Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Hollywood Interview Blog

I just discovered a great blog called The Hollywood Interview created by writers Alex Simon & Terry Keefe. According to the blog, "Every week, we log many hours interviewing the top actors, directors, and writers in Hollywood. Here you'll find some of those great Q&A's, plus some entertainment industry news and our musings on this business of show."

They have a great interview up there now with director Scott Hicks. Check it out here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Enough with the Backstory Rationing!

Noel Murray over at the AV Club has a great article on "backstory rationing," essentially asking us screenwriter's for "no more movies that are so preoccupied with how to convey the characters’ backstories that they forget to tell the story-story."

Per the blog, "At this year’s Toronto fest I saw a Swedish film called The Ape that opens with a man covered in blood, then proceeds to show how he tries to make it through an ordinary day. Why all the blood? We don’t find out right away. Instead, we watch him fumble around, obviously distressed. But not knowing his secret doesn’t really add much value to the first half of the movie, beyond making us wonder how long we’re going to have to wait for answers. And in some ways, it’s a dramatic mistake that writer-director Jesper Ganslandt doesn’t tell us right away why the hero’s in trouble. It ultimately makes no difference to the story when we find out, and being kept in the dark prevents us—or prevented me, anyway—from seeing much irony or tension in all the scenes of a guy aimlessly driving around."

Check out the full article here and be careful about creating a movie that is only there to reveal backstory.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Update: W&CK, Mateo and the Space Cadets

Wow, it has a been a while since I've not only posted but provided an update. Part of that reason is because I was traveling a lot of over the last two weeks, to Wisconsin to visit my grandparents (and go on indoor water slides) and to Florida for a wedding, and then Savannah, GA because my wife and I have never been and have heard good things.

But now I'm back and do have a few updates for you:

W&CK:

First of all, W&CK is going very well, even though the video hasn't actually been released yet. I've been told that the video promo packages have all been sent out to the various outlets, which means that you will hopefully be able to catch it on TV for a split second, as you channel surf through MTV and VH1 because, hey, they don't play music videos anymore.

As I know which channels (if any) it ends up playing on, I will post it here.

So, apparently, it's had 48 different "adds" (meaning, website posting it) and has received over 100,000 combined views. Top that all off, "Get Your Drink On" is one of the top 5 most requested songs on college radio -- nationwide. Now, if you went to a college where you weren't even aware that you had a college radio station (as I did) this might not seem like a big deal, but apparently, there are some awesome college radio stations out there, reaching listeners way beyond the quad, so this is a very good thing. Considering that college kids are their target audience, this is very good news.

MATEO:

Meanwhile, the DVD for Mateo Live at Swing House has been released. I've held off posting anything because they were holding out for exclusives, but now that things have started trickling out, I can finally throw something up here. Below are some still images from the shoot:









































Now, these are stills taken directly from the footage, not taken separately from a different camera. We used the Canon 5D to shoot the show and as you can see, the footage looks incredible. The album is currently available on iTunes and we hope to have the DVD available for download to your iPods and iPhones soon. I'm not sure if you can purchase the DVD from Mateo yet or not but it is available on his tour. Go to Mateo's website to check it out.

In addition to all this, I've been hired to take the footage I shot at the show and edit it together with behind the scenes doc footage to create a music video for one of the songs Mateo played that night "Get To Know Me" which will then, hopefully, be going out to various outlets.

NEW MUSIC VIDEO:

On October 10th and 11th I'll be in New York shooting a music video for Tim and the Space Cadets. The Tim is Tim Kubart, a friend of mine from Fordham who was in The Beautiful Lie and Making the Team (he played Gram). He was the guitarist in The Jimmies before moving on to form his own group. I'll be directing the video for his single "Superhero." I'm looking forward to it. It's a sweet little story. The lead will be played by a little kid (I've never worked with kids, so this should be something new and good for me, as I have a feature idea right now that would star a kid, and I could use the practice) and we'll be shooting in Brooklyn. Any chance I get to go back to New York, I'll take.

I'm reteaming with Todd Wiseman of Hayden 5 Media who will be producing the video (they previously produced Esfand's video for me) and, of course, DP extraordinaire Paul Niccolls, who will be doing the good stuff on the camera.

I'll be flip camming myself and blogging during the shoot, so tune back in for more info and goodies.

Glory Days:

While I was on vacation in Florida, I had a conference call with the producer of Glory Days. We're still looking for a home for the script. The environment right now is very tough and we're really trying to go the smart route. Travis and I are in no rush and we'd rather slowly build a team (agent, star, studio) and get this film made rather than rush it out to a terrible spec market and have it fall flat and be dead on arrival.

I don't know if you caught the news, but Universal Studios announced that it wouldn't be buying anything else this year. After a terrible summer, it's out of money. And this is a project that would be perfect for Universal. So, why rush it out when they can't even bid?

We've decided to continue giving it to people we have close relationships until the new year. While doing that, Travis and I will be working on our latest comedy, to get that finished so we're more appealing to agents, and then re-evaluate come 2010 when all signs show that things will be getting a little better.

Having gotten this far with our script, it's amazing to see the actual process. I mean, we have a bonafide producer on our project, people in town are reading it, and a lot of people like it...but we just came out with it in one of the worst economic environments ever. And rather than getting antsy and pushy, we have to weather the storm and wait for it to either land on the right desk or the right time.

But we'll get there. We all want the movie to get made, rather than just sold, which is why we're taking our time. We're playing it smart. But, we do have a big agent reading it this weekend, so fingers crossed.

The Musical:

Travis recently finished the treatment/outline for our musical. He submitted it to our manager last week, who read it, loved it, and just had some quick fixes. Travis is working on that this weekend and then it sounds like next week we'll start going out with it. I can't go into too much detail about it right now but I will as soon as I can. Either way, we're making headway on it, which is exciting. From what I know, when our manager is really into something, he gets things done.

That's it for now. Wow...that was a lot.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Will Resume Posting Next Week

Hey guys,

Just got back from my trip to Florida and Savannah, GA. I will resume posting on Monday.

Josh

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sex in a Submarine

I just found a great Hollywood/screenwriter blog called "Sex on a Submarine." The blog is authored by screenwriter William Martel.

As he puts it, "I've written 19 films that were carelessly slapped onto celluloid: 3 for HBO, 2 for Showtime, 2 for USA Net, and a whole bunch of CineMax Originals (which is what happens when an HBO movie goes really, really wrong). I've been on some film festival juries, including Raindance in London (twice - once with Mike Figgis and Saffron Burrows, once with Lennie James and Edgar Wright). Roger Ebert discussed my work with Gene Siskel on his 1997 "If We Picked The Winners" Oscar show. I'm quoted a few times in Bordwell's great book "The Way Hollywood tells It". My USA Net flick HARD EVIDENCE was released on video the same day as the Julia Roberts' film Something To Talk About and out-rented it in the USA. I've also written a whole bunch of theatrical projects that never got made (I got paid) and was stupid enough to actually *turn down* the job of adapting Dan Brown's ANGELS & DEMONS. On the personal side - I'm single and fat and 6 foot 4 inches tall. Like dogs, hate cats."

Follow his Adventures in Hollywood over at Sex on a Submarine.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sparse Posting for the next week

Hey everyone,

I wanted to let you know that posting will be light at best for the two weeks as I'm going on vacation. This doesn't happen often but when it does, I like to check out completely. However, when I get back, there should be lots of good news to report, and I'm excited to hopefully be sharing it with you.

I will try and post something if I see it, but any personal posts will be on hold for a bit.

Best,
Josh

Thursday, September 10, 2009

3Questions: Adam Stein - TV Writer

As part of our continuing 3Questions series, I present Adam Stein, a former writer on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

He started out as a "writer’s assistant for seasons 3 and 4 of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. During that time I wrote a season 4 episode. After season 4 finished I pitched a TV show idea to the sunny writer/producer/actors (Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton, Charlie Day). They liked the idea and the four of us went on to create the pilot Boldly Going Nowhere (kind of “The Office” meets “Star Trek”) for 20th Century Fox. It wasn’t picked up, is technically being redeveloped, but I’m not holding my breath. Since then I’ve been taking meetings, pitching shows, etc."

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

AS: I graduated from USC in 2006 with a bachelor’s in creative writing. After college, I was trying to find any job in the industry. Luckily, I ended up in the mailroom at 3 Arts Entertainment which is a management/production company. As such, they manage all three Sunny Executive Producers and produce the show. Working there I found out “Sunny” was beginning to look for writers for their then 3rd season. I said “what the hell” and decided to write a sunny spec script. (Na├»ve at the time, I should point out usually when you submit for a show, you do NOT submit a script of that show). I gave my script to the assistant of the manager who represents the Sunny EP’s. The assistant then gave it to the manager.

As the story goes, the Sunny EPs were in their manager’s office, reading scripts to find writers for the upcoming season. They picked up mine off the manager’s desk, read it, like it, and asked to set up a meeting with me. A little young and inexperienced to be a full fledged writer, they offered me the writer’s assistant position which I quickly accepted.

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

AS: It’s hard to get your foot in the door. It’s even harder to slam it open. By this I mean that even after you get your first job, or your first script, your work isn’t done. One of the most common misnomers is that once you have an agent you can sit back and let the work come to you. This isn’t the case. A manager or agent can help, but they should be only one weapon in your arsenal. You are still your best chance for success.

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

AS: It’s obvious, but write a lot. I know lot of people who say they want to be writers or say they are writers, but they don’t write. Or they have one spec script of “The Office” that’s now been outdated by changes in the show. Always be writing.

Second, take internships, go to networking events, and meet people. Very few people break into the industry in a vacuum. Call it nepotism or call it networking, but it helps to know people. And with everyone and their mother (literally) on Facebook these days, there’s a ready made system to keep in contact with people, even if they’re ten or twenty years older.

Third, take some chances. Not everybody in the mailroom can get a script to EPs, and more times than not, you’d probably get scolded, potentially even fired for approaching someone with a script. But you know what the result will be if you do nothing. Be proactive in your quest to become a writer, actor, and everything in between.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

W&CK "Get Your Drink On" Music Video Launch

It should soon be available on YouTube, MySpace, and hopefully MTV (we don't know yet) but if you've been dying to see the music video for "Get Your Drink On" by the White & Crazy Kids that I directed then I'll let you in on a little secret.

Ready?

You can check out the video at here, in the video section of W&CK's website. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Level 26: Dark Origins















So, I found out about this a few weeks ago but thought it would be more timely to post the day it launches. Many of you know Anthony Zuiker as the creator of CSI and all it's spinoffs. If you don't know who he is, you should. CSI, CSI:Miami and CSI:New York are consistently the highest rated shows on the television and he's a powerhouse in the TV industry.

As one of his first projects, post-CSI, Anthony created Level 26, the world's first Digi-Novel™. From Level26.com, the concept behind the Digi-Novel™ is this: "As you read the book, you'll see calls-to-action that direct you to this website to enter codes that unlock Cyber-bridges. These cinematic Cyber-bridges take the experience to the next level, immersing you in the action and putting you inside the minds of a twisted serial killer and the man sent to take him down."

It's pretty cool. The book debuts today, September 8th.

Here's the trailer for the series:

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Dead Weather's "Treat Me Like Your Mother" Music Video

Very simple, interesting and effective video. I love the subtleties in it, especially the bullet holes in the end. Enjoy!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Wordless Communication

There's a great blog post over at the Guardian UK film blog page about the skill of telling a story without dialogue. Too often, young filmmakers make the mistake of letting the dialogue tell the story when it should be the pictures.

From the site:

"These days, cinema has found its voice. Films have layer upon layer of sound: voice tracks, music tracks, background noise. But sometimes, even now, a quiet scene has a resonance impossible to achieve with words; the right gesture or expression can cut you to the quick in the way a killer line never could.

To me, it's always seemed very brave to resist the temptation to spell out every detail, to let the images speak for themselves. So, this week, let's honour the courageous directors who've done just that: we're looking for scenes in which characters communicate dialogue-free. This week's Clip joint speaks volumes without words."

You can read the post here.

Have a great labor day weekend!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

3Questions: Kirstie Bingham - Script Supervisor

As part of our continuing 3Questions series, I present Kirstie Bingham, a script supervisor who has worked for such shows and movies as 90210, Big Shots, and Captivity.

As a script supervisor, she oversees "continuity on the set but it entails much more. I keep detailed notes of everything that is shot and provide those notes to the editor. My primary responsibility as far as continuity goes is what would be referred to as action continuity - when did they stand, which way did they walk, when did they pick up the glass, etc. In addition, I back up all other departments in regards to continuity - was the top button of his shirt buttoned? Is that the same book that she had in the last scene? I interact with the director, getting his preferences on takes shot, notating any directorial comments, along with technical issues or problems, for each take.

"With the camera department, I provide slate numbers for each take and then also circle printed takes on the camera reports. I also keep an eye on dialogue and note any variations from the script that an actor does and/or go in and correct an actor for any dialogue issues. In a nutshell, I'm the editor's and writer's representative on set, for the writers making sure that the dialogue is correct (enough) that the story is shot as intended and for the editors making sure that what is shot can be cut together at the end of the day."

HBAD: How did you get your start?

KB: I am a recovered actor and a former project manager at Microsoft and Nordstrom. In New York, when I quit acting, I wanted to direct film, so I PA'd on a short. I AD'd my next short (a film by Joshua Caldwell!) and then the next short I got hired to AD, but then they had another ad and asked me to script supervise...and I was hooked.

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

KB: When I was first starting out there were no teachers in New York, or very few, and the classes were either expensive or seemed to come at times when I had just booked a film and couldn't take the class. So, I learned a lot by reading everything I could, asking dumb questions and making a lot of mistakes. I was lucky in that I had a lot of fantastic people who helped me along the way but it would have been much easier to take a class and start ahead of the game.

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

KB: If someone is looking to script supervise, I would look around your area for people who are wanting to do a short film and ask if you can script supervise. Do any job you can for free to get experience and gradually people will start paying you. There is a great book on script supervising by Pat Miller called Script Supervising and Film Continuity that I definitely recommend. There is also a Yahoo! Continuity group. If you're seriously interested in becoming a script supervisor it is a great resource.

Start reading everything you can, start practicing and make the mistakes. If you live near a big city, contact the IATSE local for script supervisors in your area (Local 161 in New York, Local 871 in LA but there are others around the country in most big cities) and see if you can find someone who'd be willing to mentor you. And you ask every question you can think of!