Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Kyle Chandler's Acceptance Speech (as written by Neil Hoppe)

I tell you what: it’s such an honor to be up here. Never in a million years did I think I’d win this. Hugh and Jon and Michael have been waiting so damn long to win this thing I just figured they had already Indian wrestled for it. I guess my first thanks should be to Bryan for even giving us all at shot it.

I just never thought I’d be standing here. Guys like me from shows like this don’t win this award. It should be any one of you. Hell Michael, you beat cancer, and you still don’t have one. What’s a guy gotta do? You know what I’m sayin’? It shouldn’t have been me. So I guess my second thanks has to go to the academy for even giving me a shot, let alone voting for me. Thank you all.

There’s a whole list of people I’m supposed to be thanking right now, and if you go online tomorrow at whatever website my people run, I promise you each and every one of your names will be listed there. In bold. I promise. You can all go there and see for yourselves who got me here. Do I twitter? No seriously, anybody know? Cause if I do, each one of you that deserves credit will get his or her own damn tweet tomorrow. And if I don’t twitter, I’m startin’ just so you all will receive the proper due.

There’s a whole list of people, but there’s only two I’m gonna talk about tonight. First, there is no Eric Taylor without Tami Taylor. This is not my award. Connie, this is our award. So here’s what we’re gonna do. Tomorrow morning I’m gonna head into the garage and fire up the table saw and cut this damn thing in half. Right down the middle. Then Kathryn and I are gonna drive over to your house and present you with your award for outstanding lead in a dramatic series. It’ll just be a little lighter than normal. Thank you, Connie.

Second. There is no Kyle Chandler without Kathryn Chandler. Baby, we did it. And I’m sorry, but I already gave half the statue to Connie, so you’re just gonna have to be satisfied with my half. I hope it’s enough. I love you.

Friday Night Lights was a story of heartbreak. It’s a story of adversity, setback, and loss. But it’s also of story of perseverance. Of determination. Of guts and willpower and tonight...triumph. It’s a story of clear eyes and full hearts. Thank you so much.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Untitled Narrative Exercise Pt. 2 (397)

Nothing intervened, so I continued yesterday's story.


A biting pain in his wrists. That’s how Joseph knew he was awake—and not dead. They were bound behind him. He was upright in a chair, and from the smell of burlap he knew they had hooded him. He heard a scrape of a metal chair across concrete.

“Where is your friend?”

The voice came from the chair he’d heard. The sound of a file being dropped on a table. Pages turning.

“I know you’re awake. Please answer the question.”

Joseph tried to speak, but his throat was rusted shut.

“What’s that?”

“Water.” Joseph whisper-croaked.

“Water will be provided if you can satisfactorily answer my questions.”

Joseph swallowed to try and lubricate his throat. It didn’t work.

“Where is your friend?”

He started to answer, but his breath hitched in his chest. Tears stung his eyes. He swallowed again. “You killed him.”

Some papers shuffled.

“You fled with a man last night. Roger Weyland. We recovered you an hour after your departure. Where is Roger?

“His name was Roger?”

“Where is he?”

“He’s dead too.”

“Where is he?”

It was too much. “Why are you doing this?”

“Where is he?”

“I don’t understand what’s happening. We made a breakthrough-“

“Tell me where Roger is.”

“-in the lab. That’s a good thing-”

“Tell me where he is!”

The voice’s chair scraped the floor.

“-so why have we been brought here?”

With the hood on, Joseph was utterly unprepared for the blow to his temple. There was a flash behind his eyes like a strobe going off. Then he hit the concrete on his side, still bound to the chair. The voice was suddenly close to his ear.

“It doesn’t have to be this way. If you’ll answer my questions, we’ll draw this interview to a conclusion.”

His left side screamed from the uncushioned fall. His ears were ringing. There was blood in his mouth. He’d bit his tongue.

“Where is Roger Weyland?”

Joseph whispered, “he..he fell…into a ravine…off a cliff. We were running and it was dark and he…fell. Please may I have some water?”

The voice stood up. “We will check the ravine. If we find him, your situation will improve.” The implied threat—if they did not find him—hung in the air.

Joseph heard the file gathered off the desk. A door opened. Footsteps. The door closed. He was alone.

He started to cry.


In many ways I feel like Joseph lying on my side, tied to that chair with the hood on. I need your feedback. Tell me if it sucks. And if it does, tell me why.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

A Really Bad Attempt at a Narrative Exercise (464)

It was bound to happen. I knew there would be a day I’d be loathe to post what I wrote. I’ve half-consciously been putting off writing anything narrative. I just didn’t feel “ready.” But without anything else to bs about, I figured it was time. So I cobbled together an exercise for myself.

I set the clock for an hour, and used these four websites to generate my elements.

Wikipedia.org (random article): Fort Klamath, Oregon (an unincorporated community in the middle of nowhere)

http://www.quotationspage.com/random.php3: (last quote on the first page) “The important thing is not to stop questioning” –Albert Einstein

http://storytoolz.com/generator/idea: Revolt

http://www.behindthename.com/random: Joseph

Here’s what came out in the hour:

“The important thing is not to stop questioning.”

The sweat and blood from their flight from the compound made his hands slick. Joseph gripped the man’s hands as best he could, but he could feel the man’s fingers sliding out of his. His heart pounded and he had a stitch in his side, but he redoubled his efforts to keep the man from falling.

“Please…You have to help...I can’t hold on.”

“Everything they’ve told us is lies.”

In the distance, Joseph could hear the dogs.

“They’re coming! We’ve got to…”

One hand popped free.

Joseph begged, “Please. Try to pull yourself up. I can’t…”

“Look at me!”

Joseph stopped struggling and met the man’s burning gaze.

“If you stop. They win.”

Joseph stared helplessly back. The man seemed satisfied.

”Now run.” The man let go. He slipped without a sigh into the inky chasm.

One heartbeat. Five. Dogs barking.

Joseph lurched to his feet and stumbled blindly through the brambles. He tried to run in a straight line, keeping the gorge to his left, but without any light he soon lost all sense of direction. He hoped each step wouldn’t end in space.

This wasn’t happening. It couldn’t be. Not twenty-four hours had passed since they’d made the breakthrough in the lab. Years of research, countless failed tests. Then suddenly…They’d barely gotten the cork out of the champagne when the helicopter arrived and whisked them away to a secure location to “replicate the process and begin implementing a vaccine protocol.” Fort Klamath was a secure facility, but not the kind with a lab.

His legs were quivering and the stitch had grown a twin on the other side. But still Joseph ran. He thought the sound of the dogs might be receding when he slammed headlong into a large, metal something, knocking him flat. Whatever it was gonged with his impact. His head swam and as he struggled to clear it, he thought he might vomit. Somewhere close by a hatch opened.

“It’s him.”

He felt the pinch of the electrode and the first metallic wave of electricity before everything went black.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

428 Words On Network TV over at Jumppunched.com

Tuesdays have become Jumppunched days for me. Head over there to read my open letter to Network Executives on the state of Network Television.

Monday, 31 January 2011

473 Not Very Good Words on Success (& all that other stuff)

Preface: I wrote some good blogs last week. This is not one of them. They can’t all be winners.

“What does that kind of risk look like?”

I’m in a men’s group that meets regularly to talk about, well, everything. It’s not a Bible study and it’s not an accountability group. It’s a life examination, a place where no question is out of bounds, and the only answers required are honest ones. We were meeting a couple of weeks back and I was talking about my life—hopes and disappointments, possibilities. One of the guys looked at me and asked, “what is ‘success’ for you?”

I couldn’t answer him. But after this meander through risk/failure/inspiration/work I thought I could put words to it. Over the weekend I thought about it and planned to write it today. Then Donald Miller went and wrote it for me.

Or rather, I should say that’s what I’d like my definition to be. With all respect Mr. Miller, but it’s easier for that to be true when you’ve already written a best seller.

But then again, success is a head game. How much is enough? Are you ever satisfied? Is it even healthy to strive for success? Shouldn’t it be enough to earn a decent wage and raise my kids in health and safety?

Head game.

The truth is that while I should be satisfied with what I have and call it success, I’m not. I want a WGA. I want a Pulitzer. I want to be a Show Runner. Is that very Christian of me?

I know I was made to tell stories. I know I haven’t told the really good ones yet. I can feel them, rumbling around in the basement, snorting with impatience, waiting to see the light of day.

So if I haven’t met with success yet, and if my problem is that I don’t risk enough, where do I begin?

I let it drop a few days back that I have a goal of four feature-length scripts this year. Two for stage and two for screen. I have the idea for one, and the genre for another. I also let it drop that I’m going to write one here, on the blog.

Since I first started blogging, I always held my best ideas back, because I wanted to “make something of them.” We see how far that’s gotten me. So I’m throwing it out. I’m going to take (in my mind) a monumental risk and write a script in front of you in real time. Wide open to your comments, critique, ridicule and possible theft.

Although blogging in the traditional sense (you know, thought vomit, or “personal observation”) is good for me, I’m a dialogue writer. That’s what I should be doing.

One big risk that (hopefully) leads to one small success.

Friday, 28 January 2011

363 Words to Round Out The Week (About Inspiration & Work)

I like this commercial from ESPN. It’s pretty simple. If you want to play on the big stage, you have to do the work to get there.

I’m doing that ridiculous workout program you see on infomercials late at night right now. In fact, I’m nine days from finishing my first ninety day circuit. (And I’m going to do it again.) When I started the program, I couldn’t do very many push-ups. But every week I worked at them. Now in week twelve I can do quadruple the number I could in week one.

The same is true being a creative. The fundamental thing that always held me back from writing anything was my desire for it to be perfect. But how could it be perfect if I never worked at it? It’s taken me WAY too long to realize this simple truth.

The last definition for inspiration is “an act of breathing in; an inhalation.” I like that a lot.

The body requires oxygen. I learned why in eighth grade science but I can’t recall now, so I just accept that it does. Inspiration in the physiological sense is the oxygen delivery process for the lungs, which in turn passes it on to the blood and so on. Inspiration in the creative sense is the catalyst delivery process for the mind. The thing I like most about this last definition is the implied constancy of it. We are always breathing. Constant inspiration. The day we stop is the day we die.

We are always breathing.

Inspiration is inevitable. Because we are created as emotional beings, we will always intersect with catalysts that send us into that transcendent state. That’s a comforting thought. Before I was always afraid of not being inspired. Now I live confidently that inspiration is always right around the next corner. Always in the next breath.

“What is the result inspiration produces?” If I’ve done the work to play on the big stage, if I’ve placed myself in the path of success, loaded for bear with a double-barrel full of words, full of rhythm and syntax and structure…

I’m working to be ready for that next breath.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

497 More Words on Inspiration (& Work)

I spent the better part of the last twenty years waiting to be inspired to write something awesome. I didn’t get a whole lot written. Sure, I started a bunch of stuff, but I could never finish it. The inspiration (that feeling of invincibility derived from a catalyst) would run out and I would wait for the next catalyst to push me further down road.

What a complete waste.

Then in the last few years I started digging deeper into the craft of writing. I spent more time thinking about and working on the mechanics of good writing, rather than relying on talent and waiting for inspiration. In 2010 (in addition to all the stuff I wrote for work) I wrote a both a feature-length screenplay and stage play. I was inspired to write both, but finished them through perseverance, through pushing through that place where there’s no more inspiration and only a mountain of words left to write.

Because if there’s one thing that’s been beaten into me about living and working as a creative, it’s that it’s a habit. You have to get up and do it whether you feel like it or not. Inspiration has little to do with it. It is hard, painstaking, gutting-it-out work. Inspiration has its place as the jumping off point (see the definition: “a sudden brilliant, creative or timely idea), but inspiration is a fleeting emotion that doesn’t get you through the dark night of the soul. (Donald Miller has touched recently on this too. Here and Here.)

The question then, I don’t think should be “what inspires you?” It can actually be counterproductive. We find something we think is the bee’s knees and can’t wait to share with people but when we do we hardly ever get the desired response. A “yeah…cool” at the most. We get our feeling hurt because they didn’t get it. If this happens enough we get bitter. Inspiration wasted. Lord knows I’ve lost plenty of good ideas that way.

So I think it’s important to recognize that the inspiration you experience is for you. It’s your rocket fuel to break out of the centripetal force that’s holding you where you are, but it’s only the stage one booster of breaking orbit. You have to maintain your trajectory after lift off. Stage two. This question I believe, is the important one: “what is the result inspiration produces?”

In that earlier series I wrote, I talked about that symbiotic relationship between faith and inspiration. I believe they are inexorably linked. You can’t have one without the other. The next logical step (for faith and creativity) is found in James. As paraphrased by Rich Mullins: “Faith without works, it just ain’t happening.”

I plan to double my output this year. Two screenplays. Two plays. And I plan on writing at least one of them here in front of you. I have not an ounce of inspiration for any of these four projects.

That’s also for later.