Friends and family have probably been wondering why I haven't posted to this blog in over a year.  Well, actually nobody has mentioned it, but let's just pretend, okay?  So a year ago one short film --
-- and then silence for a year.  What's up with that?

The purpose of producing iSpy was to determine what it would cost to make an indie feature with 'iSpy' production values.  Newsflasha lot.  There's no such thing a zero budget film that doesn't look like a zero-budget film.  Don't kid yourself.  So these four minutes of video acted as a film school for this newbie producer.

So my next plan was to look through my arsenal of completed screenplays.  A baker's dozen of screenplays I've spent the last two decades editing and placing in notable screenplay contests.    What did I gravitate towards?  You guessed it -- my zero budget screenplay.  Ahem.

As a freelance writer I believed the screenplay was in good shape.  As a producer -- the person finding money for the project, I began to realize it... well... wasn't ready for prime time.  Put your money where your mouth is turns out to be an excellent aid in editing a final draft.  For months and months and months I've been editing this one silly script. 

It's an insane satirical rom-com.  If you've ever seen Burt Reynolds and Dom Deluise in THE END, it's like I take that movie and throw it in a blender with ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, BEING JOHN MALKOVITCH, and THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW.   Making that comprehensible yet approachable hasn't been easy.

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Spending a year reworking my piece I accidentally sharpened my comedic skills.  

Writing funny... is brutal.  I can tell you with all honesty that all good comedy writers are WAY underpaid. 

If I write a dramatic scene, everyone 'gets' it on the first or second draft.  The comedy has required 30 drafts --
30 frickin' drafts
-- to make every joke, job, and smirk reasonably clear.  I'm still editing, don't you know...

The result?  I'm an even sillier person than I was a year ago.  Quite an achievement for those who know me. 

I'm beginning to understand what makes John Cleese and Michael Palin laugh.  Not politely, but genuinely. 

Of course I'm no match for the wit of Monty Python, but from my cheap seats, I'm beginning to see where their ideas come from. 
Taking things way past absurd while still holding it together somehow. 

It's very very tricky to be terribly silly... but not too silly. 


One particularly silly idea I've had is called THE POPULAR.  It came to me in a dream.  No, really. 

I was dreaming I was a teen in the 70s.  Watching a weary TV with a broken nob and poor reception.  I'm watching a fuzzy color British sitcom, where a stuffy upper class British couple discuss their son's first year at Oxford.  The wife would asks her husband how the son is doing, and without looking up from his paper he says, "Very well, my dear, very well.  It seems the young ladies have discovered 'The Popular'."  And the audience ROARS.  In my dream.

I laugh too.  Because without being told I understand that 'the popular' was a euphemism.  It struck me as hilarious to hear this stuffy couple nonchalantly discussing their son's penis over the paper and afternoon tea.  So hilarious I kept the gag going in the following dreams -- because I didn't wish to awake smiling but not remember why.

When I awoke -- smiling like an idiot -- the phrase was waiting for me in my head.  I dropped it in Google to determine which British sitcom I was recalling... only to learn I had literally dreamed up the term.  This made me smile even more.

For a few days I abused my wife with the term.  Eventually she started laughing with me.  I tried it out on Facebook by telling this exact story.   A few unfriended me, I got two calls from the authorities, but many were amused.

So there I was with this absolutely SILLY term I adored but had no way to introduce to the masses.  

This was the exact moment I got a call from my Mom.   Who has been behind me every step of this journey.   Sometimes way in front of me, when she advised I ditch my a major university for an arts school.

Anyway, my Mom called because her lifelong best friend, my Aunt Maureen, read something in the Boston Globe about an interesting young lady named Ellen Soderberg.  
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A talented and lovely actress from the Boston area,
Ellen had moved to Los Angeles.   Why?  The same reason the rest of us moved.  We pretend it's to get discovered... but really... it's weather thing.

Anyway -- because Ellen hasn't been out here as long as I have -- she isn't bitter.  God Bless her. 

What this means is that she has a delightfully non-West Coastian all for one, one for all approach to Los Angeles.

How refreshing, Ellen.  How refreshing.

You're not what I call a typical 'me' person out here.  You're an 'us' person.  You rule.

So Ellen sent out an internet iCall for Boston writers, directors, and actors who now live here.  You didn't have to be born in Boston but only claim to have been in Boston during some formative years.  There was no quiz or old license plates required.  And incarceration counted, which turned out lucky for me.   But seriously --

-- although I was in a minority of Boston born and raiser types, everyone involved had a Boston story to tell.  In a thick Boston brogue if need be.  There was also a Wyoming thing going on -- a top secret subgroup -- but they still knew a cruller from a Sam Adams and so all was good.

Anyhow, believe it or not, this is how THE POPULAR went from dream to reality.  Two words:  Ellen Soderberg.

Five pages on inappropriate madness.  Something I had to whip out (don't go there) in very few days due to a plumbing situation.  A personal plumbing situation (I said don't go there) in my condo. 

The piece turned out looking a little something like this --
Please forgive the iPhone In The First Row cinematography.
Since I was merely the writer of this piece, I had nothing to do with the casting and direction.  So when I was filming this it was my first time seeing the piece too.  I must pay high praise to Ellen for finding the director Leon Schatz and actors Phil Berry and Jay Pennick.   As I was attempting to write like Python, these poor bastards had to perform something like them... yet without the Python notoriety and twitty British accents. 

I feel they both did a terrific job.


And so if you ever hear this term in a real world conversation, it started here.  Professional interests aside, I hope 'The Popular' becomes popular.  Try it... go ahead... the next time you want to talk about the popular without anyone beside you in Chipolte realizing you're talking about the popular.  It's fun.

Anyway, Ellen's three night Boston group hug was definitely a success.  The other ten pieces and twenty two performers were truly great.  Bostonians temporary and of birthright brought a great deal of East Coast to the Southland.  There was one dog in the show, but I mean that literally:  a dog.  (So cute!)

I was speaking with one of the night's talented actresses.  She acted, wrote, and directed a piece entitled The Birthday Dinner.  I asked her which skill she was going for professionally -- and without hesitation she said she wanted to be on SNL.  I absolutely appreciate the sentiment, I do, but I've been here so long that a certain 'screw that' sentiment hit me.

We are here, people.   Los Angeles could have it's own SNL.  And not a duplicate like the Fridays show (yes I'm THAT old and was a fan during said teen years).  I'm saying Los Angeles types should do shows like this.  Our way, baby.

All for one, one for all. 

Ellen has shown us the way.  Now it's time to kick some West Coast ass people.

Love and kisses,

Me

P.S.  Please like my FACEBOOK page so that you'll know when my insane comedy goes into production.  A reading is coming up shortly and may I need some of you.


 
The lead actress in my short film iSpy is a talented actress, no doubt.  She stood out from the pack in so many ways we just had to borrow her from NYC for a memorable LA day.

What's surprising is that this 'we knew her when' talent is also evident as a singer/songwriter.    Seriously.

I'll be frank and say when I first heard her debut single FIX YOUR BROKEN HEART I couldn't believe Tatsumi wrote it. 

To my seasoned ears it sounded like Tatsumi hired the songwriters behind The Cranberries.  I mean what kid can write a song with that nuanced sound these days? 

Tatsumi Romano can.  Her single just placed in the top %8 of over 19,000 songs -- a semi-finalist
in the 2013 International Songwriting Competition.
 
In the summer of 2013 it wasn't cool to question the NSA surveillance of the world.  We were brainwashed by the military industrial cineplex to presume Edward Snowden was an evil psychotic terrorist dude --
Our little production 'iSpy' was released in December of 2013.  Miraculously Edward Snowden was still very much in the headlines, but still there was still this very definite 'hot potato' feeling around Snowden.   An uneasiness to associate yourself with the disturbing realities he's ushered into our awareness.  Many to this day feel more comfortable simply shooting the messenger than taking a stand for their own personal freedoms.  After all -- we're being watched.

The problem is that cyberprivacy is an issue we must face as a people.  As adult people.  Not passive sheeple.  We can't let others take care of this for us.  We must do something

So kudos to the producers and cast of my favorite sitcom MODERN FAMILY for doing something.  What did they do?  They mainstreamed this topic.  After all it was MODERN FAMILY that mainstreamed the reality of gay marriage on television and so it's not a reach to suggest they feel passionately about this subject of privacy as well.

Here's the fun part.  Their episode was also called 'iSpy'.


 
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This is pretty much where Gene Roddenberry's STAR TREK and Gerry Anderson's THUNDERBIRDS meet.  Bonus points if you can name which Anderson character I needed for Uhura.

If you enjoyed this, please watch and share my short film iSpy below -- 
... where the future of privacy has been lost to the military industrial cineplex.

 
Last October we shot our first short film iSpy --
-- and ever since I've been busier than busy.  Promoting the film, tying up loose ends, finding a poster for the piece, adding 'iSpy' to the IMDB --
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One thing that got back-burnered were the production stills.  We had a little trouble getting them back when I had a free time, and once I got'em I was out of time doing the above. 

 
About a year ago I came out of my MJE closet.  Probably on Facebook.  I thought I'd make my appreciation for Michael Jonas Evans a little more public.  I originally posted this it on The Daily KOS but have since pulled it from their site.  Not because this post wasn't appreciated there -- but because the politically correct police at the KOS are out of control.

 
Today our first film iSpy went live on FUNNY OR DIE --
 
This last summer, the movie industry and the NSA strangely played the same tune:  if somoene claimed to be standing up for the rights of their people, they were actually an enemy of the military and really an evil psychotic terrorist dude.

As the short film iSpy satirizes, Edward Snowden therefore might as well have be a Bane, Zod, or Khan --
These months later, a Christmas gift to liberty has been delivered not by a white or black Santa Claus... but by a recent ruling where a federal judge labeled the doings of the NSA as Orwellian and simply unconstitutional.  Ever since the Patriot Act our American freedoms have been dismissed to 'protect' our American freedoms, but it's all coming to head right now. 

After all -- liberals wonder why their President is lockstep with Patriot Act Conservatives Types -- while -- Patriot Act Conservatives Types smell a sweet Georgia impeachment for Obama.  When two such interest groups agree on anything, change can be rather swift -- especially if you're a President about to be lynched for doing something George W started.

How swift?  Merely two days after said ruling --

WASHINGTON (AP) — A presidential advisory panel has recommended sweeping limits on the government's surveillance programs, including requiring a court to sign off on individual searches of phone records and stripping the National Security Agency of its ability to store that data from Americans.
You see how Snowden is no longer a part of the conversation?  That's because he never should have been a part of the conversation.  If the NSA had been mindful of our Constitution -- there wouldn't be an Edward Snowden to scapegoat.

The film iSpy addresses a simple yet subtle point:  the way governments turn their citizens into sheeple is by labeling people with contrary opinions terrorists. 

Why are the kids of iSpy afraid to connect with reality?   Simple.  The reality that their government has abandoned another of its founding principles to unabashedly and unapologetically spy on them -- through their favorite iDevice -- that's pretty damn scary to any kid.  Or adult really.  In fact it's a form of terrorism against the citizenry. 

You think I've gone over the top?  Tripped the light rhetorical?  Here's the Wiki on terrorism --

Terrorism is the systematic use of violence (terror) as a means of coercion for political purposes.
Maybe you're thinking, wait, what violence?  No jets have smashed into any buildings -- how can surveillance be terrorism?

Think about it.  Privacy isn't a tangible thing.  It's an idea.  A comforting idea when we believe we have privacy.  However, when a group of arrogant spooks with a massive server farm inform us our every movement and communication is being watched and archived, that's a psychological attack on what was once the comforting idea of privacy.  It's scary -- is it not?

Helpless against the NSA, citizens are terrorized into submissive behavior.  Some excuse their submissive behavior by claiming nothing is new here.  Others, like the kids, simply go back to their iDevices and tune out this depressingly corrupt world.   Who can blame any kid or adult for doing so? 

That is the political purpose of said terrorism:  citizens are coerced against their better political interests of privacy.  Coerced into letting the NSA have free reign to destroy privacy at will.

Obama may have never intended to be at the forefront of this sort of Patriot Act related change, but a change is gonna come.  I just hope that citizens which have been brainwashed by NSA propaganda -- repeated liberally by the media -- won't shoot the messenger.   Obama's website asked for whistleblowers, Snowden blew a righteous whistle.



 
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Ever since 9/11, the U.S. Government has willfully and shamelessly trampled guaranteed rights under the Constitution.  The notion is that we Americans must give up liberty in order to preserve it, and that if we dare question this -- we just might be labeled 'evil psychotic terrorist dudes'.

Speak up, people.  Look up from your children, your jobs, your bills, and your iDevices.

There is nothing more patriotic than defending our Constitution.