Sunday, August 30, 2009

And Waitresses Learn to Hate Food

It's always tricky watching a movie when you're writing a movie. Good example of the worst case scenario: I was watching Empire Strikes Back with a friend last night just after she read the first draft of my script, and she decided to illustrate a point about a central conflict for the main character by saying "See - your movie should be more like that."

No movie should ever be compared to Empire because Empire is (arguably) the best movie ever, and my shitty first draft of a script should even more never be compared to Empire when I know there's a problem with the scenes with the dad character and I'm working on it, thank you. It's like if I tried to pick up chicks at the Cattyshack — it's a losing man's game.

Then there's the TV Tropes effect where you spend so much time thinking about media that you just spend the whole movie waiting for the act break, the page 45 analogy, the part on page 75 where the hero almost give up, blah blah blah.

But - sometimes! - you watch a movie and say "Aha! That part of that movie is great in EXACTLY THE SAME WAY as a similar part in my movie will be great!"

This just happened to me.

I am watching Sneakers, an old favorite of mine. Like my movie, Sneakers has a team of people working on a single thing. And it's a heist movie, so it's a team of quirky character actors. Oh, and the cast is fucking brilliant - like, Pres. Roslin, Sundance Kid and Ghandi brilliant.

Anyway, some of the greatest moments in this movie are when everybody these brilliant character actors get to just turn and react to something. There first time Robert Redford casually mentions Mary McDonnell, everyone just turns and looks at him.

It's a fucking genius moment. And, the best thing about this moment - super easy to write. I can watch this moment and think "Aha! I'll bet my movie will have a ton of moments where everyone turns around and looks at one of the other people! I can in some way be as good as Sneakers, one of my favorite movies!"

Now, if I can just work in some light saber battles ...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Action Action

Ugh. Action scenes are hard to write, but it's a sports movie so I have to end with one. I just want to finish this draft so I can get on with my life / start drinking.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

In The Loop and Dario Fo

I saw In The Loop and, one quick Google search later, I was very surprised that no one is comparing it to Dario Fo.

Maybe this is because In The Loop is still in limited release (spoilers ahead, by the way). Maybe it's because not too many people are still thinking about Dario Fo (if they even know who he is in the first place).

But In The Loop accomplishes very neatly what Accidental Death of an Anarchist did in its original context - get audiences laughing uproariously until they realize that the absurdities they're watching are very, very real.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Life Pilot, Pilot Light

Watching the first season of Life in bed with the fan on because it is too hot in New York to do a goddamn thing.

Season 2 ended in April and I'd forgotten how noticeable the light is in Life. Life is set in L.A. (I often refer to it as my novelty murder show) and the light is somehow very L.A. Bright, contrasty - almost blown out by default.

I started thinking about light this Summer because my fun, light, Spies shooting at each other Gabrielle-Anwar-with-no-bra-on Summer show is Burn Notice, which is set in Miami. Miami also has a very distinct light - I talked about it a bit here, or maybe that was Hawaii, same dif.

Now, USA put on a new show to follow Burn Notice, Royal Pains, and on the surface it seems like a good follow up. It's a Summer show, except instead of spy in Miami it's a doctor in the Hamptons. But it's a bit like a methadone dose - it's technically a substitute, but ultimately it just leaves you jonesing for the real thing.

I'm sure the creators of Royal Pains are sick of the comparisons, but it's hard not to make them and find RP has trouble stacking up. The biggest advantage Burn Notice takes is that its characters are more flawed and interesting.

But the contrast that always strikes me straight away is the light. The light in the Hamptons seems weak, diffused - less harsh, but less interesting. Where Burn Notice / Miami light is brutal, exotic, uncompromising, Hamptons light is doing the best it can with limited resources. It's like a Summer day in Oslo.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Writing Fail?

When you start thinking "maybe I am doing everything wrong," that's when it's a good time to stop writing for the day.

No good can come from taking that thought to any logical conclusion.

Friday, August 14, 2009

More Writing

I opened Final Draft and then got distracted by internet and then went back to Final Draft, and I saw a blank page and panicked.

What was really happening was that Final Draft had opened a blank document and I was looking at a blank document and not at my sports movie that I am writing. I figured this out and opened my sports movie (I am on page 66 of maybe 120.)

What happened before I had time to figure out what was happening was that I saw a blank page. A blank page is just very scary when you are writing something.