The Night I Stopped Being a Model

ModelsFrom around the age of 8 to about 13, I was a model. Yes, I once worked it.

Before anyone gets overwhelmed by images of catwalks, raining money, national commercials, and maybe bulimia, this was all local stuff; the work was not even unionized. And, to be honest, even locally I was not very popular. My brother was the popular one. He even had an agent before me. He is six-years younger than me, did a lot of local theater and had cute long curly hair.  He played the camera, I stared dumbly at it.

So in a way, I was the twofer. “If you need an older brother for the cute kid, we have one ready for you!”

The first ad, I ever did was for a holiday commercial for Meijer. It was around GI Joe action figures, and for some reason they had me and this other boy dress in matching camouflage (because boys did that, coordinate their clothing with their toys). And for about 15 minutes, this stranger and I played with army toys on the ground (that was turned into less than five seconds on TV). Knowing me as a kid (and now), the image of me dressed like that playing with that kind of toy is kind of hilarious. That’s acting, that is!

Most of the work I did was around print ads, I would be brought into a photography studio, put on shorts or a shirt I would never consider wearing and pretend to laugh with strangers. Then on Sunday, my family and I would grab the newspaper, and scan for the local ad and image…. That would be followed by phone calls with family, pats on the back and then the ad being cut out for a scrapbook.

I didn’t like being in the spotlight (still don’t to a certain extent), but I liked the check. Sometimes I would buy a toy or book with it, many times I put it in an account (I would use most of it later in high school to buy a new alto saxophone). It was all a perfectly fine arrangement… until the night I decided I wouldn’t model again. Continue reading

Advertisements

Screenwriting 101: What Every Budding Film Writer Needs to Know

Film writing, creative writing’s least loved offspring.

It gets so little respect from the other mediums. Well, just look at the movies—you may say—just look at how many bad ones are made each year! Yet, to judge film writing overall based on a few bad seeds is not fair to the great stories that we have had on the silver screen over the ages. It’s like comparing all literary classics to the work of a few pulp romance or sci-fi novelists.

Film is very different from other story mediums. The limitations are extreme, and many times you will hear people dismiss the medium, not realizing the art needed to work within the strict borders film dictates. Yes, writing for film successfully is an art no matter what your friends who read 1000-page length novels and wear all black say; just as important as a perfectly structured and meaningful poem.

Here are some points I have always felt crucial in beginning an understanding about writing for film. Continue reading

My Six Favorite Comedies

I am a comedy snob.

I don’t laugh at fart jokes or burps, and most sitcoms bore me to pieces. Some of this elitism is because I studied comedy writing and seeing behind the curtain can take the surprise away (and much of comedy is about delivery), my upbringing since my dad introduced me to Monty Python at a young again, but most of it is just, frankly, because I am a comedy snob. And because of that, I have never laughed at a single scene in a single American Pie movie…

Not a single scene.

I expect more.

I expect more than stereotypes, pratfalls, sarcasm, easy parodies, and physical body humor. You can keep your Three Scrooges (even though I do like some of the Curly episodes), I’ll take the Marx Brothers any day of the week.

Here, in all my snobbery, are my six favorite comedies:

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

When the American Film Institute (AFI) did their list of 100 laughs, they did not include a single Monty Python movie.

Not a one.

Their justification is that the films chosen had to have significant financial or creative production elements from the USA. Fine, whatever (even though, I would argue that the films were distributed and produced by a few Americans and American companies), but yet, they included A Fish Called Wanda on the list. Is it because two of the main cast members were American? Should I point out that Terry Gilliam of Monty Python (director, actor and writer) is American?

No, this doesn’t make sense to me either. Continue reading