This is my second non consecutive winter living in NYC and it has been quite challenging to stay active in this damn cold! Therefore, I have spent a lot of time indoors writing, re-writing, starting from scratch, writing, getting constructive feedback, writing and re-writing again a comedic web series I am developing called Shaw. This little idea started back in the Fall after being inspired by working in the production office of the USA television show White Collar and wanting to produce my own work sooner rather than later. I've always enjoyed writing everything from plays to movie scripts, poetry, lyrics, I even remember back in the day I wrote a pilot for a teen drama series and got all of my friends and co workers at Starbucks to do a reading of it on a Friday night at our local Starbucks. However, I am that writer who gets a great idea, works on something non stop for days or weeks and then eventually gets bored and has to move onto something else. So I figured, writing a web series would be a great way to accomplish finishing a project because it's short, concise, creative and allows me to tap into another side of myself artistically. But it sure has been challenging!
I have been watching a lot of awesome web series like Awkward Black Girl and Hit Man 101 amongst others that are self produced and of high quality to really understand the logistics of producing something of similar quality. I also shot a pilot of a new web series called Retail Purgatory back in December, that will continue shooting this spring *fingers crossed*. Anyway, I won't give away too much about Shaw, but basically it centers around a guy named Shaw in his mid 20's, struggling to live in the post college world with his crazy theatre friends and spending most of his days dodging calls from his arch nemesis Sallie Mae. They say write what you know, right?
I am looking forward to sharing this with you all this summer, so stay tuned!
(from left to right) Director/Writer Kerey Viswanathan, Assistant Director Tyler Geis and Writer Andrew Saxe at the Best of the 48 Hour Film Project New Haven with our two awards.
On Wednesday August 28, 2013 it became official, "John and Clara" became an award winning film! Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the Best of the 48 Hour Film Project New Haven Viewing and Awards Cerememony, at the legendary Bijou Theatre in my hometown of Bridgeport, CT due to prior commitments. But I was so excited to hear that our little film won two awards that night, Audience Choice Award for Group B and Best Writing. I was also honored to find out I was a finalist out of 30+ films to be nominated for Best Actor and my costar, Ashley Trix Hamel for Best Actress.
It was such an amazing feeling to know that people genuinely enjoyed the work we put into this project. I have already discussed how special that entire process was to me before, but knowing that people actually got it and appreciated our art just made me even more proud, if that was possible. Another really special moment was that four of my good friends worked on another film for the contest called "Jolly Unfortunate" (directed by Mike Merli) that took home an award that night as well!
Even if John and Clara wasn't so well received, I've been honored to work with such a dynamic cast and crew. Though I have not seen them since the shoot wrapped, they have been in my thoughts constantly and I am so proud of each and one of them for their hard work and enthusiasm for this project. Before I wrap up this entry I wanted to include a quote that I read a few days after we won our awards for "John and Clara", that made me have even more respect for my peers in this industry.
"To any aspiring artists out there, just remember that judgment systems where creativity is concerned, cannot truly define what's actually good or bad or better than something or someone else. It can be fun and entertaining at times, but everyone has their own identity and reason to be heard. It’s good for people to have opinions and a stance on art. Everyone's story and intention is different. But you can't let someone else’s interpretation of it define who you are and how you feel about it. Or break your spirit if it’s not heard or understood at the exact moment you want it to be." ~Christina Aguilera
With that said, I am feeling really positive and upbeat thanks to the wonderful things happening in life right now. I look forward to sharing them with you all soon.
This past weekend I was fortunate enough to work with the mega talented Kerey Viswanathan again on another short film for the 48 Hour Film Project as an Associate Producer and Actor. The way the competition work is that each team of filmmakers have 48 Hours to write, direct, shoot, edit and score a film. So on Friday at 6:00pm we picked a genre out of a hat and then along with the other teams were given a character we had to use, a line of dialogue, and a prop that we had to incorporate into the film.
I would like to keep as much of the film as a surprise until after it premieres this week. Writer Andrew Saxe and Kerey came up with a brilliant script with a high energy plot, and one of the most fun characters I have gotten the opportunity to portray. The entire process of filming was very rewarding, even though we shot most of the film in the middle of nowhere in a tick filled jungle/forest in Middletown, CT where it was in the mid 90's the entire day. Bambi's daughter almost gave us a heart attack when she jumped out of a bush onto our set, right before we almost got attacked by Leatherface... Four seconds later we realized it was just a runaway dirt bike that was speeding straight into our direction at 60 mph. Luckily for us, the biker made good use of his brakes.
The lovely Ashley Hamel was the "Clara" to my "John" and she really set the bar high in terms of jumping right into her character and giving me a lot to work off. Ashley is an Improv Queen and because we were learning our scenes literally right before we shot them, we had to do a little improv here and there. She also has such an amazing voice, we spent our 2.5 minutes of downtime during the day singing "Agony" from Into the Woods (it was more of a coincidence, rather than irony, I swear). Jason Graves, who was my other co-star and Producer, is the heart of the film and a real trooper through the entire experience. Let's talk about method acting! On a side note, at the end of the day, I found out I knew of Jason before actually meeting him. As a Newtown native, he actually gave a beautiful speech and reading from the Qur'an at the Interfaith Community Vigil that aired live globally after the Sandy Hook school shooting.
I don't have a list of our entire production team at this moment but some of our outstanding members included Hollie Kinney (Editor), Malcom Cameron (Sound), Colleen Brown (1st Assistant Camerawoman), Daniel Dahlstrom (Director of Photography), Tristan Hess (Props/PA), Michelle Hahn (PA), Wojiech (whose last name I did not catch, but was our life saving Grip) and Tyler Geis (Assistant Director), who everyone said looked like a different Hollywood leading man, much to his embarrassment!
Shooting a film is a lot of work,but so rewarding. We were able to overcome the few setbacks that we had and submitted our film by the 7:30pm deadline on Sunday, much to our relief. Now we just continue to wait until it premieres in New Haven in the next few days!
I will definitely keep you all updated!