JSDC
XV. The Hanging Night< Previous Chapter | Next Chapter >

Inbox: Questions for Actors 

I was watching 'Inside the Actors Studio' because I'm obsessed with it and I always ask my friends the questions from the questionnaire James Lipton does at the end of the show. I figured I would e-mail it to you and you can answer it. – Stef

What is your favorite word?
It is difficult to choose only one. Perhaps… Sleeper.

What is your least favorite word?
Just. As in, “I’m just a girl from the Bronx.” The word “just” is overused in the sense of “merely.”
I am not merely anything. Neither are you.

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Untouched land.

What turns you off?
People who do not believe.

What is your favorite curse word?
Fuck! …And all variations thereof.

What sound or noise do you love?
Wind moving through trees.

What sound or noise do you hate?
The sound of traffic and machines.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Assuming that writer does not count since that too is my current profession, I would like to be a professional Ninja. Or a pro athlete. Or a singer. Perhaps a photographer. I think it would all come back to some sort of performance and writing. I can’t get away from it.

What profession would you not like to attempt?
Child star, movie reviewer or studio reader.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
We always knew you were special.


Incidentally, these questions are attributed to Proust, and the right to answer or ask them is not exclusive to actors. Try them yourself.

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Case Study 

Based on a true story...

INT. PERSON ONE'S CAR/PERSON TWO'S ROOM

Alternating shots as Person One and Two converse on the phone.

Person One: …It was retarded but a lot of fun. Well hey, I just got to Donna’s so I have to go, but give me a call tomorrow and tell me about your night.
Person Two: What? Well, I didn't get to tell you what I wanted to tell you.
Person One: Oh, what did you want to tell me?
Person Two: Never mind. I'll tell you tomorrow.
Person One: No just tell me. I'll wait in the car for a minute--
Person Two: No it's fine I'll tell you tomorrow.
Person One: Are you mad at me?
Person Two: No.
Person One: You promise?
Person Two: Uh... No.
Person One: Why are you mad at me? I said I would wait so you could tell me what you wanted to say.
Person Two: Never mind I'll just talk to you tomorrow--

CLICK. Person Two hangs up.

Guess the genders of One and Two.

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Vampire Hours 

Kill me now
Or I will die
Writing.
“Too many
Characters.
Subplot too
Complicated.
Protect
The
Star--”
I’m trying!
Two
ante meridiem
Passes me every night
Yet
I do not lay down.
I fight!
I do not
Go quietly
Because I know,
Somehow,
From my plight:
The characters are there,
The pieces in place,
If I refine the words,
And economize the space…
It will all come out all right.

Maybe even tonight.

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In Remembrance of Jimmy 

Writing a screenplay is like writing a novel.

It is commonly believed that the former takes much less time and the latter is much more a labor of love. That is incorrect.

My biggest challenge in screenwriting is economy. I am constantly reminded to simplify.

Narrative…

Subplots…

Currently, I am in the process of cutting a supporting character. (Let’s call him Jimmy.) Jimmy’s subplot is interesting and sometimes comical. His path weaves in and out of the other characters’ plots and culminates in an important event. He’s fun to write. However, I have too much going on.

I was afraid to cut Jimmy. Firstly because I had fallen in love with his role in the story. Secondly, I figured one of two things would happen, which is a risk:

1. All of the kinks in my screenplay would suddenly be removed and it would snap into one smooth, rad line of a story. (Score!)
2. The story would receive a dose of bland and I’d have loads of redrafting to do in order to compensate for the holes. (Suck!)

In reality, it has been a mixture of both. After much stubbornness, pacing and cringing, I began erasing Jimmy. This was the most problematic in the first act, where he serves as a mini-antagonist who prods the group of main characters to show their traits and relationships by reacting to his aggression. The trick was to remove Jimmy but keep the layers of these relationships in tact, especially in regards to the main character.

My solution was to reduce Jimmy from a supporting character to a nameless character (much like “cop” or “waitress”) who serves the same antagonistic purpose in only a few lines. Yes, he became more one-dimensional, (and I had to beware of cliché,) but I was then able to focus more on the main characters and their relationships.

Yeah, Jimmy had it coming.

Eulogy
Snip! Clip!
Oh, Jimmy… Die!
So sad to see you go.
Even though you were kind of a dick.
But you did manage to save one person’s life.
Which would be great if you hadn’t watched some other people die.
Well, at least you were really good at football.
And impersonating Darth Vader.

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Riddles in the Dark 

Do not attempt to click the following link unless you have approx. 4.8 days of free time at your disposal.

Breaking for sleep is not an option.

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Weird Divide 

Weird divide
And all the voices between
Old and new,
To you, the sage collage, I call
As I steal the words printed in Time’s
Past and present lives.

And to Originality,
Who has grown so old
That she might be reborn
To those precious few
Who write anyway,
I call even louder.

And from you,
Keeper of my secret,
I ask for silence
As we move through this windy continent
On the darkest evening of the year.

The night is quick. Stunning. Bars the light with black breath that burns like cold irons and the cutting wind that sweeps us away. You come because you think I am funny, but you do not know that tonight, I am serious.

Until I whisper in your ear. Close:
Many (O’ many far more important than we)
Want to read my screenplay.
I’m attached.
But it’s not done.
I’m revising the climax.
I’m… Well,
I’ll show you.

I press your hand: Courage, friend. As we fly to where I go at night.

And the whispers, they keep coming.

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To a Writer Dying Young 

It is late, late in the evening. So late, dear reader, that I find it is morning. However you care to measure the time, it matters not to me, for, lately, no matter what the time, I am distracted.

I won’t write. I won’t sleep.

What happened to strong will?

It only needs a few revisions...

As my footsteps fall around my room, the words; they thump and beat:

OUT of the night that covers me,
    Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
    For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
    I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
    My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
    Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
    Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
    How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
    I am the captain of my soul.

-- Invictus, William Ernest Henley

And I remember that I’ve been here before;

Wildly unconquerable.

Or, so I thought.

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