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:

“Bone Dry” (Adventure):
“Lake Fear” (Horror):
“Bethany” (Horror):
“The Killer 4 Pack, II” (Horror):


“A Whisper from Within” by Theresa Gattuso O'Connor:

“Nate and Kelley" by Micheal R. Barnard:
“The Preternatural” by Daryl Hajek:
David Warren author page on Amazon:

Essential Oils & More
Garret Miller:

And, if none of that grabs you, maybe I have something that will work:

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.


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.


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"!


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!


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. 


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

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Just for Laughs

Diversity is the spice of life.  And I do like to spice things up!

My film DEADLY REVISIONS is a moody, brooding, slow-burn psychological thriller full of dark shadows and creepy night terrors.  For my next film, I wanted to make the polar opposite: something kinetic, wild and crazy.  Thus, I came up with a fast-paced, wacky romp involving a friendly backyard gathering that goes hilariously awry when an unexpected guest arrives.  With a pickaxe.  And an attitude.
Welcome to
GARDEN PARTY MASSSACRE--a comedic brew of murder, mirth and mayhem where some people are the death of the party! 

You learn a lot on each film.  DEADLY REVISIONS taught me many lessons, which helped make GARDEN PARTY MASSACRE an easier, more efficient shoot.  Even so, obstacles popped up to hamper or stall the proceedings.  But creativity, perseverance and a good sense of humor won the day and the film finally got completed.  I may be grayer and balder, but the film has enough color and life to speak for me.

Thus, we begin the next phase:  entering film festivals, ramping up marketing efforts, fielding distribution offers, procuring reviews, etc.   We’ve already received our first review: a bona fide rave from Michael Haberfelner (Search My Trash Filmsite) who declared the film “hilarious!” And the buzz is building nicely.  But that aforementioned sense of humor proves as useful as ever in today’s world of internet trolls, movie pirates and other assorted monsters of humanity.   Useful...and appropriate, since this film is all about making people laugh and feel good.  I think we need that, now more than ever.

So, if having a few laughs sounds good to you, you can help get the film shown at a film festival near you.  Just go to the film’s website at and make a donation in a film festival's name.  The funds earmarked for a festival will go directly to the festival's entrance and related fees.  I can't guarantee we'll get accepted to every festival, but we'll do our best!

If you’ve missed our fun trailer, you can watch it here:

Other places to keep up with screenings and more about my films are below.  And, as any indie filmmaker will tell you, sharing is a gift that costs nothing, but means the world, so please share these links everywhere.  Because, chances are, there are a lot of people out there who could use a good laugh.

The official GARDEN PARTY MASSACRE film page: 



For more information on DEADLY REVISIONS:

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

I Juggle Werewolves, Sci-Fi Heroes and Killer Children

          Juggling is pandemic in the film word: whether it’s survival jobs and auditions, casting and crewing up or scheduling shoots and appearances--there are always numerous balls in the air that need attention at any one time.  Since the objects in the air are always changing, the more experienced and practiced you are, the better you’ll fare unscathed and without dropping a ball.  Or a bowling pin.  Or a flaming chainsaw.

          My latest juggling act was the best kind you could want:  I had several films that wanted me to shoot in the same month.  But, since two of the roles were exceptionally meaty, so I would need to be on set for a good amount of time in both cases.  Hence, it took a lot of communication to keep all parties aware of available shoot dates as they emerged.  It was stressful, partly just because of the situation, but also because I wanted to take on the stress and keep it off the production folks.  But it was also welcome stress, because the end goal—if achieved, meant I could play all three roles and make all three directors happy.

          The first role was the easiest to work out, as it was the smallest.   My scenes could all be shot in a single day.  The film, on the other hand, is massive:  writer/director BlakeFitzpatrick’s ABADDON is an epic sci-fi/action yarn about a bounty hunter and her convict lover freeing a society from the reign of a repressive theocratic police state.   And it’s a nice cameo: the ubiquitous Charles Chudabala and I play prisoners who are saved by the heroes and then return the favor by aiding them in the revolution.

          The next role in the mix is as the harried husband of Felissa Rose (of Sleepaway Camp) in Michael S. Rodriguez’ new horror flick THE DEADLY KIND.  It’s a crazy twist on the cabin-in-the-woods genre: instead of teenagers, the leads are all adult…instead of cookie-cutter characters, the people are all multi-layered individuals…and instead of a single killer, there’s a slew of psychotic children.   I play Marty—a whiny, but sympathetic man whose bristly relationship with his harpy wife becomes the least of his worries.  And he adds a touch of comic relief to the proceedings as well.  

          Lastly, I’ll be playing a suspiciously odd caretaker named Harold in Adam Steigert’s new monster movie FANG.  The film follows two punks who, after a robbery turned murder, hide in a distant relative's house only to find more horror, carnage…and ferociously inhuman creatures.  The fun thing about Harold is you never know what he’s about.  He’s creepy one minute, then conciliatory and solicitous the next.  You never know what side he’s on, so you can never be sure about him.  And considering the horrors that emerge all around, that unknown element only adds to the tension.  The film also stars sexy scream queen Melantha Blackthorne, which makes the project even more exciting.

          All of these films wanted me to shoot in June, so juggling began.  Though it was a bit of a nail-biter in the beginning, things worked out when one shoot moved to July, solving everything.  So I’m happy to report I’ll be shooting all three films—and survived the proverbial circus act without a single chainsaw scratch!  

          Barnum would be proud!

For more on ABADDON, click here.

For more on FANG, click here.

For more on THE DEADLY KIND, follow me here.

Monday, February 27, 2017

When Oscar makes History

          This year’s Academy Awards was one for the books, but for a more important reason than I think most people realize.

           Some things were “business as usual”: the nominees were all arguably worthy, there was a front-runner with the most nominations, and there were women in horrible, over-priced gowns.  Though everyone had their favorites, I felt no matter who took the statue home, most of us would agree that merit had something to do with it.  All my favorites didn’t win, but some did.  Typical for a night at the Oscars.

          But then the “Best Picture” snafu.  Never before and, I’ll wager, never again.  There have been explanations for how the wrong card got in their hands, but these don’t change the events that transpired, which will certainly go down in history.  Warren Beatty knew something was wrong with the envelope in his hand; something was off.  But his partner Fay Dunaway paid no attention to anything but the film title written and announced “La La Land”.  So the “La La Land” crew came up and began to give acceptance speeches.

          But things just kept getting odder.  Behind the speakers, strange chatter began.  Finally, “La La Land” producer Jordan Horowitz became clear about what had happened and—with unfathomable calm and conviction—announced an error had happened and that “Moonlight” was the Best Picture winner.   The crowd was stunned.  But Horowitz claimed it wasn't a joke and showed the correct envelope insert.  Then the crowd jumped to its feet and the stunned “Moonlight” crew came on stage as the “La La Land” folks graciously, respectfully stepped down.  And just when things couldn’t possibly get more interesting, we were blessed with what happened next.

          “Moonlight” co-writer Tarell Alvin McCraney and director Barry Jenkins were understandably in a daze, but managed to concisely and eloquently say why the film and its recognition are so important right now; its tale of a gay, black protagonist proves an example (and, I'd argue, call) for representation, inclusion and fellowship of all people.   McCraney said; “…this goes out to all those black and brown boys and girls and non-gender conforming who don’t see themselves, we are trying to show you…” and Jenkins went further to clarify the timeliness in light of the current administration in Washington: “…for all you people out there who feel there is no mirror for you, that you feel your life is not reflected, the Academy has your back, the ACLU has your back, we have your back, and for the next four years we will not leave you alone, we will not forget you.”

          So while the envelope snafu will be what the common throng will talk about and remember, the more worthy thing to take away from the evening is that courageous art which aims to represent, express, unite and/or move people is a vital and powerful force in broadening our understanding, our compassion and our humanity.  This is what great movies can be about.  This is the legacy of “Moonlight”.  This is the greatest laurel of all.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Movies of 2016

2016 is gone, but many of the films are still out or ready to be enjoyed on demand. Here are my thoughts on some of the bigger, commercial ones.

Note: as of this writing I have yet to see "Fences" or "Lion", both of which are supposed to be wonderful.

Arrival - 5 stars
Nutshell: A thinking man’s sci-fi film of alien communication leading to manifold perspective changes.  
With an opening that rivals “Up” in its unexpected, concise, and utterly heart-grabbing setup, scribe Eric Heisserer’s “The Arrival” proves that original, adroit storytelling is king.  What follows is a woman’s discovery of aliens, communication, and a new way of seeing the world.  Amy Adams is breathtaking as the woman whose world is turned inside out and it is through Heisserer’s words and director Denis Villeneuve’s visuals that our world—and that of the film itself—is turned inside out as the pain, beauty and mystery of life become clear in the film’s final reel…as utterly unexpected as the opening. 


Jackie - 4 stars
Nutshell:  Bold performances and direction make a painful tale soar.  

The days surrounding Jackie Kennedy having her husband’s head blown apart in her lap are made immediate and harrowing by Pablo Larraín’s masterful direction and Natalie Portman’s ambitious portrayal. Claustrophobic camerawork—normally abhorrent—is not only appropriate, it’s uncomfortably effective, making us see things as Jackie does:  from a state of shock, nightmarish, everyone in our faces.   The white house tour and interview framing devices are utterly unnecessary but the latter provides a nice Billy Crudup performance. The film is not for everyone: many will be put off by the artistic choices made, but I salute them.  Sometimes film needs to be uncomfortable: we should never be comfortable with murder, with loved ones ripped from us, with lives torn asunder.  If nothing else, “Jackie” reminds us of that.

Other People - 5 stars
Nutshell:  Funny and moving tale of a writer’s return home to help his ailing mother.

Rarely is a movie about a death so funny.  But it’s honest, wonderfully offbeat humor, provided by writer/director Chris Kelly and given sincere life by a top-notch cast, headed by a feisty Molly Shannon and a sweet Jesse Plemons.  Plemons’ character has lost his latest career chance, his relationship with his lover and now must deal with losing his mother.  It’s enough to make anyone wonder about life; Kelly and Plemons let us share all the emotions and questions without obvious, manipulative tearjerker devices.   You’ll still likely tear up, but you’ll laugh far more.  One could hope for nothing more from life…or a movie.

Rogue One - 3 stars
Nutshell:  Stealing plans of the Death Star takes too long, but provides fun along the way.

A highly uneven film experience from the start, which eschews (and seems to snub) the traditional scrolling prologue; no matter the reason, it disappoints right at the top.  The lead characters are rather one note, one flaw yawns, but some of the supporting characters shine bright—especially K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk) and Chirrut Îmwe played by Donnie Yen, whose overdue appearance finally brings some life into the film.  (Though we could have been spared the awful, creepy CGI Peter Cushing.  Just yuck.) The last reel provides a spectacular and exciting (if overlong) battle and so everyone leaves generally satisfied.   Better than Episode One, nowhere near Episode Four.

Hidden Figures - 5 stars
Nutshell:  Thoroughly winning tale of three history-making black NASA women.  

Fascinating and frothy tale of three African American women in NASA who each provided skills to help launch the first successful space missions.   The visual details are spot on and the acting is delicious perfection across the board, but the real treat is writer /director Theodore Melfi’s hand who, with co-writer Allison Schroeder has fashioned a film that tells all three women’s stories in a totally engaging way, offering a sincere reminder of the ugliness (and absurdity) of segregation and the importance of math and science--all with hefty doses of humor and heart.  It’s what great movies were meant to be.

LALALand - 3 stars
Nutshell: A musical of eye-popping panache trapped in a tepid tale.  

There’s no denying the movie magic that writer/director Damien Chazelle’s LALALand embraces and offers up in abundance.  But it’s all flash with little substance: bold and visually stunning cinematic elements consistently dazzle the eye but only sporadically capture the heart.  The cinematography, art direction and lighting all create endless delights, but the score is mostly forgettable and the story is stale.  Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling shine bright, though--the most when the camera is doing the least…and when allowed to do more than the breathy whisper-singing that proves tiresomely tame juxtaposed to the loud visuals.   That tameness makes the film not unlike an L.A. summer day: bright, glorious sunshine--but often with a dull layer of haze.

Moonlight - 5 stars
Nutshell:  Utterly original trilogy of one man at three stages of his troubled life.  

Writer/Director Barry Jenkins scores a win with this beautifully acted tale of a boy becoming a man amidst less than perfect circumstances.   Ironies abound:  a drug dealing stranger provides a better sense of home than the boy’s birth mother; a first love becomes a forced bully; the biggest, muscle-bound man has a tiny broken child inside.  The damage of drugs echoes the damage of homophobia; the desire for a safe harbor becoming the thing we all have in common.  Nothing is preachy, nothing is prettied-up, nothing is pretentious: it’s just an unapologetic, open window into one man’s journey.


Deadpool  5 stars
An anti-superhero is born and turns to the snark side; stylish, funny shit ensues.  Ryan Reynolds is gold.  So is the writing and directing.  A giant middle finger to all those tiresome superhero movies.

Manchester By The Sea  - 2.5 stars
Superlative acting can’t save this torpid tale of man who's dead inside having to deal with his brother’s literal death and the care of his now fatherless teenage nephew. 

Kubo and the Two Strings - 5 stars
The best, most original animated film of the year.  Blows away all the cutesy, derivative stuff.