Sunday, August 23, 2009

Birthday Blog

I am celebrating my birthday today. Honestly, for many years I have not been into my birthday. I tend to keep it low key. I am content keeping it small. I guess you can say I am in a better place right now, so I am being a little more open with it this year. My friend Paul J. Alessi wanted to reward me for helping him out with his recent Los Angeles so he set up an encore screening of Night Before the Wedding which sold out it's World Premiere at HollyShorts on August 11th.

The screening that Paul set up for me just happens to fall on my birthday. So it makes tonight's bonus screening that much more special. Everything before and after our NBTW World Premiere has been a big blur. There is a lot I am involved with right now so it is difficult for me to keep up.

Cast and Crew from Night Before the Wedding

Let me start with the World Premiere which I have not been able to write about. We were thrilled to have such a successful event. Tickets sold out the day of the screening. It ended up being standing room only in the back of the theater. It was an extraordinary night. The turn-out and support that we got was such a thrill for me, the cast, and the crew. We were each touched by those who joined us on that night. It is a great start for us and our small film.

The crowd was into the film itself as well. There was a lot of laughter and at the very end, the audience really seemed to connect with the messages of the film. There is this one part of the film that I always believed would go over well in front of a larger audience. My intuition proved to be true as many in the theater will literally broke into applause as that scene came to a close. That provided me with a memory that I will long remember. Something that occurred to me a couple of days after the screening was that I have never had so many people come out and see my work. Although I often wonder if anything I do ever has an impact, this was some form of proof that interest in my work is growing. I am certainly thankful for that.

Living out here in Los Angeles can be difficult. There are so many distractions and the grind and cost of living here do in a lot of people. In that vein, the birth of my second feature is now in the works. In the last few weeks, not only have I been preparing for the NBTW World Premiere, I have also been in Pre-Production on Goodbye Promise which is going to be an experimental, exploratory, improvisational film that I am working on with Actor/Producer Gregor Collins. It's the story of a man who hasn't been able to fulfill his dream and is less than 7 days away from calling it quits.

The inspiration behind 'Goodbye Promise' is that I don't know what is going to happen with Nigth Before the Wedding or with anything I am doing. I certainly have my self-doubts that I battle on a daily basis. I want to explore some of these thoughts and inner conversations I have with myself. The constant struggle of what the heck am I doing here.

We have just finished with casting which has it's share of awe, fun and awkwardness. I am feeling good about the casting decisions we have made and I am looking forward to keeping the creative energy flowing. Another aspect of 'Goodbye Promise' that I haven't touched on is that part of the idea is to have a scaled down production. There will be no crew and no lighting. Just me, my actors and a camera. It is going to be a challenge for me, one that I am certainly nervous about. There is potential for this project to be something that really strikes a chord with it's audience and at the same time it can be a total disaster. There is no script. Like I said, this is not going to be easy. No matter how it turns out, it is going to be a valuable learning experience for me and one that I will grow from.

The rest of the year is going to be busy. Most of which I am going to spend editing. Karen and I are having a great time doing our 'Film Courage' radio show on LA Talk Radio where we interview other filmmakers. It has been such an education for me. Every week I am able to pick the brains of those making a career for themselves in film. If you are a filmmaker or someone involved in film, I certainly encourage you to listen.

To make things even crazier, Karen and I are also planning to Create and Executive Produce a reality-based Web Series that should be fun.

I am doing my best to stay as active as I can and to keep putting things out there. In recent weeks, Karen and I have been covered by 'Behind the 4th Wall,' have been interviewed by 'Steve Nguyen Flip HD,' interviewed by 'BiPolar Nation' and featured inside of Studio City Lifestyle Magazine.

This is the first time I have kept so many things going that it is hard for me to keep up with promotion. I just feel that urgency and a sense that it is do or die time for me. I hope with this kind of action that things will begin paying off.

With that, I am off to celebrate at least for one night. Be back with you soon.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Night Before...Night Before the Wedding

This blog wouldn't be much of a blog if I didn't write my thoughts on the eve of the World Premiere of my debut feature film. And with that, I begin writing this at 12:27am. Let me calculate that for us. If I am not mistaken, I am now 19 hours away from standing in front of what I hope will be a sold-out crowd at the Sunset Laemmle 5. It is certainly a scary proposition, though an exciting one to be sure.

I was on the phone today with several of my actors. Half-jokingly Frantz Durand told me he was going to throw up. Michael Shaun Sandy, who is one of the biggest and most intimidating actors you will find, confided to me that he is nervous, yet thrilled. Karen and I interviewed Actors Johnny Giordano and Chad Davis on our radio show yesterday where they were both candid about their acting journey's. Both admitted how hard it is for them to watch themselves on-screen. This is a common sentiment amongst all the actors I know. They have a very hard time watching themselves on screen.

With that in mind, I am a little uncomfortable finally releasing Night Before the Wedding to the public. It is unlike anything I have done. Those who know me closely will very likely be shocked by the film's content which could easily be summed up as a cross between me and Howard Stern. As I wrote the script and as I went through the process of making this film, I have often found it hard to believe that I was the one responsible for bringing this thing to life.

Overall I am feeling pretty good. This is an exciting time for me and I am doing my best to cherish it. Believe me, I went through years of feeling I didn't have what it takes to make a feature film. Years of struggle and self-doubt. Not that the struggle or doubt has gone away. It hasn't, yet these days I keep myself busier than ever before. Also I have really focused in on the things that I need to do. My mind is constantly gravitating towards the bigger picture and what I have to do to get there.

I really feel like this past year has been a do-or-die time period for me. Kind of a put-up or shut up situation. That has caused me to accelerate my efforts. It is part of the energy behind Karen and I beginning our Film Courage radio show on LA Talk Radio. It is also in that spirit that I have been in Pre-Production on my second feature film, Goodbye Promise, even before my first one has screened. I am actually jumping into the casting process shortly after the World Premiere of NBTW. I anticipate being able to begin filming in September. If everything stays on schedule, I very well may have what I call an Inspirational Trailer online in late September or early October. Will certainly keep you up to date on those developments.

Let's rewind back to me walking the Red Carpet at Opening Night of HollyShorts, which if you read my previous blog, you would know was my first time having such an experience. It certainly wasn't what I anticipated, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a blast. We started out in this massive line waiting to get on the carpet. I was joined by cast members Karen Worden, John Keating, Mopreme Shakur, Sarah Ronaghi, and Gregor Collins. All of us except Mopreme were making our first trip into this kind of spotlight. Finally we got near the carpet. We all watched Ben Lyons being interviewed by E!. Then next thing you know I turn to talk to someone, look back and Gregor was being interviewed by E! and moments later he is pulling Mopreme into the interview. After that we were all on the carpet, amidst the chaos, not knowing what was going to happen next. From what I had heard, we would walk across the carpet and the various media outlets would select us if they were interested in interviewing us.

On this night, the carpet was too crowded to simply walk through. We quickly observed that if we were going to be interviewed by any of the press on this night, we were going to have to initiate it. Thankfully Gregor, was up to the task. All in all, we ended up with 6 video interviews, from E! to Indie Express to Naturally Savvy TV. As we got into it, it wasn't surprising that we had to hustle on that Red Carpet. When isn't it a hustle? I do want to make special mention of Lara Berman from Indie Express. She had done her research and was already familiar with Night Before the Wedding, which was a joyous surprise for all of us. She conducted a great interview as well. Check it out below.

Hollyshorts 2009 Red Carpet Part 2 from Indie Express on Vimeo.

That brings us back to this morning where I planned on spending a majority of my day hunting for a Blu-ray export for tomorrow's screening. Previously, I spent about a week investigating an HD Cam export. Trying to work out deals and barter arrangements but no one would bite. The standard HD Cam was out of our price range. All the post-houses I contacted were stubborn and wouldn't budge on their prices. Then, I found out on Friday that Blu-ray was another option and would be in our price range.

Then a miracle happened, as Gregor worked the phones, he contacted Dave Rosen of Absolute Post. Dave wasn't able to take us on under such short notice, but he referred us to Salem Rabadi of New Generation Media Services ( who was willing to work with us and our budget! Salem came to our rescue and provided us an HD Cam export a day before our World Premiere. Here I was getting nervous about being stuck screening on DVD because we weren't able to make any magic happen. In addition, DVD's are more prone to have problems. Salem was super cool and our savior. I plan to thank him and Dave tomorrow night in addition to this space. So now we will screen on glorious HD Cam.

I have never seen my work screen at a legitimate movie theater. I am certainly going to grow as a Filmmaker tomorrow night watching my work on the big screen, especially the fact that it will be on HD Cam. Thank you again Salem.

As this blog comes to a close, there is one last thing on my mind. And that is of the outpouring of love happening. I feel the love as I ready for bed for the night. Outside my circle I am not sure how much awareness there is of the Night Before the Wedding screenings tomorrow. I can say that within my circle the support has been phenomenal. Whether it's friends from the east coast calling me to tell me they wish they were here, letting me know they are here in those locally who have already bought their tickets and cannot wait to come out and see the film. Let me shout out to David Mullin, Neil D'Monte, Sal Vernali, Johanna Park, David Spaltro, Gary King, Jamin and Kiowa Winans, Scott Mossman, Robert Katrini, Steve Kreiztin, Bryan Carter, Benjamin Pratt, Angie Palmer, David Estes, Darrell Womack, Sam and Dina Hasson, Parrish Gocha, Matthew Prater, Chris Kelly, Eme Ikwuakor, Jessica Duffy, and Brian Durkin to name a few. We have sold more than half the tickets for the 7:30pm showing, and we have a ways to go on the 9:45pm showtime. My hope is that we will sell-out the 7:30pm which will then force late arrivals to buy the 9:45pm tickets so that we can have two strong showings. Please wish me luck.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

On the Eve of HollyShorts (What I Have in Common With Demi Moore, Eli Roth and Kirsten Dunst)

The Opening Night of HollyShorts 2009 is set to be another fantastic extravaganza. The film festival has grown tremendously in just 5 years. Festival organizers Theo Dumont, Daniel Sol, and Erica Sardarian work on the festival year round and it shows in its development.

Tomorrow is going to mark my first appearance on the Red Carpet. It is quite a surreal thing for me. Honestly, I could easily do without walking the Red Carpet. It doesn't matter to me the way it does to so many people who seek fame. What I seek is to be a working director. To earn my living through the films that I make.

The truth is that no one knows who I am. So as long as people do not know me and do not know my work, when a Red Carpet opportunity comes along I am going to seize it. I am going to embrace the experience, have fun and live it up. I want Night Before the Wedding to succeed and we will not have a better opportunity to promote than what we will face tomorrow night. All the major media outlets will be on hand. Though they are there to interview Demi Moore, Kirsten Dunst, Eli Roth, Jason Biggs, Jennifer Love Hewitt, not David Branin. Though that is nothing for me to be concerned with now. As I said, I am just going to go out and have some fun and soak it all in.

The hardest part so far was decided what to wear on such an occasion. Karen loves HollyShorts and she wants us to get really dressed up. In my mind, I am thinking it is going to be hot, so I wanted to dress a little more casual. Guess what happened? I bought a new suit today. If you can guess how much I spent on my suit today (if I didn't already tell you : ), I'll send you a Free DVD Copy of my short film Shoot-Out.

I am not sure what shirt I am going to wear with it, that's one of my main tasks for tomorrow. Guess you will know when photos begin popping up online.

I have been juggling various NBTW pitches and ideas in my head. I am trying to anticipate some questions that may be asked. Of course it could get really embarrassing if no one wants to interview us, so I do not want to get too far ahead of myself. Though I have to be prepared just in case.

I hope to have a whole new batch of red carpet photos and stories from the to share with you very soon. Wish me luck.