Category Archives: Make It So

Latest Behind-The-Scenes of JUDAS KISS!

Episode 2 of “Judas Kiss: Behind the Scenes” — Learn about the creative tensions between the creators of the acclaimed scifi/fantasy/drama, JUDAS KISS. Meet the film’s star, Charlie David, and learn what he brought to his role as a failed filmmaker whose past crashes headlong into his future.

JUDAS KISS is the story of failed filmmaker Zachary Wells, who is convinced by his best friend and hotshot director Topher into replacing him as a judge in their film school’s annual festival. Zach’s one-night stand with a student backfires when that student walks into an interview the next morning calling himself Danny Reyes, the name Zach went by when he attended the school. And Danny’s film, “Judas Kiss,” is a finalist in the competition Zach is judging. Zach’s film, also “Judas Kiss,” won the festival years before. As Zach scrambles for answers, a mysterious, chain-smoking campus tour guide, counsels him: “Change the kid’s past, change your future.” But how? Zach comes to believe he can mend his life by disqualifying Danny from competition, putting him on a different path than Zach followed. But will Zach’s plan work?


JUDAS KISS! Behind the Scenes!

Look behind the scenes at the making of the acclaimed scifi fantasy drama, JUDAS KISS.

In the first episode, produced by award-winning documentarian Matt Bucy, meet stars Charlie David (Dante’s Cove), Richard Harmon (AMC’s The Killing), Sean Paul Lockhart (aka adult star Brent Corrigan) and Belgian pop star Timo Descamps.

And you can order the film at Amazon.

Does Length Matter in Scifi Prose?

How big is it?

It’s been a while since I’ve last posted a blog.  I’ve been really restricting distractions while I finished the last chapters of Ensnared, a Sci-fi themed yaoi novel. Toward the last chapters, I was using every possible distraction as an excuse to walk away from wrestling with the ending. I even cleaned the oven, for goodness sake! The oven!

I have often said to new writers without the funds or the time to go to a writing program that they don’t need a degree to be a writer. I say that with even more vehemence if it happens that I am having a flashback of some pompous dullard reading from an opus about a writer writing about writers writing. Or the endless and allegedly deep discussions on whether or not a writer needs to tell a story – can’t they find a way to have a reader not read but sense the story on some subconscious level? Wow, those memories STILL make me want to punch someone in the face twenty years after grad school! Jon is pointing out that I’m still bitter. Ah, well. Where was I?

Deb vs Random Shiny Objects

I was going to make a point about the main thing that the Creative Writing Program gave me – hard deadlines. I knew I had to have a completed story and a chapter of a book finished each week to distribute for feedback. And I knew that at the end of the program, I had to have a completed novel. That really makes for a disciplined – though often freaked out – writer. I have a lot of time on my hands, and I do try to keep my days well structured. But the lack of a hard deadline or an editor to breathe down my neck makes it very easy to get distracted. There are a lot of diversions even in our modest household. There are two cooking channels and more cooking on PBS. There is way too much on the internet that is a distraction. Aside from the feeds on the social networks, there are places where I can watch every episode of Starsky and Hutch or all the episodes of Midsomer Murders  I missed when it stopped airing in the US. This was bad before I discovered the sites where I can catch up on anime I’ve never seen or manga I haven’t read. Bad all bad.

Toward the end of the book, I had managed to filter out all of the obvious distractions because they made me feel really guilty. That’s when I turned to ‘practical’ distractions like sorting through the ponderous pile of medical records, putting those crates of photos into albums like I always planned to do, or cleaning the oven. And let’s not forget all of the cooking. Only some of that was necessary.
But wait, didn’t I turn in a feature script draft from concept to finished draft in a couple of weeks? I had a few people breathing down my neck including a co-producer and an actor. It’s hard to ignore them when they can tell you’re online…or know where you live…or have keys to your house. That wasn’t a good idea.  Maybe I should find an editor like Ailawa-san from Junjou Romantica, my favorite editor in anime. She is known for busting into a writer’s home and beating the story out of him.

What’s the issue? This is one of my naughty sci-fi books, after all. How difficult could it be to throw a couple together and let nature take its course over and over for pages on end? Well, I never just throw together anything. Even my fanfiction was some sort of exercise about character arcs or writing styles or genre themes. In this case aside from building a post apocalypse society from scratch, I knew the book would be the first of at least a trilogy.

Thus, one of the problems was how to give it a satisfying ending while it was clear that the story of the couple would continue on. There has to be an obstacle for them to overcome at the end that will compel the reader to read the next installment while not leaving them on a cliffhanger. That really ticks me off as a reader of books and a viewer of films. I finally decided to go with what I like doing with any romances — scifi, fantasy or not –, the story ends shortly after the couple figures out their relationship. From that point forward, only death will tear them apart.

That does not mean that their adventures are over or the incredible danger to them has passed, but as a couple, they are a solid union. There are no spoilers to the story here. In my romances, it is the wild ride the couple takes and whether they survive it that keeps my gentle readers on the edge of their seats not whether or not the couple stays together.

My couple’s arc finishes after one final and serious threat to their lives. It is clear that there are still gravely important tasks yet undone. There is still a significant threats to their lives ahead. Thus, I’m fairly certain my readers will want to continue to follow their story. But I hate when there isn’t a satisfactory amount of denouement. Aside from the couple, there are some supporting characters who have endured a great deal of suffering. They each need a moment or two to gather themselves for the next ordeal. In other words, I believe the book needs a little time like the end of Star Wars where the characters are being hailed by the rebels as heroes and perhaps wear really bitchin’ boots.

Okay, I know what I should be writing to wrap this up, but there was still a problem. I had gotten hung up on the book’s length. It’s the longest book I’ve written in one fell swoop at over 180,000 words or 375 pages in standard prose format. It took me a while to get over that. I was looking at the competition whose books are considerably shorter. I needed to realize that there are still a number of successful books that aren’t sparse in their prose. I’m mean, this is still less than half as long as the later Harry Potter novels. And I don’t waste pages describing every piece of furniture in a room or every eyelash on a lid. There is a lot of action in the plot and a whole heaping helping of white hot naughtiness! After slapping myself around, I finished Ensnared. At least, I finished the draft. I have to leave it alone for a few days. Then, I’ll adjust some things before sending it to the proofreaders. I’ll have excerpts and the incredible cover artwork up in a couple of weeks.

Now, I can chase shiny object with less guilt.

Paul Chitlik’s Second Annual Treatment Seminar

(As we do from time to time, we’re posting some practical resources on writing and writing better. This one is located in Los Angeles, but Paul is well-worth getting in contact with if you’d like to learn how to improve your craft–DQM)

What happens when you don’t sell that great spec, but it gets you into a room for a pitch?  You’re in luck.  Either they want to hear what else you’ve got or they want to pitch you an idea.  If a deal is made for you to write a film, the first thing you turn in when you write a film for hire is the treatment.  But if you don’t know how to put together a good “studio” treatment, you’re in a lot of trouble.  Your continuing presence on the project depends on how well you write the treatment.  It’s basically an audition for the job to write the screenplay. 

I offered this non-UCLA seminar last year to a small group of people.  The response was overwhelming with a waiting list I couldn’t get to.  

We had an amazing, intense experience in Berkeley in the home of John (producer of “The Incredibles”) and Pam Walker.  This year we’ll be having it in Los Angeles, so you can all save your air fare and put that money towards seeing year end films.  And another difference – We’ll start with your first draft beatsheet and craft it into a presentable treatment in five days.  

Yes, five days.  When you leave my seminar, you will know what it takes to write a treatment that will help you get to the next step in the deal.  

Here are the details: 

Dates:  From Monday, December 13 through Friday, December 17, 2010. 

Total cost:  $800, includes coffee/tea/snacks (10% off for my past private seminar participants, add 3% to pay via PayPal)
Deposit:  $150, due by October 15.
Remainder:  $650 due by November 15.

Seminar will either be from 10 AM to 1PM, or 2PM to 5PM, depending on the participants (who will be polled).  Office hours will be by appointment, and everyone will get at least one personal conference within office hours.  Location:  The Valley, but close.

ONE MORE THING:  The Summer Rewrite Retreat will be in Northern France (site to be determined) this year from June 12 to June 24.  Save the dates.  

Let me know soon.   
(If you are interested in working with Paul, please contact him directly at