Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Nominations, yo!

Not many surprises with the big nominations, a few that I like, I hope Clooney takes a statue for Good night/luck and he deserves one for Syriana. Then again I'd love to see Matt Dillon win for Crash. Giamatti should already have one for Sideways.

Brokeback will still win best pic and director (oh, and adapted screenplay), but the Crash victory at the SAG awards says that it's not 100% of a win for the Brokebackers. Wish history of Violence got a little more love, Jarhead, too. The Constant Gardener as well, but Weisz should get her Oscar. As good as she is, I'd love Michelle Williams to swoop in and steal it, James Van Der Beek would be all like, Whoa! Even better would be an Amy Adams win.

Hoffman will win for Capote, but it'd be nice to see Heath surprise, or Terrence Howard.

Revenge of the Sith got all the nominations it deserved, although the FX were good so it should have gotten a visual effects bone thrown at it. The Konger should win for the FX.

Wallace and Gromit will and should win. I wonder if next year if they'll still only have 3 slots open for Animation, since there's like 10000 animated movies coming out (including Flushed Away, Cars (one of these will be the likely winner next year), Open Season, Ant Bully, Barnyard, Meet The Robertson's (Disney), Ice Age 2, etc, etc).

Reese will win and that's okay by me.

Saturday, January 28, 2006


Just landed me a manager, so I'm happy about that. He's a good guy with good connections, so we'll see where it goes. I still have my agent, I like the idea of having both and certainly don't mind getting a lesser percentage if I sell something. Because if I sell something, well, I'll be a happy dude out here in NJ, plus it'll mean that I sold something!

I've put the finishing touches on my latest script, WHITE GOLD. It's a comedy about the last day of shooting an independent movie, when things that have been going smoothly start to fall apart, people are bailing, etc. And one of its main focuses is the filming of the most important scene in the movie - the sex scene. It'd be Rated R in its current form, it's filled with profanity, sexual situations (could be shot tastefully of course, or not), and more profanity.

I love Living In Oblivion, The Big Picture, movies like that. It's got nothing to do with them plot-wise, only in that the main characters are trying to get the thing done, and shit goes wrong.

It's a fun script, and can be shot VERY CHEAPLY (1 location, just a handful of characters). I'll comb through it a bit next, weeding out typos, etc, and throw it up on Inktip.com and see what happens. Some decent script competitions are coming up so I'll throw it at a few of them.

I also finished a re-write that I'm very happy with, my script called THE MONEY SHOT, another comedy. This is the one that was almost bought a few months ago by wacky Canadian producers but they never bit (basically everything they loved about it they wanted to change. Odd, those Candians). It was optioned back in 2002 by an independent producer (he was working with Barbara Streisand's company at the time (Barwood) but optioned it on his own. Never went anywhere, the option ran out and I NEVER EVER heard from him again. New Manager guys loves it so he's gonna try to package it somewhere.

This upcoming week I should find out about my Zoetrope competition entries (sent them 2 scripts) as well as my Fade In entries (I sent 3 there). Fingers crossed!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Still Good

Titanic is still a good movie. I caught the "good parts" on HBO in the middle of last night (boat sinking). Amazing stuff. Sure, some of it looks a bit dated F/X wise, but it holds up mostly.

You know why this movie still works? Cameron knew what the hell he was doing. Now, is this a perfect flick? No, it's got its awkward moments, silly moments, etc, but I'll tell you one thing - I'd buy the love story of Jack and Rose WAY BEFORE the bullshit we had to sit through in the Star Wars prequels.

It just goes to show that Lucas should have sat back and produced the Prequels instead of doing them himself. He can't write, and he sure as hell can't direct anymore. How do you cast such fine actors (Neeson, Sammy Jackson, etc) as they did and breath absoultely NO LIFE into them???? "Hold me like you did by the lake on Naboo." Fuck Naboo!

Back to Titanic. The best parts? The sinking is awesome in how Cameron did it, but my favorite moments are much quieter.

I want to break down and cry like a little bitch when that band continues to play that old, sad melody while Cameron expertly cuts to some goings-on of the ship, namely a beautiful old couple cuddling in fear in a bed, their last moments of a likely long, amazing life together Then the next shot is of a mother reading a story to her two wonderful children. I know these are all just actors but it was one of those instances where I FELT for them on-screen, I pictured the fear and agony that would follow for these characters.

Just a look back at a still-good movie. It gets slammed since it's the biggest movie of all time and all, that can happen when you gross over 2 BILLION dollars worldwide, but you know what, it's still pretty damn good.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Flickmaking 2

Had a good response from my last post about making a movie. Since a bunch of y'all are out there about to do so, I thought I'd throw some info your way.

We made Better Days in 2001, and although the movie wasn't all that, most of it went very smoothly.

I'll just cover two things today. One is:

Your Screenplay.

1st, go re-write it. I'm sure it needs another pass or 12. Then read it again. give it to a friend to rear (preferrably someone who knows SOMETHING about story, characters, etc. NOT your mother). Gather your cast or at least some friends who won't piss all over the dialogue and do a reading. Have someone read the descriptions, it should NOT be you. Your job is to sit on your ass and listen.


Also, send it to another writer. Or a coverage service. Or Christ, I'll even read it. Just don't take your script into production before it's ready. I've done it more than once. Never again.

Better Days should have had another draft or two before we put it into production, that much I know.

You probably can't afford to pay them so you'll have them sign a deferred payment contract which basically says when the movie starts making $$, they might see something. Most actors understand these contracts, and they understand they probably will never see a nickel. But you'll give them food, screen credit of course, and a copy of the finished film for their reel. I've had some actors ask me for their unedited footage. This is an insane request.

There are zillions of actors out there and a zillion places to list your movie to request headshots. I get them by the boxfull every time I put out a search for actors/crew.

Break the script down and get your actors to inform you on the days they can't make, etc. Then make your schedule of shooting days and get it to them ASAP.

Try not to have your actors come back for every shooting day. I'd try to lump some of the actors' scenes together so I can get them in and off the project. One less actor to worry about, plus if they are there for free, their time may be valuable.

This depends on a lot of things though and might not always be possible, it's also a good idea to do the same thing around a location. You only have that diner location for a limited time? then take all those scenes and shoot them all at the same time if you can. this is where a script supervisor excells, make sure they are taking pictures of the actors so you know how people looked, what they are wearing, etc.

The actors will not likely remember.

Always have food nearby. The actors & crew need to be fed. If not, they WILL talk about you, your production company, your shitty movie, etc, and word will spread about you.

At the audition, have some donuts or bagels. On set, I ALWAYS have a nice cooler with plenty of waters and fruit (apples & bananas work best) for people to munch as we go about the shooting day. When everyone gets on-set in the AM I'll have donuts, bagels, muffins. And coffee. Dunkin Donuts sells a box of coffee. My gang loved that.

For lunch it's nice to have sandwiches, or hoagies. Pizza is okay, but not for every shooting day. Try to mix it up a bit. Another thing I like to do is take the cast and crew to a decent place (not too expensive, but a nice joint or someplace with a lot of variety on the menu) and just let them order whatever they want. This should be done when you have your core group together, at least all your leads and crew. Usually (if they're polite) they won't order the lobster but at least by taking them out once or twice, you're showing them that you give a shit. And in return, they'll give a shit.

That's it for now. My main points for today? Feed your cast & crew, and go do another re-write.


So, digital or film, what's it gonna be?

Scott the Reader recently posted about the release of Bubble, to be released simultaneaously on DVD, in theaters, etc. This is supposed to be some revolutionized release and they are trying it with this art-film. So, when it bombs, will they say this type of strategy won't work?

Well, roll the dice a little, people. This movie wouldn't make 9 cents anyway (combined DVD & theater gross) so how is this a good test of this strategy? Why not try it on a movie like this Summer's Superman. Then we'll see. Oh, they won't? Why? Oh, because the theatrical release won't make as money. I think it's a neat idea, and might be good for these smaller releases, but it's not gonna change anything with how studios release movies unless they up the ante and send something like a Superman or X3 out like this. And if I was them, I simply wouldn't.

His comments then veered into what's better - Film or Digital.

What do you guys think? Is digital the wave of the future? Will it bury film? I hope not. Film is a beautiful thing. I think they can co-exist, but can you picture a movie like Glory or Lawrence Of Arabia or Saving Private Ryan shot on digital? People that love digital swear up and down about it, saying how CLEAR the picture is. Well, to me, that's its problem. Give me a nice grainy film anyday. Although I am for digital projection and love digital sound.

How about you guys? Thoughts on this? Film? Digital?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Revenge is a dish best served cold.......

Finish that quote and I'll give you a dollar.

Screenwriting Update:

I'm almost finished WHITE GOLD, a comedy about the last day of filming on a low-budget movie. This will likely be the next thing I complete. I'm at the home stretch! I love the home stretch!

Been tinkering with a few ideas and beginnings of screenplays, but I haven't "committed" to a particular one yet. Usually, after I hit page 30+ I consider that committed. One such script I'm committing to is UNDER INDIANA, my first drama in over a year. For 2005, it was comedy all the way. I'm also working on a new comedy called THE HEIST OF THE CENTURY.

How are the contests going? Shitty, thus far. I heard back from So You Wanna Be A Screewriter. They might as well have sent back a tape with laughter on it.

Just heard from AAA competition. I sent 2 there. I went 0 for 2. How did I place 2nd out of 3000+ scripts in the Austin Film Festival in 2003? Fluke? Maybe. Seems so long ago now. Who knows. But I still have confidence in the other screenplays I have out to other festivals & contests, as well as the newer scripts I'm working on. Only a matter of time, right?

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Overrated

Garden State - Zach Braff is a super-talent, and I think he's got a great movie inside of him. This is not it. I liked this a lot when I first saw it, but I've seen it since and I cringe at a lot of the "moments." Love the details about the suburbs and all that, and Peter Saarsgard is awesome as usual. Natalie Portman is great, really showing her talents, but she's one of those movie roles that simply don't exist in real life but in the eager, hopeful minds of us screenwriters. Overall, the movie now ranks as pretty good with moments (still a good soundtrack). Zach's character needs to get a grip.

I Heart Huckabees - This movie thinks it's so damn smart. Ugh. I feel like choking every character here. Wahlberg is a stand-out, I liked him a lot in this (he and Schwartzman had the best scenes). Anyway, it's not really as smart as it thinks. Pretentious bullshit. David Russell is another super-talented guy, like he was with Three Kings.

Shakespeare in Love - Good movie. Fun, cute. It beat Saving Private Ryan. HUH?

Gangs Of New York & The Aviator - Scorcese is amazing, no doubt. Here, he's pretty good. So glad these didn't win Best Picture Oscars. But I have to say Scorcese certainly should already have like 3-4 Oscars. But not for these. Both movies have great moments, but for me, don't hold together. Blanchett winning for this? C'mon. Anyway, I'm hoping The Departed kicks major ass.

The Hours - Somebody slap these characters. Actually, slap Julianne Moore's character twice. I understand her internal struggles, but you don't just leave your kid SCREAMING for you on the street. Internal struggle? Get the fuck over it, you're a bad mother. SLAP! SLAP!

A Beautiful Mind - Man, the schizo was hot! Oh, it's just Russell Crowe. I love Ron Howard, but again, he's been much better elsewhere.

Chicago - I don't mind musicals. But I despise this one. Didn't do a thing for me. While I'm on the topic, the Phantom Of the Opera sucked, too, although I wouldn't count it as "overrated" since the critics weren't too kind anyway. But it sucked.

Sin City - Cool visuals, wonderful cast. But it's really a SNOOZE as in ZZzzzzzzzzzz. What a bore. (Taz reminded me of this one, thanks Taz.)

Revenge Of The Sith - God I love Star Wars. Wonderful Trilogy....Before Greedo started shooting first and then the prequels happened. I've already posted thoughts on this mess of a trilogy in recent months' posts, but had to revisit my hatred for it again. Now, each movie has moments: the Darth Maul character & the lightsaber duel of the 1st; pretty neat although very videogame-esque climax in the arena of the 2nd movie, and pieces of the 3rd. Actually, also a stand-out of Clones was the Jango/Obi-Wan brawl in the rain. That was nice. But the rest? Not so much. Mostly boring, uneventful, disappointing, and wretchingly-bad writing. "Bang me like you did by the lake on Naboo." Give me a break.

Oh, and Padme didn't die of being choked by Anakin, no that would have actually made sense. She died of a broken heart. That damn robot actually said that basically she's doing great but she's going to die of a broken heart. She's lost the will to live. Oh, and those 2 beautiful babies you just gave birth to aren't worth it you dramatic, selfish beeyotch? Slap!

Additional thought about A New Hope - Why didn't the Death Star blow through that planet that was "blocking" the moon that the rebel base was on????? It's laser death ray was good enough to smoke Alderaan, not that one?

Thoughts? Reflections? More overrated movies?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Underrated

I hate it when movies I love fall off the radar, and it seems nobody else got to see them or experience them. Or maybe when it was released it just disappeared. I'm listing some of my favorites that didn't get much reception when first released. What are some of yours? Mine include:

Joe Vs. The Volcano: John Patrick Shanley directed, with Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan. Also check out The 'Burbs for another smaller (but excellent) Hanks flick.

Fearless - from my all-time favorite director, Peter Weir. Starring Jeff Bridges, and has just about the best ending of any movie. Ever.

Jacob's Ladder - 1991 Tim Robbins, Ving Rhames. Directed by Adrian Lyne.

Fandango - Kevin Costner, Judd Nelson.

State Of Grace (1990) - Sean Penn, Gary Oldman, Ed Harris, Robin Wright Penn

Grand Canyon (1991) - Kevin Kline, Danny Glover, Steve Martin, Jeremy Sisto - Directed by Lawrence Kasdan

Bodies, Rest & Motion - Tim Roth, Bridget Fonda, Eric Stoltz

Hamburger Hill - Don Cheadle, Steven Weber. A gem of a Vietnam film.

Barton Fink - Coen Brothers.

King Of the Hill - Directed by Steven Soderbergh, starring Adrien Brody, Kathryn Heigl, and Jesse Bradford. Depression-era coming-of-age story.

The Edge - Alec Baldwin, Anthony Hopkins. Writen by David Mamet, directed by Lee Tamahori. Good story, tense adventure.

The Iron Giant - Animated. Wow, what a beautiful movie. Great for kids & adults! Vin Diesel voices the Iron Giant. Directed by Brad "The Incredibles" Bird.

Closet Land - Starring Alan Rickman & Madeline Stowe - And NOBODY else.

Kicking & Screaming - Directed by Noah "The Squid & The Whale" Baumbach.

Fly Away Home - Another nice kids movie, but beautifully shot & directed, with a great score.

Your turn!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Best Picture - of 2006?

Ok, '05 is in the books. What about 2006? Scott The Reader made a nice list of upcoming films for this year, which ones will we be looking at for Oscar/Globes next year?

Perhaps The Departed, with DiCaprio, Nicholson (a shoo-in for best supporting actor I'll bet) and Matt Damon. Maybe they'll throw Scorcese Best Director. Or Flags Of Our Fathers, the Clint-Eastwood-directed WWII epic, produced by Spielberg.

There's always Zodiac, directed by David Fincher, which chronicles the hunt for a serial killer in the 70s. Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo star. Best Actor for Downey Jr? Hollywood loves a comeback.

Maybe Lady In The Water will get Paul Giamatti a Best Actor Oscar.

Flight 93 is touchy, but it intrigues me more that the Oliver Stone's World Trade Center. Flight 93 comes in April (too early to be remembered by next year's Oscars). Directed by Paul Greengrass.

All The King's Men, certainly a Best Picture candidate with Sean Penn as Best Actor.

How's Smokin' Aces sound, with Ben Affleck, Jeremy Piven, Ryan Reynolds, Andy Garcia and Alicia Keys? Directed by Joe Carnahan (he did the excellent Narc).

The Good German sounds like a Best Picture, with Clooney as Best Actor. Speaking of "good" there's also the DeNiro-directed The Good Shepard, another Matt Damon film.

A dark horse candidate might be Running With Scissors, a dysfunctional family drama (think Family Stone, but good) with Annette Bening (Best Actress). From the creator of Nip/Tuck.

The Brad Pitt Jesse James movie? Probably not a Best Pic candidate. but maybe a supporting actor nod for Sam Rockwell. I love that guy.

Perhaps Johnny Depp will get another nod for Pirates 2.

As for funny, I'll be there for The Break-Up (Vince Vaughn & Jennifer Aniston). Caughn's always reliable for a laugh. Then there's You, Me, And Dupree, with Matt Dillon and Owen Wilson. And the NASCAR comedy with Will Ferrell and Sasha "Borat/Ali G" Cohen.

What about Apocalypto? Mel Gibson's latest? And The Da Vinci Code? Best Picture candidate? Or candidate for 3rd movie to hit $250 million in 06 (after X-Men 3 and Superman).

Southland Tales (with The Rock and Sarah Michelle Gellar) will certainly be cool, but probably not what Oscar is used to.

Marie Antoinette directed by Sofia Coppola? Could go either way. The trailer is intriguing, especially with the New Order music. Nice touch.

I'll be there for The Fountain, also for Thank You For Smoking.

And what about animation Best Picture? There's a boatful of releases coming, narrowing it down to 3 might be hard. We have Ice Age 2 & Cars, likely candidates. Then we have Open Season, Happy Feet, Over The Hedge, Ant Bully, Meet The Robinson's (Disney), and Barnyard. Plus Monster House, which could possibly kick a lot of ass. That's a lot of animation.

Tons of movies. And right now, they all look good. Until they start opening, then the disappointment hits. Happens every year. But it looks like a good year (whoops, that's also the name of a possible Russell Crowe contender). Anyway, it looks promising.

Monday, January 16, 2006


I saw this pic online, it's Elijah Wood & Lindsay Lohan in the Emilio Estevez-directed film called "Bobby." I am intrigued.

According to joblo.com the movie follows several characters in the hours leading up to the assassination of Robert Kennedy at LA's Ambassador Hotel. Bobby apparently also stars Anthony Hopkins, Sharon Stone, Demi Moore, Nick Cannon, and Freddy Rodriguez.



These award thingees get old, quick. Sure, it's nice to see some of the winners win (I like Clooney and was happy he won) but it's like, everyone jumps on these bandwagons and suddenly Phillip Seymour Hoffman HAS to win all the best actor awards. And Heather Ledger or David Strathairn, Viggo Mortenson, Hayden Christenson (JESUS CHRST, I'm KIDDING) etc, are left with nothing. It's silly to allow ONE winner. And although I enjoy seeing Clooney win, that means Matt Dillon (a revelation in CRASH) gets, well, nothing?

Out of all the movies, and after all the screeners and marketing (for those companies that can afford to remind people of the movies they released) goes out into Variety, etc, we have decided to agree that Phillp Seymour Hoffman is worthy, and the others sucked balls.

Guy Who Makes Sense: What about Bill Murray in Broken Flowers? Can we vote for him?

Hollywood: No, no, they released that movie a long time ago.

Guy Who Makes Sense: It was 2005 though, right?

Hollywood: Yeah, but we've decided not to think back that far. We're gonna give it to Seymour Hoffman this year. It's just easier that way.

Guy Who Makes Sense: He's got my vote!

And Ang Lee is the best DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR (well, he HAS to win Oscar, right, because he won the other awards), while the hacks that directed Munich, Gardener, Jarhead, Kong, Good Night, etc, get to go home holding their cocks.

Now, am I saying Seymour Hoff doesn't deserve his kudos? No, of course he does. And Ang Lee is a terrific director (should have won for The Ice Storm, too). I just don't agree with dismissing the others.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


Okay, took me a day but I'll post a follow-up to Scott The Reader's idea of sharing our favorite lines. I've got a few, and these are just from skimming, because aren't all of our lines our favorites?

By the way, some of the following may be offensive. Proceed with caution.
If you're offended, I do apologize.


The thong is like an arrow. “Ass-crack due South!”
Or this exchange:
Hey, Krista. I was just eating this pretzel. Well, I hadn’t actually started the pretzel yet, but I was going to. I did have a little chunk of pretzel salt, and I liked that so I’m assuming that I’ll like the pretzel as well. How do you feel about this topic?
Or pretzels. You choose.
Or we can hit the China massage. You know you’re a sucker for those Asian gals. But you gotta tip them this time, buddy. They get pissed, and rightly so, when you skip the tip after they do all that work.
I’m a good tipper.
Twenty bucks is a slap in the face.
And this:
Dude, I’m just trying to save you fifteen years in an empty marriage that’ll end with you going on a kill-crazy rampage through a shopping mall at Christmas, gunning down everything in sight. You’d probably even take out Santa Claus you sick, twisted bastard.
I wouldn’t kill Santa.
Fuck it. We’re only having sandwiches anyway.
No pizza?
Sandwiches only, Bitch. And if you’re good, you can have some mayonnaise on yours. And if you’re super-good, you can get a bag of chips.
Don’t fucking push it.
And this:
So I’m telling this motherfucker: “You either throw in that money, okay? Or I’ll piss right in your daughter’s face.”
And thus we had our budget for our first film.
And this:
It’s horrible, I know. But it didn’t used to be so sex-drenched before Wheeler got a hold of it. There was less coke-snorting and masturbation. But what the hell, it’s getting made, right?
This is from WHITE GOLD:
Alright, Trip is on diarrhea watch.
And this:
It’s kinda like Forest Gump meets Titanic.
Is it about a boat full of retards?
And this:
If she takes off her shirt and shows us those headlights, we all win!

Thursday, January 12, 2006


I've been thinking on my past movie-making experiences lately and thought I'd share. Maybe some of you out there that are embarking on making a feature or short can think about some of this stuff. To some of you out there, this may be all old news.

But if you can take away something from reading this, maybe it'll prevent you from wasting your time & money (equivalent to being fucked with a sandpaper condom). Or at least help you waste your time and money bettter.

I've made 3.5 features from my own scripts. Directed and produced them all. And 4 shorts. Some of them have their moments, but overall, I don't have much to show. Why? Low, pitiful budgets mainly. There are other reasons.......

1. Actors. Cast well, this seems obvious. But it can be hard. In my situations, everyone was working deferred, so I'm only providing food, a credit, and a copy of the film. Thus, you won't get the best actors in the world (there are some gems out there though if you look).

My problem on past productions was settling. One of the biggest things I've directed (budget $8,000) was almost a complete failure because of (well, the budget for one) and my cast. Now, I had some good actors in there, but there are others that I KNOW I should have re-cast. But I didn't and the movie suffered for it. Read a review of it. It's called Better Days.

2. Crew. Same as casting sort-of. Got a bunch of local PA's, etc for deferred payment. For the most part I've been happy with my crews, except for the occassional nutjob. But take care of them, and they'll take care of you.

3. Location, Location, Location. I've gotten a ton of locations for free, either restaurants, houses, etc. Been pretty lucky with this. Except for one time, when I did not scout a location ahead of time. My fault, yes. But all I needed was a backyard for a bbq scene, didn't care what the house looked like. A mother of one of my actors had a friend who said we can use their house for the shoot. Great! She described it, the yard, I was ready to roll, baby! (I lived an hour away from this location, if it was closer I would have had the time to scope it out).

Had the cast and crew meet early in the morning for the shoot. Then I got there. She didn't mention that the backyard backed-up to Route 1, which if you're from the Philly area, or even if not, you can imagine what the SOUND would be like near a place called ROUTE FUCKING ONE. I was beside myself with stupidity and a lack of planning. I canceled the shoot for that day, drove home, curled into a fetal position, and pissed all over myself.

4. $. Get some money. My problem with many of my attempts was a lack of budget. And it shows. But unless you have some novel idea (you don't) you simply can not make a movie on a shoe-string budget and expect it to go anywhere. Sure, you'll have a screening for it, and your family and friends will show up and congratulate you. But they won't distribute it.

5. REHEARSE YOUR ACTORS. We rehearsed. But not nearly enough. If I ever made a movie again, and for me to do so would take a large does of crank, I'd spend months rehearsing. Again, it's obvious, but sometimes with people's schedules, budgets, time, etc, it's not possible. Make it possible. Make it work.

I cast this kid in a movie I directed called West River Drive. Gave a good audition, and I thought he had a good look. You're hired! Probl;em was, when we started shooting, he would NOT STOP LOOKING AT THE CAMERA. Everytime we shot with him, I wanted to kill myself. And since he was practically the lead, suicide was often on my mind. I've made plenty of bad decisions, that was one of my worst.

Movies I've done and why they failed:
STAIN (feature) - Movie about a hustler on the streets of Philly. Budget killed us on this, 90% of the cast was great. Low-point was trying to pull of a dying man (he was shot off-screen). Just didn't work. We hired a terrific actress (Charis Michelson) to play a hooker. She had a small speaking role in Bringing Out The Dead. She was amazing, should have made the movie about her character. Also, the movie should have been edgier. I didn't push the envelope.

BETTER DAYS (feature) - Read the review above for the plot. The critic is right. Budget and piss-poor acting killed us, plus the script needed another draft before going into production.

WEST RIVER DRIVE (feature) - Budget and a lack of proper planning sank us. Considering, it's not a bad movie, it has some good shots and a few decent scenes. We held a screening a few years ago at Mike Lemon Casting and it (surprisingly) got a great response. Even for the kid that I was complaining about earlier. Editing saved his ass.

The DISINTEGRATION OF A BOY BAND - I liked this short. It was about 32 mins long. But by the time we got it edited and it came out, people were already making fun of boy bands, and it looked like we were the last ones on the bandwagon. Still a decent short (it ends with a record exec telling them their band is being dismantled because grunge is coming back in style). Then we see "where they are now" - One is a lunatic in a forest, one is picking up trash from the streets, , one is a crackhead, etc. You get the picture. It ws funny. But too late.

The Family Dog - Shot on Super 16mm. And a success, sort of. Cost about 3 grand to make. We made about 4 grand back (it was on ifilm.com and hypnotic.com (Hypnotic would pay money to the top-viewed shorts and The Family Dog was on top for a few months)). It was about a guy who went to meet a girl's parents and her dysfunctional family. Right, so you can see why I couldn't do much with it - Meet The Parents arrived, although we made ours in 1999. Not like they ripped us off, but there was a toilet-backing-up scene, a pissed off sibling, a nervous guy about to meet the parents......Hmmm.

WAIT A MINUTE - the last thing I worked on, 2 years ago. Was going to be a feature, I stopped it. It was going to go nowhere. The shoot was kicking ass, the actors were great, rehearsed, etc. The script was good. And we had some killer scenes. Still no budget. Which is why I killed it (I'm actually (finally) getting my trailer presentation for it in the next week; I'll give them out to the cast). I may use it to show around and try to get some cash to start production again and do it all right.

I'm not bitter. Making these movies were some of the best times I've had.

*But TAKE YOUR TIME. I've always rushed and never will again. Don't rush.

*Get a budget, please.

*Sometimes, it's a better idea to just make a brilliant trailer. Then shop it around, screen it, have presentations with free food & drink, and maybe you can raise some real money.

*Also, HAVE A PLAN, for after production. I thought I did. But the plans were never good enough. Screen the shit out of it. Hit the festivals, competitions, etc.

*CAST it like your life depended on it. Why? Because it does. If your actor isn't working, REPLACE THEM. And rehearse them. A lot. Afraid you'll burn them out? Burn them out. At least they'll know their fucking lines.

*Re-write your script. You think it's ready? It's not.

That's about it in a nutshell. I'll make another movie. Loved doing it too much not to. But I will not repeat those mistakes. Well, I'll try not to. I make no promises.

On the bright side, if I ever am offered the chance to direct with some kind of million dollar budget, I'd like to say my rookie mistakes are behind me.

Oh, and I almost forgot one of the most important things to remember when you're making your flick - You're doing it because you love it and you can't live without doing it. So, do it. Just, do it right.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Rad Soundtraxxx

I love soundtracks, so I decided to make a list of my favorites. A lot of these I can just play while I'm writing, helps get the juices flowing. Most of them are orchestral, but a few are song-based (you'll know them when you see them).

What are some of your favorites?

*The Empire Of The Sun - In my opinion, John Williams' finest
*Glory, Field Of Dreams, Aliens - James Horner kicks ass on these.
*Gattaca - Michael Nyman - Gorgeous.
*The Third Man
*White Squall - Perfect music for this underrated Jeff Bridges movie.
*The Shawshank Redemption - Thomas Newman (Actually his score for Little Women is also quite good)
*And now for Carter Burwell - Fargo, Barton Fink, Miller's Crossing. The Hudsucker Proxy - He nails all of these. And his music for the HBO film And The Band Played On is amazing.
*The Thin Red Line - Beautiful score, now if only Malick would lay off the 'shrooms and cut a half hour as well as the often ridiculous voice-over, he's have a perfect war film.
*And now for some Ennio Morricone - The Mission (perfection), The Untouchables, and State Of Grace (1990 Sean Penn/Gary Oldman crime drama; very underrated).
*Batman, Batman Returns - Danny Elfman is great here.
*The Piano
*Dances With Wolves
*Slingblade - Hmmm Mmmm.
*The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy
*Close Encounters - John Williams, classic. Also kicks ass on Saving Private Ryan & E.T.
*Unforgiven, A Perfect World, Mystic River
*Heat - Bascially Moby songs, but perfectly placed.
*The Last Of The Mohicans - I can listen to this one all day.
*Backdraft - So-so movie, but the music ROCKS!
*Great Expectations
*Grand Canyon
*Portait Of A Lady
*Gallipoli, Fearless - Peter Weir likes to use "known" pieces of music a lot as he does in these amazing movies. But he always uses them carefully, and his selection at the end of Fearless made an already Damn Fine Movie into an incredible experience with possibly THE GREATEST ENDING OF A MOVIE EVER.
*Witness - Peter Weir's genius is showing again - Maurice Jarre creats a classic scene with his music over the barn-building sequence.
*The Royal Tenebaums
*Pulp Fiction
*Magnolia - 2 Words - Aimee Mann
*The Graduate
*John Carpenter's The Thing - Simple, perfectly understated, and creepy as hell.

*This year, stand-outs so far are King Kong, Jarhead and Munich.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I done been tagged!

Earliest film-related memory:
Went to see Close Encounters at the Cherry Hill Mall Eric Movie Theater with my Grandparents. I was 5 at the time; the movie scared the bejesus out of me, I freaked, we they had to take me home - I never made it past the scenes when the boy is at home with all the appliances start going haywire. Eventually I watched it again. Currently one of my faves.

Runners Up Memories:

Saw all 3 original (good) Star Wars movies in the theaters. I've always said these movies inspired me but not how you'd think - It inspired me to purchase and and all Star Wars figures.

Also, at a young age, I saw Gallipoli (my fave film of all-time) on an old cable channel called Prism. AMAZING movie, it totally blew me away (I was probably 12 when I saw it but it stuck with me. THIS is the movie that inspired me to want to make movies. If I can make something half as good as Gallipoli, I'll be able to die happy.

TWO (2) favorite lines from movies: (this is a tough one, there's so many great lines).

TWO (2) favorite lines from movies:

"Give 'em hell, 54!" Glory

"I'll be taking these Huggies, and any cash you got." Raising Arizona

(Also from Raising Arizona: One of my favorite bits of dialgoue:

"Three years for a healthy white baby? What else you got? They said they got three Koreans, and a Negro born with his heart on the outside. Craaazy world!"

"Someone outta sell tickets."

"I'd buy one!"

And also:

"Gotta go to work" Jaws
"Could you describe the ruckuss?" The Breakfast Club
"He's more machine now than man. Twisted and evil." Jedi
"You know.....for kids!!" The Hudsucker Proxy

THREE (3) jobs you'd do if you could not work in the biz"
Architect, Teacher, Oceanographer

FOUR (4) jobs you actually have held outside the industry:
1. Teacher Assistant
2. Newspaper Stuffer
3. Haagen Dazs Scooper
4. Tower Records & Video employee

THREE (3) book authors I like:
1. Robert McCammon
2. Stephen King
3. R.A. Salvatore

TWO (2) movies you'd like to remake or properties you'd like to adapt:
1. Draglonlance
2. Night (by Elie Wiesel)
1. Sorceror - Late 70s Movie by William Freidkin starring Roy Schnieder
2. The current Star Wars Trilogy (I'd go back and add, oh I don't know, a better story).

ONE (1) screenwriter you think is underrated:

I shall tag (if they haven't already been tagged) Writergurl, Robert Hogan, and Alligators On A Helicopter.

Monday, January 09, 2006


I had one of those experiences today, when you're doing your typical day-job bullshit and it hits you - "Dammit, I really wish I'd sell a script so I can stop doing this lame-ass job thang."

My epiphany usually comes when I'm under a house (I'm a home inspector) crawling around in the mud/dirt/water with camel crickets (picture a cricket, only real pissed-off) staring me down as I pull spider webs out of my hair.

Thus, the bowels of the home, as I call the crawlspace.

Good thing is it gives me a good kick in the ass and I come home and want to write the shit out of whatever script I'm working on........

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Scenic Route

Since my last debacle of a post (the lame-ass comments have been deleted, please stay on-topic) I wanted to lighten the mood a bit and post an excerpt from my recent script called The Scenic Route.

In a nutshell: When Wyatt becomes engaged to his controlling fiance, his childhood camp buddies kidnap him and drag him onto a road trip to show him the life he's soon going to miss.

This script has no voice-over except for the introduction (a narrator has a small VO talking about camp. The beginning of the script shows the friends (PJ, Wyatt, Jimmy and Meatball) at camp (after these scenes we jump ahead to present day). The following picks up at about page 2, as the 4 friends are in the middle of a relay race...............

Wyatt is in the lead, and hands the relay stick off to PJ. PJ takes it and runs.

Teamwork is essential in creating the tools that will enable us to build lasting friendships and strong bonds.

PJ still leads and approaches Jimmy. Jimmy grabs the relay stick and sprints down the path. After about twenty feet he stops, out of breath.

Oh, man. Fuck this. Phew!

PJ is livid, jumping up and down as other Runners start to pass.

Run, Jimmy! We’re in the lead!

Jimmy waves at him for acknowledgement, then continues down the path - walking.

I’m good, just gotta walk it off.
(points to his side)
Got a cramp, man. Ouch!

Meatball waits for a sign of Jimmy. The other Runners pass him and chuckle. Jimmy finally emerges from the path.

Jimmy, what the hell?
I’m not a runner, what can I say.

Meatball runs over to Jimmy and grabs the relay stick and takes off running down the remainder of the trail.

Hurry up, Meatball! We still got a chance!

Meatball runs toward the finish line, dead last. The other Runners are done, and are already walking away from the area.

And it doesn’t matter, win or lose. What matters most is that you tried your hardest. Gave it your best shot.

Meatball crosses the finish line, pissed.

Unless, of course, you’re dead fucking last.

Jimmy, PJ, Wyatt, and Meatball walk together through the campgrounds.

Damn, Jimmy. After that rad lead we gave you? How could you, man?
Heart just wasn’t in it, boys.
You are unbelievable!

How about I shit in my hand and throw it at you?

They blow him off and walk a bit further.

I can’t believe this is our last year here.
You getting all sensitive on us, Meat? You gonna be like that Indian dude on the TV on the side of the highway, a single tear rolling down his cheek?
We ruined his land.
He was on the side of a highway! What does he expect? Flowers?
I don’t know, but I bet he would have at least tried to win the relay race.
Ah, you got me there. I think we’ve outgrown relay races and obstacle courses. I mean, we’re sixteen and still in Summer god damn camp.
Who cares?

I cares.
C’mon, we all love it. If we weren’t here, we’d just be back home, getting spit on by Joe Mellwig.
Who’s Joe Mellwig?
Just some bully from my neighborhood.
Kick his ass.
He’s bigger. Taller. Wider. And he spits.
Well, the chicks back at my school ain’t gonna ride this bus if they know I still go to camp.
Ain’t you learning about life here?

I’ve learned how to tie six hundred different knots. I was happy after I learned how to double-knot the shoelaces.
The double-knot does come in handy.

Meatball looks down at his own shoes - Both untied.

MR. TROY, 50s, rolls after them in his wheelchair.

Dead fucking last I hear.

Friday, January 06, 2006

To V.O. or not V.O....That be the question.

I'm going to say something crazy. Yeah, it's nuts. "Loco," if you speak Spanish. As in, "the cabasa!" Are we ready.......? Okay, take a breath.....Open your eyes and..........


It's okay to use Voice-Over.

AH! Run for your lives! Go! Go! Go! Women and Children first! Unless they're too slow!!!

Oh, stop. It's okay. I'm joshing. no need to panic. When I posted my last post, Robert Hogan brought up a good point with a good question. Why go with Voice-Over? And although I had a pretty easy reply, he brought up a great issue. Voice-Overs. Some people just don't like them. And Robert, or Bobby H as I like to call him, got me thinking......

I view it as a personal thing. some people like Cocoa Krispies but some others may like Cocoa Pebbles. The point? Both are correct. It's a matter of taste.

Personally, I don't mind voice-overs. Usually. I'm sure some writers use (or over-use) them as a crutch, a cheat. But not always.

Where would The Shawshank Redemption be without Red's elegant voice? Did Frank Darabont cheat? Nope. It only made his take on the story better. Were the Coen Brothers hacks to use H.I.'s voice-over for Raising Arizona? Hell, no. And Nicholas Pilleggi for Goodfellas. I love that voice-over. American Beauty is another example of when it all goes right. Platoon is another.

Can it be over-used? Yup. Like Casino. Or Sin City. Yeah, yeah, I know I just pissed off many a film geek by saying that, but although I understand they were trying to capture the graphic novel, that voice-over bored the living shit out of me. Was Sin City visually stunning? Absolutely, but it made me want to snooze.

If you're using it, it can't sound like we're HEARING a book read to us, you know? But if the writer is guiding us through the tale, enhancing the story, that's fine by me.

Here's how I like to use it. It's been more of the Raising Arizona approach for me. Enhancing the funny stuff that's going on in the story. It almost becomes another character. Could we have followed the story of Raising Arizona without the VO? Sure, but it's simply funnier with it. Which is how I like to use it.

I wrote a script called "Cricket Hill" that came in the top 3 of the Austin Film Festival back in '03 that used VO pretty heavily. In that situation, was it terribly necessary to follow the story? No. It could have survived without it. But it was better with it. I think if it's used correctly, you can really bring out more in a script. And some stories are certainly more "voice-over worthy."

I've written probably 40 scripts in my life. A good amount came in the dark ages when I wasn't terribly good at this stuff, so I wouldn't list all of those on my resume. Barely half really. But of the 40, I'd say I've used voice-overs about 8 times.

Last time I used it in a completed script was "Doing It Sideways", my epic coming-of-age/porn tale, which I wrote over a year ago. Everything else I wrote in the last year hasn't used it, but I do have 2 scripts in my handful of about 5 that I'd like to work on this coming year that I will use it on.

So if you think your story benefits from it, I say go with it. It's okay. Don't DEPEND on it, but if it's going to make the script/movie better, and you're not using it to basically SAY EXACTLY what the character is thinking, then run with it.

The following is a small excerpt from "Doing It Sideways". In a nutshell, we're learning about the life of a kid who will grow up to be a porn star:

Young Joshua continues down the hallway. He hears movement come from behind another door, and approaches it.

I always looked forward to Christmas. But that year, my parents were celebrating early.
(from behind door)
Well, now. Ho, ho, ho!

Young Joshua opens the door. Inside are Mom and Dad Bolt on their bed, in the middle of hard-core sex. Dad Bolt wears a Santa hat and has his red Santa pants around his ankles.

Now, having the boy walk into the room without any VO, I think it loses something. I feel the scene is enhanced with the VO. Again, I'm not using it to relate exactly how Joshua feels or thinks, but bascially to help build a visual punchline. Or here........

Young Joshua approaches the bathrooms.

I didn’t know what was ahead for us, for our family. Things were changing. And for me, the change began the moment I opened that bathroom door.

He turns the handle and opens it. Inside are a DASHING CO-PILOT and a HOT FLIGHT ATTENDANT - having some pretty wild sex against the sink of the small bathroom.

(between thrusts)
Who’s your pilot? Who’s your pilot?

They stop in mid-groan and look at Young Joshua.

Hey kid, take a picture, it’ll last longer!

Young Joshua takes a small, disposable camera from his pocket and CLICKS a picture.

Again, it's used as enhancement, and to back up an event that would stick with any person in that situation.

So, voice-overs. Use them if you want. We won't shoot you. And you are not a bad writer if you used them. Not at all. Many of the greats have used them.

But make them work.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The New Year

Been tough getting going this year with writing. I wrote the shit out of last year, I wrote The Rave At Danny Carter's House, The Scenic Route, Tourniquet, and Headshot and did some big re-writes of some older scripts. I think I was fried by the end of the year, so I've been going back, tweaking a few older scripts here and there over the last week or two. I love a good tweak.

But the surge is returning. I've got a few on my plate that I'm going to get going, the already posted The Nine Lives Of Dalt Stickle, and a few more comedies - One is called Retail Messiahs, and the other, which I will post the brief opening scene of below, is called Kill Whitey. Again, it's brief, but it gives you a good idea of the tone...............

The sun shines. The sky blues. The day is perfect...except for a rusted, pale green beast of a car forged in the 70s that sits partially submerged in the lake.

ZAK (V.O.)
It was hot as balls the day Whitey Gimmler was found dead in his piece of shit car half-sunk in Silver Lake.

A JET SKIER speeds along and nails the car, zooming up and over it, and landing many yards away with a small splash.


The Jet Skier zooms across the lake.


Great film. I'd say Spielberg is at his peak. But it's like the guy has more than 1 peak.

Daniel Craig, Eric Bana - awesome. I hope Craig kicks ass as Bond, seems like a waste of his talents. Cinematography was perfect. And some of the sequences astound. It's good to see Spielberg in this genre.

Now, is it something I'll ever see again? Maybe when it first comes out on DVD, but it's not like The Shawshank Redemption, Glory or Field Of Dreams, Saving Private Ryan or Jaws, movies I can watch from whichever scene to the end.

But it brings up amazing points and ties it into present day events.

I mean, why wouldn't they want revenge for Munich? Why wouldn't we want to avenge 9/11? But what does it bring us? Just more bloodshed. And more "replacements" to the terrorists that we killed in our vengenance. And maybe the replacement are even worse than who we killed. But we can't just let these massacres slide either. We can't sit idle while people fly planes into us. Or kill more innocents. Just a real screwed up situation we have.

And now we're down 2000+ troops for a nonsensical war in Iraq. I'm certainly not gonna get political here, but Munich will make you think about these things, and we should be thinking about them. Plus, it makes you really pissed off that some crazy lady is honking her horn in the middle of the street while you're trying to do a good deed.............

Impatient Beeyotch

Warning: Some salty language to follow.........

Okay, so The Purple Heart comes by today, we've got like 20 bags of clothes to donate. The man pulls up, nice guy probably in his 50s, and he starts loading our donation. I help him out since it's a lot of bags.

Then this woman (let's call her Impatient Bitch), I'd say in her 40s, nice car, pulls behind his truck (it was blocking our small street) and immediately leans on her horn. So I give her a "one-minute" signal and throw a few more bags on and she honks again, and I motion for her to drive around the block. Impatient Bitch says "Why should I have to go around the block?" And I'm like we're just loading a donation and she mumbles and I tell her we'll be done in two minutes.

Then Impatient Bitch said well how long and I'm like TWO MINUTES. I mean, what the fuck? And she's complaining and saying well is it gonna be 2 minutes or is it gonna be right now? I was tempted to tell her to suck not just one but BOTH of my balls, but I resisted.

It's not like we were in the middle of the street playing hockey, we were loading a donation, gifts for down-and-out people basically, and this bitch, who I KNOW had nowhere important to be, is breaking my balls. If it was me, and it was that important or life-threatening, I would have done a K-turn and driven around the block which would have taken no more than 30s seconds, and that's if you're inspired to stop at the stop sign. I told the Purple Heart guy (obviously and rightly-so annoyed at her) not to worry about her and we finished up, shook hands, ignored Impatient Bitch, and made like Journey and went our separate ways.

My point? The truck blocked the street for no more than 2 minutes, and she had no right to start going off. She looked like a Realtor, the scums I see and deal with every day. Okay, not all realtors are bad. But most are.

People need to get a grip, man. There's a lot of bad shit out in the world, you know? Important shit - Wars, Racism, and Mother Nature's kicking the shit out of us. Point is, she could have patiently waited for the 2 minutes.