Posts made in February 29th, 2012

I did it.

I did it.

I did-it. Did-it. Did-it!

I finished my screenplay.

Granted, it’s just a first draft, but the point is… I finished it. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

And, you know what that makes me? A screenwriter.

When I started this crazy quest back in November—this leap into the great unknown—I was completely and utterly terrified. (To be honest, I’m still terrified.) But this online screenwriting class has kept me focused. More importantly, it has kept me writing. It gave me a deadline, a purpose, and a goal. And with a little guidance and encouragement, it also gave me confidence.

I began writing a story I had no idea I could write. Sometimes the words that appeared on the page were as much a surprise to me as anyone. But that’s the fun of writing… the bliss of it. It’s like taking all the crazy tidbits you’ve been carrying around for a lifetime, throwing them onto the floor like a bag of ice you need to break up, and then watching the individual cubes spill out and melt into something that starts to make sense. It’s truly a wonder.

Here’s the other thing about my screenwriting class. It connected me to other people out there who think like me, write like me, and WANT like me. People from all over the world. From my basement office in New London, Minnesota, I watched the Writer’s Guild Awards, live on Ustream. And last week, after the conclusion of the 2012 Spirit Awards, Tony Greco (the founder of Screenwriters Online) even took us on a driving tour of old Hollywood using his iPhone and a mobile hotspot. He took us up the Pacific Coast Highway, past Gladstones restaurant, and up Sunset Boulevard. It was at that very intersection where Thomas Ince, a silent film director and actor, bought a 460 acre ranch in the Santa Monica hills and developed the world’s first motion picture studio. Incidentally, Ince also became the world’s first screenwriter, when he began writing down slug lines for his scenes, like “EXTERIOR – CATTLE RANCH – DAY.” And that’s how screenwriting was born.

Inceville, Pacific Palisades, California

"Inceville" in the Pacific Palisades

So now that I have a finished screenplay, what next? Well, I did actually ask that question, and the answer Tony gave me was, “You start the next one. And when that one’s finished, you start the next one after that.”

I have to admit, that’s not exactly what I wanted to hear. I was actually thinking more along the lines of, “You get discovered! By an agent, or a manager, or a producer, and they all clamor for your script and offer to pay you hundreds of thousands of dollars for it.”

But apparently, that’s not the case. Who knew.

[Actually, that is the case. Not sure about the hundreds of thousands of dollars part, but everyday, some lucky screenwriter gets a chance to pitch his/her script to an agent/manager/producer who says, “I like it.” And that’s the beauty of Screenwriters Online. Before they started in 1995 (ironically, within blocks of the original Ince Studio), people like me were shut out from the magic and wonder of Hollywood. But now, when I login to my online class with my laptop and glass of wine, I get to sit alongside others like me and at least imagine the possibilities. It’s like playing the lottery, I guess. You can’t win if you don’t play.]

So, now it’s onto my next big thing (NBT-2). I wonder what that will be?

Thanks for tagging along…

I sent my blog post to Tony Greco, founder of Screenwriters Online, and he sent me the following message:



I’m going to link it.

BUT one thing.. when you asked me what’s next after completing, I told you to write and write some more. BUT I also said, you can now pitch it in our MasterClass sessions with agents, and especially Managers, production executives, and studio executives who appear here in our online Masterclasses. And we will do more of them.

Also — Here is some more information for you on Inceville and the Pacific Palisades.

Enjoy it– Tony

Here is a link to our village paper, The Palisadian Post (my favorite newspaper because it is truly about the events that happen in our lives here).

You can see more about INCEVILLE at this link:

The black and white picture I’m including is the studio grounds, with the stables etc. I drove you up from the coast highway, up Sunset Blvd to the Lake Shrine. The picture is looking down on Sunset Blvd, and in the distance is the sea where the studio sets from Triangle Ranch are. The Indians lived on site.

Ince Studios

Ince Studios

“It was here at Inceville, now Sunset at Pacific Coast Highway, where in 1913 alone, Ince made over 150 two-reeler movies, mostly Westerns, thereby anchoring the popularity of the genre for decades. It was at Inceville where many of the filmmaker’s innovations were developed, such as the shooting script, which included stage direction, dialogue and scene description for interiors and exteriors.”

‘He was really the father of the modern way of writing a script,’ says Marc Wanamaker, founder of the Bison Archive, a research and informational archive on the history of the motion picture industry consultant and author of several books such as ‘MGM, When the Lion Roared,’ ‘Destined for Hollywood,’ and ‘Hollywood’ Then and Now.’

The other color pictures I sent are of today’s Lake Shrine, which is an exquisitely beautiful lake fed by a natural spring from Santa Ynez Canyon (where we are). The Lake is surrounded by hillsides of hanging gardens and meditation paths. The lake is full of Swans and this place is called the “Fellowship of All Religions.” It includes statues and shrines from all the world’s religions, dotted around the constantly-blooming exotic flowers, trees, and hillsides which surround this natural lake. It also houses a portion of Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes in a 4th century sarcophagus.

This place was founded by the great Indian saint Paramahamsa Yogananda, who brought eastern religions to the United States in the 20s/30s. Yogananda called the Pacific Palisades ‘The Mecca of the West.’ See the pictures I sent. What a transformation. Once a stable, now a lake 🙂

Elvis Presley loved this place. According to his friend, Jerry Schilling, he walked around the lake and picked up some brochures, then later sent away for information about Eastern philosophy. Elvis developed a 12-year relationship with Sri Daya Mata, the woman who is now the president of the Self-Realization Fellowship, and would often call her for advice when he was troubled.

The memorial service for The Beatles’ George Harrison was held here.

The Lake Shrine

The Lake Shrine

The Lake Shrine

The Lake Shrine

The Pacific Palisades also became the home of some of the greatest artists of the 20th century, including Bertolt Brecht (Three Penny Opera), Thomas Mann, Igor Stravinksky, Arnold Schoenberg, (creator of the Twelve Tone scale and composition), Henry Miller, and Salka Viertel. Greta Garbo’s screenwriter also lived here. (She wrote Anna Karenina, Queen Christina, Two-Faced Woman, The Painted Veil)… and many more. Today it is the home of Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Billy Crystal, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Cruise, etc, and so on…

Note: If we weren’t the first, we were among the first to offer online screenwriting classes and sessions. Our first was February 1996 with the genius screenwriter, Michael Tolkin, of The Player (see it if you haven’t – a must see for anyone writing in Hollywood). He also wrote Deep Impact and Changing Lanes.

Enjoy it all, Joy.


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