Thursday, July 26, 2018

Can't Blog. Writing

I've been in an interesting headspace lately. It seems that the Flow that began back on June 22nd has never really stopped.
And it's been over a month now! See, what happened is that after I finished the screenplay for Nobody's Hero on June 29, I thought I was done. I was floating in the afterglow, with no ideas or concepts for anything that might happen to these particular characters after their final scene. In fact, I was pretty sure that I was finished with it - that this would be a one-and-done, standalone story.

That lasted for all of three days.

On Monday, July 2, at 4:51pm, I texted a question about the screenplay to the other guys in Second Player Score that was meant to be completely rhetorical - I wasn't expecting an answer, or if there was one, it was just supposed to be humorous at best. But then lo and behold, one of their answers unlocked an entirely new level: a clear path to Nobody's Hero II.

Just like that, the ideas started to pour in. By the next day, I already had a 10-page scene written that actually ended up becoming a "bonus DVD-only scene" but was the basis for what was to come. By July 6, I had a complete story outline. By July 9, I was up to 17 pages. And then, eight days later on Tuesday, July 17, the 112-page script for Nobody's Hero II was complete.

It didn't quite end there, though. Unlike the first installment, this second installment was constantly suggesting another part to come after it; basically, it was setting things up perfectly for Nobody's Hero III. The ideas for the final leg of the trilogy (yes, that's what it looks like it's going to end up becoming) required that I do a little bit of research, so I spent a few days looking up and absorbing the information I would need. But then once that was over with, I went right back to the writing grind.

And so now as of today, July 26, the script for NHIII is up to 55 pages and counting. When will it be done? Who knows. All I can say at this moment is: excuse me, but I have to stop blogging now, because there's a screenplay that I need to get back to.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Joel and Felicity's Birthday Party

Hi everyone! Today, all of us here at the BTB (Brian Tashima Blog) are celebrating the birthdays of our resident superstars, Joel Suzuki and Felicity Smith. We have cake, punch, games, and more cake, so won't you join us?
Not actual picture
B: Happy birthday, you guys.
F: Yeah, whatever.
J: Um, thanks, but you know that today isn't our actual birthday, right?
B: Right, no, yeah, I know. Yours was on Tuesday, the 17th, and Felicity's is this Saturday, the 21st. I just figured we'd have a joint celebration today since it's right in the middle of both days.
F: What a ripoff.
B: Huh?
F: Doing one party for two different occasions. It's like when your birthday falls on Christmas.
B: Hey, it's not my fault you guys have birthdays that are so close together.
J: Actually, it kind of is.
B: Anyway, I've given up trying to figure out how old you both really are, which is why the cake only has two candles on it. You know, one for each of you.
F: Oh, I thought you were just being cheap.
B: I mean, besides, who wants to eat a cake that has dozens of candles dripping wax all over it, right?
F: You mean, like the one we got for you last year?
B: C'mon, be nice.
J: Why do you think she's not being nice?
F: Because I'm making fun of how totally ancient he is.
J: Oh, okay, I get it.
B: Let's just sing the song.
(Brian and Joel sing "Happy Birthday to You" while Felicity sits there, looking bored.)
J: Good thing that song is now considered public domain.
B: I know, right? Okay, you guys, blow out the candles.
F: You don't have to direct our every move, you know.
(Felicity and Joel blow out the candles.)
B: Yay!
F: All right, let's get to the presents.
(Joel and Felicity unwrap their first presents. Felicity's is a copy of Far Cry 5 for the XBox One, while Joel's is a copy of Xenoblade Chronicles 2.)
J: I already have this.
F: *snorts*
B: Oh - wait, you do?
J: Yeah. And I finished it. This game came out last December.
B: Right, but I thought...
F: Apparently, you didn't think hard enough.
J: Um, it's okay. I can keep it as a backup, or something.
B: No, no, I'll return it and get you something else. I still have the receipt.
J: Are you sure?
B: Yeah. Let's just move on.
(Joel and Felicity unwrap their next presents, which are sets of guitar strings and picks.)
J: Cool, thanks.
F: We can never get enough of these, at least.
B: All right, let's do another one. How about the ones you got for each other?
J: Okay.
F: Sure, yeah, why not.
(Joel and Felicity start unwrapping the presents. Felicity finishes first.)
F: Yay, lifepods.
J: Does that mean you like it?
F: Dude, we can get lifepods almost any time we want back in Spectraland.
J: Um, I know, but they're usually kind of hard to bring back to Earth, and I know you like them, so I figured I'd -
F: Yeah, now that you mention it, how did you get these back here, anyway? They usually spoil when they go through the Rift.
J: Well, you know...
F: Time travel?
J: Yeah. Sorta.
F: Ah, ok. Well, thanks.
J: You're welcome.
F: All right, now finish opening yours.
(Joel finishes opening his present, which is a piece of parchment with musical notes written on it.)
J: Oh, cool!
B: What is it?
F: It's a wavecast. I wrote it myself.
J: What does it do?
F: Play it and find out.
J: Okay.
(Joel picks up his wavebow.)
J: Do I have to visualize anything while I'm playing?
F: Nah. It'll do its thing automatically.
(Joel plays the wavecast. A giant sparkleblock, like the one from Volume Two: Mystery of the Moonfirematerializes in the middle of the room.)
J: Whoa, nice!
F: I knew you'd like it.
(Joel gets up and dives right into the sparkleblock.)
J: Woo!
F: Hold on, I'll join you.
(Felicity enters the sparkleblock as well. The two of them swim around inside of it, chasing the little lights around.)

Well, I guess they'll just open the rest of their presents later. In the meantime, feel free to help yourself to more cake, and we'll see you next week!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Movie Roundup: They Are Coming Out Faster Than I Can Watch Them! Edition

Talking about the subject of movies last week reminded me that we are way overdue for another Movie Roundup post!
Is it just me, or does it seem like there are so many need-to-watch movies coming out these days? And on top of that, time goes by so fast that before you know it, a movie that was on your to-see list is - whether you actually did get around to seeing it or not - already available on DVD/Blu-Ray, Netflix, or even cable TV (Deadpool from 2016, I'm looking at you).

In the last Movie Roundup post from back in January (again, how does time go by so fast?), I said that I would probably offer thoughts on six different upcoming films. Because of scheduling issues, I actually haven't gotten around to seeing two of them. One of them is already out on home video. The other is still hanging on in theaters but just may end up eluding me this time around.

Anyway, on to it! And as always, remember that these are not really reviews, these are just my random thoughts, and those thoughts could and probably will include big-time spoilers (although I'm sure you've probably seen some of these movies a bunch of times already by now).

Black Panther
I really, really, really want to go to Wakanda. With their amazing advanced technology, can you imagine the kinds of video game consoles that place could produce? Or maybe they already do produce them, and I just missed it. Wait, what? Wakanda is a fictional country? How dare you even suggest that!

Ready Player One
Read the book, loved it. Saw the movie, also loved it. Yes, I know a bunch of things were changed, but I think the changes were both necessary and well-executed. Totally worth seeing in IMAX 3-D. Unbelievably, this is one of those that are already out on home video.

Avengers: Infinity War
This movie was everything I wanted it to be. Beyond that, I'm not sure what else I can say that hasn't already been said in this previous post.

Deadpool 2
The "Deadpool Kills Deadpool" and "You're Welcome, Canada" post-credits scenes were just THE BEST. Also very cool: the X-Men full cast cameo and the Thanos joke. I'm such a sucker for meta humor.

Incredibles 2
Jack-Jack is awesome. Hoping he gets his own solo feature someday. Maybe he can be like the Wolverine of the Incredibles franchise. Who's with me here?

Okay, well, that's it for this edition of Movie Roundup. I know, I know, the comments were kind of short and spoiler-free, but that's what happens when you have to save time for watching even more movies (as well as writing your own). Tune in next time when I might possibly talk about Ant-Man and the Wasp, Solo: A Star Wars Story (yes, this is one of the movies that was on the previous list), I Kill Giants (an adaptation of one of my all-time favorite graphic novels, out on Amazon), Teen Titans Go! To the Movies (seriously!), Venom, and Aquaman.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

My Surreal Screenplay-Writing Experience

A couple of weeks ago in my latest Status Update post, you may have seen (or you may have quickly glossed over it, that's entirely possible) that one of the writing projects I listed as being in progress was a screenplay adaptation of Nobody's Hero, the concept album by my band Second Player Score.
The honest truth is that it wasn't so much a work-in-progress as it was an item on my to-do list, which had been sitting there for a Very. Long. Time. Now, in my defense, there was already a rough synopsis for the story that had even been turned into an audiobook-style piece of flash fiction, narrated by the awesome Tryston Blyth of Neue Regel Radio. So some work had already been done on it. All I needed to do was sit down, pour some tea (or beer, depending on the time of day), and flesh it out.

So, since the fourth volume of the Joel Suzuki series had been safely shipped off to my editor and the script for the first issue of Glorified (another item on the to-do list) had just been completed, I figured that the time had come to finally tackle this particular project. My assumption was that I would get started on it, make some decent progress, and then when the draft of Volume Four came back from my editor in a month or so, I would put it away and return my attention to Joel and company.

But then something totally unexpected happened. Using the existing synopsis, I sketched out an outline for the screenplay and started to fill it in. I quickly ran into a problem, though - there just didn't seem to be enough there to really create an entire movie that would be engaging and fun to watch all the way through. Sure, there were some cool parts here and there, but there were also large gaps where I just had no idea what was going to be happening. So at that point, I shifted gears. I kept the fundamental story line intact, but I also made some pretty dramatic changes to the characters and the setting, among other things. And that's when the unexpected occurred.

The next day, Friday, June 22nd, I sat down to write. And guess what - I couldn't stop writing. I got so much into the flow that I almost forgot I had a studio session booked later that day to record tracks for Second Player Score's third album. After the session was done, I came home and wrote some more. And over the ensuing days, I kept writing and writing and writing, stopping only to do things like eat (which I did less of than usual), sleep (which I did MUCH less of than usual), and care for dependents (you can ask them what they thought of my parenting skills during that time). Even basic personal hygiene activities were delayed or sometimes forgotten altogether.

As the days went by, I was beginning to think that this project was going to be completed much, much sooner than I had originally expected. And sure enough, on Friday, June 29th, I typed the words "THE END," and it was done. I had written the first draft of an entire 102-page screenplay in just one week. And really, if I hadn't had to do those other things I mentioned (eating, sleeping), it probably would have been done even sooner.

Now, I know some of you battle-scarred NaNoWriMo veterans out there may be scoffing right now, thinking "Hah! 102 pages in seven days? Dude, I can double that output in a single weekend." And yes, I know that you can. But please understand, something like this is not normal for me. I don't usually work at this kind of pace. Until now, my benchmark for fast writing was the first draft of Joel Suzuki, Volume One, which I was able to complete in a little over four months.

But there was something about this that was different. It honestly felt like someone had already written the screenplay in invisible ink, and all I was doing was rubbing grape juice on the computer monitor to make the words appear. Sure, some of it may be because I employed a few well-worn cinematic tropes, but I don't think that that explains everything. Plot points that I had been a little concerned about simply resolved themselves like magic when I got to that stage of the story. Seeds of foreshadowing that I planted near the beginning blossomed at exactly all the right moments. The entire experience was, in a word, surreal.

Anyway, I'm not really sure where it's going to go from here. I have some experience in the realm of novel-publishing, but when it comes to getting a screenplay out into the world, I'm a complete novice. Fortunately, I have friends I can consult for advice, and there is, of course, tons of available reference material about this particular subject that I can peruse (really, mostly all the skills I've learned in my life, I've learned from reading books).

Even if it never progresses anywhere beyond my desk drawer, though, I have to say: I am happy. The feeling that one gets from being in The Flow like that is simply indescribable. Nearly a week has passed since I finished the draft, and the afterglow is still there, strong as ever. While doing mundane activities, I've been amusing myself by reciting lines of dialogue from the script in my head (or sometimes out loud, which scares my cats). Regardless of what happens from here, whether this ever gets made into an actual movie or not, it doesn't matter. At the risk of sounding corny, I feel like I've just had the experience of a lifetime, and - inasmuch as writing a screenplay can do something like this for someone -  I've become a better person for it.

Thanks for reading. See you next week.