August 26, 2009

Toy Movies

In writing the screenplay for the announced Lego movie, I wonder if the screenwriter will actually seek writer’s block…

Check out this article and be sure to read the second to last paragraph for an indication of Hollywood’s future.  Brand recognition is leaving originality in the dust.

August 23, 2009

We all live in a...

I have great respect and admiration for Robert Zemeckis, one of the great directors of the 80s and 90s, but his recent efforts, technologically groundbreaking as they’ve been, lack the endearing qualities of his earlier computer aided movies including the Back to the Future series, Forrest Gump, and my favorite, Cast Away.

Can you fault him for making movies he wants to make?  Of course not.  But his former brilliance seems to be giving way to technology lust in movies like Beowulf and the upcoming motion captured 3D digital remake of Yellow Submarine.  No, seriously.  Read about it here.  I’ll see Yellow Submarine and I may like it, but I still long for the Zemeckis of old.

One day, I hope to get close to Mr. Zemeckis’ level so I can make whatever movies I want and let random bloggers rant about how they miss my earlier work.  Maybe then I’ll be satisfied with my progress in this industry.


August 21, 2009

August 16, 2009


“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” – Sir Winston Churchill

Admittedly, this link is somewhat off-topic, but I’m making a general assumption that anybody wanting to work in the entertainment industry has an interest in making life better for others.  After all, isn’t entertaining simply one’s effort to brighten the days one’s audience members?

My naivety not withstanding, I offer this link for anyone wanting to share some of their own blessings with others:

Formerly known as, this branch of the Better Business Bureau is a one-stop resource for pinpointing a charity that shares your morals.

August 12, 2009

John Hughes Podcasts

"One thing about writing movies: It's different every time. When I finish a script and sit down to write a new one, I have to learn it all over again. Every single thing is completely different; there are no rules. As soon as you start to follow rules, your stuff becomes formulaic. Then you can forget about it." – John Hughes

Honoring the late John Hughes, AFI has reissued a pair of podcasts featuring the iconic moviemaker.  You can follow the embedded link above or search for AFI on iTunes.  You’ll stumble upon a bevy of equally relevant podcasts from AFI as well.

And speaking of podcasts, if you are a screenwriter and do not yet subscribe to the On the Page and Creative Screenwriting podcasts on iTunes, I highly recommend you take a look… I mean, listen.

August 10, 2009

Paycuts in Hollywood

“I have enough money to last me the rest of my life, unless I buy something.” – Jackie Mason

A recent LA Times article paints a grim picture of the state of Hollywood salaries.  Seems an actor who could rake in $15 million for a role a few years ago will likely only receive $10 million today.  How can they survive on that?

It was only a few years ago that head-case, Latrell Sprewell turned down a $21 million dollar contract offer from the Minnesota Timberwolves.  Demanding more money, his famous quote was, “I’ve got my family to feed.”

Really?  Twenty-one million dollars isn’t enough to feed your family?  Am I supposed to feel sorry for Mr. Sprewell or for the stars in Hollywood taking these big pay cuts?  It will be interesting to see how things pan out, but in the midst of our country’s biggest recession in more than two decades, I have to admit I’m pleased to see some of the outrageous Hollywood salaries come down.  Let’s hope Major League Baseball follows suit.

Sure I want a piece of that million dollar pie, but, really, wouldn’t I be just as happy with $10 million as I would with $15 million?  I could feed my family much better with that than my five figure salary right now!

August 7, 2009

Blake Snyder

Both of Blake Snyder’s books are on my Amazon list on this blog.  His second, Save the Cat! Goes to the Movies, is the better of the two, but the first, Save the Cat! is a necessary prerequisite to benefit fully from the second.  John Hughes’ death grabbed the headlines, but budding screenwriters lost one of the better, more approachable teachers on August 4, 2009.

His was one of the sessions I planned to attend at this year’s Screenwriting Expo, but his untimely death reminds that tomorrow’s plans can never exceed tentativeness.

August 6, 2009

John Hughes

One of the greats has now passed on.

For my money, John Hughes is one of the great screenwriters of our time.  His movies were iconic for any child of the 80s.  Two of my top-ten favorite movies of all-time were penned by Mr. Hughes: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and The Great Outdoors.  Most would rank Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off ahead of my favorites, and I would not argue.

His IMDb credits list is astonishing.  Check it out and leave a quick comment about your all-time favorite John Hughes screenplay.

August 2, 2009

MN 2 Hollywood: The Movie

The new Nora Ephron helmed flick, Julie and Julia, is apparently based on a blog conceived back in 2002.  Read about the jealousy inducing journey from blog to screen here.

Diablo Cody’s rise from blogger to Hollywood A-Lister is well known now, and others are rising from blogscurity to bloglebrity.  Check out I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell to follow the journey of one man’s drunken confessionals to big screen release this September.

Am I jealous?  God-willing, I will overcome that crippling sin.  Really, this should breed optimism that anything can happen to anyone anywhere.  Is MN 2 Hollywood destined to be a movie?  Of course not.  But perhaps the right executive will stumble across something I’ve written and be crazy… I mean… moved enough to see what else is in this tank.

August 1, 2009


“Acting is the most minor of gifts and not a very high-class way to earn a living.  After all, Shirley Temple could do it at the age of four.” – Katherine Hepburn

So the inspirational cookies and ice cream I’ve shared over the past seven months are all good and fuzzy, but what about something tangible an aspiring actor/writer/director/producer can take home with them?  Where does one really start?

While I do think it is imperative to prepare yourself mentally for a career that will at some point massage your insides with a rusty chainsaw, eventually you need to throw on the hard hat and climb the girders.  I’ve recently sat down with several different peers to point them toward that first rung, which is not necessarily easy to find.

One approach is to dive in and start auditioning for student films, independent projects, and open calls.  Craigslist has become a dumping ground, for better or worse, for any producer, legitimate or otherwise, to announce the breakdowns for their projects.  Oftentimes these projects are open to any and all who want to audition, experienced or not.  These projects, almost always unpaid, are great opportunities to get your feet wet and start the ever important networking.

But that may even be putting the cart ahead of the horse.  Even if you have all the natural talent in the world, attending classes will introduce you to others in the same boat as you.  You may charm your way into an aspiring producer’s next project, or a plugged-in actor may introduce you to his or her already broadening network.  And maybe, just maybe, you’ll realize you aren’t the greatest natural born entertainer this world has ever seen and the classes may actually teach you something.  I certainly have and hope to continue.

Sure, many have made a splash without much schooling in the industry, but they are the exceptions.  We all want to be exceptional, but why wait around for luck to find you when you can go out and make your own?  Learn from others’ successes and failures.  I’m happy to continue sharing mine here in this blog, but I’m going to shift my focus a bit and try to be a conduit to other resources detailing the successes and failures of those more established in this business than I.