Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Why a book?

I've mentioned the travel book I'm finishing up and putting on indiegogo.com, which is similar to kickstarter but has one good feature that kickstarter doesn't have.

Anyways, these are photos I took, except the one above which my illustrator did.

Why a book? Because in between trying to sell my scripts, I decided to write another type of story-telling. Books. You know, those things nobody reads anymore.

So what's the book about?

Travelling down lonesome highways wherever I can find one. And finding little town cafes and truckstops. I live for these places and can sit and watch for hours. And I've used a lot of stuff I've seen on the road that made me screenplays better.

So what's it called?

You've seen the title already. How Not To Get Beat-Up In A Small-Town Bar.

Whattya think?

Little big of background. Some of my best times is driving up to Canada and finding different highways where I can find a good burger and interesting people, which, in America, isn't hard to find.

I've driven about half a million miles or so and with that, a lot of memories. I remember stopped in Yellowstone NP and talked to a young traffic controller while waiting for the road to clear, she talked about her life and then a cowboy parked behind my car and joined us, he even pulled out a few beers. 

Then there was the woman at an Idaho truckstop who was bent on putting down her dog because of it's illnesses and she, the waitress and I talked it over finally convincing the woman to keep the dog.

I have a few hundred of these stories and never really thought about writing some of them. Then I heard an actress, Marylou Henner, who was on that TV series Taxi back in the 80's. She has one of those memory things, can remember incredible amounts of memories. 

She also said that everyone has something in their life that they will remember more than anything else.

So that got me thinking, and since I had stories I told to friends, about the road and the truckstops and they told me to write them, even if they aren't scripts.

So I did that.

I collected about 20 stories ranging from the truckstop lady to Paris, France and even a tiny town in Oregon in the middle of nowhere called Rome.

So next week I'm going to put it out for the world, hoping at least a few people will read it and help our cause. Publishing the book.      

I'll also give you a link to the website so you can sneak in and have a look. Free.

And yes, there is a story about almost getting beat-up in a small town bar. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Running behind today, Monday.  Will start with my book tomorrow.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Page views

Just a note to show you how many people have done "page views" since this blog started.

U.S. 27,051

Russia 9,426

Canada 7,826

France, 181

UK 2941

Ukraine 2251

Germany 1899

China 1507

Turkey 942

India 490 

I've also had page views from at least a dozen other countries that total around 550 page views.

The U.S. was always there from the beginning as well as Canada, my home country even though I've lived in L.A. since 1990. I'm always surprised about Russia, they're almost always 2nd to U.S. pageviews. 

But not many seem to comment on anything, I get posts about strange things that don't really relate to films and TV. 

Next week you're going to hear about my new book, sort of related to movies and TV, but I'll give you more info as it works.

Meanwhile, thanks for the thousands of page views.


Monday, January 18, 2016

More Scripts R Us

As I mentioned last Monday I have been considering selling off my shelf of 37 scripts to anyone for any amount.  At least I think it's 36 movie scripts.  One of them was almost made, the poster above tells it.

And not counting a half dozen episodic pilot scripts. One of them is Travel Day above. More of it near the  bottom.

And for the most part, I'd say about a little over half of those scripts are still good. The others are good, but too far dated.

One of the latest screenplays is really good.  It's called The President's Heart. And it's about a female President in Europe who has to have a heart transplant secretly. 

Female President?

I wrote it 3 years ago and got this from a Black List reader. Not the TV show but a film websight where you can get your script read by so-called readers. Here's the website.

The Black List 

Actually the reader was quite good to my screenplay but it didn't get around too much. And the idea of a woman president isn't all that different as I think it's been done a few times. There are a few nibbles but nobody's jumping on it so far.

I really had no intention to consider Hillary at all. But some people thought I was trashing her by suggestion. Actually I'm solid liberal, worked for Bobby Kennedy before he got shot. 

Which reminds me of something else. Why are there so few conservative writers and directors in Hollywood, or anywhere for that much. I'll leave that for another blog.

So why did I write so many scripts. First of all it goes back to around 1980 and my second feature script, Ghostkeeper and which I made as writer and director.

Not a great script, but it gets some interest and I think is coming out in Blu-ray sometime soon this spring.

Now, to understand how I wrote 37 spec scripts. Because I like to write for one thing, but also to try to make money too. And if a script I write doesn't get bought within a year, I stash it on the shelf and start another.

My best agent once said this about me; "Unlike many writers Jim likes to write."

And I can add; because I get a lot of ideas. How about these:

A Russian sub sinks in the deep Pacific and an American ship attempts to bring it up for technology. But the sunken sub isn't dead, in fact it was an experiment gone wrong dealing with morphing human creatures.

Okay, that's a little over the top. Here's a few more:

Secrets of the Salmon - A messed-up woman film exec returns to her fishing village home town to confront her father for a past sin and thus she will cleanse herself. Except when she sees him again, he has Alzheimer's and doesn't recognize her.

Dead/Not Dead - A Seattle cop trailing a killer realizes that the man he's looking for was executed.

Emperor of Mars - is a story about a young boy who thinks that someone called the Emperor of Mars is coming to our planet and specifically to his town.

Travel Day - is based on a true story about a fading movie star, a struggling actor and a driver heading for a distant location filming.

So you either like the scripts or hate them -- or don't care. And you can see I'm not locked into any genre. I think?

Just thinking... maybe I should write a full blog with my titles. I'm sure you won't steal them? Would you?

Well, my scripts are all registered but I really never thought anyone who would steal an idea from me.

For one thing, everyone writes differently. I can give you the President's Heart and you could write something very different. Probably better.

And then there's Burger Zombies.

Believe it or not, this is the oldest screenplay even before Ghostkeeper. And it gets emails and phone calls about twice a year. Still never made and way before the zombie stuff going on now.I wrote it in 1988 -- I think.

By the way, while my listing of crew is 47 readers, it's more like 300-350 with USA and Russia leading the most. Go figure.

But right now, I'm considering what to do with all my unsold babies.

Sleep gently into the night..... 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Scripts R Us


Just a note ending last Monday's blog, all about selling old or unwanted screenplays. Ironically I had an idea to sell some of my 37 screenplays that wait in the closet in my office. It was about 5 years ago, and a friend of mine suggested I put them out on the market.

My first thought was to call it "Scripts R Us."

But eventually I figured it would be too complicated and maybe nobody really wants them.

Of the screenplays I've written as specs, I think they're all marketable.  But that's not the problem.

The problem, as I've mentioned several times since 2009, is that you have to find that person who likes your screenplay. But there's more.

You also have to hope that just someone liking your screenplay and knows people who can finance it. I've had seven people who "almost" got one of my screenplays made. And as I write, I have someone else interested in one of my screenplays.

It's Ghostkeeper 2, for those who followed me from 2009, you already know the history of the sequel to Ghostkeeper. I'm determined to get the sequel made, mostly because I never really got to make the first one good.

I wrote and directed Ghostkeeper and the reviews were half and half, enough to encourage me to make #2.

And the other movie I want to make is Emperor of Mars, which not only is a screenplay, it's also a book. I wrote the book after the screenplay. But yeah, you've heard it all before.

So right now I'm finishing a crowdfunding project with indiegogo.com which is similar to Kickstarter. Next week I'll be advertising it a little on this site.

It's a travel book called "How Not To Get Beat-Up In A Small-Town Bar".

And it's about memory and those things that bring back memories, preferably good memories. I travel a lot, at least half a million miles in the last 30-40 years, mostly west of the Mississippi and Canada. 

But I'm still considering Scripts R Us. 

In fact I might list all 37 scripts here to see what you guys think. 

 Have a good week-end, eh?

Sunday, January 10, 2016

6 scripts for sale

A lot of people have been talking all over town about a famous screenwriter who wants to sell his screenplays. So what's the news? Every famous screenwriter wants to sell his screenplays.

But this is one in particular.

Ever hear of a movie called Bullett, with Steve McQueen. You know, that great 1968 Mustang fastback (just like mine but with a bigger engine)?

This famous writer wrote it.

No. Not me. I'm not famous, at least if you count cousins. And my ex.

He's Alan Trustman. And everyone was excited because, first of all, very few know who he is. I didn't even know who he was.

Alan Trustman also wrote The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) with Steve McQueen.
Apparently they both liked each other because McQueen made Bullett (1968)  in the same year.

Ironically, Mr,Trustman also wrote the 1999 version of Thomas Crown Affair with Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo. 
So what's the news already, Jim. 

Mr. Trustman, born in 1930, making him 85, wants to sell his screenplays. But not without a fight. I don't mean some stretched-out diatribe but he just wants to express his opinions. At 85 I think he's allowed.

He started his career with those two movies. He made a few others and then it all ended. He was unable to sell screenplays from home, which was 3000 miles away. But there were telephones then, and letters and then e-mail.

But nothing.

So he decided to put up 6 of his screenplays for sale.  He advertised on Variety and the New York Sunday Book Review and also put them on Amazon and Create Space. For $9.99 apiece. Really. 

I put the ad/letter he wrote under "Stuff" on my page right beside you as you read this

There are similarities, to me, in fact to at least a thousand of writers like Mr. Trustman and me. And a lot of them are bitter. They kick you out when they don't need you anymore.

I don't really feel bitter, it's not easy to do, but why bother. I just keep writing. 

But that's because I've managed to exceed any expectations that my teachers or anyone else who never excpected. Except my mom, of course. And my ex. And my sort-of ex. They all liked me.

And my Mustang...best car ever. Me under the Mackinac Bridge 
in Michigan. My ex and I off for adventure in the Rocky Mountains 1972.


But there's more...

I've often thought that I should just punch out those 35 or so screenplays I have rusting on the old cupboard. Yes, 35. And like Mr. Trustman, I also feel that these screenplays are good and that they can be made.

I think I'll post that Friday -- for the week-end. Eh?


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The shooters...


Had a busy day yesterday. Looks like my 1980 movie, Ghostkeeper, is going Blu-ray finally, not that it's been forgotten or overlooked. But it's also helping to make Ghostkeeper 2 which just might get into production this year.

But that's not really what I want to talk about.
I just read today that Vilmos Zsigmond passed away. For those of you who are into movies you already know. Vilmos was one of two Hungarians, the other being Lazlo Kovacs, both of whom brought a fresh, new look to movies.

They were DP's, or the more formal Directors of Photography. They're the guys who "shoot" the film. Both Vilmos and Lazlo were in Hungary in 1956 and secretly filmed anything they could to show the Soviet invasion. They escaped to America and brought with them a different style of filmmaking.

Vilmos shot The Deer Hunter while "Laz" filmed Easy Rider, two of the signature films of the late 1960's.

What was different, however, is how they shot movies. The late 60's were already changing how studios would shoot films, it was usually big color movies with tons of gear.

But for the two Hungarians, who were accustomed to make movies with a handful of friends, they created their own "look."

Vilmos often used filters and loved to streak natural light into places that the big studios never dared. He shot Close Encounters Of The Third Kind for Spielberg and then would turn around and make a small movie.

I always remembered how he would "flash" film, exposing a roll of film with light and which gave a film a soft look. Their experiments left the old studio look forever.  

He was 85.

A few weeks before, another DP passed away, someone who had a little more controversy about him. This was Haskell Wexler, who shot One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest with Jack Nicholson and a beautiful looking Bound For Glory, a movie set in the 1930's. It's one of the best-looking films ever.

But Wexler was someone you didn't fool around with. For one thing, he was very political in the sense of getting the studios to not demand long working days in which now and then crewmembers sometimes were so tired they had accidents.  He shot a documentary about the dangers of overworked film crews called Who Needs Sleep.

He also directed a feature film called Medium Cool, about a TV cameraman (similar to me, actually!) in Chicago in 1968 at the time of the Democratic Convention. The movie gained interest when the riots started and Wexler and his crew were right into the heart of it.

There's a scene in the movie, with cops smashing kids, were you can hear someone say to Wexler "It's real Haskell".  However the movie never really went anywhere.

As I mentioned, Wexler was a tough guy, didn't take crap from anyone, but when his son decided to do a documentary on his dad, it was almost difficult to watch. Wexler kept telling his son how to make a movie and anyone who's had an overbearing father knows how much fun that was.

You should really try to find the doc, it's sure to be around somewhere. It's called Tell Them Who You Are.

So why would I, a writer, care about these two guys?

Because I started in this business as a cameraman and still shoot little docs. My best short film, Cooperage, was shot with my partner Phil Borsos, who was the real genius. We won several awards with the film about barrel-making and a finalist in the 1976 Academy Awards.

So long to Vilmos and Haskell, both brilliant DP's whose work will always shine.