Monday, January 16, 2017

Alan Surgal

 Another writer, Alan Surgal, died today. He wrote one really great movie with Warren Beatty and director Arthur Penn. He was 100 years old.

"Surgal intended Mickey One as a stage play, but revised it into a film script after consulting Penn. With its surrealism (and Stan Getz improvisations), cinematic experimentation and moody existentialism, the film has developed a strong following over the decades. Released during a newspaper strike in New York, it initially flopped. A restoration by the UCLA Film & Television Archive was conducted under the supervision of Martin Scorsese"

Unclaimed Dead

As I mentioned, this blog began in August 2009 and is now in 2017, eight years later. Amazing and with over one thousand readers.  And I'm wondering how much longer.

I've told you about the distributor who's going to make Ghostkeeper into Blu-ray in the next month or two, not a big deal really. There is the idea of streaming, but we lose even more money. 

And if you look back to 2009 and follow it upwards, I get something going and then it dies and then again and again.

You must wonder how I survive, sometimes I also do. There's an old joke about dying in the movie business. A normal guy with a job retiring asks his screenwriter friend when he'll retire. Friend says "When my head falls on my laptop". He waits a beat then says "And I want my laptop with me in my grave". Friend asks why? "Writer says "Maybe I'll get a good idea."

I still have ideas, every day, most die by the end of the day or next morning, but ideas always come. I had an idea last week based on an article I read in LA Times (you can get great ideas from newspapers). 

How's this for a title:

Unclaimed Dead.

Actually it's about all those people who die with no name or no family nor friends. Homeless ones are the obvious, but there are a lot of people who die with no family or anyone close to them.

There's a cemetery near downtown L.A. where the lost people end up in. It's not just for them and it goes back to the 1800's. That alone should get some of you getting ideas. When there's enough John Doe's and Jane Doe's, say a hundred or so, they are cremated and all put in nice packets and go into a big grave.

So I had the page for about 4 years and last week I had a brainstorm.  A good idea for that story. It felt just perfect. I told my friends, they all said it was a great idea. So I started clipping articles about the cemetery.

The idea was that two or three people decide to try to find the families or friends of some of the lost people. 

Sounds great.

I even wrote a few script pages. It felt good.

My theme was that these three people, similar to any of the CW shows, would find families whose member was lost. And there would be a happy ending, or not a happy ending. Some families don't want their long lost member.

And that's what killed it. The idea.

I got stopped. It wasn't good. 

Who wants to find packets of dust and take them back to their families. Not a good idea at all.
 So it's gone to the "dead file" :)

You want it? It's yours.

I'm not finished. My mistake is that I couldn't figure out how to do it as a series. For now, I don't know. Maybe one of you might?

Or it could be a movie. I actually have a movie script about a dead killer comes back to get even with the people who put him away.

So, instead I'm pushing around some of my best unsold screenplays until I get a new idea that I think can make it work.

Who knows? 

Maybe I'll do that lost dog story instead. Everyone loves dog stories. 


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Getting back finally...

 Okay, so I thought I'd show you my weekly stuff, most of which won't really get too much attention. It's more of a monthly piece but I redo it every week anyway. So we're on Tuesday, January 3 and I didn't really do anything yesterday either. 

So why the colors?

I like it and I can also easily find the subject in a few seconds or so. I don't really know who else does this, but I don't really mind. You are now looking at my secrets, or rather what I'm trying to do. I'll show you how it works --

Top box is most important I ordered 12 copies of "How to Not Get Beat Up etc" because I'm going to send copies to outdoor magazines, hoping that I can get some attention. Better than an email. 

Uber is another piece. Not really very much.

Ford Explorer -- my trusty 1996 Ford which is just beautiful and needs a rear end (don't we all). She was with me most of the years and now has 268,000 miles. Yep. And I'm keeping her.  

You can read the rest; the 4th box is what I'm trying to work on now, these are for 2017 and hopefully at least one will make it. I'm not really afraid of anyone stealing any ideas, in fact I welcome it, nobody writes the same way.

I've been doing this method for at least 3o years, I like it to be orderly and to have something to look at on the wall besides photos. The lowest box is probably not all that busy, in fact 

I accidentally put Station Dog story. That was a big deal a year ago, a dog tied up at a train station, left by someone who wrote a note to anyone who could take the dog because she couldn't afford to have him.

That story really hit me, and I know one day I'll write it. It's one of the many ideas I get from newspapers and I've done a few from those stories. I have a new one already up above, it's the script I'm just beginning.

The lowest box, as I said, aren't all that important. 

So this is what I plan. It won't necessarily happen for any one script, these are all scripts both feature and TV, including streaming networks if they buy it. Maybe I'll get one going, my new one is pretty good, I think, goes back a while.

In my screenplay book, I talk a lot about story and how stories are made up, usually from reality for me, I never make up a story that's not true.

Like my Christmas story, it was actually three separate events in my life; the first one was a broken-down car with my partner and her 3 kids. The "second act" was about how the family settled down for a week-end in a down and out town and finally a Christmas evening for everyone, which came from a grade-school Christmas I remembered from 1960's.

So, we're all here again, hope to count all of you hanging around, I'm trying to combine this blog and a web site where writers can talk to each other and read scripts and even take some writing lessons from my book.

So let's see where we go.