As much as I try to get back into a regular writing routine, 2014 keeps throwing curveballs at me. The latest curveball comes in the form of new employment. Last month out of the blue, I was offered a producer role on the direct-to-video LAND BEFORE TIME 14. Yes, I am now working for Universal Animation Studios. While it was a tough decision to leave Disney in the middle of a production – especially one with an outstanding, immensely talented crew – I’ve realized that I need to be pragmatic about my animation jobs, and the Universal offer was too enticing to pass up. I’ve been at the job for a month and I’m very happy with my decision. (Although I do wish I could have taken that awesome crew of people with me.)
Since I’m settled in at work, I am easing back into a writing regimen. My friend and co-writer on BLACK SEA ROSE, Jillian Reilly, convinced me to enter a writing contest with her called the NYC Midnight Screenwriting Challenge. It’s a three-round competition where writers are placed randomly in heats and given a genre, subject, and character assignment. Later in June, contest judges will choose a top five in each heat to advance to the second round.
The first round happened at the beginning of May when Jill and I were given the following marching orders: Genre – Romance, Subject – Bankruptcy, Character – A judge. We had eight days to write a short script employing those elements and it couldn’t be more than twelve pages. It was a fun exercise to try to stay within the parameters given, but also think outside of the box, too. A bonus was that Jill happened to be in New York at the start of the contest, so I flew out there to meet her and together we determined the outline of our story. From there we e-mailed drafts back and forth – the main challenge being to hone the script down to twelve pages.
If we advance to the second round, we’ll be given a new assignment and have only three days to write no more than eight pages. In the third and final round, contenders are tasked with writing a five-page screenplay in just twenty-four hours. That should be really interesting since Jill is in South Africa and I’m in LA, which means we have a nine-hour time difference. But whether we advance or not, it just felt good to write something new again. Jill and I are even discussing the possibility of expanding our short script into a full-length feature. After a slow start this year, I feel like my writing mojo has finally returned. It’s time to focus my attention on a couple of my still-to-be finished scripts begging to reach FADE OUT.