Sunday, May 27, 2007

Time to declutter...

We've lived in this apartment for just under two years, and boy can you start collecting stuff. But now, it's starting to get on my nerve. So I'm going to starting working to declutter. Goodwill donations, tossing other things, etc. are on the agenda.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Finished my rewrite...

I finished part one of my rewrite of THE BESTSELLERS. I started at page one and completely tore it apart. What's funny is that it SO doesn't resemble the first draft I wrote in my 434. When I read that draft, it's almost like I was trying to not make the script work. I had reality show elements, gimmicks like chaining the two protags together, yada yada. All of that was completely unnecessary to the story I wanted to tell, which was two women who learn and grow while on the road.

I've been writing full time since 1995, and I've always been able to recognize a piece of writing that was valuable. Whether it is a magazine article, or a book idea, or something else, I recognize that this is the script that will accomplish post film school goal number one: get representation. Yes, I think this script should be produced, but who knows if someone is interested in my spec. That said, like my boy in Layer Cake says, create a plan and stick to it. My plan is to send this script out on June 18th to two of my contacts. We'll see their reaction.

In the meantime, I'm going to let my brain rest for about a week. Then, I will go back through the second and third acts and clean up formatting, dialogue, mistakes, typos, etc. Then I'll let me brain relax again and then tackle it again.

In the meantime, tonight I'm writing my observation articles for Iconoculture, completing a brief article on Mixed Martial Arts and inner city youth for Icono, and then prepping for a late week advisory call.

Also, I'm completing a very nice sized order for A Berkeley t-shirt store has ordered a bunch of t-shirts and the owner is mad cool. A few more like his and I may be able to fund a film project or two during the summer.

Lastly, I'm going to start my next book proposal, and then complete Divine Nine update. I have a very special and famous person doing the forward to my update, and I can't tell you how grateful I am. She's just the best.

I'm just starting to plot out my fall book tour. It'll be a mix of Divine Nine lectures, Money Shot lectures, and regular book signings. With Skin Game and Money Shot coming out a month a part, I may just wait until October to start my tour. I have our cool Iconosphere convention in Miami, so I have to schedule around that, but with school done, I will have a lot more time.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Ah man...

Michael Jordan used to say that when he was in a rhythm, the basket looked huge and he couldn't miss. Well, I ain't Michael Jordan, but I am in a complete flow with my rewrite of THE BESTSELLERS. For the first time in two years, I know that my script is reading like a film. I'm not hitting plot points just for the hell of plot points, because I know my characters, and the character objectives and actions are driving the story. No other script I've written has flowed like this. I'm on page 62, and I'm quite sure that this script will come in around 110 pages. The last two scripts, I was gutting my scripts TOO much, and losing a lot. I think 110 is the right length.

I think working on the never ending Showcase rested my brain, and allowed the characters to introduce themselves to subconscious. I had enough time to hear their voices, figure out how they'd interact, and why they were in this universe in the first place. So when I sat down to write them, I could look at my first draft and understand where things went to hell.

I'm betting that I get to the end of the second act tonight, and not because I have to, but because I feel like it. And that's a great feeling.

About twenty days til graduation.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Honey's Kettle Fried Chicken...

I grew up in Inglewood, hence the title of this blog. And way back in the day, there was this little fried chicken franchise called Golden Bird. It was a batter fried concept sort of like another chicken shack called Pioneer. But Golden Bird was special because it was black owned, at least that's what my family told. Anyway, Golden Bird has gone the way of the dodo, but there is this guy who used to run one, and now he has opened his own chicken place. It's in Culver City and it's called Honey's Kettle Fried Chicken.

Now, I've had a taste for Golden Bird, so I decided to take a trip to Culver City to try his chicken. Here are a few things to note:

1. When you go to an ethnic restaurant, and you don't see any ethnics, turn around and leave. Seriously. I walked into Honey's and there wasn't a black person in sight. That is not a good sign. It's okay to have a mix of folks, but if you go into a Mexican food restaurant, and Mexicans are buying, you've to think this might be a bit suspect.

2. I look at the menu and I notice something else. The prices. Now I'm sympathetic to black businesses having higher prices, mainly because we pay higher rates, get less financing, etc. But these prices were HIGH. But I bought it anyway.

3. The wait. Now the restaurant looks great, but they were obviously down two staff. That explains why it took twenty minutes to get a three piece. TWENTY MINUTES. It was three piece of chicken. Six minutes per chicken. The chicken was just sitting there, waiting to be placed in the paper basket.

4. Finally, I ordered a peach pie which looked better than it actually was.

The verdict on the chicken? It was good, but not great. Tasted just like Golden Bird, but maybe that was the problem. What my taste buds liked at ten is different than today. Maybe you can't go back home again.

Friday, May 18, 2007


I'll announce the Showcase scores this evening, and that's going to be funny. It's always nice to see people happy about their writing. On Monday, I'm going to spend the day visiting all of the judges who helped us. Our showcase judges were absolute troopers.

Now, I can get back to writing. The Divine Nine update is in a month, and I need to finish the page edit for Money Shot. In fact, that's overdue. The Showcase pretty much took me out of my regular work. I'm itching to write.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

This week...

Alright, a bunch o' stuff.

1. The Showcase contest is in its death throes. I'm just waiting for the final score sheets which should be in on Wednesday. After that, it's meet with the producers, have them go over the sheets and my inputs, calculate the winners and honorable mentions, and then announce on Thursday or Friday. Did I mention that we're three weeks from graduation?

2. I have to write a paper for my crit studies course. It will be the last paper I ever write in college, so it better be good.

3. Still waiting on my check for my Divine Nine update. The way it looks now, I'll receive my front end check right when the back end is due. C'est la vie.

4. Oh, big news. The imprint Thunder's Mouth, which is publishing my non-fiction Money Shot, is being dissolved by the parent publisher Perseus. On the surface, it doesn't have an affect on my book, since Perseus says that it will publish all of Thunder's Mouth fall books (mine). But I do feel sad that it looks like my editor Anita Diggs will lose her job. I'm not sure if she's going to take another position with the company, so I need to give her a call.

5. Doing a re-write of The Bestsellers. Killed a lot of gimmicky things in the scripts, like a reality show angle, and made it more into a women bonding script. I like it. Been watching Capote and The Devil in... for structure, character development. Writing scripts without vomiting them in a 434 is kind of nice. Your brain relaxes if you know where the story is going, versus having to pound it out as fast as you can.

6. Did I mention that I will sing Hallelujah when the Showcase is over?

7. As for the diet, still the best damn diet on earth. Eating about 1500-1750 calories a day and dropping about two pounds a week without moving an inch. If I could only get to the gym, I would be amazing.

8. Took the wifey and son to Aunt Kizzy's for Mother's Day brunch. Met Lou Gossett, who engaged Langston for a bit of banter. If Lou had been wearing a Fairly Odd Parents hat, Langston would have been excited, but he wasn't. April and I were thrilled, although I wish I would have had the guts to have accompanied him to the Aunt Kizzy buffet, where when the server asked him what he wanted, I would have jump up and said, "Grits DUMMY!"

More later.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Being Contest Producer...

for the UCLA Screenwriters Showcase sucks big time. I have judges on their way to Cannes, dealing with pilots, upfronts, moving offices and turning off their phones, etc. and they all have to be found in order to get their scores. We're a week overdue, and I've been working at this for ten straight days. I can't wait until this is over and done with. Three weeks until graduation.

Monday, May 07, 2007

What's Up...

April and I took Langston to UCLA so that he could learn how to roller skate. Yeah, I know he's eight and normally this would have happened years before, but when you're mostly an urban family living on a street where people like to drive 70 mph in a 35 mph zone, well, you don't tend to take the kid out to skate out there. Plus, for two years I've been doing nothing but writing and then fitting in everyone else in the few down times, so as I rolling into my final four weeks, I'm now getting back to normal. Or what passes for normal for me. Anyway, skating was fun. I got to test out my new inlines, and no one broke any bones. After that was a trip to Farmers Market where Langston and I scarfed down a Po Boy, and April rolled a Johnny Rockets hamburger.

Speaking of food, still loving this diet, but it's time for me to get on the exercise bike. Lost six pounds, and cheated once with some Popeyes fried chicken (and it wasn't good), and so I'm back on the caloric count. As we rolled through the Farmers Market, I felt nice and light, but the storefront reflection still said, get my ass to the gym.

Oh, and last week at Langston's martial arts school, they sparred. Sparring is always the best and watching these kids fight is not only fun, but instructive. For the most part, they don't get hurt, but some really have issues at home that manifests itself in sparring. At the last class, one eight or nine year old decided to roll his eyes at his grandmother, and was taken to task. He found himself on the mat with a kid who was good, but eye rolling kid seemed to be paralyzed by a sense that being wrong wouldn't allow him to fight back. And so he cried while the other kid pounded him. It was really a powerful demonstration about how karma can hold you back when you do wrong. And also, for this kid, it also demonstrated to him that the world doesn't stop pounding you just because you start crying. So you either have to man up or take the ass whipping. Personally, I vote for manning up.

As for writing, I've got a bunch of it. Divine Nine, a paper for my critical studies course, observations, three advisory briefs for work, and more work on the first act of THE BESTSELLERS. Ah, stuff to do.

Lastly, has really started to pick up. Two of my boys, David Whelan and Phil Guidry, are working with me now, so they'll be able to take over some of the things I do for the website. We're going to start doing some Saturday and Sunday programming. After that, we'll expand out.

Meeting with the USC producing student to see what happened with the pilot script I wrote over the past six months.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Manchester United...

are champs. You have to know me to understand how much joy that brings me.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

One more thing...

Been on a diet, cutting my caloric intake to around 1500 per day. Let me say this as clearly as possible: THIS IS THE GREATEST DIET EVER. I'm eating more food now than I ever did eating horribly. In two weeks, I've lost six pounds and haven't lifted a finger to exercise. Ya gotta love that. My secret? Watching all of my calories, eating Lean Cuisines, which taste great, and adding fruits and vegetables to my diet. Also, Lipton's diet Peach Ice Tea is the lick, Dasani water, and Breyers Rocky Road ice cream bars at 180 calories per are a God send. Bought some new skates and look to skate around UCLA this weekend. If I don't fall on my ass, I should burn off another 300 cals each time I skate. By graduation, I should be back to my real weight. What a diet!


I just realized that I hadn't been talking about writing for a bit on the blog. That's because I haven't done a bunch. I still have the Divine Nine update to do; Slaveryland to complete; a second draft of my script The Bestsellers to get to my boy Ben; and now I'm waiting to see what happens with a book deal my agent is working on. But so far, I'm just chilling. I did a few observation articles for Icono, and I have an advisory call tomorrow to prep for. BTW, I think I'm going to do all of my articles on Mondays. I'd like to kick it on the weekend, and knocking them out at the start of the week would allow me to focus on writing trends for the company.

So right now, I'm pretty much chilling. I hope that's okay. Five weeks until graduation.

Oh, one last thing. My contest producing gig for the Showcase ends next week. Yoo HOO!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Nobody Knows Nothing...

I was thinking about the fact that I have five more weeks left at UCLA. It was a twenty four large investment that came out of my pocket, and I don't think I could have made a better choice. But as I sit here pondering the second act of a rewrite, I have the feeling that in the end, nobody knows nothing.

When you walk into film school, you tend to feel that you don't know anything, but your brain is ready to take things in. And you do. You take in theories, processes, methods, examples, criticisms, peer reviews, workshops, and suggestions, and hope that you can make something out of all this. And then you think you do, so you feel a bit superior. The tools are in your brain, so you feel like you've got a handle on things. So it's full speed ahead, toward writing that great script. But then, as you work on making things work, you realize that none of all these classes can make that script work. You've got to internalize the tools and then recognize for yourself, the best way to write the best script possible.

That takes a balls and ovaries, and a bunch of self confidence. Part of what makes a good script will be luck, perseverance, skill, more luck, and commitment. And now, five weeks from graduation, with a fresh MFA degree, it's sort of pleasant to know that no matter what, it's still all in my hands despite the fact that nobody knows nothing.