Thursday, May 17, 2018

I'm adapting my screenplay into a book.

A couple of weeks ago I received an e-mail from one of the publishers that I had contacted earlier this year. I had inquired whether there was any chance that they could adapt my animated movie screenplay into a children's book.

After all, my script - at least in my opinion - was pretty well written and had universal appeal as a story. I thought that the story as a whole was good enough and that it deserved to be published in print form too.

So when it comes to the publisher's response, the representative of the company told me that I had some work to do. In their answer they told me that the screenplay would have to be written in Finnish, before they would read it.

Naturally, I thought that this policy that they had didn't make much sense. Why on earth would I have to translate a story from English to Finnish, considering that they all understood English and could evaluate the story based on that?

Besides, the screenplay that I wrote wouldn't be published in its current form anyway. In case they wanted to get the story adapted and published, the original screenplay would merely be used as a blueprint for the novel.

Not surprisingly, I didn't feel like spending time translating the script. Even though I certainly could have translated the story, I thought it would probably be better if I'd manage to come up with a better solution myself.

So when it comes to thinking about what to do with my script, it didn't take that long before I managed to come up with an idea. I thought that perhaps it could be me who could write the book adaptation of the screenplay.

The biggest reason for this is that since I had written the original 'film' version, I likely had the talent to write book version too. Since I had already done the hardest part of the project, I might as well do the rest of the things too.

After all, in the adaptation one would more or less only have to follow the script and write based on that. It wouldn't require the writer to  come up with any new themes, characters, storylines or anything else that mattered.

In that sense, now that I'm going to do the writing myself, I shouldn't be that worried about the process. I shouldn't be worried just because I lack experience in writing novels and just because I have to learn some basics about the craft.

After all, considering that screenwriting is universally considered to be harder than writing novels, things don't look that bad here. The fact that I've written scripts that are tight makes writing novels a lot easier when it comes to quality storytelling.

In the end, even though I'm not necessarily that excited about the upcoming project, writing a novel is a really good challenge for me. It's certainly going to challenge me and make me better as an all-around writer.

Especially considering that I don't have that many bigger projects going on at the moment, I finally have something to look forward to. I get to learn something new about writing and I'll also get out of my comfort zone.

In that sense, I can only hope that things will go well with this task. I can only hope that I'll be able to come up with a solid adaptation, because if I'm able to do that, there's a good chance that the book is going to be published and that it's going to be a hit.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

The importance of silence in writing.

When it comes to being a writer, one of the most important things about the craft has to do with your ability to concentrate. As a writer, you have to be able to concentrate on your tasks, so that you could come up with quality stuff on a consistent basis.

After all, the better you are at concentrating on your projects, the more likely it is that you'll succeed in these tasks. The more you're able to control these writing projects, the higher the chances are that you'll be able to write something that has value.

The reason that I'm writing about this is that even though most of us know how important it is to concentrate on your tasks, it's not always that easy to do. Paying attention and being able to focus is a lot more difficult than one might think.

The biggest reason that concentrating can be so hard is that there is so much noise around us. Whether we're talking about workplace environment or simply being at home, there's a good chance that you have things around that distract you.

For example, when it comes to me, I happen to work in an environment where I don't have my own office. I have to do things and write in a place where there are usually like a dozen other people who are trying to do their own things.

Not surprisingly, whenever I have to do stuff that includes creative writing, it's really difficult to write anything that makes sense. No matter how hard I'm trying, I can't manage to write stuff that is consistent and coherent enough.

As unfortunate as it is, in these cases, since I don't really have a choice, I simply have to take my projects from work to my home and continue writing there. I have to do that, because otherwise the quality of my work wouldn't be good enough.

The upside to bringing my projects to home from work is that I'm usually able to write pretty well there. My home is the place where I can write without others bothering me or creating noise that would interrupt my concentration.

After all, this is the place where it's so much easier to relax and to feel at peace as a writer. It's so much easier to be in control of my projects and focus on them, since I don't have to be in the presence of the others anymore.

Of course, just because I'm writing at my home, that doesn't automatically mean that I'm going to deliver stuff that is good enough. I'm not saying that I won't get distracted by the internet or some other things that might take my focus off my work.

At the same time, even though I have my own distractions there too, I'm certainly able to be significantly more consistent at my home. This is where my introverted mind won't get bombarded by all that noise coming from the outside world.

In that sense, when it comes to being able to concentrate and create something as a writer, it's pretty obvious that it matters where you work. It makes a huge difference whether you're working in a chaotic environment or in a place where you feel safe.

After all, the more distractions and the more hectic the environment that your workplace has, the harder it becomes to come up with quality stuff. The more chaotic your work environment is, the harder it is to create anything that works.

In that sense, it should be clear that even though we all know the importance of silence, we should pay more attention to it. We should focus on trying to make sure that we work in an environment where we can focus on what we're doing.

After all, even though there is noise, distraction and stress almost everywhere around us, those things are not good for us. We shouldn't think that being in a chaotic environment is the way to go and that you can thrive in that kind of culture.

On the contrary, being in a place where you get to concentrate on your projects is how you succeed as a writer. Being in a place where you get to be yourself and get to control your projects is how you come up with stuff that is good enough and that makes sense.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

'I, Tonya' is a really good dark comedy.

Last week me and my friend managed to watch a movie that we had heard good things about. We managed to find time to watch 'I, Tonya', a critically acclaimed movie about the life of the famous - or infamous - figure skater Tonya Harding.

Like many others, the biggest reason that we wanted to see the movie was to know more about the incident between her and Nancy Kerrigan. We wanted to know more about what happened during the run-up to the Lillehammer Olympics in 1994.

So having now seen the movie, it can be said that 'I, Tonya' managed to surprise us in a good way. Even though the movie is not always easy to watch - there are some violent scenes in it - the film is still extremely well made.

The biggest reason that the movie works so well is that the story of  Tonya Harding - that is based on real life events - is so compelling. Harding being pushed by her crazy mother to become a world class figure skater is a story that deserves to be told.

When it comes to the film, the first part of the movie is about Harding's progression from a four year old to a professional figure skater. We see her beating the odds as an underdog and her becoming the first american female skater to pull off a triple axel jump.

Later on, things obviously get more complicated for everyone involved. We get to see things like Harding's struggles with her violent husband, her struggles with her mom and the Nancy Kerrigan incident that probably everyone has heard of.

Not surprisingly, it's during these scenes and moments that involve the planning and the execution of the Kerrigan attack, that the movie really takes off. This is when the film really shines and manages to get almost ridiculously good.

Especially when it comes to all the scenes that involve Harding's so called bodyguard, you can't help but be floored by all the bizarre and darkly comedic things that happen. It's so incredible to imagine that these things more or less happened in real life.

Still, by far the most important aspect concerning the movie has to do with the notorious Nancy Kerrigan incident. How accurate is 'I, Tonya', when it comes to this bizarre skating incident that became a huge media circus?

After all, when it comes to the truthfulness of 'I, Tonya', some have said the film downplays Harding's part in the Kerrigan attack. They say that she definitely played a role in the attack and was guilty of being part of a conspiracy.

Yet, based on the research that is out there, it's more than possible that this might not be the case. It's more than a possibility that Harding is being honest and that she didn't have much - if anything to do with the planning and the execution of the attack.

Especially when you consider that her ex-husband confessed to lying about her involvement, it's more than likely it was actually him and the bodyguard who came up with the plan. They were the ones who schemed and decided to attack Kerrigan.

In that sense, when it comes to 'I, Tonya', I think it's pretty clear the movie manages to be pretty accurate and factual from start to finish. It manages to get most of its historical aspects right when it comes to things that actually matter.

After all, even though it's true that in certain scenes the film takes artistic license - like when it deals with Harding's coaches - those changes don't matter that much. These changes were made in order to make the story more straightforward and easier to follow.

In the end, when you put all these things about the film together, it's really not that surprising that 'I, Tonya', as a sports / biography movie works so well. It's not surprising that the film is so well made and entertaining.

After all, the movie more or less gets everything right when it comes to producing, writing, directing and acting. You can't help but to wonder how the whole crew managed to come up with so many good performances in the movie.

Especially when it comes to Allison Janney as Harding's monstrous mother, you can't help but to admire her. She gives such a creepy portrayal as the crazed mother, that it's no wonder that she won an Oscar for her role.

In that sense, if you haven't seen the movie yet, you should give it a go. You should give it a go, because even though the film is pretty sad in certain places, as a whole, 'I, Tonya' manages to be a funny, entertaining,  insightful and a genuinely well made movie.

Friday, April 20, 2018

How to manage your perfectionism as a writer.

When it comes to me being a writer, it's not exactly a secret that I tend to be pretty hard on myself. As a writer, I feel that I have to write good stuff all the time and that I'm not allowed to make mistakes in the process.

Especially when it comes to writing on behalf of others, I feel that I have a responsibility to get things right. I feel that since I'm not just representing myself, making mistakes is unacceptable and makes me a bad person.

So when it comes to me - or anyone else - being this kind of a 'perfectionist', it's obvious that even though it's not a bad thing to set high standards for yourself, it's not always a good thing either. It's not good to always demand too much from yourself.

The biggest problem with being a perfectionist is that even though writing good stuff requires that you try your best, there are days when things won't go your way. No matter how hard you'll try, on some days you won't be able to write good stuff at all.

During these bad days, if you're a perfectionist, you might get so stressed from possibly 'failing', that you might even think that you have failed as a human being. You might think that you're the worst person in the world and that you can't succeed in anything.

So when it comes to these situations when things don't go your way, is there anything that we could do so that we could perhaps avoid them? Is there a way to handle these moments when things just don't seem to work at all?

At least in my opinion, the best way to 'manage' yourself as a perfectionist - unlike what some might say - is actually not to lower your standards. You should not automatically think that you should become a writer that demands less from yourself.

Instead of lowering your standards, a more constructive way to manage your perfectionism would be to become more aware of yourself as a writer. You should become more aware of what your strengths and weaknesses are.

For example, when I start working on a project, it always helps if I have had previous experience working on my tasks. It helps if I'm routined enough with the processes and have a solid idea on how the writing process is going to work.

By that I mean that as long I'm aware of the mistakes that I'm going to make and how I can fix them, things are going to be okay. As long as I know how long the project is going to take on average and where the obstacles are going to be, I won't get too frustrated.

On the other hand, when it comes to projects that I'm not used to doing at all - like writing stuff using some other language (Finnish in my case), there's more than a good chance that I'm going to run into real problems with my expectations.

For example, when I wrote a thousand word documentation for our team's project last week, I felt really uneasy during the process. I didn't feel comfortable almost at any point during this supposedly 'easy' writing task.

The reason for this feeling was that even though I did have tons of experience in writing articles, I had written all my articles in English. I didn't have a writing routine at all when it comes to using my mother tongue.

So not surprisingly, when I tried to write in Finnish after like a ten year break, I kept running into obstacles all the time. I ran into obstacles, because I didn't know that I would have to adjust and that the two languages weren't completely interchangeable.

Especially when it comes to certain phrases and transitions, I felt completely lost with the project. I had such big problems that I even had to spend more than twice as much time on the project than I usually do when I write in English.

In that sense, when it comes to managing your perfectionism as a whole, it's pretty obvious that the biggest issue with the trait isn't necessarily perfectionism itself. It isn't necessarily a bad thing to keep setting high standards for yourself.

After all, in most cases, as long as you can predict  and control your projects, your perfectionism won't be a problem. As long as you know where the usual pitfalls are going to be and how you fix them, you'll be more than happy to keep pushing.

On the other hand, when it comes to cases where you don't have a realistic idea how much work is going to be required, you'll run into trouble. In these cases, the perfectionist gets overwhelmed from not being able to predict how well things are going to go.

In that sense, as a perfectionist person, I probably shouldn't lower my own 'standards' that much when it comes to writing. I probably shouldn't be thinking that as long as I'll try less, things are going to be okay and that I'll feel better.

After all, even though trying less would be the easy way out, it wouldn't likely be the right thing to do. It wouldn't be right for me to think that the best way would be to slack instead of rethinking my expectations and my abilities.

In that sense, I just wish that I had been less arrogant with my task last week. I wish that I had been less arrogant about myself, because had I been more aware of myself and my challenges, I would have had a much easier task getting the project finished.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

'Paddington 2' is a genuinely wonderful movie.

A couple of days ago me and my friend managed to watch a movie that we had wanted to watch for quite some time. We managed to watch an animated live-action film called 'Paddington 2', a movie about a friendly, talking bear that lives with humans.

The reason that we wanted to watch the film as much as we did was that we had really liked the first 'Paddington' movie. We knew that the first movie was good, so there was a good chance that the sequel would be pretty good too.

So having now seen the second film, it has to be said that our expectations about the movie were more than met. Even though the first 'Paddington' was a good movie, I think it's fairly safe to say that the sequel is even better.

One of the best things about this second film is that there's almost nothing mean-spirited about the movie or any of its characters. Even though not all the things that happen in it are uplifting, 'Paddington' manages to have a positive tone throughout its length.

In the film, the story is basically about our main character Paddington going to jail after getting framed for a book robbery. He is sentenced to jail after being framed by the villain of the movie, an old school actor Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant).

During his time in prison, our friendly and good natured bear tries to befriend his inmates. While our villain actor Buchanan is trying to locate a long lost treasure, Paddington does his best to get on the good side of the prisoners.

The biggest reason that the story of the film - that may be a bit hokey - works so well is that the movie doesn't take itself too seriously. Instead of being too serious or judgemental, the film manages to be lighthearted in a good way.

In practice, what this means is that in almost every scene, the movie manages to go against the expectations. It intentionally turns things around and surprises us, instead of going through the usual motions that most movies do.

For example, I just couldn't help but to love when Paddington wins over those prison inmates. I couldn't help but to love how his earnest and well intentioned behavior quickly disarms the inmates and the notorious Chef Knuckles (Brendan Gleeson).

In these scenes, the way 'Paddington' manages to get laughs from almost every moment is simply amazing. You can't help but to appreciate how those making the film were able to come up with so many good and funny ideas that work so well.

Still, the biggest surprise in the movie without a doubt has to do with Hugh Grant's character. The veteran actor as the scheming - yet utterly likable - villain Phoenix Buchanan is the single biggest reason that the film works so well.

After all, without his performance as the actor who's trying to find the hidden treasure, there's no way that the movie would be as charming as it is. Without his sense of humor and his willingness to 'ridicule' himself, the film wouldn't work that well.

In that sense, when you look at 'Paddington' as a whole, it's obvious that even though the story could have been a bit better and more organic in certain places, these minor flaws in storytelling don't really hurt the movie much.

After all, even though I had some minor issues with the film, 'Paddington' still manages to bring out all the good qualities that we expect from British movies. It manages to lift your spirits and makes you feel without being too calculating or too sentimental.

In the end, that is something that is extremely rare when it comes to movies that get released nowadays. It's super rare to see a movie that manages to entertain and makes you laugh without being judgemental or mean to anyone.

In that sense, when it comes to 'Paddington' as a film, I couldn't recommend it more. I couldn't recommend it more, because even though it's not a perfect movie, it's still the funniest film that I've seen in a really long time.

Friday, March 30, 2018

'Roseanne's' Season 10 premiere episode.

When it comes to sitcoms on television, it's not exactly a secret that there aren't that many quality shows on tv. Most sitcoms on television simply don't have what it takes to keep us entertained and interested in what's going on.

In reality, most television sitcoms don't work because they aren't based on anything meaningful. Most sitcoms on tv aren't based on situations and characters that we could relate to and that we could find worth following.

In that sense, when I heard that a classic show from the 80s and 90s, 'Roseanne', was coming back for an eight episode revival, I was pretty excited. I was excited that we could get a show on tv that was down to earth and based on reality.

After all, 'Roseanne' as a television sitcom was known for being a series that wasn't afraid of tackling social issues that actually mattered. It was a series that was willing to discuss issues that were important and that people would care about.

So having now seen the first episode of the show's revival, it can be said that 'Roseanne's' season premiere wasn't bad at all. The series clearly has a reason to exist in 2018, even though the premiere wasn't 'perfect' per se.

One of the best things about the new show is that it's still about the Conner family. It's about Dan, Roseanne and the rest of their family trying to get through with their everyday lives and trying to make their ends meet.

On the show, even though all the characters are back and have aged 20 years, things haven't really changed that much for them. They're still struggling economically and it's obvious that they haven't managed to become part of the American dream.

Among other things, the show deals with issues like Dan and Roseanne not being able to afford their medication, Darlene moving back home after losing her job and Becky being so broke that she has decided to become a surrogate mother.

Still, the reason that the show works so well is not just because the series handles these issues and themes. Even though it deals with issues that are relevant, that's not the only reason that Roseanne has been so successful over the years.

In reality, the reason that the series has worked so well is because of the chemistry between the cast members. The acting from talented actors like John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf and Sara Gilbert is so good that you can't help but to admire their authenticity.

After all, without their expertise and their ability to create something magical on the show, there's no chance that 'Roseanne' would have worked so well. There's no chance that without their chemistry, the series would have felt so meaningful.

In that sense, when we think about this season premiere and the upcoming season as a whole, we shouldn't be too worried about some of the problems in the first episode. We shouldn't be too worried about those minor flaws in the story too much.

After all, even though there were some things in the first episode (Trump / Hillary politics) that weren't that well thought out, they weren't that bad. These problems with the writing are not going to hurt the show too much in the upcoming episodes.

In the end, the show is still going to work, because even though there were some thematical flaws in the story, the premise and the characters are still relatable. These likable characters are the ones that are going to keep us watching,

In that sense, even though I was perhaps expecting more, I still can't wait to see the rest of the episodes that are going to air. I can't wait to see them, because even though the series isn't perfect, 'Roseanne' is still better than almost anything on tv at the moment.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Review: Pixar's animated film 'Coco'.

A couple of days ago, me and my friend managed to watch Pixar's animated film 'Coco'. We managed to watch this Academy Award winning film after having postponed watching the movie for quite some time.

After all, we decided to see the film because most of the time Pixar has managed to produce films that are well made. In most cases they have managed to deliver movies that put you on a good mood and that manage to keep you entertained.

So now that we've seen this movie about a Mexican kid "in the land of the dead", how good did the movie turn out to be? How good is the film compared to those other solid Pixar films like Toy Story and Finding Nemo? 

The first thing that needs to be said about 'Coco' is that like every film that Pixar has produced, the movie does look good. There's no denying that a huge amount of effort went into making sure that the film would look as good as possible.

By that I mean that all the characters in the movie look and feel super lively. Both the living and the 'dead' characters in the film look so good that you can only be in awe how well the graphics artists were able to create them.

Not only does the film look good, 'Coco' also sounds really good. It's apparent that all the voice actors in the movie do a good job and the film has a really solid soundtrack that you can't help but to enjoy listening.

Still, just because the movie looks and sounds good, that doesn't automatically mean that the movie is going to be great. Just because all those other aspects in the film work, that doesn't mean that the story is going to be awesome too.

Indeed, when it comes to the story, there are certain things in the film that don't work that well. Even though the story in 'Coco' is kinda okay, the script could have been a lot better than what writers were able to come up with.

Very likely the biggest problem with the story is that it drags too much in certain places. There are clearly moments in the film when the story comes to a standstill and the animation doesn't have a purpose or direction.

For example, when our main character is trying to locate his savior in 'the land of the dead', the movie simply lacks stakes. It feels as if our protagonist doesn't have any real obstacles that would make us interested in what's going on.

This lack of urgency for the protagonist - that might have been caused by a weakish inciting incident - feels so severe that I kept nodding off during the film's second act. I simply could not keep my eyes open during some those weak moments in the movie.

The second issue that I have with the story has to do with the characters and the structure not making sense. In certain scenes it's obvious that it was the story structure driving the characters and not the other way around.

For example, throughout the movie, I couldn't help but to think that 'Hector's' behavior was a bit too inconsistent. His character changed based on what was required in the story, regardless of whether it made sense or not.

This was also obvious in the scenes with our protagonist's savior character (great grandfather). In these scenes where the protagonist interacted with the 'supposed' great grandpa, the story made no sense and really felt muddled and convoluted.

After all, when our protagonist's savior turned out to be the villain - five minutes after heroically saving our protagonist from drowning, that was clearly bad storytelling from the writers. These scenes made no sense and were thematically all over the place.

Still, when it all is said and done, even though there were clearly problems with the film's screenplay, that doesn't mean that these flaws ruined the film. I'm not saying that these story problems were so severe that they outweighed the good things about it.

After all, when you evaluate the movie as a whole, I think it's obvious that 'Coco' still has a lot of redeeming qualities in it. These good qualities, like the film's overall positive message and the writers of the movie trying something new counts too.

In the end, even though the screenplay for the film should have been a lot better, the story is still not bad. The basic story in the film is not bad, even though there are certain problems with script and its characters that are fairly apparent.

In that sense, if you're a person that likes watching animations, 'Coco' is likely going to be a film that you'll enjoy watching. You'll likely enjoy watching it, because despite its flaws, the film still manages to entertain and it manages to put you on a good mood.