Sunday, December 30, 2007

Making Funny Papers

Jeopardy's early, early pre-production stages has already surpassed the early stages of 'Meter' by over a mile in the tolerablebility race. The pre-production stages of any film can be pain stakingly, slow. In the case of my films... Deathly slow. Meter was agonizing and the 'conceptual art' or 'art department' was utilized by the count of big goose egg. Jeopardy... A whole different bird. I won't say it has been agonizing though. Sure, I want all the red tape to be done so I can begin really planning the shoot but I know I have props and sets to build on this one so I've tried to keep myself a little more grounded. The schmetics of the newspaper stand are complete and building has begun. (Even if it just be nail a day... HA! HA!) On my week off from the "norm job," I managed to storyboard the first 2 pages of the script and even cooler, really began to spend time on one of the more timely jobs of prepping the film, the Art Direction/Set Design.

In the original story the "Serial Killer Threat," was told through third person narration. For the film, the Narration was not going to work so a 'Backstory Catalyst" had to be inserted. From the first draft until the final draft we had the same idea on what that catalyst would be. In the big cities I've lived in, I was always a frequenter of the street vendor newsstand. You could get any magazine, newspaper, tabloid in any language at most of those vendors. If you wanted a Playboy in Cantonese at midnight on a Sunday.... No fear... The corner of Ventura and Coldwater's LA Times Stand had you covered. I thought, what could be more fitting than to use the street newsstand as the narrator for this fast paced, light dialogue driven film. I knew going in that committing to this would mean building an actual stand.... Or fly to a metropolitan area to find one and get them to let us shoot in front of it with little control over one of the key scenes in the film. I chose the first option. I was not worried about building the stand. It was filling the stand with periodicals that I semi worried about. Building the stand would mean I would inherit the task of making at least 2 newspapers and five magazines of my own to cover the racks of the stands. When I say making, I mean creating my OWN funny papers. I may even have to create more than than that. We will have to see. (If I were to use Time Magazine, Baltimore Sun etc... My budget would quadruple times another quadruple.) So like Quentin, who created 'Kahuna Burger,' and 'Red Apple Cigarettes'

and Kevin who gave us 'Mooby Fast Food' and 'Nails' Cigarettes,

Garrick gets to create his own brands and world. Of course, there are no cigarettes or fast food needed, but like LA Confidential, you can assure there will be some cool tabloid titles like "Hush Hush" Magazine in there.

The actual story is based in Baltimore, but we may leave it ambigious so we can make our own world with our own rules. Here is the traditional newspaper conceptual drawing, 'Metro Post.'


There will also be a more New York Post style paper. (My personal preference over the NY Times.) There is the 'THE METRO MAGAZINE', (the logo will stay like that, but the cover will change to a more autumn feel, since the story takes place on October 18th.)

Then there is the Reader's Digest slash New Yorker magazine, "THE CITY STORY." The sketched belt and blood will be a real photograph for the final print. Stuff like this is extremely fun.

You got any good ideas for magazine or newspaper names. Let me know. I'll be happy to use them and give you credit for them as well.







Sunday, December 16, 2007

Moving Forward With Rick and I's Project

I will be honest, the merging venture of mine with Borderline Films to make a couple of films has become quite stale. There have been no set plans that have been set in stone for over a year now. In filmmaking unless you have assistants and other collaborative people who have assistants working for them, working with you, then your plan has to be suttle and simple. There is no such thing as 'six projects on the table' at once when you are not making any money to do this. It's not mentally or physically possible. It is one project and one project only. With this venture, one day it has been one thing, the other day, something completely different. Before we knew it, a year had passed by and we really, (with the exception of a meeting with important well established filmmakers,) were not or are not any closer than we were. I will not say I am not part to blame in the situation. My lack of extra time made it very hard to consistently pump out progress on scheduling, trailers, websites etc… But then again, I only re-scheduled, re-budgeted, and broke down that script four times or more, because it kept changing. Maybe that was my fault too. I could have intervened and made sure we had a ready to shoot script that was locked and loaded. I will continue to be a part of Borderline and do anything needed to be done to further advance our progress, but my visions, projects and ideas have taken a backseat to a list of projects that are no where near ready for pre-production which means if I waited for my spot since apparently there is no room for it, I would be 50. Everybody at this point in time seems to be doing their own thing anyway.

Either way, with the future of The Tag Along feature undetermined, I figured I'd go off on my own until further notice. Many people will say that another short film at this point in my life would be a waste of time. I don't think so. I think my plan is going quite well, even with the extended period of stand still I just experienced. Shorts are easier to put together and more importantly, are huge for securing the right people to help you take a huge step in the right direction career wise. (That is of course if your film is any good.) I'm not taking any chances in that particular department.

For the past year, Richard Deal aka "Demus" and I have tried to put a short film together based off of one of his short stories. He is a brilliant writer and I am not, but I can adapt a story for the screen and shoot it pretty well, so putting our heads together may make for a great team. I have read five of his past stories. Two of them would be too much to take on with a shoestring budget. Two would be borderline pushing our luck, but may be able to be pulled off and one is a simple one to two day shoot in a hotel room entitled 'Two Wrongs.' We had planned on shooting 'Wrongs' when I completed 'Meter', but something happened on the way to the forum. I studied this script and even had adapted it almost word for word. It was again a dialogue driven piece. I as I thought about it, began to realize another film in a confined area with 75% of it being dialogue would be almost repeating myself considering 12 minutes of the 15 minutes of Meter is dialogue in a cab. I was stuck again. Then Rick wrote yet another brilliant short story that actually won a contest on The Mystery Author's Site. It was and still is amazing. I read it six times in one sitting and started to think: This one would make a fantastic short. This is the one with Meter in tow would be all the calling card we'd need. It would involve money. Not too much, but way over Meter's budget including constructing a couple of minor sets and finding a little access to a green screen studio. (I think I have that handled.) I also started to think or maybe it was more like assume with a nicely produced recent film under my belt, I may be able to find a couple of investors to float us a couple grand to make the film because these days in fact, short film investors tend to make their money back if the investment didn't exceed the $15,000 mark. If it is done right, I am confident it would put both Rick and I on the map for possible future jobs or maybe even one of the features I have planned for my 35th birthday. For now, I am designing story boards, gathering lumber, working on a business package and most importantly, going back to work for myself again. Step 1: Finish my Wedding Video Step 2: Make Jeopardy. If you want to keep up with pre-production,(like Meter's Corner of my site,) Click Here.It will be more of an in depth look. To read Rick's brilliant award winning story. Click Here
*Disclaimer: This story's rights have been secured and copyrighted. Any replication or material taking directly from this story is eligible for prosecution under the law in Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act.
Here are some of my boards I am using as part of the business package.

Designs for constructing the Newspaper stand:

Saturday, December 8, 2007

I Miss My Friend

Three years ago, I was given a golden Labrador retriever by a friend of mine. He was beautiful, cute and irresistible. I got him at exactly six weeks. Even though I had experiences with Labs and knew the first year was a very difficult and frustrating time, I didn't care. I was traveling back and forth from Asheville to Hickory quite a bit so I figured he would get out quite a bit and stretch his legs, maybe muffling the Lab Angst everybody talks about. I named him 'Vinyard.' (**After Ed Norton's character in American History X.)

Vinyard was a hell cat. He chewed his way through my life. Legs off chairs, killed two mattresses and boxsprings, jumped out a second story window and that was all in his first six months on earth. As the year went on, he began to get better only on occasion eating my computer keyboards, DVD's and couch cushions. When Mandi and I moved to Florida, he really shaped up… Probably not so much shaped up but was just too miserable to find the energy to tear anything up. He hated it there. He was stuffed in a small apartment. It was hot as hell and we lived in a neighborhood that was a 'mandatory leash area for dogs.' Ironically enough, we ended up in that apartment because 75% of the apartments and houses either did not allow dogs over a certain weight, (Vinyard usually surpassed the limit by at least 50 pounds,) or pit bulls were forbidden. I had gotten used to it. Due to my job in Asheville, I had lived in three different apartments in a year and every one of them was decided by the acceptance of my dog. (The places were also usually shit holes.) But in Orlando, we were able on a weekly basis to take the "kids" to this huge dog park where Vinyard felt right at home. He swam, chased bitches, and fetched for two to three hours at a time. The more I took him, the more I came to grips with who Vinyard really was. He was a lab. He needed space with a little containment. He needed to get dirty. I had been forced to keep him shut in his whole life.
Upon returning to North Carolina, it only got worse. We had to get a cheap place because one, Mandi was pregnant. Two, we had spent all of our savings moving home. We ended up in a basement, "bachelor pad," place that had a bathroom, living room and bedroom. (The kitchen was a hot plate on the bathroom counter. … No kidding.) To boot, the front yard was host to the busiest highway in Alexander County. We managed to acquire a fenced lot to put out in the yard. We would put them in it on nice days when we were gone. This new environment would be the first sign that I had created a monster in Vinyard.

This fenced lot was no small container. Hell, it may have been as big as the apartment we were in, minus a pregnant woman and a quickly gaining sympathy weighted man. Yet Vinyard never left his stoop at the gate door. If I was gone for three hours, he waited there, watching, barking and digging. I didn't mind the digging, for as big as he was, it would have taken him two pregnancies of Mandi's to dig a hole big enough for his big ass to get under the fence. I worried about his behavior, but didn't think there was that much of a problem because when I was around, they were inside. We moved to a bigger place on a farm and Vinny seemed a little calmer. Of course now, he was two and a half. He was able to be left out without a leash a lot of the time. Vinny was good about sticking around, but there was an issue where, if I wasn't with him, it was 'Bark Fest 2007' on the front porch. If I went inside and left him out he would sit at the front door, barking to come in. Again, whether it be 10 minutes or two hours, Vinny's bark was constant, loud and annoying. If we were both inside and I even so much as moved a finger towards the front door, I was mauled as he scurried to get out. He wanted in if we were out, he wanted out if we were in. It began to anger me, because it was getting to the point where, because of his size, I would literally have to trick him to get out of the house or worse, slam his nose in the door trying to get out with out him blasting out behind me. He wanted to play. He wanted to be around me. I loved the dog but there was like anybody only so much attention I could give. Then Payton came and uncontrollably due to Mandi and I's opposite schedules, I played full time Dad on almost all my free time, which made it harder on Vin. I got to throw the ball, play in the yard, and take trips a lot less than before. He was big and clumsy and would run into a crawling Payton quite a bit when I included him on inside activities, so we tried the full time outside thing after Deja was killed. It didn't work.

He barked hours on end at first. He slowly got used to it, but I still would have to con him with hot dogs to get him into the lot. He had a plush dog house, lots of shade and lots of room and it wasn't enough. I couldn't let him run free because when I would try to leave for work he would blockade himself in front of the car or chase me down the road. I couldn't leave him in the cage too long, because the dog was so clean that he wouldn't piss or crap in it. My whole lunch break and time after work was devoted to getting to the babysitter, scooping up Payton and getting home to let Vinny out. One day, I commenced to give him tough love and left him in the lot for 11 hours. Not because I wanted to neglect him, but I was hoping he would have to pee and maybe realize after he did, that it was OK every once and a while. It didn't work. When I let him out he peed for at least five minutes.

I dreamed of having my own home with a big yard and electrical fence and screened in porch. It would be the perfect situation. When we moved into our new home, my mom kept him for about a month which was the wrong thing to do on my part. She is the Pet Spoiler Champion. We had to get settled in and I had to save up a little extra money to get the electrical fence. I brought him out before the electrical fence was in place just to let him get a feel of the new surroundings. He never left my side. I couldn't go in the bathroom without having to move him. He would circle my every step when he was inside, which usually meant he would walk on Payton, because Payton too after she started walking never left my side either. The problem worsened as Vinny would not be contained or let me contain him without a fight. He snapped two tie offs, broke two barriers, and fended off a high powered bark collar with resilience. I was forced to park my car outside the garage, bring his dog house into it and close him in the whole time. And 75% of the time he was in there, he barked. When I was there and when I wasn't, Vinny was stuck in the garage, because I simply could not get him to cool down, relax and be independent. The electrical fence after all the wait and hoping for better was installed and didn't work. He barreled through the barrier like it was a thin rubber band. He may have been big and clumsy, but he was smart too. He knew it would only sting for a moment and then he would be free if it stung him at all. I was out of options, but out of selfishness, kept him in the garage for another week, trying to figure out the next move. The end came on a Saturday afternoon when the barking persisted for two and a half hours in the morning. I decided I would open the garage and see if he would roam the yard and street but stick around. Wrongo- He was gone in a blink of an eye. Twice, I was carrying Payton around the neighborhood looking for him, finding him in neighbors' yard eating flowers, bushes, whatever. I threw the ball to him for a while but that ended when he mauled Payton, sending her flying though the air on a thrown ball that was no where close to the vicinity where Payton was. What really pissed me off, is he saw her. He had plenty of time to move and he didn't. He put his head down like a Running Back barreling into the endzone, and wailed her. The day came to a head about mid afternoon. I didn't have a key to the front door therefore could not leave through it because I was not able to lock the dead bolt back, meaning I had to leave through what was now known as 'The Dreaded Garage.' I literally had to push the garage door button, constrain Vinny until it closed, then open a window, put Payton, the diaper bag, and me through it and escape to the car… Just to go to the grocery store. All that just to get out of the house for an hour? By 10pm, the barking had become high pitched howls. A neighbor, not knowing my phone number beat on my door to tell me to shut the dog up.

This routine went on Sunday as well. By eight o' clock Sunday night, I finally succumbed to the thought of what really had to be done. It killed me. Mandi's family had offered a friend who lived on a farm. It immediately threw up a red flag. I knew what this dog needed. A farm if was as big as Africa would not be what Vinny needed.

Vinny has bad separation anxiety. If we take 'Me' out of the equation with this dog, he may be better, BUT, you can't just throw him on a farm with no containment and no attention and expect him to stay there. It was that simple. The offerers let my words go in one ear and out the other. With no other offeres, I was down to two decisions: 1) Board him for four days and find him the perfect home or listen to my mom, who was the President of the Humane Society for six years and have him put down. It sounds terrible, but her thoughts on it were simple: This dog was so attached to me. He was stubborn, resilient, had ear problems, and a list of other things that only I knew how to handle to keep him safe from himself. Another owner if not perfect would not due.

My father who is the most down to earth guy I know put it simply: This dog is a huge pain in the ass. If you give this dog to somebody even with credentials that you have even a slight doubt about, you are going to worry about that dog for years. It may be selfish of you, you may be torn up about it for awhile, but you would never have to worry about the dog again. You won't have to worry if he is being treated right, has what he needs…. You will not have to worry again period.

I was so against that idea until he told me that. So I boarded him, giving me a week to make a decision I felt was unfair for me to ever have to make. Sandy at the vets asked, "if I can find him a home with one of our top clients would you let him go?" I said yes. (We had been taking our pets to this vet for years. I trusted her judgment over anybody else.)

Two days went by with nothing… I had checked into rescues and was refused because he wasn't coming from an "endangered environment." I asked every friend I have. They all knew Vinny. That was a dead end. Then Sandy called and said she may have a prospect. She began to tell me the living arrangement: Big fenced in back yard, doggie door to an enclosed patio and when the family was home the patio slide door was opened to the house. Their record for shots etc, was better than my mother's. I said that home would be perfect. She said she would call me back.

Twenty four hours went by, nothing. It was down to the wire. Friday, I asked Dad to go get him from the vet and I would take him back on Saturday to do the deal. Dad called me back twenty minutes later and said, that him and Mom would take Vinny for the time being. Maybe keep him until we could get a fence and maybe some professional training… Whatever. As much as my father said he hated my dog, I knew the truth. He liked the little goofy fucker. The weight had lifted. Dad said he would go up there and get him.

Seconds later, I called Sandy to tell her our plan.

She interrupted me: "Good news. That couple is going to take Vinny. We're bathing him now. They will be here in fifteen minutes to get him…"

My heart sunk. I could not stop it now. I had given them the permission in writing. It was over. Vinny was gone.

I said, "Well, can I get their contact info?" Sandy said no. She said in cases like this where the dog is going from a good home to a good home, they give the new owner the discretion to contact the old. Meaning, if they didn't call me to give me updates on Vinny or trade emails and pictures, I would never see him again.

Three days later, the couple called Sandy to tell her that Vinny was settling in quite well with the other dogs and new surroundings. Sandy called my mother. My mother told me. As upset as I was, I couldn't have made a better decision. I didn't stall too long to have to settle on a decision and I didn't impulsively make a hasty one either. For one time, every decision I made throughout the ordeal was right. Miss the hell out of the kid already. It's only been four weeks. I know his new home is giving him everything I couldn't and I'm sure he's already king of the house. I sometimes feel I failed…. Or failed him. We had spent 3 years together. There was a lot of thick and thin. Kind of humbling…

What does this say about my character? I have a 'child' for three years and just can't no matter what I do get the kid to behave so I pawn him off on somebody else?

Although, I know the situation benefits all involved and my fear of worrying about how he's being treated and if he is OK is gone. There is still no and will never be any resolution… Vinyard, I miss you. I wish you could read this and understand why I had to do what I had to do.

I would love to see you. I would love to bring you a big bone every Sunday and throw the ball to you, but apparently things don't work that way.

So now… I wait and hope that one day, our roads will cross again. Look for me. I'll be the guy with a deflated soccer ball and mangled black collar in my hands…

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