Thursday, March 14, 2013



Welcome back to this week's blog.  I write it with full of excitement as lots of things have transpired in just one week.  I have to laugh to myself because things happen so fast around me that my own husband and family can't keep up with me.  I get accused all the time by them not knowing something until they read it in the Blog.  Now that's bad.  Or, is it because I'm that busy and things around me are happening that fast?  I say, it is because things around me happen that fast and lightening speed.

Anyway, I had a wonderful time last Saturday working with the actors in the audition class based off my latest book THUMBS UP! HOW TO NAIL AUDITIONS.  Even more rewarding was the fact when the people in attendance informed me that they were learning things that they have never known before.  One statement still rings in my ears from Jerry Lopez Jr.  He said, "I just thought I was the King at breaking down a script,  that is until now."  That came after the hours lesson on breaking down a script for a cold read from the book.

If you have never attended any of my workshops before, there is something you need to know.  I am not a lecture type of person.  That is, don't come to one of my workshops thinking I'm going to be preaching from or reading directly from my book, because I don't.  I may refer to specific pages in the book, but my philosophy is, "Acting is interaction," therefore, I believe so is learning.

Another thing happened this week - I had to do another RE-WRITE on THE KEYSTROKE KILLER.  OMG!  How many times am I going to have to do that.  I just want to get on set and start filming.  I even told them, "I'll re-write anything you want on set."  But, sadly, that wasn't comforting enough.  Anyway, the re-write has good news and bad news.  The bad news is I had to cut one of the characters.  Sigh....Cry....Gasp....Panic if you are cast.....OH!  NEVER MIND.  I only had to cut one of the new characters we hadn't cast yet.  YEA!!!  So, take a deep breath and keep reading.  I managed the re-write and now, like all of you, I am in a holding pattern.  Come on! Really???  If that is how I feel, I can just imagine how all of you feel.  In fact, I told a dear friend of mine today, "Lesson learned.  I don't think I'll ever option another screenplay again."  The reason I say this, is so I can at least have control as a producer.

Stephen Beal, DH Lewis, Jamie Alyson,
 and Director of Photography Gary Sievers
Jack E. Curenton looking on while filming A.D.A.M.
Now speaking of control as a producer, I feel like I can talk about A.D.A.M.  I have almost finished the "Short" version of A.D.A.M. if that is what you want to call it.  It is 32 minutes in length.  It flows wonderfully and only five people have seen it.  The sad news is I'll never release it in it's current state.  Why?  Because, the whole point of what we filmed was to raise money for the feature film and the footage we shot will be incorporated into the EPK packaging for funding complete with interviews with the cast, producers; Jack E. Curenton, Robby Cook Stroud, and myself. UMMM!  That gives me an idea.  Maybe as part of the crowd funding reward, those that contribute can get either a copy of the 32 min short or a link to see it.  I'll think about that.  Not too bad of an idea.  Jack, what do you think?

Also this week the new cameras came in.  Oh happy day.  The only bad news is now my office is full of camera equipment, lighting equipment, greenscreens, fliters, underwater gear, still cameras etc.  I think my third bedroom is about to become nothing but a equipment room.  I like that idea as of now, not only will I save money on not having to rent cameras for A.D.A.M., but also for any film I choose to film.  I am ready; to go.  Life is good.  And, that is exactly my plan now that I have all of my own equipment, I definitly know how to write and produce a screenplay, I have access with LACA NOLA TALENT GROUP and  LACA NOLA TALENT AGENCY to the best actors in the United States, nothing is going to stop me now.  Or, let me correct that - nothing is going to stop ALL OF US now!  What an elevator ride it is going to be.

Now, I would be remiss if I didn't offer an apology to the screenwriters who are dedicated to this blog.  I know it is bad when an actor, I won't mention any names Joseph McRae, but when one tells me I need to write something for screenwriters because I haven't in awhile, so I offer my apology.  But, to make up, I have included two articles this week for screenwriters which are "Excerpts" from my book for screenwriters, INSIDE THE WRITER'S MIND.  If you're an actor, don't over look them and think for an instant that you don't need to read them.  Why?  Because, as the actors who attended my class last weekend discovered, acting has everything to do with the screenwriting.  Where do you think your actions and dialogue come from?  You guessed it, the screenwriter.  And, just like I have expressed over and over again for actors to learn everything about their craft, screenwriting goes along with that.  Why?  Because if you understand the craft of screenwriting, you'll better understand how your character and scene develops.  So, be sure to read those.

Lastly, I want to welcome a guest writer this week in honor of screenwriters - Justin Murphy, not only is he a fabulous actor, but is one of LACA NOLA'S screenwriters.  Be sure to check out his article and don't forget about the fabulous advice Jack Curenton always gives and Robby's insight.

Have a great week.

By Dr. Mel Caudle

“Genre aside, I”d like to make a film about people.”  Sophie Marceau – French Director, screenwriter, actor, and author best known for her role in Braveheart with Mel Gibson and the James Bond thriller The World is not Enough

Coming up with the concept for The Keystroke Killer was an inspiration.  I wanted to write something that was captivating and the characters in it would be real.  That was always my goal.  I share the love of film with Sophie Marceau, actor, screenwriter, and director.  She has a strong conviction that films should be about the people that the actors portray and not about the genre or plot.  I think she’s correct in her thinking.  

If the characters are real to the audience, everything else will fall into place.  Personally, I think the only thing labeling a screenplay or a film with a genre does is to put it a category to attract an audience.  It is a way to narrow the field of opportunity.  Many screenwriters, actors, and novelists have found themselves trapped into a genre.  I worked closely with Beau Marks, the executive producer, on the film Straw Dogs, written and directed by Ron Lurie, for six months in Shreveport, LA. 

During that filming, I got to become friends with all of the actors including the fantastic James Woods, Kate Bosworth, James Marsden, Alexander Skarsgard, Drew Powell, Rhys Corio, Billy Lush, and Dominic Parcel.  I can’t count the number of times I went into cast trailers or delivered packages to them in their hotel rooms.  It was quite an experience.   I also was lucky enough to be able to “party” with the cast.  We all went out often to the local bars and played pool and danced the night away.  I even attended the Brittney Spears Circus Tour concert with all but James Woods.  Jimmy didn’t want to go.  Rough job, but someone has to do it. 

James Marsden
One afternoon, we had down time. This time while shooting on location and “The Straw Dog Boys” were sitting outside of their trailers singing and cutting up.  James Marsden was playing his guitar.  He’s very talented at this.  During the course of the next couple of hours, it was the first time in months we all got to sit and be ourselves.  We weren’t focused on the film we were making.  It was during this time, that Marsden revealed that he was grateful for the opportunity to portray a character that seemed “Real.”  “I’ve always felt that I’ve been trapped into comedic roles,” Marsden said.  “For a while I thought I’d only play the funny and goofy guy.  But this character is real.” 

Portraying a “real” character is important for Marsden.  That day, he taught me a valuable lesson about screenwriting – make your characters as real as possible and put them in real situations.  I also came away knowing that audiences would love to watch a film with realism.  Lastly, the conversation between Marsden and I made me aware of the possibility of actors and screenwriters getting trapped inside a particular genre. 

 Bruce Willis said, “After I did the first Die Hard I said I’d never do another, same after I did the second one and the third.  The whole genre was running itself into the ground.  The action film genre is gonna have to come up with some new bad guys.” 

Willis knew that he could get trapped.  And, now another Die Hard movie has made it's declaration onto the film market.  What else do you remember him in or where he plays a different type of character? I rest my case.
George A Romero, producer of Night of the Living Dead.  Romero stressed, “As a filmmaker you get typecast just as much as an actor does, so I’m trapped in a genre that I love, but I’m trapped in it.”  Whereas some actors and directors feel as if they are trapped inside a genre, others feel gratitude for the entrapment.  

“Clearly, romantic comedy is my franchise genre, I don’t mind saying that, it’s true” Meg Ryan said.  “I love doing them and hopefully always will do them.”

The point I am making is as a screenwriter and/or as an actor be aware of the genre trap.  If you’re content in receiving recognition as a Sci-Fi writer or actor, then stick with it and only write, act or produce in that genre. In fact, most people that meet me think because of The Keystroke Killer, I only write science fiction.  Which, is far from reality.  So, my advice is if you want recognition as a fully developed screenwriter, write multiple screenplays in different genres.  Over the course of the last ten years, I wrote 16 screenplays and co-wrote five others. Take a look at the following list along with the associating genre.  Notice the variety in the genres for my screenplays.

·         Dragonfly Principal – Drama  (co-wrote with Gabriel Dyan)
·         Auditing Richard Biggs – Comedy (co-wrote with Dennis W. Martin)
·         A.D.A.M. – Sci-Fi
·         Secret Romances – Romance
·         Britneymeetup – Teen
·         Dreamweaver – Drama/Crime (Based from the novel by Michael Ragsdale)
·         The Angelics – Sci-Fi (Based from the novel by David Regplogle)
·         The Lost Disciple – Action (co-wrote with Duane Gross)
·         MK-UTLRA – Psychological Thriller
·         Demented Half - Horror
·         Never Stop Running – Mystery
·         The Keystroke Killer – Psychological Thriller/Sci-Fi
·         Pulse – Disaster
           Downtown – Courtroom Drama
·         Exile – Social Drama
·         The Other Man – Paranormal

The variety in genre allows me the freedom to express my work.  I’m not stuck into a particular genre for my screenplays.  However, I feel that it is important that you select a genre for your screenplay before you write it.  The genre will dictate the scenes in regard to the set, style, dialogue, costume, make-up, lighting, music etc.  Knowing your genre is to know yourself as a screenwriter long before you write the first word.

By Dr. Mel Caudle

Writing a screenplay is like holding the key to a time traveling machine.  Time travel, or the ability to move between different points along a historical timeline, is what we as screenwriters do.  We determine a starting point and from there go forward in time as well as return to years earlier.  Our pens, pencils, and writing software programs are our time machines.  Therefore, if you ask me if time travel is possible, I’d have to say, “Yes.”  Screenwriters do it all the time. 

Screenwriters can take what has already happened in the past and make it happen again in the future.  We can travel to the past and experience Camelot and walk among the Knights of The Round Table.  Likewise, we can live on a space station in 2592.  We are not limited to where we travel, how we travel, or who travels with us.  The screenwriter’s time machine stays ready.  We just have to be willing to step through the Stargate to the universe of the unknown.  Everything is game as long as we can imagine it.

Historically, we can look back on events.  We can transport to another place and another time.  This ability as a screenwriter doesn’t come without a consequence.  We must ask, “How factual in the events will I be?”  If the work is fiction, then fact doesn’t matter.  How we view an event can change and often does.  Screenwriters rely on the ability to do so.

On the set of Straw Dogs, I spent a lot of time also conversing with James Woods.  There is one thing about him I think it is important for everyone to know.  Woods is a very intelligent person.  He probably has an I.Q. of a genius and could hold his own with Stephen Hawking, theoretical physicist.  Both Hawking and Woods are prolific in many subjects and are very interesting to carry out a conversation.  I have met and spoken with both.

Woods and I began talking about how our past, on an individual perspective and a historical one, affects a screenwriter in how they will write about events.  “The ability to time travel while screenwriting is critical,” I said.  “You have to be ruthless to captivate an audience,” Woods said.  “You also have to know your history.  Or at least, your version.” 

Woods has a point when he said, “No matter what it is, if you get 10 people in the business talking about something, you get 10 different opinions, but you know, they’re amazingly well informed.”  I agree with him on varying opinions on a subject matter.  However, I feel there are three sides to every story, not ten.  The three sides are:  “What you say happened, what the other person says what happened, and somewhere in between.” 

History is no different.  Many fascinating historical events hold the potential to create an entire screenplay.  To use historical events as a screenwriter, in a creative fashion, is the essence of capturing real people as characters and visiting them with the use of a time machine.  I explained to Woods how I used the Y2K crisis to piggyback into the screenplay I wrote called PulsePulse is a disaster movie based on the world’s reliance on computers; and what would happen if the internet and all computer hard drives crashed.

The threat of the Millennium Bug or Y2K was real in 1999 as the world approached 2000.  The problem, in a nutshell, is simple.  Computer programmers of that time only used two digits, rather than four, to distinguish the current year.  For example, they used 99 instead of 1999.  The computer systems at the time couldn’t distinguish between any year ending in double zeros, e.g., 1900 and 2000, were coded as “00.”  Scientists feared that the internal clock in all computers would malfunction when they rolled from 1999 or 99 to 2000 or 00 there would be a catastrophic crash.

Although computers don’t need the internal clock to operate, a clock malfunction will shut down computers.  Financial analysts estimated that the cost of the glitch would be more that the cost of War World I and II combined.  Predictions were made that there would be blackouts, air traffic control failure, food and water shortages, Pentagon defense system failure, satellite failure, bank failures, public transportation failure, and inflation.  Wall Street feared an economic depression worse that the 1929 crash and the recession of 1970 combined. 

During this time, Prince, musician, recorded the song 1999 that appeared on his fifth album by the same name.  If you get a chance, Google the lyrics to this song as it captures the fear of the time.  The chorus of the song is:

“Yeah hey, they say two thousand zero zero party over, oops, out of time so tonight I’m going to party like it’s nineteen ninety-nine.” Prince - 1999

People feared an electronic Armageddon.  Things quickly were becoming out of control.  Y2K was billed by the government as an “Event Horizon.”  In layman’s terms, an “Event Horizon” is associated with space travel and is the boundary in space that once reached, the gravitational pull becomes so great that to escape would be impossible and you would find yourself surrounded by a black hole and in a massive void.  No one or nothing can save you and nothing can affect the inevitable.  It is the point of no return.  It is the impossible possible situation.

John Hamre, United States Deputy Secretary of Defense stated, “The Y2K problem is the electronic equivalent of the El Nino and there will be nasty surprises around the globe.”  Y2K survival kits and books soon followed.  It was very similar to how American’s prepared for a nuclear disaster in the 1950s.  People worldwide began to stockpile can goods, water, flashlights, gas masks, and other survival products fearing the worst.

Take a look at the following scene from Pulse.

Example – Scene 52 from Pulse – written by Dr. Melissa Caudle


General Howard walks briskly toward the War Room.  Commander Stewart and Dr. Virginia Hale are in close pursuit.  General Howard stops abruptly.

              GENERAL HOWARD
You ready for this?

              DR. VIRGINIA HALE
As ready as I can be.  I’ve stockpiled
food, water, and survival basics.

I’m not willing to accept Armageddon. 
Our scientists will find a way to stop a
complete meltdown.  It’s a computer
for Christ Sake, not a nuclear bomb.

              GENERAL HOWARD
We have less than twelve hours until the end of 1999.

I remember the Y2K days clearly.  I was employed at John Martyn High School as principal.  I made back-up copies of the school’s entire computer system and school’s records onto floppy disks.  Do you remember floppy disks?  They didn’t hold much data compared to the portable hard drives we have available today.  It took over 150 disks to back-up the data and I don’t remember how long it took me.  It seemed like forever. 

As a school system, we had to assure the United States Department of Education that we were Y2K compliant and that we addressed the issue.  We also had to have backup plans to operate our schools in case we had no electricity.  Generally, it was a major headache as an administrator. 

We also held an assembly in the cafeteria to watch Clinton’s address to the nation where he told us, “The government will not allow the Year 2000 problem to happen.”  Like many others, I had my doubts of whether or not he was telling the truth.  After all, I believed he lied about Monica Lewinsky, the blue dress, and his relationship with her.  What would make me believe he was telling the truth now?  I wrote about the blue dress into the screenplay Dragonfly Principal.  Look at the following selected scenes used to emphasize how real events can lead to fictional writing.

Example – Blue Dress Scenes 134, 135, 136, 202 and 203 from Dragonfly Principal – Written by Dr. Mel Caudle and Gabriel Dyan

Carol works behind her desk.  Betty stands in front of her desk with a pad and pen in her hands ready to take dictation.  A TEACHER ASSISTANT knocks on the open door.

                 TEACHER ASSISTANT
Doctor Michaels, excuse the interruption, special
delivery from Fed Ex.

I’ll take it.

Teacher Assistant hands the package to Betty.
Thank you.

Betty watches the Teacher Assistant leave.

Open it, don’t just stand there.

Betty opens the package while Carol continues to work.  She retrieves a note and reads it silently.  She looks intrigued.

What did you do over the weekend?

Nothing, just the same old boring stuff.  Gary’s out
of town.  I sat around, cleaned house and watched Sci-fi.

You didn’t dance with the President of the
United States?

What the hell are you talking about?  Give
that to me.

Carol jerks the note out of Betty’s hand.  Carol stares at the note typed on the White House President’s Stationery. 
Sweet Caroline, Thank you for the dance Saturday
night.  I look forward to your return.  Here is a
gift for your next trip to Washington. 
Please accept my personal invitation to dinner.
R. S. V. P. by calling two oh two, five, five, five, nine,
nine, six, nine.

Carol pauses and looks at Betty confused.

This is a sick joke.  I was not in Washington and
I did not dance with Clinton.  Don’t you think
I’d be bragging about that?

Betty removes a beautiful blue silk cocktail dress, just Carol’s size from the box.

If it’s a sick joke, it’s an expensive one.

Betty raises the dress and examines it.

I did not dance with the President.

Carol places the note in her green journal.

                    MR. JOHNSON (V.O.)
Mr. CASI, report to Room One Oh Seven.

Carol bolts from her chair, rushes past Betty, and knocks the blue dress to the floor.

135.     EXT.  SCHOOL - DAY

Establishing Shot.  SUPERIMPOSE:  “Six Months Later”


Carol works at the computer.  Carol coughs and wheezes.

INSERT:  STOCK FOOTAGE - TELEVISION (O.S.) MSNBC news story of Monica Lewinsky and a stained blue dress.

Betty, come quick!  You’re not going to
believe this.

Betty enters and stands in the doorway.  Carol and Betty watch the television.

And what else did you do besides dance
that night?  Your blue dress is still hanging
in the bathroom.

                              BILL CLINTON (O.S.)

I did not have sex with that woman.

I did not dance with that President.  I
never even met him.  


Sara and Kayla sit at the kitchen table.  School books, notebooks, pens and paper, and library books are scattered on the table.  Sara and Kayla study.  Carol and Virginia prepare dinner.  Sara flips pages from a library book.

Look at this, everybody.  This picture looks
just like Mom and she’s dancing with President

Kayla leans over to the library book.

Sure does look like you, Mom.

What are you girls talking about?
Sara holds the book and hands it to Carol.

Look, It’s you.

Carol and Virginia approach the kitchen table.  Carol looks closely at the picture in the book.  Virginia looks over Carol’s shoulder.  The picture is Bill Clinton’s dance with Carol who wears the red formal gown.
Certainly looks like me.  But I’ve never met
the President.  Finish your Social Studies
report and homework, Girls.

Carol exits.


Carol rummages through her clothes.  She sees a blue cocktail dress and then pulls a red formal gown from the rack that matches the one in the book “The Clinton Years.”  Carol’s eyes widen and she shakes her head.
                     VIRGINIA (O.S.)
Virginia enters the room.  Carol hands her the red dress.
Look familiar?
Enough!  I’m taking you back to Doctor

What does the scene from Pulse and the scenes from Dragonfly Principal have to do with The Keystroke Killer?  The impact from both is clear – use real life experiences to enhance the plot and fiction in a screenplay.  This will bring a sense of realism to your screenplay.

By Jack E Curenton
If you’re not given sides for an audition in advance, but asked to bring in a monologue or piece to read, the material you read in an audition affects the impression you make. Use material that is representative of you, in terms of both age and type, and that will make you look your best. Concentration is the key during the reading phase of the interview. Some general auditions ask for a classical, or a modern piece, a comedy, drama, etc... It's best to have two of each in in your “pocket”, in case you are asked to perform another. If you audition a lot, it's a good idea to vary your monologue readings. This keeps you fresh when you perform, and your lively performance may very well result in a callback.
When dressing for an audition, consider first the role you're auditioning for. You don't have to arrive at the audition in full costume, (although I’ve been asked to show up as a Pirate, Scientist, hobo, cowboy, farmer….heck, even a leprechaun!)... However, do dress with the essence of the character. Here are a few examples of roles and appropriate audition-wear:
Young Mother/Father: Twin set and slacks or a skirt for women; slacks and a nice shirt or sweater for a man.
Businessperson: Suit and/or at least a sport coat over slacks. Women can wear skirt suits and/or slacks.
Non-descript/General: Wear your normal street clothes, but steer away from anything too trendy or flashy, unless they ask for 70’s Disco!
If your audition is a screen test, steer clear of wearing white, as it washes out your skin color and doesn't read well on screen and any tight patterns will seem to move all over your body!. The best color to wear for screen is a medium blue (like a deep periwinkle). Remember the audition is to showcase your acting talent, not your wardrobe!
Cold read. Sounds scary, huh? Actually, cold reads can be a lot of fun.
A cold read is when you are handed a script and asked to perform a scene. This is often done in lieu or in conjunction with monologues as part of your audition. Many actors fear this type of audition because they feel they do not have time to prepare. Of course, there are ways to prepare for these types of auditions.
If you already know the piece you're auditioning from, try to find a copy of it and read the entire piece. If you're auditioning from an unproduced script, your CD will most likely give you a brief background of your character. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or confirm what the CD has said.  Overall, don't sweat it. Have fun. Play! Cold reads can often be thrilling experiences, as you don't run the risk of being over-prepared or burned out from over-read monologues. If you just get the sides at the audition, then take time to read them over….as many times as you can to get the overall flavor for the scene. DON’T RUSH!
Cold reads are very common in film acting, and while this is a thrilling and energizing experience, it is also quite nerve wracking as you must now focus not only on your performance, but also your lines as they are not memorized.
Reading from the script is a vital film auditioning technique that can take years to master, but with several tips, and a lot of practice, you can be well-on your way.
One of the most helpful tips I received as a young actor when it came to cold readings was to read the scene at least five times without trying to memorize my lines. You see, as long as you have a solid understanding of the emotional landscape and primary objective of the scene, you will know where to point your emotional compass when it comes to the character.
Although the actual lines are not memorized, you will have the blueprint of the scene memorized after reading the scene no less than five times. While reading the scene, focus on understanding the objectives and goals of your character within the scene.
Now that you have read the scene several times, you must then actually perform the scene. Although there are many different tips when it comes to cold read line delivery, the most important thing to remember is to never RUSH your read through.
When you are nervous it can be easy to rush through your lines; however, since you don't actually KNOW your lines you do not want to rush through them as you may miss a key emotional point.
As a general rule of thumb: take your time when delivering non-memorized lines and don't be afraid of making mistakes.

If you only learn one thing about auditions, remember this: Professionalism goes a long way.
It's not just about looking professional; it's about acting that way. Be prompt (view being on time as arriving 15 min early) and courteous during your auditions. Take as little of the auditors' time as necessary. If you receive a callback, be sure you are available for rehearsal and/or shooting dates. You don't want to waste the director's time by auditioning even though you already know you have conflicts and can’t be at their shoot/performance. If you do not receive a part, do not call the theater/production house/etc. (…asking What Were You Thinking By NOT Casting Me?? Really bad idea!) Chalk it up as a role that was not for you and move on. (There will be a lot of them in your career, so get used to it.)
Before you enter an audition, make sure that you are as informed as possible. Whenever possible, make it your business to get to know as much as possible about the director and his or her previous work. Similarly, knowing about your casting director can help you understand the way s/he works in an audition scenario.
If you are attending an open audition (usually for a part in a play) – where casting is open to anyone who wishes to try out – think of the audition in terms of your past and future work. Be sure that you are of similar type to the part that you are auditioning for. Some directors like to ask you about the piece as a whole, so if possible, read the entire script -- not just your part -- so that you are able to discuss it comfortably.
We all have them. One month you're auditioning like gangbusters and then...nothing. No one's calling; no roles seem to be right for you. Or worse, the few auditions you get a;; seem to end terribly. You're just not on your game. When a ball player is batting 300 (he can make a million buck$+ per year) but that means he’s hitting 1 out of 3 balls, and those hits aren’t even all homeruns! Once I had 4 times in a row that I was put on “Avail” and booked all 4…..but then the next 3 “Avails” I didn’t book any and 2 didn’t even give me the courtesy of releasing me from the “Avail”!
Don't panic if you find yourself in an auditioning slump; after you have found what works to land a few roles, your auditioning can become mechanical, leading to a slump. Get back in the game by focusing your training regimen and attacking each new audition. Slumps can also result from disillusion with the auditioning process. When this happens, it is best to take a week or two off to refocus other aspects of your life before returning to acting.
Here is a link to several resources for you as an actor to find answers to your career.

Murder In Screenwriting…And Storytelling Overall
Written by Justin Murphy

Murder is the harshest and most unfortunate truths we have in our reality. One we hear about on the news every single time we turn around. Yet, it is possibly one of the most entertaining elements of our fictions. Hence all the legendary films, popular television series and classic published works that somehow involve the tragic occurrence.

I cannot even begin to tell you how many of my published works on Amazon Kindle have stories that are somehow concerned with murder. However, such stories have earned me a good number of sales here in The United States (while The UK market is more interested in my Sci-Fi/Fantasy material). Hopefully, some of these works will indeed be made into films.

At one point, I was so motivated by the fact any murder story I wrote sold that I would quickly churn out short murder stories and novellas in quick succession. And they would have very little character development at all, since shorter plot driven are bigger sellers for the American market than detailed or in depth or in depth character studies ever could.

As for any research on serial killers that scared me, there was at least one incident where I researched the murder cases of The Original Night Stalker from the 1970’s in Los Angeles (a.k.a The East Area Rapist in San Francisco) for my novel Shattered Dreams, dealing with a fictional serial killer in 1940’s-1950’s Hollywood. The website profiling a composite drawing of him and a recorded phone call of his voice was enough to cause me to hide in the bathroom before heading to bed immediately.

With the encouragement of older and more experienced writers who went through the same experience at one time or another, I was able to see my way through the novel to publication. Shattered Dreams later spawned a sequel, a novel entitled Horror In Burbank, which both feature the lead detective. Along with Murder Is Golden, a companion novel to Shattered Dreams, from the killer’s perspective.

Yet by writing another novel, Anger Always Flowers, its screenplay adaptation, the adaptations of a few other published works, and an original screenplay entitled The Rogue, I realized the beauty of how murder can be tied to a more character driven work as a back-story element, an afterthought. It can even be augmenting, if not deconstruct or reconstruct, the traditional detective story. Under the right circumstances, the rare exception does not have to be a factor in such a story at all.

Through the magic of using suspense, intrigue, and tension in my writing, I learned the act of a murder in a screenplay or story in general can be any one of these things instead of being confined to your typical serial killer romp. Such as how in Anger Always Flowers, the murder in an unresolved issue from the past stemming from a conflict between the New Orleans Mafia and the Klu Klux Klan.

The victim in question is Angelique Bouchard, the daughter of a New Orleans area aristocrat, and also one of its leading Klansman. This is one reason behind her very death, but it also very much has to do with her being romantically and sexually involved with Giuseppe Antonini, one of the chief lieutenants under mob boss, Maurice Rougeau. In this instance, there is betrayal all around and the effects of Angelique’s murder lasts for years.

Years later, Antonini (a Sicilian immigrant) is a recovering alcoholic who is now more humble and remains close with Angelique’s sister Hannah and her own family. In addition, being unable to save his marriage to a Texas real estate agent as a result of grief over Angelique’s death, whose own father died a number of years later. There is no doubt all hell is going to break lose after Antonini discovers his old mob boss preaching on an old religious station.

A different example would be Noir Originale about Max Adams, an American soldier stationed in Pearl Harbor investigating German Expressionist artworks being smuggled through there. He quickly falls in love with a Nazi spy named Ilsa before the famed attack at the hands of the Japanese, yet; their romance blossoms over the course of World War II. Yet after becoming intimate, complications ensue regarding an eventual pregnancy which leads to murder.

While, Do You Really Know Me, does not involve a murder, there is a great deal of intrigue regarding a young kid going to a small town in Georgia where he encounters an old friend of his late grandfather’s, who may or may not be a much alive James Dean. The intrigue is over the fact roughly half the town believes it is him through hero worship of this man at an Annual James Dean Film Festival held in this town, while the other half does not with the young kid caught in the middle and his grandfather’s old friend is very hush hush in regards to the truth.

Murder In Texarkana takes a more socio-political stance on a murder story while still being a tad character driven. A young investigator inherits an old detective agency and must solve the murder of a deceased Muslim couple with a Texas State Senator as the prime suspect, all the while the young investigator is still trying to get his private investigator’s license to begin with.

And lastly, there is my original screenplay The Rogue, which continues the character driven and socio-political themes, but this time in a spy genre vein. It involves a double agent for The FBI and CIA trying to come to grips with the death of his sister inside The World Trade Center on 9/11, exploring whether or not The U.S. Government is indeed corrupt.

To conclude this guest blog, I merely reiterate what I previously said in that murder can propel any story in any way possible. All one needs to do is be creative and look beyond the commercial yet repetitive confines of a serial killer story. Although learning from that example and making a small amount of money while polishing more character driven and creative plot ideas does help.

Here are links to the original books on Amazon Kindle:
Anger Always Flowers:

NOTE:  JUSTIN MURPHY is not only a screenwriter, but also a wonderful actor.  He is represented by LACA NOLA TALENT GROUP.


Dear Diary,

I am finally back in New Orleans after being away for 10 days. I have been taking care of my Mom and the dogs. My Mom was in the hospital for a week due to three blood clots in her leg. They are dissolving nicely and she is home. As for the dogs, I didn’t get much sleep the first nite since I had 4 body mooches in bed with me. The next night I let them know the boundaries and all was well. She said it was hard staying in the hospital since she didn’t feel sick. We had a lot of fun and spent quality time together which I needed before my trip to Los Angeles. Even if it put me a week behind schedule, it was well worth it. 

So now it looks like Dr.. Mel and I will be leaving on the 25th of March. We will be stopping over for one night at my son James’ house. Then heading across Texas and onto the west coast. Mel and I have spent the day catching up on work and laying out plans for LACA NOLA in LA. We are both extremely excited about our road trip cross country in my new JAG. 

I still need to find a place to stay, but I’m not worried, everything will fall into place. I think this is going to be a life changing experience living and working in HOLLYWOOD. Please God just keep us safe and healthy on our amazing journey. Now as for the weekend, I will be spending quality time with my boys, Dylan and Taylor. I’m gonna really miss them till school is out., at which time I will be back for a month in June or maybe fly them to LA, I will just have to play it by ear.