Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bomb threat on USC campus today!

Don't worry, I'm fine.

As per USC Cinema School emergency protocol, I dove into the closest refrigerator I could find.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Keep Your Friends Close...

Ah, yes. It's been a long time coming but it seems whenever its finally time to start actual filming days it's like after that long, slow part of the Jurassic Park ride (or any roller coaster...I guess) where you've been clicking away towards the top and finally reaching the inevitable Tyrannosaurus Rex / splash drop.

Hey, if you can find a better analogy I'd like to see you try.

Last Friday I took that plunge and kicked off the first weekend of filming for my film with a bang. My producer worked some mojo so that we were able to shoot at a "subway car" set at CBS TV studios in Studio City - a smaller lot that, among other things, was known being home to 'Seinfeld' from 1989-1998.

Its wasn't an exact Chicago 'L' match but we did the best we could, and I think once I drop in that "The next stop will be ...Belmont" it will be all the more convincing.

Anyway, here's some pics - I will let you be the judge.

The location was great, but the real stars of the day were the amazing crew and, of course, the 'stars' - my actors.

The real joy of this project has been that I have had plenty of time to put my cast and crew together and I've been able to get a lot of quality friends to help me out, both as crew and actors.

It's nice b/c in the early days of USC you were just getting to know people and, for certain classes, you had partners and crew assigned to you. Finally I'm able to collaborate on stuff with my really good friends.

It also made me realize that one of the reasons I like this business. More and more this semester I've realized the real joy of collaborating. I've found I'm a much better writer when I can bounce ideas of others and projects are just more fun when you've got a drinking buddy as your co-writer or producer.

I mean, hell, the whole reason I wanted to get into movies in the first place is that I enjoyed making some really amazing pieces of cinema from the 'Red and Yellow' Era.

Ahhh, 'Chhk Chhk Boom' - still has more entertainment value than a good chunk of what gets cranked out of USC. - "Don't mess with Texas."

Also, I've been able to work with family on this project. My cousin Adam, who any NBA fan would recognize from the omnipotent Kobe/LeBron Vitamin Water ad last year, and I have finally been able to get together and do some cuz-laboration and that, too, has been just the best.

Yep, pretty much in the very busy home stretch for the semester now and have been very happy with the way 2010 has gone so far. Starting to set up some things for the summer and looking forward to a trip back to CHI soon.

And one more thing...


Let's just hope they can keep this winning thing going....they're probably the best bet our fair city has to raise a championship banner anytime soon. Now, I'm not saying that the genius of drafting a Benet QB (Bears) or putting your ace in the bullpen ($#*! Cubs) isn't going to work, I'm just saying....




I don't know how to finish that sentence without bullsh*tting.

Go 'Hawks!

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Today is one of those rare occasions where I will be proudly sporting some Dodger Blue in lieu of my regular Cubs gear.

Course, this is the Brooklyn Dodgers I'm talking about, and there's only one player that would ever get me to wear the colors that is now associated with beach balls and Manny Ramirez, and that's good ole' number 42.

Major League Baseball started a new tradition three years ago that I've come to enjoy every season more and more: the official declaration of April 15th as "Jackie Robinson Day".

It combines two of my favorite pastimes: baseball and post-WWII American history.

I don't get into it too often, but post-war American history is one of my favorite topics ever. I'm taking a critical studies class that deals with post-war cinema and its been just awesome. The fifties and sixties just had so much goin' on: Cold War... Kennedy... cheap, affordable hamburgers at lightning speed...

In addition to shooting the first two days of my directing project this weekend, I also need to churn out a 12-15 page paper on "The Manchurian Candidate". Though the timing isn't ideal (course, that's mostly my own fault due to procrastination) I haven't been this excited about writing a paper on a movie since my "Independence Day" paper back at the wind-swept campus of LUC.

If you haven't seen "Manchurian", you are missing out...especially if you like cracking jokes about Joe McCarthy or HUAC. It's a great Cold War-era flick, and I've been uncovering some pretty cool info on some behind the scenes stuff in my research. For instance, there was great trepidation about making the controversial book into a movie in the political climate of 1962 and Sinatra, the star and a producer on the film, visited Kennedy at Hyannisport to test the water. The first thing JFK said when Frank brought "Manchurian" up was simply what other stars were going to be in it.

Anyway, one thing I'm not happy about ever since going to film school is that I haven't fed my appetite for history all too well. But today's ubiquitous "42"s in baseball are making me think I need to pick up some literature on Mr. Robinson to read over the summer.

Really, I need to brush up on any kind of historical nonfiction reading this summer. Though, I guess there's no rush. Once I graduate at the end of 2010 and can't find a job I'll have PLENTY of time to read all I want! all likelihood, on Jackie Robinson Day 2011, I'll be out in front of Dodger Stadium, scalping tickets... becoming a full-time scalper being the only "steady income stream" I could find in the months after finishing at USC.

"I got Loge level... I got upper deck!...I got bleachers! I also got an MFA and will write a feature-length script! ....comedy, drama, horror! You want it, you got it!"

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

It's a marathon, not a sprint...right?

...but if you're running a marathon you sure don't want to start it off by stubbing your toe, or, say GIVING UP EIGHT RUNS IN 1 AND 1/3 INNINGS!!!!??!?!?!

Sorry, but its kinda hard to control my Zambrano-esque rage against, well, Zambrano. And the entire Cubs organization.

BUT, as many Cubs-apologists will say in the wake of yesterday's disaster: it's just one of 162 games in the season. I guess I'd have to go ahead and include myself in that delusional division of Wrigley faithful. It is only one loss.

Still though, its not that we lost its HOW we lost: in such apocalyptic spectacular fashion, in the FIRST GAME of the Cubs' supposed "Year One" - which was the Cubs' Marketing Dept attempting to lamely reset the franchise like 'Batman Begins' or something. (Though I don't know what was worse: the Cubs' 2009 season or "Batman & Robin" starring George Clooney and the current Governor of California)

Anyway, the baseball season is a marathon and you can't let every loss get you down, or ride too highly on any wins. It's funny, because many people who I've heard from while out here have said the same thing about the film industry.

It's a pretty apt comparison, when you look at it. Sure their are those who've been consistently successful for years...Spielberg... Scorsese... the Yankees... but this business has its ups and downs like a baseball season.

Anyway, the long-term up-and-down nature of trying to work in entertainment is something that's been on my mind quite a bit this semester. 2010 so far has had it low points and high points, big losses and little victories.

Might have a pretty big victory at hand this week. For my 533 short film that's coming up in a week or so, that I mentioned was set in Chicago, and also mentioned has a scene set on an L car, I am very close to being able to film the scene on an actual "subway car" set at CBS television studios in Studio City.

Not 100% yet, but going to the lot this Friday to scope it out and will hopefully know for sure sometime after that.

That would certainly be a reason to raise the blue "W" flag, wouldn't it?