Saturday, July 4, 2015


What's the Best Approach to Working out Your Story?



Friday, June 12, 2015


This reminded me quite a bit of "The Road Warrior"..........or at least those kind of stories. It is a fast paced story that I was able to read in 1 day. Very good at keeping me wanting more. Never a dull moment to be sure.

THE WIND RAIDER - BK ONE is just the beginning... 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

An Excerpt from the Latest Post by "Professional Screenwriter" Author Richard Finney 

The entertainment Industry has a sorry past of taking the hip catch-phrase/ memorable gesture in produced movies and recycling the moment as a weapon to use against someone who has hit an Entertainment Career Detour. 

“Hasta la vista, baby” was the Valedico du jour after “Terminator 2” became a hit movie in the 90s.

And two decades before, the classic Industry send off for failure was the full face kiss Michael Corleone gives his brother Fredo in “GodfatherII."  

For the purpose of giving back to the industry, I’ve collected some commonly used phrases used today in Hollywood so the younger generation coming up through the ranks will better understand that there are often times in this Industry when “Hello” actually means “Goodbye” --

“Who are you… and how did you get on the lot?”

“Thank you for your submission. Your script was covered by one of our best Interns...”

“I had my agent call your agent. It turns out you don’t have an agent… or a manager. But we have a bigger problem -- you also don’t have a lawyer. So right now, my lawyer is just sitting in his office… not sure who he should call…”

“I’m sure you’re really important, but I still need to see your badge”

“Go ahead and use that phone to try and contact your agent. Let’s find out together if he answers your call.”

“My assistant read to me the evaluation on your script this morning. Brace yourself because what I heard from her was not good news...”

“I heard someone here really liked your script, but unfortunately we're no longer accepting any script submissions outside the 310 area code.”

“I saw your movie at the premiere party. But that was a long time ago. At least nine months, right? Have you ever tasted champagne from a bottle opened nine months ago? There’s no bubbles rising to the top. Just the taste of sour grapes.”


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Check out the latest posts on... 



I think there’s some valuable advice in Jacob Stuart’s original post. 
Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of problems. 

A big problem is the apocalyptic-like title he employs for his post. 
On the one level he probably intended, he has succeeded -- people have made comments. And I'm now posting my reaction to a blog that lured me in with a provocative title.
Unfortunately, after digesting the content of his post, there is no level the title of his post truthfully resonates except as an exploitative tease.

A Documentary Series and  a Movie
Both focused on the Same Man
Both Shot by the Same filmmakers
One made history, and the other sucked

What is the one thing in Everyday Life often missing in badly written Screenplays? The answer is Conflict.”

Why Screenwriters should think about ‘Shelf Life’ when Writing

Why it should not be the End of the Three Act Structure

How speaking The Language of ‘Film Truth’ could make or break your Film career.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Original Book DEMON DAYS is being published online... for Free!


Book One

Right now -- Read CHAPTERS 1-17 
More Chapters to follow until the Entire Book is Published on-line. 

The First Book is being 
Includes extras online found no where else!

Monday, February 9, 2015

"The World in Chaos" Boxed Set has been PUBLISHED!

THREE BOOKS... at an incrediably low price... just 99 cents!

2015 is the year! 
We will be publishing the next books in -
 Three extraordinary Book Series! 
And we wanted to make it easier for readers to get on board... 
Before the next books come out! 

Three Books - Three Book Series 


Thursday, January 8, 2015

All three PROFESSIONAL SCREENWRITER Books are amazon Best Sellers

The New Year has the first three E-Books in the PS Series ranked as Best-Sellers!

Amazon Best Sellers Rank 
#46 Kindle eBooks > Movies & Video > Screenwriting
#58 Kindle eBooks > Arts & Photography > Performing Arts
#93 Kindle eBooks > Publishing & Books > Authorship

Amazon Best Sellers Rank 
#75 Kindle eBooks > Movies & Video > Screenwriting

Amazon Best Sellers Rank
#70 Kindle eBooks >  Movies & Video > Screenwriting

Monday, November 3, 2014


A tragic train collision in America kills hundreds of innocent people.
A series of grisly and ritualistic murders baffle authorities in Europe.
A natural disaster in the Middle East annihilates thousands.
A global rise of accidents trigger Near Death Experiences in the victims.


Vampires have taken over...
Those who survived the War
Are iConcentration Camps...
All over the World. 
Matt Haynes and Tyra Redmond 
Are prisoners at CCC197 
Kept alive only for their BLOOD 
Escape is their only hope... 
If they are to lead the LIVING back from the brink of Extinction.

For the last decade BLACK MARIAH 
has been a savior for humankind.
The alien possesses incredible POWERS and is INVINCIBLE!
At least this is what the world has come to believe.

The truth: the alien is not invincible.
have been turned into -- 
When the alien creature dies
Another human is recruited.
Jeri Asher is the best at her job... 
Recruiting human volunteers  
To become the next... Black Mariah. But Jeri now has grave doubts...
About hiding a secret -- The truth behind the sacrifice
So the WORLD can be Saved

He was an outlier… 
An outcast from those who survived. 
His purpose in life was Revenge
And yet, Tristan Moir became known as...
The Wind Raider
When you control the wind… 
You control the fate of Humanity.

Monday, October 27, 2014


After the promotion ends on 

Ranked #59, 434 in the Kindle Store! 

Visit the Official RELICT Vampire Book Series Blog Page for the latest info and an EXCERPT from the next Book --


coming soon!  

Friday, October 24, 2014

"DRAWING BLOOD" is on the AMAZON e-Book Best Sellers list!

LAST UPDATE 10-26-14 
Now that the dust has cleared...
The giveaway of Drawing Blood was a huge success! 
 Best ranking in 48 hours came late last night --
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #273 !
#1 in Kindle Store - Lit Fiction - Genre Fiction - War

#6 in Kindle Store - Lit Fiction - Horror - Occult

UPDATED 10-25-14 / 6:01 pm

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #303 !
#1 in Kindle Store - Lit Fiction - Genre Fiction - War

#5 in Kindle Store - Lit Fiction - Horror - Occult



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

DEMON DAYS e-book and print version will become history...

10/15/14 UPDATE 

Apparently the message has gotten out -- DEMON DAYS is being grabbed by readers on!

#4,597 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
#3 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Religious & Inspirational Fiction > Mystery
#3 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Religion & Spirituality > Occult > Near-Death Experiences
#41 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Horror > Occult

    LAST CHANCE to get the kindle e-book and paperback of Demon Days before we stop publishing the book!

    And you can get the kindle e-book for FREE! 

    After Oct. 31st, only the audio book of Demon Days on audible will be available. We’ll also be discontinuing the Demon Days print book as well. 

    Here’s where you can get it right now – 

    Wednesday, October 1, 2014


    “So this is the guy?”
    The muted illumination in the containment suite was supposed to have a calming effect on the prime asset after he returned from a mission. But as Black Mariah stood inches away from the Plexiglas barrier, staring ominously at Rick McNeill, it was apparent the lighting design had failed to achieve the desired results.
    “This is who you want to bring in to replace me?” 
    The audio system between the containment suite and the viewing lounge had a way of turning Black Mariah’s voice into something tinny and distant. And rather than the flaw in the acoustics rendering the creature less intimidating, it made the cadence in his speech even more ominous sounding to the four people standing on the other side of the Plexiglas. 
    “Are you serious? Tell me you aren’t serious…” 
    Dr. Ann Wolcott, the prime asset’s psych handler, tapped a button on a control panel embedded in the wall, allowing the prime asset to hear their response from the viewing lounge. 
    “I’m completely shocked to hear your words, Quen. I’ll accept the blame for getting it wrong, but we’re all here because I agreed to the meeting. And I only agreed to this meeting because you agreed. Did I get what we discussed wrong?” 
    She waited, but the prime asset behaved as if he did not hear a word his handler had spoken. “What about it, Quen, did I get it wrong?”
    Black Mariah still didn’t respond as he continued to glare at Rick McNeill.
    Wolcott moved away from the control panel and planted herself in front of the candidate to become the next Black Mariah.

    Friday, September 19, 2014

    The END DAYS have ARRIVED!

    No need to panic…
    Just grab your headphones...

    The DEMON DAYS Audio Book is HERE!
    Check out the book on AUDIBLE
    Even if you’re one of the thousands...
    Who have already read the book...
    Hearing the text read aloud…

    the story 

    While on vacation...
    Sandy Travis and her fiance Tom are in a helicopter accident. 
    The crash causes Tom to have an Near-Death Experience.
    Tom is revived by Sandy.
    Afterwards, he tells her about seeing...
    An Angel of Light... who sent him back...
    So he could achieve more among the living.
    But Tom is wrong about what he saw during his N.D.E.
    Horribly wrong.

    Tom's N.D.E. plunges Sandy into a dangerous race...
    Against malevolent forces who want to trigger Armageddon
    She must save Tom from dark forces controlling his life. 
    Follow a bloody trail of coded secrets...
    And targeted assassinations
    Sandy's plight will pit her against an otherworldly cabal...
    Using the process of N.D.E. to usher in.... 

    Thursday, July 17, 2014

    "16 Secrets" is an Bestseller!!!!

    Amazon Best Sellers Rank: 
    #35 in Screenwriting
    #54 in Performing Arts
    #87 in Authorship

    Congratulations author Richard Finney on your third amazon best selling screenwriting book!!!!

    Tuesday, July 1, 2014


    For all of the Screenwriters out there --
     who have been waiting for the next e-book in this series --
    the e-book has arrived!!!

    You can get this book for at --

    Get your copy now!!!

    Here are a few of the CHAPTER TITLES in the book along with some excerpts from each chapter --  

    Keeping the audience on edge, but not in the dark

    Movie audiences love novelty.
    They also enjoy seeing the same thing in a different way.
    And audiences love to see the same thing, literally, which is why people will watch a TV show or film over and over again. It gives them comfort in a real world that is often unpredictable and always changing.
    The goal of a screenwriter is to come up with screenplays for movies that will service at least one of the desires mentioned above, but not necessarily all of them, even if it were possible to plan such a thing in advance.
    Knowing when to play something different and when to deliver the same thing in a new and (hopefully) better way is just one of the creative goals of a screenwriter if he writes for a commercial audience.
    The professional writer who is quoted at the head of this chapter enjoyed career success because he understood the expectations of a modern movie audience. Of course, there are other factors that lead to a successful screenplay, but being concerned about how modern audiences will perceive the execution of your script is certainly one of the major things you should consider while writing your screenplay.
    Audiences are changing, and their expectations of being entertained… and enlightened by a movie are changing as well.
    One of the most profound changes in constructing a screen story is the way a screenwriter is expected to please a modern audience regarding the brevity and pace of the first act. Writing for a modern audience requires screenwriters to construct their first act with fewer steps and deeper footprints. 

    The Unbearable NG-Force of Being

    Maintaining this mystery throughout the plot and keeping viewers’ tension level high is hopefully what every screenwriter achieves throughout their “A” storyline. But often times, the Professional Screenwriter will include a “B” storyline that can have its origins before the “A” storyline begins, but then runs a parallel course as the screenplay’s plot unfolds.
    We spent the previous chapter analyzing the first act in the screenplay Michael Clayton, and one of the points I mentioned is that the first act turns out to be a “Flash Forward” in the storyline.
    The choice to reveal story points in the first act which will reappear later in the narrative is done for a specific reason – NG-Force. The fact that the filmmaker of Michael Clayton opted to have his entire first act showcase events that actually occur (in the linear version of the story) in the second act demonstrates the storytelling power of the NG-Force. In the case of Michael Clayton, audiences engaged with the first act are compelled to discover the reason the main character was targeted for death and are riveted as the rest of the story unfolds.  

    Beware of the Undertow

    I’ll begin demonstrating the possibilities of Undertow by drawing upon the best of recent film franchises, The Lord of the Rings trilogy (“LRT”), one of the greatest achievements in modern filmmaking (screenwriters Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens, based on the novels by J.R.R. Tolkien). 
    There are many characters featured in the trilogy narrative who have been deepened with the Undertow, but for our discussion, I will select Frodo Baggins. I believe the most important wave that rushes to the beach with Frodo from the very beginning of the first film’s screenplay is… fear… fear… fear.
    Fear of change.
    Fear of losing his friends.
    Fear of disappointing people he looks up to…
    Frodo is a hobbit and the threat of losing this way of life would be the Undertow running across his large feet as he accepts the adventure’s challenge. 

    The Small Screen has become the Big Screen

    This obvious difference between film and TV could be summed up as “canvas size,” a reference to the amount of space upon which an artist is allowed to express his vision.
    Most theatrical movies push the screenwriter to tell a story on a canvas that is 90 - 110 minutes in length.
    The burden of this type of small canvas is that so much has to be accomplished. In the first act alone, the screenwriter must introduce the main characters… the story… the plot and do all this while simultaneously laying the pipe for the rest of the narrative that is to come in the next two acts. And of course, all this must be done in a way that excites and emotionally engages the audience, so they will keep watching. 

    Keep your friends and enemies close, but your Director closer

    If things are going well, the way a director thinks should at times be different than the thought process of a screenwriter. I respect filmmakers who have done both, who often times commit to working on a project only as a screenwriter, waiting to commit their services as a director until they’ve had a chance to remove themselves mentally from the first creative process. Writing and shooting a screenplay are two different things, and should be treated as such, even when they are being handled by one filmmaker. 

    The Magic of 3hree to shape Scenes and Structure in your Script

    With this chapter, I’m trying to convey a writing formula that might help screenwriters outline the plot of a potential project. This theory emerged from an idea that people can’t help but subconsciously think of daily life in “threes.” For instance, we often break down any day into three sections – morning, afternoon, and night.
    But that’s not the only instance. Our heads break down a lot of other aspects of our lives into threes. When we walk across a plaza crowded with people, whether we realize it or not, there’s something in our minds that is probably separating the people around us into three groups – child, adult, and old age.
    The human mind loves to compartmentalize what it encounters because it can mentally organize it, bringing order to what we experience with the goal of controlling it. 

    Thursday, June 12, 2014


    BOOK TWO  - Shadows in the Light 



    Monday, July 29, 2013

    As the Publisher of this book we are very excited about the reviews!!!

    One review that appeared on both and caught our eyes and we wanted to share it with you --


    July 16, 2013

    First of all, this author knows how to write. Each novel he creates is an adventure in itself, whether part of a series or not. Each one features different worlds, unique, interesting characters, and exciting locales. "Black Mariah - A Calling", the first book in his latest series is no exception.

    Whether it’s an alien artifact located in a Brazilian jungle, a South Carolina Red Wolf Preserve, a cruise ship in the Atlantic Ocean, or a secretive government operative center in Washington D.C., there are plenty of plot lines to keep the reader's interest, no matter the preferred genre. 

    This novel crosses genre lines with elements of Sci-fi, action, suspense, drama, mystery, even a little humor. Add to the mix a humanoid/reptilian alien creature who is able to mysteriously appear and disappear from one location to another, intervening in situations to help humanity like some sort of scaly superman. This leads us to the pivotal question in this book: Who is Black Mariah? Certainly not an invincible superman, for it has died before, more than once to be exact. In fact, there have been 11 different Black Mariahs… 

    One of things I love most about the way this author writes, is that the written word plays out in your head as if you were watching a movie. A 3D, in your face, IMAX experience type of movie. Take a smooth as satin plot, add action and suspense, stir in a wide variety of captivating, believable characters and you have “Black Mariah A Calling”. Make no mistake about it, even though the story runs as smoothly it does, the reader is not spoon fed; there is plenty of room for the imagination to work. The author has skillfully laid out the framework in this novel for future books in the series. The characters may not have been fleshed out quite to the extent which some readers like, but there were plenty of attributes and more than enough humanity applied to allow the reader to connect.
    (Since this is the first book in the series, I’m sure from having read other works by this author, that in the remaining books our questions will be answered, with more revealed about the characters we love, hate, and want to know more about). 

    So I leave you with the question, "Who is Black Mariah?". This is where you, the reader, are a major participant...recruited into the mission to discover who or what exactly Black Mariah is. 

    It's a loaded question, and I'm not telling. You'll just have to read it yourself. 

    Saturday, June 8, 2013


    This Book Series is about…

    If humanity is to be saved... 

    There is only one man who can do it... 


    Tuesday, January 15, 2013


     "I smiled back, right before going over to my camera and pushing the little red button. 
    I had my shot."

    interviews his co-author of 

    One of the great things about working with other creative artists is the chance you will be inspired by their brilliance. Certainly this is what happened regarding my collaboration with the writer, producer, and director Franklin (“Frankie”) Guerrero.
    We first met after he sent me a rough cut of his directorial debut, “The 8th Plague.” At that point in the process, the film wasn’t perfect, but had a lot of great stuff in it. And the great stuff was inventive, bloody, and scary. However, the sequence in the movie that first had me sit up and take notice wasn’t bloody or scary, just inventive – it was this ambitiously long, creatively choreographed, perfectly executed steady cam shot.
    Unfortunately, as Frankie and I began working together on rethinking aspects of the movie, we both agreed that if the film was to get better, one of the actors would have to be replaced, and all of his scenes would have to be filmed again with a different actor. This meant that the ambitious steady cam sequence I had fallen in love with would have to be completely re-shot, which I was afraid would end up losing something when it was attempted again.
    As it turned out, there would be no problem.
    The re-shooting of that steady cam sequence with the new cast member, and of course members of the original cast, was my first chance to personally watch Frankie in action. Like the original production, Frankie strapped on the steady cam gear himself, and then completely shot the sequence again, ending up duplicating almost frame for frame what I had seen before.
    Actually, what Frankie did the second time around was even better.  
    I realized then that serendipity was not a necessary component for Frankie to execute his creative vision.
    We next began working together on a film project that Frankie had written titled, “Carver.” The goal was to create a disturbing horror film with a level of grim reality that fans of the slasher genre would appreciate. This time I was there for the entire production as one of the producers. My day to day presence allowed me to see firsthand how a truly creative person doesn’t need perfect circumstances to achieve his artistic vision. Indeed, during production, I came to realize that when creatively talented people are put into a corner, or are under the gun, they are able to thrive despite whatever obstacles may arise. 
    The years since the release of “Carver” have been kind. The film has ended up becoming a hugely popular cult movie. It turns out that if anyone knows me at all in the film world, it’s usually because of my association with this horror movie.
    Frankie eventually moved to Los Angeles and we have continued to work together. In 2012 we co-authored a novel, “Drawing Blood;” And we were co-screenwriters on a short movie that Frankie directed -- "THE TOWN THAT CHRISTMAS FORGOT".
    Frankie’s persona is what I wish I was more like -- patient, polite, and persevering. The first two qualities are readily apparent whenever you spend any time with Frankie; the third personality trait completely reveals itself when everyone else involved in a particular project has moved along to their next endeavor. I believe perseverance is encoded into the DNA of most successful filmmakers and it’s where I wanted to start with this interview.

    RICHARD FINNEY: Months and months ago you proposed we work on a film project that wound up becoming the short movie, The Town that Christmas Forgot (“TTTCF”). Just as I was preparing for this interview, I got a chance to watch the locked version of the movie. So much time has passed, honestly, it’s difficult to recall the details of how we even started on this project in the first place. I do remember that you wanted to shoot a short movie in the vein of the old EC comics/the movie “Creepshow.” And you said, “I want to have some fun.” That’s all I remember. Which leads me to the fact that I’m always stunned by the perseverance an indie filmmaker must possess to finish a project. What do you tell yourself that maintains your focus on a project as you work day after day after day, month after month, until you finally end up with a movie people can view?

    FRANKLIN GUERRERO: Well, believe me, I have my share of unfinished projects or ideas lingering around in various stages of non-completeness. And there are times, during the process of something like TTTCF, where I do get overwhelmed, and I want to throw in the towel. It’s so easy to quit. On a larger project, like on the feature, Carver, it can be really hard to muscle through to the end.

    I grew up in Northern Virginia, where it snows infrequently enough that getting a snow storm was a magical thing. Such an occurrence meant -- One, we get to go sledding. Two, if the snow was plentiful, without being too powdery, we get to build a snow fort. I used to build epic snow forts with my sister -- big enough to stand in and stand on. We could build campfires inside without compromising the integrity of the structure! Finishing a film is like building one of those snow forts.

    You start out excited, about to embark on something you love doing but don’t often get to do since the conditions have to be just right. And even though at first it’s a lot of fun, it’s also a lot of hard work. Building a snow fort meant hauling sleds full of snow from other yards into your own and dumping it into a large pile and at some point, you have a massive pile of snow. In the filmmaking process, this is the equivalent of wrapping principal photography. You’ve got something to show for a lot of hard work, but it still needs to be cut up and gutted out. You can envision your end product in this unformed mass, but you know you’re less than half way there. Now you begin digging. Two or more of us would begin tunneling through this mass from opposite ends. It was grueling. And although other people are working on the fort, you are all alone in a dark little tunnel, chipping away at hard packed snow, thinking that you’ll never break through. This is very much like post production. I remember on every snow fort there was a point in the tunneling process that I just wanted to quit because it seemed impossible that I’d ever break through. I wanted to call it a day. Go get a cup of cocoa.

    But then I would get to the point where there was a little bit of sunlight poking through the wall of ice. It meant I was getting close. My excitement would pick back up, making me dig down into my reserves and double my efforts. Sure there was still a crap-ton of work left to do, but the fun was put back into the task. I got excited, and the other kids got excited. We fed on each others’ excitement and began working at almost a suicidal pace to finish.

    When I’m finishing any creative project, and I get those negative, daunting feelings, I just think of that bit of sunlight shining through the ice. And when things are really hard, I can get some moral support and encouragement from my wife. Then it can feel like I’m not digging alone in that cold, dark tunnel. Soon enough… there will be cocoa.

    RF: At the end of the day there’s an aspect of freedom to writing a novel that is almost always not there when one writes a screenplay. A perfect example is TTTCF. All of our work on the screenplay had one thing in common -- ultimately you, as the director, would have to figure out a way to shoot it. And the production based on our screenplay would be on a limited budget, with actors, crew, a schedule, and production locations. And yet somehow, despite the built in limitations of the production, you demonstrated time and time again to be inventive, never once disappearing into a creative shell. How were you able to pull that off?

    FG: I guess one reason is that I have an advantage over most other indie filmmakers in a similar situation. I have a lot of visual effects experience. This knowledge allows me to work on a screenplay knowing what I can realistically achieve during production. This knowledge and experience also frees my mind during the imagination phase. You don’t feel as limited and constricted while you’re writing. As a filmmaker, I am at the point where I feel if there is a certain kind of visual effect that I want to do, I’m confident I will be able to figure it out creatively in the post process one way or the other. Of course, there will always be obstacles that remain, locations for instance, which inevitably influence where your story goes. But it all works out in the end, more or less. Usually.

    RF: You mentioned “locations,” and it reminded me of the video trailer you directed for a book I authored DEMON DAYS - Angel of Light. The trailer you directed and produced was amazing. The cherry on top was this great shot you were able to add that came from the top of a building in downtown Los Angeles. You got that shot without first clearing the location. The day of the shoot, just as you were ready to begin shooting, building security showed up and completely shut everything down. Suddenly, you slipped into being a guerrilla filmmaker…

    FG: Ah fun times. When the security guy came to kick us out, I pulled out all the charm and begged him to let us get what we needed, but no way… he wouldn’t budge. Little did he know, as I was arguing my cause, I was secretly framing up my shot. By the time the security guard gave his final “no,” I was already rolling. I said, “Okay pal, you win. I’m outta here”. I then whispered to the actor to proceed with everything we had rehearsed, while I began to slowly pack up everything but the camera. Mind you it wasn’t my ideal shot, but it was still an impressive shot. The security guard stood there watching me with a smug expression on his face, his arms crossed with an over-bloated sense of power. Eventually, I smiled back, right before going over to my camera, and pushing the little red button. I had my shot.

    RF: What I loved about working with you on TTTCF was that you were not only the co-screenwriter of the movie, you were the director. It meant to me that perhaps we would have more than one opportunity to execute in production something that we had written together on the page.  


    For example, our script had a scene where the Santa Claus character makes a discovery that changes the stakes regarding his future. You ended up shooting what we originally wrote, but after we viewed a rough cut of the movie, we both agreed that the way you were able to shoot this particular plot point fell short of what we had originally envisioned.

    Cut to months later. You were able to shoot a new take. The sequence in the finished film begins with a close-up of Santa, then the camera slowly rises towards the ceiling, eventually revealing a much wider shot which visually captures the original intent of our script.  That shot, not part of the principal photography, is my favorite visual in the film! For me, it was the umpteenth example of how, in film, the director is the essential creative force behind a production.  And in the right hands, that’s a great thing.

    FG: The ability to do a day of reshoots/pickups is so invaluable for any filmmaker. It’s important to know that it is there, if necessary, but it’s also very important not to use it as a crutch during principal. In the specific example you referenced above, I remember that when I originally shot the footage I was extremely pressed for time. As a result, I didn’t really have a chance to take the necessary time to set the shot up the way it really should have been done. When I watched the footage later, I wasn’t surprised to see that it came out just so-so. I tried to mess with what I shot… cut it, re-cut it, but nothing really “sold” the plot point we were going for. Then I had the idea of how I could do it simply and more effectively with the aid of visual effects. So I kinda got lucky in a weird way. If I had been able to take more time to set that shot up exactly right, I would not have tried to re-imagine it… and I wouldn’t have ended up with something that is so much cooler!

    RF: Another part of the “writing process” is “the casting process.”  Something many fledging writers are not aware of. You had a table read for TTTCF.  You then rehearsed with the actors, and eventually because of this process, you were able to tap that interaction and incorporate changes to the script that benefited the entire production. As a screenwriter, you are comfortable with this process. Can you describe how and why you are so comfortable with this aspect of filmmaking?

    FG: You can have the most beautifully written dialogue in the world, but at the end of the day, if you and the actor can’t easily find a way for them to deliver the words truthfully, then what’s the point? 

    Sometimes, it’s best to tailor the dialogue for the actors so you can achieve a believable performance. I think it’s really as simple as that. I don’t have much of an ego, so I feel so much better about the actor giving a good performance than about trying to force them to say something that doesn’t come naturally to them. Plus, a good actor has great instincts. A lot of times they get into the character so much that what they improv sounds more like what the character would actually say than anything I could write! I guess it all comes down to feeling comfortable with letting go, and trusting the process of creative collaboration.

    RF: Okay, so for all of us socially challenged people reading your response, can you give us a few hints about what exactly you, as the director, are whispering to the actor as you try to get them to not do what the actor just did on a particular take?

    FG: It’s a given that actors need feedback to know when to augment their performance. Actors in the theater get this feedback during rehearsals, but also get it from an audience taking in their performance. The film actor has an audience of one -- the director. That puts a lot of responsibility on your shoulders if you’re the director. The actors are putting all their trust in you. A good actor is one that is really putting their self out there emotionally, leaving them vulnerable. You’ve got a performer that just poured their heart out for you on camera, so the last thing they want to hear is “that was terrible.” Even if the actor is unhappy with their own performance. My approach is to always be diplomatic about the feedback. There is almost always something positive that I can honestly give back to them, not in an attempt to sugar coat the negative, but a response that will re-enforce their effort -- “that thing you did with that other line was great, we just need to match that energy with this one line.” That kind of response will allow the actor to make adjustments, but also encourage the actor to be… vulnerable again.

    RF: Working as a writer-director, you’re able to do something I have a lot of trouble with. I work hard on a script, finally getting the work to the point where I think it is ready to be filmed, and always my inclination is to herd people together for a production, then insist everyone stick to what is written on the page. Your approach is not as dictatorial. When you direct, you embrace the opportunity for either a department head or an actor to augment, or change what you’ve written. Clearly your approach is the right method, but how tough is it for you to walk that creative fine line?

    FG: For me, this really comes down to how I wear my different hats on set.  The department heads are all individuals with their own talents, personalities and opinions. People may think that the differing of opinions, the butting of the heads is a bad thing. In my opinion… that is not so! I mean, yeah, to a point if we can’t agree on anything and the arguments eat up precious production time fighting, then that’s bad. But so often, great things come from one person taking another person’s idea, running with it, and ending up making it their own. 

    Where I’m going with this is -- to be successful as a director, it doesn’t hurt to be a lotta bit schizophrenic. Once I write a script, that’s it, I’m done. I take off my “writer” hat, put on my “director” hat, and pretend that some other guy wrote the material I’m now shooting. I do the same when I go into the edit room. That frees me up to reinterpret my own directorial vision and get a completely fresh take on what I’ve shot. I have seen so many writer/directors that cannot do this, and it almost always ends badly. Often, they get offended or emotional, as we writers do, when an actor says something like “This line feels awkward to me”. You must separate yourself from being the writer of the script, be more objective, so you can look at a line of dialogue and say, “yeah, the writer’s an idiot. How would you say this?” At the end of the day, the project will be better for your fractured brain.

    RF: I know you were really excited to be writing your first novel. Like me, you started out as a screenwriter, so there’s inevitably a creative transition. What aspect of writing your first novel excited you in ways because it was going to be different than writing another screenplay?

    FG: I think it goes back to your earlier question. There are no limitations when you write a novel! If I am writing a morally questionable scene that takes place in the Vatican, then I don’t have to worry about getting approval from the pope. Nor do I have to worry about whether we have the money to build a believable set. I can just do it. Basically, there are no consequences, and that’s kind of cool.

    Another nice thing about a novel versus a screenplay is when I write a screenplay, I often get carried away when writing stage direction. I get a little too flowery or put in little jokes. All of this is 100% lost on the screen, and most actors reading it anyway skip ahead to see how much dialogue they have. With a novel, every word counts. However, I believe that in the process of creating my films, I’ve discovered it is somewhat similar to writing novels. So many novelists crave creative control, but since I typically write, produce, and direct my films, I do end up feeling very much like a novelist writing a book.

    RF: The novel we wrote together, “Drawing Blood,” is the first in “The Relict” book series. The feedback from readers since the novel’s publication has been amazing. And yet we both know we’re just getting started. Some of the best aspects of the story we’re going to be telling will begin to unfold in the next few books. But throughout this entire process, I’ve often wondered if you were cool with the idea that we’re writing something for readers to take in… and they are sort of “the director” of their imagination rather than you directing a visual version of what we’ve written?

    FG: Yeah, I’m totally cool with that aspect of writing novels. It certainly takes the pressure off of me! Then again, I also believe as the authors, we are kind of also the directors of their imagination. Our words suggest what they see, while the reader casts the actors, and their imagination is like the Director of Photography in the film production that is going on inside their head.