short film

The Adventures of the Luck Monkey

My old college buddy Ed and I have always found monkeys highly entertaining. While visiting a zoo one summer, Ed sent me a great souvenir: a brochure advertising their latest addition, Bruisa the Luck Monkey. It was accompanied by a photo of the most miserable looking little monkey ever in captivity. I did a Google search on Bruisa to include a picture in this blog, but it appears Bruisa the Luck Monkey was too miserable to ever have demanded any photographic evidence.

I told you that to tell you this…

In the summer of 1992 I was 21 years old and had packed up all of my belongings and was moving to California to be a movie star. On the way there I stopped in Oklahoma City to visit Ed for a few days. My first night there we stayed up really late making a bunch of ridiculous short films, most of which will never see the light of day (if Ed has anything to do with it). But some of them – the ones that don’t have Ed in front of the camera – are now online and available for my friends to enjoy (?) for the first time.

One of them featured a parody of the then-popular Ziploc commercials featuring a stupid character, Fingerman. Our dreams of killing this annoying character over and over again finally came to fruition.

And then there’s Bruisa the Luck Monkey. I can’t honestly say how we came up with the idea of me fighting a number of Ed’s stuffed animals or why I was going to be Bruisa the Luck Monkey. In fact, we blame the activities of that night on too much Pepsi and staying-up-too-late-ness.

But if the following trilogy brings you a smile, then it was all worth it.

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“The Blanket” Debuts

Well, after rambling on and on about the short film I’ve been working on, it’s finally finished. It’s called “The Blanket” and you can either watch it by CLICKING HERE or by watching it below.

My thanks to John & Lisa Blowers for agreeing to star in the film and allowing me to let their son yell at them on camera. Thanks to my good buddy Gabe Patillo for the music and my friends Doney and Ashlea for popping into the studio to lend their voices. And of course, thanks Sarah. It’s way too easy to make you look good. :)

Production Update: “The Blanket”

Yes, fans, the wait is almost over. Another short film by Yours Truly will be on its way soon.

For those of you who may not know, Sarah and I spent an evening with our friends John and Lisa and their son Alex. Part of that time was spent eating an incredible meal, part of it was spent playing badminton. But the majority of our time was spent filming. We finished up a project for work that is a parody of one of our favorite films (we also filmed a trailer for this film but, alas, it is only available to my Facebook friends. But before you friend-request me, take note of my previous post).

This is the final product of the work project. How jealous are you that I get paid to have this much fun?

The bulk of our time, though, was spent working on a personal project of mine entitled The Blanket. I wrote the script last year and wrote it specifically with John, Lisa, and Alex in mind. It’s not my first time working with kids (while I was in Indiana my brother and I put together an asinine mini-series called “Terocus” and in one episode his daughter played one of the bad guys who met a most untimely demise).

But this was my first time working with a kid as my star (okay, yeah, Alex starred in our “Cha Cha Slide” parody, but he didn’t have to learn any lines in that one) and it’s been a fun journey. Alex is 10 years old and I’ve been talking to him about this for the last six months. It got to the point, though, where I think he became a little sick of hearing about it and whenever I would mention The Blanket to him, he would roll his eyes and tell me he quit the project.

About a month or so ago he came in to work and I filmed a few quick shots of him in front of the green screen and last week we got all of his filming wrapped. I think he’s glad to be done with it and now he’s eager to find out when it will be finished.

I took what footage I have and edited it down into a very rough cut of the short film and so far I’m happy with how it looks (and is going to look). Alex and his family did a great job for me and they look great on the screen.

I only have two more quick scenes to shoot: I need to shoot an exterior shot of the house and also nab a quick shot of Sarah and me in front of the green screen. Next week I’ll be recording a good buddy of mine for a voiceover and then it’ll just be down to the final editing — my favorite part.

Hopefully I’ll be blogging again in a couple of weeks to let you know the short film is finished and ready to view. In the meantime, here are a couple of shots Sarah took while we were filming. Until next time…I’ll be in the editing room!

The Story of Us Pt 4

In early May of 2007 I was in the coffee shop at my usual table, drinking my usual white chocolate mocha, and eating my usual turkey sandwich (with fruit cup) when I had an epiphany.

The Sundance Film Festival had posted all of the short film entries on their website for the world to see–and they were horrible. Films that were so obviously trying to be “arty” for the sake of “being arty”. I figured I could make a crappy short film as well as the next guy and if I could make a somewhat decent short film, then maybe I’d have something.

Sarah was working at the coffee shop that day and had forgotten to put the cheese on my turkey sandwich. To be honest, I didn’t even think about it–or even realize it–but she came out to where I was sitting and told me she suspected she forgot to add my slice of cheese.

I checked the sandwich and lo and behold she was right. I told her not to worry about it but she did, and was very adorable as she apologized for the oversight more than a few times.

It was at that moment I got the idea for my short film: A cute girl working at a coffee shop and a guy, not unlike myself, who’s not very adept at talking to girls but wants very much to talk to her. Maybe he’s there with a buddy of his, talking about how he wants to ask her out and his buddy who of course is much better at it and more confident is trying to show him the ropes.

I named the characters Ed and Paul (Paul, after my roommate in California who not only was very good with the fairer sex but also had a way of bringing home some of the hottest California girls you’d ever find). From there the script pretty much wrote itself.

I knew it would be easy to film and wondered if I’d be able to shoot it at the coffee shop. And for that matter I wondered if Sarah would be willing to play herself. That would be cool.

I went up to the counter for a refill of my coffee and mentioned to Sarah I had written a short film that revolves around a girl who works in a coffee shop and asked if she’d be up for playing the part. Of course, I didn’t mention the part about her inspiring the whole thing…I didn’t want to creep her out or anything.

I was very happy that not only did she agree to do it but also seemed very eager and excited about it. When I returned to my table and sat down again I realized I’d have to make a revision and change the main character from me to someone else. Mostly becauseĀ I didn’t want to freak her out that I was playing a character hitting on someone (her) 13 years younger than me. Sure, it was just a film, but I didn’t want Sarah…or her sister…or her brother-in-law….to think I had less-than-innocent intentions. And I can honestly tell you my intentions were indeed very innocent. I don’t know how believable that sounds now, especially since we have since gotten engaged, but believe me it’s true. I had not ulterior motives. I just wanted Sarah to be in the film.

I quickly changed my character to “David”. Granted, David is her brother and it sounds really weird to cast her brother as someone trying to ask her out but I mean come on, in the story they aren’t related. And David has an innocent shyness about him I thought would translate well. He ended up doing a much better job than I ever could have done (I think I would have come across as goofy instead of shy) and he nailed the part brilliantly.

The only other guy I knew who was around their age and could play the confident, good-looking ladies man was Matt, who also hung hung around the coffee shop quite a bit. He is Ken’s son, and–that’s right–Sarah’s step-brother. So yea, I totally made a film about a girl and cast her real-life brother and step-brother as the two guys vying for her attention. If you never met any of them in real-life you’d have no idea of the odd casting choice, but to our friends around town…I think it really confused some of them at first.

We filmed on May 18 and it turned out really well (you can see the film here). The three of them did a great job and to say I was impressed would be an extreme understatement. As we filmed I had Sarah behind the counter and asked her to perform basic actions that I could use as cutaway shots. Simple tasks like working the register, answering the phone, sweeping the floor, etc.

I can still remember reviewing the footage later that night. I was sitting at the kitchen table of my little upstairs apartment and as I watched Sarah, it really hit home: “This girl is beautiful.”

I recall rewinding the tape and re-watching a few times. There she was doing everyday mundane tasks and I couldn’t keep my eyes off her. I remembered how much fun I had working with her up close and wished I’d written a bigger part so I could work with her more. Her friendliness, her warm smile, her considerate spirit…those weren’t things that were merely part of her at-work customer-service mode (not that I ever suspected they were)…but that’s truly who she is as a person.

Looking back on it all now I realize that although I’d already known her for about nine months, I already knew how funny, kind, sweet, and beautiful she was…the night we shot that film is the night I fell for Sarah.

Production Update – “The Coffee Shop”

Last night I shot the principal photography on my new short film “The Coffee Shop” (the first in a series of short films collectively called “The Guys”). The film stars David Beaman and Matt Stine and also features the very bubbly Sarah Beaman.

This film follows two guys in a coffee shop as they ponder asking out the cute girl who works behind the counter. Needless to say it was written while I was at the coffee shop and since Sarah was working there at the time I decided to cast her as the object of the guys’ affection. I originally began writing the part of Guy Who Wants To Ask Out Cute Girl But Is Too Shy with me in mind since that’s pretty much the story of my life but then I realized I’m like 30 years older than Sarah and that’d just be weird. I then decided to cast David in my role and Matt in the role of his counterpart.

I was happy all of my first-picks were able to participate. Although none of them are actors they did a great job and I have to admit I was very impressed. They all got into it as soon as I started rolling film. They needed very little direction and their performance perfectly captured what this writer was going for.

About 99% of shooting is completed; I hope to get the remaining shots within a week or so. I will be in the editing room today (aka Brewdaily’s Cafe) editing what I got last night and will then turn over a rough copy to musician extraordinaire Steve Bridgeman, who has agreed to provide the music. Those of you who are in the Pennsylvania area will surely be familiar with Steve’s music. He is one of the best, highly skilled guitar players I have ever heard perform and after hearing some of his “Movie Theme” songs he had on his website for a bit, I knew I’d be a fool not to ask him to take part. Steve was more than game and I am really excited to have him on board!

Of course, I will keep you updated as things progress. When the final product is complete it will be posted on my YouTube page (stop by and add me as a friend if you haven’t already).

And in case you’re wondering, “The Failures of Ed” is still in production. Since I can pretty much film that any time I want, I had to bump a few things ahead of it on the shooting schedule before I leave town.

More to come…

My Pennsylvania Top 10

As the time to move on to my next adventure gets closer, I’ve had quite a few friends ask me if I’m excited to make the return out East. In a word: Yes!! The hardest part is actually waiting to make the move in mid-June. But that’s given me time to plan and plot, and as a result I present you with the

TOP TEN THINGS I’M GOING TO DO WHEN I GET BACK TO PENNSYLVANIA*

10. Go to IKEA
9. Find a coffee shop to write in (you have a lot to live up to, Pennsylvania Coffee Shops. I’ve become quite fond of my Brewdaily’s Cafe, and have written four short films, a short story, and a lot of stand-up there).
8. Speaking of stand-up, find someplace to do that
7. Re-acquaint myself with the train to NYC
6. Have get-togethers of the movie-watching/karaoke/game playing/hanging out kind
5. Film that movie I wrote about a radio station 5 years ago
4. Find the Amish quaint and adorable until I am stuck behind a buggy while I am running late and then remember how much they slow me down
3. Finally get to hang out with people at JTL who weren’t there when I was there last, but seem really cool online and in email
2. Hug Fred, Lisa, Stacey, John, Phil, Ann, Strayer, Mindy, Darlene, Trish, Linford, Mel, Tom, Ethan, Aubrey, the Ruoffs, the Grosses, and whoever else I may have forgotten or gets in my way.
1. Smile a lot

*My PA-area friends are more than welcome to join me on any/all of these adventures.

THE FAILURES OF ED – Production Update

I mentioned a while ago my new project I am working on, a short film entitled The Failures of Ed. It’s the first project under my brand new production company and I’ll keep you posted as to when it is finished and available for public viewing. Until then I wanted to keep those of you who are interested in the loop and let you know how it is coming along.

* I filmed a scene today with a good friend of mine I grew up with, Amy (Reynolds) Hartman. The scene was shot in downtown Auburn and I chose Amy for the scene because I knew she wouldn’t be embarrassed if I made a fool of myself in public in front of her. And I did. We especially enjoyed the looks of people driving by who slowed down to see if I was OK.

* A first for me, this film will feature original music. The theme song was written and performed by singer/songwriter/funny guy Fred McNaughton. He perfectly captured the essence of the film and it’s just catchy enough to stick with you for the rest of the week after hearing it.

On a side note, I am also working on a new series of short films titled The Guys. Each one will be about 5-7 minutes long and will feature a different set of guys in each episode in various situations. Casting for all three films is almost complete and I am excited to begin shooting on them as well.

And there you go. Just because I haven’t put up a bunch of new films lately (I don’t really count the wedding video I did for a friend since it was more of an outsourced job) it doesn’t mean the wheels haven’t been spinning.

I look forward to revealing the new project soon!