Sunday, December 9, 2007

Maurice Jamal's Dirty Laundry

Last night I had the opportunity to attend one of the many sold-out NY premiere screenings of writer/director Maurice Jamal's new film "Dirty Laundry." I must admit I am always a supporter of independent filmmakers, especially those done by other out men of color. His first feature, "The Ski Trip" which seemed to play endlessly when the Logo Network first premiered, was rather disappointing to me. However I was very happy to see that the film, about a group of Black and Latino gays and lesbian who go away on a weekend getaway to cheer up their newly dumped friend -- which also included Emanuel Xavier (one of the hosts of Out at the Center) in the ensemble cast-- getting the play on the network in the first place. This was prior to the premiere of the now classic series "Noah's Arc" of course. The thing that disappointed me about "The Ski Trip" was the broad scope of stereotypical gay characters portrayed. Not to say that people like these don't actually exist in real life, but I guess I really wanted to see a less buffoonish representation of gay people of color than what had previously been shown in other films prior to "The Ski Trip." With the exception of the lead (played by Maurice Jamal), I thought that some of the characters were more caricatures rather than grounded in reality.

Whatever my personal reasons for not being a great fan of "The Ski Trip," I have to say that Maurice Jamal has certainly won me over with "Dirty Laundry." In addition to some well known actors starring, including Rockmond Dunbar (from TV's Prison Break), Loretta Divine (the original 'Lorrell" from Broadway's "Dreamgirls") , the always flawless Jenifer Lewis and hysterically funny Alec Mapa, the story was well constructed and quite entertaining. For his second feature, I think Maurice Jamal has redeemed himself as a filmmaker. A filmmaker that I imagine (and hope) we will see more great work to come from in the future. This film in particular has more crossover appeal not just to the LGBT audiences or the African-American audiences, but anyone who has ever had a family (dysfunctional or otherwise) and had to make decisions that alter one's path. From a filmmakers POV I thought that the production value of the film was a major step up from his prior film. It was also inspiring to me, as a struggle to get my thesis film produced, that there is an audience for comedies such as this. It gives me a major boost of hopefulness for my own project.

Also at the premiere was Nathan Hale Williams (one of the Executive Producers) and his partner Author/Activist (and Associate Producer) Keith Boykin. I have been a big fan of Keith Boykin's writing ever since I first read "One More River to Cross" (that I loaned to my friend Paul Andrew Lucre -who is sitting across from me on his laptop as I type this post -many years ago and he has since become a fan of Keith Boykin's work as well) and I refer to my tattered copy of "Respecting the Soul" almost daily to help get me through the day. As a black man and an out gay man, it's a comfort for me to know that there is someone else out there who is making a voice in my community. Also at the premiere was Jenifer Lewis and as I was leaving I saw, the very funny Erica Watson - who in my opinion, stole every scene she was in as the gold-toothed Clalrine - in the lobby of the theater.

I can't say enough good things about this comedy except you have to see it for yourself and take your family members to see it too. It's just ashamed that this film hasn't gotten the promotion that big budget films like Tyler Perry's "Why Did We Get Married" has gotten or the other current film with Loretta Divine, "This Christmas." But this is the why people have blogs to get the word-of-mouth out about why you should add this film to your MUST SEE list!

I also wanted to mention my music video that I posted many months ago (were I caught Will Smith on the set of the upcoming film "I Am Legend") has been getting a lot of hits recently. Thanks to all of you who have checked it out. I plan on going to see this film as soon as it comes out since 1) I think Will Smith is very hot for a guy with big ears and 2) I really liked the original film version --"The Omega Man" starring the sorta hot Charlton Heston -- that scared me silly when I saw it as a kid. In any case I plan on seeing Will in "I Am Legend."

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Mira Nair and World AIDS Day

So much has happened in the past few weeks I don't know were to begin. For starters I met one of my directing idols, Mira Nair. I had the opportunity to meet her at a retrospective of her work last Sunday at the IFC center. They showed her new short film called "Migration" which dealt with HIV transmission in India. Mira has never shied away from taboo and hot button topics. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why I have always loved her work. It was very apropos for these few weeks since today is World AIDS Day.

Speaking of which, this morning I help with camera work at a World AIDS Day event held at the Center. It was a concert followed by a candle lite vigil and reading of the names of those who have passed from this dreaded disease. The concert was very moving and spiritual with invited classical artists and vocalists. I should also add that if you get the chance to see "Migration" you should. It was very powerful filmmaking.

In addition to viewing Mira Nair's short film, all the attendees were given copies of the new DVD release of her film "The Namesake." It had some really incredible special features that would be of interest to many film student. One in particular are excerpts from one of her courses that she teaches at Columbia University in the Film Program over there. She even has invited guests that come in and offer commentary on the film producing process. A couple of my professors studied with her at Columbia and said it was a very good and informative course.

I'm still trying to get my film financed and find a key location in which to shoot. I tried posting an ad on Mandy.com but eventually I was rejected because of my "fund raising" content. No bother, I will post it here on my blog in the meantime. See Below:

Executive Producers

I am currently in the process of trying to get my student thesis film shot. I would like to shoot the first weekend in Jan or sooner depending on availability. I am looking for 1 location in exchange for an Executive Producer's credit on the project. The film is a comedy short that I plan on entering in all of the LGBT Film Festivals worldwide upon completion. The potential for marketing products and services to this audience is also a plus for those interested in being involved. I currently have a documentary that I'm entering in festivals.

I am looking for 2 things that would be good for anyone wishing to build up their resume with Executive Producer credits:

1) One interior location of one New York City apartment. All 10 scenes take place in the bedroom (1), bathroom (1), living room (7), and kitchen (1). Ideally the door to apartment should open to show kitchen and/or living room but I'm flexible.

2) Funds! This is my thesis film for graduation and it is my responsibility to find money to defray cost of equipment rental, prop and wardrobe, catering, post-production cost, etc. The film program that I'm in doesn't teach a class on how to exactly do this, however it is expected. Unfortunately for me I wasn't born in the Coppola or Spielberg families, so I am trying this route.

My school only gave me 12 weeks in which to complete this film. However, after many, many failed attempts to start this (and many doors closed) I'm trying a different approach and I hope that someone, somehow, somewhere out there reading this will be able to help in anyway possible. Who knows maybe you could say one day "Yea, I was an Executive Producer on Billy Marshall Thompson's thesis film!"

Serious interested parties should contact me via email and we can set up a meeting and I can show you my Director's notebook for the project as well as my current reel of my work. I should add that the small cast includes 2 small dogs and 3 adults. The crew includes 6 adults. I should also add that I got an A on the script (and maintain a 3.88 GPA) and all of my professors are big supporters of my project and the belief that I can make a good film.

If this sounds like something that might interest you please contact me or if it sounds like someone you know might be interested in, please forward this posting to them.

Thanks,
BMT


Friday, November 16, 2007

Filthy Thesis Madness!

Slowly, but surely, my thesis film is beginning to take shape. I was finally able to find 2 dogs (one owner) who didn't object to the subject matter and will allow her pups to appear in the film. That is one less headache for me now.

One of my professors gave me a compliment the other day and I've been beaming about it ever since. I had told him that the owners of the first set of dogs I had cast had decided to bow out of the project due to artistic differences after reading my script. Professor Ezovski said, "It's only because it's filthy!" Most people would have taken that as an insult but not me. I know that John Waters has been called "the King of Filth" since his introduction to the indy film world back in the 70's with Pink Flamingos. So for Professor Ezovski to say that to me made me feel like I could one day be "the PRINCE of Filth!" Who knows?

But I still need to raise the $2,200 to start shooting and then I'm done. I know that it doesn't seem like a lot of money but I really can make this film for this amount of money. Maybe I should send my script to Mr. Waters and see if he'd finance it? Hmmm, that's something to think about. I went location scouting with my Production Designer, the wonderful Elba Estela, last weekend and I'm hopeful things will start to come together soon. I also met with a Product placement broker the other day and discussed options for product placement as a means of financing the piece.

EVERYONE who has read the script says that it is definitely a great script (and not really filthy, depending on how you define "filthy" and NO ONE is ingesting doggy doo in my script either! Ewww! Even I have my limitations) and would do very well in film festivals. I'm hoping to hit the LGBT festivals the moment the film is scored. If I could only find the one location that I need to shoot the piece I'd be able to rest a little easier. If there is anyone out there reading this blog (and I know that millions of you do!) who lives in NYC and would be interested in allowing a small film company to use your apartment for 2 (possible 3) days to shoot, what will one day be a masterpiece (and be the talk of Cannes and Sundance), please email me and we can take a meeting to discuss the details. Anyone who lets me use their space to shoot will get a credit as an Executive Producer! Now wouldn't that be something to brag to your friends and family over the holiday get-together's? "Yea, I just EXECUTIVE PRODUCED a film by an up-and-coming filmmaker. More a pino grigio anyone?"

Anyway I hope that I can get this thing done before Christmas so that I can edit it and submitted for my grade. That would be Lover-ly! Honestly, I've been so stressed out this week trying to get this thing together I almost forgot to call my mother yesterday to wish her a Happy Birthday. The day before that I lost my eyeglasses and walked around half blind for most of the day. I even filled up my frequent guest card from Crumbs (1 punch on card for ever order of coffee and a cupcake you order). Next week I will be able to get a free cup of coffee (or tea- LOVE that Earl Grey with soy milk!) and a cupcake of my choice. Speaking of which, yesterday I had a "Brownie" cupcake which is another way of saying "DEATH BY CHOCOLATE." Today I had the Caramel Apple and it was so good I got stares from the inhabitants of the lab were I was editing as I ate orgasmic bite after, orgasmic bite. Just thinking about it as I type this entry is giving me...never mind... I'm determined to keep this a clean blog.

Anyway I realized the other day that if I don't get this film finished soon I'll never be invited to the Independent Spirit Awards and walk the "green carpet". Or I'll never meet interesting people like John Waters (or for that matter, John Amaechi.) Just so I can tell J.W. just how much his films have influenced me as a film maker and tell J.A. just how much his book meant to me as out and proud gay black man. Either way, I will finish this film even if it means I go without dinner for a week or two. After suffering from "cupcake nirvana" this week, I could stand to loose a few pounds. That is how determined I am to get my thesis film done.

The sacrifices one must make for one's art.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Overwhelmed!

This week in the world of film school...in a word: INSANE!

I found two dogs to play important roles in my thesis film and a few days later the owner decided that the property wasn't what they thought it was going to be. So no I have to find 2 more dogs. Ideally I think the dogs will probably come from an owner or owners in Chelsea since that's where I posted the most casting notices for the dogs. In addition to my casting set-back, I have found some really cool crew members to help me with my project. I have also enlisted help from my good friends (from way back) in the business world (1 attorney, 1 accountant, and 1 marketing executive) to help me find benefactors who wish to become Executive Producers (by writing a check) and help me finance my thesis. Part of my grade will be based on how I was able to raise money for the film. Nobody ever said that producing a film was going to be easy.

I've been so busy this week that I made the really tough decision that I must drop one of my general education courses because the work load is so overwhelming, I would never be able to devote my full attention to the class. Which really sucks because I really like the course. However I was told in Financial Aid that I could take it next quarter, however I will loose all the money I paid for it because it's too late to get drop a class without a penalty, however if I stay in the class, my grade will suffer. I'd rather loose the money than have a lower grade.

The internship has been great too. I've been doing a lot of production work (mostly camera work) in addition to the editing. Tonight for instance I had to do camera work for a author reading at the Center. The segment will probably be put in a future episode.

Right now I'm back at school burning a DVD to turn in tomorrow for my midterm for my Internship class. It is a demo reel. The problem is that nothing is working the way it should be and now I'm cranky and still have to go home and study for my Sociology midterm tomorrow. On top of that I missed "CSI:Miami" tonight and "Prison Break". I wish I could be 2 people right now. Or maybe I wish I could have a cupcake instead.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Script Changes, Cupcakes, J.A. and Halloween!

Sometimes I forget holidays on days when I have to go to school or work. Holidays seem less important when you live alone or have no children of your own to enjoy them with. Or, in my case, when you are low in funds that Holidays are just meaningless at times. It's not that I don't like holidays, it's just that I never saw the excitement in going out and dressing up and acting a fool in the streets. Maybe I just too jaded in my middle years. I remembered that today was Halloween when I got off the subway to go to my internship (in the West Village). Need I say more? It's hard to miss what day it is when you see many costumed folks walking the streets. And not just children either, I'm talking grown folks!

Yea, I guess I'm just cynical in my old age.

I'm at school now working on my After Effects project for tomorrow. My project was to do DVD authoring and create menus for my reel that I will soon have finished by the time the thesis film is done. In the meantime, I have to compile a set of clips together that will go into the demo reel portion of the DVD. I also had a long discussion with my thesis advisor yesterday about the ending of my screenplay, "Poppin' In." She had suggested some changes that now that I've had a day for it to sink in, I realize now that I have to make some minor changes to the script before I start shooting. As for shooting, I'm still going over resumes for crew members and I'm having my first read-thru with my full cast over the weekend. Which I just happened to schedule on the same day as the New York City Marathon. Oh, the joy the streets will be on Sunday. For the first time this week, I really wish I could clone myself in order to get more work done and somehow, get some sleep time in too.

I started a MySpace page this week along with a Facebook page as well. After I put in all the information on the MySpace, I realized that I should have signed up for an account as a filmmaker in that section of the complicated site. Oh, well. I kinda like the layout of the Facebook better and it's easier to navigate too. I hate doing something because everyone else is doing it, but I've been told by persons I respect that in order for me to get more of presence for my blog as well as for my film company, it's a good idea to get accounts on these pages. Who knows what could happen. Maybe I could get more work after I graduate out of it? Maybe I could meet the man of my dreams? Maybe it could turn out to be a nightmare? (I'm going with the "halloween" theme here -- work with me). Maybe I could be stalked by an ax murder and my body could be hacked up into tiny pieces and shipped all over the world? Yea, I'm morbid sometimes? I'll have to keep you posted on my MySpacing and Facebooking! (are those even words?)

Anyway, yesterday while I was at my internship I was searching for a previous segment to be included in a special we are doing for World Aids Day and I happen to come across the interview from the April 2007 episode that would have made me tell "massa where the slaves were hiding" just to have been at: John Amaechi at the Center! One of my colleagues actually did the segment and met him and told me that he was super nice. Ah, that lucky girl! But in my infinite wisdom, I know that guys that look as good as John Amaechi, wouldn't even give a second look to me. But one can dream. One... can...dream :-)

Anyhoo...

Today's cupcake selections from CRUMBS are the Twinkie and a Strawberry Sprinkle Cupcake. In a word: LIPSMACKING! I know that if I keep making trips to CRUMBS like this and eating more cupcakes I will be as big as house. Which is fine with me, since no one is looking at me anyway, I may as well get fat and plump. At least with extra weight on me I can keep warm in the winter sleeping by myself.

I wonder if John Amaechi sleeps in a king sized bed? I wonder if he ever read my blog? I wonder if he ever ate a cupcake from CRUMBS with a nice spot of Earl Grey? Hmmm. I know I would never have to worry about keeping warm in the winter with him. Ooh, I sound devilish >:-)

Oh, and BTW, I was just kidding about the selling out the slaves bit. Just me being Silly Billy!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Casted, Crashed, and Cupcakes!

Well first of all I want to let ya'll (that's "Southern" for "you all") know that I have completed the principal casting for my thesis film. It's a comedy short called "Poppin' In" (interpret the title any way you may see fit). The three leads are (shown from left to right) Amon McDade-Johnson, Sharon Gee, and Wayne Chang. As most of you know, I wrote the script with Wayne in mind after working with him on my PSA earlier this year. He is very talented and very funny (despite the dramatic look on his face in the photo). Amon and Sharon both came in and gave exceptional readings. Originally, I got literally hundreds of submissions for these roles and saw countless actors before the decision was made to cast them. I know one day, when they are rich and famous and living the "celebrity life" I will remember the casting process and thank my lucky stars that I "knew them when." I'm really excited to be over the casting hurdle for now, however I still am not clearly out of the water yet since I have still have to cast two canine roles. I know people must think I'm crazy because I've been going to almost every pet supply store, pet hospital, and pet beauty parlor in Chelsea (and there are tons of them in that neighborhood) leaving fliers advertising for the two lovable dogs to play in the film. I feel somehow, something good will happen soon. I sort of feel it in my bones. Hopefully cameras will start rolling very, very soon.

Today it finally happened: my portable external hard drive that I have to bring with me to school everyday since I started--crashed, sort of. It's was inevitable to happen since the year warranty expired a few weeks ago. Everyone else in my class has gone through the same thing. But thanks to the helpful resources from the IT department here at school (where I'm writing from at the present time) -- Mike, in particular -- I was able to salvage all the work that I have stored on my 250GB drive. Whew!!!! It had to do with the connection cables and not the drive itself, so instead of having to purchase a new hard drive, Mike suggested that I walk around the block to CompUSA and purchase a fire wire enclosure for a fraction of the cost of a new drive. I brought it back to school and he replaced my hard drive in the new enclosure and
violá: it worked! Was I ever relieved!

Anyway I think the reason why I didn't freak out initially when I plugged in the unit into the Mac this morning and it didn't work was that I was completely relaxed. This is due in part to my very good friend Paul Andrew Lucre, who gave me a meditation CD last night. Paul is visiting for a few days and he gave me this CD to help calm my nerves. It's called "1-Minute Meditation" (I think) and but the time I listened to all of the different segments (22 in all) I was so relaxed that I farted! Needless to say, I'm feeling very mellow today.

My new find this week: Crumbs! I'm a big cupcake ho. There is nothing like a delicious cup cake that make you want more. So much so that you dream about eating another one. I was a big fan of Magnolia Bakery down on Bleeker Street in the West Village, until I discovered Billy's Bakery in Chelsea on 9th Ave and 21st Street. Then I bit into a cupcake from Buttercup Bake Shop on 2nd Ave and 51st Street and was floored by the savory taste (thanks Osmond!). Then I tasted what I think is the ULTIMATE in cupcake perfection: CRUMBS. There are several locations in the city, but the one I frequent is the one close to school across from Bryant Park on 42nd Street in the ground floor of the Grace Building. Lately, though, I've noticed that the lines are getting longer and longer (just the way Magnolia became after Carrie and Miranda gorged on the tasty treats on an episode of Sex and the City). But I have to admit, they are slightly pricier, but they are bigger than the average and the variety of choices is unbelievable. But get there early if you want to get a Boston Creme or Red Velvet. Okay, I may not be a fan of the Boston Red Sox, but I do like that cities' creme delicacy. Those Boston Creme cupcakes are so good from Crumbs it would make you slap your mama!

I'm getting hungry just thinking about those cupcakes now. Gotta go, bye!

****************************************

Addendum:

Okay, I just bit into a Boston Creme cupcake from the above mentioned bakery and to quote Riley Freeman from "The Boondocks" (after tasting his granddad's latest hamburger concoction, "The Luther")
: "Whoa. This is what crack must feel like"

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Final Quarter Begins! (Warning: Includes Spoiler about Sex and the City movie)

It seems like only yesterday that I started attending film school and in a few short month (providing that I finish my thesis film) I will be walking across the stage accepting my Associate of Applied Science degree. I never imagined myself at 43-years-young, finally becoming a college graduate, so to speak. I have been investigating schools so that I can further my education and get my bachelor's degree because I really like going to college better than I did when I was 18. I guess it's true what George Bernard Shaw (pictured, left) once said, "Youth is wasted on the young." Because when I was young and in college I never took the time to realize just what a valuable opportunity I was afforded. Now, 20 plus years later I have the chance to do it again and I am LOVING IT!!!!

This quarter I am only taking 4 classes, Internship, Video Production & Editing II (a/k/a Thesis class), Literature and Composition, and Sociology.
This has only been my first week of taking all this courses but so far, I can tell that I'm going to get a lot out of it. Originally when I came here, I never saw the reason for all the general education courses, but now I see why it is required. It only enriches you as a human being when you open your mind to subjects other than the your major field of study. And, in all honesty, every general education course I've taken here has helped me more with my film studies and helping to become a better writer, director, producer, and most important, it's helped me to become a better man. Something that I never expected that would happen.

For instance, my Internship class basically is a class that meets once a week with Professor Dillon and we discuss ways of working toward our personal goals in addition to how to make the best use of your individual internships. This past week at my internship I participated on an project for an upcoming segment to be shown on the show. In the two and one half hours that I did camera work for this segment, I learned SO MUCH about things that I, in my 40+ years, had no concept of before. I wont' go into detail about it, but it was eye opening for me. There are certain things you just can't learn from reading a book solely. Not to say that reading books aren't good -- my head is buried in a book almost all the time now --
but life is a great experience when you just LIVE IT!! It's amazing the things you can learn.

I'm really looking forward to both of my GEN ED courses this quarter (even though I passed English Lit & Comp with a B while I attend Pace University in the 80's). The Literature and Composition course will only aid me in becoming a better writer and the Sociology course will aid me in seeing my world better.

My
Celebrity Alert today includes a SPOILER--you have been warned: Today outside on 40th street in about 10 feet from the building they closed down the street between Sixth Avenue (or Avenue of the Americas) and Fifth Avenue because they were filming scenes for the new "Sex and the City" film. I saw little Sarah Jessica Parker (Carrie) in "wedding gown" and Cynthia Nixon (Miranda). I heard that Kristen Davis (Charlotte) was there but there were too many people and I didn't see her there. I think Evan Handler (Harry) who plays her husband was there too. There were so many spectators around there, that I'm sure someone has footage already up on the web. I hope they've finished out there because the street was way too congested. However, big budget filming brings income to the city of New York. So I shouldn't complain.

Too bad I didn't have my camera with me. Oh, well....

Monday, October 1, 2007

Thesis Pre-Production, Internships and Very Little Sleep

It's been a little while since my last entry because school was crazy the last two weeks of the quarter. I had to finish my thesis script, get an internship, compile my reel, finish an EPK, scout for locations for my thesis film (in addition to most of the preproduction stuff), and volunteer what "free" time I had at the IFP Market for school credit. Needless to say, I haven't gotten a lot of sleep these past few weeks. Even though I'm on my school break until next week, I'm doing some hours for my internship at the LGBT Community Center Media Center. They produce a monthly television show called "Out at the Center." It's pretty cool and I'm honing my skills as a preproduction/postproduction person.

As far as grades go, I did pretty well this quarter 3 As, 1 A- and 1 B+. I was shocked that I got As in both my general education courses (Western Civilization and Verbal Communication). Okay, I'm not "that" shocked about the Verbal Comm (a/k/a Speech) class because I love to talk anyway, but the history course was a challenge for me considering all the other stuff that I had going on this past quarter. The B+ was for my Video Production/Editing I class (a/k/a the EPK class) considering I had 2 professors for that class, I'm a bit shocked that I got such a low grade, unless you count the times that I didn't make it to class for a couple of sessions. I am happy about the Script Development class. I think I worked really hard for that grade by turning in an excellent Director's Notebook for my thesis.

Speaking of Thesis, I'm casting again for my new film. It's a comedy short that I plan on entering in all the LGBT Film Festivals. But again, I'm having the problem of casting like I did when I was doing the PSA back in March of this year. This time I'm having trouble finding middle-aged Asian women, African-American males (between 25 to 35), and a pair of bulldogs. It's funny how some people don't even read the cast breakdowns clearly because I can't tell you how many people want to audition for the roles of one of the canine characters! Go figure!

I plan on having my first round of casting this coming weekend. For more info check out the casting notice at craigslist

Thursday, September 13, 2007

My NY Yankee Dreams

I was so happy today to be able to walk from the subway to my school and watch the tents being dismantled over at Bryant Park! That means the streets will be safe from the fashionistas that have invaded the areas for the past week and the prices in the local delis will go back to normal. I can finally start to exhale a sigh of relief.

On the pre-production front, I'm still working on my Director's book and trying to secure a location to shoot. Casting notices will go out in about 48 hours from now. Next week will be the last week of my 5th Quarter of Film school and I'm both nervous and excited. I'm close to getting an internship. I was told that my volunteering at the IFP Market will count toward some internship hours. That was a relief to hear because I've been sending out resumes and cover letters and going on interviews all this week and had hope to secure something by the end of the week.

My celebrity siting this week: Terry McMillan. At least I think it was her! It sure looked like her trying to hail a taxi last Friday on Sixth Ave at 25th Street. I'm sure it was her because I know what the woman looks like and she wasn't hiding behind gigantic designer shades either. If not, I'm sure someone reading this will let me know otherwise. I was on a bus going uptown when I saw her. She looked fabulous! Maybe she was going to catch a show at Fashion week? Who knows?

Okay, about the photo at the top left. I found it surfing and I truly believe that it's not Photoshop. Between you and me, I've had dreams about this. Funny, why am I in the mood for a "Jeterarod" sandwich every time I look at the photo of my two favorite Yankees?

Hmmm....

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Fashion Week Sucks!

Okay, it's that time of the year again that I've grown to hate living in New York City: Fashion Week. For one thing, I go to school directly across the street from Bryant Park and my school, Katharine Gibbs, happens to be neighbors with the official hotel of Fashion Week: The Bryant Hotel. Needless to say there is so much traffic congestion on 40th Street, it's enough to make me want to scream! Also if you go to any deli in the area this week, it will be hard to find 3 things: yogurt, bottle water and cigarettes - the supermodel diet! Not that I smoke, but if I did, I would have to go outside of the vicinity of Bryant Park to find my smokes. Most of the guys in school (the straight ones anyway) love the fact that there are gorgeous supermodels walking down the street ignoring them as we make our way past the police barricades to get to school.

It started last week almost right a week after the Monday Night Film Festival ended. In the summer, Bryant Park shows old movies that start at sundown on Monday nights. They show really films that run the gamut from classic to camp, musical to drama, action to family and the such. Some of the films that they showed in the past have been "Psycho", "To Sir With Love", "Annie Hall", "Rosemary's Baby", and "Casablanca." Sometimes it's a lot of fun to chill out after work on the lawn with a group of friends, a picnic basket and a bottle of wine and watch a film from yesteryear all as the sun goes down on a hot day. But once Labor day hits, the fashion crowd invades the park and the climate changes in more ways than one.

I'll admit it's interesting to watch the limos and town cars unload on 6th Ave in front of the entrance tent on 41st street. Lots of famous faces, I've seen make the trek up the stairs over there. But living here in the city, you can sometimes get jaded by seeing celebrities walking the street. It's the tourist who live in the Midwest that get the big rush out of seeing Sly Stallone or Anna Wintour pound the pavement. Frankly, I'm long past jaded. I even get upset sometimes when I can't cross the street in my daily routine because: "We're trying to get a shot. Can you walk across the street?" Ask any New Yorker about what it's like to have any of the many "Law & Order" series shoot in your neighborhood, and you probably will get a negative response.


Don't get me wrong, any time there is a film or television production shot here, its good for the economy. The only thing you have to watch out for is crossing the streets or being kept from entering your apartment building because
Mariska Hargitay or Sarah Jessica Parker is shooting a scene.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Things are looking up!

This has been an incredibly busy week for me. I made the Dean's List again and they had an award ceremony this week that I was too busy to attend because I had classes back-t0-back that day. I got a gig as a tutor at school helping students with Final Cut and Final Draft, etc. But most importantly now I even have a cell phone! Things are really starting to look up. I started submitting my resume for internships this past week. I even finished my EPK project this week. My rough cut is due tomorrow but I have to get to school first thing in the morning to finish it for class at 9am. Today the school is close, othewise I would have been in there at this very moment editing myself into a tizzy.

Now I can concentrate on getting my thesis film done. It is a comedy that everyone who has read it says it's HILARIOUS! All I can say is that it stars Wayne Chang and I know it will be a fun project. Pretty soon I'm going to post an ad for actors and animals for my film. Yes I did say animals! My script includes a couple of English Bulldogs that look like the ones in the photo above. But most importantly I need to find location, location, location for my piece that I know will be the hit of the film festival circuit once I get it complete. If anybody reading this knows of any locations, dogs or crew that can enhance my project please drop me a line. Or if anybody reading this blog would be interested in being a Producer then DEFINITELY drop me a line. I think I will soon hold a backers reading to get some money to get this thesis film done with style!

Today is Labor Day and in my neighborhood it's the West-Indian Parade. Needless to say the noise level has been really loud around here as I type my entry on my laptop. Thank God for headphones!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Shooting Footage, Comedy Writing and The NY Fringe Festival

This has been a crazy week again for me. Today I shot some footage (known as B-roll) to accompany the interview and other visuals that I will incorporate in the EPK (Electronic Press Kit) that I am doing for my 5th Quarter project. I'm doing it for a for a music producer/sound engineer who has his studio in DUMBO (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass) and I feel that it will be a great project because I've gotten more comfortable with AVID Xpress Pro and my instincts as a cameraman today were on point and I think I went away with some truly awesome footage. I have one more day of shooting (the interview) and then production is complete and the post-production begins. Hopefully I can have it complete before Labor Day that way I can fully focus on my thesis project and the pre-production.

Speaking of the thesis film. I handed in my 2nd draft last week and got my notes today. So tomorrow I will hand in my 3rd (and hopefully final) draft to my Script Development Professor. I don't know, but I have a really good feeling about my thesis film and I think if I can secure the locations and cast, I think it will be really magical. So in a few weeks I'm going to post casting notices for actors and crew for the film. I'm really excited!

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to attend a performance at the NY International Fringe Festival that one of my very good friends, Bambi Engeran is performing in with her theater company from New Orleans. It is called "Sustained Winds" and it was PHENOMENAL! I really liked its multi-media mix of theater, dance, song, and photography. I think it's only running for a few more shows at the festival and I strongly suggest you go see it! Check out the link for more info.

On a very sad note baseball lost a legend this week, Phil Rizzuto. He played short stop on the Yankees for his baseball playing career. He will be missed. The world of entertainment lost a great this week as well, Merv Griffin. I remember as a child watching his talk show and I will always think of him whenever I watch my favorite game show, Jeopardy.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The (Crazy) Week That Was!

Right now I'm home because the subways are not running out of Brooklyn due to the heavy rain that we had overnight. I walked to 4 train stations this morning to be turned away by MTA workers and told that the trains were our of service or MAJOR DELAY. One woman I spoke with in the street said that she was sitting on the 2 train for 30mins and it wasn't moving, so she said "screw it" and got off. (Well, she actually used another expletive, but I was cleaning it up here). Anyway, I'm watching that GORGEOUS Mike Woods on FOX-5 News talking about the miserable weather and the region-wide flooding. But enough about the weather, it' too miserable to talk about (although the sun has just come out)

So much happened since my last post, but good and bad:
  • We lost 2 film giants: Ingmar Bergman and Michaelanglo Antonioni. Both directors passed away on the same day, July 30. They legacy of film genius will live forever
  • Barry Bonds passed Hank Aaron record yesterday and hit his 756th homerun
  • On this end of the country, ARod hit his 500 career homerun (GO YANKEES!!!!!)
  • I finished writing a new script. It's a comedy short that I will film for my final thesis and I'm really, excited about filming it because everybody who has read it thinks it's really funny
  • I finally saw the new film version of HAIRSPRAY. All I can say is I LOVED IT, LOVED IT, LOVED IT!!!! Seeing John Travolta as Edna Turnblad was worth the ticket price alone
  • I gave a speech in my Verbal Communications class yesterday, titled "How to Get on Television Without Having to Eat a Cockroach". It went over well. I just spoke about what I knew and spoke from my heart, although I don't think I'm going to be a political speech writer anytime soon
Speaking of Hairspray, everyone who reads this knows how big of a John Water's fan I am, but I must confess: I liked this musical version better than the Divine/Rikki Lake original. But I think Divine would be proud to see that John Travolta played the role that he originated with such dignity and class. Also, and this is nothing against Harvey Fierstein (who was GREAT as Edna on Broadway), but John Travolta has a nicer singing voice and we all know that the man can shake his ass! As far as the rest of the cast: Michelle Pfeiffer (as Velma Von Tussel), Queen Latifah (as Motor mouth Mabel) and Christopher Walken (as Wilbur Turnbald) were simply great. But I think Allison Janney (as Purdy Pingleton) and Nikki Blonsky (as Tracy Turnblad) STOLE THE SHOW!!!!

Okay, enough for now.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

2nd Week of 5th Quarter

Well, here it is, the 2nd week of my fifth quarter at film school. That's why I haven't made any entries in almost 2 weeks. It's been crazy. On top of that I was going through some health issues, but I finally got a clean bill of health so now I can exhale. Lots of changes this quarter that I am finding both interesting and challenging. Unfortunately, another one of my favorite professors left school as well. Professor MacGillivray took another position we were told. I wish him much luck and he will be missed. The professor who replaced him is Professor Marshall and he is very cool and very funny (not to mention very easy on the eyes too}! I have a feeling that I'm going to really like this Script Development Class. I've already had to submit 3 ideas for a film that will be my thesis film that will be shot next quarter. I've decided to do a narrative short and all I can say is that I'm writing it to star one of my favorite actors that I worked with earlier this year on my PSA, Wayne Chang. He is a great actor and my short is a comedy and if there is anyone who can pull it off, I know it's Wayne. Plus he's a joy to work with. I only hope he can fit it in his schedule and is available when we go to production.

I'm also taking a Video Production/Editing class that meets 3 days a week and is taught by 2 professors. Professor Ezovski teaches the Editing part on Monday and Wednesday while Professor Garcia teaches the Production part on Tuesday. Like every quarter we are expected to produce a project for our final grade. For this class our project is the EPK (a/k/a Electronic Press Kit) and since the quarter only goes 10 weeks this summer, we have to do it at a more rapid pace than projects in the past quarters. I think I have a client but I don't want to say right now because I don't want to jinx myself. Whatever happens, I have a feeling that it will be fun doing it and not as crazy as the last 2 projects. Professor Ezovski says that most of us will probably wind up doing lots of EPKs when we get out of sch00l because the time factor that it takes to make them and they can be lucrative to make some $$ to pay for your other camera and editing equipment (not to mention: paying off the massive student loans!)

For some reasons they are the only 2 Digital Film classes that I have on my full schedule this quarter, sort of. I am also taking Career Development which is suppose to prepare us toward finding an internship that is my requirement for next quarter. Even though it's technically a general education course, it's geared specifically to the Digital Filmmaking and Multimedia Program. Professor MacIntosh, who teaches this course is an industry professional who is actually taking off for 4 weeks to attend some film festivals that she has her work in at the time. She is very cool and I have a feeling that I'm going to like her class a lot. I also think that I will DEFINITELY find an internship that I will like after taking this class. She already got us to volunteer for the upcoming IFP (International Feature Project) Market thats happening in September here in New York. Well at least some of us in class registered for it already, I don't know if some of my classmates are really into "volunteering" as opposed to getting paid. Boy, won't they be in for a rude awakening in the real world once school is over for them. While all of us sitting in the front row are updating our resumes and doing our research, everyone else from the back of the room are known to watch movies and play computer games. Imagine, paying 40K to go to school just so you can surf the web? But I digress. In the meantime, I am busy working on my resume that desperately needs to be updated to reflect my current career aspects. I just have to remember to take off my resume that position that I had for a brief time period as a fluffer. Hmm, good times. Good times.

Anyhoo, my other courses this year are general education courses that I think will be easy. I'm taking History of Western Civilization and Verbal Communication (something that I've NEVER had a problem with). The only bad thing about both of these courses is that they both meet once a week so, I really can't miss ONE class because participation is 10% of your grade. However I already missed one (my second of 9 classes - no class on Labor Day) Verbal Comm classes because I had to go to the doctor for a follow-up for a procedure I had done 2 weeks ago. I had an "internal struggle" (Ya see, the script development classes are working already!) trying to debate whether or not I should skip the class to see the doctor (it was the only day he could see me at the clinic) but in the end I realized that my health is more important. BTW, it's better knowing that you are healthy even if it jeopardizes your 3.92 GPA. I just have to work extra hard to make up for the class that I missed on Monday. I actually had to give a speech. I emailed my professor and she told me to be prepared to give it next class. I actually prepared a speech about one of my favorite directors whose work has always been an inspiration to me, John Waters. Monday afternoon when I go into my class the speech must be
ON POINT because I really can't afford to get a bad grade. I only wish I could afford to go see "Hairspray" (which just opened to RAVE reviews BTW) over the weekend, but funds are low. However I'm open to any guy that would like take me on a date to see it! :-) Of course, I'm a EXCELLENT date when dinner is include as well! (wink, wink)

The history class is interesting too. I know I'm going to like it because it's a small class and Professor Jacobs seems to make the class very interesting despite the subject matter. It's funny but I never appreciated subjects like math and history when I was in high school but now, I guess because I've grown older, I have a better respect for these subjects. This class has LOTS of reading, but it's actually rather interesting so far.

Anyway I'm trying to sell some of my textbooks back to the bookstore but they just want to give me "some" credit and not cash (the cheapskates!). I went to Barnes and Noble on Fifth and 18th Street to sell some and either they didn't want them because they had them in their system as "no value" or they wanted to pay me $5 for a book that cost over $85. I don't think so!

BTW, I wasn't really kidding before about the date to see Hairspray, however I was kidding about my prior employment as a fluffer. It was really more of an internship.

Later.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

John Amaechi and Amaury Nolasco: Why do I feel having like a sandwich now?

Right now I've had a couple of Vicodin and I'm currently feeling no pain. I had the Vicodin because I'm recovering from a minor surgical procedure that I had a on Wednesday of this week. So now I'm just on my laptop about to post an entry wondering if anybody is out there reading my blog about my exploits as a film student being a black gay man of 40 plus...

Speaking of being Black and Gay, I finished John Amaechi's book, "Man In the Middle" a few weeks ago and I want to put down some of my thoughts about what I thought. First of all I have to say that I find John Amaechi incredibly HOT! and I hope that I get the chance to meet him in person one day. He is OH SO MY TYPE! Reading his memoir it read like I was reading about my life in many ways growing up feeling "different." Like him, I was was a overweight kid who had issues with my size growing up and was constantly picked on by other children. I resorted to reading and buried myself in books too. I felt that I related to a lot of what he was saying as a gay man too. I would love to have a family even though society may feel indifferent to a gay man raising children. He is now a psychologist living in the U.K. and he has proved that not all athletes are big and stupid. He is a very bright man and, in my book, what I would call "husband material." He's funny and has a good head on his shoulder and is very comfortable in his skin. Just like me. Maybe I should move to Manchester, England? I'm sure if he is single, he won't be for long. Besides what would he want with a 43 year old unemployed college student with a 3.94 GPA? Okay, it's the Vicodin talking now. Moving on....

I saw the film "Transformers" on the 4th of July with my friend Donald. No, Donald wasn't in the movie, I just went to the theater with him to see the movie. Am I making any sense? Anyway I was happy to see that another HOTTIE was in it: Amaury Nolasco. Of course he was a totally hottie as well in the film. Oh the film itself was pretty silly plot wise, but technically it was GENIUS! The whole time I'm sitting there watching it, I'm thinking to myself, "how'd they do that?". The mix of CGI and SFX with the live action was seamless. I had no clue whatsoever as to what was going on story wise, but I was so taken away with the techniques incorporated to make these "Transformers" transform before my eyes on screen. I was never a fan of the original cartoon that the film was based on but I am a fan on great SFX. I smell an Oscar nod.

I picked up my books for the next quarter yesterday. I'm excited because it looks like my 5th quarter will be very exciting too. Oh I also wanted to mention that if you get a chance to get to the New York International Latino Film Festival later this month, don't forget to check out "Lola". It's a short film written and directed by one of my favorite professors, Betty Garcia. I remember back in March around my birthday Betty had asked me to assist her with her shoot but because of a scheduling conflict I wasn't able to do it and she shot this short. In just that short amount of time she wrote, shot and directed and now it's premiering later this month at this film festival. I'm so happy for her I know that it will be a success.

Friday, July 6, 2007

The Grades Are In!

Okay, so my grades are back and I'm still on the Dean's List for this quarter. Yeah! I made and A in four subjects and an A minus in one. The A minus was from Composition and Motion Graphics, Professor Byrne's class. Honestly, I thought that was generous. But I feel lucky for having gotten an A in both of my general education courses, English Composition and Critical Thinking. Okay, I knew that the A was in the bag for English, I'm a writer after all.

I'm on my second week of vacation from school. I've been re-editing Daphne's music video. (I got an A on it by the way). I've also been preparing my documentary, "Measure of Life" for distribution to film festivals. I guess even though class is out, I'm still keeping busy. I suppose that is the life of a film maker. I better get used to it.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Smile, the 4th Quarter of Film School is OVER!!!

On Wednesday morning my After Effects professor, Bill Byrne came into class and asked how everyone was doing today and I said fine. He said "you have a big smile on your face?". I told him that it was because I had a good night sleep and was well rested. Which is true but not entirely. The reason for the smile on my face was because as I was walking from my last class to his class (it was down the street), and a really cute guy (okay, he was a HUNK) smiled at me. I smiled back and after I passed, I turned around and he was still smiling. If I wasn't in a rush to get to my next class, I would have went back and said hello. I guess you could say that the real reason why I was smiling was because I can't remember when it was the last time that a really cute guy smiled at me. I read somewhere once that when a gay man turns 30 he is over the hill and when he turns 40 he practically has one foot into the grave. I sometimes believe that being gay and 43 I mostly feel invisible. But that's okay because with age comes wisdom and sometimes I think that having some wisdom goes farther than having buns of steel.

The reason why I'm happy today is because my Flash website is finally up. I just have some minor tweaks to work on, but otherwise, I like it better than the disastrous site I did in Dreamweaver during my 3rd Quarter. As far as my grades go, it's anyone's guess. I know that I will probably get a A in at least one class. The dean's list doesn't look too promising for this quarter but I may at least make the Honors List. At least I was able to complete every assignment and hand them in for all my classes.

The one sad thing that I found out yesterday was that Professor Byrne is leaving the school to move to out of state for personal reasons. I, for one, will miss him extremely. They say that in every person's life there are teachers that will always leave an impression on you. For me, Professor Bill Byrne is one of those teachers. From the day I first met him at the student orientation, I knew that I would like him off the bat. He is crazy cool and very funny. He always has a sunny disposition and is very passionate about his subject matter and always has great stories to share about his experiences working in the industry. Although his reasons for leaving are positive and I wish him and his family much success, I hope he leaves Gibbs knowing that he has made an impression on this student. I will miss him. [Had I known that he was leaving I would have made more of an effort to hand in a EXTRAORDINARY final assignment (a :10 sec. animated Personal Production Company Logo) than the one that I turned it. I went the minimalist route and opted for a "less is more" approach. You can see it on my website if you go there. Just push the "GHF" button and it will take you there. It wasn't my best work, I admit, but I was under a lot of pressure this quarter and didn't give the best for that one particular assignment. Oh well, too late now to do anything about it now.]

Anyway I finally finished my school edit of Daphne's video and it went over very well with my professor, Chris Trice who gave us the assignment in his AVID class. He said looking at it that he could see that I put a lot of time and work into creating it. (I really did.) All of my other Professors that I showed it to liked it as well:

  • Professor Betty Garcia told me that the scale and quality of what I created I could charge at least $10,000 for making it. She should know because she taught me about Pre-production and what it takes to be a good producer.
  • Professor Cady Abarca (who only saw the rough cut) told me that he really liked the lighting. He should know because he taught me proper lighting techniques and how to use the camera.
  • Professor Stephen MacGillivray said he liked the editing and that it was done very well. He should know because he was the first professor who taught me about editing period. Before I stepped into his Final Cut Pro class, I knew NOTHING about editing!
  • Christen Marquez, who is our student coordinator, saw it and like it as well. Her one comment that seem to resonate with mostly everyone (including my classmates) was that I should show some more of the dance footage in it. (I'm working on fixing that)

The next step is to do some additional color correction and put it into After Effects and add some magic to it (that would make Professor Byrne proud of me) and it will be ready for THE WORLD to see!

On the topic of another video I did, I was going to submit my documentary (called "Measure of Life") to "POV" (that show on PBS that's been on for like 20 years now) but I misread the deadline. The deadline for it to arrive at it's offices was TODAY! I mistakenly read the guidelines and thought that today was the deadline for when it should be post marked by. In any event, now I am packaging my documentary to submit to another film festival whose deadline guidelines I read and reread with a fine tooth comb last night coming home on the subway. I won't mention it yet, because I don't want to jinx myself.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Okay, I'm Satisfied

The epic journey that I've been embarking on over the quarter has finally come to somewhat of an end. I just handed over my final edit of Daphne's music video titled, "Satisfied". Presentations begin at 3pm and it's 2:34pm as I write this entry. I'm pleased with the outcome. I'm pleased with the shoot(s) and I guess you could say "I'm Satisfied." The dance shoot didn't go exactly as smoothly as I had anticipated. The location wasn't ready when we reached the set on Sunday. But that was about it. The other major problem, I don't want to mention, but HE knows what I mean about. Right C.R.? Anyway it was a great day and we finished ahead of schedule. The dancers were all very professional and Candice did a great job with the costumes too. I can't wait until the song is released so that everyone can see what I've been working so diligently on over the past 11 weeks while here in my 4th Quarter at school. [That picture is of me checking with Kidane if his camera is ready I'm just about to slate the take were Daphne does a routine with all the dancers. ]

Right now as I write this, I'm going on about an hour of sleep because when I left here last night it was midnight and I had to get home to finish a paper and study for a final in my Critical Thinking class that I had this morning. I liked that class but I'm kinda glad that it's over because many of the students in the class weren't really into the class as I was and it made an engaging conversation sometimes hard to do. But I did hand in all my assignments and I got my holistic test score back today. I scored 97% on that one. My professor, who doesn't grade that (those holistic exams are graded by other professors in the department) but she was impressed with my grade for that test.

Right now it's about 80 degrees outside and even though the AC is on in this lab where I write this it feels like it's about 85 in here. Every terminal is occupied because every one is trying to get his or her work done in all the classes that use the AVID system. To be honest, it's just putting me to sleep and if I don't get up and walk around a bit, I may fall asleep at my monitors.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Directing with PRIDE!!

This weekend in the big Gay Pride March and Festival on Sunday here in the city. I unfortunately will not be able to go and march like I did last year (that's me in the middle of the GMHC banner with my black HRC cap on - we were at the front of the parade) because I will be directing a sequence for Daphne's music video. It was the only day we could get the location and this is a crucial scene for me to finish the video for my class because it is due next Tuesday. I submitted a rough cut for class this week and although Professor Trice liked the elements that I incorporated into it, he agreed with me that incorporating the dance scene would make it perfect. Plus, on certain sections on the rough cut, I had to superimposed place holders that read "Dance Sequence Goes Here". But with the exception of the vocal track being out of sync with the video track for a frame or two, everything looked pretty professional. Professor T was pleased thus far. I was also please with the work too. If I do say so myself, I think I'm turning out to be one helluva director and editor!

I'm really looking forward to the shoot this weekend because my choreographer, Candice, is working really hard to create some fantastic steps and she has enlisted some top-notch Broadway dancers to work in the video. I have to pinch myself to realize that this really isn't a dream; that I have one of the best choreographers in the business working on a video that I am directing! The Gods must be looking down on me! There is a dance rehearsal tomorrow and Saturday and I may pop my head in to check on the progression, but I'm certain that everything will come off swimmingly well. Candice is aces! I am so lucky that she has agreed to believe in my vision is working with me on this project. Daphne is really psyched as well to be completing the video and I think Kidane is too. [That's me in the hat directing Daphne and Almando on location. - I don't know what I said to make Daph laugh like she's doing. But it's important to have a happy set, I believe.] The good thing is that we will have an additional camera on Sunday because one of my classmates, Christopher Reid, is going to shoot some tracking shot with his camera and dolly. He is taking time out of his busy, busy schedule and has agreed to work with me. Yes, I am blessed!

Unfortunately, Kidane's camera is in the shop so we will be using 2 cameras after all instead of 3 as I had originally hoped. Kidane will just use my camera. I'll be too busy directing anyway so it works out good for both of us. It's too late to enlist anymore camera people in the shoot because everybody else is busy shooting the finishing touches on their video or they are just don't want to help out a brotha in need. That's cool though. I'm not bitter. People have to do what they got to do and if means going to the beach, well who am I to judge?

To all my SGL brothers and sisters: HAPPY PRIDE!!!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Music Video Chronicles

I was finally able to shoot another day of exterior shots for Daphne's music video over the weekend. We used locations in Central Park and in Battery Park and on the Staten Island Ferry. It was a fun but exhausting day but everything looks good with the footage we got. Kidane (the Director of Photography for this shoot) and I went with Daphne and our male lead, Almando Rodney, to shoot in romantic settings around the city as part of the "B roll" footage that will be intercut into the video. This was our first day shooting with Almando and I have to say that it was a pleasure to work with a model who has no huge ego whatsoever. He was a joy to work with and I'm so glad that him and Daphne had such great chemistry on film. I can't wait for you all to see the video.

I'm getting a wee bit nervous because although I'm happy with the production thus far, I have to hand in a rough cut next Tuesday to my professor and I still am missing an interior scene with Daphne and Almando in the apartment. The reason why I'm missing this footage is because, I have yet to find that particular location to shoot it. If anyone has any leads or ideas, please shoot me an email (which at the moment is the only way to reach me since the phone is still out of service).

Yesterday Kidane and I went and looked another location in which to shoot the fantasy dance sequence of the piece. I thought it was a nice place and my D.P. thought the girl who showed us the space was nice. It's funny but looking over the footage that we shot on the first weekend of Daphne's performance, you can tell who shot what just by the amount of cleavage in the shoot. Gay guys will capture the face and eyes while straight guys will capture the area above the waist and sometimes the face too. But I guess it's good that I'm working with a straight D.P. because he see things from a different perspective that will only enhance the overall piece once it is edited. I have to admit, even though I've heard the song (it's called "Satisfied") about 500 times now, I'm not the least bit sick of it. I guess that the true mark of a hit.

On another film I completed, the original score for "Measure of Life" is complete and got it on Friday. My bud, Donald did an excellent job creating this score and I know that once my documentary hits the festival circuit, not only will people recognize my filmmaking ability but his exceptional music production skills as well. Also included on the score is an original song by Michael Ashanti called "Hold On" and I know it's going to be a big hit. It is available now on his new CD (check link). [BTW, Michael is on tour promoting his CD. If he comes to your town, RUN, don't walk to go see him. He is a PHENOMENAL singer!]

Today in class we learned how to create a 3D World using Adobe After Effects and Adobe Photoshop. For my next project for this class I have to create a 3D world and place a character that we filmed last week on "green screen" into this digital world. I'm glad that I learned how to do green screen because the way the film industry is heading, it will play an important role in helping me get employment in the digital film world once I get out of school.

Well I better get back to work.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Music Video-and so it Begins

I haven't posted in a over a week because I've been working on my new final project for the 4th Quarter: the Daphne Shawn Music Video Project. We held a casting call on May 20 for the male lead in the video and I am happy to report we have cast a model whom, I'm sure, he will become a star just like Gary Dourdan, Djimon Hounsou, or Antonio Sabato Jr. They all got a big boost in their careers after appearing in Janet Jackson videos. We also were able to find a top-notch choreographer who will be choreographing a hot dance routine that will be part of the many sequences that will go in the shoot.

Yesterday we shot the solo performance sequence for close-ups in the studio at school. Again, like my last shoot (the PSA) it was a great shoot. The only crew that was there was the talent: Daphne Shawn, my Director of Photography: Kidane Yimer, and Ms. Shawn's Make-up/Hair Stylist: Brooke. We wrapped ahead of schedule because I had storyboarded the shots that I wanted to get for that day. Also working with 2 cameras eliminated the need for numerous shoots for multiple angles. I only wish I could have had a couple of extra Production Assistants because I had to do a lot of running around before we actually started rolling. This weekend we will be shooting some exterior shots in NYC. If you happen to see us, stop by and say hello.

I am still looking for additional crew (location manager, production manager, grips) and in a few weeks from now, we will have a call for dancers for the dance sequence of the video. If you know of any people who might be interested in helping me with my student film project. Please forward them the link to my blog.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

What a Difference a Day Makes

Yesterday was the worst day I've had in a long time. Everything started out okay when I got up. I got up on time and had all my homework done. I even had a chance to have breakfast before I left home. The sun was out. Who could ask for the better start to a perfect day? Well every thing started to go downhill once I got into the NYC Subway system. I usually take the 2 or 3 to Atlantic Avenue from Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum. That connection was fine. I wasn't even going to let the crazy homeless man who is always at the entrance ruin my day. When I got to Atlantic Avenue. The B train (I take this to 42nd Street) was at the station. The time was about 8:15am and by all accounts, I would have been able to make it to my class and sitting in my desk by 9am.

Well an announcement came over the loudspeaker that the train was halted in the station because there was a sick passenger on the train ahead of this B at Dekalb Avenue. Okay, so I figured wait for a few moments. Someone said that they had been sitting there for nearly 20 minutes. So I thought, well I go to the connecting tunnel to Pacific Street and catch the D train. It's just as fast and they didn't seem to have any trouble getting over the bridge. So I walked to that platform and as luck would have it the train was just arriving into the station. So now it's about 8:35 and I'm making okay time. I didn't have a seat this time but that was okay.


So I pulled out my John Amaechi book out and picked up where I left off. As the train is going over the Manhattan Bridge, I'm really into the book and all of a sudden I feel a surge of people move closer around me and then the most foulest smell came over the car. When I tuned around I saw that this elderly man had "lost his lunch" on the floor directly behind me where I was standing reading my book. Some had even "splashed" on the bottom of my khaki pants that I was wearing. Now not only was I going to be late for class, but I was going to arrive to class smelling like "motion sickness".


So now I had the option to either go home and change or go to class smelling the way I did. I reasoned it would cost me more to go back instead of just going forward and getting to class late. As soon as I got off the train I ran to Duane Reade and pick up some of those "Shout Wipes" because, I didn't want the puke to stain my pants. Of course, I decided to forego my daily coffee and bagel with cream cheese. I just did not have the appetite. Can you blame me? Anyway I finally made it to class at 9:30 and got right to work on cleaning up the vomit stains on the pant legs. Everything seem to go pretty smooth until after I finished my next class. I should say that on Wednesdays I have 3 classes back-to-back and it involves some campus travel. I start in 50 West 40th (between 5th and 6th Aves) and then go to 232 West 40th (between 7th and 8th Aves) and then back to 50W40. Technically there are no breaks but the Professors know the deal and usually dismiss the classes at least 10-15 minutes early so that it will give everyone enough time to get to their next class. So after my second class (English Comp - that I had to finish a paper for the night before on "The Worst Day of My Life") Ironic, isn't it? Anyway. I decided that now I could stomach some coffee and I stopped and pick up some from a stand on the way back. As I'm going upstairs to the last class, someone bumps into me on the elevator and coffee spills on my light blue and white shirt. Could this day get any worst?


So now I get to my last class for the day and I'm totally in shock over the day I'm having and start to pull out the Shout Wipes again and go to work. I get through the class and I'm fine. Once class is over I hightail it out of there for the subway for home. The ride goes fine and I get home and take off my smelly clothes and take a nap until about 8pm. I got up and made some dinner and got ready to watch the season finale of "Lost" and I'm set for the night. Except I guess I was still tired because I dozed off just before the ending of "Lost" and missed the ending. AAaaaaahhhhhhhH!!!!!!!!!


*********


Today has been a better day. In Flash class we learned how to make a website in Flash. It was so much more easier than that dreadful Dreamweaver that I used to make my site last quarter. I can't wait to redo my site in Flash now. Fortunately today is the last day of classes for the week and it's a holiday weekend. Now if I only had some plans for the weekend.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Help Send Film Students from NY to Hollywood!

A couple of students in my film program at school have submitted a film spoof to win a student film MTV Movie Award. Calvin and Miguel are really very talented filmmakers and I hope that everyone can go to this link and view the clip and rate it. The more votes they get, the better. The filmmakers of the winning clip will get a trip to Los Angeles to win a Golden Popcorn award [like the one that the lovely Jessica Alba is holding to your left]. If they win, it will also be a big boost for my film school program at Katharine Gibbs School. The school really does produce a lot of talented filmmakers, but because it's not USC or NYU, I don't think we get taken as seriously. We even have an Academy Award winning faculty member, Cady Abarca-Benavides. He won for is film short "El Viaje" . And Every student has studied with Professor Abarca at one time or another at the school. Lets help these guys to win so that Gibbs Digital Film Program can become a leading school (or at least show the digital film industry that that Gibbs Students can ROCK!) in the digital film industry.

After you vote, make sure you send the link to as many friends a possible and you remind them to send to as many friends as possible, and so on and so on. It's a short clip (4min 23sec) based on the film "Saw 3". Although I'm not a big fan of that genre of film, I am a fan of comedy spoofs as many of you know already. I think that clip that Calvin and Miguel have created for this contest is VERY FUNNY.

The clip is called "Saw 3: The Wrath of Jiggy". When you finishing rating the clip, why don't you leave a comment on the site for the guys and let them know what you think about it. After all, who doesn't like a little praise or CONSTRUCTIVE criticism? Right?

Also if you have any problem connecting with any of the 3 cleverly placed links to the clip that I place in my post today, COPY and PASTE the FOLLOWING link into your web browser and I'm sure you will be connected right away to the funny clip:


http://mtvmovieawards.yahoo.com/spoofs/Saw3TheWrathOfJiggy/111550

Thanks!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Step Aside Hype Williams*, There's a New Director in Town (well, sort of)

I haven't had much time post in the past few days because I was busy with school. In particular, doing all my pre-production work for the music video that I working on. Its exhausting but at the same time its really a rush of excitement knowing that I'm in the process of making a visual record of a song that hopefully many people will talk about for years to come. (Or at least will say, "wasn't that directed by Billy Marshall Thompson?")

One of the things that we are required to do by our professors whenever we are in this stage is to create a "Director's Book". This basically has all the paper work: Scripts, Shot lists, shooting schedule, floor plans, budgets, prop lists, storyboards, etc. I never knew going into film school that so much pre-production work had to be done. But in the end it's best because when it's well planned out, the production will go smoother and hopefully under budget and on time. In this case, since it's a student production budget really isn't an issue. It's more like no-budget. Except for finding some money to feed the cast and crew, that's the extend of the budget. In my case those funds will be courtesy of my food stamps. That's another story for another time.

Anyway I'm really looking forward to working on this project. I'm a little nervous because we (the production companies - this time it's my production company "Group Hug Films" and the Daphne's company "Sultry Siren Productions" are doing it as a joint venture) are waiting for approval of a club to film a dance sequence. Cross your fingers that that doesn't fall through. Also this time I'm looking for some new crew people. Everybody is my class is so busy with their own projects. Come to think of it, none of them even asked me to work on their projects. Hmm...

Anyway, the only one who I am working with again is my colleague and fellow classmate, Kidane Yimer. He will be my DP (Director of Photography) . He has a great eye for lighting and his camera work is probably some of the best in my class. This will be the second time we will be working together on a project. He even suggested that we use multiple cameras for some of the filming. Something that I hadn't really given much thought to before. But I have to say I also have been listening to a lot of director commentaries on DVDs lately (why else buy a DVD?) and a lot of modern directors use the multi-camera format for capturing scenes that really can't be recreated numerous times (i.e. stunts, jumping in water, etc.)

I have been very comfortable with the 3 and 4 camera set up from years of working on the daytime dramas. But since we have been in school most of the work we have been doing has been single camera work. But in the end, it's all about the editing. I'm getting a lot more comfortable with AVID Xpress Pro and can't wait to get my footage done so I can begin the editing and motion graphics part of it (otherwise known as "post-production").

Anyway today I also did something that I never done before. I read one of my poems at a school sponsored Poetry Reading. I was kind of nervous at first, because it was very personal and here I was opening myself up to group of strangers. It came out pretty nice.

While I'm writing this, I have "Oprah" on and she has the cast of the new film version of the Broadway musical, "Hairspray". She has John Travolta, Michelle Pheiffer and Queen Latifah on who star in this movie. I saw the original show on Broadway for my 40th birthday a few years ago. I treated myself, because I didn't have anyone to go with. None of my friends had any interest in seeing it. I wasn't going to wait for someone to go and see it. Besides I got the chance to see it with Harvey Fierstein (as Edna Turnblad) in it before he left the show. I even got him to autograph my original cast CD. He has no idea how he MADE my 40th so special. I loved the original John Water's film and I LOVED the musical and I can't wait until July 20th to go and see the new film version. They just showed a scene and I have to say John Travolta is BACK in his game! Nothing against Harvey, but John has a way better singing voice and we all know the man can dance. I think a lot of people will be surprised. I also think this summer's Jennifer Hudson may be young Nikki Blonsky who plays the role that Ricki Lake originated in the original film of Tracy Turnblad.

Anyway I posted a casting notice on craigslist.com for models and dancers. We have scheduled a audition for the models for this Sunday. Hmmm...me in a room full of tall, dark and handsome male models... It's a dirty job but somebody has to do it. :-)

*Seriously, Hype Williams has nothing to worry about. I'm doing my 3rd music video. But the first one since I started film school.

To be continued...

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Home Sick!

Greetings Measure of Life readers! I'm at home today sick with a cold and I can honestly say it's been miserable. Yesterday I was fine, but I guess the change in the weather has really done a number on me. Just when I thought I was getting better, I'm sneezing like crazy. Anyway I found something on the web [click image at right or here] that made me laugh years ago and forgot to bookmark it. Somehow it found it's way back to me again and I wanted to share it with ya'll.*

I also wanted to share some good news with everyone. Last Thursday at school there was an event called "The Freshman Connection" held. It was basically a talent showcase to show the incoming freshmen some of the work that the upper classes have been producing. It was sponsored by the Fashion Department. Anyway, before the fashion show, some people in my department (Digital Film) presented some of our work. I was asked by our student coordinator, the very lovely Christen, if I wouldn't mind showing a sample of my work. I was flattered so I showed my documentary amply titled "Measure of Life". Long story short, I think I may have gotten job out of it. I won't elaborate, because I don't want to jinx it, but I will keep you posted! It couldn't come a better time because I really need to get one of my telephones turned back on. It really sucks not having a telephone. I don't know how people could have survived without one, but I guess I'm finding out now. Anyway keep your fingers crossed that something pans out for me.

*[That's sounds so "country" of me to say "ya'll" doesn't it? But I guess it sounds better than it's Noo Yawk cousin: "Yous" (I've lived here in the New York City area all my life and have NEVER heard that word leave these full lips of mine.)]

Anyway Enjoy!