Script Research: Rock Star Biographies & Memoirs

I'm in the research stage for a script and want to read a few biographies and memoirs of rock stars. I'm looking for ideas, anecdotes and a glimpse into the rock star lifestyle. I reached out to my Facebook and Twitter friends and asked what they thought were the best books in this category and I got a number of great responses.

For anyone needing to do similar research, or if you're just interested in something new to read, here are the rock bios my friends gave two metal horns up. \m/

Lists number of votes received if more than one:

Right out of the gate, I want to read Just KidsNo One Here Gets Out Alive, and Motley Crüe: The Dirt - Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band (because who in their right mind could resist that title). I'm also pretty fascinated by Touching from a Distance because I'd never heard of Joy Division and the person who recommended that book is hella cool.

Thank you to everyone who contributed their ideas to this list.  If you have other suggestions, please add them to the comments below. Thanks!

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Please note: I provided links for each title so you could get more information. I tried to link to the least expensive version of the book wherever possible, which in most cases was the Kindle version. If you buy a book through one of these links, please be sure to double-check the version you're buying (e.g. Kindle vs Paperback) to be sure you get the one you want. Happy reading!

Cheers to the Writers Who Pitched at Screenwriters World!

(excerpt from on my January 2012 email newsletter) Last month, I volunteered to help run the pitching sessions at the Screenwriters World Conference 2012 in NYC. This was my first pitching event, and if these events are new to you, too, then the following is basically how this one worked.

Over 100 screenwriters came to pitch their work to film & TV execs and talent managers hoping to get a request to send in their script to be read. Since most top production and management companies will only read your work if you are referred to them by a trusted source, a pitching event is a chance to bypass the usual rules and get your ideas directly to those who can help get them produced.

The screenwriters pitched their projects to the reps one after the other, trying to connect with as many reps as they could over a period of four hours. It was without question an endurance challenge for those pitching, for those hearing pitches and even for us volunteers trying to keep it all running smoothly. In the end, I heard stories of varying amounts of success from both sides of the table, but no one I spoke to said their day hadn't been well spent. Hail Mary passes were thrown that day and I hope some of them were caught and new careers were born.

Hats off to everyone who participated in the event, and as a volunteer, I learned a ton about pitching and it was definitely a cool way to spend a Saturday.

(addendum to the newsletter excerpt)

In a nutshell, what I learned about pitching: For those who are planning to pitch someday, the key seemed to be preparation, mostly to achieve a very concise and very clear pitch. More than any other concern, those hearing pitches struggled most with pitches where they couldn't detect the genre and were confused by story and character details. Keep the pitch short and very clear, focusing on your best hook or two, and then be prepared for follow up questions. A strong hook minus any confusing details seems to be a great way to start building your pitch.

"Vivienne Again" is Alive on Facebook!

I'm thrilled to announce the page for my short film, "Vivienne Again," is now on Facebook. The timing of this launch isn't random - it comes with big news. I've just landed an amazing producer for the film: Award-winning filmmaker, producer, author and former Sundance short film programmer Roberta Marie Munroe! Please check out the page and "Like" it to stay in the loop. Our Facebook page will be the main source for the latest updates on the film and a full website with in-depth information will be coming soon.

Thanks for your support and I can't wait to share more news about the film.

Script Research: Films About Ghosts and the Supernatural

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I'm in the early stages of outlining a new script and I want to start watching movies in the same genre for research. I asked friends on Facebook and Twitter for recommendations of ghost or supernatural movies that are must-sees. I received so many great responses that I decided to share them here. Thanks to everyone who chimed in!

Lists number of votes received if more than one:

And if someone had asked me the same question, I would have said The Others, The Sixth Sense, Poltergeist, The Shining and, of course, Ghostbusters (who ya gonna call?).

If you have other suggestions, please add them to the comments. Thanks!

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

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.

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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.