Friday, March 31, 2006

Your emotions do not compute...

Lonely? Isolated? Stuck at home while all your friends go out to play?

Is this you? Or a late night 900 number commercial?

I've written before about how important it is to have friends. To have people who somewhat know what they are doing help you out. To tell you when you are being stupid. To keep you from embarrassing yourself. To stop you from repeating...


I am in a tiny town in Northern Indiana. How I got here is as pitiful as story as can be told - suffice to say, we were going to make a movie here - and now - here we are. In actuality - it is a brilliant place to be a writer. There is simply nothing to do - and you can live here for peanuts. Believe me - I've watched my savings disappear slowly over three years...

I find that I write best when there is absolutely nothing else possible to do. If I can visit every web site on my favorites list, clean the house, eat everything that's in it, shower twice, workout, make phone calls, write in my blog...

Then I can write. Wow. Imagine if I lived in a big city?

Now the flip side of that is that in this tiny little town of 3000 people - what are the odds that I would find another writer? Let alone a writer of screenplays?

Well as luck would have it - there is one. Ryan. So our writers group consists of two - Ryan and I. Now the amazing thing about that is Ryan is actually very smart. While he hasn't written that much yet - he gives very good notes. And he is good at destroying your script without a lot of thought for your personal well being. Something that I am horrible at.

Ryan just gave Blair notes. Blair should be out of the hospital in a few days...

Ryan gave me notes on my latest opus back before I sent it to my agents. They were really good notes - and, out of all my friends in the "extended" writers group - his were the most like my agents.

(Recap- My agents didn't like the way the script broke down into two movies - shifting tone radically in the middle. I liked this - as did most of the other guys - and that is not to say that Ryan didn't, but he said it was something to be acknowledged.)

In the past week - between fielding lots of phone calls and emails about my current script trying to limp into production - I have decided to try to rewrite my last script and make it a bit more rom/com and less thriller. I think it will be a fun exercise - and we will see if it is better or not.

I pitched my take to Ryan on Monday. He was helpful - and since the new take is right up his alley - he liked it. But as I went into some details of scenes with him yesterday - he reminded me of an important thing. While I get all caught up on plot and cool scenes - the easiest thing to forget is the emotional through line.

While I had a great way to tie the plot together - I was forgetting why my cool twists and turns mattered to the characters. He gave me a good wake up call - and showed me how much more powerful it can be when you actually care about your characters...

This was pretty cool - to know that you at least have a really cool direction to head in - and a new way to do it. While I thought that I would really just rewrite the second half of the script - I am effectively starting from scratch... So there is a long train in front of me...

So I guess I better get on my writing outfit and hit the bricks.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

My Take on Takes

If you are unsure whether or not...:) you can't make that stuff up...

Funny thing about Hollywood. People may say that you are whoring yourself out - but the biggest difference between a prostitute and a loose woman?

The prostitute gets paid, baby....

So here is a funny thing I discovered when I was in LA. First of all - no one really wants a spec script. Sure they sell - if they are genius. But not that often. And here is the reason why. Because they are done. Or just about done. All that is left for a spec is for people to pick up their red pens and mark it up - because it is a finished product. It can be more or less - but there are way more reasons not to buy it than to buy it.

The way producers make money is to get deals. And how do they get deals? By setting stuff up. And what seems to be getting set up are short stories, books and articles. Almost every meeting I went to, people were asking me if there was a piece of material that I might want to develop.

The reason seems to be this: In a short piece, there is promise. Wow - this could become a movie. Let's see where this goes. Let's get a writer on it...

Which leads to my next step: THE TAKE.

Phil Morton has an incredible post again today about breaking story:

And, if you write, you have to agree - breaking the story is the hardest part. Sure being disciplined is tough, sure there are many things to whine about - but it is all mute unless you have a good story. I love breaking the story. I love coming up with ideas. I'm a genius at putting the big set piece right where it will distract the reader from my egregious lack of actual content in my story. But this part is tough. It takes time and sweat and blood.

And this is what Hollywood wants you to do. It's called a "take." They give you an idea and they want you to come up with a "full take," meaning - the entire movie. The whole story. Do all the work. And here is the kicker...


At least at my level. So someone reads your script. Prays that you can write. And then they ask you to break a story for them based on one of their ideas. And so off you go - and spend three months breaking a story - and come back and tell it to them. And they go something like this -

Oh. That's not what I meant.
Oh. That's too close to the original. I thought you would make it your own.
Oh. That's really far from the original. I don't know if we could take that to the studio - its so different.
Oh. It's really good. I just don't know about the end.
Oh. Wow. You really did a lot of work on this. But something just isn't right. Let me think about it and get back to you....

So you go back to your story and do it all again. And the whole time - you realize that there are other writers out there, doing the same thing with the same idea - and you are all doing it for free... And its crazy... :)

My mom always said - wow. I can't believe you don't get paid anything for this.

And I tell her - that's why they created a Writer's Guild. Or - one day when I'm famous - I'll really have reason to get angry about doing this for free...Because I think this is just part of the process. But the better you are - the more seriously your take is taken. I think?

Now granted - I'm sure there are writers out there who are great at coming up with bare bones ideas and are able to pitch studios a sketch version of their idea and get everyone on board and excited.

I admit that I am still a little too excited about the process. When I pitch - I give them the whole ball of wax - when all they wanted was a dripping. They want an idea with legs - and I give them the whole creature. So there are many reasons to pull out the pen and mark it all up.

But when you are starting out - every time someone wants to hear you pitch - or come up with an idea - you jump. And you do the heavy lifting. Cause one day, you might actually get paid to develop something.

One day - you might actually grow up from a loose woman to a full fledged prostitute.

And that is what I love about this country. You can see your dreams come true if you sleep around enough...

(and for those of you who are unsure if you are a prostitute or not, ask one of our friendly guards...)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Serenity now!

I love hindsight.

Looking back - everything always seems to happen in the right way at the right time in the nick of time. How you got to be where you are seems to be made up of a series of breathtaking choices executed at precisely the right time. There is no other way you could be who you are if these things didn't happen exactly the way they did...

But in the middle of the situation - you have no perspective and are completely lost and praying for the day you can look back and see how great everything worked out...

My dad used to always say that your true nature reveled itself on the ballfield. Meaning if you were an arrogant prick - you would be that guy during the game. I always like to think that I was pretty good under pressure - but sometimes during this writing thing, I'm not so sure.

Doing production - as a producer and director - you are making decisions constantly - every minute - that affect thousands of dollars. And inevitably things go wrong. I always tell new people that I am not paid so much for how good I am as a producer/director, but for how many problems I have faced over the years and even if I completely botched them, the people hiring me know that now I can at least avoid them. So it is experience that counts.

Face it. We all know that rich kid from the neighborhood that had everything. The best toys, the best stereo, the best car, the best girls...And when he grew up, he had all the money. Sometimes they turned out to be ok - but most of the time, he was an idiot. At least that's how I comfort myself to sleep each night. And this is because everything was handed to him. He never had to earn anything.

If we were to be successful on every outing. To have the keys to Hollywood handed to us on a plate. Not only would we not appreciate it - we wouldn't be ready. When we were pitching my film to investors - my partner would always say something like - "Greg has wanted to direct a film ever since he got out of film school - 15 years ago. But you know, this is the best thing that happened to him. He worked in TV. He did those commercials. Now he is ready with 15 years of experience - and the movie will be much better."

I always hated when he said stuff like that - but there is a bigger truth there. We go through fire testing and hardship to harden and strengthen us. When even a modicum of success comes our way, we will be ready. (or more ready) and we will appreciate it.

But dear God... Enough with the trials... Bring on the success...:)

Oh yeah. My Manager Ralph says that reading my blog is like listening to someone let air out of a balloon really slowly.... And since he really knows how to encourage a WRITER - he said he thought I could make things better by adding more pictures to the blog...

So here you go Ralph. This ones for you

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Mourning or Morning?

Feels like a new day...

Sometimes - when you are in the middle of your story - when you are so caught up in the characters or the plot - or you are just caught - and you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel and you don't know how anything is going to turn out - you feel trapped and scared and alone.


Or maybe it's just me... :)

Something about betting everything on a ticket - and hoping that ticket comes in. Sometimes I feel as if I am a giant idiot. That moving my family - destroying my savings - leaving my job - all these things were so incredibly foolish - and in the end might not pay off at all. That I'll be sitting here with a pile of pages, full of type that mean absolutely nothing.

And who in their right mind does this stuff at 38? That is a young man's game - running willy-nilly off on some dream chase?

Well. I have walked out repeatedly in my life on jobs that paid more, offered more, given me better positions - so this is nothing new. I am so lucky to have a loving caring wife who always says "we'll be fine..." Although lately, she has added "should I get a job at Walmart?"

This is the life we have chosen. It is a risk. And probably most of us are ill-equipped to do it. I remember in film school, my prof telling the room that out of all of us, only 1 or 2 would ever make it in the business. I thought he was crazy... We were all gonna do something... But he was right - and you watch your friends fall away, getting real jobs, making money, saving for retirement, eating well... And you wonder who is the fool?

But then you see - this isn't a race run like a sprint. It is an ultramarathon. While there are those bastards who are lucky and write a perfect script without sweat or problems - most of us struggle everyday - with our writing, our doubts, our families...

But pity not the poor writer...We are lucky as well. Because each day is another chance. Each day gives us the opportunity to be better. To fine tune 120 pages of crap into gold.

We are the word alchemists... And we have a choice how we approach things.

I pray each day to rise to the challenge... But mostly I just surf the internet and complain... :)

(Lifting high my glass of orange juice...)

Here's to today!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Monday Ramblings

Is it too early in this blog to already have a day of disconnected rambling?

Saw the Inside Man this weekend. I really liked it. When someone tells you it twists and turns, however, don't listen. There really isn't any twists in this movie at all. It is just a straight up, fun film. If anything - the momentum runs out a bit early - as the ending plays out a bit too long. I was most excited to see Spike use the one camera trick from him that I have stolen for at least two commercials: put a guy on the dolly ride him away from the action. It is quite disconcerting.

Still trying to decide what to do about my new script. Thinking hurts my tiny brain. I think that I will sit down and do a basic outline and look at what I am thinking of and see if I can really be inspired or not. If I think of it like a TV series - I am probably better off... That way I can just look at it like another episode - instead of telling myself that I am just selling out and ruining a really good idea... I guess what ever lets you sleep at night...

Gonna be interesting to see how it plays out this week with my film. Big star says he is going to tell his people that he wants to do our film now. That we should get started right away... Of course - I am hearing this second hand. So who knows? But I am hoping...

Been reading Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. Story of a kid who left home after college - gave away everything he had and tried to live alone in Alaska. After 4 months - he was found dead. Really majorly depressing. Perfect for a movie, right? That's what Sean Penn thinks - he is directing it this summer... If my movie doesn't get rolling - I'll be working on it.

Was looking through my links last week - and stumbled across an article that I really liked. I saved it cause I thought there was a movie story in there somewhere. There was a set of producers that I really clicked with - and we tried to develop a couple things - but it never really worked out. We agreed to keep looking for things. On a whim - I sent them the article - and they loved it. They called right away. Right now they are doing more research - trying to find out more - but they are really excited. Problem is - if they like it - I'll probably have to write it! Gasp!

Talked with one of my producers this weekend. She has a book she is about to option and thinks I'd be great to write the story. She is really sweet and in an incredible position right now. I told her that I was a whore and all I needed was a job... :)

My buddy Blair has his blog up. Its Check it out. He is going to try to be more disciplined about his writing. As are we all my friend.

I am determined to learn how to use blogger better and learn how to set up links. I have tried and failed three times so far... Sigh....

Today is Monday. I am off to the gym after I drop the kids off at school. I am most looking forward to meeting with my writers group today - because Ryan has been sick for a week. Sometimes our meetings are more like therapy- but they get me through the week.

It's great to begin the week with promise - let the disappointment come later...

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Always a bridesmaid....

Do I dare?

Everytime I think I'm out - they pull me back in....

If you read books on writing - and I do - every one I can get my hands on - they usually say something along the lines of - "the best thing to do when you finish one project is to move on to the next one" - and that way you don't have to sit there dealing with the stress and anxiety of the one you just finished.

Ron Bass - a scriptwriting machine - usually works on a couple scripts at a time. He writes 14 hours a day - the first seven hours on the one he is typing - and the next seven preping his next script. So that the day he finishes the one he is doing - he just goes straight into the next one...

I have a couple problems with that.... the main one being... discipline....

Beyond that - I suffer from a different curse. I got so insanely lucky that people actually went a little nuts over my first script. Now granted - between you and me - I am not that great of a writer. You probably already knew that if you have come here more than once. So having to follow up on that can be intimidating because people might find out the truth... not to mention the fact that I never really wanted to be a writer in the first place...

And I was incredibly naive as to the Hollywood machine. So, as stated before, we are waiting and waiting...So recently, I have tried to be good. I have finished another script. And now - I am close to broke. So I begin the process of looking for another job.

But each time a great post comes up for a producer position or a director position or even a writer position - I get a call or an email telling me we might go.

Now you would think that after the 10th time this happened, I would know better... but dammit if I am not a sucker for thinking that this is the time... I am like a dog that still goes wagging and panting to the guy that beats the crap out of him.

I told a friend - all I need is a half melted ice cube in a ocean of despair - and I'm smiling like a jack-in-the-box...

So we might be on again. Or not...

You guessed it...

"we should know something this week..."

Saturday, March 25, 2006

What a tool!

Wow. Not a whole heck of a lot to say after that.

The big sell out


Well go figure. Who is to say? A million people read your script and a million people have an opinion. And when their opinion is about changing the whole script -


Actually - I have found there are 3 ways to respond to notes.

1. Hey. Thanks for reading my script. You were really insightful when you said it was brilliant.

2. What do you mean, you had a couple issues? Maybe you should read it again because you obviously missed the point. Maybe if you pay attention this time, you will use your brain and see that the "issues" are really brilliant.

3. Bad? Well.... You're an asshole!

Well - wouldn't that be nice. Instead most of us bend over and take it like man. The trick is to discern what is good notes and what is bad notes.

I honestly don't know how to do that.

With my first script - which is still theoretically on its way to production - a few people gave me really good notes - by which to say - they brought out things in the script that I knew already that was problems. But - the script is optioned and the company loves it and doesn't want anything to change... And the problems are intrinsic in the script - so they won't change.

But here is an interesting one:

Most of my group likes my script and the hard turn at the midpoint.

But most of us like Memento too - and while it was successful - it didn't set the box office on fire.

SO what if the notes you get are really just to make your film more commercial. I can hear the Bill English's out there screaming "SELL OUT" already. But I can see the other side of the aisle.

I come at writing from a background in producing and directing. During my week of meet and greets in LA on my last script - I learned one thing. There is a price on every idea. Studios hear a pitch - and unless you have a big name in it - there is a price put on it.

Martians come to Earth and kick our Ass. $100 Million

FBI agent goes undercover at a beauty pageant. $30 Million

Gay Cowboys. $17 Million.

They can see the maximum amount that should be spent to give the film the best chance of being a hit. The more mainline the idea - the more they can spend.

So if I read between the lines and say that really the note I got was to make this script as commercial as possible - then I shouldn't be upset. Just listen and try to do that.

But what if doing that rips the script apart and takes away what makes it unique in the first place?


So this is a great way to avoid all writing for a week - debate your notes.

To see how a pro handles this:

Great advice from a master.

Till then - I contemplate the big sell out....

Friday, March 24, 2006

I get by with a little help....

So I am trying to keep up with my promise to blog many times a week....

And if you read this -

and there really are very few who are...But those who do are getting more powerful by the day - and one day our pale faces and weasely bodies will take over the world...

If you read this blog - you might be wondering if there is anything here but one guy complaining and whining about his life - and I would really hate to think that is all I am offering. When I think about how things have played out - I am nothing but thankful and respectful - and know that I am lucky and blessed - even if it has yet to put money on the table. There is nothing I regret about this journey - except for my own shortsightedness - thinking this would be a fast journey to paycheckville.

So - in honor of those who keep me sane - today is a tribute of sorts - to those in my circle of friends who give me perspective and help on the lonely road of life.

These are the guys who read my stuff - tell me that I'm brilliant(rarely) or a complete idiot(most of the time) and basically serve as that buffer between me and the real world. They basically keep me from hideously embarrassing myself - most of the time.

So this post is for you jokers:

Blair - in the middle of his Southern Comedy of manners. Currently titled Confederama - and weighing in at 156 pages. Bigger and longer than even my most undisciplined script - there is a ton of brilliance buried inside there...It just needs a stronger mind than mine to dig it out. Blair has been an encouragement and voice of reason to the mixed messages of LA.

David - My boss and my friend. A stickler for details and an expert at finding things in your script that even you don't know is there. This guy is a pure writer. He approaches the world with such an insightful and classical approach - digging deep into human nature. Where I write a car crash - he finds an emotional approach that delves deep into the psyche of his characters. He is presently working on a horror script - that is about to shoot - and a rewrite of my favorite script of the year. David pushes me to go out of my comfort zone.

Ryan - this kid. The only other member of my current writers group. He is still learning - but I'll be damned if he didn't give me insightful notes on my script. And he is really able to distance himself from his own work as well to see what needs to be done. Way better at it than I. And not worried what others will think. He has been a huge help and blessing these past months. He is finishing his own script about a guy locked in a hotel room for a month. And regardless of what you may think - it is actually very engaging...

Tadd - the best writer I know. This kid hits it out of the park every time up to the plate. Talent drips out of his fingers - and it is only a matter of time before the world pays him as such. He already has had two giant scripts sold - and is in the process of finishing another opus. His mind is leaps and bounds beyond mine. I have trouble thinking about enough story for one film - Tadd plans his current film as part 8 of 13. Even though he has yet to read my script - I still give him props.

And the others - Shawn, Ralph, Josh - guys that take the time to actually read the script and give me notes and share my brainspace for even a few minutes - thank you.

So. This one is for you boys - cheers...

See? I am not completely a self centered bastard.

At least for today.

Tomorrow: More whining and complaining....

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Big Decision

Here is the dilemma:

I wrote a script. Thing about me that you probably ought to know is that I love being manipulated by films. There is nothing I like more than being thrown into a movie without knowing what is going on and trying to play catch up.

There are so many films - that you know exactly what is going to happen. You watch the trailer and it actually tells you the entire story. The trailer really leaves you almost no reason at all to even watch the film.

But every now and then, a movie comes along that really messes with you. Like Sixth Sense. Or Memento. Incredible. You have to re-evaluate everything that you saw before to make sense of what you see next. I love it.

Now that is just what I aspire to - but it is obviously not a level I have yet reached.

The script I just finished is a con film. Sort of a romantic comedy con film...But halfway through - at the midpoint - crazy shit starts happening and everything is thrown into disarray as the movie becomes more of a thriller...

Now - my circle of writers all liked this and didn't mind it at all. I knew this was an issue - because - in my wild dreams - should this movie ever get made and you try to sell it - what do you sell? The romantic comedy or the thriller? Which is it?

And most of the American movie going public wants Big Mac's. They don't wanna buy a ticket for a Big Mac and find out half way through their sandwich that it is a fish filet...

So there is my dilemma. While I think the film works fine as it is - with a bit more tweaking - my agents think that the first part of the film works so well - that it could really be a big commercial film with big actors in the parts...

So either I say - screw you, punks. This is the movie I'm making. Or I go back and rewrite the second half to make it more like the first....


Nothing is ever easy.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

When it rains.....It pours

So... Like I talked about yesterday - Hollywood is all about the waiting game. If you are trying to get in. Once you are already in, I guess it moves faster - but that goes back to my "once I do this, then it will all be easier" theory that is quickly shaping up to be caa caa.

I think you always have to do more - probably no matter where you are. You are always having to hustle yourself.

So yesterday was a big day.

I wish I could say it was all good news... But even bad news is good news. Just hearing something is so much better than the void of silence that means that no one really cares.

(Just a quick reminder - I have a big script with a medium sized studio - top talent attached - and we are waiting for availabilities... It has been 2 years... And we still wait....)

(Additional recap - I have produced and directed a ton of series for the Discovery Channel - like 14 series or so. I saved and saved for the day I would leave and try to break into film. Wrote a script and took off. That was almost exactly three years ago... So that savings is on "E" and desperately looking to drop lower....)

SO I had a few options on the table... Money possibilities... That I hoped would come through... And I know I can always go push carts at WalMart - and believe me, it has crossed my mind... But for now - I'm hoping and praying one comes through.

1) Got a call on my medical thriller pitch. A big studio recommended me as a writer for a "take" on a producers idea. A "take" - something that really deserves its own post - is where you write up an idea for free - just the treatment part. This story was based on an idea they created. I spent three months going back and forth with the producer and her assistant - trying to cram some crazy ideas into a story - only to be told they sent the take to the studio - and they studio said - love the ending - its too confusing - and make it scarier...I always felt they had too much philosophy and not enough thrills... So its back to the drawing board. They essentially told me to do with it whatever I wanted - but make it scarier.... So go figure... That's a page one do over. But I want to keep a good relationship with not only the producer - but the studio... So that's back to the beginning.

2)My film. This is the project that opened all my doors. Got me a manager and agents. People really like this dark sick movie - and it has done me well. But there is no way that it is being made yet. Big star has a pay or play for a big film going overseas. 3 weeks ago, that film looked like it was falling apart and they wanted us to move up - but now they have been saved and we are pushed again. Theoretically to winter. We shall see....

3)My new script. Just finished a new script. Did it pretty fast - and it felt really good. Got great feedback from those I trust - a circle of about 5 guys - mostly writers. Just got the call from my agents yesterday.

They really like... Half of it...

Its a tough film that starts as a romantic comedy and turns into a thriller. Not the best combo. They love the first half - not sure about the second. So while I was really happy to hear from them - I really have to think if I want to rework the whole second half - or just leave it and see that I really wanted it to be this way.

So a lot to process.

But either way - none of these is really anything close to a payday yet....

so maybe Walmart in the meantime....?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The monster at the end of this post

Let me take you on a little trip...

And please - humor me. This will all come back around.

So here it is - early 90's. I am in my little conservative east coast film school - and trying to absorb every little thing I can about film. I watch as many movies a day as I can, I read every book I can find, I fill every little scrap of paper with academy award acceptance speeches...

And into this mix comes reviews about a movie that is blowing peoples minds. Everyone is talking about it. Roger Ebert says this movie is the surprise of the year - and in an age before all of us got our movie news and spoilers from things other than the internet - the media was all a buzz... But the big difference between then and now is that no one would spoil the surprise. This movie had something happen in it that no one saw coming....

I was so excited. Now this being a smaller sized town - and the film going into limited release - meant that we had to wait... And wait... And wait... Until it finally got to where we were. I gathered up at least two dozen of my comrades from school... All of us ready to witness the big turn...

Now - if you want to know a bit about me - there is nothing I love more in a movie that being deceived and manipulated... I love to go to a film and think it is about one thing - only to have it be something completely different. I love being surprised and shocked and dismayed when I end up being wrong about my expectations...I am entirely too vocal in my love or hate for films as they unfold... There is nothing better than being in the theater and being pulled along by a film to God knows where...

So the big night comes... And we are ready. Everyone is there... Everyone talking about what is to come... And we wait... And wait... And wait... And guess what? The big surprise is....

a penis.

Go figure. It all lead up to a dick. A girl....Was really.... Not a girl.

I remember being shocked. Being freaked out. And then being really let down. This was not a twist in the story - this was not some incredible plot manipulation - it was really just a shock.

Needless to say, my friends did not let me pick movies for a while.

Now here is how it comes back around.

The entire game of Hollywood is about waiting. To get anywhere - you need buzz... And buzz takes years to build - then everyone knows you - then everyone wants you - then you wait some more....

I always thought I was just one step away. One short film away. One award away. One commercial away. One TV show away. One TV series away. One script away. One whatever...

We have gone as far as we can without getting anything done. And we are still waiting.

You send something to your agents - that took you years to get... And you get notes back... In maybe three weeks... And then you wait some more...

You are always one thing away....There is hope, there is dreams... And there is reality... And

I know all there is to know about the waiting game.... About the waiting game....

So go figure.... It's not about bitter oats...It's just about truth.

And that is the monster at the end of this post.

Monday, March 20, 2006

With friends like these....

So this is something I don't see a lot of posts about...

Late last year - when I went back to Discovery, I hooked up with an old and dear friend. We both started film school at the same time, both started working in the industry at the same time, and he produced a lot of commercials that I directed for many years. We have worked together a lot.

This guy - Lets call him Blair - while probably being the smartest one in my group of friends - was never really much of a writer. Way more of a critic. Even with a literature degree and being one of the best read guys I knew. He always was ready with a one liner or a little quip - and he loved Woody Allen. But he never really got off his butt and wrote.

When I was getting ready to go out to LA to deliver a couple "takes" on projects - I started meeting with Blair again. He is now a producer for a Government agency - selling propaganda to children in the form of television. As we ate - we would take my ideas or stories and destroy them - and then build them back up - until they were actually a story.

Blair has a great grasp of what to do as only one who has never done could have...

But as we did this for my stories - he was encouraged to see that if an idiot like me could get a script out there that was getting notice - he would actually get off his own red ass and write himself.

And - amazingly... Different from 99% of people... He actually did!

Blair finished his first draft in January and is in the middle of fixing his creation. Through accountability with a friend - he cranked out 5 pages a day. And he also helped me crank through my script - the one I should be getting notes on from my agents today....

The point is this.

Writing is a lonely, isolated exercise. It is the life of the mind. And if you want to get better - get outside your mind... Find a friend. Another writer - or two... And get together with them regularly. Tell them you ideas - and let them mock you. And help you. And you will get better. Make them hold you accountable.

The deal with Blair and I was - 5 pages a day. Emailed to each other before bed. We really didn't read them - just made sure they were there - until the first draft was done. No criticism till then - and once it is finished - then trash it.

It is amazing what can get done. If you get blocked - call your friend.

New doors will open when they tell you such gems of encouragement as:

"Get off your ass and write, pussy."

"Stop whining, ya Nancy. Start typing."

"You kiss your wife with that mouth?"

You get the picture...

With friends like these.....

Sunday, March 19, 2006

we shall see....

So yesterday....

Started in on a new outline.

When I first got my agents - who loved my first script - or so they said... They had me come out to LA for a week of meet and greets... Now, to understand this - this is basically a bunch of meetings with people that the agents either A)know well enough that they will take time out of their schedule with some new kid as a favor to the agents or B) they actually read your script and want to meet with you. I truthfully can not tell you which was which - although probably truth be told - most of the people were probably in the A category.

I think I did like 20 meetings in 5 days - driving all the heck over LA from studio to studio trying to make these meetings... It was highly amusing...

There were a couple people that actually proved to be fans... People that I really liked and who have since sent me stuff for me to do my "take" on - "take" effectively meaning - figuring out an entire script for free.

At the time of these meetings, I was actually shuttling back and forth from Indiana to Virginia - producing a series for the Discovery Channel. So inevitably - when I would be asked what I was doing, I would mention that - and inevitably - they would say something along the lines of - "well that would make a great movie."

And truthfully - when you are in the middle of a series - and you are exhausting every idea for that show that you possibly can - the last thing you want to do is come up with another idea - an original one - based in that same fricking world.

But somehow - after the 10th person says "hey - that would make a great movie" you start thinking maybe there is something else there... And so in a really poorly misguided way - I did the pathetic writer thing - stumbling through a fake pitch about what the movie might be about - and watching the execs eyes light up - wow! That's a great idea... Why don't you send me something about that....


So here I am - 4 months later - on the weekend where I am waiting for notes on my first script of the year - revisiting that other idea and seeing if I can do more than just make notes out of it. Turn it into an actual outline. See if there is script there... I think there is...

But - does that mean "it will make a great movie?"

We will see.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

sad, sad, pathetic...and sad

So we are still waiting. Almost a month later. After playing with our emotions, getting us all worked up, playing with promise - it looks as if we are still a fall start. The movie that looked like it was falling apart now has a new life - in a new country. So the Big Director is over there scouting for new locations... and this most likely pushes us back once again to a late fall start...

Waiting sucks big time.

I am so not the most patient person. I hate waiting. I hate being told to hold on. I would like to say that God has taught me patience during this whole ordeal - but I probably just learned to hide my feeling of anxiety and worry. Some days I feel as if I have it under control - but then others - it rears its ugly head and makes me almost immobile.

I have written another script since the first of the year. I have tried to set the unrealistic goal this year of writing four scripts. So I have one that is like at draft 1.5. My manager really likes it - but my agents have a ton of notes they want to give me. I was really hoping that this script my open a door to a payday - but it looks like they think there is more work to do. My writers group has some notes - but everyone seemed to really like it. I think my agents do too, but we shall see. They are spending the weekend reading it again - and making notes. I think its the kind of script that gets better with a second read - but most people won't do that... so who knows... :)

I am going to try to be more regular about posting... I really need to get into a discipline... and I really need to think about how I can make some money....

But God is good... I am so stinking lucky to be in this position - and I really hope that this is a good year... not another one full of waiting....

until then I will try not to be

sad, sad, pathetic... and sad.