Monday, January 26, 2009

Getting Easier

This morning I cycled to my office to meet a camera rental customer. Usually I work out and then go to the office. Lately there have been a few days that I didn't go to the office at all. Today I decided to combine my exercise with transportation. Part of the reason I don't commute by bike is it only takes about twelve minutes to get to my office. Which isn't at all long enough of a training session. Also I need to get around town most days for meetings, kids and other stuff for which I need a car. I also like to get out of my cycling clothes into something more presentable. I know spandex and fleece are part of the everyday wardrobe in Portland, but I can barely put the stuff on to be active let alone sport it in public.
I arrived at the Steel Bridge in about nine minutes so I decided to take a loop on the Riverfront Esplanade. As I descended the ramp to the eastbank esplanade the view of the city and the river captivated me. There was no place on earth I would have rather been at that moment. I forgot about the loop and rode on past OMSI toward Oaks Park on the Springwater Trail. What a beautiful morning.
At some point I turned around and returned to town and my office for my appointment. I did a little yoga to stretch my hamstrings and hips. When the customer came in we caught up as I got him his stuff. It wasn't that hard to say I hadn't been doing much film-wise.
I'm happier on one of my bikes or in the woods or the pool than I am trying to pursue my career as a filmmaker right now. I haven't dropped all of the work, but shifting the singularity of my focus has been difficult for me to accept.
Maybe it doesn't have to be all or nothing after all. Which is much easier to say than to practice.

Finding Fellini,
Signore Direttore

Friday, January 23, 2009

Still Not Writing

The past week I've been on my own with three kids. One of whom has been ill, as I have been. We are managing, but it takes a tremendous amount of energy to simply keep up with the day to day without losing my mind. The fickle desires of a three year old girl taken literally will break one's spirit. Staying light and loving isn't my strong suit under the best conditions.
I did see some films this week. Paul Blart Mall Cop and The Wrestler on the big screen. The latter was phenomenal. Bleak, but beautifully so. I don't have much else to say. The film met my every expectation.
I also watched the first season of Mad Men again. I think I liked it better the second/third time through. The subtlety of Pete Cambell and Draper's wife really came through. All of the writing revealed its density with another look. The acting is excellent as well. And the art direction and photography. Is this really television? Can't wait for season two.
Also saw Fassbinder's Gods of the Plague. An early, raw effort that confirms my adoration for the true master of independent film. I think part of the reason I haven't been writing is I have been telling myself I need to write more commercially. It's a result of working so many years without compensation. Seeing a Fassbinder film reminds me of the appeal of telling stories from within my purview. The seduction of the New Orleans project has lost its allure for various reasons. Perhaps I need to step away from that one and try my hand at another script for now. I have so little desire to rewrite the NOLA script. It makes me not want to write at all. It seems that if I think about am idea too much it becomes oppressive rather than ingenious. I've written enough at this point of my life to trust what works for me more. There's no doubt that working more by schedule than inspiration is something I need to explore, but there's no sense in mounting a campaign of misery at the same time. What a relief! Forget the NO project for now. Just like that 70s poster with the soft focus blonde chick on the beach tossing a bird up into the sky - If you love something, let it go. If it comes back ...
One thing that continues to be very positive in my life is fitness. I haven't missed a day on '09 of getting at least 45 minutes of exercise. Even when I've been ill or injured I've found some way of getting my body moving. It feels really good. I do have to remind myself of the incredible task it's been to adopt this new habit and acknowledge that some of the energy I would like to me putting into writing is still being sapped by confirming my daily commitment to training my body. Before long those energies will likely synergize, but I don't think I'm there just yet.
Not only am I changing a habit, which is extremely tough for a middle aged man, but I'm learning and relearning a lot of skills such as mountain biking and swimming. Both skills require a combination of physical strength and stamina with patient technique. Charging up a dirt trail, heart rate maxxing, only to come to a tricky portion of the trail that requires balance and concentration is a good thing for me. Just like the key to swimming laps for 45 minutes comes down to steady breathing. Sure my shoulders and legs are burning, but all I have to do is take the next breath in such a way that allows for the following breath without altering my stroke and before you know it my time in the pool is over for the day. Very chi.

Signore Direttore

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Steep Trails, Canoes, Movies and Not Writing

My wife leaves for a work trip to Africa tonight. We spent some time hiking the Ridge Trail in Forest Park. It's a thousand plus foot ascent from the debouch of the St. Johns bridge to the top of the mountain. It was foggy at the bottom. The sun began to cut through it about a third of the way up. Shafts of light hundreds of feet long. Trees hundreds of feet tall. Hearts pounding. Silence.
I didn't think about making movies or the movies I've seen lately. I thought of our family and canoes and moving my body. I saw Gran Torino yesterday. Why bring that up? Nothing to say about that film at all. Not sad or angry that I saw it, but I am perplexed as to how it has garnered any favorable reviews or merit for addressing issues of race in America. I saw it on a very big screen, which is always a pleasure. Let's leave it at that.
Today I saw Frost/Nixon. I enjoyed it. I'd see it again and I recommend it. I went to the movies this evening after not working much this afternoon on a screenplay. Today was the day I met with my writing partner to discuss our progress over the past week on our individual projects. I presented my ideas in all their disorganized glory. I found a big hole in my reasoning of the past two months. It seemed like work. I couldn't escape the conclusion that if this seems like work perhaps I would rather be doing some work that provided a salary and benefits. Benefits of health insurance and the act of doing something of benefit to the world.
But thinking too much about the rest of my life is not that great of an idea. I'm going to stick to thoughts of paddling a canoe on the Willamette this spring.

Signore Direttore

Thursday, January 08, 2009


A friend of mine quotes a famous friend of hers on her blog as saying that if a resolution doesn't embarrass you, it isn't challenging enough. That resonates strongly with me.
I sat down and contemplated writing scripts in a new manner this afternoon. I began adapting the fitness goal template I created and have been following for two weeks into a goal worksheet for writing. I think it's going to work. Two hours of research or 7 pages of writing four days per week and one four hour review session on Thursdays with my writing partner.
My partner and I plan to write two scripts independently and two scripts in collaboration this year. Four polished ready to pitch scripts in a year doesn't embarrass me - that's an attainable, if somewhat slightly immodest, goal. The embarrassment factor is in the ready to pitch part - I don't want to think of doing that. It embarrasses me. I would rather produce the scripts myself than go through that process. So finishing scripts in order to pitch them rather than self-produce them causes some discomfort.
The other thing I'm embarrassed about is that two of the scripts I plan to write are broad comedies. I don't think of myself as a comedy writer. It makes me feel very self-conscious to announce that I will be writing something intended to make people laugh.
Slow and steady. Seven pages a day. No more, no less. Weird.
I resolved to exercise daily in 2008. I didn't get there, but I kept trying so that by December I was able to close out the year with near perfect consistency in the final weeks. I'm 8 for 8 in 2oo9. Maybe 2oo9 will require some fits and starts with regard to daily writing. That's just fine. The efforts made to change and grow are never wasted.

Signore Direttore

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Now What?

It's been 2009 for about a week now. The sound edit of DW has resumed. Some visual effects work is in progress. I've met with my partner on the New Orleans project. We were both relieved that the other had not been giving it a lot of thought lately. Not because we're no longer interested, it's just time to write the next draft and see where we are once that's in hand.
How to do that? Well, I think it's pretty simple. Apply ass to chair, open Movie Magic and start typing. The difference being that I don't plan to knock out a draft in a weekend this time. Tomorrow I'm going to sit down and map out a schedule to write this in a timely yet very regular manner. I would rather write for two hours a day two hundred days of 2oo9 than ten hours a day for thirty days of the year, which is a fair estimate of my writing output for oo8.
I'm getting tired of beating the hell out of myself to accomplish something. I get a perverse sort of pleasure from it - not unlike sprinting uphill until I vomit. It's as if I'm not doing anything unless I'm bleeding. Hell bent for leather. Or self-flagellation for idleness and lack of manic productivity.
No mas.
It's the easier softer way or the highway.

Signore Direttore

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year

And I do place emphasis on the happy. I started the year with some hard and fast (for me) running and some yoga. The rest of the day I've spent lounging in my pajamas. I even snuck in a little nap. We've got some surf and turf for dinner. That's about it.
My resolutions are simple - to keep doing what I've been doing. 2008 was a very good year. I'm hoping 2009 is about settling into the changes that were hard won over the last year or two.

I wish you all a year of abundant spirit and joy.

Signore Direttore