The script, my friends, is done.

It’s a day late (or several days late, depending on how you look at it).

Hopefully, it’s not a dollar short.

At 5:19 this morning I made my last edit.  I hit save, converted to .pdf, and sent off to Dean for his take.

I will have one more quick pass this afternoon sometime to integrate Dean’s notes (which seem, so far, to be minimal).  From there, it’s off to the producer of the ScriptNight reading, so he can get the script to the casting director.

I will, of course, want to take one more read.  You know, the one where I am actually awake and have my wits about me.  The one where I am not rocking back and forth and drooling like I’ve been locked in some rubber room for too long.  That’s when I will trust the work is valid.  And it is then that I will, I am certain, make the "final" changes that constitute this draft.

That’s the version I will trust to send to the TInseltown producers and such who have expressed interest.

Billwork2

For now, my life–like my office–feels like it’s a complete mess.  I am certain that’s not the case, and that all it takes is a little tidying up to be good as new.  Over the course of this week, however, as I have locked myself away day and night to cross this finish line, I could hear balls dropping around me right and left.

That’s not a good feeling.

And it’s a strange thing to know it’s happening, yet know that your life at the moment depends on your keeping focus on achieving one particular goal to the exclusion of nearly everything else.  And that in order to do it service, the process of achieving said goal, in fact, demands it.

You bracket that feeling away and soldier on, knowing that the fabric of your life is
unraveling some in the process.  Your hope being that the pieces of your life are
still relatively intact when you return to "normalcy"–at least
intact enough that you can them pick up and that they will function reasonably well when you put them back in place.  You trust in that…in your ability to do that and in the strength of your relationships with the ones you love, who suffer the most when you step away.

It’s the thing, by the way, that I am not certain I like about writing.  It’s certainly the hardest for me to wrap my head around because I’m the "I want everyone to like me and to have everything be okay" guy.  And yet, for some reason, I accept the "not okay-ness" of this life.  I submit to it willingly.  And with gusto.  And abandon.

I guess that’s why I say it’s a calling.

That said, I am going to start tidying up.

Billwork1

Yes…those are beer bottles.  More than I realized.  And dirty dishes piled up.  And something nasty is wafting up from the garbage.

And then there’s getting the tabs for the car, which should have been done Monday.  And paying some bills to, you know, keep our home working.

And touching base again with what makes it all worth it.

Robbye and I are heading off to a Haley Bonar concert tonight.  A CD release party for her new album.  It was a Mother’s Day gift for Robbye.  I am looking forward to spending some quality alone time with her.  To enjoying some of our favorite music together.

And maybe this time she’ll actually talk to Haley!  (I will let Robbye explain sometime…  [wink])

The script, my friends…

This is gonna be short today.  The recent embarrassment of riches in my professional life have had one downside.

This INCARNATION draft..?  Still not done.

Ack!

Incpt
I’ve got the producer of the July 8 event emailing me this morning asking for a draft of the script, so he can get it to the casting agent.  And we’ve got at least two Hollywood actors who are considering doing the reading.

The script, my friends, must get done.

I have been trying to carve out the time to simply finish it.  This week, for example.  But something always comes up.  Now it’s Friday, and I am barely further than I was on Monday.

The script, my friends, must get done.

There are at least two companies interested in buying the thing.  There is another production company interested in looking at it as a Dean/Bill project.  There are a couple of folks interested in possible financing.

The script, my friends, must get done.

I gotta lock myself away.  With the exception of the Super Sale tomorrow, which is a Heavir-Schlafer tradition that deserves its all due respect, and Robbye’s 40th B-Day gathering, which is a once in a lifetime thang, I gotta go into my cave.  I have to somehow make the time to put myself in the mental zone, so I can see how all these pieces fit together.

The script, my friends, must get done.

Yet, the floor drain in the basement is backing up.  One of the cars might be on the fritz.  Bills must be paid.  Loved ones require care and attention.  Dogs and cats must be let out and fed.  And businesses must be run.

But somehow, for a moment, I must close the door and escape into this world my mind has conjured.  Because the Universe I live in on a day-to-day basis is telling me the solution to all that stands in front of me right now is simple…

The script, my friends, must get done.

Bill True, this is your life

See this?

Beatlist2
Innocent-looking enough page with some typing and scribble on it, right?

If that’s what you think, you’d be wrong.  This page, and 105 others very similar to it, have the power to take control of a human life.  To keep it captive for weeks–even months–at a time.  Not just the body, but the mind.  The soul, even.  And they are ruthless, unforgiving captors.

For the past four weeks, I have been trying to complete a rewrite of my script, INCARNATION.  There at least two production companies (one has read a draft, the other hasn’t) who are very, very interested in it, and I am also counting on it to absolutely seal the deal on this very cool manager I have been sort of working with of late.  So…no pressure.

The good news is that everyone who reads it pretty much loves it.  Therein, however, lies the bad news, as well.  Everyone pretty much loves it.  And that "pretty much" makes all the difference.

It’s nothing fundamental, like the premise isn’t interesting or the plot is lacking or the characters aren’t real and engaging.  No, everyone really likes all of that.  In fact, the universal response is that this is a great, solid script that is beautifully written (gosh…thanks, folks).

The problem is that I made a decision for one of the main characters at the outset of writing the thing, and that decision is proving to be potentially fatal.  It has everyone who reads the thing saying, "In the end, I loved it.  It made perfect sense, and I was really moved and entertained.  But in the beginning, I wasn’t so sure about where you were going with that Henry character.  I was afraid to like him.  I was afraid that I was going to be sorely disappointed and hurt later if I put my trust in him."

I get it.  Oddly enough, it was that specific reaction that I was looking for when I sat down to write the Henry character.  My assertion was that it’s important for him to be something of a cypher and for us to question his motives.  It heightened the impact of the eventual reveal, I thought.

And all that is true.  People get that.  But it still gets in the way of the experience of the read.

And it’s getting in the way of people committing to the script.

So I have to fix that.  Problem is, something that integral to the structure of the story has implications throughout the entire script.  It has tendrils that burrow into several scenes, which must be ferreted out and contended with.

My solution was to go back to Screenwriting 101.  Break the script down beat by beat, which is represented by the scribble on the page at the top of this post.  The only way that I can make certain that the issue is adequately addressed and resolved is to tear the thing down like an engine.  Line up the parts on the floor; take a look at each and every one.  Identify which ones require polishing, and which ones require replacing.  Then put the thing back together.

After I am done, the thing’s gonna look kind of different, but my hope is that this baby hums like it ain’t never hummed before.

But right now, all the parts are still scattered across the floor.  I am feeling a little overwhelmed and a lot under pressure (mostly of the temporal variety).  I am somewhat behind the 8-ball in getting the new version to the people who want to read it, and I have to get it out the door sometime next week.  At the latest.  And so the rest of my life is, at the moment, at a virtual stand still until I can find the best and most creative way to put all these pieces back together.

We’ll see what happens.  For now, I feel most bad for Robbye, whom I knows misses her husband.

Don’t worry, Baby.  Good news is the work is paying off.  I had a burst of inspiration yesterday, and I think I know how do this now.  Keep a beer handy; I’ll be emerging from the garage soon.

I can’t stand up (for falling down)

Shit.

That’s about all I can say.

Right before dinner last night, I zipped upstairs to my office to hit send on an email I forgot about.  Click, went I.  Whiz-Bang, went the message.  Pop, went my inbox.

That’s when I saw it.

It was a message from a production company executive I’ve been working with toward developing a particular book series as a mini-series for a major cable network.  I opened the message, hopeful for good news.  Good news, it seemed, had taken the day off.

From his email: Also, finally heard back from MANAGEMENT FIRM re: TITLE and there are apparently two
offers (one real, one not so much) on the table now.  Also a writer, he didn’t
tell me who, that is making a play for it…
Not great news, but at least you know what’s happening with it.

Damn it!

It sucks because mere months ago, I had checked in with the management company.  The rights were available–free and clear.  There was another producer I’d been trying to interest in the project.  Yet, though I caught his attention and he’s been very generous with his time and consideration, he’s also up to his eyeballs with his own wildly successful cable series and its impending follow up.  Go figure.

Last month, as I sat in this other exec’s (who is a really cool guy, as well) office, it occurred to me that I should mention the property and what I knew about it.  And he did sometime no one else had done to date: he pricked up at the mention of it.  He got up, went immediately over to his computer, and Googled the series title.  One peek at the Wikipedia entry, and he was in.  He was, in fact, kind of excited.

We parted with a commitment from him to verify the rights availability.  If they were still clear, then it seemed he was interested in making a offer for them.  Most important, he seemed committed to letting me adapt the thing, which would not only have been amazing fun, but a great and steady gig for at least the next two years…maybe even longer if somehow the thing could be leveraged into an ongoing series.

Not a bad position to be in, eh?

In the feeding frenzy of gobbling up rights to virtually every book, blog, TV show, and magazine article known to humankind, I was amazed when the word came back that the rights to this series–which is quite popular and well known in certain circles–had reverted back to the author’s estate.  I had, it seemed, found the golden egg that rolled under the bed, overlooked by the scavengers.  I tried to hurry.  I tried to not tip my hand too overtly.  I knew that it was only a matter of time until someone lifted the dust ruffle and discovered my little secret.

And so it came to pass.

I know I shouldn’t be upset.  I know I shouldn’t let it get to me.  And it won’t…not in the long run.  Tomorrow I’ll wake up and reset and be okay.  It’s who I am.  It’s what I do.

But today I am pissed off.  Today I feel bad.  Today I just wanna curl up and cry.

The problem is that I broke the cardinal rule of the movie business.  I am nearly as upset about that as I am about the project dying on the vine.  I feel like a neophyte.  I feel like an amateur.  I feel stupid.

The problem is that I let myself get excited about the possibility.  I built a tower of expectation, forgetting that such things are unstable in the extreme and prone to collapsing without warning.  But I built the damned thing, anyway.  And I climbed clear on up to the top without the slightest thought to the cuts and bruises I’d earn for my trouble if the thing went down.

Because it was a cool idea.  Because it coulda worked.  Because it came to me unexpectedly in the first place.  And because I’d secretly harbored a dream that maybe I would be the guy to turn this book series into a movie since I was a kid.

HHHHHHhhhhhhhhh………………………

Bummer.

Silly.

Stupid.

Me.

POSTSCRIPT:  When I got home from my lunch meeting today, I got a really nice hug & kiss from Robbye and then discovered something had come for me in the mail.  A box.  An Amazon box.  And inside, this…

Planet_of_the_apes_tv_4a871
Very cool!  But I didn’t understand.  I hadn’t ordered it.

After some sleuthing around on the packing invoice, I found a little message: To: Bill From: Mike  Happy Birthday, lad!  Feel free to do the simian step as you return to those thrilling days of yesteryear.

Huh.  Sweet!  And heads above the 4 Questions thing I recently received from him.  Whadda guy..!  Thanks, Uncle Mike!

And suddenly, between that and the nice greeting I got from my darling wife, my day started looking up.

Catching up

Dear friends,

Hello.  How are you?

I am fine.

Thank you for stopping by today.

What’s going on?  Oh, man!  Where do I start?

Remember this l’il thing?

Headhurts1

Apparently, I should be provide a little more explanation when I post something like that.

Reminds me of the time when I posted this (really bad) poem I wrote as a kind of nod to Pablo Picasso and Surrealism a couple of years back and promptly left town for a week to the lands beyond cell service coverage.  Oh, my…  Can you say voice mail messages?  Took me over a week to convince everyone that I was neither losing it nor suicidal.

Friends and family.  God love ’em, but sometimes it’s hard to be a writer trying to strut his stuff in their line of sight.

Oh, well…occupational hazard.

No one said it was gonna be easy.  Trying to understand a writer guy, yet trying to care about him at the same time, that is.  It requires a whole new compass than most folks are used to.  North doesn’t always point north.  What’s worse is north changes, sometimes shifting unexpectedly and for inexplicable reasons.  So you can’t obtain a compass for the purposes of getting a good read on us writer types.  You gotta build ’em from scratch.

Oh, well…all guys like me can hope is that the rest of you think it’s worth the trouble.

That said, from the "What I really meant" department, comes this:

I had a lot going on.  I tried to write it all out in a sort of "let’s catch up with Bill" missive, but there was so much to say.  It gave me a head ache.  My creative response to said cranial distress was to let the long, rambling post go and simply (and, I thought, humorously) "depict" my feelings over trying to describe the myriad plates I had spinning at the time.  The rest, as they say….

In truth, everything was fine, though I admit that I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed of late.  Hyperactivity, with rarely enough energy to tackle each zone of my crazy/beautiful life with the gusto, creativity, and passion it deserves.  There have been many days, in fact, when I’ve felt like I’m losing ground everywhere.  And even moments when I’ve felt like an utter failure.

Then again…that’s nothing new.

Occupational hazard…of being me.

But the strike is over, and far from my previous fears, Hollywood seems to be welcoming me with reasonably open arms.  Yeah..check this out–

  • It’s not out of the realm of possibility that RUNAWAY could see some sort of distribution in the near future.
  • The management company I would like to work with seems genuinely interested in working with me.
  • I am in very active talks with a very reputable production company to develop a real, live Hollywood movie (a proposed budget in the mid-eight figures was tossed onto the table yesterday).
  • I have a good bead on (and have been highly recommended to) a great agent at a major agency.
  • INCARNATION, all of a sudden, is getting a lot of attention and seems to be taking on a life of its own.
  • As I plan on making a pilgrimage to the Tower of Tinsel in the next few weeks, people seem to really wanna meet with me.  For the first time ever, I think that my dance card will be full–with real and meaningful meetings to show for it.  Yikes!
  • If I play my cards right, I’ll have a first draft new spec script (which already has parties interested in reading it) ready to show the world by the end of March.

Holy crap, right?  Makes my head spin.  Mostly in a good way.

SagePresence is going equally well.  People are really responding to it, and we’re getting opportunities to speak and train all over.  The biggest problem there is there’s only three of us.  At some point in the VERY near future, we will have need to hire someone (or somones) to help us manage this thing.  Especially as word about what we’re doing spreads outside the Twin Cities, as it’s beginning to do so.  It’s quite amazing and scary cool.

Funny how this professional speaking thing so powerfully supports the screenwriting career, and vice versa.  Equally, how much fun I’m having going around and talking to folks.  Having such an immediate, profound, and positive impact for people–seeing it on their faces and hearing their stories of trouble and triumph–really makes my day.

And home…  With respect to that, let me simply say that Georges Seurat would be proud.  As I am proud of us.  All of us.  Yesterday, I noticed a piece of me was calm in the face of an otherwise tubulent day.  That piece was the one associated with home.

It was a bit of a surprise, as honoring this Great Love, this great family, and "putting it together" hasn’t always been the most calm of affairs.  But yesterday’s discovery spoke volumes.  It spoke of healing.  It spoke of health and happiness.  It spoke of peace and prosperity.  It spoke of adventure and accomplishment.  It whispered in my ear, visions of the future that brought a smile to my lips.

Today, my head doesn’t hurt.  Nothing has changed, except for today I feel a little less overwhelmed by this crazy/beautiful life.  That’s all.

Because I know head aches come with the job description.

Husband.

Dad.

Partner.

Speaker.

Friend.

Family.

Screenwriter.

Superhero.

None of ’em easy.  All of ’em worth it.

Dear friend…I hope you are well, too.  I look forward to catching up again in the near future.

Best to you and yours.  Let’s get together soon!

Yours TRUE-ly,

Bill

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"

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.