November 7, 2008
Got a haircut from Bev this morning. Kind of cold out, but we used her patio chair anyway. Talked about our old neighbor "Mad Dog" J.D. Nelson who moved to Utah earlier this year. I saw my neighbor Joe Yaeger on the road yesterday and stopped to ask him about coming over to start the John Deere. He half-jokingly said, "Better call J.D. and see if he'll come down to help."
So I did. Called him last night and offered J.D. a plane ticket to come down and help us start the tractor. He seemed touched but declined. When I told him my dad was bugging me (from heaven) about getting "Mad Dog" to help me start the family tractor, J.D. quipped, "I may see your dad before I see you."
When I mentioned this to Bev, she joked, "Oh, J.D. he's always dyin'."
Paul Hutton and I received a blunt critique from a well known Hollywood screenwriter this morning. He doesn't want his name mentioned but his basic take on our chances with Mickey Free being a feature length movie are these:
• No bankable star will sign up to be in a movie that is about fighting Native Americans.
• The heads in the sack scene is too harsh for Hollywood.
• The main characters are not very likable.
• The female lead, Beauty, gets her nose cut, so no bankable female star will take the role.
• The title is too weak since Mickey Free is not well known enough.
Other than that, he thought we were in good shape. Ha.
Actually, these are all aspects of the story we have debated since the beginning, but we went ahead anyway, because:
• The characters are true to their times.
• Heads in a sack happened in the Apache wars and it still happens in Iraq and Afghanistan, so what's the big shock? In fact, that's all the more reason to portray it.
• Mickey Free may not be the best title, but it certainly is different from any other Western in a long time.
• And The Top Secret Writer nailed it when he responded to our mutual friend: "I really see this as a post-modern/post-racial western where we do not pander to 1960s sensibilities. Its the first Obama Era western!"
Ha. It's true. Mickey Free and Obama have so much in common (besides delivering John McCain's head in a sack).
I'm working on more studies for El Kid. Here's a dusty vignette of a bandido I like very much:
And here's a study of El Kid riding across a snow-capped landscape, searching for—what else?—homemade tamales!
This is inspired by a New Mexico landscape painted by Victor Higgins, one of the Taos Seven. Victor did great snow scenes.
"The worst thing you can do to a filmmaker is to walk out of their film and go, 'That was a nice movie'. But if you can cause people to walk out and then argue about the film on the sidewalk... I think we're all seeking dissension, and we love to affect an audience."
—Paul Haggis, the director of Crash and The Valley of Elah
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