Archive for the ‘Screenwriting’ category

Rise of the Women: Mad Max

May 30, 2015

••Imperator Furiosa and The Wives••

I saw Mad Max: Fury Road today and it was awesome! You have to love the twisted minds of the writers. George Miller, Brendan McCarthy and Nico Lathouris created an interesting, post-apocalyptic world. The world was filled with all sorts of mind-blowing things. I love writers who can surprise me. This movie was action packed!

I don’t love Tom Hardy (who played Mad Max), but I absolutely adore Charlize Theron (who played Imperator Furiosa). Charlize is such a versatile actress. She isn’t scared to play non-glamorous roles even though she is smoking hot! I love that about her. I remember being so impressed by her role in Monster. She kicked some serious ass in Fury Road.

There are many themes which permeate the film. There were at least five that I clearly saw. I felt that the three most powerful themes which drove the storyline were love/sacrifice and the empowerment of women. Other themes which I observed were home, retaliation and redemption.

The story was about love of self, love of others and the transformative power of that love. This was yet another tragic love story. A woman and a man die for love in the midst of gang wars. It is a tragic story because in the end, Max and Furiosa fall in love, yet they part ways. For these characters, it was enough to know each would be ok following a battle.

These three male writers are awesome for focusing this story on the empowerment of women. From a one armed female warrior who can drive a big rig while kicking ass in a fight to release women from sex slavery, to denouncing the objectification of women, to a gang of all female bikers who fight to reclaim the Citadel… Miller, McCarthy and Lathouris covered it all. Symbolically, the women were the holders of the the seeds of life (child bearing and actual heirloom seeds).

The movie is worth a watch. Aside from all the trippy characters, crazy costumes, cool weapons, tricked out rides, and desolate landscapes, there is much more to this movie on a symbolic level. I had one favorite quote in this movie coming from Mad Max himself. He told Furiosa… “You know hope is a mistake. If you can’t fix what’s broken, you’ll go insane.” I agree Mr. Mad. I totally agree.

Sweaty Before a Mind Blow

February 26, 2015


•••Putting in work!•••

Right now Shonda Rhimes is my favorite screenwriter. She blows my mind and I’m addicted to TGIT! Tonight I got in a quick and dirty cardio session in the fitness center at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design before rushing off. I busted out 9 miles and 218 calories in 20 minutes on a sweet, new Diamondback stationary bike. Thinking about how I didn’t want to miss the first few minutes of Grey’s Anatomy helped! Scandal was out tonight, but it was the season finale of How to Get Away with Murder and it rocked! Shonda rocks! How does she do it!?

Weekly Ratings: Oscars, ‘TGIT’ Dramas Lift ABC to Biggest Victory in 15 Years


Highlights of the Day: Tony Hillerman Writers Conference 2014 (Nov.6)

November 6, 2014

~CB McKenzie and Felicia. He wanted me to hold the ad I designed for him.~

It was a long day, but it was a good day! I spent the day learning, networking, and documenting. Here is a chronological look at my highlights:

8’ish~ I received an awesome text from my friend. It read… “Hey there busy lady! Have a wonderful hillerman conference! U never cease to amaze me with your endless energy and enthusiasm. U r an inspiration!! Can’t wait to hear all about it…” I can’t tell you how good it is to have people who show they care about me in my life. I’m lucky to have met her.

8’ish~ I received an email from author CB McKenzie. He said he was in Santa Fe and wanted to meet with me before leaving town.

10’ish~ Heard lots of good things about my program design.

1’ish~ Happened to see my favorite cabinet secretary, who is also on the commission for my agency at the conference headquarters. He was there for some meeting and we chatted for a while. I told him about my “other life” as a writer and creative force. I loved that he wanted to steal me away to go work for him at State Printing after I showed him the program I designed. I assured him that I loved my career in the archives and had no plans to leave.

3’ish~ The best writing teacher I have ever known, Sandi Ault, complimented me. She liked a super short piece I wrote during a timed exercise in her pre-conference workshop. After I read it she said… “Nice! There are agents in the room. Stand up. I want everyone to see you Felicia.” I was sitting on the floor in front because I was taking photos. If you knew Sandi, you would know why this is a big deal to me. She is amazing and very hard to please. The task was to write 3-4 sentences describing King Kong’s love (without calling it love) for the blonde the first time he held her in his hand. Here is what I wrote: “The animal in him melted away with the brush of her pale skin. A tingle ran through the thick palm of his hand. Years in the jungle had not hardened him enough to deny the softness of her face.” This evening she told me I’m a good writer. She heard other stuff I wrote during the workshop.

4’ish~ I had a meeting with CB McKenzie and sealed a deal. I’ll start working on an author web site and promotional material for him soon.

6’ish~ Got to hang with my two law enforcement buddies who are also writers and regulars at the conference. Betsy (lieutenant and spokeswoman in Oklahoma) and Sana (an officer in Texas). Both woman are originally from New Mexico. I just love Betsy. She kicks ass.

7’ish~ Watched some awesome videographies created by the Film School students of the Santa Fe University of Art and Design. The Screen hosted a short film screening and panel presentation moderated by Justin Golding. It was about bringing a novel to the big screen. The panel included Melinda Snodgrass, David Morrell, and Kirk Ellis, who have all had their writing featured on the big screen and TV. I loved that Ellis said… “Our job as writers is to make shit up!”

It was a good day! Gotta get up super early tomorrow so I’m going to bed early. The new book/new author breakfast starts at 7:30am.

Lust for Intellect: The Sexiest Words

August 2, 2014


Yesterday I wrote about going to the movies. When I walked into the theater, there was a promotional movie poster for The Best of Me. It was right next to the door for my movie. This was the very same day I had been contemplating Notebookish people, so I thought it was a coincidence. The Best of Me happens to be the newest movie based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks. I took a picture of the poster and in that moment I realized it isn’t the story lines I’m in love with, it’s the writers.

Sparks is an American novelist, who also happens to be a screenwriter and producer. The author is well known and has published close to 20 romantic novels, 8 of which were adapted to film. This included The Notebook. I think his intellect was partially fostered by his father, a professor who taught behavioral theory. In the mid 1980s Sparks graduated as the valedictorian of his class and then attended the prestigious University of Notre Dame. The part I love about him is that even though his mind was super sexy, he actually attended the university on a full paid track and field scholarship.

Most naive women believe love is a storybook. Not me. It never has been and it never will be. It is the nature of the human spirit for people to reach outward…to reach for more. We reach for the unattainable things in hope that it brings us pleasure. Though the novels by Sparks are fiction, they bleed out the color of his deepest desires. His reality likely never mirrors the words in his novels with regard to love and sex. Even though that may be true, surely his prized words and sophisticated mind have given him the opportunity to have any sexy, smart woman he desires. Sparks is an author with a romantic mind, but when do we see writers in actual practice?

On December 13, 2011, I wrote Are We Killing Intimate Expressions? I was so taken by a new book titled My Faraway One: Selected Letters of Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz, that I was moved to write. O’Keeffe is a New Mexico icon who died in 1986. Stieglitz, much older than she, died in 1946. He was indeed smitten by his creative counterpart. They were both artists, lovers, friends, and maybe at times enemies who corresponded over many years. Their intimate correspondence was published by Yale University Press in association with the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Their correspondence is a prime example of embracing emotion. Again, it is the intricate minds of writers which I adore, not necessarily the stories themselves.

On July 29, 2014, Jennifer Schuessler wrote Racy Love Letters Unsealed, which ran in the New York Times. The real world emotions which encase sex and love are also demonstrated in the correspondence of the former 29th President of the United States, Warren G. Harding. His “steamy” love letters to his mistress were recently released after enduring a court ordered seal which spanned 50 years. President Harding died in 1923. His letters show another side of the traditional, conservative Republican. He even represented the conservative wing of the GOP and opposed progressives. The man who was known to seek out the “best minds” for his conservative cabinet also secretly practiced sexual liberty with a woman he cared deeply for.

I thought it was coincidental that the promotional poster for the new Sparks movie crossed my path Friday evening. I wouldn’t call myself a huge fan of The Notebook, but I do love the mind of Nicholas Sparks. He is an amazing writer who couldn’t find a job at one time. There is nothing more sexy than an intellectual man who knows what he wants and doesn’t decline emotion. To him, words are a turn on. Though his emotions are expressed in fictional works, they surely model what he sees in his dreams.

I am not a Notebookish woman. I understand the difference between fantasy and reality because I am an intellectual woman. As writers, we wish to be taken to a place…even if the place is not real. We bleed out the color of our deepest desires, hoping that the colors mirror our words with regard to love and sex in practice. The second I took a photo of that poster I realized that the writers captivate me. My love goes deeper than the movies. It is paired with a lust for intellect.

How Does Kirk Ellis Tell a Story?

November 8, 2013
~~~Kirk Ellis Presentation on 11.8.2013~~~

~~~Kirk Ellis Presentation on 11.8.2013~~~

Yesterday I learned about how Kirk Ellis tells a story. He is a talented man. His presentation was titled
How to Tell a Story: It’s Not As Easy As You Think. I learned so much from Ellis. He also had one of the most poignant comments during the 2013 Tony Hillerman Writers Conference. He said “we are writers. It’s not about what we know. We make stuff up! It’s about imagination!” I loved this comment. Yes~ we are writers!!

The following information on Ellis was published by the City of Santa Fe Arts Commission. The commission put out an awesome biography on Ellis. He is the chairman of the commission here in Santa Fe and the following is courtesy of the commission.


Kirk Ellis won two Emmys, a Golden Globe, a WGA Award, a Peabody and the Humanitas Prize for his work on the HBO miniseries “John Adams.” The miniseries won a record breaking 13 Emmys in total, as well as four Golden Globe awards. Previously, Ellis received an Emmy nomination and won the WGA Award and Humanitas Prize for the ABC miniseries “Anne Frank,” which he wrote and co-produced. His miniseries “Into the West,” “Life With Judy Garland” and “The Beach Boys: An American Family,” all received multiple Emmy nominations.

Upcoming feature projects include a two-film biography of the Marquis de Lafayette for director Jean-Francois Richet (“Mesrine”) and Oscar-nominated Why Not Productions; the Mormon polygamy drama “Escape,” for director Lasse Hallstrom and star Katherine Heigl, and “Flying Tigers,” a story of the famed WWII fighter pilots, for Fox and New Regency. For HBO, Ellis is writing “The Day the Laughter Stopped,” an account of the Fatty Arbuckle trials of the 1920s, set to star Eric Stonestreet (“Modern Family”) and to be directed by Barry Levinson (“You Don’t Know Jack”). He is currently at work on a series pilot script for HBO and George Clooney’s Smokehouse Productions about the agribusiness world, and another for Starz concerning the early years of the O.S.S., the precursor to the C.I.A.

A graduate of the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema and Television, Ellis began his professional career as a film critic for The Hollywood Reporter, and at age 24 served as the magazine’s international editor. In 1992 he formed Shadow Catcher Productions, an independent production banner under which Ellis develops his own indie features and documentaries. A co-governor of the writers’ branch of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Ellis also serves as chairman of the Santa Fe, New Mexico Arts Commission, on the board of directors of Western Writers of America, and the advisory board of James River Writers.

Here are some of the Ellis quotes I found most interesting and inspiring. I also included some of the things I learned.

It is incumbent on us in the structured side of our brain. How are we going to move a story forward? These are important things we need to do from scene to scene.”

What we have to strive for as writers is economy of expression. How do we make the greatest effect with the smallest amount of tools possible?”

You are telling a story with a minimum of excess in your story.”

It’s not what you put in the book, it’s what you don’t put in the book.”

It’s the process of exclusion that makes a story interesting. This is how you come up with a narrative. “You need to know what your ending is and what your beginning is. If you don’t, you will just be flailing. You need to know the ending of the story because you need to know where your character will end up. A character needs to change to be interesting.”

Human life does not conform to that Shakespearean structure that we are use to, especially if you are basing stories on historical characters.”

Ellis thinks it is very important to look at the “economy” of words in a story. “How can you maximize that? You only have a limited amount of pages, space, words to describe your story.”

Point of view is very important.”

You are able to get into the inner world of characters. What are they thinking?”

“Make sure that you are giving a character the most vivid picture you can.”

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