Sunday, April 30, 2006

Men of their Times Rewrite...Sorta...

With the NBC/NAACP Fellowship, I had to unexpectedly go through Men of their Times. It took all weekend, but I finished. It wasn't really a rewrite, but I saw things I could fix immediately and did so. For some reason, Final Draft had corrupted my script, so I had to go through it line by line.

Next on the list is to read a script sent to me for a possible polish or rewrite. I'll know when I'm done reading it. I have to finish that damn author's questionaire from Thunder's Mouth ( I HATE questionaires) because I'm WAY overdue. And then I need to work on Yardies. I need to get to the end of Act One by the end of the week. Oh, and I'm doing some Money Shot work on Thursday.

It's back to the grind.

Saturday, April 29, 2006


This morning, Langston and I walked with my Fraternity at the March of Dimes WalkAmerica event. Here are a couple of photos...

Impromptu Rewrite...

I was informed that I've been nominated by the screenwriting facuty as a finalist for an NAACP/NBC Screenwriting award. I have to attach my script (Men of Their Times), but I'm glad I took a look at it. Somehow, the formatting was corrupted, and I've had to go back through it. That's created a rewrite time that has been extremely beneficial. It's the first time I've looked at the script since the end of the last quarter and I can see the errors. So I've been cleaning them up. The script and ap are due May 3rd, so I don't have time to waste.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Peter Guber's Class...

Each time I attend Peter Guber's class on new technology, I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm making Model T cars today, and next week, the media industry will be flying spaceships to Mars. Meaning, the big studio system of paying stars 20mil for a terrible movie is about to go down the drain. Yep, it's about to go down the drain. Like Communism, the movie industry is about to collapse onto itself, under the weight to chasing that elusive big hit. That mega blockbuster which pays for all of the crap they regularly produce. Tentpole's are what the industry calls them. Lords of the Rings meets The Titanic. One or two billion in sales worldwide. That lightening strike that makes stockholders happy, studio heads buy bigger breasts for their trophy wives, and a finer grade of drug for the talent.

But I think new media is about to kill all of this. Not with a knife thrust to the heart, but with tiny cuts. Small as paper cuts, but at strategic places in the business plan. Me? I'm hedging my bets both ways. I'll milk the established system and then use the cash they give me to move on into the 21st century. Cause no one ever got rich working for someone else. Unless you were the CEO of an oil company.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Getting Stuck In...

I'm a huge English football fan, having started watching Manchester United games back in 1992. One term that you'll hear on a broadcast is about how a player will "get stuck in". That is a term that means a player is fully committed to tackling, or contact, or hustling. It's to be admired. One of my fellow UCLA screenwriters gets stuck in. He just held a party for first years and we noted how he has to be the hardest working writer among us. He's already on page 85 of his script, and is probably beginning to work on the next one. I'm on page 12. He's stuck in, fully committed, and getting it done, while I'm really, well I'm bullshitting. I keep rewriting the same lines, over and over, versus getting the script done. So, look at the progress meter for the next week. I'm going to write ten pages per day over the next week. I want to write the script so that I have enough time to do a little bit of rewriting before the end of the quarter. It's time for me to get stuck in.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

What I'm Listening To...

I'm a HUGE Amel Larrieux fan and now that she has a new album out, I'm in bliss. I just heard the first song on her new album, and I'm going to run out and get it tomorrow morning.

Friday, April 21, 2006

California Science Center...

We had a family day today, taking in the Superheroes show at the California Science Center (it's spring break for the kiddo, and he was getting a bit stir crazy). It was cool watching Langston get excited by all of the scientific experiments. And then, as Spiderman's biggest fan (as told by Langston), the Superheroes exhibit was cool as we could test the strength of a spider web, and about a thousand other things. Two pics as Spiderman and the Incredible Hulk, and it was off to the California Pizza Kitchen.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Weight Loss Redux...

I've plateaued a bit in the weight loss quest. I started at 226lbs, and now I'm 212lbs. Good. My goal is to get to 205lb, and toned. I haven't been to the gym for a week or so, and I feel a bit bloated. I'm not eating badly, but I'm not eating well, meaning that my meal plan is all wrong. I'm snacking WAY too much on Kashi bars and water, rather than eating full meals. So I'm going to get back working out four times a week, with about a 1000 crunches and 1000 pushups per day. I'm trying to see if I can get down to 205lbs in the next two weeks, and lose another pant size. It actually makes me a better writer for some reason.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Howard Suber is the MAN!

Okay, we have a professor at UCLA named Howard Suber, and he is a GOD. Pure and simple. G.O.D. He teaches a film structure class that breaks down, well, film. It's hard to explain why it's good, but it's like someone is explaining to you that you've been speaking English all of your life, but there's a secret language called English 2.0, and this language opens your world to a whole new meaning. That's what Suber does. I'm not a film guy. I'm a writer who is becoming a film guy. And Suber is explaining what I'm seeing beyond the flickering of the images and dialogue. As I listen to him, I'm writing notes and then making adjustments to my Yardies script. If I ran UCLA TFT (as though they'll ask me), I would make Howard MANDATORY for every entering screenwriter. The first class they take. And then, they can go about writing scripts.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Types of UCLA Film School Students...

Since I'm getting close to the end of my first year at UCLA, I can see that there are three types of UCLA film school students (at least in the screenwriting program). There are those who will go to film school, work on their scripts a bit after graduation, and then decide that writing isn't for them. There's also the type who will work exclusively on screenwriting, and will either sell scripts or get a job in the industry. And then there's the third type of which I belong. The third type want to sell scripts, yes, but they also are interested in every aspect of entertainment content. Yes, content. I know it sounds unromantic, but I think that the faster writers realize that they are in the content biz, the faster they'll be able to exploit their talents for mobile, Internet, gaming, etc. that goes way beyond the silver screen. In my producer classes, there's a small cadre of writers who are the third type. I have a feeling that we'll be doing business long after the first two types stop working in the industry.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Nickname for British Police...

Does anyone know a derogatory nickname for British Police beyond the stereotypical "Bobbies"? I know The Bill, but if anyone has other nicknames, particularly when it comes from the Black British community, I'd appreciate it. I need it for my Yardies script.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Deleted A Brother...

I started my Yardies script and realized I needed to delete a character. I had my protag, Biko, working with his brother Tambo. However, when I started writing, I soon realized that I was making Biko weaker by giving Tambo attributes Biko should have. At first, I did the split characters for the purpose of constant tension, Biko likes chocolate, Tambo vanilla, Biko goes up, Tambo down, etc. but it didn't work. There are other areas for Biko to have conflict without a cheap addition. So Tambo got wacked on Page One.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Disneyland on Easter Weekend...MADNESS

Brother in law brought fam to Disneyland. We decided to go too. Forty five million other people (estimate) decided to visit Disneyland too. My feet feel bad.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Yardie Story...

The one flaw in our 434 advanced screenwriting system is that we don't get a bunch of time to flesh out our stories and characters. We only have ten weeks to complete our scripts, so that means you can sometimes find yourself a bit stuck if you haven't plot everything correctly. Last week, we read our stories in class, and luckily, we ran out of time before getting to mine. My Yardies story was okay, but not at all what I wanted it to be. And reading it would have exposed how incomplete it was. But during my journey from Northern Michigan, I had a lot of time to flesh out the story to my satisfaction. It now makes complete sense. I wanted a different type of gangster story and I think I've done that. Now, I'm going to start writing character sketches for the characters.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Marquette, Michigan...

I'm not saying that Marquette, Michigan is located at the end of the world, but you can sure see it from here. I took an overnight flight to Chicago, then a puddle jumper to Green Bay this morning, and then drove four hours to Marquette, Michigan, not Wisconsin. I spoke on writing and had a good time, but I have to get back in the car in only three hours from now, and drive back to Green Bay to get on a 6:40am flight to Chicago, which will go to San Fran, and then home to LA. So I'll be knocked out on the plane. Ahh, the life of an author.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

My New Publisher...

My publisher for Money Shot non-fiction version, Thunder's Mouth, sent me an author's questionaire. I put it away and said I'd do it later. And then it became even more later. Now it's due tomorrow. You'd think that it would be short, but NOOOO, this questionaire is a BEAST. They're going to use this questionaire for their publicity, but they ask so many questions, I wouldn't be surprised if they asked for my first born child. So that's on the agenda to get done tonight.

I've fleshed out the first draft of my Yardie story, and I'll continue to mess with it over the next two days. I'm going to do a character sketch, detailing the physiology, psychology, and sociology of my characters. Also, I'm going to add the ethics of each character. It is assumed that gangsters are bad, but the reason we like The Godfather characters is because they have an ethos, family, loyalty, respect, etc. that keeps them "ethical" within their own point of view. So I need to know the ethics of my characters. That should make them more well rounded and less two dimensional.

Remember BlackCafeLit? I'm working with my fellow UCLA film school student MK Asante on it. We're shooting a pilot over the next few weeks, and I think we have a winner.

In the NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT: About a month ago, I pitched a reality show that went really well, except it didn't sell. I read yesterday that Steven Spielberg is producing (with Mark Burnett) a reality show that is EXACTLY the show I pitched. I'm not talking kinda like it. Or sorta like it. EXACTLY like it. What does that tell me? One: That there are no original ideas, but just original ways of doing the same old thing. TWO: Ideas don't happen in a vaccum. And THREE: Whereas the name "Lawrence Ross" has no cache in this town, the name "Steven Spielberg" can sell damn near anything. I gots ta get me some name recognition.

Whose Story is this...

One of the most essential questions a screenwriter has to answer is: Whose story is this? That's not an easy thing to answer until you start writing the story. At UCLA, we normally write a two page treatment, and that helps to flesh out who is the protag and who's the antag. In my gangster tale, It's between the main gangster and the guy who's after him. I think I'm going to lean toward making the gangster the protagonist. I'm a fan of the anti-hero, and tend to hate films where we watch the trials and tribs of the police. So, this is going to be Biko's story.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Schedule Set...

I've got my schedule pretty much set, and it worked out PERFECTLY. Three of four classes are evening classes, all of them are spread out from Monday through Thursday, with nothing on Friday. BEAUTIFUL. Now I can work on Money Shot during the days. I couldn't pitch my first choice 434 Tim Albaugh because of a class conflict, BUT I got his protegee who seems mad cool. So we'll see how it goes. About to work on the two page treatment for Yardies, which I just can't wait to write. In the three pitch sessions I attended, it seemed like 90% of the pitches were comedies. Yikes. I like comedies, but damn, that's a lot. That said, I do want comedic elements in my gangster script. And I'm going to do my best to add them.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Okay, for some reason, UCLA creates scheduling conflicts with a LOT of popular classes. I'm taking four classes this quarter (gotta get some bang for my $5000 bucks). They are great classes. Peter Guber on Monday. On Thursday, I have a class on the Art of Presentation with the former prez of William Morris. That's cool. Now's the problem. There's a legendary prof named Howard Suber who's teaching a class on Film Structure. It's pretty much a MUST class to take at UCLA. But the problem is that I have a 434 prof I wanted to pitch on Wednesday. UCLA scheduled the classes at the same time. So I had to make a decision, and decided to go with pitching two 434 profs on Tuesday. Now I'm actually happy with the 434 profs I pitched to on Tuesday, but I hate being limited. Anyway, I'm tired as hell. Tomorrow, I help get the showcase scripts sent out. After that, I'm going to sleep in.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Good News and Start of the Quarter...

Anita Diggs, my editor at Thunders Mouth, has agreed to keep my original title for my non-fiction black porn book. So it will be called MONEY SHOT. My agent is contacting Kensington so that we can change the name of the fiction version. That's good news to me because the non-fiction had always been called Money Shot in my brain, but Thunders Mouth didn't like it. But, with a change of heart, we're good to go.

The quarter begins tomorrow, and I start pitching 434s on Tuesday. I have a couple of production classes I'm going to take, including one with producer Peter Guber (never heard of him: go to IMDB or check out Sunday Morning Shootout on AMC). That's going to be a cool class because normally Guber's classes are restricted to those in the Producer's program only.

My 434 pitch for Yardies is very solid. The next thing is to actually write the complete story. I want a gangster script, but with really unpredictable twists.

Also this week, the scripts are due for the Screenwriting showcase. I'm helping to get them together and then deliver them to industry execs. Each one of the screenwriters in the program had to call folks in the industry to see if they'd judge our scripts, but my list was a stone cold dud. Not ONE of the people on my list would agree. I felt snakebit. So at least I can get these scripts together and delivered.

I have another script that I completed for the Humanitas award. We have to write a comedy pilot and the prize is an internship on a show. I wrote a pilot about funny Jesuit priests called OUR FATHERS. As a twelve year Catholic school vet, I know funny priests. Insert your own joke.

Called Lex about Money Shot. I have class three days a week, and from now on, I'm going to spend the off days working on Money Shot. With my non-fiction books, I have to feel a bit of pressure before I get interested in writing it. I have seven months before MS is due, so now I'm feeling the proper pressure.

With two books coming out around the same time, I'm thinking about how I want to promote them. I think I'm going to eshew a book tour and go with spending money on a REALLY good publicist. I find that doing a telephone tour when the book first comes out is much better than spending cash signing books. I SWEAR that book signings are overrated when it comes to promoting books, but they are a necessity.

Lastly, I have two lectures to do. I fly out to Northern Michigan University on April 12th, and then I speak at San Jose State in late April.

Lot of stuff to do...Let's rock and roll!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Ahh, to hell with it...

Changed my 434 script yet again. Free Love is something I'll have to work on this summer. It's a pretty complex story and it's a good one, but I need to hone it and I don't have enough time to do that before pitching next week. So I'm going to move on to my gangster story. That's much more developed.