Life in LA; It’s the Economy Stupid

Sorry I’ve been quiet a while, crazy couple of weeks. I went to SC this weekend. I’m trying to put together a budget and business proposal for Bible Con, with plans to shoot it in SC. I think it can be done on a low enough budget that raising the money myself is feasible. I don’t know that I’ve described the story here, so have my logline:

Bible Con — Comic Con for Christians — goes straight to hell when Jesus and Mary Magdalene fall in love, the keynote speaker turns out to be an atheist, and the event is besieged by DaVinci Code fans.

It’s Best in Show meets The Life of Brian.

Nicholl Semi-Finalist, Movie Script Contest Finalist

I’m trying to do a rewrite now, but the drama in my life is making it difficult to concentrate on. I know too many unemployed people is basically what the deal is. One of my roommates is having to give up on LA and drive back home, selling all of her possessions to afford the trip. My other roommate is also unemployed, but theoretically has something coming up. Obviously, not a happy situation. And my closest friends can’t find jobs either.

And as much as I hate logging, and as much as it doesn’t pay me enough to live off of, I guess at least it’s something. Admittedly, the idea of getting my own project off the ground is probably all that’s standing between me and the cratering depression my current economic state brings on.

I’ve gotten a couple more requests that I haven’t kept up on posting. Maybe I’ll do that at some point.

Airlines: Does anyone understand?

Actually, it’s kind of sad. They had the flight attendants selling Visa cards up and down the aisles before take off.

There should be some sort of public health announcement that you shouldn’t wear ass loads of perfume and/or cat hair when you fly. Actually, those should just be rules for life. I’d like to buy hypoallergenic seats in the plane.

And another thing. When I was booking tickets, it was going to cost me like 150 more to be on the flight at 7:40AM out of Charlotte instead of the 9:45 one. But when I get to the airport and say “Can I switch?” They’re like “Yeah, there’s 50$ baggage switchy fee. You down?” And I’m like “Yes. And also wtf.”

Maybe my H1N1 live vaccine will infect everybody.

Lost Weekend

I had a weekend that was no good for writing. I’ve set myself a deadline of end of Thanksgiving holiday for a rewrite of Bible Con and a Polished first draft of Dyke for a Day. I had time to work on it this weekend because all of my editing projects are floating in nebulous waiting for other people to do things. But I didn’t work because my shoulder is messed up. This didn’t make it impossible to write, but it was really uncomfortable to sit in front of my computer or look down. It’s still killing me. Maybe I should start dictating.

Instead, I just watched a lot of Christopher Hitchens. I try to imagine the God/No God debate from the other point of view and find I just cannot. Cannot imagine it. I suppose I am like Hitchens, I never lost my faith, I just realized I didn’t have it. I was eight, I found all my teeth that I’d lost in my mom’s room (why she kept them, I don’t know). And there it was, proof that there was no tooth fairy. And that meant no Easter Bunny, no Santa Claus, and no Jesus.

I am going back to Columbia, SC this weekend. Doing the red-eye Wednesday night/Thursday morning. I’m seriously considering trying to raise money and film my feature in SC. I think it could be done for a modest budget, and I think the idea of a Native Daughter shooting in SC is something that could raise some money. I have a lot of connections there, including with the university. I hold secret hopes that somehow I could tie it into the university and get a lot of young people involved with the production. There aren’t a lot of opportunities in film in South Carolina.

Maybe I’ll get some writing done on the plane. We’re going to not put odds on this.

I started watching Jeeves and Wooster. I highly recommend it.

Segment Producer: Ups and Downs

I got a segment producer credit instead of story assistant because of the sheer amount of work I’ve done on the show I’ve been working on.  This is super exciting, it’s a great credit.  Of course, I’m still making less than a living wage.  But there’s some hope that that will change by the end of January.  Which I need, because I can’t afford to live in Los Angeles on what I make, and I’ve been with this company a year now.

And, in more meh news, I’m probably going to have to go back to logging.  And because they’ve eliminated the day shift, that means a 7pm-3:30am shift.  I’m hoping against hope that something will save me from that schedule.  I worked it for a couple months last year and it was so depressing and awful.  It would be better this go around because it wouldn’t seem to go on into infinity, but worse because I’ve proven I can do more.

Nicholl: First Phone Call, 17th Contact

I was sitting here in a pleasant reverie, remembering my trip two springs ago to visit New York and the Daily Show, just before I graduated film school.  I was trying to figure out where I should live and work and my family friend Gail Lieb has a talented son who works at the Daily Show and as a writer.  Anyway, I’ve always loved New York, and going that spring was really beautiful, and it was really difficult to commit to moving to LA after such a lovely spring week in NYC.

Anyway, I’d just sent Josh an e-mail telling him how much I’d loved his book, especially the formatting.  (What?  I like the formatting.  Shut up.)  And I got a phone call from one of those previously mentioned big guys.  Actually, it was a different person at the same big guy agency.  But he called me, so that was exciting.  And he expressed interest in the Mockumentary genre and was very pleasant on the phone.  He’s based in New York, and for some reason, that struck me as really awesome, since that’s where I was in my mind.

17: it is one of my lucky numbers, because it’s prime and 3*17 is 51, and I always thought that was cool because 51 looks prime, but it isn’t.  (Why are you always harshing my nerd high?)

Me, Gail, and Spring in New York

Me, Gail, and Spring in New York

A Day in the Life of a Reality TV Story Assistant

Get to work at 10 AM.  The Company Head Editor (CHE) comes to talk to the Story Producer (SP).  SP arrives a little late, usually.

CHE (to SP): Your editor won’t be back for the rest of the show.

Me: I can edit.

CHE ignores me.  Continues talking to SP.

CHE: So I’m going to start making calls to people.  See if you can find someone to come in.

Exit CHE.

Me: I can edit until you can get someone in.  You’re already using my cuts.

SP: Thanks so much!!  We’ll set you up in the editing bay!

CUT TO:

Me in editing bay, no problem.  SP enters.

SP: Development Editor (DE) will also be editing, but we can use all the hands we can get.  He’ll do the packages, you can do the deleted scenes.

Me: Sure

A little disappointed, I wanted to be the hero editor (Pay raise plz, kthx), but cool.  Also, DE is doing the job I was doing provisionally (for free) a few months ago, but then the Head of Development remembered that she loved DE and wanted him to do it instead.  So, didn’t get that promotion.

So I cut a bunch of stuff, and spend a lot of time showing the footage to DE, not because he’s not good, he’s great, but because I’ve spent a couple weeks cutting the material and there’s a lot of it and I’ve already cut what they want but some local producer didn’t want it, but then the network did want it, so they’re reverting everything back to basically what I’d cut in the first place.

1PM SP grabs us lunch I guess because she feels guilty about locking us in the editing bays and whipping us into editing frenzies.  Not really true, but you know.

Early afternoon, I finally get the call sheet for set tomorrow and learn things such as where I am going, when I need to be there, and when it will be over.  And find out what I’m going to be doing.  And that I need a laptop.  So, you know, good to know last minute.

SP comes by 3ish to check my cuts.  Asks me to revert previous editor’s cuts to what I had originally cut, and likes what I’ve done.  Ego boost.  Wants me to get another Editor at the place to come place music on the cuts, because they’re being used tomorrow on set.  I joking (not really) say I should get a pay raise and an editor credit.  SP laughs.

I monitor the other two editors, sort of superivising them but then let them do their thing.  Will work on a cut of something new and count down the time til 6PM.

Tomorrow, 8AM call.  But I do get to meet famous people.

Strange Dreams: Zombies, The Civil War, Count Olaf, and Obama’s Nobel Prize

From last night:

1. Zombies were attacking and every time anyone felt under the weather they had to be chained up outside on the roof until it was clear that they were not turning into Zombies.  I blame F for showing me Plants vs Zombies.

2. I was writing a paper for a history class in High School where my old student teacher who is now married to my step-cousin, Mary Leslie, was the teacher.  I was writing a really long involved thing on how the conflicting policies of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and their actions in divorcing the British Government and forming their own led to the Civil War.  If this is in any way true, I have no idea, but it sounds interesting.

3. I shot Count Olaf and planted his fingerprints on the gun to save the Baudelaire children.  They came to live with me in California.  This is strange because I haven’t even read all those Series of Unfortunate Events books.

4. This turned out not to be a dream, but I thought it was when I woke up.  The zombie dream woke me up and I felt really terrible — nauseous — so I looked at my email on my phone.  I had an email from HuffPo about Obama winning the peace prize.  That didn’t make any sense, because I’ve never gotten email from HuffPo and also what?  When I woke up I decided it was a dream that sort of made sense that it would happen some day if he ever managed to end the war on gays, drugs, health, Afghanistan, and/or Iraq.  But then it wasn’t a dream, and I was confused, because he hasn’t done any of that.

Actually, I feel a bit sorry for Obama.  He already had enough pressure on him, this is just adding to it.  It’s politically sort of not that great for him because he’s got nothing he can really point to and be like “Yes, look at what I did!”  I think we treat him like a man who can do a lot more than the system allows him to.  In reality, decisions are made by a bunch of assholes in Congress who play to their bases instead of the good of the country.

We’re currently occupying and waging wars in two separate Muslim countries and making clear we reserve the “right” to attack a third.  Someone who made meaningful changes to those realities would truly be a man of peace.  It’s unreasonable to expect that Obama would magically transform all of this in nine months, and he certainly hasn’t.  Instead, he presides over it and is continuing much of it.  One can reasonably debate how much blame he merits for all of that, but there are simply no meaningful “peace” accomplishment in his record — at least not yet — and there’s plenty of the opposite.  That’s what makes this Prize so painfully and self-evidently ludicrous.  – Glenn Greenwald

Good and Bad; They want to read my script, hopefully I won’t vomit!

Good:
1. Email from very legitimate and known lit management company:

Congrats on placing in the Semi’s of the Nicholl Fellowship! I’ve actually judged plenty of screenplay contest before so just placing in the semis is a wonderful accomplishment, so again, congrats!!!

I’m a literary manager at *** we rep some of the hottest up and coming screenwriters and directors and I’d love to read your screenplay!

If you could email me a PDF, I’d love a chance to read your material!

2. E-mail from Legitimate Production Company

Thank you for submitting your script. We would like to read your screenplay. You can e-mail us a PDF or Final Draft file if you’d like.

My name is ***. I work with Producer *** who has a first-look deal at Warner Bros. And I also co-founded a company called *** Productions. ***’ has done various web-series and commercials. *** recently got private funding to make our first feature film. Thus, we are on the search for an undiscovered script that is affordable and marketable.

We understand the time and hard work that goes into writing a screenplay and only hold the up-most respect for writers. Thank you for being open to share your story with us.

3. Email from production company I’ve actually heard of and didn’t have to google:

Congrats on your success in the Nicholl Fellowship!  I am travelling , but I work at *** Entertainment, a management and production company in Beverly Hills.  I’d love to take a look at your script and will try and respond as quickly as possible .  Please include a logline.

Bad:
1. Nausea. Even though I finished the course of Antibiotics days ago, I’m nauseous all the time. I got caught in Dodgers traffic last night and the stop and go… Yeah, when traffic makes you vomit, you gotta reconsider the wisdom of life in LA.

2.a. The Internet is Filled with Assholes. I am implementing a new policy on my site which is that if you say something off-topic and/or stupidly mean and confrontational, I’m just going to delete the comment. Trolls are mildly entertaining, but not worth the effort. And if you really want to post something I imagine you can make sure it’s within the bounds of civilized discourse. (Exceptions obviously made for things I think are really funny.)  But this means no more people saying that gays are gross and no more people leaving vaguely threatening comments on unrelated posts.

2.b. The Internet is Filled with Assholes. Once my 30 days on this script are up, I don’t know that I’m going to use Zoetrope again. The community has a lot of good things, and I’ve certainly gotten some useful thoughts, but it’s probably best for people who don’t mind others being really confrontational and juvenile. (“You’re really immature, nener nener nener.” “Insert video of a clapping seal.” No really.)  Every thread on their discussion board devolves into name calling and even the private messages involve people being just as hateful as they are helpful.  “Sorry, I read a few pages and I was bored so I stopped.  Good luck.”  Yeah, I’d pretty much rather get advice from people who don’t have the internet to anonymize their asshattery.

Female Filmmakers; Women Directors

There’s an interesting article over at Film School Rejects which basically lists about a hundred films directed by women.  Now, I do appreciate that there are not very many women directors, or at least, not a lot of successful ones, but I do think that it’s useful to look at the entire field of filmmaking.  After all, directing is just one part of the puzzle — movies are written, edited, produced, and a million other things.  Even movies with leading females aren’t that common.  Statistics from San Diego State University.  Last Year (2008):

  • Only 6 of the top 50 grossing films (12 of the top 100 films) starred or were focused on women.
  • Women comprised 9% of all directors.
  • Women accounted for 12% of writers.
  • Women comprised 16% of all executive producers.
  • Women accounted for 23% of all producers.
  • Women accounted for 17% of all editors.
  • Women accounted for 25% of production managers.
  • Women comprised 44% of production supervisors.
  • Women accounted for 20% of all production designers working on the top 250 films.
  • Women comprised 5% of sound designers.
  • Women accounted for 5% of supervising sound editors working on the top 250 films.
  • Women comprised 1% of key grips.
  • Women accounted for 1% of gaffers working on the top 250 films of 2008.

Even film critics are overwhelmingly male:

In Fall 2007, men penned 70% and women 30% of all reviews.  Furthermore, of the newspapers featuring film reviews, 47% had no reviews written by women critics, writers or freelancers. In contrast, only 12% had no reviews written by men critics, writers or freelancers.

So what do I have to offer as a way to remedy this?  Not much.  There are some resources out there, but you usually have to pay money to join.  Or else they’re just not updated that often.

Go and be depressed now.

http://www.allianceofwomendirectors.org/

http://www.wif.org/

http://blog.moviesbywomen.com/