Wednesday, April 26, 2006

And Now For Something Completely Different...

So the ball's in Dave's court. I tossed him some pages which, I believe, he really liked. We decided to move one of the bigger sequences to a bit later in the flick (by a scene or two), so he's now due to write the "glue" to bind together the chopped up bits.

That said, I'm still waiting on that. For all the "hurry up, hurry up!" I got out of Dr. Writegood last week, he's certainly taking his sweetass time now. Not that he has much going on in his personal or professional lives. Nosiree...

So, while we wait, I'd like to talk about something different.

Being a bigtime Hollywood screenwriter, I often get invited to industry events. Movie premieres, wrap parties, dinner with the Cruise's (its hard to find a Theta-friendly bottle of Pinot Noir).

Ok. That's a lie. I'm a B-movie writer, living in Atlanta. The last "premiere" I went to was Opening Night of "Eliminator," on Dave's big screen TV back in LA. I've never been to a wrap party. I do have dinner with the Cruise's all the time, though. Little Suri is an angel.

(Joking aside, I've met the guy... remind me to tell you the story sometime)

But this week... all that changes. Friday night I'm on the guest list to see the band BRIL play here in Atlanta, along with People In Planes, and Blue October. Yes, indeed, life is good as a big-time screenwiter with a massively trafficed blog.

Now... I'll be honest... I actually hadn't heard of Bril until a few weeks ago. But when their record label guy hooked me up with the invite, he was also amazingly kind enough to send me their debut CD, Airless Alarm.

And... to be honest again... its damn good. I suppose its never fair to talk about a band by immediately comparing them to someone else, but hey - I'm no music reviewer. In listening to the disk, they evoked sounds not unlike COLDPLAY and/or OASIS on a number of songs, while on some others, coming off a bit more ethereal, like some of the stuff THE DOVES have released. As my tastes go, this is a home-run, since THE DOVES are one of my favorite bands, and Coldplay and OASIS are no slouches, either.

In fact, a rather curious thing is that all the bands I just mentioned are English, yet BRIL hail from California. They're easily the most English sounding Cali band since... um... since... er... well - maybe ever.

It isn't a flawless album... it drags a bit at times... but its certainly quite good, and one of the better debut disks I've heard in quite some time. Its found its way into heavy rotation in both my car and on my iPod, sharing mindspace with the new Stereophonics, Streets, Placebo, and the Dresden Dolls. Read into that playlist what you will.

Assuming SEIGE doesn't suddenly go all George Romero on us and jerk back to life, tearing at the flesh of Producer Dude and demanding "MORE BRAINS!!!!!!!!!," I'll post a review of the concert next week.

Hopefully it'll involve a lot of anecdotes about meeting the band, going backstage, swilling Jack from the bottle, abusing groupies, and partying with Tommy Lee. I'm told that's what most concert experiences are like when you're "on the guest list."

Surely Dave wouldn't lie to me about that, would he?


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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Nothing to Report, Move Along


Huh. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing, say it again!

Well, that's not exactly correct, but you get the idea. There is no movement. Producer Dude is no closer to getting any cash-cash in the bank. New Producer Guy has been mum since we sent him the script. We're riding a wave of indifference.

This happens in C-Movie land. It's not pleasant. But since this ain't our day job, it's no real skin off our nose.

Broken dreams, sure. Crushed, even. But the road is not over, just on hold. When they made Eliminator, it probably took a year or so from the first "We should make this!" to actual filming.

You just never can tell in this business. Before Eliminator, we were working on another film. We had money (or so we thought), we had casting sessions, they had signed William Baldwin and Rowdy Roddy Piper to star, this was happening. I remember asking Old Experienced Exec if this movie was really going to get made. His response?

"I've got a Baldwin on the dotted line. This deal had better happen or a lot of folks are gonna be pissed."

It never got made.

You'd think having a Baldwin on board would make your project golden. Alas, no.

Will Siege get made? Possibly. Producer Dude is nothing if not stubborn and determined. He also carries a lot of guilt around, and right now he feels guilty that he hasn't made Siege yet. So who knows? Maybe he'll grab a Mini-DV cam and do the whole thing in his back yard.

Pass the popcorn.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Back on Track

I've previously compared my writing partnership with Dave to a marriage.

Both relationships involve give and take, compromise, caring and support, and me doing someone else's laundry.

Dave and I have worked our way through one of those rocky moments every relationship faces, where we went runnning down the road a bit too quickly.

As I've previously written, we started work on our Pygmy/Demon-cult/end-of-the-world Amazonian adventure script a bit too early. Got ahead of ourselves, you might say. So we did what a lot of couples do in their relationships... we backed up, re-evaluated where things were at, and started over.

Plus Dave tried to convince me to make out, but that wasn't happening.

So we wrote character bios. Backstories. Key beats for all the acts.

And now... finally... we're back on track. I just sent Dave roughly 12 pages of script, picking up at the beginning of Act II. I think it was pretty good stuff. Some fun dialogue. Some scary moments. A few funny ones, too. I think it may be a bit verbose, but that's part of our give and take. I usually write too much, and Dave whittles away at it.

Or rewrites it completely, but that takes us back to issues in our relationship, so I won't go there today.

So... unless I've completely missed the mark and thrown us back off-track, Dave will retouch what I wrote, and then send along the next scene in the script -- the scene where we... KILL ONE OF THE MAIN CHARACTERS!

See that? That's love. Much like I always let my wife have the end piece off a loaf of fresh bread (it's the best part, really!), I've stopped at a point where Dave can get the kill.

He'll like that. Dave loves writing "the kill" like... um... well... like my Wife likes the end piece of bread.


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Friday, April 14, 2006

Houston, We Have a Problem

So, like, life in the B-move world ain't all it's cracked up to be.

What? You don't think we're cracking this up to be good?

News on Siege. Two pieces of information. Today and Yesterday. I'll give you Today's first, since it very likely spun Yesterday's news into motion.

It'll all make sense in a sec.

So today we get an email from Producer Dude address to Charlie and myself, as well as a few other people who have been getting ready to get Siege up and running. It said, more or less:

"Man, it's taking a long time to get this money, isn't it?"

Producer Dude's big on understatement.

Seems he got an email from his as-far-as-we-know-phantom money guy that said "Hey! You know that money? The money I've been telling you is coming for the past three months? Yeah, that money. Well it's coming. Some time after Easter. Talk to you then! Hugs and Kisses."

And props to Producer Dude, he figured enough was enough. He isn't giving up, mind you, but he's admitting that it's taken a lot longer than he thought and he's totally sorry and he'll understand if some folks jump ship.

Still, if he gets some miraculous note from his bank after Easter that says there's some cash-cash in there, he'll let everyone know and we'll charge on full speed ahead.

So that was today.

Yesterday, Producer Dude IM's me in a rush. The conversation went something like this:

"Dave! How are you doing?"

"Fine, Producer Dude. How are you?"

"Forget that. I want to send some scripts of yours over to a friend who is looking to make a $500,000 - $1,000,000 movie. He's got money lined up and he just needs a script. Do you want to send him Siege?"

"But... aren't you making Siege?"

"Of course! So I've told him about Siege and about you guys and how I don't have the script so I can't send it to him so he may be contacting you."

"OK. Does that mean you're not going to make Siege?"

"What? Don't be silly! That's wild speculation!"

"So then why would I want to send-"

"Let me know when he emails you. In fact, check your inbox right now."

"Right now? Hold on, I'll... well I'll be damned. He emailed me."

"Great! Let me know how it goes!"

"Uhm.. OK. Any word on your money?"

"You're the best, Dave. Talk to you later!"

And if you could hang up on IM, that's where he'd've hung up on me.

I talked to Charlie, he said go for it. So I sent the script, the one that Producer Dude hasn't seen, to the new guy who we'll call New Producer Guy. (Not to be confused with Producer Dude.)

Perhaps you now see how Today's news led to Yesterday's news, yes?

What happens now? Well New Producer Guy will read Siege and decide if hew wants to do it or not. If he likes it, he'll make it. Or, well, I suppose it'd be more accurate to say that if he likes it, we'll be in the same boat, but with a different Producer. We'll start waiting for HIS money.

If he doesn't like it, it goes back to Producer Dude, and we keep waiting for HIS money.

You following all of this?

Oh and one other thing. If New Producer Guy likes it, he's agreed to give us a little more money than we were getting from Producer Dude.

So I'm proud to say that Siege just took one massive step to the side on it's road to getting made. I mean now it's not quite being made by TWO people!

We rock!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Little Script That Could

Rat Bastard that I am, I finally peered over the edge of my Bling and remembered that I still have this cute little commitment to write something with Charlie.

It pains me to stoop to his level. After all, I'm this big, awesome writer with scripts and projects that NOBODY HAS PAID A DIME FOR YET.

Seriously folks, if Charlie's right and y'all got the impression that I'd jumped the Charlie Ship, there be some serious misunderstandin' going on.

Right now, the best chance for actual cash-cash to line my pocket comes from Siege. That's a fact. True, at the rate we're going, Charlie and I'll be in the old age home and our kids will cash the checks, but it's still far more solid than anything I have on the side.

Plus, and this is way more important, Charlie is a really good friend of mine. I wouldn't 't screw him over or leave him in the dirt for anything.

So anyway.

Our awesome pygmy/jungle/blimp adventure has been revving its wheels while we do our "Homework." Character bios. Backstories. Things like that.

Well full friggin' speed ahead!

We have now hashed out an ending that we like. We have hashed out major beats in Act II that move the story along. We have an idea of where this train is headed. So we're almost ready for full speed ahead!

Charlie's finalizing our Act III plans, putting thoughts on e-paper and so forth. I'm going back over Act I with an eye on the new information we came up with to flesh everything out, making course corrections and what have you.

Then, we begin our work. Act II. The meat of the story. Already outlined in a very light, breezy, Devil-may-care way.

It's exciting. It's invigorating. It's perky and zesty, like a good guacamole.

We THINK we can has been changed to We KNOW we can.

And that's a good thing.

And we did it together.

Because we love each other.

And Natalie Portman.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Yeah! Dave *IS* a Bastard!

Over the past few days, I've received a number of emails and IMs from concerned B-Movie-Writerphiles.

That specific number would be two, but still... that's "a number of emails and IMs."

"Dear Less-Talented Guy," both correspondences began. Its comforting to know that we've grown into roles with this blog. There's Dave, and then me. The "less-talented guy."

They go on: "We're concerned that Dave has kicked you to the curb. His agent told him to drop the "Curse Of the Jaguar" and so he just crapped all over you and dumped the project you were working on? What a flaming jerk!!"

So... I wanted to post a follow-up note and let you all know that, even though Dave may be a flaming jerk, its not for dumping anything he and I are working on.

See... it appears that some folks misunderstood "Curse of the Jaguar" to be the script we're working on. This couldn't be further from the truth. "Curse of the Jaguar" is set in the Mayan Jungle and involves an ancient curse. The thing Dave and I are writing is set in the AMAZON Jungle and involves an ancient curse. Come on, people. Get it straight!

Plus, as I understand it, "Curse of the Jaguar" has something to do with a haunted luxury sedan.

Anyhow, the bottom line is that Dave and I continue to work on our pygmy/devil-worshipping/opera-like opus, at least until the Manager person tells him to dump it.

Or me. Whichever comes first, I suppose.

But fear not, Dear readers. Dave's not going anywhere. Even if he does become big and famous, I have those pictures from that weekend trip to Tijuana, ensuring he'll always have time for B-Movies with Charlie, and B-Movie-Writers, with all of you.


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Saturday, April 08, 2006

Know When to Fold 'em

I'm leading a double life.

By day, I'm the happy, dutiful writing partner of Charlie Flint. We've written Siege (currently in pre-pre-production Hell-on-a-popsicle-stick for the C-movie market), The Magic Hour (currently on the shelf), and are working on a pygmy/devil-worshipping/opera-like opus.

By night I write for me. For many, many years, that has been a lesson in self-gratification. The one film I have had produced was through Producer Dude, who is supposedly working on Siege, so that contact is alive and well in my work with Charlie Flint. Beyond Producer Dude, I have pages of brilliance piled up in my garage.

Until recently.

A friend passed my stuff on to Said Manager. Said Manager liked it. And more to the point, Said Manager has been in preliminary contact with me. I mentioned before how Said Manager picked my brain to pitch Sci-Fi Channel, well Said Manager has more interest than that in me.

I have a script, written over the past 6 years, polished, gone through 14 drafts, and fine-tuned to an edge Siege will never see in it's lifetime (nor does it need to). This script is, pardon me for saying so, good. Said Manager likes it. Said Manager has sent it out to people. Real people who have jobs like "Agent" and "Producer of films that go into the theaters" and "Directors of stuff that doesn't always go straight-to-DVD." They all like it. This is the only reason why Said Manager is still taking my calls and, in some cases, initiating them.

This is not to toot my own horn, but to say that, right now, my moonlighting job of "writer for me" is pretty well focused on whatever Said Manager wants me to work on.

I have 55 pages of another horror script. I mentioned it many posts back. I sent the pages to Said Manager. Said Manager's reply?

"This isn't worth your time. Drop the project."


In my belligerent past, I would have defiantly shouted back "Who are you to say? What do you know? I'm genius! Genius!"

But I'm more mature. So instead I said "OK. What do you want me to work on next?"

And just like that, the big, nasty, scary horror flick I've been working on outside of Siege is shelved for the time being. And I don't care. Because right now, I have to go with what Said Manager says. Because Said Manager is my current ticket to fame and fortune. Well, to fortune, anyway.

And to Said Manager's credit, Said Manager has come back with "I liked project X you mentioned to me a while back, we should look at fleshing that out, perhaps as a Graphic Novel. I know some people at...." and "Oh, I have an article I've always liked that might be right up your alley. Let me send it over to you and see what you think, see if it leads you to any ideas for a next feature." and "Dig through your various projects and let's see if there's something you've let go that we might breath new life into."

So goodbye to 55+ pages of Curse of the Jaguar. (Always needed a new title anyway.) Goodbye to the research, to the character-crafting, to the visions in my head.

I'm moving on to the next thing, and I'm reaching for the ring.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The new phone book's here! The new phone book's here!

To quote a famous Jerk:

"This is the kind of spontaneous publicity I need! My name in print! That really makes somebody! Things are going to start happening to me now!"

Yes. Today was the day. I'm finally listed on IMDB.COM as a writer on the epic-to-be, SEIGE SIEGE!

Yes. I am someone! My name's on IMDB! That really makes me somebody! Things are going to start happening with my writing career now!!

And, in a moment of karmic triumph, I've been accidentally listed twice (once with middle initial and once without), PUSHING DAVE TO A "MORE" status. Made him crazy, I'm pretty sure.

I've sent IMDB a note, asking them to remove the redundant listing, but in the immediate term, I do think karma has been served.

Mind you, it doesn't change the fact that the movie's ripping along through production with all the speed and finesse of a one-legged Samoan bar bouncer. Indeed, we're STILL waiting for the money to close, and the contracts to be finalized.

But who cares? I'm in the phonebook!


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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Beating Myself Up

So we have contracts and the waiting continues. It's a step, I suppose. A step.. Towards doom!

So anyway, there's this other script we're writing. More homework (What, you thought it ended when you finished college? Heck no!). Here's where we are right now.

Act One: Pretty well written. About 30 pages filled with thrills, spills, chills, and Stephen Stills.

Act Two: Uhm.. we wrote some pages.. they're OK. Maybe five or ten that are usable. We got these characters... Uhm..

Act Three: Ah Hell, how does this thing end, anyway?

Who can spot the problem?

Correct, structurally, our script resembles Jurassic Park III too closely.

So first we bandied Act Three ideas about. Got some good stuff. Handed it over to Charlie to iron everything out and come back with a "THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS IN THE END, SO SAYETH THE LORD" email. Me? I'm doing beats.

No, it's not a new drug, though it should be.

Act Two is where the characters change. Where events happen that shape them, mold them, drive the story forward. Act Two is filled with huge action sequences that define our movie. Act Two is about 60 or 70% of the movie.

I'm breaking it down into beats.

What happens here? Then what happens? Then what happens? Why do these things happen? How do our characters grow from these events? Who lives, who dies? What drives this movie forward, forces us to stay and watch, instead of turning it off and catching up on the MythBusters episode we TiVo'd last week?

Want an insight into how I work? Sure you do. So does Charlie. First, I look at Act Two. Not much to look at, actually. Lots of white space. Then I say "OK, first there's a big action sequence."

See? A beat.

Now I say "Because of that sequence, X happens."

Cause and effect.

Next I say "Then there's another action sequence. During which the midget explodes."

Another beat.

"After that, there's a tense, character-driven moment between the porn star and the Republican."

A quasi-beat.

And it goes from there. Next, I go back over my list and say "OK. So I said an action sequence happens here. What is that action sequence? And how does the Midget explode?"

It's a tedious process, but when all is said and done, it makes for a fine script.

Trust me.