Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Not Writing! But Not Loafing.

I'm working too hard on someone else's short film. My tired waking hours are spent recovering from long work week followed by long work weekends. I don't feel bad about not writing...

I am thinking about writing three pivotal scenes to get my juices flowing.

I am thinking alot about some other things that I want to write but am fighting the urge to drop the current story and move to the newer, shinier things.

Although I am too entrenched in someone else’s short film, it is a good kick in the who-ha because it reminds me there’s no reason I can’t make my own film, short or otherwise.

Well, no other reason but myself.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

A regular cartographer

I spent some more time yesterday on outlines. I’m so freaking glad I did this. The story changes so much before you put it down on paper. It grows and gets better (I hope). Once you start to write a scene with dialog and descriptions it’s very painful to throw that out because it doesn’t serve the plot… and usually it detracts from the plot. My first screenplay had almost no outline. But it was a real talkie and I let my characters basically do or say what they wanted. It turned out fine, but it has played in nary a mega-plex and oh, yeah, it hasn’t sold or been made yet. I’ll try the measured approach this time.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Map Making

I outlined some more today. I need to see where I’m going so I can eventually worry about just what I’m working on in each individual scene.

Ideas are flowing, new scenes and character development comes to me as my mind wanders around the story. I now know what happened to mom because there were dishes to wash.

Still no names.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Back in the Saddle.

You shouldn’t let other people get your kicks for you.
-Bob Dylan

After the Red Sox lost in 2003, I swore that I would live by this Bob Dylan line. I’m going to make my own entertainment, control my own destiny and live my own life. I wasn’t going to waste my time and live the roller coaster of living life from afar. I’m too young to live vicariously through others. I might have my timeline off, but I seem to remember that is when I really got crackin’ on my first screenplay. I sat in the cold and drafty front room of my house and wrote. I can’t remember the details but in less than a year I had a screenplay. It helped that work was slow and I had much less responsibility at that point.

Two years later we have a world championship, a finished screenplay and unfortunately a false start or two on the second screenplay.

So now the season is abruptly over. I’m not too heartbroken. New York is also out of it and winning last year has taken the sting out of the loss. It’s time to start getting my kicks on my own again. I’m excited about writing.

I’ve been setting the end of the baseball season as a deadline for myself. After a few days of writing I have a very rough (and minimalist) outline and just under two pages. There are some very important pieces missing. The first thing I’m going to work on from here is character names.

Also, I’ve been researching. I wanted to write about a serial killer. After reading up, I had to rethink the relationships between the characters because my vision of these murders was a very two-dimensional.

One thing I also have to think about is, am I going to make this film? Today the answer is yes. I really don’t want to be a screenwriter, I want to be a director. The script is a tool to get me behind the camera. I will, however write the screenplay as if I was going to sell it. I want it to be polished and I want people to be able to see it because obviously actors and possibly investors will want to see it.

The cart is officially before the horse.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

To Do:

Horror project fell by the wayside.

Spent a week working (gaffing) on a promising short.

Am in full ‘thinking about all the time’ mode for next feature script.

Will start to outline/write very soon.

Will update blog accordingly.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Waiting & Planning

Haven’t heard from Scott.

Started doing research on a serial killer type thing I’m thinking about. Trying to figure out how to pull off a believable bad guy in a situation I’ve been toying with for awhile.

My elevator pitch?

“Misery in reverse.”

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Waiting for rejection...

Haven't heard anything from Scott about the script, hopefully he's busy and not avoiding me. I'm used to being reject by a much higher caliber of people. I'll wait.

Sunday, July 24, 2005


I finished a draft of the short horror film and sent it off to my collaborator. It was weird writing something that I know will be altered and isn't for general consumption. I felt I could get away with writing the dramatic chase at the end as:

"Hiding and being chased in the woods. SCARY."

... instead of describing what each shot or action would be. As long as I can get the gist and plot down, we can tweak all that later. Also, I know that anything I write will be changed when we get to the location to shoot.

I have one major concern about the story. Actually I have many concerns but I am a paranoid worrier and will concern myself at this writing with one. I am nervous about what happens when we see the scary thing in the woods for the first time. Echoes of test audiences laughing at a mechanical Jaws inspire me to show less. Obscuring equals more complex blocking equals more work during a night shoot where no one gets paid and there will be child actors.

Did I mention there’s a cat?

Friday, July 22, 2005

Changing Lanes

So now I’m writing a different story that Scott, the other creative involved in the short horror film project, came up with. He actually came up with the kernel and I’ve run with it, then I showed him some stuff and he modified it. This weekend I will write the whole thing… or at least a draft of it.

I abandoned (for now) my old idea because Scott’s is so much easier to shoot. Probably one location, possibly 4 cast members, hopefully to be shot in one weekend.

Wish me luck on sitting in my home office in the hottest room in the house and actually writing something good.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Lots of Travel...

... lots of excuses.

I've been on vacation and traveling for work like a bat out of money. I just sat down and wrote the beginning of an outline for the short horror film. I'm nervous about it being ____ enough. Why the blank space? I don't know exactly what makes a great movie different from a merely good movie. Once I figure out what ____ is I'll be all set.

More travel tomorrow. Progress is a slow, dry heat.

More when I'm back from Vegas.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Short Horror

So now I’m back to writing about writing.

I was stuck on a few airplanes this week and started to write down the skeleton of a short film that I hope I can get made in time for the Salem Horror Film Fest. The deadline is sometime in September for showings in October during Salem, Mass’ huge celebration of all things scary. Coincidentally I got married in October in Salem.

Just a coincidence.

The story is a mash up of a couple of some made up things and stuff that happened to me and people I know. Right now I’m debating on whether I should go the supernatural route or a story more based in reality. There seems to be no requirement other than scariness for this film fest. I think the real world is much scarier than ghouls and goblins, but in the spirit of the competition I may include something a little mysterious, if not paranormal.

On the plane I scribbled on a printed page that had some earlier ideas on it. I filled the paper with words, which was satisfying. I started to write in short story form, in the first person. This will obviously have to change, but I wanted to get the feeling of the perspective of the protagonist down on paper. This may end up as narration in the film, or maybe not. I love films that tell as little as possible and make you watch. Although getting the back story in that will make you care about our hero and his plight by purely visual means will take some time and might kill the ‘short’ of the short film.

In case you were wondering:

Logline: A kid has a bad experience in a cemetery.

The next step is to get it off the paper and into the computer. Followed by more writing, then somehow forcing it into a film structure.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Saturday, June 04, 2005

The Awful Blogger

I need to get back to posting often. Which also means I need to get back to writing often. Slight problem, I’m tired of “Something Awfu”l and I’m excited about “Untitled Thriller”. Well, let me finish talking about the 48 Hour Film Project and then I’m of the races. Races = Staring past a silent keyboard at a blank screen.

Fixing the wrong line
The competition

So we had the wrong line. It should have been a deal breaker, but it ended up being no problem. I get to my editor's house Sunday morning and he doesn’t know we have the wrong line. I break the bad news. He sighs. Immediately we have plan. The once scary fact that he had to leave me for 2 hours to go to a friend’s christening now becomes a blessing and an improptu ADR session. Luckily the only time the line is spoken is by an unseen audience. He takes his mini DV camera to the party and records the unsuspecting family and friends saying the right line. A quick call to my animator and songwriter in Maine fixes the animation and song for the opening. I’m now glad that he put his work off until the last minte. Phew.

So I learned in the editing process, using an experienced editor, what an art and a science it is. He fixed so many ‘problems’ it made me ashamed to think I could just up and edit. Also, he was more than a fixer, he was an enhancer. He knew where we lingered too long. He knew that a particular shot was a great idea, but didn’t fit when the pieces were all assembled. One thing he said early was that we wouldn’t have enough time to edit, even if it were a 72 hour film festival, but we’ll do it anyway. I am a lucky bastard.

The film was finished and we turned it in. Of course there are more details but I really need to start working on a new project. I will say that some, if not most, of the other movies were great and fun to watch. You saw so many levels of experience and technical skill. It was very rare to see people who didn’t have great ideas. Some films were too long. Some of the exection wasn’t clear enough. But all of them were inventive and original. Experience and an extra few hours would have helped. There’s probably some life lesson there that can be applied to everyone. I’ll look into it.

And oh, yeah, we didn’t win.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Almost Done

So here’s what I’m going to talk about in this second to last post about my experiences in the 48 Hour Film Project:

Working with actors
Somebody else shooting

So this wasn’t the first time I had worked with actors. At my day job, there is always someone on the other side of the camera, but I rarely tell them more than where to stand to get the best light. Now I had to tell them stuff like, you’re supposed to be nervous, but not scared. The intimidating part about that is that I had to know why he was supposed to be nervous but not scared. I wrote the guy, I made him up out of thin air (thin air + brainstorming with story folks). It was a thrilling experience not only because I did know why my actor had to act like that, but also because they listened to me. It proves one of my life theories that many people who are successful have more balls than talent. If you can convince people that you know what you are doing, it’s almost as good, and probably more necessary, than actually knowing what you are doing. Example; I’m pretty sure that last sentence was grammatically wrong and at the very least poor English... but I wrote it, you read it and my point is that it’s out there and like my movie I didn’t let a thing like making sure it was right get in the way. (I did it again.)

I had planned to shoot my own film. Luckily a director I worked with got very excited about the prospect of working on something different and volunteered to do anything on the film. I gave him the camera. He is a brilliant director who used to be a brilliant shooter. Well, he still is a brilliant shooter. His ability to light, shoot and select some shots allowed me to be a director. It was a strange sensation to have someone else set up for me. But if I didn’t have someone so focused behind the camera I wouldn’t have the film I have now. An experienced person suggesting shots and set ups is invaluable. As a director he also knew what shots would cut together and which would not. I tried to be in every decision about shot selection and the look of the film, but that proved impossible. My favorite shot in the film actually was conceived, executed and ‘printed’ while I was talking props on the other side of the studio. It was bittersweet to think I had nothing to do with it, but it is a great shot and I can only say I’m jealous for not coming up with it.

More later about:

Fixing the wrong line
The competition

Sunday, May 29, 2005

I promise

I will post copiusly very soon.

So Sorry

I dropped the ball and haven't been updating. I was out of town for work for a week and then on vacation for a week. At least I was in LA. Although no one offered me any work...

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

I made these 'lobby cards' for the movie... instead of writing, of course. Lobby cards from the 40's and 50's are my favorite kind of movie promotion, especially for bad movies. These are very modern. I might try to make some older looking ones soon.

Places everyone...

... this string of pearls.

Behind the scenes... not really.

The two Jays.

The time machine!!!

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Another angle, there's always another angle.

The view from way back.

The ever important 'sitting in'.

A wide establish shot of a tight shot.

We all didn't move this fast.

I'm Getting There...

When I got on the set I realized, with the help of some very astute teammates, that the script was long… damn long. If you subscribe to the ‘one page, one minute’ theory, I had a thirteen minute script for a movie that at maximum could be 7 minutes. The people in charge of the project stressed that shorter is better and by no measure was the script I wrote short. This led to a meeting of knowledgeable teammates that eventually inspired wholesale cuts in the script. Funny little aside jokes were cut. Redundant explanations were removed. Ideas that I wanted to add as we filmed were discouraged. This was painful. Unfortunately we only whittled the script down by a few pages and it was still a long movie when it went before the camera. More pain would follow in editing.

As the noon call time arrived, everyone I invited (or asked, or begged) to show up, did. It was thrilling to see people gathering around to create something. It was some time, possibly two hours, before we rolled on our first take. The energy was still there when we finally got a good take (after about 3) in the can, and surprisingly it was still there about 10 hours later.

One thing I learned about not being the sole producer while trying to direct: I found myself answering my cell phone while I was trying to make creative decisions. As the only real contact person, I handled just about every question about just about everything. Not a good plan. Next year someone else will know the answers and will be holding my cell phone.

The closest thing I had to another producer was my darling wife. She not only allowed me to use our family savings account to pay for the film, she also assisted at every turn when asked or when not asked. She seemed to enjoy herself and we’re still married, which is impressive by Hollywood standards.

I’ve decided shorter posts might help me post more, so more on this subject later… maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

The helmet, uh, in action?

The Wrong Line and How It Shaped Our Movie

So I hinted in the last post that we had the wrong line of dialog. It’s all my fault. In my crazed state of first time producer, director and all around smart guy, I couldn’t find the sheet that had the line of dialog. If that line was even a little off the film would not be eligible for the competition. A dozen people were starting to file into my house and I needed that damn, I mean darn, piece of paper.

Long story short, I called my co-worker’s team and asked for the line of dialog. Their producer said, “I’m not sure, I think it’s ‘I wasn’t always like this,’” or something like that. I can’t say for sure because, as I mentioned, I was crazed. It was not a malicious act to give us the wrong line, and in the long run it was good for us.

I doubt we would have gone with a time travel story if we had the line right. We decided that if you weren’t always like this, somehow you had to have gone back in time to make a change. With the collected brilliance in my living room, I’m sure we would have come up with something. But because we had the line wrong, we definitely were thinking about things other teams were not.

I woke up on time Saturday morning. Unfortunately, the lack of sleep made it very difficult to get out of bed. I’m not saying I slept in, but I planned to be at Boston Costume the second it opened at 9AM but ended up getting there sometime soon after 9. This would have been a symbol of the coming of a long, bad day, except of course, someone pulled out of the parking space directly in front of the store. One illegal U-turn and if I believed in fate, I would have agreed that it was on my side.

In my clouded mind’s eye I saw astronaut flight suits for my two 1950’s actors on the set of their ‘space-age’ mouthwash commercial. I knew Boston Costume was the place to go and it was. It was, that is if you wanted to drop $75 American on a 3-day rental for each suit. I had assumed a pricey rental cost so my back up plan was two $10 "Tyvek style" painter’s suits from Home Depot. Not to leave empty handed, they showed me the broken helmet for one of the space suits and offered to sell it to me for $20. It was a steal (and hardly broken). Later in the shoot day, friends Emily and Jen ‘futurized’ the Tyvek suits with colored electric tape, stencils and tin foil. The helmet topped off the ensemble and for under $50 bucks I had two original costumes that were better than I could have ever dreamed. (I have considered offering to sell them to Boston Costume.)

I also learned an important directing lesson here. I was no where near the costume design because I was on set trying to rally the troops and get something down on tape. I trusted the eye of two very talented people and was rewarded. I didn’t meddle or even have any instructions after I told my wife what to tell them. They ran with it and made amazing costumes. This is why I hate the term ‘independent film’. Collaboration is the key to making a film, of any length, scope or under any deadline. A huge team made a movie that one person could not have made.

More later…

Just trying to keep up... and scheming to take the credit.

The stars, in it from the beginning.

Yes, we are that bright.

As you can see beer fueled our creativity.

We put the 'storm' in brainstorm.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

So know I know what I wanna be when I grow up.

So here’s what happened last weekend. Sorry, I was out of town… and I mean OUT of town. I was in Clarksburg, WV and then West Palm Beach, FL for work.

I couldn’t update.

I couldn’t rest.

I couldn’t obsess and watch my new short film over and over again.
(I’ve done all three since.)

Last weekend’s ridiculous, rushed, concentrated madness was the most creatively exhilarating 48 (ish) hours of my life. The back-story is that I’ve made films in college, a couple of short silly things on my own. Recently, I’ve been slaving over a keyboard for the last year plus trying to write something worth producing and directing on my own. The biggest surprise in the process was that this time I wasn’t on my own. Plenty of excited volunteers influenced, assisted and saved me in every stage of the process.

I always knew I wanted to write and direct, but last weekend I actually did. The finished product came out well and I enjoyed the work and the responsibility. I told actors, ‘try this’. I asked the DP, ‘shoot it like this’. I made tough decisions when time was short. It was great. I’m addicted.

So here’s what happened.

I spent the week before gathering a crew, scouting costume shops and trying to think of kernels of ideas that would fit each of the genres that I could possibly get. I also made a ridiculous production schedule that should not have been at all helpful, but actually was. My Saturday plan was 9 to 12 noon, buy props and gather equipment. Noon to ??? get the crew together and shoot. This actually worked, even though we had no script or idea of what the short was going to be about. Unfortunately, the ‘???’ meant midnight.

Friday night at Boston Beer Works we got our genre, our character, our line and our prop. Genre = Sci Fi, Character = J. Withers, Former Child Actor, Prop = A String of Pearls, Line of Dialog = I’m not really like this.

I must admit I had an idea of what I wanted to do if I got Sci Fi. Actually I really just had a thematic idea of what I wanted. I’ve always loved retro ideas of what the future is going to be like. I kept that under wraps for the brainstorming meeting from 8pm to 11:30pm on Friday night. About 10 people came over and we threw around ideas about how we could use the required elements and make a story that uses those elements well. I wanted crazy ideas. Stuff I wouldn’t come up with. The hours flew by as our story took shape. Either through subliminal steering of the conversations or by pure chance, we ended up with a story that involved the retro element that I wanted from the beginning. My producer friend Jen took notes and then hammered out an outline that more than helped; it was the framework for the midnight to 3am writing process.

Exhausted and wired I went to bed at 3am. I think I fell asleep at about 4. The plan was to wake up at 8 and head out to buy props. 8am came quick.

And oh yeah, did I mention we had the wrong line of dialog.

To be continued…

Monday, April 11, 2005

The AfterMath

48 Hours and we have a short film. I'm stuck in West Virginia (no really) and will have limited opportunities to post. I will have a recap when I can sit down at a computer think. Now I'm just tired and far from home.

I enjoyed myself and will try to do it again.


Friday, April 08, 2005

12:48 AM

Only just over 40 hours to go. Writing the script, trying to stay awake. More later... probably much later.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

... But I'm not.

I probably should be stressing and getting loose ends tied up tonight. I will later, but right now I'm going to watch TV. I would have loved to have gotten more feedback from my email calling together the troops, but I have a core group and that and a good idea are enough for me.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

48 til 48

I just sent out a ‘who’s in’ email. Got some great immediate responses. I’m very excited. Two days of pre-pro left… have I forgotten anything? Yes, I’m sure I’ve forgotten tons. What can I do about it? Not much, unfortunately. So I’m not going to stress out about it.

I’m also leaning towards not going into the weekend with too many pre-planned ideas. The benefit of being a guy with that thinks too much is that I have a huge storeroom between my ears that is filled with discarded plans. There is hardly a genre of film that I, at some point, hadn’t had a ‘great’ concept for. Some of the ideas were left because they weren’t enough to fill the 90 plus minutes of a feature. Some were abandoned because something very similar to it appeared in theaters. Some sucked. Mostly they never came to fruition because I lacked the motivation.

I misplace, I forget, I get lost. What I do not do is stop thinking.

My brain in a nutshell.

I watched the DVD of last year’s winners. Some of those films were unbelievably good. Some were unbelievably epic. Some were unbelievably bad. It seems that the judges were interested in the best use of the format. Specifically, what can you do with this genre, this line of dialog, this prop and this amount of time? When you see the lesser films you think, man, the competition isn’t so fierce, but some of the great films demand respect.

I hope to hear from more people tonight. There isn’t much I can do now. Will try not to freak out. Will try to get some rest.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Got an Editor & Some Big Giant Brains

So things are coming together for my crazy weekend of creativity. I have quite a few people on my crew. I am also trying to grab another few people with limited experience but tons of energy and a love for filmmaking.

Thankfully, all of my concerns, my grave, grave concerns about the complicated world of postproduction were washed away last night by one wonderful phone call. I now have an editor with an Avid loaded laptop. He is going to meet us toward the end of the shoot and begin to digitize the stuff we’ve shot, on location. This is huge. Not only will we be ahead of the game for the planned Sunday editing, we will also be very mobile as opposed to tied to a bricks and mortar post house.

Getting an editor is very important, but even bigger is the fact that my editor also produced an indie feature in 2000. He dispensed sage advice. He was very cautious not to dissuade me or frighten me with the mess that I was getting myself into, but he did offer some great insight. It was energizing because he had a million ideas and suggestions that are only going to help. But more importantly he was excited about working on the project. I also got this energy from another guy who had been on board from the beginning (meaning last week), but a conversation today confirmed his desire to be a big part of the project. They were both genuinely interested in making this a quality production. That is more than I could have ever dreamed. I feel a great weight has been lighted off my shoulders. Now it only feels like a half ton of bricks.

I also talked to my animator. He agreed to create the 20 to 30 second opening credits and to write an original song. He uses Mac’s GarageBand program to great effect. He is another excited assistant who has made my life easier and will make my film better.

I can not stress this enough:

I have good friends. And by good I mean they are extremely talented and more importantly they want to help.

First time producer lesson of the day: when you want something, just ask. Don’t beat around the bush. Don’t worry about asking for too much. People who want to help, will help. People who don’t, won’t.

During the day I am nervous but probably not as scared as I should be, but last night I woke up no fewer than three times, completely freaked out about what I am getting myself into. Yipes!

Now if I can only get the Red Sox to win a game. I was worried that the World Championship would ruin the Sox and end the constant stress and aggravation that they have brought to my life, but two games in (two losses in) I realized that those bastards will always be here to ruin my life.

Thank god.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Look, I'm not making it up!

Another 48 Hours

More about the 48 Hour Film Project, which is basically all I am thinking about during free time and work time… don’t worry I’m not an air traffic controller and this week, actually, is pretty slow in the work department.

Just to get you up to speed:

Here’s a quick explanation from the website:

"The premise? Filmmaking teams have just one weekend
to make a short film. All creativity - writing,
shooting, editing and adding a musical soundtrack -
must occur in a 48 hour window beginning Friday
evening at 7 and ending Sunday at 7. The following
week, the completed films are screened to an eager

I am very excited. Why? Mostly because by this time next week I will have a completed a short film. Now, I know it’s going to be hell between now and then. Without this crazy contest, I would probably be watching baseball and drinking beer this weekend. I have my whole life to do that. Hopefully this exciting challenge will spark the motivation to match my creativity and access to talent and equipment. This weekend is the ultimate excuse crusher.

I hope.

I am competing against 60+ teams. One team, that I was briefly a part of, is staffed with a real life producer, a real life director and assorted real life production crew. I will have a bunch of pros on my team… no complaints really, hell I point a camera at people for a living. What I wish I had was a producer.

I mean I can get things done.

I run the financials of my 3-unit condo association.

But the team that I was on has had like three meetings already. They’re using our company’s conference rooms, they’ve sent outlook meeting invitations. I’m mostly emailing people and hoping they respond. Fear not, tonight I’m going to make some calls to shore up locations, crew, equipment and actors. Right now I have some production jack-of-all-trades, a few interested editors and a couple of actors. I’m still looking to nail down a place to edit. The pre-pro scares me much more than the actual filmmaking.

One reason I’m making this short, with its rules and restrictions, is as a dry run for a feature or another short film. If I can make this movie, if I can get it all together and show some people (on my team or elsewhere), hey look what we can do. When everything comes together, under these constraints, imagine what we can do with all the time in the world, a well thought out idea and more than 48 hours to achieve it.

I hope.

I went to Boston Costumes to check out what they had to offer. It was inspiring. They open at 9am on Saturday and my costume/prop people or myself are going to head over there sometime between when we write the script and start shooting. Other important places to get props will probably be Home Depot, the various Walmarts and Targets, and You-Do-It Electronics… don’t ask.

I’m going to use this site as a way to document this project for now.

Oh, yeah, the short version of this post is that I haven’t worked on the script.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

I'm Back, Ouch

I hate blogs that don’t update. Thus I hate myself.

I have three great excuses: Flu Back Travel. Yeah, I was sick, then I was sore and then I was away. I’m feeling mostly better, back still sore and phlegm still flowing but good enough to sit at a computer and type.

The truth is that I haven’t been writing in the script either. I’ve been away from it since I last updated. When I opened it today I couldn’t have been less motivated or inspired. I was finally able to decide what I would write next. I have to write a pretty important action scene and I know that if I just sit down and do it, pages will come. The only drawback to that plan is that I am entirely sure that the whole scene will then have to be completely rewritten because I didn’t think about it enough. I am going to marinate for a day or two and then sit back down.

I just got accepted (randomly) to direct a short film in the Boston leg of the 48 Hour Film Project. At first I didn’t make the cut but it appears a team had to withdraw, so there was an opening. I had already committed to shooting someone else’s film in the competition but had to bail on them because what I really want to do is direct. I’m trying to crew up for the weekend of writing, shooting and editing. So far I have a few positive responses and some gear.

I’m also thinking about entering a film into the Salem Amateur Horror Film Festival. At this moment I might enter the first 10 minutes or so of a script I started but stopped because the movie Underworld came out and was so similar to my plot I had to stop. My idea wasn’t about vampires fighting werewolves, but more about the hidden battle between a group of people afflicted with a curse/virus/disease and the people who are hunting them down with hopes to eliminate them. My story was much more personal and much less Matrix meets Interview with a Vampire meets the Matrix meets the Matrix (did I mention meets the Matrix?) I was going for more Running on Empty meets I Was A Teenage Werewolf.

I’ve been thinking about how to rework it and I might just tweak the opening with a bit more story and a dramatic arc of some sort. Maybe this will inspire me enough to reopen the script and try to make it less like the mediocre monster movie that beat me to the big screen.

Friday, March 18, 2005


So I just re-read (and changed a few lines) of my first script. I am prepping it to send it out to the 2005 Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting. I put the link there because I know I can trust you and you won’t send your screenplay there thus making the competition for a 30 grand writing fellowship any harder for me to secure. This will be the second Fellowship to which I submitted HEARSAY. The first was Disney. They passed. I also sent it to the Slamdance Screenwriting Competition. I did not win, show or place. They were kind enough to offer me coverage. And by ‘offer’ I mean I paid them to criticize me. Unfortunately they gave me less constructive criticism than I hoped. They wrote that the concept and execution were great, the dialog sucked. I should say, that is the opinion of the one guy that read my screenplay. I am one draft removed from those contests and criticisms. The final draft was inspired by a good friend’s thoughtful and savage outline of everything right and wrong in my script.

Now I need to print this monster out and send it off.


Yes, imaginary audience?

Why haven’t you sent out any query letters yet to production companies that are looking to produce an inexpensive and original romantic comedy?

Wow, uh, good question. Uh, MALLRATS.

MALLRATS? What the hell kind of answer is that?

I’ll explain. I recently watched MALLRATS. Although I find it a funny movie, I feel the dialog is stilted and self-conscious and designed for the joke. In the months since I finished HEARSAY, it began to creep into my mind that my script might be something like that. The characters are smart and sassy and talk fast and funny. I thought of that as a strength. As I watched MALLRATS and as every character says every silly thing that came to Kevin Smith’s mind, I worried that all my imaginary friends who I thought spoke like me and my friends, were actually just spouting exposition and pseudo clever things that made us all laugh when we said them in real life.

Long Sentence (No suggestions)

As I said I just re-read it. I think I was being hard on myself. It’s funny. It has less exposition than I feared. I’ll send it out to Nicholl and I swear I will get on the query stick ASAP. That damn query blog is making me quite nervous.

Will try to write in new script today or tomorrow.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

From here...

... it looks blurry.

Snow Here

Wrote a page. Finished a scene. Added a tiny scene.

I’ve always wondered how you could shuffle scenes either in postproduction or on the page. Sofia Coppola said that the only thing her dad to help her make her Oscar winning film was to suggest that she shake up the order of some of the scenes*. This surprised me. On the first script I wrote, I can’t even imagine changing the order of almost all the scenes. ‘This happens’ so ‘that happens’ so ‘this guy finds out about that girl before he finds out about this girl who has his cell phone’. (Note: Not a completely inaccurate representation of my script.) But as I’m writing this one I can see doesn’t necessarily have to find the pills before her son goes crazy but instead could find them after he kills some people. The scene doesn’t really have to change in its writing but it will possibly have a very dramatic affect in its, well, dramatic effect. Just a thought as I try to connect the dots and get it all down on paper.

*I swear no more Coppola hyping.

I’ve noticed that if you go away from it for a few days, as I did in my illness, it’s hard to get motivated to go back to it. I promised the blog and myself I would write yesterday, but instead went to a movie. I made the excuse that my head wasn’t ‘cold-free’ enough and I needed to see a quality movie to re-energize my creativity. I sort of believe myself.

I saw Million Dollar Baby and I think the re-energizing scheme worked. I loved the visuals, the performances and the story. What I loved most was the screenplay. It was almost scientific in its ability to efficiently tell its story. If I were more critical than I am, I would suggest that it was too scientific and efficient. I was actually jealous of how well it foreshadowed, it paralleled character arcs, it paced the rise and fall and redemption. It was like the perfect road map. Which means, like a good map, you can see what is coming. As the jealousy subsided I realized that given the right idea, some more practice and some really good days in front of the computer, I could someday hit those same beats.

So, all in all it was a successful day of not writing.

29 pages hoping for 90-ish.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Haven't Written

I haven't been writing. I've been busy at work and sick everywhere. I don't think it's the Bird Flu, West Nile or anything Africanized.

Will buckle down and write. Should have half day tomorrow.

Hopefully my head will be clear enough for creating.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Phew! Got Out of that Unscathed

Just finished the scene I mentioned earlier. I had to find a believable way out of it without getting to a dramatic climax. I needed to build the tension but not end them movie in 20 pages. I hope it wasn’t too artificial. We’ll see when I get to rewriting/editing. Hell, this scene might not exist by then.

This writing thing is slow for me. I wouldn’t say it’s tough, just hard to see lots of progress. This blog is helping. Part of the problem is that I am writing between working and living my life. I’m not complaining and I’m not going to quit my job or stop watching baseball so that I can live the dream. I find it fun and I’m sure it’s good for my brain to writing instead of watching TV or playing video games. It is however very solitary and I’d love to be making a movie instead of (or in addition to) writing one. Hopefully this summer project will actually materialize and I’ll have another whole creative world to work in. I’m talking about a world that doesn’t involve sitting on the edge of an office chair, leaning with poor posture into a computer screen, and eventually destroying my wrists.

28 pages hoping for 90-ish.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

I Just Got My First Link to This Site...

... That I know of. A great blog that I read daily, written by a working screenwriter (unlike myself), used his post to answer a question I submitted to his comments page. I asked:

“So how formed was the script in their heads before you wrote it? Did they come to you and say, "I want this, this and this to happen?" Just curious.”

Not only did he answer it, he also put a link to my blog in the post.

Now I don't know if I should feel like I have my name above the title on the Marquee at Mann's Chinese Theater or if I should feel like Steve Martin when he gets his name in the phone book in the Jerk.

"The new phone book's here. The new phone book's here. This is the kind of spontaneous publicity I need. My name in print. That really makes somebody. Things are going to start happening to me now."

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Three More Pages and a Side of Pulp

I just wrote the beginning of scene I hadn’t planned on.

I needed two characters in one place and a revelation. I got those down, both easily and satisfactorily. But now I need a way to get out of this scene. I’m going to ponder this until the next time I sit down to write. Wish me luck.

On the summer movie making front:

My cohort didn’t like the idea… well I don’t know if he didn’t like it but he passed on it. He mentioned a point I hadn’t thought about (my wording): We have the tools and the talent, but we don’t have the tools and the talent.

For budgetary and acting reasons, he wants us to come up with an idea that is action driven as opposed to narrative driven. Stuff has to happen – plot. More moving around screen and less a dramatic arc for actors that we don’t have yet and may not be able to convince people of much more than, wow I almost just got killed there. Not a knock on actors, we might get some great ones, but let’s not limit ourselves if our cast is limiting.

We’re going to meet and talk about what he’s hoping for. If we come to an agreement on the premise, I’ll get started on that script.

I also pitched two more ideas to him that he passed on and had one on deck. I might explore those ideas for my next writing project… talk about a long-term plan. One irrational goal at a time.

26 pages hoping for 90-ish.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

A Fruitful Distraction

Cohort Tom said we should make a low budget horror movie this summer. He has a camera, some lights and an editing set up. Now we just need an idea. I came up with some thing and pitched the two-line idea to him in an email. He wanted more so I just whipped out something between a synopsis and a loose outline. My idea that I came up with while lying in bed two nights about, because we wanted a cheap and easy movie, has excited me. (There's a dirty joke in there somewhere about being excited and in bed.) He might hate it. I don’t want it to drain the excitement out of SOMETHING ROTTEN, but if it seems like something might come of it, I’ll gladly put my Hamlet rip-off on the back burner for a Wings of Desire rip-off.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

A Movie I Liked

CQ by Francis Ford's other talented offspring. A movie about making movies. Fun... no Casablanca Kane but I liked it.

Monday, February 21, 2005

3 more pages

Three and a half more pages, makes 7 in one day. Just set up the love interest and some back story about motivations. I'm worried that's crap but it's early and we can change it in editing.

23 pages hoping for 90-ish.

If frogs had wings...

Now if I could just stop reading other people's blogs, I'd be Darryl Zanuck.

God I hate/love NEXT BLOG>>.

Slow progress is still progress

So I just wrote what amounts to four pages.

Now if we were to use a page a day as a reasonable and fruitful measure of how much I should be writing. Subtract that number from the amount of days since the last time I wrote, (February 7th) plus the days between that and the previous time I wrote a couple of pages (January 24th). The sum total makes me feel like a slacker. But I’m not going to beat myself up. Two plus weeks of that I was traveling. One plus week I was editing a video as a V-day present for my wife. (See below).

Here’s why I’m not upset. I think this was a good scene I wrote. It hopefully set up the tension between three of the main characters. I showed how HERO and MOM are having trouble communicating. Just as the conflict was reaching a boiling point, the kind that would force a resolution, I dropped in the BAD GUY. He built up a different sort of tension that helped drive the idea that each of their motivations will have serious repercussions for everybody else. I had written this same scene the last day of writing, oh so long ago. I realized that it was just one page of ‘I don’t like you, I don’t trust him, and I’m confused what to do about it’. Now it feels more like a real scene, although maybe more dramatic than reality. It’s a scene that more subtly talks to the depth of the characters.

Editing video is fun. I’ve edited before, I’ll edit again. The building of the story, art thieves on the run that we improvised on our honeymoon in Italy was fun. I was using Microsoft Movie Maker, which for someone used to editing on Avid, sucked. I could always acquire some other better software, but I could also play video games all day and find a million other things to do instead of write.

Why write? Maybe I’ll answer that now. It’s an easy answer. I make corporate video for a living. Fine, it beats digging ditches, shoveling shit and wearing a tie. No complaints… okay, if you permit me to complain: I like movies, I like stories, I like the visual medium. Although I work in the visual medium, the story telling is a guy talking about some thing he buys, sells or processes and we cut to images that enforce his point. This is fine. But I long for the reverse. I want to use those images, those scenes to tell the story. Also, my work can be very documentary. I crave telling a story that isn’t there, not capturing one that already exists. Maybe this is trivial. But I’m very good at trivia.

So I write so that I can make a movie. That’s why I wrote HEARSAY. I specifically wrote it to be easy to make. But now I feel that if I am going to get one good shot at making a movie, I want a bigger more exciting story. Also I want it to be fun to make. So I’m writing this movie because nobody’s going to give me a shot, I have make (write) my own ticket.

Next, on this day off from work I will begin writing query letters to get some interest in my last script. I will keep you posted.

Lastly, some of the best advice I ever got was from James Murphy, author and professor: ‘Avoid the idle pleasures’. I got that advice about 10 years ago and by canceling my beloved Netflix, banishing video games, watching less television and trying real hard to write, I’m finally following his advice.

20 pages hoping for 90-ish.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Okay, so I just wrote a page...

I just wrote a page. It just opened the script and jotted down a conversation between the protagonist son and his new step dad antagonist. It was easy which means I’ll probably delete it later. That’s fine. It’s the first writing (meaning put it down on paper as opposed to thinking about a scene and working it out in my head) I’ve done in almost two weeks. Excuse: I was out of town for work and damn busy. I feel good. I was worried about making the tension palpable and this scene seemed tense.

Pats won Super Bowl.

Pitchers and catchers in less than two weeks.

No complaints.

16 pages hoping for 90-ish.

Not writing...

... but working on a secret project, more later.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Good to know.

Well done.


Pics from the Big Dig!

He tears it up!

A signal?

Friday, January 28, 2005

Still in Florida

Haven't shot much. Too busy shooting for work, makes my side project motivation low. Will try harder.

It's warm, no complaints.

I have thought about the script:
1. Lots, 2. A lot, 3. A great deal, 4. Often, 5. Some, 6. Rarely.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


It's warm here.

I shot some stuff for the mini documentary. Not enough because I embarrass easier than I thought.

More later.


Monday, January 24, 2005

Going to Florida for 10 days.

I am traveling for work again, so the script will be stuck in park, like my Corolla which is in the shop and may never return.

As I have mentioned I have no laptop, so I can do no writing. However, I am bringing a digital camera that shoots short quicktimes and am planning a documentary on my work trip.

Stop yawning.

I will try to post with my progress. I am excited about this because themudthebloodthebeer will temporarily become production centered as opposed to pre- pre- production. Doing versus thinking.

The ultimate goal will be to put the finished product on the web.

Wish me luck.

I promise to think about the script:
1. Lots, 2. A lot, 3. A great deal, 4. Often, 5. Some, 6. Rarely.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Snow Pic 3

That's the baseball field from our encrusted window. When's opening day again?

Snow Pic 2

Thanks for the plow, buddy. Luckily our car is the one on the bottom of the pic, that you can see.

Snow Pic 1

Early on, windy and cold and for some reason very yellow.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Back to Work

I’m back to writing after a few days in Westchester County. Work, hotel, work, hotel.

I’m attacking the script from a different angle now. At first, because it was so plot driven, I decided that I would make an outline, then write the scenes that I wanted to write first. I would write the most exciting scenes: the ones I that inspired the script, the ones I couldn’t get out of my head. That worked at first. I would open the script and immediately I would write. The problem was that I would jump around from one of my favorite scenes to another of my favorite scenes and I ended up seeing very little progress.

Also, I kept avoiding writing certain scenes, mainly because they required a good amount of dialog. I hate to admit that dialog can be hard. To me that is essentially saying that I can’t write a screenplay. I read a quote somewhere that if you don’t know what your characters would say, you don’t know your characters. That scared me into inaction. So it was definitely time for a new plan.

Plan B: linear, forward motion. I’m stealing the writing process that I learned from Jessica Bendinger, (Bring It On) as she explained it on She called it the vomit draft. The vomit draft consists of all writing and (almost) no editing. It gets the colorful name from the fact that it ends up being crap. The benefit is that it is all written down. This was my writing style for Hearsay (my first script), although I finished the first draft before I realized it had a name.

Now, I am back to writing from beginning to end. What remains from Plan A, the outline, half-written scenes that I have so far will stay. It’s kind of reassuring to see the stuff that comes later because the scariest part of writing a plot driven movie for me was the ‘What happens next?’ factor. (That could explain also why I needed to steal the plot of a famous old play.)

I’m torn on how much of the plot to give away. I think it’s generally a bad idea to tell people about what you are doing because it builds unnecessary expectation, and possible disappointment. But if anyone ever reads this it would be better if you knew something about the script so my descriptions about writing it wouldn't seem so abstract.

A modern Hamlet in a housing project. There, I said it. Don’t tell anyone. Think somewhere between Throne of Blood and Scotland, PA. It’s about revenge, family, young love, growing up, etc. The truth is that hopefully it will be about all those things.

15 pages hoping for 90-ish.

The fact that I wrote on a Saturday makes me feel good about my motivation level. The fact that I spent more time writing this post than writing the script knocks that down a bit.

The links section as of today are my two favorite sites, but I really just wanted to learn how to add links to this site. I hope to have some thing better soon.

I am amazed that my scriptwriting software (Final Draft 5) treats swear words as misspelled words. I don’t know if this has been remedied in further versions. I can only imagine how much time is wasted in Hollywood, by telling the software to ‘learn’ each new four-letter expletive.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Okay, I Lied.

I’m writing another post before my trip. It’s not really a lie because I didn’t know I would have time to write. I canceled some work on the house because of the weather. This transformed my morning from a hectic mess, to a how can I fill this time productively, well, uh mess.

I did my procrastinating/ADD best.

I really wanted to start this blog and I promised myself it would be something that I would only post to after working on the script… as incentive. Well, unlike last night’s post I actually did write today. But I probably added only about a page.

I’m trying to think back to the first script I wrote, (or I should say completed.) It took around eight months. That is after the approximately 4 years of thinking about it. Its called Hearsay, a romantic comedy about people who get their cell phones mixed up.

As I toil with this one I feel myself wondering why the last one was so easy. Actually, that is just revisionist history. It was tough to write the 120 pages. I procrastinated, I quit, I left it unwritten for weeks at a time. Finally I finished it. I have to remember this when struggling now. And it’s not like I’m struggling now, I’m just moving very slowly. Speed may be the main difference. Because the last script was almost entirely dialog driven (a real talker), it spilled out onto the page quickly when I actually sat down to write it. I’m sure it suffered from consisting of ‘a few people talking here, cut to a few people arguing here, cut back to the first people’.

This new one has plot. This one has action. This one has sex, drugs and violence.

This one is very different. I actually wrote and outline for this one. I need to keep the action straight. Then I wrote character sketches, so I could better understand the motivation of the characters. I needed to do this so my heroes and villains and innocent bystanders would seem real when they reacted to or caused the twists and turns in the plot.

That was the plan anyway.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Travel Woes

I travel for my job. Not my favorite part of my job for several reasons. I won’t get into all that here. I’ll just bring up the fact that I don’t own a laptop and for some reason I can’t write on anything except a computer. My theory is that I think faster than I can write by hand. I know how to type and it seems like that is the only way I can keep up with the nonsense flying around upstairs.

I type well under 60 words a minute.

I think as fast as I type.

Ergo, I think 60 words a minute.

Is that fast or slow?

Who cares, the Pats just beat the Colts. I was skeptical. I fell for the hype. I am sorry. I think the bye week just makes you forget how good a team they’ve got down there in Foxboro.

Not that I have ADD or anything but...

The whole reason for this post was to bring up the fact that I won’t have a computer to write or post while I’m traveling. So no forward progress will be made on the script. I have to make a mental note to think about the script as much as possible. More importantly, if I think of something great, I MUST write it down.

I'll have to write next weekend.

Also, although no one is reading this, don’t worry if you don’t see any posts until Friday.

Miss me.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Down to Business

So now I’m going to get into the reason I started this thing. I’m going to try to document my attempt to make one of my life goals come true – to write a movie, make a movie, edit a movie and have some number of people see the movie that I make. There are plenty of side goals included not the least of which is to try to make of living following the aforementioned goal.

So why document online? Is it for me or for the world? Maybe it’s an outlet for a different kind of creativity or even a way to look at the process of film creation from a different point of view. Maybe it’s to inform the world, or at least the world that knows me, what I am up to. One thing I hope this log will help with is to remind me why I’m trying to make a movie. If I document the good times I can return and try to recapture some of that when the road is bumpy.

That’s the idea anyway.

There’s probably a place I can put this mission statement type thing that doesn’t really belong in a post, but hey, I’m new, cut me some slack. If you stumble upon this and want to give me some pointers, please add a comment.

Quick progress update: I have a finished romantic comedy script. By finished I mean I’m three drafts in and probably won’t make a new draft. Instead I am about 10 or so pages into an action/drama that is deeply influenced by a really famous old play, by a really famous old English guy. Hopefully future updates will be about the progress in writing script number two and how Spielberg will be soon going into production of script number one. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Second Post

Back from the party, went to network and didn't. Drank some free beer and hung out with work people. I expect nothing to come from it. So this is all new to me. I didn't really care about these blog things until I found one I liked. It was a screenwriting blog, by a guy who is a successful screenwriter who gives advice to aspiring screenwriters. That was my first blogging experience and although I'm still new to this I feel like this might be a fun way to express myself (and to avoid actually writing a screenplay). More about screenwriting later.

Anyway, had akward conversations with people I will never meet again. No harm. No use. Did I mention free beer?

Okay, I'm going to bed, no one is reading this so I could cuss without reprecussions but will save that for later.


First Post

Doing this quickly, have to go to a party tonight. I will probably leave this undone until I can find more time to waste... the least of my problems.