Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Last Word, or Maybe Second to Last

I am battling a migraine today and thus can hardly type, but I wanted to point out that screenwriter Bill Cunningham offered a concise response to my post about the b-movie writer's status in the world over at his site here. I'm surprised how much response this post has received via email, from fellow travelers. I suspect this is a sore spot with a lot of screenwriters; not only that colleagues think this part of the industry is so easy to do, but that the layperson thinks that as well.

For the record, I have never banged out a screenplay in a weekend. Though once I did a rewrite in three days.

I have never been drunk or high when writing. Though I like an RC Cola to get me through the rough spots.

I have thus far been able to stick with my long-ago promise to never use a psuedonym and be proud of everything I do. Though I do have one picked out--Buster Sampson.

Trying not to think about some other projects that might be right on the horizon. More later--until then, give me a shout at

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Hell Up In Farmland

The National Weather Service has issued a Heat Advisory. Hard to breathe, sun bearing down. Like our ice storm, only the opposite. Note that Dante's hell was cold. As Chester B. Himes said in The Heat's On, it was too evil to love.

I got an email from Mark Polonia about cutting Black Mass and he mentioned that it was "unsettling." This means something from a guy whose first movie featured a guy pooping out a knife.

I've been talking b-movies with some colleagues lately and sort of came to realize that a lot of people think that b-movie writing will always be there as a fallback for them if their sequel to The Seventh Seal falls through. Kind of like those annoying people who say they are going to take up writing or painting when they retire from their "real jobs," which to me is like saying I'll take up doctoring or lawyering after I retire from my "real job." It's not just sitting there waiting for you to do if you deign to do it. Some parts of it are craft, natch, but there is a part of it that's fire. Trying to grasp my muse again lately points that up.

I can't offer advice like the people who are great writers in the many great, great links in my sidebar, but one thing I will say is that even b-movies are work, and even b-movies cost money. That's why I think as long as you have to expend your energy writing them, you should try to make them the best you can. If one thinks that writing direct-to-video fare is so easy, I invite them to try it; then get somebody to buy the script, then get somebody to make it, which usually means somebody else invested their money, then get somebody else to put it on the shelf, then go down to your video store and look at it sitting there. Then you'll know.

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Friday, July 22, 2005

King of the Fire Trolls

I was bummed to hear one of my favorite comic book artists, Jim Aparo, died. I would put up a link here but there are so many good ones I would just suggest googling him and see what you find.

I learned from Mark Polonia that about an hour of Black Mass, the WWII supernatural thriller I penned for them, is in the can. This week I also sent off two hours of behind-the-scenes footage I shot with my trusty Digital 8 and a fifteen minute interview I conducted with myself for the behind-the-scenes doc.

I found out from Christopher Sharpe that he ended up with a THREE HOUR rough cut of Sex Machine, a script I rewrote over, which alas he will have to wait for the eventual director's cut to screen. I believe he wants to get it down to about 90 minutes.

I talked for about an hour to Michael Noens yesterday about Microcinema Fest 2005, coming up in two weeks and change. I will be presenting some workshops again this year, this time with Wally Fong of ReWind and perhaps one or two others. I'm sure there will be lots of stories and photos of the festivities here next month.

Until later, give me a shout at

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Days of Wine and...Well, Wine.

My kitchen is starting to look like a backwoods distillery; this Sunday I bottled my long-babied Carmenere wine, which had already met with good reviews when I filched a few glasses out of the carboy earlier on; then I started putting together my next batch, a Barolo. In the meantime, a guy I worked on "Small Town Scenario" with asked if I had ever made any wine from handpicked fruit, and I answered I hadn't because I had never been able to gather up five pounds of fruit at once. He promptly showed up with five pounds of gooseberry, and now two gallons of gooseberry wine is burbling in a plastic bucket in the corner. Plus now my wife is using one of my one-gallon carboys to make something that I am afraid is called a Cherry Bang.

One might wonder where the discussion of my summer spec is. It's odd looking back at my post of just a short time ago, where I said I woke up and saw it all set out before me. That was good for about ten pages, then I woke up and looked and it all seemed like sawdust on the floor. Too many other things have crowded in, and the muse flitted up into a tree. I hope I can coax her down soon.

Until then, give me a shout at

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Harry Potter and the Half-Bloodshot Eyes

My daughter is in the background cooking away at the new Harry Potter book. This is one of those pop culture phenoms, perhaps one of the few, that I have missed the boat on, and when I see the huge phonebook-thick tomes I'm not sure I can ever get on the bandwagon. I know I am a traitor to my nerd kin for saying this, but I actually dozed off during the first two movies. Perhaps it was because they were out over the holidays, always a time for overtaxing. The third one I stayed wide awake for, so I have to say it's my favorite. My daughter reports it is no patch on the books.

Thus my daughter was there at the stroke of midnight Friday to get the copy I prepaid for, along with a thousand or so other people. You know, say what you want, but when you get a thousand everyday people together all excited about a book these days, that's pretty effing cool.

Two or three possible projects floating on the horizon, just have to reel 'em in. Until then, I'm at

Monday, July 18, 2005

Monday Updates

The selections for Microcinema Fest 2005 in Chicago are up. More here.

I ran into my cousin David Lee Dalton this weekend, and he reminded me of his band's website here. I've listened to their album but have never been to any of their shows, as I suspect I would be mistaken for an undercover cop.

Speaking of family, I keep meaning to put a link to this interesting invention my brother-in-law created and marketed here. At least go to see pictures of my neice and nephew.

Until later, give me a shout at


Family and friends at the Chocolate Moose in Farmland, after the premiere of "A Postcard from Farmland," the short I DPd, shown to a packed house (for a town of 1400 people) next door at the community center. Note my daughter's prom date taking our order, proof that he was still alive contrary to rumor. Yes, that chocolate malt was as good as it looks. More at Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Day I Killed Myself

I have been wanting to write about my acting turn in BLACK MASS for a while but hadn't been able to think of how to do it without getting a lot of unwanted hits to my site, not unlike John Polonia's fear of what might happen after he rather haphazardly ordered German Army props and material from poorly-vetted websites. I think he is still keeping his eyes peeled in case the FBI busts in with a one-way ticket to Gitmo. Suffice to say, to confound the search engines, let's just say I was slated to play a Bad Guy soldier, and this is a World War II movie, so do the math.

Loyal readers may remember my star turn as Bigfoot in the stunning denouement of AMONG US, where I stood on a box and channeled my inner sasquatch to attack Bob Dennis, Hunter Austin, and Jon McBride in the van as they were trying to escape the seige at the cabin. In BLACK MASS I will be more recognizable, as a Bad Guy soldier who startles our loyal troops as they try to creep up on a Bad Guy factory deep in Eastern Europe.

I'll say this, at least I had the buzz haircut for the part, as opposed to certain other members of the cast who had to wear hairnets (Years and years ago, as I have mentioned before at this humble site, I was an extra in the movie HOOSIERS, shot nearby. Featured extras had to line up and get whitewalled and flat-topped in true army fashion, a shock to my college sensibilities--and, of course, you can't even see me in the final product).

In BLACK MASS, our stalwart protagonists come up on some weird scenes of devastation and one solitary Bad Guy soldier stumbling through the creepily-quiet woods. Although they shout for him to halt, he brings the gun up--and shoots himself in the head.

I tried to practice conveying fear and horror, and I didn't shave that day, but that's as far as I got as far as getting into character. But I will tell you, putting on a Bad Guy jacket and helmet will give you the creeps, though. If you have played a lot of "Axis and Allies" like I have, you know how close a call it could have been. It makes you stop and think.

This kind of chilling feeling was mirrored the next day when we draped a Bad Guy flag over the altar in a Catholic church. It makes you feel kind of queasy seeing it up there, and the Polonia Brothers hurried to get the shot and get it down. And these guys are hard to faze, believe me.

But no matter how much I thought about the philosophical side of it, I couldn't help but think that somebody (like these guys) will snitch a screen grab of me with a gun in my mouth and caption it something like "The screenwriter realizes what he's done and exacts personal justice."

We will let the audiences decide when they see my "Alfred Hitchcock" appearance in this one. Until then, give me a shout at

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Holla Back

My pal Tom Cherry has a nice write-up of the "Postcard from Farmland" video here.

I haven't done a meme for a while, but I found one I liked at writer Paul Guyot's site. Here it is, with answers off of the top of my head:

1 - Imagine it’s 2015. You are visiting the library at a major research university. You go over to a computer terminal (or whatever it is they use in 2015) that gives you immediate access to any book or journal article on any topic you want. What do you look up? In other words, what do you hope somebody will have written in the meantime?
Hopefully my tell-all biography.

2 - What is the strangest thing you’ve ever heard or seen at a conference? No names, please. Double credit if you were directly affected. Triple if you then said or did something equally weird.
One time I was at a conference at Notre Dame and I tripped on the sidewalk, messing up my dress pants. I let loose a cloud of invective and stood up to find myself face to face with a priest. Triple points, and another lap in the Lake of Fire!

3 - Name a writer, scholar, or otherwise worthy person you admire so much that meeting him or her would probably reduce you to awestruck silence.
I don't get starstruck, but maybe Bill Clinton. If my wife was not with me, that is.

4 - What are two or three blogs or other Web sites you often read that don’t seem to be on many people’s radar?
I don't know what's on people's radar, but a few blogs new to me that I have been reading lately and haven't yet added to my sidebar include:

Give me a yell at

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Other Shoe

I was pretty nervous when I went to the premiere of the short I DP'd, "A Postcard from Farmland," in my small town's community center Friday night. When you write b-movies it's pretty much a given that there is a cadre of foes out there eager to sharpen their knives and turn the spit, no matter how good or bad the project may be. But something like this, which I shot as a love letter to my humble home, is something entirely different. I was a bit shocked to see the room nearly standing room only with more than fifty people on hand (I was expecting a tenth of that), including a few loyal readers of this little blog (thanks Tom and Tim!)! It seemed to be very well received, I thought. You can see photos from the premiere, and a summary, here.
Otherwise, clip-clopping away on a new spec, and fishing around for another project. Until later, I'm at

Friday, July 08, 2005

Rotting Fruit or Roses?

The short I DP'd "A Postcard from Farmland" will be shown at the Community Center in my little town tonight at 7 p.m. We will be retiring for drinks at the soda fountain next door after. There will be a twenty minute "Behind the Scenes" segment and then the ten-minute short shown. Hopefully the editing favors me and I don't look like too much of a jackass. More at

Will keep working through the weekend on my annual Summer Spec Script That Nobody Will Ever Want To Read, season three, the one that woke me up at five a.m. yesterday.

Until later, give me a shout at

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Rusty Wheels

Every summer I try to write a spec completely for myself; like my alternate future sci-fi which hinged on the political career of Aaron Burr, and last summer's modern dress/original prose adaptation of an obscure Shakespeare play set in the dotcom boom and bust. These are usually met with thunderous silence, but at least once a year, with no compromises or input, I have written something that I--and perhaps I alone--would love to see on the big screen. I actually realized the other day that I have never worked on a project for somebody else that didn't already come with its own title, a curious thought.

Now the summer is almost half over and I am finally, finally creaking to life on this summer's spec after percolating on it for a while. My cat Pandora woke me up at 5 a.m. to be fed (and seriously, what's a true blog without a reference to a cat now and then?) and all of a sudden the pieces started clicking into place and I just stared at the ceiling and started thinking it through. I knocked out a few pages today and out of nowhere it all seems to be sitting there in front of me. A pleasant feeling.

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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Back in the (Digital) Saddle Again

A lot of stuff happened when I was offline this time.

It's bad enough having American b-movie fans against me, and now the Italians are chiming in. At this Italian cinema blog is some commentary on the Sex Machine trailer, and Babelfish offered this translation, open to some interpretation:

...after the blog, the source more important seems to be John Oak Dalton and this is an alarm bell, we hope that someone from the high wide awake.

Thanks to Christopher Sharpe for the heads up on these European insights.

Fangoria put up a blurb about the new Polonia Brothers movie, now called BLACK MASS. Check it out here. How cool is it to be mentioned by name at the Fangoria site? When I was a teen all the hip kids read Fangoria, and all the nerds like me read Starlog. But I used to borrow my neighbor Ivan's copies all the time. His mother was Japanese, so he was loaded up on all the cool robot toys too. Ah, the good life.

A bunch of old ladies in my humble little town decided to get naked for a good cause. ABC news tells all here, but there are many other places on the 'net to read about it. I'm buying one!

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