This train is picking up speed

What an incredibly appropriate image
What an incredibly appropriate image

My, but things seem to be happening all around me, and at quite a rapid pace at that.

-It took a lot less time than expected to complete the latest rewrite of the western, so the waiting-for-notes game begins once again. This draft is two pages longer than the previous one, but with a lot more character development in play.

As always, I’m distracting myself from worrying about it by working on the low-budget comedy. Churning out 2-3 pages a day is a pretty good objective. Slow, steady and all that.

Meanwhile, the hard part continues to be making sure the jokes are funny, or at least come across that way.

-Over the past few weeks, it feels like there are more and more announcements from friends and acquaintances about positive developments in their careers. While I can’t say the same has happened for myself (yet), it definitely feels like something big is coming. Potentially soon. Call it a gut feeling. I plan on holding onto that sensation for as long as possible.

In the meantime, I keep writing (and rewriting).

Tuesday’s interview with ScriptFest co-founder Signe Olynyk was, as expected, well-received. What I wasn’t expecting was that she would show her appreciation by setting up a special code for 20 percent off registration. The final cost minus one-fifth of itself. Very generous of her to offer up such an opportunity, wouldn’t you say?

Just enter the code MaximumZ20 at the checkout page, and watch the magic happen.

Even yours truly couldn’t resist and signed up. Yep. I’m going, and quite psyched about it, with the planning and strategy-building now underway. If you see me, feel free to say hi. I’ll be the tall guy in the glasses.

Any suggestions where a guy can grab some quality pie in Burbank?

-If you’re into film, TV, music and/or writing, and in the LA area, and are looking for an informative way to spend a Saturday afternoon, then I strongly suggest you check out the Three Cities Festival on May 23rd. Use the code TCFMAX to get 25 percent off the ticket price (which was pretty affordable to begin with, and this makes it that much more so). The number of available tickets is rapidly shrinking, so take advantage of this while you can.

-Hope you get lots of writing done this weekend, and Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there.

Back into the abyss!

Yoiks, and away!

Thank the movie gods for soccer practice.

While V is playing her heart out, I hunker down in the car, armed with pen, notebook and iPad, working diligently to make some kind of progress.

Seems to have paid off.

I wrapped up Act Three, including making a few small changes and some not-so-small ones.

Now the fun really begins – cranking out pages.

My schedule permitting, I’ll shoot for my usual 3-5 a day. We’ll see how it goes, but I’m guessing the back seat will be more suitable on soccer days for typing than the somewhat cramped front seat.

-I guess it’s an unwritten rule that if you do a Western, trains have to figure into it somehow.

My next script is about an engineer out for justice and revenge. This guy wrote a Western involving a train with a supernatural angle.

And of course there’s this.

And next summer, we’ll get this.

I’m not complaining. There’s just something cool and fascinating about trains. Want proof? Watch this. Granted, not a Western, but still – trains are involved.

Grab ’em early and don’t let go

And this is just the beginning…

I printed out a months-old version of the LUCY outline yesterday as part of the plan to launch a massive rewrite to incorporate some recent ideas. As I was looking it over, it dawned on me – the opening sequence just ain’t strong enough.

The way it’s written now, it would last about 3 pages, which really isn’t enough. The opening sets the tone and mood of the whole story. If I can’t hold your interest here, then you’re not going to want to work your way through another 100+ pages.

Think of the opening sequence in RAIDERS. It runs about 10 minutes, and does a phenomenal job of establishing the character of Indiana Jones.  I need to do the same thing.

This is where that ‘having fun while you write’ thing comes into play. And I get to do it with trains in the Old West.

Throw in a bottle of RC Cola and some Moon Pies and it’s an ideal writing session.

-Movie of the Moment – MEN IN BLACK III. Fun, clever and a definite improvement over the previous sequel. Setups and payoffs were obvious from the get-go. Josh Brolin did a great job as a young Tommy Lee Jones.  If this opens the door to a MIB IV, they should go the FANTASTIC VOYAGE/INNERSPACE route and do microscopic or nano-technology-based aliens. You heard it here first, folks!

This also confirmed for me once again that Smith needs to stop playing it safe and really try something new. Wasn’t he Tarantino’s first choice for the lead in DJANGO UNCHAINED? But he’s got a good thing going that brings in big bucks, so I don’t see that ever happening.

Wikipedia is my sister! My daughter! My sister! My daughter!

My apologies for a lack of posts the last few days. A combo of extra hours at work, family stuff and just being busy kept me away.

Progress on the second act of LUCY has been slower than I’d like, but that’s okay. Better to take my time than constantly be fixing it later.

I got some very nice feedback from a fellow writer about Act One. He’s read some of my other stuff and was quite enthusiastic about what I’ve got so far. Although he’s not crazy about the main character being a woman, I think it makes for a slightly different approach, as well as being somewhat original.

Because I’m trying to keep this story as historically accurate as I can, I’ve been using various websites as reference guides. The Civil War, trains, and so on.

And of course, Wikipedia. I’ve gotten a lot of very helpful info from it so far. It is truly invaluable.

Throughout the events of the story, I’ve been establishing that several of the characters will end up in California. This includes the love interest and the villain, who has also stolen Lucy’s train. I pictured a big finale taking place IN California. Sounds awesome, right?

The story starts in the East just as the Civil War is ending, then gradually heads west. That means the trains would need to make their way across the country, which would be 1865.

I wanted to make sure this was plausible, but Wikipedia informed me the driving of the Golden Spike in Utah was the birth of the Transcontinental Railroad. In 1869. Which is 4 years AFTER this story takes place.  Which means I need to CHANGE SOMETHING!

Either I move the time of the story ahead, which destroys that whole “end of the Civil War” aspect, or I change the locale of where the story ends.  As much as I hate to do it, it’s easier to go with the latter.  One of the many rules of writing is “kill your darlings,” so it looks like I’ll being committing murder-by-author in the next few days.  Like I said, it would be great to have the showdown in California, but it just won’t work.  Time to dive back into Wikipedia and find out where gold was plentiful before the railroad.  Denver might work.  A showdown on railroad tracks through the Rockies has potential.

I was originally hoping to be done with the outline by the end of the year, but that ain’t gonna happen.  I’ll be happy if I get to the midpoint by then.

-I sent the scene rewrite back to the director a few days ago, and have heard nothing back.  I don’t know how he feels about it, and he said he wanted to shoot the remaining scenes tomorrow (Sunday).   As always, I wish him the best of luck.

-Even though I thought I was done with it, I sent the logline to NORTH POLE NOIR to the logline contest yesterday. I don’t know what kind of a chance I have; I’ve entered it before, but with no results.  This time he seems to want more Christmas-themed ones, so maybe this time.  Fingers crossed.

And that was the easy part!

I must have gotten more done on the first act of LUCY last week than I thought, because I didn’t have to spend much time on it today, and for the most part, it’s done.

Hooray for me.

While I’m extremely happy with the way everything’s working out so far, I’ve also been mulling over what happens in Act Two, aka the vast wasteland.

It is somewhat daunting to be starting on the bulk of the story, which is why I’m really glad to be fine-tuning everything now.  I can figure out what works and what doesn’t.  I’m also really glad I set up those plot point milestones, which will help me get where I want to go.  That western and train checklist has also come in handy.

I’ve started plotting out what happens as Act Two gets underway, but still need a plausible way to get to my page 45 twist.  Somewhere in there I’d like to introduce my bounty hunter character (and I already have his name ready).  What would be even cooler is to somehow tie him in to what we’ve already seen, but I think I can do that too.

Movie of the Moment:  I took V to see HARRY POTTER 7 yesterday.  A little long, but seems like a nice start to wrapping the whole thing up.  I remember when the book came out, a reviewer commented on “HP and the never-ending camping trip.”  Which was on full display.  Despite the occasional question (“What did he say?,  What does that mean?, etc”), V seemed really enjoy it.  I’m sure we’ll see part 2 next summer.

There was also the requisite GREEN LANTERN trailer, which V was very excited about.  I am also guilty about that, despite Ryan Reynolds still being better for the part of Barry Allen rather than Hal Jordan.  But that’s what they get for not asking me.

I did watch PIRATE RADIO earlier today.  It was a blast.  I didn’t realize Richard Curtis wrote and directed it; he wrote FOUR WEDDINGS & A FUNERAL, NOTTING HILL and wrote and directed LOVE, ACTUALLY.  After I learned that, I could see similarities between some of the films.  Multi-character storylines with one main character tying the whole thing together.  And he collaborated with Rowan Atkinson on some of the later Blackadders, so you know his comedy skills are top-notch.

But getting back to PIRATE RADIO.  Lots of funny stuff, most of it possibly true, and just a fun story.  It also had the requisite happy ending, but I won’t say how.  Suffice to say, what led up to it was unexpected, but it all fit together very nicely.