Archive for November, 2009


Asking for one of these for Christmas

I’ve been very busy recently. I am in the process of re-writing “Trailer: The Movie” – the full length film. This time last year, Adam and I were writing it for the first time. I’m doing the re-writing alone, with his permission, and boy-oh-boy. It’s interesting to read over the storyline for the feature now. It doesn’t really make sense and has a pretty limited scope. So my task from now until probably about January is expanding it to include more media entities. The internet, tabloid journalism, on-set visits, and DVD special features (I am toying with the idea of including a section in the film that is the DVD commentary for one of the films-within-the-film, which itself would make for an interesting moment on the DVD commentary for the film itself (should it ever be made)).

I went just yesterday to Booked Talent, a call-in service for extras. It was interesting. When I went to Central Casting to sign up for extras work (you have to do both), it was like a prison camp. Barking orders, 100 people crowded in elbow-to-elbow, very specific instructions and all sorts of lines to stand in. Today, there were 6 of us. It was laid back, very informal and helpful. I guess with only a few people per day, you can afford to be casual, but it was a welcome change. I had to bring 4 different outfits – business, business casual, athletic (basketball), and normal 20-something clothes. I am available for work as early as Friday, so who knows, you could glimpse me in the background of your favorite TV shows. I won’t be speaking, but that won’t stop me from chewing the scenery all I can.

I’ve been doing a lot of work for It’s Just Movies and also wrote a blog about writing for Tyler’s podcast blog, More Than One Lesson. He was nominated for a Podcast Award for that show, after only a handful of episodes. It’s a huge boost for him. Some day I’ll be on there, talking about who knows what? Until then, you can hear me on another great podcast – Barely Literate. I was on there in January talking about “Shampoo Planet” which wasn’t any good. This time, we discussed David Foster Wallace’s first novel, The Broom of the System which I liked more and more as I looked it over in preparation. I also came across a great piece of prose from one of Wallace’s essays. Here, describing the food at a state fair:

The corn dog tastes strongly of soybean oil, which itself tastes like corn oil that’s been strained through an old gyn towel.

His descriptions are some of my favorites ever. Infinite Jest is currently in the running for one of my favorite books of all time.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Aside from that, it’s Thanksgiving week! Tomorrow, I’ve got two to go to (one for my Gram on my Mom’s side, one for 25 of us from the two churches that comprise our small groups). Then, Saturday I drive down to Port Huneme and the house my Dad grew up in to have Thanksgiving with everyone on that side of the family. My fridge will be filled with leftovers to last til Christmas. I’m startled how excited I am for all of this. I’m used to spending the holidays with just my parents and siblings. This year, I won’t see them for either, but I’m spending time with everyone in both sides of extended family. It will be very interesting, and I’m looking forward to writing about it all.

Until next week, take care, hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving!


Productivity as Procrastination

I’ve been looking today at various adapters and lenses for my Panasonic film camera, and I am overwhelmed. More and more and more, I regret not taking some film courses in college. I was focused on writing, but boy it would’ve helped.

TroubleOh, there are a thousand things I need to do. I want to upgrade the look of the films I make. My camera is okay and with lighting, it looks really nice. There is an adapter I can get, though, that would allow me to use film lenses on my camera. It essentially upgrades the look to film, even though  my camera isn’t even HD. Of course, I would need to buy the adapter and then however many lenses I wanted and all sorts of other little add-ons. The cost adds up fast and faster. What I need is someone to help me figure out what exactly I need and why exactly I need it. Someone who knows the language.

On the other hand, I need to do some writing. But what writing? I’m not going to film a feature on the camera I have; not even, I don’t think, if I had the adapter/lenses/whatever. So now then what’s the point of buying it? Is it still worth it? It is if I make a great looking short film that gets people to notice my work and allows me to pitch a feature which gets financed.

But again what writing? I’ve written one short since I moved here, and we’re going to look at filming it in the next couple months. I doubt before the end of the year, just because of people’s schedules and such. No, not before the end of the year. I have a few other short ideas to write, and they’re good because I can make them. It’s smart to write what you can do.  On the other hand, I need to clean-up some things in the feature-length version of “Trailer: The Movie,” which will probably only take a week or two. But who wants to polish a script when they could be writing their exciting new brand new more interesting NEW NEW NEW script? And even so, I need to write another feature, because I’m not pleased with either of the other two I’ve written. And I have ideas, but am I ready to jump into them? Have they marinated in my head and in the snippets they take up from my notebook yet? Dangerous to pluck an idea too early and waste it.

And on this Sunday night, I have two scripts open in front of me but only an hour before I’m off to a concert tonight, and I like to have an open space before me while I write, not constraint. Also I’m looking forward to the concert (The Mountain Goats, check out their great video above), and who can write when they’re anxious about something else? And so now here but also ahem you see of course it’s perfectly understandable don’t push me I’ll get to it when I get to it perhaps then my excuse is to write a little blog here instead of doing some screenplay work. It worked today. But tomorrow, really, I must get some writing done. And maybe keep looking at adapters and lenses. Much to do.


Let’s Go to Work

On July 16th, 2009 – a Thursday – I went into my office and, in a conference room with my boss, explained that I was quitting my job as an insurance claims adjuster.

Since then I’ve been crushed, finished a movie, and moved 2000 miles west to Los Angeles. In that order. I looked for insurance jobs for a while, had a few phone interviews, went in and took some tests with a company about two minutes from my Grandma’s house. I did very well on the test, had a solid interview and was told two weeks later that I wouldn’t be getting another interview. I was annoyed for a time, but they made the right choice. I didn’t move here to work insurance claims. I moved here to make movies.

I’ve signed up for extras work but haven’t signed up for a call-in service, and it turns out you need both. That’s on the agenda for this week, too. I had been out of work for almost four months – longer than any time since I graduated – and I was getting restless. I’ve been writing a lot, but that is so solitary, and I wanted something that actually paid real, American dollars.

Sunday night out of the blue, my friend Josh told me they needed PA help on a set he was working and did I want to go? It’s amazing how quickly you turn on yourself. My first thought was, “But that’ll take all day. I won’t have a mountain of free time to waste in various ways.” I said yes, though, and it’s turned into 3 days of work and who knows how many more?

That might be the EXACT costume, in factThe set is for a movie called, and I wish I were kidding, “The Alice in Wonderland Murders,” in which a group of sorority sisters go to a party in an abandoned warehouse dressed as slutty versions of characters from “Alice in Wonderland.” That’s the movie. It is feature-length and is being shot in about 6 or 7 days total. It has both a budget and guaranteed DVD distribution. During the film, one of the girls offers to rig a door to electrocute anyone who touches the doorknob. “Looks like that engineering degree will come in handy, after all,” the “Slutty Queen of Hearts” tells her.

No, the movie isn’t going to be good, but no one seems to have any delusions about that. At lunch yesterday, the director said, “They’re much less picky about things in Malaysia.”

It feels good to be working again, though. Josh and I set-up the lighting for each scene and I hold the boom-mic for the scenes, and as idiotic as the whole thing is, I’m having a lot of fun. I’ve never really done lighting before, either, so it feels good to know that I can. The set is really laid-back (how could it possibly not be?), which is a much better environment for learning tech stuff than something official and huge and high-stress.

Not QUITE that complicatedI didn’t realize how much I missed being on a film-set. We finished shooting “Trailer: The Movie” in June. I loved being on that set. I loved waking up early and working 12-hour days, going home and feeling dead-tired. I loved the weekly production meetings. I loved getting emails from the Assistant Director at 6am almost every morning during the week with questions and suggestions and conflicts. And there is nothing like directing a scene. When you set up a shot and get that perfect take and you know in your head how it’s all going to fit together even if no one else quite knows what in the hell you’re talking about.

We did a dolly shot yesterday, and even though I just held the boom, I felt proud of it. It’s one of the few interesting scenes in the film, probably the best acting I’ve seen there, and as we talked through it, the director decided not to get coverage for it and just use the wide dolly shot. To me, that’s cause for celebration. Afterwards, I felt energized, and I got the smallest flitter of that feeling that is the reason people make movies. Because even on a set as supremely ludicrous as this set, there is still the potential for something interesting and artistic and good.

Trailer: The Movie – the Trailer

Finally, and at long last…

Here is the first trailer for “Trailer: The Movie.” The temporary score is “Crawl,” by Kings of Leon. Please send comments and let us know what you think of it.

I put it together over the last week or so, choosing the one style of trailer we didn’t exploit in the film itself – the all-music trailer. Adam provided creative input and general notes during the process.

For those who don’t know, the film has been submitted to numerous film festivals. As of now, we’ve not heard back one way or another. We’re hopeful, while also realizing that a 45 minute “short” might not work with some festivals’ programs.

Find out more about the film, including updates about film festivals, bios, and production diaries at

It Has Come to This

November 2009
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