Story of a Screenplay

These are the notes I took back around 1981 for improving a script I was hired to analyze called Static One. It was a movie script about people being turned into assassins against their will, written by George Bamber – a successful convention display company owner.

He made those big wooden and cardboard custom booths with all the color and fonts and graphics your see at trade shows.His company was Blue Thumb. He had a dream of being a writer and producing a script of his own, saw my resume, which included a feature length film I had directed in 1979, and hired me to help polish up his script.

Alas, the story, though representing a lot of work and a great deal of passion, had so many holes I had to report to him that I didn’t think it could be made. And this, even in the face of him being inclined to have me direct. Had to be honest.

But, as luck would have it, at that time I knew a fellow who had a much better written family script called “Brothers of the Wilderness.” I brought it to George and he said he would be willing to produce that one instead.

And so, we began pre-production on a movie that would end up being filmed over a 24 day schedule in the hills around Big Bear, California.We all lived in the same rented cabin for that month, cast and crew.

During that time, it snowed partway through so we had to re-write to accommodate. The writer got pissed at me for wanted to rewrite another scene, jumped over the couch and grabbed me by the throat trying to choke me. I didn’t respond and he eventually realized how idiotic he looked, let go, and the next morning we were all back in production.

Many more stories to tell about that, but for now I want to get back to George Bamber. We got the film completed, but it was only released to video. Not sure I even have a copy any longer. The budget was $50,000 – twice what my first movie cost.

But, at the same time George was paying those bills, his company hit some hard times, and eventually it folded, even though he had dozens of employees and a big building. I really hope t wasn’t the costs of our production that scuttled it.

Last I heard, back in the 1990s, he had become a motivational speaker and was supporting himself with gigs doing that. And as for the writer, well I gave him a wide berth and lost track of him shortly after completing the editing.

Wow – so much spews forth from just a few papers on top of a stack in a box in a stack of many stacks of boxes. So many stories – so little time.

Hope I someday get the chance to tell you about the wild ride into town crammed in a Volkswagen with no chains in order to get snow equipped, or my friend Tom (our soundman on this production) tuning out with his headphones each night to listen to the score from Das Boot, or the white knuckle ride I had one weekend driving up through dense fog on the winding mountain roads from having spend Saturday and Sunday with my family in Burbank.

No time for details now, however. Back to the boxes…