The Bag Means Your Mind

A delightful mix of insightful comments and ignorant assumptions about screenwriting... and such.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Act II - The Long Road

I've finally moved out of Act I land (well, a couple days ago). I'm averaging around five pages a night. I find myself rethinking too much and not just writing what I have. That’s good because I’m thinking on the fly and coming up with some good stuff. It’s bad because one of my reasons for doing an exhaustive outline was to write it really fast. Is five pages per three hour session fast? It is what it is.

Act I is about 37 pages. I know that doesn’t conform to the screenwriting manifesto that stipulates that the first act must end on page 30… or else, but those self-important screenwriting harlots can kiss my narrow black butt* two times.

Now it is on to the desert of Act II, the Bataan Death March of screenwriting. With any luck, I’ll emerge from it relatively unscathed and ready to head into Act III. I’ve got a huge list of scenes and am frightened that Act III might not start until page 140. It’s easier to whittle down than to build up I suppose.

How many pages do you average per session?


My friend Ryan sent me a write up on Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki. He has made several films, some of which have brought him acclaim. He had this to say about writing screenplays:

“In the old days I would write a script during a weekend, now I have become lazy, so it will take me almost a week. But the story line, and the characters – already cast – have probably been working in my subconscious for a year. I simply connect it to a printer, and there is the screenplay. It is all very convenient.”

After slaving over my current story for many moons, I have only this to say:

Fuck Off!

*I am not black, but my butt may be narrow considering that I don’t have one (both of my legs connect directly to my back).

Friday, April 21, 2006

A Question of Race

While writing my football script that the elders say will bring balance to the force and create a surging tide of good-will that will devastate the coast of some far-off land*, I started to wonder just why I should make an effort to declare ethnicity in a script. I mean we’re all color blind right?


I’m not talking about holding hands and singing songs. I’m just wondering if and why writers might feel it necessary. Shouldn’t a person’s mannerisms/customs/relations/diction paint an accurate portrait of who that person is without having to resort to the literal? Perhaps if you are playing a character against type you would need to be specific up front for the reader. But other than that, is it a crime to let the readers paint their own picture?

I’m guessing you don’t want to create a scenario where your reader assumes a character is white, then on page 35 finds out through dialogue that he is black. You want your reader to get an accurate picture in as few words as possible. Do I need to identify a character named Malik as African American? Probably not. But if Malik is white, then it must be stated.

Right now, I’m just writing my descriptions without the mention of race. I’m wondering if anyone feels I’m doing the reader a disservice. Am I creating unease in the reader or giving them a sense that my script is not on firm ground? Should every visual in a screenplay be so concrete that the reader gets the exact image I have in my head?

I say, let the reader bring their own experiences and draw their own conclusions (within reason of course).

What say you?

*Truth be told, good will rarely devastates, except when a good Samaritan reminds you that the Krispy Kreme donut you're eating is loaded with trans fat. In that case, good will could result in a black eye or, at the very least, a stern talking-to.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


After much consternation and gnashing of teeth, I am finally about to type those immortal words: "FADE IN."* I've been outlining/sketching/doodling for months on my football script, and I'm going to try and fire out a draft as quickly as I can.

With each new script I write, I try something a little different. This time I tried to get the story as concrete as possible before starting. This will, hopefully, facilitate the writing process so that I'm not staring at a blinking cursor wondering if my main character is a super model or a homosexual Samoan. The down side is that you feel unproductive and worthless and not very writer-like for a long, long time. All I have to show for it right now is a bloated Keynote file (that program rocks by the way). That is about to change my excellent friends.

Now the key is to see how long it actually takes me to bang out this draft and finally see for myself just how misplanned and ill-expressed my ideas actually are. Bonus!

*Well, I won't actually type it as it is one of those drop down do-jiggy thingies in Movie Magic that purportedly saves me oodles of time (5 minutes over 30 years).

Ten Verbs

This 10 verb meme thing. Only bad can come of it. Either you find out that I don’t have great command of the English language or find out that I have no idea what a verb is. It’s lose lose. To hedge my bet I think I’ll go back to my humble beginnings and post the first 10 verbs from my first script, Expedition, which my mother assures me is Academy Awards material.

swirls, line, burdened, populate, walks, bundled, wears, appears, is, looks

Now, if someone wouldn't mind prying these nails from my ankles and wrists*, I'd like to get down now. I will give fresh nails to my good friend Ryan. Tag. You're it.

*I don't claim to be Jesus or any other deity, but if my "walk on water" experiment goes as well as planned I may revise that statement.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Perfect Title

I went to see Thank You for Smoking tonight, and it was good. Better than good. Go see it after reading this post. Seriously. But that's not what I want to talk about. It's this damned Nacho Libre picture that's coming out.

It just may have the perfect title. I remember just seeing the words "Nacho Libre" in print somewhere. No logo, no pictures, just "Nacho Libre" in boring arial or some nonsense and I smirked. I just... smirked. Because it's funny.

I saw the words and instantly knew it was a comedy, and I instantly knew it was going to be goofy and nonsensical. Why? Because even though I don't speak a lick of Spanish, I know that "Nacho Libre" probably doesn't make a whole lotta sense, and that might be the point. The title tells me everything I need to know about the movie in one fell idiotic swoop.

Then I saw the poster, and I cannot imagine a better image to go with the title. Some overweight moron in a leotard* flying through the air sporting a face that either looks like he's staring down the grill of a speeding bus or is doing his best Kramer impersonation. Either way I'm there.

I'm so there. Nacho Libre. I'm sure there are more perfect titles out there, but right now I'm blinded by the cheesy wonderment that is Nacho Libre.

*I am well aware that the moron in question is Jack Black who may or maynot be a moron in real life.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

A New Word (sort of)

From time to time I come across an interesting new term that the young people are using. With a little under eight months to go before shuffling off the key 18-34 demographic coil, it's imperative that I keep myself in-the-know with what’s hot like Tickle-Me-Elmo and the Back Street Boys. I will share my findings here and I hope you will do the same.

I gleaned this latest ditty from the video game world. I cannot attest to its freshness as the word has no born on date. Ben Franklin could have been using the term back in 1984 or whenever it is he lived. Good ‘ol Ben. The man invented air*, founded a country, and still found time to pillow half the colonies. A God among men. But I digress.

The term is “brick.” Now I know what your thinking, “Did I wash my hair this morning, or merely use conditioner in a sleep deprived stupor.” “Brick” is a common word with a fresh new meaning.

brick (brk)


  1. To render an object, usually a carriable (not necessarily mobile) electronic entertainment device, unusable thereby turning it into a functionless mass.


I bricked my iPod when I dropped it into the toilet.

Microsoft has been bricking Xbox 360s with a buggy firmware update.

To brick something is to turn it into a brick or paperweight. I’m not talking brick, as in a useful building block used by a mason. I’m talking brick as in a useless hunk of clay with a lazy attitude. You can’t brick a refrigerator. You may be able to brick a television, but maybe not because the object might have to resemble a brick in some way.

So there you have it. Brick. If you are writing a script with a technically minded twenty-something, it just might give you the legitimacy you crave. Anyone else have any “words” they’d like to share?

*Ben Franklin did not invent air.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Hello World

My name is Tom and I'll be your blogger. My ego has finally transcended the real and entered the virtual. In my remote corner of the net I will strive to uphold the fervent fist-shaking and baseless accusations that form the foundation of the internet as conceived by Al Gore so many years ago*. This blog will be mostly about screenwriting, but notice I left the window open with “and such” (I’m sneaky that way), so I can pretty much talk about anything I want without repercussion. But fear not! I will not subject you to my wild political views, my religious dogma, or my rantings about the obvious inequality of soft drinks in a cola-dominated marketplace. You have my solemn word that I will update the blog regularly, somewhere between posting my every waking thought and the Josh Friedman-esque policy of posting only while Mars is in retrograde.

So, stick around, leave a comment, and if you should discover just why the bag means your mind, please share it. I came close to understanding it once, and it scarred me for life. Ever since that fateful day, I can't look at a wingnut without screaming. Consider yourself warned.

*Al Gore did not invent the internet. He may not even know how to operate a computer. Comments he made about the internet were misconstrued and propagated as truth, most likely the result of a right-wing conspiracy to thwart the liberal stronghold on the media and Hollywood.