Monday, September 22, 2008

"I'll Meet You at The Station"

Sorry it's been awhile, but I've been wading though some busy times. And hey: lots of exciting stuff going on.

First and foremost, big night this week as "The Station"--the independent pilot that Rob, Russ and I shot in Chicago last fall-- is having its official "world premiere" at the Naperville Independent Film Festival this week.

For those who haven't seen it, "The Station" showcases "three young men as they attempt to get a piece of the action in the bustling landscape of Chicago. One's a trust-fund millionaire, one's a womanizer, and one was born to play in the X-Games. They share a condo and a bond as friends while they help, and hurt, each others' chances for success".

And no, I didn't just pull that from the back of the DVD. Please.

But here's a few of the top "screen grabs" from the pilot.

So this Thursday, September 25th, The Station will be screening twice (at 12 noon and at 9:45pm) at The Comedy Shrine in downtown Naperville. It's right by Jimmy's Grill and the Barnes and Nobel.

Plus, there's going to be a pre-game party at Heaven on Seven for the 9:45pm show, and if any of y'all want in lemme know (or talk to my Dad or Russ) to get the details. Nothing like mixing hurricanes and hilarity. It's funny that the party will at an establishment known for its gumbo, for reasons that only me, Rob and De Lara would know. Ask me sometime what gumbo has to do with the Station and I'll tell you the tale.

In other awesome news, how bout the 2008 NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL DIVISION CHAMPION CHICAGO CUBS!!!!!

Man, do I wish I could have been in Chicago this past week. First for Big Z's no-hitter (instead of being one the 23,441 fans in Miller Park, I enjoyed it as an audience of one on my computer thanks to MLB.TV) and then for the clincher this weekend. On Saturday I was helping a friend shoot in downtown L.A., following the game closely on my cell, and was able to sneak away to a near-empty Irish bar and to catch Kerry Wood making the final 3 outs. The sound wasn't on, but I made my presence known by treating the 3 other patrons to Van Halen's "Jump" (for some reason, "Go Cubs Go" wasn't in the jukebox).

Now I am furiously rooting for the Brew-Crew and the Dodgers in hopes of achieving a Cubs-Dodger NLDS. The Cubs can help make that happen by chalking up some wins in Shea Stadium this week. (BTW: Really enjoyed the coverage of the last game at Yankee Stadium, made me really glad I got to catch a game there back in '06. I doubt anyone will shed a tear for the demolition of that crap-hole in Queens).

Indeed, between the special things happening on the Northside and the screening this Thursday (plus, a certain someone's upcoming birthday will be celebrated in the midst of an extremely busy shooting weekend) it makes me really pine to be back in CHI with family, friends, and changing seasons. But, making movies is really what I want to do with my life, and the more I wish I was back in Chicago, the tougher my resolve becomes to really "make it" and start getting paid to write and produce movies so I can move back to the city I love.

Anyway, hate to leave on such a sappy note, but it's business time.

So, enjoy the Cubbies, $#@% the Mets, Go Dodgers and Brewers, and I'll meet you at the Station.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Get Ready, Cuz this Shit's About to Get Heavy

So fitting it is that "Entourage" is back the week that I begin filming the first project of the semester. It will be a welcome way to cap off the weekends, which will be busy as all hell once the light hits the film. For those who don't know, here's what the line-up card is like for me this semester.

So the class we're taking this semester is called "508". Exciting name, eh? But its worth noting since it is part of my lexicon for the next 4 months, ie: "I'm working on my 508", "I need some undergrads to crew my 508", or "have you heard of this new bitch in town, called 508. I heard she f*cks everyone over and doesn't give a f*ck." (That last one is a direct quote from a classmate).

In 508, you work in a partnership, and make two movies. In the first half of the semester, Partner A writes, directs, and sound edits their project, while Partner B does the camerawork and picture editing. In the second half of the semester, they swap roles. I am a Partner B, which means I won't be doing any directing until mid-October.

So in the meantime I'm going to be the director of photography (meaning I operate the camera and put up the lights). The film we're shooting is about a black student getting lynched by some white guys in Los Angeles in 1965.

"So, it's a comedy, right?"

Yeah.....No, but I'm actually pretty excited about it because I think the film is getting into some pretty compelling and important territory, plus its a great opportunity to work with characters and subject matter that I probably wouldn't otherwise. Of course, it does propose some challenges. Really big challenges, actually.

Let's forget about the fact that we want to get permission from USC to stage a lynching on campus. Just....forget that part. Instead, a very quick lesson about film. I mean filmy film (not video), the type that real movies are shot on in 35mm or the type that we will be using, 16mm, to shoot our projects. Film gets an image imprinted on it because of light. Now, when a film strip is passing thru a camera lens at 24 frames per second (fps), it requires a HUGE amount of light to make an imprint in that 1/24th of a second. That light is the light that reflects off a subject and makes an image on the film. That's how movies get made, and that's why movie sets have tons of huge lights.

Why am I lecturing the readership on how film works? Well, because I am in charge of shooting a low-to-no budget student film that takes place almost entirely at NIGHT, with a predominantly BLACK cast. Dark skin reflects less light than light skin, meaning that we are going to need more lights than Dodger Stadium to get a decent image.

Okay, it's not that bad, but it is still going to be an incredible challenge to make sure everyone is properly exposed, and to make sure we don't overdo the lighting that could overexpose the white actors who will also be onscreen at times.

Sorry to get so technical, but I just wanted to give a little insight as to what I'll be up to the next couple of weekends, and prep you so that if you see footage of me on CNN walking along the 10 freeway with a construction cone on my head and a lightmeter in my hand muttering "Footcandles, I need more FOOTCANDLES!", you'll know why.

Anyway, that's the brunt of the story from out here for now. In other news, I'm pumped b/c some cast and crew of the show MAD MEN (which I've mentioned in previous blogs) are coming to USC Monday night. Matthew Wiener, the show's creator and previous Soprano's producer/scribe (and former USC student) will be headlining the evening.

That's about it, except that I don't know what the hell is happening on the Northside but can Lou please get this team back on track? The Dodgers just inched back into 1st place after winning 8 in a row and I'll be damned if there's going to be a Brewers-Dodgers NLDS here in L.A. Glad to see the Bears win, though. Stupid Colts fans (even though the new stadium looks awesome).

That reminds me, don't forget to lower your flags to half-staff tomorrow, as the nation is in mourning for Tom Brady's knee.