Monday, May 23, 2011

HARDWIRED Update #7

Today was the day I was supposed to be done with the first draft.

Note the use of the words "supposed to."

I was already grossly behind on my schedule, but I wound up taking last week off from the script (ironically, right after telling a college friend that she should write everyday) to tend to other business, namely, using my writing skills to try and help bolster our online home business. I almost got back to it today, but decided to do my online work first and hit the script after the gym. But today's workout (and not getting as much sleep as I should) took more out of me than I'd bargained for, and I wound up taking a nice sound nap. Afterwards, there was Facebook, taking the dog out, dinner, TOUGH ENOUGH and MONDAY NIGHT RAW, more Facebook and now this blog. I'm hitting the bed when this is done.

I'm currently on page 41. Not horrible, but not where I'm supposed to be. I don't know when I'll get back to the script for certain - could be tomorrow, could be a week from now. My number one priority is doing my part to build our business; gotta make money to live. Plus there's a few other things on my mind, personally and professionally. I'll have to take care of them or set them to the side so that I can focus before going back to Hardwired.

And then it all depends on mood. I didn't expect to want to work on the script today, but I did. That's a good thing. But I am where I am for now.

For now.

Monday, May 9, 2011

HARDWIRED Update #6

I started a new routine today, and it's already yielded positive results.

I've gone back to writing on a regular schedule, which calls for me to write for four hours first thing each morning Monday-Friday. I tried this tactic a while back, but for whatever reason (probably lack of discipline in going to bed on time) I fell out with the schedule and went back to writing whenever - which got me nowhere. I've always considered myself a night writer, and looking at the time stamps on most of my scripts and treatments back up that claim, but I've found myself just as adept at working in the morning. In reality, I doubt it has so much to do with the time of day as it does the fact that I'm fully focusing on the work. And with me taking on other writing duties and returning to the gym after a two-month layoff, making the most of the time I have available has become more crucial than ever.

As for the script, I knocked out five pages today. I would've loved to get more, of course, but what I did get was good stuff. I ended the day on page 13, but the thing that's bothering me a bit is that it marks the end of the first act. I don't think I've ever had a script with such a short setup. Most screenwriting books suggest the first act end anywhere from page 25 to 30 (for a 120-page script). I'm expecting HARDWIRED to come in around 110 pages, so for me to be launching into the second act this early is strange to say the least. But that's where I am (I considered the possibility that I somehow don't know when an act is over, but c'mon, I've been doing this for 11 years - I know when an act is over).

I'm looking forward to tomorrow. If I can establish a steady rhythm of working on this script, it'll make the thing better in the long run. I truly feel that. The best feeling I can have at this point is not being able to wait until I get to work on the script again. "Get to work on the script" - sounds like a privilege, doesn't it?

That's exactly what it feels like.  : )

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Reel Deel Review - THOR

Going into my favorite movie theater to check out Marvel Studios' latest superhero film, THOR, I wasn't sure what to expect (surely it wasn't the rude box office employee who, when approached, dismissively pointed an index finger at another available co-worker - never bothering to quit yakking to his friend or even look at Shaundra and I). I had followed the production for a while, and remember being excited when I got my first glimpse at Chris Hemsworth (who, at 6'3", has the stature for the part) as the god of thunder in full regalia. I dug the colorblind - though controversial - casting of Idris Elba as Heimdall, a character who's super keen senses make him an indispensable member of Thor's home realm of Asgard. And I was intrigued to see what Kenneth Branagh would bring to the film as director. I felt the choice of such a weighty name to call the shots meant Marvel was taking the film seriously, making sure the material didn't slide into the oft-reviled realm of camp. All in all, I was hoping the film proved a worthy companion to its Marvel-made predecessors IRON MAN and THE INCREDIBLE HULK. Basically, I didn't want it to suck.

And the movie didn't let me down.

I'm a self-professed comic book geek (who, strangely, never read comic books), but Thor was a character I didn't know much about, so I didn't go into the film with too many hard and fast "rules" that couldn't be broken. I knew the very basics, so I was more or less able to experience this film as a "noob." I have a feeling, though, that even if I was a die-hard Thor fanboy, I would've absolutely loved this film.

Here's a quick, non-spoilery run-down of the story: Thor, son of Odin, king of Asgard, is a cocky, arrogant jerk who, after getting in over his head and destroying a peace pact with another land, gets stripped of his power and cast out of Asgard. He lands on Earth where, before he can regain his power and return home, he must learn how to "get over himself" and be the type of man who will one day rule Asgard. Meanwhile, machinations occur in Asgard to make sure that will never happen.

What I love most about the Marvel films is the building of a shared continuity. In Marvel's world, their various superheros and villains know of each other, and aspects from previous films carry over into others. Hence, we get references to a pioneering scientist in gamma radiation (the Hulk, for the uninitiated) or one government worker asking another if a strange metallic mechanism is "one of Starks'" - a shout-out to IRON MAN. The same thing isn't happening across the pond with the Warner Brothers-produced DC Comics movies. Christopher Nolan's Batman has no knowledge of Bryan Singer's Superman, who, in turn, knows even less about Martin Campbell's Green Lantern. It's a ludicrous way to approach the films, especially when the news hit that Warners is planning a joint Justice League movie for 2013. Reps for both the Batman and Superman franchises have said that their versions of the characters will not appear in the Justice League films, in effect making the upcoming THE DARK NIGHT RISES and MAN OF STEEL movies part of their respective franchises, yet lame ducks when it comes to the overall scheme of things.

But enough about DC (Doesn't Care). Back to Marvel.

I loved everything about THOR. The sets, the costumes, the plot, the acting - from top to bottom, I found the film to be spectacular. Sure, there were a few effects shots that looked, well, fake - but they didn't detract from the moviegoing experience at all because the story was so enjoyable. I read another review that complained that the earth-bound portions of the movie felt like filler and that the romantic sub-plot between Thor and Natalie Portman's Jane felt forced - but I didn't find it to be those things at all. In fact, it's those scenes that are vitally necessary to Thor completing his character arc from a pompass asshole (who can back it up, however) to a man worthy - and thoughtful - enough to rule a kingdom. In our theater, we even had a girl crying during one of the more touching parts between Thor and Jane. I'm not going to say it warrants all that, but the scene was very well handled.

I also dug the handling of Thor's brother, Loki, god of mischief. Instead of going for the simple "he's just an evil guy" gimmick, Branagh and the five credited writers (!) employ a layered, nuanced approach, giving Loki emotional, understandable, if not almost-justifiable reasons for his actions. I felt for the guy, and Tom Hiddleston did an amazing job with imbuing his character with equal parts compassion and brewing menace. And yes, in one scene we get to see him in his traditional long-horned helmet (geek moment!).

The dialogue is crisp, the character interplay simply pops (props again to director Branagh) and the action beats deliver big time (I loved the various ways Thor used his mighty hammer, Mjolnir, to dispatch his adversaries). There was one moment of coolness that was so hardcore it felt like the crowd was going to erupt in cheers, but seeing as how we were a (surprisingly) respectful crowd, we didn't. Quite. But the electricity was there.  And something else that surprised - and impressed - me was the amount of comedy in the film. Nothing overbearing at all, but it was very organic and believable, especially given the main character is a god from another realm who's stranded in a strange land.

Bottom line - go see the movie. It doesn't matter if you're a comic book geek or not; there's something for everyone in this movie. And I shouldn't have to tell you this if you've seen any of the other Marvel movies, but make sure you stay until the end of the credits.

Just saying. ; )

Reel Deel Rating: 5 Reels (out of 5)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Hardwired Update #5

I haven't written anything since April 28. According to my schedule I should be on page 44, but instead I have 8 3/8. But I'm not deterred. Not even discouraged. The past few days have been taxing in terms of available time, with a shifting schedule that wrecked havoc on my plans. And when I was free, I was either too tired to focus or stay up, much less write. On top of that, we had an unexpected (aren't they all?) technological crisis that totally mucked up the last two days, requiring our immediate attention so that we can move forward on business affairs that will ultimately allow us to return to producing films. Long story short - I just haven't been gittin' 'er done.

But it's cool. My personal schedule is settling down, so I'll be back at it tomorrow (I hope; Nisa's Solo and Revelation have been calling to me, as well as the web series - eagerness  to "do something" can be a VERY distracting thing). And maybe I can make up some ground this weekend. It's all good. Progress is progress.

But I really gotta do better...