Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Comic-Con 2014 Recap

This past weekend I had the awesome opportunity to attend the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con as both a panelist and a fan. My panel wasn't until Saturday but since I got a four day pass and found a place to crash I decided to make the most of it and go as much as I could -- which only ended up being two days, but still...

Perhaps my biggest regret is not making it down to SD Thursday night for the epic Kings of Con party thrown every year by Daniel Alter (@dalter007) and Umberto Gonzalez (@ElMayimbe). I had a late dinner that was too important to miss or cut out early from and so #Kingsofcon became my first Comic-Con casualty. Still, gives me a reason to go down next year.

DAY 1:

This being my first time at Comic-Con I just didn't know what to expect. And what you get is a mass throng of 130,000 people within a (roughly) square mile. And 60% of them are cosplaying. It's an all out assault on the senses. Super crazy and super fun. 

I picked up my badge and met up with RESIGNATION producer Alex LeMay (@thealexlemay). Travis (@tobewan) was meeting us down there as well. While waiting and people watching in the lobby (saw the best cosplayer ever -- some Wolverine wannabe with butter knives duck-taped to his hands) I connected with my buddy Ryan over at Dolphin Entertainment. He was in town to debut some of the new Max Steel movie they're working on. We all headed over to the Mattel booth to check out the the Max Steel suit and watch a signing with the stars.

Max Steel Suit
At the end of the day, Comic-Con is much like any other trade show -- just more insane. There's stuff to look at everywhere. If you're ever planning to go I would say you have to give yourself more than a day. The first day is just taking everything in and trying not to explode. It's madness and you can only take so much before you need a break.

Following Max Steel, I took a quick walk through the DC Comics booth where they had all of the Batman suits up for display, including the new cape and cowl from Batman V. Superman. 

Dark Knight Batman Suit
Batman V. Superman Cowl
If I'm being honest, I think the DARK KNIGHT suit is still the best but that's me. At one of the booths they had a full Dark Knight leather motorcycle suit. If I was still riding I might have considered it.

I connected with BitterScriptReader (@BittrScrptReadr) and Brian Scully (@brianscully) but as they just got there, I wasn't sure I could dive back onto the floor at that moment.

I needed a break but outside it was hot and muggy (I actually had rain on my drive down earlier). I headed over to #NerdHQ at Petco Stadium to check out what the deal was. Basically, they take over a large part of the stadium. It's free to the public and you can hang out, play video games, watch panels, buy food or, like me, just sit in the bleachers in the shade and relax. 

#NerdHQ (@thenerdmachine) is run by Zachary Levi (@zacharylevi) and all proceeds benefit Operation Smile (@operationsmile). I reached out to Missy Peregrym (who is now married to Zach) and found out she's in town at the event. We met up and she brought me down to the green room for all the panels. We caught up for a bit, met Nathan Fillion (@NathanFillion) and then I met up with Travis and we headed over to grab dinner and drinks with the Pemberly Digital and New Adventures of Peter + Wendy cast and crew. 

That night, Travis and I headed to the #NerdHQ industry party. Saw Timmy Spielberg (heyo!), ran into Tiffany Brouwer (@tiffanybrouwer) wandered around drinking a Coors tall can and then took off for my hour long drive to my buddies place (seriously, book your hotel early, kids). 

Day 2: I got back down to Comic-Con around 11am and headed on to the floor. I wanted to walk around a bit and check out the merchandise and comics. I decided to pick something up while I was there, maybe a comic, wasn't sure. I mean, I had to make a purchase, right?

I found myself at the Big Wow Comic Fest booth and ended up buying an issue of Detective Comics #395. In addition to being pretty solid quality (VF+) and having a cool cover, this issue is notable for two reasons: 1) I believe it was the first issue drawn by Neal Adams and 2) it marked a turning point in the Batman comics series from the campy influence of the Batman TV series to a more darker, grittier tone. That felt appropriate for me. 

To top it off, Neal Adams was at Comic-Con signing books so I headed over there and had him autograph the cover. Pretty cool, huh?

After walking the floor a bit, I headed back over to #NerdHQ to watch a panel Missy was going to be on about badass women. Appearing alongside her was Yvonne Strahovski, Rhetta, Jennifer Morrison, Sophie Turner and Ming-Na Wen. 

It was awesome. Great panel, Rhetta is HILARIOUS and everyone was saying how this was one of the best panels they had done. I've embedded the clip below. Give it a look.

After that panel, it was time for my own. I headed over to room 24ABC in the convention center. I was joined by Alex LeMay, Jay Bushman, Lara Hoefs,  and Jeremy Azevedo for a panel moderated by Gayle Bass. Missed it? You can check out the highlights here thanks to Travis:

We got to present a short case study on our film RESIGNATION and hear from other creators and facilitators of the fan fiction world. What? You haven't seen RESIGNATION yet? Well, I just so happened to have embedded it below.

Afterwards, by 9:30pm I was trying to make a decision on whether to stay another night or head home but with at least an hour drive to my buddy's place, only to then head home Sunday morning, I figured I might as well slog through it get back that night. In retrospect, I would have loved to walk the floor again Sunday morning but as my mom says, "You have to save something to do when you come back."

And I do hope to be back.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Comic-Con 2014 Panel: Legit Fanfic: How Fan-Made Content Is Good for Audiences, Filmmakers, and Hollywood

I'm very excited to announce that I will be appearing on a Comic-Con panel to talk about my Superman short film RESIGNATION (embedded below). 

I will be joined on the panel by:

ALEX LEMAY, producer of RESIGNATION and Executive Producer at The Shadow Gang. 



STEVE PETERS, executive from 4th Wall Studios and 42 Entertainment. 

JEREMY AZAVEDO, Head of Programming at Machinima.

The panel, titled "Legit Fanfic: How Fan-Made Content Is Good for Audiences, Filmmakers, and Hollywood," will be a conversation about how filmmakers are premiering high-quality fan films that catch the eyes of millions -- and the movie industry, too.

We'll be discussing the evolution of fan-made content, how it's important to filmmakers, and why comic publishers and film producers are watching.

If you're going to Comic-Con this year (it's my first time) I hope you'll stop on by and check out what we have to say. It's schedule for Saturday, 7/26 from 8:30 to 9:30pm in Room 24ABC. Hope to see you there!

Click here for programming schedule for the panel

And to get you even more excited, watch RESIGNATION below:

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Writing Life: Multiple Projects

Image: Flickr, Kathy Ponce
At present, I am currently working on five different projects in various stages of development. I'm rewriting a feature I'm attached to, prepping a feature to shoot in winter, prepping a short film I'm shooting in the next couple weeks, co-writing a feature I hope to shoot in the winter/spring, and writing a treatment for a company that (I hope) turns into a script writing assignment. Not to mention another feature I'm up for, any commercials or industrial videos I'm working on and figuring out distribution on LAYOVER.

Not to mention, as you may or may not know, in December 2013 I became a father. I have an amazing seven month old who doesn't like to take naps or go to bed and is already crawling and standing up.

I have a dream someday about being able to focus on one project at a time but as a young filmmaker working freelance, it behooves me to juggle several projects in the hopes that one will "go."

As such, I am always looking for ways to increase my productivity and make it easy for me to switch between projects, especially ones that are so wildly different in tone. I'm still working on it but I've figured out a few things that help me work on multiple projects at the same time:


I know that writers often hate confining their time to set hours but with multiple projects you don't have the luxury of drifting from one to the next whenever you want. The smartest thing you can do is set up a weekly schedule in a calendar that lays out what you should be writing and when.

In general, my day looks like this:

6/7am: Wake up. (Depends on how Austin was the night before.)
6/7 - 8am: Coffee. Breakfast. Take dog for a walk. 
8am - 1pm: Babysit Austin so wife can work. He'll generally take one nap during this time. During these hours I will respond to emails, read the news, respond to Twitter or FB, look for Twitter or FB post ideas, look for blog ideas, and so on. No major writing going on but I'm always thinking.
1pm - Lunch. Sometimes at home, sometimes a lunch meeting.
1pm - 5pm: Writing/Meetings/Phone Calls. I prefer to get some writing done here but as my mornings are generally occupied, I often have to schedule meetings and calls during this time.
5pm - 7pm: Cook and eat dinner.
7pm - 11pm: Writing.
11pm - 12pm: Read.
12pm: Bedtime.

Obviously, this can vary quite a bit depending on what's going on but it's a schedule I tend to aim for each week.

Then, within those writing times, I schedule out which project I should be working on depending on the priority and where my head is at. Not all of  them have hard deadlines, some do, but I'm also not in a position to just finish them whenever either.


This may go without saying but keeping each project in its own little world, be it a Scrivener project, Dropbox folders, or the multiple desktop screens on a mac really allows you to focus on that one project. I'm easily distracted so this is a big thing for me.

For a long time I would jot down thoughts and ideas and write by hand in a notebook. I like the process of handwriting and I just couldn't get in to the whole Evernote thing. The problem, however, is that a notebook is linear and when you're working on several projects the notes jump from project to project (I don't section out my notebook). So, when you're going back and reading through them, you might stumble on notes for something else and suddenly your mind is thinking about THAT story.

I've recently started using Scrivener and what I love about it is exactly this: everything related the particular project you're working on is contained within its own project file. No more hunting for a file in Dropbox or via email. It's all right there and available to you within a single window (for the most part). 

If you haven't checked out Scrivener it's a pretty powerful tool. I haven't yet used the Scriptwriting feature and I'm not sure if I will or not, but for development its a really incredible tool. The program costs $45 but they offer a 30-Day trial to see if it'll work for you. 


Working on stories that are wildly different in tone, it's sometimes hard to get in the mood to write, especially if you're going from a love story to a psychological thriller. To help move from one thing to the next, especially within a writing period or the same day, I create music playlists for each project. 

For the love story I might be listening to music from THE SPECTACULAR NOW, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS and others. For the psychological thriller, I call up music from UNDER THE SKIN, ONLY GOD FORGIVES, etc. If you're familiar with these scores then you know how incredibly different they are. 

It immediately gets my head into the game and allows me to more easily shift between stories that are very different from each other.


When you create a schedule for your writing, what you're also doing is creating a schedule for when you're NOT writing. Now, as writers, I know we're always writing and always thinking. And that's okay. Time away from the computer is a good thing. When you're doing other things, your mind can still be at work on a problem and often is. That's why people always say they came up with something in the shower. 

But what I'm talking about here is worrying about the writing. And what I mean by that is when you're not writing you're puttering around feeling like you should be writing. I'm guilty of this. For the first couple days I was babysitting Austin in the mornings, I would stress about the fact that I should be using this time to write and I would get frustrated because WHY IS HE NOT GOING TO SLEEP?

I had to change my perspective and attitude on the manner. Besides seeing my time with my son as an opportunity, I also told myself that because I had scheduled the writing time for the afternoon and evening, writing will get done, and what I should do right now is just play with my son. 

We all need a break, even when you're working on multiple projects. 

I'm sure there are far more "hacks" for writing multiple projects at one time. What are some of yours? Be sure to share below or on Twitter @Joshua_Caldwell.