Writing Prompt #116

who goes there...

I like the idea of images that can be seen in a number of ways. Is this a playful image? Teasing? Or is it of a more somber nature? Menacing?

For this week’s writing prompt challenge, I offer you this. What do you see?

I look forward to seeing your creations!

Happy Writing!

Writing Prompt #115

In preparation for our move, I’ve gone through nearly every piece of paper in my office, multiple versions of my scripts included. A thousand pages of repetitive screenplays with minor changes between them were just sitting on the shelf, taking up space, for no reason.

There’s an odd thing that happens to writers who reread their work years later…they often find themselves surprised that they wrote it.

I know my stories. I was there when they were conceived ūüėČ but sometimes you find yourself in awe of a golden nugget or two buried within them.

Rereading multiple versions of my screenplays all in one go reaffirmed my desire to continue writing them. All of my stories are in need of a rewrite. For a while now, I thought some of them were only in need of a polish, but on reflection, there are some major things I want to change. To every. single. one. An unfortunate side effect to gaining more experience and insight and developing my writing skills further. Oh gawd. I may be George Lucas.

So it was when I saw this image, which reminds me of one of my stories, that I found myself drawn to it, and wanting to explore it. So I wrote something (yay!) and hope you will join me in this week’s Writing Prompt Challenge.

If you find yourself inspired, don’t forget to share!

Happy Writing!

Writing Prompt #114

Writing Prompt Wednesdays are back!

Yes, I know.

Given my Quote of the Week yesterday, this prompt seemed a bit apropos, if not oddly humorous. Oh, is it just me?!

If you’re new here, the prompts are meant to inspire and engage. If you find inspiration, please be sure to share or tag so we can all enjoy!

Happy Writing!

Staying Positive in Strange Times

woman sitting while showing heart sign hands

Photo by Hassan OUAJBIR on Pexels.com

Hi everyone! ¬†It’s been a while.

I hope you and your loved ones are well.

I have started a number of posts over the last month and have deleted each one. ¬†I haven’t had anything to say because sharing quotes about following your dreams, or tips about writing, or what I’ve watched all seem rather trite given the circumstances.

I give my fellow bloggers props for being able to continue in light of everything.

But¬†then I thought, at some point, we’ll get past this pandemic and some sort of new normal will begin, and so I should probably come out of the shadows. ¬†Staying positive during these strange times has been a running theme from a lot of what I’ve seen, and the creative, funny, inspiring sides of humanity have prevailed, mostly – there is always, of course, a flip side – but I like to be positive too.

Sometimes that’s difficult.

I have long struggled with my writing. ¬†Blogging too, obviously. ¬†While my writing should be an escape from the real world, and it’s what I want to do in life, there are too many times when my writing has taken a back seat. ¬†I have discovered that I often feel guilty for wanting to write when there are other pressing matters, like planning a move out of state (or abroad) or starting an Etsy shop to alleviate some our burden and aid in the move.

For the last few months I couldn’t turn my mind to writing as it felt like a reward I didn’t deserve.

Strange, right?!

I willingly quit my job late last year. ¬†I was deeply dissatisfied, and because our move was to take place only a couple of months later, I didn’t seek out another one. ¬†My plan was to organize the house, sell or donate what I could, and get us ready for the next move. ¬†I think not having a job, made me feel like I needed to overcompensate in the other areas of my life so that I didn’t seem like I was taking advantage of the situation. ¬†For the first couple of months, I didn’t even take a “day off”.

Then the virus happened.

Not much happened to me, personally, to change my day to day but because I was already in this particular mindset, the extra time so many people were given started a trend that I found sort of infuriating.  You may have seen them, they said things like this:

If you don’t find the time to write now, you’re not really a writer.

Ugh.

People are already struggling enough with a myriad of issues, and then to throw this into the mix, to make one feel defeated…argh. ¬†Thankfully, wiser people countered with responses like the “boat” analogy.

We are sailing in the same storm, but not in the same boat.

*If you’d like to read the whole thing, let me know and I’ll post it in the comments.

Eventually, with the move decided upon, the Etsy shop open, and enough organizational projects completed, I finally felt like I had “permission” to write.

Permission to create…permission to follow my dream…sigh. ¬†And I have. ¬†Not everyday, but more than I have in months.

And it’s not like I wasn’t thinking about writing all this time. ¬†I’ve been reading, watching the MasterClass series, I’ve been keeping my journal, and I’ve had story ideas. ¬†So while the physical act of writing may not be happening consistently, the other aspects of a writer’s life are, and with that understanding, I’ve stopped being so hard on myself.

Do you know how hard it is to ignore that nagging “you should be writing” feeling?! ¬†You can only do it for so long before it drives you mad.

Writers are so hard on themselves.

When I came to this realization, I figured there may be others who feel the same way, and maybe need to hear this too.

Hi! ¬†You’re not alone!

So whether you’re writing everyday, or just thinking about it, cut yourself a little slack. ¬†As writers, we’ve already chosen a lonely, difficult path, and we have to remember to be kind to ourselves. There are plenty of other people, always at the ready, to knock us down. ¬†Ourselves included. ¬†Compound this with a global pandemic, and the need for some positivity, something I enjoy, is needed more than ever!

So here’s one of my Quote Mondays from the past.

Persevere1

If you need support, in any way, please let me know and let’s stick together!

xx, Rach

 

 

The 2019 ‚ÄúOne Movie A Week‚ÄĚ Challenge Completed

MovieReelI did it! ¬†I accomplished my goal of one new movie a week! ¬†I actually slightly exceeded it with 53 movies, the last just narrowly sneaking in on New Year’s Eve.

I’m sticking with the “ABC” grading scale and will give just a simple overview as many of my posts recently have been rather long and involved. ¬†Looking back on all I’ve watched this year, it’s rather sad to find how few of them were stellar endeavors.

31. What Happened to Monday: An interesting premise of septuplets born when overpopulation has mandated a one child per regulation.  Noomi Rapace plays all the siblings who must discover what happened when one goes missing.  My rating: B-

32. Ralph Breaks the Internet: When Vanellope’s vintage game is broken, she and Ralph must find the part to keep her racing. ¬†A cute follow-up to the original, with some clever references to keep all ages entertained; I just didn’t think it had as much heart as the first. ¬†My rating: B

33. Crazy Rich Asians: The clich√©d story of a woman marrying a wealthy man and concerns about the family not accepting her is exactly that. ¬†While everyone was thrilled with the representation, that shouldn’t overshadow the lack of a well rounded story. ¬†It’s also a bit too long, and feels it. ¬†My rating: C

34. Aquaman: What can be said about the origin story of one of the least liked DC characters nobody asked for? ¬†The movie is too long, too convoluted, and an assault of CGI “magic”. ¬†The only reason anyone even bothered is Jason Momoa. ¬†My rating: D

35. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: Every once in a while you just need a sweet movie without a lot of substance, which is surprising given its setting.  Set after the German occupation of Guernsey, a Channel Island during WWII, a young writer befriends villagers who started a book club and of course, finds love.  My rating: B

36. Bad Times at the El Royale: I didn’t know what to expect, but it certainly wasn’t what I got. ¬†Desperate to follow in Tarantino’s footsteps, this film about strangers converging at a strange motel that straddles state lines is a bit of mess that doesn’t tie up all its loose ends. ¬†My rating: C-

37. Bohemian Rhapsody: There is no dismissing Rami Malek’s performance as the charismatic lead of the band Queen, but it felt like the filmmakers played it safe. ¬†Not wanting to, possibly, turn people off from any negativity associated with Freddie’s life, they jump cut around instead, showcasing the music, without a lot of substance. ¬†My rating: B

38. Fighting with My Family: I grew up watching the WWF, now WWE, with my grandfather. ¬†I still tune in every now and then, and Paige, for whom the film is based on, is among one of my “newer” favorites. ¬†As the youngest wrestler to be signed, it was touching to see how it all began. ¬†My rating: B

39. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum: Not my favorite in the franchise, but still a pretty entertaining shoot ’em up movie with a few new twists to keep it interesting. ¬†Since the films continue in sequence, it’s hard not to appreciate Wick’s skill as the formidable hit man on the run. ¬†My rating: B-

40. Tall Girl: I, myself, am a tall girl. ¬†I’m 6′ and have been since I was 16 years old. ¬†I’ve heard all the same jokes, and had to deal with feeling like the jolly Green Giant among pretty much everyone I know while wearing men’s jeans because they had an inseam measurement. ¬†While I appreciate the message of accepting who you are, because you really can’t do anything about your height, the movie is just…blah. ¬†My rating: C-

41. The Favourite: Courts are notorious for their backstabbing and conniving, but I was hoping for more from this film than just that.  Women have a reputation where other women are concerned, and in a time when we need to be more supportive, on the whole, this film about taking advantage of an already fragile person, was uncomfortable to watch at times.  Olivia Colman is an amazing actress, and fully deserving of the accolades.  My rating: B

42. Spider-Man: Far From Home: First off, I want to put Tom Holland in my pocket.  In the wake of Avengers: Endgame, poor Peter is struggling to find his place and just wants to spend some time with his friends, but where superheroes travel, chaos is soon to follow.  An entertaining follow-up in the MCU and development for a beloved character as he comes into his own.  My rating: B+

43. Mary Queen of Scots: ¬†If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you know I’m fascinated with Queen Elizabeth I. ¬†This film takes a look at the relationship between the queen and one of her biggest rivals, Queen Mary of Scotland, played by two wonderful actresses, Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie. ¬†I’ll watch anything where the Queen is concerned, in spite of uneven storytelling. ¬†My rating: B-

44. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part: Another sequel that lacked the heart of the first. ¬†The Lego citizens face a new threat and must find a way of coexisting with their “enemy”. ¬†While still a cute movie with a sweet message, it was fun to watch, if not sort of forgettable. ¬†My rating: B

45. Glass: Having not seen the original in this strange trilogy, Unbreakable, I don’t have all the information to grade this film as part of a whole. ¬†I found some aspects entertaining, a film with a variation on the comic book figure, and I appreciate some of the risks taken, but overall there felt like there was something missing. ¬†My rating: B-

46. Fallen: I knew this was going to be a bad movie, and it was. ¬†I’ve always enjoyed the tale of the star crossed lovers, but this story, based on a YA series of novels was unmoving, the actors were dull, and just when it started to move in a slightly interesting direction, it was over. ¬†My rating: D

47. Shazam: I was unfamiliar with this superhero character prior to the film. ¬†My only reference was from the TV show Archer on a few occasions. The story of a young boy who gains powers which transform him into a fully grown, muscle bound man was more interesting than I would have guessed. ¬†There’s also a sweet message about family. ¬†My rating: B

48. It Chapter 2: The story of the child eating clown continues as the Losers, now grown up, must return to the beginning to finish what they started as a new cycle begins.  Casting did a great job with the grown versions of the children, but this movie failed to recapture the fun of the first one.  My rating: B-

49. Dumplin’: ¬†I love me a drag queen, and in the preview for this movie, a few help to inspire a teen girl overcome body image issues and compete in a beauty contest run by her once beauty queen mother. ¬†My rating: B+

50. Let it Snow: This teen holiday film about a group of friends finding love was a story that didn’t really do anything different and was actually fairly dull and forgettable. ¬†My rating: D

51. Knight Before Christmas: I followed one bad movie with another. ¬†A knight is sent forward in time on a quest and finds love with a modern day woman who’s been romance deprived. ¬†Meh. ¬†My rating: D

52. Star Wars Episode IX: Rise of the Skywalker: Oh, where to begin…if you’re not a fan, you’ve probably still seen some of the reviews, or heard the hubbub over how fans are disappointed. ¬†This fan included. ¬†The final episode in the latest trilogy initially seemed better than reviewed but as I continued to think on it, I realized how much was missing among so many other things. ¬†My rating: C

53. Love and Friendship: A Jane Austen story I wasn’t familiar with, Lady Susan – surprising, I know. ¬†Upon the viewing, I wish I did know more because the way it was filmed was a bit confusing. ¬†Lady Susan is conniving and manipulating. ¬†It appears as if she’s out for herself, which she is, but she also is looking out for her daughter, in a strange way. ¬†I’ll give it another watch after a read and see if it improves. ¬†My rating: B-

If you’d like to see what else I watched this year, here are parts One and Two of the series. ¬†Do you agree with my ratings? ¬†Would you like to offer any recommendations as I endeavor into the new year?

Writing Prompt #112

I came across this prompt while cleaning up my email. ¬†Somewhere along the way, I emailed myself this idea, and that’s where it ended.

So I share it today in the hopes it inspires us.

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Who wants to take on the challenge?  I look forward to reading your creations!

I also share writing prompts on Instagram, so if you’re looking for more inspiration, take a gander. ¬†Happy Writing!

AFF’s Screenwriters Conference: Days 3 & 4

AFF neon logo

‚ąľ Saturday: Day Three ‚ąľ

7:45am: Another early morning. ¬†More caffeine needed. ¬†There’s a coffee shop on the ground floor of my hotel that I’m thankful for, and it’s fairly popular due to its proximity to the conference. ¬†They have my favorite flavor, lavender, for their coffee and the most delicious pastries. ¬†It gets me through the bulk of the day.

9:00am – 10:15am: One of the panels I’m most looking forward to, Writing Sci-Fi with Gary Whitta and Emily Carmichael. ¬†They both offer some useful tips and let us all know that it’s okay to not write 8 hours a day. ¬†No one writes like that, and we shouldn’t feel like this is a goal we have to achieve. ¬†I learned about the Pomodoro Technique (which I will look into a bit more) which suggests writing in 25 minute spurts.

Tips: 1) Keep a Dot Journal to track writing progress. ¬†Check on it regularly. ¬†(I haven’t done this yet because I’m still learning how to create this type of journal.) ¬†2) Maintain consistency in your world. ¬†If a character has a power, be sure to use it. ¬†(This is something we, writers, sometimes forget.) ¬†3) Keep the rules of the world simple.

10:45am – 12:00pm: Overcoming Scene Challenges with Meg LeFauve, Carly Wray, and Dave Kajganich. ¬†This proved to be one of the best panels I attended. ¬†The most important thing I learned was that if there’s a problem in Act 3, it’s most likely because of something in Act 1. ¬†“You haven’t earned it” was repeated by the panelists, and this was a big note for me. ¬†As many of you are aware, from my many references to my troublesome third act of one of my screenplays, I either have a problem earlier on, or I haven’t followed through with something to earn the third act.

I happened to have an opportunity the following morning to speak with Dave Kajganich while waiting for coffee. ¬†I thanked him for his advice, and then he gave me some more. ¬†He asked me what I was struggling with and offered me some alternative ways of thinking about it. ¬†Does it have to have a happy ending? ¬†I told him I like happily ever afters, but it got me thinking. ¬†Maybe it doesn’t? ¬†Does it have to take place in modern times? ¬†No, it doesn’t, and I don’t know why I’ve been trying to force it. ¬†He was appreciative of me reaching out, he wasn’t sure if anything he said during the panel was useful.

12:15pm – 2:15pm: The Awards Luncheon was not being held close by. ¬†It was a number of blocks away and not paying attention to the time, I thought it started at 12:30pm, and add on a big parade for D√≠a de Muertos, I was power walking to make sure I arrived on time. ¬†There was no shuttle, and the AFF staff I spoke with were very helpful, but afraid that if I didn’t arrive before it started, I may not be able to get in at all. ¬†This was an additional upgrade to my conference badge, so I was not missing out.

There were some amazing speeches, and it was an insight as to what was winning on the festival circuit.  It ran way over for time, so I was unable to make my next panel, so I grabbed another coffee and got in line for the Lawrence Kasdan retrospective.  Even an hour and a half before the panel I was still about 15 people from the beginning of the line.

4:45pm Р6:00pm: A look back at the life of Screenwriter, Lawrence Kasdan.  He wrote The Big Chill, co-wrote Empire Strikes Back, wrote Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Bodyguard, French Kiss, As Good as it Gets, and so many more.  How could I not attend?!

7:30pm Р9:30pm: Pitch Finale.  Another writer from my FB group, Jasmine and I planned to meet up to attend the finale together.  All the winners of the pitch sessions gathered to pitch to the crowd and then winners were chosen from those.  It was so much fun and so inspiring.  There was a great deal of support and encouragement for the people pitching.

My shoulder ached from carrying around my computer bag all day, so after Deena and I grabbed a bite to eat, we returned to my hotel to minimize my carrying capacity so we could head to the last mixer of the weekend.

Upon exiting my room, we were dumbfounded to find a most likely drunken naked man in the hallway. ¬†We never did find out if he had locked himself out, or was kicked out, but either way, when the young woman, who was the manager on duty arrived, another conference attendee, Deena, and I kept her company until the police arrived. ¬†We weren’t going to leave her alone with a delusional nude. ¬†That made for a good story when asked what we would remember most from the conference.

11:00pm: Heart of Film Cocktail Party.  I saw some familiar faces, which was nice, and made friends with Margaret.  One of the winners from my pitch session.

It had been such a long day, but so rewarding.

~ Sunday: Day Four ~

There was a Hair of the Dog Brunch at 10:00am but my check out was at noon and I was going to be in a panel, so I skipped it, and slept in a bit.  The sleep and food deprivation had finally caught up with me.  I checked my bag, grabbed a coffee (which is where I met Dave and got that great advice), met up with Jessica and Deena for a quick hello and pastry breakfast, and then Jessica and I made our way to one of our more anticipated panels.

11:30am – 12:45pm: The Quagmire of Female Character by Lindsay Doran. ¬†When I was living in LA, I attended another presentation by Lindsay about the Psychology of Storytelling. ¬†She’s an executive and producer and her insight is unlike any other. ¬†She’s so engaging that I didn’t even take any notes, which, of course, I now regret. ¬†If you’re familiar with what’s going on in Hollywood, and the rest of the world, you’ll have an understanding of the balancing act that is currently happening with how to handle female characters. ¬†This panel enlightened us all.

Tip: If you have the opportunity to hear Lindsay Doran speak, do it.  

1:15pm – 2:30pm: Writing for Animation with Brad Graeber, Alvaro Rodriguez, and Willis Bulliner who created the animated Netflix series, Seis Manos. ¬†Jessica didn’t have a panel planned, so she attended with me. ¬†It wasn’t what I was expecting, it was more about how they got their show off the ground, but it was still interesting.

3:00pm – 4:15pm: Life as a Screenwriter with Shane Black and Scott Rosenberg was, I think, the last panel of the day. ¬†It was the last one I attended anyway. ¬†It was the other panel I was most looking forward to, and it did not disappoint. ¬†These two screenwriters have been in the business for many years, and now, a bit older, have a different insight into the industry. ¬†I thought I took some notes, but I can’t seem to find them. ¬†Wah-wah.

4:15pm – 5:15pm: I have to say my farewells and get to the airport. ¬†It was during my good-byes that I made a new connection with someone who is doing something I’ve been thinking about. ¬†Traveling the world. ¬†And getting paid for it.

I’m sad about leaving. ¬†The entire weekend has been enlightening and I’ve had a wonderful time, even more than I thought I would. ¬†I’ve made friends, and writer friends at that. ¬†I gained a bit more insight about myself and what I want to do. ¬†The tips and lessons learned have opened my eyes to my writing, which was the point of the trip.

Overall, for my first conference, I’m not sure I could have chosen any better. ¬†If you have an opportunity to attend any writer’s conference, I definitely encourage it. ¬†It’s an experience unlike any other.

If you attended AFF, I’d love to connect and swap stories. ¬†If you’re planning on attending a conference and need some tips, I’m happy to help.

Happy Writing!

AFF’s Screenwriters Conference: Days 1 & 2

AFF neon logo

‚ąľ Thursday: Day One ‚ąľ

3:30am: Slept maybe four hours and endured a rather bumpy flight which turned me a pale shade of green. By the time I made it into town from the airport, checked in to the hotel, and then checked in at the AFF registration, I was too late to attend the 11:30am Introduction/Welcome panel.  I signed up for the Roundtable I wanted to attend about an hour from then, but poor signage led me to the wrong room, so I missed out.

1:00pm Р2:15pm: I ended up in the Writer-Manager Relationship panel with Henry Jones and Ryan Cunningham.  Not what I was planning to attend, but learned that just as with any other relationship, finding someone who gets you is vital.

2:45pm – 4:00pm: I made my way to the Pitch Prep panel with Pamela Ribon for some advice on how to pitch before my go at it the following morning. ¬†I was not at all prepared to pitch my idea, and at this point, didn’t even know what story I was going to pitch. ¬†So much for being prepared. ¬†We, writers, usually work best under pressure any way. ¬†It was here I met Deena, who, I would later discover would become a fast friend, so that we could practice our pitch with someone.

Tip: If you have an opportunity to meet Pamela Ribon, take it.  She was engaging and funny and helped put the experience into perspective Рpitching at AFF is not like pitching in any other situation.

5:00pm – 7:00pm: Opening Night Reception. ¬†At this point, in my “normal” world, I would want a nap, but I was running on a high of the energy that seemed to infuse the entire area. ¬†I was meeting people and learning things and I didn’t want to miss a moment. ¬†I grabbed a drink and walked around the bar, but everybody already seemed to know people. ¬†As I made my way to the back, I saw a solitary figure, and my first festival-made friend, Jessica.

We hit it off right away and she became one of my conference partners for the remainder of the weekend. ¬†After the reception ended, we decided to get food. ¬†I didn’t remember eating, so it sounded like a good idea.

Torrential downpour ensued and I was soaked through in minutes.

I purposefully ensured my room was close to all the action, and at that time, was thankful for my foresight.  There was a WGA Welcome Party at 11:00pm, but after the wet, the food, a hot shower, and writing and memorizing my pitch, I was done. 

~ Friday: Day Two ~

7:30am: Rise and shine! ¬†Must. Have. Caffeine prior to pitch. ¬†Kept running my pitch in my head…over and over and over…I decided to pitch my pilot, The Demeter. ¬†Gotta say, pretty happy with the way it came out.

9:00am Р10:15am: Pitch session with Kelly Jo Brick and Cam Cannon.  Oof.  What a learning experience.  I was calm and collected, until the moment I was in front of the group.  The nerves kicked in and I stumbled about halfway through losing my train of thought.  I have this strange sort of memory thing.  If I write it down, I can see where it was on the page, and after a moment of collecting myself, I could see where I was in the pitch and finished.  So embarrassing, especially in light of all the positive feedback I received.  The judges were so reassuring that I had a strong, interesting pitch, and throughout the day, many people approached me and offered me support, even more so when they learned it was my first pitch ever.

It was here I met Margaret, who, again, would later become a fast friend. ¬†She wasn’t even sure she would have an opportunity to pitch, and she ended up winning one of the two spots from our group.

10:45am – 12:00pm: The Life’s a Pitch panel with Tess Morris, Gary Whitta, and Ashley Miller. ¬†You would think at this point I would have had my fill of pitching, but I wanted to know what it was like in the “real world”.

Tips: 1) Think of pitching like a conversation.  2) Everybody wants to hear a good story, so boil it down so they can retell it.  3) The more you pitch, the more the story may evolve.

1:00pm – 2:30pm: In-Person Meeting with agent Daniela Gonzalez set up by Roadmap Writers. ¬†A fellow member of a writer’s group on FB made the introductions and I had the opportunity to sit with an agent and a group of amazing fellow writers, all women, and ask questions and gain real world knowledge of the industry. ¬†When I arrived for the sit down, I was told it was canceled, so I left. ¬†I quickly discovered it hadn’t been, and the group was kind enough to let me join in, a bit late.

3:15pm – 4:30pm: A no nonsense panel entitled “Practical Tips” with Phil Hay, Stephany Folsom, and Nicole Perlman. ¬†They reiterated quite a bit I already knew, but hearing it from professionals made it that much more impactful.

Tips: 1) Don’t compare your process to others. ¬†Understand what your process is and develop it. ¬†2) Be kind to yourself and cut yourself a break. ¬†(We are hard on ourselves.) ¬†3) Make something – beyond the script – a play, a short, or a script reading. ¬†4) Discover what it is that will give you validation. ¬†5) As a new writer, the scale of your early projects shouldn’t be a risk or a budget concern.

4:45pm – 6:45pm: BBQ mixer. ¬†Deena, Jessica and I had been in contact throughout the day and we decided to meet up for the shuttle to the mixer. ¬†Behind us in line was a lone woman, Kyra. ¬†I invited her into our group, and the four of us set off. ¬†Now, some of you may know that I’m vegetarian, so you may be wondering what I was doing there. ¬†It was a mixer. ¬†An opportunity. ¬†And I was taking advantage of whatever I could. ¬†We met with other writers and had a great time amidst interesting conversations, but as the sun set, the temperature dropped, and none of us were prepared, so we headed back.

7:00pm – 10:00pm: The Stage 32 mixer on a rooftop with no heaters. ¬†Brr. ¬†As a member of Stage 32, I was looking forward to meeting some other members, and I’m glad I made the effort, even though after a short time I could no longer feel my toes. ¬†I met the founder of Stage 32, RB and a handful of amazing writers. ¬†Unfortunately, the cold drove Jessica and I out. ¬†We had lost Deena earlier to pitch prep, and Kyra made friends and stayed behind.

There was a Final Draft Happy Hour at 11:00pm, but at that point, I didn’t think I was going to make it. ¬†And I didn’t. ¬†Instead I met up with Deena to help her with her pitch, and met more writers while hanging about the famous Driskill Hotel.

Again, I should’ve been exhausted, I’d barely eaten and was running on the fumes of caffeine, but I was having so much fun. ¬†I talked with my sister and came to the realization that I wanted to follow my dreams. ¬†I had wasted months not writing, being surrounded by negativity, and being emotionally drained after each day. ¬†I was done. ¬†Officially. ¬†And it was one of those enlightening moments – I was going to move forward.

To be continued…

The “One Movie A Week” Challenge Part 2

MovieReelBack in March I shared that I had started watching one new movie a week in order to catch up on all that I had missed.  I’m a bad screenwriter.  I wasn’t watching much.

I’m happy to report that I’ve maintained my momentum.

Now that we’re over half way through the year, I thought I’d share part two of my viewings.  This time I’m trying a strict A, B, C rating.  There may be the occasional + or – , but I’m doing my best to limit those half measures.

10. The Breaker Uppers – If you’ve seen Taika Waititi’s charming 2014 film, What We Do in the Shadows, you’ll recognize one of the leads of this film, Jackie van Beek.  Waititi is also a producer of this film about two women who provide a service of helping people break up in elaborate ways, so I had high hopes.  It failed to deliver.  While the two leads obviously have chemistry, the story fell flat.  My rating: C

11. Train to Busan – I had come across a number of positive comments about this zombie thriller, and it lived up to the hype. The story follows a father and his young daughter who have grown apart because of divorce on a train ride to return her to her mother.  Over the course of a tense and dire train ride, human nature is put to the test, and we learn what’s most important.  My rating: A

12. Outlaw King – Despite its historical inaccuracies, Braveheart is still one of my favorite films.  So I was intrigued when this movie showed up on Netflix about the man who would be King of Scotland, Robert the Bruce.  In Braveheart, his father made the alliance with England to secure his throne.  While obviously not made on the same grand scale, this film was still enjoyable and insightful into the life of a man we saw very little of previously.  My only major complaint, why cast an American actor to sell a movie people will most likely watch anyway?  My rating: B

13. A Quiet Place – This was a film that was being referenced quite a bit in screenwriting circles when it was released so it had to be put on my list so I could see what all the hubbub was about.  It opens up without any preamble and you quickly learn how vital silence is in this post-apocalyptic world where humans are under threat from vicious aliens who can hear the slightest sound.  As we watch this family struggle to survive, we have to wonder how long can people live like this?  Try moving around your house without making a sound and see how long you would survive.  My rating: A

14. Kick Ass – This had been on my list for some time, but with streaming services, things come and go, and some times you just miss out.  I miss Blockbuster.  When it popped back up I took the opportunity to watch it.  It’s entertaining, it has heart, and has plenty of action and violence.  Watching a young superhero wannabe come into his own, and getting his ass handed to him repeatedly, is kind of inspiring.  Also watching a small Chlo√ę Grace Moretz be a total bad ass is just fun.  My rating: B

15 & 16. Avengers: Endgame – This will get a proper post, especially now that it’s on DVD.  The Sis missed the first viewing, so saw it twice in a week.  There’s a lot to take in so watching it twice was like watching it again for the first time. ūüėČ  My rating: A

17. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – I didn’t really plan on watching this, but when my little fur baby had some weird hive reaction all over her face in the middle of the night, I had to stay up and I figured the mindless action would do the trick.  The first Jurassic Park is still amazing but the new franchise is just disappointing.  No matter how endearing Chris Pratt is.  The opening sequence of the island being destroyed by a volcano and the animals fleeing for their lives, no matter the CGI element, was unsettling, and set me off right away.  There are some interesting moments, but overall the highlight of the film is Jeff Goldblum.  My rating: C

18. The Darkest Minds – There are a slew of dystopian teen films out there, and every once in a while, there’a a good one.  Maybe the book is better.  A genetic mutation has occurred in teens that gives them powers.  Now considered a threat, they are sent to camps where the most dangerous are eliminated, or used as weapons.  This is another film that had a few good moments, but overall has nothing to distinguish itself against so many others of its kind.  My rating: C

19. The Losers – One guess why I watched this movie.  Chris Evans and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.  I enjoy elite forces/spy films, and the trailer for this movie showcased its sense of humor, but again, this story had nothing to differentiate it from the horde of other similarly themed films – agents thought dead return for retribution.  My rating: C

20. Their Finest – A period piece about screenwriting?  Sure.  I’m in.  A movie about women making headway in a male dominated industry.  Yeah, I’m in.  Starring Gemma Arterton, who carries the film about creating a propaganda movie during WWII about the evacuation at Dunkirk, is charming and engaging.  The film, overall, is well done and a peek into an aspect of filmmaking that encourages nationalism.  My rating: B

21. Isle of Dogs – The first Wes Anderson I ever saw initially left me confused.  I didn’t quite get his humor but now he’s one of my favorites and I look forward to seeing his name on a project.  He has such style, and a strange sense of humor, and while this story about dogs being quarantined is not my favorite of his, it does highlight our relationship with our furry friends and the loyalty born from it.  Like many of his films, it definitely requires a second viewing, and I’m sure it will grow on me.  My (current) rating: B

22. Always Be My Maybe – A film about childhood friends finding love years later is not a new concept, and yet this romantic comedy hit the mark.  So many of my friends were talking about it, so I gave it a watch.  Surprisingly, it was just the right amount of cute and funny with two likable leads.  Then there’s Keanu Reeves who steals the show.  My rating: B+

23. Z for Zachariah – I like apocalyptic movies.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe because people are awful and it’s interesting to watch what they’re willing to do and wonder what I might do in the same situation.  This film has an Adam and Eve aspect to it as two people are trying to survive in the only habitable place left, but even in the end times, a rivalry for the woman’s hand was the most pressing matter.  My rating: C

24. Swiss Army Man – What a strange and unique film about the power of imagination and learning to accept yourself.  Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe make a good team, even when the humor was a little off-color.  The ending is open to interpretation and was the only part of the film that disappointed me.  As we’ve all learned (looking at you, GoT), endings are difficult.  My rating: B

25. IO: Last on Earth – Another apocalyptic movie in a sea of similarly themed tales that failed to deliver.  The world has become toxic and people have fled to the stars, save one young woman, a scientist who is carrying on her father’s work to save the world.  MCU’s Anthony Mackie is one of the only remaining humans left who, no matter how charming, has absolutely no chemistry with the last woman on Earth.  My rating: C

26. Rim of the World – Maybe because I never went to summer camp, I’m drawn to movies about the possibilities that camp and the nostalgia of youth they offer.  Of course, I’m not sure how I would have responded to aliens attacking when I was 13.  This movie was inspired by a number of its sci-fi predecessors and is clearly meant for a younger audience.  While not great, by any means, it was kind of fun, and at least gives the viewer hope that the younger generation will step up.  My rating: C

27. The Spy Who Dumped Me – Well this one took me by surprise.  A buddy/spy comedy starring two women that handle sh*t on their own?  I’m a fan of Kate McKinnon, she steals the show at every turn, and this movie about two best friends who wind up in an international conspiracy is no different.  There are some outlandish (pun intended for Sam Heughan?) moments, but the chemistry between the two leads keeps the movie afloat.   My rating: B

28. Lady Bird – I don’t know what it feels like to be so fearless and opinionated.  I grew up trying to keep the peace and always putting on a happy face.  Maybe this is why I, personally, had a hard time relating to Saoirse Ronan’s Lady Bird.  She’s an angsty teenager trying to figure herself out while dealing with her strong willed mother.  My rating: B

29. BlacKkKlansman – By far the best movie I’ve seen all year.  The premise was, of course, interesting – the first black officer in Colorado Springs in the 70s infiltrates the KKK by using a white counterpart – and completely deserving of its accolades.  It’s an important movie, especially in these turbulent times, and the ending sequence is disturbing and thought provoking.  And it’s true.  My rating: A+

30. Early Man – As you may know, from reading a previous review, I’m a fan of Aardman Animations’ Wallace and Gromit.  The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is a favorite.  Early Man stars my future husband, Tom Hiddleston, so it was always going to be on my watch list.  While the animation is still superb, the comedy just didn’t do it for me this time around, and especially since the entire movie basically revolves around a game of soccer/football, I sort of tuned out.  Maybe I’ll give it another watch at some point and see if it grows on me.  My rating: B

I started this post a couple of weeks ago, so there are more movies to add…for the next one. :). Any suggestions on what I should watch next?