Monday, May 29, 2017

The Carriage of the Spirits

This post originally appeared, in a slightly different form, in my e-newsletter I WAS BIGFOOT'S SHEMP which you can find out all about by subscribing in the sidebar of this blog.

The iron sparked and smoked and gave away in a gush of water just as I was lowering it to my dress shirt--if that wasn't a sign to get off the hamster wheel for a few days, I don't know what sign I need.

So I am taking a long Memorial Day weekend, drinking a pot of coffee by myself and trying to heroically finish SIX FOUR by Hideo Yokoyama, a 600-page Japanese detective novel that is mostly about the internal mental struggle of a press officer whose daughter has gone missing just as an old kidnapping case heats up.  And by heats up, I mean at about page 400.  But it is so different from anything I know about style-wise that I want to keep reading.

But my movie which I codenamed TWICE SHY is cooking right along.  It is actually on its third title and I like the third one the best.  I did three drafts and I think it is finally pronounced done and going into production at the end of July.  I got some pretty cool news about it last night that makes me want to find that GIF where Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach all give each other the side-eye in THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY but I don't even know where to find GIFs.

TWICE SHY was the first script I sold that was written entirely in my new house, at this little desk in the corner where a big animal vet used to do his work, starting in the late 1950s.

Everybody thinks that if they can't be the next Michael Tolkin they will just write a bunch of SyFy movies but it is harder than anyone thinks.  Get somebody to hire you, then wait to see if that director can get the movie made, then wait and see if a distributor will buy it, then wait and see if you can actually find it somewhere.  There is o such thing as "just" making b-movies.  I invite anyone to try it who thinks so.

When I was visiting with the Horror Society in Chicago a few weeks ago somebody asked me about writing spec scripts. The truth is I think I wrote one or two very early on--in the late 90s, in longhand on a yellow legal pad, and then laboriously typed them into MovieMagic on a big PC squatting in the corner of the study--but I have never sold one and not very many people seem to want them.  Directors or producers already have ideas, and titles, and sometimes posters, and sometimes street dates, before they have shooting scripts.

That being said, it is summer, and the mind turns to writing a spec script, as I don't have anything else to work on right this second.  It is usually summer when I think about it, except last summer when I just moved to a place in the country and had a bunch of farm living to get used to.  I have mentioned before that I have a little dystopian story I want to tell, but who wants to read that kind of stuff now when you can just look out the window?  Plus I watch THE HANDMAID'S TALE on Hulu every week (which might as well be titled #Pence2020), and have nightmares after every time, so why would I do that to somebody else?

But I have a few more ideas, so we will see what happens.

Thanks for sticking with me.  Enjoy Memorial Day weekend.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

That Night We Split A Rattlesnake

The following blog post came from my e-newsletter I WAS BIGFOOT'S SHEMP, which you can subscribe to in the sidebar to get sneak previews of what I'm working on.

A week or so ago I was in Chicago for Trash Movie Night, where I screened JURASSIC PREY for some friendly fans. I truly enjoy visiting this group of people, even when I feel a little trickle of fear every time they cheer loudly when somebody gets murdered.  The Q&As are always good, and I even had a guy say, "I gave this movie a bad review on Amazon, but when I watched it here, I liked it better."  Nothing wrong with that.

JURASSIC PREY the movie keeps getting dynamited out of the ground after a long time just like the lead dinosaur in the story.  There is now a U.K. release, and naturally the box art looks nothing like the stop motion rubber dinosaur inside.

The British website Nerdly, which rated PETER ROTTENTAIL one of the Top Ten Worst Horror Movies of All Time, didn't hate it.  And the Schlock Pit liked it even better than hate.

On the new movie front, the secret project I titled TWICE SHY for the purposes of this e-newsletter is percolating right along for a July production shoot.  I am going to try and visit the set and may even be put to work as a PA.  I have tried in the past to PA for some of my movies and tell the director not to mention who I am so I can hear the actors say truthfully whether the script sucks or not.  I've never been able to pull it off long enough to find out for real and for true.  Having a television production background is handy for these things and also helps me realize what might take a million dollars to do in a movie that, politely, doesn't have that kind of budget.

For April my secret e-newsletter Book Club is Daniel Pyne's CATALINA EDDY.  This is three novellas, loosely threaded together, that represent different time periods and genres of crime writing.  The first, The Big Empty, is set in the 50s and is about a P-I trying to figure out who killed his estranged wife; the second, Losertown, is set in the 80s and is about a prosecutor trying to catch a big-time drug dealer; and the third, Portugese Bend, is a modern thriller about a paralyzed detective and a crime scene photographer teaming up to uncover the true identity of a murderer.  The political side is sometimes painted in broad strokes, but the California noir is pretty cool.

Good luck with your own ongoing projects, and see you soon.