I’ve always wanted to be the auteur filmmaker – but I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am just better with a team. I can lead the team as the director, or simply toss in my 2 cents as a co-writer. To me, there is nothing more fun than sitting with someone I really connect with and writing something we both love. I pride myself on my dialogue. I really try to make it honest and real. You want dialogue? I can pretty much nail it for you. Story? I need a co-pilot for certain. I have written a handful of shorts, but my goal has always been to write a feature-length script. One that makes the viewers think. I have plenty of ideas and plenty of characters, but I always seem to write myself into a corner. Maybe it is an easy fix, like developing discipline. One of my mentors in town told me that his writing time is as sacred as office hours at a job. He is a writer and therefore must be at work from 9-5. He will always write – even if what he writes is terrible, he writes. I think there is some genuine wisdom there.
I have been very fortunate to have become friends with so many talented people in Rochester and beyond. One of the promises I make to the Universe is to give back. When I accomplish my goals, I want to help others accomplish theirs. Again, there are people in my life who have done some wonderful things for me and I would absolutely love to be that for someone else.
This is why I believe that Collaboration is King! I can foresee me writing more with Steve Miller as Loose Screw Productions. We joke that we share the same brain. Considering I have been doing pretty well at keeping up with my Daily Blathering posts, I will attempt the next step of making “Writing Office Hours”. It may have to wait until the kids go back to school, but I really believe that kind of discipline can help. Here is a link to some of the best Screenwriting teams.
These guys are my favorite:
How are you disciplined in your profession? I’m interested in your comments, please share them with me below.
Sometimes it takes a real honest person (or a few in my case) to tell you to take your head out of your ass, suck it up and move forward. Each day on my radio show (which I am very thankful to have by the way) I do a segment I call #HappyHeadlines. I read up to 3 stories that are in essence, positive. Sometimes it is a story about someone who had a horrible accident but persevered through it all to come out stronger. Other times it is a story about pure selflessness. I try really hard to find 3 stories, but in today’s world, sometimes I can only do 1. That’s fine with me. The segment used to be the Top Trending stories, but I was sick of the bad stuff: politics, disasters, depressing and negative stories.
Yes, Negative Thoughts Bring Negative Things
It’s not like I don’t know this. It is not like I have never listened to the Think and Grow Rich audiobook (Napoleon Hill, 1937). Thoughts are things for certain. One of my good friends (who I never hang out with but would like to) has accomplished many things in his life. He and I are both video guys – work in related fields for rich people. He kicked me in the pants recently. It was a figurative kick that came in the form of a Facebook message – but it was what I needed to hear. It’s not like my other friends haven’t casually mentioned the same, but when it comes from someone whom you don’t correspond with often, it makes it seem more real, more urgent. He told me that my Blatherings are a stream of negativity and I present myself poorly. I am not delivering the correct version of myself to “the world” via the inter-webs. On the head, the nail was hit.
It is the cold-hard truth. Should I throw in more clichés? No, i shouldn’t – I want to stay positive! But OK, I see the writing on the wall (had to) and from now on, if I cannot deliver positivity via my “blog”, I won’t write. Now, in my pitiful defense, my Blathering Blog was a way for me to force myself to write each and every day – whatever was on my mind. It started out as a public journal. But – it makes sense that if people are going to read this I should make it worth reading.
Smart Friends Rule!
Napoleon Hill mentions a concept called “The Mastermind Group”, which is a group of people who each have their own area of expertise and you maintain relationships with them so you can all help one another out when you run into problems. That’s my simple definition anyway. I have a huge Mastermind Group and I am extremely thankful for that. I am going to start listening and stop blathering. (Except, I’ll still blather here).
I have nothing. I mean, I have a family, a house, a car, a minivan and lots of stuff. I have a few jobs and a whole lotta debt. I want to make a movie. I want to make a bunch of movies, but the first one is almost always the most difficult to get going. I have friends with movie making toys – but that’s how they make their living. So, I am sure I can get a break in price on certain things, but there are other people who work on set that I cannot ask to work for free. Actually, I already have done that and I absolutely hate it. People think making a movie is some kind of glamorous process and it’s just a joy from start to finish. There is some truth in there – but when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, it is work…hard work. Sometimes it’s terribly stressful and agonizing. Many people have compared it to childbirth. I’ve never given birth, but I have witnessed it 3 times and I can kind of see the similarities, though I will not presume to have any idea what childbirth is like. Have I made it clear that I don’t know what giving birth feels like?
It’s my same old jam. “Do you know anyone with money who wants to invest in a movie?” The answer is always, “Hahahah”. Recently I have been trying to put together a shoot for a music video with a very talented young artist who I truly believe in. Again, I have no funding – but I have people who want to help make it happen. The usual conundrum is: Make it look pro without being technically “pro”. Pro means professional, as in paid professionals doing what they do professionally so this production looks professional. Oy veh all day!
All I want to do is create – so why does it have to be a difficult process that revolves around money? Because I cannot shoot what I want with the HD camcorder I have? Because I don’t own any lights? Other grip-related toys? Microphones? I used to, but I sold it. Maybe I should develop some discipline and write my ass off and try to get someone else to make my scripts? That would be cool. Yeah, I’ll do that. Hey Internet, thanks for listening (and not responding)
About 30 minutes before show time he put on his costume. He used to be meticulous about the application of the various oils and pigments. These days, he’s happy if he gets them in the general area. The large red smile has straightened in recent years too, it now resembles a pink banana. He gazed at his reflection in the blackening mirror. Years of humid, dank air and mishandling has caused the silver backing to corrode. He remembered when the mirror was brand new; he remembered when the reflection was clear. One of the perimeter bulbs flickers intermittently and he wonders what Gaspar does all day considering so many things are in disrepair. Gaspar is more of a fixture than a fix-it man. He joined the company when he was 55 and has a fantastic ability to seem busy and over-worked while having done nothing. That was Gaspar.
Finally done with dressing, he walked out into the lounge area where the performers would congregate. Some of the more serious ones would stretch here, drink water, warm up their voices and prepare. He didn’t do this, he gulped some grain alcohol he bought from Gaspar. He wasn’t positive if Gaspar actually distilled the robust liquor or if was obtained elsewhere. Three good belts and he’d be ready. He used to chase it with beer or even a seasonal fruit juice, but that was a lifetime ago. That’s when he really got into learning Esperanto. Another passing fancy, like the Twins he cavorted with after the show. They’re both gone now. ‘Rock bottom’ is the phrase that is always in the back of his mind. He thinks of the Twins and their insatiable desire for Oysters and cold white wine. They had never heard of Hemingway and he chuckled to himself when he thought this. He knew he was not an intellectual, but his friends thought he was smart.
The crowd responded as they always do and this fed him for a while. There is no drug like adrenaline. He chases that dragon twice per day and in the interim is forced to quell his thirst with lesser creatures. This night was different because there was a man in the crowd glaring at him. He knew this man, but was unclear from where. At every point where the crowd would respond as every crowd did, the man was emotionless. The man’s eyes saw through him and it started to become a problem. What did this man want from him? What was he expecting from him? He’s been doing this routine for many years and has always been a crowd pleaser, but the Man was not affected in the least. He imagined that the entire crowd melted away like a Salvador Dali painting, dripping into the cracks of the old wooden stands, revealing this Devil and his cold eyes. Unable to pinpoint his identity, he ignored the Man and carried on.
After the show he made his way back to his faded mirror and the flickering bulb he nicknamed, ‘Gaspar’s Folly’. He wiped away the evening from his face and heard a commotion behind him. Figuring it to be Gaspar with another bottle, he turned. Nothing. He continued to wipe away the oily paint from his face. He thought he would really like another bottle of Gaspar’s harsh liquor.
Gaspar’s Folly finally went out. He tapped it a few times hoping there would be some life left in this antique light source. They all went out and he sighed. He fumbled in the dark for his matches so he could light a candle. Three failed attempts, then finally his little tea light was glowing just enough to reveal a face in the mirror. It was the evil, Devil-Man from earlier. Again, glaring back at him from inside the dark mirror. He remembered this man now, he’d seen him in his dreams. He’d seen him in the mirror, staring back at him with disapproval many times. His revelation was met with a pain he’d never experienced before. A burning in his feet combined with pressure on his chest as if Harvey the Elephant were sitting on it. He blinked a few times and noticed the man smiling. His head fell to the desk extinguishing his candle. His eyes slowly closing, Gaspar’s Folly flickered and came on bright. He was with the Twins now.
The famous story of R.U. Darby’s uncle when he went out West in search of gold was immortalized in Napoleon Hill’s book Think and Grow Rich.Now, I’ve listened to that audio book so many times I cannot recount them. The story is basically about not giving up and if you think you’ve failed, maybe ask an expert for guidance. RU Darby and his uncle stake a claim and get investors to buy the mining equipment. They strike gold and things are going well. Then, the vein stops and they have nothing. They try and try, but no gold. Finally he decides to sell the equipment to a junk man and retreat back East, defeated. The junk man hired a geologist who discovered a fault like and estimated the gold vein was about 3 feet from where Darby was drilling. The junk man followed his advice and struck one of the largest gold deposits of the time. I’ve searched the Inter-webs for a while and cannot find any information on R.U. Darby, his uncle, or the junk man…I only find links to that story in the Hill book.
The above quote hits so close to home right now. The reality it bleak for making this film. I’ve not given up, not at all! But, there have been quite a few developments that have not worked out…folks making promises they shouldn’t have, the overplaying of hands, etc. If I were to give up now, the obvious problem is that we’re probably only (figuratively) 3 feet from getting things moving. We still need to raise $250K somehow. We still need to get a named actor for one of the roles (We had Chris Kattan, but he seems to be MIA – he may still work out). It’s just a real pain in the aspiration when I see other people making movies in town. I see them doing what I want to do and cannot for the life of me figure out what we’re doing wrong. Perhaps I am just being impatient. At this point, I just need to fool myself into believing that everything is going just according to plan. Wish me luck.
I watched Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris (2011) this morning, It’s a romantic comedy, but is well written and it tapped into my love of literature, art and history (and time travel). These days, people ‘poo-poo’ the Liberal Arts, but I can never get enough. OK, well, I say that yet I have not read a book in a while (probably a few years). I don’t visit the Memorial Art Gallery or Artisan Works….but I want to and I should.
Owen Wilson plays a writer who is visiting Paris with his entitled fiance played by the lovely Rachel McAdams. He ends up walking alone through the streets of Paris. He gets lost and stops to collect his thoughts. An old 1920’s era car tools up and some raucous Parisians invite him to get in. They are dressed in 1920’s apparel and drinking Champagne, smoking copiously and being well, raucous! He ends up meeting Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald (one reason why I loved this movie – Scott’s my boy), he ends up meeting a tough and opinionated, BUT HONEST Ernest Hemmingway, and others. Very remeniscent of Somewhere in Time (1980) starring Christopher Reeve. I am really jealous of these characters – because I want to do that! I want to go back in time and meet my heroes.
But, When Would I Go?
The classic time travel question: When in the hell are we? I have often thought of this and I cannot really decide on an answer. Considering it will never happen, I can dawdle and not commit to a specific era. Initially, I think about my own personal past and how I could maybe go back and visit my younger self. I don’t think I would alter my choices, but maybe I would try to set a few things in motion. Maybe buy a load of gold and bury it somewhere I know will not be disturbed until I get back to my present so I can open my new present. Quantum Physicists can poke a million holes in that plot I’m sure.
No, really. Where and When Would I Go?
There are so many places and time periods I would like to visit. I would love to witness some iconic speeches (FDR, MLK, JFK). Maybe solve some of the mysteries that haunt our society. Like the movie, I would want to party with the rabble rousers of the 1920’s. I really feel like I could hang with those cats. I don’t measure up mentally by a long shot, but I think I would get along with them and match their joie de vivre. I would not get along with Hemingway so much I don’t think. His ‘grace under pressure’ and general heroic themes are beyond my ken. But I don’t know for certain – maybe I’d like him.
I’d like to visit Shakespeare, just to see what really happened. But that’s too far back and I would get the plague or be burned at the stake for being a witch.
I’d like to witness the founding of this country. Thankfully the good stuff happened in the summer, because I don’t think I could deal with an outhouse in the winter.
I’d like to visit the days of the Civil War, but then again I wouldn’t (for obvious reasons). Plus, outhouses.
I would like to find Andrew Carnegie as a young man and just hang out with him. Try to learn from him. But life was tough back then and I could maybe get the flu and die. Plus, rampant pollution – some outhouses. Oh and exposed electrical wires and Edison electrocuting an Elephant.
I already mentioned the 20’s – but I forgot to mention I would have liked to have been in Hollywood from about 1919 to maybe 1928.
Skipping the Great Depression, because unless you are a pure historian, who would want to witness that. Maybe visit my relatives and see how they did things back then.
I’ve been fascinated with the 1940’s my entire life. “The Greatest Generation” and WWII have captured my imagination in movies since I can remember. I know it was not all ” doughnuts and USO dances”, but there is still something magical about the time period. But for the same reason me and Papa would not have jived, I’m not sure I have the courage to face almost certain death in battle, or endure years of a POW camp. What people endured during that time period boggles my soul.
There are pieces of the 50’s-60’s I would like to witness, which I alluded to earlier in this bathering. A lot of what I would want to experience are again in Hollywood. (I’m a sucker for Hollywood history).
OK, So I cannot Decide
There are many pluses and minuses to when and where I would want to visit. I find that my sensibilities contain a hodgepodge of them all. I credit with some of my wonderful humanities teachers and professors of my past.
I’m not as talented or versatile as Jimmy Buffett, but his song “School Boy Heart” is right in line with how I see myself.
“School Boy Heart”
I got a school boy heart, a novelist eye
Stout sailor’s legs and a license to fly
I came with nomad feet and some wandering toes
That walk up my long board and hang off the nose
The need to focus never arose
So something like a Swiss army knife
That’s my life
Frankenstein had nothing on this body of mine
The villagers still flockin’ to see, to see me
Breaking free, breaking free
Cause I got a school boy heart, a novelist eye
Stout sailor’s legs and a license to fly
I got a bartender’s ear and beachcomber’s style
Piratical nerve and a Vaudevillian style
I suspect I died in some cosmic shipwreck
With all hands spread all over the deck
What the heck
Then some kind of obscene and unscrupulous mind
Began to pick up what he could find
Added ice, shook me twice, rolled the dice
Now I got a school boy heart, a novelist eye
A sailor’s legs and a license to fly
I got a native tongue from way down south
It sits in the cheek of my gulf coastal mouth
I got a school boy heart, a novelist eye
Stout sailor’s legs and a license to fly
I came with nomad feet and some wandering toes
That glide up my longboard and hang off the nose
I know, my life is surrounded by music. I do radio in the morning and when I am doing things around the house I jam to Zac Brown Band or my favorite Reggae station on Pandora. But I really miss playing music. There was a time in my life when I went to band practice in a cool warehouse and we ran through our 45 minute set of originals 3 times, three times per week. We were tight. The guitars were heavy, the bass melodic, the percussion insane. We were a ‘musician’s band’. People used to come see us just to watch Denny Greco play the drums and to listen to all of our odd time signatures and changes. We dressed in bowling shirts, or all in red, or all in purple. We had super 8mm film projectors playing strange things, upside down lamps, a typing marionette that was beat to death with a golf club by Brian, the frontman. We were Phonetic Plumbing and it was 1994. Marilyn Manson was getting signed by Trent Reznor and Interscope/Nothing records and they had a signing show at the Plus Five Lounge in Davie, FL. The who’s who of the South Florida music scene was in attendance. I can’t remember who they were now, but back then I knew all of their faces, names and their music.
It was the height of the Seattle grunge scene and we were kind of on the outer fringe of that type of music – at first. Then we skewed even further out of that realm into something that was pretty crazy. My musical style was more blues and southern rock than the rest of the group, but I could chime in with a decent mix of the styles so it all worked out. We never did anything with our music. Honestly, there is so much I cannot remember from those days and it has nothing to do with drugs or drinking. We experimented with stuff, but we were serious about our goals and getting into real drugs was never on the menu. We did some cool stuff that, at the very least, was fun to listen to when we were all together – but nobody really cared when it came down to it. Our music had a niche audience that we never were able to reach. Common tale for many a band since bands were invented.
We got some music on the local radio – The Local Show – on 88.5 WKPX, which was Piper High School’s radio station. It was cool to hear our song on the radio. We’d try to request it as much as we could and make the list of most requested. In my previous band “Wood” we got to number one once, I think. I don’t remember that too much either. I do remember that we had to fire our bass player from that band. He was a good guy and was studying law. He was married with a young baby and of course the band was just a hobby, even if he shared our collective dream of getting signed. When we started to write more complicated music, he had a tough time keeping up. He was never a solid bass player when it came to keeping time, which is kind of important in the rhythm section. So I was elected to tell Mitch he was no longer in the band. I cried afterwards because that’s the kind of guy I am.
One day our frontman decided we should move to San Francisco. I wasn’t about to move to San Francisco. Such began a quick decline in the band’s future and overall relationships. Most of us have remained friends over the years and thanks to Facebook, still keep in relative touch. I miss playing music though. It was such a wonderful high and really got me through some tough times. I started playing A LOT of guitar when my life changed drastically when I was 18 and for years after, my guitar was an extension of myself. These days, that part of myself spends countless hours in my basement. That is a shame and I want to pick up the axe again and play. It has been so long that it is actually frustrating to play now.
It all started with a tuna sandwich and an unsweetened iced tea. Henry left his lunch on the picnic table outside in the office courtyard, he forgot his smokes at his desk and there was no way in Hell he was going to miss his after-lunch Marlboro. Henry lives for his simple pleasures: smokes, cocktails and sneaking in the supply closet with Lacy, the Boss’s Executive Assistant. Henry plays a little loose with his morals. “It’s fine,” he thinks to himself. “Twenty years as a Catholic will do that to ya.”
When he returned to the bench he was surprised to see a fox eating his lunch. “Get outta here dog!”, Henry shooed. Instead of fleeing into the safety of the nearby wood, the fox turned his sleek face and glared at Henry. “I’m not a dog, you ape!” Henry froze in fear and wonder. The fox maintained his eye contact as he continued to chew the tuna sandwich. “What’s the matter? Haven’t you ever had a conversation with a wild animal before?”, the fox confidently asked. “Um, not since college.”, Henry stammered. The fox laughed, pieces of tuna fell from his mouth onto the ground. He jumped down and quickly lapped up the tuna chunks. He reached out his front paws and dipped low, stretching his back. He shook his head quickly, licked around his mouth and with the grace of a cat, jumped up on the table to resume his meal. Henry just stared at the fox, internally questioning his own sanity. With his back to Henry, the fox continued, “So, you did a lot of drugs in college? Is that what you meant?” Henry widened his eyes and shook his head as though he just snapped out of a trance. “What? Yeah, um Yes.”, he was incredulous. “I mean no! I didn’t do drugs but that was what I meant.”, said Henry. The fox just grunted and sniffed the iced tea bottle.
“Hey. Wait, what’s your name anyway? My name is Lewis.”, the fox said, sitting back on his haunches. Henry blinked a few times, “Henry. Henry Jones.”, he said with a weak and cracking voice. “Oh, please say Junior, that would be too much for me to handle!”, the fox guffawed. “What?” Henry was getting angry. “Like Indiana Jones! Henry Jones Junior!”, the fox cackled, doing his finest Sean Connery impersonation. “You can talk AND you’re well-versed in 80’s pop culture?”, Henry yelled. The fox nudged the bottle of tea with his nose. “Hey Doctor Jones, can you open this tea for me, I don’t have any thumbs.” Henry cautiously glided over to the table, avoiding the chunks of sandwich the fox dropped on the ground. Henry opened the tea and slowly placed it on the table. With this right paw, the fox knocked over the bottle, the tea emptied out on the table, splashing between the planks onto the ground. The fox quickly lapped up the tea, his paws shook the wetness off instinctively while the tea continued to gurgle out of the bottle. Henry snapped up the bottle and twisted the cap back on. The fox looked at him with excitement, licking his paws and around his mouth. His head snapped back and forth from the tea on the table to Henry with the bottle. “Why did you do that?”, Henry protested. “What? Knock over the bottle to lap up the tea? I’m a fox, how the hell else would I do it? No thumbs, remember?”, the fox replied. “Well, you could have asked me to get you a bowl or something. More than half went to waste when it spilled on the ground.” Henry looked down and noticed the bread crusts from the sandwich. “I also find it interesting that you didn’t eat the crusts.” “Yeah, I don’t like the crust. Since I was a kit I’ve hated the crusts.”, the fox chortled. “So, who made you sandwiches when you were a kit?”, Henry asked. “Again, must I remind you that I am not a raccoon, so I don’t have need little hands.” quipped the fox. ” I’m a scavenger and a thief. I’ve been stealing food. I don’t like to kill for my meals.” He started licking his paws and then moved onto other parts of his body. Henry looked away uncomfortably. “Do you have to do that in front of me?” Henry whined. “Oh, my bad…” chuckled the fox, “…sometimes I forget my manners. The fox took his snout out from between his legs and started licking his paws again.
Henry stared in silent wonder at the fox as he cleaned his crimson fur. He could not believe that he had spent the last few minutes speaking with a wild animal. “So, you don’t kill?” Henry asked. “Nope. A buddy of mine still does and I hate it, but he’s a little closer to the wild than I am.” “Can he talk?” The fox sneezed, then yawned. “He can talk, but he chooses not to. That’s true with most animals.” Henry crinkled his brows and pushed his chin back into his neck. “Really? All animals can talk?” The fox sat back and scratched his ear with his hind leg. “Oh that’s better. Goddamn fleas. Most animals…For example, cats cannot talk. Well, they probably can, but those pompous assholes choose not to.” Henry laughed, “I hate cats too, that’s funny.”
The fox jumped down off the table and did his normal stretch. He trotted up next to Henry and sat down like a dog expecting a treat from his master. Henry went to pat him on the head, but the fox growled and snapped at his fingers. Henry pulled them back quickly and shouted, “Hey, what the hell?” “Henry, when you make a new human friend, what do you do?”, the fox asked in a monotone. “What?”, Henry gasped. The fox started scratching again as he attempted to clarify his question. “Would you pat your new friend on the head or would you shake his hand? People need to realize that when you pat us on the head it is really demeaning…and don’t give me the dog argument, because dogs don’t count. They’re brain-washed. Sorry do-mes-ti-cated. Little fools that live for that shit…petting and whatnot. Animals in the wild want a little more out of life than the excitement of hanging our heads out of the window of your SUV on the way to some manicured dog park.” Henry nodded his head, signaling that he understood the fox’s etiquette lesson.
Henry crouched down to the fox’s level and extended his hand, all the while making strong and sincere eye contact with the fox. “It was a real pleasure to meet you, sir. I hope you enjoyed my lunch and I would be honored if we could meet again sometime and discuss any topic that interests you.”, he said. The fox raised his paw and allowed Henry to take it in his hand. They shook. The fox then scurried off into the wood. Henry cleaned up the remains of the lunch he never got to eat. He lit his cigarette, sat down on the bench and smoked.
We’ve raised Zero dollars to produce #BottomFeeders
Yes, that is correct. However, we are not properly plugged into any kind of network that would have an opportunity to raise funds. I do know that my pursuit for investors has clearly outlined which people in my life believe in my goals and which ones see what I do as a fairy-tale waste of time. That’s quite alright in my book. I won’t hold a grudge, but I will also not smile and hug when things go well. I will not allow them to congratulate me and tell me they knew I could do it, because they really couldn’t care less.
So, What’s Next?
We are going to reschedule this production for next year. June/July of 2018. We will be mapping out our strategy and tackling it after the coming of the New Year. It will include crowdfunding and networking with people who have the means or connections to invest in a hilarious indie feature with a wonderfully talented cast. We have some other ideas up our sleeves that we will roll out soon enough.