Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Hollywood Stories, cont'd...

For years...hell, decades...I thought the overriding idea behind financing a project in Hollywood was that it would make money. Art didn't count. Meaning didn't count. Quality didn't count. What mattered was how many bucks could be brought in, be it in theaters, DVDs, VODs, whatever. Ego played a part in it, sure; ego's always a shading of the deal in Hollywood. But just a layer, not the whole damned onion.

Well...that ain't necessarily so (to steal from Gershwin's Porgy & Bess). Sometimes ego is all there is. Sometimes that's why you wind up with a project aimed at making dollars the old-fashioned way -- guns and tits & ass -- but because some of the people involved got so caught up in their grandiose self-certainty, they didn't bother to note that others would not want to do things for them if they did not get paid. "Adding to the resume" don't hack it when your rent's due.

That's why some projects get going but wind up in a crash and burn -- they run out of money not so much because of cost overruns (tho' that does happen), but because not all of the promised funds were made available. And because the powers that be were just absolutely certain once things got going, there'd be no problem.

Now, mix into this your everyday scam artist out to use people's blindness and desperation to feed his own rampant ego that seems to think he's worth any money he steals from you, and if you're dumb enough to let him steal it, it's your own damn fault...and you wind up just like a closed casino in Atlantic City -- a big, bright, empty cash drain that does no one any good.

Ah, Hollywood...where even if you're smarter than the average bear, there's still one smarter out there who will take away your honey.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Write it down or else!

I had a great idea for Jake's situation in OT, while working, and stupidly did not write it down. I figured it was so good, I'd remember it. DUMB! I've been wracking my brain for a couple hours trying to niggle that twitch out of hiding in my synapses...and it ain't makin' itself known a bit. It's like a cat -- when you want to find it, you can't; then when you don't want it around, it's in your face.

Don't get me wrong, I love cats. I'd have one if they weren't such selfish little shits. I'm the only selfish being allowing in any relationship, right I'd be better off with a dog. But dogs need yards and I've got an apartment, so that's not gonna be fair to the critter.

It's better if I not have an animal, anyway. My family has lousy luck with them. They either run off, die, or have to be given away. My last cat did the first one, when I changed apartments in Houston. Oh, he'd show up for food, every night, but wouldn't let me touch him. He wasn't crazy about the new place.

When I was leaving for LA, I looked for him to take him back to our original apt. A neighbor'd said he'd take care of him. Couldn't find him. Then the little shit showed up as I was packing my car and yeowled at me. Never let me close to him, just kept meowing. Then he left...and I felt like scum of the earth for leaving him.

Jewish mothers and Irish Catholic grandmothers could learn a thing or two about guilt trips from pissed-off cats.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Lack of blogging

The last few days have been long and tiring, and when I"m done all I want to do is sit in a tub for the rest of my life and think of nothing. I'm currently reading an okay mystery -- The Dark Vineyard by Martin Walker. It's an incomplete followup to another mystery I read by the same author; same characters but not as thought-through as the first. What's good about it is I can put it down and go to sleep. I couldn't with the first one. What's bad about it is how there seems to be no emotional connection to the deaths that happen, even though everyone in the town knew both men. And one guy's dog is missing but no one's really looking for it. Feels lazy and uncaring.

But another good thing about reading this mystery -- it's making me acutely aware of how meandering can become boring. I'll need to watch that with Owen Taylor. I'm still making notes in my monster binder, and I finally agreed with Jake's wanting to change the bad guy. It simplifies things and still draws in aspects of the story I want. Which is a whole new version...rewrite...whatever...

And Carli's beginning to win about making CK a screenplay. I was talking with some friends about it, Sunday evening, and as I explained the story, it did work better as a movie. Shit. This will be my 33rd screenplay. Talk about going nowhere fast...

Something that surprised me is there are people who are afraid to read my writing, even my more mainstream work like The Lyons' Den. There's less sex in that than in a book by Danielle Steele (who was never in the same sex-please-and-often camp as the likes of Jackie Collins and Judith Krantz). I wasn't able to find out why, but it was a visceral they thought all my writing is as raw and brutal as How To Rape A Straight Guy. And this is from someone who loves horror.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. On a shoot I did some years ago, this kid from Tennessee (who'd recently graduated from Film school) was helping out and during lunch we talked about favorite films. He hated The Bridges of Madison County "because it glorified adultery" (which was nonsense), and when I mentioned my favorite was The 400 Blows, the first thing out of his mouth was, "Please tell me that ain't porn." I nearly hit him, but restrained myself enough to say, "It's a classic French film." His response? "You like French movies? I didn't know anybody did."

I didn't speak to the little prick the rest of the shoot...not that he could be bothered to notice.

Sunday, August 24, 2014


Oh my god...
I would LOVE to use this photo for the cover of Carli's Kills...if I make it as a book. Carli's still pushing to be a film script. But Michael Stokes' image of Alex Minsky (and some woman...) is SO indicative of Carli's relationship with Zeke, it's crazy.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Dealing... can make all the plans you want, but until they actually happen, nothing is guaranteed. I'm currently sitting in a Starbuck's using a gift card that was so kindly sent to me (by Michael) to have a nice cup of tea and banana nut bread, to settle down. I'm also using their most excellent WiFi. I have another gift card to use for tomorrow, too, sent by my buddy, Brad.

I used to do this a lot when I lived in Texas, because my mother didn't have an internet connection and I didn't have the money to start one up. A shopping mall within walking distance had free wifi, too, and I could use that for an hour. I also did Starbuck's for a month in Buffalo while waiting to get Fios set up. I like their teas (they turned me onto Tazo's Refresh Mint) and cookies, and having money again made me a lot happier.

It's amazing how dependent you become on a decent internet connection, so that when you hit a place that doesn't have decent service, it drives you up the wall. Especially when you can't even get into some of the sites you need. For example, my Caladex e-mail is through a service that kicks you off if you don't use it for more than 30 seconds. And last night I had to try three times to upload a post on my own blog.

I'm here to look into using what points I have at a couple of hotel chains and with a rental car company to get away from a deteriorating situation where I'm staying. I'd like things to be better, but it's hard to do when no one will listen to you. And when you're surrounded by smokers.

Okay, I'm veering into complaint territory, and I do not want that, either. I spent too damn much time on my blog in the past whining about everything wrong in my life and that is pointless. I am where I am in this world, and I either change it or accept it and work around the issues.

As I'm doing now.

Psycho Kyle, Qu'est-ce que c'est?

Well...looks like it's closing in on padded room time. I got caught talking to one of my characters, today, by someone who doesn't know or understand me. I probably spooked him, but it's his own damn fault for not making his presence known...the little sneak.

I was working something out with Jake when it happened. He's suggesting I change the identity of the killer, again, and I don't really like it. But another red pen note went into my copy of the book for consideration. If I lose this thing, there will be serious mayhem in my brain.

I can understand his point; doing this simplifies the revelation and aftermath. I think it's too obvious, but I'll give it time to digest. That usually works best with me.

Didn't help that today was spent at a private residence in Palos Verdes Estates with a view to kill for. Of course, it's the perfect location for a restaurant that charges more for a meal than I'd spend on food in a week.

It's while I was seated on this patio, thinking, that I got snuck up on and outed as the next great schizophrenic. I laughed it off by saying, "You should hear what the other voices in my head say." But I don't think it worked. I am now officially a psycho.

Not that I care; it's the Daniel in me...hee, hee...

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...