"Screenwriting For Micro-Budget Films" was recently ranked at #34 on bookauthority.org's list of The 100 Best Screenwriting Books of All-Time. It continues to sell well and get great reviews. I have given a couple workshops and been interviewed about it for a couple of podcasts.
The ups and downs of being a film producer just get "uppier" and "downier" every day - it is always something. That said, I am still onboard as one of the producers of Intimacy With Evil, a vampire film shooting this fall. Additionally, an older screenplay of mine has recently attracted some heat from big producers in India. I am punching it up right now and sending in a new draft. I turned in the first draft of Triple-A, a moving, inspiring true story set in the world of Little League baseball. I am about to start a new draft of Metronome, another true story set in the Philadelphia jazz scene of the 1990s. Finally, I am working on the final cut of a documentary, 22 Indictments, that I directeed.
"Screenwriting For Micro-Budget Films" was released on November 30th, has been selling well and getting good reviews! The feature I produced last spring "Seclusion" is still in post. I am getting ready to produce a currently untitled vampire movie in February and have another production coming up later this year. A short film that I co-wrote, "Out The Glass Window" is shooting in Alabama this spring. Two features "Shadowman" will be shooting in LA and "Traveler" is set to shoot in New Hampshire. "Metronome" a feature set in the world of jazz is in active development, hopefully shooting by the end of the year.
Well, there is nothing like a global pandemic to shift attention away from site updates. 2020 was rough for so many people on so many levels. In my world, I saw a lot of my friends in the production sector struggling. So, with that in mind, I sort of hate to say how busy I have been in 2020 and into 2021. I wrote five screenplays in the past year and half or so, most of them were true stories/biopics and several of them are in active development.
However, the big story is that I got a publishing deal and my book Screenwriting for Micro Budget Films will be released by Focal Press, a division of British publisher Routledge, in late 2021. Low budget films are a passion of mine and writing screenplays for them is my niche. I conducted interviews with a number of independent filmmakers ranging from the very well known Alex Ross Perry and Aaron Katz to emerging talent like Meosha Bean and, of course, my good friend Nigel Bach, star and creator of the beloved Bad Ben found footage horror franchise.
The other bit of news is that, after years of avoiding it because I didn't think I would be good at it, I produced a feature, Seclusion, with a couple of friends. We spent about ten days in the Pocono mountains and, even though it is still in post production, I think we have created a really solid romantic psychological thriller. The team is already contemplating our next production, which could start as soon as later this year.
As always, I am juggling various screenwriting projects but it seems like, more and more, I will be getting involved with the production element of these things, maybe even directing something.
I have been hired to adapt The 16 Minute Man, a memoir by one time boxing prodigy turned Celebrity Boxing promoter Damon Feldman. I describe my vision for the project as "Raging Bull" meets "Wolf of Wall St."
In June, I will travel Panama for two weeks and work on an adaptation of another memoir, Boomer War, about a Southern California golden boy, a surfer right out of a Beach Boys song, who has his eyes opened when he serves in Vietnam.
Don't look now but it sounds like I have just agreed to write a screenplay for the Hallmark Channel. Good times!
October 2018. My producing partner and I have received a Letter of Intent from actress Tara Reid. Pending financing, Reid will produce and star in my psychological thriller "Used To Love Her."
Fall 2018 UPDATE:
In late October, I attended the Austin Screenwriting Conference, earning an all-access Producer's Badge by reading and reviewing nearly 60 screenplays. I received a grant to cover travel and lodging from University of the Arts President's Fund For Excellence.
A tech/film start up specializing in VR and AR has asked me to join their team as Chief Content Officer. I will be in charge of sourcing and developing feature film and new media projects.
"Closure," a short film co-written by me was produced in September and recently submitted to the Slamdance Shorts Program.
Since appearing in the third installment of indie filmmaker Nigel Bach's cult hit "Bad Ben" series last year, I have continued to serve as a consultant to him on the next two films.
November 2017 UPDATE: Stomping Ground continues to perform well on Amazon Prime, streaming consistently in the U.S., U.K. and Germany. One Five Star review said:
I was totally riveted during the entire hour+ of the movie, and it's amazing how it could all be done on a shoestring budget. The setting never changes, but wow, things really escalate and change radically from the beginning to the end. Very intense and captivating, with the same sort of feel as "Locke" with Tom Hardy, but with a much different theme. In this case, four boyhood friends are thrust into a predicament that will lead them on a personal journey that will test their bonds of friendship and change them forever. Could very well become a cult classic!
Writing projects continue to flood in. The nightmarish personal journey through a war zone, "Surfing In Afghanistan", my long in the works collaboration with writer-director RT Herwig ("St. Christopher") is finally up and out there, generating interest from producers in NYC and L.A.
I collaborated with noted mystery author Jon McGoran ("Spliced") on a thriller screenplay, "Grim Reality," that is making the rounds in L.A. and NYC.
The wonderful Greater Philadelphia Film Office recommended me to not one, but two, producers looking for a screenwriter. I collaborated with actor Dave Shaver (CNN's upcoming "The Pope") on a pilot and second episode of his show "Ready For Departure," which I describe as "The Love Boat" meets "Twilight Zone" on a plane. Another Philly producer hired me to re-write three of his screenplays.
Tigre Hill's "American Zealot" bio-pic of controversial 1960s Civil Rights activist Cecil B. Moore, one of the best screenplays I've read in years, continues to brew as financing starts to come together with me in some kind of producing role. UPDATE: This project has gone through many ups and downs. While I made significant contributions to the project - such as taking an unformatted, incoherent screenplay and reformating to industry standards as well as doing some story-editing. I am no longer attached to project but wish the producers well.
The biggest news might be the return to my first love, acting. I had a co-starring role in up-and-coming horror-comedy icon Nigel Bach's "Badder Ben," the final chapter in his wildly successful "Bad Ben"trilogy. It was a blast to work on and, if I listen carefully, it sounds like there might be a role in one of his next projects.
If 2018 is going to be even better than 2017, I say Bring It On.
November 2016 UPDATE: Stomping Ground is finished and available on Amazon now! The film played some festivals but it seems like the theatrical release/distribution model is becoming more and more outdated so going straight to Amazon and reaching a much bigger audience feels like a good move. It has been quite a ride and while the Stomping Ground era is in the final chapters, there is lot more going on in the story of this filmmaker. Here is the link to Stomping Ground on Amazon. If you like and have something nice to say, I'd appreciate a positive review. On to the next project or two -- a couple of films and my "Luncheonette" TV project.
Stomping Ground is cut, picture is locked. It's a lean, mean movie -- just how I like them. Ten years after writing it, two years after shooting it and many screenings of the work-in-progress later, the film still grabs me, moves me and keeps me on the edge of my seat ---- and it's not like I don't know what's going to happen!
Color-correction, sound, songs and score are now in the hands of some talented professionals who will work their magic and take the film to a whole new level by the end of the month, at last! A well-known distributor has taken a keen interest in the film and a deal for domestic streaming, European and Asian TV seems like it is brewing.
My TV project "Not Your Mother's Luncheonette," a comedy-drama set in Philly is progressing well. I am currently working on a new draft of the pilot and the plan is to have it ready by spring and show it to connections at Amazon, Netflix and elsewhere in L.A.
Angus, a screenplay I was commissioned to write in 2009, has had its ups and downs but, after completing a new draft earlier this month, it is being shown around to industry insiders for feedback ahead of a financing campaign. The director and producers have partnered with the Greater Philadelphia Film Office as one of the few projects they take on as financial sponsors.
Finally, despite years of resisting any kind of producing role on a film, I have enthusiatically joined the team of acclaimed documentary filmmaker Tigre Hill's narrative feature debut, "American Zealot" as a consulting producer simply because it is the best screenplay I have read in years and I am honored to help bring this bold vision to the screen.
While I am closely monitoring the post-production of Stomping Ground, I am keeping busy with several new and continuing screenplay projects, some of which have been getting some attention in L.A. -- more news as it develops. Next up, however, of all things, seems to be a pitch for TV talk show on a major network. Other TV projects are brewing.
Of course, I am teaching several screenwriting courses, something that gives me genuine fulfilment -- nuturing and inspiring the filmmakers of tomorrow.
This year, I was honored to serve as a judge on the Project 21 film competetion, named one of the best filmmaking competitions in the country by MovieMaker Magazine.
Once again, The Greater Philadelphia Film Office asked me to serve as a panelist and judge at their annual PitchPhilly event where aspiring filmmakers pitch their best idea for a movie. From a field of almost 40 pitchers, 10 were selected to be mentored by myself and two other panelists. After two weeks of hardcore guidance, the selected finalists present their refinded pitches to another panel made up of Hollywood producers, writers and directors.
What else? In late 2013, I was selected to judge an exciting new short film competition, Short Wars (shortwars.org) where screenwriters from around the world submitted screenplays with the hope of getting it produced. I picked a screenplay by a college student in Florida and, in August, I directed the film, "140 Characters Or Less", which will premeire at a festival in late October.
Is that it? Don't quote me on this one but it seems increasingly likely that I will soon be doing a major re-write on a screenplay that's been in development at a major studio for years.
Stomping Ground is in the can! The long from-Philly-to-Hollywood-and-back journey to shoot my screenplay once called Aftermath ended on Labor Day weekend. From the initial production meeting with Truly Brave Films on July 1 to the final shot of a two-day shoot on September 1, the experience was intense, exhilarating and deeply satisfying.
A cast of six brilliant actors rehearsed intensively for the month of August before hitting our location with an amazing 25 person crew and shooting the entire feature length film in a total of about 24 hours. Post-production will continue into Fall and then we anticipate a high profile festival run before settling on distribution.
Summer 2013 News:
Things have been busy!
-Re-writing and directing the narration on a documentary, Journey Into The Holocaust
-Writing the feature film The Prison, which will shoot later this year
-Starting work on a short narrative film based on the amazing true story of a Holocaust survivor's experience in a camp
-Acting the film Sadie, Baby
-Serving as a consultant on the set of a new web-series, Dr. Shroud, Vampire Hunter
-Signing on to write a baseball screenplay with a science-fiction twist in the fall
-Introducing my movie review website, False Climax, which will also link to my blog of the same name
BUT, the big story is that, at long last, I am embarking on the production of my long brewing feature film, Stomping Ground (formerly Aftermath), planning shoot the film over the course of Labor Day weekend. A Kickstarter campaign should be up and running at this point.