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.

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