Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Just a day in life

I went to a watch store to replace the band and battery of my watch. It's a ritual that happens once or so per year; price for the insistence of having a leather band. Every time the band is replaced, I wonder if there isn't some protection that can be put on it to lengthen its life – or am I doing something wrong to shorten its lifespan? I stop thinking about it the moment I strap on the watch and move on with my day, rationalizing that like everything else – the watch band won't last forever, no matter how hard I try.

When I left the store, I had to make a right-turn-only that, while designed to help traffic flow, only made it worse – every car that actually obeyed the sign simply u-turned forty feet down the road, causing far more disruption. In getting onto the freeway moments later, I noted a sign that, warning of a median strip, blocked the view of oncoming traffic. The blocked view of oncoming traffic was far more dangerous than the unlikely possibility of hitting the median.

Noting the irony of nothing lasting forever (on a timepiece no less), and the larger mistakes made in the attempt to improve something minute, I ponder my life's recent turns.

Finding meaning in everything can be an artist's weakness. Tremendous emotional turmoil tends to take these observations in embarrassing turns to the sophomoric. I know that and thus apologize for what is almost certainly adolescent writing. I recall an English professor speaking to me about three dead birds in the park. Were those three dead birds to appear in a novel or a poem or movie, it would have tremendous symbolic significance. In real life though, it is the curse of the overwrought novelist, poet (or filmmaker) who actually walks through the park not to simply note -- it is just three dead birds. Nothing more.


Much less esoteric, adolescent and of more potential interest: I interviewed for a feature film directing job yesterday. Of course, the odds are extreme; the movie may never happen and I was but one person being interviewed. However, the possibility – the mere offer, gave me some hope; a bit of light in an otherwise dark month. The movie is a "Bollywood" feature, meaning (for those that don't know) an Indian movie, shot in India, with dance numbers, casts of thousands, etc. India is the largest producer of films in the world; a country where actors and actresses are deified in a way that has never happened in the U.S. – not even during the silent movie era. Though this wouldn't be a musical per se, it would include a couple musical numbers. I've always fantasized about directing a musical as if it were still the 1940's or 50's. It's an era that is gone, never to return except in a 'period' or 'retro' way. Doing a dance sequence as if Busby Berkeley were still the king today would require tongue firmly planted in cheek – lest one be laughed out of the theater.

The one possibility is the Bollywood film. There, the fantasy, musical style and innocence still remain to a certain extent. Add to that the fact of the Indian music being so darn danceable – wow, what a great chance.

We shall see.

Here, to put a grin and laugh on your face is a Bollywood dance number from 1965. The movie, Gumnaam is essentially Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians. You'd never know it from the following scene. If I had my chance, this is the style of song and dance (updated of course to be a touch less goofy) that I would love to do.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

where in the journey am I?

The hero's journey is something that every writer knows. It's the basic construct of much literature and film. Some might deride the 'structure' and 'pat-ness' of it, but it works. It's the real deal.

Lately, to keep a sense of humor about things, I've been applying this monomyth to my life. Just to keep sane as things were going a bit haywire.

Here's the rub to doing that: I thought I hit the 'Supreme Ordeal' last month when the movie was put on hold. This past week, I found that was just a little bump, one of the 'tests' that the hero must pass; mere preludes.

What I'm going through now... This, I hope, is the Supreme Ordeal. If not, I'm in for a serious bruising.

Unfortunately, the ordeal is not movie making related, it's not 'creative energy' related.

It is relationship related. It's the sort of ordeal that lays its blanket of pain, fear, anger and upset over every aspect of life.

Please forgive the nebulosity, it's a form of self-protection.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Stop walking and get back to writing

It looks like the writers that have been getting all that great exercise strolling around the studios may be able to get back to sitting in front of their computers for inordinate amounts of time.

The WGA is putting their tentative agreement out there this weekend for the rank and file to vote on. Most people are guessing that the WGA strike will come to an end of sorts, which is great news. However, it's not the be-all end-all yet. For Television writers, it is good news but for people like, oh… myself… it isn't the end of worries.

The hope is that now when the writers and directors get the contracts they like, SAG will quickly get one. However, until that actually happens, not a lot of movies are going to get the greenlight.

Hopefully the dissension within the actors unions isn't a harbinger of things to come. Currently AFTRA (yet another union – for actors) has started negotiating on their own. SAG hasn't started yet.

    Feb 4, 2008 by Richard Verrier

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists has made good on its threat to break ranks with its more powerful sister union, the Screen Actors Guild.

AFTRA's board of directors voted Saturday to separately negotiate its upcoming prime-time television contract with the major studios -- without SAG at the bargaining table.

The decision effectively ends a 27-year partnership between the two unions under which they had jointly negotiated film and prime-time TV contracts. It also could complicate key upcoming negotiations for actors, whose contract expires June 30, potentially allowing the studios to play off one union against the other.


While this hasn't been big news yet for the public, this is the thing that is concerning a lot of movie people – even more than the WGA strike. Hopefully it will all settle down quickly.


Anyway, at least today, things seem to be looking up in a very broad sense.