Friday, July 29, 2005

Ideas(and no, not where they come from)

It was like five years ago. I'm trucking down the road, exceeding the speed limit, and this bitch pulls out quickly in front of me, then proceeds to go below the speed limit.

I thought, "You effin c**t, you were in such a hurry to get in front of me just so you could drive 30 in a 35 zone".

Then I thought, hey--maybe she's retarded. I wish I had a sign that said "It's the big pedal on the right". Which led me to think what a cool invention it would be to have these big flash cards with funny sayings. You know, like "It's not called the passing lane because we're all passing you."

And they'd be printed in reverse on the back side so you could hold it up to the guy eyeing you in his rearview mirror and he'd be able to read it perfectly.

But of course I never did anything about it. Only mentioned it to a few people when the notion hit me, or some prick pissed me off while driving.

Yesterday I stumbled on this:

Yep, my exact idea. I'm not too pissed about it. I know that I never would have done anything about the idea. Somebody might as well make money on it.

But scripts! Those, I get pissed about. It's happened many a time. I'll start writing a script and then when I'm about halfway through I'll read a trade where a script was just bought, and the logline sounds just like mine.

It's a bitch. It doesn't always stop me because--face it--it's not the idea so much as the execution. Heck, I heard about "American Psycho" about a year after we filmed HH, but before we'd finished editing it.

I was a little panicked, so I went out and read the book. Nothing like my flick. Went and saw the movie--really, the only similarity is that they're both office workers by trade, serial killers in their off hours.

But there are times you'd swear someone stole the idea. Which is clearly impossible when I've never told a soul, and haven't even finished the script.

But it's frustrating, especially when the idea's a doozy. One of those hazards of the trade, I guess.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

So there was this contest...

I can't remember how it came up. I think someone mentioned that I ought to do a "Hunting Humans" comic book, and I said I didn't have the time, and this writer buddy chimed in that he could write it.

I guess I probably looked at him funny. He then got a little insulted and said, "What, you don't think I can do it?" And I said that really, no one can get Aric Blue's voice to really sound like it should(and by voice I mean the way they talk, their personality).

So--and you'd think he was drunk, but he doesn't drink--he says "I bet I can write Aric better than you can." And I remember laughing.

He devised a contest--we would both write one issue of a "Hunting Humans" comic and get three objective people to take a look.

About six weeks later we both had our comics. I really just translated the beginning of my "Hunting Humans 3" script into comic form(I didn't have the time to write any new stuff, and please don't ask me about HH2).

We only found 2 judges(one was the other writer's wife) and we turned them over with no author's names on them anywhere. We asked 3 questions: Which was a better comic, which did they like better, and which one was closer to the Aric from the movie.

The first judge(our very own Stewie) emailed me his results--all three in my favor. He thought the other Aric was far too angry to be the Aric from HH.

Then the other judge chimed in(after informing me that she thought she could tell the difference in the scripts just by looking at the formatting, and she was right)--she liked the other writer's script as a comic better, but she agreed my Aric was closer to the movie. (Personally, I think she just said she liked his better out of pity)

So we don't need a third judge, because I've already won two out of three.

The point is...I don't think anyone can write Aric better than I can. I created him. He lives in me, since a huge part of me is him. I've written two and half scripts with him, as well as a ten page bio sheet before I started HH.

The other writer had my wife and I over for dinner the other day where he tried to lose graciously, and failed. Better luck next time!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Totally Bizarre

There's an entire category of auctions on eBay called "Totally Bizarre". I hadn't checked it in a while. I didn't realize it had turned into perv paradise.

This auction is the reason I don't allow pictures to be taken of me. Ever.

eBay freaky1

Are you sensing a pattern here:

eBay freaky2

Now THIS is pretty cool, in a macabre kind of way:

eBay freaky3

Wow, there are a lot of desperate people(Steve, try to refrain from bidding, if you haven't already :)

Stewie's bid on this twelve times

There's far too many funny listings to do individually, so if you want to see all of the Totally Bizarre listings, click here:

Totally Bizarre stuff


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Sleeping Alone

I had a moment last night.

You know, one of those flashbacks to some feeling you had a long time ago. It can get triggered by anything--especially music or a smell. You hear a song and you remember a period of your life("99 Luft Balloons" reminds me of watching the mini-series V when I was young, don't ask me why). You smell cotton candy and flashback to a carnival you went to during high school.

So last night's moment was when I got into bed and my wife rolled over with her back against me.

I remembered.

There was a time I slept alone. The first twenty-one years of my life or so. Then in college I got my first REAL girlfriend, since at that point I had my own place.

And there came a time when she asked me, "Do you want me to spend the night?"

Last night's memory brought it back to me. How awkward I felt inside. How do you sleep with another person? (Not sex, just sleep) What happens if you snore, or fart, or roll over and they're in the way? I had no idea of the etiquette.

All of that was how I felt way back then, but I went ahead and said yes, and soon enough we were sleeping together every couple of nights.

Now it's something I take for granted. Hell, sometimes the bed even feels lonely if it's just me.

Weird, the things you forget. Even weirder the stuff that comes back unexpectedly.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Let's Talk About Me...hi

Like, some more!

Dale Carnegie is a genius. I've always said it, and I stand by it. Long before any of the million self-help books came out, Dale put out his "How To Win Friends And Influence People" book--and yeah, I even slid it into my first flick.

I read this book when I was like 22 and I was much more of a mind to "Influence People" rather than "Make Friends". The books is can, actually and literally, make people do what you want with some of the techniques.

Now Dale...he meant this book for good. But in the wrong hands(mine, at age 22), this book can be used for great evil. Which is why on the one hand I think every kid should be forced to read it at age 16, and on the other hand...this book should be kept away from any kid who shows even a hint of sociopathic behavior.

Anyway, one of the key points of the book is that(and I paraphrase) "All any person wants is to be appreciated."

Simple, but true. If you want to have someone like you all you have to do is act interested in what they say. Ask one little question that shows you're interested, and that person will feel that you appreciate them. They will feel better , having been validated("If he appreciates me, I must be worth appreciating"), and will sing your praises far and wide.

Why the hell am I going on about this?

It occurred to me that blogging, and its proliferation all over the net, is an attempt by all of us to be appreciated. You know how disappointed you get when you post a blog and no one responds? That's because no on appreciated that post, which translates in your mind to no one appreciated you.

Kinda sad. But it blows my mind that Dale Carnegie's book, written circa 1937, is still VERY valid in today's society.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Stuff You Didn't Know Existed...

Sometimes when I'm doing research for whatever I'm writing I stumble across some great stuff.

For instance, right now one of the five scripts I'm writing is about Bail Enforcement Agents(aka bounty hunters). I've read a couple of books on the subject and came upon this handy-dandy item that almost sounds like it ought to be illegal.

It's a company that sells phone cards, but the trick is that the company logs whatever calls are made on the phone card's time.

How it would work is this: The bounty hunter doesn't know where the skip(the term used for the one who jumps--skips--bail) is, but he may know where his/her mom is. So he pays this company, who will send them a free phone card under the pretense of it being a free trial card. The mom, who probably doesn't hear from her skip son often enough because he complains he doesn't have the money for long distance calls, will get in touch with the skip and give him the card.

Then the skip starts making calls. Whoever purchases the card can call a number to find out what numbers were dialed(and in some cases, where the number was dialed from).

Almost sounds illegal, huh? It's not. The card are expensive, though, for the agent who purchases them.

Cool, huh? I'm not sure if I'm going to use it in the script or not, but I thought it was pretty interesting.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

I know it's not Halloween...

But you can bookmark this page, 'cause these are awesome. Check them out...they have many more on other pages, just click the links:

It's too hard to decide which one to do!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Shore Leave

I don't wanna talk too much about the show, 'cause it just isn't worth any more of my time than it already took up.

I just wanted to show you what a buddy named Steve bought while he was there. He said he was buying it for a friend, but I think I know what that means...

Monday, July 04, 2005

Serious Schmerious...

Ok, I'll lighten up for a sec. Went to a 4th of July party. Thought is was a family cookout, but it turned out to be a party. You know, three or four kegs, tons of food, half-naked girls frolicking in the pool. A live band AND a DJ.

I went with the wife and kid.

My kid Logan is nutty for music. Anything. He'll be two years old next week, but he owns a guitar and a bunch of separate drums, and anything he picks up becomes drumsticks(the kitchen has lots of spoon-shaped drumsticks, as far as he's concerned).

So as soon as he sees the band he runs for them. Wants to get up and play the drums. I have to restrain him, and he cries and cries and cries. Then he stops for a while and just stares at the band. Here's a pic of my wife holding him as he stares at the band(toward the right of pic)

The entire party it's me chasing him as he runs toward the band. They were getting drunker and drunker, and started inviting people up to sing with them. So they thought it would be funny to get my kid up there on drums. They gave him two drums and sat him next to the drummer, and he played during the song. I'm not kidding. Here's a coupla pics.

He actually started looking at the drummer like, "What the hell's he doing ruining my song?

Yeah, he's not even two. Do I have a budding Tommy Lee here, or what? And a better question: When's he gonna bring dad home some Pamela Andersons?

When the band took a break, they said Logan could stay to play all the drums. Much to the DJ's chagrin, he proceeded to do that for like twenty minutes. He would have gone longer, but the drum sticks are heavier than the ones he has so his arms were getting tired.

The drummer was pretty impressed. He said he's seen kids try to play the drums and they'll just pound on one drum over and over, but Logan was hitting a bunch of drums, and the cymbals on occasion. It's funny to see him on a set that size.

I bought him a little five-piece drum set for his birthday next week, and now he's gonna think it's a piece of crap compared to what he was playing this weekend.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

A Perfect World 3

So, the point.

When you're writing spec scripts, the sky's the limit.

When you're in low-budget land you have to write to the level you can afford to shoot. And as I just showed, we haven't even glanced at story considerations and we've already spent almost $25,000.

It's hard to write a great screenplay, as is demonstrated by countless films every week. It's even harder to write a great screenplay that you can afford to shoot.

Which is where I am now. I'm writing the sequel to my second film(that's about to get picked up--the company wants a sequel) and I'm scouting locations before I've written the scene in question. I need a place to set the final scene, so we went looking at places we can get access to. Places that are visually interesting and/or add to our production value by using them.

And I'd be lying if I didn't tell you it's a bitch. It's restrictive. It's more difficult than just following the story where it leads you.

But if you're a low-budget filmmaker then you do what you have to do to continue making films.

Friday, July 01, 2005

A Perfect World 2

So, you've got yourself a DP, some actors, some grips, some equipment, and some food. You're already over $20,000 on the budget.

Who else you need?

You need a sound guy. This is another place you don't skimp. If your movie sounds like crap, you can have the best picture in the world and your movie will still scream "Amateur".

I'm gonna go low, but let's say you can get a guy for $500/week who's bringing his own equipment. Odds are you're not gonna find one for that, but we're fantasizing here. That's $1500 for the shoot.

You need someone to boom the mic. You could get one of the grips to do this, so let's assume that's what you're going to do. Make sure he knows how to do this--it's not as easy as you may expect, and it can get downright grueling holding that boom pole steady over someone's head for three straight minutes.

There are a ton of other things to consider that will add up, which I'll just touch on.

  • Do you have any FX in your film? Anyone dying or getting limbs cut off?
  • Will you have to rent locations? How much will that cost?
  • How far are these locations? You're going to have to gas up the car, gas up the grip truck--and did you tell any actors/actresses you'd give them a gas allowance?
  • <><>You need to be taking publicity stills with a 35mm camera--these are essential for the press kit, and once you get a deal with a distributor they will be required in the contract. Add in some cash for the film and the developing.<>
  • <><><>You're gonna need props. Whether you buy them or have them made will cost you money.<>
We haven't even touched post-production.

  • You're gonna need to edit your movie--either buy or rent a system. That's money any way you look at it.
  • You need to hire a composer to score the finished film. And if you're thinking: "I can score it myself" then you need to rethink it. Unless you're a PROFESSIONAL musician then you can't. And if you are a PROFESSIONAL musician then what the hell are you doing trying to make movies?
  • You're going to need to get your film onto digibeta for delivery to the distributor. You'll need to rent a digibeta recorder(about $300/day) and buy some blank digibetas for the transfer(they're about $45 apiece for a 2 hour tape)
  • You'll need to get that digibeta QC'd(Quality Control Check) to make sure it's passable. This is not absolutely necessary, but if you sign the contract and then your master doesn't pass--you are at the mercy of the distributor. They can get it passed to their standard and bill you for it. And who knows how they'll pad that bill?
  • You'll probably need an attorney to look over that contract from the distributor. The only reason you might not need one is if you get a Producer's Rep who IS an attorney who has already looked it over. At some point you NEED a lawyer to look it over or you risk giving your movie away for free.
I know...this is all very long-winded. I'm taking the long way to get to my point. But I'll get there.

In the next blog.