Movies Student Resources Uncategorized Writing Resources YouTube Film School

Video: Lessons From the Screenplay Talks about Annihilation

I am always astounded by the insights that Michael Tucker has in his Lessons from the Screenplay videos. It constantly challenges me to engage with movies and scripts in deeper and deeper ways.

This is a particularly good one that came out recently. If you like it, I encourage you to go to YouTube and watch more of his videos.

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Criterion Covers From 2018

I love the Criterion Instagram account. It’s constantly updating with beautiful images from Criterion films.

These posts are the covers from the films added to the Criterion Collection in 2018.

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Student Resources Writing Advice

Editing From the Bottom Up

One of the most important pieces of writing advice I heard from a fellow student at Full Sail: Edit from the bottom up. 

This means scrolling down to the bottom of the document and reading it, essentially, backwards, looking for grammar mistakes along the way. 

We all think that our scripts and prose just flow from our brains with perfect clarity, but that isn’t always true. When reading through a piece of writing in the usual way our brains can fill in what might be missing, because we know what the words are supposed to say, even if they don’t actually say them. 

When we read these sentences out of order, we can’t get lost in the genius of our own writing. We’re able to see when things may be unclear, missing important pieces of information, or sections that aren’t properly formatted.

Taking the time to go through your work like this requires you to actually do your work in advance though. So, perhaps consider not putting your assignments off until 11:01 pm on Saturday?

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Essays Life

Trinitite: Beauty and the Bomb

I like to think I’m not someone who is easily frightened, but I do have one mostly irrational fear: atomic bombs. 

I have been told that this is silly, and I agree. It’s called an irrational fear for a reason. But I spend too much time getting elbow deep in Cold War-era spy thrillers to avoid the atomic fear echoing up out of the past. 

People my age, born during the fall of the Soviet Union, tend to laugh at the idea of “duck and cover.” Fallout isn’t death on the wind, it’s the newly anticipated video game from Bethesda. 

Trinitite, a.k.a atomsite, a.k.a Alamogordo glass, a.k.a atomic glass (via Wikipedia)

We’ve almost forgotten that atomic weaponry is a terrible thing. If you’re a Millennial or younger, I’ll just leave you with these links to read about Tsar Bomba, the Demon Core,* the aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the ongoing effect Soviet nuclear testing in Kazakhstan is having on the people who live there.

It’s strange to think, but even the beautiful things that arose from nuclear bomb detonations are tainted by their origins. 

J. Robert Oppenheimer and others studying the remains of an observation tower at the Trinity test site, via Wikimedia and this very interesting Project Gutenberg publication

Trinitite is a mineral found in the blast craters of the 1945 Trinity nuclear bomb tests in Alamogordo, New Mexico. It has a couple different names: atomic glass, Alamogordo glass, and atomsite. It’s a green glass created by the immense heat and pressure caused by the atomic blasts that fused the sand with radioactive materials and pieces of the bomb itself and surrounding structures.

When scientists went out to the test sites, they described the blast crater and surrounding area as covered in a sea of jade green glass. Even though the area was supposed to be heavily guarded and secret, samples of trinitite because appearing in mineral collections. It was thought at the time that there was no risk of harm from radiation since they thought trinitite was merely a heat reaction and not caused by any kind of nuclear reaction at all.

This was… not wise. While not really radioactive enough to cause immediate danger, trinitite was still radioactive. Trinitite was crafted into necklaces and earrings, and advertised to women.

This makes me nervous. While I can’t find any accounts of even the mildest case of radiation poisoning (and a display in New Mexico uses a Geiger counter to compare the levels of radiation between a sample of trinitite and some old school Fiesta cookware.) I can’t help but wonder if some doctor is puzzled about odd cases of thyroid or skin cancer popping up in fans of retro jewelry. 

Trinitite jewelry was also used for a more sinister purpose: as a misinformation campaign against the Japanese victims of the atomic bombs dropped by the U.S. at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. You see, if American women are parading around, sparkling with green jewelry created from a by product of nuclear explosions, how bad off could the Japanese be?**

Back in Alamogordo, New Mexico, the theft of trinitite was becoming a problem. The government banned people from taking trinitite from Alamogordo, and eventually the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission bulldozed over the site completely in 1953 to deter thieves and collectors. 

While samples of pre-prohibition trinitite can be found for sale online, the popularity of the mineral has caused faux-trinitite to be created and sold. While the process of making trinitite can be replicated, only true trinitite contains the radioactive traces that were produced in the Trinity blasts.

Though, if I’m going to choose… I might choose the less radioactive option.

*This is a future blog post unto itself. I have thoughts about the Demon Core. Philosophical and spiritual thoughtsThoughts I tend to think on a regular basis which keep me from sleeping. For another time, though…

**Seriously, this is an actual thing that happened. 

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Life Student Resources

Graduation: The End is Nigh

This is a sad blog post to write, but my time as a student at Full Sail is coming to an end. In a month I’ll be walking across the stage. So I must begin a project that I have been meaning to put into motion for a while…

I have said month after month that I was going to put down on my blog the resources, knowledge and advice that I have to repeat every month to the class I help tutor, Writing Workshop I: Film. So, in my last weeks and beyond, I’m going to be writing blog posts about my experiences and what I’ve learned, so that I can continue to help my fellow students, even after I’m gone. 

I am going to be grouping all of these posts under the Student Resources category, so they will all be in one place. If you have any specific questions, or have a specific topic related to a class, you can send me a message through the contact page. 

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Do not think that you will live ten-thousand years. Death hangs over you. While you are living, while it is in your power, be good.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book IV
Life Uncategorized

The Possibilities of Augmented Reality

I recently found an early access app in the Google Play store called Assemblr. It’s a Minecraft-like sandbox where you can build in 3-d, then drop these creations into augmented reality or even VR.

I’ve been playing around with it, and while it is pretty buggy, it’s very feature rich. There a lot of pre-made elements that you can drop into a scene. You can also build with blocks or other assorted shapes for a real Minecraft experience. The skins and colors are customizable with detailed textures. I’m having a hard time getting the AR elements to work consistently, but I am going to be in contact with the developers because I really, really want this to work. 

The applications for a handheld AR platform are incredible. What if you could have a zero impact art installation in a local park? Or graffiti that is secret? Signage for local business could be revolutionized, especially in cramped, busy cities. You could leave messages in a bottle on the sidewalk that can only be read by people with a certain app. Or you could add to certain places, such as supporting your team by leaving a message at a sports arena up on the wall. Or glamming up a statue in a sort of digital yarn-bombing. You could interact with great works of art and remix them into something original.

But as someone who spends a lot of time at theme parks, I think this technology is a huge opportunity. One big criticism of theme parks is the manufactured nature of your environment. You don’t have much impact over the things around you. Over the years, these things have begun to change. I first noticed it in the immersive environments in the queues at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, where the now-closed Dragon Challenge coasters had a part of the line make it seem like there was a dragon on the other side of the wall ready to attack. Recently, the refurbishment of Disney rides means they have started doing the same, with games and touch screens to keep guests entertained while they wait.

What if, instead of just distracting guests while they wait in line, you build on that concept to build up the entire world of the park? You could have an augmented reality map, with a line guiding guests to their destination projected onto the ground. You could have AR experiences that enhance the settings of the different Kingdoms. A large pirate ship outside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Animated birds flitting around, tempting you to go into the Enchanted Tiki Room. A large billboard for space tourism outside of Space Mountain. Animated characters appearing in Fantasyland and Presidents hanging out outside the Hall of Presidents. A parade float with an augmented reality beacon could have a fire-breathing dragon on top of it. You could have information about different types of flowers in the landscaping during the Flower and Garden festival at Epcot. You could have extra content about the different animals living at Animal Kingdom. You could have AR backgrounds in pictures that can only be accessed by visiting a designated Photo Spot.

And the best part of all this is that it would be cheaper to create than actually physically refurbishing the entire façade of a section of the park. This would allow for the constant creation of new material, which would keep the experience fresh and relevant. Seasonal content could be the Hitchhiking Ghosts dressed up as carolers outside of the Haunted Mansion during the Holidays. It could also enhance the experience of other secondary experiences in the parks, such as the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game, with hints or bonus content hidden throughout the park.

I’m looking forward to seeing how this little app improves. Hopefully they develop a social media component, so you can drop augmented reality blips and have others visit them.

And if the Walt Disney World Imagineers happen to stumble across this and like what they hear, they can contact me using  this form.

Movies Shorts


I am in love with this short!

The visuals are really effective. The color palette is classic for the types of movies that are being referenced. I like the practical puppet for the monster and how it interacts with the actors. The sound track is really good.

I find the idea that these guys are more freaked out by the idea of having a kid than the rampaging tentacle monster fascinating. And this guys isn’t rejecting the idea of children, but he’s having an honest discussion about how good a father he would be. His buddy doesn’t tell him to man up or abandon his girlfriend. Instead, once he sees how much this bothers his friend, he acknowledges the guy’s feelings and comforts him. This could have gone full on frat boy, with a real toxic interaction between these two men, especially when you learn that one of them doesn’t want kids. That would have been the easy way out.



Screenwriting Uncategorized Writing Writing Advice Writing Resources

Prepare Thyself: Plotting to Dominate the Zero Draft Thirty Challenge

Zero Draft Thirty is a fun, rewarding experience… until it isn’t.

The easiest way to ensure that your ZD30 is a success is to plot everything out in advance. When you’re writing a large chunk of text over a long period, the burnout comes swift and it comes hard. Don’t try and make it more difficult on yourself by going in without a plan.

Pantsing vs Plotting

In the great debate of “flying by the seat of your pants” versus “plotting it all out in advance,” I am what is known as a reformed pantser. I believed wholeheartedly in going with the flow and letting the characters tell me what to do.


When it comes down to it, you need to plan out longer work. When I was writing my feature The Patron Saint of Spies, the first draft was done intuitively. I let the story flow through me and went with my gut. I only worked when the Muse was talking, and it took me forever. When I finished, I read through the draft, and I did not like what I saw.

Knowing that, I plotted out my next script (a ridiculous chase movie called Certified Public Accountant) pretty extensively. Even though it was a silly thing designed to boost my confidence, I was amazed at how much faster my second script went to my first. I was able to put out a seventy page draft in a matter of weeks instead of months, and the plot problems I had with Patron Saint just weren’t there.

So learn from my mistakes! Plot out your script before you start writing. When you have a map to go by, you’re much less likely to get lost.

How to Plot

I’m not going to tell you that my way is the only way. Every writer has a way of plotting out story that works best for them.

Some people like being more free. You could keep a notebook and jot down ideas, connecting them in a mind map. You could storyboard major set pieces. You could also put together a loose narrative story. You could also go the tried and true route of putting each scene on an index card and carrying them with you.

Some people work best with a more rigid system. They use bullet points and go through each scene, putting loose notes what’s happening in each place. You could also put together a whole story bible, with every bit of information that you’re going to use for your screenplay.

Personally, I like Post-it notes. I use a pad of little two-by-two Post-its, and put each beat of the story on a note. I then put all the notes on the table so I have a literal bird’s eye view of my story. I can look at the progression of the story, where there might be holes, and rearrange beats as required. If I want to carry them around, I have a folded up piece of poster board that fits in my bag. I just stick my story on the poster board, and then every table becomes a desk.

However you do it, make yourself a map of your story so that you don’t have to rely on that fickle Muse to get you through. You’re going to be busy, so you can’t rely on her.


Site Maintanance, you know what that means!

Still working hard behind the scenes to get stuff figured out.

I am working on putting stuff together that’s going to make posting to my portfolio easier and cleaner. I’m also going to go in a fix some bugs in the theme that have been bothering me for a while.

Of course this means that I am going to have something things moving around, disappearing, reappearing, and/or breaking. If you find any issues, please shoot me a line on the contact page or on social media.

I will also be doing work in my portfolio. I’m trying to find a tool that doesn’t make displaying PDFs so weird, so those might disappear for a while. If you have any interest in my samples, please drop me a line as well.

I’ll try and continue posting with more regularity though, so there’s that. The blog won’t be touched, just everything around it.

Pardon my dust, and sorry for the inconvenience.