Well, it took some time, but I finally have something I am very very happy about. I’ve been working on a script for a fairly thorough outline of a feature screenplay for well over a year. I’ve now worked with 3 additional writers, although the majority of material from 2 of them went unused. Now, I am fairly content and twiddling with the remaining draft.
The odyssey of getting the script into shape reveals the Indie process. I met with the two sets of producers last week to find out if we can all gel as a team and also if everyone was still interested in making this movie. We were, so that leads into budget discussions, which eventually ran into the script. I had only provided the first 57 pages. I promised delivery of a completed draft by Sunday morning.
The truth is I had not looked at the script in 6 weeks myself. Where we were at was George Caleodis was sending me pages, several at a time over a 3 month period. I’d read the pages, then cut and paste them from WORD to FINAL DRAFT. Sometimes, I wouldn’t even correct the formatting issues. So after this meeting on Friday, I opened up the file and started to read the script, actually this draft months in the making – for the FIRST TIME. Now, I didn’t find anything I didn’t like per se, but what I discovered was that there were mental notes to myself like “Oh, I’ve got to change that” or even real notes like, “Don’t worry George, I’ll re-write that scene” that I quite frankly – never got around to.
Then the real shock kicked in. George’s draft just ends at a certain point where the ending sequences begin. I asked him about that and he reminded me that I told him that I was going to use the earlier draft by Chris Gavalar as the basis and I was going to re-write that. Oh yeah… forgot about that, didn’t I? So now I visited a nearly 2 year old draft. The end sequence in the Chris Gavalar draft was exceptional. It flowed well, was exactly in the style I wanted and still want. Now the problem was there were several characters in that sequence that are not in our current draft. The pages refer to events that no longer occur in our draft. I needed to overhaul the entire end sequence now. And it has to be done by Sunday morning.
My faithful readers, the Acolytes of Boo, which sadly includes many naysayers looking for nuggets of negativity, already know that the main reason I have brought on other writers is because I have had writer’s block for some time. Not true writer’s block, as I have been able to write many a blog, write a book, and even write love letters to Avril Lavigne before her untimely engagement. I could write anything EXCEPT this screenplay. Now I very much wanted to collaborate with writers from now on with all of my projects, especially a comedy, but finding the right fit (write fit?) was not easy. Chris Gavalar did a great job, but we didn’t 100% see eye to eye on certain changes. Another writer made an attempt, but then got accepted to USC Film School and we never really got to work too much, and then George Caleodis stepped up to the challenge and we hit it off perfectly. Since George is a stand up comedian, and an accomplished improv actor, as well as dramatic actor – we were able to speak the same kind of language on this.
Now I was at the point where I needed to step back up to the plate and the deadline loomed over my head like a twisted grandfather clock. All my trepidations came at once. I stared at the keyboard a I have lo these many months, and then I finished my re-write by 3:00PM on Saturday. I did some touch ups and emailed it out 12 hours early at 6:33PM Saturday to the producers.
Now there are still tweaks to be done, especially after we do a “table read” with actors who may or may not ever play these roles. Everything sounds different when you hear it out loud. I’m still fiddling with it before I get to that point. I need a physical hard copy of a script to write notes on and work with to make revisions. It’s tactile, but important. Since getting my first hard copy of the latest draft this week, I’ve already decided to completely re-write a character, an ART CRITIC from the ground up. I feel like I have something to say through this character and want to make a comment on suburbia via this flamboyant non gender specific entity.
Looks like writer’s block went away…
I still shan’t reveal the name just yet, but the screenplay is a dark comedy that basically is set in one location, with a limited cast. If Quentin Tarantino and Neil Simon had an ugly love child – that would be the movie I’m making next. We’re now set for an August-September 2007 (tentative) shoot and things are coming together nicely in a myriad of ways for this project. Producers are on board, and even some of the crew is coming together.
Now one of the things that sucks is that since HORRORS OF WAR is not out on DVD yet, in many ways to investors it’s as if I’m still on my first feature. We’re missing the validity of saying to an investor, “He go to any BLOCKBUSTER VIDEO™ and see the DVD with my name on it.” So that sucketh greatly in that regard, but then there has been so much learned in the process, that some aspects are easier.
The Poor Man’s Trip to Europe preparation has begun. I have my new passport (renewed – $67). Brandy didn’t want to give up her old passport, so she claimed to have “lost it” and had to pay $97. It turns out, I got my old passport back when I renewed it, only with some hole punches in it and the giant words VOID across it. She could have saved $30.
We’re flying in and out of Paris, one of my favorite cities on the planet. I’ve been there a few times, but that was now 10 years gone by. Brandy has never been to Europe outside of England. Since we can make this trip on someone else’s dime, and Paris is the least expensive place to fly in, I intend to show her what I know of the city and find some new things too. Plus, I want European SPOONS. I’ve never had European Spoons, and now I want them.
From Paris France we head to Berlin, German, then the majority of our trip is research throughout Poland. Krakow to Warsaw with many little places in between. I am considering directing this movie about World War II that has no science fiction elements whatsoever. I’m going to go and see what I feel emotionally with the physical places and how it connects with me. This would be a movie for 2008-2009 and requires more than any movie I’d ever considered before.
Now to go with last months miraculous purchase of new pants (1 pair jeans, 1 pair cargo), I bought 2 new pairs of shoes, since my only black shoes are starting to fall apart. It turns out when I shopped at PAYLESS SHOES ™ I got the identical pair of shoes I was wearing. Then I went online to order a new pair of VANS ™ since not one store in the Midwest seems to carry the standard canvas shoes with laces, only slip-ons can be found. The last pair I bought was last May in Hollywood. Within days, I was on a shoot where I was in the rain & mud so that new pair was ruined. Usually a pair of VANS™ last me a 3 years or so. Again, I spent less than $50 for both pairs of shoes combined. So in the last few weeks I’ve spent less than $100 on clothes, but it’s more than I’ve spent on wardrobe in years. I really don’t care much about my attire.
For the trip, I want to go extremely limited in terms of baggage and clothes, etc. We got matching large backpacks for Xmas/Birthday so that’s all we’re going to take with us. No luggage, no laptops, and laundry detergent so we can wash some of what we take and not bring as much. Now I shan’t go without any technology. The aforementioned 1 gig MP3 player will entertain on flights and train trips. I’m also talking the Palm Vii Palm Pilot Scott Spears imparted to me. I’m loading that mutha up with direction to hotels, train schedules, phone numbers, contacts, info, plus it has a little portable keyboard so that if I need to type something I want in a data file – I’ve got it. If I choose to make script ideas or whatever, I can still do that without much hassle. This is one of those ancient; nearly Amish Palm Pilots, but I dig it. I also got a pre-paid cell phone that works in Europe, so we can get contacted if anything comes up, and also make calls in an emergency situation.
The strife in Rossdonia has become palpable. Moods are tense, and the sexual tension could be cut with a steak knife. Our man “V” has reached sexual maturity and has started trying to hump everything and everyone in the house. We’re going to have to do the dreaded SNIP SNIP. I feel awkward setting this up. As a male with my genitalia in tact, there’s something just plain wrong about making this phone call. It must be done, but why can’t Brandy do it? Poor Cousette has been targeted as the designated sex object for “V” and there’s this constant hissing, attack, separation we have to do at all hours of day and night.
I said to Brandy I wished “V” could control himself better and she said the same thing about me.
This has been a bountiful writing experience, but less fulfilling that working on the script. I must return to that now, my acolytes.
– Peter John Ross
Now Wearing Pants