Been down this road before

Seeking out the right road to a workable outline

It’s been a busy past couple of days, including lots of work on that other thing I’ll reveal next week, as well as more work on the rewrite.

Good news on the latter – hit the end of Act Two today.  Looking at the previous draft, Act Three needs to be severely streamlined. Way too much going on.  I don’t think it’ll be too hard.

I’ve been making a point of trying to make sure everything ties together. Seems to be working so far.

*side note – didn’t get to the movies at all this week, due to all the above-mentioned work.  Still hoping to catch X-MEN, SUPER 8 and GREEN LANTERN in theatres before it’s too late.*

I don’t know how much I’ll get done over the next week, since we’ll be visiting K’s family back East (as well as reclaiming custody of the two-weeks-absent Ms V).  I always bring my notes and notebook in an attempt to work on the plane.  Sometimes it’s productive.  Hoping that’s the case this time.

As long as I have an outline I’m happy with by the time we return.

Movie of the Moment – TRUE GRIT. I knew there was another Best Picture nominee I wanted to see.  This was it.  And it should have won. Hands down.

I loved it, despite being a sucker for a quality Western.  Phenomenal writing by the Coen Brothers. Excellent acting by all three leads, especially Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld.  I saw the John Wayne version years ago.  This is just so much better.  Easily re-watchable.

Man at work

This script ain't gonna build itself...

I’ve been pretty busy the past few days. Unfortunately, not with the rewrite.

There’ve been other tasks occupying my time, so while my brain works on figuring out story and scene details, the rest of me is taking on a few new responsibilities.

I can’t go into too much detail now, but will say they each involve getting paid for utilizing skills I’ve been honing for years.  I’ll spill more info at a later date, but that’s all I’m currently willing to say.

I was concerned that devoting time to something other than working on scripts would be a bad thing, but it may not be. Sometimes I’ll set aside a few hours in the afternoon with the intention of focusing exclusively on, say, getting to the end of the first act.  And as any writer will tell you, you can’t force creativity.  So maybe I don’t get as much done as I had hoped, but at least it’s something.

As long as I keep my notebook handy, or take a break from ‘regular work’ and give myself a few minutes to try and figure my way out of a scene, I’ll be fine.  I’m not in a rush, and this way I’m not pressuring myself to move forward.

And if these new developments take up more time than I anticipate, that’s what lunch breaks are for.

-Movie of the Moment – BEHIND THE BURLY Q, a documentary about the heyday of burlesque, as told by the people who worked in it. Written and directed by Leslie Zemeckis (wife of noted director Robert, who exec produced), this is a fascinating look at a truly unique form of showbiz.

A majority of the people interviewed are the dancers/strippers, now all advanced in years.  Each has a story of how she got into the business; some funny, most tragic. And hearing their tales of life in the trenches will definitely hold your attention (as will the plentiful footage and photos of barely-dressed beauties).

This is the kind of film that needs to be watched with a good stiff drink and the lights off.

Twice as much

I think I'll go....that way

O happy day.

I got to the end of the 3rd quarter of Act Two today, and it’s about twice as long as it was before. For now, that’s good.  It may be edited down when I start doing pages, but I don’t mind.

I wasn’t aiming to do as much, but I’d rather have more to work with than not enough.

I’m workin’ hard at keeping the excitement level up and the pace fast. So far, so good.  Looks like my notebook will get a good workout en route to seeing K’s family next week.  It would be nice to have a solid outline ready to go in the near future.

-Movie of the Moment – Another threesome.  ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, which I was kind of disappointed with.  It moved SO SLOW!  Lots of shots that just went on forever.  2 hours, 45 minutes; could have been at least 30 minutes shorter.  A clever story though, and a great turn by Henry Fonda as the bad guy.  I wonder if this was one of the first Westerns to portray the dirty realism that was the Old West.  Overall, I like Eastwood’s Man With No Name series better.

SONS OF THE DESERT. I’ve never been a big fan of Laurel and Hardy, but I can appreciate them. In the end, I like the Stooges and Marx Brothers better. So shoot me.  This is supposed to be one of their best. I found it…okay.

THE STORY OF G.I. JOE.  Story of a unit in WWII Italy, with Burgess Meredith as famed war journalist Ernie Pyle. Pretty routine, but otherwise nothing special. I guess after you’ve seen SAVING PRIVATE RYAN and other modern WWII films, everything from mid-20th-century seems sanitized.

A nice breather

With V out of town, K and I have had more opportunities to do stuff that we like to do, which includes getting outside and being active, or in this case, going to a museum.

There was an exhibit at the Palace of the Legion of Honor featuring works by Isabelle de Borchgrave, a Belgian artist who would recreate an outfit from a painting in the medium of paper.  Literally.  The entire thing was made out of paper, but done in such a way that unless you knew it was paper, you would have to peer in very close to tell the difference.

K had heard high praise for the exhibit, and this was the last weekend for it, so we went.  It was amazing.

But this isn’t a review of the work.  After we left the building and were heading back to the car, we stopped to take in the gorgeous view of the area west of the Golden Gate.  It was also amazing.

My point for all of this is that instead of staying cooped up inside and plotting out the next sequence, or whether or not a particular scene works, I allowed myself the chance to step away from the outline and go and do something enjoyable.

Yes, I probably could have gotten to a desired point in the script, but at the cost of spending time with my sweetie and letting myself relax and broaden my cultural view.  Every writer should allow themselves the luxury of doing such a thing.  It really does help in the end, and on several levels at that.

Besides, I’ll be diving back into the outline tomorrow.

-Movie of the Moment: THE GREEN HORNET. Oh man, was this bad.  I like the old radio show, and have seen a handful of the 60s TV show, but this?  This was just lousy.

My biggest complaint is the lack of motivation for Seth Rogen/Britt Reid. What’s at stake?  What does he stand to lose?  For the most part, he’s really a passive protagonist; Kato does a lot more than he does.

As K succinctly put it, it’s like he becomes a masked vigilante because it seems cool.

And Rogen as a heroic lead is just a bad idea to begin with. I didn’t realize he and his partner Evan Goldberg had written the script, which reeked of lazy writing.  I’m probably one of the few people who didn’t think SUPERBAD was fantastic.

I’ll admit I laughed at a few of the jokes, but if you’re going to do a modern interpretation of a semi-obscure crimefighter from 50 or 60 years ago, you should start with an appreciation of the character and what he/she is all about, THEN work on adapting it to the present day.  This should have been more of a slick noir-type film, not a lame action-comedy.  I think George Clooney and Greg Kinnear were both considered for the lead about ten years ago.  They would have been so much better.  And the script would have been significantly better too.

A guy I used to work with thought this was a great movie.  My opinion of him has dropped slightly.

That’s more like it

My child is out of the house for the next two weeks, so I have a lot of free time during the day.

Today I went to a 10:20AM show of THOR.  One of the benefits of working morning drive – your day is done by the time everybody else’s is starting.

It was fun; not IRON MAN fun, but still sorta/kinda enjoyable. I’m not too familiar with the comic book. Just a very casual fan. I knew who the characters were, and that’s about it.  I did get the Don Blake joke; that was clever.

My main gripe was the storyline about how Thor could get his power back. I get that he had to learn humility, but how did dying accomplish that?  Or was it a lesson about the fragility of life?  I don’t know.

Unfortunately, this didn’t give me that “I can’t wait to see that again!” feeling.  Up next – probably X-MEN: FIRST CLASS.

After I got home, I jumped feet-first back into the rewrite.  And it felt great, despite not remembering where I had left off.  Turns out it was the 2nd quarter of Act Two. I consulted my notes and got to the midpoint.

While I like the immediacy of working with the laptop, most of this work has been handwritten.  I typed in what I had so far.

And I gotta say I really like how it’s coming along. Looks like my next challenge is firming up the 3rd quarter of Act Two.  But I did it before. I can do it again.

-Movie of the Moment: Last night we watched the first half of INDY IV. I was really disappointed when I saw it in the theatre.  It doesn’t seem as bad now, but is still somewhat of a letdown.

Tonight we’re watching part of John Carpenter’s THE THING. I haven’t seen this in years.  Despite the fake blood and overly-gooey special effects, it’s great at setting the feeling of helplessness, and in an isolated location to boot.

Too bad they don’t make scary movies like these anymore, with more emphasis on gradually scaring you rather than seeing what kind of crazy torture porn they can come up with.