LA or not LA

Posted: April 29, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Howdy, Outlaws! It has been a minute since last we interfaced. Don’t worry, folks, I am still outlawing all the live long day!

I wanted to talk to you today about Los Angeles. Why does it feel like film outside of LA is all furtive and clandestine, but every jackass in this city with a camera is a real filmmaker? In other words, do you have to move to LA?

There are three things to consider:

First, the sheer volume of projects. There is a ton of crap being made in L.A. and there is a ton of crap being made outside of L.A. The odds that something is good are the same, as far as I have seen, which is, I’d say, about ten percent. Ten percent of all film being made is worth seeing. And of that ten percent, maybe ten percent is really awesome. Those proportions are the same no matter where you live.

No matter where you live, you have to get involved in as many projects as you can to hone your skills and build a portfolio that other people, people with money, will respect. But if you live in, say Hollywood, Florida, as many projects as you can may be two or three a year, whereas in LA, as many as you can is two or three a month. There is a benefit to being in the heart of so much sheer volume. The more you work, the better you get. So you have more chances to get better in LA.

But the Los Angelinos are so much more arrogant. In the outside world, if someone says they are shooting a television pilot, everyone assumes it is on spec, unless that person goes out of their way to show that they have a channel of distribution set. In LA, everyone assumes that everyone else is shooting a real television pilot. It’s kind of insane, too, because the number of rich narcissists self-funding projects out here is WAY higher. So you have to take into account your tolerance for douche bags.

The third point, and one I will stand behind, is that it doesn’t matter where you live. If you work hard and have talent and never give up, you will get somewhere. May not be where you planned to go, but it will be somewhere. And by work hard, I don’t mean, for a month and then forget about it. I mean, every day. Every single stinking day. No matter where you live, you have to push.

If you don’t have the drive, there’s nothing you can do, no where you can live, that will make up for it.

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Pre-NAB, You So Crazy

Posted: April 6, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Last Friday March 30, I attended a pre-NAB panel hosted by Editor’s Lounge in Burbank, California. It was a totally awesome event. I ate a hot dog wrapped in bacon, and spent three hours in a room full of top notch people, listening to geeky insider talk about editing software and the future of THE INDUSTRY!

The only thin I didn’t like was not being able to argue back with the panel. So I am doing that here.

One articular panelist was all doom and gloom about the future of editing. Cheaper equipment and YouTube, he believed, would make professional editing a thing of the past.

Here is why he is wrong:

1. When YouTube first came out, the creators thought that, given the tools, people all over the country would make interesting videos with good stories. That didn’t happen. YouTube was more like America’s Funniest Home Videos, without anyone to filter through the crap for you. Over time, people learned how to make terrible little talk shows, where they present opinions on politics or religion, or make up tips. Some of these became pretty popular. Most were dreck. And after all this time, the average You tube poster hasn’t gotten any better than that. YouTube competes with TV only in terms of ways to waste time, not quality or numbers or impact.TV could steal that audience away in a heart beat, and has with webisodes and such. The problem with webisodes is usually that they feature minor characters from the show, not the stars, so they end up feeling like after thoughts.

Right now, it’s hard to make money on line. But lots of people are working on how to figure it out. There is a definite dip, but The Industry will adapt. The Industry will siphon all of the talent off of YouTube, the way they do, keeping YouTube at a constant level of crap.

2.  The Industry is crying poor almost entirely from ending a period of glut, and not actually poverty. I was on the set of a “low budget” webseries a few days ago. I wanted to laugh. They think this is low budget? A huge studio with six sets, a second studio with four more sets being built, twenty five paid background actors,and c-list principles.

Come over to my house, some time. I will show you low budget. But we can still get things done and make them look good.

The script was terrible, the director a narcissist. If anything, Hollywood needs to tighten their belts so that they are forced (because they won’t do it unless they are forced) to purge the garbage from their midst. I know that the viewing public can have terrible taste, and that shows I hate, like Two and a Half Men, will continue on, but a pickier Hollywood will have to kick Whitney and Are You There, Chelsea to the curb, where they belong, and replace them with something more worthy.

Which is good for everyone.

That’s what I say.

dear blog

Posted: January 31, 2011 in Updates from the Outlaw
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Dear blog,

Are you worth it?

We have been together for seven months, and in those seven months, blog, you have taken big chunks of time, collected a lot of spam, and have, in general, been a pain in the butt.

Why do we stay together, blog? Can you tell me why?

This list of the top 15 worst films of 2010 is worth reading because it is funny. And because these lists are the most fun when you aren’t on them.

Oh, Outlaw, you might be saying, your little independent films wish they were seen widely enough to end up on a list like this. And you would be wrong. I’d rather remain anonymous. And number 6 is a little known indie film.

Skinny up, Pardner

Posted: January 26, 2011 in screenwriting
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I recently discovered the most amazing, most effective diet in the world. Severe mouth pain. When your mouth hurts bad enough, you look at every morsel of food before you put it in your mouth and you ask yourself, is this worth it? You have to be REALLY hungry for the answer to be yes.

You might only get a couple of bites into something, and the answer will change.  Suddenly and decisively to NO!

And as I looked at a bottle of water and debated taking another painful sip or risking dehydration, I thought, this is like writing.

Or I should say, writing should be more like this.

It’s a bad habit a lot of screenwriters in particular have. Because we know that the dialog is the part of the script that will ultimately get the most attention, because we have heard that producers won’t read anything else, because the dialog might actually come out of someone’s mouth exactly the way we write it, our dialog ends up bloated and fat.

Take for example, the typical love scene. In the script, the boy and the girl gaze into each other’s eyes.

BOY

You are the most amazing woman I ever met.

GIRL

You are also amazing and I love you like a butterfly loves to flutter. Like the moon lives to shine. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want to sit near you when you watch football. I want to wake up to you. I want to be two old people walking through the park holding hands.

BOY

You are so beautiful. I want our children to look like you. But I’m worried that the terrorists might find us hiding in this cabin. I don’t care if they kill me, but I couldn’t stand it if anything happened to you.

Yes, this movie is a romantic action film. Of course.

In my real life experience, romantic encounters are all about what isn’t being said. In my experience, some of that internal monologue is internal because I am worried that I might say the wrong thing. So must everyone else. Some of that internal monologue is, “I like him. Does he like me? I don’t want to say anything, I don’t want him to feel pressured. Maybe I could say this…NO! That sounds desperate, even in my head. Ok, maybe I’ll just smile. Yeah. Smiling. There’s the ticket.” Also, to get a guy to even admit he has emotions requires supernatural forces.

The fact is that real people don’t say everything they think. And those that do are always getting into fights and then they have to go back and apologize for what they said or explain that they didn’t mean it how the words seemed to be, but this other, more acceptable way.

Movie dialog is of course, not real speech. It is heightened speech. But it could benefit from the things that are NOT said as much as the things that are.

What if I wrote a love scene that went more like this:

BOY

Cold?

GIRL

No.

(after a long moment of silence) I guess yeah.

BOY

Ok.

He busies himself shaking out a blanket and draping it around her shoulder. He is very careful to get it securely around her.

GIRL

Thanks.

BOY

Sure.

They look into each other’s eyes.  His hands are still on her shoulders.

GIRL

It’s cold.

BOY

Yeah.

They lean closer together.

BOY

It…

(he clears his throat)

It must be a cold front.

They kiss.

See? Wasn’t that nice? Fewer words, more space for atmosphere and feeling. It’s ok to leave your audience and your characters and yourself not quite stuffed to the gills with words.

Also, I know that I failed to use proper screenplay formatting. The blog doesn’t have the tools to do it, and I don’t have the time to count spaces, so deal with it. You knew what I meant, anyhow.

Limp along, Little Doggy

Posted: January 24, 2011 in Updates from the Outlaw
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I’ve been miserable, laid out sick this last week. It has hampered my writing progress, and in the meantime, I ended up taking on another small project.

January 31st, people. January 31st, I am finishing this book. Come hell or high water.

So, movies tend to repeat certain wrong things so often that they become face, and this article talks about seven things movies always get wrong about police works.

To me, the surprise was the call tracing. I did think it took some time. But then, I might have been fooled by the line crossing the map on the computer screen leading to…oh, no! They hung up!

Enjoy!