More Podcasting Is More Better


Hello everyone,

 

Sorry it’s been a few days since I posted anything. It’s been a busy time. I have been working like crazy. As some may or may not know I’m a cab driver and you can hear a story about that on the latest episode of The Gorram Nerd Hour. Besides working I have been trying to find time to sleep. That hasn’t been happening so instead I’m just throwing myself head first into more podcasts. Besides The Gorram Nerd Hour I have been doing a limited series under the Gorram banner called Holodeck Malfunction with my good friend Isaac Hulke. It’s a show about Star Trek if you couldn’t guess that from the title. 

In each episode of Holodeck Malfunction we pick a series or movie and talk about it for an hour, sometimes two topics. It just depends. We have recorded eight episodes so far and just started putting them up. So, you will be able to hear me twice a week on the Gorram page. You can also hear me and some free music on a new show I’ve started with my friend Ryan Ford. It’s called From The Underground and it will focus on indie bands of all genres. You can read more about it by following the hyperlink above. 

Lastly, I want to talk about the Abnormal Entertainment crew as a whole. These folks are awesome. I love each and every one of them…even Taylor Made from Bank On Action. He may not realize it since I do nothing but make fun of him all the time but I do appreciate him. David Hayes, one of the hosts of Cinema Head Cheese has a new book out. Follow the link on the other pages I’ve already hyperlinked and you’ll find it. It’s called American Guiginol. 

Thanks to everyone at Abnormal Entertainment. I’ve had a blast working with you all and can’t wait to see nearly everyone in one place for Phoenix Comicon.

Notes From The Underground – Some Podcast Updates


I’ve been busy lately. Not only am I prepping my next short film that will be shooting next month after a few delays but I’ve also been doing a lot of stuff in the world of podcasts. I recently talked to a co-worker who happens to be a music promoter here in Arizona. I’ve been wanting to do a music podcast for a while now. It’s something that’s been sorely missing from the Abnormal Entertainment lineup. Well, we found a way to do it. Big thanks to Ryan Ford for helping us get it done. 

The first episode was recorded about a week ago and had been turned in to the big guy at Abnormal. We’ll keep you posted for the date it’s released. The other podcast news is that one of the shows I’ve been sitting on for a while is finally going to see the light of day. My fellow nerd Isaac Hulke and I have secretly been recording a limited series of Star Trek podcasts. The first episode is all about Star Trek: The Original Series. That has also been handed in. You may be hearing a lot from me in the coming weeks. 

If you have a band and you want us to showcase your work on From The Underground send me an email and a sample MP3 and we will see what we can do. If you’re local to Arizona we would love to set something up at our studio for a live acoustic set as well.

Literary Favorites – Nick Hornby


I’m not ashamed to admit that I didn’t know who Nick Hornby was until 1999 when John Cusack unleashed High Fidelity on the world. As soon as I left the theater I immediately went to the store and got a copy of the book it was based on and the soundtrack. My life was never the same after that day.

High Fidelity was a near perfect look at men and how we view relationships. It pulled the curtain back and revealed a lot of how we think and feel. But Hornby was far from being a one hit wonder. About A Boy was a beautiful look at how a man-child and boy acting older than his years taught each other how to be what they should. The book also dealt with that moment in music when Kurt Cobain died and everything changed for so many young people of that generation. And, although the third act changed dramatically in the movie it still worked.

Fever Pitch was a non-fiction book Hornby wrote about juggling his romantic relationships with his obsession for soccer. It was ruined by making a fictional American film about baseball and cast Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore. There is a British version of the movie that is much better.

When How To Be Good hit bookshelves I was very excited. It was written in the first person from the perspective of a woman having marital problems. This seems to be a great companion piece to High Fidelity, using similar themes but showing things through the eyes of a woman. I had my sister read the book immediately after I finished because I wanted to know if he got it right. She said it felt like he really understood women and got into this characters head completely. I would love to see the movie adapted to the big screen.

I’d love to talk about all his books in great detail – A Long Way Down, Slam, Juliet Naked – bit there is much more to him than even his wonderful books.

A couple years ago Nick Hornby wrote an original screenplay for a sweet, romantic, sad, beautiful film called An Education. It was Carey Mulligan’s star making performance. This film put her on the map, and rightfully so. She was amazing in it.

Hornby, an avid music lover, wrote a book of essays about his favorite songs called Songbook. He chose a song by Ben Folds Five called Smoke. This started a friendship between him and Folds that resulted in Hornby writing a song for William Shatner on the album Has Been that Folds produced. Later they went on to work together on an entire album. Horny wrote the lyrics, Folds wrote the music and performed the songs. The result was Lonely Avenue, a great addition to Folds’s already impressive catalog.

It seems there is nothing Hornby can’t do. Whatever comes next you know I will be there.I just hope that he doesn’t give up one type of writing to focus on another.

I Miss The 80’s


Sure, the clothes and hair were big and bad but the 80’s were a simpler time. I’m trying not to idealize the decade in my head. I’m really not. But I think that the 80’s are the last time we will see the type of innocence that children had back then.

During that time in my life people were friendlier, neighborhoods were safer, music was just starting to experiment with synthesized sound, and movies were awesome. The cold war was at its height creating a sort of togetherness and fear we never got from our post 9/11 world. It was an interesting time.

Growing up in the 80’s was fun and weird all at once. Kids my age were so affected by movies like Red Dawn and Iron Eagle that we not only wanted to be patriot but we were paranoid that our neighbors could be Russian spies. There was an elderly couple who lived across the street from my family. They were very kind, making cookies for the kids, sewing homemade teddy bears and selling them in the neighborhood, and always smiling. I wasn’t convinced. I truly believed that they were Russian spies sent here in a mission to brainwash the children in the neighborhood by putting certain chemicals in the cookies to make us more open to suggestion. I also believed that they were putting cameras in their homemade teddy bears and communicating with Russia via morse code by turning their porch light on and off repeatedly. I may have been a little paranoid.

The 80’s, aside from paranoia, was also the last decade where kids spent more time outside using their creativity to have fun rather than sitting inside playing video games, not to mention that if we wanted to see porn it was a lot harder to come by (no pun intended) as the internet was still just a dream in the mind of a young Al Gore. Technology has tainted our youth in bad way. They learn about things too early, they’re lazier, and they’re much more disrespectful.

The music in the 80’s was different too. It may not have been as veiled or clean as the music from the 50’s but it wasn’t all as overt as the music is now. There is no subtlety left in music anymore. Even N.W.A. had songs without a single swear word. And it sounded more musical than a drum best with a weird noise in the background like so much of hip hop today. Rock music was fun back then, too. So much of it was just about having fun and was done in a way that is much lighter than the decade that followed.

Movies were great back then. It was less about remakes and franchises and more about making fun movies. Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Gremlins, Goonies, Airplane!, The Terminator, Conan, Steve Martin movies, Ghostbusters, Stripes, Caddyshack, and the horror boom of the decade. It really was a great time to be a genre fan with a new Friday The 13th and Nightmare On Elm Street happening just about every year. Plus, it was the decade if the action star with great movies like Commando, Rambo, Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, and many more.

These days we are treated to inferior remakes of many of these films, it sequels that can’t hold a candle to the originals. Back then original product was king. Now, branding is king. You have a brand to sell you might just get it done. If you want to make something fresh and new good luck even getting a meeting.

Sure, the 80’s is known as the “Me Decade” filled with cocaine and greed. But there is that flip side, the side that lived in middle class suburbia. That side of the decade remembers the joy and innocence of time when things were simpler.

My Writing Process


It’s hard to say exactly what inspires me to sit down and come up with a story. With Welcome To Deadsville it was the opening scene. It came to me while carpooling with my writing partner. With the slasher movie we’re writing it was more like “hey, let’s write a slasher movie” and then I thought about bear traps. It all came together from there. For the SciFi comedy we are writing it was driving past an old Drive-In theater that is now closed down. For The Malignant Spirit it was me thinking about how horrible we are as a human race and how, if demons exist, they’re not really needed anymore. We have no need to be tempted. We are bad enough on own. With our road trip comedy it was simply that we loved Vacation, Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion, Grosse Point Blank, and Planes Trains & Automobiles.

The only constant in my process, and now Brian’s, is music. After coming up with the story I make myself a soundtrack of songs that are both fitting for the film and inspirational in writing scenes. The music can range from classic rock to old school country to rap and anything in between.

An example would be a subplot for our road trip comedy. There’s an alcoholic girlfriend of one of the principal characters. To inspire while writing the scenes I chose the following tracks – The Queen And I by Gym Class Heroes, I Was Thinking I Could Clean Up For Christmas by Aimee Mann, Drinking As Religion by Mason Jennings, Pile On The Hangover by The Rugburns, and a few others. It really helps us to get into the mindset of the characters.

When we were sitting down to write Welcome To Deadsville the first song I thought of was Lake Of Fire by The Meat Puppets. When putting together The Malignant Spirit I started with songs about serial killers. Skinned by Blind Melon, John Wayne Gacy Jr. by Sufjan Stevens were where it started for me. Then I turned to old country and spirituals, after that it was on to death metal, anything that I could find about God or devils.

For the personal soundtrack to use while writing the SciFi comedy I’m having a harder time. I thought about Unmarked Helicopters by Soul Coughing, The Alien Song by Milla Jovovich and a few others but that one has been a tough nut to crack.

The other thing that helps the process along is having a partner to spitball ideas with. Some nights Brian and I will sit down and just talk about an idea and have the basic throughline and characters for a story in about a half hour. Then we use 3×5 cards and a corkboard to put everything in order. It helps to see a timeline for the story, something you can reference the entire time you’re writing.

Music And Movies – like a tandem bicycle


It’s a shame that aftermarket has raised the price of licencing songs for movies. It’s harder and more expensive to get a song you know fits perfectly for the scene you wrote. Even still, it’s possible. You just have to think outside the box.

When Brian and I were writing Welcome To Deadsville there was one song we had in mind for the opening titles. It’s not a big song…or at least it wasn’t when it was originally released. Then Nirvana covered it in their Unplugged performance on MTV. That song is Lake Of Fire by The Meat Puppets. We could never afford the Nirvana version of the song, and, honestly, we wouldn’t want it. The original is amazing. And it is not unheard of for bands, even bigger ones than The Meat Puppets, to give up rights to their songs if it works for the movie. Look at Behind The Mask. The end of the film has the brilliant Psycho Killer by Talking Heads playing over the end credits. That was a micro-budget film and yet they agreed to allow the song to play in it.

Sure we have some other songs we want in our movie – Dead Man’s Party by Oingo Boingo, The Fall by The Swell Season, Everything About You by Ugly Kid Joe. Even if we couldn’t get any of those I would fight tooth and nail to see that Lake Of Fire makes it into my film.

If you notice, most movies and television shows anymore have a tendency to pick music by bands they hope will he the next big thing rather than go with established artists that cost more. Most of the time it works. The TV series Chuck did that beautifully. Blitzen Trapper, The Shins, Edward Sharpe, and many others were used very well during the run of the show. Other shows use music for comedic effect. The zombie episode of Community had Abba songs running throughout. Creator Dan Harmon stated that the songs cost so much that they couldn’t put in the budget so he paid out of his own pocket just to have them there because he believed in the episode. Unfortunately, in the indie movie world, our pockets are usually lined with lint and business cards. So no paying out of pocket for The Meat Puppets in our case.

Here’s something I’ve seen in some movies or shows. You want a song for your project? Hire the band as extras. Or write a scene where they perform. Usually that will help offset the cost of the song and they can show their friends the movie they were in. Or hire them to do the whole soundtrack. Queen did for Flash Gordon and Highlander. Tom Petty did the whole soundtrack for She’s The One. It gives them a chance to showcase their work a bit more and you get some cool new music to put in your project.

The last option – make friends with local bands I’m your area. Everyone is dying to break in. They may not even have a record deal yet. If they have some songs that would work for the story you’re telling it’s a win win.