Archive for October, 2022

I’m going to continue into November with some photo stories from a recent trip I took to Denver, but since today is Halloween I’ll share a passage from a classic Stephen King book about a family in transition:

She went upstairs and into the kitchen. She put on the teapot and laid a couple of Oreos on a plate for Danny in case he decided to come up while she was lying down. Sitting at the table with her big pottery cup in front of her, she looked at the window at him, still sitting on the curb in his bluejeans and his oversized dark green Stovington Prep sweatshirt, the glider now lying beside him/ The tears which had threatened all day now came in a cloudburst and she leaned into the fragrant, curling steam of the tea and wept. In grief the loss for the past, and terror of the future.
The Shining, the last paragraph in chapter two
(And an early sign that things weren’t okay at the Overlook Hotel.)

In the 1980 film version of The Shining, the wife’s fear of terror is realized when she checks on the novel her husband has been working.

And since Scott Beck and Bryan Woods are credited on writing the script for The Boogeyman (2023)—based King’s short story with the same title—it’s fitting to mention they have a book coming out this year centered around their movie Haunt. It’s called Haunt, Screenplay & Filmmakers Diaries.

And while a lot of filmmakers dream of owning a movie theater someday, earlier this month it was announced that Beck and Woods will being opening the Last Picture House in downtown Davenport, Iowa. You can read about it here.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles (The forward was written by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods.)

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According to Wikipedia, the Mayan Theatre ”is one of the country’s three remaining theatres designed in the Art Deco Mayan Revival style.” It opened in 1930 as a large single screen movie theatre. It’s gone through a couple iterations, survived destruction, and is now both a live venue and a three screen movie theater. Tonight you can see The Shining there. (That’s fitting because the book takes place in Colorado. In fact, The Stanley hotel that inspired King to write The Shining, is just an hour and a half drive north west from the Mayan in Estes Park.)

The 1997 three episode TV version of The Shining did use The Stanley hotel, where the other Stanley (director Stanley Kubrick) shot the version starring Jack Nicholson in the Timberline Lodge in Mt Hood, Oregon. i just starting listening the the audible auto version of The Shining, and I’ll watch the TV version when I’m done listening.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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Sunday night I drove through Limon, Colorado (pop. 1,161 ) and took this photo of the Lincoln Theatre. It was built in 1938 as The Cactus Theatre. It’s one of the few movie theatres in the United States that was designed “backwards”—where the entrance is on the screen side of the building. It’s still an operating movie house and run by the non-profit group Your Community Foundation.

It’s a movie theatre that would feel right at home in the old tv show Northern Exposure which was set in a small town in Alaska.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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A few days ago I drove by the Watson Stiefel Theatre and was blown away by the building. What even made it more surprising is it’s in The Wizard of Oz territory—Salina, Kansas. Just a brief unplanned stop as part of a larger road trip. And the only reason for the asterisk in the title The Nicest Movie Theatre I’ve Ever Seen* is —while I’m sure I could come up with a nice list of movie theaters I’ve seen in New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles—I just can‘t think of one that I think is nicer. (It helped that it was a beautiful blue sky day when I took the above photo.)

According to their website, the theatre (then The Cox-Watson Theatre) opened in 1931. The first movie shown there was Not Exactly Gentlemen. (On IMDB it stated that Not Exactly Gentlemen was a remake of the 1926 John Ford directed silent film 3 Bad Men.)

The theatre closed in 1987 due to declining attendance. But at least two civic groups came together over the years to provide major renovations and returned the theatre to its original glory. Renovations were completed just before COVID hit, but I believe its primary intended use is as a music venue. I didn’t get to see the inside of the theatre, but from the photos I’ve seen it also looks beautiful. A job well done by the vision and support of the Salina community. I’d love to see this theatre get a cameo in a feature film someday.

In the coming days I’ll be showing other photos of other movie theatres from my recently completed fall trip.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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Unfortunately parts of Central Florida are still experiencing flooding more than a week after Hurricane Ian hit Florida. Much of that water flows into the St. Johns River which I’ve heard won’t crest until Wednesday.

The lake I kayak in flows into the St. Johns. Here’s a sunset photo of the lake I took the morning after the storm. It looks peaceful, but what you don’t see under all that water in the foreground is the boat ramp. The water came 125 feet inland from where the shoreline normally ends.

I’ve seen videos of homes not far from me that have 2-4 feet of water inside. I asked one friend who does relief work how much damage was done to a home that he’s offering assistance and he estimated $80k. That’s a tough pill to swallow for those who don’t have flood insurance.

After Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi my friend saw many people just walk away from their homes. I imagine there will be some of that here.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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“I’ve lost everything.”
—Same comment by multiple people in Florida after Hurricane Ian

Back in 2008 I was hired by an insurance company to shoot video footage and interviews following the EF-5 tornado that tore through Parkersburg, Iowa destroying hundreds of homes and killing seven people. I took the above photo in the wreckage, and the sign I’m guessing was put there by the homeowner who lost their home.

It’s hard not to be spiritual in times of crisis. And while I didn’t talk to the person that put up that sign, it is a direct quote from the Bible (1 Thessalonians 5:18). I was in Orlando as Hurricane Ian hit Ft Myers Beach in southwest Florida on it’s way through the center of the state. While it was downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it left Central Florida it left unprecedented flooding. The National Record Service said that the storm help make the month September 2022 the wettest on record for Orlando. A total of 22.42″—when the yearly average is 51.” And much of that was in a 24 hour period. (New Smyrna Beach an hour north east of Orlando got over 21 inches alone from the slow moving tropical storm.)

The stories of those in the path of the storm are heartbreaking, including one family that lost their home in the 2018 Woolsey Fire and decided to start over by living on a boat— in Ft. Myers Beach. Looking like they’d lost their home and physical belongings again, they were thankful just to be alive. Others weren’t as fortunate. It looks like it will go down as the deadliest hurricane to hit Florida since 1935. (And possibly the most expensive ever to hit Florida.)

I was in LA when the Whittier earthquake hit, in Orlando during part of Hurricane Charley’s $16 billion damage trail, and drove through Miami and the coast of Mississippi not long after Hurricanes Andrew and Katrina devastated those areas. There are harder times than others to be thankful. But I’m always thankful in times of loss because I know it could have been worse. Then I take stock of things to be thankful for—starting with just seeing another day.

In the 2011 Bastrop County Complex Wildfire in Texas that burned more than 1,500 homes, filmmaker Richard Linklater lost a building and an estimated $500,000 of film memorabilia and irreplaceable personal mementos. He said it made him less materialistic, and added this perspective;

”It’s all gonna be dust someday anyway. It reinforces my notion of the utter impermanence of not only life, but things. Thrift stores are full of stuff that meant something to someone’s grandparents. At some point in the future, there’s no one who remembers the connection. And the same goes for all of our gravestones. Eventually there’s no one alive on earth who ever knew you.”
—Writer/Director Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
Grantland article ”Golden Boy” by James Hughes

It’s been hard to think about screenwriting in the last week. But storytelling has a way of getting to the truth. I was reminded last week of the 1980 TV miniseries Condominium, based on the novel of the same name by John D. MacDonald. I seem to recall a scene where instead of fleeing the storm, people had a “Hurricane party.” That didn’t end well for them. While fiction, MacDonald addressed in his book over 45 years ago the dangers of greed, corruption, and poor planning in the face of powerful storms.

Even much further back than that, Jesus told the story of the foolish man who built his house upon the sand, but that’s a different story/sermon for a different day. Let’s just focus on being thankful today.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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