From Synapse to Script

Feature film screenplays generally run 80 to 120 pages (it’s a simple metric: one page = one minute of screen time, approximately). Unfortunately, their narratives are not “born” fully formed. There is no single path to developing a screenplay: some build the story via (physical or onscreen) index cards; others build the story via the writing of one or more outlines; some try to bull their way through the script by writing it from “FADE IN” to “FADE OUT” (the latter is not an approach I recommend). Combinations of these approaches are pretty typical.

I’ve developed screenplays solely via index cards, but more recently, I’ve been favoring the writing of treatments (which are more detailed prose outlines that can run 20-40 pages). The treatment provides a trustworthy roadmap for me while I write the screenplay: I can maintain momentum, and avoid getting hopelessly lost, by following the treatment. It requires a lot of the treatment: the more detailed it is, the more I know where I’m going.

Continue reading “From Synapse to Script”

2022 and Optimism

Almost immediately after my wife and I were vaccinated early in 2021, we booked a trip to the Yucatan peninsula for the end of the year: feeling that the pandemic would definitely be waning by then, and travel would no longer be a concern.

The joke was on us, of course. Delta. Omicron. We got our boosters the second we were eligible. And maybe the best way to escape Omicron after all was to head to the jungle in Campeche.

Optimism.

Continue reading “2022 and Optimism”

Vista Bella Films, continued

And now we round into the Fall: the pandemic anything but gone, a woman’s right-to-choose in peril, authoritarianism relentlessly gnawing away at a fragile and imperfect democracy…

MovieMagic Screenwriter Title Page Publisher screenshot

But pontificating via social media is not my thing. I write screen stories. So an update on that tale…

Continue reading “Vista Bella Films, continued”

Vista Bella Films

vbf_prospectusJust a check-in as Spring hastens towards Summer…and as the pandemic seems to be waning (I hope everyone’s gotten vaccinated or has a vaccination appointment on their docket)…

As you may know, my production company — Vista Bella Films — is pursuing independent financing for the production of low-budget feature films set in New Mexico and to be made by New Mexicans. We continue making (slow) progress towards completing the funding for my feature film screenplay 2-WAY (a screenshot of part of one slide in our investor prospectus deck accompanies this post). We hope to be in production prior to the end of the year. The pandemic certainly slowed our progress, but it feels like we’re now picking up momentum with our private equity offering (SEC regulations require that I say no more). Continue reading “Vista Bella Films”

Pandemic Life

The pandemic can literally make each of us invisible, given the near-obliteration of public life and social activites. And writers historically will tend towards invisibility anyway, if they’re in the middle of a project.

So as we move fully into 2021 (President Biden’s inauguration seeming to be the real marker for a new year and new beginning), just a brief update on my professional doings. (The photo is from an earlier time when outdoor dining was still considered “safe”. Mask off, champagne ready.)

Continue reading “Pandemic Life”

Writer For Hire

My Visiting Professorship in Ringling College of Art+Design’s Film Department has officially ended after a wonderful two-year stint (allowing me a chance to experience a part of the country I’d never been in before). Working with Ringling Film‘s undergraduates was a privilege, and I was never more impressed than seeing their grace and equanimity when confronted by this ugly pandemic in the Spring. Having had to essentially flee the campus over Spring Break, they pursued their studies with rigor for the second half of the semester, as we made a new classroom home in Zoom. And I wish them much success as they earn their degrees and commence pursuing their careers.

For the first time in a decade, I’m not employed full-time as a college professor. Which means I’m hanging out my shingle as a writer-for-hire, script doctor and script consultant — while simultaneously writing and producing my own projects under the banner of Tzib Media and Vista Bella Films.

Continue reading “Writer For Hire”

2-WAY’s Progress Towards Production

You might be wondering, “How does an independently financed feature film move towards full funding and production during a pandemic?”

Specifically, my feature film 2-WAY (which I’ve written and am executive producing).

Well, I’ve got the answer.

Check out 2-WAY‘s Indiegogo site (NOTE: the campaign itself ended in Fall 2019–how time flies!), and click on the “Updates” tab on the page. You’ll get caught up on the latest news. Or, you can click on the screencap below.

(And while we make continued [albeit slow] progress on 2-WAY, I’m hard at work on a new feature film screenplay that we’ll be looking to independently finance later in the year. This is assuming we can ever get safely back to production in New Mexico.)

Academic Pandemic

undefinedConcluded a second year as Visiting Professor in the Film department of Ringling College of Art+Design. Needless to say, this was not a typical year in academia. Mid-semester, everybody picked up and went home on the (wise) prompting of the College, to escape the rapid spread of the coronavirus. Undergraduates completed their courses on Zoom.

Continue reading “Academic Pandemic”

Visiting Professorship During the Pandemic

RinglingFilmMeeting
Ringling Film Department meeting before the pandemic. I’m “guarding” the Exit door in the back of the soundstage (in ballcap). Perhaps I should have done a little better guarding against the pandemic. Photo: M.Gissing

For the past two years, I’ve served as a Visiting Professor in the Film Department of Ringling College of Art+Design (in Sarasota, FL).

While the weekly commute between New Mexico and Florida was demanding, it’s been a privilege to be part of a highly ranked Film department, filled with motivated undergraduates and top-caliber faculty and staff.

That all changed 2 weeks ago — the end of Spring Break — when the College announced that it was moving to 100% online delivery of curriculum for the remainder of the Spring semester, due to the onrushing coronavirus pandemic.

Continue reading “Visiting Professorship During the Pandemic”

Dungball Express — All Aboard

height_90_width_90_dungball_s2e10Recorded in the antediluvian times (March 9, 2020), here I am discussing my feature film 2-WAY (and, as a warm-up, undergraduate teaching) on the New Mexican-originated Dungball Express podcast, hosted by WGA screenwriter Don Davenport and University of New Mexico Lecturer Harry Musselwhite.

If you’re sheltering in place, I hope you’ll give it a listen — you’ll get the latest update on 2-WAY‘s financing and progress towards pre-production. If you’ve got even more time on your hands, go binge-listen to The Dungball Express.