Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Merry Month of May

And I say "merry" with all the sarcasm I can muster. Oh, it didn't start off too badly. I did my temp stint and, as I expected, I was tossed to the wolves yet again, yet I survived. I hadn't even recovered from that ordeal when I got the mother of all kidney stone attacks. That was bad enough, and then on top of that, I got a weird sinus/allergy infection, one of the worst I've ever had. It wasn't helped due to the high pollen count in the area either. Which meant that in between fever, hacking, pain, sneezing, coughing, wheezing, I only managed to eke out a few pages on my latest spec.

I've been at this long enough, you'd think I'd know what I was doing, but I'm concerned over my lack of output. So far this year I've only completed one rewrite, and a script tweak that turned into a full blown page one rewrite for a director.

Now it's not that I lack ideas, far from it. I've begun (and this is a conservative estimate) at least 5 scripts (if not more) only to get distracted, put it aside, and start something new. By this time last year I had three new specs under my belt. I'm usually such a workaholic---I can remember years when I banged out spec after spec, spitting them out like tacks.

I'm not quite sure what it means. Look, for years I kept that pace up, I suppose it was bound to let up eventually, but I don't know if I like it. In the past, I've tried writing several scripts at once (working on one in the morning, the other in the afternoon), but it's a tough schedule to keep up. I usually found that I'd get so engrossed in one script, that it was hard to get in the groove of the second.

Well, hopefully June will be easier, both writing wise and health wise. One sickness at a time, please.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Ending The Story

I'm always going on about, when I'm reading a script, how I can tell in the first couple of pages if it's going to be any good. Let me put it this way; I have never read a script that started out bad and then suddenly became wonderful. It's like going on a blind date. As you primp, you hope, nay pray, that the guy isn't going to be loser in the first degree. And when Mr. Dreamboat spits like a dog and has the table manners of a donkey, you want to get it over with as quickly as possibly.

Nobody wants to read a crummy script, least of all me. It's hard on my eyes, I'm constantly changing my printer ribbons. Hell, my printer, just 2 years old, died on me this week. So when I crack open a script, I want to be entertained and engaged from the get go.

And the ending is just as crucial. I've read many scripts that after great foreplay, petered out and limped towards a disjointed, discombobulated ending. A good ending shouldn't be all that much work, really, if you've done your job right in the pages that came before it. It should be organic, not half-baked. If it's a twist ending, the clues should have been there all along, like THE SIXTH SENSE. The ending should not be something that makes you go hmmmm.

Take, for example, the glorious GONE WITH THE WIND. Scarlett finally comes to her senses and realizes that she's loved Rhett all along, but it's too late. He spurns her. Would the movie have become the classic it now is if Rhett had instead swept her into his arms and played fishy face? Not on your life.

Or another great movie, CASABLANCA. Yeah, I suppose Rick and Ilsa could have run away together, ending up in a tenement in Brooklyn, far away from the realities of war. On second thought, I don't think so.

A script is like a jigsaw puzzle. Page by page, you're putting it together, and when you get to page 105 or 116, the ending should write itself.

Note: I'm not a big fan of trick endings. You know the kind I mean, where the bad guy, seemingly dead, rises from the grave to wreak more havoc not once, but several times. A good ending is like a good house guest. They don't overstay their welcome, they clean up after themselves, and they remember to keep the toilet seat down.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Another Great Actor

Okay, so my love, lust and appreciation for the wonder that Ted Levine is well known, but there are other actors who are equally deserving of my admiration and respect such as the great David Straithairn.

Like Ted, you've probably seen David in dozens of movies and didn't recognize him due to his skill and dexterity in immersing himself in his roles: EIGHT MEN OUT, THE RIVER WILD, THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM, LA CONFIDENTIAL, and perhaps my favorite of all, SNEAKERS. Equally adept in drama and comedy, David is, like Ted, an "actor's actor". His Oscar nomination for GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK was richly deserved.

I have never seen David give a bad performance. That's the highest compliment I can pay. Plus, he's easy on the eyes, let's not forget that.