Friday, January 11, 2008

Writing Routines of the Masters - Alan Rowe Kelly

Alan Rowe Kelly is an award winning independent filmmaker and quite frankly, one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. The funny thing is, despite all that charm, Alan writes some of the most hilarious, off the wall and twisted screenplays in independent film. If you want a sample of his sheer genious, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of his latest masterpiece, The Blood Shed. It's chock full of memorable characters and witty dialogue.

It's this interview with Alan that has inspired me to finish my own screenplay this year. So, without further ado, here is Alan Rowe Kelly's answer to one of my favorite questions:

What is your writing routine like?

Alan: It’s a daily thing. At least 2 to 3 hours a day/night – whenever it comes to me. There is no rhyme or reason to the way I write but I love to tell a good story. I still type like a newspaper reporter in an old movie! I don’t use the script programs, or format my pages, or utilize any of the easier methods available for a writer on a computer. I am very old fashioned that way.

But at least when I’m done, every actor, cameraman, editor and producer who reads my script always comes back knowing exactly where the story, the characters, the setting, and look of the film is going. My scripts are part novella, part production notes all in one. It just works for me and my crew that way, so why fix it if it ain’t broke?

It excites me even to know that my point of view on paper can look exactly as written on film – if not better. So when its time for cast readings, rehearsals, and the actual filming, everyone knows and understands exactly where they have to be – yet still have plenty of room for improvisation.

I am totally glued to my scripts until that very moment when I call “Action”. Then everything tends to change, and usually for the better. I use my scripts only as a template the work day – so if changes have to be made, we make them right there at that very moment. I’m not overly attached to my words, just the point they get across on camera. And if an actor has an easier and more beneficial way of conveying that point – I’m all for it! As long as it looks good and the story moves smoothly.

The Blood Shed was a very different script than what I normally write. It was mostly a series of vignettes like many foreign films follow. A sort of “a day in the life of…” storyline. The Blood Shed was originally written as a short for the horror anthology Hung By A Thread. But it became so much bigger when filming it that we had to make it a feature. I found it very interesting that a lot of American critics really liked the film – but felt it totally lacked a plot of any kind. I always thought it had a strong beginning, middle and end. But then, a lot of folks expect a film to be only one way in structure without deviation of any kind. In the end, I’m the one who is happy with the results. If I can’t look at that film and like it – no one else is going to either.

To read my full interview with this wonderful artist, click HERE.


Let's face it, as writers, we need to feel inspired. If we aren't, we can sit and stare at the page or screen for endless hours. It's the one common thread that connects each of us.

The wonderful thing about inspiration is that it can come from anywhere. You may hear a certain line in an old song, or you may catch the sun at just the right moment as it dips below the horizon. Or, you may have the opportunity to interview one of your favorite artists.

That last situation happens to be the case for me. On my other blog, Dave's Horror Reviews, I have the wonderful opportunity to interview many of today's most important figures in the horror industry. From award winning novelists to award winning filmmakers, they each have remarkable stories to tell and for me, that's inspiring.

So, I've decided to share their stories here in hopes that they may inspire you as well. If you have something that is particularly inspiring to you, I'd love to hear it. Leave me a comment and let me know what inspires you.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Words From The Vein...

Sometimes that's what it can feel like, pulling words from the vein. If you're a writer, like me, then you know exactly what I'm talking about. Words are what you live by, and words are what you get paid for. But, words don't always come willing. Sometimes you just stare at the screen, wishing for a spark when all you get is the grocery list popping up in your head. Or worse yet, you start hearing the subliminal call of the PSP as it sits on your desk, a game willing to be played.

Yeah, it can be tough. It can be tiring. It can be sometimes downright depressing. But when the magic flows, and the clients process their invoices in a timely manner, boy can it be thrilling, too. Because that's what it all comes down to right? We just want to get paid for the work we're performing. Sometimes I get angry at the writers who are willing to write a 700-word article for two dollars. I take complete offense. This is our work we're talking about here! This is coming from our veins, our lifeblood!

In a perfect world, writers would get paid what they're worth, but sadly, that's not the case. Some companies believe that they can pad their bottom line by cutting back on what they pay their writers. The problem is - as long as there are writers willing to do it, the companies will continue to lower their payments.

The Hollywood writer's strike should spark every writer to stand up for themselves and declare that we are no longer taking jobs for less than the work is worth. Come on writers, we're only hurting ourselves. Why should we expect to be paid properly, when there are so many of us selling out?

It's about time the writers get their due. I hope the strike lasts as long as it needs to for those guys to get what they deserve and in turn, I hope it ignites a spark under all the other writers out there. Get up the courage and say, "No, I won't write that 700-word article for two dollars!" If we all do it, who knows, we may just get what we deserve.