A writer’s journey: Zombie spin-off

October 2018 was when “Do You Believe in Zombies ?” became a finalist and recently I saw potential for it to become more, but of course no decision is ever easy.

Last year was the beginning of a new journey as I became a finalist for the Hollywood screenplay contest for my script Do You Believe in Zombies? Since then I saw a potential for more with the storyline and weighed in on the options to turn it into something more. The first option was to turn it into a television series, and the other option is to turn it into a movie series. Either way, coming up with the route I want to take for the spinoff has not been easy, and it’s a dilemma every writer faces in the building phase.

The script is currently a short movie and it’s a long hard decision figuring it out what route to take with it. The spin-off aspect and getting it right is vital, and something that any writer should take seriously. I never wanted my script to be in competition with any other current zombie shows like The Walking Dead or Z-Nation but wanted to bring a new story to make it unique that everyone can enjoy without comparing it to anything else.

The research and keeping up with zombie shows has been exhausting since The Walking Dead franchise, Z-Nation, and many other shows have many long-term projects. While looking at my outline, I asked myself “how can I pull this off to make it my own in the midst of a zombie boom?”. With many movies and television shows combined, weighing in the options made it harder with all that in mind.

There is always room for more no matter what genre and theme, but the worry of getting lost in the shuffle will always be there when creating the original content. The idea is to stand out and embrace the culture rather than compete and overthink. The last script I made was stiff and didn’t have all the necessary parts, because of overthinking and trying too hard to not be like another movie that had the same theme as the other script.

It will all flow organically with no worries or anxiety. In this case, the horror culture for zombies have been rising to a new high, and as a fan, I want to see it all go down with The Walking Dead and other shows coming soon, but as a writer, I am saying that “it’s time to get moving on it”.

The dilemma is trying to figure out which fits better, a television series or a movie spin-off, because both are great options, but which route is a little better than the other? A similar dilemma occurred while I was writing my original short script. I had to decide if I wanted it to be a book or a short movie script. I went with turning it into a short movie script and became a finalist for it.

The timing is always right, because what’s better than the present right? It is a matter of what to do now with it. The work is ours and there is no right or wrong answer, but just something that feels right to each individual writer. Some writers may say “Yeah make another television show!” while others may say “Do a movie series out of it!”, which is why I haven’t asked for anyone personally with help for this (no offense to anyone who has helped me in the past!).

The unique thing about this whole situation is that there are so many ways to craft an apocalyptic world full of zombies. There are so many unique stories that grab an audience or reader with those kinds of stories. If you always wanted to write about the apocalypse whether it is a book, movie, or show, go for it. There are so many scenarios and each world whether it is The Walking Dead or Z-Nation tells different stories for how it all happened and how they could survive.

The biggest and most important part is to have fun with the process, not just the writing, but while watching what’s happening around you with other writers and shows that are part of the same genre as yourself. That’s what makes the journey so special while writing the spin-off to Do You Believe in Zombies? It’s all about having fun while making even the hardest decisions in the long process to make it unique to your own personal journey and enjoyment while making the piece come to life.

As I continue to plan the outline, I will soon make an announcement for what route I will be taking, but no matter what decision is made, it will surely be something I can guarantee people will enjoy just like I have enjoyed writing it. Stay tuned for more details.

My Best Friends are Wrestlers

As a writer, I found encouragement from very few people, but one source that was unlikely that changed my whole world was becoming friends with wrestlers.

As a wrestling fan, I always had dreams of befriending wrestlers when I was a kid. For me, it was wanting to be The Rock’s friend and hanging out with Kurt Angle. It’s normal to have those dreams of befriending wrestlers, but little did I know, it would soon become reality. A few short years ago, I began writing primarily about wrestlers, while I continued to write scripts. The ones I am closest to have been my closest friends through the process of the college.

My tendency to also get along with women more than I do men made me expand to write about women’s wrestling and the women’s revolution. Coming from a household where my own mother is a strong career-oriented woman and equal to my father who is career oriented helped shape my views of equality. My dad was never threatened by the fact my mom became more successful, in fact, he embraces it and encourages her to go for more.

Very little people know that fact about me, but that is why I tend to get along with women more than guys because I have seen within the women’s revolution (and corporate America) some of the worse from the men. That also led to the best friendships I ever had with strong women wrestlers.

A time when people who are not wrestlers tend to be “too busy” or “just don’t care” can become a lonely road when trying to accomplish dreams and goals in life. The thing that absolutely tickles me the most is the fact that wrestlers who have a long travel schedule and hectic life because of the schedule have been there more. The wrestlers have been there the most through it all.

These wrestlers are still going strong in the independent circuit. I have even seen a few achieve their dreams. They in return have encouraged me to go the extra mile in everything. I have never had that before, and I even had people who attempt to downplay what I do as “common” or “not worth it”. They have tried many times to keep me at an unhappy level. All the wrestlers I encountered wanted more for people they interact with.  In turn, I want to see them go above and beyond with everything with their hopes and dreams too.

I never thought in this lifetime I would ever be friends with wrestlers. I thought it would just be something I would think about and maybe meet a few, like the time I met Ted DiBiase Jr, Cody Rhodes and Beth Phoenix in Applebee’s after a WWE show. It became reality, and to be honest, I am grateful for it.

All the years and beyond from 2013 to now have been me taking a path that so many would discourage, but they have always been there. Whether it is my best friend Shayla Hyde, Brittany Wonder, Fallen Flower Kikyo, or Barbi Hayden. There have been some new friends to come along as well and truthfully and honestly that is what it is all about.

In the ring, they dominate and go to newer heights than ever before. When they aren’t in the ring, they are still helping others propel themselves to a new level in hopes that others will achieve the next level just like they are in pursuit of as well. That is what it is all about at the end of the day, achieving and wanting to see others achieve as well.

 

 

StephA: One Woman Show

How this one woman show won hearts of many others, and why it is a must see series on YouTube.

There have been a few one-person shows in the past that I watched, but generally, I didn’t pay attention to it. The reason was because of the difficulty of distinguishing each character. Stephanie Andujar has done that through amazing voice acting and giving each character a unique personality and mannerisms that make it the best one person show I have ever seen.

If you are like me, you remember Stephanie Andujar from the movie Precious, and have always been amazed seeing her guest star in shows, whether it’s Orange is the New Black, or most recently on Blue Bloods. If you have never seen Stephanie Andujar in anything, and you have no idea about anything I just said, or who this person is, then be prepared to be amazed.

After watching all the episodes from seasons 1 and 2, I wanted to take a small dive into the mastermind behind the lovable characters (especially Uncle Patune and Sofrita, my two personal favorites of the show besides StephA herself). StephA’s one-woman show struck me as something special. I had to share the episodes with people to share the joy I feel watching the show.

Stephanie took time from her busy schedule to talk with me briefly via messages to answer a few questions that were on my mind. We cut right to the chase to dig deep into the mind of the talent known as StephA.

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J.C: What motivated you to do one person shows?

StephA: Well, since I was already acting and did some film & tv work, my sister gave me an idea for putting together a One Woman Show of sorts to show my comedic side. I was originally thinking of the stage, but I wanted to reach the masses and decided to make a web series with me playing many different characters. Hence…StephA:One Woman Show was born.

J.C: Who was the most challenging character for you to play as? Also, who was the most fun to play as?

StephA: LoL That’s a great question! The thing I find challenging with my characters is changing in and out of costumes when I have like 10 characters in one scene! I always drive myself crazy when it comes to those scenes because I have to think of which character to start with and end with. That’s the crazy times lol. The most fun character I would say is Uncle Patune. Every time I get into character with him I can’t help but laugh lol that’s why he’s usually in the bloopers the most! LOL

J.C: What can we expect more of from the one Woman show?

StephA: I’m currently working on season 3 of StephA:One Woman Show and introducing a new character! So more craziness and laughs! Sure to be a good one!!

StephA went back to making season 3 after the conversation. I was so excited after she said that, it was all the questions I could ask after that because as a fan of the one-woman show, I wanted to see that notification that season three has been added on YouTube. I am reliving the first two seasons as I await the third season.

This is only the beginning of the one-woman show. Whether you are watching to see Sofrita and her never-ending adventures. Maybe you like watching Bony Day-Day get into deep trouble in utterly hilarious moments. I dare you to watch a moment with Uncle Patune and not laugh. The main star, of course, StephA has a journey of her own as she continues to chase dreams and live her life with some of the most hilariously unpredictable people around her.

Don’t forget to view this link and enjoy StephA: One Woman Show, exclusively on YouTube and watch seasons 1 and 2. Once you are done, the fun isn’t over yet, because of StephA: One Woman Show will be coming back soon with season 3. Stay tuned for what is sure to be an amazing season!

Be sure to follow Stephanie Andujar, @StephAndujar on Twitter for all latest updates, trailers, and appearances.

Content within was used with permission from 2018 Andujar Productions.

 

Inside A Writer’s Mind: Part Three of Three Series

Submitting a pitch or submitting to festivals is only half the battle, the battle AFTER is a battle of a lifetime

The final part of the series is something that is ongoing as we speak. After the script is done, and you have done everything possible, you hand it in either to a festival or pitch it. It’s a scary experience, and I am trying my hardest to not overthink it. The hardest thing a writer can do is overthink and feel like their work isn’t good enough.

I have handed in 3 short movies, 1 full-length movie, 1 TV pilot. They are all submitted, and some days are better than others. I sit there and think “crap, why didn’t I do that?”, or “crap should have omitted that part”, and I start nitpicking even after I did all I can for the script. It is torture, and I keep revisiting and reciting it over and over in my head.

The self-doubt is normal and is the hardest to overcome. That is truly why having the support of other writers and having a whole community support each other is vital. Every writer goes through it one way or another. A person who does not write will never truly understand.

Since being on Twitter, I truly have met some amazing writers. it is truly a community and a family that sticks together.  I have seen that every time I am on Twitter. The likelihood that another writer is going through the same thing you are going through is high and being there as support makes a difference.

Rejection is a normal fear that goes with anything. You wonder about the possible rejection, and what you could possibly do next to make it all work. It is a learning process to calm down and embrace the challenge and whatever may come.

I mean rejection has come my way numerous times in the past mainly when it comes to the love life, but the big difference is that there is a lot I can do in the future to make it right for my projects (and of course it’s less complicated than a relationship). No matter what, I hope the journey for all writers will continue no matter the challenge of self-doubt and keep pushing forward with what we all love to do.

Inside A Writer’s Mind: Part Two of Three Series

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly side of writing all in one. It may seem impossible, but is it really impossible?

It has been a few weeks since part one of the series. The past weeks since part one was my journey to making part two. One of the hardest things to go through as a writer is a rejection. While completing my script and handing it into a festival, I began to this about my first time handing a script in.

My first script ever, of course, got rejected. It was a short script, and it was my first time doing a script ever. It consumed me for the longest time, to the point that I had to take a break from writing scripts for a few months after the rejection. The point of my writing part two is to show how the negative experience that all writers will go through can be exhausting, but in the end, worth it as we grow.

The first short script that was on my mind, was Simon Says. It was a short script only twelve pages long. It was initially a project, and I worked on it and handed it in. I was told the script was good, and I did what I had to do to the script and handed it into a festival. The script was rejected, and I was crushed.

I had to take time off from writing scripts after that. It is hard to get a rejection for your work, and no matter what it hurts. it’ll make you question yourself. I went through long nights trying to figure out where I went wrong with the script, and for the life of me, I couldn’t come up with an answer. It drove me crazy, and for a good three months, I was not a pleasant person to talk to at all.

As time went by, I eventually accepted the fact that Simon Says was a rejection. I continued classes and met a couple of amazing film writing teachers through Southern New Hampshire University. They not only helped hone my skills but helped me understand a fundamental fact that writing is a process, and it will take a long time.

That was a critical turning point in how I have gotten to this point as a writer. My mind is at ease, and now I understand that rejection of my future scripts could come, but there is always more I can do to improve my script. The key is never giving up and to keep trying.

I always think about Simon Says and how it didn’t make it. It keeps me motivated to write my scripts and make them better. Looking back at Simon Says, I laugh at it when I look at it. I wonder what I was thinking when I wrote that. I have zero intentions to work on Simon Says ever again. While staring at it, I just can’t help but wonder why that person told me the script was good. It was the worst thing I have ever written in general.

It may knock you in a slump for a while, that is normal. A writer’s mind should always have time, especially if they need it. When that period is over, it is the best period you can imagine in terms of motivation to keep going. Turn the bad and make it into the best thing possible.

The final part of the series for the writer’s mind will be coming later, and it won’t take as long as it did for this one. If you haven’t read Inside A Writer’s Mind: Part one of Three yet, be sure to read part one. Part three the final part of this series will be coming soon.

Inside A Writer’s mind: Part One of Three Series

An experience that writer’s can relate to, and hopefully encourages them. This is also for people who may not understand writers, This is part one of three series.

This is part one of a three-part series of a writer’s mind. The mind, in general, is fascinating, because the mind works nonstop, and it shapes up who we are as individuals. The past day led me to this series. I was exhausted yesterday and last night since it was a very hot day, and it takes a lot out of me. I thought I was okay to go to sleep, but my mind had other plans for me.

While I was sleep, I want to say three hours not even went by, and I woke up. I thought it was early morning, but I was freaked out since it was dark. I was trying to comprehend how it is so dark early morning. It was only two in the morning. An idea came to me in the form of a dream, and I wrote that idea down. After I was done with that, I got up and got myself a cup of ice water. The ideas were for an existing script, as well as a new idea for a new script in one night.

I did my exercise of dissecting the plot and doing what I call “Writer’s surgery”, which is putting the pieces together to see where it all fits.  I knew it was a great idea, it was clearly jumbled in some areas. These exercises help me keep my mind going, and it helps me stay fresh with all ideas current and new. I eventually fell asleep. It wasn’t the end of it though. I kept thinking about it and referring to it.

The writer’s mind never stops working, and each writer has a unique mind that works in a million different ways.  That whole night it was like I was trying to put the pieces together to make it into a legitimate story rather than a jumbled idea. It became clearer when I woke up. That all came to me in one night. I am a little exhausted from all of it, even after sleep.

You may feel tired even after having a normal sleep schedule. This may not happen every night (or maybe it does for you), but it is not a burden. It is a gift, a special gift that makes the writing experience fun. The fact my mind and so many writers mind can come up with something twenty-four hours a day is nothing short of amazing.

The next time a person ridicules a writer or even yourself for what you do, just remember you have a mind that only a few can truly understand. Utilize it any way possible, it certainly beats sitting in front of a screen and trying to brainstorm ideas all the time. This is only the beginning, stay tuned for part two of the writer’s mind as I share more experiences for writers and everyone to see, stay tuned.

How Twitter Made me a Better Writer

Social Media is generally frowned upon, and can be seen as a negative thing. To me, it was positive. Here is my story.

I was a sporadic Twitter user in the past. I came back in November, and since then it has helped me as a writer. I have been able to see experiences from close friends, and new friends. Networking is a powerful thing when gathering around like-minded individuals, and being able to see writers, independent actors, and workers of the entertainment field succeed. Some people may see it as a small deal, but it is a big deal and has helped me in a major way since coming back on Twitter. Twitter can help you propel to the next level when gathering with people who motivate and bring out the best in you.

There are so many names that come to mind. Stephanie Andujar who you probably remember from the movie Precious or as the Young Miss Rosa from the hit Netflix show Orange is the New Black. She is an actress who is down to Earth and her knowledge, kindness, friendship has meant more than anything. The journey and seeing projects that she is involved in is always nothing short of awesome and inspirational.

The same case for Nadine Marissa who is part of the hit show Walking Dead who has helped in ways that have only made me better, from tips to just general life advice. AdELA who is a hip-hop artist has proven what love and compassion can do. Nadine and AdELA both since connecting with them on Twitter have been the ones to help and be a support. They all have been an example of the two H’s, hard work, and humility. They have helped develop who I am, and what it truly means to do what you love to do.

There are many people who I already knew prior to Twitter such as Barbi Hayden, Kacee Carlisle, Brittany Wonder, and Kikyo who have been amazing support as always, and if it wasn’t for them, none of what I do today would be possible. Their continuous love and support are what kept me going even during the worse times. On Twitter, they have continued to be a support, and amazing friends despite their busy schedule, and been the greatest friends a person can ask for.

That brings me to a person prior to Twitter who is my best friend Shayla Hyde. Who is also a wrestler just like Barbi, Kacee, Brittany, and Kikyo. She has done everything to emotionally prepare me for every step in my life. For that, I am truly grateful. She has been there prior to college, and like the ones mentioned, way before I ever came back to Twitter. The support kept going, and everything that she accomplished up to this point has motivated me to do better.

There are many Twitter followers and people I have come across on Twitter from Brooke Hogan to Tamara Torres from Orange is the New Black. All of them that have been part of this journey, I am grateful for. Every one of them, and all the future ones that will join the journey later. Twitter has negativity and some bad news that people may like to avoid, but the truth is it can also bring out the best in people when they network. Let Twitter bring out the best in you, instead of letting the worse bring you down.