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”Storytelling needs a sense of place.”
—Robert Redford

The road to Sundance is difficult. Especially in a two-wheel drive car at wintertime. Because of snow, chains on your tires are often required if you’re not in an all-wheel drive or four wheel drive vehicle.

I’m speaking of the literal road to Sundance, Utah. Of course, the Sundance Film Festival (which starts today) is a difficult place for filmmakers to get their films shown. Because of the high volume of films submitted for relatively few spots, the acceptance rate I’ve read is less than 2%. But we’re going back to the roots today. Long before I started this blog Screenwriting from Iowa …and Other Unlikely Places in 2008, and before what would become known as the Sundance Film Festival, and I think even before there was a place known as Sundance, Utah. Back to the early ’60s when actor/director Robert Redford took a drive into Provo Canyon and up Route 92 toward Mount Timpanogos and ended up buying two acres of land (because that’s all he could afford).

But in 1969, on the success of his roles in Barefoot in the Park and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Redford was able to purchase an additional 500 acres. That is where the Sundance Mountain Resort is located. I’m actually not 100% sure, but I think the seeds of the Sundance Film Festival were birthed at the Sundance Institute started in Sundance in 1981. I think back then, Utah would officially have qualifed as an unlikely place to be a future Mecca for independent filmmakers. This year due to COVID the festival is online (and select theaters around the country), but Park City is normally the main hub for the festival (with many of the films shown in Salt Lake City). Both of those areas are about an hour north of Sundance.

My wife and I were fortunate enough to make a stop at the Sundance Resort in December. I took the photos on this post and soaked in what drew Redford to the area. I’ve been a fan of Redford’s since I was ten years old and saw a re-release of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in theaters. “Think you used enough dynamite there Butch?” In high school I did a report on old west ghost towns and remember reading a book by Redford called The Outlaw Trail. For a kid growing up in a cement block home in the suburbs of Orlando, that old west stuff was (and still is) fascinating.

I always thought of the Old West as places like Colorado, Wyoming and Montana—but Utah is where many of the great old westerns were shot including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Stagecoach. The book When Hollywood Came to Utah by James D’Arc covers that history well. After I graduated from film school back in the ’80s one of my stops was the Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City. It only took me a few more decades to make it up the road to Sundance. Hope I can make it in person to the Sundance Film Festival one of these days. But, hey, this is a reminder that there are all kinds of things happening in unlikely places.

P.S. Even if you can’t make it Utah—and even if you don’t have a car—there are online ways for you to learn from the Sundance Institute through their Sundance co//ab website where you can pay for classes and even watch some free videos on the filmmaking process.

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

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Back in 1984, after graduating from film school in Los Angeles, I decided to finally take the solo cross-country trip I always wanted to take. While working as a freelance assistant photographer in school, another assistant told me that if I didn’t do it after I graduated I’d probably never do it. It was great advice because life (and bills) have a way of quickly altering your life.

So I put my stuff from my Burbank studio apartment into a small storage unit in June knowing I had some freelance photography opportunities to come back at the end of August. It was a wonderful trip that took me to the east coast and back over a six week period. One of the great stops was in Ketchum, Idaho. I remember looking up at the Sun Valley ski area and saying that someday I wanted to return and ski the area that was a favorite of Hollywood elite going back to the 1930s.

Keep in mind this was 1984. That some day finally happened on the last day of 2021. That’s 37 years in the making. I was only able to get a half-day in skiing, but it was a glorious blue ski day after a light snowfall the night before. On the first ski lift I met a man in his forties who been coming to Sun Valley every year since he was five because his family had a home there. I was content to get in basically 24-hours total in Ketchum/Sun Valley.

My wife was able to see the New Year’s eve fireworks from our hotel room, but I was fast sleep after my few hours on Bald Mountain and a trout dinner at The Sawtooth Club where Hemingway used to hangout in his later years. On New Year’s Day, we had breakfast at Gretchen’s at the Sun Valley Resort and walked around a bit to get a teaspoon taste of the world that’s attracted John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Demi Moore, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis, Lucille Ball, and many others over the years.

The bottom line is some hopes and dreams take a little longer than others to fulfill.

Happy New Year.

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

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This Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the States and while giving thanks is always a good idea any time of the year, this week seems to bring it to the forefront for many people. This morning after a video shoot a co-worker dropped by the studio and brought her cool new iPhone 13 Pro Max.

I’m still rocking a prehistoric 7+ iPhone so I was thrilled to check out the new camera. I love the new wide angle feature. So I took a few photos of her and she took a couple of me. So thanks McKenzie for the photo.

Photo by McKenzie Lakey

When I was 21 or 22, and still in film school, I was first paid to work in a studio. Even though back then I was just a part-time freelance second assistant to a fashion photographer in L.A., it was like being given the portal to a secret world.

Art’s studio was just outside downtown L.A. between Silver Lake and Chinatown. Back then it wasn’t the safest part of town, which explained why Art had two Doberman Pinschers to keep his live-in studio and Alfa Romero in check. When Art answered the phone he simply said, “Studio.” It was the epitome of cool. And one of the great things about being an assistant is you get to learn a lot just by observing.

Over the years I been in many big and small studios and still find them magical. I’m thankful that through this pandemic (almost two years now) I’ve had a studio to work in and the flexibility to edit at home when things were shut down. I know many people have had their lives turned upside down during this time.

I mentioned a while back my brother-in-law was in the hospital with COVID. Unfortunately, he died from it and there was a graveside service last week and a get together with friends and family afterwards. There was much to be thankful for as memories were shared, and just that it was beautiful blue sky day. My sister said she was aiming that it being a meaningful day and was grateful that was accomplished. It is an act of grace to be able to experience gratitude in the face of loss.

I could write and never stop if wrote down all the things that I’m thankful for just this year. But let me just point you to a movie that is my go to favorite Thanksgiving movie—Pieces of April. I’ve written about that 2003 film staring Katie Holmes many times on this blog, but I think it’s been a few years so let me beat that drum again.

Pieces of April was written and directed by Peter Hedges who was born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa, so its fitting to treasure that film on this blog. It’s the story of a young lady who is living in NYC and decides to cook Thanksgiving dinner for her estranged family because she’s trying to make amends to her mother who has cancer.

Katie’s character finds her oven isn’t working and things go south from there. Even though it was made for only $200,000 it features an incredible cast and holds up well today because of the performances. And from a screenwriting perspective, it is a wonderful example of conflict/goals/stakes/urgency. And it packs in humor and emotion as well. Check it out and have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Update Thursday 11.25.21

Happy Thanksgiving. Because today is also our wedding anniversary, my wife and I went to St. Augustine to celebrate and see the Nights of Lights holiday display. The historic part of St. Augustine is a visual feast 24/7. But this morning on a narrow side street off the beaten path I was able to capture a not so touristy photo.

Related Pieces of April posts (a deep dive about that film):
Pieces of April (Part 1)
Pieces of April (Part 2) 
Pieces of April (Part 3) 
Pieces of April (Part 4) 
Pieces of April (Part 5)
Pieces of April (Part 6) 
Pieces of April (Part 7)

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

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“When I was a boy, there was but one permanent ambition among my comrades in our village on the west bank of the Mississippi River. That was, to be a steamboatman.”
Life on the Mississippi written by Mark Twain

Many years ago I read where a National Geographic photographer said some of his best shots were from returning to the same location at not only different times of the day, but different times of the year. Then I learned that bigger movies and commercials had location scouts whose main job is to find great locations for various productions. Reading all the searching that the producers of Cast Away did to find the island for Tom Hanks to be stranded on is how you capture the magic.

When I was a teenager and just learning photography I went to Lake Monroe in Sanford, Florida to take some pictures. I was hoping to take photos of sailboats but instead found some people doing hang gliding. Sanford is flatland country so the hang glider would stand on the edge of the shore and his hang glider was connected to a boat by rope. The boat would speed away and eventually pull the hang glider into the sky.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, after a few successful launches I was situated behind a hang glider who for whatever reason did a face first nose dive into the sand. Broken nose, blood, people crying—the whole deal. I was shocked, but got off a few shots. Not sure where they are now, but it was my “Welcome to photojournalism” moment. An editor for the Sanford Herald inquired about using some photos and a couple years later I become a photojournalist with the Sanford Herald at 19.

I was at the right place at the right time.

Fast forward a few decades and on Saturday I returned to Lake Monroe. Maybe just 50 yards from the great hang gliding flop, I saw a vision emerging in front of me. An old steamboat coming towards me. I just had my iphone and knew I couldn’t get a close shot of it so I ran over to some palm trees to have something to fill the foreground. I cursed there being a light in the corner of the frame. I could have cropped or Photoshopped it out, but once I shifted the photo to black and white I thought it added a nice design element.

So while this isn’t the shot I thought I’d get when I drove to Sanford Saturday, I did drive there with my visual antenna alert to capturing the magic if it came my way. I made note of the time and imagine I’ll return some day with my Nikon and a video camera to get an even better shot and some footage. Who knows, maybe when I return I’ll get the steamboat and a hang glider in the same shot. (Though I’m not sure anyone hang glides there anymore.)

The 21st century doubling for the 19th century

P.S. Long before the pandemic—even long before airplanes and cars—people used to travel to Central Florida via steamboats. My understanding is back in the late 1800s wealthy people in the North East would take the train south to Jacksonville, Florida and board a steamboat on the St. Johns River. They would head south on the river that flows north. They would stop in towns along the way and look at the scenery unlike anything they could see in New York or New England. Imagine an era before the internet and even television and being a Manhattan socialite and seeing your first manatee or alligator. Exotic stuff. (You can ride this steamboat by contacting the the St. Johns Rivership Co.)

I’m not sure that era has ever been captured in a movie, but much of the St. Johns River is visually untouched from what it was like in 1875. About 15 years ago I did shoots on the Amazon and Rio Negro rivers near Manaus, Brazil and it reminded me much of trips I’d had on the St. Johns River. So the St. Johns River can double for South America as well.

And lastly, Lake Monroe is part of the St. Johns River where painter Winslow Homer used to love to leave his Maine home and studio in the winter and fish and paint in and around Enterprise, Florida which sits across the lake from Sanford, Florida.

Winslow Homer painting ”St. Johns River” (1890)

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

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A few minutes ago I watched the Atlanta Braves defeat the LA Dodgers to advance to the 2021 World Series. This seems like a fitting time to share a 2015 video I just saw for the first time this week. It features professional baseball player Daniel Norris and his unusual off-season practice of living out of a classic VW bus despite making millions playing MLB player.

I’m not sure how much time Norris spends these days in his VW, but this past season he made $3.5 million playing for the Detroit Tigers. (This article still has him spending time in his VW.) Last month, the 2011 second round draft pick was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers. The short film Offseason was directed by Ben Moon, with Ben Sturgulewski as the director of photography, and edited by Dana Shaw.

If you dig that film check out Denali.

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

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“The world crushes your soul and the arts remind you that you have one.”
—Legendary actress/acting teacher Stella Adler

If I listed all the writers who started out as actors it would be an extensive list. But here’s a short list: Sofia Coppola, David Mamet, and Aaron Sorkin. And there are others that are still known for both acting and writing; Ben Affleck, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tina Frey, Jordan Peele, Sylvester Stallone, and Emma Thompson.

Even if you don’t have a desire to act—and just the idea terrifies some introverted writers—just taking one class for say three months is still an experience that can benefit you as a writer. Here’s what sitcom writer Sheldon Bull says new writers should do after taking a writing class or joining a writers group.

l“Take an acting class. Even if you have no aspirations to be an actor, an acting class can be invaluable to a writer. Even of you just audit the class and never do any acting yourself, it’s great to see how actors work and what their problems and challenges are. Observe how the acting teacher coaches the actors. That’s how a director on a sitcom works. You’ll see how the acting teacher gives notes to an actor. Learn how to give notes that improve the actor’s performance and build his confidence. As a sitcom writer, you are writing words that are intended to be spoken by the actors. The more you understand the acting process, the better your writing will be.”
—Producer/writer Sheldon Bull (M*A*S*H, Coach, Newhart)
Elephant Bucks, An Inside Guide to Writing for TV Sitcoms

That’s timeless advice that works across the board no matter the kind of writing you want to do. Some writers act out their lines while writing. Walt Disney was said to get so excited in story meetings that he would act out scenes as his ideas were flowing. (And you really haven’t had an acting class unless you and your classmates have all acted out being animals in a zoo.) A fringe benefit is just getting to know actors and how they’re wired. Understanding their doubts and insecurities. Their strengths and weaknesses. Plus having more actor friends help do table readings of your script is a good thing.

Robert Towne was in an acting class with Jack Nicholson when they were starting out and neither knew if they were going to have careers in Hollywood. Towne wrote the script for Chinatown with Nicholson in mind for the lead role. Nicholson was nominated for an Oscar and Towne won the Oscar for his screenplay.

If you can’t take a class in person, and interesting class to watch is the Nina Foch Course for Filmmakers and Actors. (Foch was a legendary in film, Tv, and theater actress.)

On Udemy right now, the course Directing the Actor a USC Course with Nina Foch is only $14.99 (No sponsorship.) That’s worth four hours of your time. Here’s what Alex Ferrari from Indie Film Hustle says about that course.

P.S. Two opportunities I missed while living in LA back in the ’80s. Shelly Winter’s was teaching an acting class. I was in my early 20s and only knew her then from The Poseidon Adventure, but later became aware of her two Oscars in A Patch of Blue and The Diary of Anne Frank. And my favorite Winter’s film is A Place in the Sun. I would have loved to watch her teach. And Stella Adler had long been based in New York, but opened a studio in LA around 1985 and was teaching a class that somehow involved William Hurt. I could audit the class for $360, but just couldn’t part with that money at the time. If ever those kinds of things come your way—jump at the opportunity. When I lived in Iowa, I once drove 3 hours each way to hear filmmaker David Lynch speak for a couple of hours. No regrets there.

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

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“Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.”
—Babe Ruth

While I was in film school and a couple of years after graduating, I took acting classes. They weren’t that different from the ones Michael Douglas leads in the Netflix show The Kominsky Method.

,I was told that every writer, director, and filmmaker should at least know what it’s like to walk in an actor’s shoes. So I took sensory classes, cold reading, and scene study classes. I worked with Arthur Mendoza doing scenes from Chekhov’s The Seagull and Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie (“I have tricks up my sleeves…”), studied at the Van Mar Academy, Estelle Harman’s Actors Workshop, and at Tracy Roberts Actors Studio. I learned something from all of them.

I even learned from a couple of places I didn’t study. I cold called Jeff Corey because I knew that Jack Nicholson and Robert Towne had studied with him. I told him I was interested in checking out his classes to see if I wanted to study with him. He firmly told me that first he was in Malibu and that was too from my apartment in Burbank, and secondly that I wasn’t the one doing the qualifying. Next.

Another day I dropped into what is now called The Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute on Santa Monica Blvd. A lady there told me that unless I wanted to be an actor more than anything, then don’t come there to study. Because she said, it’s too hard to make it as an actor, and too hard to stay if you do make it. That the only thing that keeps you going as an actor was that when your feet hit the ground in the morning—all you want to be is an actor. That wasn’t me, so I moved on.

Tracy Roberts was where I spent the most time. She had been part of the original Actor’s Studio back in New York in the ’50s and racked up film and Tv credits through the ’70s before turning to teaching. She was the first one to turn me on to the work of Clifford Odets and liked a short story I wrote enough to give me a scholarship to a dramatic writing class they were doing at her studio.

And it was at her workshop that I got some of the best advice of my life. And while it was given in the context of acting, you can apply it to just about any area of life. But this is where my memory is a little fuzzy, and I can’t remember exactly who told it to me. But I think it was Howard Fine. Recently, I came across a sheet from a scene study class I did with Fine, who I think was teaching with Roberts’ studio back in the ’80s.

Fine now runs the Howard Fine Acting Studio in LA and has a who’s who list of actors that have worked with him. (Brad Pitt, Gal Gadot, Jered Leto, Dwayne Johnson, Salma Hayek, Kerry Washington, and Chris Pine.) I’m not 100% sure, but I think he’s the one that gave me the great advice below.

After class one night, I was discouraged about how I’d done. I think I told him I had a sports background and liked that at the end of a game you knew how you’d done. I sensed I wasn’t going to be the next great thing. Fine said, “Just because you’re not Babe Ruth doesn’t mean you can’t play the game.” That was a revelation.

For those of you unfamiliar with the analogy, Babe Ruth was arguably the greatest baseball player ever. When I visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY this summer, I learned even more what an iconic player Ruth was in his day. Even when he wasn’t playing a game, he caused a stir when he just visited a town. He wasn’t your average a baseball star, he was a rock star (long before there were rock stars).

There are layers of talent in every field. In screenwriting terms, if your goal is to be the next Paddy Chayefsky, William Goldman, or Aaron Sorkin you just might fall short. But if you do, that doesn’t mean you can’t play the game. That’s also true at every part of the entertainment and content creation industry.

So be encouraged— there are more creative opportunities in the world than ever before. There are even more ways to make a living producing, directing, writing, and editing outside of Hollywood than inside it. So when you get down just remember, “Just because you’re not Babe Ruth doesn’t mean you can’t play the game.” And Ruth’s own story from a troubled youth to baseball star found its way to the big screen in The Babe Ruth Story.

P.S. I did a little digging and did read an interview where Howard Fine said he started teaching at Tracy Roberts Actors Studio in 1985 so I at least got that part right. I would have been one of his first students in LA and the chances are slim that he’d remember me, but he might recall giving that Babe Ruth advice. I’m sure that advice comforted many an actor, because there was only one Babe Ruth–just like there was only one Marlon Brando.

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

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“I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing — that it was all started by a mouse.”
—Walt Disney

One of the perks of working in production is meeting famous celebrities

Walt Disney World opened 50 years ago today. I remember going within the first few months of its opening. Because I grew up in the Orlando area when the biggest deal was the Central Florida Fair, experiencing Disney for the first time in 1971 was surreal. It was a much smaller attraction than it is today, but I had a blast. That is until my sister crushed my heart by telling me that I wasn’t really driving that Grand Prix car—that it was on a track. She didn’t even give me a spoiler alert! Long live the Grand Prix Raceway (now known as Tomorrowland Speedway).

Here are a couple of tickets I saved from the old days. A child’s admission to Disney World in 1971 was only one dollar. (Admission for a 10-year-old today is $109.) Then you’d buy tickets/coupons to go on select rides. I remember the “E” ticket (not to be confused with the electronic eTicket today) were the big deal because it allowed you to go on these rides: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Jungle Cruise, and The Haunted Mansion.

The “B” Ticket got you into the lesser attractions including the Main Street Cinema. Which, if I recall correctly, always had old Steamboat Willie movies playing.

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

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“We’re all told at some point and time that we can no longer play the child’s game. We just don’t know when that time will be. Some of us are told at 18. Some of us are told at 40. But we’re all told.”
—Baseball scout in Moneyball

My first experiences with organized baseball. (Front row, left of center in both photos.) Johnny Bolton was a Ford Dealership in Maitland, Florida. Looks like a casting call for the movie “The Sandlot.”

In the summer of 1970, I went to a baseball game at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati and it was my first live experience with Major League Baseball. The stadium was brand new and (if my memory is correct) there were about 50,000 in attendance for that summer game. I was nine years old and had never been anywhere with 50,000 people in one place. It was mesmerizing. Our seats were in left field weren’t great, but I had nothing to compare it to so I was thrilled. Watching MLB games at that point in my life were mostly starring at a 19″ black and white TV that picked up four channels with a rabbit ears antenna. Though I was raised in Central Florida, Disney World was still a year away from opening. I don’t remember anything about the game. But I have a photograph in my mind of a banner in right field that read “Rose Garden.” It was there because that’s where Pete Rose was positioned.

If you wanted to tell the story of professional baseball in one person, you couldn’t go wrong picking Pete Rose. (The short list would include Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, and Ty Cobb.) But with Rose you get high levels of both success and failure—highs and lows. He holds the Major League Baseball record for total hits (4256), played in 17 All Star games, was a key player on the Cincinnati Reds who won two World Series in the ’70s—and in 1989 he became the first player since 1943 banned from baseball for life.

And while his gambling on baseball games while a manager for the Reds also prevents him from being voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, there are still several Rose references in the Hall of Fame including this jersey when he was a part of what was known as The Big Red Machine.

From Little League through high school, his gung-ho style of play was what I tried to emulate the most. When I was around 12, I got to attend a baseball clinic that Rose did at Tinker Field in Orlando. I’m seated in the back next to his right knee in the photo below. (Oddly wearing a Miami Dolphin football jersey if I remember correctly.) I don’t remember anything about that day except Rose said there was a mix-up and he didn’t have his Reds uniform with him. But it was still a cool life experience to have in your past.

I
My own personal baseball hall of fame with memorabilia from my youth. Including a flip book I wrote simply called “Baseball.”

I didn’t blaze any Pete Rose-like trails in my playing days, but I did make some All-Star teams and played on two of the best teams in Lake Howell school history. My senior year we had a 14 game winning streak and won our conference. (The year after I left, Dave Martinez played at Lake Howell on his way to going pro as a player, and as a manager leading the Washington Nationals in becoming the 2019 World Series champs.)

I played my last real baseball game at age 18—and never was able to grow a proper mustache.

Baseball and baseball movies have brought me many wonderful experiences and memories over the years. Rose being banned from baseball didn’t hit me like a ton of bricks because I was a grown man and had seen plenty of the darker side of humanity by then.

My next post will look at talent as it relates to baseball, filmmaking, and screenwriting.

P.S. Unfortunately, the real story of interest to my playing days may be one of the guys I played baseball with in high school went on to be known as “Columbian Jake” where he became involved in underage sex tourism in Medellin—a bad career choice—and ended up getting busted and died allegedly by suicide in a Columbian prison in 2017. I’m sure there is a story there, but I really don’t care to know any more than what I read in a couple of articles. How in the world did this post start out talking about Little League baseball in Florida and end up with a dead gringo in a prison in Latin America? Because truth is stranger than fiction.

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

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“People will come to Iowa, for reasons they can’t even fathom.”
—Terence Mann (James Earl Jones) in Field of Dreams

All eyes in the baseball world were on Iowa on Thursday night for MLB’s Field of Dreams game between the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees. And Iowa did not disappoint.”
—Aaron Marner
Des Moines Register

There are a lot of grand movie entrances. Two that come to mind are Rose (Kate Winslet) and her giant hat in Titanic and the Ringo Kid (John Wayne) twirling his rifle in Stagecoach. But on some list of 100 great film entrances has to be the entrance of the baseball players emerging from a cornfield in Iowa in Field of Dreams.

Last night in Dyersville, Iowa, Kevin Costner got to make his own grand entrance emerging from an Iowa corn field—followed by the Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees. As a lifestyle baseball fan, I can’t say that Major League Baseball ever fully recovered from the double black eye of the strike back in the 90s, followed by the MLB steroid scandal.

But they took steps yesterday to add to baseball folklore by having the Yankees and the White Sox play a game near where they shot Field of Dreams movies back in the 1980s. (I think it was the first MLB game ever played in Iowa.) The TV announcers keep talking about a magical vibe the place had.

I’ve visited the Field of Dreams site a couple of times when I lived in Iowa. When I started the Screenwriting from Iowa … and Other Unlikely Places in Ceder Falls, Iowa 13 years ago, the mythology of Field of Dreams (screenplay by writer/director Phil Alden Robinson from a book by W.P. Kinsella) was definitely on my mind. What may get lost in the backstory of Field of Dreams is that Kinsella had an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. A pretty good foundation for Robinson, Costner and the others to build upon.

Screenwriter Diablo Cody (Juno) and Scott Beck and Bryan Woods (A Quiet Place) also graduated from Iowa and it’s been fun all these years to go back to that well from time to time. People may forget that in 2008 just the idea of screenwriting (and filmmaking) from Iowa and other unlikely places was a radical (or tongue in cheek) concept. But fast forward to 2021 in a post-COVID world and you see that it’s no longer so bizarre. Your favorite movie or streaming show is more likely to come from the state of Georgia than Los Angeles.

The cost of living and quality of life in LA is causing more than a few creatives to trade LA for Austin, Texas. Which, of course, has its own established film community. Vancouver has proven to be a film hot spot. Zoom calls have allowed established writers to retreat to states throughout the US. If I wanted to call it a day for this blog and say “my work is done” this would be a good day to do it.

But … I think I have a few more posts in me. And I still have to get on the ball and get my podcast rolling. I don’t know what the future of movies will be—or how many movie theaters will survive these odd times—or if people even will return to the movie going business as we once knew it—but I’m pretty sure people will still want to be entertained as they have throughout the history of civilization.

In recent posts, I’ve been recounting some places I visited on my vacation back in June and July. It’s fitting that my next post will be about going to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY on my birthday. It was a trip I’d been planning since I was 10 years old.

For those of you who missed the game last night, here’s all the drama of the final dream ending (at least for Tim Anderson). Hollywood couldn’t have done it better.

P.S. Whoever came up with that idea to play the game in Iowa last night deserves a nice bonus.

P.P.S. Just realized after I wrote this post the Iowa-connection of two of the movies I referenced. Rose in Titanic (as a 103 woman) lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and John Wayne was born in Winterset, Iowa.

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

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