Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Sorry, behind

I've had some changes at home, and worked around awhile. Sorry for missing Monday... should have something for Wednesday...

Thinking about film schools and millennials and old guys and what's what.


Friday, June 24, 2016

Like I said...

... that if I tell you "people" are looking at my stuff.

So what happens.

Yesterday my producer said that Hallmark wasn't too excited. I hate that word - excited--.

Didn't I say it, the minute I said Hallmark might be interested, the Gods of losers leap up from wherever the hell they came from.

So what am I gonna do?

Simple. I like one of the Hallmark stories we pitched. I think it's a good script and if they don't want it, then someone else does.

Guess what I'm starting Monday. 

That script.

But I can't tell you what it's gonna be.

That's a jinx.

Have a good weekend.


Monday, June 20, 2016

The best way to lose a job --

 ... is to tell you some people are talking with me.

So I won't tell you. 

I'm too burned out and jaded and don't care. But maybe I can give you a tip.

But I am talking to "people." Real people, too, and they are "looking at my script." They already saw a little bit of my sense of humor and liked it.  Here's what I did.

As you all probably know, agents are hard to get. I have a manager, sort of, who always says "they're not looking for that."

My answer always is "Nobody knows anything." I'm sure most of you have heard that expression and wonder if you know who said it.

Well, it was William Goldman, who wrote Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, All The President's Men, Misery and The Princess Bride (Princess who?). And more.

 He said it in his first book, Adventures in the Screen Trade. And if you don't have it, buy it. It's even in softcover and even though it was written in 1969, which for most of you is ancient history, you should buy it. 

So here we are again, my sort of manager and moi, and stopped at "Nobody Knows Anything."

I really believe in that expression as much as "Nobody's buying" or  "This is the worst year ever, they're not looking for Christmas movies, they're not looking for a dog movie, or the best -- "It's been done."

 I'm always trying to get attention for my scripts, 38 at last count, and I'm making up my mind for a new one. But not sure what.

Meanwhile these "people" are very nice and friendly and reply too, that's not always the case. 

One of the problems is that there just are too many screenwriters, there's an old joke that says that. An old joke. Not a new one. 

When I taught screenwriting at UCLA extension, over a period of almost three years, I had around 350 students and of them, I thought that maybe ten might make it. Might.


Because you can be the smartest writer ever, but you will still need luck. Good old accidental luck. I met a guy at a film school and we opened a little office and with that, we made a short film that ended up as a finalist in the 1976 Academy Awards.

Where was the luck? 

We both got along and we both had different qualities. He was the talented one, I was the one who was stubborn enough to learn the hard way. And still do. And still won't say I have talent. Because I don't but I can fake it.

But back to the "people."

Maybe you can use this as a way to sneak a script in. I came up with what you see below. Mine has reviews which always helps. But maybe you'll come up with your own idea. It did get 4 answers and one reading a script of mine, hopefully over the week-end. Even though I know it's not exactly what "they" want.

And of course, some of you won't have studio credits. Here's the answer --

-- a director friend of mine was talking to new filmmakers and a young aspiring director asked him how he could be the same. Friend said "It's easy, just get a camera and work for 35 years."

But don't let that stop you. You really need something different in looking for a job and I always say that it's best if you find a partner who has skills you don't.

Just remember, Nobody knows anything.  Use it.

More on the  "people", who probably will have heard that I might get a job on Monday.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Hot and hotter

Looks like a wicked hot summer, gonna be up to 108F Monday. Week has ended not too bad, got some interest in some of my work. Also something for those of you who are looking for an agent or producer or whatever.

It's a big market out there and all those film school people are rushing out to find jobs that they were told were waiting for them.

Gonna do some work on the week-end and hope the power doesn't go out in L.A. with 12 million people. Or 8 million... who knows.

Catch my blog on Monday and have a good Father's Day if you still have one. They're not always on your side, but what the hell...  we wouldn't be where we were if it wasn't for them.

Twenty years from now they won't be needed either.

I won't be here either. That's twenty years I mean. I'm here with the Bangles. 

For those who don't know who the Bangles were.

"Just another manic Monday... I wish it were Sunday, that's my fun day."

Monday, June 13, 2016

The longest TV drama ever

 And it's not counting soap operas like Young and the Restless. We're talking good old TV filmed drama. 

It's not I Love Lucy who is a close second.
It's not Lost, that was only 9 episodes.
It's not any of those procedurals like NCSI or Law & Order, which is close but not enough.
And it's not Mash (the tv version).

I've mentioned it a few blogs earlier. A western. You know, cowboys. People on horses. This series beats everyone. It started in black and white and was a half hour, then it went to one hour and color.

It's Gunsmoke. 

With 640 episodes.

Next would probably be Law and Order, 20 years BUT only 456 episodes. Gunsmoke had 640 episodes because they filmed more back in the late 50's and 60's. While now most series gets 13 plus 13 episodes for each year. Gunsmoke did 39 episodes.

Okay, how many story editors (aka writer producers)? Just one. The company would hire freelance writers, of whom most of them would get an episode or two to write, or write something that the network would take a risk on now and then.

So, having said that, I've been watching Gunsmoke, it's on MORE-TV, one of those weird channels that pop up on satellite or cable.

The stories are good, the half-hours weren't great but when they went to one hour episodes, the stories really got interesting. And the cast was really good. 

More often than not, the stories were about someone who wants the usual thing that somehow always turns bad. Not always bad, they did some comedic 1-hrs also. The basic characters were this;

Marshal Matt Dillon - He's the lead played by James Arness and was the "father figure." He always can be counted on.

Then there was Miss Kitty, the saloon owner, who was in a sense, the mother figure for the wild west out there. She and Matt seemed to be friends, but there was never an episode that really went too far. 

Then there was the doctor, a gruff guy who argues with the marshal's deputy, Chester, played by Dennis Weaver who later did several series as a lead.

Then there were the actors who played bad guys, good guys and even women. In fact one of the writers was a woman. Many of the day player actors would go onto success in features.

The "western" is pretty much gone now, it was more of a baby boomer genre. My favorite movie still is The Searchers, with John Wayne and coincidentally Ken Curtis who would become part of the Gunsmoke crew.

Westerns were always in the movies back from the famous scene from a silent movie called
The Great Bank Robbery which had the actor point a gun at the audience, and shoot. This was a huge break in movies where the audience almost partakes of it.

 From then on, westerns were what people wanted to see. by the late silent movies, there were already mostly poorly made and very cheap. It wasn't until directors like John ford and Howard Hawks started making expensive westerns, not just shooting indians, but having stories about characters and their flaws. 

Which movies  should you see?

I'd recommend four western movies from John Ford, and in sequence She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), My Darling Clementine 1946, The Searchers (1956), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, 1962.

Three others are Shane directed by George Stevens (1953) , Red River (1948) directed by Howard Hawks and High Noon  (1952)

My other favorite is Red River, with the classic Montgomery Clift, who really played off John Wayne in a way that made you feel the characters.


Monday, June 6, 2016

Hey dad, why do only liberals make movies?

First answer is - they're the only ones who write stories.

Second answer is - because conservatives don't have stories.

Okay, so some of you are probably crying unfair. But for the most part it is true. There are some writers who write screenplays, but I truly don't know one. My ex whom I hadn't seen in 26 years or so asked the question. Seems she turned conservative.

Easy answer: One day I was walking with a conservative real estate friend here in Sherman Oaks and he was talking about his sales and I suddenly looked up at the sky and pointed five criss-crossing con trails from passenger jets 35,000 feet or more above.

He looked at me and at the trails and replied "So what."

Get it?

I already was thinking about a story with con trails or alien "chem trails" as some people think that they are dropping chemicals on us.  

I actually shot some photos, I'll post one later.

And yes, I am a liberal, as they say. And like I said before I don't really think I know a conservative writer. There are conservatives directors for sure, Clint Eastwood for one, and he makes good movies... on budget too. 

Another writer/director is John Milius is kind of conservative, and he wrote and directed The Wind and The Lion, one of my favorite movies. He also wrote for Apocalypse Now

for very liberal Francis Coppola. There's also David Mamet, again a really good writer.
  Last afternoon I caught "Good Night and Good Luck", a really good movie about the McCarty hearings looking for communists in the early 1950's. For those who don't know, it was after WW11 and Americans, in fear again, believed there were communists all around us.

And in an interesting way, it was very similar to Donald Trump, in fact it was exactly like Donald Trump. Instilling fear into 1950's Americans, which isn't hard.

The story is simple the "junior" senator Joe McCarthy was telling Americans that communists were everywhere. Incidentally, this fear also went through the movie industry.
You could see that movie now, it was up for an Oscar, Trumbo, for Dalton Trumbo who had passed away some years back.

Truth is, there were communists in the movie industry and a lot of actors and writers and directors were banished, some died, some kept working. You probably know the story. But being a possible communist was still better than a conservative writer. 

There's actually conservative groups who are saying that discrimination is common for conservatives. They even have a term, "political ideology." And this comes from two really old conservative writers and producers, Lionel Chetwynd and Norman Powell.

They even have a book "Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How The Left Took Over Your TV."

So what do I think?

Well, in 30 years of writing I have not ever had an argument with a conservative writer, in fact I don't even know a conservative writer. I never ask what side or religion a person is at all. There's only one thing that matters. 

The writing.

Strangely enough, there are some notable actors that are right wing, Eastwood is sort of right but not really pure. There's Kelsey Grammer, who certainly did well with left wing writers. And Tom Selleck, although he seems to waffle a little.

I have conservative friends and we rarely argue about anything political, most of the time.  But I don't really know a working right wing writer but I do know facist writers who are just funny rather than anything else, wishing for the old commie days...

Still the only thing that matters... is the writing. 

Here's your test.  

Good Night and Good Luck

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Still here -

Spent a lot of time last week for a possible sale for a script, Monday I'll show you what I'm doing in order to get some of my 38 feature scripts moving as well as a few other things of interest.

See you Monday or as the Bangles song goes... "funday"!