July 29, 2008

WELL. Today we experienced our first big-boy earthquake, and let's not have a lot of those, shall we?

The other ones I've felt have been of the mild swaying variety. You look across the room and something is moving just enough to give you a slight disorientation - and then everyone is asking, was that... was that an earthquake? And you have a slight nervous giggle.

Not so much, today. It lasted maybe 10 seconds, which was long enough to get that oh shit this is happening feeling, and time to send a sincere wish to Jesus Christ our Lord on his Throne in Heaven that the floor not drop away and send you to a violent crashing death.

Imagine the room you are in right now is actually in a mobile home - and five big guys are outside doing their best to turn the whole thing over. Add a low rumbling throughout, and the most honest reason you could have for a shot of whiskey after, and you've got it.

Posted by Chris at 9:13 PM

Hey, pal. Happy belated birthday. Your chris@handeye doesn't seem to be working - is that right? Anyway, I'm hoping you'll read this before you post it to the blog since it's really just for you! I sent you a note on facebook, too, but I want to cover all my bases. BECAUSE I HAVE BIG NEWS! We're having a baby in January! I actually did not miss my window of opportunity, much to the relief of my grandmothers, bless them. So, just wanted you to know. Hope all is well with you, earthquakes aside.

Posted by: Leigh at August 4, 2008 1:28 PM
July 21, 2008
Weekend filmmaking

This weekend saw a full Sunday spent helping friends with a short. And I do mean full - pickup was at 10:30, and I didn't leave until about 1:15 AM. Exhausting, frustrating at times, but no other activity gives me such a sense of having done exactly what I should be doing.

We went to Santa Monica's GLOW event, which in retrospect seems like a sort of sponsored rave scene, though it didn't occur to me at the time. There were giant sculptures made out of inflatable plastic shipping bags, interactive light shows shot through enormous banks of mist, a hall of glowing creations under the pier, a "migration of lights" set up with lots of glow-sticks in the sand. They started a DJ'd dance music event at the end of the pier and I rolled my eyes - why is it whenever more than 5 people assemble in public, inevitably the oontz music must be brought out? - and there was an enclosed carousel room where they were just playing trippy music. The only thing that was missing was the ecstacy tablets, though surely that was around. It raises the uncomfortable question about me - If you were in the middle of a rave, would you know it? A: Maybe not.

We also saw Hellboy II. (AND HERE COMMENCES MY FIRST MINI-REVIEW IN ALMOST EIGHT MONTHS, though I faithfully update a "staging" page on this blog with EVERY SINGLE MOVIE I'VE SEEN in case I ever started back.)

I love Guillermo De Toro's imagination and visual style, and also love these characters, but the story was scattered and prone to wander off into side-quests, unlike the first one. They introduced quite a few problems for their characters and then shuffled in sudden resolutions - or not. The Goblin Market seemed tacked on as a chance to offer Del Toro a chance to have his own Mos Eisely or Diagon Alley. Or maybe it DID have a place and I was just waiting for them to do something with Hellboy and Liz, or Hellboy's problem with his boss, or Hellboy's repeated crisis that the public doesn't accept him, or Hellboy's temper problem.

The Elemental - where did that come from, and why the sudden sympathy for it from Hellboy? Also, the side-trip into the multi-eyed Angel of Death's realm, where Liz seemed to randomly have to choose Hellboy over the Earth... or everyone's resignation at the end... why? This story was a series of mini-stories, I suppose. So much so that it felt like the central villains - Prince Nuala and his Golden Army - were just bookends.

(But they were amazing bookends. The fight with Nuala above the twisting gears was fantastic, as was the Army itself.)

At about the twenty minute mark I wondered if the stereo mix in the theatre was wrong, because the film just seemed... NOISY. Every single gesture and line was accompanied by a sudden brass fanfare. Amazingly distracting, and I came to this conclusion BEFORE I knew the composer - ELFMAN, of course.

Posted by Chris at 4:09 PM
July 11, 2008
Did I say I was almost done?

HAHAHA. I laugh at that now. Wait - let me check... I said last time that all I needed to do was remove one last favorite scene then I was done?


Of course I didn't just REMOVE a scene, I had to replace it with something. And that thing was basically only slightly less complicated than the favorite version. Oh! And then I had one of THOSE revelations, one of those fabulous clarifying revelations, so I have some adjustments to make all the way through again.

Look, I'm not just completely wide open to massive changes in my screenplay every time an idea comes up - but it seems I have this problem with my hero not really DOING anything until Act III. Which they say is kind of bad. So when these fabulous revelations come up, if it's helping to streamline a screenplay that for some reason has a little black hole embedded somewhere around page 100 that just sucks all your interest away - I'm open.

I re-thought the index cards thing, and realized it's not so much that you do them to easily shuffle scenes around, as you need a way to visualize the whole story sometimes. So I just did up a set for this story. I have 25 - though these are really just for sequences now, not technically one for every scene - for 133 pages. Damn if it doesn't seem OK at the index card level.

More Mazinga:

With revised comic timing in the 4th panel.

Had an interesting set of lessons out on the water in the past weeks. I've been bringing guests on board with an eye towards making them comfortable, and making sure everyone is having a good time. But I've ended up being much too passive and indecisive, I think. There actually is a time when everyone needs to know what's going on, what direction we're going, and when is a good time to pull out the lunch.

In trying to make sure passengers were comfortable, I left all the jobs to myself and Ami a few times - meaning we were flying around the cockpit pulling lines, stepping in people's laps and on their sandwiches. It's better if everyone knows what their job is, I decided - and I've worked on my 'welcome aboard' spiel for the same: Here's how to work the head, here's the cushions, you'll be on starboard jib-sheet, you'll be on port, have a good time, and be ready to pull in the sail when I give you the word.

Posted by Chris at 3:10 PM

You didn't step on my sandwich. That was my crotch I'll have you know.

Posted by: klugula at July 11, 2008 4:23 PM
July 3, 2008
Out with the Good

Tonight I remove one of my last original favorite sequences from the screenplay, and it will probably be one of the last big tasks that remains before THE END. This is a series of scenes that are, frankly, pretty hilarious. People have laughed out loud in readings.

But unfortunately the thing has just moved on. Taking them out (and placing them carefully aside, under glass, to admire later) will save about ten pages in a script that's already about 30 over.

Almost a year later, the saga of Mazinga continues:

The LA Film Festival has come and gone again - again with me not attending whatsoever. Not sure why it's so hard to get over to Westwood for this thing. Actually maybe the next section here might explain...

My friends delight in pointing out how quickly and prematurely I am calcifying into an old man, and perhaps this supports that - but I think... I may be done with Outdoor Lawn Concerts for the rest of my life.

It's not that I do not love seeing live music - we saw Preservation Hall Jazz Band in the valley this weekend, and Randy Newman at the Hollywood Bowl last night, and both shows were great - but what I loathe is taking part in the big impromptu social experiment of personal space that these things are.

The Jazz concert was the bring-a-picnic affair (but no alcohol allowed). We dropped our blanket fairly early. Shortly after, we noted a group of pointy old ladies next to us had marked out a large space in front of them. This phantom picnic space never actually held any people, though they defended it from takers all night with the claim that 'they had friends were on the way.' They just chose this as their "buffer zone" - and I admired them for it.

Two old men dropped their chairs IMMEDIATELY behind our blanket so that if I leaned back, I could comfortably nestle my head in one of their laps if I chose.

And then the Partridge Family came and loudly arranged their picnic so that they more or less wrapped around our remaining free borders in an L-shape. Eventually I began to feel we had preemptively intruded on their space.

We scooted the blanket forward after we ate - and our neighbors expanded right up to our borders again. Because no inch must be unclaimed.

Somewhere behind us a group of New Orleans jazz fans had brought their own washboards to play along - with every song, constantly.

As I walked around the park, I could see how the picnickers had accreted next to one another as closely as possible - no one thinking to leave any space for anyone to walk through.

The Hollywood Bowl is always fantastic (and we had blessed assigned seats) but why would you come and chat loudly through the entire performance? I don't know, ask the couples next to me.

I loved the music but I guess I am just ready to minimize the amount of time I spend as part of a throng.

Posted by Chris at 10:47 AM

I've been in old man status for quite some time. I have to be in a pretty great frame of mind to brave the crowds. Which means it's probably anywhere from never to very rarely. And I don't know if it's only the crowd thing, or if it's combined w/ the "I can't stand the stupidity/rudeness/cluelessness/sense of entitlement of the people around me". Let's be frank. I do know...it's both.

Posted by: klugula at July 3, 2008 2:15 PM

you describe precisely why i no longer go to movies ...

Posted by: kjk at July 14, 2008 1:01 PM