Thursday, July 03, 2014

Chapter One and Done???

Based on a recent comment and some personal "soul searching", I have hit a very awkward questioning point in my life.  I have always enjoyed the producing aspect of all of the films that I am worked on - but the truth be told, I always consider myself a storyteller.

I like to tell stories.  I like to create characters and make people become emotionally invested in them.  I love the various story-telling aspects that evoke emotions on different levels.  I love the ability to connect with a reader on multiple plains and garner responses not previously considered.

As much as I love producing films for other people - and making their dreams a reality...  I, Shane M. White, am a storyteller.  I have so many stories that I want to tell.  And ina recent response to a comment, it was brought to my attention where I stand with all of that.

I have so many ideas.  Some good, some bad, some silly, some dumb, some crazy, some ridiculous, some convoluted. I have an odd sense of humor, and much of my love for comedy is not always received by the masses.  I grew up watching "SNL" and "Flying Circus" repeats on Comedy Central.  I watched "Weekend Update" clips more religiously than actual news broadcasts.  I created a ery harbored and sheltered meta-world where my mind lived.

After saying that, I have tons of ideas and concepts that enter my brain every single day.  And most of them are lame, and implausible.  But, sometimes I think I've struck something brilliant, something genius.  A concept that I can run with.  And in a recent comment, I admitted to the fact that I have seven "Chapter Ones" completed.

What does that mean?

It means, aside from all of my other stories - I have seven ideas that I have sat down and written the first chapter of their lives.  I've given the Genesis Device to seven ideas, and let them begin to Terra Form.  I've laid the base-level groundwork for seven attempts at a full story.  Seven times, I have done this - and failed to do anything else.

First up, let's address "Grinchby" - it's three (maybe four?) years in the making.  It is essentially the story of "A Christmas Carol" told through a semi-well-to-do man who learns his local bar is closing, while he is home over Christmas, visiting family.  While he attempts to avoid his family and soak in as much alcohol as he can, two women from his past come through the doors, at the same time that the owner reveals to him that they are closing that night because of being behind on their mortgage.  Benjamin Grinchby then spends the night confronting his demons of past relationships, with his future of potential investments both in the bar and in the girl who got away.  It's a modern day version for the love-struck male.  Women from his past discus their relationship and allow him to reflect on his current girlfriend, while realizing the high school sweetheart who is still an option.  And whie all of his personal drama plays out, he wants nothing more than to save the bar he worked at a decade ago.  It's a story about love, loss, and loyalty.  And one that may never be finished.

I'll take a fe seconds to address one big thing in my life - Cameron Crowe and his works, have forever been a resounding statement in my mind.  Not only for story-telling but for emotional resonance.  The truth, the heart, the emotion, the feelings.  Those are the things that a teenage Shane feel in love with.  I was on a date in 1997 with a girl names Amber at Sony Cherry Tree on Washington Street, when we watched "Jerry Maguire" together, and it changed my perception of so many things - granted it hurt our relationship because she didn't buy into all of the things I felt that I needed to change, but we had a good friendship post-break-up that eventually let to a re-kindling that I ruined - later leading me to revelation that I just refuse to accept any happiness in any relationship.

Even when those relationships should only be considered as platonic, I still managed to over-analyze them into stupidity, and then try to write about it. Which led to...

"Waited on a Line of Green and Blues".
Green with Envy.
Blue with Sadness.
It is the story of a bartender, who every single night, a fellow industry server comes into his bar and she sits down to eat and drink and spend more time away from her boyfriend.  Because that guy, is a douchebag.  He's not a good guy.  He treats her badly and takes advantage of her awesomeness.  Thus, our "hero" protagonist is forced to deal with a quandary each night.  This amazing woman, is selling herself short by being with this lame ass-clown of a boyfriend.  How does he make her realize that she is better than what she is settling for?  How does he convince her that she deserves better from man?  Better...  like him!  And from the female perspective, when do you even consider a guy as as more than friend?  Why does he have to treat you badly to reach that desirable state?

Over the last months I moved into my friend Lindsay's House and have begun a new chapter of my life.  During that move, I threw away A LOT of my past.  I threw away a lot of things that I had been holding onto as dear moment from my past.  Lots of pictures, lost of notes and letters from ex-girlfriends, lost of nostalgic memorabilia from "that Indy 500 that we went to together" or "that Oscar Party we went to together" - it was a major purging of a lot of things.  The one thing that survived it all, was the notes and story ideas that I wrote down from it all.  And there was LOTS of them.  Many ideas/concepts that I had for comedies and dramas.  I always drew from personal experiences when writing.  In the vein of Stand-Up Comedy, I wanted to write things that people could relate to.  If it made you laugh, I wanted it to be funny.  If it made you sad, I wanted it to be because you were reflecting on your own failures and where you could have made your life better.  I evoking emotions on an audiences.  Maybe it is a bad thing, but it's how I want to connect with people.  Let's connect through loss, heart-ache and pain!  Because those are the emotions that eveyone speaks.

In 2000, I wrote a script titled "All Good Things..."
The title was a play on the finale of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" in which Q (my favorite character!) tells Jean-Luc Picard, "All good things must come to an end".  A pathetic idea that I associated with many of my relationships in the early 20-something years of my life.  This script in particular was written about a very special woman in my life.  And it's sad to realize that I was only romanticizing about her.  She was a wonderful woman, and someone that still holds a very special place in my heart.  But at that point in each of our lives - we just were not on the same page.  Despite her amazing passion for film-making (which was exactly why I was so beyond attracted to the mental comprehension of creating a visual medium) we just didn't work out on an emotional level.  And when writing this script, I was very angry and very dejected and attacked a lot of things about her personality.  It was only YEARS later that I considered - "Maybe its time to make this film?" - when I realized, that I sabotaged everything.  And I do not mean the script - I mean our relationship from day one.  I injected an emotional virus into whatever we tried to build together - because that's what I thought I needed.

Case in point:  My first film "Consternate" that I wrote with Jason L. Maier.  My character, the main character, had to get in a few fights with his girlfriend.  How did I accomplish writing that?  I purposely got into arguments with my girlfriend, so that I could take those fights and create dialogue from them.  It wasn't until I crossed the line, she broke up with me, and moved on - before I realized what was going on.  I always thought that I could get her back - but I was very wrong.  Thus, in a very sad - and very pathetic way - the girl who played my girlfriend in "Consternate" was just being an extension of the girl who broke up with me - because I was writing "Consternate" based on our fights.

It brings me to an awkward point in my life - wondering if I am really the storyteller that I have always claimed to be.  Do I rally have stories to tell?  Or are all of my stories simply manifestations of the failed relationships that I have allowed myself to be a part of?  Because, if that's the case - then my next story is going to a very awkward and bizarre tale about losing a good friend over his sister.  And I'm really not sure that's a story I need to make available to world - nor do I think the world would care.

Can I tell a non-personal story?
Can I just create characters and environments for them to inhabit?
Or will I forever be doomed to have such a lack of creativity - that I am reduced to enhancing failed relationships into concepts that people can relate to?  Is every story of mine just a pathetic extension of some female who rejected me?  Can I only write about love and loss?

I have seven "Chapter Ones" written.  Some of them are online, most of them are not.
I have a lot to consider, when it comes to my writing - and what I think I can accomplish.
I have stories I want to tell.
Can I dis-associate myself enough to make them interesting?
Can I actually commit to finishing any of them?

I'm a creature of positive re-enforcement.
"Perfect Life For Large Price" was most productive when people talked to me about it regularly.  I posted all of those chapters to garner interest.  And for a short period, it was there.  Only three or four people really cared, but when they were all texting me and begging me for the next bit of the story - that is what drove me.  I need that motivation.  I need that acceptance.  I need someone giving me positive reinforcement.  That helps me write, and helps me want to deliver for people.  When that desire ceased, so did my passion for writing.  And that's pathetic.  But that's how I mentally function.  I know its wrong, but I cannot fix it.  I wish I could.

Wrapping up, I will address "Forever Got a Lot Shorter".  This was a script I first wrote in 2001, that was a throwback to "St. Elmo's Fire".  At that point, I had just returned from L.A. and was dealing with some personal situations.  My friend Zach's Father had passed away while I lived in L.A., and this was a man who was a second father to me - so i had to deal with not being there for Zach and how that affected our friendship.  On top of that, I returned home to my friend Jason being head-over-heals in love with the bitch who took his virginity.  A woman I didn't get along with, that caused much strife and grief between Jason and I.  So, I started writing a story treatment about feeling like all my friends moved on without me being around.

That script is in hell, and will never be touched again - but I bring it up because of where it plays into my current life.  Zach, is happily married with two beautiful girls, while Jason is happily married with two sons and a daughter.  And then there is Shane.  The guy who rarely gets to ever be a part of either of their lives.  And while I've considered writing "Chapter One" of my depressing story about not only failing at my marriage, the lack of children, and the lack of ability to be present in my best friend's children's lives, I'm happy to have the mindset to know that attempting to tell a story like that, would be as productive as finishing any of the scripts that I wrote when I was twenty-ish years old.

More often than not, it's a better idea to make up something ridiculous and insane for a story - than to pull from real life.  I am not Cameron Crowe, and I need to stop trying to emulate his ability to emotionally invest people in ordinary lives.  I also am not Kevin Smith.  And many of the people named (or insinuated) in this entry will attest to my failed attempts to create scripts that mirrored what he did in his early career.  Basically, I am realizing and accepting that I spent far too much of my life trying to re-create the success of others - but using my own life-failings - and that was just pathetic.

I need to figure out the story I want to tell.
I need to decide if that's a short story, that I need to buy the equipment to film.
Or if it's a new feature that I'm going to have to start over at rock-bottom to produce?
I just realized that I never touched on the "Garage Band" script that Matt Cicci and I wrote, that I later wanted to turn into a stage musical.

I have a lot of notebooks.
I have a lot of stories.
I have to find the one that people will actually care to read.

2 comments:

Mandie Sanders said...

Omg, don't feel bad about having that many first chapters. I just counted and I have 19 blog posts started that I haven't been motivated to finish yet. Also I have ELEVEN different novels in various stages on my computer (none of them anywhere near the finished stage...) As a "sort-of friend," can I just say your biggest problem is that you're way too hard on yourself! Give Shane a break - he's a pretty okay guy :)

Shane M. White said...

Oh Mandie,
(Cue Barry...)
As a very good "sort of friend" I thank you very much for your comment. I know I'm not the only one with these problems, and it's nice to have someone reassure me that they are in the same boat. I wish you the best with all of your posts and novels and I hope you find the right ones to commit to finishing - because I love reading what you write and very much enjoy you sharing many of your experiences!!!