Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Recently my lifelong pal, Alison, and I were looking for a DVD of the movie "5 Flights Up" starring Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton.
We are avid fans of both actors. We had watched the film a few months ago and loved it. It's the story of an older couple in NYC who are selling their apartment because it's five flights up and has no stairs. The problem is, they've lived there over 40 years and it's home. The husband is an artist and the wife is a retired teacher. They have no children so they lavish their affection on their little dog, Dorothy, who is sick and needs surgery. The story takes place over a couple of days as they deal with a realtor and open houses. In the middle of all this, an alleged "terrorist' is creating havoc in the city and the authorities believe he has a bomb on the Brooklyn Bridge.
This is not an action film. It's a smart, clever comedy with a meaningful message about love and relationships.
Needless to say, we both wanted this film for our collections to watch on those quiet afternoons as we escape the chaos of the world while we drink our coffee and eat our chocolate. It's one of those movies you can watch over and over (like "You've Got Mail," "The Proposal" or "The Devil Wears Prada").
Soon after watching it, I bought the DVD on amazon, but Alison wanted to buy it here in town. So the journey began.
We started at Target. No luck.
The mall. Not there either.
We called it a day. Alison later told me she went to Sam's Club and struck out. She finally had to order it online.
The funny part was, when we asked the sales people at all these stores if they had the movie in stock, none of these 20 to 30 somethings had ever heard of it. They looked at us like we were aliens from outer space.
You would think Morgan Freeman (Batman's right hand man) and Diane Keaton (comic actress extraordinaire) would be on the Hollywood radar. I suppose a well-told story with witty dialog and interesting characters is not enough.
I'm not surprised. The world is changing. It's faster and more furious than ever. But I am grateful that filmmakers are still creating simple, beautiful films.
In the words of Meryl Streep from "The Devil Wears Prada": That's all.
Friday, July 29, 2016
Ever since we won the Cheyenne Shoot-Out Filmmaking Festival in 2011, Susan V. and I have been tossing around the idea of organizing a film club in Cheyenne.
The purpose would be to encourage local and regional filmmakers and share resources and knowledge about the amazing world of filmmaking.
This week I was inspired to give this idea serious consideration. First of all, is there interest in something like this in the community?
I have a cadre of actor friends who are involved in community theatre and who have also volunteered their time and talents in my own films. But they are not necessarily filmmakers.
What would the club entail?
Support and encouragement for filmmakers by providing resources to help with their projects, whether they need help providing actors, production assistants, information on upcoming film festivals, workshops on lighting, directing, sounds, location scouting, legal issues, fundraising, and more.
It would also be fun to have get-togethers like movie-watching parties or field trips to film festivals.
I would appreciate your comments and suggestions about starting a club/group like this. What worked? What didn't? What would you do differently?
Friday, July 22, 2016
I had an interesting conversation with my son yesterday about writing screenplays. Lucas is a husband, father and genius software developer. He's also a gifted blues/jazz pianist.
Like me, he enjoys learning new things and tapping into his creative side. He's been interested in learning to write screenplays and asked me for wisdom and guidance. (That's the cool thing about being a mom and a writer. Just sayin'.)
We discussed the differences between the novel and the screenplay formats. He thought it would be helpful to read a novel and then read the screenplay adaptation of the story.
At first I thought he should read an original screenplay and not an adaptation, but the more I thought about it, I agreed that he was right. I suggested he read Peter Benchley's novel "Jaws" - and then tackle the screenplay, also written by Benchley along with Carl Gottlieb. This film is a perfect example of excellent storytelling.
The novel is captivating. The first chapter thrusts you into the world of this shark. The reader experiences everything the shark experiences and we become one with it. We share its view of life in the deep and what it needs to survive, which is its primary purpose.
The story tells of three characters and their personal relationship to the shark - Brody, the police chief who escaped the stress of being a big city cop to live in a peaceful island community. Ironically, he fears the water. Hooper, the scientist who is obsessed with sharks and goes after the shark for glory and fame. And Quint, the rugged fisherman who sees this shark as an enemy he must defeat, exacting vengeance on his fellow soldiers who were killed by sharks in World War II on the USS Indiana. The relationships among the three men and with the shark is what makes this story so compelling.
The screenplay shows that Benchley kept key elements of the story, and with Gottlieb's screenwriting skill, they transformed the novel into the perfect blueprint for Spielberg's film.
Whether you're writing a novel, a short story, a screenplay or a stage play, its ALL ABOUT THE STORY! If you don't have a good story, you don't have anything.
I'm looking forward to seeing what Lucas comes up with for a story idea for his screenplay. We always have fun brainstorming story ideas together.
Thursday, June 16, 2016
In honor of Father's Day, I would like to give a "shout out" to all the wonderful TV Dads from my childhood. These dads were pretty amazing. They dealt with problems big and small. But most of all, these dads loved their kids, no matter what.
Happy Father's Day!
Who are you favorite TV dads?
Happy Father's Day!
|Jim and Kathy|
Father Knows Best (1954-1960)
Jim Anderson played by Robert Young
KIDS: Betty, Bud and Kathy
|Ward and Wally|
Leave it to Beaver (1957-1963)
Ward Cleaver played by Hugh Beaumont
KIDS: Wally and Theodore "Beaver"
The Rifleman (1958-1963)
Lucas McCain played by Chuck Connors
Lucas's job: Rancher
|Little Joe and Ben|
Ben Cartwright played by Lorne Greene
Ben's job: Rancher
Ben's job: Rancher
KIDS: Adam, Hoss and Little Joe
|Andy and Opie|
The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968)
Andy Taylor played by Andy Griffith
Andy's job: Sheriff
|Steve and Chip|
My Three Sons (1960-1972)
Steve Douglas played by Fred MacMurray 1960-1972
Steve's job: Aeronautical Engineer
KIDS: Mike, Robbie, Chip and Ernie
|Mike with kids|
The Brady Bunch (1969-1974)
Mike's job: Architect
Mike Brady played by Robert Reed
KIDS Greg, Marcia, Peter, Jan, Bobby and Cindy
Who are you favorite TV dads?
Wednesday, June 8, 2016
I was visiting my dad on his acreage in Oklahoma last week. He lives in the country and doesn't have a satellite or cable TV. He uses an antenna to get TV reception.
One of his favorite shows is "The Rifleman" so we watched the show everyday day while we were there. I remember watching it on TV when I was a kid. It's about a widower in the Old West named Lucas McCain and his son, Mark. Lucas is handy with a rifle and he and Mark work the ranch.
On one episode, the school hired a new teacher from "back east." The teacher was a prim and proper gentleman and wasn't used to the ways of the West. He and Mark did not get along. Mark's friend ruined the teacher's book by putting blue berries in it and slamming the book closed. Mark was blamed for the prank and his father found out.
Lucas told Mark that it was wrong to ruin a book. Books are precious and hard to come by. He also told him that everything you learn from a book you will be able to use sometime in your life.
I have found this to be true. I have always valued books. They have enriched my life.
If only all kids had a dad like Lucas McCain.
Thursday, May 26, 2016
Saturday, May 21, 2016
Stunning animation from "The Tale of the Three Brothers" sequence in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.
Who says there aren't any good modern-day fairy tales? This has everything a good tale needs: A family setting, a villain, a hero, longing, desire and magic.
The animation is the perfect vessel for this dark fairy tale by J.K. Rowling.
When I saw the film the first time, this sequence ignited my imagination more than anything else. There's something about a tale within a tale that is truly profound. Shakespeare did this often. It's one of my favorite story-telling techniques.
I used in my latest film "The Book of Simon."
Sunday, May 15, 2016
Last week I was browsing through Netflix looking for something to watch and came across a show called Madam Secretary. I'd seen bits of it on TV over the last couple of years, but because I was already committed to Project Runway, So You Think You Can Dance, Food Network Star, Cupcake Wars, The Voice and American Idol and Blue Bloods, I didn't see how I could squeeze in another show.
My shows were over for the season so I figured I'd get around to checking out Madam Secretary. And I'm glad I did.
The story grabbed me at the pilot episode and now I'm binge watching the entire two seasons.
It's the story of an ex-CIA operative and university professor who is asked to step in as Secretary of State after the death of the current Secretary. The death is quite suspicous and we learn that it wasn't an accident nor a suicide.
Tea Leoni is Madam Secretary. I'd seen her in supporting roles in several movies. She is wonderful in this role. But what grabbed me the most about this series is the brilliant writing! As a writer myself, I am always impressed with a great story and great writing, and this series has it Big Time.
Not to mention the excellent performances, production design, editing and cinematography.
If you watch it, look for the funny lines. They are delightful. Because it's a drama, the humor is needed to lighten the tension, and the writers of this show strike that perfect balance.