Streaming of Previous Men of Gray Movies?

August 5, 2012

mog2-deck-fight-4Many of you have been reaching out to us, asking about the best way to get your hands on a copy of either Men of Gray and Men of Gray 2, Flight of the Ibis, now that they are no longer in active distribution in many markets.

Here’s a message from G Anthony Joseph, actor and producer of both:

Dear Gracious fans,

We will finally be re-releasing Flight of the Ibis in the coming months.  We have been working behind the scenes, creating a Facebook presence for the movie, which will have a countdown launch pad to keep you apprised of the online release date.  Using the Men of Gray II Facebook page as our news and info platform, we hope to post updates, such as pictures, previously unreleased behind-the-scenes videos, music mog2-bikerGang-2videos, and more, all leading up to the re-release.


G Anthony Joseph

Stay tuned…


The Weakest Link—Lack of Vision

October 4, 2011


The chain be broken, broken indeed.

By which I’m referring to my goal, introduced in the blog Don’t Break the Chain, to write at least once daily for the entire year.  The idea was to create a daily cross-off (on a linear daily calendar chart of writing) that, together with the cross-offs before it, form an unbroken chain.

But I broke it.  Big time.  Like nearly three months of breakage.

What happened?

Lack of vision happened. I hit a major roadblock in the script that I was working on and, when I couldn’t figure a way past it, I lost steam.  And, you know what they say; Without a vision, the scripts perish.

Or something like that.

Then, life happened.  A new job – the kind that hasn’t the decency to contain itself within a 40-hour workweek – combined with a new interest that was taking more and more of my free time (running) – put the screenplay on a back burner, not even simmering.  Just collecting dust.

So, let’s build a new chain!

That’s my goal.  The contract job has ended, and I’ve got some new ideas on how to fix the script, and that means I’ve got a vision of reinstating my New Year’s goal, even if it’s got that summer-long gap. 

Two chains are better than none.   Smile

Don’t Break the Chain

February 16, 2011

In early January, I read an inspiring article in an e-mail newsletter published by The Writer’s Store, which introduced Jerry Seinfeld’s “Don’t Break the Chain” writing productivity tip.  Applying Seinfeld’s technique, I’ve successfully achieved a goal of daily creative writing since I started applying the technique January 10.

Deceptively simple, really

Basically, to make sure that Seinfeld kept himself progressing creatively, he hung a a large year-at-a-glance type of calendar on the wall.  Each day, he permitted himself to put a big fat red X on the calendar for that day if, and only if, he wrote new material.

That’s it.  X

But here’s the beauty of it; one red X is no big deal, but when you start creating an unbroken “chain” of red X’s, then ya’ got something.  You’ve got a chain that represents something: the real work of a repeated endeavor.  And it’s on your wall, so you see it every day, getting longer and longer.  XXXXXXXXXXXXXX

And the more impressive it gets, the more you don’t want to let it break!

Next thing you know, you’ve got yourself a daily habit.  At least that’s how it’s worked for me, I’m happy to report.

But with a couple of changes

Along with the article, The Writer’s Store provided a link to a free printable 365 day calendar.  Nice of them.  And, of course, it drives traffic to their site.  So, everybody’s a winner, I guess.

Except that I didn’t care for the freebie, which looks like this:

I don’t like it because it doesn’t tell you what day of the year each box represents.  To  my brain, that’s a major flaw in the tool, because I would forget if I marked the X for today, and I’d be able to justify the act of sneaking in an X onto a square because the square isn’t committed to a certain date, you see?

So I made my own version, which works much better for me.  If you think theirs is better, knock yourself out; it’s free.  Here’s where you can get it.  But if you think my style of calendar works better for you, have at it.  Click here to get the PowerPoint document.  As you can see, mine shows the full year, but also commits each box to a specific date:

You can either print it out (and then post it prominently near your PC to physically mark the daily X you earn with a marker) or you can do the marking on your PC; you’ll note that the document includes some progress “lines” that you can personalize and stretch out to cover each new day:

progress-bar-egOne procedural thing I changed: The Seinfeld article is geared to writers in general.  As such, its perspective is that you can write anything to get a red X on the calendar—blogs, scripts, articles, a memoir, whatever.  As they put it, “It can be anything, as long as you’re actively and routinely pushing yourself.”

I agree with the actively pushing yourself part, but my interest is to be successful as a creative writer—as a screenwriter or novelist.  I already write daily for my WriteWorks clients: web copy, e-mail articles, corporate blogs, and such.  So, for me, getting a red X would be a silly cheat.  Thus, I only allow myself to put an X on the calendar if I do creative writing.  I set the bar low in that I need only spend five minutes to get my red X.

But, as you know if you’re a writer, getting the fingers typing is often the hardest part;  once you’ve got the keyboard clicking, it’s easy to keep going.  That often happens for me; one paragraph turns into two or four or eight.

And it really, really works!

So far, I’ve earned my X every single day but one—January 19.  And that one missed day was/is painful.  Ugly!  Not sure what happened; I guess it just wasn’t a habit yet and I awoke the next day to the terrible realization that I didn’t earn my X.  But that one ugly blank spot spurred me on to never let it happen again.  And it hasn’t, as you can see: 


New Year’s Eve Brings Direction to the Story

January 8, 2011

For the last three months, Producer G. and I have been thoroughly distracted by other projects, other work, and by financing efforts, which has put MOG3 story development on a back burner for a while. 

But good news: We had extensive meetings over the New Year holiday, and the story is moving forward again.

Moving forward AGAIN?—But why had it stopped?

I delivered a 30-page step outline of the story way back in early Spring.  But G. was moving into production on another feature film project, putting this one firmly on hold.  I stopped writing after delivering the outline because, as I explained in this April ‘09 post, without producer feedback, further screenplay development could easily be a waste of time.  

Then, in early October at the close of G.’s conflicting production, I had a brief phone conversation with him.  He had just read the outline. 

And how did that talk go?

G. was generally pleased with the direction the story was taking, but he was concerned with the scope of the story—not in terms of its costs for moviemaking, but in terms of the story itself: with how much we were trying to say or show. 

From that call, it was clear that, before I went any further, we needed a legitimate story meeting to go over his concerns and agree on how I would fix the story to resolve those concerns.  Since we both had conflicting projects, the story was shelved until we could meet.

Which we just did in late December.

So then, what was the rub?

G.’s concern was primarily with the story transition from Joe Cameron the police officer to Joe Cameron the statesman—that we planned to have Joe start off as the former and, at the Act 2/Act 3 point in the story, to take on the latter.   After reading the step outline, he felt that it may be too much story to tell.

Mind you, that’s no small concern. 

One of the underlying themes of the story was the idea that, in a country where the government is dysfunctional, a cop’s best efforts to be an effective law enforcement officer are virtually impotent—that you need to repair or create a healthy legislative and judicial process to have a stable and functioning society.  Thus, since our story conceptualization meetings almost exactly two years ago, the basic storyline assumption was that high ranking police officer Joe Cameron would take radical steps to save his beloved Caribbean homeland, first by unorthodox (and ethically questionable) law enforcement tactics and then, when that fails, by taking on the government, presumably by not only outing the corrupt politicians but by attempting to become a statesman to fill the leadership void.

It all sounded good when we brainstormed the idea. 

It even looked good when I wrote an 8-page synopsis of the story. 

But when I broke it down into a detailed 30-page step treatment, we realized the problem we had on our hands; the story could make a great novel, but it was too freakin’ big to be a movie.  To keep the length of the movie reasonable (under, say, two hours) we would have to rush through the story phases to squeeze it all in.  But doing so would strain the credibility of character arc; if we could not fully develop the major character realizations and transitions, these story transitions would likely feel phony—unrealistic.

How we decided to fix this:

The short story on how the story will change looks something like this:

  1. Kill off the original third act
  2. Build up the legal proceedings phase, originally the end of the second act, to become the new third act

I know—this sounds huge.  That’s only because it is.  More on this later….

Music Vids from MOG2

September 20, 2010

Due to recent requests, I have sought to find and make available the two 1995 music videos to support the 2006 release of Men of Gray II, Flight of the Ibis.

Unfortunately, I have only been able to locate bits and pieces of each of these two historic Trinidad & Tobago music videos, and only in a low quality VHS copy.  If if find better, I’ll post them.  Meanwhile, here are the snippets of these videos:

We created the music videos to promote the movie, as you can tell by the way they are cut together with scenes from Flight of the Ibis.

  • Love and Pain was written and performed by Tricia Lee Kelshall.
  • Winning Lane was written by Sean Bartholomew (also known as Adrian Bartholomew), and performed by Sean, Tricia, and David Rudder.
  • Both videos (and the movie) were directed by me, Ric Moxley.
  • Sean Bartholomew created the musical score for the movie.
  • David Rudder and Tricia Lee Kelshall were both in the movie.  David performed as himself in one scene and Tricia was a co-star and the female lead.

All three of these Trinidadian musicians are still active.   See recent news on Sean/Adrian here, here, and here.  See Tricia on youtube, performing Mindcircus, the hit single from the 2001 Way Out West – Intensify album, which reached #39 in the UK charts.  David Rudder’s Facebook fan page is a good way to stay abreast of his music and recent news, or from his official Web site

Finally, here’s a nice picture of the three of them together, taken by Trinidadian photographer Mark Lyndersay behind the scenes during production of Winning Lane:

Transforming caterpillars

August 24, 2010

I’ve added a couple new quotes to my writer quotations collection—one quotation for the story structure section, and one for the writer motivation section—and both from screenwriter Blake Snyder.  I hope you find them as motivating or thought provoking as I did.  The first:

“All stories are about transformation.  In every story a caterpillar becomes a butterfly.”

It’s hard to think of a major film in which the lead character or characters did not go through a major transformation.  And as Robert, a writer-director friend of mine, pointed out yesterday, this is probably one of the least realistic aspects of movies because, in real life, people rarely change.  Not real, root-structure changes. 

Which, I figure, is why character transformation makes for such good storytelling:

  • We all have this vision of what we want to be, even as we wallow in the quagmire of who we are.
  • We all know those whose persons who never change and we desperately wish they would.

So when a story can take us to a world where people really change, it inspires us—gives us hope. 

That’s my theory.  And Blake Snyder’s, apparently.  His words are a good reminder that writers must let their characters not only affect their world but be effected by it.

And, in other news…

Blake Snyder gave this advice to yet-unknown screenwriters, which he wrote on his blog the day before he died in July of 2009:

“Have fun! The most important thing to do is to love what you’re doing. That way, getting better at it isn’t a struggle, it’s a pleasure.” 

I love that.  What a wonderful reminder when one is getting bogged down in the business of trying to create a screenwriting career that you got into the business because, hopefully, you enjoyed the art of creating with words and language.  Yeah, sure, it’s hard work.  But so is mountain climbing or playing soccer.  If writing isn’t just as fun, why not flip burgers instead?  Much less stressful.

Where Are They Today? Joe’s Son from Men of Gray II

August 21, 2010

Matthew Kong as “Sean Cameron”

I was recently contacted by a Trinidadian I’d never met—a young woman named Sydney.  It turns out that she is the younger sister of the boy who played Sean Cameron (Joe Cameron’s son), in the 1996 Men of Gray II movie (aka Flight of the Ibis).  Sydney and her mother Cheryl were trying to find a copy of the 1996 movie on DVD, which is apparently very hard to find in Trinidad.

Matthew then and Matthew today

The actor who played young Sean, Matthew Kong, is now fully grown and still living in Trinidad.  Here is Matthew as Sean in 1994 when we shot the movie:

sean_mog2_a sean_mog2_b

And here is Matthew today in a recent snapshot:


I’m not certain what Matthew is doing now, but hopefully he or one of his family members will respond to this and fill us in.

The difficulty in fulfilling the family’s request 

With Men of Gray II being released so long ago, and into the low budget market, the movie was not originally distributed as a DVD at all.  It was theatrically released in several countries (not the U.S.) and available in TV markets and VHS worldwide.  But not DVD. 

Since I was not aware of a place in Trinidad where his family could buy the movie, I pieced together a collection of video snippets from the movie that featured Matthew.  It’s not as handsome a gift as a DVD (which I don’t have either!), but this online 8-minute montage was well-received by the family. 

You can see the Matthew-as-Sean clips here on YouTube.

Screenplay—Who’s Your Audience?

May 20, 2010

What a productive story session that was last night!  I had my weekly meeting at a local coffee shop with fellow writer Jeff Schnaufer that, as usual and appropriate, was focused on the screenplay he and I are collaborating on.  But because he had recently started reading my step outline quasi-treatment for Men of Gray III (the inspiration for MoG-Blog), we went off course on a 10-minute tangent to discuss the step outline for Men of Gray III.

The tangent—Who is the screenplay’s audience?

…and how does that knowledge of the who the intended reader is affect the way you write a screenplay compare to, say, how you would write the same story as a novel?  Because, while most literary forms are written to be read by the consumer, not so the screenplay.  I’d guess that more than 99.9% of those who saw the movie Titanic, for instance, probably have not read the screenplay, and probably never will.

So the audience for a screenplay is who, if not the viewing public?  I discuss that at length in this blog about The Princess Bride screenplay, so just the short answer here: the first draft is likely for a producer or investor.

And that was got us on our MOG3 tangent last night.  In Jeff’s notes to me about the step outline, he mentioned that he had sniffed out the suspected mole in lead character Joe Cameron’s drug squad in the first scene.  He was thinking it should be less obvious.

My question back to him: But how obtuse should the screenplay be about a character’s truth, considering that the target reader is a potential producer?  In other words—

How much do you reveal in a screenplay . . . and when?

While you may want a movie viewer to catch on to who the bad guys are, for example, at the moment you introduce them into the story, you might want the producer to know—to understand that this character or that character, though barely noticed here, becomes central to the story later on.  Because the producer is not just reading the screenplay as a story, but as a blueprint for making a movie.

Jeff disagreed on the grounds that, if there is a way for the writer to make the screenplay a compelling read without revealing to the producer that a significant story element or character is significant—effectively saying “so pay attention here”—then all the better.

I think Jeff’s point is valid.  Of course, I can also think of examples from William Goldman screenplays in which he literally tells the reader things to the extent of, “We don’t know who this is yet, but that’s okay, because we soon will.”  i.e., he is literally telling the reader what he wants the viewer to know or think at this point in the story.

And who am I to say that William Goldman’s style is invalid?

But the inspiring moment of the coffee shop discussion with Jeff last night was in the practical application of his—I still say valid—assertion.  In other words, while a Bill Goldman technique for calling out a characters significance will do, if a better way presents itself, take it. 

For the MOG3 screenplay, he felt that there is indeed no need to reveal this particular character’s truth early in the screenplay, because there’s a better way to do so later in the story.  When we analyzed why it was bugging Jeff that he knew a certain cop was the mole, it had more to do with the fact that:

  1. The action that tipped him off seemed extraneous, so it felt like a plant.
  2. It would be easy to be more subtle in the first scene by capitalizing on an opportunity in an upcoming scene to begin revealing the mole’s true character.

That, ultimately, was the motivational part of our talk—that the most minor of tweaks to an upcoming scene would let me easily reveal to the reader what the viewer will start to sniff out at the same time—that I can keep the police squad’s mole disguised in the opening moments without harming the producer’s or investor’s reading.

And so I shall.