October 29, 2004

In Winnipeg (temporarily)

I'm in Winnipeg all weekend for a series of intensive story meetings with Bevan (director) and Frank (producer) of 40 Below Films. We're deconstructing Effective Immediately, a low-budget feature project we've had in development for the last eighteen months, (interrupted by a brief hiatus to shoot and edit On a Sunday, a short film which we have just started to submit to festivals).

With an infusion of development funding from Manitoba Film & Sound, this rewrite stage also reunites me with a friend and colleague from my Vancouver Film School days, Scott Fitzgerald Gray, who has ignored all conventional wisdom and agreed to work with us by offering his superior story-editing skills for a pittance.

October 27, 2004

Right of Passage

Yesterday marked another right of passage in my screenwriting career; it was the first time I've ever sent a screenplay directly to an actor with a Hollywood address.

Over the last nine months I've written a screenplay for James Karen based upon the character he so lovingly brought to life in our short film Flickering Blue. We first spoke of expanding upon the short's basic theme and its protagonist, Al Bullinger, over lunch in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in November of 2003.

At one point during that lunch Jimmy leaned over to me and said, with his wry wit, "Write fast. I'm eighty years old, you know?"

The success of the short film on the festival circuit in the intervening months has only added to the momentum of the project.

Writing the feature, (tentatively entitled Slim Bullinger, for reasons I won't divulge here), has been a fantastic experience. I've been exchanging ideas with director Harper Philbin from the outset, even while I was gallivanting around India for three months, and he has reviewed and consulted on each subsequent draft. Having worked in abject isolation before, let me tell you, having good collaborators onboard from the outset is a boon to the creative process. And imagining Jimmy Karen's delivery has made the dialogue writing an absolute joy.

October 14, 2004


I was invited to screen Flickering Blue at Trinity Western University this morning by Peg Peters, a recent acquaintance. Peg teaches a course at TWU called Christianity and Culture, and his angle is that movies influence, shape and define our culture more than any other thing. It's an interesting concept, and one that is self-evident when even the headlines of national newspapers share the front-page with thinly-veiled movie PR campaigns and/or Hollywood's opening-weekend box-office grosses.

The classroom was filled with about twenty-five earnest students - a captive audience - and the post-screening Q&A was unlike any I'd experienced after film festival screenings. The questions went beyond the garden variety 'What-inspired-you-to-write-this?' (though that question did arise) and forced me to articulate my personal artistic vision as it relates to my belief system. Heady stuff.

It's always encouraging for me as a screenwriter to meet film-fans who are socially and culturally engaged with an appetite for meaningful films with well-drawn characters and a sense of honesty and realism. Peg Peters and at least some of his students are fans of these kinds of films, the kinds of films I've set out to write.