How’s life? Life is good and busy. Here’s the thing though… I’ve already written this blog a couple of times over the last few days. It’s to help me focus down on what it is that I want to say this week. What is that I want to say that requires so much thought?
I’ve made the decision to turn my desire to write feature films fulltime into a hobby. I really struggled with this for I’ve wanted it for a very long time. But I have to be honest with myself that having a feature career pay the bills isn’t viable in the way that it was when I started writing feature films. As the budgets go bigger, the studios have become more and more conservative in terms of making films from existing source material. They also tend to hire the same writers again and again. I’ve seen this confirmed in the many an article in Deadline Hollywood (they’re not as good now that Nikki Finke is gone but they are okay) and The Wrap.
This isn’t to say that I share Martin Scorese’sview of “popcorn films.” I love the excitement of sharing those kinds of movies with large audiences. The gasps, the groans, etc… are just too cool. It’s true that I have a couple of these films kicking around in my head. But they’re going to take years to write.
And I also have to be honest with myself about the kinds of films that I write anyway. My scripts tend to be more character pieces meant to be done on smaller budgets. Okay. I know that some of my stories have explosions and some set pieces that require money. It’s that they can all be done well below $5,000,000 (with stars) with most even being less than $150,000. Why?
My stories tend to focus on character and peeling back their layers. This probably why the first draft of my first screenplay made the first cut into the Sundance Feature Film Program. So… Does this mean that I give up my writing career because I’m letting go of feature writing for my mainstay? Will I go back into freelance writing in order to build up more bylines?
The answer is no. I’m going to generate a bunch of shorts that I write, direct, produce and edit. My purpose is to really understand filmmaking. Plus, I’d love to build up a network of people for us to help each other get creative shit done. It’s because I’m not giving up on feature films. They’re just hobbies. I have a script that was a finalist in the 2019 Writers for Writers Fellowship. My plan with it is to eventually write, direct and produce it as a follow up to my indie feature MY APOCALYPTIC THANKSGIVING that I’m producing. I just accept that I will need to do other kinds of writing in order to make that happen along with paying my bills. I also have ideas for this script that would probably not do real well with the studios. This means that I need to independently produce it.
So… What will this other type of writing be? I’m going to write for television. If I’m honest with myself, writing TV is a better fit for my writing anyway. Television writing is all about character. They also seem to be taking so many more risks in TV than films anymore anyway. And I’m okay with this for I have learned so much from my Sundance Collab Episodic Writing Class Level One and Two. The other person that taught me a ton about TV writing is my National University instructor Erik Bork. Don’t be fooled that he’s “just a National University instructor.” Erik has two Emmys.
I also believe that generating all of my short films will help me with the TV writing since my short films will be very much microbudgets. The short films I already created in the past and producing the indie feature MY APOCALYPTIC THANKSGIVING has taught me so much about filmmaking. As a result, I feel so much more prepared to head into TV since it’s so much hands on for writers than features. It’s also been an interesting process of reading pilots and watching their produced versions. Some of them have been awful whereas others have really rocked.
I’ll also be honest that I feel a sense of relief from making this decision. It’s because I’ve allowed my life to be on hold in many ways while I pursued trying to launch my feature film career. This also isn’t to say that getting into TV isn’t hard for it’s also still incredibly competitive despite the incredible demand for content.
But here’s the cool thing… So much of what I’ve learned is transferrable from features to TV. I don’t have to start from scratch the way that I did when I began writing features. This is the wonderful part of having taken the time to really understand the craft of writing. I did this to help me not just write a single good idea. It’s that I want to be able to execute quality writing on a consistent basis. I’m also able to pound out pages far quicker than I did when I started. An example is that I wrote 50 pages in one week for on my TV pilot. And they weren’t complete shit according to those who read them. I feel good about this.
Okay… So here’s the deal: I’m looking for filmmakers in Los Angeles looking to work on shorts for beyond a microbudget. They aren’t going to take a ton of time but they will be a great learning experience. I already have a fair amount of the equipment needed to make these shorts. And you don’t have to be a professional level filmmaker to participate. We can learn together. You can reach me at hollysorianoblog at gmail dot com.
My last piece is that I’ve decided to submit one last script to the Sundance Feature Film Program to bookend my desire to be a professional feature writer since it’s what sparked me to go on this journey.
And one last thing is that I’m not giving up on my blog. In fact, I’m coming up with a schedule that lets me write more consistently.
Have a great day!