Saturday, February 19, 2011

Cyberspace Open is on

Here is the premise/prompt:
The Premise:

Your PROTAGONIST and his or her LOVE INTEREST are at odds. One of the protagonist’s schemes has gone terribly awry, and the love interest has had it. Write a scene in which they have it out – but in an unconventional way. Their words seem measured and reasonable; but the subtext says another thing entirely. You may use additional characters other than the ones specified.

Note From Contest Management:

This is going to take some crafty, non-on the nose writing here. For example, they can talk about boiling water, but it’s clear they’re really talking about something else. Use sarcasm or body language or timing or other means to convey your true meaning.
Ugh, I got nothing.  Last time I was able to use a project that was already semi-written. This one is going to take some work.  *Puts writing thinking cap on*

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day - Southern California Noir-Style

Novelist and screenwriter Raymond Chandler and his wife were reunited in death today, 50 years after the fact, thanks to a couple of really dedicated Chandler fans:
Then, last year, two Chandler fans from Malibu, Loren Latker and his wife, Annie Thiel, found references from the author hinting that he wished to be buried alongside his wife. They successively petitioned San Diego Superior Court for permission to have Cissy's remains buried in the grave of her husband. Seeing no opposition, the judge agreed, and on Monday over 100 people attended the reburial ceremony.
Well done, Loren and Annie.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Customer service fail

So Typepad decided to dump the Widget Gallery.  This did not make the natives happy, especially when Typepad answered the question of why:

Screen shot 2011-02-11 at 3.01.11 PM

You know, it's not like Typepad is a free service, like Blogger.  Failing to keep features up to date and them dumping them instead of getting them caught up is pretty damn lame.  When I moved my previous blog from Blogger to Typepad, it was because I felt it was worth the cost to upgrade.  Might be time to reconsider that.

Even lamer is how they specifically ignored comments asking why they didn't update the Gallery instead of just dumping it and replacing it with a "recommended article" that lists a whopping seven major widgets.

Yeah.  Customer service FAIL.  To the point where I might look into going back to Blogger.

Update: Looked into Blogger and unfortunately they don't support importing from Typepad.  In addition, if you cancel Typepad your blog is "no longer accessible online".  So in other words, once you're with Typepad, you're with Typepad for life, unless you want your blog to disappear from existence.  Lovely.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Here, have a few scripts

A few days ago, one of my Facebook peeps (sorry, can't remember which one!) posted a link to an index of TV scripts here.

The majority of the scripts are pilots.  What really makes this a major score (especially for me) is that in addition to all the scripts, there are a couple of other interesting items, including show bibles (for Battlestar Galactica, Freak and Geeks and The Wire), and story guidelines for Quantum Leap.

There's also a whole lot of pilots that didn't get ordered to series (in the appropriately named Pilot_Hell folder), including Marlowe, a 2007 pilot that I've been trying to get my hands on since it wasn't ordered to series.  Marlowe was to be a neo-noir update of Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe and I was really bummed when it didn't get picked up.  Better late than never!

Seriously, I'm going to kill off hours/days/weeks reading this stuff.  Already took a look at the White Collar pilot and it was interesting to see what things (including names and the location) were changed between the pilot script and pilot episode.  There will probably be a lot of that.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My next door neighbor still has that festive holiday spirit

First, a little background - please read this post from my old blog: Have yourself a Merry Little Fire Hazard.

This year management posted notices in the lobby before the holidays reminding everyone that Christmas trees quickly go from festive to fire hazard, so be sure to dispose of them in a timely manner.  I figured I wasn't the only one who had noticed and thought it was a nice, anonymous way to let my next door neighbor know that it isn't cool to keep your tree (with lights!) into spring.

I was wrong.

Went to the store yesterday evening and when I returned she had her door open.  She does that a lot, to get a breeze I guess.  And guess what was in her living room, all lit up and everything.  If you guessed her Christmas tree, well done.  You get a cookie.

Funny thing is, the notices are still up.  Apparently my next door neighbor is incapable of taking a hint.  Or she's really just that clueless.

I hate to be a snitch, but I'd hate to die horribly in a fire even more.  So yeah, I'm going to have that conversation with the manager.

The holiday spirit it burns brightly in this one.  Emphasis on burns.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Catnip fail

Because I am an awesome CatMom, for Christmas I got her Sophieness catnip in a bag.

Because I am a CatMom fail, I just finally got around to planting said catnip about a week or so ago.

You're supposed to put the seeds in, water it, cover it in a bag for 7-10 days, then voila!  Catnip garden!

Today it was time to check out the results.  Let's take a look, shall we?

Do you see it?

Here's a closer look:

Catnipfail2 FAAAIIILLL!!!

I got it at Fresh & Easy, so it was dirt cheap.  A lesson in getting what you pay for, I guess.  It seemed like a bargain at the time.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The next Industry Insider Screenwriting Contest has been announced

Here's how it works:
The Industry Insider Screenwriting Contest is a quarterly international competition that awards over $15,000 in prizes and facilitates relationships between new writers and Industry leaders looking to help aspirants embark on writing careers.
Working from this A-list logline, you’re challenged to create up to the first 15 pages of an original script based on the given concept. You can make it your own and take it anywhere your imagination takes you.
But it doesn’t stop there. The Industry Insider Screenwriting Contest goes much further than your average competition, by providing the top 10 finalists with mentors to guide them through the entire script creation process, with the goal of completing a spec screenplay to be judged by a panel of Hollywood power players.
I like that they're going to do it quarterly.  Four times a year to be challenged by an A-list screenwriter, four chances a year for a big break.

The logline for this quarter's contest is provided by Allan Loeb, whose credits include Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, the upcoming film version of the Broadway hit Rock of Ages and the pilot for the upcoming FOX series Terra Nova.  Here is the logline:
A group of married men desperate for one last bachelor party invents a long-lost friend who’s about to be wed, but things get out of control when their wives want to meet the groom before the big event.
I'm having the same reaction to it that I initially had to the previous logline, that it's simply not a genre I'm interested in, but I'm going to try and take the "think outside the box" approach that I took with the last one.  I'm definitely not the target audience for this, which is going to make it harder.  But we'll see.

The Industry Insider Screenwriting Contest is sponsored by the Writers Store.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Screening: Memento at the Egyptian Theatre with Writer/Director Christopher Nolan

In honor of the film's Blu-Ray release, the Egyptian Theatre presented Memento on the big screen last night, followed by a chat with writer/director Christopher Nolan and guest moderator Guillermo del Toro.

Memento (Newmarket Films, 2000)
Starring Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss and Joe Pantoliano
Written and Directed by Christopher Nolan
Nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Original Screenplay (Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan) and Best Editing (Dody Dorn)

Winner, Best Screenplay: AFI (Screenwriter of the Year), Boston Society of Film Critics, Broadcast Film Critics Association, Chicago Film Critics Association, Florida Film Critics Circle, Independent Spirit Awards, Las Vegas Film Critics Society, London Critics Circle (British Screenwriter of the Year), Los Angeles Film Critics, Online Film Critics Society, Phoenix Film Critics Society, Southeastern Film Critics Society, Sundance Film Festival (Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award), Toronto Film Critics Association.

Guy Pearce is Leonard Shelby, a man whose life has gone from ridiculously normal to off-the-charts insane after his wife's murder.  Now he's obsessively seeking revenge...despite the inability to make and keep new memories, a result of the head wound he suffered trying to fight off his wife's attackers.

Leonard is convinced he's found a system to work around his disability.  Said system involves Polaroid pictures, keeping copious records and tattooing really important information on his body.

Memento famously plays out in reverse, in segments.  It's a film you have to really watch and pay attention to or you're going to get hopelessly lost.  But it's ultimately worth the effort to find out how Leonard gets to the point we see him at in the opening (shooting and killing a man) as the film slowly reveals what set the murder in action.  You get to see the ending at the beginning, then retroactively take the journey to that ending through Leonard's fractured, short-term mind.

As a moderator, I would have like to have heard del Toro talking less and prompting the man of the moment to talk more.  But as in Memento, the soft-spoken Nolan is sparse yet incredibly efficient in his dialogue.  As someone who loves overwriting dialogue, I can tell you that there is not one line of Memento that doesn't serve a purpose.  I got the idea that like his work in this film, Nolan isn't necessarily a man of few words, but just a man (and writer) of only as many words as are necessary.

Some Memento trivia:
  • The idea came from Nolan's brother, Jonathan, who wanted to write a story about a man with Anterograde Amnesia, a condition caused by damage to the hippocampus, resulting in the inablity to retain post-injury memories.  They discussed it extensively while on a road trip from Chicago to Los Angeles and decided each would write his own version.  Christopher wrote the Memento screenplay, while Jonathan wrote a short story (Memento Mori) that was evenutally published in Esquire and in an O. Henry collection.  Nolan stated that he considers his brother to be the true writer in the family.
  • Although Memento is widely believed to have been based on Jonathan's short story, Memento Mori was not actually completed or published until about the time the film was released, making the screenplay original rather than adapted.
  • Carrie-Anne Moss was the first actor cast.  She was friends with Joe Pantoliano and helped bring him on board.
  • Nolan had envisioned someone older as Leonard Shelby, but Pearce's insistent commitment to the role and project won him over.
  • The film was shot in 25 days.
  • Blade Runner's influence on Memento: Hugely influential on Nolan, who saw it just as he was getting into filmmaking.  Nolan referenced Ridley Scott's stated belief that Rick Deckard was a replicant despite the fact the film never reveals it; this tenuous grasp on identity definitely informed Nolan's take on the character of Leonard Shelby, a man who, as the film repeatedly states, knows who he was but not who he has become.
  • Memento has a staggering 93% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
Del Toro touched on Pearce's "restlessness" as an actor; Nolan concurred and added that he thinks that's a quality possessed by the best actors.  It made me think of this quote from James Cagney, on the craft of acting: "Never relax.  If you relax, the audience relaxes."  And Leonard Shelby is never still, he never slows from his mission of revenge, one of the things about Memento that keeps the audience riveted and invested in this strangely told tale.  They also discussed the issue of Leonard as an unreliable narrator and attributed it to the noir genre as much as to Leonard's brain-damaged condition.

Memento will screen nationwide for one night later this month.  The Q&A with Nolan and del Toro was filmed and will be included in the screenings.  Check your local listings, as they say.

The only thing that struck me as really odd was that there was absolutely no mention all evening of Team Todd (producing/sister team Suzanne and Jennifer Todd).  Not sure why.

Fuzzy Crackberry photo of Egyptian Theatre is fuzzy.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Behind the scenes with the LAPD

Just heard a bunch of sirens going by (no surprise in this neighborhood) and it reminded me of this:
LAPD police scanner live online.

Screen shot 2011-01-08 at 5.02.20 PM
I don't know how they understand this stuff.

Image snicked from official LAPD website

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Bennie Awards: Temp X's "Razzies for the small screen"

The always awesome Temp X of the The Hollywood Temp Diaries has a poll going on now for what he calls the Razzies for television. It's "The Bennie Awards", celebrating the worst of the small screen.
There were hundreds of prime time series in 2010 -- many of them glorified high school talent shows, people getting hit in the groin for cash or product placements disguised as dramas. The Bennies is your chance to vote on what sucked the most on TV last year.

From today through February 11, you can nominate your choices for Worst Program and Worst Actor/Actress/Reality Personality from 2010. New this year is the Pushing Daisies Award, recognizing the show least deserving of its untimely demise.
Here's how I voted (word for word):
Worst show (scripted or reality): I'm going to go with CSI, because they've been reduced to casting Justin Bieber. Twice.

Worst actor/actress/reality personality: Anything that answers to "Kardashian".

Pushing Daisies Award: Terriers
Voting is open through February 11. Get over there and vote!