Posts Tagged ‘Rambo’

“There is no way I’d be doing what I do now if it wasn’t for The Beatles. I was watching the Ed Sullivan show and I saw them. Those skinny little boys, kind of androgynous, with long hair like girls. It blew me away that these four boys in the middle of nowhere could make that music.”
Gene Simmons of KISS
Gene Simmons Talks Liverpool, The Beatles 


Just after 3AM this morning I arrived back home in Florida after a road trip that lasted 22 days and covered 4099 miles. I worked on a variety of projects performing a variety of roles (producing, directing, shooting–stills and video–and editing).

Worked on everything from a long form multimedia symphony project that was performed live, to a one minute corporate web video. In fact as my trip came to a close I thought of the eclectic week I had just this week. Over the weekend I shot a reality auction TV show that I will also be editing. On Sunday, while at the Downtown Des Moines Marriott I saw a travel infomercial I shot and edited in Central Florida last month airing on TV.

On Monday a short film I was DP on years ago had a screening in Decorah, Iowa. On Monday a four camera production I produced, shot, and edited in Orlando launched online Monday. A commercial I edited Monday will air regionally in the Midwest next week. Another video I shot and edited (partly in a Starbucks in Atlanta yesterday) will be apart of an award show at the end of the month. And a feature film shot in Iowa last year will its a debut tonight. I shot some footage for extras part of the DVD that I’m told they are selling tonight at the screening. And I supplied some rental production equipment to a documentary that will be shown in Algeria.

All that to say, if your desire is to work in feature films or TV and you’re not doing so there are 1,000s of other opportunities out there for you to gain valuable production experience—and to make money to pay your bills. And you get the bonus to meet and work with plenty of production people who have like-minded goals that you do. (Go back and read the ’09 post Beatles, Cody, King and 10,000 Hours.)

And if you’re a writer you also get tons of material to file away in your idea bank. Here’s one example I picked up over the weekend. At the auction in Des Moines was a 11 or 12-year-old boy who had traveled from California with his father to bid on some antique billiard racks. (They won the main rack they wanted with a bid of more than $10,000.) Bu the auction also had some rock-n-roll memorabilia—including a KISS Pinball machine, a Bo Diddley outfit, and the Beatles Butcher album–so when I interviewed the 11/12-year-old I asked him if he knew who the Beatles were and he said he did.

Then I asked him if he could name them. He jumped right in with “John, Paul, George and…” then there was a paused, he thought for a few seconds and said, “Rambo.”  I bet even Ringo Starr would laugh at being excluded from the fab four. It was a fresh line and I’m not sure I’ll never think of the Beatles again without thinking of John, Paul, George and Rambo. (Perhaps I can start a rumor that Rambo was the sixth Beatle. Pete Best, of course, being the fifth Beatle.)

Speaking of the Beatles I did miss an opportunity to hear Paul McCarney’s son James McCartney and his band who were playing in Des Moines at Vaudeville Mews last Saturday night just a few blocks from my hotel. And speaking of KISS that Pinball machine I pictured with above went for $2,300. Made me think of their song Beth which was a favorite of mine back in the day. Looked it up on You Tube and found this unusual version performed with a small symphony in Melbourne, Australia—with orchestra members wearing KISS painted faces. (Like that Rambo line, I’m not making this stuff up.)

From Pat Conroy to KISS is one day—that’s how we roll here at Screenwriting from Iowa…and Other Unlikely Places.

Scott W. Smith

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“I have a theory that compulsive fiction writers are subconsciously working out traumas that happened to them when they were young. I call this process self-psychonalysis.”
David Morrell

While David Morrell is most known in film circles as the writer who created Rambo, he is also a writer who can walk in both the worlds of popular fiction and the more scholarly and literate world. Has a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Penn State. As a scholar he taught American Literature at the University of Iowa for 16 years, and as a writer he has written more than 30 books, most of them novels. His first novel, First Blood, was published almost 30 years ago so it’s easy to find interviews and quotes from Morrell over the years. Here are a few that give some insights into the person and the writer:

“My father was killed during World War II, shortly after I was born in 1943. My mother had difficulty raising me and at the same time holding a job, so she put me in an orphanage and later in a series of boarding homes. I grew up unsure of who I was, desperately in need of a father figure. Books and movies were my escape. Eventually I decided to be a writer and sought help from two men who became metaphorical fathers to me: Stirling Silliphant, the head writer for the classic TV series “Route 66” about two young men in a Corvette who travel America in search of themselves, and Philip Klass (whose pen name is William Tenn), a novelist who taught at the Pennsylvania State University where I went to graduate school from 1966 to 1970. The result of their influence is my 1972 novel, First Blood, which introduced Rambo. The search for a father is prominent in that book, as it is in later ones, most notably The Brotherhood of the Rose (1984), a thriller about orphans and spies. During this period, I was a professor of American literature at the University of Iowa. With two professions, I worked seven days a week until exhaustion forced me to make a painful choice and resign from the university in 1986. One year later, my fifteen-year-old son, Matthew, died from bone cancer, and thereafter my fiction tended to depict the search for a son, particularly in Fireflies (1988) and Desperate Measures (1994). To make a new start, my wife and I moved to the mountains and mystical light of Santa Fe, New Mexico, where my work changed yet again, exploring the passionate relationships between men and women, highlighting them against a background of action as in the newest, Burnt Sienna.
David Morrell
Amazon Introduction to First Blood

“Stirling Silliphant’s brilliant scripts for “Route 66” made me decide to be a writer when I was 17. At the time, I sent him a letter, telling him so, and he encouraged me. Eventually, we worked together when Stirling was the executive producer for the NBC miniseries of my novel THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE ROSE. His scripts are characterized by a tremendous amount of action coupled with ideas — opposites coming together. The theme of “Route 66” is that the journey matters more than the destination, and that is how I’ve led my life.”
David Morrell

“The only advice I can give (aspiring writers) is to suck it up and keep writing. If you’re determined to write, then you accept the conditions within which you’re forced to survive. There’s no alternative. Write, write, write, keep writing. With modern PC software, self-publishing is easy to learn. If you believe in your work and you haven’t found a publisher to help you, then do it yourself. I’m amazed by the professional look of many self-published volumes. Of course, you don’t have the benefit of a distribution network and have to sell your books “from the trunk of your car,” as they used to say. But that doesn’t mean those books won’t get sold. On occasion, a self-published book attracts a lot of buyers.”
David Morrell
Writers Write
A Conversation with David Morrell by Claire E. White

Related post: Writing “First Blood”

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Now that writer/director James Cameron has claimed the number one and two spots of worldwide box office money makers with Avatar and Titanic he really is king of the world…at least the king of the box office world. But it’s worth a look back to how the Canadian born and raised Cameron made the transition from making films for Roger Corman to making mainstream blockbusters–including a film that is up for nine Academy Awards Sunday.

“My first success as a writer was The Terminator.  And it was successful, in a way, before the film was made. I wrote the script entirely on spec, for myself, and it was sent out by my agent as a writing sample. It was only sent out, to my knowledge, to a few people, and I managed to land jobs with two of them. One was Rambo and the other was on Alien.”
James Cameron
American Screenwriters
Karl Schanzer & Thomas Lee Wright
page 57

Scott W. Smith

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