Friday, January 30, 2015

Dangling Modifiers



You ever have those moments in life that sorta pass by... either whimpering or screaming... making you spend a great deal of the rest of your life wondering what happened?  I've got a shitload of them.

There's those friends of mine who died in combat.  I've lost sleep wondering if I could've mattered if I were there.  Probably not.  But I'll always wonder.  Fucking sucks,  yo.

There's this girl - we'll call her Sage.  Something odd happened between us and she stopped talking to me.  I'll never know why and that bothers me.  I wonder about it from time to time, and I only knew her for a few days in my life.  What can I say?  I am idiot.

There's my two dogs, Jasper and Jax.  Jax died of a snakebite and Jasper... well, he got depressed and disappeared one day.  I wonder how much a hug could've made a difference.  Kept him around.  Fucking German Shepherds, I tell you.  Wouldn't hurt so much if he wasn't so fucking loyal.  Sweetheart, too.  Barked tough, but a pushover.

Don't get me started on my cats.  Galahad, Gawain, Guinevere, Isolde, Arthur, Tristan.  Gah, even that stray I named Percival.  Fuckers.  I wish I hated animals sometimes.

I drove through Adelaide, Australia, last year.  I should've fucking stayed there.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Strange Things in Hollywood

I'm preparing a pitch that's going to be presented to the guy who runs the Miss America Organization. To be fair, this by itself isn't weird to me, but I have an ex-girlfriend who'd kill to be sitting in the room when it happens (seriously, she would kill). I think I may have even promised her that I'd introduce her to the pageant organizers once we moved out to Los Angeles. She never moved to the city, but I did. And now I can actually keep that promise. How's that for karma?

Speaking of karma... Sam Smith and Tom Petty came to an amicable settlement regarding their hit songs, "Stay With Me" and "I Won't Back Down."  Check out the video in case you had any doubts:



And enjoy some pet photos:

That's right.  I just fucked up your bed.  What the fuck you gonna do about it?  Nothing.  Except take my photo.  That's what I thought, bitch.

The northeast is freezing.  We're just chilling.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Return of the River of Mnemosyne Challenge!

A few years ago, a friend and I started the online writing group, The Tenth Daughter of Memory.  It ran from September 2009 until it died a quiet death in July 2012.  There was a half-hearted attempt to revive it in 2013, but that pretty much floundered from its inception.

While the original iterations weren't all that successful, I met a lot of good writers during 10thDoM's run, and made a lot of better friends.  In that regard, 10thDoM was hugely successful and there are still a few people who appreciate it for what it was.

That stated, one thing that's stuck around from 10thDoM is the annual "River of Mnemosyne Challenge."  The first three RoMs happened on the original 10thDoM site, the fourth RoM was pretty much the only thing that happened on the revived site, and the fifth RoM happened right here on good ol' Irreverent Irrelevance.

Why am I bringing all this up?  Well, because the sixth RoM will happen right here on good ol' IrreX2, as well.

Yep.  RoM6 will start on February 1, 2015.

You see, the friends I made at 10thDoM are all real-life friends now, they're pretty much all social-network friends, and I've met most in person and plan on meeting the rest very soon.  And they all want to play.

So, if you're interested, take a gander at last year's rules here: 5th Annual "River of Mnemosyne" Challenge.  There will probably be some minor changes to those rules, but those will give you the gist.  The new rules will post February 1.

Hope to see you there.  Or here.  Or whatever.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

IrreX2 Style: Analyzing the Second Amendment to the US Constitution

It's a contentious issue, this 2nd Amendment.  You know the one.  It's the one with "... the right of the people to keep and bear Arms..." in it.

I'd say 99% of the people who argue it don't even understand it.  Both the anti-gun douchebags and the pro-gun nutcases get it wrong.  Constitutional lawyers and politicians attempt to politicize their end-goals, so we should all operate under the assumption that they're trying to lie to us.

(Of course, given the nature of hypocritical rhetoric, you all think the lawyers and politicians who agree with your worldviews are, by nature, "right."  You should learn to fuck yourself once in a while.  It'll help with the ego-centrism.)

Let me pause for a moment and offer some disclosures:

DISCLOSURE LIST:

  1. I am drinking cheap Merlot.  Surprise, surprise.
  2. I support gun ownership.  I don't believe any type of firearm should be restricted from responsible citizens.
  3. I support a modicum of gun control.  Namely, limited licensing and registration (which I'll touch on below).
So, where was I?  Oh, yes... cheap Merlot...


No, wait... that was the other day.

So, where was I?  Oh, yes... most people don't understand the 2nd Amendment, at all.  And, instead of figuring it out, they just hide behind their preferred political interpretation of the amendment, be it "everyone can own guns" or just "militia members can own guns."

Extremists, beyond those interpretations, take it even further.  You've all heard the arguments.  The faaaaaar right will say something to the effect of, "Not only can I own whatever firearm I want to own, nobody needs to know what firearms I own!"  The faaaaaar left will say something to the effect of, "It's an archaic amendment written for another time."

Another disclosure: I'll tune out any motherfucker that claims either one of those things.  Because they're both totally wrong and they're likely both fucking morons anyway.

Well, then... now that I've established that 99% of the US population are idiots, including those smarter, better educated, and sexier than I am, I should probably explain the 2nd Amendment to you.

Let's start with its text, shall we?

AMENDMENT II OF THE US CONSTITUTION


"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

That's what it says, verbatim.  Bad grammar and punctuation in place (which is what causes a lot of the problems).

But what does it mean?

Well (brace yourselves, anti-gun crowd), it means that people get to have guns.

But why does it mean that?

Well, I'm glad you asked.  This is the part of the debate that is the most overlooked and flat-out ignored.  But to explain it requires taking a couple of steps back, so bear with me.

First, let me ask, what is an amendment?  Most of us know, but for the sake of explanation, an amendment is a change to something.  All of the amendments in the Constitution exist because something in the original Constitution prevented or precluded something from happening.  This should be obvious.  Sadly, it's probably not.

What should be obvious to everyone reading this, however, is that the authors of the 2nd Amendment identified something in the original Constitution that needed to be changed.

And what, pray tell, was that?  Well, it was a particular line in Article 1, Section 8.

ARTICLE 1, SECTION 8 OF THE US CONSTITUTION


(The Congress shall have Power) "To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

"To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;"

Do you see it?  Take a moment.  If you don't see it, that's fine, because I'm about to tell you what it amends.  But, if you don't see it, realize that, yes, you were in the 99% I was talking about.

And, yes, this blog entry is extremely comma heavy.  It's sort of a joke, given that the 2nd Amendment has comma problems, but... yeah... well... oh, fucking forget it.

Anyway, here's what the 2nd Amendment, er... amends: "To provide for organizing, ARMING, and disciplining..."

Do you get it?  Take a moment.  If you don't get it, that's fine, because I'm about to tell you how it works.  But, if you don't get it, realize that, yes, you were in the 99% I was talking about.

Article 1, Section 8 as written in the US Constitution basically puts the onus on arming the militia (and, hence, the populace) on Congress.  That means Congress has to pay for all those guns, issue all those guns to militia members, and maintain and replace all those guns as necessary.  Basically, in what could be the most powerful gun-control legislation ever, the Federal government had complete control over who was armed in America.

But, America had just fought a government they once loved, so the 2nd Amendment was offered up and approved as part of the Bill of Rights.

Trivia for you: the 2nd Amendment was actually the fourth article of the Bill of Rights.  The first article was never approved and the second wasn't approved until 1992, becoming the 27th Amendment.

Sorry... I get distracted sometimes.  Where was I?


No, no, no...

Oh, yes... America had just fought a government they once loved, so the 2nd Amendment was offered up and approved as part of the Bill of Rights.  Basically, the authors of the 2nd Amendment removed the power to arm the citizenry of the United States and gave that power to the citizenry themselves.

And that's that.  Seriously.  That's where it's been since 1791.  To the joy of some; to the chagrin of others.  Regardless of where you stand on the issue, however, the fact that the 2nd Amendment gives individual Americans the right to keep and bear arms is irrefutable.

Sorry, anti-gun douches.  That's the way it is.

DEBUNKING THE INTERPRETATIONS AGAINST


So, obviously, a whole helluva lot of people have argued other interpretations of the 2nd Amendment.  They're mostly wrong.  Let's do a quick run-through of some of the points.
  • The "it only guarantees the militia can be armed" interpretation.  Nope, sorry.  For those who want to argue the "archaic Amendment" point, this is an easy sell: at the time, the "militia" was literally every able-bodied man between certain ages.  Not only that, Article 1, Section 8 leaves the definition of a militia up to Congress, but that was part of the problem.  For those who are willing to forgo the "archaic Amendment" point, the 2nd Amendment specifically states "the right of the people," and NOT the responsibility of the organized militia.
  • The "militia is the National Guard" argument.  Nope, sorry.  Not only is this one legally irrelevant (see above... the National Guard is also NOT "the people"), the National Guard was formally made part of the Federal armed forces in 1940 (via an amendment of the National Defense Act of 1916).  So, for all intents and purposes, the National Guard is the Army, and is therefore soooooo not the point of the 2nd Amendment.
  • The "militia are the state defense forces" argument.  Nope, sorry.  Let's back up a moment... most Americans have no idea that many states maintain independent "state defense forces" (22 states, to be exact, plus Puerto Rico).  These forces are not subject to Federal call-up, short of what they're allowed to call up for militia duties (which are to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions).  Regardless, though "state defense forces" are legal militias, they still do not encompass "the people."
  • The nonsensical "the militia IS the military" argument.  To be honest, I heard this one for the first time tonight, which prompted this rant.  It's horseshit.  Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution is extremely clear on the differences between the Armies, the Navy, and the Militia.
For reference, here are the parts of Article 1, Section 8, that deal with the military of the United States:

(The Congress shall have Power) "To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

"To provide and maintain a Navy;

"To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;"

Anyway, the militia is NOT the military.  It is, in fact, the people.  And the people are allowed to have guns.  Cut.  Dried.  You may want to change it, but stop trying to claim it's not so.

WHAT WOULD I DO IF I WERE IN CHARGE?


You know... I'm more than a little drunk right now.  I'll address this question in a future installment.  Most of you will be surprised what my stances on gun control are.

'Til next time!

>BURP<

Friday, January 16, 2015

Cut and Waste

I would have to admit that it takes a long time for a writer to truly be able to become objective with his or her own work.  Or, at least, reasonably imitate a modicum of objectivity with his or her own work.  It's a very, very hard thing to do.  It's a very easy thing to teach (or to tell others to do), but it's a very, very hard thing to do to one's own words.

Well, maybe not all the time.  What I'm writing now, for instance... the very words you're reading... I know they can use some editing.  But I don't fucking care.  And, in that respect, I'm being objective AND apathetic.  Which is probably the pinnacle of being able to analyze one's own work.

Where was I?

Oh, yes... a glass of cheap Merlot.


No, wait... a Mason jar of cheap Merlot.


Wait... where the fuck did Merlot come from?  Ah, who gives a shit?  Might as well drink it.


Okay... NOW where was I?

Ah, yes... attempting objectivity with one's own work is a pain in the ass!  Let's just admit it.  There's a vanity with writers in which, for a while, they believe that their first draft (of whatever) is actually good.  Maybe not great, but definitely a righteous springboard to the soon-to-be deified greatness of their second draft.  During the period in which they believe this, they let friends and family read their crap and the belief is temporarily reinforced.  Until they let an actual fellow writer (or other qualified critic) take a look.

Balloon is popped.  What was once erect...


... is now flaccid and broken.


Face it.  The first draft sucks!  FACE IT!

The second draft probably isn't good, either.  The third might be crap.  The fourth might be slightly less smelly crap.  So on and so forth.

So the writer shelves the story.  The writer waits those agonizing days, weeks, years before daring to take a peek.  But peek, they do.  Which is when the realization hits.  THIS SHIT SUCKS!

With renewed vigor, mistakes are analyzed and the story's life begins anew.  The result is better, to be sure, and the writer once again thinks they've struck gold.  But, let's just admit it.  There's a vanity with writers in which, for a while, they believe that their first draft (of the new version) is actually good.  Maybe not great, but...

You get the idea.

Ultimately (hopefully), that true imitation of that modicum of objectivity finally sets in.  The real editing and rewriting begin.  Everything is analyzed and gauged for its worth.  Entire scenes down to individual lines of description and dialogue.  And, slowly... surely... it sinks in that of the 14 pages in that short story or short screenplay, only the last three have anything to do with what the story is about.  The rest is all waste.  Interchangeable setup that barely affects the conclusion, the moral of the tale.

So the writer cuts it.  Tosses it.  Shreds it.

(and promises to recycle it)
And then... just then... the damned story might be good.

FADE OUT.

THE END.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Starbuck & Cats

Yeah, sorry... I'm turning into "that guy."

Anyway, I noticed my dog had been outside for a significantly long time, so I went to have a look.  Starbuck was passed out on the sidewalk while Sagremor was dozing in the grass.
The hunt ended at nap time.

Another of Starbuck and Kay.  This one's actually from January 10th:
The almost family portrait.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

"Writers" - Part 3

*Continued from "Writers" - Part 2

From Two to Three, or, "It doesn't snow in Hollywood because there are flakes enough already."

So, an aspiring writer has had their Moment Two.  Now it's game on.  Career mode.  Strive to get those paychecks by any means possible.  For writers, that means writing needs to happen.  But Moment Three involves professionals.  Those who've been in career mode for years.  People who work in the dreams an aspiring writer simply plays in.

As anyone with a career can tell you, the professional workplace encompasses many things that amateurs don't worry about.  Lawyers.  Accountants.  Schedules.  All of which can be (and usually are) absolutely terrifying to the amateur.

This part of the journey is when writers unequivocally separate themselves from "writers."  Writers, you see, will power through, do their due diligence, and sign contracts (after carefully vetting them, hopefully).  Writers will adhere to delivery schedules and will be on time.  Writers will recognize that their so-called art is as much as a business as it is a creative endeavor, and will adjust their approach to accommodate this sometimes ugly truth.  At the end of the day, however... writers will get paid.  Writers will be presented the option of quitting their "other jobs."  Writers will actually get to write for a living.

Shut the fuck up.  Right?

But... what will "writers" do?  Well, the specifics of the answer to that question are highly variable.  The general answer is that they'll fail.  Not only because they aren't writers, but because - at this stage - they put themselves in positions to piss other people off.  And not just random people.  But the people they met at Moment Two.  The people who were paying attention.  The people who were willing to pay money.  And when those people are pissed off, one typically finds their career and career aspirations grinding to halts and going in reverse.

Here are some examples:

Situation One: The Failed Actor, Decent Writer... and Failed Writer

Let's call this guy "K."  Once an aspiring actor, his rising star fell quickly on the back of some health problems, so he took a step back and started to regroup via writing.  Lo and behold, the guy can put together interesting characters in interesting situations.  The screenplays he knocks out aren't great, but they're typically worthy of developing.

Except he doesn't rewrite.  Or he gets stuck in "perpetual rewrite."  Or he just won't deliver the damned script.

A friend of his in Hollywood (for whatever reason, K never made the jump out there) once sat in a pitch meeting and one of the producers in that meeting asked for a specific type of story.  This friend remembered one of K's scripts that fit the bill (two scripts, actually) and immediately contacted K.  One would think K would've been euphoric.  K's friend (also an aspiring writer) went to a pitch meeting and wound up pitching K's work, rather than his own.

Side note: said friend is a fucking moron.

Anyway, what did K do?  He declined to share his work.  Even though, after his friend's pitch, the producer asked to read the scripts.  The friend (the fucking moron) was incredulous.  But, as a writer himself, he understood K's mentality and chalked it up to K knowing when his scripts were ready to be shared.

Years go by.  Literally, years.  Neither script mentioned at that pitch meeting underwent a rewrite.  Neither script - to the friend's knowledge - has ever even been pitched since.

But, whatever... K's friend (the same fucking moron) talks a director into letting K take a crack at an idea the director has.  K reads the director's existing material, likes the idea, and pitches the director his take on it.  The director loves it.  LOVES it.  So K gets to writing.

Months go by.  Literally, months.  Finally, the director asks a producer to intervene and negotiate a hard delivery date for a draft.  The producer agrees, intervenes, and a delivery is worked out with K.  And then the delivery date arrives.  And passes.  No script.  K asked for another week.  Then asked for another week.  And still another.

Finally, the producer asks K, "Do you even have a draft?"  K says yes.  The producer demands it.  K refuses.  The producer - on behalf of the director - fires K.  The director is upset, but understands.  K, for whatever reason, simply refuses to let anyone see the draft.

Time goes by and it eventually comes out that K never finished a draft.  In fact, K contacted the director a while later and tried to negotiate a new delivery date.  The director refused.  Why?  Because K is a flake.  Stuck in an amateur mentality.  A fucking "writer."  All talk.

Unsurprisingly, the producer won't take K's calls, either.  Not about writing gigs, anyway.  Neither the director nor the producer will recommend K to anyone.  Neither will recommend K's existing screenplays to anyone.  Neither will vouch for K if contacted by third parties.

The dude hadn't even made it physically to Hollywood yet, and he's already screwed himself.

Ugh.  That's all for now.  Come back next time, to read about the dude who had money on the table and got up and walked out.

*Continued in "Writers" - Part 4"

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Starbuck & Kay

Just a picture of two of my boys sleeping in a sunbeam.

"This pillow keeps moving."

Friday, January 9, 2015

"Writers" - Part 2

*Continued from "Writers" - Part 1

Three Moments in a (Screen) Writer's Career

There are several moments in an aspiring actor, writer, or filmmaker's career that one holds as significant.  As with pretty much everything, everyone's path to success in Hollywood is different.  Most are similar, to be sure, but some are downright unusual, unique, and/or uncanny.  There are always exceptions to whatever semblance of rules there might be out here, but for the most part, it's a struggle, struggle, struggle to succeed.

For the sake of this rant, I'll be completely ignoring those exceptions.  Just an FYI.

So, where was I?  Oh, yes... several moments... significant... yada yada.  Everyone's different.  That stated, there are three moments that are pretty much shared by every writer.

Moment One is the first time something a writer has written gets filmed.  No, not just filmed... but edited and shown.  Be it a short film, feature film (for those lucky ones), or web pilot, Moment One occurs the first time a writer watches something based on something he (or she) has written.  It's a great moment, this Moment One, but probably doesn't involve being able to pay the rent or even buy groceries.  It is purely a sensational moment, watching something that came from an imagination.  Bragging rights might be involved, but probably only among friends and family.

Yes, Moment One is a great moment.  Because it's probably the first time a writer says or thinks, "I'm on my way," and actually means it.

Moment Two is the first time a writer gets to play in the studio system.  Yes... Hollywood.  That so-called creative desert that every creative in the film industry wants to live in.  Now, playing in the studio system doesn't mean that writer is getting paid, but it does mean that someone has noticed.  Either noticed a screenplay that writer has written or noticed a short or indie feature made from that writer's script.  Someone noticed and brought that writer in.  Maybe for a coffee.  Maybe for a chat.  Maybe for...whatever.

Yes, Moment Two is a great moment.  Because it's probably the first time a writer says or thinks, "I'm going to make it," and actually believes it in an objective manner.

And then there's Moment Three.  The first time a writer gets paid.  And I don't mean, "Oh, here's $500 for your indie feature script" paid.  I mean, "Go pay your rent for a while" paid.  Paid.  Not only has the writer been noticed, but the writer has been commissioned.  Oddly enough, this doesn't necessarily even mean they're going to make the movie.  This doesn't even mean that - if they do make the movie - the writer gets any credit.  What it does mean is that the writer has, officially and finally, moved from being an amateur to being a professional.

Personally, I can't imagine there being a much better moment than Moment Three.  But I'm subjective that way.

I need to back up.  What do these steps to becoming a professional entail?  That's easy: acting like a professional.  I wrote in Part 1 that the jump from the indie world to Hollywood results in the most casualties.  And why, pray tell, is that?

That's easy: because a lot of motherfuckers can't act like professional.  As soon as there's a system to work in, they can't hack it.  Someone's telling a writer what to do?  What the fuck?  THAT'S NOT HOW WRITERS OPERATE!'

Wrong, dipshit.  That's exactly how writers operate.  What that's not is how "writers" operate.

"Writers" vs. Writers

There is, admittedly, quite a bit of freedom at the amateur level.  You can do things at your own pace, at your own intensity, by your own design, and without having to consult anybody else.  This freedom can be as creatively inspiring as it can leave an aspiring writer "spoiled for choice."  To be quite blunt, how one deals with this freedom is definitely the first sign - and probably the largest sign - of whether or not one will be a writer... or a "writer."

The writer will be disciplined and - holy shit - write stuff.  They will start earning their carpal tunnels while the "writer" will start talking about writing stuff.  These "writers" are everywhere in the film industry.  EVERYWHERE.

But, quite a few make it to that Moment One.  A short gets made.  Sometimes, a feature gets made.  Whichever, it's typically pretty bad, but at least it's on-screen.  Above, I might have downplayed Moment One a little bit, but I assure you... the first time, it's pretty fucking awesome.  And everything that happens after this point leads directly to a Moment Two.

Which is when a lot of the people you thought were writers actually reveal themselves to be "writers."  In my experience, this batch of "writers" are the hardest to spot.  They'll seem busy, that's for sure.  There will be meetings after meetings.  But you'll start to notice that they're not actually writing anything anymore.

Let me pause there for a moment.  Some of the "writers" at this level simply realize (or should realize) that they shouldn't be writing.  These are people who wrote a script in order to have something to direct, have something to act in, or have something to produce.  Whatever the reason, this particular subset of "writers" are otherwise competent filmmakers (or actors) who should be pursuing their respective competency.  Yes, they'll be hurt and upset when it's pointed out to them that they're horrible writers, but the best ones will ultimately get over it and become professionals at their preferred craft.  The rest... they get the quotations around whatever they claim they actually want to do.

As for the rest of the "writers" at this level... they're very hard to spot.  In fact, they're pretty much only spotted when it comes to approaching Moment Three.

*Continued in "Writers" - Part 3

"Writers" - Part 1

Yes, that's with quotations.  "Writers."  Fuck 'em.  Can't stand 'em.  I wish they'd all die and go to Hell.  Well, the Hell part, yes... the death part is case-by-case.

I work in an interesting industry.  One in which expressed aspiration sometimes seem to have as much value as actual productivity.  "Directors," "Actors," and "Writers" galore out here.  I can't speak to the first two, so I won't.  But "writers?"  Oh, yeah.  Deal with those fuckers on a near-daily basis.

Let me clarify.  On the one hand, we all know what writers are.  They're people who get paid to write, write diligently, and are (for the most part) considered professionals.

"Writers," on the other hand, are rank amateurs.  They talk (probably a lot) about writing.  They talk (probably a lot) about their ideas, but skimp on the details lest another "writer" in the crowd try to steal them.  They have rarely (if ever) been paid to write.  And they're anything but professional.

Full disclosure: I'm a little irate at the moment.  I'm also a little sick (winter cold), in pain (shoulder injury), and probably inebriated (I take that back... this is not a full disclosure).  I suppose I could gather my thoughts a little and then express them in a coherent manner, arranged logically for sake of argument, and concluded with a convincing message... but, nah...

Instead, I'm going to back up and tell you a couple of stories of times I've had to deal with "writers."

But, First: Independent Filmmaking

Thanks to the anti-Hollywood rhetoric that's been floating around the past couple of decades, everyone should by now be aware that there are two dominant filmmaking entities in the United States.  The aforementioned Hollywood (the "evil" studio system) and the lesser-known, but highly regarded independent scene.

These days, Hollywood vs Indies is usually presented as a creative battlefield.  Hollywood, being predominantly a money-making institution, is typically derided as making too many sequels, doing too many remakes (or reboots), and altogether being too afraid of creating truly original product.  Independents, being predominantly "in it for the art," are hailed as the exact opposite.  In the tech world, innovation is commonly found in small start-ups.  I suppose in the film world, the same is true.

But here's the rub... people have careers in Hollywood.  They're paid for what they do, because their products sell.  I apologize for the gross generalization, but the dream of every independent filmmaker is to be paid for what they do.  Which requires being in Hollywood.

So, inevitably what happens?  Those who show a serious desire to make movies for a living move to Los Angeles (or other film hubs, but let's stick with the big one, shall we?).  Almost invariably, they get stuck in the independent world.  It's obviously more nuanced than what I'm going to state, but the independent world is where the cream-of-the-crop floats to the top!  Eventually.  And I do mean eventually.

It is a long, slogging process.  Writing projects, making projects, distributing projects.  Usually for no money and no (immediately obvious) reward.  It is in the indie world that budding filmmakers learn the politics of filmmaking.  Sure, they were taught camera, sound, even acting in film school, but most film schools leave their students with no inkling of the legal landscape, the financial landscape, or even the landscape-landscape (seriously, watching newbies drive around Los Angeles can be hilarious).

Basically, it is the indie world that budding filmmakers learn to be professional filmmakers.  Well... it used to be, anyway.

See, with the increasing egalitarian nature of the process of filmmaking, there's less and less need for filmmakers to behave as the elite filmmakers (their own purported heroes, idols, and mentors, I might add).  One can now grab a camera, a few friends, some cheap sound gear, and an Apple computer and go make a movie.  No paperwork (including, sometimes, no script!), no restrictions, and no one to answer to.  Bad habits are picked up, quickly, and no punishment for said bad habits ever arises.

Until, anyway, these new-indie filmmakers try to make a studio film.  Which involves lawyers, agents, executives, and a whole slew of people, laws, and institutions that require paperwork.

It is no accident that the jump from the indie world to Hollywood results in the most casualties.  Figuratively speaking, of course.

Why did I tell you all of that?  To set the stage for this discussion of "writers."  Quite possibly the worst of the independent filmmakers.

Side note: I'm actually not one to refer to writers (of any kind) as filmmakers.  But let's just do it to keep this simple.

*Continued in "Writers" - Part 2

Sunday, January 4, 2015

On the Horizon...

2015 is bound to be an interesting year.  Not because stars are aligned or anything that attributable to nonsense, but because... well... shit's gotta happen or nothing's going to happen.

See, at the end of the 2012, I co-wrote and co-starred (don't ask) in a pilot for a web series and - as randomness would have it - it generated a lot of interest.  Enough that I decided to leverage that interest into funding for the actual web series.  Long story short, a few legal issues popped up, compounded by unreasonable partnerships, so the web series went away.  Which is probably a good thing, given that it spares the world from the image of me running across a rooftop, long-hair flowing, carrying an M-14 rifle.

Regardless, the experience taught me that I have the capability of creating projects that people are willing to fund.  So, I went to work on setting up an entity that would allow me to chase investors and talent, and by August of 2013, said entity was cocked, locked, and ready to rock.  After having done two short films and the aforementioned web pilot in 2012, I supervised two short films in 2013 (one of which was done on 35mm film), and began work on my first full-length, feature film.

In 2014, I filmed three short films (which will be ready soon) and continued developing the feature.  I took a five-week vacation in Australia and upon returning to the United States, the partner in the feature film decided to drop out.  I have no idea why, but I've long quit trying to figure out why people flake out in Hollywood.  It happens, happens often, and there's really no point in questioning it.  Another long story short, I had to set off on another adventure: figuring out just what the Hell we were going to film in 2015.

Needless to say, I am over-fucking-whelmed.  While I have excellent filmmaking personnel in place, surviving in this insane industry requires so much more than just making the damned movies.  And while I have four extremely patient investors and financiers, thriving in this inane city requires so much more than just having the damned money.

Not only am I this production entity's primary writer, I am also its primary producer, its only developer (also known as an "executive producer" in this town... which sounds more important than just "producer," but is actually a demotion of sorts), and the entity's sole full-time employee and business manager.  I'm not complaining... just pointing out that this is what happens when one has little operating capital.  It's a fact of life and one I'm dealing with as well as I can.

It's a high-wire act, as you can imagine.  And, this year, I either make it to the other side, or I fall into the abyss.

Whichever happens, it'll be spectacular.