Archive for May, 2009

Sage advice from John August

Posted in Uncategorized on May 30, 2009 by runningfornow

I frequently (maybe once a week) click over to John August’s screenwriting blog (JohnAugust.com) to read up on his craft. He’s quite the Hollywood workman, taking on many projects, delivering pages upon pages to producers, penning his own work. In one of his seminar interviews he mentioned having 50 un-produced scripts of his stacked somewhere, waiting for a budget, waiting for the “Go”.

Yes. Fifty. Perhaps I misunderstood what he said (you be the judge, watch this and let me know) but, moreover, something he mentioned rang true to me and it’s something he says quite often: “My favorite scripts are the ones that get made.” Or “produced” or “made into movies”. Point being, he’d rather have a stack of movies than a stack of scripts — more or less — and so would I, to be honest.

That said, and I don’t want to put words into his mouth, it is important to keep writing and have material to show for your efforts. I don’t think I’ll ever have a stack of FIFTY screenplays on my writing desk. Nope. Never. However, I wouldn’t mind FIVE feature films on the shelves of Blockbuster or available on NetFlix or even just ONE in the theater. Yeah, I could deal with just ONE on the Silver Screen. It would be great to have more than that, but I’d be content with one. Happy with more, but content with one.

Anyhow, one of the bits that August posted was titled You only have to destroy the Death Star and you can read about it here. Without knowing it, I was doing just this with The Sleeping Deep.  Read below and I’ll explain.

You only have to destroy the Death Star

Something I try to remind myself when writing epic-themed stories — which is a lot, recently — is that my hero doesn’t have to fix The Big World Problem by the time the end credits roll. Rather, he just needs to achieve the small, specific goal I’ve set out for him. He only has to destroy the Death Star.

Yes, that task should be exceedingly difficult. But it’s several orders of magnitude away from The Big World Problem.

Darth Vader and the Empire are still very much kicking at the end of A New Hope. Nazis are alive and well at the end of Raiders, The Guns of Navarone, and every WWII epic you’ve seen. By the end of The Matrix, Neo has learned something of his powers, but the world is largely unchanged.

In fact, the rule seems to be that it’s only at the end of a trilogy that the hero really transforms the world. And you don’t get to make a trilogy unless the first one works. So make the first one at human scale.

When I approached the first draft and core story of The Sleeping Deep, the idea was to keep the action personal, intimate, “at human scale” August mentions, so the action wasn’t global, continental or widespread. It was mostly about the main character Charlotte Foster. Her dreamscape counterpart Kevin Tiggs plays a big role in the film, too, but is mostly there to motivate Charlotte’s story. Well, that was my plan at least.

The Sleeping Deep is Part I of a larger story that I’m hoping to expand on with a sequel, a second script, and maybe even a third. The first film is intimate, personal. In Part II, the net is cast wider, opening up the story to a collection of diverse characters, and the threat is even greater. The third installment, well… let’s save that for another post shall we?

I guess having read August’s post after the fact, I’m feeling as though I’m on the right track, or at least feeling that my intentions aren’t so far fetched in terms of outlining the scope of what could be a satisfying and effective motion picture fantasy/sci-fi/horror/thriller epic saga. (phew!) Time will tell.

Enjoy the weekend!

~ Jeff

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Green Scream

Posted in Uncategorized on May 29, 2009 by runningfornow

Just having a little fun with some of the green screen footage we grabbed.

RonMazimus01

RonMaz

Sweet dreams, Kevin.

Much wants more and loses all.

Posted in Uncategorized on May 29, 2009 by runningfornow

I’ve been contemplating lately what happens *if* there is an opportunity to sell The Sleeping Deep screenplay outright to a company, producer or such. It’s mostly a pipe dream, of course, but it’s fun to imagine the scenario where numerous Hollywood offers are on the table. What would be the best scenario for handing over the farm? Would any price be a good price? And what is this creative property (the script) actually worth anyhow? Good questions. Any answers? None yet.

That said, the Aesop’s Fable below illustrates a bit of my thinking and feelings toward TSD and all that it may or may not encompass.

THE GOOSE THAT LAID THE GOLDEN EGGS

A Man and his Wife had the good fortune to possess a Goose which laid a Golden Egg every day. Lucky though they were, they soon began to think they were not getting rich fast enough, and, imagining the bird must be made of gold inside, they decided to kill it in order to secure the whole store of precious metal at once. But when they cut it open they found it was just like any other goose. Thus, they neither got rich all at once, as they had hoped, nor enjoyed any longer the daily addition to their wealth.

Much wants more and loses all.

Thus, killing the golden goose has become a metaphor for any short-sighted action that may bring an immediate reward, but will ultimately prove disastrous. This is why good things come to those who wait and in the end it’s patience that pays. So, I’m reminded of what my buddy Sean told me years ago when making my first independent film: be the turtle.

Food for thought. Grist for the mill. Eggs for the pan.

Enjoy the weekend!

~ Jeff

poster variation

Posted in Uncategorized on May 27, 2009 by runningfornow

I didn’t want Mike’s first piece to get overlooked, so I uploaded this variation on the Sleeping Deep poster.

This one leans more toward fantasy than straight up horror, but I like both. What do you think?

a scene excerpt

Posted in Uncategorized on May 26, 2009 by runningfornow

BlipTV permalink HERE.

Here’s a super short video clip from the scene we shot and a couple of frame grabs. There’s so much to cut together, the full-length version won’t be done for a few weeks, but wanted to get a taste uploaded online for folks to see. [NOTE: This has not been color corrected and the original footage is in HD. Also, JT managed to execute some nice rack focusing for this shot which you can’t really see in this web version.]

Kevin’s descent into madness…

TSD_01d

TSD_01c

… brought on by a messy room no doubt.
Aaaahhh!!! My kingdom for a Trapper Keeper!!! ;)

Thanks J.T. for the files!

Stay tuned.

~ Jeff

scrub-a-dub-dub

Posted in Uncategorized on May 26, 2009 by runningfornow

The long weekend behind me, it’s time to clean up Kevin’s room: strip the walls, scrub the windows, vacuum the floors… But in a weird way I’m looking forward to it. Why? Well, for starters, it was an absolute blessing to find a location that fit the scene, was nearby so I could decorate it, and was on loan at a friend’s apartment which kept the cost down, which meant there was power, a fridge and restroom. Instant studio! In filmmaking, when the location isn’t compromised and you have access to it when you want and need it, that right there is priceless. And since I *hate* trying to find locations for scenes, when they fall into my lap, I can’t complain one bit – even when I need to spend a few hours cleaning up top to bottom. No big deal. That’s an easy price to pay for getting such great footage. So, thanks to Sheila Carter for the studio space!

Hope everyone’s long weekend was pleasant.

~ Jeff

in the can

Posted in Uncategorized on May 24, 2009 by runningfornow

Great guns!

Saturday’s shoot with Kevin and Janice went swimmingly. Everything from performances to camera to blocking all seemed to gel and come together. I was very pleased with everyone’s efforts. Thank you to John Tulin (DP), Esther Mulligan (Janice) and Ron Elwell (Kevin). And also thanks to Michael Mulcahy who ran a few errands before leaving for a prior engagement.

I wish I had some production stills of Saturday’s shoot, but we got so busy and into the scene I didn’t think of it. Maybe I’ll get a few frames grabs to post.

Now I have loads – tons! – of footage to sort through and assemble. This is the process I love. It’s like a puzzle, a jigsaw puzzle of pixels, and I need to take it all in, gestate, chew, and mull over what works and what doesn’t. The 2 clips I’m aiming for are the scene with Janice and Kevin and Kevin’s decent into his “personal hell” wherein the demonic eel sprouts from his mouth. Lots to do, lots to do…

I also got word from CineStory that Quarterfinalists can resubmit the newest draft of their script, which has me giddy. The version I first submitted was 119 pages and had the old ending; one that I liked a lot, (who knows, maybe it’ll come back?) but eventually decided to wrap up the story with a slightly different tone. The most recent version is a scant 101 pages with a new cliffhanger ending that, I think, works better on many levels than the old one. We’ll see. If The Sleeping Deep makes it as a semifinalist I get invited to attend their writer’s conference at Idyllwild, CA in October – which would ROCK. [He says with fingers crossed, voodoo doll in hand, chicken feet dangling from neck…]

As always, keep checking back for more shtuff!

~ Jeff