27 February 2007

only cuz I know you care


WAR DRAMA -- starting to slide out to various folks, none of whom yet seem to be so bowled over that there is a crush of check-waving folks at the door. Yes, that was the hope and expectation. No, I am not serious. Yes, I will gladly act as if I am serious if any check-wavers actually appear....

ROM COM -- now again sliding towards some sort of readable form after a month or more of... just... sitting... there. Mocking me. I think I have a handle on what it needs (or maybe what it doesn't), and I'm plodding along addressing those moments and scenes and large chunks of script where these changes and deletions and additions need be made. Hopefully I'll have it ready for people to look at within a week or two, because....

LA TRIP -- back in October I sorta made a mental note to stand ready to head back to LA in the Spring of 2007 in order to press the issue and chase down whatever contacts and meetings and face-time I could manage. As 2007 broke onto the scene I decided i'd not just blow off that self-made promise but would instead see if I could hold myself to it, so now I'm sitting here chasing leads and contacts and acquaintances to see what meetings (if any) I migth manage if/when I arrive in-country in mid March for a hurry up whistle-stop tour of town. "We shall see."....

CRAZY HISTORICAL ADVENTURE -- it's still there, and the outline is roughly 90% clear in my head, but there's a critical sequence of scenes and beats down the homestretch which for now do not yet reveal themselves to me. I am plotting and planning and poking and prodding, but there's a double black diamond run of events I need to take place—logically and justifiably yet surprisingly—which I've not been able to work out to my own satiusfaction. I know the solution exists, and I know I haven;t found it, and I know I will, so for now this project sorta simmers as I walk slow circles around it....

MIXED UP WESTERN -- there is an outline, and it gets me from FADE IN to FADE OUT, but it's not really thrilling me, nor is it giving me the major rush I expect and demand the story to give me for this piece. It's an odd mix of genres at work, a mix which creates a special sort of problem in making the two story mechanisms play nice together—kinda like getting a DVD to play in your Betamax—but I know I'll eventually figure it out. Or get sucked away by a twister or something....

BUDDY COMEDY ADVENTURE -- years ago I came up with a major action sequence (actually a major story mechanism) which was too good to forget, and it keeps bubbling up as the possible lynchpin for a sort of ensemble buddy adventure movie. Think something like OCEAN'S 11 or THE STING in that there's a caper, and the fun is figuring out how it will (or won;t) work, but the mix of characters in the caper are as much fun as the caper itself. I have entire sequenbces clear in my head, but I need to work out a few more cool story wrinkles and twists before it's truly ready to start sketching out in outline form, but damn it's making me smile to think about....

COLLEGE ROMP -- my own personal albatross, the beast which will hang round my neck til the end of all time. In some ways this one seems familiar enough that I'lll not write it so much as just recite it from memory—recount it more than construct it—but it's also just not the top-most item on the old interest poile this week, so for now....

Nicholl Fellwoship deadlines are on the horizon, as are the deadlines for the Austin contest and a slew of others. I remain hopeful to be ineligible ASAP, but one should always prepare for the worst even while laboring to deliver the best. So I'll likely have some new crap to fling at strangers by May 1.

Unless I don't.


18 February 2007

do or do not

If you've not seen it already, wing over to the LA Times site to see The Envelope, a roundtable interview from Jay Fernandez featuring the five nominated writers for this years Best Original Screenplay Oscars: Michael Arndt ("Little Miss Sunshine"), Guillermo del Toro ("Pan's Labyrinth"), Peter Morgan ("The Queen"), Guillermo Arriaga ("Babel"), and Iris Yamashita ("Letters From Iwo Jima").

I'll not waste time cribbing lines or thoughts from the piece, as there are too many worthwhile bits of insight and opinion. I found it amazingly uplifting and empowering to see that these guys, all operating at the very top of the game, have some points of clear agreement and other points of total disagreement. The reason I find this encouraging is that lately I've been in a brief introspective funk as I try to sort what it is I am most trying to do in this silly screenwriting chase.

Am I chasing some sort of ideal of quality? Am I chasing after any sort of initial sale to get over the wall and into Fortress Hollywood? Am I pursuing a career where what matters most is That next Deal, and where notions of quality and emotional value are secondary to getting paid by any means necessary?

Yeah, some of this is cart-before-horse time-wasting, but I'm now close enough to the game that I know working pros on the inside. I have friends who have made the leap into the game. I have friends who seem now being escorted into the game for the first time. Other buddies are very clearly on the cusp of Some Great Thing, and might at any moment become major players in the screenwriting game.

Meanwhile, I'm sitting here in my gym shorts, half a continent away, trying to decide which project I want to throw myself into right now. I have a huge expensive difficult to imagine historical epic which seems to claim more of my thoughts than seems safe and sane. I have a mostly outlined and partially written hybrid genre piece which might be the sort of concept project to most easily draw interest from strangers. And I have a third piece which seems the sort of low-budget easily filmable piece that would work great for specifically targeted leads.

(So of course, I work on none of those three but instead work on a blog post destined to be seen by maybe a dozen humans on this damned planet. Wooohooooo....)

The article made me like writing again as, when I read the comments of these five guys, I can actually hear myself saying any of these things they say. They all make perfect sense. There are no major surprises or issues where I go "that is such total bullshit." Note that I am not claiming to be a Del Toro or an Arriaga or a Yamashita. What I am saying, rather, is that none of this seems the tiniest bit alien or daunting. It All Makes Sense.

Which, from a certain twisted perspective, is among the more depressing notions to confront, as it suggests that my slow progress is not due to any innate shortage of ability or understanding, but rather stems from a disease called Laziness.

I hate these sorts of moments of clarity.

"In the end, we get the life we deserve."
navel-gazing waffle cone B

06 February 2007

sick sucks

So, roiughly a week ago one of my kids comes home from school with a slight fever. He misses one day, never really seems especially uncomfortable or out of sorts, and then goes back without a care/ Two days later, I start to feel a little run down, and then I start to hack and cough a bit, and then WHAMMO—suddenly I feel like I've been tossed from a moving train.

I spent the better part of Friday, Saturday and Sunday wrapped in a blanket, in bed, moaning and groaning when i wasn't having weird fever dreams. I had to go make a token appearance at baseballl tryouts on Saturday afternoon, but given that I just needed to sit and make notes on some kids during tryouts, I figured that was low-stress enough to not rate much concern.

I was wrong.

Saturday night I was ready to crawl into a hole and die. I was snorking down so many over the counter cold and flu meds that my world was looking a lot like the Beatles's YELLOW SUBMARINE.

Sunday was 18 hours of sleep, more meds, and then Monday I went to see the doc. By the time I acatually made it in for an appointment, I was feeling a lot better. Doc spends maybe 3 minutes looking into facial openings, checks breathing, takes my temp. "Looks like you had the flu. Seems on the retreat now. Here's a scrip for some strong antibiotics. Don't waste your money unless you're feeling worse on Tuesday. See ya."

Thanks, doc.

So today I feel weirdly out of sorts—like I've been sleeping 18 hours a day for days at a stretch or something—and I have a weird nervous twitchy feeling which is probably the final bit of sinus congestion fading, and suddenly I realize that I've been MIA from productive work for almost 5 days now.


Did anything happen while I was away?