I’m like Joe Btfsplk, the jinx in the old comic strip “Lil Abner,” who walked around with the rain cloud perpetually over his head.
The year I lived in Germany in the 1970s had 350 days of measurable precipitation. When I moved to San Francisco, Northern California was in the depths of a 5 year drought. It started raining a few days later, and did so for the next 9 months. When I walked end-to-end across Britain in the 2000s, it was the 2nd wettest July in the island’s history. (And that’s no mean feat!)
You’d think I’d learn, but 3 years after the end-to-end walk, I trekked for 2 months through the Alps. It was the wettest summer in the region’s history. (The hotel owners in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland, offered to take up a collection and give me the money if I’d agree to leave.)
The day before yesterday, I flew into Southern California, where I’ll be staying for 2 months on theater and film business. Have you seen the reports of the torrential rains that hit the area yesterday?
My mother, and the other hand, brings sunshine and always has. But that’s another story.
We’re available for hire to help with your rain-making and rain-stopping meteorological needs. Separately is strongly recommended. Otherwise, the two weather phenomena compete, and you’re liable to end up with a tornado in your living room.
Logline: When four disabled people discover a dishonest social worker has taken a bribe to force them from their house, they frame him for the unlikely heist they commit to save their home.
Mike and I retain and will market the rights to all other languages.
We shot a short version of “Be Mused” August 15-16 in Austin. Beau Harris, one of the busiest, most versatile people in the Austin film industry, organized a really high quality, professional crew and handled the technical aspects of the directing. I handled the business aspects of the production and did a significant part of the dramatic directing. Beau and I will be credited as co-producers and co-directors.
We’ll be entering the short in film festivals and to drum up support and funding for the feature version of “Be Mused.”
The cast includes Olivia Applegate, who has no less than 4 feature films just released and in post-production; Eddie Davenport, frequently seen in action feature films and in guest spots on TV shows; and Scot Friedman, who is continually on the Austin stage.
Here are some photos we took during the shoot.
My screenwriting collaborator, Mike Fuhrmann, and I have signed a contract with Austin-based indie film producer Beau Harris for our feature-length screenplay, Be Mused.
Logline (what you show to prospective producers): Two students from the Muse Academy compete to inspire a formerly world-renowned, but currently idea-challenged comic actor and screenwriter. The winner goes on to fame and fortune, and the loser will be recycled into muse juice.
Tagline (a hook to show to prospective ticket buyers): A story about inspiration and creativity in Hollywood. (No, seriously!)
As currently written, the idea-challenged actor/screenwriter is John Cleese. The part isn’t just written for John Cleese, the character IS John Cleese. We’re trying to contact him now to see if he’ll agree to be in the film. Don’t panic, though. If we can’t get him, we’ll change the name to J.C. Crees, and get someone who can impersonate John Cleese.
We’ve started pre-production — the target to begin filming is March, 2016 — and we already have two other Austin-based indie companies lined up to work with us.
London’s Remote Goat just gave us a glowing 4-Star review.
“The real strength of the play is the way in which it balances the horror of the supernatural elements, and Alan’s descent into madness, with comedy. At the same time it makes some wider points about how suicide affects those left behind, without getting too preachy.”
“It is a strong play that raises a few hairs on the back of one’s head, no mean feat given the non-traditional nature of the performance space.”
In other exciting news, the songwriters, Aurah, told me Friday night that they’ve licensed the song “Cracking Bones” from the play for use by the German feature film Ostwind 2. The original Ostwind was one of the most successful German films of 2013.
I own a portion of the publishing rights to the Phoenix songs, so I’ll be getting royalty checks. Is this an amazing business, or what?
French blogger Beatrice Colbrant posted a review of the current production of Phoenix at the Phoenix Artist Club in London’s West End.
And for you non-polyglots, I’ve translated it below. Enjoy!
Phoenix, the work of the American author Don Fried, which is now being presented at the Phoenix Artist Club in London, is a succession of amazing discoveries. First, there’s no relationship between the title of the piece and the name of the location; it’s purely coincidence. And the intimate venue, not far from Soho and Chinatown and two steps from Tottenham Court Road, is a very good choice for this mesmerizing work.
Phoenix is a play inspired by the life of British singer Nick Drake (1948-1974), whose original and little-known career was interrupted by a tragic, premature death at age 26 from an overdose of prescription drugs brought on by depression caused by drug-taking. Whether his death was accidental or suicide remains uncertain.
At a time when Mick Jagger wriggled on stage in provocative and dramatic contortions to wild music, Drake, with his sweet, almost whispered androgynous voice, sang romantic ballads, leading his audience to a world of nostalgia and sweetness.
Images and videos of this secret artist are few; only a few albums have survived. After you discover him, you won’t be able to do without this tender voice with a unique timbre, unexpected and necessary.
That’s how the life of this fascinating character is presented by Second Skin Theatre Company under the leadership of its Artistic Director, Andy McQuade, who also directed the play.
The first review for the production of my play “Phoenix” in London’s West End is in.
“Director Andy McQuade and his remarkable cast tell a fascinating story …”
“An intriguing play that should not be missed.”
Not bad, huh?