Cut To The Chase

There’s a joke that if you don’t like the weather in Saskatchewan, just wait five minutes and it will change.  You could say the same thing about Toronto.  Cold and snowy one day, sunny and warm the next.  There hasn’t been a snowfall that stuck around for more than 48 hours since I arrived.  Is this normal?

So I was just in the middle of musing what my next paragraph might be when Ian starts sending me these e-introductions to a couple of production companies in town.  Just got off the phone with one, and sent an email to the other.  Then Ian starts emailing me more advice.  Don’t ask for coffee, ask for a pitch meeting.  Get in there and pitch.  These companies are looking for pitches.  Tell them as little as possible about your idea and tease them into asking for more.

This means I won’t be sending the pilot script, the story summary, or even the big drawn out business case.  One paragraph.  Get the meeting.  Go to their office and pitch.

Guess I have some specialized one-paragraph pitches to write.  Ian also implied a sense of urgency.  Get these pitches out the door today dammit!

So that’s it then.  Gotta cut today’s entry short.  Hope you understand.

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Injecting New Life in Old Tropes

So I’ve been talking about how I’m living inside a sit-com here in Toronto and guess what?  I finally got around to writing it.  I’m so bored with the Toronto Mission that I decided to take some time away from it, to actually do some of what the mission is about.  Write motherfucker.

I didn’t even put that much thought into it.  Didn’t want to tweak ‘Highwaymen’.  Didn’t want to address issues with ‘Dick’.  Didn’t want to dust off ‘Moment’.  Editing and re-writing were not my mood.

I wanted a clean blank page, and I wanted to bring it to life.  Wound up writing six pages.  The first three were even good.  Didn’t change anyone’s names either.  I’m in it.  Leach is in it.  Derrick, Donna, Bacia, Frankie, Tonia and everyone else who’s ever come and gone through my point of view is a character, playing themselves, however heightened.  Gave it another pass last night and now I’m up to 11 solid pages.  Just about done Act I.  Scheduled a reading for Thursday night, and so I have a few days to finish up and polish.  Ain’t nothing like a hard deadline to make things happen.

On a different note, I got my readers’ reports back from Los Angeles for my screenplay ‘That Moment in Between’.  Here’s a snippet of what they had to say;

“This was a very interesting script all in all – I thought it was a unique way of storytelling, made the common “dissolving marriage” idea original and into something we haven’t seen before. I think we had gotten to know a lot about Robert and Ash’s relationship and that the ending felt complete and almost perfect”

“The way the writer plays with time, flashbacks, perspective, and the nature of storytelling itself is engaging, and the script’s intentions are definitely admirable. It is nice to see some concerted effort in taking old tropes (i.e. the break-up story) and injecting them with a new sense of style and tone.”

There might have been some criticisms in there as well, but I can’t remember.

This is the part of my article where I say ‘hi’ to Julianne’s mom.  Thanks for reading.

Back to the writing thing… I finally got to sit down with Ian this morning.  We had a good time.  He had great things to say about ‘Highwaymen’.  We also talked about the business, the craft, and he’s keen to introduce me to some other contacts he has.  More than anything, I walked away from the meeting feeling like I’m on the right track.

I keep saying that.  You’d think I’m insecure or something.  I just think it’s good to keep hearing the same things from different people.  I’m betting my career on the moves I’m making out here.  Spent a lot of time fooling myself in the past.  I am not itching to repeat those mistakes.

So here I am.  Bottom of one article and a half a sit-com to dent by the end of today.  My life is pretty damned good.

22 Hours

Exquisite.  Treacherous.  Tranquility.  Ambivalence.  Admiration.  Passionate.

The view out your window whispers EXQUISITE thoughts to my ear.  You are here beside me, tucked gently into the nook created for us deep within a nest of pillows and red wine.  I can feel AMBIVALENCE coursing your mind, even as your skin inhales my touch.  Some part of you is away from here, where the confusions drain into a pool of enigmatic salt-water purgatory.

There are brief moments where you allow the TRANQUILITY of you and me to wash over the obligatory behavioural conditioning passing for past tentacles presently holding you stationary.  We take each others’ hand and leap blindly into the sky, free falling with TREACHEROUS abandon towards a cold hard reality.

If we could hold each other PASSIONATELY, if we could make ourselves like red hot meteor rock hurling into the atmosphere, maybe we could burn brightly through the surface upon landing.  Maybe we could evaporate the salt-water purgatory, or sear the tentacles, or scorch the obligations.  We could be the light.

We could, but we don’t.  Your eyes smile instead as I read yet another fairy tale about magic and bliss, and happily ever after.  You look upon me and those far off stories in tepid ADMIRATION, and I can’t help but think that someday soon, my special friend, you will become sufficiently bold to set yourself free.

Stylish Sideline

Just did a photo shoot with Leach.  She needed images of herself wandering through the city, being stylish.  My fee was a latte at Roncey Bean.

I’m thinking I could do some kind of a sideline with this – except instead of lattes, I’ll charge currency.  I like the idea because it doesn’t require a big commitment, scratches my creative itch, and allows me to keep my writing career front and centre.

It’s the same with art schools.  I’m now on the ‘to call’ list of a couple.  $45 per session and all I have to do is sit there.  Maybe I can offer to teach a course too.  I’ll wear clothes in that case.

There’s only so much phoning and emailing I can do in one week before it all starts to feel meaningless.  I’ve made some good contacts and I’m working them.  Progress is afoot.  Meetings are happening.  Let’s not be greedy.

Tonight Leach is organizing a read for a play she wrote.  It’ll be fun to do a read through of something that isn’t mine.  I’m curious to see what sort of ideas lurk inside that brain of hers.

Well… these are enough random thoughts.  Time to write an ad for Craig’s List.

Crazy Talk in Rocey’s

This 60-something year old guy sitting next to me is totally talking to himself.  He’s quite animated too.  Full on crazy.  Crazy, but not stupid.  He’s sporting a keen interest in etymology.  He says a word, then spells it out loud, then he says the word in French and Spanish.  He spells those out too.  Then he draws connections to similar themed words.  He just jumped from ‘weather’ to ‘time’.  “Newt Gingrich just punched out Mitt Romney.  Sacked.  Heidi Crumb.  Swiss.  Heidi.  That’s German.  This is not egotism either.”

At first I was kind of annoyed with the guy, but when it became clear that he didn’t care if I was paying him attention or not, I felt comfortable settling in for a listen.

In a way he reminds me of myself.  He sounds just like my inner voice most of the time, jumping rapidly from thought to thought to thought.  Most of us keep that voice internal.  Not this guy.  You never have to worry about what he’s thinking.  It’s refreshing.

I briefly engaged him in conversation, and he started talking to me about the history of Greece, the Romans, Latin, and its movement across Europe, the English Channel, or ‘La Manche’ as he said, eventually becoming the British Empire.

Then the coffee shop people just kicked him out.

I felt bad, but somewhat relieved at the same time.  You open the tap, and there’s no shutting it down.  They asked me if he was bothering me, and I said he’s fine.  I guess my body language communicated otherwise – or perhaps they just wanted him gone.

Starting conversations with perfect strangers in a coffee shop is a delicate process.  It’s a game.  You throw the ball, the other person catches, then that person may choose to throw it back.  Too often, people don’t know when to end the game – when to quit throwing balls.  Thus, some of the most interesting conversations in percolation, never see the light of day.  It’s better to NOT talk in the first place, than to end a conversation uncomfortably.  Sad.

Coffee Shop Trifecta

I met with a representative from Meridian Artists this morning in a coffee shop on Queen Street East.  It was a great conversation and I got all kinds of good advice.  She told me that I’m doing the right things with my writing career, and she’ll put my ‘Highwaymen’ script on their reading list.  Getting an agent is kind of necessary in this town.  I phone up development execs at production companies and the first question out their mouth is, “are you represented?”

If ‘Highwaymen’ goes forward, representation won’t be that high a priority because I’ll be up to my eyebrows in work.  Even now, my wheels are turning in anticipation of what needs to be done.  I had a pleasant phone conversation with Jim Barker, GM of the Toronto Argonauts today.  He’s agreeable to sitting down with me in late February to tell me some old war stories.  I put a similar call into the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.  Getting both those teams to endorse the idea ahead of my meeting with the CFL will be NOT a bad thing.

I’m on my third coffee shop of the day.  After my meeting this morning, I drove to Roncy’s Bean for a bit of ‘me’ time.  It’s quieter (and the internet was working).  From there I made more contacts with other agencies.  Talked to a few and sent my ‘Highwaymen’ script off.  After a few hours I ran some errands and now I’m sitting in Urbana, my other favourite coffee shop in Toronto.  I’m meeting a friend shortly and we’ll see what sort of adventure we can find this evening.

Speaking of adventure, Leach scored free tickets to ‘Cruel and Tender’, a play directed by Academy nominated director, Atom Egoyan.  The Canadian Stage Company has been promoting the hell out of it, and when Leach asked me if I wanted to go, I jumped at the chance.  Unfortunately it wasn’t very good.  The script is an adaptation of a Greek Tragedy, and it could have used more work.  Most of the story takes place offstage.  Most of the characters onstage, weren’t in conflict with each other.  They just kept musing about the happenings offstage.  Long speeches.  Awkward blocking.  Unclear objectives.  The playwright rested a little too much on his laurels, and not enough on solid story design.

I realize I sound like a snob.  I also realize that my experience is limited to classical arc-plot design.  I’m not even sure if that’s the proper term.  As Robert McKee says, there are many examples of anti-plot masterpieces.  I’m just not sure this was one of them.

Six Words for Jasmine

Ninja.  Potato.  Eraser.  Smores.  Blender.  Domination.

The secret to Eric’s DOMINATION over the world of POTATO smoothies comes from the mightiness of his nuclear powered BLENDER.

This was your conclusion and I found myself skeptical, yet by the time it was all over, you had once again proven me wrong.

Thank God for the NINJAS is all I can say.  Ten well placed dollars smuggled across the ocean in specially outfitted SMORES was certainly a clever way to engage them towards the clandestine endeavours you had in mind.  I had no idea that you were so well connected.

The world long wondered what secrets lay beyond the high walls of Eric’s fortress.  You were the only one who believed in the mission.  Zealots claimed religious jurisdiction over the mystery of POTATO smoothies and their robes totally clashed with the season.  No one should wear white after Labour Day.  You felt strongly that something had to be done and you did it.

Like an ERASER to the chalk board, you made the zealots disappear.  Secrets spilled.  Mystery solved.  Nothing more to it and what can I say?  I’ll never doubt you again.

Adscititious Reasoning

The meeting with CFL Headquarters is set for Feb 1.  In the meantime I’m keeping myself occupied with the Toronto Mission.  I’ve made phone calls and sent emails to individuals all over town.  I have a meeting next week with a representative from an agency.  Met her at the WGC Christmas party in December.  I could be doing more, but I’m starting to feel like a whore.

Frankie got back from his vacation today.  He invited me over for salmon tonight.  I’m excited about that.  We’re calling it a belated birthday treat.  Great way to cap the day.

I say that because I’ve spent the afternoon editing another pass at the YBCS video.  Hopefully I got it right this time and I can be rewarded with a timely cheque.  I haven’t received my CBC money yet and things are getting a bit uncomfortable.  I looked online to assess my financial situation, and instead of numbers, I saw tumbleweeds blowing passed my screen.

I close my eyes and I take a deep breath.  Patience.  In a matter of days things will sort themselves out.  I’m thinking of it as a money fast – a cleanse.  Short term pain for big picture health.

Financial affairs motivated me to look into modelling for art classes.  Contacted U of T, York, and OCAC.  Ryerson doesn’t seem to have a painting/drawing program.  I’m looking into other options as well.  There’s got to be more than just three schools in a town this size.

The thing that appeals to me about modelling is that it requires zero preparation, and zero follow-up.  Zen upon arrival.  Cash upon exit.  Simple.  Easy.  Adscititious to this, is the fact that I can get a great story out of the deal.  Might even be a great way to meet people too.

Well, it’s nearly salmon time.  Gonna wrap this up so I can spend some quality time staring out the window.

Picking Up The Phone

I’m back inside Roncy’s Bean, sitting next to the fireplace.  The sun is out, and I walked all the way here from the other side of The Junction.  Yesterday I sort of stumbled onto the place.  Today I made a bee-line for it.

Tony is the proprietor of the place.  He bought me a coffee yesterday and mixed up a latte for the girl sitting beside me.  We didn’t ask.  He just provided.  It’s always nice when that happens.  At another point yesterday, I was fumbling with the napkin dispenser, desperately needing to attend to a drippy nostril.  The girl whipped out from behind the counter with a box of tissue paper.  I didn’t ask.  She just provided.

I’ll be coming here with people soon.

This morning I made more phone calls, looking to line up meetings with production companies.  I also put another call into the CFL.  Left a message with their marketing person rather than their TV person.  I’m hoping the change will yield a faster response.

I remember wrestling with the decision on whether to contact the Roughriders before talking with the league.  I now believe whole-heartedly that I made the right decision.  As I make the case for myself with these perfect strangers, I can at least say that I have the trust of their most valuable franchise to pull this off.

I keep reminding myself to be patient – to trust in the process.  I also keep reminding myself about the absolute clarity I first felt about the Toronto mission.  Meet as many people as possible, have coffee/drinks with them, get hired as a writer.  With Highwaymen now looming, I’m falling back into producing my own stuff.  How does this change things?

I have other projects too.  Maybe I sit on them until they come up in a conversation with the right people?  Dunno.  One thing is certain.  Nothing happens unless I pick up the phone.

Stirring Up the Day

I’m sitting in the window of Roncy’s Bean, a new coffee shop on Roncesvalles.  I like it!  Corner location, nooks, fireplace, cool neighbourhood, and friendly service.  As Aunuld would say, “I’ll be back.”

Speaking of back, my Toronto vibe has returned.  It took a while for some reason.  Being sick hadn’t helped.  I just lost the mission somewhere on the drive home from Regina.  Never really felt the urge to go looking for it either.  That was the most troubling part.

I figured it was only a matter of time before righting the ship.  I spent the last few hours following up on old emails, and making new contacts.  If Highwaymen goes, it won’t be for a few weeks yet, and it will take cash even longer than that to flow.  Lining up a bit of writing work in the meantime wouldn’t be a bad thing.  Reaching out and touching someone always does the career some good.

It’s been raining today.  I don’t mind in the least.  It’s minus 39C back home.  I have an able raincoat, and together we don’t mind walking outside when the clouds doth open.

Let’s see what more I can stir up for the day.