We writers often live in our heads, and today I’m urging us collectively to be here, now, right in the present. Philosophy and religion have tons of literature about this subject, but I have learned from years of writing and working with scribes and entrepreneurs that to accomplish something, it is extremely helpful to get into the present and BE PRESENT.
June’s snackbites include the following morsels, strategies (1ST THINGS 1ST), researching and networking and macro news (INDUSTRY INCIDENTALS) based on the theme of writers giving themselves the gift of being here in the present, right now.
1ST THINGS 1ST – THE OBVIOUS
What is obvious at this moment in time? When writers are deep in creating a story, tunnel vision can set in. It is important to state the obvious, for the reason that broad thematic strokes and primary ideas in writing help to bring up contrast in spinning any yarn. The best way to stay tuned to the obvious in our universe, is to raise your head up once in a while to survey the landscape around you, to get a sense of what is going on with popular culture, world events, major political situations, economic tensions and the world at large.
Using what’s around you is one way to stay topical, increase the relevance of your story to a wider audience, while resonating with what’s now. Audiences will appreciate it even when they do not recognize that you have put some ‘now’ in your ‘wow.’ Anything going on in the world around you is material for your movie.
What can we notice in the here, now? When I lift my head out of my computer for a minute and survey the world, it is Summertime, New York City has a newish mayor floundering about the issue of putting an end to carriage-horses in Central Park, California has crazy fires wreaking havoc and destruction, it’s getting really hot… But mostly, the World Cup and everything soccer is omnipresent.
If you have walked out in the world among other humans, seen any advertising at all, you ay have noticed the FIFA World Cup fever taking over the world. Everywhere one turns, stores are selling soccer stickers, posters, all types of memorabilia. Images of star player, Lionel Messi are everywhere, and announcements about the results of the matches are omnipresent.
Whether or not you are a fan of soccer and any of the players, writers can use the feeding frenzy of this highly popular sport. Wait a minute, you may be thinking, I despise sports and all the shenanigans that go along with it, the commercialism and the hype, the mayhem.
How to use something like the World Cup in your story may be as easy as having an important game playing in a scene, at a bar filled with rabid fans and a fight breaks out, or your character’s knowledge or ignorance of the event could indicate a distaste for sports. There be a match going nearby in one of your scenes, and a huge fight breaks out among fans and spills into the area where your hero is proposing to his true love. Of course, you don’t have to use the actual World Cup in Brazil proper, you could borrow from it for scenes in your film, and plot twists that need extra juice. Your villain may use the frenzy and attention of a giant sports event as cover for nefarious deeds, or borrow the technical challenges of an enormous undertaking like erecting a giant stadium. For instance, it’s the night before the FIFA World Cup and they construction workers are still building at a frantic pace because the stadium is not yet finished. Yikes!
The pressures, conflicts, and drama can be snatched from the jaws of defeat or victory, and morphed into your own story, as a basis for a major scenario in your climax, or to color some part of one key scene. Your imagination doesn’t always have to make it up from scratch, it can use the wealth of material right happening right in front you!
INDUSTRY INCIDENTALS – Writing to overcome China’s Great Wall
China comprises 19% of the world’s population, possesses a rising middle class, and a myriad of political issues regarding free speech, and therefore, movie release. While the political issues are a hurdle for filmmakers, those that want to break into the marketing should know that Chinese are avid movie-goers and like most countries around the world, the citizenry want to see themselves up on the big screen. China is rich and powerful enough that they are requesting that from writers and filmmakers worldwide.
Just because China possesses a great wall doesn’t meant that they are not willing to have American writers scale that wall and make friends – through co-productions. Recently, the powers that govern the Chinese filmmaking system have reached out – through upping the film quota to 34 films from foreign nations that they will let be played in China, requesting co-productions of a more pro-Chinese image with announcements like the following.
“We have a huge market and we want to share it with you,” said Zhang Xun, President of China Film Co-Production Company… “We want films that are heavily invested in Chinese culture, not one or two shots… We want to see positive Chinese images. China has been opening up for 30 years and I think both U.S. and Chinese screenwriters want to write positive images,” Xun added, citing that there are still too many depictions of Chinese roles as drug dealers or criminals. A department of the Chinese government, the CFCC, is in charge of all administration and coordination for foreign film co-production.
For writers interested in writing films for the Chinese audience, it is helpful to get familiar with their culture, screen stars and starlets, folk stories, and have a basic knowledge of the official rules governing movie content.
Rules from Article 25: The following contents are prohibited from being recorded in a movie:
- That which defies the basic principles determined by the Constitution;
- That which endangers the unity of the nation, sovereignty or territorial integrity;
- That which divulges secrets of the State, endangers national security or damages the honor or beliefs of the State;
- That which incites national hatred or discrimination, undermines the solidarity of the nations, or infringes upon national customs or habits;
- That which propagates evil cults or superstition;
- That which disturbs the public order or destroys public stability;
- That which propagates obscenity, gambling, violence or instigates crimes;
- That which insults or slanders others, or infringes upon the lawful rights and interests of others;
- That which endangers public ethics or cultural traditions;
- Other content prohibited by the laws, regulations or provisions of the State.
Some of these will be immediately obvious and others may not, but you get the general idea – if you are curious about penning a script that has potential for co-production with China, meeting Chinese filmmakers, producers, and writers is also a great idea.
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