Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Being Your Best


Are you a lover or a hater?  A helper or a harmer?  A builder or a destroyer?

Those may seem like rhetorical questions, but I ask you to answer them, because they define who you are and what role you play in your world and the world at large.

You can see on social media, in the news and everywhere how people cut others down without a thought.  Just to make themselves feel better.  To vent.  To make a snarky joke. 

Whatever the reason, I beg you to stop.  Because it only makes you look bad.  It makes you a person that others don’t want to play with, because the chances you’ll eventually tear them down as well is demonstratively clear.

And the world is so much better off if we’re loving, rather than hating; helping, rather than harming; building rather than destroying. 

When it comes to anything: find what’s good and support that.  And if nothing’s good, do everything you can to keep it from being a part of your life—which includes doing your best to not acknowledging it or give it attention.
  
Of course, some things need to be addressed: pollution, deforestation, racism and so on.  We must acknowledge and address those things diligently to make the world a better place.  But if it’s someone’s clothes, art, choice in music, and so on—embrace and support it…or say nothing.  Be a cheerleader...or be quiet.  In short:  do no harm, verbally or otherwise—in person or online.

Together, if we all focus on love and supporting the good in each other, we will all flourish in fellowship.

Now get out there and be the best you can be!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Post Oscar Buzz

The Oscars are over, and I feel more hope than ever.  For the future of film…and ultimately, hopefully, humanity. It's a natural high and I'm enjoying the buzz.

It wasn’t the fact that there were so many great films pegged for awards that no matter who won, we had reason to celebrate.  It was that the films and, more importantly, those making them were manifesting a movement toward something greater; not only manifesting it in the work, but expressing it—loudly, boldly and eloquently—even in their acceptance speeches.

The message of the movement? We all must work together to make the world a better, more unified, more embracing place; for only in coming together can we hope to enjoy the universal strength, equality and love required to make all good dreams come true.

This is the goal to which we are headed…if these artists keep leading the way.  And if we listen to them and follow their lead.

So…I beg you…for the sake of us all…listen…

 "The greatest thing our industry does is to erase the lines in the sand and we should continue doing that even when the world tells us to make them deeper."
Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

 "…we tried to take a step forward toward a world where all children can grow up seeing characters in movies that look and talk and live like they do. Marginalized people deserve to feel like they belong. Representation matters."
Lee Unkrich and Darla K. Anderson, Coco

"I stopped writing this movie about 20 times because I thought it was impossible…I thought no one would ever make this movie. But…I knew if someone let me make this movie, that people would hear it and people would see it."
Jordan Peele, Get Out

"We all have stories to tell…I have two words to leave with you tonight...inclusion rider." *
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 



*An inclusion rider stipulates that the minor roles of a film reflect the demography of where the film takes place. Name actors who have leverage in negotiations can put this into their contracts and improve representation of women, minorities, LGBTQ individuals and people with disabilities in film.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

2017: A Great Year for Movies



There was something for everyone this year and talent all over the map.  I’m way behind in my movie going, but here are the highlights for me thus far (in no particular order):

THE SHAPE OF WATER
Guillermo del Toro’s gorgeous, beautifully cast love letter to old school movies: part creature feature, part romance, part thriller—adult, yet childlike…with a dollop of magic and even a dash of musical.  It’s the first time I’ve cheered out loud in a movie in a long time.

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI
Martin McDonagh’s writing and directing provide many fine moments in this odd, fascinating film where no one’s hat is all white or black…and his cast (including Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson) makes those moments powerful and memorable.

I, TONYA
A crazy brew of mockumentary and biopic, Steven Rogers’s script is jaw-dropping creative and Craig Gillespie’s direction makes it shine.  It doesn’t hurt that the acting is off the charts—with Margot Robbie and Allison Janney practically burning the screen down.

THE DISASTER ARTIST
James Franco pulls off a tour-de-force performance in this film about a modern day “worst movie ever made”.  It’s hilarious and painful to see him and his fine cast members recreate the making of “The Room”—especially with Franco going nuts as Tommy Wiseau going nuts.

GET OUT
Jordan Peele’s terrifically creepy tale is sort of a slick re-imagining of “The Stepford Wives” with racism replacing sexism.  The script creates all manner of unsettling elements and Peele’s direction and his cast make the most of them.

OKJA
A splendorous movie about a not-so-splendorous future where corporate greed is still heartless as ever and one little girl’s quest to save her beloved “super pig” is both thrilling and inspiring.  Bong Joon-ho’s film is full of wit and wonder and Tilda Swinton gives another knockout performance.



I know there are many more.  But even these few prove that movies are alive and well and making the world just a little bit better.


What were your favorites of the year?


Monday, January 1, 2018

New Year, New You!

 A new year always brings new opportunities to better ourselves and our world.  If you haven’t figured out what to do, here are some ideas.  They all come from the same place:   do no harm. 


  1.      Stop harming the planet. 
a.  Get a hybrid or non-polluting car.  Even a smaller car would help.  Get solar.  Walk more.  Stop smoking. Become an activist against the use of fossil fuel.  Reuse more.  Recycle. Use less.  Tell your waiter “no straws, please”.  Always bring reusable bags when shopping.  Every action, especially when multiplied, makes a difference.  Be a part of making the world a better place.  It feels fantastic!

  2.      Stop harming people.
    Be kind and respectful above all else. We’re all neighbors, sharing one planet that we must work together to save.   So, lose your old ideas of “us vs. them”.  We are all “us”.  Race, religion, gender, orientation, and other factors of humanity do not separate us from “us”.  Eschew all ideas, words, laws—anything that disenfranchise or vilify others for their mere identity. Every time you draw a line, you cut us all—including yourself.  But love, respect and kindness make the world a beautiful, joyous place.

3.      Stop harming animals. 
a.  Stop eating them.  It’s better for your body, the planet and the animals.  Factory farming is a huge cause of global pollution. And eating animals is tantamount to murder. The plant kingdom provides everything you need to be healthy.  Even one less meat meal a week helps.  Avoid eggs, too, because mass production includes throwing male chicks in shredders.  Seriously.  Don’t be a part of that horror.
b. Stop wearing them.  Most clothing and makeup production involving animals is just as cruel.  Don’t promote animal torture and death.  It doesn’t look good on you.
c. Stop buying them from stores and breeders.  There are too many adorable furry friends in shelters and rescues.  Every store-bought pet is a rescue dog or cat’s hope shattered.  Be a hero and save a life.  It’s the greatest feeling in the world.
 
So, there you have it.  Three ways to make you and the world better, brighter and happier.

Now go make this year be just a little bit better!


Much love!





Monday, November 13, 2017

This Year, It’s Personal


'Tis the time when I usually shift from things Hollywood to things Holiday. Whether you’re already humming a traditional tune or grimacing at stores shoving the mercantile madness in your face “too soon”, there is no denying the season is upon us.  I will share my usual thoughts on the holidays once December rolls around, but for now, I’d like to beg those of you who are shopping (or preparing to shop) for holiday gifts to make your choices gifts on both ends.

What do I mean?

Simple:  buy gifts from your friends and neighbors.  We all have people in our lives who make arts and crafts and why not support them instead of the faceless corporations who will never know or care that you bought their wares?  We all know someone who makes clothes, crafts, paintings, films, songs, furniture…you name it.  It would be a much-appreciated gift to these people if you’d buy from them instead of the monster stores that are like shills for Wall Street bank accounts.

So, make your gift choice personal, unique and from the heart.  Support people you love who are forging their art.  Buy from them for everyone on your lists.  Today…and every day.

Thank you!

Here are a few ideas from people I know:

Photo Prints:
Josh Patterson Photography:
http://www.joshpatterson.photo/store

Films:
“Bone Dry” (Adventure):  https://tinyurl.com/y98u73a4
“Lake Fear” (Horror):
https://tinyurl.com/yabtf3y2
“Bethany” (Horror): https://tinyurl.com/y78onbdh
“The Killer 4 Pack, II” (Horror): https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075DSC6F9

Novels:

“A Whisper from Within” by Theresa Gattuso O'Connor: https://tinyurl.com/y8b5nq6o

“Nate and Kelley" by Micheal R. Barnard: https://tinyurl.com/y94tv46z
“The Preternatural” by Daryl Hajek: https://tinyurl.com/yajdjzea
David Warren author page on Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/y743889w

Essential Oils & More
:
Garret Miller:
https://www.garrettmiller.com/gifts

And, if none of that grabs you, maybe I have something that will work: http://www.2writers.com/Gregory_Store.htm

So, this year, make it personal!

Peace to all!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Film Festivals for Dummies


First time hitting the festivals as a filmmaker? Well, congratulations! Now, what the heck do you do when you get there? Here’s a short run down of some basic DOs and DON’Ts, based on my past experiences.

DOs:

1.  FIRST THINGS FIRST:  Sign in, get your tickets, SWAG Bag and Filmmakers Badge and whatever else is offered or needed to get into the various screenings, panels and parties.
  
2. GET PRESS:  Find Press Badge people and hand them your Press Kit, flyer or poster and tickets to your film. Smaller festivals may not have Press Badges, so just use your best judgment. The goal is photos and interviews. You may not win an award, but great press is its own reward.

3. BUILD RELATIONSHIPS: Hand a business card to press folks BEFORE they start interviewing. It can help them during the interview or later in editing.  Then, get their card before they leave to follow up & build relationships.  Hand cards to other folks, but AFTER they ask for it: establish interest first; mindless card shoving is pushy and annoying.

4. LOOK GOOD: Pause after each question to allow for a good edit point and repeat the question before answering or incorporate it into your answer. Also: repeat your film’s title often so it gets in the final interview, no matter how they edit it.

5.  STAY POSITIVE:  Avoid confrontational & budget questions:  you could turn off or lowball a prospective buyer. Focus on the pitch you’ve practiced and stick to it...with a smile.


DON’Ts

1. DON’T BE LATE:  You are making an example of how you are on set and in production meetings. Be on time to all screenings and panels. It’s rude to show up late.  People will notice and be turned off instantly.

2. DON’T LEAVE EARLY:  I see this time and time again. If your film is part of a block of films (as short films usually are) do not get up after your film and leave if there are more films to follow. It’s disrespectful and we all see you and no one wants to work with a rude, selfish jerk. Stay for the entire block. Also, don’t leave early right after your film because people may want to talk with you about it and it could lead to a new relationship that will prove valuable in the future.

3. DON’T BE THAT GUY:  In the theater, turn your cell phone off. Phone ringing, buzzing and even the glow of texting and tweeting are all beyond offensive in this arena while the films are playing. Again: you are making an example of how respectful you are to your peers. And don’t talk during anyone’s film. Ever.

4. DON’T BAD MOUTH:  Do not say anything negative. Not about a film, filmmaker, or anyone. It only makes you look bad. Even if you leave and go to a nearby bar or restaurant; you never know who else from the festival may be there as well. Festivals are about celebrating, honoring and building relationships. Keep it that way. Negativity will only harm you.


I hope what I listed is helpful. If you have other things you think are just as important, please feel free to leave a comment. I want film festivals to be joyful for everyone.  After all, they call it a festival for a reason.

Now, go out there and be festive!


Saturday, July 22, 2017

Naked or Covered in Blood?


An interesting trend has emerged in my latest acting roles.  I seem to end up with at least one scene where I’m either naked or covered in blood.  Now that might sound appealing to some of you, but—trust me—it’s not all fun and games.  I admit that I only have myself to blame: I choose the roles I want to play and I choose them for all sorts of reasonsbut getting naked or bloody isn’t any of them.  

It just seems to happen, lately...

In Blake Fitzpatrick’s sci-fi epic ABADDON, I am naked and chained to fellow actor Charles Chudabala.  Though that may sound hot and kinky, it’s far from it: we’re actually prisoners being tortured.  In truth, since nothing is shot below the belt, we’re actually both wearing pants as the scene is shot.  So, the illusion is that we're naked, but the reality is less prurient.  And it’s wicked hot in the valley where we're shooting on a green screen, so we’re trying not to look too sweaty; though that’s appropriate for the alien planet’s climate, it could melt our makeup and we’d prefer our fake scars stay in place.

With Charles Chudabala in ABADDON

In Kim Queen’s LOOK BACK, the scene is the reverse in the sense that we do need to look sweaty and we are having sex: rough, banging against the wall, sex.  So my scene partner (the excellent Tamir Elbassir) and I are sprayed with water to simulate sweat--the first batch being ice cold, so both of us end up with goosebumps and everyone has to wait a short bit till we can warm up.  Here, too, there are no below the belt shots, so we get to keep our pants on and the crew gets spared a junk show.


With Tamir Elbassir in LOOK BACK

And then the blood.  

My own GARDEN PARTY MASSACRE finds several characters dripping with the red stuff.  In the heat of late summer, it’s especially sticky and I owe my castmates my deepest respect for “sticking” it out with me.   Imagine yourself covered in the bright red coating of a candy apple—only it tastes terrible and no one is going to lick it off.  And..."Action"!

Bloody good in GARDEN PARTY MASSACRE

Indeed, nothing deters me from a great role, so when I learn about the creepy caretaker Harold in Adam Steigert’s FANG, I say “yes” knowing full well that buckets of blood are headed my way.  I did, however think "bucketswas a metaphor; imagine my surprise when there are six gigantic vats of blood lying in wait on set.  And, in the dark of early morning, I am pummeled with the stuff.  Repeatedly.  And I am not alone.  The film is wall-to-wall bodily fluids and virtually no character is immune.

Seeing red in FANG

I’d say the trend is over, but I’d be lying:  the next two projects I have penciled in are going to fit right in. 

I’m good with that. 

Bloody or not, here I come!


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Tweet Your Heart Out


It’s de rigueur nowadays for social media to be a part of any entertainment event: anticipatory chatter before, live tweeting during and endless prattle after are the rule.  YouTube Red’s mega hit ESCAPE THE NIGHT is no exception: in fact, Joey Graceffa’s fanciful whodunnit game show/soap opera mash-up actually stars hip social media icons, making it not just ripe for the trend, but actually drawing from it.

It should be no surprise, then, when each episode airs, that the Twitterverse and such explodes with engagement. Fans applaud, jeer and otherwise express themselves over each twist and turn of the plot.  They try to guess who will die next, cheer successes and witty bon mots, bemoan a favorite star getting the proverbial (or occasionally literal) axe, and so forth.

As a key actor on Episode 5, I became part of the discussion.  And what fun!  It turns out my character, Sampson (a long-suffering baker/prisoner), was quite the hit:


Hard not to be flattered.   

Of course, the real stars are the producers, editors, writer/director Adam Lawson and creator Graceffa…along with the episode’s main cast which includes Graceffa, Tyler Oakley, Liza Koshy, Alex Wassabi, Tana Mongeau and Andrea Russett.  They make the show the smash that it is…along with the fans and their incredible (and vocal) support.  I was just lucky enough to get invited to the party.   

Good thing I knew how to bake a cake!  😉


And, heck:  tweet #SampsonRocks!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Something To Sink Your Teeth Into


          Some roles are so juicy, you can feel them dripping down your chin...
Creepy Harold in "FANG"

          It’s June in the Finger Lake area of Upstate New York.  The foliage is green and lush, the weather is mild and Keuka Lake is serenity made visible.  But the cast on the set of FANG has dwindled, due to the dark and disturbing things that have happened throughout writer/director Adam Steigert’s new film in which I have been blessed to partake.  You see…a lot people die in this movie. 

          A lot.

Harold: protector or predator?

          It begins with a robbery turned murder which sends two drug-addicted young lovers off to hideout at a distant relative’s house.  But they discover their presumed shelter is less safe than they had hoped.  For things are far from normal at the Crowley residence.   Dark corridors, locked doors and a ghoulish caretaker are just the beginning and the lovers, with two unexpected tag-alongs, become trapped in this house of horrors that includes creatures with various inhuman features--including more than one (if titular) fang.

  
          Mr. Steigart has armed himself with a sparse but diligent crew that keeps the shoot running as smooth as it can when faced with obstacles like power outages, blood flying in unexpected directions and all the little surprises that make filmmaking a challenge.   And my fellow cast members are equally up to the task--handling heat, cold, and all sorts of bodily fluids in all sort of places.  It’s a testament to everyone’s love of the process that spirits remain wry and upbeat, no matter what happens.

(right to left) Director Steigert, Producer Spencer,
moi and 2nd AD/co-producer/actor Patrick Mallete

          The props and makeup effects are especially noteworthy.  Steigert required all practical effects and that was no short order considering the body parts, creature effects, weapons and countless bloody elements:  not a day goes by that someone isn’t covered head to toe in gore.  Add a werewolf, a vampire, skeletons and a few more…uh…bits and pieces…


          …let’s just say there are surprises around every corner and scenes that are destined to become iconic.  People are going to talk about the dinner scene, the basement scene, and the shovel scene.  Probably others as well.  It’s that kind of movie.  And I have been thrilled to be a part of it, loving every moment…even at 3AM, dripping blood.

          I can still taste it.


Follow FANG at:



Thursday, June 15, 2017

Over 24 Million Eyeballs!



ESCAPE THE NIGHT - teaser

Yes...they're really doing it again.  While there are lots of shows made for online platforms, nowadays, YouTube Red found a hit with ESCAPE THE NIGHT--the mad whodunnit game show/soap opera mash-up from the mind of Joey Graceffa and produced by Brian Graden Media...and they're doing it again for a second season that will blow the first one out of the proverbial water.

For those who don't know, Season One had Graceffa as host to a 1920’ s era-inspired murder-mystery dinner in a Gothic mansion. The guests had to solve puzzles…or die! The cast--including a bevy of fabulous YouTube stars--won a Streamy Award for Best Ensemble and the first episode has racked up over 12 million views as of this writing. That’s a lot of eyeballs! So I was thrilled to be cast in Season Two.

This new season, the action takes place in the Victorian-era, and—Graceffa aside
features new famous faces, including Tyler Oakley, Liza Koshy, Jesse Wellens and more. This time, Graceffapossessed by an evil sorceresssummons his friends to the mansion where they must solve innumerable mysteries and face some freaky villains, monsters and more if they want to survive. Because someone dies every episode. Sometimes several people die. And it can get quite bloody. 

The show is full of surprises and, because it’s only partially scripted, the stars are often as surprised as the viewers. In my episode, for example, there are several wicked practical effects that shocked the hell out of everyone! Needless to say, it takes a keen focus and a delicate balance of improv and scripted lines to keep the story on track…and it’s not an easy task. But with masterful writer/director Adam Lawson at the helm, things generally go smoothly. Or as smoothly as they can when people are fighting for their lives or running, screaming in fear! 

Above is the teaser and below is the first official trailer for the new series. You can actually see me VERY briefly in the trailer, but I’m prominently featured in episode 5. 

 ESCAPE THE NIGHT - trailer

The series premieres June 22 on YouTube Red. Get the popcorn ready, because you don’t want to miss this show!