Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Lovely Bones: Royersford, Day Two

I didn't capture any pics from last night's outing, but this morning the intrepid Jenifer scoped out the joint, dodged security guards, and grabbed the following shots of downtown Royersford in all its Seventies-era glory.

Of course, the "new" look wasn't much of a stretch for this stretch of Main Street, and yet the mocked-up store fronts were so convincing that for a moment Jenifer thought, "Hey, Royersford is really coming along nicely," following in the footsteps of other local revitalization efforts in Phoenixville and Spring City.

Apart from the guards and a minimal crew, the area was empty, and there were no signs of the actors or Messrs. Jackson and Spielberg (rumored to be in town). The only items of note were a fleet of period cars and the Paramount trailer. For more pics of the shoot, check out Mommy Blah Blah Blog and In My Head.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Lovely Bones in My Backyard

Tonight I took a little field trip and wandered over to downtown Royersford, where Peter Jackson is filming The Lovely Bones. I joined the small group of onlookers gathered at Fourth and Main and chatted with Jim McNutt, “your friendly PA.” Jim was on lockup duty, which consisted primarily of keeping folks like me corralled by the barricade. He had most recently worked on M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening and Mark Webber’s Explicit Ills, both also filmed in the area.

From our location there wasn't much to see, just several takes of some Seventies-era cars, a motorcycle, and even a street cleaner turning the corner by the Main Street Deli. Nonetheless the locals were thrilled that Hollywood had descended upon their little town, if only for a few days. Girls in their tweens, hoping for an autograph from Mark Wahlberg, clustered in the bitter cold with their mothers. Many of them had never seen a Peter Jackson film, some didn’t know the title of this film, still others were a trifle concerned that their town might be standing in for nearby Norristown, which itself stood in for Malvern in the novel by Alice Sebold.

At this time of year, it was not unusual to see the town festooned with Christmas lights and decorations (definitely not, according to one semi-disapproving resident, “Royersford’s lights”), but it was quite surreal to see a street I’ve driven a thousand times set up for a major film production. That was indeed a Paramount tractor trailer parked behind the H&R Block where I’ve had my taxes prepared. Weird—but good weird. I knew it wasn’t Hollywood so much as New Zealand that had arrived in my backyard, as if one of those bloated Third Stage Guild Navigators had just up and folded time and space, and that the Universe was winking yet again. Mostly, I was relieved that the planet’s equilibrium had finally been restored, now that Pete had come here after I had gone there. Pics tomorrow!

Labels: , , ,

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Heart of the Labyrinth & Other Tales

The willingness to suffer the “betwixt and between” state prepares the soul to leap to a new ground of being. Such a leap connects inner and outer, spirit and body, and makes “mythic sense” when nothing else makes any sense. — Michael Meade
Initiation of a Hybrid. A few Friday evenings ago I was driving Jenifer to her new yoga with live music class, we were yammering about the future, and then it happened. A deer hit us. We saw its face flash in the window, felt the impact, and pulled over.

Amazingly, the Prius suffered only minimal damage, by which I mean approximately $1355's worth, nothing you'd notice if you weren't looking for it. The strangest thing is that the contact wasn’t violent. It wasn’t upsetting. If anything, it felt as if we were hit with a blast of positive energy, a bolt of nature. A mysterious gift.

We returned to the site of the contact, but the deer was gone. I’ll never know if it lived.

Kicking and Screaming Into the Digital Age. Jenifer tricked me. She picked me up from work, and then turned left onto Swedesford instead of right. “Where are you taking me?” “Just relax and go along for the ride.” “Why are we going to the mall?” “I’m getting a new phone.”

Flash forward 30 minutes later and I have a new cell phone of my very own. How did this happen? I had no specific goals of über-Luddiosity, but something in me was quite pleased that I had stayed out of the network this long. And now, at one very simple word — “free” — I succumbed.

This Strike. So there’s this writers’ strike. And so those coworkers who know of my extra-corporate agenda approach me on a near-daily basis and tell me this. Some ask about it, but most want me to know that there is, in fact, a strike, and it is happening now. What this really means is that there are lots of reruns and no Leno and what am I going to do about it?

So we talk about it, and they seem to get that, until things fundamentally change, as a professional screenwriter I’ll be accorded the same relative status the professional documentalist is in the IT world. Which is to say: hidden.

What they don’t always get is that darn near everything on a screen, whether it fits in your pocket or occupies a wall in your house, is written. By somebody. And then I think about being eight years old and reading Alan Arnold’s Once Upon a Galaxy: A Journal of The Making of The Empire Strikes Back. I try to do this after they’ve left my cubicle.

The Heart of the Labyrinth. All summer I wanted to see a shooting star. It was a goal of sorts. I’d been taking a fair number of night walks to settle down after late writing sessions. Recently I was out and so were the stars and the wind, and a startled Schnauzer barking out of obligation. The trees were still orange, rustling like brittle rain whispering greetings.

The light pollution is always high, but the houses are flat and sky is wide, and the atmosphere itself seemed to billow out of the cooling towers my town is known for. The leaves and stars took me back to Jenifer’s yoga retreat, with its perfect weather and fast friendships borne of common purpose. Even Odin was there, the Norwegian Elkhound we fell in love with when we first scouted the location. Odin is aptly named, the “stirrer to fury” who one moment races through the retreat center at top speed, the next calmly snuggles, and then the next shares his stuffed orangutan with an unsuspecting playmate.

The high point of the weekend was the labyrinth we walked Saturday night. Candles in hand, we processed to the site, a flat space cleared before the forest. With the silent intelligence of bees, or geese, we lit the eight-circuit path, placing cups of light every few stones. And then, without a word of instruction, Jenifer stepped onto the path. I watched the others. They hesitated. Invariably, people want to know how to walk a labyrinth. They want the rules, or the correct technique, or the secret key that will unlock the mystery within. They want a sign, when all they need to do is place one foot in front of the other.

I followed, and then the slow trickle of footsteps began. All the usual human drives and intensities were immediately present in our instant community of spirals and light. Some pushed, moving too fast, others dawdled, but each of these movements, like the thoughts in meditation, were observed and let go. We walked in silence, together yet singly, weaving our way ever inward to a place of inner and outer stillness. With each foot planted on the damp mulch, each breath taken in, we drew nearer to that state of blissful emptiness. Not a stasis, but a vibrant intensity, the sustained charge of a fierce and lasting hug. Grace. I thought of our rabbit, who spent much of his blessed life in this illuminated realm.

At last I entered the heart of the labyrinth, and looked up, and saw — an orange streak of star shooting across the moon.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

You Are Burning Me, Part 3

I really did not intend this entry. And it has nothing to do with Eivør, Faroese ballads, or inspiration. Consider it more of a PSA for writers and other layabouts. See, I was sitting and relaxing "while enjoying the new look and revitalization of Downtown Phoenixville" at a pleasant local café-slash-gallery, about to take my first sip of a steaming hot clay mug of coffee, when the handle decided to snap. Gravity did the rest, and I was soon enveloped in a cloak of liquid pain. About as much fun as a meatloaf piñata.

Life happens, of course, just usually not in such a swift and scalding manner. Also, I do my best not to scream like a little girl if I can help it.

To his credit, the barista was equally swift in his aid, and soon handy antiseptic burn pads were placed on the affected areas. I believe I shall soon recover without any lasting effects, and with any luck the next batch of Holy Embers will be both more intentional and true to form.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, November 04, 2007

You Are Burning Me, Part 2: A Meme

Really, I didn't mean to blog so soon. But Brett had the audacity to tag me for a musical meme swirling 'round the scribosphere. The task? Courtesy of Rhys:
So here is your assignment for today, dear readers. Find a song that inspires you to write something, whether it gives you an idea for a script or just puts you into a better frame of mind. AND/OR (don't you love choices) peek into the lyrics and find a stanza that sums up the theme of whatever script you're working on. It's quite uncanny how the two circumstances go together.

If possible, post a video of the song to really get people into the mood. (Yep, I'm aware of the irony of using Internet clips during the pissing contest. I like irony as much as bitchiness.)

Most of my writing sessions begin with a cup of coffee and multiple playings of Eivør Pálsdóttir's “Nú brennur tú í mær.” I've written about the Faroese singer here. Thematically, my current script is probably closer to U2's "With or Without You," but Eivør's lyrics are nonetheless relevant:

When you flew by I could find no peace
Your fiery kiss burned me

and I will not kiss you again
You are burning me . . .
I saw you wrapped in her
Kissing her tears and letting her heal your wounds
You are burning me . . .

Next in line: Tom, Unk, Mystery Man on Film, Scriptweaver, and R[w]C.

Labels: , , ,