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)

"Visionary!"
(A Bucket of Corn)

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

"Very Clever!"
(Matchflick)

"Recommended!"
(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: http://tobetakei.com/

More about George Takei: www.georgetakei.com/

 

 

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:  http://twistedtailsfilmfestival.com/.
Another long time champion of horror is Char Hardin.  Char has been blogging about horror and reviewing films for some time now.  (http://charhardin.blogspot.com/)   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 Matchflick.com critic Mike Thomas with whom she has created the FANtastic Horror Film Festival.  (http://www.fhffsd.org/home.html)  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!"  Matchflick.com 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 www.DEADLYREVISIONSMOVIE.com. 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: http://bit.ly/RC0Nrl


 
 






 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Man Crushing

         
          Man Crush. 

          The very term would once have brought nothing but images of Herculean types doing great bodily harm to one another.  But today, the meaning of “being a guy who is enchanted and enraptured by another man, without any sexual overtones necessary” is becoming commonplace. We see it talked about on social media, in films, on television and even in—what else?—blogs.


         My man crushes are many and I’m not ashamed of a single one.  I tend to fall for, admire and desire to hang with men who are talented and individualistic:  men who dare to do more than their peers, achieve more diversity in their artistic output and remain utterly charming and down-to-earth, with a great sense of humor to boot.  Who are these men?  You may have heard of them…
 
          I’ll start with Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  You may know him as an actor from his television role on “3rd Rock from the Sun” or from some his big films “50/50”, “The Dark Knight Rises”, “Lincoln” or some of his smaller films, such as the haunting and heartbreaking “Mysterious Skin”.  But he’s also a director, writer, producer and more…and has created his own open collaborative production company for cross-functional, multi-media artistic endeavors.  A new adjective is needed to describe how cool this guy is.

          Then there’s the indomitable James Franco.  You may know him as an actor from his television role on “Freaks and Geeks” or from big films like “Spider-Man” (1, 2 and 3), “127 Hours”, “Pineapple Express” and “Milk”, or smaller films like “Howl”, “Palo Alto” and “Interior. Leather Bar.  But like JGL, James is also a director, writer, producer and more:  his is a published author, has taught classes in film and acting, and has been involved in charities for children and students. He has suffered criticism on many fronts and remains steadfast in his desire to make daring films and have a winsome sense of humor that shines in every goofy Facebook selfie.  You gotta give him props.

          Now, lest you think I only fall for younger, pretty faces, my other man crush is Kevin Spacey.  Not that Kevin isn’t handsome in his own right, but neither he nor I qualify as “young”—except at heart.  But his acting in “Swimming with Sharks”, “The Usual Suspects” and “American Beauty” is, in each case, a master class in the art.  And he, too, is no mere actor:  Spacey has gone on to create Trigger Street, a groundbreaking production company and online platform for feedback and exposure for undiscovered writers and filmmakers.  He is also a patron of the Shakespeare Schools Festival, a charity that enables school children across the UK to perform Shakespeare in professional theatres.  And he’s now involved in another groundbreaking venture: the Netflix streaming project House of Cards”, which earned the first Primetime Emmy Award nomination for original online-only web tevision.

          So you see: I am admittedly and unabashedly attracted to these men.  I admire their drive, their diversity and their daring.  They inspire me to be more than I am today.  They also inspire me to want to buy them a beer.  Or a martini.  Whatever they heck they want.  Hopefully, I won’t look like a big dork when they take me up on it.


          Now 'fess up:  who's your man crush?






















































































































































































































































































































































































  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

New and Improved


       “So….what are you working on…?
       In Hollywood, everyone wants to know (and judges you on) what your most current action is: what projects are you working on; did you get a new agent/manager/distributor/etc.; do you have any new PR, demo reels, headshots, etc.?  Traction and trajectory are the names of the games and they make up a maze of never-ending treadmills.
       For today’s blog I’m going to focus on the actor side of my career and, more specifically, the headshot: casting directors, agents and managers all want photos that look like who you are right now and the roles you can play right now.  While it’s true that the magic of CGI, FX and make-up can transform you into anything, most films will use you more or less as you are and so you need to provide the people with photos that represent that. 
       Having recently been signed by the ladies of  The Jana Luker Agency, updated headshots were ordered, including a request for some wider body shots.   So I went back to the man who can tame the alchemy of color, light and attitude to have him use all of the above to once again make magic and fulfill my need with something spectacular.  That may sound like hyperbole, but the man I am talking about is Joshua Patterson of Josh Patterson Photography. 
        Never satisfied with complacency, Josh continually hones his photography skills and the result is that his work is ever-evolving and ever-improving.  So we got together and, thanks to his relaxed and understanding attitude, had a no-stress, thoroughly enjoyable photo session that included several different outfits and looks, since he knows I’m a character actor who is cast as evil bastards, wimpy nerds and everything in-between.

       Once again, the maxim “a picture is worth a thousand words” seems apropos.  So without further ado, here are some baddies, some nerds and a few others.  I think you’ll agree:  Mr. Patterson has served me well.
 
 
 
 
 

For more on Gregory Blair, try IMDB, Facebook, Twitter or my Official Site
For more photos & info on Josh Patterson and his work, hit up: www.joshpattersonphotography.com 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Doing It Right


        There are days when you wonder if you’re doing it right.  When you doubt yourself.  When you look around and get the sense that you, somehow, are in the wrong place, have the wrong skills, made a wrong choice.  It’s only human.  Our minds are constantly evaluating information and making assessments.  The trick is to know which assessments are the most accurate for who you are and who you want to be.

        Then there are days when you know you’re doing it right.  As an actor, those days go something like this…

        I had finished working a few episodes of “Love That Girl” a while back when one of the writers contacted me and asked me if I wanted to be in his new project.  First win, right there.  As an actor, nothing is better than being offered a role without having to audition:  it’s a sign that someone thinks enough of you that they know you can do a role and want you to play it; it tells you you’re doing it right.

        Then there’s the fact that it’s a non-scripted comedy.  Now it’s not just the case that I fit and can play said role, now it’s a sign that he trusts in my improvisational skills to create the character and all his dialogue.  That’s a lot of trust.  But he’s seen me come up with ad-libs and improvised moments for “Love That Girl”, so he is confident I have the chops.  I hear the subliminal message loud and clear:  “You’re doing it right”.

        Then, just in case I had any of those nasty doubts left floating around, in between shots, the writer is introducing me to a fellow cast member and tells them that I was on “Love That Girl” and that I was so funny in the first episode, they wrote my character into more episodes.  Nothing subliminal about that.  Now, I know I’m not only doing it right, I’ve been doing it right.

       When the day's shooting ends, the writer sends me a note to say I was hilarious.  I am pleased: it’s my goal to do good work that will help make the project shine and make the creators happy.  This is the joy of being an actor: bringing characters to life in order to make people feel or understand something about the world we all live in. 

        If I can keep doing that, I'll know I’m doing it right.


 
 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Musicians are Magicians


Musicians are magicians.  It’s true.  They take feelings and externalize them in sounds that communicate and celebrate—a trick no less remarkable than pulling a rabbit from an apparently empty hat.   

For my film DEADLY REVISIONS, we decided we wanted a Christmas song in the background of one scene.  We didn’t have the budget to spend thousands and thousands of dollars to buy the rights to use a known song.  So I talked to my friend Renaissance man Jacob Vanags who, among other things, is a musician and he whipped up a perfect jingle-bell tune overnight.  

Next, I needed a song to augment a brief montage of the two leading men enjoying a good time—one of the few breaks from the tension in the story.  I approached Noah Woodburn of New North Sound who was eager and willing to help.  I sent him the scene, a description of what I was looking for along with some lyrics to guide him.  In a matter of days, with the talents of singer/songwriting duo Tyler Johnson and Julia Cramer, a song was created.  We tweaked it a bit to get the sound just right and a few days later, it was done.  I sent it to my composer Andrew Todd Poole who found the perfect place to have the song start and end, expertly matching music to action and lyrics to images.

And—poof:  the film has two songs that work brilliantly. 
 
Just like magic.

Want some magic in your life?  See the links below.
 

Jacob Vanags:
Piano-rocker Jacob Vanags has played across the country at clubs such as the Lyrikplatz stage at Musikfest in Bethlehem, PA, The Bitter End in NYC, The Bottom Lounge in Chicago, and Republic of Pie in North Hollywood.  http://www.reverbnation.com/jacobvanags


Tyler Johnson and Julia Cramer:
A songwriting duo based out of Portland, Oregon, Tyler Johnson and Julia Cramer play in a band called De La Warr and have enjoyed several years of writing, recording and performing throughout the Pacific Northwest. 
http://delawarr.net/

Noah Woodburn:
Noah is a composer, music producer, sound designer and owner of New North Sound in Portland, Oregon. New North Sound is a fully equipped sound and music facility specializing in custom work for the film and tv world. Noah Woodburn also plays in a band called Goose & Fox who will be releasing their debut album "My Mouth, the Sea" on September 12th, 2013. Goose & Fox is an indie folk/pop band based out of Portland as well.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

And the Award Goes To…

 
Film is a collaborative art.  I’ve said it before and I’m not the first. This is why any award or accolade—even if given to an individual—is really a laurel honoring all the people who were part of the process that led to the final product.  An actor’s performance in a film is a variable alchemy of the actor’s craft, the direction, the editing and much more.  Many elements combine in a special sort of synergy to create what we end up seeing on the screen.  For a director, the symbiotic group dynamic extends to the entire crew…and beyond.
 
Earlier this week, I was awarded the EOTM Award for “Best Director of an Indie Horror Film” for my feature DEADLY REVISIONS.  By now, it will come as no surprise when I say that the award belongs to everyone involved with the film: the crew, the cast, the funders, fans and friends; everyone played a part in supporting the film and, by default, me as a director.  I had my indomitable co-producer Roxy Shih to wrangle and facilitate production needs, my astute director of photography Kate Sobol to devise ways to make each shot work well, numerous and tireless production assistants who kept unseen cogs greased, Facebook fans who shared our stills and updates to their friends...and the beautiful people who poured money into the production; all of these people and more are a part of the creation and life of this film.
 
So to all those people, I of course extend my thanks; not just for helping to manifest an award, but for helping make this incredible film that, I hope, will be something of which we can all be very proud.  The award on my mantle is in honor of us all.  And I couldn’t be in better company.