Random Thoughts at semester’s end…

Well boys and girls, I handed out Perfect Attendance pins yesterday, and that means the semester is drawing to a close. I assume I’m the only teacher at Vanderbilt who gives Perfect Attendance. We have a little ceremony, where I call out their names, invite them to the front of the room, give them their pins and a handshake to tumultuous applause from the rest of the class. In screenwriting, I blush, six students got the pin and two did not. I was pretty pleased.

We had a guest in class who has had a superb 20 year career in television. First in network, then miniseries. When I asked her what was most important in screenwriting, she said, “Clarity.” The script must first not be confusing. I heartily agree. The image in the writer’s head has a tortured journey to becoming an image in the reader’s head, and it doesn’t get there via telepathy. Sad to say.

It’s up to you to make that image pop up in the reader’s head exactly the same way it popped up in your own head. It’s a bit like beaming someone down to a planet in Star Trek. You better be damn sure the molecules get reassembled EXACTLY the same way they got taken apart…

She also talked about how much she works. Now, with children, she works 9:00 – 6:00 every day. When she didn’t have children, she worked more. She was emphatic about building her mastery of her craft. And that takes a lot of time. Basically, she said “If you write two hours a week, why do you think you’ll get better?”

And her writing is magnificent!!!

She gave us a mini-series script, and the writing in the scene description leapt off the page and flew around the room. You could tell instantly that this writer really cared about what she was writing. Zowee, it was good.

What else…

My students analyzed one of my screenplays for their final assignment yesterday. They took gigantic glee in pointing out two typos in the screenplay! Mea culpa. I was glad they were noticing!

Finished the sound mix on my latest short. It was a long day yesterday. I love mixing, because it’s so creative, but not as harum scarum as shooting. A lot more relaxed.

Glad the semester is over.

Looking forward to getting some writing done.

Maybe sometime between now and August, I’ll clean my office.


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