View Full Version : Astronaut training
03-28-2001, 05:04 AM
I'm Henri, and I want to be a screenwriter. Big club, I know. I'm trying to get my aspirations out of the 'When-I-grow-up-I-wanna-be-an-astronaut' clouds. I've read about 20 books on the subject by now, which include 'Adventures in the Screen Trade' and 'Which lie did I tell you?' (That seems to be the secret society password, if you know what I mean)
I've read the books, visited the websites, seen most of the past 2 decade's cinematic releases (US) and a lot of old ones as well (including black&white)
Crush me. Tell me why I'll never make it. I want to learn.
03-28-2001, 06:26 AM
wordplay column you must read:
03-28-2001, 06:38 AM
Write five pages every day.
03-28-2001, 07:06 AM
I've always doubted the sanity of reading the classics as a teenager.
I've always wondered if I truly possessed that jagged edge knife for a brain, as it struck me sometimes how arrogantly right I often was.
I have a rare intellectual gift. I'll be ashamed when I reread this statement, but it's a statistical fact.
My insight dazzles me sometimes. It's amazing how many people are dominated by fear inspired by a sick culture. Intelligent people, especially, as intelligence develops itself as a tool to recognize and cope with threat. (see: writers' childhoods)
Yet 'modesty is the key to life', someone once said. (The guy who ran Disney that almost climbed the highest mountain on each continent)
'The chosen have no choice', I read yesterday in a book of jewish wisdoms. (I'm Christian, btw)
You'll laugh and despise me now, no doubt.
I've only recently decided to go for law school. (I'm 22)
I'm completely giving up screenwriting. But I'm afraid and amused by the fact that it will come looking for me now. Only not as a boy who hopes he can, but as a man who knows he knows.
If I'm wrong, I'll be a lawyer. That's okay for me.
And thank you. And good luck.
03-28-2001, 12:47 PM
time to stop the reading and start the writing. even if it starts off as being crap. if you're not writing, you'll definitely never be a screenwriter.
btw, there's no harm being something else first, and then being a screenwriter. there are writers on this board who are lawyers. walking in different shoes on this planet, gives you different experiences. you can use these experiences in your writing.
03-28-2001, 02:49 PM
henrik, you're in what I call the "potentiality cloud". You are intoxicated by your own potential. You know you have a good brain, maybe even talent. You have done all the passive work (reading on your trade, watching movies). You probably get pleasure out of talking to people about the great things you feel capable of. And you enjoy the warm, comforting glow of all that unmanifest potential.
Actual, physical writing will wreck all that completely. Which is why, if I had to bet, I'd guess you've written not one screenplay, maybe not one page. Which is okay - it's fine - but at some point you have to decide whether you want to live in the "Matrix" of all that comforting potential, or the cold, hard, real world of writing where you have to come up against the limits of your own discipline, inspiration and talent. You will find that you're not Robert Towne. You're just yourself. And every day will be a struggle, a humble struggle, to try to write better. And it takes a long time.
My advice? Take the blue pill. (is this the right one, matrix fans?)
03-28-2001, 03:50 PM
Wrong. I write, and have written, though I admit I ain't Robert Towne. Finished one, but that's the first one, so it's crap. As english isn't my first language, I find it hard to write at that level where the words have direct emotional impact, actually strike you. But I think I'm getting better and better.
I've applied for Law and English Literature at university, though Law will have top priority.
So I do obey rule #1: Just do it. Commitment is everything.
By the way it's a few hours later now, and I'm deeply embarrassed by the posting. I like to blame my diabetes for those rushes of foolish pride. Partly true, anyway.
As for the actual writing, I know a poet's soul isn't enough. You need to put in the time, work hard. And you have to have passed a certain threshold emotionally, where you decide the pain doesn't hurt anymore. A sort of 'good anger'. A stoicism.
One for the quote police: HUMILITY, not modesty.
AND I've read Bradbury, too. That power, that certainty, I lack, but... not. It's there. I think. I'm being careful not to sound like a wacko.
And if it's all so hard, why do Mummies happen? Or even Gladiator?
Honestly, I know it's hard. I could go to film school, but I won't, even though students who go there encourage me to apply.
I've had diabetes for almost a year now. My mortgage interest rate is thus higher than average. Life is rock hard, and I know since I'm 22, I can't even begin to fathom the real and awful truth behind that statement, but I suspect it. Chances are phenomenally slim, but hey, I like the writing itself. So either way I win.
As for the pill; It's not that black and white. If you feel tough mentioning it, be my guest. :)
I think a writer shouldn't be looking for answers like that. He should provide them. Morpheus, not Neo.
03-28-2001, 03:54 PM
I just read the "Throw in the Towel" article you mentioned, and I have to admit I don't get it. What exactly is the point? To tell us all the reasons we shouldn't go into screenwriting? Was any of this new to you? Not to me. I've heard it all about a gazillion times, from so-called experts. It's the single hardest thing to do. So? Explain why I shouldn't try?
If I wanted to be a plumber, and I went to plumbing school, would an experienced plumber write me an article that said, "Throw in the towel," you can't be a plumber? Why can't I be a plumber? Besides the fact that I have two left thumbs, why couldn't I learn the craft and become good, even great, if I truly loved plumbing? What is the point of writing an entire article to say "You all stink"? If we stink, we know we stink. We don't have agents, or interest, and we constantly struggle to make ourselves smell better. Does anyone out there really stink and not know it? Maybe. But how many people told Steven Spielberg he stunk? I recall the Academy did at first. I just don't get "downer" articles like that. What's the point?
Okay, so if anyone can explain why I should give up the craft when I love it because one person who's never read my writing says I stink, I'd appreciate it. It's like having an old man in a critique group who says "I don't get this" to every high concept idea there is. So who cares if you don't get it? One person gets it, I'm going. I think those kind of articles are a dime a dozen. Everyone tells you the pitfalls. Young writers know the pitfalls. Is it to prove you have confidence in your own ability? If you have confidence, you know it. If you don't, you believe that crap. My soapbox for the day. :)
03-28-2001, 06:27 PM
funnyfarmer - it's been awhile since I read that article, but I believe the writer explained himself at the end. I believe the point is that one needs a certain amount of tenacity, call it "heart", to succeed in this business and the ability to rise above rejection.
If being told that one stinks as a writer is enough to get the writer thinking that maybe that assertion is right, then perhaps he/she doesn't belong in this business.
The article was written as sarcasm. Sarcasm does not appeal to everyone, and often has the opposite effect from that which was intended.
03-29-2001, 03:15 AM
The Mir space station was a bit of a failure. Now the Russians are having another go.
Write, then be malicious with your own work and re-write it. Be prepared to move things about or cut out your favourite stuff if it isn't vital to the plot or characters.
03-29-2001, 06:36 AM
1st, the original poster gave this prompt:
"Crush me. Tell me why I'll never make it. I want to learn."
2nd, Did you get to this part of the article?
"In this column, I've tried to put all the negative thoughts you might have in one place. I hope the nay-saying and insults have stirred you up. Maybe along the lines of, "Who the %#$@!!&* does that +^%$*@! think he is? I have talent, I'm as good as anyone, and I'm going to prove it!"
Because you should be pissed if someone tells you you're no good, that you can't do it. And you should be able to shrug off the negative thinking, and prove them wrong. You need to have the confidence to tell everyone they're full of crap. That you know the right path, and you don't need anyone's help.
If you have a dream to write screenplays, I think you should, actually, keep trying to write screenplays."
I very much enjoyed the way he made me mad as hell and it DID get me wanting to prove him wrong. That was on purpose. BTW, if you haven't been to the Wordplay.com site, the articles in it are some of the best you will find on screenwriting. I HIGHLY recommend them to anyone learning the art (as I am).
03-29-2001, 06:44 AM
03-30-2001, 10:05 AM
Jedi and Bill,
You're right, I skimmed. I pretended I was a reader :) and read the first part, thought "What a bunch of crap, I've heard this before" and missed the sarcasm completely. So now I know how the readers read our scripts. I guess the first ten pages have to be good.
I don't think a lot of people get sarcasm unless it's explained right off the bat. There are so many negative newspaper articles, and sensationalism. "Get 'em mad" seems to be the key. I didn't get mad, I got disgusted. Does that count?
So here's a good example of why you have to say what you mean. I don't hear a lot of sarcasm in my management job. They smart off to me, and they are out the door. So I guess I'm used to kissy-face sarcasm. :) Thanks for explaining, and, like you, I'm sure I won't take it to heart. Heck, I can't even remember it.
03-30-2001, 10:37 AM
I think Terry Rossio is a self-important sadistic prick who couldn't write his way out of a paper bag (Godzilla, anyone?) who's getting off on acting like a Big Man and disguising his ego stroking under a veneer of "caring" for the up and coming writer.
P.S. Terry, if you're reading this, hey it's just sarcasm, man! Get it? Funny, huh!
03-30-2001, 10:57 AM
Now I know why I've never seen you post over at the Wordplay message boards... :lol
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