Monthly Archives: February 2019

SHOOTING ONE SHOT

A bit of progress in the short film area of my career. My short thriller “One Shot” goes into production in Atlanta this weekend. Directed by Chris Miller, he has assembled an impressive cast with some nice IMDB credentials. I’m excited to see the final product.

The premise of the script, involves a Hitman sitting alone in a cheap hotel room, watching an intersection. He’s waiting for his target to emerge from a different hotel. The plan is to shoot him. (Because – you know – ‘hit man’.)



Meanwhile, as he whiles away his days waiting for the call to alert him to the target, he’s watching a young woman in her apartment diagonally across the way. Nothing pervy here, it’s a view of her living room. She’s mostly just studying and dealing with an asshole boyfriend. When the boyfriend gets out of hand the Hitman must make a choice.

Now – as originally written, the Hitman never hears the dialog in the other apartment. Aside from her choice in classical music, no sounds really drift over to him.

But about a month ago, Chris asked me to work up some dialog for the characters to utilize in their interactions. I had never really given these characters much thought. I always saw the story from the Hitman’s point of view. He doesn’t know why the relationship has gone south, so why should we?

But as a writer, director and ACTOR , I can sympathize with the time constraints on shooting a short. And it would certainly be nice if these two actors already HAD some lines to improvise their physical business around. So yeah, I can do that.

I cooked up the character names Jackie and Nathan. I already knew what we had to ‘see’ happen in each of their inter actions – I just had to write the dialog to fit. Suddenly – an entirely NEW story popped into my head.

This is not unusual or really remarkable. Every character IN a story, has their own story. Tom Stoppard did a great take on this in his incredible absurdist play “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead “. He took two minor characters in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and retold the story from THEIR point of view.

So I found myself imagining how Jackie and Nathan met. What were their backstories? What had brought them together? And just why did their relationship go south? Finally, what events brought them to the climactic confrontation that required our Hitman’s intervention.

Pretty good fun, actually.

I sent the sides off to Chris, and didn’t hear a word back.

This is not unusual or really remarkable. The writer is kind of the red-headed step child of a production. It’s nothing personal.

When I got the head’s up in a text that they were shooting this weekend, I asked if the sides I sent were of any use.

“Fuck yeah.” He replied. “We used it for casting and we’re actually playing the windows open, so the dialogue can ‘travel’. It’ll be so low it might only be on a subconscious level, but your mind will put it together…”

“Good! I wanted the relationship to be ‘complicated’. Not a simple break up.” I replied.

“It’s never a simple break up…” he responded.

True that!

Sending good vibes out to the cast and crew of “One Shot” this weekend. Knock ’em dead kidz!




PALISADES The Deadliest Town in the West

A Civil War cavalry veteran reluctantly agrees to engage in a series of staged gunfights in a dying western town. The charade to bring in tourists turns deadly when the Army arrives, and our veteran tries to keep the Cavalry away from the Indians, and the handsome young officer away from the lovely young innkeeper

I recently finished my newest screenplay “PALISADES”. Or perhaps it’s “PALISADES: The Deadliest Town in the West”. I’m a bit conflicted over the title length. Apparently single word titles sell better, but I really like the descriptive version.

Sometimes an idea takes a long time to come to fruition. Such is the case with this script. I hit on the idea sometime back around 2003 or so. I read about this crazy town in the West that put on ‘fake gunfights’ – mostly as a way to fool the greenhorn tourists coming west. Just the local boys having fun at the travelers expense. But this town took it to a whole new level. Fake blood, bank robberies and Indian raids.

Things got so bad – allegedly – that the President had to send in the cavalry to quiet things down. The cavalry promptly joined in on the charade.

“How in the hell is this not a movie already?” I asked myself. So I decided to do some more research and work up a script.

Some sixteen years later, I finished it.

What kept me? Well this and that. It took some time to dig up more information. This was early days of the internet. (I’ve since gone on to find more about the town and the incidents in question.) Other, more pressing and ‘better’ ideas would take hold and push this notion to the back burner. Or hell, into the cupboard if I’m honest.

But if I’m honest – it’s because I know this is going to be a big (ish) budget film, and well… “It’s a WESTERN!” Everybody knows, nobody buys westerns. Except – yeah, occasionally they do.

Over the years of research, I took notes. I noticed where different versions of the tales conflicted,and where they overlapped. At one point, when I was travelling across the country to direct a show in Pennsylvania, I drove THROUGH Palisades. Or, what was left of it. Nothing really.

Around 2011 I took a stab at starting the script. I got about eleven pages written, then… stopped. The idea never left my mind, and beginning in December of 2018, I decided to work on a new limited location horror script I want to do. I sat down to write it, and that muse of the mind said… “NO! FINISH PALISADES!”

“But… it’s a WESTERN!”

FINISH PALISADES!”

“But it’s probably a big budget, it’s got a TRAIN in it!”

“FINISH PALISADES!”

“Well, if I can find my old notes, and the beginning of the first act I had on a different computer… maybe…”

And like that, I was off into the quirky little town in Nevada.

I did have some notes. Some ideas for what was going to happen. Some character sketches. A loose idea about how to finish it. Nothing really solid. I’m not the type to outline an entire script with ‘beats’ for every page and such. I like to let the story surprise me as it unfolds.

And boy, did it. Gone entirely is the idea of the local telegraph kid, replaced by a young Shoshone. A MUCH better choice. And the perfect ending I had planned some ten years earlier? Yeah, it disappeared as my two characters discussed how to solve the problem. They came up with a whole new solution.

Funny how that works.

I created the lead characters pretty much out of whole cloth. I invented the pretense for the charade. I built tension around a love triangle, and even tossed in the themes of redemption and tolerance.

And in the big showdown, as the hero rides into town in a cloud of dust, I was surprised by who he turned out to be. Sometimes, your sub-conscious hides things from you. Funny how THAT works too.

At any rate, it’s as ‘done’ as it needs to be. Yes of course, if it’s ever optioned someone will want changes. That’s one thing I’ve learned about the process. And yes, it’s a mid-range budget film. (It’s got a TRAIN in it!) There aren’t a lot of calls for Westerns from independent studios.

But when the muse calls, you answer.