An Excerpt from the opening scene of LIMPING TOWARDS BABYLON

8 days ( !! ) left for the Kickstarter campaign, i.e. Nov. 20, 2015 – go to www.limpingtowardsbabylon.com to pledge

.. so it’s time to go a little deeper into the script. I want you, my supporters, to get a better sense of “E”‘s character as well as the humor in the script.

The teaser video has just a tiny section of the opening scene where Adam interviews Thomas and Marcus for their suitability as roommates. Shortly after that, “E” interrupts the interview:

 Marcus (Matt Mercer) and Thomas (Josh Breslow) being interviewed by Adam

Marcus (Matt Mercer) and Thomas (Josh Breslow) being interviewed by Adam

”E” is really EILEEN SMITH, 23 or 24, in the grad Art and Architecture School, but she goes by “E” and signs her paintings / mixed media Combines as “E. Smythe”.

ADAM: Fine. I withdraw the question.

She speaks as she leans over Adam’s shoulder and starts reading his notes. Then, she turns the page, to read his earlier questions.

 Adam (T.W. Leshner) interviewing Marcus and Thomas

Adam (T.W. Leshner) interviewing Marcus and Thomas

“E”: You’re the two new roommates?

ADAM: “E”, please.

She puts her hand out to shake hands with Marcus and Thomas.

“E”: (To Adam) They look good. I don’t see any serious problems. (To Thomas) Sorry. I didn’t say…

ADAM: No, I haven’t said they’re… Will you please – (let me tell them…)

"E" (Miriam Korn) showing interest in Thomas (Josh Breslow) while Marcus (Matt Mercer)

“E” (Miriam Korn) showing interest in Thomas (Josh Breslow) while Marcus (Matt Mercer)


“E”: I’m “E”.

THOMAS: Thomas.

“E” nods to Marcus.

MARCUS: Marcus.

THOMAS: “E”? Uh, how do you spell that?

“E”: Just the letter. “E”.

THOMAS: Oh. So, like the poet: e.e. cummings?

“E”: No. Not like him. I capitalize my name….

*** **** ***

And finally, here’s a photo of Josh and Matt goofing on me during filming:

Yes, I clearly inspire fear and respect from my actors! LOL

Yes, I clearly inspire fear and respect from my actors! LOL

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LIMPING TOWARDS BABYLON – rejection and resilience

So, I just read the coverage for my script LIMPING TOWARDS BABYLON. I had applied to Film Independent’s Screenwriter Lab. Film Independent logo I was not accepted and coverage was mixed, but overall was slightly more positive than negative.

I am going to make the supposition that I at least was strongly considered if not on the cusp. Here’s an example of push me-pull you critique (and let me say, he/she seemed to have given the script a close, careful read even if I don’t always agree with the conclusions): “The dialogue can be very smart in places, and the long conversations between characters — while often unnecessary — certainly have verve and a feel to them that holds our attention.”

Now, when I finished the script it was literally the day before the FIND deadline. I’ve made the script even stronger since then… still it’s a disappointment and only further convinces me, I just have to make it myself because I believe in this script.

And it’s not just that I consider the best thing I’ve ever written, I believe in its universality… of what it means to love in the wrong direction and also the zig zag steps toward maturity and becoming one’s own person.

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The ORIGINAL Boston Tea Party Impulse

If you were to Google my name, you might come across a couple of obscure law journals which name me as the Tea Party activist in a lawsuit against a particular California election law. This would seem particularly odd, since anyone who knows me, knows I am a die-hard liberal.

In fact, some of them only half-jokingly call me a socialist. That’s utterly untrue as I accept capitalism as a necessary evil. After all, it is the best system for creating wealth. However, as capitalism also tends to concentrate wealth, and wealth entwines into politics, unregulated capitalism leads to plutocracy, oligarchy and even fascism.

So yes, I particularly believe in strong regulation of capitalism, a graduated income tax and re-distribution of wealth and certain, yes, socialist institutions like a national health care system. Very not, Tea Party positions.

But I joined a lawsuit against a California election law that I think is bad for a number of reasons – one being that it doesn’t allow write-in votes, or rather the law allows them but specifically says that they will not be counted. So I proved useful to this suit because I live in a district that was having a special election. At the behest of the lawyer bringing this case forward, I registered as a Tea Party member and then tried to vote for myself in order to show that I was harmed by this law. To repeat, it was his idea that I register as a Tea Party member because it is not one of the parties officially recognized by the state of California, as well as for other strategic reasons legally and politically which are not for me to discuss.

However, why would somebody with my leftist political views make this profound sacrifice of identification??? Below is the partial explanation, made in an online comment to the writer of one of these obscure law journals. (Note – at the lawyer’s request, I ended up deleting one clause below, the one about the Tea Party being a re-brand of the Republican base… so my comment letter was published without it. I re-insert it here on my own website.)

An Activist Yes, But Not a “Tea Party Activist”

Dear Mr. Eris,

As I am the subject of the headline of your July 20, 2011 story (“Top-Two open primary faces legal challenge from Democrat-turned-Tea Party activist”), I would have hoped that you would have contacted me directly to understand the nuance of my actions, for now it absolutely behooves me to make a correction and clarification of that headline: while I am certainly an activist, in no sense could I accurately be labeled a “Tea Party activist”, as that term is popularly understood today.

In the first place, I do not adhere at all to the current policy positions of what the media typically labels as Tea Party issues, since such have become nothing more than the issues of a re-branded right-wing Republican base.

Then you may be wondering why I tried to register as a Tea Party member, an action that could so easily be misconstrued as making me a supporter of anti-unionism and the like, which I absolutely am not.

I agreed to this action of trying to become a “Tea Party” registered voter and potential candidate, not only because it would be an efficacious means to legally challenge what I consider to be an unconstitutional and unfair law, but also because it has a moral justification, as I do agree with the original Boston Tea Party impulse.

For it is important to remember that there is another, original aspect of the amorphous modern Tea Party movement that spiritually harkens back to that revolutionary protest in the Boston Harbor.

After all, this modern protest was partially born, at least amongst some of its initial adherents, of an inchoate rage that something with wrong with the System itself. This failure of the System was exemplified by the bailout of the banks and big brokerage houses while score upon score of ordinary Americans were losing their jobs, their pensions and their homes.

The Top-Two Open Primary law was deceptively sold to the public, and moreover disenfranchises Independents and the small parties – both in the “No Party Preference” label for such candidates and even more importantly, precluding a write-in candidate (thus a version of Lisa Murkowski’s write-in Senate victory could never happen in California).

The colonial Tea Party was not a protest against taxation per se, but a protest against taxation without representation. It was the lack of representation that was the motivation and rationale for the American defiance against the Crown. It is that original Boston Tea Party ideal for true democratic representation for which I am an activist and why I became a party to this law suit.

Thus a potential correction of your original headline would be “…challenge from Democrat-turned-original ‘Tea Party’ activist” but only if an explanation of my motivations were also included within the body of the article, that I am re-appropriating a piece of American history. Right wing conservatives do not own an exclusive trademark on patriotic American symbols after all.

Sincerely,
Julius Galacki

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Registering a work with the Copyright Office vs. the WGA

Unlike my previous posts which have had more personal content, this is just a pragmatic, public service post … of interest only to other writers, but if it helps one person, then I’ve done a mitzvah: I was relatively recently at a Dramatists Guild all day seminar on various business aspects of writing. I was rather surprised to hear a question – echoed by a friend of mine sitting next to me – asking which was better, registering a work with the U.S. Registrar of Copyrights or the Writers’ Guild.

I hadn’t realized that the WGA was now registering non-screenplays as well. I like the WGA, and even more, the Writers Guild Foundation. BUT Writers Guild registration is NOT a substitute for registering one’s work with the U.S. Registrar of Copyrights. The latter’s website is fairly easy to use now.

I know this not only from taking Law and the Arts taught by an attorney at Yale, but I’ve had day jobs working for and with lawyers, including intellectual property rights ones, for over 10 years. Finally, I’ve worked for 20th Century Fox Film Corp. in the legal and business affairs departments where dealing with screenwriters’ credits is a common issue – so I have direct and theoretical experience here.

Copyright exists the moment expression (not ideas, but the expression of that idea… likewise titles of a work are not copyrightable) is put into a fixed form, i.e. typically ink on paper. However, to enforce one’s copyright, i.e. bring suit for infringement, one has to have registered that work first with the Copyright Office.

Registering with the WGA is only necessary for screenplays, particularly in terms of determining film credit in WGA arbitrations, and otherwise should only be seen as a supplement to Copyright registration for both screenplays or anything else. It could be useful for instance as supporting what specifically is the date of creation in a more official way than mailing a script to oneself. But if you want to save money, yet do what’s absolutely necessary, just register with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Never submit a work until you’ve done that first.

Also, film companies typically require a clear chain of title, which includes U.S. Copyright Registration.

As far as re-registering after substantial changes have been made, that’s more of a gray zone decision. The
suggestion I’ve heard is to so again upon publication or that first production. There is a section on the form where you can specify that this is a previously registered work, and what changes have occurred since then.

By the way, the Dramatists Guild business affairs person was even more dismissive of a non-screenwriter doing anything other than registering with the Copyright Office, but I thought that was being too black and white myself.

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Elderly Background Actors

I work on the Fox Lot and the way to my office in the Old Executive Building takes me past the sound stage where the TV show “How I Met Your Mother” is shot.

I’ve only seen one of the leads once, but I often see the extras. Typically these people are young men in suits and/or hot women in short dresses or evening attire. Particularly lots of these attractive women.

But this morning was different. A coffee station had been set up, which I’ve never seen, and all of the extras were clearly over 65, all in evening attire, i.e. except for 3 young men who clearly were cast as waiters. It’s the first time on the Lot I’ve ever seen so many older actors in one place being called in for a shoot… at least a dozen of them.

It’s hard to say if these older people did background work as a hobby in their retirement, or were actually working actors who had had a long career. I imagine the latter only because of the grimness or sadness on the faces of so many of them… as if their expressions said, “I was once a leading lady and now I’m being relegated to a background visual punchline.”

I had such an overwhelming sense of sadness… seeing them sitting out in their chairs throughout the day, as I passed the Commissary Lawn… just waiting to be called in. Perhaps of course, this is purely my own anxiety about my own tumbling years. Thus I could be imagining their angst and frustration, and they were just having a grand old time on those folding chairs. After all, at least the grips had put up fabric to give them shade.

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