Saturday, August 18, 2012


It's been a good week for writing.  The sky opened up and a lot of good ideas dropped out and solved some problems.  I realized I hadn't focused enough and did some hard thinking about the characters.  I had to concentrate on how they would change during the story.  The really brought things together and I finally got a good eye on things.  I went back and rewrote it and the characters are coming off a lot stronger now.  I also got a lot of work done on the second, and final, episode.  The other result of the new characters is there's a lot more conflict and tension, more drama, between them.
Since the whole idea behind the story was changing the title "November Girl" didn't work anymore.  It wasn't about her any more.  I had considered "November Girl: In the Shadows of the Bombs" but that and the individual episode titles got to be to confusing.  "November Girl: In the Shadows of the Bombs.  Episode One: The Long Winter" was way to much.  I finally decided to pull "November Girl" out of the title.  I also think "In the Shadows of the Bombs" is a pretty interesting and attention getting title. 
Will most likely finish the script this weekend.

Friday, August 10, 2012


It hasn't been as good of a week as I had hoped.  They were supposed to review and work on the script in the podcast on Thursday.  On Wednesday night I got an email telling me that, due to budget restrictions, the entire series of podcasts had been cancelled.  That was it.  A really good opportunity just wasn't going to happen.
The script has, however, gotten three reviews from other authors on the Trigger Street Labs site.  There are a few things they brought up that I have to admit need work.  One of thems were the times I told things instead of showing them and I can't deny that is something that needs to be fixed and strengthened.  What happened is I was writing the script in the "What can I produce?" frame of mind and not the big budget feature film mind set.  That really is neither good or bad for the script.  It doesn't hurt it but it would help to keep that in mind during a rewrite.
One thing that puzzles me is the complaints about the "to be" verbs.  In fiction I'm told to focus on them but two of the reviews have said they are distracting in a screenplay.  I'm not sure I understand this.  They specifically say that "November is walking along the river" is the wrong way to say it.  It should be "November walks along the river."  I have to think that one through because I'm not sure I understand the problem there.
There are times they felt that I was really talking to the viewer instead of the characters talking to each other.  I have to admit I'm guilty.  That is partially be design.  It's the Heinlein traits I like so much and have to admit there were times I wanted to say something.  Of course, this complaint came from two of the three reviewers and I should really wait until I get more feedback before approaching it.
One of the reviews really didn't like that I told detailed character motivations and reactions in the description.  "November is confused by this and not sure how to react." should be replaced by "November is unsure and shrugs." or just what she physically does.  This is something I don't really agree with.  I remember reading a book by David Gerrold about writing The Trouble with triblles episode of Star Trek.  He talked about how his original script would have directions like "Kirk reacts." and was told during the production it should give more info and how Kirk reacted.  Was he sad?  Was he angry?  Did he take it seriously?  Need to think about this one a while, too.  


I really got into this script right away. I’m fascinated by end of the world stories, because I know society as we know it can change awfully quick and what could replace it might not be all that pleasant. I love The Walking Dead and World War Z and this reminded me of those a little bit. Just without the zombies.

You opened with a very
strong visual. 25 nukes going off will get your attention. Then the 5 months later slug line is pretty cool too. Good drama, sucks you in. In other movies, the nukes going off might be the end of the movie. Here it is just the start.

You do a great job of getting us to like November right away as she comes to Dove’s rescue. A great “Save the Cat” moment of creating a hero that we like.

From there I liked how you showed us what this new world was like and how details of how the attack happened.

I have to admit, I liked the script when the scope of the characters was smaller. Like in the book and movie “The Road.” A huge event has occurred, but because we stay mainly with the father and son it is easier to follow and stay involved with “The Road.” Once all these different characters came into the picture in your script, it was a little tough keeping up with them all.

I’m sure in a movie it would be fine, as we have the actors to keep up with. On the page of the script it is a little tougher.

It is quite a twist to think that the hero we’ve been following could be involved with the bombing of America, so that was a good twist.

I do have to say I thought the ending was anticlimactic. As I read the script, I was really anticipating the ending. Would another bomb go off? Would the US be restored?

But it ended as if this was just the first part of a series of movies, which may be your goal. I guess I wanted more bang for the buck.

I saw in your bio that you have written some novels, and I would suggest you turn this into a novel, if you haven’t already. Look at he success of Hunger Games. Always a market for strong female characters that can kick ass. Also you can go more internal with your characters and share their thoughts, which you can’t really do with a script.

Post nuclear scripts have been done, but I like your Iowa take on it. How does this small city and its inhabitants
deal with the new world? I liked that.
If I were you I would write this story as a novel and try to get some traction there and then sell the movie rights.
If you want to push it strictly as a screenplay, I would suggest
investing in some screenplay formatting books and make sure your script looks like a Hollywood standard script. Otherwise people might think it is the work of an amateur and not give it a fair shot.
I’m sure a lot of reviews are going to give you a hard time about the format, but the truth is, if it is a good story, format won’t matter. Formatting can be fixed a lot easier than a bad script can be.
If you do reformat, break up your action paragraphs. I try to only have 2 or 3 lines of action in a paragraph, then I start another 2 or 3 line paragraph, if I need it. And if I can have one line, even better. Why? Because people are lazy and tend to skim long blocks of description in scripts.
Of course they will read and buy novels and, which by their nature are very wordy, but scripts are different. The quicker people read, the faster they will get into your story.
Also you don’t need to break the script up into parts, as if it was a mini series. If it is a feature film, you just go from start to finish. No act breaks.
You could always try to sell it as a TV series, but that is easier said than done. Plus it seems a lot like that new NBC series REVOLUTION. Not the idea, but just the tone of it a little bit. Maybe that could be a good thing if Revolution is a hit. Maybe people will rush out to clone it.
So for me, I like the first half better than the last half. I think you should think about making it a novel, if you haven’t already done so. Give the script proper formatting and be aware the ending is kind of a let down. But it does show you have a lot of talent as a writer.
Enjoyed reading it. Good luck.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


A couple of weeks ago I saw this in the newspaper.  I'd been having trouble deciding what project to do next when I caught the daughter's name.  It woke me up enough to get me moving again.  I'd realized that I had done several hundred pages of a novel based on that character and there certainly had to be somewhere else I could pick up her story.  I've been keeping in mind the problems I had the first time around and not letting it get out of hand.  This story is only two episodes with a half dozen characters at most.  I've also been very mindful of locations and specifically keeping it within places I know we could use or green screen if necessary.  Going to finish the script within the next week, maybe even today, then start looking for a November.


Of the 914 videos on PATV's youtube channel Secret Fortunes is the no. 17 of the most viewed shows.  I'm very proud of this and it gets better.  For 2012 it's no. 8 and for the new videos posted in 2012 it's no. 1.  YEAH!  It gets better.

I'm in the process of moving Secret Fortunes up to a bigger market.  Jerrod, from PATV pointed me to a website called PegMedia which is specifically designed to help Public Access stations share shows.  There were some requirements that Josh helped me with yesterday and I uploaded it yesterday.  Now it is in the process of being installed on their server and then I will do a massive email blast to PATV stations around the country.  The way it's set up is I can load it up to their site for free and anyone who wants to download it has to pay 99 cents.  I can also sponsor the downloads so the markets will get them for free.  I might do that but will wait until the next payday to take care of it.  Either way it's a good chance.  I'm hoping one of the things that will make it appeal to stations is it's a dramatic character piece.  I was looking at the hundreds of shows they have and there are lots of talk shows and documentaries.  Nothing bad about that, mind you, it's just that there are very few original dramas.  Will keep you updated as it moves forward.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


I'm finally getting caught up on things.  Sad to say that I had to stop production of November Girl.  There were several reasons why I had to stop and it was a pretty tough decision.  For the most part it felt so good and there seemed to be genuine interest in the project.  I was waiting outside the studio one morning and one of the managers of Uptown Bill's stopped and asked about it.  He was so impressed he gave me his business card and told me to contact him when we were done and we'd try and set some event up with them.  That was great.  Unfortunately there were to many obstacles.
One was the problems with getting actors who would commit to the production.  I had a few of them who agreed to do it and seemed very excited about it but when it came to actually spending time they were just too busy and dropped out.  One guy I work with was going to do one scene for one day.  he only had a few lines and he thought it would be fun.  For reasons I'll never understand his wife got worried that there would be something in the film that got them in to trouble.  What?  She wanted to read the script and see what it was about so I gave them the script for the first episode.  That wasn't enough and she wanted to read the whole script.  I don't know what she thought was in there but I felt uncomfortable having to get script approval from someone I didn't know just so he could do a few lines.  His character didn't even have a name.  It was pretty ridiculous and he dropped out to make his wife happy.  There were all sorts of problems like that and after 5 weeks of work I still had almost no footage to show for it.  I finally had a heart to heart talk with one of the actresses and she admitted that, had she known it would be so complex, she wouldn't have agreed to do it in the first place.  She was polite about it but it was obvious she couldn't give it the dedication it needed.  My only choice was to suspend the project for now.
I haven't given up on it, I still believe this has the potential for being a very successful series, but I've put it on the shelf for a while.  Maybe in fall when there is a new group of actors at UI I'll start it up again.  I'll have to start from scratch, there is no way to use the footage we shot with a recast, and hopefully I'll find someone who lives in Iowa City who'll help out.  It would just be much easier to set up the locations if there was someone who lived in town and didn't have to make a big trip.
In the mean time I've entered the script in the Land Locked Film Festival in October.  I've also submitted it to Trigger Street labs which is a site set up by actor Kevin Spacey to help people promote their work.  I'm also looking to see if there are other possibilities.
Will, hopefully, have some good news in the future.
Not really sure what my next project will be.  Everyone at PATV has been very supportive and I want to do more there.  I've had a few ideas but nothing has really got me excited yet. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012


Last weekend I got an out of the blue email from an actress who was wondering if there were any parts available.  I told her I was looking for an actress to play Carmen, the wicked mayor, and asked her if she had ever played a villain.  She said she had played Abigail in The Crucible last year for Theater Cedar Rapids.  Now that is a villain!  Going to meet with her sometime this week and hoping she'll join up.
Two important roles I still need to cast before I can start doing some serious scheduling.  Randall, the mayor's assistant who becomes a big player, and Nathan, November's love interest.  Not sure where to look for them.  I've used up the sources I can think of.  Hoping for another out of the blue email.
Made some prop awards and diploma's for officer Barto and they are up on the November Girl facebook page.  Think I've got someplace I can use as his office.  I realized that the keyword would be functional for a police officer's office, especially after 25 nukes have left the US in chaos, so I think I solved that problem.  Have to check it out when I go to I.C. on Thursday.  Also looking at Hall Mall for a possible Mayor's office.  Her's would still have to be someplace really fancy to show her authority and power even after the attacks.  Or, at least some place I could dress up enough to look fancy.
Trying to put together something for next weekend even though Sunday is Mother's Day.  If possible would like to get enough together to shoot some scenes but, if that can't work, just a few actors for rehearsal.  Will keep everyone updated.

Monday, April 30, 2012


I am in the process of scheduling the next shooting block.  I was looking at Sunday the 13th but it was pointed out to me today that it is Mother's Day so that probably won't work for a full day so I am trying to reschedule some shoots for the weekend after and see if we can shoot just one scene in the evening.  It's a bit complicated but it comes with the territory.  I'm sorry for the delays in getting things scheduled.
On the good side I got a location for the warehouse fight scene.  It's a bit smaller than I'd hope so I'm going to have to do some work with the shadows to make it look bigger.  It also has plenty of boxes and shelves so it should be easy to stack things in the right place.  Will most likely have to try and take my own lights to get it to work. 
Still on the hunt for an office to use.  Going to try the Hall Mall and a few of the banks and realtors in the area.
Also still on the lookout for a few important roles. 
NATHAN: This character is November's love interest for the video.  Need a male anywhere from 19 to 30 to make this work.  Once I have that character I'll have all of the characters that November deals with so I can push forward on scheduling.
RANDALL: This character is the mayor's assistant who decides to hook on to her drive for success and a big part in the new world after the bombs.  This was written as a male character but I could do some rewriting if I can find the right actress.
MAYOR BERINI: Unfortunately the actress who was going to play this role has had to drop out.  I need someone who looks at least 30+ for one of the leading roles.
Will keep you updated and thank you for your patience.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


We now have boots on the ground.
We shot the first scene of November Girl this morning at the PATV parking lot.  The weather was pretty bad at first, windy and gray, but by the time we got shooting it had cleared up.  We talked about how in someway it was better being sunny because, stereotypically, scenes like the one were done with dark and dreary atmosphere. 
We didn't get as much done as I'd planned but what we did get done looked great.  Jessica and John worked the scene.  They work really well together and I almost wish it were possible to pair the two characters again.  John is much taller than both Jessica and Susanna so the staging was difficult but we made it work. 
Josh had made the suggestion of getting white board to help with the lighting and we made good use of that.  The way we were shooting it Jessica's back was to the sun and it was hard to get light on her face without restaging the whole scene.  We used the white board to help bounce the sunlight back at her.  I captured the footage afterwards and it works great. 
I'm going to try and set up a days shooting by location for May.  I'm using various tarps to make a tent for a trading post.  I'm going to go through the script and see if I can put together all the scenes set there and shoot them in one day.  It'll be a long day but we can get several scenes done.  It'll also be much easier than rebuilding the same set several times.
Will keep you updated.   

Sunday, April 15, 2012


We're a week away from shooting the first scenes of November Girl. I can't deny that I'm amazed that this has come together so fast. It took a year and a half to get Secret Fortunes ready to go and this will be shooting in less than four months since origin. I'm expecting it'll take another three or four months before we finish shooting be cause we only can work on weekends and, then again, not every weekend but it's still quite a change. Secret Fortunes is giving benefits I didn't expect. Having such a solid project there is giving me lots of credibility so people can see the kind of work I do.
It's been interesting the way things have been happening with getting locations. I tried Ragstock and Iowa City City Hall and got completely shut out. Ragstock wouldn't even answer my emails and Iowa City just flat out refused. Stuff and the Haunted Bookshop were just the opposite and were very wonderful in wanting to work something out.
A posting at UI theater gave me a few contacts but they didn't pan out. I got an email from the Director of Theater at Kirkwood who says several students are very interested in being a part of this project. They have a production going on this weekend, he will pass the word along to them how to get a hold of me, and I'm hoping to hear from them in a few days.
I have most of the major characters all cast and hope to finish of the rest of them with Kirkwood students. I understand that this is a volunteer project for everyone and will do everything I possibly can to make sure they enjoy it. I will make it as convenient as possible and want to make sure that when they finish they walk away thinking how much they enjoyed the project. Most everyone has understood that and will work with me on this. There was one actress who asked about if I would pay scale and what kind of distribution system I had set up to get it into theaters. I explained to her what was going on, that this was a non-profit all volunteer production. I haven't heard from her since.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


We had some snow last week so I went to Iowa City on Saturday and checked out one of the HD cameras. One of the episodes of November Girl is a flashback episode that takes place in November and I needed as much stock footage as I could get of the city in winter. With a bit of editing and the proper narration it'll easily work as November footage. I just had to be careful about the kiosks I shot cause lots of them had notices for concerts dated in February or March. I'm planning on going back on Thursday of this week and get more footage with a few crowds. The city was pretty barren on Saturday. I'm going to whip up a few generic postings for November events and just put them up to get the shots in on one.
This one seems to be coming together a lot faster than the others. I put up a notice on craigslist and have gotten a few responses. Nothing concrete yet but still a promising start. I'm positive it helps having Secret Fortunes online and on PATV. It gives me some street cred when people see something done. Just hope to have a cast together so we could shoot some scenes during spring break when we get good light and temperatures but not a lot of people around.


The video has been showing on and off for a week on PATV. Just by chance saw their schedule the other night about 30 minutes before it was being broadcast. It's really an odd feeling like when I see that someone bought one of my books. I always wonder if some strange person I've never heard of will finish it thinking it was good time or crap.
I've gotten some feedback from people and they have been very complimentary. No really intense reviews from people I don't know but very positive comments. I finally burned myself a DVD copy and watched it last night on my HD TV at home. It was really very exciting to see it. It's really turned out quite well if I do say so myself. Almost 200 hits on youTube as well.
I keep looking for ways to promote it. Checking around for film contests or other PATV stations that might want to air it. Even after all these years I'm still not used to promoting, in essence, myself. It feels kind of strange. I have to admit I'd prefer just to stay in the background.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


I was at PATV today and Jerrod called me into the lobby. As it turned out Secret Fortunes was being broadcast at that time. It was very unreal to see it as it was broadcast. Couldn't help but wonder if anyone was out there watching it. What did they think? Did they like it? There have also been 120 hits of Youtube and I get the same feeling. I just hope whoever caught it at least felt that it was a good 20 minutes. Sure, it'd would be great if they fell in love with it and tell everyone else about it but I'd be happy as well if they just enjoyed a brief encounter with it.
I had a small premier at the studio today. Al, Ally and Jessica got to see the completed version for the first time. One of my biggest goal was that all of the people who contributed time and effort to it walked away feeling good when it was done. I'm positive I accomplished that after seeing their reactions today. Just for fun I put together a selection of outtakes and it helped everyone release a lot of energy afterward. Since most of the cast are women I also put together some shots set to the tune of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper. I really think that was an excellent way to say 'Thanks.'

Saturday, February 11, 2012


It's done! It's up and running and found an online home on PATV's channel at youtube. I had originally planned to add it to me own channel but they won't let me upload anything that runs longer than 15 minutes. I just haven't been active enough on youtube. The only way I could have done it on my own channel was to cut it in two and I didn't want to do that. I'm glad it found a good home.
This version is slightly different from the first one loaded up last week.
One change is I added a few shots to the ambush sequence of Gallif reacting afterwards. Before it just ended after she strikes the attacker so it didn't have any personal touches to it. Now we see her looking at the body and can see that she did not enjoy the incident. It gives the impression that what she did meant something to her. She felt it.
The second change is putting another layer of footage over one of the whispers sequences. I was thinking that there should have been some shots of her grieving the deaths of her family and friends but going back and doing another shooting just wasn't practical. What I did was layer footage of her standing, looking shocked, and holding a blood dripping sword. It gets the message that she has been surrounded by lots of violence in her life and makes the question she asks much more meaningful.
I also decided that this is it. No changes. reedits or reworking scenes, etc. I really don't like when people do that to movies. It just makes things confusing and, sometimes, just takes away from the original. This is as done as it will ever be.
Hope you can enjoy it.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


It's finally finished. I finished the video editing a week ago and then turned it over to Tim to do an audio edit. He settled some of the levels so it wasn't to loud and managed to get rid of a few odd sounds that came in from either the studio, mic placement, or the business upstairs. I officially signed off on it on Thursday February 2nd. The official PATV copy was burned off and took 18 hours to upload it to their server. It was officially listed on their site on February 4th.
So far the reactions from people have been really good. 11 people clicked that they liked it on the Facebook link. Someone has even left a comment on the PATV site that they liked it. Everybody has been really good at helping get the word around so people can hear about it.
I also did some shameless tweeting to promote it. I have to admit that. I thought about it for about 4 seconds and then realized there was no reason not to. So some of the people I follow like Tom Hanks, Rosario Dawson, Steven Moffatt and Lindsay Lohan got a tweet with a brief link to PATV yesterday. I also send tweets to some of the sci-fi websites I follow. Don't know if it's just coincidence but I picked up two followers within an hour afterwards.
What I need to do next is write a press release email for the actual broadcast on PATV. I haven't done one in a while and have been working on the actual wording. I'm starting to think that something straight and to the point will be best.
After that I'll put the final product on Youtube for even bigger distribution. The only thing I don't like about it is I will have to break it up in to 2 parts. It's 21:35 and that is to big for them. I don't like that it'll have to be broken up but there is really no other way to get it in to distribution there.

Friday, January 20, 2012


It is so much fun to be writing a script again. It's been a long time but it's coming together really strong. It's also fun to be writing scenes that we can shoot in Iowa city. There's a lot of freedom coming with this one. It's also a very different story from Secret Fortunes. It's much darker, more adult, with darker and less defined characters. I'm also loving the cliffhangers.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Met with Susanna yesterday and recorded some V.O. dialogue. The best way to do it was to use the HD camera with the best microphone and do it in the studio so I set it up with lights and everything. It may have been a bit more than I needed, come to think about it, but I figured the production after me could save time by having everything in place. Turns out they ended up rearranging the studio but I at least got in the experience.
It's coming together now. Also was able to see the first promo broadcast on PATV. It's really very exciting. I'll be going over Wednesday to edit and the plan is to finish it off next Saturday.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


I've started work on a script using this character and her world. I got quite a bit done this weekend and I'm very excited about it. It's going to be fun doing something with an almost contemporary setting and only one special effect. I'm purposefully picking public places in Iowa City we could easily shoot scenes at. The big goal is also to expand my acting stable and have more characters. As much as I want to avoid it I may have to do one of the roles.



We are floating in space above earth. Beneath us we can clearly see the North American continent. The sun is just going down over the western horizon. All is silent and peaceful for a while then there 25 bright flashes across the face of the continent. They are burning nuclear explosions lighting up the night at strategic points across the United States.


Caption: “Six months later…”