HEY! WE ALL HAD TO START SOMEWHERE: an interview with writer, producer, actor Jim Thalman, writer of The Secret of the Rose


This is the next post in a series of interviews with writers who have had their first films, web series, television assignment, etc. make it to the big or small or computer screen. It is an effort to find out what their journey was to their initial success.
First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r
and check out my Script Consultation Services: http://ow.ly/HPxKE
 
Next up: an interview with writer, producer, actor Jim Thalman, writer of The Secret of the Rose
 
thalmanJim Thalman grew up in the neighborhood where they shot On the Waterfront, the famed Kazan, Brando film that forever changed the scape of filmmaking. His god parents actually met on the set: the deal was Uncle John would get the girls (my mom and aunt) close to Brando if Aunt Joan would go out on a date with him. Thalman’s Uncle kept his end of the deal; his Aunt kept hers; and the rest is history, or at least family.   So needless to say Brando was always a topic of conversation. Thalman’s mother, an avid theater lover, introduced him to the NYC theatre scene at a very young age, but not the Broadway scene nearly as much as the avant-garde movement happening downtown on East 4th St. in the heart of the Bowery. Venues like La Mama were etched into his world with these really tough, no nonsense guys and sleek, sexy girls who were just as tough.
Thalman has gone on to make a living in the realm of stage and indie film, traveling from major cities, and small towns around America, working with geniuses and idiots, conversing with princes and paupers, loving life and kissing a few of those sleek, sexy girls along the way. He resides in NYC where he sits on the Board of Directors for HExTC; A Multimedia Company and has a residency on East 4th St., two doors down from La Mama.

 sub rosa 3

  1.  What is the name of your first screenplay that was produced?


The first film that I had produced was “Roma Sub Rosa: The Secret Under the Rose”, ultimately when the film was released it was just “The Secret Under The Rose”
Continue reading

RANDOM THOUGHTS 3 1 2015


I woke up at 6:00 in the morning as I am wont to do as of the last few years with thousands of thoughts raging through my head so I couldn’t really get back to sleep so I decided to randomly put down my thoughts and then punish anybody who would chose to read them by putting them out there on line for someone to read. It’s a narcissistic thing to do, but I seem to be genetically programmed, like many other humans, to seek validation and attention, even if the way I chose to seek it may actually reap the opposite result.

 

Plus there are some thoughts that can’t be reduced to 140 characters no matter how hard I try (as Mark Twain said, more or less, I was going to write you a short letter rather than a long one, but I didn’t have time).

 

And these are going to be random. I’m not going to bother editing them much, if at all, so if you are going to grouse at typos, misspellings and grammatical errors, I don’t want to hear it. But from this perspective, this is a sort of exercise, to let me thoughts fall where they may without thinking (yes, I know, irony) and see what happens.

 

I think I am secret nihilist, so secret even I didn’t know it, or more likely didn’t want to admit it to myself. The world and universe seem pointless and random and there is no inherent meaning in this vast expanse of space we find ourselves in for some reason that no one can essentially explain.

 

But even that’s not the worst of it. I am a nihilist, but in many ways, that’s impossible. I am genetically predisposed to not be. We all are. Just think if we, as a species really, fully accepted the universe for what it is: an existence of objects that have no value (you can’t even apply adjectives like cold and distant and meaningless to it because all that gives it value; a noun is objective until you give it a description and then it has value and meaning, but the universe can never be anything but an objective noun, objectively).

 

Again, just think what would happen as a species if we saw the universe as essentially what it is: we would give up, we would lay down and die, we wouldn’t move, we wouldn’t eat, we’d either kill ourselves, though to do so is to give meaning to something that has no meaning, so theoretically we might not do that; basically we’d just stop until we were non-existent.

 

But try and do that. Try to treat the world of any meaning. When you wake up in the morning, think to yourself, the world has no meaning. You’d just lie there, because any action you take, getting out of bed, brushing your teeth, sex, gives the world meaning. You’d just lie there and let the world and your existence be meaningless.

 

Yet you can’t do that, can you? It’s impossible. Try it. Eventually, everyone, except for an infinitesimal number of people, would find themselves unable to stay there. They get up and start their day.

 

Why? Because for some reason that can’t really be explained, we are not genetically programmed that way. We are programmed, like all species, to survive, and seeing the world as meaningless, even if true, will not help us survive as a species. So something in our DNA kicks in and we start acting as if anything we do actually means a damn. And we go about our day spending most of it blocking out the idea that nothing we do has any essential meaning.

 

And I find it very depressing. But again, the irony there is that I find it depressing not because it is depressing, but because somehow I have that genetic predisposition to be depressed about it.

 

Not everybody does. Have you ever met one of those endlessly cheerful people who are more Pollyanish than Pollyanna and are so positive and upbeat you just want to become a serial killer if for no other reason you could put such a person out of your misery? Well, don’t blame them, because that is part of their DNA as well. Most people fall on a spectrum of 4 to 6 where a ten is an immovable mass of flesh that is unable to even bathe by themselves, and a one is Little Orphan Annie on uppers and cocaine, but without the downer side effects.

 

What I don’t quite understand is how do I, as a sort of nihilist (I say I vacillate from an 8 to 9 on the scale) fit into the survival of the species. Everything that we as humans do or everything that we are in some way helps us ensure the existence of the species.

 

So how does nihilism fit into it all? Is it that if everybody was so happy and upbeat about life, that if they ignored the essentially meaninglessness of life, that we’d actually be worse off than we are, that we as depressives and nihilists put a halt or slow down the propagation of the species by ensuring that we don’t create so many of our fellow man, that we overrun the world such that only self-destruction and anarchy can result? Are we a brake mechanism of people who are optimistic and progressives who just have no thoughts about the consequences of their deeds because everything is awesome?

 

If so, then I say, you’re welcome.

 

But, god, if so, that’s really, really depressing.

My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 2/27/2015-3/6/2015


My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 2/27-3/6/2015

 

First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r,

 

And check out my script consultation services http://ow.ly/HPxKE

 

nothing sacredON NETFLIX: Nothing Sacred, one of the great, but not as well known, comedies of the 1930’s, written by Ben Hecht and directed by William Wellman. Frederic March plays a disgraced reporter looking for a comeback in the dying Hazel Flagg. He brings her to New York and exploits her tragedy only to discover…she’s not really dying.

 

 

seanceON HULU: Séance on a Wet Afternoon, written and directed by Bryan Forbes, is about a medium who convinces her husband to kidnap a little girl so the medium can find her and become famous. Haunting and beautifully acted by Kim Stanley, who received an Oscar nomination for her performance.

 

 

71OF SPECIAL NOTE: ’71, written by Gregory Burke and directed by Yann Demange, and starring the dynamic Jack O’Connell, is the story of a young British soldier who gets left behind by his fellow soldiers during a riot on the Catholic side of Belfast, and he now has to find a way back. I saw this exciting and riveting movie at AFI last year.

 

 

FIRST RUN and OPENING: Wild Tales, What We Do in the Shadows, Timbukto, Gett: The Trial of Vivienne Amsalem, Goodbye to Language, Queen and Country, The Salvation, The Hunting Ground

 

REVIVAL AND ART HOUSES:

 

AMERICAN CINEMATEQUE at The Egyptian: Ghost in the Shell, Redline, 2/27; Akira, Steamboy, 2/28; Paprika, Tokyo Godfathers, 3/1; The Spoilers, Pittsburgh, 3/5; Battle Royale, 3/6

AMERICAN CINEMATEQUE at The Aero: The Producers, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, 2/28; That Obscure Object of Desire, The Young and the Damned, 3/1; Children of Paradise, 3/6

NEW BEVERLY: The Thing, Runaway Train, 2/27-28; Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down, High Heels, 3/3; The Matrix, Fight Club, 3/6-7

LACMA: Meet Me in St. Louis, West Side Story, 3/28; The 400 Blows, 3/3;

CINEFAMILY at the Silent Movie Theater: My Life Directed by Nicholas Winding Refn, 2/27-3/5

 

 

 

HEY! WE ALL HAD TO START SOMEWHERE: an interview with producer, director, editor David Au, writer of Eat With Me


This is the next post in a series of interviews with writers who have had their first films, web series, television assignment, etc. make it to the big or small or computer screen. It is an effort to find out what their journey was to their initial success.
First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r
and check out my Script Consultation Services: http://ow.ly/HPxKE
 
david auNext up: an interview with producer, director, editor David Au, writer of Eat With Me
 
David Au was born and raised in Hong Kong. At age 18, he decided to move to Madison, Wisconsin, where he realized the true meaning of cold. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison under Journalism and Theatre/Drama, he got a job in advertising at DDB Chicago as a media planner. In 2002, he quit his job and moved out to Los Angeles to study film. That was when he wrote and directed his first short film Fresh Like Strawberries, which later developed into his feature film debut Eat With Me (Premiered at Los Angeles Film Festival in 2014). David is also a video editor by day, editing films, trailers, commercials and music videos. He edited feature narrative films such as The American Dream, August, Eat With Me and documentary feature Body Sex With Betty Dodson. Continue reading

My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 2/20/2015-2/27/2015


First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r,
And check out my script consultation services http://ow.ly/HPxKE
My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 2/20-27/2015
yesterdayON NETFLIX: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, directed by Vittorio de Sica and written by several writers, these are three short films starring Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni, gentle satires of Italian morals and mores. The two are both excellent in all three parts. A lot of fun.
state of playON HULU: Instead of a movie, this time I’m recommending binge watching with State of Play, a British thriller revolving around a newspaper reporter. A politician’s research assistant is found dead on the London Underground and, in a seemingly unrelated incident, a teenage pickpocket is shot dead.
wild tales one
Of Special Note: Wild Tales, the Argentine entry for the Oscar foreign language category has reopened and it is a must see. You must see this film. Continue reading

MY PREDICTIONS FOR THE OSCARS


These are my predictions for the Academy Awards that are coming up this Sunday.  I am now going to make my first change here.  I am going to change my choice for editing from Whiplash to Boyhood.

I don’t expect to do that well this year because there are a few too many unknowns. In fact, I can’t remember the last time there were this many unknowns. So for many of the categories, I’m making some guesses. I’ll try to indicate those.

But the difficult categories (aside from the usual ones of shorts, sound editing, etc.) are best picture, actor, director and foreign film.

Everything else is fairly solid (aside from the usual ones of shorts, sound editing, etc.), though I know there are some disagreements out there.

But here goes:

BEST PICTURE:

Birdman

Yeah, I know, it’s either this or Boyhood, but I think Birdman may pull it off.

BEST ACTOR:

Michael Keaton – Birdman

Yeah, I know, it’s either him or Redmayne or, if they split the votes, Cooper, but I think Keaton has it.

BEST ACTRESS:

Julianne Moore – Still Alice

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:

J.K. Simmons – Whiplash

BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE:

Patricia Arquette – Boyhood

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE:

The Lego…Oh, wait, that’s right, that wasn’t nominated, so…

How to Train Your Dragon 2

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:

Birdman

BEST COSTUME DESIGN:

The Grand Budapest Hotel

BEST DIRECTOR:

Alejandro G. Inarritu – Birdman

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:

CitizenFour

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT:

Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1

BEST FILM EDITING:

Boyhood.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:

Usually one of the ones that is definite, but not this year, so I’m going with:

Leviathan

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING:

The Grand Budapest Hotel

BEST MUSIC:

The Grand Budapest Hotel

BEST SONG:

Glory from Selma

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN:

The Grand Budapest Hotel

BEST SHORT ANIMATED:

The Dam Keeper

BEST SHORT LIVE ACTION:

The Phone Call

BEST SOUND EDITING:

American Sniper

BEST SOUND MIXING:

Whiplash

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:

Interstellar

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:

The Imitation Game

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

The Grand Budapest Hotel

 

 

KING, QUEEN AND PAWNS: Kingsman: The Secret Service, Song of the Sea and Timbuktu


First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r
 
and check out my Script Consultation Services: http://ow.ly/HPxKE
Warning: SPOILERS
kingsmanKingsman: The Secret Service, the latest entry in a comic book franchise, this one with an espionage theme, is, in many ways, an impressive and handsomely made movie.
From a technical perspective, it’s incredibly well done with the best costumes, sets, and music money can buy. It doesn’t stint and there is nothing in this film that is an old piece of tat or is cheap as chips.
The acting is also first rate, raiding the cupboards as it does for the actors who are left who managed to not appear in The Lord of the Rings or The Harry Potter series.
And it has some beautifully well staged and directed second unit scenes of carefully, even wittily, choreographed episodes of extreme violence.
In many ways, those who like these sort of studio type tent pole films will probably find it hard to carp at anything they see.
So why did I find the whole thing dispiriting and extremely depressing? Continue reading