Monday, November 23, 2015

Carol Doda's dead, now what

Death of would be documentary star adds urgency to project 


Carol Doda performing at Chuck Landis' Largo during Sacramento obscenity trial 

By Ed Flethcher
Meeting Carol Doda always seems a matter of when, not if.
Once I began to pursue producing a film about Sacramento’s infamous strip club indecency trial, I’d decided Doda could be key in securing more media coverage and access to financial backers.
The world famous San Francisco entertainer turned the 1969 trial into a national story when she was called to testify by performing a striptease for the jury.
Doda’s cooperation and (hopefully) support would open the doors to media coverage and financial backers, I’d reasoned.
While I briefly spoke with her (more on that later), I never got my interview.
She died Nov. 9  at age 78 due to complications related to kidney failure.
Doda’s death and the passing of Sacramento County Undersheriff Larry Stamm is a sad reminder that time is of the essence when it comes to uncovering dusty historical gems contained in human memories.
When the project was first conceived it was singular in focus: produce a feature-length film on the arrest and trial -- think “American Hustle” meets “The People Vs. Larry Flynt.”
Maybe some screenwriters have a clear distinction between research and writing phases while writing a historical fiction. That has not been the care for me. I researched and wrote, then researched some more.
All along the way, I’ve been sharing the process and the bits history I’ve uncovered.
Somewhere along the way, we decided this rich American story is worth sharing as a documentary.
Doda would have been one of the stars.
I’d resisted the urge to rush right into calling Doda early in the process, but more than a year ago a summoned the courage to call Miss Doda. I looked up the number to her San Francisco lingerie shop and dialed it up.
The problem was she said she had not been to Sacramento and did not perform at the trial. Rather than trying to convince her otherwise, I politely let her off the hook and resolved to try to meet her face-to-face once I had the pictures to show her.
Now I have the photos, but Doda is no longer with us.
Former KCRA reporter Steve Swatt said her appearance was a highlight of the trial.
“Carol Doda was the main attraction in Sacramento's famous topless-bottomless obscenity trial in the late 1960s. She testified at the trial by performing her San Francisco act -- topless, of course -- at what was then the Largo nightclub on Fair Oaks Boulevard,” said Swatt, who covered the trial. “Needless to say, her appearance in front of judge, jury, attorneys, media and curious onlookers was the highlight of the trial.”
The San Francisco Chronicle credited with helping take the strip tease out of the fringe and exposing it mainstream audiences.
Using her loss as added motivation, stay tuned for announcements aimed at kicking the documentary project into high gear. If you’d like to help please contact Ed Fletcher at pinkfilm1969@gmail.com.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Carol Doda performs during Sacramento stripper trial

So exciting about these images I found of the Pink Pussy Kat trial that I can't want to share what I found at the U.C. Davis Speical Collections. They were taken by the Sacramento Union newspaper on Sept. 22, 1969. 




Sacramento's 1969 "bottomless" stripper trial reached another level of media hype when San Francisco performer Carol Doda arrived to dance for the 10 men, 2 woman jury. The Sept. 22, 1969 court proceedings took place at Chuck Landis' Largo. Pink Pussy Kat performers Susanne Marie Haines and Sheila Brandenson, as well as owner Leonard Glancy were arrested after performing fully nude.



The presiding judge Earl Warren Jr. is surrounded by the media. The fact that Warren is the son of Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren added another story line.


While the trial hinging on "contemporary community standards," in addition to watching the offending dance, the jury received testimony from Doda and watched the film "I Am Curious Yellow."


Carol Doda surrounded by the Sacramento media including radio station KFBK.


Trial judge Earl Warren Jr. outside of Chuck Landis' Largo. All image used on a provisional basis. Images from Sacramento Union archives maintained by the U.C. Davis Special Collections

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

How I electrocuted my pants before I got to Burning Man


I ruined a pair of pants and I'm almost ready to cry.
These weren't any pair of pants. They were my new sparkly red stretch pants -- ready for their first trip to Burning Man.
My Burning Man wardrobe slants utility and function over sexy and flare. Despite boasting only one real pair of sexy pants, my playa name is Major Sexy Pants, more on that later.
These pants, made lovingly by my campmate Tractor, were going to redefine my swag.

How they died: The pants were placed in a bag with also contained a block-sized (5ah) 12-volt battery. The pants connected the circuit and the pants were fried as the wire melted.
Assessment: No reasonable person thinks "Don't put the pants next to that rechargeable battery." But no reasonable person transports large batteries in the same bag as funky red stretch pants.
Are the pants safe? Hell yeah. If I were in said pants and came in contact with a live battery, I would move. Ladies weren't safe around these pants either. In a small sample size, they demanded to be rubbed.
Burner Bio: Attended six consecutive after first 2009 burn. Camp GYST elder. Major Sexy Pants playa name references my general helpfulness as much as the cut of my pants.

This it/was the year I planned to step up my playa wardrobe. "Radical Self-Expression" is one of the 10 of Burning Man. People have generally interpreted that to mean you don't ware your "default" world wardrobe.  The dusty surface of the lake bed his highly acidic so it makes sense not to ruin your regular clothes, but it also encourages you to step further out of your regular life. (Discussing life outside of Burning Man id generally discouraged.)
Tractor is passionate about getting people out of the cargo pants that she intends to dress 1 percent of Burning Man in booty shorts. Assuming a population of 60,000, that's 600 booty shorts. She's done that number and well beyond, helping people like me and many others.
My first years, we're all about survival, but as my camp has grown I've found campmates that care enough about me to upgrade my style package. The loss of these pants is such a setback.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Orangevale's Pink Pussy Kat left legacy

Orangevale's Pink Pussy Kat a Go-Go may have been short-lived and lacking in grandeur, but it left its mark on American culture through its challenge of perceived and later instituted indecency standards. Having found no recorded account of the club or the trial, I wrote one based on news stories obtained through The Sacramento Bee and an autobiography written by former exotic performer Susanne Haines Register. Please help me improve on this article. -- Ed Fletcher

Tavern owner Leonard Glancy
 is flanked by dancers
Susanne Haines (left) and Shiela Brendenson  
Sacramento Bee August 27, 1969

Orangevale strip club impact outlasts club

The Pink Pussy Kat was a beer bar and strip club noted for its legal wranglings with county and state authorities over indecency standards in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was located in Orangevale, CA, about 25 miles northeast of Sacramento. 

The bar, which featured beer, food, pool tables and topless (and sometimes bottomless) barmaids is believed to have closed on or around the March 1976 death of owner Leonard Glancy. It was located at 9346 Greenback Lane, in a drab Orangevale shopping plaza.

Sacramento County Sheriff "Big" John Misterly actively sought to reign in the 1960s counterculture movement and tasked detectives with making regular check at the region's adult-themed bars.

On July 27, 1969, dancers Susanne Marie Haines, 22, and Sheila Brandenson,  were arrested after performing fully nude. Owner Leonard Glancy was taken in as well. Topless had been the acceptable practice. Presiding over the trial was Sacramento Superior Court Judge Earl Warren, Jr., who happens to be the son of former California Governor and Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. Warren still resides in the Sacramento area.

The trial made national headlines after Warren agreed to a defense motion to temporarily move the proceeding to the club and allow the jury to see the offending performance. On Sept. 17, Haines attempted to replicate the dance for which was was arrested. She danced to "Suzy Q," and songs by the Byrds and Jimi Hendrix under dim lights with psychedelic art projected on the walls. On Sept. 22, noted San Francisco topless performer Carol Doda also performed for the jury.

The dancers and Glancy were acquitted Oct. 2, 1969, by the 10-man, two-woman jury, but that was far from the end of the legal fight over nude dancing.

On Oct. 21, Sacramento County enacted an ordinance prohibiting topless and bottomless dancing, and topless waitresses.

Glancy and Haines challenged the constitutionality of the ordinance.

During the legal fight, Glancy turned to various other means to keep his business going, including offering patrons a closed-circuit broadcast of on-site strip performances and putting dancers in see-through panties.

The result of the case, which was combined with other challenges from similar laws, is California’s current practice of not allowing alcohol at fully-nude strip clubs based health code rules.

On May 12, 1970, Glancy was arrested in the shooting of a patron in the parking lot. Glancy claimed it was in defense.

Shortly after her indecency acquittal, Haines left the Pink Pussy Kat. To further her career as striptease performer and capitalize on her notoriety, she began touring gentlemen's clubs across the country as a featured performer. In 1971, she won the title of Miss Nude Cosmos, often known by its more legally dubious name, Miss Nude Universe. During her time on the road, doing a week or more stints at strip clubs, she was arrested more than a dozen times for performing bottomless. By her account, these dances -- and her arrests -- were part publicity stunt, part legitimate act of free expression.

Death records indicate Glancy died in March of 1976.

It’s unclear when the club closed.  

In 1978, Haines, under her married name Susanne Haines Register wrote, “Take It All Off,” an autobiography that followed her path from Mormon schoolgirl to “dope-smoking” dancer and on to her eventual self-described “salvation.”






Thursday, July 9, 2015

Dancer's memoir reveals church, closer Sacramento connection


"Take It All Off" by Susanne Haines Register, 1978

"Susanne wrote a memoir."

That's was the new fact staring at me via a facebook message.
It would have been nice to know that three years ago when I started this screenplay.
"Take It All Off," by Susanne Haines Register, was released by Beta Books of San Diego in 1978.
The book covers her early life, the Sacramento indecency trial, her reign as Miss Nude Universe and more than a year traveling the country as a headlining exotic dancer.
For the uninitiated,  my screenplay "Pink" focuses on Susanne's 1969 arrest and trial. The case became national news when the trial judge decided that for the jury to determine whether the dance violated community standards they'd have to see it.
News clips and the accounts of the reporters that covered it form the bulk of my research. When the script started it was a 15-minute short film I expected to produce for a few thousand dollars. But when I embarked on expanding it, it never occurred to be to exhaustively research the story before leaping into the feature length version.
Reading the news clips gave me the rough outline of what happened, but not much of a sense of the person. The Bee and other news outlets covered the story, but kept their toe in the shallow end. I knew a little more about details about the Sheriff Misterly and trial Judge Earl Warren Jr., who happens to be son of the former Supreme Court Justice, but as the story went through revisions it was clear Susanne was the star.
Why did she get arrested seven times for performing bottomless? I didn't know for sure so I filled in the blanks. I gave her voice.
The book -- somehow invisible to google searches -- provides tantalizing new details. Susanne was born Susanne Tropper (March 13, 1947) to Frank Julius Tropper and Alice May (Simpson) Tropper. Family tragedy forced her to harden fast as she split time growing up between Sacramento's suburbs (Fair Oaks and Roseville) and Provo, UT. After a tumultuous childhood, she won Miss Placer County at age 16 before finding her way to the stage of Orangevale's Pink Pussy Kat.
While the book is lacking in literary grace, it's a flashlight into the shadowy '70s strip club circuit. Susanne represented the highest ideals of the craft in fighting for free expression, but also saw the lows exotic dance.
My task now is to see how the new facts fit into my pre-existing world.


Monday, June 15, 2015

New tools allow screenwriters to pitch from home

Sites take the travel out of pitching film, television


In Hollywood, like most industries, it's about who you know.  That gives people living and toiling in LA a huge advantage over people living elsewhere.

Since most agents won't take submissions, most connections come via a friend-of-a-friend (as so I'm told). To give folks like me access  (and to take our money) the pitchfest was born.

Fade In's Hollywood Pitch Festival and Scriptfest.com are two of the larger ones. The Hollywood Pitch Festival is July 24-26 in Los Angeles. A three-day pass costs $495. The 2015 Scriptfest was May 29-31 in Burbank, with tickets ranging from $300 to $750.

Each pitchfest is a little different, but most involve standing in a hotel ballroom trying to make small talk as you wait your turn to talk to your chosen film exec. All told, you're looking at spending $800 for a day of workshops and five minutes with eight agents, managers or production company execs.

I'm not passing judgment on whether that's a good value, I haven't been to either of those events. They might be worth it for the seminars and networking alone. But in that the information age there are new routes to get your film or television pitch before Hollywood types.

Here are three at to get your pitch to Hollywood:


Virtual Pitchfest 

Virtual Pitchfest allows users to pay to submit a query letter to selected Hollywood agents, managers, and production companies. The cost is $10 a pop, lower if you're buying in bulk. The service guarantees a response within five days.


Greenlight My Movie

Greenlight My Movie allows users to submit a completed short, a recorded pitch or a synopsis to selected agents, managers, and production companies. The cost is $29.95. Most responses come within 14 days according to the service.


Stage 32/Happywriters 

Stage 32 is a multifaceted social network for the world film community, so virtual pitch sessions are just part of what they do.  Stage 32 pitch sessions are sporadically held opportunities to engage in a live video chat with a specific film professional. The 8 minute skype session costs $45 but comes with the added benefit of live feedback without having to fly to Los Angeles.


Friday, June 12, 2015

Historic pussy kat photos hard to find


"Bottomless trial" defendants (tavern owner Leonard Glancy with Susanne Haines (left) and Shiela Brendenson) await the day's court appearance before Municipal Judge Earl Warren Jr.. Sacramento Bee August 27, 1969

Mini-documentary to proceed film, educate public, build audience 

Finding pictures of Orangevale's long-closed Pink Pussy Kat a Go-Go has turned out to be much more of a project than I expected. That's one thing documentaries don't come out and tell you: how hard it was to find the historic photos and interview subjects.
When I first started my screenplay "Pink," I was quick to dismiss any thought of doing it as a documentary. But as the project moved along, it became increasingly clear that telling this story as it really happened is also part of my mission.
For those new to this blog, in 1969 two dancers and the owner of the Pink Pussy Kat were arrested and went on trial for indecent exposure after the dancer performed without panties.
The trial became a nation story with Judge Earl Warren Jr. moved the trial to a strip club to allow the jury to see the exotic "bottomless" dance.
This photo, featuring the tavern owner Leonard Glancy and dancers Susanne Haines (left) and Shiela Brendenson, was obtained through the Center for Sacramento History.
The Sacramento Bee photo dated Aug. 27, 1969 shows the three awaiting  the day's court appearance before Municipal Judge Earl Warren Jr.
I've made some effort to find photographs of the club, the dancers, the scene, but in the coming weeks it will be time to take those efforts to a new level, hopefully with news coverage, advertising and an organized effort to hit up the places old men frequent. I'll update the post as more details become available.
The plan is for the mini-documentary to increase interest in the film. Have ideas on ways to find photos and live stories? Better yet want to help track down some of these people?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Screenwriter revisits hometown 'Pow Wow' roots, reconnects with past

Orangevale Pow Wow Days stage area 2015

Orangevale is one of those "where" places.
Any mention of it -- to most anyone -- must quickly be followed by "where" it's near.
"Between Folsom and Roseville," is where I tell people.
In northeast Sacramento County, it's where the sidewalks end.
It's my hometown and the setting of the feature film script, I'm working to turn into a major motion picture.
The arrest and trial of the dancers at the "Pink Pussy Kat a Go-Go" became a national story and helped set the rules for exotic dance.
Few people know about this. I'm trying to change that. It would be/will be an amazing gift from my home community.
You can only really be from one place (military brats excepted).
I'm from Orangevale.
I left after high school and while I live in Sacramento now, my interaction with the community is
little beyond visiting my parents.
Being one of a handful of black kids in a community I affectionately call the Idaho of California, was at times a challenge. The late 1990s were certainly better racially than ever, but the late 1990s in Orangevale was not the same as the 1990s in more diverse communities.
I made the most of it. I was student body president (CRHS 1993) so some would say I thrived. But I wouldn't say I fit in. By the time I attended high school at Casa Roble the spittoons were gone, but vail of homogeneous isolation permeated. I often felt treated as the exception to a generally accepted rule about black people.
When faced with the sheer amount of bad country music produced in the 1990s one can either give in and say you like it or fight it.  Hating country was my buttress, protecting my few black points.
Committed to the fight against country, as soon as I had a choice in the matter, I avoided "Pow Wow Days," the longstanding community parade and carnival.
Orangevale doesn't have much. It's an unincorporated spec of Sacramento County that's hard to get to by highway thus maintaining some level of rural charm, but it doesn't have that gold rush era downtown of Folsom or the size, organization and ambition of
Roseville.
Since 1963, the community has been experiencing some level of Pow Wow. As a child, I marched in it was a Boy Scout.
As adult man, sans child, who has experienced Mardi Gras (several times), it's real easy to go curmudgeon on regular old small town parades. They don't throw beads, alcohol must be smuggled and there is little chance of boobie exposure, but there is something that is uniquely community socializing and unifying about parades.
So that extent, there is something unique and great about Orangevale's "Pow Wow Days."
I made a return visit Friday night and Saturday afternoon to tell people about "Pink" and the "Pink Pussy Kat a Go-Go."
From a visitors perspective, the event seemed healthy. It's 32 acres, snuggled between other parks and schools, is an ideal venue for an outdoor concert. There were kids galore on the carnival rides, plenty of vendors, a radio station sponsor, and a healthy beer garden. (Though they could step it up with more food variety and serving local beers.)
Loosely based an actual incident, some of the ladies from the Pink Pussy Kat cause a stir at Pow Wow Days in my script. So the visit could also be considered field research.
Another bonus: Saturday I ran into my childhood friend Billy Blackburn. That night, his band Blackburn Bullet bested seven competitors to win the "battle of the bands" hosted by radio station 101.9 the wolf. Billy's already talking about writing a song for the movie.
I was buoyed by the feedback I got from people young and old towards the Pink Pussy Kat story.
Young people were excited to hear about the historic trial. With old people, you could see the sparkle in their eye as they accessed those dusty files. I didn't find the motherload treasure trove of Pink Pussy Kat photos, but I'll keep looking.
 I see a few Rotary Club breakfasts and VFW Hall visits in my future as I continue my search.
Orangevale, here I come again.

Follow the journey by email
Keep up on film project on Facebook
Connect with the Pink Pussy Kat


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Sacramento film project in the media, party Friday


 'Tower' guitar finds home 

Ed Fletcher snags one-of-a-kind guitar

Pink screenwriter went from a party spectator to celebrity after he snagged the "Tower Records" Gibson Les Paul Guitar at a post-screening auction. The one-of-a-kind guitar is signed by Tower founder Russ Solomon and "All Things Must Pass" filmmakers Colin Hanks and Sean Stuart. Proceeds benefit the Tower Records Project


Party for Pink set for Friday

Film community, supporters, public invited 

Join us for an exciting night of music, dance and comedy at Party for "Pink" May 1 atVega's Underground in Old Sacramento.
It's an opportunity to share the path we're on with the public and Sacramento International Film Festival attendees. The night will include music from '70s rock cover band Lane 5, period burlesque performances from  Sugar Cane Cheeks and Vivienne Fuego of The Golden Poppy Revue and comedy from Diane Hong. The fun starts at 9 p.m.

Pink in the media

Digital-first strategy takes process to the people 

So many great things happening lately, the media department can hardly keep up. Since our strategy is to talk "Pink" into existence, I'm more than happy to share the process with anyone who will listen. Three great media hits this week:
  • Fellow writer/reporter Rich Ehisen published an inciteful Q & A. He and I talk about how the writing process, film-making, and of course Pink.
  • I sat down with the Junior and Leo Show Podcast talk about everything from how I got into the project to our digital-first strategy. We even talked a little about the news game and new media.
  • Finally, a piece I wrote explaining why the Sacramento film community should be rooting for the web series "Rellik." 



Monday, April 20, 2015

May busy, exciting time on film front


By Ed Fletcher
Early May looks like it's going to be an incredibly busy and exciting time for me. In a matter of days, I'm throwing a party in Old Sacramento, staging a photo shoot and my film short "Goldie" is screening in Seattle.
May 1: Party for "Pink"
May 3: Pink photoshoot
May 4: "Goldie" screening

Party for "Pink" is a chance to generate excitement around my feature film project "Pink" among Sacramento International Film Festival attendees and general Sacramento public.
The free event at Vega's Underground in Old Sacramento will feature 70s rock from cover band Lane 5, burlesque performances and comedy. The fun starts at 9 p.m.

On May 3, I'm turning Sacramento's Blue Lamp back into a strip club for a photo shoot. Behind the camera will be Sacramento photographer and visual artist Melissa Uroff.

Then on Monday, May 4 I fly to Seattle to be on hand as "Goldie," the short film I wrote and produced, screens as part of the Seattle Transmedia & Independent Film Festival. It's part of a night of LGBTQ-friendly films and live drag show.

Whew!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Online support can 'like' projects into existence

Film maker asks Sacramento community to like, share and support project


"While the tools to create content is easier to obtain than ever, it’s also harder than ever for worthy smartphone applications, music, movies, or ebooks to get noticed. And yet it’s also easier than ever to give our neighbor a hand with a like, comment, share or thumbs up. Better yet a review." 

By Ed Fletcher
In the days of yore, when guy was building a house or raising a barn he’d cut the beams, buy the nails and level the ground by himself, but the time would come that he’d need his friends and neighbors help hoisting the beams and shit.

The community would come together to help out a member in need.  We don’t do that these days. We’ll help a neighbor if they’re getting a TV backyard makeover, but we hide when our neighbors
have a pile of rocks delivered.

The rise of crowdfunding runs counter to that. In the ideal, people give because they want to see good ideas succeed. Thousands of worthy projects are funded each year through the generosity of others.

Indeed, in this age of social media, email and online wallets, helping people has never been easier. “Likes,” retweets and shares are a form of digital currency that lift projects from heap of digital content produced daily. Without the transaction of money, a message goes from being seen by 50 people to 5000 (I’m making up numbers) with the ease of a mouse click.

I believe I have a project worthy of a digital barn raising. A project that could both put Sacramento on the map and make a serious statement about free expression. I’m asking for the Sacramento community to set me on the path to producing my dramatic comedy screenplay “Pink.”

Based on a real Sacramento 1969 case, Pink tells the story of a free-speech loving exotic dancer who battles a small-town sheriff and bares it all to prove her “bottomless” dance is art worthy of protection. Think “American Hustle” meets “People vs “Larry Flynt.”

I know what you’re thinking, “Cool idea, but Sacramento doesn’t know anything about making movies. Call Joe Carnahan.” I have. And I will again. I’m open to any connections my network might provide.

But the point of this post is to inspire, cajoe, woo you into helping my build my a base of support that will tell investors that this idea has resonance.

I’m asking Sacramento to prime the pump. The growing school of thought suggests social media marketing is the most effective way to sell a movie. Further, smart filmmakers will by developing a digital audience from conception, take fans along for the filmmaking process and  simultaneously prove to investors the viability of the film.

While the tools to create content is easier to obtain than ever, it’s also harder than ever for worthy smartphone applications, music, movies, or ebooks to get noticed. And yet it’s also easier than ever to give our neighbor a hand with a like, comment, share or thumbs up. Better yet a review.

Think how much better off the Sacramento tech community would be if gave worthy apps the two minutes it takes to write a review for the app store. Think how much livelier our writing community could be if we reviewed their ebooks.

I’ve watched with a mixture of pride, joy and envy at community efforts to support tech startups and downtown retail businesses. Why can’t we do that with film? I’ve wondered.

This is me opening up my arms and saying: embrace me, this idea, and let's run with it. I’m open to investors, partners, backers, cheerleaders, digital strike force members or contributing in any multitude of mutually agreeable ways.

I'm thankful for the advice and support I've received to that point, but I want more.

I’d love help with strategy, marketing, publicity, media creation, social media.

Together we can make this happen Sacramento.

Monday, March 23, 2015

13 Things I think I learned at Santa Rosa Story Expo


Committed to keeping my foot on the gas in turning my screenplay Pink into a feature film, I attended three-day weekend storytellers expo in Santa Rosa.
What the Storytellers Expo lacked in star power, communication and polish, it made up for in intimacy. There is not one reason any attendee should have left feeling like their questions were not answered by real writers, publishers, script consultants, or producers.
It's wasn't cheap, but you'd pay four times that much for the same offerings online.
The following are 13 thoughts, lessons or reflections from the two days of classes and day of pitching Pink at Storytellers Expo produced by the Santa Rosa-based "Northern California Writers" group:

  1. The Sacramento film community would be smart to shift some instruction towards writing for television and web series. 
  2. Breakdown episodes of television shows I liked, then follow the formula to write a spec episode.  
  3. I'm well ahead of the curve in term of branding, social media and the business of film.
  4. Re-read/edit scripts with different lenses: think like director, actor, producer
  5. People love the true story/premise of Pink.
  6. Write your first logline at the idea stage. 
  7. Thanks for the instruction on how to write a film query letters, but what's the point if agents don't read them? 
  8. Tension = hope v. fear.
  9. Seek rising and falling tension through each mini movie. 
  10. Author Dale Brown spent a lot of time in Sacramento and is a nice dude.
  11. Practice funny by jotting down one funny thing a day. 
  12. In packaging start with directors and talent with production companies.
  13. In seeking agents and production partners, look to those judging screenplay contests, those are the people open to finding material in unusual places. 



When Sunday's pitch session came, I was at ease and confident. Participants stood in line for five minutes of one-on-one time with the assorted (8) book and film experts.
Making the best of meetings means setting reasonable expectations of learning something, building rapport, and achieving a small "ask."
And while I wish script consultants would use their connections more liberally to help non-clients,  I totally understand the folly of their ways. All of the pitch recipients were willing active listeners who surely would have benefited those at the early stages or those with a polished project.
Now time to email Pink to a Los Angeles studio.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Producer appearance as guest to burlesque show

Call it the lifecycle of the writer/producer.
For the better part of a year, I spent nights and weekends turning down invitations so I could spend more time sequestered to my keyboard.
Now with the pendulum swung toward producer, I'm in the streets trying to network my script into existence.
Last night, plunked in the front row a burlesque show with two lovely legends of the craft on either side of me made up for several of those sunny Saturdays I gave up to write my screenplay "Pink."

To my right was Miss Cherry Malone, a world champion burlesque performer. To my left Miss Petty (O'Ferrell) Russell, who performed across America from the 1950s to 1970s.
The Golden Poppy Revue is a production of Miss Vivienne Fuego.



Performers included:
Legend Isis Starr, "The Goddess of Burlesque" (SF)
Sugar Cheeks-Burlesque
Jenna Jezebel
Violet Ruthless
Dahlia D'Vine
Casaba Meloune
Bella Blue-Eyes
PLUS!!!:
Torch Song Singer Roxy Vox
Swing dance performance by Felicia & Ramses
Sideshow performer Ryan Dile
Comedy by "Sacramento's Sweetheart", Steph Garcia,


A video posted by Ed Fletcher (@perpetualf) on


Monday, February 23, 2015

Burlesque legend Angel Walker talks taking it off

Burlesque Legend Angel Walker, better known as Satan's Angel, has lived such an incredible life that hours into a conversation she still finds new ways to shock you.
From San Francisco's North Beach to the world's stage, her story is the subject of the documentary "Satan's Angel: The Queen of Fire Tassels."
In hopes of better understanding my screenplay "Pink" and Orangevale's "Pink Pussy Kat," I reached out to Ms. Walker.
The result was a delightful conversation about burlesque, go-go, striptease and exotic dancing in the late 60s and early 70s.
She could not tell me much about the Pink Pussy Kat or the dancer at the center of the trial Susanne Haines, but that's not to say there wasn't much to learn from that unguarded spark plug of a woman. Here's a piece of our conversation:



Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Film research trip ends exotic avoidance

I wonder sometimes what people think about a guy who would devote years of his life writing a screenplay and producing a movie about a strip club.
 "Some big perv."
Fact is, until last night, I hadn't been to a strip club for at least five years -- including the entire time writing "Pink."
For those new to the blog, "Pink" is my sexy dramatic comedy about Sacramento's 1969 "bottomless" stripper trial. The indecency trial became a national story when the judge decided in order for the jury to determine whether the dance violated community standards they'd have to see it. The girls won the trial but the government changed the law making it a health code violation to consume alcoholic beverages in establishments that allow full nudity.
So what's a guy who doesn't care for spending money on exotic dancers doing writing a screenplay about exotic dancers? The short answer is because it a local story that needed to be told. When you strip everything else away its a story about free expression dressed up in late 60s attire.
Think "American Hustle" meets "People vs. Larry Flynt."
Most of my research came from old fraying newspaper clips. I didn’t set out to write a strip club screenplay. It started as a short term project and has steadily grown.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a prude (though "Blue Lagon" was too much for me went I saw it as a boy). I’ve been to strip clubs and enjoy seeing women naked as much as the next guy, probably a little more. The bulk of my strip club experience came from Bourbon Street excursions during college and the rush of bachelor parties one endures in their early 30s.
But I could never justify expending money on the experience.
More than the money, the transactional relationship bothers me.
While I firmly believe performers should have the right to dance naked in exchange for money, I much prefer nudity without compensation.
Pink can be a beautiful movie that makes audiences laugh, causes a modest arousal, says something about art, freedom and culture -- and makes money.
So for the sake of research I, joined by a female friend, went to Gold Club Centerfolds. After an absence of half a decade, the adult establishment seemed remarkably the same in all its soft skin and curvaceous glory.
I'll spare you the details (good and bad) other than to note I drank hot tea, a legacy of the "Pink Pussy Kat" decision.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Judge me: I'm a burner



After 22 years of driving, I just unceremoniously put my first bumper sticker on my vehicle.


It says, "BRC."

I've always been somewhat judgmental of bumper stickers people. I suppose were supposed to be judgmental. The vehicle make, model and customization say much about the driver, but nothing like bumper sticker.

My status as a working journalist rules out political bumper stickers, but my disfavor of them runs deeper. That was until I found myself wanting to chat up everyone I see with any bumper sticker related to Burning Man.


So I guess I'm a burner.

This summer will be my seventh (in a row). The registration for the ticket general sale ends at noon (PST) Saturday, Feb. 14.

Burning Man is best described as week-long experimental city held annually in the Nevada "Black Rock" desert.  "Black Rock City" is a colloquium for this free-form blend of madness, excess, and brilliance.

It's grown from humble roots to a gathering of 70,000 people from around the world. Groups of people band together to provide the coffee shops, lecture halls, art galleries, recreation centers, bars and night clubs of this temporary city where (almost) everything is free.

Drunk and debauchery, sure. "Orgy dome," sure. (But there is probably one in your town too.)

But more than a description of this adult playland -- from jungle gyms to a roller rink -- to me Burning Man is about the ethos and the inspiration sparked by a week of being unplugged with collection of the world's best doers, dreamers, makers, and creatives.

The freedom from the digitally connected world provides a refreshing mindfulness. The absence of work talk allows the creative brain to flourish.

It's a place where hugs are plentiful and conversations are meaningful.

Each year, I come away with a new project to bring back the desert and the energy to recommit to personal projects.
It's an energy that I'd love to see more to in everyday life.

So yeah go ahead a judge me. I'm a Burner.

 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Taking script notes from strangers

Request for opening pages of script triggers rewriting rush


For an unpublished screenwriter: "Is it done?" is the question that looms, never quite answered.
I've spent months cautiously getting feedback from progressively critical/expert sources. In the last year,  to prepare "Pink" for the prime time its undergone four official rewrites, been table read with real actors twice and workshopped by my screenwriter's group.

But even as I shook a man's hand assuring him, "It's ready" during my time at AFM, I knew I wasn't sure.

Screenwriter Ed Fletcher
I don't think I'll ever be sure until a Hollywood player says: "I'll make that movie with you."

For those new to this blog, I'm talking about my feature length dramatic comedy "Pink," which is based on a 1969 strip club indecency trial.

In my fantasy version of my "How it Happened Story," I befriend a Hollywood white knight. My aging B-player would then introduce me to the right people -- an agent, a business-minded money guy and a gal to get me to all the right parties.

That hasn't happened yet. Instead, I've turned to strangers for screenwriting advice. Not street-corner strangers, rather the screenwriting contest feedback stranger.

For an extra fee, many screenwriting contests will provide detailed feedback. The catch is you're not given any information about the source of the feedback.

Script feedback emails are something you sit down for.

The words can send you into a funk or to the moon with excitement. Since January, I've received notes from the Screencraft Fellowship, Beverly Hill Screenplay Contest, BlueCat Screenwriting Contest and The Blacklist.

Three of the emails sent me into a full-day of happy dancing.

One, I could barely finish. I set it aside with the others for processing once there were time and enough data decide what needed to be done. I've considered hiring a script consultant, but kept putting it off out of a combination of poverty, pride, naivete and indecision.

The feedback notes come weeks or even months before the final decision on contest winners are announced. Awaiting the results of the contest was a good enough reason as any to procrastinate on addressing issues raised by the mysterious readers. If Pink placed, I'd soon have plenty of real people asking to read it, I had decided.

But then the email.

On Friday, a major independent film player, responding to my pitch submission, asked to read the first 10 pages. I didn't think much of Greenlightmymovie.com. For $30 a pop, film or television writers can send a video to Hollywood studios and talent management companies. I skeptically bought three submissions in late January. The first rejection came within three hours of submission. The third company has yet to respond.

The email asking for the pages was a lovely am inbox surprise. I sent off the pages as quick as my fingers could carry me. Then I promptly told the world. Each like of the facebook post was like a warm welcoming pat on my shoulder.

But then came Saturday. Saturday is when I decided as soon as Monday the company could ask for the full script and by the end of the day my script could be in the hands of the pre-screening intern.
My fate my soon by in the hands of a junior employee hoping to impress his or her boss with their keen discerning eye.

Suddenly, now was the time to settle into the chair and ignore social media long enough to re-acquire the characters voices, get back into screenwriter mode and fix any obvious issues. As I poured over each word of their analysis, I struggled to picture the author in my head. Are they old, young? Do I listen to the more critical voice or say forget her? Why do I even think it is her? (cus I'm sexist.)

Sunday, my wave of panicked self-doubt subsided.

No art is perfect and while surely the story and the script will continue to be refined, I'm confident it's close enough warrant collaboration toward a shared vision.

The Monday agenda: hire a script consultant.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Grateful for support of short film campaign, future film plans



I’ve been stumbling around my keyboard for some profound way to say “thank you” to all the people that supported my Goldie crowdfunding campaign and to put this all into perspective.

On Wednesday, Feb. 4, the “Sharing Short Film Goldie” collected $766 or nearly 77 percent of it's $995 goal. For days, I had feared that the campaign would cause me stress as it limped along.

It’s by no means a large sum, but it money you earned and have plenty of other uses for. It  means a great deal that you would give money you earned to support me and my film efforts.

I one day soon hope to be asking high wealth individuals to invest a great deal of money into my projects. It means a lot and does a great deal to my confidence that you would support me.

As of the time of this publishing the campaign remains open. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Tale of Pink AFM pitch earns local press



My employer The Sacramento Bee graciously allowed me to write about my experience pitching "Pink" at American Film Market in November. So far the feedback has been outstanding. It's a great boost to the effort. Now I need to capitalize in this good press and keep pressing. Here is the top of the story and a link to the full story which I would really encourage you to enjoy.

The film-pitch session – the one in which I’m one of 10 pre-selected participants – has began and I’m not there.
I’m in the bathroom frantically trying to free my new pink tie from the coffee stain it just acquired. I consider taking it off, but that would ruin my plan to brand myself as the guy pitching “Pink” by wearing a pink tie each of my four days at the American Film Market.
“Pink” is a dramatic comedy based on Sacramento’s 1969 “bottomless” stripper trial, which made national news when Judge Earl Warren Jr. temporarily moved proceedings to a strip club so jurors could fairly determine whether the nude dancing violated community standards.


Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/entertainment/movies-news-reviews/article8218959.html#storylink=cpy

http://www.sacbee.com/entertainment/movies-news-reviews/article8218959.html



Friday, January 23, 2015

Slipping Backstage to get The Dude my Script


Ed Fletcher with a look-a-like The Dude at the Jeff Bridges concert. 
It’s the morning after but I still buzzing from my clandestine operation to get Jeff Bridges a copy of script “Pink.”
Bridges, who despite many great roles will always remembered as “The Dude” from the Big Lebowski, has been on my short list to play Sheriff Misterly from the beginning. When I saw he was coming to Sacramento to play music with his band I took it as a sign. After a fair amount of waffling, there I was watching the show strategizing how I’m going to get backstage.
When the show ended I caught a moment when one of  guys guarding the door to backstage left his post and walked right back. The second wave of security wasn’t interested in doing his job so I walked past him.
When bridges who played a great set and a four song encore with his bandmates finished posing for a picture with some legitimate VIPs, I went in. I told him he seemed like a guy who believes in signs and that I took it as a sign that he was here to play and told him I wanted to give him my script.
By that point security was on to me, but Bridges said I was “Ok” and let me pitch him the movie as he walked to his dressing room. I gave a copy of the script to his guy and was on my way.
It was a beautiful end to a good week for Pink, my feature script about Sacramento’s 1969 “bottomless” stripper trial.
I was extremely happy with the turnout and energy of the Jan. 14 screening of my short film Goldie and others I hosted. It was good experience for myself as a film producer, good for the local film community and good for a local business.
With that behind me I decided it was time to refocus and prioritize my energy. I found that I’d been spending far too much time doing social media and not enough time doing. While there is a real potential upside of a large social media following, at times it feels a lot like a never ending online game. Social media is important but action is more important.
On the action front in recent days, I had my first meeting with an investment club, reached out to a new Hollywood friend and finally move my office out of my bedroom and into my spareroom.
The investment club isn’t ready to move yet and the overture has yet to bear fruit.
Each of those actions seemed at one point worthy of a blog post, but now seem overshadowed by “The Dude.”
I have no idea what will become of my move to get Bridges, but I’m happy fear didn’t prevent me from taking an affirmative step in response to the universe bringing Bridges to my town at the exact time my script was ready for him.
Go team Pink.





Highlights of January screening short film "Goldie" and more from Ed Fletcher on Vimeo.




Screenwriter Ed Fletcher Talks About His Dramatic Comedy "Pink" from Ed Fletcher on Vimeo.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Google is now monitoring this room

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Crowdfunding Campaign on for LGBT-friendly short film



It's with great humility that earlier this week I launched a crowdfunding campaign to support marketing and distribution of my LGBT-friendly short film Goldie 48 hour film. The short was shot and edited for the Sacramento International Film Festival 48-hour competition where it won "audience choice." Director Matthew Gilliam lovingly reedited it, then Brandon Oreno scored it and now we want your help submitting it to film festivals and marketing it's digital release.

I'll be honest, I agonized over whether the campaign would flop. We're wired to be afraid to ask for money, but rather than being governed by fear I choose to trust in the law of abundance. As author Keith Ferrazzi suggests in his book "Never Eat Alone"rather than thinking of support as something one uses up, think of it as something that grows as you earn it by doing good work and supporting others. 



My primary goal remains moving my feature length script Pink forward, but I think supporting, marketing and attending festivals in support of Pink will set me on the path. Pink is based on Sacramento 1969 "bottomless" stripper trial. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Ed Fletcher podcast guest, talks comedy, film and more.


I'm a guest on Johnny Flores' Sacramento-based Serious Talk. Seriously. podcast about people doing things. We talk about everything from growing up in Orangevale, to life in the South, to Access Sacramento and comedy. Of course we also talk about my film projects.

http://www.stspodcast.com/2015/01/episode-39-ed-fletcher



Friday, January 9, 2015

Learning to produce(r) on the job

I'm all about supporting the Sacramento film community so I was happy to offer a guest blog post to our friends at California Film Foundation. I'm also an active member of the Capitol Film Arts Alliance. Here a preview of the CFF post:
There was a time in the not too distant past where I would have been happy to sell my screenplay “Pink” for a reasonable price and crossed my fingers in hopes the studio would actually make the movie.Those days are now gone. After attending American Film Market in Santa Monica this November, I’m convinced that I want to be part of the critical decision making process that takes the script and transforms it into living breathing art. Who directs, who stars and the budget are just a handful of the decisions that can turn a good script into a shitty movie or turn a great script into a timeless work of art. Read the full post. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Sick for Kevin Jonas twitter power

Kevin Jonas (right) talks twitter with Ian Ziering and
Johnny Damon on NBC's Celerity Apprentice 
I’m not ready to check myself into a facility quite yet, but I’m showing early signs of social media addiction.
Checking my facebook and twitter are the first and last things I do with my day. Seeing new “likes” to my facebook movie page brings me more joy than reasonable. I have five twitter accounts.
I may be lapsing towards the excess, but its not like playing “Angry Birds” or “Candy Crush” there is an end game in play, even if there is no end to the social media game.
In this age, a large social media following is power. That power was a major subject line of the first episode of Celebrity Apprentice. While both project managers pushed their team to take full advantage of social media to drive attendance to their charity pie sale, the other celebrities rightly feared that even their combined energies were no match for Kevin Jonas’ 4.7 million twitter followers.
I’m a long long way from 4.7 million, but I play to employ social media to organically grow a following for my film “Pink.” Most cited example of a twitter feed being harnessed successfully launch a movie was the 2014 “Dear White People.”
Each new follow puts me one step closer.
With that in mindset, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to not let to consume too much of my creative energy.
In the near future, I hope and expect “Team Pink” to grow and much of the social media heavy lifting will fall to others but in the mean time it's important to for me as the screenwriter/creative lead to keep my focus on the big picture and creating content worthy of attention.
Its all well and good to ask people to follow you, but if you don’t know where you’re leading them, we’re all lost.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Dance Step of Death

Zombie Comedy

Dance Step of Death 

Some people are content to watch bad things happen in their neighborhood. Not these guys. Armed with good intentions, they spend after work hours fighting crime, corruption and suffering. But this investigation my turn out be more than they bargained for. They'll need some fancy footwork to survive.




Zombie comedy "Dance Step of Death" from Ed Fletcher on Vimeo.

"Dance Step of Death" premiered at the Sacramento Film and Music Festival in 2012. After a good run on the Amazon Marketplace, if was launched for free on Vimeo Jan. 1, 2015.