Trans MAN

I’ve never been one for standardized testing, or indeed, school in general. But I might change my tune if school was used to teach topics which are actually relevant, taught in a complex and open-minded way.

But I’m kidding, really, because I know that’s one of the least likely things to happen in the wide universe.

Here is a list of things I’d bet good money will happen before that does:

  • Aliens contact the Earth
  • Donald Trump voluntarily steps down as President
  • Coffee prices decrease
  • People who can’t carry a tune stop auditioning for televized singing competitions

Still, if we can’t rid of those pesky standardized tests, we might as well start asking better questions. For example:

Finding Neverland lyrics

I like to listen to music while I write. And while I still don’t agree with what the story of Finding Neverland did to Peter Llewelyn-Davies, I did kind of fall in love with the soundtrack of the musical adaptation:

It’s also rather inspiring to hear some of the lyrics while I’m working…

Song: Believe

  • “It’s so frustrating when no one else sees everything you see.”
  • “Prefix ‘ordinary’ with ‘extra’ “
  • “Our life’s calling was never meant to be boring.”

Song: We’re all made of Stars

  • “If I could write ev’ry single day I would write all my cares away!”

Song: When Your Feet Don’t Touch The ground [I would HIGHLY recommend listening to this song]

  • “When did life become so complicated?
    Years of too much thought and time I wasted
    And in each line upon my face
    Is a proof I fought and lived another day.”
  • “When your feet don’t touch the earth
    You can’t feel the things that hurt
    And you’re free! There’s no need to come down…”

***

On a slightly separate note, in the song The Circus of Your Mind, Barrie’s financial backer, expresses his deep dissatisfaction with the play Barrie is creating:

“You say I will adore it, but I’m paying for it
A little more reality and less of this insanity.
How am I gonna to face it?
Such a disgrace, yet
Here we go again and again and again!”

It’s a good reminder that sometimes when you’re trying something new—something that means a shit ton to you—not everyone is going to think it’s a good idea. Some may even think you’re off your head…

Nearly everyone involved in the original staging of Peter Pan thought is was going to be a critical and financial flop. Even the actors.

How wrong they were.

 

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Amateur (& loving it)

I am not a professional screenwriter. I am a self-taught (aka internet-taught) screenwriter who loves what he does. What’s more, I don’t plan to pretend to know what I’m doing.

How does one get better at something? Obviously, by sitting around and thinking about how great it would be to be really good at something.

The word amateur has negative connotations in our society. For many, ‘amateur‘ means unskilled and shoddy. It certainly can mean that. But I know plenty of professionals who do shoddy work. Much worse, they don’t care about what they do.

The root of the word amateur comes from the word ‘love.’ The true meaning of the word comes from doing something because you love it, not because you have to, not for monetary gain…

Amateur, definition: A person who engages in this study, sport, or other activity for pleasure rather than for financial or professional reasons.

I’m proud to be an amateur. I’ll continue to write for the rest of my life, whether I get published or not. Whether I get paid or not. Because I love it.

And since I love it, I’ll continue to get better at it. I’ll take classes, read books, and most importantly, I’ll write. And write and write and write.

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So be proud to be an amateur. And go out and share your love of what you non-professionally do with others!

Why I Don’t Identify with “Gay” TV

This is a personal thing. I’m most definitely NOT trying to say that all TV made by queer people for queer people is the same, or that it’s not good or not worth watching.

I’m really glad it’s out there.

But you know how sometimes one extreme leads to another? I think queer people feeling the need to HIDE who they were from society for so long made our TV shows into a kind of one-trick-unicorn.

At the moment, it seems like Queer TV can–for the most part–be broken up into two categories:

  1. Over-the-top reality shows (contests, drag race, hunky hunks, etc.)
  2. Ensemble casts in the big city having-lots-o’-sex and dancing at night clubs

I don’t happen to identify with either of those types of shows. I’m sorry to say it, but glitter gets everywhere. And one of my favorite colors is gray.

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I’m not really interested in sex, and would much rather spend the night in, reading a book, rather than going to a club. As a not-very-sexual (or romantic) person, I find myself thinking “Isn’t there anything else in the world we could focus on right now?” There’s more to the queer experience than relationship drama.

Isn’t there?

All I’m saying is that I wish queer TV embraced variance among queer people a bit more. We’re not all the same. Shocker.

My whole life I’ve felt like an outcast both with the popular kids and the outcasts. And that’s still true. That’s why I want to make a show for us betwixt-and-betweeners.

I didn’t fit before and I don’t fit now, and I’ll probably never fit.

I’ve always wanted desperately to make the kind of media I want to see. And what I’m most fascinated by is the human experience as a whole.

I want to write about the experiences we humans have which make us feel the most alone, yet which are arguably the most universal:

Why does no one love me?

Why do people seem to like me better when I don’t act like myself?

Why is every single person in the world happier and more successful than me?

Why do I feel so alone?

What is the meaning of it all?

As I’m writing these down, I’m realizing you need to have a certain amount of luxury to worry about these things. I’ll definitely take that into consideration.

I also realized that I might be trying to make entertainment for the introspective. The overly-introspective. The introspective-to-a-fault types. Which is most definitely not everyone.

I love the idea of making mindless entertainment which is not mindless. You can enjoy it without thinking, but if you want to think, there’s plenty to sink your brain-teeth into.

What’s more, the highly dysfunctional characters remind you that you’re not alone. If you can learn to love and empathize with characters who are so imperfect, maybe you can empathize a little bit more with yourself.

So let’s keep being ourselves, in our many, many forms. Let’s begin to recognize that while it’s absolutely fantastic to embrace our sexuality, there’s also people out there who don’t really relate to that.

Yes, I did take time out of my usual gay agenda to complain about the overuse of hunky, shirtless men on TV.

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I hope I’m not alone here, or the show I’m developing will have no audience whatsoever.

It’s a very tricky task to represent everybody. And there certainly are shows out there which portray a variety of queer identities and types of people, and do an amazing job with it.

But I want more…

I Recently Got Back into Writing…

For the past several months, I had a lot of difficulty getting myself to sit down and write. A big part of that was dealing with the rejection after attending conferences where you can pitch your TV Show ideas.

But I’m happy to report that I recently got over myself and started writing again, encouraging myself by remembering that no one else cares. Essentially, I’m pretty sure the people who didn’t like The Gay Adventures most likely forgot me (and my project) five seconds after reading it.

I remember them, of course…but they’re not welcome to be a part of my writing process. That’s for me, thanks.

Here’s an Excerpt from Episode Two, which I’m writing now:

EXT. PIRATE SHIP DECK – DAY

Hook and Smee stand together by the railing. Hook holds a battered pistol with gold detailing.

HOOK: …and if Peter still refuses to take me seriously, that’s when I fire the warning shot.

Hook aims, then hesitates.

SMEE: Go ahead, Captain, I’m right here.

Hook misunderstands, and aims the pistol at Smee.

SMEE: (CONT’D)  No, no, Captain! I mean to say that I’m here for moral, emotional, and physical support.

HOOK: Oh, of course.

Hook aims towards the aft of the ship. Pause. He lowers the pistol.

SMEE: Is it the loud noise, Captain? I know you have sensitive hearing.

HOOK: (who wasn’t listening to Smee)  I’d plug my ears myself, Smee, but last time I did that I ruined my sensitive hearing.

Hook glances down at his pointy hook, which does not make a good earplug.

This is my Therapy

Why do I write?

A HUGE reason why is too process what I see, what I think, how I feel…

And The Gay Adventures of Peter Pan is my therapy. I project myself onto on my characters (hopefully in a healthy way), and allow them to act out my own unhealthy habits. My insecurities, impulses and secret thoughts…

So I thought I’d share some of what I work through with my characters:

Captain Hook – I love Hook and find him the easiest to write for. Having Hook take his denial to an extreme (literally burying his head in the sand or refusing to believe there’s a boulder in his path), allows me to see and express my tendency to plug my ears and hum when there’s something I “don’t want to know.”

Hook allows me to express my denial, my fearful choices, my lack of self-esteem, my tendency to cling to the past and over-analyze, my desire to be seen in a positive light even if I’ve done something incredible stupid, and the list goes on and on and on.

Hook is a way for me to view how past experiences can strongly influence current life decisions. The reason Hook’s choices are often so backwards is because he’s forgotten his past and therefore re-written his memories to be what he wished they were.

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Peter Pan – Like Peter, I often wish I could just run around and climb trees. He’s a good way to connect with the id and stay in the moment.

But he also provides an outlet for the part of myself which tries to wall off my emotions and unwanted thoughts. His strategy? If it makes you feel bad, block it out.

I was cut off from my emotions for years and only recently began opening up more and practicing my vulnerability. I think it also helps to write for someone who’s such an extreme. In comparison, I feel a little more grounded.

John Darling – John is my geeky and socially anxious side. He doesn’t fit in at school (and neither did I), but he doesn’t know how to “fix” that. When I write for John I get to let out the part of myself that wishes I were more easy-going, but in the end wants to control everything. “If I could just control myself more, then I could be more easy-going!!!!!”

John has to suffer through everything he hates so he knows he can survive it. A large part of social anxiety comes from mental exaggeration. You go over and over the same thing in your head and create a story to go along which can make even the tiniest thing seem insurmountable:

A pause in a conversation is the scariest thing in the world. And don’t even get me started on public speaking…

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Smee – Smee is my shadow (the part of myself I’m not in touch with). Smee gives and gives with no expectations. He trusts people implicitly.  I have trouble trusting people, and learned to give so I could get something in return.

Writing for Smee, I feel like I’m finally beginning to understand what it feels like to view the world through a lens of love and trust. And I have to say, it feels pretty good. It’s not like Smee never gets hurt or taken advantage of, but his general experience is joyful and my general experience is one of anxiety and suspicion.

***

I’m basically “writing what I know,” but metaphorically.  I’ve never lived on a tropical island or been a pirate captain, and I haven’t yet learned to fly. Instead, I’m writing from my many years of experience of being imperfect.

A special thanks to my anxiety, depression, and negativity for being both my inspiration and an endless source of new ideas!

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

This is another weird and creative show I would highly recommend. I thought Season 1 was written much better than Season 2, but check it out and see what you think:

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Excerpt: [or click here to watch the clip]

EXT. BRIDGE – NIGHT

GORDON: Give us the dog or I kill her!

DIRK: Give us ‘the her’ or we’ll throw the dog off the bridge.

TODD: What??

DIRK: I’m bluffing. But if he shoots her, throw the dog off the bridge.

GORDON: Why did you attack us?

DIRK: We didn’t! How do you know who we are?

GORDON: We don’t! Where’s the kitten?

TODD: What kitten?

DIRK: Who’s that woman?

GORDON: You don’t know her?

DIRK: Do you?

GORDON: Why did you burn my house down?

DIRK: I burnt your house down?!

TODD: Where’s Lydia?

GORDON: She’s not here. Bring me the dog!

DIRK: Why do you want it?

GORDON: Why did you take it?

TODD: We don’t know!

GORDON: Why did you kill Patrick Spring?

TODD: We didn’t!

DIRK: Did you?

GORDON: Just just bring me the dog!

INT. CAR – SAME TIME

Two FBI agents use fancy equipment to listen to the conversation on the bridge.

AGENT 1: What the hell are they talking about?

AGENT 2: Dogs, cats… I don’t know.

AGENT 1: These are the stupidest goddamn people alive.

British Phrases

Yo, I’m back! I mentioned I would add to my list of awesome British phrases, so here are some of my latest discoveries, mostly found while watching The Great British Baking Show:

  • “Mad as a box of frogs”
    • Translation: crazy as a container of animals who know how to hop. I had a box of frogs once. Was it mad? Yes. Yes, it was.
  • “Don’t lose your rag”
    • I just hate it when my rag goes missing! I blame the cat.
  • “Blow me”
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    “But blow me if it didn’t work.
    • Mary Berry used this phrase—-to my great surprise—-to express her enthusiasm about an inspired flavor combination. I think it means something slightly different in Britain. I had on cultural blinders, but no more.

 

I frickin’ love this show!

I have a ‘niche’ idea

Let me translate: I have an idea for a TV show which is too queer for mainstream studios and “too big” for queer studios. Is it the flying budget?? Because I will fling the actors off of high structures if needed.

…but then we’d have to keep hiring new actors, so that wouldn’t work.

***

I have now attended a total of two [2] pitchfests. Which is roughly two too many.

A ‘pitchfest’ is like a low-budget horror film, where you live out your worst nightmare: an eternal hell of five-minute meetings where you bare your soul to strangers and they reject you. OR, they lead you on and ask to see more and then reject you later, when they have time to do it properly.

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As a card-carrying introvert, I was also able to be around large crowds, loud noise, and a constant flow of unfamiliar faces and small talk! It was the WORST.

What I was told at the conferences more than anything else, was that I have a ‘niche’ show. This was not really news to me, but—as I mentioned in my Millennials post—The Gay Adventures is less about sexuality or gender, and much more about being human and accepting yourself.

To be fair, not many people can relate to that.

If I was pitching a show with a strictly cis-gendered, straight, white cast, would it have had a better reception? Would it have come across as a show for “everyone,” despite the fact that only a small slice of the population could relate to those characters?

**Someday I hope to be rejected because my idea is weird and terribly written, NOT because it’s queer. But it’s only 2018, so I may have to wait a while.**

But seriously, saying “No” because the show is queer may have been an easier excuse than “I hate it,” or “You’re ugly.” Seriously. I can’t rule that out.

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Here are some of my favorite responses to my pitch (so far)

  • “I’ve never heard anything like it.” [“No.”]
  • “It’s very…creative.” [“No.”]
  • “What if the characters weren’t gay?”
    • They say to be open to suggestions, especially from seasoned professionals in the media industry, and to always be polite, but that you don’t have to take suggestions which would change the integrity of your project. I think this comment falls under the second category. Not all my characters have to be gay, but, um…some of them have to be gay.
  • “What if they weren’t, all, you know…dead?”
    • This was said to me by a doe-eyed man representing a LGBTQ+ segment of a production company (which specialized in light-hearted, feel-good pieces). I felt kind of bad for him. It looked like I had broken his brain.
  • “Um, we’re looking for French Crime Dramas.”
    • I met this guy in the standby line, and had no idea what he was looking for. Turns out he was looking for French Crime Dramas.

If you are also trying to pitch a movie or show, I only have one piece of advice: don’t do it!!!!! Just keep your dreams bottled up inside you where they belong.

“Failure to Thrive”

The Gay Adventures, Excerpt:

EXT. WATER/ROWBOAT – NIGHT

Smee rows a moldy old rowboat; Hook frowns into the distance.

HOOK: I feel for these boys. I do. It’s thanks to Peter they have no adults to put them down. I mean, to pick them up. A classic case of FTT.  (throws a glance at Smee)  To the layman, of course, that would be ‘Failure to Thrive.’

SMEE: They seem to be thriving to me, Captain.  (then)  I thought you agreed to leave those
child psychology books lie.

Hook avoids Smee’s eyes.

HOOK: Indeed, I was going to put the book down, Smee, so I could go about my
regular business. But most unfortunately my hook got stuck in the cover and I literally could not let go. So now I carry it with me, so we might never be apart.

Hook touches his breast pocket gently.

***

a lil’ sidenote: Hook is referencing an older understanding of Failure to Thrive, when children who did not receive enough physical contact lost interest in eating, and appeared to simply give up on life.