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Dear Friends,

I'm writing this the morning after getting back from co-directing a four-spot commercial campaign over a four-day shoot. (This is out-of-order choronologically from last week, as it's actually Tuesday, July 30th right now, but it doesn't matter.) I had two fellow directors, and know that any one of us could have directing the whole campaign by ourselves. However, this particular job was taken to new heights because of the collaboration.

It could have turned out a lot worse, but we are all flexible perfectionists. So we ended up getting lots of happy accidents - little ways in which the process brought the writing to life in unexpected ways.

One thing I will say is that some of the pieces I wrote for these commercials turned out to be a lot more complicated than I had thought. The timing on some of the jokes was almost a chemistry experiment, requiring many, many takes in order to get right. For instance, one actor had just one line - "Hey, these are fresh, right?" - and we probably ran him through 17 takes - with many of those takes having multiple reads in each one. I'd say he read that line 50 times on camera, and is probably still having flashbacks and nightmares. He had a number of strong takes, but I wasn't satisfied until I actually laughed at his read, even after hearing it 45 other times. If you think you've got a funny piece in a script, be sure to act it out yourself, so you know exactly what's funny about it. The only reason I could direct that scene better than anyone is that I wrote the joke and I had said it to myself hundreds of times and could still laugh at it.

Writing and directing a commercial campaign is not a great endeavor by any stretch of the imagination, but it is helping me to move more into directing, which will help me protect my film and television writing in the long run. Of course, I've got a ways to go before anyone's going to trust me with a whole production, but I feel more ready than ever to keep the story safe, all while providing an environment for plenty of "happy accidents." Don't be afraid to go down paths that could help your writing in different ways - travel, immersing yourself in your passion, researching subjects that hold interest for you. You might find yourself on a slightly different path, but writing is so flexible and multi-faceted that it can be fed in many ways.

On my commercial shoot, my fellow directors were simply fantastic. Great directors and, more importantly, stellar human beings. Far easier to get along with than I am - and generally less mercurial, too. It's quite the bonus that these commercials are going to turn out great and probably get me more directing work. I couldn't be happier about that, especially given that this gig started off as a completely inadvertent, one-time favor. Now, it's helping to put me in a great position with my own writing.




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