Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

Tetris Movie in Works?

September 30th, 2014
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UPDATED OCT. 3: The public relations contact for Tetris got back to me after I email Henk Rogers, and has confirmed the details in the linked article are true. So the Tetris movie is for real!

I was going to post a program alert about the new Career Changers TV episode that will premiere Thurs., Oct. 2 at 7:30 PM on Channel 12/high def 1012 (a.k.a "OC16") but I just saw a movie biz news item that says the Tetris game is being turned into a live action feature film. According to this article, "The film is being developed by Threshold Entertainment, best known to gaming crossover fans as the studio behind the 1995 Mortal Kombat movie. That film, which grossed $70 million, was one of the first to take a video game license to the silver screen..."

Followers of my show may recall we featured Henk Rogers in a couple of segments that told how he got the worldwide rights to Tetris, and about his interest in things like Burning Man. Click here for Part 1 and Part 2. Fascinating guy! I just sent him an email to ask if the Tetris movie deal is for real, and if he had a hand in negotiating the film rights. It's supposed to be a big sci-fi epic. While I'm happy for Henk, it's another sign that Hollywood seems to be out of original ideas for films that might actually appeal to adults with functioning brains.

Speaking of which, my Industry Insider Top 10 finalist script wasn't chosen as the winner... so no all expenses paid trip to L.A. for me to meet with A List screenwriter Sheldon Turner, who provided the premise for the contest, and the industry execs affiliated with that competition. Sigh. I was bummed, but felt my screenplay was one of the better things I've written. So I submitted it to the Black List, which was started by an agent who informally asked other agents and movie execs what their favorite scripts were that year. It became a big thing to have a script on the BL. Many of those BL scripts got produced and became hits with critics and the box office. For writers who weren't on the A List or still waiting for their breakthrough sale, getting on the BL could be a tremendous boost to their careers.

The creator of the BL, Franklin Leonard, began a commercial version to rate unproduced scripts from screenwriters like myself, who might be seeking representation or hoping for an outright sale to professionals who have access to the posted screenplays. The paid BL readers who evaluate the scripts for $50 a pop, rate each submission on a scale of 1-10 in different categories that agents/producers care about. Anything over an "8" is deemed worth considering and represents the top 5 percent. Thousands of scripts have been rated over the past couple of years since it began. In effect, BL acts as a filter for busy movie execs who rely on professional readers (and certain contests) to separate the crap from the diamonds in the rough.

Anyhow, the script I wrote for the Industry Insider contest scored an ''8"... which puts me on the hot list for recommended screenplays in Hollywood. It's called BLOOD MOON, and is based on the "inugami" curse -- kind of like a Japanese version of the werewolf legend -- which I first read about in the late Glen Grant's "Obake" collection of local ghost stories.

As fate would have it, I got to know Glen's protege -- Lopaka Kapanui -- who continues to uphold his mentor's legacy by retelling stories he first heard while working as an assistant to him. Lopaka finally got the rights to use the "Chicken Skin" name for his own ghost tours, and has some special events he'll be doing for the month of October. You can here more about that, plus his recent marriage to Tanya, by going to the CCTV YouTube Channel where we've posted segments from the new episode. Strange how it all comes round, huh?

Healing Hands for Arthritis Day at Massage Envy

September 10th, 2014
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National Sponsors - Arthritis Foundation

On Weds., Sept. 17 from 8AM until they close at 10PM, Massage Envy Hawaii in Kaneohe and Pearl Highlands will donate $10 from every appointment to Arthritis Foundation Hawaii. Last year, the national Massage Envy franchises raised over a million dollars, according to Nate McFarland, co-owner of the local spas. We featured Nate and his business partner, Lari Jarvis, on my Career Changers TV show recently and he mentioned they were planning to expand to Kapolei in the near future. (Click here to see that segment.)

Well, they've signed the Kapolei lease and Nate says they plan on opening early next year in January or February 2015. It will be their largest spa to date with 14 rooms, plus a "Quiet Room" for relaxation, and will be employing about 20 more licensed massage therapists -- which is why we did a story on them in the first place. One of my show's sponsors is Remington College, and many graduates from their Honolulu massage therapy program were hired to open the first two Massage Envy locations on Oahu. (Here's the Massage Envy testimonial piece about Remington.)

If you watch the videos, you'll see that Nate and Lari have a real passion for what they're doing even though neither of them had any background in the highly competitive massage spa business. Yet in their very first year, the Pearl spa was the fastest growing Massage Envy franchise ever -- and there are over 900 of them throughout the country. But Nate says they will take their time before adding more spas on Oahu or the Neighbor Islands because he wants to do it right. That means making sure their employees also reap the benefits from their success.

But when he called, it wasn't to talk about the Kapolei news or how well their business was doing. He just wanted people to know about Healing Hands for Arthritis Day, and hopes they can totally book up the Kaneohe and Pearl Highlands spas to raise money for this worthy charity event. You can visit their website to find out more about Massage Envy hours and rates.

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More 'Bows Woes

On an unrelated note, my wife and I suffered through a terrible first half of football at last week's UH loss to Oregon State. Although special teams and the defense made the final score much closer, the offensive woes left us wondering if the current starting quarterback and receivers can get the job done. We knew Joey Iosefa could carry the load for short yards on running plays... and then he got injured, taking out the most effective part of the offense so far this season.

Here's the thing I don't get: why was Iosefa even on the field for that fourth and long play? He's not the type of back that catches passes down field or is expected to be a breakaway threat, which is generally what you want in passing situations. So Woolsey winds up dumping a short pass to him that had virtually no chance of picking up enough yards for a first down, and they lose Iosefa for at least 4 to 6 weeks. Sure, freak injuries can happen on any play or even in practice. But it was another instance that makes you question what the coaches are thinking and how they use their personnel.

I had a bad feeling about that game the moment I saw the team come out in those funeral black uniforms. Yes, when June first turned the Rainbows into the "H" Warriors, the tough guy all-black look was in vogue. But it's passe. Oregon's flashy uniforms showed that teams can wear any color if they play like they own it. This UH team hasn't really created their own identity yet. The closest they've come under Coach Chow was when they wore the retro Bows uniforms with the brighter shade of green, and displayed some of that old school grit longtime fans were used to seeing back in the day.

One thing I wish wasn't old school though is the halftime UH marching band show. Really, tributes to Elvis in the year 2014? Sigh.

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This month's Career Changers TV episode features inspirational stories about Seed Restaurant in Kaimuki, along with segments about the Hawaii Small Business Fair and Cynthia Yamasaki, a leadership and life coach. You can find daily viewing times at www.CareerChangers.TV or watch segments from past and current shows on the CCTV YouTube Channel, which now has over 600,000 views. If you'd like to advertise on our show, drop me an email or give me a call at (808) 262-5073!

Seeds of Hope

September 3rd, 2014
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PROGRAM ALERT: The new September episode of Career Changers TV premieres Thurs., 7:30 PM on OC16 (channel 12/high def 1012). For daily viewing times, please visit www.CareerChangers.TV. You can also watch segments from past and current shows on the CCTV YouTube Channel, which now has over half a million views!

August was crazy busy for me so I didn't have time to weigh in on the elections (no surprise Neil got trounced -- I've written in this blog that right after he got elected, he and his "team" promptly alienated supporters by ignoring them), Kawainui Marsh plans (I live next to the marsh and can tell you the same objections being raised now were raised over 10 years ago by residents -- and ignored by the bureaucrats who get paid to do these pie-in-the-sky fantasy park plans), or UH athletics/football problems (again, same old obstacles ignored by the State Legislature and public at large).

And yet, my latest show is about people who are doing positive things without government help or involvement! What started as a short feel-good piece on Seed Restaurant in Kaimuki, near Big City Diner, grew into something much bigger once I started talking to the couple behind the venture. I was a bit leery when I first read that it was affiliated with a religious ministry because I consider myself an agnostic and have issues with organized religions in general. However, Jordan and Sonya Seng, the couple behind Seed and Bluewater Mission in Palama Settlement are... well, different than what you might expect. They met at Stanford University. His background was in academia -- he wound up at Harvard, writing papers on nuclear proliferation/WMDs and warned about meddling in the Middle East back in 2001 before we invaded Iraq (his analysis was quite prescient). She studied music, sang professionally  (Jordan taught himself to play instruments so he could back her up) and acted in commercials, TV shows, musical theater productions. Jordan's stories about growing up on the run with his fugitive father is pretty incredible too.

None of that stuff is in the two-parter we're running this month. I'm saving their personal back story for a future show because I want people to hear why they started Seed Restaurant and understand that this is how change happens. They had no experience whatsoever in the restaurant biz. But they were trying to help the homeless, survivors of domestic abuse, sex trafficking and prostitution, ex cons... people who have largely been left to fend for themselves without the tools or resources to rebuild their lives. And here they are half a year later, with a thriving restaurant that sticks to their core principles of "justice." They are accomplishing more with far less money than city, state and federal agencies have spent on countless studies and pilot programs. Yes, it's on a small scale -- but that's how you tackle big problems: one person, one step at a time. I love what they're doing. Check out my show, and I think you'll be impressed too. Maybe even moved, like I was.

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Speaking of tackling, I have to get in some last licks about the UH home opener against Washington. Months ago when it was announced season tickets were at an all-time low, I used that opportunity to upgrade our seats at a decent price. We've been there at Aloha Stadium, rain or shine, win or lose, and stuck with them through the tough times, which made the winning seasons even more special. When Ben Jay commented that football might be dropped, I knew he was talking about a hypothetical scenario set in the future -- not something imminent. But I hoped it would light a fire and make people realize you can't take things for granted. Sure enough, there was a much bigger crowd for the first game than was projected. And the stadium management blew it.

My wife and I got there around 2 PM for the 4:30 PM kick-off and we could already see the parking lots were nearly full. Traffic was backing up around the stadium. Hundreds of people waited hours to get into the lot, then waited in lines for tickets, or gave up and went home. Not a great way to entice fans to come out to future games. Inside the stadium, it was obvious the management expected the dire predictions of a small crowd. There were fewer concession stands open than we've ever seen at a UH football game, including during the Von Appen Era.

This is what negativity and pessimism does. It creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. The team is expected to be bad, so people won't come, so we'll plan on them not coming, and then when they come, we won't be ready to handle the crowd, so they'll have a bad experience... and then the future crowds will meet their initial low projections. Sheesh.

My one gripe about the UH effort on the field was a moment of indecision by the coaching staff during the first half of a tight game: fourth and one inside the Red Zone. The Bows had Washington on their heels. Joey Iosefa was plowing over people. We had already scored twice on the Huskies defense. Now, if this was Navy or Georgia Tech, which runs triple option, they don't hesitate. They line up with the QB under center. Sometimes they snap it quick. Other times they try to draw the defense offsides to get a "free" first down. If the defense doesn't bite on the hard count, they'll call a time-out or take a delay of game penalty, then kick the field goal.

So why didn't we at least try to draw Washington offside BEFORE calling the time out, instead of running a trick play AFTER the Huskies had a chance to regroup? That's also what I don't like about the shotgun in short yardage situations. It literally limits your options on running plays and takes away the QB sneak. Heck, even back when I played high school football, the quarterback and center always had an "automatic" tap on the butt play to snap the ball if there wasn't a defensive lineman covering the center. With a running QB like Woolsey, that should be part of the short yardage package.

Anyhow, I still liked that they went for it on fourth down instead of just settling for the field goal. Like the folks who started Seed Restaurant, sometimes you have to take chances and have faith in people to make things work.

Deadlines and Routines

August 6th, 2014
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PROGRAM ALERT: The new August episode of Career Changers TV premieres Thurs., 7:30 PM on channel 12/high def 1012, and will feature the Pacific Aviation Museum -- plus a profile of Burl Burlingame, the former newspaper writer, who is also a book author, musician and now works as curator at the museum. There's also a preview of their upcoming Biggest Little Airshow on Aug. 16 and 17 at Ford Island! For daily viewing times, please visit www.CareerChangers.TV.

In my last blog post, I mentioned I'm a finalist in a national screenwriting competition that required the top 10 entries to complete a new script in about two months. Screenplays for feature movies average around 100 to 120 pages with each page representing about one minute of screen time. So cranking out 10-15 pages per week is pretty doable for most writers. The challenge though is writing good pages that will survive the inevitable edits, cuts, and rewriting that comes with producing a workable script. If you're writing a novel, you can wax poetic, spend time inside your characters' heads, describe locations in detail right down to the blades of grass or hue of the sky. Not so in screenplays, which have to move fast since Hollywood readers often make up their minds on whether they will read the script after just one or two pages. By page 10, many have already decided if it's a "pass" or "consider."

So I was churning out pages the first month, and thought they were pretty good. Except my story coach would pick apart scenes and prod me to develop the characters more in each of our weekly phone sessions, which is what makes this contest a unique experience for aspiring screenwriters. Script consultants like the one I'm working with charge as much as $75 per hour for their feedback (my sessions are free, courtesy of the contest); notes can range from a couple hundred bucks to a thousand or more. There are so many wannabe screenwriters/directors/filmmakers that a cottage industry has developed in L.A. to tap into that market, which generates 30,000 to 40,000 new scripts that are registered with the Writers Guild each year. Of those, less than five percent will even have a remote chance of being seriously looked at by industry players.

And this contest is one way to get to the top of the wannabes heap... if I win, that is. The problem is I was making up much of my new screenplay as I was going along, while dealing with the demands of producing my TV show and other video projects -- all on deadlines too. Then, after taking in what the story coach criticized or suggested, I'd go back and make changes that improved the script but put me behind schedule. My normal routines were thrown out of whack -- which can be a good thing. Sometimes we get stuck in ruts and do only as much as we're used to doing out of habit. We forget how much we're actually capable of accomplishing, unless we're pressed by outside forces.

With just one week left to turn in the first draft, I was at page 55 -- mid-point -- and had to write another 50 pages in seven days. To begin with, I'm not a fast writer by nature. Some of my prior scripts have taken years to complete or even start because I'd be carrying around ideas for a long time before the story kicked in. Also, I tend to procrastinate unless I'm faced with a deadline... which might be related to my early writing career as a news reporter back in New Jersey. Somewhere along the way, I got into a mindset that my normal routine was to do "x" amount of work per day to be finished on "y" to meet deadline "z" -- it's how I chunk out tasks and allot time to multiple projects I'm usually juggling.

But even for me, the prospect of crafting 50 plus script pages -- actually twice that since I know I'll delete half of what I write -- was daunting. Yet exciting too. Some days I woke at 4 AM to start work. My mind would keep writing even when I stopped to eat or watch TV before going to bed. I wasn't sure what direction the story was going in toward the end, and when I was stuck, my subconscious sometimes provided answers through the characters I had created. Somehow, I got the draft done and submitted it with a couple of hours to spare.

However, that was just the first deadline. A week later, I got back detailed notes from another reader/story analyst as part of the contest steps, and now have until Aug. 16 to turn in the final draft that will be possibly read by an A-list screenwriter and top management company in L.A. The notes were spot on and pinpointed story problems that were largely a result of making stuff up on the fly in the mad dash to the finish line for the first draft.

It's amazing how much we can do when we force ourselves to buckle down and deliver the best work we can do on a shorter timetable. Some people thrive on that kind of pressure. Others can't handle the stress of performing on demand. What's funny is when my wife and I are watching reality shows like Project Runway or Top Chef, there are always one or two competitors who seem so fragile and unable to cope with the time constraints, you wonder why they even wanted to be on the show in the first place! It's like that old saying, if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen -- but if you enjoy competing, seek out opportunities that will bring out the best in yourself.

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To see video segments from past and current Career Changers TV episodes, check out the CCTV YouTube Channel -- now at over half a million views worldwide, and climbing!

Perks of the Trade

July 2nd, 2014
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bayview zipline

PROGRAM ALERT: The new July episode of Career Changers TV premieres Thurs., 7:30 PM, July 3 on OC16 (channel 12/high def 1012). For daily viewing times, visit our website. You can also watch segments from past shows on the CCTV YouTube Channel.

One of the fun parts of my job as producer is I get to do stuff I ordinarily wouldn't try... or if I chicken out, I get our host Theresa Tilley to do it. For instance, when we did a story on the Aloha Live cirque type acts, I had her stand between two performers who were flipping bowling pins in front and back of her as she did the intro. Those pins are heavy and could do serious damage if the jugglers were just a tad off on their toss. That was a little hairy.

Two weeks ago, we got to do the Bay View Mini-Putt and Zipline for our July show. I had never been ziplining before, and until recently this was the only one on Oahu. The Kaneohe zipline is about 400 feet, which is short compared to the ones on the Neighbor Islands. But it's a nice rush, and if you've been nervous about trying the big boy versions, this is the perfect way to get a feel for it. Plus, if you're old enough and weigh less than 250 pounds, you can get the kama'aina deal: three rides for $25. Add a round of mini-putt and you can make a day of it for the whole family.

In fact, the owner  -- Kenn Yuen -- has been doing company "family day" parties there, and is offering special discounts if you mention you heard about it through Career Changers TV. However, you should watch the segment because his  personal story tells you a lot about the man. He had to overcome a personal tragedy, then went through a few years of soul searching and career changes. At one time he was a manager for comedian Frank DeLima and musician Dan Ho.

On this month's episode, we have two other interesting stories. Right down the street at Windward City Shopping Center, we shot a segment about the new Massage Envy spa that opened in Kaneohe -- which was necessitated by how quickly the Pearl Highlands Massage Envy grew. The owners, who worked for Wells Fargo financial services on the mainland prior to starting the franchise here, said their Pearl spa was named the 2013 Massage Envy spa of the year -- out of over 900 locations. It's the fastest growing spa in franchise history. They're now planning on adding a third in Kapolei, and are considering other locations on Oahu and the Neighbor Islands. What's more is the co-owners -- Nate McFarland and Lari Jarvis -- are loving life and their new careers in Hawaii.

Oh, and they offered free one-hour body massages to my cameraman, Stanford Chang, and myself to better understand why their spas are doing gangbusters business in the islands. The only problem was the massage relaxed me so much, I had trouble conducting the interview afterwards. Took me awhile to get back into my normal Producer go-go-go mode since we usually do run-and-gun video shoots to save time and cut our production costs.

Rounding out the new show is a piece on the man behind those full page "A Doctor's Confession" ads in the Star-Advertiser. If you subscribe to the print edition, I'm sure you've seen it and possibly were curious about his laser treatments. Prior to filming, Dr. Jeremy Alosa sent me the book he wrote: "The Laser's Edge." And I have a confession to make as well... I was skeptical, but after reading it and seeing all the testimonials from patients who say it gave them relief from pain (mostly related to arthritis) I came away impressed. The Class 4 laser he uses is the same type that professional sports teams have been employing to treat millionaire athletes.

He offered me a free treatment, but I had to run off to another shoot that day. In any event, next time I have a physically strenuous story to do for the show, I know where I can get a nice massage at a good price -- or if Theresa ever gets clocked by an errant bowling pin, perhaps Dr. Alosa's laser therapy can help ease her aches and pains.

 

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