"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms."

—Muriel Rukeyser

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Director Ben Wheatley says that The Meg 2 might live up to its title in more ways than one.



The Meg 2 is a thing. Three years after the release of the original The Meg, which swallowed up an astonishing $530 million worldwide at the box office, director Ben Wheatley — fresh off his eerie new horror film In The Earth — is deep in pre-production on a sequel to the 2018 thriller that pitted puny humans against a couple of oversized prehistoric sharks.

“I’m storyboarding at the moment on Meg 2,” Wheatley says when we catch up with him for the release of In The Earth. “It’s been going on for four months, five months. It’s my happy place, I love storyboarding. So yeah, I’m cutting storyboards and watching animatics, and slowly constructing the movie. It’s really exciting. It’s just action on a massive, massive scale.”

The first film, based on the popular 1997 novel Meg by Steve Alten, reached the screen in 2018 after more than two decades of development. The property bounced from Disney to New Line Cinema, to Warner Bros., with directors like Jan de Bont (Speed) and Eli Roth (Hostel) attached at various points. Cameras finally rolled in 2016 with Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure) directing from a script by Dean Georgaris and Jon and Erich Hoeber.

The latter pair have apparently returned to pen the sequel, which Wheatley says he has had no hand in writing: “No, the script is by the Hoeber brothers that wrote the first script, so it’s kind of a continuation on from that story.”

As for whether the cast members who survived the first film — which included British action star Jason Statham, Chinese actress Li Bingbing and a handful of others — will also encore in the follow-up, Wheatley is somewhat cagier, although he does drop a tantalizing hint about the title menace. “I don’t think I can say at the moment what’s going on, the ins and outs of it,” he intones. “But guaranteed, there will be a Megalodon — maybe more than one.”

While the prospect of even more Megalodons wreaking havoc in the sequel, which is provisionally called The Meg 2: The Trench, is an exciting one, it’s all but guaranteed that Statham, who is said to be “creatively involved” with the project, will be there punching them as well.

Alten’s novel was altered significantly for the screen, becoming less of a grisly horror shocker and more of a Statham action joint. It’s worth noting that Alten’s own sequel to his novel Meg was also called The Trench, although we don’t expect a faithful adaptation this time either.

The first film’s self-awareness and somewhat jokey tone, coupled with Statham’s own dryly humorous charisma, turned The Meg into a relative rarity: a monster movie that was both fun and not afraid to poke fun at itself. That was enough to lure in those massive audiences and set the wheels of a sequel in motion.

Although Wheatley’s last outing was Netflix’s glossy adaptation of the Daphne du Maurier novel Rebecca — a bold choice since it was previously filmed by Alfred Hitchcock — he’s perhaps best known for his razor-sharp combinations of horror, crime and satire in films like Kill List, Sightseers and Free Fire. If he manages to retain the tone set by the first Meg while adding his personal touch to the proceedings, this could end up being a sequel with, dare we say it, real teeth.

As for going from the high-end esthetics of Rebecca to the guerilla filmmaking of In The Earth (more on that to come) to the presumably explosive, effects-driven action of The Meg 2, Wheatley puts it simply: “I think that’s always the hope, that they’re different [from each other]. You don’t want to end up making the same thing again and again.”


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Don Kaye

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Don Kaye | 

Don Kaye is an entertainment journalist by trade and geek by natural design. Born in New York City, currently ensconced in Los Angeles, his earliest childhood memory is…



The Meg 2 director Ben Wheatley teases what to expect from the sequel





From Kill List to Sightseers to A Field in England to Rebecca, filmmaker Ben Wheatley has delivered audiences a variety of experiences, with one constant component being an intimate experience that leans heavily into characters, which has fans wondering what to expect from his upcoming sequel to The Meg. The Jason Statham-starring film had a reported budget between $130 and $180 million, with even the low end of those estimates dwarfing the budgets of any of Wheatley's previous films. Wheatley recently shared his enthusiasm for the upcoming sequel and how, first and foremost, his plans are to honor the scope of the titular beast.

"A lot of it is respecting The Meg, and trying to make sure it's a great Meg film," Wheatley shared with ComicBook.com about the new film. "And as you can see from the movies I've made, they're not necessarily, it's not ... when you go and do Doctor Who, I don't completely change it because I wanted to do it. I didn't want to necessarily make it something completely different that nobody recognized, you know? So there's that element of back and forth."

He continued, "But it's an opportunity to do action on such an insanely large scale, that it's just unbelievable. From doing Free Fire, which was, I thought, was all my Christmases came at once in terms of action, this is just unbelievable. And just doing the storyboards for it, just thinking and going, 'Oh,' it's just ... I feel a heavy responsibility for it, to make sure that it kind of delivers on all the, to all the big shark fans out there."

The original film was based on the novel Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror, and focused on a prehistoric megalodon being discovered in the deepest parts of the ocean, who then came to the surface to wreak havoc. The film went on to earn $530.2 million worldwide, with details on the sequel's story being kept under wraps.

As we wait for updates on The Meg sequel, fans can check out Wheatley's latest film, In the Earth.

In the film, "As the world searches for a cure to a disastrous virus, a scientist and park scout venture deep in the forest for a routine equipment run. Through the night, their journey becomes a terrifying voyage through the heart of darkness, the forest coming to life around them."


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Stopping Time by Ken Atchity


Managing your work doesn't work for a simple reason: Work is infinite. Good work only creates more work; in fact, bad work creates more work too. So the more you work the more work you will have. It's basic common sense that you can't manage an infinite commodity.

What can you manage? Time. You not only can, but must, manage your time because time is all too finite.

They say, "If you want to get something done, find a busy person." The busy person succeeds in getting things done because he knows how to manage his time. We all have the exact same amount of time at our disposal, 60 minutes each hour, 24 hours each day, 168 hours each week, 8,736 hours each year. If you put one hour into a project each day for a year, you'd have worked on it for 365 hours -- more than enough time to write a book, build a house, launch a new product, plan and execute a new campaign. "If you put a little upon a little," said the ancient Greek almanac writer Hesiod, "soon it becomes a lot."

One memorable day in Manhattan I was delivering a broken antique wall clock to my favorite repair shop. As I completed my drop off and turned to leave, I noticed an ultra-modern stand-up clock constructed of shiny pendulums, a different metal each for hours, minutes, and seconds, all enclosed in a sleek glass case. It was simply the most beautiful timepiece I'd ever seen.

Then I realized: it had no hands. At first I thought, No wonder it's in the shop. It's broken. Then I studied the clock more closely.

No. It was designed that way. It was a timepiece that Salvador Dali would have been as thrilled with as I was.

And it reminded me that time is a free force. It just happens, whether you do anything about it or not. It's up for grabs.

It doesn't belong to your employer, or to the government, or to anyone but you!

The trick is where do you find that free time? -- a question busy people are asked regularly. Here's their secret: busy people make time, for the activities they decide to prioritize. One good way to wrestle with that question is to ask yourself, "Where do I lose it?" You'd be surprised.

Make a chart of your weekly hours and use it to determine how many hours you devote to each activity in your cluttered life. Maybe you'd be surprised, or maybe not, that most people have no idea where the time goes. They come up with a grand total of 182, or 199, or 82 hours of activity -- until they remember that they, like every other human, have only 168 hours each week to spend.

Then we get serious and analyze exactly where they're lying to themselves about the time: forgetting about the endless phone calls with friends, or the true amount of time in front of the television, or the accurate time devoted to the daily commute, or the time doing absolutely nothing but staring out the window. When we get the time inventory accurate most people are surprised at the truth. But the truth is the first step to freedom, and managing your time effectively is the greatest freedom of all.

I call it "making the clock of life your clock." I believe in this philosophy so much I haven't worn a chronograph for nearly thirty years, despite owning a vintage wrist watch that belonged to my father and an even older pocket watch that belonged to my grandfather. The only chronograph I carry around with me is one that allows me to make life's clock mine: a stopwatch. It makes the Spanish proverb, la vida es corta pero ancha ("life is short but wide") come true. You can get an app on your cell phone!

The stopwatch method of time management is simple. You use it to make sure that your Priority Project is getting the amount of attention you want to give it to move it -- and your personal success -- ahead with certainty. You know that the wall clock, or the one on your wrist or displayed on your cell phone, has a way of running away with your day. You say you'll work on Priority Project from 7 to 8 a.m. and something is certain to come along to disrupt that hour almost as though life were conspiring against you. What's really happening is that you're letting life interfere with your personal time management. Of course when the interference occurs, you tell yourself "I'll catch up later," or "I'll start again tomorrow and this time protect myself from interruptions," but over the years we discover that life runs rampant over any such resolutions.

The stopwatch method works best in a life jam-packed with stimuli and distraction. It allows you to "steal time." While clocks on wrists and walls record public time, your private prime time happens only when your stopwatch is running. The stopwatch allows you to call "time out" from the game everyone else is engaged in.

Simply promise yourself you won't go to sleep at night until, by hook or by crook, you've clocked one hour (60 minutes) of working on Priority Project on your stopwatch. Turn the stopwatch ON when you're working on it, and OFF when you get interrupted. Your stopwatch minutes may be gleaned over a six-hour period, or over a twenty-four-hour period. You "steal" them when you can: waiting at the dentist's, community on public transportation, when an appointment hasn't shown up yet, when your cell phone dies and no one can reach you until you've replaced or recharged the battery, when your date for the evening calls in sick. It takes a few days to get used to this process, but once you do you'll recognize the power it gives you over time.

Isn't it hard to work in fits and starts? You might very well ask that very good question. The answer is that it's actually easier to work that way than it is to work without stopping if you employ the time-management technique of linkage.

Here's how linkage works. The phone rings, so you have to turn off your stopwatch. But you let it ring one or two more times, taking that time to make a mental decision about what you'll do when your stopwatch is running again -- that is, in your next Priority Project session. And here's a useful secret: it doesn't matter what decision you make. The minute you make it, as you answer the phone and go on from one activity to the next, your mind starts thinking of better decisions than the one you made; in fact, your mind becomes increasingly motivated to get back to that Priority Project because it knows exactly what it will do when the next session begins. You've created an automatic linkage, that makes restarting when your stopwatch is next running, no longer an occasion for blockage. Instead, you're fully ready to jump in and get as much out of that next session as possible before it's interrupted by life's next distraction.

And, yes, have a desk drawer filled with stopwatches so you can employ a different colored chronograph for each major activity you're engaged with.

The stopwatch method can truly make the clock of life your clock.


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Dr. Kenneth Atchity has been consulting on time management for decades. His 20 books include Write Time: A Guide to the Creative Process, from Vision through Revision; and How to Quit Your Day Job and Live out Your Dreams.


Follow Ken Atchity on Twitter: www.twitter.com/kennja

Ken's Book Recommendation: The Bronx Stagger by Daniel Moskowitz

 





Sex, Drugs, & Rock ‘n Roll are on the docket of Bronx Family Court, the busiest court in NYC. Schwartz the Lawyer fights for justice for families while struggling with personal demons that place his own family Sex, Drugs, & Rock ‘n Roll are on the docket of Bronx Family Court, the busiest court in NYC. Schwartz the Lawyer fights for justice for families while struggling with personal demons that place his own family risk.


 Available On Amazon

Guest Post: Where Are We Now? by Dennis Palumbo

 Psychotherapist Dennis Palumbo gives an update on how writers are adapting after 10 months of staying safer-at-home.

By Dennis Palumbo


Here’s a question I’ve been asked recently:

“Now that we’ve lived through more of the pandemic, do you see a shift in how your therapy patients are coping?”

My answer: Yes and no.

Yes, in terms of a shift in responses among my writer patients, though it ranges all over the place. Some patients seem to have a kind of resignation to the fact that we don’t know how, or if, this lockdown will end. For these patients, this has meant a deeper hunkering down. Unhappy but resolved to hang on for the duration, they also report that since their initial stunned reaction to the pandemic has faded, they’re better able to focus on writing. It seems to help if they have contracted deals to work on projects, but even those working on specs report being more focused.

Other patients, encouraged by the news of the various vaccines, are feeling more upbeat than they have in months. There’s an end in sight, they believe, so their overall mood has lightened. Again, and more expectedly, their ability to focus on their writing has risen as well.

One important point: whether patients are accepting of an indefinite timeline for the lockdown, or else see it as ending soon, the effect on their families vary widely. Marital tensions, issues around virtual schooling for their children, and financial worries provide the context in which each individual writer has to work. And, therefore, the stresses of these various contexts are different for each household.

But what about those patients whose feelings and attitudes haven’t changed much since the lockdown began? Usually, since March, their general reaction has been anger, fear or frustration—or some combination of the above. The length of the pandemic and its restrictions hasn’t changed their reactions. Even the promise of a vaccine has done little to cause a shift in their feelings.

Why not? Remember, each of us lives in our individual subjective world, formed by a combination of our childhood experiences (which help mold our personal mythology about how life works), filtered through our firmly-held intellectual beliefs of how life works, and the personal and professional events in our adult lives. To put it bluntly, people tending toward pessimism or holding a dark view of the future see in the pandemic a confirmation of their worst fears. As one of my writer patients said when a long-fought-for project was scuttled once the pandemic hit, “See, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop... and now it has.”

If, however, a patient tends to be more optimistic (admittedly, for a therapist who treats Hollywood creative types, these kinds of patients are rare), the pandemic has been seen since it started as an opportunity to just write, unburdened by the other tedious obligations of their show business careers.

Then there’s a third category: writer patients who’ve complained in therapy over the years about never having had an extended period of time to work on their dream project—that big, special, personal script or play or novel that they just can’t get to because of their daily paying writing gigs. Yet when forced into staying home, suddenly having uncounted hours of free time, they were so psychologically impacted by the pandemic that they were unable to write. Anything.

Which brings me back to the initial question, and my somewhat meandering answer: while some patients’ attitudes—their fears and hopes and beliefs—have shifted, there are an equal number who feel the same frustrations and fears for themselves and loved ones that they’ve expressed in therapy since the pandemic began.

As in all aspects of clinical work with patients, there is no one-size-fits-all model for providing therapy. As the context of our lives changes, so do our emotional responses.

So my only advice is to try to live embedded in the moment, day by day, and resist feeding yourself catastrophic meanings about what the future holds.

Because if the year 2020 has shown us nothing else, it’s that predicting the future is a fool’s game.

For three decades, Palumbo has been a licensed psychotherapist for working writers and others in creative fields. To the therapy setting Palumbo brings his own experience as a sitcom writer, screenwriter, and, more recently, crime novelist (2018’s Head Wounds is the fifth installment in his Daniel Rinaldi series). Palumbo’s non-fiction book Writing from the Inside Out (2000) was an adaptation and expansion of his regular columns for Written By.

Connect spoke to Palumbo in May 2020 about recurring themes in his therapy practice among writers who were under extended stay-at-home orders and grappling with an entertainment industry on indefinite pause.

Myth to Movie: Pygmalion By Ken Atchity



The wish-fulfillment archetype —the dream become flesh—finds perennially poignant expression in stories based on the Pygmalion myth.

A Cyprian sculptor-priest-king who had no use for his island’s women, Pygmalion dedicated his energies to his art. From a flawless piece of ivory, he carved a maiden, and found her so beautiful that he robed her and adorned her with jewels, calling her Galatea (“sleeping love”). His became obsessed with the statue, praying to Aphrodite to bring him a wife as perfect as his image. Sparked by his earnestness, the goddess visited Pygmalion’s studio and was so pleasantly surprised to find Galatea almost a mirror of herself she brought the statue to life. When Pygmalion returned home, he prostrated himself at the living Galatea’s feet. The two were wed in Aphrodite’s temple, and lived happily ever after under her protection.

Though it was never absent from western literature, this transformation myth resoundingly entered modern consciousness with Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, which enlisted it to explore the complexity of human relationships in a stratified society. My Fair Lady, based on Shaw’s retelling, took the myth to another level of audience awareness.

The obligatory beats of the Pygmalion myth: the protagonist has a dream inspired by encounter with an unformed object (“Look at her, a prisoner of the gutter!”), uses his skills and/or prayers to shape it into a reality; falls in love with the embodiment of his dream, and lives happily ever after, or not.

Essential to the pattern is that the dreamer-protagonist is rewarded for doing something about his dream, for turning it from dream to reality with or without a dea ex machina. Thanks to the infinite creativity of producers, directors, and writers, Pygmalion has generated countless wonderful movie story variations: Inventor Gepetto, in Pinocchio (1940--with numerous remakes), wishes that the wooden puppet he’s created could become the son he never had; a department store window dresser (Robert Walker), in One Touch of Venus (1948, based on the Ogden Nash/S. J. Perelman musical), kisses a statue of Venus (Ava Gardner) into life— trouble begins when she falls in love with him. In 1983’s thenEducating Rita (from Willy Russell’s play), a young hairdresser (Julie Walters), wishing to improve herself by continuing her education, finds a tutor in jaded professor (Michael Caine), who’s reinvigorated by her. In a reverse of the pattern, as quickly as she changes under his tutelage he resents the “educated” Rita and wants her, selfishly, to stay as she was.

Alvin Johnson (Nick Cannon), in 2003’s Love Don’t Cost a Thing, a remake of Can’t Buy Me Love (1987), comes to the rescue of Paris (Christina Milian) when she wrecks her mother’s Cadillac and can’t pay the $1,500 for the repair. Alvin fronts the cash with his savings and, in return, Paris has to pretend to be his girlfriend for two weeks; Alvin becomes “cool” for the first time in his life, but learns that the price of popularity is higher than he bargained for. In She’s All That (1999), the pattern is reversed as Freddie Prinze, Jr., is a high school hotttie who bets a classmate he can turn nerdy Rachel Leigh Cook into a prom queen but, of course, runs into trouble when he falls in love with his creation. In The Princess Diaries (2001), Mia (Anne Hathaway), a gawky Bay Area teen, learns her father was the prince of Genovia; the queen (Julie Andrews) hopes her granddaughter will take her father’s rightful place as heir, and transforms her from a social misfit into a regal lady but discover their growing love for each other is more important than the throne.

Pretty Woman (1990) is my second favorite example of the tirelessness of the Pygmalion myth. Taking the flower-girl motif of My Fair Lady to the extreme, Vivian (Julia Roberts) is a prostitute (albeit idealized) and Edward (Richard Gere) a ruthless businessman with no time for real love. As he opens his credit cards on a Rodeo Drive shopping spree, we experience a telescoped transformation-by-money accompanied with the upbeat music that reminds us that we love this highly escapist part of the Pygmalion story, the actual process of turning ugly duckling into princess swan.

My favorite example is La Femme Nikita (remade as Point of No Return, 1993, with Bridget Fonda), because it shows the versatility of mythic structure, taking Pygmalion to the darkest place imaginable as it fashions of street druggie Nikita (Anne Parillaud), under Bob’s merciless tutelage (Tcheky Karyo), a chameleon-like lethal sophisticate whose heart of gold allows her to escape both her unformed past and her darkly re-formed present.

So popular is the Pygmalion myth with audiences that it crops up in the most unlikely places. In Pao zhi nu peng you (My Dream Girl, 2003), Shanghai slum-dweller Cheung Ling (Vicki Zhao) is thrust into high society when she encounters her long-lost father, who hires Joe Lam to makeover his daughter to fit her new status. In Million-Dollar Baby (2004), the unformed matter (Hilary Swank) reports for duty and demands to be transformed. Instead of falling in love, the boxing instructor (Clint Eastwood) is reborn, reinvigorated, re-inspired, learns to feel again—thereby revealing the underlying emotion that drives the Pygmalion myth for both protagonist and the character he reshapes: rebirth into a more ideal state of being.


First published in Produced By, the official magazine of the Producers Guild of America