A story writing blog

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Men Should Be the Ones Buying Scented Candles.

So, Tom wants to try copy writing. Copy writing can take a few forms but most commonly its a position in advertising where you're tasked with coming up with the ideas for ad campaigns. I could be good at that, or at least I could learn to be good at that. I figure the best way I can get myself onto that path is by writing up a few samples so I am going to choose a product that I use personally and try to come up with an ad campaign for. I'll sell it to you and write a short commercial for the product, something I can use in a beginners portfolio.

The product I've chosen is: SCENTED CANDLES

If I am asked to come up with a campaign for scented candles I focus on selling these things to men. Selling scented candles the male audience has to be a candle maker's dream, if they could make their product feel essential to men the way it does with women then they've got to be doubling their customer base. I don't think it's that hard a sell either. Scented candles mask stinky smells, men account for 98% of all stinky smells. It follows. I myself buy scented candles, as you can see by that Dollarama sticker I pay $3 for them. I don't like paying $3 at the dollar store, that's usually the store's highest price point. When I see something for $3 I really ask myself if I need it, and y'know what? In this case I did. I am a guy who does guy things and makes guy smells in my modest Toronto apartment that I share with my little roommate Gizzy McStinks. My place can get smelly.

Pictured: Gizzy McStinks

Yet even if a girl wanted to do an unannounced pop by I still had it covered, I kept a Scented Candle on my coffee table at all times. Five minutes after lighting one of those and my apartment would smell like a fruit orchard and the dancing flames provided me with some mood lighting. A mood that the horrible, screaming neighbor children and sometimes even Gizzy McStinks herself would spend the rest of the night trying to kill, but they don't make a candle to help with that. I honestly think if marketed properly scented candles can become a staple of the single man's grocery list and since the idea of a man buying a scented candle conjures up associations of femininity; that's rich comedy territory. I propose this online ad campaign:

Glade Scented Candle 30 Second Internet/TV Commercial

INTERIOR/A MAN’S APARTMENT: A Caucasian man (Mike) in his late 20’s is sitting in his small apartment with his dog, he has a messy apartment with dirty laundry all over the place and old food sitting in dirty plates. His phone lights up, showing that he got a text from a pretty girl. “Hey, I am in the area, I am going to pop by”.

Mike jumps up and looks around his nasty apartment, he takes a sniff of the air and recoils from how bad the air smells.

Sound of the TV in the foreground, music.

Cell phone sound, tense/up tempo music

Mike springs up and throws all his laundry into a bag, he takes all his gross plates and hides them in a drawer below the sink. He notices that he hasn’t taken his garbage out yet; it stinks. He races out to the incinerator with the bags of garbage.

He gets another text.

“Hey, I am coming up to your building now”

The music quickens in pace

Cell phone text sound

Mike runs back into his apartment, it still smells. He looks down at his dog, realizing that he’s a strong source of the stink. He sprays the dog with cologne but it still smells, he tries spraying the air but it doesn’t work.

Another text.

“Here. I’ll be up in a minute”

Tense music continues to build

Cell phone text sound

Frantically he goes through his drawers and finds a jasmine scented candle. He’s not convinced that this will help but he’s out of options. He fumbles to find a lighter and lights it in a hurry.

Sound of things being shuffled around.

ELEVATOR: Shots of a beautiful women coming up in an elevator.

Elevator chime

APARTMENT: Mike is flapping his arms wildly, trying to fan the scented smoke throughout the apartment.

The music builds
ELEVATOR: The woman reaches her floor and heads out.
The music build to a stop.
APARTMENT: The women knocks on the door and opens it, Mike and her make eye contact.

The woman steps inside and stops. She sniffs.

Mike, starts to feel mortified; thinking she smells all the gross smells he’s hiding.

Mike is dumbfounded, he can’t believe the candle worked. He looks at it with a face full of shock and discovery, like he’s just found the Holy Grail.
Sound of knocking.
Woman: Hi

Woman: Mmmmm, it smells good in here. Is that jasmine?

Mike: Yeah…it does.?.

Mike is having a get together with his guy friends at his bachelor pad. As the men pass by Mike’s washroom one of them remarks on the large scented candle Mike has displayed proudly by the toilet.

FRIEND 1: Did your mom buy you that?
Mike and his friends watch the game, the whole time they’re all pigging out of junk food.

Mike heads to the washroom but it’s occupied, He knocks on the door.

One of his friends comes out, he’s a large man and he’s holding his gut like he just did something awful in that washroom. He did. It smells appalling; the whole room can smell it and they all react.
Sound of the TV
Cheering, high fiving, eating


Everyone in the room erupts into noise once the washroom door is open and the cloud of toxic gas is let out.


Mike lights his scented candle to cover the smell


The men on the couch smell something, they’re sniffing the air with intrigue. Whereas moments ago the air around them made them gag; now some magic has filled the air with the smell of a flowery meadow. What is this?

Sniffing sounds

Mike is finishing up, he flushes the toilet and leaves.

When he opens the  door he finds a hallway full of his curious friends, they’re following a captivating smell. It’s the scented candle.

Mike walks past them.

The men look in on the candle with expressions of awe and discovery, like they’ve just seen the Holy Grail.

Toilet flushing

Mike and the woman are cuddled up on the couch, the soft flicker of a scented candle lights the room romantically.

“Fellas, let me introduce you to the Scented Candle by Glade. You could use one of these”

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Voice Over The Phone Tells You To Kill Your Best Friend

That's a creepy title for a post.

When you don't have a large budget, location scouting is probably the trickiest part of film making. It's HARD to find good, shootable indoor locations, you're pretty much reliant on whatever connections you have and whatever locations they're able to wrangle up. In the case of the team I work with we have no one helping us, we've rarely had any luck securing any extravagant locations so we've always been forced to be a little more creative.

Not long ago I was asked if I could come up with a crime, suspense script that took place in one location (a hotel room) and featured a violent death at the end. That's a LOT of restriction to work under for a writer but personally I like it that way, I like being reigned in. If you give me too much freedom I think too much, it's harder to settle on one idea when you have unbound imagination. It's just too much choice. I find it easier to focus when my options are more limited, it actually forces you to be more creative.

I am really proud of what I came up with.

Gabe and Calin have just committed a horrible crime under the order of a mysterious voice on the phone. When Calin leaves to get rid of the evidence the phone rings. The voice on the other line gives Gabe one last order, only one of them is allowed to leave that hotel room. Will Gabe strike first before Calin can hear the ultimatum or will he run and leave everything behind before he gets back?
GABE enters the hotel room, his black coat the only thing covering the large spatters of red on his white shirt underneath. His pale and panicked face is covered in red smears, he looks over to a single phone sitting in a dark corner of the room on a table. He’s fixated on it for a moment and then notices that he’s covered in blood. He rushes into the washroom and THROWS WATER on his face, he’s shaking and violently nervous.

THE PHONE RINGS this sends GABE into a panic, he’s terrified to answer the phone. After 3 long RINGS he finally answers; nearly in tears.


The Voice
You’re back? Gabe?


The Voice
Both of you are there?

No, I don’t know what happened to Calin

The Voice
Did you do it?


The Voice
Was it you or Calin?

Calin killed him

The Voice
Stay there, wait for him. Wait for my call.

Read the rest HERE...

And follow me on instagram: thomasholler

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Do you like selfies and pictures of people's dogs? Then join Tom on instagram...because that's pretty much all he has on there.

So I am curious as to how many new followers on instagram I can get if I start linking it within this blog. I currently only have an embarrassing 35 followers but if I start pimping out my instagram handle: thomasholler as HARD as I can to all my readers over and over I think we can get that number up to 40. If that number starts to rise then I'll start to make a conscious effort to make my instagram good, until then it remains a sobering look into the life of a single writer in Toronto who F**king LOVES his dog.

Add me on instagram: thomasholler


Thursday, August 15, 2013

CANADA - Slow and Steady Wins the Race.

I recently got into an argument about ice cream where someone scoffed at my preference for vanilla over every other flavor. People associate vanilla with words like 'plain' and 'boring' but vanilla's a legit flavor. It's a flavor the same way chocolate and strawberry are flavors and in my opinion it's the best one. I don't even like putting toppings on my ice cream, if vanilla's the best flavor (which has been scientifically proven by my studies) then adding anything to it is just making it into a lesser ice cream. I feel the same way about cheesecake but that's another article. Anyway it was a surprisingly heated discussion...and here's the thing, I've had this argument a few times before. I can count at least three times that I've had an argument over ice cream and zero times I've ever had an argument about Canadian politics.

Getting into a heated argument over Canadian politics is next to impossible for the average Canadian, being a 4 party system means we're not so polarized as a voting populous. Having a four party system means that for the most part; there aren't such chasmic differences between the parties. Less chasmic differences between parties correlates to less fighting between parties, less fighting between parties means less news coverage and less news coverage leads to me feeling the need to google who our Prime Minister is just now; just to be sure. I live in Toronto and I am around people all day, I pass by thousands of strangers and hear hundreds of conversations each week. I can't remember the last time I heard anyone having a discussion about Canadian politics. World politics; sure. That's not uncommon. Toronto is the most multi-cultural city in the world and everyone here is acutely tuned into the news from abroad but you'll never find anyone discussing the latest RCMP probe that found Senator Pamela Wallin guilty of billing tax payers a little over $80,000 for falsified travel expenses. Yeah that story's annoying, that chick should pay for her own damn travel. You make a nice salary, don't ask for everything to be free. Still though; as far as headlines go $80k is a pretty unsexy number.

That's Canada though, we don't have much drama and we don't give the papers much to talk about. We haven't really had a national tragedy in a while, no disasters to get us talking. We don't live under fear of attack from enemy nations, which is usually a huge talking point for WAY too many countries. We're really lucky that way, I can't even imagine how it must feel to live in fear of another land and it's people. It's just something we've never really had to worry about. We don't have a lot of hot button issues for the media to press either, we aren't a nation with many sociological scars brought on by tragedy or injustice. We aren't really an embattled people. I mean; we do face things like poverty and racism but even in our largest cities we're still so heavily integrated with people from all over the world that every work place, every apartment complex and every outing is like a 'Model United Nations' conference. Most of us have grown up like this, it's not the kind of environment that breeds that level of ethnic prejudice but it IS the kind of environment that breeds a lifelong craving for good ethnic food. Even the issues of overcrowding and pollution aren't anything for us to worry about since the large majority of our enormous country is uninhabited natural land.

 Most of Canada actually looks like this

Yes, we took a hit in the recession but we made out better than a lot of other countries and if you get into a fight with someone out here; there's a pretty slim change that dude's packing a gun. I hear all the time that Canadians as a people are really chill, well it makes sense when you think of how relaxed our ride has been so far. That stigma of being a bland country because we don't make headlines is something we should wear with pride considering that most headlines report bad news.

  "Toronto: Come Eat REALLY Good Ethnic Food and Just Chill"

Finally, no I haven't forgot about our beloved Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. He certainly does makes headlines but not for his politics, more-so for his binge drinking, ass grabbing and crack smoking. He also has a compilation of pratfalls that would make Chris Farley jealous. Seriously the man can't stay on his feet. One more reason Toronto is awesome.


* Nov 25/2013 - I wrote the above article before the whole Rob Ford crack scandal broke. This whole scandal has become the biggest most conversation worthy news we've ever had. Everyone's talking about it, Rob Ford is becoming the most entertaining person on television.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

PWNED!!! - A Video Game Gameshow

From the Archives of 2010: So here's an example of a different kind of writing, a couple years ago I wrote out a pitch proposal for a reality/video game show. I actually just found this again when going through some old files of mine. It's funny how good ideas get tossed aside.

Author: Thomas Holler  Genre: Reality Series 

Title: "Pwned!!!" 

Logline (short pitch): "Video & Arcade Top 10” meets "Yo’ Mamma". Top gamers compete for bragging rights and prizes in the ultimate gaming competition where trash talking and taunting go hand in hand with gaming. The winners move on and the loser go home empty handed and red faced. (Themes: Reality-based, fantasy fulfillment, competition, comedy, information, reviews) 


This is a weekly program with a regular host (or hosts) coming to you from the ultimate gaming den. Big screen TV’s, lazy boy chairs, every video game system money can buy, arcade machines, a pop corn machine, a bar, original video game posters on the walls, rare and incredible video game memorabilia all over the room, every peripheral on the market (steering wheel controllers, Wii Fit, Rock Band instrument, the Power Glove)…this is the gamers dream den.  

Each show opens with the host introducing himself/herself to the audience and talking about the latest in the world of video games/gaming. If a new blockbuster game or gaming announcement is in the news (and it always is) this is when we would run a segment on it.   

E.g. – When Call of Duty: Modern Warfare came out it broke all previous sales records; pulling in $310 million in North America and the United Kingdom, selling more than 4.7 million copies in a single day. This was a record launch for ANY kind of entertainment. For this we would feature and taped piece featuring interviews with gamers who waited in line overnight as well as the game’s developers about the game’s success.  

After the break we start to discuss the day’s competition, each day we’d feature a new game to compete in. We’d discuss what we are looking for from a contestant to be declared a winner (in games which aren’t competition based such as shooters, there could be a competition to see who can score the most kills, headshots, etc…), we’d also talk about what the players are competing for and meet the two competitor in either and interview style or another taped piece of them at home playing and talking to the camera (on location in their game room, basement, bedroom.) 

The competition itself would be pretty basic, it would be our gamers sitting side by side and playing a time controlled match in whatever game has been chosen. Both the host and the gamers themselves would be heavily encouraged to mock, taunt and trash talk as that really is generally what gamers do. It’s all in good fun and provides a great deal of comedy for the viewing audience. When we have a winner declared the loser is forced to bow his head to him and walk away in shame. The gamers would be competing for prizes sent by the video game companies such as copies of the game they were playing, gift certificates, controllers, limited edition packages…etc. 

 Before we close the show we would throw to a segment that allows the home audience to submit their gaming highlights and compete for a prize. We’d have a “Top 10 Best” feature in which each week we ask the audience to send us videos of different gaming accomplishments. For the first show we could ask for the “Top 10 Best Call of Duty Kills”, the next show we’d ask the audience for submission to see who has the “Top 10 NBA 2K10 Dunks”. This allows the online gaming audience to participate in the show which helps create word of mouth buzz. Before finally wrapping up the show we would give a rundown of all the new releases which came out during that week.
Video gaming is an enormous industry which has been relatively untapped in television (Video games sales topped $21 Billion last year) and the online video gaming community has created a new focus on direct competition. I believe there is a passionate and hungry fan base who we could count on to tune in to a show like the one I proposed; X-Box Live alone has already boasted sales of $17 million subscribers each paying large monthly fee’s to use their service