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’77 was the year young filmmakers—college students, for the most part—started writing me about the stories I’d published (first in Night Shift, later in Skeleton Crew), wanting to make short films out of them. Over the objections of my accountant, who saw all sorts of legal problems, I established a policy which still holds today. I will grant any student filmmaker the right to make a movie out of any short story I have written (not the novels, that would be ridiculous), so long as the film rights are still mine to assign. I ask them to sign a paper approval, and that they send me a videotape of the finished work. For this one-time right I ask a dollar.”
Author Stephen King
Rita Hayworth and the Darabont Redemption
Introduction to The Shooting Script

Frank Darabont did the dollar deal with King when he was 20-years-old and made a short film out of The Woman in the Room. A few years later Darabont wrote King wanting the acquire the rights to King’s novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.

I’m actually not sure if this was a dollar deal or not, but King gave him the rights because he liked what Darabont did with The Woman in the Room, but he also thought the odds of actually getting a old school prison break movie made was a longshot.

And the rest is Hollywood history.

I encourage you to read both Darabont’s shooting script for The Shawshank Redemption and King’s version found in the collection Mean Seasons.  One could teach a whole college semester class just on the Shawshank movie, screenplay, and novella. (And perhaps a second class on another story from Mean Seasons —The Body—which Rob Reiner turned into the movie Stand By Me.)

P.S. To inquire about King’s $1 rights and other questions, visit the Q&A section on his website.

Scott W. Smith

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If you weren’t alive in 1977 this is what was popular before the internet came along:

“To me, The Gong Show was the simplest and most elegant of TV shows. The anti-game show. The anti-variety show. A hot mess of street performers and buskers and B-list celebrities who all appeared to be in on the joke. At base, they dared you to watch, and I loved it. Watching Chuck Barris on television proved to me that the best way to be funny, was to amuse yourself before all others. Those who laughed along with you, became your boss. Those who didn’t, were of no consequence. It’s the truest thing I’ve ever learned in my career.”
Mike Rowe blog post

Chuck Barris—who died last week (but isn’t to be confused with Chuck Berry, who also died last week)—had a movie produced on a book he wrote. Charlie Kaufman wrote the screenplay to Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, where Barris said he was once a hitman for the CIA.

Scott W. Smith

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“For young black horror filmmakers, if you have a script, reach out and I’ll try to help it get made. Monkeypaw Productions is my production company and we’re really trying to promote untapped voices in genre… The reason we don’t see more films about the African American experience is because we haven’t nurtured black talent, we haven’t encouraged young black filmmakers to dream big.”
Writer/director Jordan Peele (Get Out) @Jordan Peele
Digital Spy

Related post: The First Black Feature Filmmaker

Scott W. Smith

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“You will fail at some point in your life, accept it. You will lose, you will embarrass yourself, you will suck at something…And when you fall throughout life, remember this, fall forward.”
Denzel Washington

Full speech:

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I think the American psychologist Maslow said if your only tool is a hammer you view every problem as a nail. And I would flip that and say that the geniuses have very limited toolsets—they have a hammer. And their genius is in looking for nails. That’s their genius, right? They have a very limited skill set but they master it and apply it incredibly well. I’m reminded of the movie The Karate Kid. Wax on wax off. Sand the floor. And then he had that crane-kicky move. And he won the California State Championship on the basis of those three. I’m goofing here on The Karate Kid, but it illustrates a profound point to master a few skills well, and then look for domains when you can apply those skills, and stay out of everything else. Warren Buffett does the same thing with his investing.
Adam Robinson @IAmAdamRobinson
Podcast Interview with Tim Ferriss;
Lessons from Warren Buffett, Bobby Fischer, and Other Outliers
(Starting at 31:09)

It’s doesn’t take much to apply that to successful screenwriters, directors, actors, editors, etc.

Related quote:
“Swing your swing. Not some idea of a swing. Not a swing you saw on TV. Not that swing you wish you had. No, swing your swing.”
Golf legend Arnold Palmer

And a little bonus hammer-themed folk music written by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays. The Peter, Paul and Mary version became a top #10 hit in 1962.

 

Scott W. Smith

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One of the great joys of my decade living in Iowa was getting to know and work with artist Gary Kelley. Here he is explaining his football sized artwork at the Google data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa.  

And these large murals are painted in other Google data centers (the cloud) around the world.

P.S. Gary’s daughter Cydney Kelley is a writer on Days of Our Lives. She also wrote an episode of The Game

Related post:
Kelley’s Blues Concert
Post #1,500
Postcard #32 (The Planets)
The First Black Feature Filmmaker  (Oscar Micheaux stamp by Gary Kelley)

Scott W. Smith

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“The 9000 series is the most reliable computer ever made. No 9000 computer has ever made a mistake or distorted information. We are all, by any practical definition of the words, foolproof and incapable of error.”
Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey

Last week, before I could do a video interview at home I had to overcome various outside noise issues as well as the following technical issues. (These are the actual message.):

flash.pngCameraOpSystem

This was something that I’d done before, so I didn’t think I’d have to jump through so many hoops. It ended up taking hours of updating software and trouble shooting after updating. It was a comedy of errors—full of conflict—but it all worked out at the end of the day. (Actually, at the end of day 2, but who’s counting?)

It reminded me of a Robert Rodriguez quote from my 2015 post Nothing Ever Goes as Planned. Here’s an excerpt:

Sometimes when I hear new filmmakers talk, they talk all down about their film—‘Oh, nothing worked’ and ‘It was a disappointment’—and they don’t realize that’s the job. The job is nothing is ever going to work at all. And you go, ‘How can I turn that in a way to turn it into a positive?’ And you get something much better than if you had all the time and money in the world.”
Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez
Interview with Tim Ferriss

In my case, I upgraded to macOS Sierra (10.12.3) and got done what I needed to get done. When all was said and done I fired up a Prompter People telepromter I hadn’t used in a long time to see if the software worked with the new OS system. It did and and it gave me an idea to explore vlogging/podcasting based on this blog.

The simple lesson is things can and will go wrong. In filmmaking and in life.  (Revelation, right?) But do your best to work through it and look for something good to come out of the struggle.

Scott W. Smith

 

 

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