To Live and Write in LA

Archive for January, 2013

Stand Up Guys

(First published on When you have a great screenplay, the talent shows up. Screenwriter Noah Haidle has crafted a story that is sure to become a classic. Stand Up Guys stars Academy Award winners Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin in an action-comedy about senior citizen gangsters reunited after one of them spent 28 years in prison. Val (Al Pacino) is […]

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

(First published on Everyone agrees this is a failure of a movie. Spoilers (if it were possible to spoil this movie any more than it already is) follow. As writers and filmmakers, what lessons can we learn? Plot problems: The plot follows the formula “Hotshot FBI Agents come into town and bump heads with […]

The Independent Spirit Awards: Real Reel People

(First published on A lot goes into creating the “willing suspension of disbelief” needed for an audience to become immersed in a film and experience it — laughter, tears, fear — as “real.” The most important factor? The characters must be believable. In reviewing films to vote for in Film Independent’s Independent Spirit Awards, I watched […]

‘Emperor’ – The War After the War

(First published on Hey, screenwriters and filmmakers, here’s a challenge for you. Make a movie about WWII, but with no battles. Make it a mystery, but assume the audience knows how it turns out. Make it a love story, but tell it completely in flashbacks. Make it a film about soldiers, but no gutsy infantryman […]

The Making of ‘Effigy’

(First published on Opening e-mail is usually pretty uneventful, but that day in August was different. I saw an ad for the “The 2nd Annual Debra Hill Fellowship presents Producers Guild Weekend Shorts Contest”. Heck of a long name for a shorts contest. I’d heard of competitions like this before and they intrigued me. The goal […]

DocU: The Intersection of Documentary and Journalism

(First published on Are you a filmmaker or a journalist? If the script you’re working on is titled Zombie Princesses vs. Sharkzilla, this is probably not an issue. But if you are using your filmmaking skills to document the reality of social issues such as unjust imprisonment or the AIDS epidemic, you’d better put on your […]

John Dies at the End – Maybe

(First published on This is not your grandfather’s soy sauce. The Soy Sauce in John Dies at the End is a street drug that promises an out-of-body experience with each hit. These experiences are so out of body, that some users who come back are no longer human. Their bodies become the vehicles for an alien invasion […]

Reviewing El Cid’s Monthly Short Film Night

(First published on You’ve made your short film to show your mastery of story, directing, and editing. Now what? One of the venues open to new LA filmmakers to strut their shorts happens monthly at the El Cid Restaurant (4212 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90029), in the historic artist neighborhood of Silverlake. The […]

An exploration of film and filmmaking