Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Sharing What You’ve Learned



One of the things I enjoy about having some knowledge and experience is not simply using it for my own projects, but sharing it with others to help them make their projects better. That’s why I love to do interviews and panels: if something I say helps one person, I know I’ve made a small difference in the world.

That’s how I view my role as a screenwriting consultant. I’m not acting as a judge or a critic; I’m acting more as a coach or a partner, providing ideas and/or skills to help you improve your game…and your script. Each writer has their own unique and specific strengths and weaknesses and it’s my job—and my pleasure—to help you recognize them and find ways to improve the latter.

I’ve worked with novice writers, helping them to learn the basics of good script writing as well as seasoned craftsmen who need less basic storytelling lessons, but may have more refined needs or simply need fresh eyes, stronger proofreading skills, etc. The biggest joy is finding the writing of returning clients blossom and get better and better.

I find it incredibly gratifying to help people in this way. Some people teach their children. I teach anyone at any age. As long as you have the desire to improve, to make your story the best it can be before sharing it with the world, I’d love to help you do it.

Find out more at: Gregory's Writing Consulting Page

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

It’s a Dirty job…And I love It!


Black gunk oozes from my lips as I grab the policeman’s head and he shrivels and falls to the ground, dead.

“CUT!”

Just another day on set.  This time in Buffalo, New York for Adam Steigert’s THE HORRIFIC EVIL MONSTERS, where I am playing Famine—one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  

Like I do on a typical Saturday.

I worked with Steigert on FANG a few years back, so I knew I was in good hands with him and his crew.  That matters when you’re being asked to work in a remote, danger-laden location, wear a blindfold and fill your mouth with gulp after gulp of unappetizing liquid.

Yes, Adam’s version of Famine is a filthy, blind, drooling, skeletal mess in rags.  Makeup artist Phill Beith works magic and, in about an hour, turns me into the ghoulish creature and thus I remain for the rest of the day’s shoot.  It’s actually not as limiting as some character touches: I have the use of my dirty fingers whereas fellow Horseman Death and Conquest have such long fingernails, they need assistance more than I.

One scene also involved a prosthetic torso piece that was glued in place and then filled with gooey chunks to resemble my guts.  I cannot express just how lovely that was.

But it’s all in a day’s work on the set of many genre pictures—especially horror and sci-fi, where creatures often roam.  And THE HORRIFIC EVIL MONSTERS has a bounty of creatures.  Enough to make genre fans drool.

Normal drool.  Not black gunk. 


Learn more about THE HORRIFIC EVIL MONSTERS:
Facebook: 
https://www.facebook.com/TheHorrificEvilMonsters/
IMDB: 
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7343800/


Monday, April 22, 2019

Be a Dog



I walk down the street with my dog, her tail wagging non-stop, and virtually everyone who passes us looks at her and smiles wide with delight.  It makes me smile with delight as well, to see their faces light up.  I have noticed this but not given it much thought.
 
Until now.

It occurred to me that we should all be so blessed to be like my dog: to effortlessly bring joy to everyone around us.  Can you imagine?  What if everyone we passed made us feel full of joy.  And we’d make them feel joy.  And we’d all feel joy at causing the joy in others.  It would be this exponentially evolving cycle of joy.

Can you imagine?

Now.  How to make it so?  How do we be like a dog?

I’d say it’s easy.  All it takes is a bright attitude and a matching smile.  Smiles are contagious.  Have you noticed?  If you smile, people almost always smile back.  It’s like magic.

So, the next time you leave the house, take a deep breath, exhale your cares and let a smile take over. If you spread a little sunshine, the world will be just that much brighter. For all of us.

And all our tails will be wagging.

Join me. 

Be a dog.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Positively Oscar: We are the Winners



Another Oscars has come and gone.  This year, the reactions and afterbuzz seem to me to be focused on the negative: what or who didn’t win; who said something you could find offensive; what or who was missed.  I say, rather than bemoan the things that didn’t fit our perception of “the right choices”, we focus on what great achievements were made—and there were many: for, if we lose sight of those, we are the true losers of the day.

So, let’s recognize and celebrate that a new record was set for both women and blacks winning Oscars—the latter especially noteworthy since, only a few years ago, the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag denounced the lack of diversity among the acting categories.

On that front, Mahershala Ali became the second black actor to win a second Oscar—this time for his brilliant performance as gay pianist Dr. Donald Shirley in the personal memoir of an odd couple on a bumpy road trip, “Green Book”.

Spike Lee finally nabbed his first Oscar for the adapted screenplay of his searing, significant and vital movie "BlacKkKlansman".

Ruth E. Carter and Hannah Beachler became the first black women ever to win for costume design and production design, respectively, for the superhero tale "Black Panther".

These are wonderful things.  Let’s forget our grievances and celebrate these achievements for the milestones that they are.  They show we continue to grow, to become more inclusive, more aware, more fully integrated as a people.

By focusing on the positive, we can be proud, motivated and optimistic for the future.  If we can do that, we are all winners.

Friday, January 11, 2019

"Trick and Treats": A Horrific Journey



As an actor, filming a movie is always a journey.  Sometimes it’s a journey to a dark place you would never want to go in real life.  Such is the case with “Trick and Treats”, the new horror film from Heroic Age Studios and Frightful 5000 Films. 


“Trick and Treats” tells the tale of one Halloween where a group of young folks find their revels take a wrong turn, causing a gang of sadistic bikers, a psychotic woman off her meds and a demon-possessed jack-o-lantern to collide in a maelstrom of crazy and carnage. Writer/director Eric Hector’s script is an assault of human and inhuman horrors and his team has gone all out to bring the brutal beast to life. 

Hector runs his set with such an unwavering air of calm and courtesy, you would think he’d spent years as a kindergarten teacher.  Such a genial presence is a boon on any film set, but on a set where characters are screaming and in hysterics take after take, it’s a blessing.  The camera crew, led by Tim Lynn and Patrick Donoghue work the Red like a dream, making the action around Brett Hector’s gorgeous sets look moody and marvelous.  AD Joan Hector and producer Laura Richter are on hand and hands on, wearing multiple hats, to make sure everything runs smoothly and the rest of the crew was as diligent and delightful as you could wish.

In front of the camera, I was surrounded by a bounty of talent.  It was thrilling to see actors unafraid to go anywhere and to work with whatever moment-to-moment surprises emerged to create truly horrifying scenes. The film has some exceptionally wretched characters and truly brutal moments and it was inspiring to be in the moment with these kind, lovely professionals as they turned into such terrifying monsters; it made it more comfortable for me to go farther than I expected and push myself to be even more horrible than I had planned.  I’ll never look at a certain power tool the same again.

If brutal horror films are your thing, something to make you squirm is on its way.  I apologize for your therapy bills in advance.


Saturday, December 22, 2018

New Year, New Habits, New You!


I always try to offer ideas for New Year's resolutions.  Usually I offer things you can do.  (See my posts around this time last year and previous years.) This time, I'm offering things you can STOP doing.  Specifically on social media.  Because we are all responsible for what's out there and it's up to all of us to make it be a better place to venture.

So, with that said, here are some things you might want to consider stopping...

1. Stop taking and posting so many solo selfies.
A selfie of you and/or friends at a special event is sharing your adventures, but the solo “look at me for no reason” in bathrooms and cars and whatnot makes you look vain and attention-seeking.

2.  Stop using beautification filters.
Making yourself look like a wax mannequin only highlights your own self-loathing and/or vanity.  You are beautiful just the way you are. 

3. Stop sharing and posting mean stuff.
Even if it’s funny in a schadenfreude/Darwin Award fashion, laughing at someone else’s pain or failure is always, ultimately unkind.  Be better than that.  An editorial cartoon now and again is fine; witty snark has its place.  Just think before you post: “Is it kind?” “Is it true?” “Is it necessary?”  If none of the above, skip it.

4. Stop responding to posts you don’t like/agree with.
Ranting and complaining is unattractive.  Eschew that negativity.  Bad things happen; offensive posts happen. Venting just makes you look immature, whiny and/or reactionary.  And you don’t look good in those colors.

5.  Stop using and sharing those quiz apps.
They are often just data-mining tools and virus pathways.  And you wonder why you get hacked.  Besides, they’re so ubiquitous, we all just end up scrolling past them, anyway.  So, they’re boring…in more ways than one.  Don’t be boring.   Be fabulous!  

7.  Stop sharing anything without researching it to see if it’s true and unbiased.
News, diet claims, etc.  A good Google search or a site like Snopes.com can make your research quick and painless.   If you don’t want to take the time to verify something, that’s fine, but then don’t share it.  Remember the rule in #4: “Is it kind?” “Is it true?” “Is it necessary?”  That applies, here, too. 

So, pick one (or more) of these and make next year just a little bit brighter.  For yourself…and all of us!

May 2019 bring you much joy!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Time to Catch Up!


I've been very lax at keeping this blog up to date, so here is a link to my annual recap to catch you up:


It's got the scoop on almost everything I've been up to this year...including the times I failed to blog about it!

So give it a read and you'll be all caught up!

Happy Holidays!

~Gregory

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Hardest Part

Someone asked me “What’s the hardest part about being a creative artist?”  Was it the instability of never knowing where or when your next job will come?  Was it the subjectivity of art that defies consistent, clear metrics by which you’ll be viewed?  Was it the competition?  The all too often volatile personalities surrounding the arts?  Having to audition/interview/pitch yourself more often than most people change their clothes?

I’d argue that there are difficulties (and rewards) in every line of work.  But the thing that stands out for creative artists is that there is no regularity of set tasks and—most dauntingly—no set starting point.   Thus, getting started, becomes the hardest thing.

Writers have innumerable ideas swirling around in their heads—endlessly creating new ones to add to the rich soup of story fodder.  But how to choose one idea to begin our novel, screenplay or play?  How do we decide which idea is worthier of our time?  Which one will allow us to evolve it into a complete work?  Which one will become something that resonates with others?  

Actors and directors, though often at the mercy of the projects offered them, still must decide if the role is right; if the film is right; if the timing is right; etc.  The same is true for painters, sculptures and so on.  How do we decide what project is worth investing our time, energy and heart?

But we must make that choice; cast aside countless great ideas…and begin.  For if we do not begin, we can never manifest our creations into existence.  The wonderful thing that has helped me begin things is realizing that I can always change courses or start over.  The only true failure is the failure to begin.  Abandoned projects and ideas may be revisited and suddenly find new life. So, every beginning has value.

You just have to begin.

So...let's begin.


Friday, July 6, 2018

The Epic Evolution of HERETIKS


          I had this idea for a story about some really creepy nuns.  I had a half a page outline, a title--and nothing else.  It sat there, haunting me.  Taunting me.  It demanded to be fleshed out into a screenplay, but I had no idea how to do it.  So, it sat.  For years.  Then, one day, I pulled that half a page out and said “I have to do this.”  And I did. I finished the screenplay in a kind of gleeful madness and, thus, in 2009, THE SISTERHOOD was complete.
          I began to put it out into the world: to production companies, screenplay competitions—anywhere I got a green light to send it. I got few bites but no sales.  After two years, the script won 1st Place in the Horror Screenplay Contest and, after attracting the interest of Keven Kane of Enmar Productions, I sold the script at last. Enmar collaborated with Templeheart Films and Sterling Pictures, changed the title to THE GATEWAY and launched into preproduction. 
          Three years, another title change and a rewrite or two later, it went into production as HERETIKS in South Wales, directed by Paul Hyett (Howl, The Seasoning House) and starring Clare Higgins (Hellraiser, The Golden Compass, etc.) and Michael Ironside (Scanners, Total Recall, etc.). It was finished this year and hits the festival circuit next month—its world premiere at Frightfest in the UK.
          An over eleven year journey, ladies and gentlemen. That’s sometimes how it goes. This business takes stamina, patience and perseverance.  But is it worth it?

Yes.  Yes, it is. 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

How to Act


My musings on this blog lean toward the entertainment world, but sometimes, I think we can all gain from the same lessons.  As much as an actor’s goal is to behave and speak in ways that effectively demonstrate a fictional character, so might we all realize that the way we behave and speak demonstrates our own, real-life character.  We reveal ourselves as compassionate, as bullies, as thoughtless, as caring…as whatever our words and deeds prove.

That said, a fairly simple rule to follow is to say and do no harm.  I know I've talked about this before, but it bears repeating.  By living this philosophy of mindful kindness, we become better people and the world, as a result, becomes a better place.  When you say or do harm, you not only are harming the object of your words or actions, but you are harming yourself, because you are assassinating your character.  So, it’s better for everyone, including yourself, to be thoughtful, courteous and kind.

Some will say “But it’s a free country; I can do and say what I want”. That’s nonsense.  We have libel and slander laws to help prevent and punish those who intentionally aim to cause harm with their words.  We have assault and battery laws for those who commit specific, unacceptable actions.  And so on.  While you are indeed free to do and say what you please, you must accept the consequences.  Rights come with responsibilities; freedoms come with limitations.  Balance is everything.

The recent Rosanne Barr incident has given us a great example in the abuse of freedom of speech and the corrective balance.  She tweeted a racist comment and was fired for it.  Harm spoken, punishment resulted.  Then, some of you will say “But freedom is getting eroded because of sensitive snowflakes” or something along those lines.  Remember: one sign of a healthy, quality society is how it treats its weakest members; carrying that through, the stronger individuals should be caring for the weaker.  So, if you have “thick skin”, you should be caring for those who are more sensitive, not bullying them.  We all have infinite ways in which our personalities and psyches vary; we should respect them all and be considerate.  Otherwise, we are brutes and not worthy of the term “civilized society”.

So, we are all actors: that is, we are all playing our roles in this world. Make your role shine. Make your character inspire.  

Be kind.  Be courteous.  Be mindful.

Be a hero.