. But it was an acting, then a writing connection. We talked about my transition to writer and he had a lot of questions because he's trying to do it too.

Acting experience has also helped me with constructing character in my scripts. Knowing how to define my characters better on the page. Giving characters more of what I think a good actor might look for in the writing to help them understand who they are. I don’t change story for what an actor might like, I just think it helps me build more life into my characters an actor can relate to.

I’ve always thought that writers should take acting and improv classes anyway. I’ve encouraged my writing friends to do it on more than one occasion. There are community classes everywhere. In LA you can’t walk (sorry, it’s LA, I mean drive) by a strip mall without seeing someplace that has acting classes.

I’ve also encouraged writers to get their butts on a film set as an extra sometime. Extras are the lowest of the low on the film production food chain. The guy that waters the plants on the set is higher. You should do it anyway. You’re on a set. You’re watching how films get made. You watch the people in the director’s chairs looking at the monitors and you can see yourself there someday. I did that. I started as an extra on films and worked my ass off to network, to get an agent, to get auditions, to improve my craft as an actor, basically the same route I eventually took as a writer. But I learned what making a film really entailed. I learned what goes on. How sets work. How films get shot. How BIG ASS 100 million dollar films get shot.

And when as a writer I’ve gotten to sit in director’s chairs at the monitors for films I’ve written, it’s a feeling you cannot describe. It’s a place I dreamed about... It’s... Stop it Bob... get back on track.

I’ve worked with actors who devoted their craft to learning everything they could about their characters to get them right. To do them justice. Watched and learned from them as they searched out even the littlest thing in the script to help them with backstory to bring a little more reality to their character. I've put those things into action myself as an actor. You don’t think this helped me writing scripts? Think again.

Every writer is always looking for an edge. That one thing more that can take them to another level. I think going to some acting classes and taking them seriously is one of those things. And you may well stink. Lots of people do. Acting, or acting well, is a very hard thing to do. Acting in front of a camera with all those people standing around waiting for lunch is even harder. But I don’t know a writer who wouldn’t grow from the experience. Gain insight. It’s all part of investing in your career.

And who knows, maybe someday you’ll beat me out for a part or we’ll be acting on the same project. Stay away from the breakfast burritos at craft service though... not a good idea.


Follow me on Twitter. @bobsnz

A while back I wrote a Blog about Expectation vs Reality when it came to what your script would look like after it’s been through the Production Company/Network development process versus what it looked like when you wrote it. I wrote about how much it would change and used as an example the film (The Right Girl) I wrote with my cherished friend and colleague Jeff Willis.

I also talked about how Jeff and I did six paid rewrites with multiple Production Company notes and made huge changes (monstrous changes) with even more notes from the Network with even more changes and even more notes from Production Execs as it got closer to production, and then finally, the director notes. To say the script was extremely different from the original script we wrote is way way too mild. It still has our stamp on it, but the movie we wanted to see originally from our idea and the movie they wanted to see were night and day. And we had to please more than a dozen people we ended up getting notes from before the film was made. All who wanted to put their stamp on it somewhere, too. And YOU, as a writer, better be ready for this and OK with it because that’s reality. Because if you’re NOT ok with it, they’ll hire someone like me to rewrite the way they want it anyway. Cold and brutal truth.

Ok... semi-old territory. Now... new territory. The Production Company sent us copies of the director’s cut of The Right Girl this week. So now we get to talk about the difference between YOUR final production script and what ends up on the screen.

Here, I make a confession. I was able to go to the set for a full day early in the shoot to watch, so I had an idea of what was coming. I had worked with the director many times before (he’d directed two of my other Cable Movies). I met him originally when he directed two episodes of Nash Bridges a lifetime ago. So I know how he works and like it and like him. I also got to meet some of the actors who were playing the characters Jeff and I had created.

Attention writers: Here is where I tell you what you don’t want to hear - - - YOU DO NOT GET TO CAST THE FILMS YOU WRITE. They may ask you who you had in mind, but when it comes to actually casting, you have ZERO SAY. None, Nada, Nyet. That’s Producer and Director Territory and YOU AREN’T ALLOWED. I know it hurts to hear, but it’s fact.

You can be happy when you hear who’s been cast, or sad, or confused, or angry, or you can say, “Who?”. But you have NO SAY. Beside the one film I wrote I’d like to disavow because of the final cut and the, in my opinion, questionable casting, I’ve been super fortunate to get wonderful actors cast in my films. This time was maybe the best.

There on set, I immediately fell in love with Anna Hutchison (Cabin in the Woods, Spartacus), who was playing our main character. Not only is she a sweet, just jaw droppingly wonderful person, she was stunning in character. She WAS our Kimberly. It was amazing and kind of an out of body experience to watch. I would use her again as an actor in a second. Add in Costas Mandylor (Who I also knew from Nash Bridges. He pointed at me and said, “Hey, I know you.”) and Gail O’Grady, who was also there that day, and I was a happy camper at what I witnessed.

I wish Jeff could have come with me, but he was in Brazil doing humanitarian work while I was hanging around the Craft Service table, showing me up once again. I’m not kidding. He was in Brazil building houses for the poor or something. An amazing man who puts his money and time where his mouth is.

So I got the film and I popped it in my computer to watch...  And once again it was a HUGE LESSON. A lesson to writers everywhere. It’s never what you expect, even when you watch it being shot.

When you as a writer have your finished written script, you see it in your head, or should. You see the scenes play out. You hear the line interpretations the way you want to hear them. But you’re not the director (unless you are, then ignore me) nor are you the actors, who bring their own skills with them. Skills, if they are good actors, you cannot fathom until you see what they do with your dialogue and action. Things you never even THOUGHT of. There were times in the film I was stunned at how wonderfully the lines were interpreted and how differently than I had heard them in my head. Better differently.

The direction was solid, but then I expected that. Some great camera use that really moved the story well. Zero problems with the way it was shot. Great sets, costumes, and production design. And the edit was good too. A little long, but it’s a director’s cut.

But since these are YOUR characters and you know them inside and out, you sit and pray for them to be what you envisioned. Good actors bring their own life to your characters you can’t anticipate. Again, Anna was a revelation in the cut. Just astonishing. The character of Kimberly, as we wrote her, is a very vain and arrogant (and funny, we hoped) person at the start of the film. We knew the actor playing her would have to be able to skate a thin line to not make her so unlikeable that the audience didn’t care about her journey. Anna did it with a classy ease that brought layers of dimension and humor we couldn’t have dreamed about. She was what I had pictured Kimberly to be and much more.

But then, a lot of the time, what you picture doesn’t happen. Costas’ interpretation of his character was nothing like we had pictured. Where our written character was lighter and more comic relief, Costas brought a serious twinge to him, too. Gravitas that we didn’t expect in the character. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it. A lot. It was terrific. I never saw it in the character. He did. And Gail O’Grady was more sophisticated and urbane that we wrote her character and it worked too. Well. Dorian Harewood brought his considerable skills to his character, too, playing him exactly the way we imagined him. Overall,  all the acting in it was first class. And I thank these pros from the bottom of my heart.

A lot of the scenes were word for word what we wrote (AND THEY WORK) and I can’t tell you how exciting that is. You’d have to experience it to understand.

Sometimes you get really lucky... And sometimes you scratch your head... at the same film.

There's a whole big scene neither one of us wrote in the middle of the film. Smack in the middle. A scene that wasn’t in our final draft. It wasn’t bad. It just doesn’t add anything to the story. It’s there and I have no idea where it came from or why it’s there... one of those surprises you have to expect as a writer. And the choice of the producers and/or the director, because in the end it IS their choice and not yours.

And the last scene is completely different from what we wrote, too. Not a bad ending scene at all, I like it, just not close to what we wrote. A different direction yet again. A new ending that they rewrote while making the film. Something that happens every day, by the way. And as a writer you have to shrug and understand because, again, it’s not your decision to make.

Jeff called me after he saw it and we talked for quite a while. Are we happy with the film? You bet. Very happy. And our names are in the titles in BIG letters, right before the Director’s. You can’t beat that.

Is it our script the way we pictured it? Well, no. IT NEVER IS. In this case, I’m happy to say I think it is just as good and in some places better. That’s not always the case. You need to understand that, too.

I’ve watched The Right Girl three times now and get happier each time. I’m also starting an Anna Hutchison Fan Club.


It’s been more than a couple of weeks since I’ve last blogged. Not that there weren’t things to write about, but it’s been deadline-mania around here lately. The last one went in Monday and I find myself truly unemployed for the first time since January. During that time it’s been a cornucopia of rewrite work for Production Companies, Producers, Development Execs, and Directors. Work on five different films, four of which are my original spec scripts (one written with the wonderful Jeff Willis). Two of them for cable networks and two that are theatrical.

The other was a hired page one rewrite job on someone else’s script for a production company which I may or may not get screen credit for. (However, the checks cleared). And it looks like maybe three of them are heading for production this year, one starting July 30, for sure. The other two of the five put off until 2015. Or not made at all. That’s what’s so hard about this business.

And as I look forward to a little time off, I also worry about where the next job will come from and when it will come. That’s the lot of anyone who works as an independent contractor, like most film writers do. I may not work again this year. I hope so, but there’s nothing on the horizon right now. So I’ll be writing more specs, reworking my pilot, and rewriting older specs in the meantime. Use it or lose it.

As I have said before, all of my produced/credited films have been for Cable Networks, mostly for the Hallmark Channel, which has been interesting because my natural proclivity is toward darker material. All of my optioned feature specs… hell… my entire two foot tall stack of specs are all kind of dark and/or twisted, including the comedies. So having to NOT write like that for Production Companies and Networks with a narrow brand has been good for me, expanding my abilities to keep my own voice yet walk those lines drawn that you cannot color over.

Where is this going? To talk about what happens to YOUR original when you option it to a Production Company or Network who wants it to fit their brand. Which is all of them.

Jeff Willis, who is a VP at a very well known and large Production Entity, is also my sometimes writing partner. We met on an Internet Board years ago and a real life friendship came out of it. And out of that, and I can’t remember which of us said it, came, “Hey. Let’s write a script together.”

We proceeded to write three over a couple of years. A dark funny anti-romantic comedy, “The Right Girl” where the two people don’t get together at the end. A Monster Movie, “The Ogre”, with a great original premise, that’s sly, violent, very funny, and gruesome. And a big grand Action/Adventure Spy Movie, “Family Bonds”, with a killer premise. Two of them are still available, by the way. The anti-romantic comedy is going into production July 30. Only… it’s no longer an anti-romantic comedy. The two people do get together and love wins. How did that happen? Not by accident.

A production company optioned The Right Girl about a year and a half ago. In that time Jeff and I have done six (6) paid full rewrites of the script for them, taking it from the snarky anti-romantic comedy it was to the still kind of snarky in places fun true romantic comedy it has become. More than a few different people from the company and the network have given us notes over the last 18 months at different times. Our main Protagonist, a woman who travels from narcissist to empowered woman (with or without a man) has basically stayed put. (She was the reason they bought it to begin with and I’m glad they kept her journey reasonably the same). She’s a lot less profane and all of the overly sharp edges have been ground down, but her personal journey to redemption still isn’t powered by her growing love for a man. The real love happens between them because she’s changed on her own.

But beyond that… if you read our original optioned draft and the production draft I sent in yesterday, you’d barely recognize it as the same script. Our major original premise point is gone, replaced by a different one they wanted instead. Our antagonist doesn’t even exist anymore. Characters and their arcs we loved are gone. Gone. Replaced by other new and different characters that fit the new paradigm. Characters retained have different agendas and needs. Some have changed sex. Some have changed age.

Don’t get me wrong. Jeff and I were given fairly free reign to make these new characters and their story arcs our own, as long as we stayed inside the lines. We skirted the edge and got away a lot of it, but we always stuck to the spirit of their notes, which is what you do when you want to keep doing this.

And we did a good enough job that they didn’t bring in any other writers to rewrite us. We wrote every version from the original to the production script. The Production Exec told us that’s never happened with them before. They always bring on other writers. So we’re feeling pretty damn good about that.

But if we had been so married to our original that we couldn’t or wouldn’t have made the huge wholesale changes that have been made to it to get it where they’re actually spending millions to makes it, we would have been replaced faster than you can imagine. And the new writer or writers may have gotten writing credit for the film with us.

Your original script, no matter how much you love it, cherish it, and do not want to see it changed, is only a suggested starting point if you want to see it get made. Unless YOU put the money up yourself, it is going to get changed and probably changed as much as ours was. As a screenwriter you have to learn to live with that or have a very very short career.

Do we like the new version? The one THAT’S GOING TO GET MADE and play on Cable for years and years to come? Yes. We do. It’s not the film we originally wrote, but it’s a damn good script. The notes we got work for what the Network and Production Company need. Did we get notes we thought were wonky at times? You bet. But we fought for what we wanted, still understanding our limitations, and most of the time prevailed. It’s going to be a cute funny film and better than a whole lot in the same category, I think. The Production Company thinks so, too. They’ve told us as much.

They are building the sets on soundstages right now. Offers are out to stars. Casting is in full swing. A director I like a lot and have worked with before has been hired. And we’re been invited to set anytime we want to go. We’ll be taking them up on it.


So… you wanna be a screenwriter. Ok. Do you like torture? Do you have endless patience? Are you a team player? After you’ve created a story, fallen in love with your characters, and spent endless hours, days, weeks, and months struggling to get it as perfect as it can be, can you stand watching a group of people tear it apart and reassemble it to fit their needs? Can you help them do it? Even if by the time they’re through with it doesn’t resemble what you originally wrote at all?

Then welcome. C’mon in. Grab a chair, put your feet up, and now let me tell you about the bad parts.

This blog is partly in response to a question a young writer asked on DoneDealPro (if you don’t know this website, it’s a solid screenwriter’s source.)

The writer wanted to know how much say he/she would have on set for a film he/she wrote. Would it be possible to be involved and have input in every single aspect of production from photography to post production etc.? Wanted to know if the writer was involved in casting or choosing the director. To his/her credit he/she acknowledged that it probably was a long shot, but still wanted to know.

It’s not too complex an answer either:

For new writers, it’s no. You don’t have a say in casting. You don’t have a say who’s directing. You have no say on the music or editing or the rest of postproduction. You have no say on set. In fact, there are quite a few directors who don’t want the writer anywhere near the set.

Luckily for writers, the last part seems to be changing. There are some directors who like having the writer on set, for dialogue or story questions, or just for another set of eyes from someone who knows the project well.

But… those circumstances are brought about when a director and writer have a great relationship, built on trust, working well together, and the writer realizing the director is the boss and has the final say.

Film is a director’s medium. They call the shots and it’s their vision you see on the screen. Directing a film well is a gargantuan job. The buck stops with you. Everyone on set works for you. A director has spent the better part of a year or more, sometimes years, prepping for the shoot. Developing the script to fit his/her vision with the writer or without the writer if the writer won’t or can’t cooperate.

Every aspect of what is seen and heard in a film is in the director’s hand. Good directors are endlessly creative, good delegators, and confident in what they want. A psychologist for the actors. A strong leader for the crew. And responsible to the producers. It a pressure cooker.

The script, as important as it is to a film, is only part of what a director has to worry about.

As a writer, it’s really your responsibility to understand where you are on the film foodchain and keep reminding yourself. Or you will go insane. It’s not your film. It’s your script. It’s not your film. And you have to keep saying that to yourself.

And if you’ve gotten yourself to the point where your script is getting made, you’re in a pretty special club. There are hundreds of thousands of scripts floating around out there looking to land where you are. True, you worked for it and earned it, but hey, you’re still a minority in the screenwriting field. You’re a produced writer.

I’ve been fortunate. Of the four films I’m a credited writer on, only one is unrecognizable as my script. Was I happy? Well, no. They trashed it. Was I angry when I watched it? Yeah, I threw stuff at the screen. But afterward I thought, hey, it’s the business I chose. I’m already past it. The other three films are my scripts, almost word for word, and when I watched them for the first time, it was a feeling you can’t imagine. Would I have directed the films the way they were? In one case, yes. I wouldn’t change a thing. The others?  You always see things that weren’t the way you envisioned them when you wrote them. But then… I WASN’T THE DIRECTOR.

I have what some people think is a life changing, for me, film shooting in the summer this year. I’ve been working with this director for the last eight years on it. We’ve developed an amazing working relationship and a friendship that will far outlast this film. He’s become one of my closest friends. It’s a relationship I cherish.

He’s been a guiding hand in developing the script. He knows what his vision is (damn close to mine, thank You God) and has given me the freedom to do all the creative writing to make that happen. He calls me and tells me his ideas and sometimes I love them and sometimes I argue with him and he’s open enough to listen. Sometimes I get my way. But he always has the final say. He’s the director. I get it.

And guess what? The script is now better than it has ever been. I am so proud of it and proud to have done it with this director.

I’ve been invited to be on set for the film. He wants me there. But I know what I need to do. Keep my damn mouth shut and let him do his job. The job he’s spent the last eight years working his ass off toward.

So to the young writer, NO, you won’t have a say. Can you be influential? If you play your cards right and understand what your role is in making a film, and develop relationships and trust, yes, maybe you can.

Most people this time of year make New Year’s Resolutions. Me? I do my best not to because I know myself and I know I’ll never keep any of them. I never have.

I do have some goals for 2014 though. One of them is to make it as good as 2013, professionally.

Personally, 2013 mostly sucked gas, especially for my fabulous wife, lots of loss and health concerns. I won’t bore you with the details, but I am hopeful 2014 is better for us that way and especially for her.

For my writing career, it was nothing short of miraculous.  One sold script (with a writing partner), four production rewrite jobs, one cable TV series episode job, two produced films. I got to visit the set of one of those films for a day and see them film something I wrote. I never got to visit the sets of my first two produced films in 2012, even though I was invited. This year I got to. The producer was mega gracious and immediately asked a PA to get me a director’s chair and set it up next to his so I could see the monitors. The director pulled me onto the set and explained how he was setting the shots up. The crew was friendly and engaging. The actors thanked me for writing such a good script. (Whether they meant it or not is inconsequential) It was like hundreds of daydreams coming true. I pinched myself a lot that day.

My dark comic thriller sped its way to a 2014 start date with some amazing attachments. I got a nice acting job in a very funny film and enjoyed it a lot. It’s been three years since I did a film only as an actor and it was FUN.  I directed my first short film. It was a ton of work and a ton of fun and the jury's still out, in editing now.  I think it'll be funny. And this month, to put a big bow on the year and thanks to the Black List, I optioned a big commercial comedy to a very successful production company. And everybody paid me on time. A good year.

Uh oh. Did I dream it? I just looked at what I wrote and it seems too good to be true.

Well, I also got yelled at by my manager a few times. I didn’t write one original script the whole year. He also told me to either update my website (which I hadn’t done in three years) or dump it. I updated it and added the blog. I also lost out on some writing gigs and got some disappointing passes along the way, too. And I got rousted by US Marshalls at gun point while traveling on an AmTrak train, something I’d rather not have happen again. Hmmm, the list of not so good things is filling my head now, so I’ll stop ruminating about 2013.


Lose 40 pounds. Big one. Have to. For my health. For my family. For me. Not a resolution. A goal. This one is gonna be the hardest. Why I bought a treadmill and put it next to my desk in my office. It will NOT collect dust.

Write three new originals, at least one with my sometime writing partner Jeff Willis. (I’ll do a whole blog one day on how ultra cool this guy is and how much he deserves all the accolades he’s been getting lately.)

Have at least two films shot. (The aforementioned Dark Comic Thriller and a romantic comedy I wrote with Jeff that we sold last year)

Option a couple more scripts.

Get a couple of good rewrite jobs. Maybe get to adapt a book.

Maybe write a book. Maybe.

Get an agent. Yeah. I know. I still don’t have one. I have a wonderful manager though.

Couple of acting jobs would be nice.

Realize I’m asking for too much.

And the one that will happen for sure, keep trying to give back.

When I first started to try and do this writing thing a whole bunch of people in this business helped me out beyond what I could have ever expected. They encouraged me to keep at it. They championed my work. They got me through doors I could have never dreamed of getting to, let alone through. The help I received was staggering.

I promised myself I would do the same thing if I was ever in a position to do so. I’m not completely in that position yet. I’m still on the fringes of this business, but I do love to encourage writers and believe that there is room for anyone to succeed.

So… to my family, all my friends, colleagues, business partners, writers I know, writers I don’t know, I wish you all a beautiful 2014 filled with your dreams coming true and big pots of gold at the end of every rainbow. But mostly I wish you personal satisfaction, because that… is what pays the most.