Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday the 13th

A scary day. A day of rumored, infamous bad luck.  It became the name of an internationally known horror movie franchise.  I even shot my film DEADLY REVISIONS at the same cabin as that franchise’s fourth installment: partly as homage and partly to play on the theme.

But let’s get real.  There is no such thing as a bad luck day.  There is no such thing as bad luck at all.  Or luck of any kind.  As sentient beings, there are things we can know and things we can do; this combination allows us to control a percentage of our world.  But the other percentage—the part that’s out of our control—is a result of infinite forces of nature:  other beings, timing, and all the rest coordinate to create the moments of our lives.  To call that mysterious alchemy “luck” seems to me reductive and immature; a dangerous combination that allows for embracing such nonsensical beliefs and behaviors as avoiding cats of a certain color, leaning ladders, and stepping on cracks.

While I enjoy the mythology of Friday the 13th, I enjoy it for its preposterousness.  It’s a day to laugh at the foolishness of days gone by.  I only hope one day we can laugh at some of the preposterous things people believe today.  I don’t want to extend this idea here, but I ask each of you reading this to ponder what ill-advised thinking and behaviors might be resulting from similar archaic beliefs people continue to hold today.   I dare say Friday the 13th may be the least scary of them all.

In the meantime, I’m off to hug a black cat.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

New Year's Blog

L.A. Movie Award for "Best Feature Film"
The photo above, to my mind, shows someone reaching for a star.  That image seems appropriate for aspirations, hopes and dreams for a new year.  That it happens to be one of the awards my film DEADLY REVISIONS won last year only adds to the metaphor:  that we should honor those who reach, for it is the reaching, not the star, that matters.

I reached for many stars last year and only caught a few.  But the reaching brought so much more.  I was lucky enough to get cast as  an actor in projects that included OLD DOGS & NEW TRICKS,  NATURAL BORN FILMMAKERS, DYSFUNKTION and HE WAITS, but the fun had and friends met are what made those experiences unique. I also had the honor of auditioning for projects at Warner Bothers, Paramount and for shows like CSI: CYBER, MAJOR CRIMES, and Steven Spielberg's EXTANT; though not cast, the opportunity was memorable.  The point is:  you may not reach every star, but if you're focused on it, its light shines on you, anyway.
I had much light shining on DEADLY REVISIONS last year:  we won the L.A. Movie Award for “Best Narrative Feature” and “Best Actor” for Bill Oberst, Jr., the Terror Film Festival's Claw Award for “Best Feature Film Screenplay” and the FANtastic Film Festival awards for “Best Actor” and “Best Actress” (Bill and Cindy Merill).  Then we landed distribution through SGL Entertainment and so the film will be out in VOD, DVD and BluRay in the coming months. For a guy who just dove in and helmed a feature film with no idea what he was doing, I can't express how amazing that is.  I reached for a star and ended up over the moon.

As for this year, there are many projects on the horizon; which ones will reach fruition is not up to me alone, but I will reach just the same.  I am also aiming to show more patience, more peace, more kindness and more love.  I think the world can use it...and so can I.

So...what are you reaching for?

For more about me: Gregory's Official Website
Or: Gregory's IMDB Page


Monday, December 8, 2014

Best of the Fest: Twisted Tails

For those of you who didn’t make it to this year’s Twisted Tails Film Festival, I’ll try to give you short wrap up of my experiences so you can know what you missed.  And you missed plenty!  Let me explain why…

Never mind the films (I’ll get to those), the people and auxiliary happenings had me smiling inside all day long.  Of course there were celebrities signing photos and goodies (one of the original ‘Lost Boys’, Corey Feldman, ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ maven Eileen Diets and scream queen beauty Chanel Ryan to name a few), but—as the festival is a charity event for local animal rescue Paws in the City—there was also a silent auction for movie memorabilia as well as an afternoon visit from some adorable, adoptable pooches needing homes (but happy just to give and receive some love).   Fast Custom Shirts was there with a fun selection of wearable gifts and main man Joe Garcia brought a selection of his latest artwork which is not wearable, but about as cool as it gets.  You just have to see it for yourself. Two small samples are here. I met many wonderful, fun people with all manner of talents and we talked, laughed and had buckets of fun. 

Then there were the movies.  I couldn’t catch them all, but here’s what I saw and what I thought about what I saw...

Day one’s features were that rare breed of comedy/horror.  “Get Dead” writer, director and star Markus Baldwin knows corn and camp; with obviously limited resources, Baldwin’s hick-filled yuck fest about a mythical killer pokes fun at horror clichés with tongue firmly in cheek.  It’s low brow, low budget snark.  And I have a veritable fanboy crush on left field oddity Banjo Phil.  Joe Grisaffi’s “Conjoined” is an adult fairy tale gone wrong.  In a cartoonish world, a nebbish man’s marriage to a woman with an attached (and psychotic) twin proves a study in discomfort:  awkward silences, inappropriate comments and gory violence often make the viewer as uneasy as the characters.  But Michelle Ellen Jones is Barbie doll sweet throughout and Jake Byrd makes a juicy meal of his strange “best friend” role.

My feature “Deadly Revisions” started Saturday off and got a nice round of applause, followed by Shawn Ewert’s “Sacrament”, featuring Marilyn Burns.  “Sacrament” aims to mesh the drama of a hunted young man, the comedy of a teenage group’s outing and a gory yarn about religious killer/cannibals; though it feels uneven, it looks exceptionally good and the teenagers are all terrific--as is much of their funny dialogue.  And full props to the risk of having an out, accepted (and even sexualized) gay couple as the leading heroes of a horror film:  sadly, still a bold choice in today’s market, Ewert’s film can proudly claim it as a coups.  Then came “Bloody” Billy Pon’s already infamous “Circus of the Dead”.  This sick, ultra-violent and yet often darkly hilarious freakshow about psychotic killer clowns is bred to be an instant cult film.  Its gritty, grotesque gore-fest is as unflinching as it is outlandish and lead Bill Oberst, Jr.’s drooling, demented Papa Corn seems meant for iconic status.   Some trimming would sharpen the jaws of the rambling beast, but as it is, “Circus of the Dead” bears a  brazen, brutal bite you’re not likely to forget.

Day three, a scheduling snafu caused me to miss the first half of Grzegorz Muskala’s “Whispers Behind the Wall” (“Die Frau hinter der Wand”, translated, more closely as “The Woman Behind the Wall”) and the second half of Tommy Faircloth’s “Dorchester’s Revenge”, but what I saw of each left me impressed.  Both are incredibly well-made films with excellent production values.  Jason Vail fairs well as a teacher haunted by his past experience with the titular “Dorchester” in this sequel to the original parody horror yarn of a crinoline-wearing killer (appropriately called “Crinoline Head”).  In “Whispers”, a psycho-sexual thriller of a law student’s first love gone wrong, Vincent Redetsky is a sweet-faced, bespectacled babe drawn into beautiful sociopath Katharina Heyer’s web of madness; the film’s final reel is a totally satisfying, edge-of-your-seat thrill ride. 

There were also many good short films along the way, most notably “Special”, “Service” and “Snake With a Human Tail”.  (Apparently, short films beginning with “S” fair well.)  Mikeal Burgin’s “Special” has a nice twist to the end of a child abduction tale and Jerry Pyle’s “Service” has a nice twist at the beginning of what is just a situation rather than a full story--though it’s nevertheless wickedly intense.  In writer/director Spencer Gray’s gritty, unapologetic “Snake With a Human Tail”, the connection of a sadistic, child-molesting priest (Marv Blauvelt) and a transsexual prostitute (an impressive Sheri Davis) proves to be far more than just odd happenstance. The film is fraught with enough ideas and images for a feature film, which, interestingly, is its only weakness:  it feels too long for a short film and, yet, still somehow underdeveloped.  But the bulk of what’s there is bold, powerful and provocative filmmaking; I look forward to what Mr. Gray will come up with next.

All films were shown on a huge screen with a glorious sound system in one of the large and comfortable theaters at the Angelika Film Center; it was an excellent venue to enjoy films.  Props to Tammy Dupal, Twisted Central, Paws in the City and everyone involved in putting this memorable event together. Combining a fine selection of films and an opportunity to provide help for such a worthy cause should keep the Twisted Tails Film Festival on the map for a long, long time.
The amazing Tammy Dupal (& some dork).


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Back on Broadway

Once upon a time, I more regularly shared my thoughts of each trip to Broadway and the shows I would see.  But one day I thought: “Who cares what I think?”  And while the answer may still be “no one”, I’ve decided to put down my thoughts on my most recent visit to the Great White Way because I wonder if I’m alone in my yearning for days gone by, if I’m romanticizing the past, or if something is missing from the newer breed of original productions. 

Of the four shows I saw, three had elements of greatness, but not one of the three was a solid, flawless show.  The talent on stage (and in the orchestras, where they existed) proved uniformly stellar as did the direction and design of the shows.  Brilliant comic timing, singing and dancing bubbled forth in abundance across the board and the musicals proved exceptionally clever and eye-popping in their presentation.  The core of any show, though, is the writing and—in both scripts and scores—these shows suffered from weaknesses that made me less than fully enraptured.

Matilda is buoyed by witty set design (an alphabet-infused choreographed number, a child-spinning shtick and self-writing chalk are but a few of the treats) and the incredibly talented adult cast members who actually steal the show from the children—which is a feat in itself, since the little tykes are all damn good.  But the story ambles and the score is sketchy:  half of the score is strong, with several bona fide showstoppers, but other songs miss the mark; while Act Two pulls out completely undeveloped "magical" elements.  Matilda won me over, but more on style than content. And I can't get the anthem "Revolting Children" out of my head. 

The fact that A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder won “Best Musical” but not “Best Score” tells me I’m not completely mad that I found the patter-inundated score forgettable and tiresome at times.  It’s an entertaining enough show and, rather uniquely, one that has a better second act than first, partly since the former takes too long to get its stride with too many of those aforementioned unmemorable songs.  However, the talented cast sings it all beautifully and Jefferson Mays as virtually the entire D’Ysquith family is comic Broadway gold, aided by clever direction (which also won a Tony) and stage effects that make the murders jolly good fun once they get going. 

Then we come to the newest hot ticket item:  Terrence McNally’s It’s Only a Play.  Newcomer Micah Stock is surrounded by giants Nathan Lane, Megan Mullally, F. Murray Abraham, Rupert Grint, Stockard Channing and Matthew Broderick; the stars are all at the top of their game and young Stock still manages to stand out as an adorably dopey coat steward.  The play promises and provides countless laughs and gags, though some are far from timeless:  too many jokes are so au currant they’re doomed to demand constant rewrites or die once this cast and season are gone. Poor Mr. Broderick is also saddled with dull didactic diatribes on the meaning of theater which stop the play cold.  Fortunately, the whiny and preachy passages are outweighed by the frothy good fun. The cast delivers McNally’s yuks and shtick with laudatory gusto and panache; yet even a shiny disco ball (used twice, no less) does not distract from the fact the play is anemic fluff.

But then, like an unexpected miracle, there is Once.  It likely surprised many that such a small show would take eight Tony Awards for 2012 (including “Best Musical”), but I’d say it was kismet because it would have been a shame for this near perfect show to have been buried by more monolithic musicals.  Everything about Once is inventive and on point.  The cast is also the orchestra which, since the show is about musicians, is contextually appropriate (as opposed to recent John Doyle gimmickry).  The audience is invited to join in—literally—as the musicians have a pre-show jam fest and theater guests can come on stage and have a drink amidst the merriment.  Thus, Once wins the audience over before it has even technically begun.  Then the show starts, almost seamlessly and, unlike the aforementioned theatrical offerings, there’s not a wasted or weak moment.  The songs all have a place and a point, the scenes are adroit and the characters fresh, full and flawed.  No more than ten minutes into the show, lead Paul Alexander Nolan sings the signature song, accompanied by the refreshingly offbeat Jessie Fisher; the simple and sweet melody paired with Nolan’s haunted eyes and soulful voice is so achingly beautiful, it’s enough to make a grown man cry.  Not once.  Twice. No amount of stage machinery, celebrity or marketing can compare with great writing, be it music, lyrics or prose—especially when it is brought to life with such raw and passionate talent.

And so, while I may have begun this with something akin to a dies irae, I can assure you great theater is alive and well.  We only have to take risks, seek it out and support it.  You never know when you will find something that will make you weep with astonishment at how beautiful art can be.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The First Festival

Actors Lise Hart and Mikhail Blokh and our awards.
My film DEADLY REVISIONS had its world premiere in Los Angeles last month.  It came with great fanfare:  not only was I notified I had been accepted to the festival, I was informed my film had won two top accolades!  Yes, our first film festival and we were already the proud recipients of the L.A. Movie Awards for Best Narrative Feature and Best Actor (For Bill Oberst, Jr.).  Not a bad beginning at all.

The festival was hosted by my friend Stephen Tako, a terrific bonus, as he’s a very gracious, supportive fellow actor.  The screening was also the first opportunity a few cast and crew had to see the film.  Then, of course, there were the awards.  With Bill out of town shooting another film, I ended up with my hands full. Fortunately, I had the help of the other actors for some of the red carpet photos as you can see above.   The wins have spurned more distributor interest and it has been an experience to see what has come our way.  But I’ll discuss more about that at a later time.

For now, we’re getting ready for more festivals.  Our New York premiere is next week at the NYC Independent Film Festival.  Then we make our San Diego premiere Halloween night at the FANtastic Horror Film Festival, where we are nominated for five more awards.  Next up is the Texas premiere in December at the Twisted Tails Film Festival in Dallas.   We’re also official selections of the Terror Film Festival and the Depth of Field International Film Festival (where we’ve been nominated for “Best Horror Film”).

So if you’d like to see the film ahead of any release, grab a ticket to one of the screenings.  And, since festival directors love when the director is present to talk about the film, it’s my goal to make an appearance at as many screenings as possible, so look for me and come say “Hello”. 
Selected reviews to date:
"Amazing Flick!"
(GuestStars Blog)

"Mind Blowing!"
(Char Hardin Blogspot)

(A Bucket of Corn)

"Genuinely Fun Jolts!"
(Ain't It Cool News)

"Very Clever!"

(re-Search my Trash)

"A twisted mind bender!"
(Twisted Central)

"Gleeful fun!"
(More Horror)

“A well-made, tension filled thrill ride!”
(Horror Society)



Monday, September 1, 2014

The Fall Festival Season

More often than not, part of a film’s emergence in the public eye takes place at festivals.  Most folks are familiar with Sundance and a few others, but there are hundreds upon hundreds of film festivals:  some wide in scope, others very specific to a certain niche.  The goal of the filmmaker is exposure and the chance at attaching a few laurels to their film.  It is also a chance to network and find others who may be good partners for future projects—especially eager investors.  

For my film DEADLY REVISIONS, we entered a wide range of festivals:  from the larger, broad spectrum events to the smaller, genre specific options.  Though festivals continue throughout the year and we don't know all the festivals that have as yet to invite us to be in their line-up, we have been confirmed as official selections of the NYC Indie Film Festival, the Twisted Tails Film Festival in Dallas and the FANtastic Horror Film Festival in San Diego--where we screen, appropriately, on Halloween night.

And so the festival preparations began:  acquiring marketing materials, marking calendars, booking flights and hotels, etc.  As the director, it has been my goal to make a personal appearance at as many screenings as possible.  Festival directors love when the director is present to talk about the film and I’d like to honor that.  Actually being there will also give me the chance to hear how different audiences react to the film:  extremely valuable information you just can’t quite capture any other way.

So if you’d like to see the film ahead of any release, grab a ticket to one of the screenings.  And come say “Hello”.  I’ll be the nervous, nerdy guy in the back, with no fingernails left.

Reviews to date:

"Amazing Flick!"
(GuestStars Blog)

"Mind Blowing!"
(Char Hardin Blogspot)

(A Bucket of Corn)

"Genuinely Fun Jolts!"
(Ain't It Cool News)

"Very Clever!"

(re-Search my Trash)

"A twisted mind bender!"
(Twisted Central)

"Gleeful fun!"
(More Horror)

“A well-made, tension filled thrill ride!”
(Horror Society)





Sunday, July 20, 2014

This Blog Post Is So Takei

          Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know who George Takei is.  But you may only know him as Sulu from “Star Trek”.  Or as Hiro’s father in “Heroes”. Or as that guy on Facebook that posts outrageously funny stuff all the time.  And he’s all of those things.  But did you know he lived for years in a Japanese American internment camp?  Or that he was on the board of directors of the Southern California Rapid Transit District--who helped initiate the Los Angeles subway system?  Or that he’s become an indelible part of "The Howard Stern Show"? 

          Well, it’s all true.  And more.  And more is what you get in “To Be Takei”, the fun and fascinating new documentary about the irrepressible Mr. Takei and his life:  a life that provides lessons in bravery, optimism, humor and heart.   Director Jennifer M. Kroot and co-director and editor Bill Werner have put together a swift, witty and extraordinarily well-wrought film that reveals the admirable eloquence and diplomacy as well as the outrageous and bawdy audacity that is George Takei.

          The film’s center is George’s life with his husband Brad, both at home and on the road, since Brad takes on the role of manager, personal assistant and wrangler.   The two have been together for decades and the strength of their bond is clear from the start.  They have shared in the joy of their long-awaited wedding, the grief of the loss of their mothers as well as countless other life experiences that virtually all couples face throughout their journey on earth.

         But surrounding this is the wondrous whirlwind of change that has pushed Takei through his life and, at times, caused Takei to push back with an indomitable force all his own.  His childhood years in internment camps may have prepared him for facing producers who saw his race as a cliché and bigots who saw his orientation as a blight.  His years in the civic world may have helped prepare him to be the great diplomat he has become, speaking for civil rights.  And who knows what honed his wicked sense of humor that he skillfully and regularly uses to amuse and lambast on Facebook and elsewhere.

          One brilliant example of the later came when he offered his name up during a recent proposed law to make saying the word “gay” in public schools a crime. (Mr. Takei proposed that, if they couldn’t say “gay”, they could “Just say ‘Takei”.)   But it’s clear that “To Be Takei” is to be so much more:  it is to be fearless, to be optimistic, to do what you can, to be truthful and—above all else—to be fabulous!   And the film “To Be Takei” is, much like the man, all of those things.

More about the movie:

More about George Takei:



Friday, June 27, 2014

To The Scream Queens

Me, Dawna Lee Heising and my rescue pup--our Deadly Revisions mascot.

There has been much ado about women in film, including the horror genre:  the fact that they’re underrepresented, under paid, under clothed or a combination of the three.  But most of this talk is about the ladies in front of the camera--with a close second going to the ladies behind the camera.  The indomitable women in these roles are numerous and certainly worthy of attention, including Debbie Rochon,  Devanny Pinn, Jessica Cameron, Tara Cardinal, Dawna Lee Heising and many others.  They all deserve the lauds and notices they get.  But I’d like to give a shout out to another group of women in horror.  The women who support the genre in ways beyond the actual world of filmmaking.  So here are three such women.  Discover them and,then thank them for all they do.
Tammy Dupal has a gigantic heart.  So much so that she put her love of horror and her love of charity together to create the Twisted Tails Film Festival (TTFF)—a horror film festival that gives all its proceeds to help homeless animals.  How cool is that?  So you can get your chills and thrills while helping to house and feed animals in need.  So Tammy gets two thumbs way up in my book.  Check out the TTFF:
Another long time champion of horror is Char Hardin.  Char has been blogging about horror and reviewing films for some time now.  (   She also has her own podcast to further promote horror films, prose fiction and other media.  She is particularly devoted to helping independent artists, because she feels they need someone to shout about their work.  So let’s turn the tables for once and cheer for Char!
Newer to the horror nurturing world is JoAnn Thomas, wife of critic Mike Thomas with whom she has created the FANtastic Horror Film Festival.  (  This festival makes its virgin tour this year and is aimed to be focused on and in honor of fans of the genre.  Hence the emphasis of the first three letters of their festival’s name.  Via on-line voting, fans will have a say in making the final award selections.  Power to the people!  And power to Joanne!
           So please join me in applauding these women in the hallowed fringes of horror who go above and beyond to make our lives just a little scarier.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Getting Naked. Again

          Have you ever had that dream?  The one where you’re suddenly standing naked in front of a crowd of people? You’re utterly aware there’s nothing you can do, nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.  People are going judge you, jeer at you, laugh at you—hell, even make unwanted advances.  You have no idea what’s in store; all you know is you’re naked and it’s about to happen.

          That’s pretty much what it’s like every time artists expose themselves to the public.  Instead of genitalia, we’re exposing other pieces of ourselves through a painting, a song, a dance, a film—whatever creation we’re putting out there for the world to see, to sense, to judge.  It’s damn scary, but utterly necessary if you’re the type of artist whose goal is to share, to communicate with your fellow man. 

          I am such a fool and my latest strip tease was a bona fide cherry popper:  my feature film directorial debut, Deadly Revisions.  I had worked for nearly a year and a half, turning my script into a slow-burn, psychological thriller and it was time to share it with the world.  Thus, I began submitting it to film festivals.  It immediately generated interest and, before I knew it, I had folks wanting to review it.

          Terrifying.  What if they hated it?  What if it was buried in bad reviews before it even got off the ground?  Now I wasn’t just standing naked before a crowd:  I was naked and suffering from shrinkage.  All I could do was hold my breath, prepare for the worst and hope for the best.  Hints came my way that I could put the hari-kiri knife away.  But I still held my breath.   Then the reviews began to emerge and, suddenly, I could breathe again.

          GuestStars Blog called it an "Amazing Flick!".  The Char Hardin Blogspot dubbed it "Mind Blowing!" deemed it "Very Clever!", Twisted Central called it “a twisted mind bender” and A Bucket of Corn declared  it “Visionary!”.  I was still naked, but relatively unscathed which allowed me to relax a little; even if no one else liked the film, I knew at least I had made a few folks happy.

          And that’s all you can hope for.  You can’t imagine you can please everyone.  You shouldn’t even try.  You should please yourself as much as possible and hope others find pleasure in what you’ve created.

          To find information on where Deadly Revisions is screening next, visit And if I’m there, come say “hello”. 

           I’ll be easy to spot; I’ll be the naked guy.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Breaking the Rules

          I’ve always been a fan of the folks who break rules when it comes to creativity; as long as nobody gets hurt, the result is always something new.  It might be a brilliant breakthrough success or a fantastic failure, but it will be worthy in originality and ambition, regardless.   Watch a Ken Russell film or a Peter Greenaway film; you may be fascinated or frustrated, but you will know you’ve seen something truly unique.

          I certainly broke rules when it came to my Stonewall Award winning novella “Spewing Pulp”.  I wanted to tell a story in both prose and screenplay format, showing (for those who were paying attention and/or cared) the differences between how the two media worked) since the story was about a poet who eventually pondered writing a screenplay.

          Steve Oakley is also a breaking the rules with his film “Natural Born Filmmaker”.  Unwilling to be constrained by the traditional filmmaking process, Steve is writing the film in pieces, shaping it around the characters vis-a-vis the actors he’s brought on board to portray them and what they are bringing to each character.   Each actor brings their own take to the project and Steve adjusts the story to best enhance the strongest choices.  The final moments of the film completely changed on set and the film’s ending is far better as a result.

         But the tossing aside of tradition goes beyond the script; the film shoot itself is a hybrid of traditional filmmaking, sitcom television shoots and improv shows.   Each scene is set up to be shot with three cameras at different angles the same time; instead of doing several takes of a full scene, Steve goes practically line by line, having each actor do several takes of the same line, one right after the other—often incorporating adjustments and improv.  It takes tremendous concentration to keep the dialogue flowing as though it were one, continuous conversation; each actor has to focus on the flow of the scene in spite of the actual stops and starts.  It's a challenge, but it's also terrifically fun.

          Of course, it will all come down to, as it always does, the choices made in the editing room.  But I won’t be surprised if Steve breaks a bunch of rules in that department as well.

For more info on “Natural Born Filmmaker, check out: