March 12, 2012

The Script Breakdown Beatdown

In the past few weeks, our writing team has been slugging through some dark waters. We've been stuck on the Beat Sheets, constantly returning to the structure and deciding the action. We think we've made progress and then no... back to the drawing board. We are all feeling a little beaten down.

 No one has been sleeping well. We've been taking turns having heart palpitations and panic attacks. We've been cranky. We've had our feelings hurt. Our deliveries are huge, timelines are insane, and the ground continues to shift under our feet.

Over the past few days I've become aware that a massive lock-out has occurred in my brain, like a librarian has restricted certain shelves from me. I need this information! I need to be sharp and witty because that's my edge man. Without that, I'm just cute. And that's just not good enough. That's why I started swearing when I was six. I needed some personal space.

For TEN FULL MINUTES I could not for the life of me remember this woman's name:

My brain kept thinking Barbra Walters, like the little man in my head working the control panel was drunk or just couldn't give a shit. "Uh... pretty sure it's Barbra Walters."  NO! I could see her face and hear her voice. I watch her show. I love this woman and I seriously had to google "celebrity apprentice winner" to recall JOAN RIVERS. This is not a good sign.

Being "slightly" neurotic, this information lock-out is all I can focus on. How long before I start wearing crocs and moo-moos and take courses titled "Unlocking the Muse" ? Are script babies like real babies? Will my mind be forever changed by this process? Could it make me taller?

To cope, I'm meditating. I'm trying to find sleep. I'm going to bed with Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder so I laugh my troubles away. I'm staying away from caffeine. I'm wearing brighter colours. I'm trying to focus on the immense combined efforts and the wonderful people stepping forward to offer their help - A grateful shout out to Steve Kaplan for being available to offer answers to a frightened frustrated newbie. Thank you a thousand times.

See No Evil, Hear No Evil.
Soon, the fruits of our labour will be realized, but it's really hard to see in the dark. I returned home for the weekend to be an "Artist In (My Mother's) Residence" and we watched this documentary on Annie Lamont - an incredibly inspiring woman who I recommend for any writer. It snapped me back to reality. This is supposed to be hard. I am supposed to feel like it's ripping me apart and no, it will never feel any different. It's just I have never had to endure this before. Next time, it will hurt just as much, but I will know what to expect. 

And so in these dark times, I appreciate any nod of encouragement. Recently, our story editor sent this wonderful note that nearly made me burst into tears.
"In 4-6 weeks, you will have produced a feature film on your cv - something that almost no writer in Canada has. Seriously. Think about it. Not only that, but from the same gig, you'll get produced episodes of TV and the web. This is massive. Let's keep our eyes on the prize..."

Thank you Claire for the reminder. Something big is happening here. 


  1. hang in there mighty mcneill ! sooooo proud of you.

    big love, wendy

  2. kinda like being blind(folded) at an orgy, you're just gonna have to feel things out. I predict some interesting handfuls.


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