Friday, June 29, 2007

Responsibility catches up with Emily

Man, I was so busy today I almost forgot to post something. That would have been disastrous.

Today was the last day of school for the 2006 - 2007 school year. I cleaned up the room, graded papers, turned in my yearbook money and babysat the handful of kids who decided to show up.

Then I took all my stuff upstairs to another classroom and moved desks around to prepare for the first day of the 2007 - 2008 school year which starts Monday.

Welcome to year-round education.

I was going to head out to Rage this evening because I know the guy at the door and I have a new top, but I'm not done with grades so there is no time to pick up gay men or lesbians tonight. I must read about 100 essays and score them by midnight.

In between I'll do some laundry and watch Footballers Wives, which is hands down the best soap opera ever. It would take me three hours to explain all the different plots and schemes going on there. Just know this: If you plan to trick a man into leaving his Indian-English wife for you by swapping babies with her right after you both go into labor, don't leave the bottle of self tanner lying around the nursery.

I digress.

Actually I'm not sure what point I was trying to make in the first place.

I really wish I hadn't procrastinated on essay grading by writing all those posts and looking for cat pictures.

I need quarters.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Emily's one day film school

Today is one of my favorite teaching days. The semester is over tomorrow and grades are due today so a lot of the kids stay home.

It's too small a class to do a real lesson so I do Emily's one day film school.

I show the opening scene of X-Men 2 as an example of a perfect way to set the tone of a story with an inciting incident. Then I show the scene in Hero when the characters fight in red and orange to save the calligraphy school. I use that scene to talk about cinematography and theme and how the visuals and the story match if you know what you're doing.

Then I show a chapter from Genndy Tartakovsky's Clone Wars. It's a scene where Mace Windu fights a big ship full of enemies and it has almost no dialogue. The lesson there is that sometimes you don't need words to make your point.

Next is part of "The Body" episode of Buffy. The scene where she first finds her mother dead is filled with good stuff to study. I picked up a lot of cool devices by listening to Joss Whedon's commentary and I share it with the kids.

Next up, the scene from Crash where the Muslim guy shoots at the Latino guy. It's a brief scene, but I use it to talk about how to build tension and jerk at one's heart strings.

Then I throw in Chicago and show the "Cell Block Tango". It's good for character development and tone. Plus they really like it and that song is catchy. And I win guys over to thinking maybe musicals aren't that bad when you get a bunch of skinny hot women in prison singing about their various murderous acts.

And if I have time I add the scene from American Beauty when Lester tries to talk to Janie. It's a nicely framed shot, but it also does and excellent job of establishing the strain in the father / daughter relationship.

Of course, all the kids do is complain that I won't just show them Saw II like other teachers.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I think I teach Charlie Brown

It's essay grading time again. These essays are about George Orwell's Animal Farm.

I would like to add that the kids were little terds today and put me in the foulest mood ever right before I graded these essays. Smart, kids. Real smart.

I didn't have that many crazy quotes this time, but here's a good one:

"For example he made the animals work while he ate his butt out."

Oh look. Two identical papers from the same class. And I do mean IDENTICAL. They must think I am the world's biggest idiot. Both are getting zeroes until they confess to me which one wrote it even though I already know which one wrote it. Boy did they pick the wrong day to plagiarize.

"This book is cool. I know that I didn't pay much attention but I hope many people love this book. Like Ms. Blake she has readed this book alot of time alright."

Oh wow. Here's a kid who planned her essay and wrote a rough draft and typed it and ran spell check and everything. She's too good for this group. She gets a 100. Her essay actually proves something.

I'm feeling better.

"Influenced by the Trotskyist and anarchist critiques of the Soviet Regime, and by the anarchist's emphasis in independent freedom, Orwell is a socialist."

I was kind of filled with tears of joy for a minute, then I googled it and found out that was a quote from an Orwell biography. Now I'm filled with plain old tears.

In a class of 28 students, I have 16 Zeroes.

I'm not kidding.

Some days I feel like my presence here is completely unecessary.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Emily's Top Ten

The other day in my class I mentioned a film as being my favorite of all time and my kids were like, "But I thought you said that other movie was your favorite of all time."

Oh. Oh I guess I did.

It's hard to choose one out of so many good ones.

So I'm going to list my top ten in no particular order. If I were stranded on a desert island with DVD player and 10 movies of my choosing - because, you know, that could easily happen - these are the films I'd choose, arranged only in the order in which they occur to me. And don't give me any crap about old movies, either. I happen to prefer films made after 1990. Sue me.

1) William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet
I've seen this over two dozen times because I teach it every semester, usually twice. I know almost every line word for word and I never get tired of it. Baz Luhrman managed to capture the energy and tragedy of the original story in a contemporary package. Shakespeare would have loved it. I still cry at the end.

2) The Matrix
Come on, who doesn't love the first Matrix film? You spend half the movie dying to know what's going on and when you find out it kind of blows your mind. The fight scenes are incredible, but most importantly it's more than just eye candy. It's about something. When I came out of the theater the first time I saw this film I was excited and couldn't stop discussing the issues at hand. I still feel that way when I watch it, as long as I put the other two in the back of my mind.

3) Hero
The most beautiful film I've ever seen. I spent my entire time in the theater with jaw hanging open. It's a Chinese martial arts film supposedly about a hero who wants to kill the emperor. But it's not really about Jet Li's character. This is a love story told three ways and each way is separated by color and style. And as we get to the truth the style gets less and less mystical and more grounded. And in each story there is sacrifice as we also get closer and closer to what it means to love someone. As each story unfolded I cried again, this time for a different reason. And I still cry when I watch it, after I close my mouth in awe of the cinematography.

4) Pitch Black
Pay no attention to that crappy sequel, this film is genius. I'm not usually a fan of horror but this is a story about much more than monsters that eat people in the dark. This is about our own dark impulses and what makes someone a "good person". Would you be willing to die for complete strangers? Who's life is more valuable in the scheme of things? It asks multiple ethical questions it doesn't necessarily answer one way or the other. And Vin Diesel owns the screen. This is one of the few films I own that I enjoy throwing on late at night and watching just for the hell of it.

5) Garden State
Zach Braff is the king of stories about those of us who didn't exactly fall in line with society's plan. This movie is about people who are all waiting for their lives to start and they're doing it in Jersey. Natalie Portman is adorable and Peter Sarsgaard is a tragic yet honest representation of what we all fear becoming. It's an incredibly simple story told with subtlety as Zach's character begins to wake up and learn how to live. Its speaks to me.

6) X-Men 2 (X-Men United)
When the bad guys break into the house and start abducting adolescent mutants Wolverine goes on a crazy badass rampage you can't help but get excited about. Magneto rips a guy's blood out through his pores. Rogue uses her power for something positive. Explosions ensue. And the scene where Nightcrawler breaks into the Oval Office is one of the best opening scenes in the history of the action pic. But most importantly, the film carries the major theme of the comic - good and evil is not always easy to identify, and we can't change the nature of who we are but we can choose to do the right thing.

7) The Paper
This movie made me want to be a journalist. I know almost every line of dialogue by heart and I quote this film liberally on a daily basis. I love the fast-paced comedy, the constant sense of time pressure that is the most fun part about working for a newspaper. And I absolutely adore Michael Keaton in everything, but especially this. I used referenced The Paper in an essay I wrote that won me a journalism scholarship in college. Unfortunately, working at a small town North Carolina newspaper with Brownie Futrell is not the same as working for the New York Sun with Randy Quaid and Rovert Duvall.

8) Reservoir Dogs
A handful of adrenaline-driven criminals trapped in a warehouse with secrets and fear. What could be better? I love stories that are confined to one location and a short period of time - which will hopefully get me known as the writer to call when you need to make a big idea look good on the cheap. If they had used unknown actors in this film in could have been made for about $10, but then it might not have been so genius. I love stories that make me cry for the bad guy, and I cream my pants for a story where somebody dies in a wave of tragic irony. Reservoir Dogs has it all.

9) Star Wars episode IV, a New Hope
Perfect story structure, a perfect example of the old hero's journey, good comedy, good action and a side trip from the perspective of minor characters. Plus a hot chick who manages to kick major ass while busting out clever one-liners without the support of a bra. And my favorite line ever put on film: "Travelling through hyper-space ain't like dusting crops, boy." We'd all do well to remember that.

10) Office Space
There are probably more quotable lines in this film than any other in existence and they never get old. I think this film may have even saved my life. Back when I was working in a miserable cubicle at that small town NC paper I saw this movie for the first time and it was like a smack in the face. I was Peter. I knew I had to get out of there, and fast. So I quit and became a teacher until I figured out what I did want to be. It turns out I want to be a screenwriter. If I'd never seen that Mike Judge classic I might still be taking two hour lunches and napping in front of my computer screen with my hair obscuring my face so it looks like I'm checking the AP wire.

Honorable Mentions: Galaxy Quest, The Emperor's New Groove, Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?, Osama.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Stay away from my phobia

If you've been reading a while you may know about my coulrophobia, also known as "irrational" fear of clowns. Frankly I find my fear quite rational.

They're evil and cannot be trusted and if I ever see one in my path I will run it over with my car and shoot it with a shotgun for good measure and not even feel remotely bad about it because they are Devil spawn. Then they won't be flashing that evil fake smile anymore when it's plastered into the pavement.

Fuck a clown, is my point.

So I'm watching the most recent episode of The 4400 just now. It's pretty clear somebody's manifesting fears on people. So this guy comes running down the sidewalk away from something that has him terrified and I'm thinking, "Oh, man. I couldn't handle that if I was chased by a clown with a knife."

And then the guy turns around and it's a mass of evil clowns trying to kill him.

Jesus Christ, 4400 writers, that shit is not funny. That should come with a damn warning label.

I'm going to hide in my closet until my daymares go away and my hands stop shaking long enough to put my heart back into my chest.

Writing Partner is starting to scare me with his obsession. He keeps emailing me in the middle of the day to tell me we need to fix a scene in Game Night or add new details to Bamboo Killers.
So today I told him to stop it.

Take two weeks. Don't read it, don't think about it, don't breathe near it.

Then read it again and call me. Then we'll talk. But in the meantime I just want to chill out and celebrate and enjoy this picture which has nothing to do with anything.

Then I have to start working on my Heroes spec.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

TV to grade papers to

Today Maggie brought me on her lot for a sale of old props. I bought lots of cool stuff, including some items I can use for set decoration for Game Night. I paid $35 for like a dozen different items. It's cool knowing the top I'm planning to wear to the club Friday night was worn by somebody in some movie some time. I also got kicky new boots and a purse, and a sign I want to put up in my classroom that says "No Smoking in the library, only in the yard. A message from the Templeton County Correctional Facility."

I came home to the less glamorous job of grading papers. Grading papers is every teacher's least favorite task. It's this giant stack of essays you know are going to be kind of dull and filled with too many grammatical errors to correct and obvious disregard for everything you've been teaching them for the past two weeks.

So to help keep me from pulling my hair out I grade the papers in front of the TV. I put on something I don't have to pay attention to, but can still be entertained by when I need a break from the student who continually spells the word "since" as "science". Today I watched Mo'Nique's Charm School.

That show is good, man. Those girls are seriously messed up.

Then I watched Traveller. Traveller, for those of you who haven't paid attention, is a new show on ABC about two recent college graduates on the run from a crime they didn't commit, caught up in the middle of a government conspiracy they have to investigate to clear their names.

Sound familiar?

I can't figure out why it's so boring. Why do I love Wentworth Miller so much and care about Michael Scoffeild, yet every time I watch this show - and I've seen every episode because I'm convinced I have to - I find myself drifting to sleep or running off to do work or checking emails. And I'm not sure why. Why do the same things that I like so much about Prison Break not engage me here?

The best I can figure it's because I don't feel very attached to the characters. Michael Scoffeild is willing to do anything to save his brother and very often makes things worse in the process. And his brother feels the same way. But I don't feel the dedication between the two leads on this show. They almost seem like they annoy each other all the time. And nobody gets backstory until it's necessary for the moment, so it seems like they're making up a history as they go along. Or maybe all that's just fine and they simply miscast their leads.

I'm not sure how the show's doing in the ratings, but it does keep coming back each week. It's probably because people like watching that kid from X-Men and the awesome Neal McDonough. Or maybe they're like me and want to see if it turns into the off-season Prison Break any day now.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

How to save The Lot

On the Lot is barely hanging on.

The ratings for the show are abysmal, but there are ways to save it if the producers would stop thinking like executives and start thinking like the majority of the American public. All they do each week is show short films you could also see online without commercials or judges.

Are you listening, Mark Burnett and Steven Spielberg?

Most people do not care about short films unless they contain celebrities. So first things first, bring in guest actors who are of some small notoriety, actors who have made a healthy career in television or small film roles.

Or how about a one-on-one meeting with the guest judge, the way American Idol does it? A talented director sits down with each of the contestants and gives them advice on technique. To go with that idea you could have little snippets of educational stuff each week. Like, what is a focus pull or how did this one director in this particular film achieve this particular look. Everybody loves to know how things work.

People also love behind the scenes stuff, especially if it's filled with turmoil. Show us casting sessions, fights on set, outtakes, anything that lets us understand the process. I mean, the show's called "On the Lot". Shouldn't they occasionally show the directors on the damn lot?

One thing that makes America's Next Top Model and American Idol successful even after the audition stage is the challenges. Each week contestants are giving some zany task and we all want to tune in to see how they handle the pressure. But On the Lot just tells the contestants, go make a movie.

How boring is that? In the beginning it looked like they were going to do weekly challenges when they started with a pitch competition and then made the film makers split a short three ways with assigned locations and actors. They gave us behind the scenes glimpses and a chance to think about what we would have done had we been given this assignment. Then the show deteriorated into a weekly showcase of so-so short films.

And judges, be consistent in the criticism. They gave Marty, my personal favorite of the film makers, a hard time for "failing to tell a story" because his main characters didn't have names and praised Kenny for making what amounted to a self-indulgent music video. And vomit is okay but pee isn't, and farting is okay when a man does it but not when a woman does it. And Gary Marshall continues to act like he's really rooting for a woman to come in second.

Somebody put me in charge of this show please. I'll fix it.

Friday, June 22, 2007

All these things that I've done

So clearly my pictures are getting less and less relevant and more involved in cats. Just pretend you don't notice and enjoy them. Maybe that should be my gimmick from now on. Lolcats on every post. I'm getting there.

Bamboo Killers is all done. If only Writing Partner didn't live like ninety states away, we could go out for a beer and celebrate.

This is the first time in a while I've finished something. I've got a bunch of projects almost done in need of a thorough going over, but this I feel is completely ready to go.

Until something else comes up, anyway. Because nothing's ever really finished, is it?

But right now if I had to present a script to anybody, anywhere, I'd be proud to bust this out and drop it on the desk with a big smile on my face.

Yesterday I went through the script and changed anything in Partner's lines that bothered me. Then last night he did the same for my lines. So now everything is streamlined, cleaner, more solid.

Partner and I like to text each other about what geniuses we are. So we'll do that for the next two days and then get back to earth where we are deeply flawed individuals with many emotional problems.

But for today I feel pretty damn good.

Even though I was up late last night talking to Partner about what geniuses we are.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Don't be an idiot

It was another day in the teaching seminar, this time to learn how to do a unit I've been doing on my own for years. There was no internet connection so I spent the whole day doing a revision on Bamboo Killers. Tax dollars well spent.

Last night I went to Lead Actor's acting class again. Learned some new things about directing. I'm really focused on blocking, I realized. I was constantly paying attention to the distance the actors kept between them. I guess that's my thing. Proximity.

Lead Actor had one reservation about the script that I've been putting off from day one. In order for our basic premise to work his character must be phenomenally stupid. He's not stupid the whole script, just a little crazy and coked out. Then he does this one thing that no intelligent person on earth would do. Nobody's really made a big deal about it because we were concerned with other things and suspension of disbelief and all that, but Lead Actor has been seeing everything from this one guy's perspective and just can't get a handle on him being this big of an idiot.

Which brings me to a point others have made and I would like to reiterate now.

Making a character a complete moron is, for the most part, the weakest choice you can make. It weakens not only the stupid character, but it makes things too easy for the other characters. By making Lead Actor's character stupid, we also made everybody else have to be a little dumb too to not see through his stupidity sooner. And when a character has a moral victory over him, it seems kind of empty because, well, he was too dumb to realize what you were up to anyway.

So mission number one on the rewrite was to remove the stupidity. With a few choice lines and some added tension, the character got a little bit smarter. It was a challenge and it's still got a few kinks, but all in all it's a much stronger story.

Because everybody has a brain they enjoy using. Even cokeheads.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I'm not wearing enough pieces of flare

I'm at a seminar today. Fortunately I brought my laptop and there is a remarkably weak internet connection that still lets me check my email after about a hundred attempts at a page load. And the food is free, albeit a little carb happy.

But other than that I kind of wish somebody would just knock me unconscious.

This entire day is dedicated to theory. No practical anything. Just this thing filled with jargon and generalizations we like to call "pedagogy."

There are about 80 people in here. We just had a 20-minute debate about whether or not you should tell students when they give an intelligent reply in class.

Let me explain:

If you say, "Good answer" to a kid and not another kid, the other kid will feel very bad about himself and nobody will want to comment anymore. So from now on we are supposed to stop using positive reinforcement when kids give their opinions.

That's right. Enough people think this is a good idea that we managed to carry the debate for 20 minutes until the speaker finally cut us off to start a whole new argument on how evil pop culture is.

In order to facilitate this discussion, we read an article about pop culture by a man whose entire set of quotes and references comes from books he wrote. And we're all supposed to agree and smile and take gleeful notes. The speaker is less than pleased that people have begun to point out the problems with this.

It reminds me of this one seminar for English teachers I went to last year where this guy said we shouldn't discourage them from using Spanish in the classroom because if you force them to speak English it teaches them that English is the preferred language in our culture.

I looked around at all the nodding heads and tried to remember what subject I teach. Then I stabbed myself with a fork and ran out of the room screaming.

The worst thing is how they took away my friend. I was sitting next to a cute boy who will giggle with me and pass notes about how stupid all this is, when they made us meet new people by getting up and moving to other tables. And they won't let us move back. So my friend went away and now I'm stuck at a table where everybody's wearing lots of flare.

There is a class going on next door where some woman is teaching in Spanish very loudly. I wish I was in her class. They're singing and clapping their hands while someone in our room just asked a question I don't understand about "cognitive understanding."

I miss the Bald Guy. Whenever he gives a seminar he goes, "Okay guys. I know most of this sucks but if you just take this thing here and that thing there and combine it there's some stuff you can use. Now let's go eat some cookies and talk about it."

Jesus. It's only 9:40. I don't think I'm going to make it. Somebody get me a fork. And some water. I ain't drinking this koolaid.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Who's in charge, here?

First of all, thanks to Mystery Man's glowing recommendation I started reading Jennifer Van Sijill's Cinematic Storytelling yesterday. I already feel smarter.

Lead Actor liked Game Night in the beginning when it was just a little character sketch. He thought the character I asked him to play was great fun. Then we upped the stakes and gave it an actual plot and he flipped for the changes. Saturday he read the current version of its feature length incarnation, Bamboo Killers, and said it made Game Night even better. I'm pretty sure he's not blowing smoke up my ass. Then again, he is an actor. And he has always been a charming little bastard.

He's very excited about the whole project, probably because at every stage his role in it gets bigger and more developed. It has now gone from a cute little project he could stick on his reel to a meaty lead part in an indie feature. What actor is going to turn that down?

He has his problems. He's a little flakey, a little self-absorbed. He's stretched himself so thin with work and acting and music and socializing that he sometimes craps on the people he knows will forgive him, one of those being me. He's blown me off on three separate occasions when we were supposed to meet to discuss the script, and he never called and had miserable excuses each time. This concerns Writing Partner, who believes Lead Actor has charmed me like a cobra in a basket.

But I don't do anything I don't want to do. I'm the one putting words in his mouth, after all.

On the upside, Lead Actor is helping me a great deal with learning to direct actors. He's taking me to his class tomorrow night to scout for cast who can work the scene with him for the teacher, then I get to rehearse with the group and work on my direction, then I get to go back to the class and watch the group perform it in front of the audience. That will be a huge help. I can see what gets laughs and watch how the teacher directs them from his chair.

Lead Actor is not usually forthcoming with the notes. I have to drag suggestions out of him and he sounds almost apologetic when he gives them. So when he told me Saturday night he now thinks Game Night is a little anticlimactic I listened.

Yesterday as I shrank Game Night into a four-page play I had to make a lot of tough choices about the core of the story. And I realized what Lead Actor meant. Our climax was kind of wimpy. A character stands up to another character, which is good, but nobody really wins the argument. It gets deflected and there's no real outcome. So I changed it to make the standoff end in a clear victory. The story instantly got better.

So if Lead Actor is making me do his bidding, I say he can keep the charm coming. For now, it's only helping.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Uncharted Waters for Emily

Lead Actor has been wanting for some time to workshop Game Night in his acting class. But Game Night is 12 pages and his acting teacher will only allow five minute scenes in the interests of getting the class out before 1 am. So now my mission is to turn a 12-minute short film into a 5-minute play.

But I can't say no to a challenge. A mental challenge, anyway. I'm not really going to take a dare to bungee jump into the LA River or anything.

So I hacked off the first few scenes where our characters play Taboo. It's great character reveal stuff and shows Lead Actor snorting coke, but in order to shave the story down to its bare elements it had to be the first part to go. Lead Actor will just have to sniff a lot and act hyper and hope the audience gets it.

Losing the beginning dropped the script from 12 pages to 9 and I did it in like five minutes. The next 4 pages won't be so easy.

But it makes you wonder just how necessary those extra scenes are. I think the story loses a little without them, but at the same time it might be a good idea to trim them a little since it was so easy to drop them from the script.

I never wrote a play before. Lead Actor wants to produce a play in the fall, but he's not much of a writer so he wondered if I'd be interested in writing something off a pitch that he could star in and produce for the stage. Because I'm not doing enough for his career already.

But I never back away from a challenge and I accept all invitations. Stupid Lead Actor, knowing all my weaknesses.


I got it down to 3 1/2 pages in play format. Bare bones, missing some character development but still maintaining the core of the story. In the process I really cleaned up some dialogue. When you have to hack pages at that rate you don't have time for speeches. Some of those changes will stay.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy father's day, douchenoodle

I really loathe this holiday. It's like Valentine's Day, it's only good for the people who can use it.

My dad is a waste of existence and the world will not notice his passing. My stepdad's okay now, but only after decades of self-destruction that he didn't pull through in time to smooth out my tumultuous childhood. All my father memories are bad ones.

So when I see those Hallmark commercials where the kid loves his daddy as they play catch and eat ice cream together and learn how to shave, all those jokes about how dad protects his daughter from any potential dirty-minded boyfriends, I really hate them. They remind me of what I never had growing up. I don't know what it's like to have a normal dad who loves you.

I know some of y'all are feelin' me right now.

The first time anyone recognized I could write was when I won this state writing contest in the seventh grade. The topic was "If I Had a Wish" and I wrote a simple story about a weekend I spent with my real dad where we didn't really talk and I watched TV while he ran around town doing whatever it is he did.

This is the last paragraph:

If I had a wish, I'd wish he could be a "real" father. I'd wish he would stop smoking and drinking, get a job, and pay off his debts. I feel so envious of my friends that merely complain about their fathers not buying them something or punishing them. My father once said, "I just don't want any responsibilities right now." I wonder what my sister and I are.

So if you have or had a dad who loved you and did all those dad-like things he was supposed to, please thank him today. There are a lot of us out there who weren't so lucky.

And if you see my dad around anywhere, please punch him in the throat for me.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

What do you want from me?

Sometimes the answer is staring you in the face all the time.

Writing Partner is diligent. I got in at 4 am this morning but that didn't stop him from buzzing me bright and early to discuss the notes from the writers group meeting.

I got in at 4 because I was out bringing the damn house down with my karaoke skills. Wanna wrap the whole room around your finger? Sing "I'm Not Okay" by My Chemical Romance and scream the bridge as you hit the stage floor on your knees in a simulated musical catharsis. Oh yes. I got that party started.

Which was my goal for the evening.

Anyway, Partner and I spent our morning going over script notes. The eternal question came up: goal. What do our characters want? They have a clear sense of wanting to be better people, but they don't really want anything tangible. When they wake up in the morning they go through their day and interesting things happen that they learn from but they don't push the story with their desires. We need some tangible desires.

What's interesting to me is how often I say that to other people. What is your character's goal? They must have a goal. And yet here I was, putting a script out there with great characters whose goals are complete mysteries.

Partner and I did that this morning. We have a character who's kind of boring and serves as kind of an emotional punching bag the entire script. I asked Partner what this character's goal is.

Our character, Eric, has a lot of sexual issues as a sort of side bit to his personality. So Partner looked at the script and realized that instead of just having his girlfriend joke about his minor sexual issues we could turn it into a real conflict. He needs to fix these issues or he'll lose his girl. And tadaa! We raised the stakes.

The story was there. The character was there. We just needed to make one tiny change and everything fell into place.

If we don't know what your character wants how can we root for him? We won't know what we're rooting for.

Think about it right now for your latest script. Do you know what your protagonist wants? If you don't, you need to find out.

Right now my goal is to eat a sandwich. I'm gonna go make that happen if it takes all of the next five minutes.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The morning after

Yesterday was a damn fine day. There were yearbooks. And there was lunch at King Taco with my kids.

Then there was a boy at the gym. Finally. This boy and I have been giving each other the sexy eye for months. Yesterday he spoke.

Then I went home and put out my wasabi peanuts and the writers group came over to dish on Bamboo Killers.

I'm happy that some of our better comedy bits went over well. The stuff that really tickled us pink when we were writing tickled everybody else as well, except for that bit about the Vietnam vet disappearing into thin air. They didn't get that one so much.

The consensus appears to be great concept, good moments, good characters, but much confusion and a bit of a focus problem.

I wrote three of the chapters, Writing Partner wrote two, and we wrote one together. And everybody could tell. My style is so different from Partner's that there was a major tonal shift between the things that we wrote. So now we have to figure out how to smooth that out. I think I'll try just taking a pass at the script myself, then handing him the script and letting him take a pass and adding a bit of our own styles to each other's chapters. Or something.

Another problem is that we introduce a major character as an asshole and he kind of stays an asshole all the way through the film. So we need to do a better job of showing his softer side so he's not quite so predictable.

And I suffered once again from Emily's greatest writing weakness - over-subtlety. I inferred too much and people got lost. Some things do need to be spelled out a bit.

But the kicker was how I lost focus on the one thing I always get on everybody else about - goal. What is your character's goal? People didn't really see the throughline in our story because all our characters' goals were internal. They're all working on themselves in subtle ways and don't have a lot of tangible goals.

Fortunately all the things the group brought up were easy to fix. They'll take some time, but there's no major reworking of the plot necessary.

Probably the most interesting note was how one group member thought this would be a romantic comedy because of the way we set up two characters who never even meet as if they were destined to meet. Oops.

It is definitely NOT a romantic comedy.

So here we go. Time for the rewrite.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Here's to the Bonitas

Today is yearbook day, so I've been insanely busy.

They have gone over like sopas at a border crossing.

In other words, good.

There are some mistakes of course, but given what we had to go through I'm completely proud of my kids. People did not expect them to look this good. I think we'll sell out.

I took my top staff members out to lunch to reward them for their hard work. I snuck them out through the parking garage since I didn't have a field trip permission form, then we walked down the street to King Taco - their choice - where we got food and chatted about all the chisme we knew.

On the way back we got a lot of attention. It was me, five teenage girls and one very tolerant boy. All the guys driving by either honked at us or hollered. My favorite was the guy on the bike who swerved around us and yelled, "Chiquitas bonitas!"

The kids were especially tickled because my nickname at school is "Ms. Chiquita," for reasons I won't go into here. It's nothing sinister.

We should be a reggaeton group: Ms. Chiquita and the Bonitas. From now on, that's how I'm addressing my staff, except maybe the very tolerant boy.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Expo update #1

Two years ago I attended the Creative Screenwriting Expo as a volunteer. Last year I volunteered again, then ended up working for two days as the Volunteer Coordinator's right hand.

For more on that experience, see "How I spent My Weekend" Parts One, Two and Three.

I've been moving up. This year I'll be official. If you volunteer you'll be working with me, although I'm not sure yet in what capacity exactly. No matter what I will most definitely be carrying my beloved walkie-talkie. But I have a feeling based on what I've seen so far that things will run a lot more smoothly this year.

Yes, it is at the same location as last year. But this time the new owner of Creative Screenwriting, Bill Donovan, has hired a professional marketing and event planning crew that appears to have things well in hand.

The first bit of good news is that they got the whole hotel this year, so no sharing. One of the reasons we had so much trouble last year was because half the upstairs of the hotel was taken over by lawyers. Not this time.

But I feel like I have a unique opportunity to get some suggestions from the gallery. Speakers and attendees alike out there who read my blog and attended last year's Expo: besides the cramped basement rooms, what bothered you the most about last year's Expo? What worked? What would make you come back this year?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

By the honor of Greyskull, she has no power

This is my contribution to the excellent Action Heroines Blog-a-thon going on over at Film Experience.

When I was a child I watched way too much television. I used to have fits of kicking and screaming whenever they tried to tell me to go to bed when I wanted to watch The Muppet Show or Fraggle Rock. I was so unhappy with the world of divorce and mean stepdad that I needed some kind of escape, and Jim Henson was it. Red the Fraggle was always my favorite. She was a tomboy, like me.

But when I started spending all day and night in front of the magic box my parents decided that was it. No more TV. From the time I was six until I was 14 I was only allowed two shows: the news and Twin Peaks.

I know, right?

Anyway, I'm a defiant girl and a bit on the aggressive side. So when you tell me I can't do something I immediately try to find a way to do it whether I want to or not. Although I threw myself into books, I still wanted to piss my stepdad off as much as possible by watching TV as much as I could.

The only time I could do this was between the time I got my latchkey ass home from school and when my parents came home an hour or two later.

My stepdad got wise after a while. He started to feel the TV when he came in to see if it was warm. So I learned to turn it off during commercials and let it cool down. It was always a damn one-upmanship game at my house. But I digress.

My point is, the only shows that were usually on at the time of day when I could watch TV were Thundercats, He-Man and She-Ra. I adore the Thundercats. I'm not overly fond of He-Man since I could never quite shake my irritation of the way nobody seemed to notice that delicate Prince Adam was never around when his overly masculine twin was saving everybody on his large pussy with his phallic sword. He has the power indeed.

Which brings me to She-Ra, who most definitely does not have the power. Did you notice? She wears a skimpy outfit and spends way too much time on her hair and makeup and carries sort of a preppy glittery Barbie-meets-Cameron-Diaz-on-steroids vibe about her. And she's the worst action heroine ever.

Sure, she's great at making us all talk about our feelings. And she could heal and do magic spells and make her hair grow longer at will - always a plus for those days when you just want to feel princessy.

But whenever there was a real problem in the forest kingdom she had to call for help. She's supposed to be some badass tomboy with her fancy sword but if the shit really hit the fan she immediately called her manly brother to come save her with his penis power. Or she hollered at her friendly woodland creatures who all rushed in to save the day.

I was a badass tomboy. I certainly never dressed like that. For Christ's sake, look at how short her skirt is. And her nails are freshly manicured. And her chest is big enough to support a strapless top. And what is up with that stupid hat?

When I was a little girl I needed a heroine. I needed a girl who could take care of herself and fight all the forces of dark around her the way I wanted to fight against the forces of dark around me. I needed Sydney and Buffy and Xena and Aeryn and Ripley. But back then all they gave my elementary school ass was a girlie girl who thinks bunnies and glitter will save the world.

No thanks.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Making sense of Buffy

The Buffyverse is complicated.

I'm trying to show my kids how to write essays in something other than five paragraph format. So today I showed "Destiny," The Angel episode in which Spike and Angel beat the shit out of each other over the fake Cup of Destiny. Then I gave them copies of Peter Beagle's essay on the difference between Spike and Angel. They have to go through the essay and find the thesis and mark all the specific examples and the elaboration in different colors.

I think for my other class I'll switch it to the one where they go to Italy. "Destiny" confused the crap out of them. They asked if we could watch the show from the beginning. God, I wish I could comply.

I tried explaining things. I gave them a primer on the whole Spike - Buffy - Angel saga before I showed them the episode. Writing things on the board did not help.

The idea of demons controlling the world with an evil law firm sounds really stupid when you say it out loud.

When we were going over the essay, to explain what I wanted them to do I pointed to a part in the essay where Beagle brings up Spike's affair with the Buffybot.

"He had sex with a robot?" one of my kids asked.

"Yes," I said. "Which was really creepy when her friends saw him having sex with her in the graveyard and thought it was Buffy. But it was okay because in that same episode Spike did something really nice for Buffy so she pretended to be the robot to make him feel better."

I watched my student scrunch up his face in an effort to make sense of what the hell I just said.

I'm thinking it's a miracle we got one full season out a show this complicated, much less seven and five of a spinoff. Hooray for miracles.

All play and no work makes Emily a dull girl

I'm a lost little puppy.

Writing Partner and I finished our first draft of Bamboo Killers last week and now we're just waiting for our people to read it and give us criticism.

Normally I have a project on the horizon that I throw myself into as soon as the previous one is finished, but I was so excited by this script and the accompanying short film that I dropped everything else I was working on to finish it. I've never felt that thrilled with a script before and it feels really good.

But now I'm twiddling my thumbs a bit. I have an idea for a Heroes spec floating around in my brain but I haven't fleshed it out and the two feature projects I've been pondering require a lot of expensive and time consuming research.

I have nothing to write.

It's like the universe is upside down.

I am a multitasker. I always have a zillion things going at one time and I'm never without a project to work on. I don't feel right without a project to work on.

Thursday I get feedback on the script and we can start with the rewrite, but in the meantime I feel a little lonely inside. Lost.

So I've been reading scripts - Pulp Fiction and Little Miss Sunshine - and watching movies - Brick and Mystic River - and flipping through the latest issue of Fade In.

You know, to stay plugged in. But it's not enough. It's never enough.

It's time to get to work on that Heroes spec before I go crazy.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

I see movies with dead people

There's this thing that's apparently been going on for some time at the Hollywood Cemetery. Periodically they screen movies there. In the cemetery. Near the dead people.

So last night I went with Scribe where I met some more excellent people. The line was literally down the block and even though we showed up almost two hours early we still barely made it in. They cut off the line about ten minutes after we got through the gate, which meant my other friend who didn't make it in time to get in line with us was left standing on the other side of the gate yelling at me to have a good time when she arrived a mere two minutes after we walked in. Very sad. She wasn't the only one; there may have been rioting.

They say the price is a $10 "donation" but seriously, don't call it a donation when the angry woman at the gate won't let you through unless you cram a ten spot in her grubby little hands. It's not a donation. It's a charge.

We found some friends who had already carved out a spot and put down our blankets and pillows and opened up our beers. Yep, they let you bring in beers and various food stuffs to eat and drink to your heart's content. With the dead people.

I was impressed with the efficiency of the port-a-potty system. That's important when you're drinking your beers. Especially for me because I have a bladder the size of a small child.

The place was so insanely crammed with people, though, that once you left your spot on the grass there was no garauntee you'd ever find it again. At one point I crept through the grass and crouched to look around like I was some kind of commando.

"I don't know where the fuck I am," I whispered to the people who watched me with curiosity. Then I threw a grenade at them.

But we were sitting behind douchebags in tall chairs so eventually I found my spot. We talked loudly before the film about what douchebags they were, as they were also with girls who spent the entire movie talking about Paris Hilton and taking pictures of themselves, and I confronted the guys openly about their douchebaggery and whether or not they were going to move their asses off the tall chairs. To no avail.

Then they went to the bathroom. When they came back the chairs were mysteriously folded on the ground so they moved to sit beside their girlfriends on the blanket. Our group: two, douchebags: zero.

The movie was Harold and Maude, which I'd never seen before. I wasn't sure where the film was going at first and I didn't laugh at the jokes that were apparently cracking up people behind me, but after Harold met Maude things started to pick up. And it was very cute.
And poignant. But I couldn't stop being creeped out by the fact that Maude was the same evil neighbor woman from Rosemary's Baby.

They had a "DJ spinning tunes" before and after the film, but it was the most obscure music he could possibly have located. I didn't even know they'd made a Spanish language version of "Last Kiss." Two of us totally rocked it out.

And we all learned a new word from this film that we all proceeded to use as much as possible for the rest of the night: comingling. That's what you say when things get a little hot and heavy. "Comingle me, baby."

Over at Paramount they launched fireworks right when the film was over. I'm glad they waited. It was cool to watch the fireworks while we wandered through all the dead people. It was also cool to watch a movie under the stars. I keep forgetting about stars. You don't see the sky much at night when you live in Hollywood.

So to recap: we waited in a hellish line and paid $10 to get into a cemetery to lie on the grass behind douchebags in tall chairs and line up for port-a-potties and climb over people all the increasingly colder night so we could watch a film from the seventies while we drank beers. Next film: Roman Holiday. We're so there.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Daddy issues

Friday night's episode of Stargate SG-1 was completely abysmal.

Does anybody remember when this was an action show?

Know what's nice about action? You can put people together in dangerous situations and watch them fight against their desires to accommodate their responsibilities. Yeah, that didn't happen in this episode. What happened was a lot of talking and silly music meant to make me think the forced jokes were funny.


The "Family Ties" episode was about father issues. I know it was about father issues because it told me so. Every character told me so multiple times. It was all anybody talked about. And there was a lot of talking. Every scene was a discussion about how Vala feels about her dad, or how General Landry feels about his ex-wife.

There wasn't a whole lot of subtext, is what I'm saying here.

The premise was that Fred Willard's character has some information for Earth, but he just so happens to be Vala's father. I don't even remember what the information was because it was a mcguffin to get Vala to confront her father issues. How did she confront her father issues? By talking about them. It was like an episode of Gray's Anatomy but without the sex.

Nothing happened in this episode. I was so bored I started writing this post before the episode was over.

Know what would have been better? Vala's father gets himself in trouble from his bad behavior on an alien planet and he is the only person who knows how to save earth from an attack, so Vala has to save him even though she doesn't want to. She's convinced he's not worth saving, but she must swallow her pride and disgust for the good of the family she really cares about. If it were my story that would be where I'd stop it, by her realizing she shouldn't care if he loves her or not because her real family is the Stargate team.

But I have daddy issues.

If you want to go with redemption, maybe once she saves him, she gets in trouble and he does something selfless and sacrificial in order to save her. Only then does she realize he actually cared about her.

Instead her father disappointed her like he always does. She learned nothing new. He learned nothing new. Nobody ever made any difficult choices. It was an empty story.

But here's a thought. Vala is an absent parent too. Granted, her child is a mystical priestess bent on world domination, but still. Vala isn't exactly around to guide her. Yet that was never even brought up in an episode filled with dialogue.

Maybe her father could have been held hostage by her daughter. Now THAT would bring out the conflict.

Call me Panda

I got called up for jury duty yesterday but I got it postponed so I ended up home by 9:30 am. I had a sub for the day so Writing Partner and I spent the entire day working on the script. Like we were professionals or something.

At the rate Partner's going he might be unemployed soon. He's sort of started neglecting his paying job to work on the script more. But at least he'll have the awesome screenplay to keep him warm when he's homeless.

We probably spent a total of four hours on the phone but we got it done. We read through the entire script from beginning to end which is a hilarious event all by itself. Sometimes we ad lib. Sometimes our ad libs are so funny they make it into the script. I spent a good portion of my day doubled over in giggles.

After we finished our final draft of the script and the day was over and we were all prepared to go to sleep we realized we forgot the title.

Usually I'm good with titles. They just pop into my head when I first think of the script and that's that. But the nature of this story, with the chapters and all, has made it difficult to think of a clever way to sum up our story.

There's a Taoist quote about water Partner wrote into the script and we discussed at length how it sums up our primary theme. So I said, "Running Water"? And he said it sounds like a Hallmark Channel production. He said "Still Water"? And I said that sounds like a Tom Selleck Western on TNT.

We sat for a minute.

"Bamboo Killers," Partner said.


A Friend and I had a conversation recently that involved the use of the phrase "bamboo killers". I thought the conversation was interesting so when I needed a character to say something random I yanked the discussion from my memory. When Partner and I read through the script yesterday I told him about the real life conversation and we realized how perfectly it summed up our primary theme.

Plus it sounds cool. Bamboo Killers.

I was so pleased with the title I kept repeating it as I fell asleep.

Bamboo killers. Bamboo killers. Bamboo killerssszzzzzzz.......

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Emily hobnobs again

Last night the Gang (Maggie, Me our two friends and someone very awesome who will remain nameless) attended the Battlestar Galactica screening in Hollywood.

Here's what I learned: Mary Macdonnell is an absolutely radiant human being who apparently loves to cut loose, Katee Sackhoff based Starbuck on her tough-guy brother, and Edward James Olmos is willing to pay SciFi himself for another season of the show, but Ron Moore is adamant that it come to an end on his time table and doesn't even want to consider a feature film. Jamie Bamber carefully ponders every question posed to anyone on stage by looking into the ceiling and squinting. And Lucy Lawless has some of the most toned arms I've ever seen.

I almost don't know what else to say since I was beside Maggie the whole time so her post covers most of it. But I'm me, so I'll come up with something.

We are very fortunate to have awesome friends who know people because we were able to squeeze into the after party with our hard-won VIP passes.

Okay mine was hard-begged and Maggie's was just given to her. But either way, we got 'em.

Jamie Bamber, for some reason, was the only actor I felt completely comfortable talking to all night. He's not only very approachable and funny, but he is even hotter in person than he is on screen, which I really didn't think was possible. I complimented his white sports jacket / torn jeans combination, but I was mostly thinking about what was underneath it. Jamie's lovely wife, who was two feet from me while I was lost in my lusty thoughts, is a very lucky woman. I really wished I had watched Horatio Hornblower as he and Maggie bonded over the whole Battlestar-is-like-Horatio-Hornblower conversation. I felt like Jason Biggs when he went up to talk to Shannon Elizabeth for the first time in American Pie. I stared at my beer and pretended to get the jokes.

But Jamie was very nice. And more pretty than any person has a right to be. And very British. In a good way.

Know who else is nice? Mark Verheiden. I didn't get to say much to him last night because I was being swept all over the place, but he's always a very pleasant individual.

And you know who's hilarious? Lucy Lawless. She rocked an evening gown while everybody else was party chic, and she owned that freaking stage during the Q&A.

Know who wasn't there? Michael Rosenbaum.

I may have made a slight impression on David Eick when I offered to get him a beer, and I shook Ron Moore's hand right before somebody shoved me out of the way to throw his girlfriend in Ron's face. I guess it's tough to be the man in charge. Everybody wants a piece.

When I got home at 12:30 am, debating whether or not I should call in a sub for work today I realized I had forgotten to call about jury duty. So I called. I reported this morning at 7:30 and had it postponed to September when I'm off track again. So now I can sleep except that Partner wants to work on the script.

I'm very tired now. Totally worth it. If nothing else, I got another T-shirt. Every party I go to in this town somebody gives me a T-shirt.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

You work. I'll sleep.

Partner didn't sleep much last night.

I emailed Writing Partner: We need to finish the first draft of the script so I can upload it for the writers group to read in time for next week's meeting.

He called in a panic: It's not going to be ready!

I was all cool and collected and like, oh sure it will be fine. Just let me finish this thing and then we'll... Oh crap, it's not going to be ready!

I got a little frustrated because one of the scenes I was scheduled to write involved two male roommates confronting the other one about rent while his brother is in the room. So that's four boys in a room in the middle of a confrontation.

Now I'm pretty masculine for a girl and I've spent a lot of time being "one of the guys" but I have no brothers and I don't actually have a penis, so this scene was really driving me nuts. Partner looked at it and said it was fine but I didn't like it. I threw up my hands and made him fix it.

I heard the clackity-clack of his fingers on the keys of his computer as I lay in bead lamenting my frustration with the scene. It was 2 am his time and he was wide awake.

Then he read me what he had changed. It turns out, it wasn't the penises that was the problem, it was one penis who, quite frankly, was not behaving enough like a penis.

One change in a physical position between two characters and suddenly everything opened up. And all I had to do was mumble my agreement as I snuggled up in my pajamas.

So now the chapters are all put together and we're spending today doing one last pass over the whole thing, fixing a few chronology issues and putting a harder edge on one of our characters who needs to act more like a penis.

I get to feel proud for a whole week until we send it to the writers group and start all over when they rip it apart. Yay.

I love Partner.

And I can't wait to see how many people google this post looking for porn.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Thanks for your support

Dear Ms. Blake:

Thank you for your correspondence dated June 4, 2007 wherein you requested Hasbro, Inc.’s permission to use the above-referenced product in conjunction with a film entitled “GAME NIGHT”.

I have reviewed your request with the appropriate people within Hasbro and regret to advise you that Hasbro cannot grant you permission to refer to or use the above-referenced product or any of its distinctive elements which are trademarks of Hasbro, in the manner you request.

We receive a large number of requests to use our products in many different ways. Unfortunately, in order to protect our intellectual property, such as copyrights and trademarks, we are simply unable to grant the vast majority of requests.

I am sorry that we cannot accommodate you in this matter. We appreciate your interest in TABOO and hope that you continue to enjoy our products.

Very truly yours,


Monday, June 04, 2007

Taboo may be legally taboo

One of the major items of importance in Game Night is the game of Taboo. Half the film is about our characters playing the game and one of the major themes of the film is the idea that in relationships far too many times we treat the important topics as taboo subjects. So the game is a major symbol that we need to show.

So today I called an extremely pleasant woman at Hasbro to see about getting permission to use the game in the film.

She said I had to email her a synopsis of the film, an explanation of why I wanted to use the game, and a PDF of the applicable pages. Then she sends them up the ladder to seek out permission, but it could take some time.

The problem is that our script includes a coke head snorting up in the bathroom and loooooots of cuss words. Fortunately the sex parts come after the Taboo parts, so I was able to minimize those a little in my synopsis. But I get the feeling Hasbro may not approve of usage of the game. So I guess I'd better figure out how to hide the logo.

La Cantatrice Chauve

I never really liked the Sopranos that much. I only watched it because my Ex did. Then after Ex moved out I made a new Friend who liked to come over to my place and watch it because he didn't have HBO. I got HBO to watch Entourage, Deadwood, The Wire, and Rome. Plus it allows me to get caught up on the films I've been wanting to see. But I never really got the whole Sopranos obsession.

I guess it's because there are no heroes there. Everybody on that show is rotten to the core. Rome has a couple of upright fellows that, although they get a little lost on the way, have the best of intentions. Deadwood has the defiantly honorable Timothy Olyphant and his loyal sidekick. The Wire features several characters who fight every day to make a better life for the people of Baltimore. But The Sopranos is a cast full of selfish bastards who don't care who they have to hurt to get what they want. I like the dark stories, but I also like having someone to root for.

That's why last night's episode impressed me so much. I was literally on the edge of my eat, hand over my mouth, nervous that every second somebody was coming for Tony.


Because people got whacked last night. Important people. I mean, they sort of established that nobody's safe the day they threw Pussy in the ocean, but last night there was some intense murdering going on. It was a war, and Tony was the one on the defensive. And you know we're coming to the end so there's no telling what could happen. So for the first time since the show started I really felt Tony's fear.

Probably because the guy coming after him is a bigger asshat than Tony. That helps. Any time you have to choose between two evils it makes the lesser evil seem almost good. And that's how you make me care about a man like Tony Soprano.

Then again, from Phil's perspective it's Tony who's the asshat. But this story isn't told from Phil's perspective.

I'll be tuning in next week, not because Friend is coming over to watch it or because Ex took over the remote for the evening. I'll be watching it because I want to see what happens when Phil finally comes for Tony.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

The things we do for our art

Lead Actor does not like Carrots. I'm already making him snort BC Headache Powder or Vitamin D or Sweet Tarts up his nose, so he's not overly fond of the prospect of munching on a bag of baby carrots for as many takes as it requires to get the shot. He's also combining the taste of delicious carroty goodness with the flavor of beer, which is part of the joke. The character is really excited about carrots.

So the other day, after Lead Actor didn't show for our meeting two days in a row, we finally met to discuss the script. After I lectured him on responsibility and we established that he is indeed committed to this and will never blow me off again, we got to working on Game Night. His first suggestion was to find a way around the carrot issue.

Can't he eat a popsicle? Lead Actor asked. A popsicle is a more normal thing for someone to get excited about.

And that's exactly why it has to be carrots. Who the hell gets worked up over carrots? It's quirky and unexpected. A popsicle would just be a prop, but carrots are a comedy bit. Plus if he chows down while he talks we can make carrot bits come flying out of his mouth. More funny. I suppose we could make popsicle juice drip out, but that makes him look more mentally challenged instead of crazy coke head.

You just don't want to eat the carrots, I said.

He reassured me that he'd do whatever it takes to make this thing successful, even if it meant snorting Pixie Sticks and eating a whole bushel of carrots. And showing up in places he says he will be.

But he's satisfied because he knows he's doing it for a reason.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Amateur Prima Donnas

As The Refreshments once put it so wisely: Everybody knows that the world is full of stupid people.

I show up on time. It's my thing. All of my friends know that if they ask me to do something, I will do it on time and in the way they needed it done. So when somebody needs a responsible person to handle a job, they turn to me.

It's got its disadvantages, that responsible thing. I have mini panic attacks when I'm late for things, especially if my tardiness is caused by my warped sense of direction piloting me into a freeway to Nowhere. Sometimes I cry when I'm lost because I'm so upset that I'm not going to make it on time. I have no patience with people who are even a tiny bit late. I know a date is doomed when he's not at my door the minute he said he'd be, and I can't blow things off if I don't want to do them because it would destroy my reputation as super responsible, which for some reason I obsess over maintaining.

Other people don't have that obsession. They don't call and don't show, often several times in a row. I've noticed this is a particularly common feature among actors, which is why so many of them are the aforesaid stupid people.

Don't get me wrong, I still love actors. But they can sabotage a career like nothing I've ever seen.

I'm producing a short film soon, and after that hope to pull in funding for a feature. I have plans to continue working, maybe in TV, maybe in features after that. But either way I will be in a position to make casting decisions in my life. Yet I have at least four actor friends who don't return my phone calls or show up at my gatherings. Morons.

I recently recommended a friend of mine for the lead in an independent feature being shot later this year. My friend never called the director to find out about the audition, which made me look like an ass. This was after he took a month to read the 12-page script for Game Night. By the time he got around to reading it I had already given the part to someone else. He whined about how unfair it was that I didn't wait for him.

I have another friend who seemed uninterested when I told her about a part in the script I wanted her to read for. She forgot to take it with her when she left my apartment.

Both of these people are unrepresented and are experiencing dry spells in acting roles. Maybe this is why.

Trainer always rehearses his audition piece for me when I'm doing crunches. He treats every part, no matter how small, like it's the lead in a feature. He never misses an audition and follows up leads on his own regardless of what his agent is up to. Every time I give him a script he reads it right away and gives me intelligent notes. And he's always on time for our sessions.

All three of these people are talented actors.

In the future I will need actors to fill certain roles. Guess which one I'm going to pick first.

There are just too many people in this town who are dying for a chance to work to bother with unreliable people. I think that probably applies to writers, too.