Monday, November 24, 2008

Family Matters

Spider is celebrating his 60th cycle-around-the-sun today. Actually we’ve been celebrating for months, at any excuse. We’ve had parties in NY, MA, at home on Bowen Island, and now on-line. He says he doesn’t feel a day over 59.

In addition to our advancing ages, family news includes a story of extreme youth. Like Mike Callahan says, "Shared joy is increased." So I’d like to share the joyous news that our daughter, Terri Luanna and her husband, Heron, are pregnant! Spider and I are overjoyed, and looking forward to joining the ranks of Grandparenthood. Here’s the first sonogram of the little one, making baby Nameless even more real to us. Terri’s due date is May 11th. We plan on being in NY for the big event.

All of this happiness has made me reminisce about Terri Luanna’s childhood. Lots of great memories. When Terri and Heron got married, Spider and I posted a selection of photos with a poem to reflect where we were and what we were doing at the age she was on her wedding day. I’d like to share them with you.

Here’s another inspired reminiscence written by Spider in his Online Diary to Terri Luanna on her 28th birthday, including Terri’s response.

As for the Stardance project, Jim and I continue our efforts. He’s been busy re-designing the website to reflect our new direction. I’ve been working on updating the story. Jim will be here in January to work with me on the screenplay.

This weekend I’ll be off to Green Gulch Farm Zen Center, just north of San Francisco for the 7-day Rohatsu sesshin with Tenshin Reb Anderson Roshi. At the end of his life Buddha said, "Life is very short; please investigate it closely." Sesshins are traditional Soto Zen meditation retreats that include formal zendo meals, Dharma talks, sitting and walking meditation – offering practioners like me the opportunity for true investigation and to “wake up from our dream and help our world.” This is useful even when the dream you’re waking up from is a happy one, like the past few months have been.

Lastly, Happy Thanksgiving to all my American family and friends. Heaven knows all of America (and the world) have much to be thankful for this election year.

Many bows,

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A New Direction

When I originally approached Jeanne about creating an IMAX (or Giant Screen) version of Stardance, my strategy had to do with expanding on her short-film vision - in a kind of parallel track. Traditionally, short films don't really have markets - and with something as ambitious as Stardance, the budget would require SOME kind of market to justify it. Large format (up to this very moment, as you have read in Jeanne's recent posts) seemed a viable venue that created a market for shorter pieces - and though large format films aren't traditional big moneymakers, they nonetheless have financing opportunities beyond the traditional investor/producer relationship, be they grants or sponsorships. Sounds good, and even with the change in the industry it would still be a valid choice.

But with the giant screen choice there come limitations. The main limitation being that we have to take the TEETH out of the original award winning story to make it fit this semi-educational and agenda filled entertainment format. That's a shame, because Stardance is such a wonderful and powerful story with real conflict and heartbreak, hope and transcendence. Our newly derived story is filled with hope and transcendence, but like so many large format films the story really serves as a vehicle to get to the cool parts, the giant screen set-pieces that give the visceral thrill of immersion. But our giant-screen story doesn't really immerse the viewer in the drama - and since we've been collaborating on this new story my main cry has been "Where's The Conflict?"

The answer to this ancient question bandied about by aspiring and veteran screenwriters alike, was staring us in the face the whole time. Forget the "Stardance Experience" in IMAX, and make Stardance as a feature. The original story that caught the hearts and minds of so many, once updated beyond its prescient view from the mid 70s, has everything we need. And so much of what we have discussed and written together for this project WILL apply.

Jeanne and I are beginning the task of adapting the original story for the screen. Our primrose path has just taken a turn into the woods, and we have promises to keep (and miles to go before we sleep.)

Thank you all.