Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Almost done with my screenplay "The Angels of Highway 7"

My target date for completion was March 1 (less than two days away). I don't believe I can finish by then. I haven't "finished-finished" the first draft yet (but I'm close). My past experience has been that as soon as I am done, I need another entire week of refinement. I usually need to re-read a script fifteen or twenty times, and tweak, and nudge, and poke, and THEN it's done. So unless I crank out the cappuccinos and stay awake non-stop for the next 36 hours, that target date ain't gonna get met.

One of the things that has held me up was a time line difficulty. I had five events all unfolding simultaneously between three different sub-plots, and I had to make them all come to a head at the same time at the end of a five-week period. And I kept shifting it from five weeks to three weeks to eight weeks to four weeks, etc. (I even had it as a six-month period for a while there). And now I think I've finally nailed it down. Those events were: an upcoming town election, an upcoming town Centennial celebration, the sale of a family heirloom, the exhaustion of the patience of an out-of-town Mafioso, and the installation of a local cellular tower by a cell phone company (not to mention two characters each fulfilling their respective character arcs!). ALL of the above plays into the final climax of the film.

And yes, there's a chase scene at the end too.

After I've actually WRITTEN it, I need to go back and fix a few factual elements to make sure I'm being scientifically accurate about certain things (facts about spider webs and helicopters and ion displacement fields, etc). I also have a few Bible quotations I need to make sure I'm quoting correctly, and some financial data from odd places like the annual GDP for the nation of Scotland.

So no: there' no way I'll be done by March 1. Maybe March 10 though.

Friday, February 16, 2007

The three no-no's of fame

When you are famous (as in a real life celebrity), people will never forgive you for the following offenses:

1) Arrogance, or self-importance of any sort, especially the belittling and tearing down of others.

2) Manipulation, or coercion, or stacking the deck, or going behind people's backs. (Technically, this can include bullying and violence.)

3) Falsity/Non-Credibility, this includes outright lying, hypocrisy, unresolved mental illness, and (here's an oxymoron) a "consistent lack of reliability" in performance and/or in accuracy of information.

Mistakes and failures can be forgiven. Weaknesses and shortcomings can be overlooked. But these three sins are death to any celebrity.

I came to these conclusions the other day (not because I'm famous--and I'm not) after analyzing the lives and foibles of those celebrities who rack up the most controversy: Madonna, Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, John McEnroe, Rosie O'Donnell, Rush Limbaugh, Howard Stern, Pat Robertson.

I also thought deeply about those celebrities who once were dearly and widely loved, but later declined in favor, or else fell outright fell from it: Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, Michael Jackson, Suzanne Somers, Nia Vardalos, Winona Ryder, Russell Crowe.

And those celebrities who plummeted from great heights and were later elevated back to a place of dignity again: Robert Downey Jr., Donald Trump, Tiger Woods, Kirstie Alley.

And then I examined those celebrities who have endured rock-solid with unflappable grace and poise: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Reeve, Julia Roberts, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Bill Cosby, Nicole Kidman, Stephen Spielberg, Michael Jordan, Ron Howard, Tom Hanks, Eddie Murphy, Billy Graham, Jodie Foster, Robin Williams, Meryl Streep, Will Smith.

(On a side note, the jury's still out on Mel Gibson, especially after the success of "Apocalypto." Time will tell where he will eventually "fall" on this list.)

So, how much of this wisdom do we apply to us lowly peons of neither fame nor favor? All of it, I'd say. They all have lessons we can learn from.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007