November 17, 2004

Scenes from "The Golden Calf"

For any of you who are interested--and I know there are thousands of you out there--here’s a link to the scenes that were filmed for my first novel.

The Golden Calf

The director filmed them as part of the IFP program, which probably stands for something. He was excited about the project and wanted to continue with it, but I haven’t heard from him in a year. Such is life. He’s busy filming videos for music I’ve never heard of and commercials. He got a very cool cast together. The woman from Cassavetes’ "Shadows" as the mother--one of those movies I’d like to own and watch over and over again. Especially good is Kevin Corrigan as Ray, the main character. He’s sort of an indie God from parts in movies like "Down and Out in Beverly Hills," "Walking and Talking" and "Goodfellas." He’s real good in all of them and real good in this.

It was a very strange experience seeing my dialogue come to life. I developed a new appreciation for what actors do. Actually, they basically got every line wrong from what I had imagined, but it didn’t matter because the actors breathed a new kind of life into the screenplay--I adapted the novel myself. I’d only had actors read something I’d written once before: a sit-down reading of a play I’d written about prison. It’s a sometimes aggravating process hearing your words read out loud, sometimes better, sometimes worse. It is amazing how drastically the meaning can change by just putting a different accent on a word here or there. There was a discussion about the reading of the play afterwards with some of the actors. Their feeling was the one actor who I thought had got it right had delivered the worst performance. Shows what little I know.

I guess an actor’s job is to distort what’s on the page in a certain way. I don’t say that as a criticism. It really showed me how skilled an artform acting can be--a performance is like real-time interpretation. Acting is much more subtle than I’d given it credit. I’ve spent a lot of time hating actors in my life for seeming kind of self-sycophantic. I am one who likes to hide so I resent those who like to exhibit themselves. Everybody seems to be acting all the time, so professional acting seems redundant. But acting is a kind of music: like a band covering a song in their own style, rather than playing it exactly the same way. Every classical music piece is played slightly differently by each musician even though the notes are the same. The idea is to bring the actor’s mind to the part rather than represent exactly what’s on the page. Maybe this is obvious, but I only got it when I saw something I had written performed. All in all, a cool experience.


darling maggot said...

what's going on here, because i think i missed something--is your novel being adapted for the big screen? are you adapting it yourself?

and henry? why are you calling yourself ennui? it's the elections, isn't it?

it's the goddamn fucking elections.

Henry Baum said...

Thanks for the concern. It probably is the motherfucking elections, but I've suffered from ennui before. I've also gone by ornery and horny.

I should have made clear that only three scenes were filmed via the IFP director's program. The director tried shopping the scenes around to producers but I don't know how far he got with it. This is the closest I'm probably gonna get to the big screen, which is cool, but it doesn't pay anything.

darling maggot said...

a new director does need something for a reel, i suppose. one of the ways writers and directors are getting noticed is by financing or shooting a short scene or two, so they have a demo to show producers. or put together a trailer. query letters are pointless and you have to cast a wide net.

cheers to you having at least some sort of forward motion with this, and here's to your work making it to the big screen. when it does, the money is anything but small.

as a screenwriter, i agree with what you've said about actors and what they bring to the plate when they translate what's on the page into real time.

Heather said...

Well, this is very cool! The excerpts for The Golden Calf are great!

xo. war. said...

you are right. everyone acts. i'm putting on an act right now. to seem smarter than i am. maybe because you won't really like who i am. maybe you just think i'm a stalker.

xo. war.

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