How To Change Hollywood

I’ve recently been reading a great screenwriting blog hosted by John August, writer of Corpse Bride, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Big Fish, Charlie’s Angels, and Go, among others.

Recently he sent his assistant Matt to a Writers Guild Foundation event in Beverly Hills featuring Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman who wrote Star Trek.  Matt took notes and wrote a lovely little blogpost highlighting much of what he learned from the interview.

The comments on this blog post were also an entertaining read and I was motivated to respond to a commenter named Kevin who basically lambasted Orci and Kurtzman for making what he called “crap movies” that were “garbage” and “forgettable”.  Admittedly, an old and tired complaint.

Kevin wondered “why just being a writer-for-hire is enough for most screenwriters” and hoped that the internet and the development of a new distribution structure would make it possible for “intelligent” films to reach the masses.

There was some debate about the “system” of Hollywood and my comment (#62) came after many others had tackled the issue.  Here are my thoughts:

On How To Change Hollywood

Until a new distribution system is established via the internet – a way in which distribution can make a sufficient profit to fund an entire film of professional calibre – filmmakers will have to work within the current distribution system.  But what can we do if we’re tired of shallow blockbusters?

Some audiences want low-budget art films or intelligent dramas. Some audiences want blockbuster entertainment that is sometimes accused of being full of logic holes and shallow characters. Sometimes these filmgoers overlap in their preferences, but for the most part, I will consider them to be mutually exclusive for the sake of this argument.

Hollywood is not going to make oranges for apple eaters. Likewise, they’ll avoid selling apples to orange customers. To make an orange that tastes like an apple would simply confuse the marketplace! Apple-buyers want apples and orange-buyers want oranges!!

So what is hollywood to do? If they don’t want to dip profits which would affect shareholder value, they continue down their path of related diversification: make a broad range of films (some blockbusters, some dramas, some rom-coms, and a straight comedy or two). They have to keep making the variety of fruit that the marketplace is purchasing.

So how do we change what the marketplace is purchasing? The answer is: the filmgoer on the street in middle America must be the evangelist for intelligent entertainment. Hollywood can’t do it – they’re too busy trying to stay afloat in a volatile economy. They have to keep satisfying the marketplace. So that filmgoer must seek out the films they deem “worth” the $14.50 and share it with their friends. Share it on facebook. Blog about it. Email their friends. Organize a movie outing and support opening weekend of the kinds of films of which you’d like to see more!

Hollywood trends towards the films that get the biggest opening weekends. So if you’re an apple eater and want less oranges in the marketplace, gather all your friends and support opening weekends of ALL the apple films.

Disclaimer: I’m not tired of  shallow blockbusters. In fact, I loved Iron Man and was deeply satisfied by Star Trek. I also loved Dan in Real Life and Oscar-nominated The Garden. I also like all kinds of fruit.

These Exciting Days

Here’s a little update on what’s happening in my home these days.

WRITING

I’ve been writing!

I just completed the first draft on a screenplay that I’ve been writing for a producer in San Diego. Woot! I’m gonna get notes tonight and then I’ll start revisions. It feels good to complete the first draft of another screenplay. And it feels great to be wiring for someone who is paying me. It feels like having climbed to the top of one end of a mountain range.  Woohoo! I’m at the top! But now I know that I have a whole mountain range (of revisions) to travel to get to the end -a script that’s ready for production.

But this process so far has been a real joy. Why? Other than the fact that I’ve really jived with this producer and he gives good notes, I’ve enjoyed it because it’s been an organized process. We started with a story idea and fleshed it out into the 8-point story structure.  Then I fleshed that out into a 30-beat outline. Then he had notes. Then I fleshed it out into a step outline (about 67 “scenes”). Then he had notes. And a few others had notes.

And we talked about those notes. Then I took that outline and wrote the script!

It was just a healthy rewarding writing process! And in case I haven’t mentioned it before, I love the re-writing process. So I’m even looking forward to that.  Yay!

…DUNCAN CHRISTOPHER

Our home has a third member these days.

Justin Monroe has been our half-time resident, because we’re editing Duncan Christopher at Ryan’s at-home edit suite (i.e. Our Living Room). Justin (the director of Duncan Christopher) shows up in the morning with cappuccinos for all three of us (yum!) and stays all day. I make them (Ryan and Justin) lunch and then I make them dinner (most days). I have to make it for myself so I might as well make it for them too, eh? Ah well.

The film is coming together.  They’re very close to a director’s cut. Exciting! Then the rest of the producers (including me) will weigh in and we’ll start the refining process.

But it’s looking good!

VACATION!

Ryan and I are leaving on Saturday morning for a whole week at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida with Ryan’s family!!  We are so excited!  It’s my first time there since I was seven years old!  Ryan was there last in 1999 I think.

It’s going to a fun, relaxing time.  We’ve got a park-hopper pass and we’ve paid for our meals up front and all that jazz.  I’m even thinking about not bringing my laptop for the sake of relaxation. But I’ll have my iPhone. So I can still blog and facebook and email.  I’m not that free from technology.

THE FUTURE?

When Ryan and I get back from Florida, he’ll have more work to do on the film.  And I’ll have more writing waiting for me as well as some headshots to take (of other people).  At some point soon I’ll get my own headshots taken.  But that’s future-stuff.

After that, we don’t know!  More editing for Ryan?  More writing for me?  More producing for both of us!?  Exciting times!

Writing!

I’ve been writing!  And I just completed the first draft on a screenplay that I’ve been writing for a producer in San Diego.  Woot!  I’m gonna get notes tonight and then I’ll start revisions.  It feels good to complete the first draft of another screenplay.  It feels like having climbed to the top of one end of a mountain range.  Woohoo!  I’m at the top!  But now I know that I have a whole mountain range (of revisions) to travel to get to the end -a script that’s ready for production.

But this process so far has been a real joy.  Why?  Other than the fact that I’ve really jived with this producer and he gives good notes, I’ve enjoyed it because it’s been an organized process.  We started with a story idea and fleshed it out into the 8-point story structure.  Then I fleshed that out into a 30-beat outline.  Then he had notes.  Then I fleshed it out into a step outline (about 67 “scenes”).  Then he had notes.  And a few others had notes.

And we talked about those notes.  Then I took that outline and wrote the script!

It was just a healthy rewarding writing process!  And in case I haven’t mentioned it before, I love the re-writing process.  So I’m even looking forward to that.  Yay!

Fall Down Go Boom: 5 Ways to Reduce Acute Inflammation Naturally

…need anti-inflammatory.

Today I was out for a quick run (20 minutes, 2 miles) and about 1/4 of the way, I hit a crack and went flying, tumbling and rolling across the pavement.  I was okay.  My hip hurt a little and my shoulder was scratched up, but I finished my run and felt fine.

However, about halfway through the afternoon my hip started aching.

I knew from my time spent with a great physiotherapist in Glendale that while inflammation serves a purpose, it also can hinder the healing process.

So I went lookin’ on one of my favourite food/health websites for some answers.

  • Here’s a post on the great effects of olives on the body, one of which is as an anti-inflammatory.
  • Here’s one about tea and its anti-inflammatory properties (among others).
  • Here’s list of foods that help reduce inflammation in the short term.
  • Here’s a list of ways in which to reduce inflammation over the long term.
  • And here’s a list of medication alternatives.

So after reading quickly through these posts, I promptly went to the kitchen and downed two aged garlic pills and four green olives stuffed with jalapeño peppers.  Yum!

I’d rather eat olives than down some nsaids any day!

Cafe Beaujolais

Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 13.46.04.pngRyan and I had dinner recently at Cafe Beaujolais in Eagle Rock.  It was delightful.

This place used to have a reputation for rude waiters and slow service.  But it seems to have improved in the past few months.  Indeed, the current Yelp! reviews attest to its popularity:

“…on a Friday evening, in a sleepy little section of Eagle Rock, you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting a young urban hipster.”

And the place was truly full when we arrived (about 9 PM); but with only one group ahead of us, we only had to wait about 10 minutes for a table.  We were prepared for slow service and some attitude, but the waiters seemed to be going out of their way to be nice.  Seems they have successfully adapted to American sensitivities.

They boast real French everything. The waiters, who are French, wear t-shirts that say, “Everything French, even the attitude.” Each of them look like some famous actor, which was odd.  There was French Jake Gyllenhaul, French Michael Cera, French Karl Urban, and French Johnny Depp.

While we were waiting, one couple left and I noticed French Karl Urban, who seemed to be the Head Waiter, asked them if they enjoyed their experience. Their response was something like, “It wasn’t quite horrible before, but it was much better tonight. And as always, the food was amazing.” It seemed like those two were regulars to whom French Karl Urban attributes much taste.

My favourite was cute little French Michael Cera, who brought us bread and water.  He bustled around that place doing lap after lap, topping off everyone’s water, bussing dishes and resetting tables.  He was ridiculously cute and focused.

I wanted to pinch his cheeks.

I had asparagus soup (the best I’ve ever tasted). I appreciated that our waiter, French Johnny Depp, went out of his way to ensure that I was aware there was no dairy or sugar in the soup – just the veggies, chicken stock and some spice. Very thoughtful. Ryan had the French Onion Soup. It was the best French Onion Soup that I’ve had anywhere. And I’ve had French Onion Soup all over North America.

For our entrees, Ryan had the rack of lamb. It was perfect. I had filet of beef flambe. It was awesome. Cooked just like I’d asked for – medium. Tender on the inside and crispy on the outside. Great flavour! It came with scalloped potatoes au gratin and perfectly cooked asparagus and carrots. Lovely.

We didn’t have dessert but I was watching the waiters, especially French Jake Gyllenhaul, bring some excellent-looking desserts out from the kitchen. Most obvious was the plethora of empty crème brûlée dishes distributed throughout the restaurant.

Our waiter, French Johnny Depp, said, “bonjour,” when we arrived and “cava?” when asking how our food was. I took great delight in answering, “Salut!” and “Cava bien!” And “bonne soir!” as we excited, while he hollared after us, “Merci, Bonne soir, au revoir.”

Truly delightful.

 

FOOD BLOGS

I have a blogroll of food blogs (and healthy living) that I check daily.  I love the ideas and encouragement as well as challenges that that I get from the women (and men) that host these blogs.  Here’s the list:

Here are a few more resources:

The internet can help us become healthier?  Who knew!?

HOMEMADE NUTELLA

homemade-nutella-1

Homemade Nutella (aka Chocolate Hazelnut Spread)

3 cups raw hazelnuts
3 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tsp stevia (or to taste)
1 tbsp oil (maybe more)

Roast the hazelnuts for 10 minutes at 350’F on a clean cookie sheet.  Allow to cool.

Remove paper-thin shells (just whatever comes off easily).  If you leave them on, the spread is bitter.  But it’s not worth the stress of trying to get them all off.  Just remove what comes off easily.

Let the roasted hazelnuts sit overnight (I have found that I get a smoother spread if I let them sit.  You can still make them while they’re warm, though.

Place roasted hazelnuts in the bowl of a food processor.  I use a 12-cup Cuisinart.  Process at full speed for about 5 minutes or until the nuts begin to clump like a cookie dough.

Add the cocoa powder and stevia.  Process until the mixture is evenly dark.

Drizzle the oil into the mixture.  I have been using olive oil.  Start with the first tablespoon.  Mix well.  Does the mixture have a spreadable texture now?  If not, add another 1/2 tablespoon.  Now?  Keep adding a little oil until the mixture has your prefered spreadable consistency.  I’ve found that about 2 tbsp of oil does it for me.  But it depends on the nuts!

I use this spread on rice cakes, on toast, with pretzel sticks, mixed with yogurt, over raspberries and just on a spoon!  It’s so yummy!

WW Points = 1 point per tablespoon

P.S. I took this picture when I was still putting only 2 tbsp of cocoa in the mixture.  It should look a little darker.

4-24-2011 – UPDATE: I’ve been using coconut oil to make this. It adds a much better flavour than olive oil.