Jason Mittleman

Jason Mittleman is a Writer, Producer and Director Working in Los Angeles, CA.

Thoughts On Writing A Feature

I have been working on a script called GROUPIES with my writing partner Travis off and on for about 3 years. The work that goes into writing a feature is endless. The story is always evolving, and you're never actually finished. But after 5 drafts it is finally in a place where I am comfortable saying, "Hey, this doesn't suck. I could maybe see this as a movie. Why not?"

Thoughts on the writing process...

Damn I love my writing partner. When you go see a comedy in the movie theater, if you look at the credits, it's usually written by two people. That's because whether it's a writing partner, your mom, or Siri, having someone to riff, bounce and heighten ideas off of when writing comedy is essential.

Every writing team's process is different. Ours goes something like this: 

First, we break the story together. In the same room. Always. This part of the process requires an energy that I believe can't be done over skype or e-mail. We outline beat by beat. This takes anywhere from two weeks to a month, and it is my favorite part of the writing process. Starting from nothing, we completely shape the world and flesh out the characters that will inhabit it. We give them backstories. Wants. Needs. Goals. Flaws. Quirks. We come up with set pieces and pitch on jokes. It is non-stop creating. Non-stop trying to make each other laugh. I love it. It is the best. It is fun. 

Then comes the not so fun part. Writing. I know I probably shouldn't say this as a writer, but "writing" might be my least favorite part of writing (that made sense in my head). So, this part of the process goes like this. After we outline, we start writing out each scene. When we can, we write together, but more often we're each tackling different scenes, sending them back and forth, re-writing each other as we go. Since we spent all of the time in the beginning in a mind-meld working on the outline together, it's easy for us to remain on the same page. We both have a strong sense of the tone and where we need the story to go.

The first draft of each scene usually has comically bad dialogue. I would never show someone a first draft. It's pretty much just us vomiting onto the page. Some people call this a "Scriptment." It's kind of a half-treatment, half-script, half-deformed baby. But as we continue to re-write each other, tackling the script one scene at a time, the dialogue becomes better, the subtext becomes subtext and the whole thing starts to feel like a much cuter baby, no longer deformed, just chubby. And by the time we have a finished draft, we've basically already done a re-write. Then we re-write and trim. Re-write and trim. Re-write and trim (did I mention this is really, really hard and makes me want to cry?) until finally we have something we're both proud to be the fathers of. 

Ryan Gosling's Head On A Baby

We make it a goal to try to write 7 pages a day. I think the most we've ever written in a day is 12 (there was a lot of soda consumed). And the least is -3 (there was a lot of soda consumed). 

This is the second feature we've written together, and this process has worked well both times. (Our other feature only took around 3 months to write, but we were both working on it full-time. Maybe I'll blog about that sometime, I know you're excited).

Also, big thanks to the wonderful Jenn for allowing me to have an equal share of her boyfriend, and for making us tacos! 

Thoughts on the business...

If anything this experience gave me the tiniest bit of perspective on how much work goes into making a feature film. It's taken over 3 years to get this script to a place where it can even be considered by someone who might be interested in making this movie. That's just the writer's draft of the script. If this movie were to get made (I'm a dreamer) there would be a development period, where we would re-write the script for a studio, producer or director. This process could take years. Then there would be Pre-Production. Production. Post-production. That's at least a year. If it's an indie, then we go to festivals and look for a distributor, which could take another year. I lost track of how many years that is, but you get the point.

Basically, actually getting a movie released in theaters defies the laws of physics, or God, or whatever you believe in. And I have the ultimate respect for filmmakers who have the persistence to take something from idea to screen. 

Thoughts on the new season of Game Of Thrones...

It's really fucking good. White Walkers come from human babies? I am terrified.

Anyway.  I hope people enjoy it and I hope it makes people laugh.

 Jason Mittleman © 2017.  All Rights Reserved.  All Of Them.