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Thursday
May012014

"HEY, I WANNA GET BETTER"- Bleachers

“So now I’m standing on the overpass screaming at the cars ‘HEY, I WANNA GET BETTER’”
-Bleachers

My next (hopeful) feature film’s screenplay is complete.

Finally.

This thing is called “GREEN VALLEY CIRCLE”, and we had a ton of attention on it when I handed it over to Hollywood.

About 3 years ago.

Please allow to me explain. I had this idea, and my idea and my plan, was to not over do it. To make a wonderful little short film out of it. I was inspired by what Luke Matheny had done with his film “God of Love”. It was this wonderful little flick, it moved, it’s pacing was perfect, it was funny, had a great ending, it didn’t overstay it’s welcome. It was 20-25 minutes and that was it. Oh, he also won some little award for it, what was it called? Jelly of month club? Nah that’s not it. BJ’s “shopper of the month”? NO not that one either, I think it was called the Academy Award. So Luke’s tale is that simple, tell your story, if its 2 hours great, if it’s 20 minutes, that’s great too, and I agree, I love short films, I’ll watch short films, and yes, if you or your friends have one, I’ll watch that too. When I’m at film festivals, I love seeing them, I make a point to see them. So when I wrote GREEN VALLEY CIRCLE, here it is, it’s a solid idea, a funny idea, 25 pages BOOM, let’s get it going.

Then the tires screeched.

I’d handed off GVC (under it’s different name) to a few folks, all reactions were wonderful and gave me the warm and fuzzies. I got this thing off to Los Angeles, and I have a few opinions I care about out there, and one came back. “Love it, but 25 minutes of film? Who’s going to watch this, if you want grandmas and the masses to enjoy your idea, it better be a full length feature film”. That sentiment was echoed by a few fancy Hollywood agents too. Ok. No problem. It’s 25 pages. I just need to make it longer. So I did just that, in the last 18 months, I’d picked up sporadically (I’d been working on some other projects, keeping me from firing up the old laptop as much as I’d like/need to) and I just fattened it up. See where I wrote that joke on page 8? KABLAM NOW THERE ARE 2 JOKES ON PAGE 8.

Shame on me for taking this approach. I’d been in love with the 25 pager, and now I had to fatten it up and I was just throwing a little here, throwing a little there, just adding around a 25 page structure. I wasn’t happy with it. Why? Because 25 pages was a sprint. 100+pages is a marathon, I was trying to make a sprint a marathon length. I needed to get past my own ego (we all have ‘em friends and most times they get you into more trouble than not) throw out my fattened sprint version, blow it up, start from scratch. It hurt. I knew my 25 pager was nice, as I stood there watching it blow up. Time to be better than that.

Page 1. A blank page 1. No magic here yet. No 25 page crutch, just an evil white blank page staring back at me. First draft time again. Any first draft hurts. The key is biting your lip, holding your nose, and just get that story down. Plenty of time to re write and reshape, just get those words down. "Stop feeling sorry for yourself, Carr, just get those words down." I fired up a playlist of songs (listed above) that felt like “Green Valley Circle” for me and just started hammering it out. Write when you’re at your smartest, for me, I’m a morning guy, 6am-2pm is my prime idea time, after that I revert back to being my drooling-borderline- incoherent-babbling normal self. I took advantage when things were quiet, I took advantage of turning up that playlist loudly and little by little, this piece stopped being a 25 page idea, I changed the pacing, the structure, added some, took away some, and little by little, this story became bigger, a nice sweet feature length film, something I’m excited about, maybe even more excited than the 25 pager from 3 years ago that was getting calls and emails returned from Hollywood (you know your project is decent when you get return emails and calls, LA doesn’t normally do that unless your Tom Hanks and seriously, who wouldn’t return an email from Tom Hanks, that would be just a jerk move IT’S TOM HANKS)

So now I look at this stack of 90 plus pieces of paper. This is in the “pie cooling” phase. You leave it alone for a couple days, pick it up, take a bit, see how it tastes, what does it need? Does that need to be re written? Should that part go in? should that line be funnier? We’re getting close. Taking the time with it, then in the next couple of weeks, this thing goes out. I’ve already done my homework and got many actors aboard with the 25 page version, now we’ll need to catch a few more big fish, and then we’ll hopefully be ready to go. How does this thing get across the finish line? I don’t know. Worst case? We can still shoot this thing on no budget, but I think finally, the right people in LA are getting what they wanted from GREEN VALLEY CIRCLE, and after blowing the whole thing up and starting from scratch, I’m finally able to get what I want from this thing too.

Now that thing is close to LA bound…going right on to the next thing, strike while it’s hot, keep that momentum going my 3rd TV pilot in some sort of production phase this year, I get to write this one too, so it looks like I better go fire up the old lap top again, it feels like 2014 is just really getting going now.

Good luck with everything you all, hope this whole drooling-borderline- incoherent-babbling story encouraged you to go fire up a project or something that may have been sitting for a bit, pick it up, take a look at it. Maybe blow it up. Have some fun with it. See where it all goes...

Take care and be good,
Tim

Monday
Mar102014

"WHAT'S THE FREQUENCY, KENNETH?"

So I found this the other day. My parking pass for “THE SIXTH SENSE” OH YEAH CARR WAS IN THIS HUGE HUGE BLOCKBUSTER….and, well I SORT of was… I hit that cutting room with a thunderous THUD. This was a year where I felt really successful because I think I booked like 5 films, 3 indies and 2 studio pictures…so I had all this buzz for about 4 minutes until I was cut out of both studio flicks and all 3 indies never came out and that buzz went away quicker than you could say “has been”. But like anything and anywhere, sometimes those are the breaks, it’s like Paul Westerberg from The Replacements once said “You might, you might not, but unless you try? You’ll never f—kin know.”

Wait.

There’s absolutely no way I can’t end my “The Sixth Sense” story like that.

When I was on set of this film, I was on set with the good Kenny James. Kenny you’ll also see in the other image. Yes we were in this STRUCTURE thing before Structure went away (yes I am well aware we may have been the ones to ruin that, sorry). Anyway, Kenny was something special, in the way where he got away with everything, by just acting like it’s what he SHOULD be doing. You know the phrase “act like you’ve been there before”? That’s Kenny to a tee. “The Sixth Sense” was this huge production with Disney money and had these great sets, shut down city streets for locations, and security was everywhere. Me just starting around this time, I followed all the rules, sat where I had to sit, stood where I needed to stand. Not Kenny, somehow Kenny acted like he was big time, and was treated as big time, for like 2 weeks, the guy was having lunch with Bruce Willis, just talking about Kenny things, scoring the fancy lunches, the later call times. How? Because he just sort of walked in with the production crew and they’d be like “are you supposed to be here?” and Kenny in cool Kenny talk would just say “yep” and the world was in his hands (well at least until his stuff ended up on the cutting room floor with me). I’m not sure where Kenny is right now, but I hope he’s somehow in Hollywood or just hanging out at the White House or something very cool and Kenny like.

So what should we all learn from Kenny? Maybe the same thing we learned from Paul Westerberg of The Replacements “You might, you might not, but unless you try? You’ll never f—kin know.”

If you want it, go for it, and who knows? You may eat lunch with Bruce Willis.

Take care and be good,
Tim

Tuesday
Feb042014

"I'm always home. I'm uncool."

Phillip Seymour Hoffman, for me, always felt like a guy who’d always been there. I’m not sure if he had ever had that “BOOM: I’M HERE!” type of introduction to an audience that maybe Jennifer Lawrence, Ryan Gosling or Edward Norton had when they first appeared on screen. I think I may have seen him while watching one of my favorites, Paul Newman in NOBODY’S FOOL. All I remembered is “that cop that got punched is really good in this role” I remember looking at him, in scenes with Paul Newman, which, normally, when Paul Newman is doing Paul Newman-y things, all eyes are on him. Then I think we had a more of a grand introduction to him later in BOOGIE NIGHTS, which, any way you look at it, is a film with such a deep bench, everyone in that film have been huge scene stealers in other films, Don Cheadle, William H Macy, Julianne Moore, John C Reilly, I mean this cast goes on for days. What stood out to me in Boogie Nights (aside from those roller skates) is that uncomfortably heartbreaking scene where Phillip Seymour Hoffman, as Scotty J, put his heart on his sleeve to Marky…er MARK Wahlberg and ends up crying in his car, “I’m a f—kin idiot, I’m a f—kin idiot”. In a wonderful film filled with scene stealers… it’s that scene that I remember. We’ve all been there, we’ve all put our heart out there only to end up having it broken. For one moment, here was a character we could identify with. That’s what, after losing Phillip Seymour Hoffman just a few days ago, that I’ll chose to remember. The way he’d create these characters. He made them human, even his “bad guy” roles, they were never “I will take over the world MUH HAHAHAHAHAHAH” they always had some loneliness, anger or humanity to them. He was a great storyteller. He was a real treat to watch perform. That’s what I’ll miss.

When I started out in this business, I bumbled around aimlessly in New York, from audition to audition, the people taking a chance on me for TV and film were few and far between, so the majority of my New York City days were for commercials, and I was doing pretty badly at them. It may have been something like 18 months of just failing, daily, showing up at these amazing casting places, with all these actors I’d seen in other commercials and soap operas, and when it gets desperate you start to get into that mindset “man I NEED to book this BOB’S BIG BOY commercial I WILL DO ANYTHING TO BOOK THIS BOB’S BIG BOY COMMERCIAL” among all of that endless failing, desperation and being broke (seriously friends, if that McDonalds’ DOLLAR MENU didn’t exist, I would have never eaten). Among all of these fancy studios and waiting rooms, there was one common thing. These amazing theater posters. In LA they have these rooms, but they’re all like autographed “DEAR JOHN, YOURE THE BEST. YOUR BUDDY, TOM CRUISE” pictures and movie posters. What makes New York special is all these playbills, these theater posters, and it felt like, on all these walls in all of these studios where I was continuously failing in, there was always that familiar face. “Hey there’s that guy from BOOGIE NIGHTS again, I didn’t realize he did THIS much Broadway” that almost became a routine for me in those very lean days “Show up, sign in, get my lines, wait, look for theater poster of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, suck at audition by not saying “SHOP AT SHOPRITE!” well/cute enough, dig dollar out of pocket, go to McDonald’s”. It was around that time, looking at these posters where I thought to myself “look, Martin Scorcese isn’t calling, the BOBS BIG BOY people aren’t calling, NO ONE is calling, these theater posters look great, I’m going to go do a play and at least try and look cool on a poster”. The next few weeks, I wrote 2 stage plays one called “the Wrong Fortune Cookie” another called “100 Kings”. These happened because of those Phillip Seymour Hoffman posters…those amazing looking Broadway playbills and posters these casting directors put on the walls. “The Wrong Fortune Cookie” never made it to stage, however it became the first film I ever directed, and “100 Kings” was about 100 struggling Elvis impersonators. Believe it or not, that one never became anything.

Over the years, when in New York, I still do that, I look at all the posters, I look at the actors, I see what they’re doing. I get inspired by all of that, that work, the way where someone, like Phillip Seymour Hoffman, no matter how famous or rich that they got, no matter how many Academy Award Nominations they got, there he was, off broadway, fine tuning his craft in some little stage play or show. His presence on those walls, it encouraged me to always keep my head up, to never get comfortable with my own successes, to always keep fine tuning and working on this craft. It was always a nice reassurance to know, no matter where I was in the city, there were always these posters looking down at me, just encouraging me to go do the best I can, and maybe if I worked hard enough and did well enough, I’d get to be up there on that wall with them.

So with all the tributes, with all articles and whatever articles about whatever demons PSH may have been facing, I’m sure we’ll all remember him in different ways for different things. I’ll just remember him as a friendly face on the walls during those really tough days. He’ll be missed. But those films, those performances and those theater posters, they’ll be around encouraging us, inspiring us and entertaining us for a long long time.

Thursday
Jan302014

TIM REVIEWS BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN'S "HIGH HOPES"


I wrote a review for the new Bruce Springsteen record HIGH HOPES for SPIN MAGAZINE. Turns out Spin Magazine is no more. I should have realized something was up when the email came from TimItsSpinMagazineHaHaHaIdiot@Hotmail.com

I love Bruce. Always have. One of my first tapes when I was very very young was BORN IN THE USA which ruined me for a while because I thought EVERY tape I’d get would have like 10 hits on it and all amazing songs (I quickly realized this wasn’t the case when I got Debbie Gibson’s “Out of The Blue” HEY STOP MAKING FUN OF ME THEY CAN’T ALL BE WINNERS) and when I was like 22 I was having a rough 6 months where I wasn’t winning much at life and lived in a weird little place in Delaware called LITTLE HEAVEN, and I played Bruce’s “THE RIVER” over and over, it just was the right music for the right time…and let me tell you if that’s “little heaven”, I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints, the sinners have much more fun (My Uncle Billy said that)

So anyway I have this review of “HIGH HOPES” and heard that some weren’t really feeling the new Bruce record, I know the feeling, and Bruce puts a new one out every 3 weeks or so, so it’s really easy to write one off (I never connect with the HAPPY Bruce records, I like my Bruce records to be about dirt and gas pumping and working on highways). However, High Hopes is sneaky sneaky good little record. From one Bruce-head to all current and future Bruce-heads, here’s me doing my due diligence.

“HIGH HOPES”. Ok title track, it’s a throwaway song. I wanted to like this one, it’s not very fun or has any real flavor to it, feels like we’ve heard Bruce do this one already. Then there’s “ HARRY’S PLACE”, you know Bruce is good when 35 years after a song called “Mary’s Place” he does “Harry’s Place” (Just looked it up, “Mary’s Place” wasn’t 35 years ago, it was in 2003. Bruce songs are like our children, we have no idea how many there are and we certainly don’t know how old they all are, AM I RIGHT? Wait, what) however, the quality dropped significantly on “Harry’s Place”, the only take away from this one is that Bruce likely still has and wears all his clothes from the 80’s and probably still wears that red cap from the BORN IN THE USA cover. At this rate though, I expect “Larry’s Place” on the next record and hopefully “Gary’s Place” sometime in 2022. Other than that reassurance, toss this one too.

Ok, so with those 2 in the trash bin. Your copy of HIGH HOPES now kicks off with “41 SHOTS”. I heard this a million times on bootlegs, heard the folker version and now we have this version, and chills every time. What a stunning recap of that poor guy in NYC who got shot 41 times by the cops who was only holding his wallet. Bruce really brought this to light. I get 100% of my news from Springsteen songs, (speaking of which, do you guys know people DANCE IN THE DARK with cast members from FRIENDS?)

Then we go right into “JUST LIKE FIRE “ and here we go, just vintage perfect perfect E Street. All Bruce fans do all sorts of air kicks when Bruce is killing it, Bruce kills it here, I air kicked like 5 times and THEN halfway through, the song hits us with that trumpet? I loved that song already, but by the trumpet I got so happy I flipped my kitchen table. I need to clean this mess up.

“DOWN IN THE HOLE”,this one feels and sounds like a sequel to “I’m On Fire” from BORN IN THE USA and I just realized that record came out like 30 years ago. I’m decrepid.

“HEAVEN’S WALL”, ok, if you’re not feeling this one, I understand. Every single middle aged white man at that age, needs to go jam with soul singers. Paul Simon does it, Peter Gabriel does it, Sting has been doing it for 406 years. Not just singers, middle aged white mailmen invite soul singers on their mail deliveries too, middle aged white guy bartenders serve you drinks while soul singers are back behind the bar with him. It’s an old white guy thing. Bruce does it here, and there’s enough hooks and things in this song to keep it interesting for me, but I can’t really say anything to change your mind and if you’re not digging this one, totally understand.

“FRANKIE FELL IN LOVE” vintage Bruce, “vintage” in the way where he slurs some of the lyrics (example I’ve heard BADLANDS a million times, but when I’m singing it I have NO IDEA what Bruce says after BADLANDS! I think it’s” hurrr hurr ha hurrrrrrr” I just pick the song up again right around ‘it’s the price you gotta pay”) anyway with Bruce slurring through this one, I swore he was saying “REGGAE, PHILLY AND LOVE” and I was thrilled, those are 3 things I’m very fond of. This one is a winner (seriously, it sounds like he is saying REGGAE PHILLY AND LOVE).

“THIS IS YOUR SWORD” Bruce added a new weapon in his arsenal in the last couple years, going Irish flavored Guinness soaked Celtic foot stompers on us, and this is where he’s using some of that new footwork, great song, great writing, this is a turning point on the record, it gets really interesting from here…because “HUNTER OF THE INVISIBLE GAME” is hidden deep on this record but Bruce’s writing game is in tip top form “Strength is vanity and time is illusion” Bruce snuck one by me here, stuck possibly the best written song on here and yet so deeply into this record. Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen, you sneaky little devil, you.

Then we have “GHOST OF TOM JOAD”. Bruce did this one already as a folker, then Rage Against The Machine did their ragey cover of it and it all comes together like chocolate and peanut butter here in this arena rocker. Tom Morello from Rage doing guitar and trading vocals on this one. It’s heavy, another one, where I get it, but understand if many prefer the dark acoustic Bruce version, and some love the heavy Rage version..and I love this blissful Peanut Butter Cup of a song where they mix up the two.

“THE WALL” wow just wow, a love song to a fallen soldier at the Viet Nam memorial, “cigarettes and a bottle of beer, skin on the black stone”. Another one Bruce tried to sneak by us, what a heavy thoughtful song, one where I stopped everything that I was doing to listen to this one again. I’m glad he cheers us up with “DREAM BABY DREAM”, just designed-for-the-arena Bruce, after playing his first 6 hours into his live show, he slows it down for everyone to hold up a lighter and groove out to before he plays for us for another 6 hours.

Love this record. Without the first 2 tracks and how you feel about “Tom Joad” and “Heavens Wall” this is pound for pound a really solid Bruce effort.

I give it 3.5 pairs of Bruce jeans out of a possible 5


Sunday
Jan192014

BROADWAY 

Not a bad date night, went out for drinks, but ended up joining The Goo Goo Dolls instead. This is the cover of our next record. Sing it loud and proud with me " LALALA WELL I DON'T WANT THE WORLD TO SEEEE ME, BECAUSE I DOOON'T THINK THAT THEY'D UNDERSTAAAAAAAND..."

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