the circular runner

Posts Tagged ‘Film’

1 lesson for writing and life: simple is good…

In career, media, Uncategorized, writing on December 3, 2012 at 5:30 am

Last week, I joked that even though I knew in my heart of hearts that simple was the way to go, I was unable to comply.

Well the Gods of Simplicity heard my little joke, and they decided to make their case once more, just a tad more forcefully.  Below, is a link to a very wonderful little film.  It’s two minutes.  There isn’t a lot to it, and still, for my money, it packs quite a punch.  It’s lyrical.  It’s wonderful, in the true sense of the word, as in, it’s full of wonder.  And I know I feel this way in large part because it is just…it’s just…I can admit it, because it’s so damn simple.

Gloam from We Are The Forest on Vimeo.

It’s not a good idea to compare yourself to others, but comparisons, of done correctly,  can lead to better ways of doing things.  After seeing this short, I am filled with the desire to craft something this small and wonderful, but as in life, I tend to complicate things art.  I know that if I were the filmmaker in charge, I would worry that I didn’t put enough in, that my viewer would get bored or not get the message.  Actually, come to think about it, I wouldn’t even let myself do something this small and open-ended.

There’s a real talent to keeping things small without also being vague, and the filmmakers achieve this.  And though I’m not a natural at the whole simple thing, and thuogh I’m not promising I’ll learn the lesson and apply it my life, as an artist, I will keep at it.

If you want to know more about David Elwell and Gareth Hughes, the filmmakers, check out this article on The Atlantic. These guys are really worth following.


9 Months and Out, Lesson 2: DON’T WORRY ABOUT YOUR AGE….

In career, humor, life, media, observations, Uncategorized on September 1, 2012 at 6:15 am

I’m middle-aged, and I’m not happy about it.

The other day, I went some place for coffee.  It’s right across from a Starbucks, which I don’t pooh-pooh as a rule.  Starbucks is fine.  It’s good.  It’s ok.  I just felt like changing things up.  This other place is more hipster.  The lines are longer.  The people better looking–no tired looking middle-managers in khakis sitting around with their PC’s in this here place.  This was a Mac crowd, which if nothing else means the coffee is fair traded, cold-brewed with spices from the Himalayas and infused with Madagascar fairy dust–ingredients you pay for through the nose–pierced nose, naturally.

So, surrounded by all the new hipsters and the new shiny Apples, I ordered my Madagascar fairy-infused brew on ice and noticed that the barrista (hate that word) was wearing an LA Kings t-shirt.  In San Francisco, you don’t do this unless you’re looking for abuse.  For Angelinos, San Francisco is a quaint town up north.  In San Fran, LA is all pollution and water-theft and Satan.  Anyway, sensing a fellow Angelino, I asked the man where he was from.  He said Venice.  I grew up in next-door Santa Monica.  We smiled.  We were both Angelinos and Westsiders, to boot.  Cool.  Then he tells me he went to my high school.  Holy ducklesworth!  A fellow Viking!  I almost broke into our school song, which I, as a choir member back in the day, sang many many times at all kinds of events.

I decide against the singing, but still we’re all smiles at this point.  We’re on the same wavelength.  That is until the guy asks what year I graduated.  I feel a tightening around my smile.  I say, “I think I might be a little older,” and then, I tell him the year.  And that’s when he does the same.  He’s 16 years younger.  16.  Oh, fuck you, Mr. Coffee.  Go choke on your Madagascar BS coffee that gives me the runs.  He probably doesn’t even know the school song now that Prop 13 has removed music from the school.

Now, I wasn’t really pissed.  I just felt a little awkward especially because it seemed like he got awkward.  Of course, he probably got awkward because he sensed that I got awkward. Oh, who knows?  It doesn’t matter.  Why do I care?

I probably wouldn’t except that when you’re looking to build a new career as I am, you’re surrounded by young people by definition.  Usually, these young’ns don’t care about me.  I’m just another guy.  But in my head, I assume that they must be thinking  I’m some middle-aged loser.  My issues.  Not theirs.  Which is the moral of this little lesson: go and reinvent yourself if you need to and don’t let yourself be limited by the number of candles on your cake.

I’m 40. So take that, Mr. Coffee?  I can appreciate cool music and non-exploitative coffee like you.  But I have also lived long enough to know Starbucks is ok in a pinch.  I’m older.  Life has made me flexible and ready to drink any cup of coffee life’s barrista throws my way.

9 months and out–LESSON #1

In career, humor, life, observations, Uncategorized, writers & books, writing on August 29, 2012 at 5:30 am


If you want to succeed at something, stick to it.  OK, obvious, I know.  But let me start with a story that will show you how I have not followed this very obvious truth.  I call this little ditty, Curse of the Dumb-Dumb Who Keeps Wondering What Other People Think of Him.  Here it goes.  I hope you like it–really, I do.

(See what I mean?)

When I was 15, I discovered tennis.  This was before the Williams sisters, mind you.  On paper, I had no real business with the sport.  Tennis is not quite golf and it’s a good bit under polo in the rich-person pantheon of athletics.  And yet, it certainly has a little bit of the country club vibe to it even to this day.  My father at the time, classic immigrant that he is, was happy about my discovery, telling me that tennis was a good sport for making connections with rich people.  (My father’s strange views of American society are another story.)  Anyway, I loved tennis.  I spent a summer going from one public court to the next all over Santa Monica, looking for people to play.  I was what I am not usually: without fear or apprehension.  I just wanted to play.

I say all of this, but this month was the first time I picked up a racket in 25 years.  I stopped when I was a sophomore because even though I loved tennis, the sport was not going to get me cred with the girls–at least I didn’t think I would.  So, what did I do?  I switched to basketball, which was a joke.  I’m 6′ 3″, and I liked playing pick-up games.  But my heart wasn’t into it.  And I didn’t have a head for the game in a more organized setting of league play.  So, basically I sucked it.  And after getting through Hell Week, I quit the team.  By that time, I’d gotten rusty at my tennis game, and then I hurt my shoulder trying to serve and it was over.

Now, do you get the point?  I left what I loved out of some concern of what others would think.  And I’ve been repeating the same mistake for years. You’d think I’d learn by now, but you’d be surprised how hard it is to see that you’re repeating the same mistake.  Every situation seems new.  Even now, I feel the pressure to give up on writing. I’m not going to, mind you.  This is it for me, I know that.  But sometimes, I have an idea, and I work through it, and as I sit with the project, I start to have doubts.  I start thinking no one will like what I’m doing or that I will fail (which also comes from a concern for others) and I want to run away.

I tend to think that most ideas, if you stick with them, can bear fruit.  Part of success is telling that inner-critic that tells you to quit because you might fail or because no one will like it or because you will end up penniless and friendless (and probably toothless as well) to shut the f&*& up.  There is success to be had if you just stick to what you’re doing and not listen to others.  I think that’s clear enough.  Right?  You agree, right?  Come on.  Agree already.

Damn it!  I’m doing it again.

i’m a loser, i’m a genius, i’m a loser: a writer’s dilemma

In criticism, humor, observations, Uncategorized on July 28, 2012 at 11:37 am

It’s a sign of age that things are not one extreme or the other. When I was younger, if I failed at something,  I would almost certainly tell people I sucked.  I didn’t mean, I suck at this or that.  I was trying to make more of an existential statement, as in I am a person who just lives in a state of sucking, i.e., a loser.

I was never so confident or clueless to say I was a genius when something went my way.  But I’ll admit that somewhere in the back of my head, I was hopeful I might find that thing I was amazing at. If I’m really honest, I’d add that I wanted to find something I was amazing at without having to put in bone-crushing effort needed to make amazingness.  Of course, even geniuses put in effort–I’m assuming this though I cannot say for sure since, if you haven’t figured it out on your own, I am no genius.  (I know. Big surprise.)

I bring all of this up because a couple weeks ago, I experienced a pretty big failure and a nice success back to back.  The first was a screening of my second short film (the trailer appears above).  The screening happened here in SF at a big theater as part of a festival that happens out here regularly.  As part of the festival, after the screening of each movie is over, the crew and cast go down in front and take questions.  Often the questions are pretty slight, i.e., why did you you use that logo for your production company; do you think you’ll make a sequel to that romantic comedy with the happy ending that couldn’t possibly go anywhere else because it is a short with a happy ending; I love chocolate, and the main character was eating some in that one scene, what kind of chocolate?  You get the point.

But when Cherise, my strange little Cinderella story in reverse, was done, it was like ghost town silence.  We went up and looked out into the vast audience (over 600 people) and you could feel the rampant indifference. What I would’ve given for a question about chocolate?

On later reflection and because my director reminded me of this, I realized that we made the movie we set out to make.  We wanted to make something that was lovely to look at.  We wanted to tell a story with dance and music and through minimal dialogue. We wanted a visual experience more than we cared about story.  Well, we hit those marks.  But still, there was a part of me sitting in that theater harkening back to my younger days, the younger me that often told himself, Jesus, dude, you suck the big one.

A day later, I had a reading. It was the first time I’ve ever been asked to be a featured reader, and I was excited.  But there was also a part of me that was fearful.  Would I suck at this, too?  Would the crowd, mostly poets, look at me and my little fables/fairy tales/ urban micro fiction about old ladies popping happy pills and would they reject what they saw? Would they get all aggro the way poets at spoken word events often do?  What is the opposite of snapping fingers and saying, groovy, man? As it happens, they did not hate me.  In fact, they were very enthusiastic. Some people might have even  snapped some fingers.  And for a moment or two that night, I felt like like I had arrived. I was a writer.

I’m no genius. That thought never crossed my mind even with the snapping, but I’m ok with that. The violins will never soar as I write the great American Novel. I’m no Mozart.  I’m not even Salieri. But with practice, I hope I write something that gets close to great. That’s a realistic goal–I hope it is.

As for the sucking part, the truth is I know I don’t suck, either–not in existential way.  But ironically, that’s almost more disappointing than not being a genius.  If you tell people you suck and you believe it, there’s always a way up.  There’s always room for improvement. And more importantly, if you fail at what you’re attempting, you can wrap yourself in the Sucky Blanket of Low Expectations.

You think I sucked that night?  You think my movie was shite?  Well, of course my dear man/woman, I suck.  I suck the big one.

NO MORE!  It’s time to grow the hell up. I’m just too old to be carrying the Sucky Blanket around. I need to work and not worry. I might die with nothing to my artistic record, but I’m not going down sucking, goddammit.


the Batman shootings: evil, revenge, and me

In life, observations, teaching & education on July 20, 2012 at 2:08 pm

I don’t usually post on Fridays, but I just saw some footage from the Colorado shooting, and I wanted to write something. I needed to.

I will admit that about the same time James Holmes decided to enter a theater in Colorado guns a’blazing, I was watching a Korean revenge film about  sociopath and about a cop who decides to break all the rules in order to seek revenge.  Usually, revenge movies are a guilty pleasure for me, and Asian revenge movies are so over the top that I wouldn’t ever say I am moved by them intellectually.  But this Korean movie, called, I Saw the Devil, was different.  It was over the top and sometimes, the characterization of the sociopath was akin to those old silent movies when the villain wears black and twists his mustache, but the thing that kind of made me stick with the movie was that it focused less on the criminal than it did on the police officer.  If I had to summarize the movie, I’d say it was a look at the fact that there is no solution for evil, or if you prefer, against a person completely devoid of morality.

Ironically, this movie reminded me of The Dark Knight, which also dealt with the same notion.  Heath Ledger as the Joker, you say what you will about his acting, but that character is truly horrifying–not because of what he does, but because he feels nothing about what he does.  You can imagine that the Joker would give as much thought to breathing as he would to brutally killing a person except that brutally killing someone probably gave him some pleasure–but then again, maybe not.

There’s a scene in The Dark Knight when the Joker talks to Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) and lays out his thoughts on violence.  Watch this scene and tell me if this isn’t scary.

It’s scary because there is no ideology, no firm ground to share. There is only randomness, violence. It makes me shiver, and yet as a movie-goer, I’m drawn to it because there is something awesome about it–awesome in the Biblical sense of the word.  Awesome in the sense of being awestruck with horror because there is nothing one can do to fix this kind of person.  Revenge is not a prudent motivating force, but part of the reason we like revenge movies is that they restore order to the world–at least they attempt to.  They give us a sense of justice.  But the randomness of the Joker, the randomness of this shooter in Colorado, is just that, randomness.  And revenge does not bring about justice.  The immoral person does not feel, cannot feel, guilt, which is kind of the point of seeking out justice, isn’t it?  That’s the lesson of The Dark Knight and I Saw the Devil.

And yet, the answer is not apathy.

Earlier this week, right outside the projects in which I teach my GED classes, there was a drive-by shooting.

this does not look like the site of evil, does it?

No one was hit, though there were dozens of children at the playground across the street and young couples with their dogs were there, too.  The shooters, no doubt, are not evil, even if what they were doing could be called that.  They were not being random.  They were going after a kid for some reason no one knows exactly.  The only reason I bring this event up, apart from the fact that I have not really talked to anyone about it, is that the responses of my young students was almost all the same: indifference. The shooting, the bullets and all the harm those bullets can do, has been internalized by the young people I work with, and they don’t see much point in getting upset by it.  I don’t think my kids are evil for their apathy.  But I do think it shows that they have been harmed by the evil I’m describing.  They do not feel.  They don’t imagine that there are places where random violence is not a daily thing to witness.  Or maybe they do, but they don’t see themselves living in those places.

And maybe they have no reason to. I’m not sure I believe in the devil, at least not as certain religious people like to describe him, but if he did exist, last night, a little bit of hell was visited upon the town of Aurora, Colorado and those people in that theater saw a glimpse of the devil for themselves.

a question for writers of fiction everywhere….

In humor, media, observations, writing on July 17, 2012 at 6:16 am

whoa, dude. stopping bullets with my mind is so cool…

OK here it goes, writer-peeps.  I have a craft question for you.  I put a variation of this question to the great Marc Schuster of Abominations fame, but I thought I’d put a generalized version out to the general population of writers.  So here it is: what do you do when you’re writing a story that is set in a world that doesn’t follow the same rules that our world does?  How do you craft the story so that you don’t end up putting tons and tons of exposition in the mouths of your character or bog your plot down with development stuff that is necessary though painful to read?

I could give some literary examples, but since that would cause me to bog this post down with a lot of detail about books that you might not have read, let me give an example from the movies.  I will admit that not everyone shares my enthusiasm for the first Matrix movie, but man, oh man, I liked that flick.  Even if you don’t agree, I think it’s pretty hard to argue with the fact that the first movie sketched out a strange new world–sketch being the opportune word.  The first Matrix movie gives you just enough facts that you can follow the plot.  You might have questions about how or why, but the movie keeps you going and when it ends, you either think, in classic Keanu-manner, that what you just saw was frickin’ cool or you don’t.  But you can’t punch too many holes in the premise because the premise only had to be developed enough to get you through the two hours.

And then…and then, the directors got greedy or maybe they got artistic.  And they decided to come back and make the world make sense in another couple installments for a novelistic seven hours of film.  And that, my friends, is where it all started going to pot.  To keep the plot aloft, the writers had to come up with a lot of hot air–yes, I mean, the story-telling equivalent of flatulence, a veritable stinky mess of poop-connoting gas.  Not only was the plot dumb, it was also dished out in densely written scenes that made the plot stop and start like…like a bad night on the toilet.

(I will cease the potty-stuff going forward because I sense you are all getting fed up and because I think I’ve made my point.)

Look, I’m not just a critic.  I’m a participant in this crap-style of story development.  The third issue of my graphic novel, Ostenspieler and the Book of Faces (coming soon) is all flashback and explanation.  I managed to create a pretty decent story line set in a world different from our own over the first two issues, but in order to set up the fourth and final issue, I had to bog that third issue down with info–yes, hot-air, flatular junk.

Has anyone come across this problem?  Does anyone have some examples of writers who avoided the “fill-in’the-gaps type of plotting?

In other words, HELP!!!!!!!

should writers fear pictures?

In humor, observations, writers & books, writing on May 31, 2012 at 9:23 am

Today I had coffee with a wonderful illustrator named Jonathan Silence.  It was a meeting of like-minds, and I’m not saying that because we’re both Libras–that was just gravy.  We might collaborate on a project this summer, which I am very excited about.  All the more excited after meeting Jonathan and realizing that we have similar views about what good stories are.  In short, we seemed to agree on two things: 1. that the type of stories we want to tell, what we would call the best types of stories, are stories for children–at least they are labeled as such, which as anyone knows, also means they are pretty good for adults, too.  (I’m going to talk about that idea in the next post, so don’t freak out, adult writers. There will be time for debate.)

The other idea we agreed on was less an idea than it was a shared concern about the current push to digitize everything, especially books.

though I am not eating the pickle sandwich in this picture, I hope you can imagine that I would be eating that pickle sandwich at a later time

Now, allow me to make an Evel Knievel leap of logic and say the following: for me, a digital culture is a visual one, by definition.  Think about it.  The web pushes images.  It is what It does best.  It’s what it’s for.  Everything from YouTube to the very graphic interface you are reading these words on is based on image.  Jonathan and I spoke about what that means for storytelling, and though he is a creator of images, he was concerned that this need to have pictures all the time is destroying our ability to imagine. I agree (to a certain point). Look at an episode of CSI or a doc on History Channel and you see the sad trend.  Two people talking is never shown for more than a few seconds.  Even if what’s being said is completely inane, you can rest assure that what’s being said will be shown in images.  So, for example, if you filmed me talking to my wife about eating a pickle sandwich, then you can bet your life that before I showed you that video, I would have my editor fade in an image of a pickle sandwich. You, as the viewer, could not imagine a pickle sandwich, so the picture of a pickle sandwich would be necessary.

God I hate that.

Now, don’t worry.  I trust that all of you can imagine a pickle sandwich.  But then again, just in case, here is one:

Though I could see Jonathan’s point, the writer in me is not so scared about the digital world and its super-need to rely on images. I will admit that somewhere along the line, I became a little snooty about what is and what is not good writing, by which I really am talking about good storytelling.  I am going to avoid trying to define terms, partly because I’m not equipped for that kind of thing and even more to the point, I have learned not to care so much about definitions.  They are helpful, but they can also limit you.  As in I once thought I could only be a professional writer if I published a proper novel. (I have three versions of 2/3 of a book to prove it.)  That idea was definitely tied to my understanding of what literature was, which in a few words can be described this way: character-driven sadness in which nothing happens except for someone dying towards the end.

My way out of that intellectual crapper has been to think of myself as a storyteller, which I know is a bit hack, but it’s no less true for being so.  Every medium has its strengths and weaknesses.  There are some stories that I think work best for the page.  But contrary to what I used to think, the written word is not the only way to be deep.  Jonathan Silence’s images are just as deep as a Ken Kesey novel.  It’s just that the stories being told are different kinds of stories. Along the same lines, I’ve been reading a blog called Little Commas, which I recommend highly.  I don’t know who hosts it, but every day, the blogger puts up drawings or graphic art or photography, and in so doing, makes the case that images are stories.  Even a company logo is a story. You just have to know how to look at it.

For the writers out there and the visual artists, too, I’m wondering what you think.  Can a digital culture make great stories? Or are we doomed to seeing pictures of pickle sandwiches?

Video Alchemy

In life, Uncategorized on March 31, 2012 at 3:33 pm

I Suck at Networking & Other Things…

In humor, Uncategorized, writing on March 31, 2012 at 8:31 am

A week ago I went to a talk that was supposed to be about funding independent movie projects with Silicon Valley money.  These kind of talks always make me uneasy.  As you can imagine, if getting funding were as easy as paying 40 bucks and hearing someone talk, there would be a lot more indie flicks being made–scary thought!  But there is no magic bullet.  There is only persistence and turning over rocks and waiting and re-thinking and begging and some other gerunds I can’t come up right now.

But what about my lack of ease.  What’s that about?  In the case of last week, I’d say that there was the itchiness of desperation, which was at work.  I don’t know how to put this lightly, but there is a certain type of person who shows up at these events, and the best way to describe them is to say they are not winners.  OK, there’s a better way to say it.  They’re losers.  Now, before you start judging me being judgmental, let me explain what I mean and let me also say I am aware that I might fit into that category myself.

As is the case with any social label, there are many kinds of losers at these events.  There are the dreamers who like to talk about their projects but don’t put in the time with their projects to make them happen.  These people might have talent, but it’s hard to know for sure since they are always talking and never producing much.  Then there are the disconnected types.  I spoke with one such person at an event like the one I mentioned above.  She told me that the bank was foreclosing her house but she wasn’t worried because it would take four months for the sheriffs to come and kick her out, which meant she would have four months rent-free, which for her meant, four months’ worth of mortgage moneys that could be reinvested in her film.

The film, by the way,  is about a guy whose home was being taken away from him.

I won’t say more about this.  You decide.  I mean, history is written by the victor.  So maybe what seems completely daft and loser-like to me will become next year’s underground film Cinderella story.  It’s possible, though an editor friend of mine showed me some of her clips, and I gotta say, I don’t see it.

Back to my unease: I realize that there is a thin line between risk and stupidity, between winning and losing, between unique talent and bat-shit-craziness.  If you are a Spielberg or a Faulkner or a (FILL IN THE BLANK OF YOUR STORYTELLER OF CHOICE), then you know you rock.  But for the rest of us artists in the creative pool, there is only hope that we are not bat-shit-crazy like the woman above.  But how can you know?  Really? And it is this lack of security that makes me uneasy and that is heightened at events like the one last week.  In fact, my lack of ease makes me crazy.  It makes me do stupid things like….wait for it….

After two hours of listening to people talk about their projects, BUT NOT ABOUT HOW THEY FUNDED THEM, which is why I went to begin with, I wanted to get up and scream.  But I decided to hold on and wait things out.  Sure enough, the last speaker on stage, mentioned some of his “tricks” which were really just common sense points, like telling everyone you know, being confident when you talk about your project, etc.  Still, it was good to hear what he had to say, and he was able to make a pretty movie and sell it to Nickelodean, which is saying something.  (The movie, in case you’re wondering, had something to do with a spy force made up of dogs–I’m not commenting.  I’m just saying.)

So, back again to my craziness: after the 3.5 hours of useless information, it was time to network.  There were like ten people in the audience, but hey, it only takes one connection, right?  This was my chance to at least get something for my money and time.  Yeah.  You’d think this.  But what do I do?  I stay in my seat and watch others laugh and talk up their projects.  I start judging them, of course.  Doggie-spy movies?  Santa v. Aliens?  (Another project that had sold.)  I looked on from the corner like some ugly pimpled kid at a school dance and seethed at the socializing that for some reason I was keeping myself from.

At one point, an older woman approached me and asked if I had a project.  She was with dog-spy dude, I think. Not that mattered.  This was a chance, a lifeline.  Someone was trying to help me out.  But of course, I’m feeling like a loser, so what do I do?  I say.  Oh, I’m just here out of curiosity.  She lingered thinking I was warming up to my project, but I didn’t give her another word.  I didn’t even ask her what her project was, which is networking 101.  We just stood, looking at each other, nodding until she walked away.

WHY?  Why you ask do I act like a dumb-dumb?  Insecurity is the most obvious source of my dunder-headed ways.  Insecurity makes people seem like dicks, douches and dumb-asses, which hopefully I am not.  I need to fake confidence better, but just I have a problem with that.  If I feel great about a project, then I can talk it up.  But the truth is that with me, there are no projects I’m 100% about.  Why?  Because I am insecure.  See the loop?

In a world in which doggie-spy movies sell to national networks, there has to be room for my quirky shit. I say this but I realize that there is a problem even in that formulation: room is created; it doesn’t just exist in a vacuum.  Which leads me back to the drawing board and to future talks in which I, hopefully, take the stupid out of my person and share my projects with others.  It’s either that, or I’ll be making my next flick about a dumb writer who stays at home watching silly movies about animal espionage, too scared to make his own projects.

I know.  I know. It’s not that great.  It’s already been done.  I’m sure you could find something better to watch.

See.  This is why I don’t share.

The Life & Death of a Short Film–my first short film…

In media, observations, Uncategorized, writing on March 5, 2012 at 6:19 am

OK, here’s something you’ve never heard before: making a movie is hard and it’s expensive.

That’s all I got for you.  That’s really all I need to say on the matter, and if it wasn’t for the fact that this is a blog and by nature, I’m verbose (which is why I have a blog), I would leave it there.  But well, I’m here, you’re here, so let’s talk.

I made a 9 minute movie and I got it shown at the Castro Theater here in San Francisco on Saturday.  Getting the movie to show is not as big a deal as it sounds.  I joined something called Scary Cow, which is a film collective that allows people to pitch a movie idea, find a crew, and get something on film.  You have to pay a monthly fee, but in addition to access to a crew, your money goes toward funding future projects.  Anyone in the collective can get her movie to play as long as it’s under 10 minutes and uses Scary Cow members.  If the film places (the screening is also a competition) then you get money for your next project.  It’s a good system and it allows for beginners like me to get involved in film.

I loved the process though it’s exhausting.  Not only did I pull two crazy days in January filming, I then had to spend countless hours with an editor finding out I didn’t get all the shots I needed or the sound for the shots I did have.  If you watch the movie, which I hope you will, click here for your filmic enjoyment , you will see that I ended the movie in what I would call Gray’s Anatomy style. I.e., I ended with a montage of images accompanied by music supplied by my very talented friend, Brent Newcomb.  Great song, but I sapped it of its charms by making it play along to the sappy images of reconciliation.  Oh well.  This is what you do when you have to.  By the way, what makes the good writers of Gray’s Anatomy inflict the montage-sappy song combo on us?

The hardest part of the film making process happened this weekend.  Harder than the writing of the script, the auditioning of actors, the filming or even the editing, is the screening.  Overall, it went well.  I have caught the bug of screenwriting.  I knew even in November when I wrote the script that I loved the format.  I like collaborating. I like working toward realizing a vision in concrete detail that goes beyond the page, that’s as complicated as any moment in life.  Description through words on the page only has always been my undoing as a fiction writer.  Sometimes I hit the mark, but usually, I feel myself bloating the language when I try to describe in detail and do so aesthetically.  You have to be detailed in scriptwriting, but if it’s not being said, you don’t have to be pretty or artistic.

Aside from the pleasure of writing for the human voice, there is the pleasure of sitting with an audience and having them get what you wrote.  With only one exception, I can report that the audience on Saturday laughed when I hoped it would.  It’s communication, I guess.  The feeling of connection.  AWESOMENESS!!

That’s the positive side of the experience, but then there is the competition.  I never intended for my movie to win anything.  I went in with the idea that I would learn from the experience and nothing more.  I learn best by breaking eggs, and I broke plenty on this film.  But then you get to the screening and you see the other films and you think, hey, my film is ok.  I think I can say that in my division (those movies made my unfunded newbies like myself) The Unfortunate Brother held it’s own; t’s a real story with a beginning, middle and end.  So I started hoping until I found out that I didn’t win anything.

I can’t say I wasn’t bummed.  I can’t say I was surprised either.  The story is a good one, but the execution, the technical stuff of film, sometimes got away from me.  Onto the next one.  This morning, I got up and after sulking for a couple hours and driving my poor wife nuts, I packed myself off to the coffee house and started my next script longhand.  A friend of mine who did actually place with his very pretty doc, was bummed because he didn’t win, and I told him what I am telling myself now: it’s about not giving up.  It’s about writing and not stopping, just like I’m doing with this post.

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