Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Interview with Suzanne Lyons

Here I am with my mentor Suzanne Lyons discussing some details about financing indie films using THE COMMUNE as an example.  :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Watch This Movie: LISA

I'm an acclaimed feature writer/director in Hollywood who has studied over 6,000 films. Since 2007, millions of Netflix members have ranked me as a Top 10 reviewer. Here is a movie I think is worth your time and money, and will enrich your life.
- Elisabeth Fies

(1990) 95 minutes
Genres: Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Drama, Coming of Age, Gender Issues, Romance
Feels: Scary, Real, Disturbing, Melodramatic, Involving
Written and Directed by: Gary Sherman
Starring: Staci Keenan, Cherl Ladd, D.W. Moffett, Jeffrey Tambor 

LOGLINE: A precocious, boy-crazy fourteen-year-old who isn't allowed to have her first date channels her energy into stalking a handsome ladykiller her mom's age. But instead of finding love with Mr. Wrong, she unwittingly makes her mother the serial killer's next target. 

REVIEW: 4.5 out of 5 stars. Watch it now!

Absolutely adored it. A beautiful little time capsule that embodies the soul and angst of every teen girl blossoming in the late 80's. Don't understand your hormonal daughter? Watch this movie. This is the best kind of thriller: one where the filmmaker took the time to make you care what happens to the leads so you want them to be okay...but then makes dang sure every horrible thing that could happen to your beloved characters DOES. 

The suspense scenes are handled perfectly, as are the mother/daughter bonding and bickering blocks. Staci Keenan is once again an absolute powerhouse (Why oh why did she disappear into the ghetto of "faith based" films?). Cheryl Ladd is lovely, and very effective. I had empathy for both characters and felt like I knew them. Director Gary Sherman brilliantly uses every chink in their Gilmore Girls-esque relationship against them as their house of cards collapses. Terrifying results ensue.

See the movie now on Netflix Instant

Because it's not on DVD and I don't want this gem to disappear: psssst search YouTube *wink wink. But I think you're horrible if you watch a movie this way, and owe the cast and crew a good review on IMDb and a note to MGM to release LISA. I even made it way easy for you by providing the linky-links.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Watch This Movie: PEACOCK

I'm an acclaimed feature writer/director in Hollywood who has studied over 6,000 films. Since 2007, millions of Netflix members have ranked me as a Top 10 reviewer. Here is a movie I think is worth your time and money, and will enrich your life.
- Elisabeth Fies

(2010) 90 minutes.
Genres: Mystery, Drama, Gay & Lesbian, Gender Issues, Period Piece, Psychological Thriller
Feels: Creepy, Cerebral, Hitchcockian, Satisfying, Empowering
Directed by: Michael Lander
Written by: Michael Lander, Ryan O Roy
Starring: Cillian Murphay, Ellen Page, Susan Sarandon, Bill Pullman

LOGLINE: In a small 1950s town, a train crash thrusts a recluse into scrutiny that dangerously unravels the false persona he has protected all his life.

REVIEW: 4 out of 5 stars. Highly recommended, and something I would watch again.

Gorgeous! A fresh take that does justice both to Hitchcock and disassociative identity disorder. A lot of love went into this film, from the tight screenplay to the lovely cast and period touches. Cillian is again superb, and the other characters surround him in a warm web of intimacy John/Emma are not built to handle. They really care about "him", and we really care about all of them...which makes the suspense build to an unbearable level. Is John/Emma a killer? Will the abused become an abuser? Can someone this outside of society survive it? A delicate, mindful, and disturbing film.

See the movie at Netflix
See the movie at Amazon

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

SCRUTINIZE by The Fies Sisters

One of my favorites. Our team had a blast. Brenda Fies and I did well as co-directors, and my cinematography looks how I pictured the piece when star/writer Melanie Leanne Miller told us the story.

When we picked up an award at Lady Filmmakers Film Festival at the WGA, a male filmmaker said the most awesome thing to us: "You made Scrutinize for $100, in two hours? FUCK YOU!!!"


Welcome to the Monkey House

Still don't know what I'm doing. I know, I know, I get a fishie just a week ago and now I'm already complaining. But the fishie didn't come with a paycheck, so now I'm back to seriously wondering what am I doing? Where is my life going?

Right now I'm gearing up to go out for my first staffing season (Or as my feature film mentor refers to it: "TV whoring"). I'm actually in the camp that thinks this is the true golden age of television. And some people are actually hiring women and giving them their own shows...especially the funny women. So it's time to try to get my feet wet. My main UCLA professor/mentor has always said my wheelhouse is being the funny one, so now that I've been making a name in the thriller feature world it's time for me to eff that all up by going for a different career (I'm only partly joking...but look, in this recession you have to follow the money and that's in TV funny, son.).

This month I'm writing two fresh spec scripts of current shows on the air, and hopefully finishing my latest thriller/horror feature by mid April. Then in April/May I'll be writing a pilot spec; and another thriller that we could easily shoot this summer nobudget, or that I could also see a fan of my Pistoleras screenplay picking up for one of their teen stars. Or let's be honest: I might be ready to sell Pistoleras. Even to some asshat rapist producer who will ruin it and turn it into everything I stand against. It's possible Lis is tiiiiired.

Re: TV writing...I'm no Jane Espenson, Jilll Soloway or Jennifer Salt (Should I change my name to Jelisabeth to hedge my bets?). But when I focus I can write fast without losing quality. Not as fast as that other UCLA professor who believed in me but wanted me to write 60 pages a day!!? 60 pages a day sober? No sir. I'm definitely no David Kelley or David Milch. No "Delisabeth" without the aid of uppers. Not that I've ever taken crack or cocaine...but I have this artist's dream that if I did I'd accomplish the Infinite Monkey Theorum muuuuch quicker. 

Chimpie's hooked on Shakespeare!

Prepartion-wise, I think it helps I've been studying 40 hours of TV a week my whole life (this month I've watched 70 hours a week and feel like my eyes are bleeding into my brain.). It also helps that I actually love the medium and believe in the TV writers renaissance. I'm still amazed at how many screenwriters talk about not watching TV like that's a good thing. What's good about never experiencing Battlestar Galactica, Rome, Buffy, Ally McBeal, Six Feet Under, 24, Deadwood, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, 30 Rock, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Community; etc. etc. etc.?!

So here's to staying focused on writing, and not letting producing, filmmaking, or gossip blog-reading sidetrack me out of a shot at making a paycheck. I'm an underground filmmaker who has a hard time thinking about art in terms of me making money (I've no problem with the project or other people making money, just me apparently.) I think I've tricked my brain for now by concentrating on getting back the $$$$$$ Ive invested. That seems fair even to my effed up unconscious. More than fair. It makes me feel a little Errol Flynn Robin Hood-ish.

"When this is over, my friend, there'll be no need for me to come again."

If you want to help me...I only have one writer's group right now checking up on me once a week. Please feel free to yell at me daily to keep me on task. Really, it works to be accountable, even to strangers. Go ahead, ask me my daily page account! Spank me!

                                                                And me!

In other stream of consciousness news...Wow! I'm sitting here watching Once Upon a Time, and Ginnifer Goodwin and Jennifer Morrison are onscreen talking to each other without causing a riff in the space time continuum. They are so separated at birth, it's crazy. Well let's not get cocky, folks. We may have survived this 2012 disaster, but let's hope for the sake of mankind that no one casts cosmic twins Jamie Pressly and Jamie King in a TV scene together...See? I'm ALWAYS watching TV...Oh look, and the Dark Shadows trailer looks really cool and funny. Okay Burton, I'm in.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Psychopathic Narcissist's World

It's estimated that 60 million people in US are negatively affected by someone else's pathology. Odds are that the areas of your life that are causing you harm are intersecting with these sick fucks, and that you have friends and family who are victims of their crimes. This isn't stuff you can visionboard away, so here are some articles to help you identify and avoid:

Sam Vaknin's photo journal explaining Narcissistic Personality Disorders.

The Institution for Relational Harm Reduction tackles the other side of the coin: Hyper Empathy.  
Whoopsie. That looks familiar. I once asked one of my oldest friends what she thought my number one problem in relationships was. She said I was too understanding.

Male Survivors.

Adult Children of Narcissistic, Psychopathic, and Borderline Parents (pretty much every second generation in Hollywood).

One of my all-time favorite "things that make you go hmm" articles links B Complex to crime:
Who Does That? Part 1
Who Does That? Part 2
Talk about lightbulb moment. If you have people in your life with personality disorders you have to read them. If you've found yourself questioning your sanity, or trying to empathize with criminals; just remember to ask yourself: WHO DOES THAT?

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Remember that photo of Hero we thought was sooooo funny over the top?
Hero's thought bubble: "And jazz hands!...Ha cha cha cha cha!"

Well I may not have room to talk:

Lis's thought bubble: "And jazz hands!...Ha cha cha cha cha!"

Oh dear. Well, the other three were happy to be there too, I swear!! It was a lovely dinner.

On the left is Michael Jacobs, screenwriter of the awesome HALLOWEEN 5 and producer of the harrowing Sundance hit NANKING (Co-starring my friend from high school Hugo Armstrong, whose thriller OK GOOD just premiered at Slamdance.). In the middle is mentor Steve De Jarnatt, writer/director of MIRACLE MILE and CHERRY 2000 (which we were on our way to see at the Egyptian's fantastic retrospective honoring Steve!!!). And my dear friend Deepika Daggubati, writer/director of WAKING DREAMS.

It was a fantastic night. I was blown away seeing the 35mm print of MIRACLE MILE, which you know is one of my favorite movies of all time. Just absolutely gorgeous.

The cherry on top is that somehow the American Cinemateque people tracked down the CHERRY 2000 print...that was the first time Steve had seen it in a theatre! The story is that there are only four prints left, and Joe Dante has one of them. But ours Thursday night came from a studio. I really enjoyed seeing it again, and so appreciated the crazy-ass stunts, retro-future sets/costumes, and Melanie Griffith's badass Mad Max-esque character.

The vibe in the theatre was really awesome. It was great to see Steve's Q&A, hear the fans tell him what the movies mean to him, and nice to see Stuart Gordon again.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Am I going to hell?

So what's your stance on blind gossip sites?

I can tell you why I've been addicted for years.  It's because Blind Gossip is the intersection of several of my lifetime passions.

1. I grew up devouring Arthur Conan Doyle, Nancy Drew, and 70s-80s era Batman comics (Hello Norm Breyfogle!). Love using my brain to detect. (Often what gets detected is murder, which later lead to my somewhat begrudging perusal into the thriller/horror hybrid).

2. I grew up devouring old Hollywood. Back then in the prehistoric ages there was no internet, no DVDs with commentaries, no gossip sites. So I read every star's biography; watched every black and white movie my town's only video store carried (we got our VCR in 1980 and were the first by far to have one); to my everlasting shame, built shrines to People (Kneepads) magazine and dreamt of being in it; and memorized every card in my Movie Moguls boardgame. Also decorated my bedroom with the cards. Did I mention I was an unpopular child? That's okay. Honey Badger don't care.

3. Blind Gossip aligns with my value system of standing beyond authenticity and creative self-expression, two things peed upon by the old Hollywood system that enforced PR images that destroyed its celluloid creations' actual lives.

But now there's something new on the horizon that's an even better reason. The best site (which doesn't deal out drug supplies of glee and Schadenfreude to its readership)...well it's capable of Robin Hood-esque acts of good.

I believe the truth will set you free.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Miracle Mile

I'm off to go have dinner with one of my best friends, a filmmaker hero of mine, and someone new I'm stoked to meet who made some of my favorite TV shows as a kid. And I'm late, as always. Sigh.

Afterwards we're going to one of my favorite theatres to celebrate the career of Steve DeJarnatt. Here's an old blog post on why I want you to rent Miracle Mile (and Cherry 2000...if the title appeals to you, you're the right audience for it):


Sometime soon I'll tell you one of the most humiliating things that's ever happened to me. It involves two of the people above, my feces, and a broken camera.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

To blog or not to blog

I started this blog February 4th, 2005 when my awesome Mom started hers. She wrote poetically about her daily struggles recovering from cancer, and I wrote about blundering through caregiving, dating, film school, and my own recovery post head injury from a car accident with a drunk driver in 1995. 

You'll notice there are years of daily posts here. Then an attempt at being less confessional. Then a reincarnation as a lifestyle blog that points out impersonal trinkets. Followed by a sprawling capitalist mess shilling for you and the bizarro world of horror-lovers to view my poor misunderstood feature film that very few people grok. Outside of 70s-cinema lovin' Hollywood intellectual bohemians, the actual Masters of Horror, and some really nice fundamental Christians (When I go niche, I go DEEP NICHE baby. Oh wait, you're NOT supposed to go that niche? You're supposed to find 1000 True Fans, not 100 True Fans? Well fuck me with a chainsaw!).

No no, I swear I'm not doing one of those narcissistic posts where I say I'm never going to blog again as a Tinkerbell clap trap to make you all dance like monkeys to bring me back to life (Though *if* I were a Narcissist (which Dr. Olcese says I can't be since I'm capable of asking that question), you all know I came by it naturally through half my designer genes, n'est-ce pas?).

See??? THAT is why I need to start blogging again. The above paragraphs? CRAPTASTIC writing. I was the most productive and gooder at ze ol' clackety ckack when I was putting in my WGA-prescribed Stream of Consciousness Hour a Day right here at my stupid lil blog. And that discipline naturally overflowed into writing the (unproduced) feature screenplay PISTOLERAS that I still think could save thousands of kids from sex slavery. So that cause and effect alone is cause enough to pause and think deep thoughts with Jack Handey on a daily basis.

But the negatives are like whoa. Violent soul-ripping out of your body junk. Some of it from innocuous stuff that exposes your friends' neuroses. Some of it so deserved that I'll be coming back reincarnated as a snail next life (the first year of true confessional blogging has a steep learning curve that will cost you family members and lifetime friends).

Dealing with feeling the petty envy of watching blogging friends get book deals and paying jobs and Hollywood careers and big blog audiences that financially sustained them. Getting to a Taoist point of not caring about not having that and just focusing on the joy of creating. Wondering then if I'm talking to myself, why exactly am I bothering? The tree is still falling. For whom am I recording the fall? Alien ancestors? And why did I have so many pictures of myself up on my own blog? Ewwww. How desperate am I? You guys are right. I hate me, too.

Getting a readership and having that first high of validation and communication with peers. The fall when they turned. Followed by driving most of the readers away when the snarky wannabe screenwriters kept attacking the underdog, exhausted caregivers. Zeus I can't abide bullies.

Then there's the really evil stuff. My close friends would snort at me typing "I try to focus on the positive", but unfortunately guess what? When you open up a vein and publish your fucking diary on the web, your close friends aren't the ones who come daily to lap up the blood. Nope. It's the two stalkers with autoerotomania escalating towards violence. That cunt hiding behind the mask of feminism who actually has Narcissistic Personality Disorder and IS going to die alone and broke.

Meeting heroes in the film industry as colleagues and learning they really think women are only good for putting their dicks in. Not finding a place as a writer in the boys club of the comic world. Losing boyfriends by not writing or writing about them.

Or the biggest kick in the gut: discovering the pervasive Female on Female Violence that is the real reason women don't have equality in Hollywood, and by extension the world. My close friends REALLY want me to make a documentary about my interesting thoughts about mean girls and the Cavewoman inside us all and how we're the problem not the solution. To which I say, fuck you, YOU go make a documentary. I want to get PAID to do the Wild Thing. Grumble. I've got at least $250,000 I've invested in this hobby over the past 25 years. It would be nice to get ONE PAYCHECK. Just one. So my dead grandparents can stop thinking I'm an indulgent asshat.

Have I told you about how I stopped looking at the search words for how strangers found my blog because it made me want to throw up my spirit? Or how friends of mine have had their photos downloaded, then uploaded to the internet with cum on them? Or how my attempt to raise money for my lead actresses' prosthetic hand after a horrible accident turned into thousands of perverts coming HERE to jack off, then stealing her photos and posting them to a porn fetish website? I tried to buy her a hand and I broke her heart.

Like, what can I ever do to make up for any of that? Or forget it? And this is the nonpersonal stuff that's been going on in my life, not even getting into the "how'd I get so old and fat and yeah, I'm really really old and why am I still attracted to twenty-five year olds what's wrong with me" bullshit. No, this is the stuff I brought upon myself by trying to make a difference.

So yeah, I've been in a man-cave minus the man. There's definitely a feeling of "If I never TAKE a step, then I have a small carbon footprint...right??? It's not my childhood ambition of Avengers Assembling to save the world, but it also means I can't accidentally be on the VILLAINS' side, right??? I'm not fucking ULTRON'S pawn, at least. Right, universe? Hello? Universe, are you there...?

I didn't know what to do. So I threw down the gauntlet last week. I yelled at my mom. I'm not proud. The natural course of losing your way spiritually means I haven't been feeling her or talking to her. Ruminating on all the ways I could have been a better daughter. So last Friday I gave her the ol' "HEY. I know you're there. Why aren't you DOING anything? And what the fuck am I supposed to be doing, because I'm so far below the poverty line hitting it is my vision board GOAL for the year. And I don't know what the hell I'M supposed to be doing, and I think the universe is screaming give up and go live in the desert away from humans and stream Netflix movies all day. (Which is ALSO now evil and corporate; What The FUCK, Netflix??? Where's your indie street cred NOW, after you've singlehandedly brought down the film industry???).

So Barbara...Bitch TELL ME SOMETHING!" And she did. I got a Big Fishie. A big juicy undeniable one that involved my sister, my gradeschool best friend Jen, and some closeted activist Deep Throat old school Hollywood insiders. Barbara laid this Fishie in deep. There's personal nods going back twenty-seven years ago with Jen, twenty years ago with Brenda, and twelve years ago with Mom. A trio of ladies I couldn't love more, all of whom share a deep passion for the underdog. Each one of whom I shared memorable affinity moments with while watching the amazing film work by one person. A Hollywood figurehead who is the Fishie and may or may not have even been the fishmonger with the help of his awesome fishwife. Doesn't actually matter if I ever know how it went down or who delivered the fishie. I know there's someone out there trying to do good in this fucked up world who thinks I'm doing some good work and found me and my family because of this blog.

That is good enough for me. I got the message. "BLOG, BITCH." As you wish, mom.

Oh mom? I got your other message, too. The one that meant "Don't accept yesterday's high bid even though it could buy you groceries. You're keeping your last piece of Avengers art."

Vi veri universum vivus vici

Watching my favorite blogger Enty at Crazy Days and Nights and his Hollywood Justice League expose some horrible Hollywood pedophiles under the laws of celebrity gossip. It will be interesting to see how this chess match goes down. Soooo proud of those involved in bringing these crimes to light.
We are all V.