For those who don't know, I spent a good twenty years writing screenplays and making movies. The very first feature-length script I wrote was called Men in Black. It was a mix of Goodfellas and UFO paranoia. The film would have been R-rated and seriously hardcore. I told an agent in New York about it in the spring of 1993. She laughed and said, "Nobody cares about UFOs." Like an idiot, I listened to her. I didn't copyright the script and put it away in a drawer. That fall, the X-Files debuted on Fox and UFOs became the talk of the decade. In 1996, an idiot from Chicago who claimed to be an agent asked to see the MIB script and signed me to a bogus contract. Literally-- and I mean literally-- the very next day I was informed about the cartoonish family movie with the same name that was in production under the direction of Barry Sonnenfeld. The idiot from Chicago continued to pretend he was trying to sell my scripts in Hollywood. Being a dumb hillbilly from Indiana, I just didn't understand that nobody in Chicago makes deals in L.A. Eventually, I told the idiot to get lost. He asked to see two scripts I wrote in 1999 and convinced me to let him produce one of them, Mr. Id. I signed on to the direct the picture as well and ended up losing about 20,000 dollars on a movie I walked off of the set halfway through the production. Without my guidance in post-production, the film suffered at the hands of the idiot from Chicago who refused to listen to my instructions despite the fact that I was the fucking creator of the movie.
Someone told me I needed to move to Los Angeles at that point and I did. Again, I was a dumb, toothless hillbilly from Indiana. I didn't understand that Hollywood will call you if they want you in their business. They don't like outsiders, especially toothless hillbillies from Indiana. I spent seven years trying to get another picture made while my health and teeth rotted thanks to this country's barbaric approach to health care. I lived in total poverty while everyone else I knew grew up and became adults. By 2005, I had decided to give up on the movie business altogether. I was making my own brand of country music and thought, for a few crazy months, that I would move to Austin, Texas and become a cow punk god. By 2006, I had the itch to make another short film. I shot a three minute movie called Lovesick Blues (the title taken from an old country song whose best rendition, without question, came from Hank Williams Sr.) That little movie, as sloppy as it looks, made it into the first L.A. Shorts Film Festival. It can be seen here:
I used my tax return that year to buy a mini dv camera and started making short films every other month or so. Eventually, I convinced a colleague of mine whom I taught with at Crenshaw High School in South Los Angeles to produce my second feature film. It was called Beverly Hills Massacre and the original script was a giant middle finger shoved right up the ass of political "correctness" and all the Polite Police who espouse that shit. I, apparently, had not learned the lesson I should have with Mr. Id; Hollywood distributors do NOT like radical movies. They have a very basic, bland, "get along with everybody or else" dogma that all movies must preach or they will NOT be distributed. The producer of Beverly Hills Massacre listened to some serious douchebags at a post-house that had not (and still hasn't) produced anything of note and my movie was horribly altered in post-production. When it became clear that that movie was not going to get sold either, I decided enough people had risked enough money on my film career. I went back to doing what I had been doing since I was a child, which is writing fiction for people who don't need moving pictures to keep them interested. Just before I quit making movies, however, I shot one last short film with my dv camera in Koreatown. It is, in my opinion, my one and only masterpiece in the field. It can be seen here:
Both films, you will notice, have a crime element. It's just in my blood...
Six Questions for Mark Westmoreland, producer/editor, Story and Grit - "*Story and Grit* is a home for writers of Rough South fiction, crime lit, and horror. It’s a magazine that enjoys stories with a southern twist. Whether i...
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