Saturday, December 31, 2005

Oh, The Horror Of It All - Looking Forward to 2006...

I think that, as we head into 2006, its appropriate for us to look forward.

Sure, we'll almost certainly have rewrites on SIEGE once it moves forward and into production, but as Dave mentioned yesterday, we've pulled out a blank slate and are focusing on THE NEXT BIG THING.

And what a horror it is. I think we have an interesting concept... the kind of hook you get right away and go... "Hrmmm... could be fun." Hopefully it'll be scary, too.

The thing that's interesting, though, is that what I pitched Dave was essentially just a concept. A hook. An angle. But not really a story. So when I tossed the idea at him, he immediately fired back a ton of questions, all of which elicited basically the same response...

"Cool! So why's the killer doing all this?"

Err... dunno.

"Okay. But he's got SOME kind of motivation, right?!"

Sure... absolutely. Wonder what it is?!

"And then how does our hero get dragged into it?"

Um... dunno.

"And who's the guy with the spatula and the giant can of WD40?"

Oh... he's... er... waita second... Was that in my pitch?

Which essentially sent us into brainstorming mode. We've spent some time flushing out roughly 25% of a basic plot, and are spending the balance of the holiday individually chewing on what the glue is that binds these loose ideas together.

It should be fun to write, come the New Year, and I'm looking forward to collaborating more with Dave, and sharing more with you, our readers.

Both of you.

(Hi Mom!)

I think 2006 is going to be a great year. SIEGE will get made and hopefully even distributed. This new project will fuel the creative juices and get written. And who knows that other suprises lay in store. So with that in mind, here are my 2006 resolutions. Which will I break first!?

5. Upgrade to Final Draft 7. I'm currently using version 6.x and 7 just looks so much cooler. Maybe I'm being suckered by the FD hype, but I'm ready for an upgrade. Maybe once we get paid for SIEGE I'll drop the $80.

4. Get a new laptop. My iBook is woefully underpowered and outdated. I mean... sure... I got it from one of those "YOU JUST WON AN APPLE iBOOK" ad banners on a porn site... and its served me well... but I'd sure love to invest in a shiny new PowerBook.

3. Get coverage. Once we finish this new script, I am determined to get it read and covered. In the past Dave and I have both individually and collaboratively written stuff that never saw the light of day. I don't mean produced... I mean literally never left the house. I have a drawer full of stuff that I can't even get my wife to read. This new horror script may never end up on screen anywhere (not even Uzbekistan, like SIEGE)... but I'm determined to at least get it seen, so it has a shot.

2. Lose weight. Spending my days at work, and my nights/weekends writing SIEGE, hasn't left much room for dieting or exercise. Besides... what kind of a list of New Year's resolutions would this be without a soon-to-be-broken vow to dump a few pounds?

1. Improve my skills. Sure, this should be a goal EVERY year, but I think we're being pretty proactive about it. Dave's sent me a number of script's we're going to study together, and I've also joined the online equivalent of a writer's group, where they disect scripts, pitches, loglines, etc. I'm also trying to spend a lot more time reading the blogs and other writings of successful screenwriters. Heros are good. I hope the combined efforts make me less of a hack.

So there you have it. What resolutions have YOU made?

See ya next year!


Friday, December 30, 2005

When Inspiration Strikes

So while we sit on our thumbs waiting to hear from Producer Dude on the status of the money, Charlie and I are moving on.

Next project. Bring it on.

This time, we're gonna tackle horror. Charlie actually had this kick-ass one-line pitch. One of those ideas that, when he announced it over IM to me, I tilted my head and made a noise like a cute puppy.

It may be the most marketable pitch I've ever worked on, and kudos for Charlie for coming up with it. I mean "Die Hard in a House" is fine and all, but this one is something you can sink your teeth into.

We're not gonna, blab out what it is right now, for obvious reasons, but you loyal followers are getting in on the ground floor of the creative process with this one. Should be quite the thrill ride.

It is not, incidently, for Producer Dude. He does not, at this time, do horror. This script is for Charlie and me. To make our fortunes on. Fame, fortune, chicks, the works. When Producer Dude gets his money and moves forward on Siege and then puts a couple other scripts of mine into production, then we'll go back to him and write another bold and beautiful action-riffic B-movie for him. But that's at least a few months in the future (or a few decades, if you listen to the nay-sayers. Booo, Nay-Sayers!!!). So for now, having perked the creative juices working together on Siege, we're ready for the next adventure.

And I really like this idea. I hope we don't screw it up.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Big Budget Badness Bingo

As a writer, I often find myself dissecting movies and TV shows that I watch.

Truthfully, its not something I like to do. It takes me out of the experience, which can tend to rob you of fully enjoying whatever it is you're viewing. The thing is, it tends to happen far more often when I'm watching something BAD.

You're sitting there watching "ELEKTRA" and your head just starts reeling with the stinkiness of it. I mean, sure, pretty much any discerning filmgoer starts to roll their eyes after the implausible moments add up, or the cheesy dialogue lays on too thick.

But as a screenwriter, I think you're more atune to it. And in my case, its not just out of professional criticsm that I find myself screaming at the screen when I hear something like:

"Her name was Elektra. She was a warrior. She was also dead. Well, nobody's perfect. Only a warrior can come back from death and even then the second life is never quite like the first."

No... truth is, I'm not really screaming because its so damn bad. Well... not per se. Me? I'm screaming more out of jealousy.


I mean, I try to write scenes and dialogue that are entertaining and relevant and logical. I really try. And I think I succeed more often than I fail. So when I see a piece of dung like ELEKTRA, or for that matter, the LONGEST YARD remake, which is one of the Top 10 Grossing Films of 2005, I have to wonder what I'm doing wrong.

Sure, we're wading around in "B MovieLand," but we recognize the playground we play in, and write to it. The interchanges in SIEGE are often over the top, but that's intentional. We have a larger than life character, and have really given the actor some choice cuts to ham it up with. Intentionally. Its the genre and the market.

And when I do write crap, at least I do it all by myself, or with help from Dave. Elektra has 5 writers credited, according to IMDB.

What's the secret? How does one get a gig writing bad movies for big bucks, full time?


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Friday, December 23, 2005

What Christmas Means to Me

It means waiting to hear if the damn money has cleared.

See, when you're writing movies for stars that wouldn't get recognized if they were on a billboard in Times Square, you are dependent on THE MONEY. Nothing happens until it's there. Nothing happens until it's happy. Nothing happens until it's released.

So we have actors more or less attached. We have locations scouted and reserved. We have production all revved up and ready to go.

And we have dick.

For some reason, people and banks get all uppity when it's time to put up or shut up. Theoretical money is fine and dandy, but until this bank shoves the regulations through this sewer pipe and that bank decides nobody involved is actually funneling cash to Al Qaeda and that other bank signs all the money up for day care, nobody does anything.

So here we are. We have a finished draft. We'd love to give it to Producer Dude, let him read it, give us comments so we can do revisions. We'd love to GET PAID. But we're at the mercy of money.

I bother Producer Dude every day. Lot of good it does me.

"Hi Producer Dude. How are things?"

"Fine. No word yet on the money."

"Oh. OK. So.. any word on the money?"

"I just said no."

"I know, I just thought.. maybe.. in the fifteen seconds since then..."


"Oh. How about now?"

"Not yet."

"We got a finished draft for you to see."

"Great. I can't wait."

"So.. if you'll just send over the contracts and send us the option money..."

"Can't do that until the money's released. You know that."

"I know, I know. So any word on the money? Since we started this conversation?"

"Goodbye, David."

I'll try him again tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Kickass Action... and All You Can Eat Ribs...

Not really sure there's much more to say. This just about speaks for itself.

I love ribs.


Friday, December 16, 2005

One Page. One Page. You're Lucky Just to Have Just One Page (with apologies to Whodini)

Since starting this blog, I've come to realize something...

There are a LOT of blogging screenwriters on the internet. Lots of 'em. Good ones. Bad ones. Novice ones. Super successful ones.

One of the successful writer/bloggers is Michael Patrick Sullivan, who recently issued this challenge on his blog Red Right Hand:

“I issue a challenge to the other spec monkeys that read this. It’s simple enough. Any of you can do it. Post one page from a script you wrote on your website.”

Lots of writers joined in. Adventures in Storytelling. The Screenwriting Life. Velociraptors on a Space Shuttle. Sanctum of the ScriptWeaver.

And now? B Movie Writers. Ladies and Gentlemen, Page 25:

Hope you like this little sneak peek.

In the meantime, I just want to make it clear to all involved that I've completed the much anticipated "weapons rewrite" of the script. I think Dave feels a bit let down. I scrubbed the damn thing and everyone has what they should have. Sure, I fixed a few typos, but by and large, the scrub that Dave's been so anxiously awaiting was rather uneventful.

Sorry Dave.


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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Redeeming According to Who?

Producer Dude has just asked us to punch out a longer treatment than the one we gave him a while back. Seems some of the Money People want to know more about this film they're putting money up for than just the snazzy title and the promise that it'll kick ass.

In his email to me, Producer Dude specifically asks "Give it some heart and soul, because investors are always interested in the redeeming value of a script even if it is action."

Redeeming value? Siege?

But I think back. This is Die Hard in a House, right? Was there any redeeming value in the Die Hard movies?

Well, actually, yes. Yes there was.

Die Hard. Great movie. Redeeming value=Bruce is reunited with wife and family, all love one another once again.

Die Hard 2: Die Harder. Not so great movie. Redeeming value=none.

Die Hard with a vengeance. Good movie. Redeeming value=Bruce finally gets the courage to give wife a call on the phone at end of movie.

So we see that the more redeeming the value, the better the movie. Die Hard 2 boils down to "Bruce is at the airport to meet his wife. All is well. Bad guys endanger his wife. He fights bad guys. Wife lands and they hug." What change has gone on in that one? Diddly.

First movie? He's estranged, in LA hoping for reconciliation, gets caught up in that whole Nakitomi thing. Wife learns that yes, she does love him, and he learns that yes, family is very important. Third movie tried to touch on this, but it was more window dressing than anything.

Back to Siege.

Well, we kinda take the Die Hard 2 approach. Family in peril, hero wisely uses ultra-violence to save family. In the end, everyone's happy, alive, and awfully dirty.

Does that mean we've written a bad script?

Don't answer that.

So I come back to looking for the redeeming value for the investors. There's the family-in-peril angle. We can certainly use that. There's the no-good-deed-goes-unpunished angle that isn't so much redeeming as a social commentary.

Or maybe it's just redeeming because it's non-stop action with one scene of possible actual boobie. Is that redeeming enough?

*sigh* Next one, we'll make redeeming. I promise.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Lazy? Busy? Or Just Distracted by Natalie Portman...

As you may have discerned from Dave's last couple of posts, the ball's in my court for our latest revision.

The thing is, as Dave has already eloquently explained , we're at the point where we're just tightening and retightening the screws on this machine, so to speak. I'm currently working on the "weapons" rewrite, in which I go through and make sure all the bad guys have bad guy weapons, and all the good guys have good guy weapons.

Seems like it would be fun, but here's the thing... its the holiday season. I'm having a hard time finding making time to do my rewrite. Last weekend we spent 10 hours in the car taking my son to see his grandparents so they could go visit the shopping mall Santa together. Available writing time? None. Monday - bought a long-overdue Christmas tree and presents for a underpriveledged kid I'm sponsoring through work. Available time that day? Zip. Last night? Wrapped all the presents for the kid, since the social worker's coming today to pick it up. Available time then? Zilch.

Tonight? Finally put up that tree that I bought on Monday, and decorate it.

So what's the scoop? Have I suddenly gotten busier than I was a few weeks ago? Or a couple of months ago, when we really got rolling on the script?

Maybe a little bit. But the truth is, I'd have found time back then. I'd have worked till 6:30, come home and spent time with my kid, had dinner, and put him to bed by 8. Wrapped presents till 10, and then would have written till 12 or 1am.

But... we're just buffing the surfboard, man. Its hard to justify (to myself, at least), staying up well into the night for a "weapons rewrite" of the script when there's no pressing deadline. Producer Dude's still wrangling withe financing, and until that all comes together, there's really no rush. Truthfully, if Dave weren't so busy working on his OWN projects , I'd probably even suggest we put this down (once I finally do my weapons rewrite) and start on our next collaboration.

But what do you think? Am I being lazy? Am I missing the bigger picture?

What about you, Dave? As my partner, yours is the most crucial opinion... should I pull the late-nighter? Am I holding us up? Am I being a bad partner? I honestly don't know...


P.S. Wondering why Natalie Portman's mentioned in the title of this post? Well... what do you think I watch on TV while wrapping presents and decorating the Christmas Tree? "Closer" and "Garden State," on permanent loop. Nat's the gift that keeps on giving. Fa la la la la... la la la la.

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Convenient Characters

A quick side bar while we're waiting for developments and/or another damn draft from Slow-Poke Charlie.

Can a character be too convenient?

Good characters are hard to come by. For a long time, I had real trouble coming up with names, until I discovered the joy of naming characters after baseball players (don't tell Charlie, but Siege is littered with minor characters named after members of the 2005 Chicago White Sox).

A lot of writers simply pluck from their own lives. Nothing wrong with that, but there comes a point where the idea that "well it's a real person I know" doesn't cut it for the screen.

For example.

My wife once worked with a woman (come to think of it, Charlie worked with her, too) who was named... I'm not making this up... Candy Ho.

That was her honest-to-goodness name. Her parents, last name Ho, came over from China when she was a child and she got to pick her own name. Since she didn't quite grasp the connotations at her young age, she chose "Candy" because she thought that was a nice, normal, American name.

You think I could get away with naming a character Candy Ho in a movie and be taken seriously? Even though it's a real person, a real nice person, good friend, one Charlie and my wife worked with daily for over a year?

Not unless I'm writing the next Austin Powers movie.

So names can be an issue.

But characters themselves can be tricky. I'm currently working on a horror script of my own (don't tell Charlie, I don't want him to think I'm moonlighting or anything) based on a trip I took over the summer. I'm creating characters based on the people I met, some great people, great characters. One woman had this very rare disorder that caused her to have total night blindness. Think a character with total night blindness wouldn't be cool to have in a horror movie?

But would that be too convenient? Even though I met her, we became friends for the week, her condition is real (she always needed one of the other girls to escort her to the bathroom at night, because if her flashlight went out, she was in total blackness and completely helpless) how "Oh, come on!" is it to have a character like that in a horror movie? It just seems like something pulled out of the writer's ass when he needed an easy scare.

It's a fine balance. There's another character from my trip, a young guy who is the spitting image of the traditional look of Jesus. Tall, lanky, long hair, beard, all spiritual talking and very calm. It was like spending the week with Jesus. Again, a great character to put in a script, but believable? Even though he was real?

The old adage that "Truth is stranger than fiction" is more true than most people know. Just because there are two brothers (as written about in the book, Freakonomics) named Winner and Loser, doesn't mean I can put them in a script and expect my audience to take them seriously.

Which is why I'll keep using the names of baseball players.

Though I doubt I'll ever use Cleveland outfielder Coco Crisp.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Having My Doubts

I'm sure every writer goes through this.

Dave knows Producer Dude well, and swears to me that he has faith things will still happen.

But... I'm starting to have my doubts.

Ya see... we've been plugging along on the script like there's no tomorrow. Tweaking and re-writing and counting Gunmen like they were little sheep.

But pre-production on the actual film itself has sort of ground to a halt. It seems there's been some red tape with the key funding or something, and things haven't fully "closed" yet. Producer Dude remains confident, if not a bit embarassed by the hold up, and pretty much anyone "industy" I talk to tells me its pretty common stuff.

But it still worries me. I mean... after all this, I want SIEGE to see the light of day. Even if it IS the light of day in Waziristan (whattup, Azam Warsak?!!).

Originally there was talk this flick would start production in early January. We haven't received an update to the contrary, but at this point I just don't see how that's physically possible. Even for a bMovie, that'd be moving too fast.

So then I wring my hands, worrying becuase I'm pretty sure Producer Dude has something lined up for April or sometime around then, and SIEGE was going to be his Q1 project. If it can't start on time will it get buried because of the Q2 committment?

Meanwhile, Dave and I are starting to think about our next project. Should it be another script for Producer Dude? He's already got some ideas he'd like us to kick around... but it sure would be great to see how this one turns out (or at least gets started) before we start cranking on another project.

Anyhow... we still have a fantastic sci-fi flick available for any interested takers. Its got it all... assasinations, time travel, the illuminati... think The DaVinci Code meets Timesplitters meets Sam Spade.



Friday, December 09, 2005

Writing the Trailer

Well I've done another polish and sent it over to Charlie. He'll do another polish, send it back, rinse, repeat.

At this point, we're getting closer and closer to the writing equivalent of obsessive impulsively waxing the surfboard over and over. We've done a "Gunmen" polish, we're done a "locations" polish, we've done polishes where we focused on minor characters, right now Charlie's doing a "weapons" polish, which means he's making sure the right people are carrying the right guns and that no one pulls something out of thin air or anything like that.

I'm serious.

We could go back and forth forever if we wanted. I can always go through a draft and find something to change, any writer can. What we need to do is give it to Producer Dude. But we're waiting for paperwork to finalize before we give him anything. Should be any day now...

You say that a lot in this business.

So in the meantime, I'm writing the trailer.

See, in the B-movie world, the only thing that really matters is the trailer. The BUYERS see the trailer, and order the film if they like it. If the trailer is boring, they don't buy the movie. It's that simple.

So what makes a good trailer? Well, you go to the movies, so you probably have a good idea.

Glamour shots. If there's a hot chick in it, you want a shot of said hot chick being hot. A friend of mine just finished directing an action flick and when he cut his trailer, after the car chases, the knife fights, the gun battles, he closes his trailer with the lead chick walking, wet, out of the ocean waves. In slow motion.

The money shot. This is not, in this case, a porn reference. B-movies like this spend a lot of budget on one thing, one stunt. Usually, they blow something up. When they shot The Eliminator, one minor plot point (about two sentences in the script) involved the hero blowing up a satellite dish. Guess what shot was used to end the trailer and a still of it even made it to the poster? Go look- there's a handy link to the right. See the bit in the bottom center of the poster of the two guys running from a big explosion? That's it. Minor bit. One paragraph. But they blew the Dish up, it's the money shot.

In Siege, we have, if done right, a flaming helicopter crashing to the ground. That's probably gonna be the money shot, if they shoot it right. Look for it in a trailer coming to a computer near you.

Also, the hero should d something heroic in slow motion. Sometimes, they'll take a normal scene and slow it down for the trailer. We've got a bit with the hero rising up out of some water firing his guns. Shoot it in slow motion, and it's Trailer Gold.

No talking. Or at least, as little as possible. Let's face it, your actors aren't going to be the best in the world. If they're not related to somebody, they're big guys or hot chicks hired to be big guys or hot chicks. Some of them are, in fact, decent actors. Some of them work very hard to become so, and get better and better. But there ain't no DeNiro in the bunch. So keep the talking heads down and pump up the flying fists of fury. Quick cuts, smash hits, get the blood moving. And then maybe one shot of the hero or bad guy yelling out the other's name in fury. I call it the "Wrath of Khan" effect.


Now, to be clear, when I say I'm writing the trailer, I'm not putting together a 2-minute script of "Siege Greatest Hits" or anything. I don't know what they'll end up shooting. What I AM doing is going through the script and making sure we have enough of these easily-recognizable elements in the mix.

Hot chick scene? Check.
Money Shot? Check.
Slow motion heroic bit? Check.
Random, interesting action sequences? Check.
Somebody yelling someone else's name in fury? Check.

I think we're pretty good.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Fantasizing About Dakota Fanning.

Sometimes I fantasize about how things would work if this script were for a bigger-budget, theatrically released flick.

Truth is, it'd actually be a LOT harder, and probably involve a lot more work. I can imagine now, getting a call from Producer Dude:

"Good news and bad news guys. Dakota Fanning's people got ahold of the script and she loves it. They want to know if we can rewrite the 'wife' role to be a daughter."

And, of course, we'd all scramble to make it happen. I mean... it's Dakota Fanning. She's box office gold. Plus everyone knows she's a ruthless tyrant who'd have our heads on a pike if we did anything short of take a Bic to the script in order to make it work for her.

But that's not the world we live in. Dakota Fanning will never know this movie exists, much less read the script. Best case scenario, she's on a press junket in Taiwan two years from now, plugging some Spielberg thing she's starring in for $10 million and happens to flip by our flick playing on the Taiwanese equivalent to Cinemax at 2am while she desperately hunts for Nickelodeon.

Indeed, in our world, calls from Producer Dude go more like this:

"Dude. I just got off the phone with one of the investors. His cousin Bjorn really wants to break into acting, so they'd like to find a way to work him into the movie..."

"Ok. I'm sure we can come up with something."

"... as the lead."

"Ah. I see. Well... that's really a business and creative decision. We're just the writers. I'm sure you'll do whatever's best for the..."

"He's Swedish."

"Ok. That may be a bit odd, as our lead is a former US Army Special Forces guy. And black. But we'll find a way to work through it."

"And he doesn't speak English. I have faith you'll figure it out. Talk to you soon."

At which point Dave and I would engage in a Writer's Deathmatch to determine who wins the prize for taking first pass at THAT revision.

See? As much as things are DIFFERENT in the "real budget" versus "b budget" worlds, they're similar, too. The scale of issues is just different. You do rewrites for business-driven reasons. You tweak for cast members that are dictated by unseen forces pulling purse-strings. Creative is key, but only insomuch as it supports a clear business objective.

Which is fine... there's a reason its called Show-BUSINESS. I can subvert my creative urges in order to further the film's success on the funding/sales/distribution front.

Just so long as we don't find ourselves working on "An American Hero II," starring Bjorn Skaarskaargaardaang as our next project.


* The above conversation has never actually taken place. But its the kinda call I could imagine us getting.

** I'm just kidding about the Dakota-is-a-tyrant thing. I'm sure she's a delightful young lady. Please don't kill us, Dakota.

One Drawback of Writing Partnerships...

The Waiting.

To quote Tom Petty: It's the hardest part.

See I did a round of revisions and sent them to Charlie a few days ago, and I've been waiting and waiting for his re-writes while he went off on some business trip to some rain-soaked city or another.

I have flashes of brilliance that I need to get down on screen, but I have to wait for Charlie to drag his sorry butt to the computer, away from his sick kid and from that stupid job that actually pays his bills.

Of course, I could go ahead and do my changes, but then we could send competing versions past each other in the ethernet and get all confused. So instead I wait.

It's one of the pitfalls of writing with a partner. You're not 100% in control of the process. You rely on someone else. And let's face it, no one is as smart as you are, right? You have all the good ideas, your partner is only there to fill in the blanks and take half the credit. Why do you even need your partner? Kill them! Kill them now!

Too much thinking like this can overwhelm reason and lead to a lot of broken partnerships. I try with all my might to get a hold of myself and remind myself from time to time that, at least in my case, my partner rocks. I can stand the occasional waiting (after all, it's not like I was doing a lot of writing while my wife was giving birth to our son earlier this month.) for the good that comes from this relationship.

Because there are times when having him right there (on IM, though he's a few thousand miles away) is priceless. We can just IM each other and bounce food analogies back and forth looking for the right thing for the bad guy to taunt the hero with.

"Time to eat."


"Order up."

"He already said that."

"Oh. Damn."

"We can't say Damn in the movie."

"I know, I know. The 'damn' was me to you, not for the script."

"Stay with me, David. Food."

"Sorry. Damn. Time to pay the check? Time to whip out the Diner's Club Card?"

"That's stupid."

"Diner's club is funny."

"Maybe, but it's still stupid. But maybe something with the check."

"Can he say Order Up here and something else back there?"

"Well, it would mess up his character development arc..."


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Some thoughts on Blood...

So I've previously discussed how, because of the sensitivities involved in international markets, we can't really have the characters swear or show nudity.

Another key point falling into this category is the graphic depiction of blood.

"But Charlie," you're surely saying to yourself, "you said this was a shoot 'em up action flick?!"

Right. We can have someone get riddled to swiss cheese in a hail of gunfire, no sweat.

He just can't bleed.

Now many writers would take this as a major creative stumbling block, but Dave and I took it as a challenge. I mean... sure, shooting someone and having them bleed seems like the ol' logical standby in a shoot-em-up, but this gave us a chance to explore non-bloody ways to killing bad-guys.

For example...

- Hangings

- Stranglings

- Neck-breakings

- Aneurysms

- Heart attacks (it is the #1 killer of adult men)

- Stroke

- Slipping and falling and hitting your temple on the corner of the stairs. What? It happens.

- Drownings! Almost forgot drownings!

- Immolations (oh, who am I kidding... if we can't bleed someone out, they sure won't let us set someone on fire)

You get the idea.

But let's be honest here. I haven't fooled you, have I?

Ok Fine. You're right. Its gonna be 90 minutes of people getting shot, w/o blood spurting out. What can I do?! If you want gore, go watch "Friday the 13th CXVII." We're SIEGE, man. 100% cursing, blood and nudity free!

Unless you're watching in the US, in which case we'll hopefully run with the marketing slogan... "SIEGE: NOW WITH 100% MORE BOOBIES!"

And lets be honest. Wouldn't you rather have boobs than blood?


P.S. Shout-out to BMovieWriters Blog homie A.C. who was kind enough to hook up with me in Seattle last weekend for drinks and dinner. Good to see you and your lovely girlfriend, amigo.

When Collaborations Go Wrong

Just a brief post. Earlier today an online buddy introduced me to someone I don't know by referencing this page:


I didn't even know the Brunching Shuttlecocks website was still up, much less this little short film, which represents the last time Dave and I collaborated.

Dave wrote, filmed and edited this cute little short mocking the Aligator Hunter guy on the Discovery Channel.

And I hammed my way up, (over)acting my way through the role of a Steve Irwin wannabe, investigating the strange lives of cats.

Watching it, you'll realize why I turned away from acting and am focusing on the writing end of things. Mind you, it may also make you wonder why Dave's still writing, if THIS is what happens once his words get into the hands of a thespian.

Hehehe. I said thespian.


Friday, December 02, 2005

How Good Does it Need to Be?

While I sit patiently waiting for Charlie to get off his ass and do his revision to the script, I started to think about the art of revisions. Writing a script is only the first part of the game. Re-writing it is the next part, and often the lion's share of the work.

I read and re-read the current draft. It's a step-by-step draft. This happens, then that happens, then this happens. We've done a good job in making sure that all the points connect, all the gunmen get killed, etc. Now we need to add the life to it. Make it sing. Bring these people to life.

Without screwing up the step-by-step stuff.

It's a balancing act. Maybe the wife needs a 2-page scene to describe what she's really thinking about the revelations being thrown in her face, give her an emotional core, but can we afford to stop the action for 2 pages of talking heads? Writing today's action movies (even today's action B-movies) is not as easy as it ought to be. We are so caffeinated and jumpy, desiring non-stop thrills, that we no longer have time to create characters.

A while back, I took another look at Raiders of the Lost Ark. A movie I would give my left nut to write. There are 7 action sequences in the film. Sounds like a lot, but it isn't. 10, 15 minutes at a time go by without any action. Think we could get away with that today? Go watch Die Hard sometime. That film is SLOW.

Now, if a character mentions that he's getting over a divorce in one throw-away comment, that's high character development. In a way, we're left with creating gimmick characters. The guy who laughs at everything, the woman who is overly sexual, the stutterer. Their affectations are their characters. So that's what we have to go in Siege and create.

High art? Maybe not, but it'll give you an idea of who these people are while they're shooting at each other.

Of course the real question is, does it matter? Do we need to make these characters more developed? Will anyone care?

Maybe, in the end, we'll care. And that's enough.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Hooters. Boobies Ta-tas. Knockers. Juggs. And We've (Maybe) Got 'Em!

So aren't we all glad Dave's back? I know I am! He actually finished his first pass at our first draft last night, solving some serious Gunmen issues. He mentioned in this blog that he was working on it, but after that, he discovered that we had a couple of dangling gunmen. Dude's who we'd introduced earlier in the flick, but never resolved later.

Apparently they were just wandering around in the yard while all hell broke loose inside the house. I kept suggesting we have a meteorite hit the yard, smiting them both, but he wasn't going for it. No.... Dave wanted to do it the "RIGHT" way. So... Dave did a great job of cleaning that up. God bless ya, Dave.

But that's not what I'm here to write about.

NAY! I'm here today to talk about Boobs. That's right. Good ol' fashioned, all-American, red-blooded Cans.

Last night he IM's me, with major, exciting news. Below is the actual exchange (I'm "SanPiero" and Dave is "bbs7ucco"):

bbs7ucco: dude. so like I'm chatting with Producer Guy, and they might shoot a version of the bathroom scene in the beginning when Connor and Linda are getting hot and heavy with Linda topless!

sanpiero: YEAH!?!?!?

sanpiero: for US market?

sanpiero: and europe?

bbs7ucco: yup. his Domestic distributors have been bugging him about adding a little skin (boobs only) into his pictures, there are some domestic buyers who won't touch it without that. he's never done that, especially since International specifically CAN'T have that kind of stuff.

sanpiero: nice

sanpiero: so they shoot it twice

sanpiero: I like it. Hey... wait a minute... how's he even know about that bathroom scene?

bbs7ucco: well he mentioned it as something to think about for any future films we write for him, and I said "You know, if you want, there's a scene in Siege that could easily be done to show some skin if you want.)

sanpiero: nice!

bbs7ucco: right. shoot it first with her in bra and panties, as it's written, then take the bra off and shoot it again.

sanpiero: excellent. SO... um... any idea when they'll shoot that?

bbs7ucco: what do you mean? They're still in early pre-pro. They haven't set any dates yet for anything.

sanpiero: right. But... you know... maybe a ballpark date? They'll be doing that down in Orlando, right? Like... 6 or 7 hours from here? Easy car ride.

bbs7ucco: no idea.

sanpiero: Ok. But probably in early January, huh? Do you think they'll use a body double, or will it really be the actress' boobs?

bbs7ucco: Dude... I have no idea.

sanpiero: I bet it'll be the real actress. Wow.

bbs7ucco: You're kind of creeping me out.

sanpiero: Actress boobies. Man, oh man.

bbs7ucco: Knock it off.

sanpiero: Are they going to get the actress we talked about? She seems like she'd have great boobs.

bbs7ucco: *** Error while sending IM: This user is currently not logged on

sanpiero: Dave?

bbs7ucco: *** Error while sending IM: This user is currently not logged on

sanpiero: Dang.

So there you have it. A major breakthru in our movie.

We can't actually *SAY* "tits," but we can have 'em.

Hooray for Hollywood!


Back in the Saddle (How many Gunmen does it take...)

Greetings one and.. well, one. (Our stats say that's about all the readership we get. So Hi! How're the kids?)

Speaking of Kids, I had one. A son. Griffin James Neilsen. The First. Yeah, I like that. Griffin James Neilsen I. Let him start his own dynasty if he wants. Sweet.

So I've been doing the whole "I've got a 2-week old and you don't" routine for a couple of weeks, combined with the "I've also got a 2 1/2-year old and you might" thing, it's kept me busy.

But Hollywood (or at least Orlando) calls, so I need to jump back in the saddle (mmm... leathery...) and see where we are.

As Charlie has mentioned, he has sent me what amounts to nothing less than a complete draft of our opus. I then went ahead and re-wrote the ending so it was less.. sucky. Now I'm currently going through the entire script, making it clean, pretty, and making sure it smells good.

And I'm counting Gunmen.

We have a lot of Evil Gunmen in the script. Our hero dispatches them periodically in inventive and original ways.. or by shooting them, depending on how creative we were feeling at the time. Thing is, we kinda lost track of how many there are and so forth, so right now, my main task is to go through and count them.

It goes a lot like this:

"OK, He sends three Gunmen into the room. One is killed. That means the other two live to be sent somewhere else."

"He kills three in this room. Where did they come from? Oh, one of them went in that other room. OK. That's one less we need."

"Where did this guy come from? Oh, a previous draft. He's this other guy now, yeah, got him. He dies in the next scene."

"OK, there's supposed to be four here, but then they disappear. That can't be good."

And so on. A lot of Gunmen Revisionist History going on right now.

Next script.. nothing but puppies.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

So close... and yet...

Wrapped up *my* pass at the final scenes of the movie over the weekend.

Basically it encompassed the final battle between our lead, and the lead villain. Epic battle of Tolstoy-esque proportions. It has it all... Kung-fu. Gun-fu. Hedge-clipper-fu. Chainsaw-fu. Lawn-fu. Land Rover-fu.

And not one, but two plot twists.

It was very exciting to actually write "FADE TO BLACK," hit save, and know that the first draft of the first draft was complete.

That is, until Dave takes it and performs Script-fu on it. THEN we'll actually be done with the first draft. First he has to find some time in his currently very full schedule of Paternity-fu to write.

And then the fun really begins.

We'll re-read it, and promptly shred the entire bloody thing to massage it into a decent SECOND DRAFT.

Once that's done, it'll be ready to go to Producer Man, at which point we'll get his notes, thrash it again, and crank out a THIRD DRAFT.

Once that's complete, back it goes. If we're lucky he'll be happy and share it with the MONEY and distribution types (I guess?), who'll probably have their notes, and we'll go in for the FOURTH DRAFT.

That settled, we'll pass it back. The actors will read it, and demand rewrites, necessitating the FIFTH DRAFT.

Hey... waitaminit.

This thing starts shooting in like 6 weeks, last I heard.

We'd better get hoppin'.

Heh. Dave'd better buy some NO-DOZE.


Thursday, November 17, 2005

The 17 Dirty Words... or Tell The International Market to Go Straight To... Er.... Heck. *sigh*

Once Dave and I started writing, we got into a pretty good groove.

Basically our process was broken into 6 steps:

1. Charlie writes a first pass at a scene. Sends it to Dave.

2. Dave prints the scene out, reads it carefully, composes some constructive feedback, and then lines his kitty litter box with it.

3. Dave completely re-writes what Charlie has written, maybe keeping one or two lines, so that Charlie doesn't feel completely worthless as both a human being and a writer.

4. Dave writes another scene on his own. Sends revisions + his new stuff back to Charlie.

5. Charlie sees the changes Dave made. Feels like an idiot for not having written it that well to begin with. Makes unnecessary tweaks to Dave's new scene out of spite.

6. Charlie drinks to fight back the rage and sorrow.

And like I said... its a process that's been working out well for us. Yes, us, and Mr. Jack Daniels.

But I digress. As usual.

Pretty early in the game, I noticed a consistent series of changes Dave was making to my writing. I'd craft a scene where a badass tough-guy would say something like:

"I'm going to rip off your head and sh*t down your throat..."

and Dave would edit it to:

"I'm gonna kill you!"

or I'd write...

"Someone cut off all the god**amn electricity!"

and it would come back as:

"Someone cut off the friggin' electricity!"

Frankly it was making me mental. I mean... bad guys curse. We all know they do. They say the "F" word, and the "s" word, and even "damn." Its a known fact. You show me a bad guy who isn't droppin' F-bombs every other word, and I'll show you a guy who's heart isn't in it.

So finally, I was like "Dave... What the fuc... er... heck, man?" (I wasn't sure if maybe it was a personal thing, and he'd given up swearing, what with a new kid coming and all)

"International market" was the reply.

Huh? They don't curse abroad?

He gave me a long-winded explaination about how in many of the foreign territories where this film will sell, cursing impacts the marketability. Asian sensibilities. Arabic sensibilities. Muslim sensibilities. Amish sensibilities. Scientologist sensibilities. Whatever.

So I tried cleaning things up. Basically went with Carlin's rule of the 7 Dirty Words. Continued writing. Sent drafts to Dave. And got back notes like...

"Uh... Charlie? There were two damns, a bitch, and an asshole in this draft."

"Hey dude... I don't judge the characters you make up..."

"No, I mean the cursing. You did it again. You can't say damn. Or bitch. Or asshole. Or even ass."

"What about arse? That's international."


"I can't even use curse words that they use on primetime television?"



"Definitely no. I'm pretty sure that's on Carlin's list to begin with."


"Yeah... you could probably say Penis."

"I'm not gonna write someone saying the word penis. At least not unless we're doing KINSEY II: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO."

Ironic, isn't it, that I can't use the word "sh*t," when its what Dave's cat is doing on the drafts I've sent over.

Up Next: How to write a guns-blazing, knives-flying, bodies-falling, shoot-em-up extravaganza... without blood.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Very short hiatus...

Please excuse us while we take a very short (day or two) hiatus.

Dave and his lovely family have just welcomed a new addition to their fold (YAY NEILSENS!!), and I've been tending to a sick kid of my own.

Which greatly reduces blogging time... especially when we're working on the last scene of the script in what little time we have available.

yeah... up to the final scene of the (first draft) of the movie!! Woo woo!

Anyhow... give us a day or so, and we'll post another update. Maybe I'll tell the story of the Seven Dirty Words, and how its impacted our screenplay.


Monday, November 07, 2005

What's In A Name?

So for relatively obvious reasons, naming our film "Die Hard In A House" didn't really seem viable.

Not that we didn't consider it. I mean, given budgetary limitations, having the words "DIE HARD" in the title of the film seems pretty appealing to me, that's for sure. But you know how it goes... lawyers... expensive legal counsel... cease-and-desist letters from Twentieth Century Fox... blah blah blah.

So we needed a name. From Day 1, Dave and I were calling it "Safehouse." Seemed like a pretty solid title. One of those good "double meaning" kind of titles... (you know... "Face Off"). I could envision it on a box, sitting on the shelf at Blockbuster. Sounds action-y, but not mindless.

In addition, I'm told it was the title of a 90's era movie starring Patrick Stewart, which meant we had a decent chance of capturing that critical "Suckered Trekkie Who Didn't Look Closely Enough At The Box" demographic.

I'm pretty sure Producer Dude was digging it, too.

Which meant, of course, that the investors (aka THE MONEY) hated it. I'm still not 100% sure what the concern was, but I believe they felt it wasn't action oriented enough. Naturally, I would disagree, but hey... its their money, so who am I to bitch?

So we went back to the drawing board. We racked our brains. We quizzed friends and family. And then we put together a new list. Here are some of the alternate titles we came up with:

The War of 1812... S. Magnolia Avenue.
The Thrilla In The Villa
Warhouse (say it outloud to really appreciate it)
Extreme Home Takeover
The War Upstairs
Home Jeopardy
Condemned Property
Final Estate
House Under Fire
House On Fire
Under Siege
Home Front
Home Invasion
Line of Defense
Army of One
The Infiltrator
The Invaders
Personal Invasion
Against The Wall
Line in the Sand
Defending the Castle
McGuyver's Bitch
The Assault
Under Fire

So we submitted our list to Producer Dude, who edited out all the really crap ones, leaving him with a list of like... I dunno... three titles maybe? I hope "Home Invasion" was on that list. I really liked that title.

Anyhow... the MONEY carefully reviewed the list and gave us their choice:


Huh? I'm sure if you scrub that list above, you'll see that "Siege" is nowhere to be found. Dave tried his best with Producer Dude.

"Safehouse Siege?"

"No... just... Siege."

"Safehouse Under Siege?"


"McGuyver's Bitch Siege?"

"That's quite enough, Dave."

"Ok. Fine."

So... Siege it is.

I'll be utterly honest and say that I hated it at first, but its grown on me. Sure, it has questionable relevance to the movie itself, but it sounds pretty badass. In addition, it has the possibility of appealing to an even broader audience than "Safehouse" - specifically the enviable "Suckered Denzel Washington, Bruce Willis, Annette Bening, or Tony Shaloub Fan Who Didn't Look Closely Enough At The Box" demographic.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Our Pitch

So I got Charlie on board. I'm on board. It was time to write.

See, here's the silly, silly thing. Producer Dude basically said "Will you write me a movie?" I said "Yes, we will." He said "OK. It shoots in January."

So plans are set in motion. Deals are being made. Money is being collected.

And we didn't even have an idea yet.

What we had were PARAMETERS.

1) One location.
2) Action.
3) No special effects.
4) Don't suck.

That last one is more a guideline than a rule.

There are other rules, based on the markets Producer Dude can sell to (Helllll-oooooo South Korea!) but when push comes to shove, what you see is what you get.

So. One location. 90 minutes. Exciting. Fast-moving. Adrenaline-pumping. One location.

Anyone know if "No Exit" is available to be adapted? What, not exciting enough?

Charlie and I put our two heads together and came up with a bunch of really cool ideas. Then we dropped them all because they took place in, like, LOTS of locations. Silly us. Then we had some more ideas and they.. they also needed a couple of locations. This wasn't going very well.

Eventually, of course, we found an idea. And what was really great was that Producer Dude actually liked it. Which is good, becuase he'd already bought it. More or less.

Is it a work of art? Uhm... no... Will it make for a fun movie that you can enjoy while eating popcorn? (Do they eat popcorn in South Korea?) Yes.

Here it is. Our pitch.

Die Hard in a house.

It's actually a bit more complicated than that, but I don't want to give anything away and deprive our Reader the joy of discovering the plot twists when he/she has it shipped to them from overseas so they can watch it.

So. Die Hard in a house. Without the budget. Or Bruce Willis.

There are those who will say that Bruce himself already made Die Hard in a house.

It was called Hostage.

Didn't see it.

I gotta go write now.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Every Batman Needs a Robin

So you've met my esteemed writing partner Dave...

My aplogies. Hopefully he hasn't offended you already. He will, though. Give it time.

I'm Charlie Flint. As Dave pointed out, he approached me a few weeks ago to partner with him on the creation of this magnum opus. Gone With The Wind. The Ten Commandments. Raging Bull. And now our little flick. Sure, they had massive budgets, and big stars, and... well... more than one location... but we've got... well... we've got chutzpah. Yeah. That's right. I said it. Chutzpah.

Chutzpah and Dave Neilsen, screenwriter with a produced flick!

But back to me. Me. Me. Me. As Dave noted, I am a previously unsuccessful screenwriter (insomuch as one judges success by sales). Dave and I have actually written together before, and if anyone out there is interested in a fun little sci-fi flick about cops, political intrigue, time travel, and the Masons (yes... the Masons), have we got a deal for you. I've written a few other things, both alone and with partners, all of which sits in a box, locked up, at the local U-STOR-IT. The one notable exception being a treatment for a TV series, which a partner and I created in 2000 and optioned to Pearson (aka Freemantle) Television, the guys who produce American Idol. It sat in a box in their U-STOR-IT in Santa Monica until the option expired and it shriveled up and died on the proverbial vine. But... hey!... it sold!

Yeah. My writing career was such a hit that I recently moved from LA to Atlanta, GA, and am working as a project manager for a big dot-com by day and collaborating with Dave on the movie at night.

Anyhow... so the prospect of actually seeing something I've written end up on screen is very exciting. I've really been enjoying the collaborative process with Dave, and hope its working for him, too. After all, I already have ideas for installments #2 and #3 of the epic trilogy this film will launch...

Sorry... just a point of clarification. When I said "end up on screen" in the previous paragraph, what I actually mean is *TV* screen, assuming I can get an import of the flick on DVD from Uzbekistan, where it'll actually be released.

Introductions out of the way, I'm looking forward to helping tell the story of our story. Its got heartache. Intrigue. Danger. Fistfights. Lovemaking. And that's just the screenwriting process.

*ahem* Where was I?

Oh yeah... looking forward to it.

Once More Unto the Breech

Hi. My name is David Neilsen, and I write movies.

Lots of people write movies, actually, so I'm nothing special. What sets me apart from most is that I've had a movie made. One. It's called The Eliminator, and you should order it on Netflix, buy it from, or rent it from Blockbuster.

Not because it's any good mind you. But because I wrote it, and it got made. And theoretically I get some sort of backend three decades down the line.

I have a friend, a young man named Charlie Flint who you will all come to like a lot more than you like me. He also writes movies. However, unless I'm totally wrong about this, he's never had one made.

But that's going to change.

It all starts when my contacts came rumbling to me about the desire to make another film. My friend the Producer (I'll call him "Producer Dude" for now) called me up.

"David. I need another script. All the scripts I have are horrible."

"Producer Dude, you have, like, three more of my scripts sitting around."

"As I said, all the ones I have are horrible. I need a new one that I can shoot very quickly. It should be exciting, filled with action, explosions, crazy stunts, great visuals, leave room for a sequel, and take place in one location."


"Still there?"

"...Let me get back to you."

Now normally, I'd jump on this all my own and craft a masterpiece in e-flat and that's that. But not this time. This time I realized that a) I didn't want to go through this alone, b) I had a good friend who would be awesome to work with again, and c) my wife was having a baby in a couple months. C, of course, meant that I wasn't going to have the time I'd normally have to spit this script out. All things pointed to me roping in my friend to write this with me. So I gave him a call. (or rather, an IM.)

"Hi Charlie. Want to write a movie for Producer Dude with me?"

"Will we get paid?"


"A lot?"


"Will it get made?"


"Doesn't he have, like, three other scripts of yours sitting on the shelf?"

"Don't go there."

"Cool. I'm in."

So there you go. The die was cast. I contacted Producer Dude and said we were game. We'd write his movie. It would be exciting. Filled with action. All that stuff. And it'd be done lickity-split.

Now all we needed was a story...