What I'm Working On Now

Three short films are in Post-Production, soon to be submitting to film festivals.
Producing/editing a pilot for a new web-series inspired by the Alice in Wonderland tales.
Producing/editing a documentary on Gene Roddenberry and the genesis of Star Trek The Original Series.
There are a number of other projects in development, just waiting their turn to be produced.

Friday, March 29, 2013


Healthy at ninety
Going strong and loving life
First great grandchild soon
A slip and a fall
Hospital rooms and slurred speech
Who is this stranger
Bestamore, she's called
Family and friends have come
Say their last goodbyes

*     *     *

Bestamore is not my grandmother, exactly.  She's my older brother's wife's grandmother. For many people they wouldn't know their siblings spouses grandparents, but I'm not most people. I lived with my brother's wife's parents for a couple years and became an honorary member of the family. I've spent the last two Christmas's at Bestamore's house and have come to know and love her. Then, this past Tuesday, she slipped and fell. Such is life.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Today's post will be shorter than usual because I have a lot of writing to do today, and it's all my subconscious's (s's, or just s' I can never tell) fault. You see, I had a dream last night. In fact, I had several dreams, most people have 3-4 a night, interspersed among the various stages of sleep. But that's not the point. I'm not writing today about sleep cycles. No, I'm writing about dreams. My dreams, for the last four nights, have had what I call a serial dream; a dream that has continued to pick up where it left off night after night. Pretty cool, huh? I still have all the other normal dreams: flying, showing up to work/school/shopping in my underwear, etc. But for these last four nights, without fail, one of my dreams has been the continuation of the same storyline.
This happens to me from time to time, not sure why. And why do I call them serial dreams? Because that's what they are, serials. They're not recurring, just continuing. Some of them reach a conclusion, others simply stop after a while without ending. It's like television without reruns. Sometimes you love the show and it eventually ends, other shows get canceled. I've often wondered if other people have dreams like that.
My point to all this rambling is that I have to write these dreams down. So nice of my subconscious to hand over a freebee once in a while, but it does add to my already long list of stories to write. My serial dreams are always well crafted, filled with dynamic and interesting characters and the plots just drag me in.

Friday, March 22, 2013


Life begins so small
And at once it starts to grow
A heart beat is heard
Weeks pass, a bump shows
Soon movement can be felt, seen
Expectant parents
Long nights, early morn
Babies do not sleep so well
Strange new world is life

*     *     *
As my wife and I are expecting our second child I've been reflecting on all the wonders such things bring and thought I'de write some haiku about it.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


As I near the end of my novel, IMMOLATION, I've been reflecting on how story ideas begin. it began with the Arab Spring and all of the revolts. I remember, one day, sitting in my car listening to NPR on the radio. They were talking about all of the people who were burning themselves in protest against various regimes, an act called self-immolation. The horror of such a thing, where a person could feel that such a death would be preferable to living in their current environment, struck me and I couldn't get the concept out of my head.
A few days later, another such incident occurred, except that the person was saved. Bystanders jumped into action and doused the flames before the self-immolater could burn too much and, from the hospital, the person expressed their disappointment with their supposed failure. It was from there, really, that the story of a person who burned, but wasn't consumed, came to my mind. At first, the protagonist started out as one of these self-immolaters, but I felt the story was a bit disrespectful to the people suffering in such situations. As such, the story evolved further into a short story about a young man who spontaneously combusted. I thought I was finished with the story there, but it kept coming back to my mind, begging to be developed.
At last, I sat down at my computer and began to work out the story that would eventually grow into IMMOLATION. The original short story survived, with some changes to bring it into conformity with the larger story around it, as Chapter 16. I've always been surprised how these things come about, where the inspiration comes from and where it eventually leads us. What about you? Where have you found inspiration?

Monday, March 18, 2013


Another door melted to the ground and Joan stepped over the pool of molten slag. All around her, the corridor shone in the flicker of firelight and very once in a while, the ground shook, making her have to steady herself against the wall. She passed another sign pointing her toward the exit and she hurried her steps. Whatever was causing the ground to shake was getting stronger, and judging from the way the walls were cracking with each tremor, she guessed they were not figments of her imagination.
Joan reached what she thought was the end of the hallway only to find that it turned to the right and continued on in an equally long stretch of bare corridor. A great shuddering boom sounded above and she broke into a run. Behind her she heard sections of the hallway collapse and a large plume of dust shot up after her.
The firelight danced all around and in its shadows Joan saw all of her greatest fears. Terrors from her time trapped inside the Heat Machine. Days, weeks, months...Joan had no idea how much time had passed inside of that terrible place. She yearned to blaze like she did inside the Heat Machine, push back the shadows entirely, but she knew these walls were not sufficiently strong to handle such a blaze.
Joan,” called Tom's voice from the shadows.
Go away,” Joan ordered the voice. She didn't have time to waste on her hallucinations, not with the building collapsing all around her.
Joan, I want to come with you.”
Like I could stop you.”
I miss you Joan.”
Her vision blurred and she realized that she was crying. As she reached up to wipe away her tears she ran headlong into a security door. The impact was so great that for a moment she just lay there on the floor in a daze and it took another crash from behind to prod her back to her feet. Pieces of ceiling continued to collapse behind her and a few pebbles hit her on her head.
Melt,” Joan said as she pelted the door with her fire. “Come on.”
The door warped and began to glow red hot but the collapsing corridor was catching up and she began to panic. She had to burn hotter.
The walls crumbled and the floor bubbled and still Joan burned hotter. All around her, the air began to pop and burst as the extreme heat threatened to ignite all of the oxygen in the air.
The ground shook and the hallway collapsed right behind her. Joan shrieked and in a great surge of concentration, her fire turned white hot. The door all but vaporized, filling the air with the acrid stench of metal, and Joan started to run.
DON'T LEAVE ME!” Tom screamed from behind with such anguish that Joan was forced to stop fleeing and turn around.
There, just visible through the shifting clouds of dust and shadows stood a man with blonde hair. He pointed to the floor where a parcel of folded letters lay on the floor; her fire didn't seem to have its usual effect on the papers, though their edges were beginning to brown and crinkle.
Please Joan,” Tom pleaded in a quieter tone, “Don't leave me.”
Tom's plea was so heartfelt that Joan wanted to go and take the letters and before she knew what she was doing, she had already walked over to them and picked one of them up. However, her instincts for self preservation returned as another section of corridor collapsed and she scuttled backwards on her hands and knees.
Please,” Tom said, and Joan was torn between what to do.
While the debate raged furiously inside Joan's, the ceiling above her head cracked as another quake tore through the complex. There wasn't time to think anymore and Joan threw herself back as concrete rubble fell where she'd been crouched moments before.
RUN!” Tom shouted and Joan obeyed, stuffing the single letter she'd managed to grab into her shirt pocket.
Joan's fire burned so hot as she ran that she hardly had to slow down for the next security door, it melted so fast. The intense heat did nothing to slow the collapse of the building, if anything it sped it up, but Joan ran on, staying just ahead of the collapse.
Door after door, turn after turn, Joan ran on while behind her the building fell, until, all at once, she found herself standing outside in the sunlight.
No,” Joan muttered. She didn't have time for another of her waking dreams. The building was going to fall on top of her at any moment and she'd be crushed. She smacked herself across the face, pinched her arm, and still the corridor did not return. A loud crash behind her made her spin around just in time to see the last remnants of the front doors of the compound collapse.
She was out.
A light breeze blew through her hair and, judging from the sweet flowery warmth in the air, it was summer time. A high mound of earth had been built up all around the compound, recently from the looks of it, and the compound itself was in ruins. The parts of it that were still standing were pocked and scarred. In the distance Joan could hear the distant rumble of machinery and the occasional cracking of gunfire.
Read it,” Tom said, walking into view from behind her. “There isn't much time.”
Joan withdrew the letter that she'd saved.
However, the wind shifted before Joan could begin reading and a very different scent accosted her nostrils, distracting her. Smoke and sulfur tinged with rot and decay so strong that it almost made Joan retch. A high pitched whistle sounded behind her, growing louder. Joan looked around, wondering what it could be until it climaxed in a thunderous boom that shattered the far side wall of the compound. Joan covered her ears and her fire blazed, feeding from and intensifying her fears once more.
Another whistle and this time Joan didn't wait around. She ran as fast as she could toward the hill surrounding the compound.
Read it,” Tom said as he ran along beside her.
Now's not a great time, you know?” Joan informed him as a blast from behind almost knocked Joan to the ground.
It'll only get worse,” Tom said. “Read it.”
Joan did the best she could, running and trying to read the paper while at the same time keeping a look out for debris that could trip her.
Dear Joan, she read, I hope this finds you well. Or at least better than last week. Things here are going well. I got a cat...
Joan paused in both her reading and her running. She'd read this before, but when or where she couldn't remember.
Tom drew closer to Joan. “Remember me.” It wasn't a question.
Joan looked at Tom, puzzled, and then back to the letter. This was from him, she realized but before she could question him about it another distant whistle spurred her onward again. This time, as she ran, she gave the letter more attention than before.
I can't think of a good name for him. I've included a picture of him so you can help me out. He likes being held, but not being scratched. He'll sit on my lap for hours, purring, as long as I don't touch him. Whenever I do try to pet him he bats my hands away. Sometimes he'll bite if I don't stop right away, but I can't feel it.
Something wasn't right. Why couldn't Tom feel the cat biting him? Something in her mind was struggling to get loose, as though the missing memory was just out of reach, hidden in shadows.
The hill exploded and the world fell silent as her eardrums burst.
Joan tumbled head over heels through the air and with each revolution she saw the apparitions from her captivity, and her memories began to unlock.
Tom was lying on the ground burning. Tom, who had written her so many letters, who loved her. Joan still didn't now if Tom's letters had stopped because the postal service had stopped or if the war had reached where he lived.
Melanie stepped out of the flame and took Joan's hand to calm her fears. Melanie had always been there, sheltered her, even knocked Mike out to help her escape, but her visits had long since stopped, thanks to Matt and his false promises.
Mike stood not far behind, surrounded by bookshelves and looking nervous but not complaining about the fire. He'd given Joan more chances than she deserved, considering how much Mike loved his bookstore. True, it was in part due to Melanie's influence but he had genuinely seemed interested in helping Joan.
NO!” Joan screamed as the apparitions vanished at the same moment she hit the ground. Tom's letter had been torn apart in the explosion and only the little piece she held between her fingers remained. Pain arched through her like electricity and put an end to the flood of memories as it became clear that she wouldn't be going anywhere any time soon. In fact, given how close she was to the explosion, she doubted she would last much longer.
Through the gap in the hill, Joan saw an approaching army. On the far side of the ruined compound another army crested the hill. It was obvious from their movements and hand signals that they had seen one another, as well as Joan. Many of them had their weapons trained on her. As they drew closer Joan did the only thing she think of; she burned.
Fueled by her fear, her pain, and her anger, the fire exploded outward. The soldiers on both sides were forced backward by the heat. None of them had time to shoot their weapons. Men screamed and then fell silent as the fire expanded faster and faster, consuming everything within. What was left of the compound after the shelling crumbled beneath the unrelenting heat, the parts that could melt melted and the rest turned to dust.
Joan made no attempt to reign in her fire. The years of holding it back, the fear and anger at what had been done to her, finally found focus in her fire.
YOU BETRAYED ME!” Joan screamed at the armies, at her family, at Matt, and even at Judge Dervin. They all should have been the ones protecting her, helping her, and instead they'd allowed this to happen, allowed her to be abused and driven into madness.
The fire continued to press outward, burning through buildings, flooding through caves, finding every crevice and hidden bunker, purging everything in its path. Nothing escaped. And it was accelerating. Hundreds of miles had already been engulfed in the fire and still it sped on. Joan felt each new thing the fire touched and she knew what each object was, whether it was plant or beast. Everything was burned. She wondered what would happen if or when her fire found Tom, Melanie, or Mike. Would she recognize them? Would she spare them? What would be left to them in a world of dust and ash? Would it be more merciful to kill them now than to leave them to suffer and die slowly?
After another couple of minutes the oceans began to burn as her fire raced onward in every direction. The North and South poles lost their ice and cast enormous clouds of steam into the air.
Joan felt colder than usual and she wasn't sure if the gathering darkness was because of smoke clouding over the sky or if it was just her vision dimming. Her body shivered and shook but her pain, at least, lessened somewhat.
Flowers made from fire blossomed around her on the ground, waving as though in a gentle breeze. Blades of grass followed in like manner and soon Joan lay in a golden field. Trees burst out of the ground, reaching up toward the sky. As a final touch, Tom, Melanie, and Mike came and sat down beside her. Joan could feel them in her fire, though that may have been part of the hallucination. Though it didn't appear to make any difference to her friends, she told her fire not to burn them.
Tom stroked Joan's hair, ignoring the sticky patches where blood and dirt had matted it. His fingers were soft on her skin and he traced her facial features with his other hand.
The fire finished crossing the oceans and surged across land once more. In the places where there was nothing to burn but sand, Joan left glassy fields of fire flowers behind.
Melanie began to sing a lullaby and Joan was pleased that her recent deafness did not extend to her hallucinations. Melanie's voice was clear and delicate, something Joan had always admired about her. In high school, their choir teacher had complained that Melanie's voice never carried very well, but now, in this valley of fire, it carried perfectly. Joan nestled her head on Tom's lap as Melanie's lullaby resonated through her body, easing the last of the pain away.
Joan,” Mike said, “let me tell you a story.”
And he told her of a beautiful land of peace and calm, where no one was feared, where doors were never locked and the lights were never dimmed. A land where her family loved her, where her fire was never outside of her control or hurt those that she loved.
Fire met fire and Joan sighed in relief. The world spun in her fiery grasp, cradled and purged of all the pain and sorrow she'd endured, but at the same time she felt sad and empty. Joan couldn't help but to weep for the loss. The stunning cities, the wonders of nature, the loves and joys of humankind, untold beauties never to be seen or lived now that everything was...gone.
Sleep,” Mike said, and Joan's body relaxed.
Sleep,” Melanie said, and Joan's eyelids grew heavy.
Sleep,” Tom whispered, and Joan's fire went out.
She was walking hand in hand with Tom through a wide expanse of fire lilies. Melanie and Mike were not far off, also hand in hand. An understanding smile showed on each of their faces, none of them blaming her for what she'd done, and behind them, Joan left her body, and with it all her troubles and woes.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


This past weekend I had the opportunity to work on a couple of commercials. I've done documentaries, live events, promos, and short films. But I've never done commercials before now. I must say, it was quite a lot more fun than I'd anticipated. Of course, any time you get to strap an actor into a stunt harness and spend the next two hours watching them get pulled down a hallway and then cling for dear life on the corner of the wall...well, lets just say it was pretty exciting.
For a long time I've been avoiding working on commercials. For some misguided reason I felt that I'd have to sacrifice some aspect of my supposed creative genius. Now, before I get too far along on this post, let me make it clear that I was just an intern on this shoot (the production company's trying me out, seeing if they like me with the potential for future work), so my creative input was minimal. Still, I had a really great time working on the project and, for my part at least, I feel I accomplished a fair bit.
As I've always said, it pays to know all the different aspects of film making. I was primarily there to help out the Line Producer, as my goal is to move up in that path. However, on the second day their gaffers were getting swamped by the extra demands of the stunt rigging. Back in school I learned all the different trades I could and so was able to step in and help out as an extra gaffer. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying they couldn't have managed without me, it just would have been a bit slower and/or more aggravating.

Monday, March 11, 2013


Papers lay scattered across Matt's desk. A solitary lamp hung overhead, swaying slightly each time the ground quaked. Matt tried not to think about what each shock wave meant, and the fact that they were becoming stronger and more frequent. Still, it wasn't any more terrifying than the tight, handwritten scrawl that covered each page. He was all too familiar with that handwriting on the papers before him and Matt shook his head in horror. Nuclear power plant designs, oil refineries, and schematics for explosives were just a few of the things Matt had found in Dr. Muto's office.
The door opened behind Matt and the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end as footsteps, muffled ever so slightly by the thin carpet, heralded the approach.
How could you?” Matt asked in a low whisper.
The footsteps stopped just to his side and Matt looked up at Dr. Muto's shadowed face. Dr. Muto looked to the mess on the desk and then back to Matt, acting as though he had not heard Matt and collected up the papers.
What were you looking for?” Dr. Muto's tone was conversational, if a bit stiff.
What do you think?” Matt asked.
I really couldn't tell, considering what you've laid out for yourself.”
The plans, Muto, I was looking for the plans.”
And it would appear as though you've found them.”
The plans for the heat Machine,” Matt corrected. “It might not be too late, we could still stop the world from destroying itself.”
Dr. Muto chuckled.
What's so funny?” Matt demanded, incensed at Dr. Muto's apparent lack of concern.
What do you think all of this was for?” Dr. Muto asked, waving the papers in front of Matt. “Our world was dying.”
Matt jumped to his feet. “And now you've gone and killed it!”
It's people, perhaps,” Dr. Muto said dismissively, putting the papers back into their respective folders and drawers. “But I've come to accept the fact that the human race is determined to destroy itself, no matter how hard you or I try to save it.”
Then can't we at least postpone that end?” Matt pleaded.
Share the plans to the Heat Machine!”
NO!” Dr. Muto shouted, forcing Matt back down into his seat. “Do you think that will change anything now? Can they build one? Do they have the resources? The man power? The time? I doubt any of these so called armies even have a plan to get back to their own countries.”
Dr. Muto—”
No,” Dr. Muto cut Matt off, “The fighting going on out there has long ago stopped being about energy. Their only goal is destruction now.”
Well, now that I have this,” Matt said, holding up a small thumb drive, “we can see which of us is right.”
Matt got back out of his chair and pushed passed a stunned Dr. Muto.
Where did you get that drive?” Dr. Muto asked breathlessly.
Matt paused in the doorway. “I hacked into your computer about a week ago,” he said unabashedly, “and at first I was frustrated that I still couldn't find the plans. Then I found this in your desk,” Matt held up the unremarkable thumb drive. “I still haven't been able to break the encryption on it, but I'm all but certain this is it. Any way, I'm going to hand it over to them and let them figure it out.”
Dr. Muto screamed and lashed out, his cries were wild and bestial as he clawed at Matt, trying to get the thumb drive away from him. For a moment, all Matt could think to do was hold the drive out of Dr. Muto's reach. The crazed ferocity was something Matt had only seen once before; when Dr. Muto attacked him during his thesis defense. Matt buried his fist into Dr. Muto's stomach, doubling him over, and followed it up with a right cross that snapped his head to the side with a crack and Dr. Muto crumpled to the floor where he lay motionless.
Matt hurried out of the office and down the hall. He didn't care if he'd overdone it on Dr. Muto. Either way, if things went according to plan, Matt wouldn't be seeing his old mentor again. It didn't take long for Matt to make his way to the observation room and he took his customary position at the main computer.
Everyone out,” Matt ordered as soon as he was logged in. “Now!”
There were looks of confusion and concern on their faces as the technicians left, but Matt ignored them. Like Dr. Muto, Matt wouldn't be seeing them again. The moment the door was shut, Matt began disabling the security systems, turning off the cameras, and deactivating the security doors. Finally he pressed the button that unlocked the door to the Heat Machine. All he had to do now was go in there and lift the latch and the door would swing open. A minute later he was standing in front of the Heat Machine itself. There was no way to communicate with Joan and let her know what he was doing.
I'm sorry for everything, Joan,” Matt whispered.
He raised the latch and unbearable heat poured out, forcing Matt backwards and he realized this may not have been the best way to go about freeing Joan.
Numbness held Joan in its gentle embrace, rocking her back and forth and keeping her safe from all that would destroy her. Her fire helped, too, in keeping back the walls and the darkness, for in the darkness the walls could move. In her fire she could grow flowers, blossoming and blooming at her every whim.
Awake or asleep, Joan burned. She couldn't remember a time when she didn't burn, as though the thought of not burning was something foreign and absurd. Every once in a while, in her dreams, she visited a time and a place where she burned less, or not at all. It was a wondrous place of such unimaginable joy that she often awoke from those dreams crying. So many faces and names that she could never quite remember once she was awake. The flowers in the fire were her attempt to bring some of the dream into her waking moments
Joan,” a phantom voice carried over the rushing of her fire.
Such things were not uncommon for Joan. Voices from her dreams often carried over into her waking thoughts, though this voice was one that she was less familiar with.
...my fault...won't blame you...free...”
Joan frowned. The voice was growing stronger, louder, perhaps even a bit desperate.
Who are you?” Joan asked the voice.
The voice changed and this new voice answered with a nonsense name. “It's Tom,” the voice spoke so clearly that Joan could have sworn he was standing only a short distance away. “Please don't burn me!”
It was at that moment that Joan became aware of a draft in the air around her. She dimmed her fire enough for her to see beyond it. The shock of seeing the door to her room open robbed her of her strength and she fell to the floor.
Someone stood outside of her cell, backed all the way up against the far wall, nothing more than a shadowy figure to Joan's eyes.
Please Joan,” the first voice shouted, “I want to help you, don't burn me.”
Joan overcame her shock and got back to her feet, scrambling to get out of her cell. The cool touch of the stone beneath her feet felt good and the air smelled remarkably fresh when compared to the stuffy, processed air that was pumped into the Heat Machine.
Joan hated how cold the floors were in the morning. Her parents never listened to her when she suggested they get heated floors, or carpet, or at the very least some rugs. It would certainly make getting up in the mornings easier.
Joan, hurry up,” her mother called from the kitchen.
Joan sighed and hurried down the hallway to the kitchen. Her mother stood in front of the stove, frying some eggs and bacon. A stack of pancakes already lay on a plate on the counter.
Thanks mom,” Joan purred, “It smells delicious.”
Joan, it's burning,” her mother said, though the voice was not her own and it was etched with fear. “Stop it Joan, stop it!”
JOAN!” the second voice, Tom, shouted and Joan found herself back in the enclosure, the silhouetted person still leaning against the far wall. Whoever it was, they did not move away as Joan walked closer.
Tom, is that you?” Joan asked, still not sure who Tom was, and she squinted through her fire trying to see more than just his basic form.
She continued to step closer but her fire, dimmed though it was, still prevented her from getting a clear view. At last she was close enough that she reached out her hand to touch him. Immediately he crumbled into a pile of bones and dust.
An image from her forgotten past jolted into her mind and she saw a man, Tom, curled on the ground before her, writhing in pain as he burned within her fire. No other memory about who Tom was came to her, just the image.
Fear and anger gripped Joan and she burned white hot. Who was this? Was this the real Tom? Was this someone else? From the looks of it, whoever he had been, he'd died trying to open the door. The door had expanded and jammed in heat before he could get the door open. The ground around Joan began to melt along with the rest of the door.
A thunderous crack rang out and the glass from the observation room above shattered, sending a cascade of glass shards down onto Joan. Her fire caught most of the shards, vaporizing them before they could reach the ground and the rest scattered far enough away that her fire didn't heat them too much before they tinkled to the ground. Once the last of the glass hit the floor, Joan cleared the fire away from her face to give her a better view of what was happening. The walls were ablaze, the concrete was crumbling, and everything made of glass was either shattering or else melting. High above her, the skylights of her enclosure began to warp in the heat.
Joan screamed in joy and shot a bolt of fire straight upward. Glass exploded and then vaporized and the whole enclosure was filled with sunlight. For the first time that she could remember, a warm breeze that wasn't from her fire blew around her, blowing her hair about and stirring the flames in the room. Ash and smoke billowed out and the fire burst forth with renewed vigor.
Hurry up Joan,” her friend called after her, “or all the cute guys will be taken.”
Joan tossed back her head and laughed for joy, following after her friend, though she couldn't quite remember her name.
They ran through the close trees of the woods near their home where they'd agreed to meet the others. They were going to have a bonfire. From the smell of smoke in the air, Joan guessed they'd already got the fire started. The trees grew closer and closer together until they lined the path like walls and their boughs formed a sort of ceiling, blocking out the starlight and moonlight.
I can't see where we're going,” Joan called happily to her friend who ran in front of her.
No response and the darkness grew more foreboding.
Hey, are you there?” Joan couldn't hear her friend's footsteps anymore.
Still no answer.
The darkness became complete and the walls began to move.
NO!” Joan shrieked and her fire burst back into life.
The forest was gone, replaced instead by an unfamiliar corridor. Her fire pushed the walls back to where they belonged and Joan shivered for a time, uncertain about what to do.
The ground shook.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


Six legs, proboscus,
Head, abdomen and thorax
Nasty little bugs


Life will find a way
Inside windows and the eves
Insects multiply


On my face and neck
Can't see them, but I feel them
Drinking my skin salt

*     *     *

It's an infestation! Not really, but there sure seem to be a lot of the little buggers about, especially for it being March. Perhaps if we opened all the windows and doors, and turned off the heat, we'd freeze them out...of course, I'd get fairly nippy myself.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


I don't know if any of you have ever tried to secure a location for a movie shoot, but it can be a headache. A lot of people I've spoken to seem to think that all they need is permission from the owner. Simple, right? Well let's look at a couple of standard situations and see what's actually needed.

The House, Office, or Other Interior.
First off, you have to find out who the owner is, not the renter or the leaser, or the manager. The owner. Then you have to get a location release form signed, which generally requires the filmmakers to have insurance to cover any possible (and, sadly probable) damages to the building. Then, is the owner of the building going to let you use their furnishings? Probably not, so now you have to go out and get your own. If you're filming in a house, you probably don't want to be moving stuff in and out too often, so the owners of the house will need to not be there while you are using their house, but they have to be somewhere. I've known filmmakers who sent the homeowners on vacation. It's expensive, but at least they didn't have the homeowners barging in and freaking out about the hole in the wall. Either way, you have to keep on schedule because when your time is up, your time is up and the owner will want their space back. Also, owners always have the right to change their mind and kick you out, no matter how far along you are. It is, after all, their building.
After it's all said and done, there will be nicks and bumps on the walls from jostling gear around that you'll need to repair.

The Sidewalk
Getting permission for this is fairly straight forward. Most cities have film offices and all you have to do is contact them, usually through their website. Some cities have no-film areas or other restrictions, they'll let you know. The fee for filming will vary, depending on the size and scope of the shoot, and unless you're a very small operation, you'll need to have your production insured. The difficult part comes when you go and actually try to shoot. Everyone and their dog wants to be in the movies, and so quite often there will be people who will do everything in their power to cause problems until the you agree to let them be in the movie. If your sidewalk scene requires traffic to be stopped and/or controlled, or if there's any sort of violence/weapons in the scene, then you'll need to pay for at least one police officer to be on set (minimum of 4 hours of pay, regardless of how short the shoot is), and their presence can sometimes help with rowdy passersby.  If you splurge, and the city allows it, you can take over the whole area, locking it down so only your people can be around. Generally, locking down a city block is too expensive for all but the Hollywood Blockbuster.

The Park or Other Public Space
Very similar to the sidewalk, though you'll be less likely to need police (unless you have violence/weapons in the scene). The exceptions come into play when you want to get into public spaces like Historical Sites, Protected Land (National Parks are an example), and Public Transportation. All of these are, understandably, a bit harder to get permission for filming. Your chances of getting permission will vary a lot depending on what you're wanting to do in the film. Most Protected Land is only available for filming when the film is directly related to the land, like a documentary or nature program. Public Transport is out in almost every case, if only because it interferes with the public transport, not to mention the safety risks. Historical Sites are particularly tricky because any damage to them, no matter how small, is unacceptable. They're Historic Sites for a reason, and repairing them is ridiculously expensive.

The Studio
If you have the resources to shoot in a studio, building your own sets, enjoying total control over the surroundings, then you really better not fall behind on schedule or go over budget because your budget is probably already quite large, and any overage is going to be proportionately large.

Monday, March 4, 2013


Judge Dervin never thought he'd miss the twenty-four hour news cast. It had been three days since the power went out. He shook his head groggily, uncertain as to why he was awake. Though there was nothing to tell him the time, he'd always had a good sense for it and something told him it was still quite early. Yesterday passed without any food and he looked, hopeful, to the grimy tube protruding out of the ceiling above his head.
Strange, something had awoken him but he couldn't figure out what it was. Judge Dervin shifted in his chair, frowning. He hated being awake. Only when he slept was he free from the pain, hunger, and depression, for when he dreamed he was with his family. And they were happy.
The room quavered. It wasn't much, but where there was so little else to focus on or distract him he couldn't help but notice the motion. Minutes passed and Judge Dervin did nothing but sit and listen. Off in the distance he thought he could hear voices, raised voices, and they were punctuated every so often with slightly louder popping sounds. After a few more minutes the room quavered again, this time more noticeably.
Judge Dervin thought back, his mind racing, as he tried to remember what the news anchor was saying right before the power failed. For days he'd tried his hardest to ignore the TV, blaming himself for the state of world, cursing that if only he'd gone to the police instead of confronting Dr. Muto alone, things might have been different.
A deep rumble and the room shook again, hard enough this time that his chair wobbled and dust from the ceiling settled down around him. Angry voices shouted, though they were still too far away to be understood, and the popping sound, Judge Dervin realized with increasing concern, was gunfire. He probably should have recognized it for what it was right away but his mind wasn't quite up to par these days.
Angry voices. Power loss. War.
These words floated through Judge Dervin's mind, refusing to be dismissed, though he wanted desperately to drift back off to sleep. When the room shook again for the fourth time, his memory clicked. Though he hadn't been paying attention to the TV, he remembered what the last news cast was about. With the world's nations crumbling, they were demanding the plans to the Heat Machine so that they could build their own and stave off the energy crisis. They were refused. With their last hope crushed, they did the only other thing they could: invade.
There was nothing to be done. Judge Dervin had been tied to the chair long enough to know there was no escape from it. If the sounds of fighting he was hearing were indeed from an invading army, well, the war was pretty much over. It wouldn't be long now. He doubted whether it would make much difference, if the other countries got the plans. They would still have to find a source of heat strong enough to power their nations, but that was their problem to solve, not his. With any luck, he'd be dead long before then, anyway.
Judge Dervin stiffened. That sound had come from inside his room. His back was to the door, it had always been that way, and he'd just assumed it was shut.
Who's there?” Judge Dervin's voice sounded alien to him, dry and aged beyond the few months he'd spent in there.
A tall, dark man stepped around to face him. His face was unreadable but the knife in his hand hinted to his intentions.
Are you here to kill me?” Judge Dervin asked.
No,” the other man replied and he stooped down, cutting Judge Dervin's bonds. “I may have once been your captor,” he said, “but now I set you free.”
Why?” Judge Dervin asked while he rubbed his sore and atrophied arms.
For a moment the other man said nothing, just stared at Judge Dervin with his unreadable gaze. Then, at last, he folded his knife closed and spoke.
There is no point in keeping you here,” he nodded toward the far wall, where the sounds of fighting were coming from. “Go and die in whatever manner you find best.”
He turned to leave.
No,” judge Dervin said, more to himself than anything else. “I'll find Samantha.”
She is dead,” the other man's voice was without emotion.
I have it on good authority that she lives,” Judge Dervin cocked his head toward the other chair.
Is that what he told you?” the man asked, hesitating at the door. He looked, odd, his expression changing, softening, for the first time. “I had a family too, once. Long ago. I have left you some supplies in the kitchen. Take them and search for your daughter,” and he left.
It took Judge Dervin a few minutes to stand up and even when he managed it his legs wobbled, threatening to give way. He looked over to the other chair. The mass of gore and bones still managed to suggest the man they once were and for a moment Judge Dervin considered burying the man. However, the fighting was getting closer and his time was short as it was. Besides, with his body so frail and the corpse so decayed, he doubted he'd be able to move it out of the room in one piece. In the kitchen he found a backpack. He only took a few moments to look through it, glad to see the food but knowing he should probably wait to eat until he was someplace safe. And so, leaning on the walls for support, Judge Dervin made his way through the decrepit apartment, out the secret passage, and eventually into the bright sunlight.
Nothing looked familiar. Even if it had been his own neighborhood, Judge Dervin doubted that he'd have recognized it. Buildings were burned and crumbling everywhere he looked. A few hundred yards away he could see the fight raging. A blast shook the ground and a plume of debris rose up into the air as the wall of a nearby building exploded. Men screamed and those that could ran for cover. Those left behind were crushed beneath the collapsing building. A few of their dying screams reached Judge Dervin and he paled, quickly going in the opposite direction.

Friday, March 1, 2013


The cold morning dawns
Icy frost and angel's hair
Beauty in the wastes
Steaming in the snow
Red on white, the dead goat lies
A mountain cat feeds
Sleeping 'neath a quilt
Holds only my bodies heat
Reminds I am alone