Dear Barrington,

Thank you for sharing your work at Amazon Studios.
It was a hard decision but unfortunately CHILDREN OF OTHERS was not
chosen as the winner of the Best Script Annual Award.
We have enjoyed seeing your work and getting to know you over the past year.
Thank you for your many contributions to the community.

We look forward to bringing you more opportunities to share
your work in the future.

Kind Regards,
Amazon Studios

It's okay. I'm okay. I am going to eat cookies though.


So, sometime tomorrow I will find out whether I won a hundred-thousand dollar Amazon studios Annual Awards prize…or not. It’s strange to think that right now I don’t know–the outcome seems so wide open, but by tomorrow night at this time, I will know–one way or the other.

My evening tonight got a little bit Paul-jacked, and I ended up watching last week’s Top Chef AND The Voice, but in a way it was good preparation to see so many people win, and so many others not make the cut. Whichever way things go for me tomorrow, I’m hardly alone in winning or losing and either way, I should be responsible for how the result impacts the course of my life. It’s very difficult for me to witness, even on TV, and now in my own life, but the truth is that the profession I’ve chosen is like this: they like the script, or they don’t, they buy a script or they don’t, the film gets a greenlight or it doesn’t, the box-office is good or it’s not. I don’t know how many rungs you’d have to climb up the ladder to escape the swings–I don’t think you can.

So my plan is, either way things go tomorrow, I’m going to write tomorrow night, and either way things go, I’m going to have pie.

(P.S. I did finish reading the last two scripts that are in the finals, Animal Heads and Origin of a Species. They were both really different from mine, and from each others. Animal Heads has an indie vibe, Origin of a species was a very crisp suspense movie that read really quickly.)

All About Me! (An Amazon Studios Post)

So this week’s Amazon Studios blog has been dedicated to profiles about the various finalists for the annual awards. Today’s is about me. Writing answers to questionnaires can call up a fair amount second guessing…should I try to be funny? Should I play it straight? I mostly did the latter, and that is pretty much what they printed.

One of my more “humorous” answers was a ploy for Amazon studios to give finalists (or just me) a Kindle DX as a consolation prize if we don’t win, which I’m still secretly hoping for even though they didn’t print that part… If I DO win, I’ll buy one for myself–re-investing in the company!

Back to not thinking about it now…

The Weekend

Not half bad.
Friday: I made progress on my office–the hallway is full of more candidates for the garage sale.

Saturday: The afore mentioned animated gif class and lunch with friends too long neglected. Game night at our neighbors’. We played Dune, a pretty involved game, which thankfully only took three hours–it can take much longer! I don’t spend as much time as Paul gaming, but when I do, I realize why games might appeal to so many writers–how playing games can make you more aware in terms of twists and turns and strategies.

I was interested to find that Dune has an element where the circular board is divided into section, and a storm moves around these sections in a not entirely randomized manner. It immediate made me think of a similar device used in The Hunger Games trilogy. Obviously, the book is about a “game” as well, but I have a feeling that more examples could be found. Strategy games are about maneuvering yourself out of bad situations and into better ones by pursuing resources and alliances and fighting battles etc. What else is about those things? Stories, of course. And also life.

Sunday, I rode the 105 bus for the first time to a friend’s book signing in West Hollywood. The bus travels north and south on La Cienega, which is a fairly major street with many shops that it would be good to have access to without having to park, so that was a cool discovery.

And, over the course of the three days, I read Gideon’s Law. (If you follow the link, you can download a PDF.) It’s the story of a cop who gets assigned a ride-along from hell. It has elements of movie Collateral and the series 24. I found it easy to read because the writing was so fluid though some of the logistics became confusing or incredible here and there. I thought the writer did good work adding complications, ratcheting up the stakes. I was tense and engaged for much of the read.

Reading this script made me think about the costs and benefits of ramping up action quickly. There were just a couple of quick scenes at the beginning with the protagonist (Shane Gideon) and his girlfriend/partner before she is taken hostage and his whole world changes, which isn’t a lot of time to establish relationships and the essence of a character. But it’s good, especially for the genre, to get right into the action and the main conflict. I thought the writer did a nice job of short-handing the the Shane’s “problem” of having–at least in the perception of others–screwed up on the job so that he is being ostracized by the other cops. There is an arc whereby the opinions of those people do change by the end. But I’m not sure there was a clear character arc for Shane himself. I don’t necessarily believe that every main character has to change–but I think the readers/audience usually know whether that should happen. In the cases where it should, we hope or fear that the main character will change. Not always. We don’t really hope for James Bond to change. We do, however, hope that Jamie Foxx’s character in Collateral can change. We enjoy seeing him become less passive and more active in his own life. In order to do this he’s set up at the beginning as more a dreamer than a do-er. This is where I wasn’t entirely clear about Shane. Does he agree with everyone else that he messed up, and it’s eating away at him? Or does he believe he made the right call somehow? And I wonder what he would have done if his life had followed its normal course. Was he hoping to to win back favor somehow? Or just ignore the animosity? Or was he considering quitting his job or requesting a transfer?

Especially in early drafts of Children of Others, I’ve fielded similar questions–what is it that Skylar wants? I’ve always wanted her to have some ambivalence about having a child–but that’s a hard picture to paint without the colors getting muddy. Even now, as I prepare to go into a rewrite, I’m trying to add to the specifics of her situation and her character. Was she someone who was fun and adventurous before she got embroiled in years of infertility treatments and lost a pregnancy and became so fearful of loss? I’m also thinking about here husband, Dillon, and now–new and exciting!– I’m thinking about the background of the “doctors” who create the hybrid baby inside her, because I think they will need to play a bigger part in the new draft.

I’m probably thinking of all of this even more right now because I’m reading a book called The Art of Dramatic Writing, by Lagos Egri, which is really excellent so far, but perhaps a subject better for another post.

Amazon: Final Five

Just a little update: I’m in the final five for the Annual Best Script award at Amazon Studios. The announcement happened earlier this week. My “don’t think about it” strategy was thwarted by a few things: said announcement, papers that arrived for me to sign, and the email from a freelance writer hired to do a profile piece on each of the finalists. The email included a list of questions for me to answer like, “how old are you?” “what’s your day job?” and “”what was the most difficult thing about writing your script.” The profiles will be published on the Amazon blog starting on Monday. As much as I wasn’t a fan of filling out my own questionnaire, I have to say I’m really interested to read about the other writers.

I also want to read everyone’s script before the announcement on February 7. Yesterday and today I read the first one, I Think My Facebook Friend is Dead which was really a fun concept and read. It reminded me some of Scott Pilgrim vs The World, in ways that were mostly good. I liked the device of the Farmville farm, and the exploration of relationships as they move from the virtual world into the real world. It got a little episodic-feeling in some places–but then so did Scott Pilgrim, and probably so does my script–When I read scripts and see a flaw, I mentally go back over my own work and often see the very same problems.

Gideon’s Law is next. Let you know.