Monday, April 30, 2007

Preproduction Postproduction And Brain Damage

I spent this last weekend masquerading as a filmmaker again, sort of. I was (officially) the behind-the-scenes videographer for my friend's production "We The Infallable." Mike Lawrence, my director buddy, who is also attending Columbia College, had to shoot his production 1 final. Unlike most projects that I have been a part of, or have heard about, Mike has run an incredibly tight ship, and has reinvigorated my faith in the world of Filmmaking.

That's not to say that the shoot was anything short of exhausting. We had a 17 hour day on friday finishing up preproduction. This involved a lot of moving tables and furniture and props around, and a whole lot of not actually being a "behind-the-scenes videographer" and a lot more of being a gopher and a peon. Saturday and sunday was the official production days.

He had organized a full cast and a full crew to shoot this short short. Being able to work on a semi-professional set, even as the annoying kid with the videocamera asking questions and taking notes, was quite an experience. It made me realize a lot of what I was missing in my filmmaking experience at LCC. It also made me realize that I am extremely happy being a writer. Being a director is a scary thing. Too much work, too much coordinating, especially if your producer is only marginally producing.

The general gist of We The Infallable is that the Devil is throwing a dinner party, and has invited six guests to break bread and sup with him. An Oil Tycoon, a Priest, a Politician, a Lawyer, a Young Millionare, and a Pornographer. At the real Last Supper Jesus said to his followers that "one of you will betray me." In "We The Infallable" the devil says to each of his honored guests that "everyone here will betray you." It's done in a very Kabuki style. Everything is very archetypical and very exaggerated but not parodied.

Mike kept talking about how he is excited about rattling chains with this story, and about making all these interesting and angering points. It occured to me on Sunday that what he is actually doing here is more Christian and more of a parable than what he thinks. He's created a very quintessential scene with very archetypical characters that we can understand and that we define as evil or as sinful and detrimental to society, and he has painted a picture using stories that we can understand and symbols that we can understand in order to make a point. I thought that was pretty interesting.

On Friday I pitched him my concept for this short story involving my diner world called "Interlude." He fell in love with it, and has optioned it to shoot next winter. Now that we are done with "We The Infallable" we are already entering preproduction for "Interlude." It occured to me today that I've done more "real" film work now than I ever did as a film major. We're aiming to shoot next winter.

I sent him an email with a bunch of attachments, covering the Interlude, other stories that take place in the diner, and a 10 page walk through of the diner so that he can get a feel of my vision. He sent the pitch to a Producer he met through a Practicum Film this year, hoping that the producer could suggest a possible Director of Photography. The producer, upon hearing the concept, offered to produce the film for Mike. This is exciting because the Practicum is pretty big time stuff over at Columbia. So as of now it seems that we have a writer a director, and more than likely a producer attached to the project. I'm going to continue posting updates here as I adapt the short story to film, and then definitely when we enter deeper into preproduction and post production.

The semester is almost over. Thank God. It feels like my brain is almost ready to seep out of my left ear. Just a little more push to make to get these heavy hits of homework done and then it is summer, and I can focus on what I want to.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

We're doing stylistic parodies in Fiction 2 right now. She's given us a really large packet of stuff to read. Then once that is read you have to pick a specific piece you read and use that style to write your parody to. I bypassed most of the reading for now (I'll prolly pick it back up later for the sake of recall) and decided that I was going to do the Bible stylistic parody. The piece that I have to rewrite in the style of the Bible is one of my college pantheon ideas where all the gods are meeting to discuss the coming year. I think it fits the style pretty well, and I can get fairly sidetracked in the explaining of the gods which I don't feel like I've done really yet at all.

I'm really excited that this semester is almost over. It's been a grueling kick in my butt, and I've got so much stuff that I want to work on and do over the summer, which I'm going to be able to do because I've actually got free time (even with classes).

Found an apartment up on the north side just past Loyola. It is gonna be nice, but I found out that there is no Upass offered at Columbia over the summer, so that is a fresh and LARGE expense that I wasn't planning on having to deal with. It's really nice, though, getting out of the south loop once and for all and starting to see this beautiful city that I live in from other angles. I know I don't plan on staying here once I'm done, but it'll be good seeing some more of the city, and actually making it something worth while. Hell, maybe I can get some stories from it.

Had a conference with Mort Castle, my Story In Graphic and Historical Fiction teacher, yesterday. I love being on the level where we chatted about class work for a few minutes and then just talked fiction in general, life plans, girlfriend (mine cause he is happily married) and the fact that I haven't submitted anything yet. Sometime today I've got to find a place to send Interlude out to maybe get published. I feel really good about that piece. It came out really easily, survived mostly on two edits, and Mort said it has a sort of Hemingway style to it, which made me grin ear to ear.

In my other conference with Layla Jokanovich, my fiction 2 teacher, she said that I've got a pretty good handle on using movement to actually move the piece, and it never feels like movement is stopping the flow of the story, and that it is a pretty sophisticated technique. She didn't like Interlude, which I thought was weird because Mort loved it. I'm going to go with Mort's opinion on Interlude. He's the one who's been nominated for a Pulitzer, a Pushcart, and Bram Stoker's several times, and has more than 300 credits to his name. Yeah. He has the credentials to have that sort of weight to swing.

Today is homework day. I keep putting it further and further off, but now I have to do it. It's really beautiful out and I want to go running, but I need to get work done first, and running on an empty stomach is not fun. I'll post again if I send anything out to be submitted, which I have to.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Peanuts and commonly misheard words

"He ate my peanuts."

Isn't that a fun line? I started a short story with it. Every time I read the short story I have to make sure that I put an extra emphasis on the diction of peanuTs (with an added emphasis on the uh sound). Twice now I've started the story with unwanted snickers of people thinking that the story is suddenly about fellatio and not the intended annoyances that come with overly large people on airplanes. While the first is definitely funny it isn't the desired outcome.

Brice Beckstrom. I think it is probably the best pulp super hero name i've ever heard. So I made him into my ubermensch. The billionare pilot Brice Beckstrom, saved from certain death by the radiative Dark power becomes the Pioneer. A man of boundless strength and endurance. Able to withstand the blows of bullets and defy the laws of gravity.

He's going to be a follow up character to the Hero of the Second City Trilogy (expect those finished by the end of summer (especially once the semester gets finished and I have time to work and research)).

Apartment hunting tomorrow. And Looking for a job potentially for over the summer. maybe I'll check the ALA district office.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A friend mentioned to me this idea the other day. He was saying how every college needs its own super hero team. This is in reference to the Marvel Civil War (which was more like a civil dispute, but that's for another time). It's spring now, and that means running season, which also means I'm going to be listening to American Gods in a marathon-like manner, because it is a spectacular audiobook, and a great excuse to keep going (though i can already quote most of it). So when he said that every college should have its own super hero team I started thinking, well hell, every college should have its own pantheon of gods.

So I started writing it.

It's turned into a pretty interesting short story. There are different factions within the gods. The sports gods, and the Greek (more like patron saints of the fraternities), there is the God of Beer, and there is the God of Good Grades, and then there is a demi-god (very Loki-esque) called the Procrastinator, who leaches off the worship of other gods, and is the arch-nemesis of Grades.

Right now I am working on a conversation between Grades and Beer. It seems that the sports gods are rather unsettled by the fact that Beer (who is the greatest of all the college gods (think about it)) is knuckling in on their territory with the advent of Beerpong.

I've got some friends coming down tomorrow to spend the weekend with me. We're gonna hit up a John Vanderslice concert (hopefully). I've got a ton of homework that I need to do, that I'm not doing... Figures that this is going to happen with the end of the semester.

If you're reading this, go check out the comic book, The Damned: Three Days Dead. It's a crime-noir set in the 20s with demons. Pretty good stuff.

Trying to finish the Hero vs Mr. X, the first novella in the book I'm writing called "Hero of the Second City." If I stick with it, I should have the first draft hammered out by the end of April, willing to push it into May if I need to because of homework...evil evil homework.


PS: Was searching around the internet when I should be working and stumbled across...

How bout dem apples?

Friday, April 06, 2007

Heard a great line in the movie The Lookout. Jeff Daniels tells the main character who has a hard time sequencing events to "go to the end." That as soon as you know where it is it's easier to figure out how it got there. So work backwards. I'm giving that a try in my writing this week because I seem to always get stuck when I'm writing fiction. I'll get two or three chapters into it and then BAM. it sucks I'm stuck.

I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. As of right now I am going to be graduating May of 08 (a 4 year (yeah I'm surprised too)). The thought is really inspiring and enlightening. I'm looking forward to grad school now, and to being able to hit th real world.

My plan is to go to Library School (UCLA is quickly climbed to the top of my list) and focus on youth and international librarianship. I have this crazy notion that I can impact the world through bringing libraries and information to the underpriveleged undeveloped nations. Knowledge is power, man.

Started my first story of completely unrelated material in Fiction 2 last week. It's nice because everything else that I have been working on ties into this idea of the Cineverse, and the mythos world that I've created, in some form or another. So all this year I've been working on stuff for that, with barely anything new or interesting. We did a Person Object Action experiment, where you take a random Person a random Object and a random Verb, and then write a story. I mostly ignored the verb part because nothing could really fit what I was thinking. the Person was Man and the object was Raft. The short story became about this guy forced to leave London on a transatlantic flight. He is going through the same emotional turmoil that I went through coming back from LA, and so he is too busy staring at the girl he is leaving in the airport (there was no girl in LA for me, just a good focus of emotion for this character) to notice that guys are arguing over Engine #3. So he gets on the airplane, they take off. Some jerk next to him eats his peanuts, but the main character is just too nice to really say anything about it. Suddenly, mid flight, the engine falls off, and the plane crashes. The main character manages to get an emergency raft and survive. He is floating in the middle of the ocean when suddenly the cart full of peanuts floats by and he finally gets his peanuts.

I'm thinking this may be the start of a series of short stories revolving around this character and his insanity. Could be interesting, a little crazy, and something unique. He has a really strong voice and a severe case of story telling ADD, managing to get off topic so many times.

So that's my writing in a nutshell.

I'm not going home for easter. It kind of has me bummed, but it'll be nice to have the apartment to myself for the weekend. Listen to my own music, watch tv when I want to, but turn it off when I want to. Maybe I'll smoke the hookah again.