Saturday, September 10, 2005

Enough with the yapping


You would think that they would write. But you know what they do better than write? Talk. And talk some more. And procrastinate. Oh yeah. I really should mow the lawn. Oh wait... I should look this up on the internet. Oh - I really need some more research. I can't wait to start writing... but I better get something to eat first. Hmmm. I could concentrate much better if this place wasn't such a wreck - I better start cleaning.

And finally - you run out of other stuff to do. And then-

You gotta write.

I'm sorry. But it happens. And you can't avoid it -you gotta do it. So go for it. It won't hurt.


I promise.

So shut your pie hole and start writing. Nancies.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Fair Warning

So here is an idea:

Let's say you have an aging director. Started out young and idealistic - full of promise and brimming with enthusiasm. His career starts with a bang and it seems as if he destined for great things. Moving up from commercials to TV shows and always heading towards that shining north star dream of doing a feature film.

But then life happens. He gets bogged down. Bitter. Cynical even. Starts doing bad shows. And worse - thinks about doing reality TV. Mix in a $1000/day crack habit and a series of "auditioning" starlets - and you end up with our so called "hero."

All of a sudden the bottom drops out. He misses one too many call times. He misses one too many meetings. He drops off the grid and goes to seed.

Hauled out of month long drunken stupor by an old friend, he is given one last chance at redemption. Teach a class of doe-eyed newbies the basics of the writing process. Locked in a small room with only an endless supply of coffee to keep him sober - he is let out only for a few hours of "classtime" each week.

Gaining back his basic strength - and small pieces of dignity - he suddenly realizes all he needs to get back his old life is one good script.


So he has his class "pitch." Tell their best stories. Their exciting stories. Stories filled with love and betrayal and action. Stories that could sell. And make money. Money to buy things. Things like crack...
And it starts him thinking... Hmmm. If only that was my story. My pitch. And then it hits him.


So consider this fair warning.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Corruption, part deux

Have you ever fallen prey to "they?" As in, "they" made me do it? Or it's "they" fault? (um... not exactly grammatically correct, but you get the point.) Well here is the thing with me. I always got in more than enough trouble without every having to call on "they." If I knew where "they" lived, I would have done everything I could to shove blame towards "they's" doorstep. I would have loved to gotten to know "they" and join them on their adventures.

Unfortunately, I usually was "they."

But as far as being in a group and being influenced by "they," or going along with "they," just because everyone was doing what "they" did -I never really had an issue with that...(until 96 - and that was crack -and believe me, "they" was right... but that is another post...) I usually never really cared about following the group - I was too busy getting in trouble on my own to worry much about them.

Which brings me to Bottoms Up.

Jason Mewes is the main star of this film. While I never did get a script, the show obviously has hilarity and mad-cap adventure hijinx written all over it. I got to hang out with Jason a bit - in between waiting for Paris - and he is really a nice guy. Funny too. He was constantly worried I was gonna break into his trailer and steal something. Which also told me that he had the power to read minds - so I was very cautious around him.

So Day Two of this shoot. After Paris kissed me, and after about 4 hours of sleep - we were back for more shooting. Now Day Two was a smaller crew. We were not supposed to have any of the actors back. It was mostly going to be insert shots, driving shots and establishing shots of downtown LA.

But once we got on set, I became aware of the fact that Jason was going to come in and do a few shots. There apparently was a club scene in which Paris disses (see? I'm down with the streets and that gang lingo...) Jason's character and then leaves. He gets mad - chases her in her car - and jumps onto the hood TJ Hooker style.

So they had already shot Jason in the club. And shot him on the hood of the car. But they had nothing from the club to the car.

We start shooting. We are driving a 15 passenger van around LA and getting all these shots. Moving from one place to another. And now its dark. We are in a downtown area on Saturday night and there are a lot of clubs around us. Everyone is out walking to their club, all dressed up. So we pull over for another shot when the AD (Assistant Director) turns to the Director and says - "Hey. What are we gonna do about Mewes?" and the director says "We ain't got 'em. Not coming."

And I include this dialog here so that one can actually see how the corrupting and devious nature of Hollywood - or "they" if you will - can sneak up on one- even one so jaded and worldly-wise as myself - unaware and ensnare you.

And the AD says "What are we gonna do?" And the director says "One of us is gonna have to play him." And then, as if they were turning their heads and slowly follow a car crash, their eyes both settle on me at the same time.

Now I know that if you were picking a double for Jason out of a hundred guys, I would probably not be number 100, but I might be in the 80's at least. My superior conditioning and one pack ab notwithstanding - I could hardly ever be confused with Jason. But apparently desperate times call for desperate measures. And I am at least close to the right height.

"Why don't we get Greg to do it?"

I look up, half asleep - not even seeing it coming. "Yeah. He's perfect. Dude... no one will even know. Come on man. Help us out...." And I'm thinking... Ok. Yesterday, we had a Paris stand in. Very nice girl. All she did was put on a wig and we shot the back of her head. I had no idea what kind of shots they needed or what the sequence was, but I figured I was pretty safe. And being that I was in the "team player" mode - I immediately gave them some of my best witty dialog..."Um... ok, I guess." "Great! Get him in wardrobe!"

So for a brief second, you might go - hey. This could be kinda fun. Getting to be an actor. I was a theater major in college and for a moment thought about making a career of it - till I was told by my then future wife that she thought my talents must definitely lie elsewhere - she was not sure where, but definitely not in acting. But at that moment, you go - hey, at least it will be funny. I'll get to be in a movie...and it is then that you know that "they" have already won....

And as the machine of filmmaking started in - I was hauled off to wardrobe - which was the last seat of the 15 passenger van. They AD hands me a hanger full of clothes and tells me to hurry up. So I climb in the back of the van. In the dark. And start to put on the wardrobe. I immediately realize - this is full wardrobe. Not just a wig. Its top to bottom... almost. First up - it is a Naval Officers Uniform. Bright Whites. From the hat to the shoes. But it wasn't until I got to the pants that I caught on that something was amiss.

There are two holes in the butt of the pants. Not holes like "moth" holes - or even like "goat ate the pants" holes. These are like big giant "I want my butt cheeks to be prominently displayed to the club going public of LA" type holes. They were almost chaps.

"Uh... I sort of have a problem." Walky Talky static and the call goes out - "Talent has a problem!" So as I sit in the back of the van in my underwear - holding the offending pair of pants in front of me in disbelief - I am immediately surrounded by most of the crew - opening the doors and turning on the lights. I am trying to cover up as they ask me what is wrong. I hold up the pants - and no one even has a questioning look. They all just stare at me... Disappointed and heartbroken. One more problem that is keeping them from going home.

"They" are not happy.

"Is there a problem, Greg?"

"YES! These pants have no butt."



Long Pause.


......Damn you, "they."

(And for those with sensitive natures and weak stomachs, you might want to avert your eyes...)

Let him who is without sin.....

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Hollywood's all pervasive corruption and Paris Hilton

While it might not be that difficult to draw a line from Hollywood's corruption to Paris Hilton - this post is not necessarily about how they are directly related - except in the context of this story.

Here's the thing.

I was thinking this week about how to get you - the class - to participate more in the story telling process. How to get you to start to talk and tell - the most important aspects of what we do - next to actually writing. And talking is usually much much easier than writing... but that is a post for another time...

So I had the brilliant idea of getting everyone to tell their most embarrassing story. (Now, at 3 in the morning this seemed brilliant - but in the clear light of morning, I am not so sure.)

And in the course of sharing and being open, I decided to start with mine. And as fate would have it, it just happened a week ago while I was in Los Angeles.

Now - here is a little deep cover background on me. As my wife would surely tell you - in my college days - I was a bit of a dork. Loud, obnoxious, smart ass - those were all sort of part and parcel of the man I was becoming. But somewhere along the road of life, I was slowly crushed down by drugs, liquor and cheap women into the broken and beaten man you now see before you. It is rarely in my character to try to draw much notice to myself anymore and usually if it is directed my way - it mostly just causes a lot of to be the center of attention is just not something that I actively crave like the now neglected crack pipe in Dr Clark's office.

And here is where Hollywood comes in.

I was in LA for these meetings about my script. And the guy who is producing with me - he happened to be producing a couple reshoots for a Paris Hilton Movie called Bottom's Up. Now in the patheon of quality entertainment - one rarely needs to say more than Paris and you know that you are talking about a quality film - an "art" film - an academy award winning film...and so I knew that I had to be a part of it in any small way that I could.

(In the interest of full disclosure - I have been working on my film for two years. For free. For nothing. For zippo. A fact that my wife loves to remind me of constantly. As we stand in line at the soup kitchen. As we collect food from garbage cans. As I stand on the side of exits off 69 with my oranges stolen from the neighbors fridge when I said that I needed a cup of milk... you get the idea. And the Paris reshoots were paying in cash. CASH. Nuff said.)

So the crew is great. The director is great. The movie has Paris Hilton and Jason Mewes - from Clerks, Mallrats, Dogma and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. He is the Jay character. A really really nice guy. And funny too. And a strapping example of the perfect man. For reasons I will disclose in my next post.

So my job is basically taking Paris from her trailer to the set all day. Now - nothing against Paris, because it is true for most women on sets - they take a bit longer than men to get ready. So a lot of my day was waiting for her. And making sure she doesn't run into anyone on the way to set because the minute she walks out of her trailer, she opens her cell phone and starts dialing. So I make sure to keep her from hitting lights or furniture... and the sort.

So most of my day had to do with saying things like - No really. I'm serious. We need to go now. They are calling for us. How many more minutes? You just told me that 10 minutes ago. I swear - they just said they would be done 5 minutes ago. Yes. We are walking right now. No. We weren't walking yet - but they promised they were coming out any second.

And Paris would say stuff to me like - How many more scenes do I have? What! You're kidding me! Can somebody go to Starbucks? I'm really hungry - do we have any menus? Can you leave now?

So you can tell we were fast friends. I know that if she were not married and I were not married, this would have been the basis for many jet setting memories waiting to happen.

So to back step a second - I have a friend. Back in Winona Lake. And he is a Paris fan. A fan of her films. Films we can not watch at this college. Films that require a credit card and high spped internet. Films that would never be shown in a theater - except for ones that require raincoats. But I'm sure he really likes her for her personality - because he would never fall for anyone on looks alone...

Anyways. He is calling me all day. Begging me. Pleading with me. To get him something from Paris. A lock of hair. A shoe. An autograph. Anything. Calling me. Pestering me. Bugging me. Driving me crazy.

So at the end of the day - and you have to understand - this is a long day. 6:30 in the morning till 1:30 at night... a really long day - I figure, well, what the heck - I'll never see Paris again, and I'm sure she gets hit up for autographs all the time... I'll just get her to sign the call sheet.

So as she is leaving with her entourage - her hairstylist Enzo, her assistant Franz, her sister Nicky, her sisters boyfriend, and various hanger-ons, I approach her with my call sheet in one hand and my pen in the other.

Now I don't want to lie. I know that I am a smouldering volcano of masculinity. A veritable buffet of manmeat. The charisma of Clooney. The boyish charm of Pitt... you get the picture. That's why its so hard to pay attention in my class... at least that's what I tell myself as I cry myself to sleep most nights... So I know that Paris has been waiting all day like a crouching tiger to jump at my hidden dragon any opportunity she could get... all she needed was an opening.

So as I approach - with my arms spread - she jumps right in and gives me a big hug. And a kiss. Granted it was on the cheek - but I like to think it was a close as she could get to my fire without getting burned.

And as she walked away - with what I think was a small tear glistenting in one eye -she said - Thanks for a great day Jerry.

But what I knew was the words were not really so important. It was the subtext - which you will learn more about in class The subtext with ripe with unspoken promises and regrets... and even though she didn't get my name right - I knew what she meant... and I understood.

And I called after her as she got in her Limo and left -

Goodbye Paris! We will always have BOTTOMS UP!

As a post script - I called up my Winona Lake buddy and told him I couldn't get him anything... but I promised that he could carress my cheek when I came home.

NEXT EPISODE- The Corruption continues -

In which I don a Naval officers uniform and become the butt double of Jason Mewes...

Friday, September 02, 2005

a roomfull of apathy

This class is about Scriptwriting. Does anyone care? Anyone? Anyone?

So I taught my first class the other day... Not sure if it made much impact - like changing the future of a parallel universe or anything - but I could feel my lilting beautiful voice washing over the crowd of hungry kids like an ocean of apathy - droning on deaf ears, my pearls of wisdom floated out of my mouth and hit a blistering force field of hostility and disinterest.

Oh well. What can one expect from a requirement.

I'm just so glad I got out of rehab in time for the class. That - and the fact that my parole officer is giving me more freedom. (well, he doesn't actually know that I have more freedom - but he did say that I looked good - healthy even. I knew getting out of the basement would do wonders for my complexion.) I know I'm not allowed within a certain distance of certain people - and the fact that certain students really look remarkably close to the said individual - it could get a little crazy...but I think I can handle it. Really. Not like last time. I promise...

I'm feeling so good - I really don't think I'll need these meds anymore - cause its not like they're helping. That much. No matter what my Mom says. Really.

And this whole tracking bracelet? Its nice to know that jeans can cover it. I almost look like a normal person. Its just the chaffing... but another "friend" of mine told me all you need is to grease up your leg with vaseline and you will be fine... so hello real world. Here I come.

So anyways. Did I say that out loud?

Oh yeah. The book is in. And scripts are in the library. And please stop trying to read my mind. Stay out of my brain. Its crowded in here already as it is.

Looking forward to Tuesday!