Friday, December 18, 2009

1st Draft is Complete

Well, last night, Travis and I finished the first draft of our latest script. It's pretty long, at 131 pages. Shorter than our first draft of Glory Days, which clocked in at 148 pages, but it's still long nonetheless.

Now, we're off for the holiday break, Travis to Michigan and me to New York (where we're suppose to get hit by a huge snow storm the day we arrive) while our producer reads it and gets back to us.

It needs a lot of work. It is, without a doubt, a rough draft. Neither Travis nor I have even gone through it and read it ourselves. There's a lot of things we've left out for the sake of getting the A story down, a number of things we'd like to change and even a few things we forgot about. But this is what we like to call a "vomit" draft. You're just getting what you can on the page, with a number of things just serving as place holders, i.e. "We know this scene needs to be here but I'm having trouble writing it, so here's the bad version."

Anyway, it's crazy that after having trouble with one script, we can have a first draft of another within six weeks. As great as it is to write that quickly, we realize there's a lot of work to be done. But rewriting is one of my favorite things and scripts only get better. I'm also really excited and interested to see how it is working with our producer. This is the first time it's been start to finish so I'm excited to see where this thing goes.

I realize I haven't been blogging very often but after a long day or night of work and writing, writing MORE isn't exactly what I want to do. So, I've been a little lazy but this whole town has already checked out. Hence the very little news coming out and why it's so quiet.

And now, I'm off to New York tomorrow for two weeks. I'm looking forward to the break, I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of good movies and spending time with the family.

Hope you all have a great holiday. And I'll see you in 2010!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Making Money on YouTube

There's a great article over on USA Today about making money off YouTube. I've embedded the video from the article below and linked to it.

Check out the full article here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

3Questions: Rodney Taylor, ASC - Director of Photography

As part of our continuing 3Questions series, I present Rodney Taylor, a cinematographer who is also a member of the ASC or the American Society of Cinematographers. He has shot a combination of 26 features and shorts, as well as worked as a second unit director of photography on Disturbia and Enough and a camera operator on Carnivale.

A cinematographer collaborates "with a director to tell his story with a camera. I think of myself as a storyteller first. I use light and lenses to create an emotional depth, which contributes to a story and makes the audience feel, live and breathe a story. You need to have a lot of technical knowledge to be a cinematographer, but I focus more on the story. I'm fully invested in the script, the director, and the performances. You need to master the technical aspects early in your development, so it becomes second nature. The crew I work with is absolutely critical in this. I say work with. They are not MY crew. They are most important for me. They allow me the freedom to concentrate on the story. They bring great ideas of their own to the film. The crew has to be highly skilled so you never think about the technical issues you are going to face. They can make anything happen."

HBAD: So, tell us, how did you get your start?

RT: My career is the long winding road. I loved movies when I was a kid, but I didn't know you could work on them. I came from a very small fishing village in North Carolina. Hollywood, are you kidding? I went to college at UNC-Chapel Hill. I was in an introductory television production class. Seemed like it could be fun. I looked into the viewfinder and that was IT. I knew I had to work with cameras. I still didn't think about films. I began my career as a live sports camera operator. ESPN was just beginning and in Chapel Hill there was a hot bed of sports operators. So I began pulling cable for them and worked my way up to shooting. I shot on the sidelines of every sport imaginable for about 6 years. Handheld. Finally, I had done every sport, and wanted to try film.

By then I had become aware of cinematography. I decided I wanted to do that and I felt it would be something I would be learning for the rest of my life. I learn something new every day. I have a new experience on every film I shoot. I left Chapel Hill and attended the workshops in Maine. There I met Levie Isaacks, ASC. He was an instructor there. He was going to move to Los Angeles and I told him I was going to be moving there too. I picked up the phone when I arrived and called Levie. He was beginning some tests at Roger Corman's studio. I began working at Corman's the very next day as a camera assistant. It was amazing. It was like film school.

On the same crew, Janusz Kaminski was the gaffer and Mauro Fiore, ASC was the key grip. The film was Saturday the 14th Strikes Back. So I began working my way up after that with various cinematographers as a camera assistant. It was a great experience. I also began working on IMAX films as a camera assistant. I was an assistant for about 7 years. The whole time between jobs, I would shoot anything I could, usually for free. I continued to learn everything I could. I am self taught. I would go to every seminar I could find and watch the cinematographers I was working with. Eventually I got an opportunity to shoot an IMAX film, Alaska: Spirit of the Wild, with director George Casey, who I had been working with as a camera assistant. In the same year I also met director Darren Stein through George's son Sean. I shot Sparkler, Darren's first feature.

HBAD: What are the most difficult challenges you've encountered on your career path?

RT: The most difficult challenge continues to be getting films to shoot. Particularly good films. It is very competitive. I've been very lucky with most of the films I've shot. That Evening Sun was the most recent. It has just been released and it is a very good film. I read the script and felt that I just had to shoot it.

It's very challenging to have a career in film. It can be very difficult to break in and, once you're in, it's a lot of work to keep it going. But there's nothing better than shooting a film. I love it. I have to do it. I think if you don't feel that way about it there are easier ways to make a living.

Another very difficult challenge in this business is being part of your family. The hours are very long and you are often away on location. You have to find a way to balance that out and keep your family as the priority. I have two young daughters. It's a challenge and I think when you are beginning your career this is something you can't even begin to think about. But it will become very important.

HBAD: What advice would you have for someone just starting out in this business, looking to become a cinematographer?

RT: Just know that it is not going to be easy, but if you have the desire and passion to do it you can make it happen. I did it and you can too, but it takes an extraordinary amount of work and commitment. You have to do it yourself. No one is going to do it for you. I continue to work hard to get jobs and study my craft.

You can learn a lot about cinematography by shooting stills. It's a lot cheaper and it's a great way to learn composition, exposure and all the tools you'll need later. The skill set you'll want to know so well, you can forget about it and tell the story. I shot a lot of stills, and I continue shooting stills. It's another passion of mine.

Young filmmakers now are very fortunate. There is a lot of very cheap equipment out there that you can make a film with. Most people have a computer, editing software and a camera of some kind. Use it and learn. It can just be an exercise. Everything you do, doesn't have to go to Sundance. It's important to get the experience.

Learn to collaborate. Filmmaking is a very collaborative art form. If you don't want to collaborate I would recommend painting or other fine arts. At the same time I think it is important to find an art form or creative outlet you can call your own. Exercise your creativity between jobs.

Once you begin working on crews, grab every opportunity you can to shoot absolutely anything on your time off. Get the experience. There is nothing like doing it to learn. A lot of the film crew these days went to film school, and many of them want to make films. You may meet a young director who wants to shoot something over a weekend. No matter how tired you are from the film you are crewing on, just do it.

While you are working on a crew, pay attention to what the cinematographer is doing. You will find that shooting the image is just a small part of the job. The great thing about working on a crew is that you can see what all the other aspects of the job entail. This is something that is hard to learn in film school. The politics of the job. For me, the director absolutely comes first. I'm making their film. But you have to also pay attention to the producers and their needs for the budget. The actors have to be comfortable to make their performances. You work with the production designer and all the other departments so the look is consistent throughout the film. You work with post production and the editor. The list goes on for miles.

Find the most experienced crew you can to work with you. You have to be able to communicate with them. They can contribute so much if they know more than you do. Be comfortable with that.

Watch a lot of films. Study them. See what came before you. I'm surprised sometimes with the lack of film history young filmmakers have. I learned a lot about cinematography by watching films.

A cinematographer doesn't have a style. We shoot for a story and develop THE LOOK for each film.

Cinematographers do not shoot pretty images. We shoot the images that contribute to the story and contribute to the emotion in a film. You have to move the audience.

Meet everyone you can. Always treat everyone with respect. Be nice and personable. Your personality goes a long way in this business. The people you are working with become like a 2nd family. Also the PA on the job now, might be a director in 5 years. I was up for a job recently and my agent said, the director wants to work with you. He said you were really nice to him a few years ago when he drove you to a set.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Look Who's Winning the B.O. Battle of the Sexes

Every morning I wake up and I read my daily "First Take" newsletter sent by The Wrap and I saw an interesting article this morning. Apparently, films with female leads are winning the box office.

From the article: "This is the year of the woman," Paul Dergarabedian, a box-office analyst with, told TheWrap. "Female stars or female-driven movies have been unexpectedly dominant. I mean, Meryl Streep is just as vital today as ever."

Good news for Travis and I. The first script he and I wrote together, and one I'm hoping to direct, is a thriller with a female lead and there's a prod co that is interested in possibly developing and making it. This kind of news could definitely help make that a reality.

I've always thought women were under utilized in films. I'd actually like to see a female version of James Bourne but no one believes that can be successful I guess. Maybe now they'll see women can kick ass too.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Well, these last few weeks have been fun. After installing a new hard drive AND new RAM in my old MacBook Pro, it started to fail on me again on Friday. I/O errors and all sorts of fun. Based on a prognosis from the Apple guy, Travis and I think it may be the motherboard causing all the issues...which...if you're considering replacing the motherboard you might as well buy a new computer.

So I did. I ordered a new MacBook Pro Friday night and it got here today. Now that it's all set up and WORKING you can expect to see somewhat normal posting least until the holidays...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

3Questions: Derek Rydall - Screenwriter, Author

As part of our continuing 3Questions series, I present Derek Rydall, a screenwriter, script consultant and author of two books: I Could've Written a Better Movie Than That!, a screenwriting book and guide on how to master script analysis (and even make a living at it), and There's No Business Like Soul Business: a Spiritual Path to Enlightened Screenwriting, Filmmaking, and Performing Arts. He is also the founder of and

As a professional screenwriter, he has sold or been hired to develop over 20 feature film screenplays and a dozen hours of TV (with studios such as Fox, Universal, Sony, MPCA, UA, Disney, Miramax, and indy producers). As an actor, Derek has starred in several films and TV shows.

HBAD: So, tell us, how did you get your start?

DR: I started out as an actor, starred in a handful of films, TV, etc. then moved into script consulting, which turned into script doctoring, and led to a screenwriting career. The pain of watching script deals fall apart over and over again led me to start writing books, so I would at least have something to show for my time after all was said and done!

HBAD: What are the most difficult challenges you've encountered on your career path?

DR: There are a lot of them, but one of the most difficult challenges is writing something -- a script -- which isn't a finished product in itself. If it doesn't become a movie, you can't self-publish it and experience a sense of completion. It's like being an architect and having nothing but blueprints to show for it. Even when you sell, option, or get hired to write scripts -- which I have done many times -- if they're not produced it's a painful thing to go through. Luckily I've had some stuff produced, but there are a lot of scripts sitting on my shelf. It can also be a lonely line of work, unless you have a writing partner, because you spend a lot of time in your cave. I think Starbucks has saved a lot of writers from going insane, because it gives them an excuse to get out of their t-shirt and underwear at get out in public.

HBAD: What advice would you have for someone just starting out in this business, looking to become a screenwriter?

DR: Read lots of scripts, watch lots of movies, read screenwriting books, take screenwriting classes, get together with other aspiring writers and analyze what you're reading and watching -- then write, rewrite, and write some more. A writer writes. If all you want to do is talk about movies, become a critic! Also, save your money and build up a nest egg so that you can work less and write more. I would also encourage you to get lots of feedback on your scripts -- from friends, family, colleagues, and professional consultants. Working with consultants is what took my writing to a level where it finally started selling. I still use them. I figure if the most successful professionals in almost every field turn to consultants to give them feedback and help them succeed, then there must be something to it!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What does a Line Producer do?

There's an interesting article over at, though I'm not sure where, as I found this posted on one of the many message boards I'm a member of. (In fact, I can't believe there actually is a

Anyway, with so much confusion in Hollywood over what a producer actually does, I thought this might help explain what this particular type of producer, a line producer, does.



In a nutshell, Line Producers create a budget (usually several budgets) for a production - then are responsible for keeping to the budget during production. Line Producers are 'on the line' or 'responsible for each line' of the budget. They are involved with all aspects of the production and are directly in contact with the rest of the crew and the producers above. Line Producers typically hire the key crew (along side the director and producers) like the Director of Photography and Production Designer. Line Producers oversee the hiring and approve everyone else the UPM would like to bring onto the project.

A UPM, Unit Production Manager, on the other hand is the person who executes the plan and reports to the Line Producer. They are the person dealing with the daily approval of timecards, reviewing the production reports and approving call sheets. The Producer's Guild of America (PGA) counts many Line Producers among it's membership (but does not officially recognize them) - while the Director's Guild of America (DGA) officially covers the union status of UPM's.

It can be argued that a Line Producer is a non-union UPM, and vice-versa, but there are many shows which have both positions. However, these tend to be larger budget project. There is a fine line of grey which differentiates the two positions. Sometimes they are the same person.

For further clarification, the differences between a Unit Production Manager (UPM) and a Production Manager is nothing - except a little knowledge of Hollywood history. Back when studios had in house production departments, there was a production manager (today they are called production executives) and each project was completed by a 'unit' of crew and cast. Remember, the old studio system contracted talent (cast and crew) to work exclusively for the studio. These 'units' had their own Production Manager. As things evolved, these UPMs became freelance, but never lost the 'Unit' part of their title.

Today the clearest position which technically denotes a 'UPM' vs. a 'PM' is the PM on an additional unit, like second unit. That would be a UPM is it's cleanest definition. However, both first and second unit PM's are likely to keep the full UPM title.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Writing Process: Part 2

As many of you know, my computer was not very nice to me and decided to fail about two weeks ago. Fortunately, I have everything backed up. The computer can turn on by the hard drive is on its last legs and I need to replace it. Which I'm doing...tonight.

Anyway, the timing of this was the worst possible timing ever, as I am right in the middle of writing this treatment for our new script. We had a self-imposed deadline of Thanksgiving break for turning in something to our producer. We really wanted to turn in the treatment I was writing, which was 18 pages long at the 50% mark, but we just couldn't get it done in time. So, on Wednesday morning, Travis sent out a document which had the "treatment" version of the backstory, followed by the scene list that he had spent time putting together just in case I was unable to finish the treatment.

(This is kind of a bummer too because the treatment was really well written, I thought, and now, no one will get to read it. Maybe after we finish the script and it's out there I can post a copy of the half-finished treatment. We'll see.)

Our producer let us know that he would check out the outline and get back to us. Then, I hopped on an 8AM flight to Seattle. We landed at 10. I got a call from Travis saying the CE was trying to set up a call, am I available? I said yeah, sure. Then, we got an email from the producer telling us that we "flat CRUSHED it." He was very pleased with the treatment and couldn't have hoped for a better version of his idea. And he told us to go to script.


For one, he loved what we put together. But for another, it means that we're able to stay on schedule. One of the things we were worried about what making our deadline. If we had other changes to make, or the treatment wasn't 100%, we might not finish a first draft of the script before the Christmas break. In order to even think of having something ready to go out in January, we need to have the first draft done before the break, so we can all read it, come back with notes at the beginning of January and finish rewrites sometime that month.

So, tonight, Travis and I are fixing my computer. (We're installing a new hard drive and RAM.) Then, starting tomorrow night, we're writing the script. I'm not quite sure how we're going about it...but my guess is that it will be something close to how we wrote Glory Days...I'm not really sure yet.

That's it for now. Stay tuned for Part 3

Monday, November 30, 2009

Technology FAIL!

So, basically, over Thanksgiving my computer crashed and my Blackberry crapped out. Fortunately, I saw it coming, and am awaiting a new phone and a new hard drive and RAM for my computer.

Everything should arrive by tomorrow, if not today, at which time I will be back online.

In meantime, not being connected is freeing and also a little weird. I have some great news and will post about it later today or tomorrow.

Hope you all had a great break.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey everyone,

No posts for the rest of the week. Hope you all have a great Thanksgiving.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Because I'm A Huge Seinfeld Fan...

As you know, this season of Curb Your Enthusiasm is all about the Seinfeld reunion. Well, the season finale premiered Sunday and the Seinfeld section of it has been posted to YouTube, so...enjoy!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The $20m Actor…Who Needs ‘Em?

There's been a lot of talk recently about how you no longer need a big star to open your movie. There's been several big-budget, star based movies that have failed miserably this year, and a lot of other movies, without big stars, that have done very well. So, now, everyone is thinking, "Oh, we don't need A-listers" whereas, maybe a year ago, it was all "Sorry, unless you have an A-lister, don't even bother me."

How does one make sense of all of this? You don't have to. All you have to do is keep working on what you're working on. In two years, when Bradley Cooper is the biggest name in movies, demanding 20 million per picture and his movies open huge, everyone will say "Sorry, unless you have an A-lister, I can't help you" once again. Hollywood, for some reason, has a really hard time admitting that it's really all about the story and how that connects with audiences.

I was watching West Wing this morning on Bravo and it was the episode from Season 2 when we learn how our main characters got involved with the Bartlett campaign. C.J. Craig works at a PR company and she gets called in because the Golden Globes were announced that day, and some guy that runs a studio (who has hired the PR company and C.J. Craig to promote his movies) is pissed that they only got two nominations. And he puts the blame on her, wants her fired.

C.J. stands up to him and says, "Well, I'm sorry, the fact is the movies were just bad. If they were unknown, I could have helped you, but people didn't nominate them because they were bad movies." (Something like that.)

Sometimes the movies are bad. Sometimes they're good. Sometimes they have stars and sometimes they don't. One of the things I've learned in my short time here is that the only trend in Hollywood is that there are no actual trends. Any trend in Hollywood is one to two years behind whichever picture started it.

Check out the articles below.

The $20m Actor…Who Needs ‘Em?
Hollywood rethinks use of pricey A-list actors

Thursday, November 19, 2009

3Questions: Jennifer Cooper - Casting Director

As part of our continuing 3Questions series, I present Jennifer Cooper, a Casting Director and owner of Jennifer Cooper Casting. She has been involved in casting upwards of 85 episodes of Network television. Her television credits include the Fox drama Drive, the CBS dramas Cold Case and CSI: NY as well as the CBS Paramount pilot I Witness. She has recently added 'producer' to her credits, working with CSI creator Anthony Zuiker on his Digi-Novel series, Level 26: Dark Origins.

HBAD: So, tell us, how did you get your start?

JC: I started interning with Mali Finn Casting as a part of an Emerson College internship program for graduating seniors. While working at Mali’s office, I was given the chance to work on some amazing projects such as, The Assassination of Jesse James, Lucky you, Running with Scissors and North Country. Once my internship was complete, I was hooked and hit the ground running, and with enough begging and utilizing the contacts I had made working for Mali, I was able to get a casting assistant job on Cold Case for CBS.

HBAD: What are the most difficult challenges you've encountered on your career path?

JC: I think the most challenging thing for me personally was learning how to slow down. Everyone tells you that you have to “pay your dues” which just sounded to me like I should “under achieve” and “take a back seat”. But looking back, I think about how much I have learned by allowing myself to learn from experience. As hard as it is to swallow, there are some things you can only understand by doing them, and it takes time to garner the trust and respect needed to deserve the opportunities. Finally, understanding that striking a balance between “not taking no for an answer” and “waiting your turn” was both the most difficult and rewarding lesson I struggled to learn.

HBAD: What advice would you have for someone just starting out in this business, looking to become a casting director?

JC: INTERN! Although it sounds crazy to have spent so much money on college and then turn around and volunteer to fall deeper into debt, giving your time in pursuit of really examining what you think you might want to do will go a LONG way. It doesn’t take long in this business to make friends and build relationships, and if you’re committed and hard working, people will take notice and open a door for you. I think the trick is to be prepared to walk through it when it opens.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

How Is The Writing Going?

Let's just say this:

I am crapping excellence onto these pages right now. It’s like I took a laxative for genius.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Writing Process: Part 1

(Who writes long hand anymore? Actually, I have a notebook and a beautiful Mont Blanc fountain pen that I use constantly when I'm jotting down ideas and writing out my thoughts on a project. But...I don't write scripts long hand. I just thought this picture fit the blogger "public domain" cliche nicely.)

Nothing better than starting off a post with parentheses.

Anyway! Since Travis and I have started working on a new script, and this new script happens to be an assignment-like situation, where we're developing the project with a production company, I thought it would be interesting to provide you, my loyal readers, with a look at the process Travis and I will go through developing this script. How does something like this happen? What steps do we take before writing the script? Do we outline? Do we treatment? Things like that. So, why not take you along with us?

I've read numerous books on screenwriting but they're all a little bit academic. "All you do is write out your story using action and dialogue. Done!" Easy, right? That's the thing. Because there's so many different ways to actually write a screenplay, it's hard to write a book about it. The other thing is that it's kind of boring. Who wants to read a whole book on how someone wrote a script? Maybe this will be just as boring...but you didn't have to buy it and it will be much shorter.

So, you know how the fairy tale begins. Our script is given to the producer. Producer reads it, really likes it, just not for them. But, BUT! Finally, he goes to himself, "I have an idea and I think these are the guys to write it." So, he calls us in for a meeting. We go in and he pitches us an idea.

"I want to do a comedy about _______." (I can't reveal what it is we're actually working on yet...sorry.) I think this topic is ripe for hilarity, I really love what you guys did with Glory Days and I'd like to develop the project with you, internally, here at our production company."

The rest of the meeting, we toss around some ideas that we're coming up with in the room. Loose ideas, who's our main character, what exactly is the plot, what other movies does this remind us of? What funny things could be in it?

Following the meeting, Travis and I did what we always do when starting a project...we put it off and grabbed something to eat. Then we talked, mostly about the short timeline...which worried us a little bit. And we just settled into the fact that this was a great opportunity and if that means we need to not have a social life for the rest of the year, well...that's what we signed up for when we started this whole journey.

Normally, when Travis and I are writing mode, we work every night, (unless, of course, the Lost season is airing, in which case we take Wednesdays off), however, with this intense deadline, we decided that we'd write weekends as well, if we felt we needed to.

Despite our vow to drop everything, the following week we had some plans that just couldn't be broken. However, the beginning of development is often light. You can only spend so many hours "coming up" with ideas before your brain is fried and that's what we spent the better part of last week doing. Our producer scheduled a meeting with us on November 13th to see what we had and focus in on what we wanted this script to be.

So, Travis and I spent most of our time coming up with the story beat by beat. We use a beat sheet that covers the major turning points of a story: intro, catalyst, first act turn, fun and games, midpoint, bad guys close in, third act turn, climax, and so on (there's a few more sprinkled in there but that pretty much covers it). We do this in order to start figuring out the structure of our story.

Structure really is everything and if you're able to have these major beats written out, then you always know where you're writing to. If you're only on page 27, you don't to be thinking about the end, you have to be thinking about getting to page 50, the midpoint.

We also started developing characters. Who is our main character? Who is the bad guy? Who are the supporting characters?

What we wanted, when we stepped into our meeting, was to be able to say, "here's a few ideas for the story, here's a few character ideas, here's some set pieces" and then use that as a jumping off point for feeling out the producer. Remember, this was his idea, so, he's got something in his head about how this thing is, and we need to be able to tap into that, while at the same time, making it ours...which is probably why he didn't just hand us a scene list and say "Just turn this into a script."

That stuff in hand, we went in for our meeting on Friday. As mentioned, the real purpose of this was to spitball ideas and focus in on the direction and tone of the script. Plot will come, that's not the difficult part. Things like tone (is this a grounded comedy or an absurdist comedy) and character (is our hero have a "hero to zero to hero" arc (like in Glory Days) or is is more "zero to hero?") can totally effect the plot and execution of the script, so that's what we wanted to get a better handle on.

And we did. We had a great meeting, we got a lot of things sorted out and we were off.

Now...the way Travis and I develop and write scripts changes from script to script. When we wrote our first script, the thriller, we had spent the better part of six months, off and on, developing the idea, thinking about the idea, letting it gestate, while we finished up college. I had also been developing it for a year prior to that. When it came time to actually write it, we spent time beating it out, talking about the character and after three weeks of that, we started writing. I wrote the intro. From there, Travis began writing ahead and went back and rewrote what he had just written. By the end of ten days, we had the 2nd draft of the script.

When we wrote Glory Days, the plot was really, really easy. We spent most of our development time coming up with the character and then carding out the script (where you write the scenes on cards). We didn't do a beat sheet or write an outline/treatment. We just knew this character and the world. When it came time to write it, Travis and I actually wrote it together, side by side, one of us throwing ideas or dialogue, the other typing. We still managed to complete a 150 page draft in 10 days, just executed it differently.

When we wrote our third script, a very small indie project called Dig, we actually wrote it using iChat. See, the idea is two characters, one location...that giant conversation. So, to power through all that dialogue we tried something different: Travis played one guy, I played the other and we actually sat down and had a conversation on iChat, which then became the dialogue for the script. In order to do this, however, we had to spend a lot of time really getting to know these characters, so we did a lot of development on it.

For our last comedy script, we did everything. We did a beat sheet, we carded it out, we wrote a treatment, we wrote the script.

Point is, what we end up doing to prepare for the actual writing is usually whatever feels organic to what we're writing.

In this case, I have no idea why, but following the meeting on Friday, I sat down in a coffee shop and started writing, in outline form, the back story. I started with our character and just started pounding out the back story. Travis then started beating out the new version of the story, by scenes, and I kept writing what will become a 20-25 page treatment. (I just started Act II and I'm already on page 8). Why go this route? I have no idea. It just sort of happened.

Because we're developing it with our producer, we don't want to just hand him a beat sheet. We want to give him something of substance, an outline/treatment, that gives him a really good idea of what the script will be. An outline/treatment the best way to do that.

So, as of now, Travis and I meet up every night, where he works on the scene list and I adapt that scene list into an outline.

Stay tuned for The Writing Process: Part 2.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Where to Write

When I originally started this blog, I made a list of topics that I could possibly write about. After the first month of posting, I've kind of veered away from writing "articles" and have focus more on aggregate posting, updates, or project based blogs (W&CK, Mateo, Glory Days). Everyone now and then, when searching for something to write about, I'd return to that list I made. One of the topics on it was about "where to write." I haven't written about it up until now because I always though it was a bit of a boring blog. Because Travis and I haven't really been hardcore writing, I didn't have an recent personal experience to make it more than "Well, there's coffee shops, at home...and wherever else..." which are things you already know, and quite frankly, just isn't very interesting.

But as Travis and I have gotten back in to serious writing, it's actually become a topic of conversation between us, so I thought I'd share it with you. Maybe it's still boring...I don't know.

Travis and I have written in a lot of different places. We wrote our first script at Cafe Vita in Seattle before we moved down to Los Angeles. Why Vita? Well, that Summer Travis worked full time at a place down on Capitol Hill and I was self-employed, doing projects for my production company. My days were often free but Travis couldn't do anything till after work. It was easier for me to drive over to Seattle and meet up with Travis, who worked next door to Cafe Vita.

It was a great place, well-worn, good coffee and open late. (Travis and I were just talking today about our marathon writing sessions for our first script. I'd meet up with Travis around 6, we'd grab a bite, and then write until midnight.)

Then, Travis and I moved to LA and we really didn't know where to write. At the time, we felt that LA was void of coffee shops. (Newbie confession: we tried writing at Urth Cafe thinking it was something different than it was.) So, we worked on Glory Days at the kitchen table of our apartment and at the apartment complex's cafe (we didn't have Internet at the time and the cafe provided it for free).

We also worked at the Farmer's Market Starbucks for a while. When I was writing The Ronnie Day Project I did most of it there. It wasn't until after I had returned from my 3 month, Ronnie Day Project Post-Production vacation in New York that Travis told me he had found a great coffee shop where he had been doing a lot writing.

And that's how we found our way to Insomnia Cafe. We landed on this place because it was close for us, even after I got married and moved into an apartment with my wife. Insomnia Cafe really feels like a place to write. In fact, there's a huge amount of regulars who seem to be there every night. You take a break from writing, chat with other people, meet people, and the come back to the computer and keep writing. I've always felt my creatively soar there even though, thinking back on it, we haven't actually written an entire script there.

Most of the writing we did there was rewrites on Glory Days and our thriller script. We wrote a couple of TV specs there and did a lot of development. We wrote our smaller indie script Dig at my house, over the course of 10 days and 10 bottle of wine, because we needed the Internet to write it (that's for another post) and Travis' roommate (and one of my best friends) was always home with his girlfriend watching TV.

Then we drifted away from it. And when my wife and I bought a condo in North Hollywood, followed by Travis moving to an apartment downtown, we moved away from Insomnia completely. Travis and I began writing our next script, the one we were forced to abandon, bouncing back and forth between our places. I now had a dedicated office, which I thought we would be using all the time, and Travis didn't have a TV...which meant his new roommate wouldn't be inclined to bother us by watching re-runs of Rock of Love.

Because of driving distances, time, etc, we'd often split our time between each place. Travis had a weird work schedule that had him working weekends, with three days free in the middle of the week. Sometimes we'd write during the day, other times at night, but mostly at our homes.

But we weren't able to break through anything. I think there's something that becomes a little bothersome about writing at home. It's too comfortable. It's too easy to get up and grab a snack or a drink and interrupt your writing. It's too easy for a wife or roommate to get to you. It's too easy to surf the Internet. And it's nearly impossible for me to get any work done if I'm writing at home alone. Forget it. I can edit, I can prep for directing, but being at home, alone, and writing is an impossible feat for me.

Anyway, most of our writing was put on hold for a couple months this summer as I had a few music videos to direct and edit and Travis worked on the treatment for our musical.

Now, after getting the assignment, we've been re-adjusting back into writing mode. The week following the good news, we worked down at Travis' place. The Starbucks there isn't bad but it closes at 10 and we usually try to write from 8-11.

Following our development meeting on Friday, Travis had to go take care of some personal shit and I decided to go work on a write up incorporating the new notes. Since I was in the area, I thought why not go to Insomnia? It's always been a great place to write.

So, I did. I got my cup of coffee, settled in and started writing. And I continued writing. And continued writing. And before I knew it, I had three pages, single spaced, covering the entire back story.

Travis called me when he was finished and was like, "Where you at, homey?" and I was like, "Yo...G, I'm like, busting up all over this page, for reelz, at the Insomnia Cafe." And he goes, "Very nice. I do not want to mess with your flow, so I will come over and we'll write there." And I said, "Yes, brilliant!"

(Our conversations are almost always like that. We're friends to all linguistic styles.)

So we did. We planned to write this past weekend, both days, but my wife and I were getting a new car on Saturday and it ended up taking all day, so I wasn't able to meet up with him.

Sunday, we were trying to decide where to write for the afternoon and decided to go back to Insomnia, so we did, and we got a lot of work done. I'm not a superstitious guy, but I'm a big believer in continuing with what works. Odds are we'll end up writing during the week at Travis' (it's a time management thing that I don't really want to get into) but for now, Insomnia does seem to be working for us.

How, in any way, does this help you? I don't know. I just thought it was interesting. Quite possibly the only thing about writing in a coffee shop in Los Angeles is that everyone else in there is also writing. And it definitely makes you feel like the odds are against you. But if a coffee shop is where you get the most work done in the least amount time then why not take advantage of it?

Hell, if you need a break, you can people watch. You never know, you might just see a character for your next screenplay.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

3Questions: Josh Stolberg - Screenwriter

As part of our continuing 3Questions series, I present Josh Stolberg, a screen and television writer who's credits include Honey I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show, Sabrina: The Animated Series, Pirahna 3D, Sorority Row, Good Luck Chuck, The Spellman Files (Barry Sonnenfeld directing) and Man-Witch (Todd Phillips producing).

As a screenwriter, his job " involves a fairly broad spectrum of writing. It can be anything from submitting a ‘spec’ script (writing it without getting paid) in hopes a buyer will bite, to writing a job on assignment that a studio pitches to the writer, to selling a pitch in which the script doesn’t exist yet. I’ve also worked punching up scripts in round-table situations (usually one or two days, writing jokes or helping to solve plot problems)."

HBAD: So, tell us, how did you get your start?

JS: I started in theater in Junior High School. My interest started to shift toward directing in the theater program at the University of Vermont. After college I moved to Hollywood and started from the bottom. I worked in television as a Production Assistant, and later as a Second Unit Director before going back to grad school at USC. My first few years out here were about learning the business from the ground up and building a network of people with similar moviemaking tastes and interests.

My first big break was getting an agent who immediately hooked me up with a staff job on Honey I Shrunk the Kids. I had sent out about 800 query letters to nearly every agency in Hollywood, and was lucky enough that ICM was the agency that bit. While working on Honey, I continued writing features on spec. During the hiatus on the show, I made my first sale on a spec script called Bad Nougat (a romantic comedy about a relationship counselor still in love with his ex-girlfriend). It wasn’t a big sale, but it allowed me me to leave Honey and work full-time in features.

The next big step happened when my manager fixed me up with a pretty amazing writer named Monica Johnson. She was more established and looking for someone to write with after she stopped working with Albert Brooks. Together we made a more substantial sale on a script called Closers (about a company that choreographs the perfect date for clients). It was a big splashy spec sale and was really the launching pad for getting my being known as a writer.

HBAD: What are the most difficult challenges you've encountered on your career path?

JS: The biggest challenge is that as a writer, only 10% of your job is actually writing. The other 90% is getting your next job. Taking meetings. Writing pitches. Delivering the pitches. Building business relationships with the execs and directors that share your sensibilities. Even once you have an agent you’re selling him or her on your next project. The more excited they are, the better job they can do selling it.

By nature, most writers are creative folks, not salesmen. But you have to adapt and grow into it. When the studio is hiring you as a writer, they aren’t just hiring you for your skills, but also because they look forward to working with you, giving you notes, hearing your ideas.

There is another challenge in balancing the business of writing with the creative side. What I would love to write, isn’t always what Hollywood wants to make. So it’s always a struggle trying to pin-point what Hollywood WANTS, and then tailoring it so that the work is exciting to me.

A lot of that is just finding the right idea. If it’s a good idea, the script usually writes itself. It’s a lot easier to write a good script than a bad script. A bad script drains every ounce of your energy because it’s like pulling teeth to make it work.

HBAD: What advice would you have for someone just starting out in this business, looking to become a screenwriter?

JS: Of course you need to do your homework. For a writer this means being a reader. Buzz through as many screenplays as you can get your hands on. Read them critically. Pay attention to when they introduce concepts and how they evolve.

But the best advice I can offer is to take the extra step. You can read about screenwriting all you want but it really comes down to ‘doing it.’ WRITE. Write as much as you can.

And know this… 99% of first scripts are horrible! I can’t even read my first script without spinning into a depression. Be prepared for this. And don’t let the rejections get to you. I really can’t understand how most writers think that their first scripts are going to win them an Oscar (Diablo Cody is the exception, not the rule). Think of it like this: it’s like golf, in the sense that when you’re on the practice range, you’re probably going to duff a few before you nail one 300 yards.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mateo's "Get To Know Me" Music Video in Rotation on mtvU

Well...the title pretty much says it all. I just found out that the video I directed for Mateo's single "Get To Know Me" will be put in rotation on mtvU! Exciting news.

In case you've missed it, here's the video:

Mateo - Get To Know Me [Official Video] from Mateo on Vimeo.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Update: Great News on all fronts


Last week (Friday to Friday) was a pretty crazy week for Travis and I. (Did we sell a script? Not yet.) First, there was the news from our Glory Days producer that a big agent with big talent clients read our script, loved it, and has now passed it on to his top four clients.

Then, that same day, Travis and I had a great meeting about another script we wrote, a thriller, at a production company, whose CE expressed interest in the script. She's now passing it on to the other CE at the company and we're awaiting word.

A week later, this past Friday, Travis and I went in for a general meeting at a production company run by a big comedy director who had a major hit this year. (I apologize for being so vague with some of this stuff but Hollywood tends to be a secretive place and I don't want to jeopardize anything by revealing what is going on until something has actually happened. I hope to let you in on this company soon.) A friend of Travis' is a CE there and Travis had given Glory Days to him to one, get feedback, and two, see if the director would be interested. Travis's friend, and the director's producing partner, both really loved the script. Unfortunately, it wasn't really the director's type of material. Nevertheless, the producer wanted to meet with us. And that's how Travis and I found ourselves sitting in a West Hollywood office on Friday.

By all accounts, it was a general meeting (nice to meet you...put a face to the name...what are your working on...well, keep us we're not buying anything from you right now...please!) Travis and I discussed the night before the very limited comedy pitches we had and figured we'd feel it out.

Now, here's something to keep in mind. As I mentioned in the last post, Travis and I had decided to write an indie feature that we've been wanting to work on for a while. We were tired of forcing things and wanted to work on something we REALLY wanted to do.

So, we go into this meeting, basically expecting it to be like most of our meetings. We meet the producer, we chit-chat about a really awesome, custom movie poster they had done for one of their movies, and then he said, "So, I really like Glory Days, I don't really know what you have going on right now, but I have an idea I want to throw at you." We said sure, let's here it. So, he pitched us a hilarious idea (one we probably should have thought of) and said that he wants to develop it in house, and he wants us to write it.

Whoa! Our first assignment. Then, lays it down, "This project is a priority and I would love to have a script by the new year."

Say what? As in, the "new year" two months from now? With three weeks of holiday breaks in between? THAT new year.



In essence, Travis and I are giving up our lives for the next two months to try and get a script written for this guy. He wants to sell it, he wants it to make 150 million, he wants a big star, who was in his last movie, to be in it, and let's put it this way, this guy's last movie made 180 million. And that was during a slow time of the year.

The fact that this is our first assignment, that someone is trusting us with his idea, believes that we can do it, really means a lot. It's a great break for us. The other great thing about this is that we really should have another comedy script and this gives it to us. And it's a funny idea. So, needless to say, we're excited.


In other news, I got a nice shout out on for the Mateo "Get To Know Me" video I did. You can check out the post here.


With all that's been going on, I haven't had a chance to finish up the edit on Tim Kubart's video for "Superhero." Tim and I have been going back and forth for a week or two with some changes and I have the last of them to make before sending it off to James for color. My goal is to find time to finish that this week.

Since we're going hardcore on the script now, any free time I have is almost completely devoted to writing, including weekends, until December 20th. (My wife and I go back to New York for Christmas for two weeks, so, I'm not quite sure how that's going to work. Hopefully, timing wise, we've already got a first draft of the script by then, and are just rewriting, something done easily when Travis and I are apart.)

Because of that, posting on the blog may get light for the next couple weeks. I'll try and keep things updated but I just might not be posting everyday. Bear with me...if I sell this script, it could help the blog take off.


I've managed to do 25 straight weeks of 3Questions interviews. Last week, I just didn't have an interview ready to go. I've been working with a friend of mine who has a lot of contacts and is willing to help me out. So, I should be getting more in soon and I will continue posting them as I do. I'm glad you guys are enjoying them.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Neill Blomkamp on Directing 'District 9' from

There's a great part halfway through when he talks about aspiring directors needing stamina...something I've never really thought about but have always known was important.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Glory Days, Editing "Superhero" and What's Next?

I've been trying to write this blog for a few days now. It's been tough to find the time and the energy to write something up, considering that my blogs end up being so long. I definitely have some things I want to write about so I'm not sure why this is so difficult...

So, now it's 11:38 PM on Tuesday night, the puppies are sitting next to me on the couch, Seinfeld is on TV, and I've decided to try and get this blog written.

Glory Days

So, after the bad news we got on our newest comedy script, we got some great news on Glory Days. I can't really say too much because I don't want to jinx it or build too much excitement.

Several weeks ago, our produced submitted our script to a big comedy talent agent, at a big talent agency, for his client's consideration. We didn't hear anything and then finally, after trading calls for a couple days, our producer called us to tell us the agent loved it and had submitted it to his four biggest clients. I can't say who but they are names you would definitely know.

So, it's another great step along the way. Who knows what will happen, they could all say no, but we have a talent agent on our side, who loves the script, loves football, and will hopefully champion it. It's a huge step forward and we're all excited to see what comes next.

Editing Superhero

On Friday I finished the rough cut of the music video for Tim & the Space Cadets. It took me a while to get that first cut together, even though a week and a half is really quick. What made it difficult was the amount of performance footage I had. In addition to the six or so angles I shot of Tim performing, I also had all of the band footage.

For the last chorus of the video, Tim and the band had a costume change, so I started with that section, finding it easier to cut because it was such a small section and there weren’t any narrative shots I had to put in.

Once that was done, I moved on to the main performance. It took me awhile to figure out where to start. I finally cut the song down into sections and decided that most of the video should focus on Tim and if I needed to cut in band shots, I could do that later. Once I made that decision, things got much easier for me.

Having finished cutting the performance I was able to start laying down the narrative sections of the video. Aside from a few hiccups, mostly with finding a way to cut the shots down to fit in the time allotted, I got everything laid down on the timeline.

I took a day away from it, came back, watched it, made some tweaks and finally, on Friday, send it off for review by Tim, the producers, our DP, and a couple of other people whose opinions I trust. They all got back to me the next day and loved it. Tim had a few minor changes, which I addressed over the weekend. On Monday I sent off the new cut and am just waiting on Tim for feedback.

If he okays it, then it's off to James, my colorist, and the video will be done soon after. The thing I'm trying to figure out now is how to differentiate between the performance and the narrative. They were both shot at the same location with the same light and I'd like to find a way to separate the two. I'm not sure how to do it yet, that's a discussion I need to have with James and Paul. Either way, I can't wait to see this thing color corrected and in full-res. After the W&CK video, I know it's going to look awesome!

What's Next?

After our latest script got shut down by the news that there's a number of other similar ideas already out there, Travis and I were really feeling lost. We hadn't really been feeling the latest script anyway and felt like while we liked the idea we were really writing it because we should write another comedy.

But that's not really how we banged out our last two scripts, a thriller and a comedy. We wrote those because we really liked the stories and really wanted to write it. We wrote what we were interested in, not what we felt we should write.

Here's the thing...if you write a comedy script, it's great to write more comedy scripts, not a thriller or a small indie movie. Hollywood likes to label you as "the comedy guys" or "the thriller guys" so it's best to stick with the same kind of stuff...but that's just not the way we work. We're into stories...not genres. And we've written two well-received scripts from different genres.

On that note, Travis and I have started working on our next project, which is going to be a low-budget indie movie. We're going to go out and find financing for it and it's going to be my feature directorial debut.

We're going to spend the rest of the year developing it and then, starting in the new year, Travis will go off and write it.

It's a story that we really love and we're really into which will mean we can write it quickly and write it well. It's a project we've had in our heads for a couple months now, gestating, so I think it's very promising.

So, that's what we're going to write next, because our gut(s) tell us we should and that's what has gotten us this far.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Is Hollywood always in panic mode? Ari Emanuel's history lesson

There's a great article over at LA Times from Patrick Goldstein. Everyone in Hollywood, especially those who have yet to sell something and aren't making a million dollars a year (me!), is feeling the pinch these days.

The spec script market is in the toilet; fewer movies are being made even though, oddly enough, the budgets seems to be getting bigger (Transformers 2, Avatar, etc); and stars have less cache then ever before. Except, perhaps, in the 1970's, which is what the article is about.

The one thing I constantly keep in mind is that movies will always be around. Sure, things have definitely advanced but there's really not that much difference between The Great Train Robbery and The Dark Knight. Following that, the movie business, like any business, is cyclical. There are ups and downs. After television took off and the studio system was broken up, we were down. A few years ago, we were up. Right now, we're down.

Is it the end of the movies? No.

Sure, studios are cutting back, they're only making movies they think will work (sequels, tentpole movies) and when they fail, they cut back even more. Soon, however, when cash starts entering the market, when light bulbs start selling again, and when we have a few breakout hits on varying budget levels, things will pick up. The studios can't stop making movies, even though their parent companies would probably like them to, so they need to keep looking for the next big script.

The question is, who's going to write it?

Check out the article below.

Is Hollywood always in panic mode? Ari Emanuel's history lesson

Monday, November 2, 2009

Building an afterlife in The Lovely Bones

A couple weeks ago I posted a link to an article on video on Peter Jackson's new film The Lovely Bones and I mentioned that I was curious about how they imagined heaven, since there's obviously no concrete examples to base anything off of and trying to transcend human understanding of place and time is near impossible.

There's an article over at about just that element -- the afterlife.

Check it out: Building an afterlife in The Lovely Bones

Friday, October 30, 2009

What I'm Working On Now

Tim and the Space Cadets: Superhero

I started editing the music video I shot late last week. I waited because I ordered a new drive system to edit off of. Usually, I buy an inexpensive MyBook or something comparable from Best Buy. I use it to copy all the footage onto during shooting, then transfer everything onto a GRAID when I start editing, and ultimately return the original external hard drive to Best Buy.

However, while on the shoot, the Steadicam Operator, Sergei, suggested a new system. Basically, he uses internal drives that pop in and out of an external drive reader. It looks like this:

It runs about $80 - you can buy it here Then, all you have to do is buy the much less expensive internal hard drives. What I realized is that with the expensive GRAIDs, you're essentially paying for the enclosure with the brushed metal design. What’s the point of that!?

I bought a 1 TB Western Digital internal HD for $84!

WESTERN DIGITAL Caviar® Green WD10EADS 1TB SATA II 7200 RPM 32MB Buffer Hard Drive Bulk at ZipZoomfly

$164 later, this only cost me ha fraction of what a GRAID would have; furthermore, half of that is money I won't have to spend again, since it was an upfront investment for the reader. And, it's totally plug-and-play, so I don't have to restart the computer to switch between drives. It's amazing. I am very excited. Thank you, Sergei!

Anyway, I obviously highly recommend it. It's ideal for photo and video, but could be used for anything. Not only is it economical, but and it's also much easier to store these smaller internal hard drives than the bulky external ones.

So, when this new system finally arrived, I got started...and then stalled....and then started again.

I was overwhelmed by the amount of footage I shot. We had about 15 different takes and angles for the band performance and cutting through all that footage kept preventing me from getting anything significant accomplished.

I finally pushed through, and I cut the last chorus (which has a different performance). That done, I moved on to attacking the main performance. I puttered around for a bit, played with some of the narrative stuff, and finally made my way back to the performance. I just barreled through it and finally got it cut over the weekend.

I forget whether or not I've already written about this on the blog, but in the early stages of editing every new project – guaranteed – I will get depressed about the footage I shot. I'll see mistakes - what I didn't shoot or how I should have done a shot in two takes instead of one. And then, I just have to sit down and figure out a way to edit what I shot, not what I wished I shot.

What I'm struggling with right now is finding a way to cut down the narrative footage. I could literally just have the narrative footage and not show the band. In fact, I probably have enough narrative footage to run through the song twice through. And still not show the band. So, I have to find a way to make space for everything and maintain the flow of the narrative.

Usually, I start by cutting things longer than they need to be and then trimming and trimming and trimming until it gets down to a place that works time-wise. I've gotten a large majority of the narrative filled in. There's a section at the beginning that's filled with random shots - the kid walking around, etc. - that's suppose to be a general mix of stuff, that I haven't tackled yet. Not to mention cutting in the random shots throughout the song as well. I also have to figure out how to cut the opening, a section I haven't even touched. The ending, however, is pretty much good to go.

My plan is to have a finished rough cut by Friday, send it to Tim to preview over the weekend, make changes towards the end of the weekend, have a fine cut by Monday night, and send it all off to color sometime next week.


Due to the music video, Travis and I haven't had a chance to really get together to write but we did meet up last week to discuss what's next.

It's funny because we wrote our first script together based on the only idea we had at the time. Then we wrote our second script, Glory Days, because that was the one idea we had next.

But now we have five different ideas that we could move on, and all of them are in different genres and industries:

We have a big feature comedy that we're halfway through (and got stuck on, resulting in us needing to go back to the initial drawing board).

We have an indie feature that we'd like to write, get funding, and I could then direct.

We have another indie feature, a very cheap one, but it needs rewriting, preferably from a playwright, which could be done very quickly. This is exciting to us because I also have strong leads to funding, and we would obviously like to take advantage of that.

Also, because of some connections I’ve recently established, we also have a very direct road into television. Working with a good friend of mine, we want to develop a TV show pitch, and take it into his boss. The great thing about this is that we wouldn't need to write the script on spec. Instead, we can put together a pitch, and if they like it, we can try pitching it to networks and get paid to write it, with this guy on board as an EP. So, that is a very real possibility if we have the right pitch and we want to try and take advantage of that avenue, since it's open to us.

Those are all very different things. What we've realized is that if we're not jazzed about something, we're not going to get anywhere with it. And that's what happened on the big comedy feature. We haven't written on that since July, when I did the W&CK video. We haven't actually written anything since then. Which is not good. I mean, I've been doing music videos, but music videos aren't going to get me a feature. So, it's important we keep working.


During all of this, because I've directed three projects in a row, I've started getting that itch to do something narrative. A feature is a long way off and even though I've sworn off shorts, I've got a couple ideas that might work every well, and now with the introduction of the RED camera, I can get a very high quality looking project for not that much money.

I had a long talk with my manager last night about this. The music videos just aren't really going to do much for me...but there is the potential to do something bigger off of a really successful short. I don't know. I've always thought that, to do a short now, it really has to be something simple and something special. In college, I could experiment and play around; but now, since I'm married and can't burn through my own cash the way I did in college, I didn't think shorts would be worth it.

But now, I'm rethinking that. I won't do one unless I think it's something very special, something unique, or something that could go out and do well. I have two short ideas that could be both, but I have to discuss it with Travis and see if it's interesting and worth it to us.


As I write this, I've just been informed of two things:

1) A friend of Travis's was at a meeting at a management company and saw the receptionist doing coverage on Glory Days! Ha!

2) This news is a bit more disappointing though. Travis told a friend of his, who read and really liked Glory Days, and who works for a big comedy director, about our feature comedy idea. Apparently, the director is attaching himself to an already greenlit picture of the same subject, and this friend recently read a script that, from what we can tell, is nearly identical to ours.

It's a bit disappointing, really. You spend several months working on something, only to hear that we shouldn't work on it anymore, because there's already several things out there, including a go picture.

I feel lost right now.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

3Questions: Matthew Krol - Editor at mtvU

As part of our continuing 3Questions series, I present Matthew Krol, a staff editor at mtvU. Most of the work he does revolves around the editing, finishing and delivery of various shows for air on MTV, MTV2 and mtvU.

HBAD: So, tell us, how did you get your start?

MK: I got my start interning for MTV back in 2005 during my senior year of college, but I have been editing projects both independently and professionally since I was 16. After my internship was over I knew a few producers in need of editors. After shopping my reel around, I ended up cutting Sucker Free on MTV along with a few other projects for the channel. Then in 2007, I heard of a staff editing gig opening up at mtvU. I went for it and I've been here ever since.

HBAD: What are the most difficult challenges you've encountered on your career path?

MK: The most difficult challenge I've encountered is not actually during my working hours, but rather managing my personal life outside of MTV. The required time I have to put in while editing network content is truly daunting. Sometimes on larger shows with shorter deadlines, I can pull upwards of 60 hour "days". And even my more regular hours are so unpredictable that 10 hour days can turn into 14 hour days on a whim. While the work itself is very rewarding, the erratic nature of the biz makes it hard to explain to my "9 to 5 friends/loved-ones" why I can't spend as much time with them as I'd like.

HBAD: What advice would you have for someone just starting out in this business, looking to get into editing?

MK: The main piece of advice I would give to any aspiring editor in high school or college is edit your freakin' brains out! Keep churning out projects and content as often as you can. Even if it's just fun stuff you created to pass the time. There is no better way to learn new tricks and hone your technique and work flow than to constantly be engaging in new projects. Especially those where, when you start them, you have no idea how on earth you're going to complete it. That's part of the challenge and the only way you'll grow as an editor.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Green Zone Trailer

I'm a huge fan of Paul Greengrass. I love the style he brings to his films, I love his handheld work, I love how he shoots action. All in all, he's a great director. So, I'll watch everything he makes (much like Michael Mann, as I've mentioned before).

I really didn't know a whole lot about The Green Zone when it was announced but I was happy to wake up this morning to the release of the trailer and I have to say, the film looks fantastic. Can't wait to see it.

Check out the trailer below:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How to make a Wild Thing

There's a fantastic article over at on process of making the Wild Things in Where the Wild Things Are, with the Jim Henson Creature Workshop taking the lead.

Unfortunately, for all I've been posting about it, I have yet to see the movie. I hope the wife and I can check it out next weekend.

Meanwhile, you can check out the article here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mateo - "Get To Know Me" Official Music Video

The video I directed and edited for MySpace artist Mateo has now been officially released on his MySpace page. I've embedded it below. I apologize for the quality. For some reason, the way MySpace encodes their video, even if it's from an HD master, just doesn't make it look very good. I have no idea why the quality sucks.

We originally shot the performance on the Canon 5D as part of Mateo's DVD for Get To Know Me: Live from Swing House. I took that footage and then edited in b-roll of Mateo on tour. I think it looks pretty good. However, none of the b-roll was shot by me. That was all Mateo, his manager for one of his friends.

I think the video turned out pretty well and I hope you enjoy it.

Get To Know Me (Live at Swing House)

MATEO -Get To Know Me LIVE EP out now! | MySpace Video

Friday, October 23, 2009

White & Crazy Kids - Get Your Drink On [Official Video]

Well, you've been able, if you tried, to see the W&CK Music Video I directed everywhere but here. However, it's safe to say that it's probably okay if I post it on the blog. And, as a treat, I'm not just posting any old upload but the one I uploaded to YouTube myself, which for some really, really strange reason is super high quality.

I'm extremely proud of the upload quality, which is another reason I want to show you guys. Anyway, finally, the official music video for White & Crazy Kids Get Your Drink On."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

3Questions: Erik Bork - TV Writer-Producer

As part of our continuing 3Questions series, I present Erik Bork, a writer-producer on Band of Brothers and From the Earth to the Moon.

"I'm a film and TV writer who comes up with ideas for movies and series pilots, and either writes the script "on spec" (i.e. nobody pays me and I hope to sell it when it's done), or I 'pitch' the idea (in television) to a chain of people starting with my agent and going up through producer, TV studio executives, and finally network executives -- and if it goes all the way, they pay me in advance to write the pilot script. Then, if I am very very fortunate, they decide to produce the pilot episode, and possibly beyond. I've been writing professionally for about ten years, including features, cable movies, and miniseries, much of which I was paid for but was
never produced.

He also runs the website, Flying Wrestler, where he provides professional script consultation and feedback. "He's not interested in telling you what’s wrong with your work. But he can and will coach you into making it better – more satisfying to you and more marketable professionally – from the point-of-view of a successful writer-producer who’s been where you are, and knows the process from the inside."

HBAD: So, tell us, how did you get your start?

EB: I worked my way up as a temporary office assistant on the 20th Century Fox lot, eventually landing as an assistant at Tom Hanks' production company, Playtone Productions. I got an agent by writing sample sitcom scripts (Frasier and Friends) on spec, and ultimately Tom Hanks read those and offered me a big promotion that led to me helping write and produce the HBO mini-series From the Earth to the Moon.

HBAD: What are the most difficult challenges you've encountered on your career path?

EB: Nobody ever loves my ideas or drafts of outlines or scripts as much as I want them to and I have to keep working on them! And often they don't sell at all, and if they do, they don't get produced.

HBAD: What advice would you have for someone just starting out in this business, looking to become a television writer?

EB: Keep writing things you love and be very open to feedback, especially from people who really know what they're talking about (and which you may have to pay for in some way, since they're busy and you don't yet have anything to offer them in return). Understand that it's a journey and it's all about improving your craft, which can take a long time and many scripts -- but that ultimately, if you stick it out, and reach a level where the marketplace would be interested, they will find you.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Gordon Paddison: Moviegoers 2010

There's a fascinating article over at IndieWire about the shape of Moviegoers in 2010. What does that mean? Well...

"The Moviegoers 2010 research study, from Stradella Road, is intended to provide film marketers with actionable insights into how to best reach movie consumers over the next decade. It was presented on Tuesday, September 29, 2009, at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills."

It's basically a breakdown of the movie going audience. Now, when you're creating your own thing, you can't rely too much on this kind of info because it seems like often, the breakout films tend to be the ones that defy reason and the data. But, it's an interesting read. And even if you don't pay attention to it...the people who buy your ideas, scripts, and movies, unfortunately, do.

Gordon Paddison: Moviegoers 2010

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tim and the Space Cadets - Music Video Shoot - Part 2

As part of this post, I've included a two part behind-the-scenes doc on shooting the video. I shot it with the flip cam and put it together quickly, so there's no interviews or anything...just gives you a little insight into what we did. The first part of it is below, followed by the blog. Part 2 is somewhere below.

Saturday, October 10th, 4AM
E 93rd St.

I wake up. I shower. I get dressed. It's extremely early and an hour later I find myself sitting on Tim's stoop, waiting for the pick up from Todd and Milos.

But perhaps the best thing about being up extremely early at this moment is that it's NOT raining.

Saturday, October 10th, 5:45 AM In the back of the grip truck.

I'm leaning against several equipment cases in the back of a CC Rentals truck on my way to set. (How do other director's get to set?) We are on our way to Montgomery PLACE, not STREET, even though we still have a permit for Montgomery St., and Todd and Milos will have to go get the two cops assigned to our shoot from Montgomery St and bring them over to Montgomery Pl and somehow tell them there was a mixup and even though our permit says one thing we're actually suppose to be doing this.

Saturday, October 10th, 6:15 AM On set.

We have a courtesy breakfast scheduled from 6:15 to 6:45, which is when official crew call is. While everyone is eating, I start telling people where we're going to set up the band performance. I meet with Richard, our AD, and Paul, the DP, to go over my shot list and the schedule for the day; Sergei, our Steadicam Operator, starts prepping the camera and his steadi rig; and Tim and his band begin setting up their equipment.

Mornings on set, for me at least, are always tough, especially when you're in a new location (meaning, you're not just coming back to a studio and starting where you left off) because I like to shoot, I don't like to wait around, and it usually just takes a little bit of time to get everyone and everything going.

It took us about an hour and half to get our first shot off, which is an angle on the guitar player for the performance section. For me, this felt like a really long time to get going, but to keep my sanity, I always check in with the AD and see how we're doing, since he's the one keeping the schedule for the day. Richard said this is about what he expected, so we're good.

We decided that we'd knock off the band performance first and the move onto the narrative. And, we had two performance pieces to get through. The first had the band in normal clothes singing the majority of the song. The second had a costume change, where they were now in their own low-rent, homemade superhero costumes, singing the last chorus, with the kids from the narrative dancing to the song with them.

These are some of the photos I've got from the shoot. If you want to see more, you can check them out here.

We finished shooting our performance around 11 AM. Now, when I sat down the day before and worked on my shot list, I took the treatment, and using the scenes I had written up, detailed out a list for each scene, as well as any random shots that I thought up or had written in the treatment.

However, because the rule of shooting is that you try and shoot everything you need in one location before moving on to the next, I couldn't just leave my list like this, because, for instance, the stoop appeared in three different scenes. I didn't want to keep coming back to it.

So, I prepare and organize myself, I took shots and grouped them by location and then scene. So, I had Stoop: Scene 3: Shot. Stoop: Scene 5: Shot. Etc. This way, when we were on the stoop, I was shooting everything I need at that time, and also KNEW what I needed to get. You follow me? Here's a scan of my shot list from the end of the day:

You guys get the idea. So, we just moved around in this fashion. I pretty much shot the majority of everything on the Steadicam, using it as a dolly, a tripod, and so on. Sometimes we broke off and got a little bit of handheld stuff, but we were just able to move much faster on the Steadi.

"Shoot this. Okay. Cut. Now, we're gonna shoot this. Ready? Roll. Action! Cut! Great. Next!"

Our two kids were not only extremely cute but were also real pros. Cameron, our Heroboy, who had just finished a Broadway run of Waiting for Godot with Nathan Lane. What?! Other than for lunch and a bathroom break in the middle of the afternoon we just kept shooting and shooting and shooting.

For one, I had to. We got a little behind and were racing to get everything done before the sun went down. We were also faced with some technical difficulties on set. Rather than use the RED harddrives, we were shooting on cards, which had to then be downloaded. For some reason, our card reader wasn't working correctly, and there was one point where I was told we only had enough storage space for 20 additional minutes of shooting. I was like...uh, what? Then it became about shooting as little as possible...and the problem with that, is that when you're working with kids, it's best to keep the camera running as much as possible, because, they're slightly uncontrollable and they're best when they're not trying to hard.

6:30 PM

We literally finished shooting all of our outdoor stuff around the time the sun set. We were out of light. Did I get everything that I wanted? No. Did I get a lot of great stuff? Yes.

However, even though the sun was down, we still had a few more shots to get, as you can see in Part II of the little making of below:

We finally finished and got it all done. Phew.

Everyone did an amazing job on the video and I can't wait to start editing it so I can show you guys the final result. In the meantime, I'll keep you updated on how editing is going.