Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Hollywood is Talking recently reviewed the film, and interviewed me. Great review -- hence my posting the link here...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Conquering the Southeast

Florida has shown us lots of love so far, but South Carolina is getting in on the act. The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah will screen in competition this weekend at the Myrtle Beach International Film Festival!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Off for a few days...

I'm off to Florida for the next few days, for the festival premiere of my film. I'm hoping and praying for nothing more than a decent crowd at the screening. I wouldn't mind winning an award, but I'd just be happy to have an appreciative audience.

So I'll write up a festival update when I return, and I'll hopefully have good news on the script front, as well (hoping... praying...)

First JONESING Update

Not much of a surprise (to me) but about 4 producers got back to Agent (already!) saying that Jonesing is too dark.

Yeah, hence the genre designation 'dark comedy.' I used to call it 'black comedy' until a former manager asked me if I wanted to cast Morgan Freeman. Sigh.

So, obviously I'm not thrilled to hear people not going for the script because they think it's too dark, but I think it's a matter of finding the right small/indie-type producer who goes for this kind of stuff. For the bigger companies, this would be a writing sample for me, more than likely.

But I'm fairly sure a buyer will have to come from the smaller, specialty-division or indie world. But, you know, what do I know? I'm all for more people reading it.

I do know that the southern California landscape is littered with projects deemed 'too something' by the major players, and the ones that survive and get made have to go through all those rejections before finding the right person.

I know the script is good; I know the writing is solid. The positive side of this is that I'm getting read at major companies -- this is not a minor thing, at least to my thinking. It took me a while to get here, and ultimately took the right relationship/friendship and the right timing, and I'm pleased that it's happening at all.

But a sale would be, in the words of N. Dynamite, sweet.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

More Love From Florida, and some script news

What is it about Floridians and American Messiah?

The Sunscreen Film Festival actually did NOT invite the film to screen there, but I was told today that they only had seven slots for features, and that we were in their top ten features. So, they would like us to screen at a 'to-be-named' film society event later this year.

In other news, the Circle Cinema, an art house theatre in Tulsa, OK, inquired about screening at their theatre. We're still discussing details...

On the screenplay front: Jonesing went out to about 25 production companies today, and I am remarkably tension-free about it (this is largely due to the fact that I've been in bed since Sunday with a nasty case of food poisoning -- it's hard to worry about what people think of your work when you're struggling just to hold down your crackers and generic-brand-version-of-Sprite.

The most intriguing thing in the script process, at the moment, is that it's being tracked. That means that prodco execs are posting about the script on secret 'tracking boards' to which only they have access. This can be either a good thing or a bad thing. If a few early readers trash your script on a tracking board, it can really sour things for later readers.

On the other hand, if it gets good feedback, it could mean good things. So it still all depends on the script, I suppose.

The interesting thing, for me, is that there's a tingle of excitement about the idea that people are reading my work and talking about it. Granted, it could be bad news, and it could screw up a sale, but I'm just not going to worry about it or think like that (at this point).

Interestingly, my friend (who hooked me up with the agent and whose script was just optioned by a major production company) nver got tracked back when his script went out. He thought it was potentially a good thing, and we're both preferring to be pleased and hopeful rather then worrisome about it.

At this point.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


I spent the last two days putting new blank dual-layer DVDs in the duplicator, one after another (every 45 minutes or so) to make almost 20 copies I needed to get out to various festivals, reviewers, and an indie filmmaker (who is better known than me) who agreed to take a look at it.

I ran out of DVD cases, DVD case inserts, and various other supplies. My hands cramped from writing my ridiculously long title on the DVDs with a black sharpie. Why, oh why, did I have to fall in love with a title that's as long as the movie?

Back to work... anxiously awaiting next week when my script goes out...

Monday, April 10, 2006

Finally, an idea worth pursuing

I finally had an idea that I'm excited about. Not only that, but it kind of flew into my head fully-formed.

It's not a feature script idea. It's a short film idea, and I'm very excited about it. Which is nice, because it gives me something to focus on as rejections for my film come pouring in.

Two more today. That's a bummer.

When you get rejected by a fest that you had never heard of before applying, and which in its rejection letter tells you about how it received "over 300 entries," I'm not sure if I should feel like I'm not missing anything, or ridiculously frustrated because I couldn't even get into THAT festival.

No, I'm sure. It's the latter.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Ten Verbs Meme

I've been officially tagged by pooks, so here are the first 10 verbs from one of my scripts. Since Jonesing goes out in a week or so, I'll do that one.

  1. stands
  2. pulls
  3. lights
  4. hears
  5. turns
  6. looks
  7. sits
  8. is
  9. stands
  10. dresses (as in 'dresses him down')

Okay, not sure what, if anything, that says about me and/or my writing.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Script Award

I just found out that JONESING won a Silver Remi Award for comedy scripts at Houston WorldFest.

Indie Film Distribution Issues

I SHOULD be picking textbooks for fall semester courses (Postproduction, Directing, and Screenwriting) -- I'm never 100% happy with my textbook choices, so I change them up almost every time I teach a course, and I'm hoping I'll find the perfect (or near-perfect) mix sometime soon and not have to read several new ones right around the busiest time of every semester in order to get textbook orders in by the deadline (which is always months before I've even started thinking about the next ssemester's courses).

But I'm not doing that. I'm reading and re-reading all the various blog and news entries about the controversy related to the theatrical release of indie filmmaker Caveh Zahedi's latest feature film, I Am a Sex Addict.

I wasn't familiar with Zahedi's work until Sujewa started blogging about him. He sounds like a fascinating filmmaker, and his latest sounds like a really challenging and interesting piece.

But that's not the main issue of the day. The issue is rather that Landmark Theaters decided, a mere five days before the release date, to pull the film from its theaters. Why? It's complicated and rather convoluted, but ultimately it boils down to a dispute between Mark Cuban (who owns Landmark Theaters as well as HDnet) and Comcast. Comcast is apparently partnering with Zahedi's distributor, IFC Films, to release the film via Video-on-Demand on Comcast.

But Mark Cuban doesn't want a film playing in his theaters and also on Comcast. Why, you ask? Isn't Mark Cuban in favor of day-and-date release (as he proved by pioneering the whole concept with the release of Steven Soderbergh's Bubble in theaters and on DVD and HDnet all basically at the same time)?

Yes, he is very much in favor of this. But Comcast won't carry HDnet. And Mark Cuban won't have his theaters showing a film that is simulataneously being broadcast (VoD) on a cable company's system that won't also partner with his other company.

Zahedi himself has blogged about this extensively (you should really go back to the post titled Dear Mr. Mark Cuban, which is Zahedi's open letter to Cuban, and then read all the posts and comments after that. And Mark Cuban responded on Zahedi's blog, and also on GreenCine's post about it. I'm a latecomer to blogging about it, but the issue has been on my mind a lot the last few days, so I decided to write about it now (side note: some people have way more time to blog and devotion to blogging than I do)

I supposse Cuban has a reasonable position, given his particular business interests.

But it sure seems as if the main person losing out is an indie filmmaker who desperately wants to see his award-winning underground opus hit the screens. And there's more to any business decision than JUST business. Businesses tend to hide behind the importance of the 'bottom line' to excuse decisions that might be unfair or unethical. Sure, this might cost HDnet and Mark Cuban some money, but what's actually the right thing to do? Is there a hard-and-fast right or wrong? Or is it all a matter of perspective?

Speaking of perspective, I must admit that I sympathize with Zahedi. I can't imagine what it would feel like to be in Zahedi's position, to be on the brink of perhaps your biggest career success, and to have the proverbial rug pulled out from under you by something completely out of your control. Not only is it out of his control, but it has nothing to do with his film, its quality, or people's opinion of it. It is strictly a business decision related to large media companies and their disputes.

I have no great insight here. I am a lowly indie filmmaker who just finished his first feature, and at this point I'm just hoping to get it into decent festivals, get it seen, and get to the point where people want to distribute it to a wider audience.

But I have a feeling that this issue, as its becoming more public, is going to impact the way indie filmmakers and distributors do business.

The good news is that other independent theaters have stepped up to make sure the film will get its theatrical premiere on schedule. And who knows, maybe the publicity of the whole issue will get the film a larger audience. But I know I'd be pretty frustrated by this if it were happening to me. It's something sort of out of an absurdist play. I can almost see Beckett's characters going through something like this...

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

April 18th - a day that will go down in... something

The date is more or less official. The Agent takes JONESING out to production companies on April 18th. Between now and then, we'll settle on which production companies from a long list of really cool places (I'm basing 'coolness' strictly on the movies they've produced; I don't know the players personally).

I'll update as info comes in. Of course, I'll be at a film festival screening my film when all this goes down. Which is pretty cool, actually.

Spicy News

Sad news today: Tostitos is discontinuing its Spicy Queso Party Bowl. Okay, it's only sad for me, who has become addicted to this stuff.

On the positive side, I learned I have the coolest wife in the world. When she found out the sad spicy queso news, she promptly bought out the grocery store (they had 10 left) so that my addiction can last a few more months. She labeled them from 10 to 1, so I could do a final spicy queso countdown.

Goodbye, Spicy Queso Party Bowl. We shall miss thee.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Florida Must Love Us...

...because another film festival in the Sunshine State has invited The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah to screen there.

This one is the South Regional 'Indie Gathering' Film Festival, in Ft. Lauderdale in mid-June.

Thanks, Florida! We love you, too.