To Live And Write In L.A.: Turning Sorkinese

By Hassel Velasco

Currently Working On: Untitled Beatles Project
Currently Listening To: “Unlearn Everything,” Sharp/Shock
Currently Reading: Sex, Drugs, And Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman

Turning Sorkinese

This town has a funny way of making you interact with the outside world. Maybe it's the proximity to the glamour of Hollywood or maybe it's the way everyone here makes you feel antiquated and uncool. All I know is that I didn't start to collect vinyl records until I moved out here. I didn't start growing this massive beard until I moved out here. I never had a bartender take 17-and-a-half minutes to make my drink until I moved here. I never tried to write like someone else until Los Angeles, this stupid, beautiful, hot-mess of a city.

As I reach the end of the tunnel on this Beatles project, I can't help but think it's quite possibly the best thing I've written. And I know, who is this pretentious asshole talking about how good his writing is? I get it, I'm not Quentin Tarantino directing “Inglorious Basterds” and saying, "this just might be my masterpiece." After almost a year of work, research, writing, re-writing, more research, crying, another re-write, and procrastination, I can finally say I'm 70 percent of the way finished. But then I started re-watching “The Newsroom” and the completion percentage now finds itself in the low teens.

One of the outstanding effects...affects...effects…screw it. One of the outstanding results of my move to Los Angeles has been my inability to be content with my writing. I personally have written more than 25 screenplays, and rewritten them more times than the human mind is able to comprehend, and most of them currently reside in a folder on my desktop labeled "incomplete."

Some of the best advice I've received regarding my Weinstein-esque plan to take over Hollywood has been just that, to associate your potential blockbuster project to an already successful and familiar one. Hence you the reader (or in this case the studio) would know what you're getting yourself into from the beginning. See Weinstein, Harvey.

The best feedback you'll receive as a writer is to make something more something-esque, and, trust me, take that feedback. It's way better than getting the "it's interesting" response.

So how does this pertain to my Beatles project? After the outlining and writing roughly 30 pages, I was given the feedback to make it more Sorkin-esque. Let me tell you, it's been tough. The problem with trying to assimilate something to a Sorkin screenplay is that Sorkin, like no one else, can write the fuck out of dialogue. It's incredible. And it's the reason why my 70% completion became 18% after re-watching “The Newsroom.” Seriously, go watch the pilot. I'll wait.

73 minutes later...

See! The dialogue is fluid, it's fast, it's funny. It's Sorkin. Not convinced? Need more proof? Watch the pilot episode for “The West Wing.” I'll wait...

45 minutes later...

Enough said! And if you're keeping track, my completion percentage is now in the negatives.

By all means, I would never compromise my individuality to conform to any type of specific writing or writer, and neither should you. But let's be realistic, unless you have a trust fund to dip into, you'll need some cash to fund your future artsy masterpiece. And how will you be getting that cash short of robbing a bank? You got it! By writing your next Michael Bay-esque explosion-fest. Until then, make your writing less Velasco-esque and more successful-esque.

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