Dispatch From The Quest: Paul Wie

October 25th, 2013 by

Over the course of the 24 weeks I am working with the writers in The Quest, each will write a weekly dispatch to share with the GITS community. There are several reasons for doing this, the main one educational: Hopefully you will learn something of value for your own understanding of the craft from the experiences of the Questers. I should also add they are a great group of people, so I expect you will enjoy getting to know them.

Today: Paul reflects on where he is as he heads into his first draft:

This last week was a culmination of all our prep work — outlines. Writing mine took longer than I expected with numerous late-night sessions; but now that I’ve gotten some rest and feel good about what I’ve created, I’m excited to go into the page writing. Regardless of how difficult this past week has been, outlining has reaffirmed my passion for my story. It’s given me a sneak preview of my movie, and it’s a movie I’d love to watch. Outlining has also reaffirmed my love for preparation. As much fun as improvising can be, my best work comes from having a strong plan A I can riff off of. Being rigorously prepared gives me the confidence to take risks and seize inspired moments when I see it. Even when I’m directing, I love creating very detailed shot-lists and storyboards, because not only do they help sustain my vision and save time/money on set, they free me up to improve my vision when better ideas come along. And when filming or writing, beautiful accidents happen all the time. Actors will give you a great line or look you didn’t anticipate, the sun will shine a certain way inspiring you to film the scene in a whole new light, and characters will emerge on the page saying or doing things you could never have planned beforehand.

So as prepared as I can be, I dive into my scenes, excited to write what I’ve outlined and excited for the new and unforeseen to come. All in all, I look forward to these next ten weeks of creative storytelling. Best of luck and inspiration to my fellow Questers and every writer going on their own journeys. Let’s write great scripts!

Thanks, Paul, for your Dispatches!

About Paul: Director + Writer. Loves Spielberg, Truffaut, Abrams, Kurosawa, Attack the Block, cinematic stories beautifully told. @paulhwie.

Dispatch From The Quest: Paul Wie

October 18th, 2013 by

Over the course of the 24 weeks I am working with the writers in The Quest, each will write a weekly dispatch to share with the GITS community. There are several reasons for doing this, the main one educational: Hopefully you will learn something of value for your own understanding of the craft from the experiences of the Questers. I should also add they are a great group of people, so I expect you will enjoy getting to know them.

Today: Paul Wie ponders a new generation of storytellers:

For the past twenty years, I’ve been a cinephile, immersing myself in a century of movies up to its present day, so I could understand the art form inside and out and one day be part of its future. The future of film excites me more than anything, because I believe cinema has yet to reach its artistic peak, it has yet to go through its true Renaissance. With new technologies and bigger canvases, the freedom of cinematic storytelling has now become synonymous to the freedom of writing — the limits of our art are only defined by the limits of our imagination. So the question I’ve often asked myself, especially in these last two weeks of prepping my story, is how can we, a new generation of storytellers, make movies that will be richer, more compelling, more beautiful, and more powerful than those that have come before us?

I believe a part of the answer lies in the great achievements of our older art forms: music, literature, and painting. In works such as Mozart and Bach’s concertos, Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, Carvaggio’s The Calling of St. Matthew, and Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, a common thread seems to bind them together. At a glance, these masterpieces are beautiful expressions of the human experience; they capture with incredible artistry and feeling the joys and pains of living in this world. But what elevates these works to another level is their ability to fulfill our profound need for transcendence — to go beyond ourselves and be in union with something or someone greater than our own lives. Regardless of one’s religion or faith, I believe this spiritual sensibility, this very human longing for a transcendent love and understanding will make a work stand the test of time.

In recent memory, I can point to three movies that have had this impact on me: Schindler’s List, The New World, In the Mood for Love. These films, now timeless classics of cinema, left me in an emotional state of awe after watching them. Even today, moments and moods from these movies linger in my memory, because they struck some deeper chord in me that I can’t even fully articulate. So what separates these works from a movie like The Avengers (which I enjoyed immensely in theaters, but can now hardly remember the story or even one truly memorable scene) is that these storytellers, Spielberg, Malick, and Wong, working at the height of their artistic powers, crafted a cinematic experience that transported their audience beyond the emotions of their characters and elevated their journeys to a higher plateau where their lives resonated beyond their time. Because these stories chose to end their films with this spiritual, more universal view of the human experience, I felt the stories had a bigger, deeper impact on me than they would have had otherwise.

Three of the greatest filmmakers in the last century — Andrei Tarkovsky, Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman — came to similar conclusions about the spiritual fabric of films. Tarkovsky stated, “I believe that an enormous task has been entrusted to art. This is the task of resurrecting spirituality.” It’s clear from Tarkovsky’s films such as Andrey Rublev and Mirror that he made movies with this sense of purpose — he wanted his work to reflect a spiritual view of the world that was both relevant to his time and went beyond it. Fellini also expressed this idea. He said: “What is an artist? A provincial who finds himself somewhere between a physical reality and a metaphysical one. It’s this in-between that I’m a calling a province, this frontier country between the tangible world and the intangible one — which is really the realm of the artist.” Fellini’s films such as 8 1/2 and La Strada lie very much in this province — where a man’s personal concerns are dramatized and juxtaposed against the expanse of time and memory. So in this vision and spirit, Fellini’s films have gone beyond their own time — they ring true today as they did in the past. Lastly and ironically, it’s Ingmar Bergman, an atheist, who gives the most detailed statement about his spiritual approach to movies. He said:

“People ask what are my intentions with my films — my aims. It is a difficult and dangerous question, and I usually give an evasive answer: I try to tell the truth about the human condition, the truth as I see it. This answer seems to satisfy everyone, but it is not quite correct. It is my opinion that art lost its basic creative drive the moment it was separated from worship. It severed an umbilical cord and now lives its own sterile life, generating and degenerating itself. In former days, the artist remained unknown and his work was to the glory of God. Today the individual has become the highest form and the greatest bane of artistic creation. The smallest wound or pain of the ego is examined under a microscope as if it were of eternal importance. The artist considers his isolation, his subjectivity, his individualism almost holy. We walk in circles, so limited by our own anxieties that we can no longer distinguish between true and false, between the gangster’s whim and the purest ideal. Thus if I am asked what I would like the general purpose of my films to be, I would reply that I want to be one of the artists in the cathedral on the great plain. I want to make a dragon’s head, an angel, a devil— or perhaps a saint— out of stone. It does not matter which; it is the sense of satisfaction that counts. Regardless of whether I believe or not, whether I am a Christian or not, I would play my part in the collective building of the cathedral.”

Bergman’s cathedral was an incredible body of work that grappled with almost every idea from death to war to love to familial struggles, but through this attitude of revering not the individual, but a narrative experience that could enlighten and expand our understanding of life, Bergman left one of the most enduring legacies in cinema history.

So my point of all this is that the future of cinema will be a great one if we can do two things: 1) master storytelling — the craft of entertaining an audience and 2) use that mastery to tell universal stories with genuine beauty, power, and meaning — meaning which can only come from a deep, spiritual appreciation of life. So with in this mind, I really have big hopes for our new generation who now have the ability to tell any story they want, on any size canvas, with any tool imaginable. We owe it to ourselves and the world to make works worthy of this amazing artistic freedom, to create the new masterpieces, to build the Sistine Chapels and Notre Dames of the future.

Interesting to see how the Questers have gotten quite reflective with this last set of Dispatches, posting about Big Issues. I wonder if this is the result of them ending Prep and getting ready — on Monday! – to type FADE IN. Having gone through the rigorous process they have, now a chance to put things into perspective to help them find the proper perspective for the page-writing part of the process.

To Paul’s point, I do think there is a new wave of talented filmmakers and storytellers. It’s an exciting time to be involved in the entertainment business.

Here’s to the Questers and everyone who will Go On Your Own Quest. May you nail your script and find your way into Hollywood.

Tomorrow: Another Dispatch From The Quest.

About Paul: Director + Writer. Loves Spielberg, Truffaut, Abrams, Kurosawa, Attack the Block, cinematic stories beautifully told. @paulhwie.

Dispatch From The Quest: Paul Wie

October 12th, 2013 by

Over the course of the 24 weeks I am working with the writers in The Quest, each will write a weekly dispatch to share with the GITS community. There are several reasons for doing this, the main one educational: Hopefully you will learn something of value for your own understanding of the craft from the experiences of the Questers. I should also add they are a great group of people, so I expect you will enjoy getting to know them.

Today: Paul Wie contemplates the themeline work he did last week:

This week’s prep work allowed me to re-examine and reinforce my story’s themes. At first, the exercise of articulating our story’s four themeline movements seemed so much like a previous assignment from our Core weeks that I thought it’d be a re-tread of familiar ground. But as I delved deeper into the exercise, I found it more challenging and eye-opening than I expected. In great stories, themes are skillfully dramatized through plot and action. Ideas are seen and felt rather than stated. So the challenge was showing the transformation of a character through clear dramatic situations that would build to a powerful emotional meaning. I found it helpful to work out this arc within the framework of four big thematic movements (Disunity, Deconstruction, Reconstruction, Unity), because doing so allowed me to see my script’s structure more clearly and figure out how to best weave in my subplots and sequences in order to enhance and enrich my character’s journey. And after painting my picture with these broad brushstrokes, I also discovered nuances and subtle colors I hadn’t notice before. So overall, this week was a wonderful lesson in ‘breaking’ my story — where a seemingly simple exercise became an amazing tool for storytelling.

One more week, then FADE IN.

Next week: More Dispatches From The Quest.

About Paul: Director + Writer. Loves Spielberg, Truffaut, Abrams, Kurosawa, Attack the Block, cinematic stories beautifully told. @paulhwie.

Dispatch From The Quest: Paul Wie

October 4th, 2013 by

Over the course of the 24 weeks I am working with the writers in The Quest, each will write a weekly dispatch to share with the GITS community. There are several reasons for doing this, the main one educational: Hopefully you will learn something of value for your own understanding of the craft from the experiences of the Questers. I should also add they are a great group of people, so I expect you will enjoy getting to know them.

Today: Paul talks about “becoming who you are”:

For years, I romanticized New York City. I used to see it as the solution to my woes of living in Los Angeles. I thought if I could drink lattes at a Greenwich Village coffee shop instead of at a strip mall Starbucks, I would be more inspired. I thought if I took the subway to work instead of a car on the 5 freeway, I would feel more alive. I thought if I ate late-night pizzas instead of late-night burritos, I would be cooler. But after visiting the Big Apple this week, I returned to my temporary home in Waltham with my illusions politely shattered. The city I once idolized looked different under the harsh light of reality. I still enjoyed Central Park and the endless array of good food, but I was less enamored by the crowds, noise, and busy-ness I thought I loved. What I really needed was a clean quiet place to work, a tree-lined park to run through, and some culture and beauty to stay inspired. And I didn’t need to move here to find it. Even my New York friends whose lives I had admired from afar were all struggling in their own ways to become who they wanted to be, and suddenly, my own career path didn’t feel so odd. In fact, while riding the bus back home, I felt wiser — glad to have come and glad to go — because what I thought I liked turned out to be different from what I actually did, and by shedding these illusions, I had become more of myself.

“Becoming who you are” is at the heart of the Quest’s character-based screenwriting and all storytelling for that matter, because that is our life’s trajectory. In every story, the Protagonist must deal with a series of problems and circumstances in order to achieve his destiny and his most honest self. This self-realizing journey is one the writer takes as well. While developing my script, I’m constantly searching and solving problems to see what works and what doesn’t until I’ve found a combination of characters, scenes, and moments that resonates most deeply for me. And like any character-building process, challenges continue even beyond the main stretch of the journey. For example, this week, my story’s plot points sparked some interesting discussions about my movie’s demographic. Not surprisingly, having to explain and clarify my approach gave me more conviction about what I was doing. With feedback from my fellow writers, I felt even more confident in following my instincts to write a story that would be strong and singular. So again I end this week in gratitude for this process, the people, and all the obstacles helping me grow into a better writer. Every week, I’m challenged and inspired.

The seeds of a Protagonist’s metamorphosis already lay planted within the character’s psyche from the beginning of a story. Something happens and the narrative unfolds and throughout the rest of the story, that change emerges both from without – the events of the plot – and within – the seeds of the character’s authentic being coming into full bloom.

We see this dynamic over and over again in movies.

It’s also an apt description of how a writer brings a story into existence. The seeds are already there. Our task: Water them with our imagination and tend to them until they grow to full maturity.

Tomorrow: Another Dispatch From The Quest.

About Paul: Director + Writer. Loves Spielberg, Truffaut, Abrams, Kurosawa, Attack the Block, cinematic stories beautifully told. @paulhwie.

Dispatch From The Quest: Paul Wie

September 26th, 2013 by

Over the course of the 24 weeks I am working with the writers in The Quest, each will write a weekly dispatch to share with the GITS community. There are several reasons for doing this, the main one educational: Hopefully you will learn something of value for your own understanding of the craft from the experiences of the Questers. I should also add they are a great group of people, so I expect you will enjoy getting to know them.

Today: Paul shares his thoughts about brainstorming which was both exhausting and energizing:

The goal of this week’s brainstorming exercise was to leave no stone unturned, to get to know our characters inside out, to let our instincts guide us into unexplored terrains. Ironically, for me, this brainstorming session became less a rambling forth of new ideas and more a refining process of honing in on the exact story I wanted to write. How do I portray my characters in the most honest and interesting way? How do make these people feel real and compelling to watch? After wrangling with these questions and others, I submitted my 18 pages of notes and called it a week. I went into our teleconference exhausted, but after a three hour meeting, I emerged energized and inspired. The notes from Scott and my fellow Questers were incredibly helpful. Everyone’s feedback enhanced and deepened my characters. And while discussing a love story in my script, Sandra enlightened me with a most essential reminder, “don’t forget to make it fun.” Of course, I must never forget one of the key reasons why we go to the movies: to experience the joy and excitement of a new relationship forming before our eyes. So armed with these refreshing insights, I end the week hopeful about my script and grateful for my fellow writers for pushing me to write my story as well as I can. Thank you all. I look forward to fourteen more weeks of this amazing journey.

Faithful readers of these Dispatches will have picked up a theme this week: How challenging a week’s worth of brainstorming was for the group. And yet in the end, my sense is that all of the Questers feel it was worth the time and energy.

My attitude toward brainstorming, whether one takes a completely random approach or uses a set of prompts to guide the process, even if what gets generated ends up translating into 5% of the final script, it’s still worth it. If just one idea turns out to be a significant narrative element, something you likely would not have hit on unless you brainstormed, that in and of itself makes the journey worthwhile.

In my experience of brainstorming, however, I discover tons of content which ends up in the script.

So again, make sure you give yourself enough time to live with and explore multiple narrative possibilities.

Tomorrow: Another Dispatch From The Quest.

About Paul: Director + Writer. Loves Spielberg, Truffaut, Abrams, Kurosawa, Attack the Block, cinematic stories beautifully told. @paulhwie.

Dispatch From The Quest: Paul Wie

September 21st, 2013 by

Over the course of the 24 weeks I am working with the writers in The Quest, each will write a weekly dispatch to share with the GITS community. There are several reasons for doing this, the main one educational: Hopefully you will learn something of value for your own understanding of the craft from the experiences of the Questers. I should also add they are a great group of people, so I expect you will enjoy getting to know them.

Today: Paul talks about how “diligence leads to clarity”:

This week we dove deep into the life of our protagonist. Taking all the interviews, notes, questionnaires, scenes, and monologues from our first two months, we distilled this information into an extensive bio and treatment of our main character. Having to fill in every gap in his life, having to define who he is and why he is in a detailed, compelling way was difficult work. But it was vital and inspiring work. Had I been writing this script on my own, I may have been tempted to rush into the page writing — the fun part — the part I’m itching to get to. But having explored my character in such a thorough manner, I think my screenplay will be more complex, more truthful, and more dramatically rich than it would’ve been had I jumped the gun. So thank you Quest for holding me back. Diligence leads to clarity, and I’m grateful for all this prep work. Because without fail, every week, I learn something new about my characters. Every week, I go deeper into my story.

I get it. The instinct to type those magical words FADE IN and leap into writing the story. You may see the Protagonist. You may know the other characters to a certain degree. Key scenes in the setup may have sprung to mind. Act One may lay out so nicely in your mind.

Then there’s Act Two…
The pages come more slowly, don’t they?

35. 38. 40. 41…
Where to next?
Uh…

You try this way. That.

Wait. What if I rethought this character. That subplot.

You go back. Revise.
Another thought. Another revision.

Now you’re back on P. 12 and…

What was I thinking? This isn’t working…

40 pages or so. Caught up in a morass of not knowing where to go.
And yet another story left to die on the vine…

All because you didn’t do the one thing most professional writers do: Break the story in prep.

That’s the negative narrative. Paul offers up the positive one: “Diligence leads to clarity.”

If you are diligent in working out your story in prep, your chances of actually finishing a draft go up exponentially.

I just put the Questers through a challenging week of brainstorming. In our teleconference, we considered the potentially good stuff they had surfaced, but also key questions about their stories.

Those questions will not go away. They have to be answered. It’s easy to say, “I’ll figure those out when I’m writing.”

Then Act Two comes along and… see above.

So yet again, another post dedicated to the importance of breaking your story. Can you do it without any prep work? Sure. Anything is possible. But if you want to develop an approach to the craft that maximizes your chances of generating the number of scripts you need to learn screenwriting and have the tools to be a working screenwriter, take on assignments and pound them out on time and with quality, remember Paul’s words about the value of prep-writing:

“Diligence leads to clarity.”

Next week: More Dispatches from The Quest.

About Paul: Director + Writer. Loves Spielberg, Truffaut, Abrams, Kurosawa, Attack the Block, cinematic stories beautifully told. @paulhwie.

Dispatch From The Quest: Paul Wie

September 12th, 2013 by

Over the course of the 24 weeks I am working with the writers in The Quest, each will write a weekly dispatch to share with the GITS community. There are several reasons for doing this, the main one educational: Hopefully you will learn something of value for your own understanding of the craft from the experiences of the Questers. I should also add they are a great group of people, so I expect you will enjoy getting to know them.

Today: Paul embarks on his own Protagonist’s journey:

I write this entry from Waltham, Massachusetts, a quaint suburb of Boston, which feels like a foreign country compared to the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles I left behind just days ago. I don’t know if this visit will turn out to be a short vacation or a longer stay, but I feel like my time in the East Coast, however brief, is the start of a new adventure in my life.

After beginning the Quest, I found myself in an odd situation for the first time since leaving college — I had no ties whatsover keeping me in Los Angeles. I had recently moved back home to Orange County. I had no significant other in the picture. My TV job was weeks away from completion. And I had just totaled my car in an accident, which left me miraculously unscathed. Before I could commit to a new car, a new job — basically another significant chunk of my life spent in Southern California — I felt compelled to try something new — to be somewhere outside of my usual comfort zone and to live out some of the stories in the script I was writing. So I booked a one-way flight to Boston. One of my best friends works here, and he had been telling me come visit for some time. He had an extra room in his condo, and he said I was welcome to come write and live if I ever needed to. In the past, I had always brushed off this offer due to my commitments in LA, but now I found myself in a perfect situation to take him up on the opportunity.

So here I am in this small town with no definitive plan other than to write a great script and make this experience worthwhile. If an awesome job calls, I may move back to LA or NY, but for now, my future is up in the air. That’s exciting and scary, and given our lectures this week on Time and Destiny, incredibly fitting.

As we learned, the Protagonist of the story hardly knows what life has in store for him — he lives out the events we writers have created, and through these unforeseen situations and relationships, the Protagonist develops and grows into the person he is destined to be. Like the hero of my story, I am unaware of what life has planned for me. But I believe if I spend my time well, if I make the most out of the circumstances God has set out before me, then I am on the right path towards a beautiful destiny I cannot yet foresee. Until then, I’ll be applying our screenwriting principles to my own life: by living fully in the present, by maximizing every moment I have, and by working hard toward my goals. Because time is too valuable to spend without purpose and meaning — on the page, on the screen, and especially, in life.

How perfect is that: Just as we move into the story-crafting process, each Quester beginning their own writing journey, Paul takes the journey party literally, moving cross-country.

Perhaps because I’m a military brat and have traveled so much, I have an affinity for the road. There is something special about how a new place can provide a fresh perspective.

Paul, I wish you well in the Bay State. And to the other Questers as well as everyone who is going to Go On Your Own Quest, any time you sit down to write, you are in effect leaving your Ordinary World and entering a New World, even if the shift is only from the kitchen to your study.

The Adventure begins!

Tomorrow: Another Dispatch From The Quest.

About Paul: Director + Writer. Loves Spielberg, Truffaut, Abrams, Kurosawa, Attack the Block, cinematic stories beautifully told. @paulhwie.

Dispatch From The Quest: Paul Wie

September 2nd, 2013 by

Over the course of the 24 weeks I am working with the writers in The Quest, each will write a weekly dispatch to share with the GITS community. There are several reasons for doing this, the main one educational: Hopefully you will learn something of value for your own understanding of the craft from the experiences of the Questers. I should also add they are a great group of people, so I expect you will enjoy getting to know them.

Today: Paul talks about aspiring to be an artist:

Every writer and every filmmaker should aspire to be an artist. Throughout the years, the idea of being an artist has been associated with pretension and obscurity, and filmmakers who dare call themselves artists have been stigmatized as enemies of entertainment and popular appeal. But why does it have to be this way? I don’t know how many interviews I’ve read where filmmakers modestly state, “I don’t want to call myself an artist…” But in order to make great movies, we have to be great artists. Because in essence, art is truth expressed through beauty. And artists are simply people who have a poetic command of their craft that they’re able to express something meaningful and truthful in a way that has beauty and power.

The Quest is grooming us writers to work in the arena of popular movies. But in no way does that diminish the importance of art in our work. By working in a medium where our potential to influence society is perhaps greater than any other art form, we have an even greater responsibility to create works of art that will give meaning and wisdom to the world. And in order to do so, we must work honestly to draw upon our own experiences to express our knowledge of life to the best of our abilities. And if we do this well and we do this with sincerity and artistry, we will have the ability to move others through our work.

So this week as we explored the topic of theme and came to define theme as the meaning we wish to impart on our story’s audience, I’ve narrowed my purpose of writing to a simple goal: to write something fun and meaningful that will move me and move others. If people reading my script (or watching this movie one day), come away with a wonderful emotional experience, I feel like I will have succeeded. Of course, this is a gargantuan task. A task I could easily fail at and fall short of. But that is what I aspire to achieve. And even as I’m writing a four-quadrant action-adventure, I’d like to write a four-quadrant action-adventure that is a deeply felt work of art. Because honestly, that is the only kind of movie I care about.

Some would call screenwriting a craft. Some would call it an art. Most professional screenwriters would likely refer to it simply as work. But no matter how you perceive it, the simple fact is there is always an aspect of creativity involved in translating a story in our head onto the page.

So why not aspire to do your best work? Why not aim to plumb your creativity and craft something special? If the story you’re working on is a genre piece or big dumb comedy (not disparaging either as these are some of my favorite movies), then strive to make them the best damn stories possible.

Whatever it takes to compel your ass onto a chair to pound out a good story, grab onto that and ride it as far as it can take you. Who knows? Maybe you can become an artist.

Tomorrow: Another Dispatch From The Quest.

About Paul: Director + Writer. Loves Spielberg, Truffaut, Abrams, Kurosawa, Attack the Block, cinematic stories beautifully told. @paulhwie.

Dispatch From The Quest: Paul Wie

August 30th, 2013 by

Over the course of the 24 weeks I am working with the writers in The Quest, each will write a weekly dispatch to share with the GITS community. There are several reasons for doing this, the main one educational: Hopefully you will learn something of value for your own understanding of the craft from the experiences of the Questers. I should also add they are a great group of people, so I expect you will enjoy getting to know them.

Today: Paul with the “Top Ten Things I Learned About Writing This Week”:

1. Good writing takes A LOT OF TIME to get right, so write a lot and allot enough time to write.
2. Rewrite until you can’t possibly rewrite anymore (aka until your deadline). Then rewrite again — after you’ve had some time away from your work.
3. Just like how a runner can get runner’s high, a writer can get writer’s high after a good day of writing. It’s one of the best feelings in the world. I’m sure if you can end each day with that feeling, you can sustain a writing habit for the rest of your life.
4. Earn your rewards. A nice dinner, a night at the movies, a night out with friends — these pleasures in life are exponentially more enjoyable after a good day’s work. If you skip the work and go straight for the reward, you’ll enjoy it less and feel kind of guilty about it.
5. Writing scenes is the key to experimenting with different elements of your story. Sometimes you never know if a plot point or a character will work until you write it out in Courier Final Draft Size 12 font.
6. “Taste is a result of a thousand distastes”. This is a quote from my favorite director, Francois Truffaut, and he speaks the truth here. I’ve had so many distastes this past week that they’ve only reaffirmed my taste for the movies I love.
7. Writing a bad scene takes as much work as writing a good scene. Turning a bad scene into a good scene takes even more work — and the help of divine powers.
8. A well-lived life gives a sense of reality and truth to the work you create — but for an aspiring writer, this can feel like a catch-22. It’s not easy to make a living, write, AND try to have meaningful life experiences at the same time. But somehow, it must be done.
9. Exercise daily. A nice run, a long walk, a soccer match with friends — anything to clear your head, get your blood flowing, and fill your lungs with fresh air will help you cope with the demands of writing.
10. Embrace the difficulties. Because writing is always difficult. I’ve rarely found this work to be easy. If you write poorly, at least you’ll know how NOT to write something. Then once in a while, you’ll find a piece of gold, and it’ll all be worth it.

Obviously the goal of The Quest is for the participants to craft a script that lands them representation and a deal. But there is this consideration as well: What they learn in our 24 weeks together:

* In Core, 48 lectures, dozens of insider tips and techniques covering eight essential subjects related to screenwriting.

* In Prep, a proven six stage approach to prep-writing.

* In Pages, a ten stage process to pound out a first draft.

Apart from all that, there are the weekly teleconferences, workshop feedback, and the unique insight each derives from his/her own immersion into character-based screenwriting.

When I look at Paul’s list, I see some great lessons about the craft. Who knows? Maybe one or more of these will become a bedrock principle Paul will use for the duration of his life as a writer.

As writers, we should always be learning. From time to time, it might be a good idea to stop and think about what we’ve been learning lately.

How about you? Can you come up with a list of things you’ve learned about the craft lately?

Tomorrow: Another Dispatch From The Quest.

About Paul: Director + Writer. Loves Spielberg, Truffaut, Abrams, Kurosawa, Attack the Block, cinematic stories beautifully told. @paulhwie.

Dispatch From The Quest: Paul Wie

August 23rd, 2013 by

Over the course of the 24 weeks I am working with the writers in The Quest, each will write a weekly dispatch to share with the GITS community. There are several reasons for doing this, the main one educational: Hopefully you will learn something of value for your own understanding of the craft from the experiences of the Questers. I should also add they are a great group of people, so I expect you will enjoy getting to know them.

Today: Paul has a “writing-character bonding experience”:

I’ve always wanted to improve my dialogue, and this week marked a big step in me doing so. First of all, the lectures inspired me. They taught me how to make dialogue more entertaining and meaningful, how to drive the story forward through speech. They set the right foundation for our exercises — writing monologues and scenes with subtext.

After working on backstories and profiles for so long, I enjoyed hearing my characters speak for the first time. Thoughts emerged I didn’t expect. They behaved in surprising ways. Little by little, I saw them come alive. The experience was like playing a tennis match after months of practicing strokes. I could see the prep pay off in the real game, and the work I’ve done allowed me to play more naturally. Though I’m far from finished, though I have much more to learn and work at, I feel like I’m off to a good start. I have a better idea of who my characters are, and I feel more in tune with them than ever before.

So thank you, Quest, for this writer-character bonding experience. I end the week inspired and excited to write. And right now, that’s the best thing I can ask for.

In talking with the Questers in our weekly teleconference, some of them expressed an affinity for writing dialogue, others… not so much. To the former, a tip of the cap with a reminder… don’t rely too much on dialogue as movies are primarily a visual medium. To the latter, how to engender one’s ability at writing dialogue?

The Quest lectures, tips and writing exercises provide several angles, but perhaps the single biggest thing is precisely what Paul described: a writer-character bonding experience.

In my view, as writers we should do everything we can to enable our characters to come to life. Whether it’s questionnaires, biographies, interviews, monologues, or perhaps the most valuable, what I call ‘character sit-downs,’ anything we can do to engage our characters and immerse ourselves in their lives can help us eventually hear their voice.

In our teleconference, we talked about inverting the old saying “seeing is believing” to “believing is seeing.” That is if we believe our characters exist in their own unique story universe, then we can see — and hear — them.

And that is the foundation to everything else, all of those techniques we use to bond with them because they do exist.

If we can experience that, their voice will follow.

Then we can shape what they have to say into dialogue.

Tomorrow: Another Dispatch From The Quest.

About Paul: Director + Writer. Loves Spielberg, Truffaut, Abrams, Kurosawa, Attack the Block, cinematic stories beautifully told. @paulhwie.