Monday, August 31, 2009

Recharging The Batteries

After my vacation, I needed a vacation.

It’s been a busy couple of months. I took a 2 week vacation in July for my birthday in Las Vegas - some celebration with friends and the rest writing by day and being in Vegas by night... whatever money you bring to Vegas, stays in Vegas. After that I zipped back to Los Angeles for about a week, mailed some orders and searched my mailbox for the visa forms for China that were supposed to have been sent on June 24th - stressed over that for a while. Then zipped up to the Bay Area for a class reunion and to help my parents with a manual labor project at their house... oh how I just love doing heavy lifting! When I returned to Los Angeles... the China visa forms had *just* arrived (I had a friend checking my mail for them while I was away). Now I’m worried that the visa forms won’t make it through the Chinese government bureaucracy in time for me to teach my class. Oh, and I have to prep my London class right now - I’m hopping a plane in a few weeks for that non-stop orgy of film that is being on an international film fest jury... and then teach my class the day after closing ceremonies. Oh, then I fly back to Los Angeles for a week, and then hop a plane for Hong Kong (provided my Visa gets back to me in time) and do a class for the Hong Kong Film Academy. Now, somewhere in here I have some meetings on projects, including one on the big remake project - which seems as if it is going to get a major rewrite... which I will have to do in between all of this stuff because the sooner that rewrite gets done the sooner that project can happen and the sooner there will be a large payday for Bill.

So, it was important for me to have that time to relax and recharge my batteries.

Only, they didn’t seem to get fully charged and I don’t think they’re holding a charge like they used to.

There are all kinds of reasons for that - I’m sure age is a factor. When I was in my 20s I had all kinds of energy to do all kinds of things and didn’t seem to need much sleep. Now, well, I need to sleep. And I can’t go drinking every night and get up to go to work in the morning and take classes and make films and write scripts and... well, I can barely do any of that stuff now, even with 8 hours of sleep every night. Doing that manual labor, working on my parent’s house, just wiped me out every day. Sure, part of it was due to it being over 100' in Concord most of the time - but I just can’t do a day of hard work and then write a bunch of pages like I used to. I can either do the work or the pages, but not both. I’ve become a wimp.

I think another factor is burn out. When you first start writing there’s an excitement about it, and that elusive goal keeps you working harder and harder. But once you’ve achieved that goal and realized it ain’t everything you imagined... well, it’s just not as exciting anymore. My almost 20 year career has been frustrating. I put in a lot of work, and most of it leads to a dead end. I still do not understand why I don’t have an agent or manager - and why it’s easier for me to get a meeting on a studio lot than get an agent to read a script. What’s up with that? Meanwhile this guy who my friends and I think is the worst writer we have ever read (with the best networking skills) has just landed another assignment - and has an agent - and we all wonder how long this emperor will go before it is discovered he has no clothes. That assignment could have been mine or yours or any of my friend’s who actually can write, but this biz often makes no sense. These things slowly chip away at my energy

And then there are those little things in life that just seem to sap the energy from you... like a little wire causing a short that drains your battery over a period of time. When I began having problems with my laptop just before my high school reunion, someone online (I think Cathy) asked me how long I’ve had it... I couldn’t remember. Now I know that it was almost 3 years. Well, several months ago the battery stopped holding a charge - so two and a half hours of outdoor in the park writing time shrunk to 15 minutes. Hey, I can’t just ride my bike to the park and write anymore. Pisser. Now, somewhere along in there I wore the letters off the keys, and actually wore a crater in the shift key and a couple of others. I probably should have replaced the thing then, but it still had over 40g on the hard drive completely empty. The entire “D” drive was untouched! So I bought some colorful stick on letters... and my laptop looked festive! I think some computer company should offer colorful letters as an option. The laptop was fine after that, I just had to replace the letters every couple of weeks. Then, in Vegas, the whole H key decided to escape. Okay, time to replace the laptop... but it didn’t happen in that post-Vegas week, and while I was in the Bay Area for my reunion, the laptop just broke down. It began freezing up. Hey, I can make it through a couple of weeks like this and replace it when I get back to LA, right? Well, after a week of losing work because the damned thing froze up when I was almost finished with something but had not saved it, I realized I’d have to replace the laptop away from home... which lead to another week of pulling out my hair while I was trying to get info from the now almost dead laptop onto the new laptop... but every time I plugged in the migration cable the old laptop would crash. This was going on while I was half-asleep from doing manual labor at my parent’s house... which added to the frustration. Of course, eventually most of it was solved and I now have a new laptop that will probably need to be replaced in 2 years when it still has half of its hard drive untouched. But, as you folks reading this know, when something goes wrong with your computer, it’s a major thing. That computer is *my life*. That seemed to drain any energy I’d managed to save up over my 2 week vacation...

And I didn’t get much done at all while I was in the Bay Area... which means I have to get all of that stuff done now, plus the stuff that’s scheduled to do now, plus the rewrite in the script that was not on the schedule, plus some last minute stuff for the Film Fest, plus...

So I already seem to need another vacation. The batteries seem to take longer to charge and don’t seem to hold a charge as well...

- Bill

My continued attack on UK television's M4M2:
9/3 - 17:30 - Black Thunder - When the world's most powerful stealth jet fighter falls into enemy hands, only one man can get it back. Starring Michael Dudikoff.

7 comments:

ObiDonWan said...

I just watched Flight of Fury, Steven Seagal's ripoff of Bill's Black Thunder script. They even kept my name as one of the characters. How can Seagal get away with this? It casts a shadow on all the other scripts he's performed in.

wcmartell said...

Yes - your character remains in the film! Weird, huh? They kept just about all of the names.

Not quite a rip-off, since I was paid. And I get a microscopic credit at the end.

To me, the worst part of this is that the film sucks so much. Compared it to BLACK THUNDER (which was never one of my favorites) - the story is much dumber and even the action scenes look cheap and crappy... with at least 6 times the budget! Compare the two car chases - I did a blog entry on the BT chase a while back - and the BT chase is a million times better.

You know, BT was a script written to use specific stock footage and a specfific actor who had all kinds on things he wanted in the script. It was not some easy job. The hard part was taking all of those requirements and writing a script that still worked and still was *about something*.

- Bill

Lembit said...

Is this big studio remake "House" (1986)? And the producer is Sean S. Cunningham? I watched this movie about a year ago and it is pretty good.

ObiDonWan said...

I'm glad that at least you got paid for use of your material.

One thing: how in the world did Seagal's "girlfriend" happen to end up in the same location as his assignment? Mere coincidence cannot explain this...

DMasselink said...

I can identify with the "My almost 20 year career has been frustrating." I've worked in post (which is decidedly not "the most"!) since the fading days of optical effects and now into digital ones. I made the transition from photo-chemical to digital. But are the decade(s) of experience worth anything? n* Is the problem-solving ability or the initiative or the skill accumulated worth ...? Less and less. I'm really saddened to see it happening in writing too. We NEED good screenplays and committed and passionate writers.

On a lighter note, I see (slight) humor in your laptop issues. I do think you meant to say "Then, in Vegas, the whole H key decided to elope with the ESCape key." Must have pulled the ! key too often, spent all the $, and ...

Hope you find a new laptop soon. If not, I have an old manual typewriter I could sell you. Barely used these days. Battery is guaranteed to hold a charge for several hours.

James Patrick Joyce said...

Didn't you have serious laptop problems when you went to Raindance, last? Maybe it was a few years ago... maybe when you bought that last one.


And I'm looking forward to reading about your international man-of-mystery tour. I really enjoy your troubles and sufferings, as I do with any protagonist.

Good luck with the VISA. Are you staying at the same place (guy and his mother, if I recall) in China?

The Moviequill said...

computer woes, aye aye aye, you are so right how that one hits below the belt... I replaced my laptop in May

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