Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Oops, She Did It First

I’ve been a little worried about the originality of the action script I’m working on. It involves a hit man and a deal gone bad -– not the most groundbreaking motifs for an action film, admittedly. In fact I just read that two of the buzz movies at Sundance had to do with hit men.

I haven’t seen a whole lot of hit man movies, so I loaded my Netflix queue with them, so I can make sure I don’t accidentally go where a bunch of people have already gone. The most frustrating kind of plagiarism is the accidental kind.

This was not a worry I had with The D Line. In that script, the driving dramatic moment that makes everything turn to shit is when a girl commits suicide by stepping in front of a train. The conductor later connects with the girl’s mother and they both struggle to make sense of all this. There’s more to it of course -– but the image of the girl’s suicide is what started me thinking about the story in the first place.

A couple years ago I was listening to a report on NPR about how long it takes to stop a train -– which, it’s no surprise, is a long time -– and I started thinking about what it must be like for a conductor to see that he’s about to hit something, from a long way off, and there’s nothing at all that he can do. Like if someone steps on the tracks and waits to be hit and killed. I just thought that was a great, powerful image that I’d never seen dealt with in a movie.

Then, last night, I started leafing through the January/February issue of Creative Screenwriting.

And I saw I’m not as much of a vanguard as I thought.

And I said, “Fuck.”

There’s a brief article about a screenwriter named Micky Levy and her first produced screenplay, Rails and Ties.

From the article:

“Around that time, Levy became fascinated by the American railroad system… attempted an action movie in which the climax involved a huge fight to gain control of the locomotive… she grew frustrated… a conductor agreed to meet her… he began talking about rail-related suicides… even when they see the victims, conductors often can’t stop the trains in time… she had found a better story… about a train tracks suicide and the effect it has on a conductor who forms a bond with the victim’s child.”

It’s directed by Allison Eastwood and stars Kevin Bacon and Marcia Gay Harden. Check it out:

Fuck, man.

I mean, like I said, there’s a lot of stuff in my script that’s not in this -– and a lot in this that’s not in my script… but is some agent gonna be like, “Oh shit, not another train suicide movie!”

Just goes to show you what we all know -– there are no original ideas.

So it’s all in the execution.

Let’s hope mine is as good as hers, ‘cause she got it made.

Micky Levy actually seems kinda cool, and is now working on a nonfiction film with Amy Berg. You go girl~~

Friday, January 25, 2008

If I'm On Hold, I Might As Well Work

So the weekend came and went with no call from J.

Listen, everyone’s busy. Especially people in New York. Really especially people in the music industry in New York. So I’m not going to sweat it.

Maybe he calls, maybe he doesn’t. (I sound like a 12-year-old girl trying to be brave, don’t I?)

Maybe he handed the script off to the actor’s management, maybe he didn’t.

We’ll just sit back and see.

To tell you the truth, it’s not too bad if he didn’t hand it off yet. See, I’ve decided to make a few changes. Nothing too drastic, but I’ve just been talking to a few trusted readers, and I think it could use a wee tweaking.

I know, I know. You can’t tweak forever. Or rather you can tweak forever, and so you shouldn't. But these are pretty minor, and I know what to do, and I think they’ll make it even stronger with just a little more work.

So I’ll do a minor revision -- and do it soon, because I have a couple of other contacts standing by, graciously waiting to hand it off to some more Hollywooders, and I want to be ready to start showing it around once the strike ends.

And, to those of you who have it and are interested, I’ll track the changes, so if you want to check them out you won’t have to read the whole thing over again.

By the way, the work on the action script went pretty well in DC. I actually worked on it during a few breaks in the conference and for a couple hours each night. It was more adjusting the first act than moving past it, so I’m still only a little past 30 pages, but it’s feeling pretty good.

I never really send out preliminary pages -- doing so kinda freaks me out -- but I did send the first 17 pages of this one to a small circle of folks whom I trust and am PATIENTLY awaiting their FEEDBACK.

Hint, hint.

Mainly I was asking them if they think the general direction is solid. I know it’s messy and has some holes -- but these are BRIGHT PEOPLE who are SMART enough to see where I’m going and can TELL ME IF IT’S IN THE RIGHT NEIGHBORHOOD.

Hint, HINT.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Travels Of The Spec Script

So I got in touch with J (see a couple of posts ago for an explanation) and have an update on The D Line's travels.


Yes, he did receive the script. Yes, he read the script. Yes, he enjoyed the script. Yes, he wants to talk about the script, and he's calling this weekend to do so.

I didn't ask if he handed it off to the actor's management, and he didn't bring it up, but I'll ask this weekend.

So the update is... no real update.

But maybe after this weekend.

As for the action script, I'm about 30 pages in. I have to go to a three-day conference for work in DC next week, so that's two nights in a hotel room alone.

Hopefully I'll cowboy up and actually spend some good time writing while I have it.

Come on David -- you can do it!

Friday, January 11, 2008

If you are in need of reassurance that there is true beauty in the world beyond the type pimped by Vogue, that there is such a thing as soul in a country that created smooth jazz, that there are reasons to smile even when no one is paying you or giving you 20% off –- and if you’re wondering if kids can be born with a deep wisdom before we teach them a thing –- look into the eyes of this little girl.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Holy Hibernation

Fell asleep there for a few weeks...

What's awakened me is the realization that loglines suck.

And I say that mainly because I suck at writing them.

Or one for The D Line anyway.

It’d be easier if this screenplay weren’t a thinky ensemble period piece in a non-standard structure. Or so I’m telling myself.

But hell, don’t you think it’d be easier to write a logline for Spiderman than for Magnolia?

But I’m gonna do it, dammit! Just try and stop me!

Actually, my wife and one of the other bloggers ‘round here both picked the same one from the batch I sent them, and they’re both smart, so I think I’ll go with that.

In other D Line news:

I submitted to BlueCat and will to Scriptapalooza soon.

And, a funny thing.

I wrote The D Line with a certain actor in mind to play the lead. He started out as a music artist and made the jump to movies (though his records are still great), and I’m a huuuge fan of both his music and his acting. From the very beginning of this process, I had him in mind to lead. It helps, I think, if you can picture people as you write characters. Even if you're casting pipe dreams.

The manager of a friend of mine suggested another actor –- an amazing actor who could pull it off without question, but in terms of my initial intention, it was this guy. Not that I'd stop said manager from sending the script to the other guy, mind you.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, we were at my wife’s high school reunion and we met a guy she knew in high school, we’ll call him J. Cool guy, good to talk with, good energy. The kind of guy you meet at a high school reunion and you’re not desperately thinking up excuses to slink away –- “Uh, gotta get me in on that Macarena, looks hot!” I met a couple of those guys, by the way, but this guy I liked.

When we got to the so-what-are-you-doing-now bit, he mentioned he worked for a record company in New York. And it just happens to be the record label of the aforementioned wish-lead for The D Line.

“Really? You know, interestingly, I wrote this script…”

Turns out J is into movies, has worked as a music supervisor, and oh, happens to work in the same offices as the music management team of the guy I wrote the goddamn script for. J agrees to read the script and then hand it over to them.

Now, this is certainly nothing to get worked up about. I mean, maybe J will be too busy to read it, or maybe he won’t like it and won’t want to hand it off, or maybe the music managers will be like, “The fuck’s this? We don’t do movies.”

But still, it’s cool. So maybe, just maybe, the script is a few steps away from its intended star.

Or maybe it’s in the trash can.

Hopefully at least the recycle bin. Let's think of the earth, people.