So maybe those weren't that exact words I used this past Sunday August 9, 2015 around 8:10pm when we finally wrapped the pilot episode of my original webseries SHAW, but damn it, it's what I wanted to say.
To make a long story, longer... I started working on this project in October 2013, I didn't know, almost 2 years later that I would have a pilot episode wrapped in the can. It's a bit of a surreal feeling. We started shooting in mid March and while it's only been three actual shooting days, mind you those three days were long as fuck! But it's been such an adventure, a lesson in patience and a test in courage.
Shooting SHAW has been so unbelievable! There have been so many times on set where I just zoned out and was just positively overwhelmed with the amount of love and support emitting off of my amazing crew and cast. I mean seeing this world and these character go from basic ideas in my mind to scribbles of random notes on yellow legal pad paper, to sculpted and layered on my celtx screenwriting software to fully realized and living people and places has been such an adventure. I really could not have asked for a better cast and crew to support this idea and to give up their time and put forth so much effort in just being creative. I have been so blessed and fortunate to work with so many brilliantly talented folks. I have learned so much from each and every person who set foot into the world of SHAW.
Through this journey I received so many lessons in patience. From working with multiple directors, and arranging schedules for over two dozen people, making and sticking to budgets really taught me to just take it all in and then let it go because we can't control every aspect of our lives or our projects. I haven't even touched on the many weather debacles we had through the past five months. I almost had an aneurysm in June, when we has scheduled our biggest shoot day yet. It was a scene with seven principal actors, seven background actors, a dozen crew members and a ten page chunk of footage that needed to be shot. All week the weather forecasts were saying non stop rain and thunder on the day we were scheduled to shoot. I waited till two days before to cancel, after looking for interior locations to shoot because the weather was not going to be on our side. Two days later, I wake up at 5:30am and there are birds chirping, sky is bright with endless sunshine and it stayed that way until literally 5:00pm. I was so upset that I wasted a day of filming, but I had to just take a step back and realize, that I may be "The God" who created this world of SHAW, but that's as far as my "powers" can go. I can't control the real world, no matter how much I pretend I can. When we eventually got around to shooting that scene, it was an actual bad weather day with on and off rain, but I was ready to just be patient and go with the flow and it turned out pretty freakin awesome.
Lastly, my courage was tested. Singer, Erykah Badu has a great quote at the start of one of her most famous songs, "Tyrone": "I'm a test this out... Keep in mind, I'm an artist, and I'm sensitive about my shit". That's how I felt about letting people read my script for this pilot.
I had all of these little vampires in my brain, just feeding me negative thoughts. I remember after the project was cast and having the first table read, literally feeling like I was going to puke. But honestly, after being on set and actually filming, it wasn't that bad. At the end of the day what's the worst that could have happened? People may hate it, criticize it and it may never amount to much besides a couple of views on the Youtube. But first of, I actually did it. With the help of so many people who believed in not only this script but in me as a leader and person, I was able to finish something. So many people, NEVER get this far. Secondly, it was a workout in my artistry. I like to compare finishing this pilot, as someone who trains for a 5K run and even though they may not be in the top 10 or 50 or 500 to cross that line, at least they still were able to. No one can take that away from them. Third and probably most important through this experience, was so many different people were able to come together and share something special. This will hopefully lead to more projects and collaborations between this tribe of creativity.
Again before I close out, I have to thank my incredible crew and cast once again for their support, belief, inspiration and for sharing their gifts with me. I am so looking forward to the editing process and working on the next round of episodes. It is going to be a great rest of the summer and fall. I can not wait for everyone else to actually meet Shaw.
Until Next Time,
"There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any."
I just got home from a day of shooting a short comedic film called Lies We Tell, with some great people and one of my best friends in Studio 4 NYC. After spending all day shooting, I feel even more so rejuvenated and excited about all of the tremendous things that 2015 has in store for me. I opened up my Weebly to update my blog and I read the quote above at the top of the page. I sat there, re-read it a few times and really let it sink in. I mean, I woke up today and I had the opportunity to do something that I love, that drives me and I am so thankful for that.
In between shooting, auditions, taking acting and film classes, I am also writing and in pre-production for my first ever web series, "SHAW", which I began writing back in 2013. I am finally gearing up to bring those characters and that world to life and it's freakin frightening but I am thankful for that.
I am also thankful that I am surrounded by so many creative artists all of the time. I get to spend almost every day of the week either in a theatre or rehearsal studio or concert venue surrounded by people who are just as passionate about acting, film, theatre and music as I am. There's something magical and humbling about that experience, and I am honestly a glutton for it.
Lastly, I am thankful for that I have such a supportive family who encourage me to express myself and turn my dreams into a reality here in NYC.
There are times when I am feeling overwhelmed and frustrated that things aren't happening "fast enough" or maybe I am not good enough or maybe I should take a break and focus on something else. But then there are days like today that remind that there is only now and I have been so fortunate to be here in this moment as an artist. Seriously, the only thing that can hold me back, is myself and I refuse to let that happen.
Anyway back to work...
This past week I had the amazing opportunity to Host the Hábito Fashion Line Launch Party at Hill and Dale in the Lower East Side. Through my acting class I was introduced to the Director of the line, Tim Cordell, who then introduced me to his wonderful and talented wife, Nicole Melendez, who created Hábito. They gave me a fantastic opportunity to host the event, which I was honored to do. According to their website,
"Hábito is an advanced contemporary womenswear line based in New York City, founded by Nicole Meléndez & owned by Habito Group Inc.
Nicole and Tim succeeded in their vision. The designs are classy, sleek, functional and versatile. I was so humbled to be invited to be apart of this launch. I was also so proud of Nicole and Tim for taking a leap and making their dream come true. They are such a great team and such genuine, beautiful and inspiring people. As an up and coming actor and host, to be surrounded by such positive role models is a blessing. Check out a few pics from the event:
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!
I had the privilege to spend about five months working at the 9/11 memorial this past year. To meet so many people affected by the huge tragedy was a truly humbling experience. Today is the anniversary of that terrifying day that changed the world and I just want to give my respects and honor the almost three thousand men, women and children who were murdered twelve years ago. God bless them and their families. Also God bless America. We will never forget, so make sure that we try to honor those lives lost by doing something genuine every day, especially today. Life is too short folks.
(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!