Writing scripts is an inherently different craft than writing prose — one’s like being an architect, the other a sculptor. And just like architects and sculptors use different tools (except for the really bad ones), screenwriters need different software than the people who write those heavy, flappy things I use to kill spiders. (Boogs? Bocks?) Here are five apps I can’t work without.
This weekend I finished a new half-hour pilot script. It’s titled The Perfect Game, and it’s about a hipster artisanal baseball team that goes pro. They’re called the Portland Zeitgeist. I love it. It’s my ninth pilot.
Yes, nine pilots. Seven of which I wrote since I moved to LA and which, when added to two specs and a screenplay, means I’ve written 10 scripts in six years. 1Plus work for MAD, Puppet Nation, BBC America, etc. Along with creating and producing a full episode of a radio comedy that the Los Angeles Times loved, starring one of Hollywood’s most talented actors who also happens to co-star on one of TV’s most successful shows.
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On the occasion of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the start of the second term of the United States’ first African-American president, today is an excellent time to remember Maya Angelou’s unmatched inaugural poem from President Clinton’s first swearing in, “On the Pulse of the Morning.”
“On the Pulse of the Morning”
by Maya Angelou
A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Marked the mastodon,
The dinosaur, who left dried tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.
Back in August I wrote about literary editor Leslie S. Klinger’s suit against the estate of Arthur Conan Doyle, which argues that Sherlock Holmes should enter the public domain despite Doyle’s final ten Holmes stories appearing less than the required 90 years ago. Klinger seemed on the way to winning his case due to a lack of response from the estate, but it turns out that shortly thereafter the Doyle heirs filed their reply. Surprisingly they make a compelling and thoughtful argument for preserving the copyright on the character, one that’s especially fascinating for TV writers.
The estate, via their lawyers at Sutin Thayer & Brown, summarize their case nicely:
Although Holmes and Watson were introduced in Sir Arthur’s 1887 novel A Study in Scarlet, the characters were not fully created or disclosed in that novel. Sir Arthur continued to create Holmes’s and Watson’s characters throughout the Canon, adding attributes, dimensions, background, and both positive and negative change in the characters until the last story.
They argue that a character apperaing in a series of works is not fully “created” until the series is over. In fact they think that point so crucial that they suggest any decision in the case should determine copyright law for all episodic characters, saying, “No court has yet addressed this issue in the context of a literary character continuously created in a corpus of works.”
Out of the blue I was handed something pre-teen me never would’ve imagined I’d have the privilege or the means to see: the transcript of George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Lawrence Kasdan hashing out an outline for what would become the greatest adventure movie ever, and one of my very favorite movies period, Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’s 90 pages of pure joy for anyone who loves the movie and essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how screenwriting works.
Cuz I’m off to tap into that bottomless keg of mathematical-thinking money!
Little known fact: in 2000, I briefly went back to school to get a bachelor’s degree in mathematics at City College of New York. I didn’t make it past two part-time semesters, mostly because I got tried of scraping off all the hot women who’d latch onto me when they saw me reading a calculus textbook on the 90-minute subway/bus ride from Washington Heights to Bay Ridge. It’s a good thing that I quit, because I was really just taking a hobby too far during a time when I wasn’t sure what to do with my life. I was frustrated with the creative world and wanted to work on something in which right and wrong are definitive.