Tag Archives: zhura

New horror project: the polish

19 Jun , 2009,
Chip Street
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We’ve spent the past few days polishing the script… folded in much (but not all) of the feedback we got, fixed the typos, found some new words that sounded more better.

Still very pleased with the first draft, the structure overall. The polishing is putting that final sheen on it, but it really isn’t getting what I’d call a “second draft”. Don’t think it needed it. Is that hubris? Could be… time will tell. It is after all a genre movie, and it was pretty carefully outlined as such before we set to writing, so we had a clear structural target from the get-go.

Important changes:

Read More…

New horror project: day twenty-one writing

21 May , 2009,
Chip Street
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And… scene!

Spent a few hours today tightening up some loose ends on the first draft.

Gave the dog some more face time.

Figured out how we could keep the spray can of bear piss, have it still be relevant, then when to get rid of it.

Wrote a new stanza for the Victorian poetry book that explains some of the creature’s mythos.

Toughest thing was that early scene that we’d skipped… a flashback/fantasy sequence that demonstrates the old lady is living in the past, fixated on her father. We’d finished the beginning and end of the scene but were unsure just what events/dialogue needed to be in there to communicate the two points we thought the scene needed to communicate. It was a deliciously creepy scene that we loved, but couldn’t put a bow on.

The longer we struggled with it, we decided that if it was that hard to decide how the scene should say what it needed to say, maybe it didn’t need to say it. So as hard as it was, we CUT the scene.

45 minutes later, an epiphany, and we realized how we could simply and elegantly, with 3 simple passages of dialogue, do everything we needed to do, PLUS foreshadow some later existing points. Luckily, I’d copied it off to WORD and stored it so we pulled it up, made a few changes, and put it back. SO happy. It’s still creepy, still a favorite, and now is perfect in content as well. The whole thing only added a third of a page.

TOTAL PAGE COUNT: 93.5 — or 97.5 — or 99.8 — depending. (Good ol’ Zhura)

So here we are, with a (pleasantly readable) finished first draft in just:

95.33 hours.

Sean’s got about 88 hours.

96% percent of those hours we worked side by side, so that’s man hours, not clock hours. Clock hours we’re at about 95.33.

Full time 8 hour days would put us at about 12 days to complete this first draft from story outline through last word.

Of course, we worked an average of probably 3.5 hours a day, and not every day. So we’ve used about 6.5 actual weeks to get here.

Copies are now out to our favorite readers for some honest feedback. We hope to live with it for a week, read our hardcopies, get notes from others, and jump on the next rev in about a week.

Till then — WOO HOO!

Zhura – still troubling after all these scenes.

May , 2009,
Chip Street
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3 comments

UPDATE:

After my FIRST Zhura posting, I told you that I’d tried creating a new doc from a TEXT file to purge the technology demons from my script.

So far less than perfect. I’ve still got niggling problems like whole portions of the script (a dozen pages or more) suddenly and inexplicably becoming BOLD, or the startling LAUNCH of my cursor back to page ONE, or the uninvited random insertion of ACTS while typing.

Speaking of page count, good ol’ Zhura made things more complicated than they needed to be again. While working in EDIT mode, the script appears to be just about 93.5 pages. In VIEW mode, it appears to be the same (a change from earlier in our experience, where I swear there was a differential between the two).

When printed to PDF, we ended up with 97.5 pages. This sucks if you’re trying to use the EDIT or VIEW modes to in any way guesstimate how long your script is.

Just as a goof, I exported the script from Zhura as a TEXT doc. Then took it into FINAL DRAFT. In FD the script is nearly 100 full pages (99.8).

So clearly, somebody’s wrong.

UPS: Totally web based. Simultaneous login allows real-time remote collaboration. Notes features. Upload projects from a variety of applications.

DOWNS: Wierd random buggy glitches  (see above and here). Uneven page count. No text search or search-and-replace.

So Zhura, while free and largely pretty cool, is nevertheless proving to make me very nervous about trusting it with my work. At the very least, I’m going to end up always taking my work into FD to do final polishes if I’m going to have any real sense of page break and page count.

New horror project: day eighteen writing

18 May , 2009,
Chip Street
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one comments

Another day online through Zhura. Got a kinda late start… Sean’s Aunt needed a cast. Long story. Ends with a broken fibula. Another time.

Pounded through 5 pages… saved our heroes from the mountain lion, took them up the mountain trail, and trapped them as the beasties advance. Gave them a harrowing adventure crossing a gorge to get to safety… lost the gun… and ended with a joke.

Interesting note: The “adventure crossing a gorge” was one of the three trials we arranged for our heroes on their journey to safety. We’d promised ourselves no “deus ex machina” moments… that these dramatic road blocks should ring organic and true. (Yeah, I know, deus ex machina is usually reserved for unlikely convenient salvation. I’m using it to mean any unlikely convenient event, good or bad, that clearly simply exists as a plot device).

Anyways, we ended up creating this “gorge crossing” via an old rusted cable/pully/two man bucket type thing. We don’t know exactly what it does, but we borrowed the general idea from The River Wild (who has any idea what that old cable doohickey is that David Strathairn uses to flip the raft?) and it does exactly what we need it to do. So is it deus ex machina?

We think not… our heroes have just passed through an old abandoned mill. We’ve established that the area is BLM forestry land, had been logged (and probably mined) in the first half of the 1900’s, that the old woman was familiar with the mill and knew the mechanism was there. So there’s an organic precedent for the device. We don’t believe it “feels” contrived, because it seems to grow out of the elements already in place in the story… even if we don’t know exactly what the device is.

Nevertheless, we’ve lovingly come to refer to the mechanism as the “rusty plot device”. And it’ll probably always remain so.

At this point my biggest concern is that the pacing is reading as it should. We’re doing our best to keep the left-margin to short declarative sentences, one sentence per line to establish a ‘shot shot shot’ quality, and the dialogue is sparse and without subtext.

We’ve always got future revs in which to edit, of course. But I’d like this first version to be readable enough to send it to the prodco discussed earlier. I know it’s close. But I’m never satisfied.

Added 5 pages today.

Total Pages: 76

Hours (chip): 78

Zhura.com update

8 May , 2009,
Chip Street
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6 comments

[follow up to this follow up here]

As you know, we’re using Zhura.com‘s online screenwriting collaboration tools to write our latest (untitled) feature project.

And as you know, it’s proven less than perfect.

What came out of the research around “why is this thing so buggy” is that we had cut and pasted our original outline from MS Word, which Zhura apparently gets terribly confused by. The answer, according to at least some of the postings we found on their discussion forums, should be to “copy the current script, paste it into a plain text doc, and then upload that plain text doc into a new Zhura file”.

So that’s what I did today. Of course, it worked less than perfectly. Though it recognized “int.” and “ext.” as sluglines and formatted them so, it didn’t recognize any character names or dialogue, so everything is formatted as action. We’ll have to go through and manually reformat all those elements (kiss a couple hours goodbye – again).

But once that’s done, all should be good, right?

We’re crossing our fingers that this will keep the bugginess to a minimum.

We’ll keep you posted.

*EDIT – A post on John August’s blog offers a video capture rundown of some of the new FD8 features, the Project Manager from FD chimes in, and the comments include some thoughts on CeltX.

[follow up to this follow up here]