Thursday, December 13, 2007

Robson Arms available on iTunes

There are no excuses now.

No: "Sorry I missed it"... "My video store doesn't carry it"... "I can't afford a box set"... "I just don't like you, leave me alone."

Season Two of Robson Arms is available through Apple's CanadianiTunes store. Just a $1.99 per episode.

As a bonus you can see the writers'(and producers and directors) credits in the free preview available on the site.

Sweet.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Day of Solidarity

Today the WGC is organizing a Day of Solidarity for the members of the WGA. There have been protests around the world and here in Canada in Montreal and Toronto.

Notably, despite efforts from various local WGC members there's an Inexplicable Nothing going on here in Vancouver. What the hell?! To do our bit the writers here on set at RA have resolved to stay in crafty all afternoon if that's what it takes to get the message out.

I've been following the strike on the Dead Things website. Thanks for the updates Denis.

Seriously do something if you can. It's Wednesday so maybe you don't watch several of your favourite American programs. How 'bout watching a Canadian show. Or if you didn't want to do something so drastic. You could just talk about stuff, things like: "Dude, doesn't it seem fair to be paid for work that others are profiting from?" and "Jeepers, what will happen to BSG if this thing isn't settled soon?!"

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Where the writer talks of what he little knows.

I've been asked a lot lately about the WGA writers' strike. Is there some way the strike will benefit us, film and television writers north of the border?

All I know about it I've been reading from Denis's website.

Although I can't honestly say what effect the strike will have on Canadian writers, the effects are certainly rippling through the Canadian film and television industry.

And they're not good.

We're in the middle of shooting the last five episodes of season three and on set this morning I was told that there are no fewer than three shows have been canceled or put on indefinite hiatus here in Vancouver: Bionic Woman, Aliens in America, and... break heart, I prithee, break... BattleStar Galactica! And that's just today. Hundreds of jobs, poof.

So, no, it's not good for the men and women, our friends and co-workers, trying to make a living in production services here in Canada. How could that be good for us?

Sadly, our brothers and sisters in the WGA have a hard fight ahead of them and it's not going to be over quickly I'm afraid.

Keep the faith.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Bloody Terror

My buddy Dave has finally started blogging. If you're into Horror and Disasters you'll love Bloody Terror!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

New Television Season

Inspired by Denis's musings on the new season I thought I'd get off my ass and take a lazy stand of some of the new shows. I'm trying to enjoy myself while I can, because in a couple weeks when we get back from hiatus there's not gonna be a lot of television time.

Pushing Up Daisies: Off to a bad start. One of the most talked about shows of the new season, haven't seen it. Don't know when it's on. Don't know where it's on. When I think of it I go: So it's 6 feet Under kinda? And everybody else goes: No! Okay. Okay.

K-ville: Watched five minutes. To be honest felt like it was too early in the season. I wasn't ready to commit.

Journeyman: I love Kevin McKidd but this is Quantum Leap written by somebody who watched Life on Mars and liked all the bad parts. Underwire pointed out on DTOS comments what I really bumped on the other night too... WTF with the wife? Her husband disappears on board an effin' PLANE IN FLIGHT and she pretends she's not with him?! WHAT?! And he doesn't say: See! I'm not crazy! And there's this whole dirty feeling that comes with him obviously still hot for his dead wife who is extra-dimensional or whatever and while he's trying to have a kid with his brother's ex-wife. Next.

Life: The second last scene of the opener had that moment that Denis talks about... what the hell is that moment called, Denis? You know the one that makes you go: I'm in. In Life that was the moment you effing knew was coming, that closet of mystery, the big picture he's slowly putting all together...you see people you haven't met yet, and people you've just met that are put into a whole new light... yeah, baby. I'm a little worried about the faux documentary stuff. It's gonna get tiresome if it keeps seeming so scripted. Plus Damian Lewis, who is awesome and his partner who's also good. Green means go, baby.

Dirty Sexy Money
: It's gonna be my guilty pleasure this season. I love Krause, and Sutherland and the Unmarried Woman herself, Jill Clayburgh! The show seems to be taking itself a lot less seriously than the previews indicated. And that's good. It's all the fun stuff that we love to hate rich people for. However-- we all know smokin' hot wives are a hollywood staple, but please, there must be a couple bucks to actually hire somebody's wife (smokin' or not) to give the script a once over just to avoid the constant barrage of cliched husband/wife scenes out there. I'm talking to you too Journeyman! The wife as "supportive but needs to be convinced" gal is done. Ps. That's right, tranny is the new whore.

Bionic Woman: Maybe because my expectations were lowered by all the disappointed talk before the show actually aired, I didn't mind it. I like Jamie, I like Starbuck (and the many other BSG alumi that filled out the cast). Did I miss Oscar Goldman? I mostly liked the special effects. The only thing I worry about is that it's playing like a Femme Nikita meets Alias thing. I want something new. Story, spin or relationship wise. I don't want to see the same stories with a bigger budget. I'm sensing a lot of writers/producers/whoever pitching updated versions of their favorite shows-- they've already been made, folks! I'll watch a couple more episodes.

Intelligence: Not a new show but a great season opener. Season one was a little 'deliberately paced' especially at the beginning. But it's cooking with propane now. I'm loving this show... and nobody I know is watching it. This is great tv, period. I'd be watching it if it was made in Bosnia, yeah?

Monday, October 01, 2007

TV-eh Podcast

For anybody interested in Canadian Television (that's right capital "C" and "T"): you should check out the podcasts on TV-eh. Diane Wild has put together a lot of great pieces. Last week there was a discussion about the new season and Denis McGrath interviewed Corner Gas's Mark Farrell. This week is about the new season of Intelligence. All kinds of little insider stuff that's fun for TV geeks like me.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Dave's Yes/No Movie Review: Superbad

It had me at the opening credits. Yes.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Porn... for writers.


I don't know if it's the dream of every Canadian writer, I only know it's mine: to be interviewed by Eleanor Wachtel... Let me qualify that: to be worthy to be interviewed by Eleanor Wachtel.

Knowledgeable, kind, funny, and with a voice like molasses on a warm biscuit, she is arguably the finest interviewer of writers ever.

I've built my Sunday afternoons around Writers and Company for the past few years and missing this one hour of radio makes me crazier than my DVR accidentally eating any TV show I'm addicted to. It doesn't matter who the writer is, there have been men and women I've never heard of speaking of books I'll never read, but listening to the conversation between the artist and the interviewer gives me an inordinate amount of pleasure.

It's now available as a podcast. Don't miss it. Be warned: they only post the podcast for four weeks at a time. I know it's a little screwy but I'm sure there's some baroque rights reason why that's so.

Also available Words at Large. Something that is on my subscribe list, but to which I haven't yet listened.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

"I've never shot video in a factory before!"

I noticed they've posted an interview with David Lynch on Amazon. It seems that the director has worked out some special arrangement with them to distribute some of his DVDs including the release of his new video "Inland Empire".

But of particular interest to me was: after the 11 minute long interview (in which he denounces film, and names some of his favourite directors)-- which was followed by a trailer, there were a series of clips of Lynch at work on the set of "Inland Empire".

Monday, August 13, 2007

Be Kind... Rewind

I know... I saw the science of sleep... but I still can't wait for... this.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Perseid Reminder


Hey fellow nerdlings.

Don't forget this weekend features the peak of the Perseid Meteor shower.

Because of the new moon this should be a particularly nice show. Although the display peaks Sunday night there will be lots to see Friday and Saturday nights too... anytime after 11pm will be fine. (Although again they're at their absolute best a couple hours before sunrise)

So get to the darkest, clearest sky you can find and just look up... or better yet, spread out a blanket and lie back. And who knows, you might even see some aurora!

The best show you can get... without cable.

31 Days of Spielberg

Dave S. tipped me to this series of posts by Damian Arlyn.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

"...a big, veiny, triumphant bastard!"

A scene from my 2nd most highly anticipated film this summer.

Not for children.



Opening next weekend.

Dave's Yes/No Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

No.

Dave's Yes/No Movie Review: The Bourne Ultimatum

Yes.

What I learned on my Summer Workation: Part One

My apologies.

I've slacked off too long. Denis never stopped posting while he was toiling away on his shows. Will kept the faith while waist-deep in rewrites. But I am a more beautiful and delicate flower and wilt readily at the prospect of too much work... or too little food.

Which leads me to the subject of the next several posts, in case the title was too subtle.

Tip #1:

Go Easy on Crafty!

Forgive me if I occasionally imply that all writers are of a kind. It's not true. We're all miserable in our own special and unique ways.

That's said, I've yet to met a writer, man or woman, who didn't like the Craft Service table a little more than was good for them. Even a TV writing goddess like Jane Epenson... what's at the end of her every post? What she had for lunch, people! And when the table is laid out by a special lady like Gianna, the Robson Arms Season III Craft Service angel... it's even worse.

Sure, there's fresh fruit and veggie trays, ginseng nectar and herbal teas but it's the pastries, cakes, butter-soaked chocolate, and cheesey thai wraps that keep you coming back. I'm not exaggerating when I say I started training for this season last winter. I'm not a small guy by any stretch, but when I arrived it was fresh from three pilates classes a week. Down from my typical Sea Lion form to a well-fed Otter. I knew it was gonna be a marathon and I was ready.

Bullshit. I'm an eff'ing Walrus!

No amount of training can prepare the Special Needs Child that is the TV writer for the debauchery that awaits him-- all day-- every working day-- at the magical all-you-can-eat-bottomless-cup-of-whatever-you-desire that is Craft Service.

Within the first week there was no semblance of restraint and I... no, dammit, I wasn't there alone... WE spent almost as much time at the table as an Extra... yeah... that's right-- it was that bad. I didn't get my shit together until the fourth week in.... and by then it was too late...

So there you go, Chubbies.

You wanna be a TV writer? Have a salad once in a while.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Lame and the Great

I am lame.

I'm in the middle of production on Robson Arms III and there's lots of exciting stories to tell and lessons I'm learning, but by the time I leave the set there's just no desire to go near my laptop until the next day when duty calls.

That said, I'm totally blown away by the awesome posts that my fellow canadian TV writers Denis McGrath and Will Dixon are putting out there. In addition to his fine and continuing coverage of the state of our industry McGrath has posted a series of interviews with Greg Daniels. A must read.

Over at Uninflected Images, there's a number of posts (no less than six at present) about my personal hero Al "the Silver Fox" Magee. And when Al speaks, the wise listen.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Saturday, May 26, 2007

What a third season looks like: Part I


I don't know why facebook should have all the top secret photos.

Here's an early look at Season Three of Robson Arms.

Please note that delicate balance of comedy and poignacy the praises of which John Doyle sang so sweetly once. See the character arcs reaching in a surprising but inevitable ways. And act turns that spin the stories in new trajectories.

And that's just the first half of the season!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

No Country...

And also: here's here's something else to get excited about.
I promise I'll be posting again soon.
But right now I'm writing too much to write about writing.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Can't wait!

I know I'd better lower my expectations...
but this is making it really hard.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Link Whorin': Blood Ties

A post on Denis's blog with exerpts from Tanya Huff about the differences between writing a novel and writing for a television series based on the novel you wrote. Great Stuff.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Dave's Yes/No Movie Review: Hot Fuzz

Yes... but Shaun fans, lower your expectations.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

PEI Screenwriters' Boot Camp


Some of you might be interested in the PEI Screenwriters' Boot Camp that's going to be happening here on the Island, June 17-22.

It's exciting to see that the two mentors of the program will be Tom Shoebridge, a great guy that I met a couple years ago at a RIFF workshop, and Alex Epstein, who I really only know through daily visits to his TV/Screenwriting Blog.

I'm sorry I won't be here to participate. I hope some great scripts come out of it. For more information visit the Island Media Artists Co-op website.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Robson Arms Renewed for Third Season


Some of you might have started to put things together based on some of my previous posts but it's now official. As TV, eh? reported today we've got a third season.

For those of you who watched RAII, thanks very much. It was a tough spot to be in opposite HNIC so if you did, you must be a big supporter of the show... or really, really, really hate hockey. Either way.

For those of you who never saw it, how come? Did something put you off? Do you just not watch canadian shows on principle? Was it personal? You a hockey fan? Was it the time slot? Or maybe you just didn't have room on the TIVO. I get that, my DVR space is precious too.

For those of you who watched and said, "meh", could you be a little more specific?

As far as the writing goes, it feels like there are a number of factors that are shaping the new season.

1) I gotta say, for me, there's been a very different energy in the writer's room this time around. I think all of us were pretty grateful (not in a whiney, spineless way) and frankly maybe just a little surprised to be renewed so late in the season and it's added a little spice to the room. The RA Writer's Room's never been what you would call a slack or self-satisfied place, but there's definitely been an invigorating and disciplined edge to the story-breaking this time round that makes me excited about the coming season.

2) Process-wise, this will be the first season going to camera when we didn't have at least a first draft of all our scripts finished. This definitely raises the heart-rate... and the adrenaline might be making it on to the page.

3) The Cast is going through some changes. Based on normal, boring circumstances that none of us could have foreseen the "who" of the stories is changing as well as the "how". It's mixing up the kinds of stories that we're going to be telling a little bit.

4) There have been some shake-ups in the story department, nothing awful, just talented people moving on to other projects. They'll be missed, but it also provides us with a chance to work with some newer... and some more experienced writers.

5) A New Time Slot. It looks like we're going to be on earlier in the evening which will make for changes. Some obvious: like language. Some subtle: like tone. That said, the show certainly isn't going through any contortions to fit the time. If anything it feels like the show's voice, although still unique, is coming into its own, becoming more confident... and entertaining, I hope.

So here's to the challenging months ahead. I hope I can keep folks that are interested abreast of the progress, without spoiling any of the surprises.

It's weird. I was just over at Denis's blog. There's definitely a strange, end-of-school, feeling through the industry. Summer's coming and everybody's graduating. Feels a little like we're in the third act of a coming-of-age story...

... or the first act of a teen-sex-comedy! YEAH!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Feeding the Writer: April 2007 Edition


Okay so here we go.

Day One: Steamrollers. (Deluxe w/Chicken). A healthy, hearty choice to comfort myself for a week of breaking some story!

Day Two: Shanghai Chinese Bistro (General Tso's Chicken, Handmade Noodle and Dim Sum) The traditional first day lunch spot. The location reminds you of seasons of story-busting past, the exotic flavour lures a new season in new directions)

Day Three: Art Gallery Cafeteria (Portabello Mushroom and Leek Soup, BBQ Chicken Pannini) An old favorite. The short walk from the writers' room brings fresh air to clear the head of the hump-day blues. The place is bustling with people and ideas. It's buckle-down time.

Day Four: Lombardo's (Pizza w/ Prosciutto), Someplace untried. For new perspectives on old favorites... old characters new situations. All India (Chicken Tika, Butter Chicken) A longish walk after a hard day of brain squeezing. It would have been easier to go someplace nearer, we force ourselves. It proves a little extra effort at the end of the day can pay delicious rewards.

Day Five: Azia (Sambal Shrimp, Curry Roti, Kung Pao Chicken), The light at the end of the tunnel. We ditch an old place that none of us really liked but were too polite to say. We find a new place to which everybody is eager to return. Earls (Edamame Beans, and Wonton Encrusted Shrimp with some amazing dipping sauce!!!!) The week is done. There's no talk of beat sheets or act breaks, no plot turns or character arcs. The only stories we talk about are our own. Just beer and wine and Tony Dean Smith and his girly drink.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Lush, Supersition and the Writer



Are any of you superstious? Are you skeptics? Or are you, like me, a sick twisted civil war between Carlos Castaneda and James Randi.

There are rituals. Things you do to honour the process... or use as an excuse to treat yourself. Like how every time I write a script for which I get paid, I buy myself a new pen. A nice one.

But there's also the deeper magic, the heavy mojo that happens. Where I write. How... I mean physically how... I write and... this I hesitate to share this with you. Not because it isn't bullshit but because it's bullshit that works and I'm afraid telling you will totally jinx it.

Fine... what the hell, for you, my brothers, my sisters, I will risk all by telling you: "The Secret of the Shower Gel."

The last five years of my life has been secretly shaped by soap... not just soap but other other hygiene products too. I cannot tell you how but I can tell you it's not the first time.

That was in 2004 and it involved a LUSH product, a body-wash I believe, I was using it one day when it said to me, "I'm almost done here. Start packing you're heading out west in a couple of weeks." Then again with a LUSH shaving cream: "Hey buddy, guess what? I've served you well but I need replacing, you've got a long trip ahead of you."

See that nearly empty tube of L'Occitane Cade travel-size shaving cream? It told me I'd be back in Vancouver by the end of April. And ta-da. Here I am.

But I'm not alone, right? You guys probably have all kinds of writers' supersitions that you're willing to share. Talking clipboards and what-have-you?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

"Tagged"

Jesus... I've been tagged. This has never happened to me before. I feel like the Sally Fields of the internet. Thanks to Callaghan for this honour. Sorry it's been been so long since you tagged me. I had no idea. It's probably my fault he hasn't posted in a month.

The request is for: Five Things you Probably Don't know about me.

1. I'm an award-winning piper. I played the bagpipes from the time I was ten until I was 18. Sadly it was just before the whole Celtic craze thing so all I got were the typical "blowing your pipe" jokes. For those of you who don't understand I will now act it out.

Also: proof of this claim can almost certainly be found at the Ottawa Piping Club where my name is engraved on the trophy for Best Strathsbey and Reel.

2. I own three telescopes. A 12.5" Dobsonian, a 70mm Ranger, and I built my own 8" dobsonian telescope. I've loved astronomy since my folks took the five of us kids out to the Dominion Observatory one cold winter night and we saw Saturn. It blew my mind... I seen Saturn many times since then... it blows my mind every time.

3. Here comes strike three: as I already confessed to Dix, I am a magic nut. Just having written these three things suddenly explains so much I haven't understood for the longest time. I am a genuine-and-not-in-a-cool-way geek. I think Jay Sankey is a genius, I took magic classes from David Acer at Perfect Magic when I was going to the National Theatre School. He was like 15 at the time and was already a great performer.

4. My late aunt Millie had what I think is the most incredible name: Melba Opal Phoebe McKay. Plus everybody called her "Millie"!

5. I wrote my first play in grade one: It was Robin Hood. I directed it. And cast it. I was Robin Hood and Barbie Melson was Maid Marian. It was about how Robin Hood wanted to kiss Maid Marian and then marry her. My friend Ross McKenzie wanted to be in it. He was Friar Tuck. His job was to marry Marian and Robin. My other friend David wanted to be in it. But what part was there left? Robin had to travel through the forest so, I wrote a special role for him... he was Robin Hood's donkey.

Thanks for the tag Callaghan.

I know now that am a wiener.

Dwayne Hoover was a Pontiac Dealer on the Brink of Going Insane.



1922-2007

His peephole is closed again.

Rice and Cheese!

Didn't you guys read my Yes/No Review of Andy Barker?!
It can't be any plainer. I said "YES!" Dammit.

What are you? My brother?

Monday, April 09, 2007

The TV Writer and Bit Torrent: a moral question... kind of

I'm a pretty law abiding guy.

Except when I think the laws are dumb. Even then I don't go out of my way to flaunt my lawless ways. But there's a moral question that's been bugging me lately and I'd like to hear what other people think.

I have a friend...

And like many of you he's a Bit Torrentin' fool. For the most part it's been shows there is little or no chance he'd ever see here in Canada anytime soon. Particularly shows from Britain that weren't on BBC Canada, and that he couldn't find at the local video store. Then it was shows that were mentioned at a story meeting that he hadn't seen that were on HBO (Movie Central) and they weren't out on DVD yet and he didn't have "the cable". And then, it was just episodes of shows that he happened to miss during their first run... and now it's anything at all.

He has no illusions that what he's doing is legal. But he believes in Karma. He knows he'll have to pay... some day, some how.

And this is the thing: for the most part he does eventually pay for stuff he likes. The pleasure of watching some downloaded file on his computer doesn't compare to watching it on HD with his digital cable... or on DVD. So when he finds something he likes... like Six Feet Under and Deadwood a couple years ago... or Rome, Life of Mars, and Extras more recently... he doesn't mind coughing up the bucks for the DVD so he can watch it in it's full glory.

And today: it happened... he saw his own show being bit torrented... and what did he feel? Guilt? Resentment? Outrage? Nope... it was Pride.

Somebody... a fan presumably, cared enough to digitize and upload it... it's being seeded out there by a few curious viewers who maybe heard something about it but never got around to seeing it. And maybe they'll give it a chance.

There is a part of him that wonders if he, or more specifically his livelihood, is being threatened by the practice. After all, the show is a product. It is part of a business in an industry and profits are what motivate the decisions of the investors. But is this cutting into the industry's profits? I mean really? In the short term, there's no doubt. Viewership is down and therefore so is ad revenue. On the other hand these are also the guys that own and operate the companies that enable people like my friend to download the programming in the first place. And in the long term... isn't it actually more likely the industry will make money by creating content for not just one medium but several at the same time.

They irony is his show is on a network that makes the episodes online available to anyone (with a PC) who live in the country. So the people downloading the show are probably outside the country... but wouldn't it make more sense to make the show available to anyone around the world and talk with an smart advertising agency to find some way to get ad revenue by customizing the content to the local viewer?

It's just the old model of exchange that is dying. And people like my friend are just helping put it out of its misery.

Right?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

To Whom it May Concern

And you know who you are...

Taco's Puttin' on the Ritz was originally released in 1991. [UPDATE: or in 1982, and that's the trouble with the internet!] The original Puttin' on the Ritz was written by Irving Berlin (as I believe Rob suggested)

Whatsamatteryou? was released in 1980 by Joe Dolce.

There was something else that was in dispute but I can't remember what.

Dave's Yes/No Movie Review: Grindhouse

Yes.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Honest and Popular don't Go Hand in Hand


I'm following the lead of the Annekenstein Monster and Sunsetgun... the only three true and loyal fans of unjustly vilified, hilarious and under-rated Ishtar.

For those of you who have forgotten, or may not have been born, Istar was released in 1987 and was one of the first "Big Budget" comedies. It starred Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman, written and directed by the legendary Elaine May. There was a lot of comparisons at the time to the Crosby/Hope "Road to..." movies, which never made it particularly appealing to me as I was more of a Martin/Lewis kinda guy. And I remember hearing a lot of bad buzz at the time. Maybe my expectations were lowered making me open to the films many charms. I came out of the theatre with tears in my eyes, a changed man.

I don't remember the plot. Something about travelling to Ishtar I guess. But the plot was never the point. It was just a setting for amazing character set pieces that I can recite to this day: the restaurant scene, the "Smuck" scene, the "didn't need a pen" scene, the "Hawk" scene... Forget Martin/Lewis-- Hoffman/Beatty were the next generation Falk/Arkin for me. They taught me the lesson "the straighter it's played the funnier it is." I went back at least one more time to see it at the theatre and I believe that at least one friendship was cemented by a mutual love of the film.

For those of you who missed it, you might find it in the VHS section of the your local video store it still hasn't been released on DVD as far as I know. Thanks Sunsetgun for reminding me of it.

Dave's Yes/No Movie Review: Meet the Robinsons

I slept through an hour of it. Sooooo. I can't really say.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Dave's Yes/No Movie Review: Notes on a Scandal, Shooter, Blades of Glory

Notes on a Scandal: Yes.

Shooter: no. (unless the last 15 minutes were supposed to be ironic)

Blades of Glory: YES.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Attention PEI Screenwriters

This is the way things go.

I'm on this montreal screenwriter's blog and I find out that there are screenwriting workshops going on here on PEI.

For those of you who are interested the Island Media Arts Co-op is hosting a number of workshops.

From their site:

Writing for Television
Tues/Thurs, April 10th/12th/17th/19th
From 7pm - 9:30pm
Instructed by: Cheryl Wagner
Cheryl is a PEI-based, Gemini award-winning producer who has achieved prominence in Canadian television, particularly in the specialized field of children's television (she wrote for Big Comfy Couch which recently won an Emmy Award). Ms Wagner was a long-time key member of Toronto's Radical Sheep Productions and since 1999 worked developing and producing animation series with Halifax Film. Recently she has focused on adult fare: collaborating with Dream Street Films of Moncton developing two dramatic series for CBC. She also has been working on her own feature screenplay, Blooming Point, set in PEI.

Writing for Film
Sat/Sun, April 28th/29th
From 10am-4pm
Instructed by: Jay Dahl
Jay has written, directed and produced a variety of films for CBC, Bravo!FACT, and Telefilm amongst others. His work has won awards and include After Frank and Web Warriors. He has taught similar courses at The National Screen Institute and The Atlantic Filmmaker’s Co-op.
**Participants of Writing for Film are asked to work on a short script or treatment, or dust off an old one - before the workshop begins. These scripts/treatments should be handed-in to IMAC by April 20th, so that each participant gets a chance to read each other’s work.

I've met Cheryl a couple of times. I mostly know of her from "The Big Comfy Couch" though she's probably moved on to other things by now. And I met Jay at an Atlantic Film Festival script development workshop a couple years ago. Both are very nice and talented people.

Maple Leaf List

Doing my bit for the latest canadian screenwriting meme.
Copied and Pasted From Denis McGrath's blog:

Announcing the First Maple Leaf List.


Here's how this will work.

Accounting for Canada's smaller population and less vibrant industry, the thesis is nevertheless that there are excellent projects out there that for whatever reason, were passed over and not made. The hope is that we can discover some of these forgotten gems and maybe shine a little light on them.

  1. What sort of project is eligible for the Maple Leaf List?

    The project can be any feature screenplay, 1/2 hour comedy/drama television series (based on pilot epsiode), 1 hr television series (based on pilot episode) or animated series (based on bible & sample script.) The project must have been under paid option to a production company or network in Canada in the last five years. (So, anything from Calendar year 2002 on.)
  2. What sort of projects are not eligible?

    Spec scripts of any kind. Stage plays. Documentaries. Projects that were written on spec and never received any option money/development funding. This is not a search for new writing talent. This is a search for passed-over projects. Projects by people who are not Canadian Citizens or Landed Immigrants residing in one of Canada's 10 provinces and 3 Territories as are also ineligible.

  3. Who can nominate a project?

    Theoretically, I'm going to leave the ability to nominate a project open to anyone, with this proviso: You cannot nominate your own work. I also state here that I will, as the organizer of this little game, recuse my own work from consideration. In practice, I will give special attention to any project that is submitted by a Development Executive, Network Executive, or Agent. If you feel a piece of work has been criminally underattended, here's your chance. ONLY ONE PROJECT MAY BE SUBMITTED PER PERSON.

  4. What do I need to do to nominate a project for the Maple Leaf List?

    You may submit an ADOBE PDF of the script in question to MAPLELEAFLIST@GMAIL.COM. Dead Tree Scripts (paper) will not be accepted, as I have neither space to store them nor help to organize them. The PDF of the script should not contain identifying features such as the writer's name, on the document itself. Along with the script, a separate document should be submitted with the following information (which will be kept completely confidential:)
    • 1) Nominator's name and position/occupation/relationship to script
    • 2) Project's development history (dates of development/option)
    • 3) Project's current status
    • 4) Synopsis/description (200 words or less, including genre & length)
    • 5) Impact Statement: why you think this project has been unjustly passed over. (300 word max)
    • 6) Author's declaration: contact information from the author

    Please note that projects that do not contain these elements (or any script that identifies the writer by name) cannot be considered for the Maple Leaf List.


  5. How will the list be determined?

    After the submission deadline, a shortlist will be prepared by me. Then scripts will be forwarded to a selection of confidential judges who will be asked to pick their #1, #2, and #3 choices for inclusion on the list. The judges decisions will be collected and averaged out, and the list will be determined from that.

    Since this is new and unknown, I have no idea how many projects will be received, therefore I cannot currently speculate on the number of judges, or in fact, the number of projects that will appear on the list. Because the projects will be of different types and genres, the list will not be ranked hierarchically.

    Right now, I would be ecstatic to be able to come up with a Top 5 list. If there's more, then there'll be more. If there's less, there'll be less. As I said, this is new. It's entirely possible we won't get enough entries and I'll conclude that either the naysayers are right and there are no good projects being passed over out there, or that Canadian Creatives are as cowed as everyone says we are. We're doing this as a lark. I'm making omelettes and breaking eggs. What are you doing?

    Judges will be drawn from different disciplines in the Canadian Broadcast Industry.

  6. What is the Deadline for submitting a project to the Maple Leaf List?

    The deadline will be May 18th, 2007, at Midnight. Results will be announced June 10, 2007, on this blog -- just as the Banff TV Festival Gets Underway.

  7. What do I win?

    Absolutely nothing but bragging rights. Okay, and if you are in and around Toronto or anywhere else I happen to be and pin me down, I will buy you a drink and an Appetizer of your choice.

    All listers will also be profiled on this blog (unless they choose not to be.)


    Are there diamonds in the rough? Let's see. Let's see. My guess is, any notable scripts will not shamelessly deploy the icons of Canadiana as I have here. But who knows? Maybe somewhere out there is a script about a maple syrup guzzling beaver who chomps back bacon while prepping for his role in the big hockey game. You just never, ever, ever know.

Monday, March 26, 2007

BSG: Season finale

Who woulda guessed Mr. Zimmerman was in the Final Five?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Jane Espenson: Show and Tell

For fans of Jane Espenson (Buffy/BSG/AndyBarker/Blogger). A reminder that her Andy Barker episode is on tonight (Thu. Mar. 22) and that she'll be posting comments about the action sequences on her blog afterward.

Coolio.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Opening Credits: TV Shows.

The AVClub has an interesting list of what they see as the Perfect TV Opening Credits.

Did they miss any?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Sergio Leone's latest Movie Quiz

1) What movie did you have to see multiple times before deciding whether you liked or disliked it?
Any Bergman film. I never like them at first. But when I go back to them... man.

2) Inaugural entry into the Academy of the Overrated
Paul Haggis

3) Favorite sly or not-so-sly reference to another film or bit of pop culture within another film.
Everything in Shaun of the Dead

4) Favorite Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger movie
The Red Shoes

5) Your favorite Oscar moment
After a streaker goes by David Niven quips about "short-comings"

6) Hugo Weaving or Guy Pearce?
Hugo Weaving

7) Movie that you feel gave you the greatest insight into a world/culture/person/place/event that you had no understanding of before seeing it
Although the movie as a whole isn't one of my favourites, the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan shook me up thinking what it must have been like to be there on the beach that day.

8) Favorite Samuel Fuller movie
Pickup on South Street

9) Monica Bellucci or Maria Grazia Cucinotta?
Monica Bellucci

10) What movie can take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?
Duck Soup.

11) Conversely, what movie can destroy a day’s worth of good humor just by catching a glimpse of it while channel surfing?
Jerry Maguire

12) Favorite John Boorman movie
Excaliber

13) Warren Oates or Bruce Dern?
Tough. I first became aware of Oates after seeing him in Stripes, I love all his stuff. But Dern is a guy whose work has really grown on me as I've gotten older. Dern.

14) Your favorite aspect ratio
16:9

15) Before he died in 1984, Francois Truffaut once said: “The film of tomorrow will resemble the person who made it.” Is there any evidence that Truffaut was right? Is it Truffaut’s tomorrow yet?
I think it happened a long time ago.

16) Favorite Werner Herzog movie
Not fair to WH, it's been a long time since I saw Aguirre, I didn't like Incident at Loch Ness too much... so I'll go with Nosferatu.

17) Favorite movie featuring a rampaging, oversized or otherwise mutated beast, or beasts
Raging Bull

18) Sandra Bernhard or Sarah Silverman?
No. You cannot make me choose... But I ask if this if you had to live with either SB's character in King of Comedy or SS's character in School of Rock... which one would you choose?

19) Your favorite, or most despised, movie cliché
"You're fightin' for the guy next to you"

20) Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom-- yes or no?
Sure.

21) Favorite Nicholas Ray movie
King of Kings

22) Inaugural entry into the Academy of the Underrated
Alan Arkin and Peter Falk as a team.

23) Your favorite movie dealing with the subject of television
I'll leapfrog over all the Network folks and choose Broadcast News.

24) Bruno Ganz or Patrick Bauchau?
Bruno Ganz

25) Your favorite documentary, or non-fiction, film
Thin Blue Line.

26) According to Orson Welles, the director’s job is to “preside over accidents.” Name a favorite moment from a movie that seems like an accident, or a unintended, privileged moment. How did it enhance or distract from the total experience of the movie?
"You never take an early lunch?" Peter Falk's line in The In-Laws. He's so funny he almost cracks up the uncrackable Alan Arkin but Arkin makes it a turning point for his character instead. Awesome stuff.

27) Favorite Wim Wenders movie
Wings of Desire

28) Elizabeth Pena or Penelope Cruz?
Penelope Cruz... just for the hair.

29) Your favorite movie tag line (Thanks, Jim!)
It always bugged my teenage self that the Alien tag line: "In space no one can hear you scream" didn't actually pay off in the movie. So I'll go with The Fly: Be ascaird. Be very ascaird.

30) As a reader, filmgoer, or film critic, what do you want from a film critic, or from film criticism? And where do you see film criticism in general headed?
I want my film criticism to be entertaining. I don't care if people thought a particular film was good or bad... I want interpretation, I want slagging, I want inside-scooping, I want personal reaction... even if it's bullshit. As long as it's entertaining bullshit.

EXTRA CREDIT: Do movies still matter?
Yes. If they ever did.

Dave's Yes/No Movie Review: Letters from Iwo Jima

If this review system of mine has any value it's in its brevity... However--

I just want to say that I know it might just be sour grapes, or the old Canadian Lobster Pot Syndrome, talking -- but I'm looking forward to watching a movie that DOESN'T have Paul Haggis attached as a writer.


Oh right, so a half-hearted, "Yeah, whatever."

Monday, March 12, 2007

Dave's Yes/No Movie Review: 300

"Yes," called out a lone voice in the wilderness.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Robson Arms: SPECIAL AIRING Take Two!


Okay, let's try this again people.

CTV is giving us another shot at a special time slot. We're airing "The Daughter of Frankenstein" right after the season finale of Corner Gas next Monday.

Especially excited because it's gonna be one of my episodes, featuring the very funny Linda Kash and the talented up and comer Tegan Moss.

Trivia: According to IMDB Linda is the daughter of Maureen Forrester! I had no idea.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Robson Arms: REMINDER and REVIEW

Just in case you forgot to set your VCRs. Special airing of Robson Arms, tonight, right after American Idol.

From John Doyle's review of tonight episode:

Robson Arms (CTV, 9:30 p.m.), back for its second season, has been running on Saturday nights. That's a safe slot for a series that's not easily defined. People who know it and like it will seek it out. But, like anything airing outside of CBC's schedule on that night, it's up against the local juggernaut of Hockey Night In Canada.

In tonight's episode, slacker Hal (Zak Santiago) finds that his employment insurance has run out, he owes his roommate Nick (Corner Gas's Fred Ewanuick) money, he's managed to kill his only source of income -- selling pot -- and even his own dad (Joe Flaherty) declines to help him out. Meanwhile, Nick happens to have acquired a new best pal, Wayne (Peter DeLuise). That makes Nick question his relationship with the great slacker Hal. After all, this Wayne guy is a bit exotic and Hal's something of a loser, just waiting for his next opportunity to get stoned. Maybe Nick should move out?

The episode is a serious take on issues of adult responsibility, jealousy and growing up, but it's done with a light touch. The addition of Flaherty as Hal's dad is a stroke of genius.

In its first season, Robson Arms quickly established itself as TV entertainment of the highest quality. Deftly made and smartly entertaining, the half-hour dramas were set among the tenants of a Vancouver apartment building. The series was written with a unique tone -- wry observations about life and all manner of relationships. It was material aimed at grown-ups. It also featured some outstanding work from an array of Canadian actors in semi-permanent roles or guest-star turns. The early episodes of this second season had more emphasis on comic farce. They seemed less knowing and whimsical, more emphatically broad and reaching for slapstick.

As this season progresses, its strengths emerge again. It's still light, but skittish and crisp, asking a little more of the viewer. Tonight's episode underlines all those merits. With any luck, enough Idol fans will see it and be charmed, as they should be.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Robson Arms: SPECIAL AIRING


Just got word: in addition to the regular airing times (CTV Saturdays at 9pm, Comedy Network 8:30pm ET, 9:30pm ATL) there's going to be a special airing Tues. Feb 27 right after American Idol.

I think folks are assuming CTV is doing it to see how it boosts or does not boost our numbers... and most likely whether we'll get another season or not.

The episode is going to be "Pest Control" and it'll feature Fred Ewanuick, Zak Santiago, Peter DeLuise and guest starring.... Joe Flaherty! So if Hockey is getting in your way or you just aren't home on Saturday night check it out and tell us what you think.

Don't miss this week's podcast. Susin Nielsen interview props master, Tyler Smith and his assistant Dave Righton... a very funny BTS interview. (Flash required)

Monday, February 19, 2007

POOCHIE'D


Straight from the Writer's Room.

I think it's safe to share this one.

Poochie: verb, to immediately and without thought incorporate a note from a broadcaster or higher up.

[Orig. "The Simpsons" Episode 167. Itchy and Scratch producer Roger Meyers, Jr. tells the writers' room that the new name should be something like 'Poochie' only better. The head writer turns to the room: "Poochie good with everyone?"]

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Why John Doyle doesn't scare me: A review of Robson Arms s02e02 by Dave's Mom and sister Heidi

So I called up Mom after my episode aired to ask if she and Dad enjoyed it. (She wasn't thrilled with some of the strong language in my first season one episode-- especially after she phoned all the relatives to tell them to watch it: "You shoulda warned me!") Her evaluation: "It was okay. But I liked last week's one with Leslie Neilsen better." Okay fine.

So I call up sister Heidi: "I laughed like twice... it wasn't great."

I'm not saying you need this kind of family if you're gonna be able to take notes like a pro, but it helps.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Robson Arms: Podcast with Alisen Down

Fans of Alisen Down will be happy to hear my interview with her on the Robson Arms website. They'll be unhappy to have to listen to me flapping my lips for the first couple of minutes, but stick with it, eventually I let Alisen get a word in edge-wise.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Robson Arms: New Web site is up!

The new and improved Robson Arms website is up.

And not a moment too soon!

What wonders await you? How 'bout special "webisodes", podcasts, behind the scenes stuff, and character blogs and such.

Also: E-Talk watch! Show-runner Susin Nielsen interviewed last night.

Robson Arms Marketing Watch 2007 Part IV: Be Careful what you wish for.

John Doyle's review of the first three episodes of RAII in the Globe and Mail today.

It was thrilling to be singled out again. Although Mr. Doyle, whose opinion I greatly respect, wasn't nearly as enthusiastic about my work this time... "what happens is just slapstick."

Damn... It the "just" that kills me. I thought it was Totally Slapstick!

Seriously though. I think that most writers, for all our bluster and complaints about people meddling with our stuff, are our own toughest critics. And there's nothing (good or bad) that someone else is gonna say that hasn't crossed my mind already. You do your best, learn from your experience and hope for the best. I can promise you this: I honestly think there's gonna be laugh out loud moments in it... and there are gonna be some really sweet moments too... Alisen and Fred (that's right I'm name-dropping the "A"-bomb and the "F"-bomb*) are kickasso in this episode and if there are any shortcomings in the ep. I'll be happy to take responsibility for them because I'm still laughing at my own joke a year later... Ah writers: Our arms never tire patting our own backs, nor our voices hoarsen singing our own praises.

Of course, that'll have to wait until next week. Tomorrow night, that's Saturday folks, 9pm, it's Episode One: Ordinary Assholes guest starring Leslie Nielsen. I'll go on the record right now that he gonna get a Gemini nomination for his performance.

See what you've done, John, I'm getting all feisty! I'm even more excited to hear what people think.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Robson Arms Marketing Watch 2007 Part III: Two more sleeps

From Diane's TV, eh? website (the website if you want to know about what canadian shows are on, or going on air): articles from Vancouver papers and tabloids.

But so far, nothing more than a couple of spots on CTV and the Comedy network-- is Vicki Gabereau still on? Is there someplace I haven't been looking?

Some good posts on Dix's and Denis' blogs about the truth about writing for television. Basically: you write and it's everybody else's job to mess with it. And the kicker... your stuff is better for it. Amen.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Robson Arms Marketing Watch 2007 Part III: Doing my bit

Well at least CBC is doing something to give Robson Arms some publicity. Matt Rainnie interviewed me today for CBC Radio's Mainstreet program here on PEI. It'll air this afternoon around 4:40pm Atlantic time.

In other RAMW news: somebody saw a commercial on CSI the other night... and American Idol! Ratio to Corner Gas spots holds around 30:1. The forum on the CTV website has picked up. But the new Robson Arms site still isn't up yet.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Robson Arms Marketing Watch 2007 Part II

CTV has upgraded RA from "Before and Beyond" to "Prime Time" on their website. They've also added "See the trailer" and "On Broadband: Watch Season One" video links to the Programs homepage. Google has also sent me another article link from... Playback.

Eight days 'til opening night.

Sigh.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Robson Arms Marketing Watch 2007

A new promo has been reported airing on CTV, and PlayBack has posted this article.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Robson Arms Season I Available Online

For those of you who missed the first season, you can watch it online, chez CTV's website.

For those of you who, like me, use a Mac, you might have trouble... or (if you're using a pre-Universal operating system with (shudder) Window Media Player, you might do just fine.

Monday, January 29, 2007

What the Lofty Archons at CTV Know...

I am a lowly, grateful writer.

I am thrilled to be part of what I think will be a pretty darned entertaining show, Robson Arms. And hey, guess what? It'll start airing in a couple weeks on CTV. The show is a half-hour comedy/drama aimed at maturer audiences. It's got some adult themes, but the language is grown-up but not unlike the first season not HBO grown-up, and it stars some of the funniest, most talented actors working in Canada today.

It's got a lot going for it.

And did I mention it was airing, Feburary 10th on CTV?

Feburary 10th, that's, let's see... oh...uh... ahem... a Saturday night. Hmn.

Well, okay, there's lots of folk who stay home Saturday night. And it's not like there's anything else --- what? Hockey Night in Canada... rightrightright. Still though. It's not like CTV just threw it up there. There are people, important, well-dressed people who get big bucks carefully working out the exact right time for a show to be scheduled. They've got stats and formulae that'd make a lowly writer's head spin... I assume.

I mean, they're not going to just toss it out there and see what happens, right? There's a huge marketing department behind this. Maybe not Little Mosque big, which due to its subject matter got all kinds of publicity that you can't pay for--not a lot of canadian pilots highlighted on CNN-- still... CTV is the big leagues. Okay?

I guess what I'm saying is, don't worry, it won't be just a couple of "coming soon" spots on the tele and one of the writers chatting it up on his blog is what I'm saying.

So please let me know everytime you read/hear/see anything about the show between now and Feb 10th.

Because everybody really wants the show to do well... right?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Robson Arms Season II Starts...

CTV just announced Robson Arms Season II will start airing Feb 10, 2007.
Stay tuned for updates for times etc. The CTV RA page hasn't been updated to include the info and our old website is still online... so it looks like the news is fresh.

I look forward to your many comments in the days and weeks to come. I'm surprised at how nervous I'm feeling.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Dave's Yes/No Movie Review: For Your Consideration

No. (except for Catherine O'Hara terrifying performance... so awesome, so sexy, so ugly)

Dave's Yes/No Movie Review: Dream Girls

Nope.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Dave's Yes/No Movie Review: Little Mosque on the Prairie

Come back in one more week, okay?... But honestly, it's looking like "No."

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Oh my god, it's full of stars!


Davey want.

Kick-ass Credit Sequences

My pal daves just sent me a link to what I believe should be a new category at the Oscars... or at the Golden Globes at the very least!

Best Opening Credit Sequence.

The first opening credit sequence I ever remember was for one of the Pink Panther movies. It might not have held up well, but at the time it was like having a little cartoon before the feature.

Laboratory101's list has a quite a few of my favorites... including what I agree is one of the best ever: Seven. What're some of yours?

Dave's Yes/No Movie Review: Children of Men

Yes.