Friday, January 18, 2008


Haven't gotten a whole lot done this week, having spent pretty much all of it in the grip of a sphincter-tightening panic. Not that I haven't been trying, it's just that whatever I type turns to crap onscreen. Even THE HOLIDAY MEN #3: A TOWN CALLED BETA isn't getting me going. I know what I want the story to be, how it's going to go, but writing it--even the normally relatively easy panel breakdown, prior to coming up with dialogue and text--is proving to be ridiculously difficult. The spec script I've been working on to have a sample to back up the other spec (kinda want to prove the first one, which was so well-received, wasn't a one-time chance occurence) has turned into something akin to a three-week long tooth extraction. The revised SOULMAKER outline, some other loose's not that the well is dry, just that there's a gaping hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza...

T's scarcely doing better. This afternoon we said, screw it, took the movie passes her parents gave us for Christmas and went and saw CLOVERFIELD. I've cut and pasted my initial thoughts on the film from a post I made on Canadian Geek. They're riddled with spoilers--I think I give away the ending in the first sentence--so I'm putting a writers meme that's been making the rounds between this intro and the semi-review.



Andrew: "How many times do I have to tell you: NEVER FORGET A MASSIVE SLAUGHTER."

Nick Johnson: "When I get the money, I'm having that tattooed on my ass."

You may consider this post the official start-up of my "Nick Johnson's Ass Tattoo" fundraising. The guy's just wacky enough to follow through with this, if the money's there...

Speaking of Nick, he's got a secret.



Think I got this one from [Bad username: Tony Lee ].

What's the last thing you wrote?
The commentary for the second HOLIDAY MEN installment. For fiction, a short two-pager for MERCY SEAT: CHILDREN ARE CRUEL is the last thing I finished.

Was it any good?
I like it.

What's the first thing you ever wrote that you still have?
I’m not entirely sure and I’m in no rush to find out.

Was it any good?
No. Definitely not.

Write poetry?
Not since art college.

Angsty poetry?
Not since art college.

Favourite genre of writing?
To read: comedy.
To write: black comedy.

Most fun character you ever wrote?
Shannon Wade, with pretty much anyone in THE HOLIDAY MEN coming in a close second.

Most annoying character you ever wrote?
Most annoying to me would be any of the native characters in Cowboys & Aliens.

Best plot you ever wrote?

Coolest plot twist you ever wrote?
Shelley DeMornay’s efforts to save herself from Andy in DONE TO DEATH.

How often do you get writer's block?
Only once, but it’s lasted 37 years.

How do you fix it?
Fix it?

Write fan fiction?
Not since I was a teen. Unless you count paid work on pre-established licensed material, in which case, JEREMIAH: THE LAST EMPIRE counts.

Do you type or write by hand?
Type. I’m much faster at typing and I’ve got a very heavy writing hand, which kills my arm after a couple pages.

Do you save everything you write?
Sort of. I don’t throw anything away, but that doesn’t mean I can find it later.

Do you ever go back to an old idea long after you abandoned it?

What's your favourite thing that you've written?
DONE TO DEATH. Though THE HOLIDAY MEN and THE TOKEN GOBLIN are close runners-up.

What's everyone else's favourite thing that you've written?
A lot of people like PARTING WAYS. I like it, too, but not as much as the darker and/or more ridiculous stuff.

Do you even show people your work?
When it’s ready to be shown, sure.

Who's your favourite constructive critic?
Probably Ward. He gets me. Outside of that, my artist collaborators--if we’re on the same page, that means we’re probably OK.

Do you have a web site for your writings?
Yes, but it’s not kept up very well.

Did you ever write a novel?
No. Actually, let me rephrase that: I’ve never FINISHED writing a novel.

Have you ever written fantasy, sci-fi, or horror?
Oh yes.

Ever written romance or teen angsty drama?
A teen angsty drama almost certainly, but I don’t recall doing either.

What's your favourite setting for your characters?
Any situation where they’ve lost control and are getting desperate enough to do something extreme.

What's one genre you have never written, and probably never will?
Straight romance.

How many writing projects are you working on right now?
A lot. Unless you mean RIGHT now, in which case, none--I’m doing this questionnaire.

Do you want to write for a living?
Like you wouldn’t believe.

Have you ever written something for a magazine or newspaper?
A letter to the editor. It got published, too. No money in it, though.

Have you ever won an award for your writing?
No, but I have won an award for not writing.
Actually, now that I think of it, I did win the fifty dollar prize for some local writing contest when I was in Grade Nine.

Ever written something in script or play format?
A couple of screenplays my manager’s ready to “go out with” as soon as the writers strike is over.

What are your five favourite words?
I don’t know if they’re favourites, but I use “well”, “frankly”, “that said”, and “bugger” an awful lot.

Do you ever parody?
I don’t usually go for direct parody, as that can prematurely date a work, making it unpalatable for someone reading twenty years down the line. That said, the first or second ending to TITUS: HEROIC FAILURE is very much a parody.

What's your favourite thing to parody?
Whatever angers me at a given moment. Which amounts to pretty much everything, at some point during the day.

Do you actually like that thing, or are you spitefully making fun of it?
Both, depending on what I’m making fun of.

Do you ever write based on yourself?
Not since art college, when I realized I’m an incredibly boring person.

I mean I’m really, astonishingly dull.

What character that you've written most resembles yourself?
Peter Orbach from PARTING WAYS or Andy in DONE TO DEATH. I’m a sad, sad man.

Where do you get ideas for your other characters?
All over the place, but they often come from the needs of the story. Once I know their purpose, I can figure out how to make them serve that purpose. Once that’s done, I can start filling in the blanks left over to make them something more than cogs in the machine. Of course, when I do that, the cogs get clogged up and the whole thing falls apart.

I hate characters.

Do you ever write based on your dreams?
Not based on them, though images and loose ideas from them sometimes appear.

Do you favour happy endings, sad endings, or cliff-hangers?
I favour sad endings, but do my best to write happy ones, because I’m a Total Sell-Out. Or at least I try to be.

Have you ever written based on an artwork you've seen?
I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of Magritte’s The Treachery of Images. AS REAL AS MONSTERS was inspired by that painting, along with a piece of graffiti I once saw.

Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
Yeah. It’s a habit I formed during my days as an English teacher’s son.

Ever write something entirely in chatspeak? (How r u?)
No. And if I did, it’d probably be a suicide note, because I’d have to kill myself shortly after writing anything in that fashion.

Entirely in L337?
Not knowingly.

Was that question completely appalling and un-writer like?

Does music help you write?
Not anymore, but I usually have something on very, very low, more out of habit than anything else.

Do you have a weblog or livejournal?

Are people surprised and confused when they find out you write well?
*I’m* surprised and confused when I find out I write well.

Quote something you've written. The first thing to pop into your mind.
"Well, shit."



As one person yelled on the way out of the theatre, "Everybody died and I don't know what the **** just happened!" Which was funny, but not inaccurate. The creature is never given a backstory; it appears, it and its parasites destroy a lot of Manhattan and kill a lot of people, and they're still doing it when the film ends. That really pissed a few people in the audience off, as they thought they were seeing a monster story. What they're given is a love story told against the backdrop of an incredibly devastating, apparently senseless attack on the city. The only reason this couldn't have had 9/11 as a backdrop is because the audience knows that as soon as the second tower goes down, the threat to people not immediately in the vicinity is over. In this movie, the characters are in danger pretty much from the moment the first "earthquake" hits.

There are no real twists, unless one considers the non-Hollywood ending a twist. I'm a little worried that we're going to see a Cloverfield 2, where someone attempts to fill in all the blanks of this movie. Is the monster an Elder God? Could be--it's definitely got an absolutely unstoppable quality to it. Is it just a natural mutation? A government experiment gone wrong? An unlikely form of biological warfare? We never find out, and, for the story the creators are telling, it doesn't really matter.

One aspect of the film that did strike me as Lovecraftian is the palpable atmosphere of menace the filmmakers build up and maintain through the film. I don't think we're ever given a full view of the monster, rather we get a tail, a foot, a face without the context of the rest of the thing. When we finally do get a look at the entire body (rather than a limb at a time), the jerky camera, smoke, and carnage surrounding it still obscure it. It's what's not shown that's really distressing.

I hope this film does well, but I suspect there's going to be some backlash. I don't think it's what people are going to go in expecting. There are no traditional heroes, nobody comes up with some brilliant plan to stop the thing (the closest they get is "Maybe if we level Manhattan, that'll kill it"), and, as it's set over a seven hour period, no explanations. While I'm definitely interested in the conversation that's likely to result re: what exactly happened there, nailing it down in the film (or a subsequent film) would transform it into another kind of story entirely.


No comments: