Tonight I had dinner with Randall Frakas, longtime writer for James Cameron movies. He co-wrote two of the biggest grossing movies in history, Avatar and The Titanic and many more, plus one of my all-time favorites, “True Lies” with Arnold and Jamie Lee Curtis. We got in touch through my friend Brittney Andreeson’s mom Wendy (from Kelowna). She told him about my screenplay, “Noel’s Ark” and Randall knew that this was my first movie, and he contacted me and offered assistance in any way that he could, and also to welcome me to the film industry.
We met at a restaurant in Santa Monica and literally got kicked out at 11pm. We just talked and talked all night. It was unreal how instantly it felt like we knew each other. He had so many awesome stories, about how in True Lies there actually was a concurrent story line where Arnold uses his spy capabilities to snoop not only on his wife, but also on his 12 year old daughter… how he wanted Linda Hamilton to be Connor’s mom in Terminator, how Linda and James Cameron later got married… what it was like on the awards night when Terminator won all of those awards.
He asked me about “Noel’s Ark” and I told him how the idea came about, how the first draft was done in 18 days, how I had to learn how to use screenwriting software, how I got a producer involved, how I got a script agent within two days of his getting it, and how Ori from Original Films wants to meet with me.
I went through Noel’s Ark, and man, seeing him lean forward, eagerly wanting to hear more about what I did, where I turned flipped things around, the visual devices, etc. he got so excited. And he said, “well now I know what all of the excitement is about.” Then he took his two pointing fingers and gestured how my finger was pointing in one way, his was in the same direction, and then he united them saying that this is what he sees us doing. Just like him and James Cameron.
OK so let’s review. I’m sitting with the man who has written the biggest grossing films in the history of Hollywood. He said he wants to work with me on my second and third screenplays; which I am currently writing. It’s not like I am forcing myself to write, these ideas are bursting in my head making way down to my outlines. And I am actually more excited about my second film than the first because it is so radically different and there are so many ways I can go with it, so many statements I can make, so many shocking cinematic devices.
I am right now in the “incubation” part of my stories where I don’t want to ‘present’ for comments yet because the outline is not yet fully formed. And Randall will be busy for two weeks as well, but after that, he wants to sit down with me and help me with the second one. Not as a co-writer, but more as a guide. Crazy. I mean what a night. I asked him what he thought of Leonardo in the film, if James Cameron would be a good director for my film (he’s fully committed to the next two Avatar sequels, so no). We talked about Harvey Weinstein, The Coen brothers, Arnold, how he met James in college, where James was leaning towards being a sculptor, etc.
But above all of that, I never ever got the feeling he was name dropping or bragging in any way. Most of it was like, me asking questions like, “So when you wrote Titanic, how much of it wound up the way you thought?”.
I can now say that I am truly friends with Randall. I seriously seriously like him, his mind, his need (like mine) to help people have an awareness and discussion about topics they might not be aware of, while entertaining them.
This morning I had a breakfast meeting with my entertainment attorney/executive producer Shelley. It lasted three hours and was so crazy fantastic. We get along so well. I haven’t seen her since 2009 when she worked on the liability clearance on my book published by BenBella. She always said that she enjoyed my writing, and if I ever came up with anything new to let her know. After talking about business a while, she asked me what new I had cooking… and I told her about “Porcelain”, my new movie. Holy smokes was that awesome. She has so much in common with my main character that she was able to give me a ton of feedback. So much about her I didn’t know came up. She was a model, but didn’t like it because of how people would talk to her as if she was dumb. Well Shelley is not dumb. She was valedictorian and graduated from Harvard Law. She told me the path of her career that brought her to being a highly respected Hollywood entertainment attorney-turned producer. What I am most excited about is working on the next two films.
I was not able to meet Ori from Original Films this trip because he is buried in his new movie, “Passengers” starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence. He wanted to meet next week, but I will be in Portland with Sony for three days, so we are scheduled for the week of the 19th.
Someone asked me what impact this new career opening has had on my life. I explain that it is between 17% and 150%. It’s 17% because the other 83% of my life is beautiful (family, friends, business) and 17% is Hollywood. Until I get a phone call from the 310 area code. Then a five alarm fire goes off and my mind goes batshit.