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 Chloë 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. 😉  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?

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Quote Monday

InspireLast week I wrote an entire blog post after learning that my pilot had not advanced in the second contest I had entered.  I was sad and the overall tone was not the happy-stay positive-reach for your dreams-vibe I try to maintain here.

So I didn’t post it.

Rejection, in any form, is tough to take.  People say all sorts of things to put a positive spin on the situation, but when it comes down to it, rejection plain ol’ sucks.

I was already struggling with the third act of one screenplay, and I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself to get everything in order for the conference in October, so this news struck a blow.  I was down for the rest of the day.  But that’s part of the process.  You take the hit, get back up, and show ’em.

It’s hard when so much is in our hands as writers, and so much that isn’t.

It’s not like I didn’t know this going in, but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating.  The whisper of doubt that sneaks its way in about the possibility that no one will ever like what I write and I never become a professional screenwriter grows louder with each rejection, but then I think of the people that were once just like me.

Every writer ever.

So no, I’m not giving up.  On the contrary.  I’m just getting started.  So here is the “stay positive-reach for your dreams” tip of the day:

Wear that rejection like a badge of honor because at least it shows that your striving towards your goals.  How many people do you know that are unwilling to even try?

Good Luck and Happy Writing!

Small Steps

pic-jointer-11I’ve found that I haven’t had much to say lately.  I’m not sure exactly why.  In part it could be because the last couple of months have been sort of strange.  Since that incident at work back in February, I’m happy to report that my shift in focus has remained.  It is weird there though.  I’m more focused on the job I actually want, even though the progress is slow sometimes, I am still moving forward.

I’ve been better about reading, which somehow eluded me last year, and I’ve maintained my one-movie-a-week routine (although I did see the Avengers twice, so I’m small-stepsone movie shy of my goal as I write this).  I’ve rewritten two acts of one of my screenplays, I entered my TV pilot into 7 contests, I’ve come up with a new screenplay idea that I’m excited about (let’s just add that to the backlog of ideas currently nestled in the recesses), and I bought my airline ticket and badge for the Austin Film Festival screenwriters conference.  So…yay!

Not that long ago, we had been broke, The Sis and I.  Not so broke that I was worried we might end up homeless, because we always made sure we paid rent, but poor enough that there were a few times we used a credit card to buy groceries and pay bills.  Not a great place to find one’s self.  Now, I’m in a position to attend a writers conference, one of my goals, and I’m nervous and delighted.

Having this external goal compels me to get my writer’s portfolio in order.  There is no way I’m going to squander this opportunity.  It’s one thing to submit to contests, it’s another to hopefully meet and mingle with people who could actually propel my career forward, and so I have to get my sh*t in order.  No more messing around.  No more excuses.  If I’m going to spend this big shiny penny, I have to make the most of it.

It also helps to keep striving when you receive feedback like this from a contest you entered:

“Vivid world building and unique characters set a great foundation for the series. The dialogue between the characters is distinctive and introduces creative dialects and words that the sci-fi audience will love.”

Thank you, Slamdance!

So I’m committing to this page my goals for the next 17 weeks:

  1. Have 3 full length features show ready
  2. Have my Pilot’s Bible ready
  3. Flesh out at least 3 like-genre scripts
  4. Flesh out 1 out of genre script (will save this to the end 😛 )

DreamsWrittenDownAreGoals

Whew.  I’m at some stage of progress on each goal, but there’s still plenty to do, so I better get cracking.

How are you moving towards your goals?  Please share your small steps and let’s celebrate them together!  Also, are you planning on attending AFF?  It would be great to meet a familiar “face”.  😉

Happy Writing!

Writing Prompt #110

Hello!

It’s been some time since I posted a Writing Prompt.  I was immediately drawn to this image while scrolling through Pinterest yesterday.  Yes, I still have that problem. 😉

GirlinGarden

Feel like joining me in a little Writing Prompt Challenge?

Happy Writing!

What Kind of Screenwriter Are You?

In my time of slack, I accumulated hundreds of emails that required at least a fleeting glance.  In my time of focus, I think I’ve cut that number down to about 60 that will require a slightly longer look-see.  Not too bad given the short amount of time dedicated in that direction.  During this time, I came across a personality quiz for screenwriters from Stephanie Palmer’s Good in a Room site.

writingmemeI feel like I know who I am as a writer.  I don’t outline much; I “generally” know where it’s going to go though, before I sit down.  I like happy endings, my characters are often sarcastic and they’re always do-gooders (the protagonists anyway), and because of my genre choice, I have some freedom to let my imagination run wild.  I listen to my characters.  I alternate between procrastination and binge.  I like to write some things by hand (my fanfiction has almost entirely been written by writermemehand, oddly enough), but the computer monitor allows me more space to “see” (hence, all my screenplays have been written via the modern age).  Plus I type much faster than my hand can write to keep up with my brain (which is why some of my fanfiction looks like chicken scrawl).

I realize that my style of writing will some times write me into corners, but often ideamemetimes, I discover alternate paths and ideas that I never would have seen had I not allowed my story to just unfold.  I have literally found myself astounded with what I’ve unearthed this way.

So I wasn’t surprised by my results upon taking the quiz – Gardener Heartwarmer.  Even the name sounds right.  Here are some of the highlights from the break down:

  • You are good at generating new ideas and following them courageously wherever they lead. You work best when they have the time and the confidence to allow their creativity to spring forth without judgement.
  • You combine new ideas in unusual ways and can make unexpected, quantum creative leaps. You also function well when ideas are in a murkier state – and this is often the case when a screenwriting project is in earlier stages of development.  You create strong, complex characters and stories which contain emotionally powerful moments – the cinematic moments we remember forever.
  • Drama requires conflict, and this means putting characters in the worst possible moments of their lives. This can actually be difficult for you because you are experiencing the emotional journey of your characters so poignantly.

And then there were a few helpful tips.  This one, in particular, struck me:

Your creative work is going to take you to some deep, dark places. Make sure you’re writing at the right time of day (or night) so that you have the freedom and the strength to go where you need to go.

I used to like to write at night, when the world grew quiet.  The Sis would be asleep with the furkids snuggled up beside her, my phone was silent, and there was less likely to be something to sidetrack me because The Sis was asleep and I didn’t want to disturb her.  I’ve been trying to write during the day, and I find too many distractions.  I need to get back to the old routine, where I can be more productive.

So, are you ready to learn how well you know yourself as a screenwriter?  Take the quick, six question quiz here.  Share your results below.

Writing Prompt #109

I can’t believe I haven’t shared a Writing Prompt since last April.  Dreadful.

In that continuing effort to shift my focus (which apparently has been askew for a while now), I’m getting back to routine.  It took some effort to find an image that spoke to me.  I looked at Pinterest, and wasted some time, for a few days (not full days or anything) until this one finally appeared.victoriansI’d like to start up the Writing Prompt Challenge again.

The purpose: To give us a break from our “regular” writing.  I use them as a stream of consciousness style writing to offer me some freedom from my fine-tooth-comb style of screenwriting.  I write for 30 minutes or less, don’t plan, and don’t edit.  I call them “flash fictions”.

The rules: They’re simple – write something and share the link in the comments, or tag my page on yours so I can find it.  If you don’t have your own page, feel free to share your creation in the comments, and in the next two weeks I’ll share them all in a post I call “Writing Prompt Challenge Accepted”.

Are you feeling inspired?  Are you up for the challenge?

Happy Writing!

Quote Monday

Today’s quote is continuing in the theme of goal setting from my last post.

sacrifice

When I thought on this for just a few seconds, I didn’t care for the feeling, meaning I had already been sacrificing what it is I really want for myself.  I need to hang this on my wall.

What are you willing to give up to achieve your goals?

2019 Goals

set and reach goal conceptAt the beginning of every year we each decide what we’d like to accomplish, what we want to change.  The dreaded New Year’s Resolution – gyms are overcrowded for a month, a flurry of spending happens while we’re excited for a new hobby, mentally we prepare for the first of the year as if it were a magic reset button, but usually it’s all in vain.  We say things like, “This year, it will all be different.”  “Kiss last year goodbye and say hello to the new one and all the newness that comes with it.”  We set goals, we make resolutions, only to lose momentum a fraction of the way through the year.

Some years are better than others, but it’s because of this I’ve never been one to make resolutions.  The looming (potential) failure.  And I don’t like the feeling.  The reflection at the end of the year at how little I accomplished.  It’s not that we’re lazy, I think it’s just that we lose passion or focus and the reason why we wanted whatever “it” was to begin with amidst the chaos that makes up our daily lives.  An elusive goal with a slow payoff will usually take a back burner to the things that require immediate attention.

Maybe it has something to do with that mid-life crisis I talked about previously, but I’ve started to make some changes by redirecting my focus.  Side note, I did cut my hair off, and it’s kind of fun and different.  I’m not sure how long it’ll last just due to the sheer amount of work it requires but at least I was finally brave enough to try.  Last year I let a lot of things slide.  I let my focus shift to unimportant things, things that didn’t require the value I placed on them, and the year passed with little to show for it…again.

Price

It’s probably a good thing I didn’t make any resolutions. 😉

I like my day job (most days), but I realized I’m giving it too much attention.  I allowed it to gain too much space in my life, and for something I don’t want to do long term, I needed to shift my focus.  Coming home feeling tired, both physically and mentally, causes me to waste the number of hours I have left in my day to accomplish more.  Reading, writing, watching a movie – there have been too many days when none of those have happened. 

EveryNewDaySo, nearing the end of 2018 I started to reevaluate my situation, and like serendipity my general manager gave me a book, “The Coffee Break Screenwriter” by Pilar Alessandra and a tee-shirt that says screenwriter for Christmas.  

I think it was the the push I needed, and I have thanked him again since the holidays because I’m over half way through the book and I’ve already had some ideas about one of my scripts that needs a rewrite, I submitted my pilot to a competition, and I’m planning on attending my first ever screenwriter’s summit.  I’ve watched at least one new movie a week, I’m reading more, and I’ve decided to do the thing I fear – write down my goals.  It’s my hope that visualizing what I’d like to accomplish, in addition to having some sort of accountability, may help me actually reach them.

Discipline

I’m one for lists, so by creating a path to accomplish said goals, I may find it easier to navigate throughout the year when I start to wane or lose focus.  In the past I wrote about finding external deadlines to help in goal setting.  This was not my genius idea but one I had come across from a number of sources.  It’s one thing to say I’d like to rewrite my script by such and such a date, but having a competition to submit to with a hard deadline will definitely add the pressure, so I’m finding those as well.  

It’s about using my time wisely.  More wisely.  Finding the balance between the day job and the dream job, family, other interests, and the mundane will take some effort.  So here’s to a new year and the newness that comes with it. 😉  

How do you plan to achieve your goals this year?  Want to help each other be accountable?  Share your goal and let’s have regular check-ins to make it happen!

That Time I Chose to Become Rachael C Marek

RCM4yrsIt was a little over four years ago when The Sis and I had a conversation.

We were living in Los Angeles, and I had been struggling for nearly a year to find a job.  No exaggeration, I sent out over 250 resumés and only received three responses in return.

I was miserable.  And while writing should’ve given me some solace, I was too concerned about finding paying work, so every time I was on the computer, I felt guilty if I wasn’t doing that.

I barely wrote a word that year.  One of the main reasons for moving to LA – for me to become a professional writer – and I was failing, spectacularly.

It was then The Sis and I had “the talk”.

She was making good money at her job, and she had already been supporting us, so instead of continuing on in such a futile manner, the definition of insanity, I should change tactics and do what I was meant to – write.

It took a little time to become accustomed to the idea that I was being given free reign to follow my dreams, but I realized that I probably wouldn’t have another opportunity like that again, and so Rachael C Marek was born.

I wanted to create a pseudonym, but I still wanted it to be me.  My name really is Rachael (Hi!), and the C is the beginning of one of my middle names, but the Marek, well, that’s thanks to a character I identified with in a book.  It seemed appropriate.

The above reminder popped up last week and it gave me reason to pause.  Had it really been four years since that pivotal moment?!  It made me wonder what I had accomplished in all that time.  I have some writing to show for it.  I still have big dreams.  I still have stories to rewrite, even more to tell…and although I may still be some distance from fulfilling my goal of being a professional writer, I’m in a better place overall and I think that a big part of that started when The Sis encouraged me to become Rachael C Marek.

She deserves a BIG Thank You for years of support of every variety.

And then there’s all of you.  You’ve been welcoming and encouraging, and although I’ve never met you, and maybe never will, we’ve been a part of each other’s journeys, the ups and the downs, and such a community is important to the lowly/lonely writer, so thanks.

xx, Rach

Writing Prompt #108

Happy Writing Prompt Day!

It’s been a while since I posted a bit of inspiration, and today’s image struck me immediately.  That’s what I’m looking for when I choose an image for the day.

You come across this while walking along the beach, what does it say inside?

MessageInABottle

Don’t forget to share your creations, and Happy Writing!