Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Sirens are Calling and I’m Shipwrecked on Creative Shores

We’re coming up on three months into 2012 and the sirens have been calling to me quite fiercely in one form or another. That said, I’m hoping for another productive year that will drive me towards my ultimate goal, and I thought I’d tip my various hats in your direction so you can have a sneak peak into some of the numerous projects I’ve been stirring up, as well as some a few possible outside projects I may be working on through the year.

I’m currently working on three major projects that have kept me seated in front of my Macbook Pro whenever I’m not teaching or watching some film noir:

Crowdfunding for Filmmakers: The Way to a Successful Film Campaign
: As many of you know, since November I’ve been writing a book under contract with Michael Wiese Productions about successful crowdfunding tips and tactics specifically geared toward DIY filmmakers. The book is based on my most successful blog post “The Tao of Crowdfunding: Three Ps for a Successful Film Campaign” and two other posts under the “Tao of Crowdfunding” umbrella, one of which landed itself on indie film guru Ted Hope’s blog. The book is coming along very well; I’ve moved from the writing phase to the rewriting phase, and at present I’m still ahead of schedule and should be able to deliver a finished manuscript to the publishers on May 1st so that the book can make an appearance sometime in late 2012 or early 2013.

Mating Dome: My eighth short film, co-produced, written by and starring Joe Whelski and shot by Alain Aguilar, should be hitting the 2012/2013 film festival circuit sometime in the next few months. So far, Joe has submitted the film to Sci-Fi London Film Festival and Worldwide Shorts Film Festival, with many more on the way, including the prestigious Hollyshorts Film Festival.

In the meantime, check out this sexy little teaser:

Dig it? Keep a lookout for updates on Facebook, Twitter and the official website to see where you can catch this short sci-fi comedy about what dating will become forty years from now. 

Siren’s Calling: I’m taking a step away from my own short film projects due to my massive lack of a savings and have decided to adapt my very first horror story into a comic book series called Siren’s Calling. I’m currently in talks with the very talented Lauren Clemente (you may remember her work from the Cerise poster) and hopefully we can sign some contracts and get working on this terrifying tale about a siren from the sea fed up with her life as a deep sea femme fatale and tries her luck as a film noir actress in 1940s Hollywood.

My siren's not as friendly as the Starbucks variety.

Siren’s Calling takes some inspiration from my favorite comic book series by Scott Snyder & Rafael Albuquerque called American Vampire (in the period piece element) and Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead (for it’s black and white artwork feature), though it’s more like The Little Mermaid if Ariel came from Hell. Intrigued? I sure hope so.

Aside from my own creations, I may also be directing a few things later this year, if I can manage to get some time away from the keys of my laptop.

With Mating Dome, this years marks the return of the trio behind Nothingman Films in what we hope will be a series of film projects that will help Alain, Joe, and myself soar to newfound heights as storytellers. First up for me, though, is coming on board as director for a short episode of a series of environmental skits Joe has been writing over the past year. If all goes well with that, other projects may follow, even perhaps a resurrection of our original comedy series The Fool!

Hope you liked that episode, ’cause we’ve got 90+ episodes written out and ready to go!

My good friend and fellow writer Sam Platizky’s, who’s had much success with his two feature-length films Blaming George Romero and Red Scare, is embarking on his first web series called Loster, which follows at the lives of a bunch of people brought together because of the ending of their favorite show Lost.  Sam asked me if I’d like to direct one or two episodes of the series, and based on what I’ve read of the series so far, and once I nab a little time away from my laptop, I hope to be a part of Sam’s next endeavor for film and web world conquest.

Hot on the heels of my very first music video, Pepper Coat’s classy folk tune “She’s Gone & I’m Here,” Marinell and I may be back as a producer/director team on a short documentary for good friend Adam Ramos’ (who worked as hairstylist on Cerise) “gentleman’s barber shop” Virile in Walkwick, NJ. It will be part promotional video for his shop, and my first step into the world of documentary filmmaking.

Other projects may include a music video for a song called “Drive the Spirits Out” by the band Icewagon Flu. Sound familiar? These are the awesome guys who not only let me use their song “Liza Was Rejected” in my short film Perfekt and Talk to Me in Cerise, but they’re also the boys who wrote and donated the title song for my short film about a former spelling bee champion haunted by the word that took him down.

I may be returning to my theater roots sometime this year. I met with good friend and Artistic Director for Hudson Shakespeare Company Jon Ciccarelli and we spoke about my rejoining the ranks to direct Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus sometime after the summer. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for this one!

What about my other projects, you ask? Like my feature-length scripts for A Beautiful Unlife and Caput, and my “Memory Trilogy” of short films?

A Beautiful Unlife, my vampire script that was shopped around the Hollywood studios after additional work on it with script analyst Michael Ray Brown, which received much praise, some solid critique and ultimately rejection, will undergo one final revision (it’s all in my head as we speak), and by 2013 will become my next crowdfunded film (so long as Crowdfunding for Filmmakers

Caput, my Hudson Hawkesque dark hit man dramedy is not on hold by any means. I hope to hold a script reading sometime within the next few months to get some much needed feedback on this quirky plot-driven narrative so I can delve into a third draft of it and hopefully shop it around to agents and competitions in late 2012/early 2013.

The first two scripts of my “Memory Trilogy,” Statuetory and Café Mnemosyne, are all written, revised and ready to be shot. What’s missing, as I mentioned earlier, is money, since each of these will require locations shooting (a café and an artist’s loft/studio for one and a diner for the other) and some pricey props (mannequins ain’t cheap!) As soon as I find the money, I’ll make the time.

I’ve also been getting into some other kinds of writing to add to my 10,000 hours, penning a few articles and reviews for the likes of Lamplighter, a Jersey-based arts and culture magazine, Jersey City Independent, a very reliable local news source, and Broken Frontier, a comic book review site. I’ll also be writing some reviews for Film Slate in the weeks ahead.

And if the world does end on December 21st, 2012, at least I’ll have the satisfaction of leaving behind me an impressive tome of treasures that’ll hopefully keep future (or alien) generations thoroughly entertained.

Riding the Writer’s Road: Three Lessons Learned in Three Months of Writing

Today marks the beginning of my fourth month writing The Tao of Crowdfunding for Filmmakers, and on May 1st I should have a complete manuscript ready to turn in to the editors at Michael Wiese Productions. Back in December, I wrote a post called “Tao Te Trig: The Flow, the Muse and the Working Writer’s World” about what I’d learned during my first month of being a working writer, so I thought I’d continue that here with three important lessons I’ve learned in three months as an author.

Lesson #1: Get Organized, Stay Organized
I’m no stranger to the written word; I’ve written at least a couple thousand poems (if you count my napkin poems of 2000 – 2003), a dozen short stories, one five-act play, and four feature-length screenplays (two of which are still with us) and the one thing I’ve learned is to get and stay organized. I wrote about my ten pages a day screenwriting philosophy, but I find each type of writing demands different requirements and so each requires unique organization.

Sometimes the texture of a napkin is more conducive to a decent poem than a page from my Moleskine.

For The Tao of Crowdfunding for Filmmakers, I spent a day and broke each of my eleven sections into weeks. I worked a four-day per week writing schedule, my days off from teaching, and squeezed in some extra hours on the days I did work but had a substantial lull between classes. If I finished my weekly quota, I refrained from getting a head start and instead worked on something else; I was already being pretty ambitious with my weekly schedule as it was, and sticking to it was challenge enough.

Now, I have a complete first (and rough) draft of my book of about 300 pages (more than I ever thought I’d write!), which will now need to be cut down during the revision stage; and a new stage means new organization.

Lesson #2: “Be Impeccable with Your Word”
This is the first of four agreements I took to heart from reading Don Miguel Ruiz’s book of Toltec wisdom The Four Agreements, which I discovered buried at the bottom of a box of books at one of the universities where I teach.

The Four Agreements of Don Miguel Ruiz.

You may wonder why my two blogs, Hat & Soul and The Trigonis Review, don’t have a regular frequency for posts, and that’s because I refuse to push any of my writing out into the world that isn’t at its very best. An idea is precious, and it exist in our minds in its purest form; there it retains 100% of its power to inform, to inspire, and ultimately, to transform. Once we attempt to translate that idea into words, it will undoubtedly lose some of its original essence because words are all too human while the idea itself is divine. By the time we choose our words, we may only be getting across to the reader 75% of the actual, untainted idea.

Therefore, in order to maximize the power of language, writers must be impeccable with our words. If we know we can say something more clearly and concisely to ensure that our readers will understand exactly what we want them to understand, then we owe it to ourselves and to our readership to put forward only our very best writing.

Lesson #3: Resistance is Futile
As much as I don’t want to admit this to myself, let alone to all of you reading this, I spent a great deal of time resisting my natural calling as a writer. I’ve always prided myself on being a poet, and I’ve been trudging along this mysterious life with a suitcase packed full of self-imposed rules of what it means to be a poet –– Always Think Deep Thoughts; Always Appear Beat and Brooding; and above all, Never Sell Out, which oftentimes means only the first two words of that sentence for me.

"Untamed Muse" by Tom Kidd: A great depiction of my vision of a poet.

Sometimes it takes more than a imaginary muse to tell you how it is and help you see the world through a different pair of shades.

How did The Tao of Crowdfunding for Filmmakers come about in the first place? My girlfriend Marinell and I were talking one night about how so many crowdfunders were benefiting from my first Tao of Crowdfunding blog post, and she suggested I write a book about it since I’d been grumbling about not having an actual book of poetry published yet. I declined, to which she retorted that I really should start making money off my writing. Initially, the poet in me got upset, but the writer hidden deep inside heard the call. I wanted to write a poem, but instead I wrote a solid proposal with the idea in my mind of proving to Marinell that a legitimate book publisher would, in fact, want to have this book as part of its catalog. Interestingly enough, I didn’t need to prove anything to her –– she already believed in me with utmost certainty that I could do it; instead, I ended up proving it to myself. The rest is history and a Twitter hashtag.

And here I am now, closing in on my 34th year and I finally understand that while only living the life of a poet I’d been neglecting my “Unlived Life” as a working writer; I never believed someone would want to pay to read something I’d written. I’ve since unpacked my old Million Miler filled with fabricated Rules and the faintest whispers of Resistance and embrace the scribe’s boulevard up ahead, with all its curves, turns and crossroads, and green lights as far as the eye can imagine.

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What are YOUR thoughts about life on the “scribe’s boulevard”? Writers, any advice you’d care to share from your experiences? Readers, any thoughts from the reader’s perspective of things will help us pack this Comments section for the long journey ahead.

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