What I’m learning about Cover Design (Part 2)

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On day two of photoshop, it was time to take my self taught skills to the test. My favorite show of all time is LOST (First Five Seasons) and figured I could recreate this in a relevant way.

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Step 1: I needed to find a sky. I scoured the internet for 10 seconds and came up with this one. I imported it into photoshop and boom, I was ready to roll.

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Step 2: I don’t know what I’m doing. I needed to find something rocky with a slight glow, so this would do. I imported this too.

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Step 3: I overlaid these two things and then added a reverse image of the rocks and … um, well, I don’t know, it worked. I guess it was time to lasso some rocks.

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Step 4: Presto, chango, here it is. I added some simple text for Lost and used some brushes to kind of add the texture. The Lost text also has an opacity that is around 70%. A light filter was added to make it a little darker.

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Step 5: Witness creative genius. Yeah, I know, you are all thought how would I get all he actors in the shot. Well, I figured I would test the concept and use some Lost politicians. Don’t worry, in order for art to imitate life, I had them all keep their distance.

If I can easily manipulate stuff, so can you for book covers. There is no need to pay people to make it when you can simply spend a few hours and make something that will please you and resonate with your readers.

Total time to make this: Around an hour. The pain is having to use the eraser tool to zoom in and edit what the lasso tool couldn’t do.

SEE OTHER ANOTHER PHOTOSHOP TUTORIAL

TV Writing Contest: The Black List (Part 2)

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So I did it. With a day left I finished my first TV pilot. It was called “No Returns Allowed” and is about a thief. After the blacklist contest time period, if enough people comment or request it, I’ll just post it on the blog for free. The contest is for the ATX festival in Austin, TX which I live near, so I figured it could be a good opportunity (maybe they want local voices). I heard about the contest relatively late (around 3 weeks prior to submission). I asked myself “Hey, remember back in college when you wrote that screenplay that never went anywhere?” I shook my head assuredly and said “Now that you’ve written a few novels and know about plot structure and design, couldn’t you try this again?” I nodded my head again. Okay, I was game.

I came up with the new plot in 30 minutes. Unlike a movie, a TV pilot has to introduce all the characters and the setup to the show and give the hook. I figured out a way to do it, in order for it to be clear what every following episode would be about. I then wrote an arc to what the first 3 seasons would be, with a cliffhanger at the end of each. This gave me a sense of the nuggets I had to put in the pilot.

It took me 4-5 days of actual writing to get it done. I had one person copy edit it for me, but I’m sure there are errors. I didn’t use Final Draft to format it, only the established guidelines of screenplay writing. I also read the pilots of Lost, Breaking Bad and the screenplay to Birdman to see the tricks in those stories. I sensed a trick early on. It seems actors get direction on the manner in which they play their character, and then later on in scripts less direction is given so the actors can run with it. I tried to do the same besides adding pause beats here and there. If you want to read a crazy pilot, try LOST. Dang, J.J.Abrams really gave a sense of the chaos in the pilot. Pretty amazing.

I went on the blacklist website http://www.blcklst.com and simply registered and paid my $25 to upload my teleplay. Then there was an easy to find option to opt it into the contest, which technically ends the 15th of April, however the contest stipulated it needed to be in at least a week. I can only assume there is an inherent advantage to submitting early. I would have paid $50 for a reader to critique it, but due to timing, I figured it would be dead money. I just have a hope and a prayer at this point.

If it did get consideration for the top “5-10” then that would be a good story in itself based on the long odds and having zero contacts in the TV business (The signup for the blacklist has a bunch of blocks for guilds and production history and other TV associations which made me go “um … uh oh Matt.”)

CHECK OUT MY NEXT UPDATE ON THE BLACK LIST

TV Reviews: Lost

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Lost was the greatest TV show in the history, up until the end of season 5 and everything flashed to white. For me, this was the perfect ending to the show. Think about it, after 5 seasons of polar bears, hatches, donkey wheels, a submarine, the tail section crew, the man who didn’t age, the man in black and the man in white, the shipwreck, the smoke monster, diabolical Ben, all the flash back and all the flash forwards and even time travel thrown in, we were all along for the ride.  Watching Jack go from a man of science to a man of faith was good enough for me.

Think about it, since the show runners were never going to coherently explain everything anyway in season 6 (coherent being the key word), having everything flash to white with the logo and us imaging if it worked would have been the ultimate ending. Shit, the end of the Sopranos left us with more intrigue than Lost.

This is why I threw away my season 6 box set of lost. Yep. It went out with the Friday trash. I discussed the show this past week with a coworker and we both agreed with the chorus of fans whose fanboy and fangirl hearts were ripped out with season 6.

You see, I was a grown ass man who even bought the action figures.  lost.jpg

Yep, I know. Huge nerd right here. I mean, who else would shell out $15 for everyone’s famous hero, Shannon. Look at her. Everyone thinks she is relaxing. I think she is figuring out how to get off the island by finding the Donkey Wheel. Too bad she was shot by Walt’s Dad because Walt aged way too damn fast when producers realized this pot of gold was getting renewed by ABC for a few more seasons.

Anyways. Join me. Do the right thing. Burn your season 6 box sets. Spread the rumor that season 6 was only just a dream, then we all can dream together that Juliet saved not only the show, but the memories of the greatest 5 seasons of television ever.