Tuesday, March 31, 2020

|Podcast| The Fixer - Michael Schilf

Photo Content from Michael Schilf

A graduate of Marquette University (BA in Communications) and the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts (MFA in Screenwriting), Michael Schilf is a Professor of English and Media Arts, with nearly twenty years of experience teaching composition, argumentation, literature, screenwriting, advanced screenwriting, and motion picture film analysis. 

In 2010, Schilf co-founded The Script Lab, a screenwriting resource and entertainment news outlet, specifically designed for writers, filmmakers, and creators. As President and Editorial Director, Schilf developed content that helped The Script Lab gain brand recognition as an industry leader, providing high-quality E-learning and industry education to millions worldwide. In 2014, The Script Lab was acquired by TSL Media, Inc., and Schilf stayed on as an Educational Consultant. 

 In addition, Schilf is also a writer, director, producer, and script/story consultant, having penned ten features, eight TV pilots, numerous shorts, and well over 100 advertising campaigns (Nike, American Express, KIA, Volvo, Walmart, Ford, Target, Chrysler, Lexus, BMW, and Mercedes Benz), working with directors such as Jesse Dylan (American Wedding, Kicking & Screaming), James Frost (Radiohead’s “House of Cards”, OK Go’s “This Too Shall Pass”), and Steven Tsuchida (Community, New Girl, Sirens). 

Schilf is author of The Sins of My Father: A Memoir, which takes an introspective look at growing up with an absentee, alcoholic, mentally ill father; co-creator and writer of SWORN, a fantasy, action, adventure series; co-creator and writer of LIGHT, a sci-fi, action, crime series; and writer/director/ producer of the short film The Fixer, co-staring Danny Trejo. Schilf is currently in pre-production on a proof of concept film for LIGHT as well as completing the theatrical feature screenplay for The Fixer.

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Creating stories have been my foundation ever since I bought my first VHS camera in the fifth grade. Of course, at the tender age of ten, I was more interested in filming G.I. Joe action figures engulfed in gasoline fueled fires within my backyard sand box. I imagine still today if you dug deep enough to the spot where my childhood imagination seemed limitless, you’d find the mangled remains of battle tested toys pitted against each other like gladiators among fortified sand castles and garden hose moats. 

Although the stories behind those epic battles may have been void of complex internal character flaws, powerful plot point twists, and juxtaposing story lines, those battles still encapsulated the most fundamental foundation and cornerstone of a good story. 

Photo Credit: Ghazal Sheei

A character, let’s say the ultimate bad guy Skeletor from Masters of the Universe, is forced to face off against Optimus Prime from Transformers. Both characters have a want: to win the battle. Both face an obstacle: each other. Each goal propels the story forward while obstacles create conflict and tension. 

Now I’m older: married, three kids, a mortgage. I’m a writer, director, producer, and a professor, who teaches writing. Yet despite all I’ve learned, the story equation remains the same: S = (C + W) x O. 

A good story (S) is about an interesting character (C) who wants (W) something badly and faces obstacles (O) while struggling to achieve that goal. 

Applying the story equation as your bedrock—whether it be film, TV, new media, documentary, stage play, short fiction, or novel—allows you to stay focused, but more importantly, it’s the root that keeps your story alive. Details can change, but without a healthy base, the life of your story will inevitably die. 

 S = (C + W) x O. That’s the story equation. It’s clear. It’s concise. And… it’s crucial.

THE FIXER is an action, crime, drama about an extorted Mafia enforcer who must partner with the femme fatale hired gun who murdered his wife in order to save his daughter and liberate himself from a sadistic Los Angeles crime boss.

THE FIXER is a crime drama about an extorted Mafia enforcer who must partner with the femme fatale hired gun who murdered his wife in order to save his daughter and liberate himself from a sadistic Los Angeles crime boss.

“Schilf skillfully delivers the perfect pinch of levity between bouts of tension-filled suspense, and the cliffhanger ending leaves you emotionally satisfied, yet wanting more.” —David Hernandez

The Fixer is shot beautifully, and without waste; every scene powerful and colorful to the story with resolution at stake.” Brett Zimmerman

“I absolutely LOVED this film! The visuals are breathtaking. SWORN feels like 300 on steroids.” —Brendan Gabriel Murphy''

A Mafia enforcer and widower who is blackmailed by his employer Saint Martin to “fix” things, for if he refuses, his Stanford-bound daughter will suffer the same cruel demise as his murdered wife.

Jack Cross’ lovable, loyal Husky mix. She likes bones, daily walks, and scratches behind the ears. Jack adopted her on a Tuesday. The name stuck.

An ex-con and former gangster, Benny is a man who can deliver near anything. A supplier to the streets and informant to the fuzz, he plays both sides. And... he makes a mean bowl of Menudo.

A lethal seductress hired to murder Jack Cross’ wife, she’s a killer with a code: only hit the bad ones. Upon discovering Saint Martin’s nefarious motives, however, she tries to turn the tables.

A “gezant” envoy from the Dutch Mob out of New York pushing “E” into Los Angeles. A flashy, tattooed psychopath, with “killer” street cred, he is glutinous for booze, drugs, and women.
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