[REVIEW] Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films

Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon FilmsThere are few films I would recommend unreservedly. Usually there’s some niggling thing that’s not quite right, or some element that I know would turn some people off. Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films is just so damned good I’m going to go out on a limb and say everyone should watch it. Everyone. Everyone.

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know Cannon and I go way back. When cable was a fairly new thing, my father got it and we had Showtime and HBO, the two premium channels which existed at the time. Because it was early days yet, and the premium channels didn’t have the kind of money they’d one day command, they basically had to license whatever they could afford. You got a handful of big Hollywood movies, but you also got a ton of cheapie pictures that might very well have gotten a big-screen release somewhere, but were not anyone’s idea of a blockbuster. And a lot of these cheapie movies came from Cannon Films.

Cannon made some of the seminal films of my youth, like Revenge of the Ninja and Missing in Action, so I have a great deal of residual affection for them. But even I, having seen probably more Cannon movies than is probably healthy for one person, was completely taken aback by the sheer scope of Cannon’s empire. This was a company that at one point was releasing a picture once a week, or even more often than that. I realized after watching Electric Boogaloo that I was like Jon Snow: I knew nothing.

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Have a plan.

It occurred to me the other day that it’s been a long, long time since I’ve set aside a Friday for what I call Writing Wisdom™. Since I don’t consider myself much of a sage, I sort of ran out of things to talk about at some point along the line, and so my weekly forays into the world of writing fell by the wayside. But it’s a new year and I figure I’m good for at least one halfway decent advice column. Maybe two, if we push it.

Today I want to talk about planning. Now you know from reading this blog religiously over the years how I feel about outlining. I think it’s absolutely essential if you’re going to write quickly and in a focused manner. While there are some high-profile examples of people who just pull their plots out of their asses and do so successfully, you will find (if you talk to enough writers) that those who choose that route are the ones most likely to leave work unfinished or, if they manage to make it to the end, critically unpolished. I don’t know about you, but I like to finish what I start, and I like what I write to be presentable from the get-go. Revision is not my bag, baby.

One thing that’s particular to the pursuit of writing, and which has no parallel in other art forms, is the idea that the ultimate goal of any work is to be published. Artists may aspire to a gallery showing, but if you ask you’ll find that most of them would practice their art regardless of whether they made any money at it. Similarly music. A lucrative record contract would be nice, but I’ve met I don’t know how many musicians who couldn’t care less about making any money doing what they do. But writers? Man, do writers want to get published so badly. It’s like writing isn’t worthwhile unless someone agrees to print it somewhere and, better yet, wants to pay for it.

Continue reading Have a plan.

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