Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ category

Interview with a Screenwriting Jedi Master

January 29, 2009

As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, writer/producer Tim Albaugh has been possibly the most significant figure in the history of my would-be professional writing career.  He is Obi-Wan to my Luke, if you will — a comparison that will no doubt make the Missus’ eyes roll so emphatically, she’ll look possessed. 

I first met Tim when I happened to be assigned to his Professional Program workshop at UCLA over ten years ago and have clung to the underside of his wing ever since.  Lately he’s been spending some time up in Emeryville, teaching those cinematic slackers at Pixar how to write screenplays.   Imagine what those guys will do when they know how to make a good movie, eh?

ANYWAY, I thought you might be interested in what Tim has to say; if you don’t have the opportunity to take one of his classes at the various schools he teaches at, there are worse things you could do with five hundred bucks than hire him to consult on your script.  No, I’m not getting a kickback for endorsing him like that.

So, without further ado, here’s the interview.

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A Few Stolen Thoughts For the Day

August 3, 2008

So my sister-in-law is visiting for the weekend and has hijacked the Peanut and the Missus, allowing me to slip away to my office/man cave to write. Of course I’m blogging instead — but only for the moment. Just taking a break. Honest.

I’m still waiting for the producers’ notes for the Wedding Comedy outline; I do know that two guys loved the outline and one guy has problems with it, which will invariably equal big headaches on my part. As I sit tight and try to distract myself from imagining what they’re going to throw at me, I’ve been taking notes for the second draft of my current spec, a high school comedy — I have to roll up my sleeves and turn my 117-page mess of a first draft, written in a two week white heat before the baby was born, into something halfway decent. Given the state of the draft, I’ll settle for something a quarter decent. Or at least typo-free.

ANYWAY, as I was going through old writing notebooks earlier, looking for a brilliant idea that turned out to be considerably less than brilliant when I finally found it, I came across various quotes from artists I admire. Over the years I’ve gotten into the habit of jotting down my heroes’ words as little pick-me-ups for whenever I get bummed out or blocked or whatever. Here are a few that jumped out at me today…

“I never got into being discouraged, because I never got into hoping. When I was a kid, I never got used to expecting success. I got used to failing. Once you do that, the rest is easy. It took a lot of the pressure off. I just said, ‘Hell, I’m a loser. I don’t have to worry about anything.’ I assumed immediately that nothing was happening. But that’s not the same as giving up. You keep trying, but you don’t count on things. It can be a strength. Because I know some people who sweat out winning so much it kills them. So, in the end, they lose anyway.” — Bruce Springsteen

“If a person with a demonstrably ordinary mind, like mine, will devote himself to giving birth to a work of the imagination, that work will in turn tempt and tease that ordinary mind into cleverness.” — Kurt Vonnegut

“Never let yourself get bored. If you’re bored, you’re useless. Either relish your task, or reinvent it, or drop it cold. You’re doing no one a favor by slogging through it. Work should always be engaging. It doesn’t always have to be fun, but you must never bore yourself.” — Frank Miller

“Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as a writer.” — Ray Bradbury

Next post: “To Live and Die (of Encouragement) in L.A.”