The road trip was a success! Two went south, and three came back. In the meantime we saw a not-very-rough rough cut of “this is Awkward”, the latest Brat?i Síg?í production. (Although, I must admit my participation in this one was more limited.)

I must say the cut looked pretty good! Our editor made a decision that was a bit out of the box but worked really well, and the assembled audience laughed out loud often. Perhaps they were an easy crowd since many of them worked on the flick, but much of the laughter was genuine. I was among the laughers.

Between screenings of “This is Awkward” the old classic “Pirates of the White Sand” played (an edit I had not seen before), and also pulled in its share of chuckles and guffaws. Overall, it was a successful evening for our little production.

The trip back north included the other half of the Seeger Bros., who is visiting here in San Jose for a few days. Maybe we can put together a movie!


Could it be? Another road trip already!

Yep, tomorrow we load up the other car for a trip back down to Los Angeles. The event: a screening of This is Awkward, a series of four very short films directed by fuego, and executed by an assemblage of film professionals. You might have heard about it somewhere. My sweetie and I starred in one of them, and it was a hoot! Another one is based on a story I wrote and adapted for the silver screen (which was then re-adapted to the circumstances of the location). I’ve heard interesting stories about the other scenes as well.

So, if you’re in the LA area on Tuesday, June 23rd, I’d love to see you at the premiere! Things start at 3 p.m. and will continue from there. Drop me a line if you want directions.


Filming Murder, Sincerely

It was a gray Saturday morning in Los Angeles, with the occasional misty rain. My costar and I were running a bit late for our breakfast meet-up with the director, a delay caused largely by my inability to get out of the hotel room with everything I needed. We were both groggy, having not slept well despite a comfortable bed at the Hilton (a hotel whose motto should be “we charge extra for that”). Chalk it up to anticipation for the events of the day.

Yours Truly stretching his acting ability to the limits by putting on shoes

Yours Truly stretching his acting ability to the limits by putting on shoes

Breakfast was nonetheless pleasant. Eggs over-easy (flipped too soon) and decent pancakes at a place called Twain’s on Ventura Boulevard. fuego, Harlean, and I managed to communicate while blessed caffeine worked its magic. fuego told us stories from the previous days of shooting. I’m really looking forward to seeing the other episodes — especially the one I wrote. Eventually fuego had to go pick up our Director of Photography and a bunch of gear. He left us with a map to the day’s location and an hour to kill.

Getting a shot of the prop script over my shoulder

Getting a shot of the prop script over my shoulder

The location was a beautiful house overlooking Universal City. (The sound guy later pointed out the set for ‘Desperate Housewives’ below us.) The crew set to work and they all seemed competent as far as I could tell. While this was not nearly the size of production as “Moonlight Sonata” there was still plenty of stuff to set up. Once again we were shooting on a Red, although the lens kit and lighting package were more modest. The sound guy and his assistant were on the ball. While that was going on my costar/make-up tech went to work on my face. Soon we were ready to shoot.

fuego frames the shot of the producer coming up the stairs

fuego frames the shot of the producer coming up the stairs

The first few shots had no dialog, which was good. It gave me a chance to get comfortable and get in the flow of things. At the same time, I haven’t the slightest idea how my facial expressions work onscreen. Too much? Not enough? I guess I’ll know soon. In the end there were quite a few shots to put the action together, getting me from reading a screenplay up the stairs with an extension cord and into the bathroom where my wife was bathing.

There was a rather long break while the crew put gels over the windows in the bathroom to adjust the light color. Meanwhile Harlean took care of her own makeup and we went over our newly-redrafted lines. (The original lines were overtaken by events, particularly the time of day we could shoot.) Finally everything was ready, the special effects guy and his helper showed up and went to work, and we broke for lunch. At that point I was ready to just get going with the dialog, but the ribs were delicious.

Tinting the bathroom windows.

Tinting the bathroom windows.

The afternoon went smoothly, as far as I could tell. Nobody complained about my acting to my face; and Harlean did a great job — such a good job we added a line to let her exercise her pissed-off/sarcastic vocal tone (the one that will make her all the rage in Hollywood). A blow-dryer took a bath, sparks flew, breakers popped, and I said the line “This is awkward” about a dozen different ways over the course of the shooting.

One thing I can say as an actor, I’m not the sort of guy who complains about doing another take. There’s always something I want to fix about the last performance. In fact, as I sit here now, I think I’d like one more go at the speech that leads up to the blow-dryer toss. I think I could have been a lot more expressive, with more expansive gestures. Generally more mood-swingy, edging toward euphoria.

Preparing the bathtub

Preparing the bathtub

Next time.

The day ended with director, DP, and the two actors enjoying a beer in a Studio City living room, watching the sun set over Universal City. It felt good, having it behind me, having a general feeling that I didn’t mess things up too badly. Over dinner that night we made plans to get back together when a rough edit is done. I wonder what I’ll see.

Note: You can see a bunch more pictures at my gallery.


Visitor in the Night

I almost didn’t answer the door. There was no one I was interested in seeing on a night like that. When the bell rang I was sitting in front of a fire, contemplating the book I had just completed, while the storm raged outside. Occasionally the warm glow in the room would be interrupted by an electric flash, followed almost instantly by a bone-jarring crash of thunder. But the doorbell rang, and after a brief hesitation I answered.

I opened the door and there she was, a lock of her raven hair stuck to her pale face, glued there by the rain. She was wearing a long jacket but no hat; she was soaked.

“May I come in?” she asked. I stood aside and she brushed past me. “Do you have anything to drink?” she asked.

“Sure,” I said. She followed me into the den, loosening the belt on her coat while she walked. In the doorway she watched as I poured her a drink, then she let her coat slide to the floor. Beneath was lace and not very much of that.

We collided in the middle of the room, a four-legged beast fueled by lust, a tangle of flesh and sweat and breath. Finally we lay on the couch, intertwined, spent.

She got up at last and crossed to where her coat lay on the floor. She pulled out a compact pistol and pointed it at me. “I’m sorry Mr. Jones, but now you must die,” she said.

“My name is Thompkins,” I said. “Jones lives next door.”

“Huh,” she said. She glanced around the room before meeting my eye. “This is awkward.”

Sometimes You Just Have to Laugh

How to put this…

Maybe we should just start with the punch line. “Petra? I thought your name was Iva.” “No, that’s my mom.” It took a couple more times back and forth before I realized: There’s two of them. That explained a thing or two (a rather inconsistent level of happiness to see me, for instance), and it meant I got really lucky earlier complimenting Petra on her haircut.

Hilarity preceded, only now I got the jokes. I sat at my table as Petra’s birthday party went on around me, and laughed to myself, wondering how long it would be before someone else figured out my mistake.

Just another day.

It has rained hard off an on the last couple of days as thunderstorms wander around the city. The rain is welcome; the whole city was starting to smell like dog poop.

It seems to be a special night here at the bowling alley. As I wait for my pizza and try to get my head into some sort of creative place I’m watching what must be the Awkward Bowlers Who Look Like They’re Going To Fall Down But Somehow Knock a Lot of Pins Over League. It’s one of your more entertaining leagues.

Although, as I watch a bit more, I think I might have been closer to the truth than I realized. The more I watch the more I get the feeling that there are teams of awkward bowlers competing against each other. Some of the most awkward of all even brought their own bowling balls. One of those is one of the few skinny guys down there; his style is to run at the line as fast as he can and let go of the ball. His partner is a big, fat guy who has to release the ball well behind the line because he needs a few more steps to bring himself to a stop. Then there’s the guy who uses the pendulum method, but his release point sends the ball well down the alley before it even lands.

Holy crap! One team has a secret handshake!

When ESPN launched and they were desperate for programming, this is the kind of stuff they would show. Who is there now to broadcast Czech Awkward Bowling League? Makes me wish I had a video camera.

For all that, however, while it’s surprising to me that no one has gotten hurt, these guys are knocking pins over, picking up spares, and all that.

It has to be a league. Some of them aren’t even drinking beer. You call that bowling?