Thursday, December 20, 2007

Take care of my baby

Who would YOU trust with your baby? If you had to give up your one and only newborn and hand her over to an adoption, who would you pick to take care of that child? To mold her and sculpt her to maturity? And remember--it will be HIS name your baby will be known by from then on, not yours. You'd be handing that child over body, mind, and soul.

I would PREFER to be the director of my script. But I know that it's not possible. Not even remotely so. Therefore I must brace myself for the reality that in the very unlikly situation of this script getting the life-infusing bestowment of serious studio money, another director will have to take my place. I'll have to hand my baby over to someone else. Forever.

Who would I trust?

There are just FOUR people on the face of this Earth I would trust with this precious creation of mine. Here they are in alphabetical order:

1) Ron Howard
2) Frank Peretti
3) Tom Shadyac
4) Stephen Spielberg

If any one of these guys were to contact me about my script, I would gladly go the table and strike a deal with them. AND (get this!) I'd be perfectly willing to surrender to them ALL aspects of creative control --because I KNOW none of these guys would make bad decisions in that respect. They'd all do just beautifully. Hit all the right notes. Find the right tone. And make my script absolutely sing.

Rewrite? You want me to do a rewrite? Sure Mr. Famous Director, sir! No problem! Tell me EXACTLY which scenes you want rewritten and I'll overhaul them to your specifications. YOU are the artist here, and YOU know what you want the end-product to look like. I have COMPLETE confidence in your vision.

Any one of these guys would do right by my baby. No question.

Art Defined

One working definition of art is: Truth revealed through beauty. Now if this is the case, then any project which is neither beautiful nor truthful cannot be called art.

Let's apply this definition to cinema.

Hollywood is certainly preoccupied with that which is beautiful, and even seems to have a pretty good handle on it --an obsession with it might be more accurate. But truthful? Hollywood truthful? That's debateable. Truth in Hollywood shifts constantly. Perhaps the most positive take on that sad fact is that such malleability might be what makes Hollywood so versatile. If different people have different takes on the truth then we benefit from a broad variety of stories coming out of Tinsel Town.

Such a beautiful town full of such beautiful people. But are they also truthful people? I guess that's where one draws the line between craftsmen and artists.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

So NOW what do I do?

I have been slaving over this screenpay since January. And now it's done. Now what?

I have lost my sense of direction. The whole world is amiss now that I am no longer agonizing over that script. I am a captain without a ship to sail, a cook without a dish to prepare, a seamstress with no garment to sew.

I did intend to begin the novelization. But somehow that's just now clicking right now. I feel so lost.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

E-mail confirmation came today

Here's part of its message:
Semi-Finalists will be announced in January 2008 with the winners announcement at the 16th Annual MOVIEGUIDE Awards and Report to the Entertainment Industry on February 12, 2008 in Beverly Hills.

So I guess all I need to do now is hang on and see if I make it to the semi-finals. (I wish they would give a more firm date than just "January.")

Here's to hoping either Spielberg or Ron Howard gets to read my script.

The Check is in the Mail

Actually, the check arrived yesterday. According to the USPS tracking system, it was delivered yesterday at 9:59 AM in Carlsbad, California.

Okay. So now I guess I need that e-mail confirmation. (Maybe they won't send me one of those until the check clears.)

Yes I am obsessing.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Update on my Kairos submission

I e-mailed them and asked: "Gee, did you get it?"

They replied that yes they did get my script. They said they normally do not send an e-mail confirmation until the check arrives. I sent the check snail mail, but I have a tracking number on it. So it might not arrive until this Friday. And HOPEFULLY when they get the check and the hard-copy application, it will all prove to be in proper order.

Can you tell I am obsessing over this?

Saturday, December 8, 2007

I entered Kairos

Last night. At 9:00 PM eastern time I hit "send" on my e-mail and submitted my script.

I did NOT get a "mailer daemon" but I also did not get a "Thank you for entering" either. So I'm a little worried. I read and re-read the e-mail address repeatedly to make sure I didn't mess it up. I will call them on Monday and ASK if they got my submission. If not, then I guess I am ... outa luck.

Nerve-wracking.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Writer's Rapture (or "A Day Without a Writer")

REUTERS -- UNITED STATES, November 13, 2007

The sudden disappearance of over three million residents from Southern California is being dubbed by some locals as a "rapture of the writers." What began yesterday with presumed crank phone calls to local authorities from various religious adherents who feared they had been "left behind" has escalated into a nationwide manhunt involving spiritual leaders, UFO enthusiasts, the FBI and psychic specialists. Today investigators now admit the evidence overwhelmingly points toward all the victims of this unexplainable phenomena hailing exclusively from the ranks of writers.

But it seems that not all branches of writing have been impacted. The exceptions include journalists and copy writers at news organizations, as well as music writers, poets, and speech writers. New York City also reported a sudden disappearance of millions of its local scribe residents. Other large US cities like Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami, Boston, and Nashville, as well as many others, have likewise reported similar disappearances of writers, but on a much smaller scale. Scattered reports from hundreds of thousands of smaller communities of a dozen or so missing persons per town also continue to stream in to authorities every hour. So far, the total of writers reported missing in the US has exceeded twelve million and continues to grow. The per capita impact seems to be spread rather uniformly throughout the nation, Red States and Blue States alike, with the highest concentrations found in the LA and NY areas.

Some seemingly unrelated industries such as advertising and even elementary school teaching have also been impacted. And it was the presumed illogic of these diverse professions that initially threw investigators off the trail. "We were stumped at first," said one FBI investigator who did not want to be named. "It wasn't until we realized that five of the seven missing school teachers from one city had all published their own Young Adult and Children's books that we were finally able to connect the dots."

The primary targets seem to be novelists and comedy/drama scriptwriters. But it has also come to light that if any members of the "excluded" areas of writing (journalism, music, etc) have a history of dabbling in fiction, it seems that they too have been taken. This reporter has an office colleague who was writing a novel in his spare time, and that colleague is now reported among the missing.

At this time authorities are unable to say where the writers have gone to, or how they can be located, nor even if they are still alive. But all resources are being funneled into solving this mystery. The White House has declined to comment at this time as to whether the President believes this situation poses a threat to national security.

"It's really very disturbing," said one law enforcement official in Los Angeles. "We can't explain it. We're doing our best to get to the bottom of it. Hopefully, there won't be any MORE disappearances. Like maybe dancers or chefs might be next. Who knows? But we're doing our best."

"It's the rapture," said the Reverend Kyle Sarino of Bread of Life Church in Los Angeles today in a press conference, "but only the FIRST stages of it. More disappearances will follow. God took the writers first as a sign. God's primary means of revealing his truth to mankind was always through the written word. And since we failed to listen to his writers down through the ages, he has taken them away from us as a warning of what is to come next." When asked why God would be concerned with fiction writers, unless the Bible itself might be nothing but a work of fiction, the Reverend Sarino abruptly ended the press conference.

"Writers are a threat," said UFO researcher Martin Bryce. "They have been eliminated from the landscape because an alien invasion force knows that only a writer could have the imagination to see through their falsehood when they at first come proclaiming peace. Such aliens also know that ALL means of human communication start with the written word. So by taking the writers, they are defanging our ability to communicate on a global basis, paving the way for invasion." Martin Bryce runs the Greater Los Angeles UFO Watch. He is also an assistant manager at the Burger Bash on La Brea Avenue.

Meanwhile, it's not clear how this situation may impact the closely inter-related industries of TV, film, radio, and publishing. All efforts to contact the leadership of the Writers Guild of America for comment have failed, and it is feared that most or all members of that organization have fallen victim to this crisis.

The Police Commissioner in Los Angeles is urging all citizens who may have a family member who writes for a living to get in touch with that family member to make sure he or she can be accounted for. A special "Lost Writers Hot-line" (800) 465-9355 (800-INK-WELL) has been setup by the FBI where citizens can call in and report a missing loved one. And a web site will hopefully go live later today where updates will be posted by investigators, and where e-mail reports with photographs of missing writers can also be submitted by friends and family: www.writerscomehome.gov







Monday, November 12, 2007

Surprise Weekend Company

I love my family. I'd do anything for them --even screw up my whole weekend for them and their inconsiderate choice to drop in unexpectedly. And then after the weekend is done, and I stand there in the driveway waving in bittersweet sentimentalism at their departing car, I have to turn around and pick up the pieces of my shattered time management efforts and a dozen or more missed deadlines.

Call. Please call. It's not so hard to call --really it's not. If you KNEW back on Thursday that you were going to drive from Manhattan to Boston for a concert, and if you KNEW you had your heart set on crashing here for the weekend so that you could avoid paying for a hotel, don't call me at 1:00 on Saturday afternoon and say: "I'll be there in four hours." I literally dropped everything -- and I do mean EVERYTHING-- and started cleaning and doing laundry and vacuuming, and went grocery shopping, ALL for you! I neglected my script all weekend for you, even though I promised a professional script consultant in Los Angeles that I'd have the completed script in his mailbox by Sunday. I also missed my Sunday evening web radio program that I am the contracted transcriptionist for, and so that's an entire transcription job that I am now going to be grossly behind on.

You saved yourself from having to pay a costly hotel bill. Good for you! I am SO proud of your ability to be shrewd with money! But you also effed-up my entire weekend! And yet you're my family, and so I luv ya! [Grrrrrrrrrrrr!]




Now, maybe you think because we're family that somehow it's "okay" to be a little slipshod with the niceties of calling ahead of time. Life is hard. Deadlines are tough to make, so in your own efforts at trying to keep on top of things, maybe you FORGOT to call me on Thursday (or even Friday) to give me a fair heads-up that you were coming on Saturday. So I guess your time-management leaves something to be desired. And hey! I can relate! I too struggle with the whole time-management thing (I guess it runs in the family). But you did MORE than just muck up my calendar. It runs far deeper than that. You also denied me the ENJOYMENT of your company.

Had you called ahead of time, I could have tackled the task of preparing for your visit in a spirit of joy. Instead of insanely tearing up and down the grocery store aisles on Saturday evening, I would have been in there on Saturday morning thinking fondly of you and your favorite foods, not grumbling about the stinkin' toothbrush you asked me to pick up for you because you were silly enough to forget your own. Hospitality runs both ways, you know. It's not just the host who needs to be gracious but the guest as well. And it's in that graciousness that the true enjoyment is found for both sides of the arrangement.



The word "hospitality" is from the same root word as "hospital." There is rest and healing to be found in the entire undertaking --for BOTH the guest AND the host. But effective hospitality --like effective hospital care-- needs preparation, while a rush job doesn't always deliver and can even be detrimental.

Please don't make me resent your presence. Please don't make me dread the burden of your coming. Please let me enjoy and derive comfort from your visits. Just a little bit of warning is all I ask. You're family so you're always welcome, but you're not always convenient.

Friday, November 9, 2007

In a nutshell, these are the WGA's concerns/grievances/desires/complaints

The following is my two-minute expaination of the WGA strike. Two minutes is all I am asking you for. Please read.

1) The DVD Situation

Back in 1985 the writers reluctantly settled for being paid a truly paltry residual of just four pennies per unit out of the sale of every $20.00 VHS and DVD because back then the whole industry of VHS and DVD was still so new and the tehcnology still so expensive that the studios insisted that they needed at least ten years to try and nurture the VHS/DVD industry. So the studios convinced the writers to cut the studios a break and be willing to get paid just four pennies per unit for a few years (just a few years, mind you!) while the fledgling industry was trying to establish itself, then the VHS/DVD industry might stand a financial chance to grow and actually become something. Back then the cost of manufacturing, packaging, and shipping a $20.00 VHS/DVD was about $10.00 per unit. But today, that price has dropped to roughly fifty cents per unit (including shipping it to market). So the writers feel they have waited long enough (22 years to be precise) and would now like to DOUBLE that four pennies per unit up to eight pennies per unit. But the studios won't hear of it. They absolutely insist that it's an unreasonable demand and will not budge on it. Mediators in the struggle have suggested to the studios that maybe six pennies per unit might be a fair tradeoff, but the studios won't even settle for that either.


2) The Internet

The music industry has shown that the whole future of music sales rests almost exclusively in the realm of the internet. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to surmize that the future of movie sales also will be found almost exclusively on the internet. So if writers are currently getting residuals of four pennies per sale of each VHS/DVD unit, then it stands to reason that writers should also get residuals of NO LESS THAN four pennies per download on the internet. But the studios want to exclude all internet downloads from residuals. They want to pay NOTHING AT ALL in residuals for ANY internet downloads FOREVER. (They are insisting that internet downloads should be regarded as "promotional downloads" and therefore should not be subject to residuals. Ever.)


3) Future Technology

No one knows what the future holds for technology as far as how people will pay for the privilege of seeing a story told in a visual medium. But the writers want to prevent a shell game or any sleight of hand on the part of the studios to finagle a way to get free stories out of writers. And therefore ANY consumption of a story, regardless of the technology, means the writers need to get paid. Period.



And THAT was my two-minute encapsulation of the strike's origins.




Reality TV writers get paid slave wages (part of the reason why reality TV is so huge right now) no benefits, no residuals, no overtime, and very easilly fired with no protection and no recourse. The studios want to break the union and reduce ALL writers to the same desolate state that reality TV writers are in right now. This is a serious fight. This is one of the most evil (and I do not toss around the word "evil" lightly) battles Hollywood has seen since the McCarthy era of blacklistings. And it won't stop with the writers. The DGA and the SAG will be next on the hit list. The studios wish to eliminate ALL of those pesky unions from the Hollywood landscape. The writers MUST win this fight.

I am not a resident of California, but I am writing to Governor Schwarzenegger all the same, and I urge you to do so as well.


Here's his official web page:

http://gov.ca.gov/

Here's his contact page with phone numbers and snail mail addresses.

http://gov.ca.gov/interact#contact

And here's his e-mail page --and make sure you flip the radio button to say "NEED HELP!":

http://gov.ca.gov/interact#contact



Tell him you want him to step into this fight. He's been pretty busy with the wild fires, but still, this is a matter that he will surely want to get involved in. And don't worry that he might be intimidated by the money that the movie industry generates--the true bread and butter for California is the agricultural industry, not the movies.

E-mail him and specify "NEED HELP!" and choose the option called "Labor and Workforce Developemntent Agency."

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The WGA Strike - WARNING! PROFANITY!

A lot of my regular readers are Christians. So I apologize ahead of time for the profanity that will follow. But I will NOT censor this man's words. I feel his words MUST stand as-is. Here's what veteran cartoon writer Micah Wright said on the WGA members-only message board a few days ago to a vocal WGA member who feels maybe the WGA isn't being reasonable in these negotiations and this vocal member called the WGA leadership a bunch of "angry Horads" (actually the vocal member misspelled the word "hoards" so Micah Wright is lampooning his typo). I am particularly stunned at what seems to be Micah Wright's confirmation of the conspiracy theories I have been hearing lately. I almost NEVER believe conspiracy theories, but this is one of the rare times that I am starting to become a believer. The current conspiracy theory is that the studios are out to break the union and crush it into the ground for good. And his words below which indicate a willingness of Nickelodeon to deliberately decimate their own television schedule for an entire broadcast year in the interests of ferreting out a union in their midst is the most compelling argument yet. Please read on and be prepared to be deeply disturbed by what it says, profanity not withstanding.


Well this is ONE angry Horad that’s confused about your stance. The AMPTP clearly never intends to pay us one single cent for internet delivery. The music business model clearly indicates that internet delivery for most, if not all content is the future. What then were we supposed to do when faced with rollbacks and refusals to bargain in good faith? Pray? Or just swallow the bullshit they were trying to shove down our throats, and forget about not only what we’re making, but also what every person who ever follows us into this union will ever make?

People like you keep bitching about the DVD negotiating point, and yeah, you’re right: DVD was lost 20 years ago, but there’s no magic rule which says we can’t reopen that topic. More importantly, though, DVD didn’t take off for almost a decade after the ‘88 strike… the Internet is here NOW, and it’s here FOREVER, and if we give in and allow them to pay us ZERO on Internet delivery, we can just kiss the idea of ever getting paid residuals goodbye forever.

It’s not self-righteousness which is driving this negotiation… it’s quite simply the greed of the AMPTP, which clearly sees this as the year in which they intend to break the WGA on the rack once and for all. But you don’t see that… you seem unable to get it through your head that the AMPTP doesn’t want to ever pay us anything. If you think these people are so reasonable and that they deal in good faith, then try talking to writers who work in Animation and Reality… THAT is the future that the AMPTP has in store for EVERY WRITER IN THE WGA. Because if they don’t have to pay residuals to the woman who wrote The Lion King, then why should they ever have to pay one to YOU? Or anyone else?

Oh, and before you give me some fucking sob story about the disastrous strike of 1988, let me bring you up to date with a more RECENT story: mine.

I came to this guild having had a “successful” career writing Animation for $1400/week for five years. During that time, I wrote on several of Nickelodeon’s highest-rated shows. My writing partner wrote and directed 1/4 of the episodes of “SpongeBob SquarePants” and I was responsible for 1/5 of the episodes of “The Angry Beavers.” The current value that those shows have generated for Viacom? $12 Billion dollars. My writing partner topped out at $2100/week. In the year 2001, tired of not receiving residuals for my endlessly- repeating work (even though the actors and composers for my episodes do), I joined with 28 other writers and we signed our WGA cards.

So, Nickelodeon quickly filed suit against our petition for an election, and set about trying to ferret out who the “ringleaders” were. In the meantime, they canceled the show that I had created 4 episodes into an order of 26. Then they fired the 3 writers who’d been working on my show. Then they fired 20 more of my fellow writers and shut down three more shows, kicking almost their entire primetime lineup for 2002 to the curb, and laying off 250 artists.

Then, once the WGA’s petition for election was tied up in court over our illegal firings, Nickelodeon called in the IATSE Local 839 “Cartoonists Guild” — a racket union which exists only the screw the WGA and its own members — and they signed a deal which forever locks the WGA out of Nickelodeon, even though we were there first. Neato!

Then Nickelodeon’s brass decided —out of thin fucking air— that myself and two other writers had been “the ringleaders” of this organizing effort, so they called around to Warner Bros. Animation, the Cartoon Network, Disney Animation, and Fox Kids, effectively blacklisting the three of us out of animation permanently.

And why did Nickelodeon do this? Why were they so eager to decimate their own 2002 schedule, fire 24 writers, break multiple federal labor laws, sign a union deal, and to even bring back the fucking blacklist? They did all of that to prevent us from getting the same whopping $5 residual that the actors & composers of our shows get.

For five lousy fucking bucks, they destroyed three people’s careers and put 250 artists out of work and fucked up their own channel for a year.

Ahh, but my episodes run about 400 times a year worldwide, though, so obviously Sumner Redstone (Salary in 2001: $65 million dollars) and Tom Freston (2001 salary: $55 million) were right to do what they did… myself and those other 23 writers might have broken the bank, what with each of us going to cost them another TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS each! OH NO! That… that’s… FORTY EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS!

A YEAR!

So don’t come crying to those of us who have EXPERIENCED what the AMPTP plans for all of the rest of you, that people who are deciding to stand up to bully-boy tactics like that are the crazy bunch of “horads” lustily marching “throught” the streets searching for blood. The AMPTP are the barbarians sacking Rome in this scenario.

The AMPTP and their glittering-eyed weasel lawyers are a bunch of lying, blacklisting, law-breaking scumbags, and the fact that they haven’t budged off of ANY of their proposals in the last three months proves that what they have in store for EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU is exactly what they did to us at Nickelodeon, and what they can do any day of the week in daytime animation. Or reality.

Strike or no strike. That’s their plan: to winnow down your membership, to snip away at your MBA, to chew away at your health & pension plans until there’s just nothing left of the WGA. Why? Because they’ve had a good strong drink of how much money they make off of animation when they don’t have to cut the creators in for any of the cash, and now they want to extend that free ride to all of live action as well. THAT is why they have pushed for this strike at every step, with their insulting press releases, with their refusals to negotiate, etc. — because they’re HOPING we go on strike, and that enough cowards and Quislings come crawling out of the woodwork after six weeks that they can force us to accept the same deal that Reality TV show writers have.

If you doubt me, go read their contract proposals again… there’s not ONE of them which isn’t an insult and a deal-breaking non-starter.

So can we PLEASE stop hearing about how it’s the current WGA management which is the fucking problem here? Because, frankly, that canard is getting a little stale.

Or perhaps you prefer presidents like the President of the Guild back in 2001 who just threw up her hands when we were fired and blacklisted out of our careers and said, and I quote, “oh well, it was a good try”?''

A screwing is a screwing is a screwing. The WGGB have indicated their full support for the WGA strike and while that means fuck all in real terms for the vast majority of us, at least I hope our American brothers know they have it.

For those of us it does affect, I refer you to the words of pastor Martin Niemoller. ''When they came for me there was no one left to defend me."

How I Learned to Stop Slacking Off and Love Being Green

Going green is all the rage now. But not just as a mere fad. No indeed. This shift in societal habits goes far beyond choosing bell bottoms versus straight legs --this is downright serious. There's an urgency here and almost everybody (at least in my own social circles) can feel it. We have been inwardly gripped by the severity of the matter in such a way as to change our lives forever.

So what took us so long?

It's not like we didn't KNOW that pollution was a bad thing. From high brow intelectuals who read Scientific American, down to blue collar teens who watch a steady diet of nature-fights-back creature features on the Sci-Fi Cnhanel, we've all known pretty much since the 1970's that permanent and irreversible damage was in store for the whole planet if we didn't cease and desist our reckless mucking up of things. Yet we still thoughtlessly tossed candy wrappers on the ground and drove gas guzzlers.

I can't speak for everyone else. So I'll just limit all the flagellation and brow-beating to myself for the ramainder of this essay.

Basically, I have always vascilated back and forth all throughout my adult life between being very very organized and moderately chaotic. My spurts and blurts of hummingly impressive efficiency can get easilly undermined by a cross-country move (I have endured more than one such move) or an onset of sickness (I have definitely suffered from ill-health many times in my life, especially accute respiratory distress that's kept me in bed for a week or more). So, I have repeatedly prioritized speed, efficiency, and household cleanliness over and above Mother Earth.

Ziplock plastic baggies were perhaps my most heinous sin: I would endlessly utilize ziplock baggies when storing food in the fridge or packing for a bag lunch. I always had no less than four types of ziplocks in my kitchen drawer at all times: gallon-sized, quart-sized, "snack-sized," and sandwich-sized. Ziplock baggies were SOOOOO easy and SOOOOO sanitary and SOOOOO conveneint. And whenever I was done using a baggie, did I recycle it and use it again? Not on your life! STRAIGHT into the trash with it! I always used a fresh clean one every single time.

I remember my old college friend Paula. I spent a summer living with her and her husband about fifteen years ago in between semesters, and she was a VERY green person all the way back then, well before it was "in" to be green. She was quite adamant that ALL plastic baggies in the house needed to be re-washed and re-used. That really skeeved me out! --Especailly when I realized she was re-washing the same gallon-sized freezer baggies that she had used to store the raw chicken parts she'd cooked up for our dinner the night before. I could feel the lingering film of grease on the inside of the baggie as I lifted it out of the dish strainer. Sorry, Paula, call me selfish but in my take on things, risking salmonella is NOT an acceptable trade-off in exchange for saving a few drops of petroleum at the plastics factory or a few milimeters of space in the landfill. So while I begrudgingly adhered to her baggie-washing ways while living under her roof, I did NOT carry that habit with me later in life. I alone probably singlehandedly raised the stock price for the Glad corporatrion by a few eighths of a point for a solid ten years there.

Look. Life is busy. Germs are a concern. The chaos of inefficiency is always a threat. Whenever I set out to get things clean and orderly I really do my very best to get them whipped into shape. In fact, I went to my Mom's house last month to help her with her bills (her eyes are failing and she can't write the checks any longer). And when I walked into her home office I saw that it had become overrun with years of bills that she had given up properly filing anymore. So I spent a week going through and tidying up, reorganizing her filing system and getting her bills up to date. When I was done I had stuffed SEVEN black drawstring trash bags full of needless paper and nonsense--the stuff she thought she needed to hang onto like the outer envelopes of the bills, and the high-gloss inserts that come with those bills. This unsettling experience of seeing what my mother had allowed to happen to her home office kind of reminded me of my first semester in college back in the late-1980's. My dorm room was choked by stacks and stacks of all the paper and documents that were constantly flooding into my life via classroom requirements and my campous mailbox. I was so overwhelmed by the unending flow of paper into my tiny little dormitory living space that I imagined doing a satirical student film about the experience. In my mind --in this film that I sadly never made-- I envisioned a Freshman in his nice tidy dormroom, standing up from his nice tidy bed, going to the closed door of his room, opening the closed door of his room, and then a massive tsunami of millions of tons of paper exploding into his dorm room in an endless deluge (I envisioned this storm-surge of paper lasting a solid six or seven seconds), sweeping him off his feet, and filling the room to capacity in mere seconds. After my freshman year was done I eventually got a handle on how to keep those mountains of paper under control, and at that point the priority in my life was NOT being green, just being organized. I was actually living in constant fear of NOT being organized from that time forward. Afterall, the IRS doesn't audit you for failing to recycle, nor do they give you special consideration for having a small carbon footprint. I was an adult now. So being accountable to my professors and their deadlines, and accountable to the Registry of Motor Vehicles and their deadlines, and being accountable to the IRS and their dealines just seized me with a terror that drove me toward keeping track of absolutely everything. So having my personal filing systems up to date and keeping entropy at bay became my ongoing mission in life. That and having lots of nice clean ziplock baggies with which to store my chicken parts and pack my lunches.

One of the things my Mom does that really drives me crazy is she eats frozen dinners and leaves the empty boxes and plastic trays hanging around. I often walk into the kitchen and find two or three such discarded boxes and two or three empty plastic food trays left on the countertop. "Mom," I ask, "why don't you ever throw them away?" She explains that she sometimes forgets because she ALWAYS intends --when she's done-- to re-insert the plastic tray back into the cardboard box, and then throw them both away into the trash can in that fashion "because it saves space in the landfill when you compress them back together like that rather than throwing them away as two separate entities." But for some reason she just hasn't ingrained that entire stuff-the-tray-back-into-the-box ritual into her daily lifestyle yet. (I am already in communication with my older brothers at this time to have my mother placed in an assisted living facility. She is truly getting beyond the ability to care for herself.) My reaction to that save-the-landfil philosophy is: I believe a person needs to get their HOME environment under control before trying to do anything on behalf of the REST of the environment. And thus do I now confess why I have failed to be CONSISTENTLY green over the years.

Every time I move, things can get way out of hand as far as the organization in my personal living space. I can't be worried about the landfills and the ozone when I have to be at work for a 7:30 AM meeting and yet simultaneously get my latest Mastercard payment into the mail. Rushing and striving and fighting against the chaos prompts one to take shortcuts like skipping that morning shower and swinging into the drive-through at McDonald's. We are indeed a throw-away society, stressed for time, and not only are our bodies paying for it, but --so it would seem-- the planet is as well. Yes, I have known since I was a kid about the evils of pollution and the "duty" we each have to lighten the load on the environment. But when the number of items on my plate every day are piled so high and spilling over so gratuitously that I can't even see the corners of the placemat anymore, something has to be compromised. So I have spent almost all of my frenetic adut life operating with a somewhat guilt-ridden disregard for the eco-system, comforted by the assurance of non-contaminated food afforded by my copious stores of ziplock baggies.

And then along came the too-good-for-the-Sci-Fi-Channel "The Day After Tomorrow," followed a few years later by the Scientific American-ish "An Inconvenient Truth." And so my baggies suddenly became a capital crime, a mortal sin of which I have heartily repented. The paradigm shift has indeed taken hold. I am now green, and much to my surprise I don't mind it at all. Paula was cool long before I ever was, but at least I'm finally keeping up with the Jones'.

I am still somewhat annoyed and saddened by my mother's backward priority to (try to) keep the planet clean when she can't even keep her own house clean. And I constantly struggle with the daily pile on my plate, although I'm happy to report that I can at least consistently see the place setting now adays, and even the little flowers that border the rim of the china. Were it that there was enough time on my hands and enough money in my account, I would surely be the model of greenenization. For now I merely do what I can, including washing out SOME of my ziplock baggies (although if raw chicken was ever involved, that baggie goes straight into the trash, no hesitation whatsoever).

My own wish-fantasy is that a huge push toward geo-thermal power would happen right now. To me geo-thermal is the way to go. The molten magma in the Earth can supply a literally endless resource of heat for steam-driven power plants, and the beauty of it is that it would all be neatly tucked underground. Unlike wind farms and solar collection facilities, geo-thermal plants are hidden beneath our feet. The only drawback to geo-thermal that my couch potato education on the topic points toward is that maybe there could be times when we might not be able to control the lava. While I haven't been reading up in Scientific American about it, my Sci-Fi Channel opinion is that maybe pricking a few too many shafts deep into the Earth's crust could perhaps trigger an unintended lava flow or two, making Three Mile Island look as insignificant as a busted fire hydrant.

So yes, I'm green and it's not as painful as I imagied it might be. And when I'm not guilt-tripping myself over all those years of being a Mother Earth slacker I look eagerly toward science as they strive for alternate energy sources. Meanwhile, maybe I can come up with the chemical formulation of a new cleaning product that would guarantee a ziplock baggie to come out of the wash as sanitary as before it was ever used. After developing that product, I'd then need to then find a way to package it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Daniel only prayed during his lunch breaks, you know.

I see no need to worry over a person of religious faith holding public office. I instead would be far more inclined to take issue if a person prone to faulty reasoning were to achieve a public office.

For instance, I'd most likely question the faculties of any candidate who somehow deduced that people of faith are not fit for public office.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Success and Failure

I have never weathered failure very well. Maybe that's a shortcoming. As Winston Churchill said:

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to the next
with no loss of enthusiasm.”

And as James Dyson (another Briton, incidentally) said:

“Enjoy failure and learn from it. You can never learn from
success.”

I suppose I'd like at least SOME success for a little change of pace though.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Christians and Lawyers and Integrity Music

I need LEGAL permission to use an Integrity's Hosannah! song in my screenplay. It's "In Him We Live" by Randy Speir. Here's what I'm doing and why I'm doing it.

The song itself has a certain place in American church culture. Now, we all know that "Amazing Grace" is considered "the anthem of the Church." But this song -- while not an anthem (nor even a true "hymn") -- is an undeniably iconic song in this generation's current hymnology. While it's true that the words themselves are from the Bible, and therefore the words are in public domain (and therfore I could conceivably whip up my own silly melody to go with the words), the real heart of the matter is that the SONG has a place in our culture that I can't possibly duplicate. And part of the overarching goal of this movie script is that it attempts to "tap into" the more deeply seated elements of current day Christian culture--including our current music. It's sort of like certain films need to tap into the rock music of a specific era. A few of the more famous examples from film history would be

--"The Big Chill" which was an 80's movie that tapped into the iconic music from the 1960's
--"American Grafitti" a 1970's film that tapped into the iconic music from the 1950's and 1960's
--"Moulin Rouge" was a recent film (from the 00's) that took place over 100 years ago, but tapped into the music of the 1960's and 1970's.

So I truly feel that I absolutely MUST have this song. It's got all of the following:

--it's got the absolute and unabashedly correct theology that I so desperately need for this very precise moment of the film
--it's written in a pentatonic scale (which means it's written in a simplified musical scale which children can sing)
--it's very upbeat
--and it's culturally iconic to the America Christian sub-culture

NO OTHER SONG captures ALL of the above! There is NO OTHER SONG that I can possibly use!

Meanwhile, I spent the last six hours reasearching the whole thing on the internet. And here's what I found out:

There are several different licenses one needs to get when seeking to duplicate/use a song, especially in a film. These licenses are generally obtained directly from the publisher.

A Master Use License
A Mechanical Use License
A Synchronization License
A Print License

I originally (and naively) thought if I could just contact Mr. Speir directly, he'd be like "Sure! No problem! I'm honored!" But when I found out today (after searching the US Copyright Office web site, as well as the Christian Copyright License International web site) that Integrity Music (not Mr. Speir) holds the actual copyright, I knew I had to contact THEM and not him. Turns out that Integrity Music has one whole section of their web site devoted specifically to requests for these licenses. And a sub-section for church groups who seek the non-profit usage of their music. I suspect it's probably an entire department of ten or more people who hande this stuff all day long! And I also suspect there's probably more than one in-house lawyer there who specializes in copyright law who is also on staff full time in that department.

So I composed the following e-mail and will be sending it off to them in the next 48 hours (after I get my PDF's set up).

Wish me luck! (or good fortune--or Godspeed --whatever)


Here's the e-mail:




Hello,

I am an amateur screenwriter who just completed my first feature-length movie script. The script is Christian in nature and in theme. And as far as the "severity" of its storyline and overall content, the script is currently "up to standard" for the requirements of a contest called "The Kairos Prize," which is the most prestigious Christian screenwriting contest to date in the entire film industry.

http://www.kairosprize.com/kps06/frontpage.html

That contest maintains very high standards of integrity and decency -- in other words, all script submissions must have ZERO instances of profanity, sexuality, nudity, severe violence, cruelty, and innuendo. Also, the purpose of the contest is to promote the writing and producing of scripts which in some way glorify God. The top three winners every year are given the opportunity to pitch their scripts to the big name studios.

Two different scenes in my script depict a small choir of children singing a song during a church service. The song I have chosen is UTTERLY pertinent to a key point of the story's overarching plot line on many levels (thematic, symbolic, cultural, and theological). In other words: without this one song, the entire script is close to useless. The song in question is:

http://www.ccli.com/songsearch/skins/visit...display_options

In Him We Live
CCLI Song No. 17274
Author: Randy Speir

Copyright: 1986 Integrity's Hosanna! Music

Catalog: Integrity's Hosanna! Music
Admin: Integrity Music, Inc.

I would like to enter my script in this year's Kairos Prize Contest. However, I will obviously need the permission of Integrity Music and also (I believe) Mr. Speir.

I'm not completely certain, but I think I need some or all of the following before I can move forward with my script:

1) A "Print License" for the electronic and hard copy versions of the script I've written, as well as for permission to make additional electronic and hard copies of the script to distribute amongst any potential producers, cast and crew for any potential film deal that might result
2) A "Mechanical License" for permission to have a team of child actors sing/record the song on camera during the film shoot and/or in a recording studio during post-production of any film deal that might result
3) A "Synchronization License" (not sure about this one because I was under the impression that a Sync License is only needed when a filmmaker wants to use the original recording of the song by the original artist, not an alternate recording made specifically for the film)
4) A "Master Use License" (again -- not sure, for the same reasons as #3 above).
5) Other (?)

In this e-mail, I have attached a PDF copy of the entire script, and also a smaller PDF of just the "page before, page of, and page after" of the two (2) sections in the script where the song is used.

Please let me know if Integrity Music or Mr. Speir will need anything further in their consideration of granting me the necessary permissions.

Thank you so much.

--(My name)


Name
Address
Phone
sandwich board room at yahoo dot com

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Logline-Synopsis Query for AH7

Okay, guys, here is THE e-mail query that I have been sending out. And it's also the one that got the positive response from that one prodco (see previous post). This query took me several months to craft. I recently read that writing the logline alone can take almost as long as writing the script itself. And boy do I beleieve it!

--------------------------------------------

Hi [name of executive deleted]!

I sat in on last night's [name of radio show deleted] interview you had with [name of radio host deleted]. Thanks so much for doing the interview. Your enthusiasm is amazing! (And that pitch for your TV pilot called [name of TV pilot deleted] brought me to tears! I can't wait to see it!)

My feature-length script is a romantic comedy in the same neighborhood of hilarity as "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." Which is to say: it's a poignant kitchen-sink piece with an ongoing tension, underscored by constant humor.

I wrote it with Jim Carrey in mind for the lead role, with "Bruce Almighty" as my original inspiration.

Thanks!

--Sheila West [and you guys all know this is NOT my real name]

---------------------------------------------------

TITLE: The Angels of Highway 7

GENRE:
Romantic Comedy with strong Fantasy/Spiritual elements

LOGLINE: Think Roswell, New Mexico ...... but with alleged angels instead of alleged aliens.

SYNOPSIS: The ailing desert town of Harksville hires a shallow promotional expert, GALVIN REED, 32, to come in and advise them on how to revitalize their economy after the local army base shuts down. He falls for a local pottery shop owner, PERCY WINTERS, 29, who unsuccessfully hides from him her own growing financial desperation. Deeply moved by her predicament, he sets out to exploit the forgotten legacy found in decades-old newspaper reports of angels sighted on the local highway. With his skill as a promotional expert, he secretly fans the flames of rumor and speculation, triggering a booming tourism industry that transforms Harksville into the Roswell of angel enthusiasts. But little does he realize, most legends are based on truth. And so the REAL angels of Highway 7 eventually catch up to him.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Where have I been?

Hi guys,

Sorry for the long hiatus. Here's my lame-o excuse:

Back in early April is when I finally finished my screenplay "The Angels of Highway 7." That original April draft was an unmanageable 270 pages. I spent a lot of time revising it and by early June I got it down to a quasi-acceptable 123 pages. (Some would argue it STILL needs to get down to 120 or lower, but I just can't do it!) And then I began sending out queries to production companies. So I have been utterly enamored with the querying process. Thus my absence from my blog.

I've sent out about a dozen queries total so far. Most of the time I never heard back from the companies. Two of them did get back with "Thanks, but not for us. Good luck."

And last week, I finally got a bite. It's a pretty well-respected prodco. They've got a name for themselves in Hollywood. And the e-mail query came back with a "Hi! I'd love to read it! I'm cc-ing my assistant with instructions for him to send you our release form! And please give us 6 to 8 weeks to get back to you!" And then the assistant e-mailed me the release form with instructions to either fax the form and e-mail the script, or snail-mail the form and script together. I e-mailed the script, and then ran to Staples and faxed the release form. That was this past Friday.



Wow. This is so surreal.






I recall reading the following statistics:

1) At this moment, there are millions and millions of half-finished, incomplete scripts kicking around the desktops and hard-drives of wannabe writers all over Hollywood (and even all over the world).

2) Only about a million scripts per year get finished.

3) Of those, only about 600,000 per year get read by executives, producers and agents.

4) Of those, only about 20,000 per year get bought/optioned (some for as little as a dollar).

5) Of those, only about 9,000 per year BEGIN production (by big studios or small indie outfits and everyone else in between).

6) Of those, only about 4,000 per year COMPLETE production.

7) Of those, only about 800 a year hit any form of distribution (either in theatres or festivals or straight-to-DVD)

8) Of those, only about 200 a year hit wide distribution.

9) Of those, only about 100 a year are financial successes.


So, two months ago, I left Tier #1 of the incomplete script club, and progressed into Tier #2 where I joined the ranks of those with a finished work.

And as of last week I progressed yet again to Tier #3 of having a script that is actually going to get read by someone.

Will I progress any further?

Every single one of these Tiers has any of a dozen terrible pitfalls that accompany it. Every last one comes equipped with an ejector button where I can get jettisoned right down the trap-door garbage chute hidden in the floor beneath my feet -- rejected by anyone at any point and sent all the way back to Square One again where I might have to consider my script incomplete and in need of a rewrite.

What a nerve-racking business. I just wanna tell stories.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Pay me NOT to abort my child

That's about the size of this 8-day-old web site's message:

http://www.helpmybabylive.com/


The world has 90 days (82 days now) to cough up $50K, or this guy and girl will abort.

Wow. Just wow.

So when the heck is Fox News gonna pick this one up? CNN? Larry King Live? Keith Olbermann? Jon Stewart? Stephen Colbert? Or would they maybe rather NOT give this web site the free publicity?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I am "well-respected" (or so my reputation score says)

Yes! I just hit 50 points as of today in my reputation score of that way-cool message board community. And the magic number 50 pushed me over the border from being "on a distinguished road" to being "well-respected."

Ha! I love it!

I wonder what my score will say when I hit 100. Can't want to find out!

Friday, May 25, 2007

I did something very he-man-ish and very mechanical/technical today!

All by myself!

I installed an inline switch onto the electrical cord of one of my lamps!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

All it takes is a razor and a screwdriver and about ten minutes (five if you're fast).

I RULE!!!!!!


Oh, and ... this is also the first time I've ever posted an image here in my blog. So it's a red letter day all around!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Yes, True Believers -- American Movie-Goers DO Still Exist!

The latest Spider-Man installment followed in its predecessors' footsteps and likewise broke opening-day records. Yesterday, Spider-Man 3 achieved the the highest grossing opening day ever: $56 million was raked in from (eeh gads!) 10,000 screens across the USA. (Yes, 10,000 screens!) It's expected that just this weekend alone will bring in well-over $150 million at the US box office for the picture.

http://boxofficemojo.com/news/?id=2307&p=.ht

Who said nobody goes to the movies anymore?

Getting down and dirty with the numbers ......

With a budget of $258 million (I suspect that might be another record) the "double or nothing" rule dictates that it needs to make exactly double the budget before it breaks even. So, between domestic and foreign, it needs to generate over $516 million world wide in order NOT to be considered a flop. I have confidence that it will indeed deliver on that expectation. And I'm not even counting the "after-market" of DVD sales and renatls.

And then there's ALLLLLLL that merchandising.

Yes ... what a wonderful bird the cinema are.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Reputation Points -- What a cool idea for a message board!

I recently joined a message board community with "reputation points" built into the board. If I like someone, or just like the post they just made, I click their "reputation" button (a set of balancing scales) found in that particular post and then they get one more point added to their overall score.

I didn't know about this at first. And then the other day I was in my profile and I saw some permenent-looking feature in the control panel that said I had 16 points.

What?????

I had to do some digging around to find out what that meant. You start off as a Newbie with 10 points, and then it grows from there. I had accumulated 6 additional points from people and never knew it. And all of them were "positive" (yes, you can give someone negative points too!) As of five minutes ago, I have 30 points.

Right now, my score equals the following label:

"You are on a distinguished road."

I have been checking other people's labels too. (I can't see the number of points they have, only their labels.) There are SO MANY! Somewhere (only the mods know) there is a master list of ALL the labels, and how many points your have to accumulate to progress to the next label. I will now post those labels in no particular order:



This poster has a spectacular aura.

This poster is well-respected.

This poster is a shiny, shiny jewel.

This poster has earned our admiration.

This poster is so great that we've run out of appropriate compliments. (Usually only moderators have achieved THIS level.)

This poster should run for president. (Usually long-term veterans have this one.)

This poster is a splendid one to behold.

This poster is a glorious beacon of light.

This poster is better than ice cream with hot fudge.

This poster has a golden reputation.

This poster is a candidate for sainthood.

This poster leaves trails of profuse coolness.

This poster is on a golden path.




I notice other newbies like me (less than two months there, less than 100 posts) likewise have the label "on a distinguished road." So I am assuming that "on a distinguished road" is the lowest score you can have. But then I also notice that the annoying jerks in that message community who have over a thousand posts and been there two years are ALSO "on a distinguished road." So me be thinking the jerko's ain't got too many points yet--either they rarely get good points, or the few they do get are constantly negated by the bad points. And I'm kinda curious to see how long it'll take before I can surpass them (which I won't be able to know until my label changes!)

This is a great way to coerce people into keeping thnigs civil and pouring on extra layers of nicey-nice. Instead of the negative reinforcement of the "Report" button, it's positive reinforcement of "Reputation Points." And no mod needs to ever be in the loop for these points. The disciplanry issues practically take care of themselves! It's a moderator's dream come true!

It is my intention to keep posting at this message board, to keep accumulating points, and to crack the code and decipher what all the break-points are for progressing to the next level. (Not that the overall coolness of the board doesn't already keep me there.)

Stay tuned!

All right all of you! Roll call!

Who's here? How did you find my blog? Do I have any "regulars" that have ever bookmarked me? And what can you all tell me about yoursleves?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

"The Hook" and "The Inciting Moment"

Here's a HUGE piece of my script-- 20 pages and no less than 5 scenes. THIS excerpt (I think) embodies the "inciting moment" and the "hook." THIS EXCERPT IS THE HEART OF THE ENTIRE STORY!!! And it's also the part where Jim Carrey (if he plays my main protag) can REALLY show off his Jim Carrey-isms.

My secondary protagonist, David, also has his own character arc hinted at in these scenes.

Here's a breakdown of what's important to me in these pages:

1. My antagonist, Mr. Darius, unknowingly speaks no less than eight passages from the Bible. He is merely using common every day expressions in his conversation, but they ALL come straight from Scripture.

2. Mr. Darius' words and attitudes all fly in the face of a sermon that David preaches in a earlier scene. (David is a man Mr. Darius has never even met before.) Here's the scene from David's sermon that Mr. Darius unknowingly echoes for us. It should take no more than 18 seconds of screen time for this sermon:

MONTAGE OF DAVID'S SERMON

................... DAVID
......... …The 3 virtues of faith hope and love…
......... …The King James word charity is often
......... interchangeable with the word love…
......... …True love is like true charity: it
......... expects nothing in return. It freely
......... gives with no expectation of getting
......... anything back. As soon as repayment is
......... expected, it ceases to be charity and
......... becomes a cold, icy business deal with
......... a strong measure of coercion mixed in…
......... …When it comes to charitable giving,
............ (holds up his left then right arm)
......... your left hand is not supposed to know
......... what your right hand is doing…

END MONTAGE



3. Mr. Darius also speaks the three words "faith," "hope," and "charity" at least once each during the course of his conversation with Galvin (again, echoing David's sermon).

4. Mr. Darius also unknowingly echoes David's words from the opening scene of the script (the town meeting scene) where David speaks against the evils of casinos. In that scene, David said to the crowd: "They could bring us the whole world right to our doorstep. But what does it profit a town if it gains the whole world only to lose its soul?"

5. David tells Galvin about "the smell of the desert after the rain," a poetic reference that plays out importantly in the script's climax.




BACKGROUND: Galvin got a personal e-mail from Mr. Darius, the head of the Darius Foundation (the Darius Foundatrion is a charitable organization that underwrites some of Galvin's small town clients). Mr. Darius normally operates out of New York, but he happens to be in Frankling City this week, (about 3 hours away from Harksville) and has asked Galvin to drive out and have lunch with him. Galvin thinks this might be a job offer. When he arrives, he finds out what the Darius Foundation really is:






EXT. PARSONAGE GARAGE - WEDNESDAY - DAWN

Galvin gets in his car and begins to drive. He arrives at

FRANKLIN CITY, and it's ........... a casino town.

He nervously goes to the destination building: a high rise.
The front desk security guard gestures to the elevators.

He exits the elevator at "Darius Enterprises." Stunned, he
goes to the receptionist who points to a long hall leading to
a double-door with 2 GUARDS. They let him enter a power-laden

CORNER OFFICE

Mr. Darius rises from his DESK with his soft, kind voice:

................... MR. DARIUS
......... Hello, Galvin. So good to finally meet
......... you. Pleas have a seat.

Galvin slowly goes forth, terrified, but trying to smile. He
passes a HUGE TABLE and sits in a CHAIR before the desk.

................... MR. DARIUS
......... I would like to give Harksville a
......... small towns development grant.

................... GALVIN
.............. (completely relieved)
......... That's fantastic! Do I get to tell
......... them the good news myself?

................... MR. DARIUS
......... I'm not firmly decided yet. I'd LIKE to
......... give them a grant. But first I need some
......... assurances. They're nearly bankrupt. No
......... sense revitalizing a town that's going to
......... die. That'd be little more than casting
......... my pearls to swine.

................... GALVIN
......... I suppose that's… reasonable. But,
......... isn't the point of these grants merely
......... to give small towns a CHANCE to
......... survive? Or a SECOND chance, so to
......... speak? So nothing is ever assured.

In the foreground sits a SCULPTURE of 2 6-sided dice. We peer
through to Mr. Darius who walks to the Huge Table explaining:

................... MR. DARIUS
......... Chance? I don't deal with chance. Only
......... fools operate on hope and chance. I
......... prefer guarantees and back-up plans. I
......... will give them what they need, but
......... only if they give me what I want.

................... GALVIN
......... So it's not really a grant then.

................... MR. DARIUS
......... How is this NOT a grant?

................... GALVIN
......... A grant is a gift ... of charity.

................... MR. DARIUS
......... This IS charity. I merely expect some-
......... thing in return for my charity is all.

Mr. Darius HITS a SWITCH. A HOLOGRAM glows on the Huge Table
showing Harksville, the army base, and a CASINO midway. The army
base itself is now an airfield. Animated PLANES FLY.

................... MR. DARIUS
......... That was very insightful of you to
......... second guess the potential for the
......... army base to be converted into an air-
......... port. Our architects also discerned
......... that. You're good at your job, Galvin.
......... I knew I made the right decision when
......... I chose to subsidize your work.

................... GALVIN
......... I thought I was being subsidized by a
......... non-profit, charitable foundation.

................... MR. DARIUS
............ (holds up his left then right arm)
......... The Darius Foundation is my charitable
......... arm. Darius Enterprises is my profitable
......... arm. Sometimes they work together.

................... GALVIN
......... The Oversight Committee wants to make
......... the base into a retirement community.

................... MR. DARIUS
......... They can build an old folks home one
......... day, but right now a casino takes prior-
......... ity. And all casinos need airports.
............... (noting Galvin's hesitation)
......... Don't look so sad, Galvin, I'm going
......... to be their salvation. I will bring
......... them the whole world right to their
......... doorstep. I do need your continued
......... help though. Two things Galvin. First
......... I need the names of those individuals
......... who are the most outspoken against a
......... casino. They'll need to be persuaded.

................... GALVIN
......... All of Harksville is against it.
......... There's no ONE specific individual
......... single-handedly rallying the war cry.

................... MR. DARIUS
......... What about this Pastor David Brown?

................... GALVIN
......... … Did I … mention him … in my reports?

................... MR. DARIUS
......... No. But he was in the Harksville
......... Herald's online story of last week's
......... town meeting. The paper said he made
......... compelling arguments that night. You
......... were there, Galvin. Is he a threat?
......... Will he need some persuading?

................... GALVIN
......... Compelling? The paper exaggerated.
......... He's a TERRIBLE public speaker.
......... Pathetic. I don't know if he even went
......... to college. But he's not your problem.
......... The whole town is unanimously against
......... casinos. Seems like a losing battle to me.

................... MR. DARIUS
......... That's your second task, Galvin:
......... persuading the rest of the town.

................... GALVIN
......... ........ How can I do that?

................... MR. DARIUS
......... You're already "imbedded." They like
......... you. They trust you. They followed
......... your every suggestion right down to
......... composing the ballot. You need to
......... make more suggestions now. Convince
......... them to vote casino. And I will give
......... them a grant.

................... GALVIN
......... How much is this grant going to be?

................... MR. DARIUS
......... 12 million. Enough to renovate the
......... theatre, update the utilities, and
......... repave the roads.

................... GALVIN
......... What if they want more than that?

................... MR. DARIUS
......... Beggars can't be choosers.

................... GALVIN
......... What if they don't want to update the
......... utilities or that other stuff? Maybe
......... they'd rather build a hospital.

................... MR. DARIUS
......... Unfortunately, the grant is not to be
......... used for anything than what I specify.
......... And the Darius Foundation also has
......... final say on which construction
......... companies get the various contracts.

Galvin glances to one side of the room. He sees TOY MODELS of
earth moving equipment labeled "Darius Construction." Looking
back to the hologram, he notices a detail which disturbs him:

................... GALVIN
......... The movie theatre: you're planning to
......... make it into a night club?

................... MR. DARIUS
......... A gentleman's club. I have here --

Mr. Darius goes back to his desk and PULLS OUT an ENVELOPE.

................... MR. DARIUS
......... --a letter to the Harksville Oversight
......... Committee, itemizing the terms of the
......... grant. Attached is a teller's check
......... for 12 million payable to the Town of
......... Harksville. Deliver it, give them the
......... good news, and show them the light.

Galvin hesitantly takes the envelope. Then takes a PUFF.

................... MR. DARIUS
......... I expect one of two things in the next
......... month Galvin: either my check gets
......... cashed, or Harksville votes for a
......... casino. I have faith in you that one
......... or both will come to pass.

................... GALVIN
......... ................. Of course.

A PAIR of HOTEL WAITERS enter, PUSHING a FOOD CART.

................... MR. DARIUS
......... Lunch is ready. Please join me.

EXT. DESERT HIGHWAY - AFTERNOON

Shell-shocked, Galvin drives, playing an i-Pod on his stereo.

MUSICAL INTERLUDE WHILE DRIVING - reflecting his predicament.

He stops at a gas station. While he's using the rest room,
some kids sneak into his car and steal his i-Pod. He finds his
i-Pod gone. He has to listen to the radio now.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. PARSONAGE STUDY - LATE AFTERNOON

David's at the computer. Donna enters and leans on his neck.

................... DAVID
......... Your father's check cleared already.

................... DONNA
......... When do we tell the boys?

................... DAVID
......... After I strike a price with Larry.

................... DONNA
......... So, have you been listening to Mrs.
......... Joyce's radio series about angels?

................... DAVID
......... Uhhhh, yes I have.

................... DONNA
......... What do you think so far?

................... DAVID
......... Um ... I think her theology needs a
......... little more ... "refinement."

................... DONNA
......... Tonight she does Part 2. How'bout you
......... do an angel series in Bible Study?

................... DAVID
......... I've already told you why I won't.

................... DONNA
......... What are you teaching on tonight?

................... DAVID
......... "Blessing Through Adversity."


EXT. HIGHWAY 7 - NIGHT

Galvin's car passes a SIGN reading "HARKSVILLE 20 MI".

INSIDE HIS CAR

The radio FUZZES. Angry he "searches" and finds PERCY'S SONG.
After a verse Mrs. Joyce PREACHES. He ALMOST hits "off" but:

................... MRS. JOYCE (ON THE RADIO)
......... ... And did something go wrong for you
......... today? Something truly devastating
......... that you totally were NOT expecting?
......... Well I want to assure you that it
......... didn't happen without a reason. God
......... has a plan for your life.

He rolls his eyes and finally turns off the radio.

................... GALVIN
......... Yeah right! God's plan for my life is
......... that I become a mafia weasel! Thanks a
......... lot, God! I've always wanted to be an
......... accidental con artist!

Meanwhile, back in

MRS. JOYCE'S TRAILER HOME - CONTINUOUS

she sits in her wheelchair before a MASSIVE SOUND-BOARD,
speaking to a DANGLING MICROPHONE (with SPIT SHIELD) smok-
ing CIGARETTES and PREACHING about angels. Meanwhile, in

PERCY'S APARTMENT BATHROOM - CONTINUOUS

Percy kneels, doing HAND-LAUNDRY in the TUB. A RADIO in
the next room BLARES with Mrs. Joyce. Meanwhile, in the

FIRE STATION - CONTINUOUS

TWO FIREMEN, 25 & 26, play cards. In the background Carl
squats, cleaning out a storage cabinet. They also have a
RADIO playing with Mrs. Joyce's sermon BLARING.

PARSONAGE STUDY - CONTINUOUS

David works late, also listening to the RADIO. Meanwhile, in

GALVIN'S CAR - CONTINUOUS

................... GALVIN
......... Am I supposed to TELL the people of
......... Harksville that their town is about to
......... be strong-armed away from them by a
......... bunch of mafia thugs? Am I supposed to
......... TELL them that I'm responsible for
......... that? Just what the hell're you gonna
......... do about all this? I admit I'm not the
......... churchiest guy around, but I sure
......... could use a little help right now!

A split-second later, one of his

TIRES

gets a BLOW-OUT. His car SCREECHES off the road and into

A DITCH.

He tries "REVERSE". No good. He CUTS OUT the engine. Angry,
he gets out, SLAMS the door, and holds his cell up high.

................... GALVIN
............. (pleading to the phone)
......... C'mon! Just one bar! Just one!

The phone BEEPS a DISCORDANT TONE indicating no reception.

................... GALVIN
......... DAMMIT!

He SNAPS the phone shut and starts WALKING. He takes a PUFF.

He spots a GLOWING LIGHT IN THE DISTANCE (a trailer home with
a radio transmitter on it). His hopes rise. Meanwhile in

MRS. JOYCE'S TRAILER HOME - CONTINUOUS

Still preaching, focusing on the mike, she crushes out a
CIGARETTE in an ASHTRAY off to one side. A STRAY COAL falls
to the CARPET. She doesn't see this. Meanwhile, out on

HIGHWAY 7 - CONTINUOUS

Galvin is 150 yards from the driveway of the trailer home.

................... GALVIN
......... If the lights are on, then somebody's
......... home, and hopefully they have a
......... telephone! --Hey! That rhymes! (I'm a
......... poet, and I don't even know it!)

He quickens his pace. Meanwhile, in

MRS. JOYCE'S TRAILER HOME - CONTINUOUS

Still preaching, Mrs. Joyce glances down and sees FLAMES
beside her wheelchair. She starts to SCREAM to the mike:

................... MRS. JOYCE
......... Oh my dear lord! My trailer's on fire!
......... Somebody help! Call the fire company!
......... I'm an old lady in a wheelchair and
......... I'm trapped in a trailer fire! Help!

Meanwhile, back at the

FIRE HOUSE - CONTINUOUS

Carl, hearing Mrs. Joyce's SCREAMS, pops his head up. He
looks dumbfounded to the other two firemen. Meanwhile, in

PERCY'S APARTMENT - CONTINUOUS

she jumps up, runs into the kitchen, listens intently to the
SCREAMS, hesitates, then GRABS her PHONE. Meanwhile, in the

PARSONAGE STUDY - CONTINUOUS

David jolts his head in alarm at the radio SCREAMS. After a
second of hesitation, he SNATCHES his PHONE. Meanwhile, in

THE FIRE HOUSE - CONTINUOUS

the firemen gape at each other, hearing these radio SCREAMS.

................... FIREMAN #1
......... Is that old lady joking?

................... CARL
......... Not about something like this!

Carl LEAPS to his feet, RUNS, and HITS the STATION'S ALARM.

Meanwhile, out on

HIGHWAY 7 - CONTINUOUS

Galvin is just 10 yards from the trailer when he sees SMOKE
pouring through WINDOWS and between metal SEAMS. He also sees
the ORANGE GLOW of FLAMES through CURTAINS. He GASPS. Then he
RUNS, hopping the rail onto the porch. He OPENS the DOOR.
FLAMES shoot out at him. He jumps sideways and hears within:

................... MRS. JOYCE (O.C.)
......... HELP ME! MY TRAILER'S ON FIRE!

Hearing this, his alarm grows. He looks around. Meanwhile, in

MRS. JOYCE'S TRAILER - CONTINUOUS

she backs her wheelchair away from the flames and toward the

KITCHEN SINK

and GRABS the NOZZLE and SPRAYS flames with it. No good. Now
she SPRAYS herself with it. The SMOKE THICKENS. She COUGHS and
THROWS herself to the floor (to breathe). Meanwhile,

GALVIN - CONTINUOUS

finds a GARDEN HOSE, but it's too weak. He sees a CLOTHESLINE
with WHITE SHEETS. He RUNS with the hose, aims, SOAKS the
sheets, then SOAKS himself. He YANKS the sheets down and
WRAPS himself in them. Ghost-like, he RUNS to the trailer.

We stay outside and watch him enter the flaming front door.

We dwell on the door frame and breathlessly watch the cruel
flames. And we wonder: are either of them even alive anymore?

Suddenly, we see a VALIANT WHITE-ROBED FIGURE burst forth
from the flaming doorway, carrying the GASPING old lady.

He STAGGERS to the blacktop drive and SETS her down, GASPING.

................... GALVIN
......... Was there anyone else in there?

But she's unconscious now. Galvin looks back at the trailer
just as it IMPLODES in flames. He returns his gaze to her:

................... GALVIN
......... I'll go and get help!

He looks around: no car. Far across the desert, the FAINT
LIGHT of a house on a different road SHINES about a mile off.

He RUNS, eventually SHEDDING the sheets on the desert floor.

He gets to the trailer in a state of ready-to-collapse-of-a-
heart-attack GASPING. A SNARLING DOG blocks the door. Only a
PORCH LIGHT burns. No inside lights. No car. No one's home.

Far off over his shoulder, we see a DISTANT BLAZING DOT: Mrs.
Joyce's home. Between GASPS, he shouts to this new trailer:

................... GALVIN
......... Is anybody home? I need help! There's
......... a fire across the way! There's an old
......... lady who needs an ambulance! Please!
......... If anybody's home! Please dial nine-
......... one-one!

He hears SIRENS far off. His WHEEZING ESCALATING, he turns.

FIRE TRUCKS a mile behind him on Highway 7 head for the fire.

................... GALVIN
............. (to no one, looking at fire)
......... Thank God! She's in safe hands now!
............. (to barking dog trailer)
......... Never mind! (Goddamn useless assholes
......... aren't even home!)

His WHEEZING wins: he SINKS to his knees. Ignoring the dog he
PUFFS madly at a full-blown asthma attack, watching the fire.

SAME - LATER

On his butt, Galvin watches zombie-like: the fire is now out;
the fire trucks sit, ENGINES IDLING, red lights STROBING. The
ambulance DEPARTS the scene, its SIRENS MUFFLED BY DISTANCE.

................... GALVIN
............. (watching ambulance leave)
......... Oh, please, God, please let that poor
......... old lady be okay.

He rises and staggers down the drive to the smaller DIRT
ROAD where a sign reads "Harksville 4 Miles". He walks.

Along the way, he PUFFS his Inhaler and mutters to himself:

................... GALVIN
......... If she lives, then I’m a hero. And so
......... maybe this fiasco with Mr. Darius will
......... be okay! Yeah! The town'll honor me.
......... Throw a banquet. Give me a medal. Then
......... when I explain Mr. Darius wants to
......... take over, they won't actually kill
......... me, they'll just --oh shit! That's
......... only if she lives. Did she survive?
......... Should I have left her there, lying on
......... the ground alone? I had to get help.
......... How was I to know fire trucks would
......... come on their own? If she DIDN'T live,
......... will I be found negligent for leaving
......... her? Maybe I need to call a lawyer! Oh
......... my God! Am I a horrible person for
......... even THINKING all this? Of course not!
......... If I was, I never would've run into a
......... flame-engulfed trailer! I'm a hero
......... goddammit! Yes I am! Yes Percy! Of
......... course I was scared, darling, but I
......... couldn't leave her in there to die! Oh
......... Jesus, I hope that old lady survived.

Next moment: it starts to RAIN. Galvin GROWLS as he PLODS
onward, SLOSHING along the muddy road. After a bit, the rain
STOPS. But he's soaked now. He takes another Inhaler PUFF.

The road comes to a STOP SIGN and joins onto Highway 7.

He takes a PUFF. There at this JUNCTURE he finds the

TOWN MEDICAL CLINIC with its CHOPPER PAD BEACONS LIT.

An AMBULANCE IDLES amid a small CROWD. He enters the crowd.

................... GALVIN
......... What's going on?

................... MEDICAL CLINIC SPECTATOR #1
......... It's Mrs. Joyce. Her trailer caught
......... fire tonight. She was trapped inside.

................... GALVIN
......... Did she make it out alive??????

OFF-SCREEN, far away, a CHOPPER APPROACHES. Heads look up.

................... MEDICAL CLINIC SPECTATOR #1
......... Yeah. She's in there right now and
......... they're pretty sure she'll be okay.

Galvin is visibly relieved. The CHOPPER NOISE gets CLOSER.

................... GALVIN
......... Was anyone else caught in the trailer?

................... MEDICAL CLINIC SPECTATOR #1
......... No. She was all alone.

Galvin's again relieved. We see the chopper's far-off LIGHTS.

................... GALVIN
......... Oh. So, uh … how'd she get out?

................... MEDICAL CLINIC SPECTATOR #1
......... She's usually in a wheelchair, so I
......... guess she just wheeled herself out.

................... MEDICAL CLINIC SPECTATOR #2
......... Not what I heard. I'm told when the
......... firemen arrived, they found her laid
......... out on the ground unconscious. No
......... wheelchair or walker in sight.

The chopper's JUST LOUD ENOUGH NOW so people need to start
raising their voices. It KICKS DUST and FLUTTERS HAIR.

................... GALVIN
......... Did she crawl there on her own? Or…
............. (grinning)
......... …did some anonymous, unsung hero save
......... her life, maybe?

The WIND is GALE-FORCE. Heads duck. Only shouting works now.

................... MEDICAL CLINIC SPECTATOR #2
......... The firemen asked her about that, and
......... she told them it wasn't a man at all
......... who dragged her outside. She said it
......... was an angel from Heaven.

................... GALVIN
......... WHAT???????????????

But no one can hear him because the HELICOPTER IS LANDING.

The CLINIC DOORS OPEN. Two MEDICS ROLL a STRETCHER with Mrs.
Joyce. David walks with them beside her, holding her hand.
Galvin races to her side and shouts over the roaring chopper:

................... GALVIN
......... Mrs. Joyce! Mrs. Joyce! It's me!

David looks up, surprised at this odd outburst from Galvin.

................... FIREMAN #1
......... Back off, man! Give her some room!

They LOAD her on the chopper. Galvin watches helplessly. It
TAKES OFF. David puzzles at Galvin's pining, walks up behind
him, and puts a hand on his shoulder. Galvin ignores this.

................... DAVID
......... She'll be ok. They're just taking her
......... to Bakerton for observation.

................... GALVIN
............. (to the chopper)
......... She said an ANGEL saved her???

The crowd begins DISPERSING. The ambulance PACKS UP and LEAVES.
Galvin stays transfixed on the receding, off-camera chopper.
With the parking lot almost empty, David takes his hand down
from Galvin's shoulder (noticing it's wet).

................... DAVID
......... Galvin, you're soaked! You get caught
......... in the rain just now?

................... GALVIN
............. (avoiding eye-contact)
......... Yes, I did.

................... DAVID
......... Where's your car?

................... GALVIN
............. (still avoiding eye-contact)
......... I got a flat out in the desert... had
......... to walk back to town.

................... DAVID
......... Oh wow! Raw deal! Uhhh … if you want,
......... I can give you a lift back out there
......... right now, and see if we can't change
......... it together.

................... GALVIN
......... No, I'd rather get a shower and deal
......... with it tomorrow. Besides, I think I'm
......... gonna need a tow. It's stuck in a ditch

................... DAVID
......... Martin has a tow truck. We can call
......... him tomorrow. Meanwhile, can I at
......... least drive you back to the parsonage?

................... GALVIN
............. (eye contact, finally)
......... I'd really appreciate that.

They enter DAVID'S CAR and drive. David tries to chat:

................... DAVID
......... Sorry you got caught in the rain. It's
......... rare that it rains out here, and ironic
......... that it happened when you were stuck on foot.

................... GALVIN
......... Irony is so ... ironic at times.

................... DAVID
......... I guess. One thing I do like about the
......... Southwest is the smell of the desert
......... after the rain. It's one of the clean-
......... est most beautiful smells on Earth. I
......... swear Heaven itself must smell like
......... that. I always look forward to it when
......... it rains here. I'm sorry you now have
......... such a negative association with it.

................... GALVIN
......... You don't know the half of it.

................... DAVID
......... So how'd the business lunch go today?

................... GALVIN
......... I don't wanna talk about it.

................... DAVID
......... No problem. Poor Mrs. Joyce! Did you
......... hear the details of the fire?

................... GALVIN
............. (obvious annoyance)
......... I sure did!

................... DAVID
............. (ignoring Galvin's tone)
......... It's a miracle she's alive. They're
......... pretty sure she'll be okay though.

................... GALVIN
......... Yep, a first rate miracle! Complete
......... with a valiant angel who rescued her!

................... DAVID
......... Yeah… that's kinda… interesting. How
......... many other people heard about that?

................... GALVIN
......... Everyone, it seems.

................... DAVID
......... (Oh great! Whole town'll be talking
......... about it tomorrow.)

................... GALVIN
......... You also heard her story?

................... DAVID
......... She told me herself in the clinic.

................... GALVIN
......... Got it straight from the hhhhhhhorse's
......... mouth, eh? (Dumb stupid old nag!)

................... DAVID
......... Uh, yeah, so to speak........ It smell
......... like smoke in here to you?

................... GALVIN
......... I can't tell: my sinuses are acting
......... up, and I got an asthma attack during
......... my walk back in from the desert.

................... DAVID
......... You ok? Shall I stop at the pharmacy?

................... GALVIN
......... I have my inhaler. I'll be fine.

................... DAVID
......... (Maybe it's just residual smoke.)

................... GALVIN
......... So … do you believe her? An angel
......... saved her? Is she crazy?

................... DAVID
......... I have no desire to either comment on
......... other people's mental states or
......... invalidate their faith in God.

................... GALVIN
......... Did she SOUND crazy?

................... DAVID
......... She told me her story but …

FLASHBACK:

Mrs. Joyce lies on a CLINIC BED, OXYGEN on her face. Marissa
dabs at her SOOTY FACE with a WET CLOTH. Mrs. Joyce reaches
out from the bed to someone who approaches. Heads turn: it's
David. He takes her hands. She pulls off the oxygen to speak.

................... MRS. JOYCE
......... Pastor David, God sent an angel to
......... save me! I lay there helpless on the
......... floor of my flaming trailer, asking
......... the Lord Jesus to take me home
......... quickly. And then, there he was: an
......... angel! He wore long white robes that
......... dripped with the dew of Heaven. He
......... picked me up in his powerful arms, and
......... his garments felt cool against my
......... parched lips and face. Then he carried
......... me out into the fresh night air where
......... I once again breathed freely. Then
......... after he set me down gently upon the
......... sweet green Earth, he disappeared in
......... the twinkling of an eye!

David looks up from Mrs. Joyce to the others present (Marissa,
Carl, and other FIREFIGHTERS). He's speechless.

END FLASHBACK

................... DAVID
......... … I really can't discuss that.

................... GALVIN
......... Do you believe in angels? For real?

................... DAVID
......... Sure. It's part of my religion. But
......... all angel encounters need scrutiny.

The car pulls into the

PARSONAGE DRIVEWAY

The car CUTS OUT. They exit the car, SLAMMING doors.

................... GALVIN
......... So, in your expert opinion, do you
......... think maybe she was mistaken about it
......... being an angel who saved her?
............. (notices David's confusion)
......... Maybe the firemen found her on the
......... ground because it was really a PERSON
......... who saved her, but she only MISTAKENLY
......... thought it was an angel.

................... DAVID
......... Maybe so. But why wasn't that person
......... there when the fire trucks arrived?

................... GALVIN
......... Maybe he left to go get help.

They both begin walking up the driveway together.

................... DAVID
......... Now that's an interesting theory. I
......... never would have thought of that.

Galvin's hopes start to rise.

................... DAVID
......... But now that anonymous hero needs to
......... come forward and identify himself.

Galvin smiles and is about to tell all. But then --

................... MANUEL (O.S.)
......... PASTOR DAVID!!

Galvin and David both turn to see the Sheriff coming up the drive.

................... DAVID
......... Hi, Manuel. What can I do for you?

................... MANUEL
......... It's Mrs. Joyce. Can we talk alone?

Galvin raises an eyebrow. David turns to him:

................... DAVID
......... Need anything else tonight, Galvin?

................... GALVIN
......... No, I'm fine. But thanks for the ride.
......... Have a good night! You too, Sheriff.

................... MANUEL
......... Good night, Galvin.

Galvin goes up the steps, OPENS the door, pretends to enter,
and SLAMS it from the outside. He squats and listens.

................... DAVID
......... What's up, Manuel?

................... MANUEL
......... You and I both know Mrs. Joyce didn't
......... crawl from that fire on her own with
......... no wheelchair and no walker. She was
......... dragged out. But not by an angel.

................... DAVID
......... Galvin and I were just saying maybe
......... there's a reluctant hero in town.

................... MANUEL
......... That's what I fear. Ever heard of a
......... messiah complex, Pastor?

................... DAVID
......... You're thinking the person who saved
......... her might also have set the fire?

Galvin silently gasps at such an assumption.

................... MANUEL
......... Some folks will fabricate a crisis to
......... try and engineer their own heroism.

................... DAVID
......... I know the type-- there's one in every
......... church. But setting fire to an old
......... lady's house while she's trapped
......... inside? That's downright criminal!

................... MANUEL
......... That's where I get involved. No one’s
......... claimed to be her hero yet. But if
......... anyone does, I'm less inclined to hand
......... him a medal than I am to read him his
......... rights.

................... DAVID
......... Why hide if his goal is admiration?

................... MANUEL
......... Maybe when he pulled her out he
......... mistakenly thought she was dead and
......... fled in panic. But now that word is
......... out that she's gonna make it--

................... DAVID
......... -- Now I get it. How can I help?

................... MANUEL
......... The standard profile is a male ages 15
......... thru 45 who experienced a recent
......... failure, and now believes an act of
......... public heroism will make up for his
......... failure. If you know anyone fitting
......... that profile, I need you to tell me.

................... DAVID
......... I'm hesitant to betray a confidence.

................... MANUEL
......... Oh come on, Pastor! You're not bound
......... to keep confessions a secret like
......... Father Lorenzo is! And we're talking
......... about attempted murder here!

................... DAVID
......... Does it even look like the fire was
......... deliberate?

................... MANUEL
......... County Fire Marshall has to inspect.
......... It might be a week before we'll
......... know. 'Til then I stay pessimistic.
......... Are you with me?

................... DAVID
......... I'll keep my ears open.

Galvin crouches on the top step, eye bugged out in terror.