Archive for the ‘film screening’ Category

“Lower Learning” meets Badger Luck…?

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

Last November I worked a day on a film called Lower Learning as Featured Background. As my on-set report reflects, based on results, I really should have been upgraded to Day Player for the scene. Not only was I part of a two-shot close-up with a principal, interacting with him but physically interacting with him (“albeit” a hand-shake), the director directed my personally (in actuality a director can only direct principals and other contract role players: featured and general background are directed by Assistant Directors: if the director wants something changed he tells the AD who tells the backgrounder).
But I figured, hey, it’s a tight shot of me with the pleasant and very funny Nat Faxon, so I patiently waited for the film to be released.
There is a concept of Life I’ve deduced, called Badger Luck. Those who are friends and/or good to me, tend to do Really Really Well. Those who do wrong by me or do wrong by my friends… tend to get karmic backlash. Years ago when I was booked to work five days on one film and at the very very end of the first day, about 90% of us were told we weren’t to return, that feature film Went Nowhere, never even got released (and it starred Kim Basinger Forest Whitaker, Tim Roth, Danny DeVito, Ray Liotta, et al). Never got released. Hmm.
Now with Lower Learning, (as of this blog entry’s date and time), its imdb entry still shows no release date. Ironically, at the bottom of its poster it does show October 10, 2008: I’d come across a small poster for it hastily affixed to a few local light poles, that it was only opening at the Laemmle Sunset 5. A producer friend of mine surmised this meant they could only just “four-wall it.” They couldn’t get a wider release.
I went and saw it this past Saturday morning and… well… apart from the fact my scene is omitted completely (being a flashback, not much of a real loss to the storyline: just “explaining” a minor backstory point that technically didn’t need explaining), based on the rest of the film… the flashback might have been considered the funniest scene of the film. The “comedy” is about a loser elementary school with a corrupt principal, in which pretty much all of the faculty have lost all will to teach, to inspire, or in some cases even to live. It’s almost surprising no character commits suicide in this feature, though one does come an instant away from actually doing so.
I think I actually laughed once, and there were two to three actual moments (not sequences), which had me chuckle. Beyond that the film seemed to strive towards depressing the audience as much as were its characters.
btw, apart from myself in the auditorium, there were five or six others who attended the same matinee, and they actually managed to sit through the entire film as well: I did not ask them if they’d worked on it in some capacity.
Now would the film have been a success (or at least watchable), had my scene been included, and/or even more so had they honourably upgraded me to Day Player contract? We’ll never really know. One can only go by what happened to/with the film after I wasn’t upgraded and after the scene on which I worked was cut. As always, results don’t lie.
(Ironically, I still added the title to my NetFlix queue, on the off chance its DVD contains Deleted Scene/s as Bonus Material…)

Strictly Background’s last (local) hoorah…

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

Well the LA United Film Festival screening of Strictly Background tonight was very well received.
All ten of us, along with Jeff Olan, were there. (The other night at the film festival’s kick-off party, Cary had indicated seeing me in something recently but couldn’t recall what it was; tonight he said he’d remembered, it was on PBS and I realized he meant Red Ace Cola Project, as he regularly watches the Fine Cuts program on KCET, and he’d spotted me as Eddie therein.)
As always, Strictly Background elicited laughs with its humour and irony, worried gasps with its pathos, and cheers with its triumphs. The Q&A was interesting; I jokingly took a couple of photos of the audience [bg]; mostly as I had no one available to take a photo with my camera of us on stage. At one point with the mic, I was able to relate my working on and visibility in Walk Hard (and that Jason had spotted me when he first saw it, unaware I’d worked on it), Lower Learning and the very upcoming Big Stan, as well as announcing the most recent work, as the principal lead in the regional wild spot McDonalds commercial.
There were some interesting comments amongst the questions. One was that it be mandatory viewing for all new SAG members. Another suggested it be shown at all high schools (I would presume that would be to let young still-dreamer types know it’s as even much more hard work than it is simply being attractive).
Many very nice people thanked and congratulated me (as well as the rest of the cast), one of whom turned out to be the lovely Jocelyn, who’d only sent me a MySpace add request quite recently.
Jeff Olan had set up some sort of after-party at Busby’s. I had a ride with Jack [“John“] and his wonderful wife Elizabeth, and initially we figured we’d stop in briefly. On our way to the nearby event, the directions and details indicated there was a ten dollar cover charge just to get in after 10pm, and it was 9:55pm when we left the theatre. As it was there was no available street parking, so nothing other that expensive valet parking. As much as we wanted to attend, the combined expense and impracticality was too much of an issue. I didn’t have much of a chance to talk with Jeff Olan and/or meet some of those he brought (the only one I recognized right off was actor Jon Polito). As we went around the corner from being unable to find a place to park, we could see at the door people having to pay to get in, which pretty much clinched it for us.
Jack and Elizabeth got me home safely about a quarter after ten.

Film Festival Kick-off Party report

Friday, April 18th, 2008

Last night was the big kick-off party for the Los Angeles United Film Festival.
Just to make sure, I called Jason Connell before heading out, to clarify the level of attire. I figured “upscale casual,” as they’d say on set, but Jason said flatly, “It’s black tie.”
“Black tie?” I repeated incredulously. Jason reiterated it was to be black tie. I paused, suspecting Jason could be pulling my leg; I’m not as gullible as I am one who takes as honourable a man’s word. But as I had to be sure, I pointed out politely I’d be displeased if I get out my tux, bus all the way there only to find out it was a joke, at which point he started laughing that, yeah he was just messin’with me.

I arrived earlier than expected: the buses I took should have gotten me there spot-on 7pm, but it was more like 6:45. As I’d not been to the Gibson Guitar Showroom, I had to look around for its entrance, not quite at the front as it would have seemed, and at which there was no signage at the front.
Inside the lovely ladies of the PR firm handling the event were scrambling to be ready as the clock struck seven. Inside, host Jason was pleased to see me, amusingly though not surprisingly being pulled in every direction at once throughout the evening (though I doubt it he found it that funny [g] …).
Marvin arrived shortly after I did, and of the rest of the cast, Terry, Mark, Tafan, Cecilia and Cary all were there, like the crowd, showing up in dribs and drabs, but the place did indeed get packed relatively quickly.
Almost immediately after arriving I discovered there was virtually nothing for a soda-drinker such as myself to drink. It was like being on a set with the world’s worst craft services. There were these numerous vitamin and energy drinks, one of which was some sort of tea that the girl insisted tasted like orange soda, with natural sugar-cane sweetener. Thankfully I noticed they were adding vodka in the novelty glass, to which I quickly put a stop regarding my serving. Sheesh, what if they served that to someone with a drinking problem, not mentioning they were tossing a big dollop of vodka in it?! Their drinking containers were plastic glow cups; similar to glow-sticks, these glowed a bright pink, giving the impression one was drinking some sort of nuclear waste material. The orange tea itself was okay, until I swallowed, then each mouthful tasted utterly sweetener’less, and that gagginly-bitter taste that I hate from tea. As I needed the hydration, I was able to drink it, but I literally classified it as “Drinkably potable unpleasantness.” [bg]
Casting director Jeff Olan came as well, but I was surprised Jack [“John“] Richards was not in attendence, though he could have arrived after I left; my ears were ready to start bleeding around 9:30. As it was, Louis was just arriving as I finally departed around 9:40pm.
One of my best friends attended, though sadly will not be coming Saturday night to the screening, having made other plans despite my planning on spotting the ticket (though my friend was not aware I was planning to do that). As tickets were on sale right at the party/event, I was glad before she arrived I hadn’t already bought one to hand to her, then to learn she wasn’t going to attend. Considering her networking skills, and Jeff Olan having informed me earlier he is bring numerous industry folk Saturday night, I was taken aback she wouldn’t have considered I’d have gotten her in to the screening evening.
For the event, Jason had had on hand a videograper for the film festival as well as relating to Strictly Background, as well as a interviewer and videographer from Hollywood Reporter, which interviewed each of the Strictly Background cast members in turn, as did, after a sense, Jason’s own videographer. In that case instead of being asked questions, I just had to ramble on a bit about working on Strictly Background, et al. When I was done I discovered the Jason and the cast had been brought up on the platform/stage for a photo opp, so I was just able to get up there with them.
As so often with these sort of events, they had that sort of DJ who clearly believes that no one attending such an event should be allowed actually carry on any sort of conversation with anyone else, cranking the music volume “up to eleven…” (at least classic old school stuff).
While my friend hadn’t the gas to drive me home, thankfully the next bus back up Santa Monica Boulevard was already in sight as I reached the nearest bus stop, so I got home shortly after 10pm.

The Los Angeles United Film Festival begins tonight/Friday and runs through Sunday April 18th-20th at the Fine Arts Theatre, 8556 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills [90211].
All tickets for the festival screenings are purchasable securely online via PayPal. Remember also to order your ticket/s (all of ten dollars each), to see the heart-felt, four-time award-winning feature documentary Strictly Background (in which Yours Truly is second billing [g] …), screening tomorrow Saturday April 19, 2008 at 6:50pm!
This will be the last southern-California local film festival at which Strictly Background will be shown.

I will be in attendance; after the screening will be a Q&A with the director and what cast is in attendance. To my knowledge it could be all ten of us, but I will certainly be there, and I hope to see some of my local MySpace friends there as well…!

So the Getty Images photographer at the event takes dozens of photos, and only uploads 26 of them Requesting my name spelling got him one of my contact cards so he could spell it correctly, and the only shot of me that gets uploaded (and a lot of photos were taken of me throughout the evening), was of my racing onto the stage (from a video interview), as I’d only just been hastily notified to run there, whilst yanking off my jacket: on the right in the fourth photo that’s my blue shirt’s sleeve. Smooth.
Next time I’ll have sticky-notes with my name typed on’em instead of wasting my contact cards.
Gee, thanks Getty Photogaphs!

Jason sent some links to articles on and about the film festival and in general:

Strictly Background poster

USC “Red Ace Cola Project” screening

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

After registering a new casting place specializing in booking commercial background (far better paying than a day doing a regular SAG feature or TV), in the later afternoon I went down to see Red Ace Cola Project, screening with other USC films. I worked three days on the project’s five day shoot… 39 months ago
The short was very funny, and I received my DVD copy of it.
Red Ace Cola Project will air as part of the Fine Cuts program on KCET, Saturday, April 12th, from 10 to 11pm.
The short will also screen (presumably with other short films), at the Crest Theatre at 1262 Westwood Blvd [90024] on Thursday, May 1st at 7:30pm.
(I’m told there will be a “lavish” reception following the Crest screening.)