Gerald Hanks Filmography

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Adventures At Comicpalooza

While most of you outside of Houston may have been enjoying baseball games, barbecues and beautiful weather on Memorial Day Weekend, some of us put in some serious work before the sequel to Noah's Flood hit the (overflowing) Bayou City.

I attended the Comicpalooza sci-fi convention in Houston all weekend. No sunny skies or green lawns for me; just hard concrete and sub-zero air conditioning in Houston's George R. Brown Convention Center, followed by torrential rains and insect infestations at home.


I spent my Friday walking the enormous convention floor. I visited dozens of tables talking with novelists, publishers, and comic book creators on how to adapt their works into screenplays. Many of these writers have concepts that can launch new film franchises. My job is to help them realize that potential by adapting their work to the screenplay format.


Early Saturday morning, I delivered a talk titled “Turn Your Story Into A Screenplay.” For a talk that started at 10am on a Saturday, in a room situated at the far end of the convention center, with little advance publicity aside from Facebook group posts, I was pleasantly surprised by both the number and enthusiasm of the attendees. A few of them stopped me during the convention and commented on how they felt the presentation helped them differentiate between novel writing and screenwriting.

Saturday afternoon, I spoke on the panel, “How to Get an Audience for Your Movie or Web Series” with filmmakers Chuck Norfolk (Haunted Trailer), Joe Grisaffi (Dead of Knight), Judith B. Shields (Frankenstein's Monster) and Paul Bright (Long Term Parking), as well as best-selling author Rachel Caine (Morganville). I also attended panels with Houston-area filmmakers Michelle Mower (Preacher's Daughter), Carlos Tovar (More Than Human) and Mel House (Psychic Experiment).


Sunday was mostly “Fanboy Day,” as I took photos of the cars, costumes and celebrities around the convention floor. I also had a chat with writer Peter David. Peter has written for comics (Incredible Hulk), film (Oblivion), TV (Babylon 5), and animation (Young Justice). He has also written a series of Star Trek tie-in novels and co-wrote the autobiography of the late James “Scotty” Doohan.

We discussed some of the differences between writing for animation and writing a live-action spec script. While camera directions are typically a no-no in live action scripts, an animation script reads like a blend of a spec and shooting script.

Sunday evening was the screening and award ceremony for “The ZONE,” a Houston-based sci-fi film contest. Contestants were required to write, shoot, edit and add VFX for a short film in seven days' time. Despite the short time frame, several films showed tremendous imagination and technical prowess.

The film I wrote, Breathe Easy, was nominated for two awards. Cara Cochran, our lead actress, won the contest's Best Actress Award. Cara has worked on two other films I wrote, Curveball (2013) and Dreamland Murders (2014). Her work on my scripts has served as both confirmation and challenge: it confirms that I can write strong scripts, but it also challenges me to provide her with memorable roles.


I spent Monday at a screening for Curveball and browsing the dealer's room. (Pro Tip #1: The final day at a convention is when you can get the best deals on merchandise.) I chatted with fantasy author Raymond E. Feist as he signed some of my books. He told me about how his stepfather, Felix Feist, was a writer/director in film and television for more than 30 years.

Although popular media portrays the major comic conventions as showcases for blockbuster movies, they can also be a useful networking tool for your screenwriting efforts. If you live near a major city and can attend a convention, I highly recommend it.

(Pro Tip #2: Don't try to slip a business card under Stan Lee's hotel room door before he leaves town. Hotel security really frowns that kind of behavior. I was just hoping he'd pass it on to Kevin Feige so I can get a taste of that sweet, sweet Marvel money!)

If you need help with your idea, concept, or script, please send your information to storyintoscreenplayblog[at]gmail[dot]com. You can also check out our Facebook page and my filmography listing.

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