Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A True Hollywood Horror Story

Stories like this remind me that Hollywood can be a horrible, heartbreaking cesspool of evil. Part of me is grateful I've never had to deal with something like this. The other part of me says, "Get ready. This bullshit is coming."

On his blog, screenwriter Doug Richardson tells the sordid tale of his legal thriller idea that swirled around the cesspool getting eaten by sharks. It's a page turner like no other. Enjoy.

The Smoking Gun, Part 1.

The Smoking Gun, Part 2.

The Smoking Gun, Part 3.

The Smoking Gun, Part 4.

An Open Letter to Student Filmmakers

Dear Film Students,

You are all so beautiful and eager. You can’t wait to get out of the classroom and start making your films. You’re excited to find actors to bring your vision to life. You can already picture the thunderous applause at your Academy Award qualification screening.

As an actor who has auditioned for and worked on many student films, I applaud your enthusiasm. You are the next generation of filmmakers and yes, many of you will go on to be Oscar nominees.

But right now, there are things my fellow actors and I experience over and over that need to be addressed. Because frankly, we know more about the business than most of you – especially if you were in junior high school when we started our acting careers.

So with all due respect, here are a few things you really need to hear --

1) Don’t make us drive out of town to audition.

Actors are juggling day jobs, auditions for paid roles, and our everyday lives. If you ask us to drive to Thousand Oaks or Long Beach for a student film audition, we probably won’t go. Especially with gas prices being so high right now.

Ensure the largest talent pool for your auditions by holding them in town. In Los Angeles, CAZT is free for producers and Space Station is affordable as well. You can also hold auditions via Skype or invite actors to put themselves on tape. Come to us and we’ll come to you.

2) Tell us where we’re going.

“Auditions will be held in Butler 22A” may mean something to you, but we’re not familiar with your campus. Send us directions, send us a campus map, tell us where we can park. Post signs along the way to help us find you.

And for goodness sake, put a sign on the door that says “Auditions Are Here!”

3) Be clear about what you want to see in the audition.

Don’t just send us the script. Tell us which pages you want to see so we can prepare in advance. That’s how it works in the big leagues. If you’ll be taking us through improv or movement exercises, let us know up front. We’re game for anything but we don’t like surprises. We just want to show you our best work.

Oh, and if the role is for a non-dialogue film, don’t give us five pages of dialogue from Sleepless in Seattle for the audition because you think it’s a similar character. You’ll just get a Meg Ryan impression that is unlikely to help you cast your role. Plus we think it’s weird. And monologues? Nooooo...

4) Respect the relationship between actor and student filmmaker.

My friend Christopher describes it as a symbiotic relationship. We need each other. I know you think your short film will be the next THX 1138, but you’re not doing us a favor by allowing us to be in your masterpiece. Understand and appreciate that we’re taking time and energy out of our lives to work on your project for free. Respect us and you’ll earn our respect.

And perhaps the most important thing student filmmakers need to learn about working with professional actors --

5) Say “thank you” as often as possible.

Never underestimate the power of gratitude. We’re doing fight choreography and falling down stairs without stunt pay, crying on cue for twenty takes, and doing our best to hit every mark. It’s all in a day’s work for us. We’re happy to help you realize your vision. Pay us back by saying “thank you” and meaning it.

Thanks for listening. We’ll see you at the audition for your next film!


Your Actors

Monday, October 29, 2012

Video Distractions: Super Nerd Alert!

Yes, I'm an artist who went to MIT. And even though I spend most of my days creating words and envisioning characters, I am damn proud of my techy-nerd heritage.

My latest favorite videos reflect my penchant for all things geek --

First, perhaps the most amazing Gangnam Style parody ever - MIT Gangnam Style!

I heart this parody so much! Not only does it show off a campus I love and miss, it's a great showcase of the incredible diversity at MIT - cultural, academic, sports, and more. Plus perfect lip-syncing, Logs a cappella, and Noam Chomsky! MIT PRIDE!

One of the comments said it best - "Only an MIT Gangnam Style video could feature: the MIT Dean of Admissions, one of the principal leaders of the Human Genome Project and co-chair of President Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, the father of modern linguistics, and one of Time's '100 Most Influential People in the World' in 2012 for his liquid metal battery research."

Another fun tidbit from the comments - "Richard Yoon, the star of this video, is an absolute legend. 5.0 GPA, plays on the football team, and I once witnessed him save a kitten from a tree in Killian court."

That's an MIT overachiever, baby!

Next up, a nerdy video referred to me by an MIT alumna --

Did I make one? Of course I did! Still working on getting them perfect - it's my new dinner table trick...

Finally, proof that nerd work is cool --

A little too much woo-ing, but who doesn't love a good Rube Goldberg machine?

Do you have any nerdy videos to share?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

My Journey with The Red Shirt

My friend Christopher is excessively creative. His latest project - Journey of Red Shirt.

He's taking this red shirt --

And sending it around the world. Here's how it works --

Genius, right? He gave me the privilege of kicking off the whole thing, so I wanted to do it right. I decided to wear the red shirt on my busy, busy Sunday.

The shirt was a little big for me, so I decided to dress it up --

Sorta works, right?

First stop - Sunday brunch with MIT ladies at the super elegant and super yummy Bottega Louie. Their beignets were like heaven - warm and fluffy. Portabello mushroom fries - SO good. My Lobster Breakfast Hash was gorgeous but just okay --

Bakery at the front was stunning --

A fantastic morning of nerd girl bonding - love MIT women!

Then head to Visual Communications in Little Tokyo for a directing workshop with the great Henry Chan --

Henry used the same scene from Hannah and Her Sisters that he used at the directing/acting workshop I did at the DGA last year, bringing back fantastic memories.

It was wonderfully educational seeing the process from the other side. Henry is a fantastic teacher and an all-around awesome guy. Can't wait to work with him!

Final stop for the day - Atwater Village for the inaugural Work in Progress reading. I shared a piece of my latest sci-fi tale to a packed house --

And that was the red shirt's journey with me! Where will it go next? Follow the red shirt at @JourneyRedShirt.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I Love Gays Because I’m Human

My name is Teresa and I’m a straight ally – a heterosexual who is passionate about equality for homosexuals.

And it’s not because I’m a fag hag or because being pro-gay is the hipster thing to do. I advocate for gay rights because I’m a compassionate human being who thinks every argument against LGBTQ equality is the most infuriating bullshit I’ve ever heard.

But wait – perhaps you’re one of these anti-gay people. Perhaps you have an argument or two that you’d like to present to me, just to play devil’s advocate. You want to talk about how the Bible clearly states homosexuality is a sin or explain to me how traditional marriage will be tarnished if gays are allowed to marry. Or maybe you think there’s nothing wrong with the current guidelines for domestic partnerships. Why change what isn’t broken, right?

Bullshit. Go screw yourself.

To me, equality for gays isn’t a religious or political issue – it’s a human issue. Are you a human being or not? Because you and the stinking politicians trying to prevent gay equality can dress up your prejudice with Bible speak and family values rhetoric all you want – it still comes down to the fact that you consider homosexuals to be a class of citizen separate from yourselves. You’re you and they are not like you.

And that, in my humble opinion, is a load of bullshit.

We’re all human beings. We are all more alike than we are different. That’s a truth I learned myself after spending my childhood being teased and criticized for being different. I internalized that “I’m different” treatment and wasted so much time trying to fit in, only to realize that my differences are what make me truly loveable. I deserve love simply because I’m human.

So if you’re hanging on to some pipe dream of life that’s free of these scary gays and their gay agenda, you need to wake up. They’re here, they’re queer, and they just want to be treated like human beings.

If you still disagree with me, I cordially invite you to see Artist At Play’s latest production, Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them. It’s the spectacular West Coast debut of the award-winning play by A. Rey Pamatmat that runs at GTC Burbank through November 10th. Buy tickets here!

Title character Edith (Amielynn Abellera) and her brother Kenny (Rodney To) are kids living on their own, protecting each other while fighting like siblings do, surviving day to day in an uncertain, dangerous world.

And in the midst of the harsh realities of child abandonment and rural isolation, Kenny explores a new relationship with classmate Benji (Brian Hostenske). Yes, a gay relationship. We see their connection develop slowly and organically, thanks to deft, nuanced performances by the actors. Benji goes through the heartbreaking process of coming out to his family and Kenny is right there to hold his hand and tell him he’s going to be okay. Their relationship is so sweet and beautiful, I couldn’t help but think, “What the heck do anti-gay Republicans think they’re protecting the world from?!?!”

Rodney To and Brian Hostenske in
Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them
by A. Rey Pamatmat
Photo by Michael C. Palma
Because at the center of my gay advocacy is this belief – love is love. This play underscores this core value so beautifully. Kenny and Benji’s story isn’t about being G-A-Y, it’s about the thrill of young love, the innocence of sexual discovery, and the joy of finding someone who lets you be who you are. The same themes you’ll find in Romeo & Juliet or Disney’s Beauty & the Beast. Love is love.

So if you’re one of these people I mentioned at the top of this article who feel like you have a legitimate reason to oppose gay marriage or any number of gay equality issues, I challenge you to see Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them and not be transformed. That’s how good this play is. You can crinkle your nose when the two boys kiss all you want, but by the end you’ll see that there is nothing to fear, there is only love to be celebrated.

And if you don’t feel that, then I’m sorry – you’re not a human being.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Prop 30: For Red Rubber Balls Everywhere

Erica Rood is a Los Angeles public school teacher, a brilliant writer, and a good friend. She wrote this opinion piece on Prop 30 that I just had to share. It doesn't quote numbers - it comes from the heart.

Prop 30 isn’t an educational proposition. It is a financial proposition, and yet it affects education more than any other program. It is a last resort scare tactic to force the people of California into paying more money in taxes, to put ABC chewing gum into the hole in the bottom of the public education life raft. It doesn’t fix anything, it doesn’t prevent the money from being diverted to administrative costs, it doesn’t do anything except stop thousands of teachers from being fired, and countless others like myself, from taking another pay cut.

In an effort to prepare for the defeat of prop 30, California has withheld millions of dollars from schools this year. If it passes, the money will be returned, if not, then it will begin a chain reaction of continued cuts across public education.

Haven’t we heard this before? Cuts to education, and yet this time, I feel like there really isn’t anything else to cut. Sure you can fire teachers and combine grade level classes, if you fill comfortable with your child sitting in a class of 44 kindergartners.

I suppose your student can get by without technology in the classroom. I currently have 3 computers for 22 kids allowing them each a meager 15 min. a week. That’s okay though, they all have cell phones right? Can’t they learn computer literacy at home?

But I can’t tell you to vote for prop 30 because it doesn’t fix anything. It is a stopgap measure to prevent the worst from getting worse. It provides no reform to fix any of the existing problems. Problems of state channels that funnel educational funding elsewhere, and districts that are such a maze of bureaucracy and staffed with people so far removed from the classroom, but they may as well be in south equatorial Australia.

So I can’t tell you to vote for it because it’s bad legislation. However, it is such bad legislation that if it doesn’t pass, our students lose the most.

Bigger classes, less school days, mass layoffs of newly credentialed teachers, (highly qualified, ebullient, and tech savvy teachers at the bottom of the seniority totem pole), delayed facilities repairs, and even less sports equipment.

Call it hand ball, call it wall ball, call it fun at recess. The game where competitors take out their academic frustrations and energetic wiggles on an unsuspecting red rubber ball in front of cheering legions of classmates. If prop 30 does not pass, frivolities like sports equipment are the next things to go (after art and music of course).

So, if you can remember what it felt like to bounce that red ball high over your head, and the rubber thud it made as it touched back down to earth, consider voting in November. If you can remember how dirty your hands got from the skin of the ball as it licked the blacktop, register to vote. If you can remember creating obscure names like waterfalls and poppies and a whole host of other nouns for different ways the ball could bounce that left yard teachers scratching their heads, consider voting for prop 30.

It won’t fix education, but it will prevent thousands of teachers from being laid off and class sizes from doubling. It would keep my salary where it is, sitting modestly just underneath the middle-class demarcation, and save a red rubber balls for millions of students across blacktop statewide.

Consider voting yes on prop 30 for the red rubber balls.

Erica Rood is a third grade public school teacher. In her fifth year of teaching, she encourages her students to make their voices heard when they see a need in the community.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Weekend Crazy Days

My weekend is so packed, I'm looking forward to Monday when I can relax!

Friday was filled with personal dealings as I celebrated Spirit Day by wearing purple. By the time I arrived at the sold out Dis/orient/ed Comedy show, I was exhausted.

I've reviewed this all-Asian-American female comedienne lineup before and was looking forward to this encore performance.

A packed house indulged in $4 PBRs before the show --

Hosts Jenny and Atsuko did an amazing job hosting the show --

And I was thrilled to see D'Lo again. We performed together at Tasty Words in April. Though again, he disappeared after the show before I could tell him how fabulous he was. Ah well, next time!

(For those wondering why a "he" was performing at an all-Asian-American female comedienne show, look up D'Lo on YouTube.)

Saturday started bright and early with carrying folding chairs and handing out programs for an all-day volunteer retreat for WriteGirl.

This is my first year as a mentor volunteer and I'm already having an amazing time. Today was filled with group activities --

Goodies like free journals for our year of writing --

Inspirational words from WriteGirl Executive Director Keren Taylor --

And a panel of published writers sharing their professional experiences with us --

Though of course the highlight of the day was the spectacular potluck lunch --

WriteGirl volunteers can cook! My contribution was meant to be a pesto rice pilaf, but I added too much chicken stock to the rice cooker, so it became risotto --

Capped off Saturday with opening night of Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them - more on that experience later!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Thursday Discovery Day

Yesterday was about writing, today was about discovery!

At an audition this morning, I discovered this little guy in the waiting room --

Talk about random!

It was a friendly waiting room filled with ethnic women, so I felt right at home. I chatted with one actress who told me about her one-woman show turned foundation for empowering women against sexual assault. What an incredible discovery!

On the way home, I finally stopped by Reel Cycle, a shop filled with clothes, shoes, accessories, & furniture used in television and film.

I discovered a pair of designer black suede heels that were practically brand new for only $20! Then I walked back to my car and discovered this on the windshield --

So basically the shoes cost me $83. Discount fail...

My first wave of editors is reading my series proposal for notes - hopefully will be able to start putting beats on the board this weekend!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wednesday Writing Day

Writing was everywhere today. I wrote while on the exercise bike this morning, finishing the rough draft of my series proposal. Emphasis on the rough --

Then I wrote a new beat sheet for a spec script class I'm taking at UCLA Extension to finish my Certificate in Television Writing.

I wrote checks, I wrote emails, and I wrote tweets promoting my fiction reading on Sunday. (Don't forget to RSVP!)

In the evening, I volunteered at the WriteGirl office in downtown LA.

The space was filled with creativity, including this wall of thoughtful questions and answers in the bathroom. I wrote a few questions --

Then settled in front of a computer to write letters to companies and friends, asking for silent auction donations for their upcoming Bold Ink Awards.

The Bold Ink Awards is WriteGirl's annual fundraiser and the lineup looks fantastic!

If you want to meet these amazing writers and/or support WriteGirl's non-profit programs that promote education and writing skills for at-risk teens, buy a ticket for the Bold Ink Awards today! I'll be there!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tuesday Mellow Day

I always seem to follow a super busy day with a lazy day. I know I should strive to continue to be productive, but it usually doesn't happen. The universe demands balance.

Started my day on Photoshop designing a postcard for a friend's bass guitar lessons Web site, which I also designed --

Took a printout to our lunch meeting and discussed edits over an avocado BLT --

Then returned home intending to write, write, write.

Sigh. I didn't do any writing at all. I finalized the postcard design, designed a matching business card, cleaned the kitchen, researched a potential weekend getaway for myself, and took an epic nap.

Productivity FAIL. Sigh.

Before I knew it, it was time for the second Presidential debate --

Snark was in full force in the Twittersphere throughout. A few of my favorites --

Romney's binder comment was the most entertaining WTF moment of the night. It was mere hours before I discovered this Binders Full of Women Tumblr. The Internet is fast!