Let’s Make A Movie

“Ricordati che è un film comico.”*Frederico Fellini

 

To say that the last year has been a weird one would be a huge understatement. On the creative front, I’m keeping up where I can. If I can carve out some time to write, I will.

I’ve always talked about making a movie, and in the last couple of weeks I’ve taken the legitimate first steps toward doing it. As part of my USC M.F.A. application I had to submit a 10-page sample of work. It didn’t have to be in any particular form, but because I applied to their School of Cinematic Arts, I wanted to push myself and write a screenplay, something which I had never done before.

I took fragments of writing that I’ve been working on for some time, and through some process that seemed like divination, conjured up a story. FUTURE PERFECT, an idea that was meant to be a book, has now become the first 10-pages of a screenplay.

You can download it by clicking any of the links below.

What’s next? First, write more of course, but more important would be to see what I could do with these short scenes in a 3-dimensional way. The whole process has been very informative.

So, here’s throwing it out to the Universe. Let’s make a movie.

DOWNLOAD | 10-page-Writing-Sample

DOWNLOAD | 10-page-Writing-Sample

DOWNLOAD | 10-page-Writing-Sample

DOWNLOAD | 10-page-Writing-Sample


*“Remember, this is a comedy.

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EDGE

essay – notes about art 

I imagine myself standing in a Vegas casino when these thoughts takes shape, or sitting at the end of a dark bar, drinking something with whiskey, or maybe standing alone in an elevator during the middle of the day.

It seems as if the failure to connect, or the failure of connection, in our current and fashionable attempt, is deep and real and it’s breaking our hearts.

It seems as if we, the people, for some reason, deeply believe that there will never be another shift in the same way that these shifts have happened before.

It seems as if the general thinking is that we can pick and choose our facts, gathered from shoddy investigation, and that all we have to do is fit them into the right scheme.

It seems, it seems, it seems.

There are more, and these thoughts don’t come from nowhere – you can see them in action by just looking around.

 

1.

In the faces of people walking across the street when you’re stopped at a red light. In the looks and sideways glances in well lit grocery store aisles. In the hidden dynamics of late night conversations during a party.

We offer a down-turned look, an interior monologue ripped from a self help book playing on a record skipping inside of our heads, like an echo – I’ll be ok. I’ll be ok. I’ll be just fine – and, when we talk, our speech resembles more and more the tone of the voices that we hear daily in our media and which tell us nothing. No guide to thinking, just how to act, and even a maybe at that.

A nostalgic re-packaging of some imagined past is what we allow ourselves to give. It’s a maze with a map to guide us back from a wrong turn. But it never gets close to the heart.

The true center of the labyrinth.

 

 

2.

Greed and non-thinking have bred a chaotic and fragmented view of the future. A chaotic and fragmented view of the culture.

That view is a symptom of an even more entrenched disease which permeates the core of the whole thing. What is it and can we cure it and can I cure myself of it?

If I throw my hands up, and claim that it’s all bullshit, then what’s the point?

Some analysis would do well here.

A reconsideration, re-cataloging, re-study, of myths with broad concepts and straightforward tools, and then a check against history to see where their explanations break down. This requires patience.

With new tools and new concepts we then carefully redo the experiments and recreate old data sets and attempt to fill in gaps with new information – theories, observations, a mix of both. If the New more clearly articulates and connects than the Old, or vice versa, we junk what’s unnecessary. This is real science.

Minimize error and repeat this process ad infinitum.

But we are bad scientists, and what are these new tools and concepts?

 

3.

An older generation realized once that their bets on truth in progress for the long haul were an illusion. A dream.

We’re waking up now and realizing that we are becoming them, so we take what we can when we can and think that there’s no other way.

We have been taught well.

We delete facts, and crush our own dreams with a set of alternating teeth, turning them into a fine white powder, waiting for the other histories to disintegrate.

Why do we effectively bully ourselves and not fight back?

I can only present an outline for consideration – a sketch of a different pathway.

 

4.

Consider that different people can look at the same set of data from distinct vantage points and draw different conclusions. Yes?

I’m standing in a place now, looking at the data that’s in front of me, and building my own organizational scheme.

This doesn’t need to be abstract or obtuse. It’s a natural human process.

It’s taking me a long time to get here, and I have reasonable thing to offer, but its not for sale.

It has to be earned. You have to think. You might have to construct your own scheme also.

Not just a rebuild of facts that have been destroyed, but a case for a new ordering of information, a new mythology.

How is it working for me?

I don’t know, time will tell. My view doesn’t disregard those of others or even try and overtake them, but is just as valid. Stands right by them. Wants to work with them.

It implements a method now out of vogue, a forgotten idea – intuition.

 

5.

The deepest sorts of revolutions, the deepest sorts of paradigm shifts, are more likely to come from within the culture. They don’t have to be from a radically different place, but where is the proof?

I’m not in the business of trying to show you my point of view without the burden of proof.

I’m applying the method to thinking about the process, but how?

The sustained vision gathered through observation can only be articulated by a careful construction of a proof and that takes time.

 

6.

Alone with myself, I am aware of what I’m saying, and of what I’m doing, but do believe in it?

My myths have been fractured for longer than I can remember, but I’m not a digital native. How did this happen?

When I report on a moment, I’m giving life to something that I have only ever imagined, but have never read or seen, and circling the center has provided me the perfect view.

The route through the process has been jagged, but has also offered more to see.

When I stop and observe the culture, it’s clear that there’s a vacuum, and I’m in a unique position.

 

7.

I see me from the outside carefully weaving a general and well constructed case. I say things to myself like, the time is now, and, even if cliche, the truth is exactly that.

The work is thoughtful and constant – absolutely, every day, for real.

The time is now.

 

8.

This moment is becoming when I am being honest with my worst enemy – me.

My work might not be very interesting and not very good and maybe I’m exerting effort and still have no understanding of form.

Self criticism is just part of the faults of speculation.

Another is getting nothing done.

I am shaping a thing that will in a natural way, a human way. I am reaffirming my own voice within the eye of the storm. From my temporary vantage point.

I am trying to understand if in the realm of stories, compared to others, mine holds up. Am I too late? Is this process just a painful exercise?

Does it even matter?

 

9.

I’m aware of the pitfalls, yet still manage to fall for them.

It can be easier to try and hammer the facts into some ready built structure, regardless of the fit.

Reading over the maps left by people who came from the other route, who started from a place of structure, and searched for a way to break it into pieces, I can learn.

Myth-making can use stories to stitch together the scenes of a fiction trapped in limbo, swimming in the black background of a dream, just out of reach. But that’s just a first pass.

I have to go through my own revolution. An event where the scales are lifted from my own eyes, like a Gestalt shift, the whole landscape becoming something else, something different – completely new.

After this, the image will look different, but I can learn the methods of organization through its careful study.

 

10.

The process is constant.

Without hesitation I can say that this time off my motorcycle has something to do with it. It seems to have painfully created a vacuum, and now, like Borges, I feel as if my task is easy.

I’m living in the right mix of time and space. The best of all possible worlds to fill it.

And, to push even further, a network of people around me grows and allows me to fill that space, and nudge me, and urge me to use my time to work and grow, without judgement.

 

11.

I understand that I am part of something bigger, and that by developing a structure, building a thing, I can, in a sense, reassure whoever I’ve let down. Even myself.

The same people that are still there for me unconditionally, I can show them that I am there for them as well.

I move closer to the edge of an instantaneous transition, a true paradigm shift, and report back.

So, now standing on this edge, I have to make a choice.

Do I jump?

Standing on this edge, you have to make the choice.

Do you jump?

Standing on this edge, I make the choice.

Do I jump?

SIGHT

essay

“Remember, this is a comedy” – Federico Fellini

Last week I re-watched The Right Stuff, Philip Kaufman’s 1983 film – based on the Tom Wolfe book of the same name – about a group of Air Force pilots out in the Mojave who attempt to control the cutting edge machinery produced during a renaissance in American ingenuity. Some of these men become the first many NASA recruits during the birth of the American space program.

I remember watching this film with my Dad at a crucial time when a kid could dream and, while watching it with my girlfriend, remembered all of the movies that shaped my vision of the world over the years from the vantage point of the relatively old city on the Eastside – The Godfather, American Beauty, Apocalypse Now, 8-1/2, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Almost Famous, Back to the Future, Lost in Translation, The Breakfast Club, 2046 – and how all of these records of light and sound have shaped me and moved me deeply throughout the years.

The Godfather

The color palette of The Godfather always stood out in my mind, and I remember watching the film with my Dad during the Holiday season, and how, even if not said directly to me, the actions on screen revealed a little something about the way that love, familial love, is the ultimate social bond.

Back to the Future

Driving to Whittier High School just to see the front of Hills Valley High and where Biff got punched in the face by Marty. Or the fact that if you go to the Puente Hills Mall today, the site of Twin Pines Mall in the film, there’s still the Lone Pine sign logging the date and time of travel to the future.

Or, I recall being younger, 10 or 12, and watching Back to the Future and drawing up every little detail of the DeLorean on green over-sized note cards, trying not to miss any minutiae and explaining to my Mother that when I grew up I would have enough money to hire scientists to build a DeLorean for me so that I could travel through time.

One of my very first memories is of being in my parents room with my Grandmother and, either on Turner Classic Movies or on VHS, watching the scene in Gone With the Wind where Atlanta is burning to the ground. I remember countless nights when I would hang out with my cousins and watch all of the latest scary movies, and sometimes even Disney movies, and we would then share ideas and rough storyboard sketches for films that we one day hoped to make. Saving Private Ryan was a big catalyst for our interest in WWII history and culture, and from that interest came our desire to learn about other wars and what became of the men that fought them, and how that generation then shaped the one that we are now a part of. The whole mess of human misery was teased out of a simple love for movies.

When I was in High School, I use to have a very unhealthy anxiety problem that I always seemed to be doing battle with, so some nights I would stay up really late and draw and listen to music, and at around 4 in the morning I would love to put on Breakfast at Tiffany’s because the simple grace of Audrey Hepburn would always seem to put me at ease. A few years before this, I remember my dad purchasing a copy of Apocalypse Now, and – this was right around the time when every teen seems to be big on Zeppelin, Floyd, Jimi, The Doors, and The Who – being blown away by the artistry summoned in order to capture the mood of the jungle and the war, and the smallness of one mans fight against a larger and much more pervasive, almost eternal, evil that seemed to exist at the edges of one’s vision, just over the horizon, and outside the world of logic and reason.

I remember watching Lost In Translation for the first time and being absolutely and madly in love with all of the little phrases that Sophia Coppola had composed within her scenes. The questions that Charlotte was asking Bob – “Does it get easier?” – were important not just in the context of the film, but also for organizing the increasing messiness of our lives. The daily heartbreaks were never going to be just a passing thing, even then I knew it, and how much more do I know now.

Watching David Lynch with my brothers, or Across the Universe with my Girlfriend – a film that belongs on the above list because I’ve seen it more than a dozen times – or even watching 500 Days of Summer and Step Brothers back to back on lonely Saturdays when I lived in Tucson, all of these little parts of life pop in and out of focus every now and then.

Then sometimes I forget. I’ll be walking down a street, or driving down a road, and I’ll open a door, or take a turn, and suddenly the past comes rushing back to greet me like an old friend, and many times I can clearly remember my past self telling my future self to remember the moment. And I don’t, and I didn’t.

Cities change, neighborhoods change, friends wander in and out of your life, families change, people grow and move. Everything is in flux and everyone is going about their own business and that’s ok. There is no imperative to be stuck in any one particular place in time because we are all subject to time’s ebbs and flows.

I can always go back to my parents house, sit on their couch, in a room that I’m familiar with, and go through their movie library, or if not, talk to them about something from Latin America or Europe that they’ve watched recently on Netflix and maybe watch it myself, and then kick back and disappear for a little bit.

I recently re-discovered Videotheque in South Pasadena, and have started to visit it more frequently. A small and careful care for the art of sight and feeling is something that I’m trying to cultivate in this modern moment.

The Invention of Sound

poem

There is a place,
beneath the rain,
where red wild flowers grow

It is a scheme,
far from the scenes,
of shore break nights ago

We never slept,
the feeling passed,
lost at the end of a decline

The letter sent,
inked permanence,
to the address that you left behind

In a far northern space,
where grace,
drips slowly off the sun

Find the time to say,
thank you very much for the fun

Ipsum Forever

poem

I’m reading John Keats.
On the long drive home.
From a faraway place.
I come, closer.

The end of the last line.
On the very last page.

The Horizon in the distance.
Is a place trapped in fickle memory.

I will love you forever.
Until the very last second.
Of the very last minute.
Of the very last hour.
Of the very day last day.

Sometimes I wonder if.
We are as brave as we make ourselves believe.

ASIDE

 

essay

An Aside

I left the house for an hour or two the other day, just to get some fresh air.

I went for a walk through the campus. The sun was going down, and the wind was moving gently through the palms. I thought about how the light looked on Mt. Lemmon during early morning hikes, and how Mt. Lemmon reminded me of hikes up Turnbull in Whittier.

I had an article by Phillip Anderson earlier that day criticizing the nuclear and particle physicists during the late 60’s, and he had a point. In the 60’s, the discipline made historic leaps over the other branches. A sense of fundamental understanding was achieved, the likes of which hadn’t been seen since the development of Q.M. during the first few decades of the 20th century. But this was also post-WWII, at the height of the Cold War, and in the middle of the space race. We were looking for better weapons, and better sources of energy. Nuclear power had shown its might via the bomb, so naturally, the government took an interest in such powerful resources. Funding went in the direction of high-concept fundamental theories of matter, leaving everyone else in the camp of, well, everything else.

It unfortunately segregated those others, i.e. Condensed Matter Physicists, Relativists, etc., into the camp of almost 2nd class scientists, when they were really not.

As the Cold War waned, however, and as the Nuclear Age slowed down and flaws became apparent in it’s edifice, and even as people got older and computers became smaller and seasons passed, things changed, as they always do.

We are now in a so called second ‘Golden Age’ of Relativity, the first Golden Age being the early 70’s of Kerr, Hawking, Penrose, et al., and though I am unsure and supremely naive, I am working slowly towards a goal, though now it seems as far as the mountains in the distance, and as faint as the light on the city streets.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s first draft of GR, and what it a beautiful time it is to ‘be’.