A Dance to World Peace, A Place at the Table, Chinese Dance, Entertainment Networking Night, February, Filmmaking, International Co-Productions, January, March, Mei Sze Phung, Non-profit Networking Night, Participant Media, Robert McKee, Robert Reich, Screenwriting, Search for writing collabrators, SMART goals, Stephanie Palmer, Summer trip to China, The RAID, UCLA, UCLA School of TFT night visit, Winter Break
Hello to all of my fellow friends, family, classmates, teachers, floormates and acquaintances etc.(everyone is welcome to read this blog)! 🙂
Hope you all have been doing well!
It’s been about two months since I first launched the blog “My Road to becoming a Filmmaker and living my Hollywood Dream”. I am happy and excited to tell you all that a lot has happened since then and that I wouldn’t feel complete if I did not tell you all about it!
First, I will tell you what I have been doing since I turned 20 three months ago:
My fall quarter at UCLA ended on December 13, 2013 (as a transfer student, it was only my second quarter at UCLA, after the summer sessions head start I completed during summer 2013). At that moment, I knew I needed to change something about my life. My friend Ziying and I proposed to share with each other our 10 new years resolutions and count on each other to follow through with all of them (since then, I have condensed and revised them down to 9). I’ll keep them secret for now, but what I will tell you is that working on them and following through on them has brought me tremendous changes in my life: I became more productive, happy, energetic, and mentally strong everyday.
But to boil it down, here are my highlights of December:
1. I made the decision to commit to doing five tasks towards my film dream every day to get it rolling.
2. I created my list of ten New Year’s Resolutions for 2014, printed them out, and exchanged them with my friend Ziying.
3. I discovered the work of Stephanie Palmer (author of Good in a Room – How to sell yourself (and your ideas) and win over any audience and founder of consultant company Good in a Room). Thanks to her book and her blog, I learned of steps that forced me to become clear about what my movie, “A Dance to World Peace” would be about. I learned about how to pitch my film title and logline to my friends and family.
A Dance to World Peace
“It’s a dance/culture and society thriller about a daring teenage girl who attempts to unite the world through cultural dance to alleviate global hunger and create world peace, but she must fight against corrupt politicians who would rather the world be static and unchanged.” (This is the latest version of the logline of “A Dance to World Peace”)
Before I knew it, January came! I will tell you about my highlights of January too:
1. I started my first official SMART goal (you can google what it means for clarification) on January 7th, 2014, and completed it by January 15th, 2014. SMART goal #1 consisted of completing the six steps: Coming up with the film idea, brainstorming related ideas, researching the idea, drafting revised short pitch, and testing the revised title and pitch.
2. I actually spoke to Stephanie Palmer on January 17th, 2014 on Skype for a fifteen-minute session! She was extremely helpful and gave me more ideas on how to further the progress of my film, “A Dance to World Peace”.
3. I started SMART goal #2 on January 17, 2014 and finished it on January 26, 2014. SMART goal #2 consisted of the following steps: Outline the Project, edit the outline, and outline the story.
4. I took advantage of Entertainment Networking Night at UCLA on January 29, 2014. This was a huge event where UCLA alumni in the entertainment industry came to speak with UCLA students. I spoke to about 9 people that night, making connections, retaining business cards and emails. That night, I stayed up until 4 AM to send follow up emails to the alumni I spoke to, thanking them for their time and for allowing me to know what the next steps in my film career dream were.
Time only continued to move quickly. As if I were on a treadmill, I felt myself having make the effort to keep up with the fast pace of time. After all, I only had 24 hours in a day, and about five days a week, I had to attend my UCLA classes, go to the gym to work on my physical therapy stretches, eat dinner, do my homework and much more of the typical day to day tasks one does. About two days per week, I attended ballet and belly dance classes. What was left of my day to work on my film each day was usually only a few hours out of the twenty-four hours of a day, but I persevered and looked forward to those few hours each day. Each night, I struggled to get the 7-9 hours of sleep that an adult needs to properly function, sometimes getting less than 7 hours because I had been in the momentum and zone of working on my film and it was hard to stop working.
Now I will tell you about my highlights of February are:
1. On February 4, 2014 I started SMART goal #3 and completed it by February 16, 2014. It consisted of converting my story outline into a three-page treatment. This was my opportunity to identify story problems.
2. On February 17, 2013, or Presidents’ Day, I started SMART goal #4, which consists of testing my 3-page treatment to a feedback group. For this group, I chose my sister Linh, Ziying, my brother David, my floormate Cynthia, and my RA Anthony. I felt happy to be able to hear their feedback and criticism (from those who I received feedback from so far). Like Michelle Kwan says, “I can take criticism. It’s when I DON’T get any that I worry”. Having been inspired by Michelle Kwan, I am starting to feel the same way too.
3. I took advantage of UCLA’s Non-profit Networking Night on February 19, 2014 to learn more about the causes of hunger, poverty, and homelessness as well as the work that different non-profit organizations were doing to address those issues. I knew that at this stage in my life, it is essential to seize opportunities as they come. Worried that I was on the wait list and might not get in, I went there early after dinner. But I guess it was my lucky day because upon my arrival at the check-in station, I was told that I was actually not on the wait list! So I happily went to the panel and listened to five representatives form different non-profit organizations talk about their career paths and the organizations they worked for. After that, the official event began and I went from table to table to meet and talk with the different non-profit organizations working to alleviate poverty and homelessness. Once again, it was an eye-opener experience because the representatives gave me a lot of information, allowing me to realize what my next steps would be — 1. to commit myself wholeheartedly to non-profit organizations that I feel strongly interested and connected to 2. to experience the hunger and poverty in third world countries first hand and try to make an positive impact directly at the sight because it is a lot about how I feel and what I experience that helps me to write my film script.
4. On Thursday, February 20, 2014, I went to UCLA’s school of Theatre Film and Television (TFT), as my friend Nate had invited me to come listen to guest speakers such as the writer of Avatar, the editor of Scream, and three UCLA grads who made the movie “The Raid” (2011) and “The Raid 2” (2014). I also audited a professional screenwriting class, listening attentively to a the discussion that centered around one of the five students’, Anthony’s, script. I took notes about the details and elements that a script must encompass, knowing that these notes would be important to address as I write my own script as well. My night visit to UCLA’s School of TFT was a learning experience for me because I was allowed to ask questions on what I was curious about. It was also a chance for me to connect and talk with members of the TFT department. I am forever grateful to Nate for inviting me along to TFT to learn that night. I am also thankful the professors whom I met, James Strain and Howard Suber. And of course, thank you to all of the TFT students I spoke and connected with!
Once again, I sent follow-up emails, Facebook requests, and linkedin requests to those I met at Non-profit Networking Night and at my UCLA School of TFT night visit (as I had done so for Entertainment Networking Night as well).
This month also consisted of my search for screenwriting collaborators because I knew that I couldn’t do it alone and would be more efficient if I collaborated with others. Thus I made use this flyer (first made on and for Entertainment Networking Night):
I have posted this flyer around the UCLA World Arts and Cultures Department, UCLA School of TFT, and on many Facebook film and screenwriting groups. I have had several inquiries and people interested, but no definitive collaborators so far. The world doesn’t end here though. I am persevering and doing as much as I can on my own and I believe that when the time is right, I will find the right collaborators. If you are interested, let me know! We can talk! I hope that I can find international collaborators too. My dream is for my film to not only be shown in theaters all over the world over the next few years, but for it to also create a real impact on the world against global hunger and poverty.
Thanks for listening to my journey so far! I know it is a lot to take in! I am happy with my progress so far and have faith that I will continue to progress until my dream becomes a reality.
I’d like to give thanks to the authors of these books:
Story by Robert McKee
Good In A Room: How to Sell Yourself (And Your Ideas) And Win Over Any Audience by Stephanie Palmer
Inside Story: The Power of the Transformational Arc by Dara Marks
Writing Movies For Profit by Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon
Save the Cat by Blake Snyder
Create the Pitch for Your Screenplay by Stephanie Palmer
How to Take a Hollywood Meeting by Stephanie Palmer
I’d like to give my appreciation to the makers of the documentaries:
A Place at the Table (Lori Silverbush and Kristi Jacobson; Participant Media)
Inequality for All (Robert Reich)
My remaining 9 months of being 20 years old will consist of:
1. Applications to a variety of prestigious screenwriting competitions (thanks to the suggestion of my Film Producing III professor Hans Liebing, as well as Weiko Lin and Rocco Pucillo (both of whom I met at Entertainment Networking Night).
2. The Online Hollywood Pitch Festival (my chance to pitch “A Dance to World Peace” directly to film studios!)
3. A summer trip to China with my family (looking forward to meeting people of the major film studios there!)
My year 21 will consist of…
Haha! Just kidding. I will stop here (for now).
THANK YOU SO MUCH for joining me on my journey. I am forever with gratitude to you.
Mei Sze Phung
Have a great year my friends 🙂 I hope that your dreams and aspirations come true.