Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Highlights

Watching Bolt with my two nephews and their BFFs. Little boys like movies where people get hit in the head, poop, slip on banana peels and where cars flip high in the air and smash to the ground. That's so awesome! Whoa! Cool!

My niece Caroline is obsessed with Chicken Nuggets. She named two of her dolls Chicken Nugget Girl and Momma Chicken Nugget.

I suck at bowling on the Wii. And my 4 year old nephew Christian can make ten strikes in a row.

Dan in Real Life is still a great film the second time around.

A three hour layover in Dallas blows.

My sister in laws' brother's daughter loves leaf parties.

I miss Ama and Karen very very very very very very much.

Reese Witherspoon, Vince Vaughn, Sissy Spacek, Robert Duvall, Jon Favreau and Kristin Chenoweth can't save a really bad script.

I think Kristin Chenoweth is super cool.

I need to see my family more than once a year. My heart aches to see them more.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mr. Smith Geeets 'Em!!!! Geeet 'Em! Geeeet 'Em!

Oh those poor gang boys. They didn't even see it coming.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My Paris BFF - Goodbye Bikini Corey, Goodbye Shelly

I don't care if everyone knows or not ... I watch My Paris BFF. So what?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Billy Madison the Musical?

Tonight a friend mentioned that there was a new Broadway musical version of Billy Madison. Please god let it be true. I rushed home to look it up but can't find a single thing. Please, please, please point me to evidence that it exists. This is the best news I've heard in months!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Alicia Keys - Superwoman

My new theme song.

Rainy Day Blues - NJ Wrap Up (Sort of)

Pork Chop (my little gray fluffy, one eyed cat) stares at me from the couch. In between licking his hind legs, he probably wonders why I'm not petting his belly instead of working on my computer.

It's been one of those days. The self loathing, feeling sorry for yourself kind of crummy days. After a Saturday of pick up shots and fun adventures to Mopac Media in Leslie's minivan, this morning we woke up to a drizzly, drizzly early morning. We made the call to cancel the day's shoot. I was quick to cancel, needing a bit of a mental break from the short. I know I've said this before, but I'll say it again. I think this has been the hardest thing I've ever shot. There are many reasons I won't go into. So instead of driving around the downtown city streets with Curtis and crew, I slept. I slept until 10am. And I didn't feel one bit guilty about it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Weekend #3 Ninja James - Here We Go Again

The call time is an hour later. Tomorrow is just a bunch of pick ups, close ups, inserts ... smooth sailin' sistah.

Sunday is a bunch of driving with Mr. Smith. Driving, driving and more driving. And Miss Savannah Welch in a little cameo. Haven't seen that lady in a long while. Nice mini jumping off bridges reunion.

Twilight - A Review from a Girl who's Obsessed with Making Teen Films

I was supposed to stay up until midnight last night to catch Twilight with a friend. Around 10:30pm, I was fast asleep. No deal. So at 7am this morning, I woke up, took a shower, did a little work and headed to a 9:30am screening where I thought I'd sit in a somewhat empty theater enjoying the film mostly by myself. Not the case. I arrived at 9am and already there was a line of what looked like 40-something book club women ready to giggle and act like 13-year olds. Yes, they had on Team Edward and Twilight garb. They giggled with excitement just like the even fewer teen girls who's mothers were cool enough to let them skip school. Standing alone in a line at 9am with a bunch of other women ... I felt downright silly. But whatever. I settled in to my seat in a pretty crowded theater all ready to swoon over Edward Cullen. And swoon I did. Yes, the Rob Pattison is dreamy. Yes, the hair, the lips, the brooding forehead, all very sexy. Thank god for close ups and lots of them. Because every time he came on screen, the whole audience let out a collective sigh. No joke.

Was the movie good? Uh, no. And as a disclaimer, I've never been a Catherine Hardwicke fan. But I was curious to see her take on a Hollywood, mainstream film. I thought it would have an edginess about it that she forced on us with Thirteen and Lords of Dogtown. But no, it went into ultra cheesy world. Really bad flashbacks, cringe worthy effects ... and yes, I was thinking in my head all of the things that the Book Club women were chatting about in the bathroom afterwards. How could she have cast that girl as Rosalie? Alice is not what I expected at all. Will teen girls love it? Oh yeah. Will they go to the theater more than once? You betcha. The best scenes in the film are between Bella and Edward alone, in her bedroom, in science class, in the car ... the realistic moments when it's not about bloodlust or flying through trees ... it's about being awkward around someone you totally dig. And that's what makes the ladies sigh.

In summation (giggle) ... the book is totally cheesy. There, I admit it. It is. But I'd rather relish those cheesy moments in my head than see someone else's interpretation of them on screen.

Luckily for the studios, the girls will flock. FLOCK to the theaters again and again. They'll show Hollywood that they care and their dollar counts.

And finally, if you really want to see a good recent teen flick, rent Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist when it comes out on DVD. Peter Sollett nailed it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mr. Smith's Car

I love this photo that Alexis took from the set on Saturday morning.

This is Mr. Smith's car. A 1969 Thunderbird owned by one of the sweetest men in Texas. It's a beauty if I do say so myself. It's almost become a character in the film. All the cars have. I wish I had a photo already of the gang car. That'll come soon. Along with shots of my beloved gang boys. Total cutie pies.

Ninja James and the Beast Boy

Mr. Smith (Curtis Wayne) and Alex (Sam Richardson)

So Exciting! So Exciting!

Holly Bronko and Alexandra Valenti - Art Show, 12/4

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ninja James Footage

We're 4 days into a 6 (possibly 7) day shoot. That 7 day will be reshoots. And those reshoots will take place after the Thanksgiving break. 90% of the footage looks awesome. The other 10% is the reason for reshoots. What's working though is really working. It's got a very 70s style feel and look to it. Between the crazy zooms, whip pans, camera flares and old school cars ... it feels aged, which I love. And Curtis, well, the man was born to play an action hero. His face just says it all. Curtis in that 1969 Thunderbird just makes me grin from ear to ear. And my beloved gang boys ... all six of them, the babies and the older guys, I just want to squeeze their little cheeks they're so cute.

All in all , I'm very, very pleased. And once we hand over all the footage to Chadwick and Keefe to work their editing and effects magic, I think it'll be pretty darn cool.

What's been great about the last two shorts is that they're completely different from what I've done in the past. That's my goal. To stretch my little directing muscles and learn by doing.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Please Don't Yell at Me

I'm a nervous wreck getting my blood drawn. I don't do flu shots because I hate, hate, hate needles. My stomach turns and clenches anytime I have to talk to a cop or a State Trooper (which I had to do this weekend). I don't do rollercoasters because I'll give myself a heart attack. Now I can add something new to my list of freak outs ... UT Equipment Check In. (Insert scream from a horror film here.)

I have to brace myself to go to UT Equipment Check In. Checking out .... no problem. But check in ... argh. When I haul the equipment in, I hold my breath and pray to the heavens above. There's a bit of a chill when I get there. It's quiet, not too many smiles (especially at 8 or 9am). My stomach tosses and turns as I wait for the staff to pour through every item looking for anything broken or missing. Please let it all be there. Please let it work. Please don't yell at me. Please don't yell at me. I hate getting yelled at. The first week, I was missing a Lav Mic clip. This week I came in with a broken C-Stand and a missing quad extension cord. A few hours after you leave, you get the dreaded "UT RTF Check Out" email telling you how much you owe for the mishaps and how much you suck for letting it happen. Not really, but you feel like crap because you couldn't keep everything in check. Like getting yelled at by your parents when you hid your veggies in your napkin. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I know I suck.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

A friend of mine is conducting this workshop. If you know anyone who might be interested, spread the word.


Are you frustrated with your current relationship? Do you feel like you're not yourself anymore? Deciding whether or not to make a change in your relationship is difficult and often comes with fear ("What will happen if I actually decide to leave?") and doubt ("What if I make the wrong decision?"). This class will help you move away from these anxieties by providing you with helpful information about decision making in relationships as well as thought-provoking exercises to get you moving toward clarity, focus, and confidence. This seminar is open to all people. Whether you are single, dating, partnered, married, straight, or GBLQT, there is something here for you. Megan Bayles Bartley, LMFT, LPC and Michele Malooly, LPC are therapists in Austin who are dedicated to helping men and women have the most fulfilling relationships possible.

Date: Tuesday 11/18/08 7-9pm (Can't make this one? Ask about future dates!)

Cost: $60, or $50 with a friend

Location: Genuine Joe Coffeehouse - 2001 W Anderson Ln, 78757

RSVP to: or call 512.569.2500

10 Things I Learned on Set this Weekend

(That's me with the red sweater and cute little hat.)

1) There are really drunk frat boys wandering the city streets at 5am on a Saturday morning. And not only are they drunk, it's 30 degrees outside and they're wearing T-shirts. Stupid, stupid drunk college boys.

2) Choreographing prop cars, actors and extras on city streets is like being six again and playing with my legos and matchbox cars.

3) When actors are fighting in the streets in their beat up Thunderbirds and bright purple Cadillacs, acting super tough, random bystanders who don't see the crew around the corner get REALLY nervous.

4) Boys who appear rough and tumble on the outside are sugary sweet on the inside. Gary Grizzle, Mark, Jeremiah, Sonny, Curtis, Gordon and RJ I'm talking to you.

5) How to cram four people into a car (1 Actor and 3 Crew) and hide the three crew from the shot that the camera in the adjacent car is getting.

6) How to talk on two different cell phones at the same time to two different prop cars (one in front and one in back), while you're in the third (in the middle) and choreograph all three driving through the city streets, while the actors are in character, sound is rolling and random pedestrians are freaking out because you're "gang boys" keep getting out of the car to pick fights and whistle at the ladies on the sidewalks.

7) That Sonny and RJ should have their own little "Gang Boy" TV show where we just follow them around and they improv endlessly. You get lots of great one-liners. "Your whole family's made of useless".

8) According to Sonny when he worked with Mike Judge on Idiocracy, Mike Judge shoots everything from 40 different angles. Whoa. That's just totally exhausting to even think about.

9) Marshall is in love with Chipotle burritos.

10) When you have a kick ass producer (Ms. Langee), crew and cast to make movies with, you get good footage, great performances and have the best time in the whole wide world making the magic happen.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Weekend #2 is a Go

Tomorrow morning, 5:30am starts weekend #2 out of 3 for Ninja James and the Beast Boy. This is a jam packed weekend full of fights, cars hitting characters, driving through the streets, gang boys ... I'm delaying my bed time for some weirdo reason. I need to go to bed. I should go to bed. I must go to bed ... but I can't. Me and Pork Chop are cold chillin' on the couch pouring through a feature screenplay that I want to have ready, ready, ready to go by January. Thinking I might put together a read through for feedback in December. In time to take home for the holidays. So much I want to do. SO MUCH. Ok, for real, I'm going to bed. I have a busy, busy, busy day tomorrow. I get to hang out with thugs, superheros and nerdy boys. Sweet.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mr. Smith on the Run - Ninja James

A quick still that David Overturf took. Mr. Smith plows through a group of kiddos from Ninja James and the Beast Boy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Rock N Rolla Research

Roger and I skipped out of the office late this afternoon to go catch Rock N Rolla. I considered it research as I continue to storyboard for this weekend's shoot. We're doing the fight sequence, all the cars at the stoplight and a few driving shots. I got lots of fun ideas to use. And then tonight I half heartedly watched Transporter 2 ... again for driving shots ideas.

I totally dug Rock N Rolla. About the first twenty minutes I was lost, confused, wondering if I'd like it, but then as it kept going, I got suckered in. What a great cast. Tom Wilkinson in particular. I adore that man. It was a fun, rollercoaster of a movie. There's an awesome sequence with Gerard Butler, Idris Elba and two thugs beating each other up in a heist sequence. Totally badass. And hilarious. I might have to make another action film after this one to keep working at it. I'm learning a whole lot. And loving it.

Role Models (2008)

It's raunchy, dirty, trashy, laughed out loud many many times ... I've never heard so many references to sex in a 90 minute time span in my life. But wouldn't you know, it's sweet as hell. Will it change your life? Probably not. Will it win an Oscar ... nope. But does it make you want to look out for the little ones ... yep. Between Wet Hot American Summer and this, I'm a new David Wain fan.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Birthday Schmirthday

Tomorrow I turn 34. I've already gotten a ton of sweet notes from friends. I'm guessing Facebook has a lot to do with that. It's been nice considering I keep forgetting my own birthday. This year it's different somehow. Usually I like to do my birthday up. Big party, scavenger hunt, lots of friends ... this year it's quiet. Mark's taking the day off and we're cold chillin' at the movies. Lying low and staring at each other. We haven't done that in a long while. And with two more weekends of shooting, it'll be sometime probably. Life has been a big fat dose of busy.

34 should be good, I think. 33 was alright. Well, actually 33 was a little rough and tumble. 34 will hopefully be a bit smoother ride. It'd be nice to have some cool stuff happen too.

To Direct an Action Film or Not to Direct an Action Film

That is the question. The first weekend of Ninja James and the Beast Boy is in the "can".

Day 1
It proved to be a pretty tough first day. I didn't tell a soul, but I was close to tears within the first two hours. But I gathered myself, sucked it up and put on the brave director face. That's what a director does. Pretends to have their shit together. The first half of the day was a bit of a blur. Between the lack of sleep, time restraints, packing way too much into the first day (I know, I know ... I should practice what I preach) and not getting the coverage I wanted, I was feeling a little "eh". That's not to say that I didn't get kick ass performances and have a beyond amazing crew that worked like a friggin' machine. I just was letting myself down a little. That happens, I guess. It takes the first day to find your feet. Or at least mine. So once I found my little Converse sneakers hitting ground, I set off running. The second half of the day we cranked it out. Everyone worked their little butts off and we got some great footage.

Day 2
Back at Will Branch's house it was like reliving jumping off bridges but with a slightly different crew and new actors. But the green walls and furniture from the Nelson family were still there. Well preserved. This time instead of a family getting over a loss, I had a grungy, tattooed guy burning questionable substances at a makeshift chem lab. The set looked super cool. And we hammered through the scene with speed and precision. By Day 2, I was laughing, giggling, feeling good.

From Will's house we hit the streets of Austin. Poor Curtis probably did more running in one day than I did when I ran a marathon. We got him from every angle, every whip pan, canted angle and against every cool looking building. Fun stuff. And my favorite scene so far is when he crashes through a group of school kids. Awesome.

So this week I prep for the next round of insanity. Making an action film = hard. But when you have a pretty incredible cast and crew working by your side, it makes it a lot easier. I can't tell you enough how much they kick major ass.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Eve of Ninja James

Tomorrow is Day 1. Just got home after a day of grabbing equipment, rehearsals, set decorating, costuming, losing my mind a little. But all in good spirits. 5am call. Must get sleep.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Roberta Wells - New Life

It looks like a short film I did over five years ago, Roberta Wells might be breathing some new life soon. Details to follow, but it seems like some people still think about it and want to see it out in the world.

Roberta Wells was probably my most successful film on the festival circuit. Started out at Slamdance and had a lot of play after that. It ended up on PBS all over Texas. It's a film I made with a slew of talented friends who were just making films to have fun and hang out.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Ninja James - One Week Away

We're a little under a week away from production on Ninja James. Chatting with Don and Scott the other day I was telling them I don't know what I'm doing. And I don't really. I'm just figuring things out as I go on this one. I have a secret set of storyboards, a shot list that's a bit overwhelming and a cast and crew that I'm letting go wild. This is one that really feels beyond me. I don't have a firm grasp around the whole thing. I'm not sure if that's good or bad. Allowing lots of freedom to play. Not sure. Regardless, it's fun hanging out with my friends and making something. That's what it's all about, right?

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Trick or Treat

When I was a kid, Halloween was the biggest holiday of the year.

Me and my brother would get all dolled up in our Wonder Woman and Batman costumes and join the traffic of little kids pouring through the streets. It was a mob scene of masked goblins and tiny witches. My brother would be the brave one to ring the doorbell and hold my hand when the porch decorations went a little scary overboard. And instead of stupid plastic pumpkin buckets, we carried pillowcases. When it came to free candy, we meant business. We would trick or treat until blisters covered our feet. At home, we'd dump out snickers, twizzlers, smarties, bubble gum, pixie sticks, m&ms ... into a huge mound on the dining room table. Commence the trading. The Halloween candy seemed to last a lifetime after that. Days, weeks ... until we'd go to the dentist and discover ... cavities.