Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thoughts From My Shoot.

In front of me, left to right: co-director Aina Dumlao, actor Dat Pham, and the very inked-up actor Edwin Bravo. I told Edwin that I think it’s pretty cool Chinese people created a language made entirely out of tattoos.

Destroying his spine with the world’s most uncomfortable shooting apparatus is Johnny Derango, a director of photography with incredible skills and a name befitting an 19th-century gunfighter.

A frame from the film. I’d like to say I method-acted up the sweat to indicate the humidity of the Philippines, where the story takes place, but in reality I simply wore a corduroy sport coat in the godforsaken sauna that is Burbank, CA.

Another frame, this time featuring Edwin, who had a role in the latest Pirates of the Caribbean sequel, and Dat, who thanks to the costs of employing a minor in a SAG production is going to render me the first homeless Jew.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Do I Amuse You?

Seeing someone’s selfie get no “likes” is my personal runner’s high.

For others, the rush comes from getting laughs. My friend Gary tried comedy for the first time last night, taking the stage at the Comedy Store. We were all there in attendance, because Gary is a great friend and the nicest guy ever. (Except when he’s blasting the psychopath he was married to for three months.)

Also headlining the night was our friend Lucas Dick (son of Andy Dick, and our surrogate little brother), who killed at the end of the night. Lucas has been doing this for a little longer and is on his way to becoming a huge star.

Okay, new high: seeing good friends kick serious butt and achieve their dreams. Top that.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Nutty Shit I Witnessed In The Last 24 Hours.

How do you get six squad cars to arrive immediately on the scene? Rob a donut shop. Lucky Donuts in El Segundo.

Proof my life is a straight-to-video comedy: I split my pants while working out.

Don’t text and drive.

Chefs from one restaurant Katsuya) blatantly eating in another restaurant (Frida) in Glendale.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Weekend Recap.

Racetrack. 

Pumpkin racecars, including a Shaknado-festooned entry.

I’m still assimilating back to normal hours after my shoot, which went really well. I’ll recap it sometime this week. In the meantime, with Permission to Be an Asshole Night just three days away, yesterday (pictured above) was one of the more tolerable traditions here at the beach: Pumpkin Races… It turns out my gym is turning into a Trader Joe’s, which is pretty surprising – I figured the owners would just burn the place and collect the insurance… Glass is half full: Lou Reed was still alive?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Better Cuff Me To It.

Picked up the lens we’ll be using for today’s shoot. It’s worth $38,000. In a related realization: I’ve never seen more than 600 dollars worth of cars in a 7-Eleven parking lot.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Rolling.

We got the location, the cast, the permits, the craft services, the insurance, the wardrobe and the props. We did a tech scout (that’s director, DP and producer, above) and it’s time. Shooting tomorrow.

I'm so excited that I’m already dreading the emptiness that will arrive after all the fun is over. Like those old married couples who die a few days apart from each other, I’ll probably quietly pass away after we wrap the last shot.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

I Tour A Possible New Gym And The Place Blows Whale.

I don’t want to work out so much as I have to work out. That said, I’ve got to stop asking servers if my food can be “lasagnaed.”

One week from today, my LA Fitness location will close it’s smelly, smelly doors for the last time, and I’ll move over to a different LA Fitness. The old place now has a poster that claims they’re “relocating” to the new location, even though the new place has been there for years. LA Fitness – where apparently they take members for real rubes.

Just in case I don’t like the new location, I did my due diligence and checked out the local 24-Hour Fitness.

Strike one: I just wanted a quick tour, but 24-Hour made my enter my name, phone number and email onto a touch-screen. The manager reassured me they would never hassle me, but I still went with my go-to pseudonym: Lance Manion. Plus a fake phone number and email. (My apologies to lancemanion69@gmail.com for your upcoming tsunami of membership emails.)

The manager showed me around, often referring to me as “Lance.” I figured I’d pulled a real fast one, until I realized I probably knew several guys that worked out there, and feared at any moment one of them would shout out “Hey Matt!”, and then the manager would stick his foot up my ass.

Strike two: the gym’s building is converted movie theater, which makes for a cockamamie layout. It’s constant navigating. After using the bench press, if you want to use a chest machine, pack a snack, because you’re hoofing it up stairs and over to the other side of the place. F that.

Strike three: the parking garage is compact-car friendly, and not conducive to my semi-large SUV, and according to several Yelp comments, I should expect my fair share of door dings. Pass.

Final analysis: I’m Bruce Willis walking away in slow motion from 24-Hour Fitness exploding behind me.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Once Again, Out-Of-Context Thank-You Notes I’ve Recently Written To Casting Directors.

• There’s nothing wrong with still taking Flintstones Vitamins. Except I believe I can stop my car with my feet.

• If Romeo and Juliet happened today, Romeo would make a mix MP3, send two texts, and then wait three days before inviting her to an informal group hang.

• I mean, why go outside when you have windows?

• If I ever get married, my celebrity “free pass” list will consist of Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, and three aunts famous for layer dip.

• I feel less anxiety trying to explain to my landlady what I do for a living than I do making eye contact with a waiter listing specials.

• “Oh, yeah.” – me, remembering Iowa exists.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Matt Shevin Project Update: Casting.

Tip: show up to auditions covered in cat hair. This lets producers know you’ll have nothing else in your life but the role.

Actually, all the actors who auditioned for my film were total pros who showed up prepared and claimed they loved my script. (And talented enough to convince me they weren’t lying.) Either way, I’m slightly less allergic to flattery than I am to cat dander.

Speaking of which, casting fellow actors feels much like a visit to the animal shelter – you just want to take them all home. Reading opposite each of them, I prayed they’d all crush their auditions. Meanwhile, Aina worked her butt off organizing them and dealing with the crazy Hollywood moms, and Bru, the director, was incredibly adept at making sure every actor left the room feeling good about what he’d done. If they stumbled during their first pass, Bru had them try again until they nailed a take. May we all be treated so compassionately in whatever we do for a living.

After a long day, two actors in particular stood out as our favorites for the roles. The casting director notified their agents, and details were worked out. One agent wanted top billing for her client, prompting me to ask, “Really? Ahead of me?” She quickly acquiesced. May we all have people who fight this hard for us in whatever we do for a living.

Next up: a tech scout, in which we’ll run through the script at the location and work out shots, make a list of props and determine call-times. This is happening. Too late to turn the ship around. Steering it right into the Somali pirates.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Weekend Recap.

Unintentionally funny item in the LA Times, after a USC fraternity was placed on probation because a female student dancing on a table at a party fell and hurt her head and neck: “It was unclear whether the student had been drinking or if alcohol was present.”… I was at Darkroom on Saturday and saw a guy with a ponytail and tinted lenses. Somewhere, a ferret was home alone… I’ve been in love only two times in my life, and one of them was with the football that sailed through the uprights and beat the Patriots in overtime.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Succeed Much?

My favorite politician ever, Cory Booker, played Division I football, was a Rhodes Scholar, earned honors degrees from Stanford and Oxford, a law degree from Yale, speaks Hebrew and averages four hours of sleep each night as he completely fixes the city of Newark.

Meanwhile, I spend 90% of my days waiting for password reset emails.

On Tuesday, he took the next step and became a New Jersey Senator. Congratulations, sir – on making the rest of us look really, really unexceptional.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Now-Titled Matt Shevin Project: An Update.

Someone please invent a time machine and go back to the day I decided to write a kid into this film, find me, and never stop punching me in the face.

I haven’t even cast the young man yet, but I’m already calling him the Six-Thousand-Dollar Kid. He threw everything into overdrive with the need to make this a SAG film, hire a casting director, pepper the SAG rep assigned to my project with 100 different questions, shell out big bucks for workers comp insurance, apply for a permit to employ a minor and hire a studio teacher. (Failure to have a teacher on set could land me in jail. And you don’t a lot of cred in prison for a real wussy crime.)

You know, it’s not too late to chuck it all and go another way. Nothing in the rulebook says an orangutan can’t be Pope. (Cue Smashmouth’s “All Star.”)

I kid. There’s no Pope in my film. The orangutan will play an orthodontist. Bills, paperwork, bleeding ulcer eliminated.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Hollywood’s Having A Perfect Week. (Hope I Didn’t Just Jinx It.)

Gravity and Captain Phillips are #1 and #2 at the box office. There are four things you you should be doing this weekend: seeing each of these movies twice.

Anthony Hopkins’ wrote a letter to Bryan Cranston. (You can read it here.) I can’t even imagine how this would make me feel – I’m flattered when the grocery store asks me to come back soon.

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will host the Golden Globes for the next two years. Love seeing the two most talented girlfriends in showbiz continue a great thing. Meanwhile, Paltrow and Beyonce being best friends gives me the courage to murder.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

In Memoriam.

Say goodbye to my gym. It’s going to a nice farm upstate where it can run around.

Yep – my LA Fitness location is finally closing its doors after many underwhelming decades. It’s strange for me to eulogize such a place, but I calculated that since moving to LA, I’ve worked out there over 2800 times, the equivalent of 87 consecutive full days.

When you accrue that kind of time, you can’t help but stumble across a cast of characters. Like the guy I’ve talked sports with every morning for five years who still thinks my name is Steve. Or the large, albino-looking fella who walks around muttering homophobic slurs to himself. We call him Baby Huey. I’m convinced he will rape a man.

Okay, it’s not your typical SoCal clientele, but the blame is on the gym itself. A few years ago, a new 24-Hour Fitness rolled into the neighborhood, and LA Fitness refused to give in to the threat of better hours, new equipment and pube-free urinals.

Most lacking in membership was women, and every workout surrounded by old dudes felt entirely like prison. A handful of us hung in there, thanks to free parking right out front, never having to wait for any bench or machine and the inconceivably-low monthly rate of $8. Eight bucks! Well worth risking a staph infection.

I’ll never forget the night a heavyset gentleman overexerted himself on a Stairmaster, and paramedics were unable to resuscitate him. The location manager stayed strong throughout the ordeal, even handing out “Bring a Friend Get a Free Month!” passes as we exited the gym later. You stay classy, LA Fitness.

Well, now no one is coming to revive this joint. It’s got two weeks to live, and then we’re all getting paroled, and we’ll begin paying real money to work out in places where we’ll sip protein smoothies, and work out on equipment that’s not only up to code but has Internet built-in, and cute female members will motivate us do five more reps and rarely, yes rarely will we get sodomized by albino goons off their meds.

And we’ll miss the hell out of our old shithole. Because it was our shithole. Rest in peace.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Weekend Recap.

That’s my nephew using crayons while we watched football at Sharkeez yesterday. The Guiness might explain why he couldn’t quite color between the lines… It was my friend Aina’s birthday, so we surprised her at Asanebo, our favorite/the best sushi restaurant in all of Los Angeles. But don’t take my word for it – Zagat just ranked it #1, and George Clooney is constantly there. However, for some inexplicable reason, the LA Times – a total rag – didn’t even include it in its top 101… I played a drinking game while watching The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift – taking a shot whenever anyone said, “This is who we are.” By the way, I’m dead now.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Let’s Get Ready To Choreograph.

Really kickass footage my friend Rob passed along of Sylvester Stallone and Carl Weathers (my buddy) going through the choreography for the climactic fight scene in the original Rocky.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Does The Fun Ever Start?

The past few days, it’s been non-stop phone calls and emails and hammering out finances with the casting director, insurance companies and SAG. I simply wanted to make a comedy short – instead, it’s like I’m living inside my autobiography and this is the chapter titled “The Day the Laughter Died.”

It’s all thanks to me brilliantly making one of the leads in my film a kid. I had to hire a casting director, purchase workers’ comp insurance and begin the oh-so-icky task of researching and processing forms with the header “Using a Minor in an Entertainment Shoot.”

Okay, I know these are first-world problems, but I wasn’t anticipating this degree of shitstorm. Nonetheless, I’m reminded of something an old actor teacher of mine used to preach: you can learn more from making a short film than you can in four years of film school. Couldn’t agree more. And I’ve been going back and forth with my friend Shevaun, who’s in mid-nightmare on a feature she wrote, reminding each other of the quote by Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own, when Gina Davis’ character wants to quit playing ball: “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.” Right on.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Ninth Great Film Of 2013.

I have a paralyzing fear of being stranded alone – as in, when my gas tank is near empty, I lose my poop.

It’s interesting to see how Gravity has been marketed as a movie about floating in space, when in actuality it’s a total thriller, brilliantly written and epically shot. All with only two actors on screen.

I knew something was up when I read the review by Kenneth Turan, film critic for the LA Times. Kenneth is by far the toughest, curmudgeoniest bastard of a film critic. He hates EVERYTHING. Yet here’s how he kicked off his review:

Gravity is out of this world. Words can do little to convey the visual astonishment this space opera creates. It is a film whose impact must be experienced in 3-D on a theatrical screen to be fully understood.” 

Whoa. Makes me kinda wish somebody had tackled Mr. Turan in the newsroom. Stop him. He’s gone mad.

The bottom line is this: an original film with a 98% Rotten Tomato rating is #1 at the box office. This is a very good thing.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Upcoming Matt Shevin Project Update: Location Scouting.

Home-ownership tip: you can baby proof your house instantly by not inviting any babies over.

We found the perfect location to shoot my new comedy short. It’s a home in Burbank, but the owners are an expectant couple, so we’ve gotta film in the next few weeks, before the little shit blessing ruins everything.

Above the mantel is a mold the soon-to-be mom made of her very pregnant belly, pust glaring at me, pressuring me to hustle. So we’re moving on to casting and wardrobe and props and assembling the crew. I firmly believe I can beat this baby’s ass.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Weekend Recap.

With the shit people consume these days, it’s really crazy that you don’t hear a round of applause every time you order a salad. Above is Beets and Berries, which kicked off a kickass dinner at Girasol on Saturday … To my friends: you don’t have to text me to tell me you’re running late. I know because you’re not here… Why does FOX run incessant promos for “American Idol” during NFL games? Unless – is the NFL demographic six-year-old girls with severe dementia? Then carry on.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Quiet, Please.

I finally got him to nap.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Move It Along, Murray.

You’d think after 75 years behind the wheel, this geezer would know how to navigate a six-story garage. Especially when I was late for an appointment.

Out of revenge, I did the worst thing you can do to an old person: I tore up a bunch of coupons in front of him.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Newly-Titled Matt Shevin Project: An Update.

Have we tried turning the country off for two minutes and then turning it back on?

Well at least there’s no shutdown on the pre-production for my new comedy short. It’s humming along. After much agonizing I even finally decided upon a title: World Class.

This week, we’re scouting locations. Hopefully we’ll lock down a shooting site by the weekend.

See, government? It’s not so hard. I’m getting my shit done and I’ve got lots of bad areas. I’m like the Oakland of achievement. So get on it.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Eighth Great Film Of 2013.

Anything can be a sport if your dad yells at you enough.

And it’s icky from the opening scene of In a World, with some “tough love” doled out by Sam, a famous movie voiceover guy, to his grown daughter, Carol, who aspires to follow in his footsteps. But Sam ain’t having it, and being the shitbag father that he is, he kicks her out of his house so he can “support” her “by not supporting her.” Actually, he does it so he and his ditzy groupie-turned-wife can feel free to walk around naked.

Spoiler alert: (but more for your eyes than your love of plot): Sam, played by Fred Melamed, spends considerable time shirtless, and it’s a vile, hairy mess. On the bright side, it proves the theory of evolution. And it’s quite possibly the first time I’d recommended seeing a movie on a small screen.

Lake Bell wrote, directed and stars in the film, and she really outdid herself. It’s inventive and ridiculous in a good way and has a kickass cast – Lake’s friends like Dmetri Martin, Nick Offerman and Rob Corddry are all in it. And she did a great job directing it, including a nice establishing shot of Southwestern Bag Company, location for a big scene in my film. See it.

Hey – I’m only two films away from reaching a top 10 list for the year. Love me? Love you more, Hollywood.