Well, I’m still confused. My Google Page Rank at DigitalProducerGuy.com was a zero. It’s a brand new blog, so that makes sense. But today it’s a 2.
Which is great and all, but I haven’t done anything yet. I’m writing this post, still behind the wall of maintenance mode. But WeWriteFunny, which has dozens of keyword-rich posts, still has a PageRank of 1.
Revised version of a posting originally from
May 8, 2007.
Sometimes the title of a post speaks for itself. Here are my thoughts about some of the worst changes to Television over the last 25 years or so.
#10. Inescapable commercials
Commercials are going to be a theme for this list. We’ll start with the fact that they now bleed into the shows themselves. You do your duty and watch your two minutes of messages from our sponsors. But now the advertising bleeds into the actual content. It’s harmless enough that the network pops their logo onto the lower right corner. Heck, it’s actually almost helpful when you’re channel surfing. Not helpful? The motion graphic ads overlaying the bottom third of your screen telling you five or six times during your show about how you should watch some other show. I’m already doing what you want, watching your network, is that not enough for you any more? (A fantastic parody arose, back when Joe Millionaire was frequently chased across the bottom of the screen by money-grubbing female suitors. The Simpsons did their own, animated version of the ad, with Homer distracted by the intrusion.)
#9. Closing credits… with MORE commercials
Look, somebody made that entertainment you’re watching, for free. Time was, a comfortable theme song outro would usher out the show, and the mother each contributor to the production would get a split second of screen time pride. Instead, the credits now rush by, accelerated to a barely legible pace, squished into the half of the screen not being occupied by yet another commercial. Heaven forfend the viewer get up and pee before s/he’s hooked into the next show, or at least treated to a seventeenth reminder of what will be playing later that night.
#8. “Supersizing” and off-hour programming
At first it seemed like an actual bonus. Networks were offering extra minutes of your favorite shows. What could be better? But soon, especially in combination with shows that run just a couple minutes late, it’s clear that the networks’ true motivation is to trap us into staying for their other shows. Last week, thanks to supersizing and an E.R. wedding event, Scrubs was on from like 9:18 to 9:57. Sunday, the DVR wouldn’t let me record Entourage at 10 because my housemate’s recording of Desperate Housewives runs until 10:02. Come on, networks. Give us a break, and go back to fitting it into a grid.
#7. “For Ordering Information…”
This one is more a problem of the cable and satellite companies than of Television itself, but it proves an annoyance to my viewing experience, so I’m including it. When I sign up for TV, and I get a hundred channels, or whatever, I want THOSE channels. I don’t want to see a blank screen accounting for each channel I DON’T get, encouraging me to dial an 800 number so that I will get it. Plus, empty call-to-order screens are no longer isolated to the 600 and 700 tiers, as they once were. Now there are channels I don’t get randomly littered throughout my Time-Warner offering. When I want to surf, I want to surf, and all the boxing pay-per-views and Latin Disney channels get in the way of that.
Continue reading “Top 10 Problems with Television” »
When learning the art of screenwriting, you’ll hear about the big essential ingredients: Character, Structure, Arc. But there’s a mechanical aspect that an experienced screenwriter will keep in mind as well, because one can do all those most important things correctly, but still fail to impress a reader. To avoid making a bad first impression, pay attention also to your screenplay’s Flow.
By Flow, I mean feeling of a natural pull down the page, the desire at the end of each page to turn to the next, and the lack of obstacles to an “easy read.”
I seem to have been giving the same note at the Brevity table lately (and the Brevity writers are all both talented and experienced), so I thought I’d share. It’s easy, in your first draft, to want to mention every instance of actions that intercut with dialouge. For example:
INT. BEATNICK BAR -- NIGHT
TREVOR, dressed head-to-toe in black, bangs a bongo and recites a poem.
The woman I once held so dear.
He sets a rhythm with the bongo.
She used to bring me warmth and cheer.
Now the bongo just emphasizes the end of each line.
We lived together for a year.
But now, whenever she is near
Bongo. Bongo. Bongo.
It’s like a pencil in my ear.
Continue reading “A simple trick to help your screenplay FLOW” »
I never do fart humor.
I just don’t find the scatological to be funny.
However, I just spent about the last hour perfecting the timing of fart sound effects for the sketch screencapped above. Perhaps the fact that it’s 3 a.m. is a factor, but the fact is I’ve a guilty grin on my face. (P.S. In case you were wondering how best to make mouth noises sound like actual farts, the answer is a low-pass filter.)
Anyway, funny or not, the piece should go up to beyond brevity on July 21st, or you can see the series here in a YouTube playlist.
I work on SEO stuff a lot. Yep, it’s an entire discipline on top of creating content, but it’s likely justified time. No audience, no point making content. And all my techniques are white-hat, as far as I know.
So it’s frustrating that Google changes its priorities at a whim, and keep them secret. I got SLAMMED in the latest update, and I have no idea why…
I haven’t been able to find any patterns. We were publishing every weekday to Beyond. WeWriteFunny hadn’t seen activity for a couple months, but then again, neither had ScreenwriterGuy.
I know PageRank isn’t the end-all, be-all, but in approaching potential advertisers for video product placement, a single number that wraps up the quality of the site would have been helpful. I liked it a lot better when my main property was a five. It’s now, evidently, 125 times less strong?
If anyone can offer clues, I’d appreciate it.
UPDATE: In late July, my scores readjusted again. Now my properties look like this:
new new PR
So I guess I’ve regained some of what was lost, but again without any explanation or understandable pattern. It’s times like these that I create stories in my head about people at Google doing all of this just to mess with me, personally.
Anyway, an interesting side note to all of this is how much faster the most recent update came. Uh… does that mean there’s another on the way next month?
Someone e-mailed brevityTV this morning with a pitch for feature film.
It felt weird. I had three reactions at once:
- Genuine sympathy that this guy thought he might get some forward progress on his feature script by including little-ol’ web video-making me in his mass email
- Annoyance that he hadn’t done his research more thoroughly.
- Dismay at how helpless some of the people I have reached out to might be to make my stuff.
But at the end of the day, I didn’t add him to some ongoing blacklist. I just pressed ‘delete.’
What do you think? Is there harm in the shotgun blast approach to personal marketing?
Take this 20-question quiz and find out the true depths of your screenwriting geekitude. Answers after the jump.
#1. The famous statement that, in Hollywood, “Nobody knows anything,” is from the book Adventures in the Screen Trade, authored by what screenwriter?
#2. If you registered a script with the WGA today, how many digits would there be in the registration number?
#3. What was the first feature screenplay from the scribe who later wrote Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind?
#4. Whose pen brought us the line, “You can’t handle the truth!”?
#5. Frank Darabout’s Shawshank Redemption and Raynold Gideon and Bruce Evans’ Stand by Me are both adaptations of novellas by what writer?
#6. Mario Puzo wrote the book The Godfather. Who wrote the screenplay?
#7. Which of these names does NOT belong on this list: Syd Field, Spike Jonze, Robert McKee, David Trottier?
#8. Who is responsible for the following poetry?
A red stain.
Then a smear of blood blossoms on his chest.
The fabric of his shirt is ripped apart.
A small head the size of a man’s fist pushes out.
The crew shouts in panic.
Leap back from the table.
The cat spits, bolts away.
The tiny head lunges forward.
Comes spurting out of Kane’s chest trailing a thick body.
Splatters fluids and blood in its wake.
Lands in the middle of the dishes and food.
Wriggles away while the crew scatters.
Then the Alien being disappears from sight.
Kane lies slumped in his chair.
A huge hole in his chest.
The dishes are scattered.
Food covered with blood.
#9. What scribe is the showrunner behind Grace Under Fire, Dharma and Greg, and Two and a Half Men?
Continue reading “How big a screenwriting geek are you?” »
I keep a notebook, like most writers, of all the different ideas I might want to use in various stories. Usually, it’s more like twelve notebooks, each holding a few, torn half-pages of panel programs, leftover snippets of previous notebooks, and likely a few napkins.
It’s worth doing, because you might not remember that cool idea once you’re next near a keyboard. But sometimes I find a scribbled note, now completely out of context, and I have NO IDEA what I was thinking at that time. It probably doesn’t help that I do the same stuff as a producer, in the same notebooks, so organizational notes get mixed in with inspirations. Here are some favorites I found recently:
Post: finding a spot by a river
What are your plans for today? I thought I might learn how to fly. I saw some bluejays doing it earlier, and it looked quite relaxing.
Wanna go look at the Barbies!
Five-year old Jules. Jules leaves job.
Destruction Fire Nature Wood
For the movie, drive-ins & cruising for them. Rented video for us, in the side rooms, with our parents there.
There’s a wizard under the tree, but he’s mostly interested in quarters.
Gold! Notebooks full of gold! I tell you what, if any of this inspires you, you can have it.
Sometimes writers confuse V.O. with O.S.
Off Screen (O.S.) indicates that the character speaking is present at the location, but not immediately where the scene is taking place. For example, a character speaking from the next room or outside the kitchen window might be labeled O.S. Do note that O.S. is NOT used direct which character in a scene is getting screen time.
Voice Over (V.O.) means the person speaking is NOT at the location. Narration is labeled as V.O. The other end of a phone call is V.O. (and not O.S., a common mistake.)
You get into grey area on something like a loudspeaker or an intercom. My guideline would be that if the characters in the present room could walk to the character speaking in about a minute, go with O.S. Otherwise, the speaker is not present, and it’s V.O.
The phone RINGS.
MAGGIE JONES, twenties, perky to the point of annoying, answers the phone.
Super MegaCorp. How may I help you?
Hi, Maggie, it’s Tom. Bosslady, please.
JENNIFER CHO, fifties, put together, files paperwork. The intercom BUZZES.
Ms. Cho, you have Tom on line one.
Thank you, Maggie.
Jenn. Tom. Is this a good time?
OK, boring scene, but you can see the formatting.
By the way, V.O. and O.S. are pretty much the only notes that should go in parentheses. Some writers (and screenwriting software) use CONT’D, short for ‘continued, Continue reading “Voice Over and Off Screen” »