Monday, September 19, 2016

From the Brim to the Dregs


This blog post first appeared, in a slightly different form, in my e-newsletter I WAS BIGFOOT'S SHEMP, which you can subscribe to in my sidebar.

My day life is keeping my night life at bay, so I have not had much to report from the screenwriting world.  A movie I wrote, ALONE IN THE GHOST HOUSE, is now loose in the world and available on various platforms.  It is a "found footage" movie I sometimes forget I worked on because it came together so quickly, and because I wrote more of a long outline for it than a full-formed script.  I think it will surprise people because the spine is tighter than a lot of found footage films and when the dominoes start falling it hangs together pretty nicely.  But watch it and let me know what you think.

I had my 50th birthday two weeks ago, which I took off from work this year to contemplate my mortality.  I went to see SUICIDE SQUAD in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon and was the youngest person at the multiplex and the only one at the screening, a weird feeling.  As a guy who owned a signed copy of John Ostrander's SUICIDE SQUAD #1 (that he signed for me at a Muncie Indiana comic book shop in the 80s) I didn't hate the movie like a lot of hardcore fans but didn't like it much either, with my invisible keyboard in my head righting all of the mistakes.

Regrets at 50?  One is that I sold that signed SUICIDE SQUAD #1 when I was broke.  Otherwise, a lot to think about but more good than bad.  Only about two years ago neither of my kids were married, I had no grandkids, I did not live on five acres in the country, and I did not know I had Type II Diabetes and thus was 65 pounds heavier.  Adding and subtracting everything, the sum total was all good.

For many years I have used my birthday to think about whether I want to keep screenwriting another year.  My brother thinks this is a foolish exercise but I think it is as good a time as any to measure the barometer of my work.  A lot of good has happened this year in meeting people and making connections--including a possible appearance at the Chicago Horror Society later this year, after dropping in on Henrique Couto's BABYSITTER MASSACRE screening a month ago--but a lot of projects have bottomed out.  I have turned down some work lately, including the sequel to a movie I wrote some years ago, but several other projects I thought were sure things haven't taken off.  I got booted off a project not that long ago, which has rarely ever happened (one memorable time I found out when my name disappeared off the IMDB listing) and since then I have had to do a lot more rewrites than I am used to.

I don't think it's about regaining my mojo, it's more about finding the projects that need the mojo I have.  I'm about 15 years down the road from my first screenplay sale, have a dozen movies out and have sold more than 30 screenplays (I need to actually stop and count this more carefully) which is a good track record by any standard in the industry.  So I can be selective about what I want to do next and in what form that might take.

In the meantime, my August pick for my book club is NINEFOX GAMBIT by Yoon Ha Lee.  Basically this is about a soldier tasked with the suicidal mission of re-taking an impenetrable fortress overrrun by heretics--all while psychically linked to the ghost of a genocidal general--but the world-building is so dense and baroque it took me at least thirty or forty pages before I understood a sentence of what was going on.  But when I got into its strange rhythms I found it to be a really good military-flavored sci fi novel.

I've fallen into a bit of a show hole for television, but did enjoy FORTITUDE until it kind of unraveled at the end; by and large, about a murder that Stanley Tucci investigates at a very remote Arctic town.  Waiting for new seasons to start, IRL and on TV.

Talk again soon.

2 comments:

JennTeacher said...

Deep thoughts have a way of showing up on birthdays. I hope you had them with a side of cake.

John Oak Dalton said...

Naturally--thanks!