Monday, November 28, 2016

What ever happened to TV movies.

As I mentioned in the last blog, TV movies were my money-makers. Back in 1990 and up to 2008, I wrote a half dozen movies and rewrote other writers screenplays. It was the glory days.  Roswell was one of my TV movies.



Survivor killed the TV movies. And if you're not sure what I mean, it was this. Survivor came along and changed TV forever. What is Survivor? Most of you probably have seen it on CBS, you know, the bunch of people put on an island and had to survive to win a million dollars.

Why did it kill the TV movies?

Because it was a lot cheaper than having to hire actors and screenwriters. Just needed some guys with video cameras and a few writers to help the survivors come up with good ideas. 

My TV movies cost usually around $3 million up to $9 million. Of course I just got scale but scale was pretty good too.

Suddenly TV movies were gone. We actually had that party in the last days of TV movies.  I remember big parties at Hallmark, where they'd show their movies to great parties. 

Then after Survivor came all the other survivor-type shows, you know, Kardashians and every other type of humans, and at low costs.

Until netflix.

Just around a few years ago, Netflex began making their own movies. And suddenly it all changed. TV movies of a sort started up again. Hallmark made two kinds of movies; the expensive ones and the cheap ones. 

My Christmas story, The Town That Christmas Forgot, cost just under $1 million. And actually it came out quite good. Even the WGA rates were higher also. 

There is a sort of market/film festival thing that happens every fall, AFM, American Film Market. I put my Ghostkeeper movie into the market around 1981. It was mostly a market from other film markets in order to sell to American markets.

Mostly though, these Europeans and Asians had films that few people ever wanted. This year companies trying to sell to US markets were having a hard time.

But Netflix led the way, not only to movies but also episodic series. 

I haven't really discussed the market for films that would play for artistic films, the ones that often get oscar awards as well as the Independent Film Festival, which takes the art movies just before the oscars.

I'll add more towards the week... in the meantime, this TV movie I wrote was made in 2002. It's a kid's movie but it gives me a lot of residuals every year. Good old Ben (he's the bear).

Monday, November 21, 2016

When does a writer quit...

Since I'm a boomer, I get a lot of questions as to when do I quit writing.

The answer of course, is never.

A friend of mine says that only when his face hits the laptop. And then he wants us to put the laptop with him in his grave. When I asked why, he said "In case a get a good idea."

Writers who really are writers will continue to write something for the rest of their lives. As for me, I am working on a youtube channel video based on an "Uber-like" story, a different 5 minute story for five days.

I'm also trying to resolve the Ghostkeeper Blu-ray situation so that everyone gets something. 

Then there's the spec S.O.B. pilot I wrote last spring. I got notes and am going to work on that spec pilot to smooth it out.

And I've got three scripts floating with producers; one is about a jetliner that mysteriously turns towards the Pacific and the pilot can't turn it back. The other is a real fun one, Burger Zombies. I wrote that back in 1983, it's been optioned a few times and maybe this time will click. 

The other script is one I don't really like, I wrote it for a director friend and it's been floating around too. I really don't like it but if someone buys, that's great.

So that's what I'm up to for now.

And most of you out there, probably millennials and a few boomers as well as younger writers are probably starting, or want to start or are already on a series or a feature. And you probably don't need to read this, or dispute it.

Features have changed, I was one of the TV movie group, we wrote a lot of TV movies from around 1985 and ended in 2008. Something happened then.


Survivor came out of nowhere, put a bunch of people on an island and they fight to win a million dollars.

It came along with no actors, big budgets or anything.

And it wiped out TV movies for the most part. We, being writers in WGA, actually had two "Death of the TV Movie" parties at the Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard, of course.

What happened after that decimated the whole TV movie killed a lot of us. It wasn't until 2010 that I sold a script to Hallmark.

But that's another story. Friday. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Ghostkeeper stalls

Well, still not able to get the two distributors together. My take is that instead of one taking USA and the other taking Canada and GB. 

I want all three in the same house, so to speak. Because it'll have more power than divided versions of the movie. And by doing so it will help me raise funding for Ghostkeeper 2. 

It's not unusual with distributors, in my case the original distrib did the DVD version 5 years ago.  The new guy has a little more power, I think, by joining GB, USA and Canada.

So hopefully I can get them together... 

Ghostkeeper 2 artwork was done for me.


Monday, November 14, 2016

Trouble with Ghostkeeper

Well, just when I thought I could get a deal from an international distributor, things changed. Ghostkeeper had a U.S. distributor for 5 years and ended January of this year. Nothing happened until the international distrib emailed me to see if he could get rights for at least three countries, GB, USA and Canada.

I thought this was pretty good.

But then I find that my old distrib had already made an HD copy to use for Blu-ray. And it cost a fair amount of money. And he wants U.S. distribution.

So now I have to figure out what to do. The U.S. distrib really has no rights to Ghostkeeper now, as his rights expired last January.

And the GB distrib wants all rights.

So now what?

Two wolves after me. Like in the sketch above for Ghostkeeper 2.
The US distrib said I told him to make a Blu-ray, but I know I didn't, as I thought Blu-ray is mostly over. Maybe it isn't.

It seems easy to drop the US guy but he did discover two Ghostkeeper 35mm films and gave me one. The GB distrib only has an offer, but a good one, he'd incorporate GB, US and Canada.

I thought about it over the week-end and wondered how I could get both of them together somehow, US distrib has the HD master which costs a few thousand dollars but the GB distrib has more places to take Ghostkeeper to.

Well, this morning, I'm still trying to figure it out. 


Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Just want to thank all of you who came back to my "lost blog" again. Just great.

And just a note about my movie The Town Christmas Forgot, the poster above and showing on Hallmark or probably somewhere on youtube. It has showings on:

Thursday       Nov 10 11pm
Saturday        Nov 19   7am
Saturday        Nov 26   1am (for the late-nighters?)
Wednesday   Nov 30 3pm

Yeah, it's family fare but I'm going to break the script down maybe end of the week to show you how I came upon the story. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Ghostkeeper returns

Last week I got an email from a British distributor who wants to do a Blu-ray version of Ghostkeeper, the feature suspense movie I wrote and directed in 1980. The image above is for Ghostkeeper 2, Never Go Back.

Strange how things like this come back. A few years ago a U.S. distrib found two 35mm films intact in a storage place in New York. Since all I had in the way of video was VHS. The U.S. distrib wanted to make DVDs. I made a deal and it was done.

And now, the British distrib is ready to do a Blu-ray version which would be really cool. Ghostkeeper isn't a great movie, but there's enough people who like it. 

So there.

I would also like the Brit to sell in Canada as well, as it's a Canadian feature film. I'm sure that won't be a problem.

Here's the "30th" anniversary version made 4 years ago.

The original version is mostly like this version.
Here's a few internet reviews:  Sorry I couldn't keep the sentences correct.

  “The methodically paced Ghostkeeper is an exercise in disciplined mood generation, its
bare claustrophobia is for those who prefer their chills straightforward and can be a
most rewarding snow trap”.

“Ghostkeeper is strangely satisfying, the last 20 minutes are tense and horrific, it kept me
gripped and threads the middle ground between psychological and supernatural horror.”
Mjsimpson UK

“Ghostkeeper is surprisingly professional-looking for its low budget.” (Alberta

“Performances are a notch above those in American horror fare,” (Calgary Herald)

“A remarkably eerie and very atmospheric horror film… actually very well put together
and is consistently entertaining… If you liked the 1980 stalker film Prom Night, I’d
recommend seeking out this spooky little Canadian Gem.” horror_freak/Oregon

“Ghostkeeper is a pretty creepy and atmospheric horror film which will keep you
guessing until the end. The acting is solid and the atmosphere of fear and total isolation
is well-captured. 8 out of 10”. HumanoidOfFlesh/Poland

“Poorly distributed during its (initial) release, this well done low-budget film is quite
better than one might expect.” teptime/Las Vegas

“Sadly unknown spooky little gem, definitely one of the better ‘80’s horror films, this
unknown little chiller should be a familiar entry in the genre, got little attention which is
really too bad because of how good the film is." larsenjanda/USA

“Ghostkeeper is a truly bare boned affair. Filtered with only a few characters, located
mostly in one building and featuring very little gore, there’s still something so…uh…
good which even now after thinking about it for a couple of days, I just can’t explain.”
Amanda By Night."

Here's the original film shoot in 1980.

 More to come...