Friday, March 30, 2007

Back On The Set

Well, I'm back on a movie set for the next few nights. However, I'm not directing this time. I'm the assistant director. So, instead of working with the actors, my job now consists badgering the DP to stop tweaking the lights.

There was a group of people who came on board to help make Beautiful Loser when it was just me. Before I had even heard of Sneak Preview. When it was an insane pipe dream. Noah Suchoff was one of them, and he's directing a 25 minute short for a small production company.

After a year, it's fun to be back on set, helping out a friend and only beginning to repay what I owe him. He wrote a good script and knows what he wants as a director. It should be a terrific short.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

45 Hits A Day!

We're now averaging 45 hits a day at this site. Just 6 months ago it was 41. Something's happening out there.

Looping Is Done

All the actors are now done looping the dialogue that wasn't up to technical specifications due to background noise, or whatever... I was a little nervous about losing the quality of the original performance, but what we got was either better or just as good. Can't ask for more than that. It has to be difficult for an actor to come back a year later and jump back into the moment without other actors to play off of, or any rehearsal. I don't know how they do it.

This also means I am done directing actors -- which is a shame because I was just starting to get the hang of it.

Now we move on to finishing the score and finding a few more songs. The score's amazing, but I swear I've listened to more bad songs the past six months than Bobby Brown's bodyguards. You gotta move a ton of gravel for that fleck of gold. (I used the word "gravel" to keep the site family-friendly. If you know what I mean.)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

IMDB Makes No Sense

Because I'm shallow, I check my IMDB page everyday hoping to push my STARmeter up from 126,328 to 125,000. That way I can forward my status as the 125,000th most powerful person in Hollywood to everyone at my old high school who voted me most likely to become an alcoholic.

But what kills me is that for Beautiful Loser (number 23,685 with a bullet!) there are a bunch of movies listed list under: "If you enjoyed this title, our database also recommends..."
And these are the recommendations:

Something New: Kenya McQueen, a corporate lawyer finds love in the most unexpected place when she agrees to go on a blind date with Brian Kelly, a sexy and free-spirited landscaper.

Lord Love A Duck: A bright satirical comedy about an innocent high school girl granted her wishes by a student prodigy. A broad satire of teenage culture in the sixties, its targets ranging from progressive education to beach movies.

Steven: When young Steven and his fundamentalist christian parents show up to protest the local Gay Pride Parade, Steven decides that he may be playing for the wrong team.

And one I've actually seen called, The Squid In The Whale which is populated with the most unlikable group of characters I've seen in a movie in a long time.

Am I missing something?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Alejandra Question #5

5) When can we expect to see Beautiful Loser and where? (festivals??)

I don't know the answer to this question. I don't ask about this stuff. It's the least of my concerns, because I know it's in good hands. If this film's only exposure is on a midnight cable access channel in Bangkok two years from now it will be because our Executive Producer, Steven Wolfe got it on there. The man knows what he's doing and never gives up.

But he can only work with what he's got. Any kind of distribution -- festivals, DVD, etc... -- will depend on the final product. If people in the distributing business think that by putting money into getting Beautiful Loser out there they will make them money, they'll do it. If they don't, they won't.

And if people do like it that will be because the cast and crew did a marvelous job telling my story. If people don't like it, that will be because my story didn't work. When it comes to movies, it always comes down to the story. The free market is supposed to protect you from the bad ones and let in the good ones. So, we're gonna find out pretty soon what the market thinks of this one.


Unless you've been told different, the autographs are in the mail. And when I say "in the mail," I really mean "in the mail." I'm only clarifying that because the phrase "in the mail" can mean many different things. For instance, when I tell my creditors it's "in the mail," that can either mean "how did you get past my caller ID?" or that it's "not in the mail," but in most cases, both.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Bundys

My wonderful mother sent me an Amazon gift certificate for my birthday. I was worried she'd send me money and I'd have to use it to pay bills, but thankfully no. So, in the mail today? The greatest show ever: Married With Children: seasons 4 & 5. The Jefferson years have finally arrived.

This is the long way of saying: Blogging will be lite.

Mini Movie Review

Shooter: I'm sorry, but when it costs me $3.29 for a gallon of gas, you're just not gonna convince me our government has gone to war over oil. You may convince me that we should, but not that we have.

Other than that, the movie's confusing and tedious. I've heard it's a thinking man's action film. Well, I was thinking during it. Thinking about what I would have for dinner, this cuticle that's been giving me trouble, how I wished someone would shoot me...

Alejandra Question #4

4) Did the thought that you might never end the process (of the movie) ever crossed your mind?

Yes. But only because it will never end. Never. Ever. End.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Quick Movie Reviews

Today, I'll review movies with a plea for truth in advertising:

I Think I Love My Wife, should've been titled: I Think We Should've Done A Rewrite.

The Wind That Shakes the Barley should be remembered as: The Movie That Numbed My Buttocks.

Alejandra Question #3

3) How was it like to tell people what to do?

I'm glad I'm not the only one who was under the mistaken impression that this is what a director does. And just in case you 're wondering, but too polite to ask: No one kisses your butt either.

To be perfectly honest, everything I learned about directing I learned from Errol Flynn. Before he became a movie star, Errol led a very exciting life in exotic places. I don't remember all the details, but somewhere in South America he managed to talk his way into running a cocoa plantation, even though he had never stepped foot on a cocoa plantation before in his life (Like my ill-fated and doomed affair with our script supervisor, Errol had one with the plantation owner's wife). So, what do you do when you're in charge of an operation you know nothing about? You do what Errol Flynn did: You bluff. You tell everyone, "Carry on."

My first ever experience on a movie set was as the director of BL. I had and still have no idea what I'm doing. So, whether it's actors, crew, the DP, the editor, or the composer; I simply answer questions and then get the hell out of their way with a very directorial sounding. "Carry on." And it works.

In the end, everyone usually comes up with something better than I would've, so that's what we put into the movie. This has kept cast and crew happy because they enjoy having creative input, and it's kept me from having to completely expose my raging ignorance and insecurities. It's what's known as a two-fer.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Alejandra Question #2

2) To make it short... what's Beautiful Loser about? Is it based in any real life experience?

I'm worried about giving too much away. Not because it will spoil the movie for the nine people who will read this, but because if I give too much away our producer will pick up a tree and kill me. He could do that, you know. You haven't met him. I've heard stories. So, here's what I feel safe telling you:

Twenty years after high school, three lifelong friends have discovered that life is not what it promised to be. They’ve discovered that decisions made so long ago have resulted in only regret and the longing for a second chance. Reggie refuses to do anything with his life except dream of Tracy, his first love. His only love. Bonnie thinks she has it all together until a chance encounter brings the first man she ever loved back into her life. And Morgan carries the secret. The terrible secret that will bring them all together in ways never imagined.

Over the course of one fateful day, each is forced to deal with their past. Reggie does what he always does: Thinks only of her. Thinks only of an unrequited love that turned a scrappy, funny, charming young man full of youth’s promise into the walking wounded. Bonnie will be forced to decide between fulfilling the promise of a love that might have been and the family she has now. And Morgan learns that his secret from his past will force him to make a terrible choice if he and his beloved wife are to stay together.

Beautiful Loser is about that moment we all have. That moment we make a decision that sets the course for the rest of our lives. We think about that moment a lot. We think about what we would do if given a second chance. Today three lifelong friends will face that moment and be offered that second chance. At a price.

I know that's absurdly melodramatic; that it sounds like the back of a video box in that pathetic section of Blockbuster where they put all the titles they carry only a single copy of: but I keep picturing the tree.

As far as whether or not BL is based on any real events, I'd just like to say that I'm sick of this question, and that the answer is "no." Why does everyone always ask me this? Everyone always asks the same question. Why? Can't someone just tell a story without everyone thinking it's about him? So, let's just put this to bed now, shall we...?

Just because my lead character wakes up hungover in a gorilla cage at the zoo with his pants around his ankles, doesn't mean it happened to me. Why does everyone automatically think that happened to me? Can't I just put something in a story without getting "the looks?" Without the snide comments and whispering behind my back? Do you people think I haven't noticed that? Do you think you're disgusting little gossip has somehow gotten past me? Do you have any idea how humiliating it is to be thought of like that? So, this will be the very last last time I dignify this question: For once and for all, when I woke up in that gorilla cage my pants were no lower than my knees.

Can we all move on now?

Thursday, March 22, 2007






If you'll email me at with your address and real names, I'll see Adam tomorrow and get a personalized autographed photo for you.

And don't worry if you miss this today. I'll still get the autographed photo for you under your pen names and mail them when you send your address. I just got back from CVS with the photos. You'll love them. **he's so cute**

Oh, and if someone rings your doorbell and runs, it wasn't me.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Alejandra Question #1

1) How did you realize you wanted to make a movie?

I had kicked around L.A. as a screenwriter for a couple years and done pretty well for a New Guy. I'd been hired to do an adaptation for this company and they ended up optioning a family comedy I wrote called Down On The Farm, which is about a wealthy spoiled Manhattan family who goes bankrupt and are forced to work on a New Mexico dairy farm for a year. (I only mention that in the hopes that one of my nine readers is a powerful studio exec)

Anyway, the huge plus in all of this was that Dennis Dugan was attached to direct and I got to work with him on rewrites -- which was like getting a PHD in comedy writing. He's directed a bunch of terrific comedies, including Big Daddy and Adam Sandler's upcoming I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. He was great. His wife Sharon was great. We're all still friends. But the production company was not so great. So, without reliving the details, I'll just say that the company and I had a falling out, and I had to completely burn that bridge to extricate myself. This ruined whatever career I had built, but I never regretted it.

That production company was my only contact in Hollywood. All my eggs were in that basket. So, I had two choices: I could start over as a screenwriter or go back to my old job in North Carolina. Neither option was desirable. Making the rounds script-in-hand again seemed intolerable. But the idea of going back and being re-chained to that desk seemed worse. So, I came up with a third option: After four years, I'd finally finished finished writing Beautiful Loser, so, why not make it, right? Why not make a movie? What the hell, right? And that was the first time I ever even considered becoming a director.

Now, never in a million years did I think Beautiful Loser would get made. That Steven Wolfe and Sneak Preview came along to make it happen still feels unreal. So, it didn't start out being about that. I just wanted to try. I was 39 years old and needed to do something insane. Something people would laugh about behind my back (and they did). Something so grandiose and foolish it wasn't a matter of if I would fail, it was only a matter of just how big the ball of flame was I would go down in. My goal was to take it as far as I could -- just to see how far I could take it. And to scrape up a bunch of people who felt the same way.

After twenty years of being a bill collector, I didn't come out here wanting anything other than to experience something different. And it seemed to me that failing miserably at trying to make a film on my own fit that criteria quite well. It was a Hail Mary pass. It was my last shot before conceding. But if you're going to be chained to a desk the rest of your life, it helps to know you at least tried to go over the wall.

And I could still end up chained to that desk. BL could disappear like it never happened and do me no good at all. I may have just held off the inevitable for a couple years at the cost of every penny I ever saved. And I'm okay with that. But for the people who believed in the project, and put their money and Star Power and free time into it, I'm not okay with that. It's very important to me they all come out ahead. And I would love to direct another film. I would love to scoop up every person I was blessed to work with (except for the one's who don't return my phone calls) and do it all over again...

But if I don't, that's alright. Because it was never about that. It was about the trying. It was about giving something everything I had and seeing how it came out. It was about the experience. And I wasn't going to let the experience be ruined by expectations. Nothing ruins an experience more than expectations. There's a lot of people out here made unhappy by expectations. A lot.

But, to finally answer your question: I realized I wanted to make a movie when I realized I wanted an adventure. Making BL hasn't been the hardest thing I've ever done, but it's a close second. It's stressful and scary and exhausting and even humiliating at times. But it's always exhilerating. And that's what I wanted: A memory. Because someday I'll be old. And maybe someday someone will bother to ask me about myself. And if they do I will tell them about this. About the greatest adventure of my life.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Meet Eddie Velez

Eddie was someone else who came in and read and it was love at first sight. He came in early in the process but again we had to find a young counterpart to match him before we could cast. What Eddie intuitively understood about the role of Diego Adult was the sadness of it. Whereas Giancarlo as Diego Teen has the dashing leading man quality I was looking for, Eddie brought that down to earth. There was a hurt in Eddie's eyes as he read that nailed it. No one else even came in second.

The Diego character is based on one of my favorite actors: Errol Flynn. When Flynn was a young man he was an incredibly charming, rakish, cocky, adventurer. He was everything every young man dreams of being. But as alchohol and scandal and a number of bad decisions overtook Flynn in his later years he became a tragic figure. When I see photos of Flynn post-45 years old they're heartbreaking. It isn't that Flynn looks bad, but the light's gone in his eyes. That sparkle that won Olivia De Havilland in nine films is dimmed. Flynn died at 50. Terrible loss. Irreplacable star. There will never be another. Not even close.

If I had met Flynn on the street in his later years, I wouldn't have thought anything of it. The tragedy comes from knowing who Flynn was. Knowing Robin Hood and Captain Blood. And that's what I wanted from Diego. I wanted a young, dashing, near-cocky young man to contrast the adult who's lost all that. Eddie got it his first read. He got it on film. We were lucky to get him.

Reader Mail

From Alejandra:

Hi! I wrote to you last year asking for some Adam Lamberg pics... Never fear! That's not the reason why I wrote to you.

As I told you before, I'm mexican (so if my english is not very good, now you know why) and I'm very interested in developing a career in screenwritting... since you just directed a movie, I wanted to ask you some questions. (And because I read that you say that nobody asks things about you and just of the cast... just kidding)

1) How did you realize you wanted to make a movie?

2) To make it short... what's Beautiful Loser about? Is it based in any real life experience?

3) How was it like to tell people what to do?

4) Did the thought that you might never end the process (of the movie) ever crossed your mind?

5) When can we expect to see Beautiful Loser and where? (festivals??)

I hope you can answer my questions, I find you a very interesting, smart and funny person, and nothing would make me happier than you having a lot of success with this film.

Sending my best wishes,


P.S Um... wouldn't hurt to post some Adam Lamberg pics, right? LOL

First off, I'm sorry it's taken me so long to respond. I know you sent this email over three weeks ago. What I'll do is answer each question one at a time in different posts. And it was kind of you to call me "funny" and "smart." I think if we met you'd also find me "hunky" and "nimble."

Friday, March 16, 2007

Movie Reviews

Here are some quick thoughts on movies I've seen recently:

Black Snake Moan -- It actually works as an exploitation picture. But if you're going to chain a girl to a radiator, I think you have to have the courage of your convictions and not suddenly go from sexploitation to talky stage play that wants to be about something. That being said, I would crawl over glass to someday work with Christina Ricci. I find words attributed to actors like brave and courageous a bit silly -- save those for cops and soldiers -- but Ricci is amazing.

Children of Men - Great world. Loved the world the filmmaker created. Loved the first two acts, as well. But then it all kind of fell apart in act three. You expect the big philisophical questions raised in the film to be answered but in the end you're left with Waterworld; just another dystopian run and hide movie with a different name for "dry land."

Pan's Labyrinth - Ugh. All the characters do in this film is react. Even the bad guy. Very episodic. And when the biggest turning point in the film depends on the discovery of a stolen key for a padlock that could've just as easily been broken, you've lost me.

300 - I was expecting yet another nihilistic plodding battle-to-battle comic book film, but instead found a well-plotted actioner that's actually about something and that contains strong female characters who contribute to the plot. Intentional or not, this is an allegorical play about the War on Terror. Certainly there have been a number of films made about the War on Terror, but this is the first where we're shown to be the good guys.

The Lives Of Others - I'm not a big foreign film fan, but this is the best picture I've seen all year. It comes from Germany and is set in 1984, before the fall of communism. It's a thriller that slowly tightens until you can't bear to watch and also manages to tie together the fates of three people through completely believable, yet still surprising events. It's also a uniquely unromanticized look at communism using the people who most benefit by fascist governments: Loyal government officials and the artists who entertain and propagandize for them.

Zodiac - Jake Gyllenhaal is miscast, but this is still a very very good film. David Fincher is an amazing storyteller.

Identity Crisis

Age-wise I caught up with my Dad yesterday. My dad and I are now both 41. I keep asking myself how that could've possibly happened. I think it's because the first time I asked him how old he was -- he was 41, and since, I've always thought of him at that age. So, now we're both 41. Of course, he's doing much better than I am. He has a full head of hair and a job.

The other thing that recently hit was James Cameron's discovery of Christ's tomb. It seems Christ didn't rise from the dead, which I'm sure makes Cameron happy because now he's no longer in competition for King Of The World status. So, now I'm Jewish. And I'm fine being Jewish, I just don't know a lot about it. I've heard that there are three kinds of Jews: Reformed, conservative, and orthodox. I'm gonna look into it and pick the one that lets me watch TV all weekend.

Meet Blair Wingo

While I enjoy talking about the casting process, for Blair I don't really remember how it happened; probably because I really didn't know what it was I was looking for. This was one of those roles where I would know the person when I found her. In the end it came down to Blair and another woman, but whatever it was about Blair we certainly made the right choice.

I'm no actor and don't profess to know anything about the art of it. Acting is witchcraft to me. It's a supernatural gift I can't imagine having. And I'm too inexperienced as a director to call myself a director, but I doubt if even real directors understand acting anymore than I do. Spouting adjectives is one thing. Bringing those adjectives to life a complete other. But from my outsider's eye I think Blair had the toughest role in the picture. It was a role that required her to pretty much be two different people and play highly charged scenes that could've been one-note with emotion and subtlety. No easy thing.

Now, before you get all worried thinking she plays twins or a schizo or some other lame-o plot device that kills pictures before they even begin -- she doesn't. Unfortunately, I can't guarantee that what I do have her doing isn't another kind of lame-o plot device that kills the picture, but I can gurantee it will at least be an original lame-o plot device killing the picture. That being said, Blair's marvelous in the role.

I think this is one of her first acting jobs, and she pulled it off perfectly. In her two key scenes her range of emotion and sheer presence do so much more with that role than I had hoped. Both of these scenes are with powerhouse Keith David and Blair stayed with him the whole time.


Yesterday was one of our two days for what's called ADR (additional dialogue recording). This is where we have the cast come in and dub over lines that weren't usable due to background noise, etc... While I've stayed in touch with most everyone, it was nice to see the others and the day went smooth.

While I was there I heard the producer telling the cast that we would have a cast and crew screening come May. Which means it will be done by May.

We're still tweaking score. We're still looking for songs we can afford. We still have to correct the color. It still seems like an awful lot to do including the trip to Canada I'm dreading -- but the end is near.

P.S. The above posted photo has no relevance to this post. I posted it because I can.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Meet Caker Folley

Early in the casting process Cynthia Gibb had come in, read for Bonnie Adult, and blew us all away. It was love at first sight. But casting for Beautiful Loser wasn't so easy. Even if we found the right actor for a particular part we still had to find an actor who could pass for their adult or teen counterparts. I wish I could do the math to illustrate how much harder this made things with a number, but I suck at long division.

So, we don't say anything to Cynthia because it seemed pointless to even discuss it until we found someone to play her as a teen. In the meantime, I'm terrified Cynthia might get another job and we'll lose her, and we're seeing dozens of Bonnie Teens. Some of these young women were very talented but I'm guessing my wanting Cynthia prejudiced me towards anyone who didn't resemble her.

I was also extremely picky about this role. Who I wanted was a 19-year old Margot Kidder; someone endearingly off-beat with a huge personality and very pretty -- as pretty as Tracy. My main concern was always that the audience would think Reggie fell for Tracy because of her looks -- and in order for the whole hook of the film to pay off people had to see it was much deeper than that. So, my thinking went: If Bonnie's as lovely as Tracy and Reggie didn't go for Bonnie then he's seeing something special in Tracy; something more than the physical. Anyway, that was my thinking...

So, by this time we're already shooting and making casting decisions at the same time; sometimes casting the day before we needed someone. It was all quite intense and strangely exhilerating. Christmas was coming, we were about to shut down for a month, and all we had left to cast were the Bonnie's... And then in walks Caker who completely lit up the room, read, left, and the casting director and I dared to dream.

Something I learned early in the process was that who you meet in person doesn't always transfer well to screen. Someone could come in to read, knock us out, and then fall flat on video. But Caker's personality was only enhanced on screen. We had finally found The Bonnie's.

Caker's absolutely wonderful in the film; better than I had hoped for. She's also very sweet to me. I talked to her the other day lamenting the fact that I'll be turning 41 on Wednesday and she told me I didn't look a day over 40 3/4's.
Sometimes I think she really is Bonnie.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

What's He Doing In There?

Amid all the hoopla surrounding Al Gore's enormous electric bill, what I want to know is what the hell's going on in that house? How do two people run up an energy bill twenty times the norm? We know it's not exercise equipment. It has to be experiments of some kind. Al Gore's a mad scientist.