The comedy short film “The MURDER of James Dean”

We are filmmakers; actors, director, cinematographer, crew members, producers. We are coming together from across the country – New York City, Fresno, Los Angeles – to make a smart, entertaining short film that you and Hollywood will enjoy. Join us on Indiegogo at

I’m Michael Barnard.

The rest of our cast and crew are experienced in their field, as actors, cinematographer, crew, and need this opportunity to move up in Hollywood. As soon as you give us the green light, we will make commitments, schedules, and go into production on “The MURDER of James Dean.”

With your greenlight, we will produce a high-quality short film to submit to film festivals and share online. We have the right screenplay, we have the right people, we even have the right equipment. We need you to give us the greenlight so we can go into production and make “The MURDER of James Dean.” We hope to keep you entertained and happy, both with your participation in the production, and with our gifts of appreciation for your support. The film’s message of inclusion and struggle will touch people. And when fame comes, you’ll be with us.

It’s a comedy short film about real human emotions. In “The MURDER of James Dean,” Michael, a down-and-out, over-the-hill screenwriter struggles to regain his footing and the life he knew in Hollywood. It’s the struggle everyone fears.

At the same time, Raymond, a young wannabe film producer struggles to finally open a door of opportunity and a career in Hollywood. It’s the struggle everyone goes through.

Michael and Raymond are from different backgrounds, different ages, different cultures. Both strive to make their own future, using the other as a stepping stone to their goals. That’s the game everyone plays in Hollywood.

A wild conspiracy theory about the death of James Dean brings these two together. There are lots of conspiracy theories in the world, and both recognize this one as a great story that could be made into a great movie.

They have a unique connection to an elderly lawyer who was in Dean’s circle of friends long ago and claims to have proof of the conspiracy. He wants to finally spill the beans, and will tell only Michael and Raymond.

But, it doesn’t go well.

As they struggle to make it work, then watch the opportunity slip away out of their control, they battle each other. Anger, frustration, and fear boil to the surface as their Hollywood game unravels.

In the end, they finally recognize the human relationship that’s more important than the Hollywood games.

Michael is older, a white guy in his late 50s, treated like an over-the-hill has-been writer by Hollywood. Michael is stuck in Fresno after everything falls apart for him.

Raymond is younger, an Hispanic guy in his early 20s, treated like a silly kid from the wrong side of the tracks by Hollywood. Raymond is trying to get out of The Bronx.

Lucy is Michael’s older sister, and she’s just not having his failed ass hanging around her family home in Fresno.

Pat, black, 30ish, and filming partner B.J., black, 20ish (any gender M/F/T to be cast), get sucked into pursuit of the story when asked to film an interview of the man with the conspiracy theory.

And there’s that guy with the conspiracy theory…

Short films are calling cards, door openers for the film/TV business. Commercial and profitable opportunities for short films are still quite rare; the purpose of short films is to entertain audiences and to introduce the filmmakers, cast, and crew to the film/TV industry. A well-done short film can prove to the Hollywood gate-keepers, producers, distributers, and money people that the people who crafted a good short film can be trusted to make a bigger production. That’s the goal for those of us crafting the short film comedy The MURDER of James Dean.

(From “Short of the Week’s Andrew Allen on How to Make the Most of Your Short Film“)

The screenplay has already attracted awards-attention, which is rare for short film scripts. The people involved in the project have experience in production and need to expand their opportunities to go further. With The MURDER of James Dean, we will make an entertaining film that can be competitive on the film festival circuit and online. If the film attracts attention at film festivals and online, as the screenplay itself already has done in contests, we can expect audiences to enjoy it and Hollywood gatekeepers to open up to us. (Filmmaker Michael R. Barnard is in post-production, doing audio fixing, on his current short film “THE CAMERA,” and his previous short film, the ‘no-budget, one-day, one-location, two-people’ “HOT CAR” – consider it R-rated – has been viewed on YouTube more than a quarter-million times.)

For talented actors, a lead role in a well-made and popular short film can open up big opportunities in larger films and TV, expanding careers.

For talented crew in positions such as Director of Photography, Makeup, Sound, and other positions, proving themselves with excellent work using minimum resources can boost a career in film/TV production.

The MURDER of James Dean is likely to be published on IMDb, which is the de facto standard for film/TV credits, making the cast and crew visible and validated to the industry.

These are the reasons for cast and crew to volunteer as a labor of love and an exercise of their artistry to make a good short film. We offer a stipend to each member of the team. The size of our stipend depends on the success and over-funding of this crowdfunding effort.

Filmmaker Michael R. Barnard already owns the production gear necessary for good production of a short film. The equipment package is efficient and good quality; a Sony A7 full-frame mirrorless camera with 50mm f1.8 and 28-70mm f3.5-5.6 lenses plus various adapters and filters, coupled to an Atomos Ninja 2 4:2:2 ProRes recorder and monitor; a Comodo VB-1850 Orbit camera cage for shooting action on the run, a Rhino 48” camera slider, Tascam DAR with boom and microphones, various LED lights, and lightweight camera support and grip equipment. The filmmaker also already owns an editing system running Adobe Premier Pro, After Effects, Photoshop, and more for post-production.

Of course, we have an award-winning screenplay.

Filmmaker Michael R. Barnard has years of experience in film/TV production, including low-budget run-and-gun production. Research the filmmaker’s résumé, LinkedIn, and IMDb. (To be very frank and personal, my career got very bumpy after the triple-whammy of the Writers Strike, the Great Recession, and the death of my passion project. The Writers Strike destroyed my job on a new FOX TV Network series; the Great Recession destroyed signed contracts for me to produce three more feature films; and, my passion project, the feature film screenplay “EVERYBODY SAYS GOODBYE—The Story of a Father and Son,” died after more than a decade and a half of many ‘almost there’ efforts.)

Support us. This is the time.

We are now in an era when human relationships collapse under the shadows of differences and games played, and we need to return from that, to see the humanity in the relationships that surround us.

Spread the word, please. Indiegogo has great tools to help you share this.

In the practical sense, the deadlines for submission to top-tier film festivals, such as Sundance, where I’ve worked for a decade, SXSW in Austin, and others, are rapidly approaching in September. We need to have The MURDER of James Dean completed as soon as possible to submit to those festivals. That gives us only a few weeks to gather the green-light funds for production. It’s very doable, if this crowdfunding campaign succeeds.

This is the process for good short films. They are a work of love, a work of artistry, a work for opportunity for the future. Short films are not made to pursue commercial success. Crafting a short film that audiences love is the sure way to gain new audiences, career opportunities and potential for success with feature films and TV shows.

Your support will help create a wonderful movie and new careers. The fundraising campaign will be on Indiegogo soon. You can preview the campaign right now by clicking here.




#ACTORS NEEDED for “The Murder of James Dean” shooting in early September in #Hollywood and #Fresno.

ALL ROLES: Volunteer work for career advancement (short will submit to top-tier film festivals). Daily cash stipend depends on success of crowdfunding campaign, plus transportation/lodging, meals, IMDb credit.

MICHAEL, lead.

Experienced #male actor, 50ish white male, distressed about being an over-the-hill screenwriter now ignored by Hollywood, stuck in Fresno California after everything falls apart for him. Scenes will shoot in Hollywood and Fresno in early September, probably 4 days of shooting.

RAYMOND, lead.

Experienced #male actor, early 20s, ethnic (*not* looking like James Dean), distressed about being treated like a silly kid trying to get out of The Bronx and into Hollywood. Scenes will shoot in Fresno in early September, probably 2 days of shooting.

PAT, secondary lead.

Experienced actor, 30ish African American any #gender, thuggish-appearing wannabe filmmaker brought in to videotape an in-home interview. Scenes will shoot in Hollywood and Fresno, probably 3 days of shooting.

B.J., secondary lead.

Experienced actor, 20ish African American, any #gender / #genderfluid / #transgender, working with PAT to videotape an in-home interview. Scenes will shoot in Hollywood and Fresno, probably 3 days of shooting.

LUCY, day player.

Experienced actor, 50ish white #female, Michael’s older sister not having his failed ass hanging around her family home. Scene will shoot in Fresno. probably 1 day of shooting.


Submit headshot/resume to Casting ( AT ) TheMURDERofJamesDean ( DOT ) com


My bumpy road through “Hollywood” – PALLION THE YOUNG STALLION spec script for BoJack Horseman

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.

I wrote the spec script (“spec” is short for “speculation,” which is what writers do when they are not hired to write a specific story) about a new emotional roller coaster for BoJack. I threw into his life a gay young dancer who wants to become his friend. BoJack has to sort out the whole idea of being friends with someone who is gay.

Download the spec script PALLION THE YOUNG STALLION episode for BoJack Horseman here:

Download the spec script PALLION THE YOUNG STALLION episode for BoJack Horseman here:

Ironically, it turns out my sense that this would be an interesting topic for BoJack was later supported by the New York Times when they published the article, Welcome to the Age of the Twink“.

Not only is it a good script, it’s timely as hell, too!

But, sadly, nobody at the BoJack Horseman production company would, as usual, read it. I couldn’t get around the rote “no submissions” policy. So, here it is for you to enjoy. Click here to share it on Twitter if you enjoy it.


My Bumpy Road Through “Hollywood” — A Venom in the Blood



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.
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Production is morphing into … what? Is it “filmmaking” if there’s no film? Are we “taping” a program if there’s no tape? Are they “films” or “movies” it they are viewed on a smartphone? Is it “Television” if it’s streaming online on demand?

The technology of production and the delivery methods are no longer pertinent to defining what creators do. We create. We no longer create things clearly defined as “TV shows” or “Movies” or “Web Series.” What we create is now going out on all of “The Blended Screens.” Some have called it “content” but I think that term is weak and too broad.

For me, I’ve decided it’s all “story-making” and that’s what I choose from now on.




Coffee joints for Writers & Filmmakers in NYC & L.A.

This is just for writers and filmmakers! =}

Writers and filmmakers are often hauling their laptops to coffee houses for writing and working. In New York and Los Angeles, there are many such places, but sometimes they are difficult to find.

Let’s build a list of coffee joints where we like to work.

Besides, we all love the adventure of finding a new place to hang out.

I recommend that you copy the info below, then paste it into a comment to this blog posting and let us know your recommended hangouts.

I’ll start adding some that I’ve found in both cities.

Here’s the form to copy and paste.

WIFI: [_]Free with purchase [_]Unlimited time [_]pay
AC outlets: [_]Many [_]Precious Few [_]none
Crowded: [_]Always [_]Seldom [_]Never
Atmosphere [_]chatting [_]boisterous [_]library
Crowd: [_]writers [_]tourists [_]mixed
Menu: [_]pastries [_]sandwiches [_]full menu
Price: [_]$ [_]$$ [_]$$$!



How to Start Writing a Screenplay

TYPEWRITER Photo by Florian Klauer

Photo by Florian Klauer

There are a lot of screenwriting gurus. That’s because there are so many people who want to write screenplays and are scared to death about doing it wrong. It seems that, for every 100 people who are afraid of the number of brads that must be in a script (two), the typeface that must be used (Courier 11 or 12), the right software (FINAL DRAFT for $$, CELTX for free), and every other element that they think is the key to the magic kingdom of screenwriting success, there are at least a couple gurus who have all the answers.

That’s all good, but it seems to me, from the comments I always hear from people who want to start writing screenplays, the ‘take-away’ is always wrong. The wrong “rules” are assumed to be the most important.
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My Bumpy Road Through “Hollywood” — THE MOVIE THAT NEEDS TO BE MADE

After working in television, radio, and video since high school, I eventually pushed myself into the indie film biz, which suited my creative and entrepreneurial nature. That involved me acquiring scripts and novels of other writers and trying to make them into movies. [UPDATED, see end of blog posting.]
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