Friday, January 13, 2006

Act Two Pros

After discovering that a film recently placed into development was dangerously close to a script I wrote back in Dec. '04, I dug said script up from the bowels of my abandoned screenplay deluge, and did a lil' rethinkin' on the bastard child. After an hour, or so, of tinkering, I came up with a better concept than the original. Successfully doctoring a premise has never came this quick, so, overall, it was a good day.

Post-necessary-self-congratulatory-celebration of a Bud Light tall boy and a quarter-pack of Marlboro Lights, I started a rough outline. And, you know what?... the fucker sang. I beat out Act Two with ease (Acts One and Three were conquered territory -- even with the premise reclamation). The pace found itself. The twists, character arcs, and plot points pieced themselves together.

The issue with the previous version of the screenplay -- besides the aforementioned similarities -- was that my Act Two was bogged down with bad plotting and a virulent plague of fifth-grade dialogue. (I throw feces at the pages and see what sticks, like the good spec monkey I am. )

So far, it's been about a week since the operation began, and this go-round feels like a step in a positive direction. Hey... so far, so good.

More to come.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Writing What You've Lived

Derek Haas, over at The Artful Forum, mentioned in one of his posts to "write what you think is cool." This goes beyond the maxim "write what you know" on many levels, and make a helluva lot of sense.

Fun Joel mentioned in a recent post on his blog to be spontaneous
; pull from your life experiences with the hopes they will enrich your stories. This is very true, and it all depends on how you choose to utilize said experiences.

I've had plenty of life experiences, or so I think. I am at a point in my life where I've had a boatload of extraneous, exciting, and highly illegal events occur in my lifetime.

Thus, the reason for me not giving my real name on my blog, unlike many of my fellow contributors to the scribosphere. I'm not trying to be coy with my anonymnity, yet I just feel that if I'm going to blog and give details about members of my past, I won't want them looking for me. Ya dig?

I'm at a time in my life where I've been sober -- of illegal drugs -- for two years, after an 8 year binge. (Don't applaud... I should have never gone that route,) I've been to jail -- and have had further close calls, involving the law -- far too many times to explain (thanks, MOM -- and BABY's MOM -- for the bail money)... I've done too many drugs and have been a participant of so many social events (parties) that I'm fucking sick of them, now. You couldn't pay me to attend a kegger. Sounds crazy, huh? But that was my life for a good many years.

This goes back to what Fun Joel mentioned about writing from life events you've experienced. I've completed (roughly) ten scripts, a few treatments, and have logged countless future prospects (ideas); all, of which, I plan to get into the future.

It's funny... All of the scripts I've written don't cover ANYTHING that I've been through. It was weird going over what I've written, and not finding an ounce of my works covered any SPECIFIC EVENT of my -- now -- previous life.

But what I've done... is pulled from the themes and emotions from these events. and encoded them into my stories. I'm confused about all this, but maybe this is how it works...

I plan on posting a lot of these events on the blog in the future. Why? Maybe, so that you don't make the same mistakes I did. Or - Maybe it might encourage you -- as if Fun Joel didn't do a good enough job at explaing this, already -- to get out there and live life; to take advantages of all the curve-balls it has to offer.

Here's one event (and, yes, I'll conclude the Nomi the Tiger story when the time -- and memory -- allows):

My old drug dealer (one of a few) -- let's call him GARY -- lived with a PORN STAR at a local beach mansion in Florida. PORN STAR was smoking hot and was making enough bank to buy said multi-million dollar domain.

It was Gary's birthday, and Gary knew how to throw a party -- so he invited me and a few of my buddies over to partake in the event.

Now, my buddies and I showed up looking for a chilled party, where a few illicit drugs would be passed around (read: ecstasy and LSD, which -- when combined -- is aka TROLLING) and we would smoke pot. Chill. And all would be merry.

This was not the case.

When we arrived, we noticed this place was poppin'. We went inside. It was packed. Tons of people rollin', tripping, smoking dope -- you're average H'wood party, I assume.

My buddies and I met up with Gary... we chilled for a bit. Smoked some dope, picked up a TEN-PACK of beans (ecstasy) -- which at the time went for about $180. That was pocket change for us, since me and a couple buddies were stealing mad bank from the register at our place of employment -- more on that later.

About an hour before we dosed, Gary pulled me into a room with a bunch of HIS BOYS... some I knew; some I didn't. I shot the shit with those I knew.

One of Gary's buddies came in -- BLUE -- and Blue was a member of the CRYPTS, a gang of merry men, whose prime objective in life was to kill, to protect their beilief.

At this point, Gary had been fucked up from an earlier, mid-day, excursion of partaking in copious amounts of hydroponic marijuana sessions and was feeling a bit "off" and in the non-party mode.

So, Blue pulls out a bag of white powder. Now, I was no stranger to eight balls of cocaine, or the like, but this was a zip-lock, three finger bag of pure white snow... about four ounces, if I recall correctly...

Blue gave Gary a few key-bumps... and Gary was back in business within minutes, as --

Blue recapped the events of his night, where he shot THREE MOTHER-FUCKERS -- who cut him off -- with his tech nine... which he pulled out, in the room. I almst shit myself.
I've seen guns before, but having one this close, in the hands of a coked up (and whatever else the fuck he was on) gang member.

After gang signs were flashed in the air, and whatnot, things calmed down... and I -- the laid back, shy guy, to some a pussy -- found myself in deep conversation with Blue...

The funny thing about it... we, as a society, have such a strange take on gang members (more, or less, due to their, obvious, protryaed-as-crazy nature), but I found this cat interesting, as he -- and some of his fellow gang members -- brought me into a small room...

... where every portion of the wall was covered in spray-painting of various colors (all but red, of course), and at the end of the room, was a poster of Tupac Shakur. Me, being the dumbass I was, asked "what was he doing up there?"

I, expecting shit from Blue and his fellow gang members, was surprised that they were cool with me (I being the only non-gang member in the room) and explained that Tupac was their light; that he stood for everything they believed. I held back on mentioning the rumors of Tupac being a homosexual, in lieu of not wanting to be capped.

Gary walked in the "spray-painted room" and offered to give Blue a few hits of ecstasy.

Blue got scared and mentioned that he didn't want to take X, because he was afraid of becoming vulnerable in front of two-hundred people he didn't know... after a little coercion from Gary -- the best salesman I've met to date -- he popped two beans into Blue's mouth like they were Alleve...

Over the course of a few hours, my buddies and I chilled, fought for space in the various bathrooms where people dropped LSD geltabs and snorted bumps of Special K, snuck outside -- on the deck -- to grab a few of our BYOB Bud Drys... since the fridge was a breeding ground for alcohol thievery.

About an hour later, everybody at the party was deep into mind-bending, reality shifting intoxication... I found myself sitting next to Blue... and -- as he feared -- his TRUE SELF came out...

And I was surprised... be was one of the good guys: misunderstood, not sure why he joined a gang, a true bad ass, yet afraid of fucking up (I.E. the type of shit you would never expect to hear from a hard core gang banger)... Although, when you're rollin' on X, it all comes out.

Just then, a cute ASIAN CHICK -- whom I, coincidentally, went to high school with -- stormed into the room, claiming that somebody stole a HUNDRED PACK OF X.

The party of two-hundred-some-odd ravers came to a screeching halt. The CD paler -- which had just been banging the hottest beats from Roni Size -- came to a screeching halt.

Everybody was stunned, trippin', wildin' out.

I looked next to me, and there was Blue digging into his pockets...

ME: What's up, bro. What're you doing?

And Blue pulls out a GLOCK NINE...

I turn to my buddy Stan, who was "blowin' up" just as well as I -- noticed the glock -- and we both sobered up mighty quick, and gave each other the "oh, holy fuck shit" glance.

In my mind, Blue was about to cap somebody's ass.

ME: (TO BLUE) You're not gonna shoot anybody, are ya?

BLUE: Chill out, I ain't gonna hurt no one.

But when he stood up on a chair and held out that gun, I was sure he was having flashbacks from the night before -- the Tech Nine incident -- and he was ready to blow away some mother fucker.

It only took one gunshot from Blue -- to the ceiling -- the clear the party out mighty quick.

Me and Stan, and his wife -- Sherry -- sat there, nonplussed in our full-on drug peak... and watched part-goers storm through the front door in a mass exodus.

They found the person, eventually, who stole the beans, and -- from what I heard -- I missed one helluva cat fight.

The moral of all this? A gun can always break-up a party. And that not everybody is as they appear (judging the book by the cover, etc.).

As screenwriters, we can, either, incorporate our life experiences into our works... or... we can take the characters and themes from from said experiences, and incorporate them into our screenplays.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

A Belated Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all! Hope everybody had a good Festivus, Christmas, Hanukkah, or whatever you wish to call the event of "spending three to five days with family members you regularly try to avoid."

Yeah, you all know what I'm talking about; the family clichés are true. We hang around with family members and other people we barely know and attempt an air of civility and false modesty.

Everybody has that one family member who finds solace in misery. They grab the proverbial megaphone and wax philosophic -- to a crowded, uncomfortable dinner table -- their pains, issues, wants, dislikes, and ailments. All you can do is sit there, smile, and act like you're listening...

The positives were sprawling, though. It was decent to spend a little time with my immediate family -- the folks, brother, and daughter. I haven't spent Christmas with my four-year-old since 2001/2, so this time of year was easier with her around.

Everybody asks me about my New Year's Resolution. I say fuck it; why make one? Why not many? Here's a sample of a few I've already broken.

1) Cut down my daily intake of a fifth of Jack Daniels to a pint.

2) Lose weight. Lose weight. Lose weight.

3) Quit being a wuss and send out a script to one of them Prodco's in Hollywood.

4) Write more. Write more. Write more.

5) Quit dropping currency on bad habits.

6) Quit smoking cigarettes. (Read #5)

7) Finally quit my filthy crack cocaine habit. (Read #5)

8) Keep on top of the spec market: what sells, what doesn’t sell, who's buying what, etc.

9) Actually talk to the cute Russian girl working the counter at the local gas station.

10) Create better themes for my screenplays.

11) Read more screenplays.

12) Blog more.