Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Not Dreaming Of Daisy

Had one of those awesomely detailed dreams last night.

It was the opening scene for a crime thriller, complete with dialogue, movements of a ton of people, opening titles and a score.

Isn't the brain cool? I mean, even a pedestrian one like mine? Where did the backstory come from? The faces of all the people? The Massive Attack-like music? The floor plan of the club where that guy was doing that thing?

I take this as a good sign. We all remember the dream in college in which you get to the end of the semester and realize you never went to one class and have failed it. When I was teaching, I had dreams of class sessions, some inspired, some ridiculous. When I was knee-deep in producing the latest show I did and I was working 16 hours a day, my dreams often took the form of Avid editing -- start a scene, pause, rewind, recut, start over.

So now dreaming about a movie opening, maybe it means my mind is getting back to focusing on crafting a new script from the ether. Or wait. Would that take a dream about typing on an old laptop in the dark with a glass of bourbon next to me?

Anyway, this morning my son fell asleep as I drove him to daycare, which means only a 10 minute nap, so I wanted to give him a little more time to rest before toddlers started howling and throwing Elmo dolls at him. We sat in the parking lot, idling, Cannonball Adderley playing on the stereo, him conked out in the car seat, me scribbling down all the details I could remember from the dream.

Who knows. Maybe it'll be something.

If not, at least it reminded me about the weird process of creativity and made me take down some story notes...

And no, dear, Daisy Fuentes did not make an appearance. Promise.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Free Time? What Free Time?

It's there. Dismal is in the offices of the Sundance selectors. Whoever they are. So our future in Utah is no longer in our control.

Today (my anniversary by the way), Ray, Jeff and I meet to plan out the remaining work on Dismal to get ready for the next festivals we'll submit to. SXSW and Tribeca both have early December deadlines, so we hope to be finished with the fine cut by Thanksgiving.

This means a more editing to tighten up a few places, fix some problems, make the moments we haven't made yet, plus giving the various fellows the time to do the full score composition, full sound mix, full color correction, etc.

And we'll cut a good trailer, print up some one sheets and prepare a press kit for when we'll need them.

But what I think this means for me is that while there's still much work ahead, it's mainly managerial stuff, which should free up a little more time to get back to that thing we do.


It's been a while.

I mean, I've done a lot of writing for the regular job -- which has been fun and has worked out well, since we're on the verge of signing two pilots and some MOWs -- but no scripts.

My plan is first to bang out some outlines for the next two movies for 1944, then dive back into the Harlem movie. Then, as I'm working on the Harlem rewrite I can let the 1944 outlines percolate, and when I go back to fixing the 1944 outlines I can let the Harlem rewrite percolate.

Seems like that's the way it works for me. Good to have one thing to work on immediately, to distract my mind from the other thing -- which is when the good ideas come for the other thing. And vice versa.

I think most writers I know work this way.

And outsiders think we're just being lazy and unfocused.


Now let's all waste some time Googling my current favorite phrase, from Greg's Web of Lies and Deceit: rusty Chinese tongue muscles.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Park City Bound

Okay, it's actually LA bound. Turns out the Sundance submission offices are in Los Angeles.

So much for independence in the mountains.

Anyway, we finished the rough mix today and they're laying back tonight.

Tomorrow we run dubs and send it off to beat the September 25 deadline.

Very cool.

It's just a rough cut, though -- still needs some picture changes, only has temp music, sound, etc. -- so we still have lots to do before the next round of festivals.

But anyway, it's nice to have met our first goal.

That is, if the dubs work out, and if we make the FedEx deadline, and if the container doesn't get pulled off the plane, and if...

Monday, September 11, 2006

Did Anyone Get The Mailing Address For Sundance?

Early last week, we finally got the approved rough cut of Dismal locked. Or, I think we got the approved cut locked – after the last set of notes I didn’t get a chance to watch again since it had to ship out. But hopefully all the changes are made. Makes me nervous, not seeing that last cut, but I trust our editor, so I know it’s okay.

Please. Tell me it’s okay.

The movie’s hovering at about 94 minutes, which I think is perfect, and now it’s off to the composer, color timing and the sound editors.

Or it was supposed to be.

Somehow, the sound guys never got the stuff they needed.


These are some crack sound editors, so I know they’ll catch up, but it’s one of those little details that can really make a project stumble. They were supposed to have it a few days ago, and the deadline for Sundance is fast approaching.

After almost 10 years in the business, it still amazes me how complex it is, and how so much can ride on small things not being done – or being done wrong.

There was this show we did once. A crime show about a biker gang. The main enforcer of the gang was a giant martial arts master who, when he was arrested, sent a couple FBI agents to the hospital and shattered a door frame in the police station when a roundhouse kick he intended for a cop’s head missed by a hair. The guy was a monster, and I tried to relay this to casting very clearly: I need a bad ass motherfucker in the true sense of the word, someone large, with an intimidating physical presence, someone with a mean look who is very comfortable on a big Harley. A bad ass motherfucker.

What casting apparently heard was: he’s part Asian.

What they cast was a tiny little Chinese man who couldn’t have weighed more than a buck twenty, who had never been on a motorcycle, and who was frightened by the sound of grips yelling “Hot points!”

And I find this out when the crew and cast show up on location in Ohio, ready to shoot. Director calls me: "Uh. David? You know that bad ass motherfucker we talked about?"

Somehow we pulled off the show, but we obviously had to lose the idea of this character as an enforcer. Of library protocol, maybe, but certainly not of a biker gang.

Anyway, it’s the little details. You try not to obsess over them. You try not to micromanage. And you don’t want to be an ass about it, but damn if that doesn’t come back to haunt you sometimes…

Enough bitching. Gotta make sure we have that address down right.