During the first weekend of January, I was invited to join the Minnesota based GSI (Ghost Stories Inc.) on their paranormal investigation of LA locations tied to the Sharon Tate tragedy of 1969. The group is in the process of making a documentary, and LA was one of many stops on their list of locations. The group is made up of children's authors and artists, and contains both skeptics and believers. I have always been interested in the supernatural and a big fan of 'reality' ghost shows, so I was excited to participate. 

I met the group at a house they rented in Hollywood.  I knew one of their members prior to my arrival.  That was artist, Scott Spinks. Scott and I met a couple years ago and he has done some artwork for a handful of my projects. I was relived when I found the rest of the group to be as friendly as he.

While at the house, it was neat to see the group assemble their ghost hunting gear in preparation for the investigation. Everyone was excited to tell me how it all worked, from the temperature gun that uses a laser, to the spirit box that scans radio waves for 'voices.' I found it all to be very cool gear. After getting all the tools and personnel assembled, we hopped in the big white Scooby-Doo-esque cargo van, and I was ready to have my skepticism shattered.
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The GSI crew in the big van. Zoinks!
PictureThe house by: David Oman
Our first stop was the 'Oman House' located in the Benedict Canyon area of Beverly Hills. The 'Oman House' is located about 200ft (maybe more) from the front gates of the property where the Tate murder happened, and its owner, David Oman, has reported paranormal activity since the house was built in 2002. The original Tate house was torn down in the 1990s and a new mansion was built in its place. When I got all that information, my skepticism spiked pretty high, as I thought the 'Oman House' was a little far away to receive hauntings, but I was willing to keep an open mind.

We met David, who was a welcoming and friendly fellow, and he gave us a tour of the house. He had great enthusiasm as explained to us what kind of activity he and others had experienced over the years. This included: apparitions of ghostly figures, disembodied voices, knocked over action figures, and nausea. After the tour, we left to go to dinner at the famous, El Coyote restaurant to wait for true nightfall. The GSI team told me they do their investigations from about 10pm to 3am.

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El Coyote. Photo via: FreindsEat.com
Besides having some of the best food in LA, El Coyote was the last place Sharon Tate and her friends had eaten before their untimely end.  It creeped me out a little, knowing that we were going to eat at the same location as Tate before our investigation, but it didn't ruin my appetite for a delicious beef burrito and heaps of chips and salsa! Mmmmm...

After dinner, we hightailed it back to the house to set up the equipment. The tech experts from GSI set up small security cameras at certain points of the house where reported activity was high. The rest of us got the camcorders and sound equipment powered up. Once everyone was ready to go, they hit the lights and began their investigation.
PictureMonitor with cameras.
The group as a whole was nine people deep including myself, so we broke into two smaller groups. My group went downstairs to conduct and EVP session. EVP is short for 'Electric Voice Phenomenon.' The phenomenon happens when an audio recorder picks up a voice, inaudible by the human ear. I didn't really talk as I was the one holding the camcorder but the people in my group ask things like: "Are you here?" "What's your name?" and "Can you tap twice on the wall?"

During this session, others reported a chill in the air, but I didn't feel much of anything.  Since we didn't have time to listen back to the recording, I can't say if a spirit talked back to us.

We did this in several locations of the house and pretty much had the same results. I really didn't get any weird feelings or hear anything. There was a moment where everyone thought they heard music and a man and woman talking, but I chalked that up to the pair of fish aquariums in the room that were running at different speeds.

When we regrouped in the kitchen area around 2am is when the first (and only) strange thing happened that would divide the collectives' opinion on paranormal evidence.  

As mentioned earlier, they placed security cameras at different points in the house. One of said cameras was positioned on top a fish tank where a small collection of action figures was displayed. David Oman has reported that the action figures fall over due to the spirits. As an avid former action figure collector, I know that sometimes crapply made action figures fall over.

Anyway, while taking about supposed evidence gathered, GSI founder, Jessica Freeburg made way for the bathroom. While she was inside, we heard a shriek. She ran out of the bathroom reporting to us that the lights went off by themselves when she was washing up. She was visibly shaken by the incident even though a few of us blamed it on the light switch setting that had a fade to black option.   

Soon after she calmed down, Jessica made an off-hand comment about a spirit that she had supposedly been communicating with in the basement. She had wondered if it could have that spirit that hit the lights on her. It was at this moment that an action figure on the fish tank fell down and was captured by camera.

PictureFigure collection photo by: David Oman
Now, as mentioned, I used to collect many action figures and the fact of the matter is, some just fall down. Even so, it was the timing of the event that got nearly everyone spooked. I scoffed. David stood up the figure and not 5-minutes later, it fell again. Again, many were jostled. This time Scott went to reset the figure and while he was inspecting it, it fell again. He jumped, I laughed. With many in the group thoroughly shaken, and the 3am hour close at hand, everyone decided to call it a night. Just then, a large door on the balcony slammed to the floor. Many thought it was the spirit again, but Sean Spinks (Scott's brother and fellow skeptic) and I chalked it up to the wind outside.

Nothing much happened while we packed up and left. On the van ride back to the rental house, it seemed like not much that happened at the 'Oman House 'did anything to sway the skeptics into believers. They are still reviewing the audio recordings and video footage, so there may be a surprise yet to come.

PictureGSI members Natalie (L) & Jessica (R).
The next day we hit the road to go to the valley. They were on the hunt for the Spann Ranch. The ranch is place where the Manson Family called home. The ranch burned down in the 1990s and is now: one, hard to find and two, a pile of rubble.  We combed the woods and soon found the Manson Cave where the group took a family photo in the late 60s and after a long trek, found the land itself.  The land sits in a pretty picturesque piece of land. We got there just during sunset as well, so everything was getting a nice orange glow.

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The view from the former Spann Ranch.
One thing I noticed while there was a large cross in the distance on the top of a large hill. It belonged to a church that was adjacent and visible from the Spann Ranch location.  I mentioned to GSI member, Jay Asher, how the cross must have been put there as a statement to the location's frequent visitors. I think that statement is: "Good will always rise above."

They didn't do an investigation on the land. For the group, the point was just to get a bit of context to the key 'Oman House' investigation. On the walk back many reported getting a 'heavy feeling' while on the land. I didn't feel much of anything but an awe of some natural beauty. We plied in the van and prepared for dinner at Hollywood landmark, The Roosevelt Hotel, a reported paranormal location itself. At dinner, we discussed the weekend's 'evidence.'

Overall, the investigation failed to turn this skeptic into a believer, but it was successful in making me some great new friends.  Honestly, I found everyone on the GSI team to be friendly and super interesting. We also shared a ton of laughs and smiles. I am looking forward to their documentary and hope to ghost hunt with them again someday. Because like Fox Mulder in the "X-Files," "I want to believe."
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Fox's office. Photo via 20th Century Fox.
 
 
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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: 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?
 
 
A few weeks ago, I posted a video on my blog about a couple glass blowers. One of them was artist Mark Floyd. I was saddened to learn last month, that at age 39, he passed away while waiting for a lung transplant.

Mark was a fantastic artist, a good guy to talk to and always had a positive vibe around the studio. I know he will be missed around the Stone Arch Glass Studio. When I heard the news, I went through my archives to try to find all the raw video and pictures I could of him and his artwork to give to his young son. During my time at Dana International, I had amassed a great deal of footage and pictures of many of the artists and their work.

I figured, when his son became an adult, he might appreciate it. While collecting the footage, I figured I would make a tribute video as well for a benefit event to celebrate Mark's life. Below, is the finished product. I know Mark enjoyed Hip Hop, Rock and Reggae but, I wanted a tone that was a little more timeless as I made it for his son. It was a difficult decision to pick a tone and I hope I made the right decision. 

This Saturday, August 9th, 2014 Stone Arch Glass Studio will be hosting a benefit for Mark's son. If you are in the Twin Cities area, please consider attending. You can find more info HERE.
 
 
Recently, I had a surprise visit from my friends Arika and Alan. They were on a day trip from Santa Barbara. We were going to meet up for dinner at one of the countless Korean BBQ places in the city.

They stopped by and I proposed that we do a quick video portrait. The sun was setting so we had to act fast. I like to think on my feet so I worked quickly to try to get set up.

The sun set a little faster than anticipated but we forged ahead. I was interested in doing a video portrait with one, a couple and two, non-actors.  

I almost wasn’t going to post this, but I didn’t want it to go to waste. Even though it didn’t turn out 100% the way I’d like, I figure it is a learning process and with each one I do the better they will become.

Also, the city skyline was enough not to just let this sit on a hard drive.  

 
 
A couple years back, I had an idea. It was to capture poets and rappers performing material at various places in the Twin Cities. I was really just looking for a new way to express myself using the camera.

I had done music videos, but I wanted to try to do something that was a little more raw and unpolished.


I called up my friend Adam Napoli-Rangel A.K.A See More Perspective and wanted to see if he'd like to be my test subject. I had seen him perform before on stage and thought he would be a great voice to capture. I had managed to get him to agree and on a hot summer day, we went to a Minneapolis park.

Adam preformed like a champ and after about 45 minutes we wrapped.

I brought the footage into the editing room and quickly started to try to assemble it. That was until other projects stated stacking up. Soon it was buried and filed in the "to-do" pile. Recently, I came  across the project while digging through the "to-do" pile and thought it'd be nice to finish it even though the intended series didn't pan out.

I have to give Adam props for being so patient with me as he waited for me to finish this. He gets a gold star in my book. Presented below is the finished product: See More Perspective performs "Pyramids."

Also, make sure to check out his music HERE. He is a great artist with though provoking and smart lyrics. He also has a YouTube Channel you can subscribe to HERE.
 
 
A few months back, I came across what is called a video portrait. I was fascinated  by the concept and wanted to try it out. I had recently been reacquainted with my actress friend Tristin Lee Rupp from Minnesota at her birthday party in the Valley.

We had briefly chatted at the party and made plans to meet up for coffee to catchup properly. Realizing that coffee was a boring for a couple of young talented artists, I suggested that we meetup and try to do a video portrait. We met in the Griffith Park area and tried a few locations and takes before settling on the location I eventually went with.

After this, my battery died and we called it a day. I forgot all about until I was cleaning up my card. Always liking to finish what I start, I did some post, added music and finalized the project. After I completed it, I once again became interested in the concept. I hope to try more of these in the future.

What happens at around the :45 mark was an unintended but delightful surprise. I must say, sometimes I just get lucky. Props to Tristin for holding her composure. Also, congrats to Tristin for her guest star spot on the CBS show "Criminal Minds."