I have a number of events coming up in the next 30 days, so I fear my posts may become a tad more erratic. Luckily, indomitable blogger Mark Evanier had a post this past week that perfectly meets my needs: how actors are like cats.
Yes, I know many actors who are dog lovers. Don’t worry guys and gals, you can still love your dogs (just as surely as they love you), but you’re still cat people. I’m with Betty White on this one.
Somewhat riffing off my post from Wednesday, I’m once again considering our current golden age of television (aka Golden TV Age II: Serial Storytelling Boogaloo).
There’s so much great television to check out, there are whole series that have come and gone that I haven’t gotten to yet.
Alison Herman over at The Ringer delves into what this means for science fiction –and “genre fiction” in general– as they hold greater sway over pop culture on both the big and small screen (and yes, the screen definitions are becoming more moot in some ways). It raises many big and small questions. For example, will people who’ve read the Silmarillion more than once feel vindicated by Amazon’s 4,000 Tolkien series? Will Adam Savage make another appearance on The Expanse? Will I ever get around to watching more than the first episode of Lost?
Working on a long, long term project due to launch later this year has me thinking about various film projects stuck in development hell that have finally seen the light of day -er- distribution.
The new hotness that is Altered Carbon(on Netflix as of February 2nd) was adapted from a 2002 book. Several friends have already mentioned about the differences from the book (some bigger than others), but I only recently learned more about how long it’s been in development. Basically, it was optioned the same year it was published and, as with so many projects, found an outlet via Netflix’s mad rush to create content. If you’re not averse to Game of Thrones level sex and violence, it will definitely scratch your cyberpunk itch (and did I mention Max Headroom himself (Matt Frewer) makes an appearance?).
Also on Netflix as of last Fall, is Scott Frank’s western mini-series Godless. This project appears to have started in a similar form to Altered Carbon, albeit as an original feature film vs. an adaptation. In both cases, the creators found the feature film format wouldn’t hold the story and so they expanded things to fit a larger canvas. Scott Frank goes into the long process of bringing this project to some form of screen on a great episode of Scriptnotes from last year. If you enjoy westerns that comment on westerns, like Unforgiven, you’ll probably like this (if you want it to live up to its marketing as a woman-centric western, you’ll likely be disappointed).
Finally, on a note closer to home, the indie period horror/mystery Dinner with the Alchemist has VOD distribution as of yesterday. I know a bunch of the people both in front of and behind the camera. And even though indie filmmaking is invariably an entrepreneurial activity, there are plenty of ups and downs — and persistence plays a huge part. In this case, the screenwriter, inspired by historical documents, has been working to bring this story to the screen for over six years. The project was thundering into production, got halted, and started again. And you’ll notice from the IMDb page that it’s in one sense from 2016 — and yet they needed to keep working until now for online distribution.
So here’s to light at the end of the long journey — or I guess in the case of all three of these examples, dark tales.
I’m not going to lie, I probably like this because it scratches me right in the confirmation bias. Nevertheless, his personal experience rings true with mine. People like to work with people they know, sure. But they also want to work with someone who can deliver for the project in question.
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’ve experienced being on both sides of the equation. I know that sometimes I’m not the best choice. And when I’m called in as a “pinch hitter?” You better believe I do my best to make sure that even if I’m not the first choice, that I’m not a bad choice (one acting role with a couple hours notice comes to mind).
It also helps that, 26 years running, the people I’ve met who insist on this baseline “you hire someone simply because they’re a friend” are uniformly schmucks.
Continuing on this week’s theme of writing and publishing, John August, has launched a new podcast called, well, Launch.
I’ve mentioned his Scriptnotes podcast before, which is well worth a listen if you’re interested in screenwriting. But John August doesn’t confine himself to scriptwriting. He has a company that makes apps related to scriptwriting. He’s made writer’s aids and a decent card game. And now he’s written the first of a series of novels about a young boy named Arlo Finch.
His Scriptnotes co-host, Craig Mazin, might claim it’s because August is a robot (or possibly a Chronicom), but he approaches each new project with an effort to make it the best possible version he can. That’s certainly the case with this podcast, Launch.
It’s a limited series –I believe only 6 parts– and three of them are online now. The final two parts, yet to be recorded, will detail what happens as his book (and requisite book tour) is launched. I’ve raced through the episodes online thus far and am eager to listen in relative real-time. You might be, too.
When it comes to writing, most of the beginning of this decade, I was mainly focusing on regularly writing: simply putting in the time. That’s where I worked to write 20 minutes a day, every day (with occasional time off for good behavior).
For the past year or two, I have been tracking pages written and finishing drafts — not simply time writing. This year, the logical continuation is to understand what to do when those finished drafts amount to a novel. I’ve done research on this in the past… but that’s far enough in the past that it’s probably a good idea to check again (the research was also focused more on magazine articles and short stories).
I was also interested in the “traditional” route — knowing that the traditional route has changed a tad in the past few decades. So I was happy to stumble across Jane Friedman’s one-stop post on the steps to get traditionally published.
Naturally, it links to additional information about the various steps and sub-steps, but if you read through the entirety, she has some good summaries of both the pros and cons of self-publishing as well as pros and cons of traditional publishing. She has some great questions about what a creative wants out of their creative work that might help direct said creativity.
I’ll post more about book publishing later this week.
88 years is no small feat, but when my wife and I talked, we agreed, it would have been nice to see Ursula K. LeGuin, who passed away last week, reach a hundred.
Far and beyond the worlds she created was her perspective: on writing, being a writer, and, well, managing to live this crazy life and perhaps make it a better place while being a writer.
I only discovered her work later in life –which is all the more unforgivable when you realize she taught at my college briefly– but nevertheless, the books were there, waiting.
The first book I read, The Dispossessed, is not one of the most mentioned, though evidently well received when it came out. Here was a great science fiction novel not only full of worldbuilding, but also woven together with an elegant literary device playing with time — all the while not only exploring the concepts of anarchy and capitalism, but also how mathematicians and physicists think. It’s hard to explain how the book affected me so personally. It is neither melodramatic nor maudlin nor close to my own experiences. And yet, the impact is visceral.
From reading the remembrances from across the globe, I’m not the only one who made such a deep connection to her works: