Hooray for Hollywood

Great news, friends!

My short film Leave will premiere at the LA FEMME FILM FESTIVAL in October!

The entire cast and crew, which includes yours truly, is very proud and honored to be able to show our film for the first time to the world at such a prestigious event.

We are also proud and honored to finally be able to share with you a short teaser of the film right now.

This teaser is shared from the Vimeo account of Leave’s talented producer Jeff Hammer; so, after you finish viewing and sharing it with all your friends and family, please make sure you check out the rest of Jeff’s amazing work.
 


 
BTW, if you’d like to read the short story from which I adapted the screenplay, you can receive a free copy of it and other stories when signing up for my newsletter.

Hope to see you all at the festival!

Cheers!
 

#californiadreaming

 

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Yes, that #shortfilm of mine is still a thing…

LEAVE, A Short FilmIt’s hard to believe it’s been over a year since we wrapped up production out in West Hollywood on my short film LEAVE, which was adapted from my short story of the same name.

That, my friends, was a good time, indeed.

Time sure does go fast…

And, frustratingly enough, it, concurrently, goes so frakkin’ (any BSG/Caprica fans out there?) slow when one’s breath is bated in anticipation, such as mine is for the film’s completion.

Movie making is not as easy as it looks from the theater seats, that’s for sure.

Continue reading “Yes, that #shortfilm of mine is still a thing…”

The Alt-Oscars*

Kanye West** as Crucified Oscar image is courtesy of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

Let’s do this.

ALT BEST PICTURE: I’ve only seen one “Best Picture” nomination — “Arrival” and I thought it was mostly Zzz… — so out of all the 2016 movies I have seen, not just those nominated, which still are only a handful… or, would it be an “eyeful?”…my Alt-Oscar for Best Picture of 2016 — and which is one of the best flicks I’ve seen in a loooong time — goes to:

Continue reading “The Alt-Oscars*”

The Long Road to Cali


 

#believeinleave >> PLEASE DONATE

 
 

#OscarsSoWha??

What a night at the Oscars, eh?

Big night for diversity and sexual assault awareness.

While it’s no longer cool for us to say “boys will be boys”… I believe it’s still within the legal PC bounds of good taste to say “Chris will be Chris.”

He did a pretty good job of calling out all the major inequality themes re: Hollywood that’s been on everyone’s minds and tongues for the past few months. Though he did go a little easier on the Establishment and a lot harder on Jada than I expected.

I thought his most pointed call-out wasn’t a race issue but a gender equality issue when discussing the absurdity of having both a Best Actor and a Best Actress category. “It’s not as if they are running a track and field event and Robert De Niro has to say, ‘Whoa, I better slow down my acting so Meryl Streep can catch up…” It’s worth your time to search for and watch Rock’s opening monologue. It should be easy enough to find.

I was pretty bummed when Lady Gaga didn’t win the award for Best Song (or whatever the official nomenclature is) after her highly emotional and powerful performance of “Till It Happens To You.” But when Sam Smith gave his amazing acceptance speech calling on for equality and encouragement for the LGBT community I was like, okay… he’s cool.

But to me, Lady Gaga’s performance was definitely the highlight of the night and one of the most moving performances I’ve seen in a while. At least since her performance of the US National Anthem at the Super Bowl… which was also quite impressive. She’s quite the talent, that’s for sure.

As far as the movie stuff goes, I can’t really comment much because until I see the Oscars I never realize how many movies I haven’t seen throughout the year.

I’m happy and unsurprised that Leo won for Best Actor. Pretty impressive speech he gave re: The Environment. Of course it was a given he would speak about environmental issues knowing how passionate he is about the subject. And it also makes sense to discuss it seeing how critical Nature was to the success of his film. [See: The Revenent: It’s Really Good (for a laugh)]

I’m less happy that Tom Hardy did not win Best Supporting Actor and very surprised that, if Tom didn’t win it, they didn’t just give it to Sly Stallone for sentimental reasons (it certainly wouldn’t be for any acting reasons). As a former Intelligence Community (oxymoron, I know…) guy, I have been meaning to see The Bridge of Spies so I cannot judge the dude who did win. I cannot even judge him based on his past performances because I don’t even have clue who he is (although there is a tinge of familiarity so I’m sure I’ve seen him in this or that).

As for Best Actress… didn’t see “The Room” or is it just “Room,” but just based on the clips shown Brie Larson looks like a worthy winner. As for Best Supporting Actress… didn’t see “The Danish Girl” but Alicia Vikander is definitely the “It Gal” of the moment so I assumed she would win.

While Mad Max swept all the technical and nitnoid whatnot awards, I thought for sure The Revenent would sweep the Big Three. It got two with Alejandro González Iñárritu winning Best Director (two years running now), and Leo’s win, but missed on the biggest of all.

Haven’t seen Spotlight, the winner, yet. I’m still waiting on it to hit Redbox and then I’ll have to wait until Redbox texts me a free movie night before I do. Yeah, I’m cheap like that.

As far as the presenters go… it seems that there is a budding bromance between Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling. They were quite funny together and could make a pretty good living as a comedic duo.

And did anyone else get confused between Kate Winslet and Patricia Arquette? Did they look like copies of each other because they were sharing the same pair of glasses? Or are they secretly Pond Crossing Twins?

Speaking of Patty Arquette, you should check her out on twitter and see the work she’s doing with the #EqualMeansEqual documentary that is in the works. As you probably know she’s a major, outspoken proponent for Women’s and Gender Equality Issues. She believes because she called out Hollywood last year in its poor record of equality in pay between men and women that she has lost several potential acting gigs from it. Check out the good stuff she has going on at @PattyArquette at the tweet machine.

As typical, Sasha Baron Cohen provided the most cringe-worthy moment. His “Ali G” skit is no longer fun(ny), as it now comes off to me only as being stale and rather desperate.

Still, all in all I thought The Oscars overall was a great show. One of the most entertaining in a long while.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what impact all the awareness to diversity this year will have on next year’s nominees.

Aaand… that’s a wrap.

 
 

THE REVENANT: It’s Really Good (for a laugh)

THE REVENANT
FILM | MOVIE | STUDIO | DRAMA
RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★

Since I didn’t know off the top of my head what the word “revenant” meant, I had thought, in the spirit of Shakespeare, it was a word created specifically for Art’s sake by combining the words revenge and covenant. Seeing the movie (and the squiggly red idiot line under the word when I type it) only reinforced this belief, because “The Revenant” is a grand, intense, soul-searching, cinematographic dream-scape of movie “inspired” by a book of the same name that was “inspired” by a legend which was more than likely “inspired” by a kernel of truth of the life of a mountain man named Hugh Glass, a contemporary of Grizzly Adams, may he rest in peace (both the real one who died long ago and, more importantly to those of my generation, to Dan Haggerty, the actor who portrayed him and who died recently) and Jedediah Smith (no, Robert Redford played Jeremiah Johnson, not Smith), which is about a father committed to his last breath regardless the odds or obstacles to exact revenge for the murder of his son.
 


 

In simplistic terms, it’s really, really good. It deserves all the Oscars nominations it has received, especially for Best Picture, Best Director (Iñárritu), Best Supporting Actor (Hardy), and Best Actor (DiCaprio).

As is typical with any film he is in, Tom Hardy stole the show. In my view, he just may be the best working actor there is right now. He out-acted DiCaprio, who is a pretty good actor in his own right – not great, but pretty good. But it doesn’t really matter as far as awards go seeing that they are up for different ones. But even if they were up for Best Actor, DiCaprio should still win it over Hardy, and all the others I’ve seen, for the overwhelming effort he invested and physical hardship and pain he endured for this role. His performance and commitment to his trade are remarkable.

As far as the logistics and filming of the movie, I do not know how Iñárritu did it. The movie is so big and so remote with so many moving parts – Mother Nature notwithstanding – I simply don’t know how they put it all together so seamlessly and beautifully, and breathtakingly so. I’m sure it will win for Best Cinematography.

I already said the movie is about a father’s commitment to exacting revenge for his son’s murder. And it is. But, unfortunately for Glass, the father, he has to fulfill this sad covenant that he makes with himself, his dead son, and his impartial god, after having just about the worst day, week, and however long his revenge exacting takes that one man can ever have.

I mean, this dude just gets keep getting creamed.

I mean, there are bears and “savages” and broken bones and infection and starvation and the frigid, merciless elements…

It’s like… Dude!

I mean, Death just keeps so relentlessly and rabidly on his ass that it finally became comical to me… and the guy sitting next to me.

Remember the movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail?” Each time another near-death tragedy happened to Glass and his near-death tragic soul, I couldn’t help repeating in my mind that famous and funny line from the movie:

It’s just a flesh wound.

I whispered this to the guy next to me and we ended up giggling like two kids each successive time Death pick Glass up and pile-drived his head back into the mat.

Which brings me back to the word “revenant” and its meaning. Come to find out it isn’t a made-up word after all. It means, “a person who has returned, especially from the dead.”

There couldn’t be a more fitting word for this movie. In fact, it could be called The Revenant To The Nth Power, Glass returns from the dead so many times.

There are more things about the movie I could make fun with… like pointing out a cliché or two – yes, of course Glass gets all Luke Skywalker on us when he guts his horse (that had recently just fallen over a cliff with him – he survives; the horse doesn’t) and crawls inside it to stay warm during the night – but I’ll stop with the merrymaking.

But it doesn’t matter, the movie is good enough, and grand enough, that it can handle a bit of criticism from yours truly.

Out of all the movies nominated for Best Picture, I’ve only seen this, “Mad Max,” and “The Martian.” Out of those three, all of which I like very much, “The Revenant” is my pick to win.

If you haven’t seen it, you should.
 


Based upon the novel by Michael Punke

 
~~~~

Rating System:
★ = Unwatchable
★ ★ = Poor Movie
★ ★ ★ = Average Movie
★ ★ ★ ★ = Outstanding Movie
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ = Exceptional Movie

 
 

My Uncolorful* Character(s)

I don’t know about you, but as for me – unless it is absolutely critical to the movement of a story – I don’t need to always know every item in each room, or the style and brand of every shoe in the protagonist’s closet… and I especially do not need to know about the mole on the back of the least minor character’s left ear.

pexels-photo-316681.jpeg

Now, the genius of authors such as Balzac, Dickens, and Twain cannot be denied by me; however, I often find their attention to detail excessive and rather tedious for my overly sensitive reading sensibilities.

Especially Balzac.

I know, I know… It’s me not them.

But I’m the kind of reader dude** who enjoys employing as much as possible of my own personal image making machine, aka, my imagination, along with my thought processing gyrator, against a story’s plot, or lack thereof; and when it comes to a character and his or her physical appearance and personality traits, I prefer for them, through the details found in the story’s showing, to slowly emerge within that enveloping zen-like midst of verisimilitude (that I hopefully find myself in) until he or she can be seen standing clearly before my mind’s unblinking eye, fully developed and fleshed out.

So it should come as no surprise then when I tell all you other reader dudes*** that I try to write my stories in the way that I prefer to read them: with limited and only absolutely necessary descriptive telling.

The Sea Trials of an Unfortunate Sailore

For example, you will find that the book description for The Sea Trials of an Unfortunate Sailor reads in part:

Written with a narrative starkness, it leaves us with only our own prejudices and stereotypes to draw from and forces us to make assumptions about character and identity, and, in the end, determine not just who did it but if it was even done at all.

Admittedly, this book was written intentionally with a “narrative starkness,” not so much because starkly written books are the kind I like to read most, but because its starkness is used as a device to make a sad but painful point about the military’s failed and former Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.

I was navy Equal Opportunity Advisor during DADT’s salad days and the crux of my job at the time was to travel around the Western Pacific to facilitate training seminars and focus groups in an effort to educate sailors on how to legally administer and execute the confusing and harmful policy.

As you probably already know, prior to the implementation of DADT, homosexuals were prohibited from serving in the military. With DADT – which was a compromise between Bill Clinton, who wanted to allow homosexuals to serve with no restrictions, and the military’s top brass, who wanted to continue barring homosexuals from service – homosexuals were allowed to serve in the military… provided they did not discuss their sexual orientation with anyone nor have any homosexual relations whatsoever. Additionally, no service member was allowed to ask any other service member what his or her sexual orientation was… hence the infamous moniker don’t ask, don’t tell.

A pretty cruel policy, to say the least. However, it was rather cut and dry. Not so much confusion with it on the surface.

The problems that came about with the policy was a result of when service members started taking action based on their homophobic perceptions and stereotypes.

For instance, some sailors were harassed, abused, and, sadly, even killed because they were perceived to be a homosexual based on the way he or she talked, or walked, or, while in civilian attire, dressed.

And while that’s tragic in and of itself, additional problems were often caused when these illegally and harmfully harassed sailors attempted to tell their chains-of-command about the harassment and the COC, instead of seeing these attempts as pleas for help, saw them instead as admissions of homosexuality. As a result, many sailors were wrongfully kicked out of the navy because of the ignorance and bigotry of those who were supposed to protect them.

It was very distressing to me whenever I heard of any instance of it happening. However, it was highly rewarding for me whenever I had the opportunity to get in front of a group of senior leaders and help/make them see the light as to how to effectively execute and administer DADT and to warn them about the problems they could get into for wrongly processing a sailor out of the service.

While I am very happy that DADT was finally axed and homosexuals are now allowed serve without any restrictions to their being, it was all of that nasty DADT stuff that became the impetus for me writing my novel.

And my goal in writing it was to force the reader to have to apply his or her own values, via perceptions and stereotypes, upon the characters in and events of the story. Consequently, it was important for me as a writer to not tell the reader what I wanted them to think by way of character description, but to allow them to draw their own conclusions.

I hope the story does this effectively. I guess the results can be found in the book’s reviews.

Anyway…

I was reminded about all this the other day when I read an article by The Atlantic entitled “The Case Against Colorblind Casting.” It is a very well-written and informative piece about the challenges Hollywood has casting non-white actors and how “colorblind casting,” while admirable in its goals, is not a sustainable means to diversify the films we watch. The article highlights as an example, the recent success of Oscar Isaac, Hollywood’s current It and Everywhere Man, who, just so he would have a better chance at not being type-cast and at being able to land “ethnically flexible” roles, chose to drop his last name of Hernández.

Sure, performers have and probably always will “alter” their names to one that they feel is best received by their fans; however, having to do it just to appear “less ethnic,” reminds me of the movie “La Bamba,” where it shows how the singer Richard Valenzuela was compelled to assume the less ethnic-sounding stage name of Ritchie Valens so that he could better appeal to his white audience.

That was sixty years ago and I’m sad to report, as is evidenced by our latest Hollywood star Oscar Isaac, that it’s still happening.

Man, oh man***…

This equality stuff sure is a difficult nut to crack – witness the all-white Oscar nominees for this year’s Best and Supporting Actors/Actresses – and I’m not about to attempt to try and crack it here.

Except to say that screenwriters can certainly have a hand in keeping an open playing field for actors of all races and ethnicity by – you guessed it – laying off the descriptive details in their screenplays and leaving it up to the director to cast the best actor for the role based on the story’s content and need and not on the screenwriter’s biases.

Of course, a more diverse field of screenwriters would be most beneficial to making a crack in that nut…

You may not have noticed, but I am a very white dude**… pasty even. Even still, for what it’s worth, when I adapted my short story “Leave” into a screenplay, I wrote it so the only true limitations in casting should be because of gender – and there’s just no getting around it – there are distinct male and female roles that are critical to the story’s telling, as it is a story about the bigotry faced by the first women allowed to serve on navy combatant ships.

But as far as casting for the roles for the screenplay’s mostly bigoted and sexist male characters and a few exemplary female characters… race nor any other physical trait, apart from one that would prevent someone from being accepted into the military, should not matter to the director who will be doing the casting.

Now, I doubt my starkly written, diminutive screenplay will go far in the effort to crack Hollywood’s White Nut problem… but that’s all I got for now.

Still, I’m really looking forward to beginning the process of creating this film. And, while things are a long way from definite right now, you may just be surprised by the talented actors who already have expressed an interest in being part of the production.

I can’t wait until we reach the point where I can share it all with you.

Until then, as we say in the business…

Stay tuned!


*Yeah, I know “uncolorful” is not a real word, whatever a real word may be, but I it sounds less negative to me than “colorless” so, for what it’s worth, I’m going with it.

**gender specific

***non-gender specific

So, I’m Going To Make A Movie…

One of my resolution solutions at the beginning of last year was to become involved in the art of script writing.

Of course, if you are a Newsletter Love subscriber – and why wouldn’t you be – you already know this.

But anyway…

I figured, heck, I love watching movies and I kind of love to write, and since I’ve already conquered the art of novel and poetry writing and have become wildly successful in these endeavors*, why not try something new.

So, I did.

But before I tried the writing, I did much, much reading about the “how tos” and “whatnots” of how one should go about writing a movie script.

Man**, little did I realize that Hollywood was so anal retentive when it comes to formatting.

Anyway, after surfing the web for some time, I found what has since become my go to resource:
 

 

There are many reference books out there for screenwriting but this one, I’ve found, is very easy to read and navigate through and David Trottier seems to have the Hollywood street cred so it satisfies my present incipient needs.

However, before I committed to his book, I spent a significant chunk of time at his awesome information-and-resource-filled website – you’ll find it easily enough by searching his name.

But more important to the establishment of my script writing foundation than Trottier’s bible has been – what you’ll find most successful writers recommending any newbie writer do, which is reading a ton of what it is you wish to write – reading and reading and reading Hollywood movie scripts.

They’re easy enough to find on the web. I even found a clunky but useful app for Windows. Just think of a movie you love and do a search. Chances are pretty high you’ll find an online copy of its script somewhere.

Hands down and without any doubt in my military mind the best script I read is Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction.” Pure genius and light. (Can’t wait to see “The Hateful Eight.”)

Second would probably be Zach Helm’s “Stranger Than Fiction.” Wonderful writing.

Hmm… I just realized that my two favorite scripts both have the word “fiction” in their titles.

Coincidence?

Or prophetic?

Anyway…

I enjoy playing the movies in my mind as I read through the script.

It really is magic how dreams can transform into words and how words can create reality… everything.

Typing that just gave me chills.

Here’s my first formatting tip for you: Notice the space after the ellipse in the sentence that just gave me chills? Yes, that is how Hollywood requires them to be written… one space will follow all ellipses.

You’re welcome…

So I began writing scripts of my own. Short scripts.

It wasn’t easy for me, especially at first. Like I said, the formatting requirements are ridiculous – and I don’t mean that in a good way like the kids are using the word these days.

Apart from the formatting requirements, the toughest adjustment for me was having to write everything – and here comes my second formatting tip – in the present tense.

And then, of course, when, after several months of writing in the present tense, I went back to working on my present novel WIP, I had a helluva time adjusting back to the past tense.

It was almost painful, actually.

Typing that just gave me chills…

But not the good kind like the last kind.

—-

Here’s an oldie but goodie:

The Past, the Present, and the Future all walk into a bar…

It was tense.

—-

Anyway, after a while, I then decided to adapt my short story “Leave” into a short film script.

Long story short (you can bet I’ll be drawing all this script writing stuff out for a long, long period of time here), I have an actor friend who has a director friend out in Hollywood who read the script and has agreed to film it (Name dropping to follow in subsequent posts).

How about that?

Sometimes New Year’s Resolutions do come true…

Well, we hope. We’re right at the beginning of the process so keep your fingers and toes and eyes and nose (nose crossing can be done if you commit yourself to it) crossed for me and the production. We’ll need all the support and hope and prayers we can muster.

We’re planning for a film shoot in March of this year out in Los Angeles; however, there is much that has to be aligned and completed before that can happen.

It mostly has to do with raising money, of course.

But more on all that later.

Much more…

In the interim, I invite you to check out “Leave” the short story that the script is based upon. You can get an e-edition at Amazon and elsewhere. But if you really can’t afford that 99 cents asking price (Amazon won’t allow me to give it away since it’s not enrolled in KDP), email me through my contact page and request a copy and I’ll send you one.

Cool?

Write on…
 

 

*at least I have in my own delusional/narcissistic mind…
**non-gender specific

 
 

Like we Americans do, I tend to assume everyone the world over understands my cultural references…

Yeah, I know, I know…

It drives some of you bonkers when we Americans do that…

Just as I know that, thanks to the long-established American cultural propaganda machines of Hollywood, McDonalds, Levis, and Coca Cola, as well as the newcomers Apple, Facebook, Twitter, and Starbucks, it drives some of you just as bonkers, if not more, that you do understand so many American cultural references.

(Not to mention the madness it causes Canada and Mexico and all the thirty some odd other American countries North and South to know that “America” has come to mean only one country out of all of them.)

Ergo, it is with humility that, in an effort to make amends for my all-too-often ignorant assumptions, I attempt to explain for those of you who aren’t an American “of a certain age” who just don’t get my cultural reference point for these “Ain’t That America…” posts that I’ve been posting lately…

So, it is for all of you who aren’t hip for whatever reason to American culture that I am pleased and proud present John [Cougar] Mellencamp’s wonderful song “Pink Houses”…


 

Obviously – #freddygray #ferguson #gunviolence #etcetera – there is a lot more to America than just apple pie Americana, all of which, I spend a great deal of time criticizing and complaining about – out of a deep true love, of course – some here but mostly on my @KurtBrindley twitter account.

But a lot of (United States of) America is apple pie Americana and when I find myself out and about and I come across something that makes me shake my head, smile, and say to myself, “Shucks, ain’t that America…,” I am happy to be able to take out my phone, take a photo of it, and share some of that down home American “Pink House” propaganda that I love so much with you all…

The world over…

Peace.