The Underdog and the Process of Maturity

As far as writing habits go, I really, truly need a distraction free environment.  There is nothing worse than being on a train of thought and not being able to get the words onto the page quick enough… when the dog wants to go out, or the phone rings, or the guitar beckons me to come play, or the masses of internet porn come calling your name. 

If I could live in strict isolation, I would be churning out page upon page, day after day.  My novel would be finished.  My screenplay would be on it’s umpteenth draft.  My songwriting would grow and mature.  Although, isolation in itself can’t breed creativity.

It is true.  We write what we know.  There are very few stanzas of my writing that don’t stem from something in my life, at one point or another.  Whether it is the true to life situations that spawned my first film, The Other Half of Me, or the muse that is my cock that urged me to write my lost horror film, The Revenant.  Or, my simple love of movies, particularly those of Billy Wilder that brought me to write Two Days with Juliet.  I am speckled all through my writing.

I don’t know as if any of my films have a particular theme when you group them all together.  I suppose you could say that I favor the “little guy”.  I am absolutely an underdog writer.  Mikey, in the first.  Jacob in the second, Pete in the third, and The American in the fourth.  Even Milo in my un-produced 70s street racing movie. They are all essentially the same character.  The underdog.  Me.

I don’t think I intentionally took a different approach when writing the latest film.  There is no underdog character in this.  Every character is a hero with a past.  Every character is a hero in their own right.  To some degree, I guess you could say the underdog in this script is Momiji, as his small band of farmers take on the industrial corporations running the copper mines.  But he is not portrayed as an underdog.  Nor will he ever be.  Momiji is not me.  He is a man with a past.  A man focused and set on his goals.  He may be the antagonist in the film, but he’s not a bad guy per se.  He’s just firm in his beliefs.

Tadayoshi could be considered the underdog, but again, he isn’t portrayed as that.  he’s simlpy a man trying to climb his way out from getting in way over his head.

Shohei, Masato, Ishimaru, Ando, John Henry, Aimi… none of them underdogs.  All of them heroes in their own right.  Shohei is my Atticus Finch.  Masato is my Robert Duvall in any movie.  Ishimaru is my Sam Elliot.  John Henry is John Henry.  And Aimi is the flower.

And that makes up the ensemble of my script.  I know I have not written much about any of these characters.  Those who have read the script understand.  those who haven’t will have to wait until I can divulge more information.  Names may change.  Places may change.  So for now.  I can just look and spend a few minutes on analysis.  Analysis of why this script is so different than those I’ve written in the past.

This script is a growth.  It is a far step from all of my previous work. It is mature.  It is educated.  I’ve dabbled in this for a while… while my mature self contradicts my underdog self, which in some ways is probably why some of my ideas have come screeching to a halt.  My story, 20th Century Man, has never gotten past page thirty.  I get the first act out of the way and somehow the underdog has interfered and clouded the entire plot.  Perhaps, once this is all said and done, I can revisit the story and simply focus on the adult aspects of it.  Focus on Gabriel, Meiko and their relationship.  And simply spend more time with Argentieri.  I don’t know.  Maybe that’s the route.  Someday.  I’ll go back to it. 

There are other tasks at hand.  I have a very large project in front of me.  Bigger than anything I’ve ever tackled before.  Taking a story across the big blue, to a land I have limited knowledge of, with a language I do not speak.  It can be daunting.  It can be a little haunting.  But it won’t consume me.  I’ve stood up to equal tasks before.  I’m just taking it up a notch.  I shot Cold Winter on about a $500 budget and made World War Two believable.  I made it dramatic.  I made it cold. 

The things I did to accomplish that?  They aren’t much different than the things I need to do to accomplish this.  I’m through with independent movies.  It’s too time consuming and it’s to soul consuming.  I’m tired of having no one working with me.  I will have a staff that I can rely on.  I staff that has faith in my project.  A staff that when I ask them to read something, they will.  When I ask for input, they will put up their ideas and opinions.  Filmmaking is a collaborative process.  It can’t be done alone.  And I.  I have been doing it alone for too many years.

I’m sure you can tell.  I am just rambling and somewhat thinking out loud.  Sometimes my blogging can become stream of consciousness ranting on things that bubble inside me time after time.

All I know is, that the work I am doing now, is unlike anything I’ve ever done before.  It’s unlike many films that have come before it.  It has something fresh, while holding true to the principles of old fashioned storytelling.  The core of the movie itself is nothing new.  Then again, neither is Avatar.  Neither is Star Wars.  Keeping the base of human emotions at heart is what is important.  And as long as I have the vision… as long as I hold true to the dream… The world will finally see through my eyes. 

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