Friday, August 15, 2008

Hitchcock On Hiatus This Week

This has been a hell week... and one thing that didn’t get done was the Hitchcock entry. Funny thing is - this week was to be NORTH BY NORTHWEST, one of my favorite movies, and I thought it would be easy to knock it out. Then some other stuff happened.

The Hawaii film has been postponed for a month... or maybe more. You know, they still haven’t settled the SAG situation, so there may be a strike any day... or not. The actors have been working without a contract since June. You know how any task expands to fill the time allotted ? Well, now I have a major what-if-this-were-different rewrite to do on the Hawaii script. But, you know, fast... just in case the SAG thing settles tomorrow.

And, out of the blue several things have happened that I have not shared because there are no contracts... but may soon be. One of these is a potentially big deal - a remake of a theatrical semi-hit film from the1980s. I’ve had two meetings on this, formulated a few different ways to bring the story into the new millennium, and now I’m fleshing out one of those story ideas to pitch it to the studio. This could crash and burn at any time - so I’m kind of keeping details secret.

Meanwhile, for some reason, all kinds of other people are suddenly reading and meeting... yesterday I had to cancel one meeting to take my studio remake meeting. Today (Friday) I had a meeting on an indie project that is never going to happen... and the producer asked if he could take this big action script that he read as a sample to a connection he has at a studio... and a moment ago I got an e-mail from somebody else about taking a script to a cable net. None of those - or some of the other hovering projects - may happen. None are “real” yet. They are still talk... but just because a plate may fall is no reason to stop spinning it.

As you all know, I have this blog... and a website with a different Script Tip every day... and a couple more websites that are mostly dead... and a newsletter that I never get around to sending out that was supposed to be a magazine this year... and classes I teach every once in a while... and some classes on CD and some booklets and a column in Script Magazine and one in Moviescope... and none of that is my real job - I write screenplays for a living. I feel like that guy who used to be on the Ed Sullivan Show who had to keep a few dozen plates spinning on the tips of pool cues - and most of you have no idea who Ed Sullivan even is! “Doesn’t he have something to do with Dave Letterman?”

So usually what happens is that while I’m off spinning one plate, some other plate is neglected and about to fall over.

Over the past two months I’ve been writing *new* Script Tips - and run 12 of them in those 2 months. And I have a couple that haven’t run, yet. That’s about 6 new tips per month - and if you add in the rewritten tips that’s almost 2 new tips every week...

Or two fewer blog entries.

Or 10 fewer pages on the new spec.

Or some rewrite work on that Hawaii script.

One of the reasons why I started talking about the movies I’ve seen here is that it helps me get my thoughts down so that I can use that information in a Script Tip later. When I first began listing my movies here, I was basically just using the blog as my calendar - I used to list ever movie I saw on my wall calendar and then add them up at the end of the year. The problem with the blog is that I’m a screw up - you know how many movies I’ve seen that I never blogged about? Probably a hundred! The thing is, I want the blog entry to be detailed enough that I can later “harvest” it for a script tip - yet I don’t want to just jot down half thought through notes. I don’t want to look like any more of an idiot in print than I already do. So I have a folder full of half written film reviews. It’s not just the new Batman movie I haven’t posted about, it’s a whole bunch of films.

When I do blog about a film, I try to find the main problem with it and enough notes on anything else that I can expand it into a Script Tip later. So the “21" blog entry was a few hundred words, the Script Tip ended up being 2,600 words.

Though the Hitchcock movie thing began as a way to force myself into having at least one new blog entry every week, now I’m looking at those entries differently - I’m focusing on the story and the writing and trying to find a screenwriting lesson or two in every film. You may have noticed that in THE BIRDS and PSYCHO entries. I’ll probably even go back and rewrite the others to find a screenwriting lesson in them - heck, even TOPAZ has that experimental 4 stories thing going on. So next year when I finish all 53 movies, I’ll have 53 screenwriting lessons based on material from Hitchcock movies... and that’s a book!

Because I have nothing better to do with my time (more and more behind on the spec and rewrite!) (You’ll never find out what I thought of THE DARK KNIGHT!) I’m also considering spending Thursdays with Boris Karloff’s THRILLER TV show - one of my favorite shows as a kid which is not available on DVD, yet - but I have recording of all of the episodes from TV. These episodes were often based on Woolrich short stories and often directed by Ida Lupino (a kick ass female action & thriller director from the 50s). She was an actress, and like Clint Eastwood, learned how to direct on the job in Don Siegel films. I think it’d be fun to look at all of those old episodes again and write about them...

And it’s content for the blog. I must generate content! For the blog, for Script Tips, for the other websites, for Script Magazine, for Movie Scope, for all of the other places.

But most of this stuff will never end up in Script Tips - making it a lot of work that only services the blog. Nice to force myself to write new blog entries every week, better if that stuff has some further use on down the road. If the blog can help the website and the website can help newsletter and the newsletter and the newsletter can... Well, I can get all kinds of stuff done when I really should be working on my spec.

Hey, over the past 2 months I’ve written 12 new tips! Which is kind of ironic, since my To Do List for July was “write new Script Tips” - I just didn’t get anything else on the To Do List todone, and the new script tips were written to avoid doing all of the other stuff.

Should I spend more time working on the Script Tips.... or on a new blog entry?

Or maybe get back to work on the rewrite?

Or work on that remake pitch?

Or sleep?

So, this week I just never got around to writing the Hitchcock blog entry... sorry. Next week, NORTH BY NORTHWEST.
- Bill

PS: The majority of this blog entry was previously written and was supposed to run on Wednesday... but I never got around to posting it. So I just added some of the new plates and posted it.


TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: One Script - One Conflict and STREET KINGS.
Yesterday’s Dinner: Tired, busy, almost forgot to eat... Sandwich.
Pages: Zero - meeting, later jotted notes on the project.
Bicycle: *Did* ride to my meeting yesterday - and I'm at that point where it's more fun than work. Helpful tips: Bell "Gel Seats" - waste of money. The gel part breaks and comes off - leaving you with a big gooey mess stuck to your ass. Looks comfortable, and without the gel part is okay.
Movies: Well, DARK KNIGHT review *is* coming, plus TROPIC THUNDER and MAN ON WIRE and some others.


Christina said...

So you're single, right? Man, you have a lot going on.

Good Dog said...

Ah, good old North By Northwest. Although it deserves to be celebrated for those brilliant set pieces, there's also the best use of a tunnel, ever.

Actually, a couple evenings ago I watched To Catch a Thief again. The fireworks are just brilliant. You've got to love Hitch.

Watching The Dark Knight, I was begging for the film to end maybe twenty minutes or more before it was finally over. Far to many moral dilemmas for me to care about.

I picked up copies of the Ellroy scripts years ago, back when Street Kings was titled The Night Watchman and Dark Blue was Plague Season. Some time later Mr Ellroy was over here in the UK promoting The Cold Six Thousand. After he gave his talk and it came time for the signing, I asked him about the bumpy ride the scripts had taken and whether they would be filmed.

Pretty much figuring the deals were dead he looked me in the eye and said: "Life goes on Paul, life goes on!"

Emily Blake said...

I just wanted to tell you both good luck. We're all counting on you.

crowmagnumman said...

I love reading your blog and your scrip tips, but I'd say your career comes first.

martinb said...

The same as crowmagnumman.

ObiDonWan said...

Your blog on comedy that works or doesn't. I just watched BE COOL, the Travolta followup to GET SHORTY. The gangstas were funny. The Russian mafia were funny and doomed. Vince Vaughan was funny. Even The Rock, playing a flaming faggot, was funny. Nearly everyone was funny except for Uma and Travolta, both of whom got to walk away with the movie and not have anything weird happen to them. I guess Travolta's Chili was supposed to be untouchable, but it felt strange by the end.

Anonymous said...

speaking of Script, I loved the Deliverance breakdown you did, really made me look at it in a whole new cool way

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