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Geoffrey Gould
Reports from the set/s...

Strictly Background
Jason Connell's feature documentary

2005, 2006
Second Billing
I cannot really fathom as to why, when working on the feature documentary Strictly Background, that I completely neglected to keep notes on what dates what was done where and when. I think I first saw the audition notice on and as one of the reviews even mentions, I was not only an hour early but I was the first in line. The early spring audition in 2005 mainly was each applicant/candidate sitting on a stool for the camera and regaling a few anecdotes and stories about experiences and such. I do not recall how many people that director Jason Connell interviewed, but he knew straight off the bat I was definitely one of those he wanted in his film.
Initially Jason chose thirteen people, but narrowed it down to ten on which the film primarily focuses:

Apparently Jason had done a little bit of background work himself, and on set met Jay Michaels. The idea of a documentary about the background artists' "lifestyle" appealed to Jason and he began to put together his idea/s.
Each of us was interviewed on our own in our own respective domiciles. I do not recall the date at which Jason and cameraman Bryan arrived at my place (even amusingly startling me by having the camera already running for my opening the door initially to admit the two into my domicile), but generally I spoke for probably three or more hours. Jason would ask questions, to which I would provide A Complete Answer, meaning, the question goes unheard: the answer has to start out worded like a Miss America answer, a la, "The reason I became an actor..." et al.
Jason had specific topics on which he wanted each of us to touch, and as I predicted when I saw the final product, the interviews were almost montages, each of us with the More Compelling Responses showing our answers. Some of the editing was a bit... judicious. I had brought out several of my standard Bring To Set wardrobe, including but not limited to my doctor/lab tech coat. I was pleased I'd be showing this, so potential casting people would see me wearing it, even if briefly. In the final cut all that is shown is my remarking of a mechanic's type shirt (which I've yet even to need), and my mentioning having "liberated" it from a brief job that didn't work out. No hint I even own a lab coat, even though I've worn it in two commercials, and for a few student films.
Not surprisingly, studio films refused to allow Jason's project to film any behind-the-scenes stuff, so innovatively, Jason found small indie projects that would allow him to film on their set, in exchange for their actually booking actors from the documentary. In this way I was booked as a Under-5 contract role for the indie film The Achievers (a SAG-Experimental [payment deferred], (but it was never released or picked up for distibution), and I did some background for a small feature that became titled Tripping Forward. I think someone told me they actually saw that at a screening someplace, but they didn't spot me. In the actual Strictly Background film, apart from showing me on set, and later our being thanked, et al, there is a momentary clip of my being in holding, but it isn't focused on me. I noticed this the second or third time I saw Strictly Background. In the moment I can be seen chatting with a very pretty newbie actress; at the time when we were close to done for the day, she and I swapped information but hers got misplaced and I never heard from her.
Terry, Cary and Marvin worked a funeral scene for the very funny Bob Goldthwait directed indie feature Sleeping Dogs Lie its titled changed to Stay for its DVD. I Netflixed it when I discovered its updated title.
After accuing over seventy hours of footage, the task began of editing. I had provided Jason with some photos taken on-set, as well as titles of films on which I worked. Jason took clips from our released-on-DVD films and set up an effect that causes the clips to go into black and white, except for the background artist so s/he is easily spotted.
The finished feature's first official screening was at the Raleigh Studios screening room on Merose, across the street from Paramount. Each of the cast was picked up in a white Hummer'sine (in leiu of an actual limosine) and driven to the studio. (Ironically once there we were then each respectively on our own: afterwards I literally had to walk home, unaware at the time of John Richards living within easy walking distance of me.) Jason conveyed to us that major execs at Disney were in attendance, and they assured him Strictly Background would kill at film festivals.
They weren't wrong.
At the San Fernando Valley International Film Festival, Strictly Background tied for Best Documenary, right out of the gate winning its first film festival award at its first film festival. It would win seven Best Documentary awards, total.
I learned of John Richard's proximity when the cast was urged to attend the Newport Beach Film Festival, and Mark Nobel and I each made our way to his place. Inside we met John's wonderful wife Elizabeth, and their grey parrot Dolly. Dolly instantly took a shine to me, which both Elizabeth and John noticed, considering Dolly is very particular as to who she likes right off the bat. I also learned John is his screen name: there's already a Jack Richards (his real name), so for working on film sets he goes by John.
Sadly, the film did not win at the Newport Beach festival, but it had a utterly full house, and everyone loved it. We had a Q&A in the front afterwards, and we each mentioned a few Up To What We'Ve Been Since the film was shot stuff. One couple afterwards claimed to have seen and recogized me from Blades of Glory, for which I thanked them, but couldn't be sure if they were being polite as complimentary as they could or what. In Blades of Glory the best view of me has me almost off frame at the left. The couple must be really observant.
There was an afterparty at the nearby mall's Ikea (!), and Jack and I had discovered a strong mutual interest about which we discussed between being contratulated by various people, including a super cute Canadian woman who all was bursting into tears for us about how badly treated we backgrounders are treated, etc., etc. Foodwise, I was thrilled as they had Swedish Meatballs, on which I filled myself. Well, it was an Ikia, after all...
Noting one of the cast members' rides decided to leave early and pretty much abandoned him there, Jack agreed to take him home. Through much of the ride home he espoused his um... views on various subjects about which Jack and I had begun speaking. Mutually Jack and I quickly realized we'd best wait until we had him dropped off before Jack and I could converse freely. Even though he finally did fall asleep through the latter half of the long drive and we realized we could continue our discussion, Jack and I continued to speak in more hushed, conspiratorial tones as not merely to maintain the backseat passenger being qui— er, that is, letting him sleep, but also in case he did wake up and suddenly realized he was hearing what "horribly controversial" topics Jack and I were discussing (such as ghosts and hauntings, the paranormal in general, and metaphysics).

More film festivals
Just as I was wondering about visiting back east for Memorial Day weekend for my mother Jeannette's birthday, Jason notified me that he had submitted Strictly Background to the three New Jersey film festivals about which my mother had told me, the information of each of which I'd immediately conveyed to Jason. We had missed the one for Montclair, which sucked as I/we could have had a massive turn out for that, but the Hoboken Film Festival had accepted it, screening it the first week of June. So I made the travel arrangements to spend a week with my mother, as well as my brother and his family, and Mom and I planned to attend the film festival.
It turned out the Hoboken Film Festival was relatively new, and despite a moderate amount of press, it really didn't promote itself in a way that we had the biggest turn out. But those who attended loved it (as did my mom). Jason and I fielded a few questions, but the feature was the Very Last Film the film festival showed. Mom had I knew where it was, as one of her films was also screening at the festival, in which she played a judge (the film was okay, but might have been better had not the majority of the "actors" spoken as though New Jerseyans all speak like badly stereotyped Brooklyners).
Jason's passion for the Strictly Background project was contagious. He created his owm films festivals (the Los Angeles United Film Festival, the Tulsa United Film Festival [Tulsa, Oklahoma being Jason's home town], and the New York United Film Festival), each at which the film was the highlight (none of the festivals were judged-festivals, and being a fair minded fellow, Jason would not have "let it" win if they were).
At the September 2008 New York United Film Festival, Strictly Background is scheduled to be shown again on the seventh of September.
Amusingly, Jason would indicate some new angle that wasn't always quite the way it was initially conveyed. We were "all" asked to take part on a local cable talk show, The Gregory Mantell Show, but on arrival learned that the host wanted to speak with three specific actors sitting in with Jason, each having their own segment. The rest of us could watch it in the studio, but we were not an official Studio Audience; we had to keep silence throughout the half hour taping. We were also "allowed" to come in during the show's closing credits. Essentially we just rush the stage (the entire episode is online here).
The feature screened and won at the Cork Film Festival in Ireland (Louis managed to get out to that one, and was treated like quite the celebrity), and it screened in Norway, winning again there as well, even selling out over a locally made documentary.

Geoffrey Gould with ''Strictly Background'' cast at the Chinese Theatre
The Strictly Background cast pose at the Chinese Theatre
before the first screening at Raleigh Studios.
John Richards, Cary Mizobe, Cecilia Hartfeld,
Terry Bolo, Mark Nobel, Tafan Nieves, Louis McCarten.

Sitting/squatting/kneeling: Jason Connell, Geoffrey Gould,
Marvin Rouillard, Jay Michaels.
Geoffrey Gould with mother Jeannette Gould and director Jason Connell for ''Strictly Background'' screening at Hoboken Film Festival
With mother Jeannette Gould and director Jason Connell
for Strictly Background screening at Hoboken Film Festival.

2007, 2008
A film producer friend of mine was curious as to a possible theatrical release, but inquiries were met with vague Something In The Works responses. My producer friend even offered to see of a deal could be brokered, but Jason was busy with its final Los Angeles screening and never got to returning the call, and missed the opportunity of a theatrical release. My producer friend suspected either Jason really had some awesome theatrical release deal about which he couldn't speak, or that he was being polite and actually Had Nuthin'. It turned out the "big in-the-works deal" was Strictly Backgroundgoing direct to DVD, which the entire cast understandably had dreaded.
The film screened at the Fine Arts Theatre on Wilshire. Even my great supervisor Amanda from my temp day-job came to see it, enjoying it very much. We had a big Q&A afterwards, and Jason showed off the Norway trophy he'd finally received in the post. Jeff Olan (also very featured in the film), invited the cast to a big afterparty nearby he'd set up. Jack and Elizabeth had offered to drive me home, though we were curious about the party. According to the printed-out invitation, after 10pm it was $10 to get in to the restaurant/bar, and it was hitting ten already. As we passed it we could see Mark going through his pockets for cash for admittance. Having to pay for a party (technically for which was For Us), as well as having to spend time seeking out a parking spot (for which more money would have to be spent), we sadly chose just to head home.

Summer 2008
The mid-July DVD release got moved to August 5th, which I learned when Strictly Background moved from my Netflix Saved List to my actual Netflix Queue. Jason agreed to create a QuickTime .mov file of my McDonalds commercial, so it can be added to my demo reel. He told me there was a tentative, possible screening at Hollywood OS in Burbank. This was confirmed by an independent source, and online I went and found the event information for 02 August.
Jason also indicated a possible eventual screening at SAG: I wondered if I would have to find out on my own as well if that were to come to pass.
Coinciding with Jason's birthday, Thursday 31 July was a cast DVD release party at the Casting Grill near Universal Studios.
Having made prior arrangements, I walked over to Jack Richards's place, and we chatted before he got ready. Dolly seemed very pleased to see me and spent much of my time there on my shoulder, giving me li'l kisses and insisting on my attention, including but not limited to making some very peculiar sound effects, saying "How are y'?," and occasionally making a strange sound that could have been imitating a dog. Jack's wife Elizabeth drove us there (Jack drove back, dropping me off, then Mark who'd requested a ride).
We arrived "late," a bit after the 7:30pm scheduled "start" time, learning Jason had only just arrived. As more and more of the cast arrived, we did what we could to catch up as to who was doing what. Jack had already relayed how he had seen a gig for 50-Something Kissing Couples: he enrolled Terry Bolo to be a partner in it... the two went to Central... Terry got three day's work and they didn't book Jack at all...
As my guest to the event I invited my friend Jennifer, who had seen the documentary at two or three of its screenings. Also in attendence were the lovely and pleasant Carla and Angela of Hollywood OS, and of course, Jeff Olan (who accepted a copy of my demo reel).
As a birthday gift I gave the appreciative Jason three nice large photos of his dog Brody, two of shots in which was Jason as well (I'd taken the shots a few weeks earlier when I picked up the updated promo cards promoting the DVD release).
Eventually the group moved to the second level and viewed the DVD's Bonus Features. Most of them were great, but I am not thrilled with what I classify Propaganda Editing, meaning, editing something to imply something other than what took place at the time (e.g., murdered David Koresh being made to look like a nut but only playing partial sentences out of context, or interviews of 9-11 witnesses reporting the WTC cellar explosions taking place minutes before either of the plane collisions, yet the aired reports omitting any reference to the WTC cellar explosions taking place minutes before any actual plane collision).
In my case, unbeknownst to me during my in-apartment interview segment, Bryan had filmed aspects of my apartment. We never went into my bedroom, and no footage was filmed therein; having acquired my roommate's permission, we filmed in my roommate's relatively more spacious area. But the shown footage of some of the nearby mess of my roommate's (a few computers in various states of repair), the greasy stove at its very worst (between my roomate's monthly Clean Everything To Spic and Span binges), but no disclaimer of those facts. Gee, thanks, guys.
An interview segment regarding my work on The Practice omits the start of the story, so there is no mention of it being a Day Player contract role; as I had no lines, the use of clips almost seems as though the work was very Featured Background, which was anything but the case.
With the Favourite Film segment, one almost can get that they cut away from me the instant I state the first of several titles. Then when many of the others cite The Wizard of Oz, as I do as well (albeit my reference to the classic being omitted), when they cut back to me declaring my ability to recite all of [The Wizard of Oz], it comes across to my still refering to the one title of my listing that they "allowed" me to say: the South Park movie.
These irritants aside, the Bonus Features are rather well put together. I actually wish there had been more. There is a few shots of exterior MOS footage of me in the feature, of which I have no memory about what I may have been speaking, and I wouldn't have minded seeing what some of those must have been.

Saturday August 02, 2008
"Final" screenings
The documentary was screened at a 2pm and a 5:30pm showing at Hollywood OS. Their online page for the event listed one or two cast members, but from Jason we learned if we were able to attend we could, so for the 2pm showing there were seven or eight of us. For the 5:30pm it was down to four or five (plus Jeff Olan, who was there for both screenings as well).
Predictably it was very well received, and each of the Q&A segments was far longer than any of the film festival Q&A's I'd attended. At one point I managed to plug Hollywood OS (as I'd once subscribed to their service; in the film one even sees me online at my Hollywood OS profile). I was also able to clarify my Day Player contract role for The Practice, as Cary and I each related the experience of our respectively Having Our Own Trailer/s.
Between the two screenings we hit a restaurant next door which had somewhat sketchy service. It was also extremely pricey, and I was about to leave to forage on my own, when Jason, caught up with the day's events in general, generously told me to go ahead and order. Later it turned out he really wasn't paying attention to what he was saying, but he still made good on it; I assured him I would pay him back but he just offered I take him out for coffee someday soon. As it was, Mark all but stiffed his part of the check, despite after having consumed lots of food on the table much of which either wasn't hit or was supposed to be communal (such as the garlic bread, one large piece of which he took before I could get to it; at his plate he tore it in half but instead of placing one half back on the communal plate, he just placed it on his plate and proceeded to eat the first half...). Jason by then had actually moved to another table, with Angela and Carla of Hollywood OS, and Jeff Olan. Jason was not thrilled to learn (not from me) of Mark leaving barely enough to cover what he'd ordered (as opposed to what he'd eaten), and not even a tip. (At the Thursday party, when a platter would come, Mark simply consumed it so no one could have any of the chicken wings, et al.)
The second Q&A finally ended around almost 8pm. As Hollywood OS in on Magnolia and it was Saturday night, I had no idea as to what time the next bus was scheduled to come by, if any more were to come by that time. The very lovely and friendly Carole Woodle graciously had her son drop me at the Univesal Red Line. Carole is a professional Oprah impersonator, despite her being far prettier. She is certain she's worked on something with me, but as often happens, she and I couldn't figure out on what. For such an eventuality, I had actually printed out a copy of my reports page, and then managed to neglect bringing it along with me.

Tuesday August 05, 2008
DVD: the "review," of sorts
The theatrical previous-version of Strictly Background is a "little different" than the version that is on DVD, though the majority of that is due to the score. Jason could not get the rights to many of the more relevant songs he used, so the Film Festival Version effectively had a "temp track." Jason's friend Frank Lenz was brought in at the 11th hour and did a score to replace the music the film could not use.
At the "DVD Launch"/Jason's birthday party Thursday July 31st, the Bonus Features were shown to all in attendance. Called "Extras," as a bit of a word play, they are broken up into two sections: Group Interviews and Individual Clips.
As with much of the film, all that is shown is true, but there is still a lot very much misrepresented (almost to the point of seeming mean spirited).
As previously indicaed, as anyone who really knows me is aware, my favourite film in the entire world is The Wizard of Oz. In the Group Interview, I begin to rattle off a few titles of films of which I never tire of watching, mistakenly not naming the classic 1939 Oz film first. Anyone really paying attention may notice that it is an abrupt cutting away from me the instant I name the South Park movie as the first title, but it falsely comes across as though that is my favourite film. Even more irritating (and this is one of the mean spirited bits), while other cast members do mention The Wizard of Oz, when it finally does cut back to me, declaring how I can recite [The Wizard of Oz] verbatum, the editing comes across and/or willfilly though wrongly implies as though I am still refering to the South Park movie, and not The Wizard of Oz.
In a segment called Homes, they show my answering the door. At no time in the feature or the Bonus Features is my part of my apartment ever shown. With his previously acquired permission I used my roommate's area as there was more room in which to film my interview segment. Again with truth-albeit-misrepresented: without my knowledge or my consent, Bryan filmed the then-disarray of my roommate's area, including but not limited to my roomate's computers in various states of repair, an overly greasy stove (from my roommate's oft grease-filled cooking), as it was near the time my roommate would go into one of his monthly to bi-monthly cleaning binges, where the place would become so spotless to seem as though we'd barely just moved in.
Had I even suspected this filming of my roommate's apparent but inaccurate messiness would be done, I would have notified my roommate aforehand and we'd have cleaned the place immaculately. I expected only to have shown for the feature me sitting in the chair.
While I am shown retelling my experience working with Sharon Stone, the segment completely omits any reference to that gig being a Day Player contract role.
Now this does not mean I never "deliberately" embarrassed myself on my very own in Strictly Background; in the Individual section, my explaining my Badger moniker includes my showing the "This is why you have a Badger" t-shirt a previous girlfriend had made for me as a gift. The shirt in the clip got a huge laugh at the DVD release party, so I felt self-conscious, but at least I knew I did that on my own: no one t'blame but myself (at least Jack's wife Elizabeth was thrilled to hear me citing the comprehensive Ted Andrew book Animal Speak).

At least I learned the feature documentary was initially extremely popular on its DVD release.
The previous day in my NetFlix queue the title came up as having a Short Wait.
In the very early morning hours of August 05, its release date, the Strictly Background DVD came up as being a Very Long Wait (emphasis added).

''Strictly Background'' DVD cover
The Strictly Background DVD cover art.

Strictly Background
DVD for purchase

Strictly Backgroundofficial trailer
''Strictly Background'' title card
Title card
My ''Strictly Background'' opening credits title card
My opening credits title card.
Interviewed for ''Strictly Background''
Being interviewed.
Seeking out Background Players for ''Strictly Background''
At Crossroads of the World
in search of the since-defunct
Background Players.
My tuxedo that to date I've never worn for any project beyond this one
Returning from the
Background Players
registration segment.
In holding of ''The Achievers''
In holding on The Achievers.
Between takes on the set of ''Tripping Forward''
Between takes on the set
of Tripping Forward.
''Strictly Background''
DVD bio page: same
limited "bio page"
from th'Strictly Background
website; no updates.
''Strictly Background''
Cast List

Sunday, March 29, 2009
Another Hollywood screening
A few days earlier in holding for the TV series Glee, I was recognized from Strictly Background, the fellow mentioning its upcoming screening of which at that time... I had no knowledge. I called Jason who later called back and confirmed it, and Jason sent out a li'l email blitz about it. One aspect his email and the film festival's website doesn't stress (and both really should have), is that anyone attending the Strictly Background screening could also opt to obtain a half-price copy of the DVD.
Tuesday, May 5th 7pm is the "Inside Hollywood" programming block, 7pm, Strictly Background is listed as "a special screening."

Sunday April 19, 2009
Amidst the blood and horror
During the second day of the Fangoria convention I was attending (to support and promote friends Ezra Buzzington and Maria Olsen promoting their respective films New Terminal Hotel and A Gothic Tale), Jeff Olan spotted me whilst I was speaking with writer/director John Lechago. Jeff's presence at the event seemed a bit contradictory: he indicated being incredulous that the horror genre has such a following, and he was with a very cute lady friend who turned out to have no knowledge of Strictly Background, so (considering his contribution to the documentary), they couldn't have known each other for very long; plus obviously she had no idea about the upcoming screening. Jeff actually was unaware that those attending the Strictly Background screening could receive at half price a copy of the DVD, and agreed Jason should stress that aspect. Jeff did convey that a tentative contract agreement may have been reached between SAG and the Producers; if the "contract" doesn't go through, it could be a Bleak Summer, film-wise.

Tuesday May 05, 2009
Setting the record straight
Reality is perception. Facts are not necessarily the truth, while truth is not always factual. If an elevator door opens and seven people step out, and you're not paying attention, when asked you easily might declare that six or even only five people emerged. One's experiential memory may not always be as initially thought: a prime example being how I remember the scene within a late 1970s film in which my mother worked as opposed to seeing the same scene thirty years later...
For the Hollywood-local United Film Festival, Jason had called and left a message that if I could come earlier, there was a programming block of short subjects at 5pm. I knew it unlikely I could make it that early as I had a commercial audition in the Valley, and as it was, the MTA really strove to delay me. While often I take the 780 to Pasadena, I thought it stopped at Vermont and Franklin. It turns out after Vermont and Hollywood Boulevard, its next stop is Griffith Park, where I had to wait for a return local 181 bus (thankfully only a couple of minutes). I arrived at the Los Felix 3 around 6:40pm.
Before the special Strictly Background screening, two shorts were shown, the animated Skylight and the name-cast filled comedy short Struck.
As always, Strictly Background, was very well received. During the Q&A with all of us (only Jay Michaels not in attendance), one thing we were asked was, who was the Best Star with whom we'd worked, and who was the Worst. I named Megan Mullally for our working together on the omitted scene of Stealing Harvard, but I couldn't think of a Worst Star, so I went with the jokey quip, "I've had some 'bad' ADs..." which got a laugh.
I could and should have left it there: I related my AD story from Sons & Daughters.
In the anecdote I did not name the show, just my perception of what took place that day.
When the festival host Sal asked the audience for a question, one fellow in the audience piped up, "This is more of a comment for Mr. Gould... I was the AD on that project."
The audience both gasped and laughed while Jack Richards went for some kind of joke I couldn't even begin to acknowledge, but his brief chicanery provided me the moments I need to recover from being simultaneously stunned and amazed that out of all the stories I could have said, here was the one story I chose and here was someone saying he was That Guy.
Understandably, I had to make sure; when the audience response had calmed down, just to clarify I asked him, "Now I didn't mention the name; what was the project?" The fellow (who did not identify himself, and I could not see him in the darkened audience), correctly identitifed it as Sons & Daughters.
I pointed out, "That's some awesome synchronicity." Pleased that I could give him the opportunity of Equal Time, I simply asked, "This is brilliant: so what actually happened?"
This gave him the chance to set the record straight as he had perceived it. He said I had "not" been booked as the cook (I didn't remind him I was listed on the callsheet as such); that the cook was to be someone More Ethnic (considering whoever they eventually had as the cook was never filmed [or at least never shown], that wasn't a problem for me).
He did refute trying to talk the director out of having me in the shot; he claimed he'd placed me there. Maybe for that aspect it was a different AD than the one who previously had given the appearance of having the issue/s with me.
When Q&A was over, I was unable to find the man so as to speak with him and thank him for setting straight the record, and he did not seek me out. His sudden disappearance raises the Big Question to which I suspect no answer would be overtly revealed.
For one thing, which AD was he? On the project I dealt with a 1st AD and a 2nd.
As clearly I may have misinterpreted the actions of one AD, and/or thought the same one was at the end of the day, will the fellow in the audience be a Good Man? My having allowed him the opportunity to convey his side, will he either move on and put this aside as a Good Man would? Or would he "prove right" what I initially thought of his disliking me personally, Bad Mouthing me to other ADs and projects for my relating what I personally may have interpreted as inaccurate so many years ago? Either way, having crossed my life path, there's always Badger Luck for him (positive or negative), depending on his choice/s.
To my startled surprise, the Strictly Background DVDs were on sale... at bust-out retail. Not surprisingly, they did not sell out, as some people probably were previously aware they were supposed to be available for only ten dollars each, not twenty.
Also in attendance at the event was character actor Richard Riehle who, amongst numerous other projects, played the judge in the same scene in which I worked for Big Stan. Richard was unaware the feature had finally hit DVD. With amusement he admitted never ever having ever owned or used a computer, so providing him with info online predictably would be problematic, so I told it that at least the Big Stan DVD has been available at Target.
Jack Richards, who I was under the impression was driving me home, apparently disappeared, but my thankfully my lovely friend Norma Jean scooted me home. This was her fifth viewing of Strictly Background, the previous four from watching and rewatching the DVD.

Monday May 11, 2009
The screening went well with the student film makers at the community college LACC (Los Angeles City College). I'd just begun house and dog-sitting for my producer friend, so after walking and feeding the Boys (still managing to do so at their regular time), I scooted back to Hollywood to Jack Richards' place as he had offered to drive me to the event. If I did not enjoy Jack's company I could have taken the Red Line from Universal to the Vermont/Santa Monica station (where on which I worked on the Midnight Meat Train night shoot), as the LACC is right behind the station.
We found parking on Vermont, and despite having a campus map, it appeared about 95% of the campus was under construction, creating a maze of fencing that even had us overshoot the Communications Building. Once inside, I realized this was where I'd been taken by Alex, a photographer who took some experimental photos of me as possible headshots, taken up on the balcony overlooking the lobby. Again, Jay did not to attend, though this time Cecilia was absent as well. One would think he'd use it to promote his music, which in theory he is doing, but missing the opportunity to promote it more. In this case, a room of film students who possibly could use his music as part of their films' score...!
Not surprisingly (this being a class of film makers), the Q&A pleasantly went on longer than at most of our film festivals. I could not retrieve the mic at one point when I wanted to point out I'd by then done over fifty student films, but one film student did inquire if our respective contact information could be obtained.
Afterward, several of the students spoke with us more one on one, a few requesting and accepting our contact information. One student who spoke with us/me was none other than German Sanchez who I had met on the Teresa Paoli LAFS project 100%, filmed down at the haunted Allen Theatre in South Gate. German related, to my aghast dismay, that the owners from that time had sold it, and all the seats had been torn out.
Jason had available the promo cards and the small [paper] posters, several students of whom requested autographs from us. No one at the recent film festival who spoke with us requested any autograph/s (at least, none were requested of me).
The instructor Joni Varner promised to forward to Jason the many photos of us she took during the Q&A. She was quite impressed with the film and with our dedication to it.

Attending the 2009 Los Angeles United Film Festival ''Strictly Background'' screening
Outside the Los Feliz 3 for the
2009 Los Angeles United Film Festival
Strictly Background screening
Cast and crew during ''Strictly Background'' Q&A
From on stage, snagging photo of cast
and crew during Strictly Background Q&A
Jeff Olan, Jason Connell and Richard Riehle posing at ''Strictly Background'' poster
Jeff Olan, Richard Riehle
and Jason Connell posing
at Strictly Background poster
With veteran character actor Richard Riehle
With veteran character
actor Richard Riehle

Wednesday June 24, 2009
SAG screening!
Jason sent out an email with the following information:

We are proud to announce that charming & quirky documentary "Strictly Background," which follows the lives and careers of ten background actors trying to make it in Hollywood will finally screen for the Screen Actors Guild. The film has garnered 6 prestigious awards and has become a real crowd pleaser after screening at 23 film festivals across the U.S. & Europe, plus it attained DVD distribution in August 2008.
* The screening will include a Q&A with the filmmakers as well as the cast!
Date: Friday, July 17th, 2009 @ 7:30pm
Location: Screen Actors Guild Foundation Actors Center
5757 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036 (Mezzanine Level)

This could be an interesting event, particularly my reminding/pointing out SAG is a guild, not a[n actual] union... Considering the recent acquiescence of SAG's working actors with the producer-friendly, actor-hating "deal" that will destroy actors' careers, my quip may be better received than not.

Saturday June 27, 2009
Open venue
Jason clarified to my inquiry, when a secondary email of his indicated ticket prices for the screening. It turned out this was not a SAG Foundation event, the SAG location is merely the venue.
I quickly updated my blog entry about it, hoping more people can attend at least who've not yet seen it...

Monday July 13, 2009
Two for the price of one
Having worked on it, Netflixed the comedy Table for Three, and was able to spot myself in the wrap-around bar at the beginning and later on in the feature.
More to my pleased surprise, in the dive bar sequence, there was Cary Mizobe, placed sitting right behind one of the main leads, Sophia Bush, and much of that scene was used in the DVD's Making Of featurette, so Cary is visible a lot there as well.

Monday July 20, 2009
So Friday July 17th was the screening at SAG. It was not the biggest turn-out, but as always, it was greatly enjoyed and well received. My friend AFTRA board member Mike Sakellarides was in attendence as well; he and I met early this year at an audition.
During the Q&A one woman kept going on and hogging the questions, mostly about calling services and such. Jeff Olan tried to provide facts but the woman was more interested in her own voice and opionion/s.
After the event, Jason notified us of a probable upcoming screening down at USC, and he'd furnish us with the information as soon as he got it. Today he emailed us:

From: Jason Connell
Subject: USC Screening - July 26th (Sunday) @ 2:30pm
Date: Jul 20, 2009 2:56 PM
I wanted to pass this along to you all and just let me know if you can make it. It's a FREE screening to all and a chance to promote the film at a very prestigious school.
They just confirmed with me it's a GO and it should be fun. I plan to be there for the Q&A afterwards and can have as many cast members as I want with me.
Screening details:
We're now on Twitter:
Jason Connell
President / Founder
Connell Creations, Inc.

Sunday July 26, 2009
USC screening
My producer friend Jennifer attended this screening, as did previous student film directors of mine, Glenn Thomas and Leah Sargent. It was amusing that before it began I was speaking with Marvin about how much I enjoy doing student films, to his saying how much he detests them. I've done well over fifty, and only of a handful had I not received a DVD copy. He's only done five and I think he received zero copies. As we were talking, Leah came up and after introductions, she provided me with the copy of her student film Curious on which I'd worked.
The George Lucas Building auditorium was okay, but it was a dinky screening room compared to the USC Norris Theatre. It was about 75-90% filled, and almost surprisingly it took about a fifth of the movie for the laughter to begin, from which it became louder and more consistant. So, as always, it was Well Received.
The Q&A went well (I was able to mention being pleased it was being shown at USC as most of the fifty student films on which I've worked, most have been USC student films), and it was indicated several if not all of us are on file at USC for student film work. Afterwards we signed a few posters, I signed one DVD (the only one I've ever been asked to sign so far). Glenn and Leah both indicated having enjoyed the feature as well.
The next screenings would not have me in attendance due to distance: San Francisco and Chicago. While Jason won't reshow it at his Tulsa film festival, it would be shown this October in New York city.

Tuesday November 04, 2009
Surprising "good" news...
The cast of Strictly Background received two newsy emails from Jason:

From: Jason Connell
Subject: Strictly Background in London / The Rock-afire Explosion
Date: Nov 2, 2009 5:27pm
It's been a while since I've seen everyone, and I just wanted to let you know that the Chicago and New York screenings of Strictly Background went really well and that we're so excited to be premiering the film in London soon!
Here's the information on that screening, if you're interested:
Strictly Background - Saturday, December 5th, 2009 @ 3:30 pm
Prince Charles Cinema
7 Leicester Place
London WC2H 7BP

Also, you might be interested in seeing the new project that I produced, The Rock-afire Explosion, which is screening at the Cinefamily on Thursday, November 5th at 8 pm. It's not my event, so I don't know if I would be able to get any passes, but it should be a lot of fun and I would love to see you there if you can make it. More info on that is here.
Again, I hope you're doing well and I would love to catch up with you there if you can make it!

I didn't have time to reply immediately, having tickets that evening for both 7pm and 10pm times for two AFI Film Festival screenings. In Hollywood as I walked from the Red Line to the Mann Theatre, I espied Terry Bolo, and we pondered the liklihood of our being at all involved in the TV series...
To my recollection I don't there any October reminders came in about the New York screening, hence my not e-blasting the information to my countless friends back east. Dozens of people with whom I went to high school had added me on Facebook, and while several had NetFlixed it and enjoyed it tremendously and praised it highly, there were others who might have attended the screening; even some who rented and/or bought the DVD... Oh well...

Thursday December 04, 2009
Upcoming United Film Festival update/s, and UK press coverage
This just in from Jason (I've updated the actual message to include the actual dates where I could: Jason just mentioned the months)...

From: Jason Connell
Subject: TimeOut Review - London United Film Festival
Date: Dec 4, 2009 7:27am
As you all know the first annual London United Film Festival starts tonight and we just got a bit of great press thanks to the highly respected TimeOut magazine in London. To read the review just click the link. Also please feel free to pass on to others as well as email anyone in the area that wants to come out and see some great features as well as short films. Most every film will be followed by a Q&A and it's well worth the effort.

The United Film Festivals
Voted one of the 25 Coolest Film Festivals - MovieMaker Magazine
2009 & 2010 Season
Los Angeles
- April 29th - May 6th, 2010
San Francisco - June 18th - 24th, 2010
Tulsa - July 30th - August 1st, 2010
Chicago - September 10th - 16th, 2010
New York - October 15th - 21st, 2010
London - December 4th - 6th, 2009

Late 2011
I was sure I'd added this...
Weird; it is possible on my previous thumb-drive which seems to have vanished, I put the following entry information, but had not yet transferred it to the file copy that I'd use with which to FTP it onto the site to update the page.
At any rate, as of mid May 2011, Strictly Background has become viewable on hulu...
For a time the Hulu version (with its annoyingly predictable breaks here and there), was web-page embeddable.

Geoffrey Gould in ''Strictly Background''
On Hulu in Strictly Background

Sunday May 20, 2012
Sad, bad news
Cary emailed those involved in the "Strictly Background family," that Marvin's life-partner Jerry had reported Marvin was diagnosed with a brain tumour last Tuesday. He had come home from running errands and just kept repeating over and over "I don't know, I don't know." Jerry questioned him, but Marvin just continued repeating "I don't know." Jerry thought he'd had a mini-stroke, so he rushed Marvin to the emergency room. In the way to the ER, Marvin started remembering everything. The ER immediately performed an MRI; the results showed a big mass in the right front of the brain. They then performed a CAT scan of his chest, abdomen and pelvis to see whether there were any other tumours in his body; the results were negative.
Marvin was then hospitalized, where they performed another MRI, with contrast, which helps to identify specifics about the mass. The results were that he had two lesions on the right front of his brain. Marvin was discharged Wednesday evening and they were currently awaiting the scheduling of biopsies. Since Marvin was on aspirin therapy, they could not do the biopsies for at least seven to ten days. Jerry reported that Marvin was being absolutely amazing; s extremely upbeat and thinking nothing but positive thoughts. Meanwhile, Jerry was understandably devastated and could not talk about it without crying, but he realizes he has to be positive for Marvin. They were amazed at the outpouring of love and prayers coming in from their friends and family all over the world; all prayers would be as appreciated.
Jerry would keep everyone posted.

Tuesday June 12, 2012
Marvin health update
Cary forwarded this update from Jerry:

Marvin is to report to the hospital tomorrow morning at 5:30am. it is estimated that his surgery will begin around 7:00ish.
Please, please, say a special prayer for him tonight. I won't be able to to give you an update tomorrow, since I'll be at the hosptial from 5:30am until late into the night. I promise to give you an update Wednesday morning.
As marvin's lifetime partner I ask each and every one of of you to pray for him. For those who don't believe in prayer, then please have very positive thoughts for him; we need your help. PLEASE............

Saturday June 16, 2012
Marvin surgery update
Late Friday night Cary forwarded this update from Jerry:

Just wanted to give you all an update on the surgery and the findings. The surgery lasted 6 hours. The surgeon was able to remove the glioma tumor, and it appears to be a primary tumor versus a metastasized tumor. But, there are still cancer cells in what the surgeon referred to as the "fog" area around the tumor. The pathologist's initial examination of the tumor found that it is malignant. It has been forwarded to the lab at ucla for more in depth testing to determine staging. Marvin will have to undergo at least 6 weeks of radiation, followed by chemotherapy (tablets).
Right at this time Marvin is in denial. He thinks because there are no results from the lab, that it's not cancer. The nurses at the hospital said i shouldn't disagree with him right now. They said eventually he'll move on to the "anger" stage, and then acceptance. So, if you should talk to him, please don't mention anything i've said in this email. Just let him explain it his way.
I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your loving and caring words to Marvin and myself. Also, thank you so very much for your prayers.
I'll contine to update you.
Take care and stay well.
Oh, he can't be around anyone who has a fever, infection, cold or if they've been around anyone who has had any illness.
Love you all.

Monday July 09, 2012
Marvin's (and Jerry's) progress
Cary relayed the following update/s:

This is to update you on Marvin's health issues. I can't remember when I last sent an update. So, some of this info may be old news.
Our meeting with radiation went well. The doctor just basically explained exactly what they will be doing. We had another appointment with them yesterday. This was to make the face and head mask. They heated up a rubber webbed like mask and then placed it tightly over Marvin's face and head. As it cooled, it tightened. It was extremely form fitting by the time it completely cooled. The purpose of this mask is to hold his head completely still while they are giving the radiation. They clamp the mask to the table so there will be absolutely no movement at all. If any of you are claustrophobic, like me, you're probably experiencing some breathing difficulties. We have another appointment next Friday.
Our meeting went well with the neuro-oncology doctor (chemo). It just so happens that UCLA is conducting a clinical trial for Marvin's type of cancer in males over 70. It consists of on top of the radiation and the chemo tablet, they will administer an iv chemo drug. We elected to join this trial. We have our first meeting with UCLA Monday at 1:00.
Marvin is phenomenal. He is so upbeat. He does not want to hear anything negative. I'm hanging in there. I have to. If any of you have any questions, please don't hesitate to let me know.
Now, another health problem. I started coughing up blood about 2 weeks before Marvin's surgery. I didn't want to give him anything else to worry about, so decided I wouldn't see a doctor until after his surgery. He had a follow-up appointment with our primary doctor a week after his surgery, so I told him about my problem on the morning of his appointment. Our doctor ordered a chest x-ray, which came back showing something on the right lobe of my lung. She then ordered a cat scan.Once again it showed something on my lung, but they were not able to identify whatever it is. I was referred to the pulmonary dept. Last Thursday he performed a bronchoscopy. This is where they go up through the nose and down your breathing passage. He still couldn't identify what is was. So he performed what is called a "brushing" to gather tissue samples. I should get the results sometime next week. If they are still unable to identify it, the next step will be a needle biopsy through the back.
I'm hanging in there. I have to concentrate on Marvin's health. So right now, my problem is secondary.
well, that's about it. Your prayers and good thoughts for both of us will be greatly appreciated.
Finally, we thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for your past thoughts, prayers and support. It's because of your love that we're able to get through this trying time.
we love you all,

Friday July 13, 2012
Health update
Cary relayed the following update/s:

Hi everyone.
Well, let me start off by saying that we found out yesterday Marvin's tumor is already starting to grow back. This is based on an MRI done last Thursday the 5th.
we met with the oncologist at UCLA this past Wednesday and he explained the trials that are available. We have been insistent that whatever the treatment might be, it must include radiation. However, after learning the side affects of radiation on that area of Marvin's brain, loss of memory and cognitive function, we decided on a chemo-only treatment. The chemo will be Temodar tablets and Avastin IV. Fortunately, this trial is actually being administered by Kaiser on behalf of UCLA. That means we don't have to drive back and forth to UCLA.
Yesterday, we met with the neuro-oncologist, his assistant and the clinical trial coordinator nurse at Kaiser Sunset. A bit of good news was that Marvin will be able to receive all his treatment at kaiser Woodland Hills.
We are currently waiting for a consultation with an oncologist at Woodland Hills. It will be sometime next week.
As usual, Marvin is still very uplifted and thinking positive. Thank god for that. I'm trying to be the same, but for some reason it's not working.
I'll keep you posted.
Again, thank you all for your thoughts, prayers and anything else you're sending our way.
We love you all.

Friday July 20, 2012
Marvin health update
Cary relayed the following update from Jerry:

Hi everyone.
Just to let you know that Marvin will start his chemo tablets and IV this Thurs. he has to see the oncologist every two weeks for 8 weeks. plus, he'll be getting periodic brain and body scans and MRI's.
I'll let you know how his body reacts to the chemo.
Thank you all for being there for us. we love you.

Friday August 17, 2012
Marvin health update
Cary reported that the following email from Jerry is why there's been such a gap in communication...

Date: Thursday, August 16, 2012, 2:20pm
Hi everyone.
Just wanted to give you all an update on my medical condition. I just got out of the hospital tuesday afternoon. I was hospitalized for 8 days with pleural empyema (pus between my lung and chest wall). The entire area between my lung and chest wall was full of pus. It was a very "severe" infection. I was unable to breath and required a chest tube. My friends, I came very, very close to losing my life. I learned a lesson. In the future, if I ever experience any problems breathing, I will immediately go to the emergency room.
I'm feeling much better. My pulmonary doctor has me on 500 mg of antibiotics twice a day for 30 days. He wants to make sure the infection is completely wiped out. There is still a small pocket of infection in the lower right lobe of my lung.
Marvin is doing great. He begins another round of chemo this coming mon. Praying he won't have any side effects.
Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers.
We love you,
Jerry & Marvin

Monday September 17, 2012
DVD Availability Shift
I had retain/ed Strictly Background in my NetFlix queue; on this date I noticed it had been shifted from its regular Queue (available) list, down to its Saved (e.g., Unknown/Unavailable) list.
I emailed Jason to notify him; he replied it is now only available on Netflix via its Streaming aspect, so people who rely on hard disc DVD are SOL.
Thankfully the film is still available at amazon, albeit down to $11.55 this entry date.

Monday October 22, 2012
Marvin improvement
Cary conveyed the latest Marvin-health news:
"I talked to Marv a couple of weeks ago. [He] sounded GREAT... just like the ol' Marv we all love! Marv said that his doctors can't believe the progress he's made. The hospital is thinking about doing a commercial featuring him."
Cary copied what Jerry reported: "I just discovered that some of you didn't receive the email I sent out on the 16th. therefore, I resending to everyone.
"Just wanted to give you an update on Marvin. He had another MRI this past saturday. We saw his neuro-oncologist on the 15th to get the results. The MRI showed that hie brain was clear of any lesions/tumors. Praise GOD!!!! This would not have been possible without all of your thoughts and prayers. This means that the chemo is working.
"We saw his oncologist on the 17th. He said that it 'appeared' there was nothing showing up on the MRI. However, he wanted to wait until the radiologist report was done to see what his findings indicated. We feel that for the time-being, the tumors/growths have been killed out by the chemo. That's not to say new ones won't appear in the future. We'll just have to wait and see.
"We want to thank every one of you for your thoughts and prayers. Would you please continue to keep Marvin and I in your thoughts and prayers? Thank you for your friendship and love. We treasure each and every one of you.
"I'm doing good. The last time I saw my pulmonary specialist, he said my lungs looked and sounded good.
"I'll keep you posted. Take care and stay well. We love you."

Saturday November 17, 2012
Cary forwarded a copy of the Woodland Hills Kaiser Permanente November issue in which an article on Marvin and his surgery and such is on page six.

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