“My Map of Chicago Doesn’t Help Me in Los Angeles, So There’s No Need for Me to Carry It Around.”

“My Map of Chicago Doesn’t Help Me in Los Angeles, So There’s No Need for Me to Carry It Around.”

The above headline is a direct quote from this article about Idea Debt by John Sexton.  That article is one of the writings referenced on John August’s podcast Scriptnotes (Episode 296).  The term “Idea Debt” actually comes from a Jessica Abel interview with Kazu Kibuishi …  After that interview, Jessica concluded:

Idea Debt is when you spend too much time picturing what a project is going to be like, too much time thinking about how awesome it will be to have this thing done and in the world, too much time imagining how cool you will look, how in demand you’ll be, how much money you’ll make. And way too little time actually making the thing.  If…

>  You tell 15 friends about your screenplay idea, but devote zero time in  your week to facing the blank screen.

> You buy a domain name, spend weeks or months researching and reading up on how to build a website, but you don’t actually install WordPress.

> You’ve got a drawer full of half-finished stories and novels and a to-do list item every week that reads, “work on writing.”

>You’ve read fifteen (15) free online guides to blogging, built three (3) editorial calendars, have notes on a dozen posts, but you haven’t gone live with your blog.

>You have “binders of lore” and no book.

…you’re living with serious Idea Debt.

After listening to the discussion, and reading these two pieces, I couldn’t quite figure out why, but I was ambivalent, to the topic.  To help me gather my thoughts, I asked one of my British writer friends, Tracy Shefras from Newport, Wales, United Kingdom, for hers.  Tracy responded:

Everyone is waiting for the perfect moment.  The perfect moment to tell someone something.  Something important.   Something that might change their world as they know it.  The courage it takes to man up to the moment, whether it is perfect or not, is all that’s needed.  For,  in short……


Last week’s topic of Idea Debt could be akin to The Karmic Wheel of Writers.    According to this Law, until the Karma is faced then there is no way to  move forward.  Each day will just be another opportunity to clog up the Wheel.  The answer surely must be to find an Idea with potential.  One that inspires, excites and wants to form a relationship.

Choices have to be made.  Take the plunge.  Get off the Wheel.

Like any process some things are just going to drop away.  In theory, if the Wheel is rotating efficiently, then the embracing of an idea,  one that might excite, will undoubtedly lead to the shedding of the back log.

May the Writer rest assured, in the knowledge, that all the ideas slipping away will have infused their essence into the Writer’s current project….if needs be!

The ideas are our teachers.  Let’s get onto the next lesson.  One that’s interesting and fresh enough to coax us into our refined status.

Change the Wheel to Will……


I hope you all read that in a British accent. In real life, Tracy sounds like Julie Andrews (and yet according to her, she says she laughs like Muttley).  Aural aspects aside, I agree with Tracy’s ALL CAPS thesis:  THERE IS NO PERFECT MOMENT.

Whenever I’m coaching people with their writing, I am constantly reminding them “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”  Good enough is good enough.  Inspirational speaker Christina Irene has this thematic life tenet “If you don’t do it now, you’re never going to do it.”

My coaching advice, considered through the prism of Tracy’s and Christina’s words, explain my ambivalence towards Idea Debt.  I don’t have it.  If the idea is not good enough to write at that moment, I don’t hold onto it.  I do — at all times — keep an ongoing notebook of the next five things I am going to write.  If the new idea can’t be shoehorned into one of those five future projects, I let it go.  I’ve got enough current great ideas to keep me going — why bother letting some half-baked half-hearted attempt at half an idea simmer for a while longer?  My notebook of the next five future projects has tentative start and completion dates for each one.  There is simply just no time for some average so-so idea.  You can’t stop an average idea from landing in your brain, but you absolutely can prevent it from nesting there.



Before I get sideway glances for touting another Seed & Spark project, let me just say that Rebekah Fieschi ‘s latest project, Sylphvania Grove, has already surpassed 169% of its goal.  Of course, more followers would be great (more followers = more benefits unlocked for the project) — but that’s not the purpose of my blog post this week.  My purpose is to introduce you Rebekah because she has the ability to change the way we see things, as well as the things we see.  I have no doubt she will do both.

Rebekah is an advocate of fair gender representation in filmmaking.  In fact, let me let her tell you in her own words:

“I do not want to be a female filmmaker, I just want to be a filmmaker but I have been thrust into a world in which women are not fairly represented so I’m proud to give nuanced voices to female characters and to be part of the group seeking to transform the industry.”  — Rebekah Fieschi


Rebekah Fieschi is a New York based writer/director from a tiny island in the south of France who makes peculiar fantasy and gothic horror films through her company Horromance Productions. Her most recent short, Mauvaises Têtes, is an award-winning reinvention of classic Hollywood horror films such as Frankenstein which was well received in film festivals around the world. Her focus is to bring more entertaining, yet layered, character driven gothic horror and fantasy films to the screen. Her career as a storyteller began as a small child, making up elaborate tales to tell her family and friends. This natural talent for make-believe and keen visual imagination, had by age eleven, led her to decide on a directing career. After studying filmmaking in Paris, Rebekah moved to New York in 2010.  Equally important, as I mentioned at the outset, she is also an advocate of fair gender representation in cinema.

In Sylphvania Grove, five of the six characters are female, including the ten-year-old lead, Mycena.  Rebekah and her team want to help empower young girls and contribute to fair gender representation on screen, especially in the fantasy genre. Their writer/director and much of the crew are also women.


Rebekah explains the lack of female representation in fantasy by stating, “A big reason for the lack of female protagonists in fantasy films is that women are not being hired to direct big budget films and fantasy films typically require larger budgets.”  Rebekah wants to see that change.  She is doing her part to see that it does.
I asked Rebekah why she feels a focus on a young female protagonist is so important to the genre.  She told me:
I remember very strongly that as a kid I wanted to be like a boy and that I felt a sort of shame for being a girl, according to a study recently published in Science girls start believing they are less capable than boys by age six, even though their academic achievements are usually higher. Stories help construct our view of the world and historically in fairy tales, fantasy/adventure movies, books etc. the woman character (if there is one) either has to become a princess or find happiness/be rescued by prince charming or a knight in shining armor. I think it’s important that girls/women don’t have to think of themselves in relationship to boys/men, and that they can have a professional ambition other than becoming a princess. There’s no reason we can’t have female characters that behave the same ways as male characters in movies like The Never Ending Story and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial characters that make decisions and take actions to be in control of their own life. If I can identify with the likes Atreyu, Elliot, Frodo and Harry, I don’t see any reason why boys can’t also identify with girl heroes.
I agree with Rebekah completely, of course.  If you agree with us, put your fingers where your mouth is (ew!) and click over to the Sylphvania Grove page and follow it right now.
Help her get to 500 followers so Seed & Spark will unlock some cool assistance ($9000 worth) for this project.  You can watch a promo clip for it here.  Then watch this blog for excerpts of my upcoming interview with her.
Oh, one more thing,  Rebekah turned me on to this podcast:  PunchFarm Podcast.

I will be blogging about that podcast next.



PunchFarm is a group of friends who love movies, tacos and beer. I recently heard them for the first time (Thanks, Rebekah Fieschi!), and thought, these fun people could be my friends.

They love moves.  I love movies.  They love tacos.  I love tacos.  They love beer.  I love movies.

Each week they watch a movie together and then record their thoughts and opinions about the film. They also discuss anything and everything. Horror movies, comic books and tacos are just a few of the topics they geek out on. They talk to filmmakers such as the aforementioned Rebekah Fieschi and P.J. Starks (a friend of my friend Amber Langton, a fine filmmaker in her own right).  Other recent guests have included Josh Hasty, director of In Hell Everybody Loves Popcorn, and Dynamo Marz, lead singer of The Deadites.

As many of you know, I always like to take a position on one of the topics discussed in each week’s podcast I review.  This week, I will be featuring Episode 39, the one which not coincidentally featured Rebekah Fieschi.

Rebekah on Punch Farm

In addition to the interview with Rebekah, the gang brings up several other topics, as usual.

So the position I want to take in this post, is a response to one of those other topics, and also is my answer to this question:

If you’re the Camera Operator, and one of the actors trips in a gopher hole, do you set down the camera and go help the actor — or do you keep the camera rolling, get the shot, and let someone else worry about him? At the one hour (01:00:00) mark, of Episode 39, our gang discuss that very happening during the shooting of their short film Chompy: Attack of the Fishman. 

My answer is this:

I contend you set down the camera.  Especially if you can run and warn him before he hit the ground, you set down the camera.  Sure the safety meeting is the job of the 1AD — but everybody is responsible to keep their eyes open for safety concerns on the set.

Triggered by this discussion, I emailed a former film professor of mine, and asked him the same question.  He said “I don’t know if I would stop filming, but I would definitely say something before they stepped in it.”  I had another discussion with a peer, who took it one step (pun intended) further.  He asked “Can a Camera Op really stop filming at all if the director never yells ‘Cut’?”  Good question.

Anyway, thanks PunchFarm Podcast for spurring on this discussion!  Before I went to press with this blog post, I shot off an email to Mark Scheetz because I wondered from where the PunchFarm name originated.  Mark replied immediately:  “Years ago we made a few short films and thought it would be fun to have our own “production company” so we just made that name up. That silly name worked well with the silly shorts we made. One short was about a misunderstood fish-man, Chompy. And “Chompy” is part of our podcast logo.”

Way to bring the gopher hole story and the name origin story full-circle, Mark!  I couldn’t have done it better myself.

ADDENDUM:  Here’s a quick glimpse at the PunchFarm gang…




It’s a podcast, people!!!

As you know, among other things, every week here, I blog about at least one podcast.  Usually it is about an episode of screenwriter John August’s Scriptnotes.  But today, I want to tell you about a brand new podcast I discovered this month.  (Thanks to the women of TeamRAD who put this on my radar.)  In fact, it’s only been around for a month.  New episodes air every Tuesday, so if you start right now, you can get caught up on the back episodes — and it is worth your time to do so.  So, without further ado, Ladies and Gentlemen, direct your attention to:

HAGS Podcast.

Who are the hosts of HAGS?  From their website:  “HAGS co-hosts Riley Rose Critchlow and Nicole Wyland met on the set of a hit web show and have been creating feminist content together ever since. In 2016, they co-produced a gender-bending parody series called Get Bent, which highlights the way women are portrayed in Hollywood by putting women in the men’s roles and vice versa.”  They have both worked in a variety of positions in the film industry.  More on them at the bottom. 

This week I want to talk about their second episode which centered on INTELLIGENCE.  They discuss, among other things, how intelligence is monetized and commoditized so that a women’s cleverness can be devalued.  The societal value applied to female intelligence is for the benefit of men.  A woman’s intelligence, they argue, is yet just another element of the “full package” making her more attractive to a man.  Rather than say, this education, or her inherent brightness, will serve her well in accomplishing her personal goal, or in serving our planet better, a woman’s intelligence is turned into a commodity for the benefit of the male gaze (well, the male gaze is done by the eyes, so whatever-a-male-brain-does-instead-of-gaze).   And I agree with Riley and Nicole completely — not that their positions need male validation, because they do not.


Nicole Wyland (left) and Riley Rose Critchlow (right).


I promised more information about these hilarious and insightful feminists.  Here it is, again from their website:


Riley grew up on a small island in Maine, moving to Los Angeles to pursue a BFA in Acting from USC’s School of Dramatic Arts. After graduating, Riley founded sketch comedy troupe Bowling for Tiffany, whose content caught the eye of Funny or Die, Tosh.0 and Discovery. Out of BFT, Riley and fellow comedian, Daniel Montgomery, formed comedy duo Mary-Kate and Ashtray. MKA recently performed at SF Sketchfest and has a pilot slated for completion later this year. Riley has appeared mostly as criminals on such television shows as Southland, Rizzoli & Isles and Marcia Clark’s pilot, Guilt By Association. She is also the lead of Julia Max’s film, Distortion, which is currently touring college campuses as a cornerstone of the Obama/Biden “It’s On Us” campaign to end sexual assault.


Nicole is an actress, writer, and vocalist.  A native of Eighty Four, Pennsylvania, Nicole received her degree in Theatre Arts from the University of Pittsburgh before moving to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film. She is known for viral videos like freddiew’s “Flower Warfare” which has over 15,000,000 views online. In addition to playing Moriarty on the critically acclaimed webseries Video Game High School,  Nicole writes and performs sketch comedy for her own YouTube channel.  Her parody Lady Gaga music video has been viewed over 12,000 times. Nicole also owns her own production company, Verdant Pine Productions, and is looking forward to producing her first feature later this year.

Next week, I will revisit this same episode, because I want to dig deeper into their discussion of the Jane test for scripts.  (Not the Bechdel test, the Jane test.)  What is the Jane test, and what do I think about it?  You’ll have to come back here next week!



Do or do not…there is no say.

I’m aware I am misquoting Yoda — but now that I have your attention, let me tell you how we got here.

I don’t use facebook for politics.  I don’t use it to tear people down.  I don’t even se it to “increase awareness” of a negative happening, no matter how atrocious.  Is the Syrian refugee crisis terrible?  Yes.  Does the interweb need my voice as the 1,000,001st voice crying over spilt milk?  No.  I’d rather take action than help “raise awareness” about an issue that has been in the headline for six years.  Taking action > More talk.

Actions speak louder than words.

I was recently smeared online for refusing to join an online campaign smearing, within a smear group’s bubble, someone else online for their non-attention to gender equality issues.  I agreed with the group’s position 100%.  I agreed the someone else, the offender, was wrong 100%.  I just knew that badmouthing the offender within this group’s smear bubble — a group that already hated him — was going to make absolutely zero difference.

So the group turned on me.  And the group’s leader insulted me personally, name called me, and threatened my family (which I really don’t have any here) — all because I wouldn’t share a facebook post.  The negativity of this group leader changed how many hearts?  When I explained that I had marched in solidarity for this cause, and contributed my hard earned money towards building bridges which could help right this wrong — that I had physically taken action and sought solutions to remedy the situation — my efforts were met with “So?  None of that matters if you won’t share my post.”

The reason I told that story is because it illustrates the point I verbalized in the headline:


The women from TeamRAD are doing just that with their Seed &Spark campaign for their Soiled Doves TV Pilot.  They are taking your money, and their money, and the matching donors’ money, and using it to make a difference when it comes to gender equality in Hollywood.  As I write this, there are about 12 hours left to the campaign, and they are at 83% of their goal.  Let’s put them over the top this morning.


There are several cool incentives remaining.  You can see them all here.

By the way this is where your money will go:

Go.  Do.  Make a difference.

This Week I Get To Write A Headline Which Uses These Three Words:  LADY BALLS RADIO

This Week I Get To Write A Headline Which Uses These Three Words: LADY BALLS RADIO

Lady Balls Nation‘s Coni Constantine is also the host of Lady Balls Radio, of course.  This week, in Episode 017, Coni interviews the women of TeamRAD Productions about their new project Soiled Doves, but equally important they talk about the importance of women’s storytelling, and the future of female filmmaking.

It all started on a bench…  In a park…

Team RAD’s members, Rebecca Holopter, Verity Butler, and Darby Kennerly explain why they went beyond the typical female stereotypes when they were writing their supernatural 1800s Western TV pilot Soiled Doves.

As a screenwriter myself, I particularly was interested in their decision to make it a pilot for the teevee, as opposed to a feature film.  It seems like I have this debate literally almost at least once a week with my peers:  is this script or that script a potential series or a feature?

The women of Team RAD have been asked that same question frequently, “Why not make Soiled Doves a feature?”  Their answer is great for anyone having a similar debate:

“Our show is very much centered on character development…and more of a slow burn…rather than the quick pace of a film  And especially, with understanding the women, giving the audience time to know them…television is definitely more of the platform that will help tell the women’s stories.”

Succinctly put, Team RAD!

As someone who, more often than not, writes scripts with a strong female lead surrounded by multiple female supporting characters, I wholeheartedly agree with this assessment of the medium.  If you’re writing something heavy in rich female characters, you owe it to your audience to spend some time with those characters.  Only television can give your story the proper space it needs.

Coni goes on to lead the women producers in a variety of directions throughout the course of the interview.  They discuss everything from the two conflicting sides of nature, Shoshone tribal lore, and the future of female filmmaking (it’s bright).  It’s a great podcast, with a great name, deserving of your time.

Why We All Matter

Why We All Matter

So last Friday, at 9:00pm, I got involved.

Through a mutual facebook friend (Pamela Daly, this means you), I discovered a campaign on Seed & Spark for Soiled Doves, a soon-to-be-shot pilot for the teevee.  Soiled Doves is a gritty female-centric Western with supernatural undertones.  It is also the lovechild of TeamRAD Productions.  More on them in a bit.

What separates this project from the thousands of others that are in the works all over this country at this very moment?  Let’s let TeamRAD answer that for you (from their Seed & Spark campaign):

Unlike most Westerns, our story is written by 3 women about 3 women. But we don’t stop there. Women will also be in the limelight behind the camera. Our pilot will be Directed and Produced by women, and we are committed to filling crew positions with many uber-talented ladies!


Those of you that know me, or follow this blog, see why I was immediately all-in on Soiled Doves.  If you’d like to see how all-in I was on Friday night, check out the comments under this post.

What happened was that Pamela made a cursory mention of the project needing to hit 500 followers on Seed & Spark –if they could, they had a matching donor who was willing to match the contributions made by the public up to a certain amount.  And what did that mean to TeamRAD?

Rebecca Holopter, one of the co-founders of TeamRAD Productions, explains it like this:

Hitting 500 followers on our Seed & Spark page means important meetings with PR, production companies and rental discounts. It means we received a $9,000 donation that goes straight to our pilot budget. Most importantly, it means we have 500 people who support us and want to see Soiled Doves come to life.

So, now that I’ve mentioned Rebecca’s name, let’s meet the whole TeamRAD (again, from their Seed & Spark campaign):

Verity Butler is a co-founder of TeamRAD Productions, originating from Houston, Texas. This blonde beauty can be seen asking for help in Clint’s Eastwood’s Sully and is an octopus lover.

Rebecca Holopter is a co-founder of TeamRAD Productions, hailing from Springfield, Missouri. This auburn artist starred in a film that Martin Landau vigorously clapped for, and she loves squirrels.

Darby Kennerly is a co-founder of TeamRAD Productions, hailing from Indianapolis, Indiana. This raven rascal can be heard hi-yah-ing across the Korean video game world and is a zebra fanatic.

In addition to that strong core, the Soiled Doves project also has:

Director, Lauren Tracy is the co-founder of Blue Fever Films, a streaming platform for the best video content focused on women. That’s right, she started a dang Netflix for women!  Check it out, https://www.bluefevr.com.  She was a former feature film editor, Lionsgate ‘Storytellers: New Voices of the Twilight Saga’ finalist, worked with NYU, Avid and briefly with the amazing Academy Award winning director Kathryn Bigelow (THE HURT LOCKER, ZERO DARK THIRTY) to bring financial award to female filmmakers.   She’s written and directed short films and music videos, and her feature film screenplay SWEET DESERT PALM was a Big Vision Empty Wallet 2015 Lab finalist.

Producer, Kristen Murtha is both a Producer and Production Manager with a Boston heart and a Hollywood mind. Her work has been seen by audiences on large and small screens around the globe, receiving recognition at over fifty film festivals as well as millions of views online. Kristen’s projects span all mediums: short film, branded content, music video, web series, television pilot, feature narrative, documentary and animated film. Her passions are compelling stories and unique experiences. Check out her website http://www.kristenmurtha.com.

The quickest and cleanest way to learn all about the project is to just go directly here:   www.teamRADtrain.com.

Now, getting back to Friday night, prior to that night, other than with Pamela, I hadn’t communicated with any of these women ever in my entire life.  However, I know the key to successful social media is to organically reach out to actual real people — and then to do so consistently.  I knew I had a core group of followers who would help me help TeamRAD if I got the word out.

And so I did.

And they did.

And you did.

And Pamela reached out to a handful of others.  And Rebecca, and Verity, and Darbs did too.  And together, we all, you all, got it done.  Pamela said it felt like waiting for the ball to drop on New Year’s Eve — and it really did.   We all took turn hitting REFRESH as we watched the tally inch from 480 towards 500.   495, 496, 497, and so on…

In a little over 2 hours, we hit and surpassed 500.  And people kept sharing, throughout the night.  Not only did we cover every time zone in the US, we had shares in Vancouver, Norwich, and London.

The next morning, Rebecca reached back out to me, and what she said to me, I will in return say to all of you:  “Thanks again for all your help!!!! You brought a lot of excitement to reaching that 500 goal!!!”


UPDATE:  I’ll post a little more about at the beginning of next week, but they have now officially entered the final week of their campaign.  They are currently up to 530 followers on Seed & Spark as I write this.  Here’s that link again if you want to join TeamRAD on their journey.