I’m Ready For My Close Up, Mr. DeMille

My niece, who is a junior in high school, was here for a visit over the Thanksgiving break. She lives in stupid New Jersey, where nothing interesting ever happens and there is absolutely no glamour. In her extensive years thus far, she has attained all the knowledge you would ever need, so she thought it was time to come to LA and check it out.  You know, in preparation for moving out here, after college, which her incredibly mean parents told her she must attend so she can get a job that will pay for stuff, which she totally won’t need since she’s going to be discovered and be a famous actress. Or else maybe she’ll be a historian and work for movies, making sure that they are accurate and all. Because Hollywood movies really value accuracy, you know. But she would rather be an actress in a soap opera, because that is where all the best actors are and that would be amazing.

She was quite impressed with LA. She loved all the pink and yellow houses. There are no interesting houses in New Jersey. There is nothing fun in New Jersey at all.  She also loved all the big houses, like in Beverly Hills and up on Mulholland.  When she is a famous star, she will live in a house that will be huge and very old – like, built in the 80’s or something, because she loves history. 

Since she didn’t happen to notice any sushi places, she concluded that no one in LA eats sushi. She was very glad about this. She thinks sushi is stupid. Everyone in New Jersey loves sushi and thinks it is the best thing ever, but did you know that sushi is RAW FISH? Take that back and cook it! But she still wouldn’t eat it, because she doesn’t eat fish. She also doesn’t eat meat (it has meat in it), anything green (too green), and any sauce of any kind (too saucy.) She only likes to eat things her mother cooks, because her mother knows exactly how to cook the food she likes, so when she was here she only ate half a grilled cheese sandwich and part of a quesadilla with nothing but cheese in it and some waffles, which were good, but not as good as the ones her mother makes. 

She did, however, approve of the weather, the cool skateboard guys (all the skateboard guys in New Jersey are lame), Venice Beach and also the Grove, where there were lots of interesting people.  There are no interesting people in New Jersey at all.  She noted that everyone in LA is happy and they say kind things to each other.  She felt that this had to do with the weather. Did you know it’s a proven conclusion that warm weather makes people happy?  That is true.  Plus, the palm trees look like big lollypops, so what’s not to like????

The morning she left she got up extra early and had her bag all packed and ready to go. She was very, very sad to be leaving LA and going home to stupid New Jersey. My brother said that when she got home she raced to her room and called all her friends and couldn’t stop talking about how much she loved LA, and then she ate every single thing that her mother cooked for dinner while she told them how much she loved LA, and then fell sound asleep snuggled in her own bed at home in stupid New Jersey.


The Secret To Being a Successful Director

We all know that things like appearance are not important in Hollywood, but I believe that it is always important to feel and look the best you can.  When I recently directed a project for our company, Post Haste, I was faced with a myriad of decisions that contribute to a successful shoot.  Choosing good material, casting great actors, finding a cooperative crew – these are all important.

But there is one thing that in my opinion is the most important decision – the thing that I believe influences everything else.

And that one thing is comfortable shoes. 

And a nice outfit. Okay, that’s two things. As a director, there are two things that are vitally important. Actually, since the outfit will most likely consist of some kind of pants and a top, technically that’s three things, unless you opt to direct in a jumpsuit which I DO NOT RECOMMEND. Many shoots are long and you tend to drink lots of coffee, so trust me – you do not want to be struggling with a one piece jumpsuit in some tiny port-o-potty while the actors are off discussing motivation with each other. That can only lead to very bad things down the road.

Okay – so – the three most important decisions when you are directing. Shoes, pants and a top.

I find it helps to view your directing outfit as a costume. Like any good costume, the clothing you choose to direct in should convey something about the character of “The Director.” The director is responsible for everything that happens on set. This is very stressful. One thing that helps ease this stress is that you have power. Your costume should properly capture this tension – this ying and yang, if you will. The costume should also be appropriate for the activities required of “The Director.”  These activities can include waiving your arms about as you argue with the producer, nodding as you pretend to listen when the DP talks about technical stuff, crouching in a corner with an actor to discuss his emotions, having a heated argument on your cell phone with “someone from finance,” and gazing silently at the empty set thinking about your vision.

For this last shoot, I elected to wear my Adidas sneakers, which were very comfortable.  Unfortunately, I didn’t realize until it was too late that they were lacking in the cool factor. The cool factor is a subtle yet vital part of the director’s mien. While the Adidas allowed me to spring into action, I feel that my black P.F. Flyers would have imbued me with a je ne sais quoi, which of course, would have been something. There is nothing in the world worse than standing on a set, with the entire cast and crew looking at you, and not feeling cool. But that’s okay.  I am always learning as a director, and I will bring this lesson with me into the next project. 

Now, let’s consider the pants.  Jeans are classic of course, but I find jeans slightly restricting. When I’m directing, I need to be able to reach the heights of my creative vision, and I don’t want to feel bound by budget or fabric. That is why I chose “activewear.”  This type of clothing is perfect for directing. Activewear is specifically made for people to be active in. The activity is completely up to you! Directing is a very active activity, therefore activewear is perfect. I wore the walk about pant from retailer Lucy, and considering the amount of walking about I did on the set, I think I made the right choice.

For my top, I choose the soy jersey long-sleeve hoodie, also from Lucy. Not only was this an environmentally conscious choice, it was also soft and comfy. Since this project was all about emotions and expressing emotions and feeling emotions, the soft comfy top sent a subtle cue that I was a director to whom you could be comfortable expressing your emotions. I choose the top in pink, because I don’t want to lose my femininity in a male-dominated profession. Also, I look good in pink.

I know this whole issue of the outfit may seem like another huge decision, when you already have so many decisions to make. But I honestly believe that if you choose your outfit well, you will be assured of a successful directing experience.  Happy Directing!

A Piece of The Pie, Denied

Warning: the following tale is true, and may be difficult to read. All the more so because IT IS TRUE. (And it has nothing to do with the writers’ strike. Nothing at all.)

They say that Hollywood is a cruel town. A town of broken dreams and disappointment. They are correct.

Last night Rick and I attended the last of what had been an enjoyable, informative series of cooking classes. We learned, among other useful things, the best way to chop vegetables, the importance of sharp knives, and a wonderful recipe for Thai chicken curry.

The last class was about dessert. After an initial discussion and tasting of various cheeses – an alternative to sweet dessert – we were asked to turn our attention to the proper technique for making pie. We watched as our instructor, “P,” showed us the secrets to making a flaky, buttery crust. (Names have been disguised to protect the innocent.) Until that night, “P” had been nothing but a gracious and generous teacher, and there was no reason to suspect the horrible act that was soon to occur.

“P” showed us a trick to transfer the rolled-out dough to the pie pan, and how to use scissors to trim it to the correct size. We observed him fill the waiting crust with a mixture of berries – ripe red strawberries, tart raspberries and small but enthusiastic blueberries. We applauded as “G,” a fellow student, volunteered to roll out the top crust. She did so with ease, and “P” then crimped the two crusts together, sealing the delectable berries into their pastry prison. Little did we know that he was also sealing out our very hopes and dreams.

It was at this point that one of us happily remarked upon how nice the pie looked, and how better it would taste! Oh, to go back to those happier times – before we tasted the bitter taste of disappointment, which does not taste good at all.

For it was then that “P” remarked calmly “Why, this pie isn’t for you.”

“What do you mean?” We all cried out in unison, which is very hard to do.

“This is my pie!” He replied, cruelly, his eyes suddenly going all narrow and glowing red.

“But – why?” the confused and hungry class demanded. “We have labored long and hard to make this pie. We should get a piece of it!”

“I do not yet know how big this pie will be. How can I promise to give you some? I have to make sure that there is enough first.”

“Okay, that makes no sense.” We said, still in unison, which only proves how talented we are.

But by then he was gone – into the kitchen to put the pie into the oven. And then he proceeded to show us how to make another incredible dessert, involving warm white chocolate and berries, which totally distracted us from the whole issue of the pie.

Until today, when this picture arrived in an e-mail:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The message simply said “The pie was delicious.”

That’s just cruel. I now am forced to go to the store and buy some berries and make my own pie. JUST TO SHOW HIM THAT I CAN.

I will have my pie, and I will eat it too!

Which has nothing to do with the writers’ strike and the attitude of certain people in control who do not want to share the pie. Nothing at all.

The end.

Cry Me A River

So, we had our big shoot on Sunday for the book project, and it went exceptionally well. The day wasn’t too long (as these things go), my feet didn’t hurt too much (as these things go), and we got great footage (yes we did.)

Great relief all around.

The actors all arrived prepared and ready to go. They cried. They yelled. They were depressed and then they were accepting and calm. They were fantastic. I felt slightly sadistic at times holding a shot, lingering, letting them cry some more, staying on their unhappiness. But that’s what they came to do. That’s the good stuff – the real emotion. The truth. The honesty.  

And there were some very funny moments, too. Pain and honesty and ridiculousness, all intertwined. That’s real life, no? 

 The technical stuff also went very well.  We were fortunate to have a wonderful DP, Alec D. Boehm, who really knows his stuff, works quickly and has a great sense of humor on set – a winning combination in my book. I know without a doubt that without Alec, things would not have gone as well as they did. 

In fact, the only realy problem was a sound sync issue which Rick discovered yesterday, after spending four hours loading the video into the computer. This is apparently a glitch with the camera we were using – nothing that can’t be fixed with four or five more hours of redoing everything he already did.  So, that sucks. But all things considered, the Technical Gods smiled on us and we got off easy. 

Now we have to edit the thing. A piece like this is really made in the editing. We already have certain ideas about the material, about what happened during the shoot, but we won’t really know what it will be until we sit down and start looking and listening.  It will emerge. It’s an exciting process, if you can really let the material guide you and go where it takes you.

I hope that it takes us somewhere wonderful!

It’s Not My Bag, Man

A Tale of Handbags and Marketing

Handbags are a huge fashion accessory right now. Anyone who reads PEOPLE magazine or watches the CW knows this.  And it’s not just in LA, which admittedly is the epicenter of monkey-see, monkey-do. This is a national phenomenon. A handbagnomenon, if you will. (Actually, I don’t think anyone uses the word “handbag” anymore. I read somewhere that the current term is “arm wear.” Yeah – I got your arm wear right here, lady.)

How does a bag become an “It” bag? Marketing.  If a starlet appears on the pages of PEOPLE magazine carrying some pieces of python skin stitched together by INSERT NAME OF BIG SHOT DESIGNER HERE, the bag will immediately sell out.  On back order. Till next year. Everyone HAS TO HAVE THAT BAG. Because if you have the same bag as Ms. Starlet, it means that you have taste.  It means that you are hip. It means that you are someone.  This is marketing. What marketing does is tell a story.

Most designer handbags are expensive, ergo, following the marketing story, if you carry one, you have money. Or your daddy does. Or your sugar daddy does. Or you owe VISA your first born child. (PLEASE NOTE: VISA does not want your child, and will not accept it in lieu of payment, so if that’s your plan you might want to rethink that strategy.)  There have always been status bags – everyone can recognize the “LVs” of a Louis Vuitton or the interlocking “Gs” on a Gucci. Those bags are a shorthand to status. But there are other bags now, vying for the title “It” bag. These bags are made of the finest buttery soft Italian leather. These bags hold you and rock you gently to sleep at night with the dulcet tones of angels. Or maybe they just hold your cell phone and wallet?

Recently, I myself fell under the spell of the handbag siren’s call. I will admit that I am not above the lure of buttery soft Italian leather.  Sadly, I have caviar taste on a fluffernutter budget. However, I found myself in need of some new “arm wear,” so off to the store I went. (Um, wouldn’t “arm wear” be, like, sleeves?)

After much confusion and temptation (tassels! many pockets! chains!) the bag I ultimately chose was simple and classic, made by a well established brand, known for its good workmanship and materials. And it was on sale! It was meant to be. I bought the bag. I went home and set it on my bureau to admire it. I liked the way it looked.  It held my cell phone and my wallet. Plus, I didn’t have to dip into my retirement account to buy it. Despite the fact I heard no dulcet angel singing emanating from the bag, I was happy with it.

Until I started reading on the internet about the company that made my bag. They were a good solid company that had turned out quality bags for years. Recently, in an attempt to share a larger piece of the huge handbag pie, they introduced some new lines and raised some prices. Well, this really bothered some handbag consumers, who didn’t like the idea that this old established company was trying to up their image.  This small band of consumers turned their noses up at the company, telling it to step off, and keep its pedestrian wares for the masses at the mall.  There were gossipy posts in chat rooms about the company, putting it and its new designs down. Putting it in its place. Putting me in my place.

I had really liked my bag up until I read those posts, but now I questioned my own taste. Maybe I had made a huge mistake! If people saw me with that bag, would they snicker and laugh behind my back? Would they know I was a clueless nerd who didn’t know enough to buy from the right designer? What story was my bag telling about me?

After some chocolate and soul searching, I realized that the bag wasn’t telling any story about me. It was a bag. A nice, well made bag that I really liked. High school was a long time ago and I don’t have to prove anything to anyone (HEATHER and SARAH!!!) My bag will not transform me into a Hollywood star.  It will, however, carry my wallet and cell phone. And that’s what a bag is supposed to do.

Marketing, people. Marketing.

Doll on Strike

Hey! How are you all doning? Its grate to be here. Its grate to be anywhere! I just flew in from Pittsberg and boy are my arems tired. (HAHA LOL!) (pretend I am on the Tonight show!!!!)

I am writing this blog today because the normal writer is showing sympathy with the writers on striking the shows in hollywood!  Who am I you may ask? Well let me tell you!  I am a writer too. Okay I am not a fancy hollywood writer but so what!!! Anyone can write funny, you know! Like, the epople who write the shows on TV are good, I will give you that, but come on! Anyone who wnent to high schook in this county can write! It is what we all learn how to do in school! So why do the writers in hollywood think they are better than all other writers?  Huh?

Do they think that they are the STARS of the show – who we all know are the ACTORS that we want to see in the shows ion TV!!!  I personally do not put on TV shows to watch writers. Do you?”??? NO, I DO NOT THINK YOU DO!!! I think you want to see the handsome guys and hot girls on on TV! And the funny ones to liek on Scrubs and the Office. They are the reasons we watch TVshowS!  Not the wrtiers. So the writers should go back behind the desks where they belong and not think they they make the shows or anything.  Bec ause they can be rep.aced.  Who do they think they are that they will not be able to be rep,aced just like the car workers!!! They should really think about that before they go on strike. Oh well! Too late, huh? 

fINALLY I would like to say to all Holloywood procuders who are reading this – I am a funny writer and also I can write seriuops stuff liokle on House where they solve teh mysteries of why someone is sick. I ahve good stories about my aunt who was in the hsopital and why she was sick when they found out that she was sick because she was just DAMM OLD!!! hAHA! yOU SEE – that is both funny and serious like the show HOUSe so you can hire me and get rid of all the writers who dont show up for work!!!

Just think how gopod the TV shows would be with me writi9ng them!!!!