Monday, December 31, 2012

The Hooterville View

Most of you have probably never heard of the Hooterville View unless you grew up in the 1960's. It was based on a sitcom called Green Acres and about a New York lawyer who decided to up and leave the city to a farm in the country.

The show was based on the premise that everyone in the farm town was a little crazy and the only one who realized it was Eddie Albert, the lawyer. But since he was the only one who was different, he was essentially the crazy one.

In Hooterville you could be a woman plumber named Ralph and you could have a pig that was named Arnold who was drafted into the army by mistake  and who yet wanted to "serve his country."

One episode in particular had the townspeople deciding on whether to have the World's Fair in Hooterville. Eddie, the lawyer told them it was impossible, the world fair couldn't come to the town. Their answer was to vote and the votes won over the lawyer. The fact that it was impossible made it even funnier. In other words the townspeople were living in an illusion,  a world where anything was possible just by saying it was.

We called it the Hooterville View and whenever someone said something unrealistic we said it was just the Hooterville View.

So what does that have to do with movies?

I joined Linkedin some years ago as it promised the ability to join other peers and maybe find financiers to fund movies. However after the first year I began to notice something happening.

People I didn't know kept requesting to join me.

At first I felt flattered that so many up and comers where interested. But it wasn't long before I realized it was nothing more than a contest as to who got the most accepts. And also that almost all of them were people who never have done anything.

So it became a reminder of that joke from Groucho Marx who said he wouldn't want to belong to a club that would have him as a member. Instead the "new friends" I got were full of confidence with their packages of movies from one to a whole slate of feature films.

All they needed was money.

Now and then someone posts that they have money for movies and the rush is on. One person said he's "writing" three movies which of course he will direct and also be co-producer on all of them. And another guy has a western script that can be made for $44 million and if that doesn't work he has a comedy for $300k. 

This is where the Hooterville View comes in. Unfortunately it was, like the townspeople, based in a reality that doesn't exist. 

Much of Linked in consists of these kinds of people, who don't really know how to raise money as well as the reality that they have no idea what they're doing. It takes more than buying a Canon 5D DSLR and ten pages of a script that they are "still writing".

But on one hand, I did find a producer to help me fund Ghostkeeper on Linkedin. But the catch here is that I already knew him and he was a seasoned producer. 

Should I shatter their dreams? I don't think so because they wouldn't believe it. So I drop by Linkedin now and then to see which actor/director/producer/screenwriter/waiter with a package of  movies wants to know me.

If life were only that easy.

A director friend of mine was once asked by a young wannabe filmmaker how he could get to be like my friend. My friend simply said "all you have to do is get a job at a TV station and work for 35 years."

But I guess everybody has to try.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Tim Horton's, eh?

Tim Horton's is a legendary donut shop throughout Canada. It started with a hockey player for the Leafs, Tim himself, but who was later killed in a single car freeway accident in a De Tomaso Patera sportscar. However his legend lives on.

Tim's has donut shops in every province and they always have lines, both out the door and the drive-thru's. Anyone who gets a franchise is almost guaranteed success. A film camera friend of mine jumped onto the Tim's gold mine and does video presentations, training films and other PR jobs. He refers to his really nice home as "the house that Tim built.

There really is nothing like it in the U.S., except a slowly growing number in the east and even New York. It's not only donuts, they have soup and sandwiches, all reasonably priced.

There was a big controversy a year or so ago when Tim's threatened to use frozen dough. It was on the cover of MacLean's, the Time-like magazine.

Upon my arrival I sussed out the nearest Tim's (also called Timmy Ho Ho and a dozen other nicknames). It was less than a mile, perfect. You're looking at it up there, with snow and ice.

Last week I met an old friend of mine, we both grew up in the small town that Emperor of Mars was based on. He also fell in love with our teacher and we naturally sat in a Tim's over coffee recounting old memories.

Next week back t0 some business, as I meet with Joe and discuss Ghostkeeper. Then back to LA to begin the new year and the 4th year of this blog which keeps going. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Havana, Cuba II

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with family! We spent Christmas in Boise, Idaho with my parents (where I grew up) and are headed to a cabin in McCall for New Years with my childhood friends and their husbands. It's so good to be home sometimes, isn't it??

Here are some more photos of our time wandering the streets of Havana. When I think back on what we did in Havana, we didn't really do much other than walk, walk, walk. And that kept us satisfied. Every street is lined with colorful, crumbling buildings, the front doors are usually open and neighbors and kids hang out on the sidewalks. There's so much to see, no matter where you head. Most people said hello and let us take a photo and of course we loved that. 

- Julia

Monday, December 24, 2012

Back to the true north

Beginning to settle into minus 28C temperatures as Calgary is having a "cold spell". There isn't much wind but lots of minor accidents, I usually pass 5 or 6 every day and see trucks hauling wrecked cars away.

I sometimes get Americans who tell me that Canada doesn't have the freedoms that America has. This, of course, is so totally wrong it rarely gets a reaction from me anymore. In fact it's in our national song, O' Canada. Some of the first words include "the true north strong and free" and we do have a bill of rights which include all freedoms that America has, except assault rifles.

Regardless we survived 12/21/12 and the planet is still here. 

But beyond that I met an old friend who grew up in the same little town as I did, and which was the inspiration for Emperor of Mars. We both fell in love with our Grade 5 & 6 teacher, Miss Mazure, who was around 18 years old or so. She is vividly portrayed in Emperor and some of you probably remember the booksigning last May.

My friend Peter and I recounted stories of the past and it was a pleasure to see that he had many of the same feelings for small-town Canada, very similar to small-town America, held great memories that formed who we are now.

I couldn't say the same for the 90 mile drive from Calgary toha halfway point for both of us, the roads were really bad, as you can see above. And of course, a handful of cars in the ditches. I don't miss the Arctic-like conditions at all. But it is a test of strength to drive anywhere during winter.

And back too the movies, I will be meeting with Joe Thornton, the producer for Ghostkeeper 2, the sequel. We hope to finance the movie to shoot this winter in Calgary but if you've read my past blogs, you'll know how damn hard it is to raise the money.

I'll be at the Deer Lodge for a visit, the hotel we shot the original Ghostkeeper and I am also doing a final edit on my screenwriting book which should be out in late January 2013. I also have a new screenplay to write, but that won't start until I get back in a week or so.

This morning I drove a mile or so to the nearest Tim Horton's coffee joint, well-known in Canada and slowly spreading into the US. It's a legendary chain that every true Canadian knows well. Sort of a MacDonalds of donut shops but nothing like the ones in the U.S. 

As I paid for my coffee and yogurt and scone, the young girl smiled and said "Merry Christmas", which took me aback for a moment... I wondered, can she really say that? Won't someone sue her? But apparently not. I paused, looked around and then spoke:

"Merry Christmas to you too". She smiled. 

I glanced around, nobody saw me say that. Phew... as the cartoons say.

While some countries don't have the freedom to say that without law suits, apparently it's okay at the McLeod Trail Tim Horton's coffee place.

The true north.  Eh?    

Monday, December 17, 2012

Havana, Cuba I

We are finally sharing photos from our trip to Cuba earlier this year (though we've given you a sampling with our recent Cuba calendar)! It’s a lot harder to blog our travels when we have another full time job/blog. We have so many photos we want to share from Cuba, and we plan to do that here. Better late than never, right?

Cuba is such an interesting country and unlike any other place we’ve ever visited. The history and culture doesn’t compare to anything we’ve seen. To our parents, our stories of Cuba reminded them of the Communist Soviet Union they grew up in… which isn’t exactly a good thing. Life in Ukraine was hard for our families, which is why they moved to the US when we were both really young. It’s been over 20 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union and though things aren’t perfect, they’ve gotten a lot better. In Cuba, the people are still waiting for a change. The way of life and government seems prehistoric. It’s incredible that a country so close to the United States can be so different.

Cuba has been under the rule of the same old dude (and recently his brother) for over 50 years. It became a Communist country modeled after the USSR and had a strong Russian presence for a few decades. Also for over 50 years, Cuba and the United States have had a no-trade embargo. That means nothing comes in and nothing goes out between the US and Cuba. Everything in Cuba is old and reused, and they’ve excelled at being a self-sustaining country. It’s incredible how they can make the same cars last for 50 years. The United States continues an embargo against Cuba "so long as it continues to refuse to move toward democratization and greater respect for human rights."

We feel like Cuba is on the brink of change and keep seeing that in the media. Just in the last few years the Cuban government has allowed people to open their own businesses (prior to this, absolutely everything was government run and regulated). Obama has loosened some laws that allow Cubans to travel between the US and Cuba to visit family. The old man Fidel is getting up there in age, and something’s gotta give. Yuriy and I really wanted to visit Cuba before it changes and opens up to the US… before McDonalds, Starbucks, and the Hilton rush into Cuba and commercialize it. We feel so fortunate to have experienced Cuba in all it’s rustic beauty and really treasure the photos we brought home from it.

We’ll be sharing posts from Havana, Cienfuegos, and Trinidad in the coming weeks, so come back to see more.

- Julia

*** If you haven’t ordered a Cuba calendar yet, do so by the end of tomorrow to get one before Christmas! (if you’re in the US)