Monday, May 7, 2007

Screenplayinaday.com

I'm officially out on a limb. Nothing ventured really, just that spare brain power that has been idle? since I quit drinking. Things are processed differently upstairs lately.

I went to a five-hour seminar on screenplay writing. Not because I want to write them, but because there was a screenplay writing seminar in RENO! In these latest endeavors, one theme keeps repeating. And for the sake of simile-within-a-metaphor or some such b.s. descriptor. . .

Before I left at 8 a.m., I peeked into my notes from the Kerrville songwriting school I attended in '99. In my notes was written this horrible simile, that songwriting is "like an old cat having kittens. You just go do it." I'm pretty sure Ray Wylie Hubbard blessed us with this strange image. Echoes of this recently came up when I met, conversed, attempted to play songs for one of my songwriting heroes, Eric Taylor. "How do you write a play?" he retorted in response to someone asking about his craft. "You write a play. Then you write another."

I learned a lot about screenplays and film structure this morning. Then, just to keep it all flowing, I went to the art museum and checked out the Warhol exhibit. Then tonight I watched Coppola's 1974 film, The Conversation. I guess it affirmed I'm more interested in cinematography than scripting or actors. Of course, what's the point if the story or the actors suck?

Sreenplayinaday may have suffered from the 8-compressed-to-5 hour schedule. These guys were good and I enjoyed their interaction with each other as much as the content. Anyway, it was a lot less money and time to spend than my upcoming trip to Texas, but one thing has become clear: seminars like these are to help people get started doing something they have in their mind to do. Not to make you do it. Perhaps the content is useful, but really, it's being around all those similar people that is of most value. Yeah, like an old cat having kittens, we should all just go off somewhere and do it. Do what it is our heart or minds or whatever, but it is SO much easier said than done. Does wearing Nike shoes and the implicit slogan make you a championship athlete, or by 'just do it' are you just buying overpriced but culturally recognized as 'good' shoes?

'Just go do it' when coming from one who has 'done it' is a way to avoid discussion and the intimicacy of 'what is it like for you, so that I can acquire insight and learn things that may help me?' I'm skeptical of simplicity.

Like Guy Clark says about Townes Van Zandt: "he did it [wrote songs] with hard fuckin' work." The creative work, the struggle with self, the display for public critique; it's pretty hard fuckin' work. Especially when, in contrast, you're a trained professional where success and achievement are measured quite simply by the effectiveness of your performance. Shit, that counts for all of educational measure of excellence as well. I should have taken more art classes.

It's nice that these are the things that I worry about. So I'll end here with a contemplative smile and a glance upward.

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