September 01, 2012


Yeah I watched Star Trek 2 a couple night ago. Also I have become addicted to Adventure Time.

I got a new spot:

PS You rule. September is here, and you rule. 


Posted By KRANTZ at 04:02 PM


July 20, 2012


My immediate reaction here (after the WTF) was surprisingly conflicted. On the one hand, it's validation of the great idea to adapt this story. On the other, the gentleman who wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for The King’s Speech is already writing it, and had started doing so at least several months before we ever considered it. Struck with disappointment! But relieved considering I hadn’t progressed beyond deep analysis of the short story and hadn’t yet found a good angle on the adaptation. The student in me knew that nothing had changed! I wasn’t ever expecting anything beyond a highly difficult challenge. But the ego inside disagreed; I felt there was some probability that I would crush and write a great and worthy screenplay.

So for the first time (and despite the long defense of my commitment in the  previous post’s comments), I found myself thinking about what I would or could do right now if I made a mid-session adjustment and set Pushkin aside. After I walked the poodle, I decided to make two major changes.

1) QOS gets moved to the backburner. In its place, I’ll be collaborating on an original story and screenplay with ALEX, mid 20s, Italian-American dude, director and screenwriter. We’ve wanted to work on something together for years, but the opportunity only presented itself recently and this news was the perfect excuse. I flew to the phone and an hour later we were ready for work on Monday. Alex is a character, not sure how he will feel about posting our progress publicly but I will certainly share some stories. I’m sad I’ll be leaving the Russian world but feel fortunate I'm leaving it on these terms, avoiding possible insanity and haunting.

2) I signed up for this:

I’ve secretly been craving something like this. Already dove into Grimm Children’s and Household Tales. Starts on Monday, if anyone is interested sign up with me!

And so a stunning plot twist ends this chapter. I'll let you in on a secret: I didn't even really like The King's Speech. Who knows what I’ll write about next (or how I'll multitable all these commitments) but I will keep blogging. More people were reading my rambling on writing than I thought, and I just passed SIX THOUSAND TWITTER FOLLOWERS so I might upgrade to a platform that has slightly more pizzazz. TY for all the discussion so far, despite changing gears I hope that continues.

I leave you with SCARY SMASH

Posted By KRANTZ at 08:39 PM


July 13, 2012

the return

The two wolves inside me fiercely fought it out in Las Vegas. The story ends like The Grey, with me standing up to face the evil wolf, the one who wants my throat.

I have returned from Vegas and it felt like reconnecting with a past life. Fascinating to touch base with old HSNL friends and hear about what they're up to post Black Friday. Everyone is certainly still the same, in the sense that young online poker pros all tow the line between fun-loving and psychotic, and are mad geniuses who muse about, placing bets on anything and everything. I enjoyed dipping my toes back in to the wild world of gambling and ego and high speed Internet video gaming. There was a July 4th party at Vanessa's, who lives with Vanessa Rousso, Liv Boeree and Maria Ho, and they are filming a reality TV show pilot. Isildur1 walked past me and I gaped at how shockingly tall he is IRL. I played in the Main Event, which felt more exciting to me now that I only play recreationally than it had ever felt when I played professionally. I played some good poker, and I played some bad poker, and now I'm reading The Mental Game of Poker, which I highly recommend.

Regarding The Queen of Spades, I pitched the concept of a modern adaptation to several people and all were intrigued. So we're on the right track. Dramatica 5 was just released, the first update to their software in a long time. Going to upgrade on Monday and build the storyform in there, then put forth several concepts for approaching the adaptation. The next phase is going to be making decisions on how to adapt the story into a modern movie. Out of that I'll write a treatment that contains scene by scene specifics. Then finally, the screenwriting. I'd like to challenge myself to finish a draft in two months. Given that I'll also be finishing BOOM and working on The Micros Season 2, and especially considering I once tried to make $2 million in two months, I think this is the right kind of difficulty level.

Question that came up in LV: What would happen to the world if terrorists blew up the moon?

PS Watched an excellent French Thriller called Tell No One. Recommend.

Posted By KRANTZ at 04:30 PM


June 28, 2012

Cherokee legend

A Cherokee Legend

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, se...renity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Posted By KRANTZ at 01:57 PM


June 24, 2012


Damn, 11 days since last update. I am continually progressing, happy with my progress--all this writing and thinking and writing and thinking has me feeling like I'm turning a corner. On the one hand I'm using Dramatica to reverse engineer QOS on a structural level, and then reengineer it, keeping the skeleton but chucking the 1830s clothing for something different looking. I'm also knee deep in The Micros "Season Two", creating a story from the ground up but using Dramatica to brainstorm. Ain't nothing better than learning by doing.

Yeah so I am asking questions like what is the story goal? A drive to achieve the goal is created when the status quo changes. So what resolves the problem facing all the characters? Is it when Hermann obtains the secret, and the rest of the story is devoted to his personal problem? Or is it obtaining the fortune acquired by playing the three lucky cards in order? Or is it escaping the bounds of a world ruled by chance? Articulating this correctly is important, because it has a specific subjective meaning, and if you think it means one thing when it means something else, you're not communicating well. I don't think I should mess around with misinterpreting Pushkin, he might haunt me. But misunderstanding and misinterpreting is what plagues most adaptations I've seen. If you're going to misinterpret, don't misunderstand what you're doing. Back up every action and decision with sound logic. Sound like poker? Talking about the technical aspects of writing must sound to everyone else like talking about poker hand histories sounds like to everyone else: wizard gibberish.

Going to Vegas on Friday. Been thinking more and more about how to set an adaptation in Vegas. Inspiration engine is primed. Excited to check out BRAVE. Play live poker. Win the Main Event. Going to be a great summer. BOOM

Posted By KRANTZ at 03:32 PM


June 13, 2012

pixar's 22 rules of storytelling

Some sweet tips from the STUDIO TO RULE THEM ALL

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Posted By KRANTZ at 12:12 PM


June 10, 2012


I am far down the rabbit hole. The more I read The Queen of Spades the more in awe I am of this masterpiece. This is really a fucking fantastic story about gambling. I am so obsessed that I am growing my insanity beard. My girlfriend has started to randomly wink at me to creep me out.

For the past 4-5 days my mind has been fixated on figuring out what the hell Pushkin meant exactly (no easy feat, critics have endlessly debated this for over 100 years, lol). Why is that Queen at the end of the story such a horrifying reveal? What was his reasoning for the random time jumps? Is Hermann's fundamental nature changed at the end? Why is Chekalinksy perpetually smiling?! I started to make major changes to set up an adaptation, but then I realized--WTF am I doing? Who am I to try to adapt one of the greatest Russian authors without having a complete understanding of every single detail of the story? So I went to Dramatica, and my writing group, and we started discussing the story, which led to a lot of theorizing and supposition, which led to me rereading the Dramatica theory book, which led to a much, much greater understanding of what Pushkin was trying to say. A lot of that came from better understanding the nature of the character psychologies--they are all complex people who constantly work against your expectations. For instance Hermann is both logical and passionate, reserved and ambitious. The pull between his multiple motivations offers a ton of insight into human nature, and the nature of gamblers. Why do we exercise terrific bankroll management for 29 straight days, but then lose all our profit on the 30th day when we chase a fish to 5x stakes? This is the kind of problem Pushkin was looking at. The risks we take to satisfy our urges to control our own futures.

Anyway, this was a detour from my plan to plow through a first draft, but a worthwhile one. This week I'm going to set up those master documents with all my pre-writing, and then I'm going to revisit my adaptation ideas and see if I can't figure out an even better way of updating this story for 2012. I may not complete a first draft before I leave for Vegas, but I am feeling jazzed up. I am learning tons, and this whole endeavor is going to drastically improve my storytelling and screenwriting. BOOYAH

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Posted By KRANTZ at 09:33 PM


June 05, 2012


About a week left until I start script writing. Lots of writing in the meantime. Hopefully a few more movies too. I started reading Dostoevsky (Notes from the Underground and The Gambler).

I am going to create a central file(s) for the project that includes all my prep writing (characters, plot synopsis, storyline development and character arcs and so on). That way it will be much easier to comment on ideas and follow along as the story evolves--everything will be in a central place instead of a series of disjointed blog posts. I'm going to keep posting thoughts here (and probably a few scenes as I write them), but the heart of the story will be found in those files. If you'd like me to share them with you, comment or PM me with your email and I will send you an invite later this week!

PS Game of Thrones! Finished S2 strong. I have the feeling S2 will be even better watching on blu-ray in a 10 hr binge. Also, Mad Men. JFC. Killer two hour block of television. Those are the only two hour long dramas I'm watching right now. I think they pretty much cover all someone needs to know about humanity!

Posted By KRANTZ at 04:36 PM


June 01, 2012

movie watching

Since Vertigo I have seen Edmond and The Ninth Gate. 

Edmond is a bizarre and disturbing film; William H Macy plays a homophobic and racist man who sees a psychic on his way home from work, which compels him to leave his wife before he slowly descends into a world of madness. It's about the thin line between our human and animal instincts. A great performance by Macy and the David Mamet script is full of interesting dialogue and monologues but it was just really too bizarre and fucked up for me. 

In the Ninth Gate Johnny Depp plays a rare book dealer who is hired to verify the authenticity of a book supposedly co-authored by Lucifer. This one was TERRIBLE. I expected way more from Roman Polanski; it starts off pretty promising (we see a man writing a letter, then the camera drifts to a stool, and then up to a noose--great screenwriting/directing there and in a very cool title sequence where the camera zooms through the 9 gates) and Johnny Depp gives a good performance as a potentially intriguing kind of mercenary obsessed with books. But the plot is boring and ridiculous and the dialogue is cliched and weak. There are way too many scenes of Depp in rooms talking to people who explain things to him and there is no payoff to any of it. There are also a few absurd action moments, one in which Depp beats a guy for no reason with a shoe. 

Despite these two being pretty disappointing I've added a few more to my list. Hoping to get to some of the truly creepy/scary/suspenseful ones soon:



The Prestige

Silence of the Lambs

The Shining

The Tenant


Perfect Blue

The Others

A Tale of Two Sisters

The Haunting

Brotherhood of the Wolf

The Wages of Fear

Black Swan

12 Monkeys

The Searchers




The Seventh Seal

The Game

Serpent and the Rainbow


I Bury The Living

To Kill a Mockingbird

The Hustler


Breaking the Waves

Dancer in the Dark

The Wild Hunt

Kill List

Let the Right One In

The Lives of Others

Posted By KRANTZ at 05:23 PM


May 30, 2012


Vertigo was a GREAT film. If you enjoy "films" and haven't seen it it is a must watch, I think it insta-cracked my favorites list. And of course it was a fantastic first movie to watch for Queen of Spades inspiration. Full of creepy, mysterious, suspenseful, colorful and surreal imagery that only Hitchcock could create. They just don't make movies like this anymore. Check out this nightmare bit and you'll see the kind of execution that could work brilliantly for Herman's own obsessions.

I haven't updated the google doc but am plodding along on the outline. I'd like to get to the midpoint before I post again, and I'll post an update here when it has been updated. I'm working on the party sequence, which is kind of complex:

-What kind of party is it? What would be the most visually interesting? How about it is a ball to begin summer. Anna's estate has been transformed. She sits on a raised dais in the middle of a long banquet table overlooking a grand ballroom. There are two spiral staircases on either side--to reach Anna you need to ascend the stairs, and to dance you need to descend. There are bars lining the walls and people are enjoying the booze and the decadence and the dancing. Other locations could be a library, various balconies, an indoor/outdoor pool where people are lounging/swimming/gambling (think all the glamour and decadence of XS or Surrender at Encore in Vegas!)

-What does Herman want at the party? To give Anna his gift, and to give Lisa the letter (he has two strategies to obtain the secret--romance Anna or romance Lisa). Herman is troubled by the random deaths in the opening and his survival (he is the only one who survived) and he is drawn to Anna because of that incident, as well as his interest in St Germain's secret. We think he is there mainly because he likes Lisa and feels guilty over his survival... but when Anna opens the gift and sees it is a deck of cards, we realize he is still obsessed with the possibility of the story being true. This curiosity should be established as he explores the party and notices the extent of Anna's wealth. We begin to realize what kind of person Herman is, as the associations between the St Germain story in the opening and his fascination with gambling/TV poker begin to make sense. But we still want him and Lisa to get together...

-Tom has a brother, Martin, another grandson of Anna's who is Lisa's date at the party. He is an obstacle for Herman that delays him in ascending to the top to meet Anna and give her his gift. Martin is extremely interested to meet Herman--he wants to meet the survivor of the attack, the man who God decided to spare at the expense of his favorite brother. At first Martin wants to befriend him, but then we see he is troubled, dislikes Herman and is suspicious of his motives. Martin acts as the warning character for Lisa, like Tomsky acts in the original story for Lisaveta.

-When Herman presents Anna with his gift, she opens it and immediately asks him to leave, knowing why he is actually there. So the sequence starts out with Herman being a guest of honor at this awesome party, and by the end he is unwelcome. Lisa's sensibilities are confused, and as Herman leaves he slips her his love letter, confusing her even more.

-molotov had the idea that Lisa is an orphan whose parents used to work for Anna. Anna raised her, so Lisa feels guilty for leaving her now. I like this idea a lot, orphans are great, and any parallels we can draw between Lisa and Herman (they both have guilt) are a good thing right now IMO. So Lisa has a role at the party in terms of tending to Anna, but she also wants to have a good time, and she also hopes that Herman will come and talk to her.

Then the next sequence would build their illicit relationship to the point of Herman sneaking in and choosing to surprise Anna late at night over hiding in wait for love and Lisa. Anna's death would mark the midpoint of the story.


Posted By KRANTZ at 04:04 PM


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