Daily vitamin, or a short film

Three cheers to short films. Short films inspire. Short films frustrate. Short films worm their way into your unconscious and make you want to jump up and make your own. Either that, or they make you want to write, or travel, or have a good argument with your sweetie, or start a revolution. Don’t forget about short films, dear reader. Find short films at film festivals; find them at your nearest library; find them online! Here’s the trailer for my own short film FIND – the first film script I ever wrote – terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time. Write your script! Write your short story! Make your movie!

Last week, I saw a remarkable collection of short films at the Newport Beach Film Festival. These were startling, at times upsetting films, that gracefully and bravely explored the loves, losses and furies that drive the human heart. I found myself sitting in the dark thinking “I can’t take this!” (My version of “I love this!”) The program presented
The Future‘ – dir. Venetia Taylor, ‘Not Dark Yet‘ – dir. Brian Paccione, ‘Shirin’ – dir. Stephen Fingleton, ‘Charlotte’ – dir. Daniel Monks, ‘Neighbors’ – dir.Tracy Wren – and lastly our own ‘Praire Sonata‘, directed by Deborah LaVine. Three cheers to short films.

More inspiration for you – wait’ll you read the following – delicious:
Kurt Vonnegut on how to write a short story…..

1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.

2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.

3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.

4. Every sentence must do one of two things- reveal character or advance the action.

5.Start as close to the end as possible.

6. Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them – in order that the reader may see what they are made of.

7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

Love this!
T.S.

 

 

I’m learning to read

I have dear friends who read a novel a month; sometimes a novel a week. Both my parents are avid readers. My husband too – rips through books like they’re going out of style. They all happen to be great writers too. Which brings me to my personal lesson of the day (lesson of the year) …READ. Read more often, Tara! Read to enrich my mind, to increase my vocabulary, grow my perspective, expand my empathy, stretch my brain, broaden my imagination. This morning my favorite coffee shop dweller Jared Petrich told me that he spent his weekend reading John Steinbeck‘s East Of Eden. “Changed my life” he said. So guess what I’ll be reading this week (this month)….

Here are John Steinbeck’s “Six Tips on Writing”:

1. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. (Ha! Love this. -Editor.) Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.

2. Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.

3. Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person – a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.

4. If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it – bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave you trouble is because it didn’t belong there.

5. Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.

6. If you are using dialogue – say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.

Write on, dear brave Writers! Read, read, then write again! And on a quick break, I look forward to meeting with you here again, for my next blog post.
T.S.

 

 

I’m right there with you.

Dear Noble Writers.

I am your fan, your true-believer, your co-conspirator, your fellow-adventurer.
Here, I will share my thoughts and discoveries around writing, storytelling, filmmaking, and general Do-The-Scary-Thing living.
Read on. Write on. Go Us.

 

Article I finished today, to be published in the Pasadena Daily Photo:
***
It’s true, the story of an independent director-producer team could be set in any city – but for us it was Pasadena.  The filmmaking adventures of Jon Rannells and Tara Samuel are like a Family Circle map, dotting the Pasadena landscape: Cross these train tracks to a fundraising evening of short scenes at the Rialto; jump this fence and attend a publicity stunt balloon launch @ Lacy Park; run down this alleyway and find yourself at a wine & cheese screenplay reading at the Le Petit Vendome!

Our Film-Financing Coming Of Age story was set in Pasadena.

Curious about the balloon launch? But it’s obvious isn’t it? Jon and I decided that financing for his screenplay Dream Box could come from anywhere, including random places where balloons landed.  So we attached Dream Box “Evening of Short Scenes” invitations to balloons, launched the colorful carriers into the air and let fate take care of the rest. Would-be film financiers would find our charming postcards, and mark their calendars! Sit back and collect!

We knew of course that this savvy tactic would need to be complimented by door-to-door efforts. No face-to-face contact – not necessary – just your standard Dream Box Postcard gift bag – complete with Dream Box Pen – left on your lovely Pasadena front lawn. (Perhaps you dear reader are still in possession of one of these collector’s items.) Each unsuspecting  homeowner would be sure to light up at the sight of their bag, read the invitation, and be irresistibly drawn to us! Let the checks roll in!

Cut to the Rialto. Magical baroque setting, trademark sharp and original Jon Rannells script; intelligent and heartbreaking acting. Just a little low on audience members.

Cut to our next fundraiser – tucked behind Lake Ave. – hosted by the generous proprietors of the charming Le Petit Vendome! Never ones to give up – not ever – this event featured another outstanding screenplay written by Jon Rannells, “Stand the Gaff”. The setting was cozy and quaint. We were proud to be there. Just a little short on attendees.

And then, we ran out of patience. Waiting for a silly thing called a budget can get a filmmaker down. So we went into production. Held weekly candle-lit BBQ script readings in Jon’s backyard under the Pasadena stars. Selected our shooting dates. Borrowed everything. Made our first feature film – Ruby Booby – in the nooks and crannies of Pasadena. Now to fund the DVD prints, the festivals, the licensing…sigh…breathe…

My great awakening: Films need budgets. And the Independent Film Fundraiser in me will never die. Film-financing is a welcomed step; fence to jump;  river to scout – in the HOW on the way to the far greater WHY.  As my great friend John Sandel says: “These stories need to be released.” John introduced me to California poet Gary Snyder: “We call them stories because that’s where we store our wisdom.”

So a group that I co-founded, We Make Movies – we are raising funds for five remarkable films. This is the new Hollywood model. And you, dear reader, are a part of it. Have your Film Financing Coming Of Age Awakening with me. I dare you to join the ride. This is just the beginning… http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/wemakemovies/we-make-movies-slate-two?ref=live

Tara Samuel
www.scriptkicker.com

I’m the story consultant you’ve been looking for.

So glad you found me. I want to read your writing. Then I want to help you make your writing outstanding. Send me your writing.

What kind of writing you ask? What level of writing? All of it. This is my thing; it’s what I do. I love first-time writers; disillusioned or depressed writers; seasoned, award-winning writers. I love your poetry, your novels, your screenplays. I want to climb inside your writing and tap into its shine. I adore this process. Send me your writing and let’s make it as fully alive as it wants to be.

Why do I do this? I am immensely excited by writing. Fired up in my belly. About anyone’s writing. Don’t know why. You have lungs (at least one); I go bananas over writing. And I find ways for your reader / prospective producer to be irresistibly engaged and deeply-moved by your story. Even if it’s a comedy. I will kick your writing up ten notches. Kick it out of the small pond. Kick it through the goal posts. Kick it to the moon.  Elevate it to its highest potential. Make it Kickin’. I am your ScriptKicker.

Contact me. I am excited to work with you.
Click here to email me. I welcome any questions or comments!
Twitter:  @scriptkicker