Playwright Michael Weems has a super-simple procedure for creating successful new work:
- Receive inspiration
- Scribble down inspiration as to not forget (especially when it arrives in transit, in sleep, or in the shower)
- Review scribbling and decide if the idea is best suited for a film, a short play, web series or longer play
- Start writing and keep writing until it makes sense
- Send first draft to in-house-editor/better half/wife (Christine Weems)
- If the response is negative, keep writing
- If the response if positive, assemble actor friends in living room, feed them pizza
- Read the work out loud, and useactor friends' artistic sensibilities and talents to improve the writing
- If the response is negative, keep writing
- If the response is positive, send the work out into the universe (preferably for production or publication)
Seem too easy? Hey, don't argue with success. Weems has had 50 plays produced at total of 76 times, three screenplays produced and 21 plays published
but not produced ... yet. Feeling Alright, a juke box musical conceived by Mary Minter, Rachel Landon and Wayne Landon with book by Weems and music by the 1960s, is currently running at Obsidian Art Space.
What He Does:"I am a writer," Weems tells us. "In the present tense and most accurately, that would encompass both playwriting and screenwriting. It's pretty easy to divide duties for writing into artistic efforts and business - marketing efforts. Artistically, it's mostly the creation of new work. The business side of things exists is an equally taxing beast.
"I've [also]been honored to work for several companies in assisting them with script review - seeking the best possible works for publication or production and have often been solicited by friends and colleagues for the same treatment to their work."
Why He Likes It: "The first few times you see a play or film of yours produced, there is an incredibly surreal moment in which you realize, 'These people are telling my story and saying my words.' It's utterly fascinating, humbling, and always an honor. For me, this feeling has never faded after any number of productions."
What Inspires Him: "I'm constantly inspired by works of art all around me - whether it's film, music, graphic novels, writing, acting, or everything in between. I'm inspired by new original work that surprises me, or shocks me. I'm inspired by people who are able to capture simplicity and make it something beyond interesting.
"I've seen photographs and wondered how the person got to that place - or what made them happy or sad. I've sat at bars [around] the world and looked at strangers - devising in my mind a backstory for who they were, where they were coming from, why their friend was late or why they ordered that particular drink."
If Not This, Then What: "If you had asked me between the ages of eight and 18, I would've told you either a hockey or baseball player. Those dreams gently fizzled upon the reality of those prospects, but they both still remain a part of my life.
"Now, I would definitely dream of being a chef. A few years back, we successfully cooked and hosted a full Thanksgiving dinner of about 15 people which felt like the pinnacle of my cooking career to that point. We now take out our very proactive smoke alarm before cooking with the oven.
"I came from a family who were all excellent cooks and until my mid-twenties I seemed to avoid anything that would resemble cooking or creating a meal. At that point, I was directed to a few pretty fail proof dishes by my mom and found that people enjoyed what I was cooking. This boost in confidence led to a very slow road of picking up various skills, recipes, and experiences. I now subscribe to cooking magazines, have a kitchen counter full of cook books, and set my DVR to certain cooking shows."
If Not Here, Where: "In a perfect world, I'd live in a smaller town right on the ocean - whether that's Prince Edward Island or the west coast of Oregon - I'd be happy.
"Having lived in some very small towns and big cities, I've found that to a comparable level I can keep creating anywhere I choose. There's always more opportunities in places like New York City, where I lived for six years, or Houston, but there's also some wonderful communities around the country and world that are just as thriving and dedicated."
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What's Next: "I'll be writing again for Cone Man Running's Smattering. I've been asked to contribute an episode to 'Escorted Chronicles' an upcoming film project created by Julio Alonzo. In the publishing world, I've just signed off on publications of my short plays A Few Miles Away and Clutch. I am also co-creating an original musical Heartbreak U.S.A with composer Timothy Boaz and Standing Room Only Productions, with books and lyrics by me.
"I would love to be able to continue writing, but also continue mentoring. My recent experiences in editing colleagues' work and guest lecturing have led me want to mentor and teach. I would love to be in a setting where I can share my experiences and knowledge."
For more information on Michael Weems, follow him on Twitter (@yankgonesouth) or visit his website playsofweems.com.
More Creatives for 2014 (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page). Lane Montoya, artist Jordan Simpson, SLAM poet Joey & Jaime, designers Suzi Taylor, photographer Ashton Miyako, dressmaker T. Smith, artistLindsay Finnen, photographer Kaitlyn Stanley, tattoo artist Eleazar Galindo Navarro, video game maker Kate de Para, textile and clothing designer Shawn Swanner, video game painter Andy Gonzales, painter Chris Foreman, comic book sketcher Theresa DiMenno, photographer Jessica E. Jones, opera singer Atseko Factor, actor John Pluecker, writer, poet and language justice worker Ricky Ortiz, painter, tattoo artist Rabēa Ballin, artist David Wald, actor Lisa E. Harris, performing and visual artist Stephanie Todd Wong, executive director of Dance Source Houston Pamela Fagan Hutchins, novelist Heather Gordy, artist Mark Nasso, comic artist Shelbi-Nicole, artist Marian Szczepanski, novelist Jonathan Blake, fashion designer Doni Langlois, interior designer Kat Denson, dancer Blame the Comic, comedian Margaret Menchaca Alvarez, artist Jacquelyne Jay Boe, dancer Rene Fernandez, painter Teresa Chapman, choreographer and dancer