Welcome Gentle Readers

This blog tends to wander from its main purpose -- updates on my fiction. I do have updates and excerpts of my work. But I also write about my obsessions -- food, friends and pop culture and my weird life in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Heatwave, Schmoozing, Cookbooks and Film Favs

Warning: If you find yourself here via a google search for such things as TV shows or films, recipes or cities, this blog has some facts. However, this blog is one author’s very twisted musing on many weird things. It is sometimes graphic in content. If you read on, don’t write to yell at me.

Doppler-ganger Plus 3000
They’re at it again, the local weather guys. We’re on Heatwatch. That’s a new term all the stations here are using. I’m convinced that they felt left out of the lead-story coverage of their weather brethren in the mid-west. There are no floods here, so their hyberbolic coverage has turned to the heatwave. Since Southern California is essentially a desert, heat is not really news. Somehow they have elevated the need for hydration to a hysterical urgency. There is some seriousness in the coverage this weekend. We’re under a red flag warning here, and in Northern California, the fires have started. It’s still strange for me to live in a place where there is always a possibility that whole neighborhoods or a major interstate can be engulfed in flame. We don’t live in a fire zone, but you do learn to watch the brush while traveling in fire prone areas. It’s like having an earthquake kit and a Tsunami evacuation plan. It’s always there, but you don’t think about it. It is really hot out. Today we’re locked in the apartment with the air conditioner going and hopes that there won’t be a brown out.

The Art of Schmoozing

It is not a cliché in this business. It is fact that how far you get depends, in large part, on who you know. How you get to know people is as varied as the actors, writers and directors trying to make it out here. Clint Eastwood made his first big studio contacts working at a gas station owned by Don Donner, the brother of Jack Donner who played Dr. Bassett in Demon Under Glass. Don tells me that Clint wasn’t that great a gas jockey. He was always chatting up the studio folk. Don finally fired him. The next thing he knew, Clint was on Rawhide. Jon and I got an awful lot of contacts orking retail on the 3rd Street Promenade. Most of those we made there either worked with us or helped us get things made. And since they shop there, opportunities abound to talk to A-list everybodies while they transact their business. We never did that during our retail gigs for much the same reason Jon and I don’t chat up celebs at conventions. We want to be seen as equals, not clerks or fans (no offense to fans as we are fans, but it’s difficult to be taken seriously as a producer or director in that setting). Screenings are great places to make connections. The Marche du Film is the mutha of all schmooze fests. I have had conversations with heavy-duty financial backers over beer at a plastic patio table at the American Pavilion there that I could never meet under any other circumstances. I know this because I asked them if I could have called for an appointment from my home which was only a 15 minute drive. They said no. But being at the Market and the Festival gives access.

Schmoozing for us is like dating. We don’t just look for people with skills or money. We’ve learned that for a connection to work, we have to fit well together. It’s hard to work with someone who can’t be trusted or doesn’t respect your work. When we schmooze, we’re seeking an advocate who can lead us to either funding or to a major actor. Or we’re looking for the major actor. In either case, we have to win their confidence in our material, because we’re usually asking (begging and pleading) for them to either work on something unusual for their careers or to take way less money than usual. They have to be confident that we know what we’re doing and are willing to accept guidance and suggestions. It’s a tough line to walk for us. We know we don’t know nearly everything there is to know about this business. But we don’t want to get steamrolled into turning a film into something we can’t stand because we want an A-list whoever to be involved.

The meeting this week was a meet and greet with some high-powered types who have access to A-list actors we need for various projects. It went very well. First off, they are from New Jersey. East coast folks have a different way of looking at the business from native Angelinos. We were speaking the same language. That made the meeting a lot easier. There were some spirited debates over film styles, but we saw eye to eye where it counted. It looks like a good match. We’ll have access to a far larger pool of actors for the film that just got the distribution commitment, and it puts us in a position to go for some really big names for our dream projects. But that’s for after the two films in the queue. It left us excited about the possibilities. It also increased my anxiety, to be honest. We don’t know which film will get a full green light first, thus I have no idea what part of the country we’ll be in for months at a stretch. I can’t make any kind of plans for months, and these films will likely throw a monkey wrench into the trip to Paris. For a control-freak traveler, that’s not a good state to be in. I’ve found it difficult not to drive everyone crazy. Still, I understand the importance of the connection we’ve made. All of this consternation will be worth the results.

Soldier’s Update
I’m still waiting for ‘A Soldier’s Fate to turn up on amazon.com and other sites. Meanwhile, I think I’ve found a Rik Heron for the live-action pitch. No, I don’t have enough on my plate, why do you ask? :) We have been strongly encouraged to develop everything in our files as far as we can while there is a keen interest in the production company. I’m following orders. Anyway, he is gorgeous, though I haven’t heard his voice yet. That is a huge factor in who Rik Heron is. There must be toe curling every time he speaks. Also, I’ll be working on the cookbook today. I’m hoping to have it up online when the print book turns up.

But Why DO You Like That?
Warning: Possible spoilers for Iron Man, Battlestar Galactica and Eureka. Possible derision of Bones, House, Star Gate, Fantastic Four, and X-Men.

Sometimes, my friends get exasperated at my taste in film. Why do I like one kind of film or TV show and deride something that’s in the same genre. For example, I really liked Spiderman 1, 2 and 3. I adored Iron Man , yet I almost walked out of the first X-Men movie and the second was merely acceptable. I wouldn’t even look at Fantastic Four (Jessica Alba as a scientist, really). I watch two out of three CSIs but want nothing to do with Bones. I loved Scrubs for most of its run, but won’t go near ER or House. And I adore Galactica and Eureka but have no interest in the Star Gate franchise (though I really liked the film). There are reasons for all of these decisions and they are highly subjective and not meant to malign anyone else’s tastes.

Spandex costumes over hot bodies are not enough to make a good super hero film for me. Nor do I think one has to be a fan of the character to enjoy a good super hero film. I never liked Spiderman in the comics. I thought he was a whiner. I really wasn’t interested in seeing the first film, but it won me over. The character work and performances were extraordinary. The drama was so compelling that the action scenes were a relief from the trauma they caused. However, the best scene to illustrate what is really good character work is from Iron Man. The first scene in the film is of Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) and three US soldiers in a HUMVEE. The scene is less than five minutes long, but it establishes the characters so thoroughly and so cleanly that I cared more about them and their fate in that brief period than I did about the X-Men through two films. The scene was funny and touching and tragic in a very tiny window of time. The film built on that wonderful scene and resulted in an amazing film. Tony Stark even uttered a line from The Thin Man (Give me a scotch, I’m starving). How great is that?

As for the TV shows I watch or don’t watch, it’s the degree of character development for me. I can’t say that I dislike Star Gate: SG1 or Atlantis. There just isn’t enough to interest me. As for Bones, I don’t like Dave Boreanaz’s acting. I never have. And the show’s premise annoys me. I’ve followed the real-life bone-man and author, Kathy Reichs for years. I just don’t think they take her work seriously enough. It’s been TV-ized too much and it didn’t have to be, in my opinion. I’ve had more fun watching her on real-life documentaries than that show. As for House, that is a different story. I don’t watch medical dramas (too much Marcus Welby and Medical Center as a kid). I’ve never seen ER and never want to. However, my reason for not watching House is specifically Hugh Laurie. I adore him, but, for God’s Sake, he’s Bertie Wooster! How can I take that seriously? See the images to the left and right. I’ve included a pic of Jeeves (my Percival prototype as well).

Stay tuned! A major Book announcement to come!

No comments: