I’m slowly yet surely getting done with my second draft of Love Is The Devil (still a working title) and I’m actually getting emotional because I really think that this could be great as long as I don’t mess up. I’ve watched it a million times in my head and I want to do everything I can to bring my vision to life.
Hey guys. I talked about working on my director’s reel a few days ago and I finally finished late last night. It features everything I’ve worked on since 2011 and includes some stuff that I haven’t put out yet. After re-watching older videos and watching the reel a few dozen times, it’s just a reminder that I still have room to grow.
I’d say I’m at a decent place considering I didn’t really throw myself into film until around 2011 (dipping into my rent money to buy a camera was a good and bad idea) but I’m not satisfied. As soon as you look at something you’ve done and you can’t find something that can be improved, it means you’ve plateaued and you’ll either stay at that level or degrade over time. My reel might come off as eclectic or unfocused to some people but I look at it as challenging myself to get better by doing different things. I’ll update it in a few months but for now, it’s solid but it can be a lot better.
P.S. If you run a production company in Florida and you like what you saw, don’t hesitate to hire me.
So as I type, I’m putting together my first reel. I wanted to wait until I got my full slate of summer projects shot but the way I see it, I need something to show potential employers and I can always update it in a few months.
The reel will feature almost everything I’ve written, directed, shot and/or edited since 2011, which includes short films, the videos I worked on during my time at Monstruosite by Dolly Donshey and a teaser trailer I shot for Tampa hip-hop artist Jabez’s Frequency Love mixtape. I still have some kinks to work out but it’s cool to look back to see how much I’ve grown over the years. I’ll post it
everywhere on the blog when it’s ready.
While I’ll mostly use this blog to talk about my projects, every now and again I’ll share some music that I enjoy, like this Asher Roth song. I’ve been a fan of Asher Roth since he came out (I’m talking The Greenhouse Effect mixtape, not “I Love College”) and it’s a shame that he never really blew up. Despite a forgettable debut album, he still drops quality mixtapes and songs from time to time so maybe he’ll get that second chance. Until then, here’s “G.R.I.N.D. (Get Ready It’s A New Day)”.
Everyone has their flaws. Everyone has something they’re bad at or some kind of flaw that makes them a less than perfect human, which is a good thing. If everyone was perfect, all we would do is engage in continent-wide sex orgies while we perfected our AIDS/Cancer/Westboro Baptist Church supercure. As wonderful as that sounds, blemishes are the things that give us character and separate us from the robots and Ryan Gosling.
Believe it or not, I’m not perfect. I know it’s hard to believe but it’s true. I won’t break down the laundry list of things that are wrong with me but I will tell you two things that I’m notorious for:
1. Forgetting things, primarily when I’m shooting something. I can’t count how many times I’ve forgotten a mic or my backup battery.
2. Getting ahead of myself when it comes to developing new ideas.
When I’m working on the script for one project, I tend to look two projects into the future. It’s like my current project is a steady, monogamous relationship. I’ve been working on it for a while and it’s good but there’s this hot new intern at the office and she’s been giving me the eye. While I’m committed to the current idea, the future idea is so tempting in those hipster glasses and black stockings…
All fantasies aside, I’m having this issue as I type. With Marry Me getting towards the end of post-production, I’ve started working on the script for a short film called Sweet Life. I don’t want to give too much away too soon since I’m only two and a half scenes into the script (I work at a snail-like pace most of the time) but the film’s about a recent college grad who lacks a clear idea of what to do with himself after getting rejected by his dream grad school and a genie who decides to help him out along the way. Throw in some love and conflict and you have a low budget Aladdin without the bitchin’ soundtrack and Robin Williams.
The idea for Sweet Life came to me while I was on a cruise with a few friends last summer. I was playing Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange album almost nonstop at the time and the songs Sweet Life (which may or may not have inspired the title of the film) and Super Rich Kids really stuck out to me. At the time, the film was mostly going to take place at a country club but then I realized I probably wouldn’t be able to pull that off so it got scrapped. Despite making necessary changes, one line from Sweet Life really stuck out to me:
Why see the world when you got the beach?
It was so dope to me and I decided that no matter what, this would be one of the themes for the film. You don’t need a lot of money to see the beauty in the world or the people in it and even if I fail in all other aspects of the film, that’s the big thing I want to get across with the viewer. Right now, the aim is to get the script, location scouting and casting done in time for a late June/early July shoot but we’ll see how that goes. After that, I have The Boy Who Never Went Outside, which I’m adapting from a prose poem I wrote for class a few years ago, on the slate. But of course, I’m looking ahead.
During the Marry Me casting process, I met up with an actress. She didn’t get the part (partly due to being a little older than I wanted for the part and also because Katelyn knocked it out of the park) but she expressed an interest in getting away from rom-coms and doing something grittier. This helped plant the seed for the idea. While I’m not doing this future project dead set on her (although she’ll most likely be the first person I contact for an audition), the idea of a revenge film with a female lead is new territory for me. I’ve been looking to Korean revenge films (I Saw The Devil and Oldboy being the main ones), Nicholas Winding Refn’s films Drive and Only God Forgives and an indie game called Hotline Miami for inspiration as far as images I want to try and recreate and a general vibe.
To make matters worse on the “looking two projects ahead” front, I listened to indie rocker Dirty Beaches’ new album Drifters / Love Is The Devil the other day and it’s exactly what I’m aiming for in terms of sound. It’s gritty and dark and heartbreaking and makes not jumping into this new idea difficult. Things could change if something happens casting wise or one of the aforementioned ideas proves to be difficult to do on a low budget, this idea could move up on the to-do list. Until that happens, here’s to keeping it in pants.
That’s, you know, a reference back to my hot intern/monogamous relationship bit earlier in the post. I’m not actually talking about my…oh, you know what I’m saying.
To end this post on a less awkward note, here’s “Love Is The Devil” from Dirty Beaches’ aforementioned album.
Howdy, WordPress followers. Like many of you, I hate people who flood my wall with their creative endeavors. I understand you worked hard on your mixtape and the accompanying music video and I respect that; you’re putting in a lot of hard work and you want to be heard. That being said, it’s pretty fucking annoying.
Of course, I’m in the same boat. I work hard at what I do and I want people everywhere to see my latest projects. That being said, I don’t feel comfortable going to my Facebook friends’ walls and bug them. Since 2009, my Vimeo and YouTube pages have combined for over 6000 views. In an online world of grumpy cats and heart stopping epic meals, 6000 views ain’t shit. That being said, I’m proud to say I got those views without going the route of the struggle rapper. The way I see it, if people want to see my stuff, they’ll watch it and if they really like it, they’ll share it with their friends.
Marry Me won’t be available right away since I’m aiming to enter the festival circuit for the first time. The thought of people outside of my friends and family watching (and judging) something I made is terrifying but it’s a step I know I have to take. While I refuse to shove my films down my friends’ throats, I have no issues sharing music that I enjoy. Music is one of the most important parts of each project I do and I generally make a playlist of songs that have the same feel as the project. While I obviously can’t afford to license these songs at this point in my career, they help me get into the zone during the writing process. Marry Me has a Spotify playlist that features 150 songs by different artists. This Soundcloud set is just a small sampling of what I was listening to. While I won’t force it on you (I’m looking at you, hardcore Christians), it’s highly recommended if you’re into quality jams.
After months of putting it off, I finally got a really nasty tooth pulled. Nasty might not even be a strong enough word to describe it but I won’t go into it today. As the three shots of novacane the oral surgeon gave me continues to wear off and I eagerly await the opportunity to pop a Vicodin pill (two more hours!), now seems like a good time to get this blog going and since I recently wrapped up a short film that went through a few production problems, that seems like a good subject to start off with.
I have eclectic taste when it comes to things like movies and music. I love the Fast and Furious franchise (Fast Six was phenomenal and I don’t care what anyone says) and I love Wes Anderson films. I can spend the afternoon alternating between St. Vincent (who I’ll get back to in a bit) and A$AP Rocky with relative ease. I like to think my varying tastes influences me when I start working on a new project. While a lot of directors will find a genre they’re comfortable with and stick with it, I try to switch things up with each project. While this hasn’t always resulted in fantastic results, I like to challenge myself to do something different. What’s the point in doing something if you’re not willing to push yourself?
Marry Me is the latest product of me trying to push myself. The title is inspired by a beautiful St. Vincent song (and album) which apparently got its name from an Arrested Development quote. So basically, the title of my film is inspired by an album name that was inspired by a TV show quote. Anywho, every year, Campus MovieFest comes to USF and three out of the four years I’ve entered (I couldn’t come up with anything during my sophomore year), I failed to even crack the Top 16. I’m not bitter, though.
Yes, I am. Anyway…
Since this past CMF would be my last one as an undergraduate, I was determined to make it my first appearance during the finale.
Marry Me, a film about a young couple that rushes into marriage, was supposed to be the short film to do it but like most low budget projects, something went horribly, terribly, dumbfoundingly wrong.
The lovely young lady you see was supposed to be our leading lady (she’ll remain nameless because I don’t care for her). When we had auditions, I was already rooting for her as soon as she walked in and thankfully, she had some acting ability to back up the look that I wanted for the love interest and she was pretty pleasant to be around. Fast forward to the weekend before CMF actually started and we had our first shooting day, which went pretty smoothly aside from the textbook late start (if we don’t start at least a half hour late, something’s wrong). The next day, however, she messaged me and told me that she couldn’t finish production. Two days before the competition and we were boned.
Rather than holding a quickie audition during the week (we planned to shoot our remaining scenes that weekend), I decided it would be best to try and come up with a new idea that we could shoot and edit in two days and save Marry Me for another time. That same night, A Man’s Worth was born. While we didn’t place, the fact that we managed to make a halfway decent movie in less than a week is something to be proud of.
A few months later, I re-worked the Marry Me script to add a few scenes that I had to leave out of the CMF version and re-casted the leads, replacing She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named and Darin (who couldn’t do it because of a busy school schedule) with Katelyn Studer (who appeared in Limbo in a supporting role) and Neil Pepi (who has been a crew member for The Park and Limbo).
Production lasted for three days and it was primarily Katelyn, Neil and I. When I wrote the script, I wanted the setting to be in Scott and Alison (the main characters)’s “world”. In my mind, this world revolves around their relationship from beginning to end. The colors are warm and vivid when they’re together but become blue and icy when they’re apart. The main message I wanted to get across with this film is that when you really care about someone, you have to be willing to put yourself out there, even if heartbreak is the final result. While most people haven’t gone to the extreme that Scott and Alison will, I feel like this is a message that everyone can relate to.
Even though I’m ultimately happy with the way Marry Me is looking so far, I still have room to grow. My shot selection needs to get cleaner, my dialogue needs to get stronger, I need to become better at scouting locations and most importantly, I need to be more demanding of my actors. Prior to this film, I was always under the impression that since I couldn’t be too stern with my actors since I couldn’t pay them. I mean, what was stopping them from walking away if I pissed them off or was too critical of them? While I’ve had the good fortune of working with some naturally gifted actors (Katelyn and Neil being the latest addition to that stable), they wouldn’t join my productions if they didn’t want to give it their all and work hard and I’m doing them an injustice by being, for a lack of better words, soft on them. I’ll never be a guy who will demand 99 takes or bite someone’s head off if they mess up a line but I want to be able to get the best out of my actors and they want the best out of me. Marry Me is just the beginning of a hopefully prolific summer. Here’s to getting better every day.