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.

My Favorite Tree

There’s this one gigantic evergreen tree that stands alone in an open field near my house. It is big and tall enough to be the world’s Christmas tree, I always said to my Mom. I truly envied it. It had all the room it could have wanted to grow. All the space it could have ever asked for to flourish and every bit of sky above it to be rained upon and to gain the light of the sun. This tree had pride.

One day while driving by I saw a crowd gathered in the open field. In the center of them all stood a lowly tree stump protruding with gusto from the ground where the tall evergreen used to stand.

I parked on the side of the road and walked over to the crowd, pushing my way to the front. “Where did my tree go?” I offered up to no one in particular.

An older gentleman with heavy brown boots and weathered corduroy suspenders chirped up, “Someone came in the night and took it.” The crowd murmured tiny notes of agreement.

I dropped to one knee, my pants soaking in the morning dew from the ground. My eyes fixed on the stump. It was like someone grabbed the linchpin out from the machine that ran me. The tree was a part of home. When you get off the highway you pass the poorly painted building, you see that crazy lady yelling at her eight dogs, and you gaze upon the magnificent lonely tree. But not anymore. Someone had taken that from me.

The top of the stump was not a clean cut like it had been sawed off. The bark that remained was angled and sharp like it had been pulled into two by the hand of God.

“That’s not what happened.” A little voice no one could hear but me said out loud. As I turned my head I saw a little black haired girl in a white sun dress with pink flowers all over it holding her father’s hand. Her words had been falling on tall ears. Her other hand was holding on tight to an old book that was practically falling apart.

The little girls gaze met mine momentarily before she looked back at her tree. “What do you think happened?” I kept as quiet as I could to try and keep this a private conversation between the obvious child and the little girl.

“I don’t think anything” the girl scowled at the thought that she was only hypothesizing, “I know where my tree went.”

“Okay. I’ll bite little lady. Where did it go?”

“It left.”

“Left?”

“Yup. It had grown all it could here.” She looked over at me for a moment to see if I got it yet. I didn’t, so she continued to explain. “I used to come to this tree every morning and read it this book about the rain forest. Every time I talked about the number of trees in the rain forest the wind blew and the branches swayed. It was my tree but I knew it wouldn’t be forever. One day it would have to move on. Today is that day.”

My eyes blinked uncontrollably. “Why did it have to go?”

“Because it was looking for friends.” She said as a matter of fact.

“But you read to it every morning. Weren’t you its friend?”

“Yup. But I’m a person. It wanted to go somewhere where the other trees were.”

“Like the rain forest?”

“Yup. Like the rain forest. I guarantee you” Her eyes locked in on mine, stolid and true, “You go to the big rain forest and one tree there will look nothing like the others.” She looked back towards the stump. “He had to go find where he belonged.”

“But doesn’t that make you sad? You lost your tree. The place you used to go every morning to read your book.”

The little girl shook her head. “Nope. I feel just fine. He was never my tree. I was just borrowing him from the ground and this ground was just borrowing him from anywhere else on earth it could ever be.”

“But, aren’t you going to miss it?” The crowd started to disperse and the little girl got pulled by her father in the other direction. When I looked up for an answer she was skipping away. As I gathered myself I realized that on the ground next to me now was the little girl’s tattered book. In a tizzy I picked it up and stood to walk towards the father and the little girl.

“Hey!” I yelled, “You forgot your book!” The father didn’t notice my yelling at all as the little girl turned back, but only slightly.

“That’s okay! I was only borrowing it!” she yelled and smiled before turning back around and continued skipping. I turned back to look at the stump, then down once more at my new book, and held it tight to my chest.

Now when I go home I pass that poorly painted building –

I see that crazy lady yelling at her eight dogs –

And I sit down to read about the rain forest and think about that one tree that doesn’t look the same but is right at home. And so am I.

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.

Follow Your Dreams

So many people say that. It’s almost always the answer to the question, “How do I succeed?” along with “Work hard every day” and “Never give up.” Etc etc

I absolutely hate vague direction. Follow Your Dreams, as a mindset, is vague. Following your dreams has a very simple check list – and if you are planning on having your dreams come true (cause who in the hell doesn’t want that) then you should follow it. So…here it is:

  1. Do you actually want it? Cause you seem to be bitching out here and there. You have some other things to do. Work/School is really busy right now. Sleeping is really great. Listen, I get it. Your dreams aren’t all that important – OH WAIT YES THEY ARE, THEY ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING ABOUT YOU. How about you make time for them? You will always and forever be your first obstacle.
  2. Use that time wisely. You can be good at something without practice, but you’re never going to be great without it. You are looking for perfection and if your reply to the thought of perfection is, “Being 100% perfect isn’t possible” then you are never going to see your dreams come true. Your answer, every time should be, “I WILL be perfect, and if I’m not perfect yet, I will work every day and every night towards perfection.”
  3. Step 3 is the most important step of them all. You have made time for your dreams. You have practiced and practiced and honed your craft – you’re not as great as you can be because there is always room to get better, though you’re pretty god damn impressive. But there are obstacles other than you. Naysayers. Doubters. Haters. Misanthropes. Objects that claim to be immovable and people that claim to be Impenetrable. When it comes to situations like those I subscribe to one phrase and one phrase only: Screw em. Step 3 is Screw em. Over and over. Everything time those objects or people are all up in your grill. Screw. Em.
  4. Step 4 is almost as important as Step 3. Enjoying the fruits of your labor. That fruit tastes delicious. The amount of time you choose to enjoy yourself is up to you – I usually choose the shortest amount of time. For me the greatest amount of fun and pride comes from the buildup to enjoyment – when I reach the peak I get a good look, breath in the fresh air, and then start to head back down to do it all over again. The best part about fulfilling your dreams is that it can happen over and over again – as many times as you let it.

You and I both need to come to the conclusion that life is too short to suck at anything we do. Being mediocre is a decision. We CAN choose otherwise.