Sunday, October 31, 2010

NaNoWriMo: 7 hours, 54 minutes, and 48 seconds left (and counting down.)

  Aagh! NaNoWriMo is almost upon us!!! I'm both thrilled and totally freaked out. :)

  I know what some of you are saying, "What is NaNoWriMo and what's the big deal??"

  NaNoWriMo stands for NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth. The challenge is to start writing a novel on Nov. 1st and have 50,000 words by Nov. 30th.

   Crazy, huh?

   Right up my alley.

   People all around the globe have caught the literary fever since 1999. And I'm joining the ranks for the first time!

   If you write every single one of those 30 days, you have to turn out 1,667 words a day to win. I hope to come to at least an average of 2,000 a day.

   I know this is a very late invitation, but if you've had a novel idea cooking for awhile and just need to get it out, or if you think you'll have enough free time on your hands this coming month, or whatever, maybe you are just curious and want to check it out, the site is

   For the rest of you.... I'll be loosely chronicling my November Adventure here at CQC, so expect this coming month to be filled with writing tips, advice, epic blunders, and more!

   I'll give y'all a synopsis and the working title of my novel tomorrow.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Movie-Making: Indie Budgets, aka Use What You Have

I'm going to digress a little.

(That's funny Abby-- you're digressing and you haven't even started talking about the topic yet.)

Yeah, I know.

But I'm still gonna digress a little.

Because in this post I will be referencing my film, Pirates in the Suburbs (but we'll just call it "Pirates" or "PITS") and I would love to give you a little intro...

does that really count as digressing?


brief history on the origin of PITS:

Some kids in the neighborhood had an idea for a pirate movie one fine, spring day in the year 2009. I got wind of it and offered to write the screenplay for them. It was a casual deal, and no one expected anything to really come of it.

Except me.

I threw myself into writing a great, swashbuckling epic. I had it all planned out-- we would need a ship, a warehouse for the Island sets, weapons, explosives, a bunch of extras, a place to film over at the coast, a dock, a castle miniature and castle sets, costumes, more miniatures, you know... a whole lot for a few neighborhood kids.
I wanted to make Pirates of the Caribbean!

And one day, said to my mother, "So uh, Mom, what's my budget?"

I think she jumped.


"Yeah, Mom. I wanna make this movie..."

After I gave her the general scoop of my great, swashbuckling epic, my Mother gave me the "What? Are you crazy?" look and then said:

"Abby... to make that kind of movie well, you need a studio-sized budget.

And we have no studio. And no budget."

Me- "So.... what do I do, then?" (I was very grumpy upon hearing this.)

A few days later my Wonderfully Geniusly Brilliant Mother pitched an idea to me:

"There's a little girl who loves pirates, and one night after reading her pirate storybook before bed, the story's pirates show up in her room, and she has to hide them from the family."

I liked it, she liked it, and everybody else involved liked it.

Thus, Pirates in the Suburbs was born.

It's only a 33min movie that was shot with a single camcorder over 14 non-consecutive days, and it was my first film. It was not the epic I envisioned originally, but it was a very very good story that was turned into a pretty decent film.

Your point, Abby?

Oh yeah. I was supposed to be talking about Indie (Independent) Film Budgeting, huh?

I'm not here to give you figures and tables and average amounts of money. 

What I am saying is this: to make a good movie, you need a good story, and you need to know your limits. 

My Mom continually said to me, "Use what you have."

We had a suburban neighborhood and a bunch of enthusiastic kids. We didn't have a couple million dollars to spare.

If we had gone ahead and tried to make the swashbuckling epic originally planned, we would have ended up with kids running around with plastic swords in the street and sailing around on cardboard ships in the garage. It would have looked like a kiddie skit caught on camera. You know what I mean??
We weren't capable of making a movie like that look good.

But a story set in the contemporary that incorporates two pirate characters, that, that is doable. And we did it. We used what we had to make a good movie.

So my advice to young independent filmmakers, and even to those of you who aren't filmmakers yet, is make a movie that you know you can do well. Utilize what you have, and try not be in denial about the stuff you wish you have that you don't. You don't have your own film company, multi-millions of dollars, and a mansion in Beverly Hills, I'm sorry.
Neither do I.

But look around. What do you have at your disposal? What is in the backyard, in the attic, down at the park, up the street? What is around you that you can utilize to make a good movie? 

I'm not saying that you have to make contemporary films, always. The Burns Family made Pendragon, which was set in early medieval time, and visually looked very good. But they had quite a large budget for an independent Christian film. 

But what about that great, epic fantasy I wanted to do? And my 17th century film? And all those other movies I had running around in my head that require million-dollar budgets???

Don't worry-- you will be able to make those movies, I promise. Just not yet. Some common, very helpful advice for young filmmakers is to start out small. Make short films, make things that you can do and do well. And as you gain experience and recognition, your projects can get bigger and bigger, and hopefully better and better. 
Remember, you're just starting out; nobody's expecting a blockbuster from you yet. It's okay to make small movies. Really. 

I have a hunch that people think more highly of a well-done short film with a good story than a 2-hour-long attempt at an epic.

Did that help any?

Oh, and speaking of Pirates of the Caribbean,

 The only rules that really matter are these: what a man can do and what a man can't do.
-Jack Sparrow


Friday, October 29, 2010

Welcome, welcome!

Greetings, Well Met, and Welcome to Castles, Quills, and Cameras.

My blog name is The Director; my real name is Abigail; but Abby, A.B., or even O Great One will work ;)   I'm an eighth-grade, Christian homeschooler, sharing my thoughts.

I've written a novel (a royal disaster called plagiarism that no human eye will ever see) and made a 30min. movie (this project was actually quite good-- it's called Pirates in the Suburbs, and there are two copies of it at my library).

Here at Castles, Quills, and Cameras (CQC for short), you'll find reviews and tips on books and movies, an occasional verse or two from the Word, glimpses into my school life, and general randomness besides. Basically speaking, the whole shebang.

Allow me to break it down for you:

The Cameras:

This is the film-related section of the blog. I will be posting reviews of films I've seen, as well as helpful things for aspiring filmmakers; things that I've learned from experience. You'll get advice concerning things from the screenwriting process all the way to the premiere.
I'll also document any project that I'm working on in the film department. You may have to wait a bit for anything like that, though.

The Quills:

This is the book section of the blog. Not the writing section, because there is writing that happens in the filmmaking process, too. So this is the book section, which does cover writing, but it's not all about writing. So... there will be writing tips, but I will also post my own reviews of books I've read.
And just like the Camera section, I will discuss my own writing projects occasionally.
(I know what you're thinking: why quills? Well it just so happens I have a quill pen at home, and I've actually written with it! But seriously, the quill pen and a bottle of ink was the pencil/pen back in the day, so why not? Besides, it was catchy.)

The Castles:

Actually, you could think of it as a singular castle, and then imagine this section as several rooms in the castle. Why? Because the Castle(s) section has more than one subject. Or if you want, you can think of each "Room" listed below as a separate castle. Whatever makes more sense to you, in this case.

Room #1-- stuff from the Word. If during my morning devotions with the Lord and my Bible, I read a verse or a few and had some thoughts on them, I'll post them here to share with you.

Room #2-- school stuff. Yeah, you read correctly. But seriously! I have a "science lab" in my garage and whenever I do an experiment, I video record them. So just in case you wanted to see me make a fool of myself on camera, there will be videos here. (Honestly, I mess up every. single. experiment. And then I have to re-do the whole thing.) And you can laugh at me in the comment section. 'Cause I'll  be laughing at myself, too.

Room #3-- this is the general randomness section. And I'll take suggestions from you guys. If you want me to talk about something specific, email me okay?

Questions? Comments? Concerns? My contact information is here.

And the things listed above are the general, to-be-expected things that you will find here. But that doesn't mean that it's everything. But it's the norm.

Well, I hope I didn't make you lose brain cells. I can be pretty confusing sometimes. I hope this blog is helpful to you, and please! please feel free to comment wherever you so wish. I get lonely sometimes.
Thanks again, and it's a pleasure to have you here; feel free to stick around.