Some people blame Obama for the destruction of the American economy. Most people know some of the hardest hits were delivered during G.W.'s regime. I'm either old fashioned or just have a better memory than everyone else (take that, anti-drug commercials!). I still blame Reagan and I exercise that obsession at Let's Fight Everybody with my "review" of Fighting Back. If you're one of the many who think Reagan did magical, wonderful things for America, just sigh and roll your eyes and say, "That Cizak is one stubborn idiot!"
Back in 2002 I decided to write a screenplay using the character from Manifesto Destination, Elmore Johnson. It wasn't really an adaptation of the novel, though there was a sex business/Internet porn subplot, just like in the novel. I showed it to a screenwriting coach who worked at the office my agent worked at. He told me to take out 90% of the politics. I did so and showed it to Jerry Zeitman, the head agent there who had worked in the business since the 1950s. He said it was too political! Mr. Zeitman frequently gave me good advice that I refused to heed at the time. He once told me to assume that anyone I showed a script to in Hollywood was completely stupid. That explains why so much shit comes out of the studios. Anyway, my agent at the time, a guy named Harry Anderson who just vanished one day (I later found out he moved to Japan to be with his girlfriend whom he had gotten pregnant), managed to get the script (it was called Headshot, which I also later found out is a common title for scripts in Hollywood) to Quentin Tarantino's company, A Band Apart. They rejected it, but I held on to the rejection notice because, let's face it, it's pretty cool to be told to go to hell by Quentin Tarantino!
Here's what you can look forward to for the remainder of the year:
September -- C.J. Edwards takes us deep into the mind of a stalker.
October -- Just for Halloween, one of the most imaginative writers working today, Jodi MacArthur, takes us deep into the mind of a woman on the verge of a whole lot more than just a nervous breakdown...
November -- The first of its kind at All Due Respect, a collection of three flash fiction pieces by Marie Shield.
December -- The return of Matthew C. Funk to All Due Respect. Need I say more?
*Remember, all new submissions to All Due Respect should be addressed to Chris Rhatigan.
I recently watched a short documentary on Tobe Hooper. Tobe's a part of that awesome little group of directors who made the most important horror films of the end of the 20th Century (this fraternity includes George Romero, Wes Craven, and John Carpenter) and were rewarded with mediocre careers (well, Craven figured out how to get some mainstream bucks on a consistent basis) and then, to add the old insult to the old injury, in the 2000s, Hollywood remade all of their films and raked in big bucks, never once understanding what ingredient made the originals so great to begin with. That ingredient, of course, was poverty. John Carpenter's budget for Halloween was, pardon the pun, monstrous for that group. He had 320,000 dollars. That probably amounts to the budgets on Night of the Living Dead, Last House on the Left, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre combined (it doesn't, but it sure sounds amazing, doesn't it?) So anyway, Texas Chainsaw was a small film, shot on 16mm in a brutal Texas summer. Gunnar Hansen claims that in the final shots of him waving the chainsaw around in the morning sun, he was imagining cutting up Tobe Hooper for all the hell he had been put through during the shoot. I doubt, however, that Gunnar ever said anything on the set while they were shooting. Mr. Hansen, I'm sure, was aware that they were on a tight, tight budget, and worked like a trooper, giving everything he had, to make sure the film came together.
Making a feature movie is tough work. Trust me. On my second film, Beverly Hills Massacre, the budget was probably about the same as the budget on the original Night of the Living Dead. Mind you, BHM was shot forty years after NotLD. It was a low, low budget affair. Most producers who make films for that little provide the cast and crew with "hot pockets" for meals and, if they're lucky, their cast and crew understand the financial limitations. Not so on my set. I had a little gang of actresses (and one actor who might as well have been called an actress) who decided, upon seeing the second night that we were feeding them El Pollo Loco again, that they were going to shift into bitch-mode and poison my set. Their fearless leader, a no-talent actress who was hired simply because we knew she'd show her tits on film, began to complain about things like 'warm humus.' Now, she was lucky there was any goddamn humus on the set to begin with. Whether it was warm or not was of no concern to the bigger goal of shooting and completing a feature-length film. Her problem, quite honestly, was that she felt she deserved more. She had done a cameo in the big budget film Beerfest (hired, once again, to show her tits on film). That little experience, being a nude extra in a large film, put the notion in her head that she deserved a trailer and a staff of make up and costume people to follow her around and keep her touched up every second of the day. The fact that no such luxury existed made her furious. And so she began to question the producer, then she began to question me. Anyone who has worked on a film set knows that harmony among the cast and crew is essential. If one person poisons the set, the atmosphere becomes war-like and instead of a group of artists collaborating to bring a project to completion, you end up with a group of nasty, squabbling rodents showing up for work every day only because they have been contracted to be there (I had a similar problem on my first film, Mr. Id, which eventually led to my walking off the set. In that case, however, it was the director of photography who poisoned the set. The danger can come from anywhere!)
I only bring this up as a reminder to anyone working on a grassroots-level project to understand the difference between mainstream and independent art. Things are not done "by the book" in an independent circumstance. That's what makes independent art different and groundbreaking. That's the pay off for not, well, being paid off right away.
After a brutal hand-to-hand struggle between ace writer John Kenyon and ace teacher Susan Adams, I have decided to give the contest to John Kenyon. John, send your snai mail address to the Pulp Modern email account and I'll put your book in the mail.
Let me take a break from trying to sell a book I apparently can't even give away--
Pulp Modern has an awesome cover. I have been contacted by a few artists for interior art, I have told them what is up, and then I have never heard from them again. It is getting close to crunch time here and if I cannot find a reliable artist who keeps in contact, there just won't be any interior art in Pulp Modern.
Win a copy of my book MANIFESTO DESTINATION. Rules are simple-- Write a six sentence story about PROZAC. Best one wins. Write your entry in the comments section. Deadline is August 17, 2011. Good luck.
So I reckon the reason I didn't see magnificent sales figures last week for Manifesto Destination at createspace was because folks were uncomfortable with the password, burnhollywoodburn. Great news! The book is now available at Amazon. You may now purchase the book free of guilt over being disrespectful towards Hollywood and support independent art in the process. Amazon lovers, the book is available here.
By the way, for those of you beautiful people who did and will purchase the book, please write a review at Amazon, even if you hated the book, let others know what you did or didn't like about it.
All right, I got all the kinks worked out. My first book Manifesto Destination is currently available here (password: burnhollywoodburn). It will spread like a virus across the Internet, first at Amazon and then all the other usual places, over the next few months.
I've spent the last two months editing it. Even though it was published before, it had a lot of the errors typical of my work around 2001, when it was written. I've wrestled with the idea of publishing it again for some time and I decided to for several reasons. First of all, I needed the experience of working with createspace in order to make sure I could put a decent product out when it came time to release Pulp Modern. Secondly, I saw an interview with John Carpenter in which he defended the absurd fight between Roddy Piper and Keith David in They Live. Carpenter, who is a hero of mine, said that you have to own your work, even if you've outgrown it. There are some elements of Manifesto Destination I have certainly outgrown. I no longer automatically hate cops. I no longer harbor resentment against the ex-girlfriend I depict as a lunatic in the book (though I will always hate her father for damaging her when she was too young to fight back). However, the book echoes my long-standing concerns about various factions in society hell-bent on dictating how everyone is supposed to think and behave. The fact of the matter is, the last eleven years of my life were spent, for the most part, living in poverty in L.A. and making two feature films that suck so bad I can't own them. The tampering of producers and other people left my films without coherent storylines. I can forgive all the other trappings of low-budget filmmaking, but I can't stand having to explain the stories to my friends and family before showing them the movies. I rarely watch them because it's just too painful. Manifesto Destination is the only major work I produced in that time that is remotely coherent.
And that's saying a lot, because well-read folks will instantly recognize the hybrid of Raymond Chandler and Phil K. Dick that exists in Manifesto Destination. Like The Big Sleep or even The Big Lebowski, Manifesto Destination is less concerned with plot and more concerned with characters. You are basically going along for a ride. It's hard to figure out how the ends tie together by the book's conclusion, but I know there's some sort of coherence because I remember making an outline and character graph when I wrote it. The 'mystery' aspect of it gets resolved in a rather old-fashioned, cliched manner, but I think by the time the reader gets there he or she will have been entertained enough to dismiss it.
I think the book is an entertaining read with ambiguities that will invite multiple readings. That makes it a great investment in these troubled times!