Friday, May 25, 2018

Poll: You Can Help Me Write My Latest Script!

Yes, you, my readers, are going to help me with an important aspect of my next script!

No, not Babes in Toyland, or the one set in northern California. I'm postponing those.

We're talking about a story I wrote as a novella before I even wrote a single script. A story I wrote at this time of year in 2014. This is A Place in the Puzzle. 

A semi-autobiographical take on R.J. Palacio's bestseller Wonder, this is the story of 10-year-old Ryan Fitch, who is growing up in Louisville in 2003 (at least in the previous version). After being diagnosed with high functioning autism and befriending two supportive young girls his age, Ryan still struggles to make his way through the fifth grade (and the world). Meanwhile, his perseverance and good heart inspire a celebrated rising music star, as well as his older sister, to create artistic wonders. After a heated confrontation with a deceitful adult troublemaker on the night of May 31, the former boaster, though now more worthy than bragging rights than ever before, displays newfound humility that his peers admire.

I am revisiting this story to turn it into a feature script, but I am making several changes. The first and foremost one, though...should the main character remain a boy or be gender-flipped in the new version to being a girl?

If the main character is a boy, it will break the stereotype that girls are more thoughtful and inward-looking than boys. If the main character is a girl, it will break the stereotype that autism is only a boy thing. So the question is really, which stereotype is more important to break?

Is this story about a boy or a girl? You analyze. You tell me.
Leave your verdict in the comments below.


Sunday, May 20, 2018

10 Things, In No Particular Order, That You Didn't Know About My Scripts

From tragedy to tourney, Seuss to Strongheart, I've created a world of colorful characters in just 1.5 years. I've explored many worlds, from New York to Los Angeles to Cape Cod to San Antonio to the Corporate Sector and everything in between. I've fulfilled my wishes by just writing them, brought a piece of public art to life, and freed an entire galaxy from misogyny. I've even told an entirely fictional story - but all the characters are factual figures! So here are 10 things you did not know about 8 scripts.

1. "The Wish Writer", "Fearless Girl", and "Someone to Bring Me Home", my three shortest scripts, were all written in a single day. "Wish Writer" was whipped up in two hours on December 1, 2016. "Fearless Girl" was written in one afternoon on July 26, 2017. "Someone to Bring Me Home" was finished just a few hours after Macy's released the original commercial, on November 20, 2017.

2. My early character-naming strategy. "Hannah" and "Luke" in Wish Writer were named for Hannah Zirke and Luke Roessler, who originated the roles of the then-unnamed brother and sister in the 2015 commercial. "Brooklyn" in The Sun Shines in Heaven was named for Brooklyn Silzer, a child actress I admired, as well as based the personality and mannerisms of the character on. "Dakota" in Fearless Girl was named for one of Lauren Greenfield's young test subjects during her "Like a Girl" social experiment that partially inspired the script. And although there is a young actress, aged 14, named Shea McHugh who resides in Burbank, CA, and she does have red hair, the Fearless Girl statue ("Shea") was NOT named for, modeled after, or based on Shea McHugh at all. McHugh does however "photographically enact" the statue's human form on my blog.

3. I rate my scripts' quality using the Harry Potter O.W.L. scale. This scale measures quality and has six grades, from highest to lowest: O (Outstanding), EE (Exceeds Expectations), A (Acceptable), P (Poor), D (Dreadful), and T (Troll). Here is how I rate the quality of each script I've written.
  • "The Wish Writer": P
  • "The Sun Shines in Heaven": D
  • "Fearless Girl": EE
  • "Surviving Middle School": D
  • "Someone to Bring Me Home": P
  • "Girl on Fire": A
  • "When You Think About Seuss": EE
  • "One Shining Moment": P
I think "Fearless Girl" and "When You Think About Seuss" are the ones I like the most because they are the two I can actually picture on a TV screen. As for the rest, I really can't.

4. I considered writing Fearless Girl as a children's book as well as a script, and now, the statue's sculptor is considering doing the same. On the statue's official website, FearlessGirl.us, in addition to selling mini Fearless Girl reproductions, sculptor Kristen Visbal has declared: "Next Release: Illustrated Children's Book!" I wonder what that will look like - and how much it will resemble my 2017 script. Hopefully, I'll be able to pay Kristen Visbal a visit the next time I visit my grandparents in Delaware. Visbal's studio is within driving distance of my grandparents' residence.

5. The song "Someone to Bring Me Home" is written to the tune of a jingle from a completely different commercial. A cover of "Everlasting Light" accompanied the Macy's commercial the script was based on. However, I wanted to utilize a song, so I took the instrumental from another holiday commercial, this one for Hewlett-Packard, and turned it into my song. Click here to see the HP commercial. It may help you learn the tune of the song.

6. It says in the actual script PDF that "When You Think About Seuss" was based on the Broadway musical Seussical. However, there is no character in Seussical, or any of Dr. Seuss's works, named Lord Zashel von Mashel. In the musical, the Kangaroo is the biggest villain there is. Thinking it unfit that the musical's two main protagonists were male and the main antagonist was female, I created my own male antagonist, who truly was evil, to counteract the male protagonist of Horton.

7. Also, the young Seuss (Ted Geisel) himself does not figure as a character in the musical. He essentially replaces Jo Jo, a young Who boy (or girl) who also has a repressed imagination that people learn to see the value of.

8. I considered rewriting two scripts majorly after attending the March For Our Lives. "The Sun Shines in Heaven" seemed to imply that thoughts and prayers were enough in response to a mass shooting and that a charity single was the best that could be done. If it had been written today, Brooklyn would rally against gun violence and fight for gun eradication. Also, "One Shining Moment" very nearly had a mass rewrite because I worried that it did not talk enough about the gun control movement - far and away the biggest news story of March 2018. I went back on this, not being one for retcons, a word which here means "rewriting past work to be in line with current work."

9. There are some ideas I never really got around to writing, such as:
  • Father-daughter story inspired by 2017 Audi "Daughter" commercial: Abandoned because experimental test versions of the story's father-daughter scenes too closely resembled the father-daughter scenes in previous script Girl on Fire. 
  • Miracle on Tryon Street (bogus/working title Just Checking): Abandoned because attempts to write down a treatment were not going anywhere.
  • Target Presents The Holiday Odyssey: Abandoned first because I worried that I could not balance pro-commercialism and anti-commercialism messages, then work on this script resumed, then abandoned again because the story utilized too many common tropes.
  • Fearless Girl 2: In which a sexual misconduct case at the NYSE brings the bull statue to life. Longing to finally wreak vengeance on Shea, the bull scours the city for her. Abandoned because I realized I just wanted to write a good Shea-versus-bull fight scene (ending with Shea drowning the bull in the Hudson River), so you can see why I didn't want to write it. 
10. In my more recent scripts, even if characters weren't named for these actors, I still had certain actors in mind to play them. The main roles in Girl on Fire were written for the young stars of Sean Baker's 2017 film "The Florida Project", though I knew these actors would likely not actually play the roles - Brooklynn Prince (not Silzer) as Sheryl Strongheart, Valeria Cotto as Arianna Aspire, and Christopher Rivera as Riley Resister. I also wrote the role of space pirate Erin Energizer for #MeToo initiator Alyssa Milano. 

Christopher, Brooklynn, and Valeria...or, in an ideal world, Riley, Sheryl, and Arianna. Aren't they adorable?





















And in closing, one final note...I'm working on two FULL BLOWN musicals, with all original songs, a written-for-TV adaptation of the 1903 operetta Babes in Toyland, an adaptation which will be more pleasantly sentimental (in the mold of the 1961 Disney film and 1987 Drew Barrymore made for TV movie) than the original and infamously dark operetta, as well as a written-for-TV and yet-to-be-titled fantasy set in and around the redwood and sequoia forests of upper California. These scripts will likely be in the 115-125 page/minute range, making them my lengthiest endeavors yet.

But I'm ready. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Some Family Feud Answers That Worked Too Well, Not Well Enough, or Were Just Off the Wall...(Clean Answers Only)

Yet again, I am doing a post on game shows - this time Family Feud, which has been airing since 1976 and I've accounted for some of the most bizarre answers in show history. So let's cut to the chase, here they are (share these with your friends):

Name a yellow fruit. "Orange."

Name a part of the telephone. "The bottom part."

Name something Russia is famous for. "Russians."

Name an animal with three letters in its name. "Alligator."

In what month of a woman's pregnancy does she begin to look pregnant? "September."

Name a type of bear. "Papa."

Real or fictional, name a famous Willy. "Willy the Pooh."

Name a part of your body that begins with the letter N. "Name."

Name something a doctor might pull out of a person during a surgical procedure. "A gerbil."

Name a word that rhymes with "dinky". "Dwinky."

Fill in the blank: Purple ______. "Nurple."

Fill in the blank: Pie in the ______. "Horse."

Name another way people say "mother". "Grandpa."

Name a man's name that begins with the letter H. "Jose."

Fill in the blank: Pork _______. "Cupine."

Name a man's name that begins with the letter K. "Kentucky Fried Chicken."

Name something you would find in a birdcage other than a bird. "Hamster."

Name something that comes with a summer storm. "Snow."

Aside from your house or your car, what's the most expensive thing you own? "Car."

Name a reason you might stay indoors on a sunny day. "Because it's raining."

Name something that comes in sevens. ''Fingers''.

Name a fruit that comes in more than one color. "Jell-O."

Name a popular Halloween costume. "Santa Claus."

Name a noisy bird. "Chipmunk."

Name a state that begins with the letter M. "Mexico."

Name a country in South America. "Africa."

Name a state with the word "New" in it. "New Braska."

Name an occupation in which helicopters are used. "Tuna fishing."

Give me another word for "zero". "Infinity."

Name a landmark in New York City. "The Eiffel Tower."

Name an occupation that begins with the letter J. "Jackhammerer."

Name a sport that isn't played with a ball. "Bowling."

Tell me one thing you know about Barack Obama. "He's a Republican."

Tell me a bird that begins with the letter P. "Flamingo."

Name a famous rabbit. "Barney."

Name something that inevitably has to happen but you don't want it to. "The end of this post."





Saturday, March 24, 2018

Meet My New Best Friends: Farah, Natalie, Hannah, and Katie

Today I attended the #MarchForOurLives in Uptown Charlotte. It was so enjoyable to be around 10,000 people who all were marching for (about) the same reason - to enforce stricter gun laws and save lives in America (or in my case, to abolish guns and their use altogether.)

But perhaps most importantly, at the end, it was where I first felt connection outside my own inner circle. As the march dispersed, the 10,000 was reduced to 7 - me, my parents, and four girls.


These four girls are fighters like I have written about and heard about...but never really met. Their names are Farah, Natalie, Hannah, and Katie. They are leaders in our community. They are fighting the good fight. And now, I fight alongside them as a friend.

As the chants became quieter and the people all started to leave the city square, there I was, alone, a few yards away from Mom and Dad, alone, with four girls who said they were dance students. Unfortunately, they were not ballet students. Fortunately...they "got" me. They wouldn't have cared if I had 21 heads. They wanted to be my friends and thought I was "smart" and "funny". They were good people with good hearts.

Natalie was the leader of the group, and though she looked young, claimed she was dance teacher to Farah, Hannah, and Katie. All four were energetic, beautiful, caring, and though I disagreed with them on certain parts of the issue, I was able to show I was strong and unwilling to let differences of opinion go against friendship.

And they're probably reading my blog as I write it, as I whipped up a makeshift business card and handed it to them.

Farah, Natalie, Hannah, and Katie are proponents of peace, diversity, and inclusion. They wish life was like a Coke commercial. (Coke commercials are famous for their positive messages...think back to their iconic 1982 spot for Super Bowl XVI, "Buy the World a Coke".) A Coke commercial, minus all the drinking of unhealthy carbonated beverages.

Dear Farah, Natalie, Hannah, and Katie - if you're reading this...I'll be thinking of you when I go on my little excursion in Europe with my family in a few days. I'll be keeping you four posted, and the rest of my readers posted on my relationship with them.

P.S. I feel very confident about America's future leaders. (EMMA GONZALEZ 4 PRESIDENT!!!)




Monday, March 19, 2018

Leo Finelli's 10 Best Fictional Characters

In a little over a year, I have created a world of characters, from New York to Los Angeles, the cliffs of New England to the sports of San Antonio. So here, I am finally counting down the top 10 best characters I have created in 8 scripts. Not all of my scripts are represented, though. Here's the list.

#10: Ari Bellum
"Fearless Girl" (2017)
Ari is a supporting character, not in the sense that he's not a lead role, but in the sense that his main job in the story is to support and mentor other characters. He helps not one, but two girls (one made of bronze) achieve their dreams and goes from the butt of everyone's jokes and an ordinary New York kid to a boy everyone wants to be friends with and truly proud to be a (male) feminist.

#9: Owen Saunders
"One Shining Moment" (2018)
Although I have no idea what the real Owen Saunders is like, in my story he's a persistent little boy who loves to milk his musical talents. He also looks out for his friends, engaging in risky pursuits to help people understand what he does, and he can see beyond the surface of his autistic friend Diane, looking into her heart and seeing that she's no different than he is.

#8: Brooklyn Silverman
"The Sun Shines in Heaven" (2017)
This little California girl is all about this quote: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." That's what she teaches to her friends, and as a bonus, she also has a great singing voice that she uses to remedy hearts rocked by tragedy. I'll bet she is now one of the leaders in the Students' March movement.

#7: Hannah
"The Wish Writer" (2016)
She may not have a last name, but this is an all-around good kid that knows what to do when she encounters a magical pencil that can grant any wish: do good deeds for others. She's also filled with wonder and seems poised to never let her childhood die. She's also not afraid to give up her pencil, which she does to her little brother, who learns kindness from her. She is the sibling role model I strive to be.

#6: The Fearless Girl Statue ("Shea")
"Fearless Girl" (2017)
What would you want if for nearly two months you'd been standing on Wall Street facing a colossal bull that looked like it was going to trample you (but you didn't care) and hearing opening and closing bells at the Stock Exchange? Probably to get up and walk, which is the dream our little statue seizes and throttles. Shea is resilient in the pursuit of her dream, and can tolerate getting help from very unexpected sources.

#5: Arianna Aspire
"Girl On Fire" (2018)
Arianna: the ULTIMATE best friend. She senses her best friend's pain when her friend's parents die, she tags along to help another person achieve their dream, she is supportive all around......and as a bonus, she winds up being quite the star pilot! Any child - or adult - should want a best friend like Arianna.

#4: Sheryl Strongheart
"Girl On Fire" (2018)
Here we have a little girl, only eight years old, who takes matters into her own hands and goes, knowing her life is in danger, to fight for a cause she believes in. She knows right from wrong, and longs for freedom in her world, and when she gets it, she modestly avoids giving herself the same amount of power she toppled...all with the help of good friends.

#3: Max
"Someone to Bring Me Home" (2017)
"I'm standing here...watching your light, hoping that things are all right." Max is me in the sense that his desires to make contact with whatever is out there - and he knows there is someone out there - are unbelievably strong, as well as his belief that he belongs both with his family and "out there", which he finds a way to balance.

#2: Patrick Chalmers
"The Sun Shines in Heaven" (2017)
He may think he is tolerant and accepting, but he is initially neither to those who are not as tolerant and accepting as he is. Patrick grows from a man who crudely insults Republicans/Christians as "monkeys" to a man who, if he were president, would put them in his cabinet. He also relates to me in that he's lonely and misunderstood, and grows to learn that he needs someone younger to see the best in him.

#1: Renegade "Rennie" Rochester
"One Shining Moment" (2018)
Rennie has everything in her head that I have in my head. She is a dreamer who dreams of meeting fascinating people, making famous friends (although that's not exactly me, my siblings beg to differ). She is a strong feminist. She also has that desire to make contact that is ever-present in all my characters, and a supportive family. And most of all...she is an expert tactician that can create a master plan to help display her message (well, her take on someone else's message).

The end. And if you don't understand anything I just wrote, why don't you mosey on over to the Scripts page? It's a few degrees warmer there.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

My Top 12 Songs of Christmas

Christmas music is beloved by many and is a library of festive songs. So, with two days left until Christmas, I'm ranking my top 12 favorites.

(Note: after due consideration, I have decided not to include any numbers from The Nutcracker on the list. These songs are purely instrumental, and are heard often during the month of December, but aren't really Christmas songs.)

(I have also decided not to include Christmas songs of my own composition, such as "Someone to Bring Me Home", which I wrote for my 2017 holiday screenplay of the same title.)

(I have also decided not to include songs that aren't about Christmas but that I associate with Christmas for various reasons, such as "Together We Can Change The World", which I first heard at a school performance at Christmastime, or "Everlasting Light", which was used in a 2017 Macy's commercial.)

So here's the list, and sorry if I made you wait.


12. "We Three Kings" (????)
This ballad of the Magi is such an old song that no one really knows when it was written. It actually has about seven verses, but even so, I haven't tracked them all down. I have also heard the Spanish version of the song, which is confusing, but the minor-key tune, my favorite element of the song, remains.

11. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (1949)
The song for me is just as good as the special, but like the special, there are other songs that rank above it. I relate to the character of Rudolph, only most of the ridicule I have taken in life comes from within. I could really write a whole post about how much mockery and scorn I have gotten from my own self.

10. "Mele Kalikimaka" (1952)
Written before Hawaii even became a state, this song is popularly known as simply "that Hawaiian Christmas song" is simple and catchy. And it manages to use more than just twelve letters. (The Hawaiian language's alphabet has only 12 letters: A E H I K L M N O P U W.)

9. "Here Comes Santa Claus" (1972)
The repetitive verses of this song make it a perennial favorite, but it's the triumphant performance at the end of its original source, the 1972 Rankin-Bass/ABC television classic The Year Without a Santa Claus that really makes it feel...emotional. In the special, Santa is offered a day off by the world, but is much too generous to accept the offer. His generosity is actually somewhat moving in the end.

8. "All I Want for Christmas is You" (2003)
Although this song is popularly attributed to Mariah Carey, her recording is in fact a cover - it was written for the 2003 romantic comedy Love Actually and performed by Olivia Olson there. Carey popularized the song and it is now an animated Amazon Prime original movie about a young Mariah Carey (The Haunted Hathaways' Breanna Yde).

7. "Believe" (2002)
Josh Groban originally recorded this song for the 2002 movie The Polar Express, and it launched his career, although he still sticks mostly to Broadway. The iconic first four notes of the song are suspiciously similar to a musical piece from Elf, and I don't like to think about the same song showing up in the same movie genre within three years, so that's why it's not higher on the list.

6. "Where Are You, Christmas" (2005)
Faith Hill recorded this in 2005. She had done a lot of work for and with Warner Bros., and three Warner Bros. Christmas movies - the live-action Grinch remake with Jim Carrey in 2000, The Polar Express in 2002, and Elf in 2004 - were sold the song for use in their movie, but none of the producers on any of those movies thought it fit with their film. So she just recorded it solo in 2005.

5. "Somewhere In My Memory" (1989)
This is good with words and as an instrumental - John Williams wrote it for Home Alone. It can be played in any way that shows what Kevin is feeling at any point during the movie - it's a very adaptable song that doesn't really have a mood. The scene in the movie gives the tune its mood.

4. "When Christmas Comes to Town" (2002)
Famously sung by an unnamed girl and a lonely boy on the back of a train headed to the North Pole, this is the REAL best holiday duet (sorry, Baby It's Cold Outside) because the kids have excellent vocals on the original recording from Polar Express and the tune is even a bit hallucinating. Megan Moore and Matthew Hall, the original singers, have recorded an instant classic song, but both, strangely, faded into obscurity soon after the release of the movie.

3. "Last Christmas" (1984)
George Michael and Wham! sealed their places as a holiday staple group with this 1984 single, on which Michael played all the instruments (rather well, in fact). An interesting fact about this song that I like to tell people is that immediately after Michael finished filming the music video, he went to help record...

2. "Do They Know It's Christmas"/Band Aid (1984)
Despite dated ethnocentric lyrics - yes, let's all thank God that we're not poor and hungry but these other people are - this song communicates a powerful message, and though the effect is muddled, I still think this song is the ideal way to remind people to think of those less fortunate than them at Christmas. The release of this even predates the more well known "We Are the World", and thus pioneered the idea of getting a bunch of musicians to record a song together.

1. "My Grown Up Christmas List" (1990)
I think I picked this one #1 because it's the Christmas song I relate to the most, being a teenager. Whenever I hear it, I am reminded of Christmas Eve 2014 - the first year I had trouble thinking of Christmas gifts to ask for because I observed I wanted abstract things and/or things that weren't for myself for the first time that year. Though Natalie Cole was the original artist, Kelly Clarkson made the most famous recording of this song. Its one flaw is a bit of a cluttered tune that's hard to remember.

Spotify Playlist of these songs

Finally, a note on Christmas songs I have written - a hoard more are coming in as I resurrect my 2011 original Christmas movie story treatment that you've never seen, "Miracle on Tryon Street" (with a new title, of course - the original title could mislead audiences into thinking it was a parody or whole-plot reference), with original songs. Expect the finished screenplay, which may even surpass the normal hour-long length of most of my scripts, around January 10.








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