20 July 2010

New Developments and Old Problems

So the bastards finally corralled me into this Twitter thing. I don't really have time to be prolific on it (I hope), nor the means to instantly update with whatever random thought seems witty or poignant at the time (I do not have a mobile device with Internets access). Nevertheless, several trusted marketing types have told me in the strictest confidence that this is what the kids are using to self-promote these days. And if there's one thing I need more of, it's self-promotion. I suck at telling the world of my existence. I'd much rather sit in a corner and be left alone, cobbling together movies and releasing them to accolades and deep piles of money. But to do that, I need the means to cobble, and the means to let everyone know my masterpiece IS worthy of their time and attention and cold hard cash, and the means to tell them No, that interpretation is incorrect, what I have made is not a piece of crap, you just can't see it for the genius that it is, you stupid!

Anyway, if you want to follow me on the damn thing, here's my profile.

As for actually making movies, like I'm supposed to be doing, that's currently something of a mixed bag. I'm in between major writing projects at the moment. There are many short things I have been and will be working on - we just shot another short this past weekend, post-production is nearly complete on Time In, and, of course, Project Twenty1 is swiftly approaching. But in terms of feature-length, epic scripts I pour my heart and soul and madness into, I'm still in the process of searching for my next great IDEA. And I haven't had one for a while, and it's starting to make me nervous.

When I finish writing something, there's a genuine sense of accomplishment. "I have created this!" I shout to the heavens (and my apartment ceiling). "It shall live beyond me forever!" Or until the Internet implodes. With shorter projects - like my scripts for Radio Hound Productions - there's that feeling of self-satisfaction, but it's a quick hit, not as long lasting or full of promise as an ambitious feature I can fling willy nilly at agents and execs who will promptly ignore it. If I'm not working on a feature - whether I'm still noodling around the plot in my head, or fleshing out a treatment, or revising a first draft - I feel like I'm worthless and wasting my time.

I used to always be working on a feature. That's because I didn't know how to recognize weaker ideas and let them go. Now that I do (maybe), the thought process goes like this:
  1. "Hmm...that could be interesting."
  2. "Oh, wouldn't be awesome if instead of a typical hero, it's a half-human mutant wooing the zombie fighting cheerleader?"
  3. "This might have real potential..."
  4. "Wait...it sounds familiar...."
  5. "Oh, shit, the set-up is too much like Eagle Eye. Fucking shitty movies stealing my goddamn thunder...Maybe it's not shitty, I didn't see it, I shouldn't judge...Fuuck-ing Eaagle Eye."
  6. "Maybe I can change it so it's different."
  7. "No, it's still kind of lame. What about this other idea?"
  8. "Ehh, it doesn't have enough of a hook. Too complex to explain. Not concepty enough."
And back to the drawing board I go.

I'm a bit pickier than I usually am not only for quality control reasons. I'm starting to realize that I probably shouldn't waste my time writing something if me and my collaborators can't make it anytime soon, and if Hollywood wouldn't be remotely interested in buying it. Seeing as how I have a pretty good back log of scripts for us to shoot on a relatively low budget, and we don't exactly have the means to move them along the production line like hotcakes, I've decided that the next extensive project I tackle will be my Hollywood Script.

You know - the one that gets sent to screenplay contests, agents, producers, other high-up muckity-mucks I may or may not meet eventually. It will be high-concept, yet fit into the traditional three act structure (complete with pinches! and midpoints! and inciting incidents!) and character and plot arcs (the same thing, but different). It will be written specifically to appeal to the unimaginative, looking-for-a-buck executives who will like it, never produce it, but maybe hire me for other projects.

I've decried this sort of thing before, but dammit, it's time. I need something in my portfolio that's going to be immediately accessible to a broad audience. The problem, however, is actually coming up with a new idea that fits the Hollywood parameters AND jumps my bones enough to get me interested in actually writing it. Each time I come up with a possibility, either the imagination train runs out on me before it gets fully fleshed out, or I run through the gamut of thoughts detailed above.

It's come to the point where I've started raiding my past notebooks and paper scraps for a hint of something that might zap my brain in a different way this time. But something always comes along to kick it in the balls. For example, one of the ideas I've been carrying around for a while involves Superheroes. And recently I came up with a further "twist" on it that made think it could become something new and awesome. But then I second-guessed myself. Aren't "Superheroes" and their various deconstructions and reconstructions more or less played out by this point? Shouldn't I be looking for whatever the next fad is going to be that will make Hollywood take notice? Vampires? No. Zombies? No. Werewolves? No. What is it going to be? Post-apocalypses? Space travel? Post-apocalyptic space travel? (Hmmm...) And/or, can I find something unique and unexplored enough that will then go on to BECOME the next faddish thing, should it exceed even my own rather limited expectations?

This is a tough route to take for brainstorming, because it's approaching the situation in an ass-backward way. While searching for some little germ of a factoid that jazzes me in a way that I go "Maybe..." and "What if...", I'm also thinking in terms of what will goose another person who is a fictional construct built out of stereotypes. And I'm trying to keep in mind the maxims of "What you find interesting, others will find interesting," and "Write what you're passionate about," and "Blow yourself and rainbows will come out of your dick," but I'm still enough of a cynic and realist to know, "You have to make what you find interesting interesting to people who probably do not give a shit. And you may have to change what you find interesting about it to do that."

The challenge is to meet somewhere in the middle. To find something that I enjoy AND is new and fresh and unique to movie makers and movie-going audiences alike. To tap into both my and the nation's subconsciousnesses (?) and find a way to exploit them so that I benefit artistically and financially.

I'm hoping the rush of Project Twenty1 jolts my mind into action. I need inspiration, dammit, and I'm not going to find it staring at this computer screen. It's time to move my duff and live life to the fullest. Kick enough ass and the stories will come to you. Yeah! YEAH! That's the spirit! I'm the man! I can do anything! I will not go quietly into the night! I will not vanish without a fight! I'm going to live on! I'm going to survive! Today, I celebrate my--

Wait...this sounds familiar...

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