Monday, August 25, 2008

Published in NYWIC enewsletter


Hello all,


Outside of my blog, here's my latest writing assignment published online. Scroll about half-way down to find my write-up.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Summer Winding Down but Busier than Ever

Is it just me, or are the nights in Connecticut, and for the Northeast in general, a little cooler than usual. On Monday Morning, I opted to go for a jog in my neighborhood rather than to the gym and boy did I feel the fall chill. The temperature was around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Yikes. I'm so not ready for winter. I know I still have to make it through fall, but something in my gut tells me that if we have an Indian summer, it will be short-lived.

Regardless of what the weather brings I will be a busy bee this fall. At work, I'm gearing up for one of the agency's signature events, the 2008 Foster Parent Conference. After that, I'll be working on media publicity for National Adoption Month, which also might mean plans for a local event on National Adoption Day (November 22, 2008).

Outside of work, I'm in rehearsals for Anton in Show Business (opens October 10 at the Oddfellows Playhouse, Middletown, Connecticut for the first weekend and then moves to the Little Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut for the last two weekends). I'm also in pre-production for After the Headlines, a short film I wrote and will direct. Producing a film, even a short film is really time consuming, luckily I have good people helping me me out, thanks, Brandy, Lawrence and others. It's hectic because I'm still trying to secure locations and a couple of key crew positions, but somehow it will get done, it just has to. But before the play and film shoot, I somehow managed to squeeze in a staged reading of If Not You, written by Vonda Kindall (an alumina of Western Connecticut's MFA Professional Writing program) and sponsored by the NY Academy of Television Arts and Sciences at a top-secret location in NYC (think premium cable) in September. And then there are the birthday celebrations for friends I have to attend. It's a whole lot. I just hope I can do it all and execute it well.

Sometimes I wonder why I take so much on, but then I realize this is the dream. So, I've got to give it my best, besides I really enjoy the process, stress aside. I guess I just worry that I'm stretching myself to thin. My boyfriend Karim seems to think I do that, there's a good chance he's right, but at the end of the day, I do what I do, because I think it's helping me get to the next level and I hope the end results will justify my means.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Pursuing the Dream this weekend

On Saturday, I helped out the Dark Embrace Film team with the production of The Short Con, written and directed by Elvis Diaz, a resident of New London. This weekend marked the second week of production for the cast and crew. Initially, I was suppose to show-up Friday night, but Lawrence, founder and one of the producers of The Short Con, forgot to send me the location information. It worked out in the end, I was physically spent and needed to go home to recouperate. I haven't gotten much sleep this week, I've had rehearsals for a play, a staged reading (which I had to learn an African accent for, I was a refugee from Darfur), and had to set-up a pre-production meeting for the film I plan to shoot in November - all this plus my nine to five. It was a lot.

After the staged reading, I called Lawrence to remind him that he forgot to send me the information and that I couldn't make it to the shoot. I told him that I could be there most of the day on Saturday and he was cool with that. It was going to be a 8:30 a.m. crew call in New London, Connecticut. I was not looking forward to the drive, but since I'm also a producer on the film I wanted to be there to show my support to Elvis and help out.

When I spoke to Lawrence, he said things went pretty well the weekend before, there were a few issues, but those issues were dealt with. I still had my reservations about the day and didn't know what to expect. I just hoped I wasn't walking into a production train wreck. I did not, Elvis ran a tight ship. The cast and crew were great. Elvis hired a few student filmmakers, who came to the set with heart and professionalism. This is a blessing, especially when it's an ultra low-budget and you can't afford to pay most of the crew. Everyone did a stellar job including the actors. At the end of the night I didn't want to leave, but I had to tend to other plans I made.

There were moments when I can look back and know a few things could have been better organized, there was to much down time at times, we didn't have a needed prop (luckily they were able to use my purse), or no special effects make-up to create a scar and bruises when we needed it. But that can happen when you shoot on an ultra-low budget and don't cross all your T's or dot all your I's. These mistakes help everyone to learn and hopefully that won't happen a second time around. If the crew is good and takes notes it usually doesn't.

There was also some icing on the cake. I had planned on leaving at six due to dinner plans, but those plans were cancelled at the last minute and it was to my benefit. I'm glad I stuck around to meet Michael Naughton, a staff writer from The Day, a New London newspaper and Tim Martin, a staff photojournalist. Tim and Michael were great. Both men came to capture the story of a writer/director who is trying to live his dream. They spent a good deal of time talking to Elvis, Lawrence, and other crew members including myself. Earlier today, I made sure to thank them via email for their time (note: always thank people for their time, it's the curtious thing to do and people remember it.)

I'm really excited because this will be a great addition to the press kit when we begin submitting The Short Con to film festivals. This is just the beginning. I can't wait to see a rough cut of the film. We get better with each film we do and that gives me hope for when I direct After the Headlines. Right now I'm going crazy trying to secure some locations and crew, luckily I have my actors (all of whom I worked with before, YEAH).

The story should be out later this week. It will be interesting to see how Michael shapes the piece. I'm looking forward to it no matter how big or small, after all this is free publicity. I consider the whole cast and crew lucky to have received this opportunity.

In the meantime, I keep chasing my dreams.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Hooray: I'm Finally a Finalist

I have some good news to share. The American Gem Literary Festival and Wright Brothers have announced their finalists and my short script Out of the Box (co-written with Lawrence King) has finally made the cut. The literary festival accepted submissions in the following categories: short screenplay, short story, story treatment, and logline. I'm a finalist in the short screenplay and logline categories.

Last week I was feeling down because I had two rejections from film festivals for my feature, Finding Patience. I realize and accept that rejection is an unfortunate part of the writing process. However, this announcement puts steam back into my engine.I wrote the first draft of this script four years ago and have submitted to this competition in the past, but I have only made it to either the quarter or semi-finalist round.

When I received coverage on the script I always reworked it and tried to address my script's flaws. To date, I have done at least 20 revisions. Practice does make perfect.

I also want to give credit and thanks the students in my online multi-genre workshop from the Spring 2007 semester. The feedback theygave me was extremely instrumental in my last couple of revisions of the script.

One of the lessons that Western Connecticut's Professional Writing MFA program constantly reinforces is that when you have a story to tell, write it. I also have to believe in, as well as be a champion of my work. After the script, manuscript, or article is finished, I have to show due diligence in getting my story out in the world. I'm constantly working on that and it takes a lot of energy, but at the end of the day it is up to me and no one else.Who knows if I'll win or place in this competition, but for me, being a finalist is proof that I just have to keep writing.

Aaliyah

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Wire: Up Close and Personal


Many blog entries back, I mentioned some of my favorite shows. There are shows that I really enjoy viewing like Weeds, Dexter, Prison Break, Law and Order, October Road (I hope it comes back in the fall), and Ugly Betty. These shows make my top ten. But then there are shows that really knock my socks off, because they go beyond only having entertainment value, these shows seek to look at the past, may offer a perspective on a key figure in history or challenge viewers by addressing social issues that plague society . I'm talking about shows like The Tudors, Mad Men, and my personal favorite The Wire.

Last Wednesday, I had the opportunity to get up-close and personal with the creator, a couple of it's writers, and a select group of actors from the critically acclaimed HBO series. About two weeks ago I received an email from Film in the City, they send me a bi-weekly e-newsletter with film reviews, entertainment job listings, and film screening or networking events in New York City. Listed was the panel discussion with the creator of The Wire, to be held at The Times Center, on 241 West 41 Street. The cost of the event was $20. I knew I had to be in the audience and put it on my calendar.

I had two reasons to go. The first is I'm a fan, the second was that I thought it would be a good opportunity to try and pitch a short script I wrote to one of the writers after the panel. You never know, right. So I headed down to the city after work. I made good time until I hit Manhattan, as usually it was a mess, I almost got hit by a city bus, but thanks to fast reflexes and fear of another car accident I dodged that Goliath. Eventually, I found parking. I decided to park on 38th, because that's where I know I can park after seven without getting a ticket or towed.

I made it to the theater about fifteen minutes late, the place was packed, and on the screen was a video with cast, crew, and critics talking about the making of The Wire. The video gave an indepth behind the scenes look that was funny, serious, and heartwarming. After the video, the event continued with a panel discussion that included David Simon, the creator; Clark Johnson, a contributing writer, director of various episodes, and actor in the series; Richard Pierce, a contributing writer; actor Wendell Pierce (Det. William 'Bunk' Moreland); actor Clark Peters (Det. Lester Freamon ); and actor Seth Gilliam (Sgt. Ellis Carver).

After the panel discussion was over I hung out in the lobby hoping I would have an opportunity to approach Clark Johnson. My first chance was a no-go, he got hit up by fans who wanted autographs, then he headedd over to a reporter and cameraman to be interviewed. I patiently waited. Once his interview finished I made my move, but was then cut off by a woman and her son. I wasn't giving up. I waited again and when they were finished and I made my pitch.

Needless to say, my dreams weren't answered. Mr. Johnson explained that he couldn't take my script. He was very cool about the whole thing. He took the time to ask me where I was from and told me that even though he can't look at my script, I shouldn't give it up. I won't. While I didn't think about it at the time, I have a feeling that the Writers Guild of America (WGA) has a policy where screenwriters can only solicit scripts through agents or managers. If I'm right he would be jeopardizing his own bread and butter and I wouldn't want that. It wasn't a complete lost. I did get to give him my business card and he did give me his email and let me know that if I had any questions from one writer to another, he would do his best to answer them.

I did email him. After cornering Mr. Johnson like I did, I felt I needed to thank him for his time. I wasn't sure if I even wrote down his email correctly and didn't expect to get a response. I'm pleased to report that I did get a response. Today actually. It was short and sweet, but Mr. Johnson took the time to write me back and I think that means a lot. It didn't turn out like I envisioned, but I took a chance. I'm still surprised I had the balls to go up to him and I'm glad I did. I'm going to have to take chances and that was my first of many.

Now I have to get back to the work, the writing, because at the end of the day it's all about a good, well-written, and character-driven story. While I'm getting better, I've still got a ways to go.