More Short Film Adventures – Filming the Short!

I am grateful that the Executive Producers Ramon Torres and Mike Karp have given me the go ahead to share top-secret backstage candid shots with you all on the making of our film project. 🙂

First, the cast is amazing! We have a talented set of actors playing the five roles in the movie. We had a table reading of the script on April 23rd. Here is the complete cast:

L - R: Ramon Olmos Torres, Jessica Zinder, Lou Martini, Barbara Ann Davison, and Kristoffer Infante

L – R: Ramon Olmos Torres, Jessica Zinder, Lou Martini, Barbara Ann Davison, and Kristoffer Infante

 

And then, this past weekend I was on the set to watch and participate in the filming. It was SO exciting!! It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a film being made, nevermind a film that I wrote being made.

 

It was surreal to see actors speaking my lines, and then when the take was over, having the crew cracking up (the film is a comedy). I was humbled to have several of the actors tell me they loved the script and thought it was funny. I can tell you the actors brought so much to the interpretation, they made whatever I wrote funnier.
Also our director, Hiroshi Hara, is doing an fantastic job!
Here are some candid behind the scenes shots:
Me in the middle being flanked by Kristoffer Infante (Doorman Ralph) and our wonderful Director, Hiroshi Hara!

Me in the middle being flanked by Kristoffer Infante (Doorman Ralph) and our wonderful Director, Hiroshi Hara!

 

.

Lou Martini as Allen, the boss!

Lou Martini as Allen, the boss!

.

Close up of Lou's lips on the monitor for a very funny moment in the movie

Close up of Lou’s lips on the monitor for a very funny moment in the movie

.

It takes a LOT of equipment to make a film, and our crew has been really great including Andy Zou, our Assistant Director in the background

It takes a LOT of equipment to make a film, and our crew has been really great

.

Ramon getting a make up touch up and his mic attached. (His character isn't sleeping which is why he looks like that!)

Ramon getting a make up touch up and his mic attached. (His character isn’t sleeping which is why he looks like that!)

.

This coming weekend we will shoot the rest of the scenes and complete all of the filming. Everything has been shot on location in New York City, which is such a great backdrop for this story.

Then it’s off to editing for the final “making of the movie” along with the addition of the soundtrack and score and all the other bits needed for final polish.

More on this amazing, wonderful and exciting adventure soon!

Advertisements

Movie Review: Under the Skin is Underwhelming

Under the Skin, directed by Jonathan Glazer, starring Scarlett Johansson and written by Walter Campbell is the kind of movie you want to like, but can’t for many reasons.

The film opens with a highly abstract Kubrick-eque series of images that let the viewer know something is askew with reality from the start. It’s a kind of 2001 A Space Odyssey meets Aeon Flux meets I don’t know what.

Anyway, pretty soon we get to see Scarlett Johansson naked, while she undresses a corpse of a girl. Ms. J gets dressed in her clothes (hey, they fit!) What a way to go shopping…

Oh yeah, incidentally the whole film is shot in Scotland.

SPOILER ALERT… (don’t read beyond here if you don’t want spoilers)

Then her character (who has no name throughout the film) starts driving around in a van (not down by the river) looking to pick up guys. You think she is maybe trying to prostitute herself, but quickly realize she’s actually looking to seduce men into getting into her van so she can drag them off to a kill house.

All of the “killing” scenes are wierdly abstract. It shows her getting undressed, and them getting undressed. Yes, there are several scenes of full frontal male nudity and I will add the gentlemen in question are in various states of arousal which is, to say the least, not what you see in Hollywood.

In any case, the guys get nekked and then they walk toward her on this glassy black surface. Eventually they sink into the floor and disappear.

Kinda wierd, no?

Yeah.

Okay, well she does that a few times… and by the time it happens for the third time it’s really boring. The pacing of this movie is SLOOOOOOOOOW.

The couple sitting in front of me got up and left before the third guy “died,” and even I was sitting there thinking, when do we get to see the plot unfold?

Answer … the plot unfolds about 2 minutes before the end of this two hour debacle.

Rather than torture you the way the movie tortured me, I’ll cut to the chase. Mind you, this is literally the last 2-3 minutes of this film:

The character is an alien being from another planet. I guess the alien was seducing the guys to feed on them, maybe. (Who cares?)

In the very last scene the alien peels off Scarlett Johansson’s body and underneath is a shiny black skinned bald creature – that still somehow has Scarlett Johansson’s face. Then the alien gets doused in gasoline, is set on fire, runs into the woods, falls down, dies and burns up.

The last shot of the film is the black smoke from the body rising up into the sky. Ooooh, very moody.

And freaking annoying as hell.

Do not bother to see this film unless you are some guy who wants to see Scarlett Johansson naked, then in that case you can contribute to the paltry $1.1M box office this film is pulling in. Good luck with that…

My short film adventure, continued

About a month ago I posted My Short Film Adventure, So Far and this is a follow up post to that.

Lesson number one – just when you think the script is finished, it’s not.

It’s been really interesting to see the process unfold on this project, which I have to imagine is very similar to many film projects.

I was brought on board by the two producers of the film to write the script, but none of the rest of the crew had been hired yet. Including the director. Since I’m a newbie in this space, I figured once I delivered a script the producers liked, that’s what would be used. Not quite.

What I came to understand very quickly, is the relationship between the Director and the writer is extremely important. In fact, for future projects I’d want to know who the Director would be and meet that person before undertaking the writing of a script because the Director has to be comfortable with me as a writer and what I’m bringing to the table, and I have to be comfortable with that person as the Director and incorporating elements that person wants to ensure there is a meshing of the vision for the film.

Thankfully, the Director on this film project has been easy to work with and made some good suggestions about script changes and changing the order of scenes I wrote to enhance the overall flow of the film.

Then, the Director of Photography (DP) also made some modifications to the script based on the fact that the way I wrote certain descriptions would have been very expensive to shoot. (Oops, I didn’t realize that one description would have required a fancy crane shot!)

Then, the producers asked me would I mind terribly changing the ending because the location I’d written for the end scene was expensive and was proving difficult to secure. And if it wouldn’t be too much trouble, could I change the nature of the pet of one of the characters because of other complications. Sure, I said. No problem. 🙂

And so it is that I’ve now delivered version 15 of the rewritten script, which might just be final. Maybe. Probably.

Except that…

I’m going to go out on a limb here (it’s not much of a limb) and guess that no final script, no matter how perfectly written, is exactly what’s delivered on screen. That’s probably a good thing in many cases.

The director and actors will do their job during the shooting of the film which will enhance and modify whatever is in the script, and then there will be an editing process which I’m sure will shape whatever comes out in the end as the final product for the entire crew’s efforts.

But while I’ve been pondering the script and laboring over whatever changes were needed, the producers have been really hard at work doing everything else. That included hiring a casting agent and casting the five roles in the film. I’m SO EXCITED by the amazing cast they’ve hired. These people are incredible actors with impressive credits to their names, I’m sure they will bring the characters I wrote fully to life!

The locations have mostly been nailed down, the director, DP and sound guy are onboard, and the producers keep going. I can’t even imagine how they are getting all this done so quickly.

But for me, the writer, my big event which is scheduled for next week, is a table reading of the script by the actors. It will be the first time the cast has been fully assembled and hearing the actors reading my dialogue will be thrilling.

Just a few days after that, filming will begin! If I’m given permission, I will bring a camera to the shoot and take photos of “the making of” this film.

So, up next, the actors reading my script together as a group for the first time. How exciting is that?!

Blog stats: 18,000 clicks and counting!

Every once in a while I’ll glance at the number of page views for the blog, and today I see that after three years of blogging I’ve just passed the 18,000 page view count.

It’s always hard to know how my page views stack up against “similar blogs” because bloggers do different things to promote themselves.

I’m probably not doing enough to promote my blog, but I’m content with knowing 38o people are subscribed to my blog today, and I’m getting over 200 visitors to the blog each month plus I have a group of regular readers who come by and comment – which I really love.

If you’re a blogger, how is your blog doing? What do you think you could be doing better? (And what do you think I could be doing better, for that matter!)

As always, thanks for dropping by. 🙂

A Canary with a Jazz Mind

A very, very long time ago (so many years I cannot say publically how many!) I sang in front of hundreds of people when I performed in a school play. I was the lead in a musical.

Since then my singing has gone downhill.

Oh sure, I like to sing in the car to the radio or iPod, and I like to sing in the safety of my own home … my potted plants don’t seem to mind.

But singing in front of a crowd? No way.

This isn’t an issue for anyone who doesn’t care about singing in front of other people. And until recently, I didn’t care about that either… until I started to attend a jazz jam in my neighborhood.

Singers get up and belt out jazz tunes there. Some sing beautifully, others sing off key, and they all have the guts to do it in public. I give them credit for that alone, even if they don’t hit their notes.

As a creative type… I like to write, sing, make art, cook, photograph, and express my creativity in as many avenues of my life as possible. And its not unusual to use a recipe, read a how-to book, or get assistance to figure out the best way to improve what you enjoy doing.

And so it is that I decided to get some help with my new goal. I’ve reached out to a professional jazz singer to take singing lessons. I got her info from a musician friend, not surprisingly, at the jazz jam.

My first singing lesson will be in a little over a week. I want to focus on jazz, but I want to sing some blues tunes too because I love the blues.

And it may be silly to say this, but I’m even nervous about singing in front of the singing coach!

I don’t understand my “stage fright” because I’m not shy in other areas of my life. I can speak in front of large crowds without pause. I introduce myself to strangers all the time.

But because I feel apprehensive, it’s a great challenge for me to embrace the idea of singing in public. I’m looking forward to practicing with a pro until we both feel I’m ready to make my amateur debut at the jazz jam.

To be clear, I have no aspirations of getting paid to sing. Ever. That’s a ludicrous idea. But being able to sing in public, being able to sing with others…? That appeals to me.

And so another new adventure begins…!

My talk on short story submissions – 4/30/14

Hi everyone,

If you are a “local” reader in the Jersey City area, I wanted to let you know I will be giving a talk at the Jersey City Writer’s group (http://jerseycitywriters.org/about-us/) on 4/30/14 at our “IndieGrove” location. (http://indiegrovejc.com)

The presentation is called Submit It or Quit It – Short Stories. It’s an encouragement and challenge to the writer participants of our group to commit to submitting their work this year.

I’ll be discussing my journey as a published short story writer, sharing information on how to find markets to submit your stories, and providing materials to help keep you organized during the submission process from pre-submission, through response and post-submission.

After my presentation, there will be a panel discussion with 3 or 4 writers and a moderator. The panel participants haven’t been finalized yet, but from what I’m seeing so far, it should be a very exciting group of people.

To attend the Submit It or Quit It presentation, you can go onto the MeetUp website, and sign up. There are lots of events hosted by Jersey City Writers, so if you are a writer in JC… please join us!

Jersey City Writers

Jersey City, NJ
438 Writers

Jersey City Writers is a community of dedicated scribes who seek to develop and explore their craft by interacting with other writers. We inspire and support each other to be …

Next Meetup

GENRE NIGHT : Sci-Fi : Space Dreams and Dystopia

Wednesday, Apr 2, 2014, 6:30 PM
22 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →