Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Not Yet

Yesterday was my first daughter’s 19th birthday. Which means she’s now older than I was when she was born.

We’re a lot a like –- just today on the phone we realized we had both found and fell in love with the band Eels recently. And when I asked her yesterday how it felt to be 19, she launched into a hilariously deadpan musing on sudden enlightenment. Sounded exactly like some wiseass thing I’m sure I said to my own father once.

But I was thinking, if she followed in my footsteps too closely, I’d be a grandfather right now.


A grandpa with a one-month old baby himself.

Funny world. Glad I’m in it. I love it.

(And glad I'm not a grandpa yet. Please let me get more grey first...)

In terms of writing, I’ve been inspired by Scott the Reader’s write-every-day self challenge. I haven’t done at least an hour a day like he has, but I've done some non-work-related writing four days in a row now. Of course, he’s at like 36 or something…

In terms of other people’s writing, I rewatched part of Rushmore a few days ago. I really love the scene where Blume goes to see Miss Cross at her house and she offers him a carrot. It’s a great scene about the beginning of a love affair. Little is said overtly, but so much comes across in terms of attraction, curiosity, nervousness. Love.

I found the scene online and read it. Not much is given away in action lines, either. A fine example of trusting the reader, the director, the actors to get the scene.

Which I know is a risk.

Because what if they don’t get it?

But then, should they be reading it if they don’t?

Bravo Messrs. Anderson and Wilson.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Clever Little Bastard

Michael Davis was pretty smart in making sure he got the directing gig and not just the script option for his Shoot 'Em Up.

I tried to upload his animations into this blog but it didn't work.

So two things:

1. How do I do that? I hit the ADD VIDEO button, then chose the file and clicked upload, but all it did was put a blank box in the body of the post. Like this:

2. If you're interested, check them out at the Creatve Screenwriting podcast on iTunes. To convince New Line he should direct his own script, he made animated storyboards of some of the action scenes. 17,000 drawings or something. Smart use of his time, I say.

By the way, his interview is interesting, too. After writing 35 screenplays and directing five movies, he almost left the business to be a teacher because he was frustrated he wasn't "making it."

35 screenplays. Five films directed. Worked for years in LA.

Important cautionary tale for us specsters. It's a long and brutal road ahead of us.

First one who makes it, send up a flare.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Rubber Duckie, You're The One... (But Do You Sometimes Hate Water?)

I realized this weekend that my wife has made me a little girly.

Which bugged me and my testosterone a little.

But then I thanked her for making me a better writer.

Now, I’ve never been mister macho, grunting my way through conversations unless they’re about sports or porn, slapping waitresses on the ass, wanting to beat up people to amuse my friends. But I am a fairly normal guy.

And recently, I’ve become a little more girly.

To wit:

A) I sometimes like to take a bath instead of a shower. Actually, this is when I realized this whole thing this weekend -– as I was taking a bath. I’ve always been a shower guy. Seems more practical. I always wondered how you can really rinse off when you’re in the bath. But my wife comes from a long line of bath-takers. So I tried it. Now I kinda like baths. Maybe I should try to save manly face by saying it makes me feel like I’m in Unforgiven, soaking my weary bones after riding with the other cowboys all day. Wait, that still sounds girly. How about I feel like I’m in Deadwood. With whores all around. Relaxing after killing a Pinkerton who looked at me sideways. Another whiskey Dan, you cocksucker!

B) I sometimes refer to things as being cute. Been doing that more and more, actually, with the arrival of the baby girl. Who is cute, after all. And all the little clothes and blankets that come with her. Also cute. So far I haven’t pulled out the, “Awwwww” that a lot of women preface “cute” with, but I’m on that road. So don’t be surprised if, when you show me a photo of your new hybrid car, I turn my head to the side, furrow my brow and exclaim, “Awwww, it’s so cuuute!”

Why do I bring this up in a blog about writing?

I’m getting to that.

A couple days ago Bob Edwards interviewed Joyce Johnson, one of Jack Kerouac’s girlfriends, about her new book Minor Characters. (I read her Door Wide Open, which is a collection of letters between the two of them, with commentary by her –- very nice.) Anyway, she read an excerpt about watching Jack watch a cat eat its food. He crouched at a distance, taking in every move of the cat as it ate.

Simple enough -- a lot of people might not have noticed him doing this. But she did -- she knew the importance.

He did this, I’m thinking, because he wanted to be able to write right about cats when it was time to write about cats. Or that cat in particular, maybe. But he was studying it. Carefully. How does a cat eat, really?

So in the bath I was thinking about character. And how, if I wrote me, I might not think to write me taking a bath. Because I’m big man tough growl. But I like a bath now and again.

I think about the characters in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. In The Sopranos. Even in The Last Kiss (one that surprised me).

Those writers made good, solid, consistent characters, like you’re supposed to –- but they made them real by making them realistic. Not too predictable. Varied. Rich. Screwed up.

My guess is those writers have spent a lot of time watching the real characters all around them. And remembering that when they wrote.

It’s a good reminder, as I go through these next revisions on D Line –- to, yes, make the characters distinct from one another and consistent within themselves… but also a little inconsistent.

MLK was a model of love… and had fidelity issues. Johnny Cash was a genius… and an asshole of a drug addict. Hell, I bet George Bush even loves his kids.

No one is always one thing. So let’s not write them so.