Last week, a close friend was thinking of having a small birthday party. For the past couple of months, he was the First AD on "Alias," the canceled TV show starring Jennifer Gardner.
About a year before he worked on the show, we were watching a few episodes and noticed how fast the action moves from scene to scene. For instance, if she needs to go from the U.S. to Russia, they will do it in a matter of 2 scenes, with an action sequence taking place on the plane. No need to waste time on boarding and getting off the plane. Just put her on, have some action, then she's in Russia.
Anyway, he said the show was one of his most difficult, but it certainly paid the bills. He went to a wrap party and, of course, Ben Affleck was there to meet and greet the crew.
So last week, we went to this restaurant in Pasadena called Bar Celona. It's actually a combination of 3 restaurants, but it's new and the decor and ambience are pretty well done. We know one of the bartenders and met the manager. So, with a little encouragement, I got my friend to agree to spending his birthday at Bar Celona.
On Wednesday or Thursday, we started sending emails out, and by Friday, got a small group of about 20 for dinner. But of course, once dinner started happening, about 20 more showed up and we had ourselves a little party going on.
One of the guests was an old acquaintance of mine named Eric Byler. He directed Charlotte Sometimes, which I used to be a producer of when it was still called Better Than Sex. We got into talking and he said he had quoted me in a couple of interviews. It was something about writing characteristics, not based on what you desire in yourself, but ones which you wish were not true. This would always have to pass the litmus test of self-honesty, thus making for a more interesting story. He said I told him to write 10 of the worst things about himself that he wished were not true, then base a character on these things.
Anyway, he told the small group we were chatting with that my little bit of writing advice changed his whole career as a storyteller and filmmaker. That's a pretty major statement. When I mentioned that I had read his interview on the Internet, he apologized. I guess he wanted this ackowledgment to be more special to me. It was still special. Anytime someone quotes you and says you changed their whole career is pretty damn special.
This weekend, I may be going to a Lodestone play called The Golden Hour, written by Philip Chung. Eric said he thinks Philip's writing changed also, after they got into discussing my little advice.
I've written a couple of novellas and showed them around to people. They all would say things like: "You got played!", "You know, this is a lot like you!", "You don't know how much you are this character." And so on and so forth.
The stupid thing is, I know that I'm writing from my own experience, but exaggerating it to the point where it hurts to be this character. But people don't understand how a writer would want to paint themselves to look so bad. Truthfully, I don't like doing that, but it's the only way I know how to write. And as the saying goes, when it bleeds, it succeeds.
Fortunately, I have a lot of things to be embarrassed and shameful about, so there's a lot of material left in my repertoire.