Cheaters Prosper Update – 12/31

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From left to right: Jordan, Dylan, and Catrina

Today I spoke with Catrina, the lead actress in Cheaters Prosper. I mentioned previously how disappointed I was to discover she and her friend had dropped out from the sitcom they encouraged me to write for them. Today I learned that her grandmother had died in the past week. Goes to show why you should never rush to judgment.

Furthermore, Catrina decided that she is now willing to participate in Just Leasing, though her friend is not. Even more impressive, she read the latest draft of Cheaters Prosper and gave me some really great feedback.

I’m truly astonished at how blind I am to the female perspective.  Catrina provides character insights that are abundantly obvious to her, yet evade my understanding completely. I’m beyond grateful to receive her input, and terribly regret ever doubting her dedication.

The ball returned to rolling today. My brother received a new camera that is capable of shooting longer scenes in RAW. I have a severely limited understanding of cinematography, but from my limited comprehension it seems he prefers to shoot by recording thousands of still frame photographs that flow together fluidly enough to provide beautiful motion pictures. His former camera could only handle shooting in this format for thirty seconds or less, and constantly skipped frames. The camera upgrade should prove highly beneficial.

Furthermore, the first delivery of aluminum pieces came in for him today. The pieces are going to be welded(I think) together to build a circular dolly. The climatic scene takes place at a poker table in my garage. When the dolly is completed, my brother will be able to film one continuous, orbiting shot of us conversing at the table. I share his excitement with this vision, and am sure it will be an incredible scene if he can pull it off.

I contacted each of the involved actors, and was happy to learn they are all looking forward to shooting 1-3 days next week. There are a few scheduling conflicts, but I’m confident I will be able to organize the scenes appropriately over the weekend.

Will keep you updated.

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Stand up comedy – 12/30

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In a previous post, I mentioned how the 2 girls who pushed me to write a sitcom episode hadn’t been getting back to me. Yesterday my worst fears were confirmed when Catrina called and informed me they were opting out of the project. This really bothered me, but I got back on the horse today.

While driving to get a cup of coffee and planning to look for new ways to break into the screenwriting community, I decided to take a giant leap out of my comfort zone. I looked up “Stand up comedy open mic” on my smartphone and found a bar offering just that not too far away.

I drove over and took the initiative to meet a few of the stand-up comics before they performed their sets.

The main person I talked to was a comic by the name of Brian Mathews. I asked him a variety of questions, and as I had hoped, he led me in the right direction.

I learned that it is typical for a new stand-up comic to bomb during their first 6 months of performances (a lesson I would confirm a short while later). More importantly, he informed me that it takes, on average, about 2 years before you start getting paid to perform.

Even then, the pay is not great – 25 bucks for a set is the standard rate, while a full 45 minutes of material may net you $75. While this may sound like a great hourly rate, it’s easy to overlook the fact that such a long set would take hours and hours to prepare.

Nevertheless, I’m happy I got to talking with him. One of my biggest goals for the new year is to meet more people with similar aspirations to my own. Networking has always been an area I’ve avoided, but I’m convinced it is necessary if I’m going to make any sort of career in the entertainment industry.

Posted below is a short clip from Titus Jones’ set. He was hilarious and kept the crowd laughing the entire time he had the mic. Check him out and tell your friends.

  • Thomas M. Watt

 

Cheaters Prosper Shooting – Day 1

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On the set of Cheaters Prosper

The first day of shooting was a success! The actors were great, my brother (director of cinematography) did a tremendous job, and I’m so grateful my friend Eric allowed me to use his house for the above location.

The most enjoyable part for me was hearing dialogue I wrote down acted out right before my eyes. It’s kind of a surreal moment when you remember hatching the lines in the first place as you observe them being performed right in front of you.

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From right to left: Jordan, Dylan and Katrina

The actresses did a great job playing characters who, in their view, would be better off leaving the men they are linked to and eloping together (my character is a misogynistic jerk).

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Scott plays “Jax”, the lead

Scott, featured above, had his work cut out for him. He was the only person involved in both scenes, and subsequently had A LOT to memorize.

I was hoping to film a third scene tonight, but time did not permit. Altogether, my brother estimates that we filmed 2 minutes worth of material over the course of 6 hours. Looking at the script, I see we covered 6 pages, or 10% of the story (55 pages total). 1 page typically equals 1 minute of onscreen time.

Regardless, I’m happy with how everything turned out. Everybody showed up, had their lines down, and put a great amount of effort into bringing this script to life.

Many of those involved are going away for the holidays, so we won’t be able to film again until after the 1st, maybe even after the 5th. I will continue you to keep you all updated!

  • Thomas M. Watt

Author of Master

Cheaters Prosper – Mary

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Old version of Mary

Today I received a concerned phone call from my acting friend Catrina. She had just read through the script for the independent film I wrote and pointed out two big problems:

1.) Her name is Catrina, not Katrina

2.) The women in the film were boring, cliche, and cardboard!

I apologized immediately for spelling her name wrong in the script. As far as her observation, I knew she was dead right – I’m more than aware of my limitations as a writer. Creating a strong female lead that is true to life is definitely something I have to work on.

She made some great suggestions, many of which I intend to implement. The most important observation she made was that the character needed some work. So, I consulted one of the best books on writing there is – The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri – then consulted his 1st chapter on character. Here he lays out the guidelines for creating a tridimensional character, which I intend to share with you. The 3 parts he outlines are:

1.) Physiological – What does the character look like? Appearance affects our perception of the world. Whether we are big and strong, are small and weak, it will have a serious impact on how we interact with the world around us.

2.) Sociological – Social standing; class status. A rich person will have a much different reaction to a $1000 suit than a person struggling to purchase a burrito after work.

3.) Psychological – This is the product of physiological and sociological influences. How we look, and how we rank in society, have a profound effect on everyday thought process.

Egri goes on to list question specific to each of the three criteria. By answering each of these questions for Mary’s character, I was able to bring the character to life. She transformed from a nagging girlfriend who wanted nothing more than to get married (literally nothing – she might as well sleep whenever her protagonist boyfriend leaves her side) to someone I’m generally interested in getting to know.

Mary is now a mildly schizophrenic, passionate artist who cares deeply for the man she loves yet has serious distrusts for most others. She comes from wealthy parents whose marriage was a sham, as they were more comfortable hosting swinger parties than kneeling in the front pews at their local Catholic church every Sunday morning.

To take my analysis of Mary to another level, I decided to take a personality test and answer each question as if I were her. Turns out Mary is an INFJ, a type that makes up less than 1% of the population and lives according to their “inborn sense of idealism and morality” (16personalities).

With my newfound understanding, I’m going to return to the script tomorrow and asks myself how this living, breathing character would react to the many different scenarios she finds herself in. I’ve also enjoyed this process so much, I would like to do the same for the four other significant characters in my Indy film. Only problem is, shooting starts Tuesday!

  • Thomas M. Watt

Author of Master

 

 

 

 

 

Waddup – 11/20

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On the set of “Vernon Time”

Waddup everyone.

I know I’ve been MIA for a while but starting now I’m back in action. I have many comments to respond to and obligations to fulfill, and I plan on doing so ASAP… just not tonight (as I write this).

I mainly stopped posting because I had reached semesters end, and found myself simply overwhelmed with computer work. It takes a lot of time and effort to maintain a blog, and I haven’t had that recently.

My newest project, and the one I will blogging about here leading up to its release, is a student/indie film. As I’ve mentioned before, my older brother is an outstanding cinematographer. Many of you are aware that I took an acting course during my latest semester.

So I’ve decided to put my screenwriting skills to the test. During a trip to Burbank with my friend Scott last week, we discussed various premises that would be convenient and cheap to shoot. We hatched an idea that involved young adults playing poker to make a living. To make things interesting, the show is about cheating unsuspecting players out of big pots.

I will play Torque, a former poker pro who got busted for cheating and consequently banned from every casino in the country. Scott will play Jax, a good honest kid who is desperate to provide for his now-pregnant girlfriend.

The script comprises 50 pages, which theoretically amounts to 50 minutes of filming. I chose to write it at this length in order for network executives to be able to compare it to any dramatic television pilot on cable(That’s right, I’m shooting for the stars, but why not?).

When the film is fully edited, I will be posting it on Youtube and entering it into Independent film contests. I’m really grateful to have legit actors from my class willing to work for free during our winter break. Filming begins this upcoming Tuesday.

Will keep you updated.

  • Thomas M. Watt

Author of Master

 

 

 

 

How to Market your Ebook – 11/1 (links at the bottom)

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Waddup, waddup.

My first week of marketing Master is officially over. And boy-oh-boy was it… uneventful. That’s not to say I didn’t learn a tremendous amount.

Doing anything new requires an enormous amount of patience and persistence. I spoke to a friend of mine about working construction projects with him, as he is a tremendously successful independent contractor. He explained to me that though he is willing, taking me along with him would most likely result in a financial loss. A project that would normally take him fifteen minutes would take me four hours or more. Now that I’m branching out into a field I have zero experience in, I understand exactly what he means.

One of the most effective ways to generate buzz for a book you plan on releasing is to release it shortly after a novella. Because I don’t have a novella, I’ve decided to take some of the short stories I’ve written on here and self-publish them in a timely manner leading up to the Nov. 20th release date for Master. Even though these stories have already been written, I will have to purchase ISBNs, e-book covers, and a membership with a program called Merchant Words (this program allows you to view the keywords consumers most often search on engines such as Amazon).

Along with releasing numerous short stories leading up to the release of Master, it’s imperative I rack up a number of bloggers to provide reviews during that same week. Unfortunately, I have yet to contact any potential reviewers. This is largely because review bloggers are bombarded for their services, by traditional and indie authors alike. The biggest obstacle we indie authors face is separating ourselves from the pack – let’s be honest, a group that accepts anybody is bound to have its share of hopeful hacks…. And I’m hoping to hack my way out, but until then, I’m one of them!

I’m happy that a plan is coming together, regardless of how behind schedule I currently am. After-all, we learn from taking taking action and making decisions. The only way to avoid the pangs of reality is to forever avoid it.

Posted below is a list of websites that I’ve found extremely helpful for marketing my e-book. I suggest for any and all authors to take advantage of the information they have to offer.

Script Coverage – Secret Life of Walter Mitty

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The following is a script analysis of the popular film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. The numbers contained in parenthesis reference page numbers, and any digit following a decimal helps approximate the location of a source on the given page. For example, this is how I would cite this sentence (1.3).

At the very least, I hope that any of you who aspire to become published authors/screenwriters will realize that the “higher-ups” who judge the quality of your material make their decisions based on how well a story excels in several distinct categories.

*I am the original author of this analysis.

* * *

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

A great premise, strong lead, and witty dialogue make for a lot of laughs in this satirical take on the unrewarding, high-pressure life of a typical cubicle worker. Though it starts off well-paced and rolling, the slow mid-section and divided climax take away the rising tension necessary for an explosive ending. The introduction of too many short-lived side characters and the ease with which Walter tracks down Sean O’Connell’s latest known destinations work slightly against the emotional impact this could have made. This is most comparable to “Stranger than Fiction”.

PREMISE (4)

Walter can’t find the cover photo for the final issue of Time magazine, and travels around the world in order to find it. His job is at stake, which is also the only thing he has going for him in his life, despite its being viewed by others as a meaningless position. The premise provides solid ground for fodder as well as an in depth look at the unrewarding life of a modest, hard-working cubicle worker. The premise would be strengthened if Walter hated to travel and preferred to do nothing more than slave away for Time magazine, a company which he should have initially felt sentimental about. The premise is similar to “Around the World in Eighty Days”.

STRUCTURE (3)

The inciting incident is Walter’s discovery that cut number twelve, the cover photograph that captures the quintessence of life, is missing (9.5). After learning the company plans to retain only eleven employees and his own job weighs in the balance (29.5), Walter makes his first plot point decision by choosing to fly to Greenland to locate Sean O’Connell (30.9). Walter learns that he has been let go before he has found the photograph (79.2), which prematurely releases tension by decreasing Walter’s motivation to continue in his pursuit. The climax is a let down, as Walter casually delivers the photograph to Mark Chatham in a Four Seasons Hotel hallway (113.4).

CHARACTER (3)

Outside of Walter, who plays an awkward, constantly fumbling-through-life protagonist (35.1), there are only two strong supporting roles. One is Doug, whose witty dialogue and personal interest in Walter is funny and original (48.8). The other is Sean O’Connell, who plays a larger than life photographer who is fearless at tackling any obstacle (92.7). Unfortunately, Doug and Sean have little on screen time, leaving Walter to be surrounded most often by briefly appearing side characters.

CONFLICT (3)

Though conflict is present in every scene, and is executed in unique ways, the lack of rising tension amounts to a weak climax. Walter finds himself in one uncomfortable situation after another as he travels the world. In one instance he finds himself in the water with either a shark or a porpoise fin circling him (41.5). in another he is kayaking in the way of triathlon swimmers (51.1). When Walter returns to America to assist his mother with her piano (58.1), he strays from the core conflict for too long. Walter’s discovery that he has been fired long before the climax arrives is a crucial error that kills any hope for a feel-good ending (79.2).

DIALOGUE (4)

Great comic timing and constant belittlement directed Walter’s way keep humor and entertainment high throughout. Walter’s awkward, uncertain character is obvious from the beginning, when he first allows Todd, an Eharmony counselor, to lead him into a private conversation (4.3). His quirky personality is made all-the-more apparent through subtle suggestions and phrases, such as his thanking Rich for “putting his back into it” (moving a piano) (21.8). After the cab driver tells him that she is the queen of Greenland, Walter uncomfortably refers to her as “your majesty” (32.8). Todd from Eharmony frequently offers insights into Walter’s life and character arc through witty lines, such as his realization that Walter can add swims with dolphin to his profile page (48.7).

PACING (3)

The good, well-paced rhythm established early on gets lost in the middle and never fully recaptured by the end. Walter’s decision to locate Sean propels the action forward, starting with a plane flight to Greenland, and soon followed with a helicopter drop off, which nearly results in Walter getting attacked by a shark (41.8). After this series of fast-moving developments, Walter decides to go home and help his mother move a piano (52.9), a subplot that takes up too much screen time (59.5). Though tension builds strongly throughout a series of scenes that involve a riot, a concert, and a dispute with the higher ups of Walter’s company, the climax is a few scenes removed, and arrives in the low-conflict setting of a hotel hallway (114.4), well after Walter’s big character breakthrough (104.9).

ORIGINALITY (4)

Everything about this is original. Glimpses from Walter’s imagination provide for an amusing display of where his mind is currently at. The physical characteristics of musk ox are creative and unique. Tim Naughton’s record for hitting the highest singing note ever is not only unique enough to set him apart from other characters, but serves as a great set-up for the high-pitched weeping he lets out later. Walter’s discovery that his mother has been in contact with Sean O’Connell comes as an unexpected twist. This is most comparable to “The Bucket List”.

LOGIC (3)

Many events and decisions in this are illogical, but because of its being a romantic comedy most of these errors are permissible. For instance, Walter’s Eharmony page will not allow him to wink at another girl online because his personality lacks dimensions (18.3). He takes a picture of an indistinguishable thumb with him to Greenland, and miraculously locates the person whom it belongs to (37.3). Sitting in a Subaru that Sean O’Connell recently slept in, Walter finds a scrap of paper with Sean’s itinerary, of all things, jotted down on it (44.8). Despite his willingness to do just about whatever it takes to track down the famous photographer, Walter casually abandons his quest and returns to America to help his mother move a piano (53.1).

TONE (4)

The tone remains consistent throughout. Frequently Walter struggles with obstacles that are foreign to his nature, making for hilarious scenes that still manage to maintain solid conflict (51.1). The tone lends some strong sub-text to the difficulties a cubicle worker faces in devoting his life to a company that is indifferent towards him (81.5). Walter’s awkward, uncertain, trying-to-please nature (21.9) is fitting given the intended genre as well as the demographic.

WRITING ABILITY (4)

Outside of simple misspellings and occasional grammatical errors, the formatting is solid, as are the scene and character descriptions. (1.5 “wait” not “waits” / 7.7 “music” not “muzic” / 9.2 “Walter unwraps” not “Walter’s unwrapped” / 15.5 “Cheryl laughs” not “Cheryl’s laughed” / 35.3 “your” not “you’re / 36.8 “folk dance” not “folk dance dance” / 41.8 “moment” not “moments” / 49.9 “Rich does” not “Rich has” / 62.6 “your” not “you’re” / 70.9 “lying” not “laying” / 71.4 “Cheryll notices this” not “Cheryll has noticed this” / 78.3 “song has” not “song’s” / 84.3 “information has been” not “information’s been” / 100.9 “Chatham finishes” not “Chatham finished”)

  • Thomas M. Watt

Author of Master