Thursday, May 9, 2013

Analog Love

It's Throwback Thursday where everyone posts old school pics so I came across this old one of me in college directing my dystopian short ANALOG LOVE at Dartmouth.

Cigar in hand - Godard would be proud.
Shot on 16mm black and white negative on a classic Arriflex.  The film was an homage to my favorites Alphaville by Godard and La Jetee by Chris Marker.  Man, those are awesome films.

How beautiful was Godard's wife and muse Anna Karina?  My god, those eyes...

I even found a girl on campus who looked like Anna Karina and insisted she be in the film!  I still think using non-actors in films, especially short or experimental ones, can be richly rewarding.

You can watch my film ANALOG LOVE here:


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Dungeons & Dragons Movie

I'm very excited at the news that Warner Brothers is planning on making a new Dungeons & Dragons feature.

Art by Larry Elmore
I'm a big fan of D&D and have been ever since I used to spend some recesses in elementary school playing AD&D first edition in the hallway.

So is Hollywood - Game of Thrones writer David Benioff loved D&D growing up, and Vin Diesel used to play games fueled by pints of coffee ice cream and describes the game as "a training ground for your imagination."

The last D&D movie was a big disappointment because it was so campy.  The tone was just goofy.  To players of D&D, we lost another chance for the mainstream to take the game seriously.  To the mainstream, it made D&D look like a silly game for teens.

Hopefully they use Larry Elmore as an artistic consultant.  His art has been used for D&D since the beginning and he is just amazing.

There's a great D&D podcast called Critical Hit that's been going on for years, and the folks over there really know how to use the game world in a captivating and engrossing way.  Maybe the writers of this new film can take a listen?  Probably too much to ask.

Scrolling through the comments on there's the classic amount of haterism about the project; mostly pointing to past adaptations that have flopped and the "difficulty" of using a world that's so wide-open and doesn't have any specific characters.  Those are somewhat valid points, but I think the fact is that this is a great time to give D&D another chance.

The fact that the D&D world is so vast and open is actually an upside; provided you get a writer who is REALLY imaginative and takes the time to create a lot of depth.  I'm talking countries, families, factions - look to great TV like The Borgias and Boardwalk Empire for examples of this.

The last D&D movie had no depth at all.  It was pretty much just set in one dungeon, which is a sadly literal way to interpret the brand.  Yes, you can even take it Sci-Fi if you want - there's support for planetary and interplanar travel in the D&D rules.  I personally don't think that's needed, but if Hollywood wants that, it's there.

As a writer, this adaptation is a DREAM PROJECT!  Precisely because it is so open - you can create all the characters!  My mind swirls with the possibilities.  As far as business goes, I suppose a lesson here is to write specs that you believe in, as apparently the recent spec Chainmail led to this deal.  Also, I should probably just keep writing so I get noticed and then these types of dream deals might actually be a possibility.

The world of Dungeons & Dragons is a rich universe containing a multitude of separate "worlds" such as Dragonlance and the Forgotten Realms, each as genuinely captivating as genre stalwarts Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones.  I hope they give D&D the same serious treatment, and maybe even create a respected franchise from it.

(p.s. yes I have a D&D spec that I have been writing with a fresh take on combining the real world and the D&D world... but I really shouldn't say too much more about it.)

What do you think of the D&D reboot news?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Writer's Workshop - Hal Ackerman of UCLA

I'm excited to announce the first episode of my new series The Writer's Workshop is now online:

(CLICK HERE for the YouTube link if the embedded viewer below doesn't show up.)

My first guest is Hal Ackerman, who is the co-chair of the UCLA Screenwriting Program.  He's a wonderful teacher with loads of experience and wonderful perspective on the art and craft of writing.

He started out as a playwright in New York, then moved to Los Angeles to enter the film world.  Since then he's also written both fiction and nonfiction books.  Check out his Harry Stein detective series as well as his excellent book on screenwriting, "Write Screenplays That Sell."

Comments or questions?  Leave them below.

Monday, May 6, 2013


Wow, what a crazy couple of months.
Portland actors Josh Rice and Angie Collins

From March 15-30 I shot scenes from THE CYNIC screenplay I'd written in the UCLA program.  I went up to Portland, Oregon (my hometown) between Winter and Spring terms and shot using a small crew and 100% local talent.

It was an amazing experience and could not have gone better.  We got great locations, wonderful actors and a great result.

We shot on my twin Canon 60D's using nice vintage Pentax Super Takumar lenses from the 60's.  A great way to go if you don't have thousands of dollars to spend on lenses.  I love how they look.

Right now I'm cutting together the trailer with plans of raising funds to complete the feature.