Below are some of the questions I received through Twitter and the blog. Thanks to all who submitted. I hope to do more of these soon!
Kevin Johnson (@kjohnson1585) Question! I’m heading to LA for a few lunches. Any advice on how on (sic) to talk about writing and perhaps seeing an agent? Thanks!
The agent question is one that gets asked a lot, and for good reason – they’re notoriously tough to get. If you aren’t yet established in some form (unpublished, unproduced, etc.) it’ll naturally be tougher. Most agencies don’t take cold calls or walk-ins, and doing so will tip your hand that you’re a newbie—after all, they’ve heard every pitch, line, and excuse from writers trying to make it past the switchboard. If you must, I’d recommend smaller boutique agencies. They’re the ones who are typically more willing to engage a new writer. However, if you are meeting an agent, it’s usually because they’ve already read your stuff and actively sought you out.
The best way to get an agent’s attention is to submit your screenplay to a screenwriting competition. If it’s reputable, the judges will be everyone from agents to producers and studio execs. Everyone you need to see your script will see it, and it’ll be passed around town to other industry players. If it’s solid, you’ll get a call!
Joey Shiraef (@Jos33phus) Would you say writing scripts for games is more challenging than for film?
Both have their own sets of challenges. Video games may have more technical hurdles (animation time, rendering limitations, the mercurial nature of game development), but film isn’t without its own challenges. There may be far less content in a two-hour movie than an eight-hour game, but there are endless rewrites and budget constraints that will keep you on your toes.
Blain Howard (@Blainh) Why are you so handsome?!
Good genes and an accent that only adds more effervescence to my warm northeastern allure.
Donald Tonello (@DonaldT_32) Any new projects you’re working on that you can talk about?
I can’t confirm anything just yet, but 2014 is going to be really exciting. I’m working on a few new features, and I have a graphic novel concept I’m keen to develop in the coming months. It’s all a matter of scheduling, but I have plenty of new projects to keep me occupied for a while. Hopefully I can share more in early 2014!
Tim V (submitted through the blog)
How is writing influenced by the fact that the end output is a game with distinct levels rather than a continuous story? What difficulties emerge?
For this one I’ll direct you to an earlier blog entry titled “Why Screenwriters Fail at Screenwriting.” This should give you an idea of the challenges game writers face.
What were the challenges in writing the R&C movie given that it’s based on the origin story told in the original game?
Writing an origin story is challenging because you want to honor the canon originally explored by the source material, but you also want to make the story work for a different medium. What worked for one medium doesn’t always work for another, so I try to target the DNA of the franchise. Meaning, how do fans identify the universe? Do the characters and humor feel consistent with the Ratchet & Clank games? I hold onto this DNA tightly, and for the smaller mythology points, I learn to let go. For instance, Dr. Nefarious may not have been in the first Ratchet game, but for the movie, I had an idea for him I felt made the story more enjoyable. At the end of the day, our goal is to simply make the best movie possible for established audiences and new ones – and having Neffy in the movie just made sense regardless of how events shook out the first go-round.
Who was your favourite character to write for, and why?
It’s a tie between Captain Qwark (Ratchet & Clank) and The Joker (Legends of the Dark Knight: A Game to Die For). Obviously, the two couldn’t be any more different. Qwark is a lovable schlub while The Joker is a murderous madman, but each one exercised a different part of my brain and made me a better writer.
It was you who made Dalton afraid of cats, wasn’t it?
Dalton isn’t afraid of them – he just hates them. Like me. So, yep. :)