In a Gutter

Took a little too long to update here – my apologies, five readers! Most recently, I finished editing a small video piece for a non-profit organization called Faithful Internet. The video launches as part of a broader campaign next week Tuesday July 28th, but here it is now:

I’ve also been “writing”  (yes, the quotes are necessary all the time) and starting to do some “studying” (appropriate quotes again) to prepare for some of the directing assignments this fall. Been catching up on the previous season of “Grimm” (they’ve already started this current season) and next week I’m going to go visit “Scandal” for Episode 1 Season 5. This is part of my prep – so I can’t complain.

Paths of GloryIn addition, I’m finally emerging from newborn-rearing haze to reconnect with my community of filmmakers here in Los Angeles. I started a (highly exclusive) film society monthly film screening, wherein we’ll watch a film in current release or an older film, in the theater, and talk about it artistically afterwards. Film school emeritus. First film was the 1957 Stanley Kubrick classic Paths of Glory – about ten of us watched it in 35mm with a nearly sold out crowd at the legendary New Beverly Cinema. (Pretty amazing that a 58-year-old movie was nearly sold out – one of the reasons why I love LA.) We’re going to try to keep this thing up monthly.

One last thing – a few weeks ago I went to the public memorial for my thesis advisor and screenwriter Gill Dennis at my alma mater the American Film Institute. It was complete with wonderful stories, clips, whiskey shots, and remembrances of a beloved teacher, father, mentor and friend to many a filmmaker. He launched a thousand ships, to co-opt a phrase. We also watched his 1972 AFI thesis film, shot by his classmate (the now legendary) Caleb Deschanel with a couple great special effects created by his classmate (the now legendary) David Lynch.

It was an inspiring evening, as I was reminded about things Gill had said to us that I had forgotten – pieces of wisdom lost in the fog of memory over the years. There was one in particular, and it’s related to something in Walk the Line, the screenplay he co-wrote. This was spoken by Sam Phillips (Dallas Roberts) to Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix):

…If you was hit by a truck and you was lying out there in that gutter dying, and you had time to sing one song. Huh? One song that people would remember before you’re dirt. One song that would let God know how you felt about your time here on Earth. One song that would sum you up. You tellin’ me that’s the song you’d sing? That same Jimmy Davis tune we hear on the radio all day, about your peace within, and how it’s real, and how you’re gonna shout it? Or… would you sing somethin’ different. Somethin’ real. Somethin’ you felt. Cause I’m telling you right now, that’s the kind of song people want to hear. That’s the kind of song that truly saves people. It ain’t got nothin to do with believin’ in God, Mr. Cash. It has to do with believin’ in yourself.

At the memorial they showed a video clip of Gill and he said that this quote, this sentiment applies to us as writers, as filmmakers. What is the one film, the one story that would sum you up? That’s what you should be making.

Will do, Gill. Will do.