“I have actually always been quite open about having depression. By depression, I don’t mean being sad. I mean a health condition that comes from time to time and has different symptoms and is very debilitating. I’ve mentioned it publicly in the past, but I have always wanted to write about it. I was meeting many people who I could tell were also depressive, and I was noticing how hush-hush it all was, how there was often a veil of silence over it, and I think the terrible consequence of silence is shame.Depression is difficult. It is difficult to experience, difficult to write about, difficult to be open about. But I wanted to do it. For myself, in a way, because it forced me to tell myself my own story, which can be helpful. But also for other possible sufferers, especially fellow Africans, because there is something very powerful about knowing that you are not alone, and that what happens to you also happens to other people.

Depression is something I have recognized since I was a child. It is something I have accepted. It is something I will have to find ways to manage for the rest of my life. Many creative people have depression. I wonder if I would be so drawn to storytelling if I were not also a person who suffers from depression.

But I am very interested in de-mystifying it. Young creative people, especially on our continent, have enough to deal with without thinking – as I did for so long – that something is fundamentally wrong with feeling this strange thing from time to time. Our African societies are not very knowledgeable or open or supportive about depression. People who don’t have depression have a lot of difficulty understanding it, but people who have it are also often befuddled by it.”

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Interview with


One of the most useful written tools a writer can rely on is a Pitch Outline for those five minute Pitch meetings at the Great American PitchFest.

Going to websites like Moviefone or IMDb can be of huge assistance.  Once you are at one of the two websites, do a “search” for a successful movie or TV series in the same genre as your project. Then click on the link to the movie’s or series’  “trailer”  and watch it.  You will notice that most trailers last roughly two or three minutes (coincidentally, about the same amount of time as a pitch) and usually contain anywhere from five to eight “highlights” of the storyline. This should give you a general idea of the plot points or character revelations that you might want to extract from your very own script for your pitch.

Some writers will compose a one-page outline of their pitch, using brief phrases to describe the highlights they wish to use in pitching their storyline.  Other writers use a similar technique, but divide up their outline into Act One, Act Two, and Act Three, making it easier for them to refer to the outline, should they become momentarily lost during the presentation of the pitch.

I strongly suggest using “key phrases” so you won’t be tempted to “read” your pitch. When you “read” your pitch, you tend to lose the personal connection you are trying to make with the agent, producer, editor, or exec.

Remember that a Pitch Outline is NOT A LEAVE-BEHIND.  This is a document for your eyes only.

Here is a sample pitch outline that could have been used for the feature film AVATAR:

Continue reading

My bestie and I broke up, but then I got her back. Here’s how

Welcome to Besties Week! We’re kicking off the release of our first HelloGiggles book, A Tale of Two Besties, with an epic celebration of friendship and stories about friendship. Read an excerpt of the bookbuy a copycatch us on our cross-country book tour, and share your photos from our events by tagging us @hellogiggles #ATaleofTwoBesties.

In the meantime, join the party right here. All week long, our contributors will be sharing stories, essays and odes to their very own partners-in-crime. Read, laugh, cry (because you’re laughing so hard) and share with your bestie!

Steph and I were inseparable. I know you probably think that you and your best friend are inseparable, but Steph and I gave new meaning to the word. We were rarely ever apart, staring freshmen year of college right up to the fall semester of senior year. Come senior year, I just expected us to be together forever no matter what.

For both of us, college wasn’t really the “best time.” We were ready to GTFO. Steph actually found an out that fall semester. She was offered a spiffy job on the other side of the country, and I knew she was seriously thinking about taking it, even though she was still a few credits shy of graduating. Steph told me she could take the remaining classes online, and it sounded like a good idea. But I didn’t want her to leave me. I had always assumed we would graduate together and enter the real world together, too. I know I told her this a few times, and she nodded like she understood and the topic was always dropped. (Honestly, I also really thought it was super risky to take the job, and I told her that, too)

Steph put the idea to duck out of college early on the back burner. Or, so I thought. Honestly, I don’t even remember the events that led up to our epic, screaming fight in the middle of the dining hall’s concourse. I just know that Steph made it clear to me — whether by accident, or curtly intentional — that she was taking the job, and I couldn’t stop her. She was leaving me behind.

And me, being the always cool, calm, and collected person I am, I responded rationally to her decision.

JK, I bugged out.

Read more…

The 10 Most Useful Mobile/Tablet Apps for Screenwriting

In September, we listed the top ten most useful apps for on-set production. We’re back at it again, but this time it’s all about screenwriting. While traditional software is still the bread and butter of the industry, there’s something to be said for the ability to make changes on the go. Screenwriter Michael Johnathan Smith agrees, telling Macworld  he, “loves the idea of being on-set and quickly making changes to the script right then and there without whipping out a heavy duty laptop—or at least being able to work on a script that’s currently on my laptop at home.”

Yes, there’s the industry standard Final Draft, but there are hundreds of other apps that can help turn an idea into a finished script. SSN filtered through all the options to find ones that offer a range of features and ease of use for everything from brainstorming to copyediting.

Read more

Hunter Hampton has made a name online for himself as a cinematographer and video artist. Now he’s making a concerted effort to finally do the personal projects he’s always wanted.
Amends is Hunter’s first short film as a director, a passion project that began 7 years ago. I spoke to Hunter on a cloudy afternoon about coming up through music videos, how DVXUser was his film school and why shooting on film feels right to him.

Read more

See The Short that Was Shot on the Last Batch of Fuji Film