Monday, December 13, 2010

The Good, the bad and the possibilities

Okay, the reading of Casualties of Love is over. Rather than typing the entire title over, I will lower my pride by using initials from now on, as in COL, which everyone does not anyways.

How did it work out? 

The actors were very good and even got better on the second reading. But the script was not good, for reasons I'll go into in a minute. The possibilities though are good for COL becoming  a movie.

We had five actors including Chris, whose blog link you can find on my blog page on the left side. David, a Chapman university film student operated the DV camcorder for both readings. And a very good actor, Mary, read the scene descriptions. 

The first reading was more for the actors becoming comfortable with each other and quickly fell into their roles, trying different ways and managing quite well. Chris, a seasoned actor with a terrific voice helped them as he played the role of the rock star with a British accent, although Chris is Irish.

The second reading was better, as it often is and the actors began to try other things sometimes, sometimes it worked, sometimes not particularly to my view, but still good.

But one thing didn't work as well as I hoped, and I really knew it wouldn't from the beginning.

I had written COL as a play, 70 pages, and being a play it tended to go against the subtleties of film. Translated this meant the script was too much over the top. Too many rants and too many points of view that were uncomfortably me.

Remember that plays need to be louder and bigger, at least most of them, because the actor's voice has to carry to the back of the theater. While it works fine for a theater with 45 seats, it needs extra effort to reach the back row in a 200 seat theater. Broadway often uses headset microphones, and not only for singing.

My director friend Michael very perceptively caught this also and said simply "it's too much you". And he is totally right. It would work great as a play, but I don't want to do a play.

And one of the actors made an interesting statement; he said that now, in these days, it's cheaper to make a movie than set up a play with a 6 week run. You would think that having a cast of 5 or 6 actors in a small theater would be cheap. But digital video is cheaper.

Given that even I shoot documentaries and edit them on Apple's Final Cut Pro software, tossing a few actors in front of my camera isn't that much more.

So, as my old friend Phil Borsos, who passed away years ago used to say; "This is what you have to do Jimmy." And then he'd launch into a very specific and detailed instruction.

What I have to do is rewrite the screenplay, that's obvious. But I need to separate the characters, make them stand out more individually. In short build their character development as many screenwriting books tell you.

And for an old dog like me, who knows this and who even taught it at UCLA extension, I'm surprised I didn't catch it sooner.

So now I face a major rewrite but one which I know where I  have to go. And at the same time I will begin editing the nearly 4 hours of video into a 2-3 minute clip that I can show investors.

And not only that, I also have to come up with a Christmas movie sequel to my Town That Christmas Forgot (last showing Dec 14 6pm EST) as well as sending out two pitch for2 different  series pilots as well as writing a feature Christmas story.

But I can't start too much now, after all it's Christmas and the movers and shakers of Hollywood are slowly beginning to not return calls and plan their trips to Sun Valley and Aspen. And I'm going to Calgary, but will be meeting with some people on two other potential projects.

So for now, I'll edit the COL video foortage and make notes towards the rewrite. And try to make a hit list of possible investors. And remember not to call them until after Christmas.

(Thurs: Something new)