Travel Day made the top 50 movie blogs in 2010's MovieMaker magazine survey. It now has readers in the US, Canada, Great Britain, Ukraine, Russia, France, India, Moldova and Romania. Thanks to all of you for hanging with us.
I have worked in film and television for well over thirty years and in practically every aspect of the business from soundman to news cameraman,commercial writer, director and producer and screenwriter.
I have 20 movie credits as writer and about 30 hours of episodic. Credits can be seen under Materials on the left side of the blog.
Now in 2015 this blog started in 2009 as a real-time journal of the making of an independent feature film entitled Travel Day, but the project fell through but was optioned last year.
One of the best blogs was when I worked on a TV series blog entitled "Living in Heaven, Working in Hell" about a TV series that was a disaster. It started March 15, 2010 . Click below to the 2010 blogs
I will regularly post new blogs on Mondays and sometimes Fridays.
I'm just wrapping up the damn book finally. It has been something I wanted to just get away from, having to handle transferring files and folders to my format guru and dealing with Dropbox and other silly names, each of which is enough to drive someone crazy.
So, I sat and watched the oscars to get away from the techie part of book publishing.
Was Seth great. In my judgment not all that great, most of my friends gave him a C minus. The William Shatner thing was way too long and not funny. I followed Niki Finke's blow by blow commentary with some spies inside that said nobody was laughing and that some women were not fond of the "boobs" song.
Then there were the politics. Here in LA the word is that nobody likes Spielberg because he just has too much and that made it unlikely that Lincoln would win. Personally I thought it was a good movie, worthy of an Oscar. But only DDL got a statute for his role as Lincoln and he sure earned it.
Then there was the Bond thing; seems that for the 50th anniversary of James Bond, they wanted all of the Bonds to appear on stage. However Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan dislike the remaining Brocolli family, whose father made most of the movies and apparently didn't always pay the actors their promised shares. Not that it ever happens in Hollywood anyways.
So the audience ended up with 76 year old Shirley Bassey who still has some chops and brought back a memory for me hearing Goldfinger once again, still the best Bond song of the bunch.
Then there was the tribute to Hollywood musicals, mainly Chicago, which coincidentally was produced by the two producers who were also producing the Oscar show. Coincidence??
The jokes were a bit lame and not all that funny and I wonder if Bruce Velanche (not sure of spelling) was around, he is arguably the best comic writer for the awards, the big fat guy with a fantastic wit and memory.
Then the bigger controversy -- 3 movies, Argo, Zero Dark Thirty. Argo, as I mentioned before is not a great movie and Zero Dark is, but with baggage. Ironically both directors were ignored and thus the "Hollywood Saves America" Argo became the hero because poor Ben didn't get nominated. I think it had to do with both directors as the DGA is pretty much an old boy's club and since Bigelow won for Hurt Locker, that was enough to satisfy the old boys.
And for Ben, well I don't think he's a great director, he certainly wasn't a great actor as his last starring movies were bombs. I'm not including the movies where he's part of a bigger cast.
And of course, the movie Good Will Hunting came up. But it's well known that both William Goldman and Tarentino both did rewrites for that movie, so Ben's real talents are still vague.
But at least he finally did thank Canada at the end.
So should Seth come back; younger people think he's great, older people can't forget Johnny Carson but it's a complicated issue. Johnny's gone now and nobody really will ever be as good as he was because he was one of "them", meaning stars. And he was just better suited than a new host every year.
So next year, if they lose the producers, maybe Tina Fey and Amy Pohler... or God forbid Chelsey Handler.
Back to the book, it has to be finished next week... or else.
My book on screenwriting is almost finished, I've gone over it at least six times and always find an error or a typo. Getting a real editor would cost over $1000 and I really don't think I'd make it back, so I'm the editor.
A week ago someone asked me to define the "breaks" that I either found or ran into, that carried me to a reasonable amount of work and that continues to this day and tomorrow.
The breaks in question are things like making something that got attention, meeting someone who enabled me to climb up a few more rungs, stuff like that. I finally made up a short list that explains how I got to where I am. Or as I like to say it, "a race to the middle". Us Canadians tend to be humble.
Break One: My first break came when I was looking for a summer job while going to college in Detroit. I went to the gov't employment agency and they offered a few office jobs and a job in the mailroom of my local TV station. But they were permanent jobs. I always liked TV and radio and figured I would lie my way in and leave at the end of summer like many students did.
I got the job and it started on a Monday. I walked into the office and some kind of magic began to happen. And when I walked into a darkened studio with big TV cameras hanging like dinosaurs, I realized one thing. This would be my life.
Break Two: One summer I got a leave of absence and my wife and I went to the Banff School of Fine Arts for 2 months, I for film and she for photography. Working at the TV station I already knew more than the instructors here but it was more about a great road trip for us. That's when I met Phil Borsos, a truly talented filmmaker. That meeting would become a company we formed in Vancouver and where we made Cooperage, a short film that won awards in Athens, Sydney, Chicago, American Film Festival and won the Canadian equal of the Oscar and also became a finalist in the 1976 Academy Awards.
That short film opened the doors for both of us, Phil made The Grey Fox, and I made my Ghostkeeper movie. That pushed us upwards into a different league. I met director Paul Lynch who knew of Phil and I and he read a script of mine and then proceeded to get me an agent in L.A.
Break Three: I entered a lottery for Green Cards, the much sought-after immigration card that so many wish for. The lottery was a one-of for Canada and I sent a single letter and got my card. That changed my life totally as I moved to L.A. in 1990.
Break Four: I wrote a screenplay called Emperor of Mars, which, if you follow this blog, you'll know that it was my breaking in screenplay to Hollywood and I got meetings with every studio and network and production company in town.
A student once asked a friend of mine how he could be as big as my friend was in the business. My friend said it was easy; just start at a TV station and work 35 years.
Simple, isn't it? Just have to work 35 years, some years are great, some are awful and most are okay. I am where I wanted to be when I was 8 years old. Can't argue with that.
Well, two more down on the road to Oscar. Actually one, given that the Grammies are music only, unless you count the videos.
I watched the BAFTA awards from Great Britain Sunday night, and it was more American than British. All of the big movies were American and they had a special category for British Films, sort of like the poor brother. And Ben Affleck won his movie and his directing gig and everything else, I think. Well, not everything. Daniel Day Lewis won for best actor.
If you've followed my blog, I'm not particularly a fan of Ben, never thought he was much of an actor, more like the John Gavin of his generation (you'll have to google that one). And his acting life didn't really last long without Matt Damon by his side. So what does an actor whose career is dying do?
Well he goes to Harvey Weinstein who can sell elephants to Mars or anything else. So as long as the budget isn't too high, Harvey gave Ben a new career. This is actually pretty common, especially in TV, where actors who see that once their series are done... they're out of a job. So it's not unusual for them to ask the producers if they can direct an episode or two. Because if nobody calls for an acting gig, they can say they have directed.
Now, that's not a big deal, but it takes away jobs from real directors in many cases. After all, the producers and crews like to have actors hanging out with them. So actors who want to direct have a somewhat unfair advantage.
Sure there's good actor-directors, Clint Eastwood is one of the best, also Sydney Pollack and the best one, Woody Allan. But they are tremendously talented too. And a handful of others including Redford and Kostner.
But it's rare to see an actor become a writer for TV or films. In fact I don't think I've heard of any. And even though actors read scripts as much as writers, or even more, they don't seem inclined to write.
One advantage to directing is that you don't have to direct alone. You have a whole crew there to help you. And you have the greatest asset, a cameraperson (DP) who can really shoot the movie without you doing anything. Really. I know. All you need to direct is a great DP and a great editor and in most cases, they will make the movie even if you never say a word.
Now let's get to writing? Hmnnn... nobody to help you. No DP, no editor, no crew, no per diems or lunches and dinners and the craft service table filled with tasty snacks.
Nope, you're by yourself, and that computer screen. Just you and all the characters in your mind. And sometimes even they don't want to show up.
So... have you figured out why actors don't become writers?
Well, maybe a few do. Let me know if you find any who have produced writing credits.
This week the screenwriting book is making my life hectic and divided. Getting advice from several graphic designers, and different takes on it. I have to get it done by week-end and am trying to fill in the holes.
That's where you come in.
I'm posting the cover, still needs work and lots of holes and places that need re-designing. Have a look at it and send a comment or suggestion, good or bad. Be honest.
Some of the lettering on cover needs to be lowered. Text on back is too hard to read, suggesting white on black.