Monday, November 19, 2018




    Remember near the end of FIELD OF DREAMS when James Earl Jones does the poetic soliloquy about how the history of baseball has been like signposts marking momentous events in our own personal history? That's how film has always been for me. In fact there have been times I've attempted to remember which year (and month of a year) when something momentous happened in my life, and remembering which film I saw at the movies around that same time helped me lock in on / pinpoint the date.

     I'm a hardcore realist (as I think is fairly evident / obvious by some of those more political postings some have seen). But I'm also perhaps ironically one of those freakish individuals who actually still believes in a lot of the idealistic sh*t you see in many films. In other words I've never been one of those, y'know, like we all know (and maybe some are themselves) who will cheer a character in some true story who dies for what they believe in, but on Monday morning won't have the courage to tell their supervisor they think next week's schedule is unfair, or won't speak up when observing a sexist or racist scenario in the workplace or school environment or whatever. I personally can't cheer something then not live it myself. I don't understand how anyone can. But that's another subject for another posting. Anyway ...

The (tired) guy who wrote this

     I'm presently working on a script to be handed over to a notable producer. And he's an awesome fellow who loves and knows film every bit as much as I do. And believe me / believe it or not this isn't always the case with some (maybe even many) producers. In fact with this guy our "pitch" sit down ran almost two hours, ... and we spent the first hour and 15 mins of it just laughing and reminiscing about favorite films while growing up, and sharing similar tales from years working in both video stores and as restaurant waiters before we even got to me pitching my "top five". So, while I seriously respect the man, I'm not "intimidated" by him. And that's great. In fact that's how I think it should be. That doesn't mean however that sometimes you don't allow your "creative attention" to drift into hazardous shores. And I believe among those water breakers can be that thing where - before you realize it - you find yourself writing (or altering something in your story) because a part of you thinks this particular person will dig it, or it will make it "easier to sell".

Losing one's creative way: BARTON FINK (1991)

     I learned a long time ago you just can't do that. That's the dive-into-a-swimming-pool-with-no-water / rope-yourself-up-from-the-ceiling-by-the-neck death of creativity which will strangle every breath of magic out of whatever it is you're doing. Now, you don't want to do the opposite end of the equation - which is "creative masturbation" - where you write for yourself alone, and the audience and those "bean counting suits and hack critics" be damned if they don't "get my vision". Uh uh! But you've got to keep in mind, remember, stay faithful to the idea that there was something about your earlier work which this person or persons connected with - some fire / magic / passion which was distinctly you. That's what you need to be faithful to because that "certain something" which you had and others didn't is what attracted them to you and your work in the first place.

Losing one's creative way: THE PLAYER (1992)

     It's easy to look around and become distracted by the "bigness" of where your work is to go after it leaves your desk or easel or studio or whatever. But in order to do that work faithfully and well, and in order to keep the magic - the creative "oxygen feed" (if you will) - even and pure and well regulated and pressurized, and to keep it steady regardless of the orbital heights or sub-sea depths that work will travel to, you've got to just sit there in the room alone in the wee hours and do the exact same thing you did when no one knew your name or gave a damn about what you were working on. Y'know, when you were just doing it ... because.

Losing one's creative way: THE BIG PICTURE (1989)

     If the fire and the magic is there when you finish that work (and if you remain faithful to yourself it will be), then afterwards the notes and pruning and editing and rewrites will come / begin. And the challenge then becomes how to adjust and prune and change while remaining faithful to the fire / magic born in that room alone. Heh heh! But that's another blog train entirely - one of which we'll maybe get into somewhere later down the line. In the meantime, however, one has to not get distracted before reaching that point by the "bigness" of the environment - by the "grandness" of the arena into which your work is slated to enter. In this regard one of those "movie life signposts" which has become a philosophical stanchion for me over the years is that scene near the end of HOOSIERS.


     The Huskers high school basketball team - from the flea speck farming town of Hickory, Indiana, and lead by coach Gene Hackman - makes it all the way to the State Championship Game in Indianapolis. And upon first entering the huge indoor arena where the match will take place, Hackman notices the look of overwhelming nervousness (no, downright fear) on the faces of his players. Then he does what's in the clip below.

     I always think of this scene when I notice myself "mentally drifting" a little, and find myself possibly losing the importance above all else of remembering being alone in the small room. As soon as you remember the small room any and all nervousness suddenly vanishes, and you find yourself infused with another fresh creative wind of the soul.

     This recurring lesson couldn't be more profound if it was told to you face to face by the Dalai Lama himself. So, to Norman Dale (oh, that's Hackman's character in the movie, BTW!) ...

     ... Whew! Thanks big time, Coach! ;)


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_____________________________________________ FIELD OF DREAMS (1989)     Remember near the end of FIELD OF DREAMS when James...