Archive for November, 2022

Today Ohio State University and the University of Michigan football teams play against each other for the 117th time. What makes this game extra special is both teams are undefeated this season (11-0) and Ohio State is ranked #2 in the county and Michigan is ranked #3. I wish I could be in Columbus, Ohio today to watch the classic rivalry game.

Because my mom and dad met at Ohio State I was force feed watching Ohio St. and Michigan football games at an early age back in the Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler era. I remember being bored as a eight year old because neither of those coaches were known to throw the ball very much. “Three yard and a cloud of dust” was Woody Hayes strategy of grinding out wins. I wanted action—long touchdown passes.

And even though Ohio State wasn’t known for its passing game, I dreamed of playing football at Ohio State. Was it even possible for a skinny kid from Central Florida to play at Ohio State? The answer is yes—just not me. My senior year of high school I was a decent enough of a player to be named to the all-conference team. I’m #42 in the bottom right corner photo below. If you look at the top left corner you’ll see #39, Cedric Anderson who received a full scholarship to play at Ohio State. A cruel twist of fate.

And Anderson not only played at Ohio State but he actually held the record for average yard per catch in a single season for over 30 years. Ohio State has had some great wide receivers over the years including Chris Carter and Paul Warfield who are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. (Warfield was the reason I wore #42 in high school.) But there are others: Michael Thomas, Joey Galloway, Terry McLaurin, Santino Holmes, Ted Gina, Jr. And starting today for Ohio St at wide receiver is Marvin Harrison Jr. who is regarded by some as the best receiver in the country. Ohio State’s other standout receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba had 95 catches for 1,606 yards last year.

But with all that talent, and over more than 100 years of football tradition, it’s Cedric Anderson—a kid from Apopka, Florida—who is second only to Devin Smith in the Ohio State record book. In 2014, Smith had a better average catch per season than Anderson did in 1982. (28.2 vs 27.6).

As a nice bookend to this story, I walked-on to the football team at the University of Miami and walked-off after dislocating my shoulder in practice and having it operated on. I then moved to LA to finish film school and called Anderson when he was still with Ohio State and they were playing BYU in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego and he got me tickets to the game. And if I recall correctly, he blocked a punt in that game. Anderson was also that rare athlete who was not only an all-conference football player, but also all-conference in basketball and baseball. He briefly played pro football in the USFL.

Should be a great game today. Go Buckeyes.

P.S. My second connection is my uncle, Jack Wilson, was a captain of the Ohio State football team back in the 1949 and drafted by the Detroit Lions. And a third connection is back in the 1980s I was working for Yary Photography and helped setup the team photo of the Michigan football team when they played in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. It was a little surreal to see Coach Bo Schembechler in the flesh. And lastly, I was once cast to be on camera talent for a Domino’s Pizza commercial that was shot in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I’ll never forget meeting Domino’s founder Tom Monaghan in his office (the only two story office I’ve ever been in) nor driving by the impressive Michigan Stadium—the Big Blue House where the Michigan Wolverines have played their home games since 1927.

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

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Postcard #220 (Springs Theatre)

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

Over the years I’ve probably shots a few dozen photos of old movie theaters in my travels around the United States. They made a fitting metaphor for life. For change. A few weeks ago on the way to see the Tampa Bay Buccanneers play I purposefully took a side street in Tampa just to see some things I’d never seen before. About 10 miles from Raymond James Stadium I came upon on the Springs Theatre.

According to the Cinema Treasures website in opened o December 7, 1944. Three years to the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and while World War II still nine months from ending. According to the Cinema Treasures website, the double feature that opening day was “Tyrone Power in The Rains Came & Linda Darnell in It Happened Tomorrow.

The Rains Came (1940) also featured Myrna Loy and. The movie won one Oscar—Best Effects, Special Effects.Philip Dunne and Julien Josephson based on the novel by Louis Bromfield. Duane received two Oscars nominations in his career including the John Ford directed classic How Green Was My Valley (1941). Josephson received an Academy Award nomination for Disraeli (1929).
As I point out in my book Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles, Frances Marion became the first female screenwriter to win an Academy Award for writing (and the first screenwriter to win two)—her script for The Big House won over Josephson’s script for Disraeli. You just never know what kind of info you’re going to unearth when you finally go to see Tom Brady play a football game.

I’ve never seen The Rains Came, but the storyline appears to involve a love triangle. Casablanca came out two years later and also involves a love triangle. And there have been a few move love triangle movies since then. Nothing new under the sun folks, except fresh ways of telling old stories.

It Happened Tomorrow (1944) was nominated for two Oscars (Best Sound and Best Musical Score). It was written by Dudley Nichols and the director René Clair. And there are five additional people credited with things like ideas and originals. I’ve not exactly sure what “originals” means. Perhaps some kind of original source material the script pulled from.

Here’s the entire movie found on YouTube.

The Springs Theatre has had several lives. A first run theater, a second run theater, a porn theater, a church, a print shop, and a recording studio. I tried the website on the theatre sign and it just says, “We are making something exciting.” So the metaphor I alluded to at the start of this post is that movie theaters, like the movie industry itself (and humans—even Tom Brady) are in a constant state of change.

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

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Postcard #219 (Joy-Lan Drive In Theatre)

A funny thing happened on my way to see Tom Brady play in Tampa against the LA Rams….

Actually, it wasn’t funny but I found it interesting. Instead of taking I-4 from Orlando to Tampa (which is usually slow and go with tourists coming and going from the Central Florida theme parks), I decided to take the backroads. One of the small towns I drove though was Dade City, Florida and I found this jewel: The Joy-Lan Drive In Theatre & Swap Shop. It’s one of the few working drive ins in Florida and has been in operation for more than 70 years.

So if you need a drive in for a movie or production, I’ve done some free location scouting for you. And while you are able to listen to movies on your radio, I love how Joy-Lan left the old school speakers in place.

According to the history page on their website, the theatre opened “March 9, 1950, with the showing of Challenge to Lassie, starring the legendary collie. Admission was 35 cents per person.” That screenplay was written by William Ledwig (1912-1999) based on a book Greyfriars Bobby by Indiana-born Eleanor Atkinson. Ludwig, along with Sonya Levien, won an Oscar for their script Interrupted Melody (1955).

And according to Wikipedia, in Dexter episode “Father Knows Best,” Dexter Morgan goes to Dade City after he father dies. And part of Edward Scissorhands (not sure if it was a scene with Johnny Depp or not) was filmed in Dade City. See what what kind of things you find when you take the backroads.

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

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“The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.”
—James Taylor (Secret O’ Time)

Yesterday I drove from Orlando to Tampa to watch Tom Brady play for the first time in person. Widely considered the greatest football in history, I was hoping the 45 year old QB showed a little of his seven-time Super Bowl winning greatness. And while this was just regular season game, it was against the most recent Super Bowl winners—the L.A. Rams.

And a great day it was. I got my money’s worth. And one of those rare times when an event superseded my expectations. I got to see Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp catch eight passes including a 69 yard TD. I got to see Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey do what they do best on the Rams’ defense. Tampa Bay had their own stellar defense. And I saw a 74-yard punt by Jake Camarda that tied the Bucs franchise record.

But most importantly I saw Tom Brady cross the threshold of 100,000 career passing yards. A sports record never likely to be beaten. And to top it off he led the Bucs to a come from beyond victory throwing a TD in the last few seconds of the game. It was classic Tom Brady. And to make it all the more special, that TD just happened to be in the corner of the end zone where I was sitting. I may never go to an NFL game again because everything after this is going to be a letdown.

It was all the more special in that my dad took me to my first ever NFL game in 1976 to watch the Bucs play. It just happened to be the first home game Tampa Bay ever played in franchise history. A preseason game against the Miami Dolphins. I still have the ticket stub.

Here are some of my iPhone photos that capture the day. From my arriving early to make sure I didn’t miss a single play because of a traffic/parking snafu, to the end of the game. (There were no shortage of Brady jerseys.)

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

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O beautiful for halcyon skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!

—Katharine Lee Bates
Lyrics to America the Beautiful 
(When’s the last time you dropped the word halcyon in a casual conversation?)

On my recent trip to Colorado I picked up a nail somewhere on my drive. Thankfully the tire held air until I got to Colorado Springs which was the only place in several states that had my exact tire in stock. Life is full of little adventures and we tried to make the best of our slight detour. We arrived in Colorado Springs at night and didn’t realize until the next morning that our hotel had a great view of Pikes Peak.

I took my dog out for an early morning walk and found the mountain range framed some sunflowers nicely. The second photo of my dog gives a little better angle of Pikes Peak in all its glory just as the sun is hitting the summit. Getting a nail in your tire on the road is a pain, but you got to keep your eyes open for the silver linings. (Or in this case, the yellow flowers and blue sky.)

P.S. According to one website, Pikes Peak is known as America’s Mountain and “Named for Lt. Zebulon Pike — who never actually reached the peak — and the inspiration for Katharine Lee Bates’ iconic American anthem, America the Beautiful, Pikes Peak is an American icon whose 14,115-foot summit challenges and inspires visitors from around the globe.”

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

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I took the photo of the Gothic Theatre a couple of weeks ago when I was in Denver. It was originally built as a movie theare in the 1920s, the exterior got a modern update in the 1940s, and in the late 90s the interior was totally remodeled for it to be a live music venue, which is remains as its main use today. It holds a max of 1,100 people and is also used for wedding, special events, and things like a live event of Not Another D&D Podcast.

I’m going to put doing live events at these old theatres on my wish list of something I’d like to do someday. I did a zoom talk on a sweeping overview of film history that I’s like to develop further for a general audience.

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

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