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2018.003

Well goddammit. I suppose I have to do this thing in the spirit its intended. How do I quantify 2017, now that we’ve all moved forward in our joint temporal experience of now…?

Pride. Love. Loss. Success. Achievement. Failure. Disappointment. Joy. Anger. Frustration.

I began 2017 with an entire catalog of expectations that proved to be as wrong as wrong can be. I have ended the year in exactly the same fashion. Along the way I got married, lost a good friend, lost a truly delightful mother-in-law, completed a film I’m extremely proud of, failed to sell that film (so far) due to truly ridiculous circumstance 100% beyond our control, and gained and lost all hope, faith and aspiration daily (or, some days, hourly).

Shoulda fastened my seatbelt. It’s been a bumpy night.

I knew when I set out on my blog-a-day mission that there would be several that were private; journal entries that are for my eyes only. As it happens, there have been a LOT more than I expected. as 2017 came to a close, it became apparent that there were a lot of thoughts and opinions I’m simply Not Allowed to Voice. That’s a hard place for me, but I have responsibilities beyond my own public persona, so I’ve ranted in silence, and it’ll stay that way for now.

Going forward into 2018, I’m still having daily crises of self centered on talent, strength of will, ambition… I’m still frustrated that we haven’t closed a sale for Diminuendo… I’m still inexplicably surprised to discover that I continue to be, by a large measure, my own worst enemy…

For some of these problems, there are already plans, mechanisms and solutions in place. For others… well… I guess I keep my enemies close.

I first became aware of The Room around 2006, when I realized I’d been seeing the same terrible billboard on Sunset for a while now. I did some digging, and found out it was a vanity film done by some weirdo foreign actor/director (how Tommy Wiseau never found NYFA is a mystery to me). I first had it described to me by one of the most aggressively hipsterish porn actors ever to work in adult, a guy who later gave me a burned DVD of the film.

When I finally sat down to watch it, I was, as many people are, mesmerized by how utterly, completely, perfectly terrible The Room is. At no point, not even for a second, is anything presented in it an acceptable approximation of filmmaking, a feat that is much harder to achieve than you’d imagine.

Look, I’m a film buff. I’ve seen a LOT of hysterically shitty movies… Plan 9 From Outer Space… The Creeping Terror… Batman v Superman… and I’ve seen a lot of attempts by people to make intentionally bad movies. Most of those fail because they miss the point: You can’t make a bad movie well. That might sound obvious, but just watch Tim Burton’s Ed Wood. In it, Johnny Depp, as the titular Wood, is a fast-talking used-car salesman of a filmmaker, utterly unconcerned about the merits of the movie he’s making.

I’ve talked at length about Ed to Bob Blackburn, the man responsible for managing the Ed Wood “estate.” The thing you must remember is Plan 9 was NOT  a throwaway film; that was Wood’s magnum opus. He put in the very best effort he could muster, and the result was one of the worst films ever made.

This leads us back to Tommy Wiseau. The Room is the best film Tommy is capable of making. The script, and his performance, are the pinnacle of his work. That’s how you get a magnificent apocalypse like The Room.

Fascinated, I later went to a screening at the Sunset 5. By this point, the weekly midnight shows had become a sold-out, Rocky Horror-style audience interaction cult phenomenon. Tommy was there, mumbled a few words before the show, and then sat in the back row to watch an entire audience mock his life’s work as if he was in on the joke. Tommy basked in the glow of thrown plastic spoons (it’s a thing… you had to be there…) as if they were accolades; as if he was in on the joke.

Of course, he wasn’t.

In a couple weeks, James Franco’s film, The Disaster Artist, which tells the story of The Room‘s creation, opens in theaters. It’s supposed to be great, but before I go watch a bunch of people — all of whom are much prettier, much more successful, and much more talented than the people they’re portraying — re-enact the great farce, I wanted to read the Greg Sestero book the film is based on.

Sestero is as talented an author as he is an actor, which is (to be kind) mediocre. In writing Tommy Wiseau’s unauthorized biography, the portrait Greg unwittingly paints of himself depicts a marginally talented, weak-willed, spineless, lazy and relatively unintelligent Hollywood pretty-boy. In other words, exactly the character he plays in the film. The events described, however, are every bit as chaotic, bizarre, and utterly flabbergasting as you’d imagine. The effect is a bit like reading a court transcript of testimony about the Hindenburg fire.

What really struck me, were the parallels to my life while working with Axel Braun. Now, I’ve often said that I never say anything about Axel behind his back that I wouldn’t say to his face. As proof, I offer the following screenshots:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I haven’t worked with Axel in years, so I have no clue how much his Wiseau-like tendencies have fared. I’d like to think I’ve stopped being anyone’s Greg Sestero.

We all have to grow up sometime.

 

Francois Truffaut famously said that whenever you make a film, there are actually three films: The film you plan to make, the film you think you’re making, and the film you discover you’ve made. I’m one week into the second film, and I’m ecstatic.

Sure, we had some issues. The first day on any set is always something of a clusterfuck. It takes time for a crew to gel. Usually we spend the first two days stumbling over each other, getting in the way, arguing and figuring out who is worth fucking.

I apologize. That’s an inside joke.

Once we got our gears all synchro-meshed like a three-speed Pontiac, everything moved pretty smoothly. That’s not to say we had no issues. We did, in fact, fire an entire department, and have replaced them (much to the film’s benefit), but this shit happens. I like to joke that it isn’t a day on an indie film if there isn’t at least one existential threat. Things like this are why I haven’t had a day off from Diminuendo since mid-July, and why I haven’t slept more than six hours in weeks.

And I don’t care. I love it. I love this job. I pace and I bark and I joke and I smile and I tease and cajole and push on set, and I love every minute of it. I also think I’m pretty good at it. Not only have we made our day every day this week, we’ve captured some absolutely amazing moments. Instead of forcing the film to fit my vision, the film has been telling me how it wants to be shot, and I have been listening. It works.

On Thursday, Richard Hatch made room full of grown men cry when he showed me layers to a scene that I didn’t even know existed. This is when what we do feels like sorcery.

The week ahead is a tough one. Three of our days ahead are huge, with a lot of extras and really complex scenes. And I’m nothing but excited.

Here are some great shots from week one:
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When you’re making a film, there comes a moment. It has happened on every film I’ve ever made, and every one I almost made. It’s a moment of equilibrium, either gained or lost. A fleeting moment of critical mass.

You feel it. It settles as a moment of giddiness, or a crawling in the pit of your stomach. The moment where you know, with unshakable certainty, that the film either is or is not going to happen.

Y’see, unless you’re working at a very high level of film or television, production is never certain until The Moment comes. Every movie is like a snowball rolling downhill. It either takes on weight, gains velocity and feels as if it will continue under its own momentum, or it comes apart and disintegrates.

This morning, the moment hit me. Diminuendo is happening. It’s a beautiful thing.

You’re going to be hearing me talk a lot about this film over the next several months. Here’s the scoop:

Never fully recovered from witnessing Cello Shea, the love of his life, commit suicide in front of him, famous director Haskell Edwards has fallen into a nine year, alcoholic, drug-induced slump he isn’t even sure he wants to pull out of.

When a high profile tech-company invites him to direct a movie about Cello’s life, Haskell’s not sure if he should take the job, especially when they reveal the utterly lifelike robot that will be playing Cello.

Recruiting his old friends (and enemies) to help him produce a movie that honors Cello’s legacy, Haskell is forced to relive his whirlwind relationship with Cello and finally address the differences between love and obsession.

THE CAST includes Richard Hatch (Battlestar: Galactica, Cowboys & Engines, The Rainmakers), Chloe Dykstra (Nerdist, Drag Me To Hell, Spider-Man 2), Leah Cairns (Interstellar, 88 Minutes, Fargo [Season 1]), James Deen (The Canyons, Happy-ish), Gigi Edgley (Farscape) and Walter Koenig (Star Trek, Babylon 5) as Milton Green.

PRODUCING the film are Sarah Goldberger (Cowboys & Engines, X-Rated), Hollywood Heard (Range 15, Jake’s Corner), and Ryan Linderman of Lionsgate Entertainment. The Executive Producer is Michael Hemmerich (The Jokesters, Prey).

DIMINUENDO is directed by Bryn Pryor (Cowboys & Engines, Poker) and written by Bryn Pryor & Sarah Goldberger.

Rebel 11 and Faithless Films present Diminuendo, a Flamboyance Films production.

www.DiminuendoMovie.com

 

 

So, continuing (sorta) my return-to-blogging warmup from the other day, I wanna talk about a series most of you have probably never watched: Casual.

I’m a huge fan of Jason Reitman. I would fuck Up in the Air if I could, and I’m in the narrow minority who loved both Young Adult and Men, Women and Children. I respect him to the point that I don’t even care that he hated our script for Diminuendo.

(Full non-disclosure; he is, to date, the only person I’m aware of to have this reaction. In fact, everyone else has been ridiculously positive. Also, no, I won’t tell you what he said or how we got it to him).

I love his fucked up situational awareness and train-wreck characters. So, I thought Casual, being his series, might be worth a look. And it was. Until it wasn’t.

Look, I knew we were in for a show filled with awful people doing awful things they don’t know are awful. I expected that, and wasn’t disappointed for the most part. Until the end of season one. Earlier in the season, Alex, the lead trainwreck, adopts a chocolate lab puppy. In that arc, he wisely realizes he can’t even care for himself, much less a dog, and returns the puppy to the store.

The writers, apparently out of ideas for what else to do to end the season, brought that dog back into the story at the end of the season for no reason except to kill him offscreen. So they can make a joke about it. And it’s really, really not fucking okay. It is literally a pointless, unmotivated moment of ugliness that the character can simply never recover from. In the context of the real world, it doesn’t even make sense. A whole lot of things that would never happen have to happen for this puppy to be dead.

People who know me understand my love for animals. If you’re gonna kill an animal in a story, it needs to be motivated. Important. And I will still never forget. Game of Thrones, for example, will never make me care what happens to Sansa, no matter what abuse she suffers, simply because she was responsible for Lady being killed. To paraphrase Don Corleone, “This, I do not forgive.”

So, yeah, Jason? You can do better. And Casual, as an entity, can blow me. I can only hope that Hulu cancels it after season two since we are apparently the only people watching it anyway.

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