Mistresses 403 Promo!

Promo for the first of two Mistresses episodes I directed – airs on ABC this Monday June 22 at 10pm Eastern/Pacific, 9 Central.

Tune in, five readers!

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January 2017.

In other news – just before I left for a few weeks of international travel, I got booked on Once Upon a TimeABC‘s great fantasy show that will be entering its sixth season. I’ll be directing that in January in Vancouver. Great characters, sets (both virtual and practical), costumes, and just a really cool world Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis (of Lost fame) have created. So glad I can be a small part of it.

In case you’re keeping score at home, that means I am (so far) booked on five shows this coming season: How to Get Away With Murder, The Catch, NCIS: New Orleans, Once Upon a Time and Scandal.

Pretty incredible, considering I directed my first one nineteen months ago. I’m going to keep enjoying the hell out of this for as long as it lasts.

Now back to writing.

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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.

The Future Looks Grimm

Okay, five-to-seven readers – I haven’t posted anything lately because we’ve been waiting to hear about some directing assignments for the fall so in the meantime I’m mostly just writing or telling people I’m writing. (I did manage to finish a script that we’re starting to show producers, but more on that in a future post.)

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There is one pretty great piece of news I can confirm – I’m going to be directing an episode of NBC’s Grimm this coming season. I’m really excited – I shadowed Norberto Barba on both SVU and Grimm where he is the Executive Producer-Director of their little production empire in Portland. Also, the show’s Co-Creator and Co-Showrunner David Greenwalt has been a mentor and a friend – we once developed and nearly sold a pilot together about ten years ago – so it’ll be a lot lot lot of fun playing around with those guys.

Not to mention, it’s a show I watch and really enjoy – the cast is great, the story is fun, and I’ll get a chance to work with some great visual effects, special effects, and stunt teams. I can’t wait … but I’ll have to because that’s not happening until January.

There is one additional piece of news – there’s another show that it looks like I’m slotted to direct, but I’m going to wait until it’s one hundred percent official before I share that one, just so I don’t jinx it. It’s hard to do too much writing with my fingers so firmly crossed, but I’m going to get back to it. Or tell people I’m getting back to it, which is much easier.

Now What?

Well, that was fun.

Last week, the second Law & Order: Special Victims Unit I directed aired as you know, my eight readers.

This time, while the East Coast broadcast went live, I spent that hour on Twitter watching the SVU writers and cast live tweet. It was amazing, in part that they, along with the #SVUDieHards out there, got #rectalprobeelectroejaculation trending, as well as #VarnishedEel. (Those two things make sense if you actually saw the episode.)

Anyway, yeah, that was pretty fun. Especially since I wasn’t actually watching the show, but I was “watching” people reacting to certain scenes as the hour went along. It was fascinating.

So now what? No episode on the horizon (though some are in the works, nothing officially booked yet) and only the vast expanse of the 2015 calendar ahead.

Well, it’s back to what I do in between actual assignments – writing. I have a feature script that is almost ready to show people after one small round of revisions. And another script with a partner that needs a rewrite as well.

We also have our Story of a Girl: India short project “Born Positive” that is still in post production 15 months or so later. Partially because we’re out of money and are considering a small crowd funding campaign.

And this weekend, I’m going to be on a panel at the Directors Guild talking about directing fellowships after my experience with NBC, ABC and Sony‘s.

So I guess that’s now what. Onward!

From the People Who Brought You the Playstation

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This cartoon depicting how I look while writing is terribly inaccurate in one major way: my computer has a flat screen monitor.

It appears I’m updating this space just about once a month these days. Seems like that is just the right amount of time for me to accumulate actual things to post here, given that I’m spending most of my days writing.

Speaking of, I just finished the first draft of the script I’ve been working on. It was a lot of fun to do and it’s a story I have wanted to write for several years now. I’m not trying to be coy by keeping its content or title secret, I just prefer to share that information when I’m ready to send it out to more than just my wife and my manager. It’s not there yet, though I have gotten some excellent notes from the latter (the former hasn’t had a chance to read it yet). So re-writing begins next week.

In other news, I’m a finalist for Sony Pictures Televisions Diverse Directors Program. It’s similar to the NBC Directing Fellowship and ABC Directing Fellowship, where as you know, my five readers, I was a fellow at one point in the recent past. This is Sony’s inaugural launch of their program and they had 450 applicants. They narrowed it down to 25 finalists and in the next few weeks they’ll select three people to shadow on Sony produced shows. Last week they had a kickoff event which was fun and I got to meet a lot of other great directors and executives, including a couple I knew from previous programs.

One thing that’s different in this Sony program is that they’re holding seminars for the finalists over the next few weeks with episodic directors, producers, network executives to share their knowledge and expertise of the television industry as it pertains to directors. That’s going to be pretty cool, like Film School 2.0: How it Really Works Out There.

Sony doesn’t have its own TV network so they produce shows that air on all the major broadcast and cable networks – including “The Black List” on NBC, “Masters of Sex” on Showtime, “The Goldbergs” on ABC. They recently finished “Breaking Bad” (AMC) and “Community” which is moving from NBC to Yahoo! (!) – so that’s a pretty neat slate of shows, which is why getting on Sony’s “good directors” list is a pretty good idea.

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I know this isn’t Sony Pictures Television’s logo, but isn’t this what Sony is best known for these days?

Anyway, we’ll see – glad I could make it this far already. Will share what I glean from my time as a Film School 2.0 Student.

Freedom is Minimized

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“The Burghers of Calais” by Auguste Rodin (1889). Rodin, nor his subjects, were ever distracted by the internet. Because of discipline.

Boy, it is really hard to update this blog when the only thing I’m doing is writing. The only excitement would be if I told you, my five readers, that today I used the letter “z” more than once.

Hence the first update in a month. I’m just plugging away at a feature script, the details of which I’ll fill you in on in the future when I’ve made more progress. Also I’ve been reading scripts, too – including one I really liked which is always inspiring.

But there one interesting tidbit to make updating this here weblog worthwhile. For the last few years I’ve been using an application called “Freedom” when I start to work on a script. The application irreversibly turns off the internet to my desktop computer (and my old laptop when I was using it) for a set period of time. If I just need a kick to start going, I’ll set it for 15 minutes, but lately I’ve been setting it for an hour because I’m getting too distracted by The Internet and its Shiny Objects.

So when I click on Freedom, the program starts, shutting down web access, and then I will press that “-” button in the upper right corner to hide the countdown clock. It then hides itself in the system tray with a dialogue balloon that says “Freedom is minimized.” I’m sure there was no intention to have that be ironic or funny in any way, but I find it hilarious every time I do it.

And I’m certain there is some other meaning to it – minimal freedom as I’m a slave to my computer, my script, or something – but each time I run the application I hear someone saying “Freedom is minimized!” in a Robocop-like voice and chuckle to myself each time. Yes, I’m 12 years old.

Okay, back to writing. I have nothing to lose but my chains.

Post Oscars Week Post

It’s post Oscars week, which means one thing of course – traffic is much better around the Hollywood-West Hollywood area.

Also, symbolically, it’s time to get back to work here in Hollywoodland. Enough play. I’ve been trying to keep up with a rigorous writing schedule, but it’s been going in fits and starts. This week, I’m hoping to finally finish this new draft of a pilot script that’s been in the works for a while now. Hopefully I’ll wrap it up this week.

In other news, I took part in a panel discussion at NBC this past Monday about the “Grimm” episode where I shadowed in December. It’s airing this Friday March 7, and the storyline features a myth from the Philippines and Filipino characters, which was really cool. The storyline heavily involves “Sgt. Wu” (Reggie Lee), one of the stars of the show who is Filipino-American. They had a screening for Comcast NBC Universal employees who are part of an Asian American alliance group and I answered questions, along with one of the guest stars, a Filipino-American staff writer and the NBC executive who oversees the show. It was fun – the best part was that I finally got to see the version of the episode with the full visual effects.

The creature in this episode is called an “aswang.” I won’t spoil how it preys or what it does (that Wikipedia link will) for those of you among my four readers who are interested in watching. But it’s really creepy and the episode will be especially unnerving for pregnant women. Yes, that’s intended to be a disclaimer. Check it out on Friday!

Okay, there’s my brief update before I dip back into storymaking.

Parking

This probably applies in a lot of industries, but where you get to park is directly correlated to your rank in the film world.

This past week I had a meeting at a studio with a TV network executive. I’m incredibly grateful whenever someone wants to talk to me about my work and about future work, so I want to be clear that I’m not complaining here. I arrived at the studio and (as I was warned could happen, probably because it’s pilot season) the guest spots were taken up. So I had to go park in the large crew/staff garage a couple gates away. And then, I continued upward and upward, past reserved spots for producers, cast members, security vehicles, production vehicles, car pool vehicles, until I arrived at an available space.

All of which was perfectly fine – except that it put me a couple minutes late. (I hate being late – but I should’ve arrived a little earlier since I was warned, so that’s probably on me, not on parking.)

The meeting went well, so no issues there. And none of this bothers me at all; I didn’t give it a second thought until just now. If you buy the premise that the distance you walk to your car directly correlates to your place in the pecking order of the industry, just note that I parked on Level 5 in the secondary garage. (Hey, I’m happy to at least be allowed to park at all, to be honest.)

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“Misael” from a scene in
“The Worst of the Worst.”

Okay, enough metaphor.

I’ve mostly been writing and procrastinating from writing. We did have this nice write up about our Yale Visual Law Project film, The Worst of the Worst, which is cool. It’s always nice when people say good things about your children.

Also, producer of the “Story of Girl” series Jonathan Smith wrote about it for the One Foundation, one of our big funders. (Recall I directed the Indian film in the series this past summer.)

That’s it for now. A new metaphor-laden post to come soon.

Reading, Writing and Applying

I had been making some pretty good progress re-writing a script, but have been recently derailed – but in a good way. A funding deadline for our Oak Creek documentary has suddenly upon us, so I took a day to re-write our previous application materials and tailor it for this, Sundance‘s development fund.

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This is the famous Shimla narrow gauge train we took in the mountains in northern India last summer. You decide on how relevant this is.

And then I was alerted to a new call for submissions to fund a short film. Now, I’ve made a good number of short films and don’t necessarily need to make another one. But this one is HBO, which means it will probably be well funded and a lot of fun, so I might as well give it a shot, right?

Also, it’s pilot season. Networks have ordered pilots to be picked up for series, so I have a good amount of them on my plate and I am going to try to read a bunch so at least I know what’s out there. I’m trying to get better at having my pulse on what’s going on in the industry, especially since I’m back in Hollywoodland for good. It’s important to do and yet it’s the thing I most put on the back-burner.

So that’s it – just readin’ and writin’ and applyin’ away, keeping the train going.

Management

So 2014 is off to a pretty good start. I’ve been trying to use a time management software app to help keep me on task and making sure I don’t waste time. It’s called “Timesheet” on Android and it’s been pretty useful. It would be flawless if it was able to reach up and smack me on the back of the head whenever I procrastinate. I hope that will be an added feature in the update.

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Notice how I’m using photos in posts this year? They will fluctuate between random and relevant.

So from time management to career management – I’ve added a new member to Team World Domination. Peter Meyer, long-time and successful manager and former agent is now also my manager, amazingly. It’s very exciting – Peter’s been in the industry for a long time and has some very good working clients in the business. And he takes on only a few clients, so I’m really honored he would come on board as both a manager and a mentor. Plans for world domination continue forward, unabated!

This past week, we also submitted an application for funding for the Oak Creek documentary. It’s the first of several such funding deadlines, so it was good to get one under our belt so we can use a similar format for future applications coming up.

Aside from that, spent this week re-writing a script that needs a push as well as updating a business plan for The Infected so we can hopefully get financing and make it happen.

Okay, back to writing/definitely not checking my Facebook page and Twitter feed.