Thursday, October 31, 2013
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
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.)
Okay, new high: seeing good friends kick serious butt and achieve their dreams. Top that.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Proof my life is a straight-to-video comedy: I split my pants while working out.
Monday, October 28, 2013
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
Friday, October 25, 2013
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
• 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
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
Saturday, October 19, 2013
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.
Friday, October 18, 2013
Thursday, October 17, 2013
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
(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.
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
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
Saturday, October 12, 2013
Friday, October 11, 2013
Thursday, October 10, 2013
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
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
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
Monday, October 7, 2013
Friday, October 4, 2013
Thursday, October 3, 2013
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
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
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.