The Golden Ticket.

Dare to try. I’m all in.

I spend the first months of quarantine, like most of us, clueless of what was happening. I had no idea of what was going on and at first, the lockdown was supposed to be only for 30 days. What I wasn’t counting on was that the government would have no idea of how to control the virus and keep extending it. After thinking a lot about this mess and only getting angry, I decided to focus on what would make me feel alive and happy. My writing projects and my blog. Out of nowhere the projects picked up.

Give it a try little bird, you might fall, but you might fly.

I’m currently working on some scripts for the Nickelodeon contest. I have to submit a spec script from the list and an Original Comedy pilot. A Spec Script is a document that proves that you can work for the show, using the same tone and voice, almost like you would fit in to a work in a company. It’s like a skill test on indeed.

If you write scripts or read it, you know each one of those is about 28 pages in maybe 3 or 4 acts, a cold opening, and a tag. The preparation for the scripts is intense, because after all if I did a good job and get lucky, I could get a trainee placement in California, which would be ideal and give me chance to work with I study to do. The spec script it’s the hardest one for me.

During the Creative Writing Classes for Entertainment, at Full Sail, I had about 5 or 6 classes I had to write scripts. They were all about ten to twelve pages each and we were constantly having to give feedback and receive feedback, but receiving feedback from peers that know less than you, it’s like screaming at the top of the mountain. It echoes, but it doesn’t do you any good, and it is too vague. I had two scriptwriting classes, even though they were the peeling my skin with a knife, I retained the most information of all classes because I enjoyed it.

On the first Writing for TV class, we had a very sweet teacher, he comprehended that some of us had never done that before, and took it easy. We had to choose a show from the list and continue to work with it on Writing for TV class II. I choose the show I was most familiar and comfortable to write for, Brooklyn 99. I had to study everything possible about the series to recreate my spec script as if I was working on the show, like the character’s mannerisms, obsessions, reactions, and vocabulary. It is easy to write on a series that had been on the air for a few seasons, but this time the show I choose to write for this contest only had one season and about 10 episodes altogether. Pen15 is a great show, but I have to confess that I’m having trouble writing with their voices.

Pen15 is executive produced by Andy Sandberg’s Lonely Island Production’s company, who plays, Jake, the main character from Brooklyn 99. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I like writing about shows that I enjoy and I’m familiar with, so study about it it’s not torturing. For example, I could never write about NCSI or Law & Order. It’s just not my kind of show. I have been watching interviews and reading about the show’s creator, learning what the idea behind it. That’s when I get in trouble. Since there are not many episodes or seasons, there is not much I can research.
Here is a little bit of my process to write a spec that I learn at Writing for tv I and II, while at Full Sail University, taking the Creative Writing Bachelor’s degree:

1- Write an outline of the idea.

Writing a few outlines ideas and coming up with the best one, works for me. Everyone has a different way to do it. Write the outline first, so you have something to follow.
I use colored note cards, so I write different acts in different colors and number the cards.

2- Create a Beat Sheet.

This is like mapping out the episode and how things will evolve through the acts. You have to know what is going to happen in the A-Plot and on the B-plot. For example, for this spec, the A-Plot is Anna lends Maya a notebook with personal stories, so Maya could read it, and Maya loses it. B-Plot is Maya dealing with her Aunt bullying her during a visit to her house.

The Beat Sheet I made for Brooklyn 99

3- Treatment.

If you have time, you write a treatment document, with all the scene heading and what is supposed to happen in that scene, without dialogues. I won’t have time for it this time.

4- Start writing the spec.

During the process, I research what type of show is it and how many pages the script of an episode has it. For Pen15, I learned that they have a Cold Opening of 2 to 3 pages. The first and second acts are about 8 pages each, so the third and the fourth are smaller and they contain a 1-page tag. It’s very similar to Brooklyn 99.

5- Revise.

I’m not on that stage yet. Hopefully, I will get to this point by the end of the week. I understand that this is a contest to be a trainee, but if I look sloppy, they will pass me without even reading the first page. Make sure the punctuation is correct, the Scene Heads are according to what’s happening and the dialogue makes sense to the kind of show you are trying to be part of. That’s what caused me lose all the points and I almost failed my class.

It’s a not difficult thing to do, it’s easy when you have written many other scripts and have the experience in your hands, which I don’t have much besides those classes. You can always learn. I think is like any other job where you have a set of rules to follow so you get work done in time. As I wrote here before, in January I made plans to go back to LA to study screenwriting, my plans are yet to happen.

About the Original Comedy Pilot, I will work on something based on my life, while married to a white conservative man from Indiana, which I hope, since is my creation, it will be easier to write. I have to so much to say in that pilot, I’m boiling.

All the other projects are a little obsolete for now, like the comic strip and the illustration online classes, even the Food Photography project, I had to put on the side for this month. First things first. This contest feels like I’m looking for the Golden Ticket to get into the chocolate factory.

Thats it for now! I have to go back to my scripts.

Stay safe.

J.G.Snelly.

The Social Media Effect.

How social media affects my confidence and my creativity

The past couple of weeks had been a series of events that I could not get my head around writing on the blog. I had my nieces visiting and having visitors is stressful, for different reasons. Also, they are Vegan, not that a problem, but at first, I had no idea what I would offer them to eat, and the stress part was starving the kids unintentionally.

The first day I had no clue of what could I cook for them besides vegetables and offer them coffee. Believe me, thats all I did for the first hours they were here. The second day, I come to my adult senses and ask them what could I cook for lunch, so we could all eat. I mean adult senses, because they are teenagers, at 15 and 18 years old. I was the responsible adult and feeling like a boss, I went to Walmart to buy veggies, tofu (couldn’t find it of course, found it at Whole Foods) and some veggie broth.

The menu I cooked was Brussels sprouts on the veggie broth and some teriyaki, Tofu with peppers and onions, some potatoes and grilled carrots. The girls enjoyed it, the younger one loved the Brussels and the tofu. My husband not so much. He always talks about eating healthy, but can’t eat vegetables. He was over dramatic about it, complain about how he remained hungry and minutes later, complain about having a headache, due to the lack of lunch. I enjoy eating vegan, my problem was actually the Brussels, as it left my entire house smelling like fart. If you have to cook it, open the windows and go ahead, light some candles. I’m warning you.

Another good highlight of this past week, is that I got rid of my social media apps on my phone, like Facebook and Twitter . I still use it, but like 2006, on my computer, when I’m home and make time for it. The reason why I decided to that, has a lot to do with the Mental Health issue I wrote about on the earlier post. I’m an advocate for this matter.

First of all, it was distracting, keeping me scrolling like a coin slot machine, always hoping for more and information that never seems enough. I saw the competitive side of people, the sad people, the attention seeker, the needy, the chains and I felt like I had enough. “If you love Jesus, you will share this photo”. Sure, cause Jesus will see me digging in social media like an addict and If I don’t share, he will not feel loved by me. Another factor, it messes with my confidence. How many times, have you felt like you are not good enough, due to great amount of “successful” friends?

People on social media always seems to have their live in a perfect world, with travels, jobs and everything else, they choose to post to make themselves to feel better. I wonder how much of this have actually a foot on their real day by day life? After spend an entire day, cussing myself for not getting my writing done, I sat down for a minute and let my mind wander. Those apps on my phone consuming my energy and my time, making me sad, needed to go. It was making my confidence drop to the ground. I’m sure I’m not alone with this feeling. Twitter is a constant battle of ego, Facebook is weddings, babies, my mom, and my aunt. So, I decided to drop the apps on my phone, only leaving Instagram, because I need to see what everyone else is having for lunch and I’m not that strong.

Back on the writing train, I’m currently working on my story about loneliness, that it was inspired by the years I lived in Sao Paulo, after moving back from Australia. It is about how loneliness pushes you to the edge and how can you make it out of it.

This is the “Dark Star” story excerpt :

“Another train has arrived at the station. It was probably the third or fourth I didn’t walk in. My brain is numb and I don’t feel like going home. The past couple of months it feels like I’m moved by unknown forces and the friction of my shoes against the concrete. I feel nothing.

I usually get home and there is no one there. I live alone and that how I feel the entire time. Except when I’m at work. I put a smile on my face, as I need to sell those trips for the rich kids who wants to experience what is to be out of their element. The agency sells it as a new life experience for a few months. In my mind I tell them “would you like to experience what is to be alone and the pain of not having familiar faces carving deep you skin?”  Let me show you how it feels…”

All that to get this little part on the script

FADE IN:

EXT. TRAIN PLATFORM – DAY

Mary 20’s, dressed informal with jeans and sneakers watch the train pass by.

Her eyes are fixed on the other side, like she sees something. She doesn’t blink.

Another Train arrive at the station. She doesn’t move.

I also received in the mail, my Rory Professional Cinema lights I bought in January. Its so bright, it seems like I could light up a stadium. I read the reviews and the were all saying great thing about it, and it was $79,00 after a promotional discount. I will soon be filming the Chiropractic videos for my husband’s YouTube Channel and the shorts.

As you can see, I decided to work for myself and move on from the writing jobs. It was not working, due to the lack of experience, as a recent graduate.

That’s all for this week ! Hope you get free from your fears and keep creating!

XXX

J. Snelly (@Joanagracio)

Just Keep Swimming

Another year starts and we come up with a lot of resolutions we are most certainly can’t keep up. A few years ago, one of the most successful resolutions I made was to stop drinking so much Starbucks coffee, as I was spending more money than I would like to on it. I’m not a fan of corporations and after reading that it cost the establishment 45 cents to make a coffee and how much they were profiting from it, I was ok not having it. I much rather get my coffee at a local coffee shop. What all this have to do with Writing? I tell you. My resolutions for this year are big. Bigger than it has ever been. I came to the conclusion that I want to start working on my production channel for Youtube or Vimeo. Getting a writing job is being clearly impossible, as they want years of experience, even for freelancing articles.

During the holidays, after another fail attempt to get a regular job, because of the high risk that type of job involved, nonetheless being an Auto-Attendant. It is like a flight attendant, but serving food and snacks on a moving bus while on the highway to Dallas and back. I watched some videos and start reading about how some successful people started. Not the ones who have had financial help, the ones who started gambling with scratchy. As a result of watching these videos, I end up at Target buying a huge calendar, hung my whiteboards, yes, I have two, and map it out what I want this year to be like in terms of achievement.

Once you put out your projects on a paper, it starts to look real. I’m not a very technological person. I always have a notebook and a pencil with me, just in case. Some ideas are good and others just linger for no reason; During the holiday season, I found an old prompt book that gives you a few words and you have to create a story with it. I can’t have enough of these books. One of the prompts I choose was “Selling a childhood home” and the words were: Convince, Dreamscape, Pioneer. I end up writing a short story called “The white house by the lake”. The only word I used was dreamscape.

“The White House by the Lake” is about a problematic friendship in the ’60s, with a mentally unstable person and her loyal friend. The house represented the stability one of them never had. After reading a couple of times, I decided I want to rewrite as a Horror, due to the behavior of the crazy friend. I’m working on it to post it on the project session here soon. I hope having a calendar helps.

During this time I also decided that the story I’m writing for the past 3 years, should be a web series, so I have to write the scripts. I figure out that if I wait to write this as a book, it would take me a long time. People erroneously think that writing its an easy job, it is just sit down and write. What they don’t see is that it is time-consuming, you are always terrified that no one will like it, you have the rabbit hole of the research part, and writing with no distractions it is like finding money on your jacket. Let me tell you that the only tv that works with the Playstation is in the space I call my office and my husband just got two new games, so fights, monsters and explosions are literally the white noise I didn’t ask for. If you can work in the midst of chaos, I would give you a hug right now. I admire people who can thrive in the chaos.

Hooray for the Writer Moms! I cherish you and I envy you!

So far, having a designated place to write is working. Most of the time is not peaceful, but it works. As long as I have a noise cancelling earphones it works.

See you soon,

J. Snellenberger

Buckaroo Banzai.

“On the previous Writing For Comics Workshop, the teacher gave us a prompt, and we had to develop. We had two options The Moon Mall, with a lot of characters, and Pizza Pit. Mine was the first choice. I love malls and…”

I’m trying to keep up with the blog, and as you can see, I’m failing miserably. Working on my full time job, while finishing my full time online bachelor’s writing degree, while also planning my move to Austin,TX, I dont have the time I would like to devote myself to this blog.

I recently read on a book, of one of my favorite authors Mrs. Rachel Hollis, saying “You have to dedicate at least one hour of your days to your own projects”, I get it, and I keep trying, but this extra hour is usually going to my school projects. Does that count as one hour of my day to me? Or do I have to find another hour? Please, send help.

In this July class, we are having Portfolio VI, which is one of the classes you work to polish a previous content you wrote before. Guess what? I’m back with comics!! I do enjoy comics, I do not enjoy the pressure to make write it. Splash page, page by page, act 1, 2 and 3. But hey! I didn’t have to do any lettering (I hope I don’t get a surprise lettering assignment next week), because that was one of the hardest week of school, and I took physics and Math before.

On the previous Writing For Comics Workshop, the teacher gave us a prompt, and we had to develop. We had two options The Moon Mall, with a lot of characters, and Pizza Pit. Mine was the first choice. I love malls and the variety of things that can happen and what you can create if its a Mall placed in the Moon. On this class, we have to polish the previous script, and let me tell you, I rushed to write mine, because I wrote it in 2 hours, right before submit. I work much better under pressure!

I will have to rewrite the entire script, as the goal of this month is making it to 12 pages. A entire comic script will be ready by the end of this month. Heck! I’m proud of myself! Graduation is knocking on my door, and I’m opening.

Here is what I take from two and a half years of Creative Writing Classes, to quote Beyonce: “If my country ass can do it, you can do it!” Yes, I get back to those days, when I didn’t speak any English and I want to encourage people that thinks their english is not good, or they have an accent, or they were not born and raised in this country. I wasn’t either. I started learning english at 15, and only to start somewhat to talk when I was 19. Don’t be scared to say whatever you want to say in your second language. It only because of me babbling words, and making up phrases, I get to be where I’m today. And please, do never, ever, try lose your accent.

Ps: I’m back to write this post two week after. My Comic book Script got a lot of improvements, but still not ready.

Am I here?

I don’t think anyone reads this and I’m probably right. So every six months I came by, write some random stuff and disappear for another six months. The only thing keeping me away from writing more often is the number of assignments  I have to work on every week for my Creative Writing for the Entertainment BachelorsDegree. I truly enjoy it, but my energy and focus go to that.

I have one class per month. This month I had Lit Genre of Fantasy/ Sci-Fi and Lit Genre of Horror/Mystery. For the last one, I had to watch some horror movies, for an article I should be working on right now. I really don’t like or watch this type of movies, but I enjoy writing the short script more than I ever imagine. It’s like my own piece of art.

The script for the short movie is about three friends, who decided to investigate a ghost that lives in the girls’ bathroom, and comes out to scare every once in while. That might not be too scary for some; but my teacher told me to write something that scares me, something that frightens me and that certainly do. Let me tell you why.

Growing up in Brasil, in the ’90s, we had to deal with all kind of tales. Every other school had one, but The Blond in the bathroom was kind of Union of all schools tales. I heard about this one in 1995, and girls from my school, older kids, used to talk about this during recess. A few times I almost pee myself, because I was too scared to use the bathroom. One of those days, we were lining up to go outside, for Gym classes, I couldn’t hold myself and HAD to go use the restroom.

Frightened to my core, I went in. As soon as I walked in, the kids outside started to knock on the door yelling “The blond in the Bathroom, Blond in the Bathroom”, we all knew once you called her 3 times, she would come out.  Oh jeez, I finished so fast and almost came out with the short in my hands. Terrified. Even my teacher laughed. I was about to cry. Time passed and 7 grade they started with that again. I was not that scared, but still a bit conscious about it.

So as soon as my teacher gave us the assignment, I brought back this crazy childhood memory. I would love to make it into a short movie. Who knows, maybe at some near future. I might submit to the Film School department, at my school.

JS

 

 

 

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