It’s not what you think

The First Ten Words by Rich Larson

Chris Cornell, 1964-2017

Chris Cornell died early Thursday morning. His band Soundgarden played a show on Wednesday night at the Fox Theater in Detroit. Two hours after the show ended, he was gone.

For two days, I’ve been working on a piece to pay tribute to him, and it’s been a struggle. Usually when I have a problem like this it’s because I’m staring at a blank screen trying to figure out what I want to say. That’s not the problem this time. The problem is I have way too much to say.

I’m not going to sit here and claim to have been a huge fan of Soundgarden. I didn’t dislike them, I just had to take them in small doses. I was a fan of Cornell. I love “Seasons,” the solo song he had on Cameron Crowe’s movie, Singles. It’s a droning acoustic song about isolation and the…

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Review, Television, Writing

Mini-Review: True Detective, Season 2

Rachel McAdams, Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, and Taylor Kitsch in True Detective Season 2. © HBO

Rachel McAdams, Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, and Taylor Kitsch in Season 2 of True Detective

“We get the world we deserve.”

While season two may not be able to live up the incredibly high standards set by it’s predecessor, there’s no denying that the second season of True Detective  has had me glued to the screen every Sunday night (which was a welcomed distraction after that amazing, but heartbreaking, Game of Thrones finale). Nic Pizzolatto has proven himself to be one of the most talented writers working in television right now, as each episode is a testament to the complex story he has woven over these eight weeks.

Like The Wire before it, the reason True Detective works so well is because the show starts fresh with each season, quickly evolving into a web of intricate story lines following broken people on the verge of foundering as they descend into the darkest parts of mankind’s depravity. While some fans may be missing that Silence of the Lambs vibe from season one, season two is something of an homage to a few of the best crime dramas of the last twenty years, namely Heat and The Departed.

The show may have lost a few stragglers after the shift to a new cast and new plot, but I have loved every minute of this season, almost as much as I enjoyed the first, and I cannot wait to see what’s in store for us in tomorrow’s season finale. Personally, I like the idea of an ever-changing cast and story; it allows Pizzolatto and crew to explore new locations and plots with some of the best actors of our generation, so even though we’ll be saying goodbye to Velcoro, Bezzerides, and Woodrugh — like we did Cohle and Hart — there’s always next season to look forward to.

Agents, Development, Publishing, Writing

Pfft or: The Sound I Made When I Read Through an Asinine Email Sent from a Vanity Publisher

1. An expression of a lack of interest in another persons comment
2. Used to look down upon another.

Let this be a perfect learning example to any writers out there who don’t do their due-diligence when researching potential agencies/publishers.

Filmmaking, The Days Never Know, Writing

The Blind Leading the Blind

Hank over at Write To Reel asked if I would give him a testimonial to use on his site, and after finishing it last night, I thought I’d put it here as well in case there are other writers out there looking for some great insight on their work.

How better to learn a new craft than to study it judiciously? To disassemble, remark upon, and appreciate the work of others who have labored over their craft as much as you have yours?

Step into any creative writing classroom, lecture, or seminar, and one of the first and lasting assignments you’ll be given will be to read. Read everything, as though the world is ending and the only way to spare it is by absorbing as much of its literature as you can.

It can be a daunting task, especially when all you want to do is sit down and write the next great American…whatever, but the importance of absorbing as much as you can from other artists cannot be stressed enough.

I didn’t care about reading when I was a kid. I liked it, sure, but only when it was able to hold my interest for more than two sentences. Unfortunately, that habit of skipping past great pieces of work carried on into adulthood, even when I was reaching the point when, ironically, I needed someone to sit down and read my work; to tell me whether or not I was kidding myself.

Hypocrisy notwithstanding, I sought out to find other writers who shared the same passion, but had the patience to guide me in the right direction. I knew I had something of value, even if it was buried beneath pages of unnecessary scenes and characters, and I just needed the right readers, who could see where I was taking the story, even if the draft they read wasn’t worth their time.

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Development, Filmmaking, The Days Never Know, Writing

The Kids Stay in the Picture

Back in 2002, my good friend let me borrow two books that firmly placed the possibilities of true independent (see: no budget) filmmaking in my mind: Robert Rodriguez‘s Rebel Without a Crew, and Bruce Campbell‘s If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B-Movie Actor. While Campbell’s autobiography was more about his entire career up to that point, he went into great (and hilarious) detail about the events and struggles involved in getting The Evil Dead made. Combined, these two icons of independent filmmaking not only explained their own experiences in great detail, they also showed how possible it was for a group of dedicated people, with very little or no money, to actually pull off producing a feature-length film.

The problem I had in 2002, though, was that I was only sixteen, and my friends and I (in spite of how talented they were — and, thankfully, still are) had even less money and experience that could go towards such an ambitious project. We tried, mind you, but not very hard. The technology at the time wasn’t anywhere close to where it is today, nor as cheap. Our only real options at the time were to shoot digitally (which we couldn’t afford), shoot on film (which we definitely couldn’t afford), or really go for broke and shoot on Hi-8. While I had very little experience then, even I had good enough sense not to go that route.

So we put those ambitions and ideas on the backburner, telling ourselves that one day we’d come back, though I don’t think most really believed that. Despite what we told ourselves, the entire process seemed too overwhelming that I really didn’t think it was possible for us until the cost and technology changed. Fortunately, however, I took away two very important things from that experience: one, that someday I’d come back and try again, and, two, if I was going to make another attempt, we’d better have something solid to shoot.

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We’ve done crazier things…

Well, it’s been nearly a year since my last post. I’d like to say that I spent all of that time doing really interesting, inspiring things, but mostly it was spent working; you know, that time-sink that most of us have to do in order to go about with our lives.

However, that’s not to say some amazing things haven’t happened. In fact, in the past month or so, my friends and I have finally decided to jump into a project we’ve wanted to do for as long as any of us can remember: producing and filming a feature-length film.

While everything is still in an early phase, we are about to start principal photography in about a week, so I’ll keep this page updated as best I can!

Characters, Development, The Days Never Know, Writing

Write What You Know

After a marathon, caffeine-and-tobacco-fueled writing session yesterday, I finally finished what I am now considering the final draft of The Days Never Know. Down the road, there may be a few changes necessary, but for all intents and purposes, I am considering it finished. Once I was done, and after finally eating, I began thinking about just how much the story grew and changed in only six months, so I went back to the old drafts to see those changes first-hand.

Those early drafts were exceptionally long-winded, and had far too many characters. So one of the first changes I made was dropping nearly every character, and starting from scratch. I either combined multiple aspects of characters into one, or just removed them altogether. As I began working on a new draft back in November, I noticed a major shift in the overall mood of the story. The earlier drafts were more about the events these characters shared, but this new version was focused more on the aftermath; on how each were was affected by this one event.

However, another important aspect of the story began taking shape as well. I had unintentionally started basing these characters, not on other people as before, but aspects of myself; the certain flaws and defects that I see. That’s not say each character is a thinly-veiled version of me, but that I infused one defining characteristic of myself into each character. As soon as I realized I was doing this, I had to stop and ask myself if this was the way to go; doing so could easily result in cut-and-paste characters that lack any kind of depth or personality. However, I decided to let this new development ride for the time being; I could change it in later drafts if need be.

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