Wednesday, May 19, 2010

We Love It...Now Just Change Everything

Crazy Bollywood project has been creeping along at such a slow pace we've had to push back our shoot dates till later in the year. The biggest hold-up has been the script which is stuck in development hell. Investors love it...they just want to change everything.

I was initially bummed by having to wrap my head around big story notes (some sound, some insane), until I came across this Vulture article on the strange evolution of the spec script "Nottingham". The article focuses on the tensions between Crowe and director Ridley Scott but more compelling is how the 2006 Ethan Reiff & Cyrus Voris script that was loved around town morphed into Russell Crowe's tepidly received "Robin Hood". Basically, the development process stripped the original spec of its hook ("Nottingham" was told from the point of view of the Sheriff of Nottingham with him being a good guy and Robin Hood kind of a jerk), a change that shifted the project's tone and humor towards a more straight, taciturn "Gladiator" style retelling. Read the full story here and marvel at the star-centered development process that takes a cute concept, attracts a star and super-director combo, and then proceeds to excise all that's original about the script in successive rewrites at a cost of $6.7 million.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Back in the Big City Blues

Phooosh. That's me blowing off the cobwebs.

Um...Is anyone still there?

All of January and most of February went by with me up to my eyeballs in day job work. Shooting and editing and making industrial videos, picking up a few new clients, all the while being sustained by the fact that we (me and a tiny crew) were heading to Trinidad in February to shoot carnival for the crazy Bollywood movie.

I'm back now and having spent the last decade of my life passionately defending living in New York to skeptical Third Worlders, I'm strangely bummed to be here. It could be just the winter blahs. It could be the crummy drive from JFK airport to my Brooklyn pad, a drive lined with sidewalks of dirty snow. Man, from the time the taxi dropped us off, I was ready to chase him, flag him down and head back to the Caribbean.

Or maybe this isn't about winter. Maybe it's about the desire to get immersed in making something more creative than HR videos. At any rate, tonight when I heard Alicia Keys crooning Empire State of Mind, Part Two on the radio, spinning all that honey toned love, I did not "put one hand in the air for the big city", I yelled at her to shut the hell up and changed the damn station.

Photo by Adrian Miles

Sunday, January 10, 2010

In the Midst of Battle, a Pause

Yesterday I had lunch with the creative partner on the documentary project that is on hiatus right now. Lately I've been battling pessimism and doubt on the crazy Bollywood project. Our time is running out and because, in the words of Nora Ephron I'm supposed to be the bravest one in the room, though my public face is calm, inside I have raging moments of panic. But it was nice to meet with someone in the same boat, going through the financing dance, finding the money in the same diligent dog work that we're doing. It's weird. I know other writers/writer-producers going through the same thing but most of them let the panic show. Perhaps cause they're less experienced. (This is my director friend's second narrative feature...he's got a feature, and a couple of docs and shorts behind him.)

I'm often at the other end of the conversation, listening and trying to be positive. (The first time writer/producer gripes, "My director isn't getting back to me," "My producer is totally giving me the brush off", "This investor's been sitting on the pot so long it's time for him to shit or get off"), and this brief lunch in this city, this check in with someone I haven't seen in so long who can laugh off the slings and arrows and just keep doing his thing was a real tonic. A modicum of sanity. Fix the script, get the talent, get the money. These things are doable. One foot in front of the other. Onward.