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Write Now! Workshop

My interview with host Kitty Bucholtz is now out:

Here for the podcast.

Here for the YouTube video.

Enjoy!

Five Part Story

My take on the Five Sentence Story – a simple structure lesson from improv.

I’m Back – and on Write Now!

Two bits of news:  I am back to the blog. I will be sharing tidbits about story and scriptwriting, the comings and goings of my professional life, and trivia that I find interesting.

Second, and apropos to the first two things in the above list, I will be the special guest on Kitty Bucholtz’s podcast, Write Now!, this Thursday.

You can listen to Write Now! on any of your podcast listening devices, or watch the video version on Kitty’s YouTube page.

We will be discussing a number of angles on writing, including my theory on why Infinity War had to end in tragedy – which is tied to why the MCU is stronger than the DCU.

Jmt,

-Sean

Me on TV

Producer Annika Young has put together a segment on the writing of Superbook; and I am featured in the piece.

The story will air on The 700 Club on Friday, October 10th. Check your local listings.

Here are a few shots from the interview taken by Shawn Gary:

With producer Annika and Superbook powerhouse, John Schafer

With producer Annika and Superbook powerhouse, John Schafer

Sean thinking

This last one, they caught me thinking between takes. The serious look on my face implies that I am either thinking about how SB is changing the way the youth of the world think about the Bible; or I’m wondering if there will be any donuts at the craft table.

If you see the feature tomorrow, let me know what you think. I haven’t seen it yet – and am very curious!

just my thoughts,

Sean

Feature Film Announcement

I am very excited.

I think, maybe, possibly, there’s a pretty good chance that a script I wrote might be made into a low budget, independent feature film.

And what do I mean by “maybe, possibly?” Well, I was in Hollywood for too long. What I mean is, we have a producer with a solid track record, the funding has been secured, shoot dates have been set, and the producer is in talks with a topnotch director. I even have a contract for the rights. I have signed it; the producers haven’t yet, but say it is on the way.

And I can’t quite bring myself to say it is real, not quite yet. Why? Because as you know, screenwriters are a superstitious and cowardly lot. (Wait, that’s what Batman says about criminals. Allow me to amend.)

Screenwriters are a superstitious lot. As are directors, actors, crew, and caterers. We’ve seen time after time deals that are sure-fire fall apart at the last second.

My friend Dan had a script with a great comedic idea. It was about a guy who was constantly complaining about how bad God was running the universe, who then is hired to temp for the Creator while God went on vacation. Isn’t that a funny idea – a normal guy forced to step in and run the universe as a lesson from the Almighty?

He found a producer, and was in the last stages of finalizing the movie deal when Bruce Almighty was announced with Jim Carrey attached. And bye-bye temping film.

That’s our world, the business we are in. Nothing is certain. Remember how uncertain the country felt about employment and investments in 2008? That’s us entertainment folk all the time.

So, I am going to chronicle my adventures in the screen trade here, fully optimistic about how great this project is going to be. But I will hold off buying the champagne until it’s a wee bit more real.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

Aw Crap Rap

So by now, you know that I wrote a musical episode for Betty & DD.

Here’s how Gunther’s rap came to life: In the musical, the idea was to give each main character a taste of what’s happening in their inner life, leading up to Betty’s secret shame.

I thought it would be a hoot to suggest that Gunther is a frustrated rapper – for those that don’t follow the series, Gunther is notorious for speaking in one word sentences – especially irksome for those trying to, say, teach him about narration or interrogate him about a crime.

So the joke is: Gunther really wants to rap, but as he only speaks in one word sentences, his rap stinks.

When the script was turned in, Marcus (the actor playing Gunther) was disappointed. Turns out he always wanted to try rapping, heard we were writing a rap for his character – and then realized what we did: Gunther’s rap would be lame. Marcus wasn’t complaining, mind you. But he was disappointed.

Which lead to thinking: Is there a way to stay true to Gunther’s character, and yet give Marcus a chance to rap?

Since the whole musical really takes place inside of someone’s head, what if we Inceptioned this puppy, and went inside Gunther’s head while he was inside Betty’s head? So I built a fortress in a snow filled landscape…

No, wait. Wrong head.

What I did do was write a rap where Gunther shows his frustration at not being able to rap (paying high attention to using an advanced vocabulary to show his frustration at having a limited vocabulary.)

Ray took to it with vigor, and put it to music; Cory caught a vision for direction; Marcus jumped into a series of tongue twisters with abandon; and we threw in a baby. This is what we ended up with:

 

Some of my favorite bits:

-That I worked in a reference to Wittenberg (I am a member of a Presbyterian church after all)

-Ray taking a quick “Oh the humanity” after the Hindenburg reference, and turning that into a recurring chorus

-The baby. Random, but makes me laugh.

jmt,

Sean

Written By a Kid Makes Joss a Star

Some folks like Joss Whedon the writer; some Joss Whedon the director.

Me? I’m a fan of Joss Whedon the action star – taking down monsters as head of the SQUAT team!

Check it out:

 

(Oh, and I love Joss Whedon the writer/director.)
jmt,

Sean

More Edgy

A while back, Jeff Goins is started an interesting conversation over at Two Handed Warriors – ostensibly directed to Christian/Religious writers, but really a conversation for all story tellers.

The idea revolves around writing “edgy” work. It reminds me of when the writer of the Fraggle Rock movie was asked to make the scripts more edgy (see here for details).

My take on whether a writer should be edgy or not? Depends on the story.

Goins gets it right – it is about honesty, not edge. “Edgy” is about selling; honesty is about writing. If the story calls for edge, so be it. If the story doesn’t, adding would dilute the story.

Jmt,

Sean

Betty & DD: Musical Acting

I spent Sunday from 9am to 11pm on set for a Betty & DD shoot.

And I wasn’t there the longest…

I was grip, pa, gaff, boom, playback, and extra – depending on what time of the day you might have happened by.

Mark Baer, Cory Edwards and Graham Shaw

 

It is a musical episode – a bit of a dream sequence. Teleplay and lyrics by Sean Gaffney; music by Ray Schnurr; directed by Cory Edwards; dp and a shot by Mark Baer.

Eugene (Seth Marstrand) shows Betty (Julie Mitchell) how life is better as a musical

Very fun to be on set for something I wrote. Ray’s music so elevated my words; Cory’s vision made my story so much stronger and more creative than I could have thought; and the actors just plain make me look good.

Getting in place for Liz’s (Catherine Gaffney) big number

Cory and company were very good with finding place for folks like Ray and me to cameo. When you see the finished product, my right shoulder fits in very prominently in the above scene.

Betty joined by Charla (Karen Whipple)

The composer for the episode also wrote the intro and credits music for Betty & DD. Bit of trivia: Karen Whipple, who plays Charla, Betty’s acting nemesis, is the voice for the theme song.

A Moo Moo kind of day with full cast and extras

A total blast of a day – as you can see by how much fun the cast was having.

For a set up to this episode, visit Betty and DD.

jmt,

Sean

Obituaries

I started to update my status by saying:

“Of all the possible writing assignments that I could have, the one I hate the most is writing obituaries.”

But I stopped, because that isn’t true. I don’t hate writing obits.

Last night, I sat at a table with Cath and friends, and we turned a love one’s two sentence “she was born here and then died there” obit  into truer reflection of a life. A dim reflection, but more than just dates.

I listened and typed as we told stories, looked at pictures, heard from her parents, tried to answer “what would she want to be known for” and firmly stated what she did not want to be known for. (In this case, she hated being called an “inspiration.”)

In short, we celebrated a life that had real meaning for us.

That kind of writing is therapeutic; a bit cathartic. It weighs the realness of loss against the truth of the gift brought on by sharing life with another person.

What I do hate is that there is ever a need to put into words such things; that I would have to point someone to an essay on paper rather than just point to the person.

I like to think that, on occasion, I am good with words. But nothing I write will ever beat:

“You want to know about Ruth? Well, she’s right over there. Go spend some time with her – then you’ll see what I see.”

Yeah, that can’t be beat.

Just my thoughts,

Sean