Joseph Gordon-Levitt

It was an adventurous weekend. So adventurous, I wrote a short story. The short story was so good, I’ve decided to try and get it published. It needs another pass or two and to be trimmed to an accepted length, but I’m pretty excited about it.

I went on Playboy to see about publishing it. I remember they publish a short story every month in their magazine and I think this story would fit well in their pages. While I was on Playboy, I noticed a 20Q article about Joseph Gordon-Levitt and his new movie. It was a refreshing article because it talked about a couple of things. The first thing was when he said,

    “I love when someone approaches me and tells me they’ve seen me in something that made them feel something and that they connected to it. That’s part of why I do it. The other interaction is with people who really don’t care about the movies or anything like that. They just sort of buy into the fame thing, and that feels icky to me.”

That’s good, because when I ran into him at The National concert and blabbed about how much I loved The Lookout and thought he was fantastic in Mysterious Skin, I worried he was thinking, “oh, great, another douchebag that’s not going to leave me alone.” But I think he understood I was a true fan of his work. I hate the fame thing as well. People are famous for being horrible vain selfish people and it creeps me out.

The other thing he talked about was his character on 500 Days of Summer:

    “The (500) Days of Summer attitude of “He wants you so bad” seems attractive to some women and men, especially younger ones, but I would encourage anyone who has a crush on my character to watch it again and examine how selfish he is. He develops a mildly delusional obsession over a girl onto whom he projects all these fantasies. He thinks she’ll give his life meaning because he doesn’t care about much else going on in his life. A lot of boys and girls think their lives will have meaning if they find a partner who wants nothing else in life but them. That’s not healthy. That’s falling in love with the idea of a person, not the actual person.”

I’m glad he recognized it because that’s why I hated the movie and couldn’t finish it. He was a horrible character and I didn’t enjoy it.

Also, he talks about why right now is so exciting. I have lots of friends that live in the past and they love 80s music and 80s movies and I think if they could, they’d live their whole lives in the 80s. I agree with Joseph that with the power of the Internet and computers, you can create anything and find an audience. No one is beholden to anything. We’re all free to do what we want and that is extremely exciting. Sure, politicians suck and corporations suck, but when have they not? Wall Street was just as evil and greedy in the 80s as it is today.

And last, he talks about cars. I’m from Detroit. My father greatly benefited from GM as well as most of my friends. My girlfriend works in the car industry. I used to as well. I hate cars. I look at them and see giant vacuums sucking money out of my pocket. I just want a cheap car that gets me from A to B without breaking down. The fetish of muscle cars and classic cars and luxury cars and all that crap is completely lost on me as well. Money could go into so many more useful things.

I’m done ranting. I recommend reading the entire article.

Off to see about getting published.

Waiting for the train.

I’m sitting in an Amtrak station waiting for the train. I’m going to the Greek embassy in D.C. to apply for my dual citizenship. I’ve tried contacting them through e-mail and phone but it’s been hopeless; they’ve returned neither.

I’ve always wanted to live in Greece. I’d always hoped to live in my family’s home, but several years ago they sold it. Now, I want to live off the Mediterranean in Thessaloniki for about six months and even get a job. I want to be there long enough to learn the language. Being Greek and not speaking it is very difficult. Most Greeks just assume I know it and it’s always embarrassing to tell them I don’t. Unfortunately, I don’t know if I’ll ever get to do this; too many responsibilities just to leave.

A lot has gone on recently, with the passing of my father and my girlfriend’s father, it’s been a tumultuous past few months. I’m ready for some normalcy. I’ve thought recently about what I wanted out of this blog and whether or not I wanted to keep it going. I agree with many that most blogs are narcissistic and are only there to feed egos and it perpetuates the culture of me me me, but I often finds blogs that I love that teach me news things or they help me to look at things from different perspectives. I’d love to be that kind of blog, but I don’t have any specific talents and everything I can do, I know many that can do it much better. I wish I was smarter so I could help more, but I’m the student and probably always will be.

I recently purchased a Steadicam vest and a Blackbird steadicam. I’m going to start practicing and post some videos showing the results. I have an idea for a music video / short film that I’m going to shoot in December and my skills have to be great to pull it off. Until then…

Work sucks.

I just noticed it’s been a month since I last posted. Sheesh. Unfortunately, I have to take jobs I don’t like so I can do the things I do like. I was holed up in a clinic for three days and I struggled to find the inspiration to write. I still haven’t felt like writing since I’ve been back. Tomorrow, tomorrow, I keep telling myself. Before long, twenty years has passed.

Anyways, more will be coming soon. I’m struggling to find a bridge from act 2 to 3, so I’m going to work backwards.

If you have time, check out two Kickstarter campaigns I recently funded:

One is from my friend and fellow photographer Eric Cousineau who’s working on capturing a dying part of American history. Click the link here. If you think he’s asking for too much, remember that he’s using real film, he has to get the books printed and gas is expensive. It’s a great project that will be more appreciated by future generations.

Another is from a local theater company whose play was accepted for the NY Fringe Festival. Click the link here. Theater is hard to fund because the only benefit you get is the satisfaction you helped out, but they’re not asking for much and they’re nice people.

New website.

Lately, I’ve focused my attention to building a new website. Somewhere I could host all of my interests on one page. The blog will stay here, because I like all the exposure I get with other WordPressians, but it will also be on my homepage.

Years ago, I found the perfect website Neon Sky. It has a clean look, easy to navigate, quick loading times and looks great on the iPad. But it’s too expensive for my budget. It runs around $600 a year and that’s just too much for me. I don’t get the amount of clients I need to afford the website.

Another site that I love, but is out of my price range is APhotoFolio. Again, it has all the great features of Neon Sky, including an app for the iPad, but it’s too expensive at a $1000 setup fee and $17 a month.

So a couple of weeks ago, I decided to just do WordPress and I built two different sites; one for my photography and one for my film-making. And I linked them all on my homepage (which is now defunct). And wouldn’t you know it, just a couple of days later I found the perfect site: Virb.

With a little tweaking, you can get Virb to look every bit as good as Neon Sky and APhotoFolio, but it only costs $10 a month. The only thing that isn’t as good with Virb is that your photos aren’t protected from downloading like they are with Neon Sky and APhotoFolio (the reality is if your work is out there, then it’s available to be stolen. I’ve watched Stephen van Vuuren create IMAX sized images from four mega-pixel NASA photos for his film in a basement movie Outside In, so anyone that knows how to screen grab can print their own artwork at any size they want). The best thing about Virb is the ease in which you can build pages. It’s far superior to WordPress, which is super easy itself, so that says a lot.

Anyways, this post is supposed to be more about me and not so much about Virb, but I love the site so I recommend checking it out. And check out mine as well. And if you could, buy something! It’s cheap, great art. Thanks.

www.ioannisbatsios.com

Getting back into the flow.

I’ve been away and unproductive due to a death in the family and my own father battling kidney failure. My mother was kind enough to move back into dad’s house to take care of him. I had to drive from my home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina to pick her up in Satanta, Kansas then drive her to Flint, Michigan. It’s been an exhausting month. I can’t wait to get my life back to normal.

While I was there, I took some pictures and posted it to my new photography website. I’ll be posting more photos there in a couple of days.

I sat down to start working on the script today and was surprised that I had no idea where I was with it and what was going on. I’m going to have to go back over my notes and re-read it from the beginning.

Meanwhile, I’m going to start doing Go Into The Story’s 1, 2, 7, 14 formula for increasing one’s skills at screenwriting.

    My plans for this week are:
  • 1: I’m going to read a script, that was written by a friend of a friend, that has won a couple of screenwriting awards.
  • 2: The movies I’m going to watch are Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and The Avengers. Both look pretty good to me.
  • 14: And while driving through dust-bowl town after dust-bowl town, I came up with a great idea for a comedy drama script that I can’t wait to write. That will be what my fourteen hours of prep work will be towards.
  • Back to work.

    I took some time away. I did a little traveling. Went to Pittsburgh for the first time. Great city. I hit Pizza Palace in Knoxville, Tennessee while I passed through there. Pizza Palace is well-known because it was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, one of my favorite shows.

    I had the lasagna and Greek pizza. I was expecting more ingredients on the pizza, but there was only feta cheese to go along the mozzarella. But it was delicious. The lasagna wasn’t a typical lasagna. It was meat sauce, cheese and noodles thrown together and baked. It was a little salty, but still good. It was a good cheap meal. I’d eat there all the time if I lived there.

    Anyways, back to work.

    Over the weekend, Steve Feek of Feek writes, took the time to read my script and gave me some great notes on how to improve my script. I won’t mention them all, but the best one was to change Sam’s occupation to a doctor and have his job somehow be related to his wife’s death. It’s just an excellent fabulous suggestion and alleviates my problem of the audience not sympathizing with Sam. Now, I can have Sam do just about anything and people will still feel sorry for him. Awesome. Thanks so much, Steve.

    Steve is one of the reasons I decided to post online. Why limit myself to the few people I know that would read it and offer feedback when I have the World Wide Web at my disposal? I think open-source writing could be big. Imagine the next Star Wars movie being a collection of great ideas from all the fanboys? I think it would be brilliant. It would need a head writer, director and producer to go through the crap and find the gems, but the possibilities would be amazing. Get on that Hollywood.

    I’ve changed the deadline to May 1st for a revised draft. I’m not sure how I should post it online since it will be introduced to existing pages. I’ll figure it out.

    Pages twenty-six through twenty-nine.

    I’m not finished with the following scene, but there is a lot to it. It’s been a hard one for me to write. I think this is my fourth rewrite of it already. I play a lot of poker and I know all the subtleties of it and I keep wanting to include that in the script. But that’s a big no-no. The more complex you make a script, the worse it becomes. You don’t want to include what a character is thinking or feeling, but what his actions are. You also don’t want to include what the screenwriter is trying to convey with exposition. You’re not writing a book. You only want to write action that the audience can see and dialogue. Everything else is unnecessary.

    (Pages 26-29)
    INT. CASINO

    Martin is sitting at a poker table with nine other POKER PLAYERS and a
    DEALER.

    The dealer deals two cards to everyone.

    PLAYER #3
    I fold.

    PLAYER #4 throws his cards into the muck.

    PLAYER #5
    Fold.

    PLAYER #6
    Make it forty dollars.

    DEALER
    Forty dollars to play.

    PLAYER #7 gives his cards back to the dealer.

    PLAYER #8 is getting a cocktail from the waitress.

    DEALER
    Sir, it’s forty dollars to stay in.

    PLAYER #8
    Oh, I’m sorry.

    He turns to his cards and looks down at them. He pushes his cards into the muck.

    PLAYER #9
    I call.

    DEALER
    We have one caller.

    Martin looks down at his cards and see two kings. He calculates before he acts.

    MARTIN
    I raise. Make it two-forty.

    DEALER
    Another raise. It’s now two hundred and forty dollars to stay in.

    PLAYER #1 folds.

    PLAYER #2 folds.

    Player #6 hesitates for several seconds before announcing…

    PLAYER #6
    I call.

    DEALER
    One caller.

    PLAYER #9
    How much is in the pot?

    DEALER
    I’m sorry sir, I’m not allowed to count it for you.

    PLAYER #9
    Two-forty, two-forty, four-eighty plus fifty-five is five-thirty. Eh, it’s almost three to one. I call.

    DEALER
    We have two callers.

    The Dealer scoops all the chips into one big pot. He burns a card and turns over three cards on the center of the table.

    King, king, ace.

    PLAYER #3
    Wow, what a flop.

    Again, Player #6 hesitates before he acts.

    PLAYER #6
    I bet three hundred and fifty.

    He stacks up the chips in front of him and pushes them forward.

    PLAYER #9
    That’s an easy fold for me.

    He mucks his cards.

    Martin plays with his chips as he calculates for several seconds.

    MARTIN
    I call.

    Martin counts his chips and pushes them forward.

    The Dealer collects all the chips and puts them into the pot. He burns a card and turns one to the center of the table.

    Two.

    Player #6 takes his time before he taps the table indicating a check.
    Martin takes his time as well.

    MARTIN
    I’m going to bet.

    Martin starts counting chips.

    DEALER
    Player has announced a raise.

    MARTIN
    Fourteen hundred dollars.

    DEALER
    Player has announced a raise of fourteen hundred dollars.

    Player #6 looks visibly shaken. He leans back into his chair and crosses his arms. He waits a couple of minutes before announcing…

    PLAYER #6
    I call.

    There’s a quiet murmur from the other players and everyone is leaning forward in their chairs.

    DEALER
    Player calls.

    Player #6 counts his money and puts them forward.

    The Dealer collects them and puts them into the pot.

    The Dealer burns a card and turns the river to the center of the table.

    Ace.

    There’s another collective moan from the table.

    PLAYER #3
    That’s unbelievable.

    Player #6 hesitates, but it’s shorter than the other times, before he announces…

    PLAYER #6
    I’m all in.

    Martin stands and quickly shouts…

    MARTIN
    I call!

    Player #6 turns over a pocket pair of aces.