All posts by Stina Mastroeni

Ideas for Digital Website

This blog post will cover some brainstorming idea for the digital website portion of my thesis project.

I won’t say I hadn’t been giving this some thought already (even though it’s always a work on progress). For the digital website, I remember I spoke to Dr. Z at one point to go over how to set it up. She suggested using WordPress as more of a website in stead of a blog (I think maybe kind of like what I’m doing now).

As for content, I plan to include the following:

  • The Pilot
  • Episode 2
  • The Literature Review
  • Blog posts
  • Character backgrounds (maybe?)
  • Progress photos (similar to the ones from my presentation)
  • I was also thinking about including a brief self reflected video (If there’s time. Unfortunately I most likely will not be doing the documentary of the progress. Unless either I never need sleep or somehow more hours get put into the day.)

That’s what I’m thinking. If there’s anything I could be missing, comment below.


Map It Out

I meant to post this blog on Monday actually. I added another step to my process. After talking last week about seeing where this second episode goes, I decided to map it out. I took out my handy dandy notebook and kind of made one of those directional charts you look at if you want to know which version of Ryan Gosling would be perfect for you.

With this, I tried to weigh out my options and see what scenarios would work best with what. Although this seemed like a good idea at the time, I fell into a little bit of a trap, trying to find the perfect scenario… just like I did when I first started writing.

Although I need to add a side note for a moment. quiet literally as I wrote the above paragraph a woman sitting next to me at Barnes & Noble talks to her friend, I overhear pieces of the conversation. When the friends get up and throws something out, the woman looks to me and says I can’t stand negative people, they always have something bad to say. I don’t care though, who cares what other people say? I just work on pleasing myself because that’s all that matters. Negative people only come into our lives to get what they want, spread their negativity, and then they leave. Don’t ever worry about pleasing anyone but yourself… When she left she told me to stay true to who I am, work on that, and have a nice day. I said absolutely nothing to this woman about anything.

Yeah… I’m gonna take this as a sign.


Direction

I’m slightly proud to say that I used this spring break to the best of my ability. I completed the pilot draft and got through the cold open of the second episode.

In addition to the draft, I also had a phone conference with my friend who offered to keep me in check while writing this piece. I explain to him everything going on in this pilot, and how the writing and research works. I also explained to him the differences in it from a regular pilot episode. For example, the cold open is seven minutes long. I explain there was a reason for this, and it would only be the pilot episode(or maybe the first episode to every season, who knows). I wanted to make sure he knew where I came from before critiquing me.

He recently sent me back some formatting tips. I will apply them to the script either after I complete the draft of the second episode, or when I get writer’s block (whichever comes first). I don’t know if I’m completely satisfied with this. Because, well, in my mind I can always do more or better. Where I’m at right now, though, is that I’m hella excited to be on the draft of the second episode. This also means I wrote 15 pages over break – five more than I said I would. #goodvibes


Moving

Wanted to post. Made some progress this week. Hoping to be done with a solid draft of the first episode by tomorrow. Honestly, I sat home and realized I wasn’t getting enough done. So, I drove over to a Barnes and Noble by me. Although I only had about two hours of time there, I treated it as if it were crunch time. I felt good about it, and set myself up with a spot to continue the next scene.

I think this helped me with my writing. Before, I was always on a mission to end the scene. This time, whenever I decided to take a break from writing, I either wrote down the location of the next scene ,or added direction so I knew where it headed. This made it easier to come back and pick up where I left off.

Spoke to my friend (mentioned this to Dr. Z) about looking over my pilot. He’s super awesome, and also just so happens to have a film degree. He offered to look over my formatting and give me suggestions to keep the story fresh and moving smoothly. I told him I’d send in the first episode in full by tomorrow. I think I’m heading towards a better place with my thesis work. More to tell, though after this week. Stay tuned…


Last Night

OK, I think I need to get this off my chest. As my classmates know I’ve been in kind of a funk lately when it comes to all of this. Which, if there was a time to be in a funk, I guess this isn’t the absolute worst time. Then again, it’s not the best time either. The due date is just lingering above my head.

So aside from the fact that I’ve been down and stressed, it seems like whenever I take one step forward I’m taking five backwards. It’s almost annoying. Like, I’ll give myself time to relax and/or vent if need be. Then when I feel I can be good on my feet again, I get knocked right off. But, I mean, that’s life, eh?

INFO REMOVED FROM BLOG.

I literally went to bed thinking what the hell am I doing? and why the hell am I doing this? 

Today, I thought about it a little more, and I’m caught somewhere in the middle: part of me is still angered by it, while the other part of me wants to use it as fuel to the fire for writing. I obviously know what side I want to be on, and I’m working on getting there. I just feel like this whole thing came out of left field. I went to bed so aggravated. Maybe I just need some time to cool off and figure it out. Time is not on my side…


Stuff I Forgot

So after talking tonight, I realized that I had a whole lot of information that I totally forgot to post. I guess you could say I forgot because I didn’t write it down… Bad joke, sorry.

I feel I should mention that I began wiping off the film cobwebs. I started doing some research in filming. I looked up some shot and angle names I could coordinate into the direction of the pilot. I think this will allow the reader to have a better idea of how the scenes will look once filmed. Also, this helps show where the intensity and focus should be. (because I’ll eventually run out of room for direction). Also also, for the sake of communicating, this helps the director and actors reading the script. I know, I know… I’m jumping ahead.

I was ridiculously nervous to have everyone read my scene tonight. Because, well, the first draft is always crap. I just wanna get super sappy for a second and say that tonight meant so much to me. The fact that everyone took the time to read through my scene (even though it was only three pages), made me feel like I’m doing some real stuff here. It didn’t really feel real until tonight. So thanks, for making me and my writing feel real.

Finally, Dr. Z requested two scenes for next week. Depending on how crazy things get, I hope to have them both completed. However, if things get crazy, I may only have one. I don’t expect us to read through everything though. I know that everyone has a whole bunch of things to do. But, I’m just going to sit here and pretend we are, because it will light a fire under my bottom. My bottom need to be on fire until I graduate.

I hope to post another blog about the process soon.


Scene Queen

Well, not really… But I’m just happy I was finally able to begin the painful process of starting to write again. Also, this piece may be garbage (just like the cold open). I don’t think I care too much though. It’s my garbage. It doesn’t have to be garbage forever. But for now it’s garbage and it’s mine, and it’s done.

I thought a while about what random scene to write, and then just became inspired by continuing the story. It doesn’t have to stay where it is but I like it there for now. It would also make sense adding this scene at the end of the pilot. I had a vague idea of how I wanted to continue the story.

My improv skills kind of helped me. Whenever I got stuck, I remembered that “action moves the story forward.” – every improv teacher. ever. When I was stuck, I thought about how the characters could get in trouble. Getting in and out of trouble is something I’ve notice rather consistent in storytelling.


Plot Twisted.

This blog is for last week (i’m a bit behind in updating this).

So last week, I reached a point of another mild panic attack. I realized that I’m plotless. I have an idea but I haven’t figured out exactly where I’m going to take it. I feel like, there’s a lot of work, research, time, and effort put into the idea of this. I want the pilot to reflect this work.

I don’t want to fall into traps of a basic, or plain, or boring, or it’s been done so many times before plot line. I also think I’m focusing too much on the bigger picture here. Matt said something awesome that kind of made me realize something. No one expects me to get it right the first time. It’s going to be a work in progress. Like, duh, Stina. So perfectionism has gone out the window. Here’s to starting out with rubbish!

I plan to post a blog before our class Thursday with more of my updates I wanted to get last week’s blog out of the way with all of my issues first. More updates to follow.


The Sprint Round 1

This blog will discuss my first go around trying the sprint exercise.

Below is my first attempt at fulfilling one of the exercises from my last blog. Everything written is almost verbatim (with the exception of a few misspellings) from my hand written journal. I will leave all of my comments below my attempt.

* * *

I decided to start with a character first. I am focusing specifically on and African American character in the pilot. I think the idea I have now for his background story (that will slowly be revealed over time) is for him to be adopted by a Hispanic family. I plan for him to have all of the cultures and background of this Hispanic family. After I thought about it a little, I was trying to think of why exactly he would be adopted. Like maybe it could be because of bad parenting, or maybe it could be due to a natural disaster like something happened and killed his parents. He could be found by this hispanic family (though this style a little fairy tale to me). I was also thinking it could be because of violence from one of the parents. Maybe one of the parents is an abusive and angry alcoholic or maybe one parent is involved in a gang. Well, now that I think about it, if one parent was involved, then both would probably be. So, maybe that won’t work.

But as far as his characteristics, I want this person to be a male (I’m pretty sure). He will be able to fully speak Spanish. I also (this is a side note) haven’t decided where exactly his culture is from. One thing I’m certain of – well, as of now – is that I want him to be Latino as well as Hispanic. I want some of his clothes to represent the soccer team from his family. Soccer will be this character’s escape from reality.

He will become so immersed in the game that most of his surroundings will disappear. His worries too. If conflict is big enough to effect his soccer concentration, then this character has a huge problem on his hands. Because that means his outer conflict has become his inner conflict and will slowly start to eat at him.

I also want him to have a small value of faith. I think his family will have a much stronger faith due to the fact that it’s been a huge part of their culture. For this character though, he allows the idea of his parents leaving him to halt his relationship with God and at many times despises God for it.

 * * *

Originally, I started with the idea of only writing for two minutes. I owned this. I just kept adding and adding time until a reached 15 minutes of nonstop writing. I guess I didn’t give myself enough credit. This was fairly easy. Next time I will shoot for 20 minutes and go from there.

Regarding the content, I think I found myself predicting too much. After I look back on all of it, I see that I have some preconceived notions. For example I immediately go for a love of soccer and a faith. Although I have seen these characteristics active in hispanic countries, and friends from my undergrad program, I notice that I don’t select a specific area. I feel like I’m assuming. I will state that I don’t have this feeling when I am initially writing this. In fact, I may be overanalyzing, as I tend to do. These are my post-writing thoughts. They can change over time when I look back at this again. They can not. Either way, I think it’s worth noting.


Writing Exercises

This blog will discuss different ideas I brainstormed in hope to- well… brainstorm. 

I thought about writing both the actual thesis-screenplay while simultaneously doing research. Oy. Doable? Absolutely. Still, oy.

Thinking about this process, as a whole, is extremely overwhelming. Whenever I have big projects that need to be completed, I like to start small. I like to chip away at the bigger picture with a bunch of smaller ones. One at a time. I now have a couple exercises to keep that wheel turning, or the ball rolling, or whatever.

At the end of the day, writing (at least for me) is like running. I can’t run a marathon without training and exercising. Since I enjoy working out as much as I love writing, these exercises have actual exercise names. Because, hey, why not?

Exercise 1: The Sprint

Just like on the treadmill. I’ll start small, and work my way up. However, unlike the treadmill, I won’t start sprinting for two minutes straight. This is what I plan to do in this exercise. I want pick a place or character or theme for the pilot, and just write for two minutes straight. The first few rounds don’t have to be on topic. My pen just isn’t allowed to stop. (I should say, I think it’s better to use pen and paper for this. I tend to stop a lot when I type, and proofread after every sentence. Pen and paper, not so much. I guess that’s part of the magic.) Eventually I’d like to build up to 20 or 30 minutes straight while remaining on topic. The on topic part I imagine will be a little tough. One thing always leads to another and another and another. I’ll be sure to ice after this one…

Exercise 2: Stations

Similar to the treadmill, this exercise will be timed. However, instead of switching from pushups to squats, I’ll switch from character to character to location to time zone etc. I think I will start smaller with these. My improv skills may prove most effective here. I will just write down whatever comes to mind. I’m sure not everything will work. In fact, some of it may seem just right outlandish. After I go through the stations I set up, I plan to look back at my results. I suppose my next statement will serve as a hypothesis for this: I imagine that some of the things I write down will seem normal to me at the time. However when I look back, I imagine I will begin to notice my immediate responses to certain characteristics to different cultures might be ignorant, sound uncultured or unworldly. I don’t usually find myself in this place, but kind of how some people experience foot in mouth moments. I’m nervous to see the results, but it’s all part of the process. I think I’ve come to the realization that I need to grow together with my thesis.

I’ll be sure to type up my results with reflections for blog posts.