Thursday, February 2, 2012

Writing again

Finally after a month of post-Christmas organizing and deciding what I want to do this year, I'm finally back to writing a screenplay, my first since last April. It is a "spec" as we say, in that nobody has hired me to write it but I have a good chance to sell it.

Mostly because two producers already are interested.

Not that it means anything, interest can be as fleeting as that wonderful woman I met at a party some time ago, the perfect woman. Which reminds me again of that line from a director in which he explains Hollywood in a great metaphor... 

"The film business is like a beautiful woman who's married to you and you know she cheats on you but yet, when she dresses up and you look at her across the table at a restaurant, you continually say she's worth it." 

I think it was one of the Peters, Yates or Hyam. And for the women, yes, you can change it to suit your particular preference.

Back to writing.

I'm often asked where I get my ideas from and it's not really hard to explain. From everywhere and everybody around me. But it wasn't so in the beginning; when I was starved for ideas and couldn't think of anything.

As I've said before in this blog, writing did not come easy to me; I never really went to film school as there were few film schools in the 70's and the one I did take I failed in. But I had good company, my friend Phil Borsos also failed.

But we were the only two who ever had a career in that whole class.

I learned to write, shockingly, by writing. And writing and writing. It took a good 5 years of writing before I began to see stories around me, I was a slow learner. But once they did, they came in droves.

The script for Town That Christmas Forgot came from 3 different stories and if you haven't seen it, it's about a family that helps a small town remember the joy of Christmas.

The first story happened to me an an ex and her 3 kids as our car broke down in the middle of nowhere in Oregon and the little town that we stayed in for a few days. The second story was about a dying coal mining town in the Rockies of which I made a documentary. And finally the last story; wherein the movie town has it's Christmas Pageant, came from the little Christmas pageants I remember from my small village of 500 people.

Another script, Bender's Hamlet, dealt with a writer who is trapped in a life of teaching he hates until he encounters a 93-year old student who teaches him how to live life. This came from my own experiences with that student, who became a close friend till his death. I added a subplot about gypsies based on my 4 years of dealing with the "King of the Gypsies" who was an impossible person, but who gave me a keen insight into American Gypsy life.

Those and a handful of others were personal scripts, stories of real people and real places.  So you're asking about those other scripts, like sci-fi and action stories.

I'm okay with those genres, although they're not my favorite; if you check my imdb you'll see I've done 8 or so sci-fi and action scripts and I don't mind them, but they're harder to write, at least for me, because they usually tend to be made up. A director once said that making an action film is easy, you chase someone up the mountain and then turn around and chase him down.

So what am I beginning to write; it's a Christmas script called The Christmas Train. Since Hallmark is always on the hunt for new holiday scripts and after all I sold one that did very well in the ratings, enough to be shown in 2011 several times in both the U.S. and Canada, I figure it's got a decent chance to get made.

It's based on a train traveling on Christmas Eve and focusing on four stories of which I started out with the following words;

A new love, an old love, a lost love and a thief.

The basis of this story is once again, from my life, when I took a few train trips including one halfway across Canada, another with my former partner, Carole in the early 80's and finally one I remember as a child. Add an image I got from that woman at the party, her memory of learning to walk on a train trip.

Some people would wonder why I would expose so much of my ideas in a public blog, I know writers who won't divulge a single word of their new screenplay. But everyone writes differently, no one writes like I do, and I don't write like others.

Of course, my writing only happens in the morning; I'll go for 5 pages every day which is how I work best. However I usually do 4, sometimes 6. Every writer has their own pace. I have a friend who barely gets 2 pages a day.

And for me, it's always morning; I can't write after 6pm and I leave the afternoon for other work; doing a new budget for Ghostkeeper 2, doing more to sell my book, considering another script after this one, building a website for Emperor, doing an audio promo for the book and a dozen other things.

If only I got paid for all this work.

But I'm looking forward to this and it should be finished by the first week of March, leaving lots of time to circulate it and find a potential buyer.

Either that, or it ends up in that stack of around 30 or so scripts that never sold. Or I can novelize it like I did Emperor of Mars, now on Amazon.