Thursday, March 30, 2006

Well Look What The Cat Dragged In...

So, baby step toward the miracle of all miracles...

Last night I got home, checked the mail, and there was a shiny package, containing the contract from Producer Dude.

Read through it. Everything seemed in order. The terms we all agreed to seemed to be in order. TV rights? CHECK. MOW rights? CHECK. Backend participation? CHECK.

Yup. It all looks pretty good, with one exception.

The title of the film is misspelled.

Now... God knows I've transposed the I and E in SIEGE a thousand times right here on this blog, so no biggie, but it does mean some contract tweakage.

Well... that, or we quickly bang out a new screenplay called "SEIGE," the moving story of Helmut Seige, the double-amputee 200 meter men's hurdles runner from Germany in the 1940s.



In the meantime, as Dave mentioned, we've been plugging along on the Ghost Pygmy Tribe project, with a caveat.

As you may recall, he sent me the first 30 pages, and I volleyed with the next several scenes. Interestingly, this forced us to pause and realize that we hadn't really flushed out the concept terribly well...

DAVE: Um... so Charlie? Why do you have this "silo"-esque room, other than that it would look cool? What's the purpose of it?

CHARLIE: Beats me. Why do you have the "cavern"-esque room with the bones?

DAVE: Touche. Beats me, too. Well... what about the guy who looks down from the dark window? Who's that?

CHARLIE: Ermmm... a mysterious figure? You had some guy in your scene... what the hell's that tribal shaman fella gonna do?

DAVE: Um... I dunno yet. Something, though. At some point.

And, thus, a consensus was born. We would step back, actually THINK the whole freakin' thing through, and apply some gen-u-ine process and procedure to the thing.

See... a lot of writers will hash out every major beat of a screenplay, often going to far as to put them down on index cards, which you can then pin to the wall, allowing you to see the flow of the story, and rearrange "virtually" before a word is really even written.

Dave and I have a term for those kind of writers: Uptight assholes.

Sure... the rest of the industry calls them "professionals" and pays them lots of money, but we look upon them with scorn.

I kid, of course, but we did get ahead of ourselves with this one. So we've regrouped.

We've written one-page bios for all our major characters. We've written out the "mythology" behind the dark happenings we're writing about. And we've researched and documented the geography and native culture of the film's setting (wrapping that into a larger backstory for the tribe of ghostly pygmies we've mentioned).

In short, we have a mini-bible at this point. YAY DAVE AND CHARLIE!

Now we're working out the major plot elements and beats. We don't have index cards yet because... well... as I noted, we look down our noses at those guys.

Ok. Fine. Until we get paid for SIEGE SEIGE, we can't afford index cards. But whatever.

Point is, we're hitting all the major beats. And THEN (and only then) once we've done that, we'll start over and revisit the actual script.

See? We can do structure!! We can do order!! We can do chronology!! We can do character development!! We can do STORY!

(Robert McKee... feel free to give me a call)


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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

No, really. This time we mean it.

So a couple weeks ago I wrote about how our contracts were in the mail.

They weren't.

So this time they are. No really. This time they really are in the mail.

But we're not supposed to sign them just yet.

Producer Dude wants us to have the contracts, to read them, to look over them, to make sure we're cool with them. But we're NOT to sign them until the money is in his grubby little hands.

(Producer Dude's hand's aren't grubby. The money is grubby. When anyone handles cash-cash, their hands become grubby. I hope to have very grubby hands myself soon.)

So sometime in the next couple of days, I should get contracts delivered to my door. (Charlie will also get his delivered, but as he's in Atlanta, they'll be delivered via horse and buggy.) All I can think of is.. GOD I hope these contracts are what we expect them to be. The last thing we need is to read them through and see mistakes. I mean it took this long to wrest contracts out of Producer Dude, you think we want to start over?

So there's Siege. The same story you're been reading (both of you) for, what? five months? More?

The latest on our pygmy/Devil/Adventure/Horror movie is that we've been doing homework. Last week we each took turns writing character bios and backstory. Now we're writing some ideas, putting things together, trying to - get this - craft the story before we try writing it. Wild idea, huh?

I think it's been a good thing, I hope Charlie thinks so as well. It's certainly popped some thoughts into my head, and given me a better idea about the story. But on the other hand, it's homework. Uhg.


One final note. Over the last week or so, I've watched the entire series of Firefly, plus the feature film, Serenity.

My God, that rocks. My God they need to pick up this series. You're telling me Sci-Fi Channel can't order up a new season of Firefly to slot into Sci-Fi Friday or to start a new Sci-Fi night? Come on, they're already airing the repeats, someone tell them to order up new episodes and let's get this party started!

Truly magical television. Followed by a fantastic movie that didn't succeed because, well, it was such an extention of the series, that you kinda got a little lost without knowing the series. But it was great, and I want more.

Peace Out.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


If you're a regular reader, like me (and odds are you aren't... I'm actually convinced I'm B Movie Writers only regular reader), you're dying to know how things went with Dave's pitch to the SciFi Network.

Every day, as soon as he logs onto IM, I message him.


"Oh, Hi Charlie. How's life in the future?"

See... I live and work in Atlanta. Dave's in LA. Because of the time difference - we're three hours ahead - he insists I live in the future. You know... the usual... "Anything happening today at Noon I should prepare myself for?" "Is it a good day in the future?" "Do you have robots that do your bidding there in the future?"

But I digress.


"Well, What?"
he always replies.

"Well, have you heard about the SciFi thing!?"

"Oh... that."
He tries to play it cool, like it barely registers on his radar. Please. You and I both know that Dave would kill to have one of his scripts produced by SciFi, starring Bruce Campbell and Walter Koenig.

"I haven't heard anything... could be any day now. I'm not sweating it."

And that, my friends, is showbiz. That phrase:


is involved in roughly 1/3 of the conversations Dave and I have. Its really just a variation on a theme.

--------Common Variation 1----------


"Oh, Hi Charlie. How's life in the future?"

You know the drill here by now.


"Well, What?"
he always replies.

"Well, have you heard if the financing has closed? Are we getting paid for SIEGE?!?"

"Oh... that."
He tries to play it cool, like it barely registers on his radar. Please. You and I both know that Dave would kill to get paid and have SIEGE go into production.

"I haven't heard anything... could be any day now. I'm not sweating it."

--------------Common Variation 2------------


"Oh, Hi Charlie. How's life in the future?"

Having a GroundHog Day feeling yet?


"Well, What?"
he still replies.

"Well, have you finished writing your scenes!?"

"Oh... that."
He tries to play it cool, like it barely registers on his radar. Please. You and I both know that Dave spent the weekend changing diapers, mowing the lawn and... in his spare time... writing non-Charlie scripts for his buddies at SciFi.

"I'm working on it... could be any day now. I'm not sweating it."


There's a lot of "WELL" time in our relationship. Don't get me wrong... I have no complaints. And it certainly goes both ways. For that last variation, imagine Dave asking *ME* "WELL?!?!" every day since last Tuesday, as I dragged ass in getting back to him with my first scenes from the unnamed Pygmie Ghost Tribe project.

Mind you, that resulted in its own thread every hour, on the hour, yesterday, after I finally got it to him.



"Oh, Hi Charlie. How's life in the future?"



"Well, What?"
He's like a broken record, huh?

"Well, what did you think about what I wrote???"

"Oh... that."
He tries to play it cool, like it barely registers on his radar. Please. You and I both know that Dave would kill to have Charlie Kaufman as his writing partner.

"It was okay. Kinda verbose. And the waterfall of spiders thing... I'm not really feeling it. And the characters suddenly got all flippant and light on us. The tone's wierd. But I like the rest. You know... the line where the character asks what direction they're heading. That works. Let's tweak the rest, though. I'm not sweating it."

Sometimes I regret asking "WELL?!"


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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Being Used Can Be Fun

Being a much better and more accomplished writer than Charlie, good things happen to me all the time.

- People shove copies of The Eliminator in my face, hoping for an autograph. (Fat chance!)

- I get invited to hot events, like most of Paris' parties (I had to miss the bondage/shopping spree fest), advanced screenings of the latest blockbusters (Curious George rocks!), and Kate and Tom's baby shower (Got to use the sonogram!).

- People give me free things all the time. (Haven't paid for groceries in years!)

So it was no surprise when a big-time Hollywood manager called me up the other day.

NOTE: The following story is true. Most of what I wrote above is, well, not true.

Though I DID go to the premiere of Curious George. And it does rock.

A friend handed off some of my writing to a manager-friend of theirs a while back. Said Manager, who shall remain nameless, read my writing and liked it. I had a nice meeting with Said Manager. We've kept in touch, but nothing overly impressive has come of it to this point. I.E. Said Manager has not actually signed me up as a client yet. Hope springs eternal.

But Said Manager called me up last week.

"David, Said Manager here."

"Hi, Said."

"I have a meeting with Sci-Fi Channel and I need some ideas to pitch them for TV Movies. You're my go-to guy for Sci-Fi. Do you know Sci-Fi Channel? You got anything I can bring to them?"

Do I know Sci-Fi Channel? Am I obsessed with Sci-Fi Fridays? Did I hurl a cushion at the screen when Battlestar Galactica announced that it'd return in October, a full 7 months from now? Have I noticed that they seem stuck in a rut with their TV Movies? (Manticore! Minotaur! Cerebus! Mammoth!) Did I actually sit through that really bad Dungeons and Dragons made-for-cable sequel they pushed on us a while back? Do I admit to seeing the first Dungeons and Dragons movie in the theaters?

"Yeah, I know the channel. I can come up with some ideas for you."

"Great, email them to me in 20 minutes, ok?"

I know I'm being used, here. I know Said Manager probably hung up with me and called 10 other desperate writers with the same story. I know we all gave Said Manager 3 or 4 or, in my case 5 TV Movie ideas and that Said Manager went into the meeting, chose the best 3 from the 20 that were submitted, and pitched away. I know that the odds that one of mine made the cut are minimal.

But dudes. I kinda, sorta, pitched Sci-Fi Channel! Woo!

If, Lord Almighty Gandalf willing, Sci-Fi liked one of my ideas and wanted to go for it, wouldn't that be sweet? I'll answer that.

Yes, it would be sweet.

So naturally, here's hoping they got excited over my pitch for "Mermaid!" I see Bruce Campbell and Lucy Lawless as the leads. With that chick from Roswell as the evil, killer mermaid. Think I got a chance?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Fits, Starts, & Pygmies

Life kinda moves in fits and starts, ya know?

For example, Dave and I struggled to really get the "Horror movie" idea off the ground. We talked through a really killer concept, and even had some good characters forming up, but it never really got cranking beyond that.

But this new idea... I'll call it "Ghost Tribe" for now, just to be mysterious and alluring (I don't think we have a real title for it yet)... Has gelled together really quickly. In fact, late last week Dave sent me the first 30 pages, which he pounded out. And its good. Scary stuff in a couple of places. Lots of action. Some old school gore. And pygmies. That's right, baby... Pygmies! Plan now would be for me to edit, add the next scene or two, and then toss back.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Essentially the same process that resulted in the epic masterpiece known as SIEGE. But our writing process seems to happen in fits and starts. We stutter along for a bit... And then BAM... We crank.

Speaking of which, that beast continues to stutter along in fits and starts of its own. Dave blogged last week that the contracts were in the air. Unfortunately, over the weekend we learned (after... You know... Not actually receiving any contracts) exactly why we've been wise not to count our chickens on this gig.

The contracts are NOT in the air. To be precise, they never even left the ground. Apparently Producer Dude decided he'd wait for the money to 100% hit the coffers before mailing them. Nothing nefarious... Just a change of plan. So... Looks like we'll have to wait another week or so. Honestly at this point I can't remember when the dough is supposed to be in. Its changed so many times I can't keep track.

Fits and starts. No big deal. We knew going in that it'd probably be like that, and both just wait for the day it all comes together. Until then, we'll weave our tale of jungle terror, buried secrets... And killer pygmies.


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Saturday, March 11, 2006

When The Shorts Hit the Fan

A couple of nights ago, a writing group I'm involved with here in LA (remember, Charlie's in Atlanta, Kosovo, Mars, someplace far away like that) held a public screening of 7 short films we'd written and produced.

One of those seven was written by me. I also produced it (with help) . And I was the leading actor in it (I knew the producer).

We held the screening at a funky club in Hollywood, four big screens on the walls, people drinking, laughing, watching, enjoying. Big crowd (close to 200 people). Plenty of shmaltz to go around.

Watching my short (and by extention, watching myself) up on those big screens was a hoot. My short went first (never a good position) and did fine. It wasn't the best of the evening (I easily admit) but folks liked it. Laughed at a lot of the right places, didn't laugh in any wrong places, gave me a friendly ovation when it was over.

What does this have to do with Producer Dude and Siege and the Next Big Horror Movie? Well everything you do is a learning process. I wrote this script (called Irwin's Special Friend) last summer. We shot it in August (mine was the first of seven that we shot as a group, the last one being finished, like, two weeks ago). It's got a subtle humor. Well, as subtle as you can get when one of the main characters is Death. My humor is often (though not always) subtle. Quiet. Unassuming. The kind of stuff that you go home afterwards and go "You know, that was really quite funny." and then you down a shot of Scotch and say "But the one with the man-on-pig sex, that one was REALLY funny."

I don't tend to write man-on-pig sex very often. And my humor is often enjoyed, appreciated, but then forgotten. I'm the nice girl who everyone likes but no one will take to the prom. The one where, at the prom, they go "Hey, where's David? You know, Girl David?" and they say "What? I thought she was going to the prom with you?" and they say "Me? I'm here with this hot blonde who can't count to three. I thought you were bringing Girl David to the prom?" and they answer "Well I'm here with Yvette of the Long Tongue." and finally someone says "Didn't ANYONE think to bring Girl David to the prom?" and they all shrug their shoulders, admit what a bummer it is that I'm not there, and then go have nasty man-on-pig sex. While their dates watch and take notes.

I'm not trying to get a date here. (I went to my prom. Brought a girl and everything. Unfortunately, she didn't really like me, but that's another post.) The point is, we can, and should, learn a lot every time we write something. Let alone everytime we write something that gets made. Writing Siege, I pulled up a lot of useful stuff I learned while writing and making Eliminator. When I sit down to write and produce my next short film (and yes, there will be another), I'll pull from what I've learned making Irwin's Special Friend.

Not that this has much of anything to do with writing C-movies. Other than to point out that I had a big Hollywood Premiere this week, and you didn't.

Do you like parentheses as much as I do? (I like them a lot.)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

"Hey, did you see the grosses for Gandhi 2?"

Last night I watched the pilot for the new series "THE UNIT" on CBS. The show is a Tom Clancy-esque look into the missions, and personal lives, of the men in a top-secret Army Unit (presumably Delta Force, tho its not named as such).

I actually liked the show quite a bit, though it wasn't perfect. It has a really solid leading cast in Dennis Haysbert (President Palmer of "24" fame), Scott Foley ("Felicity), and Robert Patrick ("Terminator 2," "X-Files," "Walk The Line"), and a pretty strong supporting cast, as well.

But what really struck me most about the show was the writing. There was something about the beats of the dialogue that was making me crazy, so I ran to my computer and pulled up IMDB within the first 15 minutes of the show. And sure enough, there it was.

Creator, Executive Producer, and writer of the Pilot: David Mamet.

For those of you not familiar with Mamet, he's an award-winning screenwriter and playwright, best known for flicks such as "Glengarry Glen Ross," "Wag The Dog," "State & Main," and "The Spanish Prisoner," amongst many other works. The style of dialogue he writes is difficult to describe, but it has a very specific beat to it. This kind of staccato pace that can be almost sing-song at times.

Its not nearly as noticeable in "THE UNIT" as it is in some of his other works, but its there. That beat. That rhythm. That stuffy, yet somehow realistic, style of dialogue.

I think Mamet's wife, actress Rebecca Pidgeon, embodies his style of writing. Her performances (especially of his work) are almost always that pitter-patter of spoken word. Sometimes it works perfectly, and other times its like nails on a chalkboard for me. It. Just. Feels. So. Freaking. Stilted.

Anyhow... Back to Mamet. I'm psyched to see him doing network TV, and am very interested to see where they take the show. I'm a sucker for military action, so the subject matter is great... But I hope it keeps that Mamet personality. I'd even like to see them up the humor quotient just a tad (I'm just talking in the interpersonal dialogue, here... I'm not looking for MASH II), because as "State & Main" shows, when Mamet goes for humor, he can hit homers.


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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Contracts in the Air

Word from Producer Dude is that there are contracts- actual, living, breathing contracts- currently in the air on their way to our homes. One to me in LA, one to Charlie in that strange place that is not LA.

So I guess that means there's movement.

Truth told, there seems to be a lot of movement lately. Money is here, it's getting released next week or the week after, they desperately want the script so they can start pre-production, people are drooling, shifting back and forth on their feet at the thought of Siege finally being made.

It's a heady time.

Again, I haven't seen these contracts. Once I do, there's no guarantee that I'll like them. Even if I like them, there's no guarantee that, once we sign and return them, anything of significance will happen.

I've signed contracts before. A bunch. As in more than one. And yet, how many finished products do I have on the market?

That would be one.

That means there are signed contracts floating around in my filing cabinet that are, at this point, little more than poignant keepsakes.

But I am a true believer. And so I shall drink the Kool-Aid and get my dancing shoes out of the closet. I'm not putting them on, mind you, but at they're sitting on the mantle, airing out for the day when cash-cash is in my grubby little hands and I can revel in the joys of being the writer of two, count them- TWO, straight-to-video movies.

Something my kids will be able to point to with pride when others tell them their father is a no-good, drunk has-been. They can say "Sure, but look, there was a time when he was a never-will-be!"

So proud. So very proud.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Game on...

So our latest script is officially underway.

Dave and I have had numerous discussions about it, and several phone calls. We didn't even have phone calls when writing Siege, man. It was all by IM. But in ironing out some of the details, it seemed best to hear one another's voices.

I think Dave has felt like he's "bullied" me into a couple of the creative decisions we've made so far, but that's really not the case. Truth is, I'm feeling relatively flexible at this point. Some of the ideas he's presented have, in all honesty, caused me some concern at first blush. When you do something with a combined "adventure/horror" theme, its REAL easy to end up knee deep in cheese.

And, sure, we're "The B Movie Writers," but that doesn't mean we wanna write shlock.

But in talking it over, and presenting my concerns, I'm certain he "gets it," and we're on the same sheet of music. Its a very fine line, though. One creepy crawlie too many and we've crossed into Snakes-On-A-Plane-dom. But get it right... and we've got ourselves a fun little flick.

So we'll be gut-checking constantly. Who knows... we might even want to hit up some of ya'll readers for some feedback along the way. Might be best to get a 3rd party ruling if it gets questionable.

And so we go. Dave wrote the first couple of scenes of the movie to sell me. I'm sold. So this weekend he's rewriting them, based on the conversations we've had, and then is going to write the next couple of beats. He'll then pass it back to me, I'll revise, and write the next couple of scenes after that.

And thus the process will go, much as it did with SIEGE, until we're done.

Speaking of which... word from PRODUCER DUDE is that the financing may be moved up by a week, in which case the first round could close week after next. Our contracts are supposed to go out in the mail on Monday, as well, so we may actually be seeing some forward momentum on that front, too. Tho I'm not counting my chickens JUST yet.

Stay tuned... the ball is in motion.


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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

When Inspiration Hits...

So as Charlie has mentioned, we've changed our direction.

New day, new project. It's not that the Horror idea we had (have, still have) is bad, it just hadn't caught fire within our bellies. We were finding excuses NOT to write (I've got a headache, my Dog needs to be fed, I have to obsess over American Idol, things like that) and that was resulting in- get this- us not writing.

But then I had a dream.

I don't often have dreams. Well, not ones that I remember. Well, not ones that I remember that I can also turn into a feature script. I mean sure, last night I had this dream where I was convincing my friend to give me his large zip-lock bag of cocaine so that I could take it to the police and the bad guys wouldn't kill his wife, daughter, and for some reason ostrich (this WAS a dream, after all). That, now that I think about, could be made into a movie. It may already have been, when you get right down to it. Probably starred Snoop Dogg and Tom Arnold or something.

But I digress.

I had a dream that was the first act of a pretty cool, spooky, little horror adventure. So I got up, rubbed my eyes, turned on the computer, and wrote down what I remembered.

And lo, it was good.

And lo, it was 20 pages.

And lo, I had no idea where it went next.

So I decided to share it with Charlie.

"Hey Charlie, I want you to read something."

"Have you started working on our kick-ass horror idea?"

"Uhmmmm... no."


"But this is good."

"And it's something you wrote INSTEAD of working on our kick-ass horror idea."


"But it's not the OTHER project you're working on without me, the one that you're writing instead of working on our kick-ass horror project."

"Right, it's a new script."

"So you're working on TWO new scripts instead of working on our kick-ass-"

"Look, you want to read it or not?"

And he did. And he liked it. And then he asked me where I was planning on taking it next. And I said "I dunno. Let's write it together."

And there we are.

I don't want to say too much about this yet. It's horror. It's adventure. It's spooky. It's creepy. It's a lot of fun. It's got 20 pages behind it, which is more than our kick-ass horror idea has at the moment, so there ya go.

Also, writing it... the fire burned within. Gotta get that fire. That "Ooooo. I like this." fire that burns in your head and makes you type so fast your fingers hit the wrong keys. But you don't care because you gotta get it all down on paper. (Computer paper. Paper in the computer. Computer memory paper. Work with me.)

So sit back, relax, and get ready to hear all about our new project. The ins and outs. The ups and downs. The bi-coastal writing blues. Hold on for the ride.

IN OTHER NEWS. Producer Dude says we're close. Money is coming. It's in the country. It's getting a massage, soaking in oils, whatever. Charlie and I might see cash-cash mid-March.

This is me. This is me not holding my breath. This is me not counting any chickens until they have hatched. This is me pretending not to care and starting a new project with Charlie.

Hurry up and wait.