Monday, November 11, 2019

The Soul of Wit


Brevity. 

Not a new conceit.  But one I think current filmmakers are forgetting, under the misconception that length equals import: an idea that has found its way into the horror genre with a horrible result.

I posted about this on social media and the response was voluminous and almost unanimous: people don’t like long movies when the story does not support the run-time.  There are many films that bear rich, dynamic tapestries of story that fill more than two hours: historical epics and musicals are two genres that often do so.  Some of my favorite films do. But they are the exceptions to the rule. Most films do not; horror, for my taste, particularly suffers from a longer run-time.  I began to wonder why that was and, more to the current trend, why some filmmakers don’t seem to care.


I think to some degree, horror films don’t require as much story: they are often about a single situation, set in a single time with a small group of characters.  We don’t need to know much (if anything) about a character’s past, if—as is often the case—it bears no importance to the story. Furthermore, the tension wanes if a film spends too long on a scene that isn’t riddled with terror, mystery or at least some sense of unease. Most longer films have too much time go by where we’re not scared or intrigued; they become horror films trapped in drawn-out dramas.

This seems to be true for what has become labeled as “elevated horror”—perhaps the most offensive term to come along in a while. Elevated from what?  The term is instantly elitist.  What makes these films so lofty?  Because they are “about something”?  Horror films have been “about something” for forever: mindless conformity (1956’s “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”), selling your (baby’s) soul for fame (1968’s “Rosemary’s Baby”), feminism vs. toxic masculinity (1975’s “The Stepford Wives”), homophobia (1985’s “A Nightmare On Elm Street 2”) and so on.  Is it because they display exceptional cinematic craft?  So did 1922’s “Nosferatu”, 1960’s “Psycho”, 1977’s “Suspiria” and so on.  I find the term and the mindset for its need insulting.

And, yet, here we are: having pretentious horror films over two hours being foisted on us poor plebeians because we are so clearly in desperate need of edjumacation and “Art” with a capital “A”.  Puh-lease! Good horror is like good sex: the filmmaker gets in, makes passionate love to us, and then leaves us breathless. These “elevated”, over-long films are just so much masturbation, leaving us cold on the couch and wondering what’s in the fridge.

Make horror sexy again.  Make it short and sweet.

And scare the crap out of us.


Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Change Is Good


Life is change.  Or adaptation. Or evolution.

Living things, by the very nature of their existence, must continually be in motion, on some level.  Physically, spiritually, emotionally.  We all are ever changing. It is a thing to embrace, for without it, we are nothing.  Certainly not alive.


My evolution as an artist has brought me to embrace something new.  Or new to me, I should say.  It’s not new.  And the idea is centuries old.


It’s Patreon—the web platform that allows artists to gather patrons to help them achieve their artistic goals.  Basically, anyone can participate, exchanging a monthly pledge for creative content from an artist they want to support.  

 
It’s that simple.

 
That beautiful.
 

And you can be a part of that beautiful thing with me.  My Patreon page is: https://www.patreon.com/gregoryblair



Check it out.  I explain more.

And I’m funny.


But you knew that! 


So, let’s work together.  For your support, I will provide exclusive content no one can get anywhere else.  Videos I make only for my beloved patrons.

You know you don’t want to miss that!


So, what are you waiting for?


Join me today at: https://www.patreon.com/gregoryblair


Change is good!



Sunday, September 29, 2019

And The Winner Is…Us



Awards.  They’re ubiquitous.  Especially in the entertainment industry.  And while it may all seem at times like a clown car of self-congratulatory “I’m the King of the World” nonsense, I think there’s a greater purpose…a better way to understand why these things matter.

Simply put, film and television are collaborative arts.  An actor’s performance is the result of more than just their own efforts: it’s shaped by the direction, lighting, editing, the other actors and more.  So, too, are all the other disciplines interdependent, working together into a tapestry.  Thus, any award for one is always an award for many.  In that sense, every award is a shared win.

And sharing is really what the entertainment world is all about:  sharing stories, sharing experiences, sharing slices of humanity to inform, reform or affirm who we are, where we’ve been and where we may one day go. 

I think it appropriate, then, to honor our best achievements in that goal; awards, titles and ceremonies help us to do that.  And, just as the honorees share their awards with their collaborators, so do we all share in the experiences that entertainment provides.  Thus, we are all winners and we all share in the glorious spoils.

And isn’t that a wonderful thing to share, after all?

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.