Posted by Ryder Islington, author of Ultimate Justice
Below is a very interesting post by Steven Axelrod, on Irvin Kershner, director of the Star Wars movies. Wow. He met Irvin Kershner! And below the article, you’ll find information about Steven’s latest book, Nantucket Five-Spot. Don’t forget to scroll down to the bottom, where you’ll find an opportunity to win a free book! And now, Steven’s guest post:
Remembering Irvin Kershner
I think about Irvin Kershner often. I didn’t know much about him when the producer of my little family drama movie script set up the meeting, but I could tell he considered it a major coup. He is best known today for directing what most aficionados agree was the best of the Star Wars movies – The Empire Strikes Back. Indeed he was just coming off that career high success, looking for a new project, when I got the chance to meet him.
It was quite an intimidating set up – the luxurious office on the Warners lot, the giant photograph of Yoda that dominated the wall behind his desk, and the man himself – craggy, bearded, sharp eyed, a true Jedi Knight in his own brand of creative warfare.
The main problem he had with my script was the long passage in the middle during which the father character and his oldest friend reminisce and re-litigate their lifetime of conflict over a series of excellent meals and walks on the winter beaches of Nantucket.
“This isn’t a movie!” he barked, dropping the script on his desk like something dead that had just twitched alarmingly.
“Right,” my hapless producer agreed. “It’s – it’s a play. All that dialogue …”
Kershner turned that beady stare on him. “It’s not even a play! It’s nothing! There’s no drama, here. It’s just two geezers chewing the fat. A movie is about what happens next. Don’t you get that? Look, I say to you – this script is shit. You can’t write. Get out of the business while you still can. What do you do? That’s insulting! That’s abusive! What are you going to do about it?”
“I, uh –“
“Are you going to break into tears? Run out of the room? Stand up and slug me? I don’t know – but you’re going to do something. That’s a movie! Here’s how EVERY SCENE in a movie should play. Pay attention to me, kid. There’s a nail sticking up out of this desk. I wrap a red rubber band around it and start pulling. The rubber band starts stretching, it pulling thin, turning pink, it’s about to snap, you’re flinching in advance … and then – pow! The nail comes out of the table. That’s what I’m looking for — that kind of reversal, that kind of surprise.”
He didn’t like my ending, either.
“The father admits the son is talented, and they kiss and make up. It’s shit. It’s a TV movie. Do you watch TV?”
“Sure,” I said “I mean – sometimes, I guess, but –
“Well as long as you’re working with me, you don’t watch TV. Not one second of it. It’s all shit. It’s written like shit, it’s acted like shit, it’s directed like shit and if you keep watching that shit you won’t be able to do anything else.”
A silence fell. My producer, he seemed near tears – he had no idea how jazzed I was – said, “So… we’re done here?”
But Kershner wasn’t done. He didn’t think much of the father son relationship that made up the core of the story.
“It’s all in the past,” he said. “it’s all memory and back story and no one cares.”
“So … what do you think I should do instead?” I asked.
“Give them some real conflict, something that’s happening right now. The kid has a girlfriend – let the dad be having an affair with her. That should heat things up a little. Write me that draft – and cut thirty pages out of it.”
We reeled out of there, and I was already framing the re-write in my head and when I met Kershner, two weeks later, I had a new draft that ran 90 stream-lined pages.
He hefted it with a grin “Fighting weight,” he said.
I was dazzled and star struck – I had just seen Sean Connery coming out of his office, wearing a track suit … the meeting before mine. I figured out later what that meeting signified: Kershner was about to direct his own version of a James Bond movie with Connery, a re-make of Thunderball.
His decision had already been made, and I wasn’t even in the running. But I got a lesson in writing I’ll never forget, and every time I ratchet up the conflict in a scene or somehow manage to pull that nail out of the table, I think of Irvin Kershner and bow my head in gratitude to the wild-eyed genius who played Yoda to my humble Padawan.
It was definitely Kerhner’s voice I heard in his movie when old Jedi said “Do, or do not. There is no try.”
I was lucky to have met him, and sad to see him go.
by Steven Axelrod
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: Jan 6, 2015
Number of Pages: 296
Henry Kennis, Nantucket island’s poetry-writing police chief who will remind readers of Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone and Spenser, works a second challenging case in Nantucket Five-Spot.
At the height of the summer tourist season, a threat to bomb the annual Boston Pops Concert could destroy the island’s economy, along with its cachet as a safe, if mostly summer-time, haven for America’s ruling class. The threat of terrorism brings The Department of Homeland Security to the island, along with prospects for a rekindled love affair –Henry’s lost love works for the DHS now.
The “terrorism” aspects of the attack prove to be a red herring. The truth lies much closer to home. At first suspicion falls on local carpenter Billy Delavane, but Henry investigates the case and proves that Billy is being framed. Then it turns out that Henry’s new suspect is also being framed –for the bizarre and almost undetectable crime of framing someone else. Every piece of evidence works three ways in the investigation of a crime rooted in betrayed friendship, infidelity, and the quiet poisonous feuds of small town life. Henry traces the origin of the attacks back almost twenty years and uncovers an obsessive revenge conspiracy that he must unravel –now alone, discredited and on the run –before further disaster strikes.
Steven Axelrod holds an MFA in writing from Vermont College of the Fine Arts and remains a member of the WGA despite a long absence from Hollywood. His work has been featured on various websites, including the literary e-zine Numéro Cinq, where he is on the masthead. His work has also appeared at Salon.com and The GoodMen Project, as well as the magazines PulpModern and BigPulp. A father of two, he lives on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, where he paints houses and writes, often at the same time, much to the annoyance of his customers.
1. 3/01 Showcase & Excerpt @ FictionZeal
2. 3/03 Review @ Celticladys Reviews
3. 3/04 Review @ Vics Media Room
4. 3/05 Guest Post @ Writers and Authors
5. 3/05 Showcase @ Maries Cozy Corner
6. 3/06 Review @ For Life After
7. 3/11 Review @ Deal Sharing Aunt
8. 3/12 Guest Post @ Building Bookshelves
9. 3/14 Interview @ Hott Books
10. 3/15 Review @ Nook Users Book Club
11. 3/16 Review @ Views from the Countryside
12. 3/18 Guest Post @ Our Wolves Den
13. 3/19 Showcase @ fuonlyknew
14. 3/20 Review by Carol Wong
15. 3/21 Review @ 3 Partners in Shopping
16. 3/22 Review & Giveaway @ Marys Cup of Tea
17. 3/23 Review & Giveaway @ Bless Their Hearts Mom
18. 3/24 Review & Giveaway @ Building Bookshelves
19. 3/27 Review @ Brooke Blogs
20. 3/28 Review @ Bunnys Review
This is a giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Steven Axelrod & Poisoned Pen Press. There will be one winner of 1 Box of Poisoned Pen Press books including Nantucket Fivespot. The giveaway begins on Feb 28th, 2015 and runs through April 3rd, 2015. Tour Reviewers are also eligible to host their own giveaway for an ebook copy of Nantucket Fivespot. All individual giveaway winners must be sent to Gina at Partners in Crime no later than April 3, 2015. a Rafflecopter giveaway