Free time? Pfffft.
This is Vegas, baby, and summertime fun means long hours in front of computer screens knocking out top-notch literature…amirite? (Cue: surf music). No? OK…maybe that’s just me.
The kids are out of school, which gives me just enough extra time to dabble in more projects… after the day job is set aside, the dishes are done, the clothes are washed, and the dog is brushed, and kids are fed, and the scorpions have been tucked into bed.
I’ve already discussed my part acting in the indie feature Lights Camera Action. Filming on that starts next week. Should be a lot of fun, there is some great talent on that shoot.
Now that I’ve had about a year, year-and-a-half to explore the world of film, I’m pulling back a bit closer to my roots as a writer and am writing for a few projects.
One that I’ve mentioned here (I think) is a four episode project out to a director in LA…not sure where his plans lie, but I’m in no rush. Maybe we’ll shoot that one in the Fall. Or not.
I have another project up in the air with a friend who is an experienced cinematographer here in town…he wants to film some shorts, music videos, etc. Enough to build a solid portfolio and move toward getting funding for a feature we have in mind. Should be fun, and great experience…I still have a lot to learn about cinematography, lenses, etc, but I think you can spend half a lifetime learning…it’s half science, half art.
The big project for this year is clearly going to be…drum roll…Unlocking Vegas. UV is a serial project started several years ago by another friend who has many years of behind-the-lens experience. As happens with a lot of projects, I’m finding, UV was started, cast, abandoned, re-started and re-written, re-cast, the first episode was shot, and it was again abandoned. As my friend and I discussed the project, it became pretty clear that the problem was the story. It was more a collection of unrelated scenes and uninteresting characters just kind of running around …doing things, and not really a coherent story, per se. It sounded like an interesting project, so I signed on. First job was to deconstruct the project and outlined the characters—their backgrounds, their wants and needs, their struggles. Really a lot of the exact same work you do for a novel. We came up with a good script for the first episode, and I’m beating out the next two over the next few weeks. We’ve held two casting sessions so far and have found some amazing people.
Over the next month, Scott Anderson, the director and co-producer, and I will work out the shots, lighting, blocking, breakdowns, props, locations…all of the seemingly infinite details that go into a shoot. It’s been a great learning experience so far, and I’m really looking forward to digging in.
It continues to be a strange year.
I’m sloooowwwwllyyy trudging my way through a really fun screenplay. It’s actually four (maybe five) mini-stories that will be kind of episodic. I miss novel and short story work, but screenplays are a lot of fun. You really have to think about storytelling differently.
And speaking of storytelling…I’ll be in a movie this year. Acting. Yeah…it’s been a strange year.
“WTF?”, you ask? It makes sense to me for a couple of reasons. My favorite creative work is hands-down long-form fiction. But ultimately, once you boil it down to basics, I love storytelling. Novels, shorts, ultra-shorts, movies, audio stories are all forms of storytelling; and acting and moviemaking are just two more aspects of that. You get to tell a story from deeper inside the narrative: from inside the head of one of the characters. I’ve done a couple of auditions and an acting workshop, and have enjoyed the process immensely. I can’t even describe how much I’m looking forward to this project.
Also…it’s a personal stretch thing. Acting, it turns out, is hard. Setting your mind into a mode where your body and face are in control, where you are planning your next words and actions without looking like you’re planning them, where you have to say and do things convincingly that may be in total opposition to how you, personally, would behave…that’s not easy. The people I’ve met in the Vegas filmmaking world are committed, hardworking, talented, and have a perspective on the world that you don’t get in a lot of circles. With few exceptions, these are people with day jobs (often two or three), who pursue acting/modeling gigs constantly, are perpetually rehearsing, auditioning, working, writing, filming, planning, and trying to find some kind of balance in their lives. Spending time with hard-working dreamers is one of the best things you can do, I think.
After this project, my goal is to 1. Help the director for whom I’m writing the short screenplays cast, film, and edit that project, and 2. Use this knowledge and experience to direct my own short film later this year. Possibly based on my first published story, “Billy Don’t Like Clowns.”
So…please, if you’re on Facebook, stop by the page for our little film—”Lights Camera Action“—and LIKE it. It’s a small, independent feature-length project directed by Will Jackson, and we can use all of the support we can get. I’ll share more details about the movie as we progress. Filming should start in mid-May, just after I get back from Bangkok (that’s a story for another day). Since we mostly all have jobs, it’s going to be a night-and-weekend thing, I suspect.
Also: there’s a poolside scene, which means I have about ten thousand situps to do between now and then.
Jesus…it’s already 2012.
2011 was…well, it was a ride. It had ups and downs. I met a great gal who I enjoy spending time with, took an amazing trip to Brazil. Spent some good time with family.
But, those positive things notwithstanding, on average, 2011 can still go eat a bag of softboiled dicks.
But, it’s over, and I can look forward to a better year.
Starting with writing (and…cough cough…blogging…cough).
I’ve really bee struggling with writing…that’s why I haven’t been blogging. Nothing to blog about from a writing perspective. If I open my WIP novel and re-read the same paragraph one more time, I’m going to lose my mind. For serious. I’ve shelved all of my active WIPs, and am focusing more on screenplays for now. It’s fun…truth be told, I think I enjoy novel-writing more as an art, but screenplays are fun as hell. It’s a completely different animal.
And it’s a kickstart…I need something to blast me out of the writing doldrums, and I think something this different and challenging is it.
I’m working through a treatment with a director right now…if we end up with a filmable thing, the plan is that he’ll come up to Vegas later this year and film it, and I’ll help with production and post-production. My goal, ultimately, is to learn enough about the craft to run my own production sometime in 2012. Big challenge, but it sounds like fun, yeah?
Yeah, something like that.