Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Is My Name on the Call Sheet?

Although I'm a little down on my particular union, I've worked enough low budget, non-union stuff to see what Hollywood would be like without the unions and I do think they're a necessary and important part of the equation. The problem, or at least my problem with the union is a difference opinion of what the fundamental duties of a union are.

Film work isn't like other work. It is, by it's nature, transitory. You work for a few weeks and move on to the next job. That next job is part of the problem and ultimately part of what I think is wrong with union.

As a camera assistant, when I worked on a film I got a paycheck from, say, Warner Brothers. But Warner Brothers didn't hire me. In fact, Warner Brothers most likely had no idea who I was. That's because, in a very real sense, I wasn't working for Warner Brothers. Who I was working for was the Director of Photography (or the First Assistant if I was working as a Second.) That's because it was the D.P.(or 1st, etc.) who hired me. That's not necessarily a strange situation in the sense that I could have been hired by a manager at a normal company. The difference is that on a film set a HUGE part of my job is making sure the DP (or 1st) is happy with me so I get hired on the next job, which may be next week, next month or tomorrow. You see to have a career, the people who hire you have to be happy, they have to get along with you and they have to like you. No problems equals continued employment.

The problem lies in the fact that that goes all the way up the line. The D.P. has to keep the director and the producers happy and they have to keep the studio happy, etc. Unhappiness leads to unemployment. But what happens if the studio (or producer) is screwing you? To whom do you complain? You can't complain to the DP, because it's not his problem, nor can he do anything about it, nor does he want to do anything about it. You can complain to the producers, but that may not get you anywhere as they may be the problem. Or, you can complain to the union, which may solve your problem, but may, in the end, cause you far greater problems. Let me give you two examples to illustrate what I'm talking about.

Example One: Complaining to the producer: I was working on a union commercial and they were killing us. We were on location working long hours in crazy conditions. Our meal breaks kept getting later and later and craft service was minimal. Finally a few of us started talking about meal penalties (which are not automatic - you actually have to put on your time card.) Of course the producer was upset about this as it would affect his bottom line and "talked" to the D.P. We're not entirely sure what was said, but the result was the D.P. came to us and asked us what the problem was. He was concerned. What wasn't said, but was implied was, this was a big account for him, we all got a lot of work out of it, stop rocking the boat. Now we understood all that and we understood that was part of the business so we had waited until the problem was pretty bad. Now, mind you, we were talking about putting in for something for which we had a contractual RIGHT.

But the seed had been sown. WE were trouble makers. The DP was "concerned." Suddenly the next gig was in jeopardy. Should we call the union? What do you think?

Here's another example.

Example Two: Complaining to the Union: I was working on a show where the producers were nickel and diming us at every turn. We were on a weekly salary. You make less per day this way, but if there's a day off, you're supposed to get paid, so it evens out, right? Not if the producers change the deal and put you on a daily rate for the week there's a day off. Mind you, this is a CONTRACTUAL VIOLATION.

What happens? A phone call or two is made to the union. Reps come down, talks happen. Everything is settled. Then, a week or so later rumors start to come out of production. It seems the producers have put the word out, they're looking for reels. They're thinking about replacing the DP next season.

Nerves tighten.

Perhaps it isn't connected.

Perhaps that's not really what's going on. Maybe it really isn't a quid pro quo. Maybe.

Then it happens again. Two more times. The lesson has been learned. The fourth time no one calls the union.

I could go on, but lets leave it at two examples.

The problem here again is that next job, in the case of a commercial, it's truly the next job, in the case of a series it was the next season. In the case of all jobs, it's tomorrow's call sheet.

In the film business, in the UNION business, your job security is only as good as your name appearing on the call sheet.

What does the union do about that? Generally nothing. You can be fired by not really being fired at all. The union should represent it's workers because in this business we put ourselves in jeopardy when we represent ourselves. There needs to be some kind of mediation, some kind of way for things like this to work out. The problem is that the union represents itself a protector of worker's right, but really, fundamentally, all it is someone to provide a framework of rates, health insurance and a pension that any of us may or may not see.

I don't know what the solution is. I wish I had one. On the other hand what these examples point out is that even with the union in place, even with a contract and rules and possible penalties the employers will do whatever they can get away with. Even with the union, you can get screwed, without the union you can get really screwed. You can get screwed because the truth of it is the only true solution to the problem is to find another job.

I always laugh my ass off when I hear people in other parts of the universe talk about how hard it is to fire a union employee.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Microsoft bails Out on Apple

Well, not entirely. But they've announced officially that they're abandoning any further development of Explorer for the Mac. Now, since I haven't really used Explorer for the last two years (being far more partial to Safari and now, that's it's improving, Firefox (on which I write this blog, mostly because a some of the functionality doesn't work in Safari (like linking)) I really don't care much. But I think it's interesting. It also gives me one more reason to sell those useless shares of Microsoft that I bought a few years ago (right in time for an extended period of ZERO growth.)

The next big part of the space race between MS and Google is apparently on a whole different front and from what I hear Google is in the lead on this (as with everything else.) Check this out. Apparently the internet now functions at sufficient speed to use MS Word online. Meaning, that instead of booting up your Mac or PC and opening up the copy of MS Word that you bought (which by the way, you do not technically own) you will now log into MS Word which will be stored on a mainframe up in the pacific northwest. Eventually the goal is to have your computer's entire operating system on someone else's computers.

Why does this matter in a film blog? Well, mostly because Apple has been one of the major players in changing the future of film. Final Cut was a revolutionary piece of software that put film production into the hands of children (and I use that word in the sense that on set we, the crew, would sometimes refer to above the line people as the grown-ups) the way nothing else has before. Sure there are PC based non-linear editors but FCP lead the way.

By the way - I don't know if anyone has noticed, but the spell check in blogger pings the words, "blog" which is a bit like questioning your own existence, and "Google" which is I guess it's nod toward atheism as Blogger was created and is run by Google.

Forgive me. I just took a look here - and discovered that Google didn't create Blogger, but did buy it from the guys who did and now runs it. Pardon.

UPDATE on this one. I've been doing a little reading and apparently this has more to do with Mac's migration to Intel. I guess the process of Intelizing the Mac OS is kind of complicated and since no one is really using IE on Mac anyway, MS decided to blow it off. On the other hand, I'd prefer a good conspiracy story.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Union

I posted a comment over at Totally Unauthorized regarding an experience I had on set and a few commented on my comment basically saying, well if it's a rule, they have to follow it and if it's Union thing they have to follow it.

I could get all snarky here and say something like, I guess those people haven't been in the business that long, but I won't. (though I do find it a little hard to believe that anyone could actually, seriously say that if it's a rule, the producers have to follow it, and keep a straight face.) But they may be in a different Local and in different Locals things work differently (in the film business, all the grips are in one local (80) the Camera Assistants in another (600) and so on with each job classification having their own locals and their own rules but all operating under the banner of IATSE.) The truth is - and I'm not trying to hide it - I'm bitter about the union. Or, at least, I'm bitter about my union (600.) Actually that's not true, while I'm kind of bitter over all the money I paid them over the years, really I'm disappointed. But since I'm no longer in it I guess I really shouldn't complain. Though I could. I could complain on and on and on and on for page after page talking about all the things the union did for me (or failed to do.) But I won't. I won't talk about how in my experience being a member of the union was like paying AAA for roadside assistance for 10 years and the one time you need your car jump-started no one ever shows up. But I won't. I posted a great example over at the other blog and that's where I'll leave it.

All right, you talked me into it. One story. But this'll be a mild one.

I was starting a film and we were in prep. It was a fairly low budget film, under $10 million, so the Union had cut one of it's low budget contracts with the producers to cover it. Let me pause here to point out an absurdity in the film business and a great example of free-market economy. A few years ago to combat the flight of production jobs to Canada the union started cutting special deals with production companies that essentially resulted in lower and lower pay for it's members. Now the reasoning was that it was better to work than not and we were keeping the jobs here, damnit! Besides it was only supposed to be for the small companies that couldn't afford the big union contracts. But guess what? Pretty soon those big companies (like DISNEY) started saying, hey - why can't we have that deal - I guess we'd better go to Canada.

Where was I? Oh yeah, I was starting a job with a new contract and of course every time we asked for something or asked about something production would say, "It's in the contract." But we had never seen the contract so we would call our local and they would say, "Well that must be what the contract says." But after a while it started getting ridiculous so we asked our union to fax us the contract (at Panavision H'wood) so we could see it. So they said,

Sure, we'll call the IATSE and see if we can get it.

and I said,

Aren't YOU the IATSE.

But I guess they meant the main office.

And ---- it never came. I called back and left a few messages but it never came (not to mention the fact that no one ever called me back.)

AND THEN - five days later, while we're out on set, I call Panavision to get a few extra pieces of gear and they say, "hey, you know a fax came in for you guys today, should we toss it in a case and send it with the gear?"

Of course I say yes.

And then it comes. Our fax from the union.

It was the crew list.

No contract.

**By the way I changed the setting on comments so anyone can comment now. Sorry about that - didn't know it was set that way.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

These Two Cowboys Walk into a bar...

Two cowboys head up into the mountains with a herd of sheep...

Sounds like the start of a joke to me.

Anyway, I keep hearing a lot about Brokeback Mountain, the gay cowboy movie. I've heard it's good, but reviews that say things like "Deeply flawed" and "Beautifully shot, tediously paced" don't exactly inspire me. Plus Ang Lee has a tendency to take movies with interesting subjects and flog the life out of them turning them into movies that are deeply flawed and tediously paced though beautifully shot. Hmmm.

I am curious with the way the media has jumped all over this and how the Golden Globes (which is a corrupt and laughable organization) is publicly erect over it. I even heard commentary on NPR about how, yes, this is the first gay cowboy movie, but since most cowboy films took place in settings where there were no women there was a lot of "situational homosexuality." I mean, what can you say?

"John Wayne was a fag."
"The hell he was!"
"He was too, you boys, I installed two-way mirrors at his pad in Brentwood and he come to the door in a dress."
-miller, repo man.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Why You Can't Tell People What You Do

Getting back to the reason for this blog I thought I'd offer a bit of advice to those who might be reading herein. I may have written about this already, but to be honest, I don't remember. I guess I could look back over the blog but since I'm already writing this to avoid writing the script I'm supposed to be working on I shouldn't make it worse.

Back when I made my first film, Learning to Surf, I was still busting my ass on a regular basis as a camera assistant. I was still clawing my way up rocky hills with Panavision cases on my back and picking ticks from my crotch and wondering if I'd come down with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. (I was working on a commercial in Wyoming and we were standing in weeds for a good part of the day. I didn't actually notice the little fucker until I was back at the hotel showering.) Anyway, I was a poor, factory-floor, Union-dues-paying hump working from job to job and NOT telling anyone I had just directed a film. Why, you ask, would I not tell anyone? Well, for one, I still needed to work. I needed the paycheck and what happens in film land is that when you tell people you're doing something else, they stop hiring you to do what you're doing. The rational, if there really is one, is that if you've begun to move up there's no way you can be serious about your current job and why would I want to hire you. It sucks because everyone goes through it.

Here's a great story. Way back when I decided I wanted to learn camera as a profession, I befriended a camera man (whose name I will change to protect myself to) Joe. Now Joe was a good guy, creative, friendly and willing to give me a break. I soon wound up as a regular on his crew and stuffed many a mag for him. We became friends and I consider him one today. But I didn't tell him I had directed a film. Now, right about the time of my directorial debut I started to 1st (as opposed to 2nd) A.C. and my friend Joe had begun hiring me to pull focus for him. I wasn't his first call, but he was giving me the chance to fill in when his main dudes were not available on a fairly regular basis. So one day, I'm working on a commercial with him and he asks me why I didn't tell him about the film I'd made. Knowing I'm fucked, I explain to him that I'd made it a rule not to tell ANYONE because I still needed to work. He could not have agreed more and commiserated with me about how the business sucked that way. He even told me a heart-felt story about moving up himself and how someone he worked for wouldn't hire him after that. It was all love and tears between us - a pinnacle of understanding and emotional bonding.

He never called me again.

I'm speaking about this, of course, from a crew perspective, but it happens everywhere. Directors are often pigeon-holed as horror directors, or drama or comedy or whatever happened to be the genre of the first film they hit with. I grapple with this all the time now as I try to write and meet with agents (who constantly ask me what kind of director I see myself as,) knowing that what I say now may define my career the rest of my life (assuming I have a career, that is.) it's frustrating, but it's the way it is.

Sin City

I totally forgot to include Sin City in my last post, though I haven't finished watching it yet. I think I'm about 3/4 of the way through and so far I LOVE it (events around the house have prevented me from watching it in it's entirety.) There's a ballsyness to it, the way it's shot, the subject matter. It's not that it's edgy, it just kind of goes where you want it to go. It's a film that seems to respect it's primal urges. Does that make sense? Maybe I should wait until after I finish watching it before I start getting philosophical.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Deep Throat, The Guide and Cinderella Man

Sure I'm chasing some cheap web counter hits by using "Deep Throat" in the title of this post, but what the hell, I'm a whore (I work in the film business don't I?) I'll take readers anywhere I can get them.

In fact what this is about is I've gone on a film watching binge - well a binge for me. In the last few days I've watched:

Inside Deep Throat
The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy
Cinderella Man
Sin City

Now of course I'm a little behind in this as all these films have been out for a while, but having a child at home limits my theater going. Besides, I'm just doing what all those studio chiefs have been accusing the audience of for the last few years.

Now, you may notice that two of the films on the list are connected, if you're as big a film geek as I am, in that both "Inside Deep Throat" and "Cinderella Man" were produced by Brian Grazer - a man I have a lot of respect for, for two reasons. One is because he has an incredible body of work and two because he works with Ron Howard who I think is really one of the master filmmakers of our day. (Full Disclosure: As a fresh college graduate a friend's father introduced me to Ron Howard who invited me to his home for a chat. He was extraordinarily gracious and nice to me offering me sage advice and encouragement.) And I guess a third reason would be that there is the slimest chance (something like 1 in 1,000,000,000,000 that he might read this and be so flattered that he offers me a job.

Anyway, I have mixed feelings about one of those films. "Inside Deep Throat" was one I have been looking forward to seeing. I'd heard a lot about it and have been fascinated with the story of that film for a long time. Overall I liked it, but I felt it was flawed in that it lost the essential storyline - and a lot of it's heart - in the effort to point out how really God awfully bad censorship is. Now, while there is ample reason to dislike censorship in all it's forms, it's been done before. In fact, it's in danger of being done to death. (Full Disclosure: Done to Death was the title of play I performed in during my senior year of high school. I played the part of Stage Manager.) To me the fascinating part of that story was not that society got it's metaphorical panties all in a knot over this fellatial film, but the people involved in the film itself. Who they were, what they were doing and why they were doing it is the amazing aspect of the story itself. The film touches on this and skims over each of the main players, especially Linda Lovelace and her insistence that she was forced to do the film, but it never gets very deep. It also touches very briefly on the Mafia involvement but then kind of glosses over it on it's way to "fellatio film, groundbreaking/ censorship bad. Ah well.

"Cinderella Man," on the other hand, was spectacular. It's funny because I'm not a very big fan of either Russell Crowe or Rene Zelwigger (I could look it up and see if I'm spelling that correctly but I'm not going to,) and yet I thought they were excellent in this film. I also liked Paul Giamatti but I like him anyway. It was a wonderful story, wonderfully put together.

According to The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy adapting novels to feature films is an extraordinarily dangerous business that should not be attempted except by pan-dimensional beings capable of visualizing four separate realities at once. In fact, there has only really ever been one successful adaptation of a novel to feature films. It was produced by a multi-dimensional film producer in the Crab Nebula named Thorgrat Hosselwarbler who managed a passable adaptation of The Great Golgon Brain Wave Trilogy. It was 14 Million hours long and has never been successfully reviewed due to the fact that no film critic has been able to sit through it and also because Thorgrat Hosselwarbler hired rabid multi-dimensional Mungus Wolves to sit in the lobby and eat anyone who came out before the credits rolled. As the film is still running...

Anyway... The Hitch Hiker's Guide was lame.

I was VASTLY disappointed in this film and I think it is a perfect example of why it's important to hire directors who know what they're doing (or at least understand that a feature film is not a collection of little scenes spliced together to make one really long, and really cool experimental film.) There were so many problems with this film that came down to directorial misconduct (to coin a phrase) I don't even know where to start. I was a huge fan of this novel as a kid and realize that as written it would be extremely difficult to turn into a single feature film, but the film that was made was so disjointed and plodding (in fact I think the overall pace of the film succeeded in slaughtering whatever comedy it may have contained) that the brilliance of the novel never had a chance to come out.

Anyway, that's the post for today.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Damn Disney

As the dad of a 3 1/2 year old it drives me NUTS that Disney puts so many ads on the beginning of their videos. On the DVD it's a little easier to buzz past them, but my wife has a collection of Disney movies on tape that my daughter LOVES to watch and you have to fast-forward through all that crap. It especially drives me NUTS that half of them are ads for Disney movies that aren't available anymore.

By the way, sorry if my last post was a little too politcal. I try not to get into that kind of stuff since there is no end to political blogs, but you now, every once in a while...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Tookie and the Movies

I read a piece in the LA Times this morning by Steve Lopez. He went to talk to prisoners about the pending execution of Tookie Williams and found that most of the prisoners he talked to either had not heard of Tookie's message of personal redemption or his children's books or if they had heard of him they hadn't gotten the message. In some cases, they finally got the message when they were facing life in prison. It was an interesting piece because not only did it point out that perhaps those Tookie Williams is said to be helping are not really being helped, it reminded me very much of a film I love and it pointed out to me why film can be a true looking glass into our world.

Angels With Dirty Faces was a 1938 film staring James Cagney, Pat O'Brien and Humphrey Bogart. It was directed by Michael Curtiz (who later went on to direct, among others, Casablanca.) It was the story of two men, a gangster, Rocky, played by Cagney and a Priest, Jerry, played by O'Brien who grew up together but lead vastly different lives. It's also the story of a group of kids (The Dead End Kids) who idolize Rocky (Bogart played a supporting role.) The part of it that speaks today and the part of it that Lopez's piece reminded me of was at the very end. Rocky is on death row awaiting execution when Jerry comes to see him. He tells Rocky, who remains cocky and defiant even hours before his execution that he can have a heart, that he can basically redeem himself at the end, by dying a coward - making a big show of being afraid to die. Rocky is a hero to the kids who are headed toward a gangster life and he will be idolized in death. But if he "dies yellow," then, maybe the kids will see things differently. Maybe they'll see that life is worth living the right way.

Though I am opposed to the death penalty (my libertarian leanings just refuse to let me wrap my mind around the State taking someone's life, regardless of the crime,) I still feel a little uneasy about this case or at least the furor surrounding it. The calls for clemency all revolve around Tookie's alleged jail house redemption (though not around his claims of innocence, which I find curious) and of his so-called value to society. He's written children's books, after all, trying to dissuade kids from a life of crime (though of dubious value if the Lopez piece is accurate - who, besides death penalty opponents is reading these books?) and has been nominated for Nobel Prizes. But it strikes me as a little ingenuous. What is the message we send with this? You can live a life of crime, you can rob and murder, but if you write a few kids books it's alright, the world will come to your aid in your final moment and save you. Who, exactly, is going to be dissuaded from a life of crime by that?

It presents one of the problems with capital punishment in a modern world and it's exemplified by this film. It's an issue that isn't in the film itself, it isn't even in the backstory, but it is an issue that is within the setting of the film. It is not the issue of whether Tookie Williams is executed or not executed (though I imagine that it is very much the issue for Tookie,) it isn't the issue of whether or not he is truly redeemed, it isn't the issue of a few kids books or a Nobel nomination. It's the issue of our society's attitude over this and over him. It's an issue over the message we're sending. The message from "Angels with Dirty Faces" is one of pride, one of honor and one of courage. It is also a message of redemption, but the redemption in that film is not set against a demonstration of sympathy. Rocky, in that film, went to the chair an intentional coward (we think, though it's left ambiguous in the film,) a different kind of courage, as Father Jerry in the film calls it, and by doing so accepted responsibility for his life and his actions. It is his mea culpa. It was a hugely dramatic moment and clearly pulls the rug out from under a group of starry-eyed youngsters (the Dead End Kids) who see themselves as little Rockies. That, and not his defiance, showed the kids that the life they were headed down was wrong. It sent the message in a huge way - their hero was gone and he died not during the execution, but in the moments before it. What made that story work and what made that message poignant - and why it is important today - was the fact that Rocky was going to be punished for the crimes he committed. It was black and white, cut and dry, there was no way out because society at the time said - this is how it is, you break the law and you pay - that was the setting. It was a lesson that was far stronger than what's going on today. The kids were able to see it because it was strong and it was clear. It was not cluttered by arguments over the morality of Rocky's life or the morality of his death. He was wrong. What's more is he was allowed to be wrong.

In that sense it presents a problem with the death penalty. Death penalty opponents are so vociferous in their convictions that they are (or seem to be) willing to overlook the crime and send the message to kids (and perhaps other adults) that no matter what you do we're going to protect you - because society is wrong - it is society that is committing the crime. (It also makes life in prison seem like the easy way out.) The message that's being sent is not whether Tookie's life of crime was right or wrong but whether society is right or wrong. Tookie is the poster boy (for both sides, with the victims being overlooked in both cases.)

The sad part is that the kids who are supposed to be helped by this, the kids who are supposed to be dissuaded from a gang life, either by Tookie's books or by the deterrence of capital punishment are being given an entirely different message. The message that they are being given is ambiguous at best, ingenuous at worst. Clearly the case for deterrence is weak and clearly the only people reading Tookie's books are Nobel committees. The only way this will be solved - the only way these kids are going to get the message - is if society, as it was in 1938 in Angels With Dirty Faces, is all on the same page. But that was a long time ago. In that world there was no debate (or very little) regarding capital punishment. In this world there is. It is the debate that is the problem - it is the debate that is obscuring the nature of punishment - that is obscuring the message - and there is only one solution. Until the death penalty is off the table there can be, in our world, no true deterrence, no true punishment - there can be no clear message.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The Dawn of the New Media

People have been talking about New Media for years now and in general they been talking about blogs. But blogs are really just a throw-back to the days of pamphleteering. But the New Media the New Media in terms of distribution of stories, the New Media that will sink the studios, close the networks and make the unions obsolete is finally here. In fact, though it's been here for a while, it is exemplified by the video iPod and Google.

I've been thinking about this for a while, ever since I gained the ability to shoot and edit an entire film in my garage, but now that I have the ability to distribute it to a worldwide audience, also from my garage I'm thinking about it more. I'm also thinking about it because of my recent departure from the union and because SAG and the WGA are rumbling about another strike.

There's been a lot of talk over the last few years regarding digital distribution of feature films - theatrical distribution, that is, but it hasn't really happened yet. Theater owners are reluctant to spend the money to upgrade projection systems since the economic benefit of such a system goes to the studios. But the studios have backed away from this for reasons including technology, piracy, and the cost (how many theaters worldwide would have to be converted?) There's also another reason which no one talks about and I'm not sure why. That reason is very simple and gets right back to me sitting in my garage. If theaters go digital and it winds up costing no more than the price of a blank DVD to produce a film print, then all the studios have left is their ability to make huge blockbusters that cost hundreds of millions of dollars and their advertising budgets.

But if I make a film that people want to see, one with, presumably, a great story and great characters (something that isn't guaranteed by hundreds of millions of dollars and advertising budgets) that doesn't cost much to produce, say something like (a modern) Maltese Falcon (though minus the star names) and can get it out and build word of mouth and people want to see it - then (and I'm fantasizing here for a moment) I'm not going to need the studios. I can post it on free on iTunes and someone, in their quest for Desperate Housewives, may find it there and like it and email it to a friend and if enough people like it (now I'm really fantasizing) they'll email it to more friends and they'll email it to friends and if enough people get interested and enough people want it I can sell the DVD to make back my money (or simply charge a small fee to download it) or a theater chain may pick it up and if all I have to do is burn DVDs... bye, bye Universal.

And bye, bye Unions. You see at that level I'm not going to need SAG or the WGA or the DGA or IATSE. Sure they'll come after me for my next film, but I'll only need them if I sign a huge contract with a studio. If I make my next film the same way I made the first then who needs unions? Of course the obvious question is what about star names? You can't sell a film without star names, but you see in this world of new media - the PROCESS is the star name.

Sounds implausible? Sounds far too simple? Sounds hilarious? Laugh away, but this is exactly how Google became - well, Google. And by the way, it only took one Google to shake up the Web.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Two in One Day

I read a story in the LA Times this morning about a blog called, Totally Unauthorized. It's written by a female juicer and done quite well. At least it's got me all misty and nostalgic for the 14-17 hour days (and nights) of pain and suffering.

In truth, I liked working on a film crew. There's something about it that's exciting and fun and you can, though not always, get paid pretty well for it. I always loved it when we blew stuff up and did big stunts, stuff like that - stuff you just don't see in everyday life (unless you live in Iraq.) It's funny too, how the horror stories, the stories of freezing cold, or blazing heat always seem to get me nostalgic. I made great friends and even got one of two on screen credits (though not many.)

But it's been a while and I'm on to other things (the last real show I worked on, other than commercials, was Lizzie McGuire and it was a wonderful way to go out. Great crew, great cast, everyone was friendly and nice and we had KILLER hours. I would actually be home by dinner most nights.) As I mentioned in my earlier post, I'm out of the union and officially done ACing. It was a tough decision for me to make, because getting in was an accomplishment that I was proud of and I put 10 years into it, but I can't go back to crew work now. It's too hard on family life and it's too hard on a directing career. I thought that working on crew, working your way up from the factory floor, as a mentor of mine once said, would give you some credibility (I actually know HOW to make a film) but it doesn't. I started to get a lot more responses to my directing resume once I took my camera assisting work off of it.

The problem is I love the business and I'm good at what I do (pardon the tiny ego trip.) In fact I've become kind of an idiot savant about film making and I feel it's what I was meant to be doing. The trick is I'm not very good at promoting myself and pushing myself (in spite of my mini ego trip only a couple of sentences back,) and in Hollywood that's 98% of the job. Looking back on it, I think it would have been a lot better had I been good at say, real estate or law or finance, but alas...

It's slow

My world has slowed down. Not my actual world, but my film world. I have so many things going on, so many ways I'm trying to actually make money that my film world has taken a back seat. Well, until now. I've started writing again in earnest and I intend to make something happen soon.

It seems, Grande Con Carne, the film, has died on the vine. One of my principal actors has moved to another state and although that shouldn't stop me, I may let it. The idea of writing a film as I went along and shooting it as I went along, seemed like a lot of fun, but it actually drove me NUTS. It wasn't right and although there were shining moments - and I discovered some very happy things about friends - the overall experience wasn't my cup of tea. Given the way I like to direct, given how I want to know everything there is to know about a story, inside and out - this just wasn't the way to do it.

THOUGH - my crew and cast were fantastic and I think I can easily make a film with them - with the technical limitations that we had - I just need it to be the right film.

In other news, I'm officially out of the camera union. Thank God.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Vindicated by the LA Times

In apparent http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifresponse to my posting, the LA Times agrees that the recent box office slump was due to the fact that most of the movies studios were putting out SUCKED.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Set up and punch line

It's been too long since I posted here. I've been busy. I've bee shooting, Burning, blogging and writing - I finished one script and polished another and now I'm trying to get them out. One is an R-comedy and one is a horror film. Both are hot genres, so you'd think I'd have people lined up to read them.


Sorry - as much as I love it, I'm a little down on the film "business" at the moment.

Yet still, two friends and I have formed a project called Three Minute Films. It's a short film company with the idea to make anything as long as we can fit it into three minutes. It's an idea to promote ourselves, work toward something bigger, build our chops, make some friends and contacts. For me it's a discipline. I've never been drawn to the short film as a medium - meaning I've never really wanted to make one before. I do have some ideas and I love to watch really good shorts, I've just never felt I had that in me, so this project is a challenge. I have two ideas, one I like more than the other, both are comedy and both can be really funny, I think - if I can buckle down and write it. A friend told me that to think of a short film as if you're just telling a joke. And I think that makes a lot of sense. I just have sharpen my ideas to a set up and a punch line.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


My copy of V LIfe arrived in the mail recently, bundled in with my subscription to Variety - a periodical I convince myself I need to read on a regular basis. It's V-Life that I find mystifying. It's essentially a People Magazine for the film business, though who exactly relates to it, I'm not sure. I flip through it's pages with the same look on my face, I imagine, a homeless person has while flipping through People.

Friday, August 12, 2005

I saw a movie poster yesterday

I saw a movie poster yesterday in a video store window for the movie Hide and Seek, starring Robert deNiro and Dakota Fanning. What struck me about the poster, which was for the DVD version of the movie, was the note on it that proudly trumpted the 4 ALTERNATE endings available on the disc.

Think about that. 4 ALTERNATE endings. Which means that actually they shot 5 endings. Again, think about that. What does that mean? The possiblity is that in anticipation of a DVD release the producers put two major stars to work creating little snipets of film that very few people would ever see in the hopes that the slogan "4 Alternate endings" would entice more people to buy the thing. (probably at a cost 10 times what it cost to make my two films COMBINED.) OR they were lost. They didn't know what they were doing. That's kind of what it tells me.

You see, I have to confess that many of my projects have had alternate endings. I can go back through my folder of Final Draft documents and pull out version after version of scripts with many alternate endings - and beginings and middles too. But it doesn't cost anything to have alternate endings on paper. Having come from the world of camera I learned that when you have major talent in front of the lens, you should be ready. Have everything to you need to do the job right then and there. That too, should apply to directors and producers. My suspicion, and I think it applies to Hollywood in general these days, is that there were too many voices in the mix. Too many people were giving their opinion on what the movie should be. Have you ever sent a script to a friend to read and then gotten frustrated because they focused on one minute thing about the script - and ignored the whole rest of the plot, characters and story? Now imagine that friend is actually in charge of the project and you HAVE to do what they tell you. Now imagine that there's 10 of those friends. That's kind of what it's like to make a movie these days.

So what happens is that when 10 different people tell you to change 10 different things in your 2nd act - well...

You can wind up with 5 different endings.

Monday, July 11, 2005

My approach to directing

Here's a letter I wrote applying for the CBS directing fellowship a few years ago. I was not selected, but looking back on it and seeing who they picked I'm not sure I had the right qualifications. Still, I think this statement was valuable for me to write. I'm actually thinking of including it on my reel.

Approach to Directing Statement – RJ Thomas

Through my experience on set, I have learned that a director must not only be an artist, but skilled in time management and communication. The best approach lies in preparing and understanding the material. It is the only way to shape a vision, communicate it to cast and crew and take advantage of the talents they bring to the project.
Commitment to text is an important part of the process. Commitment does not mean blind allegiance to specific words, but rather to the text as a whole. In an ideal world, script changes would be made and discussed early on. But production is a fluid process and creative people will make suggestions until the camera rolls. Great ideas can emerge this way, but it is critical to know what affect an idea will have on the finished project before using it. There are times when a minor change can be a terrific asset, but there are also times when it can create major problems. What feels right for a character or the camera in a particular scene might be dreadfully wrong for the story. It is my job to decide when and if these ideas will work. The only way to do this is to have a consistent and committed knowledge and vision of the text as a whole work.
Working with actors can be rewarding and challenging. I like to give actors an overall direction and then to refine that as we work through rehearsals and they bring ideas to the table. Not only does this benefit the actor’s performance, it can provide me with additional insight into the material and the actor’s working method. If time is sparse, even the quickest table read can provide valuable insight. In series work, where character and motivation are well established, this approach can help a director get into the working dynamic of the show. It is important to go into this process as prepared and committed to the project as possible. A confident and knowledgeable director can inspire actors and draw better performances and ideas out of them. As before, it is my job to decide which ideas work and to make these choices understandable to my cast.
In the same way, being able to communicate and work well with your crew can vastly improve a project. Ideas can come from the Director of Photography, props, make-up, wardrobe or just about anyone. The key is to be alert for ideas that work and ideas that do not. Additionally, when a crew is treated with respect, they will work harder, better and faster -- all of which can improve a project.
My experience directing, in production and as a camera assistant, working with dozens of directors, watching rehearsals and setting up every shot has provided me with a unique and valuable education. In observing the best and the worst, I have learned that a strong artistic vision is important, but preparation and strong communication skills are essential. I’ve had great success applying this to the films I’ve directed and hope to refine this process in the future

Friday, July 08, 2005

I guess it's about time

I guess it's about time for me to write here again. It's been awhile and - alas - the goldfish has perished. I must say though that for a 15 cent goldfish from Petmart, it lasted a hell of a long time in it's little goldfish bowl. But as all things it finally turned out to be dust in the wind. And flushed in the toilet.

And I must apologize to any and all faithful readers I may have. We had some shit going on here and so I was otherwise occupied for a little while. Personal and work kind of stuff. Editing for a company in El Segundo. I'm not sure what it is about Final Cut, or maybe it's the process of Non-linear editing in general - but whatever part of my brain that's stimulated by it causes other parts to shut down. After three days working on it I couldn't figure out that 10-7 minus an hour for lunch is an 8 hour day. But I could cut a minute and a half out of a 4 minute trailer in about 20 minutes. And leave it seamless.


And I realize this posting had little to do with film, but I'm getting warmed up. I'll write more later and tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

How I write


It's been a while since I posted anything. I've been struggling, alternately, with a script I'm writing and a series of bad sinus headaches. (I mean a headache like, is that a sinus headache or did someone jab a railroad spike behind my left eye?)

But on the flip side, I think the script is coming along well. I'm working on a 2nd draft and the process has been pretty interesting. I sat down and wrote a first draft all the way through, except without a definite ending. I didn't write an ending because I knew that when I went back and started working on it again things were going to change dramatically. When I write a 1st draft I just try to power through - even if what I'm writing is stupid, I'll just crank it out because 90% of what I do happens when I rewrite and as long as I have something to work with the ideas flow.

So I printed it out and sat down with a pen and started the rewrite. I go through it and change things, rewrite dialogue, rewrite and move scenes around - work on the thing as a whole - cross out page after page after page - but all with a pen on the printed page.

Then I sit back down at the computer and start to enter things in. Of course, this is more than just typing - things change here too. In this particular case I had a radical change at this point that I knew was going to be an enormous amount of work because almost every scene would have to change - but it works - it's much for the script - and it makes sense, so I had to go with it.

I'm half-way through this draft. It's going a little slowly because of the change, but I think it's a lot better. The problem is that I think it's going to need at least one more pass of this whole process before I can show it to anyone.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

New Movie for Today

The new movie link for today - over there on the right hand side - is "The Man Who Shot Libery Valance." It's really one of the true greats of American Cinema and a line of dialogue in it has permeated our popular culture in the form of every impression of John Wayne that you've ever heard. If you've ever heard someone use the word "pilgrim" in John Wayne's voice, it's from this movie. Directed by John Ford.

The theater vs. The DVD

It's funny. There's a ton of buzz these days in the press about how the DVD is taking over from the theatrical experience. People are buying DVD's in a way that no one ever expected and avoiding theaters in a way that no one ever expected. So - the natural conclusion is that people aren't going to theaters because they can have this sweet, kick-ass home theater experience at home AND there's all those sweet extras on DVD. Here's my problem with that. I work in the film business - among people who really, really, really dig movies. You know how many people I know who have really sweet, kick-ass home theater set ups? People who have their TV sets finely tuned so that each and every color is presented the way God and Vittorio Storaro intended? People who don't have table lamps reflecting in the TV screen?




Well, the argument goes, the release dates for theatrical and DVD are getting so close that DVD must be cannibalizing the market. Possibly. But I think there's something more to it.

Think about it. People have been gathering around the campfire to hear/watch stories being told since before there were campfires. The modern theatrical experience can surely be traced to the ancient Greeks and earlier. Meaning that people have been going to theaters to see drama for at least several thousand years. Could it really, really be that we're just DYING for an excuse to sit by ourselves in our boxer shorts and watch "Spider Man 2?" Could that really be it? Could it really be that the laws of supply and demand and the communal experience which is thousands of years old, are actually being totally inverted by the existence of the DVD?

Or could it be that the theatrical experience just ain't cutting it? I mean the biggest movie of the year is clearly going to be Star Wars and the best I've heard anyone say of it is, "it doesn't suck." Could it be that it's just not that much fun anymore to pay $10 a ticket to watch commercials, three-act trailers (a whole other post) and then get to sit through a remake of an old TV show?

Perhaps that's why my DVD collection doesn't include any "current releases."

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Movies You Should See

I've started a new list of links over on the right called "Movies You Should See." I've actually started it with Tora, Tora, Tora - not exactly an independent film, but considering it was just Memorial Day, one that's on my mind. It's a fantastic movie about the attack on Pearl Harbor that is told from the Japanese point of view as well as the American Point of view. It's almost like two movies in one. (The Japanese part is in subtitles.) Anyway - if any of you went out and bought that Michael Bay travesty please sell it to one of those places that buy used DVDs and go buy this one instead. As the days go by I'm going to add movies to this list - basically just my favorite movies - but they are all great - and hopefully there will be a few you haven't seen yet. I'm also going to do books - but there are really very few truly great film books - so it won't be that long a list. Of course, as I write, titles are starting to pop into my brain, so maybe I should go ahead and amend that right now. Nah, I'll just leave it.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Finally have some video up

So I finally have some video up, here and here and here. The first is Suicide Drive - the video I spoke of below. You'll be able to see the use of the hand-held light I was talking about. The others are also great uses of inexpensive lights and 24 Frame video. In fact, all of them, including this one were shot in 24p except Suicide Drive which was shot on regular video, then deinterlaced. I also used a process on it where you add a video layer of noise under the whole thing, then bring down the opacity (very slightly) of the top track so that it has the appearance of grain. It's a pretty neat effect. Take a look.

On Invasion and She Likes Skulls, I had a Lowell kit with me, though due to some bad prep on my part - no spare bulbs. The kit contained two Lowell omnis and two totas. THOUGH - only one of each had good bulbs. The thing is, since I was feeling flush with my "professional" lighting kit (though it's probably 30 years old) I didn't bring any of my other "kit" so I literally shot those two videos with only two lights. Both of those videos were shot in the same day. Skulls - I literally shot in 20 minutes. It's an interesting story and one I'll have to write about later. In the meantime - enjoy.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

For those of you who went thundering off to Home Depot.

So I was at the Depot tonight and took a look in the flourescent light section. There were no Optimas to be had. I'll have to chat with a gaffer about this - but there were some flos that were 3000k (a little warmer than regular tungsten) and lights at 5800K a touch bluer than daylight. Interesting. They also had the usual ass colored flourescent lights.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


Wow, it's been a few days since I posted.

Today I'm going to post about - lights. Yes, finally lights. This is going to be a kind of general posting regarding what to look for, then as the days and weeks go by I'm going to post more specifics.

Let me start by telling you about a music video I shot with lights from Home Depot. What I had was two of those silver clip-on shop lights, a fluorescent fixture with two bulbs and one of those silver shop lights that are in a kind of oval cage that have a little hook on top so you can hang it anywhere. You tend to see guys using them to work on cars. I also had a collection of lightbulbs of various wattages. Most were incandescent household bulbs - but I had a few of the spot type bulbs as well - also in various wattages.

Now the key thing to remember about light is that it comes in two flavors (well color temperatures really,) 3200K and 5600K. 5600k is daylight - the sun at noon - 3200k is your reading lamp next to your bed. What's the difference between them? Well in a nutshell, 5600k is blue light and 3200k is yellow/orange light. This is why we white balance our cameras. While our eye adjusts - the camera can't (though some can but that's beside the point.) What white balancing means is that it tells the camera's computer what white is. From there it can interpret all the other colors. There are ways to play with this - white balancing on different colors, but that's a whole other post. But if you'd like an example of this - white balance your camera inside - with the house lights on - then point it out the window. All will be blue. (There are also color temps besides 3200 and 5600 but unless you have a color temperature meter and are shooting film - I wouldn't worry about them.) When you shoot film - you buy film specifically for a certain color temperature.

All the lights I was using on this video were 3200K - including the fluorescence. Most flos are hideous lights sources and turn up in nasty greenish tones when you balance for other colors but I was using Optima bulbs - meaning that they were balanced for 3200k. You can find these at HD, but you may have to look for them.

What I wound up using mostly were the silver shop lights with fairly low wattage bulbs in them. DV is pretty sensitive to light and two 35 watt bulbs made the place look like high noon. But that was the lowest I had, so I used those, but wrapped some tinfoil over the lights (poor-man's blackwrap (which is heavy tinfoil painted black)) to cut it down a bit. Depending on the shot, I would move these around, and clip them to whatever piece of furniture or doorway or tripod was nearby. The nice thing about them is that they are a fairly soft light to begin with. You can also plug them in to a dimmer to lower the intensity a bit.

I also used my flos as fill here and there - but they're a little more cumbersome to work with - though they looked great when laid - say - behind the drummer - on the floor shining up.

I also used the hanging shop light as a practical. I had the lead singer hand-hold it in shots and that was the only light on. He would move around the various band members and light them - or himself - as the song played. It looked very cool. And that was it - the whole lighting kit. If I get the chance, I'll post the video on my website. I'd love to hear - and post - other ideas people have for lights - just shoot me an email.

Friday, May 13, 2005

I mentioned lights

I was going to talk about lights wasn't I? Well I will - mostly because I just remembered that today - but I'm going to talk about lights.

Just not right now. I'm way too tired. I've been staring at FCP and DVD SP for the last two weeks straight (apart from my mini-vacations to write here (which were actually a few hours I had while my Mac crunched some video down to MPEG-2) - and my Sunday off to shoot Grande con Carne) so my brain is a little fried. Maybe you can tell.

But lights, lights, lights - I will talk about lights - and sound. I want to talk (well, write, really) (blues/jazz really) about sound! Because it's important you know. I mean without sound, we're all just doing... well silent film. But without film - sound is just - radio. And a day without sunshine is like - night.

TOO much time in front of the computer - too little time in front of real people.

David Lynch is shooting DV

By the way - I hope my post yesterday didn't come off as bitter. I'm really not. It's just part of the whole frustration inherent in the film business. It's just the struggle - you know? (which is a joke from a great film festival I went to (in any case - I get it.))

ANYWAY - there was a blurb in yesterday's Variety (actually it was from Wednesday's issue) about David Lynch shooting a movie on DV under the radar for the last two years. He's funding it himself and working with family and friends. Hmmm - that sounds awfully familiar. If it hadn't been going on for so long I would swear he was ripping me off. I haven't always been the biggest Lynch fan - but I have LOVED some of his stuff and think he's a talented filmmaker. It's really comforting to see that he's finally come down to my level. Go David!!! Of course he has a few slightly bigger names in front of his camera than I do - but I'm sure that situation will change.

It's funny because with the way DV cameras appear on the market - new ones quickly making old ones obsolete (or at least seem that way) I wonder how one works on a film for two years with the same camera. I mean I own a DVX100 (first generation) and I'm starting to feel like I don't have the "it" camera anymore. Which, of course, in terms of what is "it" I don't - but it's still a great camera.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

I just added a counter to the Blog

I added a counter a while ago and I've been getting a ton of traffic. Lots of people reading - but I just figured out how to open it up - in other words - make it so everyone can see it. Though the number it's showing now is lower than than what the Site Meter report tells me. I'll have to work on it.

Oh - I see- that IS the right number of visitors - but the page views numbers are much higher.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Mother, where do Directors come from?

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a friend. We were talking about production companies that make the straight to video monster/horror/slasher/erotic/thriller films that seem to fill up the halls at AFM. Now the reason we were talking about this was because we were wondering - 1: who do we talk to to get hired at one of them and 2: if you directed a film for a company like that would it hurt or help your career?

Then a month ago or so there was an article in the LA Times Calendar section about the new tidal wave of horror films and there was a quote from an executive at one of the companies (maybe the one that made Saw) who - when asked about older horror film directors who have experience vs. younger first-time filmmakers who have no experience: he said (and I'm paraphrasing) I'd rather hire someone who is going to do something new and fresh even if they don't know what the fuck they're doing (which is basically what Saw was - a great pitch followed by 90 minutes of film.)

AND a year or so ago I had a meeting with a VP of Production for a major film company (that a friend of mine had gotten me) and he said, "you should make a short." To which I responded - "But I've already directed two features." To which he responded, "yes, but the sad thing is that most people who would hire you to direct a whole feature don't actually want to take the time to sit down and watch a whole feature."

And then there was an editorial by Peter Bart in Variety recently talking about George Lucas. Now the article kind of talked about what a dork Lucas is but it also talked about his being friends with Coppola and them starting out together. And I started to think about that whole generation, which is, of course, the generation of filmmakers that I grew up admiring (especially Coppola (being an Italian kid from back east - he was kind of hero to me.) And people like Peter Bart and Robert Evans and all of them who were responsible for all those great movies - and I can't imagine them hiring someone to direct a $50 million film based on a short - and it occurred to me that maybe people in Hollywood these days don't really like movies all that much.

That could be why so many first-time directors get the chance to hack away at a few dozen rolls of film and tens of millions of dollars. Because where do Directors come from? They come from - film school, writing, festivals (which is OK - I guess, depending on how they get there - which is a WHOLE other long post,) music video and commercials.

But where did the Easy Riders and Raging Bulls come from? In essence they came from the same places - (those minus festivals and music video (and to a large extent commercials.) But they didn't leap off the page and start shooting the Godfather. How did they work their way up? Coppola made a film for Roger Corman called Dementia 13 then went on to direct a bunch of nudie movies before getting a real break. Scorsese (is that spelled right) Made a film on his own, then one for Corman (Box Car Bertha) then put together Mean Streets, Spielberg Sugarland Express and The Duel - but the point is these guys were making movies! That's how they learned! AND they were making movies that these days would get you a one-way ticket to palookaville. But here's the point. Making a movie is a task - a craft unlike anything else in the world. Making a 3 and half minute music video or a 30 second commercial does not qualify you do it. The only thing that qualifies you - trains you - for directing features is directing features. Now - of course there have to be first-time directors - of course people have to start - and doing all those other things IS a great place to start. It's a fantastic place to start - but making films for AFM and places like that is an even better place to start - it's a great place to go to from music videos or commercials and some people do. You can learn the craft without that much at stake. Because it's a hell of a lot better to make your mistakes when the film cost $1 million rather than when it costs $20 million - or more (or even $10 million.) And it's a great place to build a body of work that says - hey - I know what the fuck I'm doing.

Then again, if that's true - why do I want so desperately to take Sex Substitute 2 off my resume?

Dollies and doors and mass

I've decided I need movement and inertia. I'm not talking about my career - which already has more than enough inertia and not anywhere near enough movement, but I'm talking about my camere. The BIGGEST problem with these little miniDV cameras - specifically my DVX100 and others like it - is they're TOO GODDAMN LIGHT. There's no weight to them and handheld shots looks ridiculously jerky. It needs a little mass. Something beyond those little stedi-cam rigs that don't really work all that well. (although they're not bad) Something that keeps the camera small and compact. Something that just gives it a little weight so a twitch in your forearm doesn't look like the San Andreas fault just gave out. I'm going to work on this.

I also need movement - fluid movement - DOLLY movement. Most of this film so far has been shot either handheld or on sticks (or the recently invented laundry-room-door cam,) and I need to vary that. I need a dolly. AND there just so happens to be an article in MovieMaker magazine this month about building one. So I'm going to give it a shot.

Also - this may be a two post day. I have another topic I want to write about but it's going to take a few minutes to get it down.

Monday, May 09, 2005

New pavement, laundry room doors and a hooker

We shot yesterday. Started out shooting a dialogue scene in a car. It's funny because sometimes you get a little lucky and this may have been one. We met at Connie's house at 9:30 (well - most of us got there at 9:30) and it turns out there was a road at the end of her street, with a long straight run, no traffic, and brand new pavement. It was wonderful.

I strapped them up with lavs and we shot.

Now of course we had no process trailer, no hostess trays, no car rigs. So we might have been limited to hand-held in the backseat, but Steve, my DP - had the idea to put down the back windows and run a board across (over) the backseat. The problem was that we didn't have any wood. But Steve noticed these thin doors Connie had for her laundry room and so we took one off and used that. Perfect. We put the camera on it on top of a sandbag - tossed a little more beach on top of the camera and that was that - perfect. So we shot and shot and then Steve jumped on the running board and we shot and shot and it all looked and sounded and turned out great. Then we did some drive bys, then we jumped in the car and headed downtown to steal a shot in the warehouse district.

Which is where - under the bridge downtown - we saw a deal go down with a guy in a white car and a hooker. Nothing like the spice of life in downtown LA. We just bounced around on sticks and got a lot of coverage of that. It was just a one page scene, so we had a little time to play with it.

It all looked good and sounded good and Connie and Scott did a great job. The rehearsal time really paid off.

Now I just have to start cutting some of this stuff together - oh yeah - and write the rest of the script.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Shooting Tomorrow

Grande Con Carne rides again. We're shooting two scenes tomorrow - one of two characters in a car driving - and one of two characters in a car parked. It's funny because after my last little piece of self-adulation on what a genius I was to figure out certain problems in the script - I realized last night that all I had done was to uncover a MAJOR problem elsewhere. Well, I'll worry about that on Monday.

Here's what we got going on:

Connie and Scott
Me and Steve
Panasonic shotgun mic (which by all accounts is an el-cheapo microphone that I got to use as a backup camera-mounted mic - and turns out has great range and a nice warm sound to it.)
also I'll probably use the two Sony wireless lavs I own.
And I may buy one of those lights you can plug into a cigarette lighter to help boost the ambiance inside the car so the outside doesn't vanish in a fog of superwhite pixels.

Where are we shooting? Beats me - we're going to drive around a little and find a place. But it isn't a lot of work, so winging it doesn't stress me out the way it would if we were, say, shooting a car chase (which I really don't think is going to happen in this film.) I will certainly let ya'll know how it goes.

By the way - does anyone know any good spots to shoot without a permit?

Thursday, May 05, 2005

I dream in Final Cut Pro

Man, I've been swamped trying to get these two project finished. They're paying gigs, nothing thrilling so I won't bore you with the details, but for the last two nights I swear to God I've been dreaming in Final Cut Pro. But I will say this about it, I'm getting good and fast at FCP. In any case, when I finish this up, I'll get back to this and start talking about some lights.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Lighting the world

I got an email this weekend from a filmmaker in NYC named Manny who's shooting his film. He's using the DVX and shooting natural light and he's doing it all himself. And I completely DIG that. I really think it's a new art form (I should say craft) that is the principal benefit of the digital revolution. Films can be small and more intimate than ever.

Shooting with natural light can be really beautiful and these new cameras can capture and sometimes make it look more beautiful than it appears to the naked eye. Of course there are two kinds of naked eyes. There are the eyes that just see - and then there are the eyes that see light. Those eyes tend, in the film business to become Director's of Photography or gaffers.

Now coincidentally I happend to watch an episode of a Showtime series called, Family Business, which as you may or may not know is about a porn director/star/producer named Adam Glasser who does his productions under the name Seymour Butts. Now, granted, it's about porn, but - as I was watching it recently there was a scene of him shooting a scene for one of his flicks and there was a brief shot in the corner of his "lighting setup." This lighting setup was nothing more than a couple of yellow halogen shop lights on a stand. And although his films don't exactly look like they were shot by Vittorio Storaro, they don't exactly look bad.

The reason is because of video. You can make it look really, really good with a tiny amount lighting. And a simple trip to someplace like "home depot" will net you a whole crop of gear for little money.

A few years ago I shot my first music video like this - with shop lights and tinfoil (and of course natural light) and it turned out great. The trick - it turned out - was finesse. And those little three prong adapters because the house we were shooting in was wired with only two prong outlets. So in the next few days, weeks, months, I'm going to post lists and ideas of little lights to use. And I'd like to invite others to post here as well because we should all share the wealth as they say.

But right now, I have to go fire up Final Cut and do a little work.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

On the Hypocrisy of this blog and building boats

We rehearsed yesterday and it went well. It's funny because as I write and rewrite and shoot pieces of this script I learn more about it. I think I figured out a huge problem with it yesterday while we were rehearsing. It happened because as I heard the actors speak the words it started to fire sparks in my head (figuratively speaking - I don't want to make anyone feel self-conscious.)

It's funny because stage plays usually (or I should say, traditionally) work this way. There are several weeks (months) of rehearsal during which time the playwright (that's not a misspelling) can work on and rewrite the play. Films, typically, do not work this way.

And through this I am going to explain away the hypocrisy of this blog where I talk about spending all this time on your script and THEN shooting and here I am writing a film AS I SHOOT. True there are more than enough STUDIO films which seem to follow this process, but it really shouldn't be done this way. On the other hand - if you can do it, it will teach you a hell of a lot about writing. I can do it because in a very real way we're just screwing around. We're not spending any money on this and we're not really expecting much out of it - we're just doing it because it's fun and it's GREAT practice between projects. So you should still spend the extra time on your script. And yet...

And yet it's funny, because you can write and write and write and spend years at it and have every character motivation NAILED and the story flows and you just can't get over what a damn genius you are - but when an actor picks up your script and starts reading the words - you can lose your erection in the blink of an eye. Everything can change. He might have an inflection in his voice or there might be something about his character that adds - or subtracts - from your script - or the way two actors relate to each other that utterly destroys it. I'm not talking about bad actors - I'm talking about GOOD actors (because good actors will always bring something to a role that you never considered.) But if you can go back and change the script - rewrite with his (by the way I'm using a non-gender specific "he") voice in your head and rehearse again and rewrite again and over and over until you nail it - then great. It will be better in the long run - in fact that's the way to do it. In fact, a lot of stage plays have the opportunity to do this. But films very rarely get much rehearsal time and rewriting tends to happen in a panic during the shoot with reshoots and editing and a whole mess of stuff going on.

Which brings me to the whole "Playwright" vs. "Screenwriter," thing. The word "playwright" which means generally someone who writes plays, is akin to shipwright or wheelwright - in other words a craftsman who constructs something. Because after all, a play is a construction - a combination of character, motivation, story, conflict, comedy, setting, crescendo, scenes, acts. The Playwright does not simple sit and write a play - a play is constructed, at least it's supposed to be, in the same way a ship is constructed from different materials parts and - here's the most important part - a play works or doesn't work in the same way that a ship either floats or doesn't float.

A screenplay is really no different, yet those who pen screenplays are labeled as "Screenwriters." It's really an age old devaluation of the writer in the film pantheon and I don't want to get hung up on it. But what I do want to do is suggest that as you write - model yourself after that shipbuilder (or playwright.) Think of each piece of your script, each scene, each act, as an indispensable part of the whole. The masts, the keel, the hull, the sails that help your film to float. Not only does each piece need to built with skill and care, but they must be built so that the finished product is a seamless whole.

And it's funny because as I write this film - shooting little pieces here and there as we can (the order of which primarily being based on who is available when and what locations we can get) I'm learning more about writing than I ever thought I would. It's a great, if humbling exercise.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Rehearsals today

I'm rehearsing today with two of my actors - Scott and Connie (character names again to protect the innocent.) I've got a good scene with them and want to spend some time - which I have NOTHING BUT at the moment and really make it work. I worked on the script the other day and opened it up. I was a little lost at where to go with it but it's turning into something good I suspect.

I also have another posting saved in "drafts" where I discuss how people learn - or don't learn - the craft of directing, but I haven't had time to finish it yet. I'll try to work on that tonight or this afternoon.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

the "Citizen Kane" of Gay Rhinoceros movies!

I was driving back from Santa Monica this morning and started thinking about this blog and realized I'm bordering on getting WAY TOO frigging serious. (And also I haven't been spell checking.) I mean indie film shouldn't be about being serious. I mean it's rock and roll - ROCK AND ROLL BABY!!!

Oh, for fuck's sake, did I really just write that? Am I actually going to hit that little publish button and let all of my hard-earned readers see what a dork I am? Yeah, probably. But wait - there's more... I haven't gotten to the gay rhinoceri yet.

Here's the thing - I mean, the thing is this: independent film really should be like rock and roll. Not rock and roll now where bands like Metallica - who used to be good - sue their fans over file sharing - but old time rock and roll - old time like the Sex Pistols and Ramones and sex and drugs and groupies and throwing TV sets out of windows and cutting up pieces of shark and... well never mind that...and dying from overdoses (all right, maybe not that part either) and about the music, man, it's all about the music! But if indepedent cinema is going to be anything these days it's going to have to break the rules and recreate the markert. I mean clearly the studio model isn't working - or does anyone really believe "Spiderman 2" deserved the money it earned (and yes I am breaking a rule here - I made a rule to myself that having been a filmmaker, a darn thin-skinned one at that, I wasn't going to criticize other people's movies (though I'm hearby making a caveat that exempts studio movies.))

Indie film has a chance to break out (break out in a way that it hasn't yet.) It has a chance to break out by being good at it's own thing. It has a chance to do that by making good films that people are interested in. There's only one problem and that is publicity - in other words, getting people to know about your film so they can go paste their eyeballs to it. Because it's possible to have a great movie and never get it seen. The problem is the way we see movies now - or more specifically the way movie wind up in front of our eyeballs.

Maybe the way we've been going around it has been wrong - in other words, making a film and trying to sell it to a distributor - or even using a distributor at all - and Blockbuster and all that - and hoping that some guy - or girl - who can distribute movie sees your movie and says, YES! Here is a movie I can sell without actually having to do any work (Because in a real sense that's why Blockbuster is FILLED with a thousand crapie horror/gang/nudie movies (no offense to the good horror/gang/nudie movies.))And maybe we should be looking for a different way. I mean isn't that really what the whole digital revolution is about? Isn't the real reason we don't have digital movie theaters in every mall because it means everyone with a DVD burner can become a distributor?

To be honest, I don't have an answer. I'm making a little film with no-budget with a bunch of friends I happen to know are great actors. And you should too. I don't know what will become of it - if it will play festivals or get distribution or maybe I'll show it at Burning Man, I don't know. But I think that however it gets seen it's going to be a different route. What's that expression? If the mountain won't go to Mohammed, Mohammed must go the mountain. We need to recreate the market - or create a different ROUTE to the market. And how do we do that? In the hip circles of academia it's what's called narrow-casting. You make a film that appeals to a very small, but focused group of fans - say, for instance afficianados of gay rhinoceros psychology.

Now - clearly gay rhinoceros psychology (oh - and by the way - I do see the all the Freudian subtext in the combination of "gay" and "rhinocers" (so that $400 I spent on an indie film "consultant" so he could tell me I had "homoerotic subtext" in my movie wasn't wasted - well not completely)) isn't an area of interest that spans across generations, but there may be a few fans of it. So lets say we make our movie and get it out, and sell a few DVDs and move on. But hang on - a few DVDs? That isn't going to cut it. Movies are expensive to make, no question there. And the only way we make our money back is with enough paying eyeballs and what if, as in this case, there really aren't that many paying eyeballs? The answer is you have to make it cheap. You need people to work for free, you need to shoot and direct and do craft service and act in the nude scene all by yourself if that's what it takes. And then you cut it on your Macintosh with Final Cut Pro and burn a few DVDs and get them out at whatever gay rhinoceros convention happens in your town. And if you persist you may eventually develop a fan base and sell a few more and eventually someone will write about your film (headlines will scream: the "Citizen Kane" of Gay Rhinoceros movies in a kind of hipper than thou way) and you'll get a little publicity and make a few more movies and you'll be a filmmaker. You might not be Steven Spielberg, but you could be Russ Meyer (minus the giant naked breasts - or with them if that's your thing) And then what will happen is that the studios will pick it up and they'll all start their own gay rhinoceros divisions and suck up all the screen space and... well never mind that. That's a few years down the road. - but what will happen is enough of us do this and talk it up people will start to LOOK for this stuff - and by people I mean people beyond the hordes of film geeks who look for it anyway (myself included) and then thing will change. And then...

...well then the rest is up to you. I'd tell you, but I'm already getting way to wordy for a webblog.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Film vs. video vs. camera vs. camera

There are so many things I want to write about here and having a 3-year-old daughter in the middle of potty training seems to leave very little time.

But - I'm going to write today about cameras and their lack of importance in the filmmaking process.

Really? Is he serious?

Think about it this way: Does someone who wants to start a radio station spend all his time worrying about what kind of microphones he's going to use, or does he worry about what he's going to put on the radio?

So often in the indie film magazines and the websites and the chat rooms I see filmmakers obsessing over the question of film or video or which camera to use (these days it's mostly the DVX100a or the XL2.) My answer is that it doesn't really matter because a camera isn't what you should focus on. True, the advent of video has made it that much easier to go out and make the film you want to make, and the acceptance of films on video is growing in certain circles. But all that means is that your options for making your film are increasing.

The reason you shouldn't worry about what you shoot with is because you should spend your time and energy worry about what you're going to shoot. I know this gets said time and time again, but spend the time on your script, spend the time working with actors - fine tune your craft. That goes for being the producer as well as the director because the truly great producers were often extremely creative people - people who worried about things like story and cast. Before you even begin to freak out about what camera to use - storyboard the whole damn thing (there's a good chance that will cause you to freak out in a totally different way.) But storyboarding, even if it's stick figures, is a hugely useful tool that will help you get the pacing of a film into your head and may actually lead you to re-write it. As a great example of this, once they have the whole film storyboarded, Pixar actaully then does a rough animation of the storyboard so they can start seeing the film as it will be. (This isn't a novel idea by they way, they got it from Disney who started doing it around the time of Snow White.) It's a lot easier to re-write a story board than a shot film. And then and only then, when you have the script nailed and the cast you want and maybe a little cash, just use the best damn camera you can afford. Your DP will probably be able to tell you what that is.

And the truth is - these days - by the time you're all done with that, the camera you were all worried about will probably be replaced by the next hottest thing. Did you know the boys in Japan are working hard on eliminating video tape?

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Of course on the day I announce...

Of course on the day I announce this blog to the various newsgroups blogger decides to do a few hours of maintenance. I guess it would have been nice to get a little warning.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

We fucked up, they got away...

I think a lot of people will remember that as a line from the movie "Scarface" with Al Pacino. It was a line spoken by a guy named Mike Moran who I got to know very briefly while working on a show called Wish You Were Here. It was a short-lived CBS sitcom starring a guy named Lew Schneider. I was thinking about Mike this morning - I'm not sure why - I think I heard something on the radio while I was driving that reminded me of Scarface and when I do, I always think of that line. Mike was working in the art department on Wish You Were Here and I was a PA - it was actually my first job. He was really nice to me (in fact everyone on that job was really nice to me,) and he told me at one point that he was an actor and had done Scarface. At the time, being young and naive, I couldn't imagine why anyone who had been in a movie that big would be slinging a hammer (as the expression goes - though more for grips than anyone else.) Now I understand that one small part doesn't make a career - but - at the time I didn't understand and moreover - I had no idea who he was in the film even though I'd seen it a dozen or more times. Then he spoke that line and it all came back - but what stuck with me most was how proud of that he was, and how happy he was with my reaction to it.

So why am I writing about Mike today? I looked him up on IMDB to see what he'd been doing since then and I discovered a long list of credits. He'd been working and since it didn't look like many of them were big parts, I suspect he kept swinging that hammer as well. And that makes me feel good. Because I knew at the time he loved being an actor. He loved doing it and he kept doing it. He persisted and was, at least when I knew him, a happy guy. I was sad to discover, when I looked him up, that he passed away last year. But it got me thinking about some of the other people I met and liked on that show - people who I now realize were very important to me. People like Norman Berns, a great Production Manager who I learned a lot from - he's on the various yahoo groups and is still offering advice. Bob Doran, another production guru who I worked for quite a bit after that, though I've lost touch with him. Bob Altman (not Robert Altman, but another journeyman director I've stayed in touch with) who actually brought me on to the job. We went to the same high school and had been introduced by Ted Stolar - our photography teacher who was a fabulous mentor to me. He's producing for Martha Stewart these days. Skip Lane, a former William Morris Agent turned Producer who later gave it all up to pursue a dream of running a golf course (I actually learned a lot about golf - and the industry - from him (and he introduced me to Paul McIlvane a brilliant gaffer/DP who lent me his Bolex one weekend to shoot my first short (which remains in a box in my closet and will never see the light of day.))) Steve Bawol, a writer I've lost touch with, though I heard he was living in Paris. Lew Schneider, who was the star of the show and went on to Exec. Produce (and write) Everybody Loves Raymond - after a brief stop hosting on a kid's game show that my brother actually won $1000 dollars on as a 12-year-old. And Leanne Drum, a fellow PA who actually helped me land my first PA job in Los Angeles when I decided to make the plunge and who wound up as the Music Supervisor on my first film. She's off to graduate school now. Ruth who taught me to drive stick shift one day, Jackie, an assistant director who was wonderful to me and taught me and I think I kind of flirted with, Kathleen Phelan who I still think about and others.

It's funny, now that I think about it, how all those people touched my life and it's funnier still how a random thought caused me reflect upon them. It was a rare occurence for me, that show, all those people. I was young(er) and eager to learn, I was an open book and they were all more than willing to help me fill the pages. There are not a lot of opportunities in this business like that, so I would encourage anyone who happens to read this to take advantage of them. Listen, learn and most importantly stay in touch with everyone.

That is, unfortunately, advice I lost sight of for a while. But I'm back at it now. There's always something you can learn and there are always benefits to having friends. I hope, at the time, I gave them back even a little of what they gave me. There is not enough of that in the film business.

I'll bet you never thought a posting that started with, "We fucked up, they got away..." would end this way. I guess I needed a little pep talk from myself this morning.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Writing advice from a friend

I had lunch with a writer friend the other day. He's had a successful career - and continues to do so. I was discussing an idea I had for a TV pilot with him and he said, I like the idea, but let me ask you a question that I hear all the time - what's the franchise?

In other words - the idea I had was unique and sexy, but how do you drive it as a series? Where do 13 episodes - or 32 or 50 - come from? What drives the story in a way that really makes sense? And what makes sense and fits in with your premise? It seems simple, but I'd never really thought of it that way.

Friday, April 15, 2005

I've decided to expand the reach of this

When I first started this I intended only to discuss the making of Grande Con Carne - a little DV film I've started with a group of actor friends. But I've decided I can do a lot of good with this since I'm pretty versed in so many areas of filmmaking - primarily production and I am constantly discovering new things and ways to do things as I progress though this project and others.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The DVD thing

I've had a lot of people ask me about DVDs - and for DVDs as my demo reel. DVDs are great but every time I send one out there's a little kernel of doubt in the back of my mind/gut because DVD-R is still an imperfect technology. I've done a lot of research into it - I'm also producing a DVD for a video I did for a non-profit - and this is what I've discovered.

There are two ways to make a DVD.
The first is called DUPLICATION.
The second is called REPLICATION.

Duplication is in essence the same as burning a DVD on you computer at home. They're done on DVD-R and you can make any numbers from 1 to infinity. The problem with them is they may not play on everyone's machine. Or they may play imperfectly. Though most of the companies out there who make them will tell you they are 99% compatible - all you need is to hand your reel to someone who has an old DVD player and you lost the job. Why? Because some DVD players were made without the ability to play DVD-Rs. Which ones? Who knows. Additionally, some DVD players may be able to play TDK brand discs and not, say, Memorex. Also - if you burn them at home on your DVD burner, your burner may be able to handle Ritek, but not, say, Verbatim (though I think Verbatim is one of the more compatible brands out there.)

Replication tends to eliminate this problem - though I've heard even replicated discs are not 100% compatible with all DVD players - but you have to make, generally speaking, a minimum of 1000 discs. The way replication works is - your DVD file (called a Video_TS file) is recorded onto a DLT tape (two tapes if you're making a double layer disc (more than 4.7GB). A glass master is then made of your DVD and the discs are then made from that glass master. This eliminates the compatibility problem, but is much more expensive due to the numbers involved. And that's it.

Oh - an if you thinking that media companies will have state of the art gear - remember - there are still companies out there with 3/4 inch decks in their conference rooms.

Those are the basics of DVD production. So go to it.

I've got to get some replicated and get back to WRITING - and shooting.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

And speaking of the Joseph Campbell thing...

I realize that Joseph Campbell is kind of screenwriter/ filmmaker cliche. I mean there's a picture of Luke Skywalker on the cover of Hero With a Thousand Faces for crying out loud (as my Mom used to say.) But there's a depth to Campbell that goes far beyond Hero. Even beyond The Power of Myth, which is the Bill Moyers interview with him that basically amounts to a Reader's Digest version of Campbell, there is a tremendous depth to his work and reading his stuff always get the synapses in my brain firing at an incredible pace. Right now I'm reading The Masks of God: Oriental Mythology, which is part 2 of a four part series. It's pretty rich stuff - not light reading at all. But there is insight in it and even when he's talking about civilizations that are thousands of years old. And most of all - most relevant for the world of film - it's really all about stories. Especially the first book, Primitive Mythology, which is about story at is most primal level.

Talking with the Union

I started talking with the Union the other day. I'm a member of 600 the Cinematographer's guild - and it's becoming less and less relevant to my life these days. Basically over the last two or three years I've made just enough money on union jobs to pay my dues. Breaking even is not something I aspire to. Though I am reluctant to drop out. I worked hard to get in and if I ever get the chance to shoot it would be important. You never know?

And I watched The Shield last night. I still think it's the best show on TV right now. It's still a cop show, but at least there's some depth to it - and there is actually a story beyond the "current murder investigation." To me it's far, far closer to something like the Sopranos (which, as an Italian-American I must note that I feel somewhat conflicted about liking or having liked - no matter how much that let's-shoot-the-Russian-in-the-head-then-have-him-run-off-into-the-woods-and-never-mention-him-ever-again shit drove me crazy (though not really that much)) than Law and Order or CSI.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Took time off of Grande for what

Oh - further to the point of my scattered mind. I took time away from this to write a pilot that I have the opportunity to get to ESPN and Showtime. So I wrote that - got notes on it - and now I'm rewriting that.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

well I'm back

It's been a while since I posted - and a while since we shot. I've had so much going on I haven't really had time to work on the script though I am convinced this film will be my salvation.

Two big things happening.

I interviewed with a group of guys down in OC for a job directing a little straight to video horror film. It's small, low-budget, and the script needs work but it has some great potential. If they hire me - they're looking at 5 other guys (damn) they seem open to rewriting.

And I'm writing another script. I know, I know, I should be working on this one - Grande - but this is my problem. My brain pigns around from idea to idea and I have to sit and work on it - or at least crank out a draft to see if it's worth pursuing or not. Someday I should go through my Final Draft documents and see how many of those there are. But this is a good one - I think - it's a good idea, can be done cheap and sexy and that's what I'm looking for.

in the land of Grande - I do have an idea to finish the script - to get even a jump on the script - for a bridge between acts. I have an idea to tie together the fragments I have. Now if I only had time to work on it.

And in other news - a 30 second PSA I directed (and shot) for a non-profit called Futures for Children starts to air in New York and San Francisco this week. Sweet.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Just wondering

What the hell is going on with IFC. I was flipping through the guide last night and saw Dr. T and the Women listed for them. Hardly what I would call an indie.

Just wondering

What the hell is going on with IFC. I was flipping through the guide last night and saw Dr. T and the Women listed for them. Hardly what I would call an indie.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

More writing - more distractions

Sigh. The toughest thing about writing for me is that I'll be going along at a pretty nice clip - the ideas flowing, the dialogue popping, the scenes crackling - at least I THINK they are. In any case I'll be going along and I'll think of something that pops another idea and gets me thinking about a new idea for a new script and I want to take off on that. Right now I have 4 scripts going and I just wrote a treatment for another one. Man - I need to learn to focus!!! How do you do that - how do you have time to write all the ideas you have.

I think actually what happens is that most of them are just not that good - evidence the endless list of unfinished scripts I have.


Still working on this one - still in love with this one - still - still - still great ideas.

I got a call from Marco yesterday who was concerned that his performance was bnot 100% - he felt. But I thought he did great for what we were doing - no rehearsals, no prep time and way too much fucking around on set. I'm definitely encouragd enough to keep him in the script.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

The redesign gets me cranking...

Apple has redesigned the power adapters for the laptops. The first one I had would get so hot that it would almost burn your hand. Surprise, surprise, it didn't last out the warranty.The second one got hot - but not as - but the cable wore out where it connects to the transformer. The third one stays quite cool and has a reinforcement where the cable connects to the transformer.

So I'm back and running and, in fact, blogging from there.

The Script, the script!!!!

I have a great idea to incorporate into it but I can write about it here because of my insane superstition that if I tell the story before I write it I won't write it.

Good stuff though - I got the idea listening to Art Bell.

It's funny, it's hard working on it since the whole thing took a big left turn. Or right turn, maybe it was a right turn. In any case it's getting better, but I'm having to work out things and indeed things are being worked out.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

the script doesn't move


The power adapter for my iBook is shot I ordered a new one and they're back ordered or something and I only have a few hours charge on the ibook - which is where the script lives. So I have to wait. This is the second adapter for this ibook - the first was under warranty. This one isn't.


Monday, January 03, 2005

The script moves

Did I mention that I hate the name of this blog. Can I change it? Hmmm.

I worked on the script today for the first time since just after we shot. It's a challenge fitting what we did that first weekend into what we're doing now. The whole character of the thing is changing and apart from the humor and sexiness of the whole thing I have to tell the story - which is taking shape in my head - with free locations, no stunts, minimal wardrobe and all the rest of it.

Of course I can't tell you the story now - because if I do then it's told and I won't be able to write it. One of my old Journalism school superstitions.

It's funny too because since we're all doing this for love and fun I feel I have to check with some of my actors before I write certain things. I checked with Sarah before I wrote the shower scene and of course, she suggested doing it naked which was fine with me. Have I mentioned that? It was all in the blur of the first weekend. It wasn't really that big a deal - I'd seen her naked before (At Burningman - please keep your mind out of the gutter, one of use there is more than enough.)