Ian and the Bishop – A Short Film

If you don’t want to read my long winded diatribe about making movies and dreams coming true then here is this movie. I sincerely hope you enjoy it.

 

Oh – You would like to read about my love for filmmaking and how important friends are? Okay. Well then, here you go.

Ian and the Bishop started as a novel. It was about a character that was depressed and started drinking again only to be forced into saving himself by a new acquaintance and his drunken alter ego. It was based off of a very real character in my life that got thrown into a romantic dramedy setting because that’s what I know how to write. I got 4 chapters in before I realized I was writing a screenplay, not a novel.

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to make movies. I saw the film “Tall Tale” when I was a kid and it clicked in my head that this wasn’t just a fun story unfolding in front of me. This was a creative endeavor that real human beings put an incredible amount of hard work into and then came out on the other end with a finished product. I wanted that. I wanted to tell a story. But one person can’t make a movie, or at least, not the movie I wanted to make.

So I called my friend Dylan. He’s everything I’m not. He’s a wildly talented creative mind with a knack for the aesthetic piece of life. I needed him to say yes before anything else could actually happen. I was driving through New Haven, Connecticut on my way to Long Island for work way too early in the morning late in 2012 and called him with an epiphany.

“I want to make a movie.” I said.

“Umm. Okay. What kind of movie?”  He replied.

“I don’t know yet. But I want to make one.”

“Oh….Alright then. Sure.” And Dylan was in. Way easier than I expected.

That week I took my fledgling novel and turned it into the first draft of the screenplay. When it was done I sent it to Abigail. She was the second piece of this puzzle that was absolutely essential to making a movie. She’s my box. And by that I mean, I come up with over the top crap and she brings me back down into a place that can actually happen. Everyone needs that kind of person in their life, and she’s mine. I sent her an email with the screenplay attached that started with, “Hey. Remember when you told me months ago that this novel would be better as a movie? Well…you we’re right.” She was both excited that I told her she was right and taken aback by how much work I had done in such a short amount of time. So, Abigail was in. We’re moving right along.

Then, very quickly, it all became super real. We were scheduling the audition date to fill out the cast. I was filling out paperwork/asking my favorite local restaurant locations very politely to secure locations. I was writing a shot list (basically, making the movie in your head before a camera even turns on) which I had never done before. We were editing the script. A lot. The final version of the script is very different from how it began. Dylan, Abigail, myself, and two script editors (Allie Rivera and Robert Pinney) helped me out a great deal in that department. The entire ending is different from how I first wrote it because all of them knew it had to be.

I asked my roommate Elliot Smith if he could be the Prop Manager because he knew how to get things. I asked my other roommate Ryan Gentner and friend Adam Carner to be additional cameras on the project – which by the way, some of my favorite shots came from both of them plus Dylan taking my ideas and making them better, which is exactly what a talented crew is for. I asked my friend Mike Storiale, the most well organized and level headed human being I know, to run the production from a logistics stand point. He made a calendar, which should not be overlooked. The hardest part about making a movie, hands down, is the schedule. Getting everyone in the same place at the same time. It is a true nightmare and Mike and I threw it at the wall and then hoped it stuck. Thankfully it did. I then asked my friend Marc Gibson to be a production assistant – the jack of all trades on a movie set – and he also obliged. He also ended up playing my older brother Tom in the film and in my opinion steals every shot he is in.

A few weeks before the casting call I realized movies require a hair and makeup artist. It is in this area where I was lacking in the friend department. When I came to this realization I scoured Facebook for people posting pictures of hair or makeup jobs they had done. I came across a friend I hadn’t talked too at length for a while – but her work was stunningly brilliant and I knew she would be perfect. I called Dylan and asked him if he thought Stephanie Gagne would help. He replied with something like, “I don’t know, probably, maybe just ask her?”

That’s something else I learned while making this film. Sometimes, if you just ask someone to do something, they will do it. It’s crazy. So I asked her, and she said yes. And through the movie I started talking to her and her fiancé/current husband JR who became a production assistant on IatB and would later become a Producer on the new film we made this year. But more importantly, he is the most passionate and enthusiastic person I’ve ever met. Through just asking I added two crazily talented individuals who made the movie that much better as well as two amazing friends. I asked her to be a part of the movie in early 2013. Last weekend Elliot, Marc and I were in their wedding party. The crew/my best friends screamed Africa by Toto on the dance floor at Steph and JRs wedding at the top of our lungs. Twice. I fucking love making movies.

The crew was set. But I still needed to cast 6 characters. 4 women and 2 men. Tavis and Marc filled the two male roles, bringing more talent to them that I could have ever imagined, but we still needed the women. Abigail ran casting like a well-oiled machine, and all I had to do was show up with a script and watch strangers say words that were once only in my head. They each read for two parts – the girl breaking up with Ian in the first scene and the female lead whose name was Emma. I was nervous to say the very least. Without an Emma, we had nothing. Just some pieces of paper that resembled a story.

As the auditions were happening we were finding very good actresses. They were beautiful and talented but they weren’t Emma. I knew Emma. She had been in my head for a year at that point. I knew her favorite book was The Fault in Our Stars and that her dream was to be a dancer. I knew she loved her father but missed her mother every day. I knew she wanted to go on adventures but she believed an adventure alone wasn’t an adventure at all. She wanted someone to make her better than she already was. And that person was Ian.

Casey McDougal was my Emma. She nailed it. From the moment she walked into the audition room until the moment we wrapped, she embodied that character. She made decisions that I didn’t write that made Emma real. When she left the audition I resisted the urge to chase after her and beg her on my knees to take the role. Thankfully she took it anyway, minus the begging. When I watch this film now all I can think is, “That is my Emma. And within every wonderful flaw, every matter of fact smile, and every time she hits Ian out of pure frustration, she was absolute perfection.” I thank the stars every day Casey came into our lives and I think Ian does too.

With that I need to take a moment to thank JD, Grace, Sehee, Samantha, Marc, and Tavis. I am incredibly thankful you all took the time and helped me create something so important to me. The movie is better because all of you were in it.

One more technical note before I go. Movies are made up of pictures and sounds. Sounds are half of the experience. We used most of the money from the Kickstarter campaign to buy microphone equipment that has served us well. Problem was, we never made time to really learn how to use it prior to shooting, so the entire shoot was a long uphill lesson in sound design. Some of the movie was only recorded in mono; some of the movie had the mic pointed the wrong way, etc etc. Sometimes it’s just bad. And I had to come to terms with that. A large reason this film took a year and a half to release is because I hated how it sounded. But with some elbow grease and a few hours of Dylan’s magical editing a year later we made it the best it could be. When you all watch our next film (Zer0s, coming to YouTube October 3rd) you will notice the sound is better. That is because my friends (specifically JohnRob, Marc, and Elliot) took it upon themselves to be better the second time around and they succeeded.

Making this film was an incredible learning experience and by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I never went to film school. I just wanted to make a movie. It was my dream. The thing I thought about late at night while staring at ceilings. And then I somehow tricked my friends into helping me do so. AND THEN I asked for donations to get us off the ground which exceeded my expectations and we were funded within the first two days. It was and still is pure insanity.

This film is not perfect. Not even close. But it’s done. And my friends/crew, family, and Kickstarter backers should be incredibly proud of themselves. You guys helped create something from nothing and to me that’s beautiful. Thank you so very much.

Once Upon That One Time – Chapter 3

Click Here for Part 1 and Here for Part 2

We didn’t eat or drink anything while we were at the castle and the world was a barren wasteland. So we all cooked Kate’s stabbed body outside the castle and made coats from her skin, which totally helped us out. Everyone was psyched minus GBaby and his Emu but they were skin hungry and asked to eat all the skin themselves and we were like, no we need coats, so we didn’t care that they were sad. Marc called dibs on the torso. Everyone obliged.

Ralph, my flying polar bear that spits acid out of its butt and mouth and sometimes ears and nose took off along with Seph and Abigail, leaving everyone else on the ground. For the record, at some point in this story everyone starts flying as all the animals have the ability to fly but they must become in tune with their master in order to do so. Ralph and I were tight, so he could fly already. Seph and Abby were like two peas in a pod who could tear apart antelopes, so they were good too. Marc and his Rhino “Carl” were close but they were always fighting about who has the better beard/horn so they just weren’t there yet.

So we all were heading towards The Disciples layer to see what’s what cause we figure we need to see this evil guy for ourselves if we are gonna choose a side although the thought of choosing a side other than our own left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Abby and I spotted a pack of other people at a camp from afar in the middle of the barren wasteland with tents set up and fires going somehow.

We both went down to hovering above the ground and then told everyone to speed up. Adam could not keep up so we left him and his regular iguana there. When we got to the camp site it was empty and the fire that was just lit was now doused. As we entered the center of the encampment, several human beings came out from behind the tents and surrounded us. From the crowd of maybe 20 human beings, all riding some sort of medium sized mammal, 3 mid-20’s gentleman came forward who were the leaders of the group we would come to know as The Range Riders. Their names were Collin, who was riding a Silverback Gorilla with laser eyes, Mitch who was chillin’ in the pouch of a giant kangaroo, and The Steve was riding a brilliant red bull named China Shop. I walked up to Collin cause it turns out we knew these guys, especially Collin because he’s my younger brother and his longtime friends Mitch and The Steve were now leading The Range Riders who live off the land and have no faction, like us. Also they set fire to most things.

Collin said, “Hey, what are you guys doing?”

I replied “We’re heading towards The Disciples layer to see what’s what.”

Elliot said, “We heard The Chancellor is a real dick.”

“Yeah,” said Mike “We want to see it for ourselves.”

“I’m on an Emu!” exclaimed GBaby. Everyone ignored him except Pat who gave him his patented stern nod of acceptance.

“Well,” said The Steve “I wouldn’t do that if I were you guys. It’s a total poop shoot.”

“Why not, also hi. I’m JR. It’s very nice to meet all of you. I really like your Gorilla, he looks top notch.” said JR, the ninja scientist. His giant Elephant Flounder high-fived him with his trunk.

“That shit sucks over there” said Mitch “Ole Chancy Chancellor is a real dick. His cult and him do weird shit all the time like move the continents back together. It’s a real drag. ZING.”

“That all sounds stupid.” Said Marc while poking his Rhino in the face to make sure Carl the Rhino knew what was what. Carl did not approve.

“Stop poking Carl, Marc. He’s going to retaliate.” Abby said making a solid point.

“He knows the rules,” Marc said “I’m the king of this here domain.”

“Alright then, just wait for him to impale you I guess.” Abby said while teaching her eagle about the importance of hydrogen bonds.

“My roots are growing out!” Steph yelled out of nowhere, “which makes me look like I’m not even trying.” Steph said even louder while looking at her hair through a mirror that she made out of crushed limestone while riding full speed on her translucent jaguar on the way to this moment like a true boss.

“Does that really matter right now, ladyface? We’re over here trying to save what’s left of this weird world.” Asked Michael.

Steph replied, “Uhhh yeah it does Mike, I’m over here lookin’ fierce, and it’s the main reason we’re constantly doing so well, so, like, whatever shut up.”

“Yeah,” Collin said “Just maybe never go over there bros. Nothing good can come from going over there and messing with that crazy dude.”

“This guy seems like a real ass hole” I said. “Someone should sick a large animal on him to eat him while he is still living.” Everyone concurred. “What do you guys say? You wanna go fuck some shit up for the sake of fucking some shit up?” Everyone cheered except for Adam because him and his iguana had just gotten there in time for us to start walking again.

“This is bull shit guys” Adam said while wearing shorts all the time.

“Hey Adam,” Elliot piped up for the first time in a while cause I forgot he was here for a second, “When you gonna finally teach that iguana to be at all useful?”

“When you don’t cry at the end of Toy Story 3, dick.” Adam said with malice, punching at the sky in heat.

“Shut up ya good gosh darn fuckface!” Elliot boisterously threw his words like anchors into the sea, “It’s a sad story about love and loss. WHATEVER DON’T EVEN. SHUT IT WITH THE YA KNOW. I CAN’T EVEN RIGHT NOW.”

“BUT CAN YOU EVEN?” Steph cheered.

“NO. I CAN’T EVEN. THAT’S THE POINT OF TALKING IN CAPS LOCK.” Elliot took a breath and calmed down. Koo and Stew, his penguins who were underneath/attached to his feet looked up at Elliot like he was a crazy person which is an unsubstantiated fact maybe.

“You guys should go before the sky turns off the light.” Collin said.

“That was a weird thing to say,” I replied “But you’re right. Let’s head out.”

“I’m still on this Emu!” GBaby once again said out loud for some reason. No one cared still and we all moved on. But GBaby didn’t care cause he lives his life like nobody is watching except for his Emu who is always there so it’s a pretty straight forward system for living that he is comfortable within and he doesn’t have to explain that to anyone, so he doesn’t. Then the Emu made a face like he was saying “whaaaaaaaat.” We all laughed and we went on our way.

That Time My Blind Date Stood Me Up Because She Was Going to Jail

I must preface all of this with a statement: This story is true. I changed one name because this is a real story and I don’t want to offend anyone, but it’s a story that I’ve been telling to friends for years and that I finally figured I’d write down. So here it goes.

My mother is wonderful. She is loving and caring and always wants what’s best for my brother and I. But, I am 26 now and you can kind of tell she’s getting antsy for me to be in a relationship that eventually leads to grandchildren. This manifests itself quite often in sentences that start like, “There’s this great girl I know that you should so on and so forth plus other words.” When she says that now I always refuse the offer for two reasons. The first is, when I meet the girl of my dreams I don’t want our story to start off with, “Well, my mom!” The second reason is this story I’m about to tell you.

In 2011 my life was a weird roller coaster full of long hours at work (which I was traveling every week to Long Island for, staying for 5 days, then coming home for the weekends) and treating myself badly. That’s all I did for a solid year. Within that year my mother started to offer up female candidates for me to meet and after a while of vehemently refusing, I said yes. Mostly to make her stop asking, but secondarily because, “Hey, it might work!?”

Her name was Greta. She lived down in New Haven, 30 minutes away from where I reside, and worked with my mom. All my mom knew about her was that she was a nice mid-twenties human being who always got a ride to work, played roller derby, and was not a lesbian. Oh, how did my mom know that last part you ask? Well, that got handled pretty quickly with this pointed sentence from my mother, “So, you gay?” To which Greta replied, “No.”

So as modern technologically based love stories go, I added her on Facebook. I was spending my weeks in a hotel so I had a lot of free time on my hands which I  used that one week to talk to Greta constantly. We told each other about our lives, I told her I liked drumming and writing, she told me she liked hitting people while on roller skates – so it was going well.

The next week I decided to take a leap. I hadn’t gone on a proper date in a very long time so I just came out and asked her. And she said yes! I was flabbergasted. We were going to go to a coffee house that’s near her house (she didn’t’ have a car so driving somewhere wasn’t an option) and meet around 12pm on Saturday for some dark coffee and light conversation.

The entire drive down I had all the windows open and the music blasting to try and keep me from sweating bullets while my mind raced about what I had chosen to wear and what I’m going to say and more importantly, where I’m going to park my car in New Haven so that someone doesn’t steal all of my belongings. I finally parked around the corner (still 20 minutes early) and wandered my way to the coffee shop. This place was awesome – filled with Yale professors grading papers and Yalie students being students who go to Yale. I was a bit out of place with my forest green plaid long sleeve and dark jeans, but Greta and I had talked recently about how she loved dark flannel shirts, so I went for it. I go up to the counter, look at the menu that is one million options long, and say “the double espresso please” because I’m an idiot.

After I got the tiny shot glass of a drink I sat down and started looking at Facebook, the way you do when you’re trying to pass time. While not paying attention my body decided to drink the espresso like it was a normal coffee, so within 5 minutes it was all gone. Still 10 minutes to go until she arrived and my leg was now in a full blown tremor. I saw a newspaper on the ground near me and picked it up because every moron spouting their opinions and personal records on Facebook were making me angry so I opened up the newspaper to read. It was a bit of a futile endeavor though due to the fact that my hands were shaking so badly I couldn’t read any of the words. So I put the newspaper down and found a clock above the counter. Still had 5 minutes. So I sat in silence for what I thought was going to be 5 minutes.

5 minutes passes. I’m watching the door like a hawk and checking my phone for the time every few seconds. She’s not there. 10 minutes passes, nothing. 20 minutes, nothing. I called her phone number, it was turned off. I Facebook messaged her, got no response. Half hour late, nothing. Called her again, still turned off. At this point I had a little bit of hope left but my buzz was leaving me so I got another drink – it was a regular coffee this time.

40 minutes late, nothing. The coffee I ordered came with a napkin and back in those days I had a pen in my pocket at all times for some reason so I took it out and started drawing. Pointillism is the kind of painting that is just little dots up close but when you zoom out it makes an actual picture. I decided to try it out with a painting of palm tree on a tiny island in the middle of a lonely ocean. Not a metaphor at all.

When I looked up from the finished drawing, she was an hour late and my coffee was all gone. So, with my symbolic tail tucked between my legs I got back in my car and drove home. That weekend I told my friends about the date that wasn’t which they said they were sorry about and I started to move on with my life – a life where people ditch me for utterly no reason….that is, until we got to Monday.

My Mother had called to ask how the date went on Saturday and I had told her she didn’t show up which was odd, because I thought we were getting along well. My Mom, the protective lion mother she is, was not at all happy with her son being ditched and marched into school on Monday preparing to demand an answer. But low and behold, Greta was not there. In fact, no one knew where Greta was until the end of the day where a notice came from the State of Connecticut expressing to her place of employment that Greta would not be showing up for a very long time.

Turns out Greta had committed her 3rd DUI in 3 years about 6 months prior to the date day. In this final DUI she caused a 4 car pileup on a bridge that injured 4 people including an infant. Greta was taken to the hospital and after being cleared was told to wait in her bed for the police to arrive to ask her questions. So she did what any fine upstanding citizen would do – she waited for the doctor to leave and then fled the scene. The next day the police found her at home hiding in her closet and brought her to jail. She posted her bail, and had a court date set. That court date was the morning of our date day, where she was told she would be going to a Connecticut based correctional facility for 3 years for her crimes. After she got this news she apparently wasn’t up for coffee.

The reason she didn’t have a car and didn’t drive to work herself was that she couldn’t have a car. Legally. The Government didn’t let her. I didn’t know if I felt better or worse about the situation. On one hand I understood the predicament she was in. What was she supposed to say to me over coffee, “Oh my future? Well, probably a lot of working out and not talking to strangers! Hope I look good in Orange!” Probably not the most uplifting of scenarios for her. On the other hand if I had just gotten convicted and sentenced to jail (which she had to report to 3 days later) I would have needed a drink badly – and what better person to pull out of a coffee bar and into a real bar than a complete stranger. Then you very obviously run away with them. This movie writes itself.

Needless to say I haven’t seen Greta since…in fact I never met her in the first place. But out of all the date stories I have, this one is probably the most interesting to tell and easy one to speculate on. And because I fancy myself a bit of a novice screenwriter I just HAD to try it out as a script. So, CLICK HERE – this is the first 10 minutes of a movie based on what I thought should have happened between myself and Greta, but with new characters names and a fictional back story. Hope you enjoy it.

 

My Spec Scripts!

Spec Scripts?! What does that mean?! Well, let me tell you friend.

Spec scripts are things that you write to show that you have the ability to…write. Over the years I’ve written lots of stuff but only a small amount of it I am proud enough to let the world see with their vision holes. I created a new part of my website literally called Specs (Click here to see it) that now has 3 examples of original scripts I have written. If you like what I’ve written here on this blog thing, I’m certain you’ll at least sort of like those spec scripts.

Oh, also, if you by any chance want to hire me to write things and/or just throw money at my face because of one of those scripts you read, I highly recommend doing so and contact me HERE.