2/17/2008

Don't write crap

I spent the past two days at Creighton, where I attended the Omaha Film Festival Screenwriting Conference. I know, I know. You're saying, "Omaha has a film festival?" Yes, it does. This is its third year and its been pretty successful for the past couple years, and this week should be no exception.

The screenwriting conference is something new, though. At least, I don't remember reading anything about it the last couple years, so I'll assume it was new for this year. They brought in some screenwriters and editors, some of whom have ties to Nebraska, including Jon Bokenkamp (Taking Lives, Perfect Stranger) and Academy Award winner Mike Hill (Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, and pretty much every other Ron Howard movie).

Also in attendance was Josh Stolberg (Passion of the Ark, which became Evan Almighty, Good Luck Chuck), who's not from Omaha, though he does have family here. As both Josh and Jon were quick to point out, just because their names are on the aforementioned films, that doesn't mean that what you see on the screen is what they wrote. It's a long, arduous process from writing your original script to the movie being in production, and a lot of people have ample opportunity to fuck up the script along the way, which means, in essence, they take no responsibility for the crappy films to which their names are attached.

Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang) was supposed to be in attendance also, but he had something of a trip from hell from L.A. to Omaha and he didn't arrive until just a few hours ago, so he missed the panels he was scheduled to speak at. He will be at the screening of Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang tonight, though, and taking part in a Q&A session afterwards. I just need to decide if I'm up for going. I'm awfully tired for some reason. It's been a long weekend of sitting and listening to people talk about movies.

The conference itself, the panels and seminars, were all fun and interesting, but I don't think I really learned anything new from anyone, as far as writing and storytelling goes. I heard a lot of great stories, behind-the-scenes-of-Hollywood-type stuff, which were very entertaining and sometimes cautionary, but as far as the craft of screenwriting goes, well, the title of this blog post really sums up everything you really need to know. Don't write crap (thanks for that post-it note, Alissa). If you don't write crap, you've got a chance. The actual writing process itself, it's different for everyone, so it's not something you can really learn from a seminar or a book.

I'm not sure how many of the film festival movies I'm going to get to see, what with school and all. I should have gotten some writing done this weekend, but I was at the screenwriting conference. Oh, the irony. I got a little done in between speakers, and I've still got some time for the couple assignments I have due in the next couple weeks, so, as usual, I'm none too worried.

I just wish I had more time to devote to writing for myself instead of for class. I keep telling myself it'll come soon, after I graduate, and I may just be fooling myself into thinking that, but, as I've told myself for the past three years, school comes first. Everything else can wait.

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