Friday, January 04, 2008

What the....?


That's the Hoff... Peeking in your window. What kinda Christmas is this?

Oh wait... what's that he's got in his hand?

A present? For you?!?! Let me help you with it... OH LOOK. A BOOK!

If you're a writer - go get:

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT - a history of American Screenwriting - by Marc Norman.

Do you wonder why things are the way they are?
How things got to be the way they be?

Read this book.

It starts at the very beginning and gives a perfect historical context to everything to do with movie writing. And context is only seen once you have perspective and perspective comes for distance. But the amazing thing with this book is that it really helps.

I remember going through the studio tour - two weeks of three to four meetings a day about weird projects and the way I was put to the fire now totally makes sense.

To understand why the studios deal with writers the way they do... just for that insight alone - the book is worth it.

The amazing thing - nothing has changed. Just like in Barton Fink. They want the same thing. For us to do what they want. Now. With as little voice in it as possible. Like everything - they want to take someone with a unique voice and way of doing things and see if they can fit into the studio mold.

Its amazing. And you get to see it again and again - played out across the entire history of Hollywood.

And the Guild. The strikes. How we got into the mess we're in now.

This book is genius. It really helps. You should read it.


Friday, December 28, 2007

Not to make excuses....

But there's always a reason why... Even if you don't wanna know...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Don't let the Bastards get you Down

Every Deer has his day.

Small comfort - but sometimes that's all we need.

I'm looking down the barrel of one more week.

Till then - I'm keeping my hooves sharpened....

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Good Luck

I know I'm not as prolific here.

But I'm doing something. Something I only do when I have nothing else I could possibly do.


Go figure.

Not that I want to jinx it yet. Its quite small and embryonic... but it is writing nonetheless. Might not be carried to full term - but its definately there. You can see it on the ultrasound...

My greatest enemies in the way of neglecting my new child?

Radiohead's new CD.
Why is it that this band is always insanely interesting? Even when they put out stuff that I don't listen to as much - I constantly find myself returning time and again to their albums - and they all stand up. Different moods, different sounds... but the new one. Wow. I can't stop. Its beautiful. Transcendant. Makes you wanna open the curtains and smile at the sun. Or the grey. How many times can you say that about a Radiohead CD... Competes for me with Kanye as one the years best.

Prison Break
I didn't watch the show before. Most in the States sort of blew it off as a second rate 24... but now that 24 is the new second rate 24... I decided to give the show a shot. Its so big here in China that they actually shot their own version of it. Even though I think it lacks in a lot of logic and the writing is just not that great... its still quite addictive. The pleasure of a TV show for me is that its like coming home to an old friend. There are a lot of episodes and the story keeps going and you can feel like you're catching up. Even if it is in a prison and people are trying to rape you. Anally... Wait... maybe its just cause it reminds me of work...

Elmore Leonard and F Paul Wilson
Finished up Riding the Rap and City Primevil by Leonard. Man that guy can write. Twisty. Stories just branch and characters that you love. No wonder Tarrantino loves the guy - he owes him a huge debt. Anyone wanting to make great characters who talk well can stand to go to the school of Leonard. I feel like a boy in short pants with his ear to the wall trying to steal scraps from the masters table. Wilson writes a different type of story - but one I like equally as well. Word is they are finally making a film of his best character- Repairman Jack. Just finished up Harbingers and Legacies and now breaking into Hosts.

My "buddy" Shawn sucked me in. Why? This is a nasty cult and a great way to actually blame your friends for wasting your time. While its nice to share one lines with people you haven't seen if forever - its also a black hole of time. But you do get to play the sweet old lady... look at this picture of my kids....


No more blogging. Back to doing what I should be doing.



Wednesday, October 10, 2007

My name is John Daker

Thanks to my future brother in law for this...

Back in China. And since I'm blogging - that must mean I'm avoiding real writing.

Looks to be an interesting week. My show is blowing up over here. Up 70% last week - so people are happy. We are going out on more stations now - we hit four new stations this week.

Yesterday when we were doing some editing - the machine literally blew up. Like in a cartoon. Smoke starting pouring out of it and we ran out of the room.

It was that hot... :)

Met with my production team. Went over what I need for my November shoot. Looks like we're going to head down to Southern China for a little location scout before I go. Should be interesting. We need to shoot someplace warm to get outside - and southern China is it. Cause its already getting stinking cold here in Beijing.

Heading down to Shanghai next week for more meetings. This trip is actually going to involve some travel. Go figure...

And here's a funny thing. After freezing my ass off the first day back... I found out the the heat in my apartment only works from 10 at night till 6 in the morning. That's it. So that's what you get for the huge rent here in China...

Took my PS2 in to get modded out. Looks like it blew up. Gonna see if they can fix it today.

Lots going down... it should be a fun ride. And I might even get some writing done... :) Here's hoping....

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Strange days...

It's Saturday.

Sunday already in China... :)

Was up all night. Went to the movies last night with Shawn. Saw 3:10 to Yuma. Loved it. Great performances all the way through. Really fun and good movie. The end is a little questionable to me - but otherwise, I liked it a lot.

Got back and immediately emailed the producer. Said that one actor from the film would be great in our film. We had previously talked about this kid - but were on the fence about him - but I got more and more excited about him and wanted to get him the script.

Stayed up most of the night. Watched the documentary "Dig!" which was pretty good.

Took the kids on a two hour bike ride today. First time the boy has ever been out on the big streets. He's on his new birthday bike. He did great... we have some big hills here and getting up them with one speed is tricky - but he did good. At one point he did, however, cut me off. I only have front brakes right now that work - and I went head over handlbars... flipped my chain off - and struggled to get it back on and catch up with them.

But it was nice. Almost dying in front of the kids...

Afterwards, I crashed. Hard. Woke up at dinner.

And my producer had already contacted the manager of the actor.
And the manager had already responded.
Not that he said yes. Far from it.

But he responded. And anyone who deals with Hollywood knows - that sometimes, just getting a response is the greatest feeling of all. Even if its no. At least you can keep going.

And in this case it wasn't no. Or if it was - it was just so freaking polite, I couldn't tell it was a no.

It was a... thanks so much for thinking of us. We went from 14 years of waiting for a break to getting 4 offers a day. We will read the script - but we have so much on the plate in front of us now - its hard to look at something that isn't fully financed - but will be happy read it and get back to you soon.


It's a nice "not right now..." and a reply on Saturday nonetheless...

How pitiful is it that I get excited about a "not right now?!?"


I've gotta write more. Starting now...

Friday, October 05, 2007

I know what's coming

Remember Seasame Street?

The chef at the top of the stairs? Announcing something like:

13 banana cream pies!

And then falling all the way down?

This is my week home. I've filled it as best I can with bike rides, wii sessions, Avatar cartoon parties, homework help, long walks.... trying my best to be a dad in one week a month. Doesn't quite cut it.

This morning - our little school here in Indiana does Dads and Donuts. All the dads come to school with the kids a half hour early and hang out and eat donuts. Pretty cool. My kids have been so excited that I'm actually here. Last year, I was in China. Year before that, I was in Virginia producing a series.

This year - I get to make it.

I can't believe it's Friday already and I have to start thinking of going back East.

Far East.

Lots to accomplish this trip. Mostly setting up for a shoot in November. But a lot of travel and location scouting and budget meetings. All the things I normally love.

The movie is sort of stalling here. We have offers to different people who are more or less in the middle of their careers. Opened a few films as leads - done really big films as the second lead - but for some reason are at the point where they feel they can wait for more money on the table before even reading the script.

We have two companies reading the script again who previously bid for it to see if they want to actually get behind the project again so we have real money going into the offers. Still feels like its moving - but momentum is everything.

Spent a bit of time with Ryan. Had a lead on a script that was taking pitches - and we spent two days cranking one out. It turned out pretty well - nothing earth shattering - but nothing to be ashamed of either. It follows the beats of that type of story with a few nice twists and a cool setting. Who knows if it takes - but for a couple days work - it was nice. Was one again reminded how nice it is to write with a partner. Doesn't make the work easier - but it does help you to skip all the dead ends and nonsense much quicker.

Hung out with the extended family last night. We watched Survivor China. Never watched a whole episode of Survivor before...but it was mildly amusing. We all watched because Jean Robert - the poker player - went to High School with my sister and I in Taiwan. He was in her class. I was sure he was gonna be kicked out last night - but he survived. But doesn't look like he's long for this world.

More notes on the new script. More Elmore Leonard books read this week. More thinking and plotting about what the future might look like.

And I truthfully have no clue...

But I know what's coming... and the fall looks painful.