Lure Of The Silver Screen

Redacted...!As my writing career matures, I luckily get involved in more interesting ways to utilize my talents. For example, during this past year, I’ve finally taken the plunge and surmounted the screenwriting learning curve. It took a couple of weeks and several 3 AM nights digging into the Celtx software and pushing on. With the guiding spark of an old friend and inspired collaborator, Dominick Jerry, the two of us have produced 3 screen plays in the 8 months. Really excellent synergy.

Dom and I are old friends, with a remarkable working vitality. Getting together to write with an express purpose adds a whole extra dimension of satisfaction, instead of just meeting up for a pint. He’s a genius of visual story, whether it is westerns, television sci-fi gangster drama, or professional wrestling rivalries.

A rare sighting of the man.When I get hung up on some conflict in a scene and wonder what the characters will do, I get stuck thinking in prosey terms, indirect even at its most direct. Dom just gets it, “Sam hits him over the head with a shovel. Cut scene.” Yes! Of course! Why didn’t I think of that? Because I’m all prosed out. Screen writing is bare bones visual instructions. Stay out of the director’s way, give over the essence of the characters and the story, and keep your voice out of it. It is an interesting paring away of style, to reveal the substance beneath.

Another interesting thing about screenwriting is that it is only the earliest glimmer of the movie-making process, with an emphasis on process. Coming from a book publishing standpoint, I am accustomed to a long, solitary labor with culminates in one impeccable document. When that document is done, I’m done with the task.

But screenplays are like collaborative notepads, they are constantly being reworked and rethought and tinkered with. Also, screenplays are never written for a large audience, especially at the early stages, you are never writing for more than 20 or 30 people, max.

As utilitarian as screenwriting is, the strict parameters force room for art. But you’ve got to be creative, to squeak it in past all of the necessaries. A creativity within the creativity, to make the screen writing prose, scant as it is, lean and engaging as possible. Tiny, apt descriptions, a few drops of art, and move on. That part is fun. Also, unlike a book, you’re not writing to the audience; you’re writing to about 20 or 30 filmmaker people, most you haven’t met yet. If they buy it, they can do whatever they want.

But the process is interminable. You don’t publish a screenplay. If anyone is going to read yours, it’s because you’ve persuaded them to read it. Pavement must be pounded, relentlessly. That bit gets exhausting, and really lowers the odds that I’m actually going to get something I wrote produced. I’m not committed to the follow through, that’s more Dom’s realm. I can crank on the story factory, but the industry footwork is more his realm. 8 months and 3 screenplays later (one television season and two feature films), I hit a wall. Mostly because I was neglecting my own projects and needed to get back in the salad. But we’ve got our factory set up now, and will resume seasonally to fill our screenplay stable.

Now that's a pitch, Ed!


The beauty of the experience is that now I can write screenplays. I enjoyed learning something. And we’ve gotten unsolicited, professional Hollywood feedback that our screenplays are good, and improving.

During the process of writing these screenplays, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with people of different levels of accomplishment in Hollywood film production, from a careerist TV actor, to an ILM visual effects producer, and to others with more near-miss experiences (which teach a lot).

One perspective it gave me on the current state of the film industry is that directors and producers are more interested in books than screenplays. If they’re a big outfit, they’ve got a whole stable of screenwriters who are practiced hands at adapting any book to the screen. I’m probably have a better chance of getting through to a film maker by writing a book they hear about, rather than try to peddle them my own screenplay.

If I consider the film business seriously, it is laughable that I will suddenly storm the scene with a blockbuster when there are 100,000 other writers in Hollywood who have been in line for 20 years, writing screenplays the whole time. Even if my shit were that good, their dibs on the scene would elbow me out of the way. But as I said, process, process, process.

For me, the time spent with Dom is the most rewarding part. Onward and upward, my man!

Thank you for reading. Reading Rules!

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An Author Abroad

The world at your fingertipsLots of firsts this year. There are lots of places I have never been; most, in fact. And two of those places, until this past spring, were Dublin, Ireland, and Paris, France. Yes, what a fairy tale, to visit both, back to back, over the course of a month.

It was a dream come true and I lived it this year, with my starshine wife Lucie as my traveling companion. We took a month off and traveled abroad, arm in arm. It was romantic, enriching, rewarding, and a wicked dose of tons of fun.

On the road again...I have much to say about each place, as you can imagine, but I can’t say it all here. Dublin was like a home away from home, and Paris was a place beyond imagining; I only thought I’d been to cities until I’d been to Paris. My travels to these municipal homes of venerable beauty and culture produced a great deal of writing, and that is part of an exciting announcement.

Before setting out on my European travels, I was chatting with my editor Ryan, who at the time was reading Steinbeck’s Travels With Charley, and fully enamored with the master writer. “You’ve got to write a travel journal,” he urged. “People love travel journals.” “You’re right. That’s a good idea.” I took three blank journals with me, and a sketch book.I come stacked!On the trip I wrote nearly every night before bed. During the day, I carried around my sketch book and captured the world around me in small visual intervals, seldom giving myself more than 20 minutes to draw a scene. As for the journals, I wrote at night, usually before bed and filled all three of them. Hundreds of pages, and it was a pure joy.And a sketch book...As the weeks progressed I built up stamina and found that I was able to produce as many as 20 or 25 pages a night at the height of it. (Here, I give another thankful nod to those NaNoWriMos I trooped through. They really helped raise my threshold for how much I could write in a day, once I committed to it.)

The good news is, the announcement is: two new books! Imagine a writer’s first impression of two of the most beautiful and beloved cities in Europe. The raw beauty embedded in them; I was writing during the first time I’d ever been to either of these iconic places. A traveler only ever gets to do it for the first time once. There’s nothing I could miss, or should have seen, or need not see, because I was awash in all of it; a fresh dunk head first into Dublin, then Paris.Never get used to being alive.These delightful and unprecedented experiences have produced two new travel books, chock full of photographs and sketches. The Dublin and Paris travel journals are currently in the formatting mill, and due for release soon.  Stay tuned for dates.

Ah, Paris...

Thank you for reading. Reading rules!

Posted in Authors and Writing, Books, Reflection and Personal Knowledge, Ryan Hurtgen, Sociey and Culture, The Writing Profession, Travel Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Perfect Beings’ Next Horizon

"Moon Dreams" Ryan's latest meditation album...You may have heard me speak before of my editor, Ryan Hurtgen. He was born a musician, but has a powerful literary, artistic, and historic range. This makes for some remarkable creative synergies (with our automated horizon, a most valuable currency).

Ryan works all the time. Whether it is writing new music, rehearsing a piece, booking and management, sound engineering, producing in studio, working on a painting, or listening to a predecessor in his current genre, Ryan works all the time.

Conscientiousness goes a long way. His latest project, Perfect Beings, has recently recorded their third album, a touchstone moment for a fully crowd-sourced labor of love. But dig this, it runs deeper. It gets bigger. The latest news from Perfect Beings‘ website:

We are excited to announce that Perfect Beings have just signed with renowned prog-rock label InsideOut. A new album will be released in early 2018.

The beat goes on...

That’s right, Perfect Beings has signed a multi-record deal with InsideOut records, (distributed globally through Sony). A record deal with a prominent label! How must that feel?

Ink it!Ryan and I have spoken a bit about Perfect Beings signing a record deal after years of successful crowdfunding. Also, how it feels to achieve this goal – the coveted distribution deal – set out for long ago when he left Hillsborough, Missouri for Nashville, Tennessee, to make his way in the music business.

Because of so many incremental steps of growth that lead to this goal, reaching the actual goal did not feel as dramatic as he imagined it would. “There were many small steps along the way, and I had to take each one, and this was the next one. ”

The man signed.He said it felt a lot more pragmatic. “After all these years, my perspective is broader. There is plenty of work to do.”

Jesse's shooting star...Now to mobilize the business end of the Perfect Beings enterprise. Time to play the festivals, refashion marketing campaigns, hire the right people. More work, but work he cares about. Labor of love makes good, I say. Way to keep at it, Perfect Beings!

Toodle over to the Perfect Beings website and get your rock on!

Thank you for reading. Reading rules!

Posted in Art and Artists, jesse nason, johannes luley, Music and Musicians, perfect beings, Reflection and Personal Knowledge, Ryan Hurtgen | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment