Category Archives: Film

Rude Sandwich

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In the waning hours of the holiday season, we decided to squeeze in one last activity by heading out in the pouring rain for a matinee showing of The Accountant.  Perfect rainy day activity but ultimately a bit more interactive than I anticipated.

I drop my wife off in front so she could avoid the rain and get tickets. I then wade off to find a spot in the crowded parking lot to dock my vehicle.  50 yards from the theater, I wedge in between two other U-boats; but before I step into the monsoon I get a txt from my wife advising to skip the line and just find us a seat in the theater.  She notices there are no ticket takers, and with 5 minutes to the show if one of us doesn’t grab seats we may be watching the movie with our necks at a 90 degree angle to our bodies.

She’s not kidding.  The lobby is wall to wall-to-wall wet wool and bad breath.  I serpentine through the lobby masses and head for the entrance to our theater.

Somehow on my way in, I get sandwiched between three larger than life characters (husband/wife/child).  The woman in front of me is unaware I have slipped in front of her husband and is narrating her thoughts on seat selection at full volume.  Clearly thinking hubby is right on her heals and having selected her preferred row she barks, “How ’bout this one?”   At the same time she wheels around and finds herself face to face, with me.  Apparently she thinks I am a big white ghost because she lets out a, shriek, then immediately breaks into this humongous HAW HAW HAW when she realizes she has been blabbering absentmindedly to a total stranger.  She and I do this little dance in the aisle, and I step into the row immediately in front of her selected row.  BIG MISTAKE.

Anyway, the woman, her husband, young daughter (I’m guessing about aged 8 – in an R rated movie??), tub of popcorn, large drinks and assorted luggage sit behind me and continue their conversation through the previews.   I put my wet umbrella in the cup holder of the seat next to me and a minute later my wife lands.

A man and woman in front of me are also working through a large vat of popcorn but not 5 minutes into the previews, the man gets up and heads for the snack bar.  He returns as the opening scene appears on the screen and I miss the set up for the movie.  He then proceeds to sit (thankfully), pauses briefly before tearing into a grocery store size bag of something.

Could have been candy.  Could of been Calamari. But whatever it was, it was two hours of crinkly loud.  Like nails on a chalkboard, how someone could occupy themselves with a bag of such volume is unimaginable.

Now this is no spoiler, but The Accountant is about a high functioning man with Autism who is also a trained killer.  As you might surmise, the movie builds around the eccentricities of this unlikely combination of behaviors.   Pretty much every time the Accountant mumbles some inappropriate comment or puts a bullet in some nasty guy’s head, the trifecta behind me bursts forth with hearty HAW HAW HAWS,  MYUCK MYUCK, MYUCKS, and HONK HONK HONKS.  Even the eight year old.  Between the inappropriate comments, head bullets, and GUFFAWS there is the occasional “jump out of the closet/big white ghost” scene met withheld now familiar womanly shriek followed immediatley by a stereophonic MYUCK MYUCK, MYUCK, and HONK HONK HONK.  Oh, and of course there is the ringing cell phone during the final head/bullet scene.  She answers it of course.

Between the the incessant CRINKLE, CRINKLE, CRINKLE and HAW HAW HAW,  MYUCK MYUCK, MYUCK, HONK HONK HONK, I feel a bit like week-old turkey in a rude sandwich.   To say the rain must have driven all the rats out of the sewers would be a huge overstatement, but I have to chuckle at the world in which we live today.

A few additional thoughts:

  1.  The Accountant is worth seeing in the theater or in home.
  2. Next time I choose the long ticket line over seat selection.
  3. “All you had to do was pick a freaking decent seat and you picked the two between the Three Stooges and Willy f’ing Wonka.” (reprimand from my wife)
  4. When I get a little uptight.  I write.
  5. If I put the words, “Donald Trump” in my blog post will I get more views?
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So You Wanna Make Movies? The 12 Step Program.

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Dear Student Filmmakers,

First off, allow me to say as a general note that I adore your ambition. As someone pursuing a similarly tough road, I know the struggle! It’s tough to be a fish swimming upstream. So many of you have incredible talent and promise, so much ambition and passion.RG_London_1985

Which is why I feel compelled to ask you WHY you MUST insist upon doing every single thing I am about to mention!! I read your posts advertising roles in your films for actors, I submit for your projects! I am NOT making these things up and I am completely baffled by every single one of them. STOP IT ALREADY! For the love of all things bright and beautiful, desist immediately. Listen up, pay attention, here we go.

  1. Calm down with the nudity. I don’t care how “tasteful” you think you’ve written it, I (and every other actor I know) skips right on along every time I see the words “student film” and “nude” in the same sentence. It blows my mind every single time I see a post like this (and I see them A LOT.) I always sit and wonder who the hell is sitting in their dorm room, gleefully writing a nude scene and imagining that actresses everywhere will immediately line up to strip down for them. You are not paying your actors, you are not Martin Scorsese. You don’t even have an EXCUSE, so move along please.
  2. Same goes with the estranged father and/or rape themes. This is no longer an original or moving concept. If I see ONE more student film with the description “emotionally distraught girl of 20 deals with her rocky relationship and turmoil following her rape, while also reconciling with her estranged father” I will scream. Not trying to be insensitive here, but you throwing your characters into terrible situations does not make you an artist. Sorry dude.
  3. Spell check your screenplays. And emails. And anything else in which you need to spell. One slip up is one thing, but if you’re confusing your/you’re, there/they’re/their, AND misspelling every other word, I have no choice but to question your intelligence.
  4. No more sci-fi student films, people! You have no budget. You have no set. You have no CGI. What about that equation adds up to a convincing sci-fi film?! I refuse to be documented in a movie where you’ve built a robot out of cardboard boxes. Next.
  5. Same goes for ghosts.
  6. And car chases with fiery explosions.
  7. No, we cannot come to an audition at 11:16PM tonight and film the project tomorrow. We are not merely sitting around twiddling our thumbs, desperately waiting for the next student film to come around! Think, people. Think.
  8. Do not take a scene or movie that is already famous, change the title and names of characters and expect me to submit for it. I don’t even need to go further with that one.
  9. Just because you’re doing it in black and white doesn’t mean it’s good.
  10. Just because you’re shooting on a fancy camera doesn’t mean it’s good.
  11. Stop describing your characters as “beautiful.” Liiiiike, I don’t know you, I don’t know what you find beautiful! You are also then putting me in the incredibly bizarre situation in which I have to sit there and size up my own beauty. Nope, try again.
  12. Get your shit together. Don’t schedule my audition and then change the time and place 12 times. Don’t show up to “set” without a plan. Don’t blame your laziness on the fact that “films take time”…If I’m ready, you should be too. And I say that with all the sass in the world.

If you follow these basic guidelines, every single actor submitting for you will give you a round of applause, a hug, and a cookie. Please. Make like Nike and just do it.

Super Hero or Villain? Please, Please, Please.

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Seems like every summer we catch a wave of jacked up comic books at our local theaters where, for about $60, two people can explode, chase, battle, scheme, swing, launch, fly, blast, swim their way through nearly 120 minutes of saturated popcorn and a bladder expanding soda.  Heck, for $2.50 I practically get that riding the subway to work each day, plus, for no extra charge, it comes in odorama, which, thankfully is hard to duplicate on the big screen.

But what of these “super” heroes and villains?  It’s got me to thinking…

A man who is a spider.  Does he take all his meals through a straw?

A man who is a bat? Lazy bum sleeps all day.

A girl who is a bat?  Seriously, how does one tell the difference?  Boobs?

A man who is made of Iron.  Now that’s just absurd.  He’d be house bound like those with morbid eating disorders.

A man who is an ant.  Wouldn’t think twice about stepping on him.

Captains Marvel, Universe,  America, Planet, etc., etc., etc.  Why just Captains?  Why never promoted?

And what about the Doctor’s?

Dr. Strange.   “Yes, I’d like to make appointment with my gynecologist…Dr. Strange.”

“I’m sorry, Dr. Octopus is unavailable.  He’s in surgeries right now…”

“Yes, I need to get my Prozac refilled, could you please ask Dr. Doom to call that in for me?”

Dr. Manhattan. What, is his specialty, Mixology or something?

A man made of plastic.  Perhaps he could be sent to do something about the Pacific Ocean’s Trash Vortex?

The Flash.  Why am I seeing all of those black spots?

Robin. Poor fella.

A man who is Super.  Popular on Pride Day no doubt.

Man of steel (see man made of Iron above).

Two-Face.  Yep, knew him in high school.

A woman who is a Wonder.  Now that is one I completely get.

Hey, as far as I am concerned, the only Caped Crusader I care about is:

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Please, Please, Please, Please, Please, Please, Please, Please, Please, Please, Please, Please… Rinse, lather repeat.

It’s a bird.  It’s a plane.  Good God. it’s Soul Brother #1, the Godfather of soul, Mr. Dynamite, Mr. Please, Please, Please. Jaaaaaaaaaaaaames Brown. Jaaaaaaaaaaaaaaames Brown.  Jaaaaaaaaaaaaaames Brown.  Superhero of Soul, Funk, Rock and Roll.

Bereft as Background

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A couple weeks ago, I got a message from a casting director. It said they’d like me to come work as a background extra on a high profile upcoming TV show that’s currently filming their first season. Now, to preface this, you need to know that I am a recently graduated actress with a fancy degree and training coming out of my ears. Right now, I’m a post-grad with no job, so a little money and the opportunity to work on a real film set made me practically pee my pants with joy. Here’s a little rundown of how my day went.

5:15 AM: Wake up. Do my makeup and hair (trying to impress anyone important I might see. Naturally. Imagining people saying “Who’s that adorable extra?! We need to hire her as a series regular IMMEDIATELY simply based on her wicked good looks!!”)

6:00 AM: Leave my house. Drive a nice long drive in rush hour traffic to get to set early (I am perpetually the goody two shoes. Again, why not impress people?)

6:45 AM: Arrive at the sound stage. Feel important because a very nice worker in a large, fancy van picks me up at my car and drives me to base camp. Maybe getting up early wasn’t so bad.

6:50 AM: Get to check in. Immediately lose my newfound sense of importance. Feeling lost and confused, feeling like everyone’s staring at me because I’m clearly incompetent and have obviously NEVER done this before. Feeling like I’m making everyone (including myself) feel uncomfortable.

7:00 AM: Sit down next to a man and woman (early 40’s) who look like they know what they’re doing. I learn they’re extras all the time and have worked on every major project that’s filmed here. They’re making themselves sound important and all of a sudden my fancy degree is making me feel even more incompetent, since both say they didn’t go to college.

7:30 AM: Tentatively say, “Am I allowed to eat the food?”

7:31 AM: Get overwhelmed by the amount of nice food and end up getting scared and panicked and randomly selecting a dry cereal. Brilliant.

8:45 AM: FINALLY get to set! Eager to get started! Let’s make me a movie star!

8:46 AM: The production assistant leads us through the incredible set and into a horribly lit back area where we are instructed to sit in metal folding chairs and be quiet until someone comes to get us.

9:30 AM: Still sitting in this folding chair. The PA re-appears, tells us to continue to sit and to please be quiet. I am now feeling like an abandoned kindergartner and I’m getting antsy.

MANY HOURS GO BY. MANY, many hours. So many hours that I’m feeling like they’ve forgotten us. All of a sudden it’s lunch and we still haven’t done anything. I’m feeling confused and irritated, but the other perpetual extras don’t seem to mind. I drown my sorrows in a giant piece of Cheesecake that’s not very good.

3:30 PM: After 8 1/2 hours of waiting, we are fetched by the PA and led, like cattle, onto set. Our big moment has arrived!!! But wait…our big moment includes walking from one end of a hallway to another, over and over and over again. What? This is not what I signed up for. I cannot decide which is worse: The evil folding chair room or the sad, back and forth walking.

4:00 PM: I am somehow paired with an insanely annoying and slightly creepy boy, about my age, who keeps insisting on holding my waist while we do our incessant walking. Umm…can you not?! I don’t even know your name and you smell. Please go away and stop trying to get me to put my head on your shoulder. I’m not ACTUALLY a hospital patient and you are NOT my boyfriend. Goodbye.

4:45 PM: “BACKGROUND?! Can you NOT make so much noise with your shuffling feet?! Again, NO noise with your feet. Clear?”
…College degree certainly necessary for this job. Not.

5:00 PM: We are returned to our hell hole of a waiting room. My butt is no longer amused by this game, and is not enjoying the return to its awful folding chair. The lady I met back at 7 AM insists upon showing me picture after picture of her cats. I do not like cats and I certainly do not care about yours. Please desist.

7:00 PM: I am hungry. I am sleepy. I am starting to feel like an awful person for not keeping up a chipper attitude even though we’ve been here 12 hours.

9:30 PM: We are FINALLY released! Oh thank you, little baby Jesus! Unfortunately, I had to return the next day and do it all over again. Lesson learned: being an extra is essentially being a glorified prop. Actors not needed, just people with inordinate amounts of patience.