Friends of the Family

• Friday, July 31, 2009 0 comments
I realize I promised updates as far as it concerned the work Kyle and I were doing on "Nova" this week, but internet access was spotty, and the two of us stayed pretty busy. More updates wound up going to my Twitter page [which was shockingly reliable, actually], and after I gather those up, along with my paper notes, I plan on making a big post about it either late tonight or sometime tomorrow.

Twitter proved to be useful enough that I think I'm going to integrate it into this page, though I haven't exactly decided how yet. There are certainly a lot of options as to how I could go about it, and I'll be looking into them over the next several days. Mind any layout changes in the meantime, of course. Nothing's permanent.

My friend Zoe has also joined us here on blogspot, leaving behind her livejournal of several years and starting AnachroLush, her own little of Neo Retro soapbox. She's just getting started, but I encourage everyone to go and see what she's doing, as we've talked at length about what we both hope to get out of blogging, and I consider her site a sort of kindred spirit of the Mojo Wire. Naturally, as a graphic artist, her website is already quite a bit more attractive than mine, despite the Wire having almost a year on the Lush.

Speaking of kindred spirits, Ian recently linked this blog in one of his own entries, and I thought I might give his [Re: A Wave of the Hand] some of the same attention. Like me, Ian is kind of self-conscious about what to use his own little section of the internet for, and I think his most recent posting is not all that much different from something you might see on this page. He's currently in Japan, and often shares humorous anecdotes or classy travelogues from his time there too, all while skating the very thin ice of an AEON gag order.

Finally, in return for name dropping me in one of his articles a few months back, and just because his micro-fiction blog is always worth a look, I recommend checking out John's Bathroom Monologues. You may notice I link these often -- and that's because they're that damn good, and if you're not reading them, you're missing out. John's also always good about taking a look at my work, and has logged some serious time talking with me about Nova. While he's not the only one, I'm sure he's had the most headache with it, and this is really the least I can do.

Be posting about "Nova" soon, assuming I don't crash.

Cheers.

Pre-production on "Nova" begins Monday

• Sunday, July 26, 2009 1 comments
Tomorrow, I head to Huntington for several days to crash at Kyle's and begin heavy pre-production on "Nova." I say heavy because technically, pre-production has already begun, with me spending this week looking for a costume designer [largely in radio silence mode here on the blog, to keep the title of the previous post prominently displayed], and Kyle planning out the early parts of our budget and filming schedule. For my part, I've found some success, with two very promising possibilities for our costume designer, both of whom have considerable skill and experience in the film. Kyle seems to be doing well too, and I'm looking forward to getting some of the big work started on Monday.

Though no master plan for the week has been set, it looks like we'll be doing a lot of last minute brainstorming, along with location scouting and at least one table-reading of the script. Kyle will also be filling me in on some of the finer technicalities of behind-the-scenes work [I'm just a writer, after all], and we'll probably focus a lot on funding -- specifically the where and how we're going to obtain it. There will probably be a lot of talk about who we want on the crew as well, and my hope is that we'll set solid dates for things like casting calls and maybe even some of the earlier shooting.

I think being in Huntington will be helpful to me since we're shooting there, and so much of the work Kyle and I have done so far has been on the phone, it'll be nice to get some actual face time. There are a lot of particulars lost in e-mails and text messages as well, and since I think "Nova" will end up being a film about the details, this could cause some surprising [but hopefully beneficial] changes to the project. I'm especially looking forward to the reading, mostly because I've never done anything like it before outside of play writing, and it'll be interesting to hear all of these words finally coming out of people's mouths.

It might be helpful too. The majority of my day today was spent working on "Nova," as I wanted a fresh draft going into this week, and I really didn't make much progress. Though at this point I'd call the script shootable, I have been trying to tweak some of the dialogue, particularly near the middle, where I think I skate by a little too much on empty rapport between characters. Catching the characters' personalities and the rhythm of the conversation is important [and something, arrogantly, I think I'm good at], but it can also cover up dialogue which doesn't really serve the story in a useful way. In longer narratives, that can be really helpful and even charming, but since "Nova" is a relatively economical script, I thought I'd easily be able to remove some of that. Not so much, or not yet anyway, and though I still have tonight, it's nice to know I'll also have the reading to get an idea of how everything sounds. I expect it to clear up a lot.

I figure there's two drafts to go, and then the only changes to "Nova" will be done hurriedly on set or in the editing room. So what I'm basically saying is if you have feedback for me, get it in quickly, because I'm really starting to feel "finished" as far as the script goes.

But then again, there's still everything else that needs done.

More soon. If possible, I'll try to update regularly while at Kyle's.

Looking for a Costume Designer.

• Tuesday, July 21, 2009 3 comments
Another sleepless night, made only manageable by the few hours I was able to get the evening before.

There was actually a very small window where I know I could have slept peacefully for the rest of the night, but as I was setting the power settings on my computer screen to go off [leaving the machine on to run some downloads], I noticed that for some reason my battery was holding at 64%. Watched it for a minute with no change, then ran a few tests myself, and knew I had to make the call.

Still, sleep's been intermittent at best lately, so I knew if I actually dosed off I could wind up out for 16+ or something equally crazy, and then lose a day in getting whatever the problem was fixed. So I dialed Dell's tech support [24 hours a day], catching Dell Support Canada [India], and then getting transferred to Dell Support Continental United States [India]. Long story short, it could be as simple as my A/C being out, but just in case, Dell's sending me a new motherboard.

Kind of funny when you think about what happened to my last computer. Glad for my current warranty.

Lot of work's gotten done over the past couple of days [re: Nova]. I did up character sheets and One Liner/Synopsis/Story Summary for Nova, while Kyle finished off the storyboards and started mapping out the scenes/shots. Magic number 109.

I also finished up a new draft of the script, with a few minor tweaks throughout, and a considerably re-arranged ending, as discussed in the previous post. I actually find myself with some mixed feelings on these changes, but have decided to sit on them a bit, maybe have a few people take a look before I decide what's next. I expect there will be at least one more draft, if not a couple more. I have a rule of no more than nine, because for one this isn't "Ulysses," and for two, there's a lot of lessons a young screenwriter can take away from "Last Action Hero."

But I've already cheated, as the draft I was toying with last night got labeled "5.1."

Early snag, Kyle and I are looking for a Costume Designer for the film. Specifically, someone with experience and/or an education in the field, who is willing to work free and on a relatively small budget [edit: Also, local, or willing to cover your own travel expenses]. Most of the costuming would be pretty standard, but we'd like something kind of hip for the angel [while still fitting, functional, and relevant], though there would probably be a little room for some flourishes here or there. Inexpensive flourishes, but flourishes nonetheless.

If you're reading this, and think someone might be interested in the job, message me on Facebook, Twitter, or e-mail me at mojo.wire.productions@gmail.com. I actually have a few leads on people to call, but nothing concrete, and nothing I'm 100% sure is going to work out. So I encourage anyone even remotely interested in working with us to contact me.

I finished "Welcome to the N.H.K." this morning. Brilliant, beautiful show. Can't thank those fans who went to the trouble of subbing it enough.

My plan after finishing the "Nova" screenplay is to take another crack at "The Familiar." Might go into more detail as to way later on, but there's been some movement there.

Ending this post with my current tag line idea for Nova. Let me know what you think.

[it's time to let go.]

Literary Tranvestism

• Sunday, July 19, 2009 1 comments
What follows is probably not as interesting as the title suggests.

I was woefully under-productive as it concerns "Nova" tonight [re: last night], partly because while I was sitting down to masterfully cut-together the Gin Blossoms and Better than Ezra playlist which would guide my writing into the dawn, John IM'ed me and asked "What wrestling are we going to watch?" So instead of working, I spent part of the evening gleefully watching Yuji Nagata kick the crap out of some fat kid, and then enjoying four of my favorite Jr. Heavyweights put on a fun title match. Properly derailed, I used the rest of the night to answer some back-logged e-mail, and generally try and distract myself from some of the cheerier thoughts working their way back into my head. Nothing got done, but...

I regret nothing.

Honestly, I was kind of glad to step away. Despite my enthusiasm for the project, "Nova's" ending is plagued by a problem I almost missed. Those who haven't read the screenplay are going to have some trouble keeping up, but I'll do my best to summarize.

The final scene of the film, the denouement of the film, as it were, has our fallen angel and our main character enjoying a beer on the roof, and reflecting on the happenings of their day. Ultimately, the conversation comes around to nature of what the Angel has lost -- specifically, what she's had to forcibly leave behind when she crashed to Earth in the first place. Having trouble properly explaining this, Clayton draws a parallel to his own pain and loss, in the relationship [and girl] he struggles to let go of throughout the film. The audience and the characters are then satisfied with the explanation, there's a sweet moment [I know, I surprise myself sometimes], and the film comes to the desired conclusion.

After taking a look at the script for me, however, Lex pointed something out that hadn't crossed my mind while writing this -- that the ending, though successful at drawing the parallel, does it in a bit of an insensitive way. Specifically, it takes this gigantic loss and change for the Angel, and brings it back to our protagonist's failed relationship, which I have pretty well buried and ridiculed over the course of the film. Worse, to some it may even appear that Clayton is co-opting her pain with his own, which could even retroactively harm the Angel's feelings and belittle the experience she's just had.

It's a subtle point, and one that I think some may even take issue with as being false. But I believe it's valid, and I thought I might talk a little bit about why.

Part of it is that I think there's a lot of maleness in "Nova." Before angels get involved, it's mostly a buddy picture, with the typical bromantic comedy situation of one friend looking out for another during a hard time. It's the age old tradition of bad-mouthing the ex, getting drunk, and keeping said heart-broken friend from drunk dialing the object of his affection, and it puts a lot of machismo in the script, even if it's just at that vulnerable man level. It was kind of unavoidable, since I was partly writing "Nova" to make myself feel better, and what apparently what made me feel better was to go to that Kevin Smith place in my situations and dialogue, and move forward from there.

How this effect my [bad] ending has to do with something that always fascinated me about Smith's movies, which is that the majority of his male characters are actually afraid of women -- something Smith himself has occasionally called attention to, and thinks comes from somewhere in that late-80's to early-90's "raised by your mother" nu male philosophy. And while I'm not really looking to identify it's origin, I know from experience that this sort of perspective paints women largely as villains or minstrels; they become problem makers or problem solvers for their male counterparts, and often fall a bit short -- rarely getting the depth or consideration they deserve.

I think I am guilty of this a bit with the end of "Nova," and made that scene more about Clayton's situation improving than the Angel moving forward with her loss. And while the first thing is certainly an aspect that needs to come out in the story, it shouldn't at the expense of the last, and both the Angel and Clayton should realize suitable resolutions. Some of that maleness has to come out, so our woman can shine through.

The other half has more to do with what came before "Nova" [re: Trendsetter]. I tried to work my frustrations with "Trendsetter" out in "Nova," and a few small themes do reappear, not the least of which is my oft-pointed out return to"guy pining for his girl and connecting that longing to his cell phone" situation. It was always my intention in "Nova" to sort of poke fun at how heavy that became in "Trendsetter" -- not to belittle or undercut so much, just to come at the work at a bit of different angle, and show how one man's tragedy might actually be less sad and more pathetic for another character. I honestly feel like I was successful in doing this, with both situations feasibly existing without necessarily seeming derivative of each other. Perhaps even being complimentary in a way.

But by the end, I didn't quite remove myself enough, and may have unnecessarily weighted the pain Clayton felt over his break-up in "Nova" to mirror that of the protagonist of "Trendsetter." The bigger problem being that I did this mostly in my head, and not on the page, so by the end of "Nova" we're treated to a relationship I've largely undercut as being as important as deities falling from the sky. It's absolutely ludicrous to think of with the way I've treated it in the script, and while it might not be so odd for the character of Clayton to present it to the Angel as a parallel to her situation, the only proper response for her would be along the lines of "Are you fucking dense? Are you retarded or something?"

So, it needs fixed. Do I know how? Absolutely, it's just a small matter of restructuring some dialogue, so if anyone taking it down to Clayton's level, it's the Angel, and not him. The phrasing and the rhythm have just been a little frustrating for me, hence this night spent easily distracted and rolling it all over in my head. It feels better getting it all out here, and I should be moving forward soon.

Next updates will probably be some names of people attached to the film's crew. Kyle and I talked at length today about finding a costume designer, when I wasn't acting giddy over the teaser posters he'd put together the night before. I might end up posting those here, if I get larger copies of them, but for those of you on Facebook, the smaller versions are on mine and Kyle's walls.

More soon. Cheers.

And just like that, it's gone...

• Saturday, July 18, 2009 0 comments
As I mentioned earlier in the week, all links to "Nova" have been taken down. If you'd still like to look at it for me, or if you're curious about what Kyle and I will be working on this fall, then email me at mojo.wire.productions@gmail.com.

Various updates: Calamity Cash, Familiar, and Twitter

• Wednesday, July 15, 2009 6 comments
Few things to cover, mostly business-related.

Quite a lot of work was done on "Calamity Cash" during my week or so of radio silence here on the Mojo Wire. Justin has posted samples here, here, and here on his blog, going from most recent to least. Some may have been posted here before, and as always, I encourage you to click on M.R.C.R.W.

Justin's been trying something different with the way he's working on pages, doing five or so at a time, and then getting to the computer work, which has seemed to up his output considerably. I remain impressed with how well the pages are coming out, and am excited that we've crossed the half-way point and are getting deep into the action of the story. Just recently sent me the finished pages, and I can't say enough about how amazing they look, and how he's made at least one of my dreams come true, by putting an exclamatory "COCKBLOCK!!" in a situation I'm almost 100% certain it has never been before.

Proof positive that if something is awesome, it's more awesome on a motorcycle.

Lately, I've also talked a lot about working with a photographer -- the purpose being to take some pictures of Elk River for a movie I'd written [Re: The Familiar]. Regrettably, it looks as though those plans aren't going to be working out anymore. While the photographer I tapped seemed very committed to the project, she now feels she's unable to fit me into her busy schedule, and I'm left a little out in the cold. I had a lot of hope for the collaboration, and felt like I put myself out there a little bit for a fellow artist. While the timing is no longer as pressing as it was, it is difficult for me to have put so much time into preparing for something, and then have it fall apart like this. Such is life, I suppose, and best to look at this as a learning experience, pick up, and move on.

No hard feelings to any of the parties involved. Some things just don't work out as they should. If anyone is a camera jockey, or knows one who might be interested in pro bono work with the possibility of a payday in the distant future, leave a comment in this entry, or e-mail me at mojo.wire.productions@gmail.com.

Finally, in a smaller note, I'm giving Twitter a try. My user name is, surprise, "themojowire." I feel slightly like I'm selling out for having it, and I blame John completely for starting me on it. Near as I can tell, the program is just a sewage drain into a shallow trench of trivialities where anyone can troll the internet, real life, or people talking about the internet and real life in 140 character bursts. Unless, of course, you live in Iran [you don't].

So why have it at all? There are a lot of things I originally intended to do in this blog [talk about what I'm reading, watching, or the music I'm listening to] which I quickly shuttled in favor of trying to keep the focus on writing and my creative process. And being honest with myself, there's really nothing terribly interesting or professional about me talking about how I'm digging the Detroit Cobras, or how Matt&Kim's album "Grand" makes me smile. The same is true about links to articles I'm reading, thoughts about pro wrestling, or even political musings -- all stuff I toyed with in this blog earlier on that never really took. I'm hoping this can be a place for that.

I also think that as time goes on, and I get busier with some of this film stuff, it might be rad to be able to send updates in real time from my phone to whatever set or anything I'm working on. Honestly, I might be too busy, but if I'm not? That'd be pretty useful gadget to have, and if I suddenly get serious with it, expect it to be integrated into this site in some way.

For now, I just use it as a place to be faux clever, crass, and mopey. Wouldn't recommend it if you're looking for information, or to be entertained. Still, I'm told it gets fun when you start following people, so this is me, giving it the old college try.

Shalom.


P.S. I would also like to send a message to my friend Kaley, and her family. I know since Steven's death they occasionally check this space, and I want to send them my condolences for their recent loss. Each one seems to make all the others sting that much more.

So, we're going to make "Nova"...

• Sunday, July 12, 2009 2 comments
This is going to be a little difficult to get through, so bear with me. I think, later on, I'll appreciate having everything here, and that it'll clarify a lot of what I'll be doing over the next several months.

Some things have changed. As of now, Kyle Quinn and I are no longer looking at "Trendsetter" as our next [re: first] project together -- rather, we are currently looking at making the short film "Nova." I am currently preparing a final draft of the script, while Kyle is working storyboards and making the first moves towards getting us the proper funding. I've also requested we put a reading of the screenplay together, which will hopefully be taking place in the next month to month-and-a-half.

It is still a little early for a lot of specific details, but a few things are already apparent. Our projected budget for the project is somewhere in the area of 10-15,000 dollars, and we will likely be shooting the film on the RED camera. At some point there will be a casting call, while the film itself will likely shoot in Huntington, maybe Charleston [re: less likely]. There are three major roles in the movie, and a lot of little ones, too, a few of which have to be just as strong as our leads.

My role in the film is currently up in the air -- of course I'm the screen writer, and may also take over in the role of director, co-director, or producer. Kyle will be our director almost certainly, and may be stepping around to the other side of the camera as well, to act in it. I'm certain Glen and Seth will be involved, and my kid brother has also shown interest in helping us out behind the scenes. We also have loads of other friends who sometimes come in on these things, so a lot is happening, and who know who will be doing what by the time we start rolling. There's also a possibility of a small, indy film outfit getting involved with it's production -- so possibilities abound.

My work on "Nova" has been well documented here, and since the beginning I've posted each new draft as I've finished it. If you haven't read "Nova," and would like to, I recommend downloading it from the previous post now, since at the end of this week, I'll be disabling all the links to it on ADrive. If you have read it, and have you notes for me, or just want to pick my brain, you can reach me by commenting here, emailing me at mojo.wire.productions@gmail.com, or messaging me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/randallnichols. I would really appreciate the help and opinions of my friends and the few readers I have, especially since the quality of "Nova" needs to be especially high now.

On to the obvious questions. Why has "Nova" superseded "Trendsetter"? There are a lot of answers to that, and I want to cover as many of them as I can. The first is that, quite simply, the script to "Nova" is finished, and ready to shoot. It is my intention to do at least one more draft [if not two], but if the camera and crew were available, it could be started tomorrow. The same cannot be said for "Trendsetter" which is, of course, a failing on my part, and one I take as wholly my responsibility.

I don't think anyone would be surprised as to the why on that. To say it out loud [and it has become important me to be able to say it], my dad died recently. I'm having... trouble with it. I'm not saying I've done nothing but think about Dad, because that would be disingenuous, but it coloring the way I see things, and the way I work. And while it certainly didn't seem as though I was making a great deal of progress on "Trendsetter" before that happened, any chance of getting back to it after has been... difficult. There is a mindset about TS, a certain kind of grief that is apparent in it -- it's a relationship story, it's about finding someone, most importantly, it's about losing that someone in a very particular way. And while my mind has been on grief and on loss lately, it is a completely different kind of grief I'm dealing with now.

To put a finer point on it, there is no death in "Trendsetter." And even the protagonist, as broken as he is, never thinks about the concept. I do. Lately, almost constantly. And not just death, but the cruelty of it. Banal persecution, and finality. Part of "Nova" [thought it may not seem like it], part of all the shorts I've been writing lately, have been me trying to deal with that. And while I would like to be more professional, while I'd like to be able to set my own personal feelings aside and just get on with the work, I can't. I'd like to be that kind of person -- I know loads of them, people who, when faced with tragedy, can throw themselves into whatever they're doing completely, and be productive. And while I have been writing, as far as "Trendsetter" is concerned, I haven't been productive.

My hope is that one day that will change. That I'll grow up. But right now, this is where I am. And I'm eternally grateful I have people my life, who I work with [re: Kyle], who understand.

I feel uncomfortable posting all of this, but I feel it somewhat necessary. There's still something very cold to me in talking about the practical implications of losing Dad. Selfish.

I know there is a lot of different feelings amongst those who have read "Nova," with some enjoying it and believing it is some of my best work, and others feeling it isn't nearly as powerful as "Trendsetter" or some of the other things I've worked on. I think both of those assessments are fair -- there are things in "Nova" I am very proud of, and there are things I readily admit are a bit lighter or more derivative of my influences. I don't think this makes it bad, however, and there are a lot of benefits to doing "Nova" now.

For one, it's cheaper. Even with the necessary special effects, "Nova" can be completed for half the cost of "Trendsetter," and will provide Kyle and I with a much stronger test run for making our own movies. Though Kyle has some experience, helming a project like this is a new thing for both of us and something smaller is a much wiser move as well.

Another reason for the change is that I believe that "Nova" is overall a better platform to get us noticed. The intention of "Trendsetter" was to make a profit [not the sole intention, of course], but that burden is largely lifted with a shorter piece. Furthermore, the content of Nova, with it's influences in comedy, horror, and magical realism, will show greater range and have quirky enough content that it will hopefully stand out a little better -- and attention will mean more money, and more money will mean more work. Kyle and I may even be able to use the film as a springboard to our next job. So I think, with all these factors considered, "Nova" is a better use of our time.

Does that mean "Trendsetter" has been abandoned? No, not at all. I love "Trendsetter," the story means a lot to me, and the characters mean even more. I've actually been looking at it today, and it's in arm reach of me right now. If nothing else, all this has strengthened my resolve to finish it. Just taking this detour is very difficult for me, and I've agonized about it privately. But I need time, time to get my head together, time to sort some things out, and time to find that spark again. My hope is working on "Nova" will give me that, and help me sort some things out.

So "Nova" becomes a primer, with "Trendsetter" as project #2. Which is actually far closer to what Kyle wanted in the first place [re: a short]. And there's still plenty of time for both.

And for those of you in the know, none of this effects next year.

I realize all that above is a lot to get through, and I appreciate anyone who took the time to read it, especially since most was for my own benefit. I hope it clears some things up. I'm pretty excited to finally be getting started on something, and I'm really interested to see what Kyle and I can do on this sort...odd concept that is "Nova."

There are a few other things I need to cover, few more changes, few other projects, but I don't want them to get lost in all this, so I'll save them for later in the week.

Here's to the next step.

Shalom.

"Nova," 4th Draft [Well...more like 3.5]

• Friday, July 3, 2009 0 comments
Download new "Nova" here [Link removed -- sorry, if you'd like to see "Nova" email me at mojo.wire.productions@gmail.com].

As I said in an earlier post, it wasn't my intention to post this draft of the script -- really, all that's changed are a couple of lines of dialogue, and few typos and brainos [as John would say]. I also didn't expect there to be too many more downloads of it, but the past couple of days have proven me very wrong, and I find myself unable to entertain thoughts of people seeing my careless mistakes.

So, if you've read the third draft, there's absolutely no reason to download this. If you haven't read it yet, the link at the beginning of this post is the one you want.

Appreciate everyone who's taken a look so far.

Staying relatively busy with the extra family that's been here, and using any spare time to catch up on e-mail, or things I said I'd read for people. I may have some interesting news in a couple of days.