Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Last week, I went to a panel at The Writers Guild called "$#!@ I wish I had known," featuring four very successful screenwriters.  It was informative, interesting... and depressing as all hell.  

This isn't entirely due to the panel - Some of the panelists were pragmatic if not optimistic (having a lot of money in the bank and jobs lined up helps that) but one or two of the panelists couldn't stop talking how the industry is going to hell in a hand basket, etc etc.

"Back in my day, if you had a great script, you could drop it on the 405 and it would sell!"

Spot the script. 
Look, I don't know what it is, but there's just something about getting a bunch of neurotic screenwriters in a room together that leads to a lot of vitriol, executive bashing, and general malaise.   Regardless, I came out of the panel better informed, with a little fire in my gut to get through the two drafts that I'm in the middle of, and with this blog idea...


1.  It doesn't take one script to make you a screenwriter.  It takes seven.
- When I was 23, I was so focused on the one big idea that I had, sure that it would get me my shot at directing and then I would never have to write again! (A girl can dream).  Two dozen scripts later... I realize that you have to focus on the work - not the end result, not the escape route, just the work and the end result (fame, fortune, etc.) will come.  Just look at how famous and rich I AM! (insert winking emoticon and/or LOL here.)

2.  You won't get an agent until you get a job and once you get a job you probably don't really need an agent.

3. It's up to you to keep up your connections, to reach out to executives and establish a working relationship so that they want to work with you again.

4.  On pitching.  Prepare.  Prepare. Prepare.  Don't underestimate the tall order that is telling a 20 minute oral story to two or more high powered executives who have the power to get you health coverage and pay your rent for the year.  Prepare.

5.  You will be re-written.  And you will re-write someone else.  It's not personal.  It's work.  It's money. And it's a step closer to getting the movie made, which is what we all want.   Thank the Executives for everything and offer to help in any way you can as the project moves forward.  You never know, maybe some director or star will come on that likes your old draft better and then you'll be back on the project!

6. When someone offers you a million dollars to make your movie, you say YES!
-  I was in a fancy hotel at a fancy restaurant eating a fancy dinner on this investor's fancy dime - and when the money came up, I balked at the low option price (indie budgets don't have much if any room to pay writer/directors - did you know that?  I didn't know that).  I worried aloud about how I would support myself for the year that it would take to make the movie.  Valid problem, inopportune time to worry.  Silly artist, trying to support yourself!

7. Don't talk politics in a meeting unless you're sure the exec dislikes George Bush as much as you do.

8.  When you get paid, it can feel like you've won the lottery.  Don't act that way.  Unless you're a TV writer and you're guaranteed another script that season and you're getting a weekly paycheck, don't spend that money like it's coming again next week.  Budget.  Or splurge and get a car (I still have the car I bought when we optioned COUGARS, which, man (checks watch), needs to be replaced, STAT.)  
- by the way - that option expired and was just RE-UPPED by Screen Gems so a movie that I thought would never be made is alive again!  And I get a little money out of nowhere, which is like two lottery wins!  I'll let you know how that moves forward...

9.  Know who you're meeting with, working with, pitching to.  Do your research before meeting a producer and definitely before getting into bed with a producer.  Ask around or at the very least google them.   And trust your instincts.
10. When you go to any premiere, dress business casual.  Do not wear a formal dress unless you are the star of the movie.
-  I, one time, due to a dirty clothes dilemma, ended up in something a little too fabulous at an indie premiere at the ArcLight and a certain producer who will remain unnamed just couldn't stop commenting on how fabulous I looked.  We had met before but she was sure that I didn't look "so nice" last time.   The more she kept on it, the more I felt like I'd driven in from Kansas to "go to the big premiere."  It haunts me just like the time in seventh grade that I wore that entirely too-neon yellow outfit and one of the eight graders asked if I could "Flick the switch to off."  

So that's it!  Now go take over Hollywood.  

PS:  While we're talking advice and fashion:  Never wear mauve to a ball.  Or pink.  Or open your mouth.  (whoever gets this reference, gets a cookie.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


On Friday, I took a jazz class at the world-famous Millennium Dance Complex in glamorous North Hollywood, California.  (Seriously, the place is famous: Brittany, Miley, all the girls whose names end in “y”, train there.)

Here’s how it went down: 

My fifteen year-old, Irish step-dancing cousin was in town and wanted to take a class there and asked if I would take it with her.  The idea terrified me, so I knew I had to do it.   I went, I tried, I sucked.  It was AWESOME. 

In a previous life, I busted a sweet move or two on my high school dance team.  (Crossing fingers that video of that never surfaces…) I stopped dancing my Freshman year at UCSB, due to a really awful back injury (I wore a sweet back brace for my first 8 months of college – made me VERY popular with the boys). 

It crushed me that I had to stop dancing.  But here’s the truth:  I was not a great dancer.  I loved it and I could do some advanced turns and leaps but I wasn’t a natural talent – I wasn’t going to move audiences with my moves.  I certainly was never going to go pro.

And once I stopped dancing, I found film.  And film felt like home.  And film was easier on my back and my knees and my hips…

I still love dance.  Still miss it.  Still watch 'So You Think You Can Dance' and tear up in awe of what the human body can do.  And I still bust a move to Nicky Menag in my office when I need a writing break… 

But I’ve found that film and dance have a lot in common.   They both boil down to visuals and sound working together to tell a story and evoke emotion.  When I sit in the editing room, I count the timing of the cuts – 1, 2, 3 and out and 1, 2 out, and 1…  Film has a rhythm.  

And now I’m jonesing to do a dance movie...  Breakin' 2 meets Footloose with a dash of Dirty Dancing, anyone? 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Look Books for Life

This week, I'm hovering over my computer, like always - but I am playing with images instead of words.

An example of one of the
lead character's hippie chic look... 
I am putting together a "Look Book," as a sort of audition for a directing job...  culling together images that inspire me and illustrate what exactly my version of the film will look like.   Thank god for Google and Flickr cause I cannot draw to save my life.  We considered including storyboards on the DVD extras for THE LAKE EFFECT but they all consisted of a box (the camera) and an attaced V (the lens)  pointing at circles (heads) with two attached semi-circles (shoulders) and little triangles (noses) indicating which way the heads were facing.

Despite my lack of art skills (note to self: take a freakin' drawing class), I find that directing work is an amazing compliment to writing - it's so tangible - so real world.  Finding the songs that sound like the film, building a wish list of who would star in the film, building physical elements makes going back in to do the more abstract world of writing easier for me...

Doing a little directing work is a great writing exercise... A writer should know what his or her movie looks and feels and sounds like - it may not end up that way in the end but maybe in the exploration you will find some details worth writing into the script... details that interest a director or actor... details that make the story jump off the page.

Hell, maybe making a look book is a good exercise for non-writers too! Everyone should build a look book for their life... like a virtual hope chest that you could visit when you've lost your way... or that you show to prospective employers or dates:  "My theme song is, "Where is My Mind" by The Pixies and here's what my unrealistically large place on the upper west side will look like... and here's Johnny Depp, he'll be playing the role of 'My Husband...'"

You may want to leave out that last part if you show it to a date who is not Johnny Depp.  

Monday, August 8, 2011


An open letter to fans, friends and family:

Dear You,

As you may remember, two summers ago, I worked on a little movie called THE LAKE EFFECT.  The film has enjoyed great success on the festival circuit, winning Best Feature and Audience Choice at the Moondance Fim Festival and Best Screenplay and Best Ensemble acting at The Phoenix Film Festival.  Here’s what people are saying about the film:
"(The Lake Effect is)...a classic American indie film... beautifully shot... wonderfully constructed; every character brings a different perspective on life and love to the film and they clash in wonderfully delicate, subtle ways. Smart, funny and tender, the dialogue is brought to life by nuanced performances from all the actors..." 
- Raindance Film Festival, London

"...a well acted and terrifically realized relationship dramedy..." 
- Film Threat 

Today, we are beginning our “QUEUE US” CAMPAIGN.   We need your help if we are going to get this movie seen! 

Netflix is waiting for enough people to have The Lake Effect in their queue for it to become officially "available" on their site.  If you queue it, it will come! PLEASE add THE LAKE EFFECT to your queue by going to: 

If you're still reading this (after you've added us to your queue), I also ask that you PLEASE pass this letter (or some version of it) on to ten friends who you think might be interested in this film.   Little films like this live only through word of mouth of people like you... 

We're so excited for everyone to finally be able to see what we've been working on for so long! 

The makers of THE LAKE EFFECT

PS: Here's our new cover art: 

Monday, August 1, 2011


Short and Sweet this morning, as I am about to get on a plane, headed home to LA from a whirlwind trip through New England and New York... 
We saw our amazing friends and family, got inspired, got a second draft in to Disney Channel, and hung out by a lake(not Lake Michigan, Lake Peekskill...).  Life is sweet -- especially because my little girl (not baby) turned two, reminding me how quickly it is going... which reminds me that it's been a while since we wrapped ye old Lake Effect... 

If I were you, reading this, I would be thinking: When the heck are we going to see this thing???

And if I were me writing this, I would be telling you: I have news!!!!  If you want to see THE LAKE EFFECT (in North America) you (finally) can!  

THE LAKE EFFECT will be available from Amazon, Osiris' website, and a couple of other online DVD sites!  

- Pre-orders start Sept 21st 
- Street date is Oct 18th. (I love, btw, that we have a "street date" -- I keep wanting to add "my movie's droppin' October 18th" - I know, lame.  I'll try to control myself).

By Sept/October, we will also know which retailers have picked it up (blockbuster, family video, etc.) and we should know about a TV deal by then too!

More information about the movie's availability to come in the next couple of weeks (including our new poster, thanks to our distributor!) so please keep checking back!