This past Saturday marked the end of the LA Derby Dolls' 2014 season.  It culminated in a championship bout between the Tough Cookies and the Sirens.  The Tough Cookies survived the season with an untarnished record, even during the round-robin tournament, and they were the runaway favorite the walk away with the trophy at the end of the night.  But there's a reason they play the game, because on any given day, the underdog can come up the winner, and that was the case, as the Sirens pulled out a three-point victory in a nail-bitter of a finish.  The game should be published online sometime in the near future.  At the end of the bout, I mentioned to my production crew, "I guess we now know why Minnie's privates are private, because she makes champions."  I guess only a few RaD people will get that joke.

Before the game started, I found Sirens skater, RegulateHer to see if she would allow me to take a video portrait of her.  She's a veteran in the league and this bout would mark the end her career with the LADD.  I thought this would be a good reason to have her be a subject, it's good context for a thing like this.

Recently, I have been chipping my way through, "The Story of Film: An Odyssey" by Mark Cousins.  It's a fifteen-hour documentary that chronicles the history of film.  It is streaming on Netflix, and if you're a film buff, I highly recommend it.  It gets a lot of flack for excluding many films, but it's a documentary, not a book, so he obviously doesn't have the time to mention everything.  It really does a good job of balancing American/Hollywood film history with world cinema.  Really, check it out if you have time.

Anyway, in the documentary, Cousins brings up that Japanese director Yasujio Ozu was the first to use the foreground of the frame in film.  This was a technique later adopted by Orson Welles.  While I was watching, this foreground technique really stuck in my head.  His examples in the documentary really made me rethink how to utilize the foreground in my own work.  Long after viewing this foreground segment, I thought, 'this technique would be something cool to try out in a video portrait.' 

I kept that thought positioned in my front burner of my mind, and soon I realized that the banked track at the Doll Factory would be the ideal place to tryout the foreground video portrait.  Flash forward to early last week, and the fast approaching LADD Championship bout.  I figured the Championship bout would be a great opportunity to try the video portrait, because of the context. 

So, from that moment, I had the portrait image floating around in my mind of how it would look, framing-wise.  Then, when I found out it was RegulateHers' last bout, I knew I wanted to get her as a subject, as it would add another layer to the context.  Plus, given one of  RegulateHers' trademarks is her skull mask, I thought this would make the image even more striking.  I'm sure the mask is meant to intimidate, because RegulateHer is one of the nicest people rolling around the Doll Factory. 

Besides the context of the portrait, I wanted to visually communicate the mental state of mind of a player before a game.  There she is, in the middle of madness on the track, solitary, focused, trying to meditate on the task at hand.  In this moment, nothing on the outside is important, except, focusing on making sure she is ready to play.  I picture this is what is looks like in the mind of someone before they take the field or stage.
The shot looked pretty much the way I had it in my head.  In the foreground, skaters whipping by as they warm-up and in the background, they continue on.  My telephoto lens is only an f/4.5 so there is a bit more noise then I wanted, but to me, the framing was the most important part and it is 100% how I wanted it to look. 

I like to think that maybe it was this moment of meditation that helped RegulateHer focus on victory and help her team win the trophy.  But in reality, it was probably a season of hard work and well-executed team strategy.  Either way, congrats to RegulateHer and the Sirens for being the 2014 LA Derby Dolls Champions.
 
 
Tomorrow marks the end of the 2014 LA Derby Dolls season and I will be the directing the action in the video booth.
It has been a lot of fun working with the league this year and I hope to continue in 2015.  The championship features the Tough Cookies against the Sirens and it should be a bout to remember.

If you are in the LA area come check it out at 1910 W. Temple.

You can buy tickets HERE
.

My hiatus from directing derby won't be long as I am scheduled to direct the "Jantastic" tournament next month in San Diego hosted by the San Diego Derby Dolls.
 
 
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I was just invited to participate in a ghost investigation!  It's with a group called, Ghost Stories Inc. (GSI) and they are led by author and filmmaker Jessica Freeburg, who extended me the invite. GSI is a group of authors and artists seeking inspiration through paranormal research.  They are currently in production of a documentary titled "After Life" about paranormal research. 

The group is coming to LA in January to investigate the home where the Manson Family murders took place.  I have always had an interested in the paranormal and I am excited to help out in this investigation.  I really don't know what to expect, but that is part of the fun.

I'll update you here on what it was like. I imagine it will be spooky.  Check out the video below for a teaser clip from the forthcoming "After Life."
 
 
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Photo Credit: LoneStarMike
I recently returned from the Austin Film Festival and Conference in Austin, TX.  I decided to attend due to my 'Second Rounder' scripts in the Spec categories for "Arrow" and "Brooklyn Nine Nine."  I feel I had a very productive conference and made a lot of new contacts and gained a little ground on some of my various projects.  The panels were very helpful and the parties were lively (well, as lively as they can be for a bunch of writers).  I do have some gripes about the festival, but overall, it was run pretty smooth.  Seriously though, what was up with that shuttle to the BBQ party? We were waiting for like 50 minutes.

Austin proclaims itself as being 'weird' and takes a lot of pride in it.  I can attest it is 'weird' but not in the fun kitschy way that Portland is, no, it's more like Stepford weird.  I can't quite put my finger on it, but something about Austin is a little... off.  I'm gonna take some time to think about it and maybe submit myself to a montage of studying, but rest assured, I'll figure it out and post my findings here.

Anyway, the 'City of Live Music' was true to its namesake as loud, mostly shitty music echoed through the streets at all hours of the day.  So if you are in to that sort of thing, Austin is the place to be.  If you are really into that sort of thing, then consider attending SXSW or as many residents of Austin call it, "The Waiting in Line and Fucked Traffic Festival."

That's about all I
have for now.  I've got my eye on you Austin... I'll figure you out soon.

[DISCLAIMER: Many of the people from Austin were very nice.  Like the knitting woman I met in the lobby of the Driskill Hotel, who was waiting for her boyfriend's band's show to end.  She bought me and my screenwriting cohorts a bunch of beer/snacks and told us it was "The Austin Way." Thank you for that, ma'am and letting me tell you the trials of being an artist.  You're the tops in my book (which I may or may not write).]  

 
 
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Photo credit: Ómar "Osshole" Óskarsson
You see this photograph? Imagine me to the left of the woman, that's where I should have been.  I was there until the photographer; Ómar "Osshole" Óskarsson unceremoniously pushed me out of the way. 

The woman is my friend, actor/director Mary Neely.  To her right is with my other friend, director Josema Roig.  I met them during my time with the Transatlantic Talent Lab at the Reykjavik International Film Festival in Iceland earlier this month.  The picture ended up running online as part of an article about the event we were at during the festival.

This is my life.

Why couldn't I have been in the picture?  I would have loved a little press, even from a small Icelandic website (is small redundant as it's Iceland?). 

During a bus ride, hours before the now infamous "Picture Push 2014," I was talking to a Golden Egg nominee, Ian Waugh about a pending Q&A of his film "As He Lay Falling," set to screen later that night.  He was a bit nervous about talking about his film and relaying to me about his disdain for Q&As.  I told him that it was my dream to have a Q&A.  Often times I sit back and imagine being in front of an audience waxing poetic about my work.  Even though I have had many festival screenings, none have ever included a Q&A.  Many filmmakers dream about Oscars and Emmys, I fixate on doing Q&As.  I'm a simple man.  My point? I love getting press and/or attention for my career, it's important to me.  I'll move on.

Famed movie producer Robert Evans once said:

" There are three sides to every story: Your side, my side, and the truth. And no one is lying. Memories shared serve each differently."

[He also said a bunch of other crazy shit, so take that quote with a grain of salt.]


So as succinctly as I can, I will try to recap the events according to me, of how I ended up just slightly to the left of frame in the above picture.

During the event, I was walking back inside with Mary from watching a lovely sunset beyond the Atlantic Ocean.  On our way in to the greater part of the room, we spotted Josema.  At that very moment, photographer Ómar "Osshole" Óskarsson swooped in to capture the trio of 'up and coming' filmmaking talent.  Well, that was my impression as I began to pose with my peers.  To Ómar "Osshole" Óskarsson, I was just a vagabond looking to raid the event for the free food and drink, so he curtly shoved me out of the way.  More accurately, he pushed me to the left of Mary.  

When Joesma and Mary protested to Ómar "Osshole" Óskarsson that I should be in the picture, he ignored their requests and snapped a picture anyway.  He said something in Icelandic and maybe had a reason for pushing me out; other than I would have just 'ugged' up his artwork.  But since I don't speak that language, I guess I'll never know.

I remember calling him a 'jerkface' then walking away thinking I had the last laugh.  I'm pretty sure calling someone a 'jerkface' translates in any language.  How do I know?  Because after I hurled the insult, he shot me a snarled look that was most foul.  Was it over the line? Maybe.  But even more out of line was his shove of me away from my friends.  It's not like I was photobombing, bro.

Well, it seems old Ómar "Osshole" Óskarsson had the last laugh as the picture of Mary and Josema made the cut and appeared on the site; out of the some 500 he took during the event. I'm sure every one was minus me.  I discovered all this today when Mary posted the picture on Facebook.  I honestly forgot about the incident until I saw the picture and it inspired me to write about it.

I could go on and on about my speculations about why I wasn't allowed to be in the photo, but it's more fun for you to look at the pictures he chose and make the determination for yourself.  To me, the reason is pretty black and white, but I'll let you discover your own 'truth.'  Find the article with pictures HERE.

Oh, just in case your imagination isn't very good, I fixed the picture.  Photo credit: Me and Ómar "Osshole" Óskarsson.  See what I did there, Ómar? I shoved myself into the credit.  Sucks, doesn't it?
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Photo credit: Me and Ómar "Osshole" Óskarsson
Maybe someday I'll tell the tale of how I was shoved into the President of Iceland at a State event during RIFF.  It was pretty funny and I'm 90% sure there is a picture of it somewhere.  I'll see if I can track it down.

Hey Iceland, what's with all the shoving?
 
 
During my travels in Iceland for the Transatlantic Talent Lab, our group had an excursion at the famous Blue Lagoon. It's a geothermal spa that is southwest of the capital city. It features vibrant blue water, wonderful natural scenery and it is all outdoors.  After everyone survived the rumored (and true) "Shower Police," a good time was enjoyed by all.

I knew I wanted to try a video portrait at some point in Iceland and while taking in the scenery at the Blue Lagoon, I figured there would be a great opportunity to do so. I was able to do two of them, but I think one turned out better than the other. As I do more video portraits, I am realizing that actors make the best subjects. They love the camera and it really comes though in the final product.

So I present the video portrait of Michael B. Fresco, a wonderfully talented German actor and all around good dude. Also, cheers to my Polish friend 
Nikodem for letting me do a video portrait of him as well. His can be found HERE.
 
 
I returned last week from Iceland, where I attended the Trasatlantic Talent Lab at the Reykjavik International Film Festival. It was an incredible experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

I met so many talented, beautiful and unique people from all across North America and Europe. In addition, I made many new friends and had a ton of adventures.

In sharing time with fellow filmmakers, I came to realize that while
we all come from different places, we all share a desire to tell stories and express ourselves to the world.

I would like to thank our hosts from RIFF and wish the best of luck to my new filmmaking brothers and sisters. I would also like to thank my GoFundMe sponsors for their support. Below are pictures I took from my trip. Enjoy!
 
 
A few days ago, I got the news that two of my spec scripts got 'Second Rounder' status at this year's Austin Film Festival Teleplay and Screenplay competition. 'Second Rounder' status represents the top 15% of all the scripts they receive. Even though I didn't get semi-finalist status, I feel it is a big accomplishment as I 'Second Rounded' twice in two different categories. This shows a diversity in ability and a tenacity in my writing discipline. The 'Second Rounder' status was given to me for the following scripts in these categories:

Teleplay One-Hour Spec:

Arrow: Oliver's a Deadman
Teleplay Sitcom Spec:
Brooklyn Nine Nine: Chicken?

For more information on all the 'Second Rounders' and 'Semi-Finalists' Click HERE to go to the Austin Film Festivals website. I wish congratulations to all the 'Second Rounders' and good luck to all the 'Semi-Finalists.'
 
 
I have been selected to participate in the 2014 Transatlantic Talent Lab at the Reykjavik International Film Fest in Iceland. It is a unique opportunity for me to sharpen my directing and producing skills and meet some of the world's top filmmaking talent. The main focus of the lab is to help emerging filmmakers transition from making shorts into making features. I am very excited to visit Iceland. I have been a fan of Bjork since I was a teenager and I always wanted to see the landscape of her countless music videos. It always looked like such a magical and beautiful place on television.

This was a bit of an unexpected expense, so I am having a fundraiser to help me on my travels. You can find out more HERE
 
 
I was taking pictures this week and snapped this one of the famous Griffith Observatory. It was quite far away and my telephoto lens isn't the greatest, so I was pleased to get this clear shot around sunset. I have yet to go there, but hope to soon.