Brad Lichtenstein’s blog

Behind the scenes of What We Got: DJ Spooky’s Journey to the Commons

Archive for July 2009

Writing Retreat 2 began today

leave a comment »

My kind wife who understands the need to “get in the head” to do creative work gave me the weekend to work on the script again. It’s always tough to get there. I’ve been in the head for a good 4 hours now. I’ve eliminated a number of scenes, which is good. This film can’t do everything – a challenge given how huge the topic of the commons is. I figured out a scene that frames the commons argument for net neutrality in the context of a brief history of the internet. It’s a mashup of samples that tell the story. The mashup viewers see on screen will come off as created by DJ Spooky giving him a very active, interventionist scene. I think it will be the only fast-paced, highly edited mashup scene in the movie, actually. Interesting that I thought the entire film would work that way when I first started out. Anyway, tomorrow is for beginning the writing through of the scenes in acts 3 and 4. Every scene is in some state of done or undone, depending on your perspective.

Advertisements

Written by Brad Lichtenstein

July 17, 2009 at 8:47 pm

Day 4 of writing retreat

leave a comment »

Day 4 was fab.  Finally broke through the loss of the Fiji scene (I know, what’s the big deal?) and wrote all the way through Act 2.  I feel the argument of the film and the narrative are joining nicely.  This film won’t be for everyone, but frankly, who cares about that, now?  I think its going to be good, and I trust some others will, too.  I wrote Samir’s final speech, a unity of the natural commons and created commons, and the joy of a bright, somewhat unknown future guided by the commons-esque notion of a gift (a la Lewis Hyde).  Knowing more about the end informs the rest of the script.  I also feel I have a handle on the documentary/fiction blend within scenes.  The whole is something that needs to be examined more closely, but I’m not ready for that, yet.  I did figure out that a scene Jason wrote that takes place in a great commons – an AA meeting – is going to be near the end and in a way deal with Samir’s addiction to repeating old mistakes.  In the room are archetypes of all kinds of people representing “recovering” institutions that want to steer a new path in the bold “share economy” of the future and not be doomed to repeat past mistakes.  I know that sounds rather vague or silly or incomplete — so, you’ll just have to read it.  I’ll post a draft of the script in a month or so, once its been revised and a few trusted souls feel it is ready for your feedback.  Just an hour or so before I leave to rejoin my family “up north” (as they say here in Wisconsin).  My goal:  get the new outline up on the white board so that I can attack acts 3 and 4 next week.  Act 5 (the final act) is in pretty good shape.

I love my notecards and white board.

I love my notecards and white board.

Day 3 of writing retreat

with one comment

This was a frustrating day.  For a long time I thought that there was a delicious irony in Fiji exporting their boutique bottled product while a good portion of their own population wanted access to clean water.  For a long, long time that scene has been in the script.  But I realized that Fiji’s problem with access to clean water is not only, or even primarily, the result of privatization and export of their water supply.  It probably has more to do with bad government than anything else.  Thus, it doesn’t fit my needs at this point in the script.  What I need is a case in which water is privatized, resulting in restricted or no access for people.  I wanted an example of water being treated as a commodity rather than a commons, or basic right.  And examples abound.  But it took the entire day to come to terms with this change, and then to read and research the alternatives.  So, the train was stuck in the station for most of the day.  As I sat, frustrated, I found Fiji’s PR person and follwed him on Twitter.  His name is Rob Six, and his Twitter handle is @RobSix.  Follow him.  He seems like a good guy, if a little enthusiastic about bottled water — which is still a global problem, by the way.  More later…..photo

Day 2 of writing retreat

with one comment

I returned to the studio on Tuesday after a break on Monday for obligations like screening scenes for the Hmong film my students are making and a quick shoot in Janesville for a new film. It was a very good day. I finished structuring with notecards, moving on if there was a gap that I couldn’t solve at this level. Then I dove into the rearranging and writing on Act 1. Jason’s script v.4 spent 26 pages in mostly live-action with actors until the crazy DJ Spooky effects start to whisk Samir off into a tumble of a magical journey to discover “the commons.” My focus was to reduce that amount of live action drastically both to avoid too much of the directing of actors, something I’ve barely ever done, and to get on with the journey as quickly as possible. Now the journey more or less starts on page 15. I’ll be able to reduce that even more on a second pass. I’ve also decided that the journey progresses from almost normal but strange to really wacky. In that light, I’m working on a scene in which Samir is on a plane to Fiji (where there is a bottled water documentary scene). While flying, a Michael Crichton book “talks” to Samir about the privatization of genetic material. Crichton was a critic of such privatization, and his last published book, Next, is about the issue (in part). Anyway, I’m on to day 3, now. Fun, fun, fun……

And, because these things matter: I FINALLY got a male/male mini-stereo cable so that my super sweet Audio-Technics no-noise headphones will work. My last cable was cutting in and out.

Good headphones make for good work

Good headphones make for good work