Friday, December 19, 2008

The Fix: Thierry Mugler

Shoot it up! It's Theirry Mugler!

Probably the most fantastical designer of the last thirty years, Thierry Mugler is the godfather of dominatrix high fashion. He turns real-live women into comic book characters on the runway. No smoke and mirrors, no CGI, there's no way to deceive you, watching these models is an invitation to shit your pants in the face of awesome. There is always a way to do it bigger and better. Its all in how much commitment you have to sewing a million bugles on a dress and endure the smell of plastic. Here's some visual stimulation to get your next fantasy script going.

The famous Harley dress, that simultaneously empowers and (controversially) objectifies the woman. (ride her hard) ---------->

All about the man:

At a height in the 90's.

Spring: Don't skip the last dress.

His Official Site.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The truth revealed

Romantic Comedies really ARE acts of terrorism on humanity. Or they just ruin your love life by duping dreamers into trying to live out fantasy.

God I hate chick flicks.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Film and the Financial Crisis

We also talked about the inherent opportunity for smaller studios, free of the weight these mega corporations carry, to be nimble and react to the quality products that are sure to change hands as studios try and find buyers. A great example of this that Don gave was Summit Entertainment’s pickup of the “Twilight” book series from Paramount in turnaround.

From a satisfyingly specific interview with Don Starr (CEO of Grosvenor Park (Defiance, P.S. I Love You, Righteous Kill). I want to read Part 2. Thanks to The Screenwriters League for the tipoff.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Fix: Danny Boyle

(So this is the start of a technique I'm using to blog more consistently. This is The Fix, where I talk about something that inspires me creatively at the moment.)

I started mucking around the interweb about Danny Boyle based off of the interview I posted from Variety, and youtube handed me some fine videos of the man giving some real sincere insight on filmmaking. I love this man. He gets me to go all night! (Writing that is! Your dirty mind, he has like a 20 year old kid or something!)

On Child Actors:

On location shooting:

On casting:

On Science:

On storyboarding and prep:

On shooting Sci-Fi:

Charm School

I just had to record this one question:

When the girls on Charm School go into Sharon Osbourne's "office" what kind of work do they expect us to imagine she's doing? I'm sure she's grading some classy essays like a diligent headmaster.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Is Bigger Better?

I recently finished reading a book called "The Devil's Candy", by Julie Salamon. It chronicles the production of "The Bonfire of the Vanities" directed and produced by Brian De Palma. I'd never seen "Bonfire" before but it has a reputation as the infamous bomb of the 80's. The book does a pretty fantastic job of methodically narrating the evolution of a box-office disaster, mainly by inadvertanly pointing out that nothing at the time ever seemed to be terribly wrong. If I was asked after reading the book why "Bonfire" went off the rails, the answer is totally obfuscated. This was no "Lost in La Mancha". It was no one person's fault, and everyone was either just doing their job or acting with the best of intentions. Because the plot totally focuses on racism between the Black of the Bronx and the White of the WASP, its a totally un-P.C. story. How does the studio handle it? This is an offensive story, but we don't want to offend anyone! So lets switch up some races here and there. Oh did we end up making it MORE offensive by trying to cover up the fact that we were offended in the first place? Oops. We were only trying to make you happy by casting the happy Tom Hanks as a total waste of space banker character. Because that's as believable as having Angelina Jolie play the cheek-pinching grandmother in a Christmas movie. Actually, that would be kinda funny. Somebody do that.

But back to the point. The crux of the production is that it went about $20 million over budget and hit an all-time high cost for its time at $50 million. With that much money at stake, everyone was doing double-takes, looking over their shoulder, forgetting the unity and concept of the movie because it had to be painstakingly separated into financial details: could this set be removed, could this actor be replaced, could this line be changed. And while that's all rice and beans in film production, the higher the budget the higher the stakes, and the more the fear. And when there's fear in a production, the film disappears. Movies are incredible in that while being these canvases of smoke and mirrors, these imperceptible illusions, they still reveal an incredible amount. The camera still, among all the lies, finds a way to tell the truth.

If you see the movie "Bonfire of the Vanities" it's so evident. This stamp of fear is practically everywhere. After 500 pages of reading about the making, you kind of forget the movie actually exists, so it's very strange to see it and recognize that everything on the page is seemingly true. The star-mongering, the excessive, stereotypical set dressing, the blatant camera choices, a De Palma staple, but clearly trying to add depth where the foundation of the movie crumbled away. Nothing fits, the movie's shallow and confusing and above all else, is more afraid of its material than anything I've seen in recent memory (for the full plot click here). It is so afraid in fact, that its twist of real issues into Hollywood ones really IS offensive. By trying to appease everyone, it appeased no one, and grossed about $10 million at the BO.

The book does not end happily, predicting a scary road ahead. "Bonfire" tanked due to its excessive spending and at the moment it was a lesson to the studios to keep their money in their pockets. But memories are fleeting and the afterward makes a point that the average budget jumped to $54.8 million in 2000 when in 1980 it was $9.5 million. A mere couple years later or so and Spiderman 3 smashed records by costing $300 million. And I feel like part of the system, part of the problem, because the movie I'm working on now is very big as well. Now that the economy is pretty much imploding on itself like a leaky stress ball, this budget inflation is a goddamn issue. Movies will ALWAYS exist for Americans, but if we're to make any money doing this anymore hopefully there's some change on the way, maybe similar to what happened in the early 70's, when the giants fell to let the little guys show their guns for a bit.

Hopefully slow ticket prices will remind executives to watch their material. Hopefully large chains will be forced to lower their ticket prices, movies shouldn't be and never were a luxury for the public. Hopefully there will be much needed reform in distribution. Film festivals have got to survive somehow. And hopefully the star's asking prices will finally go down to allow all of this to happen. Hopefully I'll still be able to work here.

Working at a studio, passing by big productions every day, I have to say it is amazing how quality becomes subjective when there is a lot of cash to spare. The more I hang around all of this, the more appealing Danny Boyle's words become:

The more money I take that is not restricted, which technically gives you freedom, equipment and more days, the more the spirit of the film dies, falls flat... These instincts you have when filming sometimes are often indulgent bullshit. You feel like a spoiled prince with a hundred people asking you what you want.

Well, clearly, I need to make a movie already. And stop philosophizing on one.

, a

Monday, November 17, 2008

Late Night Review #2

Chromaggia - Sarah Brightman

I have something to admit (other than turning to Paris Hilton's show every week, not helping at all): I'm a big Sarah Brightman fan. I've always been. I grew up in a house that played Opera and Classical music during lazy afternoons. I played classical piano for eleven years. I guess I naturally gravitated to the pop-opera that Brightman produced when I was a lass in the 90's without much musical background other than the local classic rock station.

Sarah Brightman is a funny sort of thing. She stopped being cool to me once I grew up and realized the rest of the world doesn't really recognize her (plus she does all these Christmas recordings... shudder). She's not really what all the kids listen to in the pop culture sinkhole that is high school.

But Darren Lynn Bousman saw hope in what I had given up on. He cast the original Christine in his gothic wonderland "Repo: The Genetic Opera." I didn't know until recently seeing the trailer, and I pretty much flipped my shit. She's singing her usual rock-opera but now around grisly gore and legal murder. Her corsets are not sky blue but black, on her head is velvet hood instead of a crown of crystals, and her eyes glimmer with digital machinery.

Here's my former favorite star, stepping into my world. I'm not much of a goth (can't afford the accessories), but I have always been by far more comfortable in black. It is undeniably satisfying to see proof that this faded star, pushed to the back of musical culture by her own obsession for traditionalism, is now willing to step into a new era. Sarah Brightman is cool again. She loves horror just like I do. And I'm for the first time in a long time proud to say that, yes, I am a fan of Sarah Brightman. I actually have all her albums back to when she first sang with Andrea Bocelli. I'm a total dork. I've even seen her in concert. Yes, I went with my mom and was surrounded by old women. I admit it. 

The world she builds around her is really quite funny. Her persona is swelled into something of a goddess. She performs wearing tiaras and dresses with a train the length of the stage. It has to be theatrically moved by twenty plainclothed dancers. She's always got those dancers... bowing. She's lifted on wires 90% if the time, 30 feet above the stage, as if her body along with her voice can defy gravity (she's lifted on wires in "Repo" too and I started laughing). She's also a fan of the giant swing thing as well. Basically, going to a concert of hers is equivalent to going to see the Dali Lama or something. You might as well walk up to her and kiss her feet and ask for a blessing. It's kind of hysterical how grandiose she tries to make herself. What's amazing is that in "Repo", she's the same star she always was. She's just a dark princess instead of an angel. Actually, in "Repo", the dark princess fantasia does everything to bolster her charm through the roof: she is, along with Anthony Stewart Head (who I could watch for fifteen hours and not get tired of) the saving grace of the movie. 

It's too bad she's not onscreen often and is mostly just an image plastered on walls advertising "Blind Mag in concert". She only uses her awesome mechanical eyes once, which are totally sweet and an element that can only be achieved in film rather than onstage. That's where "Repo" kind of misses out. I liked it a lot, but it was rather weak. It really improved in the last half hour, where the songs became much more memorable and the theater actors had more screen time, and the drama finally cranked to eleven. Other than that the movie's budget was showing, it felt kind of small and underperformed. A lot of blame is to be put on the original story and music: I haven't seen the original opera but it often sounded clunky and vulgar, and english opera sounds bad enough, they didn't try so hard to make english sound any better to the ears with well placed wording. It felt like many numbers were underfilmed. They needed more blocking and choreography to make them seem grandiose rather than lots of intercutting steadicam shots (an entire musical number took place in the backseat of a towncar. The best I can say about it is that it sucked). 

And about story, the film medium simply asks for a different one than is required on stage. I know nothing can be done about it, but when I heard the movie's fantastic backdrop, a dystopian future where the Corporation can legalize murder, I knew there's a much more social story here than the personal one the stage has to focus on. I found myself asking big questions: isn't there more than one Repo Man? What about underground resistance groups? Where's the government? If this movie is about a world where organs are reposessed, can we focus on that rather than this father/daughter overdue love triangle thing because this is the director of SAW movies and I wanna see my main character in that predicament? To be fair, Blind Mag IS in this predicament but you know, she's unfortunately a minor character, which kinda sucks. Its hard to change original source material, but I'm sorry, this felt kinda diluted all across the board. There were opportunities to make the film as bold as the Blind Mag's eyeshadow makeup but those were missed for the most part, as the movie was saddled with backstory about this love affair for a chick we only see in grainy holograms.

It sounds like I didn't enjoy myself at all, but in fact it was still a good time and I encourage everyone to go because there's plenty of fun to be had. Also, I encourage all support for this kind of alternative movie-making. It's definitely something new and different and I'm all for that. The songs do get quite catchy and the costume and set dec are awesome. As stated earlier, Anthony Stewart Head is positively kickass and when he and Sarah Brightman are actually together for the five seconds that they are it's like Robert Deniro and Al Pacino in "Heat". When you see that electricity you kind of realize what the rest of the movie is missing.

Plus, Paris Hilton's face falls off. That's something I won't see on MTV.

The song above, "Chromaggia" is the only opera-like song in "Repo", but it is also the best.

Friday, November 14, 2008

2012 teaser

The 2012 teaser was internationally released today ahead of "Quantum of Solace", the myriad of posters for which I pass by every single day* (Sony owns the Bond license) ...

It was neat to see these few shots develop from basic blue blocks into what you see today, the inner workings of which are absolutely imperceptible to untrained eyes.

By the way, before the release of the trailer the top search for "2012" turned up Sarah Palin.

*No seriously there are three 007 posters in front of the elevators and 20 posters lining the Sony store and 3 giant towering billboards on the lot all advertising the same thing.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


This new video from my good friend from NYU, Stephen Neary, forced me to break my blogging silence. And good thing too! The guilt was getting kind of old. As Burbanked put it, a week is like four months in the blogging world.

come have an omelette with me from pizzaforeveryone on Vimeo.

Visit his blog to see his daily incarnations.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

More about that entitlement thing

“The sooner we have these conversations in the family and as a society,” said Dr. Manning, the economist, “the sooner we can focus on core values, and have a more realistic dialogue about the meaning of happiness and money.” The New York Times discusses it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Business is a state of mind.

This article (10 silliest bits of advice to ignore when running a business) from a site targeting small business owners is just as relevant to people looking to work in Entertainment. The theory of success works in both worlds, after all, business is business.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Update on the post from a few days ago, Oregon Schools have begun requiring students to take personal finance classes in order to graduate High School.

Amazingly enough, such classes are not offered in College either. Who needs to learn practical stuff in college anyways? Pfft.

New York University was an amazing experience. Those four years informed me as a person and as an artist. I emerged tougher and more driven with a formidible portfolio, degree, and many classic memories, but the school is out of touch, often fueled by fantasy. For the most expensive private institution in the United States, it doesn't do anything to inform its students of the reality it is condemning them to.

I have way too much to say about Film School. So much so that I can't pack it all into an article right here right now. The worth of Film School is a double-edged sword, a love-hate relationship, a shifting tide, the wax-wane of the moon, insert other ambivalent metaphors here. I will leave the subject for now, but opinions will bubble up around here every once in a while, as they always do.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Austin Film Fest '08

So I kind of forgot to take pictures while in Austin. I apologize to my family and my friends for being selfish and keeping my memories to myself. Looking back I facepalm because it would have been cool to prove that I met Danny Boyle, David Wain, Greg DanielsTim Kring, Eric Red, the producers of Jericho, John AugustBryan Bertino, and talked with Shane Black and John Turman until 2AM. But the powerhouses were only part of the whole; I thank all the cool people I met and the people I re-met, the lovely programmers, and the city itself, which I was shocked to find out literally turns into New Orleans circa Mardi Gras on a weekend night (and game night!) My mad love of the Alamo Drafthouse has been confirmed, and now we're in a long distance relationship. Austin was like the Irish Car Bomb of Festivals: it's exciting, goes down easy and gets you wasted, but it's not your first nor your last for the night.

Stuff I did/watched/snorted/enjoyed:

Slumdog Millionaire
: Danny Boyle does Bollywood. It's classic Boyle, fast, colorful, octane energy, awesome sequences set to pumping music, but it's story is straightforward, cinematic, and hollywood-y. If ever I was going to watch a romance, it would be Boyle's way, with the politics and state corruption and the social message and the third in hindi. Brilliant.
Danny Boyle and moderator Jesse "Red-eye" Trussell.

Psycho Sleepover: Screened alongside "Zombie Gets A Date." This movie has a one-up on Troma because it's actually brilliantly written. Hysterical. There was never a slow moment and I pretty much couldn't breathe throughout the whole thing (from laughter, I know what you were thinking.) Props to the first five minutes for really hitting the movie off. Others could learn from you.
The Audience at the Zombie/Psycho Screening

Role Models: David Wain is the man. It's no "Wet Hot American Summer," but it's worth admission just for its proper comedic pacing. Thanks for making things funny David. Also, I'm proud to have been personally made fun of by David Wain during his Fireside Chat event.
David Wain, Sean William Scott, Jane Lynch

Too many panels, too many films, it was all impossible to keep straight. The gallons of sponsored Dos Equis did not help.

Until next year with "Soccer Mom" (if it ever gets finished!)

NOTE: "Zombie Gets A Date" will be RE-screening at the Alamo Drafthouse this weekend as a last minute addition to the Zombie celebration "Dismember the Alamo." Remember filmmakers, genre works.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Terrible Television

About a year ago in an AA-style environment, I finally admitted to myself and my friends and henceforth the world that, yes, I am addicted to terrible television. OK, it's kind of nuts for me to be so, what with all of my awareness/complaints about the state of movies today (but then again, who isn't complaining, even if they're not entitled to such opinions.)Reality TV has totally screwed up the system and it's made us dumb viewers focusing on even dumber subjects... and I'm a dumb viewer. I know. I know, I can't help myself. I come home after a long day of work and all I want to do is glaze over and watch dumb shit. My list of favorite shows is long and extensive and deploringly idiotic, mostly punctuated by competition shows: Project Runway, Tabatha's Salon Bitchslap, Shear Genius, Top Chef, Hell's Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares, I Want to Work for Diddy, Charm School, and my favorite, Rock of Love.

I think the secret to my adoration of these shows is down to something innately simple: they're funny as hell. Put aside everything and ultimately you do see the people involved as characters and boy are they funny. How can you not split sides at that chick on the first season of Rock of Love that had melons so big she looked like she had no room to breathe, or the girl/chef/designer that cannot take criticism if it meant they'd keep from falling into a lava pit (I'm looking at you Kenley!) As an extension of my constant habit of observing human beings like an anthro-psychologist, watching these people on TV is another glorious chance to learn more characters, and of course, be entertained by them. I went to a screening of "Showgirls" at a revival theater once and Rena Riffel spoke; the girl's gorgeous but my god she was dumb as a post. And it was amazing. I could have listened to her talk for hours. If that's my reaction to her, then I shouldn't be surprised that I'm kept glued to a couch when a Rock of Love marathon is on TV. I also like to see insolent and ignorant people (and children) get a deserved smackdown (thanks The Nanny, thanks I Know My Kid's A Star.)

I bring this all up because this week marks the second I have actually sat down and flipped to Paris Hilton's new show "My New BFF" on VH1 yesterday. Oh god. It's so bad. I cringe. It hurts. I just know that I won't be able to stop watching.

It primarily fulfills that first requirement of how to get Leetal to love you. Be a visual, visible, shining example of the worst of the world, so that I may watch and comment and loathe and glee in your pain. Because this culture of the new millenium valley-girl is on TV and not in my real life, I am safe and therefore happy to ridicule how you (the contestant) elongate every vowel in the English language and are unable to see how everyone is using you and you have no friends, and still manage to vainly attempt to defend your honor at every turn when, sorry honey, it was never there to begin with. What's different is that, like everything Paris touches (there SERIOUSLY IS a Paris Hilton Midas Touch, I'm telling you) it is unabashedly unafraid to be vapid and flimsy. It likes that it's only concerned with partying and elitism. It's proud to wear pink. Freakily enough, with this attitude comes a slight tone change in the show and the results are rather creepy. What the hell? While Rock of Love indulged in underscored sexism by the view of an observer who let the girls prove themselves idiots, My New BFF is completely encouraging of everyone's actions, actively participating in the hazing, the camera is the Burn Book incarnate.

It IS creepy and you know why? Because of the role model strength that Paris Hilton unfortunately holds. In the second episode, every girl proposed a toast to Paris and called her an inspiration and a role model and beautiful and a goal to genuinely set your life to becoming. And these girls are in their early 20's. Not only has Paris done nothing in her life to actually deserve her wealth and fame, she got it from infamy, sex, and stupidity (her show really is an echo of her...) What about MTV's main audience, the teens and even pre-teens? My New BFF showcases Paris and all of her minions as these heroes, and anyone who doesn't play along is a bitch or a virgin. I'm sorry but this kind of pandering to teens is screwed up. They're already judgemental enough, Paris Hilton's show is not a reflection but an exaggeration of that horribly immature high-school caste system but with no consequences, absolutely no grounding in reality, and offers a reward in the end, Paris's affection, entry into the Popular Crowd. If only there was some inkling that it wasn't just about being popular, that it was about being a personality-filled, entertaining, political, and people-savvy person. The direction of this show scares me a lot, and is part of a bigger problem that scares me a lot more: The Privileged Teen as a role model.

Privileged Teen entertainment is this obnoxious trend I've been seeing where all the entertainment to teens is about characters that are richer, stronger, and have more stuff than them, and take all of it for granted. Gossip Girl, My Super Sweet 16, the OC, 90210, Privileged... it seems to the networks that the only thing kids want to watch are shows about what they don't have, and because the characters are born in money and throw it around so, it gives the impression not of the American Dream but of American Entitlement, that we are all entitled to be rich assholes. Invariably, kids may start to think they are rich assholes, even though they may be in the poorhouse (thanks credit cards!). If kids feel they deserve to be rich and famous, instead of believing in the work that is involved, instead of saving the money from their Starbucks job in a savings account, they go and spend it on $500 sneakers and a $200 Jesus chain because that's what culture told them is more important.

I just wish materialism wasn't so hot on the American agenda. There is nothing emptier than the eyes of a contestant on My New BFF when she accepts that Tiffany ring Paris bought her, overdoses on Paris's fake praise, and calls it love.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The year

For those that know me well, they will sigh a predictable, "Oh right," when I proclaim that the end of this month is a few days past the date I first moved to the great Californay (Sept. 14th, 2007).

God, has it really been a year? What a mess. All month I have been looking back, prepping to write this post, hoping to find a positive light at which to make my current position seem more deserved, seem more awesome and fantastic and magical, but no, the first year, pardon, sucked donkey balls. It was that bad. This blog was created to document and retell the praises AND the horrors of Hollywood for a young-as-fuck film-school grad (I hardly even mention my degree, I promise you, no film-faggotry here) but I rarely posted, and in those trickling moments almost never mentioned my life. But now, on the eve of October 1st, it has come time to retell what the first year in L.A. might be like for you (or you, or you, or you.... or you!) The results are pretty, the journey was not.

I moved here really liking this place. California is green, it's sunny, people seem happier than on the east coast, and you can see the sky. I bought a hybrid car and was exempt from everyone's gasoline kryptonite as its price gradually skyrocketed. I loved that on every corner, especially in Burbank, film related businesses thrived, their signs proudly promoting cinema-puns like "Lightning" or "Post Office" and the titans were peppered in Burbank, too. I drove by Warner Brother's Studios every day and looked forward to the prospect of just experiencing cinema of that magnitude. That was really my whole intention coming here: why make movies in LA if you're not going to make quintessential Hollywood movies? If the budgets weren't big and the people Oscar-winners and the productions mind-blowing then I should just go back to New York City and make my $5 million indies with a skyline you couldn't ever replicate in a computer. So there. I don't want fame. I don't want fortune. I just want to do what I do, and do it really damn well.

First the strike hit. The writer's strike reared it's well-intentioned head right around October, and productions started disappearing. Having almost no contacts, I got stuck right back where I started: Craiglist and freebies, which I was doing while I was a sophomore in college and thought I was over. Apparently not. Work stayed impossibly scarce for months. Improbably so. While the independents boomed as the studios closed up shop, the competition for crew on the productions still unaffected was impossible. That entire few months seems like a blur... I hardly remember what even happened in that haze of depression. I took on an assistantship that pretty much ran me like a shredder in barely three weeks. I returned to interning for companies that never bothered to make me feel worthy. My goal wasn't work big shows anymore, it was just to find a workplace that had good atmosphere and good people, but I couldn't seem to even find a boss that knew what he/she was doing.

But I used that spare time for something: I finished "Zombie Gets A Date" and I finished my feature script. I attended the Tribeca Film Festival and finally felt like myself again, I felt like I knew what I was doing. When I got back to L.A., I moved out of my apartment in Burbank with three actress roommates and into a single bedroom in Hollywood with no roommates at all, for the first time ever. The move killed my bank account.

Then I got sick. I got really sick. I got so sick that my health insurance, valid in New England but not in California, refused to pay even for the procedures I needed for examination and diagnosis. Within a few months I was in so much pain I couldn't work a full 12-hour set day. I was lucky to be working in Art Department on an indie feature at the time with great crew, so they let me lie down in the art truck cab every four hours or so with no questions asked. It was a very scary time, my body, usually healthy to a fault, was completely rebelling against me. I finally had to take an indefinite trip back home to Massachusetts, where my insurance was valid, to get checked out and hopefully treated. A month later hope was restored, and with it an almost brain-probe induced nostalgia for Los Angeles. I came back a complete 180. Look at the trees! Look at the flowers! The sun! My friends! My movies! The pain is gone, now there is LIFE!

Something clicked while I was away. I missed L.A. so badly. Maybe I loved it. And now I definitely do, with all my heart. It has become home, it is home. I have found my hotspots, I see the culture in the architecture, loving the nature, I'm learning to "work it." I get it now. I love this city. All it took was some time away. I finally have the street map memorized.

And that very nearly puts me to the end of my first year. When I returned from the East a whole new person, I was stuck professionally because I had so much time off my trail had run cold. No one who hires was thinking of me anymore (a key ingredient to staying working in the industry to is keep the iron hot, keep your name on the Producer's or the Production Coordinator's mind. If you're not the first they think of, you're not trying hard enough.) My trail was ice cold, so I started from scratch, calling everyone I have met looking for a springboard. I braced myself for another winter.

Then success! The planets aligned and my search coincidentally fell at the same time as a need for a P.A. on a new movie. An unexpected contact led me to the job, and here I am now, VFX PA on Roland Emmerich's "2012", a $200 million movie that's headlining the summer. Our offices are located on-campus at Sony Pictures, which marks my first time actually working on the lot. I am currently absolutely smitten with my job, and I doubt that in the whole nine months (!) that I'm slated to work here I will ever take it for granted. It was a long time coming.

I d have to say I'm disappointed it took this long. I had a lot of false starts, many issues that most people do not normally have to contend with. It was not a painful year as much as a hard-edged one, but what I do pride myself on is making something happen. Whether success was going to happen instantly or five years down the line, I worked hard as often as I could to make things happen for myself. I refused to settle for craigslist ads, while I did those crummy jobs that never paid, I made active efforts to keep the ball rolling, calling, filming, greeting, practicing. Day-to-day it felt as though nothing was happening, but you have to fight such feelings; only when it's dark enough can you see the stars. For those that come here dreamers, it does little good to do that either... I have plenty of dreams, but it's the goals I was moving towards. Those practical, real goals. Acquiring those is what kept me happy. Dreaming is only a motivational tool. It will not get you the job (coping with THIS mode of thinking, by the way, was a difficulty in living with three actresses).

I've been reading a plethora of entertainment related blogs as of late. So often there are posts about what it takes(I guess readers often email with questions about such things.) Some are incredible. Some are horrifying. Some make you think twice.

If this blog is discovered by some kid hotshot who thinks that they can come here just like I did, I hope you assess yourself beforehand. Just consider the math. Film is the industry here. Your chances are higher. Simultaneously, they're lower. What are you going to do about it? It's a tough world, as is the cliche, but as long as your head is to the ground (or you are completely insane, because character counts for at least 50% of getting a job here) it is possible.

There's bruising left over, but there's no real way to fail if failure is another step to success.

Mike Doherty

Monday, September 15, 2008

Festivals Galore

Oh 'tis the season! And by season I mean Halloween! "Zombie Gets A Date" has been gifted with nine more festival performances, check 'em out and maybe one is in your city!

Austin Film Festival*
Coney Island Film Festival
Screamfest LA*
International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival*
Williamstown Film Festival
B-Movie Film Festival
BoxUrShorts Film Fesvial
Olympia Film Festival

*will be in attendance

A triumphant return!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Public Service Annoucement

Watch this show. It looks like the 80's but it was made in 2004. That's the point, the all-encompassing, glorious, effervescent pastiche. It's the headroom, it's the music, it's the crappy continuity, the jump cuts, the blatant sexism, the hideous camerawork... it's more 80's than the 80's. And I love it to death. I've known and loved "Darkplace" for a while, and have recently rediscovered it on DVD (you must have a region-free player, fellow Americans). "Garth Marenghi's Darkplace" is a singular gem that I still have no idea how the hell it was made and actually shown. I mean, this kind of genius, this magnitude of genius, usually gets irrevocably lost. The fact that this exists on DVD form on my shelf and on my TV gives me hope for the future of awesome. Yes, such amazing things exist, and will continue to exist, however few and far between they may be.


"Dagless: I just can't believe the Temp is dead
Reed: It's alright Rick, we'll get another one."

Monday, July 28, 2008

New Discovery #1

Get Rich Slowly.

Psychological calm for the broke-ass artist's mind. I feel like my brain's just had a nice massage.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Video Break #3

Doing my part to push Jeff Stearns, the filmmaker and now a friend, to a million views, here is "Yellow Sticky Notes", one of the films that competed alongside "Zombie Gets A Date" at the Tribeca Film Festival 2008. All the animated shorts at Tribeca were so uncomparable to the rest of the films that a lot of people got to wondering whether the festival should create a separate animation category. This film is a prime example of how animation and live-action, while both telling the same stories, have trouble competing in the same categories because they tell them so differently.

Watch in higher definition at the Youtube Screening Room.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Video Break #2

David and I graduated from NYU animation together. Do you know how many people specialize in Lego Animation? Not very many! (way to be special, dude.)

Phun with Fotoshop

New header design. I've amassed about fifty tutorials to shape up some sagging skills. It's a little overwhelming, but it seems little tips are sticking here and there. I have turned completely insomniac lately and have resorted to desperate brain-numbing measures to cope. Productivity goes way down when you're too tired to think, even if you have all the time in the world to do so.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Drawing Class

Long time no draw. Still life of a doll; it was the most humanoid thing around, so excuse the princessey subject matter. Charcoal on paper.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

And the hits keep coming

Exactly one month after the "Soccer Mom" trailer appeared on Youtube, it has already racked up over 5,000 hits. And this is me not even trying.

Movie will be done soon I promise (she says as she strangles herself with a firewire cable).

Monday, June 23, 2008

Late Night Review #1

Lets assess our three favorite Western monsters in a thematic context. Werewolves: they remind us of our animalistic side, and we fear the regressing to the instinctual need to feed regardless of humanoid emotions or consciousness. Zombies: they remind us of the power of the masses, an allegory for the social side-effect of popular opinion and sheepdom, no thought or individuality involved, with deadly consequences. Vampires:... sex. Really? Is that all vampires are good for? Repressed eroticism? It has to get better than that, no?

Unfortunately, I wasn't quite sure. Honestly, I've liked vampires the least of the horror monsters. Although they embrace a wonderfully gothic feel, Vampires are old news. You barely need to start Angelina's name to know that you'll get more eroticism from this summer's "Wanted" than you'll get from Vampires sucking each other off. It seemed there was no way to really bring the Vampire into today's new era of killer-bacteria and Danny Boyle Zombies. We're already enough of a over-sexed culture, we can't get our kicks so much from some cloaked figure tearing off a Victorian lass's neckwear and kissing her. That doesn't sound so scary.

Then, there's always a film that comes along and does something magical. It makes old things new again. It redefines the genre, it retells the tale, it replaces elements to make you think in a new way; you see with new lenses on the camera. Suddenly the world looks entirely different. 

Thomas Alfredson's "Let the Right One In" does just that. Now, that's setting the expectations a little high, agreed, but the vampire has never received a transfusion as lush as this movie provides. "Let the Right One In" expertly combines the vampire tale with the drama and confusion of the coming-of-age romance. It's tricky territory, but in the end, one is left breathless, marvelling at how a story with so much blood and nasty violence could give way to such a sweet and sentimental whole.

"Let the Right One In" is about Oskar, actually. The mortal. He's a pale-as-ice 12-year old Swedish kid living in a Stockholm suburb in 1982. It's boring, it's reclusive, it's cold. His parents are divorced, his mother seems to be a little harsh for the most part, and he is absolutely terrorized by bullies in school. At night he dreams of taking violent revenge on his tormentors and scrapbooks news articles highlighting violent acts. One day a new girl movies in next door. Her eyes are the size of dinner plates, her hair is black as night, and she smells funny, but one night they start talking in the playground. Although Eli, (pronounced Ellie), says she can't be his friend, she keeps the conversations going and coaches Oskar in bravery. Before long, the two of them have a significant friendship, although it's caked more with mystery and a taciturn don't-ask-don't-tell agreement that makes it all the more supremely innocent. As everyone watching knows, Eli is actually a vampire, and has been responsible for a striking string of murders that have been happening in the town with victims attacked, sometimes strung upsidedown and bled, necks broken. The question is whether love is strong enough to forgive a killer.

Director Alfredson treats the extraordinary like it can be found on your doorstep. Eli's eyes reflect in the dark, she climbs building walls, but only in the background of a wide shot, and keeps her flying to a minimum of just between third story windows. Still, if she needs to, and she does need to, she strikes with a sharp hiss and deadly precision, movements defying her pre-teen body with slight, unsettling modifications. It's no picnic and no joke; Vampirism is a terribly dysfunctional and lonely life, consisting of constant alienation, murder, theft, and nomadism.

What's incredible about this film, aside from the strikingly white snowy locales, the dreamlike shifts in extreme close ups and focus, the sounds of unnatural throaty growling, or the expertly placed soundtrack of lone guitar and desperately depressed strings, is the complexity of the relationship between Oskar and Eli. Is Eli really capable of loving? What exactly does their relationship mean, considering she's sexless? The vampire is of indeterminate age, so does she still have a twelve-year old mind, or does she know better, always one step ahead of Oskar's slow maturation into this world? What's heart-wrenching is that Oskar needs Eli terribly, but in finding a vampire as his only friend, Eli ultimately dooms him, taking his life, his home, and his innocence. But are such losses worth it in the name of friendship? And is loving a Vampire ever "true" friendship?

It's a strange, open ended question to ask people that haven't seen the film, but the conundrum plays itself out alongside vampire myth, if you remember that the classic Vampire usually required a Familiar (a human guardian).

"Let the Right One In" is a stunning genre mesh; it has the blood and the gore, and a few shock and awe points to satisfy those that came for a ride. They will be shockingly surprised to find an incredibly multilayered story of the choices these young children make, and the effects they may have ring through you far after the film has ended. Playing out like snow on thin ice, the movie is soft but dangerous, taking you on a real journey of consciousness the entire way.

The vampire is renewed, and I have been bitten -- I mean, smitten.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Something I did not expect

Something I did not expect to happen anytime in the near future was a return to effects makeup. I worked the last three days on a short about a vampire with a humanized angle. It was superfun to finally do makeup on a horror; sweat, blood, tears, fangs, bites, the works. Interestingly enough, most of the makeup effects weren't originally supposed to be there-- I went ahead and did what I thought should be done and the directors went for it every time. Originally there was supposed to be no bite, no blood, I got them to approve a neck appliance of fang bites the size of nickles (and applied both in under twenty minutes!!) Here is the only picture I have in focus of the lead, but more will be on the way when the set photographer gets back in touch.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Acceptance #2

"Zombie Gets A Date" was just accepted into the Zompire: The Undead Film Festival, which, might I mention, if it didn't get into I would have considered it a failure to zombiekind.

To unlife!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Tribeca Video Bio

The Tribeca Video Bio is online. It is on the first page, click the image of the red-haired chick labeled "Zombie Gets A Date". I apologize to everyone that sees it for it's semi-pretentious nature; I fell sick as a dog at the time and couldn't scrounge up the energy to do something truly engaging. Next time though, eh? Weird to see it up there... and to think people are watching... and reading... me... but I guess that's the point of this blog.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


The new is up, and running pretty. The only glitch is the photos take forever to load, so that will get fixed soon and don't complain to me about it because I already know! Jesus, get off my back!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


This is starting to get a little exciting.

Tribeca Film Fest Guide is online.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Zombie Poster


I will let the minions know when it is time to plaster this image everywhere but your mom. Special thanks to Victoria Nece for her critical eye.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Acceptance #1

"Zombie Gets A Date" has been accepted to its first festival. And it's a doozy, fellas, cuz it's TRIBECA. Zombie will be featured in the shorts program at the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC (which gives me an ace reason to return to the apple for a spell.) Check back for screening updates! Toast? Anyone? This is the biggest festival any of my work has ever premiered at.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Zombie Gets A Date: Complete

The 2 minute animation "Zombie Gets A Date" has FINALLY been completed. And to think the idea came to me on the second day of class in September of 2006. It took nearly a year and a half to complete.

It will go 'round festivals before Youtube claims it. Updates soon as to where it'll play.