The Orange County Screenwriters Association
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    Mark Sevi

    Mark Sevi


    angelina jolieThe story on Wednesday at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, was the size of the crowds that had come from all over the world to preview the upcoming films from Walt Disney Studios and Sony Pictures, meet and hear director Christopher Nolan discuss filmmaking, screenwriting, and the current state of movies, and as a bonanza, see the first laser projector, (only costing $120,000) present movies with the brightest colors and picture ever seen, accompanied by Dolby Atmos sound which blows away anything else, and brings you right into the picture.

    Perhaps, though, the most notable thing was how screenplays have been uplifted and the bar has been raised, as filmmakers want every area to be beyond perfect and screenwriting has taken a prime seat.

    Disney began the day providing a special breakfast treat for everyone when Angelina Jolie stepped out before the crowd to discuss her project for Disney, “Maleficent,” which will hit theatres for Memorial Day Weekend, and what a weekend that will be. Jolie is magnificent as the evil queen of “Sleeping Beauty” and the backstory of what happened to turn her into the mean antagonist most foul that makes Lady Macbeth look like a saint. This is one masterpiece of film, and Jolie is just brilliant in the role. The story is superb, and only Disney could pull this story off so well without becoming caught in the web of the original animated feature. Mark this one down as a definite yes.

    The lineup for Disney is big, and kicks off in a few weeks with “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” This one is also from a great screenplay, with Steve Rogers battling the demons of living in the present, and, so appropriate for the current moment in world events because he must battle a Soviet agent called The Winter Soldier. The last CA was a blast, this one takes us where we have not gone with this character, rich in depth, story, and great sideplots.

    Disney wouldn’t be Disney without animation, and has “Planes, Fire, and Rescue,” a spinnoff from “Cars.” Disney also reboots “Cinderella,” with a live-action film directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Cate Winslett, Hayley Atwell, and Helena Bonham Carter, and this is also no child’s play but a stunning and great story written by Chris Weitz.

    Another film screened was the Jon Hamm starer, “Million Dollar Arm,” just in time for the baseball season to begin, with a great story of a slightly out there sports agent who plots to get some Indian cricket players into the big leagues.

    And “Big Hero 6,” is Marvel’s first project at Disney and what a project it is. Disney Animation did the work on this homage to big screen heroes in a story where the government recruits a young robotic prodigy to enlist the help of six friends to all become crimefighters and defend the world’s biggest city from a gang of very nefarious criminals.

    Christopher Nolan discussed his career and what made him make film. He said that what’s inside a character also drives them as much as the external pressures they face, and he really likes to present complex protagonists rather than black and white. And in his latest project, “Intersteller,” that is what he does to carry off an amazing tale of a spaceship who discovers a wormhole to travel vast differences that are beyond human capability of the moment in the film, and what a film. Matthew McConnaughy, strait out of Oscar-land, follows up with a role that he brings more interest to than Captain Kirk. Wow. He is joined by a cast including Jessica Chastain, Wes Bently, Ann Hathaway, and a great group of professionals who give such gravitas to the film, including Ellen Burstyn, William Devane, and John Lithgow.

    spidey v electroSony president Rory Bruer hosted Sony’s lineup, and it is big. It included a screening of “The Amazing Spiderman 2” in 3D, and also, the bar has been raised on this one, as Peter Parker learns that there is a price to pay for being Spiderman. The film gives the richest portrait yet of Peter Parker, as well as perhaps the meanest group of villains to ever come along – from Electro, played by Jamie Foxx, to Rhino, played by Paul Giammati, to Green Goblin and more – all with one thing in common – the nefarious Oscorp. It is a great action story, but also with human elements that make a superman at times less than normal.

    “Heaven Is for Real” is based on the epic best-seller and true story of a young boy who dies and revives and tells the story of what he saw in Heaven. This film was done by the quasi-faith based arm of Sony that has sensed that pictures with God don’t have to be “The Ten Commandments” to command an audience. Writers take note, this field is wide open to you.

    “Mom’s Night Out” starring Sara Drew, is a hilarious tale of several moms who just want a night out away from family and children, and with children being watched by husbands, what could go wrong? This great little story is well written and gives “Home Alone” a run for its money.

    And together again are Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill in “22 Jump Street” a riotous tale of the two pals who have graduated high school and now go undercover on a college campus. And with all the wild activity on a campus, these two cold be straight out of “Wolf of Wall Street.” It is very funny and will leave you wanting a sequel. Again.

    Another sequel is “Think Like a Man Too,” directed by Tim Story, based on Steve Harvey’s bestseller (Harvey is a favorite of females of all ages, from 15 to 90, with a surprising group of seniors loving him.) The whole cast is back for a wedding inVegas, but so many hilarious things go wrong, the whole story gets upended and is what a hilarious surprise it becomes.

    “Deliver Us From Evil,” is one hell of a frightener, with Eric Bana as a troubled NYPD detective Ralph Sarchie, who joins with a priest played by Edgar Ramirez, who really knows exorcism, to battle demonic forces gripping the city with disturbing and unexplainable crimes and murders. Based on the true book by Sarchie, this is one that will give you sleepless nights.

    “The Equalizer” was based off the old television series, but this one way beyond equal. Denzel Washington is an ex-black ops agent living quietly who must come from retirement to battle a group of murderous Russian gangsters bent on taking over the world. Washington puts this character on par with James Bond, he is simply magnificent. And this has action and suspense the entire film, and is written by Richard Wenk and stars Denzel, Bill Pullman, and Melissa Leo as the good guys. I don’t know how these writers do it, but they come up with never before seen ideas for such suspenseful and big adventures for the characters, it will rock you.

    Additionally, Sony has remade “Annie” for Christmas, and it for sure looks like a winner.

    Coming in October, James Franco and Seth Rogan star in a comedy film made by the producers of Pineapple Express and written by Rogen, et al, that will split more than your sides. The plot has Franco playing a popular tv show host who is watched daily by dictator Kim Jong-Un of North Korea. Franco is asked by the CIA if he and Rogen could go over to Korea and assassinate Jong, which leads to the most inept assassination plot in history. And very, very funny.

    At the end of the day, laser technology dazzled audiences as film scenes were played on digital projection, which is very intense color, and then on laser projection. The laser is the future and a big wow to it, a very big wow.

    Additionally, OCSreenwriters got a few minutes with director Ivan Reitman, which we will bring you tomorrow.

    tom sherakLastly, The Will Rogers Pioneer of the Year Dinner, a huge event attended by everyone from every studio, theatre owners, writers, producers, directors, everyone in the business, and hosted by Jeffery Katzenberg, was a tear jerker, as the entire industry honored Tom Sherak. Sherak passed away two months ago, just after being named by LA mayor Gil Garcetti as LA Film Czar.

    Sherak was the model that no one ever sees of Hollywood, yet he ruled the town right up to his death, from heading several studios, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, to devoting himself and everyone around him to helping others. All of us have attended charity functions he championed, where he brought the best in entertainment to help raise money for those in need. We have all sat everywhere from the vast Century Plaza Hotel ballroom to the intimate Beverly Hills Hotel, and he brought so many of us together for a cause.

    He was the legend that raised billions of dollars for charities, including MS, as his daughter suffered from it; he was the legend who could raise money for charity in a second, finance a film in the next minute, and assist a dog breeder in Pennsylvania as well as get a script from a newcomer to Hollywood to be read.If Tom liked anything, the whole town did. Yet media portray Hollywood as cold and greedy, when Sherek led the pack for the last 25 years at being beyond helpful, but also not afraid to sacrifice for others, especially those in need.

    And though the man who really ran Hollywood from top to bottom had many titles, his favorite was “Official Advisor” to the LA Dodgers, as he had followed them since his childhood in Brooklyn.

    Tom was the man everyone called for everything. If your picture didn’t open good, Tom was there, and if you were out of money, Tom was there. So much in the town revolves because of his love for the city, and most of all his love for people and sharing everything with them. He started a fund for people in the industry who were older, called Pioneers, and it pays medical bills and so much more for people who worked their lives in the industry.

    A tribute doc was put together that showed how Sherak, though so powerful, was till best friends with his childhood buddies from Brooklyn and visited each other, and the two best friends he had in service during Vietnam, very often. Their words, the words of everyday people, showed the enormity of Sherak and what he had done for Hollywood. Every star gave tributes, and everyone closed with Sherak’s famous goodbye line every time he closed a conversation – “Whatever you do, have fun.” Sherak said “we were the most fortunate people in the world to be in this business, it is so great, so inspiring, so interesting and even though we face many valleys, this business is so much fun.”

    Those words touched everyone, and it was almost a 60’s LoveFest in the room as the Four Tenors, a phenomenal quartet from Canada, sang a song Sherak loved, “Nessun Dorma,” and closed the night.

    If you are reading this, and you are in the business, you know it’s true – it’s fun. So long, Tom Sherak.

    "Nessun Dorma"

    Nobody shall sleep!...
    Nobody shall sleep!
    Even you, o Princess,
    in your cold room,
    watch the stars,
    that tremble with love and with hope.
    But my secret is hidden within me,
    my name no one shall know...
    On your mouth I will tell it when the light shines.
    And my kiss will dissolve the silence that makes you mine!...
    (No one will know his name and we must, alas, die.)
    Vanish, o night!
    Set, stars! Set, stars!
    At dawn, I will win! I will win! I will win!

    Lorenzo P. is currently stalking the highways and byways of CinemaCon for OC Screenwriters.   Thanks, Buddy!


    costnerWhat a great second day at CinemaCon 2014. Universal Studios has a huge lineup of diverse film, and Universal has been on a roll, and with the upcoming slate, will continue that roll through this year. And Lionsgate with director Ivan Reitman at the helm brought out a film that established Kevin Costner as one of the best actors of our age, as well as giving us a film set against a sports backdrop that will literally take your breath away.

    Universal Distribution President, Nikki Rocco, presented their lineup and the stars to a jam-packed Coliseum Theatre at Caesar’s Palace of industry people and media from throughout the world.

    Universal screened Neighbors in its entirety, and footage from Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West; The Purge: Anarchy; Fast & Furious 7, with a great tribute to Paul Walker; the James Brown bio pic – Get on Up; Fifty Shades of Grey; the great sequel, Dumb and Dumber To; the animated Minions, which is a spin-off from the hugely successful Despicable Me; Angelina Jolie directed Unbroken; Luc Besson’s Lucy, which stars Scarlett Johansson.

    “Neighbors” stars Seth Rogen and Zac Effron and is a bawdy comedy that had industry insiders roaring and this will be big for Universal, as it is in the model of “Ted” and just as funny, if not funnier.

    Seth MacFarlane the creator of “Ted” was up next with his “A Million Ways to Die in the West,” which is a hilarious take off on many of the western dramas of Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood, and has a great group of stars carrying it off.

    And certainly, everyone was in awe and gave a standing ovation to Angelina Jolie as she presented “Unbroken”, the unbelievable story of Louis Zamperini, who was no ordinary prisoner of war, and who’s exploits in WWII are legendary. This was originally supposed to be a Universal vehicle for Tony Curtis, in 1959, but never got made. Jolie found the script, and the rest, as they say in Hollywood, is legend.

    Another treat was the first footage seen from “Fifty Shades of Grey,” and even the execs at Universal hadn’t seen this yet.

    Scarlett Johansson stars in Luc Besson’s “Lucy”, a sci-fi action film that keeps you on the edgfe of your seat, and Besson is a master of that format. 

    And now, 20 years later we get a sequel that got the audience laughing so loud it had to have been heard up and down the strip – “Dumb and Dumber To” and Jim Carrey is back in a big way in this film as well as Jeff Daniels when Carrey wakes up from a 20 year stay in an institution.

    “Get On Up” is directed by Tate Taylor, who directed “The Help,” is the bio of James Brown, and no matter if you know Brown or not, you will be up out of your seat jamming in the aisles on this fantastic look into Brown’s life.

    Most people were stunned at “The Purge: Anarchy,” which was a sequel to last year’s big hit, but this one has a great storyline, that for twelve hours, once a year, all crime is legal, including murder.

    ivan reitman

    But the story of the day was Lionsgate’s “Draft Day”, starring Kevin Costner and directed by super-director/producer Ivan Reitman ("Ghostbusters" "Stripes") and some great character actors about, as the title implies, draft day in the NFL.
    The entire narrative centers on Costner as the GM of the Cleveland Browns and it is a riveting, funny, eye-opening glimpse into the world of NFL as no movie has ever shown.
    The screenplay is magnificent. With plots and twists that give us the real inside scoop of the down and ruthless life of what’s at stake.
    This is Oscar caliber, and the best of Costner’s long line of sports-themed films and Reitman should definitely earn a nomination for Best Director!

    But again, the story was Costner himself in this film skillfully guided by Reitman's sure directorial hand. He carries this film in every scene, and the dramas and humors that build around him are played like no one else. He is back like you have never seen him before, and he has risen in stature as a real star who is also a great actor, just as Clark Gable and Humphrey Bogart.

    lorenzo and friend

    And the story is so great, with all the action taking place in one day, and the screen gets time of day at different spots to highlight the enormity of the day and build on the intense pressure to find not only  the best player, but players that will sell season tickets and create fan devotion.

    The cutbacks and split screens on phone calls was done so well the moviegoer was in on the call.

    Great kudos to Costner, the screenwriter, and the director, Reitman, for pulling this off, and it is a huge picture that opens in April. This picture is perfect in what is defined as great, from the opening scene to the credits this is a great film in the long tradition of Hollywood films that engage the moviegoer immediately into the action and the character, and we feel the enormity of the stakes from the first scene.

    Thank you, Universal, and thank you very much, Lionsgate.

    Lorenzo P. is currently stalking the highways and byways of CinemaCon for OC Screenwriters.   Thanks, Buddy!



    Hello to OC Screenwriters and our web followers around the country and to all the ships at sea.

    Day One at CinemaCon 2014 in Las Vegas, where its been home for more than thirty years, kicked off at Caesar’s Palace, with a preview of the entire week and in addition to the film stars, the largest film convention in the world, with every major studio and producers, directors and stars attending from around the world, soon to be standard technological achievements in everything from cameras used in filming to advanced popcorn poppers was teased to an audience of more than 20,000.

    Paramount lit the fireworks that started CinemaCon. The annual convention where theatre owners from all over the world gather in Las Vegas and meet and greet the stars and hear what product will be offered over the next six months from the studios, had Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Will Arnett delighting the huge crowd with story after story of their upcoming films for Paramount to be released by summer.

    Paramount presented its product reel of glimpses from summer films that included Transformers: Age of Extinction, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Hercules, and 3D SpongeBob.

    Rob Moore, executive vice chairman of Paramount, introduced their upcoming films and welcomed stars to the stage to greet the audience of National Association of Theatre Owners, and Mitch Nuehauser, the CinemaCon managing director dropped down from the ceiling wearing a Ron Burgundy costume from the film.

    Dwayne Johnson walked through the crowd and took the stage, and had a few words about his role as Hercules. “Before we started shooting Hercules, I agreed the goal was for me t completely disappear into the character, including hair, makeup, and prosthetic penis.”

    "Before we started shooting Hercules, Paramount, MGM and I made a pact," he told the crowd. "The goal was for me to completely disappear into the character -- hair, makeup, prosthetic penis."
    Johnson, in the clips of the film screened, battled enormous armies and giant boars, and wore a lion’s head as his battle helmet.
    Will Arnett introduced “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”, which have come a long way from their earlier relatives of the early 1990’s. The film clips were awesome, as the Turtles are computer graphic created and the whole group were wisecracking and funny as most teens are.

    Mark Wahlberg said he took the role in Transformers to work with Michael Bay, and that it wouldn’t let anyone down and would blow us away. And that is exactly what happened when a portion of the film was screened, and this is like no Transformer movie ever seen. Bay has raised the bar a great deal and the creations were beyond imagination. 

    In the film, Wahlberg is an inventor who discovers a Transformer, and his daughter becomes a hostage, and Wahlberg has to rescue her. Easy enough? No way. These Transformers go way beyond the determined menace of even the Terminator. This film will be huge.

    Special treats today will include studio film previews of the summer, and the latest technological advancements, including laser projection, which will leave digital far behind, and also a special showing of new 4D, yes that’s right, 4D.

    And no good convention that celebrates Hollywood would be without cocktail parties, food created by chefs from around the world, and music by well-known recording artists.

    You heard it first, right here!

    Day Two starts at 8 AM.

    Lorenzo Porricelli reporting for OC Screenwriters
    CinemaCon - 2014

    robert rollins and rudi fehrOne of the greatest influences in my life was by a gentleman named Rudi Fehr.  He was not only my mentor, but was my dear friend.  I first met Rudi in my freshman year at California Institute of the Arts, while attending his editing course.  He must’ve seen something in that quiet, frightened and lonely boy I once was because he quickly took me under his wing and we became fast friends.  Rudi had great patience.  He would always listen attentively, never growing impatient with my constant chatter, never taking sides if I was having a disagreement with my parents and was always willing to give sagely advice when necessary.

    Rudi is gone now, but there isn’t a day that passes for me without a thought of him, remembering him with a certain amount of magical awe.  I have often spoken about the love and respect I have for Rudi, but I realize the unfortunate fact that nobody really knows about this incredible man.  Therefore, to honor my dear friend I would like to share with my readers, the life of Rudi Fehr.

    The life of Rudi Fehr is an incredibly rich story of an immigrant refugee.  He rebuilt his livelihood in the United Statesand has left a cinematic legacy to the classic Hollywoodstudio era. Rudi joined Warner Bros in 1936 as a film editor until attaining producer status in 1952.  In 1954, Rudi was elected to the board of governors of the Academyof Motion Pictures Artsand Sciences.  After retiring from Warner Bros. in 1976, he returned in 1977 to supervise foreign language adaptations of the studio’s films for France, Germany, Italyand Spain.  In 1980 Rudi joined Zoetrope Productions and worked with Frances Ford Coppola.  He returned to the editing bench in 1984 to gain an Oscar nomination for John Huston’s black comedy Prizzi’s Honor.

    A native of Berlin, Germany, Rudi was born on July 6, 1911and studied at the Lyceum Alpinum in Switzerland.  “I really intended to be a diplomat,” Rudi once told me of his early years in Berlin, but, because of the Hitler regime and his ethnic background, it was not possible. So he studied music and wanted to be a symphony conductor.

    Rudi’s father was a banker on the board of one of the leading German film combines, Tobis-Klangfilm.  He arranged a job for his son to work as an apprentice film editor and within months Rudi was editing his first film, Der Schlemiel (1931).  Rudi worked for the producer Sam Spiegel in Germany, then in Austriaand Englandafter the Nazis came to power.

    Upon his arrival to the United Stateslate on night in 1936, Rudi had barely stepped off the ocean liner when he was detained by an immigrations official.  Apparently the immigrations official was concerned that Rudi was trying to smuggle the numerous musical instruments he had brought with him from Germanythrough customs.  Tried as he might to explain to the immigrations official he played all the instruments, the man wouldn’t believe him and insisted that Rudi would play every instrument present.  Rudi warmly recalled, “So I graciously obliged the official by taking up each instrument and serenading him while standing on a New Yorkpier on a beautiful evening.”

    He moved on to Warner Bros’ studios at Burbank, California, initially translating German films into English, then becoming an assistant to the editor Warren Low on such notable productions as The Life of Emile Zola (1937), starring Paul Muni, and Jezebel (1938), starring Bette Davis.  My Love Came Back (1940) with Olivia de Havilland was the first feature he edited himself.  While cutting Million Dollar Baby (1941), he met one of its supporting players, Maris Wrixon, who later became his wife.

    Of his early work, Rudi said, “I was especially pleased with Watch on the Rhine (1943).  The director had never made a film before and I worked with him day and night to lay out all the shots.”  This was Herman Shumlin, who had directed the hugely successful stage original on Broadway and was fine with the actors (Paul Lukas and Bette Davis) but had no idea of film technique.

    Working at Warner Bros, Rudi had little choice in the films he cut. “Each of the major studios produced about 60 pictures annually.  The picture that started shooting was assigned to the editor who had just finished a show,” he explained to our class.  Editors worked in varied genres and had little or no opportunity to impose a style of their own.  In fact, when asked whether there was such a thing as a style that would identify a particular editor, he responded: “In my humble opinion, absolutely not!”

    Many of his films were routine, but A Stolen Life (1946) had the visual intricacy of Bette Davis playing the dual role of two sisters, initially on screen at the same time, and Humoresque (1946) presented John Garfield as an outstanding violinist, dubbed by Isaac Stern.  Garfieldhad to be carefully filmed and edited as he couldn’t play a note.  He kept his arms behind his back in close-ups while a member of the studio orchestra perched on each side of him, their hands coming into frame to do the fingering and bowing.  John Huston’s tense crime drama Key Largo(1948), with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, was another plum that landed in Rudi’s lap.

    The production chief Jack L. Warner came to place great value on Rudi’s taste and judgment, and in 1952, without asking him first, promoted him to a producer.  But, after handling the mediocre 1953 remake of the musical The Desert Song, Rudi escaped back to the cutting rooms, where he had the great satisfaction of editing two Alfred Hitchcock thrillers in a row.  I Confess (1953) was shot in Quebec, but Rudi remained in Burbankto look at each day’s rushes as they were processed, phoning Hitchcock with his comments.  The footage went off to Canadafor Hitchcock to view, then back to Rudi to start editing.

    Despite the director’s reputation for “storyboarding” his films and “cutting in the camera”, Rudi recalled, “I never saw any set-ups he had thought of before.  I never saw anything on paper.  With I Confess, he shot a lot of film because he knew he couldn’t go back to Quebecto retake it.”  The second Hitchcock film, Dial M for Murder (1954), produced much less footage, being shot mostly on one set at Burbank, but Rudi again saw no evidence of preconceived editing by the director.  “He gave me a completely free hand.  He never told me how to do anything.  He looked at the film after I finished my first cut and gave me few changes – never more than five or six.  I got along with him just famously.  It was the most pleasant association I’ve ever had in my career.”  Dial M for Murder was shot in 3-D. Rudi had earlier cut the horror hit House of Wax (1953) in that short-lived process and found that it made no significant difference to his work other than to ensure that the 3-D highlights, like a ping-pong ball leaping out of the screen, were presented to maximum effect.

    When Rudi did accept an executive position in 1955, it was as Warners’ head of post-production.  He viewed the rushes of all the films in production each day with Jack Warner and oversaw their editing.  He was also required to accompany the studio chief on the five-minute walk from the cutting room to his office, so that Warner could avoid being collared by people he didn’t want to see by pretending he was too busy discussing an editing crisis. “I never asked for special favors, even though I was alone with him two hours a day while we went over rushes,” Rudi related to me: “Once, my wife convinced me to ask for a two-week vacation; we wanted to go to Arrowhead.  Warner’s answer was, ‘Rudi, when I’m here, you are here.  When I take my vacation, you take your vacation.’  Finally, Warner did take his vacation. I went to his right-hand man and asked for my vacation.  He said, “Are you crazy?  Do you want me to carry the ball for you too?  I need you now more than ever.”  So he said no; and therefore from 1956 to 1963 I didn’t have one day off.”

    Rudi became a skilled diplomat and intermediary between executives, producers and directors, trying to get all sides to agree to editing changes.  He specially supervised the foreign-language versions of the Jack Warner production of My Fair Lady (1964) in order to make them as good as the English version.  He remained at the studio 10 years after Jack Warner relinquished power.  He managed to get on with the next generation of innovative filmmakers.

    After retiring from Warner Bros in 1976, he joined Francis Ford Coppola at Zoetrope, working on post-production of Apocalypse Now (1979) and as the supervising editor on One from the Heart (1982).  In 1984, when John Huston asked him to edit Prizzi’s Honor, Rudi exclaimed, “But the last time I edited was in 1954!” “Oh, it’ll come back to you,” responded Huston. Rudi went to work. “The toughest problem was to cut 28 minutes out of a two-and-a-half-hour cut.  I thought that Huston was going to do that, but I was told it was my responsibility.”  Working on the picture with his daughter Kaja, he cut it down to an effective 129 minutes.

    Rudi’s crowning achievement was in 1983, when he was presented with the Grand Medal of Merit by the President of West Germany.  In 1990 he joined the California Institute of the Arts faculty, worked on foreign-language versions, and chaired the committee for the foreign film Academy Award, and in that year was honored by the Landof Berlin, which presented him with the Medal of Merit.  In March of 1993, Rudi received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Cinema Editors. 

    Rudi passed away on April 16, 1999.

    “Sasquatch in the Paint” Hits a Grand Slam
    “Sasquatch in the Paint,” written by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld, is the story of Theo Rollins and the tough moments he faces in turning thirteen and becoming a teenager, and while an element of the story is set against the backdrop of basketball, this book hits a Grand Slam. 
    And just as the title foretells, Theo must get into the paint of his life and establish his game there as well as on the basketball court, as he faces major conflicts at every turn. Early in the story, Theo is playing in a school basketball game and his opponent in the paint is majoring in confidence. Theo asks himself what is he confident about in his life, if anything, and knows the answer is zero. And we go from there into the mixed up and confused world of a young teen that climbs a seemingly endless staircase with no elevator to the top, but that is the heart of the journey we take with him.  
    Theo is a thirteen year-old African-American boy at Orangetree Middle School in Orange County, California,  a school where only a handful of black students attend, and is populated mostly by Asian students, with a dabbling of America’s melting pot mixed in. His father is Marcus Rollins, police officer and widower, thus Theo is without a mother, and his best friend is Brian “Brainiac” Horowitz, a husky boy quick with quips and sarcasm, who is Theo’s partner on the school academic team called Brain Train, and who happens to be Jewish.
    Theo grew six inches over the summer and his height bestowed some attention in the school halls never before given and he likes that, and when asked to join the school basketball team by Coach Mandrake he agrees, and that’s where the story begins – in the middle of a game that Theo blows because of his lack of playing skills, as up to that moment Theo had chosen academic achievement over sports. 
    Right then, in the first few pages of the book, the reader knows Jabbar and Obstfeld have crafted an adventure much more than an episodic coming of age tale, and that the story, rich with humor as well as the angst we all faced in our own coming of age, is something far broader, and bigger, and a challenge to stereotypes and prejudices. 
    Theo was called “Sasquatch” by fans in the stands at the first game because of his big feet and his clumsy behavior on the basketball court where we meet him, where he towered above all other players in height, but was the shortest on skills. And the ringleader of the name-calling is a girl called by Theo, “Crazy Girl,” aka Rain Kadinski.
    What story about becoming thirteen and all its issues wouldn’t include a girl? But Rain is all new to Theo as the first girl noticed as more than a glance in his life, and not because of any romantic thoughts, this relationship is born in conflict because of her boastful intelligence and right-to-the-heart observations of Theo’s behavior. Rain Kadinski inhabits her own world on her own terms and serves as a catalyst for Theo’s life adjustments because of her radical difference in life attitude, a confidence in her word and steps that challenge Theo’s insecurities from every angle.  
    And that is how the story develops – with everything we expect to happen being turned upside-down – from Theo on the Brain Trust, to having Brian as his best friend, to being unskilled at basketball to meeting the first girl in his life with any meaning who is that way because of her truthful boldness, to an enraged cousin from the ‘hood whose song he had written and shared with only Theo had been stolen from Theo’s backpack and was now a hit by a major band, to being challenged to a brain match to stay on the Brain Trust, to having his basketball coach pretty well tell him if he doesn’t improve he is off the team, to the mystery of Motorcycle Guy and why he hit Crazy Girl, to just who the heck is Crazy Girl, to his dad’s secret dating, to the question how does one young teenager even think about finding himself when his world is filled with a mine field of these issues exploding with every step? 
    The characters in the story are numerous and clever, with some given formal names, like Brooke, the self-absorbed diva of the Brain Trust, to others just named by a quality they possessed – Motorcycle Guy, Burrito Breath, Tunes, Fuzzy Mustache, names bestowed by young teens as identifiable enough for the characters they encounter. Nicknames are a very important part of the story, for the story is told through Theo, and his identification of others as no more or no less than the quality they possess is humorous and certainly an of age characteristic we carry with us into adulthood.
    But just as the title foretells, Theo must get into the paint of his life and establish his game there, as well as on the basketball court, and is forced to face the struggles it will take. Theo’s world is shaken when he sneaks a peak on his dad’s computer and finds out good old dad is secretly dating a woman he met at an online dating service. And then there’s this lack of confidence thing – both his basketball coach and his academic team coach put him on notice to ship up within the week or ship out. And that conflict is drawn so beautifully. We immediately love the academic team, except for Brooke, as they are characters drawn by illustration as likable, and here is where Theo has some gravitas – in knowledge. But the basketball team, outside of one player, Chris Richards, the respected best ball player who possesses Yoda qualities, is one-faceted, with talent with the ball as the only measure. Theo must choose which he wants more, which he can’t do, and chooses to succeed in both, which he can’t do.
    Again, the authors have written a story that is multi-leveled:
    Dialogue is a the diamond that drives the story, memorable and mostly humorous, as humor is the tool used by all age groups to face new ideas and challenges to the comfortable status quo. Humor moves the story forward, and forces us to look within our minds and decide how we are going to handle new conflicts, and a way is to poke fun at those newly discovered conflicts, followed by gradual acceptance. 
    An exchange between Theo and Brian after Theo has lost that first game and blames himself is foretelling of the great juxtaposition of the Brain Train team and the basketball team, and the rich, depth of intelligence not afraid to be displayed by Theo or his friends, but worn as truth, is inspiring to young people to seek the same. This story doesn’t stop at one specialty group for an audience, such as athletes, but challenges young people to go beyond barriers and stereotypes”
    “I let those punks from Danbury Heights get to me. That skin-color comment shook me.”
    Brian snorted. “Yeah, that’s the reason you sucked.”
    Theo frowned at his friend’s sarcasm. “You wouldn’t understand.”
    “Right, because I’m white. There’s no way a chubby white Jew with thick glasses, a wild Jew-fro, and perpetual acne could understand the emotional effects of name-calling. Thank goodness my life has been so full of unicorns and rainbows.”
    Theo grinned. “Then you agree.”
    Brian punched Theo in the arm. “As McLandburgh Wilson said, “The optimist sees the donut, the pessimist sees the hole.”
    And in his first conversation with Crazy Girl that theme is developed in a magnificent exchange of the two on a playground that also foretells some coming conflicts in addition to this one:
    She saw Theo looking at her jersey. “Dr. J’s number,” she said proudly.
    Theo shrugged. He’d heard of Dr. J, but he had no idea exactly who he was or why he was called “doctor.” He’d never followed sports of any kind. That was his dad’s thing.
    …She shook her head in disgust. “No wonder you stink at basketball. You’ve got no appreciation for the game or its history.”
    Theo leaned down so his face was close to hers and glared. “Yeah? Do you know who Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian, and Vladimir Kramnick are?”
    She seemed to lift up on her toes to return his glare. When she didn’t answer, Theo straightened up and grinned. “See? The world doesn’t revolve around basketball. There are other things. More important things.”
    She put the basketball on her finger and spun it like a globe. “Those are the three top-ranked chess players in the world. Carlsen from Norway, Aronian from Armenia, and Kramnik from Russia.”
    Theo’s jaw dropped open like a cartoon animal’s. He was surprised it didn’t clunk against the ground.
    She laughed. “Lookin’ smart there, Sasquatch.  Hey, maybe because of me, your nickname will be ‘Sasquatch.’ When you’re famous they’ll mention me in the Wikipedia entry about you. ‘Cute, awesome girl he knew who used to beat his butt at basketball.’ How’s that sound?”
    For young adults it is a coming of age tale most can relate to as there are visible characters involved in the story who are the thoughts and fears and worries of young adulthood, such as Motorcycle Guy, who is a big, mean dude who hits Rain and of course, rides a motorcycle. And early in the story, though Theo doesn’t know Rain yet except as Crazy Girl, he goes to her defense though he is no help. At that moment we see Theo as having courage to face his fear of a fight, along with some stupidity, so we choose to side with him and go along for his ride.
    For adults, the story is so well written, with twists beyond twists, second guesses, mysteries, and the most subtle foreshadowing of amazing happenings in a style that enlists us in the quest, while remembering our own walk through these issues, and checking to see if we have fully handled them, we become Theo’s teammates.
    There are many great and colorful characters in the story, and each one has a major validity, the same as in our lives, where we have people around us we can use for support or use to hone our rough edges, just as iron sharpens iron. Also in Theo’s life is Gavin, his tough, in-your-face cousin from the ‘hood who makes him feel uncomfortable because they have such different attitudes and values. But whose own journey is juxtaposed next to Theo’s. 
    Theo grows one small, painful step at a time; he doesn’t sprint to self-adjustment, which is just another colorful contrast in a story filled with symbolic contrasts that are a backdrop canvas and never an intrusion into the story. 
    Further, and most importantly, it is a great story, and I don’t think anyone can put it down because from the first page we are in a world so brilliantly crafted by Jabbar and Obstfeld. This is no Hardy Boys crime drama; this is a real life story that is captivating and appealing, with all elements of story possessing a charisma that fascinates us and gives us what we want most from a book – enjoyment.   
    How can someone you don’t know guarantee you will enjoy this story? It is impossible, but I will do it nonetheless, it is more than an amazing journey, it is a pure delight, a rich novel as big as “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” with some similar themes and poignant moments, this is one story so grand and so big, it seems inadequate to write a brief review, it is a great story that will not only touch young lives, but change them. All that a book can be is fulfilled within the pages of “Sasquatch in the Paint.” And yet, it is also a humble story that welcomes us along with Theo and we savor each page until we realize there are no more to enjoy.
    My hope is there will be many books about Theo, and I will stick with him through the rest of his life, if Jabbar and Obstfeld are so generous as to give us that gift. Theo and company have become to me, the reader, a part of the family.  And I would like them there on holidays, rainy days, sharing the adventure of our lives together. 
    Lorenzo Porricelli

    c-c-cut movieOn Saturday, OC Screenwriters was thrilled to present filmmaker Allan Holzman (credits) at a brunch that included a movie and a fantastic Q&A afterwards.

    Allan played his documentary on his life called "C-C-Cut" which details his journey through both the film world and his personal world as a stuttering director.  Afterwards Allan spoke for another 1.5 hours on that film and his process.  As a 'slash' - writer/director/producer/editor/etc (Emmy/Eddy/Peabody Award-winning, no less) - Allan's information was amazingly diverse and comprehensive.  His 30+ years in the trenches of all things film made for an encyclopedic presentation of how to succeed in a business that counts winners in terms of hits, not necessarily longetivity and quality.

    Allan has had all in copious amounts.

    As his movie and later he pointed out, Allan started with Roger Corman, the low-budget uber-producer, who has turned out many of Hollywood's biggest names.  The Q&A after the film covered even more of Allan's journey and insights as he talked about his struggles to stop his stuttering while pursuing a lifelong love of cinema.  

    One of the things you quickly learn about Allan is that he is a true student of film.  He speaks with equal veracity on "Attack of the Crab Monsters" and Truffaut's "400 Blows."  Nothing seemingly has escaped his notice from the world of film but more to the point, he's absorbed and learned from all these sources and is able to then transmit that knowledge into self-deprecating and hilarious anecdotes but also in deeply held convictions about how to make a movie.

    A clear indication of this is Allan's continuing professorship at USC Film School where he teaches editing to eager film students.

    Another clear sign of Allan's scope are his awards.  Emmys, Peabodys and Eddys - all sit on Allan's shelf.  While working in the industry for decades can be a measure of success, being given awards by your peers is icing on a cake made from tens of thousands of hours of hard, sweaty work.  Some of the stories Allan told about his run-ins with producers, directors, etc. were familiar to me but as a screenwriter our work is typically finished once the story meetings are.  Allan's work and frustrations run from pre- to post-production and sometimes beyond as he has been/is scapegoated after the fact by directors or producers who make wrong decisions and then blame the post-production process.

    As new OCSWA member Kevin McCarthy said, "That man's life is a study in frustration and tenacity.  And he doesn't seem jaded about it.  He still has a ton of excitement and joy for making movies.  A real inspirational guy.  I'm going home and write."

    Agreed.  Allan's stuttering alone could have sunk him if he had given up.  He is famously quoted as saying to Roger Corman after Corman told him he would never be a director because he stuttered: "I don't stutter as much when I'm in charge."  Add to this the years of abuse that anyone in the film community has to suffer and that would stop most.  Not Allan.  He still is proactive in his pursuit of film in his capacity as a cinema polyglot.  Not only is he finishing movies on TV legend Sheldon Leonard and filmmaker Francois Truffaut but his book "Celluloid Wars" is coming out soon.  And he's got two features in various stages of production.

    final draft

    Allan also spoke freely of some personal challenges he has had to overcome including sexual abuse at the hands of an uncle when he was six.  He ties this horrible event to the fact that afterwards he became a stutterer.  Thankfully, he's found a way to overcome both the memory of that abuse and his stuttering.

    For more information on Allan's book please use the contact form on this website (HERE) and we will happily forward your information to Mr. Holzman.

    A deeply-felt thanks to Final Draft for continuing its support of OC Screenwriters and allowing us to be able to give away a copy of their industry-standard writing software at our events.

    The Claim Jumper Banquet Room in Fountain Valley provided a great venue for this well-attended event.  Hopefully OCSWA will continue to be able to tap this great quality of guests for future events.

    First, a disclaimer.  I don't like "Dexter" but I did rabidly follow "Sopranos."   In general, I like supremely flawed anti-heroes.  My issue with "Dexter" is the conceit of trying to convince people that a serial killer can be an instrument of justice in any way, shape or form.  Both Dexter and Tony Soprano are sociopaths but no one is pretending Tony isn't anything else.  The idea that this grand experiment of Dexter's father channeling his son's murderous urges just left me cold (so to speak.)  I watched the first season with growing malaise and when it ended, so did my watching of it.

    I mention this because I'm not interested in following serial killers as my focal character, especially those who purport to be "understandable." A sociopath is not someone to root for.  When, at the end of "Silence of the Lambs" Hannibal Lector said to Agent Starling "I have to go.  I'm having a friend for dinner," and the camera then cut to the "evil" psychologist coming off the plane, people in the theater I was in clapped and cheered.  I blanched and got nauseous at the idea of it.  The filmmakers had so thoroughly convinced most in the audience that Hannibal was an appropriate instrument of justice that murdering and eating this vain man of a psychologist was desirable.  Like I said, I was nauseous at the thought.  You are too if you think it through. 

    While the distinction I see between Tony Soprano and Dexter may be slim, I do see it clearly. Kevin Spacey's character in "House of Cards" who is basically a sociopath at best, and as it's turning out, a serial killer at worst is not someone I want to celebrate for more than a few hours.  Sure, I'd follow him if it was a shorter subject but the idea that he can kill with impunity anyone who thwarts his political plans makes me want to turn the show off and not continue after Season Two's opening ep.  Which I did.  This is not some gangster who grew up on the mean streets.  This is a highly accomplished man who went to the best schools, has walked the halls of power with seeming grace and distinction for decades, and has attracted men and women of power and distinction to his causes.  Sure, there's the religious fanatics who do the same things to weak-willed people  And yeah, I know that a higher education doesn't guarantee that someone won't grow up sick and twisted.  But Frank Underwood isn't a kid.  If he had these tendencies, he's always had these tendencies and they would have manifested before this. 

    When HoC came out I was entranced.  It almost lost me when Underwood talked directly to the camera while he was putting the dog hit by a car out of its misery, but I got used to it and grew to, well not enjoy it, but at least accept it.  It's true to the British series on which it's based in that sense and it's okay to know Frank Underwood through his 4th Wall exchanges.  

    I loved the political machinations Underwood engaged in.  Loved his twisty mind.  Relished his and his wife, Claire's, played by the still stunning Robin Wright, self-serving conniving ways.  And of course, thoroughly enjoyed the Kate Mara character's relationship with Frank and their stumbling paths through the dark hallways of Washington with us eagerly following close behind.

    This was political thriller at its best at times.

    The Swedish series "Borgen" has a similar motif of peeking behind the walls of power at all the various machinations of government.  This is real drama in my mind - what better?  Power, sex, desperation ...all the things that Shakespeare wrote so eloquently about in the 15th and 16th centuries.  Ambition writ large on the tapestries of the power-hungry worlds that we have always inhabited and been fascinated by.

    And, for the first seven or so episodes, the storylines were purely that - naked ambitions.  Sex used as coin and as weapon.  Money.  Power thwarted and recast into even more powerful weapons of greed and hubris.  

    Doug Stamper (actor Michael Kelly) was creepy but he wasn't a murderer.  He made you disappear with a handful of cash and a veiled threat - as did most of the characters.  Kate Mara used her fine mind and even finer body to hook and reel in the men she wanted for her own gains.  Frank Underwood prodded and blackmailed to right the wrong he had been summarily handed in the first ep when he was passed over for VP.

    All good.  All fun in a dirty-little-secrets way.

    Then Underwood killed Peter.

    I balked at this but at least he did it almost apologetically.  He closed the garage door on a running car and oh no!  Peter passed away quietly.  I didn't love it, but I felt like the way it was done, there'd be lots of angst in Underwood's life.  It would haunt him - "out, damned spot!"  He'd come close to telling Claire but wouldn't quite make it.  Zoe would wonder why he couldn't finish his sexual act with her.  Stamper would begin to suspect and do misguided things to cover it up.  The secret would gnaw at Frank Underwood's soul, make his food tasteless, turn his wine into bitter vinegar.  I imagined Peter would haunt him.  Show up in window reflections, on TVs that had gone to test patterns, etc.

    Yeah.  Not so much.

    I'm a writer and I know decisions are made all time that people don't agree with in a script or a series.  One such would be the recent revelation in "The Good Wife" that they killed off a major character. Damnit!  But I digress.  I get that there's a vision forward and it involves making decisions that not everyone will embrace.

    So, onto Season Two.  Anticipating Frank Underwood walking the West Wing, twiddling with the country's temperament, ducking nosey reporters getting too close, betrayal on betrayal ahead and the guilt of the damned...oh, the joy and fun we'd have.

    And then Underwood pushes Zoe Barnes in front of a train in the first episode of Season Two and that was it for me.

    I am not following a fucking serial killer who is pretending to be interesting.  Interesting is turning the entire House around using threats and blackmail and a twisty mind - not murder.  And not by Frank Underwood. Especially since his actions over Season One and Season Two imply that he has no absolutely no conscience about this.  At all.  

    And that Frank would be so bloody stupid as to murder in potentially full view of anyone in that subway tunnel.  No.  Frank simply would not do that.  I will not tolerate his acting that stupidly and without regard.  This is not his way.  Any idiot can kill; how many can manipulate the way that Frank Underwood does?  Damned few.  And yet the series heads thought that this fascinating character should suddenly become a blatant, bald killer would make us embrace Frank's story even more?  A major miscalculation on their part, in my opinion.

    Look, Stamper's different.  He'd do it.  I could accept it from him.  But really?  The next vice-president of the United States, a man a heartbeat away from running this country, engages in the most crude form of control anyone can imagine?  Are we now watching the son of Satan, Damien, from "The Omen" in a reboot?

    What are we to assume?  That Frank's done this before?  That somehow this psychopath has managed to hide these proclivities for his entire career?  He must have done it if he did it with such equanimity before but I won't have it.  I won't invest time in a TV series that embraces the least common denominator and resorts to this crude form of murder to solve or enhance story lines.
    "Borgen" didn't do it and I remained stuck to that series.  The "West Wing" did political machinations brilliantly without a hint of violence.  "House of Cards" could have been sooooo good.  And yet, it isn't because it does the silliest thing I've seen in many years - make the VP of the United States a cold-blooded, serial murderer.  Yes, yes, I know, there are all these rumors about this politician and that and conspiracy theories as to how some people in Washington died but not Frank Underwood.  Not this amazingly crafted, well-acted role.  Why?  Why did the series producers have to go there?

    So, HoC, goodbye.  I won't be continuing on past S02E01.  It was grand while it lasted but the gorgeous blonde at the bar glimpsed at a distance turned out to be a hooker with bad plastic surgery up close.   This is "jumping the shark" right off the bat and for me, it's unrepairable.

    Maybe someday, some American TV show will do this kind of thing without resorting to the lure of the lowest baseness.  Maybe I'll even write it.  I'm actually a big fan of baseness but not this low and not in political dramas of this type.  Really, Hollywood, you can trust us to continue to follow a series without killing someone every ten episodes.  We all understand what it means not to achieve a goal and die inside.  That should be good enough for at least one television series. If you want a shining example of this watch the movie "Notes On A Scandal" or better yet "Borgen."  Only one death there and it was from a heart attack after sex (Yes!)

    Perhaps it was also the way that Underwood gloated about this murder that turned me off.  The implication is that he is anti-Christ in nature.  He challenges God in a church, then talks to the audience in such a way to imply that he is Devil incarnate.  In an episode of the brilliant "West Wing" President Bartlett (Martin Sheen) called out God in a church and even put a cigarette out on the sacred house's floor to show his disdain for the so-called order in the Universe that demands a good person be killed arbitrarily.  He was furious that God had taken a friend of his.  This was a powerful moment in the storyline but it didn't involve smarmy and gloating faces in a mirror telling us "welcome back."  Ugh.  Just thinking of that moment in HoC makes me shake my head.

    Death is fine; murder is okay if it's done with consequences - turning your central character into Dexter or Damien just doesn't serve anyone well at all.  The murderous rages that Frank Underwood engage in make this show like the ABC adult dramas like "Revenge" and "Scandal."  Good shows, well-executed certainly but melodrama levels below what I was hoping would be "House of Cards." 

    It all might be entertaining but it's also cheap, ugly and wholly disrespects the viewing audience.

    Two-time Emmy Award®-winning Director/Producer/Editor Allan Holzman (IMDB) has worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood (beside his) including:

    Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Roger Corman and James Horner, among others!

    He will be screening his award-winning film, C-C-Cut and talking about his upcoming book "Celluloid Wars" (sample chapter)

    His latest video used to honor legendary guitarist Todd Rundgren at the recent Gibson Les Paul Awards is embeded below or view on YouTube here!

    Allan is hot, hot, hot and we've got him one on one!!!

    Join on us for an up-close and personal brunch with Allan in Fountain Valley as he discusses his career, film tips, and the business of working in the Land of Holly and Wood - reserve your seat for brunch below.

    Seats limited so tickets at the door may not be possible.  RESERVE NOW!

    Choose status:


    WOW - a copy of Final Draft 8 will be given away to someone in attendance!

    Date: Saturday, 03.08.2014
    Times: 9:30am-1:30pm

    Location: Claim Jumper Restaurant Banquet Room
    18050 Brookhurst Street Fountain Valley CA 92708 714.963.6711 (map)

    Reservations recommended since seating is limited.

    Non-Student: 20:00

    Student:15.00 Valid Student I.D.'s checked at door.

    09:30am-10:00am - check-in
    10:00am-11:30am - Allan shows his film
    11:30am-1:15pm - lunch (included) and Q&A with Allan
    1:30pm end

    Note: Choose quantities of reservations at PayPal checkout. 

    (includes lunch, 1/2 sandwich and salad - choice of Turkey, Chicken or Tuna and coffee/beverage service)
    Order taken at banquet room.  Veggie option available.


    killer womenShe's sexy, sassy, and kicks ass.  What's not to like?  And in the case of Tricia Helfer, there is absolutely nothing not to like.  She's all of those things and a bag of chips.  

    Coming from her sexy/scary stint as a uber-hot Cyclon in "Battlestar Galactica" Helfer infuses this new series with a much needed edge.  Not the kind of edge like in "The Shield" or even "Prison Break" but an all-over edge that gives you a reason to come back because she is writ large on the small screen in all manners and her presence is about all that elevates the somewhat-tired storylines.

    Premise:  Here's a cop who goes after criminals - female criminals.  Focus on the X-chromosome segment of the bad-guys, uh, girl population.  Throw in the physically believable, and acting capable Helfer, a taste of sexism in the cop ranks that she has to deal with, a bit of secret spousal abuse (sorta unbelievable,) promote as (another very attractive woman) Sofia Vergara's ("Modern Family") production company (based on an Argentine series) and mix.

    The first ep shows another hot woman (getting the focus here?) in a red dress walking to a church (to the wonderful Mavericks "Come Unto Me") who then enters and shoots the bride, blowing her brains all over her groom.  Good opening.  Goes nowhere.  Cartels, chase scenes, kidnappings in Mexico...zzzzzzz.  All pretty standard fare, really.  Not that it's bad - it isn't.  It's just not as good as it could have been or could be.

    Some pilots roar, then sink; some gasp for air then get better as the show goes and some get canceled right after despite what they do.   Based on the weak showing, this show might not have a chance - it needed more of everything except music video segments.  I contrast this pilot with "Justified" starring Timothy Oliphant.  The character sucked you in, as did KW, but the storyline was much stronger 

    and the characters much more interesting.  It grew and grew.  It felt fresh initially because it dealt with a segment of the population we hadn't seen much of - rural mountain people - and a lawman who seemed to be a throwback to the gunslingers of old who talked slow and drew that pistol of his lightning fast  Unfortunately for KW, none of that uniqueness is apparent in the pilot.  Helfer's character isn't all that interesting yet and the bad guys/girls are magazine cutouts.

    A bright spot in the KW character firmament is Helfer's boss played by Alex Fernandez.  Although he's not introduced in any sort of proper manner, he makes an impression immediately.  Too bad they didn't focus on him and his relationship with Helfer a bit more.  It reminded me favorably of "The Bridge" and the Diane Kruger/Ted Levine relationship which saved that show when it fell upon TV tropes that went nowhere.

    Part of the problem here is that this is series TV in the modern era.  Producers no longer trust their audiences to stick around so some of the introductions are cut short, some not at all.  You're expected to jump aboard the throbbing music-video train and toe-tap your brain into accepting everything that's shown to you without establishing a relationship first.  The tap dance, however, is difficult to balance and when not balanced properly, it leads to confusion, lack of engagement and a sense that you're missing something.

    Helfer is magnificent.  Has always been.  She alone makes this show worth the investment in time.  And I really do believe that in the limited run this series has (8 episodes) it can and will find its beat and be better.

    In any case, I'm watching it and if it doesn't get better then at least I hope it won't get worse.

    "Killer Women" is on ABC on Tuesday nights.  It's good enough for you to check it out.


    LOS ANGELES - L.A.-based Torture Chamber Productions is currently in pre-production for the feature film titled "Feral."

    Written by Mark Sevi ("Pterodactyl" "Arachnid" "Devil's Knot",) the scifi-horror film follows a group of teens who were born carrying tendencies and differences in DNA that disenfranchise them, and which manifests suddenly in physical and mentally disturbing ways.
    Uber-violent with deep themes of alienation and the fundamental nature of violence, the film marks a collaboration between a "dream team" production group who were gathered from professional backgrounds in graphic novels, comics, horror films and photography.
    "Feral" will be directed by cinematographer Ryan Amendt. This will be his first feature film as a director although Amendt has worked on many productions in other capacities. It will be produced by Mark Sevi, Victor Phan, Ryan Amendt, Jeff Blaxland, and Rudy Garcia as an independent feature for SyFy Channel and/or A&E.
    The script is currently undergoing pre-production revisions. Preliminary storyboards, promotional materials, and budgets are being developed for potential investors. Production is expected to begin in 2014 with locations on and around in Orange County, California.  Visit the Facebook page ( and website ( for more information on the
    background, production, and press and investor packages.
    About Torture Chamber Productions:
    The production company was founded in 2006 by Victor Phan, Ryan Amendt and Clark Jones
    in Fullerton, CA. They produce horror films and thrillers while also creating graphic novels
    for its clients. 
    Download this release in PDF: HERE

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