"The Shrove Tuesday Speech" at the International Pancake Film Festival

Tuesday Nov 04, 2014

Oh, you read that right. The International Pancake Film Festival.

I've written several times about my love of puppets, and have mentioned my love of lazy mornings. Those lazy mornings usually involve Steve making us crepes or cinnamon buns or yes, very large stacks of pancakes. So when I learned that not only was there was an annual film festival in Massachusetts that was dedicated to all things pancake but that this year, said film festival was particularly seeking animation or puppetry films, well... things happened.

Meet the star of "The Shrove Tuesday Speech", a simple Shakespeare-inspired video which will premiere at the 6th annual International Pancake Film Festival screening on Thursday November 13, 2014 at the The Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Unfortunately I don't have the travel budget to pop over to Cambridge, and thus will have to miss my own film festival debut. But if you're in the area you should definitely go check out the screenings, because if you read the poster carefully, you'll see that your ticket includes free pancakes.

Free pancakes!

I think the Toronto International Film Festival has a lot to learn from these people.

P.S. Eventually, I will put the video on my humble YouTube channel for all to see, but I'll let its festival run play out first.

The True Payoff of 24 Hour Playwriting Contests

Sunday October 05, 2014

This weekend I took part in Pat the Dog Theatre Creation's annual 24-Hour Playwriting Contest. At 4 pm on Friday Pat the Dog sent out three prompt words that had to be included in the script and the 30 of us who pre-registered had 24 hours to write and submit a new play. This year's words were tattoo, dig, and butter.

I've read interviews with playwrights who enter these contests with a pretty solidly formed idea of what they're going to write about and then find a way to work the words in. I always do the exact opposite, not giving any thought to my play until the moment those words hit my inbox. On the one hand, that means I always end up with a fairly short one-act, but it also means it's a one-act that I never would have created otherwise.

Not surprisingly, my super-short, unplanned plays have never placed in the various time-based contests I've entered, but participation has paid off in other ways. The 2011 Pat the Dog Contest led to the first draft of Flood Control, which was produced two years later. That first draft was expanded on, but retains the prompt words at its core - shift, perpendicular, and water. Right now, I'm re-writing a Theatre for Young Audiences play that I wrote for a Toronto Fringe Festival 24-Hour Contest which, again, I never would have thought of without those prompts.

While it's nice to have complete creative freedom, I find it very useful to see what happens when there are restrictions on both content and time. I'm sure the play I wrote yesterday won't show up in tomorrow's announcement of the winners, but I think there's a good chance a revision of it will show up on a stage somewhere someday, which is, of course, the ultimate goal.

Interested in giving a 24-Hour Playwriting Contest a go?

  • The Toronto Fringe generally holds theirs during the summer festival (July 2-13 this year); check the website for updates.
  • And Pat the Dog's should run again next fall.

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Why I Didn't Write a Novel This Weekend (A Post for Pam)

Monday September 01, 2014

This time last year, I was sleep-deprived and beginning to panic. That's because I was in the final 12 hours of my first 3-Day Novel Contest. A few days ago I received a comment on my 2013 3-Day Novel Contest Wrap-Up from Pam Bustin, a Canadian writer who's been doing the contest since 2008 and was wondering if I was going to be doing it again in 2014.

To answer that, let's just say I happily slept in this morning.


Actually, let's say a little more than that.

It took me years to sign up for my first 3-Day Novel Contest because for me, the Labour Day Weekend is usually family time. Last year was an anomaly, but if I had signed up this year it would have been a two-day contest at best.

But I considered doing it anyway. What really stopped me was an ongoing writing problem I have, which I even mentioned in the CBC interview I did about the 2013 3-Day Novel Contest:

That is the hand of one of my favourite authors, Neil Gaiman. Written on his hand is very good advice. And although I know he leads us all true, I still can't get a handle on that middle bit.

Finish things.

The book I started writing at this time last year sits on my hard drive, barely touched in all those months. And it is not alone.

I'm at a point right now where charging headlong into a draft of something brand new has a definite appeal, but it is the appeal of sugar and shiny things. I have too many works-in-progress that aren't really in progress at all, because I'm puttering and poking at them, rather than digging in.

So best wishes to @PamBustin and everyone else who's in the final leg of the 2014 3-Day Novel Contest. If I can manage a few more "The Ends" in the next twelve months, perhaps I'll start something new with you this time next year.

But for now, GO GO GO!!! YOU GOT THIS!

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