Author Archive

UNDERSTANDING THE WOUND LEADS TO SUCCESS IN FICTION AND IN LIFE

by on Apr.21, 2015, under Featured, Motivation

I am a story and career consultant for writers. Many writers face the challenge of how to elevate the emotional component of their story. If we are not connecting to your story on an emotional level, the story doesn’t work. One way to elevate the emotion in your story is to understand the significance of the wound. I often tell writers to think about the wound that is driving the central character and the flaw that gets in the way. By understanding how the pursuit is one step toward healing the wound, the story takes on a whole new level emotionally. The wound is what creates empathy and a rooting factor for the protagonist. If the wound is in place, it will add fuel to your pursuit and elevate your story to a whole new level. Understand the wound.

In fiction, when this is done well, we connect on a universal level with what is driving the character. In the pilot for The Good Wife, we see the wound up front when we learn that Peter, Alicia’s husband who holds a political office, is part of a sex scandal that leads him to jail. We see how Alicia responds to this. Her personal dilemma is that she has to publicly face the world when everyone knows that her husband cheated on her in order to bring security back to her family. This is the fuel behind her professional pursuit. This creates the question, what does a woman do to bring security back to her family after her husband commits a crime and goes to jail? The answer to this question is the series. She returns to a law career that she abandoned 13 years before. We understand the personal stakes due to her wound. To add more stakes, we learn that Alicia and another new lawyer, Carey, are up for one spot at the firm. So, we know that every time Alicia hits an obstacle in the case, what is at stake personally is her family’s security. What is at stake professionally is if she loses, she could lose a chance to solidify a spot for herself in the firm. All of this stems from her wound. To add another element, we learn that Alicia has a history with Will, the partner at the firm who is giving her a shot despite her not practicing for 13 years. Their romantic history, combined with Alicia’s wound, adds a whole other layer to this concept. Alicia’s wound is a significant part of what drives this series.

In the movie, The Imitation Game, the pursuit happens when Alan, an expert puzzle solver, is hired by the British government to work on a team whose secret project is to break what is largely seen as the unbreakable secret code behind the Nazis’ communications machine, Enigma. If the British can crack the code it would give the Allies a significant advantage and possibly even end the war. Alan has to get the funding for a machine that he wants to build. Alan’s wound gets established when we learn through a series of flashbacks about an experience that happened when he was a youth attending boarding school. Even then, he is seen as being different. and is bullied because of it. His only real friend at the school is Christopher Morcom, and their friendship/unrequited love are cut short by Christopher’s death due to illness. “Christopher” is what Alan ends up naming his code-breaking machine. Making “Christopher” work also represents Alan’s recognition of their secret love. As Oscar Wilde wrote, “the love that dares not speak its name.” So, because of this, we understand some of the emotional fuel behind Alan’s the professional pursuit.

In the movie, Birdman, we see part the wound upfront with the conflict between how Riggan sees himself and how the world sees him. Riggan is a washed up actor who tries to reclaim his fame on Broadway with a new play. Riggan has an issue that gets in his way of success. The other deep part of his wound is the dysfunctional relationship that Riggan shares with his daughter, Sam, who he has hired to be his production assistant and who has just come out of drug rehab. As this is happening he has to handle a new lead actor and try to rekindle his relationship with his daughter. But most importantly he has to escape the shadow of the popular superhero he used to play, Birdman, in order to be taken seriously as an artist. Part of the fuel with Riggan’s emotional pursuit is in getting Sam to see him in the light that he wants to be seen. This stems from a regret that he has starting with the moment that Sam was born and how he wasn’t present in the way that he wanted to be present due to his pursuit of fame. This wound is very universal. It elevates the emotion in the story.

In life, the wound can also be a tremendous fuel in our professional pursuit. In my own story, one of my wounds was caused by losing a job after 15 years with two sister companies. My fear was that everything that I learned from iconic mentors and the voice that I found in giving story notes was no longer going to have value. This wound is what fueled my pursuit of creating Jen Grisanti Consultancy, writing three books, and speaking about story around the world. My wound was my fuel. It was my personal dilemma that played a significant role in my professional pursuit.

Recently, I met with a writer. We worked on a spec script together. She started to tell me that most of her scripts are toward the teen audience. I asked her if she knew what her wound was. She immediately responded and said that her wound was emotional abandonment. She shared the story of a mother who had too many kids too soon. Two of her siblings were diagnosed with things that her mother was in denial about. So, she was forced to be the parent. I asked her about her other scripts. She suddenly realized that most of them had arcs dealing with emotional abandonment and this led her to connect with the teen audience. I loved this! It all came from her wound. You can build success through understanding your wound.

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FRIDAY NIGHT SOCIAL – MAY 1, 2015

by on Apr.21, 2015, under events, Featured

Friday Night Social ~ May 1, 2015

 

Event Date: Friday, May 1, 2015  || Starts at 6:30 pm  || Co-sponsoring with Jennifer Grisanti

Friday Night Social is a networking group that meets the first Friday of every month. It started as a way for TV and feature writers to meet one another and has evolved into so much more. This is a great way to “Network”. Plan on meeting people from different areas and levels in the entertainment industry.  

NEW LOCATION THIS MONTH ~ Please see below for details

IMPORTANT:

Please REGISTER before 10:00 pm on Thursday, April 30, 2015.

 

register_button

 

This month’s Friday Night Social is a free event being held at Pearl’s Sunset Strip.   Please join Jennifer Grisanti and SWN at this new location, the entire first floor, for this month’s Friday Night Social “Networking” event.

Pearl’s Sunset Strip is a bar and restaurant located on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. Known for its menu of decadent cocktails, delicious foods, unique decor and stunning rooftop decks.   Two levels at this location with each level having its own bar and restrooms to make it truly private.

Pearl’s provides a great experience to its guests.   This hidden gem, under new management, is at a great location on Sunset Boulevard,  walkable to everything West Sunset worth going to.

 

Join us at Pearl’s Sunset Strip:

Pearls 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Visiting Pearl’s Sunset Strip, Co-Sponsors of this event ~ (R) Jennifer Grisanti of Jen Grisanti Consultancy & (L) Melessa Y. Sargent, President of SWN)

Below: Photos from events at Pearl’s.

FN1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FN3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FN4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FN5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starts at 6:30 pm – Ends at 9:30 pm

 

Location:

PEARL’S SUNSET STRIP

8909 W Sunset Boulevard

West Hollywood, California 90069

Phone # 310.360.6800

(Corner of N. San Vicente Blvd. and Sunset Blvd.)

 


CITY OF SANTA MONICA:
Take the 10 EAST, exit La Cienega Blvd going North. Merge onto San Vicente Blvd. Make a left on Sunset Blvd.

THE VALLEY
Take 405 SOUTH. Exit Sunset going East.

EAST LOS ANGELES
Take 101 NORTH. Exit Sunset going West.

 


Valet parking is available in the front. Multiple parking lots around the area, including one behind Pearl’s off of Clark St. Plenty of street metered parking.

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SCRIPTFEST 2015 May 29 – May 31, 2015- I WILL BE TEACHING A CLASS ON SATURDAY AND DOING PRIVATE CONSULTS

by on Apr.18, 2015, under events, Featured

How To Write A Pilot That Sells

A good story and smart characters are only part of the equation to impress the powerful people who buy TV pilots. In this invaluable session, unlock the mysteries behind the…
JESSICA’S CLASS
Also, I recommend going to see Jessica Sitomer’s class:

Networking for Introverts

Are you nervous about pitching?  Meeting others?  How do you make real connections to others to help further your career, particularly if you are shy, socially awkward, or petrified of…

 

KATHIE, PAMELA AND CHRIS’S CLASS

I also recommend the Pitching Clinic with Kathie Fong Yoneda, Pamela Jaye Smith and Chris Soth

Pitch Clinic

Practice your pitch on our panel of professionals.  Our Pitch Pros are established industry professionals ready to whip your pitch into polished perfection through feedback and advice.

 

ImageScriptFest2015-04-18_0646

About Us

The Great American PitchFest: BY Writers, FOR Writers

“…Without your Pitchfest the film business is like a building without any doors.”

- Lynn Ivall, Screenwriter

ScriptFest and the Great American PitchFest were created by writers, for writers – just like you.  The event started in Canada with the first Great Canadian PitchFest in 2003.  Twelve years later, the event has expanded to Los Angeles, California and London, England, and has helped thousands of writers from around the globe to connect with industry decision makers.

As writers ourselves, we created an event that we would want to attend.  Every year, our lineup of speakers and guest panelists gets bigger and better.  More companies than ever will hear pitches at this year’s Great American PitchFest.  For the first time ever, there will be pitching on Saturday AND Sunday during the event.

ScriptFest and the Great American PitchFest was started as a way to help other writers move their careers forward, and make ‘finding the door’ just a little bit easier.  Writers who attend our event have been hired for writing assignments, signed with agents or managers, and had their screenplays optioned.  This is a business about relationships, and thousands of writers started those relationships and their careers at the Great American PitchFest.

The Great American PitchFest is organized by a group of writers and producers dedicated to helping others to make the connections they need to get their scripts and projects produced. This entire event is yours as much as it is ours, so please share your experiences with us and help to make it the best it can be. If there is a particular company you want to pitch to, let us know and we’ll invite them to attend. If there are classes you would like to take, we’ll add them to our lineup.  Tell us your thoughts and email us at info@pitchest.com.

 

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WONDERCON

by on Apr.03, 2015, under Featured, Personal tips

Here is the LINK for my FREE E-Book “How To Write A Pilot That Sells” and my Pitch Document Formula.

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FRIDAY NIGHT DRINKS – APRIL 3, 2015

by on Mar.23, 2015, under events, Featured

Friday Night Social ~ NEW LOCATION ~ April 3, 2015

 

Event Date: Friday, April 3, 2015  || Starts at 6:30 pm  || Co-sponsoring with Jennifer Grisanti

Friday Night Social is a networking group that meets the first Friday of every month. It started as a way for TV and feature writers to meet one another and has evolved into so much more. This is a great way to “Network”. Plan on meeting people from different areas and levels in the entertainment industry.  

NEW LOCATION THIS MONTH ~ Please see below for details

IMPORTANT:

Please REGISTER before 10:00 pm on Thursday, April 2, 2015.

 

register_button

 

This month’s Friday Night Social is a free event being held at Pearl’s Sunset Strip.   Please join Jennifer Grisanti and SWN at this new location, the entire first floor, for this month’s Friday Night Social “Networking” event.

Pearl’s Sunset Strip is a bar and restaurant located on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. Known for its menu of decadent cocktails, delicious foods, unique decor and stunning rooftop decks.   Two levels at this location with each level having its own bar and restrooms to make it truly private.

Pearls provide a great experience to its guests.   This hidden gem, under new management, is at a great location on Sunset Boulevard,  walkable to everything West Sunset worth going to.

 

Join us on the first Friday in March at Pearl’s Sunset Strip:

Pearls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pearls 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pearls 3

 

Pearls 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Visiting Pearl’s Sunset Strip, Co-Sponsors of this event – (R) Jennifer Grisanti of Jen Grisanti Consultancy & (L) Melessa Y. Sargent, President of SWN)

New Time for this event:

Starts at 6:30 pm – Ends at 9:30 pm

 

Location:

PEARL’S SUNSET STRIP

8909 W Sunset Boulevard

West Hollywood, California 90069

Phone # 310.360.6800

(Corner of N. San Vicente Blvd. and Sunset Blvd.)

 


CITY OF SANTA MONICA:
Take the 10 EAST, exit La Cienega Blvd going North. Merge onto San Vicente Blvd. Make a left on Sunset Blvd.

THE VALLEY
Take 405 SOUTH. Exit Sunset going East.

EAST LOS ANGELES
Take 101 NORTH. Exit Sunset going West.

 


Valet parking is available in the front. Multiple parking lots around the area, including one behind Pearl’s off of Clark St. Plenty of street metered parking.

 

Admission:

FREE — pay for your own food, cocktails & parking.

**Happy Hour specials!      Check in with us at the entrance to receive your name tags for networking.

**Complimentary finger food will be provided for our Networking Group!

 

pearls_logo

 

Happy Networking!

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STORYWISE © 5-Week TV Pilot Teleseminar

by on Mar.16, 2015, under events, Featured

This is a 5-week program designed to help you write a high quality TV pilot. In 5-weeks, I will teach you how to learn to write at a level that will help lead your script to a sale, get staffed on a show, place in a writing competition or get into one of the various writing programs. This course is everything that I teach in Writers on the Verge and more.

 

Last year we had over 100 writer participants from all over the world. You will not only learn all of the story tools that you need to succeed, you will gain the opportunity to be in a private community of writers. This community is a very valuable resource. You all will have the opportunity to learn from one another via networking, exchanging scripts and possibly starting your own writer groups.

 

I’ve seen the success from this course first-hand. Many of the writers who have taken this 5-week course have gone on to sell pilots, get staffed on TV shows and get into several of the prestigious writing programs. 28 of my writers have sold pilots… and 4 of them have gone to series.

 

The class takes place on Tuesday nights at 7:00 p.m. PST. Each class will consist of a half-hour of instruction (you will receive these videos before each class to watch at your leisure.) Each call is approximately 2 – 2 ½ hours in length. On each call, we will go over the notes for the 5 writers participating at Level #3. You will have an opportunity to read their scripts and make your own notes each week. You will also get to share your notes with those writers directly. This is what we do in Writers on the Verge. It is a way to prepare you for being in the Writers’ Room. Then, five people that sign up each week will get an opportunity to pitch to a guest speaker. We all learn from hearing others pitch. This part of the program was designed to help you learn from the pitching style of others as well as give you the opportunity to pitch yourself. It’s an invaluable tool. Every level will have an opportunity to sign up for this.

 

LEVEL 1

At Level 1, you get to participate in all 5 classes. You will receive a recording of the classes. You will have an opportunity to sign up to pitch to my weekly guest speakers. You get to be part of a private Facebook community. You will also get to turn in a 1-2 page pitch document on your TV pilot script. You will receive written feedback. You have up to a year after the course is finished to turn this in.

SERVICE FEE – $200.00
ImageBuyNow2014-08-29_1048
LEVEL 2
At Level 2, you get to participate in all 5 classes. You will receive a recording of the classes. You will have an opportunity to sign up to pitch to my weekly guest speakers. You get to be part of a private Facebook community. This level also includes a one-on-one consult for your TV spec and/or TV Pilot script.
FOR THE 5-WEEK COURSE PLUS A ONE ON ONE PILOT CONSULT
ImageBuyNow2014-08-29_1048

WEEK 1, Tuesday, April 14, 2015

We will go over the notes for the concepts for the pilot scripts for Level #3.

GUEST SPEAKERS – STACY RUKEYSER AND CLARK PETERSON

STACY’S CREDITS – (CO-EP – TWISTED, THE LYING GAME)

CLARK’S CREDITS (PRODUCER – KAHLIL GIBRAN’S THE PROPHET, MONSTER, RAMPART)

 

WEEK 2, Tuesday April 21, 2015

We will go over the notes for the outlines for the pilot scripts for Level #3.

GUEST SPEAKER – NICHELLE TRAMBLE

(SUPERVISING PRODUCER- THE GOOD WIFE)

Nichelle will listen go 5 pitches and give critiques.

 

WEEK 3, Tuesday April 28, 2015

We will go over the notes for the first draft or first half of the first draft of the TV pilot scripts for Level #3.

GUEST SPEAKER – LEE JESSUP

AUTHOR – “GETTING IT WRITE: A SCREENWRITING CAREER”

 

WEEK 4, Tuesday May 5, 2015

We will go over the notes for the second draft or full-first draft of the TV pilot scripts for Level #3.

GUEST SPEAKER – MICHAEL NARCUCCI

(CO-EP – THE ORIGINALS, VAMPIRE DIARIES)

 

WEEK 5, Tuesday May 12, 2015

We will go over the notes for the third draft of the TV pilot scripts for Level #3.

GUEST SPEAKER - COURTNEY LILLY
(CO-EP – GUYS WITH KIDS, THE CLEVELAND SHOW, MY BOYS, BLACK-ISH (episode), UNDATEABLE (episode)
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FRIDAY NIGHT DRINKS – FRIDAY MARCH 6, 2015 – NEW LOCATION – Pearls on Sunset

by on Feb.12, 2015, under events, Featured, Personal tips

Friday Night Social ~ NEW LOCATION ~ March 6, 2015

 

Event Date: Friday, March 6, 2015  || Starts at 6:30 pm  || Co-sponsoring with Jennifer Grisanti

Friday Night Social is a networking group that meets the first Friday of every month. It started as a way for TV and feature writers to meet one another and has evolved into so much more. This is a great way to “Network”. Plan on meeting people from different areas and levels in the entertainment industry.  

NEW LOCATION THIS MONTH ~ Please see below for details

IMPORTANT:

Please REGISTER before 10:00 pm on Thursday, March 5, 2015.

 

register_button

 

This month’s Friday Night Social is a free event being held at Pearl’s Sunset Strip.   Please join Jennifer Grisanti and SWN at this new location, the entire first floor, for this month’s Friday Night Social “Networking” event.

Pearl’s Sunset Strip is a bar and restaurant located on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. Known for its menu of decadent cocktails, delicious foods, unique decor and stunning rooftop decks.   Two levels at this location with each level having its own bar and restrooms to make it truly private.

Pearls provide a great experience to its guests.   This hidden gem, under new management, is at a great location on Sunset Boulevard,  walkable to everything West Sunset worth going to.

 

Join us on the first Friday in March at Pearl’s Sunset Strip:

Pearls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pearls 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pearls 3

 

Pearls 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Visiting Pearl’s Sunset Strip, Co-Sponsors of this event – (R) Jennifer Grisanti of Jen Grisanti Consultancy & (L) Melessa Y. Sargent, President of SWN)

New Time for this event:

Starts at 6:30 pm – Ends at 9:30 pm

 

Location:

PEARL’S SUNSET STRIP

8909 W Sunset Boulevard

West Hollywood, California 90069

Phone # 310.360.6800

(Corner of N. San Vicente Blvd. and Sunset Blvd.)

 


CITY OF SANTA MONICA:
Take the 10 EAST, exit La Cienega Blvd going North. Merge onto San Vicente Blvd. Make a left on Sunset Blvd.

THE VALLEY
Take 405 SOUTH. Exit Sunset going East.

EAST LOS ANGELES
Take 101 NORTH. Exit Sunset going West.

 


Valet parking is available in the front. Multiple parking lots around the area, including one behind Pearl’s off of Clark St. Plenty of street metered parking.

 

Admission:

FREE — pay for your own food, cocktails & parking.

**Happy Hour specials!      Check in with us at the entrance to receive your name tags for networking.

**Complimentary finger food will be provided for our Networking Group!

 

pearls_logo

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WILL REGRET, SIGNIFICANCE OR ACCOMPLISHMENT WIN AT THE OSCARS?

by on Feb.10, 2015, under Featured

What film will win the Best Picture Oscar this year? Will it be the one with the greatest production accomplishment? Will it be the one that takes you deep inside a character’s subjective world-view and makes you see life from his limited perspective? Or, will it be the story that has the most historical significance?

I love and appreciate the accomplishments of all of the films nominated for Best Picture this year. From a story perspective, most of them were spot on. We felt the stories. We rooted for the outcomes. We were mesmerized by the transformations. We applauded the spirit. We learned about people and situations that contributed to our world today. We connected with the emotional moments on a universal level. We felt the loss. We applauded the contributions. We grew up and we evolved. Yet still, some of the films resonated with me a lot more than others.

At the moment the three major contenders for best film appear to be BOYHOOD, BIRDMAN and THE IMITATION GAME. All three movies are brilliant in very different ways. It will be interesting to see if the voters go for nostalgia and production accomplishment, what life looks like from a limited worldview through incredible cinematic vision or the significance of a contribution left to the world by someone who while alive was never celebrated for his astounding accomplishments.

In BOYHOOD, we see the moments of what it is to grow up, what it is to parent, and what it is to evolve. We see a family start, fall apart, and come back together. We see our own families in some of these moments and feel our own nostalgia for what it is to grow up. The storytelling is not conventional. It is pieces of a life. I loved seeing what scenes were chosen to reflect the growth of the boy and the family. The determination it took to film over 12 years is a mind-blowing accomplishment.

With BIRDMAN, we experience what it is to see the world through a very limited worldview. I wrote a long time ago, “The best way to tell a strong story is to be present when your own is happening.” This idea is reflected in the wound/flaw of Birdman’s central character; his inability to be present. At first it feels like a narcissistic rant, but the story moves into deeper territory. It hits on universal themes with his of regret over a past choice, dysfunctional familial relationships, (the one that seems to cause him the most pain is between he and his daughter, and honestly, their dynamic is one of my FAVORITE parts of the film), his addiction/obsession with feeling validated, his limited worldview due to being manic, his living in what was versus what is, the list goes on. Birdman made me empathize with life from his perspective. It resonated with me strongly because it ‘s about the idea of the moments we can miss when we’re not present while in pursuit of a dream. The way that it’s shot like a play makes it stand out even more.

In THE IMITATION GAME, we learn about the tremendous contribution made by an individual whose intelligence and leadership shortened the Second World War and saved millions of lives. The tragedy is that such a beautiful mind was convicted for the then criminal offense of homosexuality. The precipitating events shortened his life, and he didn’t live to see his secret role in the war declassified and his accomplishment celebrated. This story is phenomenal. I thought every character and every moment was threaded perfectly throughout. I loved how Alan named his machine after his childhood love, Christopher, who influenced him to go into cryptography and whose own life ended far too soon. Alan names his machine Christopher so his first love can live on. The film’s dialogue is witty and clever. The goal is clear. The stakes are very high and we are reminded of them throughout. The subtext in certain moments takes you deep into how Alan Turing views the world and what keeps him isolated. I really felt this story. I loved the quote that was delivered in three different critical moments, “Sometimes it is the very people who no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.”

All three films are tremendous achievements in varying ways and all have great value. It will be fascinating to see if the voters cast their ballots for nostalgia and durational accomplishment, regret over life’s missed moments or historical significance and contribution. All three movies bring us into life perspectives that make us feel the powerful themes of the films.

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FRIDAY NIGHT DRINKS – FEBRUARY 6, 2015 AT BUSBY’S AT 6:30 P.M.

by on Feb.04, 2015, under events, Featured

Friday Night Social ~ February 6, 2015

September 7, 2014

Event Date: Friday, February 6, 2015 || Starts at 6:30 pm || Co-sponsoring with Jennifer Grisanti

Friday Night Social is a networking group that meets the first Friday of every month. It started as a way for TV and feature writers to meet one another and has evolved into so much more. This is a great way to “Network”. Plan on meeting people from different areas and levels in the entertainment industry.

IMPORTANT:

Please REGISTER before 10:00 pm on Thursday, February 5, 2015.

This month’s Friday Night Social is a free event being held at Busby’s East. Please join Jennifer Grisanti and SWN in a “private room with bar” exclusively for this Friday Night “Networking” event.

 

REGISTER HERE

 

What makes Busby’s the best sports bar?  Busby’s food is FANTASTIC!  How many of you specifically go out for dinner to a sports bar in Santa Monica or L.A.?  Exactly.

Busby’s food is not your normal bar grub, although we have amazing Buffalo wings, fantastic pizzas and the “Best Burger in town”.  Super tender, slow-cooked BBQ brisket, pulled pork, baby back ribs, country fried chicken, incredible pizzas, 20 different good Ol’ boy sandwiches & salads, and authentic Mexican food.  A feast!!!  An incredible, comfortable dining experience, while in the background, any game of your choice, any sport, anywhere in the world, is shown on 50 huge plasma TVs for the ultimate sports bar experience.  Busby’s is the only sports bar that serves a complete breakfast Saturday and Sunday and offers a champagne sports brunch on the weekends.

 

Join us on the first Friday of every month at Busby’s East:

Starts at 6:30 pm – Ends at 9:30 pm

 

Location:

Busby’s East

5364 Wilshire Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90036

(Near La Brea on Wilshire)

Admission:

FREE — pay for your own food/cocktails/parking

**Happy Hour special – $4 drinks for our members and guests until 8:00 pm!   Check in with us at the entrance to receive your name tags for networking.

Complimentary finger food will be provided for our Networking Group!

 

Parking:

Parking is NOT validated at Busby’s East.

Valet parking is $5.

There is plenty of additional parking.

 

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STORY: IS THERE FICTION IN ALL TRUTH?

by on Jan.08, 2015, under Featured

I felt inspired to write this blog about the tenuous relationship between truth and fiction because many of this year’s possible Oscar contenders are biopics, (The Imitation Game, Selma, Big Eyes, and Foxcatcher to name a few). Each is enduring controversy about the degree to which historical facts may or may not have been distorted in their telling. I want to explore the idea of whether emotion can be a kind of fiction in all truth. Facts carry truth. However, each person’s perception and experience may add some fiction to what is. Storytelling is perspective, not a dry relation of facts.

With The Imitation Game, there is controversy over the factual truth. As quoted from the article in Deadline Hollywood, “The Weinstein Co.’s has been scrutinized by historians who argue the film, directed by Morten Tyldum and scripted by Graham Moore, beefs up Turing’s contributions to England’s codebreaking exploits, his relationship with female analyst Joan Clarke and the degree to which he might have placed on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum in the name of artistic license.” In the same article, this is what is said about Selma, “Paramount’s Selma, the critically acclaimed account of Martin Luther King Jr.’s leadership of the Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights marches of 1965, weathered a volley on Monday — just as the Oscar polls opened — over its suggestion that President Lyndon Johnson didn’t quite step eagerly up to the plate to help out King and his cohorts in their quest for equal voting rights.”

The question becomes how much liberty is too much when it comes to adding fiction to the facts? Imagination is a huge part of story. Imagination comes from the writer and director. The moment they are hired, it is up to them to bring the facts to life through a unique perspective that tells the story while elevating the emotion. What artists bring to historical events is a different worldview. They are adding their voice and their emotional truth to the events that happened. They add a unique angle. In the process, we get to learn about this events in a flavorful way that entertains while informs. We need to embrace this. We shouldn’t question it. We shouldn’t doubt it or criticize it or try to take away from all that it is. We should relish in how the imagination adds an element to story that can make it something that lives on in our hearts and our minds because of the way that it was told.

The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything are two of my favorite movies this year. I haven’t seen Selma yet. I left these films feeling totally fulfilled on an emotional level. I felt tremendous respect for the writers and directors involved. I thought that they did a masterful job of adding fiction to the truth where needed in order for the stories to work. I did not feel that if I found out that certain facts were distorted or that things were embellished upon that it took anything away from my experience of the stories. In fact, I loved how the worldviews of the writers and the directors merged. The facts of the stories came together and transcended fact in a way that made me feel the events and the message being expressed.

In my career as a studio executive, there was a time when no one wanted to touch autobiographical stories. Writers were told not to write them. Real life was viewed as not all that interesting. Now, there’s a trend toward exploring how your emotional truth can get you work as a writer. It’s about your story. It’s about understanding how to tell your story in a way that can be sold. It’s about how your truth, when mixed with certain concepts, can make them stronger. We all know that life with all the in between moments just isn’t as compelling as movies. Real life story arcs don’t often transpire in the way that fits dramatic structure. So, fiction is needed to make a fact-based truth come to life through various emotional lenses.

I believe that fiction is infused in every story. I think that this is what storytelling is. From the time that we are children repeating to our parents what happened at school during the day, we learn to embellish or add our view to what happened. From our perspective, this may be totally true. From someone else that witnessed the same event; their view may be totally different. The most important part about telling a story is being able to come from a place of emotional truth. Emotional truth is not the same as factual truth. With factual truth, technical facts are given about events that occurred within a certain time frame. What brings fact to life is emotion. With emotion, you get a different kind of truth, a valuable kind of truth. Fiction might be added to this truth. However, if it is written and directed well, the emotion is what comes through, rather than the facts.

When we go to the movies, we all have different views on what strong story is. This is because we all view and experience story through events that happened in our own lives that led to similar universal emotions that we connect with. It doesn’t make one right and the other wrong. It just means that one person felt what was being said and the other may not have had the life experience of a similar emotion to help connect them to the story.

There is a purpose for fiction to be added. Life doesn’t happen in a perfect dramatic structure. Moments of life are worth telling. You have to structure it. To tell a story well, you have to structure it in a way that will allow the audience to understand your message and feel what you are trying to say. To do this, the writer and director have to add their worldview to the equation. So, whether these factual films are sticking to the facts or not, the emotional stories being told are being told brilliantly. We need to celebrate this.

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