Saturday 31 March 2012

"Space Girl"

I don't make them; don't yell at me. 

Space Girl is a new webseries, one that gives HAL a run for his money. It was created by Tom Small, written by the Barely Political Team and Edward Einhorn, and stars Lauren Francesca.

Episode 1: Space Girl falls under attack, but her ship refuses to be abandoned!

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Thursday 29 March 2012


Tran Quoc Bao
Bookie is a short film by Seattle writer/director Tran Quoc Bao

Bao started making movies in Hi8 video at an early age. His visual sense developed from watching Kung Fu movies, silents, musicals, and Alfred Hitchcock movies.

Bookie has been praised for its "flawlessly realized world populated by entirely fleshed out and believable characters."

It has been shown at two dozen Film Festivals around the world, and won awards at the Asian Film Festival of Dallas, the Beloit International Film Festival, and the Okanagan International Film Festival.
Brian McDonald
At a Seattle nightclub in 1963, crowds gather for a chance at alcohol, wild music, and easy money, while a bookie risks everything for a waitress down on her luck.
[ Watch for our favourite screenwriting teacher, Brian McDonald, as he plays the clerk who counts out the money. He says he's not a good actor, but only did it "to get the feeling of what it's like to be on that side of the camera," which helps him when he directs. I think he does an excellent job. ]

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Sunday 25 March 2012

The power of vulnerability

Vulnerability. I didn't expect it, but the term came up several times at a recent meeting of my writers' group. And that just happened to be the day after Brian McDonald told me about this video.

Dr. Brené Brown is a "researcher/ storyteller" as well as a professor at the University of Houston, Graduate College of Social Work. She studies human connectionour ability to empathize, belong, love. She is the author of I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn't) and The Gifts of Imperfection. In this poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself, as well as to understand humanity.

The video runs for 20 minutes. Get yourself a cup of coffee and settle down in a comfortable chair. It's going to be worth your time. I know that what Brené Brown shares is true. 

My father was a violent alcoholic who abandoned us when I was nine. That was something I was incapable of talking about back when I was old enough to finally escape the place where I grew up. I was about as closed off emotionally as was possible. It wasn't until I met the lady who is now my wife that I began to let it go, just a little. The result was uncontrollable weeping. And I mean, uncontrollable. My worst memory of that stage was standing at a bus stop on Anzac Highwayabout the most public place imaginable and crying and crying and crying. I had years of feelings pent up. Once they started to break out, they just kept on coming. I needed to accept my vulnerability, rather than try to hide it, in order to live a full life. 

But don't take my word for it, listen to an expert.

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Saturday 24 March 2012

Changing lives through football

This is a 6 minute film made by Donkey Stone Films at the Homeless World Cup in Paris in 2011. 

The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social enterprise which exists to end homelessness. It uses football to energise homeless people to change their own lives. It operates through a network of over seventy national partners to support grass roots football programs and social enterprise development. Local Organizing Committees in host cities run a world-class, annual, international football tournament, uniting teams of homeless people from around the globe.

The first Homeless World Cup annual football tournament took place in
Graz in 2003 and welcomed eighteen nations. Today it includes 64 teams from 53 countries, including sixteen women’s teams. 

The impact is unprecedented. Over 70% of players change their lives for the better: they build their self esteem; come off drugs and alcohol; move into homes, jobs, education, training; repair relationships; become social entrepreneurs, coaches and players with pro or semi-pro football teams. The Homeless World Cup project involves over 50,000 homeless people throughout the year. 

The Australian team, the Street Socceroos, were the hosts of the Melbourne 2009 Homeless World Cup. The 2011 Cup was won by Scotland.

The film is surprisingly moving. Take a look.

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Friday 23 March 2012

"Diego Valdez's World of Art"

Diego Valdez
Here's a Hollywood_Tweet video featuring the celebrity portraits of Diego Valdez

Who's that? A Colombian actor, poet, model, artist and founder of Voilartists art studio. 

Diego's career began in the world of fashion and television in Colombia. Although he was one of the most sought after male models in the fashion world, he has also been a featured artist in places like LA Weekly, Phoenix New Times and Village Voice, and has won awards for his writing in Argentina and Colombia. 

The video shows a series of his paintings, set to 'Arctic Blues' by MOnk Music, off the Damaged Music for Damaged People album.

Keep an eye out for the (usually) irrepressible, though modest, Lisa Boss, who would never draw attention to herself, or mention that 'Arctic Blues' was written just for her.

Thursday 22 March 2012

Interview with Cindy Lemas

Cindy Lemas lives in Ft. Bragg, California. She has been a ballet dancer, teacher, writer, child advocate, crab boat captain and, just lately, executive producer of the web series Sundays, which was filmed in Mendocino County, California.

Like most people, I've always been impressed by the title "Executive Producer" and wanted to learn more about how somebody scales the heights to such a position. So when I met Cindy online, I thought this opportunity was too good to miss.

* Where were you born and where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in San Jose, CA. I spent my summers with my grandparents, in Mendocino, CA. My grandfather was an alto-sax player in his own band, my mother the pianist, for many years. My aunt (in Mendocino) was the location and extras scout for film in Mendocino, including for Same Time Next Year, Dying Young and Murder, She Wrote. I used to hang out during filming and learned from behind-the-scenes.

* Where did you go to school?

* You have musical abilities. What is your history as a performer/composer?

Yes. I play piano, sing and took/taught Russian Ballet. I was a night club singer for years in the greater Bay Area.

* In the 1980s you moved into an entirely different field, as a child advocate. What led to that, and what gave you your greatest sense of achievement?

My daughter was born in 1987, with a genetic disorder called Angelman Syndrome. I had to choose to between singing and caring for my daughter. I chose my daughter. Her father left. My daughter and I moved to Mendocino. I learned how to become an effective advocate for my daughter. I began working with parent organizations, took mediation courses at Sonoma State University, provided mediation/ombudsperson/advocacy services in Mendocino County, and lectured for special education teachers at Chico State and Hawaii State University.  

Sundays: Where it happens
I was hired by Mendocino County Schools to write, produce and host a live telecast (on local cable public access channel), promoting the special needs kids and the services provided in our County. It was a great show that lasted about five years. I created a non-profit for parents and by 2000 had over 300 families on my case load. I had to leave my CEO position to care for my daughter after scoliosis spine surgery.

I promoted my daughter's need to be included with her peers throughout her school career. I was the parent representative on the State of California Board and helped create Early Intervention for infants and toddlers to provide support services immediately for the child and the parents.

I worked with her service agencies and built a house for my daughter in my backyard for her to live full-time, with round-the-clock help. She will be 25 this month and lives in her own house, with her team of caregivers, giving me the freedom to have my own life.  She will always be my responsibility, but she has her own life.

My message for all parents with disabled children: NEVER GIVE UP. Believe, work as a team with agencies. See the bigger picture. It can and will happen if you never give up.

* You worked with Cammie Conlon, who played Scarlett’s daughter in Gone With the Wind, and supplied one of the voices in the animated film Bambi.

Cammie Conlon and I met in Fort Bragg where she was working for the Chamber of Commerce. We became great friends. She was friends with my aunt (the location/extras coordinator for film). She was a great promoter who did everything she could to support our local economy and non-profit organizations. I learned a lot from her tenacity and "getting the job done", how to do it with grace and always a smile. She is greatly missed.

* In 2000, you moved into another new field. How did that come about and what was the most satisfying aspect?

The Sea Hawk
My new husband was a charter boat captain, and I helped him with his new charter boat business, All Aboard Adventures. I worked on the boat, fishing, whale watching, and even did karaoke on the sea trips. I earned my sea time to become a 100 ton master and become the first lady captain in the Noyo Harbor, Fort Bragg.  Unfortunately, I was assaulted at a fundraising event for kids, causing a severe neck injury and had to leave working on the boat. 

Noyo Harbor
At that time, I worked for our local medical clinic as their fundraising event coordinator. This is where I worked with Cammie Conlon, producing the benefit "Tea with Bonnie Blue Butler," and Bill Irwin's "A Work in Progress," to raise money for the clinic.  I also coordinated our famous Crab and Wine Days Crab Cake Cook Off Event.

I began singing again, started my own band, and did a CD called Landing for author/songwriter Patti Angeletti. Unfortunately my drummer passed away, and the band members went their separate ways.

I was cast for "On The Road with Austin and Santino". It was a spoof about me being a crab fisherwoman, celebrating our 10 year anniversary of All Aboard Adventures and I needed a designer dress for the party and the debut of my new band. The drummer passed away during the filming and the show took a different twist. Santino Rice and I still remain friends. He is such a kind man. He loved my daughter, and she just loved him! We had a lot of fun filming together

* In 2011, you became Executive Producer for the Sundays Web Series, a 10 episode webseries about a small Californian town and the characters that call it home—drama, comedy, romance, and mystery.  How did that come about?

Cindy Lemas and Forrest Naylor radio interview.
I was producing a 'haunted house' fundraiser and asked Forrest Naylor to film the event. I was aware of some of his films and told him I would like to produce his next film. He was so impressed with the production, he asked if I would be interested in reading his script for Sundays. I did, and said I would like to produce.

He really wanted me for this project because of my ties to the community, my reputation to get things done successfully. My being a good businesswoman, promoter and negotiator suited what he needed.

Sundays: The search begins

* I know some of the funding for the webseries came from Mendocino County. How did you raise the rest?

I funded the webseries from my life savings, the majority of which purchased all the equipmentcameras, hard drives, audio equipmentas Fog Line Films just started their business and had no equipment. We did receive some funding from local businesses... the list is long.

Before we began filming, I started the "buzz". I organized interviews on the local radio stations, and newspapers. Getting the word out there, and also asking for those who would like to sponsor this exciting new venture to come forward.  Most came forward with valuable in-kind support. All of our locations were donated for free, in exchange for being on our website where the show airs. We could not have done it without them. I organized meetings with our local organizationsRotary, Lions, Study Club, Soroptimist Internationalto talk about the show. This generated a lot of in-kind support and also more people to keep the "buzz" happening.

Sundays: The search continues

If you believe in your project, you will get the necessary financial and/or in-kind support you need. My first recommendation to anyone doing any form of film is to find your promoter. 
  • Find that person who will live, breathe and talk about your project until the entire community is talking about it for you. (I just happened to be that person, so Forrest was pretty lucky!)
  • Offer something for their help. This could be in-kind support, as well as money. For instance, the Beachcomber Motel provided rooms for our traveling actors. For that, they received landing page exposure, where the show airs.
  • Hold a special screening event, with the proceeds to go towards the new project. 
  • Find your movers and shakers in the community who have connections. Ask for them to host a cocktail party where you can present your project and ask for support.
  • Find a talented executive producer to fund the project. 
  • Sit down with your executive team and establish a realistic budget. 
  • Remember you have to feed your cast and crew. 
  • Consider all obstacles and options for each shooting block. 
  • Pick your team wisely. 
  • Create a budget for each shooting block. 
  • Stick to your budget. 
  • And as an executive producer, stick to your guns to stay on task and within the budget. This is tricky and directors and producers can butt heads frequently. But it is necessary for the success of the show.
  • Promote, promote, promote, promote, promote.

Sundays: A wrong turm
* How did you recruit your actors?

Through various newspaper articles in local newspapers and casting call notices to all theatre groups and casting agencies in Northern Calfornia.

* Have you been happy with the reception Sundays has received?

Absolutely! I knew it was going to be a hit, and am thrilled it has received nominations and awards!

* What’s next for Cindy Lemas?

I would love to get back into my music, write music again, and sing. That is when I am truly the happiest. I have been approached to produce other shows/projects, but nothing has resonated with me yet. I really am a free spirit. I have true confidence in what I can achieve, and know what I touch can and will turn to gold if I believe in it. I think my next project will be a project for me. I have enjoyed the success of promoting others, and seeing them shine (for example, my daughter, my husband and now Forrest's dream). I guess I am at a place in my life where I need to shine and do something for me. 

* What are your ten favourite movies of all time?

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Why do we tell stories?

A question I've been asked from time to time is, Why do you write?

The first time I heard that question, my mind turned to the movie Shadowlands (1993), which deals with the life of C.S. Lewis, author of the Narnia books. Lewis was a prolific writer. His circle of literary friends (including J.R.R. Tolkien) formed a writers' group known as the "Inklings". (If you want to see writers discussing their ideas for stories in a learned, but passionate way, watch this movie.)

The Inklings discuss story ideas in an Oxford pub.
In Shadowlands, there is a scene where Lewis confronts a wayward student. The student becomes animated while talking about his love of books. Then he quotes his father as having said: "We read to know we're not alone." That rang true for me; true, but incomplete.

I answered the question—Why do you write?—by quoting from Shadowlands, "We read to know we're not alone," and adding: "We write in order to become known." Meaning, books and screenplays are a safe place for us to explore our inner turmoils, fears and pain, and to allow others to share in our examination. 

I was happy with my answer, until I read Brian McDonald's book, The Golden Theme. (I intend looking at that book in more detail later in the year, perhaps in discussion with Brian.)  It is a small book, overflowing with stories, which illustrate his many points. One of these is the idea that human beings tell stories to pass on survival information. He illustrates that with a story about the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, well-known to Australians, which inundated parts of South East Asia in 2004 and killed almost a quarter of a million people. 
But the Moken people, who live on the coastlands of Thailand and Burma, suffered no deaths at all because they believed in an ancient legend. A story saved their lives. When the ocean receded and a small wave rolled in, the Moken people knew that it meant a tsunami was coming, and they headed for higher ground.
   Their legend says that there will be seven waves before the big wave comes—the wave that eats people. It's called the Laboon and it is caused by the angry spirits of the ancestors. 
   When the spirit of the sea becomes hungry and wants to taste people again, it sends a wave to swallow them up.
What do you think? Does that story reflect reliable scientific fact? The people who knew the story to be unscientific ignored the warning and died in the tsunami. The 'ignorant' fled and survived. Story 1, Science nil.

Matsushima Bay
I was reminded of this when I read another story in the L.A. Times on March 11, 2012, called Japan's 1,000-year-old warning.n a refugee center on the island of Miyatojima, at the entrance to Matsushima Bay, when he stumbled on a story that taught him something unexpected: Collective memorystorycan save your life. A local man told him this story.

Tuesday 20 March 2012

The first day of spring (in NYC)

Eddie Barbash
"The first day of Spring," now there's a rubbery concept.
In the USA and some other regions in the Northern Hemisphere, the vernal equinox (currently around the 20th or 21st of March) is often taken to mark the first day of spring. In South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, spring begins on 1 September, and has no relation to the vernal equinox. In Ireland spring traditionally starts on 1 February, St Brigid's Day.
And it gets more complicated the further you examine the question... It's now autumn in the wide brown land, and that's a welcome thought. But it's the first day of spring in New York, and quite a few other places. To celebrate, here's a bit of spontaneous fun from the first day of spring, 2009, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. 

Eddie Barbash and Jesse Scheinintake it away.

Monday 19 March 2012

Writing and interruptions

At our last meeting, one of the guys in my writers' group made a comment about how infuriating it can be to suffer an interruption when you are in full flight, writing.

That reminded me of John Cleese, as many things do. In particular, this video, which opens with an appalling joke about Flemish, the language, then moves on to a discussion of some of his experiences with creative writing.

It is worth watching, apart from the opening joke. I once showed it to my wife, who subsequently interrupted me less frequently when I was writing. Maybe that can work for you, too.

Sunday 18 March 2012

"Chivalry Ain't Dead"

This is post #200.  

Ideas: you find them where you find them. Some people dream up ideas. Some people get ideas in the shower. Some people get ideas walking through a supermarket. And some people take ideas straight off their Twitter feed.

You know the ones. May be odd, may be funny, may be penetratingly true. For example: 
My daughter tried out for a school play. I love my kids, but their interest in doing things that I'll have to attend is getting annoying. -@moooooog35

I'm used to calling myself black. Calling myself African American now is too hard -- it's like switching to the metric system. -@BeeMacDee1950

I should learn what Spanish words mean before I say them.... -@KayleeT

I've had kisses that make Judas seem sincere. -@kirkdiedrich

I was a highly paid software sales executive for decades but now I'm doing what I really love: Taking the first fucking job I was offered. -@buck4itt

If I'm ever accused of a crime, my Google search history isn't going to help matters. -@gonnakillhim

While someone is speaking to me, 80% of my inner dialogue is just wondering if my face looks interested. -@kellyoxford

It's a yogurt-based economy. The only thing that works together in Greece is eyebrows -@sethmeyers21

Our Basset Hound once jumped out a 2nd story window after a cat in the yard. Ears flapped like wings as she sailed down to the ground. -@KarenGowen
Dead horses caused HBO to cancel Luck? Man, I hope they're properly looking after the dragons on Game of Thrones. -@jessicakiang
And to the Academy: "You don't like me. You really don't like me." -@AlbertBrooks
This series is called #nitTWITS. It consists of sketch comedy inspired by funny or interesting tweets. Amber Tozer and Mark Sayre created the series, which is produced by Fantom Mechanic.

The following episode came from the tweet:
Yes the "women and children first" rule still applies when there is a murderer in the house. -@tracy_marq

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Saturday 17 March 2012

'Mutefish' on St Patrick's Day

Okay, I'm only half Irish, but I like the idea of St Patrick's Day. In Adelaide that means "Irish" pubs selling beer that has been dyed green. (Makes me think of Barry Humphrey's mother's concrete fish pond, with the wire netting on top to stop the fish escaping.) Doesn't appeal. Sorry.

So instead, I thought I'd celebrate the day with something genuinely Irish.

Here's Mutefish, a modern Irish band. The members—Peter, Daithi, Bogus, Tomas and Marka—come from Ireland, Poland, Lithuania and the Ukraine

Mutefish started as a busking project in the streets of Dublin. It was originally a three piece band—Bogus (Poland) on guitar, Marka (Lithuania) on Cajon and Vaclav (Czech Republic) on mandolin. The name for the band came from Vaclav saying he felt like a mute fish in Ireland because he couldn't speak English.

After considerable success busking, the band took a one year break because Bogus needed to go back to Poland to finish his degree. In 2008 the guys met again in Dublin to play the Galway Arts Festival. Then bass player Tomas (Lithuania) joined, Vaclav left the band, and drummer Peter (Ukraine) and flute player Daithi (Ireland) joined, to form the band as it stands today.

Sometimes they play on Grafton Street, the area where part of the movie Once was filmed. Sometimes they play on Temple Bar, an area on the south bank of the River Liffey in central Dublin, Ireland

They're not listed, but Mutefish are due to play a free gig at Whelan's today. Now, as Patrick Philip Anthony Guilfoyle would say, "God bless us and save us!" And a Happy St Patrick's Day to y'all.

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Friday 16 March 2012

"Prison Dancer"

Prison Dancer is an interactive web musical and live stage show inspired by a 2007 viral YouTube hit showing Filipino prisoners performing Michael Jackson’s Thriller

As you'd expect, this webseries about prisoners in the Philippines is made in Canada. The stars include Canadian Idol contestant Mikey Bustos.

What do they mean by 'interactive'? Each episode includes a musical number and interviews with the (fictional) convicts.  At the end of the song, you can click on any of the characters and see a short interview, wherein they outline the story from their POV.

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Here is the original viral (fifty million plus views) "Dancing Inmates of Cebu" video.

Thursday 15 March 2012

Free movies #1

The Kid
There are hundreds of free movies available online, if you know where to look. Most of them are old, and out of copyright, including many classics. Here are just a few:
  • A Dog’s Life (1918) – This endearing short film tells the story of underdogs, human and canine, succeeding despite the odds.
  • Battleship Potemkin (1925) – Directed by the great Russian director, Sergei Eisenstein. One of the most influential propaganda films of all time. 
  • City Lights (1931) – The funny and moving tale of a tramp who falls in love with a blind girl, City Lights is one of Charlie Chaplin’s greatest works. A silent film released two years after the arrival of “talkies,” it was a huge popular and critical success. Orson Welles, Stanley Kubrick and Andrei Tarkovsky all placed City Lights on their list of the ten greatest films ever made.
Virginia Cherrill
  • Greed (1924) – Erich von Stroheim directed silent drama. Considered one of the great lost films of movie history.
  • Hiroshima mon amour (1959) – Major French film directed by Alain Resnais and written by Marguerite Duras. This acclaimed film is the documentation of an intensely personal conversation between a French-Japanese couple about memory and forgetfulness. It was a major catalyst for the Nouvelle Vague, making highly innovative use of miniature flashbacks to create a uniquely nonlinear storyline.
  • His Girl Friday (1940) – Directed by Howard Hawks. A classic comedy with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, it is still considered the benchmark for rapid-fire dialogue. Quentin Tarantino wrote at the start of Pulp Fiction concerning the two characters in the opening scene:                             Their dialogue is to be said in a rapid-pace "HIS GIRL FRIDAY" fashion.
Claudette Colbert
  • Le Voyage Dans La Lune (1902) – French science fiction black and white film. Loosely based on two popular novels by Jules Verne and H. G. Wells.
  • M  (1931) – Classic film directed by Fritz Lang, with Peter Lorre. This film is a highly structured and stylized film about a serial killer. It created the serial kill genre, which includes such entries as Psycho and Silence of the Lambs. Alfred Hitchcock was a disciple of Lang as were Jacques Tourneur (The Leopard Man, 1943) and Michael Powell (Peeping Tom, 1960). M was not only the originator of the genre, but arguably remains it preeminent entry. (In German and high def.)
Peter Lorre
  • Menilmontant (1925) – When Pauline Kael, longtime New Yorker film critic, was asked to name her favorite film, this was it. French silent film.
  • Metropolis (1927)Fritz Lang’s silent German expressionist science fiction film. A landmark film.
Robert Donat
Marlene Dietrich
  • The General (1926)Orson Welles said that Buster Keaton’s The General is “the greatest comedy ever made, the greatest Civil War film ever made, and perhaps the greatest film ever made. A 2002 worldwide poll by Sight & Sound ranked Keaton's The General as the 15th best film of all time.
  • The Gold Rush (1925) – Charlie Chaplin wrote, produced, directed and starred in The Gold Rush. He said that this is the film he most wanted to be remembered for.
Charlie Chaplin

If there's something in particular you're looking for, try these websites: