Monday, January 24, 2005

Why Does Anyone Live Outside L.A.?

--probably because a three bedroom house costs around 500,000 dollars there (as opposed to approximately 140k here in San Antonio, TX). But it sure does seem worth it.

I went back to LA just after the rains stopped -- so the sky was sharp blue and, as the plane descended past the San Bernardino mountains for landing, one could see a thick cap of snow on the peaks. Of course, in the lowlands the temperature was in the mid-seventies.

Jaru's mother (my mother-in-law) is visiting for a few months. She also visited this summer when we were in Florida so she's now seen California, Texas, and Florida -- and will visit New Jersey in March when Jaru goes back for Sasshin. I sort of think she should visit New Jersey now, so she can gain a proper appreciation for why Jaru and I are doing our best to not live anywhere north of Berkeley.

I didn't get a chance to meet up with the producers or director this trip. Apparently they're busy, which I think translates as "fighting a lot" (the shooting start date might be delayed until April but that's one of the fighting points). The director seems to have some nice connections on the FX front and if they get things moving smoothly they can score a bargain and get some very talented people to do the work.

Last Thursday they were supposed to have a casting meeting, but that got cancelled. I'm looking forward to hearing what actors they might bring on board. It's all low budget stuff so I'm not counting on anyone famous but they might get a good character actor to play the part of the older professor in the film. Note though, that one of the selling points of a horror film is that they don't really need name actors to find an audience, and horror films that have mostly young characters, like this one, have the added advantage that young actors are hungry and cheap.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

It's a Wonder That Movies Get Made At All

The above title is something I've heard multiple times from screenwriters and producers -- and now I'm getting to experience it first hand! Essentially, it all comes down to contracts. The fights over contracts, money, credit, back-end, and so on, get rather crazy. I imagine this is true in any business but there is one complicating factor in Hollywood: people don't have a standard payscale.

When you're starting out, frankly you'll agree to practically anything in order to get a produced credit, and the companies cutting the check know that. However, most people also have a thorny sense of justice that rears up when they feel like they're getting shafted. I have no complaints about my contract; I didn't expect much and actually got a bit better deal than I anticipated. But I know there have been some fights elsewhere.

Another way the no-standard-payscale comes out is that established actors, directors, and writers, charge based on the kind of movie being made. They don't have a standard salary. So, even though Tom Cruise might typically make 25 million per picture -- that doesn't apply if it's one of those prestige roles with Oscar aspirations. You can get actors for scale on those. So that means that arguments also arise over whether or not the movie is commercial or prestige.

Anyway, I received my first check yesterday, really just a deposit (i.e. an option payment) -- but already more than I made combined doing RPG writing. So tonight I'll fulfill my promise to myself and go out and buy the Stanley Kubrick Collection -- that's something I held off on since I wanted to purchase it with screenwriting cash.