The television drones in the background. I’d like to watch that Game of Thrones episode for the eighth time, but I can’t now because I have to work on my script. Or do I? I guess it doesn’t really matter if the main character says “We are” or “We’re” in this particular moment. Besides, my nineteenth favorite song is playing on Spotify. I need to dance around the room. Maybe I’ll work on the feature instead of the TV spec. Or maybe I should work on my pitch for a new manager. Damn, look at the laundry piling up. I only have 24 hours until I have to go back to the day job from hell. How can I concentrate when I have so much to do? Oh, look– something shiny. Focus, Gayle. FOCUS.
Has this ever happened to you? You KNOW what you need to do. But for some reason you are not doing it. Sit down and write, damn it. The lack of focus is a script killer. Many writers do not outline. They may have some notes, but they basically let the words flow and the characters roam around for pages until they find the exit. There is no clear goal or story direction. A lot of meandering. There is a lot of value to that sort of stream of conscious flowing, however when it is time to write you have to follow a clear, focused goal one step at a time. A concentrated effort leads to success or, in the words of Nike “Just do it.” So why can’t I? I have rewrites that I absolutely need to do before I can send any of my new stuff out. Even writing this post is causing some agita. But that’s not what I need to focus on. I have done the work; not my first time at the rodeo. But it is the first time in over a dozen years when I am without representation. So I have to get back to work by getting a new rep. Not an easy task by any stretch. I have a fear of failing. So perhaps my subconscious futzing around is designed to delay a nerve-wracking necessity.
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Licking the salt off my Margarita-stained fingers to jot some thoughts on the day. If you have dreams of seeing your name in lights, try the translation: Guión de (your name.)
Telling a good story will always get attention in the U.S., but telling a good story visually will attract fans worldwide. Film festivals are a major showcase for emerging filmmakers to present themselves to the marketplace. With a good showing internationally at say, Berlin or Venice, independent and low-budget films like yours can find an audience willing to embrace a project that is unlikely to find a home at the local cineplex. As the annual dog and pony prance up the croissette begins at the 68th Cannes Film Festival next week, it’s important to remember two words – moving pictures. I’m not even going to talk about what’s happening in Hong Kong movies or Hindi-language cinema because that is a whole other workout routine. Seriously, Bollywood is Hollywood on steroids.
We are moved by images. Yes, yes dialogue is important, “Yippee-ka-yay, M*&ther f$@ker” probably doesn’t translate exactly, but Die Hard (1988) is straight up adrenaline-pumping action, baby. The image of Alan Rickman’s slo-mo death drop is arguably one of the best villain demises in film. If writers are told to “show” and not “tell” their story with images why aren’t non-English language films more popular?
I live in Los Angeles where many of my friends learned English as a second language. According to the Motion Picture Association of America, although Latinos only make up 17% of the US population, they make up 25% of the theater-going audience (yet about 0% of the characters in Hollywood movies). Say what now? Another reminder that the powers-that-be in Hollywood merely guess what will appeal to the majority. As an experiment, the next time you go to the movies and don’t see something you like, watch a non-English language movie to see what the rest of the world’s turned on to.
My very good friend Consuelo Mackintosh is from Argentina. We bonded over that wonderful Argentinian film, Relatos Salvajes (“Wild Tales”) which was nominated for a 2014 Academy Award in the foreign language category. A revenge comedy, how did it not win? The Polish entry Ida won. It’s a period “art” film with black & white cinematography and swathed in pathos about a nun who discovers her Jewish heritage. Of course it won. Artsy, low-budget, black & white, connection to the Holocaust that forces you to think about the human condition. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget the subtitles. Ida ticks all the boxes of what we think of when we think foreign film.
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