Wednesday, July 29, 2015

So, Dave, How Did the 48 Hour Film Shoot Go?

So the 48 Hour Film Festival was this weekend!

San Diego had 105 teams sign up for the event - blowing the previous record out of the water. In fact, it was said that San Diego was the third largest city in the world participating this year, if ranked by number of teams signed up.

I was on the same team I was on last year - Team Viva, spearheaded by Horacio Jones and Fabrice Murgia of Cinema Viva.

Things began for Team Viva on Friday night at the genre pull, where representatives of all of the teams showed up to pull their genre for the film they had to do, as well as get the common items that had to be in every film.

Photo: David Brubaker

It was in Point Loma (Liberty Station) not far from the airport. They had the Genre Plinko Board set up again this year, and the teams were arranged in groups of 13, and they dropped the puck to see what type of film they had to make...

 There I am, dropping the puck for our team... I couldn't decide if a better pun was "I plink, therefore I am" or "The puck drops here"...

We got Fantasy genre! We phoned it in to the writing team.

Initially, Horacio was hesitant. There's a rule that if you don't like your genre, you could trade it in for a Wild Card category, which is assigned to you. My thinking was that Fantasy was such a broad category, you really could do just about anything and it will fit. [If your film didn't fit squarely in your assigned category, your film is disqualified from the competition.] But Horacio decided to keep Fantasy, and the brainstorming began.

Of course, we had to wait until the other "requirements" were announced. Every film had to contain the following features:

- A character named Alan or Alice Downing
- A coach
- A flashlight
- A line of dialog that said "Well, sometimes that's all you need."

So we scooted back to Team Viva headquarters and joined the idea storm. After much debate, we decided to do a film focusing on Angels. I ended up getting story credit and shared credit as writer as well, since I sent the story outline to the writing team (they were a bit stuck) and powered out a draft of the script, which they modified into the shooting script. It was nice to feel like I contributed on that end of things!

A veteran angel is training a new angel recruit how to harvest the souls of the dying. It's a black comedy, in a way. The new angel (played by the illustrious Lisa Winans) was dressed in black, with black wings, and she had an attitude, whereas my character also wore a black suit and white wings...

It's a fun character, and was great fun to play. And, frankly, it has some language in it, which I think adds an interesting theological wrinkle to things... do we magically change when we die, or do we stay who we were when we died, and the transformation process continues on the other side? My character is unphased by my partner's language... should I be shocked? Should she not be allowed to talk like that and still be an angel? Are they just words? Will that habit be slowly worked out of her over the centuries or does it even matter?

Well, I found it interesting to contemplate anyway...

So we pulled a long day of shooting, at two different locations. I was able to get some actor friends of mine involved, including Ruslan, Leslee and Brenden... even Horacio got to have some screen time - even though it was as a dying man on the floor...

Horacio! We've come for your soul!

Here are a few more stills from the film...

The film will screen on August 13 downtown, with the rest of the films from our group. I can't post the film here, for obvious reasons... but after the competition is over and things settle down, maybe Horacio will put it up on YouTube, and I'll embed it here.

So we got the film edited and turned in on time, and Horacio and the team were all very pleased with the results. It came in well under the 7 minute mark (the maximum run time allowable), which is likely because we didn't have time to film a bridging scene that involved our characters riding a city bus, lol... would have been awesome, but the film works fine without it.

Here are a few more on-set shots...

Fabrice designed a movie poster for the film! Cool, eh?

So all in all, it was a great event, even though I did get one of my killer headaches midway through the shoot. I think it was from filming in the sun most of the day. I thought I drank enough water...

It will be fun to see how the film stacks up against the competition, not just within our screening group, but against all of the teams that turned films in (over 80, I believe).

Hopefully, I'll be able to return to Team Viva next year and we can do it again! Although Jeff said we might do an Etched Motion Team next year, so who knows...

I had some other nonsense to mention, but I'll call this post over.

Adios for now!

Dave the Actor-Type Individual

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A Bunch of Acting-Related Updates.... Plus More Bill Murray!

Hello everyone! And by "everyone", of course, I mean you... since you're the only one here! O_O


So I thought I'd pop in with a quick update on all things acting/writing related of late. There's a lot! Ready?

OK, so in the previous post, I mentioned I would be attending a local SFF convention here in San Diego called Westercon, where we would be doing a Q&A on our web series Origin: Beyond the Impact.

It was so much fun! I don't have any photos yet (though there were some taken) of the Q&A in the room we were in, but it was Jeff, Travis, Jessica, Marc and I seated at a table in front of about a dozen or so people who trickled in to hear about us... apparently there was a far more popular Q&A session for another project going on at the same time as ours in another room, which drew a bigger crowd...

But we were undeterred! We showed an extended BTI trailer, talked at length about the project, answered a few questions, and then showed the first 15 minutes or so of BTI. That took the hour. It was really well received by those that attended. They were quite impressed, and all were clamouring to see more.

They followed us down to the main hall, where all of the exhibitors were set up, and we sat at the autograph table for an hour, meeting people, answering questions, enjoying all of the costumed attendees and generally enjoying the scene... plus, yes, we did sign some autographs.

In fact, look...

Our first-ever cast autograph! Actually, it was my first autograph of any kind, ever. Same for Travis.

In fact...

... here's Trav and I, mere moments after signing that mini-poster. I said to Travis, "We're official now! Selfie time!"

I signed two total. lol....

Jeff, me, Travis, Jess, Tanya, Travis' wife Alex, and the Great and Powerful Marc Biagi. 

Jeff and I, posing by the board with our names on it...

We met a handful of very enthusiastic fans, made a few (hopefully beneficial) connections, and left smiling.

A few days later, TG Geeks (a science fiction podcast) posted an interview with cast member Marc Biagi (pictured above), about BTI and about his career on stage and doing voice work, etc. It's a great interview, if you want to give it a listen. Marc even talks about the day he and I auditioned for BTI together.

The same podcast just interviewed Jeff Patton a few days ago, and it will post in a week or two. They are quite enthusiastic in their support for BTI - it's so humbling and exciting. They even want to do a cast interview in September for the podcast.

Speaking of BTI, the script meetings we've been having have been AMAZING. O man o man o man... wait until you see what we bring next. We've mapped out the entirety of the web series, all the way to the conclusion. It will be a mammoth script, crammed full of scenes that already are competing with each other to become my favorite. Trust me, Jeff (and I, to a lesser extent) has come up with an incredible story. The current plan is to flesh out the outline over the next few weeks, then let Mike do the script break-down, have table reads, rehearse, line up locations, and film in September/October. Hopefully, we'll have the new episodes start rolling out by the holidays.

We'll be launching a Kickstarter for the project soon. Plus, other stuff I can't talk about yet.

As far as Comicon, we had representatives and cast members dressed in BTI T-shirts passing out materials. We've seen a HUGE spike in people watching the episodes as a result - and likely also because of Marc's interview at TG Geeks. We're gaining momentum!

That's a cool segue...

The other web series I'm writing for is a labor of love by my friend Rob Dey - the series is called Momentum. It is a surprisingly deep story, with cool characters, lots of action, and great potential. It's unclear to me at the moment whether the series will go into production or not, but for the time being, I'm treating it like a writing project. And I'm enjoying it greatly.

This is a photo of Bill Murray autographing a fan's head at a golf tournament, with permanent marker. As you can see, he's signing "Miley Cyrus"... lol. Bill Murray is my hero.

On another note, I recently acted in another Police Training Video. In the past, I've been a man caught in a car with an under-aged prostitute, and a jogger (though I've auditioned for others). In this case, I got to play a defense attorney in a courtroom. Here's why this was perhaps the coolest acting experience I've had to date...

We filmed in a real courtroom, and the prosecutor was a real one (not an actor). And the judge was another actual lawyer, playing a judge, but he knew his business. The bailiff and sheriff were real too. I got to wear a suit, sit at the defense attorney's table with my client, whisper to her, write notes, and routinely stand up and make objections as the prosecutor improvised a line of questioning...

It was SOO MUCH FUN. They went over a few standard objections for me to use at various points - and since were weren't recording audio, it didn't really matter if the objections made sense or not. We were getting video imagery only, and they were going to record narration to go over the video in editing. I wish I'd known that I was going to play the defense attorney before I arrived that day - they just told me when I got there that I would be defense attorney. I would have researched all the objections and been better prepared.

But, man, it was so cool to be in a real courtroom, before real people, and interact with them. "Objection, Your Honor, lack of foundation"... two improvised trials. I haven't had that much fun acting in a long time, that I can recall... I even got two of my objections sustained! You should have seen the prosecutor's face, lol.... I got the hang of it after a while. In fact, when it was all done, I had 4 people separately ask me if I used to really be a lawyer before getting into acting, lol... apparently, I make a good defense attorney! Unfortunately, I can't get any footage or still shots - property of the police department! In fact, I won't ever even get to see it...

OK, what else?

I'm taking a break from the LA acting classes for a month. Did I ever talk about the one-day workshop that Rob Adler did down here in San Diego? If I didn't, the short answer is, it was incredible. I loved it. There were a dozen of us there, and from what I can tell, we all enjoyed it tremendously.

Also, the steampunk script I wrote is beginning to be shown around locally. If/When anything comes of it, I'll let y'all know.

Plus the 48 Hour Film Festival is a couple weekends away...

I think that's it for now.


Dave the Acty Guy

Saturday, July 4, 2015

A Pair of Movie Reviews, and Basically That's It! Sheesh!

Here's another spectacular Andy Lee road photograph.

Why, hello everyone! Man, the blog-reading legions are out in force tonight! Look at all of you! Man, I can't even see those of you in the way back... good thing I got my jumbotron fixed earlier this week... can you all see me up on the screen?

OK, cool.

So, greetings, it is I, Dave the Lumbering Nerd, with another blast of blogginess...

Hey, wait... wait! Where are you all going?! What? No, this isn't Starbucks... No, stay! Please! I have things to share with you tonight...!

Great. Everyone left. What? Oh, two people stayed. No, that's cool, thanks... I appreciate it.

What? Oh. The bathrooms are over there... yeah, no problem. Thanks.

OK, to my one reader, I'd like to say...

And he's already sleeping... Well, out the window with you!

So, I wanted to start tonight's post by sharing some thoughts on a pair of movies I've seen recently... San Andreas and Love & Mercy...

First, the turd.

San Andreas... I don't even know where to start...

One of my best friends from my youth is named Jason C. He came back in town -- man, it must be nearly 20 years since I'd last seen him. He's a PGA golf pro, actually... anyway, he was in town and we met up and decided to go see a movie. We were going to hit up Jurassic World, but his wife asked him to wait until he got back home (Atlanta) and watch it with her. So we opted for Inside Out... until Jason realized it was an animated movie, and didn't want any part of that. So he asked for San Andreas as a plan C, and off we went!

Now, I knew from watching the trailer that it wasn't going to be Oscar-worthy on any level... My normal policy (for my own protection) is that if I can't get through a trailer without stomach pains, I don't see the movie, period. But, hey, it's not very often a great friend comes into town, and if he wants to see it, I shall gladly bend the rules! However, I was fully unprepared for just how bad this film was going to be. It was AMAZINGLY bad...

So, for the first time that I recall in my entire life, we sat down and the movie just started. No previews, no adds, no announcements of any kind... just lights down, and roll film. Very weird. THEN after the truly monumentally awful opening sequence, the sound stopped working. We had video only, no sound. Someone went to notify the staff... and so they started the film over again. We had to watch that opening twice!

Look, before I get into the film proper, let me say this. I don't regret watching it. I mean, I haven't laughed that hard in a looooong time. Granted, the movie wasn't trying to be funny, but still... comedy gold. I love The Rock (the "film's" star) so he can do no wrong in my eyes. But really, ABSOLUTELY everything else about the movie was pure cinematic fecal matter. The dialog... O Lord, the dialog... somebody got paid big bucks to write that insipid dialog! In fact, I better go see who wrote it, BRB...

Screenplay by Carlton Cuse. Who is, no doubt, laughing all the way to the bank. I wonder if Carlton is like, "Hey, whatever, it's a turd, what can I say? It is what it is, a mindless summer spectacle movie. What did you expect? Citizen Kane?" Or is he proudly putting that on his resume, like "I wrote that &^%$! Me! Look how amazing I am!?" Looks like the rest of his credits are for TV, which is fine, I guess. Hey, he's got a career going, good for him.

Still, my God, that script...

And the acting. Paul Giamatti was fantastically, incredibly bad in this. The story. The science. The cast. The special effects. The music. I just kept thinking "Dozens and dozens of people got paid ridiculous amounts of money to make this!" Every time I thought "That's the dumbest thing I've seen in this movie... it can't get any dumber than that" it would get dumber. I saw buildings tip over whole, like a tree falling in the forest. I saw buildings crumble like a sand castle that had water poured on it. I saw buildings stay up, but get these weird gaping holes in them. I saw helicopters and boats and planes and trucks do what these things cannot do! I saw a miraculously sinking building! I saw people get trapped behind the only unbroken pane of glass in the entire city! I saw a several hundred foot tall tidal wave turn San Francisco into a swimming pool!

And yet, I will always remember seeing this movie. If it was merely mediocre, I would have forgotten it already. But because I saw it with a good friend I hadn't seen in a couple decades, and because I laughed so hard and long (annoying the people sitting around me in the theater), it was a truly memorable event, despite the fact that it's one of the worst movies I've ever forced myself to sit through. It's up there with Twister and Speed 2. Yet I'm tempted to buy a copy of it when it comes out on disc, for my library, and watch it regularly, to remind myself of the wonderful night...

OK, the next movie is San Andreas' polar opposite, Love & Mercy, starring Paul Dano, John Cusack, Paul Giamatti and Elizabeth Banks. It's the story of the Beach Boys, and specifically, front man Brian Wilson. It was written by Oren Moverman and Michael Lerner.

The acting is phenomenal in this film. I've always been a big John Cusack fan (my favorite of his, of course, being Grosse Point Blank)... he's always so rich and subtle with his expressions and delivery, he's sort of a role model for me, acting-wise. And Paul Dano was terrific as well. And funny, Paul Giamatti was in San Andreas as well as Love & Mercy, and I guess that just goes to show something, though I'm not sure what. He was great in L&M, and awful in SA.

I can only assume the script plays a large part. He's obviously a skilled actor. But I guess a gourmet chef can only do so much with bologna...

But getting back to the movie, Both Dano and Cusack play Brian Wilson at different points of his life. Dano plays him when the Beach Boys were huge, and when he was crafting the Pet Sounds album, and Cusack plays him later in life, when he'd bottomed out.

The characters, the dialog, the editing, the cinematography, the shot choices, the acting... everything was top notch. In fact, there's a scene that takes place in a restaurant booth, that was so cool to watch, since the booth had these mirrors on it, and when the scene was shown from Cusack's POV as he talked at length with Elizabeth Banks, you could see her face, and also Cusack's face reflected in the mirror right beside her face, so you saw them both at the same time, full frontal facial! You could see their reactions and expressions in their entirety, instead of cutting back and forth, one long seamless take, like a play almost. It was marvelous.

In fact, watch the trailer here, there's a bit of that scene in the trailer, at about the 0:25 mark.

So, yeah, the craft was top notch, and I enjoyed it tremendously. I saw it with my step dad -- the same man that took me to another wonderful musical biopic last year, the incredible Get On Up, starring Chadwick Boseman.

Anyways, so yeah. San Andreas and Love & Mercy. Those are my thoughts.

Look... I have other stuff to mention, including a Game Review of the game Grim Dawn, but it's 1:30 am and I have to get up early tomorrow. The web series I'm in (Beyond the Impact) is putting in an appearance at Westercon this weekend, in San Diego. It's a sci-fi convention, and we're doing an hour-long panel type thing in the morning. I need to get my beauty rest! Hopefully I'll have photos and funny anecdotes to share about it all.

Stay tuned! Another update soon!

OK, I'm off to bed.

My apologies to the fine folks that worked on San Andreas, including the writer Mr. Cuse. I'm sure you gave it your best, and I'm sorry to blast it. I hope you all keep working and trying more films.

Good night all!

Dave the Goof