Wednesday, July 29, 2015

It's the Kid's World: A product integration concept

In the early 2000s, I took an interest in product integration as opposed to product placement which I had been utilizing as a production tool since I shot The French Chef in Paris in 1980. One could differentiate the two concepts in movie terms by saying that in product placement, the product is an extra and in product integration, the product is the star. A very good example of product integration was seen in The Castaway where both FedEx and Wilson became characters in the telling of the story. As I have previously written, the James Bond series has been a veritable placement/integration franchise hitting both with skill and elegance. Product integration has the effect of amping up the idea of implied endorsement.

It's the Kid's World is a product integration concept I created wherein a young retired child actor is absorbed into a game in his cell phone and could communicate to his friends via their cell phones for help in navigating his adventure. Here is the thumbnail description of the show:

It's the Kid's Word is a comedy about a child actor who took early retirement and "went out on top"--six months ago. He's rich beyond belief and keeps a full-time staff of retainers and attorneys working overtime to maintain and oversee his dynasty. Having conquered the real world, "The Kid" matriculates into the world of his cellphone game environment where he can confront and conquer the characters and situations he discovers there. From within the cellphone he makes calls to his friends eliciting their help in overcoming enemies and obstacles within the game. The Kid's friends track his progress within the game on their own cellphones. Viewers can text-message cheat codes/walk-throughs to The Kid in an effort to help and participate.

The Kid was played by my son Sean and was a spin-off of the character I created for him in Clip Joint. The visual promo clip seen above was composited for me by Michael Chanslor who has scored the music for many of my projects and often oversees post production with his Viral Video.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

An emergency meeting with POTUS (Ignorance is Bliss excerpt)

Martin Bliss was in a state of bewilderment as he lay in his bed at the George Washington University Hospital where he had been admitted under an assumed name. Brandi had just administered a sponge bath with a happy ending when Martin’s CIA-furnished doctor entered the private room. The badge he wore proclaimed ‘Major’ and Martin wondered if that was his name or rank.

“So, what’s the word, Eddie?” Brandi had a way of getting on a first name basis with males, regardless of name or rank.

“You’ll be glad to know it wasn’t a heart attack,” the doctor explained to Brandi as though Martin were absent. “I believe this episode was merely a reaction to overwhelming circumstances the Senator may be confronting. Just look what he went through for those Boat People. Can he take some time off for R and R?”

“Maybe we should ask him,” Martin interjected.

“You have no idea the stress he’s been under,” she told him. “He’s one of the most important men in the U.S. Senate and I get overwhelmed just seeing what he’s up against.”

“Perhaps you’re due for a complete physical.” Clearly the doctor didn’t need a ton of bricks to fall on him. “My nurse will call you to make an appointment.”

Major Eddie, or Eddie Major, left without further discussion.

“Nice work,” Martin observed.


“No, I mean him. Nice work, if you can get it, and I bet he can.”

“What are we going to do about Rrina?” she asked, changing the subject. “She’s obviously not working to your instructions.”

“The only voice she ever listens to is the one screaming in her head; not that I’ve ever complained.”

Before any further discussion could take place, the door opened and two paramedics entered the room with an ambulance gurney followed by two Secret Service agents.

“Hi, fellas,” Martin greeted them.

“We’re taking you to the White House for an emergency meeting with POTUS,” one of the agents explained as the paramedics transferred Martin to the gurney.

Brandi followed them down to a private entrance where they loaded Martin into the back of a flower delivery van. She blew him a kiss as the door slid shut and then took the rest of the afternoon off to do some writing on her memoirs.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

What Miles Davis can teach an actor...

I remember someone asking Miles Davis why he played his trumpet with a mute. Miles told him that it created a sound that was the closest he could come to the human voice. As one who sees a correlation between playing music and performing dialogue in acting, this answer stuck with me. As best I can, I try to get actors with whom I work to understand this and insinuate as many musical elements into their speaking voice as possible--phrasing, pitch, cadence, tonality, inference and even 'quoting'. These jazz concepts are all fundamental to my Action/ReAction technique, which I continue to develop.

Here are a few more quotes from Miles that can definitely apply directly to an actor in performance, approach and attitude. In a session, I would guide the actor to understanding how these quotes would apply to them personally, but here I'll leave the reader to ponder them and arrive at his or her own conclusions as to how they might apply.

"The thing to judge in any jazz artist is, does the man project and does he have ideas."

“Don't play what's there, play what's not there.”

“When you’re creating your own shit, man, even the sky ain’t the limit.”

“It's not about standing still and becoming safe. If anybody wants to keep creating they have to be about change.”

“Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent.”

“I always listen to what I can leave out.”

“For me, music and life are all about style.”

“If you don't know what to play, play nothing.”

“Do not fear mistakes, there are none.”

“I remember one time - it might have been a couple times - at the Fillmore East in 1970, I was opening for this sorry-ass cat named Steve Miller. Steve Miller didn't have his shit going for him, so I'm pissed because I got to open for this non-playing motherfucker just because he had one or two sorry-ass records out. So I would come late and he would have to go on first and then we got there we smoked the motherfucking place, everybody dug it.”

See these and other quotes from Miles Davis at:

Monday, July 13, 2015

Clip Joint: I own you...

I wrote this scene as a succinct yet eloquent introduction to Wesley Harris' character (or brand) in Clip Joint, a show-within-a-show I created in the late 90s (à la Larry Sanders) about a movie reviewer.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A GTO movie? Who would believe it?

The photos that accompany this article show Ferrari GTO #3987 at a time when I owned it. I loved the car and would hand wash it every day before I would set out on the road with it. Doing so, I memorized every subtle nuance and curvature in the car’s lines in the same way one comes to know the body of a lover. This did not mean to say that I drove it carefully or conservatively. Notice that the car is parked in the dirt at Riverside Raceway in these photos...

Read the entire article in the Blackbird Automotive Journal Volume 06, Spring 2015:

Sunday, July 5, 2015

A series of ONE

Over the past months, I have been developing a concept and content for a television series consisting of one-man/one-woman shows that reveal characters at a turning point in their lives. They are uncommon figures and in each can be found elements of drama, comedy and pathos as they navigate their situations. In describing the show, I've said it is like my series (Interview) without the interviewer. The first two shows are 'in the can' and five more are preparing to shoot in the coming weeks.

I designed the poster for the show and received help from Louella Ladybug in its execution. Other elements are coming together--each segment will have its own poster featuring the actor/actress for whom I wrote the story--and my thoughts are turning to theme music that will fit the presentation.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

All Rise buzzed (exercise)

Taking three phrases from the one-woman show I am writing for her and orchestrating the elements of Action/ReAction to convey the character (a superior court judge) as slightly inebriated is an interesting exercise that Antoinette did to good effect in our Skype session.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Ferrari GTO and Norman Jewison in the rain

It isn't every day that one can indulge two major passions in a single day but when it happens, a memory is created that lasts a lifetime. The photo of me in my GTO at the top of Benedict Canyon reminded me of just such a time. One of my favorite directors, Norman Jewison, was to give a talk at a screening of his film In the Heat of the Night presented by the Writers Guild of America in a small, private theater on Melrose Avenue one rainy Saturday back in the late 60s. I was looking forward to the occasion as the film had become an instant favorite of mine for its acting, direction and unforgettable score by Quincy Jones. Haskell Wexler was the director of photography whom I had met when I looked at a dark blue Ferrari Berlinetta Lusso he was selling.

In those days, I had two cars from which to choose when I left the house to go someplace; the first was a Ferrari GTO and the second was a 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia Spider Veloce. I would usually take the Alfa when I knew I would be leaving the car unattended for long periods of time or when I wanted to enjoy some top-down driving but my first impulse was always to take the GTO. On this rainy Saturday, The GTO won out.

The route I took was the Ventura Freeway to the San Diego Freeway southbound to Sunset Boulevard eastbound. Notice that people who grew up in Los Angeles in those days rarely used the numerical designations like 'the 101' or 'the 405'; we said things like 'the San Bernardino Freeway', 'the Arroyo Seco' or 'the coast highway'. Neither did we ever say things like 'the OC' (for Orange County) until that television series came along and imposed the absurd moniker on southlanders. Try saying 'the VC' and people in Ventura County will think you've gone all Walter Sobchak on them.

My GTO came to me with a set of Goodyear Blue Streak racing tires, though it may not be quite accurate to call them a set as the front and rears were different sizes; the rears being much wider and higher in profile than the fronts. All four were of the dry compound/dry tread pattern (very close to being like dragster slicks) which meant the car stuck to the road as though the tires were made of Super Glue--in dry weather.  Wet weather was another matter entirely and though Albert Hammond says "It never rains in southern California", by the time I made the transition to the 405 southbound (I know) it was pouring buckets thus contributing to a memorable quality of this day.

In subsequent years, grooves--known as tining--have been routinely cut into highway pavement which facilitate water draining and minimize aquaplaning. No tining combined with slick, dry compound racing tires meant that aquaplaning was not a risk but a certainty. As I steered the GTO down through the Sepulveda Pass, I was aware that certain movements of the car did not correspond with my movement of the steering wheel. It was the slightest of perceptions at first but within seconds, it became apparent that any connection between my steering inputs and the direction taken by the GTO were entirely coincidental. Picture kids sliding down icy, winter slopes on snow discs and you will get the idea of how much directional control I had as I tried to guide this magnificent race car down the road. Somehow, like a good horse returning to the barn, the GTO seemed to find its way knowing which of the curves could be ignored and which needed to be navigated so as to avoid disaster.

I managed to make it as far as Sunset Boulevard without incident by which time the downpour had let up a bit and I was able to get off the freeway and make my way along Sunset to Doheny where I turned right to Melrose no worse for wear but feeling like the pilot of an F-4 Phantom who had survived a particularly harrowing run over Vietnam. My senses were on high-alert and I enjoyed every minute of Norman Jewison's film and his talk.

Did I ever change to wet weather tread and compound tires as a result of this experience? No--"It never rains in southern California."

Saturday, June 6, 2015

"Do you understand?"

This is a run-through of a monologue I am writing for Belen that I recorded last night. With it, we are working on the basic levels of Action/ReAction--phrasing, emphasis, cadence, orchestration of emotions as well as some less obvious branding elements that are no less impacting and meant to convey her essence to the audience. This was her third session with me and she is taking to the technique like a fish to water.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Have a Whiskey...

This is a rehearsal of "Have a Whiskey...",a one-man show I am writing for Mark Lee Adams and rehearsing with him on Skype...