Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Embrace Where You Are to Get Where You're Going...

Hello my dear non-readers!

I say this because I've come to realize that absolutely no one actually reads this blog except for myself and a couple of Chinese spammers who occasionally write lurid comments about Japanese porn in my comments wait...yeah, pretty sure they don't read the blogs either.

But nonetheless these blogs have been a catalogue of my sometimes painful journey to remain inspirational and optimistic while going through a challenging time in my career, like so many others in this economy. But as wiser people once said "It's not what happens to you that matters, it's what you do with it."

Last year when freelance work became scarce and it no longer became practical, I was confronted with the difficult decision to give up my NYC apartment and move home to Long Island. It could have come with the bitter, the angry, ashamed, and looking for someone to blame recession economy syndrome but! as a beautiful example of what the film industry is capable of doing for people, I saw Julie & Julia! got inspired! and decided to empower myself through blogging on a new project! What I didn't know at the time was that the "project" kind of became

In what started as a potentially disheartening lack of work situation quickly became a momentous opportunity to step back from my career and really focus on developing myself as a filmmaker and entrepreneur. In doing that I think I've actually grown more in the past year than most of my other friends still working their regular 9-5s. And now here I am, finally after a year of my self invented project moving on to Los Angeles, having been accepted to the NYU Tisch Mentorship in LA program that starts July 1st, with so much more to offer than before.

In retrospect, I think the hardest thing about moving home with my Mom was really in accepting it and actually being here. Just because you're not in your own place or working a typical job doesn't mean you're not exactly where you're supposed to be. There's so much you could get out of it! I spent so much time trying to get over there, get a new job, a new place, a new life, really trying to figure out how to not be here that I almost missed out on how being here has actually been a blessing in disguise that has enabled me to:

1) Be my own boss (that'll teach you time management!) revamp my company website and develop a client base for Vibe Artistry Entertainment working as an editor

2) Live at ease without constantly anticipating living expenses (releasing me from an unsustainable cycle that didn't leave room for growth)

3) Work on writing my own creative screenplay (218 pages n countin!!) and submitting it to a Screenplay bank to be seen by producers and agents

4) Focus on producing my short film for festivals by investigating licensing & copyright permissions

5) Recut my short and submit it to over 13 film festivals!! (which earned us an IMDB page for the film!)

6)Buy my own fully capable Mac computer complete with full editing and effects studio software (that's a biggie!)

7) Start my own Blog! (after years of wondering wtf a blog was!), developing my critical film analysis skills with a series of Film Reviews and cataloguing my film career journey as an inspiration to others!!

8)Sign onto a Twitter account so I could finally see what all the tweeting is about

9) Paint and redesign my room, clear out my closets and donate/sell BOXES of old tapes, toys, and childhood memorabilia that was cluttering the house (God that feels good!!)

10)Spend time really present with my family and my cat which catalyzed a lot of behind the scenes healing/restoring of relations

11) Go jogging and get back into shape with the best motivational coach you could ever ask for: my brother's husky dog! (she's a runner!)

12) Travel to San Francisco for the premiere of a film I worked on and explore the Ancient Redwood forest, Haight Ashbury and meet really beautiful new people

13) Reconnect to peace and nature, and realize how truly spectacular is my own backyard

14) Remember what it is to live with people who cook for you (and buy toilet paper without you needing to ask them!)

15) Remember how good it feels to sleep in a clean room and shower in a nice bathroom without worrying about roaches and bugs (Oh the city...)

16) Breathe clean air while doing yoga surrounded by trees (not buildings & smog)

17)Work with and have the support of my spiritual mentors on Long Island

18) Re-acclimate to driving a car again (It'd been a while!)

19) Be in a relationship and enjoy spending more time with friends and social circles (if that's not a gift, I don't know what is!)

20) Catch up on amazing TV and films- including Sicko, Fringe, and True Blood on Demand which is so well written it's inspired my own creative process

21) Spend quality time in the garden planting flowers with my Mom

22) Attend monthly mentorship at Pathways, really becoming a part of that healer community

23) Step back and reflect over time to know that leaving my apartment in NY was the right choice, and the most responsible and empowering choice I could've made

24)Attend all the film industry lecture workshops offered by NYU that I never had a chance to go to before

25) See the place I grew up in with new eyes

26) Take the time to actually process and experience the miracle of how a tree in Fall loosing all its leaves does indeed transform into a tree in Summer, fully bloomed in green foliage

Ok! it wasn't all sunshine and roses..also, half the time I spent cleaning up cat pee off the floor in a gigantic effort to overhaul the cat's room and still obsessively worrying about how to get a proper job or explain my "failures" to relatives if asked So what are you doing now?....but! I still think it's important for anyone to realize, including myself, that if you seem to be stuck in an unfavorable living situation, sometimes there's an opportunity in it for you that you need to explore while you are still there. There's SO MUCH more that you could potentially get out of it than you might realize! But it's up to you to find it. There's a lot to be said for a person who can create their own opportunity and invent their own enterprise when there aren't any out there to be had. And there's a lot to be gained from investing in developing your own creative endeavors. No matter what anybody advises you about that light at the end of the tunnel or tries to emphasize to you, "hang in there, you'll get there!" -that's not really what it's about. It's about being here. Because you truly need to be where you are, before you can get where you're going... Do this and know that the Universe doesn't bring us to places for no reason. This is the magic of transformation.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

On With the Show!

It's official....Speak Heaven was finally submitted to its first film festival! And everyone who saw the screener agrees, it's perfect just as it is, better even than before. As I suspected, more of the essence of my film now comes to the surface. Less really is more.

Coming Soon to A Film Festival Near You!!

For those of you who keep inquiring about it, no, the film is not available on the internet.

While it's running the festival circuit it will only be exclusively available for screening at your nearest Film are affordable and festivals are always the greatest way to really enjoy the films on the big screen in all their glory... stay tuned for details!

For the trailer please visit:

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Moving Forward Without Permission

So it's been over a month now from when I received my first studio permissions rejection letters. Some were outright "No" and others asked for thousands upon thousands of dollars for seconds of footage I wanted to use and then still didn't guarantee clearance since technically the actors in the clips would also need to be contacted for permission to use their image. A simple "No" would have sufficed. And besides, all it takes is one "No" and the effect I had planned with the imagery no longer holds up. I was already defeated from the very first letter.

Alas. At first I was considerably upset. You know more than 4 people I know of now have actually cried they were so moved by the film...I watched my friend's cathartic reaction as my film did for her in 15 minutes what that Spiritual Warriors film failed to do in an entire hour 45! And now? I can't show it anywhere! Frustration doesn't even begin to cover it. But that was only my first thought. My second thought was of a most beautiful person I know who gave me a message. She said, "Don't worry about thought you were moving in one direction and then suddenly you found yourself somewhere entirely different. But it's not being changed, don't think of it as changing your film, think of it as enhancing it"

I had NO IDEA what the funk she was talking about at the time. But when I received my rejection letters, after the crying, came the revelation. I don't need the copyrighted footage. The film wasn't really hinging upon that footage, the iconic famous footage images were more of an enhancement. A layer. But as any good film editor knows, when you pull back and strip away a layer of content in your film, what's left in the cut ends up being more enhanced, more emphasized, standing out more than before. Suddenly you see things that you didn't see before, maybe even clearer because there's not all this other footage mixed in with it.

Then my mentor added, "You thought that your story needed that big famous movie footage to enhance it, but what you don't realize is that your story is it's own big movie. It's good enough all on it's own, just as good as any one of those other big movies."

I never thought of it that way before! Suddenly the worst news became the most inspiring vote of confidence that any out-of-work yet still capable and promising young filmmaker could hope to hear.

Here I was waiting around for somebody else to allow me to go forth. Waiting for them to grant me permission so I can move forward and send my film to festivals. Waiting to finally get back to being the filmmaker that I am. When really, it was in my power to do so all along!

The copyrighted footage has henceforth been completely cut from the film. A very genuine thank you to all those film studios and their "big movies" for responding to my request and providing me with the closure I needed so that here I am, finally, moving forward without permission.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

2012:Time For Change Film Premiere

A Special Advance Screening of 2012:Time For Change, a documentary featuring best selling author Daniel Pinchbeck is scheduled to launch in April! I was the Assistant Editor on the film and it promises to be a thought provoking piece that might really peak your interest.

For more about the film please visit

Your invited!

Buy Tickets:


Friday, April 9th , 7pm

Saturday, April 10th, 7pm

Sunday, April 11th, 7pm

And Come to the After Party Free with your Ticket Stub, Sunday after closing night!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Films in Review: An Analysis of Spiritual Warriors (2007)

I came upon this film haphazardly online and after watching the trailer was rightfully intrigued, especially considering the striking similarity and resemblances it bares to my own feature film, which I've been writing since 2005. Both incorporate such themes as past life remembrances and the warrior's spiritual journey, themes that seem to keep encroaching into media consciousness as we continue to evolve as people in our current turbulent time of transition. Be that as it may, I went into the viewing of Spiritual Warriors excited and eager to see what other fellow filmmakers had come up with in presenting and capturing that often elusive spiritual experience that has taken hold for so many at this time, including myself. However, to my great disappointment I found myself completely unable to connect with it, on almost every level.

The film, while full of compelling performances by actors Jsu Garcia, Shyla Marlin and Robert Easton, lacked a coherent cohesive assembly as a story, one that felt haphazardly strung together with no sense of purpose or connection. It was as if just when one story thread began to develop, we took off into a completely different subplot, then another, with so many tangents that there was no chance for development in any of them. While spiritual truths were touched upon, they were conveyed through characters talking at each other and preaching truth. The old man Roger (Robert Easton) becomes a cliched guru/mentor serving only to be a talking head on screen whose main purpose is simply to spout out wisdoms. They even literally had paragraphs of text of "spiritual teachings" written out on screen intermittently, rather than the concept being shown or explored through the emotional journey of the characters in a deeper way. Film is a medium in which to show, not tell. If I wanted to read about spiritual truths, I would've picked up a book.

In addition to having been poorly shot, the film was compounded with second rate visual effects that feel juvenile and amateur at best (this I could forgive if the story had been masterfully constructed), often overcompensating with special "light effects" to convey spiritual phenomenon in place of actually developing moments of awe, significantly felt within the characters. With the exception of maybe one particularly beautiful closeup of Finn in the heat of the desert, the overall framing and composition of the cinematography is so distanced and uninspired, that it separates you from the main action, making you feel as a voyeur rather than an immersed participant in the drama of the story. Alongside a complete lack of lighting design, scenes appear flat, with no shadow or contrast, which in turn gives this film a feeling of no real depth, intrigue or intimacy which would really be of the utmost importance in order to portray realms of an inner world. The main villain, called the "Prince of Darkness" (Stephen Sowan) is portrayed as a laughable lesser version of Anakin Skywalker, with the only nodd to his dark side being heavily applied dark eyeliner. Otherwise he appears in scenes brightly lit just the same as the others without any shadow or nuanced indication thereof. Not to mention this film was so poorly edited in its construction that they could not even clearly connect that the random African American (E.Milton Wheeler) dressed in a cliched Egyptian costume who pops out of a wall carving was supposed to be the reknowned Pharoah Akhenaten. Really? If I don't "get it" and I'm already familiar with the content having done years of research on the Amarna period, how is a general audience member going to make that connection? Just because the previous scene is desperately over-cut with overlaying shots of the Akhenaten bust doesn't automatically convey or lend significance to this random character in your next scene! It's as if these filmmakers had no idea or understanding of how to go about constructing a film? The overall effect is amateur, flat, and devoid of any real connection to emotion, story, or character (nevermind spiritual truth), the likes of which we'd come to expect from high school video shop (right down to the cheesy rip off red glowing light saber swords).

I am terribly disappointed but I'm glad that I was able to see this film, and see a film that at least tried to articulate truths that were worth the effort. So many films today are empty and spectacle driven without heart, so to their credit, I can sense that the filmmakers here were really after something deeper, without perhaps the tools to execute it. In that way I can give them the benefit of the doubt. However, the one exception that I take to this, is the "surprise twist" ending of the film, for which there is no excuse and is clearly done deliberately. It completely negates any efforts on their part that were invested in the seeking of spiritual truth in a ridiculous attempt to be "clever." It felt like a hat trick that only might've been taken seriously circa the 1980s. Audiences back then might've been "oowwed" but today's audiences having been exposed to the likes of Avatar and The Sixth Sense, really require a directorial savvy applied to their films which employ just a little bit more than commonplace cheap turnabouts "for effect." In short, it leaves you with that rather annoyed feeling of "I can't believe I just sat through this whole movie, for that?"

I'm really quite sorry for having to comment on all of this so unfavorably. I am not one in the habit of completely panning films outright because I appreciate the immense effort that filmmakers undergo to bring something to the screen, especially the independents. So I try to offer some praise of some aspect of the film that was well done. In this case, I'd like to point out that the poster design with the pyramids has a nice sepia colored gradation to it that lends sophistication. The trailer was very well cut to market the film. And the actors involved had a lot to offer, particularly Jsu Garcia as the main protagonist Finn really had a quality about him that lent itself nicely to the role, especially in his eyes. Also Cosimo Canale as Joe was particularly real in his portrayal of a hardened drug runner. And Shyla Marlin as Claire really gave an emotional performance; had she been utilized and shot correctly it would have made a great impact. Lastly, I am eternally grateful to Spiritual Warriors, for venturing out and making all the mistakes for me that I could've ever possibly made in crafting a spiritually focused feature film. Not an easy task as it might seem. And as a wise one once said, "Learn from other people's mistakes, because life is too short to make them all yourself."

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Films in Review: An Analysis of Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010)

An enjoyable film, but my initial sense is that since this is based on a series of children's novels, I imagine the books must be better? However I've not read them. But even judging by the movie alone I would say that this story does not quite span the depth and epic feel of say, the Harry Potter series. Where Harry Potter (at least as the books) quickly spans out from the children's arena into more mature territory, Percy Jackson tends to stay within a nice safe children appropriate zone, even adding a little touching sub-story on how children can often feel alienated from their parents (Gods that they are). But even these attempts at profundity barely skim the surface of any real emotional drama and remain out-scoped by the adventure action-packed spectacle of it all, which I must say is quite impressive with everything from charging minotaurs to spitting 6 headed Hydras blowing fire into water (what an effect!). Though I don't know what they were thinking by casting Uma Thurman as Medusa...I don't know what was harder to buy, this famous actress as an ancient monstrous Gorgon or those ridiculous CG snakes in her hair. However, it is often quite clever how they adapted the Greek Myth into Modern Day mythos and it does come with everything you would come to expect from a film of its kind, pulling out all the stops. Of course the coolest thing this film tried to do was insert the idea that the myths of old were as real and true today as they were back then. That Gods and Goddesses are real and their children are living among us. But the film makes no real attempt at credibility or realism to establish this, flying off into highly unrealistic scenarios from the get-go that are the things such spectacle based movies are made of. Feeling only surface value, flap-jack action packed scenes rush right over any potentially emotional profound moment or cool concepts of ancient historical interest. The characters become one-dimensional with no real depth, character, or personality, except for perhaps Grover (Brandon T. Jackson), Percy's personal sidekick who comes along with a cute personable quip here and again. For me, this deprives the action scenes of any real investment on our part when, as the audience, we haven't really established a care for these characters, so it's really of no consequence to us what happens to them. One thing I did appreciate tremendously though! How the story did include an aside concept that Percy Jackson's ADHD (attention deficit disorder) and dyslexia were not actually shortcomings of him as a human, but indications of his inherent prowess as a god; attributes of how his mind works in a divine and different way.

So for those of you that know your Greek mythology you will certainly get a kick out of how they inserted certain historical mythos into the modern adventure story, with the three main characters, Percy son of Poseidon (Logan Lerman), Annabeth daughter of Athena (Alexandra Daddario), and Grover facing up to the same dangers of ancient times adapted for a modern-day setting (I found the Los Vegas Lotus-Eaters particularly clever). But I suspect that for those of you who really know your Greek mythology, you might just get annoyed with the silly distorted modern take on such ancient epic lore, with a lot of the portrayals of the Greek Gods themselves (particularly Hades and Persephone) falling a bit short. A movie like this aims to please and entertain, and with that in mind (ignoring the use of such epic ancient characters to serve this end) one can find it rather entertaining indeed. But if you are looking for an insightful look into how Greek gods and goddesses really exist today in the midst of our modern day world (somewhat along the level of say, X-men) you will surely be disappointed. There is no real substance here, just a quippy modern day spin-off, re-interpretated to please the masses. However, in that, I do believe that this film has succeeded in being exactly what it set out to be, an action packed children's adventure-spectacle featuring Greek Gods and monsters.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Films in Review: An Analysis of Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Oh Quentin...what a quaint little film you have made! What fun! True to Tarantino's style, broken up into Chapters, we get the recounting of a ruthless yet highly entertaining bunch of military "Basterds" who are sent forth from the US, Apache style, to kill and scalp Nazis in 1940s France. What this film brilliantly accomplishes three times over is in setting up cinematic scenarios of insurmountable high octane suspense that could easily rival Hitchcock, the Master of Suspense himself. My God! Over and over we find ourselves in scenes rife with undertones of secrecy and mistrust glossed over by the unsettling facade of Nazi pleasantries, like a ticking time bomb, which have you riveted to the screen with anxious anticipation. Deadly performances from Melanie Laurent as Jewish Cinema owner Shosanna, as well as from Diane Kruger in her part as the glamorously elite but double crossing German movie star Bridget von Hammersmark. Both women played with daggers in their eyes, like a high stakes poker game where you never reveal your hand. This would have to be so in a cast with Christoph Waltz opposing in the role of lead villain Nazi Col. Hans,
always cool yet dangerously unpredictable, who's mere appearance on screen would suffice to put you on edge.

Highly cinematic in his directorial style, Tarantino delivers the first chapter as a portrayal of the despicable yet commonplace acts for Nazi soldiers in France at that time. This seems to justify and give the audience full permission and carte blanche to sit back, relax and enjoy for the remainder of the film the retaliation of the Basterds, though often equally grotesque in their acts of scalping and maiming the Nazis. But hold no restraint! There can be no mistaking the carefully constructed fun-spirited tone which comes shining through the non-chalance and wickedly entertaining performance from the lead commander of the Basterds, Lt. Aldo (Brad Pitt) meant to give you full on Nazi killin satisfaction! With Pitt at the helm, this film has wit, charm and suspense all weaved into one, quite deliberately striking that particular note of tragic comedy that only Tarantino could pull off. The film ranges from the thoroughly enjoyable rantings of Aldo, with so many great one-liner quips I couldn't keep track, to the genuinely heart shattering dilemma of farmer Perrier LaPadite, played by Denis Menochet
with such a deep well of tragic emotion that I regret to have not seen more of this actor before. I find myself not wanting to comment too thoroughly on the specifics here of certain scenes as well because they really do speak for themselves and are carefully constructed in the reveal of information, much credit due to the editing. A must-see for any fun-loving movie-goer. And easily becoming one of my favorites from this director. But Quentin? Could we ease up on the graphics a bit? Some grotesque violence is graphically displayed, but in fairness I can see how it seems to have been pulled back in parts, and really is only shown in it's full glory at opportune moments, to create a kind of clincher effect. Hey, if he's gotta do it, he's gotta do it. One thing is certainly clear from the get-go, this is a very mindfully crafted piece of cinema from a director who knows what he wants.