Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hollywood screenwriter tells how it's done this weekend

You may not know it, but you know Larry Karaszewski. 

This is the guy, who with his longtime writing/directing/producing partner Scott Alexander, has written the screenplays for "Ed Wood," "The People vs. Larry Flynt" and "Man in the Moon" among others.

The two won the Best Screenplay Golden Globe and the Writers Guild of America's Paul Selvin Award for "Larry Flynt." The film, produced by Michael Hausman and directed by Milos Forman, was shot in the Memphis area and was recruited and assisted by the Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commission with special assistance provided by then-Tennessee state Senator Marsha Blackburn.

"Larry Flynt" left the largest direct spend of any film ever shot in Memphis:  $7.642 million during the shoot that lasted from January to April, 1996 according to Film Commission records. Stars such as Woody Harrelson and Courtney Love called Memphis home for months, and the Hon. D'Army Bailey — then of Shelby County Circuit Court — received co-star billing. 

The Karaszewski/Alexander writing team also received a Best Screenplay nomination from the WGA for "Ed Wood." Other credits include the Milos Forman/Michael Hausman film "Man On The Moon," a biopic about performance artist Andy Kaufman — particularly the Memphis-flavored wrestling phase of his career when he butted heads with Jerry Lawler.

Karaszewski is in town this weekend for the Indie Memphis Film Festival. He'll be introducing the screening of "Ed Wood" Saturday at 10:30 p.m. He will also be part of the "Script to Screen" panel at 3 p.m. Saturday with another top screenwriter, Matt Lopez ("The Sorcerer's Apprentice"), and they will discuss the realities of the scriptwriting process and how things change from original concept to finished film. 

Karaszewski's appearance was made possible by Adam Hohenberg and is sponsored by Alarum Pictures.

In an interview this week, Karaszewski talked about screenwriting, passion and the Memphis connection. 

Q — Between "Larry Flynt" and "Man on the Moon," Memphis keeps showing up in your life. How did that happen?

A — It's just a coincidence. We shot "Larry Flynt" there because Memphis was a fantastic location for us. We needed someplace that could pass for the 1970s and the downtown Memphis area had kept its dignity I would say. It hadn't been knocked down for a bunch of Banana Republics or had Gap stores put in. So we wound up shooting in Memphis for that film because it had a beautiful look. Films are shot in Memphis because Memphis is a great place to shoot. The people were really cooperative and we had a great time filming in Memphis.

The Andy Kaufman movie, Memphis wound up being such a big part of Andy's life. At that time the wrestling circuit had many different regions and when Andy decided to become a wrestler he hooked up with Jerry Lawler and was focused on that area, so that was a complete coincidence. 

But Memphis is a very lively community and that's why there's always so many fascinating things going on there and that's why I'd keep on coming back. 

Q — How was the dynamic between Jim Carrey who played Kaufman, and Jerry Lawler who played himself?

A — Jim Carrey was a very method actor and really wanted to be Andy Kaufman or Andy's various characters. So he would treat Jerry Lawler as if he were actually having a feud with him. He would act like there was a giant wrestling war between the two of them, so that made the set very interesting. On days when Andy was a wrestler, Jim would come in and totally be the same character the entire day. That was a crazy movie.

Q — What led you to make "Ed Wood"?

A — That film was really exhilarating because we had been stereotyped by Hollywood as writing crappy little-kid movies. For us, "Ed Wood" was a coming out as filmmakers where we really tried to embrace the passion of Ed Wood as a filmmaker. Until that time, people had used Ed Wood as a punching bag, calling him the worst filmmaker of all time and always making fun of him. We decided to embrace him and show how he was an early American independent filmmaker who made films that were quite personal. You can make fun of "Glen or Glenda," but this is a guy putting his story up on the screen, embarrassing as it is. He's trying to be as honest about it as he possibly can. 

We got harsh critical reviews for our early movies and we came to the realization that nobody starts out trying to make a bad movie, everyone's trying to make a good movie. Obviously there's a lot of humor in "Ed Wood" but we don't go out of our way to make fun of the guy who is a true innocent spirit and just loves, loves, loves movies and gets his band of little kooky people together to help him create a dream. 

And that wound up changing our lives because as we were writing, it showed up on Tim Burton's desk and he loved it and loved our approach. So it turned out to be this thing we were very good at, taking real life, odd true stories and turning them into films and that became what we did. It gave us the cachet to make a movie like "Larry Flynt" and a movie like "Auto Focus" (about actor Bob Crane). We were making very indie style movies but through the traditional Hollywood system.  

Q — What's the most important thing for a screenwriter to know?

A — It's a cliche, but you've really got to write from your heart. You've got to write something you want to see. If you're trying to second-guess the marketplace or write what you think is going to sell, that always winds up biting you in the butt. We wrote Ed Wood because we really wanted to see Ed Wood. We really wanted to see Larry Flynt. These are the movies that if we had nothiing to do with them and we opened the paper on Friday and saw they were coming up, we'd be first in line. 

It comes to having passion about your subject matter. If you're writing it just to sell it or just as a sample, it's going to read like that. Write something that you just can't wait to see as a motion picture. That kind of passion comes through on the page. Maybe it won't be something that sells for a lot of money but they'll read it and say this guy or girl really has feeling in their writing. That gets noticed out here, those kinds of scripts get passed around. 


Other Karaszewski credits include adapting the Stephen King story "1408," and producing Paul Schrader's "Auto Focus." Upcoming projects include writing "The Addams Family" for Tim Burton and directing "Big Eyes," a biopic about the 1960s artists Walter and Margaret Keane. Larry's humorous commentaries on cult films can be seen on Joe Dante's website

--Karaszewski and Lopez will participate in Indie Memphis' first-ever "Pitch Session" (noon Saturday at the Brooks) and "Mentor Sessions" throughout the weekend.

--The "Script to Screen" panel is Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Festival Cafe @ Playhouse on the Square. Free.

—"Ed Wood" screens from a 35mm print Saturday at 10:30 p.m. at Studio on the Square. Sponsored by Adam Hohenberg's Alarum Pictures. Arrive early for a live in-theatre performance by Warble. 

For tickets, go to And for all the info you need about the panels and conversations at the 13th Indie Memphis Film Festival, go to

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Extras needed for “Losers Take All”

“Losers Take All” is seeking extras for the film’s final day of shooting here in Memphis Saturday September 11th.

They are seeking men and women, all ethnicities, ages 18-35 to fill the roles of followers of an 80’s punk band. Extras will receive free live music and comedians, free beer, and raffle prizes through out the day.  Some of the raffles include BB Kings and Sweet Grass gift certificates, a chance to pitch your movie idea to the Producers, and Grizzlies tickets.

In addition, “Losers Take All” is looking for unmodified cars from the 70s-80s (pre-’88). Please send photos and contact information to

“Losers Take All” is directed by Alex Steyermark, director of "Prey For Rock & Roll" and "One Last Thing".  Steyermark will direct Kyle Gallner of recent "A Nightmare On Elm Street" fame as well as “Warehouse 13” star, Allison Scagliotti and Tania Raymonde of “LOST” in the upcoming film “Losers Take All”.  The cast also includes Alexia Rasmussen, Aaron Himelstein, Billy Kay, Peter Brensinger, and Adam Herschman.

“Losers Take All”, set in the world of mid-1980’s American independent rock music, follows a fictional punk/pop band "The Fingers" as they stumble, stagger and strum their way in what everyone thinks is the opposite direction of success--commercial or otherwise.  But they are in the right place at the right time and the mainstream is eager to embrace the D.I.Y. sounds of the underground. It’s a raucous love letter to an era when for most bands, life meant touring around the country in a cramped van, sleeping on stranger’s floors, selling your records after each show, and where fans were earned through powerful live shows at small clubs, reviews in ‘zines, and do-it-yourself promotions.

“Losers Take All” was written by Andrew Pope and Winn Coslick from a story by Roger Rawlings and Ed Bradin.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Talent for reality show

Auditions today and tomorrow. For details, go here. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

On Location: MEMPHIS lineup

John Beifuss announces the program for the On Location: MEMPHIS International Film Festival here. Included are "One Came Home" by Willy Bearden and David Tankersley, and the documentary "Hometown Glory." The festival runs from April 22-25. For more info, go here.

Independent film call for headshots

The producers of the Memphis indie film, THE ROMANCE OF LONELINESS, invite you to send your headshot and resume if you are interested in auditioning.

We are looking for actors of all ethnicities, ages 20 - 75. There are especially a large number of female roles.

Please email ASAP if you would like the opportunity to audition between this Thursday through Saturday (March 25 - 27).

INCLUDE: Headshot and availability Thursday through Saturday.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Scriptwriting workshop

Before the actor was cast, the director was hired, the sound was mixed or the wardrobe created, there was the script.  Fuel Film, a not-for-profit cooperative that promotes the growth of the Memphis film industry through education and investment, is hosting the workshop, It Starts with the Script, Saturday, March 20, 2010 at 1 p.m. in the new University Center at the University of Memphis.  The cost to attend the event is $10. 

Those interested in attending may register at

The action-oriented workshop will feature guest speakers and facilitators including entertainment attorneys, screenwriting professors and professional screenwriters.

“Our goal is to focus on the best practices for writing for film,” says Fuel Film Founder Matt Beickert.  “Aspiring filmmakers and screenwriters need to learn the proper anatomy of a professional script so that they can increase their chances of selling their screenplay or securing funding if they plan to produce it themselves.”

Many aspiring screenwriters have few problems coming up with ideas, the challenge usually arises with structure, character development and ultimately how to move from the stage of creation to the stage of producing or selling.  Fuel Film’s It Starts with the Script, hopes to resolve the common as well as complex issues when it comes to writing, selling and producing a screenplay.

About Fuel Film: Fuel Film was founded in 2009 in an effort to help get more local films made. For more information and our 2010 Schedule of Events, go to:

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Extras needed

Passing this info along:

We are in need of extras for a drunk driving PSA (MADD). Would you, or someone you know, or both, like to do some extra work? You would be donating your time for a wonderful cause. Please call me or email me asap if you are interested.
All my best,
Colors Agency
daryl@colorsagency. com

Tuesday, March 9
Memphis Funeral Home
At least 30 adults and some teens too!
Funeral attire
Any gender or race
sitting in the pews as the casket comes in.
Note: If anyone needs to bring children they can sit with the parents as long as they are age appropriate to attend a funeral and can sit quietly

Tuesday, March 9
Memphis Funeral Home
2pm - 6pm
15-20 people - all adults
BG for visitation. Attire can be more casual - coats and ties not required but OK. If anyone from the morning group wants to stay over and be in the afternoon scene that is fine.
Any race or gender - although I do need more African Americans from 2pm-3:30pm (for Kathy's scene). This is probably my most critical need.

Wednesday, March 10
FedEx World headquarters 
4pm - 8pm
20 adults - they will be sitting in a nightclub, drinking and listening to a comic tell drunk jokes. This will be intercut with the wreck scene. need people who can project well - we will shoot lots of reaction shots and closeups of people laughing. Casual attire but appropriate for going out.