Sunday, September 25, 2005

Directing a Channel 101 pilot

Genius is the ability to gain free psychic access to past experience.

               ~ Thomas Mann

Is not memory the artist's most precious possession?

               ~ Erich Segal, Doctors

                        *     *     *

Took Tickle's online Classic IQ Test on Friday. 

Don't worry, at 129, I'm safely below the range of genius.

                        *     *     *

A busy week.

Little time alone.  Not much work completed on the novel.  Other than thinking about it.  And that doesn't count.

                        *     *     *

My co-writer, on the other hand, has been making progress on The French Inquisitor.  

That self-imposed house arrest?  Apparently, it's working.

                        *     *     *

My life has turned a corner, financially.  My personal reaction surprised me. 

Suddenly, I'm making concrete plans to direct again.  And produce. 

This time on screen.

                        *     *     *

I've watched three films since I arrived home on Friday at 3 PM.

~ The new Tim Burton film Corpse Bride in Westwood's Mann Theatre.  Maybe it's just me, but once you get past the wonder of stop-action beauty, the story is pretty lame.  During the fourth act, I fell asleep.  Woke up just in time to see the story end happily with the bad guy dead., the right lovers united, the restless spirit at peace.  Oh, did I give away the ending?  Oh.  You're welcome. 

~ Alfred Hitchcock's I Confess on DVD.  Loved it.  God, that man was obsessed with the idea of being accused falsely.  I'm in the process ofworking through 25 other Hitchcock titles that Netflix carries, which I haven't seen.  I love his cinematic style.

Just for the record, the director whose management style I admire most is Clint Eastwood.  He schedules 40 days for a shoot and completes it in 32.  I like that kind of efficiency, the well-oiled machinery made possible by loyal collaborators.  My aim is to attract that kind of a film production team by the time I'm ready to shoot my first feature film.

~ In Cold Blood this afternoon.  Good film.  Black and white used effectively.  The minimalism of the early part of the film.  That moment when it looks like tears are running down the killer's face, but in reality, it's the reflection of the rain.  Brilliant.

                        *     *     *

Decided to submit a five-minute television pilot for Channel 101.

Not sure what the story's going to be -- something comical, that goes without saying.

Tentative interest from a writer, an editor, a producer, and several actors.

                        *     *     *

My instincts were confirmed when I picked up a digital video camera this week.

I ended up spending several hours with it. 

Four things occurred.

First, I discovered that I love working with a digital video camera.  Addictive stuff.

Rapid improvement -- I can see it in the first four clips -- thanks to the guidance of a friend/film editor who was with me.  One day.

Next, that experience (about three actual hours of filming) has already changed the way that I'm viewing the world around me.  I'm starting to see the world as if through the lens of a camera.

Finally, I'm noticing the shots used by the cinematographer to tell the story -- in the movies I've watched since yesterday afternoon.

                        *     *     *

I spoke of my weekend love affair with the video camera to my co-writer.

"What's this?"  He became facetious.  "You're taking on the low production values of an independent filmmaker?"

"If I have to, yes.  What can I say?  I fell in love with shooting."

Now he was amused.

"So now you plan to be your own DP?"* Steven asked.

"No, of course not.  My hands aren't steady enough."


"Besides, when have you ever seen me do things myself?  I always recruit people more talented than I to do the actual work."


I was speaking the truth.  In theatre, the first thing I always do when I decide to direct a show is to find a very patient stage manager.  Someone logical and calm who can keep me grounded when I shift into total right brain.

So I need to find a good producer.

Ted Isue, a principal I once worked for in North Canton, Ohio, put it best.  "I hire the best teachers I can, and then I get out of the way and let them do their job."

He was speaking of himself, of course: 

My friend John made this observation about me:  "You recruit the best talent you know, and you push them to do more than they ever thought they could."

                        *     *     *

But other than watch movies, I really didn't do a lot this past weekend.

Finally, Saturday night, I decided it was time to get out of the apartment.  So I went to the 50's Cafe in Santa Monica.  Took Erich Segal's novel Doctors with me.  I've read the book before, but I love it, and it called for another read.

Grabbed a place at the counter.  Ordered a hamburger and fries.  Ran into a good friend of mine, a woman who acts and hosts a Spanish talk show.

When I told her about Channel 101 -- and the fact that they're looking for women to get involved in directing and producing submissions -- she was interested enough to attend tomorrow night's screening.

Who knows?  Perhaps we'll work together.  She describes herself as "a control freak."

I prefer to call her detail-conscious. 


paulajlambert said...

Whew! Been waiting for a new entry!
So glad to hear how busy and productive you've been--interesting stuff. Good luck with all and enjoy your journey (sounds like you are!).

stevendenlinger said...

Thank you, Paula.  I think I needed that time by myself.  When I'm overwhelmed by people, I find it impossible to write.  Your ability to produce, by the way, is amazing.  


bethsfrontporch said...

Steven, sounds like a fabulous and productive weekend.  I was glad to read what you said about being overwhelmed by people.  I have a very sensitive sociability meter, myself.   How do you get all those things done... --Beth

stevendenlinger said...

I don't know, Beth, where the energy comes from.  Perhaps from the amount of coffee I drink each day.  People tell me I shouldn't drink so much, but hey, now they're saying that coffee has antioxidants in it that help you avoid cancer, so it's hard to argue that I shouldn't.

I know that I need a certain amount of solitude in order to recharge my energy.  In that sense, I definitely have introverted strands to my personality.  On the other hand, like last night, I HAD to get out and see people:  I literally had a headache that didn't go away until I had spent some time talking to friends.  Go figure.

This resonate with anyone else?


vxv123 said...

I think that some magic was in the air this weekend...

Very happy for you, Steven, that you are finding your way with such joy.  


paulajlambert said...

Re your last question in your last comment, to Beth: YES!
Since I've been writing full-time, I've been leading (and loving!) a pretty solitary existence. And starting the blog has been SO inspiring and such a help in keeping me productive--not just in my writing practice, but in my thinking. I've had time to think things all the way through to the end (and the end is never what I expected it might be in the beginning--I love that about writing). But when that cabin fever sets in, holy cow! I almost have to run out of the house and be somewhere, almost anywhere, where there are people about. Even just a trip to Kroger (supermarket) is a nice reprieve. But it's most wonderful to go off to D's for a day or two. He is an hour away and it's a lovely drive. Yesterday I helped him lay a gorgeous maple hardwood floor in the livingroom. He'd kiln-dried, cut, planed, tongue-and-grooved and is now laying the whole floor himself. I respect this man no end, and being with him is such fun and such a re-invigorating way out of myself. His creativity sparks mine, and helps me prepare for another voyage inward.  

Whoops. Went on too long. Almost writing my own new entry...which I hope to do later tonight, when I get home. New dream....

I enjoy the way you chat with friends in the entry, Steve...

P.S. Am expecting a Halloween visit from Theresa and Beth soon--we plan a pajama party...I'm hoping Beth will wear a "Skin Tights" costume. Can't imagine what Theresa will come up with. My usual costume is Frida Kahlo: mustache, unibrow and all....

theresarrt7 said...

Your kitty is rapt with attention, isn't he?  Sorry I've been awol from things lately.  I've been busy with school, Esalen, and my own writing.  I hope to get caught up in the next couple of weeks, though.  I did read your fairytale treatments--very nice.  I would be interested to know what you learned as a result of doing them.  What are your thoughts on doing a YA novel now?  Will you do a novel with adult themes?  Will you work on the project as a trilogy?