A pressing situation – Larry King

June 21st, 2010
by mary

I would like to invite you to Come visit my CafePress store!

Tonight, Larry King is doing a 2 hour special: Disaster in the Gulf: How You Can Help.   Here is my contribution.  I have set up a ‘store’ at CafePress.  This design was created specifically for The Nature Conservancy.  100% of my profits from the sale of this design will be donated to the Nature Conservancy for the restoration of the Gulf.

Yes, I do use gas in my Rav4.  But I don’t squander it – it would be hypocritical of me if I did.  I feel we have a stewardship to the Earth and should keep our individual impact to the environment to a minimum.  I’m a proponent of “Work where you live.  Live where you work.”  as it keeps fuel consumption for work at a minimum.

Nature Conservancy T shirts

I must tell you my heart sinks a little bit more with every drop of oil that spills into the Gulf. 

 I have sent an email to Mr. King with my offer let’s hope he makes this offer public for me! 

My shop is the White Helmet.

I have other pieces in my shop too!

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My ‘novel’ idea

June 19th, 2010
by mary

As I said, the purpose of this blog is to put my work as a writer out to the public in the hopes of selling my first screenplay. Since the traditional approaches have been slow to bear  fruit I’ve decided to go with more novel approaches to selling the script.  But that reminds me that I have another novel idea – a novel.  My novel involves the life of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley to a small degree. Mary’s life is not the subject nor the driving force of the novel just a component – as such – the prologue to the novel is a scene of her in the cemetery where her mother is buried.   I also included the beginning of chapter 1.  This character/element is more the “meat” of the story – the story of Chula a young pregnant archaeologist. 

 While I love my screenplays - this novel is my “prodgeny”.  Besides, I’m not opposed to getting a book deal first!  I hope you enjoy. 

——————————————————————————————————————————————
DRINK OF A FULL CUP

by Mary Godwin

Prologue

We are all continuously improving and changing in our own
way, in our own time, based on our life experiences.
Perfection is achieved………….after the fact.
In the legacy we leave behind or not.
author-Unknown

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley slightly lifted her long black skirt and sank to her knees in front of the monument. The grounds at St. Pancras churchyard were sodden from the previous night’s storm and the first hints of autumn were evident in the unseasonably cool of the early August air. The sun rose over an hour ago, if you could call it “sun”. Through the bleakness of the grey sky it could do nothing to temper the briskness in the air and even less to dissuade the beads of dew hanging heavy on the grass to let go their perch.

She loved early morning walks for those normally glistening beads brought to life in the waking sun. She had always imagined the ones trapped in a spider’s web to be a jewel necklace. A necklace never to be worn by a mere mortal. Mortals, of course, lack the steadiness of hand to even pluck it from display – but, in Mary’s view, they also lacked the worthiness to wear such a treasure. These walks, taken to clear her thoughts and settle her restless spirit, were usually found to be a comfort to Mary. Not today. Today was simply grey and matte and wet. Wet with the night’s storm, wet with the morning dew, and wet with the tears now streaming down Mary’s cheeks.

The water of the ground soon permeated the cotton fabric. She allowed herself to take a moment, just a moment, to mentally describe the feeling created by the cold water as it soaked through to her skin. The skin would begin to feel cold – lifeless – or almost lifeless. The way it feels with the attempts of revitalization of a baby after a traumatic birth – still wet with amniotic fluid. And cold - as there was no circulation of corpuscles bringing warmth from within to the outmost of the body. Her body shivered at that particular thought.  It came from her own life experience and always chilled her steadiness – the one trait she had admired the most of herself.

Mary delights in seeing, tasting … feeling. She would then challenge herself to place that into words. Sometimes this exercise would touch upon the core of her pain, as it just had, but she embraced it for what it was instead of trying to deny she ever had feelings of pain and sorrow. Doctors have to lay hands on the very thing that hurts for good to come of it and she felt the same of the pain in her mind and heart – she had to lay words on the very thing causing her pain. Her mother had been a writer too – she knew her mother would understand this ritual.

Realizing she could forever continue in these thoughts she distracted herself by mentally calculating the placement of the resulting water and mud spots on her garment and realized they would fall somewhere mid shin upon standing.

As, today, it was another ritual Mary had come to her mother’s graveside to perform. A ritual taught to her from infancy. She remembered the gentle hand of William Godwin holding her chubby fingers – guiding their liturgical movements. It was how she had learned to both read and write her very own name. The name she shared with her mother. Mother had died just days after Mary’s birth. Just days? Why would I think of it in such vague terms? 10 – 10 days it was – this was the cruel limit placed on our time together. How many times had mother been able to hold me? Had mother even been able to suckle me before the ravages of puerperal fever ripped her from this world?

Her eyes went from looking down to the ever widening circle of water on her skirt to the monument before her. It had been a fixture of Mary’s life and she found it comforting to be here, she always had. The marble was a pedestal, almost cube shaped, only slightly taller than it was wide. It was capped on top which gave it the impression of a squat table. Percy Shelley had made note of that very thing the day he proposed to her. It was here, on this sacrosanct place, that Percy Shelly had professed his undying love to her. Un-dying? He did so by saying it was time he “laid all his cards on the table” as he leaned over the stone. Mary had always felt it more resembled an alter but never questioned Percy’s choice of words. Never. They asked her mother’s blessings and each leaned across this alter of their love in a kiss. As these memories and thoughts flooded her mind she raised a trembling hand to the stone’s cold surface then steadied her finger as began to trace the letters of her mother’s name in the grave stone.

M-A-R-Y W-O-L-L-S-T-O-N-E-C-R-A-F-T

Throughout her life, father brought Mary here to her mother’s side. Just a continuation, she thought, of how things had begun. He had been the one to place her alongside her mother the first time after her birth. Mother had retained the placenta and Mary’s first six hours were spent fretting in the arms of father as mother was attended and the gruesome extraction was attempted with unspeakable implements and, when that failed, the resorting to who had the longest fingers and the smallest hands.

There were times they would come here that she could tell her father wished nothing more than to be able to speak to her – or perhaps to just hold her once again and brush his lips into her hair in gentle kisses. As the words formed in her mind Mary considered the entendre’ of whether it was mother or she who father wished to speak – kiss. Father loved her, this she knew. She had always sensed he wanted more of a family bond but lacked what it took inside to make it so. She always felt that ability in him had died with her mother and she had long since come to accept him and his cold analytical thinking. But this had never sufficed for, or even mitigated, the love Mary so fervently desired.

Mary wondered what life would have been had mother lived. She always imagined living in the equilibrium that would form as they each would allow themselves to be dependent upon the other – dependent, yet equally respected, and then equally self-sacrificing individuals. Individuals that, together, were part of a greater plan – a whole greater than the sum of its parts. The thought made Mary ache for want of it. It was what she had tried to establish with Percy but, she had finally come to realize, he wasn’t aware of anything greater than the here and now. How freely, though, he had spoken his vow of love that was an “undying” love. Mary noted the contradiction. But, she never questioned Percy Shelly’s choice of words. Never.

Mary spoke aloud, “What did you wish for me mother in those first moments you saw me? What would you have me know? Could you already see that I too was cursed to find my love and to be separated, as you are from father, by the confines of death? But, at least I found it – that love, I tasted it … I lived it. Briefly. Ever so briefly. So few ever know the pleasure of a love so pure it has to outlast eternity.” Percy, she knew, was an atheist and would have had no speak of eternity – or God – and neither had been mentioned at his funeral just days before. But Mary, especially now, felt a greater good was “out there”. There just had to be. Death could not be a force so great as to separate them forever. Their kindred spirits would reunite – someday – somehow and this life would have not been for naught as it would be the life in which they found one another. Could the next life be the one in which they perfect their union?

As always, Mary ended her graveside visit by placing her palms on the surface of the monument. She had begun this by the age of three. When asked, she told father it was to send her warmth to her mother who certainly must be cold down there.

Mary rose. The slackness of the skirt fabric fell back into place and, indeed, the spots she had pondered were mid shin. But, her accuracy went completely unnoticed. She instead thought of each of her babies and how she had tried to warm them back to life with strokes of her hands. She thought of how she had used that pain to describe the Monster vivified in her novel Frankenstein and how she would trade the modest success of it for all of her children to be circled around her, tugging her skirt, hugging her hips. She thought of Percy Florence, her only surviving child – now two years old, and the mother she had vowed to be for him. The life she had wanted and the life she now has. Then, the thoughts of the next life began to plague her mind. The next life. How do we find that next life? The life where mother and she could both wear the glistening jewels of the spider’s web. The life perfected. Can it really exist or could it be simply the next chapter to an ever expanding story?

Chapter 1
Will I be one of the women who can let go their baby without so much as even trying to get a glimpse? How can they not feel this? How is a woman not supposed to want to see this when it is born?

Chula knew little of childbirth but she did know the baby would be taken away upon delivery. It was just the way of things and the other women accepted it as such. She knew she would have to work on her resolve before the delivery so she could allow this without a show of emotion. It was told to them from a very young age the women who strained to see their baby, as it was removed from the birthing room, were severely reprimanded and the women who allowed it were rewarded. She placed her hand on her stomach and into the waist of her pants, sliding it down onto the increasingly taunt skin beneath her belly button. The faint flutters of the baby’s movement had begun just this week and she found herself overwhelmed with new thoughts and new feelings of and for this new human being inside her. She was afraid to ask the midwives if there was any meaning to these new sensations. Afraid mostly that they would say no. She imagined they would dismiss it as insignificant and it would then be explained to her that it was just a result of her body feeding two beings instead of one. Her mind was not prepared, not at this point at least, to accept that answer. Her mind, bathed in the pregnancy, forced her to think and feel it was something more profound that – it felt more like something in her life would now endure through the ages of time.

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Serving up the Real McCoy …. I want to be a billionaire

June 16th, 2010
by mary

Call for Mr. Travis McCoy! Calling out – Travie McCoy!
Well now, Travie … I heard your song “I want to be a billionaire” for the first time this week. Very sharp, nice Caribbean beat. I agree it is a song with summer written all over it – and with a message. A fantastic song – if I may say so – and that comes from a 49 year old white woman (I would hazard to guess that isn’t your usual demographic). I also enjoyed the video – and the singing of Bruno Mars. Well, with the exception, it disturbed me when the empty can of spray paint was flagrantly tossed onto the beach. What’s with that? Gotta watch even the most subtle messages you send out there when you become a public figure. That said, I found the lyrics charmingly uplifting with a spicy edge … talk about resonance with an audience – who among us doesn’t want to be a billionaire “so fucking bad”?

I want to be a billionaire

 I especially perked up when you came to these lines:

“I’d probably visit where Katrina hit
And damn sure do a lot more than FEMA did.”

Really? Do you really mean that Travie? I’m asking – are you are the real McCoy or are your lyrics just puffy hollow words that are merely there because they rhyme correctly? Are you willing to back up those words with some action? Scroll back through my posts, Mr. McCoy, read the one about the “Pitt falls of selling a screenplay”. My offer still stands to build a house in the 9th ward of New Orleans via Brad Pitt’s Make it Right Nola organization. But, I have that screenplay to sell first. Want to help me and we’ll build a house together? Hell, if this is a success – why stop at one?

I’m not ashamed to say my first and foremost motivation is to sell my screenplay. That said, I’m all for giving back. My script is set in New Orleans – New Orleans is just as much a character to the movie as are those played by the actors. Besides, how can I contribute money to causes if I have no money to contribute?
From the looks of it (Yes, I have looked you up online), you do seem like the real McCoy who uses his celebrity to follow through and help others. I saw your ad for P.E.T.A. and read of your support of children’s hospitals.

I also saw where you participated in M.T.V.’s “Staying Alive” project – your song “One at a time” was written for them. For the people who don’t know – it is a foundation active in the fight against A.I.D.S. May I tell you a little story about HIV/AIDS Mr. McCoy?

You see, I’m not just a writer. I have a day job – Microbiology. When I was in college I had a professor in Immunology who told us about “Kaposi’s sarcoma in homosexual men in San Francisco”. It seemed to be contagious. That was in the early 80’s (about the time you were born) and they had no clue yet what caused this cancer to be contagious. My professor told us to “keep an eye on this one – it is going to be big”.
It wasn’t until I graduated and started work in a hospital that the virus was isolated and we developed a test for it. We could now identify who had it. Yet, we still didn’t know much about it. We were, rightfully, scared. I remember the first A.I.D.S patient I saw. He had been driven to our Emergency Department from out of town. He didn’t want it known where he lived that he had AIDS. People with AIDS were outcast – pariahs.
My job didn’t normally involve drawing blood from patients – but no one had the courage to draw his. It was a small town E.R. and things were very slow that Sunday. His gurney was placed in the farthest corner of the room with curtain drawn. Nothing could prepare me for what I saw when I pulled it back. Rawboned – lesions – perfect blue eyes sunken into the skull – pleading eyes. He was racked with fever and his skin radiated heat before I even touched him yet he shivered with chills. Strands of matted ultra fine blond hair clung to his forehead – wet from the profuse sweating.  It reminded me of a baby’s hair and I thought of the nights he would have fretted as an infant and his mother would have pushed the matted hair back from the forehead.
I went into professional mode and explained I was here to draw his blood. I needed to draw three sets of blood cultures 15 minutes apart. He nodded. I drew the first set in silence. Labeled the bottles and said I would be back in 15 minutes. As I turned to leave I heard that sound a person makes when they are trying to withdraw back inside an escaped sob. I looked back at him. Those pleading eyes pierced to the core of me. I went back to him and asked if he needed anything. “Cold” he said.
I asked the nurse for a blanket. She handed it to me instead of going to him herself. Her eyes were just as pleading as his. Just as scared. I placed it around him then called back to the lab to tell them where I’d be if I was needed. On a slow Sunday in a small hospital, it was okay if I stayed. I sat in a chair beside his gurney. I took his hand and we were just there together in the moment - until it was time to draw the next set of cultures. I did. Same with the third set. I pushed back the hair from his forehead. Now and then he would try to speak but would break into violent bouts of coughing when he did. In hindsight, he probably had Pneumocystis pneumonia – but we didn’t test for that back then.
He died that evening – in that emergency room – all alone. No family – no friends. I had to return to my work in the lab not long after drawing the third set so I didn’t find out about his passing until the following day. I regretted that he died without having been touched. Not direct contact anyway – we all wore gloves. That would have been the last sensation upon his skin. But then, we were just as scared as he was. Could you blame us?
I’ve a life outside of writing – I still work in Microbiology. I’m wanting a life inside of writing Mr. McCoy. I’ve created this web site to do just that. I’m asking people to read what I’ve written here and know that the screenplay I’ve written is worth the look at least.

I’m asking – do you want to be a part of this?
I’ve already contacted your publicity agent with this proposal – he has my contact information.

Travie, you have been served.

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Self Examination of Mary Godwin – the writer

June 14th, 2010
by mary

SELF EXAMINATION – of Mary, the writer

 

 

There’s nothing to writing.
All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.
Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith

Yeah, Mr. Smith, it is pretty much that easy to be a writer – but then – that is just the beginning of it. There is a fear to revealing yourself to the world as a writer. Reveal yourself to others as a writer? Think about it – how narcissistic can you be to have the nerve to tell people that you can write? How dare you! You aren’t doing anything that a typical first grader isn’t taught to do – what makes you so freaking special?

Truth of the matter is – you aren’t. No one is. That first grader is no more or no less human than am I. Just as she is no less of a writer than am I. But then, I am no more or no less human than was Shakespeare. I am no less a writer. We are all writers because we write and once we’ve written we’ve chosen to ask others to read our works - asking you to judge us.

It doesn’t matter if we write something down the line of:

“I like you.  Do you like me?   Check one: ____ Yes ____ No”

Or maybe it is more like this:

“Come, come, you forward and unable worms!

My mind hath been as big as one of yours, My heart as great, my reason haply more, To bandy word for word and frown for frown.”

It is all writing. The good, the bad, the ugly.

Everyone has a story to tell – you’ve all heard that. Some of us just have the audacity to put pen to paper and write it down - instead of just talking about it. As Hemingway said “The writer must write what he has to say, not speak it.” But, again, that is the easy part.

What if you then have the audacity of hope that, if you do put yourself into the written word, someone will actually want to read it. That maybe someone will garner something for themselves out of something we’ve bothered to pass along via manuscript – oh, and – heaven forbid – even pay us for it!

You reveal who you are with what you write. Like it or not. Superficial writing comes of a superficial place. This doesn’t mean you are a shallow person – just that the surface is all you choose to reveal of yourself. It is fine for fluff and can be very entertaining – but it doesn’t go to the heart and soul of the reader/audience. It didn’t come from there so there is not its home.

In my prior post, I said it was hard to reveal yourself to the world as a woman. Lovers can reject your body. But then, it is only one man who rejects you. You can have a choice of the man to whom you reveal yourself. You have some level of control. Writing is different. With writing – deep writing – the kind that comes from the gut – you bare yourself to the world with no control of who is to read your works. Some will laugh at you and mock you – some will love you and ask you for more. Some will not bother after reading the first line you’ve written – shrugging shoulders as they say “Meh, take it or leave it.” It doesn’t matter what any of them say. Love you or hate you is up to them. What does matter is that you did it.

You took the chance. Rejection can cloud your eyes but light diffracts into beautiful rainbows through clouds. And that is a beautiful place from which to write.
So, here I am making myself vulnerable to you – my reader. Asking you to like me: Check yes or no. But then, I understand there may be some among you who may be a “forward and unable worm”. You fear putting your own written word “out there” – for whatever reason and therefore will choose to criticize me as I do so with my own. I can and will bandy word for word with you – frown for frown. Or, I may just shake my head sadly at your plight and move forward along my own path in hopes you find your way. To hate me is far more telling of you than of me. I am me. My writing is me. As my inspiration Charlie Kaufman puts it “You are who you love, not who loves you.” I love writing and I love my audience. I’m just here trying to expand that audience. Frown for frown – you may not like it. That is fine by me.
Oh, one last thing, the worst possible thing a writer can do … try to claim another writer’s works as your own … it was Hemingway who said:

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.

Now that begs the question as to who said it first? Hemingway or Smith – as they were more or less age mates. But then, does it really matter? Both of them lived up to it.

An original writer is not one who imitates nobody, but one whom nobody can imitate.
- Francois Rene De Chateaubriand

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A self examination – of Mary, the woman.

June 10th, 2010
by mary

 

SELF EXAMINATION – of Mary, the woman.

 

There is a fear to revealing one’s self to the world as a woman.  Men – I can only conjecture having never been one – have to quickly come to terms with the variations of length, girth, curvature, and color as they are revealed to one another early on at the urinal and with the falling of a towel in gym class.

By a more intimate design, and dictates of proper society, women do not have to view other women – and in a blessed reciprocity do not have to endure being viewed.  But then, that makes it harder to come to terms with that which makes us “female”.

My first thoughts of this came when I was 10 years old and my breasts developed.  I decided this was “okay”  as I understood the other girls in my class would follow soon enough.  I was simply the first one there.  But, there was more to know and I wanted to know it. 

We had all heard of the “Chapter 13” found in the 7th grade Biology book.  That was the chapter on human reproduction – it even contained pictures!   With curiosity fueled courage, I slipped into the Biology classroom after school one day and took a textbook.  Quietly, I sat on the bus on the way home clutching my book bag – silently praying no one would ask me to open it.  I could feel the redness of my face as I began to think the other kids could detect the book by the mere outline it made as it pressed against the straining fabric.  I was sure they would know what it was – and its intended use.  They didn’t.  I made it home – undetected.  I discovered the pictures were merely drawings and diagrams but, with them, I confirmed my own anatomical correctness that weekend.  I found comfort in that.

Time passed and with that came the high school years.  I did not question my body as my breasts were round and firm as were my hips.   I knew the approving gaze of the boys swept over my body from time to time.  I knew I met the standard for “female”.   Again, I was comfortable in that.   That was until –

Lisa was a stunningly beautiful tall, thin, and athletic girl – a ninth grader – two years my junior.   Her body was lean and muscular.  I sometimes wished my form to be more like hers.  I love running track and her angular tautness was certainly more conducive to that than were my soft curves.  She was almost 16.  I was 17.  Then my security as a woman came crashing down upon me.

I overheard the careless laughter of two senior boys – whooping it up about the size of her labia – meat sheets as he so callously called them.  I wasn’t even aware women could be that different from one another – and even worse – that some of these differences would be the subject of mockery.  Reportedly, he had managed to go “all the way” with her the previous weekend and was also repulsed by hair that grew around her nipples.  My heart sank, I was as yet a virgin and I couldn’t understand how such a beautiful act of giving yourself to a man could be the subject of such jocularity.  I wondered how, if he found her so repulsive, had he been able to still make love to her.  That was before I knew there was a difference in having sex and making love.  I decided then I would know the man with whom I chose to be intimate – I would find a man who would protect that vulnerability I reveal to him.  I wish I had listened to my 17 year old self.

Time passes.  You marry.  You have children.  Then, one day, you find yourself a divorced woman, sitting in a tub of bathwater, doing yet another self examination.  You gaze upon yourself knowing someday you will wish to give this body to a man.  This body – with the paunch of the belly from belly button to pelvis from the miracle of being a mother – breasts that fed those precious babies but now sag.  The face you will present comes with crow’s feet and laugh lines from days of happiness gone by and the wrinkles from days of work and play in the sun.  All these things this man will have to accept – though he had no part of them. I can’t help but hear the echoes of warning from my 17 year old self. 

Next: 

The self examination - of Mary, the writer.

There is a fear to revealing yourself to the world as a writer.

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Flattery – The Sincerest Form Of Imitation

June 3rd, 2010
by mary

My dear reader, you are almost caught up to date with the things I’ve done so far to sell my screenplay. This one bridges the gap between what I have already done and new ideas.
Next in Queue … John Cusack.
I still can’t help but think if I have a major star, or two, interested in playing one of my characters that it would be easier to sell my script – at least it may help me to find an agent interested in facilitating the process of selling this screenplay.

Enter John Cusack. Mr. Cusack has his own production company as well as being a really fine actor. As such, I reasoned, the project could possibly be of interest to him on more than one level. He pulled off a dark yet still likable character in Ice Harvest. He pulled off drama in 1408 and Identity. He had already finished and released Hot Tub Time Machine this year. His two projects in production, Shanghai and The Factory, are yet to be released but are none the less completed. That leaves with only one project, Cosmic Banditos, in development for 2011. But what exactly does “in development” mean anyway? How busy is he? How busy does he want to be? Would he like to play an artist in New Orleans – an “unconventional hero”?

If there is one lesson I’ve learned in life it is this: How can you know the answer is “no” if you never ask the question. So. I asked. I sent Mr. Cusack – via his New Crime contact information - pretty much the same message I had sent to Kevin Bacon: Brief character sketch of the role I would like for him to consider as well as the log lines to the script. I asked … and ….

Voila! I’ve had a response from the Cusack/New Crime camp! Which, I’m happy to report, is already far more civil than were Kevin’s Bacon Bits – and more responsive than Brad’s Pitt Crew. The response was nothing too big in the grand scheme of things. The very brief, albeit very respectful, reply came back that I should submit this request to his agent. You can judge a man by the company he keeps – New Crime is at least a civil company. Leads me to think John Cusack is a civil man.

I know how much Cusack loved the Being John Malkovich  script – something he and I share in common. I know John likes to work with his dear friend Jeremy Piven. Guess what?  There is a role in my script that would perfectly suit Mr. Piven! He would play the best friend to the lead character.

I must beg your indulgence as I take a slight personal aside from the true topic.  I am a fan of Charlie Kaufman (the writer of Adaptation and Being John Malkovich) and I admit Charlie Kaufman would be third on my list, behind Einstein and Jesus, for my choice of lunch dates. I consider him brilliant – I mean that in all sincerity. And, that is my segue into the tricky part. The area of bewilderment that lies between Hollywood bullshit and that sincerity of heart part.

Who among us has never heard that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar?  To that I say, if you know anything of flies and that to which they are most attracted – you’d know you’d catch even more flies with a ginormous steaming pile of poop.   Something that doesn’t seem to be lacking in Hollywood.  I mean, I grew up on a farm and, believe me, I know how to shovel manure with the best of them.  If that is what Hollywood needs me to do to get their attention I guess I can do now like I did back then - hold my nose during the process so as not to smell the stench as I pitch a shovel or two on them.  Afterall, it makes good fertilizer so maybe something really good would grow of it.  Problem there is – shit fertilizes the weeds too.  The grass may be greener on the Hollywood side, but then, so are those weeds.

But, back to  the task at hand.  I know it would have been far more telling of a level of interest had the contact information for Cusack’s agent been given in the email I received. I have no grandiose delusions here. I do not think his agent, Gaby Morgerman, is sitting there just waiting for my message to drop into her in box. My first thought was to slather it on thick and say something to the effect that “Johnny – dahling” had asked me to run this by you sweetie cakes. But then would you really call a woman consistently on the list of Hollywood’s most influential women “sweetie cakes”?

I considered a letter to Ms. Morgerman in which I claim the part had been written specifically for Mr. Cusack and that he is the only person on Earth I would ever consider to play the lead in my story. That would mean I would have to lie – a lie: to be something that isn’t real – an imitation. That isn’t who or what I am nor do I want to be. John is indeed a wonderful actor - and one of my personal favorites - but the thought of him playing the lead was an idea I had after the script was already completed.

So, I will now send a letter to Gaby Morgerman of the WME Entertainment agency for it to be taken into consideration. Maybe it is false hope. Maybe not. How will I know if I don’t ask? And so, off I go to the internet to get to know my “customer”, Ms. Morgerman, before I send her a letter.  This happens to be a little something I learned when working in the corporate world. Google tells me that’s one lady with quite a name for herself in Hollywood!  How not to be intimidated by that?   I’ve also just discovered that Ms. Morgerman represents Ellen Page! Ellen Page as Clara – the female lead.  You see, unlike John,  Ellen is someone I did consider to play Clara as I was writing it – the only person I ever considered. The character is described as beautiful and “a new life just beginning” but with her own dark and sinister secret. Well, now, that changes everything.  Doesn’t it?  So, Gabsters, dah-ling, I have a role for your client – Ellen Page – was written just for her cup cakes!  Let’s do lunch … I’ll book you somewhere between Einstein and Mr. Kaufman. 

What do you say?  Want to be a part of this Ms. Morgerman? Mr. Cusack? Miss Page?

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6 degrees is pretty damn cold when you think of it ———————————– Mr. Kevin Bacon

May 27th, 2010
by mary

Okay, now it is time to go back to some more on what I’ve already tried in my attempt to sell my screenplay. When last I spoke of this, I had heard no reply from the Make It Right NOLA/Brad Pitt camp so I needed to move forward.

January 2009. Reeling from the Bernie Madoff swindle, Kevin Bacon declares: “I don’t have anything lined up right now, but I need to work, for obvious reasons.” Ah yes! Kevin Bacon! Right age … right look … fine actor. I could see him as the brooding artist (with longer hair) trapped by his obsessions.  My mind clicking – I went into action.

A lovely, simple, query letter outlining my plan was sent to every address I could find for Mr. Bacon. The letter gave a character sketch and the log lines to the movie – as well as my pitch that he should consider this movie as a venue for his talents. I did think it was a great fit. I knew better than to send the script or even the synopsis unsolicited. My letter stated I’d be happy to sign a release to allow him to read either or both the script and synopsis. As an aside to that: SHAME on anyone who has added to this culture of paranoia I have discovered in Hollywood – where everyone is afraid they will either be sued for ripping someone off or being ripped off for their ideas. It sequesters new, fresh, and inventive stories as well as squelches networking. ‘Nuff said.

I considered the effort Kevin had put into a movie called “The Woodsman”. He went to bat to get the movie made – passed the script around to people who could/would make the movie. It is a darkly powerful movie of redemption – told in a very believable, un-sugarcoated way. In that, it was slightly akin to the script I had written. I was certain he would believe in my script too – if he could only read it.

What is it they say about the best laid plans?

To my surprise I did receive a response from Mr. Bacon’s representatives. Pretty much it came down to I was told to “F” off – without actually using the “F” word. My first round of letters was opened and sent back to me in an all in a single envelope. Then I found an email contact. I received a reply on that one too. I was told my letter was unread and would remain unread as “Mr. Bacon does NOT accept unsolicited material”. Well, duh Sherlock – did you think that was maybe why the letter I sent to you was a query FOR a solicitation? As politely as I could, I e-mailed back to him. I stated I understood he was the “Lion at the Gate” to Kevin Bacon. I reminded him, as such; he is an employee of Mr. Bacon and needs to consider whether or not he is biting the hand that feeds him.

Yes, I realize stars get thousands of hare brained things thrown at them on a daily basis. I realize they have to have levels through which you must pass to get to them. I realize those levels are in place for protection purposes. But, goodness, what happened to simple civility? Sheeze. And I want to do business with these people? Well, yeah, I do. Not because I now want to put money in Kevin Bacon’s pocket anymore – that boat has sailed. He’s a big boy who can find his own way back to fortune. It is because I have a script to sell that tells a story people would like to see and, because of that, I’m trying to do what I can, as a Hollywood outsider, to sell that script and get the movie made. Kind of an “I am here, I am here, I am HERE!” a’la Horton Hears a Who.

Of course I have my own financial motivation for selling my screenplays.  For crying out loud, I’m selling my wardrobe on ebay to pay for reconstructive surgery!  Of course I need money too.  So, go ahead and say I’m not completely altruistic - I do have bills to pay as well as my retirement to finance. You have to admit though that altruism is a lot easier with cash in your pocket – as is retirement. As such, my offer to both Brad Pitt and Kevin Bacon stands. If they would like to consider my script at this point I would gladly let them read it. My offer to contribute 10% of what I’m paid for the script to the Make It Right NOLA Foundation still stands if Mr. Pitt’s “team” helps me sell the script. Same offer goes to SixDegrees.org if Mr. Bacon helps me sell my story. If both men get onboard I’ll donate equally to both. Kind of a “throwing Bacon on the Pitt” to see if I can get some sizzle going. Guys?

Anyway enough time spent on those two, onward it is ….. next in queue …..

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How Low Can You Go? LiLo? Rob Lowe? J-Lo?

May 25th, 2010
by mary

Putting a script “out there” in an attempt to sell it is like watching your daughter dress for the senior prom. You can’t help but think “this is it” – this is the day you greeted with equivalent measures of anticipation … and dread.
You know this day is only the “pretty little show” that signals the rite of passage. It is the end of the time when you have some level of “say” in her life. I would say “control” but, I’d like to keep this analogy realistic. Tonight she is perfect. You helped her find the perfect dress. She spent hours in the salon getting the perfect hair. So carefully, the perfect makeup is applied. She hardly looks like herself. Tonight, the last thing you see is the little girl you spent years raising – you see a pseudo woman about to graduate and head out into that cold and cruel world. All that is in your power to do is hug her and hope she finds her place out there – the place she is meant to be. Yup, that’s no different than selling a script.

Here’s your one chance Fancy – don’t let me down.

 

With many writers there is an immobility of mind. These writers cannot tolerate the thought of one iota of their precious baby being changed and refuse to sell without retaining control over the manuscript. Life isn’t like that – sending a child forth into the world isn’t like that – and for movies to be resonating with the audience they shouldn’t be like that either.

 

Once your child leaves your home their affiliations aren’t always going to be the same good, decent, and wholesome ones with which they were raised. It is the same with a script. As I said in an earlier post – of course I’d love to have a Johnny Depp or a Brad Pitt star in my movie. I’m quite sure they would guarantee success of the movie and either of them are the right age for the lead character – but then so is Rob Lowe.

 

I consider what if he is the one cast in the part? What success has Rob Lowe had?  The one commercially successful movie – the one that defines him - ”St. Elmo’s Fire” he received a razzy award for that one? Did they not see ”Illegally Yours” where he is trying to ”be” Ryan O’Neal in “What’s Up Doc?”?    What if the producer or director has a connection and LiLo – Lindsay Lohan – gets the female lead? Filming hasn’t even started on her new movie “Inferno”, in which she is to play Linda Lovelace, and she is being trashed for it.  What if J-Lo were cast as the wife? Look up any list of the top ten movies of all times and her movie ”Gigli” is there.  I’d be ruined! With any of these as cast members my career as a writer would end before it even had a chance to really begin.  Right? I mean, these people are “box office poison” Right?

 

Are you so sure about that? I read an article detailing 10 actors deemed the “Hollywood Flop Squad” Bruce Willis, Kate Winslet, Michael Cera, Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Camron Diaz, George Clooney, Harrison Ford, Sean Penn, and Christian Bale. Seriously, some of the biggest, brightest, stars we have in Hollywood today. Among them are stars with the biggest box office money makers under their belt. Sixth Sense, The Die Hard series, The Mask, Something about Mary, Star Wars and the Indiana Jones series, Ocean’s Eleven series, oh, and the movie that barely broke even at the box office Titanic. Check the ROI (return on investment) of the movie Juno.  Babe Ruth didn’t knock it out of the ballpark every time he was up to bat and what gives us the right to begrudge the fact these stars, producers, directors, et al. have bills to pay too.   Vote with your wallet people and then shut up – something about beating a dead horse comes to mind.  

 

There are a finite number of movies made per year.  The vast majority of these rehash and retell the same ol’ same ol’ that doesn’t give stars many from which to choose.  Someone hires a Bruce Willis  because they have bought into a script that they think he could pull off.  No.  Actors don’t pull off a movie, a producer doesn’t, a director doens’t, even a writer doesn’t pull off a movie, it isn’t the lighting, or the special effects, or the sound.  It is all of them working in concert, as a team, that shows in the finished product we see on the screen that ever elusive “great success” of a movie. 

The point I’m making is this: If you make it they will come. If you make a movie people want to see they will go see it – if not – they won’t. It won’t matter who stars in it. It won’t matter who wrote it. It won’t matter who directed it. You can’t always predict a smash – and throwing money at a project doesn’t always make it a good movie. Good is good – and good is what the audience wants to see. On that fact, the movie going audience is 100% predictable.  That is where someone like me comes into play, someone that has told a story that will have an audience.  Goodness, $350 million made by Fatal Attraction.  $320 million made by Basic Instinct.  Yes, there is an audience for a story such as mine – it runs in that same genre.  It wasn’t that I sat down and said I should write the next Fatal Attraction/Basic Instinct.   When you do that, the story doesn’t come from your heart and I find the heart to be my most reliable source. 

 

So, here we are back at prom night. Tonight, the packaging is pretty and neat – clean and tidy. I’m about to send her, my script, out into that world with a mother’s angst. I want her to be a success but I know she will get dirty as she is handled. The perfection I see in her will be tussled – she may wake in the morning with “just been had” hair and smudged lipstick.

 

All the time I will worry if this will reflect well upon me. It will – if I have no fear of it and understand it just may allow her to grow. It will – if I have instilled fearlessness on her part. Where she is fearless to expect the best of everyone she has as a part of her life. Let her tell Rob Lowe to stop trying to be Ryan O’Neal and just relax. Let her tell Lindsay Lohan that she is a great actress if she would just lose the paparazzi addicted “bad girl” attitude.  Remind her a performance is supposed to be for the audience - not for the press.   Above all, as she does come into contact with people – be it producers, actors, directors, even crew members – may she have the fortitude of character not to shun them but to support their strengths and help them overcome their weaknesses …. and may they do the same for her.

A mother can ask no more than this.

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Agents of change

May 20th, 2010
by mary

Don’t get me wrong – I have no illusions or delusions. I never thought selling a screenplay was going to be easy – even fast for that matter. But, goodness, there are limits!

Last year, I managed to find one agent who “agreed” to represent me. He had represented a script that ended up being a major motion picture – in 1994! The bigger problem was – he was quite proud of the fact that he had worked for 10 years – TEN YEARS – to get the script into the hands of Hollywood.
Granted, it was a major motion picture but, dude, face it – that tells me three things about you:
1. You are a one hit wonder.
2. You rest on your laurels instead of riding the inertia of selling a hit.
3. You aren’t really that adroit at selling screenplays.
When I met you, I liked you, but seriously – ten years? You’ve never followed up with another major sale. Why? You call it patience – I see it differently. The politically correct way to say it is that the two of us lacked the simpatico necessary for a good employer/employee relationship.
Many times, writers and other artists, are grateful to simply have representation. What they fail to see is that the best scenario is to have an agent who is someone who actually believes in their work. Agents can buffer themselves with many different clients on board whereas the client has only the one agent on which to rely. Is something missing with that equation? Something like … hunger … on their part. Is it really necessary for the “artist” to be starving? Really? Why? Because that is the way it has always been? Because good writing comes of hunger? I disagree. Good writing comes of good writers. Period.
Don’t get me wrong – I’d love to have an agent representing me right now. I’m trying to swim in some really deep waters here. Some really deep, shark infested, jelly fish swarming , torpedo laced waters – with an oil slick on top! My expectations of an agent aren’t unreasonable. I simply would like to have an agent who is capable of getting my work read by the people who are looking to buy.  My part of the equation is to write stories an agent would be willing to put him/herself behind as they go to bat for me – stories that would make a great night’s entertainment at the movies.

Until I find that person, I’ll swim on my own.  Damn the torpedos!

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Pitted againt the odds …. or the Pitt falls of selling a screenplay

May 16th, 2010
by mary

Do understand, I’m still trying the traditional route of contacting agents and producers as I add more and different approaches to the equation of selling a screenplay. How odd is it that the “system”  itself demands of me insanity? Doing that same thing over and over and over again – expecting different results. Letters to agents … letters to producers … banging doors … banging my head against walls … expecting that maybe this next one will be “it”. Today, I want to begin to tell you dear readers about some of my rolls of the dice of innovation.

You should know a little about the script’s storyline before I continue. Don’t worry – no spoilers. The story is old school film noir – set in New Orleans. To me it extends into what I have coined as “Film N’awlins” since the character of the city is just that, a character to the story. The story explores whether a timorous artist will paint his way to fame and fortune – or into a corner. The tag line: A stroke of genius/a brush with death.” Alternate tag: Nothing Big ever comes Easy.

I do have a fondness for the city of New Orleans but I will admit an equally important economic motivation prompting me to use it in my story. I discovered the state of Louisiana has lovely tax incentives for filming there. I was told many times, during a pitch, it runs through the head of the producer whether or not the story could be set in Louisiana to make use of these financial incentives. Besides, I had a sexy story to tell and I needed a sexy place for a backdrop. This story of lust and greed – of being a user and the used – needed a location that could stand up to that without overwhelming it. Voila! New Orleans.

Just as Julia Roberts will always do that laugh of hers and Arnold will say “I’ll be back” I wrote New Orleans a part in the story that only she could pull off. I reasoned this could only help me to sell my script. I would make mention of this, as well as the fact it is a character driven story,  when I would query for a pitch to producers.  After all, it is called show “business” and if I can factor into my writing things that make it easier to finance then wouldn’t I be ahead of the game?

Enter Brad Pitt. My main character is a 48 year old man and, of course, I’d love to have someone like Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp to play the role. But, a quick glance at their projects on IMDb deflated that idea balloon – both were obligated to more than 10 projects each already. Then – a ha! – Mr. Pitt was on Oprah promoting his Make it Right NOLA foundation. That’s it! There is a charity art auction in the script, Make it Right NOLA could be that foundation being supported! Famous “Make it Right” supporters could be at the party – Oprah – Ellen DeGeneres – even Mr. Pitt could do a walk on. I saw a scene akin to the one in “The Player” where Robert Altman put out the call to his Hollywood contacts to do a walk on. Wouldn’t that be a great scene?

It wouldn’t stop there either. The homes already built by the foundation could be showcased as a backdrop in the exterior scenes of the movie. It has been a long time since Katrina and time does numb the best of intentions – what a shot in the arm for them and a leg up for me. This movie wouldn’t cost that arm and a leg to do either and what a great way to also lend credibility to a storyline to use Mr. Pitt’s foundation.  And so was my plan.

I contacted Mr. Pitt at every address I could find for him. I contacted the “Make it Right NOLA” executive director as well as. While I was sure Mr. Pitt would never have the time to read my script, I was also sure he had someone he would trust to read it and report back to him. He would know who to pass it to! I was quite sure the director of Make it Right NOLA would agree with my plan too and go to bat for me – especially when I upped the ante and pledged to donate 10% of what I am paid for my script to the Make it Right Foundation – if he would assist me.

Have you seen the wonderful homes they are building? Storm resistant and built with green technology. In my exuberance, I thought how great it would be to have one of those homes built for me here in Florida. I would challenge my neighbors to do the same – goodness knows we are whacked enough by hurricanes here too. There you have it – in one fell swoop I would have sold my screenplay, placed Make it Right NOLA back into public view, made a donation to the foundation, and expand the business of the builder into another state. I thought I had created the win-win-win-win scenario. I was wrong – I never heard from Mr. Pitt or any of his representatives.

Back to: Nobody knows me. You are new. You are unproven – and that is hard to trust when it comes to parting with money.

Mr. Pitt, allow me to introduce myself. I am Mary Godwin and I have a story you might be interested in hearing.
Never stop thinking!

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