Friday, March 28, 2008

A Stroke of Luck

Hello All,

Today, I found the following story posted on Yahoo. I try to read as much as I can when it comes to screenwriting. This makes me think, finish the damn feature you're writing and get to your next script idea, because opportunities are out there. Enjoy.

New York subway worker in Hollywood's fast laneThursday March 27 8:45 AM ET
A New York City tollbooth worker in desperate need of a car wrote a crime thriller script titled "Brooklyn's Finest" last year. Now he finds himself rubbing shoulders with some of Hollywood's finest, including Richard Gere, Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke and director Antoine Fuqua.

Living in Brooklyn, Michael Martin had just totaled his car in an accident. While in physical therapy, he entered a screenwriting competition, hoping to win the prize money for his new set of wheels.

"I had never written a screenplay before," said Martin, who had studied film in college. "I thought, 'How hard can it be?' I was more like, 'If I win this, I can get a new car."'

His screenplay came in second but eventually ended up in a far better place: the doorstep of Warner Bros.-based producer who had been looking for a writer with an authentic and gritty voice to write a sequel to the 1991 gangbanger saga "New Jack City," which was in development at Warner Premiere, the studio's direct-to-DVD division. Impressed by "Finest," Mary Viola set out find the writer, who then had no agent.

Martin had moved out to L.A., staying at a downtown hotel, and hooked up with management representatives. He enjoyed a brief stint writing for Showtime's "Sleeper Cell," but homesickness overwhelmed him. He returned to New York and wound up back at the Transit Authority.
Meanwhile, in the hands of Viola, "Finest" became red hot, quickly attracting top talent. Gere and Cheadle are now polishing their badges to star in the ensemble police thriller, which Fuqua will direct for indie financier Millennium Films. Hawke is also coming on board to star, a move that will reteam him with Fuqua, who directed him to an Oscar nomination in "Training Day." Ellen Barkin is also booking a part.

The script almost brought Mel Gibson out of acting seclusion. He took a string of meetings, but things ultimately didn't work out.

The story, a sort of "Crash" meets "Training Day," is a dramatic ensemble with three intertwining story lines involving Brooklyn cops. "I worked for a bus company that got indicted by the Feds because of Mob connections," Martin said. "I could not have written 'Brooklyn's Finest' without that experience."

The movie is prepping for a May shoot in Brooklyn, in the very locations that inspired Martin to write the script. "Things are moving very fast right now. It's something I've been waiting a long time for," Martin said.

Fuqua's last movie was 2007's "Shooter," while Gere was last seen in Todd Haynes' "I'm Not There." Cheadle was in theaters last year with "Ocean's Thirteen" and "Talk To Me."
Martin, a new dad, was recently promoted to construction flagger within the Transit Authority, working inside the subway system. He is writing "New Jack City 2," often during his breaks in the subway tunnels.

He drives a new car.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Oh Yeah My Weekend in Pennslyvannia



I bet you thought I was going to forget to write about my weekend in Pennsylvania. Well, I didn't. I guess I've been waiting for the right time to reflect. Since Pennsylvania is the next key state in the Democratic primary I thought I tie in some of my observations of the Keystone state.


Karim and I visited the Bischwind Bed and Breakfast in Bear Creek, Pennsylvania during Presidents weekend. Many visitors have credited Bischwind as being a jewel in the crown of the Pocono Mountains. It was built by Albert Lewis in 1886 and has been refurbished by the Von Dron/English families for almost four decades. The Bischwind rooms are filled with antiques and collectibles. We stayed in the Autumn room, which came with queen size bed, a private bathroom, bathrobes, T.V., and VCR.
There was still ice on the ground from a storm earlier in the week and although it rained most of the weekend, I treasured the silence and sereneness of the environment. Waking up to a breakfast with cut up honey melon and orange, cheese omelette's (didn't eat), croissants, sausage (didn't eat), orange juice and coffee, plus a selections of desserts was a treat for me. It was also nice not to have to make the bed, that wasn't a big deal for Karim, since he doesn't make his bed. The whole weekend was a treat. We had nice meals, visited an antique shop, and checked out some of the surrounding towns.
Driving through the Pennsylvania countryside was both beautiful and somber. There were moments when the scenery off the roadway took my breathe away, but I also was taken back by blue collar towns that hadn't recovered from the loss of manufacturing industries. Many of the plants in this area closed down in the 1970s and 1980s and respectively 30 years later there are no new jobs opportunities or economic growth. Signs of neglect were seen in the up keep of land and homes. Were these folks lazy and didn't care or did they not have the money to keep up their properties? Various areas reminded me parts of the Naugatuck Valley.
This weekend trip was a getaway for me. A chance for Karim and I to spend quality time together and block out the rest of the world. It's a luxury I can't take for granted. I used to think this was a perk to be expected by middle class families, however I'm not so sure. Rising gas prices, volatility in the market, and the strong possibility of a recession have been eating away at the middle class dollar. So many families struggle to pay rising energy costs to heat their homes, increases in health care costs, or necessities like food and clothing. There are no getaways for these folks.
This country just marked the fifth anniversary of the U.S invasion and occupation of Iraq. The end of that war is still not known and depending on who gets in office, our nation just may be in Iraq for another 100 years. How bad do things have to get here before middle-class Americans like myself take notice? Do we need another Hurricane Katrina? Does gas need to be five dollars a gallon? Does the U.S need to strike Iran, before we say enough is enough? While there are more government controls, our nations must vulnerable populations continue to fall through the cracks.
Although I'm glad I indulged in a weekend getaway, I realize that this is not a likely option for many Americans. We're working to hard and that work maybe taking our attention from the many problems that face this nation and affect our lives. Action on the crucial issues are long overdue and it's clear we can't expect government to lead the charge for much needed change. It's up to us, however, how many of us are ready for the charge?

Inside the Outsider: A Film Review of The Outsiders of New Orleans: Loujon Press

Below is a recent film review I wrote on the documentary The Outsiders of New Orleans: Loujon Press. The review can can also be viewed at www.mirandamagazine.com, an online literary website.

What were your thoughts on the review. I welcome any feedback.

Meet Louise “Gypsy Lou” Webb, now in her nineties and on a street somewhere in the French Quarter, she’s wearing her signature black beret, a dazzling red turtleneck, with an eccentrically trimmed black over shirt and holding a cane. She sees a building where she and her late husband Jon Edgar Webb used to live, and stops to point out a tid bit fact about how they ended up in New Orleans. As her story unfolds you come to learn what it meant to be an outsider and how it affected artists like the Webbs.

New Orleans is the backdrop in Wayne Ewing’s, documentary, The Outsiders of New Orleans: Loujon Press. A city rich in history and architecture that is also known, as a southern mecca for food, music, and art was a haven for Louise and Jon as well as other artists. Ewing gives a brief historical perspective that touches on the reasons why New Orleans became a stomping ground for so many writers through the 1940s to the 1960s.


The story is easy to follow, the tone is bland, but don’t let that deceive you into thinking there’s nothing to draw you in. There are many interesting characters in this documentary and you’ll be introduced to them through Gypsy Lou. Ninety something and with a sharp, steadfast memory she strongly carries this film and is its heart and soul.

According to Louise, artists in New Orleans could live how they wanted to live; they made their own rules and did what they wanted to do. Through interviews, photos, and old film footage you’ll see that the Webbs were full-time artists who sacrificed for their art and lived “free.”

During the day she peddled watercolor painting on the sidewalks in the French Quarter. A local newspaper reporter nicknamed her “Gypsy Lou” because of her unconventional style or clothing. She welcomed the title. It suited her. At home, she and John worked long tiresome hours to publish Loujon Press in their cramped apartment. They produced books by Charles Bukowski and Henry Miller as well as edited and published the literary review the Outsider, an alternative to mainstream literature. She and Jon kept this routine for 19 years; taking their work with them when they relocated to other cities.

Gypsy Lou’s poignant memories of her late husband illustrate the depth and passion they both had for their craft. The two were inseparable and dedicated to one another. Jon, a short story writer, learned how to use a printing press during a three-year prison sentence, where he edited and published The New Day, a prison newspaper. After his release, Dial Press published his novel, Four Steps to the Wall and he made money on the side writing for detective magazines, but in 1961 his vision for the Beats and other literary outsiders became a reality with 3,000 copies of the Outsider, the first edition totaling 125 pages.

An examination of the craftsmanship of Louise and Jon’s work on the Outsider and other publications is also incorporated into the film. Professor Steve Miller, who teaches hand press publishing production at the University of Alabama, shows a printing press that was the same type Jon and Louise used. Today, students at the university learn the basics of printing on the same machine. Commentary from students and printing experts drive the point home that Louise and Jon exhibited an acute attention to detail and worked long hours to create their literary masterpieces.

There are many areas this documentary can delve into, but Ewing directorial instincts keep the film on track. The film maintains its focus on its narrator, Louise Webb and the history of publishing literary works like the Outsiders.

For those viewers who may be familiar with this subject, this documentary pays homage to Louise and Jon Webb, two dynamic, prolific, self-publishing artists, who set the bar high, for which they will be remembered. For those of you who come to the documentary with little or no knowledge of this subject, you’ll gain insight to Loujon Press, its founders, their history, and what it meant to be an outsider.

Back Tracking

Hello All,

I know it's been a while since my last posting. My apologies. I've been trying to catch up with course work. I'm meeting deadlines, but I would prefer if I wasn't rushing against deadlines. I can and should work more efficiently. I'm more than half-way through this semester. I'll be relieved when the middle of May is here, but before I can think of warmer weather and summer fun I have to keep my focus and get the work done. It's all about the work and I'm the only one who can do it. If it comes out half-ass I will only have myself to blame.

I would like to hang out a bit more with friends, but the activities we do don't change much. When I go out locally my options are movies, bars, sports bars, dinner, bars, and "city wannabe" clubs. Being a young twentysomething in Waterbury, CT leaves a lot to be desired. My saving grace are my interests in the arts, whether it be seeing plays, indie films, or my occasional visits to museums (something I should do more).

I have a couple more posts to write and need to purge my thought palette.

Don't forget I also welcome your comments. It would be nice it this became interactive.