Friday, December 31, 2010

Educated Gangstas

I'm at work Wednesday. I'm shelving DS games. A young man walks up beside me. He's talking on his phone.

"No, I'm not retarded. That's the worst metaphor I've ever heard. You said 'like.' If you use the word 'like,' it's a simile, motherf#ck@h!"

I laughed out loud. I apologized for interrupting his phone call, but I couldn't help it. It's still making me giggle.

Episode 1 Cast

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Freudian Slip?

Might have just hit a new low. Discovered a "gift" from the dog on the floor and used a page from one of my recent scripts to pick it up.

It felt like something from a Colin Firth movie or Nick Hornby novel.

Monday, December 13, 2010

How The Church Failed Me

I was recently asked "How did the church fail you?"

It was in response to someone discovering a lifestyle decision I had made. This decision, which I won't get into here (as I don't want to distract from the conversation that needs to be happening), was something that not only went against the things they believed, but went against the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, a denomination that not only was I brought up in, but one I still belong to.

My response to this person was, "it hasn't." I was responding to the notion that the church had somehow failed to communicate what it thought on the subject. I was well aware of what the church's official stance was. I knew the dangers -- as exaggerated as they may be -- that the church preached.

"Then why are you doing this?"

That's when I realized how the church failed me. That's when I realized how the church is continuing to fail its children and its older members. That's when I realized what we need to fix if we are going to stay relevant in the twenty-first century.

Before I continue, let me absolutely clear: This is not an attack on the Seventh-Day Adventist Church or any other organized religion. I still count myself as a Seventh-Day Adventist and I whole-heartedly approve the concept of organized religion. This is the recognition of a weakness. This is a confession. To the offended, this is a request for forgiveness. To those of us in the church, it is a challenge to do better in the future.

In the war between Heaven and Hell, the church is a front line triage unit. The hurt, the crippled, the maimed and the dying hobble in, seeking solace and sanctuary. We do our best to patch them up, to the heal wounds, and prepare them for tomorrow's attack. Historically, that's what we've done. But as time marches on, as the war continues to rage, we're getting tired. Our friends are dying. Our loved ones are giving up. The hope that the war would be over by Christmas is fading. And as all of these things take their toll, our work suffers. We get sloppy. It's not that we don't care, it's that we've lost focus. What ends up happening is a man comes in with a gaping wound in his chest, we pop a couple Ibuprofen in his mouth, call it a day, and then wonder why he doesn't come back when his wound begins to fester.

We seem to believe that since there are two sides to this war that every decision and every moral dilemma we face is a simple one: It's either black or white. Good or bad. Heaven or Hell. Everything is to be praised or condemned. Every action is to be endorsed or shunned. Nothing is neither. When we do this, we create for ourselves battlefields where there need not be any.

Let's talk about sex.

Having sex will get you kicked out of private school. The appearance or the unprovable theory that you had sex will get you fired from a Christian summer camp. As a youth pastor, speaking approvingly of sex will get you reprimanded and possibly removed from your position. As a principal of a boarding school, if you take your teenage child to a movie that has sex in it, your ability to lead will be called into question. These are all experiences I have witnessed firsthand.

The truth about sex, as I have come to learn, is that it is a multifaceted thing that doesn't ruin or save a relationship. It multiplies that which you already have. If a couple that was already on shaky ground introduces sex to the relationship, fighting increases, resentment rises, unhappiness ensues and a break-up is just around the corner. When a couple that is in love and has a caring and balanced relationship, sex is a celebration of love, lust, and life.

The reason for this is sex is a thing of raw intimacy. No matter how carnally or how casually one might treat it, there's a great amount of naked trust in the act and that trust must be upheld in all other aspects of the relationship.

I've often wondered why someone might think their failing relationship could be saved by sex. It's not medicine for what ails you. It's desert. Desert after a great meal is perfect. Desert after eating too much just makes you feel sick.

That's what I would tell someone about sex. But those are grey, weighty concepts that can be hard to explain. It's just easier to say, "you can get pregnant, you can get STD's, and it'll change the relationship and he'll break up with you." This course of action doesn't give us what we need to know about sex. It doesn't arm us with knowledge that there are ways to prevent STD's and pregnancy. It doesn't even prepare us for sex after marriage, the thing the church wants the most. All it does is lamely try to scare and/or guilt kids out of having sex. And when that tactic fails, and a person has sex, and they don't get pregnant or get an STD . . . a great undermining of church authority takes place.

It's not the "sexual deviant" that undermines the church, it's the church itself. As children, we are told that life is black and white. But when we step out into the world, we discover it is actually every shade of grey one could imagine -- ranging from the whitest white to the blackest black. Upon that discovery, the church is made a liar. It lies with good intention, but it lies nonetheless.

This is how the church has failed me. It has concerned itself with inward and trivial matters, while ignoring the bigger issues that surround it. When it does address those bigger issues, it addresses it in demeaning and trivial ways. It's almost as if the church sees its entire congregation as children, not adults.

We are taught abstinence, not responsibility. We are taught avoidance, not temperance.

It's a matter of great frustration for me. We get so caught up in "being in the world but not of the world," that we don't actually prepare anyone for the world. It is something I've vowed to not pass on to the next generation.

I live in this world. I don't count it as my home. I'm a pilgrim passing through. The only trouble with that is there's nothing I can do to make that passing any faster. I can't reach my destination until my Heavenly Father says so. So in the meantime, I'm setting up camp here. This is my temporary home and as such, I'm going to try to make it as warm, as comfortable, as welcoming and as loving as I can. I'm going to fight for Truth and Justice. I'm going to battle the darkness by shedding as much light as I can. I'm going to be responsible and conduct myself in a way that brings glory to my Heavenly Father.

Even if that means I fail my church.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

it begins

On December 17th, 2010, we'll shoot the (possibly first) teaser. We'll release said teaser online shortly thereafter. Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

on turning 30

I was born on December 6th, 1980 at 6:33pm -- which means, if I'm doing my math correctly, on December 6th, 2010, at 6:33pm, I will be 30 years old.

That's supposed to mean something. I'm 30. The trouble is, I don't put a lot of stock in numbers. If I'm counting dollars, or measuring ingredients, numbers are important. If I want to be on time for the 3:15 showing of Hamlet, numbers are important. But if I'm measuring maturity or trying to put some kind of value on a life, numbers are irrelevant. Because time is subjective.

I could make sit here and make a list of all the numbers in my life (5 years married, 3 countries lived in, 3 blah's and/or 3 yadda's) but they wouldn't mean anything. I see those kinds of numbers as interesting bits of trivia, not as mile markers (because the point of mile markers is to give context to the journey or to designate progress made towards a destination).

In these thirty years I've had seasons of arrested development* and times of incredible, unprecedented growth. I've experienced more joy, elation, and downright glee** in a single day than some people have their entire life. I've also experienced dark days of loneliness and aimless nights staring at the ceiling wondering "why?" I've had fulfillment and I've had unfulfillment. I've seen justice and injustice. I've been incredibly spoiled and I've had to make tough decisions. I've been loved and I've been mocked.

Everything that I've experienced these past thirty years don't make me 30. They make me me. The fact that it's taken me thirty years to become me makes me thirty, but I'm not even sure what that means. I just know that I've generally enjoyed these thirty and would like a second (or even third) thirty to see what other things I could get up to.

* Not to be confused with the three seasons of Arrested Development, though I did enjoy those too.

** Not to be confused with musical television show Glee, though I've experienced a lot more of that than some people have.

Friday, December 3, 2010

first, episode six

Doing something I've never done before. I'm writing the last episode of a series before I flesh out 3-5. The Ruffians will be a six episode arc (with the potential and possibility for a second series). I wrote the first two episodes because they were the initial ideas and they needed to be put down on paper so I could focus on the rest of the series.

Then something strange happened. It's never happened like this before. I usually struggle with the ending of whatever I'm writing. But after episode 2, boom, I knew how it had to end. So I'm writing that now. Once I finish it, I'll go back and connect the dots. It's thrilling and freeing in a very new and interesting way. I like it and wouldn't mind it if all future projects worked out this way.

Trouble is, I can't control inspiration. It dictates the road I walk on.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

thoughts & things

Attended Josh and Bri's wedding on Friday. It was gorgeous and so much fun. They were a darling couple and are so in love it's infectious. I sat there, watching them laugh, cry, and promise their lives to each other -- and I was taken back to five years ago when Kelly and I were doing the same thing. It absolutely astonishes me that I've been married five years (well, on December 18th I will be). It's such a grand thing. I wouldn't be half the man or half the artist that I am if it wasn't for her. I have so much farther to go, but I wouldn't be even a fraction of what I am if it wasn't for her. I know that. I only hope I'm giving back to her an equal share.

There is no easy transition to the next paragraph so I'll just shout ALBUQUERQUE and move on.

When I'm not reflecting on the marvelousness of love (oh, that's the transition I was looking for. Dang. If only I could find a way to edit out that last sentence -- and this one), I've recently found myself contemplating human nature.

We are so toxic. I don't even think we can help it. We spew our thoughts and beliefs on people and then quickly add, "in my humble opinion" and think that gives us some kind of free pass. We really don't take into consideration other people's feelings, we just want to make sure everyone knows how we feel. We think things like, "if I just mind my own business and people mind theirs, then we'll all get along fine." But that's not the earth we live on.

Was it John Donne or Jon Bon Jovi who said "no man is an island?"* We cannot live in a bubble. Even hermits effect the world they live in. There is no life free of consequence. In fact, the world reacts to everything you say and do. People remember the things you said, the look on your face, or how you reacted to situations. They'll treat you differently because of those things. And those same things challenge people even on a microscopic level to reexamine their life and their beliefs -- sometimes it reinforces what they believe and sometimes it challenges it.

And it's from these thoughts that The Ruffians will be born. It'll be dark. It'll be funny. It'll be something completely different than anything I've ever done before. But it'll clearly be me.

*It was Jon Bon Jovi in the opening lyrics to his song "Sante Fe" on the Young Guns II soundtrack.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

David Hume

Began reading David Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature tonight and came to the conclusion that I have never had an idea. Not truly and not ever.

It's humbling to the be in the presence of giants, to be sure. But the strangest thing about the humility that comes from recognizing a giant's shadow is how terribly exciting it is.

Friday, November 5, 2010

gout has its advantages

Gout is an awful, horrible, terrible thing that I would only wish on the worst human being. Actually, that's not true. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. I might like to contact the worst human beings and let them know that as terrible as they are, I would never wish gout on them. That would have to mess with their heads a little bit.

But it has its advantages. It makes you stop absolutely everything you're doing and sit down. I'm on allopurinal, which largely stops the gout from flaring up, but every once in a while, the uric acid sneaks by it, builds up and I'll have a random flare up. It's exciting and unpredictable like that.

Exciting, unpredictable, and mind-cleavingly painful.

I wrote a lot today, though. I wonder how many writers have (or had) gout? I got a lot of writing done today. I've been working on this little love story over at Happy Valley and I'm really excited to see where it's going. I have the next three chapters of their story written and I really can't wait to unleash them. Not the next chapter, but the one after that, I wrote and re-wrote four times today. Every draft was better than the last, but it just wasn't getting there. It took time. I would break between the drafts, listen to some music, watch some Community, and then go back to it.

The next chapter comes out tomorrow. Actually, now that I see the time, it comes out today. In about ten hours. It's a short, quiet chapter called A Quiet Drive. But I quite like it. Here's hoping other people like it, too.

Who am I kidding? Here's hoping other people read it.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

a good night writing

Had a productive night writing tonight. Felt good. Real good. The night started with Derek Webb's lovely new album Feedback (which will probably become my writing soundtrack on many nights to come) and finished with the soundtrack to seasons 3 and 4 of Battlestar Galactica. It's so thrilling to write something that matches the music you're writing to.

I've got a book idea that combines several ideas/stories that I've been working on for the past couple of years. It's something strange and exciting and unlike anything I've ever seen or read before -- and that makes it worthwhile in my book.

I'm a bit paranoid, so I don't want to give away too much (online, at any rate), but I am willing to say that the main protagonist in the book is a guardian angel. It's not Touched By An Angel and it's not Highway to Heaven. If anything, it's a season of Doctor Who infused with all that I believe. There. I think I can say that without giving too much away. I don't know why I'm paranoid. I don't even know if anyone's out there reading this (even you faithful five followers). And of those of you who are probably not reading this, how many of you would try to steal this idea of mine?

Probably not one.

And I think I read somewhere that if I commit an idea to a blog, I can use that blog entry to support my claim that I'm the author of my idea, should you try to steal it. I need to go find that and make sure I'm reading that right . . .

I should also try to get some sleep at some point.

Meh. At some point. I think I'm going to go save Albion now. Ta!

Monday, November 1, 2010

when the cup is half full

Writing a Samson story.
Writing a Delilah story.
Writing a teacher's story.
Writing the tale of two young lovers.
Writing a story about the angel Death.

Life is full when the brain is!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Role Reversal

I should be in bed.  It's eeeeearly Sunday morning but after my little diatribe Friday, I thought I should follow it up with this:

The day after I wrote that (a Saturday, if I recall), I was suddenly flooded with dialogue.  I had no idea where it came from.  I was finishing lunch and suddenly a scenario started playing out in my head.  Quickly polishing off my slice of apple pie, I whipped out my iTouch and began tapping away.  The conversation just flowed from my fingertips.  I never knew these characters before today, but suddenly I knew their whole story.  This is what became of that.  It feels like the first chapter in these two characters' stories.  I'm not entirely sure where it's going, but I like it.

I'll be posting their subsequent stories over at Happy Valley, if you'd like to see them.  Take your time getting over there, though.  I don't know when the next one's going up (have to write it first).

Friday, October 15, 2010

Writer's Blank

Perhaps the scariest place for me to be is the time and/or place where my mind is completely blank. My mind is usually so cluttered with thoughts and ideas (all pertaining to various story ideas I could pursue) that I sometimes have difficulty focusing on the real world.

I know I must come off as disconnected or aloof, but my brain is so damn active that certain sensory perceptors have to shut off to compensate -- that's the conclusion I've come to anyway. Usually I don't mind. It brings a certain level of excitement and challenge to my life. More than that, though, really, it brings definition. I am a writer. That definition, that label, makes my existence make sense.

Then there are weeks like this one -- weeks where literally nothing is on my mind. It's a blank slate. At any one time, I am thinking about absolutely nothing. I soak up my surroundings. I record the goings-on around me and . . . nothing. On a normal week I might process it, store little bits here and there for future use. But this week, everything that happens, just happens. There's no rhyme or reason or anything. I can't work on anything because nothing interests me. On days like this, I can't even enjoy other entertainment. It just slides off me because it has nothing to cling onto.

I have days like this sometimes. Days where I can't claim to be a writer. And when I can't claim to be a writer, a deep, dark terrifying inkblot surges through my soul. If I'm not a writer, what am I?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

had an idea 5 years ago . . .

It has been announced that a Scarlet Pimpernel movie is in the works. In typical fanboy fashion, I'm as excited as I am disappointed. I have loved the Scarlet Pimpernel since the summer of 1999, when my senior class trip took me to New York City -- there I got to see Frank Wildhorn and Nan Knighton's fantastic Scarlet Pimpernel musical. I came home from New York singing to the show tunes and having an insatiable desire to consume as much Scarlet Pimpernel as I could.

I found Baroness Orczy's book. I read it and was surprised to discover it was written as a mystery. The book's original conceit was, "who is The Scarlet Pimpernel?" I had always known who he was. The Pimpernel was as attached to Percy as Superman is to Clark Kent. But it's a fantastic book and I'd recommend it to anyone. It's still one of my favorites.

I sought out the movies. There's an old Jane Seymour/Ian McKellan version, but I wasn't overly impressed with it. The musical and the book are filled with such verve and sweeping romance, that this adaptation just didn't do it justice. It felt like a stodgy period piece. I wanted something with more swash, buckle, and humor -- something more akin to Pirates of the Caribbean. I also found a couple episodes of a BBC produced Scarlet Pimpernel miniseries, but was never able to watch the full series. I wasn't overly impressed with what I saw. Their take on the story was much grittier than I thought it should be.

So for Screenwriting 102 I wrote my adaptation. It's more of an re-imagining than a straight adaptation. My version was less of a mystery and more of a superhero origin story because, after all, the Scarlet Pimpernel was the original dual-identity story. In my version, we got to see the thought process of Percy. We got to see why he chose this dual-life.

It has been my dream to, someday, make that movie. And since it seems someone is beating me to it, I thought I'd post my treatment for the script. As I re-read it, I notice I made some changes to the script after this stage, but this (overall) represents my vision for (what I hoped would be) the first in a franchise of adventures.

The Scarlet Pimpernel



Blakeney Manor, England, September 1792. Young, handsome, blond-haired, blue-eyed PERCIVAL BLAKENEY (“Percy” to his friends) crosses swords with SIR ANTHONY DEWHURST. The sounds of their laughter and their swords clanging echo through the large, grandiose manor as they make their way up and down halls, up and over sofas, across tables and always interrupting servants’ work. Percy has no regard or respect for anything and many, many, fine things are destroyed in the friends’ duel. The only thing quicker than Percy and Anthony’s swords is their wit as they trade friendly barbs.

The light-hearted duel takes them through all the halls of the manor, out the back door, and into an orchard in the back yard. There, sitting in the shade of a particularly large and blossoming tree sit MARGUERITE, Percy’s fiery, beautiful French wife, and LLEWELLYN, Anthony’s young English fiancée. The women are talking and laughing about their men. Percy, ever aware of the situation, sees a glimmer of excitement in Llewellyn’s eye and lets Anthony win. Marguerite knows this but lets Llewellyn believe her man bested Percy. Truth be told, this very selfless and humbling act endeared Percy to Marguerite all the more.

Later that night, the lord of the manor, LORD BLAKENEY, surveys the damage his young and reckless son caused that afternoon. He’s ashamed of his son, the fact that he’s as old as he is and hasn’t any respect for him or his possessions. Lord Blakeney finds Percy and tells his son, in so many words, he’s living a vain and useless life. This isn’t a new conversation for Percy and his father to be having, but there’s a gravity to Lord Blakeney’s words that Percy has never heard before. Lord Blakeney says “good night” after telling Percy that he is shaming himself, his name, and his God.

Percy retreats to his quarters where he finds his young wife, Marguerite, waiting for him. She holds him and assuages the wounds his father’s tongue-lashing caused. They kiss and are about to make love when a servant rushes into the room, claiming that Percy’s father has collapsed. Percy pushes past the servant and runs down the corridor to his father’s room, where he arrives just in time to see his father gasp his last breath.

It’s raining at the funeral. The many people who looked up to Lord Blakeney, whether they be friends, family, or complete strangers, stand in the rain to pay respect to the greatest man they ever knew or heard of. Percy stands outside the crowd, watching from the same distance he felt his father always kept him at. As he turns to leave, he notices a small red flower sprouting up at the tip of his boot. He picks it and then notices an artistic variation of the same kind of flower etched on every tombstone in his family’s cemetery. The scarlet flower is a pimpernel. He drops it and walks away.

That night, in Paris, in an office above the Comédie Française, ARMAND ST JUST, a pudgy Frenchman, is running in circles. Soldiers are on their way to shut down the theatre and arrest him for being a conspirator against the revolution. He’s tearing up his own office, in search of something. Finally, just as the soldiers burst in the front door of the theatre, he finds a large black ledger and escapes out the back door. CHAUVELIN, a meticulous man and the chief inspector, curses under his breath and orders the men to find what they can.

Back in Blakeney manor, Percy’s countenance has completely clouded over. He’s moody, angry and sullen. His father’s words are still echoing through his mind. His wife, desperate to please her man, decides to throw him a party. Percy can’t believe his wife but goes along with it. But the party, if it can be called that, is abysmal. Only the Blakeneys’ closest friends are invited: Anthony and Llewellyn (who we met in the first scene), ANDREW and JOANNA, and FARLEIGH and JOANNA. The men sit in Percy’s study in a palpable, awkward silence.

The silence is shattered by the arrival of Armand, the Frenchman we met fleeing the authorities in Paris. He’s Marguerite’s brother and Percy’s brother-in-law. Percy and him are closer than brothers and it shows. He comes in, begging for help, pleading that Percy help him. He tells them that he’s a wanted man, that he’s wanted because he’s counter-revolutionist. He details for them what is actually going on in France, what the Reign of Terror actually is, and tells them why he must fight it. Everyone but Percy is shocked into silence. He leaps at this chance. They’ve always prided themselves on their hunting skills, but what game is left for them to hunt? This is something that could excite him, something to get the blood pumping back through his veins. They’ll make a game of it, whoever can save the most aristocrats from the guillotine and smuggle them out of Paris, wins. Some of the men are appalled at first but it doesn’t take Percy much work to convince everyone of it.

Percy’s cover-up story to Marguerite is that he is going away for a week, to visit his old friends the St Cyrs, who live in northern France. He has Armand come to his room later and draw him a map of Paris, detailing where the prisons are and the easiest way to get to and from them. He has so much to tell Percy, he gets excited and starts speaking French and before he can explain himself, Marguerite enters and ushers him out. She takes Percy to bed and apologizes for the way she behaved, forcing him into a party he didn’t want. It’s just that they haven’t known each other long enough, quite simply, and this is the first tragedy they’ve gone through together. They’re still learning about each other. Percy would forgive her if he felt she needed to be forgiven.

Crossing the Channel on The Day Dream, Percy’s schooner, Percy is talking to Farleigh, his oldest friend. He doesn’t like the guilt he’s feeling over having lied to Marguerite about why he’s going to France. He doesn’t ever want to do that.

Chauvelin and his men sift through the remains of Armand’s office, searching for anything that might lead to the capture of Armand and his band of counter-revolutionists. They find nothing. They’re about to leave when Chauvelin spies an old, torn poster from a play the theatre put on years ago. At the forefront of the poster is Marguerite, who had the starring role. Chauvelin looks at the poster and wonders aloud whatever happened to Marguerite, and someone, one of his subordinates, says she married “some Englishman.”

A little German woman rambles through the streets of Paris in rickety wooden cart. She has stringy, greasy grey hair, a lumpy nose and a wart high on her right cheek from which two black hairs sprout out of. As she passes a prison, French soldiers commandeer her wagon. They don’t kick her out, so she sits in the passenger seat and watches as the Frenchmen dump her cargo out onto the street and then fill her wagon with aristocrats from the prison. The French soldiers then drive the cart to the city centre, to the Plaza of Execution. The aristocratic family (an old man, and old woman, and their young children) are led to the guillotine and beheaded, much to the delight of the crowd. The German woman is sickened. She pushes her way to the crowd, falls into the gutter, and vomits. After which, she wipes her mouth, which bumps her nose loose, which falls into the gutter – revealing that the German woman is, in fact, Percy. He spots a paddy wagon filled with more condemned people and steals it while no-one’s looking. He takes it out into the countryside and frees the people. He leaves a note, signed with a sketch of a pimpernel, saying that these few are but the first.

The Committee of Surveillance, overseen by FOUCQUIER-TINVILLE, BIBOT, DANTON, TALLIEN, and COLLOT D’HERBOIS, was set up to be the new (if not temporary) government to replace the royal regime. They give Chauvelin the charge of going to England and rooting out this man who freed the condemned. Chauvelin asks how they know it was an Englishman who did this. They tell him that at a particular prison, this Englishman simply walked in and demanded the prisoners, and he was given them. Chauvelin understands, and swears that as he won’t have any authority to arrest “the Pimpernel” in England, he will kill him.

Back in England, Marguerite sneaks into Armand’s room, finds his ledger, flips through it, and copies an address out of it. Armand comes in just as she’s finished and wonders what she was doing. He suspects the worst. The St Cyrs’ address is at the top of the open page.

Percy and his men meet at The Fisherman’s Rest to find out who won their wager. Tony is absolutely ecstatic about how he just walked into a prison and requested the prisoners and the soldiers handed them over. Percy wins, but takes no pride in his victory. Instead, he declares it was for this he was born and that his life now has a purpose. He will use what he has to save as many innocents as he can. Maybe then he can escape the memory of his disapproving father and prove to himself that he is someone he can be proud of.

Armand, praying that he’s wrong but ultimately suspecting his sister to be a spy, goes to Marguerite and tries to ascertain her political allegiance but leaves the meeting unsatisfied.

Chauvelin goes down to the port on the coast of France and discovers there’s only one ship heading to England in the time frame he needs: The Day Dream. He finds the owner of the ship, Percy, and requests passage. Percy, thinking Chauvelin looks familiar but not knowing who he is or what his purpose in England is, agrees. On the trip over to England, Percy and Chauvelin talk and Percy finds out that Chauvelin is looking for “this pimpernel fellow.” When Chauvelin asks what Percy and his friends were doing in France, Tony panics and blurts out “Frou-frou!”

Marguerite meets the men at the dock. Armand confides in Percy his doubts and fears about Marguerite. Percy blows off Armand and his fears just in time to hear Marguerite invite Chauvelin to stay with them. Armand looks at Percy, silently saying, “See?”

The head of the French revolution, the Committee of Surveillance, have a letter that discloses the whereabouts of the St Cyrs, a family that is not only aristocratic, but is involved with counter-revolutionary groups. They have this letter thanks to a spy in England.

Percy is bubbling over with excitement like a kid at Christmas. He tells Armand he’s going to do this. He’s going to commit his every resource to this cause for as long as he can, for as long as he has breath in his lungs.

Over breakfast the following morning, Percy and Marguerite get into an argument over the French Revolution. Marguerite supports it, though she admits that it has gotten a little out of hand. Percy, having seen the horrors (but not being able to reveal that), has to rely on his having grown up a noble as to why he’s completely against it. Needless to say, he leaves breakfast fearing that Armand might be right. Marguerite might be a spy for the fledgling, forming French government.

Anthony and Llewellyn hold a pre-marital party. Percy convinces Chauvelin to come, who is openly reluctant, as the Prince of Wales will be there, and he knows his political views will not be appreciated – though he secretly wants and needs to go, so that he might catch a lead on the Pimpernel.

Before the party begins, Percy catches word that the St Cyrs were found, arrested, and executed. All evidence suggests that Marguerite is working as a spy for the new French government, which breaks Percy’s heart. He sends word forward to his friends that there is a spy amongst them and they must continue playing the game, they can admit nothing. They must play the role of fashion-conscious fops. He confronts Marguerite and wants to believe her when she swears she had no idea that the black book of Armand’s was a list of addresses for families in hiding, but he can’t.

At the party, Percy and his men form the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel, swearing to use their goods and abilities to help the innocent people of France. They also commit to doing whatever it takes to create dual identities for themselves, to throw Chauvelin and any spies far off their trail.

Percy kicks the party off loudly, making himself the center of attention. He quickly introduces Chauvelin to the PRINCE OF WALES, putting “Chauvy” on the spot and not leaving until he makes it as awkward for Chauvelin as possible. Percy is the life of the party, cracking jokes and laughing constantly. But it’s all an act. An act that is very hard for Percy to play. When no-one is looking, he’s just about in tears.

The Scarlet Pimpernel is a wave that crashes across all of Europe. Everyone’s talking about him. Everyone’s asking questions, who is he? What is he? Why is he? Rescue after rescue, the talk of him grows. The rescues are becoming more and more daring. The more daring the rescues become, the more foppish Percy and his men become – which truly begins to confuse Marguerite. This is not the man she married. She confronts him, but he blows her off.

Percy and his men unite to rescue the Marceaus, large family that was recently condemned by the Committee of Surveillance. It’s a rescue that ends with Percy leading the family through the sewers of Paris by torchlight and doubting that he can continue doing this.

Fearing that the English royalty, in wanting to sever any ties with the French Revolution, will close down the English ports and cease all travel to France, Percy and his men recruit the Prince of Wales – not to be a part of the League, but to be part of their foppish circle. They need him encouraging their trips to France for “frou-frou.”

At a party Percy throws at his estate, he is reveling and having an absolutely wonderful time. But Marguerite is not amused. She pulls Percy aside and confronts him. He blows up at her, saying she has to accept the fact that they hardly knew each other when they married. The fact of the matter is, he’s feeling betrayed by her and doesn’t trust her, he just can’t tell her that. And when she looks at him, she sees a man who is 180 degrees away from the man she married. They part ways, both on the brink of tears. The prince, at dinner, asks “who is this blasted Pimpernel?” Percy, with a laugh and a flourish recites his little Pimpernel poem (“they seek him here, they seek him there, those Frenchies seek him everywhere. Is he in Heaven? Or is he in Hell? That demned elusive Pimpernel.”).

Llewellyn finds Marguerite crying in a pantry and comforts her. But Marguerite cannot stand the life that she has found herself in. So, in so many words, if Percy is going to “play this game,” she will too. She finds Chauvelin, who details to Marguerite why he’s in England. Marguerite decides to help Chauvelin discover who the Pimpernel is, as it will fill the need of purpose and excitement that is now missing in her life.

Percy notes to Marguerite that he noticed her and Chauvelin spending time together during the party. Marguerite hopes Percy’s jealous, but he’s not. At least, that’s how he’s acting.

Chauvelin reveals to his superiors that he knows who the Pimpernel is, but has to wait until the Pimpernel is back on French soil before he can arrest him. That, and he wants the Pimpernel to be absolutely devastated when he’s led to the guillotine, to believe that he was betrayed by his beloved.

Marguerite begins asking questions, trying to piece together who the Pimpernel is, but to little avail. Meanwhile, her marriage is just about in shambles. Percy and her are no longer sharing a bed.

Chauvelin makes it known to Percy and Armand that they’ve arrested every leader of every counter-revolutionist group in Paris. He revels in it.

Percy dashes out of the manor, not telling anyone where he’s going. Armand notices his absence and wonders what’s going on. He asks around, no-one knows. He finds Chauvelin drunk in the kitchen, who’s celebrating “the capture of the Scarlet Pimpernel.” He laughs at how Percy tried to fool everyone with his fop act, but he saw through it. Armand races out of the kitchen, in a blind panic . . . which is exactly what Chauvelin predicted.

Marguerite bumps into Percy in the hall, who has returned from Anthony’s, having calmed “Tony’s pre-wedding cold feet.”

Chauvelin announces that he’s leaving for France, as he has a date with the Scarlet Pimpernel. He expresses disappointment that he discovered who the Pimpernel was before Marguerite, being as obvious as it was. Marguerite is confounded. Chauvelin laughs, telling her it was her brother. “Of course it’s Armand!” he says. “It makes perfect sense!” This is what Chauvelin actually believes. He baited Armand with the lie that he believed Percy was the Pimpernel and that he was racing off to a trap.

Marguerite begs Percy for help in finding who the Pimpernel is. Percy laughs at her, asking why she would think he would know who he is. Marguerite insists it’s a matter of life or death. Percy reluctantly agrees to help. He’ll poke around at the engagement party tonight.

At the party, the Pimpernel meets Marguerite on the bridge in the back. He stays behind her the entire time, speaking with a thick Irish accent and pressing a knife to her throat. She tells him everything he wants to know. He asks about Armand, Chauvelin, and why he should trust her. He’s rough with her until she reveals the misunderstanding with the letter to the St Cyrs. Marguerite startles Percy as he’s leaving and he accidentally drops his knife and leaves it as he flees into the night. Percy finds his men in the party and tells them they must leave at dawn for France. Marguerite picks up the knife the Pimpernel dropped. It’s a letter opener and it has a large scarlet pimpernel on the hilt. Her jaw drops. She races into the party, screaming for Percy. But he’s gone.

She gets back to Blakeney Manor, but he’s not there either. She goes into his study and finds everything. Maps, notes, routes, and the very large picture of Percy’s father looking down on her, with the family crest at each corner – the scarlet pimpernel.

Percy and his men break into the Bastille to rescue Armand, but his cell is empty. It’s a trap that Percy, Farleigh, and Andrew find themselves caught in. Farleigh is shot dead, despite Percy trying to keep him from fighting.

In Versailles, Percy, Anthony, and Armand are tied to chairs. They sit before what remains of the Committee of Surveillance. Chauvelin is there. They get in a fight over who’s the Pimpernel, and Chauvelin says it doesn’t really matter, they have him, whoever he is. Just pick one. Then Marguerite appears, having taken a secret passage into the room and announces that she is the Scarlet Pimpernel. But then she shoots Tinville, and things get very, very serious.

Percy, Marguerite, Anthony, and Armand try to escape Versailles. They are separated when Chauvelin and Percy begin dueling. Marguerite, Anthony, and Armand run into a group of guards and a brawl breaks out. They fight their way out of Versailles but Percy isn’t so lucky. He’s stabbed in the back by Marat and finds himself captured all over again.

Percy finds himself in a stinking jail. He has resigned himself to the death that faces him the next day. Inasmuch he doesn’t want to die, he would much rather die for something than of something. Chauvelin comes in and the two share a moment of mutual respect and disdain.

The next morning, Percy is led to the guillotine. A large crowd has gathered to see the execution of this criminal. He is laid on the bed of the guillotine’s bed, only he’s laid on his back, that he might see the blade coming. Time seems to stop. The blade is released and begins to fall, but the blade never completes its fall. An explosion rocks the city centre and the guillotine blade is shattered by a cannonball that lodges itself into a townhouse, much to the embarrassment of the Prince of Wales, who is still holding the punk and standing over the cannon. Percy sits up as splinters from the guillotine rain down around him. The crowd disperses in a blind panic. Marguerite pushes her way through the crowd and climbs the scaffolding. She hugs Percy tight, they laugh, kiss passionately, and leap into the carriage Anthony’s driving and narrowly escape the French soldiers. The whole lot of them ride off into the horizon, catching The Day Dream back to England and no doubt for further adventures.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Shame On Me (or is it Shame On You?)

Dear Hollywood,

I am done with your "true story behind the legend" movies. The moment I see those words on your poster or hear those words in your trailer is the last moment I'll give any thought or consideration to whatever movie you're advertising.

At first it seemed like an interesting idea: We all know the legend of ____. But what's the true story behind that legend? Let's tell that story! I'll admit it, even typing those words, I'm filled with a little bit of excitement and curiosity. After all, it worked for Batman Begins, didn't it? We had never actually seen the story of how Bruce Wayne became Batman. Up until BB, we had never actually seen a Bruce Wayne movie. What a novel idea (and what a great movie)!

"What other stories/legends can we give this treatment to?" I'm sure you asked yourself. "King Arthur," someone must have said. It's amazing how quickly you can go from "brilliant" to "just awful" on the idea scale.

King Arthur without Excalibur? Arthur without Merlin? No Green Knight, no Holy Grail, no Camelot? Strip all the magic away and all you have is a king who doesn't like sharp furniture. It just doesn't work. King Arthur had a wonderful cast, but there was just nothing special about it. In my perfect world, that cast would reunite and tell the Arthur story properly.

This idea, of re-imagining a story, actually worked with Troy. It might not be the best movie, it might falter for other reasons, but that story actually can be told without the gods. You want to know a story that can't be told without the gods? Hercules. But perhaps the most epic failure, and the reason for this open letter, is Ridley Scott's perplexing Robin Hood.

If there's a character from folklore that deserves to have his own franchise, it's Robin Hood. If there's a hero people could rally behind right now, it's Robin Hood. If there's a hero that is nearly impossible to get wrong, it's Robin Hood.

Robin Hood has been told a thousand different ways. My personal favorite remains Disney's 1973 animated Robin Hood. But there are general plot points that remain the same:
  1. King Richard is off fighting the Crusades.
  2. Prince John is trying to usurp the throne.
  3. He is raising the taxes on everybody and really making life miserable.
  4. The Sheriff of Nottingham is John's right-hand man.
  5. Robin Hood steals from the rich and gives to the poor. And he's a damn fine archer.
  6. Maid Marion loves Robin. Robin loves Marion. But she is royalty. It is a forbidden love.
There are other details (Sherwood Forest, the Merry Men), but they are more negotiable. How simple and beautiful is that? Can you imagine how that story would play in today's economy? People would go absolutely nuts for it! A vigilante who steals the taxes back from the government and returns to those who need it?

It doesn't need reinterpreting. It doesn't need re-imagining. It's a rollicking adventure. It doesn't have things that are so outrageous that they couldn't happen in real life (unlike the Arthur legend). Bill him as the original caped crusader and you'll make back your budget opening weekend. Which brings us to the movie Ridley Scott brought us.

I love Ridley Scott. I love Russell Crowe. I love Cate Blanchett. I was very excited when I heard that awesome triumvirate was bringing us a Robin Hood movie. I mean no offense to any of them, because it's obvious they're trying really hard to make a good movie. There's so much good stuff on screen, in fact, that the only people I can blame are the people who were behind the scenes. Someone, or a group of someones, decided they didn't want to make a Robin Hood movie. Because this was not Robin Hood.

Robin Hood stands up for the oppressed. He fights evil. This Robin desserts the army as soon as his king's dead and then wanders through the next two hours of movie with no motivation to do anything ever again. Why does he stay with the Loxlies? Why does he pretend to be the man's son? Does no-one know what the son actually looks like? The only time he does something for the good of England is when he gives his Magna Carta speech. It's all very Libertarian of him, but what is Robin Hood doing giving rousing political speeches?

Yes, the supporting characters are here. There's Tuck, Alan, Will Scarlet, Little John, the Sheriff, and Prince John. But they could be anybody. They have so little to do in the movie that it's actually kind of awkward and weird knowing that these people are supposed to be important.

Who's idea was it to end the movie with a recreation of Saving Private Ryan? Who didn't do their research to know those kinds of boats didn't exist for another 800 years? Who puts Robin Hood in armor, gives him an axe, and sends him into battle? Robin should be holding a bow and maybe a sword. The battle should be small and personal, not big and sprawling.

There are so many built-in parallels and themes that are relevant today that you don't need to add more. Yet you do. You add a very heavy-handed war with France that the country of England is not behind, but the king wants it, so what can we do?

It was just so disappointing. I really wish this had been Kingdom of Heaven 2. I wish this had been about Balian returning home from the Crusades and finding his home ravaged with infighting and injustice. And instead of retiring to his castle, like he could, he gets involved and fights for the oppressed. It could have been nearly the same script. And it would have given you the freedom to do whatever you want with the character, instead of feeling like you had to pay homage to the legend every other scene. Because with this Robin Hood, nothing works.

The historical accuracy holds the legend back and the legend holds the history lesson back. They cripple each other to such a degree that all we're left with is a very neutered movie that isn't even entertaining unto itself, let alone as a prequel to one of the greatest folklore tales of all time.

It isn't fun. It isn't clever. It really . . . isn't anything.

It would be like telling the story of Bruce Wayne before his parents died. It would just be about him at prep school, hanging out with his friends. He's eight years old, a little moody, but a pretty decent kid. Stuff happens, but nothing too terrible. I mean, his parents don't die or anything.

Sure, you could tell that story, but why should you? Who would be interested in that?

Or maybe this Robin Hood is more like making the movie Dead Poets Society and calling it Bruce Wayne. The story has nothing to do with Batman but you're using the Bruce Wayne name because it's familiar enough to attract people to the theater.

So, I end this letter a little less angry but a little more confused. Should I be angry with myself, for falling for another marketing ploy, or should I be angry with you, for giving me something different than what you sold me?


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Dream Job

I just realized what my dream job is: Working at the BBC. Doing anything, really. I'd love to write for a show, preferably one involving time travelling in-name-only medical staff. But I'll take anything.

Monday, September 27, 2010


Tone is killing me.

I can't find the bloody tone of Season 2. I pendulum between light, snappy, and snarky and dark, morose, and reflective. I feel like the truest tone for the events depicted would be darker and more reflective. But the more fun, the more entertaining would be lighter and snappier.

Is there a tone somewhere in the middle of these that would allow for a little fun in these dark times?

If there is, I can't find it. I'm re-writing episodes on a nearly daily basis and the tone of the episode changes drastically depending on how I feel that day. I need to settle on something and just go with it.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Freddie, Please

So I had this idea today.

I was driving home from work and listening to Derek Webb's Stockholm Syndrome album and was struck with a very clear vision of what would make a fantastic music video. Sadly, I'm in no place to be making music videos for other people's music, but I thought I'd post the lyrics to the song, a link to the song, and then describe for you what I would do, should I ever be trusted with the responsibility of bringing the song to life in the form of music video.

The song is "Freddie, Please." An acoustic rendition of it, along with a full description of what inspired the song, can be found on YouTube. The short version is that Derek wrote a song that imagines what Jesus might say to Pastor Fred Phelps, should the two ever come face-to-face.

So here's my take on the song. It's a very slow song, almost dream-like. Derek describes it as a 50's doo-wop ballad.

It would begin with a montage of news coverage of the Westboro Baptist Church. We see them picketing soldiers' funerals, we see them picketing gay rights rallies, we see them picketing Comic Con -- it's a strange mixed bag of venom, hate, and bile. Through this montage, we have an actor who would be playing Fred Phelps. He begins spewing hatred from the pulpit, trying to rally people to his side. When his congregation takes up his cause, he stands back and watches with a pleased smile.

This is where the song would begin. As the music fades in and the chaos fades out, Fred would find himself suddenly alone, in a dream-like place filled with smoke and fog. He's confused, disorientated. Suddenly a voice sings out:

Freddie, please . . . how could you do this to me?
How could you tell me you love me when you hate me?
Freddie, please!

The voice has no body. Freddie spins around, searching for he who is singing at him. But no-one can be seen. He closes his eyes, hoping and praying that this dream ends. With his eyes closed, he doesn't see the fog lift. But then he hears a voice. It's his own. He opens his eyes and finds himself at a soldier's funeral.

You know I love you honey,
But I'll bleed you dry with money . . .

Freddie sees the flag-draped coffin pass by him. He sees the soldier's comrades trying not to cry. He sees the soldier's family, a devastated mess of tears. Then, across the street . . .

I'll talk where I know you can hear . . .

Freddie sees himself, with a bullhorn, blasting the congregation as it passes by. His angry army surrounds him, with every vile sign you can imagine being brandished over their heads.

'Cause Freddie can't you see?
Brother, you're the one who's queer!

Freddie hears the words and he's repulsed. He's about to turn away when the entire congregation stops what it's doing. Everyone stares at him in hurt, angry, stony silence. The words of the song have become their own personal anthem.

Freddie, please . . . how could you do this to me?
How could you tell me you love me when you hate me?
Freddie, please!

It's completely black. Early morning sunlight streams through a rectangular doorway as a massive round stone is rolled away. Through the doorway we see the silhouette of a man walking out into the light. It's Jesus. He basks in the new morning's sun for a moment, but only for a moment, as he's greeted by picketers. They yell and scream at him. They throw rocks at him, and Jesus does his best to defend himself with his nail-scarred hands.

The stone's been rolled away . . .
And you're picketing my grave for loving the things you hate . . .
But why do you see the living among the dead?

Freddie, in a very Scrooge-like manner, stumbles back into the fog and smoke. He denies this is true. He tries to deny everything, but then he stumbles into someone. He turns to see who he's run into. It's Jesus. And it's Jesus who has been singing to Freddie all along. Freddie reaches for Jesus, but he's just out of reach.

Freddie, please . . . how could you do this to me?
How could you tell me you love me when you hate me?
Freddie, please!

A stage appears and Jesus, in white and blue, takes the lead microphone. He finishes the song in a very doo-wop sort of fashion, backed by every type of person Freddie has ever protested, hurt, or maligned. It's a strange sight, to be sure. But it somehow fits the dream-like quality of everything else he's seen and the fact that these words are coming from Jesus' lips is the most disturbing part of it all.

Freddie, please . . .
How could you do this to me?

Behind Freddie is the entire world and Freddie finds himself stripped to his essence. Everyone, including himself, sees him for the sham he is. Everyone sees how he's misrepresented everything he says he stands for. Everyone sees how he's not been speaking the words of God, but the hate-filled words of the devil. In fact, Freddie sees the devil to his right, applauding him magnificently.

How can you tell them you love me when you hate me?
Freddie, please!
When you hate me, Freddie, please!

The fog begins to swirl and the world goes away. The devil is covered up. The stage and Jesus disappear. Freddie, shaken to his core, is left alone. The fog lifts and Freddie is in his church, in the middle of the aisle, completely alone.

When you hate me, Freddie, please!

The songs ends and we're left in an eerie silence as we're also left to hope that this experience will have some sort of lasting effect on the angry old man.

Friday, September 24, 2010

What We Should Be Known For

So many thoughts are running around my head after reading this article that I can't form a cohesive thought.

I want to yell and scream and pound my fist onto a solid oak table so that everyone around me can hear and understand how incredibly incensed I am.

I want to fight the powers that be. I want to help and hold and comfort the victims.

I want people that this villain does not speak for me, nor does he speak for any body of true believers and seekers. He does not represent us and he is not acting on behalf of God. He is nothing more than a CEO trying to save his company. And it makes me sick.

It makes me weep.

I can try to distance myself by saying, "but I'm a protestant, I'm not with that guy!" But it doesn't solve the problem. It doesn't change the fact that he represents Christianity to the world. It does make me wonder how there are still Catholics in the world . . . but I digress . . .

I'm going to walk away now and quietly contemplate how I can be a better Christian representative than this guy.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

New Characters Galore

As I'm sitting here writing (and re-writing) season 2, I realized it would be a lot of fun to announce what characters we'll be casting in the new season. And what better time and place to announce said characters than our Season 1 Wrap Party this Saturday night?

So I compiled a quick list of all the major characters that we'll be needing to cast and . . . oy . . . I count six. Six major players. As a comparison, I'd say last season had four major players: Derek, Annabelle, Robin, and Frank (five, really, as we should count General Rhodes). And these six aren't replacing those five. They're being added to them.

I'm not at all joking when I say Season 2 is going to be at least twice as big as Season 1. I just hope I'm not biting off more than I can chew.

Chew, chew, swallow. Breathe.

Monday, September 6, 2010


Finished a short story last night. It was cluttering up the brain and not allowing for any other work to be completed on Remnants. It was a twenty page prose piece, the first three chapters of which I wrote on my iPod Touch. But when the ideas really starting flowing, I had to put the Touch down and turn to my computer, so I could tell the story much more quicklier.

It's tentatively titled Arlyn's Guardian Angel and now that it's done I'm not sure what to do with it. It's six chapters long and it seems to serve as an introduction to a much larger world. Is the pilot episode of a TV show? Is it the first adventure in an ongoing book series? Should it be expanded upon and turned into a much larger book? Whatever the fate of this small story, it's out of mind for now, and I can turn all my attention back to the second season of Remnants.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Gathering No Moss

Tomorrow is August 13th. It is not escaping me that it has been exactly one month to the day since The Great Multimedia Purge of Aught Ten.

There is absolutely nothing like the blissful stress of a film set. I can't wait for 10am to roll around. I can't wait to set up the first shot and I really can't wait to say "action!"

We're filming "The Road to Damascus," the first interlude of our ongoing web series Remnants. It serves as a bridge between Season 1 and 2, foreshadowing both events in the world, in the characters, and even a certain tonal shift in the series.

I really should get off the ol' Internets and get to making some fake blood (spoiler alert!).

Friday, August 6, 2010

My Top 25 Most Played Songs

Choose Your Own Adventure (Or "How I Defeated Writer's Block")

I don't have time to have writer's block. I have far too many stories to tell and far too little time in my life to ever sit down in front of my computer and have that big, blank white screen taunt me. As a writer, there's nothing more fulfilling than leaning back in your chair and seeing a screen perfectly cluttered with prose. Sometimes, it seems, the screen just wants to be clean. It doesn't want your words, your thoughts, your ideas -- so it stymies you. But there's a way around that.

This may not work for everyone, but it has helped me and so there's at least the possibility that will help you, too.

I have learned to never focus solely on one project. If I ever only have one thing I'm working on, I'll invariably write myself into a writer's block. It's such a strange thing. It's like navigating an unfamiliar city. You might have a map. You might have traced the route you need to take. But at some point, you're going to stop on a street corner, stare at the map in front of you, and see absolutely no relation to the physical place you now find yourself standing. Sometimes the map can help you out and sometimes you just have to ask a local, "where am I and how did I get here?"

In that metaphor, the local was played by Second Writing Project.

It helps if the second writing project is a completely unrelated story with completely unrelated characters in a completely unrelated genre. Because writer's block seems to happen (for me, at least) when I get so wrapped up in the story that I can't see the big picture. I don't see that this little detail that I'm stuck on doesn't really matter. Sometimes, of course, the words just don't come to me. I know what I'm supposed to write, but it's just not there. The screen is blank because my mind is blank. But the mind isn't so simple that it can only focus on one thing. You can have all sorts of simultaneous thoughts bubbling to the surface at any one moment. So just because this project isn't one of those ideas doesn't mean you don't have other legitimately good ideas going on.

Close that document and open another. Work on something else. Write the next paragraph of that other story you're working on. Jot down that scene you've been playing over in your mind all day. As you play through those scenes, more times than not, you'll inadvertently crack the code of the other thing you're writing.

That's how I do it. That's the only way I know how to do it, really. At any one time, I'll have two or three things I'm working on, writing, dissecting, outlining, or drafting. Don't limit yourself to one project at a time. Your brain is a pretty amazing thing.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Libertas Picture Company

So as we tie up a neat little bow on phase 1, it's time to move on to phase 2. "What?!" I hear you say. "There's phases to this thing?" Indeed there are, Inquisitive Reader.

I now have the equipment and capability to shoot movies, music videos, web series, and/or anything else our imaginations and cook up. And so I would like to open the doors of the Libertas Picture Company.

If you live in the greater Chattanooga area, and have a story you'd like to tell, but up till now haven't had the equipment you've needed to do so, well it's time for you to look me up. Since film has all but gone the way of the cassette tape, I'm not going to call Libertas Picture Company a film studio. No, it's a story-telling studio. What stories do you have? What ideas do you have peculating?

Have a song that needs a music video? Have a short film idea that needs capturing? Have an idea for an ongoing web series? Have a feature-length film script that's just collecting dust?

Contact me via this blog, via Facebook, or e-mail me at and let's see if we can't get your story told.

Friday, July 16, 2010


So far in the Acquiring of the Hardware That I Need the only hiccup I've run into is I accidentally bought the wrong memory cards for the camera -- if only the hiccup I ran into was Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III. The stories he could tell me! But alas, it was not he that I ran into, instead if was memory cards that couldn't record HD video fast enough. *sigh*

I returned the memory cards and got some newer and more improved memory cards and they seem to be working just fine. Upon returning home I also ordered the boom mic kit that I needed. So, with the thousands of dollars I spent this week, and Loren's editing equipment and audio recorder, we're ready to be making movies again (or anytime we want, really).

So I'm back to writing now. But knowing that I have all this equipment at my disposal has changed the feeling of writing. Now writing has a very clear purpose and a very clear end. Everything I write, I can shoot! And not in some far-off mystery land veiled in fog and guarded by untrained dragons. I could write something today and shoot it tomorrow!

If tomorrow wasn't Sabbath.
And if I could get the actors and crew together that I needed.
But I could do it!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


With the money I've raised thus far, I went to Best Buy's website and applied for a credit card. I didn't really want to, it's not like I need another monthly credit card payment, but with it, I could go into the store and buy the camera, the tripod, the spare batteries and the spare memory cards. And, with it, I don't have to pay interest on the camera for 18 months.

Now, I'm going to turn around and pay off half that card. Just BAM send them a big check tomorrow. Or Friday. Or, actually, whenever the check card arrives in the mail for the checking account I set up for Libertas Picture Company. Then, with the leftover money, I'm going to buy a boom mic -- the only other thing I really need to start making movies again.

A light kit would be nice. But I have China Balls and Lord knows how much I love the soft, warm glow of China Balls. I'll be fine for some time.

Anyway. I just wanted to keep everybody that wanted to be in the loop in the loop and the rest of you . . . why are you here?


Monday, July 12, 2010

Sacrifices, part 2

I'm beginning to think God had bigger plans for me than the Create Here grant would have allowed. When I got my rejection letter, my mom said, "that just tells me that there's something bigger or better out there for you." I knew she was trying to comfort me and I knew she believed what she was saying, but it did little in the way of taking away the sting of rejection.

But now here I sit, 196 movies poorer and 1200 dollars richer. I can't help but feel that I've been rewarded for stepping out in faith. I've declared my priorities, my passion, and my desire, and the money which I made from the initial sale of movies doubled in less than 24 hours. And then 20 extra dollars came forth. And now, the very fine Rick Hardaway (who plays General Rhodes), having heard all this, has promised another 100 dollars to the fund.

So I'm doing it again. Or still. Or . . . actually I'm not sure what tense to use, but tomorrow I'm taking in all my graphic novels and trade paper backs. Good-bye Spider-Man, Superman, Wolverine, and Batman. We'll meet again, I'm sure. But right now I'd rather be making movies and telling stories than stockpiling your old tales.

Just as with the movies, there are a couple I'm holding onto. But right now I'm looking at nine grocery bags full of hardback books that I'm trading in for cold, hard cash. Because I'm committed to this. I was created for and called to a very specific purpose and I'm not going to let something as petty as money get in the way.

UPDATE: Made $275.23 from my 92 books.

Which means we now have $1478.51
Which means we're 72% there!

If you have that other 28%, or a portion of that 28% and would like to help, do let me know!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

That Which We Need (The Woes)

I've decided to let everyone in on our financial woes. They're not woes in the traditional sense, but woes in the sense that they are what is standing in the way of us pursuing further seasons of Remnants as well as any future film projects.

Here is the reasonablly short list of things we need (and are currently raising money to purchase). I've included links so you can check the equipment for yourself.

1 Shotgun Mic Kit - 599.95

Which, for those of you interested in the math, brings us to $2,058.68
We have raised $603.28
We are 29% there.

July 12 UPDATE!!

A very fine couple (who shall remain nameless until I have their permission to tell the world what they just did) read my blog and said they'd be happy to match what I've already raised!

Which means we have now raised $1,203.28
We are 58% there!
Which means right now, we could buy the camera, the spare batteries and a couple of memory cards.

God is so good.

July 13th UPDATE!!

Took in 92 of my comic books/grapic novels/trade paper backs and made $275.23.

Which means we now have $1478.51
Which means we're 72% there!

If you have that other 28%, or a portion of that 28% and would like to help, do let me know!


We applied for the Create Here grant and didn't get it. Apparently the "winners" of the grant were more established Chattanooga artists. I suppose I can understand that. If I was giving away a lot of money, I'd want to think I was giving it someone who would use it wisely -- and who else can you trust but people who have already proven themselves as trustworthy and who have already made a name for themselves without your help?

Though, I do also have to admit, I'd be less excited about helping someone who already owned their own studio. I know what they're going to do with the money. I'd like to help some no-name up 'n' comer who needs a boost up. But that's neither here nor there.

We don't have any money and we need equipment. We could continue to beg, borrow, and steal equipment from our wealthier friends, but I'd rather reserve those called-in favors for more dire needs (like for a steadicam sequence or what-have-you).

Hence the title of this blog: Sacrifices. I've known people, and continue to be friends with people, who are big dreamers but not big doers. They talk about all these wonderful things, but don't really seem to ever do anything to actually get themselves closer to accomplishing their dreams. I'm not going to be one of those people.

Step 1 in getting closer to the dream is selling my DVD's and Blu-Rays. I want you to understand what this means. I have upwards of 500 DVD's and Blu-Rays. I haven't counted them in a while, but I was definitely close to that last time I did (I have been downsizing, though, so I'm probably hovering much lower nowadays). This is a finely tuned and sculpted collection I've been working on for that past 10 years. I love movies. I love owning movies. But I'm not going to let my library of movies get in the way of my dreams. I'm taking them into McKay today and selling them. Whatever I make on these movies, I'm putting towards a camera.

It's a sad day. It's a scary day. It's also a thrilling, exciting, I'm about-to-step-off-the-ledge day. So here goes. I hope, like Indiana Jones, there's an invisible bridge to catch me.

UPDATE: I made $583.28 from 196 movies.
UPDATE 2: After reading this blog, an anonymous donor gave me $20, pushing the grand total to 603.28. Thanks, Anonymous!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Episode 5

Episode 5 (Proscription) is the filter through which I see all of Remnants.

Remnants: Episode 5 from COGfilm on Vimeo.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

new marketing campaign

We have no money and we are but a handful of people isolated in Chattanooga and Nashville, Tennessee. But our web series has the potential to reach everyone who has a computer all over the globe. So how do we make it happen?

I'm stealing a genius marketing campaign from the guys behind Red Moon, a brilliant graphic novel that was recently independently released. I've created a simple black & white flyer (8.5 x 11) that anyone can print off and then hang up. If they take a picture of themself, upload it to somewhere we can see it, and send us the link, we'll share the picture with everyone and thank them in an upcoming episode.

Feel free to join in on the fun! We could certainly use your help!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

me & my chalkboard

Some time between purchasing our house and moving into it, my wife (hencforth referred to as "Kelly") surprised me by turning one of the walls of my office into a chalkboard. She did it out of the kindness of her heart. She looked at me, said, "I have an idea," and the next day I had a chalkboard. She had to sand the wall smooth and before covering it with chalkboard paint, but in the end, I had a wall I could write on and not get in trouble for (something I've wanted since the age of 2).

I use the chalkboard to sort out ideas. If I have something that I'm not sure about, I write it on the wall. Sometimes giving an idea a tangible presence is all that it takes to prove its worth; some ideas boldly stand out against the dark wall, others just whimper there, waiting to be erased.

I use the chalkboard to keep my timelines straight. Season 1 of Remnants, for example, takes place over the course of about 8 days. It's nice to be able to see that. It's nice to be able to step back and look at the timeline of events. Being able to see that helps me keep the story rooted in reality -- how fast should this story take place? How much time is needed to get from Point A to Point B? Can I rearrange the events a little bit and fill in the some of the gaps to give the overall story a better flow?

I use the chalkboard to keep score. Back in 2009, I had 28 skits and plays to write for the General Conference. As I completed each one, I made a mark. Watching the wall fill up with marks kept me focused. Walking into my office and seeing that I had completed only 6 skits reminded me I had 22 more to write -- so I better sit down, strap in, and get typin'.

I use the chalkboard to leap over writer's block. Sometimes then adjectives fail me, all it takes to jump-start my brain is a quick doodle on the chalkboard. Most doodles involve a spiky-haired boy with his tongue sticking out. Sometimes I trace my hand and use different colored chalks to turn my fingers into feathers and my thumb into the head and face of a turkey -- you know, the kind of doodles you did in kindergarten. My art skills haven't progressed much past that.

Right now the chalkboard is blank.

I'm in between projects, so I don't have anything to fill the wall with. Nothing needs to be recorded. Nothing needs to marked, kept, erased, or cataloged in chalk. No writer's blocks need to be hurdled with a pole vault doodle.

But I'm ready. Justin North came over last night and we discussed Season 2 of Remnants -- what it could be, what it needed to be, and what we wanted it to be. And ideas are creeping forward. Out of the ether, God is calling them. They're making themselves known. They're demanding attention and demanding to be written down.

It's time to fill the chalkboard.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Episodes 1 and 2

Episodes 1 and 2 went live tonight!

Episode 3, Answer the Call, will be available on Sunday, June 13!


Remnants goes live tonight -- which is both terribly exciting and terrifying. I'm not so concerned if people don't like it (everyone has their own taste and opinion), I'm more worried nobody will see it. Okay, that's not true. If everyone sees it and doesn't like it, that would be rather devastating.

So here we go! Lock S-Foils into attack position and follow me into the trench!

Episodes 1 and 2 will be available tonight at 7pm (and any time after that). Subsequent episodes will follow every Sunday at 7pm (EST).

Now go to and I'll see you on the other side!

Friday, June 4, 2010

SUNDAY 6/6/10

A lot of hard work is coming down to Sunday, June 6th, 2010! Click your way over to at 7pm to see the first two episodes of Remnants! Tell a friend! Tell two! It's been a long time coming and I think you're going to like it!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

LOST Thoughts: Everything, Really

So over on DarkUFO someon claiming to be working at Bad Robot posted this. We probably can't say whether or not his claim is true, but what he has to say is certainly intriguing.

Good stuff on here! I can finally throw in my two cents! I’ve had to bite my tongue for far too long. Also, hopefully I can answer some of John’s questions about Dharma and the “pointless breadcrumbs” that really, weren’t so pointless …

First …
The Island:

It was real. Everything that happened on the island that we saw throughout the 6 seasons was real. Forget the final image of the plane crash, it was put in purposely to f*&k with people’s heads and show how far the show had come. They really crashed. They really survived. They really discovered Dharma and the Others. The Island keeps the balance of good and evil in the world. It always has and always will perform that role. And the Island will always need a “Protector”. Jacob wasn’t the first, Hurley won’t be the last. However, Jacob had to deal with a malevolent force (MIB) that his mother, nor Hurley had to deal with. He created the devil and had to find a way to kill him — even though the rules prevented him from actually doing so.

Thus began Jacob’s plan to bring candidates to the Island to do the one thing he couldn’t do. Kill the MIB. He had a huge list of candidates that spanned generations. Yet everytime he brought people there, the MIB corrupted them and caused them to kill one another. That was until Richard came along and helped Jacob understand that if he didn’t take a more active role, then his plan would never work.

Enter Dharma — which I’m not sure why John is having such a hard time grasping. Dharma, like the countless scores of people that were brought to the island before, were brought there by Jacob as part of his plan to kill the MIB. However, the MIB was aware of this plan and interferred by “corrupting” Ben. Making Ben believe he was doing the work of Jacob when in reality he was doing the work of the MIB. This carried over into all of Ben’s “off-island” activities. He was the leader. He spoke for Jacob as far as they were concerned. So the “Others” killed Dharma and later were actively trying to kill Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley and all the candidates because that’s what the MIB wanted. And what he couldn’t do for himself.

Dharma was originally brought in to be good. But was turned bad by MIB’s corruption and eventually destroyed by his pawn Ben. Now, was Dharma only brought there to help Jack and the other Canditates on their overall quest to kill Smokey? Or did Jacob have another list of Canidates from the Dharma group that we were never aware of? That’s a question that is purposley not answered because whatever answer the writers came up with would be worse than the one you come up with for yourself. Still … Dharma’s purpose is not “pointless” or even vague. Hell, it’s pretty blantent.

Still, despite his grand plan, Jacob wanted to give his “candidates” (our Lostaways) the one thing he, nor his brother, were ever afforded: free will. Hence him bringing a host of “candidates” through the decades and letting them “choose” which one would actually do the job in the end. Maybe he knew Jack would be the one to kill Flocke and that Hurley would be the protector in the end. Maybe he didn’t. But that was always the key question of the show: Fate vs Free-will. Science vs Faith. Personally I think Jacob knew from the beginning what was going to happen and that everyone played a part over 6 seasons in helping Jack get to the point where he needed to be to kill Smokey and make Hurley the protector — I know that’s how a lot of the writers viewed it. But again, they won’t answer that (nor should they) because that ruins the fun.

In the end, Jack got to do what he always wanted to do from the very first episode of the show: Save his fellow Lostaways. He got Kate and Sawyer off the island and he gave Hurley the purpose in life he’d always been missing. And, in Sideways world (which we’ll get to next) he in fact saved everyone by helping them all move on …


Sideways World:

Sideways world is where it gets really cool in terms of theology and metaphysical discussion (for me at least — because I love history/religion theories and loved all the talks in the writer’s room about it). Basically what the show is proposing is that we’re all linked to certain people during our lives. Call them soulmates (though it’s not exactly the best word). But these people we’re linked to are with us duing “the most important moments of our lives” as Christian said. These are the people we move through the universe with from lifetime to lifetime. It’s loosely based in Hinduisim with large doses of western religion thrown into the mix.

The conceit that the writers created, basing it off these religious philosophies, was that as a group, the Lostaways subconsciously created this “sideways” world where they exist in purgatory until they are “awakened” and find one another. Once they all find one another, they can then move on and move forward. In essence, this is the show’s concept of the afterlife. According to the show, everyone creates their own “Sideways” purgatory with their “soulmates” throughout their lives and exist there until they all move on together. That’s a beautiful notion. Even if you aren’t religious or even spirtual, the idea that we live AND die together is deeply profound and moving.

It’s a really cool and spirtual concept that fits the whole tone and subtext the show has had from the beginning. These people were SUPPOSED to be together on that plane. They were supposed to live through these events — not JUST because of Jacob. But because that’s what the universe or God (depending on how religious you wish to get) wanted to happen. The show was always about science vs faith — and it ultimately came down on the side of faith. It answered THE core question of the series. The one question that has been at the root of every island mystery, every character backstory, every plot twist. That, by itself, is quite an accomplishment.

How much you want to extrapolate from that is up to you as the viewer. Think about season 1 when we first found the Hatch. Everyone thought that’s THE answer! Whatever is down there is the answer! Then, as we discovered it was just one station of many. One link in a very long chain that kept revealing more, and more of a larger mosiac.

But the writer’s took it even further this season by contrasting this Sideways “purgatory” with the Island itself. Remember when Michael appeared to Hurley, he said he was not allowed to leave the Island. Just like the MIB. He wasn’t allowed into this sideways world and thus, was not afforded the opportunity to move on. Why? Because he had proven himself to be unworthy with his actions on the Island. He failed the test. The others, passed. They made it into Sideways world when they died — some before Jack, some years later. In Hurley’s case, maybe centuries later. They exist in this sideways world until they are “awakened” and they can only move on TOGETHER because they are linked. They are destined to be together for eternity. That was their destiny.

They were NOT linked to Anna Lucia, Daniel, Roussou, Alex, Miles, Lupidis, (and all the rest who weren’t in the chuch — basically everyone who wasn’t in season 1). Yet those people exist in Sideways world. Why? Well again, here’s where they leave it up to you to decide. The way I like to think about it, is that those people who were left behind in Sideways world have to find their own soulmates before they can wake up. It’s possible that those links aren’t people from the island but from their other life (Anna’s parnter, the guy she shot — Roussou’s husband, etc etc).

A lot of people have been talking about Ben and why he didn’t go into the Church. And if you think of Sideways world in this way, then it gives you the answer to that very question. Ben can’t move on yet because he hasn’t connected with the people he needs to. It’s going to be his job to awaken Roussou, Alex, Anna Lucia (maybe), Ethan, Goodspeed, his father and the rest. He has to attone for his sins more than he did by being Hurley’s number two. He has to do what Hurley and Desmond did for our Lostaways with his own people. He has to help them connect. And he can only move on when all the links in his chain are ready to. Same can be said for Faraday, Charlotte, Whidmore, Hawkins etc. It’s really a neat, and cool concept. At least to me.

But, from a more “behind the scenes” note: the reason Ben’s not in the church, and the reason no one is in the church but for Season 1 people is because they wrote the ending to the show after writing the pilot. And never changed it. The writers always said (and many didn’t believe them) that they knew their ending from the very first episode. I applaud them for that. It’s pretty fantastic. Originally Ben was supposed to have a 3 episode arc and be done. But he became a big part of the show. They could have easily changed their ending and put him in the church — but instead they problem solved it. Gave him a BRILLIANT moment with Locke outside the church … and then that was it. I loved that. For those that wonder — the original ending started the moment Jack walked into the church and touches the casket to Jack closing his eyes as the other plane flies away. That was always JJ’s ending. And they kept it.

For me the ending of this show means a lot. Not only because I worked on it, but because as a writer it inspired me in a way the medium had never done before. I’ve been inspired to write by great films. Maybe too many to count. And there have been amazing TV shows that I’ve loved (X-Files, 24, Sopranos, countless 1/2 hour shows). But none did what LOST did for me. None showed me that you could take huge risks (writing a show about faith for network TV) and stick to your creative guns and STILL please the audience. I learned a lot from the show as a writer. I learned even more from being around the incredible writers, producers, PAs, interns and everyone else who slaved on the show for 6 years.

In the end, for me, LOST was a touchstone show that dealt with faith, the afterlife, and all these big, spirtual questions that most shows don’t touch. And to me, they never once waivered from their core story — even with all the sci-fi elements they mixed in. To walk that long and daunting of a creative tightrope and survive is simply astounding.