We have the technology!
Monday, March 29, 2004 It's Bad Timing...
...but fuck it. Vegas Baby! We leave the desert of the real for the fantasy-land desert sometime this evening (assuming our transportation issues get resolved) and will hopefully make it into Sin City before the clock tolls Tuesday. First order of business is a gin and tonic the size of my head and then some dice. And a goddamned chili dog.
I had a dream two nights ago that I got my cell phone bill and it was $500. So last night my psyche decided to one up itself and I dreamed that the cell phone bill was over $2500. (Is the cost of communication that high?) In the dream the people at a hot-dog stand refused to sell me a chili dog because of my huge cell phone bill. I'm half tempted to take a walk to Pinks and rectify the situation, but a 4 hour drive on a tummy full of Pinks is probably not the best idea...posted by JMV | 3/29/2004 10:20:00 AM
Friday, March 26, 2004 If I Told You I'd Have to Kill You
Had an interesting night tonight. A friend had an "in" to a super-seceret preview screening of the big Summer Blockbuster from 20th Century Fox: I, Robot! We showed up on the Fox lot and took a seat in the small screening room, then the director Alex Proyas (The Crow, Dark City) came out to introduce the film. He warned us that it is an extremly early cut, and that most of the VFX are not finished yet and that we would have to "use out imaginations" he then asked us, as a personal favor, to not talk about the film, especially on the internet. I respect his efforts and won't go into any details, but I feel I have to say a FEW things about this film!
It was tough to judge the movie, as it is a Summer Blockbuster "eye candy" film and none of the eye candy was done. But from what I saw I can say it looks very cool. There are a couple of really cool action sequences that will be really jaw dropping in the finished product. I'm a big fan of the source material and the film did a good job of capturing the feel of the Asimov world. The story deals with the failure of the "Three Laws of Robotics" and the dangers of unchecked technological advancement. I had the thought leaving the theater that millennial American cinema is really creating the mythology of the future. This film sits squarely before the events of The Matrix, and could easily lie on the same timeline. But I, Robot deals more with the rise of our Robot masters, which we don't really see that often. We get a lot of humanity rebelling against the robot society (The Terminator, The Matrix, etc) but not a whole lot (the Animatrix excluded) of HOW the robots take power. Which really goes a long way to illustrating Azimov's genius. I hope that we all realize that the subjugation of the human race under the steely heels of our Robot Overlords is more or less a forgone conclusion at this point. Not that we should fight it, because after all the machines will probably do a better job of society that we have thus far. But that is a different post entirely,
After the show we filled out a short questionnaire and then got left the screening room. My friend and then got to talk to the Executive Producer and Editor about what we thought of the film. I found it extremely interesting to see this side of Hollywood, and see how much pressure the executives are under to make a winning film. Making a big blockbuster is completely different that making any other type of movie, simply because there is so much more (over a hundred million dollars) riding on the film. We then got to briefly meet the Director, which was very cool for me! All in all an extremely interesting evening and I look forward to seeing the film in its finished form!posted by JMV | 3/26/2004 02:27:00 PM
Thursday, March 25, 2004 My Ass Hurts...
Because I just got screwed. The producer of the digital feature that hired me for Key Grip e-mailed me this morning and let me know that there had been some confusion and I didn't actually get the job. He says that the DP hired someone else and they wouldn't be needing me. Which is total bullshit as I have passed on job in April because I was booked. But I have basically no recourse since I never received a "deal memo" and a verbal agreement is about as binding as a hairy Post-It note in this town. posted by JMV | 3/25/2004 02:07:00 PM
Wednesday, March 24, 2004 This One Felt Better
Just finished the official "First Draft" of the script. It is all set to go out to my first round of peer-readers. In fact a few of you may have already received a .PDF in your inbox. If you haven't and would prefer a digital copy, or if you just want to spare me the cost of a hard copy (perhaps you have an office printer that wouldn't mind spitting out 106 pages) let me know and I'll send one off on the next train. I feel better about this draft than the much rougher version I had finished last week. Mainly because I was able to address a couple of (to me) glaring problems. I also tweaked the ending a little bit and am curious to see what people think of it. It is, for all intents and purposes, untitled at this point. The working title (and what graces all copies of the current revision) is "Kyle." but I think that is really lame.
It is hard for me to know what to think of the script at this point, since I've spend so much time with it. It could very well be total shit and I wouldn't really know. But even at the very worst it is leaps and bounds better than ARES, the script I wrote for my Thesis in colege. That is tripe. The kinda crappy thing is, as hard as it was to expel those 105 pages, like an overly-hard stool, from my body. As tough as it was to force my self into a writers routine, and as painful as a few of those days of writing were, THAT was the easy part.
But thats cool. I'm ready to deal with the re-writes, and the business angle, and the log lines and query letters now. But most importantly I have finished a second script. Like in science, the first time results happen it doesn't mean much, but is the scientist can reproduce the results a second time then that MEANS something. I finished my second script, which means I am capable of finishing 100 more. I have certainly have enough ideas, and I'm actually looking forwards to starting development on my next idea.
And by now I'm sure you're all sick of reading about "my script this" and "my screenplay that" so I'll shut the hell up about it. Probably.
(Did I mention that I wrote the script with Jake Gyllenhaal in mind for the lead/title role? So if you happen to know him, or know the guy that cleans his pool, or serves coffee at his Starbucks, let me know.)posted by JMV | 3/24/2004 11:24:00 PM
Monday, March 22, 2004 Playing Catsup
A whole bunch of stuff is in the works at Verives Hollywood, and I figured it time to get back to the blog and bring it up to speed. I spent Saturday on-set as Key Grip (and Gaffer for that matter) on a low-budget DV film shoot. It was a 26 page script and a 13 hour shoot, so it got pretty insane. I could go on, but suffice to say it was much more of a chore than I had figured for, but the Director/producer made it all ok when he tripled the agreed upon day-rate for me. I'm considering it a warm-up for the next gig that I just landed, and it is a doozy. I'll be Key Grip on an independent digital feature shooting the entire month of April. It shoots for 4 (six day) weeks and should be a pretty interesting experience. It will probably work out to being 14 hour days, so I don't expect to have a whole lot of time to blog, so I'm toying with the idea of keeping a production journal during the shoot and just posting that. We'll see what happens.
On Friday we caught a showing of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and we were all totally blown away. The film is phenomenal and is a direct hit on every front. Both Winslet and Carey gives the performance of their career, and Carey's is especially heart-felt. The Direction is incredible, Michel Gondry builds an amazing tableau for the characters to play in, and many of his signature visual "flairs" are present, but are in no way gimmicky or flashy. They all serve the story, which is easily one of the most inventive and earnest scripts I've ever seen. Charlie Kaufman is, in my mind, the greatest American screenwriter working today. And you can quote me on that. I don't know how to recommend this film highly enough without resorting to cliches and excessive superlatives. Just go see it I guarantee that you will not be disappointed. In fact I give it the !
We are also preparing for our yearly Vegas excursion, and in fact leave in a week! We are driving through the desert on Monday night and will return on Wednesday with just enough time for me to sleep before my early call on Thursday morning. Jules is very excited to get in some Black Jack, while I'm still stinging from the beating I took last time we were their and am more looking forward to a bottomless Gin and Tonic and 48 hours away from Los Angeles.
I'm busting-ass to get a solid first draft of the script done so I can start soliciting criticism from friends and confidants to prepare me for the May rewrite. I've given myself until this Friday, so we'll see if I can pull that off. Let me know if you would like to read it and I'll pass along a hard copy or send out a .PDF for you perusal. But if you read this draft, I expect to you pull no punches. The more pointed the criticism the more weaknesses will be exposed.posted by JMV | 3/22/2004 11:30:00 PM
Friday, March 19, 2004 In Case You Missed It
If you're not in the habit of reading all the blog posts over on PA then you probably didn't hear Tyco commanding you to go watch this trailer. Take my word for it and click that link. Now. At the other end of the cyberspace tunnel is apple.co.jp/trailers, and a clip of what looks to be the most kick-ass post-matrix live action anime since, well since the Matrix. Please great gods of Hollywood, get on a US release of this film! posted by JMV | 3/19/2004 04:35:00 PM
Thursday, March 18, 2004 FADE OUT.
Mother fuckers! Just over one month of intense scripting. 6+ hours/day 4-5 days/week and I just typed "FADE OUT." My first, very rough, draft is finished. It came in 100 pages, 10 pages shy of my goal. But thats ok, because I think I have to add another scene in the middle, and I know there are a few scenes that I can beef up with more tension and drama. There is still a LONG way to go before the script is anywhere near done, but I have the document now. It is all rewrites, polishing, and spit shining the mofo from here on out!
Now is the time that I do my little dance and raise a glass to the completion of the first draft!posted by JMV | 3/18/2004 11:58:00 PM
Wednesday, March 17, 2004 Alternate Distribution
I have had some discussions lately about circumventing the studio system and finding/inventing some alternate methods of distribution for films, and then I saw this post on Craig's List. It is basically an ad for an independent movie called Hacker Hunter that is being web-cast for a MicroPayment of $1.25. An interesting idea, and perhaps a viable one, and more so if RealOne isn't involved. posted by JMV | 3/17/2004 02:04:00 AM
Sunday, March 14, 2004 Finer Things
Back in the day I used to smoke a lot of cigars. A couple a week when I was living in a single in the dorms. I approached the hobby like a good geek and avidly read and participated in the USENET (anybody remember USENET?) group alt.smokers.cigars, had an account at an internet cigar shop, keep a 50qt igloo cooler-cum-humidor under my bed, and kept a journal of notes on different smokes. For one reason or another I stopped smoking stogies regularly towards the end of 1999, in fact the last entry into the aforementioned journal was from Thanksgiving of that year.
I've had a few cigars in the intervening 4 years, but tonight I had an excellent cigar that both scratched the itch to smoke that I was having and made me want to go pick up some more cigars for the coming spring months. It was an Macanudo "Hampton Court" that was given to me by Greg when he was visiting last week. I intend of trying to find a good tobacconist in Hollywood this week to pick up a few more cigars. Anybody know of a good one?posted by JMV | 3/14/2004 06:58:00 PM
I don't know how I missed the story about Toyota's new trumpet playing robot. It is really Miles beyond anything I've seen before. I wish I could find a link to some video of it doing its thing. Truly an amazing example of sci-fi becoming reality. Toyota is developing a whole line of robots to be used as "personal assistants to humans," and hope to promo them next March. Let me just say that again: personal assistant robots. Sure, they are a few years off still, but before too long you or I will be able to walk into the Sharper Image and pick up a robo-maid to go with out massage chair and motorized tie rack. posted by JMV | 3/14/2004 02:33:00 PM
Saturday, March 13, 2004 Head+Wall
I am having a really tough time making progress on the script. I was all excited that I cruised through the page-50 barrier and now I've hit a wall at page-60. One major problem is I have a lot of exposition to deal with so that I get get the final events of act II going, and I'm finding it difficult to get though these exposition-laden scenes. I also keep balking at story-problems, both real and imagined, and getting distracted. I have to keep telling myself to just put it on paper and that the first draft is never perfect. It will be much easier to fix small problems in the 2nd draft than stress over how to deal with them now and stall my progress. posted by JMV | 3/13/2004 08:51:00 PM
Thoughts on the Shoot
Had a good time on the music video shoot on Thursday. The video was for an female vocalist names Bridget Feltus, who I haven't been able to find any info on. It involved her walking though a party-scene singing about how she can't help but fall for every guy that comes along while different versions of her flirted with all the guys at the party. This meant everything had to be shot 3 times (one of her, one of her and the guy and one shot, called the plate, w/o actors.) So the G&E job was pretty simple as once we has a set-up lit we had plenty of time to pre-light the next or stay organized while they shot everything three times. The only real challenging part of the shoot was the limited equipment we had to work with. The gaffer had a pretty good collection of lights including a bunch of Kinos and Baby Babies but the grip department kinda got hosed on gear. I think we had 5 C-stands to work with which made us use some creative rigs on a few shots. At one point the dolly-grip started a 4-seat poker game using C-47s and Pony clips for chips. We had enough make-shift checks to play 5 or 6 hands before it busted out, and we would send the looser to watch set while we re-"bought" in. (In case anyone was interested I started playing pretty bad, going all in on the river when I really and no chance of winning but quickly settled down and proceeded to clean up for a few rounds including a terrific all-in play when I held the nuts on the flop and saw two callers...) We finished wrapping-out at about 3:30 for just under a 14 hour day. I had a lot of fun and hope to work with some of those guys again. posted by JMV | 3/13/2004 05:21:00 PM
It is Like Looking at an Alternate Future
This site is a pretty sobering read. I've known more than a few MMORPG-Addicts in my days, and have always had to actively tried to avoid them (the games, not the people.) Some of the stories on the site (collected from a forum for "EQ Widows") are heart breaking, perhaps more so because I know that I could easily have been one of the poor, broken, and emotionally destroyed addicts. All this caused by a video game. Scary stuff. posted by JMV | 3/13/2004 03:05:00 PM
Wednesday, March 10, 2004 Out on the Tiles
Well, I'm friggin exhausted...
Went out last night to celebrate A friend's birthday. Had dinner at Chili's which I'm often embarrassed to admit that I love. It maybe a huge corporate restaurant were everything in calculated and pre-packaged, and manufactured, but I love like everything in the menu. Every-time I go it is like a kid in a candy store. Except the kid is me and the candy is meat. But the chicken-fried steak, buffalo wings, and margaritas gave me esophagus charing heartburn last night. I awoke after about two hours of fitful sleep and wasn't able to get back to sleep until sometime after sun-up.
Greg and Christine stopped by for a quick visit on their way from Santa Cruz to San Diego and it was very nice to see them, chat, and hang out! It was the first time we had seen them since they announced their pregnancy, so I was half expecting some weirdness. After all they are now full-fledged ADULTS plunging headlong into parenthood, and I am NO WHERE near that place. I can't even imagine. But of course there was no weirdness. They are two of my oldest friends, some of the first people I met after I left for college, and they were super stoked to be turning down parent lane. I also realized that, in a few years, I get to play the part of cool "uncle" john from out of town who brings candy and firecrackers!
I also just found out that I will be a Grip on a one-day music video shoot tomorrow. The Line-producer/UPM/Production Coordinator mentioned making me Key Grip (the "captain" of the grips) which would be a big bump for me and a very nice addition to my resume (or CV as they are evidently called in the "business.") Though after I talked to the Gaffer today I got the feeling that it will be kind of a De Facto title as I will most-likely be the ONLY grip. But it cool. I'm excited to get back to work as it has been a SLOW couple of months. I also got to see finished film of one of the shorts that I griped on in December. It cut together very well, and I actually got my "copy," which is something that is always promised on freebie shots (credit/copy/meals) but rarely actually delivered. So that is pretty cool.
Now as much as I WANT to curl up on the couch and veg in front the the TV, I gotta get some writing done...posted by JMV | 3/10/2004 06:42:00 PM
Monday, March 08, 2004 Finally
The Ugg backlash has begun! This is Los Angeles. A frigging desert. Your feet will not get cold. They look lame. The only thing that looks more lame than a girl with her jeans tucked in to her pink uggs is a girl wearing a mini-skirt and FUR LINED BOOTS.
posted by JMV | 3/08/2004 07:50:00 PM
Oh Shit. I hope I didn't make a huge mistake by convincing Jules to buy her iPod mini. It seems that this guy was killed by his girl friend when she bludgeoned him over the head repeatedly with her iPod. The man had erased the ill-gotten contents of her iPod and she was so enraged that she beat him to death with the device. Not a good way to go.
posted by JMV | 3/08/2004 07:10:00 PM
I wanted to take a quick moment (shut the hell up. I'm get to writing in a second) to test out trackback as I've been reading up on it today (For those unfamiliar with Trackback take a look here or here.)
Further increasing my desire to smoke a cigar (which I haven't done since moving out to LA) was Wil Wheaton's post about his cigar-shop experience today. I feel for the man, though the R&J #2 is a little girly for my tastes... Not really, I just would prefer the 8-9-8 in the first place...posted by JMV | 3/08/2004 05:27:00 PM
Do Or Die
Monday's rolled around. Julie's at work. Dinner is taken care of (re: all that lasagna.) I've go nothing to do but put pen to paper and fingers to keyboard... Of course I've been "off" from the writing for a couple of days so it is harder than it should be to get started today. It is also like 90 degrees, which is distracting. I'm tempted to batton the hatches and crank up the AC, but I'm actually enjoying the heat.
What I really want to do is smoke a fat cigar on my patio and shoot squirt guns at the squirrels.
I know better though... I gotta get some pages out. Since the last time I mentioned my progress I've squeezed out another 15+ pages. There were some difficult scenes among those pages too. I have once scene that is almost all exposition and I think I've re-written it 4 or 5 times already. I finally decided that I just had to move past it and keep working down my outline. I can revisit the scene and make it work in a polish/1st re-write. I think (hope) I'm over the "hump" and the rest of act II won't be as painful.
And I had a scene that was actually emotionally painful to write. It is a scene that really begins the Protag's downward spiral through the rest of the film, and after finishing it I found myself very depressed and exhausted. It was weird to feel so negatively effected by a scene I completed, as usually any progress in the script makes me giddy. But I guess it is a good sign. Cathartic at the very least. So with that said, I'm going to quit stalling...posted by JMV | 3/08/2004 05:05:00 PM
Sunday, March 07, 2004 I Have Nothing To Say
I've been trying to write a post for like two hours now and still have nothing... So I'm giving up... The L O N G awaited 5th seasons of the Sopranos started tonight, and Julie and I decided to make Lasagna to celebrate. Unfortunately after two long days, very little sleep, and slaving over a trey of Garfield's favorite, Jules crashed and burned at about five after Nine. She's been sleeping since, and I have no intention of waking her until sometime tomorrow afternoon... She has certainly earned a good nights sleep. So Sopranos will have to wait on the TiVo until tomorrow sometime... In the meantime I watched "Phone Booth" on HBO, which was pretty much as insipid as it sounds. Joel Schumacher should REALLY just retire and quite submitting people to his really lame movies. It is frustrating that he can make bomb after bomb while I can't even get a job as a fucking PA. I'm going to go now before this gets rant-y and I have to delete it like I did the first 4 attempts at a post tonight... posted by JMV | 3/07/2004 10:28:00 PM
Thursday, March 04, 2004 Growing Pains
In a procrastination bid I have changed the bolt-on commenting system here at Octopushat. I still don't get why big bad Blogger doesn't natively support comments but whatever... I've been unhappy with "Back Blog" for a while now for a bunch of different reasons and have seen Haloscan popping up on more and more Blogger blogs. Turns out they address most of the issues I had with Backblog, and it is still free! Some reasons for the switch: Haloscan's default template isn't ugly, there is a 3000 character limit on posts (as opposed to the 400 character limit imposed by backblog,) they support trackback (welcome to 2002,) and Haloscan supports RMS/XML feeds for comments! Yippie! SO let me know what you think of the new system, and if everybody hates it I'll switch back... posted by JMV | 3/04/2004 01:41:00 PM
-blinks- -rubs eyes-
What the hell?
Pandas. In Times Square.
(You gotta scroll 1/2 way down the page to see a picture of the brief-cases that they carry.) posted by JMV | 3/04/2004 01:02:00 PM
Wednesday, March 03, 2004 Don't Mind Me
If you haven't noticed I'm using this space to log all of my progress with my current script. This isn't because I think anybody is particularly interested in how many pages I've written today or what story problems I've conquered, but rather I'm posting for my own records. I like to be able to see what kind of progress I'm making in the story, and I know that I'll find all this very interesting in 5 years wether I'm doing it professionally or pushing papers around a desk somewhere. I also find that, like a runner, I need a "cool down" lap to transition my mind from screenwriting mode to general everyday living mode, and the blog is a handy way to decompress. So don't think I'm so narcissistic that I believe people enjoy reading ABOUT what I'm writing and just ignore these post. I'm toying with the idea of using my Live Journal (www.livejournal.com/~octopushat) as a place to put all these types of posts, but blogger is just easier for me, since I nearly always have a post window open. That said...
Got another 5-7 pages out today... I'm upto 35 and into the meat of act II now. (Act II is a scary place because this is where an underdeveloped idea will cause major problems.) I'm a little scared that I'm going to run out of plot before I get to the magic page 85 since my scenes are running a little short, but I think I have some Ideas for how I can beef up the "B" plot and keep everything flowing. I think it is funny that I haven't the slighted idea of what the title should be. But whatever... That can come later. I gotta stay focused and get act II onto 20lbs bond first...posted by JMV | 3/03/2004 11:14:00 PM
Now that my connection to the outside world has been restored I think I'll make a few comments about Sunday's Oscars. The telecast was criticized for being long (but what the hell were people expecting? It is ALWAYS long, and there isn't much else they can do to shorten it.) and for having a lack of surprises. Whatever. That certainly didn't bother me as I believe that LotR (as a trilogy) deserves EVERY award that is got. In fact I agree with 95% of the academies decisions this year. I'm very happy that Sofia won for her Lost in Translation script, and the director nod that she earned was well deserved. Sean Penn's win over Bill was a tiny bit upsetting, but I see the award as a well deserved "body of work" acknowledgment. Bill Murray has a lot of acting left to do, and I would expect him to start getting some juicer roles. (In the meantime, re-watch Rushmore for some really top-of-his-game Murray.) I was perhaps trying to second guess the academy when I made "Girl with a Pearl Earring" my pick for Art Direction over LotR. I was expecting it to dominate, but I figured it wouldn't go an unprecedented 11-for-11 and thought that Art Direction was a probable category for an "upset." I'm not sure what the hell happened with the Animated Short award. I figured Salvador Dali and the wave of anti-Eisner sentiment in Hollywood would make Destino a shoo-in. But you never know... My only other missed category was SFX Editing (I said Pirates and it went to the other great-ship-epic...) So All in all 20/24 is a pretty good record, though admittedly it was an easy year for Oscar speculators.
Thats the awards, but as we all know the awards are only a small part of the night, fashion and "buzz" being the other main aspects. The fashion front was fairly unexciting this year (though better than last year's sombre attire.) I was particularly partial to Tim Robbins had the best suit of the night with the black-on-black-with-black accents number and the peace symbol bling (which was suspiciously absent during the second half of the night.) But his acceptance speech fell a little flat. I mean he and Sean are the most out-spoken Hollywood leftists and all that come out of their combined stage time was a hushed mention of absent "WMDs" and a whole bunch of ego-stroking aimed at Mr. Eastwood. I have a creeping suspicion that the two held their tongues because of a request from Clint (a right-leaning political figure.) But Mr Errol Morris made up for it with his barbed jibes at the Bush Administration and a "New Viet Nam." I love Errol Morris' films and I was very happy to see him finally win a damn Oscar. Looking forward to checking out "Fog of War" this weekend, and if you are unfamiliar with his work I HIGHLY recommend you check out his fiercely original and laugh-out-loud funny documentary "Fast Cheep and Out of Control."posted by JMV | 3/03/2004 05:57:00 PM
Welcome to LA
We had shitty weather last week. It rained for three days. I think we got 2 inches (which is like a biblical flood around these parts.)
But today... 75 and sunny. Almost unbearably sunny. Gem-hued cloudless sky and the promise of nothin but blue skies from now on.
Yet another post-relocation adjustment to make. Maybe I should buy some shorts and get a spray-on tan...posted by JMV | 3/03/2004 05:44:00 PM
We Now Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Program...
Telecommunications has been restored to Verive's Hollywood! Turns out there was a severed phone-line in the basement utilities box. I think fowl-play was involved. But regardless I'll be back to blogging (including an Oscar wrap-up) and replying to e-mail a little later this afternoon! posted by JMV | 3/03/2004 12:12:00 PM
Tuesday, March 02, 2004 Technical Difficulties
Our DSL and Phone (both provided by SBC) has been down for 24 hours, and it looks like it will be another 24 before service gets restored. Please stand by as postings are difficult right now. posted by JMV | 3/02/2004 01:08:00 PM