To the neighbor(s) below me: I don’t apologize.
You should expect that during a Saturday night in November. If you can’t handle a little noise, move to a state that doesn’t follow football. I’d look into Maine or Alaska.
My beloved Ducks blew their chance at a national championship this weekend. And I’m still not over it.
Oregon doesn’t lose very often, so when they do, it’s a horrific and painful experience.
In a sad attempt to find a silver lining, I’ve decided to use myself as a guinea pig to identify the stages of sports grief. These are in no particular order.
Stage 1: Immediate rage
Oregon’s kicker misses another field goal, essentially giving Stanford the win. My reaction? Spiking my phone to the ground, shattering the case around it. Miraculously, the phone remains in fine working order. This stage is repeated when Oregon finds a way to botch a fumble recovery on the following possession.
Stage 2: This isn’t real
Stanford’s kicker drills the game-winning field goal in overtime. My reaction? That didn’t actually go in, did it? Let’s see if the referees stick their hands in the air. It’s good? There has to be a penalty. Where’s the flag? No flag? Did Oregon call a timeout? Stanford’s rushing the field? Isn’t that something? Shouldn’t that negate the kick for excessive celebration? Man, this announcer is going to look silly after the ref takes away the field goal. Wait, what? The game’s over? Just like that? I bet the league reviews this and finds that Oregon actually won.
Stage 3: The sky is falling
Well, now that Oregon blew their chance at a national championship, why should I even watch? Who cares if they find a way to win the PAC-12 Championship and Rose Bowl? That’s old hat. Lesser bowls don’t even matter. It’s all about the national championship. I bet Chip leaves after this season, the Ducks hire some idiot, and end up being the worst team in college football. I’ll bet Oregon goes 0-12 next year. This was their one chance. I should just give up watching college football altogether.
Stage 4: I never cared anyways
I actually don’t even really care about college football or the Ducks. It’s just a silly game that I watch to kill the time. My life is so much more important than this. I’m a successful scholar with a hot wife and a furry cat. Even if the Ducks lose every game, I shouldn’t care. I’m a winner. Sports are lame. I should just sit in my office in an over-sized leather chair, drinking scotch, smoking cigars, and reading important books. I should go buy all of that stuff right now. Even if the Ducks win a national championship, who cares? Not me. I have books, cigars, and scotch.
Stage 5: Pointing the finger
Ya know what? I don’t care, but it’s just ridiculous that they should have won. If it weren’t for that guy not recovering that fumble, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. It’s totally his fault. He should be ashamed. He shouldn’t be able to sleep at night.
Actually, you know what? They shouldn’tve had to rely on that fumble. If it weren’t for that guy not making a block, they would’ve blown ‘em out. He should be ashamed. He shouldn’t be able to sleep at night.
Actually, you know what? What was with that play calling? If the coach would’ve called some decent plays, they would’ve blown ‘em out. The coach should be ashamed. He shouldn’t be able to sleep at night.
Actually, you know what? The coach called bad plays because he was cursed. If it weren’t for that one girl posting that thing about the last time they went to the national championship on facebook, they woud’ve blown ‘em out. She should be ashamed. She shouldn’t be able to sleep at night.
Stage 6: False hope
Now that I think about it, it’s alright that they lost that game. Because if X team loses and Y team wins and Z team finds a way to do this, THEY’RE BACK IN. That’s totally possible. Actually, it’s more than possible. I’d bet my house on it. That’s totally gonna happen. Wow, I can’t believe I was even worried. They’re finnnnne.
Stage 7: Vengeance
Look at these Oregon State fans out here, gloating over Oregon’s loss. I hope Oregon beats them 116-0 on Saturday. That’ll show ‘em. Then I’ll personally ride into Corvallis and tell every single Beaver fan that Oregon State is terrible. That’ll show ‘em.
You know what else? I’m taking the day off work so I can play Stanford and Oregon State on NCAA Football the video game and beat them 296-0 over and over and over again. That’ll show ‘em. I’ll post photos of what the score should have been on facebook, twitter, and instagram. And then I’ll get on message boards. They’ll be sorry that they laughed when Oregon lost.
Stage 8: Moving on
Well, shoot. Oregon lost. Tough break. Hopefully they beat Oregon State. The Fiesta Bowl isn’t really that bad. I’d love to watch the Ducks take on Kansas State. That’d be an entertaining game. And who knows, maybe I’ll have a few bucks to travel down to the game with some friends. I wouldn’t have the money to go to Miami. But either way, if the dominoes fall and the Ducks play in the national championship, that’d be cool. If they end up in the Fiesta or Rose Bowl, that’d be cool too.
Let’s start by beating Oregon State.
Thinking about writing isn’t writing.
Reading about writing isn’t writing.
Talking about writing isn’t writing.
Complaining about writing isn’t writing.
Attending a workshop about writing isn’t writing.
Watching a TED Talk on writing isn’t writing.
Dressing like you’re a writer writing isn’t writing.
Making fun of another writer’s writing isn’t writing.
Buying a new Moleskine for writing isn’t writing.
Only writing is writing.
And it’s hard.
passion > fundamentals
expression > execution
iteration > perfection
raw > polish
movement > stagnant
on to the next one.
A few weeks ago, the KS12 creative director mentioned a memo from David Mamet on writing. I hadn’t heard of it, but I googled it and had to post it.
It’s kind of funny, because Mamet created this show called “The Unit” which aired for all of 4 seasons. As a creator/director/whatever for this series he sent out a letter to his team of writers that resonates with me, but must not have saved his show.
Anyways, it’s in all caps, which makes everything better.
Note: I’ve edited the “colorful” language with brackets and put my favorite parts in bold.
"TO THE WRITERS OF THE UNIT
AS WE LEARN HOW TO WRITE THIS SHOW, A RECURRING PROBLEM BECOMES CLEAR.
THE PROBLEM IS THIS: TO DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN *DRAMA* AND NON-DRAMA. LET ME BREAK-IT-DOWN-NOW.
EVERYONE IN CREATION IS SCREAMING AT US TO MAKE THE SHOW CLEAR. WE ARE TASKED WITH, IT SEEMS, CRAMMING A [BUTT]LOAD OF *INFORMATION* INTO A LITTLE BIT OF TIME.
OUR FRIENDS. THE PENGUINS, THINK THAT WE, THEREFORE, ARE EMPLOYED TO COMMUNICATE *INFORMATION* — AND, SO, AT TIMES, IT SEEMS TO US.
BUT NOTE:THE AUDIENCE WILL NOT TUNE IN TO WATCH INFORMATION. YOU WOULDN’T, I WOULDN’T. NO ONE WOULD OR WILL. THE AUDIENCE WILL ONLY TUNE IN AND STAY TUNED TO WATCH DRAMA.
QUESTION:WHAT IS DRAMA? DRAMA, AGAIN, IS THE QUEST OF THE HERO TO OVERCOME THOSE THINGS WHICH PREVENT HIM FROM ACHIEVING A SPECIFIC, *ACUTE* GOAL.
SO: WE, THE WRITERS, MUST ASK OURSELVES *OF EVERY SCENE* THESE THREE QUESTIONS.
1) WHO WANTS WHAT?
2) WHAT HAPPENS IF HER DON’T GET IT?
3) WHY NOW?
THE ANSWERS TO THESE QUESTIONS ARE LITMUS PAPER. APPLY THEM, AND THEIR ANSWER WILL TELL YOU IF THE SCENE IS DRAMATIC OR NOT.
IF THE SCENE IS NOT DRAMATICALLY WRITTEN, IT WILL NOT BE DRAMATICALLY ACTED.
THERE IS NO MAGIC FAIRY DUST WHICH WILL MAKE A BORING, USELESS, REDUNDANT, OR MERELY INFORMATIVE SCENE AFTER IT LEAVES YOUR TYPEWRITER. *YOU* THE WRITERS, ARE IN CHARGE OF MAKING SURE *EVERY* SCENE IS DRAMATIC.
THIS MEANS ALL THE “LITTLE” EXPOSITIONAL SCENES OF TWO PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT A THIRD. THIS BUSHWAH (AND WE ALL TEND TO WRITE IT ON THE FIRST DRAFT) IS LESS THAN USELESS, SHOULD IT FINALLY, GOD FORBID, GET FILMED.
IF THE SCENE BORES YOU WHEN YOU READ IT, REST ASSURED IT *WILL* BORE THE ACTORS, AND WILL, THEN, BORE THE AUDIENCE, AND WE’RE ALL GOING TO BE BACK IN THE BREADLINE.
SOMEONE HAS TO MAKE THE SCENE DRAMATIC. IT IS NOT THE ACTORS JOB (THE ACTORS JOB IS TO BE TRUTHFUL). IT IS NOT THE DIRECTORS JOB. HIS OR HER JOB IS TO FILM IT STRAIGHTFORWARDLY AND REMIND THE ACTORS TO TALK FAST. IT IS *YOUR* JOB.
EVERY SCENE MUST BE DRAMATIC. THAT MEANS: THE MAIN CHARACTER MUST HAVE A SIMPLE, STRAIGHTFORWARD, PRESSING NEED WHICH IMPELS HIM OR HER TO SHOW UP IN THE SCENE.
THIS NEED IS WHY THEY *CAME*. IT IS WHAT THE SCENE IS ABOUT. THEIR ATTEMPT TO GET THIS NEED MET *WILL* LEAD, AT THE END OF THE SCENE,TO *FAILURE* – THIS IS HOW THE SCENE IS *OVER*. IT, THIS FAILURE, WILL, THEN, OF NECESSITY, PROPEL US INTO THE *NEXT* SCENE.
ALL THESE ATTEMPTS, TAKEN TOGETHER, WILL, OVER THE COURSE OF THE EPISODE, CONSTITUTE THE *PLOT*.
ANY SCENE, THUS, WHICH DOES NOT BOTH ADVANCE THE PLOT, AND STANDALONE (THAT IS, DRAMATICALLY, BY ITSELF, ON ITS OWN MERITS) IS EITHER SUPERFLUOUS, OR INCORRECTLY WRITTEN.
YES BUT YES BUT YES BUT, YOU SAY: WHAT ABOUT THE NECESSITY OF WRITING IN ALL THAT “INFORMATION?”
AND I RESPOND “*FIGURE IT OUT*” ANY [IDIOT] WITH A BLUESUIT CAN BE (AND IS) TAUGHT TO SAY “MAKE IT CLEARER”, AND “I WANT TO KNOW MORE *ABOUT* HIM”.
WHEN YOU’VE MADE IT SO CLEAR THAT EVEN THIS BLUESUITED PENGUIN IS HAPPY, BOTH YOU AND HE OR SHE *WILL* BE OUT OF A JOB.
THE JOB OF THE DRAMATIST IS TO MAKE THE AUDIENCE WONDER WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. *NOT* TO EXPLAIN TO THEM WHAT JUST HAPPENED, OR TO*SUGGEST* TO THEM WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.
ANY [IDIOT], AS ABOVE, CAN WRITE, “BUT, JIM, IF WE DON’T ASSASSINATE THE PRIME MINISTER IN THE NEXT SCENE, ALL EUROPE WILL BE ENGULFED IN FLAME”
WE ARE NOT GETTING PAID TO *REALIZE* THAT THE AUDIENCE NEEDS THIS INFORMATION TO UNDERSTAND THE NEXT SCENE, BUT TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO WRITE THE SCENE BEFORE US SUCH THAT THE AUDIENCE WILL BE INTERESTED IN WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.
YES BUT, YES BUT YES *BUT* YOU REITERATE.
AND I RESPOND *FIGURE IT OUT*.
*HOW* DOES ONE STRIKE THE BALANCE BETWEEN WITHHOLDING AND VOUCHSAFING INFORMATION? *THAT* IS THE ESSENTIAL TASK OF THE DRAMATIST. AND THE ABILITY TO *DO* THAT IS WHAT SEPARATES YOU FROM THE LESSER SPECIES IN THEIR BLUE SUITS.
FIGURE IT OUT.
START, EVERY TIME, WITH THIS INVIOLABLE RULE: THE *SCENE MUST BE DRAMATIC*. it must start because the hero HAS A PROBLEM, AND IT MUST CULMINATE WITH THE HERO FINDING HIM OR HERSELF EITHER THWARTED OR EDUCATED THAT ANOTHER WAY EXISTS.
LOOK AT YOUR LOG LINES. ANY LOGLINE READING “BOB AND SUE DISCUSS…” IS NOT DESCRIBING A DRAMATIC SCENE.
PLEASE NOTE THAT OUR OUTLINES ARE, GENERALLY, SPECTACULAR. THE DRAMA FLOWS OUT BETWEEN THE OUTLINE AND THE FIRST DRAFT.
THINK LIKE A FILMMAKER RATHER THAN A FUNCTIONARY, BECAUSE, IN TRUTH, *YOU* ARE MAKING THE FILM. WHAT YOU WRITE, THEY WILL SHOOT.
HERE ARE THE DANGER SIGNALS. ANY TIME TWO CHARACTERS ARE TALKING ABOUT A THIRD, THE SCENE IS A CROCK OF [CRAP].
ANY TIME ANY CHARACTER IS SAYING TO ANOTHER “AS YOU KNOW”, THAT IS, TELLING ANOTHER CHARACTER WHAT YOU, THE WRITER, NEED THE AUDIENCE TO KNOW, THE SCENE IS A CROCK OF [CRAP].
DO *NOT* WRITE A CROCK OF [CRAP]. WRITE A RIPPING THREE, FOUR, SEVEN MINUTE SCENE WHICH MOVES THE STORY ALONG, AND YOU CAN, VERY SOON, BUY A HOUSE IN BEL AIR *AND* HIRE SOMEONE TO LIVE THERE FOR YOU.
REMEMBER YOU ARE WRITING FOR A VISUAL MEDIUM. *MOST* TELEVISION WRITING, OURS INCLUDED, SOUNDS LIKE *RADIO*. THE *CAMERA* CAN DO THE EXPLAINING FOR YOU. *LET* IT. WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERS *DOING* -*LITERALLY*. WHAT ARE THEY HANDLING, WHAT ARE THEY READING. WHAT ARE THEY WATCHING ON TELEVISION, WHAT ARE THEY *SEEING*.
IF YOU PRETEND THE CHARACTERS CANT SPEAK, AND WRITE A SILENT MOVIE, YOU WILL BE WRITING GREAT DRAMA.
IF YOU DEPRIVE YOURSELF OF THE CRUTCH OF NARRATION, EXPOSITION,INDEED, OF *SPEECH*. YOU WILL BE FORGED TO WORK IN A NEW MEDIUM – TELLING THE STORY IN PICTURES (ALSO KNOWN AS SCREENWRITING)
THIS IS A NEW SKILL. NO ONE DOES IT NATURALLY. YOU CAN TRAIN YOURSELVES TO DO IT, BUT YOU NEED TO *START*.
I CLOSE WITH THE ONE THOUGHT: LOOK AT THE *SCENE* AND ASK YOURSELF “IS IT DRAMATIC? IS IT *ESSENTIAL*? DOES IT ADVANCE THE PLOT?
IF THE ANSWER IS “NO” WRITE IT AGAIN OR THROW IT OUT. IF YOU’VE GOT ANY QUESTIONS, CALL ME UP.
LOVE, DAVE MAMET
SANTA MONICA 19 OCTO 05
(IT IS *NOT* YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO KNOW THE ANSWERS, BUT IT IS YOUR, AND MY, RESPONSIBILITY TO KNOW AND TO *ASK THE RIGHT Questions* OVER AND OVER. UNTIL IT BECOMES SECOND NATURE. I BELIEVE THEY ARE LISTED ABOVE.)”
That’s the ticket.
The KS12 Creative Director is serious about location scouting.
I spent the better part of my first day at KS12 exploring the toy shops of Portland. It was my first real taste of location scouting.
We lingered, met with managers, and squeezed some teddy bears. It was interesting to choose a location, but I took something else from the experience.
It’s invaluable to immerse yourself in a subject.
Insight matters when creating. And it isn’t always found on YouTube or Wikipedia. Creating what KS12 calls design fiction requires field research.
It was important for us to actually visit some toy stores.
Each of these shops had its own quirk. And every clerk had a story. These stories were important. They supported or tore down assumptions we’d made before visiting.
This experience could be the difference between reproducing tired clichés or creating something compelling.
I don’t usually comment on fashion trends and dress codes, but mustaches seem pretty hot right now.
I’ve been growing out my own strip of luxury until I land a job. Some question my sanity, but how can you argue with the ‘stache’s current track record?
Myself (33 likes)