The Orange County Screenwriters Association
    Be Inspired, Do Good Work

    Tuesday, 24 April 2012 09:22


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    DAY 1

    CinemaCon (whose motto is "The world goes to the movies, the movie world goes to Cinemacon") is the world's largest movie industry convention, and has been ongoing in Las Vegas for many years.  It is run by NATO, which is the North American Theatre Owners, so the attendance is in the thousands and from everywhere in the world. The distribution side of the movie business, which includes studio heads and producers, directors and stars, screenwriters and filmmakers, all come to Las Vegas every year and mingle with the Exhibitors who show films in towns across America and the world in their theatres.

    And there is a trade show so large it is probably bigger than 50% of the towns in America, featuring everything from the latest in digital technology, which is moving up to 48 frames and 60 frames per second, to popcorn poppers, soda companies, and anything and everything to do with movie theatres.
    And of course, being Las Vegas, the entire week is celebrated with top shelf everything. Studios put on huge events, attended by thousands, and all are fed fantastic food and offered wines, beers and alcohol from the entire planet. Everyone comes to CinemaCon, and many deals are made, meetings are forever ongoing, and the fun never stops. Today was Day 1, and it was spectacular.
    Paramount Pictures celebrated and kicked off its 100 year anniversary of becoming a studio at the annual movie industry convention in Las Vegas, CinemaCon.
    Paramount is the only movie studio actually still in Hollywood, and still at 5555 Melrose Avenue, and if you drive by you can see the famous Melrose Gate that was featured in many of their films. Paramount set a studio record last year with $5 billion in revenue, according to Rob Moore, of Paramount.
    At CinemaCon, it was a love fest, as the studio presented its product lineup for the year with 20-30 minute glimpses of what was coming. And Paramount has all winners, that is for sure and all will be huge at box office, that is how good they are.
    First, directer John Choo brought out "GI Joe- Retaliation," and what an epic this is! Scenes that will blow you away and a plot that was so original for such a tentpole movie were all there. Choo said he played with GI Joes as a child, and had so many times where he was saving the entire world, and this was an extension of that where he created a whole new word that needed to be saved
    And then the star, Duane "The Rock" Johnson appeared, set the crowd ablaze when Choo referred to him as Franchise Viagra, as he "brings everybody's game up, no matter what." Johnson was also given an award as Best Action star of the past decade.
    The Rock referred to himself as a Bamf, which you can guess what it stands for, and the film is just spectacular. Johnson shared how he grew up in Charlotte, NC, and how the first story that made an impression on him was Indy Jones, and he wanted to be Indy, so full of adventure, so everything, and he said he had an emotional connection to Indy Jones and in this film, his own dreams as an eight-year-old boy came to life and he made them even bigger than they were then.  
    A great line from the film was "The world ain't saving itself - we are." And my god wait till you see what is prepared in this film, It definitely will blow you away. And... the surprise was the appearance in the film of Bruce Willis!  As a teammate of the Rock! And he was at his best. 
    Chris Rock and Jeffery Katzenberg appeared and presented "Madagascar 3 - Europe's Most Wanted" and Chris Rock was hilarious in saying he was "pissed off about the Rock winning". Chris Rock did a piece on how great M3 is, and compared it to Spiderman, and every other "piece of garbage" he joked. 
    Let me assure you that Madagascar 3 was hilarious, with a great story of some animals trying to get out of Europe and take offs on everything from Steve McQueen to Casablanca to the best take-off on Rosa Klebb, of James Bond fame in "From Russia With Love."
    Katzenberg also presented, "The Guardian", a Christmas film in 3D, starring Sandman, St Nick, Easter bunny, Tooth Fairy and Jack Frost as the stars with voices by everyone from Alec Baldwin to Hugh Jackman. This one was so great it was unreal, a story of hope, and how it is stolen by the Bogeyman, and how it is restored by the rest of the gang,  and was a treasure.
    But when Tom Cruise cruised in and showed about 20 minutes of his Christmas time film, Oblivion", where he plays Jack Reacher, the psycho-action detective, the place blew apart. Cruise said in the book the character is 6'5", and though he wasn't that height, the director "thought I was the right guy to drive four cars and kick the shit out sasha baron cohenof the bad guys." 
    And drive he does, in a red SS, with better driving scenes that "Bullet" and any other car movie you can think of. This film may be the biggest of the year.
    But the absolute highlight was the appearance in full regalia of Sasha Baron Cohan, who took the audience by storm with hilarious jokes and remarks in character to his role in the film. This one I can't explain. It is over the top, it is outrageous, but it is perhaps the funniest film in history, and the dialogue and plot are so great, this guy is a genius! And there is not one PC line in the film and he offends everyone with such amazing dexterity that the entire audience laughed for half and hour before the move.
    In the film he plays an arab-type dictator who kills anyone around. Now that's a character arc to work with! In character, Cohan said, "Roger Ebert loved the film and gave it two thumbs up, and he pulled two thumbs up out of his pocket. And that was the tame portion of the show!
    Tomorrow brings several more studios. And the excitement continues. And the fun.
    Mark Sevi contributed to this report.
    Saturday, 21 April 2012 19:21

    The Pugilist Keeps Fighting

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    pugilistThe Pudgilist, a series that follows the events at a Mixed Martial Arts training gym, the owners and the fighters, that work hard towards personal and professional success, has gone into post-production. 

    It is a privilege to work with Victor Phan and everyone else involved in this project. One can sense right away that they are professionals of the highes caliber, with the ability to call on many people and necessary resources to make things happen, and happen the right way. 

    The content in editing shows great potential. It offers a peek behind the scenes at one of the fastest growing sports, the ups and down involved in their daily struggles. The story lines offer great impact on the viewer, and in the hands of Victor it's shaping up to be a guaranteed success. 

    Wednesday, 18 April 2012 09:56

    Dream Country

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    dream countryRobert Rollins Pictures (link) is announcing the production of Robert Rollins’ anthology feature film Dream Country.  

    Currently in active pre-production with a locked script,  location scouting and actor auditions being held in L.A., shooting the Dream Country interstitials brings to a close a long term goal.  Rollins said "I've been working on this for the past several years.  Finally going into production last week made me realize just how long I've been waiting to make this a reality.  We've opened the production offices and we're knee deep in the craziness of getting everything ready to roll cameras."  Rollins declined to elaborate on a specific date for principal photography but said it was going to be "Fallish 2012."  The company is awaiting approval of permits before it commits to a hard date.

    UPDATE:  Permits have been approved.  The date is set in October 2012 according to Rollins.

    Dream Country was born out of Robert’s love for Rod Serling’s classic television show The Twilight Zone.  Dream Country follows The Twilight Zone pattern by creating a framing device of using foot bridges that transport the viewer or journeyman from awake to asleep, from conscious to unconsciousness, from reality to fantasy, from past to present.

    Cross a bridge to enter a dream....  

    The mysterious and enigmatic Elias introduces the featurettes while standing on a bridge much the same way Rod Serling had done in The Twilight Zone.  

    The “dream country” itself is not presented as a tangible plane, but rather a metaphor, for strange circumstances that befall the protagonists, thus allowing unrelated stories depicting science fiction, paranormal, time travel, dystopian, or simply disturbing events; each featurette features a surprising plot twist or ends with some sort of message.

    Welcome to a land that Elias calls Dream Country...
    A place where it is always turning late in the year.  A land where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist… where noons go quickly,   dusks and twilights linger and midnights stay.  Remain as long as you like… or dare.  

    The trip home happens in the blink of an eye, though the journey may take considerably longer… in the Dream Country. 

    Thursday, 12 April 2012 20:51

    Phenom Film Fest 2012

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    We are not endorsing this film festival - just passing on info we received from them - always be cautious with your intellectual property.  Mark

    SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY, LA – Phenom Film Fest announces the launch of their First Annual International Film Festival and the open call for film entries, for the 2012 season. 

    The Phenom Film Fest (PFF) was created to offer exposure and advance public interest in independent films without distribution, that might never be seen by the general public and to showcase the local region of Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana as a major film center for its' filmmaking resources and talent. We strive to support the spirit of independent filmmaking on a local, national and international level in all genres of film to include Drama, Comedy, Documentaries, Animated, Horror, Sci-fi, Fantasy, GLBT, Action/Adventure and their related subgenres.

    The festival will be held in the Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana area from Sept. 6 - 9, at various venues around town. PFF will be joining the Bossier Arts Council sponsored Digital Arts Festival and Career Fair in creating an incredible multimedia and interactive experience for filmmakers and fans.

    No stranger to filmmaking, the region has experienced a major boom in recent years, with numerous studios calling the region home. Since Louisiana offers one of the top tax incentive programs for filmmaking nationwide, it's no wonder it's been referred to as "Hollywood South."

    While major film studios have used the locale to serve as the backdrop for numerous cities and countries worldwide, the Phenom Film Fest serves to draw interest, support and attention to independent filmmaking locally and internationally. The festival will show roughly 40-60 features and shorts while showcasing fun, interactive and innovative talk panels. Juried Awards will given in categories from Best Picture to Audience Awards.

     In support of the filmmakers, PFF is waiving the entry free for Student and LA Filmmaker Shorts through the Earlybird Deadline of April 7, 2012, as well as waiving the entry fees for the festival's unique screenplay and short film competition, One Vision, Three Stories. Visit for entry rules and information.

    Tuesday, 10 April 2012 14:00

    Corman's World - Ode to the Cor-MAN !

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    young cormanFor those of you who do not know who Roger Corman is and are vivid fans of monster movies, action sci-fi and all around pop-corn entertainment, I have three words: Shame on you! He has been the producer that has launched a million careers and continues to do so at the ripe age of 86!

    This documentary is way more interesting that I thought it would be and although it barely reached the theaters (like many of Corman’s productions these days) I got it through my Netflix cue. This movie also hits home for me right now because I’m involved in my first production as a writer/producer and the story still rings true today on all the crazy things you have to do to get a movie done.

    Any kind of movie.

    Roger Corman like many producers started out as an actor and of course wasn’t that good but somehow he was fun, charming and a great talker and he managed to get people to do crazy stuff, so he got some money together got a movie crew and did his first monster movie. He sold it to a small outfit that rented movies to drive-in chains and the rest is history. Being crafty and not spending anything extra was one of Corman’s chief assets.

    One actor remembers that he was probably the only actor in history to have killed HIMSELF in a movie… TWO TIMES in the same film! Corman was the first person to give Jack Nicholson his first roles (and also refused to pay him $125 extra for script writing), as also Peter Fonda, William Shatner,Bruce Dern, Dennis Hopper and Robert De Niro. Directors he gave them their first reel were: Francis Ford Coppola, Peter Bogdonovich , Martin Scorsese, Jonathan Demme, as  also Ron Howard and James Cameron. If you look at most people of who’s who in Hollywood many are graduates of the Corman University of filmmaking, where it’s alma matter is: Dirty, Fast and save the monster suit for the next movie!

    In the early 1950’s monster movies were bad, cheap and genre no reputable studio would touch. They had the most horrible stories, actors and props ever used but they were fun and entertaining and put the scares where teens loved them. And this audience of young people were at the core of Corman’s legions of fans. They didn’t care if the main character’s arc was not that great or that the monster/creature or thing from outer space had a reason to attack the people in the story. They just wanted some fun or a reason to make out with their girlfriends at the drive-in.

    Specials effects? What’s that?... Realistic creatures? Go read a science book!... Corman movies were the product of mad genius of a producer who just needed a new movie EVERY WEEK for the kids at the drive in.

    During an interview with one the early monster creators, he mentioned that him and Corman made a movie in 3 days! And that included all the creature creation!… Of course it was the cheesiest thing you can find this side of a Wisconsin farm. The monster was a disguised lamp shade with some bad tentacles attached to it and it floated around (with fish wire) and attacked people in the face (now you know were the FACE SUCKERS form Aliens REALLY came from!)… Everything thing was done to make a buck and entertain if possible… Art? If you wanted that go to a museum. Corman had a rule, if it moves it had to be crashed, and when it crashed it had to explode! Throw some nice breast in the air and you got yourself a teen hit! 

    Roger Corman has made over 600 movies and says he never lost a dime on any of them. Of course when your budgets are less than a used car and your audience didn’t really care about content you have a gold mine.

    One of the interesting points of the movie is when “big studio” Hollywood understands the genre of teen/ action thrillers that Corman was after and starts doing it with incredible budgets. JAWS was the first salvo in that war, a very “Cormanesk” concept.. A Shark eating people… But throw in some heavy weight money and acting, then you have a fun movie. When STAR WARS came out, Corman new the game was over. Hollywood had discovered action sci-fi and was throwing the “money hose” at it. He knew he couldn’t compete with them anymore, so as an eternal survivor, he jumped into the exploitation genre that was being ignored by the major studios and made over 30 films in the Philippines, from CAGED HEAT to CRAZY JUNGLE WOMEN ON FIRE (yeah that’s a real title) and those crazy PAM GRIER guerilla in the jungle movies, If it had breasts, guns and explosions Corman was the man!

    The movie business right now is going through one of it’s many re-inventions. The bad economy has made it a proving ground for mini and micro budget movies that with some interesting content are making their way out to audiences. Of course they will never see a theater but DVDs and the internet are growing markets that voraciously needs content every day. There is a thirst for movies like always. If not look at the corner REDBOX every week,  after only ONE O.K. studio movie is there you see TONS of B movies available for rent… Why? because nobody is making anything else! And Kids want to be entertained or have an excuse to invite their little girlfriends over. People will be people and there will always be a market for your movie, remember don’t worry if your first movie is bad, you can always make a better one the next time… Just follow this one golden rule: NEVER LOOSE YOUR INVESTORS MONEY and you’ll have a long happy run.

    You don’t believe me? Here’s a little trivia question… Who directed the SHLOCK FEST of a movie called PIRANHA 2 ???... Anyone? Anyone?... It was James Cameron, and he’s not doing so bad these days.

    Monday, 09 April 2012 09:51

    The Prey

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    the preyThis post is a bit more personal than usual because it involves people that have helped shape this organization and perservered when others have lost interest.

    There's no doubt that the best part of starting the OC Screenwriters is when members meet, pull together their resources, and create something wonderful.  This has happened several times already and the latest iteration of this concept of networking is the group behind "The Prey."  

    They've made me a part of this insanely ambitious project and it's truly a thrill to be again working with Rudy Garcia, Eric Hensman, his brother Matt (and super-neice Scarlett,) Itai Levin, and soon-to-be mega-producer Victor Phan.

    With a script written by Gustavo Sainz and contributions from various other OCSWA members, there is no doubt that the film will be fantastic.

    Locations have been scouted, models created, a recent investors' meeting drew in some much-needed capital, and the core production team has been assembled for a scheduled late-spring, early summer shoot. 

    If you've met any of these men and women at our meetings you'll understand why I feel lucky to be associated with them.  They're talented, super-ambitious (in a good way) and generous of spirit.  I could see this team going on to many more successful ventures.

    It starts for this team with "The Prey" - where it ends is still to be determined but it's along a bright, shining road filled with challenges but also with the confidence of their capabilities to overcome and thrive.

    Best of luck moving forward, dudes.  Thanks for making me a part of something grand.


    Thursday, 05 April 2012 11:17


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    Even though I wasn't bowled over by "Lilyhammer" there are reasons to give it high marks:

    • - It's funky and weird and different enough that you don't see the same pre-fabbed faces and content that you'd normally see in network TV.   
    • - It stars one of the most unlikely "pretty faces" in the biz - the eternally-scowling Steven Van Zandt.
    • -  It's a true breakthrough show.  Its original episodes are available all at once, as people who stream a lot of content on Netflix are likely to watch.  I myself do entire TV seasons in a few days sometimes (especially when, as in the case of "Southland" those seasons are only six episodes long.)
    • -  I've never seen an "American" series set entirely in another country.
    • -  The show reminds me (a bit) of a not-as-well-written "Northern Exposure."

    Steven Van Zandt is a multi-talented, multi-discipline musician whose turn as mob consigliere and strip club owner Silvio Dante in "The Spranos" showed yet another side of him as his character navigated the dangeoous and surreal New Jersey mob world.  On that basis (I guess) he was hired to play wiseguy-turned-informant Frank "The Fixer" Tagliano who is witness-relocated to the Norwegian town of Lillehammer.  Yes, an odd choice explained by his love of the city when he saw it on the 1994 Winter Olympics - whatever.  He's told to behave himself and that iflilyhammer he gets in trouble with the law he's on his own.

    Frank quickly uses his New York attitude to stir things up when he bribes, blackmails, roughs up, and cheats just about everyone he comes in contact with to get what he wants.  And yet, his sense of fair-play is firmly in place as dispenses (mild) street justice to the people in which he contacts.  You can take the boy out of the mob but...forgettabouit.

    "Lilyhammer" is terribly uneven -some good and fun stuff interspered with some truly awful stuff.  Sometimes it seems like everyone is doing a bad skit from "Saturday Night Live."  But at times, Van Zandt makes it work and his situation doesn't seem so truly unbelievable as a fish out of water.  He's surrounded by actors who show potential - if they're given just a little bit better material to work with.

    In the spirit of giving this breakthrough dramedy a fighting change and since Netflix is directly able to track the metrics of people watching it, I'm going to finish the rest of the season.  Not even "Cheers" or "Seinfeld" was brilliant all at once and, as stated, this has potential.

    The entire Season One of "Lilyhammer" is available on Netflix streaming.

    And that's amazing!

    Saturday, 31 March 2012 11:19

    Billy Wilder's Tips For Writers

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    Billy Wilder's Tips For Writers

    It was 10 years ago (March 27, 2002) that the world lost Billy Wilder. Some of his wisdom from Cameron Crowe's book, Conversations With Wilder start with his Tips for Writers.

    1. The audience is fickle.
    2. Grab ‘em by the throat and never let ‘em go.
    3. Develop a clean line of action for your leading character.
    4. Know where you’re going.
    5. The more subtle and elegant you are in hiding your plot points, the better you are as a writer.
    6. If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is in the first act.
    7. A tip from Lubitsch: Let the audience add up two plus two. They’ll love you forever.
    8. In doing voice-overs, be careful not to describe what the audience already sees. Add to what they’re seeing.
    9. The event that occurs at the second act curtain triggers the end of the movie.
    10. The third act must build, build, build in tempo and action until the last event, and then -- that’s it. Don’t hang around.

    Editors note: I really shouldn't have to list Wilder's film because any student of film should know them but here's a few just in case:

    Some Like it Hot
    Double Indemnity
    Seven Year Itch
    Stalag 17
    The Apartment
    Sunset Blvd.

    Friday, 30 March 2012 12:24

    On The Town - Santa Anita Park

    Written by


    cartoonAnd they were off!

    On Christmas Day, 1934, Santa Anita Park Racetrack opened its gates and it was love at first sight between Santa Anita and Hollywood. 

    Hollywood royalty was not only in attendance, but one of Hollywood’s most prolific movie producers, Hal Roach, who started producing film in 1915, and lived till the age of 101 as a working producer, who brought comedy to America with Harold Lloyd, Our Gang, Laurel and Hardy, Will Rogers, and so many more, was the money man behind the park.

    Roach was so prolific, as Hal Roach Studios was producing 1500 hours of television shows per year by 1951, which was three times the number of films made in Hollywood, and he created so many of television’s greatest, was the first to create syndication. So many new works and manner of production were originated at Hal Roach Studios, it’s no wonder he drew on all the creative people in Hollywood to help with the park.

    And help they did.

    Bing Crosby, Joe E. Brown, Al Jolson, and Harry Warner were major stockholders and board members.


    Hal Roach

    Santa Anita Park’s box holders in its early days included such luminaries as director/writer Frank Capra, actors like Fred Astaire and Jack Benny, and studio moguls Walt Disney and Cecil B. de Mille.

    Santa Anita was the place to hang out, and still is, for if you pay a visit, you may encounter the ghosts of such fans as Astair, Clark Gable, Errol Flynn, Charlie Chaplin, Betty Grable, Lana Turner, Edgar Bergen, Jane Russell, Cary Grant, Ester Williams,and even Marilyn Monroe, who enjoyed off days and weekends at the Park as regulars, as well as just about every star and supporting actor that worked in Hollywood, including screenwriters Arthur Miller and William Faulkner and John Steinbeck. 

    Bing Crosby, Spencer Tracy, Errol Flynn, Alex Trebek, and MGM mogul, Louis B. Mayer, have fred astairowned horses that raced at the park.

    Movies filmed there included “A Day at the Races”, the Marx Brothers classic, and the Marx Brothers jumped on horses, ran into the stands, and set the whole park on its end with hilarity.

    Other films included “The Story of Seabiscuit,” with Shirley Temple.

    It was the home of the stars, and if the public wanted stars, all they had to do was buy a Clubhouse ticket and mix with the biggest names ever in film history at Santa Anita, all for just a $2 bet.

    And Roach, and his partner who ran the park for him, also had the park be the first to introduce the starting gate and photo finishes for every race, which became de rigeur in horse racing throughout the world. Roach said, “Movies are our business, we are using our trade to bring truth to the race.” Photo finishes became the standard of every track, as so much money was spent at race tracks, the rebroadcast of photo finishes is almost as popular as the race itself.

    And it wasn’t only film royalty that inhabited the park. Seabiscuit, America’s great horse of the late 1930’s and early 1940’s, raced there often and was a huge prize winner and caught the fancy of the American dream. Of course a film was made of Seabiscuit, and there is a statue of the horse on a show green, where all horses parade around before the races begin each day seabiscuit statuein his honor. 

    But while the park has been a favorite spot and watering hole for many years for Hollywood, it also had a dark side.  During World War II years 1942-1944, the park was used as an internment camp for Japanese-Americans and had 17,000 living in horse stables, including a young George Takei, the actor most famous as Lt. Sulu who helmed the USS Enterprise in the television and film series of “Star Trek.” A plaque commemorates the events of those years, and there is a display of photos from the site.

    santa anita Santa Anita’s close proximity to Hollywood, and its gorgeous location at the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, has made it a backdrop for too many films, television series, commercials, and photo shoots to count.

    But as you walk the ground, you will encounter statues of America’s greatest jockeys, including Johnny Longden, Willie Shoemaker, George Woolf, and LaffitPincay, Jr., all who appeared in so many films as jockeys.

    In addition to a lifesize bronze of Seabiscuit in the walking ring at Seabiscuit Court there is also one of John Henry, America’s favorite till he retired in 2009.

    seabiscuitAnd Trevor Denman, the voice of the track since the 1980’s.and whose now-famous voice has been used in many films and television shows, is instantly recognizable when he calls the gathering to attention and calls the race. 

    Even today, you will still be greeted by 90 year-old Paddock Guard, John Shear, who has been on the job since 1938!

    And you may see anyone from Leonardo DiCaprio to George Clooney to Tony Bennett to Mel Brooks, as the love affair continues between Hollywood and Santa Anita Park.

    Mark Sevi also contributed to this article.

    blood in blood out"Blood In, Blood Out,",  the Disney company's first R-rated film under the Hollywood Pictures banner, is screening on Wednesday night, March 28, 2012, at 7:30 PM, at the Regency South Coast Village Theatre.

    The film is a story worthy of "The Godfather", from a Mexican point of view, and centered on the creation of the Mexican Mafia in prisons in the 1970's and 80's. But it was far more than that.

    Directed by Taylor Hackford, "Blood In, Blood Out," is a great crime drama that follows the intertwining lives of the three Chicano relatives, Miklo (Damien Chapa), Paco(Benjamin Bratt) and Cruz (Jesse Borrego) from 1972 to the mid 1980s.

    The film starts out with them as members of a street gang called Vatos Locos of East Los Angeles, and as dramatic incidents occur, their lives and friendships are forever changed. 

    "Blood In, Blood Out," was filmed throughout the Spanish-speaking areas of Los Angeles and inside California's San Quentin Prison. Disney later changed the name to "Bound by Honor", when the film attrracted such widespread attention and crowds that caused uproars in theatres and cheered for the jailed criminals that they felt the name, "Blood In, Blood Out", was too violent for a Disney brand. 

    The story is till this day, considered a coming of age story for many young latinos, and the film is watched as often as "The Godfather" is in Italian households and held in the same reverence. I am surprised that no one has picked up on this and written a good pilot for a series based on this film, or events close to it. 

    But judge for yourself. If you like action and great story, this is one hell of a picture. it will always be on my Top Ten list, because you become endeared so greatly to the characters, in spite of all their weaknesses and sins.

    Benjamin Bratt of course is known for many roles, in feature films and television shows, incdluding being an original on "Law and Order."

    Jesse Borrego has kept working in film and television since his first break on television in the original, "Fame" show.

    But Damien Chappa is the most to be admired. he realized that in Hollywood one had to wait upon the powers that be, and he took things into his own hands, and formed his own production company and cranks out two to three features a year, and self-distributes in America and throughout the world. 

    "Blood In, Blood Out" is no "Shawshank Redemption", this is down and dirty and gritty as it gets, but that's what endears it and makes it so stunning. 

    Again, playing on classic Wednesday Night at the Regency South Coast Village, at 1561 W Sunflower Ave, (across from South Coast Plaza). Look it up,

    I only present this here because it's one of my favorites, and I love to share this film. It was the first with featured latin stars and a latin theme, and it was a huge hit at the box office and changed the way Hollywood looked at the latin market. 


    Tuesday, 27 March 2012 10:37

    Over The Rainbow? The Writers' Lament

    Written by

    crying man

    Pity The Poor Writer

    I've written under all circumstances for over twenty years - scripts, short stories, novels, industrial videos, blogs, articles, etc. Modestly speaking, I'm pretty good at it.  I know that because people pay me for that particular skill set.  

    Yep, lots to learn (emphasis on 'lots'") but let me make this point at the top - I study storytelling for a living. That's what I do.  So, I should know a little more about it than your nephew, girlfriend, stranger off the street, right?  Oh you agree?  Then why are you changing my story, characters, themes and plot based on their opinions?  In fact, why are we having this conversation at all? 

    You think I'm being a dilettante writer?  Fair enough.  Let's talk about that.

    Chill, Dude.  It's just Your Flipping Career

    Let's get the big points out of the way.  First, I do get that these are gray areas and that I am over-simplifying for the sake of making my point - it's called...writing - where have you been?

    With that out of the way, let me talk directly to all the so-called producers in the world.

    Dear Mr., Miss, Mrs., Ms, Other Species, Producer-Person,

    • Yes, I do understand that film is a collaborative process.  Do you?  Collaborate doesn't mean (or shouldn't mean) just do it my way.
    • No, I do not think that I know everything there is to know.  Do you?
    • Yes, you can make good points at times but when I say it won't work, you should respect that since I am "the expert" you hired to write your story.
    • Yes, I do respect you.  Why don't you respect me?
    • Oh, and I do get that there are many ways to be right.  Do you know how many ways there are to be wrong?  You should.  You live it every day.
    • No, I do not really want to shove my fist in your stupid face and kick your ass down the... ahem.  Nevermind.

    Would you go to a doctor and after he or she diagnoses your problem then suggest that you know better how to cut that cyst out of your neck?  How about a mechanic?  He says you need a new transmission, based on twenty-odd years of being a mechanic and actually having studied and understanding how a car works (do you?) - and you say "no, that's not the problem."   Computers?  iPhones?  Airplanes?  You gonna want to tell the tech who's designing, building or diagnosing that he or she is wrong or that in your opinion it should go this way or that?  Do people tell cops how best to chase a bad guy?  Firemen how to fight a fire?  

    Oh, you do think that it's okay to do that under certain circumstances?

    Great.  Here's my problem...

    Why did you hire them in the first place?  Next time just read a book, watch some YouTube videos and do it the hell yourself.

    I mean, even fitness coaches get more respect than most writers.  

    A Little Cheese with That Whine?

    This problem is most irritating when it comes to film because everyone thinks they can write or make a film.  They think that watching movies on Netflix, knowing some trivia about John Sayles films, or understanding that film noir came out of the German Expresssionist movement, makes them experts - or "good enough" to make a movie.  Siderant: Potentially the worst are MFAs (Masters of Fine Arts) who imagine that after a few semesters of film theory and film history, and some in-class writing, they can tell you how to write.  Pah!  Only writing makes you a good writer.   Get that?  Only writing makes you a good writer. 

    In music, you don't get to be a world-class musician unless you practice every day, for hours a day.  Sure, anyone can plink and plunk "Chopsticks" or play "Michael Row The Boat Ashore" on the guitar (or perhaps even the opening to "Stairway to Heaven") but it's those pros, those men and women who put in the bloody-finger-time, hours after  hours who are the true maestros.  If that's true of musicians, mechanics, techs, doctors and even fitness coaches why would anyone assume anything differently from a writer?

    Let's just take me, for example.  Tens of millions of words written in all forms of narrative.  I've watched thousands of movies, TV series, short films and broken down on paper at least 1,000 of those. I have them in my files here in my office.  I write, write about writing, and teach writing so I've studied film and writing from every angle I can find.  When I hear a song, I don't think "nice tune" I think "nice story" because I've even broken down the structure of well-written songs like a film.  If, as Malcolm Gladwell states in his book "The Outliers", it takes 10,000 hours to become "an expert" then I am an expert conservatively times two.  I live, eat, drink and breathe story.

    Can I be wrong?  Can I write a bad script?  Can I be so full of myself I don't see obvious problems in my work?  YES!  But here's the important part.  If you ask me to change something and I say it won't work and give you well-informed reasons then YOU SHOULD LISTEN!  You should listen because I am the expert - not you.  Saying, I'll know it when I read it or I know what I like is not reason enough to take what you're saying and change things.   You've had some success at making movies?  So have I or you wouldn't have called me in the first place!  

    Why don't you get that?

    Baby, Sweetie, Love Bug...

    The best producers I work with have strong, competent opinions about the work they do.  They have a vision, a way - they're not casual about their work or opinions.  They don't sit by the pool and "baby, sweetie" the world.  They're in their offices early, stay late and have no personal lives because they are as obsessed with their careers as I am with mine.

    And here's the most important part of what they do:  They listen to the people they hire; the experts.  They may ask and probe and suggest and contribute but they listen.  They know that story is not a simple thing.  If it was, every movie, every TV series, novel and short story would be a work of enduring genius.

    In Which I Excuse My Bad Behavior

    You wonder why writers are drunks or drug addicts?  It's because we've given up trying to make sense of arbitrary and idiotic notes, opinions and mindfarts that you think smell sweet because they came out of your brainhole.  We've gotten used to (read as: capitulated) being vetoed and our stories re-envisioned according to puerile sensibilities.  I mean, why fight it?  I might win that battle and lose the war being tagged as an unresponsive writer and not find work again.  It's a small world after all in the film community - hah, now you can't get that ditty out of your mind.  Would you like to know why?  I can tell you.  And I'm sure the writers of that song could have also because they STUDIED music.   

    I'm off-tangent.  Happens even to us "geniuses."  (kidding, I'm kidding - it never happens to us geniuses)

    Am I or any other writer Pope-like in our literary pronouncements?  No.  But we are right a great deal more than we are allowed by an industry populated by l'enfant terrible, idiot-savants who switch opinions about as fast as a child in a room filled with toys.  They have the focus of an ADHD dog ("SQUIRREL!") and yet they think that they know best and finally what your story should say.

    Sigh...where's that bottle of vodka?  Time for breakfast.

    I don't think I've seen a more salient argument for letting the experts do their thing than the brilliant Christopher Guest short that played during the Academy Awards.  Although it indicts focus groups as bad guys, look at "the man" behind the curtain as to the real reason why Hollywood is in so much trouble.

    Over the rainbow, indeed.  Let me buy you a ticket there - and the end of my foot.

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