The Difference Between.
So, that’s the name of the new series that I’m writing and directing. We’ve already shot the first episode, and the footage came out great. We worked on the voice over last night, and I’ve yet to check that out. Partly from over-excitement, partly from nerves.
It’s very similar to what I experienced when shooting 8 for Vegas. We never looked at the footage after we shot it. Not until the editing.
But I wanted to share a story with you about how name The Difference Between came about.
In 1995 I was living in Hoboken, NJ with my then girlfriend. I was just out of college, I was working at a Foodtown in the wine store there, and I was trying to break into comics. We lived, at the time, on 2nd and Grand, in a commercial space. We had the entire floor, and three roommates. And mice. And my gf’s cat, Artemus.
I had recently graduated from the School of Visual Arts for comic book illustration. It was, and still is, my passion. Or, one of them.
I had seen Pulp Fiction the year before and went out and purchased the published screenplay, if only because it was just such an interesting film, and to see the script would give me some insight into storytelling.
I went out, bought a typewriter… yes, a typewriter… and started on my first script, The Difference Between.
Now, keep in mind, this was pre-internet. For me, at least. It was pre- a lot of things. It would be a couple of years before I owned my own computer. Or a DVD player. Or had a reasonable paying job where I didn’t feel it necessary to tamper down all of my hatred and rage for my bosses, and go into work feeling like I was already a failure at 22 for not being a comic book star. Blah blah.
I wrote out The Difference Between, and two other screenplays, on that typewriter, and I loved it. As much as I hated the noise, there was something both satisfying and final about the typewriter. Even though I had correcting tape, every sentence needed to have meaning.
I still feel that way, even though I’ve graduated to a laptop, but it was a great way to start out my writing ‘career’.
Having read the script for Pulp Fiction, you can imagine the similarities my first script had to it. Not so much in terms of dialog… I’ve never been one for quippy dialog. At least, quippy for the sake of being quippy.
Quip: A clever, witty remark often prompted by the occasion.
But, it was in 3 separate but interlocking acts, it did have a lot of violence and… shit. It’s been a decade, at least, since I’ve even looked at those pages (which I still have). Probably quippy dialog.
We even attempted to shoot a 30 minute short of the film. Condensed down to give ‘investors’ an idea of the script. I found some foundation in the city for indie filmmakers, at the time, and made some friends and they were helping me out with the film.
It was a disaster.
One of the actors I had cast ended up not showing up to a main shoot, where I had spent a significant amount of money on a camera rental and film, props, etc.
I was 22, and if I could go back, I would take my 22 year old self aside and say “This is how things work. People are going to flake out, especially if they’re not your friends. You’re going to have to figure a way around this because you won’t get another chance at this. At least, not any time soon.”
Not, as I found out, for like 16 years later, for god sake.
I had to pack everything up, pay people what I could, and I wouldn’t touch a film camera for another 8 years. A Canon GL1, a high end camera that I purchased and never did a damned thing with. Add another 7 years to that, and you’re caught up. So much time wasted.
I did continue to write, though. I never found writing to be dangerous… but, then, I’ve never really gone the Hemingway route of writing:
“Write drunk, edit sober.”
That’s not to say I haven’t written gold inebriated. I have. But it’s no way to live, and it’s too expensive a lifestyle for someone unemployed.
I had a long talk with my mom about that production, so many years ago. She had paralleled that experience with what had happened during our 8 for Vegas shoot. I’m trying to find the exact blog post, but I cannot. Suffice it to say, if you have any interest in shooting a web series, you may want to check out my 8 for Vegas blog, and start from the beginning. I talk about all kinds of stuff that may help prevent a headache or two.
The thing is, there wasn’t just one time when I felt like quitting. There were like three or four, and it was this that sparked the conversation with my mom. “Do you think you feel like quitting because you quit that other film you were trying to do?”
“Mom, please. I’m not hung up on something that happened almost two decades ago!”
But, I was.
It took a lot to power through. I spoke with my friend T.O.S. (he wants to remain reasonably anonymous) and it was around week 4 when I had counted what money I had left and where we were with the script and I told him “I was going to quit and give people back their money…” and he said “But you’re past the point of no return.”
It’s so interesting how things played out, and where I am now. I had mentioned in an earlier post about the benefits of finishing a project being equal to the idea that half of life is showing up.
If your end product sucks… it’s better than quitting in the middle and having no product at all. Also, what you learned along the way is invaluable, as so many can attest to. Plus, you can always re-shoot. Might take a while (eyeroll), but you can.
Tomorrow should be interesting. We’ll be shooting the fundraising video, and I’m at a total loss of what to say. I wrote up a tiny script for a Season 2 teaser… putting together a fundraising video isn’t easy. But we’ll have fun tomorrow, regardless, and I’m sure Season 2 will be as good, if not better, than Season 1.
To bring this all around again, the new series, The Difference Between, is nothing like a Tarantino picture, and my dialog writing has matured immensely. One of the best tips I ever found for dialog writing was from Kevin Smith, who said he learned much of his dialog writing from writer Gregory McDonald, who wrote a bunch of novels with two fantastic mystery characters. Fletch and Flynn. If you get a chance, give his novels a go. They’re fantastic. Especially the dialog.
Thanks for reading. Hope you’re having a good weekend!
PS – if you haven’t already, like “8 for Vegas” on Facebook! Thanks in advance!