“Hollywood” is the epicenter of the pandemic in California. Gov. Gavin Newsom has clearly stated this as California looks to reopen cinema/TV production shutdown by the coronavirus pandemic.
In Los Angeles county, the killing has raced past 2,000 dead.
[UPDATE: Today is Friday, June 12, 2020 and California and the County of Los Angeles have opened up cinema/TV production in “Hollywood.” The “Reopening Protocol for Music, Television and Film Production: Appendix J” is now published.
After I was divorced in the early 1990s, I ended up living in a small apartment in Hollywood, near La Brea and Franklin, three blocks from the Chinese Theater. I scrambled to make a living, to be creative, to make movies.
Above the common question “How long is a short film?*” should be the more significant question, “Why a short film?”
Good short films are enjoyable and moving, with stories that can have an impact as strong as good feature-length films or powerful TV series. You can laugh, cry, and be inspired watching a good short film.
But, why a short film? Long considered a sad attempt to mimic the more robust and legitimate feature length film, shorts have often been given … well … short shrift.
Those were the old days.
Today, the entire environment of content, what I term “The Blended Screens,” is changing.
My favorite show on Netflix is BoJack Horseman, which reveals a lot about me, since it’s a show about an emotionally dysfunctional has-been in Hollywood. So, back in January 2018, I was motivated to write a spec script for the show. I thought maybe I could replay the events decades earlier, described in “My Bumpy Road Through “Hollywood” – There once was MOONLIGHTING“, but hoping for a better result this time.
About a quarter century ago – my, how time flies! – I worked on a Paramount Television production from the team responsible for the hit 1980s series MIAMI VICE. It was a pilot starring Edward James Olmos for a proposed TV series called “Hollywood Confidential.” Olmos played a former L.A. cop who now runs a top-flight private detective agency catering to spoiled Hollywood types. (This pilot helped launched the acting career of Charlize Theron.)
Before Bruce Willis was BRUCE WILLIS, and when Cybill Shepherd was CYBILL SHEPHERD, there were only three TV networks, a couple independent TV channels, and cable TV was mostly just rebroadcasts of old shows and movies (HBO wouldn’t get an Emmy nomination until more than a decade later).
One of those three networks – ABC, the American Broadcasting Company – had a very successful series called MOONLIGHTING, starring Willis and Shepherd. Glenn Gordon Caron was the creator. The show began in 1985.
As I wander through Hollywood throughout my life, I occasionally work as a background actor, also known as an “extra.” Here is a story about my experience lately when I was a “featured extra” on an NBC mini-series.
This is my stream-of-consciousness report about production experience these days.
The TV mini-series “Law & Order True Crime: THE MENENDEZ MURDERS” was in production in September and October of 2017 and aired as eight hour-long episodes on NBC on Tuesday nights at 10:00 pm from September 26 to November 14. It was produced by prolific producer Dick Wolf’s Wolf Films, based at Comcast’s NBC/Universal lot in Universal City, California. NBC, the “National Broadcasting Company,” is a prominent broadcast network that was one of the original television broadcasting companies.
Since Middle School, I have been a writer, and was the editor of my school paper in Ninth Grade.
I began in television in high school and became producer and writer for the New Year’s Eve variety program “CELEBRATION” which aired on network affiliate TV stations in Minneapolis for several years. I then helped build and put on the air a new broadcast TV station, Channel 29, and became its Operations Manager as well as Writer, Producer, and Director for in-house programs and clients’ productions. I went on to work for several production companies, including TV production trucks, and went out on my own as an independent Writer, Producer, and Director. My productions included live and taped talk shows, variety programs, holiday specials, sports broadcasts, interstitial segments, concerts, conventions, commercials, and industrials. Minneapolis is a major market area, which Nielson ranks as 15th largest.
I became friends with Prince and helped open his Paisley Park Studios. I marketed PPS around the world for productions and rehearsals, and produced some of Prince’s video projects, including his “ALPHABET STREET” music video and his “BENEFIT CONCERT FOR THE HOMELESS.” I also wrote, produced, and directed my own projects, including “THE BERENGUER BOOGIE” which celebrated the Minnesota Twins’ first World Series win.
I said to myself, for quite some time now, “I gotta do SOMETHING.” Tired of projects failing, hating the junior high cliquishness of crowdfunding, realizing it’s been too many years. I sought the Holy Grail of indie filmmaking: two people, one room, one day.
Photo by Paula Borowska
WHAT IS THE THREAT TO NET NEUTRALITY?
Millions of American citizens have flooded the FCC website with comments to let the agency know our demand for Net Neutrality. Many citizens are intimidated by this wonky and technical issue, knowing they do not fully understand the complex issues or its importance and urgency.
The threats to the Internet are real, and now newly-empowered scurrilous politicians, demagogues, and greedy mega-corporations are mounting huge campaigns to scuttle Net Neutrality so that the corporations can use their power over the Internet for political purposes, for demagoguery, and for profiteering.
Photo by Alejandro Escamilla
Barnard’s Law No. 1
The greatest need of humans is not food, shelter, or even sex. It’s the need to rewrite what another has written.
Barnard’s Law No. 2
It’s not the idea. It’s the execution.
Barnard’s Law No. 3
Dinosaurs never see it coming.
Barnard’s Law No. 4
The responsibility to communicate is upon the communicator, not the listener.
Barnard’s Law No. 5
The job of children is to play. The job of teens is to deceive their parents. The job of adults is to slay their demons.
Barnard’s Law No. 6
Clarity is the soul of communication.
Barnard’s Law No. 7
Life is full of grand plans that suddenly need to be fixed with duct tape, and that’s okay.
Barnard’s Law No. 8
Be succinct. A short PowerPoint slide with just ten bullet points was good enough for God.
Barnard’s Law No. 9
In any group, the majority will misunderstand much of what you’re sure they understand.
Barnard’s Law No. 10
Hysteria breeds where context is ignored. Looking at results of history without knowledge of history leads to poor judgment and prejudice.
Barnard’s Law No. 11
The Internet demands of everyone that they be outraged by everything. It then amplifies it.
Barnard’s Law No. 12
Everyone else’s mess is far worse than our own mess. Roommates, especially.
Barnard’s Law No. 13
Heroes run in the opposite direction than the rest of us.
BARNARD BUYS VENOM RIGHTS – Daily Variety
Two decades ago, I bought a book.
In producer-speak, that means I acquired the rights via option to make a movie from a book. I knew a TV news reporter, and she had made contact with a reclusive author who wrote a book she thought I might be interested in. Actually, “reclusive” is too weak of a term; we both had determined that the author was in hiding. Contact was difficult and cryptic. Nonetheless, he and I got on the phone, and he figured that I would be someone he’d like to work with to get his book made into a movie, and I liked the deal, too. We sealed the deal without ever meeting.
How Is a Filmmaker Consumed by a Passion Project?
The following is a guest post from Michael R. Barnard, who is in the final days of an Indiegogo campaign for his film, Everybody Says Goodbye: The Story of a Father and Son.
For many years, I have been chasing a motion picture project that has completely consumed me. It’s called Everybody Says Goodbye: The Story of a Father and Son, and I first began writing the screenplay in 1998. Having come so close to making the movie a few times, I keep referring to this project as “a fish-hook in the eye” because it’s impossible for me to ignore and walk away from.
Photo by Israel Sundseth
I spent a lot of time on the mean streets of Hollywood. I lived there, worked there, had friends there, I walked them a lot. My screenplay for the feature film EVERYBODY SAYS GOODBYE—The Story of a Father and Son is set there, in 1998.
The sketchy stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard between La Brea Avenue and Vine Street is a little nicer now, but not by much. There has always been a veneer of potential violence.
It’s a little different style-wise, too. Back in the 1990s, if you saw a couple walking hand-in-hand along this stretch, and that couple was of opposite genders, and if each of them were their original gender, then you knew they were scared tourists separated from their tour group.
BEAR Photo by Thomas Lefebvre
(originally published April 22, 2010)
There was a recession in 1991. Not as big as this Great Recession, but big nonetheless. A hallmark of the 1991 recession was that, for the first time ever, a recession had a negative impact on “Hollywood” [Entertainment Weekly, 2/22/91: “How will the recession affect Hollywood?”], [Den of Geek, 8/18/14: “How 1991 nearly broke Hollywood”]. Home video, cable TV, and video games had broadened the “biz” and brought commodity vagaries to the tightly-controlled movie biz. It was also the time of the burgeoning new indie film biz, which blossomed in the late 1980s. And I, of course, was trying to get a movie made.
The NAB Show 2014 in Las Vegas is showing many new and innovate products and processes for indie filmmakers. Colors are becoming important, including black.
CIE 1931 xy chromaticity diagram showing the gamut of the sRGB color space and location of the primaries
[UPDATE: This was written long before my friend Prince passed away. I still miss him and am still shocked.]
A friend just now found and sent to me this post from Prince.org, the Prince fan site that described how I pulled off the production of Prince’s ALPHABET STREET video on impossible notice! It is from the book, Possessed: The Rise and Fall of Prince by Alex Hahn. Funny that I’ve never seen this before.
THE INTERNET NEEDS TO BE FREE
FLOCK OF BIRDS Photo by Fré Sonneveld
That’s not a statement about pricing, it’s a statement about democracy.
This is what is commonly referred to as “Net Neutrality.”
The following blog post keeps evolving since its original posting in 2010, because the concept of “Net Neutrality” (or the attempt at a more popular term, “The Open Internet“) is vibrant.
UPDATE AS OF APRIL 23, 2014
I guess it’s time to say goodbye to the many independent online film distribution companies who offer streaming and downloading of independent movies. The F.C.C., in a complete turn-around on the principles of Net Neutrality, just announced that they are abandoning the principle that Internet users should have equal ability to see any content they choose. The F.C.C. plans to allow Comcast, Verizon FiOS, etc., to negotiate separately with each content company – the BIG, WEALTHY, EXCLUSIVE companies like Netflix, Amazon, Disney, Google – to have them pay for good video delivery.
Aside from the democracy of the Internet, that does not look good for the competition of small distributors, nor for indie filmmakers themselves, whose voice will not be allowed on those company’s libraries of titles.
See “F.C.C., in ‘Net Neutrality’ Turnaround, Plans to Allow Fast Lane”
This subject is currently getting louder. By the end of March, 2014, it heated up in a war of words.
DEAD CAR Photo by Kristian Karlsson
If you remember that there once was a glimmer of hope for more sustainable financing for innovative small business (and, for my concern, an indie film industry) through “Equity Crowdfunding” as demanded by the JOBS Act of 2012, the fact is that it’s not going to happen. It’s already far past the Act’s imposed deadlines because the concept is anathema to the entrenched and self-interested bureaucracy.
CITY Photo by Oleg Chursin
The merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable is a powerful situation that has broad negative implications for society and for filmmakers specifically. It’s not simply a business issue, it’s a democracy issue.
The merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable is another deliberate attack on Net Neutrality.
BLANK COMPUTER Photo by Alejandro Escamilla
On my way to Sundance Film Festival 2014, news broke (see “Federal appeals court strikes down rules protecting net neutrality” at http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-net-neutrality-federal-appeals-court-20140114,0,2138188.story#ixzz2qlsuWDSC
) that made two problems painfully clear, and they will have a huge impact on filmmakers:
LONELY INVESTOR Photo by Alejandro Escamilla
Prolific indie film producer Ted Hope
, who spent the past year as Executive Director of the San Francisco Film Society (as of June 2015, a Production Executive at AMAZON STUDIOS), recently posted “Towards A Sustainable Investor Class: Accessing Quality Projects
” as a call to build a healthy independent filmmaking industry. As always, he makes an astute and excellent comment about the big picture of indie filmmaking. We engaged in a conversation, and here’s my comment about the industry and investors: Continue reading