Thursday, August 31, 2006

Children's Books

Today is my son's birthday. The awesome little fella is one. His favorite book is, "What Does Baby Say?" Nice big, simple pictures of cute little kids saying things to fit their mood: "What does the hungry baby say? Ba-ba." I love reading this book -- and others like it -- to him. I love watching my wife read these books to him. Sometimes he's just not in the mood and instead wants to point at the ceiling fan or crawl after the dog. But most times he's looking intently at the illustrations, his big beautiful curious eyes moving all over the page, looking at all the little details, pointing, always pointing, at the stuff that he thinks is cool. "Duck! Duck!"

In a couple weeks it will be my daughter's birthday. The incredible young woman will be 18. She's at college now. She recently started a conversation with, "Dad, I think I'm an existentialist" and wants me to send her the collection of Hemingway short stories she accidentally left behind. She's jonesing for Hemingway and the existentialism she finds there. Cracks me up. I love talking books with her -- listening to her get excited about what she's read and what she thought about while reading it, sharing stuff I've read with her and the thoughts I had reading.

Every night of my daughter's life, until she learned to read herself, I read her a book. Now, that's what my wife and I are doing with our son.

Cheers, kids, to your books. Trust them: they won't let you down.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Whose Hat Has Your Head Been Under?

It hit me last night -- or, this morning, really -- as I drove home from an edit session at 3:45am.

Not a deer crossing I-64 in a frantic flight from Hampton Roads sprawl. No, what hit me was a thought that eased my recent bout of self-disappointment. Not that that’s a word, even hyphenated, but you get the idea and I’m too tired to whip out the thesaurus.

I’d just spent seven hours with the editor and one of the other producers, whittling down the Dismal cut so that we’re pretty close to where we want to be by the next screening with all the producers.

We needed to cut about half an hour, maybe a touch more, and so the bulk of the revision was hacking stuff out. It was a weird, splintering experience.

As a writer, I really wanted to hold on to a lot of the moments and lines and story developments in there. I mean, I spent a lot of time coming up with them, and frankly I think most of them worked pretty well -- developing character, building tension, adding depth to the story.

Don’t get me wrong, there were some places I thought, “What the hell was I thinking when I wrote that,” but overall, I thought the story worked nicely.

But we had to lose half an hour. Shit had to go.

So I reminded myself what hat was currently topping my slam-bald head. Right now, I’m a producer. I happen to be the producer who wrote the script, but still, I’m a producer. Producers have to keep the full scope of things, the Big Picture if you will, in mind always, and not get too bogged down in the art if the thing.

I mean, the thing needs some art of course, but it has to keep asses in seats, too.

So anyway, as producer, I worked with the team to get the cuts made –- sacrificing some of the subtle moments that intellectually I enjoy, but don’t get us where we need to get. My wife calls it “being willing to kill your babies.”

And they were good cuts.

(Poor little babies.)

And then, as I was weaving down the highway with fatigue, I realized I don’t need to get down on myself for not writing a lot right now. Because right now, I’m not a writer. Not primarily anyway. I’m a producer. And having the skills of a producer, well honed and exercised regularly, can only help me in the long run. The Big Picture if you will.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just exhausted. I mean, damn. A Shania Twain reference for a title?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

So Why Don't You Kill Me


That was a long break.

I'm a loser.

But you knew that.

So here's a quick update -- not that anyone's reading this anymore...

On Dismal: The rough assembly came out last week at 2 1/2 hours. It was just an assembly -- but you could see the movie within, so it was very exciting. Peed my pants. Really.

We sat and reviewed and gave notes to the editor who is busily chipping away. Sound editors and composer are all waiting with bated breath for the locked rough cut so they can work their temp magic in time to make the September 25th Sundance deadline. Which we're still on schedule to make.

After that, we all get back to work to make the fine cut, to send out to other festivals and distributors.

The editor's also hoping to have a trailer by the end of September.

So we have ins at Lions Gate and Sony, and I'm trying to get in touch with a friend of a friend with contacts at The Weinstein Company. Other suggestions? Rogue? Focus?

As for festivals, we're gonna try Austin, SXSW, Tribeca and Toronto. Suggestions?

Oh yeah. And we're shooting a day and a half of pick-ups/inserts this weekend.

And on the Harlem movie: Not a damn thing in months.

Here's the conundrum I face. I have SO MUCH SHIT TO DO just with family and my regular job. Add to that all the work left to do on Dismal and my time runs slam out. But then there's the Harlem movie that my heart is really telling me to get done now, plus there's the three other scripts I want to outline for 1944 Films, so that when someone sees and likes Dismal and asks what's next, we can tell them.


Everybody says this, but... there's just not enough time.

Wow. Not only am I a loser, but I'm a cliched one.