man kills family, goes to heaven.

Remember the literary legend about the six-word short story contest that boasted this Ernest Hemingway entry…

For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn.

The title of this post would have made a decent run at the money, don’t you think? Imagine the outrage and confusion from every corner of the spiritual groupthink had it been published. The more conventionally religious would be shattered with conflict; wanting to celebrate the existence of an afterlife only to discover that it’s just another loathsome, all-powerful institution laden with hypocrisy. It also begs explanation in a way that Hemingway’s entry does not. The baby has been lost – precisely how, is of little consequence. In the case of my story, how a person so clearly misguided can be rewarded with eternal happiness burns us to our very core. There would be demands for the author’s head, or at the very least, a sequel to put things right. Because putting things right is what audience’s want, and regardless of our religious, social or political subscriptions, when it comes to movies, we all tend to agree on how that sort of thing should go. Interesting, don’t you think?

Well, I did. Which is why I wrote Welcome to Cydonia. It shares a lot in common with my six word short story, but it should really be nine words…

Man kills family, goes to heaven, finds justice waiting.

Something of an afterlife revenge story, isn’t it? The biggest twist is in the premise, and there are quite a few others woven into the guts of the narrative. It’s rich in paranoia, long on fantastical elements, and chock full of entertaining dread. What I like the most about it, though, is its tone. It’s full of sophisticated black humor. Think Rosemary’s Baby meets It’s a Wonderful Life. I produced a pitch video for it for a contest (another one that I didn’t win), and you can check it out here if you like.

So why am I writing about it now? Great question. One answer is that I recently did a polish on it and punched it up a bit. It’s tighter, funnier, more suspenseful, and the action, I believe, is more intensely felt thanks in part to a terser, more immediate descriptive style. Another reason is that it’s really good. I don’t often say that, as normally such a subjective  statement should be rightfully ignored. But fuck all that, I’m saying it. It’s just about the best screenplay I’ve ever read, let alone written. The characters are large yet unique, the plot drives like a Bimmer at Nürburgring, and it would rather self-destruct in your hand than resort to cliche. It’s a fun, fresh thriller with horror elements that, if made well, could easily distinguish itself among critics and audiences alike. At least one Hollywood agent thought the same. The memories of those three or four phone conversations still swim around in my head like Sea Monkeys in a mason jar (had Sea Monkeys lived up to the promise of their package illustrations and not turned out to be the kind of shrimp you can’t even dunk into a dollop of cocktail sauce).

So why was my awesome script never dipped? I may never know. Which is positively haunting in the worst way because it’s the kind of haunting that can slowly transform a fledgling writer into a bitter old bore holding court at his local pub and tearing apart other people’s successes over his third glass of gin. Is Hollywood a risk averse cauldron of middling talent boiling over a festering pit of caustic nepotism? Of course it is, with bad plastic surgery to boot. But you have to find something they want now before you can give them something to try later. The thing is, I can’t. Every time I try and write something marketable and commercial, this is what comes out:

Title: I.C.U.
Genre: dark comedy, fantasy
Logline:  A bitterly dysfunctional family suffers a car accident during their annual search for a Christmas tree. While in comas, they magically unite to decorate it, resolving their issues with darkly funny tales that reveal lots of misunderstood love.

Believe it or not, I envision this as funny and quirky, with a lingering human touch. Very European. Not as depressing as it might sound if written for Disney or the Lifetime Channel, which is probably how many agents/studios in this country would see it, but still a holiday story that surprisingly hits the heart. I like surprising audiences. I like making them feel ways about things they wouldn’t in a million years expect to feel.

But perhaps it’s too left-of-center for an unknown writer. Let’s go popular genre:

Title: Square One
Genre: science fiction
Logline: Set in the ultra-future, a society of proud cybernetic beings discover a capsule containing “human DNA” with instructions to reboot the “human race”. When the cyborgs learn they were designed by these doomed creatures several millennia prior solely for the purpose of their resurrection, an existential upheaval ensues that pits creator against creator.

Okay, maybe that’s a little deep. And maybe it raises a few questions about how they would be “pitted” against one another, while failing to define a clear main character. But I think the strength is in the larger idea and theme. Apparently, I’m alone.

Fair enough. How about, hilariously, this:

Title: Dicky Mouse
Genre: comedy
Logline:  When a misdemeanoring man-child carelessly crosses a crossing guard, he’s sentenced to community service at an experimental theme park designed to reform some of the country’s most incorrigible children.

Think gritty, subversive Jack Black vehicle that isn’t afraid to break a few taboos. The parents are just as horrible as the kids, and the kids deserve drowning.  To top it off, we only like our main character because he’s a lesser evil and isn’t afraid to “go there”. You know, just like your best drinking buddy. Okay, I hear what you’re saying: “Dude, you’re gonna get sued. Bring it back, tone it down, think what’s out there, deliver…”

Title: The Cheap Seats
Genre: Dramedy
Logline:  When an out-of-favor Hollywood diva desperate to reignite her career is pressured into making a promise to a sick young girl on TMZ, she finds herself starring in the girl’s neighborhood play.

No one knows me from their last brunch waiter and I’m trying to sell a dramedy? What the hell is my problem? The slightly-less-than-despicable-but-funny main character is back, only this time he’s a she. The little girl is probably a slave-driving, close-talking brat who we can’t force ourselves to feel sorry for, too. But there’s thematic potential in a good-underneath-the-rot-when-you-let-yourself-show-it kind of way like the previous idea, isn’t there? Isn’t that enough to request a simple one-page treatment?

NO, DUMB ASS. JUST THINK ABOUT WHAT IS SELLING AND GIVE IT TO THEM.

Okay, fine:

Title: Gangster Lean
Genre: Action
Logline:  Gangsters old and new clash for love and power against the glamorous world of fashion when the son of a New Jersey don falls in love with a model mixed up in New York City thug-life. When a war begins over a powerful new opiate that eliminates the emotion of fear, love is a drug cut with danger.

Come on, right? You can even put in a couple knuckleheads from the Jersey Shore to be shot in the face, if you want. It’s got classic suited heavies versus the latest do-rag variety where honor is everything for one and a description of where someone is laying their bodies for the other. Do I have to spell out the Shakespearean themes beneath the center-of-the-catwalk pop culture exterior? It’s practically vomiting zeitgeist!

Sigh…the crazy part is, these are just a couple of the ideas sitting in my locker. But don’t worry, they’re all the same kind of thing. They all want to push and pull audiences at the same time, tickling that one bone in your body that craves discord. The ones that don’t want to do that want to dig deeper and thrill with big ideas. None want you to shut off your brain and watch things explode, unfortunately. I wish I could write those – I really do – but I can’t. They’re not the ideas that I would pay money to see because I don’t like superhero movies and I’m not big on broad comedy. Or movies about kids and pets. Or serial killers. Or dinosaurs. Or transforming robots. Or robots transforming into dinosaurs.

Or becoming a working writer, I guess.

HorrorCon resumes audio mixing this week and I’m skedding sessions for looping and shooting a few missing clips. Hollywood better hope this film is good enough to make an audible splash. Because if it doesn’t, boy are they getting a lot of drunken voice mails.

Posted in career news, Cinema, HorrorCon, Miscellaneous Idea Generator, Screenwriting, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

the stubborn limbo of dramatic contrarianism

So…so, so, so…it’s been approximately six-months since I wrapped principal for HorrorCon and since then it’s been a long, arduous slog through audio mixing and researching distribution methods. I still have a few clips to shoot, and I haven’t even started on the score which really needs to have a completed mix to begin. I’ve got ideas, but I’m never short of those. Here are a few of them:

Pick up minimalist themes from the main five songs spread throughout the narrative and record them using whatever instruments I have lying around. Those would include a Kurzweil K1000 composing keyboard with two broken keys, an iPad with a few interesting apps, some guitars, my voice, and a host of audio manipulation software. I want mood and a few stabs here and there to heighten the psychological suspense. No one is waiting around a dark corner to kill anyone in this film, but the enemy of one’s tormented soul plays an important role in the dark corners of my characters’ psyches. It’s a film about the unraveling spirit of the disenfranchised and at least one way to survive the ensuing downward spiral – if “survival” is indeed the correct term. I’m looking for disquiet mixed with sparkling despair. I think I can layer something that achieves that. Practical realities are also forcing my hand at scoring this film myself (with a little help from my friends). I just can’t afford a professional with the kind of experience that matches my sensibilities if in fact they can be found at all. No more cooks. This film is all done being passed around.

As I wait for a mix that will hopefully arrive by the end of next month, I’ve taken to dusting off a few scripts and finding homes for them. I do not speak of permanent homes where their acceptance will immediately usher me onto a new career plateau, but one where they might be nurtured into gainful employment – limbos of a sort where they might lie comfortably in wait with a fresh new coat of paint in hopes that someone, the right someone, will drive past and spot their unique and irresistibly engaging sheen. The first script I’ve chosen is Outside Men, and so far, I’ve found one intriguing accommodation: Amazon Studios.

Amazon has decided to slip a newly sprouted tentacle into the film industry pool by soliciting original works to be considered in private or in public, the latter state encouraging participation and feedback from other writers. There’s a not insignificant monetary compensation for those whose works they choose to option (they claim a first look deal with Universal) and a fairly significant one for those that are bought for development. Yet another tidy sum is on offer if the film makes over $60 million at the box office. It’s fairly standard script buying stuff for the most part, and it costs nothing to put up your shingle and upload a project. Having learned about the initiative from a tweet regarding one of their projects called Zombies vs. Gladiators being rewritten by none other than horror royalty Clive Barker, I am both cautious and encouraged. It’s a state I’m quite familiar with, of course. We writers consider optimism as much of an element of our stock in trade as imagination – in fact, it could be said that the two are mutualistically (or is that parasitically?) intertwined – but we’re also no strangers to rejection and heartache. Not whining, just saying, and time will tell if Amazon are any less risk averse than the normal avenues available to screenwriters. Remember, I made HorrorCon because I’d come to the conclusion that spec script sales were a dying breed, and those that got through were far more broad and mainstream than anything I would ever pay to see, let alone write. Time will tell, and it’s sparked some rewrite sessions that have been enlightening in terms of where I am with my craft.

Speaking of spec script sales, I’ve also entered five “commercial” loglines I had lying around into a contest where four winners would have their work deconstructed and reconstructed by a working screenwriter and screenwriting guru over the course of a few months. At the end of the “course”, the projects would be put to market, with said guru acting as agent. I tweaked the ideas a bit to keep them brief yet enticing, and sent them away. There were over 3,500 entrants, and from them twenty-one were selected. Future cuts would reduce that number to four. Thus far, I’ve been passed over, but it’s hardly surprising. My concepts are high enough, I think, but they go against-the-grain and tend to fall in between broad established genres. Think “dark dramedy” as opposed to “comedy” or “drama” or even “horror”. Clever hybrids and those that dig into them to break fresher ground are the kinds of films and writers that excite me – I’m kind of the male version of Diablo Cody with perhaps a little more interest in plot twists – and the contest outwardly favors high concepts with broad commercial appeal. Fair enough, I say, and at least there’s still an outside chance that said guru will indulge a wild hair and offer me some minimal stewardship.

Perhaps there’s another perspective to all of this, one not so flattering to my instincts. Fellow Syracuse University alum Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men, The Social Network, “The West Wing”, “Newsroom”) has made an illustrious career writing projects with their own sense of what I’ll call dramatic contrarianism. His ideas for character and premise often zag when audiences presume a zig: the military lawyer using the concept of honor for personal gain before truly embodying it; the outcast nerd who becomes the social king; a White House dedicated to selfless civil service; the cable news program seeking truth over ratings. These ideas scream opposition to expectation albeit in the name of conventional integrity and idealism. The audience is lured in and then carefully and masterfully seduced to Sorkin’s well-argued point of view. Clearly, Aaron enjoyed himself at Syracuse a lot more than I did.

My contrarian instincts feel far more subversive, and often seek opposition to, or at the very least, a challenging opinion on my characters and premises. To what end, you ask? To stir up your comfort zone, probably. To promote new ideas by banging your discord like an elbow on the ivories of a piano. To let you know you’ve had it too easy in your impenetrable bubble of formulaic security, so much so that you don’t even realize you’re no longer being entertained, or at the very least, thrilled. Maybe that sounds too anarchic for an industry who would rather pass on risk, but if you ask me, the auteur era of the 70s – a time when risk drew both audiences and investors alike – is continually mined by popular culture today. Sorkin feels a little more late 60s, with subversion doled out in sugary teaspoons of dysfunctional idealism. Norton knows there’s a few grains of sand in that teaspoon, but he’s not telling.

What does it all mean, then? I guess it means I need to find a more commercially palatable way to respond to my anarchic instincts. Even punk rock gave way to capitalist interests. It’s just…it’s so hard not to write those “fuck yous”, you know? I abhor formulas save the most basic: a three act structure with a beginning, middle and end. But I’m not going to get a return email unless I’m playing the good host. Wouldn’t hurt to include the kids, either. Kids like it black and white with neat stuff flying around, and who should blame them? I loved Star Wars, too.

Completely ignoring my own advice, next on my agenda is a polish of Welcome to Cydonia, a story about a man who kills his family and ends up in “heaven”. If I’m feeling ambitious, I may also rewrite my five-might miniseries, “B.L.O.O.M“, about scanning people into cybernetic containers so that mankind can survive the end of the damn world. How’s that for a cozy night on the couch, huh? There may be no more chance of either of them getting made than there is of HorrorCon giving my career a boost but commercial or not, my little yet overly long film is where I’m putting all of my eggs. At least as of six months ago, I’ve got some eggs. Prior to that I only had an empty basket and the world’s most doggedly determined chicken.

Posted in B.L.O.O.M., career news, HorrorCon, Outside Men, Screenwriting, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

the horizon report

Post-production on the film creeps along. We’re in an audio mix-down phase and the seeds of our brilliant but challenging live settings are being sown. Goodness, there’s a lot going on in there. It’s paying off, though. Listen-backs rekindle the love affair between filmmaker and film. Hearing every little sound put just where it belongs enriches each scene like I never expected. So real.

Ideas for distribution continue to fester…or is that simmer? A few months ago I was contemplating a 100% withholding of the rights and taking our little show from convention to convention, charging only for merchandise and a Q&A that would follow the screening. Another idea followed a more conventional path: submit to festivals, soak up the experience, and then cut a deal for VOD and limited theatrical release if the opportunity presented itself. I’m still not sure if SAG considers a deal with Netflix, for example, a proper theatrical release as per their low-budget agreement contracts, so I’d still need to make a few phone calls. What I don’t want is for the film to drop into the scene with a soft plip and then sink to the bottom like a micro-budget pebble. Every filmmaker wants as many people to see his film as possible, so what do we do?

I’d heard that Kevin Smith was taking his film Red State around for screenings and Q&A’s instead of handing it over to a distributor. Visual technology is making filmmakers think about all the ways their films can make money, and quite a few are kicking themselves for taking a payday and watching new revenue streams pop up all over the Internet and beyond. Ti West recently said in an interview that every penny made from The House of the Devil got swallowed up by one distribution oversight or another. You can practically hear the regretful lilt in his voice in print, giving off all the enthusiasm one reserves for a throat swab when discussing the financial prospects of future projects.

Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t just about money. I’m not even sure HorrorCon is worth the budget it required to get made. For me it’s value has no price-tag, but there’s a direct correlation between playing your distribution cards correctly and the shelf life of a film – not the least of which is if it makes good coin, more people will want to see it. I read somewhere that filmgoers are becoming more interested in the business of a film than in the film itself. Trailers give almost everything away these days because people don’t want to waste their time risking a dud by avoiding spoilers, and it’s all about how “good” it is anyway. Today’s audience’s follow the “celebrity of a film” just as if it were a person. The more a film can suck in its cheeks and take a photo of itself with a smart phone to then be posted for all of its fabulous friends to see, the better off it is.

So where are we now with all of this? Good question (if I do say so, myself). Some evidence to suggest that going it alone may be a good idea presented itself in colorful fashion this past Friday night. I found myself at the 10pm showing of The Devil’s Carnival in Philadelphia at a place called The Painted Bride, a theater-equipped performance space just north of the Ben Franklin Bridge. Carnival is a traveling sideshow “film experience” in the vein of Repo! The Genetic Opera – itself this generation’s answer to The Rocky Horrow Picture Show – where attendees dress up like the various bawdy characters in the film and react with heightened enthusiasm to the events that unfold both before the film begins (in this case a Wednesday Adams inspired burlesque routine) as well as those within the film. The director, Darren Lynn Bousman (of Repo!, Saw II, III, and IV fame) introduces the film, and then asks his leading man (the captivatingly-voiced Terrance Zdunich) to lead the audience in a standing pledge that they will not record any portion of the program lest it circulate inhospitably around the Internet, thereby sacking the film of some of its sideshowesque cachet. Of course, all comply. If we’re there, we’re happily in on the joke. After a hearty “Hail Satan”, the “short” film (rt: 1hr) kicks into technicolor gear.

In brief, Carnival is a thinly-plotted pastiche of vaudevillian musical numbers and flash-edited carny madness where three lost souls enter a carnival after-world and are each faced with the sins they committed in life. The projection was somewhat on the dark side, and characters are quickly introduced and come and go without much narrative warning. In fact, the entire structure seemed engineered to zig when a zag was expected, in true Satanic sleight-of-hand. And to be honest, we don’t really have a lot invested in our three central stories that are sent to “hell” to pay the “Devil his due”, and questions as to their stories’ origins remained long after the film ended.

But a traditional night at the pictures was not the point, as I saw it. Bousman personally financed this touring experiment outside the system ($500k) and sought to create an experience that would mirror in some ways his Rocky Horror-like Repo! success (a film he no longer owns, and therefore, can’t sequel). He explained that he wanted to create a world that he, and others like him, wanted to live in. We’re meant to revel in the dreamlike atmosphere, and in this, he succeeds in abundance. The tunes move playfully through shifting key signatures, and the vocal performances – many from actors-first performers – predictably vacillate with accomplishment. Yet, a consistency in both character and theme prevailed and they helped propel the visuals, and the audience, into a pleasurably chaotic state. Having purchased the soundtrack from iTunes the following day, I’m finding that the songs are growing on me. The adage that compositions requiring time to digest reward the listener best seems to be holding up.

The show ended with a costume contest in which a four year-old girl easily stole the show as well as the heart of the director, who tweeted two photos of her (‏@devilscarnival) on the spot. Then a Q&A followed that I personally found very inspirational, and proved our kind host and leading man affable, intelligent and genuinely grateful. It left me rooting for the project, and for the idea that artists can successfully sell their work on their own terms. The 32-date tour is packed tightly inside a 37-day run (4/5 – 5/12), and for the Philly date there were two showings. Madness. But Bousman appeared wholly satisfied and full of energy. From everything I witnessed, it would appear that “hell to pay” may be a great way to get paid, indeed.

That’s where we are. Mostly. As HorrorCon passes slowly through puberty, I’m working on my next few projects that will span across mediums, which is why Yellow Horse Productions and Publishing is now being described as a transmedia storytelling company. One project is the animated short feature from the Teapott Fables collection entitled The Ballade of Haunted Hill that I’m putting together with my extremely talented partner Teodora “Teddy” Jones. Another, is a web series that will be accompanied by an e-novella and musical ep entitled ThundrClap. It’s a found footage thing with a fresh twist, and I’m excited about where the story is going. Hipsters, beware. We’re coming for your beards.

Hope you like the new look of the site. My new beard, as well. Update on its progress in the next entry.

Scott

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The Horror…the horror…

I didn’t do well with sleeping, last night. I woke up an hour after drifting off, switched on the TV, switched it off, switched it on again, switched it back off, and finally turned the fan up so high that I could hear the wind rushing past my ears. I often need cold temperatures to sleep, as if going into hibernation. Maybe my brain atrophies just enough to allow my inner worlds to recede into the ether. Maybe, I just need a good snuggle. Dunno.

I also had quite a bit on my mind with the holidays returning and the completion of principal photography for HorrorCon. Have I forgotten to get someone a gift? Have I forgotten to shoot something? There’s that gift card I wanted for a couple peripheral members of the family. There’s that stock photography I need to stand in place of something beyond the scope of my budget and time constraints. Will both or either suffice?

What the hell am I doing with Yellow Horse? Can it ever be more than a shingle? Its conceit is that a collection of quality products can shine light on one another as they become known, growing the brand, and filling the gaps caused by having not spent years of networking in the publishing and entertainment industries, industries that keep changing. What does it mean to place a book or market a film, anymore? What if a better than average film draws attention to a brilliant book, which in turn draws attention to an eerily adorable animated series. Can YHP&P be a golden pot of projects from which larger, more connected entertainment entities can mine?

Should I sell my condo at the shore? I love the inside, but I’m no longer wired for associations and their by-laws upon by-laws that seek to prevent all conflict with adults who cannot act responsibly with an intact intellect? How much longer can I allow a few dozen people to legislate my peace of mind? Mandatory annual inspections? Too many damn noses for too little whiffs of common sense, if you ask me.

Christ, I’ve got lots of driving to do in the next few weeks.

Then there are a few new projects I want to start. I think. I want to draft a sequel to HorrorCon that begins right where the original ends. I’ve got three book ideas, one a non-fictional account of the ten months it required to shoot the film. I think I want to call it My First Rodeo: A Year-Long Account of Indie Filmmaking. I also like Herding Cats: The Unlikely Capturing of HorrorCon the Film. Had thirty, terrifying days in the span of three months shooting a film in several busy, public spaces cooked my brain too much to focus on what would come after? Possibly. It could be that being “in over my head” had become what life feels like, which would explain my suicidal compulsion to complete two novels of fiction, with at least one in mind as a screen adaptation, all in the span of a year. The Thunders tells the story of a lonely, phobic writer who, while researching a little-known tribe of demon-battling Native Americans who used evil spirits to fend off imperialist settlers, follows too closely in their tracks. In doing so, he winds up caring for a desperate crush who he’s inadvertently helped fall into demonic possession. Another, The Unveiling, takes us back to the turn-of-the-20th Century when the Impressionists were making their mark on the art world and introduces us to a mysterious Picasso that may hold some important clues to a series of horrendous murders happening around Paris and New York.

And what about sWitch? Shouldn’t I adapt that one, too?

And I still haven’t experienced my “ahhh” moment, or that moment of blessed relief after a film’s final scene is wrapped. We shot it, I remember that. I remember a congratulatory hug from my leading man, and holding my leading lady while she expressed how things would be so “weird” from here on out. There would be no shoots to look forward to – or to fret over – in the foreseeable future. Then I remember packing up and the smack of bitterly cold air as I left the hotel. But I don’t remember feeling much of it. We wrapped very late after a very long day, so maybe that’s why I only rolled into a strange exhaustion and am now sitting here trying to piece it together a full ten days later.

There’s also still so much to do. I now have to prove that I knew what I was doing when I was forever pointing and instructing. Of course, I’m not sure I really did know. I went wholly on instinct, an instinct that I’d honed from nearly forty years of movie watching. At one point I was digesting three a day. It helped to lose weight when I was a wrestler. Instead of dreaming about food – any kind of food – I would enter the dreams of films. I did have my experience as an industrial video producer to help support some of my assumptions. Having been through some grueling shoots covering tens of thousands of square feet in a single day did teach me to move fast, yet carefully. How careful was I? I guess I’ll find out soon enough. One thing I’ve learned from my research is that, regardless of the name making the film, few have professed to know what they were doing when they were making it. That helps a little.

So, I find myself in a languorous sort of limbo. I’m tired, but my brain is busy. That seems to best describe my life up to this point. Oh…almost forgot the ticking bomb in the closet. That’s what I call the force that pushes me to finish these projects before some form of disease catches up with me. If one doesn’t in premature time, I’m thinking car crash. I’ve had my share, and a frayed nerve somewhere in my medulla feels I’m due. It’s troubling to drive, to be honest. I tap my finger whenever a car passes too close to the median stripe, or if a car rolls up too quickly at a cross road. There have been no fewer than three occasions in the last month where I’ve either had to lock up my brakes or swerve thanks to the thoughtless driving of others, and I sense the sickening moment is getting closer. Or is that just my mind, drafting another tale? How I loathe being between projects/tasks/opinions…holidays.

Have I mentioned all the driving I’ve got to do in the next few weeks?

And yet, I am happy. My kind of happy.

Now, off to locate two, 2-terabyte drives. I woke in a panic this morning realizing that a few of my shoots hadn’t been backed-up in triplicate.

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Conventional Wisdom

There was a moment during the Monster Mania 17 shoot where I felt the sharp, sharp slap of folly. My stomach knotted and dropped to the floor, and I nearly cracked into the kind of hysterics brought on by the sudden realization that I had miscalculated my risk by too great a distance. The exact moment of which I write is captured forever in the picture you see above. In a way, it was freeing. The jig was up. My tip-toe dance on and around eggshells would finally devolve into a madcap snow angel on the hilariously hideous carpeting.

To be fair, I wouldn’t have been completely surprised. What I was trying to do looked clinically insane to those who hadn’t spent months and months carefully planning it, and I was told as much by one of my very own actors. It actually reaffirmed my faith in her good sense. Going into a live convention unannounced to the public and attempting to shoot a feature film with everyone and everything as my multi-million dollar backdrop is the kind of idea that usually withers into dust whilst nursing the hangover caused by the bender that brought it on. But like so many projects I’ve undertaken, it made perfect sense to me. All I had to do was execute the plan to perfection, which meant directing a crew of almost 40 people for three days to never put a foot wrong lest we be escorted out by the authorities. Easy.

Anyway, the moment in question involves a scene where my main character throws her car keys to a friend on the other side of her vendor table. This friend is in the process of shooting her for his documentary, which meant he had to read his lines from behind the person running the camera. The first take went fine. Said keys hit him square in the chest and he fumbled them to security. The second take, however, saw the keys go over his head and onto the vendor table behind him; a table run by some very nice people who had already spoken with me about blocking their traffic with my sound cart. We’d been there for too long a time, and their angelic patience was quickly running out. When I heard the keys hit, well…I did that.

The folks at Fortress Press, Inc. had woken up very early in the morning and loaded their car full of two $300 tables worth of merchandise and driven to Cherry Hill, NJ from Lemoyne, PA with the only expectation being a possibly challenging task of making back their money in three days of noisy convention atmosphere. Now, they had a friggin’ movie being shot in front of them. We all know how most people react to seeing a camera: they run. One serious complaint to the hotel staff and we were history. So what did they do? They let us do another take, with the assurance it was the last. It was, and we got what we needed.

I’ve written a film about a young woman suffering the awful repercussions of the black underbelly of human nature, and I’d been rewarded by human nature of a very different kind. Sure, I promised Fortress Press, Inc. a mention on the film’s website and in the final credits, but they didn’t have any more assurance that would be good for business than the sudden arrival of some half-decent, weekend weather. I was humbled, and continue to be as I work my way through this somewhat daunting process. The question remains, however, if being rescued by the good graces of others (who, frankly, must have also been intimidated by the notion of shutting us down) will bring us the kind of luck we’ll need to carry us through the production, or help create a monster that will put me in deep emotional and financial debt for the rest of my life.

You can’t turn back after one head slap, can you? We look to shoot again in mid April. And if you would, please check out our blog, Facebook, and Kickstarter page. We could use a little more good nature, and again we promise to give back in kind.

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What do…


…Edward Furlong, Erin Grey, Crypie Clown, wolves eating humans, and “black man naked” have in common? Well, apparently they’ve all been keeping you busy while I was gone. See, those are the top searches that have kept my blog active while it was…inactive. At least they’ve stopped searching for “naked freckles”, although maybe I should speak for myself. There could be loads of naked freckly people out there quite happy to be sought after.

So, very quickly: been busy with the film, which is coming along. Principal photography begins March 11th at the Monster Mania convention, and while it’s going to be very tricky, I think I have all eventualities covered. It’s been a constant quest for permissions, really, and I’m nearly there with them all. I play over the shoot in my mind continuously, visualizing maneuvers in response to every obstacle. In all cases, there’s a deal being made: promises of rewards, credits, screen time, and, of course, straight-up cash; which I should have just enough of since the line of credit against my house went through. All I need is my pledge drive to be successful. Speaking of…

…on March 18th I will be asking the public at large to help me fund my film via Kickstarter.com. There are rewards in store for those who give, not to mention the warm feeling in your scary bone that you’ve helped make a very unique, indie-horror film happen. Love in advance to all of those who reach out, and I’ll be posting the direct link very soon.

In other news, sWitch continues to enthrall. Be sure to check out the blog for reviews and mostly daily updates of its progress and peeks into the darker windows of this beautiful planet. We have fun over there. Won’t you join us? The Amazon page has even more reviews, so do have a look.

I leave you with one of my favorite songs of all time. See you…

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Twenty-Four Hour Annual Birth Ritual

I go, prepared for the lessons of my scars.
Free to fall.

I’ll get up,
Go again,
A little further, as I always do.

Might need a lift, though.

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