The Next Round

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As I recently reported, one of my latest successes was my feature length romantic comedy screenplay, Soul Mate being selected as a quarterfinalist in the Stage 32 Comedy Writing Contest. Pretty exciting. But let’s see. What would be more exciting? How about if it were selected as a semifinalist? Yes, boys and girls, that’s what I’m telling you. I was notified yesterday. Semifinals!

I am very happy and proud. Not to blow my own horn, but it’s a very good script. I worked extremely hard on it. It’s a unique and very funny story that takes place in my beloved New York. (Hence the photo above)

The story behind the story is pretty interesting too. I had the idea for it in 1988. I had written my first two screenplays when I came up with an idea for a romantic comedy, one of my favorite genres. I told my then girlfriend I was going to write one and she laughed. She informed me that I did not have a romantic bone in my body. Out of fairness, she was pretty much spot on at the time.

I wasn’t ready to write it. So it sat in the back of my mind in a little cabinet where I store my best ideas. Eventually in late 2010, I decided I was ready to write it. I did and here we are. Progressing nicely through a fairly prestigious contest.

Another interesting fact about Soul Mate. After I completed a couple of drafts, I let my ex-girlfriend read it. We have remained friends and I greatly value her opinion. She really liked it and was amazed that I had written it. That was the inspiration for my short comedy, Isn’t It Romantic?, which just won a festival award. Two for one! Not a bad deal.

Finalists will be announced on April 26. Here’s hoping I can make at least one more round. This is almost as much fun as the NHL playoffs. Let’s Go Rangers and Let’s Go Soul Mate!

New Opportunities for a Couple of Past Projects

As Cooper and I continue to create new content and market it, I also seek to promote some of our past projects. As I believed I mentioned, I was tweeting during the Oscar telecast and a few film festivals requested our first film, the romantic comedy short, Isn’t It Romantic? the film which began this blog. One of the festivals was the Best Shorts Competition. Our movie was accepted and we were just notified that we won an Award of Recognition.

Best Shorts is a well connected competition in La Jolla, CA. As a result of the award, we will be included in press releases and other publicity which will be viewed by industry professionals. We also get to display another laurel. This is pretty exciting for a project we finished four years ago. Every step forward is crucial.

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Another project that got a boost, which some of you who have read my blog from the beginning may remember is my feature romantic comedy script, Soul Mate. I entered it into the Stage32 Comedy Writing Contest. I was recently notified that is has been chosen as a quarterfinalist. Soul Mate is a script of which I am very proud. Whatever I have to do, I will get it to the screen one day. Winning this contest would go a long way toward achieving that goal. The grand prize winner is flown to LA for a meeting with a group of industry professionals to discuss the development of the winning property. Two winners will get Skype meetings with the pros and every finalist will have his or her logline sent to over 500 professionals. This is a very good opportunity and if nothing else, getting to the quarterfinals is a nice confidence boost.

In the meantime, Cooper and I have something else on the horizon that has not been finalized so I can’t share it yet, but it’s very good. Hard work and persistence do pay off.

If anyone would like to view Isn’t It Romantic? you can see it on our YouTube channel here: IIR on YouTube. Stay tuned folks. As the song says, “The best is yet to come!”

My Amazing Fiancé: Julia Baxter

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My lovely Julia!

 

In honor of Women’s History Month, I would like to blog about some of the very special and incredible ladies in my life. They inspire me, guide me, get me through the rough times and most incredibly of all, put up with me and all the nonsense that comes with that!

For this first post, I will focus on my fiancé, Julia Baxter. What an incredible stroke of luck it was to have met her! Those of you who have followed my blog from the beginning know my story. I was thoroughly convinced no woman would ever want to be involved with me. The rest of my life would be spent in solitude. I was too unattractive, too neurotic. Guys like me only get the girl in the movies. Turns out, I was wrong.

Sometimes, it does happen in real life. The funny, anxiety ridden artist can end up with a wonderful lady. (One of the first things I noticed when I saw a photo of Julia, was her resemblance to Diane Keaton. Maybe that had something to do with it.) I decided to take a shot at a dating site. Yes, there are all kinds of crazies out there. I interacted with a few. Went on a couple of dates, none of which worked out. Then, I clicked on one of the site’s suggestions, you know, here’s someone you might like. I was intrigued.

The story gets interesting here. Julia had no photos on her profile. But it was well written, funny and sincere and she seemed like the type of woman I am attracted to. Neurotic and complex! Unbeknownst to me, Julia listed herself as living in a different part of the State of New York, which put her geographically close enough to where I was living in Connecticut at the time. Quite fortunate as it is unlikely our paths would have ever crossed otherwise.

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Summer fun in Cooperstown.

 

Julia, as it turns out, was on a very bad date that day. She came home lamenting the inability to find a smart, funny guy. Logging on to the dating site she saw that she had been visited by a guy whose profile title was, “Smart, Funny”. The rest, as they say is history! We dated for two years and I requested her hand, and the rest of her beautiful self, in marriage on a horse carriage in Central Park. We are happily engaged and enjoying our lives together.

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She said yes!

 

Julia is an absolutely remarkable person. She works at SUNY Oneonta, placing student teachers and teaching education classes. She also teaches Sunday school and does counseling and is a Reiki master! Acting in community theater musicals, planning vacations and always ready to help family and friends. I get tired just thinking about everything she does. She a terrific mother, sister, friend and truly, the love of my life. She supports and inspires me. I would not be accomplishing the things that I have been lately, were it not for her.

As an empath, Julia reads me like a book, always knowing what I need, whether that be a pat on the back or a kick in the ass. (It’s generally the latter.) Therapy and medication certainly were the major factors in helping me deal with my depression and anxiety issues, but Julia has also been vital in that regard. She understands because she has the same issues! What a perfect match!

We enjoy our life, cars parked together in the driveway, shoes side by side on the porch, my Zoloft next to her Prozac in the medicine cabinet. A match made in the DSM. I love you, Honey. I don’t know how I ever survived without you, but I’m so glad I don’t face that now.

I Plead Sith with an Explanation

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The featured photo for this post is my profile picture on Facebook. On that social media platform I am known as “Darth Weinstein”, the only Jewish Sith lord in the galaxy. “I’m as ruthless as the next guy, but I feel guilty about it”. It’s a joke, a fun character meant to entertain, but in the Star Wars universe, I do identify with the Sith. Yes, I know. They’re the bad guys. But with the exception of killing innocent people and blowing up planets, (I have to draw the line some place), I like their philosophy. Much more than that of the Jedi.

Dark Side DeskFirst, my issues with the Jedi. (I’m basing this on the events pre-ROTJ, I know things changed after that.) The ban on romantic relationships. Really? Are they knights or monks? That’s just wrong and unnatural. It’s not human, or Wookie, or Togruta or any other species in the galaxy. It does more harm than good. Look at the stress Anakin Skywalker went through hiding his marriage to Padme Amidala. No wonder he turned to the Dark Side. I’m engaged, eager to marry my beautiful fiancé, Julia Baxter and no order is worth giving her up.

I also don’t like the Jedi philosophy of suppressing emotion. Again, unnatural. Emotions are a vital part of any creature’s make up. Don’t let them control you, but feel them, experience them, let them fuel you. I especially have an issue with the negative view of passion. Here’s where the Sith shine.

We embrace passion. Witness, The Sith Code:

Peace is a lie, there is only passion.

Through passion, I gain strength.

Through strength, I gain power.

Through power, I gain victory.

Through victory, my chains are broken.

The force shall set me free.

Passion is in the first line. Passion is vital in any profession. Do you think I could make any significant progress in my filmmaking career without intense passion for the artform? No. Not at all. Not in the least. Strength is a great asset, not just physical strength, but intellectual and emotional. A quest for power over others is not a good thing, I will grant you, but for me, power over myself and to lead the life I want to lead. Accomplish the goals I set for myself. Passion gives me the strength and power to do that. Victory and freedom? Hey, who doesn’t want those.

So, for all my Jedi friends out there, I respect you. May the force be with you. But I will always be a Dark Sider. Besides, doesn’t a lightsaber look the most menacing in red?

“Isn’t It Romantic?” is back!

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I have been very busy networking and promoting our various projects and Cooper and I have some exciting things in the works. One thing I would like to share is that our first project, the short romantic comedy, Isn’t It Romantic? has been selected by the Best Shorts Competition in La Jolla, California. This will put it in consideration for several awards in a fairly prestigious competition with industry professionals on the judging panel.

This is exciting. We have gone on to many fun projects of which we are quite proud, but the first is always special I like that it’s out there again. I was tweeting on the Route 202 Productions Twitter account during the Academy Awards and picked up a number of new followers. Several festivals requested that we submit Isn’t It Romantic?. One of them was actor Tom Sizemore, who requested it for the Filmchella Festival, which he hosts. So, of course, we submitted. Fingers crossed, a bit more exposure for our short.

Things are happening, boys and girls. We’re very excited at Route 202 Productions. I will keep you up to date on all the news as it happens. Thanks for reading. I appreciate all of you.

 

I’m Crazy about Mental Health

Despite the tongue-in-cheek title, this is a serious subject about which I care deeply. Sadly, there is still a stigma attached to mental health issues which prevents many people from seeking the help that is available. The world is not an easy place to navigate and there are very few individuals who could not benefit from some type of therapy and/or medication.

I know this first hand. As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I suffer with dysthymia, a mild form of depression. I have had to deal with it since childhood, although it was not correctly diagnosed until about ten years ago.

Although mild, dysthymia is debilitating. It’s often connected to social anxiety, as it is in my case and causes a lack of enthusiasm and anhedonia, an inability to experience pleasure. When I’m in the throes of it, I have no ambition and become lackadaisical. Accomplishing any task becomes extremely difficult. Because it so mild, it very often goes unnoticed and can last for months or even years.

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I am happy to say that it can be controlled. I spent about ten years in therapy with an excellent counselor and I’ve been taking Zoloft (pictured above) for about three years. I have an occasional downturn, but not nearly as frequently or as drastically as in the past.

I am now able to be the best version of myself. I’m more productive in my chosen craft of filmmaking and in all other aspects of my life. I can recognize the onset of a bout of depression and curtail it before it sets in.

The point of this post is: if you have any type of problem with depression, anxiety, phobias, any type of mental illness, don’t be ashamed of it. It’s your brain chemistry, not who you are as a person. Diabetics take insulin, people take pills for their hearts. The help is out there and if you need it, seek it. Be proud that you are dealing with a problem that is not of your making. Be your best self. Live the life you want. I did it. You can too.

Since I am a filmmaker, I will throw in a bit of trivia. I used the obscure word, “anhedonia”. This was the original title of the film, “Annie Hall”. United Artists insisted on a title change because of the fact that very few people are familiar with the word. They tried ads that included a definition, but who wants to get a vocabulary lesson in an advertisement?

I’m back!

It’s been quite a layoff friends and neighbors, but I am back. Still writing and directing with my partner, Cooper Campbell and back to blogging.

Many great things have come into my life, the best being that I am engaged! I met the most amazing woman on a dating site in late 2013 and now she’s my fiancé and I am living with her in beautiful Upstate New York.

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Here we are on the happy day. I took her on a horse carriage ride through Central Park and proposed there. It was beautiful!

 

In the meantime, Cooper and I are working on a new feature length comedy script and we have also created a web series. We have an interested party in both the new series and “My Spirited Sister”, the sitcom pilot we shot in 2014. I will keep you apprised as things happen.

 

In the meantime, you can go to our YouTube channel: Route 202 Productions to see the MSS pilot as well as our short film, “Isn’t It Romantic?” So tune in, boys and girls because things are starting to get interesting.