Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A Nice Movie

I watched a nice little movie last night. It was called, The World's Fastest Indian with Anthony Hopkins. I've had it on the Netflix list for a while but given that my Netflix list tends to be fairly long it sometimes takes me a while to get to things. But I finally got it and saw it and really liked it. It's a nice little movie and I have no memory of it being in theaters. I wonder how it did and if it was able to make it's money back on DVD. The Indian in question is actually a motorcycle, though there is an actual Indian that's not what it's about. Anyway - check it out. Anthony Hopkins does a good job, though his Kiwi accent sounds oddly like his English accent.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Can't Find My Way Home

It's funny the way things pop into my head. I was driving to Target last night around 9:30 listening to the radio and "Can't Find My Way Home" by Blind Faith came on. It's a beautiful, haunting song and it always reminds me of what is probably one of my all time favorite movies (because it's in the movie.) It's a movie that got me all misty when I first saw it - a movie that has inspired and awed me - a movie that...

What is it? Hang on - I'll bet it's one that very few of you have heard of. It stars - are you ready - Kevin Costner, Judd Nelson and Sam Robards and was directed by Kevin Reynolds. It also stars Marvin J. Mc Intyre.

Now - before I give this one away - let me first point out that Kevin and Kevin are the pair responsible for Waterworld as well as Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves.


Here's another hint - it was produced by Amblin Entertainment - Steven Spielberg's company.

Give up?

It's called Fandango. And if you do anything else this weekend go out and rent this movie. You will be floored - well, that's if you're a guy. I think it's a guy film. Almost every guy I've ever watched this movie with gets blown away by it while the female reaction is somewhat more tepid.

Anyway - as I was driving along listening to Blind Faith, I kind of had a realization and it troubled me. Fandango is a movie we're unlikely to see again. That is to say, under our current tent-pole driven, multiplex-hogging studio system, it's a film we're unlikely to see again. It's stars were not really stars at the time (Judd Nelson had fallen from his Brat Pack high and Costner was an unknown.) It doesn't fall into an easily exploited genre and it's emotional rather that action-packed. So it's not a studio film. It isn't controversial and it isn't deeply introspective to the point of confusion so it's not one the indie players would likely grab hold of either. It probably would not play well on the festival circuit (though I think it would be an audience favorite) because most programmers wouldn't be attracted to it and it wouldn't get shown. Yet it is an emotionally powerful and uplifting film about a group of guys on the cusp of adulthood going to dig up a long lost "friend." It's the kind of film that anyone who sees it would say, "that's the kind of film I want to make." And yet today - it appears unmakeable.

And it occurred to me last night as I was driving in my car that maybe movies really are dying as an art form - as George Lucas has recently declared (though after the last three Star Wars "epics" I understand why he might think so.) But maybe not. Maybe - as I've said before - things are just changing.

I read an interesting article in Reason Online a few weeks ago about beer in America (Reason is a libertarian magazine - and for those of you who don't understand what that means, it's about free minds and free markets (something which I'm not really sure the movie industry is all about.)) Here's a quote from it - see if you can make the connection:

In 1980, good American beer was on the brink of extinction. Our most popular brands—Bud, Miller, Coors—were the laughingstocks of the world. Our brewing heritage had been all but stamped out, with hundreds of formerly thriving regional breweries gone. There were a few pockets of resistance, such as Anchor Brewing in San Francisco, but the days of decent American beer seemed to be over.

Sound familiar? The point of the article was that while the economies of scale had driven the small breweries out of business and beer into a bland, tasteless funk, there was still a taste - a desire - in this country for beer that was well made - for beer that had body and taste and quality and thus - the American micro brew explosion happened.

And so it occurred to me last night as I was listening to "Can't Find My Way Home" that we might be in those dark ages of post-prohibition America when beer was watery, tasteless and lacking substance. It occurred to me that we might be at the beginning of a microbrew - micro-film - explosion and I wondered where it would come from. Who would make the films is obvious but who would fund them, who would distribute them? Maybe YouTube is the answer, maybe it's a MySpace thing, maybe - just maybe - Apple will open up iTunes to people with little films to sell - to people like all those friends I made at film festivals with wonderful little films - the kinds of films that are seen by people - the kinds of films that cause them to say - now why don't they make films like these anymore?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

24 hours of TV for THAT????

Granted I'm a little slow on the uptake here but my wife and I just spent a few weeks watching the entire first season of 24. And I'm pissed, though it may be a symptom of watching a whole television series like it was a movie.

Now, first let me say that I really liked most of the series. It seems to fall somewhere between a James Bond movie and the X-Files. I'm not a big fan of Bond, but I was of X, and I have to say were it not for the season finale of 24 Season 1 - I would be of this.

Here's my problem (and in case you're as remedial as I am in your television watching, consider this a SPOILER alert. ) The season runs it's course, Jack's family is in danger, they're out of danger, Jack's going to kill Senator Palmer, he saves senator Palmer, Jack's family is BACK in danger, Jack's still going to kill Senator Palmer... Up, down, up down, suspense, suspense, suspense, minor resolution, more suspense, more suspense, more suspense. They did a pretty good job of it. Sure there were a few things that strained credulity, but what the hell, it a TV show.

Then they get to the last episode and we're on a roller coaster ride to a happy ending.

Then they kill Jack's wife - OFF CAMERA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I mean WTF????????????? Number one, they killed a sympathetic character. Number two it was the story telling version of being raped. (Hey, we've gotten you this far, 24 hours of edge of your seat television down the road and just when you've fallen in love with these characters and just when you thought it was going to turn out well, F.U. I mean if we were writing it, Luke Skywalker wouldn't have blown up the Death Star and Leia would have been killed by Chewbacca. ) AND They did it off camera. God damnit. Talk about an anti-climax.

Then again, it could turn out to be like the moment Bruce Wayne's family is killed thus turning him into Batman.

I'll probably watch Season 2.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Posting Has Been Slow

Posting has been slow of late, not, I realize, that it's ever been brisk. But having a new child along with all the other things I do that keep me in the lavish lifestyle I'm used to living have taken it's toll on my writing time. And it's taken it's toll on my thinking time - which is what leads to writing.

Actually, I've been wanting to blog about a TV series - long canceled that I'd heard about and Netflixed on DVD called Wonderfalls. It was great - really a nice little quirky series that was well done but alas didn't fit into the current reality/cop/lawyer/doctor show that fills television these day.

I'm also watching the first season of 24 which I was resistant to watch though now I'm hooked.

I sent out a couple of DVDs the other day and they vanished in the mail. It's not the first time this has happened, though this time the envelope and cover letter actually made to the addressee, just the DVDs were missing.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Sleep, sleep, I need sleep

Sleep... new baby in the house - need sleep... arrgghhhh...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Conversation I'm hearing

I've always been an eavesdropper. I love to listen to conversations in public places. I've always been like this every before my play writing teacher in college told us this was a good way to learn dialogue - to learn how people talk.

So right now I'm in a coffee shop - my favorite coffee shop - a WRITER'S coffee shop (if the number of people I see in here writing screenplays is any indication,) and I'm listening to a conversation at the next table. Actually I'm trying to avoid listening, but they are fairly loud and I keep hearing words like "enema"(made even weirder because one of them is gorgeous.) Turns out they are two midwives and they are chatting about their weekly cases. It's fascinating to hear the words that they use and the way they use them - their professional banter. I'm sure I'll get to use it sometime but who knows when.

By the way - TWO MORE friends are leaving. My neighbor, who is a camera assistant, is packing it in and heading home and a friend of mine who has been trying to produce for the last few years is moving to San Francisco, though that may be a lateral move. Certainly it'll be more interesting than L.A. In any case, two more bite the dust.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Should this make me feel better???

The other night I was flipping channels, actually, since we have Directv I was paging through the guide and I saw a tantalizing entry on Showtime. Actually, it might not have been Showtime itself, it might have been The Movie Channel, but given that they are part of one cuddly media conglomerate I'm going to lump them together.

Now - a little backstory. Back when I finished my first film I decided it would be a good idea to head up to Sundance and press the flesh a little. So as I'm riding the shuttle up from SLC, I start chatting up one of my fellow passengers and it turns out he's the acquisitions guy for Showtime and he asks about my film. I tell him and he says, "We love William Katt," (who is in my film) "send it to me," he says.

So I did. Months later I was given a call by someone's assistant's assistant and was told that they were passing. No explanation, just a pass. Thanks, but no thanks. (did I mention I'd received this call after months of calling them (after a suitable waiting period?))

Then comes the other night and I'm flipping around as I mentioned and come across this tantalizing entry:

The Witches of Breastwick.

Now given that I tend, on occasion, to write with my tongue firmly implanted in my cheek, I should pause for a moment to explain that NO that is NOT a JOKE.

Well, there was no way I could let a film like that pass without at least taking a gander at it. You know? And so I did.

Now I understand porn - BELIEVE me, I understand porn. And I understand that there's a place for porn (soft core) on Showtime - heck - I think that's where my 2nd film wound up. I understand porn. But this was - - uh - - it was - - uh - -

Look - let me put it this way. I've watched some serious crap in my life because there was some naked on screen. (I mean I've actually sat through the dialogue of Dr. Penetration (mmm, this is worth three more dollars...for those of you who know - you know...)) But... well, I think I finished the remained of the hour watching Good Eats on the Food Network.

So my question is, should it make me feel better or worse that this network turned down my film?

Friday, July 14, 2006

Another Friend Has Hit The Road

It seems like one by one all my friends from my first years in Hollywood are packing it in and heading out of town. Though the story with this one is a little different in that he's kept a job here that he's going to try to wrangle long-distance, the song remains, essentially the same. Worked at it for years, struggling, trying, making an OK living and striving for something greater only to sit back and realize you're getting to that point where you start to worry that if you haven't made it yet, you're never going to make it.

I kind of reel like the old man in "Ran" watching his sons, get swept up in their own ambitions and leave him in that burning tower in the fortress. All right, fine, it's not a perfect parallel, in fact it's a pretty weak one at best, BUT it just shows where my mind is at. Here I am thinking about, pondering about the great beyond (so to speak) and I'm seeing Japanese Films in my head.

Speaking of what a film geek I am, I watched "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" and could help feeling that it was a rip off of "Star Wars" (which of course got me thinking about "Hidden Fortress " which is the Akira Kurosawa (who also directed Ran, which is why I thought of this now) movie they say Lucas ripped off for Star Wars, though I've seen it and DON'T know what the fuck THEY are talking about) Harry Potter and the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy. The irony of course is that the Chronicles of Narnia predate all of those, except for Lord of the Rings which was actually contemporary (CS and JRR were amigos) to it. And really what that got me thinking about was Joseph Campbell (who I was introduced to by another friend who hit the road (and is doing rather well, actually)) and "The Hero With A Thousand Faces," (also another alleged inspiration for Star Wars, though I think this one actually makes a lot of sense.) Which I've decided, given my current script writing pains, I need to read again.

Also - I found out that the Maltese Falcon was a REMAKE. Apparently nothing was ever sacred.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Syd is Dead

Well, this isn't film related but Syd Barrett is dead. Obit here. He was the founder and legendary "Crazy Diamond" of Pink Floyd, a band I was once a huge fan of. I still basicly am, though my fandom pretty much stops with, or really after, "The Final Cut" (other Floyd geeks out there will understand what I'm talking about.) Anyway, Syd pretty much fried his brains with drugs and drifted off into the mist leaving the remaining members (David Gilmour essentially came in to replace him) to go on to become the band that they were before "A Momentary Lapse of Reason" (which was, for all intents and purposes a David Gilmour Solo album.) He's been a kind bizarre, cult figure for years and has inspired legions - well several - mainstream artists.

In other news, being the superstitious moron that I am (or it could just be a mild case of OCD - as I always put my left shoe on first)) I have some things I may (or may not) be working on that I can't talk about yet - which makes it hard to build any kind of suspense into this riveting blog - but I am hoping to be able to reveal soon.

And - well this isn't my news, but I happy about it anyway - my friend - who I wrote about here - has gotten a writing job on a mid-season replacement show with Stanley Tucci. I should be jealous as hell, but oddly I'm not.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Apparently my Asking Price was Too high

Actually - there was no price involved. I was asked to review a film called The Edge of Outside and I said, Sure - love to! but haven't gotten a copy yet. I think it's going to run on TCM fairly soon, so I guess I'm out of luck.

I should have sold out long ago to that fetish porn production company that wanted me to provide good review snippets for their films.

Anyway there was a great article about how Chaos theory applies to Hollywood in the LA Times magazine (otherwise called, in a fit of creative genius, "West.") Read it here.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Have I sold out?

Well, not quite yet, though if someone is willing to pull out their check book, I'm more than happy to quote a price. In the meantime I've become part of the internet marketing machine - I've been asked to review a movie. Unfortunately, it's not a studio tent-pole, CGI flick - something I'd REALLY have fun reviewing (read with evil chuckle) but in fact is a documentary about Indie filmmakers, something I'm actually really interested in - which means I'll actually pay attention and won't write anything snarky and dismissive. Anyway, I'm waiting for the DVD now and when I see it you can be sure - being the Journalism Bachelor of Arts that I am - that it will be an honest and at least - capably written review. There's also a press release involved and some pictures, all of which I'll save for the review.

In other news, the Onion has published a list of 10 Movies it's OK to Hate and while I agree with some of them, Network, Caddyshack (yes - I'll admit it, I just don't like that movie) The Big Lebowski, Roger and Me, some of them seem a little picky and they downright just missed some. Of course their list seems based on popular rather than, say the AFI Top 100 - though holy crap - I went over to AFI.com to see what was on the list and it turns out they have 11 lists. There are 11 Top 100 lists - and they also list the 400 nominees for most of the list. Does it sound like someone couldn't make up their minds?

Anyway, it's an interesting list and the accompanying pros and cons are fun to read.

Friday, June 09, 2006


I'm deep into this script I'm re-writing and I'm struggling with it. There's a lot of story waiting to burst out and there's an awkward transition I'm working with/ on, but I need to get a draft out. I need to lay the foundation before I can put up the house. The transitional problem is all mine, though I think it was inherent in the original draft. It's - and I'm loathe to use this term - a kink in the main character's "arc." Plus I feel I've veered away from something really important in the story, but I can't go back to that until I get this draft done.

How's that for cryptic.

But I'm actually really enjoying this script. I really like the characters because I see something of myself in them. Or maybe I'm just good at seeing things from their point of view.

Dave, if you're listening, you did a much better job with this than I originally thought. I hope you like what I'm doing with it.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I'm a Country Music fan - I think


So I just got back from Las Vegas where I was shooting some behind-the-scenes-kind-of of video at the Country Music Awards. I was in a big room with a ton of radio stations set up and for two days the stars came in and walked from station to station doing interviews - and I shot it. Now, having listened to country music on a few car trips - when it was pretty much all you could get on radio - and knowing virtually no one in county music before I did this I have to say I wasn't really sure what to expect, but I had a fantastic time. The stars were wonderful - and actually looked like they were really happy to be there. And man were they working the room. There were big names who talked to 40 radio stations in about 4 hours. It was amazing. They were friendly, nice, no attitudes and no - for the most part - people. That's right - there were fairly big names cruising around with no entourages. Heck, I was standing in line at Starbucks in the MGM Grand and there were country music stars in line with me - ordering their own coffee. Astounding.

I - and a friend - spent a few minutes chatting with Brad Paisley (who's a big name in Country) about the Sci Fi show "Ghost Hunters."

So then when I got home I watched the actual award show and I have to say there was some pretty damn good music. I even downloaded a song from iTunes (Boondocks - by Little Big Town) and I'm looking for a few others.


Friday, May 19, 2006

Deep into the Re-write

I had a great meeting yesterday with the assistant of a manager I've been trying to get in touch with. She was really nice and we got along great. I'm hoping the door stays open.

In other news I'm deep into this re-write. It's funny because the more I get into it the tougher it is - not because I'm finding more problems, quite the opposite in fact, I'm finding more opportunities. This script started out with a great story and great characters and as I dug in and added structure and re-wrote dialogue the characters felt like they were jumping off the page and trying to write the thing themselves - which to me is fantastic - the hard part is containing them. The hard part is keeping them on track toward the actual end of the story. They want to spin off in their own direction, which, if I were writing from scratch would be great - but since there's an ending I have to get to with them, I have to keep them - and myself - focused.

More later.

Monday, May 15, 2006

What's up with the Brokeback Mafia?

I don't really have any comment here, but I've been watching the Sopranos and the Brokeback Mafia thing popped into my head.

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Re-Write

Wow - I'm working on a re-write. It's a first for me - not re-writing a script - I re-write mine all the time, but re-writing someone else's script. It's wild - a whole different experience but I'm really excited about it. It was written by a friend of mine and it's his true story, but he's not a writer, so while it's a great story it needs a bit of structure and some dialogue and character development. Though it's interesting because all of that's in the story already it just isn't in the script, if you understand what I mean. Or maybe I'm reading all of that into it.

Anyway it's a challenge, but a fun one. In a way I'm breaking down the script as a director would and then putting it back together with needle and thread. The big dilemma I had in starting was do I attack the actual file and cut and paste it in shape or just start out with a whole new blank page and re-type some stuff as I re-write others.


Monday, May 08, 2006

The Firefox Spot Redux

So the Firefox spot is finally up.

Click on the pic to navigate to it. It's funny because I'm not sure how many people actually get the joke. They used to have comments on the posts but they seem to have removed that. Anyway - enjoy.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Firefox ad

It's been a while but I've been busy. Firefox has been having an ad contest and I did one with my friends, Steve, Bob and Juliette. It was a lot of fun and now we're just waiting around to see it get posted on their site.

The spot was fun and it's a bit racy, but in a very subtle way. I'm curious to see what the response is once it's up. Its title is "The Way it was Meant to Be." Look for it here and check out some of the competition.

I also cut a piece for the Grammy footage I shot. That was fun because it was celebrity stuff and I'd shot some good stuff.

Well, back to the grindstone - waiting to here from an agent's assistant about a meeting and waiting for a script from a friend that I'm going to work on and waiting for an option from a writer who's short story I fell in love with. And editing and writing and just trying to have a life.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Shield, a plea and a Hustle

I am continually impressed by "The Shield." The writing, the acting and the directing on it is superb and if there's any chance that anyone with any kind of a producing credit on that show is reading this I just want to take a moment here to beg for the chance to direct even 2nd unit. I actually fell in love with this show the first season it aired because it's about characters. In fact it's the only cop show, currently on the air where the plots focuses on characters as opposed to the killing of the week. I'm also extremely impressed with how they've taken a character who is basically a bad dude and made you root for him. The Sopranos did the same thing but the Shield takes it to a whole new level. The Sopranos also kind of fell victim to the occasional episode where you watched it and then said, "what the fuck was that about?" They also let plots drift away - or am I the only who's hoping to see the Russian Christopher and Paulie shot in the woods re-appear this season? Anyway, the Shield - Please, please, please hire me.

Also, I've been on DVD kick. We've watched recently, Crash, March of the Penguins, Sullivan's Travels (1942), Wedding Crashers, The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Hustle and Flow.

It's been a good run. I have great things to say about all these films though some I liked better than others. I think my two favorites were Wedding Crashers and Hustle and Flow, which was a movie I knew virtually nothing about before putting the disc in the machine, but I really related to it.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Reading and the Oscars

The Academy Awards always kill me. I have to watch them yet they're somewhat painful as a reminder of how far I still have to go. I was pretty pleased to see Crash win best picture. Not that I was rooting for it above all the others, but because it's the only one of the bunch that I've actually seen. I intend to see the others, I've just been too busy.

I did like Crash though. It was a powerful film.

Busy doing - readin' and 'riting and 'rithmetic... Quite literally. I've gotten a ton of emails pitching scripts so I'm trying to get through all of those. I'm working on one or two scripts of my own - one that I'm on a re-write of and one that's still in treatment form. AND doing my F******* taxes.

Oh - and I'm trying to prep some spec spots. Anyone know where I can get a 16 mm (preferably Super 16) for free?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

A Deluge of Stories


So the entry I included below looking for stories hasn't exactly yielded an avalanche of letters, but I posted the same notice at moviebytes.com (a site devoted to writing and writing contests) and the response have been overwhelming. I've gotten so many emails that I can't even keep up with responding to tell them that I'm swamped and it will take me a while to get through them all.

So far I haven't found what I'm looking for, but I've only read through a handful of them.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The First Movie

I took my daughter to see her first movie in a movie theater this weekend. We went to see Curious George. I think she enjoyed it, though I have a feeling I was far more excited about it than she was.

Also, I have to say it was the perfect movie for her tender age and I'm glad it was her introduction to the theater. It was also my first trip back to the cinema in quite some time, though that really has to do more with the cost of babysitters than anything else.

Is it any wonder that studios aren't making movies for people my age? Ah well, I'm sure I griped about it in the past, it just never occured to me that it was a smart move on their part.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Searching for Screenplays

By the way, I should mention here that I'm searching for screenplays. Actually I'm searching for screenplays, stage plays, short stories, un-optioned novels, anything I can turn into a movie. I write myself, but the process is sometimes slow and I'm chomping at the bit to have a script I can run with.

What I'm looking for, or at least what I tell people, is I'm looking for my Pulp Fiction. In other words I'm looking for a good script with great characters and a good story that transcends genre.

That shouldn't be too tough to find. Right?

No, seriously, what I'm looking for is something that's interesting and a little different. Genre doesn't matter, though I've been told by more than one person that the whole Horror wave has gone back out to sea in a fast, sucking rip tide.

One thing I don't want it straight drama. Unless it's twisted.

Twisted is good.

Anyway, if you have something shoot me an email at: director1229@mac.com (that's a different email address than the BLOG email.) Give me a log line and maybe a little description. Budget range should be under $10 million.

Oh and I have no money to actually pay for anything, so I'm looking for something I can option either free or very cheap in order to get it made. I'm more than willing to make up for a stingy option with a decent purchase price, should we get it off the ground.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Just spent a few days doing a little press-junket style shooting backstage at the Grammys. It was pretty cool. I'm not generally over-awed by meeting celebrities, I've worked with too many to get really crazy over it, but I have to say, it was pretty cool meeting Herbie Hancock.

I also realized, after meeting Fall Out Boy (a few minutes after I first heard of them,) that I need to start hitting iTunes a bit more.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Just a Thought

Am I the only one who wonders if he'll ever make it big enough to be listed in the obituaries in Variety?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Social Welfare State Hard at Work


Positive Development

Well here's a positive development. According to The Independent, a UK newsrag, John Lasseter, the Pixar guru recently named as head of Disney Animation, has axed Toy Story 3. The story is that Disney had put 100 writers and animators on the job in opposition to Pixar which did not what to dillute the franchise with crappy sequels. Though I suspect those 100 writers and animators may have a different opinion, this looks like Pixar is going to stay true to course.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Pixar Crawls into the Mouse Hole

Wow. Steve Jobs on the board of Disney. Pixar employees cashing checks from the mouse.

That can only mean one of two things. Either Disney is going to start putting out remarkably better product or Pixar is going to make The Santa Claus Part 5.

I wonder when Disney will try to renegotiate contracts with Pixar employees.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Savages are Becoming Cannibals

Well, Soderbergh and IFC have announced that they will release films simultaneously in theaters and on DVD (or in IFC's case on their channel.) Regal Cinemas, which is a major nationwide chain, has said they won't show Soderbergh's film in their theaters. Why would they? I haven't heard if they're going to do the same thing with IFC, which has said it will release it's next 24 films that way, but I wouldn't be at all surprised.

I think that a requirement for running a film studio should be that you have to spend a year running a small business. You should have to actually live in the real world of supply and demand.

Think about this - you bust your ass to get a small business loan and buy a franchise - say KFC and then bust your ass to build up your business so you can make a living. THEN KFC opens it's own store across the street and starts selling it's chicken cheaper.

I mean what do they think is going to happen????? It's called cannibalizing your market.

Producers need theaters- if not for the billions of dollars that are actually made that way each year - then for the publicity value alone. If you CANNIBALIZE your audience something's going to hurt. If Toyota made the Prius and another compact sized hybrid car for around the same price then what would happen? They wouldn't sell twice the number of cars, they'd sell the same number, but half of each. The cost of producing each line would rise (no economies of scale) and the profit margin would SHRINK. Unless they raised the price in which case that hybrid Honda makes might start looking pretty good.

It's funny the way Hollywood/ Entertainment is thought of as a unique business. In the real world if a product doesn't sell, it doesn't get put on the shelves. In Hollywood if a product doesn't sell it must be the audience that's changing and different shelves are looked for. It's really just a shifting of blame in a world where performance has nothing to do with promotion. I mean think about it - everything that's coming out of the major mouths of Hollywood these days relates to: "Ticket sales are down - DVD's leveling off - the AUDIENCE is changing." I mean even detroit EVENTUALLY figured out that no one was buying their cars because they were making crappy cars. But then there were businessmen running the car companies.

Try this one on for size: People want cars that get better gas mileage - Instead - maybe we can get everyone to live closer together so they don't have to drive as far.

Now while I'll admit that I rarely darken the doorstep of my local multi-plex it has more to do with the stage of life I'm at rather than the easy availability of DVDs (made all the more available by Netflix.) I mean home video began years ago and I think I probably watched the same number of movies on VHS as I have on DVD. Sure those DVDs look better but do I really need the 10 minutes of crap they scrape together for most of them? (Do I really NEED (really, really NEED) the director's commentary on "Stealth?") But if I could afford to go to a movie theater (meaning, baby sitter, dinner, theater tickets) I would do it every every weekend.

As it stands I still do pine for a darkened room filled with people (as long as they realize they aren't sitting at home in their living room and that pointing lasers at the screen doesn't really mean they're touching Julia Roberts...) So this news of simultaneous release saddens my heart. It will eventually cause the theatrical market to shrink causing studios to raise the price of DVDs so they can make their money and it will eventually make it that much harder for independent films to find an audience because who's going to buy a DVD without Jennifer Aniston's smiling face on the cover?? And I mean, she can only do so many films in a year.

In fact the indies are going to be the first ones that get burned by this. From a practical point of view, if I owned a theater chain, I'd tell IFC to go fuck themselves when they came knocking on my door to show their movies. And a year from now when they realize that they're not making the same money they used to, because HBO has no interest in buying a film that's played 75 times IFC and they come back to me (Mr. Theater owner, desperate for a screening time) I'm probably going to say, "Maybe it's time we sat down and talked about the percentages again..."

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Currently Listening To... a Soundtrack in my head.

Sometimes when I direct scenes - or visualize scenes in my head I have a soundtrack running. I do this when I write too. I find that a song will set a mood or a tempo even if it really has nothing to do with the material at hand. It's mostly the music. It probably goes along nicely with my idea that a film is like a Symphony. It's a long an complicated theory about how each musician has his own skill that lends to the overall voice, the way individual technicians, actors etc have their own skills that lend to the overall voice of the film. There's a whole lot more too it, but being as I've had the SAME DAMN COLD for two months now, I really don't know that I can put it together coherently enough.

Oddly, though I frequently have music playing in my head, I'm not really good at writing with music on in reality - though I can tune it out, so to speak - while I'm working at Java Man - the little coffee shop I frequent at the beach. See - no coherency to this at all.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A New One and An Old Superstition

I started a new script, though I'm not going to talk about this one. I have a writing superstition that started while I was a journalism major in college. Thusly: if I talk about a story I'm writing then it's already been told and I am no longer able to write it. I used to think it was really just a cop out for when I got lazy and didn't want to write, but it seems to have a strange reality to it.

Anyway, on to other things.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Revenge of the Sith

I finally watched Revenge of the Sith.

I have to hand it to George Lucas. It takes a man with some real balls to name this film (especially after the last two) with a word that is an anagram for "shit."

And that's all I'm gonna say. As a kid who stared wide-eyed at the original Star Wars (and one who has plunged heavily into the world of Joseph Campbell, Hero With a Thousand Faces...etc...) suffice it to say that I have been VASTLY disappointed by the last three cartoons from Lucasfilm. I have a theory about why they're so bad (when the originals were so great,) but I am going to once again restrain myself from film criticism.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Cel Phone Soap

I heard on the radio this morning, though I've been unable to verify it anywhere else, that one of the networks (either CBS or ABC) is in development on a soap opera they plan to broadcast via cel phone.

Your phone would have to be able to receive video for this. They're planning 2-3 minute episodes and are going to run it like an actual series.

At least that's what I heard. Though this is essentially what I've been talking about I see two problems with this.

One: Not very many people have video capable cel phones at the moment.
Two: 2-3 minutes isn't enough time. But I could be wrong. It's my impression that character development and drama might need a bit more time than two or three minutes per episode, but then again...

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Strange Brew

And as a 3rd post (I really should save these up and post them over a period of days. (or at least as one post,))

My sister gave me the DVD of Strange Brew, the Bob and Doug McKenzie film. I guess it's a bit of a guilty pleasure since there's no way in the world to classify it as anything close to the pinacle of cinema. But there are some great lines in it.

"There was nothing to do. All the bowling alleys had been destroyed, so I spent my time looking for beer."

"Fleshy headed mutant, are you friendly?"
"No way, eh! Like, radiation has made me an enemy of civilization!"

"If I didn't have puke breath, I'd kiss you."

Sorry. Please disregard my previous post about Napoleon Dynamite. It's clear I have no taste in film.

Napoleon Dynamite

As a 2nd post...

After months of watching so-called hip people walking around town with "Vote for Pedro" shirts I finally decided to watch Napoleon Dynamite. I'm halfway through and my big question is - - is there any really compelling reason for me to finish watching???

In truth I probably will only because Haylie Duff is in it. HANG ON - given that this is the internet and given that I'll probably get some traffic from some bonehead searching for Haylie Duff for some sick and twisted reason, let me point out that I have actually worked with Haylie (and Hillary) on Lizzie McGuire and had a lot of fun with them. In fact Haylie was an amazing kid because while Hillary (her little sister) was getting all the attention on Lizzie, she was happy to stand in for her and appear on camera occasionally as background. There was ample reason for jealousy and I NEVER saw it. Of course I think their Mom had a lot to do with it. She was a great lady too.

ANYWAY... back to the DVD player.


I got an email a few days ago from a reader in New York. It seems we're working on similar projects, though what's similar about them is our approach to distribution. We're both thinking of a series of shorts to be broadcast, or narrowcast, on the web.

I can't imagine we're the only two. It's only a matter of time until someone (perhaps one of us) hits with something like this and it takes off. And when it does then things are going to change.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Back to the Movies

Well, back to made-for-TV movies. We spent the holidays with family out of town and during the week spent several nights watching the entire series, Into the West. Overall it's excellent and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone interested in the history of the west, particularly the history of the Indian Wars.

The film, all 9 hours, follows an extended family, part white, part Lakota, from 1825 to 1890 ending with the massacre at Wounded Knee. It's a kind of fictionalized version of the book, "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee," which is an American History book that everyone should read. If you think you know American History, I guarantee you do not. The interesting thing is that it's not alternative history or pseudo history the way some books are, but a slice of history that was not in your high school books.

Anyway, I'm glad that someone like Spielberg got behind this and got it made because it's truly exceptional in it's scope and also gripping and emotional in it's story telling. There are a couple of pretty strong Father/Daughter moments that had me (as the father of a daughter) getting a little misty eyed. It was also very well done in terms of it's historical accuracy and set dressing. Really very good. And, as the owner of tipi (which I've spent a good deal of time camping in) it was a blast to see all the tipis in it.

Hmmm. Interesting. In building the links above, I just read a few reviews of Into the West on Amazon and apparently the DVD version has been edited from the version shown on TNT. Apparently some of the more graphic footage has been cut out of the Wounded Knee part. Considering how brutal it actually is that's saying something. Curious. I wonder what the story is with that. It's certainly out of the norm for DVD versions.

Oh and in case anyone's wondering, this American Indian thing is kind of close to my heart. You can check this out. It's an organization called Futures for Children that my wife and I have been involved with for a number of years that is really great.