I’m always writing something! Right now I am working with Tommy Cook on the amazing thrill-ride screenplay “Scream Machine” featuring an incredible roller coaster and lots of mayhem!
Writing this text for this very website page reminds me how difficult it can be to write. I mean, really, how can I be stuck staring at a blinking cursor when the topic at hand is the writer in me? Tis a deep and probing query that writers ask… So here goes:
I have been writing plays or dramas or comedies or comic strips or radio plays or feature film and television pilot scripts or blogs since I was about 8 years old. That’s my earliest recollection of sitting down and typing out a very slender story based on the TV show The Wild, Wild, West. I remember my dad and I recorded the script as a radio play in the basement on a Realistic brand reel-to-reel tape machine. Of course both the script and the recording are lost to the vestiges of time, but I remember clearly the feeling of fulfillment at having created something that began only in my mind. In fact, I felt powerful.
I wrote the comic strips and books that I drew. I honed my storytelling skill on Speech Trek, my high school satire of my speech communications class set in the Star Trek universe; I wrote speeches for the Voice of Democracy program that the VFW sponsored each year, winning my local district once; I wrote radio dramas that my pal Rich Bitting and I performed on cassette tape, one year winning a local NPR station contest for the best radio play; and I wrote and delivered, along with Rich, the high school news report on our local station WISL, calling it The Rich & Mike Show. And all the while, never did I consider myself a writer. But writing was always the cornerstone of my creative heart.
In the Army I wrote a play, began a novel, and a few comedy sketches for our local theater productions. I co-wrote a joyously silly and inappropriate comedy series called Anytown USA with Scott Snyder. We voiced all the male characters and had a blast! Honestly, it still makes me laugh.
My favorite writing piece from this era was when I was given free reign to create a five-minute skit celebrating the closure of U.S. Army Field Station Okinawa in 1985 after 40 years in operation. The spoof took place in the office of the post commander Colonel Kressler. I played the colonel as one by one, a major, a captain and a lieutenant arrived to troubleshoot a desk lamp that would not work. The punch line was when the company clerk entered to deliver papers and on her way out stopped and plugged the lamp in. Officers and enlisted personnel seemed to enjoy the skit.
While in college I wrote three radio plays for a series that I also directed over WPSU-FM called The University Radio Theater. If not great radio drama, it was great fun doing it. I also wrote the lyrics to incredibly rude (and funny) songs for the two-man band known as The Pukes. Sad to say, I was one of the two men… Following public performances of Kimchi Squat and Soap Dropper, demand for my music writing career mercifully flat lined.
After the college I completed the first draft of the novel (but never the second draft), a short play, and several short stories. One of the short stories, The Last Shot, was published in the October 2006 issue of The Writers Post Journal.
The bulk of my writing from the mid-1990s onward has been feature film and television pilot scripts, with an occasional short film script thrown in the mix. Out of all of this came my screenplay Daybreak, my first film as director and producer, which was based on my own short story The Dark Wish. Some short films came close to fruition, such as L.A. Bound & Gagged, Disturbing Echoes, and Man of His Word. But to date, only Daybreak made it through the money-raising gauntlet.
If fact, it was the Daybreak adventure that inspired my first published book: Long Night’s Journey Into Daybreak: 10 Things You Need to Know Before You Make Your First Feature Film , published in 2009. It earned praise from the Mid-West Book Review: “With much to inspire readers to roll with the punches as they pursue their dreams, the practical and motivational wisdom blends together well. Long Night’s Journey into Daybreak is a fine pick for any aspiring filmmaker.”
I’ve also had some rewarding collaborations as well. Paul Clemens and I crafted the semi-autobiographical comedy screenplay Crazy Days about my Army days on Okinawa, and most recently Tommy Cook and I banded together to create the script for the proposed 3-D thriller Scream Machine, which is currently making the rounds, as we like to say.
Additionally, I had the honor of working with radio legend Norman Corwin on his final book, Memos to a New Millennium: The Final Radio Plays of Norman Corwin , published by BearManor Media shortly after his death in 2011 at age 101. I edited the book, wrote the introduction, and provided a commentary following each of the plays appearing in the volume. William Shatner graciously provided the book’s foreword.
Finally, I have been researching and writing versions of the script for what will be my next film, a documentary on the history and power of radio in America. It’s a darker film than you think. Stay tuned for HEARING VOICES: How Radio Changed America & America Changed Radio!