Thursday, September 24, 2009
Sometimes we disagree
First of all, a progress report on the blog. We now have readers in 7 states, 4 provinces and 3 readers in India. Amazing. Shirley and I are both pleased with the reception and it encourages us as much as the response we have had by investors. It's not all there yet, and there's no guarantee, but your interest helps us keep moving forward.
When I decided on doing this blog, I went to fellow WGA writers and asked their advice. One thing stood out. They all said the it had to be honest, because if it wasn't, it wouldn't be true and wouldn't work. Having said that, I have received some comments disagreeing with me from time to time and I welcome them. Not everybody is going to like what I say about this business, about crews or agents or any aspect of making the movie. This is natural and I look forward to defending my position.
I started in a mailroom of my local TV station and worked up from there, all the way across the country, ended up directing commercials for good money. But I was tired of them and at age 34, decided to go into features and started by being a production assistant, carrying out empty beer bottles for teamsters and crew members. You learn a lot at the bottom if you watch what happens all around you. I was there for 4 weeks, then left to make my own movie a year later.
Ghostkeeper wasn't much of a success but it got shown and made a few bucks. My union crew was great, I knew everyone as it was pretty much the only real crew in Calgary at that time . But after work many of them stayed up all night playing poker and all that goes with that. And sometimes they were pretty tired working the next day. Since then I have worked in 5 countries with crews who spoke English, Dutch, French, German, Icelandic and Spanish. And they were all different in many ways, but the same in other ways.
My attitude can be taken as cynical, but it really isn't, it's more the reality of this business. When I taught UCLA screenwriting my students liked the reality I gave them, that it wasn't as easy as they thought, that you weren't a writer just because you had the software. I told them I could show them how to write, but I couldn't show them how to write good. That comes from inside, and either you have it or you don't.
But the one thing I do not change is my love for this business, which I fell for at the age of 4, when my parents took me to see Disney's The Living Desert at the Crescent Theater in a small town called Swan River. Well, all was okay until I looked up and saw a giant rattlesnake crawling across a 60 foot-by-20 foot screen. I went ballistic and my mom carried me to the projection booth above the seats where they left me with a projectionist. I sat there and calmed down as the film spun through the projector, it's sound was like riding a train, warm and comfortable.
I never forgot it.
This business has it's heartbreaks, like everything in life, my problems are no better or worse than anyone else's. You might think I'm rough on some things, but it's only because I live for this business and all the great people I've met through it, writers, actors, directors, and yes, even crew. I'm living my dream. Just don't show me The Living Desert.
Stick with us, you encourage us, get angry, disagree, question and even enjoy what we're trying to do here. We might not agree, but we're all here for the same reason:
We love the movies.