Monday, September 30, 2013

Breaking Bad meets The Searchers

Well, I'm gonna start in on how great The Searchers is, the classic western that was the strongest influence on my choice of career. You probably already know how I went on about how The Searchers influenced not only me but also Spielberg, DePalma, Scorceses, Lucas and a dozen or so writers and directors.

The scene above is from The Searchers, where John Wayne is ready to kill his niece but his half-breed nephew is protecting her. Very similar to Walter's last act.

So guess how Vince Gilligan ended Breaking Bad, in the final scene with the bad guys going to kill Walter but as we know now, Walter has the edge when his robotic machine gun blasts the warehouse office and anybody in it. Almost anybody.

Seconds before, Walter got the gang to bring in Jessie before the doomed bad guys planned to kill him and Walter leaped at Jessie and in doing so, saved his life rather than having him killed. And in that moment he took a bullet for Jessie.

Where does The Searchers come in? The ending of The Searchers has John Wayne face the Indian attack and wants to kill his niece because she's been "tainted" by the "savages". But at the last moment, he saves the lovely Natalie Wood instead of killing her.

So is this my own opinion?

Of course not, Vince himself said that the ending scenes were right out of The Searchers, modernized of course, but as he added "I stole from the best". 

I will miss Breaking Bad as much as I miss the Sopranos and I'm not one to replay old shows, once is enough for me, watching them over will make them less inspiring, in my mind. 

And another thing; why did one movie influence so many boomer writers and directors, maybe there's an article in that, there already are some, but what made that movie stand out so much for us.


Monday, September 23, 2013

I got a great idea but...

Back from my 1800 mile roadtrip through the Canadian prairie, seeing old homes and old friends and old highways. Always brings me back to where I came from and what I am.  Still a small town boy.

During that time our effort to raise money for Ghostkeeper 2 died miserably but as I mentioned in earlier posts, I expected that due to the lack of promotion and a fan base that wasn't enough. But I will continue to look for funds the old fashioned way, knocking on doors. And also crowdfunding will get a possible asset when an announcement comes offering investors into the mix.

Basically that means that a Kickstarter or Indiegogo project could get real investors rather than donations and that could be, as they say, a gamechanger.


Because investors want to not only get a return on their money, but also a profit. The announcement is supposed to happen this week.

So that's that.

But back to the title of this blog...

I recently finished a new spec screenplay called The President's Heart, got a great comment on The Black List (if you've never heard of this click on the link to your left). The story is about a U.S. President needing surgery in a foreign country. I thought it had a unique angle but tonight on CBS (Sept 23), at 10pm, a show called Hostages begins.

Okay, not exactly my idea but very close. Hostages concerns a family being taken hostage by "ruthless bad guys" who want the mom, a doctor who has to operate on the President, to accidentally kill him. 

There are a lot of similarities but still a lot more differences.

But this goes with the rule I made up years ago and it says this;

Whenever Jim thinks of a great idea, there are at least 5 other writers with the same idea. And they are:

One is thinking of the same idea.
One has started writing the same idea.
One has finished the screenplay.
One has sold their screenplay

And one that completed filming last January (or whatever).

So it just goes to show you how my idea (and most likely yours) has dopplegangers all over the place.

In my case, the reviews on the show are so-so but the one element that will kill the CBS show is that it's a series. And having a family being held hostage for 13 episodes is going to be hard to find ideas to keep it going. In short, it would be better as a feature film. After all how many times can the family attempt escape or chase someone away from their door while the bad guys threaten to kill their family?

Under The Dome was a better idea; have lots of people trapped in a bubble and begin to show the weaknesses of people under stress. But they have cars and roads and lots of places. Hostages has the house mainly and some FBI guys trying to stop it.

So what will I do with my screenplay?

Plan B is to send it to every producer I know and especially foreign producers as my story takes place in Europe. 

Here's the Black List comment on the idea:

"The premise of a presidential heart transplant is strong and commercial. It takes a personal need with a ticking clock, and transforms into a global crisis with a journey as its center. It's a smart base for an affordable political thriller which still has world-wide stakes."

I can live with that.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Heading south

 I'm finally heading south again and with me are hundreds and even thousands of wild geese who are also heading south for the winter. It's quite a sight and I've forgotten how impressive their numbers are and how they fly towards a warmer climate leaving behind bears, wolves and other wild life that have to slug it out in sub-arctic temperatures. And of course, those pesky humans who retreat to the warmth of their homes.

Yesterday I watched them from my car as groups of geese, sometimes a dozen, sometimes a hundred, accompanied by the constant honking that fills the northern skies.

People like my cousin don't exactly see them in such a light since the geese land for the night and usually prefer fresh cut wheats and other crops. For my cousin, they're stealing his wheat and the blast of a rifle into the sky sends them flying away. Of course he also has beavers who block up his dirt roads with sticks and mud that eventually make a tiny creek into a fair-sized pond. They too are amazing to watch.

All of this so far from L.A., where the only honking comes from impatient drivers.

But for today, I follow the geese.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Where I came from

I've been a little slow on blogging, mostly because I was traveling across the Canadian prairies that stretch for around 800 miles. Back in the little village, my first day was with meeting some old friends, followed by a trip on gravel roads and dust to pick corn which would later be cooked. Following that I met a cousin who was fixing his combine, a giant machine that cuts wheat, got my hands dirty, chased away wild geese who eat his wheat and marveled at how beavers could box up a tiny creek into a small lake, all in one day.
The town is small, less than 400 people, two cafes, a library, bank and a few other buildings. And completely silent day and night. Far from LA but also where my formulative memories started.

This morning I went to the Gateway Cafe on the highway south of my town. The highway, 83, starts where I was born and makes it's way south all the way through Manitoba and down onto the U.S. in North Dakota and down all the way to Texas, ending at the Mexican border. I've always wanted to make a documentary on the highway, maybe some day.

Tomorrow I make my first "speaking engagement" at the first library in the little town. I'll use a screenplay, probably the Christmas story, to illustrate how screenplays are written. I"ll also try too explain exactly what screenwriters do, as most people thing actors make up all their own lines.

There's usually a Q&A and I have a few friends who will start it off as most farm people aren't that bold, hopefully it will work out and if not, we'll all have coffee and pastries made by some of the local women. Some things don't change.

But I can't help but enjoy all this even if there wasn't a speaking thing,  I still like being back where it all started. The pic below is what it looks like now and ironically not much has changed since 1959. No traffic lights either on Main Street.

Enjoy the pics...