Monday, December 9, 2019

Teaching







I'm considering teaching screenwriting again on line. I've done it before as you can see above and have enjoyed it teaching UCLA in Los Angeles. Also, I have a book on screenwriting which you can learn page by page. You can also see the book.

The sheet above is hard to put on due to the real size, sorry to do it too small.

Here's a page or so of what I wrote.

1-Liner response

First of all, I have to say the some of the ideas presented this class are some of the most interesting and challenging ideas I’ve seen for a long time. I am anxiously looking forward to their development.

 What you strive for in this business, is to come up with something recognizable, yet fresh and different. There are only a handful of stories in this world, constantly retold. What makes a tired story fresh – that’s hard to say but easy to see afterwards. What made The Graduate different from all the college teen movies before it, what made the Godfather different from the Cagney/Edward G. Robinson movies, what made The Unforgiven different from True Grit.

 The studios want something they recognize, thus the genres… a suspense thriller will always get attention, it gets an audience. Basic Instinct was no different than tons of “noir” stories, but they pushed up the sex and cast it with Douglas and Stone and it worked. This is what you have to do and it isn’t necessarily a compromise either. This goes for art movies as well, Merchant & Ivory created a demand for British period pieces, but mostly because they cast and made them well, with great scripts that related to today.

 One of the problems I see so much today are writers who are reasonably good, but who write clichés. They lack originality. Some of these writers sell their work, but it’s because they have connections and/or are in the “club”. I can almost sell an action adventure story without even thinking about what I’m writing, I can send you a script I wrote for a director friend that literally has no idea, just a series of clichéd scenes, and the damn thing is going into production, albeit for a low budget of $500,000.

 But I wrote it in 2 weeks, start to finish, almost as a joke. But I have those connections and they know what they’ll get in a Makichuk script is something that they can cast and film and will have reasonably interesting characters.  And someone watching it can say, “I can write something as good as that”, and they can. But they won’t be able to sell it without connections and a reputation. 

But I “earned” that position by writing some really good scripts, most of which still haven’t been made and may never be made, so it’s really a two-edged sword, I can write things that can sell, but still have problems making my best scripts.

But I’m not alone in that, everyone in this town has trouble trying to make what they want, with the exception of a few at the top, and even they have problems with projects close to their heart. Robert Duval had to finance The Apostle with his own money. I had a meeting at Dustin Hoffman’s company last year where they talked about a project Hoffman wanted to make for very little money but no studio in town would do it.

I am making my comments available to all of you at the same time, and would like you to read all of the comments rather than just your own (naturally I’m assuming you’ll do it anyways).  As I mentioned, some of you have far more experience in screenwriting than others, but I can balance my comments to all of you at whatever level you’re at.

 And remember that the choice is yours, these are only my comments. I want you to take into consideration all that the others have mentioned in the forums and make your own decisions.  And remember, you can talk about the ideas with me, but you need to start working on the one-page outline this week.

So that's a little bit of on-line teaching.

Might send you a few more bits and piece



Wednesday, December 4, 2019

So that's when you can't lose your boss.






So again, you have to keep those payroll people and the bosses remembering that they have to pay you. Of course my screenplay was read a bunch of times around town but until it hit Hallmark where it was dumped into a pile for three years.

I think I mentioned it before, but just for the newbies. A woman who knew some people at Hallmark (notice "friend/friends) rooted into a bunch of scripts and somehow she liked the script and that she could make it.

And yes, she optioned it. Of course you never know that anything ever goes through the optioning. I waited for a month or so and gave up. I think June or so. 

Then, if you read the story this last week, I never knew that the screenplay was read and seen without anyone telling me anything. If my director friend didn't come into contact with the producer I really would have never known I had a fully packed with Writer's Guild of Canada.

Nobody believed me.

Then, as you read (it has a date of the screenplay) nobody knew I existed. 

So then, I called WGC of course and they were all ready to do what WGC does. And if you read, it took just over 2 weeks to settle. Actually not settle, it was mine. Read it again if you haven't in the last week.

I went through all types of people who pass everything to someone else. There was a problem because I lived in L.A. and was it WGA or WGC. 

Finally, it all came to the end. I got a phone call from a woman with a rusty voice like she had been at this company more than the company itself. I immediately thought that she was the one.

She was, working probably when the company opened. She knew everything right now and there. She knew her stuff. It was Friday and she and her hoarse voice said simply;

"You'll have it Monday."

And guess what;  She did.

And by the way, wanna know who bought the screenplay?

She liked the young girl in the Christmas movie because the young girl reminds her of her daughter.




Monday, December 2, 2019

All for Christmas






Well, sorry for being so long. Transferring from XP to much faster with other things that make me crazy  with computers. 

And Christmas also comes to that nice season where everything is pure and nice.

Well, almost nice.

Well, some of you might have read my pre- Christmas story of which I'll tell you how to write a Christmas story in June and how it was never paid. My Christmas Story was written early around 2010. I had a few people who liked it but haven't made any deals. The script went to Hallmark and they kept it as far as I knew. 

Then a lovely lady found the screenplay amongst the other Christmas stories and she loved it. Well, sort of, she loved the lovely girl in the lovely screenplay. So it was taken for consideration. 

The screenplay was possibly going to get made. I didn't really think it would have been made so I wasn't really hopeful. Several months passed by and nothing happened. 

Until ---

A friend of mine was in Toronto for the film festival and happened to meet a producer friend of his who had several Christmas movies from Hallmark. So my friend knew I had a script somewhere around Christmas and asked him if my story was one of his?

The producer said that it was made.

So, now, what did my friend mention to me in L.A. that my Christmas movie was not only filmed and it's being sold here.

And I did not know it was made.

Then I had to talk with the producer and other people and took two weeks to finally get paid. There it took several people who were struggling to figure out why I wasn't paid.

I actually have a good piece of work explaining how I got my money. I'm trying to find that piece of work and bring it out again.

Found it.

Go to:  Monday, April 17 2017
 (Where you can see how my screenplay payment took all of 2 wks.)







Monday, November 25, 2019

Blood Games





Sorry again, just a bunch of work to try to work with my original agent who wants to hang with him as he's been down for a while. At my time, there's few agents who want anyone who hasn't been seen or didn't want to see me and more or they are out of the agencies forever.

So my first real agency I found a smart woman was on Hollywood Boulevard and figured that this might take me somewhere where I could at least say "I've got an agent". She was working for a small company and was a lot smarter than her boss but still wasn't good enough to make me a hollywood jock.

But she did sell me a screenplay and it was made and you can actually see it on youtube.

So what did I write?

Before this moment, I had written this screenplay about a girl's baseball team who drives across America playing baseball with farmers and odd people and even now I still wonder why I wrote it. Maybe it was because my wife and I decided to go different ways.

So this movie was to be sort of a semi-hot girls baseball team who get into trouble with a bunch of hillbillies somewhere in places you don't want to go to.  And these girls and their driver/coach happen to find a bunch of rednecks.

So, I still wonder why I wrote it and even better someone bought it.

The girls were okay but someone got killed of course and the girls get out of town. But the bad guys are coming after them. But the girls weren't softies and so there's some real battles. But several girls are pretty tough. So it was a battle like that.

But some of the producers put me behind their own names. My name was way in the back.
But so I get a credit at the back. And I actually had a movie made.

I had a title before but someone decided to write it Blood Games. And yes, you can find it on youtube and most of the writing was actually was done by me, with less horror but more action.

Oh well.

My first movie.





Monday, November 18, 2019

Back again




Finally back from a lot of work on my laptop, eventually had to let it go and go to something a little big faster. Or they say so? So where was I?

Still having problems with my Ghostkeeper movie which I wrote and directed way back in 1983. Those of you who are wondering "I'm that old?" What about this, I had my first "laptop" that came from a video game called Atari which was one of the gaming companies for teenagers. And this was the big deal. Before this we (all screenwriters) slowly began to realize that this could be a great thing.

Here's how I worked.  I was typing on paper. Imagine that. And if you missed a word you would have to re-do your entire by the classic typewriters. If you spelled a word wrong you had to re-type it again. 

We thought this was the deal.

One of my friends was one of the first "laptop" which consisting of 2 screens. One for typing and one for giving you words. This was incredible. I would be able to type words electrically. I could change a bad word easily and the newer ones where even faster.

It was beating the typewriter by miles. I could write and make a mistake and correct it. In the old days I had to erase a word or even a sentence, or a whole page for one error. I had a newer one now and stash my Smith-Corona for ever. I had now was using the new screenwriter that I could read anything and if I made a mistake I simply pop the word out and re-do it in seconds.

So that's finishing finally. Now I can get back as long as my partially new laptop. 






Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Sorry - Ghostkeeper comes back - or not






Sorry but a lot of Gkpr stuff that will never get right, with a lot of people who have no heart. I know the business and how cruel it could be. Like I made a movie and they had nothing to it.

Funny about this, I never thought I'd get so much attention basically with all those horror people who "discovered" Gkpr made by a guy and the other day, who made a short film at the 1976 Academies. And the same winning in Canada the same year.

Well, there's a lot of problems now because someone took Gkpr for himself to sell and threaten anyone else for trying.

So I'm in one of those potential things for now.

Gotta work a little more for the next few days.

Never know what will become?

Hang on.


Meantime I'm ready for Terminator; Dark Fate




Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Vietnam






I left Vancouver (the Canadian city) and returned to my little city of Windsor at began going to Henry Ford Community College as this was Ford territory as well as GM and Chrysler.

This was the beginning for Vietnam and America and when you were over than 18 you were probably going to Vietnam. It didn't bother me because I was Canadian but I had a lot of American friends. This was also the beginning of battling with having to go and those who ran to Canada and stay there. Some went to jail.

Ironically I met a psych tech finishing her classes and was about three years older than me. We continued meeting in Detroit often and continued until.  And I still do. I have a street she might have lived on but that was gone.

But there was a war going on two fronts, Vietnam and also the anti-war movement which included both men and women and a few crazy groups. I decided to see what the battles were on both the U.S. and far away in another country which I wondered about. There was also that home front battle grounds. To me it was Detroit. I didn't know what I would do really, but wanted to be part of it.

Ironically I ended up in Indianapolis on a bus packed with hundreds of us going to work for Bobby Kennedy. I had never been to "Indiana" but was there in midnight in the bad part of town with a hundred or so of us looking for cheap hotels paid by Kennedy. I ended up the next days going to the black areas and I wondered how I would make it through. But I found the homes and families very happy to see me, they loved Bobby.

It was scary for sure, but being a Canadian boy in a dark city, it was a great time. But the best time was to be when Bobby came to town and I saw him in a car waving and smiling. I didn't know that a few months more he would be dead. I stayed more around Detroit now, closer to home and the bridge over two different cities. I would see my psych now and then as she was working in a hospital.

I found myself spending more time in the city and less in Canada. I had a dozen or so cousins as well who lived in Detroit, which made it much easier. But school became a problem, I wanted to do more of all the things going on in the big city and got into some radical group of which I realized I was not really hanging with these, they were far to dangerous for me. I also needed a job and had to go back to Windsor, the little city across the river.

But now in my 20's, I was thinking about a job, something that I could enjoy, even if my dad said that jobs aren't enjoyable. He worked as a garage mechanic, and a good one. But I was not sure about that. Windsor was a factory city, part of the massive Detroit city. Almost all of my friends worked in the big companies.

I went to a job office and looked at a few jobs until I noticed that there was an opening for the local TV station. As you know, I loved TV and always had dreams about it. Now was the chance. I went to the TV station that afternoon and had an interview. I had to promise to stay here forever of course, but I figured nobody would want someone who had a stammer. Nobody hires those people.

But magic did happen. They hired me. I was an office "boy" going from office to office and errands. For me, it was magic. I remember now how I entered the station and walk through the studios. It was empty and dark and the cameras seemed to hang their heads down like dinosaurs.

It was the movies! And I was in it. Sort off.

I lasted for 6 months until someone else left the station and left an opening. I was going to cut TV commercials. I was going to cut commercials to insert into the broadcasts. Remember this is very basic, 1966. I figured it out and kept cutting. I soon found that I would probably stay at that job until someone else dies.

Our radio station was also within the TV station and was actually a big-time radio station owned by Americans. And not too long, someone had left and there was an opening. Our radio station was the biggest around. "The Big 8" . And I applied.

But it wasn't exactly what I wanted. I was editing audios for the DJ's. (Disc Jockey). However it wasn't what I thought, it was fast, hard work and I really didn't belong. So I could go back to cutting commercials. Or I could be let go. We actually owned a major trio of radio stations that were huge.
And I wasn't particularly good at it.

So now what? Do I go back to cutting commercials?

Or do I just go?

Will I go back to writing articles against the war against Vietnam? I did some good writing for Vets For Peace.