Friday, January 25, 2008

Broken In

I bought these shoes *many* months ago - leather cross trainers - just before going on some adventure. When I first bought them, they were a little stiff. I was doing a lot of walking on whatever adventure that was, and these shoes were *not* comfortable. I probably ended up with some “new shoe blisters” - maybe you’ve had those, too.

But now, these shoes are completely broken in. Soft. Comfortable. They now completely fit my feet... and they are also worn out and ready to be replaced. Scuffed up, wearing out.

I just bought a new pair of Levis, and they are kind of stiff. It’s hard for me to find Levis that fit, because I’m tall... but not freakish tall. Though I could probably shop in some big and tall store, or go to somewhere that has extended sizes, my size of Levis can be found in a normal store. So that’s where I shop. But the strange thing is, Levis are *not* consistent in length size. So two pair that are supposedly the same size may be just enough different that one fits perfectly and the other is half an inch too short (what we used to call “floods” when I was a kid). So shopping for jeans requires a little work - and I own a couple of pair of Levis that are that half inch too short. The pair I’m wearing now are absolutely perfect. They were kind of stiff when I first bought them, but I’ve broken them in - and now they are perfect. The new pair of Levis is still in my closet - wore them a couple of times, but they just aren’t as comfortable as the pair I’m wearing now.

Of course, this pair of Levis came out of the washing machine with a hole in the right side back pocket - where I keep my comb - and I know that every time I wash them that little worn out section will wear out even more... and soon these perfect Levis will be worn out, and I’ll have to break in that new pair.

Why is it that just when something becomes broken in and comfortable, it’s days are numbered?

You can apply this to screenwriting any way you want.

- Bill

IMPORTANT UPDATE:

TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: Understanding protagonists.
Yesterday’s Dinner: Soup on a rainy day - that chunky sirloin burger stuff.

DVD: VANISHING POINT - one of those 70s films that is simple and complex at the same time. Barry Newman delivers cars cross country. He makes a bet with a guy that he can get this Dodge Challenger to San Francisco over the weekend - which means driving non-stop at top speed. When a highway patrol cop wants him to pull over, he just says ef-it and keeps on going. This brings in more police, and road blocks and helicopters and all kinds of problems... but Newman just keeps going. Most of the police cars crash - usually due to their own mistakes. A pirate radio DJ played by Cleavon Little turns Newman into a folk hero - while broadcasting information from the police radio to help Newman avoid road blocks. Newman becomes an anti-authority symbol. Everyone wants him to avoid the police - and the police must stop him to retain control. The entire problems of a nation are played out with a speeding car and a police chase. Along the way, Newman meets a strange old man in the desert who gives him life advice and a naked babe on a motorcycle who wants to give him something else. Great car chase stuff, amazing stunts, things that make DEATH PROOF look mega-lame... and an ending that is simple, yet so complex you will be thinking about it for days afterwards.

Pages: Talk about strange - yesterday I had an idea for a new spec and wrote 5 pages on it. That may be all I ever write on it, who knows.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

And the nominees are...

Best Original screenplay
Juno - Diablo Cody
Lars and the Real Girl - Nancy Oliver
Michael Clayton - Tony Gilroy
Ratatouille - Brad Bird
The Savages - Tamara Jenkins

Best Adapted screenplay
Atonement - Christopher Hampton
Away From Her - Sarah Polley
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - Ronald Harwood
No Country For Old Men - Joel & Ethan Coen
There Will Be Blood - Paul Thomas Anderson

So - what do you think of these nominees? Which movies have you seen? What scripts do you think deserve the nomination more? Anyone catch Diablo Cody on Letterman?

- Bill

PS: The post about my Levis wasn't supposed to go up until the end of the week - so I put it back in the vault. Let's look at the Oscar Nominees first.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Bill's BBC Writer's Room Interview



Years ago when I was in London to teach my big 2 day class I did a million interviews in two days. I was on morning radio (breakfast chat) and afternoon radio. I did all kinds of radio in between. Every newspaper interviewed me. I did a couple of strange shows at the BBC where I was in a studio talking to someone who was on the other side of the country... and it was broadcast live. I did one great show - kind of a zany drive show, hosted by a couple of writers who wanted to know every story I would never tell in print... and I told a couple.

And BBC's Writer's Room wanted to interview me. After racing all over town in a million taxi cabs, they called and rescheduled... for the morning at some hotel. I don't do mornings. I get to the hotel - barely awake, and they seat me on the lobby steps and begin asking questions... as hotel guests come down the stairs. Every minute we had to stop for guests! I finish this lengthy interview, and have no idea how it turned out. They run it, and post it on their website:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/insight/insight_interviews.shtml

Along with interviews from Paul Greengrass and David Benioff and many other folks you have heard of, and I kind of forget about it. Until a website regular discovers it, and e-mails me a version and puts a copy up on YouTube. I decided to add titles and put it up on YouTube... and here it is.

- Bill

IMPORTANT UPDATE:

TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: Character secrets & Jackie Chan. .
Yesterday’s Dinner: Fresh tomato beef at City Wok in Studio City.

Movies:
MOVIES: CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR - So I drove down to Long Beach to hang out with my friends Melanie and Yamo and grabs some dinner and see a movie. As dinner winds down, Mel pulls out a list of all the movies playing at the 95-plex next to the restaurant, and I look over the list and have seen many of the films and Mel or Yamo have seen others... and we narrow it down to a handful, of which CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR is the best as far as time goes... so that’s what we see.

Okay, you have an all-star cast, and Mike Nichols directing, and Aaron Sorkin writing, so you can’t end up with a bad movie.

Tom Hanks plays this charmingly sleazy congressman, Charlie Wilson, who is sitting in a Vegas hot tub with a couple of strippers and a Playboy centerfold when he sees Dan Rather on TV wearing a turban. A turban! He wants to know what that’s all about. Discovers that the Russians have invaded Afghanistan, and the Afghans are fighting back... but they need weapons. And Charlie sees a way to make his mark.

He teams up with a grumbling CIA agent named Gust, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, and a wealthy right wing Texan played by Julia Roberts. Since Roberts just popped twins and is getting older, her character *must* wear a bikini in one scene.

This movie is all over the place - and nowhere at the same time. Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts seem to be in some over the top farce, Hoffman manages to play his character with a foot in reality... yet still be at home in the farce scenes. But the danged thing just isn’t funny. You get all the funny lines in the trailer - both of them. It’s kind of breezy for the most part, and the people are fun to watch... but they left the jokes out. And the thing about this true story is that it’s wacky. It plays as farce better than it plays as reality. Oh, then they throw in a real horror of war scene with *children missing limbs* in an Afghan refugee camp. Nothing farcical about that! The tone is all over the place, and the film never seems to decide if it’s a comedy or a drama or a farce or a... heck, it could be anything. But ends up kind of being nothing. Light but not funny.

And it’s hard to shake the real-life punchline: the Afghans we armed to fight the Russians became the Taliban. Those guys we were showing as heroes in RAMBO 3 and that James Bond movie became the guys who took down the Twin Towers. That’s not in the movie, but maybe it should have been. Maybe they should have left out the maimed kids and made the film into a laugh out loud comedy... with the shocker end. People would have loved it... then hated it. But they would have *felt something*. Instead we get an all star, beautifully made, kind of ho-hum film.

- Bill

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I'm back....

Good to be back...

Good to leave...

Just good to be going somewhere.

The excitement that comes with a possible adventure in the future. *Change* is exciting. Unless you’re looking for change between the cushions of your car at the Jack In The Box drive through... that’s not exciting.

So, I return to Los Angeles, we have a monster rain storm (in LA, a couple of inches of rain means they have to close some roads), then I got hit with a killer cold... and now my nose has stopped running, but my To Do List has grown so *I* have to start running.

- Bill
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