Chooch talks to The Movie WhoreThe Movie Whore 2 comments
Don't know who Chooch is? Don't worry you will.
Chooch is a writer/musician/artist/all around good guy. I met Chooch on some message boards on a site I frequent. You may have heard if it www.movie-moron.com Then again you may not have heard of it. I discovered it through Stumble. I had posted one of my ramblings on their forum as a way to get some more exposure and add some class to their site. That's right I just called myself a classy whore. Deal with it. I do every day. Chooch had left a comment referring to some stuff he had written and I contacted him about doing this piece. So who is this Chooch anyway?
Originally from Haverhill, Massachusetts, Chooch is married and has one daughter. He also has a dog and 2 cats and currently lives in Tampa, Florida.
You may know a couple of his distant cousins that he grew up with, Spider, singer of Powerman5000 and Rob Zombie.
Now that I have told you a little bit about him let's see what the man has to say about his writing and what it is like to get something from the brain to the screen.
TMW:How many scripts have you written?
C:I've written five feature films and a few shorts. Each is vastly different from the last. I've also written several reality show concepts.
“Whitey” was my first feature script. It’s about a male nurse who is an artist in the living arts. Think a much more gorier “Wax Museum” except with a story line.
“The Suicide Flowers” is a story about a singer on his way down and his biggest fan. I predict this will be my breakout film.
“Survival of the Sparrows” is a story about an elderly couple that gets caught in their barn and they witness atrocities as an army invades America.
“The Park” is a high concept, high budget movie about an amusement park filled with all of the fantasy and mythological creatures that still exist.
“The Arbiter’s Nephew” is a crime/love story about a hit-man that falls in love with a virtuous young girl.
TMW: Which one is your favorite?
C: It’s funny, I was going to say “The Suicide Flowers”, but I love them all and that’s because I love my characters. I know each of them as if I’d grown up with them. They are like my children because they are all a little bit of me. I’m a narcissistic writer and many times my family will read a passage (especially my mother) and know exactly what event in my life I was using as inspiration.
TMW: Life is always the best source for material. With at what is the biggest challenge in trying to sell a script?
C: Absolutely, it’s making the connections. There are many great writers out there and even more beginners. We all barrage producers and anybody we think may help us with our “perfect scripts.”
Unfortunately, producers tend to think in these terms: get me a story about a midget pimp that finds God…or whatever (no offense to God-fearing midget pimps). So, some great scripts get overlooked and we get the crap that we see now.
I drive my wife crazy because when we see a bad movie I go through this grand explanation of how some producer got funding for the movie, distribution, actors etc…when I have, by my calculation, one billion dollars worth of scripts right here.
TMW: I bet you do sir. So how do you deal with it when you get a rejection on one of your scripts?
C: It depends. I use InkTip, a valuable resource for aspiring writers and when I get a pass I think that my story just wasn't what they were looking for. The budget or location was too high or some other factor caused them to pass. I used to think, “what did I do wrong? Does it suck? I must suck!” And that was partially true. My formatting was wrong or I didn't use the three-act formula. The three-act formula, in my opinion, is the death of modern cinema. But that’s a different story.
TMW: That's a story I want to get into some time. I am sure it would be a great discussion. Since we are saving that for another time I was thinking that it seems like there are thousands of people that fancy themselves as having the ability to write a great script but so many of these scripts never see the light of day. What is it that keeps you writing?
C: Writing is great therapy for me. I get lost in the lives of my characters. I write a lot of short stories, poetry and free verse as well. So, instead of doing the wrong things, my characters do the wrong things for me. The more you write, the better you get and the easier it flows. I think a big stumbling lock is that people try to develop an entire story and then write it.
TMW: Which leads us to the next question. You have also written some books. How is the approach for writing a book different from writing a script to you?
C: They are, in fact, one in the same. I never write a script before I write the novel or novella. There are generally two theories to writing. Many writers use the outline method where they take the story and write out what they want to happen. This style is more important if you are writing a screenplay because certain things are supposed to happen at very specific times in a movie: the first act twist or inciting incident, the plot points, etc.
I prefer the style of writing what I see in my minds’ eye. My stories, as I write them, are pre-formed movies in my head. I only write down what I see and hear. I don’t involve myself in my characters’ lives, except subconsciously. I simply watch the movie and describe it, pausing and rewinding as I go along. So, when you read one of my books, say “The Suicide Flowers,” it will nearly mirror the movie. This is important because how many times have we read a book and the movie wasn't anything like it?
This is because of that evil three-act format.
TMW: So you mentioned this 3 act formula earlier and I am betting that some of my readers are scratching their heads. What exactly is the 3 act formula?
C: The three act formula for a screenplay is the reason that most modern movies are predicable: boy meets girl, boy gets girl (act I), boy loses girl (act II), boy gets girl back (act III). There, that's EVERY movie. And as a storyteller I'm fed up with this structure. How about boy meets girl, boy gets girl, girl leaves boy and boy commits suicide. End. Now there's a story. I feel like Hollywood thinks that we're a bunch of morons and couldn't handle the "reality" of such a story. Many independent film-makers feel the same way - they don't want to be inhibited by the structure.
TMW: I like your ending better too. I also am a big fan of indie films for this very reason.
For all those aspiring writers out there what would say is the first thing they should do when they sit down to write that first book or script?
C: First, read Stephen King’s book, “On Writing.” It’s a valuable resource and short enough that you can get through it pretty quick. Read a lot and read screenplays. Watch a movie and then read the screenplay. You'll be surprised how different it will be. If you have a movie idea, don’t go right into the screenplay format. First, write it out longhand and then format it into the screenplay formula/format.
TMW: That sounds like good advice. Well here we are at the end of our interview and since this is an interview with The Movie Whore, what are some of your favorite films that only a movie whore could appreciate?
C: I appreciate movies that tell great stories. I just saw “August Rush” and loved every minute of it. “Last of the Mohicans” is among my favorites. “The Evil Dead” trilogy should aspire many because of the successes of Bruce and Sam. I’m also a huge fan of old movies such as “The Rear Window” and “From Here to Eternity.” “Life is Beautiful” is a modern masterpiece. One of my guilty pleasures is re-watching all of the old Christmas movies and "Slingblade" because it gives every writer the inspiration that one can still make a great story into a great movie.
So there you have it. You can find Chooch at www.choochweb.com. Once there I encourage you to click around. There is even some excerpts from his writing in there and I must say it's pretty damn good. Chooch is still into music and still plays and tours. I guess you could say he is a bit of a renaissance man.
I enjoy talking to this guy and look forward to hitting him up for an interview after he gets his first deal. Who knows I may even try to get him to do some writing around here.