Gerald Hanks Filmography

Monday, March 8, 2021

SAVE THE LANDMARK RIVER OAKS!

Whether you've written one screenplay or a hundred, whether you prefer watching movies in a theatre or streaming at home, whether you've focused your career on writing for features or writing for TV, every screenwriter should concern themselves with the potential closure of a classic movie theater.

In Houston, the Landmark River Oaks (LRO) Theater has hosted screenings ranging from "Casablanca" to "Yellow Submarine" to "The Blair Witch Project". The theater has also hosted hundreds of midnight screenings, including the infamous "Rocky Horror Picture Show".

The theater's landlords have not offered the site a new lease and are threatening to shut it down at the end of March. When protesters gathered outside the theater to support the venue, the landlord posted signs that protesters would face prosecution as trespassers ... on a public sidewalk.

For more details, check out the full story.

As many communities across the country face (or have faced) the closure of beloved "art house" theaters, I thought I'd share this letter I sent to the Houston Mayor, the Houston City Council member in whose district the LRO resides, and the two top of executives of the LRO's property management company.

This issue doesn't just affect a neighborhood in Houston, Texas. It affects anyone who wants to get their story told on a screen, including screenwriters, directors, producers, actors, and crew members. As these venues die off, so do your opportunities to have an audience see your work.

This isn't just my fight. It isn't just Houston's fight.

It's a fight for all of us.


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pmanchi@weingarten.com, mayor@houstontx.gov, james.koski@houstontx.gov, districtC@houstontx.gov, Julia.Retta@houstontx.gov, landmark.theatres.publicity@gmail.com

Subject: Protect the River Oaks Theatre!

Dear Mayor Turner, Council Member Kamin, Mr. Alexander, Mr. Manchi, and to whom else it may concern:

I am writing to you today to ask for your help in maintaining an essential component of Houston's artistic and cultural history: the Landmark River Oaks Theatre (LRO).

As a long-time patron who has attended both first-run and revival screenings of some of the most important films in recent years, from "The Blair Witch Project" to "Yellow Submarine", I can speak first-hand about the importance of the LRO to the cultural and social community in a city largely deprived of such outlets.

As a screenwriter and aspiring filmmaker, I have also attended screenings of films made in Houston, by Houstonians, and for a Houston audience at LRO, which provides a venue for a vital part of Houston's filmmaking and artistic community.

As I'm sure you've all seen in recent weeks and months, Houston and Texas have suffered several "black eyes" in the national media, from the power outages attributed to the historic winter storm, to the Governor's rescinding of the mask mandates and other protective measures to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, to the continuing exodus of the city's top professional athletes.

In the light of so many losses, powerful individuals such as yourselves must ask yourselves some uncomfortable questions:

  • Can Houston really withstand the loss of one of its few remaining cultural icons?
  • Will one more high-end retail outlet on a street full of them really make a long-lasting difference in a community starving for an outlet for cultural expression?
  • Is the placement of another retail tenant in the same location worth all the bad press that tearing down the LRO would bring?


This crisis also forces public officials, such as Mayor Turner and Council Member Kamin, to answer some deep questions:

  • Are you willing to stand with policies that seek to limit First Amendment rights, such as free speech, free access to public property, and the right to protest?
  • Do you and the city value profits over people, as many critics suggest?
  • If a valuable asset like LRO closes, how does that make Houston (and you) look to the rest of the nation?


If all of you feel that shutting down a cultural icon like LRO is best for both the city and the bottom line, there's nothing that we ordinary Houstonians (even one who's an award-winning screenwriter) can do to stop you.

If all of you place so little value, not only on the historical importance of such an asset, but also on the future value that won't appear in an investor's report, that such an asset can bring, we poor plebeians (who can't afford the lofty prices that the new tenant will bring) are powerless to stand in your way.

If all of you value dollars over diversity, commerce over community, and white-washed walls over multi-colored neon, then far be it from us mere mortals to stand in the way of such glorious "progress".

As we all know, the financial impacts from the Coronavirus have spread across numerous industries, and none quite as hard as the entertainment industry. This letter does not seek to deny these facts.

As we also know, if the impact of this year of isolation has taught us anything, some things are more important than money.

I know this.

You know this, Mayor Turner.

You know this, Council Member Kamin.

You know this, Mr. Alexander.

You know this, Mr. Manchi.

Now for another uncomfortable question:

What are we all going to do about it?

Numerous members of the Houston artistic community have written emails, launched protests, and raised awareness of the issue on both conventional and social media.

I've done some of what I can with this letter. If possible, I'll do what I can in person by joining the legal and public protests.

What are you going to do about it, Mayor Turner?

What are you going to do about it, Council Member Kamin?

What are you going to do about it, Mr. Alexander?

What are you going to do about it, Mr. Manchi?

Once this crisis has passed and the LRO reopens under a new lease, I hope to see all of you at a future screening. 

Popcorn's on me.

Thank you.

Gerald Hanks

Council District C

Monday, February 15, 2021

Screenwriting Advice: What's Your Dream?

One of the more beneficial aspects of reading the posts in various screenwriting groups occurs as I learn more about the expectations rookie writers have.

So many posts I see involve rookie writers asking about finding a producer, an agent, or a manager after that writer has completed one script.

One. Script.

They treat screenwriting as if it's a lottery, as if all they need is one script (or even one idea without a script) that will make them instantly rich and famous.

No. Just. No.

Your script is not a lottery ticket. Your script should be a starting place for a career. 

A "career" implies more than one script, in more than one genre, and more than one style.

If you think that you can write one script, sell it to a studio, make millions of dollars, and never write another word, here's some advice from a professional writer:

Quit.

Quit now.

You are not a writer. 

You are a wannabe. 

You make it that much more difficult for those who hone their craft, sweat bullets on their keyboards, and put in the actual work to be true professional writers.

If you can't put that much effort into your scripts, if you think that your idea is "too special" or that your writing is "too good", then you should throw your script into the dumpster fire that life started in March 2020 and shows no signs of burning itself out.

If your aim is to "make it big in Hollywood" with your single feature or TV pilot, then save all of us the time and quit now.

Save yourself the time and frustration in writing the script.

Save the professional readers, consultants, and contest judges (like ME) the time and frustration in evaluating your substandard efforts.

Save the planet by saving the electricity needed to power your device and the paper needed to print your script.

Turn off your desktop, close your laptop, shut down your tablet, and give up on your dreams of being a Hollywood screenwriter.

Are they gone? 

Good.

Let's assume that those of you who are still here are more interested in telling great stories and building a career than in hitting the lottery with a subpar script.

If you've ever wanted advice from a professional writer on how to "make it", here's the answer.

Write more scripts. Write better scripts. 

Write features. Write shorts. Write pilots. 

Write dramas. Write comedies. Write adventure stories. Write period pieces. 

Write horror. Write sci-fi. Write intimate character studies. Write sweeping epics.

Write something amazing.

Then rewrite it. 

Then get coverage and notes. Then rewrite it again. 

Then get professional feedback. Then rewrite it again. 

Then go over it with a critical eye. Then rewrite it again. 

Then rewrite it again.

Then write another script and go through the same process. 

I have a feature script that reached the finals of a major comedy screenwriting competition.

Am I shopping it around to top Hollywood agents? 

Have I inked a million-dollar deal with a major studio to write their next blockbuster comedy?

Hell, no!

I'm rewriting it from scratch, not just because I know that it COULD be better, but because I know it NEEDS to be better.

If you've read this far, then your goal likely stems more from being a better writer than being a "Hollywood Big Shot" or a multi-millionaire.

If that's the case, then Story Into Screenplay can help. 

Story Into Screenplay offers consulting services and script breakdowns from a professional screenwriter and script analyst.

If you're a wannabe who sees their sole screenplay as a ticket to fame and fortune, go play the lottery.

If you're serious about developing your skills as a screenwriter…

If you have more than one story to tell…

If you need to write like you need to breathe…

Then you need Story Into Screenplay.

For a limited time, Story Into Screenplay is offering a professional script analysis on the first ten pages of your script for only $10, along with a FREE one-hour consultation on those ten pages.

Contact Story Into Screenplay through our Facebook page or by emailing storyintoscreenplayblog(at)gmail(dot)com.

Good luck and keep writing!