Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Cast (all two of them)

I was talking to a good friend of mine about this film, specifically about the writing of the script. I told him that while I was writing this script I found that I was giving the two characters two very different parts of my personality. Essentially, I was forming the characters from these little fragments of my life. It was an interesting discovery. It took on another level when I had to cast people in these roles.

I actually started the casting process as I worked through the script. I had two people in mind for the characters and couldn't help but picture them in the scenes as I wrote them. Fortunately, when I asked them they both gave me an enthusiastic yes.

Given that this is a short film I needed the audience to feel an immediate connection to the characters. In order to accomplish this the actors in these two roles needed to be genuine, charismatic, and very talented. Fortunately, Michelle Burger and Kirk Mason have those traits in spades.

Michelle is playing Alison, who is the main character of the film. Michelle is a very talented and passionate performer. I made reference to her in an earlier post and how dedicated she is to her craft. Michelle has the task of carrying the first few moments of the film on her own. There has never been any doubt in my mind that she will be able to meet that challenge. The thing is I know how hard Michelle works at her craft, and yet whenever I see her perform she makes it seem effortless.

Kirk is playing the character James. Kirk and I used to live together and it took us about five years to finally work on something together. Which is a bit of a drag that it took so long because Kirk is one of the most talented guys I know. The thing that I dig most about working with him is that from the start he asks questions. As soon as he read the script he called me up with questions about his character. At every rehearsal he has new insight into his character. Whatever answers I give him he immediately uses the next time we run the scene.

I'm going to be honest I was pretty jazzed when these two agreed to the film. That excitement took on another level the first time we met for rehearsal. On the first read through these two completely rocked it. They laid down a great foundation that we have been able to build on at every following rehearsal.

I'm even more excited for when an audience gets to see these two in the film.

Monday, October 04, 2010

The Script

Let's get one thing clear right now, shall we? There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn't to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.-Stephen King

There are a great number of stories that I have laid by the wayside in my day. I probably have about four different scripts that stop after about ten pages sitting in my external hardrive. I think that the most frustrating part about writing stories is that like it or not, they have to be organic. As a writer I have to feel something when I am writing and if I don't I stop after about ten pages. I think that Mr. King is suggesting that good story ideas are elusive and you don't really understand why out of all your ideas you put one specific one down on paper.

The idea for this still untitled short film came to me in a daydream. More specifically, it started with a single line of dialogue. I would tell you what it is but the scene is sort of the climax of the film and I'm not going to spoil my own film. The point is this one line of dialogue became the genesis of the entire story. I quickly started to create the characters and why this sentence would be said by one of them. From there I started to put them into a larger story and before I knew it, I had a finished screenplay.

I have no idea why it happened, but I was left with a compulsion to tell this story. I knew that this is the one that I wanted to actually produce and set out in the world.

So, here we go.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


In a recent post I mentioned that telling people that you want to pursue creative endeavors as a career is similar to telling people that you want to be a spaceman. They don't doubt that you are earnest, but they encourage you to get a teaching degree.

Well, about three weeks ago I reckoned that if I wanted to be a spaceman then I better start building a spaceship in my backyard. Yes, I will be running with that metaphor.

I have decided to make a short film. It is something that I wrote and will direct direct. It's a small step toward pursing my desire to be a storyteller, but it needs to start somewhere.

Currently, I am trying to "pass the hat," asking people if they want to throw in five bucks to cover some production cost. I'm not trying to raise much, just $350 for this production. It's sort of an NPR deal. This film will be available for free on the web, but if somebody wants to help make it a reality, then they are welcome to donate.

While I'm working on this film and raising funds I figured I would update people on the production via this blog. So, this is chapter one. Each week I will be writing about a different aspect of this productions from the story to the rehearsals to the cast.

If you are interested in donating a few bucks please follow the link below.

Full-Time Dreamer Productions Paypal Donations

Friday, September 10, 2010

Living Through History

When I was a kid my Grandma Collins was my go to source for all thing history. I have always had a deep interest in history and my Grandma loved talking about the moments that she had witnesses. Chief among them were both the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor and the tragic assassination of President Kennedy. I remember her telling me time and time again about the moment that she heard about President Kennedy being gunned down in Dallas. While some of my Grandmother's memories were influenced by her imagination the details of November 22, 1963 were always the same. My mom was a year old and she was playing in the living room when the news came on the television.

I suppose that I was fascinated that my Grandmother had actually experienced these moments herself and not just in history books. She had actually experienced the moment that the country changed.

On September 11, 2001 I finally learned what it was like to experience a defining moment in history. I was 19 and I was attending class at Muskegon Community College and after the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon classes were canceled for the day. I got into my car and turned on the radio. Every single channel was without music. Instead, it was all news and it was then that I understood the enormity of the moment.

Since then I wondered what I would tell my grandchildren about that day and the years that followed. The day is easier. I could tell them in great detail about how I spent that day talking on the phone with my friend Tom or how I called my dad at work. I could tell them about how I watched the towers falls while standing in my mom's office and it was the first time that I ever heard somebody say the word "fuck" on network television. I could tell them that it was the first time that I ever looked up into the sky above my small town and didn't see one airplane flying through it. I could tell them about how I spent hours watching TV that day just trying to take it all in. Or how my sister, Megan rushed over to a blood drive to donate blood.

The following years aren't going to be as easy. I don't want to get into politics on this blog because as I mentioned before the 140 characters afforded me on Twitter are more than enough for my opinion. Still, for the last nine years of my adult this moment has dominated the cultural landscape from politics around me to the art that I enjoy.

I suppose that I will be honest with my grandchildren. I will tell them that in the years that followed 9/11 I became very ashamed of my country. I will tell them about the details of the wars that left a stain on the conscience of the country.

Why will I tell them all of this? Because it is important. Far too often we like to sort of whitewash history. When we hear stories about World War II they are always stories about valor and sacrifice. Those stories deserve to be told because ordinary men and women did extraordinary things in order to defeat great opposition. However, how often do we hear about the Japanese Internment camps that our very own citizens were forced into because of the fear that they might be spies?

I'm considered to be pretty liberal among my friends. I feel like the perception is that liberals aren't very Patriotic. I strongly disagree. I consider myself to be very patriotic and idealistic. I hold that the Constitution is one of the most important man made documents and that it should be defended by those who would threaten it.

So, I will tell my grandchildren that after those towers fell, after the Pentagon was sent on fire, and after ordinary Americans aboard United 93 gave their lives to protect others, that I would honor those who lost their live by upholding the principles that define this country. That some of the decisions that were made by my leaders after 9/11 challenged those ideals but certain people would not give up on them.

Anyway, going back to that day, I suppose what I will most want to impress upon them is that while some caused great evil it was met with great good. I will tell them about how as the Trade Towers burned and destruction was everywhere brave men and women of the NYFD and NYPD rushed into danger to save the lives of others. I will tell them that they sacrificed their lives so that others may live. I will tell them that while a small amount of hateful men chose to cause death on that day many more chose to preserve life by giving their own.

I will tell them that I never forgot those who gave their lives for others.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010


I used to sort of dread Labor Day because it meant the end of the summer. When I worked at a movie theater Labor Day was the weekend that the really bad movies were released. All the summer blockbuster had come and gone so the studios dropped the films starring C-list actors in that last weekend. Nobody would see these movies and the empty theaters were sort of fitting. Just two months before the theaters were packed with people seeing the new exciting popcorn films. To me, this symbolized the end of summer. The big over the top movies were a big part of my summer and when they were done I knew that the season was over.

After Labor Day I would have to go back to school and my days of lounging around and feeling free would be done. In the summer I could stay up until late in the night and then sleep in to well into the afternoon. Once the school year started I would still stay up late but couldn't sleep in past 8 in the morning.

Now, it has been 10 years since I experienced my last "first day of school." But, I suppose it took me awhile to shake that I was losing something when September hit. This prevented me from realizing that September is a rather exciting month.

A conversation with a friend a couple of weeks ago got me thinking about things in a different light. Since high school September has become a month of new beginnings. When I started college every September brought a whole new experience as I started brand new classes. Even the year that I took off from college, when I started my life in Chicago, there was this feeling of a new chapter beginning in this month.

For whatever reason September seems to be the time of the year that new things begin. Last year, I started working at my new job in September, the day after Labor Day to be exact. I'm not really sure if anything new is about to begin this September, it really is one of those things that takes shape in hindsight. But, if history proves to be reliable then chances are that something new will beginning fairly soon.

Perhaps, it will be nothing more than a perspective change and that wouldn't be such a bad thing at all.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Not Stagnant

Today I received a phone call from a good friend of mine from high school. She told me that she is with child. That is incredible news and I'm very happy for her.

In May I became an uncle when my sister Megan gave birth to a little boy. Again, I'm very happy for them and I like being an uncle.

In August I attended the wedding of two step siblings two weeks apart from one another. I usually don't use the word "step" to describe family members but I didn't want it to seem like either A) my siblings married one another or B) my family is really disorganized and accidentally two weddings so close to one another. I realize this is paranoid but I rather be safe than sorry, especially for the first reason.

Anyway, back to the point.

All this has made me step back and reflect on my own life and ask what I'm doing with it all.

Before I go on I want to refer to my disclaimer from my last post. I'm not lamenting nor am I complaining. I am simply reflecting.

I'm not comparing myself to my sibling and my friends because I'm clearly living a different story than them. I'm not feeling jealousy because I'm very happy for them. Watching people around me go through major changes in there life is a little strange because I feel like my life is more or less the same than it was three years ago.

Of course, that isn't completely true. My life is pretty different than it was three years ago. I know that I have changed and have not stayed stagnant. Especially when I consider the actual definition of the word stagnant.

1. not flowing or running, as water, air, etc.
2. stale or foul from standing, as a pool of water.
3. characterized by lack of development, advancement, or progressive movement: a stagnant economy.
4. inactive, sluggish, or dull.

Still, when all the massive changes are happening to people around me it tends to hold a mirror up to my life. It's not so much a question of "what am I doing?" as much as it is about "where am I going?"

Am I being intentional about the life that I'm living? Am I taking chances? Am I willing to take calculated risk? Am I ready to really pursue a career? Am I willing to take approach a lady and tell her how I feel about her regardless of how she feels about me?

These are the questions that I am asking myself right now and without sounding to serious the answer to them all are yes.

I have finally learned that without taking risks, experiencing failure, and following desires I will become stagnant. It's all very Joseph Campbell but it rings true to my ears.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Twists and Turns

I feel like this blog entry needs to come with a disclaimer. I really find it cathartic to write down what I'm thinking or feeling. Being somebody who has a...well, let's just call it a need to perform (or I'm an emotional exhibitionist) putting it out there for people to read is just an added bonus.

Alright, I was mentioning something about a disclaimer. I'm not writing this entry or any other to neither lament or solicit sympathy. I'm simply narrating my life for the sake of the before mentioned reasons.

It's been a weird summer. It has not been a bad summer. It has not been a good summer. The twists and turns of this summer were not expected, which you know is why they were twists and turns. On Memorial Day when I stood at the open of this summer I thought nearly every aspect of it would play out a little differently.

The short story is that it didn't and while I would have preferred my expectations to have been met, what am I going to do? When things didn't work out for me in the past I played the part of victim. It was not helpful. I would adopt a "why me" attitude and sit around feeling sorry for myself.

I'm not sure when things changed. I wish that I could pinpoint what exactly God used to shake me from this immature way of doing things. I know that it wasn't Conan's farewell address, but it is the reason why I was so taken back by it. When he told his audience that, "nobody in life gets exactly what they want but if you work hard and are kind amazing things will happen," I got a little teary eyed. He's right, crying about it is not going to do anything about it.

I cannot miss an opportunity for a Simpsons reference right now. In one episode Bart loses his dog and starts to cry. Homer's response to his son is awesome,

"Well, crying isn't gonna bring him back, unless your tears smell like dog food. So you can either sit there crying and eating can after can of dog food until your tears smell enough like dog food to make your dog come back -- or you can go out there and find your dog."

While I can't pinpoint when my way of thinking changed it has certainly changed. Don't get me wrong I do not like disappointment and if I had it my way I would avoid it all together. Sometimes I can do that and other times I can't help but meet it head on.

So, no I haven't been the biggest fan of the summer. There were some huge disappointments and I made one fairly large mistake. The fact of the matter is that crying about it is not going to do anything about it. Picking myself up and dusting myself off is me doing something about it.

Life is full of disappointments and negative turns. But, here is the thing. In most stories the main character hits a negative turn at the end of Act II. This happens to build drama before Act III, when the character achieves his resolution. This is when character is revealed and lessons are learned. If I'm living a story, and I tend to view life through such a lenses, then I'm learning some lessons and how I handle disappoint will reveal my character.

I do not want my character to be whiny like one of those Twilight people.

For that reason I can leave this summer feeling pretty alright about things.