We caught up with Zachary Rowell, the winner of our “So, Write Your Bills Away” Sweepstakes this week to see how he’s feeling heading into his fourth straight week of writing. He has eight more weeks to go to finish a feature-length screenplay. Meanwhile, as long as he writes 30 pages per month, we’ve promised to pay his bills! And you get to follow along with his process, give your input, and learn from him. This week is extra special.
Instead of telling us about his process in his usual vlogs, he is SHOWING us! In just under 15 minutes, watch him write a scene and narrate his thought process. Where did he draw his inspiration? Why is he pausing? Is that really how you spell jewelry? Hear everything that’s going through his head.
Plus, Zachary wants to hear from you. He needs help with a title for his movie, and he wants to know what kind of vlogs would be helpful to you. Get in on the conversation over at our SoCreate – Screenwriting for Everyone Facebook Group. Enjoy!
“Hello, and we’re back again, another week, and I decided as you can see, to switch it up this week. Instead of just talking to the camera, I figured I would write a page of my screenplay, just showing you what the process is like. It caused me to have some anxiety because I don’t like people watching me write, even over my shoulder, don’t look! And here, I’m just out in the open. But, we’re doing it.
I’m kind of skipping ahead in my script for this scene. It’s a scene that I’ve been having in my head for a long time. It’s one of the first scenes I actually imagined when I was thinking about the movie. So, I decided to write that.
Basically, Calvin, this is after he gets some evidence that his wife is cheating on him with Santa, and his frustration is growing. Obviously, his frustration is growing. He’s not the happiest camper when he enters the mall at Party Depot to pick up supplies for the work Christmas party. So that’s where his mind is at right now, to get you up to speed.
So, here, I’m writing. I’m not writing right now, but I’m looking over the screen that I just recorded. Anyway, as you can see, I’m pausing right here, and I’m not sure why that is. I don’t know what’s going to happen. Ok, so I was probably making sure I knew how to spell “violently,” before I made a fool of myself. That’s probably (laughs), that’s probably what happened that moment.
As you can see right there, I am writing a specific song into the script which is frowned upon. A lot of people don’t like it. Or, they claim you shouldn’t do it. But, I don’t think one or two throughout the script is going to hurt. I don’t think you should overdo it. And also, if it’s a scene and you use techno music or punk music, you can journalize it. But for this scene right here, I had something in mind. It doesn’t mean that if the script happened to get made that they would use it. But I put it in there. If you were wanting to read the script, and you want some music to go along with the screen, pull it up.
I’m struggling here. What’s inside a party store? I still am not sure. I just have party hats. That’s all I can think of. It’s a party store. They’ve got to have party hats. So, instead of googling it right now, just move along. Cool party items. That’s all we need to know right now. They can fill in the rest. It’s not that important.
As you can see, I just write “TEEN EMPLOYEE.” Just keep it simple for these, these not even minor characters. Characters that are going to appear once in the script, you don’t need to get too detailed, unless your story depends on it. I put “white girl” because that will come into play, so I need to write that, but I don’t need to say, “oh, she has a piercing in her nostril.” We don’t need to know that. Does she? Maybe. Maybe she doesn’t.
So, as I continue to write here, I’ll tell you about my week a little bit. The week was interesting. I didn’t get a lot of pages done, but the pages I did write, I felt really good about. So, honestly, I’ll take that over writing a bunch of pages I don’t feel good about. I’d rather write quality pages than the alternative.
Ok, what is going on here? Where am I at … I just recorded this, so you’d think I would know what was going through my mind in these long pauses. But I also am in my head a lot, so you probably can write faster than I can. There’ll be some days where I just want to get stuff on the page. I just want to get through it. But then there are other times where I want to take my time. Maybe I won’t have to do as much editing when I look back on it if I really read over it now and put in the effort. I don’t really recommend working that way. It’s best just to get the first draft out of the way. But that’s just not how I do things, unfortunately.
What’s interesting about this scene, is if you’ve read part of the script so far, or if you happened to read my past script “Video Rental,” I tend to be dialogue-heavy. I like writing dialogue, fast-paced type stuff. In this scene, it’s going to be mainly action. Not only am I showing you my writing as I’m doing it, I’m showing you something I’m not actually comfortable with, which is writing action. It’s not that I don’t like it necessarily, it’s just that I find it to be more work, more work on the brain to write action than dialogue.
Ok, so more party supplies. I feel like I’ve never been to a party store. But I’ve been to Party City, and I don’t know what they have there. I still do not know. I can think of the tools that you need to have a party, but nothing that gets the party started.
So, Calvin, he’s about done. The music is pumping. Now he’s seeing these people attempt to dance.
I thought this might be interesting. It’s going to be 14 minutes long, just so you know. I’m staring at the time stamp, and it’s going to be 14 minutes unless the SoCreate team can find a way to speed things up. But, it’s a long video, it might seem boring to you, I’m not sure. I thought it might be neat, especially for newer writers, I don’t think, I think it would be helpful. Especially if I was in the position where I’m just writing my first screenplay, it would be cool to watch someone actually write one, or at least a page.
I remember watching, it was one of those magazine-turned-YouTube channels, but they had a screenwriter basically edit and make some changes on her screenplay in the moment, and it was really cool to watch. So I figured this might be something similar. Obviously I’m not a professional writer, not at that level yet. But you know, whatever. It is what it is.
So, back to the script. Frustration … I think I’ve said that a lot. And this is actually inspired by a memory I had at the mall a few months back. I was in some store. It wasn’t a party store because I don’t throw a lot of parties. But I was in this store, and they just had this music blaring. You couldn’t even think, it was so loud. You couldn’t hear what the employees were saying. And I remember thinking, “what in the? Why would they do this? What is the point?” And I thought, wow, this could really work in the script. He’s already in a bad place mentally. And then he goes in here, and he has to deal with this you-know-what. Yeah, that actually sparked some inspiration, getting out of the house and going to the mall.
Also, this scene coming up, I think it was that same day. Also, another experience I had in the mall, and they had these little kiosks inside the mall. And there was this one that had a bunch of robotic-type toys, and there was this one dog. I guess it was a dog? It looked like a dog. And it was just going “wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah” just constantly, “wah, wah, wah, wah, wah,” just walking around the little kiosk station. And I just remember feeling so bad for the guy who has to run that shop. I mean, just listening to that all day? You wonder what it does to a man. That’s all I’m saying. I wonder what his family is like. Do they like him? Is he nice to them? I wouldn’t blame anybody.
Oh, I misspelled “jewelry” there. This is another example of me kind of being lazy. Everyone knows what a mall kiosk is, you know cell phone repairs, people selling jewelry, they have toys. I don’t think you need to go into too much detail unless the story calls for it.
I was watching a video, where Kevin Smith was talking about his screenwriting process or whatever, and he also said that he was lazy when it came to action writing, which made me feel a little better about things.
Anyway, “Untitled Christmas Project,” it’s still untitled. And if you have a suggestion, please give it to me. I will give you credit. I’ll put “Title By Whoever.”
Also, if you have any suggestions for upcoming videos or these vlogs, there’s still more to come. I think I still have ten or eleven left, maybe, and I don’t want to be just talking to the camera the whole time. I mean, obviously, there will be some like that. But I don’t want that to be the only thing. So, if you have any suggestions on what I could do, what you might want to see, what could help you, or what would be entertaining, you could also leave your suggestions along with the title suggestions, because I know people are going to do that. For sure, this time, this time is going to be the charm where people actually suggest something.
So, Calvin. He’s done. He’s over it. He’s stomping on the toy, and he does not like this mall life, and who could blame him. And, remember, this is after – he doesn’t know for sure – but this is after he suspects his wife is cheating on him with Santa. He’s throwing this work party to get a feeling with how she’s interacting with these Santa’s at work, and he doesn’t want to put up with all this stuff that’s happening to him at the mall. Now he’s attracted a crowd. They just watched this poor dog get murdered. Things are not going well for Calvin.
And I decided to end this here because it’s already 14 minutes long, and you know, that’s too long. Bye.” – Screenwriter Zachary Rowell, SoCreate “So, Write Your Bills Away” Sweepstakes Winner