Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Blogger sucks

Or at least the "WYSIWYG" interface does. What you see is most decidedly not what you get. It doesn't seem to matter what I select for font sizes because regardless of what I select, no post seems to render in the blog as depicted in the "Preview".

The Rocker

I've seen "The Rocker" twice in pre-screenings. The two most important things of note are that Gertrude looks great on camera, and the little background scene that my son Travis and I did made it into the final cut. :-)

The film itself is a bit predictable and formulaic, but I think it works pretty well. It's like School of Rock in that you have to look past some of unlikely and improbable circumstances presented in it and take it for what it is; a fun, feel good flick with a lot of great lines, good gags, and a well crafted and portrayed character at its core.

FOX decided not to hire Gertrude out for further promotions. I think in part because they're not allocating all that much in terms of marketing dollars for the film. The marketing is pretty grassroots, with the bulk of it being put into prescreenings in select cities, and a few contests online. Not sure what their strategy is, but I think that the film has potential to surpass any expectations they may have set for it and I don't think the marketing effort is conveying that sort of faith in it. The early reviews have been a bit mixed, and harsh, as critics often can be, but I really don't think that the targeted demographic for this flick pays much attention to the critics. Personally, I feel that everyone did a wonderful job, the film is fun and I would recommend seeing it.

Blue about Bluecat

I didn't make the quarterfinals in Bluecat, but I can't say that I'm surprised. Not because I don't think my writing was good enough. It's more because I don't think any of my scripts had what they were looking for. The impression that I get is that they're looking for something that's perhaps a little edgy, and uniquely personal. I think that all but one of my submitted concepts was truly derivative from a story perspective. What they lacked was a genuine infusion of some sort of personal struggle or perspective. It's arguable whether or not I was able to achieve that in any of my scripts, but I think my next efforts will draw directly from and be based directly on, personal experiences and explore themes that I have struggled with in my own life. They may not be the most action packed or thrilling, but they will deal with real, relatable struggles and have characters based directly on people from my life story.

There's still Nicholls, but I can't say I'm terribly optimistic about the outcome there either.

It's been two years since I completed a feature length script. It's time to take everything I've learned and apply it to an effort that really explores something closer to me and less contrived.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Press Day Pictures

Pictures from the press day event for The Rocker can be viewed at my flickr account.

From the looks of it, and the reports that Mike gave, it was a great time.

I didn't end up meeting with that studio interested in LOD last week, although I did trade emails with one of the guys I'll be talking to regarding the film. I can't say much at the moment, but there's every indication that I could get some big news next week.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Check from FOX

Today I received my first (but hopefully not my last) check from a major movie studio. It was payment for the work that we did on Monday for having Gertrude at the press day out west for "The Rocker".

Even though it wasn't for writing or directing, it was a neat moment to see a check from "Twentieth Century FOX Film Corporation" with my name on it. The check for the use of the coach during production last summer actually came from the production company, "Rocan" not FOX.

I'm going to frame a copy of it and hang it over the desk that I do most of my writing at.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Rocker Press Day

The press day that Gertrude attended for "The Rocker" went really well and the report from my partner on this venture, Mike Rotta, was that the cast was happy to be reunited with her. It sounded like they weren't expecting her to be there. It sounded like a fun time and I wish I could have been there.

Most of the major entertainment news reporting networks and shows had booths set up and conducted interviews. MTV apparently did their interviews with Rainn Wilson on Gertrude in the front lounge.

Mike took a ton of pictures and one of the photographers there for the event promised he'd send Mike a bunch of shots. I'll post them on the blog as soon as I get them.

My meeting with the production company has been moved to Friday @ 3:00.

Friday, May 30, 2008

"The Rocker" Update

The trailer for "The Rocker" is finally up on apple trailers, you can check it out here.

My bus, "Gertrude" in the film, is on her way out west for a publicity photo shoot on Monday. I wish I could have gone, but it was sort of short notice. She's in great shape - though she looks beat to hell in her "movie makeup" so it would have been a fun road trip. My friend Mike Rotta is driving her the 1,700 miles from Brownsville Texas to the undisclosed location in CA where the shoot will be. We'll probably store her out west for a while until FOX decides if they'll need her for anything else.

There are a total of thee shots in the trailer where you can see at least pieces of Gertrude:

- The shot where Fish gets whacked by the tree branch from sticking his head out the escape hatch.
- The shot where he's drunk at night standing on top of her.
- The shot looking back at the rear lounge where Josh Gad and the other kid high five (and miss)

A little piece of trivia is that there was a bunch of production staff sitting in the back of the coach while the DP Tony Richmond and a process car photographed the establishing shots of her driving around Cleveland.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Nicholl Confirmations

The other day I finally got the letters confirming my first two ever entries into the Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowship, regarded by many as the only screenwriting contest in the industry that really matters. I don't think I have a prayer of even making the quarter finals. The letter indicated there were 5,200 entries this year; not a record, but a respectable number nonetheless. Regardless of what happens, t's fun just knowing that I'm in, any good news will be a bonus. They tell you not to expect to hear anything until the first week in August.

A few weeks ago, I met with a company in the Boston area that produces small independent feature films, and just landed a deal to produce a bunch of "movie of the week" films for major cable network. They're also looking for some new, small budget indie features they can produce on their own, so I gave them a copy of LOD for the hell of it, which they apparently liked - I have meeting to discuss it with them next week. It was interesting because when I asked the president of the production company if he liked LOD, his response was, "I enjoyed it, but... You seemed like such a nice young man." I'm not sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing, but I suppose I'll find out next week.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Opening doors?

The more I think about it, the more I think that I should have done something like this long ago, but then again, I suppose things always happen in exactly the right order and I shouldn't question it.

I'm talking about approaching local production companies for support. I did this once, a couple of years ago, with only modest success. Partially I think because the company that I was dealing with, while solid in its own right, was not at the right stage for the type of stuff that I was doing.

I had a very encouraging meeting today with a local (Boston based) production company which, for the moment shall remain nameless. Suffice to say, they do a lot of cool stuff for networks like Discovery, National Geographic and PBS. The guy that I met with, I have to say, has been very persistent, patient and accommodating with regard to getting me in there and dealing with timing and schedule issues. He also had a lot of great things to say about my work, which was a huge boost for my confidence.

While most of my projects were a pass, there were some things like The Silver Eagle Story and this new project I've been thinking about for a while which seemed like they may be a fit for this company.

I've been very fortunate to have a respectable group of people working in the industry who've been really good and gracious to me. They've expressed confidence in my work when I was unsure of myself. They've provided unflagging support and guidance and reassured me that it would only be a matter of time before things fell into place for me. I've always appreciated that, and it's always meant a great deal to me.

Today however, was different.

While today's meeting didn't result in a big sale, or a pledge to turn any of my concepts into shows, I felt as though I'd stepped through a door that I've for the longest time been standing on the threshold of peering through a large enough crack for people to notice me, but not really pay me much attention. Today was for some reason different. Time will prove whether or not it will result in anything, but I felt a sincerity and sense of acceptance and validation in my skills as an artist that I hadn't really felt before. I'm not sure what it was that made this meeting so different, but I felt it, and it felt really good.

I admit that I'm still a very long way from claiming success in this endeavor. I'm not even remotely close in terms of relying on it as a means of financial support, but today, I feel as though I've stepped over the threshold of that very first, and very big and very important door.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Nicholl Fellowship

I managed to get my entries into both Bluecat and Nicholl. I was hoping to get one of the new projects that I recently started into Nicholl, but I ended up starting much too late. It's too bad because although I feel good about the entries that made it, "Light of Day" and "Rescuing Champ", (I also entered a script called "The War In My Backyard" into Bluecat) I was looking forward to getting something new submitted that was based on a more personal topic.

I do have a meeting this week with a production company in Boston who has expressed an interest not only in my reality show concepts, but LOD as well.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

FOX Update

So it's been almost a month, but I finally had my "meeting" with FOX. It amounted to an hour conversation on the phone with one of their young producer/executives.

For the most part, it went as I'd expected it would go, and it was for the most part pretty anticlimactic. It was helpful in that the guy clearly reviewed everything in both my reel and writing sample and was genuinely (or seemed genuinely) impressed with my efforts thus far. His favorite piece seemed to be my music video, Galaxy Girl.

His end comment essentially was that he felt my skills were pretty solid and that he'd have no problem introducing me to someone that could help me through another door, such as an agent, but I really didn't take much stock in that. It took so long just to get the guy on the phone that I doubt seriously that he'll remember any commitment that he may have made. That's not really a jab at this guy - I'm just sure that he has much bigger fish to fry than giving a leg up to some guy that hasn't really made it yet. It's not a pessimistic outlook on the situation either; it's the stark reality of it.

I am quite a long way from giving up. I came to the realization long ago that perseverance is everything in this game, but in truth, I wasn't expecting a lot from this meeting. I was hoping for, at a bare minimum, some validation of my skills as a filmmaker, so that's what I pressed him for. I feel that I managed to get that, but I don't think there's a great deal more that will come from this relationship, despite what was promised on the phone. It's not up to guys like this exec as to whether or not I make it anyway - that is up to me entirely.

Friday, February 29, 2008

"The Audition" Complete

I posted a while back about a comedic short that I'd shot and had been asked to edit for some friends of mine called "The Audition".

It's finally completed, and I posted on Crackle.com today:

From Crackle: The Audition

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bluecat Screenplay Competition

It has been a long time since I've entered a screenwriting competition. I ran across the Bluecat competition the other day which looked pretty interesting and renewed my interest in such competitions. I've entered two screenplays into it so far, and plan on entering LOD once the current draft is complete. Apart from being run by Gordy Hoffman, brother of actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the other interesting aspect of the competition is that it offers feedback for every script entered. Late entrants (like me) won't see the feedback until July, but not many contests offer this sort of added value for the cost of entry.

I'm thinking of giving the Nicholls Fellowship a shot this year as well. I've no idea if my stuff has what it takes to win, but even getting to the quarter finals in Nicholls can be helpful and while the odds of winning the Nicholls are long, they seem to be improving a bit. In the past few years, the number of entries received has been in a downward trend
; 2007 saw over a 1000 fewer entries than their 2004 record of 6073. I don't know how much this trend really improves my chances, but it certainly can't hurt them.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Pickin' Apples

I've finally entered into the world of Apple products. I bought a Mac today, a 13 inch 2.2 gig, core 2 duo Macbook. It looks like a pretty nice machine, but it's not for me. My daughter has been after me for the last year to get her a laptop. I finally relented and told her that if she didn't mind getting a Mac, and occasionally sharing it with dad, she could get one. While I've been assured by James that Macs have their share of issues too, I'm sick of dealing with viruses, not to mention paying for virus protection "suites", and dealing with the shitty multimedia capabilities in Windows.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Release date for "The Rocker" announced

Fox Atomic has announced the release date for "The Rocker" as April 18th. If you go to the Fox Atomic web site, you'll see a promotional picture for the film, with my bus all made up as "Gertrude" in the background.

You can see pictures I took while on location for the last two days of filming, here.

My son Travis and I did some background acting work for a couple of shots in front of the Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame. It will be interesting to see if those shots made it into the finished film.

Still no word on my meeting.

Monday, January 28, 2008


I should probably point out that I'm not at all trying to turn this into some sort of movie review/analysis blog. I've just had some time to myself lately that I've decided to blow on seeing some films in the theater rather than waiting for the DVD.

About ten years ago, I was on the big island of Hawaii at this great five star resort called the Mauna Lani Bay as part of an award package for the sales team that I was on at the time. At dinner one night, a waiter passed our table with this really amazing looking dessert. It had a couple of different kinds of fruit in it, some sort of mango looking ice cream, and this fancy looking cylindrical web of white chocolate sitting atop a carefully placed dollop of whipped cream. I said to myself, "my god I have to get one of those" and hailed our waiter. When my highly anticipated confectionery creation finally arrived, I soon discovered that even a five star resort can disappoint, and while it looked fabulous sitting there, and I did eat most of it, it wasn't all that satisfying. A clear case of being deceived by the appearance of something that not only looked well done, but seemed really interesting and different... Cloverfield was a very similar experience.

The best way to describe the film is that it was shot in HD; that is to say a "Highly Derivative" manner. Whoever it was that proclaimed that there are few, if any, original concepts left in Hollywood, clearly had films like this in mind.

Its technical execution, and effects were very well done. but it was so short on story and good performances that I had a tough time tolerating it - even as a popcorn movie.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

More Oscar Contenders

I went to see "Atonement" and "No Country For Old Men" this weekend. They are both great films with amazing casts and exceptional performances all around. I particularly loved the long tracking shot in Atonement on the beach as the soldiers were waiting to be picked up. The shot went on endlessly and was just really well done. No Country had its great moments as well - truly an amazing film with colorful characters that was done in that laconic Coen brothers style. One thing that's always a great feature of the Coen brothers films is the dialog. This film was no exception. There was damn little of it, but what was there was amazing. Javier Bardem is intense and played such a great villain in "No Country". I've always thought Keira Knightley a great actress and she was at the top of her form as Cecilia in Atonement.

The thing that's great about seeing films that are this good is that they give you great ideas, or make you think about elements that may be applicable to your work. While LOD is not all that close to the No Country story, there are some vaguely familiar elements and themes between the two which I found encouraging. The thing that sucks about having similarities to popular films is that when people see LOD they're likely to say something like "they stole that from No country" when in reality most of the similar stuff was baked into LOD long ago.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Silver Eagle Update

It turns out the events relating to what will be the end of the Silver Eagle story as it's being told in my documentary are playing out in Brownsville TX. The first of the new coaches since the factory was reopened is about to be delivered. I need to get down there in the next couple of weeks to get footage of the test drive and the delivery.

I'll need probably another 8 hours of footage including B roll and some of the interviews that I'm missing. I guess I better get cracking and complete the logging and the script so I can figure out _exactly_ what I need.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Back from my break

2008 is off to a bit of a slow start for me. I'm pretty behind on blogging, I'm going to try and get better.

My partner in NY and I have had a number of people on the hook for one of my reality pilots (Star Coaches) but nothing has materialized. With the show being pitched at the NATPE conference in Vegas on the 28th, I feel pretty good about the prospects. I'm pretty much convinced that 08 is the make or break year for the reality stuff. The principals are still very interested in participating both with Coaches and the Big Idea Hunt, but the material I have is becoming dated, and we need to move it along. Fingers and toes are crossed, I think the timing is good (with regard to the WGA strike), now all we need is a little luck.

I attended Imagine Magazine's holiday party earlier this month and had the pleasure of meeting C. Palmer Stinson of Timefissure Animation Studios. Palmer took interest in a spec script that I'd written for an animated feature called "Rescuing Champ". I've developed a couple of character concepts to build some shorts around which will give us the chance to test our collaboration on such projects. I'm really looking forward to it. I've already handed in two concepts and one script that he and his team are pretty excited about.

The train continues forward on LOD. We've had a couple of meetings on it, and have a seasoned local NH producer that's expressed interest in acting at least in an advisory capacity for LOD. He seems fairly impressed with the work that James and I did on Alibi, and he said that he liked the Galaxy Girl music video that I did last year... Sounds odd to say it, but yes, that video was shot nearly a year ago... Damn. Anyway, once this guy has read the script, I'll post more about him. For now, he's pledged small role in behind the scenes advisory support that is very important to us, but I don't want to say too much until I can really gauge how interested he is in the project.

Another reality concept that I cut the development teaser reel for and wrote the "one sheet" treatment for has gone to a fully funded pilot which is pretty exciting. I think there's an excellent chance of it getting picked up by a network. It's been getting quite a lot of local media coverage in the Atlanta area, and is currently being cast.

In the last month or so, I've manged to get out to a fair number of films, including; "Charlie Wilson's War (fun/great) ", "Before The Devil Knows You're Dead (excellent)", "Lars and the Real Girl (fun/great)" and "Into the Wild (excellent)". I also went to see Sweeney Todd (eh), and while Depp and Burton always manage to deliver something interesting (which this was) and fun (which this was if you're Hannibal Lecter), this one was just a bit too... odd for me (funny how it works out that "odd" is actually in the title :-) ). Next on my list are; "Atonement", "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly", "No Country For Old Men" and "There Will Be Blood".