Friday, May 15, 2009

On the Definition of "Collate" and it's Importance to Scripts

Yesterday I delivered my application to the Canadian Film Centre's Prime Time Television Program. The time it was due? 5pm. My submission time? 4:59pm.

Cause that's how I roll - on the edge.

That was a monster of an application package, surely bigger than anything else I've ever submitted for anything.

It included:
  • 1 spec script - Mad Men
  • 1 original one-hour drama pilot
  • my CV
  • a one-page Letter of Intent
  • a synopsis of my Mad Men spec, as well as a synopsis of the next spec I want to write
  • a synopsis of my pilot as well as synopses of two more pilots I want to write
  • a top 10 list of my all-time favourite shows
Of course, I only realized the night before that I hadn't written the extra synopses, which meant I may have somewhat rushed through them. In the sense that when I did a spell check I found that at least one word had exactly 0 correct letters in it.

Then while I was printing the triplicate copies of my scripts (you had to hand in 3 identical packages) out at 4pm, I found that somehow the printer wasn't set to "collate". I must admit, though I consider myself as the keeper of an above-average vocabulary, I didn't actually know the definition of that word. I certainly know it now.

col·late (k-lt, klt, klt)tr.v. col·lat·ed, col·lat·ing, col·lates
1. To examine and compare carefully in order to note points of disagreement.
2. To assemble in proper numerical or logical sequence.
3. Printing
a. To examine (gathered sheets) in order to arrange them in proper sequence before binding.
b. To verify the order and completeness of (the pages of a volume).

I printed out 3 copies of 2 60-page scripts, but somehow I had only two piles. Each pile was ordered like so: Page 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3 ... and so on, for 360 pages. It was now 4:10, and I knew it would take me at least 15 minutes to drive to the CFC. So I sorted them all out and hopefully I didn't mix the pages up; I didn't have time to go through each script page by page to make sure.

Ordered, bound and clipped, I set out for the CFC. Traffic is clear, until Lawrence and Bayview. At 4:45 I'm stuck in traffic, a 5 minute walk away from the CFC. At 4:50 I'm freaking the fuck out. At 4:55 I'm considering just driving off the bridge and making it all go away. Then traffic starts to move, I almost get in several accidents, and when I finally find the CFC laneway, I park the car and run/jog to the door, getting inside at 4:59pm.

And now I wait.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

One week. One Pilot (1st draft, that is).

It is done!

One week. One pilot. I think that's acceptable in TV land. 2 days until the CFC application is due, and everything is coming along nicely.

I was very happy with my first draft. I'll venture to say it's the best first draft I think I've ever written. And it's also the longest completely original script I've ever written, as it's my first pilot. So with confidence, in the wee hours of last night I sent out the first draft of my original one-hour dramedy pilot, "Merely Mortal", to my writing group. I know there will inevitably be problems to fix because you can never write a perfect first draft, but there weren't any problems I could see. And I think that's an important distinction to make because you should only ever send out a draft for notes if you can't see anything wrong with it. Too many times people send out drafts and when they get notes they say "oh yeah I knew about that", or they preface their script with the warning that they know there's a problem with this, that or whatever. Well if you knew about it why didn't you fix it? I think it's lazy writing to not try and fix everything you can on your own.

I also don't think a first draft should be the very first draft. It's the best you can make it in your first shot. Your very very first draft will likely be your word-vomit. Personally, I like to just write my first draft as fast as I can and then go back and tweak a bit. Three quarters of the way through my story I realized I was missing an entire plot. So I added that in, finished the script, then went back over it and looked for problems. I found some, fixed them and then sent it out.

Having immersed yourself in the research and characters you will have difficulty being objective about your script after a certain point. You need two things to overcome this: other people and time. Other people will point out things that don't make sense or aren't expained well enough. Once you send out your draft, even if you get notes back immediately, wait at least a day before going back and writing the next draft. You'll see your script with fresher eyes and subconsciously your mind is going over and over your plots, and working it out and identifying problems. So when you come back you will probably find you can point out issues you didn't realize existed.

There have already been notes trickling in (thank you guys!) and tonight I will re-attack the script and try and fix those problems. So far it seems it's all minor stuff, no huge structural changes. And that's not surprising because I felt when I sent it out that it was working well structurally.

I think the main point I'm trying to make is to do your own work, and let others help you in the ways you can't already help yourself.

Monday, May 4, 2009 website launched!

Not a huge post today, as I'm still plugging away at my pilot (10 days to go until my CFC application is due! eek!).

I just wanted to let the internets know that my sketch comedy team just launched our brand spankin' new website today! And though there's only one sketch up there at the moment, it is mine, all mine.

Check it out: