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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, January 04, 2009

Year End Wrap and Various Updates

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.

V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N (not in the summer sun)

This has been a fabulous vacation. We’ve had twelve days away from the day job and almost a week without the film-funding grind. We don’t have an entire day off tomorrow as we must visit the Blood Oath soundstage. It’s been great while it lasted. I’ve been as lazy as possible. Unfortunately, I still had to answer phones. However, I did get in a lot of cooking therapy, watched some fun films (more on that below) and had a glass or two (ha!) of lovely champagne (it was on sale). And saw most of my actor lovelies. One has yet to get his cookies. Since Jon is in the house, I’m not sure how long they’ll last. This year’s baking was not as orderly as last year. We had to do a second run of almost everything. And then, there is the insidiousness of The Food Network. All season long they had these specials with new and interesting recipes. This is especially vexing when an intriguing baked good comes up. Our line up is determined in September (serious business, I tell you). Still, I had long been searching for a really good, moist gingerbread. That danged Bobby Flay came up with one. I thought he grilled everything, for Pete’s sake. But it looked amazing, and I had a new half-sheet baking pan... Oh, my, it smelled wonderful as it baked. There was a lot of cinnamon and cloves and two kinds of ginger in the recipe. The taste has almost become an addiction for me. Thus, the stragglers benefit this year. I’m adding it to the repertoire for the next Christmas.

Not everything was wonderful. My back decided it was going to be out for vacation, and it wanted to take my legs with it. Fortunately, heat therapy and two wonderful massages set me right. I also slept more than I have in probably years. I’ve been having a lot of weird dreams about spies and cooking classes in Paris. It’s all been wonderful wallowing in blankets while the weather is actually nearly cold and often foggy. I can tell that the rest is helping. I’ve started writing prose in my head again. That is always a very good sign.

I digress, because I am distracted by the DVD I’m listening to. It’s The Bourne Identity again. I like watching this one because of all of the scenes in Paris. I’m especially fond of the scene in Gare du Nord. It’s not just about being in Paris. I’m also thinking a lot about my Mother. She’s part of the writing in my head and about one of the films we watched over the vacation. Such a grand, old, beautiful station would have amazed her. I was transfixed by the huge schedule board with destinations all over Europe. Mom would have been surprised at her shy daughter finding the right train among all of those destinations. We got our tickets and had a coffee and snack in French (Jon, too). All we would have been missing in her mind would have been trench coats. Maybe, next time. Additionally, as I’ve said before, every cab ride we’ve had in Paris was much like the big car chase in that film. Only New York cabbies are as nuts.

The Year in Review
Not the whole year, please. This is the overall view. Production stuff will be below. 2008 was far and away better than 2007. First off, we had personal stability that we lacked the year before. That does wonders for creativity and bravery. Without that stability, we would have never tried the things we tried creatively. We’ve made connections in a place that is very comfortable and convenient. We even have vicarious pets to interact with at home and at the day job. Our regular lives are good. Creatively, I have prose in my head that is terribly personal as well as continuations of on going stories and some erotica that pushes my boundaries (scary, huh?). Writing all of it is a very exciting thought. I hope I can find the time. Then again, I don’t know if I’d mind if we were too busy. It can wait until I’m lounging somewhere fabulous with scads of free time. As long as the stories are alive in my head, I’m happy.

I’ve had some singularly wonderful experiences this year. A couple will be detailed in the productions section. But one I have mentioned numerous times. Reading Sarah Freligh’s Sort of Gone was one of those rare experiences of being moved and intimidated and inspired. The book was one of last year’s highlights for me. I look forward to more from her. I have become quite a cook. I will never compete on The Next Food Network Star, but I have pushed myself to higher and high levels in 2008. I have a modest but well-stocked pantry and freezer. More importantly, I’ve been making good and healthy meals that even Mr. Bland Palette has enjoyed. I still don’t believe that any bread can have 12 grains (are there really 12 grains?). And if there are 12, wouldn’t that be like eating steel wool? But I digress. The cooking therapy has been really good for our bottom line and our waist-lines. Still, I have yet to conquer the baguette.

Production Wrap-up and Update
As I have said, we were free to be brave this year. Our company has always done well when we were aggressive. The Privateers didn’t result in what we had originally planned for the short, but, in a round about way, it got us our first feature. We had had enough of meetings after meetings by the beginning of 2008 to know we had to do something proactive. That lead to The Gunslinger short. That script has the most interest and was the easiest to film. We were lucky in so many ways with that short. The first bit of luck, was the remarkable cast we found. We had hired Travis Willingham to do a book trailer almost a year before the short. He had something that we knew would work for Shadow Smith. We were very fortunate that he liked the script enough to come along for the ride. And then, there was Jennifer Sparks. Our partner, Ralph, had literally just signed her as a client when she read for us. Aside from being tall and beautiful (The tall was important since she is impersonating Shadow Smith in the film. The beautiful was important because it is a romance film, after all), she nailed the part with only the lines from the audition – not the full script. My very persnickety director couldn’t think of any adjustments to her reading. We were blessed with a great pair who had amazing chemistry in person. But it’s more than just those elements that made the whole shoot a singular. Both the leads are up and coming very quickly in jobs that pay far more than we could. They gave up valuable audition or work hours to rehearse and the shoot was two very long and grueling days that was preceded by a long time on the road. We couldn’t pay them anywhere near what their time is worth, but they treated the shoot like it was a blockbuster film. We had their best efforts. They were magical. Beyond that, there was our two man crew of Ryan Corrigan and Matty Ferarro. They gave beyond their A game to shoot the short. They, too, have busy lives that net way more than we were paying. And we were stretching them beyond the pale. They never complained. They got it done. And I can’t say enough about the wonderful support of the Jacques family. They let us overrun their property and were gracious beyond belief. LA is full of burned out people who don’t do things for less than full rate. I understand and respect that. There are so many up and comers looking for free this or discount that. It must get old. But we are very grateful to have found such talented and generous people who are willing to take a chance because they liked our writing. They brought us the attention we needed. We hope we brought them some good karma. We believe we’ll be rewarded with the pleasure of working with them again – on a full budget project.

I must take a moment for a special thanks to Matty Ferarro. Aside from service above and beyond during The Gunslinger short, he has been extraordinary during the run up to the Blood Oath short. He has been endlessly available and affable and patient. While in character, he has always been focused and prepared. He is also a chameleon. In one morning, he went from a drunken, washed-up pop star, Billy Swain to the beautiful and head-strong Vincent Greven. He ate it all up, and was amazing to watch in both roles. We must give a special thanks to our make up guru, Cat Elrod for her work that day as well.

At this writing, all is on track to do two films this year. The downturn, thus far, has not affected the commitment. We should have a schedule in the next few weeks.

I had some year-end comments on the films we’ve seen, but I’m wiped. I’ll save them for later rants.

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