Sunday, September 23, 2007

Chronicles 52 - Life in the fast lane

The multi-tasking continues. I've been working my butt off with the day job battling with new technology, wrestling with Beta code to prepare for a training I have to deliver in the US. Because it's so intense I'm having to get the bulk of my writing in on weekends but yesterday I took the day off and chilled, just couldn't face the keyboard anymore.

Positive developments: The actors gave the thumbs up to my play and after getting together for a play reading I just need to do a polish and we can start rehearsing in October. Seems that the play reading where we read a 3 minute extract of the play to a live audience went down very well and we've already got a mention in the press so that was a positive omen.

So now I'm back to the script assignment. I have to polish the character breakdowns for the producer and then rewrite the 2nd draft of the treatment once that's out of the way I should have a good solid foundation to write the first draft.

Now that play is done the trick now will be to juggle 2 scripts and the day job so my fiendish plan is that in the time period where I'm waiting for feedback on the assignment I work on the script for the New York producer.

In the meantime, parallel to all this I'm producing my rom-com, spinning all sorts of plates in the air. Essentially all the ducks are lined up in a row, I have a New York financier who can invest up to 85% of the budget, I have a US producer with a great track record, a respected director, a casting director ready to go out with offers and, via the director, an agent at one of the 'big three' agencies ready to help package the project.

It all hinges on two equity funds I'm waiting back on who could potentially fund 30-50% of the project but they've gone into radio silence. The exec producer was waiting to hear back last week but it's been all very quiet. Nothing new there, huh? A rush of excitement and endomorphins and moments where the fog clears and you see the vision, you can even, well almost, reach out and touch it and you get that feeling in your bones that, "Yes, this is finally going to happen", AND THEN this is followed by...silence, a state of absolute zero where even time and entropy go into 'dark side of the moon' mode... and then you think to yourself, will this EVER happen?

I sometimes feel like I'm on an asymptote. Yeah right, what the hell is that? It's a curve that curves towards a vertical axis and extends upwards (or downwards) but no matter how close it gets to the vertical axis it never touches it, it just keep on going onto infinity without ever making contact. That's what independent film making feels like to me sometimes, it's like living the Tantalus myth, you know the guy who is doomed for the rest of eternity to be tantalised by luscious fruits above him and pure water beneath him but when he reaches for either they recede.

Of course the solution to this is to apply more Eastern philiosophical techniques as espoused in the Upanishads, Puranas, the Bhagavad Geeta, Advaita Vendata, Zen etc...

In the Bhagavad Gita Krishna says to Arjuna "Your commitment is to action alone, not to the fruits of action. That must never be: you must not be motivated by the fruits of your actions. Yet you must not become attached to inaction".

Easier said than done of course :-)

I bought myself a whole bunch of classic films lately and I'm half way through A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE right now. Isn't that an AMAZING title? Wow. I also love the way Williams weaves it into the script and how the title is SO connected to the theme. Also love this interchange:

Blanche: What you are talking about is desire - just brutal Desire! The name of that rattle-trap streetcar that bangs through the Quarter, up one old narrow street and down another.
Stella: Haven't you ever ridden on that streetcar?
Blanche: It brought me here. Where I'm not wanted and where I'm ashamed to be.

Maybe Blanche should have read the words of the Buddha:

The Second Noble Truth - "Samudaya" - The arising of suffering caused by craving and DESIRE; desire for impermanent things to be permanent.

Ciow for now.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Chronicles 51 - Character is plot, plot is character

Spent the weekend researching the historical background of the drama assignment and writing out character profiles. The producer built that into the contract and even though it meets with an inner grown because my natural urge is to cut to the chase and write the script I'm glad it's in there.

Writing character profiles really does help not only in terms of clearly defining characters and their goals, motivations and arcs but in the process it also helps with plot problems. Essentially the more solid the foundation is in terms of character and plot before writing the first draft then the easier it will be. I always find dialogue easier but sitting down and mapping out plot and character involves more use of grey matter.

So I'm continuing with that again today which also takes me out of that whole waiting thing, well, not completely, but I always think that if you are writing a new project you are creating a new opportunity and you never know, the others may never manifest or may take a very long time but the project you are working on now could be 'the one', and as that lottery advert says 'it could be you'.

Ciow for now

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Chronicles 50 - Multi-tasking

I'm really multi-tasking at the moment. The previous weekend I worked round the clock to knock out the first treatment of the second historical assignment project. This then gave me a breather as the producer took about a week to read and prepare notes. In the meantime I took the opportunity to knock out the first draft of the play which is going on in January.

We actually had a play reading in front of an audience of a 3 minute extract from the play and because two of the actors weren't in town I had to do the reading. On the whole it went quite well except that I jumped a line and there was that interesting moment were I could see the look on the other actor's face and I knew that I'd made a mistake but I couldn't figure out what it was and somehow we got to the end. No retakes in the theatre unfortunately!

It was interesting just rehearsing a 3 minute piece I suddenly realized how much work it must be to rehearse a whole Shakespeare play. God knows how actors remember all that stuff and stay in character, it's unbelievable.

So in the lull where I'm waiting for feedback on the play I'm going back to the assignment. The producer thinks the treatment is a very good basis for the script and he loves the ending but he has some notes on Act 1 and pushing the mid-point further into Act 2. I'm doing a bit more research before I tackle the rewrite and will probably launch into the 2nd draft treatment on the weekend.

In the middle of this I have to project manage a big event coming up in the US re. my day job which makes things a bit busy to say the least! Help! Once the play goes into rehearsal then I have to bring another project into the mix which is the project with the New York producer. Main aim there is to write up a more detailed treatment and apply for dev. funding and also start writing the script.

Once the play is out of the way then at least I'm only juggling 2 creative projects on top of my day job! Two is do-able but with three I'll have steam coming out of my ears!

The short premiered in LA Shorts film fest last Sunday. Couldn't go there unfortunately but according to the director it went down very well and people were laughing out loud in all the right places which is great. Next screening is Austin, Texas.

In the meantime I'm waiting back on a Hedge Fund to partially finance my rom-com. According to the exec producer it looks positive but who knows? If they come through then coupled with the US fund I could be fully financed in October which means that we can go out with serious offers to cast and actually get taken seriously by agents. If the money is not there it's hard to get read OR know if you really have been read by A list talent. Anyway, the trick is not to wait and, as I've said before, create!, because you never know if it will ever happen and it's the journey not the destination etc etc ...

I got an email the other day from the producer who commissioned the three historical projects asking me to sign a CAA release form and send it off. This mega Hollywood director wants to read the script which is based on a true story. This guy has done movies at the level of Cameron or Bay so it's definietly an endomorphin shot getting that news but hey, you never know, it's still a lottery, of sorts.

Ciow for now

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Chronicles 49 - Yikes!

If you're still popping by and reading this blog thanks for sticking with me. At some point I will right a more comprehensive chronicle of all the activities since Cannes but I've just been too busy to blog.

I'm currently working on a treatment for my second commission. I'm contracted to do 2 drafts and 2 revisions by mid-December. Then I'm contracted to start my 3rd commission in mid-December and deliver end of March. Do-able since I can write fast once I have a structure to hang on to.

Trouble is things are getting busy on the day job as I prepare for presentations in Los Vegas in November and wil also have to go to the US again in October. In parallel I will have to finish the play (being staged in Jan 2008) in the next month or so. So my fiendish plan is to finish off the treatment and while the producer is reading the treatment I will work on the play and hopefully knock out the first draft, then I can go back to the script commission. Then at some point I have to write the script for another producer that I met in New York. We've signed a collaboration agreement and the aim is a first draft before Cannes. So in order to avoid a panic I'm trying to take it one day at a time. Make sure I just put the hours in and hope that it will all come together in time. Hence the 'Yikes'!

It gets even more crazier because in parallel I am putting the pieces together for my rom-com in order that it goes into production, co-ordinating all the parties involved which is now a growing list of producers, executive producers, financiers and a casting director. There's progress here and it's encouraging but it's not in the can just yet so this is also a case of staying in the now and going step by step. Having tried to get this particular project off the ground for about 6 years I really see now that it is a miracle that any film gets made. If I'm lucky we may have the finnace grounded in order that we can go out with offers to cast which, if the finance is in place will hopefully be taken seriously by the agencies. Bottom line we need top names. Rom-coms are no low-budget horror flicks, with rom-coms you need 'names'.

More progress on the short film, we've been offered distribution (to TV channels worldwide) and as well as LA Shorts film festival we've also been selected for Austin film festival. Fingers crossed for Sundance.

Thanks for checking in. Back to the treatment.