Sunday, December 23, 2012

If You Dare...

We were sitting at lunch on the set of “DeadlyRevisions” when Bill* turns to me and says “Why don’t you write a film about a werewolf, a vampire and…?”

That’s how it began.  It was a provocative, almost crazy idea:  a film that would have a very limited audience, destined to the art house and movies-on-demand world; only big stars and an even bigger marketing budget could propel it into the mainstream.   But it excited us both: a hybrid of normally mutually exclusive genres, a heretofore unheard of relationship, and an opportunity to muse on the very definition of what it is to be a monster.   But who would be as excited about it as we were?  Possibly no one.  So it was madness to consider taking it any further than that conversation at lunch. 

But it stuck with me.  It needled me.  Eventually, I came to realize it literally haunted me:  this ghost of an idea, insisting to be given life in the material world, would not let me go until I succumbed to its cry.  And, I admit, I was excited by the folly and challenge of the thing.  Then, at a later meeting, Bill and I confirmed our passion for the idea, crazy as it was.  So the gauntlet was thrown down.  It was a dare…and I was going to meet it, head on.  Damn screenplay regularity!  Damn mass marketability!  Damn budget implausibility!  I was going to write the beast!! 

So I slugged my scotch and set to work.  And to my surprise and delight, it was unbelievably easy!  

At first.   

Then the challenges began to press their smug-ugly faces in—all around me.  

 So…ya got a couple of nice monsters.  Now what?”    


But I forged ahead, letting the characters I had created do the talking; they informed me what stories would be told, what struggles would emerge, what twists would force them to learn, to act, to change.  And so, slowly, the three of us found a narrative that moved us through the ghoulish parade of obstacles until, at last, I had the first draft of a complete script.  I gave it to Mr. Oberst to see if it in any way met what he had imagined at that lunch what seemed now long ago.  He was thrilled with it and begged me to polish it and have it ready to go by early next year to shoot in summer. 

So it seems I’ve been given another dare.  And it should be clear by now that, if you dare me… 

*Bill Oberst, Jr. -  2012 Shockfest Best Actor

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Photo Synthesis

          As an actor, images of you and your work are instrumental to your success.  But getting desired images is the trick.  After all: any ape with a cell phone can snap your photo and post it on the internet, but chances are the lighting, focus, angle or expression (or all of the above) will make the photo prove one you wish hadn’t happened.  But no harm intended, so you laugh those off.  Then there are the paparazzi who are hoping to make money off the most unflattering photo of you they can get; harm fully intended. But you still have to try to laugh them off, because litigation can kill your image as much as a bad photo.  So you do your best to get talented photographers who can tame the alchemy of color, light and attitude and take a few good pictures that fare you well.

          My recent find is the eclectic artisan Joshua Patterson of Josh Patterson Photography.  I say eclectic because he also writes, sings and occasionally stage manages.   But lately he has been honing his photography skills and the results are fantastic.  So we talked about what I wanted to do:  a varied photo shoot that would show off disparate elements of my acting range.  As a character actor, I’m cast as evil bastards, hapless nerds and everything in-between and I wanted some fresh shots of all of the above.  Josh was excited to get his lens on me and see what we could create.

          In this case the maxim “a picture is worth a thousand words” seems apropos.  So without further ado, here are a few faces of me, brought to you via the eyes of my new snap man.  I think you’ll agree:  Mr. Patterson has a great future ahead of him.
Gregory Blair
Gregory Blair
Gregory Blair


Gregory Blair


 Gregory Blair
Gregory Blair
Gregory Blair

Gregory Blair


For more photos and info visit Josh Patterson Photography 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Have a Super Superlative Day!


          Hyperbole has long been a part of human nature; our need to impress others with the import of something indelibly permeates our narratives:  the size of the fish that got away, the extent of the damage the other guy sustained from the fight we were in, and so on. But things have gotten out of hand. Way out of hand. Totally.

          We live in a world of casual, ubiquitous superlatives and their pernicious relatives.  You can’t just have a good time; it has to be the best time. You can’t just say a movie was good; it has to be epic. You can’t even just have good sex; it’s has to be amazing sex. Even Taylor Swift is never, ever, ever, ever getting back together again. Like ever. 

          When did our need to embellish get out of control? Is it a result of external forces like advertising and marketing bombarding our lives with constant competition and one-upmanship? Or is it a natural evolution of a need to infuse value and meaning into our lives to stave off the perception that--as the population grows and our Facebook posts and tweets are buried in more of the same—our worth somehow diminishes in our own eyes and the eyes of those around us? 

          In either case, I say stop the madness! Making everything the ultimate experience only diminishes the experience in the end:  if everything is “the best”, then nothing is, because “the best” no longer exists; it’s a self-defeating dynamic. So all the embellishments and exaggerations become white noise and no one believes them. In fact, that has already begun: we already know you didn’t have “the best time ever”. So why say it? 

          Let a nice time be had by all and let it be appreciated as such, without the need to turn it into the event of the decade. Let a movie be a pleasant way to pass the time, without making it into a life-changing experience. And while I wish everyone be blessed with amazing sex at least once, be happy to just get some.  

          We can take back control of our language and our sense of self-worth by focusing on our own truth, our own appreciation of that truth and the honest expression of the experiences of our lives. If we can manage that, I think it would be, in a word, superlative.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Crew in the Spotlight

          I’ve already written about the dynamic lead crew members of “Deadly Revisions”.   But the entire crew was, in fact, made up of diligent, talented individuals and in this blog, I’d like to take the time to highlight a few.

          First, the demands of the shots I wanted meant that Kate Sobol, our Director of Photography, would need four hands.  Since Kate was a woman of the standard two-handed variety, an Assistant Camera role was non-negotiable from the getgo.  Our answer manifested in Casey (Case) Norton. Born in Indianapolis and adopted by his parents, Case was always interested in film and television.  But a film shot when he was just a sophomore in high school won an award and that cemented his future.  He went on to graduate from Cal State Northridge in TV Production and has worked on over 50 projects.  On “Deadly Revisions”, Case was continually challenged with difficult focus pulls, camera angles and other demands which he bore with professionalism and panache.  The results speak for themselves.

          Another indispensable crew member was Madelyn Kime, our Set Dresser.  Madelyn provided the ever-present eye and hands for the Art Department, keeping a keen watch for continuity issues, in addition to solving on-the-spot problems with efficiency and a positive attitude. With a B.A. in Cinema/Photography and a minor in Photojournalism from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Madelyn has been Set Dresser, Studio Manager and is also a talented photographer. In fact, some of her photographs were used as set dressing in “Deadly Revisions”.

          Our grip crew was also extremely hard working, but Brad Carr went above and beyond.  When he wasn’t laying cables, setting lights and arranging flags and C-stands, Brad was always there to help with a dolly shot, an SFX rig—even to lend his car for scenes.  Brad attended the Academy of Art University receiving special recognition for contribution to the University for running the Universal Film Club and getting a BFA in directing motion pictures.  He has worked on around 200 film, video, television and theater productions in a large range of positions.  The film shoot of “Deadly Revisions” was made vastly easier by his experience, attitude and creativity.

          Finally, writer/photographer/singer Josh Patterson added his talents to the set in more than one way.  He was originally brought on as the Still Photographer—a role he performed admirably; many of the photos released are his work.  But in addition to his performance behind the camera, he also stepped in front of the lens, taking on the role of actor and helping to bring a few creepy characters to life.  While you may not recognize him, he’s the man behind the masks of both the Noose Man and the Hatchet Man for most of the film.   So he now adds “actor” to his list of accomplishments and I add him here as one of “Deadly Revisions” memorable crew members.

For more on each of these folks, check out these links:

Case Norton:
Madelyn Kime: 
Brad Carr:
Joshua Patterson:

For more on “Deadly Revisions”:

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Blowers and Mowers and Planes! Oh, My!

The first week shooting on any film set has its own challenges: it's often the first time the entire crew is actually working as a team and getting individuals to synch and realize their best efficiency level takes some time. Fortunately, my co-producer and I had assembled a gang of seasoned professionals that came together to work as if they'd been a team all along. 

The real challenge came from shooting on location. On a sound stage, you can control everything: the light, the acoustics, the climate; everything can be exactly as you need it at every moment. But in the real world, you are at the mercy of the sun which is always on the move and messing with your light and--in our case--turning our cozy cabin into a pressure cooker. 

But that was all bearable: we had air conditioning to help keep the heat from being unhealthy and we had a lighting crew that could bathe our room in whatever light needed at any time of the day. The factor that foiled us throughout the shoot came in the form of man-made noise machines. 

Day one of the shoot happened to take place on gardener day. One by one, each neighboring house was visited by various men bearing lawn-mowers, leaf-blowers and other loud machines that would inescapably be heard in our cabin, ruining take after take. It sounded like a special Doo-Dah Parade of gardeners--all afternoon.  I found myself wishing our executioner's axe was not a prop.

Day two only had one straggling gardener. But it became a heavy plane day. Planes also ruin the sound of a take, because--like mowers and blowers--they never sound the same throughout the scene: they're in one shot, but not the following; then they're back for a shot--only to disappear again. Planes plagued us throughout day two. But we had heard nothing, yet.  

Day three, a big rig accident on the neighboring freeway exchange prompted hours and hours of low-flying, hovering helicopters. Our remote cabin in the woods now sounded like a tent in a war zone. What could we do? We kept filming. We only had the location so many days and the other locations were booked on the days following. So we forged ahead. The show must go on--even in Armageddon.

Sound issues aside, the week was a terrific success:  we got some beautiful footage with gripping performances; I've no doubt we've got the makings of an excellent movie.  I'll leave you with this photo of me taken near the end of day three. It kind of looks like I'm looking ahead.

Perhaps I am.

Gregory Blair
as seen through the lens of Joshua Patterson

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Kickin’ It up A Notch


          Nothing in filmmaking is sacred:  not the script, not the cast or crew, not the final cut…nothing.  Everything is up for negotiation, tweaking and tossing every step of the way.   Our psychological thriller has had several moments re-written for various reasons and even the title has been revised. 

          The best case scenario for every alteration is that the result is for the best; that the film is better for the change.  Fortunately, that is exactly the case for my psychological thriller now known as DEADLY REVISIONS.

          While we all liked the old title, which was the title of the screenplay, events transpired that made me come up with the new title which is more intriguing and more specific to the story.  As leading man Bill Oberst, Jr. puts it: “The new title really has more intrinsic meaning: I’m a writer and I was in the process of making script revisions when I had my accident, and now it seems like it’s my life that’s getting revised.  I have these horrific visions that keep changing…and I don’t know which versions are reality.  If any of them are.”  If a horror film writer may be re-writing his own history in his shattered mind, and murder may be in the mix, then no title could be more apropos than DEADLY REVISIONS.

          And a nice little twist on top of everything is that the title itself is a revision.  How perfect is that?    

          We also decided to up the fan involvement by doing another round of crowd-funding—this time via Kickstarter.   We had a lot of people wanting to be a part of the film, but didn’t have any more weighty roles to offer as far as cast or crew were concerned.  So we’ve posted other ways people can get involved on the Kickstarter site in exchange for helping to fund the film.

          For a few bucks, fans can find their name associated with the film on the official website or on IMDB & in the movie credits; they can actually be a producer, get a piece of movie swag—even get invited to the premiere!   It’s a fun and guaranteed way to be a part of the film.   And there aren’t a lot of guarantees in this world, so it’s an exceptional opportunity.

          Just click on the link below and pick what reward you’d like and them donate accordingly.  But don’t wait:  the DEADLY REVISIONS Kickstarter campaign only runs through August 22nd.   

          So join us and be an accessory.  

          It’s an opportunity to die for.

Go here now:


The original teaser trailer:


"Like" the DEADLY REVISIONS Facebook page:

Follow the DEADLY REVISIONS Twitter:!/DeadlyRevisions

Thursday, June 14, 2012

It’s Never Too Soon For A Festival!

           Normally, if theatrical distribution is not locked, a film is completed and then makes the festival rounds, hoping to gain a distribution deal, an audience and buzz. 

          With DEADLY REVISIONS, we threw “normal” out the window.

           The New MediaFilm Festival, is a two-day film festival for all kinds of media:  feature films, shorts, web series, documentaries, trailers and-- in association with—a new category called “sniplers” which are 30-second snippets of a trailer.  Culture Rehab calls the film festival the “Sundance for the Facebook crowd”.   

          Months before the actual film would go into production, we had created a one minute trailer for DEADLY REVISIONS:  a short introductory piece to entice viewers, build a following and hopefully gain us a few investors, corporate sponsors and/or angels.  With a little effort and a lot of alacrity, we trimmed the trailer to the required 30-second length and entered it in to Filmbreak’s “snipler” contest--the winners of which would have the honor of being part of the New Media Film Festival and be premiered on the big screen.

          To our delight, we were chosen as one of only three winners.  So, while normally being part of a film festival occurs after a film is completed, we were now a part of a festival before ever going into production!   Producer Roxy Shih and I went to the festival at the Landmark Theatre to see our trailer on the big screen and were delighted to see that, thanks in great part to our Director of Photography Kate Sobol, it looked fantastic.  We also took part in a short Q&A session immediately following alongside Darren Marble and Taylor McPartland of

          So we may not have begun principal shooting yet, but we’ve already been an official selection in our first film festival.  Nice way to get the ball rolling.

The original teaser trailer:

For more info or to donate to DEADLY REVISIONS the movie:

For more info on the New Media Film Festival:

      For more info on Filmbreak:

Monday, May 28, 2012

Who Do I Shoot First?

          Who…and where and with what is more like it. Professor Plum?  In the Library?  With a Steadycam?  Creating a shot list and schedule for filming is crucial to a smooth and successful shoot: the shot list and schedule details who needs to be on set, when, and what they’ll be doing.  In short, it’s the agenda for your production. Unfortunately, it’s also like trying to piece together a jigsaw puzzle with too many sides.

          On one side, you have your locations and the dates you have to use them.  Usually, that’s in concrete.  However, within each day, there is the question of what rooms and in what order to shoot them.  You want to shoot all the lobby scenes together, so you don’t have to waste time moving the crew and equipment, but…

          …you also don’t want to schedule anyone—including actors—if you’re not going to make good use of them.  So if there are five  lobby scenes, but different actors are in each scene, what are you going to sacrifice?   You’re paying a day rate for everyone to be there whether they are involved in one scene or ten; the obvious goal as a producer is to maximize the work you get for your dollar.   So do you shoot the lobby scenes and pay actors to be on set for only one scene, or do you arrange the day around the actors and have them working the whole time, but moving the crew and equipment?  You end up going with what’s cheaper: your cast or your crew and equipment.  On smaller films, the camera and crew generally cost more, so you’ll often have actors hanging round all day.  They’re idle and bored and...and you’re paying them a full day’s rate for less than a full day on camera.

          And then there’s the question of off-camera time.  Does your actress have a shower or swimming pool scene?  She’ll need time to blow dry her hair and get prepped for the next scene.  Does your actor need three days of beard growth for a scene?  When is he going to get the days off to do that without ruining other scenes?  And the list can go on.

          So what do you do?  You put all the variables into each decision for each shot and then for each transition between shots and then for each day as it butts up against the next.  And, if you’ve done your job right, you should have a fairly smooth production.

          Or you’ll have a fairly memorable lesson learned.

 If you’re reading this and you’d like to help out with my current project, click on the link below and donate securely through PayPal. You can be a producer and help make “Deadly Revisions”--a new psychological thriller/horror film starring Bill Oberst Jr.  Check out the teaser trailer. You could even be in the movie!  I promise to have a decent shot list! 

The original teaser trailer:

For more info or to donate to DEADLY REVISIONS the movie:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Location, Location, Location

No, we’re not talking about the three most important things in real estate: we’re talking about finding the perfect place to film a movie; specifically, the psychological thriller/horror film DEADLY REVISIONS.

In DEADLY REVISIONS, horror movie writer Grafton Torn (played by genre favorite Bill Oberst, Jr.) struggles with amnesia, having woken from a fall that landed him in a coma. To rest and recuperate, he takes refuge in the vacation home of his best friend: a remote cabin in the woods.

            Sound familiar? It should: the cabin in the woods is a staple of the horror genre and, since DEADLY REVISIONS is a valentine to the genre, fans will enjoy homages throughout the film—including the setting itself.

The trick for the DEADLY REVISIONS team was to find a location that would suit the narrative and budgetary needs of the film. It had to be a certain size, have a certain look, have the right surrounding atmosphere. Furthermore, since DEADLY REVISIONS was a low budget independent production, the location had to be affordable: not only did the daily rate need to fit the bill, but so did the proximity because housing cast and crew at a distant site was not an option.

A handful of possibilities came across the radar and producer Roxy Shih, Director of Photography Kate Sobol and I all took part in visiting them to review each one for the aforementioned requirements as well as ambient noise issues, shooting restrictions and other factors. So we went from location to location to location. Each one was a fantastic place to shoot, but each one also had drawbacks. In the end, only one location would work for our film. It was a bonus to learn the cabin at our chosen location was the same cabin that had been used for “Friday the 13th, Part 4”; so we’d get another nice wink for devotees to enjoy.

So DEADLY REVISIONS had its cabin in the woods. All we had to do now was kill people there.

We hope you’ll visit. It’s to die for.

To see more, visit:

Sunday, April 15, 2012

You, Me and the Angry Octopus

Helming any new venture is like taking on an angry octopus.  Helming an independent feature is like taking on an angry octopus armed with sharp objects, a vendetta and a serious meth habit.  You do it because you have to.  You do it for love. 

You also hope you survive.

Funding is forever the greatest stronghold trying to strangle the process from the start. Getting the money to interest actors and crew, getting the money to pay for equipment and locations, getting the money to feed and transport all of the above, getting the money to market the film once it’s finished; it’s a never-ending choke-hold that you either learn to lessen and breathe through or else succumb to death by financial asphyxiation. Projects helmed by Sony or Disney and starring the likes of Zac Efron or Angelina Jolie have endless options for attracting capital; the small independent producer has far less. It takes guts, ingenuity and a little bit of crazy to succeed.  And a lot of friends.

I’m lucky.  I have some good friends.  Friends who believe in me and are willing to take a journey with me to tackle a giant, angry, weapon-wielding octopus on meth.  This octopus goes by the name “Deadly Revisions”.

If you’re new to my blog, you’ll not know “Deadly Revisions” is a blend of horror and psychological thriller about a writer with amnesia who has to piece back the lost memories of what landed him in the hospital.  Recuperating in a remote cabin, he has flashes of horrific visions including murder.  But they just can’t be real.  Or can they?  (The teaser trailer is below, to give you a taste.)

I wrote the screenplay to appeal to the growing market for low budget projects:  ones that take place mostly in one location and with a small cast and very few special effects.  But, having finished it, a voice inside made me wonder why I shouldn’t take advantage of the result and make the movie myself.  I tossed the idea to a few friends in the business and they were all hooked.  Suddenly I had interested a few crew and cast without even any funding to speak of.  So we decided to move forward.

Thus began the fundraising.  I got our first corporate sponsor and we set up our first crowd-funding campaign.  We began to get money from friends from Facebook, followers from Twitter and all sorts of outlets; not enough to make the film, but it was a solid start.  We continue to fundraise; creating new crowd-funding campaigns, seeking out more corporate sponsors and so on.  Every little bit helps in the independent film world.  It helps get movies made and get them distributed in a way so that you can see them—one way or the other.

If you’re reading this and you’d like to help out, we’d love you to no end.  You can click on the link below and donate securely through the PayPal site.  You can be a producer and help make “Deadly Revisions”. 

So…you wanna help tame a really nasty octopus?
Go here:

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Shoot to Kill

          Knife.  Hatchet.  Syringe.  Blood.  And…
          There’s no mistaking we’re on the set of a horror film.   The props are all either dangerous looking or just plain creepy.   But they’re all instrumental for the teaser trailer for DEADLY REVISIONS which we are shooting.

          Camera and lighting equipment sprawls everywhere; the house we’re shooting in has been transformed from a tranquil residence to a surreal cross between an army camp and a tent city.  Thick electrical cords span the floors like black pythons biding their time. C-stands loom like anorexic, cybertronic aliens waiting to boot up and kill us all.

          But Kate Sobol, our Director of Photography, and the crew skillfully manipulate the aliens into submission:  moving, bending and using them to create each of our shots for the day.  With a discerning artistic eye, Kate takes lights, screens and rods and creates emotion, mood and magic.  It’s a pleasure to watch and work with.

          Actress Dawna Lee Heising proves her commitment and chutzpah right at the start as she is dragged across the floor in a most unglamorous fashion for her first shot.  She manages to hold the awkward hand position I’m asking her maintain as she is dragged repeatedly across the room, alongside the dolly.  As a result, the shot looks beautiful.  Then, though nervous about how to handle a syringe, Dawna patiently and precisely follows direction through repeated takes with the needle.  And no one gets stabbed.

          The day goes along in similar fashion, shot after shot.  We welcome and take advantage of serendipitous discoveries and still manage to get through everything on our shot list and end on time.  It’s an exemplary day on an indie set. 

          And my dog approved.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Fun and Scary Stuff

          In my last blog, I talked about some of the amazing people I met in 2011. This year, I am fortunate enough to be working with them…together…all in one film!

          It all started with Bill…

          Bill Oberst Jr. and I have a lot in common: an awkward teenage history, a somewhat vertically challenged existence, and a passion for film and acting. We met through a mutual acting friend and connected right away. We began hanging out from time to time to talk shop, discussing movies we’d been in, experiences we found rewarding and those we found, well, educational. Eventually, we both came up with the idea of orchestrating a project on which we could work together. After tossing around and even pursuing a few ideas, we decided on DEADLY REVISIONS—a twisted screenplay I had written just a few years ago.

          DEADLY REVISIONS seemed a perfect fit for Bill in more ways than one. First, it was a juicy horror film and he was becoming something akin to a horror icon. Second, it allowed him to play against type, since he would be the one tormented instead of the one doing the tormenting. Third, it gave him a powerful leading role the likes of which he had yet to have: not only was his character on screen virtually the entire movie, but Bill would be able to really show his well-honed acting prowess as his character runs the gamut of emotions from wounded sorrow to raging fury.

          Along came Roxy…

          Roxy Shih and I met at an interview and clicked right away. She’s got an intoxicating personality, so I can’t claim anything other than being under the influence. I told her about DEADLY REVISIONS and Bill’s interest and she asked to read the script. She got back to me, bursting with excitement: she loved the script and wanted to know how she could be involved. This was a fair question because she is a director, producer, videographer, editor and probably other things I’m forgetting. We talked and decided she would be most valuable as a co-producer. Within days, she had all sorts of actionable ideas in motion, including a meeting with a director of photography. And she hasn’t stopped since.

          And then there’s Dawna…

          Dawna Lee Heising, the beautiful actress and news correspondent for Eye on Entertainment and, won my heart when I first met her at a speaking engagement in Hollywood. Genteel, warm and thoroughly dedicated to the business, Dawna is a joy to be around and so, when events transpired that we might have her play a role in DEADLY REVISIONS, there was mutual happiness all around.

          So I consider myself a very lucky man. I have been blessed not only with having these people come into my life, but to have them join me in my mad adventure as the director of DEADLY REVISIONS. I hope I do them all proud.

          If you’d like to help make DEADLY REVISIONS, please see our donation option at