Monday, February 29, 2016

My indiegogo meets the Oscars

My indiegogo "campaign" hit a lock this past week. I got $1000 in 4 days but only $39 on the weekend. Bummer. I'm also learning that the majority of the donations don't ask for a perk, almost 75% just wanted to give it to me.

Which is nice to know, but most of the money will go to an illustrator, a format book expert and someone who will do my front and back cover. Above is one of her illustrations which I had asked for. The illustrations will be at the front of each story, representing a particular story.

This one represents a really expensive hotel my brother and I stayed at near Cannes, France. When we left the hotel, we noticed a cat standing by the steps looking very French. So I decided for the illustration above.

But I have 25 more days to reach my goal of $2500. More or less.

See, I have two choices here; if I get the full $2500, it's a done deal. But if I don't get the $2500 then I can keep going until I do get it.

This is the advantage of indiegogo. If you don't make your goal, you can continue for some time.

Kickstarter only lets you end at a certain day and if you don't reach your goal, that's it. 

Enough of that.

Let's go to the Oscars. 

Well, first of all, I am Canadian and being that, my country didn't have African slaves. We had no slaves. In fact Canada was one of the major safe places for African Americans to flee to. It was a part of the underground railroad, for those who never heard of that.

And we didn't wipe out Indian tribes either.

So what am I saying?

As an outsider it's hard to understand why the U.S. did this. Even George Washington had slaves. 

But it's coming back again.

Somehow in the form of Chris Rock. I wasn't really sure how the Oscar telecast would play but it somehow managed to get through and Leo got his Oscar after five tries.

But it was one of the lowest rated Oscar telecasts ever.

So, was it because of the African American thing?

Probably not. The Oscars have been going down for years and this is, for the most, not anything to do with last night's Oscars.

So why?

Mostly the Oscars are becoming a tired old man.

Last night I watched at least most of the presenters who I barely know of. I realize now that the boomers are slowly fading - not dead - but getting there.

No more Bob Hope or Johnny Carson.

Instead a steady run of actors for the GenX crowd that is now getting older too. For some reason I didn't seem to remember the male presenters, but I did remember the women because they had better clothes, aka dresses.

At least that remains.

And Leo got his oscar.

But I still have 25 days to get my donations to begin to finish my book.


Friday, February 26, 2016

$1000 in 4 days

Looks like started with a bang, we raised $750 on late Monday to early Wednesday and yesterday (Thursday) we hit $1000. Our goal is $2500 but right now we're 42% of the way there. 

And we still have 22 days. 

And because we got up to that amount, indiegogo has given us Featured Spot on the weekly blog. Which should get us more attention. 

So what's the photo about? 

The speed limit in Montana used to be like this, "reasonable and prudent", which means speed limit is up to you. However now, they have a 65mph limit on 2-lane highways and up to 75mph on interstate highways.  

Now for another surprise.

I realized that my collection of short stories could connect to each other and thus create a screenplay.  Why?

Two movies in mind; Wild with Reese Witherspoon and Into The Wild  directed by Sean Penn. Both movies had one character traveling, Witherspoon hiking and meeting people along the way.

And the lead character in Into The Wild did the same thing.

And both movies were based on real people.

So I have real people too.

I'm seriously considering writing the screenplay in a few weeks, while I'm still getting attention to 

Whattya think?

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

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

So I finally put my website up for my book of the same title as above. Had to rush yesterday to get everything right, still a few errors. But we've raised $660 in 18 hours.  You can click on   

Here's the front cover, there will be changes, the card above is for handouts.

We're hoping for $2500, of which I will see hardly any as I have to pay the artist who drew pencil sketches and a formatting person, I can't do it, and someone to make the front and back cover.

So go have a look at it, there's a lot of stuff to see, videos, photos, illustrations and more. 

Will get back to movies in a few days.


Monday, February 15, 2016

1939 classics

Since the Academy Awards are approaching with some controversy I decided to go back in time, way back to 1939. It was arguably the greatest selection of movies ever made. Even up to now.

What about this:

Gone with the Wind
Dark Victory
Goodbye Mr. Chips
Love Affair
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Of Mice and Men
The Wizard of Oz
Wuthering Heights 

All of these movies today are still classics and still play on TCM and other places. Compare them with the 2015 movies which will probably be lost in the next few years. 

And what about the actors in 1939:

Robert Donat won best actor for Goodbye Mr. Chips  and Clark Gable, Laurence Olivier, Mickey Rooney and James Stewart lost. Will you remember this year's actors?

Vivian Leigh won best actress for Gone with the Wind. Bette Davis, Irene Dunne, Greta Garbo and Greer Garson lost.

Hattie McDaniel won Best Actress for Gone With The Wind. Olivia de Havilland, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Edna May Oliver lost. And notice that Hattie was the first African-American actress to win an Oscar. It took 24 years for another African-American to win an oscar - Sidney Poitier for Lilies of the Field.

I've seen everyone of these movies over the years and my favorites were Goodbye Mr. Chips, which has been remade several times. It's a story about a school teacher who's students remember him. Tear-jerker big time. Robert Donat was British.

Next is Stagecoach from John Ford, one of my favorite directors. He also made Drums Along The Mohawk in 1939 but not nominated. The year after he made Grapes of Wrath, one of the best movies ever. He didn't win.

Actually a rule came up in 1939 that directors could be nominated for only one film. Ford and some others often made two or three movies a year!

And Wizard of Oz had six nominations but won only Best Song and Best Original Score. 

Here's some movies made in 1939 that didn't get anything:

Hunchback of Notre Dame with Charles Laughton and Maureen O'Hara
Young Mr. Lincoln with Henry Fonda
Only Angels Have Wings with Cary Grant (I watched it last week on TCM)
The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex with Errol Flynn & Bette Davis  
Gunga Din with Cary Grant and Douglas Fairbanks
Mr. Smith Goes To Washington with James Stewart, Claude Rains and Harry Carey
Intermezzo with a "new" actress named Ingrid Bergman. 
Lon Chaney lost out in Of Mice and Men.

And Judy Garland won a "special juvenile Oscar" for Wizard of Oz.

And which movie won? 

 Gone With The Wind.

One heck of a year. 


Friday, February 12, 2016

The liberal vs conservative look

I often get a question from conservative people (including my ex) as to why there are so many left-wing liberals in the movie business and why so few conservatives, if any.

I usually say we don't allow them in.

How about liberals write from the heart and conservatives eat the heart.

Okay now that 18% of you have left the blog, I'm joking. Sort of.

There are some conservatives, Clint Eastwood for example, but he's not really conservative, he's his own person. Then there's Stephen Baldwin, whom I worked with, James Caan, Kelsey Grammar, Mel Gibson and a few others. Same with directors and very rare amongst screenwriters.


My first impulse is that conservatives go for the big money as in stock markets, banks and any type of corporation they can find or create. It's all about money. 

And most of the conservatives who aren't rich are mostly in labor-type work and with less education. There's even the "Log Cabin Republicans". They are the gay members who prefer conservatives even though conservatives hate them. I think log cabin refers to Lincoln. You figure it out.

I write because that's pretty much all I can do. I've tried a lot of jobs a long time ago and discovered that I was a pretty good security guard watching office buildings. I was on the night shift and enjoyed the quietness. 

And I could write as well at my guard duty as long as nobody was around.

But to be honest, liberals and left-wingers have causes. Help the poor, tell stories about love and war and comedy, stories to bring people into our movies and forget the problems they have for two hours.

In short, the film industry needs left-wingers because they write and direct and act the best stories because they need to, because they have something to tell. Conservatives seem to just want money and, in America, to chase away anyone who's not like them.

Like evangelical types who want a white USA and will kill for it. 

But the film industry mixes a little, while liberals are the biggest group, they do interact with conservatives in directing and of course, producing. And actors that are mostly "B" and "C" actors. 

All in all, somehow liberals and left-wingers seem to write the best stuff. Great example are two movies up for Oscars.  There's Spotlight, about exposing the Catholic church in Boston where leaders were hiding child molesters. 

And along that line, there's The Big Short, all about how mostly conservative stock brokers who care little about causing the country to go down with their greed for money no matter who loses.

You won't find liberals there. Yet liberals made the films because they can step back and realize what's wrong and what's right. I do have some conservative friends and, as I mentioned, my ex but she and I don't really talk a lot about it.

And then there's another movie with Oscar notions; Trumble, based on Dalton Trumbo, a screenwriter who was in a group of communists and who was blackballed for several years and had to write screenplays under another name. 

It wasn't until Kirk Douglas finally had Trumbo's name on a script he wrote under a fake name in which you might know - Spartacus. He also won an Oscar for The Lonely Bull and Roman Holiday won an Oscar that he wasn't allowed to receive. Conservatives were very much against those "commie screenwriters" and whom were happy to destroy writers especially, although actors and directors were also victims.

Movie crews are a mix, a lot of them are conservative, the grips and gaffers and drivers. But they also can be helpful as when one of them found me a fender for my 1977 Camaro that had a ripped side panel. Love those drivers.

Finally it comes down to what you feel and what makes sense to you but in the film industry, you have a lot of friends if you're liberal, especially the "Above-the-line" bunch, mostly writers, directors and actors.

I've heard that some up-and-coming conservative actors and writers often keep it to themselves in fear of not getting the job. Really. 

And ultimately, all that matters is a good story.

But those tend to be liberal.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Busy, busy

Gotta rush around today, so I'll do a bigger blog Tues. I have to do the 5 pages requested by my director friend on an amateur screenplay by an amateur screenwriter but who has found money enough to make a low budget film.

Then I have to go to a friend's place to pick up the negative (as in film negative to all you millennials) to Ghostkeeper, the feature I made in 1980. Why keep it at his place? Because he has more damp temperature which keeps longer.

Or something like that.

And the reason is that the distributor who discovered two negative films in a basement in New York and with that he did a 30th anniversary version in digital. And now he wants to do it in Blu-ray. A little behind but better than nothing. 

Then I have to file some other work with Library of Congress which is pretty simple paperwork.

And then I have to mail a theater card of the Searchers, the John Wayne movie and my best film ever. I had it on ebay and a very nice Searchers fan was happy to get it.

So this means driving and running around so I'll be a better blog tomorrow.  

Friday, February 5, 2016


Had lunch with a director friend yesterday, he wants me to do some rewrites on a script he feels is "awful". This is one of those things that can be interesting or it can be hell. It all depends on whether we both see the same flaws in somebody else's script.

I've done this often, one script that was being filmed in Luxembourg took about ten rewrites. this doesn't mean the whole script, just pieces. Often it's because something in the script can't really be filmed for reasons of location.

The script that was to be filmed in Luxembourg was set in America among farms in Indiana and where the crops were dying because of the environment. Trouble was, as I was landing in Luxembourg, I noticed that all the crops were far from being dead.

That's one aspect of a rewrite. What did I do? I said the crops were poisoned by some strange climate thing. It worked, too. Nobody would even notice it. 

The other types of rewrites are mostly that, where the script said river and we didn't have a river, we changed it to something else.

Then there's the actors. 

I've worked with a variety of actors, most of them were good working actors and they usually were easy to get along. But I've had other actors, some of whom were lead actors, were very insecure and needed to irritate the writers. But the really good actors always manage to make the script work.

Then there's the crazy actors. 

The kind that brings back Brando. But as my director friend says, if you want someone to just be a working actor, they're all okay. But if you want a great actor, they're gonna be a little bit crazy.

So back to this script.

I haven't started reading it yet, but already the director wants to change the first 6 pages, nothing serious. But I am holding back for a day because I get that old feeling that I really won't be able to give him what he wants.

Insecurity is always there. Can I do this? Why am I doing this? Who cares?

The script will sit on the table for a day or two and I pass by it with a quick glance hoping that somehow a mysterious force has removed it.

But I've already passed it four times.

It's still there. Waiting.

But what about the writer who wrote this script first? Does she know that I'm going to change her story. More often than not, a rewrite from someone else's script isn't really any different, just a change of view. 

And it's not necessarily better. 

But I'm getting paid.  


Monday, February 1, 2016

Too much work

Running around for the campaign (as they say) and should be wrapped before the end of the week. Apparently "they" suggest one should open the campaign (otherwise known as begging for money from strangers) on Mondays and Tuesdays. It seems that you get more energy.

By the way, I'll put s link to all of you should you wish to see a grown man asking for money. But, I did write the collection of travel stories, so I'm not completely without anything.  For what it's worth, I'm asking for money for finishing the book.

What goes with a book. A bunch of people who know more than I do about book publication and they don't like to work for free.

Last time I tried it on kickstarter, I got killed. Asked for $1.6 million for Ghostkeeper 2 and got $560 in the first week. Should not have listened to "those" people.

But more of this tomorrow and tomorrow...

One more thing; there is a posibility of two of my scripts being sold and even maybe I direct one. 

But having said that I'll be doomed for another year. Catholic thing.

Click to see.