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.
As mentioned, I'm finishing off a treatment for a script to be filmed, probably in a few months. I really am throwing myself into this, so much that I won't have a blog today, hopefully I might pull it off by the end of the day but right now my mind, at 8:17 am, all I can think of is this damn treatment.
It's funny how I really want to write a script but once I got the job, I don't want to write it at all. Especially early in the morning. I've already cleaned the kitchen, watered some flowers and made a list of food and disinfectant spray.
And I still have to put up my weekly list of people to call, email or write to. I have to send a book to a French film scholar who's doing an article on Ghostkeeper, the minor cult film I made years ago and still has an audience. And I also have to get a few copies of my screenwriting book and have to arrange to get an artist to do pencil drawings for my travel book, "How Not To Get Beat-Up In A Small-Town Bar."
Thinking of that, I might post the travel book information. It's a series of short and very short stories of incidents I've encountered on the half-million miles of travel through Canada and the western USA. Over a period of 40 years. It goes from truck stops to Area 51 to Roswell and even Sacagawea's son's grave marker in the middle of nowhere in eastern Oregon.
But even now, as I write that, my little screenplay ghost is whispering, write the damn treatment, you're just making an excuse to not write.
So why do I write something else rather than the treatment?
Because I don't want to write the treatment. And I don't want to write the eventual screenplay either. I want to hit the road to Montana and Colorado and eventually end up in my home town in Manitoba in western Canada.
So why did I want a job and then get it and complain?
Because I'm a writer. And there's no fun having to write for money, because that means somebody else is behind it. A boss, a producer, an actor... whomever.
And already I am planning to go to REI, the camping/biking/mountain climber stores originally from Seattle. I just got my member dividend of $13.25 and I can't wait to spend it. And now I'm looking for something else to keep me from reaching over my beautiful hand-made desk, built by another friend of mine who is a total craftsman. In fact I'm going to use up a few minutes to show you my beautiful desk. That should take another 5 minutes. Then, I promise myself "enough", get to work. I hope.
No more excuses... just one more thing... my desk.
Yeah, that's Jane Fonda just above the speaker phone. She has the "shag haircut popular then. I took that photo at the U of Detroit in 1971. Okay, okay, I'm sorry.
A former agent of mine sent an action screenplay I wrote two years ago called The President's Heart. It was enough for a producer and director to hire me to write a screenplay for them.
It's not a big movie, actually probably under $1 million. The idea came from them and is to be "A family in jeopardy."And it will probably go to netflix or someone else as well as international sales which will earn more than domestic.
So it means some money. But it also means something that's even better.
A credit on imdb.com
I'm sure most of you know imdb, or imdb.com. or IMDb.com
This is the most important thing to have if you want a career in the movie business.
Because that's where everyone goes to to see just who you are and/or who you say you are. Imdb started somewhere around 1990 by collecting names of film people, mainly actors, writers and directors. Then it began inserting everyone else who was on a movie.
Today it has over 3 million titles (movies) and over 6 million personalities.
And yes, I'm one of them.
But so are everyone on the movie from producer to writer to actor to grip and so on.
And why is it important? Because if your name isn't there, you're nothing. And I don't mean that personally, it's just a fact that shows that either you're in the business or not.
And if you're not, or if you haven't worked lately, it also shows that. And that's not good. For example, my last movie produced was 2010. This new movie I'm writing will be made in summer and thus my name will be pushed ahead five years to 2015.
Which means I'm not dead.
But there is a bad part to IMDb.com also. Your age. I made a big mistake writing my age on other websites and now it appears on IMDb.com.
So what does it matter?
Ever hear of "it's a young man's business."
But needless to say, all that matters is that you have a recent credit. If I'm lucky I might get two or three credits this year. My French connection movie looks like it might film in late summer in France.
And yes, I'm going to France to hang out and eat real croissants. And vin rouge. Oui?
Here's what it sort of looks like... the first line is all the jobs I did besides writing.
I have just ended a writing job, or at least I think I have. And I wish I have.
A director and producer here in L.A. read a screenplay of mine which was basically an action-thriller with a budget of at least $10 million or more. So these two culprits decided to ask me to write a screenplay similar, but for less than half a million.
This is how it works with some of the low-budget people in Hollywood. How they decide that a story based on a family in the woods that is just as good as the $10 million script I have, I don't know.
They're only suggestions were these words;" cabin in the woods" and "family in jeopardy. " Oh and could I insert some of those nifty hunter's cameras, the ones that hunters and others nail onto a tree so they can see if any animals have come their way.
And that's pretty much all of their ideas for their great movie to be.
But first, the pitch.
"The Pitch" is one of those things I truly hate, in my book, "Working Writer's Screenplay," I include a few pages wherein my producer friend and I went to CBS to pitch a movie. And I repeat, I hate pitches. And the dirty secret is, you don't always need to have one. Or you get someone else to do it. And that's what I did with my friend, he was a producer at ABC years ago and even optioned a screenplay of mine, that's why I call him a friend. And he is a great guy, knows the business far more than I do. Or care. We divided the job; he was the color guy, the guy in the booth at a football game, and I was the side man who would jump in when there was something specific. Like "the family is stuck in nowhere." I had the beginnings of a screenplay based on a real-life story that happened to me and my ex-partner and her three kids. So Norton (the pitcher) went at it, he stood up, moved around, swung his arms, really good. I wish I could do that. My part was when he'd turn to me and say, "What happens next." And I say; "They're stuck in a small town in the middle of nowhere. In fact the name of the town was Nowhere." Then Norton would pitch again. Eventually the woman we pitched to was "a big fan" of both of us. That meant several things; that she liked the story, or she liked it but didn't "have a home" for it, or "what else do you have." In this case, she liked it and would present it at the next meeting. Which is good. But it turned out that CBS was doing bio-pics (true-life stories). So back to the two producers with hunter cameras, etc. They wanted a pitch, which I sort of wrote and wished Norton was around. They read it and wanted more. At this point, I really didn't like either of these guys, they were supposed to give my agent an "executive producer" position and never did, and they gave me a deal that was really bad. So I quit. Or they quit. I never responded again and they didn't. Oh, I forgot, one of them wanted me to write a screenplay about a family in jeopardy. This was about 15 years ago. And he wanted me to write it for free. But I had one over him, because I wrote the script but never signed the contract and got an option fee on them if they wanted to show it around. They were mad. I had $2000. Isn't this business great?
Well, all the awards have been given out for another year, oscars, Golden Globes, etc. etc. Looking back at 2014, I started doing taxes and realized that I paid to go see 2 movies. That's it. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Interstellar. Neither were great, maybe okay but not great. The rest of the movies I saw on dvd screeners, which are handed out to members of writers guild, directors guild and actors guild members (although not all actors get screeners considering there's over a hundred thousand of them.) I'm looking forward to seeing The Wrecking Crew, a documentary on a bunch of studio musicians who played on almost all the rock and roll sessions for bands like The Byrds, Mamas & Papas, Beach Boys, The Monkees, Simon & Garfunkle, John Denver and on and on. Virtually some of the best music for the boomer generation. Like me.
There were also some band members who went out on their own, musicians like Leon Russell, Dr. John and Glen Campbell, probably the most famous of any of the crew. I read the book a few years ago and was waiting for the doc to come out. And as long as I'm on this line, check out a few other docs that are exceptional.
Beware of Mr. Baker is 90 minutes of watching a truly insane man, Ginger Baker who played with Led Zeppelin, Cream and a few other bands.
There's also Mussel Shoals, the east coast version of The Wrecking Crew who played backup on hundreds of songs that became hits.
These guys played for Bob Seger, Rolling Stones, Simeon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan and tons of others who came to this odd little town on the east coast. There's also two mega-docs on music, being Tom Petty's band which is about 7 hours long and The Eagles, which is around 4 hours long. Bring popcorn. The Eagles, in particular is quite candid in their arguments and after a while you just want them to play the music. These are all available on dvd, don't know about streaming.
Go to Materials on the left side of the blog to see the Wrecking Crew trailer video. Anyways... a little departure from films with actors.