Friday, March 19, 2010

Heaven & Hell Part 3

This is the third of a continuing blog detailing the adventures of working on a TV series which I entitle "Living in Heaven, Working in Hell" referring to being able to live in an incredible setting, the heart of the Rocky Mountains, and having to work with difficult partners, bosses, producers and others.

Travel Day still exists and I will continue to keep you up on it's progress as well as Chaser, the screenplay we will film a trailer for in order to fund the full production.

But back to Vancouver.

After Jonathan and Kaplan said they were firing me from the job, their sudden turn-around wanting me to stay was a shock. To this day I don't know why they kept me. I only knew that they would have to pay me a bundle to go and this way may have been cheaper. Or maybe the network guy Litman liked my writing. In fact  he had said it was the best script of all 3 we were working on.

Over the week-end I did a marathon rewrite of the Avalanche story, creating more depth in the characters. I have found that rewrites on screenplays usually revolve around 2 things: character and clarification.

Clarification is simple; it's where a reader doesn't quite understand the action taking place, it might be confusing or maybe incorrect. Those rewrites are easy.

Character is different. Nobody can really define character, the description is: A collection of features and traits that form the individual nature of a person; moral quality. Easy enough to define, but how do you write it.

I write it by giving the role some defining characteristics, they might be shy or brave or both. They might like babies or cats. They like sugar in their coffee or they are angered at the sight of injustice. Those are characteristics. In other words, give them characteristics that relate to the reader and then the viewer. Make them empathetic, like you or me.

Character is what creates conflict and that in turn creates story. The Terminator's character is that of focused killer while Sarah Conner's character is of strength, bravery and fear.

Monday morning I send the script to the network. Litman loves it and even the distribution head of the network, Al Roadman thinks it's one of the best scripts he's ever read.

I never really handle compliments well as I know the down side, they expect more of you than the others. So I just smile and say I'm glad they like it. And knowing that I've set the bar for Kaplan and Jonathan doesn't sit well, regardless if I think it was a good script or not. I will pay for forcing them into a corner.

And it doesn't change the way I feel about Jonathan and Kaplan. They are not to be trusted. Not even with who pays for lunch.

This mild paranoia would increase but eventually turn into anger and disappointment.

Two days later I'm told we head for the location where we will live and work for 6 months. I'm getting tired of raining Vancouver and look forward to life in a small town. The last night I meet my ex, Carole, for a few drinks and we catch up on each other's lives. She is married and doing well and I'm glad we are still friends.

As I walk her to the car, she tells me that the Australian Shepherd dog we had bought years ago is in the car. The dog, Sookie, is older now and in severe pain, something that her breed seems to have. But her excitement at seeing me after about 3 years is so sincere, the little dog serves as a truth in the world of lies and betrayal I am putting myself in. It would be the last time I saw her.

I watch them drive off into the rain and thing how precious life is, even in the form of a speckled blue-eyed dog who displayed that fantastic trait of unconditional love that animals have. And for the moment Jonathan and Kaplan are not that important.

24 hours later I am driving my Explorer, which I drove from California, into the Rocky Mountains and my new 6 month job. Ahead of me, work, friends, enemies, women, a crazy man, rangers, grizzly bears and a silly TV show that in the end, didn't matter that much at all.

(Monday:  Settling into a new world)

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