Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Sunday, September 30, 2012

consumer vision/ school advice/ scam

Sept. 4 Consumer vision: I was reading Metro newspaper and found an ad for Consumer Vision.  It's market research and they're creating focus groups.  I looked it up thinking there's one in Edmonton that I could apply to, and there wasn't.  It's only in Toronto.

Sept. 15 Public relations: Is this the law of attraction working?  Last week, one of my college writing classmates added me on Linked In.  She did a yr in a Public Relations course.  Then I got an email from CPRS Edmonton with their job postings.  Lots of the postings says you need a diploma in communications or public relations.

Sept. 16: I emailed my college friend on Facebook and asked about that Public Relations course.

School advice: I was reading in the Globe and Mail job advice column about: "What if I don't get a career with my education?  Do I go to more school or get experience?"  The expert advice was to get experience.  HR looks at experience first, and education second. 

The expert also mentioned how she saw a lot of people with master's degrees who can't get jobs in entry level because they're overqualified and can't get manager's jobs because they don't have experience.

However, I remember reading an article a couple yrs ago about how people were downplaying themselves in resumes so they don't look like they're overqualified for jobs.  Like one secretary had a $40,000 a yr job, and got laid off and was applying for $10/hr retail job.

Sept. 19 Entrepreneurship: Rosa Ray sent me this article called "15 Ways Parents can Promote Entrepreneurship."  It's mainly about giving kids an allowance because they earned it and "not for existing."  lol.  Join Junior Achievement, play business games.

I think the best part was the infographic at the top like how entrepreneurs were described as kids:

43% loners
25% nerds
20% clowns
11% jocks
1% bullies

I think a lot of people don't think of themselves as bullies.  They either don't think they are, or won't admit it.  Or see it as harmless teasing. 

77% don't have business degrees
43% are the oldest in their families
Linked In: One of my NAIT friends confirmed me on Linked In.  It's been a few months since I found him.

Sept. 20 Job interview: I went to a job interview today.  I think it went okay.  I did impress one of them that I was pitching my script.  They asked what I know about the company.  Good thing I researched them and took notes.  I then read my notes to them.

1. It's in downtown.
2. The pay is really good.
3. Big company which means it's harder to close down.  There's more job security.
4. Big company means there's also more opportunities to grow and learn.
5. I can work at the restaurant on the weekends.

1. It's hard.  What they told me was that you are constantly learning something new.  It seems really challenging.  There will be a lot of support.

There is another position and I'm willing to take it.

Business: I used to go to high school with this guy.  He was in my choir class and he was 2 grades above me.  We're Facebook friends.  I asked him about a job, and he told me about this business opportunity.  He told me to go talk to his friend about it.  I was like I'll go to it with low expectations.  I talked to him and got to know him and his business for 35 min. at the mall.

The business model is this: You can go to Store #1 and buy shampoo.  Or you can open your own store and buy shampoo from yourself.  Thus you make money.

I will have to think about it.  I'm wary that it could be a scam.  Prior to it, I talked to Dan L. about Vector Marketing.  Back in 2006, I found it and told my dad about it.  He says it's a scam.  Dan L. says it's not really a scam, but it feels like it.  It's where you go and make a presentation to sell Cutco Knives.  Dan L.'s friend made thousands of dollars on it.

Dan L. wasn't good at it.  He was there for a few weeks.  The time to take the bus to the place and then do the presentation, then go back home was a lot of time.

Sept. 23 Scam: Way back in 2010, I was unemployed and I emailed all my friends looking for a job.  One young woman from college emailed me about a business opportunity, and I said I was looking for a job as in a place to work at, not selling something.  I then emailed her the above paragraph.

She says: "Just avoid anything that you would have to working on getting new clients all day every day. It was so exhausting selling an idea and backing products all day everyday."

"Anything that is multi level marketing is a bad idea. Don't get sucked into that."

I went to this shopping website from the guy I talked to:

College friend says: "What he is trying to sell you and what you will be trying to sell everyone is Amway. Unless you are in love and I mean in love, with their products I would stear far from it."

Amway: I Google it and found this.  It talks about Quixtar and pyramid schemes.

I'm getting a flashback of a few months ago I was reading the Edmonton Journal.  It was the "Style" section about weddings.  This Asian woman and white man went to a Amway session not knowing what it really was about.  They sat next to each other, met and fell in love.  I think it was Amway.

I was in Capilano mall today, and there were these tables selling things.  One was jewelry and you can host parties selling it.  I don't think it's a scam, but I'm not interested in selling jewelry.  

I have looked for an office job and there are a lot of conveyance assistant positions. 

I had actually saved this link on a disk.

This other link gave me this job description:

"Basically, conveyancing involves getting a lot of bits of paper together from lots of different places - buyers, sellers, banks, building societies, surveyors, local authorities, and so no. The Conveyancing Assistant gets hold of all these pieces of paper by writing, phoning, nagging, ordering on line etc. The Conveyancer then reads the pieces of paper and generates more pieces of paper which will require signatures etc. to make the whole deal work so buyers and sellers know what they are doing. "

Job sites: I was reading an old 24 job article I cut out earlier this year.  It mentioned  I looked it up and all the jobs are for high school, college students, recent graduates in Toronto.

The article also mentioned  It's for all over Canada.  There is volunteer, co-op, early career, that you can look for.  I read one article.  It seems to be a pretty good site.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Double donations end Sunday

I got this from Amnesty International:

Dear Tracy,

All this month, artists and human rights activists like me have proudly raised our voices to defend human rights with Amnesty International.

Now, it's your turn.

Sunday is your last chance to double your gift. Please join me by becoming a member of Amnesty International right now.

Your gift matters – collective action releases people from prison, torture and execution:
"I don't regret a single moment. I celebrate the work that I do and the people I work with...We are in it together."
That's Jenni Williams, the inspiring co-founder of Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise. She's been arrested 43 times and been beaten severely for defending human rights in her country. Jenni credits Amnesty International members with saving her life multiple times.

Jenni is right – we're in this together to shine a bright light on the horrific acts of violence committed by Syrian security forces against their own people, in the hopes we can help end the atrocities.

We're in this to fervently declare love a right, not a wrong, and work to overturn the discriminatory "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA).

We're wholeheartedly taking part in this because we refuse to yield to oppression and to hate, and we will not let slip our hard-fought gains.

With the world facing unprecedented assaults on human rights, Amnesty's mission is more relevant and urgent than ever.

Your membership today will help Amnesty rise to these challenges. Join us.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Do not sit in silence

I got this from Amnesty International:

Dear Tracy,

Pussy Riot is fighting back.

Nadya, Masha and Katja are due in court for an appeal hearing on Monday, Oct. 1. That's in less than one week.

These three young women were sentenced to two years in a penal colony for performing a punk rock protest song in a Russian cathedral – a sentence that sparked a massive global uproar. It's an outrageous case that symbolizes President Putin’s crackdown on dissent.

Even Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the members of Pussy Riot should be freed.

We're at a critical turning point in this case. Amnesty International is working directly with the lawyers and family members of Pussy Riot to shine a spotlight on this case in a big way.

Stand with us. Refuse silence.

Your membership is needed to help Amnesty mobilize forceful, global responses to human rights crises.

We're nearing the end of our September Membership Drive. I’ve set a bold goal of inspiring 50,000 gifts, and to get there, a generous Amnesty donor will double your impact and match every dollar you donate before Sept. 30.

Russia’s treatment of Pussy Riot reveals a chokehold on freedoms and an unwillingness to respect human rights that must be addressed.

Beyond the clampdown within Russia’s borders, President Putin continues to support ally Syria, despite mounting evidence of crimes against humanity committed by the Syrian government.

We need to turn up the volume.

This is the moment for supporters like you to step up and invest in the Amnesty movement, so that we can meet these serious human rights challenges head on. Make your move – become a member of Amnesty today.

Millwoods Town Centre/ Post Secret/ intellectual stamina

Sept. 3 Millwoods Town Centre: On Fri. I had a job interview in Millwoods, so I went to the Town Centre to shop around before it started.  There was a store called SIA and it was closing down.  80% off their oriental things like dresses, Chinese fans, and jewelery.  It kind of reminds me of that other store in City Centre mall called Oriental Home before it closed down.

I've been through the mall once before months ago.  I was walking through it to get to another job interview.  I noticed there is a library there.  That reminds me of when I was a kid, I was there a couple of times in that library.

I went to Fabric Land store, because I haven't been to one before.  I checked it out and I realized I wouldn't be able to work there because I have no interest in sewing.  I'm into arts and crafts, but not this.  I see there's a store that sells medical clothing like scrubs with interesting patterns.  That's probably because there are a lot of medical clinics around the mall.

Labor Day weekend: Yesterday and today, I worked long shifts at the restaurant.  Only on Fri. was the fun I had.  I can assume that no one puts up job ads today, so I'm going to give myself a break, and not look for a job.  Instead I will read other things that have nothing do with my job search.

Sept. 4 Boston Pizza: Today is my day off, so I used my gift card at BP.  I ordered the fettucini with Alfredo sauce.  It was $7 and that's a good price.  You can't really get pasta at a fast food place.  Maybe at an Italian one, but there aren't a lot of Italian fast food places.  It was a good price.  The food was average.

Fun: I then recycled a pen at Staples.  I then noticed that there are a couple of people scaling down the Sutton Place Hotel in downtown.  They were raising money for the Easter Seals.  They were wearing costumes as they scaled down.  I watched for a few min. 

Sept. 8 City Centre: Today I did something fun after work.  All week, the restaurant wasn't really busy.  I went to Staples and recycled a pen and a battery.  They're hiring full-time staff and I asked if there were benefits.  The sales guy said yes.  It's close by, benefits, big store so there's room to grow it and more job security.

The cons are I won't get tips.  I may only get min. wage $9.75/hr.  It's also only a lateral move job-wise.  I did the math $9.75 x 40hr= $390.  That's about the same if I work part-time at my restaurant.  So I should get a 2nd job instead of quit one restaurant job for another retail job.

I went to the new Le Chateau store in City Centre mall.  It was on the 2nd floor, but they moved to the 3rd floor.  The store is smaller, but it's more of a fit in location because it's right by high-end clothing stores like Jacob, Urban, Club Monaco, Danier Leather which is where I went to.

There's a new Halloween store called Soul of Halloween if you want to buy your costumes and decorations.  Lots of stores are selling Halloween items right now.

Sept. 9 Post Secret: There was this secret of a postcard with a cartoon of a guy proposing to his girlfriend.  It said "Momo...Matt agreed me for permission to propose to you..."

Email: Frank, Please share how this secret ends if you hear from Matt. My fingers are crossed too.

Matt then emailed this 54 sec video.  He's sitting on the couch and he's filming his girlfriend sitting on the kitchen counter scrolling Post Secret on her laptop.  Then she turns around and asks: "Are you kidding me?"

He then goes over to her: "Will you marry me?"  She's crying and she says yes.  Aww...

Sept. 11 Closed down: I was at City Centre and I noticed Kiwi Kiss closed down.  It opened at the end of 2009 and sold frozen yogurt.  They gave free samples and I had an acai berry one.  

The Rogers Video on Jasper Ave is closing down.  They had videos and then sold out.  Then they were just selling cell phones, but it's a big store, and you don't need that much space to sell cell phones.  There's a Rogers in City Centre mall, and it's a small place.

I was by Northgate Centre, and I saw that Zellers has now been replaced with Wal-mart.

Emelee: On Aug. 29, I got this email from the singer Emelee.  I first found her on Myspace back in 2006.  I emailed her and she emailed me back.  I bought her album "Kiss" in 2007 by getting my friend Leslie to download it on Itunes.  She then burned it onto a cd for me.

Emelee sent this to me and a whole bunch of people:

Hey Everybody!

For those of you that don't know yet, I have some really amazing things happening with my career! Daddy Yankee and I have a new single coming out soon called "Lose Control"  Check out the link below to hear the song. Feel free to like it, leave a comment, and share with your friends :)

Thank you all so much for your love and support all these years <3 br="br">

Here's the song: It's a good dance song.

Sept. 13 Joke: Last night my sister called home and said she wasn't coming home for dinner.  My brother answered the phone.

Me: Why?  Is she staying late to work?
P: I don't know.
Me: "Can we order Chinese food?"  Get it?
P: Yeah.

It was from The Simpsons about the Malibu Stacy doll being too sexist so Lisa makes a doll called Lisa Lionheart.  Cut to the Malibu Stacy company is at a meeting.

Boss: We have to think of something even if takes us all night.
Worker: Can we order Chinese food?
Boss: Yes.
Workers agree and are happy.

Coffee: Today was my day off so I used a McDonald's coupon to get a free coffee.  It said I could get a hot chocolate or specialty coffee like a mocha.  I went to the City Centre mall, and they said they only had regular coffee.  So I took a cup of regular with sugar and cream.  It tasted okay.  I don't think there's ever a bad cup of coffee.  You just need to add milk, cream, sugar to make it taste good.

Intellectual stamina: Hazel Taylor emailed me this article "10 Everyday Ways to Build your Intellectual Stamina."  The things I know already like reading, exercising, doing puzzles, and eating well.  There is about getting along like get with friends and play games with them.

If you talk to yourself or think out loud, it will make your mind clearer. Also revel in distractions sometimes to reset your mind.

Sept. 14 Bars: I went to see my counselor today and she encouraged me expand my world.  So today I stretched a bit and entered the Brothy.  It's this restaurant and wine is a big seller it seems.  The menu looked expensive with $4 for a cup of soup and $7 for a bowl. 

I then went to the Public House.  That's a bar on Jasper Ave.  The doors are open and it has a patio.  I entered it and it's dark inside.  There's a big chalkboard with prices of beer written all over it.  There is dark wood all around the walls and floors.  By the door, there is a sign with all the designated drivers and taxis you can call to get you home.  It used to be the Bank Ultralounge back in 2007.

I then walked next block to Sultan Express.  I think that's what it's called.  It used to be Moonlight Cafe.  Now it sells lots of donairs and falafels.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Your chance to free the women of Pussy Riot

 I got this from Amnesty International:

Dear Tracy ,

"Daddy, I'm going to get mommy out of jail with a bulldozer."

That's four-year-old Gera speaking about her plan to free her mother Nadya, one of the imprisoned members of Pussy Riot.

As an Amnesty activist, you know we don't need a bulldozer to free a prisoner – just the power of our voices. And we need your voice more than ever as Pussy Riot faces an appeal hearing on October 1st.

Turn up the volume of protest to end the political persecution of Pussy Riot. Send your message calling for the unconditional release of Nadya, Masha and Katja.

Nadya and the other members of Pussy Riot went to the cathedral to give Russia – and the rest of the world – a wake-up call. They felt it was their civic duty to expose the corruption and repression they saw.

Pussy Riot stood up for their ideals. As artistic expression. Nonviolently. Legally.

Except, of course, in Putin's Russia, where their dissent was stifled and condemned as "hooliganism."

But there is hope. The world is watching. Last week, Pyotr Verzilov travelled with his daughter Gera to the United States to work with Amnesty to raise awareness for his wife's case. During the Amnesty International Youth Town Hall, Aung San Suu Kyi met with Pyotr and Gera and called for the release of the women. With Amnesty at her side, Yoko Ono gave the band the LennonOno Grant for Peace to honor their courage.

During their visit, Pyotr expressed how moved he was by your advocacy on behalf of his wife and the other courageous women imprisoned for expressing their opinions peacefully:

“We are grateful to Amnesty International for your work on the case and all of your support. The most important thing you can do is rally people. We need your voices.”

Use your voice to tell the Russian authorities to release Nadya, Masha and Katja. Take a stand for free speech and human rights before Pussy Riot's Oct. 1 appeal hearing.

In solidarity,

Michelle Ringuette
Chief of Campaigns & Programs
Amnesty International USA

Create Your 2012 In Writing

 I got this from the Great American Pitchfest.  This is an inspirational article about writing and positive thinking: 

Create Your 2012 In Writing
by Anne Norda

Anne Norda is the co-director of the Script-a-thon and will be speaking on Intuitive screenwriting at this year's Great American PitchFest. Her next screenwriting workshop will begin on February 29th. She is offering a 10% discount for fans of the Great American PitchFest. Just mention the GAPF to get the discount.
Greetings everyone! Wishing you all a fulfilling and fun-filled 2012!
I've practiced a ritual New Year's writing exercise for many years. I'd like to share it with you and hopefully inspire you to try this inspiring exercise for yourself.

Get a pen and notebook.
Use any notebook to do this. Write long hand with a pen rather than in your computer. This allows a more direct and visceral connection to your unconscious mind.

Pick a place and time.
Make a date with yourself to spend an hour uninterrupted in a quiet location.

Write your year from the future, looking back.
Pretend you are standing in
January 1, 2013. Looking back on the year 2012, describe everything that has happened of significance in your life. Write it in the past tense. Let your imagination run away into fantasy. Write the events that seem realistic, that you may expect from this coming year but allow yourself to go a bit beyond the expected and let some wishful thinking seep in. 

It's about creating the year the way you would LIKE it to happen. Include amazing chance encounters and synchronicities. Get offered that perfect job. Let your business take off magically. Meet the love of your life at a friend's party or at the grocery store. You are the creator, so you get to make it all up. Have fun with it. Include all areas of your life. Mention months and dates: "In March, I met a wonderful man at a party." And so on. Make it fun. Go on for at least 3 pages. Until you hit January 1, 2013.

Save it for the future.
Store it somewhere safe. Take a look at it every few months. You may be amazed down the road at the coincidences and seeming clairvoyance of your predictions.

The act of dreaming your future into being in writing allows you to interact with your subconscious mind and see its musing in a material form. You may discover desires and hopes that you hadn't even realized you had. You also get a chance to be guided by your higher consciousness into possible solutions to puzzles that may be lingering in your mind right now.

I read my 2011 creation late in the year (I had misplaced it) and was AMAZED by a few of the events that had actually come to pass at the exact times I had envisioned them. May all your dreams come true!!!

If you enjoyed this article, please share it with your friends!
Peace, Power, and Prosperity in 2012!

ScriptShadow interview

 I got this from the Great American Pitchfest newsletter.  This is a really good interview with ScriptShadow.  He gives tips on screenwriting.  Here's his blog:
The Shadow Knows

Q&A With ScriptShadow, Online Script Reviewer

Many reviewers occupy the blogospheres, but ScriptShadow sets himself apart by reviewing spec scripts, not films. With a massive amount of reviews on his blog, ScriptShadow shares his opinions on the scripts bouncing around the executive’s offices in Hollywood.

GAPF: There are lots of formulas and techniques out there for how to get a script written. How do you approach structure, character, and theme when reviewing a script?
SS: It starts with structure. You want to make sure that at every point in your story, there's a central character with a strong goal, driving the action.  Normally that would be your hero (Frodo has to destroy the ring), but sometimes it can be your villain (Darth Vader chasing Han Solo in Empire Strikes Back). And other times still, it can be both (Hans is trying to rob the vault, and John McClane is trying to get his wife back in Die Hard). If you ever hit a spot in your screenplay where there isn't at least one main character with a strong goal driving the story, your story is dead.

On the character side, it's a lot more complicated. Writing interesting characters is the hardest thing to do in a screenplay, so there's no way I can answer that question in a single paragraph. The easiest way to create depth in a character is to give them some sort of character flaw that’s always held them back.  Maybe he doesn't believe in himself (Rocky) or maybe he’s too dependent on lying (Liar Liar).  A character who’s battling something inside of himself is the first step to creating a three-dimensional character. 

Theme is the connective tissue in a screenplay. It's the glue that connects your characters to your structure to your dialogue to all the other little things that make up your script. If somebody hasn't decided on a clear, well-thought-out theme, his or her script will feel disjointed and confused (a very basic breakdown of Avatar’s theme might be – “Everything is connected”).  So whenever a script is tonally all over the place, I usually know that’s a thematic problem.

GAPF: What is your advice for the writer sitting down to write for the first time?
SS: Go become a doctor instead! Your wife will be a lot happier. No, seriously, my advice would be to make sure this is something you really want to do. It's one of the hardest professions out there, and it's going to take a lot more work than you initially think it's going to take. If the only reason you got into screenwriting was because you saw Transformers and thought you could do better than that, you're going to hate screenwriting. It's a lot harder than you think, and it takes a lot of hours to master. Most screenwriters don't break out until they've been at this for seven years. To give you some context, Cormac McCarthy (The Road, No Country For Old Men), one of the great novelists of our time, just wrote his first screenplay (which he sold due to his name), and it’s practically unreadable (this coming from 11 out of 12 hardcore McCarthy fans I know). That’s how difficult this medium is, that even Cormac McCarthy has trouble with it. But if you're getting into this because you truly love writing and the idea of telling stories in visual form, then this is definitely the career choice for you.

GAPF: What is something your favorite scripts have in common? 
SS: My favorite scripts have a very strong narrative drive. You're never confused about what's going on.  There aren't 18,000 subplots confusing you or 14,000 characters, 13,995 of which have nothing to do with the story. The goals are clear. The motivations are clear. And the writer always does a really good job keeping you in the loop of what's going on. The perfect example is Back To The Future. You always know what's going on in that story. You always know what Marty’s next goal or task is. You'd be surprised at how little of this I see in amateur scripts.

GAPF: Why do you think that is?
SS: I know the writer knows what's going on in his story - but he hasn't yet learned how to convey that to the reader. Now the funny thing is, I don't necessarily need this from the movies I see. I can enjoy a movie like Babel or The Thin Red Line, but you just can't do that kind of stuff in screenplays.

GAPF: What qualities do most of your least favorite scripts have?
SS: Sloppiness. You'd be surprised at how sloppy the screenplays I read are, not only from amateurs, but also from professionals. There's a pervading thought because it’s a screenplay (as opposed to a novel), it's okay if you cut corners or don’t put any effort into your subplots or secondary characters. This is a horrible way to approach screenwriting. You have to treat your screenplay as a Bible.

GAPF: What feedback do you wish you could give those writers?
Every single detail needs to be poured over. If something isn't good enough, and you know it, change it. Don't just say to yourself, “Well, it’s okay if this scene sucks because there's a good scene coming up.” Every scene needs to be a good scene. Clint Eastwood said it best when asked how he makes such good movies, “Easy. I just try to make every scene the best scene in the movie.” If you take pride in your work and give 100 percent on every single aspect of your screenplay, you'll put yourself above 90 percent of the screenwriters out there.

GAPF: Talk about some of the scripts you’ve reviewed where the movie was markedly worse?
SS: Well, I infamously had Everything Must Go on the top of my "best unproduced screenplays" Top 25 List for a couple of years, and it really was a clever well-written screenplay. It was about a guy who’d been kicked out of his house by his wife and decides to defiantly set up camp on his front lawn. I won't get into all of the reasons I liked it, but when I saw the movie, I was shocked how boring it was. And I realize the reason it was so boring was because the whole thing took place in one yard. Movies are kinetic and visual. So where the location didn't really matter on the page, it became a huge problem on the screen. We just never went anywhere or did much, and that sunk the movie into Boredom Town. 

GAPF: Which script was better onscreen than on the page?
SS: I'd point to Hanna. To me, the script didn't go anywhere. It had long sections where Hanna would live with a family and not do anything. I thought it was pretty horrible. And it didn't make sense either (Her dad sends her out to meet him in Germany? Why didn’t he just go there with her?). But what Joe Wright did with the style and tone of the film made it infinitely more exciting. They made some script changes to put Hannah on the move more, and also all of the delirious imagery and strangeness that made the movie so unique wasn’t on the page.

GAPF: You have a book coming out. What can you tell us about 
SS: I wanted to write a book meeting two sets of criteria. The first was it couldn’t be like any screenwriting book that had come out before. The second was it would be a book I would want to buy myself. So I thought long and hard, and I realized the most popular part of my site is the section at the end of each review, detailing what I learned from the script. Everybody loves that section. So I decided to build an entire book around that concept, except instead of mining those lessons from unproduced screenplays, I’d mine them from great movies. The book is 500 screenwriting lessons I learned from 50 great movies. I have Die Hard in there, Aliens, Rocky, Star Wars, Good Will Hunting, Pretty Woman, etc. I realize I'm a little biased here, but I believe it will be the most informative screenwriting book on the market. It comes out early March and will be available on my site!

GAPF: Do you have any pitching tips for the writers out there?
SS: With pitching it's all about making sure your pitch is practiced and ready and then having a couple of backup pitches ready to go. I once went into a pitch with a partner, and we didn't have a backup. I could tell within 30 seconds the producer we were pitching hated the idea. My partner, however, did not realize this, so he kept talking and talking and talking. At one point the woman looked so mad I thought she was going to punch my partner. I realized if I had a couple of other pitches practiced, I could've jumped in and given her something different.  

GAPF: Do you have advice on longlines?
SS: As for loglines, they’re tricky little beasts, and I admit to being baffled by them sometimes. But I posted an article on loglines, and it became one of the top 5 posts on my site. 

GAPF: Your blog has come under a lot of criticism for reviewing and/or distributing early drafts of scripts. How do you respond to your critics?
SS: A lot of that criticism came early on when I was posting links for the screenplays I reviewed on the site. I don't do that anymore. I know there are still people who don't like what I do and believe I'm hurting professional screenwriters, and I understand their opinions up to a certain point.  But what some of those screenwriters forget is how lonely and difficult and frustrating it is on the outside. They’ve maybe forgotten nobody wants to read your screenplay, nobody wants to help you, and nobody wants to let you in. What Scriptshadow does is it provides a bridge between these two worlds – the amateur and the professional. I can't tell you how many times writers have e-mailed, telling me they were going to quit screenwriting, until my site demystified the process for them. It gave them something real to measure their own screenplays against. The site gives people hope, and it's important to have hope in a career as difficult as this one.  

GAPF: What’s next for ScriptShadow?
SS: Some great things! I'll be switching over to my own domain (no more Blogspot) within the next couple of months, creating more of a community with the site. I'm jumping on what I believe are a couple of things that will get bigger in the screenwriting world within a year or two, and I hope to be offering screenwriters a way to capitalize on that. And then I'm coming out with my book (early March!), which I plan on toppling the Cat with. So there's a lot of great stuff on the horizon.

Inspiration From a Slaughterhouse

 I was reading the Great American Screenwriter newsletter, and I found this really good article by Signe Olynyk as she discusses writer's block.  I thought I should share it with all of you:
Inspiration From a Slaughterhouse

by Signe ‘The Meat Freezer Girl’ Olynyk

Unmotivated.  Lazy.  Creatively constipated .  Is this you?

It happens to all of us.  We’re all overworked, underpaid, overwhelmed, and under-appreciated.  From time to time, this stew of exhaustion can cause us creative types to lose focus and drive, and our artistic engines can stall.  BUT, there is good news.  It is called a solution.

I write this because I have been dealing with my own creative exhaustion.  Let me back up.

Three years ago, I had a low budget concept about a guy locked in a meat freezer.  As someone who is always trying to make ‘Ben Hur in five minutes’, the simplicity of this idea was a personal breakthrough.  But as I wrote the script, I was overcome with the worst case of writer’s block imaginable.

I went to film festivals and conferences.  I took classes and read books.  I stared at my computer screen and drank buckets of caffeine.  One day, I even strapped myself to a chair to keep from fleeing the keyboard.  Where was the inspiration that would get me through the hell of writing this ‘man in a box’, script?

After months of little progress, I tried this wondrous thing called the internet.  I googled.  Meat freezer.  Slaughterhouse.  Trapped in cooler.  Words that I hoped would trigger some sort of creative anything.  As I searched, I came across an abandoned, slaughterhouse near Edson, Alberta that was for sale.  After contacting the woman who owned it, I asked if I could come for a visit.

When I got there, I then asked if she would lock me in her freezer, and NOT LET ME OUT – until the script was done.

Admittedly, this does sound somewhat…extreme.  Looking back, the expression on her face (part fear, part confusion, mixed with a whole lot of ‘are you friggin kidding’) was understandable.  But anyone who knows me also understands how obsession, and the quest for authenticity in one’s craft often removes the ability to reason.

After spending five days locked in the freezer, I emerged with a completed script.  A year later, we were in production on the feature film, ‘Below Zero’, filming in the same location I wrote it, with stars Edward Furlong (Green Hornet, American History X, Terminator II), horror icon, Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes, Weird Science), and Kristin Booth (Young People Fucking, The Kennedys).

I’ll write another time about how we did THAT.  But for now, let’s get back to that solution I promised you.  How do you get past your own creative ice block?  Where do you find inspiration in your own life?

I’m not saying you have to lock yourself in the freezer of an abandoned slaughterhouse to write a great script.  But you do have to be willing to do what it takes.  Inspiration is a luxury, and we should all cling to it when the muse strikes, like the welcome friend she is.  Most of the time, we have to create our own inspiration.  To my workaholic mind, that generally means making a ‘to do list’ and racing around to accomplish a whole bunch of things to ‘inspire’ inspiration.  But the opposite is generally true.  What we really need to do…is often, nothing.

‘Nothing’ means just experiencing the laughter of our children, and the company of good friends and family.  Finding it in the movies, books, and tv shows we love.  Taking walks and ‘nature moments’ where we simply breathe and appreciate the world we live in.  Getting rest and taking vacations, so we are capable of even being inspired.

I haven’t decided what I am going to write next, but having myself locked up in a freezer seemed to be the only way I could overcome my own writer’s block.  Perhaps my next script will be about some guy, trapped in Club Med.  That sounds so…inspiring.

writing for money/ Kill Shakespeare/ Signe Olynyk

Sept. 11 Writing for money: I remember watching The Dark Knight and the Joker says: "When you're good at something, never do it for free." 

I was watching Duets, and Robin Thicke said: "My dad always told me that when you're good at something, don't do it for free."

I was thinking about the advice I have read in the Freelance Writer's group on Linked In about not writing for free.  I was at Two Bits writing group and found this quote:

"No one but a blockhead writes except for money."-Samuel Johnson

This blog, I'm writing for free.  However, it's my opinion on things like jobs and TV.  It's like worth 2 cents like opinions are.  Unless it's a doctor's opinion about a medical condition. 

This blog gets my writing out there.  It's to promote myself, my writing, my script so I would eventually get paid for it.

Sept. 18 TV Development digital pilot: It's my day off so I'm researching on how to get my script produced.  I went to the Writer's Guild of Canada and found this form to produce your pilot.  At the top, it says: "Applications must be signed by both the Producer and Broadcaster."  I don't have a broadcaster.

Production companies: It must be the law of attraction working for me, because my friend Sherry emailed me this about a production company.  I did a little research on it and I pitched my The Vertex Fighter script to them.

Two Words Productions: I found this company in St. Albert.  It also only makes corporate videos and not drama.

Investors: I'm on Kijiji looking at the TV, media, and fashion job section.  One person is saying he needs:"$200,000-$500,000, which will include money for marketing and film festival fees, hiring a talented film crew, locations, craft service, music score, etc.

Out of the profits the investors will recoup their expenses, and then go on to collect 50 % of profits the film may generate."

Heartland: I was reading the Edmonton Journal about the Alberta- show show Heartland.  It's going into it's 6th season.  The actress Michelle Morgan who is on the show, talked about how a 16 yr old girl came up to her and said: "You look just like a girl in a show I used to watch when I was little..."

The article mentions that the show is multi-generational because there are kids, teens, adults, and seniors watching this show.  The actors on the show grew up on this show.  It's a good show about a family running a horse ranch and farm, check it out.

Kill Shakespeare: I found this when I was looking for production companies over the summer.  The other day I was reading the Edmonton Journal and there was an article about the creators Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery.  It's a comic book.

Del Col: We like to call it Avengers with Shakespeare or the Justice League of Shakespeare.

Making a movie or a video game of it was too expensive, and a theatre play was too traditional.  So a comic book can show the battle scenes without it being expensive on film.  They sold it to U.S. -based IDW Publishing.  Check it out:

Table read: I was going through my old Great American Pitchfest emails and found this "Table Read my Screenplay."  A table read is where the actors and a narrator sits around a table and reads the screenplay out loud.  You can then hear if the dialogue is good, if this scene has a point, etc.

Flashback: I'm getting a flashback of yrs ago I saw a Corner Gas table read.  If I remember correctly, it was part of a W-Five episode about Corner Gas got so big in Canada. 

Back to the table read contest: You have to pay $30 to enter, and you are flown to Park City, Utah during the 2013 Sundance film festival.

Distribution: I also got this from Great American Pitchfest.  I went and watched 2 videos/ excerpts of the dvds.  It said "don't sign a contract until you know what the expense caps are."  Like here's the budget, and you can't go over it.

If you need to go over it, then there is a clause on the contract that says you can go over it by like $1000 and nothing more.  You would have to ask for permission, but if you can't get permission, then you can still get the $1000.

Signe Olynyk: I got another GAPF email and there was an interview the GAPF president Signe Olynk.  I thought the interview was so good, I put it up on my blog:
She has written a movie called Below Zero and it's a horror film shot in Edson, Alberta.  It's where she wrote the movie in an abandoned slaughter house.

SO: Trapped in an abandoned slaughterhouse, a desperate screenwriter is paralyzed by writer’s block and tormented by a horrific serial killer of his own creation. He sinks into a claustrophobia-induced paranoia, where he can’t distinguish what is real from  what is written, with his life hanging on every page.We are proud to say that Below Zero keeps you guessing until the very last frame.

Me: The idea kind of reminded me of The Shining.

No Budget Film School: GAPF also sent this email about No Budget Film School.  They are 1 or 2 day schools that teach you how to create a budget for a film, or "From Script to Screen."  This is in LA.  FAVA in Edmonton has some of these kind of seminars. GAPF sent me this.  Did you know that a movie poster can be called a one sheet?  The ad says this:

"Having a visual representation of your script gives the person you’re trying to sell it to an instant idea of what it’s about, how it looks, feels, what the genre is and, most importantly, what the marketing campaign could look like. You are making sure they make the correct leap of imagination. In 10 seconds you can tell them more about your story than you ever could with a written or verbal pitch."

Their slogan is "Creating your vision."

On my The Vertex Fighter poster, I can see the lead Shawn in the center.  The supporting 3 characters would be in the background.  The back would be black, and all the actors faces are straight, serious, and tough.

Good news: A producer is reading my script right now.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

We've got unfinished Troy Davis business

I got this from Amnesty International:

Georgia -- we've got unfinished business.

One year ago today, you did the unthinkable. You executed a man even though the case against him had fallen apart. You had the chance to commute his sentence to life to avoid the risk of executing someone for a crime he may not have committed, but you dashed that option. Add to that, you carried out the execution in my name.

For the rest of our lives, we are left to wonder: Did Georgia kill an innocent man?

Tracy, I remember the intense mix of emotions I felt on September 21, 2011. I remember the anger and horror. But most of all, I remember feeling a strong resolve come over me to take the death penalty system down!

Georgia officials -- we're not letting you off the hook, but this time we're also involving the U.S. Department of Justice to give Troy Davis' case -- and others -- the scrutiny they deserve.
Investigate the execution of Troy Davis and patterns of government misconduct in death penalty cases.

We've been busy over the past year -- building a stronger case for why the death penalty system must be abolished. You see, all of the alarms we sounded in the case of Troy Davis -- including alleged police coercion of witnesses -- are many of the same alarms we've sounded before in other instances where people's lives are on the line.

In far too many cases, death and doubt go hand-in-hand: from Troy Davis to Robert Waterhouse, who was executed in Florida on Feb. 15 of this year, despite the fact that evidence from the crime scene had been destroyed before it could be subjected to DNA analysis. Let's not forget Reggie Clemons, who is fighting for his life right now, despite the fact that the case against him was likely built on police brutality and an abusive prosecutor.

That's why Amnesty International, along with the NAACP, is taking 10 well-documented capital cases, including Troy's, to the very top of the justice system -- and demanding not just answers, but accountability.

Help us put the justice system in check!

The death penalty is fundamentally flawed because it's fallible -- it makes mistakes. Since 1973, 140 people have been released from death row due to evidence of innocence.

When the death penalty system gets it wrong, there's no going back. Guilty or innocent, the death penalty is a terrible power that shouldn't belong to government.

It's okay to remember the sadness and anger we felt one year ago, but it's more important that we remember Troy's dying wish -- "to not give up the struggle for justice…to keep fighting for the other Troy Davises on death row."

With your support, we intend to do just that. Keep Troy Davis' struggle for justice alive!

In Solidarity,

Laura Moye
Death Penalty Abolition Campaign Director
Amnesty International USA

P.S. Please share this image with your friends and family today. Tell them all about Troy Davis.

We're getting real about women's rights

I got this from Amnesty International: 

Dear Tracy,

From the U.S. presidential elections, to the ongoing 
transformations in the Middle East and North Africa, to  
Afghan women rising up to claim their rights, women's rights 
are human rights -- and they are driving the global debate.

As Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, I am 
proud to say that Amnesty International has always been at the 
white-hot center of the human rights debate.

Now we need your help -- and your voice.

I hope you'll join me on Thursday, October 4, for the 
second annual  
XX Factor -- Amnesty's women's rights forum in Washington D.C.  
Seating is limited, so sign up now!

And if you can't join us in D.C., then be sure to  
livestream beginning at noon.

Eve Ensler, award winning author, playwright and activist, will 
give the keynote and set the tone for our dialogue with
 policymakers, grassroots activists, students, experts
 and others advocating women's rights around our world.

We'll discuss the human rights issues facing women today - 
from the seismic political transitions that are unfolding across 
the globe to women's participation in the 2012 elections and
 beyond here in the U.S.

For over fifty years, Amnesty has been working to create 
We know the core of that change begins with the 
human rights of 
women. And as Eve Ensler has said: women are the 
resource of the planet.

I hope you'll join me for an experience you won't forget.

Thank you and I hope to see you on October 4th!

Suzanne Nossel
Executive Director
Amnesty International USA

psychologist/ door-to-door/ morning routines

Sept. 4 Psychologist: I Google "How to be a psychoanalyst?"  Then I Google "How to be a psychologist?"  I went to Athabasca University site and it said to be one in Alberta, you need to have a master's degree in psychology as the min. requirement.  I'm not going to go to school for years to become one.

I do like this article that asks questions: Are you interested in psychology?  Do you want to help people?  Are you emotionally stable?  Are you a great communicator with an open mind?

ehow: They know how to break it down into easy steps.  Go take psychology and get a degree in it.  Then get into graduate school.  Here's their tip:

"Becoming a clinical psychologist takes longer than other types of psychology (at least nine years if you can attend full time), so make sure you are fully committed to the profession before you begin."

Sept. 9: I was going through the classifieds and I saw the same ad again for the medical clinic I did a job interview for a couple months back.  Either their new hire didn't work out, or someone else quit.

Sept. 11 Door-to- door: Last night I had a totally new experience.  I tried door-to-door sales and met some new people.  I found this job ad on the internet to sell newspaper subscriptions.  I did a little door-to-door, but it was for doing surveys and wasn't selling anything. 

I was supposed to meet him in downtown.  I go there and it's 10min. before I'm supposed to meet him.  I go up to this guy and ask if it's him.  He says no, and asks if I'm here for the job too.  I said yes.  His name is Jesse and it's his first day.  He is studying to be a cop in school.

Me: Why do you want to be a cop?
Jesse: Because I want to help people.  I also like to move around and not stay in one location.  I like to solve problems.
Me: Do you watch Cops?
Jesse: No.

We then meet the two managers and there were 4 other young guys working.  One worker is Asian, and another one black.  I was the only woman there.  Later we drove and met with a woman who was a manager too. 

After 4hrs working there, I didn't like it.  I signed a contract where I had to do 10 days training so I can receive payment.  I'm not going to do 9 more days of this.


1. It's cold outside.  It's a yr long job.  If it gets -15 degrees, you can do indoor selling.

2. There are no washrooms.  We had to go to 2 stores to ask if we can use the washroom.  When I did surveys, it was in my neighborhood so I can walk back to my house to use the washroom.

3. After that one shift, I was tired, hungry, and thirsty.  I had worked 8am-3pm that day.  I took a nap on the bus and ate a lot prior to it.  I guess I should have bought bottled water.

In conclusion, I learned that I prefer working indoors, and also if I'm going to sell stuff, work in retail or telemarketing.  I had written down this place to be a telemarketer so I applied  on the internet.

Job interviews: I did 2 job interviews last week.  One was a medical clinic and it was a small business.  That means no benefits.  She was very informative of what the clinic does.  It was outside of downtown, but it was easy to get to. 

The other one was a medical clinic in downtown.  It was similar in duties like booking and billing.  The hours are good as in daytime and weekdays.  I was being interviewed by the boss, but then she then passed me over to my potential co-workers.  They interviewed me because I'm going to be working with them.  It's also an independent job where you are going to be working by yourself a lot.

Work: Another co-worker quit from the other department.  He did give notice.  I'll give him points that he worked here for a yr. I saw that my brother was using this site.  I went to it and looked for jobs in AB.  I got some in Calgary and Fort McMurray.  There are 3 jobs in Edmonton and they're driving jobs.

Morning routines: Carol Brown sent me this article called "Why your Morning Routine can Make or Break your Career."  It starts off with this quote: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

The article mentions some things I already know like how #1: the morning is the best time to get things done when it's the beginning of the day and you have more willpower.   "#3 It affects the rest of your day's performance."  It's like that with my days off.  Even if I sleep in a bit, I would still be on the computer at 7am to look for a job.

I didn't know that mornings can make you more creative like #7 said: "... in scientific journal Thinking and Reasoning showed that in the time after rising when you’re half-awake and unfocused, you often make connections between things that you probably would not make when you’re fully awake."

I'm more creative at night when I'm lying in bed, getting ready to go to sleep.  I'm more calm and then my mind wanders.

Finances: I'm very meticulous with my finances.  I write down all the money I spend and what on.  I write down how much money I make a day.  It adds up the hour wages and the tips.  On another piece of paper I write down all the tips I make in a month and then I write it down on another sheet of paper.  The sheet has the total of months tips and paychecks.

Or you could use spreadsheets.

Sept. 12 Contracts: I was thinking about that door-to-door sales job.  I signed a contract where I would have to work 10 shifts (40hrs in total) before I would get paid for all my subscriptions that I sold.  I'm not going to endure 36 more hours of this if I don't have to.

When I worked at Call Centre #5, I signed a contract where I had to work 4 days so I could get paid.  After an 8hr shift, I was like: "I want to get part-time hrs so I only have to do this for 15 more hrs."  The good thing is that they dismissed me in the 2nd day and I still got paid.

Sept. 13 Job advice: A co-worker of mine is looking for a 2nd job.  She went to Job Bank and the Edmonton Journal.  I told her to widen her net.  As in instead of just restaurants, apply to other places.  She did. She just needs to hear back from them.

Edmonton Job Shop: Today is my day off so I'm looking for a job at other sites I don't usually go to.  I haven't been to Edmonton Job Shop in a long time.  I did apply to one place.  I saw my account and I used to be there a lot in 2010, and a bit in 2011.  It's a good job site.