A long December….

Yes.

I’m sure.

I would think it, too.

But that ain’t what it is.

Here’s the story.

About a week after my last post, my beloved iBook (or, as Robbye dubbed him, "Lappy"), passed away.  In the end, it was a fried video chip on his logic board that got him.

It took awhile to coordinate with Zvie at Mac-in-the-Box to get Lappy in for a check-up (my delay, not his–Zvie rocks!) and see what we could see.  Then, of course, it was a matter of "What the hell?  I’m completely discombobulated suddenly!"

That went on for about a week.  All the time, we’re, you know, getting ready for Christmas, and I’m also trying to cobble together a podcast for the SagePresence biz using rubber bands and paper clips.

A strange week it was.  Most of the time I walked around in a haze.

When I finally came to, my Lappy was gone.  I was no longer "one droll primate with an iBook."

I don’t know if this makes any sense, but out of respect for Lappy, I took something of a hiatus.  I simply couldn’t bring myself to post here without Lappy.  It seemed…I don’t know…disrespectful?  No, that’s not it, I guess.  Not really.  I suppose, more than anything, it felt…pointless.

I guess I was in mourning.

Silly.

Yet, I have written seven screenplays on that little computer.  Countless other scripts and short stories and the like.  My whole professional writing life is tied up in that little white box.

Although RUNAWAY wasn’t begun on Lappy, it was certainly realized on him.  He took me through the whole revision process.  And through my subsequent screenplays, where I really learned and honed the craft.  I learned to be a screenwriter on Lappy.  I became a professional screenwriter on that damned iBook.

And, of course, Lappy was the impetus for a little thing called TRUE LIFE.  That, in terms of this whole "hiatus"..?  It is significant in the highest.

Now, a month on, I know it’s time to move on.  It’s the way of things, isn’t it?

A few days back, I recovered Lappy’s remains.  Being that the hard drive is still quite intact, I was able to plug him into our aged iMac, which I have commandeered from Zach’s room for the time being.  I spent a couple of days transferring important data to my external hard disk.  Everything is safe and sound.  All is well.

But now he sits on my desk.  Lappy.  Silent.  Dark.  Closed.  Not sleeping.  Dead.  Gone.

Zvie tells me that Apple will charge me $350-$400 to fix Lappy.  For that money, I can buy another computer.

Moreover, everyone’s telling me that it’s probably time to invest in a newer computer.  Ol’ Lappy had just celebrated his 4th birthday before he gave up the ghost.  That’s ancient.  Like…15 in dog years.  He was showing his age, creaking and straining under the weight of these newfangled operating systems and increasingly complex media programs.  He was always happy and willing to perform whatever operation you asked him to, but he was tired.  It was plain to see.

As much as I hate to admit it, it’s time for Lappy and me to day good-bye.

For now, I am double-teaming on the old iMac ("Macky") and Robbye’s former Windows machine ("Wanda").  It’s like working with two cantankerous grammas who rarely agree with each other, much less anyone else.  They’re slow and stubborn, and can be utter crab-apples at times.  We are, however, all learning how to work together and to how get the things done that we need to get done every day.  For the moment, we’re keeping the lights burning on the productivity front.

And it’s time to return to this Life.  That, too, is the way of things, isn’t it?

I don’t know if there’s a Heaven for old laptop computers.  But if there is, I know my Lappy is there.  And I know he’s givin’ ’em hell.

Bon voyage, Lappy.  No matter where you are, I will always embody the spirit of "One droll primate with an iBook."

Ibook

Lappy, in New York, working on revisions for RUNAWAY–July/August 2004

"The Best of Times"

Let us pray…

Click here.

DhdBTW–Nikki Finke rocks. I happened upon her site one day when I was Googling for strike-related news. Apparently, she’s become quite the force to be reckoned with. It seems she’s got more than a few Hollywood power brokers quaking in their Armani loafers.

The New York Times just did a piece featuring her blog. Word has it she’s getting upwards of a million hits per day during the strike.

Holy smokes! That’s nearly as many as Ordinary Life Unordinary!

…Just kidding.

It’s nowhere near as many.

…Kidding.

But not really.

…Well, yeah. I am.

But wouldn’t it be cool?

Maybe I should try posting quality writing on relevant topics.

…Nah..!

Read all about it!

With all of last week’s activity–specifically, the speaking gigs, the funeral, that “one thing” I can’t really talk about right now, and that “other thing” I can’t really talk about right now–I missed this utterly.

I’m, like, a published articler. Er…is that article writer..?
Pfimage_2
Our pals at the Great American Pitchfest (which is, I might add, known as the “Rolls Royce of pitch fests”) asked me to write an article for their most recent newsletter, which was way cool. They gave me a choice of what I wanted to write about, so I thought it would be best to, you know, serve the script/story pitching community and talk a little about the things I’ve noticed sitting on the judge’s side of the table at AFF’s pitch competition for the past couple of years.

Anyway, the article came out late last week. I am also very proud that they’ve asked me to be a speaker at their 2008 event this coming June. The prospective title of my talk is Script to Screen–Launching Your Screenwriting Career. I am quite psyched, thankyouverymuch, to be among such distinguished speakers as Viki King, Heather Hale, and none other than Michael Hague, whose book, Writing Screenplays That Sell was the second screenwriting book I read (right behind Syd Field, whose book, Screenplay, should be the first literary stop for anyone interested in such sweet madness) and caused a seismic shift in my understanding of the screenwriting craft.

And get this…it’s a family affair! The Pitchfest folks love Robbye’s work, so I think she’s gonna shoot photos for the event. Yeah…my wife. The photographer accompanies me to the screenwriters’ conference, and she’s the one that walks out of the place with a job in her hip pocket. How’s that work?

So…enjoy the read. You can take a gander at the article by clicking here.

This little light of mine

It’s been a busy and tiring day. Trying to button things up, trying to get things moving, trying to keep calm in the face of the strife on the coasts.

There are things I am supposed to be dong right now, but I am taking a much-needed mental break. And I wanna new post at the top of my blog. So here goes.

Here are my favorite pics from this year’s Austin Film Festival, mostly courtesy of my amazing and talented wife, Robbye, of course. There will be more. Still waiting, however, for the festifolks to let us know when they’re posted on the I’net.

TIll then, enjoy…

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Bill relaxing pre-conference at The Hickory Street Patio Grill & Bar. Hay muchos cervesas consumado.

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The view from the Hickory, proving that even a large time cannot dampen Robbye’s photographic wizardry.

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Cool pic Robbye took of a coffe cup at The Hideout. I used this on my filmcatcher and OLU blogs.

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Me blogging for filmcatcher.com at the Hideout. I look unhappy because I am hungover. Obviously.

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My first panel with screenwriter Karl Williams, and Nicholls Screenwriting Fellowship Exec. Dir. Greg Beal. There were over 100 people in attendance. Cool.

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Great American Pitchfest Exec. Dir. (and Great American guy) Bob Schultz and me judging a round of the AFF pitch competition. Robbye & Bill say: Yay! Bob & Signe rock! Viva la Pitchfest!

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Bob: True, I have no idea what shit is pouring out of your mouth at this moment.

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Bill: Schultz, I have no idea what shit is pouring out of your mouth at this moment.

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Robbye, our new pal, Daryl, and me whooping it up at the Driskill. Courtesy of the great Randy Webb. And, just for the record, we are not stoned. Just drunk. BTW–Robbye sez, Look at my tiny head!

I don’t wanna talk about it

Maybe if I plant my head in the sand. Maybe that will make it go away.

😦

I get it, I get it. But it sucks, nonetheless.

Twenty years ago, I was just a spectator. Today, it’s right in my face.

Here’s to respect and cooperation, evenhandedness and appreciation. Here’s to inspiration and compromise. Let it touch all hearts and bring about swift and mutually beneficial resolution.

David Frost, eat yer heart out!

What a cool day. As part of my new commentator gig for filmcatcher.com, FilmcatcherI was covering the Austin Film Festival. This much we know, right? During that time, I was trying to catch some interviews with some industry folks to post them on the my filmcatcher blog, The Runaway Screenwriter.

Well…let’s just say that I was…er…not exactly prepared. I don’t know where my proverbial shit was, but it sure wasn’t…you know…together. Well, that, and I really had no idea how to make the whole interview thang work.

I thought about buying a recorder, but then I’d have to transcribe each damn conversation. Like I had time. I barely had a minute to take dump, much less sit at a keyboard for, like, six hours a day trying figure out if the guy said “the business is in a period of evolution” or “the bees whiz in a periodontal solution.”

So I made the tough choice: become transcribing bee-otch in Hell or schmooze and drink (for free, I might add) at the AFF’s cornucopia of parties. It was a tough call.

That said, I really like Karl Williams. He was one of my favorite folks. As I mention below, I had the pleasure of sitting on a couple of panels with him. He is one of the most real, lucid, and intelligent cats I have met in the business. And he’s simply good people.

I am really glad I’ve gotten to know him. Next time we’re in L.A., Robbye and I already have dinner plans with the Williams clan. Sweet!

That said, I wanted to find a way to make good on my promise to interview Karl for filmcatcher. Turns out, where there’s an Internet connection, there’s a way. Here’s an excerpt from the interview. I hope you enjoy it. We had a blast doing it.

– – – –

A Conversation with Karl Williams: Screenwriting Superhero

Hey, all. I finally made it happen! Karl Williams, AFF screenwriting hat tricker and about-to-be-produced writer, and I sat down for a little Google Chat action earlier today. We couldn’t make it happen in Austin, but thanks to the power of technology…

As you may have read, I had the honor of serving on two panels with Karl at this year’s Austin Film Festival Screenwriters’ Conference. He’s got such a great perspective on writing and on the undustry, I thought my fellow filmcatcherians should have the opportunity to benefit from his insight and wisdom beyond the walls of the Driskill Hotel.

That said, without further adieu, may I present a conversation with Karl Williams.

(note: about the photo–Karl and I on the “How to Get the Most Out of [Screenwriting] Competitions” panel at the 2007 Austin Film Festival Screenwriters’ Conference)
– – – – – – – – – –

Bill: Hi, Karl.

Karl: Hi Bill

Bill: Let’s begin our conversation with a little
background on Karl Williams. You’re a couple months away from
production on your first sold screenplay, PUNCTURED, right?

KwbtoluKarl: Allegedly! You’re never quite sure until someone
says “Action.” But we are tentatively scheduled for January 2008.
We will need to make that date or close to it, at least with
the cast we have currently signed…they won’t be available to do the
film much past that point. So that makes it a bit more “real” that it
will really film in Jan.

Bill: Can you tell us who your cast is?

Karl: Well, I can confirm Jonathan Silverman for the
lead and Eugene Levy for the “mentor” role – I think it’s okay to
reveal their involvement because they ended up on IMDB somehow.

Bill: Hah! I know how that goes. Was Jan. ’08 always the start
date? If not, can you talk a little bit about the proverbial journey
from script to set? How did you sell this script and what happened
after you sold it?

Karl: It’s been the sterotypical odyssey – I was
working with a producer on something else that almost got made (a TV
show) but it fell apart; he asked what else I had and liked this
script. He found a director with money, or at least a director who
knew people with money, and we were off and running. That was a year
ago, and January ’08 is our third start date. Although it’s more real
now since we have cast attached.
Although, as you know, cast changes can happen right up until about
the last possible minute…

Bill: Was the cast attachment the clincher to greenlight? In my
movie, RUNAWAY, the financier was always in place. But signing Aaron
Stanford, hot off TADPOLE & X-MEN, was the checkmark he required to
let loose the funds.

Karl: I think Eugene’s interest in the project helped us (he
is very well known and liked, obviously). My impression is that it helped
get Jonathan involved. Having an actor people have heard of is a
definite plus – your project just gets taken a bit more seriously by
anyone who considers it.

Bill: Absolutely.

Click here to read the rest of the interview at filmcatcher.com

No. Freaking. Way.

Holy Crap! Robbye, Zach and I just pulled in from Rob’s mom & extra-dad’s a few minutes ago. I am in desperate need to get some SagePRESENCE work done in preparation for the debut of our new event this coming Thursday. It’s gonna be a late night, and I was kinda tired sitting down in front of the old iBook at around 10:15 in the PM.

BoxofficeAnd then I looked at email. Second from the top was one from Randy Webb, a gent Robbye and I met at the Austin Film Festival & Conference. He had been asking if he could connect with me for 15 or 20 minutes while we were in Austin to do a little interview for a blog he was doing for boxoffice.com on his AFF experience. I said, heck yeah! But I kept zigging when he was zagging, and except for connecting for a beer at the Driskill, like, Friday or Saturday, we never did get that sit down.

I emailed him the day Robbye and I were heading home and told him that if he was still game, I would be happy to conduct the interview via email. He said, great, and we did that. Well, turns out the folks at Boxoffice really liked the interview…but it was too long for their blog thing, I guess. So…they decided to publish it as a stand-alone piece.
Billinterview
Way. Cool!

I don’t know what to say. I’ve never been interviewed before. So I guess all I will say is, Thanks, Randy Webb. You rock the Universe! And you are a gentleman and a scholar.

Click here to read the interview at boxoffice.com.

All’s Quiet on the Midwestern Front

I posted this over at filmcatcher.com, but realized that it as (if not more) appropriately belongs here. So…here you go–

– – – – – – – – – –

It’s Saturday morning. Robbye and I just got done with morning coffee. She’s in the shower now, getting ready to go to a friend’s jewelry party.

And I am getting ready to write.

Cuppajoe1But as we were talking over coffee, a realization hit both of us. That the AFF this year has proven to be a turning point for me–for us. I don’t know what the difference is exactly. It seems to have something to do with a feeling of viability. Me feeling like I am viable and finally claiming my spot somewhere in the part of movies they call “the industry”.

So when I sit down and write today, “professional screenwriter” doesn’t feel like a suit that I put on over the “real” me. It feels like the real me. And when I talk about myself to other people, I have that same experience.

The other day, I was at a surprise b-day party for a friend of mine. Everyone who interacted with me that day said that something was different. Something intangible…an air about me. In fact, another friend made a point of emailing me later, saying, “The other day I just really noticed a sense of you having arrived.”

Turning a corner. And for the first time in over a year, more excited than afraid to see what lies around it.

Take a breath. Take a step.

The Runaway Screenwriter

Bzzzt..! Kshhhhh… Bzzzt!!!

We interrupt our irregularly scheduled programming for this important announcement.

FilmcatcherI have been asked by the new (and up-and-coming) indie film site, filmcatcher.com, to be a contributor and commentator. Cool! In particular, they’ve asked if I will chronicle my adventures as a panelist at this year’s Austin Film Festival and Screenwriters’ Conference. Way cool!

2007_logoEach day over the next seven days, I will be checking in via a blog set up on the filmcatcher.com website to talk about the experience and to post interviews with other panelists/participants on the craft, the events, and the hijinks.

Click here to read the The Runaway Screenwriter at filmcatcher.com!

See ya…

Poetry Slam

The past several days have been a whirlwind–and I ain’t even talkin’ about the whole driving to Fargo, getting ready for Robbye’s big debut (which went swimmingly, thank you very much), the friends’ wedding on Saturday, the visiting Grampa Lee on Sunday, and whatnot thang.

No…I am talking about my journey back to STAGGERFORD. For the purposes of fulfilling a lit. agency request to read the script, I revisited my old friends for the first time in about two years.

It’s been insane. In the past 3-4 days, I have completely deconstructed and reconstructed the thing, cut scenes, added scenes, rejiggered scenes, and hacked nearly 17 pages off the script. Yes…it was quite bloated. The result, however, is a working script that finally feels like a movie. Finally feels like I cracked the nut. At least, that’s the feedback I’m getting.

So…off it goes. Happy, happy.

But about the poetry. One of the additions to the script is V.O. poetry, ostensibly authored by the main character (who is probably a pretty good poet), really authored by me (who is probably a pretty lousy poet). It was the most fun part of the rewrite, though…taking some poetry I’d already written–for Robbye, for Pastor Herb Brokering, for a musical about the apostle Paul I will likely never write, for the hell of it–some things from this blog, and some crap right out of the air and crafting it into verse I thought might come out of this character’s head. It gave me a new understanding of Mr. Miles Pruitt.

All that said, here’s a sample. Thought you might enjoy it.

ODE TO THANATOPSIS
Once upon gazing
At the too glorious sky
Blinked I
A flash
An instant
Thence upon,
Left alone to gawk
Am I
At the sky too late
What has happened?
Why is there a hole
Where the sun used to be?

PARALLEL
If we could live in parallel
We might share a separate life together
Fabricate a home complete
A good roof, from the elements to protect
Accomodating walls, for our history to keep
Each room, by our mutual existence to adorn
Building to blessed increase
Toward faces beaming
Our finest yet to mingle
Preserving, rejoicing in
A life well-made
If we could live in parallel

AGING CASE
I ache to draw you close
Yet I know that’s not the man
You need me to be
As you, thus, step beyond my reach
I stand in my place
I give you room to spread your wings
Words I yearn to say
I stuff inside this aging case
It’s best this way
You probably know them all by now
By heart, anyway

THE MILKY COMING OF THE DAY
Last night
Sheets wet
With delirious stirring
A fever broke
And cast me into
A bottomless pool
Sinking
Look up
I heard
An Heavenly urging
First to stir
Again to labor
Finally to rise
My face
Broke the surface
Gulping open air
First to live
Again to breath
Finally to witness
The milky coming of the day

Okay…

Now, I need to head off for a run and take a shower. …And put on clean clothes–apparently, for the first time in three days (though I changed shirts yesterday…I think). I have been existing on another plane almost entirely and forgetting the basics of living on this plane…like eating and sleeping and hygiene. Robbye’s gentle nudging (not to mention my mounting B.O.) woke me up to this fact over coffee this morning.

Ikes.