Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Last night was Night 1 of a three-night Pioneer Electronics commercial shoot that I'm helping out on for my very talented buddy Zack Mathers.   Part of the commercial is highlighting a new Pioneer product called STEEZ (steeze is a street term that is a combination of style and ease... "What's your steeze?" is like "What's your deal?  What's your thing?")

The product is a boombox designed specifically for dancers -- you can adjust the tempo, pick specific BPMs (beats per minute) without affecting the pitch of the song.  For anyone who has ever learned or taught a dance routine - you know that this is awesome... You can play back a routine at half speed to learn it clean and then pick up the BPMs as you get it down.   I heart this thing to bits.

Anyway, Zack and I always work really closely creatively on set, and, knowing my slight (read:  massive) obsession with dance movies, he let me direct the dance battle scene that played out with the Steez product!

I repeat:  I got to direct a dance battle scene!!!!!

So, I can officially cross "Direct a Dance Battle" off my bucket list.  (FYI: "Direct Dance Battle" is just below "Win Oscar" and just above "Get on SNL."  It combines my two favorite arts - Dance and Movies - in a battle, which is just good drama.   In fact, I pitch dance movies, typically climaxing in a dance battle in almost every meeting.  Studio Executive:  So what are you working on?  What do you want to do next?  Me:  A dance movie.  I was thinking like a Die Hard 5, the dance version.  Studio Executive:  Hahahah!  You're funny.  Me:  No, seriously.)

Here's some picks from the fun, freezing night of dancing it out...

Zack telling me not to eff it all up.

T and B together on set... again.  Now we just need to get
Luna working in Art Department and we'll be good.
Movie Magic Makers.

Mike Carrasco of ABDC working it. 
In closing, what I learned from this experience is that most things can and should be resolved through dance battles.   Family problems?  Dance battle.  Impending Foreclosure?  Bank v. Home Owner dance battle.   Conflict in the Middle East?  All together now... Israeli-Palestinian DANCE BATTLE.

Dance Battle for life.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Amazing things

Hey Party People!

I hope you are all recovering from your weekend of Halloween revelry.  I worked all weekend, finishing up a draft of an overdue script so that I could take time off on Monday, when our fairy tale family traipsed around as a: The Big Bad Wolf, Little Red Riding Hood, and the cutest little piggy you've ever seen!

In other, more relevant news, yesterday I found out that I've been accepted to the WGA's Writer/Director Mentorship program - which is so so exciting!  They are trying to foster the relationship between the WGA and the DGA as well as get writers to be more involved in their projects... I'll let you know as soon as I can who my amazing mentor is going to be.

But for now - I have to keep this short. I have a pitch at Nickelodeon this morning -- basically me talking for twenty minutes straight -- and I have to practice so I don't get in there and make a complete ass of myself:

Executive, "Hey, so tell me about this story!"

Me, "Uhhh.... uhhh.... uhhhh."

Ah, the glitz, the glamour... Cross some fingers for me, huh?

PS:  If you didn't see it - here's the pic of me and Brett in the Sunday edition of the Ventura County Star!!!!  Read the article HERE.

Me. 8 1/2 months pregnant after a 12 hour shoot day, looking exhausted -
Brett, looking fabulous. 

PSS: Lake Effect lovers - Keep posting pics of you with your copies on the facebook page!  And if you've watched and liked the movie, please find somewhere on line to review it!  Amazon or netflix would be GREAT!

Most creative pic so far, thanks PK and Optimus Prime. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Hi ho - so we are one week into our TLE sales.

I have to say - I have absolutely no idea how it's going.  Working with a distributor is funny - they are working with lots of other companies - netflix, amazon, walmart, as well as twenty plus actual video stores that carry the movie -- and I have no idea how many copies anyone has ordered, rented, sold, etc.
I may have a better idea when we get our quarterly report.

Also, Jennifer and I are both very busy on other projects -- though we did do some press that I'll post here as soon as the articles are printed.  (If you live in Ventura, Santa Barbara, or Michigan - keep an eye out in your local paper)

In the meantime, I can announce this:

Amazon has only TWO COPIES LEFT!

...That bodes well, I think.  Someone asked:  "Does that mean that Amazon didn't order very many?"  I'm a glass-half-full-kinda-gal (on my good days) so I'll say NO!  What that means is that people ordered all the many many copies that Amazon ordered all up!!!!

Not to worry, if you see that they are sold out on Amazon, I believe Amazon will soon be stocking more.

In addition, if you see me on the street, you can buy a copy off of me for $20 cash.  Bargain really, since you don't have to deal with shipping.

If you are cast or crew and are owed a copy (see Jennifer Westin for qualifying details) I imagine you will get one at some point in the near future - possibly when Jennifer returns from shooting her big time indie movie in New York with Ross Partridge (I feel incredibly proud and only a wee bit left out) ;)

So - in closing, if you have your copy of The Lake Effect, I hope you are enjoying it, not pirating it, and telling your friends about it at every chance you get.  If you're not sure how to plug The Lake Effect into every day conversation, you could try this:

YOU:  Hi Friend.
YOU:  Seen any good movies lately?
FRIEND:  Yes, actually - all the Oscar contenders are ---
YOU (interrupting):  Not as good as this little indie movie I just watched on DVD!!  It's called The Lake Effect and it's awesome.  You should check it out!
(And so on...)

Hope that helps!  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I will do this to my hair if it sells DVDs.

This weekend, a friend asked me if he could buy the DVD straight off of me instead of off of a website - and if that would help us out more...  The answer is yes and yes -- in fact, I had big plans of throwing a TLE DVD release party - only problem is that I'm in production and Jennifer Westin is in NY, also in production... and to be honest, I'm a little nervous that if I threw a party it will just be me (and Brett, he's obligated), sitting in a bar somewhere with a box of DVDS after a 12 hour shoot day, all alone.

In the meantime, if you happen to see me on the street, yes - I may have a DVD in my bag that I can sell you for $20.  Otherwise, it's just a click away... 

It's already discounted, what?! 

BTW -  let's say you don't want to buy the movie.  You've seen it or you don't even own a DVD player, what can you do to help TLE???   A FAVOR -- anyone who has seen the movie:  PLEASE GET ON-LINE and WRITE A REVIEW ON AMAZON!!!  Even if you're not the kind of person who normally writes reviews on amazon!  I'll be your best friend...

Monday, October 3, 2011

All work and no play makes Tara a...

Delirious Blogger.

That's gonna be my new band name.

This week I missed out on a trip to Michigan to go to the very cool Hell's Half Mile Film Festival.  (True story:  Two old men were overheard in the bathroom saying how affected they were by the movie! - I didn't know that men talked to each other in the bathroom but I did know that old men love us. Buy a copy for your Grandpa!!!)  I also had to turn down a trip to the Jacksonville Film Festival, a great little festival run by fellow filmmaker Warren Skeels - where The Lake Effect will be screening later this month. I suppose these are good problems to have - I had to turn them down because I am working!  Working working working working working.  On a web series, a commercial, a music video, a pilot, a spec script, and (currently) this blog.  Not to mention trying (not desperately, just trying) to get everyone and their mother excited about buying a copy of TLE!
Everyone wants this sweet-looking DVD!

I had this idea  -- I could go around to people who should really buy the movie out of obligation (Hi Mom!) and make them do it on camera...(See!  So Easy - you can do it on your phone!  You can buy it from your laptop, Ipad! Use your telephone!)  And then the obligated purchasers could talk about how excited they are.  I'll edit the whole thing with star wipes and then post it (ON THIS BLOG - so self reflexive, planning my next blog while I blog) and it would inspire everyone to buy my movie!!  It could be sweet.

I'm a little punchy.  Been writing since 5.  Forgive.  Then pre-buy the movie.  I know - I'm a broken record.  Don't worry.  It'll die down on October 18th (and then maybe start up again around the Holidays).

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Can you stand it??!  T-minus 22 days til THE LAKE EFFECT release date!  (Which means only 22 more days of me acting like Crazy Eddy having a fire sale!!!!)

Here's a taste of what you'll get when you open your shiny plastic-wrapped TLE DVD box...
Ooh, Ahh... a little workaholic Ross Partridge from the original poster... I love that shot. 

Last night, I did the final quality check of the dvd.  It's really great and I'm so so excited for everyone to see not just the movie but the Behind the Scenes Featurette and the Outtakes and to hear me and the ladies doing our silly yet informative Audio Commentary, where you'll hear all about how Ross scared me when he first showed up on set and how Kay had 3 am dance parties on the beach while the old people were sleeping.  

Good stuff.   

Now stop reading this blog and go buy another copy of The Lake Effect!  

(*The "Y'all" is honor of my writing partner Cindy, who is kickin ass and taking names far away in the land of Texas until we sell a huge script and I drag her back to LA-LA land. Miss you Cindy!)    

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


On Sunday, I went to an amazing panel on Writer/Directors at the Writers Guild -- five inspirational hours of information on how to be a hyphenate creative career person in Hollywood from panelists Billy Ray (Shattered Glass) David S. Goyer (Batman Begins) Nancy Meyers (Something's Gotta Give).  After the panel, I was chatting with another female comedy writer in the parking lot and Nancy Meyers drove past us... She slowed, rolled down her window and called out, "Women directors?  Don't you give up!!!"

The woman wrote PRIVATE BENJAMIN, people.  FATHER OF THE BRIDE.   BABY BOOM.  And STILL it took her years on a (very) successful writing and producing career to get to directing her first film.   I've been in LA for 12 years.  Writing for 10.  Making THE LAKE EFFECT for 2 1/2.  Two and a half years!!!  That's how long it's taken us to make THE LAKE EFFECT and get it to you.    THANK YOU for your patience... thank you.  And thank you, Nancy, for those much needed words of encouragement.  

I am excited to announce that the wait is OVER!!!!  Today is the day, Lake-lovers!  You can officially SAVE your hot little copy of THE LAKE EFFECT!
This SAVE is unlike the other save (the one I encouraged you to do on Netflix...)  This save means YOUR COPY of THE LAKE EFFECT will ship to you on OCTOBER 18th.  You can be the first of your friends on your block to own a copy!  Heck, feeling generous?  Buy copies for the whole block!

You can do it on AMAZON.
You can do it at CD UNIVERSE.
(And yes, you can still save it at Netflix but we're not sure when that Save will turn to ADD TO QUEUE... PS: If you haven't heard, Netflix will now be Qwikster, the DVD branch of Netflix...  Ah, how I love the in-between stages of media delivery/technology.  For all the sordid details about that story, look here.)

Now, this doesn't mean that the movie will never be in your Pay-Per-View list or On Demand or on cable... this is just the first wave of the release.

So - I am asking you today, if you have read this far,  please do THREE THINGS that will make a world of difference to us...  
1) Buy the movie!
2) Write a glowing review on-line (Netlfix, Amazon, wherever!!)
3) Blog, tweet, facebook, digg, share, blast about the movie to your friends, family, and fans.  Only you can prevent DVD launch failures!!!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

More Michigan, Pre-Order Countdown, and QC Checks...

So much to talk about this week, let's break it down... 

I'm taking THE LAKE EFFECT back to Michigan!  
Anyone can make a 
map of Michigan on the fly.
THE LAKE EFFECT is playing in Bay City at the Hell's Half Mile Film Festival September 29th-October 2nd!   So, for all you Michiganders that missed it the first time around... come out and say hi!  
Where is Bay City, you ask?  It's in that little armpit of your thumb.  Near Ann Arbor!    ***I stand corrected - Near Saginaw!! - thanks Laura!****

I'm very excited to go to this festival because a good friend of mine Shaun O'Banion will be there with his movie GIRLFRIEND which I've been dying to see and also I get to hang out with ROSS PARTRIDGE all weekend!  His movie THE OFF HOURS will be screening as well (which I also can't wait to see) It will be a Ross Partridge retrospective! 

Prepare to be harassed from now until Christmas (or Hanukah or Kwanzaa or Winter Solstice)! It's T-MINUS 8 Days until you can pre-order THE LAKE EFFECT on September 21st!   And T-MINUS a bunch more days until you can have it in your hot little hands on our street date -- October 18th! 
Woot woot!!!! 
Next week, I'll post links to all the sites where you can buy the movie...
I found some closure yesterday as Jennifer and I plopped down in front of the tele for a QC (quality check) of the DVD.   It was nice that the DVD came in this envelope from our distributor... 
TLE, front and center. 

We loaded up the movie and enjoyed a couple of trailers and checked out the main menu and the Additional Features --  Behind the Scenes, Raindance Q n A, Audio Commentary, Deleted Scenes, Bloopers - this DVD is chock full of extras, people!  Save it!  Queue it!  Pre-order it!  Buy it!  Tell your friends! Thank you! 

Super cool. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Lynette Howell on “Producing Is Supporting New Talent Through More Than Just Production”

This is a re-post from Producer Ted Hope's blog HOPE FOR FILM.  My dear friend Lynette Howell, a ridiculously smart and hard-working indie producer, talks about the challenges facing indie film and about taking distribution into your own hands... 

From Ted:
If you are a regular reader of this blog, or follower of mine on Twitter, I think you know that for me a Producer only deserves that credit when they truly commit to support the project from beginning to end.  You also probably know how challenging I find the calling of producing these days, when we are required to do more and more, and are rewarded, at least financially, less and less.

It is always inspiring for me, when a Producer steps forward, embraces the full demand of the role, and does with a great attitude and recognition of the benefits that come from the commitment. Lynette Howell has not been producing that long, but she has learned a great deal, as we all can from her generosity of a guest post today
From Lynette: 
Supporting new talent through more than just production:
The kind of exploration into distribution that I find myself doing on my film ON THE ICE is new for me… uncharted territory and truthfully out of my comfort zone, but one that I find myself glad I am being somewhat forced into not only embracing, but championing.
As an independent Producer, I started my company with the mandate of supporting new talent. At first, this was a necessity. I didn’t have any relationships with established Directors when I entered the business. Therefore the only way to begin a career producing meant that I had to find projects that other more established producers didn’t want to take on - either because they were too challenging to make, or too small for a Producer to earn a living on. This necessity quickly turned into my true passion for discovering new voices and this passion then turned into an understanding of how crucial this kind of support is to the continued growth and evolution of the independent industry.
Since my first movie almost 7 years ago (Ryan Flecks HALF NELSON) I have produced many movies of all sizes and genres, ranging from Derek Cianfrance’s BLUE VALENTINE to David Ellis’s SHARK NIGHT 3D. But it is not the size, scope or scale that draws me towards putting my energy into a project, - it is about finding stories that speak to me, and they continue to often come from new filmmakers.
As an Advisor to the Sundance Creative Producing Initiative, I continue to be a huge supporter in any way that I can of up and coming filmmakers. In 2009 I met Andrew Okpeaha MacLean, the Writer and Director of the short film SIKUMI that was the winner of the Jury Prize for Short Filmmaking at Sundance the prior year. He was at the Directors Lab with a script for his feature film ON THE ICE along with his producing partner Cara Marcous who was also a Lab fellow.
On The Ice
The script for ON THE ICE had so many built in challenges to it -
1. LOCATION -  Set in Barrow, Alaska - which is the Northern-most point in the United States, deep in the Arctic Circle.  The only way in or out during the winter months is by plane.
2. WEATHER - Temperatures can drop to 40 below with wind chill. All gear has to be winterized prior to shooting. And for some scenes crew cannot have any skin exposed because of the high risk of frostbite.
3. CASTING NON ACTORS - The script featured an all Inuit cast and Andrew felt it was crucial to work with local non-actors.
4. BUDGET - Making a movie in these extreme conditions does have a cost and so raising money for this would be extremely challenging.
5. SHOOTING SCHEDULE - The ONLY month we could shoot in Barrow was April because of weather and light issues (Barrow has 24 hours of darkness in the winter, and 24 hours of sunlight in the summer). Therefore we had a very short window to put this movie together!
But it was such a fresh script, setting and structure for a movie that I simply had to get involved despite all the obstacles
Through 5 different equity investors, a post-production deal, numerous grants, a tax credit and tons of support in kind, Cara and I managed to raise the money necessary to make the movie.
Production was such a challenge because of the above-mentioned issues (and some I didn’t forsee, such as using a bucket for a toilet everyday on the frozen tundra). But we managed to make a very special film that feels unlike anything I have seen before. The movie premiered at Sundance in competition earlier this year and went on to win two awards at the Berlinale Film Festival (the Crystal Bear and Best First Feature Film). The awards validation proved that there was an audience for this film, but we all knew that it was going to take a creative way to reach them.
All the incredible effort from so many people pushing this unbelievably challenging movie from a short film all the way to a critically acclaimed feature film found itself with an uncertain distribution future.
Given the technological advances and through social media, there is an opportunity for my support, your support and the support of many others towards new filmmakers to now transition into distribution in a meaningful way. 
I have made movies that went to festivals before and weren’t able to find a distributor willing to pay a MG, or give the movie a wide, or even aggressive platform release. I have been left selling a film for a very small amount of money and then having it released in five to ten cities and ultimately no one really hearing about it or seeing it due to lack of marketing dollars or the same level of passion and commitment from the distributor that came from the filmmaking team who struggled to make the movie. Filmmakers traditionally feel more comfortable with the idea of a “real” distributor releasing a movie, even without a viable plan to release their film because there is a stigma associated with not having this branding. I believe this stigma is potentially short sighted and want to support the idea of alternative methods of distribution, especially for movies like ON THE ICE which don’t fall into the obviously commercial slam dunk scenarios for most distributors, no matter the size – but that clearly have an audience.
Through the new Sundance Initiative and Kickstarter, we are exploring a different approach to distribution for ON THE ICE. We are trying to raise $80k which will allow us to take the movie to a much broader audience than would be possible had we gone down the traditional path of a somewhat cosmetic theatrical release or a non-theatrical route. I want this movie to be SEEN by as many people as possible. The work that our team has been doing is staggering – more care and attention to detail in how to approach this audience and really use the money raised to reach a much broader number of people is incredible. It takes a lot of effort and determination. But I want to prove it can work, so that we can continue to ensure that the new voices of tomorrow’s filmmakers have a home for their movies.
If you are reading this, there’s a good chance you are involved in independent film or independent art of some kind.  So, you may not be in a position to pledge much money, but I hope that you will consider passing our Kickstarter link on to the friends and colleagues in your life who might be interested in what we’re trying to do.  The act of forwarding this on is incredibly powerful for us and it could mean we can release our film.
To support ON THE ICE go to our kickstarter page:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Last week, I went to a panel at The Writers Guild called "$#!@ I wish I had known," featuring four very successful screenwriters.  It was informative, interesting... and depressing as all hell.  

This isn't entirely due to the panel - Some of the panelists were pragmatic if not optimistic (having a lot of money in the bank and jobs lined up helps that) but one or two of the panelists couldn't stop talking how the industry is going to hell in a hand basket, etc etc.

"Back in my day, if you had a great script, you could drop it on the 405 and it would sell!"

Spot the script. 
Look, I don't know what it is, but there's just something about getting a bunch of neurotic screenwriters in a room together that leads to a lot of vitriol, executive bashing, and general malaise.   Regardless, I came out of the panel better informed, with a little fire in my gut to get through the two drafts that I'm in the middle of, and with this blog idea...


1.  It doesn't take one script to make you a screenwriter.  It takes seven.
- When I was 23, I was so focused on the one big idea that I had, sure that it would get me my shot at directing and then I would never have to write again! (A girl can dream).  Two dozen scripts later... I realize that you have to focus on the work - not the end result, not the escape route, just the work and the end result (fame, fortune, etc.) will come.  Just look at how famous and rich I AM! (insert winking emoticon and/or LOL here.)

2.  You won't get an agent until you get a job and once you get a job you probably don't really need an agent.

3. It's up to you to keep up your connections, to reach out to executives and establish a working relationship so that they want to work with you again.

4.  On pitching.  Prepare.  Prepare. Prepare.  Don't underestimate the tall order that is telling a 20 minute oral story to two or more high powered executives who have the power to get you health coverage and pay your rent for the year.  Prepare.

5.  You will be re-written.  And you will re-write someone else.  It's not personal.  It's work.  It's money. And it's a step closer to getting the movie made, which is what we all want.   Thank the Executives for everything and offer to help in any way you can as the project moves forward.  You never know, maybe some director or star will come on that likes your old draft better and then you'll be back on the project!

6. When someone offers you a million dollars to make your movie, you say YES!
-  I was in a fancy hotel at a fancy restaurant eating a fancy dinner on this investor's fancy dime - and when the money came up, I balked at the low option price (indie budgets don't have much if any room to pay writer/directors - did you know that?  I didn't know that).  I worried aloud about how I would support myself for the year that it would take to make the movie.  Valid problem, inopportune time to worry.  Silly artist, trying to support yourself!

7. Don't talk politics in a meeting unless you're sure the exec dislikes George Bush as much as you do.

8.  When you get paid, it can feel like you've won the lottery.  Don't act that way.  Unless you're a TV writer and you're guaranteed another script that season and you're getting a weekly paycheck, don't spend that money like it's coming again next week.  Budget.  Or splurge and get a car (I still have the car I bought when we optioned COUGARS, which, man (checks watch), needs to be replaced, STAT.)  
- by the way - that option expired and was just RE-UPPED by Screen Gems so a movie that I thought would never be made is alive again!  And I get a little money out of nowhere, which is like two lottery wins!  I'll let you know how that moves forward...

9.  Know who you're meeting with, working with, pitching to.  Do your research before meeting a producer and definitely before getting into bed with a producer.  Ask around or at the very least google them.   And trust your instincts.
10. When you go to any premiere, dress business casual.  Do not wear a formal dress unless you are the star of the movie.
-  I, one time, due to a dirty clothes dilemma, ended up in something a little too fabulous at an indie premiere at the ArcLight and a certain producer who will remain unnamed just couldn't stop commenting on how fabulous I looked.  We had met before but she was sure that I didn't look "so nice" last time.   The more she kept on it, the more I felt like I'd driven in from Kansas to "go to the big premiere."  It haunts me just like the time in seventh grade that I wore that entirely too-neon yellow outfit and one of the eight graders asked if I could "Flick the switch to off."  

So that's it!  Now go take over Hollywood.  

PS:  While we're talking advice and fashion:  Never wear mauve to a ball.  Or pink.  Or open your mouth.  (whoever gets this reference, gets a cookie.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


On Friday, I took a jazz class at the world-famous Millennium Dance Complex in glamorous North Hollywood, California.  (Seriously, the place is famous: Brittany, Miley, all the girls whose names end in “y”, train there.)

Here’s how it went down: 

My fifteen year-old, Irish step-dancing cousin was in town and wanted to take a class there and asked if I would take it with her.  The idea terrified me, so I knew I had to do it.   I went, I tried, I sucked.  It was AWESOME. 

In a previous life, I busted a sweet move or two on my high school dance team.  (Crossing fingers that video of that never surfaces…) I stopped dancing my Freshman year at UCSB, due to a really awful back injury (I wore a sweet back brace for my first 8 months of college – made me VERY popular with the boys). 

It crushed me that I had to stop dancing.  But here’s the truth:  I was not a great dancer.  I loved it and I could do some advanced turns and leaps but I wasn’t a natural talent – I wasn’t going to move audiences with my moves.  I certainly was never going to go pro.

And once I stopped dancing, I found film.  And film felt like home.  And film was easier on my back and my knees and my hips…

I still love dance.  Still miss it.  Still watch 'So You Think You Can Dance' and tear up in awe of what the human body can do.  And I still bust a move to Nicky Menag in my office when I need a writing break… 

But I’ve found that film and dance have a lot in common.   They both boil down to visuals and sound working together to tell a story and evoke emotion.  When I sit in the editing room, I count the timing of the cuts – 1, 2, 3 and out and 1, 2 out, and 1…  Film has a rhythm.  

And now I’m jonesing to do a dance movie...  Breakin' 2 meets Footloose with a dash of Dirty Dancing, anyone? 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Look Books for Life

This week, I'm hovering over my computer, like always - but I am playing with images instead of words.

An example of one of the
lead character's hippie chic look... 
I am putting together a "Look Book," as a sort of audition for a directing job...  culling together images that inspire me and illustrate what exactly my version of the film will look like.   Thank god for Google and Flickr cause I cannot draw to save my life.  We considered including storyboards on the DVD extras for THE LAKE EFFECT but they all consisted of a box (the camera) and an attaced V (the lens)  pointing at circles (heads) with two attached semi-circles (shoulders) and little triangles (noses) indicating which way the heads were facing.

Despite my lack of art skills (note to self: take a freakin' drawing class), I find that directing work is an amazing compliment to writing - it's so tangible - so real world.  Finding the songs that sound like the film, building a wish list of who would star in the film, building physical elements makes going back in to do the more abstract world of writing easier for me...

Doing a little directing work is a great writing exercise... A writer should know what his or her movie looks and feels and sounds like - it may not end up that way in the end but maybe in the exploration you will find some details worth writing into the script... details that interest a director or actor... details that make the story jump off the page.

Hell, maybe making a look book is a good exercise for non-writers too! Everyone should build a look book for their life... like a virtual hope chest that you could visit when you've lost your way... or that you show to prospective employers or dates:  "My theme song is, "Where is My Mind" by The Pixies and here's what my unrealistically large place on the upper west side will look like... and here's Johnny Depp, he'll be playing the role of 'My Husband...'"

You may want to leave out that last part if you show it to a date who is not Johnny Depp.  

Monday, August 8, 2011


An open letter to fans, friends and family:

Dear You,

As you may remember, two summers ago, I worked on a little movie called THE LAKE EFFECT.  The film has enjoyed great success on the festival circuit, winning Best Feature and Audience Choice at the Moondance Fim Festival and Best Screenplay and Best Ensemble acting at The Phoenix Film Festival.  Here’s what people are saying about the film:
"(The Lake Effect is)...a classic American indie film... beautifully shot... wonderfully constructed; every character brings a different perspective on life and love to the film and they clash in wonderfully delicate, subtle ways. Smart, funny and tender, the dialogue is brought to life by nuanced performances from all the actors..." 
- Raindance Film Festival, London

"...a well acted and terrifically realized relationship dramedy..." 
- Film Threat 

Today, we are beginning our “QUEUE US” CAMPAIGN.   We need your help if we are going to get this movie seen! 

Netflix is waiting for enough people to have The Lake Effect in their queue for it to become officially "available" on their site.  If you queue it, it will come! PLEASE add THE LAKE EFFECT to your queue by going to: 

If you're still reading this (after you've added us to your queue), I also ask that you PLEASE pass this letter (or some version of it) on to ten friends who you think might be interested in this film.   Little films like this live only through word of mouth of people like you... 

We're so excited for everyone to finally be able to see what we've been working on for so long! 

The makers of THE LAKE EFFECT

PS: Here's our new cover art: 

Monday, August 1, 2011


Short and Sweet this morning, as I am about to get on a plane, headed home to LA from a whirlwind trip through New England and New York... 
We saw our amazing friends and family, got inspired, got a second draft in to Disney Channel, and hung out by a lake(not Lake Michigan, Lake Peekskill...).  Life is sweet -- especially because my little girl (not baby) turned two, reminding me how quickly it is going... which reminds me that it's been a while since we wrapped ye old Lake Effect... 

If I were you, reading this, I would be thinking: When the heck are we going to see this thing???

And if I were me writing this, I would be telling you: I have news!!!!  If you want to see THE LAKE EFFECT (in North America) you (finally) can!  

THE LAKE EFFECT will be available from Amazon, Osiris' website, and a couple of other online DVD sites!  

- Pre-orders start Sept 21st 
- Street date is Oct 18th. (I love, btw, that we have a "street date" -- I keep wanting to add "my movie's droppin' October 18th" - I know, lame.  I'll try to control myself).

By Sept/October, we will also know which retailers have picked it up (blockbuster, family video, etc.) and we should know about a TV deal by then too!

More information about the movie's availability to come in the next couple of weeks (including our new poster, thanks to our distributor!) so please keep checking back! 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I'm on the east coast this week, visiting family and friends and (still) (sort of) working --

Today I took a conference call sitting in the car, in the driveway of my in-laws house.  It was my only guaranteed quiet spot!  It's a funny thing about this career - work and play overlap and intersect.  Every day, an interaction can lead to inspiration or lack of inspiration can lead to a day off... (maybe a forced day off without inspiration isn't really a day off after all...)

I actually get a lot of good work done sitting in the car.

Speaking of combining work and pleasure, I'm very much looking forward to doing some improv work on The Cynics with some NY actors while I'm out here... stay tuned for pics, video, and a summary of that wine-induced madness.  

Anyway, that's all for this week!    Next week, if I'm allowed, I'll post the new cover art for The Lake Effect...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Finding your way in to character... and back out again.

Once, when I was writing a particularly personal script, I found myself so wrapped up in the emotions of the characters and the drama of their lives that I would be completely wracked afterwards.  I would spend hours trying to shake off the mood, mostly by eating large quantities of chocolate.

I finally asked an actor friend of mine for some advice: How do you shake off the mood of a character after a rehearsal or performance?

His answer was simple, "I change my shoes."

It's a trick of theater that we writers don't often think of - but as an actor - getting into character is a process, aided and abetted by the time in front of the make-up mirror, getting into costume, literally strapping on character shoes (dance heels) or boots or whatever...  It makes sense that the process of getting out of character should be the reverse, that an actor could become themselves again by stripping off their costume and their make-up and changing back into their street shoes.

As a writer, we don't get that aid - we are expected not only to imagine the world, but the shoes, the face, the mind, and the words of these people.  It is no wonder then, that writers are nuts.

The shoe trick, worked, by the way.  But I still constantly find myself identifying too closely with my characters.  Right now, I am working on a movie about woman who, despite a good career, a good husband, and a good life, feels like she has lost her way.  Like she would like to throw the baby out with the bath water (not Baby Luna, just a proverbial baby) quit her job, pack up her house, ditch the city, and move to the country and live off the land.

Now, for the sake of this character and for my own curiosity (which really is the same thing), a show of hands - how many of you (my three readers) constantly question your life or your career path or the city you live in or the life you've chosen (or had chosen for you).  Is this American or generational?  Is this discontent a privilege of having choices?  Is this just something that artists do or is it something that only people in a sinking film industry do?

This inquiring mind wants to know...  Because I'm starting a commune in the country and I'm wondering who's with me!


Do not panic.  I am not quitting.  I am not moving.  Yet.  I am going to go change my shoes.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Woman on the Verge...

Sorry (again again again) for the delayed post!    

Here are some three digestible highlights of my life as a mommy/writer/director/woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown... (homework for the week:  See Pedro Almodovar's movie Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.) 

1.  I am writing a lot.  When I'm not writing, I feel like I have a hangover, which I have wittily named, "my writing hangover."  During these hangovers, I lose keys, checks, and time. 

2.  So I feel like every week, I announce, "We finished the movie!"   We have finished the movie 145 times.  No, not that many - but there are so many steps to finishing!  Locking picture, locking sound, marrying the two, mixing the two, re-doing the whole damn thing at broadcast quality...  Anyway, I swear this time, it's true!  As proof, I present to you, the movie on tape, in all it's old-fashioned glory.  Something about tape makes me feel good.  Not as good as film, but better than a hard drive.  That probably tells you exactly how old I am. 
Mmm... HD CAM
3 - Had a GREAT meeting at Disney today with two very smart execs and Cindy and I are starting our second draft of Unplugged.  Tell your friends (if your friends are tweens who watch the Disney Channel...) this is going to be a good one.  Especially if Disney Channel lets me direct it!  

3B - Our awesome TLE composer Paul Larson is writing a demo for the DC movie, channeling his inner teenage girl - LOL.  (Teenage girls say "LOL," right?)  

I may have said to the PS worker, "Yes,
I need a guaranteed delivery...
This is my life in here." SO dramatic! 
4 - I spent an hour in the USPS in Burbank after my DC meeting, in an effort to deliver our film to our International Sales Agent in the UK.  As soon as I put the box on the counter, the lady behind the desk groaned.  Then I showed her my shipping slip with the UK address and she groaned again.  Then she couldn't figure out what "state"  London was in.  It took me a second to get my head around the problem and assured her that England didn't have states.  After that, the postal code NW5 1LB wasn't working on the USPS computer...  NW4 and NW6 sure... but not NW5 1 LB.  Not sure what is more frustrating - weird British postal codes or the inability of the USPS to figure them the eff out!   (PS: And hahahah - just finding some irony in the fact that I'm excited about Jimmy from the Postal Service and also loathing the actual postal service).   

5 - Headed off to record a podcast for a filmmaker friend of mine, Travis Betz.  Travis and I met at the Phoenix Film Festival, where Travis' amazing zombie musical THE DEAD INSIDE was playing.  The movie ruled - it had the lovely, dark, bittersweet comedic tone and was visually stunning - it reminded me of one of my favorite musicals, Sweeney Todd (the original musical, not the movie).  Anyway, here's the link to the podcast -- Not sure when it will be up! 

6 - Lastly, if you're not on my personal facbook page, then you missed Luna's quote of the week.  She was sitting in her kiddie pool in the afternoon and I was talking to Brett about The Cynics and Luna grabs me and says sweetly, "No Mommy no want to make a movie right now!"  I told her, "Fair enough." and managed not to do any more work until bedtime.   Despite Luna's perpetual cuteness, we are using some tough love and weaning Luna from her binkies.  She has mailed the disgusting little things (seriously, they're gross) off to two babies in need and in exchange got this "sleep monkey" to take the edge off.    
His name is "Lazybeans."  
Needless to say, there has not been much sleep since, I am the worst mother ever, and child services should probably intervene.  


Tuesday, July 5, 2011


First of all, happy belated birthday, America!   I hope if you're sitting at your desk reading this right now, it's with sunburned shoulders and a mild hangover from a weekend of too much fun.   I know I am.   I took a much needed long weekend to celebrate our final delivery of The Lake Effect.  Getting the deliverables together was CRAAAAZY.  

For example, last week, I was very busy finishing up something called THE DIALOGUE SPOTTING AND CONTINUITY LIST.  It's a document which breaks down the entire movie per shot (all 1,309 of them, to be exact) in a table of images and audio/dialogue, timecode and duration.  It looks something like this:  

Time code
Over black
Sounds of splashing water
CU of rippling water
Sounds of splashing water cont.
WS of city
Light sounds of the city; Car horn; splashing water cont.
MLS of Rob standing over a pond
Sounds of splashing water cont; Sound of coin dropping into water

MS of Rob looking upwards
Sounds of splashing water
ROB (V.O.): ...At 250,000 that number becomes fifteen percent…
MLS of Rob & two business men in office
Office noise
ROB: …or two dollars profit per member per month.
MCU of Rob
Office noise
ROB: In five years, you guys are in the black…
MCU of Dex’s hands
Office noise
Sound of report closing
ROB: …taking thirty percent.
Pan up on Dex
Office noise
OSS of Dex
Office noise
DEX: Little Robby Lawson…
MCU of Rob
Office noise
DEX: …I spent way too many nights losing my shirt…
MS of all three men
DEX: …playing poker with his dad at his place up on Lake Michigan.
ROB: Which, by the way…
OSS of Rob
Office noise
ROB: … would be the perfect place, for one of these stores.
DEX: I hope he left you that house.                                  ROB: Yeah, the house and the property taxes and all the repair bills...(sighs)

...and is a time consuming, nightmare of tedium.   This document is the reason why I didn't get the blog up last week.

Also, last week, we had checked off of the more fun tasks of film delivery on our long list.  Recording Audio commentary.  Here's a shot of the ladies of the lake doing the dirty work:

(Sorry - blogger is not accepting pics right now! but just imagine, me - looking writerly (read: frumpy) sitting next to two beautiful actresses and Jennifer, with her eyes closed).  Pretty sweet.  

Mr. Ross Partridge was much missed but the estrogen party was awesome.  It was the first time I got to watch the movie with Tara S. and Kay.  Highlights included Kay sharing stories of her sunrise dance parties on the beach after wrap and Tara S. remembering her agent explaining to her that she'd be sharing one bathroom with the entire cast and crew...   (which wasn't exactly true - props to T for still coming to do our little movie thinking that was the case, though!)

After all that, the movie was officially DELIVERED.    WOOOOO HOOOOOO!!!!!  That same day, we heard from Disney that everyone is very excited about our script UNPLUGGED and we'll be doing a second draft of that as soon as we get notes.   I am suddenly noticing Disney Channel Movies everywhere and this week, Luna said she, "Wants to go to Mickey's house to celebrate happy birthday."

A total non-sequiter -- Luna's best sentence ever said at a Koi pond this weekend:  "Bye-bye fishies!  See you in my taco!"  

That girl funny.

A warning: Now that The Lake Effect is delivered, this blog is officially going to be much more about writing -- and nonsense.  Prepare yourself.