Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Films about authors

We saw Saving Mr. Banks a few days ago and Salinger last night on Netflix. The common denominator in both was the authors' protective nature with respect to their protagonist.
Mary Poppins and Holden Caulfield were real people to their creators, P.L. Travers and J. D. Salinger, not characters to be sold to the highest bidder and converted into anything Hollywood imaged.
I loved their possessiveness.
Authors today are often an afterthought once a film is adapted. It's the magic of the filmmaker or director not the originator of the story who is lauded. Now I realize that bestsellers are the exception, as their publicists and agents protect the client's brand. But let's face it, even the screenwriter is unknown in original works. Name your favorite screenwriter.
It was so refreshing to see both of these two films in close proximity. It made me realize my journey with my own characters is not so different. I do believe it is hard for readers to understand how much a character haunts your thoughts during the writing process.
My characters tell me their story and appear when they feel the need to enter a scene. I will be in a coffee shop writing and audibly said, "what?" Just as a new character will stroll into a chapter. I'm caught off guard, yet intrigued. I keep writing to see what will happen next. My own plot will take new twists and turns that I hadn't anticipated.
I wonder about our relationships with our characters. Are they actual our multiple personalities? I would like to think they are otherworld beings who channel authors.
Regardless, writing can be lonely, joyful, or frightening depending on the characters you surround yourself with.
I have a tough time being alone with my character Marquel for long stretches, but St. Blair I could spend hours with, if only she'd hang around. She keeps a crazy schedule of short appearances. Guess you'll have to read the books to understand.
Until next time...

Thursday, October 31, 2013

St. Blair: Children of the Night set for All Saints Day release

Sybille Malone lives in an overpopulated Manhattan, Region One, of Global Good 2202. Their society is the fulfillment of utopian ideals developed by the surviving masses of 2100. Seventeen-year-old Sybille is a resident of Dayshift and longs for a Nightshift boy known only as Mark.
Distraught by Global Good's restrictive culture, Sybille is desperate until she finds a relic of a past civilization. The discovery of Blair's diary sets off a chain of supernatural events that not only effects Sybille's close relationships, but has Global Good scrambling to find the culprit.
   After 3 years of writing, I've finally uploaded this novel to be appropriately released on All Saints Day, tomorrow. I sure hope the upload goes well, I'll check in a few hours.
This novel is named after my youngest daughter, Blair. My first novel was named after her sister, Marquel.
Why did I decide to name books after my daughters? I don't know. It seemed like a good idea when I was younger, but it really adds pressure to the writing process.
Anyway, there are 2 more books scheduled in the St. Blair series and a sequel to Marquel. Both are underway and should be released in 2014.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Film Festivals are Exhausting!

Film festivals are like sales conventions, you spend 3 or 4 intense days at nonstop workshops and in the case of festivals, screenings, without eating or eating junk, because you don't want to stop and miss anything. Plus there are late night networking events and parties, so sleep is sometimes left to an occasion nap during a screening. That is such a bummer. Because I will fall asleep in a great film to discover the end without the middle. But thankfully, my naps are few.

I'm glad I only do a few a year, but I would definitely change a few things if I did a circuit.

First, there needs to be a stand, like they have for runners, where water is distributed for people going to multiple events. Maybe even spritz our face? Not to mention we need chocolate and coffee here and there. I really wouldn't mind a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for a pick-me-up or low salt trail mix.  Afterall, I am supporting the filmmakers and sharing my honest feedback or sincere appreciation through social media and Q&A. A little nutrition makes for more intelligent questions.

Next I would make sure facilitators remind the filmmakers to repeat questions asked by the audience, and then answer by actually speaking into the microphone. Most often the microphone is somewhere between the navel or folded arms and we audience members get remanent sound. Meaning whatever that mic MIGHT capture as the filmmaker gestures during the reply.

More to come...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Book-signing at Barnes & Noble Manhattan Beach, Ca

I am signing copies of "Marquel"
Saturday Oct 12th 9:30 to noon
1800 Rosecrans Ave.
Manhattan Beach, Ca

Please stop by and say hi!

Friday, September 13, 2013

I Wanna Be A New Yorker

 I am not a fashionista, but I love the creativity that it takes to design and display garments. I rarely purchase anything remotely expensive, in fact my wedding gown was $69 in a 1982 JC Penney catalogue. But I did make it to Mood when we were in NY this summer. I  picked up some fabrics for a project to be determined.
 I'm a "Project Runway" fan, big time! And I would be happy to sweep the floor during any challenge, just to watch the designers create. Hint, hint Tim and Heidi!
Tom and I honeymooned in NY and naturally, we wanted to return for our milestone 30th anniversary.
Not only did we catch The Divine Miss M in the final weeks of her Sue Mengers one-woman show "I'll Eat You Last," but  we got to see "Motown The Musical," Tom Hanks in his Broadway debut in Nora Ephron's  "Lucky Guy" and Judith Light in "The Assembled Parties."
I also took time to embrace the setting of my soon to be released Young Adult Paranormal, "St. Blair: Children of the Night. " This novel is named for our youngest daughter and it's a story that has been brewing in my mind since 1989 and the story behind the story is for another post.
Anyway I want to be a New Yorker, at least one week a year.
Gotta run.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The GREAT Gatsby! Love it!!

I waited to see this film with my mentor's son Howard Whittington and his wife, Lot.
F. Scott Fitzgerald was pulp legend, Harry Whittington's favorite author and "The Great Gatsby" his favorite Fitzgerald novel. Before we became friends and later mentor/protege, I asked Harry about his inspiration and without missing a beat he said, "Scott Fitzgerald." Harry was so enthralled with "The Great Gatsby" that his wife Kathryn purchased him a first edition leather-bound copy in the early years of their marriage. If you got Harry on the subject, he left you and was transported into the novel with his eyes glazed over looking off in the distance and you knew he was in West Egg. 
There is a triangle between these 2 authors and the story's lead, Jay Gatsby. All 3 dreamed large, made his mark, though seemed unsatisfied with his position in life and were largely forgotten by those they entertained in their expiring years. Harry was disciplined and wrote more than Fitzgerald and Harry's work is highly collectible today. Fitzgerald dreamed of being disciplined and regretted he didn't write more and it seems his family felt okay with selling all rights to "The Great Gatsby" to the filmmakers (this is what we learned from the docent of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Museum in Montgomery, Alabama).
Would Fitzgerald or Whittington appreciate the Baz Luhrmann film, The Great Gatsby? Hell yes!
Luhrmann gave us a beautifully stylized, modern view of a classic and took nothing away from the original work. He actually enhanced it.
Yes, I said enhanced.
Luhrmann made Gatsby's insecurities vivid and painful. He wove all the backstory in without distracting us and made Daisy every bit the lovely selfish flake that she is. His graphic novel 3D approach seems very appropriate for younger audiences who might be more likely to read or reread a classic having seen the movie.
I have a great deal of respect for the story, every costume, set, hairstyle, score, production value and performance in this film. I engaged with this vivid spectacular world that is the roaring 20s and I'm hopeful that more classics will hit the big screen in the coming years.
Luhrmann is a gutsy director/storyteller to take on an iconic piece of literature and each person who touched this film was craftsman who has my profound appreciation.
But most especially, I enjoyed seeing it with my husband Tom, and Howard and Lot Whittington. They indulge me and understand how much I cherish the memories of Harry, another true literary classic.
-Emily a.k.a. thefilmmom

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Film Mom meets Movie Reviewer's Dad

Ok, so my day job is marketing and I work with every type of client from small to large businesses. During the process of learning about a new client's business, Unconditional Love Pet Care, I learned that Philip Harloff is the very proud father of Kristian Harloff, one of the Schmoes Know film reviewers. The other Schmoe is Mark Ellis.

Crazy how we parents find others equally proud of their up-and-coming offspring. My teacher husband, Tom and I also attended the Sunscreen Film Festival last week, where our daughter Blair's "Relative Eternity" was an official selection in 2012. And, we followed that up with a trip to the SEmmy's (film festival/digital awards) at St. Petersburg College Tuesday, where Blair is an alum and won Best Director 2009 for her noir short "Three's A Crowd." Blair wasn't here for either, but we continue to follow the next to move up the ladder and cheer them on.

Anyway back to the Schmoes...

As I understand, these guys were small fish in the Hollywood pond and while pursuing comedic and film ventures, decided to get into the movie reviewing biz. So I went to youtube and started to watch clips and podcasts and I'm just crazy impressed by their knowledge of b-movie actors and cult classics. They are also comic book geeks and having attended our 2nd Tampa Comic Con this year, I kinda get that, too.

So I really hope Hollywood continues to embrace these guys and others like them. The world could use a few more Schmoes!


Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Film Daughter

Our youngest, Blair, is the filmmaker and screenwriter. She has made wonderful connections in Hollywood and landed great jobs on The Help, Savages and most recently NBC's 1600 Penn starring Bill Pullman.

Blair's production company Moviechic Productions released its first dramatic short in 2012. Relative Eternity was an official selection at LA Shorts, Sunscreen Film Festival and Short Film Corner Festival de Cannes. Picked up by  www.Snagfilms.com Relative Eternity will soon be available in its entirety.

Blair and her business partner Amy K. Green formed GreenSkin Productions in 2012 and created a comedy pilot Pleasant Pastures as well as a new webseries Stand Up Girls that will be featured on the show's Facebook page soon.

Stand Up Girls features 3 female stand up comedians with horribly misguided outlooks on life.
See www.facebook.com/standupgirls or their website http://www.standupgirlsshow.com/#

Starring Jenna Brister, Stephanie Kornick, and Hollie Meyer.

The characters are left to right:
Harper - Hyperactive, optimistic, and an avid collector of worthless art. Harper makes a living as a magician's personal assistant in Los Angeles. She is an amazing story-teller if and when she can stay focused on stage.
Ursula - Unwillingly patient, secretly judgmental, and morbidly single. Ursula performs stand up as her infamous character Louisa Franks, a socially unaware life romantic with a fupa.

Delores - Large and in charge Aussie with a penchant for pissing the world off without noticing. Dolores' stand up routine is in your face, oddly sexual, and occasionally offensive.
So where does Blair get her inspiration?
See Blair's Twitter Profile Picture
Yes, she's the one in the middle.
Follow her @themoviechic


Monday, February 18, 2013

The Acting Daughter

    Many of you are familiar with my novel Marquel. It was written long ago when our daughter Marquel was little and while she didn't read the novel until about 5 years ago, she has become an actress similar to the title character of the book that bears her name. Now the novel Marquel has many twists and I certainly don't want her to go through the life the character Marquel does, but I do wonder if there is some "Ruby Sparks" happening here?
     If you haven't seen "Ruby Sparks" by Zoe Kazan who stars as Ruby, the imdb description is:
A novelist struggling with writer's block finds romance in a most unusual way: by creating a female character he thinks will love him, then willing her into existence.
     Did I will Marquel into existence?
     I'm just a novelist/mom who created a story to fulfill a personal commitment I made to my 15-year-old self to: to have a daughter named Marquel and a novel by the same name.
     Why? I don't know? I was 15 when I started playing with names and ideas of how many children I would have. We have 2 girls in the film business and I just completed the second novel with Blair's name titled St. Blair: Children of the Night. Currently in a finishing stage.
     If Blair fulfills the path of her namesake novel, future generations will have to confirm that Blair time traveled like the character that bears her name. We won't be around to know, but if she does, what a legacy I will have! LOL
     For now, I couldn't resist sharing Marquel's first national role in the promo for ID Channel's Redrum. This 4th Wall Studios trailer is awesome! We are so proud of our girls!


Marquel Skinner as Courtney


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Film Roots

When we were growing up my mom liked to go to movies regularly and we went to one every month it seemed and sometimes had to turn in soda bottles to have enough for everyone. Our sister's admission was free, as I don't recall them charging for babies or toddlers. At the time our parents were newly divorced or in the process of divorcing. We subsisted on a very limited income, but always went to the movies as a five some (Mom and her 4 kids). Most often we paid with a few dollar bills and fistfuls of change as several of us would hold mom’s purse open and dig to the bottom for more as one of us would bounce our baby sister Ellen on our hip.
We always (ALWAYS) came in at the end or middle of the movie and then had to sit and wait for the movie to start back for the next showing and watch it all over again as the endings never really made sense until you saw the whole movie. I have to say, knowing the ending never spoiled the surprise, because it was still a fresh story and confusing until we saw the whole film.
We did that 99% of the time and I remember thinking it was crazy when movie theater’s started making the audience line up for a show. How could that be? We always got in whenever we darn well showed up and watched the movie sometimes twice. Or maybe they just felt sorry for the lady with a purse full of coins who brought her baby and three pre-teens. Maybe they understood the challenges of corralling this bunch and how it's possible that a mother could get some peace and quiet in a dark theater where her kids sat glued to the flashing images on a giant screen.
Or maybe they just let Mom in rather than make her sit in the lobby for an hour or more with us? Because we'd likely chase each other around the lobby if we weren't watching a movie. Most often we had to walk to the theater and our sister transported in a borrowed Pantry Pride shopping cart that we conveniently kept at our house. Mom didn't drive and we gave up on strollers as we couldn't carry many groceries in it and sometimes one of us would catch a ride in the cart.
And don’t get me started on Mom’s movie magazines! She bought a Silver Screen or Rona Barrett’s Hollywood every week. EVERY WEEK. This was her outlet and we all passed the magazines around and became quite the experts on the lives of Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Doris Day, Rock Hudson, Charlton Heston, Audrey Hepburn, Lucille Ball, Rex Harrison, Elvis Presley and more. I was lousy at every subject in school, but I knew who the major entertainers of day were romancing.
So it seems that eventually our family's fascination with Hollywood would lead to someone going West and it turned out to be our daughters Blair and Marquel. So far they haven't appeared in any magazines, but their work has appeared in film festivals and on TV.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Thanks firstpost.com for sharing the Marquel book trailer

To the editors and writers at Firstpost.com, thanks for the announcement of our Marquel Booktrailer http://www.firstpost.com/topic/person/eric-roberts-marquel-book-trailer-video-6e6O7iYqeVQ-23031-1.html that was produced by GreenSkin Productions in Los Angeles in August of 2012.
The trailer is the work of my daughters, Blair Skinner (1/2 of GreenSkin Productions along with Amy K. Green) and Marquel Skinner who stars in the trailer with Eric Roberts.

See some of the stories in my blog that share this labor of love.
Again, thanks!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Just finished the script for Marquel & the 2nd novel St. Blair

Gosh it's been awhile since I've posted anything.

So in a quick few minutes, I'll post the highlights and try to write more in the coming week.

I completed the 2nd novel "St. Blair: Children of the Night" in November. It's a young adult paranormal with our youngest daughter's name. I'm in the process of polishing it up for a literary agent's review.

I also just finished the first full draft of the "Marquel" film script which Amy K. Green and I are adapting from my novel of the same name. Marquel is also the first name of our oldest daughter, who  can be seen in the promo for a new series on Investigative Discovery Channel REDRUM. See http://rides.tv/watch/redrum/episode-1/ .  We only have 2 daughters.

Anyway, it's technically a 2nd draft of the film script, given Amy did a full version and I utilized her script to put my touches on it and do a rewrite. Amy is Blair's roommate and also the co-creator of GreenSkin Productions, a company Blair and Amy started.

GreenSkin has produced a comedy pilot Pleasant Pastures, the booktrailer for my novel, "Marquel" and they are currently working on a webseries Standup Girls. See https://www.facebook.com/StandUpGirls and http://www.standupgirlsshow.com/#
Blair is also working as a production assistant for the new show 1600 Penn on NBC and may have a few surprises coming, but I'm sworn to secrecy.

More to come...