klugulablog

Prepare to face the ultimate boredom...
an ongoing description of my life, loves, thoughts, fears, work and lustings.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Novelist: The 18-Month Plan

 

Chalk it up to the mental fallout from the pandemic.  Chalk it up to my own, ongoing anxiety.  Chalk it up to my mother's recent death.  Chalk it up to burnout.  Hell, chalk it up to a good old-fashioned mid-life crisis.

The point is -- I'm going to start phasing out screenwriting.

Now, for the 0 people reading this (not demeaning actual readers, only pointing out that generally there are 0 folks reading my rantings), there's no need to get your panties in a bunch or wonder what on God's green earth is happening right now.

I'll continue to pen screenplays -- for paid gigs, if such things continue to present themselves.

But as far as working on my own scripts -- the ones I write for sheer pleasure because they need to be extracted from my brain (for my own sanity), and then spend oodles of cash and effort and networking to get them in front of festivals and script competitions and producers and eyes/ears -- not so much.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy them, still do -- but I'm burned out on someone else having a say in what works and what doesn't work.  What's commercial?  What's appropriate?  On and on.

That's how this business is, and I've known that -- so that hasn't changed.

I have.

I'm at a point that I know how to defer to producers and the money men/women, and takes notes as needed, make changes as requested and understand how budget must be a consideration and what will play if it needs to be made more palatable for a general audience.  I've got a firm grasp on that.

What I can't defer to, is people who question my proven ability to tell a story -- organically and with depth and underlying themes, with characters who live and breathe.

Despite my struggles (since birth) of self-doubt and self-sabotage, I'm a damned good writer.  And that's the honest-to-God truth.

And while I don't deny that I've had some successes in the film industry (writing-wise) I'm not where I think I should be.  I'm turning 47 next month and while there shouldn't be an "expiration date" on success, I can't help but have that sense -- me personally.

Am I doing something wrong?  Is this all on me?  Perhaps, but after this many years pushing toward these goals -- to win awards, to be sold, to be produced, to be recognized within the industry -- there comes a point where a shift in priorities and a movement of energy to other endeavors, needs to take place.

I feel as though that time -- regardless of perceived forward motion (not as fast as I'd like -- I'm not getting any younger) hasn't been as fruitful.  Again, not complaining about all of the friendships and connections and joy I've found in screenwriting over the past 16 or so years, but it's not "ringing my bell" if you know what I mean -- this "push to success" -- even though we all ask, "What the hell does that exactly mean?"

So I've been working on two separate novels over the past five years or so (perhaps longer, I don't know without looking it all up), and have begun a third (which I believe will end up being my first completed novel).

I'm enjoying that freedom.  Both within the writing (no screenplay formatting or structure or length considerations) and also in the knowledge, that if I intend to self publish (which I do), the only person I'll have to answer to, would be a trusted editor -- not bottom line money folks.  I'll write whatever the hell I want to, thank you very much.

I've got 13 completed feature scripts -- scripts I've written for myself, not for others.  And I'd love to set aside screenwriting (again, not completely and not permanently) after I have written/completed 20 feature scripts (for myself).

That would include the 4 scripts which are already in the process of being written, or well into development (two of which are partnerships).

I intend to continue working on the novel (s) over the next 18 months, but to focus on getting up to that magic milestone of 20 feature length scripts (and all supporting materials -- treatment, pitch, artwork, etc.).  

I think with that massive catalog (I think it's massive) I can fully embrace some sort of career detour, and focus on prose for the most part, knowing I've truly made a "go" of it.

I also intend to begin the process of transitioning into more of a filmmaker, rather than a screenwriter.  I'll have the product to choose from, so in addition to working on the novels, I'll start figuring out how to produce my own product for the screen (again, avoiding the nonsense insights of folks who can't tell a good character from a pile of shit on the ground).

This is all quite daunting, but also intriguing that -- after 16 years of writing screenplays -- I've decided it's time to try out some other things to fill my time and prime my creative juices.

I mean -- bottom line, I've gotta write -- that's who I am.

So you've read it here first, friends (all 0 of you reading this -- again, no offense): January of 2023, I'm putting screenwriting on the backburner.

I'm going to become a novelist.  Neat.

Monday, April 05, 2021

Processing Grief Through the Lens of Estrangement

 It should come as no surprise that I'd take pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to handle grief through some form of writing, or journaling in this case.

Found out that my mother died in her sleep last night.

She had been in a nursing home for some years, unhealthy both physically and psychologically.  I saw a steady decline in her (in every way) following the death of her mother in 1994 -- something she clearly never healed from.  And then the death of my stepfather in 2007 -- another sad milestone from which she never recovered. 

I don't know the statistics, but it feels as though someone of my age (46 -- turning 47 in a few months) shouldn't have this many notable losses within family.  I've lost two beloved uncles (father figures), my biological father (whom I had little contact with past the age of 10), my stepfather (he was my father growing up), my maternal grandmother (a prominent fixture in my life until she died when I was only 20), and now -- my mother.  Is that a lot?  For such a relatively young age?  I don't know, but it sure feels like it.

I won't go into the details of why my mother and I were estranged.  Frankly, the idea of writing an autobiography has long been on my to-do list, where no doubt -- dirty laundry may sometime see the light of day.  It's my story to tell, and telling makes for better healing.

I completed a script called MOM DIED back in 2019, and the title might suggest the screenplay's main topic.  And it was indeed therapeutic for me, laying open old wounds and old beefs I (once upon a time) had with my mother -- all seen through the lens of a zombie film.  There were times while writing MOM DIED where I actually broke down, reliving some of the dysfunction of my younger years.

My interactions with my mother were limited over the past many years.  I last saw her in 2017, when the other half and I vacationed in the Black Hills.  She was in bad shape then, but still living in her own home.  It was clear from that time, although I was happy to see her, that our once-strong connection was simply no longer clear or bright or powerful.

I had a "come to Jesus" phone call with her a few years back, and despite her best efforts to sort of bridge that ever-expanding gap -- the connection was lost.

There was still the obligatory phone calls.  But the magic of our bond was missing.  

I won't go into specifics at this time.  There's no need to besmirch the woman -- she's been gone but a few hours.

I had a dream last night (not sure when, but the timing is more than coincidence).  It was an unrelated "acting performance drama/anxiety" dream, but it was powerful enough to wake me up.  And my heart was RACING.  I had to sorta bring myself down upon waking up, checking the pulse in my neck, taking some deep breaths...  eventually falling asleep again.

But this weird, overly dramatic dream -- could it have been at the same time as mom died?  Is that possible?

Which begs the question... perhaps our bond wasn't as tepid as I have believed all of these years.  

My last call with my mother was probably a month or so ago.  Our calls over the years have become more and more infrequent.  There's nothing to talk about really.  She was ill, so it was always a discussion of her medical conditions, and not much more.  She tried to feign interest in the workings of my life, but it was always so damned shallow.  That wasn't always the case, she was a pillar of support for my artistic achievements when I was younger, but as time went on -- it was clear that she really didn't care much -- at least that's my view of the situation.

The call was about the fact that she couldn't get ahold of my younger brother.  He's been the only one truly involved in her affairs, lo these many years.  She was worried, so she called me.  Not to see how I was doing, but to check on my brother.  The call ended with her finding out that said brother was on the other line, so she needed to jump off and take that call.  I told her "I love you", and the call ended with an "uh-huh" from her, then the call was over.

I've taken that "uh-huh" as a "let me get off the line to talk to your brother", but also a possible, "I know you've been questioning for a long time, if you actually believe that anymore."  

Probably a bit of both -- let's be honest.

So it's with a heavy heart that I say farewell to my mother.  She's not suffering anymore, and that gives me some relief.  I never thought that over these many years, that she had any decent quality of life.

And while mental and physical illness are sometimes out of one's control, many times they're not.  And so as her life went on, and I grew up and I more clearly understood some of the things from my childhood -- my sympathies began to wane, severely.

We have the power to make our lives better, and so if someone doesn't make that choice, I can't spare any positivity for that.

Again, not to downplay issues of depression or self doubt -- they're real and I know that -- but you can change.  You can try.  If you never did, then frankly, that's not my problem and not a burden I can take on.

Blunt, but true.

This is a meandering thought process, laid out in epic Klug "tell-all" fashion.

My mom's dead, and in any grief situation, there's plenty of weird tangents and off-shoots and processing of multiple emotions -- so I know I'm not alone in this. 

But each of us has our own perspective, our own beefs and our own lifetime of experiences to color how we handle the loss of a loved one, or a parent specifically.

My friend asked how I was doing.

My response?  Something along the lines of  "I'm not okay, but I am okay, if that makes any sense."

I'm not okay.  My mom's gone.  In her fragile health of the past many years, there was never a proper time to completely unburden myself or have a true heart to heart.  There were glimpses of my calling out things in the past, but it was never splayed out on the table to be dissected, discussed and addressed.

Kind of shitty when you think about it.

There will no doubt be plenty of additional things to unearth in light of her demise.

Just in the few hours since I learned of her death, I've felt relief, immense grief, resentment and who knows what else?  On top of that, I feel physically dizzy, at one point feeling like I was going to pass out.

The bottom line here is that I hope my mother has found some sort of peace.  I'm no longer much of a religious guy, so I don't know if there's anything beyond our mortal coil.  Whether mom is gonna see her long-gone beloved family members, or if she's just gone.  Whatever it is, she's released from her many demons.

And I hope that speaks for my siblings and myself as well.  We don't need to feel guilt or pity or anger over my mother any longer.

Hopefully, time will allow for us to reflect more keenly on the good times.

Despite what I'm writing here, yes -- there were good times.

Susan Patricia.

I love you.  I truly do.

And I'm happy to know that these were my final words to you.

Despite your rushed and unenthused "uh-huh" to complete that final interaction, I hope you know that -- despite the fact that these words may have sounded forced during so many exchanges over the past many years...

In fact -- these words were always and always will be -- true.

RIP, Mothra... finally.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Mind Over Matter: My Anxiety's Journey Through Blood Covered Chocolate

It's been quite a 3-week + journey since I received a call from my friend Susan.

I was offered the lead role in a feature film called Blood Covered Chocolate, produced by Susan and written/directed by her husband (also my good buddy), Monte Light.

Pretty snazzy, huh?

Except that the call came just one week prior to the film's intended start date for shooting.

Without going into the details of why this came up, suffice to say that the original actor chosen to do the film, had to drop out.

I had read the script a year ago, offered notes to Monte, and then participated in a Zoom reading around August 2020.  Weirdly enough, I was asked to step into the lead role last minute (for the reading), due to other circumstances (an omen of forthcoming events, perhaps?)

Once I confirmed with my hubby that he was good to go (since this quick turnaround would effect him as well), I accepted the part.  And thus this whirlwind trip to prepare and bring this character of "Massimo" to life began.

But with this, it was naturally time for my anxieties to ratchet up into full blown catastrophizing.

The reason I bring this up after the fact (spoiler alert, I made it!), is that I want/need to acknowledge this triumph over my worries and my anxieties.  Over the years, I've been open about how debilitating these things can be to me, keeping me from going out and simply enjoying life.  So it's something I constantly battle.

But now, here I am adding a monster project, with little time to prep, with stresses unique to this situation, and with its own brand of unknowns -- something my brain doesn't like.

Sigh.

I'll go through all of the many bouts of self-doubt (nice little rhyme there) as well as body worries and concerns over not being able to "bring it" to this role.

Again -- in an effort to pat myself on the back and say, "Fuck yeah, dude.  You did it!"

So day one, it was an immediate requirement to get COVID-tested.  So that was prepped for the next day (Monday).  So with that necessity already on the table (meaning I had to venture out into the unknown -- the test, the potential results, etc.), the worry began to build right away.

Then of course, I had to read the script (it'd been a while since my last exposure), memorizing lines, examining the character, finding the arc, marking my script, etc.  All of the things I would normally do to prep for a role.  And with that, there were several high emotion moments for the character... things you can't phone in.  So cue that worry -- "can I do it?"

And the thing is, Massimo is on EVERY SINGLE PAGE of the script.

So that's quite a stresser, right, even with time to prep!

Also of immediate concern:  Massimo would appear semi-naked, possibly nude.  And I would have a love scene with a woman.

Next worry:  I had gained some poundage over the holidays, so coming into March (and the shoot), I wasn't looking grotesque, but there was some stomach pudge to deal with.  Cue the body image issues.

I also have been breaking out on my chest, with a little bit of acne here and there.  And perhaps it's the diabetes, but my skin issues just don't heal as quickly as they once did.  I'd be appearing shirtless on camera, with zits on my chest. So why not worry about that?  I took on a more stringent moisturizing process each day leading up to the shoot, thus addressing the dryness factor at least.  And in the end, I don't think I looked terrible, but the final product will tell the details.  Lots of closeups, yo!

Then (all the while learning lines and prepping) I had to contend with the fact that there would be FOUR location shoot days -- two of which were a 3-hour drive to The Salton Sea area.

So what, you say --

Well -- one of the many issues I have, is what I've termed my "poo anxiety".  I've discussed it pretty openly, and have made it a priority in talks w/ my shrink.

Bottom line, I have a terrible fear of shitting myself -- to the point of having panic attacks if stuck in traffic, or if there is no escape or easy, quick access to a bathroom.  There is something of a claustrophobia aspect to this as well.  Have I ever actually crapped my pants as an adult?  No.  So why this fear?  You tell me.  Again, working through this with my shrink.

So armed with that fear -- which, when traveling to places unknown, is generally pretty damned heightened.  And, these remote desert locations are without bathrooms.  I'll happily piss in a corner of the desert, but what if the urge is to do a #2?

But poo anxiety isn't the only issue.

A few months ago, I realized that my ab/situp work in my daily exercise, was fucking with my bladder control.  There were a few dribbles of piddle here and there -- nothing monumental, but I nixed the ab work.  I even thought I might have kidney issues, so did bloodwork, revealing no problems.  So, it's a mind thing, then -- great.

Poo anxiety AND pee anxiety.  It's a great mix, and so joyful.

With all of that, there was the additional stress of knowing that the majority of the film (not the location shoots) would be done in Monte and Susan's one-bedroom apartment.  One bathroom -- which would sometimes be inaccessible as some scenes would be shot in said bathroom.  And shooting with strangers.  Obviously, everyone uses the bathroom, so there was no need to be worried about this.  I have a bladder the size of a pea, so I'm always peeing.  Never helps that when I'm nervous, I pee more.  Par for the course.

Thankfully, I made quick friends with the crew/cast and so my frequent "Do I have time to piddle?"s in between takes, was never an issue... well, because no one cares but me, right?  You gotta pee, then pee!

And again -- still worrying about learning lines and prepping the character.

Next worry: first day on set, the constant pressure of having to pee (even when I didn't have to) comes into play.  Knowing full well that it's in my head and that the stress is just tightening up my innards and providing the lovely sensation that I have to go -- makes no difference.

I also had to get shirtless on the first day.  Luckily, by the second day of the shoot, I was already well over my personal body-shaming (just too much work to be done).  When all is said and done, I will probably appear in my underwear/shirtless for a good majority of this film.

And while it was only a daily trip to the apartment of about 15 minutes, I had travel anxiety and what can only be seen as mild stage fright -- EVERY SINGLE MORNING.  There's seemingly no way to control it.

And since my call times were (many mornings) 7am, I would have to get up about 4am to stretch, do my morning routine -- which also includes multiple bowel movements.  Too much info?  Sure, but this is meant to be a no-holds-barred examination of what I've overcome in this process.

Adding in to this poo anxiety, I recently switched up my diabetes injections.  It's now a once a week deal, but side effects can include diarrhea.  Great.  And naturally, since this project came out of nowhere, I had begun said new injections, only days before I got the gig.  Sigh.  Another concern to contend with.

Next:  So on set, there are cats (Wally and Robby are awesome cats and I love them).  I am not allergic, but being in a strange environment, with dander, cat hair and simply different smells, dusts, etc. (certainly after a year of being ONLY in my own home), I had the concern of, "I hope I don't get over-the-top allergies, thus affecting my performance or breath control".  During the shoot, I was taking 2 allergy pills every morning.  And it seemed to do the trick.

But of course, any little scratch in my throat meant that the world was going to end, I'd have to shut down the production, let everyone down, etc.  And I also had frequent high emotion scenes, which could require some heavy lifting as far as my voice.  Much to the chagrin of my other half, I would do some solid vocal warmups each morning before heading to set.  Did all of this prep keep me from worrying?  Have you been reading?  Ha!

And then, with some very intimate moments with several of my co-stars -- there were "bad breath" concerns, body odor concerns.  The usual things one might worry about on a film set, but for me -- these are big deals and I simply must overblow their real power.  I mean, why not?

There was a scene written in the script, in which Massimo was to be submerged in a tub full of water.  Always wanting to be a team player, I was ready to do it (not nude, but in swim trunks).  But knowing full well how my body will break out with seemingly no impetus, I talked Monte out of having to do it.  So that was a disaster averted, but there was the guilt for having to ask.  Monte didn't really care, and the alternate chunk worked great.

I also deal with a bad back.  While I stretch every single day, there are things you can't be prepared for.  As I'm writing, my back is still sore from all of the work on the film.  Weird angles hanging off of the bed, some actual minor stunt work in the desert.  Kneeling, grabbing people -- doing all of these things over and over -- takes a toll, and certainly on an old man like me.  So there was a constant concern of "one weird move when your back is sore -- could derail all of this".  

By the second or third day, many of the anxieties began to fizzle.  I was in my underwear for so much of this process, there was just no room left to care.  The good thing is that seeing some of the playback each day, set my mind to rest.  I didn't look bad -- except for that ONE scene.  Sigh.

On top of all of this, COVID.  Everyone was tested, and the crew was always masked, but obviously cast was not.  And while I was fully vaccinated by the time that call came in (otherwise I would have had to say no to the project), this was still a worry, and a valid one.

It seems that when one anxiety would be overcome, something would immediately take its place.  There was never any reprieve from being on edge.  Perhaps that helped my performance.  Massimo IS on edge, a recovering addict and going to some very dark places in his psyche as he goes through this journey.

And even after all of the worries over the location travel, it was quite uneventful... thankfully.  On the first day in the desert, I only peed twice.  Point being, if I'm too involved in the work at hand, my mind has no time/room to worry about anything but the work... which confirms that this crap is indeed mental.

I was able to nail my lines for the entire script by the time the shoot began, prepping as much as I possibly could, had many conversation with Monte about Massimo.  So going in on day one, there wasn't much more I could have done to prepare, over that one week.  And despite that realization, did I still worry?  Ha ha ha.  Take a guess.

So circling back around to why I'm penning this blog -- all of those worries, concerns and anxieties were not able to beat me.  Massimo has a line in the film of "Mind over matter".  And I've taken that to heart.

It seems ridiculous to now worry about a simple trip to the grocery store (shitting my pants, having a panic attack), when I made it through the last-minute slalom course that was Blood Covered Chocolate.  I did my job, had no catastrophes and by God -- can chalk up this experience as not only an acting triumph (surprisingly, I feel I did quite well -- not beating myself up) but a great big "fuck you!" to my internal anxieties.  

I mean, I did it.  

The question is -- how do I bottle that triumph for future worries, to avoid panic attacks -- and to temper my ever-increasing hermit-dom?  (note:  I was diagnosed with mild agoraphobia).  

Time will tell, but for now:  Thanks Blood Covered Chocolate -- you've proven a good point.  

And to my anxiety?

You can go to hell, thank you very much.

You don't have me.

Monday, December 14, 2020

2021 To-Do List Extravaganza!

'tis the season once more.  And so, let me take a little breather and check up on my progress in 2020.  Does it matter that this was one of the weirdest, most stressful and oddball years of my lifetime?  I think not.  I've been running under the belief that this has been my most productive writing year EVER, but this recap will certainly tell the ultimate tale.

So let's get right into it, as we look at each of 2020's items on the "to-do list extravaganza", and how it all turned out!

1) Finish Rope-A-Dope: the feature script I've been working on with my friend Motown.  With a plan to call it "done" by the end of January, 2020, I can anticipate tabs for 2nd, 3rd and 4th drafts.  Currently, there are no plans for a reading or to submit to festivals/competitions. 

How did it go?  This is a big old DONE!  Motown and I continued to work on this, pre-pandemic/quarantine, and met up in person to finish up our final draft (only weeks before lockdown began).  We're keeping our eyes/ears peeled for potential interest on this piece.  So happy to add this completed script to my list of spec scripts.

2) Finish Trip Having begun another feature script of my own (Trip) late in 2019, I'll put this on 2020's list.  Tabs will include the usual multiple drafts, out to readers, reading/reading prep.

How did it go?  DONE!  I had a virtual reading, completed several drafts, including the all-important "final" draft.  This marks completion of my 12th feature spec script -- sometime in April of this year!

3) Trip to Festivals:  The usual tabs for these tasks.  And as is the norm, I'll plan to submit to at least 5 festivals/competitions.

How did it go?  DONE!  I've already been selected for 6 film festivals/competitions, with a few more to still hear from.  Trip also marks the most entries EVER for one of my scripts.  Throw enough s*** at the wall, something's gotta stick, right?

4) Complete 1st draft of SCRATCHER:  Considering I didn't make my 2019 goal of 40k words on this (my first novel), this goal could prove to be quite a monumental undertaking.  But, I've got a whole damned year to make it happen.  So on the list it goes!  This will require ONE tab on my board

How did it go?  FAIL.  I don't quite recall, but I don't believe I did ANY work on this.  So, hopefully, 2021 will see some serious work on this novel-in-the-works.

5) Complete ESP:  This is the feature script collaboration with my buddy Scott.  While we don't yet have a first draft, I've proposed to him that we have the script out to readers by the end of the first quarter in 2020.  Even if that doesn't come to fruition (it's a bold goal), as long as this piece is "done" by year's end, I'll be ecstatic.  Tabs will include the usual multiple drafts, out to readers, reading/reading prep, etc.  Unsure of festival/competitions for this piece, so will not place that on the list or in the tabs.

How did it go?  FAIL.  Not that this didn't see some good, productive work, but finding time to align schedules, proved to be a block to getting this one done.  Not even a first draft yet, I plan to make this a high priority in 2021.

6) Move Penelope's Site:  Putting this on the goal list again, as it needs to be completed.  Frankly, I believe this will end up being less work than anticipated... meaning, once it's done, I'll wonder why it took so long.  (see explanation from last year's list, above).  One tab needed for this.

How did it go?  FAIL.  I've realized that moving this over to give my friend Penelope total control, would require more work than just keeping it up for her, adding items, updating, etc. as needed.  So not a "fail" per se, just a better understanding of time management.

2020 tab board!  Empty pins equal completed tasks!

7) Passports Renewed:  It seems this next item on the list -- is a recurring one for years.  And seemingly one of the more simple ones to actually complete.  I need to get my passport renewed.  What are the chances of some international travel in 2020?  Who knows, but for heavens' sake, I need to be prepared, right?  So back on the list it goes.  One tab needed for this.

How did it go?  FAIL.  Obviously, any and all intended international travel was put on the back burner.  Can't imagine why.  We'll see if this might be an option in 2021!

8) 30k Words on ISLAND HUNTERS: Mentioned above, my second idea for a novel, tentatively titled "Island Hunters" saw an initial inspiration and some beginning work (a bit of writing and brainstorming) in 2019.  My hope is to have a completed first draft of the other novel idea in my head, so for Island Hunters, I'm going to shoot for 30k words written in 2020.  Do-able, but with so many other projects, we'll simply have to see how it goes.  One tab needed for this.

How did it go?  DONE!  I put a lot of work into this project, in the first half of the year.  While I surpassed the 30k words, I've not looked at this piece in at least 5 months.  Hoping to get a first draft of this novel-in-the-works in 2021!  It'll definitely be back on 2021's list! 

9) Read 12 Books:  Made my goal of 10 books read, in 2019.  So gonna up the ante and make it ONE book per MONTH.  How ever will I achieve this?  Tee hee.  Obviously 12 tabs on the board for this task.

How did it go?  Currently at 9 books read.  I mean, I still have 2.5 weeks left in the year to complete three more books.  Do-able, but will leave this unmarked at press (either Done or Fail).

10) Movie Franchise Screenings:  Since my "see every Oscar Best Picture winner, yet unseen" task failed so miserably in 2019, I figured I'd try something else, seemingly more prone to find completion by year's end.  I'm tasking myself to update my education in several well known movie franchises.  Many of these, I've seen a good chunk.  Some I've seen only one.  Bottom line, fill in the gaps on these series.  I'm going to put 10 different series on the board.  The goal is to revisit those I know or have seen, and move into all of the sequels/prequels, etc. which (til now) are foreign to me.  10 tabs, 10 franchises.  Franchises on the list:  The TerminatorThe MatrixAlienPredatorJames Bond (a frigging massive undertaking), Back to the FutureGhostbustersIndiana JonesPirates of the CaribbeanRocky.

How did it go?  FAIL.  I just never made it.  You'd think that with all of the time in quarantine, that we'd have passed this with flying colors.  Of all of these, we revisited the original The Matrix, and never even got to the sequels.  This is a major fail.  Ugh.

11) First Draft of Screenwriter:  A brand new feature script idea, which came to me at the tail-end of the year.  I am hoping to get at least a first draft in on this baby.  One tab.

How did it go?  FAIL.  I barely even remember what this potential script was about.  Not one word, one minute spent on this piece.

12) Three Acting Gigs:  While I've not been pursuing much in the acting world as of late, I'll put this back up there, in the hopes that some fun opportunities will arise.  Three tabs for this goal.

How did it go?  DONE!  I shot two short films in quarantine, for other folks.  I also shot my short film Chair (it's in post) and did a few cold virtual readings and rehearsed virtual readings.  Happy to say I did quite a bit on the acting end during this year.

13) 5 Projects for KSC:  My script consulting business (Klugula Screenplay Consulting - as mentioned above), created in the first half of last year.  I'm going to get back into promoting it and will plan to complete at least 5 editing/consulting gigs within 2020.  Five tabs.

How did it go?  FAIL.  I did three total "test run" gigs for folks, but did not make the intended five goal.

14) Physical/Mental Health:  While not easy to quantify success, I believe if I continue in my current therapy, continue my daily exercise, and potentially introduce some smarter eating habits in 2020, that'd be a success.  I'm not getting any younger, and with "the diabeetus" ever-present in my life and my body, continued steps toward healthier living, can only benefit me.  Let's do it!

How did it go?  DONE!  I finished therapy with one therapist, and started chatting with a new one.  While my diet is still a never-ending battle, my exercise has continued.  I've also taken to (almost) daily meditations to try and keep my anxiety at bay.  While not "cured" by any means, I feel like I've taken adt'l steps to being physically and mentally healthier!

15) Complete Bear:  Inspired by an in-person visit with an old friend and former co-worker, this supernatural thriller (a feature screenplay idea) should be a hoot to tackle.  The usual tabs here: multiple drafts, register with WGA, reading/reading prep, out to readers, etc.

How did it go?  FAIL.  While this script saw some work in the first half of the year, I didn't even get to a completed first draft.  Back on the list for 2021!

16) Bear to Festivals:  As usual, plan for 5 festival/competition entries for Bear, so five tabs on the board.

How did it go?  FAIL.  Obviously, since the script was unfinished, no festival entries took place.

17) South Dakota Trip:  It's been discussed, that we'll return to my homeland for my eldest niece's high school graduation in the summer of 2020.  Hoping for another epic road-trip to SD (36 days), as we did in 2017.  Lots of planning to be done here (if the stars align for it to come to fruition).  One tab.

How did it go?  FAIL.  Um.  World-wide pandemic much?  No massive road trip, but what we had planned was a real barn-burner!  Next year, maybe?  Won't count those chickens before they've hatched.

18) Produce The Chair:  See notes above.  I don't think this will be such a massive undertaking, that it'll elude me for the second year in a row.  Many tabs for this one (pre-production, production, post, etc.), but putting it out into the universe to find completion.  And since I plan to act in this piece, that could be an adt'l tab off the board from the "Three Acting Gigs" task above!  Bonus!

How did it go?  DONE!  So, this is not technically completed, as I've done no work in post.  However, pre-production and actual shooting are done, and that's no small feat.  Which means, I'm gonna give myself a little leeway and chalk this up to success (despite post-production still looming -- that'll be on next year's list!)

19) Completed Unknown Screenplay: Since there were some write-for-hire screenwriting gigs in 2019, and since I always find other script ideas to pursue, I'll make this group of tasks as generic as possible.  I'm going to put in for five tabs -- for five drafts of ANY script (not already specifically listed above).  This could be one of my own, or one which I will (note "WILL") be hired to write in 2020.

How did it go?  DONE!  I conceived of and completed a feature script called Boys in 2020.  Inspired by something I "saw" in a daily meditation, I started this one in May and completed all steps in September.  It's already out to over a dozen script competitions/festivals, with 2 acceptances already!  Much, much more on this project in 2021!

20) Mom Died Rewrites/Steps:  While there is no promise that this project will move ahead in 2020, by placing this here, I'm telling the universe that I'm ready, willing and able to do adt'l work on this piece.  So I'll put "Mom Died Project #1" and so on on the tabs.  This could include rewrites, but any potential steps for this script, will warrant taking a tab down.  I'll do five total, and hope against hope that Mom Died moves up the ladder in the new year.

How did it go?  DONE!  I'm calling this one good.  I teamed up with Canadian filmmaker, Audrey Cummings and we're developing the piece for potential production.  With that, I've done three rewrites on the piece over 2020.  High hopes that this will move ahead in 2021!  Yay!

And so, here's the wrap-up for 2020:  10 DONES (if I make my 3 more books read in the next 2 weeks)!  That means 10 FAILS.  But that's not too shabby, considering how past years have added up!

And, as is the case in prior years, I simply must make note of my other accomplishments (which were not foreseen at press for last year's to-do list).

  • Was hired to pen a feature script.  I've completed two drafts of that piece thus far and am awaiting producer's notes.  There will be more work on this in 2021.
  • I was also hired for another feature piece.  Right now, working on a treatment with the producers, before moving into the writing of the script itself.  More work on this in 2021 as well!
  • Began writing a new feature script called, "A Stench in the Nostrils of God".  At press, I've got about 70 pages on a first draft!
  • Wrote a short 5-page film called Immolation, which I intend to self-produce/direct in 2021.
  • Filmed several video pitches for some of my feature scripts.  Inspired by a "Virtual Pitch Challenge" at ISA, where my pitches for Boys and for Trip both landed finalist placement, I ended up doing pitches for other scripts, beyond the ones I entered.
  • To relieve boredom for myself and others during quarantine, I created "Klugula Reads His Classics", where I took old writing pieces (from all the way back to age 10) and recorded 5-minute (or so) episodes, daily for 50 days!
  • I joined my friends Joel and Ryan for multiple episodes of their long-running podcast, "The Movie Show with Joel & Ryan".
  • Was interviewed for "Voyage LA", regarding my business, Klugula Screenplay Consulting.
  • Made the decision to move ahead -- planning to produce/direct my script (mentioned above) Boys.  Very preliminary plans are already underway.
  • Speaking w/ friends Hank and Arielle, we've decided to work on a new script together, for potential production in the latter part of 2021.  I've written about 10 pages on that piece, tentatively titled, You Can Never Go Home.
  • Wrote a few articles/reviews for Tom Holland's Terror Time.  Still keeping that "film criticism" muscle toned up where I can!
  • Started work on a new feature script (got about 10 pages down) called Say Uncle!

So with all of that (again, a pretty productive 2020, considering!), here's my "To-Do List Extravaganza" for 2021!

1) Finish Bear.  Putting all of this in one number.  This will include the usual multiple drafts, reading prep, reading, protection w/ the WGA, reader's notes and festival entries.  I think I've got about 30 pages done on this, so a solid start!

2) Finish A Stench in the Nostrils of God.  Same thing here: multiple drafts, notes, protection, reading, festival entries, etc.

3) Finish a first draft of Island Hunters.  I don't expect to get beyond that point, but a first draft of a novel would be a massive writing milestone.  I think it's totally do-able over the next 52 weeks!

4) Finish a first draft of Say Uncle!  I like this idea, but with all of the other major projects, I figure this will take a back-seat at some point.  So if I can at least finish a first draft, that's a great start!

5) Finish ESP.  If Scott and I can get our schedules aligned, I want to put this one to bed.  It's a great idea, but we've gotta commit to push ahead.  So this is multiple drafts, reading/notes, etc.  Not sure of festival entries, so I'll just put up tabs for five of those!

6) Immolation Pre-production, shoot, post-production and potential festival entries on this short film I wrote.  I'll be directing/starring/producing.  Make it work!

7) Finish / Post-Production on Chair.  Since this was shot in the summer of 2020, and I've taken my sweet time to edit, etc. in post, this carries over to 2021!  Potential festival entries?  Depends on the finished quality, of course!

8) Finish first draft of Scratcher.  This has been and will continue to be a daunting task.  With no work done on this in 2020, asking a lot to make this big milestone, but you never know!

9) Unexpected Screenplay.  As I've been doing over the past few years, setting aside a non-descript "unexpected screenplay", since ideas come out of nowhere, and can't be foreseen at press.  So the usual drafts. reading, protection, festivals, etc.

10) Boys I will continue to submit this piece to festivals, and will begin work in a "soft" pre-production... shot lists and the like.  I'll fill out this list as I make up this year's tabs.  Lots of things that can be done on this project, before we "for real" move ahead to make it!  Multiple tabs.

11) Finish Hired Gig #1.  This is the script I mentioned above (a hired gig which came to me in the second half of 2020).  Plan to complete this with intentions to submit to production companies for consideration.  Multiple tabs.

12) Finish You Can Never Go Home.  This will be the usual multiple drafts, reading, protection, etc.  Won't plan to submit this to festivals, as the intent is to produce it with Hank and Arielle.  Multiple tabs.

13) Finish the Hired Piece #2.  Plans to complete this other hired gig.  To keep it purposely vague, will put this down for 4 total steps/tabs.  Four tabs.

14) Three Acting Gigs.  As in previous years, will hope to have a few acting gigs fall into my lap.  Goodness knows I'm not seeking them out via auditions!  Three tabs.

15) Three KSC Gigs.  Hoping to again drum up some business for my screenplay consulting business.  Will work toward three paid gigs on that front!  Three tabs.

16) COVID Vaccine.  Not work related, but gonna put this on the list!  A wonderful milestone, right?  One tab.

17) Read 12 Books.  Gonna shoot for this again, since it's only 1 book/month for goodness sakes.  Hoping to really focus on Stephen King and filling in those gaps!  Twelve tabs.

18) Mom Died I'm not sure how/where this will go in 2021, but gonna put 3 tabs up on the board, as "Step One", etc... keeping it vague.  I figure there will be work on this in the new year, but not sure on specifics.  Three tabs.

19) First Draft of The House Up the Street.  This is a big ask of myself, but putting together and self-publishing a collection of my short stories (from age 10 and up) is a long-standing dream I'd like to accomplish.  No time like the present, right?  And I've found a website where doing this in chunks is possible, making it more feasible to handle a few stories a day.  Multiple tabs - making it 10 tabs of 10 stories each.  One helluva start if I can get 100 pieces committed to the computer!

20) First Draft of ULIFTB.  A book idea I've had for some time, I reached out to a dear friend and writing colleague to potentially work on it with me.  She agreed, so we're gonna move ahead on it in 2021!

ADDITION AFTER INITIAL POSTING:  21) Record Video Pitches.  I recorded several video pitches in 2020, for my spec scripts, and so I will continue to mark those off of my list, including some expected completed scripts in 2021.  So that's 6 total in the new year (4 completed scripts and 2 new ones!) So 6 tabs for this group of tasks.

ADDITION AFTER INITIAL POSTING: 22) Video Profile Shoot.  I joined ISA (an online screenwriting community) and will be shooting/posting a video profile in the new year as well.  One tab for that!

And that's the big list for 2020!  Not sure if I missed any biggies, or if I neglected to mention all of my 2020 accomplishments, but overall -- happy w/ this year and have very high hopes for a fresh start in 2021!

Happy Holidays, everyone!


Monday, November 16, 2020

A Eulogy for Michael Klug

Hey friends.  I took part in a virtual weekend retreat over the past three days.  It was conceived of and brought to fruition by my college chum, Dayna.  It was about "Personal System Disruptions" and included frank talk, goal-focusing, meditation and what your legacy might be.  Part of that last bit, included creating a eulogy for yourself... part fiction / part fantasy.  But all about what you wanted people to remember about you.  In essence, what do you want your legacy to be, and what do you have to change to make that a reality?

So.  It was my favorite part of the retreat weekend, and as the other eight attendees shared their eulogies, it certainly became a very emotional and touching session (the final of six sessions).  Intimate and vulnerable, but enlightening.

But before I share my eulogy (which was a great joy to conceive of, write and then share), please check out my friend Dayna's website.  It's all about her personal journey, in light of some very trying times for her and her husband, over the past year or so.  And so she wants to help people, with ideas like "disrupting their personal systems"... indeed, challenging the status quo in our lives and reaching high and far to achieve dreams, both old and new.  But what's standing in your way?  Lots of questions we need to ask ourselves.

https://extraordinaryextraordinary.com/

Keep an eye out for Dayna's upcoming retreats.  I was part of the maiden voyage and I highly recommend it.

And now, here's my eulogy, as shared with the group:

If there’s one thing you should know, or remember about Michael Klug, it’s that he loved zombies.

Zombie movies. Zombie toys. Zombie books. Zombie video games. Zombie apocalypses – real (remember 2035, jeepers!) or imagined.

At an early age, via exposure to the horrific visions of filmmaker, George A. Romero – Michael set out on his lifelong love of horror, and specifically, that of the walking dead.

It informed his nightmares, his writing, his career, his friendships and yes, even his love-life (don’t ask).

Via an undefined, primal fear of flesh-eating monsters, Michael found out who he was. He then embraced this fandom, took it beyond just a hobby and stalwartly followed that path into the darkness of monsters.

The trajectory of his writing and his life (his first short story, completed at age 10, was a piece entitled “House of the Dead”) was simply never in question.

What did evolve from that initial interest, was his recognition, like that discovered many years prior, by Mr. Romero – that the zombies and the physical danger they presented, were wholly incidental to the problems humanity creates for itself – in family dysfunction, civil unrest and poor communication. It was never the fault of the zombies – they were just following deeply-ingrained instincts to consume. It was the humans and their faults which always led to their downfall.

By telling these stories of families and their unhealthy relationships, against the backdrop of mindless, shambling corpses overtaking the world, he discovered his own shortcomings, his own neuroses and his own personal obstacles. Certainly, these writings were a form of self-therapy, but ultimately – these decades of work in the writing field, opened his mind and eyes to the fact that he was no different from his fellow humans: Damaged, but not beyond repair. But those necessary repairs, would not come easy.

So as we stand over Michael’s grave on this blustery fall afternoon, to say our final farewells – make note of the fact that those muted knocks from within this casket – are nothing to worry about, for it was Michael’s last wish that he be the very first human to actually return as one of the undead. That’s why cremation was simply not an option.

But have no fear. He won’t be out to feast on your flesh, or to pry into your skull for some juicy brains. No – he just wants to add some additional time to his clock of existence to watch more zombie films, to pay further tribute at the altar of Mr. Romero, and to take some adt’l deep dives into his own zombie fiction, now armed with amazing insights into the real thing.

At his life’s end, and at this new beginning, we sturdily place Michael on the same pedestal as his former idol. Taking the lead from Mr. Romero many years after Romero’s sad demise, and continuing Romero’s legacy of the undead and making it his own, Michael made flesh-eaters personal (in every sense of the word) and single-handedly revived this long “dead” horror subgenre.

Michael… as you stand there side by side with George in the murky haze of “are we or aren’t we dead?”, we know that you will – at the same level of productivity, ingenuity and adoration as George – shamble off together into the sunset, “brain”-storming some new ideas about how best to dispatch a zombie and welcoming the next generation of zombie artists, undead experts and flesh-eater fans.

Michael leaves us for this new chapter, having won two Oscars (one of which was the first ever for a zombie film), three Golden Globes, a handful of BAFTA’s and a Pulitzer for zombie literature (a new categorization to accommodate the ever-expanding “zombie storytelling” movement, which he worked tirelessly to grow).

We wish his widower well, as he deals with the daily dusting of their houseful full of collectibles and the reorganization of their palatial home to allow this “differently-abled” Michael easier access.

And one final reminder, fellow mourners. When you see him, please don’t shoot Michael in the head. He’s just trying to remain productive.

Rest in your new undead flesh, Michael.





Thank you again, Dayna.


Friday, May 15, 2020

My Favorite Bathroom in the World

This is not my photo, but is an image directly across from "my favorite bathroom in the world".
I've posted on my "Cheap Therapy" blog about my ongoing "poo anxiety".  That phobia (for which I actually saw a psychiatrist for a time) which gives me deep and overwhelming anxiety, in "no-escape" scenarios (in traffic, as an example) where I believe I might crap my pants, and must then deal with the fallout of potential panic attacks, related to said anxiety.

While it's never actually happened (knock on wood), it's something I continue to deal with.  Although, in the current pandemic/quarantine, it's become less of an issue, as I'm at home, going out only once every two weeks for supplies.  There's simply no place or necessity for this particular phobia at this time.  That being said, these infrequent trips to the grocery store in this "new normal", still sees some bits of "poo anxiety", and perhaps at a more heightened level.  I mean, with businesses closed, there are far fewer "pit stops" available, should the need arise to expel my bowels, right?  No winning, here.

I was reminded of my favorite public restroom in the world (the little that I've explored), when the announcements began to pour in that Vegas, and indeed, some of the Caesars properties were preparing to slowly/safely reopen.

Having dealt with my "poo anxiety" for so many years now, it's become clear that places like malls or amusement parks, and indeed casinos - are a safe haven for my ridiculous (but very real) poo anxieties.

And that clearly comes from the fact that bathrooms in such large public places are at a premium.  If I feel the need to go #2, there's a restroom every three steps.

I have honestly come to the conclusion that this is one of the main reasons why I so adore my time on the Las Vegas strip.  Yes, I love gambling, people-watching, the Vegas vibe.

But is it even more important that I don't have to focus on the needs of my bowels in a public place?

Anyway, I wanted to share these insights about my favorite bathroom in the world (per the entry's title).

One of the traditions my other half and I follow while in Vegas -- whether we're staying at Flamingo, Harrah's, Bally's, Planet Hollywood, Paris, Caesar's Palace, Cromwell or Linq (we're strictly Caesar's property folks, cuz that's where we get the freebies and the deals) -- almost every morning of our stay, we'll frequent the Denny's on the strip (w/in Casino Royale) for breakfast.  And yes, I do so love Denny's coffee, and it's a cheap meal.

Part of our tradition, following breakfast, is to walk across the strip to and past The Mirage and make our way to The Forum Shops for a little browsing/buying -- it's also a tradition that I'll stop at the Magnet Maximus and pick up three fun/goofy magnets (part of that shop's ongoing deals) to further expand that collection in my home.

As we work our way through The Forum Shops, it's inevitable that my morning Denny's coffee, will put my bowels into high alert.  It's a common reaction to coffee, yo.

So rather than take advantage of the many public restrooms stuck in among the high end shops, I'll try and hold it.  Because once we cross over from The Forum Shops into The Forum Casino of Caesar's Palace - I'm but a few steps away from my favorite bathroom in the world.

Directly across from The Colosseum, situated between several banks of slot machines and bill-changers, there's a sign proclaiming, "Restrooms".  But where?  Well, they're on the level below the casino.  An up escalator and a down escalator.  No stairs.  Once you reach that lower level, you'll pass by a shoe-shine stop.

And inside (the men's room, at least), the stalls are set apart from the urinals and sinks.  And generally, it's never terribly packed.

I find an immense sense of relief as I sit my butt down on the toilet.  And not just because I can "let go", but there's a glorious sense (I've experienced it countless times while using this particular restroom) of anticipation, relaxation and excitement.

Weird?  Sure, but here's why.

It's usually at this point, as I descend the escalator, that the other half and I will part ways for the day.  He likes to walk the strip, while I like to stay inside and wander the properties, gambling here and there, shopping, etc.  Knowing that we'll meet up later for an early dinner at The Laurel Lounge in Caesar's Palace.

But as I sit there on the head, I love the fact that the day will take me where it takes me.  It's a calm, non-busy restroom.  My wallet's full of cash (generally, dependent upon how I did at the slots the night before).  The entire day of gambling and wandering is ahead of me.

It must be noted that if we have obligations in the form of meeting someone else for dinner, or going to see a show (I HATE obligations in Vegas), that there is some anxiety.  I want to wander the strip, all day, every day.  Sure, I love the shows, but knowing that if I find a slot machine that pays and I wanna sit there for hours, that I can.

The relaxation I feel while sitting on the toilet of that bathroom on the lower level of The Forum Casino in Caesar's Palace - is just the best feeling.

Hard to explain, apparently.  But this is my favorite bathroom in the world, and my favorite moments of relaxation, in my anxiety (poo and otherwise) filled mind/brain/life.

And yes, in this quarantine, I'm ITCHING to go back to Vegas, to this oddly relaxing environment, and to my favorite bathroom in the world.

I won't be making a trip to Vegas anytime in the near future, but knowing that Vegas and indeed this bathroom, are ultimate relaxers -- sure makes it seem like bliss right now.


Saturday, December 28, 2019

2020 To-Do List Extravaganza!


It's that time again already?  Sheesh!

As is always the case, let's examine my entire 2019 list -- figure out the high successes and the lowly failures.  Obviously, with my patented tab board, I have a good idea on my progress throughout the year, but as 2019 comes to a close, all will be revealed.

So here are my last year's tasks, followed by a brief explanation as well as a stamp of "FAIL" or "DONE".  Let's do it!

1) "Sid's Apple Rewrite (s)" -- In anticipation of completion of my 10th feature spec script in 2019, I have been toying with the idea of marking that milestone, by returning to my very first screenwriting experiment, the feature spec "Sid's Apple".  It's near and dear to my heart, but I've not revisited it in a long time.  Which means, I've developed significantly as a writer since I first started on that project about 15 years ago.  So I've no doubt it's gonna be rough as hell!  But I do still believe in the story itself.  And I loved the characters.  I'm putting this on my list -- to include on the "tabs board", the usual.  But since it's already past the multiple drafts arena, I'll reckon it needs 3 drafts to bring it up to speed.  This includes one new rewrite, out to readers for notes, one adt'l rewrite (post notes) and then a reading (as well as the planning stages) and then a final rewrite before submissions to festivals.

How did it go?  Yeah.  No.  Nothing.  No need to discuss this one any further.  Stamp it with a big ol' FAIL.  With all of the other projects I see happening in 2020, I think Sid's Apple will remain safely in retirement.

2) "Sid's Apple" to Festivals -- I submitted the script way back when, to one lone festival (it got nowhere).  This will be a fun experiment.  Looking forward to it -- anticipating 5 festival entries for this property.


How did it go?  Well, based on #1's fail, I certainly would not be entering festivals with a script which received no attention, right?  FAIL.

3) Unnamed Project -- This was heavy on my list in 2018, and will hopefully continue to receive attention in the new year.  I've no confirmation on that, and certainly can't discuss details -- but I'm putting it on the "tabs board" for an adt'l 5 vague steps -- listed simply as "Unnamed Project Step 1" and so on, as I obviously don't know exactly how many incarnations (if any) may materialize.  Hopefully this exciting write-for-hire gig will come to full fruition in 2019.

How did it go?  This project saw no action, but not due to me.  The "biz" is a slow one, for sure.  While I am still in contact with the producers, this piece didn't move ahead in 2019.  So will let this one rest, until the time comes for it to explode in great successes!  However, FAIL

4) Passports Renewed -- As in previous years, this has been on the back burner.  This year, it must get done (hopefully because it has to -- see #3 on the to-do list).

How did it go?  Nope.  FAIL.

5) Produce "The Chair" -- This is a short story/monologue I wrote and performed in high school.  I've often looked back on it with great pride.  And I think, with some reworking, it could make a helluva short film.  So with multiple steps (including rewrites, pre-production, production and post -- as well as potential festival entries), this will be a big project in 2019.  I plan to produce and act in the one-man piece (I've a director in mind and have already reached out -- there is interest).  Fingers crossed.  This could be an interesting process.  And goodness knows I need the experience and the reel fodder.

How did it go?  While I chatted with two producer/director friends, even did some rewrites on the piece, it did not come to fruition.  Perhaps in 2020, it'll find its way to done, but for 2019, FAIL.

6) The Costume People -- As this was optioned in 2018, and 3 adt'l rewrites completed (as well as a second table read), I'm hoping this will come to fruition in 2019.  And since there will be dozens and dozens of steps involved, I'll have to figure a smart way to put it up on the "tabs board".  Perhaps several vague "Step 1", and so on.  We'll see.  But I have a feeling The Costume People will be a high priority in the new year!


How did it go?  Sadly, the piece was not re-optioned (that was a possibility) and remains un-produced.  But, if you are interested (my avid readers of 4), it's once again available to option/buy!  :)  FAIL.

7) New Feature Spec Completed -- As is my new smart way to tackle this, I'll not suggest any particular property to be done.  Whatever strikes my fancy... that's the way to go.  And so on the "tabs board", we'll have the usual multiple drafts, out to readers for notes, prep for reading, reading, etc

How did it go?  Rousing success on many fronts.  My 10th feature spec, Mom Died was completed (many drafts) and protected.  I held a reading and the script was done by mid-year.  DONE.

8) New Feature Spec Script to Festivals -- Whichever script this turns out to be, planning for 5 festival entries.

How did it go?  I submitted to several festivals, and am pleased to say that I placed in five separate festivals/competitions.  Official Selection at FilmQuest, Semi-Finalist at Screamfest, Semi-Finalist at Table Read My Screenplay: Austin, Top 13 Finalist at Nightmares Film Festival -- and I'm thrilled to say that I WON the Horror Genre competition at Creative Screenwriting.  While I've placed in several competitions over the years, I've never actually WON something, so this was another screenwriting milestone.

Also on the Mom Died front, it's out to several interested producers at the moment.  High hopes mixed with realistic expectations -- swirling about right now.  Fingers crossed that Mom Died will make some progress toward a sale and eventual production in 2020.  DONE.

9) 2nd New Feature Spec Completed -- Since I'm taking journalism and film criticism off of my plate, there's absolutely no reason that I can't complete 2 (that's TWO) feature scripts within the one year.  And so #9 here, is an exact replica of #7 above. 

How did it go?  While I worked on two adt'l features (both collaborations), and made some good headway, I did NOT complete a second feature script (see notes below on my progress on those two pieces).  But as far as "completed", that's a FAIL.

10) 2nd New Feature Spec Script to Festivals -- Whichever SECOND script this turns out to be, planning for 5 festival entries.

How did it go?  No completed script, no festivals.  FAIL.

11) Lose another 20 lbs. -- I've done quite well in 2018, including a steady stream of workouts beginning at the year's mid-point.  Of course, travel, sickness and schedules have not allowed me to be perfect all of this half year, but I've done quite well.  At press, I'm down to just below 190, and I think I could use a few more off of the old gut.  If I can get back to my semi-ingrained regiment, I would love to lose those last pounds, and then start building back up with some muscle.  I've so got this.

How did it go?  I didn't lose the pounds, but can't feel bad.  I've been working out practically everyday, since mid-2018.  I'm building muscle as well, which weighs more than flab, right?  So the fact that I didn't LOSE pounds -- well, I'm not gonna worry about it.  As is, I'm hovering right around 190 lbs. at the moment, so I'll take this as a win, although technically, it's a FAIL.

12) New Headshots -- Self-explanatory.  Old ones are now over 2 years old.  Make it so.

How did it go?  While I didn't get a complete session, I did get some lovely new shots from my buddy, Vanessa.  So, DONE.

13) Read 10 Books -- Shouldn't have to put this here, as it should be a given.  But I want to hold myself to it.  And with stress levels high this year (and my inability to handle it properly), I need some way to keep my blood pressure down.  And reading is an obvious escape.  So it finds its way onto this massive to-do list.

How did it go?  At press, I still have one book left to read, but will easily complete it before year's end.  Gonna repeat this one in 2020!  DONE.

14) 3 Acting Gigs -- While I only did one of the three acting gigs I wanted to -- in 2018, it was a feature film role and it was a blast.  So not gonna be too pissy about that.  :)  Three tabs on the board, three acting gigs in 2019 -- feature films, short films or stage plays.  It's all good.

How did it go?  One.  Only one.  And while I loved helping out my friend Katherine, with a small role in her new short, I literally was on set for probably half hour.  Still, it counts.  But, that is only one of three intended acting gigs.  Soooo... FAIL.

15) Watch All Best Picture Winners -- As I won't be reviewing films this year, I'd like to get back to watching movies for the simple pleasure of it.  I've going to attempt to watch every Best Picture Oscar winner (those I've not seen, of course) and fill in those gaps in my movie education.  Goodness knows HOW I'll work out these tasks on my patented tab board. 

How did it go?  All best intentions were laid.  I cut out tabs for each of the 48 films yet to be seen.  And when all was said and done, I watched FOUR of the 48 films.  While I'm thrilled to have seen classics and further educated myself cinematically, this is a giant FAIL.


16) 40k Words on "Scratcher" -- Putting this back on the list.  Would love to really push forward on this first novel.  Perhaps with no journalism on the to-do list, this might be more plausible.

How did it go?  Years past, this piece saw NO work of any kind.  While I ultimately didn't make this goal, I did put in a lot of work on this in 2019, writing almost 18,000 words over multiple chapters.  I filled out a lot of character histories and am getting a stronger idea of where the story is going, including working on an outline.  So happy to have done some work, but didn't reach 40k words.  So FAIL. But expect to see plenty of goals on this for 2020.


17) Book of Movie Reviews -- Depending on legalities/technicalities, I'd like to put together a physical book of my 400 or so reviews from the past 4 years.  It'd be relatively simple (he says now), since they're all written.  We'll see how this goes.  Not sure how I'd make my tabs for the board, as I don't have any idea of how many actual steps it might take.  And with my retirement from film criticism, this would be a good way to "bookend" this experience.  Ahem.

How did it go? 
Nothing.  Not sure this will ever see the light of day, based on potential legal questions.  No repeat on this for next year's list.  FAIL.

18) Apartment Updates -- We've been in our current apartment for close to a decade.  And there are things we can do to gussy it up a bit.  We're thinking about new tile in the kitchen and bathroom and perhaps some new carpet in the bedroom.  There are plenty of other things we want to do, so this task's presence on the "tabs board" might be wishy-washy.  We'll see how it develops.  Putting up 5 total tabs on my board -- for this arena.

How did it go?  Clocked in 4 of the 5 intended projects (took the tabs down), but missed the fifth and final.  But of course, plenty of other projects happened (one I wouldn't consider as "major").  But if I'm being technical, FAIL.

19) "House Up the Street" Update -- While there was some legit work done on this project in 2018, not near as much as I would have liked.  Putting this back on the list... will determine (down the road) how to handle the tabs.  It's all of my short stories and poetry, etc. from writings dating back to 1984.  I wanna put them all in one place!

How did it go?  Not even the slightest looky-loo at this massive project.  Remains to be seen if it'll find a spot on 2020's list.  FAIL.

20) Move Penelope's Site -- Didn't get to this in 2018, but must still work toward its completion.  I built and manage a website for actress Penelope Sudrow.  But I need to find a way to get it into her control, as I don't feel I have the time to give it the attention it requires.

How did it go?  Nope.  Didn't happen.  FAIL.  But expect to see this on 2020's list.

21) Home / House -- Still holding out hope that we'll be able to leave behind communal living and move into our own single family home.  Perhaps 2019 will be the year this happens.

How did it go?  Still in our same apartment, but the hope always remains that we'll find a more permanent and more separated living situation.  But, as seen above, we did do many improvements to our little corner of the world, so adt'l happiness there.  :)  FAIL.

22) International Travel -- Of course, I need to get the passport in order (see above).  I've never been anywhere, and my other half is a seasoned world traveler.  It's time to expand my world horizons.  Why not make it happen in 2019?

How did it go?  Plenty of travel in 2019, but nothing international.  Perhaps in 2020?  FAIL.

23) De-stress -- This is a bit enigmatic.  But it's become clear that I no longer handle stress well.  So I need to find a way to keep my blood pressure and neurotic worrying to a minimum.  Find a new way to meditate perhaps?  Or a new exercise regiment to include more calming yoga?  This remains to be seen, and certainly will be difficult to quantify come year's end -- whether success was reached or not -- but it's a necessary thing for me to take on in 2019.

How did it go?  I'm gonna mark this as DONE.  Reason being, I finally reached out to a mental health professional, to deal with my (sometimes) crippling anxiety.  While it was toward year's end when I finally began therapy, it's a beginning nonetheless.  While I'm not necessarily less-stressed (a big event happened toward year's end, which did a number on my already heightened anxieties), the fact that I'm trying to handle it and am receiving treatment -- it's a win.

NOT ON THE LIST, BUT OTHER STUFF I DID IN 2019:

But -- as is the norm for my To-Do List Extravaganzas, there are plenty of other projects (which I did not foresee at the year's start) which will need to be addressed and recognized.  Just because I didn't get some specifics done, doesn't mean I was lazing around (at least not all of the time!)  :)

In August, via a friend of a friend, I got a write-for-hire gig -- crafting a feature screenplay.  This entire process (contract negotiations, drafts, notes, etc.) took about three months.  Ultimately, I'm happy w/ how the script turned out, I was paid and completed three drafts.  Where it goes from here?  Well, we shall see.  Bottom line, I got paid to write an entire feature screenplay.  That's a career milestone for sure.

I spent a good deal of time on two feature screenplay collaborations (as mentioned above) -- throughout the year.  One with my friend Scott, and one with my friend Motown.  The script with Scott has seen a lot of action, but we're not yet close to a first draft.  The script with Motown, we've completed a first draft and are currently working draft two.  We're hoping for completion of this project, by the end of January 2020.  Expect to see BOTH of these projects on my 2020 task list!

Throughout the year, I reviewed a few films for Tom Holland's Terror Time (part of my "soft retirement" from film criticism) and was called back to Horror Freak News in October, to cover Screamfest for my 6th consecutive year.  I watched pretty much everything at the fest and wrote 9 articles to document it all.

I'm at the very bare beginnings of a new feature screenplay (currently titled "Bear") -- based on a story told to me by friend Liz.  This project will be on 2020's list.

I've also begun another feature screenplay called "Trip" (in the beginning of December).  This will also be on the task list for 2020.

I also had inspirations on several other writing projects, including an idea for another novel called Island Hunters (done a bit of writing and brainstorming) and the latest -- another feature script idea, pilfered from a detailed dream.

I was also contacted about another write-for-hire gig.  There have been discussions, but no contract as of yet.  I hope to see this come to fruition in 2020.

And finally, in 2019, I started a new business (creating the website, design, products, etc.) for Klugula Screenplay Consulting.  It's meant to offer feedback and script/story/editing services to writers, working on their feature or short screenplays.  While it's gotten good feedback, it's not exactly taken off.  But I plan to double down in 2020 and absolutely see it thrive.

End of 2019.  Empty pins = DONE.  
With all of this examination, I only came up with 5 "DONE" and the remainder of these tasks landed in the "FAIL" pile.  Wait, didn't I change "Fail" to "Undone" last year?  Hmmm... I'll be sure to make that the norm for 2021's list.  Sounds much nicer.

So with the 2019 recap, let's see what's in store for 2020.  (note: while I went over my usual 20 item quota in 2019, I plan to stick with the usual 20 items for this incarnation).

1) Finish Rope-A-Dope: the feature script I've been working on with my friend Motown.  With a plan to call it "done" by the end of January, 2020, I can anticipate tabs for 2nd, 3rd and 4th drafts.  Currently, there are no plans for a reading or to submit to festivals/competitions.  

2) Finish Trip Having begun another feature script of my own (Trip) late in 2019, I'll put this on 2020's list.  Tabs will include the usual multiple drafts, out to readers, reading/reading prep.

3) Trip to Festivals:  The usual tabs for these tasks.  And as is the norm, I'll plan to submit to at least 5 festivals/competitions.

4) Complete 1st draft of SCRATCHER:  Considering I didn't make my 2019 goal of 40k words on this (my first novel), this goal could prove to be quite a monumental undertaking.  But, I've got a whole damned year to make it happen.  So on the list it goes!  This will require ONE tab on my board.

5) Complete ESP:  This is the feature script collaboration with my buddy Scott.  While we don't yet have a first draft, I've proposed to him that we have the script out to readers by the end of the first quarter in 2020.  Even if that doesn't come to fruition (it's a bold goal), as long as this piece is "done" by year's end, I'll be ecstatic.  Tabs will include the usual multiple drafts, out to readers, reading/reading prep, etc.  Unsure of festival/competitions for this piece, so will not place that on the list or in the tabs.

6) Move Penelope's Site:  Putting this on the goal list again, as it needs to be completed.  Frankly, I believe this will end up being less work than anticipated... meaning, once it's done, I'll wonder why it took so long.  (see explanation from last year's list, above).  One tab needed for this.

7) Passports Renewed:  It seems this next item on the list -- is a recurring one for years.  And seemingly one of the more simple ones to actually complete.  I need to get my passport renewed.  What are the chances of some international travel in 2020?  Who knows, but for heavens' sake, I need to be prepared, right?  So back on the list it goes.  One tab needed for this.

8) 30k Words on ISLAND HUNTERS: Mentioned above, my second idea for a novel, tentatively titled "Island Hunters" saw an initial inspiration and some beginning work (a bit of writing and brainstorming) in 2019.  My hope is to have a completed first draft of the other novel idea in my head, so for Island Hunters, I'm going to shoot for 30k words written in 2020.  Do-able, but with so many other projects, we'll simply have to see how it goes.  One tab needed for this.

9) Read 12 Books:  Made my goal of 10 books read, in 2019.  So gonna up the ante and make it ONE book per MONTH.  How ever will I achieve this?  Tee hee.  Obviously 12 tabs on the board for this task.

10) Movie Franchise Screenings:  Since my "see every Oscar Best Picture winner, yet unseen" task failed so miserably in 2019, I figured I'd try something else, seemingly more prone to find completion by year's end.  I'm tasking myself to update my education in several well known movie franchises.  Many of these, I've seen a good chunk.  Some I've seen only one.  Bottom line, fill in the gaps on these series.  I'm going to put 10 different series on the board.  The goal is to revisit those I know or have seen, and move into all of the sequels/prequels, etc. which (til now) are foreign to me.  10 tabs, 10 franchises.  Franchises on the list:  The Terminator, The Matrix, Alien, Predator, James Bond (a frigging massive undertaking), Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, Rocky.

11) First Draft of Screenwriter:  A brand new feature script idea, which came to me at the tail-end of the year.  I am hoping to get at least a first draft in on this baby.  One tab.

12) Three Acting Gigs:  While I've not been pursuing much in the acting world as of late, I'll put this back up there, in the hopes that some fun opportunities will arise.  Three tabs for this goal.

13) 5 Projects for KSC:  My script consulting business (Klugula Screenplay Consulting - as mentioned above), created in the first half of last year.  I'm going to get back into promoting it and will plan to complete at least 5 editing/consulting gigs within 2020.  Five tabs.

14) Physical/Mental Health:  While not easy to quantify success, I believe if I continue in my current therapy, continue my daily exercise, and potentially introduce some smarter eating habits in 2020, that'd be a success.  I'm not getting any younger, and with "the diabeetus" ever-present in my life and my body, continued steps toward healthier living, can only benefit me.  Let's do it!

15) Complete Bear:  Inspired by an in-person visit with an old friend and former co-worker, this supernatural thriller (a feature screenplay idea) should be a hoot to tackle.  The usual tabs here: multiple drafts, register with WGA, reading/reading prep, out to readers, etc.

16) Bear to Festivals:  As usual, plan for 5 festival/competition entries for Bear, so five tabs on the board.

17) South Dakota Trip:  It's been discussed, that we'll return to my homeland for my eldest niece's high school graduation in the summer of 2020.  Hoping for another epic road-trip to SD (36 days), as we did in 2017.  Lots of planning to be done here (if the stars align for it to come to fruition).  One tab.

18) Produce The Chair:  See notes above.  I don't think this will be such a massive undertaking, that it'll elude me for the second year in a row.  Many tabs for this one (pre-production, production, post, etc.), but putting it out into the universe to find completion.  And since I plan to act in this piece, that could be an adt'l tab off the board from the "Three Acting Gigs" task above!  Bonus!

19) Completed Unknown Screenplay: Since there were some write-for-hire screenwriting gigs in 2019, and since I always find other script ideas to pursue, I'll make this group of tasks as generic as possible.  I'm going to put in for five tabs -- for five drafts of ANY script (not already specifically listed above).  This could be one of my own, or one which I will (note "WILL") be hired to write in 2020. 

20) Mom Died Rewrites/Steps:  While there is no promise that this project will move ahead in 2020, by placing this here, I'm telling the universe that I'm ready, willing and able to do adt'l work on this piece.  So I'll put "Mom Died Project #1" and so on on the tabs.  This could include rewrites, but any potential steps for this script, will warrant taking a tab down.  I'll do five total, and hope against hope that Mom Died moves up the ladder in the new year.

And there you have it, folks.  My laundry list of tasks on my annual To-Do List Extravaganza!  Hold me to it, and we'll check things out in just over 52 weeks!  Let's tear some tabs!

Have a safe, productive and fun 2020!



a little bit 'bout klugula...

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Hollywood, California, United States
I like zombies...A LOT.

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