Of #Hollywood, #Acting & The #Novel I’m Developing

Some thoughts.

‘Burn, Hollywood, Burn’ #COVID19

It’s going to suck.
Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelt Garner

Hollywood, we got a problem. It’s at least within the realm of possibility that not only will all entertainment production shut down soon because of a pandemic, but people will stop going to the movies for a solid year. If you work on the assumption that for about a year — until a vaccine is finally approved and mass produced — some fundimental assumptions about everyday life will be suspended then Hollywood as we know it is a Dead Man Walking.

By the time things go “back to normal,” we may not even have a traditional Hollywood anymore. “Immersive media” in the guise of VR and AR may pop out of the rubble and take over the entertainment world. But another thing to remember — when will the crisis reach such levels that there aren’t live studio audiences for late night talk shows? Or everyone on TV starts to wear a mask? The issue is if you see the coming pandemic in the United States as a process, not an event, a “new normal” will happen at some point where we move past the “event” stage into the “process” stage where everyday life begins to come back, albeit in a dramatically different form. It will be surreal, at first, but it will have to be done.

The whole thing is going to suck. But at some point The Powers That Be are going to encourage “normal” TV to come back for no other reason than to make the life of pandemic — where everyone has to stay inside — at least a bit more bearable. Remember, whatever the pandemic is called will be, will said in the same breath as the Civil War and World War 2. So, eventually, inevitably, we’ll figure out some way to go back to “normal” while we wait for it to end.

But one thing that will be interesting to look at will be the rise of Immersive Media. How fast will that happen? Telepresence will be a huge growth industry in the middle of a pandemic. It will be interesting to see how that will work out specifically.

I am curious what will happen to music. Will someone write a pop song that alludes to the effects of a pandemic? How would they pull it off? I’m tempted to write some doggerel. But I see writing song lyrics a huge waste of time when I have a novel to develop and write. But someone should start thinking about that.

In the end, even with a pandemic all around us, life will go on. People will have sex. Babies will be born. People will die.

Life will go on.

Why I Think The ‘Charlie’s Angels’ Reboot Flopped

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

Now, I went into Elizabeth Banks’ reboot of Charlie’s Angels pumped. I love the concept and thought it might be interesting. I lasted until just about the inciting incident then walked out. This says a lot more about me than it does the movie, however. But given how everyone is talking about what a flop the movie was and why, I thought I would put my 2 cents in.

The star of the movie was Kristen Stewart. But I found her extremely miscast. She tried to come off as a dumb-dumb, but it was off putting because we all know she’s not and she’s not that good an actress. I would cast her as a more dominate role. Lean into native strength as an actor and person. Don’t try to ignore that who she actually is. I am aware of the difficulties they had finding the other two actresses and it showed. The movie definitely needed better actresses. But given what it was meant to be — a feminist action-adventure romp — I’m willing to grade it on a curve.

But the moment when I knew I was outtie was the montage of young girls running around for no apparent reason. It made no sense. I guess it was meant to set the tone of the film, but it was at that moment that I realized this was NOT the movie for me. I felt the movie suffered from creeping Bookstmart-itis in the sense that it was so wrapped up in smelling the farts of its message that it was to the detriment of the overall story.

In passing, I would note that one problem with franchises like Charlie’s Angels is it has what I call the Scooby Doo Paradox. This is when your audience is adults who remember something fondly so you think what they want is an over-the-top comedy, when the story might actually be best served by playing it a bit more serious because the conceit is actually really strong and timeless. So, might have made this latest reboot of Charlie’s Angels a little bit more John Wick than it was. That would have been cool. And, remember, Hustlers is how you slip in a feminist message into your story in a way that gets people’s asses in the theatres. Hustlers was a well written movie with just enough T&A (especially J.Lo’s ass) that men went into it not realizing the movie is actually extremely girl-power in its message. Something similar could have been done with Charlie’s Angels.

Make the audience not bi-curious girls in high school, but maybe couples in their late 20s. Have a just enough sex in it to get the guys going — I really liked Kristen Stewart’s flirty butt cheek flash — but if you were more honest about what this story really was then I think you could have a much, much better movie on a number of different levels. If you poured Hustlers and John Wick into Charlie’s Angels, it would have been a hit.

V-Log: #Impeachment, #Writing A #Novel & Thoughts On Susan Orlean

by Shelton Bumgarner

This one is a fun one. Enjoy.

Of Seeing ‘Zombieland: Double Tap’ & Improving The Novel

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

I went to see the newest Zombieland today and was pleased. It was worth the price of admission. Definitely got the impression Emma Stone HATES Jesse Eisenberg. She’s a good actor, but she’s not that good.

Not really related, but has an update on the state of the novel.

Going through the process of seeing the movie that I came up with some really great scenes in the latter pages of the first half of the novel. These scenes are so good, in fact, that I had a momentary bout of existential creative angst. I started to think maybe it should be TWO books with the first book ending on a cliffhanger. But since then, I’ve thought better of it. I really like the idea of just writing one novel that’s really accessible and fun but actually has something of a deeper, darker meaning.

One issue I keep toying with is how much to ground the story in a specific year and how much I should just make it “now” and have it run as a scenario. I’ve long called the novel a political fairytale for woke Park Slope moms and there is something to be said for making it a gauzy story that is simply set in the modern era. I worry it will come off as dated if I make it specific to an exact time.

And, yet, given that it’s meant to be my own person indictment of the clusterfuck that is the Trump Era, there’s something to be said for setting in in a specific year of that clusterfuck. If people go into it knowing that it’s set in a specific year, then it won’t feel dated (I hope.) It will simply feel like a way to have catharsis about about the Trump Era which, hopefully, will have come crashing down by the time this novel is set for me to pitch it to an imprint. If it HASN’T come to and end by about August 2020 then, well, I’ll just roll with the punches. The moment it sank in that wasn’t going to be able to finish the novel in time for it come out in summer 2020 when people would be thinking about the presidential election, I became a lot less concerned about being rushed.

I’m well on track to finish this novel by August 2020, but it’s my impression there is a good six months of post-production after you actually sell a complete manuscript. Of course, it would be like winning the lottery if I actually was able to sell the damn thing at all. I’m not the greatest writer in the world, but I am a decent story teller.

One thing I’m a little uneasy about is how cinematic some of the cooler scenes are. I mean, does that mean I should just write a screenplay? I quickly push such thoughts aside, however. All of Michael Crichton’s books pretty much read like a movie treatment as it is. I think I can forgive myself if I come up with a scene or two that depends on you knowing a song well enough to have it playing in my mind as the scene unfolds.

Anyway, I continue to worry that Phoebe Waller-Bridge is going to steal a creative march on me. But that’s just being really paranoid. My story is uniquely American. It wallows in its Americanism. Though I definitely admire and gain inspiration from Waller-Bridge because of her creative courage. I’ve made some creative decisions on this novel which are potentially fucking huge risks for any number of reasons.

But watching Zombieland today, I took note of how the were able to give what an mainstream audience wants. It’s because of how entertaining and, well, good, Zombieland was that I am reminded of how much I fucking hated Booksmart. That movie insulted me with its contempt for middle-American values and its absolute need to cram it’s desire to be comfort food to a 17-year-old bi-curious girl who goes to like, fucking Hollywood High down my throat. Sometimes, you want shit to blow up, people fall in love in a traditional manner and to hate on hippies like was found in Zombieland.

I am quick to note, however, that I was definitely not the audience of Booksmart, so go see it! I guess if I was in the mood to see a movie like Booksmart, I would just watch Heathers again. Now THAT was a good movie. Also, I like political subtext. In these divided times, it’s nice to put your politics in your work on the sly as a treat to people who agree with you. That way people who don’t agree with you politically, who don’t have the same cultural touchstones, still get to have a good time.

Everybody having a good time reading my novel is a big deal for me. That’s why, yes, there are plot points that are pretty conspicuous, there’s at least a small chance a MAGA person will at least enjoy themselves should they hate read it because Don. Jr. won’t shut up about it.

I am going to stay humble. There’s just too much that can go wrong. But I refuse to make decisions on what I don’t know. I’ve gotten this far and the story continues to entertain me, the writer, so I keep going. I’m well on my way to wrapping up the first half of the novel pretty soonish. I just keep making the specifics of the novel better and better, often because I distract myself for a few hours by watching a movie.

We’ll see. It will be interesting to see if I manage to pull this off or if I wake up one day and see someone has completely stolen a creative march on me. But, again, make decisions on what you know — not what you don’t know.

V-Log: A Gentle Creative Suggestion For Phoebe Waller-Bridge

by Shelton Bumgarner

This is just a stray observation.

Review: Ad Astra

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner


Ad Astra is a good movie, not a great movie. The closest movie I can compare it to in spirit is Ex Machina. Both movies linger in the mind after you watch them. But Ex Machina is a far better movie.

I get the vision of the movie intended by this Brad Pitt vanity project. It’s supposed to be a melancholy rumination on the human condition and a man’s relationship with his distant father. Ok, I get it. And I get why they kept talking about aliens only for there to be no aliens.

And, yet, the movie is a little too subtle for its own good. It might benefit from the very thing didn’t want to have — aliens. I say this because the movie is obviously inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey. Though the more astute of you will notice an homage to the campy space classic Dark Star. (In Dark Star an astronaut rides a piece of his ship into a planet’s atmosphere like a surfboard. Pitt does something a little similar at one point.)

In a sense, I think the lack of aliens is kind of a cop-out. Much of the rest of the movie was serviceable adult-oriented entertainment. It wasn’t hackish at all. It’s just the whole thing could have been a whole lot more…profound. The whole thing was so slight, so subtle that it felt lacking.

I have to be a nerd and point out the producers of the movie apparently are completely oblivious to the difference in the gravity on the moon and Mars compared to earth. But you can’t have everything, I guess.

But I did honestly like the movie. It’s going to be a great on-air entertainment for people flying to Walla Walla.

V-Log: The State of My Novel & A Rant About The Perils Of Modern Storytelling

Some thoughts.

V-Log: Someone Reboot ‘Dark Star’

by Shelton Bumgarner

Some thoughts on a classic movie.

The Influence Of Mission: Impossible — Fallout On The #Scifi #Novel I’m #Writing

by Shelton Bumgarner

I’ve written — and talked — about this before, but it’s true: I think a lot about how Mission: Impossible — Fallout deals with major, macro political issues in an entertaining manner. Now, one thing I noticed about that movie is they don’t talk about Democrats or Republicans. There are some allusions, but nothing concrete.

The novel I’m writing, in that respect, is definitely different. I kind of wallow in name brand politics for a very specific reason — this novel is kind of my Atlas Shrugged for my own particular brand of globalist, liberal politics. It’s my own personal critique of the Trump Era…in its own particular manner.

To put another way, I’m definitely writing this novel and seeing how I can deal with the issues of the day in a metaphorical manner. It may not be the first draft, but by the second or third draft, I suspect that will be pretty fleshed out. But anyway, I’m really enjoying writing this first draft so far and one of the things I’m using as a guide is what I remember of Mission: Impossible — Fallout. It’s probably not going to be very obvious to anyone who read this first draft (not that anyone will) but I really did like that movie and I liked how it was a “woke” (to a certain extent) action adventure summer tent pole movie.

That’s my ultimate goal for this tale I’m writing — that it would be a very accessible, rip-roaring yarn that when you put it down, the first thing you’re going to think is 1) what happens next 2) this should be a movie.

Regardless, I probably should be working on the novel right now instead of writing about writing a novel.