Monday, April 28, 2008

Kosin's 11

As in 11 days until my first semester at USC is a wrap and I jet from Tupac territory to Notorious B.I.G -land.

We finished shooting our 4th project, the class group project, and I found myself in the precarious producer role. Getting the location was a bigger pain in my ass than the fans of a certain south side baseball franchise but I finally landed a bar that has pretty much just opened and I sold them on my pitch that this would be great exposure for their place to USC students.

It was certainly tricky because in L.A. it seems like every single bar has been filmed in at least twice and so its mighty tough to go in as a student and say "we don't have any money and this film will not be seen by more than 30 people but can you shut down your bar for 8 hours on a saturday?"

Luckily I was able to close on it just 4 days before we wanted to shoot. I was damn happy to close. ABC - "you can't close shit? you are shit! hit the bricks pal because you are going out!"

anyway I've got pics backed up worse than my kitchen sink (don't ask: I'm buying the liquid plumber tomorrow) so let me give y'all some images from my 3rd and 4th projects.

Here's a few from "The California 29th".....

Going for the noir-political thing, got some very nice light-thru-the-blinds action going on.

Now THAT'S a politician!

The director at work. Is it weird that I insist on being called "Il Duce" on set?

This is a nice one taken by my David Lynch-obsessed friend and colleague.

And here's just a few from P4. It's called "What Love May Also Bring". Our director of photography happens to own an HD camera so what a nice coincidence that's what we got to shoot on. The frame grabs are awesome.

And, yeah, so the film takes place at night, and we shot in the day...needless to say there was much black plastic and tape for the windows.


Because it was HD we captured directly to a laptop and hard drive. And if that means nothing to you, trust me, it's a good thing.

Soon, very soon, I may have some uploaded videos of these things for anyone who wants 'em.

More later on Cannes, next semester's classes at USC, and other things.

I heard a rumor that the Brewers and their fans may be infiltrating Wrigley Field this week. Here's a Packers joke but I think it applies to the not-quite-cosmopolitan fans of the Brew crew too:

Two Packer fans are hunting in the woods, drinking beer and stuffing their faces with cheese. Suddenly, one of the guys starts choking on a chunk of cheddar which send him into cardiac arrest. After some twisting around his body goes limp. His buddy, panicked, calls 911.

"I think my friend
just died of a heart attack!"

"Calm down. First thing I need you to do is make sure he's dead."

"OK, hold on a sec"

The operator listens as the guy puts down a phone, she then hears a loud BLAM! The Packer fan gets back on the line.

"OK, I'm sure, now what?"

Monday, April 21, 2008

What Cannes I Say?

Except perhaps: je m'appelle fromage, je voudrais un croissant!

I don't know how these things happen...but it seems that I'm going to the 61st Annual Cannes Film Festival this May for two weeks.

That's right: this Old Style-swilling, America-loving, Hawaiian shirt-wearing, 3rd generation Polak from Chicago will be Foux Da Fa Fa-ing among all the glitz and glamor that Europe and Hollywood have to offer. Cubs Win!

Yeah, so here's the scoop: a really, really awesome friend of mine who's out here knows a guy who runs this program called Creative Minds in Cannes based in LA that gets film students internships with companies at the Cannes Film Festival.

So, yeah, apparently I'll have an internship with a distribution or production company. What happens at Cannes (or so I'm told) is that in addition to the screenings and red carpet it is also a tremendous marketplace for the buying and selling of films. And all these big companies need help with promotional stuff and paperwork and I'm not really sure. But, obviously its a great way to learn a bit more about this crazy business of show.

In addition to working these internships, they also give groups of people in the program a video camera and shit and we get to go make a movie.

Plus we have access to a number of workshops, networking events, and parties.

Plus I hear there's this thing called the Mediterranean that can be fun.

Lot of action there, a lot of action. And I need to be in France by May 12 and my classes at USC end on May 8, which would be fine, except that I had this crazy idea to swing into New York for two days. So I get to finish classes, go LA to New York, and then New York to Cannes.

Why the small stop in the big apple? Firstly its a good way to break up the would-be 13 hour flight from the Pacific Coast to the Cote de Azur. Secondly it gives me a chance to gloat in person to Hupp about my baseball fantasy team (the Fightin' Fukudomes!!) sitting nicely at 3rd in the league standings. And at the end of the day I just had to ask myself a question that gets me through the tough decisions:

What Would Jay-Z Do?

I think that the man who talks big about success and welcomes us to Hollywood should be an inspiration to us all. I know that I am constantly trying to make myself in his image. And I think he'd stop in New York.

And so to complete the tour de force of these cities of some note and culture I will return to the states on Memorial Day to a place that offers more than LA., New York, and Cannes put together.

My sweet home Chicago.

My wheels should be hitting the O'Hare tarmac on May 26 just as the Dietzler Beef hits the sizzling Weber at good old 156 N. Montclair. I plan to spend about a week in Chicago, no doubt to detox from meeting too many big, fat, Hollywood phonies.

More on everything later. That's all for now.

Or as the French say au revoir

BTW: I think I need to brush up on the ole' francais considering that the only sentences I know I said at the top and they mean "my name is cheese, I would like a croissant"

-"Parlez vous le francais?"


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Seth David: SuperAgent

So a little while back I was looking to cast my third project and a friend suggested I contact an agent he had been in contact with and see if he had any clients that could work for my roles. I wanted to make sure I had a great cast and so I shot him an email, looking for his help.

He was immediately helpful and interested in my project, he had a few actors lined up to come into my auditions. Talking with him on the phone was bit strange. He was really excited, too excited.

Little did I realize that I was getting in too deep with Seth David: SuperAgent.

Since then they guy has been relentless. (I didn't end up casting any of the actors he sent me for P3). He calls me and other USC students about how great all his clients are and how perfect they'd all be. He's so Hollywood it's ridiculous. And now I'm producing our class project and one of our cast members is a client of Seth David.

OK, so initially he tells me that this girl he thinks I should use "She's smoking hot. I mean, like, great body. And she's got chops, man. She can fucking act."

A bit much, sure. But in another of our many, many telephone conversations (he always calls me, never the other way around) in which he said he had a list of clients that he'd love to give me, up-and-coming actors he said. I told him that I was pretty much done casting for the semester, that I would spend the summer getting an internship to know LA better. Here's how the rest of the conversation went:

SETH - Oh? Where are you from originally?

ME - I'm from Chicago.

SETH - The windy city. I hear that. Rock n' roll.

ME - (speechless)

What the #$#@!?? I can't believe that this guy is for real. This is actually the way he speaks with people on the phone. And its not just me. Many classmates have had interactions with him and all can profess to his amazing streak of idiocy.

Recently I had a a conversation with him that convinced me this guy is so Hollywood that he couldn't have been born of a human mother. He must have been spawned asexually on the Walk of Fame. That's my only explanation. I was talking with him about a girl, his client, that my director wanted and had cast in the film. He said, of her:

"She's amazing. She can really act. She can cry. She can cry out of one eye. You tell her which one and she'll do it. I've seen it. It's fucking amazing."

Now, why the hell do I care about this? When would I ever need to say ' Well, your character is the type of person who cries out of her left eye, but not the right. If you cry out of your right eye you're breaking character.' ?!? It's absurd.

This guy has absolutely no judge of talent and probably all the intelligence of a bag of Skittles. And though USC students are the filmmakers of tomorrow (so we're told), we're still students and this Ari Gold-wannabe is spending way too much time and energy getting his actors jobs that pay copy, credit, and meals.

Granted, Seth David is a character that I must say I'm happy exists. I just can't believe he actually says the things he says. And with such conviction....

If anyone deserves their own reality show its probably Seth David. I can't wait to be finished with this damn 4th project so I (hopefully) never have to deal with Seth David again. But I'm, sure I will. As I told a friend (the one who recommended calling Seth in the first place) earlier tonight: You have released a plague on us all. May God have mercy.

Hell hath no fury like Seth David.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Ready to Rumble

Wow, so things have been really busy recently. In between finishing shooting and editing my 3rd project I somehow fell into producing our class's group project. It's a good script about two estranged friends...who are also assassins for an organized crime syndicate, that meet in a neighborhood bar. Let's just say more than pleasantries are exchanged.

So, in addition to spending many hours in the editing lab I also need to head out into the great urban jungle of LA and find a bar that will let some film students film there for about 6 or 8 hours for little to no money.

And then yesterday I see a news item like this.

Yeah, so apparently I need to be prepared in case massive plates sitting on liquid magma grind up against each other, causing freeways to crack, buildings to fall, and seismic shock waves to ripple out among all of Southern California.

Step one for me was to buy a bottle of whiskey. I'm not really sure where to go after that. I'm thinking of DVRing Volcano and just doing what Tommy Lee Jones does. He usually comes out alive in movies.

Anyway, there's a lot of crazy stuff going on and soon I will have enough time to share it all and post pictures, but I just wanted to let everyone know that in case you don't see any more posts that probably means there was an earthquake and I was crushed by the six cases of Coke that sit perilously atop my fridge.

BTW: if you haven't seen Volcano, it's amazing in a "hey, look what's-on-FX sort of way". Not to mention it was produced by Neal Moritz, a USC alum (and don't worry, he's done better movies since). There's a poster in one of the stairwells here signed by him. I love to walk past it b/c it has what might be the best movie poster tagline there will ever be.

" THE COAST IS TOAST - April 25th "

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A. B. C.

Always. Be. Closing.

That is the lesson that Alec Baldwin gives in his amazing profanity-laden speech in the film Glengarry Glen Ross. It is a lesson that Rob and I practiced while making "The Station" in Chicago last fall. And it is a lesson that, for some reason, I chose to ignore while in preproduction for my 3rd project.

By "closing", I mean getting every aspect of the production locked, confirmed, and double confirmed. Especially when it comes to filming out and about at locations, and forms and permits.

"Get them to sign on the line that is dotted!"

I had my last scene to shoot tonight, a quick couple of shots to get at a really cool looking restaurant in downtown LA. I had spoken with an assistant manager there about filming tonight a week ago. He was really cool, since it was a Mon. night it wasn't to be a problem at all.

I meant to get him the forms to sign. I was going to get everything cleared with the LA film office. I wanted to make sure that every "i" was dotted and every "t" was crossed. I should have closed it.

But I didn't.

I was busy, he seemed really cool about everything, so I decided I didn't need to close it. So I show up, crew in tow, actors on their way, and it turns out the guy who had been my contact man at the restaurant no longer worked there. So the guy in charge had no idea that filming was supposed to take place. And the owner of the place was "too busy" to talk to me, the mother%$#@& *~!&*!!

And so I had to tell my actors sorry and send them home. I tried to get a few shots from outside "guerilla-style", but I'm not sure they'll work. We'll have to shoot it later this week. I'm pissed. Now, granted, it was a pretty freak occurrence that my main contact just 7 days ago get FIRED in between then and now. But still, I may have been able to film tonight if I had signed location release forms, and especially if I had a FILM LA permit. But I was not a closer.


So now I need to spend the next few days finding, convincing, and CLOSING a new location.

Anyway, it's not really all doom and gloom. The last three days I shot and everything went relatively smoothly. Yesterday (Sunday) was a crazy day: 3 locations, starting at 8:30am and going until pretty much midnight. I didn't think I was going to pull it off but I had some great help from some friends and my actors, in addition to being really talented, are FANTASTIC to work with and totally rolled with everything. Got some great shots, really great performances, and I think I've got a movie even without the restaurant scene, but I still want it.

Still, the shooting went really well the first three days so I guess I should have expected the production gods to reign lighting and sulfur down upon me. As soon as I get this other junk sorted out I'll post some pictures from the shooting that took place this weekend, my friends took a lot of great looking stills.

Now, I'm going to start searching for restaurants to shoot at, then go to sleep, and dream that someday a tall, handsome, guy in an expensive suit with slicked back hair will burst in, start yelling, and tell me how to CLOSE.

"That's it: I'm done!"