Editing My Pilot – Blog #5

Today I took some time to edit one of my TV Pilots, College Monster Farce, and I wanted to share my experience doing so.

You can read College Monster Farce in its current incarnation here if you’d like.

To preface the editing process, I’ll give some background about how Monster Farce was written, and what I’ve done with it so far.

I had the idea to write about a campus security group that fights zombies in 2008, and wrote it into a one act musical which I used as a writing sample to apply to a screenwriting MFA program. Later, I wanted to revisit the same idea in a different format, so in 2017 I rewrote it into a television pilot.

The 2017 writing of Monster Farce was done in extreme haste. I decided to pitch a staged pilot reading of my two television pilots to The Annoyance Theatre & Bar, and when I did that, just to make things spicy for myself, I hadn’t actually written either of them yet. The Annoyance graciously gave me a show date, which allowed me about six weeks to write both pilots from loose ideas to finished products with enough time to find actors and stage the readings (which was its own can of worms).

The result was sorta good, but also really bad. Because of the deadline, I was forced to haul my ass to the library every day and fucking write two pilots. The downside was that stress of the time crunch turned me into a crazy person.

When the reading date rolled around, (I think) the audience could sense the stress. Of the 30 or so people who were there, 28 of them were also writers who knew me from the community and I think they were expecting something better from me. Instead they got two pilots that were silly, not smart, sci-fi themed, and different than what everyone else was doing. So basically my friends and mentor hated my pilots. On the upside, the two remaining audience members were people off the street who didn’t have any expectations. They were the only ones who laughed during the show, and afterwards they approached me and told me they had a great time and loved the work. So overall the reaction/s were mixed, but I still felt like a failure and I never wanted to see these pilots again. Case closed!

Fast forward to two years later in 2019, when I’m watching Netflix and find an original series called The Order which is just as fucking stupid as Monster Farce and similar in a lot of ways. I reread Monster Farce that day and decided that no, it wasn’t terrible. There were good things about it and maybe I shouldn’t have completely abandoned it…

So that is the back story. Now to the edits. This is what needs to change about Monster Farce.

  • The school name, Green Flower needs to be better. It either needs to be one word, GreenFlower, or it needs to be something entirely different that ties into the rest of the story. (Names are hard!)
  • The stage direction, especially in the teaser needs to be drastically reduced and made more concise. (It’s a newb mistake to write too much stage direction.)
  • The character’s name Persephone has to go. I chose that name because it was a character name from Law & Order, SVU when Benson went under cover for the FBI and investigated environmental terrorists. Persephone is a stupid name and I think the character should be called Madison instead. Thoughts? (Comment if you have thoughts.)
  • I need to pick a name for the fraternity where Abdul is getting the weed. Again, I think it would be better if I named it something that ties into the rest of the story. Maybe something ridiculous like Dummy Epsilon Fucktard? JK! Fucktard is a rude term. 
  • I’m changing Kyle’s major and minor from Paranormal Psychology and Alien Abductions to Monsterology and Alienology, respectively.
  • I’m making a point to indicate that the rapper Skanky Ass Bitches is a white rapper. Otherwise all the Weed Genie’s back story comes off as racist.
  • I had considered changing the reveal that the financial aid crisis was a hoax from the top of the second act to the bottom of the second act, but ya know what? I’m too lazy. This is meant to be a character driven piece and the plot takes a backseat. I’ll leave it as is.

If you’re wondering how I edited this, I did it in an Adobe Acrobat app on my iPad and annotated the pdf script with red pen markings using my Apple Pencil. I haven’t actually made the changes in Final Draft yet (I use the iOS app because it’s only $20 and the $200 version of Final Draft I have on my desktop is no longer supported or something, also I’m having trouble locating the actual Final Draft version of the pdf script but it’s somewhere). I’ll get to the edits in Final Draft later.

BTDubs… Final Draft is a scriptwriting program. Don’t buy it. There are free options out there. This is just the industry standard. I bought it because I like to obsess about equipment and such before actually doing things.

This concludes the writing of my current blog post. I thought it would be a good idea to bang out edits to Monster Farce before starting the horror fiction piece I wrote about in my last blog post.

I also wanted to mention that I went to see Midsommar in the theater yesterday and I had the urge to review it in this blog. I think adding my reactions to the zillions of horror and sci-fi movies I watch in theaters and online might be a cool way to drive traffic to my site because of SEO (or whatever) so it’s something I’m considering for the future. As a rule though, I think it’s best to hold off on starting new projects until I finish old projects and follow through on current ideas. Contact me if you think reviewing current horror and sci-fi in this blog would be a cool addition. I’m definitely enjoying this blog, and I want to do more with it!

Next blog post- Friday.

Please consider supporting me by following my blog and commenting.

Thanks for reading!

Jessica

Horror Fiction Coming – Blog #4

Oh crap! It’s Friday already!

Today I’m going to the beach with my family and (thankfully) not focused on career matters. Instead, I feel like I’m living in a time warp between the past and the future. I’m obsessed with Astrology, and this week we are between a solar eclipse on July 2nd and the lunar eclipse on July 16th, which are happening in my career, hopes and dreams, groups I belong to, friendships, creativity/children houses, and light hearted romance. (So much to unpack here!)

Anyway, before I slap on my suite and load my nieces and nephews up in my truck I have something to say! -As soon as the dust has settled on the 4th of July weekend, I’m ready to start my next writing project, and it will be a fiction piece. It’ll be horror based on a location (not saying which, haters fuck off) that I feel inspired by and have a high reference level to.

I haven’t written fiction since college so I’m going to give myself permission to write the shittiest short story imaginable and when it’s done, I’ll hopefully be able to share it online somewhere. I want it to be a solid beach read.

Thank’s ya’ll. Be careful stay alive for me!

Next blog post- Tuesday.

Please consider supporting me by following my blog and commenting.

Thanks for reading!

Jessica

Old Yeller-ing My Dreams – Blog #3

It’s good to have dreams. I think it’s good to have like one or two solid dreams that you can work towards over time. These days I have to admit that I have a long history of starting too many projects at once, being overly ambitious and burning out.

So now I’m taking some of my aspirations out back to the shed and puttin ’em down so that I can channel my resources into projects that I can sustain for the long haul.

(Read my last post about not performing anymore so I can focus on writing.)

…I mean the last thing I want right now is to have another Girl Jesus on my hands… (project that requires more than I can give and nobody gets to see.)

After much rumination I think these are the projects that I can do:

  • Keep blogging (loving it!)
  • Start writing my story embryos (story ideas I loosely work on over time) into fiction pieces.
  • Occasionally upload video projects to YouTube (I have a couple in mind), but accept that I’m not in a position to try to grow an audience or go on a rigorous upload schedule at this time.
  • If/when I’m ready to direct or mount my material (AKA Girl Jesus 2), I will do it locally in my small town rather than at established theaters in MI that are too far away from me.

See? Now that felt good. All this thinking I’ve been doing has been about deciding stuff like- should write ‘Story X’ into a screenplay vs. a short story?

Thought process is as follows:

Well, I watch movies but I don’t read fiction, so… screenplay? Vs. Well, I have to rely on a lot of crazy luck and other people to turn a screenplay into a movie when it would be a lot easier to throw a story on Amazon for $.99 or just offer for free as a download on my site so… short story?

Anyway, I’m just done chasing a life that is lived by a person who has the same ideas as me but who has completely different energy levels and resources. For now I just want to start producing work without going insane (again).

…And if people are interested in what I do, I want them to be able to go online and check some of my work out. Period. I can’t do that with my TV pilots…

Well I guess that’s not true… I can just take the TV pilots I’ve already written and upload them onto this site and people can read them if they are so inclined. Why not? I could do that. They’re just sitting in a folder on my computer doing nothing anyway.

Hm.

Next blog post- Friday.

Please consider supporting me by following my blog and commenting.

Thanks for reading!

Jessica

Sci-Fi & Horror > Comedy. Blog #2

Not to be a complete turd about calling myself a comedian but then not performing much, and also dangling the idea of returning to the stage after 18 months with my solo sketch characters a-blazing buuuuuut…

I don’t want to perform anymore and I’m transitioning from comedy to Sci-Fi & Horror.

…Balloons…

Performing is something I only ever did because I liked writing the monologues and making the costumes. (That’s not really true. There have been more reasons than that but stick with me for now.) Furthermore, I did my first solo sketch show after a year and a half last week and while I went through the motions and got some laughs, I kinda just wasn’t feeling it.

The solo bits I wrote two years ago were done while I was a performer at The Annoyance Theatre & Bar which encourages all forms of depravity as an art-form. The result is that I have a backlog of material written by my inner shit demon, and now I feel my voice as a comedian is out of place outside of the specific-ness of the Chicago community.

It’s been a challenge to reconcile the fact that I could be a strong performer, and I could take it further, but I don’t want to, and I’m not going to because it’s way too far out of my flow state.

After experimenting for 15 years I know how hard it is to stave off living in survival mode so that you can be creative. With such limited time and resources I think it’s best to live in alignment with my introverted temperament and preference for writing.

I mean I could try to write family friendly material and leave the tranquility of my PJs to perform for comedy audiences -or- I could change my medium from comedy to Sci-Fi & Horror and naturally attract an audience who wants to be blasted with the cum rags of my soul’s inner truck stop (AKA my art). I feel like making the switch is sensible at this time.

Thanks for reading!

Jessica

Next blog post- Tuesday.

Please consider supporting me by following my blog and commenting.

Why Blogging? 1 Reason.

I am so happy to announce officially that I am blogging now. Yay! This is a big step. It’s a big step because writers write and the older more seasoned I get, the more I understand that writing is my flow state and I should get on a schedule with it because it’s good for me.

Back in March I marked my calendar and allotted six weeks to write a play. I started writing about five days later than I’d planned, but I finished three weeks early! During that month of writing every day on a set schedule I was the best version of myself (except for my Bukowski moment when I got really drunk at work and told my coworkers that I once ate dog treats because I was sad, and that I give terrible blow jobs that everybody hates). Aside from that one moment, March was the best month I’ve had in Michigan!

…In March I…

  • Dropped like four pounds of Michigan blubber from jogging 8.5 miles three times a week.*
  • Dragged my ass (most weeks) to the top secret just-for-fun improv show I sometimes do on Tuesday nights.
  • Made it out to the Planet Ant (comedy theater located 28 miles from where I live) a bunch of times, reconnected with some Old Gs and received a warm welcome by a new group too (which smashed my stereotype that Michigan people are hard to get to know.)

Things were looking up. Then I finished the writing the show, and things got shitty fast, (I got bronchitis, switched jobs, and had some issues at home to deal with), hence my former blog post in which I probably used the “Fuck” word too many times. By the way, thanks for being completely nonjudgemental and loving everything I do. It helps.

Next blog post- Friday.

Please consider supporting me by following my blog and commenting.

***Don’t be too impressed by the jogging because the way I do it, it’s really just walking with a touch of sass.

Thanks for reading!

Jessica

Can I Finally Fucking Focus Already?

In the year 2020 I will reach my Crystal Anniversary in Writing & Comedy- the 15 year mark. It’s been real and I’ve learned a lot. I can definitely say that all the time spent experimenting and fucking up and getting some stuff right has been valuable. But honestly, I believe I was just incubating for all those years. Recently I’ve wondered why it’s taken me so long to feel like I actually had permission to fucking focus on this already? Why has it taken me so long to really go for it? I mean from day one I thought I was fucking hilarious, and generally I got a lot of positive feedback so what has been the fucking hold up?

Here is a list of the bullshit that has gotten in the way thus far:

  1. I hated myself for being a woman
  2. The economy was shit
  3. I was an asshole who didn’t know how to work with people
  4. I was scared shitless
  5. I drank too much
  6. I kept getting weird crushes on comedy guys
  7. I was always too tired to do anything
  8. I had no clue how to approach all this
  9. My resume wasn’t built up
  10. I had no connections in the industry
  11. My life was in fucking chaos
  12. I had decision fatigue
  13. I needed a mentor
  14. I didn’t have a website
  15. The universe loathes a vacuum***

Yep those are the reasons. Most of them are self explanatory but I’ll expand upon reason #15 The Universe Loathes a Vacuum.

***This is a big one! You’d think that taking a stand and saying “Fuck you!” to a career in medical that afforded no flexibility and tons of exhaustion would clear a space to be a comedian but it didn’t, sadly. It was really interesting that in 2015 when I quit my career and spent most of my time doing unpaid comedy things would have been pure bliss but it wasn’t because I believe the universe loathes a vacuum. I believe that if your set-point is to be busy with nonsense and administrative bullshit, that the moment you clear your schedule of crap like this more crap like that will immediately come a knockin’ so just be prepared for that. It has not been easy to tell chaos gods to go fuck themselves but it’s been a thing.

…And it’s still a thing right now too. For whatever reasons I was drowning in a tidal wave of personal things that needed to be addressed when I stopped performing on Dec 30th 2017. It was all stuff like:

  1. I had to get all my shit out of storage
  2. I needed new insurance
  3. I had to lease a car
  4. I had to get new credit cards
  5. I had to get a passport
  6. My computer was broken
  7. I was getting fat
  8. People at work were dicks
  9. I was (still) tired all the time
  10. I was (still) drinking too much
  11. I needed a website
  12. I needed new stuff
  13. My cousin’s arms were amputated***
  14. Whatever you get it

***Yes that really happened. My cousin’s accident and subsequent dismemberment causes me no stress or anything now (because I’m not that great of a family member and my cousin has his shit together) but when this happened I wanted to be close to family and that’s when I had to get out of Chicago and move to Michigan which caused more chaos than it eliminated, probably. (I linked my cousin’s GoFundMe video below. Watch it.)

Blah! So much bullshit, can I just be married to a hot personal assistant already?

–Like the moment I put my foot down and said “No More!” there was more. Now things have cooled down. I have a minute to settle in and of course, more bullshit but at least now I can see it for what it is…. It’s just some sort of cosmic filling in of the gaps between chaos. If you want to focus you have to be stubborn I guess.

Ok so that’s my blog post, “Can I Finally Fucking Focus Already”…

Thanks a bunch for reading!

Jessica Kate Wilcox

Post Girl Jesus Playlist Thoughts

I’ve uploaded a Vlog onto Youtube as a wrap-up to the Girl Jesus playlist and I thought I’d slap it on this ‘lil blog-a-roo cuz that’s what blogs are for…

The cast who performed in the version of Girl Jesus which is on Youtube were such a fantastic group! They put up with my newness as a director which meant that they probably rehearsed more than they would have with someone else. Thankfully what I lacked in experience I made up for in providing snacks for rehearsals snd showing and oodles of gratitude for their work and friendships. This group made my work easier because they knew a lot about acting and gave lots of ideas.

When I contrast this version of the show with the performances given the second time around, (when we were extended) and I had to plug in five new actors (including myself) with extremely limited rehearsal time, I wanted to note that the second cast kinda didn’t give a fuck because we barely held it together so they felt more comfortable going balls out and basically fucking around a lot. Definitely the second run was less controlled and more ridiculous and sloppier. …But who doesn’t like it sloppy, amiright?

Both casts were amazing. Both shows were amazing. I forgot to mention Trey Hanks in my Youtube vlog (who is also my good friend) so I wanted to give a shout out to Trey if he reads this sometime. Trey was awesome as Mysterious Hot New Guy and he did it totally different than Chris did. I have a picture of Chris and Trey (Both Mysterious Hot New Guys) together at The Annoyance 30th Anniversary Party (or something like that). Check it!

 

So those are my thoughts and shout outs for now. This blog situation will unfold over time but I definitely wanted to cover all bases by blogging my vlog. 

Best to all!

Jessica