Thursday, February 24, 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011

BORING DVD ART: Mr and Mrs Smith

It's not so much as boring DVD art as bad DVD art design. Every time I see it, I chuckle. They're so proud that this is the unrated version of Mr and Mrs Smith, they inadvertently created Unrated, starring Mr and Mrs Smith (as played by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie).

Sunday, February 20, 2011

BORING DVD ART: The Matrix Revolutions

All the Matrix movies had amazing art campaigns. I was especially fond of The Matrix Reloaded poster series that displayed all the new and returning characters predominately on a white background while cutting off the character's head. There was something really eye-catching about those. It made you want to see more. The Matrix Revolutions poster art wasn't as daring as Reloaded's, but they definitely foreshadowed the epic nature of the trilogy's conclusion.

But then it came time for the DVD art and . . . it was as if they just stopped caring. While the two original movies displayed the three heroes predominately, the third DVD just slapped four of the posters together. And while this does reflect the splintered hodge-podge mess that is the third movie, is this the laziness you want representing your movie? I'd like to call it artistic schizophrenia, but it's really just lazy.

Friday, February 18, 2011


This might have been the movie that made me first ask, "why would you trade this for that?"

The adorable poster art:

The freshman-art-student-who-just-learned-PhotoShop DVD cover:


Thursday, February 17, 2011

what's in a name?

If there's one thing that will stop me cold, it's a name. I need a character's name before I can give them things to do or say. Even if I know what they're going to say and/or do in that scene, I can't write it until I know that character's name. It's the closest thing to writer's block I really struggle with. Names are important to me -- especially if it's a name of a main character. If, what I'm writing becomes something people talk about, who do I want them discussing? Clark and Lois? Han and Leia? Christian and Satine? Also, while I'm writing this, these characters are going to be taking up a lot of time and space in my brain. Do I really want to be spending the next month, months, or year with Craig?

Once a name clicks, I understand the character a little bit better. It's my experience that people not only define their names, but are also defined by them. For example, I have found every Scott I've ever met to be a little weird and I've never gotten along with a Scott*.

But if I was writing a slightly odd character, a sincere fellow with quirky asides, I might consider the name Scott. In lieu of that, as to not appear vain, I'll name him Sean, as it is as close to Scott as I can get without actually using "Scott." The name "Sean" conjures up in my mind, someone who could just as easily be a "Scott." And once I name him Sean, I know how he's going to talk and what's going to offend him. Or, to get away from all this Scott Talk, Rose would deliver a line very differently than Donna would.

So it's all about finding a name. A name that fits my story and the character I have in my head. Once I find that name, then I can move forward. But until then, everything comes to a grinding halt.

Which, maybe, explains why I'm blogging instead of writing.

* I am Scott. You are not Scott. Sod off, Fake Scott.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

cracking the code

I think I just figured out my children's book. It's not a children's book at all. It's a children's book series. I have this twenty-page first draft (outline?) sitting on my computer. I love it to death but have had no idea what to do with it. Then . . . I don't know how to describe it . . . something clicked. I realized what the book was: An introduction. It's an introduction to a character, to a world, and to a growing list of story possibilities.

As soon as it clicked, I knew who the narrator was. I knew what voice the books needed to have. And I like it. And I can't wait to share it with you.


I'm very curious as to how studios view DVD cover art and how that view is different from how they view poster art. I've often seen absolutely spectacular movie posters and then very boring DVD cover art follow it up. Why the change?

Why would you choose to go from something moving and evocative . . .

. . . to something boring and utterly forgettable?

Friday, February 11, 2011

BOOK REPORT: Decision Points

Just finished reading President Bush's memoir, Decision Points. I've read Bob Woodward's four books on Bush's time in office (Bush at War, Plan of Attack, State of Denial, and The War Within) and it is those books that form the foundation of my opinion on our 43rd president. But we must recognize that even the best book -- no matter how well-researched or even-handed -- is one man's interpretation of the facts. It was with that in mind that I picked up Decision Points. I wanted to know what President Bush really thought on certain subjects. I knew what the pundits had said, I remember how I felt on certain topics, but what actually led the president to make the decisions he made?

This memoir is (refreshingly) not written chronologically. Instead, each chapter is dedicated to a particular topic or "decision point." He then explores the subject, what led to it, what decision he made, and what the ramifications of that decision was.

The book is incredibly well-written and is at times thrilling. The chapter in which the president recounts September 11th reads better than any fiction you might pick up. I sped through that chapter, unable to put it down. There were always (and will always) be certain gaps in the timeline of events from that day, but to read where he was, what he did, and what thoughts were flying through his head, all while the fog of war crept in, was -- as I said -- absolutely thrilling.

His chapter on stem cell research was especially poignant. Bush became such a whipping boy by the media that it was refreshing and touching to see how incredibly sensitive he was on the topic. As I read it, I couldn't help but think of The Skin Gun and the man recently cured of AIDS. Stem cell research is clearly effecting and changing medical science and I appreciated the steps the president took in furthering research. While I would be okay with an even more open door policy on the subject, I appreciated that he didn't put the kibosh on it as some would have had him do.

If you've ever listened to him speak, it should come as no surprise that he bases many of his decisions on, as he puts it, "his gut." Throughout the book, we see that his initial gut instinct ends up being the final decision he makes. It was because of his gut we invaded Iraq without first completing our mission in Afghanistan. Sometimes, as he discusses this, he comes off a little defensive, but ultimately, he stands by every decision he made.

What I found most interesting about this book is that it meshes completely with Bob Woodward's account. There is no dissonance. This book works wonderfully as an unofficial epilogue to those books. And I would recommend anyone who's even slightly interested on the topic to make it a point to read these five books. They are good, easy reads that will challenge your view on American politics.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Audition Rehearsal

Just tried something new tonight.

I've never liked auditions. While they are initially exciting, they quickly devolve into boring, unhelpful tedium. I've tried various approaches to auditions, but I've never felt like any of them are terribly helpful. The attributes and talents that make for a good audition aren't necessarily the ones that will make for a good working environment. So I had an idea. I call it The Audition Rehearsal.

The Audition Rehearsal is an audition that is treated like a rehearsal. The actor comes in, is given their script (if they don't have it already), and then, with the other actors, we dive into the scene. We run lines, we collaborate, we explore the characters and their motivations. We flesh everything out. You spend as much time with it as you want.

You don't just "get a sense" for what it would be like to work with the person, you actually work with the person. If the experience is good, and the actor is the right one for the job, you've just had your first rehearsal and are ahead of the game. If the experience is less than good, you dismiss the actor and move on -- and even in that less-than-favorable situation, you still got to hear your script out loud -- you still got to explore the characters. Far less time is wasted.

Granted, it's a process that doesn't lend itself well to a tight schedule. It's something you might want to reserve for the final two actors, or your top pick or . . . whatever works for you. ;)

The audition tonight turned out to be a rehearsal. Episode 2 of The Ruffians is officially underway!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

rockin' episode 3

awesome episode 3.

chilling, creepy, awesome, hilarious episode 3.

oh, episode 3 how I love thee.

Friday, February 4, 2011

stupid episode 3

stupid episode 3.

stupid, stupid, stupid episode 3.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

episode 3, draft 2

Finished draft 1 of Episode 3 last night and realized today that it has maybe one of the worst endings I've ever written. The whole episode is build-up . . . to nothing, apparently. I didn't realize this until tonight as I was re-playing Mass Effect 2. I'm not sure where the realization came from. I was just sitting there and suddenly realized, "that script desperately needs a new ending -- and here it is!"

So I'm off to do that now. Ta.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

wrestling episode 3 into submission

Episode 3 has a name. It is Personification.

Discovering the episode's title made everything about the episode finally come together in my brain. I've always known what was (more or less) going to happen, but cracking that little bit of the code revealed to me how it was going to happen.

Episode 3 is the hinge on which the entire first season pivots. It is my response to every killer-with-a-conscience movies I've had to sit through. It is the heart and soul of the show -- okay, that might be a bit of hyperbole, especially as I consider my plans for Episode 6.

This might be the most work I've ever put into the first draft of any episode -- but I think it'll show. This episode, more than any other we've done, has the potential to be the most memorable and most impressive.