Monday, December 28, 2015

Star wars, among other things.

 Just a bunch of thoughts for that in-between time between 2015 andn 2016.

Watched George Lucas being interviewed by Charlie Rose and being almost Lucas's age I remembered very much the origin of Star Wars and who it's for.

Like most kids in the late 1950's, I went to see western movies which were the equivalent of today's action movies like Fast and Furious and super heros. But there was also something called serials.

Serials were sort of like a TV show, except they were shown in movie theaters before the

movie. They were usually around 10 minutes and always featured the hero ending up having to jump off a cliff or trapped in a mine with dynamite blowing up. 

The idea was - will he survive, or will he save the girl. We loved this little features which would often have twelve to fifteen "episodes". Most of them were from the late 40's and the special effects were very basic.

I remember Flash Gordon, a space serial and Batman also. The cost of these shorts were minimal, space ships looked like toys, probably because they were toys.

But we couldn't wait for the next one.

That's why, when I first saw Star Wars, there was something on the screen that was quite familiar. And that was the title words of what was going on, you know, they were moving away from us on an angle.

That was exactly what all the serials we watched had. 

And when the movie began to play I also realized that what Lucas was doing was exactly the same as those badly made serials. What was different, however, is that the technology was definitely far superior. 

Everything in Star Wars was a grand version of those serials.

And Lucas didn't forgot the western movies, Han Solo has his gun in a holster. A "homage" of the classic western gunfighter. 

And I liked it. But I also realized it was really made for kids. Just like the serials.

That's what Lucas wanted. He agrees that adults go to see Star Wars, I'm going this afternoon after the rush, but that this new movie was still meant for kids.

Lucas also was giving up kid movies and is now going to make adult movies, of which he can finance himself, given that Disney paid billions of dollars for the Star Wars franchise. So get ready for Star Wars 8 and more.

And Disney is already building a Star Wars ride on their Disneylands.

Everything old is new, as they say. They might look bad to you, but we loved them for what they were... stories out of this world.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Not what we're looking for...

Well, I just had my nice little TV pilot by Amazon. And in less than 12 hours.


I wasn't really sure about Amazon and how they judge anything. Especially when pros and amateurs are shoved in together. But that's what the future is.

I didn't really understand how their system works but it's obviously in favor of the pro's, of which I am. They just didn't really like my idea.

Not the first time. And it won't be the last.

I'm going to give you a link so you can read it too. And tell me what you think. 
Or not.

But I'm not finished yet, I do have some more contacts that can show the piece around and hopefully find someone who likes it.

Because that's what it's all about. Here's a great sample;

I wrote my Christmas story 6 years ago. It ended up on a pile of scripts at Hallmark. Several good directors offered to make it. But Hallmark said "No." Nothing happened until, 3 years passed and I got a call from someone.

She was a development exec/producer and said she really liked the script and wanted to make it. I said okay. She said "Who do I speak to?" I gave her my agent's name. She said okay. Just like that. 

But before she hung up I asked her why did my script sit on the shelf for 3 years. She said she found it and liked it a lot and thus Hallmark surrendered and decided to make it.

I asked why she liked it. 

Get ready.

Because the teenage girl in my script was just like her daughter.

That's why The Town Christmas Forgot was made.

Her daughter.

That's why I know I will sell the pilot. Sooner or later.

But back to the snub.

I don't really know how Amazon decides on a project. When I arrived here in 1990, my new agent set up meetings with literally every studio and network. I would show up, they'd offer coffee or water and we would talk.

I forgot to mention it, but I had a really good script, Emperor of Mars, that everyone loved. You've probably heard this before, but EOM was optioned 6 times. Twice with me as the director.

It was because they wanted to see me. They didn't decide on a project where they never saw the writer.

But that's what the algorithm or:

Extrapolation is an estimation of a value based on extending a known sequence of values or facts beyond the area that is certainly known.

That's what killed my pilot. 
You figure it out.

Sadly, those of you who read this blog are going to face whatever that sentence means and not get introduced to agents unless you're already famous. Or at least have a friend who's famous. Or almost famous.

 So for the rest of this year, I'm finishing up my travel book, which I probably mention too much.

I'm trying to figure out how to put a link to my script so that you can read it.

Monday, December 14, 2015

4 Movies you should see - really.

Last Thursday while going back and forth on netflix and finding nothing, I discovered one of my forgotten favorite movies, Beautiful Girls. I can watch that movie over and over.

So what?

Over the past few days and talking to a few friends comprised of two writers, a director, two actors, an agent, a comedian and a locations manager.

They all agreed.

Here's what I figured out. Beautiful Girls is part of a group of four movies that have a lot of the same story, yet each of them is really good by themselves. And there is a strong connection. They are (in connection) a really good version of at least three generations.

American Graffiti 1973
Diner 1982
The Breakfast Club 1985
Beautiful Girls 1996

All of these movies are very similar to each other but the casts are very different, the 60's movie was basically my teenage story. Following that Diner was my brother's movie, The Breakfast Club was showing distance from my world, but not really. Beautiful Girls wraps it all up.

Let's look at each one closer;

American Graffitti made a lot of stars from that movie, including Richard Dreyfuss and of course, Harrison Ford and Ronny Howard who graduated from the Andy Griffith Show and to become a successful director himself. And at least a dozen others who went to movies and TV series. 

Graffiti was about graduating from high school, going out into the world that was waiting to tear you apart. We were the JFK people, three assassinations before 1970. Graffiti was just before that, when America was ready to go to the moon. And they did, but at a cost.

Diner was what happened to the graduates that followed my boomer generation. They were GenX and Diner reflected very much the same as Graffiti, the music was different but the story of a group of people was very much identical.  

The big names of Diner were Kevin Bacon, Mickey Rourke, Ellen Barkin, all still working. Again it was built around males, rather than females, but that's the time it was. I think women have not yet caught up.

Breakfast Club, set in one day of highschool. And again a group of high school teens who were being punished. This time the cast was more mixed, although no ethic groups. That would come later. Actors in it were Emilio Estevzz (Charley Sheen's younger brother) and Molly Ringwald had reasonable runs in the business, but the others quickly dropped off.

Then Beautiful Girls with Timothy Hutton, Matt Dillon and a small part for Uma Thurman. This story was about a group of guys again facing thirty eventually. Like Diner, they were of working man stock, not rich nor having any chance of it. The highlight of Beautiful Girls, however, was a 15-year old girl playing 13. Natalie Portman. She steals the movie (below).

Like Jennifer Lawrence does now.

So there you go. I could have mentioned Ferris Bueller's Day Off, but that wasn't a group like the ones I've mentioned. I also considered The Big Chill which probably could have squeezed into this group.

Then there was the music.

American Graffiti blasts every other movie, it had early 60's rock and roll every minute of the movie, and not just parts. It was wall-to-wall music so I won't even start, it would take another page.

Diner had similar music, maybe a lot more Black music being that the movie was set in Baltimore whereas Graffiti was in very white northern California farmland. 

Breakfast Club was set "somewhere" in Illinois and had GenX music although some Cream in there. By now the music industry realized that using real music from bands and singers could bring money. When American Grafitti got a ton of songs, the music industry realized that money was to be made. 

Now, if you want 30 seconds of a 60's song it could cost $100,000.

Beautiful Girls was set in Minnesota in winter. It had a combination of music, Billy Preston, Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side" and "oldtimer" Neil Diamond. Otherwise the rest of the music was from bands nobody heard of.

So there you go.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Bad day

Started off with a bad day, or as my dad used to say, "gdsob". You can probably figure that one out. First my schedule didn't print right, on my inkjet. It printed my weekly schedule every day for three years but today, just thin lines.

Then I attempted to burn a CD (yes, an antique) but neither my PC nor my iMac would burn, saying that the 3 CD's I bought at a drug store wasn't empty? 

Again; gdsob.

Then, I tried calling a woman at the Canadian writer's guild aka WGC of whom I have been trying to contact for four months. No answer there either.

It's gonna be one of those mornings... or day's... or weeks?

Last night I went to the WGA Christmas Party at one of those in-crowd hip/hop places that I wouldn't be caught dead in. And at $13 a drink (we got a ticket for one beer or glass of wine) I wasn't about to give this joint much money. 

I usually go with a friend of mine who coaxes me, but there are few real hot writers hanging around, and a lot of episodic types that I don't know. The place was on the 4th floor of that huge building on Highland and Hollywood Blvds and the street, at 5pm was packed with tourists and those sad people who dress up as Marilyn or pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars Wookies and the Dark guy. 

There was even a Chaplin guy, looked remarkably real. 

They do this for money, getting people to pay a few bucks to show people at home they stood with a fake movie star.

I'm putting my effort on the travel book I'm writing, you know, "How To Not Get Beat-Up In A Small-Town Bar". Today and this week, I have to work so I can put it up in early January.

More on this later. Something else isn't working...



Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Getting behind and everyone's gone anyways

Got a little carried away with last week's holiday thing, even though I'm Canadian and our Thanksgiving is the 2nd Monday in October. So I get two Thanksgivings, eh?

What I mean above by "everyone's gone" is that it seems each year, the spread between American Thanksgiving and Christmas is getting smaller and smaller. The joke is that everyone is preparing their winter clothes for Aspen.

Well, I'm not going to Aspen.

I'll be lucky if anyone even asks me to come with them. Besides, who wants to hang around with famous celebrities and studio execs who don't want to hire women directors.

What I was and am doing is putting my web site for a book I'm writing. I figured this is the best time to put the whole show together. A refresher --

My "book" is a collection of short stories about my escapades traveling the lonesome highways and finding great truckstops and people who tell me about their lives. Again, my title is a little long;

How To Not Get Beat-Up In A Small-Town Bar

I finished the book in September and dragged it along for two months before I started to do my crowdfunding thing.

Crowdfunding - this is where anyone who needs money or who doesn't want to spend their money can raise money. Kickstarter is the big boy on the block and indiegogo is also big. What they do is give you a forum where people can donate money to your cause.

And it's legal. 

There are a few charlatans that show up but for the most part, it's pretty good for anyone who wants to create an invention or anything where start-up money is needed. 

Movies can be made this way; two years ago or so "they" raised $5 million to make a new movie of Veronica Mars, which was a series way back. 

But I'm not asking for that much. 
I just want $3200.00
And I won't get any of it, probably.

So that's what I'm doing now. Putting my crowdfunder together. I have a great artist who is doing pencil sketches for each of my stories. In addition I have to get someone who knows how to format everything to Amazon.

So what about the money? Who gives it to you?
They go to my website at and donate.


That's the catch. It's basically the same as the big companies work except that there's a limit on crowdfunding. 

So Monday and Tuesday I shot an opening in which I talk about why I need their help to make this happen.

Did you ever have to say something brilliant in less than 1 minute?

It took me 18 times to get it down -- the first day. Then Tuesday I didn't like Monday's so I redid it again. 

It's hard.

So anyways, that's what I'm doing until Christmas.

Oh... if you happen to be interested, I will be offering copies of my screenwriting book as a "Perk." You know, something special. Perks can be anything, and in my case it's copies of my two books as well as photographs and other stuff I haven't figured out yet.

So, sorry to be late, today I'm continuing this damn thing.

Besides, I don't ski anymore anyways.