Tuesday, February 21, 2017

It never rains in Southern California

Any time it rains in Los Angeles, even if it’s a couple of drops, the local TV channels go nuts. STORM WATCH ’17. After all, this town is not built for clouds, much less rain. When buying a car, windshield wipers are an option like racing stripes.

But local channels scramble to report the showers with team coverage. Field reporters are dispatched to outlying intersections where there are large puddles. We’re told to stay inside until May. And that’s fine until…

We REALLY have a storm.

Like we experienced last Friday. Holy shit! A five-year drought ended in five hours. This was an Irwin Allen disaster movie. The rain was torrential, the winds were howling. And the field reporters were getting drenched.

Poor Eric Spillman of Channel 5 has been doing these reports for fifteen years. He must say “this is Eric Spillman Channel 5 News” every time he steps into a shower.

The other stations just send out their Barbie doll reporters. So poor Heather and Amber and Ambyr have big make-up crises. But those are the kinds of sacrifices you must make to be considered a serious journalist.

The big problem in Southern California is we have terrible drainage, especially in the suburbs. Housing tracts sprung up like weeds in the early ‘50s and proper drainage was not taken into consideration. Geologists rarely were consulted so many canyon homes were built on topsoil. My aunt’s home slid into their swimming pool during the downpour of ’62.

Beachfront homes offered little protection against high tides and angry oceans so to this day you see major celebrities filling sandbags to buttress their glass palaces against the raging sea and storm.

And then there are the mudslides – that effectively cuts off travel along the Pacific Coast Highway and the canyons. Poor Barbra Streisand can’t go anywhere!

Trees always seem to get uprooted. And this hits close to home. Behold our next door neighbor’s tree a few years ago. Yes… YIKES.

Power is out for much of the city because it seems the entire metropolis gets its electricity from one power line. So if a tree takes it down we’re blacked out from the future Mexican wall to Santa Barbara.

And everyone’s house leaks.  Roofers will be busy for the next three years. 

Then there are those pesky sinkholes.  Two cars fell into this one Friday night.


We came through the storm fine. Thank you to those who expressed concern. The next time there’s rain (probably later this week) unless cars are floating by my TV screen I don’t want to see the graphic STORM WATCH ’17.  And let Eric Spillman cover something that's indoors, willya? 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Can comedy save the nation?

I thought this appropriate to write on "Presidents' Day."  

In 1870 a corrupt mobster known as Boss Tweed led an organization that basically controlled New York City politics. Through his influence he was able to stack the city with elected officials who were in his pocket. He then used these officials to defraud the city the equivalent of billions today. Personality-wise, he was quite ostentatious, proudly wearing large diamonds while living in an opulent mansion on Fifth Avenue.

Harpers Weekly magazine wrote piece after piece denouncing this criminal, but most of his supporters were essentially illiterate so the articles were not widely read.

But then their political cartoonist, Thomas Nast, decided to go on a crusade against Tweed. Week after week his cartoons exposed Tweed for the despicable criminal he was, and the public was finally able to get the message through the visuals.

In the next election most of Tweed’s cronies were unceremoniously booted out of office and a few years later Tweed himself was convicted and sent to prison.

So why do I tell this story? Substitute SNL for Thomas Nast cartoons.

I can’t begin to applaud SNL enough not only for their stand against Boss Trump but for how well they are delivering the message. The writing is superb and the performers are amazing. Kate McKinnon is the next Lucy or Carol Burnett. Melissa McCarthy and Alec Baldwin have absolutely nailed their targets, as did Tina Fey in previous elections. And the rest of the cast is equally terrific.
SNL is now getting unheard of numbers – especially in the coveted 18-34 demographic. But it goes beyond that. They are attracting viewers of all ages. And they’re drawing a larger audience than practically every primetime network program. Add to that the Live +1 and +7 and the clips from the show that now go viral each week, and it’s clear that Saturday Night Live has become a genuine force.

This says two things to me. One: If you show something on TV that everyone wants to watch, large broad audiences are still possible. The argument that TV has to be niche now to succeed doesn’t necessarily hold water.

And two: Just as Thomas Nast’s cartoons got the population’s attention, SNL might just have a big impact. Lots of young folks who really didn’t care much about the last election are now opening their eyes to the chaos this administration has wrought. And we can only hope that they will react accordingly.

Boss Tweed tried to discredit Nast and even strong-arm Harper’s Magazine into silencing him. (Sound familiar?). To the publication’s credit, it stuck by its cartoonist. NBC is not backing down anytime soon, that’s for sure.  Not with THOSE numbers. 

Sure there are news commentators that are railing at the disarray in the White House. And newspapers are pointing out daily that the support team the president is surrounding himself with is every bit as corrupt and self-serving as Boss Tweed’s lackeys.  They (Trumps appointees)  have absolutely no interest whatsoever in serving the voters who entrusted Trump to lead on their behalf.

But that public is not reading those articles. Or watching those commentaries.

They are, however, watching SNL. Just as with Mr. Nast’s cartoons, COMEDY can reach people where other outlets can’t. At one time Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite delivered the message. Now it’s Kate McKinnon and Alec Baldwin.

Boss Trump continues to lash out at the press, but like everything else, he’s missing the point.

COMEDY is mightier than the sword.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Meet Treva Silverman

CNN (when it's not being the enemy of the people) is airing an excellent new documentary series on the history of Comedy.  This week's episode focuses on women -- comedians, actresses, and writers.   One of the writers they feature (all too briefly) is Treva Silverman.  Five years ago I wrote a post introducing you to Treva and I thought now would be a good time to re-post it.  If you watch the show (and I recommend that you do) you'll have a better appreciation for how much of a contribution this super-talented lady has made to comedy and television.
A lot is being made of this being the year of women comedy writers. All the WHITNEY/CHELSEA crude girl sitcoms were created by women. So by inference it's easy to get the impression that TV's ladies of laughter studied their craft at frat houses.

Not so. There have been many women writers who travel exclusively on the high road. One in particular is Treva Silverman.

Her comedy comes from character – keenly observing the behavior and absurdity of real people and real situations. Her laughs are hard earned because they derive from humanity not the easier route – cynicism. I’ve always believed that “only the truth is funny” and Treva’s built a nice career doing just that.

You probably have seen her name on many episodes of the MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW. Without making her sound like Jackie Robinson, Treva was one of the first women TV comedy writers and really did pave the way for others to follow. As with Jackie, she did it with talent, poise, and the ability to steal home.

Treva’s career began in New York. While playing and singing at piano bars at night, she wrote songs and 13 off-Broadway children’s musicals. That led to writing sketches for musical revues at the prestigious “Upstairs at the Downstairs”. Other revues employed as many as twenty sketch writers. “Upstairs” had one – Treva.

Carol Burnett caught her show one night and hired her to write for her first variety series, THE ENTERTAINERS. She was the only woman on staff. Knowing how writing rooms can be a bit raucous, Treva set out to prove she was one of the boys by dropping a few F-bombs the first day. One of the writers took her aside and said, “Please don’t swear. It makes us so uncomfortable.”

MADEMOISELLE magazine included her in an article about women on the rise in professions traditionally held by men. All that did was put extra pressure on her. It’s hard enough to succeed under the best of conditions, but she felt if “If I fail I bring down all womanhood”.

Treva moved to LA to write for THE MONKEES, THAT GIRL, and GET SMART. So far all womanhood was safe. And then in 1969 Jim Brooks (who she first met when she was playing at a piano bar) called and said he and Allan Burns were creating a show for Mary Tyler Moore. Would she like to be involved? As a writer not a pianist.


She stayed with the show for five years, wrote 16 episodes, won two Emmys, and was one of its major creative forces. Allan Burns credits her with being the “voice of Rhoda” (although in person Treva could not be more different from the brassy Rhoda character) and Valerie Harper called her the “Feminist conscience of the show.” The guys, to their credit, never fought her…although the feminist attitudes did have to be pointed out to them.

Treva thought THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW was the easiest and hardest job she ever had. Easiest because the show was so real. Hardest because the show was so real.

One thing she loved was that on the show she could write digressions. It wasn’t just story, story, story. Compare that to today’s sitcoms where there have to be B stories and C stories, and forty two scenes in a twenty minute show.

Needing a ditzy character to be the opposite of Rhoda, she created Georgette after seeing Georgia Engels in the Milos Foreman film, TAKING OFF. It was originally supposed to be just a couple of lines for one episode only, but Georgia was so funny everyone decided she should be a series regular.

Of the many episodes for MTM that Treva wrote, some of my favorites were “Lou & Edie Story” (Lou’s wife decides to separate), “Better Late…that’s a pun…than never” (Mary gets suspended when she writes a joke obit and the guy promptly dies), “Cover Boy” (introducing Jack Cassidy as Ted’s brother), and “Rhoda the beautiful” (where Rhoda enters a beauty contest).

Here's just a sample. In that last episode mentioned Rhoda loses twenty pounds but doesn't seem to be happy about it. When Mary wonders why she says, “Because I can never say again ‘gee, I’d look great if I lost twenty pounds’.”

After season five Treva left the show to live in Europe for several years. She came back to write pilots, movies, and was collaborating with Michael Bennett (CHORUS LINE, DREAMGIRLS) on a Broadway musical called SCANDAL. With a score by Jimmy Webb, and starring Swoozie Kurtz, Treat Williams, Victor Garber, Priscilla Lopez, and Rob Morrow it was slated for production. But unfortunately, Bennett died and the project never came to fruition. To this day Treva feels it’s the best thing she’s ever written.


Michael Douglas called her to fix ROMANCING THE STONE. Test audiences hated the Kathleen Turner character -- they thought she was too cold. Plus, they only had the budget to reshoot the first scene – where Kathleen is home alone, gets a call from her sister, and has to go save her. Treva had the solution. Give her a cat. Let her talk baby talk to the cat. Just that one bit of behavior completely won over the audience. And the rest is box office success and disappointing sequel (that I helped rewrite) history.

Recently, Treva has rewritten SCANDAL as a play. A NY Times article called it “purportedly brilliant and unproduced”. Since then there has been a flurry of interest and hopefully we’ll finally get to see it soon.

I hope Treva Silverman serves as an inspiration to young writers, not because she’s a woman or that she broke barriers, but because of her work.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

What is so great about the Dumbo ride?

Since Disneyland has been sort of a theme this week (please check out my podcast this week on the subject) I thought I would share an entry from my book WHERE THE HELL AM I?  TRIPS I HAVE SURVIVED about the day my wife, Debby and I went there.   Today is also her birthday (Happy Happy Birthday!) and I think a celebratory return trip is in order.
My wife and I went to Disneyland. Since becoming an adult this was the first time I was ever there without kids or a joint. No strollers, no giant diaper bags, no getting home and realizing we had left somebody. Also, we had never seen the adjacent California Adventure so we wanted to go before it eventually shuts down or is completely rethought.

We figured: go before the summer begins and kids are out of school. I guess that now means February. Disneyland was packed. There were lines for everything. The biggest: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Waiting, Space Mountain, and churros. The Small World attraction is closed for renovation (thank God). A big fence surrounds it. So the line was only a half an hour.

I wore a golf shirts and long pants. I was waaaay overdressed. Come on, people! At least the ratty t-shirts and torn plaid shorts should fit! You’re going to be taking pictures in those rags.

As always, the park was immaculate… although I could swear one of the 60-year-old maintenance men in an elf suit was a former producer of TAXI. And the teenagers who work there remain the nicest, perkiest, helpfulliest David Arhuleta and Carrie Underwood clones you could find this side of Stepford.

I’m guessing the teens with major imperfections like acne or no dimples are assigned to wear those bulky heavy character costumes. It was 90 degrees and Winnie the Pooh was staggering around, tripping over strollers, kicking little tykes, occasionally sticking his head in an ice cream pushcart for relief.

Happy to say that the new Pirates of the Caribbean ride wasn’t ruined by the improvements. There were a few Jack Sparrows added and a nifty Davy Jones hologram but otherwise it’s pretty much the same. Oh maybe a little less raping but the spirit of fun is still there.

To avoid standing in endless lines Disneyland now offers “Fast Passes” for most major rides. It allows you to return for wait-free boarding. We got our Fast Passes for Space Mountain at 1 PM. Our reservations were for 9:30, thus saving us fifteen minutes had we stood in the normal line.

I was a good boy this trip. I did not stand up and ask Mr. Lincoln a question nor did I buy a Mouseketeer hat, have them scroll “Vincent” then rip off one of the ears.

With all the spectacular photo-ops Disneyland provides, all day long I saw people taking pictures of each other while standing in lines. We are truly a country of idiots.

Then there are the women trying to walk all day and night in ankle strap wedges. And they wonder why they’re crippled by Fantasyland.

Gas prices are so high that for the Autopia, the cars are now just being pushed by Disney employees.

In a nod to health conscious California, Disneyland eateries now serve healthy food along with the usual fast food junk. My wife ordered a salad. It was the third one sold this year!

The irony of the Indiana Jones ride is that Harrison Ford probably can’t ride it. It’s way too violent and rugged for a 66 year-old man.

We moved over to California Adventure, which is like going from Times Square on New Year’s Eve to downtown Flint, Michigan a year after they closed the GM plant.

The only thing worth seeing is “Soarin’ Over California”. It’s a simulated hang glide tour over the state. If only I could simulate flying on American Airlines instead of actually having to fly on American Airlines.

Wandered around the park. Don’t know the names of the “lands” per se but there’s one that’s kind of rustic that my wife just called “Wilderness Shit”. They pipe in this real stirring John Williams type music and I must say, coming out of the restroom I thought there’ve been times when I could have really used this.

Next we encountered a beach boardwalk themed land. The John Williams music gave way to Beach Boys tunes on a calliope. All these years I never knew that “Surfer Girl” was a circus song.

Disney – the company that brought you “Song of the South” and tar babies now presents “Pizza Oom Mow Mow” on the pier at California Adventure.

There’s a big classic Coney Island style rollercoaster and something called the “Twilight Zone Tower of Terror”. Not wanting my first major stroke to be in a place where the paramedics all wear Peter Pan costumes I passed on both.

We returned to Disneyland, nostalgic for the days when California Adventure used to be a parking lot.

Night fell on the Magic Kingdom and it got a little chilly. No worries. There’s a clothing store every hundred feet. Me: “Excuse me, Tracy/Stacey/Kaysee/Lacy, do you have a men’s sweatshirt that doesn’t have Tinkerbell on it? Or Mickey in a wizard’s cap? Or Mulan? Or a fucking fairy castle!?” I bought a Davy Crockett coonskin cap so at least my head was warm.

Even in the evening when the crowd thinned out there was still a 45 minute wait for the aptly named Dumb-o ride.

No trip to Disneyland would be complete without a harrowing bobsled ride down the Matterhorn. It always takes me back to my idyllic childhood, going on it once with my dear sweet grandmother and hearing her drop the f-bomb.

The Haunted Mansion is now inhabited by a bi-lingual ghost. He gives spooky instructions in both English and Spanish.

Never got to Toontown. There were enough over-stimulated, sugar revved, screaming, out-of-control little hellions in all the other lands.

Following the fireworks and “Disney Dwarfs on Parade” or whatever the hell that noisy thing was, we dutifully reported to Space Mountain to take advantage of our Fast Pass. Wow! Space Mountain was always great but this new revamped version is awesome. You know they mean business when they tell you to take your glasses off. As I was crawling off the rocket sled on my hands and knees I said to my wife, “Now THAT’S a thrill ride!”

Finally, it was time to leave. Where did twelve hours and hundreds of dollars go? A half hour to catch the tram and another half hour to find our car in the parking structure the size of Liechtenstein, and we were merrily on our way (to hit massive traffic on the Santa Ana freeway at midnight).

I have always loved Disneyland. I’m not ashamed to say it. I am ashamed to wear any of those sweatshirts but even as a five year-old curmudgeon I marveled at the imagination, scope, and vision of this wondrous (albeit highly profitable) world. So I will be back. Soon. My Fast Pass reservation for the Little Nemo Submarine Voyage is November 21st at 6:30 AM.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Friday Questions

Getting you ready for the Presidents Day weekend, here are some FQ’s.

Greg starts us off.

What's the practice for referencing famous people living or dead, specifically in comedy writing, whether it's on screen or in book form? Do you have to get some kind of clearance beforehand, especially when they're used in a joke that might not be entirely flattering? Maybe drawing on a commonly held stereotype for that person (i.e. alcoholic, adulterer).

If they’re a public figure they're fair game.  You can use their name. If you show their likeness you need clearance.

If you mention them in a derogatory manner you always run the risk of a libel suit. But that’s certainly a gray area. Look at SNL.

From Mike Lonergan, Tacoma:

Starting a new radio job, did you ever find yourself saying the wrong call letters? I swear the "red phone" call I got from the program director my first night was friendly and casual, but it went like this..."Just a couple things--I'd like you to keep the music a little more up-tempo. Oh, and do you have a pencil? Write this down, K-B-R-O. That's the name of the station, not what you've been saying."

Not as a disc jockey. But I did slip up once as a baseball announcer. After doing the Orioles games for a season I moved over to Seattle. The first time we were back in Baltimore I paused for station identification and told Seattle fans they were listening to “The Baltimore Orioles Radio Network.” Oops. My partner, Dave Niehaus laughed for ten minutes.

Speaking of Dave, next month Sports Illustrated is doing a salute to the Seattle Mariners and included is a tribute to Dave that I wrote especially for the magazine. I’ll let you know when it hits the newsstands.

Keith Bodayla queries:

In looking for scripts online of shows I want to write a spec for, I've come across several people who have posted their own spec scripts online. What are your thoughts on this practice? Seems like a bad idea to me, or at least not one that would land you a job. But I could be wrong.

That’s a very bad idea. You have zero protection. And once that content is out on the web anything can happen. Someone could steal your script, put their name on it, submit it to a show, get hired, and you are completely unaware.

Do whatever you can to protect your material. Register every script with the WGA. Go here for details.

There’s enough stealing when properties are protected. Don’t make it easy for someone to rip you off.

cd1515 asks:

How much do you think being a comedy writer helped you get into baseball?

Could a guy stocking shelves at Walmart who was practicing in the bleachers on the side gotten the same shot you did?

Being a comedy writer was a double-edged sword. On one hand there were teams that were intrigued, but on the other there were teams that didn’t take my commitment seriously because of my background.

And remember, the tapes I made in the bleachers had to be good enough to warrant serious consideration. Plus, once I got my first job, the tapes had to be good enough to advance.

I’m sure there are some who think I only got these jobs because of my TV resume, but the truth is I spent years dedicated to sharpening my sportscasting skills. I didn’t ride all those buses and call games in sub freezing weather to improve my comedy writing ability.

And finally, from Liggie:

Here's a radio question. Local DJs/hosts will give commercials for a local business (usually a car dealership) and mention the great car and customer service they got from them. Do those commercials originate because the host bought the car on his own, liked it, and approached three dealer, or because the dealer offered to give a car to the station in exchange for sponsorships?

Usually the host is approached and offered the use of a car if he’ll be the dealer’s spokesperson. The key here is “use.” When the deal is up the car generally goes bye-bye.

When I was hired to announce Syracuse Chiefs baseball my one stipulation was that the team provided a car for me. They did. But it had big ads for the car dealer on both sides. I looked like an idiot driving around town in that thing.

What's your Friday Question?  I also answer them on my podcast.  Have you subscribed????

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Speaking of Disneyland...

One of the many advantages of growing up in Southern California was having Disneyland right in our own backyard. As a kid I used to love when we had out of town guests because they all wanted to go to Disneyland.

And if you had a hot date you really wanted to impress, taking her to the Magic Kingdom on a Saturday night usually allowed you to take an extra base.

We Angelinos would schlep out to Disneyland to catch musical acts. I saw the great Louis Armstrong perform on the Mark Twain riverboat. That was kind of sad, but still.

An LA high school tradition was going to Grad Night at Disneyland. Once a year in June the park would stay open all night for graduating seniors. The big destination those nights was Tom Sawyer’s Island where you sneak off into dark corners and add to the teen pregnancy problem.

Crowds in the summer were large. And it was HOT ("Death Valley Land"). Again, we locals figured out some tricks. For instance, don’t go in the middle of the day. We would arrive at about 4:00 PM, go on the rides we had to see during the day like the Jungle Boat, have dinner, and by then the sun would go down and things cooled off. After the Electrical Parade at 9:00 lots of folks went home. It was way easier to get on primo rides. We’d leave at midnight and drive home (then sleep for 48 hours).

Of course, as time went by the crowds got larger and larger to where even that trick was rendered useless. But we natives continued to search for shortcuts and the “WAZE” version of negotiating the park.

Side note: One of my favorite Disneyland attractions in the ‘60s wasn’t a ride at all. It was the Monsanto House of the Future. You just walked through this ultra modern house made entirely of plastic. A plastic house might sound ridiculous but when they finally closed the exhibit in 1967 and tried to demolish it, the wrecking ball just bounced right off of it. The one-day demolition took two weeks. Okay, side note over.

Today there are Disney theme parks all over the world. It was bizarre being in Tokyo seeing Space Mountain.

And there are Fast Passes, Fitbit-type wristbands, all kinds of different ways of experiencing the park. And that’s just what the guests see. Behind the scenes is a whole 'nother world of tunnels, surveillance control rooms, and employee areas.

Back in the early days, you could just go, enter the park, and make your way haphazardly around to the different Lands. Today you need a game plan.

With spring break coming soon I thought this would be the perfect time to devote my podcast to Disneyland/Disney World/whatever they call it in France. I’ve got a great guest, Greg Ehrbar, who worked for Disney for years and offers fantastic tips for getting the most out of your Mickey Mouse outing. We also talk about those tunnels and surveillance centers and what it’s like to work there.

Also, I tell the story of how I heard my dear sweet grandmother drop the F-bomb for the first time. So many precious memories from the Happiest Place on Earth.

I invite you to click on podcast at the top of the blog and join us for a lively discussion of Uncle Walt’s playground.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Episode 7: Tips on how to go to Disneyland and Disney World


The Magic Kingdom is this week’s theme and Ken has an expert who will give you helpful tips and secrets on how to make your stay at Disneyland or Disney World the best vacation ever. When is the best time to go? How is the best way to get on your favorite rides? Did any famous celebrities work there? And what don’t you see when you go to one of the Disney parks? Also, Ken shares some of his memories of Disneyland and how he heard his dear sweet grandmother drop the F-bomb for the first time.

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Listen to the Hollywood & Levine podcast!

How to write an art house movie

I can’t call it a “foreign” movie per se because depending upon where you are, American films are foreign movies. But these are the flicks we Yankees find playing at the nearby art houses. They’re all subtitled. They’ve all won seventeen film festival grand prizes that no one has ever heard of. And most are very similar.

Recently I saw A MAN CALLED OVE (or, as I like to call it: FOUR FUNERALS AND A WEDDING), which is Swedish and up for an Academy Award. It was likeable and seemed to touch all the heartstring bases. And it got me thinking – what if I wanted to write a movie like this? What are the elements that I would need? After exhaustive research (thinking back to the many art house films I’ve seen) I’ve concluded these are the things that must be included:

Your protagonist must be middle-aged and cranky. Life has let him down somehow. Often he is tortured by the past. And always he feels guilty for something.

He’s very independent but usually someone looks after him – a wife, daughter, hot young neighbor.

He befriends a young person. There must be at least two “seeing life through their young eyes” scenes.

He lives in bleak surroundings. And the weather is always bad. There’s never anything in his kitchen. His modest possessions are all reminders of the past. Sonja’s favorite bathroom plunger, that sort of thing.

We watch him do boring mundane shit for half the movie.

He must begrudgingly take in a pet. Preferably a cat, but a bird will do, or he spends the second half of the film doting over his aquarium.

There’s always a fire. Some structure needs to burn down while he watches or the movie doesn’t get made.

He fights with authority figures who either want to take his house, tear down his art, fire him, commit him, take away his driver’s license, or humiliate him in front of his cat.

Flashbacks to horrific events are a must. Usually a child dies in some accident that needs to be shown – drowns, hit by a train, falls down a well – and Mr. Cranky feels it was his fault.

He is very skillful with his hands. He can fix appliances or build houses or change a Saab fanbelt. Or he builds sculptures that are brilliant but no one understands.

There are at least three scenes in a cemetery. Usually ten.

He’s a loner who ultimately discovers he needs other people.

Anytime anything that is remotely good happens to him, there is a tragedy one minute later.

He has health problems, usually a bad heart. We see glimpses of this early on – he clutches his heart, gets real dizzy – but thinks nothing of it.  Uh oh.  But we know it's coming.

The the big “surprise” – ¾’s of the way into the movie our hero collapses and an ambulance takes him to the hospital. He recovers but the ailment reappears at the end to kill him – usually one minute after he finally finds peace.

There are quirky comedy moments. Not hilarious but just amusing enough that you don’t hate him.

And finally, the film is a half-hour too long.

Hopefully these helpful tips will allow you to go off, write and direct your own art house film. See you at the Oscars, or at least the Herzegovina film festival.