So…there are four Star Wars movies now.

So, I just got back from Brazil (blog posts incoming!) and I had to go see The Force Awakens before I could log onto the internet.

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There is quite a bit I’m glad I didn’t read online. Whew!

Walking to the theater, I determined there were four possible outcomes:

  1. The movie would make me angry (like the prequels).
  2. It would be better than the prequels, but not great.
  3. It would be a really fun movie, but without reaching instant classic status.
  4. It would somehow achieve the impossible task of being as good as the Original Trilogy.

And I must say, I really, really enjoyed the film. Much more than I thought I would. Here I was, prepared to call the director Jar Jar Abrams should he fail me, and all my doubts were unfounded. The movie easily hits #3. Not sure yet if it’s #4-worthy, but I’m already planning on seeing it again. Brian, my collaborator on the Reboot the Prequels project, has already declared the movie his favorite Star Wars movie. Ever.

I’m not sure I’m ready for such declarations, but I can say that I’m genuinely excited to see the next film. By contrast, waiting for Episode III felt like waiting for a dental appointment.

Sure, I have a few gripes. (Spoilers) I still don’t like the crossguard saber. Rey using force-based skills without any training felt rushed, the Skywalker saber seeming to have a will of its own didn’t sit well, and I’m not sure how I feel about Giant Smeagol as the new Big Bad (end spoilers). But I can let those slide, for one particularly wonderful reason:

It felt like a Star Wars movie. Great banter and chemistry. A real sense of fun. Almost no prequel references. No over-explaining everything. No politics. Hell, they blew up the senate!

Which leads to one awesome point: Our prequel reboot is still a go, and now has a stronger case than ever. Especially with a Mandalorian-centered plot.

Did you catch this Easter Egg?

What did YOU think? Love the movie? Hate it? Meh? Let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to share, like, and subscribe!

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Hollywood Imperialism: Make the World Britain!

This is the first actual “weekend” I’ve had in a long time. I write every day, or at least edit/proofread. For those of you who may have missed it on Twitter, I finished editing my novel and sent it off for review yesterday.  So this weekend is completely off!  Except for this blog…enjoy.

The subject of the blog entry, is something I’ve noticed for a long time:

To Americans, all foreigners are British.

This is specifically true, if the movie is highlighting an ancient civilization.  Go watch any movie or TV show made in the last 15 years, and if the foreigners are speaking English, I guarantee it’s the King’s.

Now onto the “why”:

-Sometimes the actors actually are British.  Sometimes.  People cite the HBO show “Rome” as an example of this.  You point out that all the Romans have British accents, and they’ll inform you it’s simply because that’s how they speak.  Not exactly.  Many of the actors on that show were Irish, and needed voice coaches to become posh-sounding Imperialists.  Which leads us to the next point….

The English were Imperialist.  That’s why it makes sense to us as a modern audience.  The hoity-toighty English accent makes more sense to our American minds for the portrayal of members of a grand empire, than a cheese-ball Italian accent would (even if it’s more accurate).  You wouldn’t want Mario and Luigi giving epic speeches, would you?  Even Star Wars recognizes this effect, as almost all their Imperial officers have a British accent.

-It makes distinguishing class easier.  Perhaps the most subconscious-based reason.  As many people don’t know much about ancient political structure, giving the nobility an “educated” accent (mmmmmyes, quite right) and giving the footsoldiers a “common” accent (‘ello govna!) allows us to easily distinguish social hierarchy without having it explained to us.

These all make a certain amount of sense, to me at least.  But sometimes it goes a bit far.  I recently watched the movie “Hugo”, which takes place in 1930s France.  All the books, menus, signs, etc were in French.  They even went so far as to shoot it in Paris.  Yet the actors all had British accents!  Perhaps English-speaking actors with French accents are hard to find, while Britains are abundant.  Or perhaps…

-That’s just the way we do it.  Because of actor availability on foreign locations, classical films used English actors.  So the tradition continues.  That, and we don’t want to start confusing the audience this late in the game.

Can you imagine a Roman General with a Tennessee accent? But it’s just as realistic as British tones.

The Social Network

No, not the movie (although I am a fan, put me on team Sorkin).  I’m talking about the act of social networking and why I’ve joined in.

Social networking is becoming more and more important for a writer.  Whereas, at least my impression was, you used to get published, go to cocktail parties, attend a couple of book signings, and accept any awards that come your way–this is now a fantasy.  Now you’ve got to market the hell out of yourself.  The most accessible way to reach lots of people is with digital new media.  And it’s all the easier for you, if you have that stuff set-up before you’re a tid-bit famous.

I have a screenplay optioned, which will hopefully find a studio home right around the new year.  My producer has tantalized me with a possible “Christmas present”–fingers crossed!  I also have a novel I’m doing one final polish on, before I begin steps toward publishing.

So basically: this website, this twitter account, all the networking, is happening now because I feel (hope?) I’m on the cusp of my writing career really taking off.  I don’t want to create a website the same day its URL gets printed on a book cover, right?  Gotta have some meat on it first.

Rather than have this post be merely a public diary entry, I’ll share some of what I’ve learned as I’m setting all this up.  It’s been a tough journey, as my friends and family don’t really tweet or blog.  And self-promotion doesn’t come naturally to me.  At all.  There was (and still is) a learning curve.

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People follow non-public figures, whom they don’t know, for pretty much one reason: they also want followers.  So when someone follows you, and you just sit back and think, “cool, I have a follower!”, guess what?  They’ll most likely unfollow you in a couple of days.  What can you do to keep your new followers happy?  1) Follow them back 2) Send them a message, thanking them for following!

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If you want people to read your blog, one of the biggest resources is other bloggers.  First step here, read their blog.  Then post an intelligent comment, pertaining to what you just read.  DO NOT post your website in your comments, this just comes off as spam.  If you’ve written something sufficiently intriguing, people will check your profile, which should have a link to your own blog.

For anything and everything, you should have something interesting to say.  I got a decent amount of hits with my Screenwriting vs Prose post, because it was something I can speak to that not many people know about.  It was, in short, worth reading.

The world is changing for writers, and to use a screenwriting term, “Stasis=Death”.  You have to go with the changes, or get left behind.  It’s been proven that people who embrace change live longer, and I think the same can be said about our careers.

I leave you with a positive note: writers are now in commercials.  Perhaps taking our careers in our own hands is a good thing?  A power-shift?  Publishing houses own books the way movie studios owned stars in the 1930s.  If this changes, it could be the writers who come out on top.