Approaching the Desk from the Back

the-whole-fam-damily-044

Last January 2016, I started to have some health issues that became monumental, but did not define me.
I had to learn how to be production on about 45 minutes a day, instead of 5 hours, my normal time at the writing desk.
Deadlines had to be extended. One day instead of bellying up to the desk like I normally did, I came around the back. Here I found treasures that had been shoved out of the way. It was mind boggling the stuff that gets forgotten and mislaid.
Important stuff, which has new meaning and if I had not had that darn health challenge, would have been lost forever.
Hopefully 2017 will bring renewed strength, and as I have adopted the mantra: Bliss, Health and Happiness.

Sandwich Glass

IMG_0711 Today, the time had come to decorate the house, to ready it for the Savoir. I lined up all the ornaments and a magical beam of light streamed through the stained-glass window, especially bright, I blinked. The strongest came through a part of the window that had some glass missing. Have to get that fixed, it will have to wait until after Christmas. It was a red glass slice that had been out since my Mom died last year. Only a year ago, we went to the VMFA (Virginia Museum of Fine Arts) and chatted like schoolgirls. “You won’t believe what they have here,” she said. We turned one of the corridors filled with Egyptian Sarcophagus’ and marble statues. At the end of the hall was a lit curio cabinet shinning ruby red. We looked at each other and quickened our pace. We practically ran. “These look like the real ones, like at the beach in Sandwich, at the Glass Museum.” I said. “Exactly,” she said. We read the label, “SANDWICH GLASS.” We giggled, we both raced to the VMFA Museum Gift Store. We hid our packages. The next morning we exchanged gifts. One each of Cranberry Sandwich Glass Goblets. One year ago. Today I unpacked the bubble wrap on red, red glass. As I put it on the mantle with running cedar, I felt complete.

Bourbon St and Beyond

New Orleans '14 004

Bourbon Street and Beyond

Just three blocks from my hotel, MAISON DUPUY, in New Orleans, LA is a home that Tennessee Williams occupied after WWII. He wrote stories there for the WPA (Works Projects Authority) in the beginning of his writing journey. Curiosity overtook me and I laced the French Quarter streets sparkling wet from street cleaners early the next morning. Mardi Gras parades concluded just hours before. Some bars on Bourbon Street still cranked out tunes and burst with loud partying patrons.
Just past Bourbon St, hidden in a compound of historical homes the “Historic New Orleans Collection” is housed. The museum whispers history. Once the jangle of the iron work fencing and marble edifices subsides, the cobblestone estuaries lead to a library behind stable sized wooden doors. The public is welcome to view the works of Tennessee Williams, but a smirking blue-haired lady requested I give up my personal items to a locker before I could climb the stairs to the bookshelf-lined upper rooms. The collection is so vast that these notebooks hold the itemized manuscripts, you give the librarian an item number and then they search the archives for the actual work.
“Blue Children, please,” I squeaked. I opened the worn green notebook of mss. 562 – from the Fred W. Todd Tennessee Williams Collection, and jazaam! Pinch me, I entered his world. The same yellowed typing paper that actually graced an underwood typewriter eons ago touched from his hands to mine. Sandwiched in the notebook of FIELDS OF BLUE CHILDREN is the hand –typed manuscript of the short story by Tennessee Williams and the adapted script of the televised play. What a great way to compare the novelistic work with the thumping flesh characters. The script writers were Alfred Ryder, Richard Pollard and Kathy Billings. The main story is as goes: It is like much of Tennessee Williams’s work, it juxtaposes the practical, materialistic world against the more ephemeral arena of the artist. Sexual desire, passion, and creativity are in the poet Homer’s corner as opposed to the workaday world in which Myra and Kirk live after their marriage.
What I noticed most was that the short story statements popped to prominence in the script. The voice of Myra murmurs, “Words are a net to catch beauty.” In script form, this is the shout out theme. In the short story this phrase is buried next to descriptive blooms. The script makes good use of V.O., sometimes discouraged by script consultants. I agree, there may be overuse in the teleplay. BLUE CHILDREN as script doesn’t include an inciting incident, whoops; and there is no character arc, imagine that. Its flaws determines that the script meanders on as if perusing city streets after a cocktail.
TRUE DETECTIVE achieves a good adaptation of descriptive prose to live action, next week I’ll compare the script to the televised version to make light of the writing process. Nic Pizzolatto is my new Lent hero.

Pitching

So it’s time to meet with the all powerful producer(s).

You’ve done your homework — you’ve chosen your venue to present your masterpiece. Hold your breath, no breathe Just a little “e”, big difference.

Passion, brilliance, & clarity.

Gather your loyal pets, Fido and Skippy. Practice, practice, practice.

State your name, rank and serial number. Next your hook, and two or three turning points,

Go for it. Be conversational.

Compliment the producers’ work, it can’t hurt. Pup tails will wag! Screenplay title, enunciate-be memorable-you may get some earshakes!

MOVIE COMPS. STAR ATTACHMENTS.

 

 

 

Once in a Blue Moon

What does a Blue Moon look like? Today I was reunited with my father after he was held emotionally hostage by his second wife for over a decade. A blue moon looks like the crystal blue eyes he has opened to his newly liberated world.

What does a blue moon feel like? “Once in a Blue Moon” feels like his blue eyes sparkling once again — and his wry smile smirk on a quip – or his mischievous eyes slide a knowing smile.

Yes, its been at least 15 years since I was sure that my emails, letters, phone messages or pleas were shredded by jealous hands. Hands that tenderly care for animals, but shun any human grace.

He’s living with my dear sister now. A blue moon feels like the world has been set right, full and shiny blue all over the blue planet.

Happy, that’s how a blue moon feels.

Love you Dad, thanks for the hug and kiss! Can’t wait for you to see your “All grown up” grandchildren who have waited patiently for you to reappear too.

Once in a Blue Moon sounds like a sigh, and smells like tousled grey hair.

 

Moving Along, Hitch’s B’day and Greenlight Blinks

First a great shout out to my colleague, Crystal A for placing in the Creative  World Award Screenwriters Contest!!

creative world awards crystal adaway

We both are members of the VSF, wonderful group.

Now is the time to consider making that blockbuster: Just a few steps outlined here: How to get a Hollywood Studio to greenlight your film. Not the easiest thing to do in life, but if we don’t try how far do we know we will go??!!

I would also like to wish Alfred Hitchcock a merry, merry 114th b’day. He really started alot of unique cinema trends and here is a great video that explains some techniques that I had never understood before.

Made in Britain Alfred Hitchcock. 

This BioDoc focuses its concentration on Hitch’s life pre-Hollywood 23 movies. Perspective and movie special effects were his game and by 23 he was a proven director of those techniques. As assistant director he built sets that enabled his boss to only shoot in one way. His pre-Hollywood movies showed his prevailing themes: Voyeurism, Wrongly Accused and Murder. At 28 he was top director with, “The Lodger”. In “Stages” he banked his first cameo, although it was the back 9of his head.

Pay special attention to the clip from 19.42 -23.40 for a primer on his perspectively ingenious special effects. These were the days before post production where all the magic had to be captured in real time. Boggling thought. No green screen no blue screen, ah technology. Creativity was the key to success way back then. We are talking 1929, when the talkies emerged that Hitch made his strides.

“Language of the cinema is the language of the writer.” As Hitchcock says and does. He cleverly uses his first voice pieces to instruct the subconscious to suspense.

My favorite film trick, which I had never figured out before is known as the Shifting Process.

Hitch placed his camera at a 45 degrees angle to reflect a model. Then a mirror was placed in view with the silver scraped from a rectangle shape next to the model (in view of the camera) and any action can be placed, live or projected to appear next to the model at the model’s scale and therefore tricking the eye. Hitch used this famously as a British Museum piece when he was barred from filming there.

Now on to his most famous technique developed in Britain. Show, react- show again, as writers we can use those  magic tricks. Catch the blink, Greenlight, win some contests and show, show response and show again. RIP Hitch, the joke’s on us.

One more thing, “Blackmail”, also one of the pre-Hollywood 23 has a delightfully conflicted female character who is both innocent and guilty. Ah the magic of words. This is all before he came to Hollywood and “Rebecca.”

 

 

 

Scripting a Choregraphed Fight Scene

Have you ever wondered how to script a fight? Who doesn’t love a good Jackie Chan romp?

Maybe you don’t have visions of melee. But it sure can be a great climax! I’ve collected some info and sites to help if you are so inclined.

To begin: Make it clear who is attacking – with a clean attacking motion and a fully extended arm toward one of the targets.Make it clear who is defending, by making sure the parrying person’s weapon straight up and down.

Therefore if A is attacking B, have A raise their weapon straight up and down. This may not be the correct fighting pose, but it photographs well.

Next: Keep the choreography short and simple. Every action should incur a reaction.

So if Warrior A decides to challenge Soldier B, then A could cut to the left hip and parry a low line left.

I like this video which illustrates some of this so far:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQD8a8hhaD8&nomobile=1

Next deflect a blow to the head (SHOT <—– cut to head) I would not advise scripting a camera shot, just saying, but you can cleverly do this by describing this action. Don’t forget only four sentences in a paragraph for each scene.

I would enter some dialogue here: “Ahrg”, or “grr.”

Now repulse the blow with a low line right. You have created a 3 move fight. To make the fight longer, just repeat these moves, but have the other person start it.

Some say don’t even script an action scene in a blockbuster.

http://io9.com/why-you-should-never-write-action-scenes-into-your-tent-511712234

I say write it. It’s your story and your movie. You can pay the piper later.

Happy Die Hard Anniversary!

Feel the juice running in the veins of screenwriting.

A very, very famous screenwriter apparently grew up across the neighborhood from me. His younger brother was in my class at Neshaminy SHS.

Good ole Neshaminy, means “water that drinks twice”. Its from the Lenape Native language.

Yup, great action film – so irrelevant  and yet so universally applauded. Written by a homey, so ironic!