Saturday, May 26, 2012
Thursday, May 24, 2012
I just won this wind up toy on eBay. It's a prop for Toñita Runs Away.
Instead of starting with a script, I'm letting ideas, location, props and actors lead me to the film I am meant to make. I'm reminded of the interviews with François Truffaut and Jean-Pierre Léaud (extras on the The 400 Blows Criterion DVD, which are precious) where they talk about the process of shooting that film. Truffaut only had pieces of paper where he wrote down the actions and locations he wanted to shoot and he encouraged Léaud improvise most of his dialogue. You know that famous scene at the end of the film where the social worker asks Antoine why he doesn't like this mother? Fourteen year old Léaud came up with it himself. Léaud is Antonie Doinel.
John August asks in this recent post Is Screenwriting Dead? I think the right question to ask is, should it be dead? I think so. As the "craft" stands today, it's responsible for the formulaic pablum created in this country. Mainstream entertainment is an oppressive environment and everyone knows it. American audiences expect this recycled crap and when confronted with something new, they don't know what to make of it.
So Hollywood is what it is, I get it. However, this unimaginative filmmaking has infected every screen, whether at a film festival or a computer. It's the same shit over and over and over again. If this is what you want to do, fine. But given the competition, and you know every other person in this country has Final Draft, an iMac and a DSLR, how in the hell do you expect to stand out and be noticed?
Bowing down to the oppressors is not going to do it for you. Find your own way.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
After my mother divorced our biological father, her gringo boss, Mr. Carson, wasted no time in pursuing and wooing her. His courtship was successful and she finally gave in. He divorced his second wife, married my mom and took in her whole family. And by "whole family" I don't just mean her three kids. That’s how we ended up Carsons and rich.
I can say without doubt that the most fun I ever had as a kid was roller-skating to disco music. While I write this, I’m listening to the Donna Summer Pandora station and awful disco song after awful disco song takes me back to those very happy times. There were two rinks in Mexicali but Patinerama was the one where the rich kids skated. It was the place to be and be seen. Patinerama made it easy to determine who were the privileged kids by selling expensive memberships. With the membership, you got unlimited skating but most importantly, you got special-order skates and to pick the color of your wheels and case. After what seemed like an eternal wait of about four weeks, you received a cool valise with your black skates if you were a boy and white if you were a girl. The general public--the have nots--got used hideous brown and beige skates with orange wheels. My brother and I had blue wheels and my sister had pink. The class separation was crystal clear for all to see. And no one else inside that rink, even if they were richer than us, got dropped off in a blue Mercedes Benz sedan. No one.
I was the oldest, I led the pack and I set the example. Yes, I was the worst and it was definitely not the height of my snobbery but the beginning, as it's demonstrated in this post. I find some comfort in believing that most kids would have acted the same way if they were the only ones in the city being driven around in a Mercedes. It was back in the late 1970s when only politicians in Mexico City were seen in foreign luxury cars. And even that was rare. It was a big deal and I felt special. I often caught the popular teenage girls sneering with envy as we pulled up the front. The boys would ask us questions about the German oddity and sometimes if they could see the inside. It was even better when my dad gave my mom her very own car and we were either dropped off in a blue or a brown Mercedes.
Yes, it was a very happy time. We had a blast skating around and around and around for hours. My brother was a daredevil and he would attempt tricks but the most my sister and I did was skate backwards and spin a few times. It didn’t matter. It was fun to skate in an endless loop to the hits of 1979. Any time I hear any of those disco tunes, I'm there, gliding on my white skates with stick on California plates on the heels having the time of my life.
Then, something awful happened. My mom and grandma got too busy to drop us off. My dad owned maquiladoras (factories) and business was getting better and better. In fact, it was booming and the “girls,” as my dad called them, had to work overtime and be fed dinner every evening. My mom always made sure the employees were taken care of, so my parents hired Carmen, a full time cook and her father, Don Francisco, just because he needed a job. I don’t really remember what he did, except the one thing my mom asked him to do at around 5:00 p.m. every afternoon.
It looked more like a boat than a station wagon. It was old, stinky, rusty and falling apart; the complete opposite of the German beauties. It was a very short ride to Patinerama from our house so I didn’t have a lot of time to plot. I was sweating it. There was no way I was going to let it happen. I was not going to arrive in that monstrosity. What was I supposed to do? Explain? Explain to those bitches why we weren’t arriving in our usual cars? I didn’t even speak to them, how could I explain that this was our new chauffeur and "limo"? About two blocks from the rink, I told Don Francisco to stop. “You can drop us off here,” I said. My brother and sister looked at me like “what the hell?” Don Francisco pulled over. “Why,” he asked. I hadn’t thought of that scenario—having to provide an explanation. Even at that young age honesty wasn’t an option for me. I knew what it meant to hurt someone’s feelings. They were all looking at me waiting for an answer.
I looked down at my paunch. His daughter had made us fat with her lard-filled, homemade flour tortillas. She would make them every day; for breakfast, for lunch, for snacks, for dinner. I suspect it was her favorite thing to make because she was always making flour tortillas. “We need the exercise. I want to exercise and walk,” I replied. That seemed to satisfy Don Francisco. We got out of the car and on our walk to the rink I explained to my siblings. They agreed with me and became my accomplices. This went on for months. I forgot when and how Don Francisco let it slip and told my grandmother, but I remember her reaction. She got angry and she called us chamacos desgraciados. It didn’t matter. I still made Don Francisco drop us off in the same spot.
In the summer of 1980 we left Mexicali and moved to the top of Mount Soledad in La Jolla, California. Every other car in La Jolla was a Mercedes and there was no Patinerama. I didn’t feel so special then. I felt lost and afraid in a completely different world. I would not feel special because of a car until my high school senior year when my parents gave me my own convertible 380SL. A year later I rolled it down a hill, but we’ll leave that story for when Phil Collins dies.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
It’s confirmed. My new film, still to be shot in Mexico with non-professionals and on black & white film (how Bresson, right?), will screen at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego on August 30, 2012. Press release and details to be announced.
After being scolded one too many times, mischievous Toñita runs away from home. While on the road, she meets another little girl and together they embark on a frolic through the Mexican countryside. On their way to the beach, their fun is interrupted by a gang of bullies and what looks like a covered corpse in the middle of the road.
Thursday, May 03, 2012
Dizzydent Films is now casting for its latest comedy short entitled, 1st & 10.
Tagline: Couples football is not always the worst compromise for everybody.
Synopsis: On their way to brunch, a couple spots a couple tossing a football around at the park. They know them and stop to say hello. The women are then cajoled into a friendly game of couples football and end up working out their frustrations on the field.
Location: Balboa Park, San Diego, CA (pictured)
Dates: June TBA, one day shoot (A Saturday or Sunday in June)
Man: 30-40, any ethnicity. Must have comedy/improv training and experience. Must be somewhat athletic, be able to throw a football and be willing to take a Nerf ball on the head and be touched by a man. NO HOMOPHOBES please!
Woman: 20-35, any ethnicity. Must have comedy/improv training and experience. Must be somewhat athletic and be willing to take a Nerf ball on the head.
Note: This is a goofy action film. Actors must be willing to play “fake’ touch football. We need actors willing to do almost anything for a laugh. There’s a script but improv is the name of the game.
Very important: NO PAY. We will compensate you with copy, credit, mileage and good food and drinks.
Send headshot, resume and link to reel to casting@dizzydentfilms.
Please send this notice to anyone that might be interested. Thank you.