Sunday, September 30, 2007

I've Been Avoiding You

For a while, I was writing like a madman - 5 pages a day on the new spec, plus all of my usual stuff like putting up a script tip every day and writing articles and posting answers to screenwriting questions on message boards - and just didn’t have time to put up a new blog entry. I had things to say, I just didn’t have time to say them. I was doing a couple of scenes a day on SLEEPER AGENT. Piling up the pages. In the groove. It was great!

Then, I wasn’t piling up the pages... and I began avoiding you. I didn’t want to post that I had fallen off the wagon. I wanted to be, you know, a good example for you. I didn’t want to be the kind of slacker screw up who talks the talk but fails to walk the walk. Plus, that Scott The Reader guy keeps bragging over on his blog about his 45th day in a row of turning out pages. He was managing to pile up the pages while I was failing!

The set crashing post was fun, but it was something written years ago. The post about HARD EVIDENCE playing on UK TV (which ended up not being so) was work avoidance.

Things went wrong because other writing responsibilities got in the way. A producer called about a project, plus I’m gearing up for my Expo classes, and I had to write up a couple of synopsis to chum the waters, then I went to a couple of parties... and there were a couple of nights where I had trouble sleeping... you see, I’m a really light sleeper, and sometimes a noise wakes me up and I have trouble falling asleep again, and sometimes I just have trouble falling asleep in the first place, plus...

I have all kinds of excuses. And that’s really what they are - excuses.

If I had been writing on a producer’s deadline, none of those things would have gotten in the way. Even if I hadn’t gotten enough sleep I just would have forced myself to write 5 pages, then rewritten them later. I’ve done it before - many times. I’ve written hung over. I’ve written without sleep. I’ve written on bad days. I’ve written with a toothache. I’ve written with a broken heart. If I’m on a deadline, I can probably write on my deathbed.

But this is a spec. No deadline. The excuses can kick in.

Though all of those excuses were the reason why I stopped turning out pages, the reason why I continued to not turn out pages is probably a frustration issue - but I’ll save that for tomorrow’s blog entry. You see, even that ends up being just an excuse.

I realized that only one person could get me back to turning out pages... that’s me. So I “Dr. Phil”ed myself - I called myself a slacker, a goof off, and worse. I realized that I was letting myself get away with doing nothing. That if I wanted to start turning out pages again, I’d have to just... write! No more excuses. No more bullshit.

So, I forced myself to just sit at the keyboard and write.

And yesterday I wrote 5 pages... And the day before that I wrote 5 pages. And today I’m working on my 5 pages.

No excuses.

The first day back at 5 pages? I just reread them - they are 5 damned fine pages. Yes, it’s a first draft and I’m going to have to rewrite them, but I don’t have to throw any of them away. Same with yesterday’s. So far, same with today’s. None of it looks like forced writing - and it really *isn’t* forced. It’s not the writing that is forced, it’s the activity of writing. The butt in the seat part. The writing itself had moments of flow of joy and wild invenion and just plain fun, once I forced myself to just put my butt in the seat and do it.

So, now that it isn’t just a fluke day of 5 pages, but I’m back at it, I thought I’d show my face again.

- Bill

IMPORTANT UPDATE:
Yesterday’s Dinner: Bacon Cheddar Burger at Fudruckers... ER nurses were standing by.
DVDs: GOTCHA! - one of my guilty pleasure films - for an upcoming project. I also watched my robot hooker from outer space film - haven't seen it in years - to see if the FOR SCREENING PURPOSES ONLY thing gets in the way of the handful of scenes that didn't make it into the release print. Not that I would ever make any illegal duplicates of the full version of that film or anything...
Pages: 5 pages on SLEEPER! Made my quota again. Did a cool thing where a car is surrounded by bad guys on motorcyles, "like a swarm of angry bees". I'm closing in on Act 3, and will soon be in the home stretch.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

More Movies On UK TV...


It seems like all of my movies are popping up on TV in the UK. A strange second life for them, a decade after they were made.

Latest is HARD EVIDENCE, which ends up being my favorite of all the things that got slapped on film by default. It's poorly directed, the director also added a bunch of sex scenes (which may or may not be in the UK TV print) and shooting in Vancouver kind of screwed up the hell-hole Mexican prison angle in the script (being thrown in a Canadian prison doesn't sound nearly as bad), but they filmed what I wrote. When the characters open their mouths, my words come out. Though it's filmed in the least exciting way possible, the actors do what the characters did in the script. The twists are all there. Though nobody ever got any of the film refs - they are in the movie! The mistress lives at #17... the title of a Hitchcock film!

This film is from Warner Bros, but *not* available on DVD in the USA. I have no idea why. It was a huge rental hit on VHS, #7 in the USA when it was released.

Anyway - here's when to see it if you like in the UK. Any questions about the film will be gladly answered.

Hard Evidence (Film)
Starting: 18:30 on Wednesday 26th September. Duration: 2 hours
Showing on True Movies.

Hard Evidence (Film)
Starting: 12:30 on Friday 28th September. Duration: 2 hours
Showing on True Movies.

Hard Evidence (Film)
Starting: 12:00 on Saturday 29th September. Duration: 2 hours
Showing on True Movies 2.

Hard Evidence (Film)
Starting: 16:00 on Sunday 30th September. Duration: 2 hours
Showing on True Movies 2.


By the way, the film is not based on a true story, so I have no idea why it's on True Movies. Maybe it was part of some package of TV movies sold to them?

- Bill

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Keeps On Ticking...

Five pages. Five pages. Five pages.

Okay, I stumbled a couple of days, but I'm at page 67 today... when I'd planned on being at page 75. But I'm not that far behind - I just won't finish by the end of the week, as planned.

- Bill

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Joy Of Page Count

Yesterday I wrote 5 pages. That’s my quota. My goal. I can write more pages than that, but if I manage to turn out 5 pages every day, six days a week, I am a script machine.

The day before yesterday, I wrote 5 pages.

The day before that I wrote 5 pages.

The day before that... well, it was just too damned hot to do anything. In fact, there were a few days where I did almost nothing.

Now, I am a human being. I would rather goof off than actually have to do something. Work is a four letter word (and I have seen the David Warner movie). Given the choice between working and spending the day in a cinema watching awful movies? Get me some Red Vines and a Sprite! Sitting around the (air conditioned) house watching a stack of DVDs? Sounds great! I’m an addict, and I have a huge stack of of DVDs I bought and haven’t seen, yet. Probably *months* of unwatched DVDs. I’d better put off work and watch some of them!

But when I get into the groove and start turning out pages, not only do I have that great feeling of accomplishment, I realize how much I really love writing. My problem is inertia. It’s tough to get started, but once I get going, I get going. When I’m working on an assignment, I *have to* turn out pages - and I can do my 5 a day and turn out a pretty good first draft in a month. I can also adjust my quota for really crazy deadlines if someone needs a script in 2 weeks. I’m good with deadlines.

But specs? Well, no deadline, no producer waiting for the draft, no pressure. Inertia can take control. I’d rather watch a DVD, I’d rather go online and argue with someone. I’d rather read other people’s blogs. It’s hard for me to get started. I’m like a car that needs to be push started... and how the hell do you push start the car *and* sit in the driver’s seat? Easier just to pop in a DVD.

But once I get going, like I have been, I realize how much I really love writing screenplays. The spec I’m working on, SLEEPER AGENT, is an action script. My theory on this one is to Always Be Moving. After a couple of set up scenes, there will not be any scenes that are not moving. You know those scenes where people are sitting somewhere having a conversation? Not in this script. If people are talking, either they will be running or in a speeding vehicle. And the more they talk, the faster the vehicle.

So, yesterday I had a talk scene... on a speeding hydrofoil ferry going 42 knots. This was a “catch your breath scene” after some action, but even on the speeding ferry I wanted to have something else happening... so I added some suspense. Now, the joy for me was figuring out what little things happened in the scene - I already knew what the big things would be (the conversation). Creating the details - not just the way the characters say what they say, but the suspense “scene subplot” and the cool way a suddenly violent fight scene turned out (I came up with a weird shock moment that actually gives us a bunch of information about the villains - and the *how* was created on the spot and was exciting to write)... but my favorite thing I came up with yesterday was the very end of the sequence - which left our heroes alone with a pair of crying Greek girls. You know when you come up with a little moment that turns an okay scene into a much better scene?

I love that stuff. I love writing that stuff. I love when some little thing that I wrote that had no meaning suddenly has a meaning. You create something that seems too good for you to have come up with. It’s like God, or maybe Steve Zaillian, was working through you. It’s that amazing moment of creation where a scene comes alive, or a moment seems real, or a scene has some original element and you have no idea where it came from... and you realize you are a freakin’ writer after all. That all of those days where you sat around avoiding writing were a huge mistake, because when you’re really in the groove, writing is *fun*. Writing is cool.

And the pages keep piling up, and you realize you will have a NEW finished screenplay in just a few weeks. A new baby.

Hey, this is why I go through all of the crap that comes with this job... I really like writing.

- Bill

Friday, September 07, 2007

Osama Bin Laden: Just For Men user!


In the old photo of Osama, his beard is gray. No play for Mr. Gray! So he used Just For Men, to take that gray away!



In the recent photo (a couple of days ago) the gray is GONE!

He looks years younger!


- Bill

Monday, September 03, 2007

Las Vegas Wrap Up!

I need a vacation!

The problem with Vegas is that it is a city of excess. You indulge in all of these behaviors that you know are not good for you - and you keep doing them. Hell, everybody else is! So the casinos are open 24 hours, and they serve drinks 24 hours. I am not a morning person... but I usually am not still up and having a beer at 6am. I love to eat - and it shows - but I usually don’t eat until I feel like I’m going to explode (“It’s wafer thin!”) every day. You go to a buffet at the Rio and it’s all you can eat and the food is good and you want to get your money’s worth and... well, next thing you know you feel like you’re going to pop and you aren’t sure you can walk. Now, if you did that once a week it would probably not be good for you... but once a day? Every day? And one a couple of those days I did an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet where I think I may have ate my weight in bacon. I love bacon. I never eat bacon. When I have a massive heart attack next week, it was probably the bacon.

So my vacation was eating too much and not sleeping enough.

Now I need to sleep and fast (or, at least eat smaller portions of foods that are better for me for a while).

And it’s hot as hell in Los Angeles. I expected to come back from hot Las Vegas (where everything is air conditioned up the wazoo - and you know having a cool wazoo is the key) to about 10' cooler weather. No such luck. It’s so hot, it takes about 2 hours to turn my apartment from Oven to Can Sustain Human Life. I could just keep my A/C on all day, and hand over my next script check to the DWP, but it doesn’t make any sense to me to pay for a cool home when I’m somewhere else...

In Vegas, I was hardly ever outside. Sure, you take the elevated walkway from one casino to the next - but that’s just a couple of minutes. Earlier today it took me longer to get from vehicle to Starbucks... in a freakin’ oven of an underground garage,

Okay, okay... I can stay here as long as I don’t talk about the heat.

One night I was awakened by cannon fire and explosions. Lots of them. I thought that maybe the terrorists had gone after Vegas. Bright flashes from the curtained hotel window. I throw open the shades, expecting to see the Stratosphere in flames... but instead I’m treated to a *wild* lightning storm. Hundreds of bright strikes. Loud thunder. For a second, night turns to day... then BOOOOM! Lasted for about 2 hours. It was too loud to sleep through, so I just watched the show. Went back to bed after it was over. Next day, I caught the news - sections of Vegas (residential) had flooded. They called it a 100 year storm. A whole lotta inches of rainfall in those 2 hours. People’s homes - ruined. Some people plan on suing the city, others wonder why they didn’t have flood insurance.

The next day I’m in a really nice casino on the strip, starts with Bel, ends with Lagio, and I’m playing a slot machine near the hotel elevators, and the doors open and out comes the skankiest whore I have ever seen in my life. I felt sorry for the security guard gripping her arm - I would have worn rubber gloves. Then burned them afterwards. What was strange to me - anyone staying in this hotel could afford a much better looking, smelling, etc hooker. So this unclean thing had to be a *choice*. Weird. Someday a real rain will come and wash away all of the scum and... oh, sorry, I Bickled for a moment.

I had a day where I left the casinos with almost exactly what I started out with for that day... but managed to drink 8 free beers at a variety of casinos. That was my most successful day, under the Bill “Gambling Is All About Free Beers” theory.

One thing that often amazes me is how well people remember me. I was in one casino a couple of times, and the cocktail waitress actually brought me the brand of beer I would have ordered *before I ordered*. She saw me, put the beer on her tray for me. This was strange - and kind of like the Starbucks out in the butt end of the Valley that I go to maybe a half dozen times a year when I have to pick up a package at the UPS warehouse near Van Nuys Airport... and they remember my name and what I drink. How can people I never see remember my name... and why *me*? Now, maybe it was because I tip cocktail waitresses (but doesn’t everybody?) Or maybe it’s because I always say Thank You (and mean it) (but don’t most people?) Or maybe it’s because I just have a friendly and memorable face. Who knows? Anyway, they also remembered my drink at a Vegas Starbucks I worked in every other day.

And this was a working vacation. I actually managed to do my 5 page a day quota on SLEEPER two days in a row, and did some okay work on other days. I finished Act 1. Sure, there were days when I didn’t really do much, but it was still a vacation. There were days were I goofed off.

Now I’m back and I need a vacation... But I have pages to write.

- Bill
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