When I was in kindergarten in 1973 I wrote on my report card in crayon what I wanted to be when I grew up was a writer. Where that came from, out of someone who couldn’t even read yet I don’t know. In Jr. High School I had an old IBM Selectric typewriter I wore the motor band out on and kept it running with the heavy rubber bands they use to hold broccoli bunches together. I took Hemingway’s advice that the tool you write with needs to be beat up and dull from hard use and began traveling the world as soon as I could, gathering the raw material to distill stories out of. A pilot since age 16, I was inspired by ‘Top Gun’ to join the Navy. It turned out the Navy was nothing like ‘Top Gun,’ but I loved traveling to exotic lands. I was never without the writer’s staple before smart phones, a small memo notebook in my back pocket and today have a box of dozens of them filled cover to cover. All of this I did in preparation for that one glorious day when I would find my own unique voice as a writer and be entrusted by Calliope with the sacred honor of transcribing stories from out of the cosmic ether.
Jolie Vanier as Gabriella in
‘Gabriella’s American’ by Warren Weisman
I found my writing voice in December, 1997, a date more important to me than my birthday. It came in the form of three short stories that remain unpublished— in fact, not worthy of publication—but writing them I recognized what I call the ‘Mind’s Ear.’ The Mind’s Ear is best understood like when the novice musician at long last can recognize notes in the music, the Mind’s Ear subconsciously guides the rhythm and the tempo of the story, where to relax, where to insert metaphors and key pieces of dialog. The Mind’s Ear to me is where the musician closes their eyes and becomes a conduit through which the music flows. Crossing over into what Dizzy Gillespie called the metaphysical, where the musician no longer plays the music, the music plays the musician. For my younger readers, think of it as where you switch off your targeting computer and use the Force.
Nothing in the world surpasses the euphoria of writing when my Mind’s Ear possesses me. Everything else in life—including eating or drinking—-becomes secondary, the writing becomes a joy and you stay up late and can’t wait to get up the next morning to get back at it. I’ve written a dozen feature screenplays, four of them with my Mind’s Ear, which I both consider my best works were also the fastest to write. My masterpiece TIGER ON THE WIND took seven days, the Sci-fi epic SYNTH came to me in a dream and twelve days later I had the 120 page screenplay complete. The short film Gabriella’s American which will be the first offering of my production company Broke Helix Motion Pictures & Television this year was written in a single day.
Mark Alexander Herz as the German SS officer
in ‘Gabriella’s American’ by Warren Weisman
At first I tried the usual route to production and tried to sell some screenplays and TV series I created. I got a manager who got me some reads at the highest levels of Hollywood. The response we got gave me little doubt what an oxymoron creative executive is. It was as if Hollywood had both a debilitating obsession with box office numbers and an inability to grasp the correlation between great stories and those numbers. It became abundantly clear when it came time to choose between my intricately woven stories and changes some semi-literate twenty-something wanted to make to get writing credit, who was going to lose. Fortunately, at this time the digital revolution was fully underway and I decided the technology—the cameras and editing software—-had advanced enough to the point where I could direct my own writing. It is my nature to be much more comfortable with my fate in my own hands and I love being able to shepherd my stories as I learn about the filmmaking process. And when something goes wrong now, I don’t have to look around for whose fault it is.
‘Gabriella’s American’ by Warren Weisman
Although I’m new to filmmaking, I feel like I’ve always had a strong connection to independent film lovers, who are such a diverse, highly intelligent crowd more likely to appreciate a well-crafted story. I feel truly blessed to be alive at this hour and be a part of the digital revolution as it unfolds. I can’t wait to see how much undiscovered talent is out there that now has an opportunity to see their work read, seen and heard. I know it’s a cliché, but it’s the truth you should always follow your dreams, to that I would add listen to your Mind’s Ear.
Writer-Director Warren Weisman is presently crowdfunding for the World War Two drama short Gabriella’s American.
ABOUT WARREN WEISMAN:
First-time director Warren Weisman’s biography reads like fiction. He was thrown out of the French Foreign Legion for attempting to enlist underage and went on to ride a Harley-Davidson chopper with the Hells Angels. He was in the US Navy onboard the aircraft carrier USS Independence when it was the first warship to respond to the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. An airplane pilot since 16, he spent two years in the Alaska bush recreating Thoreau’s Walden experiment in Alaska’s Talkeetna River Valley, among the state’s highest concentrations of black and brown bears. He is the inventor of a home biogas system that generates methane gas from kitchen scraps to run generators and provide clean-burning cooking fuel.
The project has 15 year-old acting sensation Jolie Vanier attached to play the lead role of Gabriella and her father will be played by French actor Fabrice Mougas. Although the cast speaks French, the film will be in English other than some German by Mark Alexander Herz, the imposing tough guy who plays the German SS officer sent to find the American. The dramatic conclusion is an outdoor scene to be filmed at a Los Angeles area movie ranch with authentic World War II German military vehicles. Gabriella’s American takes place in wartime, but there is no shooting or explosions, it is a moral dilemma faced by a young woman determined to do the right thing while everyone around her wants to do the easy thing.
The short is intended for the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, and hopes to make the July 12 late deadline for the finished film.
A strong-willed teenage girl in Occupied France defies her entire village in an attempt to save a wounded American flyer from the Nazis