Do You Bring a Hostess Gift for a Guest Blog Post?

Several weeks ago, I had the great pleasure of meeting Jon Reiss, filmmaker and author of Think Outside the Box Office. He asked me what I was working on, and of the different projects I described, the one that really caught his attention was Scriptchat. With much enthusiasm, and the flailing hands I tend to use while talking, I told him about Scriptchat's origin, what we've accomplished as of today and our dreams for where we're heading. Jon felt there were lessons about community-building on Twitter that could be learned from our experience and that his own audience of filmmakers could benefit. He invited me to guest blog on his site and I of course jumped at the opportunity. You can find my piece "Building a Dedicated (and Rocking) Twitter Community" on Jon's site.

Please give it a read and leave your comments. Thanks!

Scriptchat in Script Mag is Script-Frakkin-Tastic!

In this same week as the Braven Films announcement, there's now fun news about one of my side projects: The fabulous Twitter Scriptchat gets a nice mention in the September/October issue of Script magazine! Thanks to my awesome #treefort pals for taking me on this crazy ride. Today, Script mag, tomorrow the world!

Yes, that's John August mentioned on the same page. Now that's script-frakkin-tastic!

P.S. All uses of the term "frak" are credited to Jane Espenson (a former scriptchat guest) and her amazing Battlestar Gallactica-writing colleagues for reviving such a great word. Cuz really, where the fuck (oh wait, frak) would we be without BSG.

If the Treefort's a Rockin'

Growing up in Manhattan, there weren’t a whole lot of tree forts. There must have been a few wealthy families who had them in their tony backyards, but I didn’t grow up with those families. I grew up with the kids who played in the West side rail yards, and while the rail yard offered its own homeless enclave meets drug den charm, it was no tree fort. I still live in Manhattan and now, well into adulthood, I finally have a tree fort, and this one is so chic it comes with a hashtag. The #treefort is a collective of the five people who founded Twitter Scriptchat, and while our fort may be virtual, our commitment to each other is as serious as a 12-year-old boy’s love for cigarettes and girlie mags.

Each week, the #treefort pals climb into our (virtual) private hideaway, and after a healthy session of gossiping and playing catch-up, we come up with a game plan for another week of #scriptchat and tequila-drinking fun.

Since #scriptchat has grown from an hourly event each week to a daily online hangout for screenwriters, we realized it was time to pull up the canvas shades and let you peek inside to meet the folks who inhabit a tree fort so big it stretches from Los Angeles to London, yet so small it holds only five people. We’re still not going to tell you what we talk about in there, because those are the secrets we pinky swore to take to our graves, but we are ready to get a little more formal and a little more public about who we are, where we came from and what we’re writing.

Check out the first official #treefort bios and meet five adults who wanted a screenwriters’ playspace so badly they broke out the hammers, nails and two-by-fours and with their bare hands built #scriptchat.

Links #Treefort Bios Scriptchat Blog

 

The #Treefort on Twitter Jeanne Veillette Bowerman ... @jeannevb Mina Zaher ... @DreamsGrafter Zac Sanford ... @zacsanford Jamie Livingston ... @yeah_write Kim Garland ... @kim_garland

Social Networking Cooties: Put Your Pitch Back in Your Pants

Last Saturday, I attended the DIY Days conference, a gathering geared predominantly to filmmakers, but drawing folks from the “creative” community at-large. From the agenda, I saw there would be a lot of talk about Social Media. I unabashedly groove on Social Media, particularly social networking, and I planned to attend any session that had those words in the title, in the description, or even if the presenter was simply an active user on Twitter, because that’s just how I roll.

I arrived at the conference, on a sunny, NYC morning, ready for a love-fest among those who refer to themselves by their usernames and end their conversations in hashtags. I even had my Twitter username on my name tag.

I quickly discovered, as I casually hid my “Hello, my name is @KageyNYC,” that just because you’re “a creative,” doesn’t mean you’re automatically a social networking nerd. In fact, I was surprised by how much confusion, and even animosity, there was from a lot of attendees about how to build and maintain a following through social networking. A love-fest it was not, but it was definitely a learning experience.

At one session, an attendee expressed with great hostility that people on Twitter are liars (her word) and douchebags (my word, but it does sum up much of what she said).

Why would you think this? the session presenter asked her.  Because, she began, I signed up for Twitter to promote… She said a lot of things after that but my mind kept hearing those words over and over again: I signed up for Twitter to promote.

Whatever you’ve heard about Twitter or Facebook or YouTube being great tools for promoting your wares, feel free to throw all of that away. Attacking these sites as cheap and easy marketing channels is approaching them from completely the wrong angle. Instead of cheap and easy you’re going to get frustrating and useless.

photo  credit:  G & A Sattler

It’s called “social” for a reason. Have you ever walked into a party, not a networking event, a party, and handed out your brochure? Going into a social networking environment and thinking everyone is just there to be a receptacle for your pitch is the same thing. It’s all kinds of yuck and people are going to break out the Purell after they shake your hand.

So how do you begin?

Be a person first, a promoter second. If you can join Twitter or share videos or blog about your ideas before you’re ready to promote anything, do that right now. Work out the kinks, be brave and be friendly, all before you start telling people what you want them to do. Most people want to help someone they think is nice or interesting or funny, so be one of those. If you can combine two, you’ll be a hit.  If you’re all three, I might have some single friends for you.

A lot of people at DIY Days also asked what they should blog about or tweet. They didn’t want to tweet what they had for breakfast or post a Facebook status about their kid’s soccer game. So don’t. Oh please, don’t.

Share the passion that drives your pitch, but don’t start with the actual pitch. Not how you need to raise money, or sell your script or novel, or get butts in seats, but how you came to love film or literature or music. About what you’re reading that pisses you off. What you’re thinking that keeps you up late working on your craft. What you argue when you try to convince someone that a creative life is the greatest life there is.

Find people who get all hot-and-bothered about similar ideas. Listen and share. If you genuinely like them, you’ll find you’re quick to promote their projects when they coolly slide them into conversation. And if you drew them in with your personality, and didn’t scare them away with your marketing, they absolutely will do the same thing for you.

Your First Screenplay Will Most Likely Blow

Writers, by nature, are an optimistic folk; don’t let the hard-drinking, depressive reputation fool you. Writers aren’t depressed, why would they be? They have one of the few occupations that are pants-optional. The drinking part, yeah, that’s true. But we’re happy, pantsless drunks… the best kind.

writers_drinking
writers_drinking

So one day – optimistic, pantsless, drink firmly in hand – I asked a group of screenwriters on Twitter if it mattered what I wrote about in my first feature-length screenplay. Should I focus on a genre that sold well in the spec market? Should I ensure my main character was a white male, which would make the script easier to sell than a non-white male or a female lead? In essence, should I listen to the chatter about what sells and what doesn’t?

And that’s when this nugget of advice came my way from screenwriter Geoff LaTulippe. Geoff said, it doesn’t matter what you write about because your first screenplay will most likely blow.

Excuse me?

Dear God, I almost spilled my drink.

Did he just say, my screenplay, which I hadn’t even written yet, was going to blow?

Well, that didn’t sound optimistic.

I took a long swig from my martini and thought about all the screenwriting books I’d read, the screenwriting classes I’d taken and the countless conversations I’d had about structure and character and story. I then realized two things: 1) I still had no idea how to write a screenplay and; 2) the goal for my first screenplay should be to learn how to write a screenplay.

That was it, so simple. Geoff had set me free.

Not free from putting in the time and the sweat to write the screenplay. Not free from gathering feedback on my work and rewriting and rewriting and rewriting. Not even free from caring so much my heart will break if I can’t make this script sing. But free from giving a damn about what anyone else believes is a worthy topic or a worthy person to write about.

The beauty of being a novice is I don’t have to worry about making money from this script or where it will fit into the market. This is my time to take pleasure in the process of writing and creating and learning. It would be a shame to miss out on the freedom of being a student by being overly concerned with how I’m going to go pro.

Geoff has since told me I should never write to market trends and should always write about the people and the stories that drive me to create my best work. This seems like solid advice and I’ll chew on it… but right now, I have a screenplay to write. And to finish.

One final point, lest you think I’m setting off now to write a really shitty screenplay and love it, don’t forget I said writers are eternal optimists. As much as I truly believe Geoff’s words, as much as I’m going to use his advice to spur me on to working harder and with more determination, I can’t help but keep in mind that he said my first screenplay will “most likely” blow. Because the flipside is, there’s still a tiny chance that my screenplay will totally fucking rock.