I’m sure there are writers out there who are good enough that they don’t need early readers to help them. I’m not one of them. I find a second, third, fourth, etc. set of eyes and brains incredibly helpful, when editing. By the time I send it out to anyone, including my first reader (Memi, my wife), I’ve already read and re-read the script almost twenty times. The thing is, there are only so many people I trust for good advice, and those people can only read a script for the first time once. So, it’s got to be as good as I can make it.
I got notes back from my friends Earl Newton (Earl) and Cameron Kaiser (Kaiser) a week ago. Some of those notes found deep systemic stuff that took me the better part of a week to digest. But, I figured out what the issues were and then spent another day trying to fix it.
Last Friday, I did a read-through, just to re-implant the script into my mind. Some of the notes were issues that resolved themselves later in the story (often times people make notes as they go). Others were simply a matter of voice (my voice isn’t the same as others). But, the vast majority of the notes were right, either about the issue they were addressing, or they were talking about another issue; in either case, they warranted my attention.
Those were the general notes.
This morning I took a look at the specific notes I got back from Earl, those imbedded in the .pdf.
I like to send out .pdf’s for a few reasons: 1) I don’t like to use paper if I don’t have to; 2) People usually have a computer with them while they may not feel like taking 130 printed pages everywhere they go; 3) I always email the .pdf so I have a digital record of who and when I sent the script to, and what draft they got. I trust my friends—I would never send them the script in the first place if I didn’t. But, I am also a cautious person. Why take risks if I don’t have to.
Anyway, back to the notes.
I’ve spent a lot of time studying computer hacking to just get me enough information to be able to write this script. (I didn’t get everything right, which is why Kaiser is one of the readers. He is very good at computers and he is very smart. He will catch any mistakes I make and offer better solutions.)
Earl is good with computers. He has set up his own movie editing bay and has a ton of hard drives. He writes Sci-fi so he’s not even close to a luddite. At the same time, he’s no where near as knowledgable as I have become because of my research. So, when Earl gives me notes, he’ll find the places where I use jargon that most people won’t understand because he doesn’t understand.
Earl’s notes are forcing me to ask a question he actually brought up in the macro notes: Who am I actually trying to reach with this movie? That question has been plaguing me since I first came up with the idea. I’ve done too much research into movie distribution to know that if I don’t target a specific audience, it won’t sell at all. At the same time, my larger goal is to get people talking, and thinking about freedom and power and how information facilitates both those things. In fact, one of Will’s lines is “I’m not going to dumb this down to the lowest common denominator.”
But, if Earl doesn’t get it, it’s pretty likely almost no one else will either, except the hacker elite. That’s about where I’m at now, with the script.
* * *
H, a long-time friend and the lead male in my first movie HUNGER and I had lunch. The main reason we met was for me to pick up a shelf-attachment for my Ikea desk. Since Ikea no longer sells my desk or the shelf, it was a real find. He told me about the shelf the night before.
H can act. In fact, he had a reoccurring role in a hit 80’s TV show before he became a model. He has since had a bunch of small roles in a bunch of major studio movies. The cool thing about H, other than that he’s one of the nicest people I know, is that he knows everyone in Hollywood.
While we were having lunch today, I asked him how I can contact actors without having to deal with their agents (who would inevitably block me because of my low-budget). He responded, “I’d just call them. I’ve probably got their phone number.”
I’ve been bugging H to be my agent or manager or something. For a long time he said no.
Today, I asked him to help me produce TRK. I told him the general scope of the project and what I needed. Earlier this afternoon he sent me a text: “Ok. Count me in as producer.” I imagine you’re reading this after you’ve seen the movie, so you know the enormity of the project when compared to a typical independent movie. The thought of doing everything behind the camera on my own was daunting. I was going to do it because I know I can. But, I definitely didn’t want to. So, H signing on really took a load off. I mean, there’s still a whole lot more to do, not the least of which is communicating what I need to H but it feels good to know I’m not alone in pre-prod.
I’m meeting H tomorrow at 8:00am to talk about what we need from here.
* * *
Before all that, in the morning, I finally decided to buy the Smooth Shooter. It’s an inexpensive version of a Steadicam. It was $1,389.99 from B&H, which is a really good deal. I don’t like spending money, especially when I’ve got such a limited budget. But, when I made the choice to go with a smooth, almost always moving camera, it required that I get a dolly or a slider and a Steadicam. And, in case you’re wondering, with the number of shooting days, not to mention the time it’s going to take me to learn how to use it, renting it would have been considerably more expensive.