Workshopping, Networking, and “Getting Out There” in DFW

In a followup to: How to Become A Production Assistant

From: M******* U******** (***********@*******.***)
To: Gerald (neuroticnomad@gmail.com)
Date: February 27, 2011 12:36:30 PM PST
Subject: Re: Re: Getting Started

Haha I should be careful of what I put down in writing, you never know when it’ll end up on the front page! Well, I’m glad I could provide some conversation for the blog. Several of the points you made are things I’ve been told all along…like going to the listed websites, looking in craigslist and FB but access to the vendor directory put out by TAFTP was new and great to have. I’ve made some changes in my way of thinking recently and changed my perspective on this whole thing which is refreshing. I’ve been so distracted about how to make a living and provide for the family while trying this “on the side” that I didn’t realize that I can make this job a priority and the rest will come. It’s kinda like the “if you build it they will come” philosophy. I know that I can work part time as a nurse consultant and pick up odd production jobs and make it just fine. I don’t need a full time nurse job like I thought I did. That was the 1 thing holding me back and keeping me from getting anywhere with this career. Anywho, I think I’m on the right track :) Now to work on my screenplay.


From: Gerald (neuroticnomad@gmail.com)
To: M******* U******** (***********@*******.***)
Date: March 18, 2011 6:01:00 PM PDT
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Getting Started

First of all: Don’t quit your day job to join the circus (said the guy who quit his day job and joined the circus).

I can’t help but feel like I sort of left you in the dark a bit with my last piece of advice, so did a little more digging for you, especially on the screenwriting tip. (Screenwriting tip? Who am I? Grand Master Jay?)

OK, both Craigslist and The Dallas Observer turned out to be a bust. Also all the bigger theatre groups. (BTW: The local theaters all seem to be stuck in 1995 with their websites, except DTC which specifically says for you to buzz off (in so many words) if you aren’t writing something you want them to put on stage. So no help workshopping there. ) I’m beginning to recall how hard it is to find The Scene in that neck of the woods.

I found The Official Website of the Dallas Screenwriters Association but I seem to remember them being a bag of tools and a bunch of “buy my book, pay for my seminar” types. I could be wrong. It’s been known to happen. (Maybe I’m thinking of a different group.) Your milage may vary.

It seems that Meetup.com is quite popular there. Here’s just a sample:

Filmmaking:


Screenwriting:
Writing in General:
Other People You Want To Know …and who will want to know you:
…and of course, there’s always Facebook (It’s for more than being vain and stalking your friends and exes) groups.

Dallas Screenwriting Workshop | Facebook

…and you should take advantage of the fact that DFW has a WomenInFilm chapter.
This is probably the most valuable connection you can have. At least check it out once (in person!)
…and like The League of Women Voters, it’s open to men, too.

If you have money falling from various body openings, you can take a course at SMU that starts next week: Rex McGee – SMU Screenwriting Workshop Courses like these have some value in what they teach, but most of the value comes in meeting your fellow classmates. The price tag keeps out the riff-raff and the tourists. The people in that room care enough to break four bills. How many of them you meet is up to you.

Also coming up:

The Dallas International Film Festival put on by The Dallas Film Society (March 31 – April 10, 2011)

Writing Winning Business Plans for Independent Filmmakers with Louise Levison May 2011. Hands down the BEST business plan writer I know of – I envy you that she’s coming there to speak.

I recommend you do ALL of these things, especially the Meet ups.

For those I recommend you go again and again.

- Gerald

*Weird people are the ‘only’ people with the vision necessary to see what you are proposing for your life before you can articulate it for “normals”. Also, surrounding yourself with people weirder than you helps you grow as a human being. At the very least, it teaches you patience and acceptance**.

**Beware: Like any group, there are Good Eggs and Bad Seeds. Those with hearts of gold, and those who are manipulative jerk-faces. Don’t be too quick to judge. Some weirdos may surprise you – in both directions. One of the sweetest women I know has a manly name (Lou) and a blue mohawk. One of the craziest (in a bad way) grew up in suburbia and looks ‘normal’ in every way. That whole book/cover thing goes double for judging weirdos.

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If I own the camera and everyone works for free, why does my movie need a budget?

From: C******** S**** (******@*****.***)
To: Gerald (neuroticnomad@gmail.com)
Date: June 11, 2010 2:10:31 PM PDT
Subject: Free Movie

Dude! I own all the equipment and all my buddies will be helping me for free. I can shoot this for the cost of blank tapes! Why should I write a budget?

C*******


From: Gerald (neuroticnomad@gmail.com)
To: C******** S**** (******@*****.***)
Date: June 12, 2010 10:41:22 AM PDT
Subject: Re: Free Movie

No movie is really free, even if no one is getting paid.

Let’s talk Human cost. Even when everyone works for free there’s still printouts, signs, working toilets, snacks and meals. You have to get them there safe, and keep them alive and happy while you have them.

Then if you’re really rich there’s gas/parking/bus fare re-imburesrment and making sure there’s cell phone/internet reception, but let’s not get nuts.

Print-outs and signs we’ll come back to when we discuss expendables

…right now you just need to think about working toilets.

a. That we are allowed to use.
b. a lot.
c. a whole whole lot.

We provide TP and have emergency feminine hygiene products. We leave the toilet area cleaner than we found it when we leave and THANK whomever allowed us to bring what looks like a pack of roadies through their home or business.

Snacks and meals.

$7 to $12 per head per meal over and above coffee/water budget. Meals come at 6 and 12 hours. If a second meal is provided, it’s to be a hot meal. Pizza, burgers, restaurant catering sponsorships.

The last “free” movie with unpaid cast/crew I worked on cost over $2000 in the end.

This does not include pre- and post- production expenses, nor marketing and distribution.

You have to pay for that stuff, too.

…And if you’re looking for someone to give/loan you money, they want to know (specifically) how you plan to spend it.

…And movies that don’t pre-budget always waste cash.

Just write it.
– Gerald

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How to Become A Production Assistant

From: M******* U******** (***********@*******.***)
To: Gerald (neuroticnomad@gmail.com)
Date: January 24, 2011 12:03:54 PM PST
Subject: Getting Started

I’m reaching out to see if you have ANY suggestions, thoughts, words of wisom….ANYTHING. I would love to get in the field as a production asst or any kind of asst in the Arts. I would love to work for a theatre, museum, television, film co. Hell I’ll work for a man on the street with a camera! Soooooooooo….anything….Bueller….Bueller…. :D

P.S. I’m in DFW.


From: Gerald (neuroticnomad@gmail.com)
To: M******* U******** (***********@*******.***)
Date: January 24, 2011 1:05:14 PM PST
Subject: Re: Getting Started

There are three very fast routes to becoming a Production Assistant and getting some hands-on experience.

1. Your local film commission..

Feature Films: http://governor.state.tx.us/film/hotline-crew/
Short Films: http://www.shortfilmtexas.com/castcrew-calls/
Local to Dallas: http://www.filmdfw.com/

I especially like the Dallas one because it explains the different types of PAs and even gives advice on what to expect as a Production Assistant.

2. Vendor Directories

These are special phone books for industry professionals. You can use it to look for work, to look for crew, or to advertise your services once you have some to offer.

In your area, that directory is the Texas Association of Film & Tape Professionals (TAFTP). You can buy a print copy for $75 or download the PDF for free.

Here’s the PDF: http://taftp.com/pdf/2010_TAFTP_Directory.pdf

3. Craigslist and Facebook

No, I’m not kidding. It’s 2011 and social networking is how jobs are found.

If you don’t have time to dedicate to a studio film, do a student film. They are usually shot on nights and weekends and they keep hiring the same people over and over. It’s a good way to build a circle of like-minded friends and a way to make good connections.

Hope this helps,
– Gerald

UPDATED: Workshopping, Networking, and “Getting Out There” in DFW

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Am I Brave Enough To Write This Screenplay?

From: J**** B** (*********@*******.***)
To: Gerald (neuroticnomad@gmail.com)
Date: May 30, 2010 8:24:44 AM PDT
Subject: Inevitable…but not predictable…

Wow. There’s a hard one.

Bought the book Thursday and about 3/4 done with it. And you know I’m a slow reader. Awesome book. Thanks for the suggestion.

I find myself reading some of this and thinking to myself, “can I really do this?” I hope so. I have optimism but then doubt. Like, I wrote and recorded an entire album that I thought (and still think) was pretty good…but no one else seemed to care. So that fear carries into this venture as well.

Did you know this dude died like 2 or 3 years ago? He was only like 60 or something.


From: Gerald (neuroticnomad@gmail.com)
To: J**** B** (*********@*******.***)
Date: May 30, 2010 9:51:05 AM PDT
Subject: Re: Inevitable…but not predictable…

On May 30, 2010, at 8:24 AM, J**** B** wrote:

Wow. There’s a hard one.

That’s what SHE said.

Bought the book Thursday and about 3/4 done with it. And you know I’m a slow reader. Awesome book. Thanks for the suggestion.

It’s the best nuts-and-bolts book I know. It’s aged a bit since I first read it and could use an update but all-in-all it’s top notch.

I find myself reading some of this and thinking to myself, “can I really do this?”

Which parts?

I hope so. I have optimism but then doubt.

Fear and doubt are normal. Going ahead and doing it anyway is what separates the dreamers from the artists. There is a 99% chance you will fail. Knowing that and finishing it anyway takes guts. Believing in that 1% is a long stomach churning journey*

Like, I wrote and recorded an entire album that I thought (and still think) was pretty good…but no one else seemed to care. So that fear carries into this venture as well.

I am so glad that C couldn’t care less about the movies I make. She’s going with me to the Seattle premiere of my last movie and it will only be the second movie with me in the credits that she’s seen. (Third if you count that short film I produced). The only other movie with me in the credits she’s seen – she has TWO credits in it and her forearm has screen time. …and we both worked the box office at the World Premiere. I don’t think she was there for me. :)

Life’s journey, not a destination. An album is just a record of where you were musically at that point in time. The fact that your family and friends couldn’t care less is normal for all the bands I’ve known – and I live in a city where every freaking bar has a stage (it seems), and lots of people are selling CDs out of backpacks. (Actually, that’s not true. CDs went away years ago. Now they give out postcards with iTunes gift codes. )

This is your dream, not theirs. They’ll be happy for you. Some may even be a tiny bit proud. No one will really care. They care about you, not your dream.

That’s not a bad thing. It’s better that way. Let the fans love your art.

Did you know this dude died like 2 or 3 years ago? He was only like 60 or something.

It sucks that we don’t have hundreds of years to do all the things we want to do. I’ll never own a movie theatre or a pizza parlor. I’ll never fly a plane. I’ve probably had my last cross-country drive. Oh, well… new dreams are shinier. Maybe I’ll mix my way to an Oscar – or give up movies altogether and teach new media.

Either way, my life has been full of a lot of different experiences and I don’t think that’s going to change.

I’m so glad to hear you finished your album. I hope you continue making music, albeit age appropriate. Don’t be like Linkin Park and be 45 years old singing about teenage shit. It’s okay if your tastes/attitudes/outlook/style matures.

Be a grownup. Like this: http://youtu.be/dvf–10EYXw

Of course I’ve always believed you were more at home in the day to day of a working actor than the day to day of a working musician in a band, but then again – not my dream.

Sent from my iPhone

Glad to head you’re writing something of substance. I don’t have the guts to write things about people who are still alive. Maybe I’ll do like Mark Twain and seal it up for 100 years after my death. (Did you hear about that? Google it.)

– Gerald

*Years before the producer of a Robin Williams project noticed me and recommended me to a project with an Oscar nominee in it, C and I lived in a 270 square foot apartment and ate off of a hot plate in a coat closet while I worked non-paying, non-credit gigs. I worked on this short-lived series where the star/exec producer was clinically insane and had a thousand year old dog in diapers that I almost killed. Talk about stomach churning fear.


From: J**** B** (*********@*******.***)
To: Gerald (neuroticnomad@gmail.com)
Date: May 31, 2010 12:28:01 PM PDT
Subject: Inevitable…but not predictable…

Oh shit, that’s right, you hadn’t heard the entire album! If you want a copy, send me your address and I’ll send you one. God knows I have roughly 400 extra copies (literally).

And about what you said around me as a working actor vs. mucisian…I couldn’t agree more. But it’s been a long road to figure that out. Well worth it because I can appreciate what I’m doing so much more, I’m WAY less inimidated by any of it, but it may have been nice to figure this out in my “prime” of “looks” but I don’t know that would have been best for me. We’ll see as this unfolds.

So as a first draft of my byline itself (can’t remember if I shared this already), my story is about, “a highly functional and successful bipolar man fights to overcome his toxic lifestyle.” Would love your initial feedback.

This could change, but in my head, I see the opening scene at a dance club playing my song, “immure” of the album. I don’t know if you heard that one, but it’s perfect in tone for the first half of the movie about a guy in an insane asylum. I know that might very well change, but it’s just some trivia for you when you get the album. And Lexi (the cat) has a singing role in it too. The chick singing in the middle is me on the vocoder and I named her Margo. Lol…remember that? Bitch lives on. Hahahahaha…

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What does the word “epic” mean? Is that like “episodic”?

From: J**** B** (*********@*******.***)
To: Gerald (neuroticnomad@gmail.com)
Date: May 21, 2010 1:31:28 PM PDT
Subject: Acting, Writing and Day Jobs

I’m shooting a movie on Sunday…small role in an indy film. Should be fun…we’re shooting on campus at UNT…which I’m sure is going to swamp me with memories of life right before I met you. Crazy, huh? I haven’t really been on campus since then. I went to a few shows over there of Mark’s (guy I used to work with at GTE) but that was at one of the bars on the outskirts of campus. Remember Farmer Brown? That guy. Oh wait, you’ve been to one of those with me, hadn’t you? Anyway, I’m sure this will be fun if it doesn’t rain. Lol…

My character’s name is B**** T******. I’m this 30-something year old guy that hangs around on college campus and basically “manages” a street dancer chick. So, clearly something is wrong with me. She loses a big dance off right there on the street and I yell at her for it. Lol… I think I even get to do an improv rant to buy time while the main characters take their “Prize” from us and move on. I don’t get to drop any F-bombs though, which is a real shame since that’s like second nature to me.

In the mean time, I’m doing my day job on my laptop and working on my notes for my script and trying to map out how I want this to work. Question…does the term “epic” for a screenplay mean the same thing as it does a book? Start in the middle, go back to the beginning and work through to the end? Or is it something different?

How’s your eyeballs doing now? Still as bad as last week?


From: Gerald (neuroticnomad@gmail.com)
To: J**** B** (*********@*******.***)
Date: May 26, 2010 11:57:33 AM PDT
Subject: Re: Acting, Writing and Day Jobs

I’m shooting a movie on Sunday…small role in an indy film.

There are no small roles, but motherfucker there are some pretty small actors out there, let me tell you. Especially when there’s no money and long days. Sheesh.

Should be fun…we’re shooting on campus at UNT…which I’m sure is going to swamp me with memories of life right before I met you. Crazy, huh?

I don’t remember your life before I was in it, because I wasn’t there.

I haven’t really been on campus since then. I went to a few shows over there of Mark’s (guy I used to work with at GTE) but that was at one of the bars on the outskirts of campus. Remember Farmer Brown? That guy.

C and I were jamming to “Lawn” just a few weeks ago. We even have the proper cover art for it in iTunes. (The CD is in storage in Texas).

Oh wait, you’ve been to one of those with me, hadn’t you? Anyway, I’m sure this will be fun if it doesn’t rain. Lol…

I thiiiink so.

My character’s name is B**** T******. I’m this 30-something year old guy that hangs around on college campus and basically “manages” a street dancer chick.

A scumbag.

So, clearly something is wrong with me. She loses a big dance off right there on the street and I yell at her for it. Lol… I think I even get to do an improv rant to buy time while the main characters take their “Prize” from us and move on. I don’t get to drop any F-bombs though, which is a real shame since that’s like second nature to me.

You’re the guy she hates enough to do all the stuff in Act II.

In the mean time, I’m doing my day job on my laptop and working on my notes for my script and trying to map out how I want this to work. Question…does the term “epic” for a screenplay mean the same thing as it does a book? Start in the middle, go back to the beginning and work through to the end? Or is it something different?

Epic just means big. Episodic means many chapters. Non-linear means time jumps around. A saga is an epic episodic story that may or may not be linear.

How’s your eyeballs doing now? Still as bad as last week?

Doctor increased my drugs so I’m a horror show. It’s half-over now. Two more weeks then I wake up from the nightmare.

But then walking around my neighborhood cheers me up.

HI, Youra Dumnass

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How To Write A Screenplay, Square One

From: J**** B** (*********@*******.***)
To: Gerald (neuroticnomad@gmail.com)
Date: May 13, 2010 1:40:27 PM PDT
Subject: Screenwriting

The last time I wanted to write a screenplay was with you way back when. Thought about trying another one here and there, but never really had a story idea….until now. So, I have the fevah again…but no knowledge from a technical point of view in how to write it…like “set your margins here, double space it, this is italics, this is not” kind of thing. Do you have/know where to find something like that that doesn’t cost anything? Remember way back when we pioneered the internet…remember when you could find anything for free? Lol… Well, you probably still know where it all is, but I don’t.


From: Gerald (neuroticnomad@gmail.com)
To: J**** B** (*********@*******.***)
Date: May 13, 2010 5:06:33 PM PDT
Subject: Re: Screenwriting

If you have money falling out of your butthole, buy Final Draft http://finaldraft.com/products/final-draft/

If your butthole is cash-free, download Celtx. It’s free, open source, and cross platform. Best of all, it automatically formats to industry standard everything, and saves to PDFs. It’s actually pre-production software. I use it to do the script breakdown and make the budget and schedule – but the word processor in it is Final Draft-compatible and it’s free… so I stopped using FD in 2006. Pick it up here: http://celtx.com/download.html

Real-Wold Advice: Unless you plan on selling it, the margins on your script doesn’t matter. Write it like a stage play if you want. Use WordPad (or whatever it’s called now). If you ARE planning on selling it, this is required reading: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1580650155

Also recommended:
http://www.amazon.com/Screenplay-Foundations-Screenwriting-Syd-Field/dp/0385339038
http://www.amazon.com/Stealing-Fire-Gods-Dynamic-Filmmakers/dp/0941188655

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Can You Name Drugs By Name In A Movie?

From: J**** B** (*********@*******.***)
To: Gerald (neuroticnomad@gmail.com)
Date: May 10, 2010 7:40:01 PM PDT
Subject: Drugs

Any idea what the legalities are in using brand drug names in a screenplay?

Sent from my iPhone


From: Gerald (neuroticnomad@gmail.com)
To: J**** B** (*********@*******.***)
Date: May 10, 2010 10:09:00 PM PDT
Subject: Re: Drugs

It depends on the story. People use the names Viagra, Valium, Tylenol, Midol, (etc.) all the time, but only in passing.

If the plot revolved on those drugs it would be different, especially if you are making the drugs look dangerous or make claims that can be considered false.

Change one letter. Zoloft becomes Zolott or Soloft and your ass is covered.

Sent from my iPhone

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