Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dear Daniel

Dear Daniel,

What’s life without a little whimsy on wheels? Throughout my twenties and early thirties I, quite accidentally fell into a life of screenwriting and independent filmmaking. We’re talking seriously, micro budget, guerilla filmmaking. Long hours, little if any pay for people involved, nothing ideal involved. Along the way we met some great actors (Donavon Shain, Paul Reynolds, Vicki Jones, James Tackett, Stacey Gillespie, Jennifer Boeringer, & Joyce Casey). Met great friends, Pamela Turner, (yes, the Pam Turner of my many posts). 

She came in for an audition as Grace Donovan in a screenplay that is in its umpteenth incarnation. Missy and I thought it was a simple romantic drama and in competition at Nashville. But, as Kevin Smith once put about certain works of his, You’re the Reason, is as indie fuck as it gets. It weaves tale incorporation addiction, mental illness, abuse in all its forms.

But that film didn’t get made, we reconnected with Pam when she became the DP on Too Far From Texas. Mine and Missy’s first foray into indie as fuck filmmaking. Solid script. With four fantastic actors, and two complete unprofessional. Working in the hottest and humid temps that year without a/c because interfered with budget level sound equipment. We dealt with prima donnas who were constantly changing their lines making it ultimately impossible to edit the film. We were green and at times the inmates were running the asylum.

Our second foray into film, the hero (our lead) showed up hung over and proceeded to drop his lines making a short film shoot into an agonizing affair where the competent actor caught it like a dread disease. However, the competent actor was also a graphic designer and created a fabulous movie poster for us. We were able to edit the film (also an indie as fuck affair) and were able to screen it for a small cast and crew. We entered it in a multitude of film festivals, but again solid script, solid cast, cheap equipment. You do with what you have and what you can afford.

The third film we shot and cast, we had a superb script, a fantastic cast, and we  we’re thwarted by a hurricane. By the time we finished shooting I was exhausted. And indie as fuck filmmaking is hard as hell. I was burnt out and I’d decided I didn’t want to write screenplays or make movies anymore.

I just wasn’t built for the grind. I was still getting better. I wasn’t at a place where I could handle that much stress. Where I was responsible for dealing with the different personalities when I could hardly handle my own.

So I turned to novel writing. In 2009 I saw this movie, you may have heard of it, Casino Royale. In May of 2010 I wrote a novel, Another Way to Die. It sat on my hard drive until November of the same year. When Missy’s dad was in the hospital dying from the botched liver transplant surgery he’d received. I had a few scripts on my hard drive as well. I submitted them to a film festival. And the book to Lyrical Press. I never heard back from the festival. Lyrical Press asked for an R&R (a revise and resubmit). Under the mentorship of Julie Butcher I burned it to ground saving what I wanted and rewriting from start to finish. In February of 2011 I attended digicon. I submitted the book to six publishers. 4 of them offered me a contract. I went with MuseItUp. And well, 28 contracts, 4 Amazon Bestsellers, 4 publishers, a new job as marketing director for a small press, 7 preditor and editor awards, 2 Moondance International Film Festival Awards, and the 2013 Fright Night Film Fest Award for Best SciFi Screenplay I stand ready to do something I thought I would never do again.

Make an indie as fuck movie. Only, this time it will be a documentary based loosely on this blog, and the bestselling memoir it inspired.

People need to know things.

Like there is a light at the end of some pitch black tunnels if you are suffering from mental illness, and no, it’s not a train.

People with mental illnesses are NOT freaks, lazy, or any other derogatory term that comes to mind. We are simply sick and in need of treatment and with treatment, recovery and great things are possible.

I am also a survivor of extreme childhood sex abuse. As the previous post talked about, I brook very little argument about this subject. This documentary is meant to take away the taboo that puts the blame ERRONEOUSLY on any victim of abuse whether its rape, physical, emotional, or psychological violence. 

To talk about subjects that when hidden do their most damage and lets the abuser off the hook.
This is a passion project for me. And I’m going set up a fund me, indigogo, or kickstarter campaign. I don’t know if I’ll raise the full amount or 3-5K I need. But that’s my next project. After I write the last few thousand words of Devil’s Backbone I will be faced with many things to do. Getting a script/shot list prepared. Getting funding.

Edits on Bella Morte:Beginnings. Reading Gunpowder and Lead: Outlaw for my partner on that project. Lining up publicity for Beginnings. Lining up marketing for Hekate Press.

And of course next month I hear back on something I thought I’d never do again. Write screenplays and enter them in competition. This one Nashville Film Festival’s Screenwriting Competition.

So, now you’ve inspired me to write this blog. To publish a memoir. And a documentary. Along with all these other good things. Whoever is reading this, you are all my silent witnesses. But Daniel, or whoever is reading on his behalf, thank you for making Casino Royale. It changed my life. 2011 I turned a corner in my treatment. But you work changed my career, it gave me one. It helped me make my own dreams come true. And for that I could never thank you enough.


Amy McCorkle

Monday, January 20, 2014

Dear Daniel

Dear Daniel,

I think sometimes people forget this. I doubt you do. Given you did a PSA going so far as to dress up like a woman for effect to show the inequality that exists still between the sexes.

I’ve been struggling today. Not with bipolar disorder. But with issues like trust, boundaries, and sex and how sometimes a guy will say it was ‘just a misunderstanding’ after stepping passed those boundaries and shoving you back down into a cesspool where your past that you’ve worked so hard to pull yourself out of still seems to swim around, waiting for your next boegyman to push under.

Not this time. This time I’m not going to be quiet. This time I’m going to shout this offenders actions from the rooftops.

You’re the Reason, is a screenplay that I wrote with Missy Goodman. It has been through countless drafts. It has gotten heat from three different producers including the likes of Lee Daniels and Zide/Perry, and god me help a producer’s name I cannot remember, but do remember he produced a film with Steven Segal. I met him at B. Dalton’s where You’re the Reason was born.

So why am I telling you any of that? To shout this one essential truth Missy and I wanted to get out with our fictional tale. Boegymen can be anywhere. Look normal. Wear a charismatic mask. Be an old friend. Be someone you once took under your wing. Sometimes on the news you go oh he looks like a predator. But beware they hide in the most insidious, banal of places.

So today I was writing and talking to an ‘old friend’ on Facebook. I had indeed once taken them under my wing when we were in high school. Today, as I was emerging on the other side of my multitude of flying high manias and crashing to low lows I was happy to be getting my writing mojo back, as I had been fighting for it since late last month and for the most of this one.

Mind you, this person is married. And has a child.

Now, what a person does on their own time one thing. I don’t begrudge them that right. I said as much. But I also said I have hang ups and am not into a friends with benefits kind of relationship to ‘take the edge off’. I figured that was the end of that part of the conversation. While I was offended he seemed to get the message that I wasn’t interested.

So ladies, gentleman, young, old, liberal, and conservative, republican and democrat. Here is a lesson I want you to lean in and listen to closely. NO MEANS FUCKING NO!

He started to skype me. I told him I didn’t have a webcam or a microphone. He begged me to open. I said if it’s profane I want no part of it. This computer, like most of my life, is on freaking loan. He said it was just a video hello. The connection failed. But later on it came through. And yes little boys and girls perhaps I should have known better, but here is the morale of that bullshit tale, I TRUST people. Yes, even though I had the kind of childhood that I did with my biological father, his brother and his friends I somehow retained that sense of trust. So I opened it and got the shock of my life of grown ass man dancing around with his dick in his hands. I instantly cut the feed.

I told him I was offended. I told him I’d been abused growing up and just how bad it had been. I unfriended him and blocked him.

I’m going to give him the courtesy he did not give me and I won’t share his identity. While I have nothing against those working in the porn industry, I have no desire to be subjected to it.

So what happened to me? I didn’t want to come out of my room. I crawled into bed. I cried. Didn’t have the energy to write. Felt shame like I had done something wrong. And I FUCKING DARE some ASSHOLE to post to MY blog that I should have known better. I’ve known this guy since I was 17 and he was 15. I’m 38 now. I was so depressed I couldn’t write. Not even a simple email to one of my closest friends to say what had happened. I didn’t want to leave my room. Understand, my room is not that big.

This jerk came into my life and really pushed my back against the wall and made me pull upon resources I shouldn’t have had to but as I was drowning and felt I’d had my voice robbed from me I went to 
McDonald’s ate 3 burgers, 2 McChickens, 2 chocolate chip cookies, and a large coffee with three splendas and 6 creamers. I reached out to a good friend and he said he wouldn’t name the name but that I had done nothing wrong. That the guy had. Missy took my every call. She listened to my every tear and came over to the house and had chili and stayed until 9PM. And Pam answered a tear message left on her voicemail.

So in case anyone was listening to today’s lesson:
2.       Predators come in every shape and size. Be careful who you trust.
3.      And no matter what, don’t let them steal your fucking sunshine. They haven’t earned the right, and certainly don’t deserve it.

Daniel, I know I make you my silent witness. But I get to use your physicality as characters. And the one I’m writing on now is wrestling with his darker side. And it’s very cathartic for a day like today.

And tomorrow I will write like I’m on fire. I only have a hundred or so words to go tonight but I will be ready to write up a storm tomorrow.


Amy McCorkle

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Dear Daniel (and All Who Read This Today, Thank You)

Dear Daniel,

You know I wasn’t going write one of these things for awhile. But two things have sent me back to this memoir. One a good, no possibly GREAT thing has happened. And second has really PISSED me off. So let’s start with the good, no possibly great thing that has happened.

I pitched mine and Missy’s many drafted screenplay, currently in competition at Nashville and Indie Gathering, You’re the Reason, to Gina Deeming, an Executive Producer on the independent film, Mark of the Veil, now touring film festivals she told me to give it to their director.

Of course that just means it’s going to be read and may be going nowhere fast. But let me explain something. That screenplay is extremely special to Missy and me. I won’t downplay that fact. I mean it was the first screenplay to get any heat at all. First from Zide/Perry, then from Lee Daniels, both ultimately passing on it.

The versions it has been through. A close but not quite there deal with Lee Hardin (a local indie), and bungled attempt at working with a producer who didn’t want to work with a couple of divas (arrogant youth, I’ll cop to it). But here, it seems the universe has offered us another opportunity.

I thought Grant Wilson was the real deal, (and believe me when I saw that he is all that and a bag of chips professionally and genuine to boot), but Gina Deeming seems to have seen fit to sprinkle her fairy dust on me and Missy and perhaps give us a chance to see that script that we first penned in January of 1999 on the screen at least in Film Festivals and possibly distributed in some fashion or another.

But until that grain of a possibility blossoms to its full potential I turn to what has me TOTALLY ticked off.
I don’t know what it is that makes assholes come out of the woodwork when they see a vulnerable young adult struggling to come to terms with a mental illness that is plaguing them in a public way but I WORDS for that person who decided to strike out against my cousin who is rocking the writing world with her Ravings of a Coffee Crazed Writer blog and her heartfelt addition to the By the Seat of Your Pants blog.

She was attacked for DARING to share the fact she has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. What she has done and accomplished in the wake of the newness of the illness is nothing short of brave, courageous and spectacular.
And some nameless JACK ASS has dared to call her out and say ‘quit wearing your mental health like a fashion statement’ to which I say fuck off and go fuck yourself. The way Rebekah is rocking the bipolar diagnosis is nothing short of stellar. Open and vulnerable and direct she is facing misunderstanding in places no human should have to and to have you, nameless stranger attack her for her seeking out a way to cope and conquer this illness without any shame or fear of retribution? You’re the one waving your arrogant ignorance and a modicum of ability to string a put down together, you are the picture people see in Webster’s when they look up the word coward.

Whereas when they look up the picture of my cousin, Rebekah McAuliffe, college student, aspiring author, liberal idealist not afraid to speak her mind in family full of loving if not conservative idealists not afraid to let their daughter be who she is.

Bipolar disorder is a lifelong struggle. Even those of us who have come from a dark place to a triumphant one have support, medicine, and the encouragement and acknowledgment of the disease and truly how hard it is in the beginning and how it can come back and bite you in the ass later in life if you mistakenly believe it just ‘goes away’.

So Rebekah, rock your author’s aspirations. Rock seeking treatment from your counselor and NAMI. Rock your education. And most importantly when cowards like these attack you? Don’t take the bait. Because right behind you here I am, and that pencil necked jerk, whether they be male or female is gonna know they bit off way more than they can possibly chew.

Daniel, if you’re reading this I hope you know how much your work inspires me in times such as these, when I can’t possibly do enough to protect my cousin from the ugliness of cowards such as the one who chose to attack her.


Amy McCorkle

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Dear Daniel

Dear Daniel,

There are people out there that I know and love that are struggling I won’t them to know they are not alone. That there are those of us out there struggling just the same. And then there is what I want to talk about today.

A path diverging. My small press career is booming. A job as Marketing Director. Juggling series I never thought possible. Screenplays and a teleplay in competition. It seems like I should be content. But I googled film schools in Kentucky. And one pulled up in Louisville. And it was affordable, if I can just get someone to co-sign on a loan.

I’ve been seeking everyone’s advice. My father’s (John’s) and really I know no one who can co-sign for me. And my brand of seeking out people at conventions and conferences and FB and twitter seems to be doing quite well for me.

The night of the Golden Globes Missy read a large chunk of Kevin Smith’s Tough Shit to me. And in it he recounts how he and his friend/producer Scott Mosier witnessed and I quote, “That’s when Eisener released the kraken”. That’s a funny as shit story because Kevin lived it and he has talent for painting a picture with words and telling stories like few others can.

I sought counsel from my editor at Target Audience Magazine and she pointed out I have carved out a nice career for myself by writing in the small press, attending conventions, and signings and networking that way.
And if anyone besides my cousin is reading this then they know this is true. 28 contracts, by the end of this year 14 books will be out. 4 Amazon bestsellers, 3 successful blogs. 1 Screenplay win 2013 Fright Night Film Fest Best SciFi. 7 Preditor & Editors Top Ten Awards over 3 years 2011-2013. 2 Moondance International Film Festival Semi-Finalist Awards 2012 & 2013. Recently named Marketing Director of Hekate Press. Mentoring young writers struggling with mental health issues.

Mentored by the likes of Julie Butcher, Christine Bell, Tom Sawyer, Rich Ridings, and Grant Wilson.
No one has ever handed me a ten grand check for anything to make things easy on me. So perhaps the film school opportunity is not for me. My family is being uncooperative in even saying they would provide me with transportation.

At this point I must thank my friends Pamela Turner and Melissa Goodman. They keep me going when perhaps my illness would seek to keep me down. They are the special ingredients to my success.

My publishers, Muse, Hydra, and Blackwyrm and all my friends there.

Bertena Varney, for blessing me with the grain of an idea for a character that seems to be my breakthrough story to the mainstream.

And especially my friend and boss, Delilah K Stephans, who believed in my capabilities and strength to bless with the position of Marketing Director. Next to Missy and Pam she really has been great.

Actually there are too many people to thank. But perhaps the film school opportunity will pass me by and Nashville will be some luck my way. Or even the First Look Project. Or even the Author’s Fair Competition.

Anyway, may your life continued to blessed, and may I get off this merry-go-round of emotion.


Amy McCorkle