Monday, July 28, 2014

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Digi60SIFT recap

Digi60 SIFT is behind us and what a fun time it was!

My highlights were meeting and learning from:

Jennifer Podemski (Empire of Dirt)
Ingrid Veninger (The Animal Project)
and A.J. Bond (Stress Position)

Three phenomenal filmmakers, all at varying stages of their careers.

The couple of takeaways -

1.  Do it yourself.
2.  Do it really well.
3.  Don't stop.

I was in the directing and producing stream. Lots of information about inside the Telefilm system, outside the Telefilm system, and how the rest of the world of low budget films operate from the standpoint of making money.

A challenge to filmmakers:

Watch where your words come from about diverse groups that look different than you. And, I don't mean just white folk. Think gender lines, ethnicity, culture. You are doing a complete and utter disservice if you cut anyone out.

Don't be Hollywood. Be better than Hollywood. Be Canadian.

Publisher: Jennifer Mulligan - 6:24 PM

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Launch Day!

So, the big day.

My new website launch.

My mom's birthday too, and I'm going to celebrate later with Baby Duck and Metro Dream Cake.

Last year I was celebrating with close family and friends on my mom's birthday since she had just passed away.

This year, I wanted to do something special.

And, to honour my dad in all of this, an image of the shuttle launch.

He used to enjoy watching the space shuttles and any talk about the space programs.
Publisher: Jennifer Mulligan - 10:32 AM

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

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Irish Shiners and French Canadians duke it out!

For my Digi60 Pitch, I was doing research tonight on a legend of the Ottawa Valley. Big Joe fought the Irish Shiners, a reckless group of Irish who were trying to oust the French Canadians from Bytown to claim Lumber Baron supremacy.

The Irish were apparently not the best lads, and refused to assimilate.

I can only imagine downtown Ottawa and the fights between the Irish and the French. It must have been wild. And, the Scots got involved because they hated the dirty, filthy Irish folks and stood against them in support of the French.

Oh, the drama.
Publisher: Jennifer Mulligan - 11:11 PM
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Digi60 SIFT is right around the corner!

If you haven't heard, the Summer Institute of Film and Television (SIFT) is back! Under the direction of Digi60, SIFT is reborn with a local focus to start, giving film amateurs and pros the chance to mix and mingle in Ottawa while learning the trade crafts of screenwriting, producing, directing, acting, and technical.

I'm signed up for the Directing/Producing workshop this time around. I'm looking forward to the panel discussions and evening screenings, and especially those by Ingrid Veninger (who's screening The Animal Project) and A. J. Bond (with Stress Position).

So, I can't stay and chat today, but I will be updating from Digi60 next week (and now I have to get my pitches in before Kevin comes after me).

Publisher: Jennifer Mulligan - 1:17 PM

Friday, July 11, 2014


Where do I start? Jennifer's Top 10...

 CC License (click image for link)
If you just stumbled upon screenwriting, or think you have a great idea and don't know where to start, and before your fingers hit the keyboard, here's a few tips to ease your way in...  these are things that at the very least someone should consider doing.  This list is my opinion in case you have a problem with any of them...

1.  Get screenwriting software, pronto.  Some are free, most have a cost.  Colleges and pros still use Final Draft, although there are better ones out there, like Celtx, with online workspaces and more modern collaboration tools at your disposal for a cost.  Please don't use MS Word.  It's pretty fugly for formatting and why would you fight with margin spacing if you don't have to?  If you're starting out, buy what you can afford and upgrade if you're going to stick with screenwriting for the long haul (like more than a few years...), and if something free is working for you, soldier on!

2.  Read modern screenwriting books - like Crafty Screenwriting, or Save the Cat, or The Way of the Screenwriter.  (I'll add here, read books, period.  All kinds of books, but mostly good ones.  It'll make you a better writer.)

3.  Read modern screenplays (if you can find them online...).  The Oscar lists comes out every year from Go Into The Story, and The Blacklist.  They're not only a good indication of the types of things that get made, but they will provide you a wealth of information about how to construct your screenplay (which will mostly be taken care of when you get software...but still...)

4.  Watch movies that you love and ones you wouldn't pay money to see.  Old ones, new ones, foreign ones.  Try to figure out what the differences are between them.  Deconstruct the story, once you know the elements (see #2 above).

5.  Follow screenwriting podcasts and blogs to keep up to date on what is going on in the world of the pros.  They were once in our shoes.  I follow John August (US) and Alex Epstein (Canada), among others.  These two guys have been online for years now, and have covered everything you will need to know, and then some.  Go Into The Story is also an excellent resource.

6.  Get out to workshops and conferences and meet other writers and people doing the same thing you want to do.  Talk to them.  Meet directors and attend movie gatherings.  Get involved.  Writing is a solitary business, most of the time.  Meeting other people it's the only way you are going to say sane.

7.  Outline your stuff and pitch it to someone.  Get their feedback.  This is where the real work is done.  Refine the story at this stage.  Pitch it again to see if the engagement factor for your story has improved.

8.  Write shitty stuff.  Seriously.  Who cares?  No one's perfect.  Unless you show it to someone, it never happened...right?

9.  Rewrite better stuff.  Search each line for the nugget that's going to make it POP.  Movies are about movement, and dynamic characters that can only be in this situation, at this place, at this time.  Hear the characters in your head.  They had a life before they showed up in your story, and they should continue on with their lives (or maybe they get dead) once you're done with them.

10.  Don't let anyone tell you that (insert your vice here) is not part of the writing process.  It most certainly is.  Just don't let it be your excuse.  Resistance is a dangerous muse.

Bonus points:

a) It's always okay to be the person in the room that knows the least.  We all learn from each other. Listen is an important writing skill to hone.

b) The first draft is NEVER your shooting draft.  Learn early (like right now) that writing is rewriting and the scene you slaved away on may eventually have to go. Don't get married to an idea for a scene, get married to the story. The scenes and characters will work themselves out if you let them.

That's all for now!

Publisher: Jennifer Mulligan - 12:55 PM

Welcome to my new home!

It's been a long time coming. A pro-writer blog for Here it is!

I've been screenwriting since late 2005 when I caught the bug by reading a book - The Way of the Screenwriter by Amnon Buchbinder. I got serious in 2010 through 2011 with an option from producer Sharon Buckingham on The Dart League Diaries, and working with Alex Epstein from Montreal as a Research Assistant.

Fast forward a few year and grey hairs later, I've have been fortunate to have my ideas picked up by local directors, and I've had the chance to work as an associate producer on some others. I also work as an AD on local short and features, I pick up extra work when I can, and write and provide notes on scripts around town. This is by far the most challenging and also the most rewarding business to be in. Lots of hard work, but the results come at the end of some long hauls. And, sometimes, you help make someone's dream come true (and maybe your own!).

I attended the Lady Filmmakers Festival in Beverly Hills and the Austin Film Festival last fall. Both great events. From there, I curated The Reel Deal: Films by women, a showcase of films by and about women, with a woman as a creative lead. The event also served as part of the fundraiser for A Clean Slate, written by Paola Del Malva and directed by Jith Paul. The first instalment of a web series.

I've seen the Ottawa community come together in a very short period of time to create some pretty amazing things. I know we can do more.

I'm very much looking forward to participating in DIGI60 SIFT this year and learning more about directing and producing from the pros. I'll be updating work her periodically, and if you ever have questions, please send me a message.

Publisher: Jennifer Mulligan - 11:09 AM