Saturday, February 02, 2008

Where Did January Go?

Happy Ground Hog Day!

The first month of the year is *over* - and what do I have to show for it? Not as much as I’d planned. Originally I was going to do a big page one rewrite on an old script in January.... but I ended up not being prepared for that. So, I decided to write a spec instead. Not some spec that I have outlined and waiting on the old launching pad, a spec that I knew nothing about. Just start writing and get the sucker done by Feb 1....

Needless to say, that didn’t happen.

But it didn’t happen for some really weird reasons.

Now, I have some great high concept specs that might be potential sales when the strike ends (which is sounding like it may be soon - even though WGA is saying it ain't over till it's over). I didn’t pick one of those to write.

Instead, I had this script idea for a typical action flick. A bunch of my better known films were military action things I wrote for HBO or Showtime a decade ago using planes or submarines or aircraft carriers. So, for some strange reason, people always ask me if I have any specs like that... and the answer is “no”. I have a plane hijack script that nobody seems to want post 9-11, and I have some other kinds of action scripts, but nothing with planes or submarines.

Part of my strike stalled (and maybe killed) studio sequel project was to come up with sequels for a movie that featured an airplane - and I came up with a couple. One was pretty much the kind of thing I was writing a decade ago. Since, for all I know this whole thing is completely dead, I thought I might pull that one off the list and spec it. That way, when someone asks if I have any scripts like that, I can whip this one out. I also need to write an action script that could star a rap star, because people often ask me for those, too.

Well, I did a quick outline on this plane script, started writing it...

And then had a cool idea for a monster movie - it’s that danged CLOVERFIELD buzz. The thing I wondered is - what would happen if a little bitty scared animal suddenly became huge and had a major change in confidence. Now they could stomp just about anyone or any thing. Suddenly the shy, scared creature would really turn into a monster. As you can see, there’s an interesting little story there. The problem is, this is a dopey monster movie that I will probably not be able to sell... unless I make it myself or do some other co-production thing that ends up costing me money.

So, I should be writing the high concept studio spec...

But instead I’m writing the medium budget action spec...

Which I’m not spending all of my time on, because I’m tinkering with this silly monster movie.

None of these things were finished in January, which ended up being a completely screwed month where I got a worse cold than I had in December, there was so much danged rain that I stayed in doors - and that meant *no* exercise and that kind of lead to sleep problems. So I have *some* pages, but no new finished spec.

Now, here’s the pisser - I frequently advise people to focus on *one* script and get the thing finished. And, here I am not taking my own advice... and ending up with a whole month gone and not really all that much to show for it.

But, as Scarlet O’Hara said...

- Bill

TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: Drama Of Inaction..
Yesterday’s Dinner: Burrito at Chipolte in Burbank.

MOVIES: The worst part of all of this non-productivity? I haven’t seen many movies. I mean, there are a zillion great films out there (that time of year) and I haven’t seen most of them. I *did* see CLOVERFIELD, which *is* BLAIR GODZILLA. The thing is, unlike Blair Witch, we knew going in that this was a movie, not some can of film found somewhere. So the opening telling us that the video was found in what they used to call Central Park is a nice touch, but we know it’s a movie. One of the things I liked about the film is that the camera has an attitude - well, the cameraman Hud does. He has a crush on a girl at the party, and the camera constantly strays to her... and strays to any other woman around. He’s a horn dog, and also nervous, and also kind of a dope. He keeps asking the wrong questions and snooping places he doesn’t belong. It’s great that we feel so much for a character that we almost never see.

After the danged monster crashes the party, we get a lot of really shaky hand held camera... and it’s okay at first, but by the time we get to the subway station I never wanted to see another shaky shot again. And that would have been a good place to smooth out the camera work, because we were hiding - the camera was stationary. And, from that point on they might have toned down the shaky came - put the thing on a steady cam rig so that we still had the feeling of hand held camera without all of the danged shaking. But that’s not what they did. Instead, even when they were hiding, the camera is shaking and jerking around like crazy.

There were some uncomfortable 9-11 moments in the film - a couple that seemed as if they were lifted from the news (one scene, where a giant cloud of dust chases them down the street and they hide in a store as the world outside goes gray, was too close for comfort). Plus, scenes of soldiers torn apart by war seems like it came from Iraq footage. I know they were doing this on purpose - this is a way to deal with the terrors of 9-11 and Iraq in a "safe" way - but it pulled me out of the story.

Another issue for me - the story was light. Though I like the idea of going back for the woman you realize you love, but they didn’t make enough of it. Though that ended up being the best emotional payoff in the film, it was still kind of a blip. The monster attack ends up being sketchy, which makes it kind of unsatisfying. That puts *more* pressure on the emotional elements, and they just weren’t satisfying enough to make up for the sketchy monster story. Add all of that shaky camera, and the film just kind of died for me after that subway scene. Yes, there is some really good stuff after that... but I was less interested. And there is a point in this film where you think it is over... but it just drags on for another ten minutes. “Drags” is a funny word to use for a film this short.

Pages: Doing an article for MovieScope, then an article for Script.

- Bill

No comments:

eXTReMe Tracker