Monday, November 21, 2011

Inside Hollywood's Most Powerful Agency

***NOTE: THE FOLLOWING BLOG POST IS IN STRICT ADHERENCE TO CAA'S CONFIDENTIALITY AGREEMENT AND SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY***
 
So, I have been crazy busy the past few weeks, but glad I've finally found some time to share how my internship at CAA has been going.

Well, let me say it has been ****! The ***** are ***** and I have been *********************. It's been ******* being able to ********** every day in the ********* of Hollywood. I mean, the amount of *********** I've seen has been ***** ****! I've ****** into all kinds of ****** ****** like ********, **** ********, and *** "********" *****. The **** was being in the same elevator with ***** ********. *** is just as ********* and ******** in person as you'd hope and expect.

I've mostly been **** ****** and ***** **** of ********** ****. I **** in the ** *** Department, which has ******** ****** who I really *** ***** ****. I spend so much time ******* ***** ******* and *** ***** *******- it really makes you feel like you're ******* *** the *******, or "******* ** *********" as they say. 

There are so many more ****** ******* I'd love to share but I'm ****** **** from a ********* of ******** **** and ******* in time ******* of *** to meet ****** and ****** ********** ***** ******.

Luckily, I'm heading back to Chicago this week for Turkey Day and I'll be able to ********** a bit more on the ******* ******, ******, and ******** I've had the past few weeks.

It's been **** ************


-mjk

Friday, September 30, 2011

Oh Say Can You CAA?

It's not too often I get to use the blog for a bit o' breaking news but here's a bulletin hot off the presses:

I got a job!....of sorts.

It's actually just a ten week paid internship, but the 'what' isn't as important as the 'where.'

Most notably, this paid internship is at Creative Artists Agency. Otherwise known as "CAA."

Otherwise known as "the preeminent A-List talent agency in Hollywood, if not the world."

Holy shit!

Those careful readers (Tom and Nick?) will know I've mentioned CAA a few times, most notably when I had a class in the top-tier, top-shelf agency last fall.

How it all came about is as simple as it is boring to write about. There was a posting on USC's job board. Looked like a pretty awesome - if not long shot - opportunity. I applied. A month later I had a phone interview. A week later I had an in-person interview. Now next week I start what is sure to be some of the busiest, most interesting, most educational, most intense, and most stylish* few months of my tenure in California.

*As a scruffy film student I've been on a steady wardrobe diet of flannels, t-shirts, and Cubs paraphernalia. This is the first time I'll be wearing a tie consistently since leaving the hallowed halls of Benet Academy. 

Luckily, what was true then remains true today.....I look damn good in a tie. 

So, yeah, pretty wild right? It's funny.... I kinda feel like the episode of Seinfeld when George lands his job with the Yankees....(which is an apt analogy since CAA happens to represent....the New York Yankees...)

Jerry : The New York Yankees?!
George : The New York Yankees!
Jerry : Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle ... Costanza?

From the first time I found out about CAA was and even after going to classes their for a semester never in a million years did I think I'd be driving to 2000 Avenue of the Stars, Los Angeles, CA every day (at least, not to go to work).

Btw, how about this place? Like, even the address is pretty baller.

I feel like Jerry should be somewhere saying "Spielberg, Clooney, Hanks, De Niro .... Kosin?" 

Now, I'm expecting my tenure at CAA will end better than Costanza's.... getting traded to Tyler Chicken for an all-chicken Yankee concessions.

Hopefully I'll have more on this to come, but shit who knows if I've got time to keep up on this thing?

We all know how demanding agents can be...



BOOM. Think I'd get an agency gig and not show some love to the most famed agent around. Enjoy the video, and just think......that wonderful screaming asshole could be ME someday!

(not likely)

But speaking of art imitating life....or art imitating Creative Artists....funny that after finding out the news I also came across this audio clip from a musical based off a former CAA assistant's experience. It's a rather catchy and entertaining dig on the famed "high-stress" atmosphere inside.....check it out.

The lyrics are a little inside baseball but you get the jist. Rumors of dreams being crushed and hearts ripped out always swirl at the big agencies.

Is it true? Are the next few months going to be nothing but torture? Will I become horribly bitter and disillusioned? Is my soul going to be crushed?


I doubt it.


But, being a Cubs fan, at least I'm used to it.


- mjk

Friday, September 9, 2011

USC Moment #3 - The Man. The Myth. The Spielberg.

Okay, so moments 4 and 5 were all well and good, but now it's time to get to the real top-shelf stuff. The "remember it like it was yesterday for the rest of your life" stuff. And that's what these final three moments are, without a doubt.

My #3 (though could easily be #1) favorite USC film school moment is when Steven Spielberg came to campus...to the Steven Spielberg class...to be interviewed and field questions from students.

First, just a blurb about the "Spielberg Class" that I was in. I happened upon it rather fortuitously, having already planned to take a directing class on Wednesday nights. I was hanging out around campus killing time until my directing class started and a friend mentioned she was going to sit in for the first half-hour of Spielberg before heading to our directing class. I tagged along and was wowed by the preeminent Critical Studies professor at USC, Drew Casper.

The first class opened with a Spielberg video montage followed by Prof Casper riding into the theater on a bike dressed in a red hoodie sweatshirt to the E.T. soundtrack.

Needless to say, I dropped my directing class the next day and decided I could probably learn more from watching the complete works of Spielberg than spending three hours each night arguing about the 180 degree line.

CUT TO: Some two months and roughly ten Spielberg movies later and the big night was upon us. Casper explained that Spielberg would come in, he'd interview him for a bit, and then the floor - and the majority of the time - would be open to student questions.

Okay, so I am prone to hyperbole from time to time, but let me just say - the roughly 90 minutes that Spielberg was in the theater, talking and answering questions, was among one of the warmest, happiest, most thrilling, fascinating and inspiring nights of my life. It was like the equivalent of actually BEING in a Spielberg movie (with respects to the Jurassic Park ride at Universal). I've never felt such kindness, warmth, and emotion flow from a speaker to a crowd of 300 people. To hijack a line from Spielberg's first Oscar winning film.....

"The Spielberg visit is an absolute good."

"Why?" the cynical, critical, and curious may ask. Well, just his persona was so comfortable and you knew he was really truly happy to be there. It helped, of course, that as a class we'd been studying the man and the work for weeks and there was equal amounts of joy for us that he was there. But these are vague, I'll share a few specifics:

Firstly, I asked Spielberg the second question of the night. I actually kinda talked to the man. My opening was better than my actual question, though, when I stood up...scruffy beard, Cubs cap on, untucked flannel.....and said "Hello Mr. Spielberg, thank you so much for coming, I'm a big fan of all of your work, though I think my favorite thing you've done is your cameo performance as the Assessor of Cook County in the movie 'The Blues Brothers.'

Big laugh. Spielberg too.

He might have said "thank you" or something but how the fuck do I know, I was kind blacked out while I was talking. Talking to Steven Spielberg, did I mention that? Anyway, I asked a real softball question (2nd of the night, remember) about what it was like coming up with a group of young filmmakers like Coppola and Lucas and he gave a decent answer. It didn't matter. My night was made.

Some other highlights included seeing my friend have the thesis of her paper get proved from the mouth of Spielberg himself when she asked about how 'Amblin' - S.S.'s first short - seemed to diverge from what he usually did in films. He agreed and said that in 'Amblin' he was trying to make a movie that was more popular at that time - about teens, drugs, and sex - rather than something truly near and dear to his heart.

There were other great moments: he dispensed some advice for young directors - "The hardest thing is knowing what you want," he really opened up when asked about Schindler's List and how that film was important to him, and a great moment of hilarity when a very well-spoken fanboy demanded to know why the Tyrannosaurus Rex, the "hero" of Jurassic Park and star of the JP franchise, was allowed to be so easily killed in JP:3. Which Spielberg did not direct, only exec produced.

"As you said," Spielberg replied, "I did not direct it."

Crowd laughed.

"But, you have a really good and true point.....let's just say.....I'll make it up to you when we make the fourth one."

Aaaand the crowd went wild.

There were tons of those little moments that were fun - sometimes because it was blowing our minds that this legendary guy was here, other times were just because he had very interesting, smart things to say and it didn't matter how much his movies grossed - but the conversation was always engaging from both sides.

One other very cool moment is a tip of the cap to Casper who told Spielberg about a play he'd seen in London called "War Horse."

S.S. said he's been meaning to see it.

Casper said "I expect 'War Horse' will be your next big live-action feature." The crowd laughed and cheered - we'd heard this before. Spielberg said he'd have to check it out. This was fall of 2009.

WAR HORSE, directed by Steven Spielberg, opens everywhere this Christmas.

So, all in all, it was a pretty amazing and special night, capped off by S.S. stepping forward to directly address all the students. He reached out to us and gave us an edict from the heart about us being the next generation of filmmakers.

"The future of the industry isn't in my hands - it's in yours."

With that we thanked him with thunderous applause and he graciously bowed and thanked us, and my buddy a few seat down snapped a pic -  


It was a perfect ending to a really amazing evening - I'm pretty sure it was somehow scored by John Williams also - and looking back it's a great reminder of how this annoying crappy industry can have these moments reach a level beyond "special" or "magical" and can only be defined as "Spielbergian."

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor of Love

So it's been a little while since I've blogged...blah blah blah....

But, hey, we all know I like to take it easy over the summer.

And most of fall.

And don't think I'll be doing ANYTHING during the holidays.

BUT, I will always sit down and focus up for a good three to four weeks in September and October and boy, are those golden.

So, here we are back in the swing of another semester, except, there IS no semester. School is over.

And yet the blog continues....

For now, at least.

Part of me had wanted to wrap things up on the blog around graduation and let it stand as a cohesive look into my tenure at USC. But that didn't happen for a few reasons...1) I didn't have time to wrap up everything on the blog since I got busy finishing school [speaking of, USC Top Moment #3 coming down the pike any day now] and 2) I got busy doing a few other things this summer, like helping a friend make his thesis and helping my family move out of the burbs. And 3) I don't really think I can shut the book on USC yet even though I'm graduated. I'm still defined more as a former USC student than anything else right now, though in time that will change. I feel like the months after graduation are kinda still part of my education and time as a Trojan.

So....yes: the blog continues. I'll probably spend a good chunk of time looking back at USC just to make sure I get all my 'Final Thoughts' out on my time there.

I'll also do my best to offer up some snapshots of the murky post-USC landscape. Bottom line right now: it is not great (nobody said it would be) but I wouldn't say it's awful either (lots of people say that).

Clearly since I'm not working on a TV show or applying for membership in the WGA right now things aren't as swell as they could be. But I'm testing the waters of my writing and working hard to get work and taking any and every opportunity* with an open mind.

I'll fill y'all in with more specifics as soon as they bceome available....

or as soon as I figure them out.

Talk soon,

MJK


*This includes, but is not limited to: becoming a gigolo, becoming a pimp, dealing drugs, selling my sperm, selling someone else's sperm, telemarketing, the Bloomingdale's executive training program, hitman, grease man, hatchet man, assassin, social assassin, day laborer, organ harvester, professional daredevil, stand-up comedian, ventriloquist, magician, magician's assistant, sorcerer's apprentice, dentist, shoe salesman, copywriter for the Dayton Bugle, hand model, stunt double, bodyguard, drug dealer-keeper-awayer, personal savior, televangelist, Republican nominee for President, pole dancer, ghostbuster, dog-walker, gold-trader, gold-prospector, oil man, entrepreneur, real estate mogul and curator for the Lost City of Atlantis. Lady, if there's a steady paycheck in it, I'll believe whatever you want. Congrats for reading this far down, the list just became a nice snippet from 'Ghostbusters' that I hope you enjoyed. Okay, this list is ending for real....right......now.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

CARMAGGEDON UPDATE! - feelin' fine

Yeah, so right now everything is smooth sailing in L.A. People were sufficiently terrified to go anywhere or do anything last night and today and all the major highways are as clear and open as a theater showing 'The Green Lantern'.

In other "LA transportation ridiculousness" news, saw this story today in the L.A. Times with the appropriately mocking headline - "IN L.A., A SNACK SHOP IN A SUBWAY STATION COUNTS AS NEWS"

Here's the full online article, pretty much talking about how L.A.'s subway system finally has a water-coffee-newspaper shop in it. You know, the kind of shop that is usually IN EVERY BUSY SUBWAY/ 'L' STATION IMAGINABLE.

Sometimes its pretty unfathomable that this is the second largest city in America. Anyway, here's the story....

In L.A., a snack shop in a subway station counts as news

Commuters and urban-development watchers cheer a small snack shop's opening at the 7th Street/Metro Center station. Such outlets are common in other cities, but this seems to be L.A.'s one and only.

Metro snack shop
A mirror reflects the entrance to the 7th Street/Metro Center subway station, where Rush Snack Bar owner Andrew Cohen talks on his cellphone. He expects to open the shop sometime this weekend. (Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times / July 16, 2011)

The dreamers of downtown are sensitive, even to the smallest shifts.

Brigham Yen was among the first to feel the one at 7th and Hope streets, 16 steps beneath the surface of the sidewalk.

When he documented it on his blog about a month ago, the news spread fast to others tracking downtown development.

"Wow, this is almost too good to be true!" one reader commented. "This is very awesome news," agreed another.


The object of their glee, still under construction: a small shop with a glass front and a young owner who planned to sell coffee, fresh-squeezed juices, salads and sandwiches.


The excitement, however, was not over what Andrew Cohen would serve.


In subway stations all over the world, travelers can buy things — newspapers and magazines, coffee and candy bars, aspirin, tissues, cough drops, and even, in some places, meals. That hasn't been the case in L.A., which has rankled boosters who want this city to hold its own against the big boys, above and below ground.


Rush Snack Bar, which Cohen expects to open sometime this weekend, will be the first retail establishment underground in a Los Angeles Metro station.


Or close enough.


It is, in fact, a former basement storage unit for 655 Hope, an apartment building that used to house offices but now bills itself as "the ultimate urban living experience," with "live-work, flexi-space units" and kitchens of "stainless steel motif."


The shop is not on Metro property. And it's not on a subway platform. But it fronts a corridor leading in and out of the 7th Street/Metro Center station, and those entering or exiting on the Hope side will pass it, going up or down the stairs.


To Yen, a self-described "transit and urban geek," that's worth celebrating.


"I just feel there's not a lot of love for this city. I think the city needs cheerleaders. It's important to be rah rah rah, and really kind of focus on the steps that are made in the right direction instead of the two steps backward," said Yen, a 30-year-old sales agent for the online real-estate brokerage Redfin.


"I've looked at stations in New York and Madrid and other cities. They are so cool. They have all these shopping options and eateries. L.A. is more utilitarian," he said. "So when I saw the snack bar, I just about flipped. I was like, 'Wow, this is symbolic. This is what other cities have.' I like to call it urban maturity, L.A. maturing."


Cohen, 24, had hoped to open Friday — in time for the big "Carmageddon" weekend, when some subway lines would operate for free. He passed his health inspection. His two staffers came in early on opening day. The place looked spiffy with its blackboard menu, bright reds and yellows, and wall of urban-chic reclaimed wood planks. He looked hip too, in dark jeans and a fitted blue and black lumber shirt.


He spoke of pulling inspiration from European travels, and said he'd offer discounts for Metro riders and Metro employees.


"People are telling me that it's revolutionary," he said of the little shop.


But he was having a sort of Barmageddon — a malfunctioning cash register, a front-window sign slow to arrive — that left his actual moment of opening uncertain.


Still, at morning rush hour, hundreds of people paused to look — lawyers wearing suits, young fashion and design students wearing hardly anything.


Some lifted bikes up the stairs. Others spit in the corridor's trash bins or dug around for scraps. One woman in a swimmingly large T-shirt, worn jeans and flip-flops said loudly to no one and everyone, "How do you like that? There's going to be snacks."


It's the smallest of shifts, a blip, a pebble plopped in the ocean. But it has been noted.


- - -  - - - -  - - - - 

That's it from the land of La-La. Enjoy your weekend in a normal city, Chicago!

MK

Friday, July 15, 2011

CARMAGGEDON!!!

So, for all those friends and family who are on the verge of enjoying yet another GORGEOUS summer weekend in the city of Chicago, I want to alert you to an unspeakable evil that is about to envelope Los Angeles tonight (no, not 'The Kardashians' they're.....they're always here).

No, the epic, frightening, "Katrina-esque" hardship coming our way is the event known as CARMAGGEDON.

Now, I don't know if this news has traveled all the way to Chicago, much less east of the 210 freeway, but one of L.A.'s biggest and most crucial freeways - the 405 - is being shut down for two whole days beginning at midnight tonight (midnight, of course, is the most epic deadline time to set, whether its getting home before the carriage turns into pumpkin or finding the deed for Toontown).

This complete shutdown is expected to create traffic havoc across all of Los Angeles as the cars who would be on the 405 fan out to alternative routes, further clogging L.A.'s already overcrowded streets. I mean, this thing is like a man in desperate need of a cholesterol reduction seeing how many Culver's Bacon-Butterburgers he can eat in an hour.

This trafficapocalypse has been Micheal Bay'd into the term CARMAGGEDON.

Cue appropriate music!

People all over L.A. have been freaking out and the city is doing its best to put the fear of God (or, whatever L.A.'s many atheists would be afraid of) into residents into staying home or leaving town to hopefully lessen the congestionopolis.

I have been getting a really big kick out of the whole thing because I've never felt closer to my fellow Los Angelinos. The thing is, for a city that barely shares the same air, let alone any kind of collective experience, CARMAGGEDON has really given everyone - from the slickest, coked-up agent to the lowliest background actor - a common topic of conversation. Nowhere is that more true than in my 'hood of Venice, because the whole of the Westside will be ground zero for the CAR-trastrophe.

Here's a map I found online that is very helpful for navigating the disturbances.


From 'A' to 'B' is what is going to be completely closed. Now, as you can see, Venice is right in the F*CKED zone. To make things trickier, I often travel from the F*CKED Zone to the area that is S.O.L. (Shit Outta Luck)...so you can see how this could disrupt my weekend plans.


But, how often does one get to be in a city going through such a massive crisis of transportation, infrastructure, AND identity?

I think that's what's really going on. L.A. is being forced to stare its Automotive Addiction right in its ugly smog-filled face. I mean, there is NO WAY to get from the Valley to the Westside other than driving. No trains or decent alternative routes are available and it's just a reminder of how messed up this city is. But, meh- that just the way things are out here.

I will attempt to flee the F*CKED Zone entirely by escaping today to the Eastside of L.A., where I will be taking a bit of a 'Staycation' in a friend's apartment who'll be out of town. I'll often go to the Eastside for a night every so often, but now I am taking my "casual sex" relationship with the Los Feliz/Silverlake area to a new level by spending a whole weekend together. Now, don't think this means I'm getting a divorce from Venice...just taking a little break....JFK used to do that all the time.

Confusing neighborhood-sexual metaphors notwithstanding, I'm hoping I don't feel too left out staying half a city away from the swamp of congestion. I do always enjoy these ridiculous "problems" that usually get way overblown (see my report on the Santa Monica Tsunami), but only because they provide such rich material to make funny things, and CARMAGGEDON is no exception.

Case in point, this rather brilliant video of Hilter raving about the 405 Closure... (The HITLER RANTS video from 'Downfall' has been used on everything from sports catastrophes to bad movies to...the actual rants themselves), but this one is really pretty good and painfully filled with local L.A. jokes.


This part about people living downtown LA is pretty on the money.

Keep tuned to the Twitter for all the CARMAGGEDON updates you don't care about because you'll probably be at  Cubs game or a cool street festival or on a boat on Lake Michigan instead of a stupid burnt-out city desperately trying to fix its infrastructure that will probably be destroyed by an giant earthquake in the next five years anyway!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

On the Blog Again...

Well, there's never any post I hate writing more than the one after taking a month or more off for some or no good reason.

I had good reasons, though, and I'm going to do my best to recap the past month or so as succinctly and humorously as possible with a little thing I'd like to call "Highpoint - Midpoint - Lowpoint."

Hopefully, just going over these three things will give a slightly accurate portrayal of each event. I'm going to run a test case first....

FOR EXAMPLE: 'Jurassic Park'

Highpoint: EVERYTHING...but especially "Clever girl..."

Midpoint: "Mommy can you see the fleas?"

Lowpoint: they shoot the raptor and Hammond's all like "Noooo!" Dude, your grandkids are about to get eaten.

Okay, that kind of works...here we go

USC SCHOOL OF CINEMATIC ARTS GRADUATION

Highpoint: Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich's speech. Highlights include "I was rejected from USC" and "You will all fail. I hope you fail soon." Amazing. Perfect.

Midpoint: Sumner Redstone's speech, with a BAHSTON accent so thick it could have been selling peanuts at Fenway PAHK.

Lowpoint: pre-ceremony flask whiskey fill-up in bathroom (also highpoint!)

TRIP TO VEGA$

Highpoint: The Spa at Ceasar's Palace. No question. The pool is a close 2nd.

Midpoint: Losing yet again at my beloved game of roulette. Just didnt get my numbers.

Lowpoint: "This weekend can be summed up as a series of poor decisions and bad luck."

SAN DIEGO HALF MARATHON

Highpoint: Um, finishing? (also post-race drinking)

Midpoint: 6.55 miles

Lowpoint: Running past the mall with the Cheesecake Factory. Really SD? this is the best route you could come up with? All that ocean and I'm running past a Cheesecake Factory? Can't wait to run a real route...Chicago 2012...full 26.2 mi, anyone?


VERY BRIEF TRIP TO CHICAGO

Highpoint: Dinner at Chicago Q w/ fam and beers at Nick & Kelly's.


Midpoint: Burgers at the Billy Goat.

Lowpoint: Russ going beard-to-beard with a crazy homeless White Sox fan outside of Daily's.

JOSE'S THESIS SHOOT - "UNSETTLED" IN WISCONSIN/ CHICAGO


Highpoint: EVERYTHING. Seriously. Filming in the Midwest + great friends + a shocking amount of alcohol. Can't wait to start making stuff in CHI. If forced to pick standout highpoint, I'd say the Wisconsin wrap party complete with party bus.


Midpoint: Some people got slapped.


Lowpoint: When it was over. Also, my being identified with 'salad' the entire shoot and beyond.

FAM VACAY IN AZ


Highpoint: Smores.


Midpoint: Pool.


Lowpoint: Stepping into a cactus.

4TH OF JULY


Highpoint: EVERYTHING. Its America's birthday. Fireworks @Dodger Stadium were pretty good.


Midpoint: Pool.


Lowpoint: 30 minutes for a goddammed Dodger Dog. I hate LA.



So that's it. I actually really like this game. I think I'll use it whenever I hear a long and probably boring story coming...just interrupt: "Um, yeah...can you just gimmie the highpoint-midpoint-lowpoint? I've got blogging to do...."

Anyway, that's been the last few weeks. You may notice a distinct lack of entertainment industry-related events going on...that will change...more USC posts to come and info about the dark and stormy post-grad waters ahead....

Feel free to highpoint-midpoint-lowpoint this post!

- mk

Thursday, May 26, 2011

USC Moment #4 - Acclimating with Cocaine, Heroin, and Gun Violence

After taking a lengthy hiatus from looking back to, uh, you know, graduate, I'm going to try and run through these top moments at USC before the fading nostalgia quickly morphs into vitriolic bitterness.

ANYWAY, for my fourth fave USC film school moment I'm going all the way back to my first semester...good ole' spring of 2008. Back then, a promising young Senator from Illinois was stunning pundits with big wins in Iowa despite being a radical Muslim born in Kenya, the Cubs were looking good early on with mutterin' sputterin' Lou Piniella leading the way, and a very select percentage of cultured Americans were making jokes about drinking milkshakes.

I had been enjoying my whole USC experience so far but still felt an overriding sense of doubt. Did I really belong here? Am I ever going to get over bars closing at 2am? Is it really as hard as people say? That's what she said. Overall, I was rolling along, making movies and sh*t, but still feeling out of place in the land of palm trees and freeways.

Those feelings of doubt went away when something kinda cool happened - my very first film project at USC was selected to be shown to the whole class.

We had a class called "510", where our whole semester class came together to get insight from real-live industry professionals (who were also almost all current USC professors, but that's not so bad..right?) and it was okay, for the most part. Some offered real insight and others were boring as hell. But when the great and insightful editor extraordinaire Norm Hollyn asked for us to submit our projects to examine good and bad editing, I actually got a little excited.


I dropped off a DVD of my first 507 project- a dialogue-free 5 minute short. "507" was the class where you made a bunch of movies by yourself and it was crazy and you made fast friends (or enemies) and got essentially thrown into the "ring of fire" as far as production was concerned. Nowadays, most of the 507 films are like the shuttered-away stepchildren we all like to keep hidden from our new friends and usually end up being embarrassing when they come out in a social situation. Back then though, they were the bees knees!

So lo and behold my surprise some two weeks later when Norm announced he was going to show my dark comedy film to the whole class. I went to the front and Norm said "We probably won't watch the whole thing" (I had made the USC classic "Five-Minute Short Film" with a running time of over eight minutes).

But, we watched it all the way to end. I thought that was the coolest fucking thing in the world.

And- holy shit- people actually laughed.

And not because it was a poorly-made over-acted drama piece. It was a comedy and people seemed to like it.

Now, lets be clear, it means nothing now and meant very little then, except that it was a little sigh of relief that "I may very well be okay here". The class proceeded to pick apart my editing problems but just to be in the mix was really nice. I mean, here I had a real Hollywood features editor suggesting that I maybe should have put the heroin scene after the jerking off scene. Or, maybe I should have intercut the jerking off, the heroin, and the cocaine all together! They were all really good suggestions for changes! (I never made them)

We watched another short (which was really good and charming and funny) and then class ended. I felt invigorated by the showing. I knew we had some really good filmmakers in our class, just in our little section alone with talent like @coog510 and more and so even to be up there and having gotten a few laughs was a real big thrill and made me feel like I could do the kind of comedy I like writing AND people may like it.

I mean, at the end of the day, all this effort of writing/ directing/ producing/ camera operating/ casting/ editing/ getting coffee/ paperwork/  running late/ being stressed/ not sleeping/ asking 'Why God, why?' is all just so that whatever I'm making can get seen by other people and hopefully bring out some kind of a reaction. Ideally a positive one.

It was a moment that, like a super-mushroom on your first lap in a game of MarioKart 64, just gave me a nice and needed boost early on in film school and gave me confidence when I embarked on more ambitious projects down the line.

I decided to finally share this rookie endeavor with the world and now its up on my snazzy Vimeo page, you can watch it here:

http://vimeo.com/24206861

Man, if I could just talk to the excited, nervous, idealistic, Hawaiian-shirt-wearing film student who made that short I'd beat him to within an inch of his life and tell him to start working harder if he ever wants to make it in this town. Then I'd tell him to make a massive bet for the Blackhawks to win the Stanley Cup in two years.

God, what a shmuck that guy who used to be me was. But at least he made a decently funny movie.

- mk

Saturday, May 14, 2011

pomp / circumstance

Graduation was yesterday.

And that's all you're going to hear about it!

So, how bout this weather?


JUST KIDDING.

There's obviously a lot to say about graduating yesterday, but I don't really want to get into talking about graduation and look back at my time at USC until I've....taken a look back at my time at USC. See, I got these other moments recapping the ride I've been on the last 3 1/2 years that I want to get into...and will.

They may just come all in a week or so...I just know things should be a little bit easier now that I don't to deal with all the formalities.

THE POMP.


THE CIRCUMSTANCE.

ETC...

More to come! 

Saturday, April 30, 2011

April is the Cruelest Month

And that's not just the immortal words of T.S. Elliot talkin'!

From what I've heard Chicago has been really rainy recently...

How rainy was it!?


it was so rainy that Mayor Daley decided to start taxing puddles! 


[click here]


it was so rainy the Chicago River almost looked like it was made of real water!

[click here]

it was so rainy that the outfield walls of Wrigley Field were covered in kelp!

[click here]


imgres.jpg


Ah, just a little Carson-esque fun. A laugh is needed though, because April has been a month of little fun and laughs. In addition to the wet weather in CHI, I have my own downpour of work to attend to here in L.A. (I won't say how the weather has been out here, but lets just say it rhymes with kleventy and trunny).

Its been a very busy month - I've been working overtime to get my scripts as close to "show ready" as possible, and there's been a great amount of work here and events back home that I don't want to get into at this time. But it has been rough.

I do feel bad because I was getting so much more in the swing of things with the blog and haven't been able to share some of the few bright spots of this month and keep up on my Top 5 USC moments.

So, just wanted to drop this post so I didn't go the entire month of April without a word.

This year has been just as much work as I set out to do, and I am proud of what I've accomplished so far this semester, but there's still a lot to do. The next two weeks will be a real blur as far as getting anything done, but hopefully I can find some time to keep this thing a bit more updated as we head into May.

Many, many things happening and I want to try and get it all down as much as possible.

Wrapping up for now - I've still got my feature to polish up - but here's hoping that May brings a little more joy, a little less work and whole lot more SUN.


-mk

Thursday, March 31, 2011

USC Moment #5 - Jon Favreau is So Money, Baby

Ya know, in my years at USC I've had a couple of pretty worthless professors (some of the "those that can't do, teach" variety), countless Red Tape Wars on everything from class schedules to copyrights, and have spent enough money to save between 10-12 starving villages in Africa (I did the math. Sorry Kymabai, Kenya! Got movies to make!). But, despite those problems (and many, many more), overall I have felt incredibly fortunate and thrilled to have spent my last three years in at the over-groomed outpost of excess that sits in a sea of urban blight known as USC.

Now, as I mentioned a little while back, I'm taking (Brokaw voice here-->) "a look back, at the top five moments I've had at USC's illustrious and overpriced School of Cinematic Arts." 

My #5 top moment of these past years of USC film school is when Jon Favreau came to campus to talk about IRON MAN and me and a few friends were lucky enough to be clued into it.

Now, there's been a LOT of celebrity filmmaker types who've slummed it into USC's stuck-in-the-1970s iron gates all these past few years. LEGENDARY types. Plus, plenty of really famous alumni. So, with all due respect, why put this guy in the Top 5?

Taking a Matt Dillon-esque tone....




What the Hell is Jon Favreau doing here?




Well, to begin, I want to set the mood a little bit. This was back in the 508 semester (Fall '08) and my friend Jose was assisting for a class that was studying the film IRON MAN and had invited a select few (Smug Alert) friends to the "Favreau class" that night. Now this class was held in a cramped little room in the old, crappy community college-esque Lucas Building, with probably a capacity closer to 25-30 versus the usual 300 that would pack regular big speaker events in the cavernous Norris Theater.

The quarters were so tight you could almost smell the Downey Jr. on him. With such a small setup, Favreau didn't just speak to us, he spoke with us--it was a conversation as close and casual as chatting with a friend at a movie or that annoying guy in the edit lab.

Maybe because of this much more informal setting (more likely irregardless of it) I found it incredibly easy to relate to Favreau and think that "as brilliant as this guy is, he's also a lot like me. Maybe I could be him someday!...not in a creepy 'Mr. Ripley' sort of way or a wacky 'Being John Malkovich' thing, but I could be like him...I could end up making entertainment for a living...maybe".

Why exactly did this relate-ability come across? 

Mostly, because Favreau could not hide how much of a total fanboy he was. Granted, anyone who makes movies is a movie fan, but Favreau wore his obsessive, nerdy fan-ness like a badge of honor: quoting the Simpsons, geeking out over visiting Skywalker ranch, and talking about how surreal it was for him to helm a giant action picture like "Iron Man".

"It's like this big machine, with all these moving parts..." he said about directing Iron Man. "its an unstoppable force--the release date is set: MAY 2ND---and you just have to try and guide it as best you can."

He talked about how different the epic scale of Iron Man was vs. the run-and-gun scrappiness of making an indie film like "Swingers"...at which point I'm thinking..."I'm scrappy! I have guns in my movies...and I run".

He told stories from his early days about being cramped in tiny locations and making split decisions when everything seemed to be falling apart, while also joking around with actors and having a general blast on set. "Now", he said "things are a bit more organized and professional. You can't be making all kinds of on-the-fly decisions when the scene you're shooting that day has been in pre-viz by the VFX people for the past 10 months".


That was what really did it for me: to think that Jon Favreau - who was now an audience-tested, studio-approved A-list director - was once running around, doing shit on the fly, creating and owning his own material, and generally making movies as a guy who's a total nerd for movies.

It was really inspiring, to put not-to-corny spin on it all.

Plus, he was just so f$#*ing C O O L. Favreau was laid back, funny, happy to be there, talked to people after, and just came off as an all-around nice guy. This was also good news, because you often get the idea that evreryone who works in movies is a complete and total dick who like to throw hot coffee on underlings or send Native Americans to pick up awards for them....geez, talk about LAZY.

So just seeing that he was outwardly a pretty regular guy (but still a BRILLIANT storyteller inside) and that he had certain experiences that had, in some ways, mirrored my own - made his visit really stand out to this day...obviously.

BUT, all that "inspiration" and "he's a nice guy" stuff still may not be enough to get to Top 5 range, and the cherry on top came after he spoke.

I split cuz I was incredibly stressed that night (week, month, semester) with 508 and didn't stick around to bend his ear any more. While I was walking back to my car I passed the USC "special guest" parking spots and there it was - a beautiful, silver, straight-off-the-showroom floor Maserati. Parking pass on the dash - "JON FAVREAU"....

Hell yeah!

It was so choice. If you have the means I highly recommend picking one up.

So yeah - he's cool, he makes awesome movies, he's a fanboy, he used to be a run-and-gun filmmaker and he now he drives a kick-ass Mas.

TOP. FIVE.

Then, after standing in admiration for while - and mentally debating "hanging around" the car for an extended amount of time....eventually realizing that'd be both creepy and a little bit threatening...even though Favreau was in "ripped" mode by then...still....I could have had a knife on me....- finally deciding to continue walking, after a while he drove past in his "fuck-you!-in-a-good-way" Maserati down 34th street and made a u-turn by the fountain to head back out the entrance.

I attempted my best casual wave thing....it must have looked like I was flicking some gum off my wrist...I doubt he saw me or let alone remembered me from the class...and I watched him drive away.

I don't know what his music choice was for that ride home to whatever palatial pad he so richly deserves that night, but in my head he got on the 10 at Hoover, looked at that L.A. skyline and busted out the Sabbath.

Or SOME kick-ass -"My Life Rules" song. Some song that would be really....."money".


Yeaaaahhh, didn't think I'd go there, didja?


Well, I did, cause that's what its all about. Iron Man to Elf to mansions and the Mas, all came from one tiny movie he wrote that told a story about a guy who couldn't get over a girl.

Now THAT'S money.

Thanks USC! #TopFive!


-MK

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

CHItropolis

Just a bit o' Chicago filming news - looks like SUPERMAN is going to be shooting in the Land o' Lincoln this summer -


'Superman: Man of Steel' Flying Into Chicago

http://chicagoist.com/2011/03/27/superman_man_of_steel_chicago.php

This news should make most Chicagoans pretty happy as another big Hollywood project with all its fun is coming to town this summer, and other Chicagoans with a Superman-crush *COUGH*NICKDELPRIORE*COUGH* will have difficulty hiding their erections once the Man of Steel starts flying around our beloved skyline.

Pretty good news. Pret-tay....pret-tay....pret-tay.........good.

Course, we'll see if they'll do anything as cool as BLOW UP WACKER DRIVE like 'Transformers' or EXLODE A METRA in 'Source Code' or FLIP A SEMI-TRUCK just like 'The Dark Knight'....

As long as they don't MAKE A SHITTY MOVIE like they did when 'The Dilemma' shot here, I'll be happy.

okay, that might be uncalled for. i didn't actually SEE 'The Dilemma'. It might not have been shitty. I actually wanted to see it! It just seemed like a better target than 'Eagle Eye', which really WAS shitty but also that no one remembers.

BUT speaking of films in Chicago - a not unfamiliar topic for me to cover (See SEP25 and FEB7) - I recently came across a Windy City-riffic video made by the CHI Film Office that showcases almost the past three decades in one surprisingly well-edited video. I mean, wow....this is actually great stuff...its going to take my "Chicagobating" to a whole new level. Get your tissues ready!....




Don't let the cheesy opening fool you...the real opening comes in at 1:10...and its worth watching until the end.....all your favorites are there....


KUDOS TO ...um, ...."LaSalle Bank Facets Multi-Media"...yeah, ....YOU DID GOOD.

Even got some "Stranger than Fiction" in there, one of my favorites that uses the city beautifully but, ironically enough, isn't actually set in Chi-town. Really cool, unique flick with one of the best Will Ferrel acting performances you'll ever see.

But....wow. We got some GREAT flicks. Obviously...so, so many. I don't even know where to begin.

So I won't.

I'll just say that I don't even think we've even scratched the surface of how cool this city can look onscreen.

Don't worry, though - I've got a few ideas.

Sure, most of them involve a ludicrous suspension of belief that a certain North Side baseball team could win the World Series, but hey- do a good enough job and people will believe anything!

Cubs in '11!
 

-MK

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

AARON FUCKING SORKIN

Probably not the most eloquent title for this post, considering its subject matter, but the words above perfectly encapsulates my feelings last night when I spent sixty minutes in a classroom with thirty-three students, florescent lights, and Aaron fucking Sorkin.

The "how" is barely important - just a friend tipped off a friend who tipped off me about this class that was having him as a guest and I went... making myself ninety minutes late to my actual class that night in the process. I regret nothing.

I have made no secret about my strange love and fascination with "The Social Network". But my Sorkin-worship goes back to 'The West Wing'. That show made me interetsed in writing for television- hell, it made me interested in AMERICA.

The man, in short, has been nothing less than an inspiration.

And though I found myself strangely calm as we waited and the professor went on about other issues of the class, the second that Sorkin walked in I zeroed in and was hooked. Hooked on every word, every joke, every quote that I had read in a previous interview and was listening to again but didn't care because Aaron Sorkin had actually said it in person.

I don't think I want to try to recount all of what he said last night.... the hurried scribblings in my Moleskine and my own inadequate memory wouldn't do justice to the wonderful stories he told or the hilarious quips he made or the impact of having him in the room.

Actually, I will say something about him in the room. He takes the room and makes it his love-bride for the evening - like it or not. And its not in a showy way either. He just commands attention, not just because he's an Oscar winner, but because he is so passionate about writing and loves talking about it and loved that we were asking him questions about it. He's so certain about himself and what he does when he talks, even though he is wonderfully self-deprecating and an admitted outsider, that is was just a joy to have him there.

And once he left he was so gracious, even as a group of slightly over-enthused students followed him at a slightly threatening distance to the elevator (myself included), and there was a ravaging of quick hellos and handshakes that took place before he stepped in and I made damn sure to get there and at least shake the man's hand.

"Thank you so much Mr. Sorkin, you're an inspiration."

At first I wished I was funnier, or more brash [READ MY SCRIPT!], or did something to stand out more but that's all I really wanted to communicate...THIS TIME.

I feel like somewhere down the line I will address Mr. Sorkin in a less hurried setting and introduce myself properly. Maybe we'll be colleagues or MAYBE even working together. Cheesy and probably over-idealistic? Sure.

But so is his writing.

Okay, so I do want to share just one word from the evening that I hurriedly write down - the first word I wrote down, actually - as I bookishly recorded what nuggets of genius that stood out to me. I saw it written today and realized it was the most important thing to me, right now in my life. Though I didn't get it at first -

ready?


"moose"


Yep. Aaron Sorkin came to town and opened up his brilliance basket and threw a bunch of knowledge candies our way and I wrote down the word "moose". All the rest of my notes are quotes or sentences but at the top - underlined, actually - the word "moose". What the hell does that mean?

Then I remembered.


It was at the top, when Sorkin was asked when he knew he wanted to be (or when he became) a writer. He told a story about living in New York and staying in on a Friday night - "the kind of night you only get in New York where you feel like everybody else in the city is out with plans except you" - and he had thought of an idea that might make a good play and he just started writing .... "for fun".

See, he had written before, but since he always wanted to be an actor, writing was simply this thing you did in classes and to have lines to read but he'd never write for the sake of writing - until this Friday night. He wrote all through the night and had some actor friends over in the morning and they read it and said "This is pretty good" - and from that point on, Sorkin said "I haven't done anything else".

Now, he preceded that story by describing his life in New York at that time, which was out of school and working a series of temporary jobs - bartending jobs, waiter jobs, service jobs, dressing up like a moose and handing out flyers to people...."all the jobs that you guys are right about to do once you're out of here".

Ahhhh - "moose."

It gave me so much joy that Aaron Sorkin, brilliant scribe of theater, film and television, once had a crappy job dressed as a moose handing out shit to people on the corner. Mostly, because I am on the cusp of an uncertain future and - though I don't see any costumed employment once I graduate from USC - its comforting to know that if things end up with me dressed as a gorilla handing out coupons for MONSTER TACOS at Tito's Tacos for that Tuesday, I'll be in decent company.


- MK

Friday, March 11, 2011

Eyewitness Report: TSUNAMI in Tsanta Monica!

(for best effect, read report in loud, British accent with intermittent static)

Santa Monica, CA - 8:15 AM

As I made my way to the cliffs near the Santa Monica Pier the sense of panic and casual interest was thick in the air. I had traveled to this precarious spot with nothing but myself, my mobile reporting unit (aka my iPhone) a large, black coffee, and La Grand Orange's "Muffin of the Day" - Apple Cinnamon Raisin.

The crowds: gathering. The anticipation: building. The muffin: absolutely delicious.


As I delicately picked at the muffin, taking delight in the fact that it was still warm from the oven, I could not help but notice the anarchy and chaos that was escalating around me. People, driven from their homes by a faint level of interest and an inexplicable lack of a real job that necessitated being in the office on a Friday morning, had gathered along the cliffs - staying a safe distance from what I like to call "THE KILL ZONE".


As more and more presumably unemployed refugees made their way to fence-line that separated safety from certain death, the situation turned from life-threatening to extremely life-threatening. The air became a cacophonous symphony, a veritable violent assault on the ears made up of distant news helicopters, quiet conversation, and the incessant iPhone ringtone "Marimba" as those along the fence received calls from loved ones and friends who actually worked for a living.

As I finished my delectable breakfast treat, I could not help but take stock of the picture perfect day - 70 degrees, sunshine, and a ever so gentle breeze - that made me question how God could bring such an unstoppable wall of water racing towards this idyllic and overwhelmingly white community. Suddenly, a helicopter raced overhead causing some people to briefly look up from their conversations.

I snapped into action and recorded the incident on my mobile reporting unit - 

video


As the copter sped away, I was briefly distracted by a palm tree, and then overcome with fear and a faint dryness in my mouth from finishing the muffin, I quickly took a sip of coffee. It was still warm, and I was still alive. It was well past 8:30 and the tsunami's effects had begun. A slightly-larger-than-average wave began to crash against the defenseless shore. Our nightmare was becoming real.

Realizing that potentially dozens of uninformed individuals back in the smug safety of the Midwest may be depending on me for a window to the destruction, I made a decision that took unbelievable courage and unspeakable selflessness and headed down..... into "the KILL ZONE".

As I strolled down the hill, each "fwap fwap" of my sandals made me realize I was taking another casual step towards the shore and, perhaps, journalistic immortality.

I staked out a spot beyond the edge of Pico Boulevard, where a drainage ditch emptied into the Pacific, and decided that there would be no better spot to bare witness to "the Rape of California", as I was now calling it. 


Before me, the tranquil waters far from the ocean's edge offered absolutely no insight into anything that could possibly be happening. At this point, I began to question my own abilities as a journalist, or, farther still, as a normal human being with the very basest level of common sense. The quiet pool, most likely calming to anyone else who had looked at it, became a humiliating monument to my own lack of rational intelligence. I decided I need to act fast to save face.

I quickly accessed the 'Hipstamatic' Application on my iPhone and took TWO MORE PICTURES, this time, using the digital effects of the app to make the images look more interesting than they had been with just the regular camera.

THE RESULTS WERE SHOCKING


On the second photo, I even managed to capture a lifeguard's truck driving slowly across the small bridge - known by me as "SATAN'S DEATH BRIDGE".

These two images with their manufactured "look" replicating the work of an actual professional photographer gave me an inflated sense of superiority over other, less artistically curious individuals,  who used "regular" camera phones. It seemed my reputation and ego were safely rescued from the metaphorical tsunami wave of self-doubt, self-pity, and humiliation.

At this time, I realized I had strayed from my original mission and - worse still - the fast drinking of coffee and light walking had given my feeble stomach a slight cramp. Time was running out. I made what was no doubt the bravest, most heroic and sexiest decision yet - I would face "the Rape of California" head on and go between 20 to 30 ft from the water's edge. I was going so far into the KILL ZONE that I was now entering the REALLY EXTREME AND DANGEROUS AND VERY ATTRACTIVE TO THE OPPOSITE SEX IF YOU GO ZONE.

I wept briefly, overcome by my own selfless heroism.

As I inched closer and closer to the waves, crashing with nearly five to ten....MILLION times the force of regular waves, I willed my body to press on, despite the threat to life and limb and my still present coffee-guzzling induced cramp, which had not abated as I continued to sip it because it was kind of expensive.

As I reached the area where the quiet pool almost met the crashing waves - HELL'S SATAN'S DEATH ZONE OF ANGELS - I almost felt the awesome power of the moment, and then realized that the actual change in water level would be barely noticeable along the wide beach and that I, like the other sixty or so irresponsible onlookers, was probably just wasting my time.

This moment required documentation, and so I snapped another iconic picture.




The picture gave no in insight at all and I immediately regretted it.

Ashamed, I felt a need to to relate to the common people who had witnessed the possibly-still-ongoing-but-difficult-to-see event. I struck up a conversation with two guys and a girl nearby who were visiting L.A., which went fine until I realized that the girl, who was kinda cute, was probably with one of the other two guys. Plus, she wasn't really that cute. I said my goodbyes to them and wished them well in their attempt to pick up the pieces from this tragedy, which they implied they would do by "probably checking out the boardwalk later".

So, having stared Death in the face, then flicking it off, then having sex with Death's mother right in front of Death, I decided my epic journey had finally come to its completely fulfilling and not in any way faked climax. It was getting late, my coffee was empty, and I was kinda bored.

I trudged back to the cliffs of safety, now referred to as "THE TSUNAMI-PUSSY ZONE", and looked out at the skyline of downtown Santa Monica and wondered if the people in those buildings knew how close they came to absolute and total annihilation, which is to say, not very close at all. 

I snapped a picture to commemorate another of my brilliant insights.


Upon reaching the sweet relief of the cliffs, I realized my brush with danger was not yet finished, as I saw a member of the Santa Monica Police Department Traffic Services Team about to ticket my car for being at an expired meter, the mindless enforcer not knowing of the valiant crusade that had stolen my attention. I had to use my great skills of reasoning and oratory but was finally able to convince the man that, since I had gotten there before he wrote me the ticket, that he should not actually write me a ticket.

He understood and was moved.

Again, I wept.

And so I left the scene, knowing that there may be more to cover and that all the real insight would be available at home, where actual reporters using helicopters and "experts" would break down the effect of the tsunami on the California coast, mostly not noticeable to the average person standing along the shore line.

Looking back, I am blown away by the tremendous ordeal I went through. What really shakes me to the core, however, is the ever growing realization than the past few hours have been little more than an incredible self-aggrandizing, uninformed, and ultimately unfunny waste of time.

And so...I weep,

This is Mark Kosin, Santa Monica, California.....reporting.

-MK

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

ASH'D UP

Maybe its the Catholic guilt of leaving friends and family or just because today's a day where I really do feel the sense of distance between LA and Chicago, but for some reason I like writing on the annual Lent kick off "party" known as Ash Wednesday.

It may also be because I like sharing my Lenten fasting....thing, because if I tell people about it, there's a better chance I'll see it through.

Though, admittedly, my track record is not exactly stellar (remember the 40 for 40 promise?) but it still makes me feel worse when I fail, if that helps.

I always have struggled in the 'What to Give Up" department because, honestly, I like what I like and I don't want to stop liking what I like and not like it anymore. Make sense? Of course not.

But, actually, this year, I took a good look and didn't see many options as to what my fasting sacrifice could be for two reasons, both stemming from the same issue - I'm in film school, graduating in less than 70 days and I need to figure shit out like T-Pain needs auto-tuning.

Desperately.

So here's the rub - 2 of my biggest "vices" - TV and Facebook - are directly tied to my attempt to make a career happen: I need the 'Book to promote The Sin Bin over the next few weeks and I need to watch TV because, well, I want to write for TV. Doesn't do a painter much good to give up looking at things for Lent, does it?

And, in all honesty, I've said "so long" to a couple of vices in Lent years past that arent a big part of my life anymore, most notably - smoking and fast food. I'm not chomping enough Big Macs or puffing enough Padrons to justify anything - giving either of those up would be like Charlie Sheen giving up reality - that waved bye-bye a loooooong time ago.

So, that brings us to the NCAA powerhouse of beverages in my life - the ACC

or: Alcohol, Coffee, and Coca-Cola.

In addition to explaining last year why I don't want to give up Coke, the rational is trumped by the whole "career" thing in that I need those two "C" word beverages to keep me going on these sleepless nights and early mornings. Sure, I could try and go all "tea and Mountain Dew" the next 40 days, but I see that doing more harm than good.

And then there's the big "A"....well....

how the hell am I supposed to RELAX at the end of the day after guzzling Coke and coffee for every other meal?

Usually, I'm so jittery by 11pm that if I try to handwrite anything it looks like Michael J Fox was composing a letter on the Batman ride at Six Flags.

Plus, "A" is another big part of LA industry life....part of the big shmooze. Have a few casual meetings and whatevers coming up, so the lifestyle and the liquid courage come in mighty handy.

So, I'd like to make all these things part of my fasting eventually...like when I have a JOB or whatever, but it'd be just too much unnecessary stress right now.

So, my total puss-out of a Lent plan is start with baby steps and not be such a dumb$*%# when it comes to the whole "Meat on Fridays" thing. In years past I usually forget about "No Meat Fridays" until after I've already started the day with a Sausage McMuffin and a bacon shake.

THEN, I get so paranoid about cutting the meat that I order three times as much non-meat food so I don't feel hungry, and I'm pretty sure that devouring 3 cheese quesadillas with a garbage bag of nacho chips isn't exactly how this thing is supposed to work.

Also going to try and actually get to church on a more regular basis. That seems more important than what soft drink I guzzle while watching my favorite shows about sin written by a bunch of atheists.

Ahhh, hypocrisy - where would I be without you?

So, yeah, that's my plan for Lent this year - stay focused on the basics. Shouldn't be too hard, I think LA is the vegetarian capitol of something, right?

It is an interesting mix we face, the L.A. Catholic - can an exquisitely delicious sushi plate that costs $21.99 be considered "fasting"?

I dunno, is Charlie Sheen #winning?


Well, whatever. I'm doing it anyway!

Makes me think - WWJO? .......What Would Jesus Order?

hmmm.......there it is....

One Red Dragon Roll, please!

No Miso soup, though - I'm fasting!


MK

Friday, February 25, 2011

"Social" Obsession

In case it wasn't clear from my last post, I am going to use this blog like the cheap tawdry promotional tool it is to pump out so much self-serving tripe it will make Duffman - greatest spokeshero of all time - look like a anti-capitalist revolutionary.

In that spirit, I present a little something that's online today that is as much a shameless publicity grab as it is a labor of love - a trailer for "The Sin Bin" that rips off the trailer for "The Social Network" -




Sure, it might be good for the web series, but - let's be honest - this was just something I wanted to do, and it really has driven me to a very simple conclusion.

I am OBSESSED with THE SOCIAL NETWORK.

I was obsessed when I heard Sorkin was writing the script.

I was obsessed when I saw the trailer.

I was obsessed when I READ Sorkin's script.

I was even more obsessed with the trailer AFTER I read the script.

I was obsessed when I saw it opening night - midnight show!

AND SO ON....

And now its come to this: throwing together a trailer that mimics the one that captured my imagination all those months ago just two days before we find out if the Academy is going to give this film the BEST PICTURE award it so richly deserves.

For variety of reasons, I don't like to get into reviewing movies too much on the blog (mostly because I'd be embarrassed to reveal how few films I actually end up seeing....nothing like making movies to help you stop seeing movies...), but I want to lay down why I think I'm so drawn to this Sorkin/Fincher Masterwork.

I have a real soft spot for well-done TIMELY movies; films that get made that really tap into something of the "now". That's why I really liked 'Up in the Air'...it just felt so....2009.

Ironically, I think I have this fascination with "now" because I love history so much and I'm always wondering where I may fit in. There's something about being part of a time and place and a decade and a movement that I really like the idea of. And I don't even mean something political...just part of human progress. What's he point of living in 2011 if you live a life that could fit right in with 1986?

If I wanted to do that I'd just move to Nebraska.

Point is: I like cities, I like current events, I like NOW. And that's why I am obsessed with "The Social Network".

Even though my relationship with Facebook is becoming more distant and detached, divorce clouds certainly gathering on the horizon, there's no denying its amazing transformation of and integration into our world. That stupid social networking site has redefined what the internet is and can be...

"We don't know what it is, we don't know what it will be! What we do know is that its cool"

THE SOCIAL NETWORK not only taps into the creation of this revolutionary website, but I really think it says so much about who we are as a society right now.

The introverted, snarky aloofness of Zuckerberg wraps up America's youth in a nutshell. Been to a bar lately? Have any idea how hard it is to hit on a girl who texts all night?

Yeah, me neither....I'm too busy Tweeting...

Edwardo's naivete and betrayal feel like a just right analogy for the financial mess we're in. And if you want an insight into the entertainment industry look no farther than Timberlake's Sean Parker: smooth, seductive, full of grand promises...but also paranoid, shallow, and absolutely terrified of not coming up with the next big thing.

Plus, the whole idea of Zuckerberg "defeating" the Winklevoss twins...I mean, we live in the age where the smart have taken over...for better or worse. Obama, Zuckerberg, Jobs..etc. Tina Fey is the nerdy queen of comedy while a brainiac like Peyton Manning ( or Tom Brady playing the willing puppet to evil genius Belichick) is the new model for sports glory. Dumb only triumphs in Applebee's or Alabama.

Anyway...I could go on, but I can't imagine it'd be anything more than nonsensical gushing and preaching (of course, isn't that all this blog is?)...

I've made my case. This Sunday we'll see if the Academy voters recognize that there's a special type of brilliance in filmmaking that comes along with tapping into the zeitgiest of the times. Best Picture shouldn't just be about 'what's the best movie' like it is some paint-by-number exercise of GOOD SCRIPT + GOOD ACTING + GOOD EXECUTION, but instead what film speaks most to those watching it, and what film has the most interesting thing to say about who we are RIGHT NOW.

And who is that? A generation online and plugged in.

The internet is how we communicate and get entertainment.

SPEAKING OF ENTERTAINMENT....

...there's a really cool new web series...maybe you've heard of it?




Come MARCH 1ST we're hoping for twenty-two hundred views in two hours.

I'm sorry: THOUSAND. Twenty-two THOUSAND.

Wait...

No, I was right the first time. I'll be very happy with twenty-two hundred views for the first episode.

Maybe we can even become a campus phenomenom....


"Sin Bin me"

Don't know what that would mean, exactly. Just as long as its cool.

MK

Friday, February 11, 2011

Forgive Me, Father, for I have SIN BIN'd

Some EXCITING NEWS in the fast-paced world of technology has broken recently...

And I'm not talking about the new iPhone App that is designed to help Catholics prepare for Holy Confession. That is something I do have serious doubts about. For instance, don't you think that GOD would be on a better network than AT&T?

No, I'm talking about the official launch of the TRAILER and WEBSITE for the new internet-changing web series THE SIN BIN. This is going to be the best thing for the Internet since Facebook and Twitter joined forces to kill MySpace.

Okay, maybe not that exactly. But its still big news.

We actually launched a week ago but I've been so busy that I haven't been able to share the life-altering news with the blogworld until now.

You may remember me mentioning this little project, our hockey-horror-comedy webisode, in a few posts last fall. Needless to say it was a LOT of work. LOT, LOT of work. And we're still not quite 100% done yet.

But I'm so excited that this finished product is something I'll be able to share--instantly--with friends, family, strangers, bloggers, vloggers, weirdos, Craigslist killers, iReporters and Mark Zuckerberg.

Yes, unlike other USC projects which I've taken forever to finish and usually don't share b/c their never really quite done or by the time I'm back in CHI I've forgotten a copy, THIS project can not only be seen via the internet, its DESIGNED to be watched on the web.

Our amazing professor has helped us build our own complete "transmedia" show, meaning that the web show is not just something you watch, but can (hopefully) experience and interact with and have all sorts of fun that keeps you coming back to the website.

Why is coming back to website repeatedly important? Well, a website that people go to a lot can hold a lot of interest for certain entities. Most notably, ADVERTISER$.

Yes, we do love the show and loved making it but it'd be pretty stupid to go through all this if we didn't have our eyes on some kind of prize. In this case, our ultimate hope would be to get enough interest in the website to make some people with money say "I like that. Do that for me and __(insert product here)_. I will pay you."


Now, I'm not saying I want to spend all my days writing quippy one-liners for Clorox Bleach's laundry-based sitcom ....
 
"Can you hurry it up? I'm a little PRESSED for time...."

"I'd like to clear out HER lint trap...."

"Let's just say that after last night, I'm gonna need TWO rinse cycles!!!..."

Aaaaand cue the STUDIO AUDIENCE.

But, the web and getting paid to make web content can be a great way to get a foot in the door or a leg up in the business. Or some kind of body part going in somewhere. At the very least, its a way to tread water until a gig on real TV comes along.

But, I digress. Didn't I say there was going to be some excitement?

Well, you got it. 

Right here, for your viewing (and multiple, multiple re-viewing) pleasure, the "MARK'S GONE HOLLYWOOD" premiere of The SIN BIN Official TRAILER:








Yeah?

Yeah. Pretty good, isn't it?

Its not the "Pearl Harbor" trailer--my personal favorite trailer of all time--but I think its a fun watch and makes you want to know a bit more about the show.

Which you can do, O so easily, by visiting the website - www.theFacepuck.com

Please, click around it a bit. There's some funny stuff on every page and more will be posted every day to keep things fresh and interesting until the show finally has its world internet premiere on MARCH 1st.

But, in the meantime, guess what? You can still support the show!

If you're on Facebook, visit the Facebook page. Make sure to click "LIKE" to become a fan of the show.*

*Warning, FB friends, if in a few weeks time I don't see that you have "Liked" the Sin Bin on FB, I won't just de-friend you on FB, but in real life as well. I don't know excactly how to de-friend in real life, but I'm assuming it involves a lot of whiskey, an ex-girlfriend, and your dining room table.

Now, even if you're not on Facebook you can still support the show by going to our YouTube page and become a SUBSCRIBER to 'TheSinBinSeries'. That way you'll never miss our hilarious new vids coming out soon.


In fact, if you did all these things you would be a really good person. If you don't interact with the site or like it or subscribe at all, I won't be angry.

Just disappointed.

And that's worse.

Plus, I'll be angry.

I'll be very angry, actually, and reach through this computer and bang your head on your crumb-covered keyboard yelling "WHY DIDN'T YOU JUST SUBSCRIBE ON YOUTUBE?! WAS IT THAT HARD?! YOU'RE A MONSTER!"

And nobody wants that.

That's the big exciting news on The Sin Bin, or "ThSiBi" for short. More updates to come to the blog in weeks to come but please, get into it on FB or YouTube for now.


If you didn't....it'd be a.......SIN? 
 

[ APPLAUSE ]


Ah, hahahahahaha.


Goodnight everybody!


-MJK

Monday, February 7, 2011

In 'Code' We Trust

Well, the Packers are Superbowl Champions and I'm not too broken up about it...unlike the Packers themselves, most of whom are physically broken, injured, or waiting at death's door.

Actually, that's just Brett Favre.

No, I'm not too bummed about those Green and Yellow, Lambau-leaping Cheesebrains to the north winning it all because tonight is an event I've eagerly anticipated for months--the premiere of "The Chicago Code" on FOX.

Many who know me are aware that I've been pimping this show like a 1950's cigarette advertiser for the last couple of months, but I just want to lay down again why I'm more excited than Ben Roethlisberger after hearing the words "dropping the charges" about the debut tonight. It's a change of pace for me, because I usually run away from any show that is about doctors, cops, lawyers or Jim Belushi.

I'd actually heard about it a while ago when some friends at USC had seen the pilot in a class back when it was called "Ride-Along". They said A) that it was pretty good and B) that I'd like it because "its about Chicago cops and there's this one scene when this cop gives a guy shit for being a White Sox fan".

$OLD.

Then, I found out that it was written/show-run by Shawn Ryan, creator of "The Shield", who is also a native of the lovely town of ROCKFORD, IL.

Back when the fam used to take trips to Galena like it was going out of style, the Rockford oasis McDonald's was just that--the ultimate oasis of greasy food and a bleach-blasted bathroom--that helped split up the 2 1/2 hour drive.

Not to mention, the guy is a huge Chicago sports fan and obviously has passion for the city of Big Shoulders....so, yeah, we'd get along. Plus, he is one of my favorite people to follow on Twitter, especially during big Chi-town sports events (my favorite was his keeping a close eye on the Miami Heat's "Race to 72 wins" long after ESPN mysteriously dropped the story).

So, good show, good showrunner- but now the best and most obvious reason I'm excited about this show:

It's filmed entirely in Chicago.


It's filmed entirely in Chicago! 


It's filmed entirely in Chicago!!! 


Now, why is this so great? Well, its more than me just getting my own John Hancock every time I see a shot of said tower on TV...no, this is great because its a quality show that is shot on location in CHI.

After trying to get interested and excited for years on mediocre comedies set in in the Windy City but shot in weatherless Burbank (here's looking at you, My Boys, According to Jim, and newcomer Mike and Molly), there's finally a show I can actually be proud of.

(Oh, and lets not forget the absolute abortion of a Chicago-set sitcom known as CURSED.)

But, better still, "The Chicago Code" spurns the blank slate of Hollywood backlots and green screens and actually shoots on location in Chi-town...in its neighborhoods and 3-flats and decades-old L tracks that you really can't get anywhere else....sorry WB Lot.

And its ABOUT the city. They're not just setting something here because it'd fit the "feeling" of the show then slapping a postcard image of the city at the top of each scene and putting a Bears poster on the bar set (Again: here's looking at you, My BoysAccording to Jim..etc),

Its about the City of Chicago and its biggest problem: corruption. Its about the cops who work in a gritty, violent city that is also their hometown. Its about real pride about where you're from and who you root for. Its about "he pulls a knife; you pull a gun. He puts one of yours in the hospital; you put one of his in the morgue. THAT's the CHICAGO way."

Whoops, got a little excited and slipped into Jimmy Malone for a sec. But you get the idea.

Anyway, I'm just saying that it speaks to one of the things I've really come to realize recently, which is that despite the relative wealth of production that has come to the Second City, there are very few--none, really--that do a good job capturing what Chicago is really about. Its people, its attitude, its undefinable qualities that only come from standing at the corner of Washington and Dearborn and feeling a cold breeze from the Lake.

I mean, very few have ever captured the soul of our city the way Woody Allen and Scorcese got NYC or Michael Mann taps into L.A. or even now how Affleck just masterBostonates all over the screen.

Tapping into the sweet home Chgicago-ness in film is definitely something I hope to do one day, once I finish USC and start convincing people to give me money to make things.

But, in the meantime, I think "Chicago Code" has the chance to be the best insight into the true character of this city that we've seen on any screen in a long time.

At least I hope so.

PLUS, if the show's a hit, that means the entire film industry in Chicago will have a consistent job going that can grow our production capabilities even more, perhaps getting some new shows...

DOUBLE PLUS, if the shows' a hit, and I can somehow weasel my way into the writers' room as an assistant and -- gasp! --maybe even write for the show someday....I may actually be able to live out my dream of making movies by day and drinking 312s and Old Styles with friends and family by night.

But that might just be getting ahead of myself a LITTLE bit. Show's not even on the air yet.

It will be tonight though! So watch it! Monday nights are now officially clear of Bears' primetime failures for at LEAST 8 months (not counting pre-season) so you don't have anything else planned!

THE CHICAGO CODE on FOX: 8pm CST/ 9pm in Venice and the rest of PST.

I'll be watching.




*Oh, and here's the PROMO if you've lived in a shame-cave next to John Edwards and Christine O'Donell the past 5 months.



BEST PART - "You think you can change how things get done in CHI-CAH-GO?!"


From a film position....yeah; hopefully.



-MK