Hoodlums and Hooligans

If you have been reading this blog, you know by now that trouble just seems to find me. Usually, I am out and about, and the forces that be, send the weirdos and troublemakers my way. However, lately, I haven’t even had to leave my apartment property.

Sometimes, late at night, some kids (about 15 year old Hispanic kid and his GF) will sit on the back steps going down to our apt. garage. Last week, I asked them if they lived there (the boy was by himself). He stated “No, but my brother lives in apt. 13.” When I came back, he had left some small trash on the steps. So, a couple of days ago, he is back with his GF. I ask them if they live there. She states “I don’t, but my cousin lives in apt. 9″.

I say, “Last week he stated it was apartment 13. Let me clear this up for you. There is no apartment 9. There is no apartment 13. 1-8. Now get out of here, don’t come back.”

They left…however, the next night, around 11pm, someone took a sharpie marker and wrote “Fuck you. Call 911″ in huuuuuge letters in the stairwell. Sigh. Kids. My landlord instructed me to just call the police if they came back, and not to confront them. He also stated that he would catch them. He said it frustrates his wife when he gets in these moods, and she calls it “The Hunt”.

Today, I got back home after 3 long days of work on commercials and films. Not 15 minutes after I laid down in bed, I heard loud footsteps. I look out the window and and see two African American kids, probably 10 or 12 years old, with big smiles on their faces. I hear them go upstairs…then the fire alarm sounded.

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I was dressed in about a minute and out my door. Some of the neighbors were already outside, wondering where the fire was. I told them that the kids probably tripped it. Sure enough, as I walked down the back alley stairwell, I saw a fire extinguisher that had been deployed, right outside of our garage. A big fat thumbprint in the dust on top of the handle that one would have to squeeze to use it!

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A neighbor said that he saw three small kids run down an alley, and pointed. I took off and searched. 5 minutes later, I came up empty handed. Walking back to my apartment where the alarm was still ringing, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Where is the fire department? They are only a mile or two away; what the hell is taking so long.” Figuring they would get there eventually, I got into my car to conduct a more comprehensive search. Still, after about 15 minutes of driving around the neighborhood, I still had no luck in finding the children. As I pulled into my garage, some 20 minutes or more since the alarm initially sounded, there was still no sign of the fire department, and the alarm was still going strong. When I called, the fire department had no idea that there was anything wrong. However, they did arrive in about 2 minutes. Good thing we weren’t really on fire.

I walked the alley a bit more, hoping to find these kids (I never did), when I heard sirens. As I walked up to the firefighters, one of them was bending over to pick up the extinguisher. “No! Don’t touch that!” I yelled, causing the firefighter to stop. “It has a fingerprint on the handle where they used it.” The firefighter then proceeded to pick up the extinguisher…by the handle. “Or…not. Fuck.” I stated out loud in disappointment.

“Oh, we’ll tell them (the police) about it.”, or something to that effect the moron muttered in response. Although I doubt that a 10 or 12 year old kid has been printed before, it could still have helped if the police found suspects.Image

Just as I let out a heavy sigh, one of the neighbors told me that the police were knocking at my door. I went up to meet them and told them what happened. I told them I had called the landlord and left a message (I only have a voice mailbox to call, no actually number to reach in case of an emergency). The police stated okay, as the firemen approached me. They couldn’t locate the fire alarm control box to reset the alarm, and thought it might be in garage, so, I offered my assistance…figuring (as the police flipped through their code book and muttered “what do we right this up as?”) that they would NEED my assistance.

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We searched the garage and found nothing. When my landlord called me back, he directed to me to a large, 6 ft by 4 ft wooden panel, behind which was the fire alarm control box. By this point, the fire fighters had walked around the whole building a couple of times, and they also happen to know what this box looks like, and I assume have done this more than once…yet they couldn’t locate a 6ft panel…they also didn’t bring any flashlights and had to use mine. Again, so glad there wasn’t a real fire.

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As they wrapped up their “investigation” (ha…HAAAAAAA!) they told me that all of the fire extinguishers hadn’t been checked since 2006, and the landlord has to have them done twice a year by law. They then asked me to sign a form making me responsible for firewatch until this was completed by my landlord. First, let me just state, that I love my landlord, and I am more than happy to do this (I was off work and staying home anyway). He even mentioned that he “owed me” in a sincere tone, and I told him not to worry about it. Like I said, he’s a cool dude. As for firewatch, let me explain: when something doesn’t work (alarms, extinguishers, sprinklers, etc), the fire department can’t just hang around for days until it gets fixed. Incompetent or not, they have real fires to take care of…or let burn…whatever they do or don’t do. So, they assign a resident (ME!) to walk around every half hour to make sure shit isn’t burning, and to be ready to call 911 if it is. So, I filled out the paperwork, and started my first patrol.

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This was about the time that I remembered I had my old flash gear from my firefighting days on the at sea fire party in the USN (United States Navy). Of course, one of the reasons I didn’t re-enlist was that I am way to goofy to be a member of the military. To prove to myself that I hadn’t lost my goofy edge, I put on my flash gear, and proceeded to walk around my apartment building while singing “we didn’t start the fire”…although I only know that one line, and sung it in a loop. The looks that I elicited from my neighbors was priceless.

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Flash gear is flame retardant (derp!) material that helps your skin from melting…neat huh? Besides a helmet, fire hose, and breathing aparatus, we also wear the flash gear underneath the heavy fire gear. Why do I still have it? None of your damn beeswax!
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As I said about my landlord before, he goes on “hunts” to stop individuals from messing with his property. Who can blame him? Well, it just so happens that these kids used the extinguisher right in front of the garage, where my landlord has a security camera.

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So I guess in the end, I am glad that I am a weirdo magnet, instead of a weirdo that pisses off a landlord with a vindictive streak.
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY EVERYONE!

Award Winning Screenwriter, and Background Dancer…WAY back!

As most of you know, a few days ago my first original screenplay, “The Secret of Sleep”, won the Bronze in Comedy in the Beverly Hills Screenplay Contest. This was a big surprise to me. I KNEW the story and characters were good, and was personally pleased with the script. But it needed work; it wasn’t quite finished. Feedback I received from one of the other competitions really helped me make those revisions (and so far I am in the top 10% of over 4000 screenplays submitted to that contest!). But that does not change how elated I was to learn I had placed. This has solidified my right to call myself a screenwriter.

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I have entered into over a dozen competitions over the past 4 months, and it has cost me roughly… $1500 to $2000 dollars in entry fees. That, by the way, is about half or more of what I made as far as income during all those months.

When I returned to California, I knew I was going to focus on acting again. But where to start? My demo reel is outdated and my funds are limited. Well, it turns out that a friend of mine had been getting steady work though a background casting agency. For my reader(s) (I’m going to foolishly assume that more than one person will read this) that do not know what that is, it is the people that stand in the background of films and television shows. No lines, just “extras”. The standard rate is up to 8 hours of work for 64 bucks. There are financial bonuses (called “bumps) that you can get for staying longer, or money for gas, or even for lunch money. If you are really lucky, they can even pay you a better rate. I figured, in Ohio, I was getting several casting calls a week, and this being a small agency they would be even better.

I signed up 2 weeks ago to this day (paying a little over 300 dollars for a 6 month membership). What a…DUMMY?
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My first job was four days later, on Tuesday for ZERO pay. I had to volunteer, and drive over an hour north to get there. There was a smoke machine, for which had I been paid, I would have gotten a bump, like a lot of the other extras DID get. The next two days I had work on very popular TV shows.

The first show/ second job(I showed up an hour early BTW) was great. I got my wardrobe approved, waited on set for 2 and a half hours, and they signed my voucher, said thank you, and told me to tell my agency to add me back to the rotation because they didn’t “see” me (use me on set). I did just as she asked, but the response from the owner of my agency said something to the effect of “You have a look, don’t worry about it, you’ll get plenty of work.”

The second show/ third job (showed up an hour early to this too) was an all day shoot; 11 hours. I went with a friend whom I met through her boyfriend, a nice guy I used to work with at the bar in Long Beach. We had to dress in retro clothes from the late 70s early 80s, and dance our butts off when they called action. We probably worked for 2 hours total the whole day. When they yelled “action”, we were supposed to dance, and when they yelled “cut”, we could stop…only, I didn’t stop; I kept dancing. It wasn’t because I didn’t hear them say “cut” or didn’t know that I could stop when they did so. It was obvious. Everyone else in the room stopped…except for me. Of course, people started to take notice. I would hear a laugh and see other extras pointing, or a grip or PA (productions assistant) would walk by and give me a smile and friendly comment. And as I danced, I’d smile back at them.
Eventually, my friend did ask me why I kept dancing. My answer: ” Because I am the most dedicated actor in this room, and I don’t stop acting until the DVD hits the shelf!”.

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I know that this point is exaggerated. I AM A NOBODY. Just a background extra who, even if I do make it on camera, will probably only be for a split second, and out of focus. However, my conviction stands. I am a good screenwriter. I am a good actor. And, no matter how big or small the job is, I am going to be the best one at it. That is my duty to myself and my employer.

That last job was on the 30th, over a week ago from today. I have not worked since, but I have been available every day, and my schedule is showing available for the next two weeks straight. That means 24 hours a day, I am ready if they need me…and nothing in over a week.

Well, I shouldn’t say nothing. They did mention a shoot very close to me, with high pay, and I told them I’d love to do it. Then, half an hour later they wanted to know, at 8 pm if I could make it to a shoot 2 hours north, for regular pay. When I called the office to tell them that I really wanted to do the closer one for higher pay, they just told me I “didn’t get it”. So much for having a “look”, huh? Oh, then they proceeded to tell me I wasn’t going to get cast for the one 2 hours away either, because I didn’t have the right shoes…though a second person called me and had me send pictures of my shoes just to make sure. I told them, “I haven’t worked in a week. I will go wherever you want me to, whenever you want me to. This is my job!” Still, nothing over a week. It is so depressing, but it isn’t anyone’s fault…I don’t think.

Although a little off topic, I should also probably mention at this point that a popular actor and I had an…”exchange” on Twitter. At first, I was just sticking up for comedienne and fellow Jew, Sarah Silverman. It appeared that this actor did not appreciate a joke Ms. Silverman told, and chastised her for it. Her response was so brilliant, and comical, that I HAD to respond.

The actor, Adam Baldwin, did not find it so amusing. Here is the exchange in its entirety:

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To be clear, he starts out by calling me a failure (did I mention I’m an award winning screenwriter?) and then suggesting that anyone in the food service industry is a piece of shit (and no, I’ve never been a waiter)…then he gives me advice on how to get acting work.

I have mixed feelings about this exchange. He was kind of a dick…but then he gives me advice. Don’t get me wrong, I meant it when i said I greatly respect him. He has done what I have not; became a successful actor. Did you see him as Jayne on Firefly? He was bad-ass! Who knows, maybe somewhere down the road, I will thank him during an Oscar acceptance speech…or wait on him at a table. Adam, care to way in on this?

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Speaking of acting, my friend who was already with this agency said he has been getting the same thing, and roughly since I signed up, so a week longer than I. Could it be possible that they are just at a slow point of the season, or am I missing something; being naive? I am a pretty good judge of character, and the people I have met at that agency seem to not only be kind, but very good at what they do…plus, IT HAS ONLY BEEN TWO WEEKS. What are they supposed to do, submit me for the lead role in a blockbuster? They said I will get work, and I need to trust my instincts that these are good people. My gut is telling me that I will be begging them to stop submitting me down the road. Let’s hope that’s true!

The friend has suggested that I submit myself through some other networks, as he has done. He gets work, and has actually been getting more work himself than through the agency. And, we are working on scenes to shoot for a demo reel. But, although destitute, I can’t help but think “this is a great opportunity to write another screenplay”.

So, I announce my third original screenplay, “Concussed”, which will be my sixth feature-length screenplay when I am finished. I shan’t tell you what it is about, yet. But I can tell you it is a romantic comedy, and boy, is it WEIRD. Think: Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind + the TV show Spaced, and I think you have it. Maybe I could convince Edgar Wright to film it…

…did I mention I’m an award winning screenwriter? Impressed?

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*sigh* Since the results for the other contests don’t come back for another week or two,  I guess I’ll put on all black, carry a tray, and practice being spat on….

Ohio: The Winter Blunderland

The holiday season is all about tradition. For many, this tradition involves pine trees or lighting candles and can be traced back hundreds or even thousands of years. For me, this tradition is less than two years old, and consists of me working in retail for my friend.

A friend of mine owns a business selling discounted perfumes and colognes in a couple of malls. So, I get to help out a friend, make decent money, and visit my family in Cincinnati before or after. And for almost the past 3 months (living in a hotel and walking through the snow for 2 1/2 months), this was what I did. Hopefully, I’ll never do it again.

Pierre Cardin

There are some interesting shapes to some of these fragrance bottles. This is Pierre Cardin for men….ouch.

Working the holidays in retail is very demanding work. Not to mention, that I hate the holidays, and all of the…”cheer”. I do feel a sense of accomplishment, working so hard, and doing it well. However, I am constantly filled with a longing for my creative passions, and a tinge of guilt every 15 hour work day. Guilt, for Jews anyway, is the biggest catalyst for greatness.

So, what DID I do creatively? Just before the holiday rush, I managed to revise my two original screenplays and enter them into a couple of more contests. I also wrote a partial treatment/concept for a Wonder Woman live action movie…that’s something, right? But it is a far cry from working on any of the 3 originals I currently have on the chopping block. Also, besides a few push-ups here and there, I haven’t worked out at all in 3 months.

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A post-it I made to help motivate my staff. I have the…unfortunate nickname, Guns.

But, as eventful (SARCASM) as work was, I’d like to move on to the path back, and the path to come.

Has anyone rented a car before? I have. However, I never had as much difficulty as I did this time when renting from Enterprise. Because I worked long hours, my parents set up the rental for me. Pick up at 3 pm on NYE, show them my “credit card” and I’m good to go…in theory.

Well, of course nothing ever goes right. To be fair, the initial complications were my fault. I showed up early, and didn’t have a credit card. I have a debit/check card. So they wanted to charge me an additional 50-70 dollars (1/4 of total rental cost) for picking it up 4 hours early. When I told them how stupid that was, and that I would wait for 4 hours, they asked to see my credit card. Upon presentation of the card, the told me it was not a credit card. I asked them why they needed a credit card. They did not have an answer…literally silence. When I asked if it was just “policy” I think I got a mumble or a grunt.

It became clear to me that I was dealing with a stunning brilliant individual (SARCASM). After I informed them that credit cards work on CREDIT, AKA money people DON’T have, and check cards take directly out of your account AKA money people DO have…she told me something I couldn’t believe.

She could only rent to me if I provided BOTH of the following:

1. Recent paycheck stub
2. A recent utility bill with my name and address matching my ID.

Pay stub I had, but my Ohio driver license has my parents address (my primary residence) on it. I do not pay utilities at my parents. As for my apartment in California, I pay my half of the utilities to my roommate, and they are under his name. THIS is the point at which the conversation went downhill. I explained my roommate arrangement, and showed her my California ID. She looked at it, frowned, and said, “Oh, well now that you have shown me that ID….” I cut her off.

Sternly, I spoke, “Miss, it is PERFECTLY legal to have a driver’s license in Ohio, and a state ID from California.” She stared blankly.

After releasing a heavy sigh, I asked if there were any other documents I could present to get the rental. She said no. There was absolutely nothing else. The funny thing is, she was trying to train another gal who had just started working there…the blind leading the blind.

So, I made a phone call to my father, the man who set up the reservation. He was not happy. And when he called on the other line, the skies darkened and everyone in the office looked as if they were planning their own funeral. A manager, and the same person with whom the initial reservation was made, greeted my with a pleasant demeanor. He told me that he was going to do his best to work with me to get me the car. But, he did not have a solution. I asked if I could show my lease for my apartment. ( the reason for all this, by the way, is that they afraid I’m going to steal the car…even though they all have GPS tracking and OnStar).

So I just started naming off things. My apartment lease. No. Receipts from my landlord for rent paid. No. How about my DD214 military discharge papers where the name and address match. Still not happy? What about my flight reservation confirmation and schedule. Yes, and that would be fine…and that’s ALL you need?
Enterprise Rental Cars, I have just one question for you. Why, THE FUCK, didn’t you just ask me for that in the FIRST FUCKING PLACE. You know that because I choose the Dayton airport as my drop off, I have a flight…and because you were told so during the reservation. Answer, because the standard of employment seems to be a checklist of gross incompetence, and probably doing shots of bleach in the broom closet. Fuck you, Enterprise. Fuck you, pal.

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I don’t drink, so my friend had to double fist for me.

So, off to Columbus for a day. I had a great time on New years with my good friend. That night, however, took a turn for the worse. A mutual acquaintance had a suicidal episode. To make a long story short, we found him on the floor, passed out drunk, with a kitchen knife in his hand and several small cuts on this forearm. I make it a habit not to include names or other details, especially due to the sensitive matter at hand…also, I couldn’t figure out how to post the video.
We ended up calling his family and 911, and he is getting the help he needs.

My week home in Cincinnati was great, except for discovering that I am allergic to my favorite hometown pizza that I have been eating for 30 years.  I had gotten ill the past couple of times I returned home and ate it, but a day in bed, not able to keep anything down, was enough to make me swear it off forever.

So now, for the flight home. First to Denver, during which I slept the entire time, except for this photo:Image

Then, there was my flight from DEN to LAX. And, let me just say, “I fucking hate rednecks.” Before, during, and for about 10 minutes after take off, the two sister-fucking, Oakmoss wearing, Fox News watching morons, decided it would be a good idea to talk about plane crashes and terrorist acts specifically related to airports…and LAUGH about it.

Now, I am not scared of a flying. However, I recognize other peoples fear, and am sympathetic to it. Had my roommate been in the seat next to me, the flight would have had to make an emergency landing, because he probably would have strangled one or both of the passengers behind us…. on second thought he DEFINITELY would have done that.

And, then there was this my window. It kept falling down. You know how the handle is at the top, and you pull it down to close the window, and pull up to open it. Well, for some reason my window was upside down, and it was the ONLY window on the plane like that (yes I checked). So gravity did it’s job, and my window kept falling open, letting in the sun. However, I did manage to fix it with a handy piece of irony.

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So, that brings everyone up to speed. I will be focusing on working out, writing, acting (eventually), and soliciting my screenplay to competitions.

Will 2014 be my defining year? Probably not. But, if I finish just one screenplay, I will be able to call it a success.

But, one thing is for sure. I made the right move by leaving Cincinnati and returning to Long Beach.
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I Guess I’m A Screenwriter Now?

When I started this blog, and moved to California from Ohio a little over a year ago, I was pursuing the career of an actor.

This was no foolish venture. I obtained my degree in  Electronic Media with a focus on behind the camera things (film, photo, lighting, etc.). I had extensive experience acting. I’m good looking, talented, hard-working, in great shape, smell nice, and am humble…HUMBLE I SAY! I had very good talent representation set up in Beverly Hills. I saved up every cent for a year so I wouldn’t have to focus on employment and could make auditioning my job. I had a roommate set up.

It all went to shit, and it was all because of other people. Horrible, terrible people.

Despondent, I did what anyone in my situation would do. I played video games and masturbated…a lot…but not at the same time.

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But then I started to get these stupid things someone told me are called, “ideas”. These “ideas” would not go away. Where they came from, I haven’t a clue. But, they were in my head, and had to come out, that much was sure.

So I started writing again, a practice I had indulged while attending college. The end result was that in one month, I wrote a feature length screenplay.

The feeling I got had me hooked, and I wanted to do it again. I have 5 feature length screenplays (2 of which are originals, the other adaptations). I have 3 more treatments for original feature length screenplays, and each is completely different from the others, but uniquely brilliant in their story…HUMBLE!

But a written work is nothing, unless it is read. So far, the audience for these scripts had be me, my dad, and a select few friends. I was mortified to show them to anyone else. After all, I am nobody. Who the hell gives a crap about the screenplay nobody wrote?

I work a job at night, security at a local bar. I check ID’s, get hit on by drunks, and call taxi’s. It is by no means glamorous, but it was a job at night that would allow me to be free to audition during the day.

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People would ask me what I do, and I would give them the song and dance; my mantra became, “I moved out here to act, got screwed over by everyone, now I work here and spend my free time writing screenplays”.
Usually, immediately after the word “act” came out of my mouth, they would say “Ooooooooooooh, okay” and proceed to ignore me. Some were rude enough to remind me that there are a million people in Hollywood with my looks…at which point I would say, “Yeah, but not one of them had an ounce of the talent that I have!” and walk away with a middle finger high in the air…HUMBLE!

But there were those that were generally interested in what I had to say (of course they could have just been very bored, but I would like to think it was the other thing). And eventually they got to asking about my screenplays.

“What have you done with them?”
“Nothing, why?”
“You should do something with them.”
“Meeeeeeh, I’ll get around to it”

But, I had no intentions of getting around to it. That was, until I met Shabadoo.

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(Shabadoo is not his name, but I do not like using people’s names on this blog…except for mine…HUMBLE!

Every now and then, while working a door, you get that person that comes by, just to talk to you. They really are that lonely and have no one else to talk to. Shabadoo is one such person. Lover of classical music, composer, old-school surfer, maker of puns, sexagenarian ( a person in their sixties…ya pervs!), and Libertarian.

Shabadoo was sort of “that guy”. He was socially awkward, wouldn’t leave even if I went inside for extended periods of time, and gave off the impression that he may be missing a couple of marbles or more. But once I got to know him, I enjoyed our little talks.

Eventually, these talks got around to my screenplays. The usual exchange occurred, and that was that. Or so I thought. The next day Shabadoo showed up, he asked again about my screenplays. We went through the dialogue yet again, and that was that. Or so I thought. This happened for a week, every night. One night, after going through the “how are your screenplays going” exchange, Shabadoo handed me a piece of paper.

“You should check this out.”

It was a screenplay competition, operated by a very famous director.

I humored him, with no intention of entering the screenplay, and told him I would “check it out.”

But I forgot, Shabadoo was not the typical head-nodding drunk. Not only was he sober…but he had nothing better to do than ask me what I was doing…every night.

Something had to be done. I was too nice (HUMBLE) of a guy to tell him to piss off, and I didn’t want to have the same conversation for the rest of my pathetic life, so after a week of Shabadoo asking me when I was going to do something with my screenplay, I entered. Both originals…and something happened.

No, I didn’t get a phone call from a movie producer, or an award for my screenplay. Something happened inside me. I don’t know if doctors have a word for it, but the best I can explain how I felt was “right”, I felt right.

This was something I was supposed to be doing, it was just as inexplicable as it was undeniable.

It has been less than two months, and I have entered into about 8 competitions so far. So, for your benefit, here are 5 things I have learned from my experience thus far:

1. Do your research. Finding the right screenplay competition(s) for you is a tedious task. Do searches and read the pages. Then make a list of deadlines, prizes, entry/deadline dates, fees, etc. This way you can plan ahead, and budget accordingly without missing deadlines, and paying heavy fees.

2. Read all their FAQs and guidelines carefully. There is little more embarrassing for a budding screenwriter than to ask the competition a question in a email, only to get back something you should have already known…trust me. Chances are that if you have the question, they have already been asked it several times by people like me…idiots.

3. Enter as many as you can. You only have a limited time before you become wealthy and famous…why not submit your scripts now so when you’re using hundred dollar bills to light your wooly mammoth skin cigars, you have something to look back on with nostalgia.

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4. Get feedback, and revise. Your screenplay can always be better. Most competitions offer feedback from the judges. These are industry professionals, offering you advice on how to make your screenplay better (i.e. more marketable). Usually a fee is associated with this service, but there are competitions that offer this for free when you enter early enough. It can be confusing, irritating, stressful, offensive, and humiliating…but you’re a screenwriter, damn it! You were born without a soul, so what’s to lose? (I have a separate blog entry I need to make about one such experience.) Of course, there are also a bunch of other soulless bastards out there just like you that would meet up and swap notes for free. You don’t have to agree with everything these people say, but you should at least listen to all of it.

5. Learn the art of screenwriting. Learning the ins and outs of screenwriting sets the amateurs apart from the people who are only slightly better than amateurs. You have to win an award or sell a screenplay to be anything at all…you should probably give up right now.

I will leave you with this final thought: “Screenwriting is storytelling restricted to a very specific written format. If people do not like or understand your screenplay, you may not be a bad storyteller; you are probably just a bad screenwriter.” – Joshua Keller Katz, just this second……HUMBLE!

When Inspiration Runs Dry

I had been feeling guilty lately for not doing anything creative. Sure, I had been working on a promo for a friend in the Los Angeles Renegade Roller Girls, and I had filmed my friends comedy show. However, I hadn’t done anything for myself, at least nothing of sustenance.

My roommate, who likes to take trips to strange places on a whim, decided he and a friend were going to travel near Barstow, two hours away. There, awaited an old water park. The friend had been there before and revisit. I accepted the invitation to come along so that I could take some photos of the water park wasteland, Rock-A-Hoola.

The trip was relatively okay…until the end. The friend of my roommate got me off two exits early, but turned us back to the highway after only 5 minutes. However, we took the next exit, which was still an exit away from the exit we wanted. Normally, this would not be so bad. But when you are in a 4-cylinder car that is a decade old, has over 120k miles, and a few problems underneath, it generally isn’t a good idea to take a desert off-road trail, with rocks like Gibraltar, and dips like a skateboard park. Thinking we only had a thousand feet or so to go, I took the road as directed.

It was when we passed the dilapidated and abandoned mine 10 minutes later, my car covered in desert dust, that I suggested that we were lost…in the desert. The bottom of my car scrapped repeatedly, and my engine struggled to get up hills as my tires spun in the dirt and sand.

My two passengers didn’t help, wincing and moaning with every scrape or unfamiliar sound, casually mentioning they would buy me gas for my troubles.

About 20 minutes after we started on the dirty road, we came to the road off the correct exit, and pulled up to the water park entrance.

The friend of my roommate pointed out some “no trespassing” signs that “weren’t there the last time”. We sat for a few minutes and talked about our options as the desert sun beat down on us. We decided that the drive and damage to my car (which now sets off car alarms when I drive by because the muffler is torn and sounds like a chainsaw ate a motorcycle) would not be in vain. We were just taking photos, not disturbing anyone or damaging property. And it wasn’t like there was a gate or anything, just some rope blocking our car from getting in. So we sunscreened up, and entered.

As soon as we got in, my roommate spotted something as I snapped this photo:Image

Seconds later, I took this photo:
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My roommate blew past me, yelling “Dog, dog, dog!”

I looked up and saw the mutt, rushing towards us. I turned and ran, but quickly realized that I could outrun both of the people with me, and I was the only one armed, with a box-cutter on my hip. My roommate didn’t stop to look behind him, even though there was no fence to stop the dog from following him to Vegas. I ran to the other person, a girl, blade drawn, just as the dog got to her.

She braced as the dog leaped up, and licked her like she was a popsicle. We relaxed at the discovery that the dog was less Cujo and more Odie. Then we proceeded to relive the event in an exchange of words that I can only describe as a complete waste of 5 minutes.

We took in the rest of our surroundings. There was a trailer just past the parking lot, that we assumed was inhabited, possibly by the owners of the dog.Image

I suggested that we keep it quiet, and not disturb anyone. Dying in the desert from sodomy by a shotgun was not how I wanted to go. However, my two companions didn’t take the quiet part too seriously.
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My roommate is already VERY loud. Like a puppy that doesn’t know that a larger dog can eat it in one gulp, my roommate doesn’t understand that he is louder than a freight train every time he speaks. To make things worse, he has a chronic cough that he makes no attempt ever to stifle, and it is louder than his voice.

And, although I could hear them both from across the park, no one ever came out to bother us, and we had a great time.

Let me just say, these are two great people. But I think they could tell I was a bit annoyed at this point, so they went off on their own, giving me a chance to just take it all in by myself, which I appreciated.

The park has been abandoned since 2004, almost a decade (the same year my car was made…fate? I think so!) All of the slides had been carted away, their concrete pylon supports still in place. Empty pools and waterways had all dried up. Buildings had the doors and windows missing, and all the walls were covered in spray paint. Even the billboards were torn or faded by the sun, and intermingled with graffiti.

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I took over 550 photos that day, two weeks ago, the majority of which were buildings at that park. But, I feel that my best photos were of other things. With the moon out during the middle of the day, some unique opportunities presented themselves.

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Of course, a little Photoshop never hurt anyone…that knew what they were doing with Photoshop.

The sun and desert dryness took its toll, and after what seemed to be less than two hours, we decided to leave. We had walked the whole park, and seen everything there was to see. However, there was one last photo I wanted. I asked my two friends to make a dash for the car, paying homage to the shot of the dog chasing them that I didn’t get the first time.

This was the result:

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I enjoy these little creative trips, whether they are taken on the road, or within my own mind. I just hope the next one involves fewer dogs.

Anniversary: One Year Reflection

I’ve been here for a year.

How do I know? Because WordPress just reminded me. Thank you WordPress for De(word)pressing me.

Let’s recap, shall we?

1st, I got a death threat on Facebook from an estranged relative of a girl I dated, and none of the 2 police stations in either state, nor the FBI did anything about it to this day.

2. Crazy people ranging from roommates to homeless people have remained a constant presence, and nothing short of physical reactions seems to stop them.

3. My creativity remains intermittent, but bears fruit regularly. I have 5 screenplays total, and only 1 left to revise before I submit them for copyright. I have done video work regularly for friends. And I have conceptualized many more projects, each with a little outline behind them.

4. An as yet unmentioned project, I have started a app video game company. Though this is in its most infantile stage, we have some great ideas so far, and have started sketching them out.

5. I constantly meet people in the industry. However, it seems to be the standard that everyone is full of shit, or just wants to brag about themselves and not offer any help.

6. I have come to the realization, that I have to help myself…and I have failed to do so up to this point. That’s right. This year was on me. I have be creative, but not constantly. I haven’t actively sought an audition since October of last year. I fuck off instead of locking my door and writing.

Summary of these 6 points:

A. I have NOT been here a year. I left for 3 months, which were all spent on starring in an independent feature. That 3 months was supposed to be 3 weeks, and significantly set me back financially and spiritually. However, it may have yielded material I can use for my demo reel. And that may just let me break even. I have landed a starring role in another indie short, and that was without even trying (I had originally started by helping a friend format his screenplay). Imagine what will happen if I actively look for auditions!?

I have written two original screenplays in a year, as well as a very difficult adaptation. One of the original screenplays was written start to finish in less than a month…and it is good. I have also been working out regularly, gained a lot of muscle, and am in fantastic health, l’chayim!

CONCLUSION:
I have accepted a job offer from a friend. For the months of November and December I will be working in Cleveland managing a business. I will be paid what I make in half a year in California, and I will use this time to collect my thoughts. And have no excuses for starting the new year full force.

Before I leave, I will copyright my screenplays, and register them with the Writers Guild Association West (WGAW), and look for representation/ enter into contests. I will also contemplate auditioning for small indie/student films, as well as potentially starting on another one of my original screenplays…hopefully finishing before November.

When I come back, I will either have, or focus on completing my demo reel. Join an acting class (for contacts), and actively pursue representation for my acting (and if not done yet, my screenplays).

I might also possibly put together a budget proposal for one or two of my screenplays, and present them to a few contacts to see if it would even be possible to make as an indie feature.

And this year is far from over. Please keep following to see what havoc I wreak on the earth and its inhabitants in the months to come.

If you are still reading, here is a funny video I shot while walking around Long Beach, CA to reward you for your patronage.