Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Monday, July 21, 2014

Tonic didn't take...

I'm sick of everything, right now. Hate it all. I did at least manage to input changes for the first scene of CK...and proceeded to decide it's a piece of crap.

I'm still trying to figure out what the hell happened, yesterday, to trigger this anger and hurt. Nothing comes to mind.

I guess I'm just schizophrenic.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

"Ikiru (To Live)"

In 1952, Akira Kurosawa made a movie about a civil servant who contracts stomach cancer and has 6 months to live. The initial shock sends him into depression and self-recrimination as he realizes he's spent 30 years at a job that was so mind-numbing, he can't think of a thing he's achieved. So he sets out to build a park for some locals, but is faced with Japan's wall of bureaucracy that wants never to take responsibility for anything.

It's a long movie and a bit redundant, but to a purpose, and the last half is told in flashbacks by the hypocrites who mourn at his funeral (BIG Hollywood no-no)...but the ending is beautifully devastating in its tenderness and acceptance. I watched a documentary after the movie -- A Message From Akira Kurosawa, For Beautiful movies -- in Japanese, that takes you through all the steps he thinks important as regards making a movie. This should be standard viewing in all film schools.

I'd seen Ikiru years ago, I think while I was still in college, so I didn't remember a lot about the story. It cut deep. Kurosawa was cursed by the Academy's preference for giving actors turned directors Oscars instead of true cinematic visionaries. The fact that Sydney Pollack got Best Director for Out of Africa instead of Kurosawa for Ran scarred them, in my opinion.

They finally gave him an honorary one in 1990, and about damned time --
I wish the clip showed something of a cross-section of his work, but it's till worthwhile. And he went on to make even more movies, well into his 80s.

I needed this, today. I had a bad moment of futility crash in on me while filling in the storyboards I'd done for CK, and I needed something to chase it away. The beauty of Kurosawa's work always does work wonders on my psyche.

Now if I could just do something about my psychoses...

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Storyboarding changes stuff...

I have the first scene of Carli's Kills -- where Carli picks up Grady in the bar -- roughed out...and as I began thinking like a visual storyteller, aspects of the script changed. It was still a bit bland on the page, but hyping their little pool game into a scene of sexual foreplay made it a lot more fun. Changed the dialogue, too. So now there are 40 setups for 2.5 pages (which is a lot) but many are cutaways to balls getting hit and clicking into pockets.

What's funny is, it also set up a scene, later in the script, where Carli thinks she's got control but suddenly doesn't. Which does a better setup for when she meets Zeke the next time...and on and on. I once thought, facetiously, about storyboarding all my scripts just to get an idea of how they worked...and now I'm thinking that might have actually helped me see how to better translate the action to the page.

Too bad it took me this long to accept that.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Mankind is stupid

I'm rather preoccupied with the Malaysian jet that was shot down by what appears to be pro-Russian rebels in the Ukraine, using Russian anti-aircraft missiles. 298 people killed by idiots who thought they were shooting at a military jet, and who are now scrambling to blame everyone but themselves for the disaster. Their leader has gone so far as to say it was all a set-up, with dead bodies put on the plane, that was then blown up, all to discredit their revolution. Even Vladimir Putin is blaming the Ukraine for fighting to keep herself together instead of letting the pro-Russian side just walk away.

For some reason, this reminds me of the sinking of the Lusitania, in 1915. She was a British luxury liner traveling between NY and Liverpool when a German U-boat torpedoed her off the southern coast of Ireland. She sank in 18 minutes and 1,198 people died, including 128 Americans.

In the aftermath, the German government made all sorts of excuses as to why it was okay to sink a ship carrying nearly 2,000 civilians -- including that the ship was carrying munitions (which was later revealed to be true, despite American and British denials). They also pointed out that Germany and England were at war, and they had even put an ad in a news paper warning people against traveling on a British ship.

Still, the slaughter of nearly 1,200 non-combatants turned the tide against Germany, and 2 years later the US declared war. A year after that, Germany was in ruins. Did Germany learn a lesson? Nope. Twenty years later, Germany was headed straight for disaster, again, and 7 years after that, the country lay in ruins, once more.

The combined total of dead from those two world wars is thought to be close to 100 million.

So now what do we have? A jetliner from a country that has nothing to do with the situation in the Ukraine carrying mainly European citizens is shot down by idiots, to whom Russia had handed weapons they had no idea how to handle. Putin shot himself in the foot, doing that. Some people think he'll be gone within a year, thanks to this. I doubt it, but you never know.

However, I could see this being the spark that brings on another world war. Nobody cares about Moslems killing each other in Syria and Egypt and Iraq and Libya and Lebanon, not really. They barely cared about the Muslims being slaughtered in Bosnia and various other Baltic countries, 20 years ago. Nor do they honestly care about the fight between Israel and the Palestinians. It's just something to excuse their usual Jew-bashing.

But you kill hundreds of Europeans en route to holidays or an AIDS conference? Well, that's different. Now the politicians will HAVE to do something about Russian meddling in The Ukraine...and that won't be pretty. More economic sanctions will hurt Putin's base even more, despite his approval ratings being sky-high in Russia. Who knows -- maybe he'll get as dumb as the rebels, nuke someplace to remind people of just how powerful Russia still is, and set off Armageddon.

So, the end of the world could begin in the Crimea -- what a ludicrous story.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


I'm doing boards for Carli's Kills, nicer and more precise. Got 5 frames for 3 set-ups done...and I'm back to thinking I should keep the opening, with Anastasia hurling to her death. It cuts so nicely into Carli doing a break on the pool table. And using Derwent pencils makes me feel real, again.

I like working in soft graphite. It's easy to change and has a nice feel to it. My next favorite style is colored pencil. That's what I did these in...each frame taking a couple of hours. I've sometimes thought about doing a graphic novel of one of my scripts, using this style...and may, yet...but it'll take years to complete.

I'm still pissed that Marvel is turning Thor into a woman. It's one thing to be PC; it's quite another to rewrite facts and history to suit yourself. I despise people who do that, be it on the left or the right.

Two prime examples -- Republicans saying Democrats are the party of racism because most Southerners were Democrats. That ignores the fact that when the Democratic party said it would no longer tolerate racism and pushed through the Civil Rights Act in 1965, all those Democrats became Republicans...and now many are Tea Partiers out to control the GOP and crush anything that benefits minorities, making them the party of racism, not Democrats.

On the left, it's the ludicrous casting of Audra MacDonald as the Mother Superior in the remake of The Sound of Music. The play is set in Austria in 1938. Miss MacDonald is amazingly gifted in so many ways, but the very idea of a black Mother Superior in that time is so insane, it kills the story. It's rewriting history to suit today's mores.

And that is all I have to say on the subject...until my next rant.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

It's on...

I got the news, today -- I'll be in Los Angeles, starting on August 18th. I've got my ticket to fly in on the 16th, and I'll be staying by LAX. Gonna be there 3 weeks on someone else's dime. Woohoo!

Makes up for Page Awards flipping me off on both Return to Darian's Point and 5 Dates. Both are damn good scripts and hit all the points needed for a story, but I didn't even make the first cut. I think it has to do with their "feedback service." If you go through that and write the scripts the way they want you to, and it turns out half-assed decent, you make the Quarterfinals. Otherwise, you have to be amazingly good to get into that group. Blood Angel made it on its own, a few years back...which is meaning more and more to me, now.

I still have half a dozen others to hear from, two of which are just now ending their final extended last chance to enter deadlines that might be extended, again. It'll be interesting to see what happens with them. I like the idea of script competitions, and if RDP, 5D or A65 get anywhere in another one (to join with my Indie Gathering win, which won't be official until August 17th when the awards are handed out) I'll start crowing loud about it to agents and managers.

But reality is, they are very hit and miss. I used to enter the Nicholl every year, thinking my latest best script would win me a fellowship. Obviously, that didn't happen. I finally went to their library and read some of the winning scripts and had a massive WTF moment. Trite dialogue. Surface storylines. Cliched characters. Barely following screenplay format. Someone (I don't remember who, maybe in my writing workshop) told me they have a certain agenda that shifts from year to year, depending on who's coordinating the competition. If you happen to hit it right, you get it.

Same for Sundance Screenplay Workshops. I applied there several times, then learned all but 2 of the slots were quietly handed out to writers or directors already known to the coordinators, so thousands of people are vying for 2 openings while thinking they're trying out for 5 times more. Granted, the odds aren't all that much better, so you're still trying for something next to impossible...but the whole facade of them being for developing new writers and pretending they're doing so much more than they are irritates me. That said, I'm also one of those blind fools who think, "This time it will be different," and who is proof, positive, that such thoughts are a form of insanity.

Color my ass crazy.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Thor is a woman, now?

Seriously? What idiot thought this up? It's spitting on Norse Mythology and History.

It's madness...madness...

Monday, July 14, 2014

Chaos is okay...for a while...

I'm looking around at my apartment and wondering how the hell it got into such a mess...only I know why. When I write...or try to...I lose focus on simple things like vacuuming and dusting and sorting out paperwork and making sense of my disorder. And then I get to where I need time from the project I'm working on and realize I'm surrounded by chaos. Books on their sides. Dust everywhere. Crap lying all over. You'd think I came down off a three-week drunk.

This came about because I need some space from CK to get my head straight about the story, again. I'm still having ideas on how to make it work better, but I started writing them into the hard copy and found myself hating what I'd written. Meaning I'm too close. Better to let it sit.

Didn't help that today we had new computers installed at work with Windows 8. I now officially cannot find ANYthing. Supposedly all the files I worked on last week are there. Somewhere. But I'm gonna need a map. Of course, we're handling a small bookfair in Melbourne and today's the day of picking up the clients and shipping them out, and I had no access to the server or files, or even e-mail, except on my phone. That's not easy to deal with. I did a lot of typing and faxing.

I think I'll let CK sit till Saturday. I don't know.

Screw it, let's have more of Darcy Oake.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Talk about short, if not so sweet...

Okay, kicking Stasi out of Carli's Kills, except for two scenes, made it easier to finish this draft...but shortened it. After all the adding and cutting and dumping and including, the script wound up being 80 pages long. Normal rule of thumb -- one page equals one minute...but if I work it out right in my timing, considering I'm only a quarter as detailed as I normally am in the action bits, the project should wind up at about 90 minutes.

I do have a couple of moments later in the story that will need to be set up in the first part, and I think I want a bit more of Zeke's background. But then, other aspects of the script don't quite hang together, yet, so the next pass will be to clarify and streamline the story, making sure I have everything I need for it to be properly told.

I get the feeling part of the problem is that the one-word theme of the story is shifting...but I'm not sure to what. Francis Ford Coppola once said, "When you make a movie, always try to discover what the theme of the movie is in one or two words. Every time I made a film, I always knew what I thought the theme was, the core, in one word. In The Godfather, it was succession. In The Conversation, it was privacy. In Apocalypse Now, it was morality." Of course, Coppola also said a script should be like Haiku, which is the exact opposite of Tolstoy, so maybe I'll take this as just his opinion.

Still...I was thinking CK was all about redemption, but it's not happy with that. It seems to be more about guilt, which combines with the idea of punishment. Which is rather moralistic. I sort of know why...but is that workable? I'll have to let that stew in my brain for a while before I dig deeper into it.

Lately, when I think of Zeke -- whose name has become Robert Ezekiel Lindstrom, for some reason -- I'm picturing this guy: Darcy Oake. He's a Canadian magician who did some very cool stuff on "Britain's Got Talent" and made it to the finals. Dunno if he can act, but he's got good camera presence. Of course, he'd have to fake missing a leg, but that's easily doable for a magician.

And just to be clear, I'm posting this image of his hot little self just so no one will think I'm really as deep as I think I am.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

La Guerre Est Finie...

Anastasia overplayed her hand. She forgot -- I'm the writer, dammit, so I get to decide. Play nice or else. She got the "or else;" she's cut down to one scene...and she doesn't even get to tell it. I added a character who was there, that night, and it worked out one hell of a lot better.

Which, in truth, is probably what I was really aiming for (says 20/20 hindsight). I wasn't just missing the obligatory scene; I was missing a way of fitting it into the story. And by sketching out part of the first scene, I began to sense it shouldn't begin there. So now the script starts with Carli and Grady.

The obligatory scene still doesn't fit perfectly, but it's in and done, and now I can finish polishing up the last 20 pages of the script. I may shift the scene around some, in the next rewrite, just to see if it works better later or earlier in the story...and I may put Stasi's death scene back in...but I'm not having to worry about that, now. I smashed this friggin' wall to bits, and proved I'M THE MAN! Well...the writer. Man. Person.

Looks like I'll have a solid first draft of Carli's Kills done, tomorrow. The one I'm currently working on was too rough to be considered anything more than an extended outline of the story. So I'll only need another 5 or 6 rewrites to make it readable.

And it's still doable for under $500K. The story's pretty much centered around the Cantina Madriza and surrounding desert. Carli's home. An apartment that, with a green screen backdrop, could double for a highrise in downtown Phoenix. One bomb going off and a building burning down. Cheap, up one side and down the other.

Well...that's what I was aiming for.