Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Difference Between a Screenplay and a Novel

Upon reading The Pitcher I like most writers was amazed at how different it is in the format of a screenplay. I don't write screenplays. I tried once but it just dried up on me and I realized I didn't care about fading in or fading out or exterior shots or breaking out dialogue into the middle of the page. A screenplay is shot from the outside and hopefully goes in. Novels are written from the inside and hopefully go out.

Saying that I did have some thoughts on the screenplay and I passed those on. Mostly they had to do with different elements of the script necessary to get the story across to the audience. Lets face it you have ninety minutes to get across a whole novel. That is not a lot of time. Imagine reading a novel that quickly. Your head would be spinning. So right there you know a lot of the book will not make it into the screenplay

Then there is the whole problem of voice. The Pitcher is told in first person so how do you get that voice across in a movie. Ricky's voice is very distinctive and carries the book but you cannot achieve this in a movie unless you have a narrator lording down from above. This was used in the first Great Gatsby and Tom Perrotta's Little Children. In both cases it was clumsy and overbearing.

I think this is why I prefer novels. There is one person controlling the story and I have all the weapons at my disposal to tell a story. Fading in and Fading out just doesn't apply.

The Pitcher

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Some of the things I won't miss about Parenthood

Let me say that I have watched over ninety episodes and I am closing in on the final season. So you could say I am a Parenthood devotee. Saying that there are some things I wont miss. The first will be the uber couple Adam and Kristina. These two seem to have some pack of kryptonite the rest of us mortals do not possess. Not only does Adam lose his job and land on his feet but he starts a recording studio with his brother Crosby that becomes enormously successful so much so that he passes up a couple million dollars in a buyout option after realizing that it is his brothers raison dete. Add a child and Kristina's cancer and a mayoral run by her and then starting a Charter School for their autistic son all the while navigation family crisis with elan and grace and money few of us possess and you have a most obnoxious fantasy middle class couple of the Berkley  super enlightened type.

I will also not miss the ever sexual Sarah billed as the siren who cannot fight off men fast enough. From the boyish Mr Sear (sic) to the hangdog Hank to the doctor in her apartment building to Seth her drunken ex rocker husband no one can get enough of her funny goofy cant get it together persona and the fact she always looks like a million buck no  matter how many crisis she navigates which brings us to her children.  Drew and Amber

Amber cannot be Bohemian enough for the writers. From her loft apartment that is always open to her strumming guitar to her I will have sex with anybody who moves me to her taking in broken men (Ryan) to her determination that she will be who she is to right to the point of having sex with someone in a body cast and getting pregnant and not getting why everyone isn't crazy enthusiastic over it except for Zeke the over top grandfather who we will get to in a few minutes. Forget that she blows a job working on a campaign by getting it on with the candidate or her series of jobs that go nowhere because she seems to never be shot of cash.

Drew they should have cut his character. Right off the bat. One hang dog Berkley angst ridden brooding  middle class kid (see Hattie who eventually reveals she is gay) is enough. So lets cut to Joel and Julia. Joel is probably the worst actor there or maybe the best. Just look conflicted with a hardhat and leave your smart sexy wife because she shows up at your work and then brood for a year. He deserves his white prison cell condo. What a dope.  Julia at least is who she is and is about the only character who doesn't go in for touchy feely emotional masturbation.

Then we have Crosby the eternal boy wonder /artist. Will he ever quit being the Crosby do the teenager thing? Married to another beautiful woman he effortly skates to success with Adam being the creative force of the studio while doing just about every bone head thing they can come up with  until be becomes the perfect dad with his African American wife and son all the while managing to be the token black sheep who is lovable even as he has sex with Max's (autistic child) tutor. (Everyone has tutors and therapists is no object)

Zeke is just nuts (should have quit with Poltergeist) and his wife Millie (should have stopped with John McClains ex wife in Die Hard I) has had way too much plastic surgery and too busy wilting through every scene as her husband plays the obnoxious patriarch busy setting the table in the back so they can have another family dinner. Because no one works and drops in at each other places of employment to discuss interpersonal issues and what the hell everyone is living in nice homes in Berkley and so lets go to dads before he sells the place and moves to another giant house complete with long table for family get togethers.

So...I will miss Parenthood. I actually really liked the series even with all it's flaws. Maybe I am as nuts as the characters. It does take one to know one.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Finding the Novel Inside of You

What do you think of a couple who acts out x rated scenes to restart their love affair? Hmmm. Not much. I get this a lot. People throwing ideas my way. And I wont say an idea is bad but that is not where novels come from. I do a Seminar for Libraries called Finding the Novel Inside of You. In it I basically cover where ideas for books come from. And they do not come from the market.

Take Fifty Shades of Gray. How many books came out right after that. Fifty Shades of Black Fifty Shades of Pink, Of Amber, Of Orange. Many many rip off books. And yet only the original did well because of  a randy section in the middle that appealed to certain woman who happen to buy a lot of fiction. Chase that one and good luck. The only way it really works I tell people is that you have to write from the heart. Or from emotion.

Everything else is just ideas and ideas tend to dry up and blow away. But tap into someone's emotional treasure and now you have a book because suddenly it matters to them. Really finding the novel inside of you is about find out what matters most to you and then writing about it in a way other people can grab onto.

Or you can write 49.5 Shades of Turquois.
The Pitcher
William Hazelgrove will be speaking at the Rolling Meadows Library Jan 15 7PM

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Reading the movie Script of The Pitcher

The script for The Pitcher came my way the other day. It is very good. Amazing how many changes have to be made though to accommodate film. The medium is visual after all. There is no chance to color the readers mind with prose. And to that end things have to changed to make sense and for the story to translate to an hour and a half medium. It is probably why I cannot write screenplays.

I tried once. I had a book on writing a screenplay and I sat down to write one. But with the first Fade In I Faded Out. It just didn't work the same way. I write from emotion and I  cant do that when I am worried about the way a scene will look. I am interested in the meditative moment and this does not translate at all to film. You can't tell someone how to think in a theatre.

But images must do the work and the screenwriter has to convert my prose into an image that will bring forth the same emotion in the viewer. No easy trick and that is why my hat is off to all screenwriters and especially the producer who wrote the script for The Pitcher. Amazingly he captured the tone and mood using workarounds that I would have never thought of.

But this goes to my philosophy that you can only do one thing well and so I will always gladly hand over my books to anyone who wants to write a script. So I can write another novel.

The Pitcher...sometimes a dream is all you have

Monday, December 29, 2014

Fastest Christmas Yet

Hard to say what made it so fast. Maybe losing a week after Thanksgiving. Maybe it is just everything is getting faster in a cyber world. But it was fast. Boom. Here and there and over. Not even enough time to see Macys windows and the lights in Lincoln Park or Its A Wonderful Life at the Music Box Theatre. Like a lot of people we have been backfilling after Christmas but of course it is not the same.

The Xmas blues comes a few days later when you face the winter. Could it be we are really in the countdown toward spring? And what does it say when we are continually looking from one date to the next. Ok Easter. Ok Fourth of July. Ok Thanksgiving. Ok Christmas. Ok New Years. That's right we do still have New Years.

But New Years didn't even live up to its reputation when I was still in the city and doing all the twenty something things. People were just sort of spent and the bad parties were legendary. But what the heck. We still have a few days to play Xmas tunes and stare at the tree. And you know what. NEXT YEAR we will get it all in.

After all there are only 361 days until next Christmas. Not so many.

Real far would you go for your kids?
  Vicki Rocco of Modern Family optioned the movie rights of William Hazelgrove's Real Santa for her production company Small But Mighty Productions with an eye to a feature or a made for television movie. Ms. Rocco has to her credits, Modern Family, Arrested Development, Stand and Deliver, U23D, Empire Dreams, Heather, Britany Spears Live, and sees Real Santa as a classic that will pull in people hungry for a new take on the Christmas movie. "No one has done this. No one has taken on the physics of being Santa Claus. It is funny and heartwarming and has all the things we look for in any great Christmas movie."

"If somebody doesn't make a movie out of this book, there's something wrong with the world.                                                                               
                                                                                                 David Pitts Booklist

"The author marries the everyday dramas found in the novels of Tom Perrotta and Nick Hornby to the high camp of Carl Hiaasen or Dave Barry. Adults looking for a funny holiday-themed tale that doesn't lose its sense of wonder in the face of realism will find a treat here. A lovingly crafted comedy about the madness that fatherhood inspires."
                                                                                              Kirkus Reviews


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Real Santa Chapter 46 MERRY CHRISTMAS!

MEGAN STARED AT the fireplace. Bits of black creosote fell

down onto the hearth like black snow. Megan kept her video camera

on the fireplace, barely breathing, scarcely able to believe she was

going to see Santa Claus emerge from the chimney with his gifts. This

moment contained the biggest question for her: How did Santa mange

to fit down the chimney with all his gifts? How did he actually climb

back up the chimney? Was he able to simply recreate the chimney
the way they did in The Santa Clause movie?

More pieces of creosote rained down into the fireplace and littered

the hearth. Then larger black pieces fell with heavy thuds. Some exploded

like small black bombs. This had never happened in any movie

Megan could remember. Now she became aware of other sounds.

Santa Claus was breathing heavy, grunting, thudding. Megan lowered

her camera and walked closer to the fireplace. The creosote was falling

like sand, as if someone was kicking the sides of the chimney. A cloud

of coal dust rolled into the living room, and somewhere far above

her she heard Santa again. His voice was deep and hollow, but that

might be because he was in a chimney. Megan stepped back into the

shadows and positioned herself. The sounds were getting louder, and

the size and amount of creosote had increased to a black avalanche.

Megan felt her heart and raised the camera again. Santa was

breathing very heavy and seemed to be grunting. A large black rock

of creosote hit the hearth and exploded like a small meteorite. The

sound stopped and Megan kept her eye on the camera, waiting for

Santa Claus to emerge in her living room. She bit her lip to make sure

she wasn’t dreaming. Here was the undisputable proof that not only
did Santa exist, but he had come down her chimney after landing on

her roof, and this proof would stream out into the world! She just had

to keep her camera aimed at the opening of their fireplace

A minute went by. Then another. Then another. Megan hit the

stop button and looked over her camera. She tiptoed up the fireplace

and bent her head, listening closely. There was no sound, then she

heard a single grunt, an expulsion of breath, then some dull cursing

followed by Santa’s voice echoing far up the chimney.

“I’m stuck!”

Real Santa Still On Holiday Sale

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Chapter 45 Real Santa (Christmas Eve)

MRS. WORTHINGTON’S LIFE had gone along like a train on

a track that had few bends. But why was she crying over a silly movie?

Why did she care if George Bailey was happy? Was she crying

because her husband had left and gone over to watch that maniac

Kronenfeldt play Santa Claus? Why would anyone want to watch

a grown man endanger himself and others by landing a sled with

reindeer on his roof?

Mrs. Worthington stared at the fake Christmas tree. Walter always

liked a fresh tree, but the mess and the needles were simply too

much. Ten years ago she had bought the Christmas tree that could be

set up in ten minutes. No lugging the tree in the house. Just take the

tree out of the box and set it up. Mrs. Worthington felt that she had

scored one against Christmas. She resented the silliness the holiday

generated in her classroom and in her home. The only real way to

deflate the myth of Christmas was to deflate the biggest myth and

that was Santa Claus!

Mrs. Worthington stared at her father on the mantel with his

fierce dark German eyes. He had taken Santa away from her early,

and she resented the other children who believed in the ridiculous

fat man with a beard. She had told them it was their parents. She had

told them Christmas was ridiculous and a waste of a good working

man’s day. That was what her father had said. And she found herself

an outsider among her friends. The teacher admonished her to keep

her beliefs about Santa Claus to herself. She was a spritely thing who

had them sing Christmas carols all month long while she played the


Mrs. Worthington picked up the picture and stared at the man

on the front steps of their home. She was there between his legs, a

young girl of ten. Her father taught her how to milk a cow and stack

hay bales and even to slaughter a chicken. He treated her like a son,

and she took his revelation about Christmas as evidence that he

viewed her as an equal. But she envied the excitement of the other

children when talking about the arrival of Santa Claus. Who wouldn’t

be excited about a man who comes down your chimney and leaves

gifts around your Christmas tree and then vanishes? Why, he was a

bit like God when you thought about it.

God promised human salvation. He promised the greatest gift of

all—the gift of life. So the advertisers who had created Santa Claus

had tapped into a very powerful emotion—the human yearning for

someone to come in and save us all. And for children, Jesus and

Santa Claus were all mixed up together. Mrs. Worthington had read

a recent poll that Santa Claus was what children associated with

Christmas, not the baby Jesus. That alone was justification for her

war against Santa.

And her war consisted of one simple human emotion—doubt.

She put doubt into the children’s head over the existence of Santa

Claus. Some might think it was an evil thing to do, but they didn’t

have to deal with twenty-five screaming children for the twenty days

before Christmas. The holiday party was her concession to the children

and their parents. But she would not lie to the children. She

would not perpetuate this myth of gifts for nothing. Children should

understand the relationship between work and getting things they

wanted. Santa Claus told them that if they were good children, then

they were rewarded. That was ridiculous. Children should be good

and not expect a reward.

Mrs. Worthington set the picture of her father down and paused.

And now this moron was going to potentially undo all her work. He

would give his daughter an opportunity to prove to the children that

there was a Santa Claus. She did not want a celebrity in her classroom

for the remaining six months of school. She did not want her class to

be home to the girl famous for proving the existence of Santa Claus.

And now Kronenfeldt had lured her husband away on Christmas

Eve. That made Mrs. Worthington so mad she picked up the phone

and dialed. She would make Kronenfeldt pay.

“Yes, I would like to report a man with reindeer on his roof …

Yes … he is creating quite a disturbance, and I cannot get any sleep,”

she said to the policeman, meeting her father’s disapproving glare.

Real Santa

Books by William Hazelgrove