Thursday, September 29, 2011

Book or Film? Woodstock Film Festival.

After the Actor’s Dialogue Panel my sister and I hit the stores. Lot’s of nice items to browse but I was good. Then we sat at an outdoor cafĂ© and enjoyed a lovely lunch. (side note: Why are there no ice cream shops in Woodstock?) We attended the screening of East Fifth Bliss with Michael C Hall and Peter Fonda.
Here is the movie synopsis: Michael C. Hall is Morris Bliss in this coming-of-age tale of a 35-year-old with a wicked case of inertia. Bliss still lives at home with his father, mourns the death of his mother and just can’t seem to find a way out. When he stumbles into an awkward relationship with the sexually precocious, 18-year-old daughter of a former high school classmate, Morris quickly discovers his static life comically unraveling and opening up in ways that are long overdue.
I enjoyed the film – I give it 3 stars.

It was nice to have the director Michael Knowles there at the end to answer questions. And I had one – a big one – you see the movie shows Hall sleeping with all his clothes on at the beginning of the film – the 18 year even mentions it – as the movie moves along – each night Bliss removes one more article of clothing until he is sleeping naked.
So while I get this shows the character opening up - I wanted to know why is he sleeping in his clothes in the first place – so I posed this question to the director.
Me: “Can you talk a little about the symbolism of why he was shedding clothes.”
Director – Michael Knowles (I’m paraphrasing here) he says basically what I thought but adds that in the book when at the age of 14, Bliss’s is woken up to rush to the hospital – his mother his dying – he stops to dress and by the time he gets there his mother has died and he doesn’t get to say good-bye
Yeah – that’s big.
And there lies the problem of book to film.
The director went onto say that they didn’t use the scene because it was too dark and they wanted to keep the feel of the quirky comedy.

And why did he select this book? He was at a cigar bar in the East Village and a DVD of one of his films was being sold there and so was the book East Fifth Bliss by Douglas Light - and the author and filmmaker agreed on a trade! Then they spent the next (I think he said 2 years) writing the screenplay together. Cool story.

Monday, September 26, 2011

"Respect your craft." Vincent D'Onodrio

This was the second year I attended The Woodstock Film Festival. I love being around all these independent creative people!

My sister (the actress) and I (the writer) attended the panel called Actors Dialogue. Vincent D’Onodrio from Law and Order: Criminal Intent was this year’s surprise panelist. He also played Edgar, a giant cockroach-like alien who inhabits the body of a farmer in Men In Black. (How he created that character is a story onto itself.)
What can a writer learn from an actor? Here we go….
Actor: Preparation and commitment. He learned his craft before his big break with director Stanly Kubrick. D’Onofrio said that as a young actor he was amazed at the lack of preparation of some of the actors on set, which led to Kubrick firing them and sending them on their way. D’Onofrio was ready and in Full Metal Jacket he created one of those most shocking moments in film – he did it in 3 takes without direction from Kubrick.
Writing: How prepared are you? Have you studied your craft? Whether it’s an MBA in English, classes at a conference, or breaking down books in your genre – get prepared and keep on learning and growing. Are you committed to your writing?
Actor: He said Kubrick didn’t see the story as a whole or even in scenes but in 35 mm shots.
Writer: Every sentence is important. Look at each line we write and ask how it contributes to the whole.
Actor: Someone from the audience asked him how he prepares for a role and he said the first thing as actor you have to realize is that its all about Story, Story, Story (he karate chopped the table 3x times for emphasis). As an actor he asks himself how does my character help tell that story.
If you are familiar with Criminal Intent it was his decision to do the slight tilt of the head/bend of the character (it came about when he was questioning a suspect and the actor would only look at the table so he did a have bend until he caught the gaze of the other actor). Those famous pauses? – yeah he was told he couldn’t do that because it created dead air but he held his ground because he believed in his vision of the character.
Writing: It’s these little nuances that make a character memorable. What can you do to make your main character memorable? How does your character(s) help tell your story?
Actor: The best piece of advice he received as a young actor? Take it seriously. He was told he was great – that even when he failed – he was still great – but he needed to respect his craft and stop dangling one foot in – put both feet in and commit to your craft.
Writing: I’m going to take this one step further – Do you respect YOURSELF as a writer? If you do then you better log off now and get writing. (that is after you leave me a wonderful comment –lol)

Next time I’ll talk about the movie screening I attended and the problems of book to film and the director's answer to the question I posed.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - 09/25/11

six more from Love by Design...

“It’s not going to fit,” said Victoria in a moment of pure panic.
“Will so,” grunted Russ.
“It’s too big.”
“No such thing.”
“Cut,” yelled Stephen.
Victoria tore her gaze away from Russ’s flexing muscles as he tried to maneuver a fifty-two-inch television into a spot she had created for a fifty-one inch.

I will be at the Woodstock Film Festival today so I'll check in tonight with all my six sunday peeps! Be sure to check back later in the week for a post about my experience. (Last year I breathed the same air as Keanu Reeves - but I was to shy to go up and have him sign my program)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Writers, all the good ones, are Natural Born Liars. Daniel Keys Moran

Read a great article in Woman’s World magazine by Barabra Hustedt Crook titled: Be a Human Lie Detector.
This is great for real life AND in your writing. How does cop know the suspect is lying or the girlfriend know her boyfriend is being shady? Here is what Crook covered…

1) The liar’s lean - People tend to lean forward rather than away from their audience when they are fibbing.
2) Too much eye contact. This is a relief to me since I know I’m not an eye contact type of person – and always thought that it made me look guilty – but according to the study a liar has to struggle to maintain the lie their upper body freezes up – they won’t blink as often or shift their eyes only 40% or less of the time.
3) Lip licking/swallowing – when a person lies it causes the body to pump out adrenaline, which dries out the mouth
4) Not using contractions – remember the famous – “I did not have sexual…” - if only he used the word didn’t instead – lol
5) Nose rubbing – blood rushes to the nose under the stress of lying
6) A lot of detail – they pepper the story with details and try to skip over the details of the main event
7) Changing the Subject

There you have it. I hope you can use this in both your real and fiction worlds!
Wait let me add one more - #8 - A mother's instinct - we are the original human lie detector - at least of the littlest humans.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - 09/18/11

Six more from Love By Design - release date late October... Russ and Victoria just had sex for the first time (in the homeowners living room :) .....

Russ wanted to reach out and trace his finger from the top of her spine down to the hollow of her back. Then do the same with his lips. He wasn’t nearly finished exploring the tapestry of Victoria’s skin. He blew out a breath and sat up next to her. “I’m covering for friend at the Thunder Down Under Male Revue.”
“Please tell me you’re a bartender.”

Monday, September 12, 2011

"Accustom yourself continually to make many acts of love, for they enkindle and melt the soul." St Teresa of Avila

Going old school for my famous women quotes - real, real old school

St. Teresa of Avila
(1515-1582) born on Mar 28
Spanish "mystic, poet". "She was one of the great mystics and religious women of the Roman Catholic church; author of spiritual classics, e.g., "The Interior Castle," 1575."

"I only wish I could write with both hands, so as not to forget one thing while I am saying another."

“It is love alone that gives worth to all things”

“I do not fear Satan half so much as I fear those who fear him.”

"Untilled soil, however fertile it may be, will bear thistles and thorns; and so it is with man's mind."

Nice quotes but uh-oh - see where her eyes are looking up at? :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

"I want pills called September 10. You take one and your mind feels like the 11th never happened." - Doug Coupland

This is a picture I took of one of the towers during my 8th grade trip to NYC back in 1977.

Please take a moment to say a prayer for those taken from us on September 11, 2001.

Going to be a rough day but after a long prayer and some reflection I'm going to do my best to honor life and enjoy my day.

Monday, September 5, 2011

What I Did On My Summer Vacation...Part 2

My sister and I have been going to Pt. Pleasant for many years but only for day trips. Not this year - we rented a house for one glorious week. It struck me how when we slow down and get to spend a week in one place we notice the little things. Or maybe it’s just the writer in me.

On Saturday night there were many Jersey type shore people at Martell’s Tiki Bar - you know all the stereotypical people you would expect so I am wondering who are these two guys in their mid-twenties sitting in the back by the water – one is wearing jeans, solid red long-sleeve flannel shirt (remember it’s summer) with suspenders and he has long sideburns – his friend also wearing jeans and a blue plaid shirt – not flannel but long sleeved, mustache and smoking a pipe – yes a pipe. What is their story?! I had to hold myself back from asking then – which isn’t really all that hard considering how shy I am.
Then there were a group of girls – well women really – one wearing a head band with 2 penises dangling like playboy bunny ears – another holding a very large – like the size of one the prizes you win on the boardwalk – penis and waving it around the dance floor - the others had various penis shaped items – I’m guessing a divorce party?

On Sunday it was a rain-out but we saw a great family band called the Flying Mueller Brothers (all with long flowing blonde hair)– from what I gathered the father who had passed had started the band years ago and now one these brothers has one of their son (guessing around 8) playing with them – the kid was amazing. Of course this had me wondering of the stories this musical family could tell.

Monday - I’ve written a couple of pages of a women’s fiction novel that features the Virgin Mary so when I noticed a flyer for the Blessing of the Waters, celebrating Blessed Mother’s Accession to Heaven – I recognized this as NOT a coincidence and went. The sun peeked out as mass was held in Jenkins and then we followed the priest the shoreline. He stood on top of the lifeguard chair, gave the blessing, and I waded into the ocean to scoop out a cup of water (now blessed) and then helped get water for a few of the older ladies who were afraid to wade in. It was a lovely experience and nice to feel like one of the locals.

Tuesday – Seagull ate a crab in front of me – ewwwwwwww – but good to know they can still fend for themselves and not rely solely on the tourists for the litter they leave behind.
My sister loves to Karaoke (I do not) so she sang with a nice lady at the bar across from Martell’s. The next song my sister sang (Dream a Little Dream on Me by the Mama’s & the Papa’s) turned out to be the wedding song for the lady and her husband who my sister sang with! (There really are no coincidences).

I didn’t write anything down for Wednesday thru Friday – I just soaked everything in - read, drink and be merry.
Good thing because this blog entry would’ve been a book…