Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Joyeux Noel!

What a terrific Christmas.

Despite a forced delay to visit my family because flights were cancelled from snow and ice deluged Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and the entire region besieged with an unexpected snow storm, leaving many of us home bound? (A state of emergency has been declared by governor Christine Gregoire)

I'm celebrating one of my most enjoyable and memorable holidays ever.

First and foremost, everyone - pets and humans - in my world are healthy; my house is lit up for the holidays with a beautiful, glistening Christmas tree hosting 900 lights; fireplace logs flicker warming flames; sweet scents of the season simmer on the stove; holiday music plays, the three pups and kitty are as affectionate and playful as ever.

Because I'm "stranded" and not with my family, many invitations and good wishes have been sent my way; the roads make it treacherously impossible to socialize, however ... AND ... I promised my producers and editor that I would have my page 1 rewrite of The Lonely Goatherd completed by midnight Christmas Eve. Sure enough, I sent it out last night about 11:30pm. A "page 1" rewrite means that the script is rewritten from .. page 1.

The script's tone, characters, comedy and drama have not overwhelmingly changed, but the structure and overall writing is significantly changed and improved. It's much tighter, stronger, clearer, and I think funnier. So I've been working around the clock to meet my self-imposed deadline.

Mind you, we start filming March 30, so it's not the final version that we'll actually shoot, but it is ready for actors to read who want to consider auditioning or meeting with us when we work with LA Casting Directors Russell Boast and Rick Pagano next month. Producer Larry Estes and I will go to Los Angeles for at least a couple days to see everyone we ask to see and actors who ask to see us.

I *love* auditioning because it is an embarrassment of riches - to see and meet with actors who are so talented, gifted and skilled; actors who bring their own special adaptation of the characters - and especially those who bring their heart and soul to the table.

I appreciate interacting with everyone who has obviously worked hard prepping for our session because they want the role. I respond to all they do that is great and give notes (suggestions) when they're close or perhaps to see if another subtext would nail another character. I especially love people who make it clear they are more interested in an excellent performance than assuaging their ego.

As I recall there was only one person I would consider a "pill," but that was at least an entertaining experience.

I *hate* auditioning because I want to hire everyone who is pill-free. It's painful to tell someone who is clearly a special, insightful and great actor they have not been cast. But I always remember people who impress me, and the last time Larry and I were casting in LA for The Whole Truth, some very well known actors met with us even though there were no roles for which they qualified. They just wanted to meet us, let us know what they're up to and listen to what we're doing. As well as sharing our wishes, dreams and goals. Those meetings were memorable.

That being said, with this rewrite of The Lonely Goatherd finished, I'm free to celebrate! I actually have "free time" to do all the other things I love to do!

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah!

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  • At 10:42 PM, Blogger The Entertainment Corner said…

    Joyeux Noel CP :)

    Glad you & your pets enjoyed Christmas, despite the inability to travel anywhere.

    I'm curious ... typically how many times is a script changed before filming for a movie takes place?

    Stay safe and warm.

  • At 11:07 PM, Blogger cp said…

    MM, Cherie - it really depends on several factors, but I'd say my scripts go through like 20 rewrites. Few are "page 1" rewrites - from start to finish, most are just improving sections that feel not quite ready.

    I like to have my script ready to impress actors and *us* when they work with the dialogue in auditions. We were really happy with the shape of the dialogue in The Whole Truth auditions as we heard actors interpret the lines dozens of different ways. After we started preproduction, I did three rewrites - mostly patchwork.

    We start with the "Official White" copy; the pages that are rewritten after that are blue; then it's pink, then it's yellow. I haven't had to go beyond yellow, so I don't know the next color.

    More, as we are actually shooting, I come up with sharper moves or lines, and working with such great actors as Eric Roberts, Rick Overton, John Fugelsang, Elisabeth Rohm and Sean Patrick Flanery - each of them made suggestions that I used as well.

    The script supervisor keeps track of all the changes, additions and exclusions I make along the way. In some cases an actor may make a suggestion and we shoot it using his or her suggestion as well as the scene just the way it's written.

    This is why the vision of the director is so important. If the suggesions don't contribute to the vision, the scenes feel like they don't belong or distract from the film being made.

    As often as I said "yes" to suggestions I said "no" because the suggestions that wouldn't work would have taken time without contributing to the vision/film. Some directors want only to use what is written, others use more improvisation.

    I'm right down the middle - I like to use what works to make the best scene ever; that contributes the most to the film and shows off the actor's talent to the max.

  • At 9:18 AM, Blogger The Entertainment Corner said…

    Thank you I appreciate you taking the time to answer my question.

  • At 12:37 AM, Blogger Puppy Power said…

    Mmmm, I enjoyed the detailed description of your Christmas with the fireplace and three puppies. Can there be a joyous holiday season without pets? A resounding NO!
    You mentioned a new film project (Lonely Goatherd) and something about a partial script being available to interested actors. any parts for the 40-55 females? And if so, where would such a person obtain a script?

  • At 12:41 PM, Blogger cp said…

    Um, no, there's no script available unless you are interested in auditioning and can get it from your agent. No partial scripts are ever available because we don't want to send anything out that's half done.

    All local actors in Seattle will be seen through Complete Casting; all actors in LA will be cast through Rick Pagano and Russell Boast.

    Agents should have had the script breakdown for four days now. We're only casting through these casting agents.


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