Bri Castellini: How To GET FIT While Making Your Indie Film – @brisworld

by Bri Castellini

Hey you. Yeah, you. The sleep-deprived indie filmmaker who just tried to film 25 script pages in a single day. Things seem bleak, but there’s a silver lining to this whole mess of a process- you could be making your passion project AND getting fit at the same time!

Here’s how!

  1. Don’t eat on set. You don’t have time to stop working anyways!
  2. Insist on setting up all the equipment alone. It’s your project, after all, and people will judge you if you aren’t doing enough to help out.
  3. Take public transportation to and from every shoot. Nothing says “FITNESS” like carrying a 50 pound lighting kit up and down subway stairs while balancing a costume bag on your head.
  4. Only write walk and talk scenes. Not only will this filming style keep the energy up in a scene, but you’ll get to 10,000 steps on your FitBit NO PROBLEM!
  5. Stare into the void. The void doesn’t care that you’re hungry or tired and will offer no sympathy, so you may as well get over it.
  6. Offer actors piggy-back rides to and from holding. Your cast will appreciate the break, plus you’ll really tone those glutes.
  7. Have all of your equipment with you all the time. Sure, it’s inconvenient to drag your lighting kit to the park when there’s nowhere to plug in, but you never know, and your biceps have never looked better!
  8. If you MUST eat on set, only eat fruit snacks. Fruit is good for you.
  9. Buy costumes one size too small for yourself. Nothing says “thinspiration” like constant discomfort and self-loathing!
  10. Always be working. Done with one project? Start another! If you’re a workaholic, you can’t ALSO be a chocoholic! #Logic #Paleo

What are YOUR Get Fit Tips for indie filmmakers? Tell me in the comments!

Bri Castellini is an indie filmmaker and Community Liaison at Stareable, our favorite web series hub. This article was originally published on her blog! Watch Bri’s award-winning web series, BrainsHERE!

David Perlis: COVER LETTER TIME – Yikes!!!


Who needs a button when we have ourselves?

by David Perlis

Last week I applied for a position at BOOM! Studios. Here is my cover letter:

Dear F K,

Five months ago I moved to Los Angeles to pursue writing for comics/cartoons. It must be my Sagittarius good fortune, then, that not one hour after leaving my job selling T-Mobile plans (a profession with all the creativity and warmth of a North Korean glue factory), I stumbled upon your ad for the open assistant position.

Not only has my six-year-old love for comics continued well into my adult life, I have several years experience with database management, document design, and working with teams in project management. However, seeing that your ad was posted nearly three weeks ago, I know that I am behind in getting my application to you. To save time, the following has been pasted from my OkCupid profile, and adjusted as necessary:

Hello, ladiiiiiiiies esteemed managers and directors of BOOM! Studios,

I am looking for someone who is both down-to-earth and passionate fast-paced work in a creative environment. I studied creative writing in school, and now spend my days drinking coffee and thinking about plot structure calculating how to best use my expertise in proofreading and organization to further grow BOOM! I don’t eat meat office supplies, but if you do, that’s no problem. To each their own, I always say.

I believe the best book I ever read was Kafka on the Shore, and now I want to go to Japan.  bring the same flair for creativity and ingenuity to BOOM! that Murakami incorporates in his writing. I also loved Ed Catmull’s Creativity Inc. If you’ve not read it, I will bring my copy to my interview.

I’ve never lived in a quiet mountain town, but boy do I like the idea. been late to work.

For the past few years I’ve worked in administration at charter schools, while writing my own cartoons on the side. I also read math and economics textbooks. Yes—I’m serious, and yes—I’m that guy.

But I know what you’re thinking: Why should you date hire me? For starters, I always tuck my shirts in, and trim my nose hairs refill the paper when the copy machine runs out. This is just one example of my proactive attitude. Furthermore, I make great pies use of the Google drive system, which I believe strengthens communications, collaborations, and overall team workflow.

I begin my days with Renee Montagne, Steve Inskeep, and David Greene by asking not what BOOM! can do for me, but what I can do for BOOM!. I end them with bebop and new age Pandora stations a review of my day’s performance, and a plan for my next day. If you contact my references, I am certain they will support these claims. And if I had a million dollars, I’d spend my days driving across the country and blogging about every cafe or used book store I could find. I would also buy one of those things that lets you play your phone through your car speaker, so I could finally appreciate my This American Life app to its full extent. And I believe that sometimes there’s nothing better than eating a piece of pie in the middle of the night at Mels Diner, and contemplating the life and the universe, and wondering what the next cool Lego set will be.

I love peaches updating spreadsheets.

I loathe Donald Trump.

I look forward to speaking more with you soon, and learning how I can best contribute to the growth and success of your company.

Most sincerely,

David Perlis

BOOM! Studios has yet to contact me.

NOTE FROM MUNCHMAN: Keep up the great work, David. You’re an inspiration to TVWriter™ minions everywhere!

David Perlis is a screenwriter and former People’s Pilot Finalist doing his best to break into the even Bigger Time. This post first appeared on his very helpful blog.

John Ostrander: Should This Man Be Considered A Role Model?

by John Ostrander

“I am myself indifferent honest, but yet I could accuse me of such things that it were better my mother had not borne me.”

—Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1

Joss Whedon created Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and is credited with writing strong female roles and espousing feminist ideals – but not by his ex-wife, Kai Cole, who on the blog The Wrap accused him of being a serial cheater during their marriage and was a “hypocrite preaching feminist ideals.” This has led to a number of (now ex) fans venting their anger and feelings of betrayal.

Is it true? I dunno. I don’t know Whedon and Cole personally. Could she be lying? Possibly. Could he be an asshole? Possibly. It’s not the point of this column, however. The question I want to consider is – should Whedon, or any artist or celebrity, be considered a role model?

A role model is someone who is held up as an example to be emulated. They can come from any walk of life; indeed, they don’t have to be living or real. Isn’t Superman a role model? Sherlock Holmes? Wonder Woman?

Barack Obama is a role model to many, although probably not to those who think of Donald Trump as a role model (shudder).

Charles Barkley once famously said, “I’m not a role model… Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.” He caught a lot of flak for that at the time but I tend to agree. The work can and must exist apart from its creator. Edgar Allan Poe was a drug addict. Picasso had multiple mistresses. Wonder Woman’s creator, William Moulton Marston, lived with both his wife and a lover in the same house. Bill Cosby was a role model and look at how that turned out.

Who should be role models? Parents, siblings, family, teachers – anyone who has a direct and actual effect on the child’s life.

I once had my character GrimJack shoot a character in the back, an act that offended some fans including some that were my friends. My defense was that I never said Gaunt was a role model. He wasn’t; he was an anti-hero from the get-go.

Who the creator is goes into the work but, if it has substance, the work can and must stand apart from the creator. The two ultimately must be judged separately.

As Barkley’s quote above suggests, many who are called role models never sought that job. Perhaps it just comes with the territory. Barkley, like others, made his name into a “brand”; he made the Nike commercial where he gave that quote because it was perceived that he had influence with the buying public. Perhaps being a role model is part of the price for the individual.

Maybe the complaint with Whedon is that he sought to be seen as a feminist. He gave a speech to a women’s rights group, Equality Now, on receiving an award from them, and in it he noted that reporters would ask him why he insisted on writing “strong female characters”. He would reply, “Why aren’t you asking a hundred other guys why they don’t write strong women characters? I believe that what I’m doing should not be remarked upon, let alone honored.”

Given how he treated his wife, does that make him a hypocrite? Or could he be sincere in his feelings even while he is cheating? Isn’t what he said still true? Does it have to be all one thing or the other? In characters that I write, I look for opposites because that’s where I find true character lies.

As I said, I don’t know Whedon or Ms. Cole personally. Based on what she has said, will I stop going to see his films or enjoy Buffy or Firefly? No. The work is the work and stands on its own.

Even if the creator is a SOB

John Ostrander is one of LB’s favorite writers in any medium. Don’t forget to read his most excellent blog at ComicMix, where this piece first appeared. You can learn more about John and his masterworks HERE

Herbie J Pilato Remembers Richard Anderson – The Bionic Boss

by Herbie J Pilato

It was all style and all substance for actor Richard Anderson, who passed away from natural causes at age 91 on August 31, 2017.

When Anderson delivered a line, you believed him; it was like you were in the room with him, and not watching from any distance one of his countless performances on television, the big screen, or the stage.

Best known to TV viewers as Oscar Goldman, the government supervising official for the O.S.I. (“Office of Strategic Intelligence” – a.k.a. “Information”) on The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman, Anderson’s staple role on those two sci-fi superhero series of the ‘70s became signature for several reasons.

It is Anderson’s distinctive voice heard in the now-legendary narrative of the opening credit sequences for Man with the pulsating phrasing accented by the show’s heart-beat medical sound effects: “A man barely alive…we have the technology.  We can rebuild him…make it stronger…faster…better.”

Lee Majors played that man, Col. Steve Austin, an astronaut turned test-pilot whose body is shattered in a near-fatal accident, and then rebuilt into a secret service cyborg (the latter word of which was the title of Martin Caidin’s original sci-fi novel that spawned the series).

Lindsay Wagner portrayed former-tennis pro Jaime Sommers, a first love to Austin who is injured in a sky-diving accident.  She, too, like Austin, is rebuilt – under Goldman’s watchful eye and budget (her parts were smaller, clocking in at $5 million).

Both Man and Woman were born and originally aired on ABC, but when the latter switched to NBC in its third and final season, Anderson benchmarked his performance as one of the first actors to play the same character on two different shows on two opposing networks.

Although his performance as Goldman was consistent on both shows, Anderson delivered a twin but unique interpretation of the character opposite Austin and Sommers.

Goldman was the protective older brother-type boss in each case, but alongside Majors as Austin it was more business than casual as when appearing next to Wagner as Sommers.  Minus any sexist stigma, Oscar referred to Steve as his “Pal,” and Jaime as “Babe,” and all was well, and safe and good in the Bionic world.

Today, the “Babe” reference in some circles may be considered politically incorrect, but according to what Anderson relayed in The Bionic Book, during Woman’s initial reign, “Oscar was attaching it to a person for whom he cared a great deal.”

As Anderson further explained of the bionic dichotomy between Man and Woman, “When we did Six Mill, we concentrated on the Washington scene.  It was more of a straight adventure show.

The Bionic Woman did more emotional stories.  It was funnier, looser [than Six] because Lindsay has a relaxed, humorous quality. Jaime allowed me to add some colors.  Oscar was firm and brotherly with Steve, and had to constantly reestablish that he, not Steve, was the boss.  With Jaime, he was lenient and fatherly, almost overly protective, and only argued with her out of concern for her health and safety.”

Producer/director Kenneth Johnson, who guided both shows (and created Woman), remembered when he first saw Anderson playing Oscar on the Man set.  The actor was sunning himself with an aluminum reflector, off-stage, looking somewhat austere.

“I didn’t know really what he was going to be like,” Johnson admitted.  “Then I walked past him, and he said, ‘You’re Kenny, aren’t you.  I just want to tell you big guy, that you write really great love stories.  Why can’t you write one for me.  Why can’t I be in love with The Bionic Woman?'”

From that point on, Johnson was on to Anderson’s humor, and the two became “very good friends.”

But what about the assumption by some fans of both shows that Oscar was in love with Jaime?

“I won’t try to hide behind that,” Anderson mused.  “I think he was in love with her, and I tried to convey that in very subtle ways.  He couldn’t help himself.”  [As with the wedding scene in the 1994’s TV-reunion movie, Bionic Ever After, when a smile momentarily disappears from Oscar’s face as if ultimately realizes that Steve is the one who finally weds Jaime.]

As to Anderson’s twin-performance as Goldman, he says, ABC was initially apprehensive about having him appear on Woman when the show switched to NBC in the fall of 1978.  ABC didn’t want their advertisers to move any of their accounts over to the newly-ordained NBC edition of Woman on a rival network.

“They didn’t like that idea at all,” Anderson said.  “In fact, they tried kill it.  They were quite adamant about it, and made a big deal.  They didn’t want me appearing on the competition in any manner, much less one of their own born and bred characters.”

Frank Price, the executive for Universal Studio, proprietor of both series, then stepped up to the plate for Anderson, believing that the role of Oscar was intrinsically pertinent to both shows.

In the end, Anderson stayed put on both networks and both shows, an experience he described in total as “enjoyable.”

“It was a very happy time, and a unique experience,” he explained.  “I had the chance to play a very respectable character, who was involved privately and on a business level with two very special people.  As Steve and Jaime grew and developed, Oscar did as well.”

Bionic writer/producer Arthur Rowe (father to actress Misty Rowe) praised Anderson’s performance as “Oscar-winning.” He liked working with the actor and later employed him on Fantasy Island, on which Rowe served as supervising producer.

“Richard is an extremely decent individual,” Rowe intoned.  “He played Oscar about as perfect as the character could be played.  You had the ultimate head of this secret government organization who, despite his heady position, expressed sympathy in his dealings with Steve and Jaime.”

Anderson’s performance legacy, however, extends beyond his Bionic brood.

Born Richard Norman Anderson on August 8, 1926 in New Jersey, Anderson began his career in the mailroom at MGM, where he soon transitioned into a contract player on-screen with feature films The Magnificent Yankee (1950), Scaramouche (1952), Escape From Fort Bravo (1953; opposite William Holden) and Forbidden Planet (1956), and in Stanley Kubrick’s anti-war classic Paths of Glory (1957).

In 1958, he moved to Fox and portrayed Allan Stuart, the subservient boyfriend to Joanne Woodward in The Long, Hot Summer (1958), juxtaposed to his usual commanding presence, which was later re-ignited in more military movies, including the Rod Serling-penned screenplay for John Frankenheimer’s Seven Days in May (1964), and with a second Frankenheimer film, a science-fiction movie called Seconds (1966), playing opposite Rock Hudson.

On television, he guest-starred on shows like Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Daniel Boone, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Hawaii Five-O, Ironside, Charlie’s Angels, Dynasty, The A-Team, and Murder, She Wrote, as well as in the highly-rated, final two-part segment of ABC’s 1960s series, The Fugitive, a development that ultimately went on to set the precedent for series finale scenario utilized by various shows ever since.

Additionally, Anderson, who authored Richard Anderson: At Last…A Memoir, had played police Lt. Steve Drumm on the final season of CBS’ Perry Mason and Santa Luisa Police Chief George Untermeyer on ABC’s Dan August, starring Burt Reynolds, and in TV-movies like The Night Strangler, a sequel to The Night Stalker movie that lead to the pre-X-Files weekly supernatural series starring Darren McGavin.

As fate would have it, McGavin had appeared in a similarly-supervisory role to Oscar Goldman in the 1973 90-minute pilot for The Six Million Dollar Man.

But as Lee Majors recently assessed to, once Anderson was cast as Goldman, he became irreplaceable.

“I met Richard in 1967 when he first guest starred on The Big Valley – we worked together on five episodes,” Majors said. “In 1974, he joined me as my boss, Oscar Goldman, in The Six Million Dollar Man. Richard became a dear and loyal friend, and I have never met a man like him.

“I called him ‘Old Money.’ His always stylish attire, his class, calmness and knowledge never faltered in his 91 years. He loved his daughters, tennis and his work as an actor. He was still the sweet, charming man when I spoke to him a few weeks ago. I will miss you, my friend.”

Lindsay Wagner joined in Major’s sentiment, defining Anderson’s legacy and, in the process, subtly expressing the measure of loss that will resonate with his fans for years to come:

“I can’t begin to say how much I have always admired and have been grateful for the elegance and loving friendship I was blessed to have with Richard Anderson. He will be greatly missed.”

Herbie J Pilato is the Founder and Executive Director of The Classic TV Preservation Society, and the author of several classic TV companion books.  He is practically a founding father of TVWriter™ and is a Contributing Editor Emeritus. This article first appeared at Emmys.Com. Learn more about Herbie J Pilato HERE.

Peggy Bechko on What a Synopsis IS & What It ISN’T

  by Peggy Bechko

Found at WritersRelief.Com

I hear it all the time:
“Do I have to write a synopsis?”
“Why do I have to write a synopsis?”
“What the heck is a synopsis?”

“Yes you do.”
“You better do a little research – seriously.”

Okay, plainly a synopsis can be a very different animal for every writer. But who it is for doesn’t change. It’s for the reader whether a script reader or a novel reader. It has to be short, succinct and really hook ‘em.

Think about it. Script Readers and Editors are buried. Their workloads are tremendous. There are readers who actually tackle two or more scripts and many synopses each day. There are editors who plow through mountains of manuscripts. There are lots of producers out there as well who check out a logline and a synopsis before they decide if they want to read a script…or not. (It’s the ‘or not’ you want to avoid.)

If you’re writing to script or to novel the synopsis is a bit different, but not a lot. The fact is the synopsis could clearly lay down the main story from beginning to end. Yep, even to the ‘spoiler’ of an ending. You, as the writer, must compel the reader to read that script or that manuscript.

So, what your synopsis isn’t is what might be stuck inside a book jacket or a couple of sentence description that could be found in a TV Guide. It’s not just a tease, it’s an attention grabbing selling tool.

So, let’s focus on what we need in a synopsis for a script. You’re selling a story. The story is the main element. And character. The mixing of plot and character. Hit the plot right away. You don’t need flowery language and you can’t get across the meanderings of the characters’ minds. On the other hand you don’t want it to be so short and dry it could be something your newspaper types in with the channel listings for TV.

Focus on this. Script readers read a whole lot of scripts and because of that they’ve seen a lot. So you’re not going to be able to hook one with a bit of a teaser on the premise of your story. They’ve probably heard that before. Walk the reader through the story. The question is, can you, the writer, tie a whole story together, beginning, middle and end. You don’t’ stop in the middle. Readers of scripts (and yes manuscripts as well) want to know how a story unfolds.

You can tell a quick story with action verbs. You can set it up act by act in several paragraphs. There are lots of stories that begin with a bank robbery or a kidnapping or a suicide so the trick is to give the reader the meat. What happens next? What choices do the characters make? What’s behind it all? And yes, how does it all come together in the end?

Okay, so how long should this thing be? Generally about a page, tops. Sort of between 200 and 400 words, give or take a little.

So, the basics.

Establish the story’s characters, the story’s main conflict and the incident that triggers the story. Then comes the meat. Who’s the antagonist(s). What are the big plot twists? In other words save scene descriptions for your scripts and focus here on the main storyline. Then wrap it all up with how the main character has changed…or didn’t…and what the resolution is to the story.

This all applies to manuscripts as well though there’s a bit more room for some of that colorful language and maybe some thought exploration though the length constriction doesn’t allow for much.

So, go forth and create a stunning synopsis…and don’t forget the amazing logline as well.

Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her sensational career HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page and her terrific blog.

John Ostrander Loses It!

by John Ostrander

NOTE FROM LB: Neither John nor TVWriter™ nor I write very much about politics. Most of the time here on the interwebs, Mr. Ostrander covers the comic book/tv/film interaction beat. What he has to say here is off that beat, but, more importantly, I believe what he is saying is, as the rallying cry went during some past, troubled times, “Right on!”

John’s most beloved creation here at TVWriter™

Twenty years ago this month saw the publication of the first issue of my twelve issue historical western, The Kents (which has since been gathered into a TPB and is on sale at Amazon, among other places; end of plug). The book chronicles how the ancestors of Clark Kent’s adoptive family came to live in Kansas and was set before, during, and after the Civil War.

Of all my work, this is one thing of which I’m exceptionally proud. I did a great deal of research for the project and while by no means a history per se, it has a great deal of history in it.

One of the goals I set for myself was to try to convey to the reader how the characters, the people, of that time felt about the events that engulfed them. We, of course, know how that conflict resolved itself but they did not. Was the nation going to tear itself apart? How many more would die? If I was a soldier, would I die or be wounded or maimed? Would my loved one live or die?

The same uncertainties apply to other conflicts, such as WWI and II, Korea and Vietnam. I recently saw the movie Dunkirk (which I found to be harrowing and brilliant) and, if you know anything about that story, you know how it winds up. However, what the movie makes so plain is that no one actually involved at the time had any real idea of how it would be resolved. If anything, they expected the British and French troops gathered at Dunkirk would be annihilated or captured.

Nobody today knows how our story will end. Over the past days / weeks / months of the Trump presidency, we’ve seen the country roil like a broken thing. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m 68 years old and I’ve never seen anything like it. I doubt not only the competence of the most powerful man in the world but his sanity. He lashes out not only at perceived enemies but at the very institutions that power our democracy.

All of us are in the middle of this story and we do not know how it will end. Do we all understand that it does not have to end well? Our country, our way of governing, is an experiment that could still fail. There is no reason that it has to survive. Every great country or civilization has fallen. Every single one. Some aspect of what they were may continue but the main substance collapses. There are those both within and without our borders who would see us ripped apart. And we appear to be doing it. Our survival is not a given and no one should assume it is.

How will our story be written, a hundred years from now? Will it be a story of triumph and, if so, whose triumph? Or will it be a story of tragedy and a fall from grace? Who will write that story?

Abraham Lincoln, in his famed Gettysburg Address, said, “Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated {to liberty}, can long endure.” That’s as true today as it was then.

Any bets?

John Ostrander is one of LB’s favorite writers in any medium. Don’t forget to read his most excellent blog at ComicMix, where this piece first appeared. You can learn more about John and his masterworks HERE

Time Now for a Short Lesson in Reality TV Writing from Troy DeVolld

NOTE FROM LB: Troy’s article today is on four key written elements in today’s “reality” TV world. (They’re also key elements in “fictional” TV shows, but most of the time the networks take them out of your hands, whether you want them to or not.) You may not know the following terms:

Superteasers. Teases. Next Ons. Prev Ons.

Look these up! Master them! I know people who’ve had huge careers based on their handling of what Troy’s talking about right HERE:

Pro Tip: Superteases, Teases, Next Ons, and Prev Ons
by Troy DeVolld

Since a good friend asked me for my thoughts on these today, I thought I’d share them with everyone.

Before you read on, just know that this is how I generally approach this stuff in a vacuum if I’m not given any sort of directive. Mileage and notes pass experience may vary.


You’ve culled the best moments from the series (so far) and need to cut a Supertease for the end of the

first episode or a longer Supertrailer for web use. How do you put it together without it seeming like a lot of unrelated noise?

First, look for an opening bite that works as a thesis statement for the season, even if it’s as loose as

“It’s about to get crazy up in here” or “Bad news, guys, we might be losing the business.” This frames the action as you burst into it from there.

I like to group the Supertease/Supertrailer action by moods, and make sure each section is clearly set apart from the one before and after by a shift in music and tone. Make the division clear.

Try this combo:  Opening statement, scene selects that are happy, scene selects that are sad, scene selects that are loud/confrontational, then end on the loudest, biggest clip you’ve got. It’s nice if you can find a good closing statement that bookends the whole mess with a thought not unlike the one you opened with, but implying big risk/stakes.


For Act 2, I always end with a deeper tease letting you look ahead to something big in act 6 (or 5 if you have a 5 act structure). For all other teases, resist the urge to completely give away the biggest moment in the next act… I often look for a bold statement and end on an exaggerated version of the reaction shot. You want the moment that’s about to explode, not the whole explosion.


These should generally only contain material that sets up or reminds us of what’s being paid off or advanced heavily in the current episode. Nothing else matters, no matter how loud or visually attention-getting. The whole deal is about making sure viewers, especially new ones, understand where tonight’s action is coming from.


Don’t forget to use these as the foundation for your previously-ons and next-ons for the episodes before and after. Why do these completely from scratch?


Next ons should hint at further development of something already in motion as of the current episode OR tease something really big and new that’s coming down the pike. I usually limit myself to two or three beats of general action, loudest/most active last.  If you’ve got big action, consider hiding the real physical action, covering it with big reaction shots.  That way, revealing the real image/action in the next episode will feel like a surprise.

That’s all for this entry.  Story pals, any favorite approaches to these?  Leave ’em in the comments section.

Troy DeVolld is a Larry Brody buddy, former senior story producer of Dancing with the Stars, and all-around true master of the reality TV genre. This article originally appeared on his Reality TV blog. And while you’re thinking about him, why not buy his book, Reality TV: An Insider’s Guide to TV’s Hottest Market?