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Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

Two years ago I wrote a post about an up and coming baseball player named George Springer. Well last night he won the Willie Mays World Series MVP as he helped the Houston Astros win the World Series. So this seemed a good a time as any to repost my thoughts from April 2015 after I saw Springer played in a spring training game:

“The only thing I can control is how hard I play, my effort and my attitude.”
George Springer
USA Today interview (2014)
photo 2

You may have never heard of George Springer, but I think his career can help your career. Springer is not a screenwriter or filmmaker, but a professional baseball player with the Houston Astros.

This is the last week of spring training for Major League Baseball and since this past Monday it was a 75 degrees, perfect blue sky day in central Florida I drove out to Kissimmee, FL for a baseball game between the Astros and the Toronto Blue Jays.

I don’t follow baseball like I did as a kid and didn’t recognize a single player in the line-up for either team. It didn’t take long to learn Springer’s name because he made a spectacular play in right field when he saved a ball from being a home run to end the inning and on the next play hit a home run.

Turns out the 25-year-old Springer is starting his second year in the big leagues. Time will tell if he’ll become a star but he certainly has a lot of potential.  What does that have to do with screenwriting and filmmaking? This is the way I see it…Springer has had a lot of small victories to bring him where he is today.

He was a high school baseball star in Avon, Connecticut who attended the University of Connecticut on a scholarship. His freshman year of college he was named to the Baseball America Freshman All-America First Team. Two years later he was named the Big East Player of the Year and to several first team All-American teams.

In 2011 he was a first round draft pick of the Astros and had a nice signing bonus of $2.52 million. To develop as a player he played for several minor league teams in Corpus Christi, TX, Oklahoma City, Ok, Landcaster, CA and Troy, NY. His play was good enough in Texas he was voted the Texas League Player of the Year.

Last April he made his MLB debut, and the following month was named Rookie of the Month, before going on to hit 20 home runs in his rookie season. So when I saw him play earlier this week and make that great catch crashing into the right field fence, followed by his home run over the same right field fence—he’s been on a steady upward path for at least the past decade.

Dream big, start small. Consider it spring training for screenwriters. (And sometimes those small victories are just completing a script and starting the next one.)

P.S. Below is a micro doc I made on Tinker Field last year after I learned it was going to torn down. There were some protests which delayed the process, but I just learned that next week the demolition will begin on the former spring training facility.

4/19/15— Just ten days after I wrote this post Springer made perhaps the greatest catch of his career basically duplicating the catch I saw in spring training, but this time robbing a player of a walk-off grand slam home run in the 10th inning of a regular season game. See Springer’s game saving catch.

Related Post:
How to Become a Successful Screenwriter (Tip #41) Advice from Oscar-winning screenwriter Michael Arndt
Play Ball!
Baseball, Bergman & Bull Durham
The Day the Field of Dreams Died
Screenwriting & Pete Rose “Anybody in this business has to hustle.”—WME’s Christopher Lockhart
First Script Home Run
Screenwriting, Baseball & Underdogs

Scott W. Smith

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Halloween special you can file under scared to life:

“The biggest lesson of my life‑Jimi [Hendrix] died at 27, Jim Morrison died at 27, and I looked at it and asked what is in common here. And what it was was trying to live that image off stage. …It took me until I got sober to realize that I had to play Alice Cooper and be myself the rest of the time.”
Alice Cooper
Interview on WTF with Marc Maron

I think he means you can’t really live like a rock star 24/7 and expect to be rock star long—or to even live past 27. There may be exceptions, but Cooper’s been sober for 38 years. Mick Jagger who is still touring at age 74 does physical training six days a week to build stamina needed for the estimated 12 miles he covers while performing on stage.

Others in the 27 Club:
Janis Joplin
Kurt Cobain
Amy Winehouse

P.S. I saw an Alice Cooper full theatrical concert in Tampa in the early 80s and actually met him in San Diego in the 90s.  But not until the Maron interview did I realize that his career has not only lasted for five decades, but that he’s had an incredible eclectic group of entertainers cross his path over the years. Not only Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, and Jimmy Page in his early days in L.A., but other entertainers like Groucho Marx, Jonathan Winters, and Frank Sinatra.

Scott W, Smith

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I’m kinda swamped with projects so I thought I’d repost one of my favorite posts from  last year based on Jessica Abel’s podcast and book Out on a Wire:

“The key to writing fiction and screenplays in terms of character is conflict, just like it is in non-fiction. And you have to come up with what is the thing that’s going to test that character. And how are you going to make evident what they’re all about? If you can’t make it evident through action or the results of action it’s not believable.”
Jessica Abel
Author of Out on the Wire: The Storytelling Secrets of the New Masters of Radio

Just a few years ago as the economic dipped and newspapers and magazines started to go out of business or lay off thousands of journalists, some colleges started to drop journalism as an undergraduate or a graduate degree.

Then an interesting phenomenon happened. Podcasts helped revive a new type of audio storytelling.  This American Life, Radiolab, and Serial are currently in the top ten on the iTunes chart and are great examples of audio storytelling/reporting at its best.

On her podcast Out on the Wire, host Jessica Abel explores what radio masters like Ira Glass go through in developing their stories. You may or may not be surprised that the questions are the same ones screenwriters, filmmakers, producers, and studio executive ask when developing their stories.

—What’s the hook?
—What does your protagonist want?
—What’s the inciting incident that disrupts the protagonists life?
—What’s the arc of the story?
—What’s the central conflict?
—Where’s the special sauce?
—Why is it interesting?
—How are the stakes raised?
—What’s universal about this story?
—How will it resonate with an audience?
—What’s the focus sentence? (More on that tomorrow.)
—Is there mystery, surprise, and irony?
—Is there a “You won’t f-ing believe it!” moment?
—Who or what changes?
—What’s the theme? What’s the takeaway when it’s all over?
—How do you make the story land most effectively?

Over the years since graduating from film school I’ve worked professionally in film, television, print, photography, radio, and video production (and non-professionally in theater), which possibly makes podcasting my next frontier to explore creatively.

The tools for working in audio (a microphone, a recorder, headphones, an XLR cord, computer/editing software and batteries) are cheaper to acquire than what’s needed for shooting video/film projects. That and the fact you can work solo, you don’t have to have a college degree (or even have finished high school yet), perhaps explains the rise in individual podcasts.

Sure there’s a gap in storytelling quality between the person just starting out and This American Life, but even Ira Glass said he was bad for a long time before he became good, and eventually great.

On Episode 1 of On the Wire Jessica interviews Stephanie Foo (@imontheradio a former young skateboarder who once had a podcast with a few listeners called Get Me on This American Life (that she says wasn’t legit but got her press passes). That opened an opportunity to work on Snap Judgment, and she now is a legit producer at This American Life.

In that interview I think they hit on a universal truth; in the world of storytelling it is not only the protagonist who struggles toward their goal, but the storyteller does as well.

Jessica Abel: What do you want to say to the skateboarding girl who was pretending to journalist, who had a podcast Get Me on This American Life? 

Stephanie Foo: “I wouldn’t talk to that girl because she was excited. I would talk to the girl who was at Snap Judgment producing five stories in a week and feeling like her head was going to explode, and that she was crazy and not good at her job. And I would just say you’re in it.  This what it takes to be good. And it’s working. And you might not feel like it’s working, because you might be buried in a million stories. And you might not be able to find your way out. And the bosses might be like arguing with you, and everybody at work might be an absolute chaotic mess. But that’s what it takes. That’s what everybody goes through to become good. Getting completely messy, feeling completely lost is absolutely necessary to finding your way out and becoming good.

Jessica: The German Forest.

Stephanie: Yeah, the Dark Forest, exactly. Getting completely lost, over and over and over again. Because each time you find different paths out. And so at a certain point you can go almost anywhere and know how to find your way back. It’s kind of nice. 

Stephanie is also the creator of Pilot podcast which according to its website: “Is a podcast that seeks to explore and expand possibilities in audio storytelling across formats and genres. Every episode will be a pilot for a different type of podcast.”

P.S. If you want to do some workshops or gather info on audio storytelling check out the Transom website located in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

Related post:
Conflict, Conflict, Conflict
Ira Glass on Storytelling
The Major or Central Dramatic Question 
Commitment in the Face of Failure
Finding Authentic Emotions “Just because it’s a worthy cause doesn’t make it interesting.”— Alex Blumberg

Scott W. Smith

 

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Heading into today’s game against Houston, the University of South Florida football team is 7-0. This is the story of USF’s quarterback Quinton Flowers as told by ESPN and Maria Taylor.

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La La Liberty City

Scott W. Smith

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“It kind of brings it all home—what is important?”
Iowa head football coach Kurtz Ferentz

Scott W. Smith

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Need a jolt today? Here’s Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder joining Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on The Waiting (and proving I’m still not over the death of Petty earlier this month).

Scott W. Smith

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Success is dangerous to longevity. It’s just a dangerous thing, it’s an overwhelming thing, and used in the wrong way it’s really destructive.  Surviving that in our earliest days was—we came out of that pretty lucky. We had a lot of good people around us.  A lot of good advice.

But you don’t ever want to be complaining about how hard it is to be successful, but it is hard. It’s hard to keep your feet on the ground. To trust people. To not get isolated, because with success and fame it tends to isolate people. It tends to push you away. You’ll go anywhere for privacy or just to feel normal. So I’ve had to grow up with that. Kind of grow up in public, I guess. But very early on Elliot Roberts, who worked with [our manager Tony Dimitriades] for about ten years, had a lot of experience with Neil [Young], and Crosby, Stills & Nash and all that— I just saw him at the [Hollywood] Bowl the last night we were there, and I love Elliot— but he told me very early on, I think it was before Damn the Torpedoes had come out, he said, ‘look I got a feeling that this record is going to a big hit, but that doesn’t mean that it’s good. Think about how many things are hits that aren’t good. You don’t want to get tied up in that. What you want to think about is making good work. You’re going to make a lot of records—they’re not all going to go to the top of the charts. But they can all be good.’ And he said the thing is worry about the product, not anything else, and over time that will sustain you. And I thought that made a lot of sense… Don’t get caught up trying to top yourself every time commercially, because nobody does.”
Tom Petty (who sustained in the music business for 40+ years)
LA Times interview with Randy Lewis 

Related Post: The 99% Focus Rule (Screenwriter Michael Arndt quote)

Scott W. Smith

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