From Mammoths to Music - the Journey Continues

As I've mentioned before, this business is not for the thin skinned. I've completed two projects over the last year, both of which now find themselves in the same boat - waiting for a buyer.

The first was a feature length screenplay called Lift which I wrote with the talented writer Andy P. Wagner. This action/adventure story based on actual events follows a paleobiologist from a small, northeastern university as she tries to extract the heaviest woolly mammoth that's ever been found from the harsh climate of Siberia, using the largest helicopter that's ever been produced.

Needless to say it's a considerable challenge for our hero Patricia, and she faces a number of demons - both external and internal - on her quest. Does she make it? If we can get a studio to make it you'll find out.

The second project is a new TV show that combines the popularity of travel shows with the passion of live music. FestQuest, which as of today you can read more about here, takes viewers to a different music festival each episode and gives them an exclusive backstage pass so they can learn everything they need to know before they go. Type of music, how to get there, lodging options, food/drink, family-friendly or adults only, ticket prices and more.

Everyone I've talked to loves the concept behind FestQuest. But, as the saying goes, this and $3 will get you a cup of coffee. We've only just started promoting it so who knows what will happen. I believe in the project and think it can be profitable. I just need to get someone else to think that too. Fingers crossed and what not.

Special thanks to the FestQuest crew - Brock Sherman, Rachel Hroncich, Seth Reber and Lynn Ehmann for everything they did to get us this far. I couldn't have asked for a better group.

More special thanks to CJ Ryan and the crew at the Deep Roots Mountain Revival for letting us roam around their event pretty much unchecked and get our festival feet wet. Many times during the weekend part of me wished I wasn't working and could just enjoy the festival like those around me - and man were they enjoying it. It's a special event held at a special place. If you're anywhere close to Marvin's Mountaintop the weekend of July 20-22 I highly recommend checking it out.

Mammoths, music, making a go of it. Even if nothing comes of any of this - and god I hate typing that - it's been a hell of a ride. Thanks for reading.

Knowing What You Don't Know

I've been at this screenwriting thing for close to ten years. I've attended numerous classes, lectures, seminars, workshops, etc. I've read numerous books, articles, and blog posts. Despite this, in no way, shape or form do I consider myself anything close to an 'expert'.

Writing for the big screen is a tricky thing. Hollywood legend William Goldman probably said it best, “Nobody knows anything...... Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what's going to work. Every time out it's a guess and, if you're lucky, an educated one.”

Despite this, writers would be foolish not to try to improve their skills, hone their craft, learn from those who have gone before them. That said, you have to approach any opportunity with some degree of caution. Whenever I hear of an educational opportunity the first thing I do is check the background of the person leading it. Have they done anything to grant them expert status? Too often the answer is 'no.'

This is not the case with a seminar coming to Phoenix next month. The Screenwriter's Breakthrough Weekend, to be held August 13-14 at the Phoenix Airport Marriott, is being led by someone who has walked the walk. Jeff Schimmel has been working in LA as a writer and producer for more than 25 years.

I've attended a handful of Jeff's classes in the past - Phoenix writers have been the beneficiary of Jeff having family here and therefore frequent visits. I keep going for one reason. I always learn something new. Always.

Jeff is known for being brutally honest. Some people don't like this. I mentioned before that I'm not an expert but I know one thing - if you can't handle harsh realities about how incredibly hard it is to achieve success in this brutally competitive industry then you are in for a very disappointing, probably very short career.

Two days in August - one for writers of all levels interested in creating story for the big screen, the other for accomplished writers with at least one finished script. I have no doubt that both days will be eye-opening, enlightening and hopefully inspiring. If you're reading this, and you write, you should attend.