Thursday, June 29, 2006

Road Trip With the Muse

Loyal reader JK writes:

Hey man. School is out and I'm home for the summer. Nothing going on except my freelance column and the occasional trip to see the girl. Basically, this is prime time to write. But I can't get going on anything. It's not like I don't have the time. It's like I sit down, tell myself I should be writing, and then I don't. And then I end up writing other writers and asking inane questions such as: How do you stay productive, even when you're busy?Thoughts?

I am the wrong person to ask right now because with my new job, and having a recent bout of pnuemonia, I've been away from the keyboard quite a bit lately. I've been there. I will be again. It's cyclical. There will be times that sparks fly from your keyboard. There will be times you will be bone-dry and not able to write a grocery list. There are always going to be hills and valleys. The trick is to start changing the sine curve; making the hills last longer and the valleys be shallower and shorter.

Your greatest foe is yourself; that awful pull to just read comics or watch the Colts game or do anything else but write, because that voice inside of you will keep telling you that nobody will read it, nobody will care, so why waste your time. And even when you have some modest measure of success the voice never quiets, and I suspect that if I asked my heroes William Goldman and Michael Tolkin they would say the same.

When I'm really stuck I try to change up what I do; listen to music I don't listen to, watch foreign movies, seek out new writers, try new things; hoping to dislodge what's stuck and start working again, even with that voice talking in my ear.

I hope this helps.

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Monday, June 26, 2006

I Shut My Eyes, The World Falls Dead

I got the first issue of a new magazine called Digital Content Producer and was excited to see my old bunkmate from Microcinema Fest 2004 in Rapid City, Miguel Coyula, gracing the cover. He made what I think is the greatest microcinema movie to date, Red Cockroaches. My most vivid memory of him is trying to convince him that he would get killed if he got out of the jeep and fed a sandwich to a bison in the back country of Custer State Park. When he becomes even more famous, I hope he remembers that I saved his life, more or less.

I was thumbing through a book at the library called The Sleaze Merchants and, lo and behold, found a chapter on Brett Piper, whose Bigfoot costume I shemped briefly in the stunning denouement of AMONG US, the Bigfoot epic I penned for the Polonia Brothers currently airing on the Space Network in beloved Canada.

If I find myself one day in either of these publications, I will know I have truly made it.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Sex Machine in the Windy City

SEX MACHINE is scheduled to close out--before it closes down--Microcinema Fest 2006 in Palatine, Illinois. See the full story here--and join me in the Windy City for the showing!

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

More Feed Your Head

My recent BOOK BEAT column for Pomp and Circumstantial Evidence, the magazine of the Magna Cum Murder Mystery Conference:

Crackling police yarn features an aging cop who may or may not have made a critical error on a pre-DNA-era murder case, now trying to make it right when the alleged murderer gets released on a technicality. A fresh killing, in the style of the previous murder, complicates matters further. Street-smart storytelling and an engaging plot keeps the storytelling galloping along, holding together from opening page to endflap.

DRAMA CITY by George Pelecanos
Hard-nosed prose highlights this gray-shaded tale of a recently released prisoner, and a troubled parole officer, both trying to stay on the right side of the fence in the face of brutal urban warfare in the streets of Washington, D.C. At the apex of the triangle is a pair of rival drug-dealers whose turf war spills into both the leader characters’ lives. Pelecanos has a teeth-clenching, staccato style, but well-drawn characters give his writing a pleasing fullness.

Evan Hunter is perhaps better known by his psuedonym Ed McBain, the author of the 87th Precinct novels, a long-running series of well-received police procedurals with a large ensemble cast. Hunter typically reserves his given name for more serious works, including this interesting erotically-charged thriller. A New York psychiatrist intervenes in a mugging and ends up caught up in a all-consuming affair with a dancer. The introduction of a stalker increases the stakes, and although the ultimate payout is a bit disappointing the novel remains an interesting character study.

Genuinely offbeat near-future noir has our tarnished hero, holding onto his ideals in a world rampant with genetically-altered animals and the insidious effects of a state-sponsored drug called Make, trying to solve a brutal murder and keep one step ahead of crooked cops trying to put him into cryogenic sleep. A sardonic mix of THE MALTESE FALCON and BLADE RUNNER with a good grasp of both genres.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I Am Not Alan Wyoming

I used to think Starlog and Fangoria were pretty cool; then I found Film Threat. Now they are even more cool because they reviewed SEX MACHINE right here.

I guess I pretty much missed the 14 Day Screenwriting Challenge while I was sick, but that's okay, as I've done the 21 Day Screenwriting Challenge a few times--it's called my career.

I noted I was misidentified as the writer of a couple of Polonia Brothers movies in some online commentary. Though I am always willing to take the blame and/or the credit where it is due I have a vow not to use a psuedonym (except during my porn star career). And I have stood by that vow so far. My only other screenwriting advice: don't do anything you're not proud of when it leaves your keyboard.

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Monday, June 12, 2006

Mailbag Redux

A Polonia Brothers fan writes in:

Hi John, I origionally was a fan of the film Blood Lake. Then I found this film called Canibal Campout with Jon McBride. I also have Woodechipper Massacre.

--Those are Jon's first two movies, done back in the 80s at the dawn of the home video era. I believe they were both shot on plain old SVHS. CANNIBAL is particularly disturbing. A lot of weird stuff went on when they shot it and one or more of the people have died since. WOODCHIPPER was intended to be a comedy and Jon has wanted to do a musical version of it in recent years. A few people in that went on to have careers in the business.

I really enjoyed the films and started doing research online.. this is where I found out about Polonia brothers. The 2 were somehow linked.

--True, SPLATTER FARM was a very notorious movie the Bros shot on SVHS when they were both still in high school. Jon heard about them and contacted them through their distributor (they had the same one at the time). The first one they did together was FEEDERS, which became one if the first SOV (shot on video) movies accepted by the Blockbuster chain. And they soldier on from there.

Yes My husband and really enjoyed Peter Rottentail and we tell all of our friends about it. I also enjoyed RazorTeeth. Splatter Farm is great, pretty twisted but I understand it now.

--Good then explain it to me!

I recently received Feeders 1 and 2 in the mail. I get them off ebay.

--Classics of their time!

Yes, i want to get Among Us.

--Thanks, I am very proud of that one. I had sold a few scripts to other producers up to that point but it was the first one that actually got made into a movie. I was kind of in a downturn right then and thinking about just quitting and reading comics with my spare time. I had a long heart to heart with Jon McBride around then. The Brothers had wanted to hire me to do a Bigfoot movie and Jon was trying to talk me out of it. After I spoke with him I decided just to write a comedic sendup of the entire b-movie industry. When I sent it to the Bros I assumed my career was over. But they liked it and saw a lot of their struggles in there. It has actually picked up a cult following and recently played on the Canadian Sci-Fi Channel, called Space. I actually flew out to Pennsylvania to help with the shoot and ended up playing the Bigfoot that attacks the van at the end. It probably turned out the closest to my original vision. And Jon McBride is great in it.

Do you or did you ever watch Mystery Science Theater 3000? That is great too!

--Hmm, are you saying there is a connection?

I will tell my sister and her boyfriend about you because they enjoy Polonia Brothers too…Peter Rotten Tail was so funny, I couldn't stop laughing at all. If fact my husband and I had to rewatch most of the movie because we were laughing and missed parts. Thanks for the website!

--We live to serve.

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Friday, June 09, 2006

The Dawg Pound

THE DA VINCI CURSE at Cannes? Strange but true!

The Horror Channel shows no love for THE DA VINCI CURSE, though they haven't seen it yet.

More playa hatas at the Fishcom Collective (?) review RAZORTEETH.

Now here's a brotha knows what's up: Cult of the Video Monkey at Chaotic Chronicles dishes on THE DA VINCI CURSE and even manages a shout-out to AMONG US. But where did this dude get his bootleg BLACK MASS from?

SEX MACHINE on the IMDB! You know what they say, you're not real until you're on IMDB.

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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Dead Center!

Cool poster, poached from Christopher Sharpe, for the Dead Center Film Festival premiere of SEX MACHINE in Oklahoma City. If you are out OKC way, check it out.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

From My Deathbed

I am rising from my sickbed to answer this email, from a distraught filmmaker:

I received a very negative review...Given this review, I am wondering if possibly you shared the same view of (it) being both "unbearable" and "laughable". I would actually feel better if you tell me that is the case, because I need to know if my skill level is so bad, I need to never do another production, because I just don't get it. Perhaps, you were just being kind to a newbie on his first review. You were balanced and fair, and I appreciate that more than you know. If I SUCK, tell me..I would appreciate..because it's obvious, others think so. I need to learn to STOP doing whatever terrible technique I'm doing. You might be interested in knowing that based on your review, I went out and bought a new 3CCD Panasonic camera...and it is quite an improvement. Please, lay it out for me, will you.

I think some of your stuff is a bit rough but you are on the right track. All you can do is keep on learning and improving and honing your craft. I have learned to have a tough skin. Some of the reviews of the direct-to-DVD features I have worked on have advocated my death and so on. I would throw myself off a building if I thought it held any sway over me. Note that having something that exists at all to be rented or purchased or screened is farther down the path than most people get.

I hope this helps.


Feel free to email me at or check out my reviews at

Friday, June 02, 2006

St. Elsewhere

Where have I been? Knocked out flat with double pneumonia. I'll be back later.

Until then, give me a shout at