The Undertow of Screenwriting

The undertow in my head has kept me from this page and my mind meanderings. But that’s OK, as the blog is meant to allow me the daily ritual of letting go of  structure by way of free-flow. The letters, punctuation, compound word formations, thoughts, pictures, and journal-entry style of the blog in between sips of a steaming cup of Peet’s coffee are meant to stimulate.

And so, I went on a weekend bender of character study, a sort of method writing, if you will, where I lived my characters in a deeper sense. Oh, yes it helped as I churned out two 22-page episodes in one weekend – a monumental task for me as I’m usually enveloped in the world of work that summons me for a large number of hours per day. But not right now. At this moment, I’m on a longer break for the first time in my working life and I find this to be immensely refreshing as it allows my brain the time to repose and to develop multiple creative projects all at once.  I breathe fresh air into the prefrontal lobe with an exhalation of deep creative thought and my fingers tally the results.

As the web is a wonder for research, I relied upon it several times to assist in my character study — to discover the origins of the tuba and the trumpet, to look up some places in New York City, to discover some of the forgotten wars of the early 20th century involving the British keeping hold of their empire.  (sip, think, sip again)

Then the sideshow began.  I found myself beckoned by a sidebar carnival barker to view the pitiable faces of human distortion by way of bad plastic surgery. I knew I shouldn’t step through the tent of as I would need to see every face of the top ten before I could free myself to step back into my story characters.  Oh, Mickey Rourke. OK, just this one. I’ll peek at his poor alien face flesh and look no further, I tell myself.  I read his story and a next-page arrow gently tugged at my elbow. My friend in the fun house wanted to go further. I let her advance me into the oddities. A sadness overcame me as I witnessed photographs of people who had at one time been quite attractive and who somehow fell into the psychological abyss of self-doubt that Hollywood can bring to its constituents. Money so poorly spent. People so sadly twisted.

I was forced to close the lid of my laptop and walk away, meddle in the garden, step out of the tent to breathe life back in…

sideshow-alive-on-the-inside (image courtesy of

About danaj33

I have been teaching in the Broadcast Electronic Media Art department at City College of San Francisco since 2001. I started teaching full-time in 2009 and am tenured. My career as an audio engineer spans 32-years since the first day I began to record and mix songs on my Tascam PortaStudio (cassette 4-track) in the early 80's while attending college at UC Berkeley. I formed a couple of bands and sang lead (sometimes playing rhythm guitar) until 1988 when I discovered that the "behind-the-scenes" tech realm was much more to my liking. I love how an audio engineer controls the ENTIRE sound mix, and not just one's own instrument. I then began a career as a live sound engineer in earnest and have toured extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe as front-of-house sound engineer for a multitude of bands on various record labels (most notably "Medicine" on American Recordings) and have been a staff engineer at the venerable Bottom of the Hill nightclub since their inception in 1991 leaving a regular shift there in 2010 due to the teaching schedule. The club and its staff are like family. I owned and operated a live sound production company since 1989 (ending officially in 2017) called dcj Productions that has provided sound to the Bay Area community (mostly in the non-profit sector) in both large outdoor sound events as well as nightclubs and music halls. In 1991, I started recording bands on an 8-track Tascam TSR-8 analog tape recorder and moved into the digital realm in 1993 to 16-tracks of Alesis ADAT connected to a Soundcraft Ghost console in my home studio. In 1995, I advanced to Pro Tools and have been recording exclusively digital ever since, combining audio skills in sound for film as a location recordist as well as an engineer in post-production sound design and mixing. I remained "strictly analog" in my live sound mixing until just this past year (2012). Now that one can obtain a decent, live sound digital mixer at an affordable price, it was high time to check out digital for live. I now have a Presonus StudioLive 16.4.2 to work on with my students to give them much needed hands-on experience with a digital console. I co-owned and ran APG Records & APG Studios, an SF record label and recording studio, from 1999 - 2004 which had a distribution deal through EMI. The company folded in 2004. I continue to record music and engineer live performances at many Bay Area venues in addition to full-time teaching at CCSF. In 2001, I was hired to the part-time faculty at City College of San Francisco in the Broadcast Electronics Media Arts department where I have taught many of the classes including Digital Media Skills (BCST119), Basic Audio Production (BCST120), Digital Audio Production (BCST124), Sound Recording Studio (BCST125), Sound For Visual Media (BCST126), Advanced Sound Recording (BCST127), Sound Reinforcement (BCST128), Audio for the Web (BCST135), Video for the Web (BCST136), and Field Video Production (BCST141). I have also taught classes in sound design, audio for animation and games, music video, and computer applications at Art Institute of California-San Francisco, Globe Recording Institute, and Laney College in Oakland, CA. Outside Affiliations: - Co-Director of SoundGirls - current member of Audio Engineering Society and on the SF Chapter Planning Committee - past Vice President and Interim President Board of Directors - Bay Area Girls Rock Camp - past volunteer/contributor to Women's Audio Mission - past member Bay Area Women in Media and Film - past Board of Directors for Camp Reel Stories
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