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Geoffrey Gould
Reports from the set/s...

Alvaro Ron's
LA Film School student film
behindthecurtain001.jpg
Behind the Curtain

Sunday, May 30, 2004
Number 7
Back in November (2003), I starred in the Justin Lerner's UCLA student film Solo. From working on that single project, I've directly worked on several other student films.
When Solo was screened at the 2004 Valley International Film Festival (which Justin and I attended), we saw another short film, photographed, produced and directed by Rita Rani (aka Rita Ahuja), who was also in attendance.
Our three minute film Solo was to have aired during the day, but somehow got shoved to 10:45pm! I arrived earlier and saw the latter half of a very strange surreal comedy (?), for which about 90% of the seats were taken (at the screening room at the film festival's Beverly Garland Holiday Inn).
The moment their film was over and the lights came up, everyone got up to leave! I'd arrived in the dark, so Justin called to get my attention. We were aghast that within a few moments, we were the only people in the audience! The projectionist asked if we didn't mind his tossing in a short before ours. It wasn't really 10:45 yet, so (as two women had just entered), we figured why not?
The film was an intriguing mixture of black and white and colour footage. When it ended, we learned that the two women who'd come in had made the film. They were polite to stay for Solo which was then put on. They enjoyed it, and instead of the "formal Q&A" as with other films in the schedule (as it was Just Us), we four just discussed back and forth our respective films. Rita, it turned out, was enrolled at the LA Film School.
Afterwards, Justin and I went to leave, and I provided to Rita my contact card.
A few weeks later, Rita contacted me about auditioning for the project Behind the Curtain, and we set up a time, considering I had a day-job in downtown L.A. at the time.
They emailed me the sides, and on the appointed day and time, I met the project's writer/director Alvaro Ron, who was there with Rita. I read through the full script of the amusingly intriguing fantasy, and when I was ready, we ran through the two scenes a few times, Alvaro providing adjustments here and there.
About a week or so later I received a page for a callback, but I was unable to make it with my schedule, so Rita set it up that I could meet with Alvaro separately. I went in on a weekend and met with Alvaro and his assistant Manuel who read with me. Alvaro did not request the script be returned, indicated the rehearsal would be "later that week," but never really officially said "You have the part"! J
But I figured the retaining of the script and the reference to the rehearsal on the weekend was pretty much it.
Rita did page me a couple of days later to relate official "got the part" news. On Memorial Day Sunday the 30th, I called back Manuel who'd paged me, and was told there was to be a rehearsal Wednesday the 2nd... in the morning.
Whoops.
When Rita spoke with me, she indicated I would be needed for the shot at 4pm Wednesday the 7th and all day Wednesday the 9th. I figured I would have little or no trouble getting time off from work on the 7th and leaving early on the 4th. I knew I could not take two unpaid days off. I told Manuel I could certainly come later in the day (and leave work a bit early), and he indicated he would get back to me. I began to wonder how many people in the cast have no day jobs as to be able to make a weekday morning rehearsal. J

Wednesday, June 02, 2004
A surprise
The night before, Manuel notified me to drop by the next day to discuss wardrobe. I had figured my black suit, but Manuel's page message indicated a strangely colourful array. I called him back and got his machine or service, indicating I had no such clothing he described.
Alvaro and I met at the LA Film School and it turned out Manuel had confused my character with another. After Alvaro and I went over some details, he told me the shooting location late afternoon Monday, The Complex on Santa Monica Boulevard at Wilcox, where we'll shoot my first of two scenes, after which we'd rehearse the second "big scene," set within the play performance.
As we headed back to the elevator, he indicated it being such a good cast. I asked if there was "anyone I might know," which on the surface immediately sounded a stupid thing to ask, but I figured some of the actors could have been as visible in various projects such as myself.
"Did you ever watch Ally McBeal?" he asked.
"Sure," I replied.
"He played um, John Cage," he said casually.
"Really? Peter MacNicol will be in this? What role?"
"The lead, Vincent. He's doing it as a favour," he said.
Quite a favour, I thought.

Monday, June 7, 2004
Shoot, day one
I arrived for my 4pm calltime at 3:45. I was amazed at the size of the crew involved. To date it'd been the most amount of people crewing on a student film on which I'd so far worked.
I was put into made up by Sung Sil Park and then, I pretty much hung out. I was brought in around 6pm or so and with Jerod Edington as Francesco, we did our scene. We did three takes, only as the second take "for safety" had audio coming from the back alley. They did a quick insert of the vial of poison and we were done with the scene.
We then blocked and rehearsed the Dinner Scene: Jerod Edington, the lovely and talented Mandy Amano as Valentina and Debra Magit as Sophie.
Calltime was set up for noon Wednesday.

Wednesday, June 9, 2004
Shoot, day two
I arrived about ten minutes early, bringing my tux for the waiter outfit. Peter MacNicol arrived without aplomb and was very pleasant throughout the day, upon meeting me stressing to call him Peter. Playing the lead, Vincent Poinsetta, Peter was perfect.
We ran through the blocking for Peter, and for the camera. As with the substantial majority of "student films" on which I have worked, this crew was very streamlined and efficient. This production had more of a "professional" feel than some of the others, but no less the fun and passion they had for the project.
It went well; looked like some good coverage. The end of the scene was altered from the original script, but I was already off stage by then. Considering how well and smoothly things ran, I very much looked forward to seeing the finished result.

Friday, August 27, 2004
Screening
The day before I'd received a page from Rita that Behind the Curtain would be screened at the LA Film School the next-day Friday.
I headed over and arrived at the LA Film School and came across Alvaro Ron immediately. He told me Peter MacNicol couldn't attend, currently being in Hawaii. I figured that was certainly a good enough reason, considering the notice was a bit "last minute'y..." J
Rita was there a few moments later. The auditorium opened up and the seats filled so quickly that as a group we couldn't really all sit together, so I sat way up in the top rows of the stadium seating.
Announcements were made, at one point indicating that some of the films may not Entirely Be Completed. He indicated (the school is) not turning out great films: it's turn out great film makers.
Initially I was told Behind the Curtain would be shown third; even the printed program indicated as much. As it was, I had to sit through a dozen or so okay shorts of others students' projects, many of which was Okay, but one could tell they were not "quality based on experience."
They had a break at the two hour mark. Alvaro told me that Behind the Curtain would be the second one shown when it re-started. The ten minute break became more like fifteen, and eventually people began to return to their seats.
The lights went down and Behind the Curtain was shown first.
Behind the Curtain by far blew away every single film that'd been shown up to that point.
It grabbed the audience immediately, along with a very creative and innovative top-notch opening credits sequence. Almost to my surprise, I had opening titles credit! "Unfortunately," on that title card I was one of three names, and before "the camera could settle" on the three names to read them (of which I was the third name, at the bottom of the screen), the camera loomed upwards, sending my name off the screen, "only to be seen 'subliminally'," as it were. I only realized (as my name was already zooming from the screen) that I "was pretty sure I'd seen" two G's and twin f's... J
As opposed to the previously shown films, Alvaro chose far better, high-end film stock for Behind the Curtain, and clearly his DP is a genius, and his lighting crew were perfection. I recalled on set they (DP and lighting people) sure as heck knew what they was doing.
Behind the Curtain literally looks like major motion picture quality! Even its casting coup of Peter MacNicol as the lead was "just" icing on th'cake! J I figured it would do well once it hits the film festival circuit.
The only real "flaw" was the fault of the LA Film School projectionist. The film was mis-framed and at the beginning Mr. Bloomberg (Jacques Chan) says to his chauffeur (Jim Nozaki), he'll only be a minute or so, but his subtitle was just off the screen as to be unreadable. D'oh.
At the break Rita told me that we'd all get our copies in "about a month," as they had a few more things to clean up. I couldn't tell what those must be, but I sure look forward to my copy!
As I had to leave right after our film screened, I was sadly unable to stay for the actual Official Graduation which followed (even worse... having to miss actor Timothy Dalton who it turned out was scheduled to speak!), I didn't get to see whether Alvaro achieved the obviously much deserved Top Honours for his class, as his film certainly proved him to be the best film maker in that lot.
Earlier it was said that the school wasn't there to make great films, but to make great film makers. Well, they certainly did so with Alvaro Ron, though based on results, it was probably Already There for him. J They got both a great film maker who made a great film.

Monday, January 10, 2005
The Uninvited
During the first read through meeting for The Immigrants at the LA Film, school, I noticed Rita passing in the corridor! She happened to glance into the small meeting room and spotted me as well. She and I hastily mouthed back and forth, her indicating having my Behind the Curtain DVD copy, but as I thought I had a next-night rehearsal we agreed she'd bring it with her then. It turned out my information was off: we were rehearsing the following week (eight days from then, not the next night). I got home to see I didn't have Rita's number handy, so I emailed her and she didn't get back to me.
One thing Rita also was unable to impart to me during that nearby encounter was it turned out there was a scheduled evening screening of Behind the Curtain around that time. I do not (yet) have the exact date, but today (January 10th) when I was updating my payment information at Hollywood OS (which I was using at the time), John tere told me he had seen (me in) Behind the Curtain at an evening screening "a few weeks ago" at the LA Film School!
(Not surprisingly, John said it was the best of the four films screened that evening.)
I couldn't help but really wish I'd have known/been notified about that screening...

Sunday, March 20, 2005
DVD and Film Festivals
In the evening I received an email from Rita, apologizing for the delay, and requesting my mailing location for the DVD. She added it would be screened at the Rome International Film Festival and the Beverly Hills Film Festival; also that everyone was very excited, and she thanked me again for my work on the film.
I replied with my information before checking online for the festivals. The search aspect at the Beverly Hills Film Festival site was at the time not yet functional, and a google search for the Rome International Film Festival turned up several festivals such by the same name.
D'oh.

Sunday, April 10, 2005
Film Festivals
I received a pleasant and unexpected email today from Remco van de Kant. He had come across my original page (from which this content has been moved and streamlined), and he noted I couldn't find the festival sites, so he provided them: Rome International Film Festival and Beverly Hills Film Festival.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005
DVD received... sort of
The DVD for Behind the Curtain was in my rental box. Unfortunately once home I found that there were substantial problems with the copy and I emailed Rita to notify her of same; requesting and notifying her I would be bringing this copy with me Friday, hoping she can provide at that time a working replacement. There were audio skips throughout; the Disc wouldn't launch my computer's DVD player; the disc began to freeze up, finally freezing completely; inexplicably, there were Spanish subtitles throughout, and apparently no way to have the film play the film without them.
Weird.

Friday, April 15, 2005
Beverly Hills Film Festival
Earlier in the afternoon while at my day-job I got paged from Carla of Headquarters Casting asking my availability for another Under 5 contract role for the ABC late-night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live. I told her I was available and she indicated it was an Accountants Gone Crazy sketch which would be filmed on Monday.
Earlier in the week I'd ordered a ticket for the film festival, and I arrived for the 6pm program block of short films around 5pm, having bused there straight from work.
A beaming and clearly excited Alvaro Ron was already there, to my slight amusement he seemed surprised I was so early. He is preparing to scoot over the Atlantic for the screening in Italy at the end of April. Alvaro gave me an awesome colour postcard of the Behind the Curtain poster, about which he said the cards had only been completed a few days before, making Sending Them Out In Time to really notify anyone about the screening predictably problematic.
Rita had forwarded to him my email and he had with him a replacement Behind the Curtain DVD, and I returned to him the Spanish subtitled one.
Alvaro also clarified the other screening about which I'd not learned. Another film maker had wanted to screen a film but must have been a bit self-conscious showing it on its own, so he had requested of Alvaro (and I think of another LAFS student), that they show their films with his as well. So it was all sort of last-minute and impromptu so I could understand not a whole lot of word about it getting around. I reminded him he is always welcome to let me know, even last minute. If I am able to attend, then I can.
They didn't start giving out tickets until about 5:40.
Jacques arrived with his pleasant British wife and their son and we chatted while waiting to be admitted.
Audience members were given little ballots for each film. As there were seven films in our program block, we got seven ballots, each title of which one could select if it was 1. Poor, 2. Fair, 3. Good, 4. Average or 5. Excellent. But instead of circling the number and word, we were requested to tear a little bit at the bottom of the ballot. I saw a lot of CHAD problems coming up with this idea. J
I told the Chan family of the end of April screening of The Immigrants screening at LAFS and that Alvaro had told me earlier than Rita had a new film of hers showing there the same day.
We were let in around 6:15 or 6:20pm. An event photographer was taking photos: I realized this mostly after I'd passed so currently I'm not sure if I had a photo taken (I'll keep checking their site).
The auditorium screening room was luxurious to say the least. The rows were spread apart someone walking in front wouldn't step on your toes if you had your legs fully outstretched. The large, cushy seats could almost double as lounge chairs. The place made the most high-end cinema of which I've ever patron looked like Groundskeeper Willie's toolshed.
I had expected a regular cinematic theate: the festival was being held in an office building, outside from which one would never know such a facility existed. It didn't really have a lot of capacity space. Such comfort actually reduced the number of seats; I should have counted to find out how many seats it really had.
While we were waiting for the program to begin, my always-on-vibrate pager notified me of a message. Once I'd checked, I was able to relay to the Chan clan that I'd officially been booked for the Jimmy Kimmel Live gig about which I'd told them in the hallway. The directors that were there (one of the seven wasn't), were brought up and introduced. Each gave a little thank you for the attendees. Most of them neglected to re-introduce themselves once at the mic, so you weren't sure which film the Hard Work of which they were praising. J
Following the comedy Stop, Thief! about a young woman who was raised to be a shoplifter, Behind the Curtain got a lot of laughs.
When I first saw it at the LAFS, I'd noticed the slightest discontinuity in one single edit, but it must have been cleaned up / fixed as I didn't notice it this time (and at the time I knew where it had been).
Our film also got some very good applause.
Afterwards we did our little ballot tearing and turned them in as we went back into the lobby, this time the photographer being a little more noticeable. In front of the full size poster we also had a Who Was There Of The Cast And Crew photo of us taken, a copy of which I was told would be emailed to me.
It never was.

''What do I look, stupid?''
"What do I
look, stupid?"
[Don't Answer That...] "I get the
poison..."
"Slip it into
her drink..."
"Silent -
and smooth..."
"That's my
signature...!"
The fabricated
Carlucci meal
Drink preparation "No no; there's no more
room on the table..."

Sunday February 21, 2010
Time Jump; online article found
Whilst discussing various things with friends in the Para-X chat room, my working on Peter MacNicol came up, and I mentioned Behind the Curtain, and did a quick online look about it, and came across an April 2005 online article at NALIP (National Association of Latino Independent Producers), about which I'd previously been unaware, promoting Alvaro Ron, and the film's then-upcoming screening at the Beverly Hills Film Festival.


Alvaro Ron at Beverly Hills Film Festival
Geoffrey Gould imdb entry
Behind the Curtain
IMDB entry

Tuesday July 14, 2015
Deletion
I got an unexpected phone call from Peter MacNicol. While he said his name, it did not click it was the Peter MacNicol until a few minutes into the call. He had been scouring the Internet having photos of himself removed that he felt conveyed as less than positive. He had come across a frame-grab on This Page, and very politely requested I removed it, which I have.
This is by no means an unprecrdented request. With two different student films, I was requested to take down photos that conveyed aspects of the shoot. In one, the female lead was highly embarressed that she was in a bathing suit, the entire point of the film. Strangely enough, she was extremely attractive.
In the other, the director, who actually posed for photos with the cast and me, called and asked for photos that might possibly identify the apartment used as the local be removed or blotted or such. As with the previous film, I blacked out backgrounds, leaving in the actors who actually understand the concept of promoting oneself. The director called back a second, time, requesting photographic evidence of her be removed, so I blacked out her, as I did with the female lead in photos I was in.
As for Peter and this page, my computer had just crashed big time the previous Saturday during the radio show I cohost, and I assured him once I had it either repaired or replaced, I would remove the frame-grab photo from the film, the finished project of which he admitted he'd not actually seen.

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