Thursday, May 31, 2012

"Meeting John Carpenter" on hold...

Just a short update on the story outline "Meeting John Carpenter".

I'm sure some of you who have read part one are probably wondering what the delay is for the second part of the epic tale "Meeting John Carpenter", and at the same time I'm positive that the remaining few could really care less. 

I hope I'm way off on this one.

Truth is, I have been doing some tweaking to the story; changing major plot points and whatnot--just trying to bring to you, the best version that I can possibly deliver. Which, of course, is the big reason why I haven't published, or even begun to write, the second part to "Meeting John Carpenter".

 Bottom line: I want to 'start fresh', with a revamped version of what I feel could be the next "Being John Malkovich".  Oh yeah, I kid you not!

Actually, I was just being lazy as hell. No, seriously though...

I hope those who read the first version will keep an eye open for the 'revamped' version. It should be a lot more interesting, with some added stuff that's sure to tickle your fancy. 

Can somebody please say "Fan Raffle"?!!

Thank you and have a wonderful day...week...month...year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Meeting John Carpenter (the story)

 (Eventually, there will be a screenplay to follow.)

Chris and James, both in their 30's, are faced with a dilemma.  Their dream of becoming successful filmmakers has not yet turned into a reality, and the chance that their newest screenplay "Vampires and Virgins" will ever be read by anybody above the custodial payscale, is slim at best. 

And even though their YouTube Channel "The Screaming Dungeon" has topped the 1,000 subscription mark, and most of their 23 vlogs have garnered a slew of predominantly 'positive' comments, this hasn't done much in the way of moving their 'careers' (as filmmakers) forward.  

In other words...they are stuck.  They have to make a move, and they have to make it  now!

Los Angeles Convention Center:  "Horror-thon Weekend" -- featuring the 'Mother of All Tributes'.  'JOHN CARPENTER: His Life & His Films.'  

Carpenter's entire body of work will be showcased in a special, celebrity-filled Q&A panel, consisting of some of the most well-known actors/actresses ever to star in a 'John Carpenter' film. This is John Carpenter's last hurrah for he is finally 'hanging it up'.

This event has the city of Los Angeles and the entire 'horror genre' buzzing.  Tickets/VIP Passes are beginning to disappear quickly, and neighboring hotels are starting to book reservations at an even faster clip.

The news of Carpenter saying 'goodbye to filmmaking for good' has left both Chris and James with an ultimatum:  Now or Never!

They instantly snatch up 2 VIP Passes and start planning their strategy.  Not only is it imperative that they make 'contact' with the Horror Master himself, but they must make sure that they get a copy of "Vampires and Virgins" into his hands--or at least, before any security guards can intervene.

Packed and ready, Chris and James start their journey toward true manhood.  They are about to step up to the plate and kick the damn door in.  But first, they must navigate through the jungle of hell... L.A. traffic!

Meanwhile, on the other side of town... waaaaaaaaaay on the other side of town...  

John Carpenter is facing his own dilemma.

He sits comfortably in an over-sized sofa chair, facing a 40 inch HD plasma flat-screen, carefully manuvering his way through a difficult level of "DEAD ISLAND". 

Around him, covered in bedsheets, are the furnishings of his office--pulled away from the walls, to allow for painting.  Several ladders are scattered about, but this does not seem to be a distraction.

John plays on.

Outside his office door (which happens to resemble one of those 'film noir' crime drama office doors, with the fogged glass and the letters 'John Carpenter's Office' perfectly centered), are the sounds of hustle and bustle.  Home Depot's finest.  

The Mexican chatter does not distract.

Despite the occasional 'profanity-laden' tirade, Carpenter appears to be in complete control of the situation.  This is how the Horror Master does his thinking and needs not to be questioned.

Upon finishing the difficult level, John reluctantly pulls himself from the sofa chair and then moves over to his desk, where his bags--packed and ready to go--sit on the marble floor, next to a small trash can.  He begins to address a few 'last minute' details before leaving for the Hotel.

He checks his email, searches several drawers for any sign of a cigarette pack, and then answers an 'already blinking' line on his business phone system.  He pushes the 'speaker' button and bellows "Ok, what do ya got?!!"  

His manager/agent replies... "Who is this again?!!"

Carpenter finds his mystery cigarette pack, slides one in his mouth, fires it up and deeply inhales...then exhales.  And with a calmness, that only a nicotine rush could administer, he replies...

"This is John Carpenter, who the hell is this!!"

"Oh, sorry John... You had me on hold for so long, I just decided to take a few other calls.  And then my wife called with her usual bullshit, about some idiot who forgot to inform her of some stupid store policy and whatnot..."

During all of this, Carpenter checks his Facebook page, reading some of his most recent comments, before clicking over to Twitter.  His agent continues to ramble on...

" she's pissed off about that, whatever that is, since I don't really pay her any attention anyway, and then there's the problem with the landscaper..."

John takes another deep drag off of his cigarette, clicking away at his mouse.  He begins to grin as he checks out a recent tweet from one of his more 'preferred' fans.  It is from a username @TrailRTrash and it reads "My newest Tats!" with a pic link that brings up an image of a woman's enormous breasts, pressed together by two 'soft-looking' hands.

On the left breast is the word 'JOHN', and on the right is the word 'CARPENTER'.  Above the cleavage are the words 'INSERT HERE', with an arrow pointing downward.

John's agent/manager is still lamenting about his ongoing issues.

John Carpenter, focusing on the image in front of him, mumbles to himself... "Very Nice!"

"...huh?  Why is that nice?!!  I'm telling you that my life is shit, why is that nice?!!"

Carpenter snaps back to reality, and engages his agent/manager in business talk.  They discuss a pending endorsement deal with a hip new 't-shirt company', as John just happens to have the open package on his desk.  He pulls out one of the t-shirts and inspects it again.

It is a black t-shirt with an image of Carpenter on the front.  Above the pic, are the words "I'm John Carpenter",  and underneath the pic, are the words "Who the Hell Are You?!!"

John waffles over it for a moment or two, but then finally agrees.  "Ok fuck it, let's do it!"

They continue to iron out the details, just as another call comes through.  John agrees to stop by his agent/manager's office on the way to the Hotel, so he can sign the contract.  He then takes the other call.

"John Carpenter" he responds cooly.

It's his wife, calling to inform him that the 'house speaker' has been temporarily disconnected from the wall while the painters work, and that if he wants to take along some freshly-made 'egg salad' sandwiches to the Hotel with him, they are in the refrigerator.

This pleases him somewhat, as he finishes the conversation with a simple 'I love you too!' and 'Did you remember to pick up some Anchor Steam while you were out?'

After finishing his current cigarette, Carpenter fishes another out of the pack just as another call comes through.  This time, he checks the Caller ID and sees that it is a call from "Laurie".

He presses the speaker button and flicks his lighter.  He continues weeding through his 'tweets' as he takes the call. 

"Hey Jamie, how's it going?  Did you get the Itinerary I had sent over to ya?!!"

It is Jamie-Lee Curtis.  She responds in her sultry 'Escape From New York' voice...

"Hi John.  How are you?"

John with a deep sigh, responds... "What's wrong?!!"

"I can't make it this weekend.  I know it's last minute and I'm sorry.  But I've got... Activia issues."  Jamie delicately explains.

John is somewhat confused.  "I thought the new deal was closed last month, what happened?!!"

"John..."  she slowly responds.  "...I have Activia issues!"

John is still clueless.

"John, I have the shits, ok!!  Are you happy now?!!  I HAVE THE SHITS!!"

Carpenter tries to respond, but it's no use...the flood gates have opened.

"I know it's a shit thing to do at such short notice, and I'm sorry...but I can't be away from the toilet for any length of time..."

John glances over at several empty 'Activia' yogurt cups (a gift from Jamie-Lee), and begins to worry.  He quickly tosses them into the trash can.

"...I'm sorry, but I'm not going to sit my ass down on public porcelain, no way!!  I'm sorry, but that's all I have to say right now...  Maybe another time..."

He interrupts.  "That's fine.  PJ is going to be there and I have Nancy(Loomis) as backup.  So, not a problem!"

This seems to subdue Jamie-Lee Curtis a bit.  She apologizes once again and wishes John luck on a successful night.  John then reassures Jamie that everything is fine, and that he hopes her 'issues' are resolved soon.  End of conversation.

John lights up another cigarette just as another phone call comes through.  He glances down at the Caller ID.  It reads: "E.B"  He hesitates a second before pressing the 'speaker' button.  "This is Jo--"

"Hi John, it's Cabbie!!"  the voice blurts out.

It's Ernest Borgnine...again. And with much enthusiasm...again.  The conversation bounces back and forth rather awkwardly.

"Just wanted to re-confirm what time you wanted me to--"

"Be there at 7:30, Ernie...7:30!!"

"--be there, and to see if it would be ok if I--"

"Come around to the side door.  7:30.  Side door, 7:30 ok!  Thanks, see ya then!!"

"--wore my Cabbie hat from 'EFNY'!!

Click.  John hangs up.  He takes a much-needed drag from his cigarette, before focusing his attention back on Twitter.  Just as he begins to weed through his numerous 'tweets', the phone system lights up again.  Another call.

John glances at the Caller ID again.  It reads 'LoserHackFuckFace'.  Carpenter sighs, and then reluctantly presses the speaker button.  

"This is John."

A soft voice begins to talk through the speaker phone.  "Hey's Zombie."

Rob Zombie is on the line.  LoserHackFuckFace himself.  John manages to maintain composure as he walks on the 'Hollywood' eggshells, yet once again.  He does not enjoy this part of the business and it shows.

"Ok.  What's up Rob?" John asks--not a care in the world.

Rob clears his throat, sniffs a few times, and then begins to speak.  "Yeah, like I said... it's Zombie and... I just wanted to let you know that..."

 "What's on your mind Rob?!!" John quickly interrupts.

The snail's pace of the conversation has forced John to speed things along.

There is a slight pause, before Rob continues... "Well, like I said..."
John rolls his eyes and impatiently starts bouncing his left leg.

Rob Zombie continues his speech, and informs John that he has agreed to take on the reboot of "Escape from New York".  There is an awkward silence as John checks his 'tweets', and Rob begins to repeat himself before John cuts in...

"So what do you want me to say?" rather unimpressed and disinterested.

"I don't want you to say anything if you don't want to say anything.  Just thought I'd be a cool dude and let you know ahead of time, before I got things rolling and know!"

Just as Rob begins to get rolling, Carpenter comes across a very disturbing 'tweet'.  

@MyKillMyers has tweeted him "Why havn't U respnded to any of my tweets?" with a twitpic of a very large 'butcher knife' being held by a bloody hand.

This causes John to react out loud... "YOU SICK FUCK!"

"Excuse me?!!" Rob replies--caught off-guard.

Carpenter quickly shuts his monitor off.  He sucks deep and hard on what is left of his cigarette, before slumping back into his leather chair.

"John."  Rob Zombie prods.

John Carpenter, not in the best of moods at the moment, reaches for the speaker button.  "Good luck Rob!" he quickly says, before hanging up.  

The recent tweet has left him visibly shaken.  He manages to gather himself, as he grabs his bags and heads to the door.  He stops, turns, and takes one last look at the inside of his spacious 'office'; like a person saying goodbye to an 'old friend'.

He then shakes his head and mutters... "Yeah, fuck you Michael Myers.  Fuck you right in your ass!!"

And with that, John Carpenter exits.  The Mexican chatter continuing.

(Part II coming soon!)


Monday, December 12, 2011

Everybody is a Millionaire!

(My uncle told me this story when I was a kid)
Once there was a man who made a wish.  Standing outside of the most expensive Hotel the city had to offer, the man shouted to the skies above "I wish I was a Millionaire!"  

And in a flash...he was!  

His old, tattered clothes became new, expensive clothes.  He had a top hat, and an expensive-looking cane to match.  The shocked and bemused man let out a joyous howl, thumped his heavily polished cane into the pavement below, and proceeded into the luxurious Hotel in front of him.

The first thing he noticed was...there was nobody outside to open the door for him.  Seemed strange that the most 'expensive' Hotel in the city would not have a doorman outside to accommodate its patrons.  He opened the door himself and made his way into the lobby, where he noticed a few other 'rich-looking' people just standing around, looking confused.

The man then wandered over to a vacant Hotel desk, wondering where the clerk had disappeared to.  A few quick slaps of the bell still produced no results.  He looked around and could not see any sign of anybody who even resembled an employee of the Hotel.

Spotting an 'older gent' standing in front of the nearby elevator, the man quickly made his way over; joining the older fellow as they both waited for the elevator to arrive.  And as the elevator doors opened, and the man noticed that there was no 'operator' inside, he turned to the older man next to him...
"Excuse me, I hate to bother you but I must ask... Where is everybody?!!"

The older gentleman replies, "What exactly do you mean?"

"When I came inside, there was no doorman.  There is nobody behind the desk... not a clerk, not a bellboy, nobody at all.  And then just now, there is no elevator 'operator'!  Where has everybody gone?!!"

The older man begins to chuckle... "Oh, I guess you haven't heard."
"Heard what?" the confused man replies.

"Everybody is a Millionaire!"

And with that, the two men disappeared into the elevators...left to 'push' their own buttons.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

"Meeting John Carpenter" A 'not-so-quick' story behind the story

(The following is mostly parody.  Some of the truth has been withheld until further notice!)

The idea to write a screenplay titled "Meeting John Carpenter" came to me after I had recently been assimilated into the Twitter world.  For the longest time,  I had resisted the whole 'social networking' thing,  mostly because of principle.  I consider myself  'old school'  to a point,  and I didn't want to become like most of the idiots who are seen walking down the street,  with their heads down--staring at some glowing gadget.  

(A person could get seriously hurt doing something like that or at the very least,  they could miss their destination and have to turn around and go back.)

It was something that just didn't appeal to me. I didn't want to feel like a 'follower'.  It was just not something I wanted to be.  So, I resisted the whole thing and scoffed at everybody else who embraced it.  Until...

I had a discussion with my bro, about the ending of the original "Phantasm" movie, and I had found out that he and I had remembered a slightly different ending in the theatrical version,  compared to the VHS or DVD version.  We weren't hallucinating, and we definitely didn't 'dream it'.  We both agreed that the "Phantasm" theatrical ending was slightly different, and yet I still needed confirmation.  

Confirmation from somebody who knew the film better than I or my brother could ever know it... The Director himself: Don Coscarelli.

First off, this is the ending that my brother and I remember seeing in the theater, back when we were little kids.  At the end, when Michael goes up to his room to pack for the trip that he and Reggie are going to take,  Michael closes the closet door to reveal the Tall Man in the mirror.  

No difference, still the same.  

But, when the ghoulish hands smash through the mirror and pull Michael through, it cut back down to Reggie playing his guitar.  Reggie stops for a moment, glances up at the ceiling--as if he were listening to the commotion--and then slightly grins.  He then looks back down at his guitar and continues playing.  Then of course, it cuts to black and rolls credits.  

Kind of ambiguous, but cool none-the-less.

That is how my brother and I both remember it.  Were we both 'dreaming' it?  Were we both experiencing our very own "Phantasm" moment?  Only Don Coscarelli knows, and he's not really telling. That's where Twitter comes in.  

I decided to try and contact Don Coscarelli through Twitter, because I was aware of the fact that some 'celebs' actually do tweet back to the fans.  Big surprise there. So I figured that it would be my best shot at confirming what my brother and I had suspected all along.  That there was, in fact, an alternate ending to "Phantasm".

So I registered.  First name I searched for was, you guessed it... Adam Lambert.  He's such an awesome singer and performer, and he's just so HOT!!  And of course, Don Coscarelli was my second search.

I figured out how to do the tweeting thing, and I tweeted Don my question. Then I waited... And waited... Finally, after maybe an hour or two, I decided that I was just not gonna sit around and wait for Don to respond. So, I started searching for other 'celebs' and I found out that 'the horrormaster' himself, John 'fricken' Carpenter, was on Twitter.  

I nearly shit a brick.  

I clicked on his avatar profile pic, and saw that he actually tweeted back to his fans. Wow!!  I could actually have a 140 character chat with one of my idols (the other is Howard Stern).

Trying to plan out my first tweet to Carpenter, was like rehearsing your first phone call to some girl in school that you had a huge crush on.  It was just sickening. I nearly 'planned' myself right into a crazed psychosis (whatever that means).  Finally, I just tweeted something 'vanilla' and sent it along. 

Nothing. Not a word. 

Days passed, and I started to feel like I was just wasting my time. So, I just did what any other person would do when faced with a similar situation: I started tweeting anybody and everybody I could, with random comments about random events.

I think I tweeted Emeril Lagasse with something like "Bam. Bam, Bam!!"
It was sad. I had to do something to curb my enthusiasm, I boredom.

I sent a few more tweets John Carpenter's way, thinking that it wouldn't mean anything, but then one day...something happened.  Carpenter tweeted back!  My whole image of him being this 'stuck up', money-grubbing, self-promoting, egotistical blowhard' just seemed to quietly disappear from my head.  

From then on, it was like the flood gates had been lifted.  I tweeted John about anything and everything.  

What kind of food he liked, what kind of beer he drank, whether or not he wore boxers or briefs.  It was a no-holds barred 'tweetfest'. It was like John and I were buddies.

Of course, John wouldn't always respond, but that is to be expected. I mean, there are soooo many others who might be clamoring for his attention, that to expect somebody like John Carpenter to devote most of his time to an unknown like myself would not only be unrealistic, but downright delusional. I still wanted to know why he didn't respond to my tweet, asking if he "enjoyed fishing".  

John was a busy man. I was not.

That is when I had my epiphany--if you call it that. I realized that what was happening here was a clear cut case of 'obsessive celebrititas'. I was becoming a stalker, and I didn't even know it. I had to step back and look at it from a different perspective. 

And it was at that point, that I realized that this might make a pretty interesting and funny story.

What if John Carpenter became the 'obsession' of a longtime fan, and he didn't even know it. The fact that John's lack of reciprocation didn't faze him one bit, only added fuel to the so-called 'fire'.  

Before anybody starts to call the FBI, I started to formulate a 'funny' view of this story. A parody, if you will. Since I have no real idea how John Carpenter is in his personal or business life, or just life for that matter, I can only take what little that I do know and create a 'character' of John Carpenter.  Much like "Being John Malkovich".

In no way, am I suggesting that John Carpenter is portrayed accurately in my screenplay. It's just for fun. And I hope that, if he ever reads this, which I doubt that he ever will, he might understand that it's just for fun...and not sue me for libel. Or slander. Or just for the money, for which I have none.

My next blog will be my story outline--if you call it that--of my screenplay "Meeting John Carpenter".  It's still in the rough stages, but it might be interesting to check out anyway.

There's more to the story behind the story, but it's mostly just fluff. Todd Farmer fluff. He still plays hard to get, and that's fine... Todd is a busy man too. I am not.

(Don Coscarelli, did in fact, respond to my tweet but was very 'ambiguous' in his response. So much for that.)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Farmer Fred and the Lost Candy Bar

I understand that most people enjoy other people; be it through conversation or just observing them and their natural habits and whatnot.  I get that.  Hell, I even enjoy talking to people from time to time; making casual conversation and just shooting the shit.  But there is a time and a place for that, and the time and place is not while standing in line at the Grocery Store, while there are 5 registers humming and the lines are 5 deep. 

You just don't do it.  Let me elaborate further.

Like most people in this country,  I have to visit the Grocery Store at least once a week; sometimes twice a week.  I have a place that I go to called Grocery Outlet, but that's not too important.  Even though they have great deals, it's not too relevant to this story.  It's just that because of it's great deals, it tends to attract a lot of people.  So, of course it was busy on this particular day.  Busier than usual.

I had already spent almost a half hour pushing my rickety-rackety shopping cart throughout the store, and after maneuvering my way through a parade of 'bargain hunters', I was tired and ready to bring it in.  It was time to go home.  My cart was on it's last leg and I had found...pretty much everything I wanted.  So, like many of the others, I found a line and got in it.


The line I chose, had an older-looking fella in it, with a shopping cart full of small to medium-sized items; just a pile of this and that, etc.  And it was taking the cashier longer than normal to process this transaction.  But that wasn't the thing that started my blood boiling...

Rather than empty his cart out onto the conveyor belt ( there was plenty of room ), this dude spent the 'idle' time trying to make unnecessary conversation with a girl 30+ years his younger.  Holding up the process and thus, holding me up from being able to unload my shopping cart.  Just a real dipstick, if you want the truth.  But that's not the end of it...

As the conveyor belt begins to get emptied by the cashier, who is also running out of space to put the 'already bagged' items ( an empty shopping cart would have been ideal for this ), this idiot decides to search through the remaining 'stuff' for a candy bar that he suddenly starts craving for.  Yeah, that's right.  A candy bar.  Took like 3 minutes searching for this candy bar, and in the meantime...this poor girl is trying to squeeze 'bagged items' in wherever she can find space, which was very little.

No empty shopping cart anytime soon.

She's obviously getting a little flustered, yet still manages to maintain that mask of 'customer service', all while this numbskull searches for his 'candy bar'.  What he was talking to her about was really pointless too, and just held up the entire included.  Actually, by this time, I was the remaining person in line--just behind him.  Everybody else got wise and jumped ship.

I stuck it out.  My mistake.

He finally managed to find his 'candy bar' and spent at least a minute or so opening it up, while 'chatting' with his new friend, who I'm sure wanted nothing more than to ring his ass up and send him on his way.  But, of course she has to be polite.  I get that.  Still, the conveyor belt was 3/4 empty and he was in no hurry to fill that space.

I thought I was going to end up in jail that day; arrested for assault or disturbing the peace.  Either way, I thought I was going to lose it.

Eventually, after what seemed like an eternity of me rolling my eyes and shooting daggers through him, the moron managed to empty his cart.  Of course, I had to put the plastic divider stick behind his mess and move his cart out of the way, but was a sacrifice I was willing to make.  

I wonder if somebody else has to tie his shoes for him?  Just saying.

To top it all off, Farmer Fred decides to split the bill between two of his credit cards.  ( You can't make this stuff up. )  And to make matters more interesting... His wife ( from a different line ), discreetly pushes her cart passed him, trying to distance herself from this buffoon.  Nice try lady, but you still have to go home with this chowder head!

The point of the story is this...  If you feel like making conversation with strange people, for the sake of feeding your need to socialize, then do it when you aren't standing in line at the Grocery Store.  Because somebody like me, just might take that plastic divider thingie and plant it somewhere you might not want it.

There is a time and a place for everything.  Choose wisely.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Old Man and The Puck

I can't remember the exact date that this happened,  but I do know that it was during the mid-season of the recent American Idol.  The weather was decent enough for me to take a little trip over the hill and visit one of my favorite spots...Santa Cruz. 

I decided to take the local bus downtown to the San Jose Diridon station,  and then hook up with the Highway 17 Express bus,  which would take me all the way to the Metro Station in downtown Santa Cruz.

The trip over the hill wasn't too bad--if you don't mind dealing with abnormally loud headphone music and obscene chatter, coming from people who were raised on Jerry Springer and Def Jam Comedy hour.  The trip wasn't that bad at all.  Thankfully I had a newspaper with me...or else I'd be ready to punch somebody.

After arriving there,  I took my usual route on foot to the beach and boardwalk.  It's just something I enjoy doing,  since I don't get much exercise here--sitting in front of my computer.  A whole mile and a half really does wonders for the body. ( Not counting the exercise I'd be getting from walking to the end of the pier and back. )

Spending time at the end of the pier does my mind good,  since I can just sit on one of the 'non-crapped on' benches--that had seemed to avoid the wrath of the local seagulls--and just stare out at the ocean.  Allowing my thoughts to just flutter freely within my skull.  It was a serene moment,  indeed.

I gathered myself,  said a few choice words to the barking sea lions below,  and then wandered off.  To the boardwalk arcade.  My new church.  Do you know why?  Because they have a drum simulator called the MTV Drumscape,'s...awesome!!

Beating on them drums,  even without knowing what the hell I was doing,  just released so much built aggression.  I could handle anything after that.

If you're wondering where the Old Man and The Puck comes in,  don't worry... It's coming.

I wasted some more time in the Metro area,  consuming a milk shake and listening to homeless people ask me for spare change,  and then it was time for me to go.  I had spent a little more time than I had wanted to,  beating on the drums,  and it was getting a little late in the afternoon. 

I just managed to catch the 4:30 pm bus heading back to San Jose,  just barely though.  Lucky for me,  it was running a little late.  The line was kinda long,  which meant that we were gonna be stuffed in there pretty good--not always a good thing.  But,  I had to get home somehow,  so there was no use in complaining.

Traffic didn't help either,  which put us further behind on the time schedule.  We finally arrived,  yet the last local bus going my way home had already left.  I was going to have to find an alternate way home.

After 3 miles of walking,  riding 20 minutes or so on the light rail,  and waiting almost 20 minutes for an alternate bus that dropped me off at a cross street 2 1/2 miles from my loooong day,  was almost over.  I crossed at the light,  and started my trek.  My trek back home.

It was getting dark,  so I had to hurry if I didn't want to miss too much of the beginning of American Idol.  My feet moved swiftly down the sidewalk.  Passing side streets and barking dogs in the front yard.  I was on a mission.  I couldn't miss American Idol.

Almost halfway there,  I came upon a house lined with tall shrubs.  The house sat right at the corner of an approaching side street--one that I could see coming,  just up ahead.  I don't like corners that are obstructed,  especially by large shrubs.  I seen 'Halloween' and the thought of Michael Myers or some nut,  jumping out from one of those bushes...just sent shivers up my spine.  But I had to put it out of my mind and continue on.

Just as I neared the corner,  a faint whirring sound began to break the night air.  It was almost mechanical--like gears grinding or something.  I grew closer to the corner,  and was just upon it when all of a sudden...

AN OLD MAN,  in a blue electric 'scooter',  with a yellow plastic HOCKEY PUCK in his mouth,  comes barelling around the corner.  His scooter almost tipping over--balancing on two wheels.  A maniacal expression pasted his sweaty face.

I dove into a small flowerbed that lined the streetside,  avoiding this crazy madman as he sped by--laughing fiendishly the whole way.  I watched him disappear around the corner of the previous side street just as...

TWO TEENAGERS, dressed in 'hockey gear' came tearing around the corner as well.  Obviously chasing the old man who had just stole their hockey puck.  They ran by as I lay in the flowerbed.  Amazed at what I had just witnessed,  and had narrowly avoided.  A third kid,  dressed in 'goalie gear',  completed the trio--as he brought up the rear.  All three of them,  racing down the sidewalk--disappearing around the corner.

I picked myself up off of the ground,  brushed myself off,  and just stood there for at least a minute.  What the hell just happened?!!

Shaking my head in disbelief,  I remembered abut American Idol...and got my feet moving again.  And the whole time I was double-timing it home,  I could only think of one thing... What would James Durbin have done?!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

'Monster House' was my idea. Well, sort of...

Did you ever come up with an idea for a movie,  only to see somebody else come up with a similar idea and release it as a summer blockbuster,  that ended up making tons of money,  and left you shaking your head in disgust.  Muttering to yourself... "That was MY idea!"

Well,  did you?  It did to me.  Well,  sort of...  

I say sort of,  because this is a 'sort of' kind of story.  Let me try and explain.

About 12 or 13 years ago,  I was feeling pretty lost.  I knew that I wanted to write movies,  but I lacked the drive and the ambition to take that extra step.  Still do,  but things are looking up... sort of.  I was at the library at the time,  since I didn't own a computer,  and I was doing a search on 'movies' in general,  and I happen to stumble across a website called 'The Motion-Picture Industry: Behind-The-Scenes' .

This website boasted a 'simulator' that you could use,  to assemble your own little movie...using the 'already filmed' available scenes,  in order to produce a box-office hit.  You would choose the writer,  the actor, etc.  You would give it your own title.  And then,  you would choose which shots were the best shots to use,  in order to produce your 'hit'.  

They even had a mock box-office chart,  showing how well your movie did upon release; ranking among the hundreds of others who had dreams of making it big.  It was all too perfect.

I did the simulator ( a few dozen times ),  and I started to think... 'Hey,  I could do this!'.  I noticed an advertisement on the website,  announcing a 'short screenplay contest'.  The winner would have his/her screenplay produced into a short movie to go onto the website,  and the runners-up would have their short screenplays 'looked at',  by top studio executives in the Hollywood business.  Wow!  All for a short screenplay?  Where do I sign up?

Reading the rules and whatnot,  I dove right in.  The short screenplay had to be between 1 to 3 pages long.  That was pretty much it.  The website provided it's own template in order to write the screenplay,  so there was no emailing it in.  No problem.  I sat for a minute or two,  and then I came up with a simple idea that I felt could easily be written,  without too much plot structure or anything.  

( This was a 1 to 3 page screenplay.  I mean,  how much plot can you have jam into 1 to 3 pages?  Rhetorical question,  don't answer. )

After a minute or so of brainstorming,  I started to write.  First,  the title... "The House".  I liked the title.  It suited the story.  The story being about a 'spooky, almost monstrous looking HOUSE' near the end of a cul de sac,  in a residential neighborhood.

I won't go into the details of the screenplay,  but it was a fairly decent effort on my part,  and I felt pretty good about my chances.  Actually,  I was full of wishful thinking,  but hey... one could dream,  right.  I finished the short screenplay,  did the necessary clicking here and there in order to send it through,  and that was that.  The deadline hadn't reached it's end yet,  so I had some waiting to do.  No problem.  I had a job,  a so-called life...I was good.


Ok,  maybe it wasn't like that,  but I was definitely curious about the outcome of the contest.  I was smelling the sweet, sweet smell of success and it was just around the corner.  I knew it was.  But I had to be patient.  Good things come to those who wait,  or at least that's what I've heard over the years.  That saying probably came from somebody who had waited a long,  long time.  Still,  I had to be patient.

Finally,  after almost giving up on it,  I received an email from an affiliate or member of the website,  informing me that my 'short screenplay' was 1 of 3 runners-up in the contest.  Needless to say,  I was a bit overjoyed.  And yet,  I was wondering...'Runner up?  You mean,  I didn't win?!'  Hey,  beggars can't be choosers, right?  Or something like that.

Even though I didn't win the contest,  I was happy and elated that my little masterpiece was chosen as 1 of 3 runners-up.  Ok,  so now what? 

Well,  the affiliate or member of the website also informed me,  that the winning screenplay would be produced into a short film,  and that the 'runners-up' would now have each of their screenplays showcased,  as part of a new 'interactive simulator' section of the website.  For all to interact with, etc.  It all sounded really cool to me.  I was definitely on board.

A member of the website was assigned to me,  and he kept me updated with the progress of the whole thing.  It was a very interesting couple of weeks that followed,  which included emails of project updates,  and news that a few of the studios had really shown an interest in the 3 runner up screenplays.  An interest how?  What sort of interested had they shown?  All I knew was that one of the studios was Twentieth Century Fox.  Wow! 

I was now beginning to feel a little overwhelmed.  I mean,  this was out of my radius.

The emails continued as did the updates,  and things started to click along.  But then,  it hit a snag.  Something happened,  I don't know what exactly.  The website decided to scrap the idea of the new 'interactive simulator' project,  and just go ahead and produce each screenplay into a short film for the website.  Why?  I don't know.  But,  it sounded good to me.  My screenplay was actually going to be produced into a short film,  rather than have it diced apart in some new 'interactive simulator'.  Let's do this!

New emails started to come,  and I was assigned a guy who was handling 'my' screenplay.  He was a cool guy,  and he was very enthusiastic about the project.  His idea was to produce the short film as a claymation.  Like those old 'Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer' and 'Santa Claus Is Coming To Town' animation shorts.  Awesome!!  "Let's do it!",  I said.  He was on it.

Next couple of weeks,  he sent me emails with pics of the model of the house,  and the claymation characters that he was working on.  All fascinating stuff,  really.  The excitement was beginning to build.  I told all of my family members ( and what friends I had ),  that I was having one of my screenplays produced into a movie.  I was on cloud nine.

The progress continued,  and the emails kept coming.  The pics showed that this thing was really gonna happen.  The house looked cool,  and the claydough-looking kids were really starting to become real to me.  Creepy,  but real.  It was all coming together.

And then...

I stopped receiving emails from the guy.  I emailed him,  concerned as to why I hadn't heard from him in amost a week or so,  but no response.  Finally,  he emailed me back and told me that he was having trouble with working a job and also doing this project.  It was beginning to be a lot more work for him,  and that he would try and do as much as he can,  when he could.  

Stuff like that.  Hmmm... He had to work a 'real' job?  You mean,  this wasn't his job?  The website wasn't paying him to do this?  All relevant questions.

So,  I told him to do what he could and hopefully everything would work out.  Well, eventually the emails became fewer and farther in between,  and the whole 'project' just sort of went away.  Just like that.  It just dissipated.  I tried contacting the guy in charge,  but I got no response.  I tried contacting the website,  but got no response.  Then,  I received an email from one of the other 'runners-up'.  She was also disappointed that her project just went away,  and she was left in the dark.

Now,  I'm not holding some sort of 12 or 13 year grudge or anything,  since stuff like that happens all the time,  I'm sure.  But it would've been nice to have had some sort of explanation.

A few years passed,  and I saw a trailer for an animated film called 'Monster House',  that was soon to be released.  And I instantly remembered the screenplay contest that never was.  I didn't see the movie 'Monster House',  but it sure showed a slight resemblance to MY short screenplay.  

Recently,  as I was thinking of writing this blog,  I researched 'Monster House' a little and found out that a story by Stephen King,  in one of his 'gunslinger' novels I think,  had a Monster-type house or something like that in it.  I didn't look into it any further,  because I didn't need to.

'Monster House' probably didn't take my idea.  I'm sure it probably took Stephen King's idea,  who  knows.  Great minds think alike,  I guess.

I just would have liked to  have seen 'my idea' as a movie,  like promised.  Those claymation little kids deserved that much!

Here's the website that used to be The Motion-Picture Industry: Behind-The-Scenes.