Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Days like that

Yesterday was nothing like it was supposed to be.

I had plans.

And you know what they say about the best laid plans.

So my day went another way.

I had a lot to get done - a lot of things I needed to do - and they all went undone.

On the plus side, I did get to spend some time with Ryan and Scott.

But there was more to do. And it didn't get done.

And so it goes.

Went over my 5 page start last night and like the direction and feel as if I have an interesting voice for the characters. Now that Shawn has given me the plane adapter - I hope that I can work while in the air.

Should be doing some work for Tadd as well. Little writing assignment for a trivia game - but it will be some extra scratch in the pocket.

And the translation game continues.

I need to spend more time in China to keep up my Chinese. My understanding it there - just need to get my speaking back.


They just called my flight. No delays yet - knock on wood.

More tomorrow from the other side of the world.

Time to start digging....

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Plan

This is a prep day.

Heading off to China for fun and games tomorrow. Only a 10 day trip. But 10 days lived at the opposite of normal day and night... Sigh.

I'm prepping for the 14 hour flight from Chicago to Beijing.

Loaded my new video I-Pod with every free thing I could find on itunes. Got the free "the Nine" pilot. Got the "Bones" pilot. Got some new cartoon network show. None of which I care about - just trying to play for time.

Paid for the last Battlestar Galatica episode. That show is so good. But I'm waiting to watch once I'm on the plane.

Bought copies of City Of God - brilliant film if you haven't seen it - and Amores Perros - another brilliant film. Also bringing along a copy of Season one of the Shield.

Also packing a copy of "Dismal" - David's new film that he sent me a rough cut of. Can't wait to watch it. On a plane. On Halloween... :)

Gonna bring Surber's " the Power of Film" and try to get to the library today to pick up something else.

Didn't write this weekend - but really like the beginning of the new project - so I think I'll play with that a bit when I'm staying up all night.

Today - spending some more quality time with the family and getting ready to go.

Gonna meet with Ryan and look at his new script that he gave me three weeks ago - but I haven't yet read. But I am going to here in the next couple hours.

Each time I get ready to get on a plane - I feel like a huge disconnect starts in my brain. Almost like when you're going to the Doctor for a check up and you know he's gonna come at you with that greasy finger. You just start to slowly shut down you brain - and begin a mantra.

It's not that bad. No really. It'll be great. You can just relax. Just take it easy. Lay back. Don't worry about it. Everything will be great. Think how much you can get done...


That's the plan anyway.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Travels Blues

I'm sure you're very sick of my traveling stories. But for some reason, I can't get enough of them....

For the last four weeks - the flight from Ft Wayne to Chicago has been late. This has caused some problems - but I never get too upset if I'm late getting to work - its just when I'm late getting home.

For the past three weeks - getting back to Chicago from SF has been a bear.

I know - cause when I check in - it says - you're flight has been delayed. Would you like to look at other options?

I always say yes. This week, the machine tried to put me on standby for the next flight out. I said fine. But for some reason - just as it got to the boarding pass part - it said that the flight wasn't available.

So my 2:00 flight was delayed till 2:30. Then 3:00. Then once we got on the plane - we were delayed again. And then we took off - with the arrival time being set at 9:05. My flight from Chicago to Ft Wayne leaves at 9:00, but I wasn't too worried because usually when one flight backs up - most of the flights back up.

First mistake.

Got to Chicago. Was one of the first off the plane at 9:07 - and looked at the board.

My flight had left.

I went to find customer service - and in the A and B concourses, there were lines of about 200 people in each.

Not a good sign.

I head to the F gates - where I would have left from. I get in line there - only about 30 people. Good sign. Except that the two people at the counter have each been there for over 30 minutes each. And now one of two representatives packs her stuff and leaves.

A new lady shows up 10 minutes later. Now I'm about 12 people out.

They now make an announcement that they will close this station in 30 minutes. There are about 50 people in line now.

Luckily - I am the last one to the counter before they close. I knew I was on the last flight back - but I'm hoping for something. I am told because of weather - there is nothing they can do for me. No car, no hotel, no suitcase - just a ticket for the first flight out the next day at 7 am.

It's now 10:30.

I rush downstairs - cause I figure I'll just rent a car and drive home.

I talk with 5 shuttle vans to the rental cars and no one will do a one way rental.

I'm screwed.

I remember that I heard that over 500 people live in O Hare airport. I figure I'll join the ranks.

I go back inside - but find that all the security gates in this terminal are closed.

I switch over one terminal - and now I'm freezing - cause all I have on is a T shirt - and its 30's in Chicago now - and finally find an open security gate.

I try to walk in and the lady tells me I can't come in. This ticket is for tomorrow. If I wanna go in, I have to go down to baggage claim and stand in line to get a security stamp.

I had passed the line at baggage claim on my way up to the gate. It was over 300 people long - cause they closed all the customer service counters and sent everyone down to baggage claim.

I explained I had already stood in line for over an hour - all I wanted was to get some dinner and sit down and wait for my flight tomorrow.

She said: Well you in trouble then, cause everything is closed.


Taking pity on me - she explained that if I waited for 2 minutes - 11:00 - she could let me in. Hmmm. Wish she would have told me that first.

SO I waited two minutes - and got in.

Found a little outlet station. Plugged in my computer and played a little Half Life2 - trying to make the best of it. Then opened up Final Draft and wrote a couple pages.

Now - at 1 am - I was tired. Make my way to an empty gate and saw 4 guys already sprawled out on the chairs.

I know airport are trying. And I really maintain a level of cool at most times - cause I think they probably have the worst jobs in the world and people yell at them all the time. But I do believe they could design some chairs and benches with sleeping people in mind.

There is no way to sleep on these foul things. There are horrible metal dividers between the seats, they angle back at a slant so that you are rolling into the back supports... Any way - they are horrible.

At one point - I took my shoe off and tried using it as a pillow to survive.

My wife can sleep anywhere - anytime. I can't sleep anywhere but in the most optimal conditions - so the night was miserable.

Compounding the uncomfortableness - a cleaning lady came to vacuum at 2:30 - the floor cleaners at 3:30 - and one guy just opened his big freaking yap and snored for and hour and a half.

At 5 - people started coming in with Mc Donalds and eating right next to us.

I rolled off my bench - got my shoes on and trekked to the bathroom.

Don't think I'd be very good homeless person. But who is?

Thankfully - my flight left on time and I got back to the airport. Unfortunately, I had no luggage - and had to wait in another line. United was short staffed and so the counter help was upstairs getting a plane off - so we stood for 30 minutes waiting for her to come back. On the plus side - somehow my luggage made it there.


So I did get home. Just 13 hours later than I thought.

And the best part is - I'm getting back on a plane on Tuesday.

Don't you wish you were me?

Friday, October 27, 2006

When you look into the abyss...

How funny is that?

Been doing a lot of deconstruction the last few days.

I am working on taking an All-American product to an All-Asian country.

I have to find a way to contextually reapply all of the same emotional appeals that we have here to them over there.

It's not easy - but it's very interesting.

I have a lot of ideas - but it will be fun to see if this American liberal open company can have the same kind of "openess" when throwing out half of what they do here because it just isn't effective over there...


Left work a bit early to do some Passport processing for Bill, my art director. Walked a couple miles in the beautiful SF sunshine yesterday. Felt really good. Picked up a couple books to try to amuse me on the plane on the way to China.

The Power of Film - by William Surber who teaches at USC.

Writers interviewing other writers - by the staff at Believer.

Also picked up Season One of the Shield. Never watched an episode - but I'm playing with another Cop idea in my head - and thought I might enjoy passing the 14 hours on the plane with the show.

Looking forward to getting home. Daughter has a birthday next week - so I'm taking her out this week. At Boarders last night, I bought her the boxed set of kids books called Bunnicula - about a rabbit vampire and the Dog and Cat that team up to solve the mystery.

The clerk was this heavily tattooed, piercings everywhere guy - and he went nuts. His face just lit up in an ear to ear smile. He read those stories as a kid and loved them. I live for moments like that.

Looking forward to China. Not looking forward to being away.

Off to another plane.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

This won't hurt a bit

How do you approach story?

Let us all get on the same page first. There is only like - what? 20 different stories? Maybe less? They can be told in different ways and venues - but they've all been done before.

So what is it that sets yours apart from everyone else's?

The way its told.

And - I guess - whether or not you're a good writer.

So you pick a story and see what you bring to it.

I've talked about this a bit before - in my rant on fractured narrative. I love to sit in a theater not knowing what the hell is going on and letting my brain piece by piece put the puzzle together until I've figured out what's going on.

And in my writing - I try to do the same. It usually results in an overplotted mess - but engaging nonetheless.

So two things.

First - a talk with Bill my Art Director. Bill is another kid - like me - who is white, but grew up in Asia. Don't know what that makes us other than screwed up. Nothing to do with Asia - mostly likely just due to us being weird.

Bill loves obscure art and foreign films. He searches out the craziest title and film you can find and watches them. He does this - because he completely redesigned the video store next to the Art Theater in our old town - and because he did it for free - they give him free movies for life.

Very nice! High Five!

And like all artists - Bill is a tortured soul. A 100 years ago - Bill would be in a cave somewhere - railing against the industrial age. Today, he's an art director in commercials railing against materialism.

Bill had just seen the Prestige. I had not. Bill wanted to talk about it. I did not. So we have not.

But I did bring up an interesting thing I read about Chris Nolan - the director. Chris Nolan is one of my favorites. Sure he did Batman Begins. And its great. But he also did Memento. One of THE great films. It is a slow burn of a movie that works its way under your skin - and when you finally get to the end expecting a triumph - it instead makes you reconsider everything and leaves you instead with a guilty commentary on the nature of sin and man.

I love this guy.

I loved Insomnia. Loved Batman Begins.

I had just read a snippet of an interview with Chris where he said that it used to be that you had to tell a story in the most straightforward manner possible. So that if a guy was watching it on TV and had to get up to answer the door and get a pizza - when he sat back down 10 minutes later - he could fit right back in.

Chris said you didn't need to do that anymore. And as storymakers - we had a lot of arrows in our quiver. Meaning - tell the story in the most interesting way possible.

Which brings us to the second thing.

Saw Prestige last night.

Good film. Not yet sure if I wanna saw great. Loved the look - crazy - since they shot the entire period film that is supposed to be in England - in Los Angeles. Great performances. Across the board. David Bowie as Telsa? Are you kidding me?

And a really cool story.

I know that Chris spends a lot of time - working a story from the back to the front - so that once you see the end - everything that came before it makes a lot of sense. I try to do the same thing. It's tough - like building a watch backwards. But he is brilliant at it.

And if you can do this and still have a heart left in the movie - you're a genius.

I believe he is.

I love magic. I love tricks. I really like the movie. It unfolds in a brilliant way - tells a fun story - and finishes nicely.

Didn't love it as much as his other films. Not sure why yet. But it is still a hell of a lot better than the Illusionist - and I'd have it up there in my top ten for the year.

But I'm still working through what didn't work for me.

Have you seen it? What ya think?

Oh yeah. Found out yesterday - I'm heading back to China next week. They wanted me to go to Germany after this trip - but I got out of it. Not that I didn't want to see Germany - more that I wanted to have a life. Geeze. It all happens so fast...

And here's something funny. Might meet a couple teen idols at the end of the month when I get back.

Time to make the donuts.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Back to the grind

So I'm fighting a cold.

And the best thing to do is make sure you cross a lot of time zones, get little to no sleep in any, and get on a plane every three days.


In SF this week - there is some crazy conventions. Not sure what they are - but the streets are full of people with little plastic tags around their necks. Embarrassing.

Every Hotel is full. I'm staying at a new one - the Hotel Nikko. Very elegant, right downtown - and the room I'm staying in is tiny tiny. But the price is Giant Giant. I think over $300 bucks a night. And literally half the size of my normal room that's half the price.

It does have a flat screen TV though - and I got to watch Heroes and Studio 60 last night.

High Five!

Spent time with the family this weekend. Very nice. Jade did her first oral report with another classmate - Natalie. It was on the Mayans. On their own - they decided to do a interview - where Jade was a Mayan Princess. They wrote it out - like a play - filled with sarcasm (don't know where she gets it) - and it ends with the lights going out dramatically, and Jade disappears. No one knows where the Mayans went.

And then my son - who just turned 7 - wrote his bio for class. He said when he grows up - he wants to write movies. Where the heck did that come from? Who wants this life of pain? I felt like I should sit him down - like an old immigrant father - and explain:

Son. I did this - hunched over a computer all day. In bad light. With broken and cracked hands. An open bottle beside me. I did all this - so that you won't have to. I want better for you son...


Big call today. Budget went through last week and today we start making the big decisions. Also gotta decide if my contract gets renewed this week. And the Chinese Celebrity search continues.

Gotta plan the next China trip. Gotta get a visa for that trip.

Lots of things piling up. But that's the fun part.

And writing. Can't forget to write. In between everything else.

Another week. Hi Ho!

Monday, October 23, 2006

What is it about this guy?

It's nice! I like...

This is the first four minutes of the Borat movie - scheduled to open up next weekend.

My my.

There is another deleted clip out there where Borat and his producer are pulled over in an icecream truck by the police. Borat apologizes that "if they have to search inside him" it will be bad because he ate 13 cinnabons the night before and his anus looks like "a tired dog's mouth."


I can't seem to get enough of the guy - even if he is everywhere - repeating a lot of the same jokes. They still make snot come out of my nose whenever he says something crazy.

Reminds me of a friend of mine.

A lot of people go to film school to be a big director. A few as producers, a few as writers. But I remember in my production class - when asked who wanted to be a director - every single hand went up. And my teacher said - maybe two of you will ever make it.

I thought he was an idiot.

He was wrong. Only one every did. Me. Not to brag. The class wasn't that impressive.

Nobody went to film school to be something but the best. But those who survived and worked in the business sometimes took a different route.

One of those guys was Randy Pease.

Randy wanted to do what everyone else did - direct - but saw very quickly that most people were delusional. Randy decided that he wanted to work. While the rest of us hid away in rooms writing scripts that never deserve to see the light of day - Randy shifted his focus to the sound department.

He became a boom guy. For those of you still in the dark as to what that is - its the guy who holds the very long stick with the mic on the end of it.

Randy hooked up with a really good sound guy - and pretty soon - he was working on big features. Super Mario Brothers, Most Steven King shows, all Terry Gilliam movies, a lot of Joel Schumaker films.

Randy worked on the movie version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer - and had Kristy Swanson chasing him - even though he was married. (For all you single writers out there - funny works. And the best way to get a girl? Ask them out!)

I remember sitting down with him - questioning him incessantly about the "big show." What was it like on set. How were the actors. What about this director?

Randy is probably one of the funniest guys I know. To this day - anyone who knows Randy quotes lines from him.

He reminds me of Borat.

He has the same jokes - told again and again - but everytime I hear them - I shoot something out of my nose and choke.

When I was on set with John in LA last week - he told me he had just finished shooting a trailer with Randy in Virginia. He said at wrap - Randy was going up to everyone on the crew going:

"Don't feel bad. It's not your fault. You did the best you could."

Another famous Randy line... Told as if he's talking on his cell to the producer...

"Tired? No... I'm not tired. Oh.... Fired....."


"Long underwear? I thought you said to wear Thong Underwear...."

See? Silly. But in the heat of the moment - on set... It's stinking funny. He usually unleashes those at the most inopportune times - when things are starting to get really tense -

Once I was directing for Ghost Stories - that horrible Twilight Zone style show - and the exec producer and I are at the monitor - with our comdexes on - and Randy is booming the show. Between takes - he would take the mic like a sports announcer and give a running DVD commentary on the action to get the shot up and running.

I remember the exec - a very humorless guy - with tears running down his cheeks - trying to hold it in - and me waving the AD to call action because if I opened my mouth I would blow it.

Where ever Randy was on the set - usually grabbing something at craft services - when they would ask if sound was ready - he would yell - "Speed!"

His other battle cry when they would call for him - as he walked larconicly back to set:

"Flying in at flat rate speed."

The first time I took him to Taiwan - he would ask his translator all sorts of questions - like:

"What do you call this?"
"A tree? We call that Shu"
"See? Now why can't you just call that "tree?" It'd be a lot easier..."

Shawn complained about getting bit out in the rice field one day. He said he was eaten up by chiggers.

Randy casually replied:

"Shawn. They prefer to be called Chegros."

And for one last story that always makes me smile.

Randy worked on the Contender with Jeff Bridges and Gary Oldman. One day, between takes - Gary was standing off by himself - practicing his lines.

Randy walks casually over and leans against the wall next to Gary. Doesn't even look at him. Just says:

"Hey Gary. Just wanted you to know. That fake English accent? Not fooling anybody."

And walks away....

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Good Morning, Mr. Bootles.


Geeze - I don't know. 8 years ago? It was a while back...

Really frustrated with parts of my life. One was that I was doing all to well at my job - Producing and Directing commercials and TV shows for Discovery. (And by well, I mean - staying busy doing stuff that was not really considered any thing but a credit by people in the industry - but was work nonetheless.) I loved my job. Hell - I loved having a job. But I didn't go to film school to do TV and Commercials - although one could do much worse - I went to school to make films.

There were a number of us who felt the same way.

About the same time - Smoke came out. Not sure how many of you saw the film. Directed by Wayne Wang - it was about a cigar shop in NY with Harvey Keitel as the lead and a huge cast under him. The director and cast liked shooting so much - they kept going - and shot another film - Blue in the Face - completely improved right after Smoke.

I liked Blue in the Face even better.

Now at this time - Christopher Guest and his films were just starting to come out - and the idea of an improved movie was bandied about. I knew better, having tried to make it as an actor a looooooong time ago - that improv is best left to the geniuses - and we were not geniuses.

So we gathered together a group of like minded individuals - and decided that anyone could write anything. We had an over-arching idea.

Something happened in Seashore State park. No one knows what it is. But the Government has come in and shut things down.

We imagined that there would be crowds of people coming from all over the country - gathering - each with their own opinions as to what happened in there.

And so we met once a week. 12 of us. Each writing something down - and then getting together and reading it to the group. Most people brought 4-5 pages of stuff. The more ambitious of us brought 8-12. Tadd brought 40 each week.

Guess who became the professional?

After three or four weeks we had about 500 pages of script and no idea how to shape any of this into a film.

And then Tadd read a scene.

It was nothing more than an ambulance pulling up to the edge of the crowd and a couple paramedics rushing into the park with a gurney.

When they come back -there is a body under a sheet. And as it passes through the crowd - part of the sheet comes off -

Revealing a huge shoe. A clown shoe.

I don't know what it was about that scene - but I was completely engaged.

Tadd followed it up with a frantic call between two clowns about some kind of mysterious conspiracy - and I was completely hooked.

We threw everything else away and kicked out the rest of the group - and whittled it down to four.

Shawn, Blair, Tadd, and I.

Shawn brought in two wanna be Men-in-Black type agents who were charged with delivering a cooler to an undisclosed location. They ended up becoming cops in the final script.

Tadd brought his genius - and his disgusting sense of humor.

I helped round out the cast of clowns and tried to bring a semblance of order.

Blair - well. He tried in vain for us to remember that we were good guys - regardless of what we wrote on page. He mostly put his head in his hands and cried - saying there is no way he can have any part of this.

We would meet once a week - talk about the next batch of scenes - assign them to each other - and then go write. We would always up the ante - writing to impress each other more than anything else.

I remember crying we would laugh so hard.

When we got to the end - Blair finally wrote one scene. The end credits.

After two passes - we sat and read the final draft.

It was true. It was mighty disgusting. But also pretty damn funny. Maybe more than any of us wanted to unleash on the world.

But even now, we talk about it.

Over the years - Tadd has gone on to have some great scripts. He was always the best writer amongst us. He has an agent at CAA and has written a huge sci-fi script for Fox and had his other script almost put into production. He has a new script that kicks ass - and currently writes for a big Toy and Game company.

Shawn - who never considered himself a writer, but always did pretty damn good - wrote another abortive script with me - a horror script called the Jungle. He also ended up moving to Indiana with me to do our first film - which didn't quite work out the way we thought. He is now the Head of International at a big company - avoiding travel anywhere because he is too busy to leave America.

Blair actually started writing once he left our group. After writing and producing a kids show for NASA/PBS - he is now the star/writer/producer/director of the dumbest concept ever sold. He does a fake radio show that is filmed for the internet. And people pay him crazy bucks for it. First one comes out in the next two months. Expect to see it here.


Well. I guess I blog. I write. Have agents at Paradigm. My movie is still out there - with a big name attached. But no one is moving too fast with it. And in the meantime, I work in China.

But there looming in the background -

A mean group of clowns. Snickering. Plotting. And waiting for their chance.

Just like us.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


Since I started this blog - that was my longest break. 3 days off. So you would think I would return with a brilliant post.

Guess again.

LA was nice - just long. We stayed at the HOTEL ROOSEVELT right next to Mann Chinese Theater - still one of my favorite places in the world. Sure the Arclight has better seats and a nicer audience - but MANN is big. It has History. The screen is giant. The sound rumbles your seat. And you get to be one of the people.

The night we arrived - Hollywood Blvd was closed off for the premiere of the Prestige. Hope that movie rocks because Chris Noland is one of the best directors working today. I aspire to write his type of films. Memento is one of the best films of the last few years.

The shoot went well.

It was one of the strangest experiences yet.

We had a monitor set up just for us. The international crew - represented by Hiromi from Japan, Frauke from Germany and me - the white guy from China. Then we added in my art director and former tormenter Bill and my DP John.

I felt like an executive. We sat there - criticizing everything - just like a good executive - and talking about how when we shoot for our countries - we're gonna do it so differently - because we will have no money... :)

It was good. Not only to see the guys - but because we are all over the country now. Bill in VA and John in LA and me in CHINA/INDIANA/SF. We spent a lot of time just talking pre-production in case the budget got passed and we had to jump in.

And guess what?

The budget freaking passed.

So it looks like I'm jumping in. We are supposed to shoot in China in the next three weeks for the first shoot. Three days of models. But so much has to happen between now and then.

So the last few days were crazy. Up at 5 and on the way to set by 6 and shooting till 8pm and then out with the guys till 10 or 11. And all the lack of sleep from China all caught up with me at once. Combine that with two to three days on a plane a week and I was nursing - still am nursing - a righteous cold. Can't seem to shake it.

On Thursday - I go down to get the car at 6 to drive to set - and there is Dennis Rodman with his two "friends" who happened to be sisters. He was three sheets to the wind - but very nice. Not as tall as you would think for someone so incredible on the court. Too bad he has no place to focus that energy now - cause he was an inspiration. Now - he looks like a mess.

It is really sad that we were in LA for a week and didn't even see a movie. That has never happened for me.

So I get home last night. Just in time to watch part two of Exodus on Battlestar Galatica - and crawl into my bed. When it ends - I put on Chicken Run and I have one kid on each side of me. Soon the dog joins in. My wife finally tires of Spider Solitaire sometime during the night - and by the time I wake up at 4 - I am in a tiny little sandwich of space. Granted - it is a sandwich of love - but I wake up nonetheless.

Good to be home.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Whoring your way to the top

Judge not the acting, less your acting be judged...

BOTTOMS UP! The most brilliant film ever!

I noticed the other night as I was walking through Walmart with my daughter looking for new Transformers videos for my son's birthday that Bottom's up has just come out on DVD.

I worked on two days of reshoots for this film as a 2nd AD.


This is going way back in the day. Actually over a year ago. Almost the first two posts on this blog. At that point - there were basically one or two readers - as opposed to the three or four I have now.

But, for those of you who love a story - here's a little refresher on why this clip is so cool.
Part One:

Or as I like to call it - How Nate wanted an autograph and instead I got kissed by Paris Hilton.


Part Two:

Or - How I wanted to help and ended up showing my ass for no reason.


When you watch the clip again - you can see me in three shots. After Jason Mewes gets thrown out - he runs past the front of the club.

As he skids to a stop - that's me.

As he runs to the side after the cutaway of the car - that's me.

The long wide shot of the guy running - that's me.

The shot where he gets hit by the car - that's a stunt double.

I shot one more scene that's supposed to be part of a montage - but thanks to the beauty of youtube.com - I don't have to watch the movie now.

But I am very curious to see if I got the credit I so richly deserved:

Jason Mewes Ass Double.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Had this picture for almost a year. Sent over by Mr Bootles. Been a bit too afraid to use it... But you know what they say...Use it or lose-

Oh never mind.

Needless to say - my daughter survived the party.

Thanks for the drop ins...Always fun to see others give you parenting advice...

As it turns out, the wife did exactly what any reasonable parent would do. She talked to the parents of the girl before they went. She went over and hung out a bit. Even went with them to the haunted house 45 minutes away. Took three of the girls out when they started crying - even though my daughter - the youngest and smallest of the bunch by far - ended up going through the entire thing yelling "awesome" every time someone jumped out. Then - sometime after 10:30, my wife went home, leaving my daughter to her own devices. They stayed up late, putting on make-up and making each other laugh till they fell asleep at two.

At which point, a clown with bad teeth snuck-

Just kidding. I hope.

All is well.

Today is gear switching again. The other kid - the boy - it's his "celebration" today. His birthday - his 7th - is on Tuesday, but the party is today, since I won't be here. I think he's been excited about this day since his last birthday a year ago.

We'll see how he does.

Kid's getting bigger. He's been reading me One Fish Two Fish this week. It's great to see him read the words - then watch his face change as he goes from reading mode to comprehension mode and just light up with laughter at the idea of Mr. Gump's Wump with one lump.

So what more can one ask from a weekend? A birthday party and a sleep over - and no molesters.

All in all - I call it a win.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Gorillas in the Mist

What do you do?

So my wife and I had a big conference call last night.

Seems her and my daughter had quite the fight. I've heard this happens - mothers and daughters not quite seeing eye to eye - and my daughter is in the fifth grade - so it seems as if its time for that to start happening - but it by no means makes it easier to swallow.

The issue at hand: Class slumber party.

At the home of one of her classmates. With all the girls in class attending.


We don't know the girl or her parents.


What to do?

For my wife - it is immediate pictures of child molesting Satan worshippers eager to have the freshest meat - covertly planning a slumber part to coincide with the winter solstice.

And she has good reason to think that.

She has friends that all got the "bad touch" at a slumber party.

Me - I always think the best of people. I'm the guy that drinks the water out of the sewer cause the locals do it and are still alive.

In times like this - I think about a guy from our church when we lived in Virginia. We went to a very post-modern type church that brought in all sorts of people and had a lot of grace.

There was a guy who went there that was divorced. His wife lived in Maryland - and he had the kids for a couple of weeks in the summer. They are all big surfers and body boarders - so they spent most of the time on the beach.

And they get attacked by a shark.

There have been no shark attacks in Virginia beach for over 18 years.

The dad beat the crap out of the shark - and the shark still killed his son.

So how does that dad call his ex-wife and tell her what happened on his watch?

I guess my point is this:

In my gut - I say - its a freaking slumber party. What is the big deal? I know that I never want to answer to my wife when she says - I TOLD YOU! F-ING MOLESTERS!

So there we are. Back to the secret of any successful marriage.

"Whatever you think is best dear."

Thursday, October 12, 2006

It's beginning to look a lot like...

Go figure.

My least favorite time of year. Cold front came in here today in SF... But that's nothing compared to whats going on back home.

You guessed it.


So I ended the day mired in frustration. Shawn was right - bureaucracy kills me.

Apparently there is only one way to present a budget. And my way is too casual. But the way I thought I was told how to do it is wrong too. So - after waiting all day for a meeting about how to do it and being told the way I did it was the wrong way - I tried the way I thought I was told to do it and that was wrong too.


Lies. Web of lies. And deceit. Much easier to just lay it out.

So I left.

Try again tomorrow. But doesn't it look good when you tell them it costs this much and they ask for a breakdown and it takes two days to get it? Doesn't seem shady at all does it?

Time to go home.

More tomorrow.

Old stories die hard....

Is this gonna be a habit?

If so, things could get really boring – since I’m not as inclined to download crazy animal humping picures on my work computer…But for some reason – the internet was not my friend this morning and refused to allow me to upload pictures.

That and the fact that I’m actually going to bed before midnight and waking up at 7 – I run out of time to do something constructive – like blog. But thankfully – that’s what work is for.

Had a great talk with David last night. He is in a great position with his film – where people are already seeking him out and they haven’t even seen it yet. People are chasing him. What fun.

I remember those days – although they are getting so far away now its hard to remember. Once – long ago – I was seen as a hot young thing by Hollywood – although it was the last thing I wanted – I certainly didn’t complain when it did. And by hot young thing, I mean like flavor of the second. I faded out before I could really even fade in. My rise and fall was faster than a vapor. Quicker than a virgin’s honeymoon.

Don’t think I ever told the whole thing – but here is the basics.

I wrote a script. Shawn and I raised a million bucks to shoot it. We moved to Indiana to do it. Went to LA to try to get some more money. Met a producer. He gave it to STAR2 who loved it. Then gave it to STAR1 – who wanted to play the lead. Suddenly we were getting read all over town. Lots of attention. Signed not one – but three options – the last with a really great mini-major. Had a green light and a start date. Got an agent and a manager. Lots of meetings.

Then – the sky fell.

STAR1 dropped out. Movie went to turnaround. And all was lost.

Don’t feel bad. It was only two years of my life.

I got better. I think.

Now STAR1 wants back in. Wants to shoot after he finishes his big budget studio film that he’s doing now. Says he’s all excited.

Who knows.

I just go to China and try to stay out of the way. The road to Hollywood is paved with broken dreams and lies sold straight to your face on the blood on children. How can you trust anyone?

But as I told David. Celebrate each call. Treat each person that seeks you out like they deserve your respect. In the end each little victory is nice.

And in the end- those little victories might be all you ever get…

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Can you do that at work?

So this is interesting.

I'm attempting to do this while at work. I wanted to do this when I woke up - but my day and night are still not in the right place and so I can't control my life.

Blair called again today. At least he waited till 7:15 - giving me a little time to sleep. But the bastard talked so much I didn't have time to do anything before it was time to go to work. And the hotel I'm at this week is an extra half mile out - so its 2.5 miles to get in.

Not that I'm complaining. I like the walk.

But no time to write.

Last night, I had two calls with China - lasting into the night. Tonight will be the same.

Did get to see Friday Night Lights. Wow. What a show. Very engaging.

And there is no way I can miss Lost tonight. If I'm running late - I might have to break the rules and cab it home.

My mind is sorta spinning. Blair actually had a high concept idea that he wants to bring me in on. Hate that he had the idea - but hate a bit more that its good enough to get me thinking.


Had a great meeting today with the company here. Now the budget goes down to LA for approval. Slow steps forward - but the train is leaving the station. Even talk today of where I might end up. Here or China - most likely. But not sure yet.

Conference call tonight with a great casting director out of Hong Kong. This guy did Rush Hour 3 - and Ang Lee's new movie - as well as my hero Wong Kar Wai's last two films - the last one he quit on. What a way to film. This guy has no script - just signs actors for a year - and shoots. Sometimes they do the same scene 5 times - each one at a different location. Evolving as they go. Very very un-American. Besides being fiscally irresponsible.

But the pictures... my....

Off to call.

Till tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Meow are you?

Nice to see that Mr. Bootles could stop back by the site. Haven't had a comment from him in at least 3-4 months.

What I really appreciated is that I placed a call to him yesterday during my 4 hour delay on my way here to SF. He decided to call me back at about 5:30 AM my time.


Needless to say - I'm stumbling around a bit - but its a big week. Lots of decisions to be made. Lots of things to get down. And the future is at stake...

Watched Heroes last night. Interesting. Lots of stories to keep track of.

Watched Studio 60 at the Sunset Strip. I don't care what people say - I like it. A lot of bloggers complain that the stakes aren't high enough - but trust me. People who work in TV and Film think that what they are doing is the most important thing in the world. That even more than politics - TV is a matter of life and death. So for them - it IS everything.

I promise myself and you that I will write this week. And read Ryan's new script.

Meow - to the showers.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Through a glass darkly...

Would love to post one of the witty pictures that ties this tired post together... But a combination of blogger and the Fort Wayne International Airport Internet have left me feeling angry, frustrated and most of all...

(Oh ho ho! Look at that?!?! Not necessarily that witty - but apropos none the less... It worked!)



I'm starting to feel like the Machinist.

Certainly not skinny like that guy - but most definitely tired like him. I have trouble keeping my eyes open. When I turn my head - everything blurs. I feel as if I have some sort of film coating on my brain - slowing down my reaction time.

My temper is getting shorter and shorter - when usually my fuse is quite long.

It's all good though. Just another day - another city - another step.

Had a really wonderful weekend with the family. Got to spend some quality time with all those that I love and cherish - and now its back to the grind. Heading off to the great city of SF - even though my flight was cancelled - and I've been rebooked on a later flight. A flight that leaves 4 HOURS later to be exact.


My Full Throttle was really only designed to keep me up till I got on the plane - and then I planned on crashing. Hard. Now - I've tried to keep it going for an extra 4 HOURS and it doesn't want to cooperate.

But it's all good. Who needs a brain? Not me. Certainly not for my line of work.

Had a great email conversation with my Chinese counterpart. I'm in charge of production - he's in charge of marketing. I asked him what our marketing plan was for China. He asked me when we could talk about production. I said -anytime this week. Do you think I could see the marketing plan? He told me to call him on Wednesday. No mention of the plan.

That's how things get done, ladies and gentlemen.

On the flip side - I do have my coordinator role filled for China. But she is really bad at answering email. So somehow, I'll have to find a way to rectify that. Not exactly sure how.

Did get to meet with Ryan yesterday.

That little bastard finished another rough draft. That's his third this year.

I hate him.

Gonna read it this week. The dude is nothing if not prolific.

David had a screening of his film on Saturday. But he refuses to tell us how it went. Like a stake through my heart...

Sigh. These words look like little ants - crawling across the screen.

Time to close my eyes and make it all go away....

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Not Dead Yet...

Just sleeping - and having trouble sleeping.

So sorry for the extended break. But since getting back here Thursday night - my life has been a bit of a blur.

Mostly its been seeing family.

On the homefront - all is well. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers. As it stands now - I keep the job and the girl. As it stands now...

But on the sleep front - nothing but trouble.

Got off to a good start. Got home at 7pm Thursday night. Slept from Midnight till three AM - talked to the wife till 5 - then slept till 12:30pm. Stayed up Friday night watching Beverly Hills Cop 1 and 2 back to back on HBO. Fell asleep at 5am - and fitfully rested till noon. Stayed up all day yesterday. Went to watch the Departed last night - WOW - and came home and watched Stripes with the wife till about 3am. Got up now at 9 for church.

Feeling a bit dodgy.

But it should pass. I think. Just in time to head back?

After watching the Departed - I had a really good cop film idea. And by really good - I mean something that has a lot of elements that have been done before -but never quite in the way I'm thinking about. So that gives me hope - let it start percolating in my mind.

Played a bit of Lego Star Wars with the boy. Wow. That is a really fun game.

Watched the LOST premier on my computer with the wife. Still sucked in. Love that show.

Feeling better now. Guess it's time to get off the toilet and back to life. More tomorrow - as I start the Indy commute to SF all over again.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Don't throw cats....

Ever see the Jerk? Great movie - for all you children out there. Steve Martin's first - back when he was unsophisticated and still very funny.

Finished off the China/Hong Kong trip with a bang.

Met with a great post house in the morning. Another company run by incredibly smart and talented women. I guess it won't be long before they take over the world. And I thought Asia might be the last bastion of class oppression...

Last night met with a kid who went to my rival school in Taipei. He is now working here in Hong Kong with companies that need machine manufacturing done in China. He associate produced a big documentary in China last year - and while is very interested in production - has a very realistic view of the toll it takes on every part of your life.

I left him after dinner and met with a guy who does a lot of casting for American films that come here. He just finished Rush Hour 3 - and worked on Ang Lee's new movie too. Also did two of my favorite Wong Kar Wai's films. In fact - he quit 2046 just because it was so tough to work with the guy.

Really great guy and is very happy to help with our project.

But had some sad news yesterday. My wife had some trouble while I was gone. This job requires enormous amounts of traveling - and so some tough decisions will need to be made. So that talk will happen this weekend. It's not easy on either of us being apart like that when we actually - unlike a lot of couples - really enjoy being together... So hopefully there will be some middle ground here.

So that brings the big China trip to a close. I'm jumping in the shower - then the plane - and then the wide open arms of the good old U S of A.

While I'm dying of claustrophobia on my 14 hour flight - amuse yourselves with this...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Hard days night


Beijing... Are you ready to..? Uh... Hong Kong - Are you....

Rock On!

Last day in China - and if I said it couldn't come fast enough I'd be lying. And if I couldn't write cliches - I'd have nothing to write...

Everything is a blur... I remember hotel room windows - endless taxis - crowded streets and subways and computer screens.

Three more meetings today - and then I can go. Back to the welcoming arms of my family. I love China - but I love my family more.

Went to dinner with a guy I went to highschool with last night. He's married, expecting his first kid - and still loving life here in Asia. We were never really close. He was a good guy - I was trouble. He was a basketball and soccer star - I sat bench. But we were friendly. Good to see that while high school defines a lot of who we are - the walls that were built there are easily torn down.

One nice thing about being completely cut off from the rest of the world is being able to meet with more bloggers on their sites...

Two new ones to me that are incredibly inspirational:

Unk's site

and Mystery Man's

Two guys in the trenches - cutting a path to make things better for those who follow. Thanks for stopping by and feeding the mind gentlemen - it was appreciated - all the way from the Far East.

Off to work. Time to make the Chinese Donuts....

Monday, October 02, 2006

Beauty and Longing


Did better yesterday. Bed at 11 - up at 4:30. Oh dear God - I will pay. Yes... I will pay. I think by Thursday I should be close to being on this time - and guess what?

Time to go home.

Then I can be screwed up in three time zones... :)

So here's the question.

How often do you watch a movie that isn't American? English sure... But something that requires subtitles?

Granted - there are a reason that a lot of these films are made in other countries - mainly cause they wouldn't be here. But there are so many great directors with incredible voices telling such incredible stories - that it is criminal not to be looking at what they are doing - and letting it influence you.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Fernando Meirelles
Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Zhang Yi Mo
Chen Ki Ge

And that brings me to

Wong Kar Wai

Here's a selection:

Ashes of Time
Days of Being Wild
ChungKing Express
Fallen Angels
In the Mood for Love

He has just finished shooting a film in the states with Nora Jones as the lead.

This guy left art school to become a screenwriter - and now - he barely uses a script. If you want a lesson on mood - just throw any of his films in. They stop and start - takes a new character halfway through and make him the lead - flash forward and flash back.

And you want to see a pretty picture?

Wow. There are so many. Every frame.

Not that the films satisfy everytime. And the pace... Laborious...

But if you every remember an unrequited love... Or being separated from the one you love - like I am now from my wife - and that feeling you get in the bottom of your stomach that feels like you just ate a large stone...Its there in every frame.

Long looks. Tears. And subtext.


Not satisfying - but brilliant.

Stretch you mind. Pick one up. Start with Chung King Express. Its there at Blockbuster. Tarantino presents... Try it...

You might like it...

How pitiful?

This pitiful...

Two posts in one day. Granted - the last one was at 4:30 in the morning.

Here I am in one of the greatest cities in the world - sitting at my computer -

Drinking the greatest drink I have ever had since I discovered mojitos -


I bought a six pack and threw it in the minifridge.

And here I sit - singing loud and clear - all the songs on the Killers new CD


Who cares that RollingStone hated it? Who cares the rest of the critics are ripping it to shreds?

I'm loving it. Feeling homesick and loving it. Putting it on repeat one more time as I down another can of Nestle goodness.

Hey - Hemmingway had his Paris bar - and I have my Hong Kong Hotel Room...

Now if only if I could write... :)

Sunday, October 01, 2006

If its Monday - it must be Hong Kong

Sexy time!

I usually start each day off by reading about 30 blogs on writing. Then I try to compress my thoughts into something original or at least something more than boring...Because that's the kind of standards we set here... Usually I at least post a funny picture...

Last night I let myself down again. After walking around in the beautiful evening - I came across a couple locations that Shawn and I shot in years ago...Brought back a lot of good memories. We had a kick ass crew here in HK - some of John Woo's people. I particularly remember the dolly grip who could send the dolly flying down the street at a sprint and still feather the end to make the stop on the mark so stinking precise... Great group.

Anyways - I only made it till 9:00 - then fell asleep. Last night was National Day here in HK - and Fireworks went off like crazy just a few minutes later. I was so dazed and half asleep - I thought someone was trying to break into my room.

So I woke at 4 am.

Sensing a pattern?

But reading this morning, I stopped by a favorite - wc dixon's blog - and read a great post on polishing a turd.

Great concept - and it does surprisingly apply to TV - where time and money are the two things always getting shorted.

I got a decent break a long time ago when I was one of two directors put on an anthology series that was not from LA. It was a dramatic series kind of like twilight zone - but no where near as good. In fact - it pretty much sucked. But it looked good.

We were doing the same thing - shooting an episode in 3 days - doing two a week. Sometimes up to 11 pages a day. 12-18 hours a day. Special effects. All locations.

It was a nightmare.

The Show Runner was a guy who worked on Crime Story and Melrose Place. He was crazy - as well anyone should be with that much work to do in that little time. He used to say that if Michael Mann could yell at everyone to get what he wanted - so could he.

Somehow - in that first couple weeks - I found that I had endeared myself to him. I was taking my scripts and rewriting scenes - because I didn't know that I wasn't really supposed to do that. I would go to him and ask him about what he thought of the changes. Not that they were brilliant - but I think he thought I was OK - cause he said that I had permission to do that to my scripts. I was the only director that would be allowed to do rewrites...

Can you sense already how this is to come around?

Anyways -

During one episode - which I fought to get a certain young actor friend of mine cast - you may have heard of him - Tony Hale? Buster on Arrested Development? I got him his first big TV break - on a little crappy show...


Buster - against type - plays this tormented young man who has this voice in his head that makes him kill people. He meets a girl who wants to help him - but he has a hard time overcoming the voice... And at one point he is running through the halls of his abandoned warehouse looking for her. And she just so happens to decide to hide in the room where he keeps all the bodies hidden...


Anyway. On set - Buster decides to CALL HER NAME. The character name - mind you - as he is looking for her. And really - to his credit - it was giving him something to do - cause I extended the sequence out to going through the place a bit more.

So he's calling for her. And running around.

That's it.

So we finish the shoot - and I sleep for two days. Rushes come back and I get a call. 3 am. Its the Show Runner. Screaming!

Greg! How could you do this to me?


I trusted you!

Um... It's 3 in the morning.

You betrayed me! I told you you were the only one - and then you stab me in the back!

What are you talking about?

He's calling her name! That is not in the script!


And that was the end of my time on the show.

Show never got a second season and it is available now only in Best Buy - where they bulk sell all 44 episodes for the price of 19.99. Somewhere in there - you can see my great 8 episodes.

And the one where Buster got me fired.