Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Friday, August 22, 2014

LA Story

Hmm...time for another little story about the wonders of Hollywood. Once upon a time, a writer-director's script got optioned by a lower-end production company, and he was told he could direct it, so long as the budget remained in the mid-six-figures. That's cheap, for Hollywood. Happiness abounds.

A bank account was opened. Ten percent of the money arrived into it. A start date was planned. Crew were hired. Casting was done. Locations scouted. Storyboards worked up. All is good to go...except for the money meant for the actual production. Seems the money guys didn't quite have that. Oh, it's due to arrive any day now...meaning never, in Hollywood Speak.

Of course, none of this would have been brought up during the signing of the contracts. And other job offers would have been turned down. So many people who expected paychecks got told, Maybe next week...also meaning never, in Hollywood Speak.

What's sad about this was, the project could have been truly fun -- a nice little revenge thriller with stolen money and innocents trapped between warring factions and the whole nine yards. Because of this, the script was seen as damaged...and no one else was willing to go forward with it. Unhappiness abounds.

Of course, I have my own LA Story...even though mine happened in Houston twenty years ago and nearly made me a murderer. Everybody in Hollywood's got a story like this. Sometimes 2 or 3. So while I feel for people who believe in the promises of others, I also wonder why anyone would think the money will come in unless it already has come in. Moral of the story -- never sign a contract based on promises; base it solely on cash. Half up front, so even if you do get stiffed, it's workable.

That's saved me a few times, I have to admit...but not always...

Monday, August 18, 2014

Hollywood is NOT the dream factory...

Nightmare is more like it. Some of the stories I could tell...all without naming names, of course, because then you're liable for slander or something like that.

But that said, I know of a lovely little story about an independent movie being made and the problems that came with the territory. Like...they cast a second-lead actress off an okay TV drama in a key role in the film. It was all, "Love it and can't wait to work with you," until the contract was signed. Then it became, "This dialogue needs work; people don't talk like this," and "No, I have to have my own hairstylist." To name two of the situations which arose.

Ah, and then there was the love scene. "No nudity. I don't do naked." After swearing she had no problem with it. Needless to say, the director was very upset. At least, he thought he was upset. But he was also the writer of the script. And said actress took it upon herself to rewrite everyone's dialogue into the most trite, punch-in-the-face un-subtle wording ever put on the page...and then present it as, "I did a little work; made it better."

And this was before shooting even began. All so very Norma Desmond...though I'm sure said actress would have no idea to whom I refer.

I've heard so many stories like this...and have a feeling I'm about to hear more. Ah, Hollywood, land of the broken fools and crowned asses.

Stay tuned...

Already got notes...

The good thing about having a hard copy of your story is how easy it is to make notes for later. Just flip to the page and voila -- Note Done. Trying to do that on a computer before you've formatted a link to each chapter is damn near maddening.

I had dinner and a beer with some good friends at my favorite Indian Restaurant -- India's Grill. Their curry sauce is to die for. I found a place almost as good in Buffalo, but every time I'm in LA, I go here to have at least one meal. Means Subway for a few days or buying luncheon meat to nibble on, since I'm broke, but it's worth it.

I had a weird Hollywood experience driving home, this evening. A song I used for an intense moment in one of my script played on the radio...and I was getting onto the 405...which is where the song takes place in the script. It's as a kidnapped man is being driven to what he believes will be his death. I thought it was a Coldplay song, but it's Radiohead. "There There." Typical of my memory.

Oh, well...with age comes experience and the forgetfulness you need to not remember how you got that experience.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

At the airport...and already my flight's late...

Good ol' Southwest; lately they've been the champions of late flights, and they're proving it with me. I'm still good to make my connection in Las Vegas, and if that one's not late, I'm slated to arrive at 9:45 pm. By the time I get my car and to the hotel, it'll be close to 2am my time. And I'm slated to start work tomorrow morning at 7am (10 am my time, thankfully).

Maybe I should stay on NY time...meaning 9am for lunch and 3pm for dinner. Yeah, that's gonna happen. I'm too self-indulgently in the moment.

I brought the printout of OT with me to make notes on, but I doubt I'll get much writing done. Not that I mind. Right now handling my blog and journal will be enough, after the fun I had getting this draft completed before I left.

I know it doesn't quite hold together, yet; too many aspects going on and I'm still not happy with how the reveal is working. But...there are parts I''m very happy with, actually proud. And the relationship between Jake and Tone does expand through the book. I think my characters are even more individual; I just need to keep them from speaking the same way. I've already worked on that and it's getting better,  but improvement wouldn't hurt.

Hell, improvement never hurts...unless you're working on your tummy and strain your back...

Friday, August 15, 2014

Another rewrite down...

...And only 47 more to go. Jeeps. I printed it up and my book is now 5.5 lbs of anything but light reading (punning here; I hope it's not too heavy a read...pun intended, again). 515 pages. I'd break my back just carting it around. But now I can get back to wondering what the hell I'm doing here instead of just trying to finish something I've lost control of.

Tomorrow I head for LA...and today I got my schedule...and I'm in use every day except the 30th and 31st. Labor Day Saturday and Sunday. This is going to be interesting. Good thing is, I've got my evenings free to either meet with friends for dinner or just collapse in a heap. I'll need a vacation from my vacation.

Fortunately, I don't leave for the airport till 2:30 -- I'm cabbing it -- so I can pack in the morning. At least I got my laundry done. Hmm...I may need do jaunt down to my sister's just to use the washing machine. Like a college kid. Well, an uncle of mine always said I'd never be anything more than a student.

And I'm damn proud that he was right, because that's what helps my writing.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Not a polish...it's a rewrite...

As I input all the changes I've made to OT, I'm finally having to say this is really a second draft. The first draft was rough but there enough to matter. I was thinking all I'd do is smooth it up to make it into something presentable, but it's been shifted a lot and rearranging is still ongoing. As are cutting and occasional pasting...so it's all new, now. And I need to do another one to make sure all my bases are covered.

At least Jake's voice is clearer in this draft. In fact, each character is beginning to alter his or her speech patterns, a bit, to make them distinctive from each other. Some have pulled back from the foul language Jake uses. Antony, I had no problem with because he's a continuation of his character in "Rape in Holding Cell 6". Matt's become too one-note, so he needs more attention. Everyone else is new, so their verbal revelations are still coming together.

I've got 70 pages left to input. I'm trying to build the story so it's not necessary to read the first book, but I don't know how successful I've been. I may only be confusing the issue. Still, this ain't gonna be no Agatha Christie mystery, with cardboard characters and as shallow as of a puddle of water. I got a friggin' Great Lake going here.

Guess that comes from being in proximity to 2 of them.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Lauren Bacall hits it out of the park


Hard to believe she's only 19 in this. I've seen 35 year old actresses with dozens of films under their belts unable to get even a tenth as much gravity and focus.

Guess it really does depend on who's in the saddle...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Inputting, again...

Time to polish up my first draft of ...Owen Taylor and print it up so I can take it with me to LA on Saturday. All 500+ pages. Or thereabouts. To do another red pen, if I have the time. I've input the first two chapters and already dropped 3 pages. That may not last, however. When I redid the last 20 pages, I added in more of a summation about what happened to people.

It was a fun little war, getting to this point. Jake and I are both well-bloodied. He's still fighting my tendency to soften the entry into moments or comments; he wants it straight and clean and sharp as a knife. And he's winning, as he should, since he's telling the story.

But he's had to give me something, in exchange. He can't just sit down and say he wasn't thinking about anything, he was so wrecked by what's happened. He's got to share his meaning on the page, not just in the shadows.

Right now, I think the final reveal is still too easy...and yet, confusing. And surprisingly amoral. I'm letting one character get away with murder. Literally. That's going to be interesting.

I just heard Lauren Bacall died. She wasn't a great actress but she had a sassiness to her that worked in the right project. Her showing she could be just as insolent and independent as Bogie in To Have and Have Not and The Big Sleep is reason enough to mourn her passing.

That's two, this week, and these things come in threes...

Monday, August 11, 2014

The last 20 pages...

I had so much red pen going on the last 20 pages of OT, I had no idea what was new or had been redone after having been redone. So I input what I had, last night, then printed it up and started going through it, again. Yeah...I was missing a couple of things...like how did one character know another character was gay when it's not obvious, he's straight and has no gaydar? Has to be addressed because it plays into the reveal.

Then I learned that Robin Williams died, and it jolted me out of OT. Apparently, he committed suicide after battling severe depression. I can see where that would have been a problem with him. When he was on, he went like a rocket headed straight for to the moon. Coming back to Earth must have been a vicious fall.

I met him, when I worked at Heritage Book Shop. I gift-wrapped a book for him, and he loved the bow I'd done, so I showed him the ribbons we used -- rich colored silks and satins with light wires threaded into them for shaping. He talked about how material was the most important thing, whether it be ribbons or comedy.

I heard a story about him that only proved to me just how giving he was. Stephen Spielberg was in Poland shooting Schindler's List and the hideous nature of the film finally got to him. So he called Robin in the middle of the night and asked if he'd just make him laugh, for a bit, so he could deal with it. Robin kept him in stitches for an hour.

Over the years I've heard of many fine actors dying from one cause or another, but this is the first one to hurt.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Non, je ne regrette rien...

Peut-être...cela dépend de Jake et Tone...et mademoiselle Edith Piaf...