Friday, December 21, 2012

Screenwriting is Like Ironing . . .

Screenwriting is like ironing. You move forward a little bit and go back and smooth things out.
Paul Thomas Anderson

I haven't been posting much lately, except for the occasion "Coffee of the Day" post, which I find amusing and fun. But there are two hard truths to my lack of addition post for this blog with "real" information that would be fun to follow. 

1: I have allowed myself to be busy with other things. There are writers that are meant to write and there is me. I think that I am good writer, but it takes me time to sit down in front of the computer and actually pun out a screenplay. I used to criticize Tarantino for taking forever and a day sometimes before starting production on his next movie (see the gap between Jackie Brown and Kill Bill Vol 1 as an example). It can be hard to actually sit down and create the magic, instead of watching a movie or getting involved with various different family and friend events that come along. To my credit, I do have a full time job that I also have to attend for 40 hours a week. 

*Also, I in no way saying that I am on the level as Tarantino. There are many micro-indie (is that a new term I just made up) film-makers that think that they are Tarantino, the next Tarantino. They are of course wrong. I meant that my situation reminds me of Tarantino long gap between projects, not in any way that I am as him as well. 

2: See the quote above - a valid point. In the last three times that I have sat down to write the script I have made a lot of progress and even have written several pages at a time. However, my page count continues to sit at 20-23 pages. I find that I am ironing out the details as I go. Two years ago, when I wrote the first draft of the story arc I added a long of dialogue scenes, some of which that are only re-stating the dialogue of the scene prior. It was almost like a Stephanie Meyers novel. As it was just a rough of the story arc, I didn't see it at the time as being a problem, and neither did my good friend, fellow film-maker, and now Masters of English graduate Jason White. 

As I am writing the story, I find that I need to trim the fat out of the screenplay. Which is something that I am usually telling everyone else to do. It usually seems that an amateur storyteller/ screenwriter always has 20 pages of screenwriting when they could have told condensed it down to four pages instead. Again, another thing that Stephanie Meyers does in her novels. 

But now that I have half of my scenes from the story arc draft missing, I am left with figuring out the details in the middle. I also changed a few of the character backgrounds, and am trying to figure out how that all fits together. So, the first 20 pages for far have gone threw a few revisions and mainly so that I can build a strong foundation for continuing forward. 

And if I can't figure it out from there, then I'll just type up what I originally had on the page and let my film-making peers tear it to shreds with notes and suggested revision - and then go from there. 

Ryan McDonald

Monday, December 10, 2012

Coffee of the Day

Day's coffee is an art piece that I found online. For more information on the artist go here

Friday, November 16, 2012

One You Feed Coffee for the Day

Not much to update on these days. But for now - Coffee for the day.

Monday, November 5, 2012


I finally had a breakthrough with the storyline. There has been one scene that has been bugging me, and I hit it two weeks ago. Since then the writing has almost stopped completely.

Two years ago I ran into this as well. I have a scene between the main character John, and his friend/counselor, Donald. It is the scene when Donald confronts John about John slipping from a normal law abiding person to a revengeful wreck. When I was writing this long hand, I had such a hard time working the scene that I skipped it completely and moved on to other scenes. But as you know, you have to build a strong foundation before you begin framing the rest of the house.

So now, two years later, I am attacking the script again. Everything was going so smooth, and then there it was. Page 20 - that dreaded scene. Damn that scene.

And the writing stopped. Twenty pages in and I’m stuck. For me to write a scene, I need to feel the emotion of the characters. Because I need to have the conversation first out loud and then I write the dialogue. Here I had nothing. Writers block.

Finally, a breakthrough. I see now what I was doing wrong. I wanted this scene to be a foundational scene, but it’s not. And if I want it to have the emotion that I need to need to build the foundation first for this scene before I can move on.

So, I am going to add a few more scenes to the beginning, but not too many. Because as a storyteller, we want the script to be as condensed as possible and have a moment of the story wasted. So, adding scenes does not magically solve the problem, but at least by pushing this "emotional" scene down the road I now have time to set it up and lay the foundation.

I was missing the setup. I had not established enough of my characters and the story to warrant the scene so close to the beginning. I diagrammed this on the nearest stationary possible and will soon been back in the writers chair.

Well, I have to leave work first.

The “scene” that I am speaking is listed near the bottom as – “Scene w/ Don – argument.”


Ryan McDonald

Thursday, October 25, 2012

March 2011 - Now

Looking over the outline for the script today when I noticed the footnote sitting at the bottom of the page (see above). Typically for scripts, storyboards, or just about anything that I create I like to add the date on there. I have a fixation for nostalgia, and I like to sit and think about things, the time in my life, what I was doing, etc.

But then it hit me  . . . 2011. I wrote this outline March of 2011 and it's now October of 2012. That's almost two years ago (18 months actually). And though one could say, "Hey well, good for you for sticking with it and not giving up on the dream." But at the same time 18 months was a long time ago, and at the time I was very enthusiastic about the project The One You Feed.

So, what happened? Well . . . . 

We got a little sidetracked. In the mean time my short film career really started picking up, and in that time I've been apart of twenty film projects, most of them short films and a few feature films that I helped out with. Seven of which I directed, and many other that I produced. Along with my brother-from-another-mother, Jason White we helped established a local film group call the New Ogden Cinema, a local cinema group in the area that makes it possible to collaborate with filmmakers.

Anyways, well we've been busy and now it's two years late and I'm finally putting the pen to the page. But I'm more experienced now and I have made a lot of new connections, and many more new friends. Two years ago, making this film would have been impossible. Now, I feel like even if this move does not find a wealthy produce that this film could still be made locally and that we would have a great project.

I need to finish the script first. I can not say that I'm almost done, I wish I could though. Let's just say that I'm far enough away from the title page to claim that I've started. But not far enough away to start celebrating, or even start thinking about casting.

For more information on the my other films and to keep up with me outside of The One You Feed go HERE!

In the mean time, well I'll keep you updated.



Thursday, October 18, 2012

So, what is this film about anyways?

So, what is this film about anyways?

Well . . . . the film follows John, a man who's wife was murdered before his eyes. Left for dead, John now has two wolves fighting inside of him. One fights to endure the pain and begin a new life. The other fights for anger, hate, and revenge.

Which one will win? The One You Feed.

Okay, okay, so that was my sales pitch. But it is something that I have to develop anyways. Later, I'll be creating a log line. What's a log line? A line is like a one to two sentence elevator pitch of the synopses of the film. An effective log line not only peak the interest of the person listening, but it should also hook them as well, and at the same time not take up too much of their day.

As many film makers know, there is almost nothing worse than someone telling you that they have a GREAT idea and then taking 20 minutes to tell you all about it. If it's a person that you respect than you probably don't mind waiting it out. But someone you just met at a meet and greet? No offense to that person, but it makes me want to exit the conversation stat.

It is also recommended that in addition to a log line you create several different pitches for your film at various lenghts. Like a two sentence, a two paragraph, and a full out two pages out line of the story. If a person is interested in the log line, than you are free to give them the more detailed version of the story.

The concept? To sale the story. And not just for money, but to your friends, your family, your peers. Sale it to anyone that will listen. Well, that is my goal I guess at this point.

So, I didn't fully detail the plot of the film. But I hope that you accept the trade for film school information about log lines.

Stay tuned as more updates are sure to come.



Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Page One

I've started. I am past the opening page and have the first few scene already knocked out.

However, it is a very rough draft. Once I am done I will have my peers read it over. I had a professor in college that was approached by a student one day about having her (the professor) read over a nearly finished script. The professor declined and asked that the student come back to her once the screenplay is complete.

The professor did not want to start handing out notes that might derail the task of finishing the script. The same will apply here. From now on, I am on my own until I reach the moment when I can type, "The End."

I will post a brief synopses soon with a log line for the film as well. But hey, I'm not even past the first 10 pages yet. So, it might be a minute.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012



This website will be for the feature film The One You Feed. As this is both my first feature, and also very low budget, this blog will be here to help document all the trials, errors, and success that I run along while working on achieving a goal and dream of mine.

My hope in the near future is to have the screenplay completed and a second draft to follow shortly after. Would the screenplay sell? Well, I would hope so. I think that I will attempt to shop a finished product around, maybe with me attached as director. For the right price, maybe not. 

Anyways, this is the beginning of the next journey for me as largely I plan to put short films on hold, if not on hold indefinitely. I have made over 16 shorts at this point, and several videos. I have helped other independent directors work on their first feature films, and many with less experience at film making than I. Now, is my chance to make a film or at least finish a feature screenplay and see if it sells.
*A Note: I have yet to blog about the two most recent films that I have directed and shot, but have not been released. As well as the short film American Discord, which I worked on, but did not direct. 
If completed this would be the first feature screenplay that I actually complete, which gives you a good sense that I have started many, just never have finished any before. 
My plan is to create a blog for the film, gain followers along the way as I post updates on the screenplay, the characters, and as we move the film into the production hopefully also gain more and more follows so that when the film is released we have somewhat of a following. Well, at least there is you and me at this point. 
Ryan McDonald