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, April 18, 2010

Vampires, Demons, Actors and Ron Moore

A Warning, gentle readers. This blog is a real geek fest.

Year of Fun – Ron Moore

I hadn't planned on Ron Moore being part of the Year of Fun (quick recap for those new to the blog who ask every week -- Since I will be in the hospital for a large chunk of May, the month I usually celebrate my birthday, getting cancer treatment and I'm turning the big 5-0, I'm celebrating from Jan 2010 to New Year's Eve). Our meeting was about some serious business for Jon and I, but it involved a nifty Italian restaurant, some great food and conversation that was riveting and inspiring. Thus, how could I not count it? Incidentally, 'how could I not' is my mantra for the year. My muse, Kim, was using it. I felt it had a sort of joyful deviltry and left the world open to all sorts of possibilities. But I digress. The fun begins before Ron arrives with the bartender at this happening place. Of course, we waited at the bar. How could I not? Now, Jon and I maintain that we do not have an 'Industry Look.' We can't afford the clothes our friends who regularly work in the business have. I was, as I am as often as possible, partially clad in pajamas. Jon had on his Gundam themed leather jacket. Specifically, it has a symbol of the Duchy of Zeon. It's a really nice jacket gifted to Jon from a friend who was teaching English in Japan. I couldn't find anything like it online now. Meanwhile, I was wearing my State Alchemist pendant from Full Metal Alchemist. If anyone were to peg us for anything, I'm thinking it would be as big honking geeks. I had barely tasted my wine when the conversation shifted from Jon's jacket (the bartender thought Jon raced motorcycles because of the cut) to the film he had just found a sales agent for. He seemed to be talking to us as filmmaker to filmmaker though we hadn't said anything about why we were there. Maybe we have a look. When we went to a Showtime premier for Leap Years (of note because I've never sat in front of actors while looking at them doing a hot, naked love scene on a big screen), we had been concerned about being on the right list and explaining how we were invited by Michelle Hurd and Garret Dilahunt and how we knew them (Micehlle's sister, Denise Alessandria Hurd is a longtime friend whom we met when we cast her in The Privateers. She also starred in Demon Under Glass. They just waved us in on sight. And there have been events we've sort of crashed without ever being questioned. I guess we do have that look -- yeesh. I'm not sure that the bartender expected anything from us. He may have been excited about the next step in the selling process. At any rate, the film is called The Last Bad Neighborhood. It has two trailers. One with mainly live action and one that is a mix of live action and comic book panels. I know, weird coincidence that. I won't even get into how many ideas Jon and I have had over the years that sounded way out there until everyone else was doing them. It depresses me.

In the midst of a lovely Carpaccio and an excellent pizza Maguerita, we discussed the problem that prompted seeking his advice, but as these things happen, the topic of conversation shifted to Caprica. I won't put a spoiler alert here. We'd never ask him to reveal anything about the second half of the season, and he wouldn't have told us if we had the nerve. Jon and I have been fascinated by the structure of the episodes on Caprica. It's not structured like a regular dramatic series. And it's not really built like a serial. It seemed to us that each episode was structured like a mini feature film. The scenes happen and and the tension builds without regard to act breaks for commercials. It throws me off as a viewer because the rhythm is so different that things don't happen when I expect them to. We wondered if this was a decision made at the writing stage or was it something that happened on set and everyone ran with it. The BSG directors had been given a lot of leeway to explore, so we weren't sure. Turns out that it was a decision made at the writing stage. The show is a serial but they wanted it to have a different feel from something like a soap opera or even Galactica's feel.

While we didn't ask for specifics about how the writing was coming for next season, I found Ron to be a bit rueful. He said that there is what you think the show is about when the pilot is made, and then there is what the show turns out to be about once all of the elements are in play. I believe some of the cryptic attitude may be because of the fate of the show is up in the air. I'm sure being on the bubble of cancellation or not will impact how the next season is mapped out. He's also admitted to some changes in direction because of actors becoming something he hadn't anticipated. It seems they have another Helo on their hands. To his and his staff's credit, they don't fight a character that leaps to the forefront of the sotryline due to sheer force of personality. They work it into the main premise and still managed to keep the whole thing generally on course. It's a difficult path to walk. So you let a character run away with your show entirely and have another Fozie or, even worse, Urkel? I just found in looking for links that there is an Urkel Syndrome. Or do you squelch it and possibly miss an opportunity? Ron and company handled it well. I really loved Helo as a character and I thought it wise that he became the example of why humanity should survive – from sacrificing himself to save survivors of the Cylon attacks, to marrying a Cylon to refusing to let his shipmates sink to cold blooded mass murder. It was a good call especially since it was not one Ron expected to make. I must say that the actor is absolutely adorable and incorrigible in person. He just leapt off the screen. Ron's current breakout character is incredible. He is someone than you cannot help but look at even when he's standing still and saying nothing. He is sensual and lethal and tender and caring all at the same time. I have no idea what he's like in person, but I can't wait to see what his character will be doing in the second half of the season. Ron managed to tell us a lot and nothing at the same time – as always. And that was fine as always. I was glad to get to commend him for the wonderfully adult nature of Galactica and Caprica. I knew he was far more naughty than he seemed. As always, he gave me a lot of food for thought about his work and our own, and he fed me really lovely food. Our meeting was very much like the Salon we were a part of last summer with my literary friends. A most stellar addition to the Year of Fun.

Of Vampires, Actors and Demons

Our fans and the authors of the fiction based on Demon Under Glass have expressed many theories on why characters in the film and novel were drawn to Simon. The only thing we would tell them was that Simon was not like Dracula. He didn't have the ability to control minds. Had he that gift, there would have been a lot more carnage at Delphi, and his captivity would have been far less painful. I had a hard time explaining that his force of personality, his personal magnetism made him difficult to ignore or forget. In Simon's case, he had a way of making a person think about their most forbidden desires. In the case of buttoned up and jaded Detective Taylor who had seen the worst in men for so long that she only liked them between the sheets of a paperback novel, he awakened her lust. That made her angry and intensely curious. She needed to find him to answer the question of what he did to her and how to make it stop. In Bassett, it was a craving for the power that project could give him over those who sought to reign in his research. For Joe, it was a yearning to really live without the crutch of alcohol to set his desires free. Some of those desires are carnal and without a particular sexual orientation. Joe had had trysts with men in the past but always blamed them on alcohol. Simon actually made him think about such lusts cold sober. More on their interpersonal dynamic below.

But how to explain Simon's varied impact on different individuals? I realized during some conversations I was having last week with former and future cast, that Simon is very much like an actor. Not that I'm calling actors demons. Well, actually, I have called them that or worse during a shoot but that was only at hour 17 of a hard day when I'm calling my poor husband a lot worse. No worries about us, it's all forgotten by the wrap party...after several rounds of drinks. Where was I? Yes, actors by their nature and by necessity have to be compelling enough that people want to look at them and not forget them. Each individual actor has his or her own way of achieving that effect on those they meet be they fans or casting directors or producers. Even ones not blessed with great talent have that kind of effect on people (they just can't seem to do it in front of a camera). Some are aware of this aspect of their persona and some are not – or it seems that they are not. I know it has worked on me and on Jon. We've met actors while attending functions that made a personal impact. When a role comes up that we think they may be right for, we contact them, or if their headshots pop up while we're casting something, they get seen first. Sometimes, I try to include gratuitous nude scenes in my scripts because of their impact (Jon usually removes them). Yes, this week I was subjected to some incidental flirting by a couple of actors I'm currently working with. They make me think terrible, horrible things about them Some of those thoughts involve the 18 year old balsamic vinegar I was gifted this week. More on that amazingly decadent product in the food blog. And those thoughts are distracting. They'd better not be doing it on purpose or that spanking I'm playfully threatening will not be so playful. Where was I? Simon, right. We maintain that his attractiveness (personality wise) is an essential survival and hunting skill.

Thus, Joe is drawn to Simon for the same reason everyone that meets him is. But there is also a very strong personal chemistry between them that makes Joe unable to hurt Simon when he could have during the escape from Delphi. It's why Joe fought with Simon over his murders. He needed Simon to explain himself in a way that would explain Joe's intense attraction to him. Or why he can't bear the thought of Simon being destroyed at the experiments' end even though he is a deadly threat to society. Simon's motives towards Joe are less clear. It is a novelty for him to have a human know what he is can care about his well being – even to like him. The idea of having someone like that close to him is intriguing. He's keenly interested in playing that out to see where it could go. We also think he's interested in seeing if any human would willingly take on the life he's endured. And there is no doubt about Simon's unwillingness to give Joe up once he has him by his side. That will keep the doctor safe from Delphi but it also endangers anyone who attempts to get close to him. Jon and I were content to have this attraction and connection relegated to subtext. The actors decided to make it as close to text as they could get away with (at the time we shot Demon Under Glass, we believed it would air on basic cable). I wonder how far they would have pushed the dynamic if we hadn't had those constraints? We don't have those constraints with this series. To quote our vampire, We'll have some fun.

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