On any given Saturday night, you can find my soon to be 90 year young mother at the Pumpkin Ridge Grange Hall dance.  I know this for two simple reasons.  1.  We, her 9 living children, her many grandchildren, and great-grandchildren celebrated her 80th birthday at said dance.   2.  My mother lives approximately 345 yards from my front door, which in itself lends for a small book of many, many stories.   But for this occasion, it is simply to inform you that typically on Sunday afternoon, we will share a short conversation about how the dance was.

A few of the recurring comments from her have been about the dropping numbers in attendance and her concerns for driving herself home in the dark. 

SIDE NOTE 1:  Yes, she still drives, and very well for the most part.  But for that one exception a couple years back.  While running late for church, and being sure that God would forgive her, she ignored the local speed limit, just this one time (wink-wink).   She was unable to hold the road on that last country corner.  The van rolled several times but she miraculously walked out with just a few scratches.  Her request to the EMT’s when they arrived on the scene was that while 3 of her sons lived within 3 miles of the accident—was it really necessary to bother them? They might not be as understanding as the nice EMT’s about how this could have happened to anyone. 

BACK TO THE LESSONS:  It was the middle of last week while having the recurring conversation about the latest happenings at the dance, when two simultaneous thoughts came to me.  1.  Mother’s Day was this coming Sunday, and 2, I hadn’t gotten her anything yet.   In a moment of inspiration, or confusion from one too many thoughts in my head, I commented…”Mother, why don’t I take you to the dance this Saturday night?”   If the fact that her hearing aids were sitting on the kitchen countertop, the fact that she was continuing her conversation about who was and wasn’t in attendance the previous week was my clue that she didn’t hear my comment.   I waited for a pause in her story, when I proposed the question again.   “You mean, like a date?” 

And so it was set.  I would pick her up at 7:30 pm, drive up to the Grange Hall, share a few dances, and call it a night.  

Thus, just some of the lessons I can learn on a date with your mom!

LESSON #1:  NEVER TOO SOON TO LEARN SOMETHING NEW!  It came in the form of a phone call from Mother on Friday afternoon.  While I thought I would jump in the river and learn the dance steps AT THE DANCE, Mom had the thought it might be well for me to stop by the night before the dance, we could spend some time going over the steps to the 3 dances that they do at the Grange.   Even as I write this, I’m not completely sure if it was so that I wouldn’t completely embarrass myself, or her. 

LESSON #2:  SOMETIMES 3 MEANS 6:  True, I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but when mother was teaching me the steps to dance # 6, a little line dance they do near the end of the evening, it even dawned on me that there are in fact more than 3 dances to learn.   Suffice it to say, while I had the basics to the Foxtrot and the 2 Step, the Waltz was playing several tricks in my head, but now I have the Polka, and several more that I can’t ever pronounce, let alone dance.  While there may be 3 main dances, be ready for many, many more.

LESSON # 3- GPS VS. CO-PILOT MOTHER:  While I had only been to the grange hall once before, and it had been some 10 years, I felt pretty confident that I knew how to get there.  Just one of the benefits of driving mom to the dance was do discover there are in fact a multitude of possibilities of how to get to our destination.  Several different routes for the way up and even more options for the return trip.  Those guys and gals at Garmin have nothing on Phyllis.  So as not to be bored with just the directions, mom filled me in with the history to each of the dancers that would most likely be in attendance that night.  History is code for life stories. 

SIDE NOTES # 2 & 3:

A.-THE BUILDING:  Pulling into the rock driveway, parking in the grass lot, climbing the grand stairs, walking through the large double doors that open up to the pecan wood dance floor with the Band already playing the live music from the stage opposite where you just entered.  I couldn’t help but stop, to take a moment and just sense in my bones the history of this hall that was built in 1952.   I could hear the distant echoes of the music, the laughter, and the dance steps that have taken place just about each and every Saturday night since 1953.

B.-THE BAND:  This particular Saturday night, and for that matter, most dance nights, the band consists of a fine gentleman on the drums, a woman who is master of ceremonies and even more a master on the piano.   This particular saint of a woman wears many hats.  She selects the songs to be played.  She decorates the hall.  And at the close of each evening, during refreshment time, she updates everyone in attendance on the status of those who are not there and closes the evening with at least 2 jokes.   Sitting next to her is her more than capable sidekick on the accordion.  Rounding out the quartet is a forever-young woman on the bass guitar.    I know, the music is live, loud, dead spot on and all for the cover cost of $2.00. 

LESSON #4-WHEN MOM TALKS, BEST LISTEN: Just one of the initiation rights for any new member or guest is to get introductions to each and every member in attendance.  I had no idea that the history lesson on each person that mom shared on the drive up would be so useful so soon. 

LESSON #5-WHEN A FOX TROT IS LIKE A WALTZ IS LIKE A POLKA: On the far side of the stage is a sandwich board that lists a. the current dance, b. the dance on deck, and c. the dance in the hole.  As I sat for the first few moments of that first dance, looking at the fact that the Fox Trot was the current dance, with the waltz on deck, and with moms words from the lessons the night before…1-2 and 3, 1-2 and 3, my pulse was no doubt in the neighborhood of 150 BPM.   The aha moment came while watching the other gentleman on the dance floor, taking in their every step, I notice one stepping to a fox trot, one a two-step, a third….well I’m not sure.  Mother noticed my observation, leaned over to me and commented, “It really doesn’t matter which step you use, as long as you enjoy.”  And with that, we got up and I made my first attempt at the Fox Trot around the room.

LESSON #6- LESSONS FROM THE CHAIR:  There are a few “special” dances each Saturday evening.  And even thought I knew it was coming, I could do very little to keep the fears at bay.  It’s tagged “the chair dance”.  A number of chairs are lined up close to the stage and the women who care to dance line up behind the chairs.   My mission this particular dance was to take one trip around the room with my partner, (my mom) drop her off at the end of the chair line, walk to the front of the line and take another trip around the room with a new partner.  Thus, the nerves.  It’s one thing to dance with my mom, a whole ‘nother thing to attempt with someone I’d only met minutes before.  The dance step for this particular event was a simple 2 step, which while not even close to flawless, I believe if you were observing me with my mother as a partner, you would have at least recognized it as a two-step.  About ¼ way around the room with my first new partner, she was kind enough to say, “You’re doing great, (a pause) but let me show you how to really do this!”   And with that statement I discovered what it felt like to follow, as opposed to leading.

About ¼ way around the room with my 2nd new partner, I had a Déjà-Vu moment when she commented, “You’re doing great honey, but let me show you how to really do this.”  I learned that women at the grange don’t mind leading, and quite frankly, I don’t mind following.

LESSON #7- JUST DO IT:  I had the very great pleasure of dancing with at least 7 different wonderful women that evening.   Each sharing their encouragement and tips.   But the one thing, the one statement they each shared was, “I wish my son would take me dancing!”.   SO HERE IT IS GUYS & GALS:  WHATEVER IT IS YOUR MOTHER LIKES TO DO, SIT ON A PORCH AND CHAT, TAKE A WALK IN THE PARK, TAKE A DRIVE IN THE COUNTRY, IT IS THE GIFT OF YOURSELF AND YOUR TIME, THAT WILL MEAN MORE THAN ANY FLOWERS, ANY CARDS, ANY CANDY, AND LEAF BLOWER THAT YOU COULD GIVE HER.  I got lucky, and fell into spending time with my mother doing something she dearly loves to do.  A week later, she is still talking about it.  I am embarrassed and even a little ashamed that I have never thought of this before.  I promise you, it will not be another year, another 6 months, or even another 2 months before we do this again.  It is just too easy to give so little that means so much.   While I don’t know what the enjoyment or passion that your mother, your father, your spouse, your significant other, your son, your daughter is.   I do know it exists.   So here’s your assignment.    FIGURE OUT WHAT IT IS, AND DO IT.   It’s that simple.

And for heaven’s sake…..Have FUN….Fred!


A Link, and some final thoughts on The Gate Keeper Premier/Elden Kellar Scholarship Fundraiser

The Link:  Hope you enjoy!

The Gate Keeper: The Story of a Corporate “Con” gone wrong!

The Final Thoughts:

1.  THANKS:   to all who came out to the Gate Keeper Premier/Elden Kellar Scholarship fundraiser.  It was one of the scariest/most enjoyable evenings I’ve personally had in a long time.   Thanks to your generosity, we raised just under $1000.00.  What a night!

2.  TAKES A VILLAGE:  I’m sure that you could create, shoot, edit a movie all by your little lonesome in your home…but why.  As I look back at the process, some of the most joyful moments have come from working on the project with others.  From working out the details with UniCorp properties to use the Lobby of one of their buildings, to working with the Law firm of Sather, Byerly & Holloway who graciously let us use their offices and conference room, to working with my friends, who doubled as our cast, and who were so gracious with their time and their talents.  And while only a couple of you have ever been in front of a camera or have ever acted more than a day in your life, you are all the best in my book and made this so much fun. (see the out takes at the end of the credits for sampling of fun).  And finally, working with Denzil Scheller and his staff, who donated the best venue ever to hold a premier/fundraiser, thank you again Denzil.

3.  JUST DO IT:  I recall watching an interview that Ed Burns gave when he shared the thrill and agony of putting together a film.  Just the sheer joy and pain of creating, filming, editing this little film AND THEN, inviting a few friends over to sit on the couch and watch your little baby.

Well, I can’t even begin to describe for you what the 48 hours building up to the premier was like.  My mind was filled with re-editing thoughts (in fact, I was making editing changes 8 hours before the premier).  My mind was also filled with the thought of “was this film really good enough?”  Really, people are going to spend some of their valuable time to watch this movie, I certainly didn’t want it to be a waste for them.  Fortunately, I have a close friend that I could share this fear that I had with.  He was kind enough to put his arm around me, pause, and with a most serious tone in his voice….”Bass, no one is coming because of your film, in fact, your little film could win an academy award, OR, it could be a dog, it doesn’t matter.  Folks are coming to support the Kellar Scholarship…pure and simple”.  Everyone should have friends like mine.  Not only was he right, the fact of the matter is that no one attending was a film critic, they were all friends who couldn’t have been more supportive.

My point to all you budding film makers…just do it.  Write it, film it, edit it, and learn from it.

4.  STORYTELLING AND FILMING:  I view myself first and foremost as a storyteller.  And while I have great strides to make in that area, I have a universe to learn about the technical side of filming.  I shoot with a Canon T2i.  It is what my budget allows me at this stage of my life.  There was a period when I lamented not having the T3i, or the 5D, or 7D, or this or that, if you get my drift.  But I have seen what guys like Luke Neumann (youtube, Neumann Films) can do with a T2i.  And yes I know he currently shoots with a 5D (see his latest short, “Copelandia”), and while I’ve never had the pleasure of having a conversation with Luke, I feel very safe in sharing that I know that he gets the shots he does for 2 reasons…He is very talented and he works very hard at it.  So until I put in a fraction of the time that he undoubtedly does learning his craft and gain a fraction of the talent, I will never again lament about shooting with my T2i.   I choose to view it as a sign of growth when you can admit to yourself that it really isn’t so much about the equipment, but how well you know it, and what you do with it.

Whatever you are currently lamenting over that you don’t have, get over it and do the very, very best with what has presently been gifted to you.

Whatever it is you have a passion to do…my advice…do it…and for heaven’s sake…..have fun….Fred

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How two of my lifelong paths merge!

The Elden Kellar Scholarship fundraiser/Gate Keeper premier is a just a few days away.  Amongst the last minute edits and the anxious feelings over publicly sharing my “baby”, here is the revelation of where these two separate paths I’ve been on actually came to me.

My Elden Kellar path:

If you look far enough back in my blogs, you will see that I attended a local catholic parochial school here in Hillsboro called St. Matthews.  My years there were filled, mainly due to the many wonderful dads who volunteered their time as coaches, with a plethora of after school sports.  There was the long-standing tradition of flag football in the fall, basketball in the winter, and baseball in the spring.  During my 5th grade year, one of my classmates, and truth be told, easily the best all around athlete in our class, decided that we should have a track team.  I wasn’t sure what “track & field” was, but if Bill says it’s the thing to do, I was in.  So, one fine spring day, about 10 of us jumped on our sting ray bicycles after school, rode them across town to Hare Field and met Bill’s dad, who had volunteered to be our coach, AND, just happened to be the local high school’s head track coach.  This marks the beginning of my 40 plus year friendship with one of the finest human beings on this planet, Elden Kellar.

My Path of Good Story Telling:

It was also during my 5th grade year at St. Matt’s that our teacher gave us one of the most creative assignments I have ever had.  We were learning about the Revolutionary War as a part of out American History curriculum.  In English class, we were working on the basic elements of writing a letter.  As an assignment, our teacher merged both classes by having us choose a character from the revolutionary war and from the perspective of that person, write a letter to someone.

I chose to create a character that had survived the battle at Bunker Hill and found himself in a make-shift field hospital in the middle of nowhere.  I then wrote a letter from his perspective to his mother back home.  I became that character. I shared with her my injury, the battle, the friends I had lost, the friends that had survived, that I looked forward to returning to fight for all our freedoms, but most, I looked forward to returning home.

The day that our teacher returned our assignments, without acknowledging who the author was, she decided to share one of the letters.  Most likely due to my bad habit of daydreaming, it took her reading a few sentences into the letter before I realized it was my letter she was sharing.  It was one of the scariest and yet most thrilling times of my young life.

And it’s really only now, looking back, that I realize it was that moment that my passion and love for storytelling first revealed itself to me.

And now, after all these years, I have the thrill of merging these two paths at one event.  My premiere of The Gatekeeper, a short film that I wrote and filmed, as a fundraiser for the Elden Kellar Scholarship.

Come join us on April 11th, 7:30 pm, at the Venetian Theatre, and for heaven’s sake…..Have fun……Fred!


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My Reflections on being a Wedding Officiant:

Let's all feel this way about someone we love!

More years ago than I care to admit, I had the honor of serving on a local church staff.  One of the “perks” as I saw it at that time, was having the legal requirements to be able to officiate a wedding here in the state of Oregon.  As time passed, and life changed, and I left my position at the church, therefore, the ability to officiate a wedding.

As life would have it, a few years later I was asked by a couple whose daughter was recently engaged if I might be able to officiate the wedding ceremony.  I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be able to help them, but I would check the current regulations with the State, County and City offices.  Long story short, turned out, just as life does, things had changed and jumping through a few legal hoops allowed me to perform the ceremony.  Then, not long after, I received another call from other friends in similar need, and yes, the next chapter began.  I’ve probably now officiated in the neighborhood of some 30 wonderful couples beginning their new stage of life together.  It is a privilege and an honor, it is all the things you might think it would be.   Filled with some deep emotional moments and typically a little humor along the way.  I get to know some people in ways I would never otherwise get to.  I’ve been referred to as “Pastor”, “Father”, “Rabbi” (not sure why that one), “Reverend”, but as most of you know, I’m most comfortable being Fred.  I’ve officiated in churches,  on beaches, at lakesides, on mountain tops, golf courses, and at homes.   But one of my goals in the process is to always keep the focus on the who, never about the where.

A little side note (as I’m prone to do):  Far too often the bride will share with me after the ceremony, “Wow, it all happened, I can’t even remember being there!”  To any couple walking through the process of a marriage ceremony, don’t let all the planning, prepping, scheduling, decision-making steal the joy of your ceremony together.  Give yourself time to breathe, to relax, to “smell the moment”, you’ll never, ever repeat this exact moment again, don’t let it slip away.  Nuff said!

Over the years, a soft voice would periodically speak from the back of my mind, “I wonder why I continue to do this?”  While it is indeed a privilege, it is at the same time a little anxiety filled, wanting to find the right words, to meet and get to know the couple, their stories, (in filmmaking vernacular, the back story).   Wanting to create a ceremony that is just theirs.  It never really dawned on me that each of  these times it was prepping me for one of the greatest days of my life, January 26, 2012, to officiate over my son and daughter-in-law’s wedding.   From the moment Aaron & Marie asked if I would officiate, I was so thankful for all the others who had asked before.  So thankful for all the times I had considered it being my last one, that I kept saying yes as it prepared me so well for this moment.

To stand with Aaron & Marie, their families and friends at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, to share the highlights of their childhoods, their high school days, their college days, their ventures out into their careers, and the very special day of November 2nd, 2007, when their eyes met each other for the first time.  How over the next few weeks, Aaron convinced others to share some closely guarded information as how to contact her.   How he found the 20 seconds of insane courage to ask her out, the moment that changed their lives forever.  To share the story of the night they chose to venture their next steps, their next years, their lives together as husband and wife.  To share the words with them as they faced each other, with such pure light in their eyes, pure love in their hearts,  and spoke their vows to each other.  To have the honor to introduce them, for the first time, to the world as Mr. & Mrs. Aaron & Marie Bass.   Well, words will never convey what I felt, what I feel in my heart for them both.

Aaron, Marie, I will never be able to thank you enough.  I am humbled by you both.  I so look forward to lifetime of memories and magical moments to come.   I send my greatest gift, a father’s love, to you!!!!

I don’t know what you all are doing today….but for heaven’s sake….have fun…fred!!!

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My Birthday Blog, 2011

I’ve just discovered that one of the consistent things I have accomplished since I started this blog is that I actually write a blog on about my Birthday.  So, as not to break the one consistent thing, here is my un-edited (because I’m just currently fatigued by editing) Birthday Blog!

It may not be true, but it seems that I’ve been asked more than usual this year what I would like to have or do on my birthday.  I either have more friends, or I’m approaching that age where people are worried I might forget that it’s my birthday.  I’m choosing to believe I have SO many more friends.  In any case, it got me to thinking, what would I like….?

My Short List: (trust me, you don’t want to see the long one)

  1. Films:  While part of me dares to dream that Ron Howard is going to call any day now and ask me to work on a film with him, my wish is to simply finish my current short “The Gate Keeper” with some sort of sanity.  Have to tell you, editing, it just hard work.  Who would have guessed.
  2. Work:  I am so grateful to have work, but on this day, my birthday, my wish is for it to get a little easier.  Actually, that I would choose an easier way, maybe a better way, or maybe even a new way to make a living.  Just throwin’ that out there.
  3. Nia & life:  So happy to have had the experience to have taken the Black Belt intensive training with Debbie Rosas and Ann Christiansen this last year.  Challenging and inspiring.  One of the things my Nia practice has gifted me is the awareness of the energy of grief.  The physical energy of grief.  My sense is that as a society we address the emotional , mental and even spiritual realms of grief, but leave the physical realm of grief un-attended.  It is my wish to share a workshop that’s been in my mind, my body, my spirit for the last 3 years on how to move…just move with the physical pain, the physical energy of grief that resides in us.  Releasing us then to dance through life, and I do mean dance, with a greater fullness of who each of us are.
  4. Faith, Family & Friends:
    1. Faith:  Whatever faith you adhere to, or don’t adhere to, I have to believe that most of us could agree on “loving your brother…” as a good thing.  My wish is that I could just show it, and share it a little more.  Not change the world kind of thing, just to my neighbors, my co-workers, my aquaintences, the person passing by at the mall (ok, you’ll never at the mall, so let’s just say on the street).  My wish, that I might make a more conscious effort to share a little more love.
    2. Family:  Jessie called about an hour ago, she’s just outside Bakersfield CA., she and Shaun are on there way to visit family and friends in L.A. over the holidays.  Aaron and Marie and busy getting ready for not just the holidays but for the wedding in January.  Jaime and Joel continue to shower me with their love from above.  I have 10 siblings that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.  I have a mother here on earth that at 88 still drives like a maniac and a father that shares special space above with Jaime, Joel and my big sis, Paula.  My wish is simply that I get to spend a little more time with you all this next year and that you would somehow just know how much you truly mean to me.
    3. Friends:  Hah, with a family my size, who really needs friends.  (in the writing world we call that a tension release, it is for me anyway.)  For reasons beyond my understanding and far more that I could ever deserve, I have been blessed with many, many special friends.   I love each and everyone of you.  My wish is that I might somehow return to you, the friendship that you have extended to me.

And my final wish on the birthday, is that “The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo” is just half as good as I hope it to be.  I’ll let you know.

My Best Wishes to YOU ALL!!!!

While I don’t know what is in store for you the rest of this day, my birthday, For Heaven’s Sake…Have Fun….Fred!!!!

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The Making of “The Gate Keeper”-Part II: The Blank Page!


Aaron Bass & Jim Smith in character on the set of "The Gate Keeper"

Before we get to “The Blank Page” a little side note.   For those of you who follow my snippets on facebook, you know that the filming is ”In The Can”.  We finished shooting with a rather marathon day two Sundays ago.   All that to say, while I write about the process of making this little film, the process is indeed “still in process”.  (say that 3 times…fast).

I have as of today completed the very tedious process of downloading and cataloging each clip.  And while tedious, it’s also here that I get to enjoy all the funny outtakes.  Although, I am wondering what we’ll do if we end up with more outtakes than keeptakes?  Is keeptakes a word?  Ah, making up words, a possible sign of the fatigue one encounters while making a film and attempting to hold some normalcy of life.  A gentleman that was in the office area that we were shooting was busy with his work, but after a few hours had to come down and ask if we were making a comedy, for there was just way too much laughing going on to be anything but?

Well, ok, it’s not intentionally a comedy, but it does speak to the possible humor of the outtakes.

THE BLANK PAGE:  To restate the obvious, this is indeed my process, not advocating you would ever want to duplicate this.

I started by gathering all my jottings, my outline, my crazy ideas and I sat myself down at my computer with my “MovieMagic Screenwriter” software and began hammering out the script.  BTW, nice software, but turns out if there is to ever be any magic, it still has to come from within.  Damn!  Taken in again by the lure of lovely, promising advertising words of “MovieMagic”.   Speaking of writing,

I had the occasion to hear Mike Rich (great screenwriter and an even greater human being) speak to a group where he shared what he said would be his best advice to any would be writers… WRITE, just write.

Now, I have to confess, with my notes, my outline, my thoughts having perculated on the back burner for sometime, I find that the first drafts come pretty easy for me.  I write.   I don’t self-edit.   I just trudge through until I write the words “fade out”.

However, and this is where I learned why my first drafts were so easy.  When I completed my first screenplay, well,  I was just so pleased with myself.  WOW!!!  I was at page 126 and just finished my first screenplay.  Mike was right…just write.  Back then, I had (for the record, still have)  two good friends that will not only support my whim of writing, but I know will also be honest with me about my writing.  I asked each of them if they would read this newly written “Casablanca” and I couldn’t wait to hear just how crazy over the top they would be over my genius.

To their credit, each, independently, graciously, shared with me that they didn’t get it, couldn’t follow it.  Just “what” they wanted to know, was the story.  Well, that little hurt on my ego inspired me to go back and read (for the first time I might note) my completed screenplay.   Lesson # 2—re-writes.  To go back and read what I had written was one of the most painful exercises I have ever partaken.   Heck, I wrote the story and I couldn’t follow it.  So, I re- wrote, re-read, re-wrote, re-read…long story short, I have since put that particular screenplay on the shelf, for now, anyway.

But I have discovered that the rewards of a good story come in the bone grinding hard work all the re-writes.  In the hammering, pounding and flushing out the details of each scene and character.   In asking the tough questions like why is this scene even here?  Will this be missed if it’s not here? How does this scene move the story forward, heck, just what is the story?  It was this very difficult process that lead me to attempt cutting my teeth on short films.  A 20 page screenplay is a little less ominous for my little mind than a 120 pager.

With the Gate Keeper, I wrote the first draft over a weekend, some 27 pages.   Second draft over the next several weeks and cut down to some 21 pages.   I have found that with re-writes, removing the clutter, the unnecessary scenes, the number of pages gets smaller.  Then life got busy and it was a few months before I had the time for the next re-write.  But it was during those months, one of the more frequent stories in the news was the Bernie Madhoff scandal.  The thought occurred to me, what if that type of scandal, or more precise, character showed up in this story.  Someone who intentionally rips people out of their hard earned money, and does it under the guise of being a gifted, confident businessman.  What kind of justice would he get?  Should he get?  Or, would he even get caught?  Thus, re-write No. 8 at that point but with a new twist.

Finally, I come to a point that I am comfortable enough to know that I have the story.  I know these characters and their motives.  I’ve seen the scenes in my head and now on paper 1000 times.   And with Gate Keeper, I’m now at 17 pages.  I also know, and leave room, for some small, subtle changes.   Remember, it is a work in progress.  And there will be others,  my two friends who still are my best critics,  the actors, and the crew, that will all have ideas or thoughts on scenes and characters.  And I know that they will have some awesome ideas.  Ideas that will make the story better, Ah!  A work in progress.

Now we’ve come to the point of recruiting cast, crew and finding locations.  And I wonder how these elements will change my little Gate Keeper story?

Till Next Time!  And for heaven’s sake….have fun…Fred!



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The Making of “The Gate Keeper”,

In my continuing exploration to learn, and my acknowledgment that I learn best by doing, I have ventured into the making of my second short film.  A friend, more kind than interested, thought I should share my process on my blog.  While she may never read the blog, it struck a note of inspiration, and distraction, for me.  I am dedicating the next several blogs to:

THE MAKING OF “THE GATE KEEPER”:  If you should venture through the musings below, please keep in mind, it’s a learning process, and this is my process.  Not always the best process (thus the learning) but it is my process, in the making.

Step 1, “THE GENSIS”:  Possibly my favorite phase of the whole process.  The birth of an idea for a story: the Brainstorming, the dreaming, the seeing scenes in my head.   I get to open my mind and my heart to all that is out there.   I get to open my ears and soul to listening.  I get to listen or watch the news with an attitude of “wonder if there is a story here”.  I get to read newspapers and magazines and listen to conversation at a coffee shop or in line at Winco.  (yes, Winco),  knowing, that there will come a thought, a notion, an idea that will resonate with me.  That will inspire me as a storyteller.

This particular story came mostly from the news.  Who hasn’t read or heard stories on our economy over the last few years:  the housing mess, WallStreet, the jobs, or lack of them.  But, in particular, the unemployed of the older generation, my generation.  The 50+ year olds that have been lost in the downsize and have spent almost every moment of the last two years of the lives networking, hitting the pavement, sharing resumes, filing unemployment, filling out job applications and not only to no avail, but seemingly no hope.  A particular segment of 60 Minutes solidified it for me.  What kind of story can be told that takes in the backdrop of our economy, the older generation in the workplace?

One of the first ideas that started percolating with me was about a couple of younger, hotshot workers pushing an older worker out of his job.  And what would the reaction of the older gentleman be?  Desperation?  Revenge? And with that thought, I started working on the story.

My way of starting on a story is jotting:  jottting down thoughts, scenes, characters, place and allowing myself complete free-flowing.  There is no wrong or bad ideas at this phase.  Although, truth be told, some of my ideas are soooo outtt there, I just can’t help but have a little self-editing during this phase.  I find that the thoughts come anytime of day and anywhere, so make sure you have a way to remember.  I.e. post-its, a dedicated file in a word document…whatever can work for you.

After a couple of months of this phase, yes, a couple months at least, after all, it’s not like I’m getting paid for this, AND, this is my favorite phase, so why hurry?  But at some point, I have a loose beginning, an end, and more ideas for the middle than I can possibly use, so time to head off into phase two:  actual writing.

NEXT TIME:  Phase 2, the blank page, and how Bernie Madoof changed my movie.

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