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Words of Wisdom

June 19, 2024 at 9:03 am
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Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

Waldrop Wins One

June 14, 2024 at 7:14 am
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VERY pleased to announce that MARY MARGARET ROAD-GRADER, the second of the Howard Waldrop shorts we’ve produced, kicked ass and took names at its world premiere, taking home the honors as Best Indigenous Short at the deadCenter Film Festival in Oklahoma City.

Steven Paul Judd and Elias Gallegos represented the Fevre River Packet Company and Lumenscape Productions at the festival, while Taylor Church attended on behalf of Trioscope.   Elias also played the part of Simon Red Bulldozer.  Steven directed the film from his own screenplay, a lovely (and faithful) adaptation of Howard’s classic short story.   Crystle Lightning starred as Mary Margaret herself, and Martin Sensemeier as Billy-Bob Chevrolet.

Sadly, we lost Howard in January, but he was there in spirit… and also on celluloid, sitting into for a brief cameo appearance in a council scene.  I like to think he would have been proud of us.  I do know he liked the movie; were able to screen it for him in the week before his death.


Here’s the full list of all the deadCenter winners for 2024:

Here are the 2024 deadCenter Film Festival award winners!

For all you Waldrop fans who couldn’t make it to Oklahoma City last weekend, hang in there… we’re sending MARY MARGARET out on the  circuit, and have her on submission at another dozen festivals around the country and the world.  I will be sure to let you know when and where the movie will be appearing next.

And we’re not done yet.   We’re almost done with post on THE UGLY CHICKENS, and Howard Hamster and his own gang will be along after that.   Watch this space.

Current Mood: happy happy

Awards Season

June 11, 2024 at 8:14 am
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to Eboni Booth, winner of this year’s Pulitzer Price for her play, “Primary Truth.”

Never having won a Pulitzer Prize myself, I am at a loss to explain  why the medal shows Ben Franklin rather than Joseph Pulitzer, but Eboni has promised to fill me in after the ceremony.   She’s an amazingly talented young playwright, and a joy to work with; when not writing and producing her prize-winning plays on- and off-Broadway, she has been kept busy by me and HBO, working on a new pilot for TEN THOUSAND SHIPS, a GAME OF THRONES spinoff about Nymeria and the Rhoynar.   We’re all very excited about this one… though we’re still trying to figure out how we’re going to pay for  ten thousand ships, three hundred dragons, and those giant turtles.

And CONGRATULATIONS as well to composer Kevin Kiner, who took home this year’s BMI  TV/ MUSIC  for his work on DARK WINDS , our Navajo Detective series on AMC, based on the novels of Tony Hillerman, and starring Zahn McClarnon, Kiowa Gordon, and Jessica Matten.   It’s great to see DARK WINDS getting some awards attention at last; it’s long overdue.   (Some Emmy love would be nice, hint hint, nudge nudge.  The third season is shooting even now, at Camel Rock Studios north of Santa Fe, and this year we’ll have eight episodes instead of six.  Meanwhile, the first two seasons are available to be binged on AMC+.


I count myself very lucky to have worked with so many talented people during my years in film and televison, from my earliest jobs in the mid 80s on TWILIGHT ZONE and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, to my current outings with HBO and AMC.

Current Mood: pleased pleased

Max the Fifth

June 9, 2024 at 8:50 am
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Saw FURIOSA last week on an Imax screen.   The latest Mad Max movie… though, oddly, without Mad Max.   I don’t think there’s a better action director in the field than George Miller.   The  fights in FURIOSA are spectacular, especially on Imax.

I saw my first Mad Max film back in 1981.   That was ROAD WARRIOR, the second in the series (did not catch the first one until a few years later — I am not even sure it was ever released in Santa Fe).   The chase sequence blew me away.   The best ever put to film, I thought.   So good that I dragged Roger Zelazny out to see it a few days later, to show him what  the film version of DAMNATION ALLEY should have l0oked like.. and could have looked like, if they had hired the right director.  And they almost did, as it happens.   But that’s another story.

I would still rank ROAD WARRIOR’s climactic action chase as one of the best in movie history, especially since it was all practical, amazing real world stuntwork and not the sort of SFX and AI that dominates so many movies currently.   George Miller keeps trying to top himself.   BEYOND THUNDERDOME had some great action too, with the train chase… and the fight in the Thunderdome, though that was a different sort of animal.   After that there was a long hiatus before FURY ROAD came along, with a different Max and several huge chase scenes.   You can make a case for that one being bolder and bigger than any that had come before, though on balance I still liked ROAD WARRIOR more.

With FURIOSA, though, there’s no doubt.   Of course, Miller had a much bigger budget this time.   I think the original MAD MAX was made with the loose change he found in his couch pillows.  FURIOSA probably cost more than the first four Max movies put together.   Given its structure, it could just as easily been five features, or maybe three seasons of a television series.   I liked Anya Taylor Joy, who played Furiosa this time around.  The girl who played Furiosa as a child was good as well.  I liked Tom Burke (Praetorian Jack) and Chris Hemsworth as Dementus too… and the Citadel is a cool set, though it was used with more impact in FURY ROAD.

Overall, though, ROAD WARRIOR is still my favorite Mad Max movie.  FURIOSA and FURY ROAD both had their merits, but I’d still rank them below the second and third Mel Gibson films.    The new ones are bigger and more expensive, and the action scenes are huge… but the worldbuilding, the secondary characters, and the stories cannot compare.

And I miss the epilogues.  The closing scenes of both ROAD WARRIOR and BEYOND  THUNDERDOME are beautifully written, and make me choke up whenever I see them.


I love the bittersweet flavor of the epilogues.   In both instances Max is left by himself, standing alone in the road… which fits the character that was established in the first film, the loner so broken by the death of his wife and child that he no longer wants to be part of any community.   He does not want to be a hero (as Aunty Entity sings in THUNDERDOME), does not want to love again (and lose again, perhaps), but there is still a remnant of the cop he was buried inside him, and he finds himself dragged into heroism regardless.

FURY ROAD and FURIOSA have much darker endings than the earlier films.   They take place entirely in the Wasteland, where no shred of civilization remains.  The Green Place, where Furiosa is born, is seen in the new movie and sought after in previous one, but when finally found only death and corruption remains.   The Wasteland is ruled over by bloodthirsty gangs and their insane overlords.   In FURIOSA the only choice seem to be between Dementus and Immortan Joe… and slavery and death, always  on the menu too.   Is there anything beyond the Waste?  If so no one mentions it.  The earlier Mel Gibson films were much more balanced, their characters painted in shades of grey, even Max himself.   Bartertown and Auntie Entity, Master Blaster, the Lost Tribe (and the legendary Captain Walker), the pilot and his son from THUNDERDOME, and from ROAD WARRIOR Pappagallo, the Gyro Captain, the Mechanic and the Warrior Woman, and of  course the Feral Kid…  some of them die along the way, but more survive.   Max might be might a reluctant hero, but he is a hero nonetheless, and thanks to that  heroism, we get a semblence of a happy ending… at least in the epilogues.

George Miller has talked of wanting to do another film in the sequence, a movie called THE WASTELAND that would tell the story of what Max himself was doing between THUNDERDOME and FURY ROAD.   Having Mad Max in a Mad Max movie seems like a good idea… though less so if all he is going to be doing in wandering the Wasteland again.    Surely by now we have seen enough sand and stone and desolation.

I would be far more interested in seeing what is happening elsewhere in Australia.  How is the Gyro Captain doing as the leader of the Great Northern Tribe  (on the ocean somewhere, presumably, maybe up by Darwin or Townsville).  How long did he rule?  Did he build more gyros?   When did Feral Kid succeed him (presumably after he learned to talk), and what happened then?   And the Lost Tribe from BEYOND THUNDERDOME, they wind up in a ruined Melbourne at the end, lighting the lights to bring the wanderers home, and telling the tell the tell to the next generation so they remember who they are and where they came from (a beautiful speech).   There are stories there that I would love to hear one day, stories richer and deeper and more moving than anything going on in the wastes.

The problem is, Max can’t be part of those stories.  The epilogues made it clear; neither the Lost Tribe nor the Great Northern Tribe ever saw the road warrior again…

Ah, well.   That’s a problem for George Miller and his team.   I have my own issues back home in Westeros and Essos.   Worldbuilding can be a bitch.

I understand that FURIOSA has not done nearly was hoped, so maybe Miller will never get to make another Mad Max film.   That would be a pity, I think.   Whether set in the Great Red Center or the ruins of Melbourne, regardless of which characters it featured, I suspect Max VI would have splendid action scenes.   No one does that better than Miller.

Maybe someone should hire him to do a remake of DAMNATION ALLEY.   We’d finally get a proper Hell Tanner, and Roger would get the movie he always deserved.



Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful

Come to the Tractor Pulls

June 7, 2024 at 11:08 am
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There’s an exciting weekend ahead for all the film fans in Oklahoma City.  It is the time of the Sun Dance and the Big Tractor Pull… and the 24th Annual deadCenter Film Festival.

24th Annual deadCenter Film Festival

Join us for the 24th Annual deadCenter Film Festival: June 6-9, 2024!

As Oklahoma’s largest and only OSCAR©-qualifying film festival, deadCenter is the best place to see exciting new shorts, insightful documentaries, hilarious comedies, hair-raising thrillers, and the very best independent films from around the world and all over Oklahoma. Did we mention the legendary parties, networking events, and cutting-edge virtual reality experiences? There’s something for everyone at the 24th Annual deadCenter Film Festival. However you deadCenter, your pass will allow you to experience the best of the fest!

 The festival will feature a great lineup of features and short films from exciting new talents… including the WORLD PREMIERE of MARY MARGARET ROAD-GRADER, based on the classic short story by Howard Waldrop, and produced by George R.R. Martin and Trioscope Films,  scripted and directed by Steven Paul Judd and starring Crystle Lightning, Martin Sensemeier, Cody Lightning, Elias Gallegos, and Ryan Begay.   Ramin Djawadi did the score.

Originally published in 1977 in ORBIT 18, “Mary Margaret” was a finalist for the Nebula Award, Howard’s first major awards nomination…. though far from his last.   Alas, he lost

The festival will run from June 6 through June 9.   MARY MARGARET will run twice:

Friday June 7th, 3:00 PM   Harkins Auditorium 11

Saturday June 8th, 9:00 pm  Harkins Auditorium 13

Screenings will be shown at the Harkins Theatres Bricktown, 150 E. Reno Avenue, in Oklahoma City.

Have a look at our trailer.

Howard Waldrop passed away on January 14…but we were able to show him the final cut of MARY-MARGARET the week before he died, thankfully, and I am so happy to be able to say that he liked it.

deadCenter will be the first showing of MARY MARGARET ROAD-GRADER… but not the last, we hope.  We are taking the film out on the festival circuit, as we did with NIGHT OF THE COOTERS before it, and have submitted it to a dozen other filmfests all over the country and the world.   I will let you know when and where we are accepted.   With luck, you will be able to catch it at someplace near you.

Meanwhile, post production continues on our third Waldrop short, Michael Cassutt’s adaptation of THE UGLY CHICKENS, directed by Mark Raso.   Watch this space for details, when we have ’em.


Current Mood: happy happy

Raya Talks Voyaging

June 4, 2024 at 1:33 pm
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The podcasters Alt Shift X and Glidus have been wandering about the globe these past few months, and they sat down while passing through the Land of Enhantment to talk with Raya Golden about VOYAGING, her graphic novel adaptation of my novella “The Plague Star.”

It was a fun interview.  I thought you folks might like a look.

VOYAGING is for sale at your favorite local bookstore, comic book shop, or online retailer.   And Beastly Books, here in scenic Santa Fe, has autographed copies signed by both Raya and myself.   Beastly also has copies of the source material on hand, featuring the further adventures of Haviland Tuf (and cats).  We hope to have Raya adapt and illustrate some of those as well.

And maybe one day we’ll have a television series as well.  Anything is possible.  Indeed.


Current Mood: pleased pleased

The Adaptation Tango

May 24, 2024 at 9:05 am
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A few years back, Neil Gaiman and I did a joint event in New York City, when we were both in town.

It was a lot of fun, as events with Neil always are.   We told some funny stories, talked about books and comics, about SANDMAN and WILD CARDS and days at cons… and touched on some serious topics too.

I would like to upload  a video of the event if I could, but I am not sure one exists.   If anyone was recording us, I have never seen the tape.   But VARIETY had the best report of the session.

That was all back in 2022, but very little has changed since then.   If anything, things have gotten worse.   Everywhere you look, there are more screenwriters and producers eager to take great stories and “make them their own.”   It does not seem to matter whether the source material was written by Stan Lee, Charles Dickens, Ian Fleming, Roald Dahl, Ursula K. Le Guin, J.R.R. Tolkien, Mark Twain, Raymond Chandler, Jane Austen, or… well, anyone.   No matter how major a writer it is, no matter how great the book, there always seems to be someone on hand who thinks he can do better, eager to take the story and “improve” on it.   “The book is the book, the film is the film,” they will tell you, as if they were saying something profound.   Then they make the story their own.

They never make it better, though.   Nine hundred ninety-nine times out of a thousand, they make it worse.

Once in a while, though, we do get a really good adaptation of a really good book, and when that happens , it deserves applause.

I can came across one of those instances recently, when I binged the new FX version of SHOGUN.

Must confess, I was dubious when I first heard they were making another version of the Clavell novel.   It has been a long time, a long long LONG time, but I read the book when it first came out in the late 70s and was mightily impressed.   (I really need to give it a reread one of these days, but there are so many books, so little time).   And the 1980 miniseries starring Richard Chamberlain as the Anjin was a landmark of long form television, right up with with ROOTS; why do it over again, when that version was so good?

I am glad they did, though.   The new SHOGUN is superb.   Better than Chamberlain’s version, you ask?   Hmmm, I don’t know.   I have not watched the 1980 miniseries since, well, 1980.   That one was great too.   The fascinating thing is that while the old and new versions have some significant differences — the subtitles that make the Japanese dialogue intelligible to English speaking viewers being the biggest — they are both faithful to the Clavell novel in their own way.   I think the author would have been pleased.   Both old and new screenwriters did honor to the source material, and gave us terrific adaptations, resisting the impulse to “make it their own.”

But don’t take my word for it.   Watch it yourself.

Acting, directing, set design, costume… it’s all splendid here.  Along with the writing.

And if SHOGUN is a big enough hit, maybe the same team will adapt some of Clavell’s other novels.

Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful

Here’s Egg!

May 21, 2024 at 3:27 pm
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Things are moving along nicely with our Dunk & Egg spinoff, HBO’s adaptation of my novella THE HEDGE KNIGHT.

Most of the auditions — not all, but most — are done, and we should be able to announce some more cast members shortly.   We have our Tanselle, Steely Pate, Baelor Breakspear, the Laughing Storm, a couple of Fossoways, Aerion Brightflame (boo, hiss), Prince Maekar, and the rest.   Lists are being built on Ashford Meadow.     I am told they just had the first table read, and that it went great.

And our youngest star can’t wait to start.   Here’s Dexter, turning to Egg.

Dexter Sol Ansell (Egg) getting his head shaved ahead of Dunk and Egg filming!
byu/shad0wqueenxx inHouseOfTheDragon


I love it.

THE HEDGE KNIGHT will be a lot shorter than GAME OF THRONES or HOUSE OF THE DRAGON, with a much different tone… but it’s still Westeros, so no one is truly safe  Ira Parker and his team are doing a great job.  I hope to visit the shoot come July, when I swing by Belfast on my way to the worldcon in Glasgow.    The show will make its debut next year… and if it does well, THE SWORN SWORD and THE MYSTERY KNIGHT will follow.  By which time I hope to have finished some more Dunk & Egg stories (yes, after I finish THE WINDS OF WINTER).

Oh, and we have our director as well:  Owen Harris, a terrific British director whose credits include helming “San Junipero,” my all time favorite episode of BLACK MIRROR.   Owen will direct three of our six episodes.

Current Mood: excited excited

Here Comes MERAXES

May 1, 2024 at 9:27 am
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Well, this is cool.

It would appear that I have my own dinosaur.

Say hello to MERAXES.

He has a big head and little bitty arms, like Tyrannosaurus Rex, to whom he is not related.

He cannot fly or breathe fire, alas.   (Though maybe that’s for the best).

He hails from Argentina.

Queen Rhaenys would have been very pleased.

I know I am.

Current Mood: geeky geeky

Howard Times Two

April 25, 2024 at 8:12 am
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If you missed seeing our adaptation of Howard Waldrop’s classic short NIGHT OF THE COOTERS when it was out on the film festival circuit, I’m pleased to say that you have another chance.   This year’s Balticon will be featuring a program of short films, and COOTERS will be one of the movies they are showing.

Balticon will be held over Memorial Day weekend (May 27-31),  in Baltimore, Maryland.










Meantime, our second Waldrop short, Steven Paul Judd’s adaptation of MARY-MARGARET ROAD-GRADER, has just been accepted for the deadCenter Film Festival in Oklahoma City.

MARY-MARGARET is on submission to half a dozen other film festivals, around the country and the world.   Watch this space for details as to when and where it will be showing.

THE UGLY CHICKENS is coming soon as well, and after that, FRIENDS FOREVER.   Dates and details to come.

Howard Waldrop was one of the great ones.   We’ve tried to do justice to his genius with these short films… but no one can match H’ard itself.   Come see the shorts, if you have a chance.   And read the stories.


Current Mood: accomplished accomplished