The latest entries are first. Click on the date of an entry to see the pictures from the shoot.
October 8, 2005:
Tonight we attended Blood Moon Rising's Blood Fest 2005 for a screening of No Trespassing 2: No Exit. The audience enjoyed it. One person came up to me afterwards during the party and told me that he came from New York to New Jersey just to see it because he is a fan of Light & Dark. That was no small feat either considering the monsoon like weather he had to travel through to get there. Anyway, that put a smile on my face.
Things have been pretty crappy lately. I am unemployed from my day job (they packed up and moved operations to Wisconsin) and am seeking employment with a video production house or any job for that matter. Good old unemployment says that since I have a business name that I have an opportunity to get employment so they disqualified me. I guess they don't know what it's like to be struggling filmmaker.
The event was a lot of fun. Jude, Kenny, Mike Gingold, some friends and I all piled into Jude's car and headed to Boonton. They had a different take on the event this year. There was the usual live bands and movies but the decision to use the vending area for a party was a smart idea. It gave us a chance to mingle with the audience. Cake, chips and soda were served adding to the homespun atmosphere offsetting it from the more recent overcrowded venues that I've attended. It was a nice change of pace. The wine was uncorked and Al Vermette toasted the attendees. A cake with Blood Moon Rising 5th Anniversary written on it was cut and served. We stayed a while after before embarking on our treacherous journey back home in the torrential downpour.
Blood Moon Rising gave a nice review to No Trespassing 2 in their Fall 2005 issue. Not bad for a short that was only planned as a DVD extra.
September 18, 2005:
I am sitting here staring at my teeth, well Chopper's teeth necklace to be exact. Jude returned the prop back to me when I saw him today. It's hard to believe that we're a few weeks away from the anniversary of the wrap of Fairview Falls. Today I did what hopefully will be the last pickup shot. It was simple shot of Jude's Alero coming down a street at night. I needed it for a segue into an existing shot of Mike Gingold, Mike Lane and Kerri Taylor in a car. It's nice to be done with it. Somehow I have a feeling though that aside from editing, this movie is far from over. Maybe I'll brighten up once I finally get to editing it. Some of the shots look really good and others can be better remedied with some of the new software I recently purchased. Only time will tell.
June 13, 2005:
No Trespassing 2: No Exit screened at the Two Boots Pioneer Theater tonight as part of FearsMag.com's One Dark and Stormy Night film festival. It was definitely a crowd pleaser despite the fact that I hadn't properly tested a film looked version of it and it came off too dark in many places. We had a good time though. The directors Q&A was cut short for time but we all posed for a photo op outside of the theater afterwards. I learned today that I'm being laid off from my day job at the end of August so now I'm going to start planning to do any of the DVD extras and post for Fairview Falls and Sins of the Father while I'm on hiatus. Once they are far enough along I'll go back to the daily grind of a day job. It seems getting laid off by businesses going under is becoming a pattern with me. Well, the break allowed me to get The Tenement finished last time. We'll see how much I get done this time around.
February 17, 2005:
Well, once again there has been a rather unlucky twist in fate. I was rushed to the hospital this past week for severe chest pains. I've undergone just about every lab rat test known to mankind and still have a few more to complete to rule out the possibilities of heart problems. At the very least, it's pulled cartilage and muscles in my chest as a result of heavy lifting at my day job - a job that I endure to pay the bills while I pursue my real dreams. Anyway, this recent misfortune has cost me the Island of Dr. Rowe shoot this weekend. So for now, it's postponed until the summer.
To top it all off, my hard drive recently crashed causing me to lose the last 3 years of my work. I'm looking at a bout $2500 to recover the data if that's even possible. One data recovery lab already told me to forget about it. So enjoy the Fairview Falls pictures on this site because unless I get this drive recovered you're not going to be seeing anymore. I should know the final verdict in a week. Until then I'm just going to bang my head against the wall. Or maybe, I'll let the road raged, psychopath driver (that tried to drag me out of my car because I dared to back up causing him to slow down from 80 miles an hour) do it for me.
And lets not forget that I chipped a tooth eating a tuna fish sandwich and hit a 2 foot deep pot hole and bent my rim. When your life really sucks just think of me.
January 25, 2005:
I spoke with the last of the cast today and it looks like everyone is good to go provided we don't get screwed by the weather again. Now it's just a waiting game, one that I can't wait to be done with at this point.
January 23, 2005:
Bill called me today to say that February 19th and 26th look good to reschedule to. It looks like the 19th will be the most agreeable with everyone. I spoke with almost everyone and they are free. I think we will be okay unless we have another friggin' snowstorm.
January 22, 2005:
God has flipped me the bird once again! A year and a week ago we had The Tenement commentary scheduled to do with the entire leading cast as a one shot deal to make a deadline. We had a nor'easter. Well, guess what? It happened again. 6 AM this morning we pulled the plug because the forecast is calling for 18 to 20 inches of snow to fall over the next 2 days beginning at 11 AM. Needless to say, everyone was disappointed but the lives of my cast and crew are far too important to risk for the sake of completing this short.
But alas, all is not lost. Upon hearing of about the cancelled shoot, Bill Diamond decided to postpone striking the set until February. Now it's up to me to see if I can reschedule everyone once I hear back from him with the available dates. Hopefully, we'll be able to pull this off yet.
I dropped Joe off at the train before the snow kicked in at 1 PM. Mike made it home safe and sound as well.
After freezing most of the day, I discovered that the airflow vent was clogged. Now I can thaw out long enough to freeze my balls back off outside shoveling. Diana and I already shoveled about 5 inches in 4 hours. What a fine weekend this turned out to be. It might get even worse yet because my landlord is concerned that there might not be enough oil to last until Monday. It's a good thing I have extra blankets.
My day was capped off by having to eat the props for dinner - a plate with a big kielbasa served with 2 giant meatballs on either side. It was a very phalic meal.
January 21, 2005:
I spoke with Brian today about scaling back on the makeup due to the impending weather so that we could finish well. We ended up agreeing that we shouldn't compromise. I just hope the weather will hold up.
John and Mike came to my apartment tonight to rehearse for a few hours. We also did the final wardrobe fittings. That might have been the gayest experience of my life. Now don't get me wrong, I have no problems with homosexuality but it was pretty disturbing to see two really hairy guys in drag especially when one of them was in a woman's bathing suit and seemed to be having too much fun with it. Anyway, the rehearsal went well. We worked out a few bugs and made a more few revisions. John and Mike work well together. The scene is going to be hilarious.
Mike stayed the night. Joe, after missing the ferry and a few other mishaps, finally made it up by train and Diana picked him up at 1:20 AM. We froze our asses off all night. Something was up with the heat.
January 20, 2005:
Diana fitted Jude today. He called me and told me how much he would like to kill me and that he should never have let me talk him into doing it. He still agreed to dress up in drag but if he heard anyone utter the words "braids" or "pigtails" he was going to walk out. Now we just have to fit John and Mike and we are all set. I'm getting worried about the winter storm forecast for this weekend.
January 19, 2005:
You know what they say about the best laid plansÖ Iím already freaking out because they are talking about a noríeaster for this weekend. Iím smelling Tenement commentary all over again! The dialogue revisions have been finalized. I talked to Bill to confirm that the studio would even be open this weekend with the impending threat of the storm. He lives 2 miles from his studio and said that unless it gets bad he's going to be there. I'm hoping we won't have to call this whole thing off now that such much preparation has been done. It's a one shot deal so if we have to kill the shoot then it means we wait until the summer and revise the idea and shoot it elsewhere or not at all. It' such a funny idea that it would be a shame now not to see it come to fruition.
January 18, 2005:
Leon had to back out but I saw it coming due to obligations he already had for that evening. Thatís too bad. At least we still have enough people to make the scene work. I have to work out the details about getting Joe up here from the city and finalize the wardrobe. It sucks because I canít do fittings for John and Mike until I see them Friday night. I hate having to wait until the last minute. They are coming over to my apartment to rehearse. Tonight Iíll work on changing the dialogue now that Leon is not involved. It shouldnít be too hard. His dialogue will go to Joe.
Even though this weekend is shaping up to be a really fun time, I canít wait until itís over so I can dive right back into Sins of the Father. Speaking of Sins, I received a disturbing email today. It contained a link to an obituary for Sins of the Father and Fairview Falls actor, Michael Valenzano. The date of his death was listed as the last time I spoke with him. I immediately called his cell phone and was relieved when he answered. It seems it is a practical joke or I talked to a dead man on the phone. He laughed it off while moaning ďbraaaaains!Ē He also told me this wouldnít be the first time someone played a joke like that. Someone once listed him on the IMDB as a porn actor.
January 17, 2005:
I spoke with Alan to finalize his wardrobe. Diana picked up clothes for John, Jude and Mike but I suspect not all of it is going to fit. Brian gave me the finalized storyboards and showed me more of the makeup designs that he had in mind. I signed off on them. Things are going well.
January 15, 2005:
Brian and I storyboarded the short shot by shot. We even choreographed some of the movements. He showed me more makeup designs and then we relaxed for the rest of the evening.
January 14, 2005:
I finished the screenplay and went over the revisions with Mike Lane. I emailed it over to Brian for his input. I spoke with Alan and he offered the use of some Hawaiian style props. Anything that could keep the budget down would be great. Bill contacted me and we finalized the arrangements. We would have the studio from 8 AM to 6 PM.
January 13, 2005:
John called me and told me that he had another obligation the day of shooting and now wasnít going to be able to do it unless he could get out by a certain time. We eventually were able to work around that but not before we brought Sean Patrick into the fold. Sean was to be a replacement for John at first but we fell in love with the idea of a 7-foot tall drag queen so much we couldnít pass up the opportunity. Now heís one of the main queens.
January 12, 2005:
Brian sent me over the first makeup concept for one of the guys. It was rather amusing. He used the cover of the TV Guide with Keifer Sutherland. Keither looks kind of cute now. Iíll never be able to watch 24 the same way again.
January 11, 2005:
Knowing how busy I was, Mike fleshed out an idea for the script and called it ARKís Island Ė ARK after Alan Rowe Kelly. It had some great ideas. The original idea was to have a vacationing couple. We ended up combining all of our ideas and turning into two guys on Spring Break. Thatís when we knew we wanted John Sudol. John had just contacted me a few days before saying how much he would like to work with me again. It was pretty funny telling him how he would go from The Tenementís rapist to a nerdy guy who becomes a drag queen. The clincher was when I told him he needed to wear a bikini. He still agreed. Johnís a great sport. Heís willing to try just about anything. I called Mike and told him John would do it. I told him I wanted to nix the idea of the ďgirlsĒ being zombies and make them more like Frankensteinís creature. Mike had an idea for them to talk and not be like regular zombies, which was great but didnít quite mesh. So it was decided to make them more like zombie slaves.
Thatís when the whole debate about the term zombie kicked in. I meant zombie like voodoo mind control and he thought people would automatically think living dead. We fleshed it out enough that I donít think there will be any confusion. I wanted to spoof the Island of Dr. Moreau but instead of man beasts they are changed into drag queens. Mike came up with the perfect title Ė The Island of Dr. Rowe starring Alan Rowe Kelly, Mike Lane and John Sudol.
January 10, 2005:
I made a few more calls to make. Kenny loved the idea too. He pitched some character ideas that were great and we later incorporated into the script. I called Leon Taylor and asked if he would like to participate and he seemed very enthusiastic about it despite concerns of a possible scheduling conflict. Mike suggested that we get director Alan Rowe Kelly involved with the project. I agreed that it was a fantastic idea. Alan has a great personality that I think will translate well onscreen. I really like his movie Iíll Bury You Tomorrow and his performance in it.
January 9, 2005:
The storyline had been mostly fleshed out by the weekendís end. Mike Lane was in. That was a given. Brian Spears would do the makeup. We knew we wanted John Sudol, Joe Lauria, and Kenny Williams right off the bat. I called Jude Pucillo on the way home and told him about the idea. He thought it was funny until I sprang it on him that I thought it would be funny to have him play a drag queen Ė an idea that he was lukewarm about. One call and Joe was in. He agreed that it would be a lot of fun. So far, so good.
January 7, 2005:
I was packing up and getting ready to go to the Chiller Theatre convention in East Rutherford, NJ when I received a call from Bill Diamond. He asked if I could extend an apology on his behalf to Kevin Clement (Chillerís organizer) because he got the dates mixed up and had to fly to Key West for a shoot. I offered to promote his latest creation, Bill Diamond's Monster TV, for him since he couldnít make the show and he was very grateful so much so that when I arrived at his Cornwall, NY studio he graciously offered me the use of his studio and an awesome desert island set before he struck it. I would have been insane to turn it down considering it was already prelit for day and night shots. All I had to do was come up with an idea and walk in and do it.
The rest of the weekend was spent coming up with ideas. Somehow, we went from hot naked cannibal women to zombie drag queens.
December 31, 2004:
I recently passed out a few copies of a makeshift DVD of No Trespassing 2: No Exit to those involved. I thought it might make a neat holiday gift. Now it's time to gear up for Chiller and a whole new year. I have one pick up shot left to do. Thank God this year is finally over!
I'm truly a glutton for punishment. I no sooner finish shooting the movie and I dive right into shooting a short to include on the movie DVD. The latest creation was No Trespassing 2: No Exit, a sequel to the "Korman" short featured on The Tenement DVD. Things went pretty smoothly. We met at 7 AM for makeup, started shooting at 10 AM and wrapped at 5 PM. We have 2 days of brief pickups to do this week and then it's wrapped. The premise is pretty simple. A horny couple break into a haunted house attraction where a killer is hiding out. We used the haunted house that Jude puts on every year at the Canopus Country Club as the setting. Prebuilt sets, you can't go wrong! We ran a little longer shooting than expected so Joe Policastro had to leave for work before we finished. We'll add him back in with the pickups. The short should be under 10 minutes once completed. It would be nice to get it done for Halloween since the trailer seems like it will be too involved to get done in time. My time is pretty much divided now between the movie stuff and my responsibilities as co-director of the local film festival. Anyway, it was refreshing to do a shoot without the nonsense.
Afterthoughts (October 9, 2004):
It has been a week since principal photography has wrapped and I have had time to digest things better. During the last week I have received numerous emails from the cast thanking me for the experience that they have had on the movie. Some have even gone as far as saying how it has been life changing for the better. This makes me feel better too. I thought things ended on an ugly note and perhaps they haven't. It's difficult to objectively look at things some time when you're so close to them.
I'll feel even better once I wade through the 15 hours of unwatched footage. The web site is finally up to date and I'm trying to build the ambition to cut the first trailer in time for Halloween and potential distributors despite the fact that the movie isn't not likely to be out for 2 years. I have Sins of the Father to edit first. I'm trying to enjoy what little break I have before I plunge into editing it in November.
Next weekend we will shoot a Korman short for the Fairview Falls DVD. We will use Jude's haunted house that is set up at the Canopus Country Club. It's always fun to do the Korman stuff because it's unscripted and allows us to let loose. I'll be casting this week and using some existing cast members as well.
I am not as upset now at the events that took place last week. I don't understand what triggered them. I don't think we'll ever know nor do I care at this point. I have to embrace the outcome and make the best of it. It has been a learning experience. I know now to screen actors more vigorously. You can't let a bad apple spoil the bunch.
I think the aim for the next one is to really try and get an investor or to at least have a bigger budget. The impact of budget restrictions were often reflected in the attitude of the actors. Things could have been better technically as well though I think the look and sound of this movie blows the others away.
Yea, it will be a while for me to unwind with all the undue stress I have had. My car was hit again recently, this time in the front. That makes two hits in six days and at the same location. What's the chances of having that happen? Chiller is coming up soon. That will be a good chance to gauge our presence in the indie horror scene. I just want to sit back, chug a few beers and have a good time. I think I've earned it.
I wish I could say that the production ended on a happy note but it didn't. Of all my movies, this was the most difficult to get through. People's true colors really showed up by the end of the night.
The morning started with an early wake up by Mike who along with Kerri and Brett, had come up the night before. Mike revealed to me that Brett's head was indeed shaved after all. I was instantly at ease once I saw that the wig worked. So far, so good. No phone calls from actors canceling or driving into elephants or any other such nonsense. No. No phone calls indeed.
I wonder if it was because it was the last day of shooting that so many people took the liberty of showing up late. At this point, I don't care. Something that has bothered me from the start is that there were individuals who didn't seem to treat the movie like work. If you can't make it to your job for whatever reason you would call your boss, right? I guess not when it comes to making low budget movies.
Jude, Joe Lauria, Joe Policastro, Gene met me at Cimarron Ranch to set up for the party scene before the other actors arrived. Diana and Mike waited at the VFW for them. Roughly 4 hours passed before we began shooting due to actors being late, actors who didn't even show up and having to rewrite a character out of 20 pages of the screenplay on the spot. Thanks to Mike Lane for his help with that one. I only found out the next day (because I called) that one of the actor's friends died. I should have received a call but I didn't. Everyone knew how important this shoot was.
The pressure was on. It was a cold and miserable day. We had our work cut out for us. It didn't make things any easier when early on a fight broke out between a few of the actors which Jude and I quickly put to a stop. One of them threatened to leave. That was nipped in the bud when Jude blocked the cars in with his hearse. The shoot was quickly going to hell. I had to do something fast to reel it in. It was time to crack the whip - something I should have done a long time ago.
The hammer dropped and that was the end of it. Back to work. No more screwing around. Thirteen hours later the shoot wrapped to a burst of applause.
It was a difficult shoot to get through not only because of it being long and the tension between actors but really because of the last minute rewrites. They threw everyone off. It was also apparent that a few didn't study their lines at all. What could have been an amazing scene turned out to be a good scene. Will it be amazing once it reaches the cutting room? Only time will tell.
It's a big weight off of my chest now that this scene has come to pass. There is so much more I could have done had we had not lost those four hours. Now it's up to me to tell the best story I possibly can with the footage that I have and I have about 50 hours of footage to do with. Maybe then things will truly have a happy ending. So to all those who stuck by me from the beginning and proved your dedication time and time again, I applaud you. May your careers blossom and you look back fondly on this experience. To all the others, I wish you all the best on the next movie set you're on because there is no director out there who will put up with half the shit that I put up with.
September 30, 2004:
It's 2 days to the final big scene and even my wife and I can't escape the "Light & Dark curse" unscathed. Yesterday, the transmission went on Diana's car. It's going to run over $2700 to put a new rebuilt transmission in. Try paying for that while financing a movie. I guess it means eating out of soup and vegetable cans a little while longer. It's a good thing my parents baby sit my daughter. She eats like a queen by the time we pick her up.
Then the icing on the cake - I'm leaving work yesterday when someone rammed into the back of my car. It was some kid talking on a cell phone not paying any attention. Now yours truly can barely move with a shoot just a few days away. I got whiplash and pulled a muscle in my back. My car accident is the fourth to occur.
On a lighter note, Kerri emailed me to say that Disney postponed Brett's haircut until after the shoot. Good for me, bad for him. It cost $300 between buying the wig and having it cut to fit him. And on top of that, he's on call without a shoot schedule for the next month. Welcome to the big league!
I'm pretty much ready for this weekend. All of the props are accounted for. Gene rescued some of them from his car before it was totaled. Yes, his car is also among the list of fatalities from the previous journal entry. He wiped out on the Taconic State Parkway at 3:30 AM last week. Jude bailed him out. Luckily, he's okay.
We haven't heard from Dana since her dad passed away. Brian was more in touch with her than I was. It's a whole makeup bonding thing I guess. I haven't heard from Michael Scarpelli yet either regarding his sister. So many of us have such chaos going on in our lives. Fairview Falls seems more real than ever.
Mike Lane has come up with some 80 or so questions to fire off at me this Sunday for an interview for the documentary. It's based on an idea that Brian came up with. The difference is that Brian has seen the very personal side of me and wants to capture that. I don't know if I'm ready yet. Mike's interview will be an experiment.
Paul Bistoff recently did a three and a half hour interview with me for MonstersAtPlay.com which hasn't been published yet. I shared things with him that I haven't really talked to anyone about before. I'm interested in seeing how the article turns out.
I think I have really grown over the course of Fairview Falls. I'm starting to really develop my own cinematic style and in many ways this movie has been therapeutic. It has awakened old wounds in me that I am learning now how to heal. There are little pieces of me in all of my movies. I think it's the same for the actors too. I now understand that it's no coincidence that they were drawn to their roles. Many of them have told me that the movie has helped them focus on what they really want to achieve or that they have discovered things about themselves while working on the production.
Light & Dark is like a family. We have our squabbles but we usually end up making up at the end. Friendships have emerged from the experience. If I have learned anything from it all, it's this - to overcome the unexpected you have to face it head on. You take it day by day. As bad as it can get, it can only get better and someone always has it worse off than you. A friend is recovering from brain cancer. I wake up in the morning and hate to go to my day job and feel like crap most of the time but hey, it could be worse. At least I have my health assuming my blood pressure doesn't skyrocket this weekend.
September 27, 2004:
It's countdown time again to see what can go wrong before the last scene that we
have been trying to shoot. The last time I did this an actor cancelled just
days before the shoot. And here I thought the day would be cancelled due
to the hurricane. Let's do a recap. During the course of production there have
been 4 car accidents, 4 actors family members have died, 1 actor's family
members were attacked by a knife wielding maniac, 1 actor almost lost his eye
during a hiking accident, an actor who had 2 herniated discs preventing him from
attending rehearsal, an actor was arrested, me and a few others came close
to being arrested (for a misunderstanding), countless cancellations and
rescheduled shoots due to rain and actor conflicts and an actor who needed his
head shaved for another movie.
September 15, 2004:
Today I received some disturbing news. You try not to get to close to the subject matter that you write about so it's really mind blowing when something like it happens to someone you know. I had sent an email to Michael Scarpelli to schedule a reshoot for October 16th. As it turns out, he is in Miami right now. This past Monday, his sister and brother-in-law were attacked in their home by a knife wielding lunatic. It's very unsettling when art imitates life. In Fear of the Dark we had a scene where Michael's movie family is attacked. This is the very reason I do these movies - to explore man's inhumanity to man. Well, there's no rush for this pickup shot. Family is more important. Speaking of rescheduling, it looks as if this coming weekend is going to be another wash. A hurricane is on its way.
September 11, 2004:
After this movie I should have learned to expect the unexpected. So it's no surprise that things didn't go exactly according to plan. It's the opening scene in the movie set in the 1960s. Ed, Michael Scarpelli and Michael Scarpelli, Jr. are supposed to be at the Bradbury Circus Fairgrounds where little Oscar gets abducted and watches his father get eaten alive. It's a little hard to shoot when your villain is a no show - sort of. It would figure that the night we go to shoot, the fair has record breaking crowds. There was no parking forcing people to drive 4 or 5 minutes down the road and return by shuttle bus. Unfortunately, the whole affair was so improperly orchestrated that it was not apparent as to where you were supposed to drive to. Ed circled the place a few times and finally gave up returning home in disgust - not that I blame him. There I was with father and son ready to shoot but with no one to fill the villain's costume.
While praying for some miracle to occur, we decided to shoot everything else leading up to the scene's climax. It proved a little more difficult than I anticipated. A live band was playing forcing me to move to a different shooting location on the grounds. Several extra takes were shot to insure that the audio was clean and useable. It was tough to shoot. Since it was a period piece I had to pay very close attention to what was in the background visually and audibly. Aside from the few interruptions from passersby, it went pretty smooth. Little Michael gave a dead on performance. Now the hard part was over. It was time to shoot Ed's part and it was pretty obvious that he wasn't coming.
I ended up donning the killer suit and Diana shot the scene. I showed her how to frame the shot. It worked. I wish it had been me shooting it since there was more that I wanted to do with the shot but it will have to do. Mike Lane has always told me from the beginning - have a backup. Unfortunately, one couldn't be found last minute. So here we are, down to the very last scene to be shot - the party scene. Many of us are taking bets that it won't happen next weekend. Only time will tell.
The latest disaster that rounded out the weekend was the discovery that a key shot from a previous scene has a major continuity error in it. No one caught the fact that the actor didn't have on his makeup during the shot. I realized this when I was readying pictures to put on the web. We are trying to line up a reshoot for October 16th. I have to wait for Brian to wrap on the Media Blasters movie. If for some reason we can't do it then or the following weekend then I get stuck waiting until the end of November. Aaah! This movie will never end!
September 9, 2004:
I'm excited that I am already being approached by distributors inquiring about Fairview Falls and Sins of the Father. It's a good sign. Maybe the winds are changing.
We all seem to be having a tough time these days. Ed's father is in the ICU. Despite the turmoil in his personal life, he agreed to help me out on quick shot this weekend. I can relax a little more now. I'm starting to shake off some of my fears about this movie.
The movie has taken a toll on many of the cast. It intrigues me how many of them are so much like their characters. Were they drawn to their roles because of the similarity to their own lives or is art simply imitating life? The themes in Fairview Falls resonate in everyday life. It's hard not to find something to identify with in the story.
I always thought my life was cursed. Sometimes it can be a self fulfilling prophecy. A lot of bad shit has happened to me over the years. I don't know if I necessarily believe in the whole karma thing. Really bad things have happened to me that I certainly didn't deserve. Is the reason that they happened to make me a stronger person? Maybe. It has definitely influenced my filmmaking. I see the influence that the actors lives have on their performances. Good or bad, like the characters in my movie we all share a bond. We all have major obstacles in our lives that we have had to and are trying to overcome. Somehow making this movie has been cathartic for many of us. It has awakened feelings that we didn't know were there. Just like making the film, it has been a learning experience. So, were they drawn to their roles because of the similarity to their own lives or is art simply imitating life? Whatever the reason, I think Fairview Falls will leave a lasting impression on the cast.
September 6, 2004:
Itís nearing the end of Labor Day weekend. I thought that on Monday I would be able to relax. Brett and Kerri had went back home Sunday evening. Mike Lane went to Brianís house with me to hang out and watch a movie. Mike was restless upon our return to my house that night. I was tired still from the weekend. Mike convinced me to throw on some of the footage. It was a good thing we did. It turned out that the tape with the footage containing the climatic shot from the mini-golf scene somehow had been damaged. The climax needed to be reshot in the morning because the mini-golf course was closing for the season.
I woke up early Monday morning and called Gene, Jude and Joe Policastro. Joe finally returned my call around 10 AM and we scramble to get there before people started showing up. We were in luck. No one was there and we were able to redo the shots. They even came out better the second time around.
All summer long the weather was good. Now that we are down to a few final scenes, the weather is crap. Iím planning to do this coming weekendís shoot rain or shine. What choice do I have if I ever want to see the movie completed?
Most of us arrived at 7:30 AM. A few were late. An important lesson learned is to make your call times earlier on important shoot days. Everyone arrived including Michael Sirow. He hadnít hit a buffalo or anything like that.
The weather was as dismal as the day before. The lighting in the scenes would match. I would have preferred it to be sunny but at least there would be lighting continuity. Now we just had to get the shots done in a timely fashion because the sky threatened to rain.
We arrived at the mini-golf course and easily completed our scenes. Now the hard part arrived. There was still a lot of dialogue that we had to shoot in the parking lot. We kept getting suspicious looks from the manager so after a few lines into the scene we scrapped it and moved to another location. The entire shoot took about 6 hours to complete Ė almost double what I thought it would take. This is problematic. If we take this long for the party scene we are going to be there forever. I have already decided to move the party scene shoot times up by 3 hours and consider a backup plan should it be raining. At this point I have been able to get the cast to commit to a few more weeks. The reality is that if we donít finish the movie by October 2nd, it may never get finished.
The rain mocks me with each callous tear that streaks down the windowpane and the trees shake their heads in disbelief as gusts of wind carry away what might be the last hope of this movie ever being completed. This past weekend held further disappointment. A major scene had to be postponed again.
All week long I checked Weather.com. Things were looking pretty good. I emailed and called everyone to confirm the weekend shooting schedule. Wednesday rolled around and I still hadnít heard from Michael Sirow. Now Iím pretty neurotic so when I donít hear from someone after a day or two I get pretty bent out of shape. Now here it was the night before a shoot and I hadnít received any return phone calls or emails.
I stared at my AOL email dumbfounded. What the hell was I going to do if he didnít show? Was he out of town and hadnít gotten my messages? We spoke two weeks before. I was certain he knew we were shooting. Suddenly it occurred to me to check the email status on AOL. Sure enough, he had received all of my emails but why hadnít he replied? I noticed that he had read the last desperate attempt to reach him just 15 minutes ago. I dialed his number. The phone rang and rang. As I was about to hang up, I heard ďhelloĒ from the other end.
As it turned out, Michaelís aunt had passed away. He hadnít had time to reach me with all the commotion. Thankfully Michael was willing to shoot as much as he could over the weekend. Unfortunately the party scene, the biggest scene in the movie, would have to be postponed. This was disastrous because most of the other actors had conflicts with most of the possible future dates. One of the actors may even be relocating to LA in a month or so. Another actor is scheduled to go in for surgery soon.
I tried to focus on what could be done now. We met Saturday morning to reshoot the park scene. Weather.com was incorrect. It was not bright and sunny, as it had promised. A bad feeling grew in the pit of my stomach as the scene unfolded. The lighting may not match the other shots that were yet to come. It was overcast. We wrapped the shoot a little later than expected and I set off to meet Michael for what was supposed to be an intense makeup scene. Unfortunately, the makeup didnít ďagreeĒ with him and we had to resort to using less makeup. The final result is not what I truly wanted but it will work. Brian did the best he could under the circumstances. An important lesson learned is to screen your actors more intensely for allergies to makeup, etc.
The last shot to do for the night was a reshoot of a quick car interior scene with Kerri, Mike Lane, and Mike Gingold. It couldnít be done until it was dark. The stress of the weekend was taking its toll on me. I guided Michael back to the main road but upon returning I had a panic attack and blacked out behind the wheel. Luckily I had slowed down prior and no one was around. No damage occurred to the car or the surroundings. Iím not a drinker but boy did I ever need one.
Of course I had one too many and found myself shouting at Mike Lane when he insisted on knowing when I was returning home for the evening shoot. I told him I would be there when it was dark. He replied, ďIt is dark.Ē I said that it had to be so dark that you couldnít see your hand in front of your face. He asked when that would be. I said I didnít know. He asked so when are you going to shoot. The whole conversation went in circles for about 15 minutes driving me crazier than ever. Finally I told him I would be there at midnight just to keep him quiet. He thought I was being snide and the argument continued until one of us hung up. I think it was me but I was a little too drunk to remember.
A significant amount of time passed. Now it was sufficiently dark and I was sober. I called Jude to meet me at the house with his Alero. Slight problem Ė I had mistakenly told him we were finished shooting for the day. He couldnít come. So after all of the headache I endured, we couldnít shoot the scene anyway. Mike Gingold had even gone through the trouble to grow his beard back for the scene.
Mike, Lisa and I returned back to my house where we all (Kerri, Brett, Diana, Mike Lane included) watched Satanís School for Girls that Kerri co-stars in. Thereís something really weird about watching a naked chick movie with your wife in the room and the actress thatís naked in the movie in the room especially with her boyfriend there. It was a fun way to relieve some stress until a minor verbal catfight ensued between actresses with Kerri taking the brunt of it. So much for relieving my headache.
Itís almost a week since I first talked to Michael and realized that I would have to cancel the party scene. I still have a headache. My moodís as gray as the sky.
You know you have a lot on your plate when you find yourself at a location that you shot at 2 years ago for a movie that hasnít been completed yet. We were at the Andersen house - a house that had been vacant since 1991.
I first stumbled onto this house when I took a wrong turn two years ago. What a find it was. The house looked like it was something right out of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I knocked on every door in the area until I located the owner of this abandoned property. Surprisingly enough he agreed to let us shoot there. We shot scenes for Sins of the Father over the course of 8 hours in 80 plus degree heat. The windows wouldnít open. The air was thick with the odor of must and dust. It was an incredible shoot. Now here we were two years later returning to the same house to shoot a scene that actually takes place before the Sins of the Father scenes.
I had been itching to shoot these scenes for some time. Two years later Peter Barker and Joe Lauria reunited to play father and son probably for the last time. The scene played out even better than I had anticipated. The atmosphere of the old house cast its magic on the actors. I think itís a hallmark scene for the series. I donít want to give anything away other than saying that the scene is a setup for Sins of the Father. In a fan geek sort of way, itís like that moment when Anakin Skywalker turns to the dark side. He accepts and embraces his fate.
After we finished shooting, I briefly interviewed Pete Barker for the DVD documentary. He told a story about the prior shoot in such a creepy way that it gave me chills. He has such a commanding on screen presence.
Brian was in all his glory that morning. He had been waiting to do Peteís makeup for some time. He says Pete has one of the best faces to work with. While we wrapped he aged Sandy Pasquale for her scenes. It had been two years since we last worked with her as well.
The final scenes for the day, which breezed by despite the heat and humidity, took place at my parentís house, which was used for Matthewís house. Again, I got to shoot a scene that I had been eagerly waiting for. It was a dinner scene with Alec, Matthew and Megan. The actors played great off one another. You could have cut the tension with a knife until the camera stopped rolling. Then all hell would break lose. With the way they carried on you would think that they were a real family. These were easily the most fun scenes to shoot. Sandy is a dream to work with. Sheís a real pro. Sandyís portrayal of a single mother harboring a dark secret was very convincing.
The day concluded with Joe Policastro doing a voice over for Matthew who briefly appears (though his face is not shown) in Sins of the Father. Now if only this coming weekendís reshoots are this easy Iíll actually be able to relax for once.
After Saturdayís disastrous turnout, I was hoping that things would get better. It was 7:30 AM and not a cloud was in the sky. Everyone was on time. Michael Sirow was minutes away. I exclaimed, ďHow could anything possibly go wrong?Ē Ring. Ring. I answered my cell phone. ďGlen, Iím really sorry.Ē It was Michael. ďI just hit a baby deer.Ē Two and a half hours later, someone from animal control finally showed up.
Herein lies the problem. Our first shoot for the day was to be at a mini-golf course. We didnít exactly have permission to be there. It turned out that they didnít really mind all the commotion we were making especially since we paid for a round of mini-golf. Anyway, my theory was how many people play mini-golf at 8 AM on a Sunday morning? The answer was no one. Not a single person came until about 10:30 AM when Michaelís arrival was followed not by one car or two cars but a bus FULL of people. Suddenly it was as if someone had rallied up the masses with a bullhorn and yelled ďfree mini-golf this way!Ē
We were able to get some of the shots completed before Joe Lauria had to get back to work in the city. That brings me to another point. Make sure that your actors have their entire day cleared so you donít have to rush through shots. That has been a big headache to contend with throughout the movie.
Now the main part of the scene had to be shot. Judy was in a sexy outfit that the guys had to ogle her in. She felt uncomfortable because there were so many people there watching her. Had it been earlier this would not have happened but the situation could not have been helped. Poor Brittney's shoe broke leaving her to hobble around from hole to hole. The sun got hotter and the crowd grew bigger. We suddenly were faced with a number of big problems. We had audio continuity issues since there were so many people talking in the background. The budget doesnít afford looping that would give decent results so we had to use the sound on location. With the number of people around we ran the risk of capturing their faces on camera. Without a release, you canít use their likeness. The afternoon sun grew with intensity casting unflattering shadows across the actorís eyes and making them squint. Finally, the location was supposed to be desolate for the sceneís climax to occur and be believable. There were way too many people around.
After having a sit down with the cast, it was decided that we should scrap the shoot and maximize our time by moving on. While most of the cast relaxed and had lunch, Brett and Joe Policastro joined me for two other scenes.
One scene was shot at Judeís house and involved the actors being attacked by an unseen foe. It was a troublesome shoot. We had to get the timing just right. Once we achieved that, we realized that Jude (who was doubling for the unseen foe) was showing too much in the shot. This was quickly remedied when Jude put on clothing similar to that of the character he was doubling for. Itís a quick shot so I think it will work. Itís all in the editing. This scene was supposed to have been shot on a future weekend. Shooting it today put us behind slightly but would save time down the road.
The next scene is a favorite of mine. The death of an animal in each of my movies has become a twisted, comedic gag. I think we might have topped Fear of the Darkís mouse smashing scene at least with the gross out factor.
We originally were going to shoot this scene at Brianís house simply because heís the only person that we know that had a mailbox in front of his house. My mailbox was down the road from my house. I suddenly had an idea. I ripped my mailbox off the post and then slapped it down in front of my house. It didnít look right though. Jude saved the day when he brought us to his auntís vacant house that had a stone wall in front of it. The mailbox looked as if it was perched there all along. Now we were pretty much back on schedule.
The afternoon sun began to shift casting wonderful shadows across the wall of the VFW. We had the perfect moment for a perfect shot with Brittney. She sat silently handcuffed with a lost expression upon her face. It was easily one of her best moments in the movie.
We raced 20 minutes away to our next location but the sun was at odds with us again. We began losing light about quarter of the way through the shoot as the sun began to set. We scrapped the shoot and called it a day. Now Labor Day weekend would have three major shoots that needed to be completed. The only interesting yet disturbing thing to come out of this shoot was the piles of bones that we found in the woods.
August 21, 2004:
Today sucked ass. It rained. There was rain and more rain. Endless rainÖ beating downÖ hardÖruining my #*@!*#! shoot!! Wasted food, time and energy. Everyone was on call waiting Ė waiting until I called and cancelled an entire dayís worth of shooting. All of the day shoots would go to the next day. The night shoot would go to Labor Day weekend. I had to rearrange the entire schedule. On top of it all, we have a ton of food thatís going to waste because it canít be kept until the next shooting weekend. What a headache.
The only fun thing that came out of the day was Mike Laneís ďOne Act Play Diner SceneĒ which we shot at the Canopus Country Club. Itís a riot. Mike did absurd impressions of the characters. He has impeccable comedic timing. I think it will make a really fun DVD extra.
August 15, 2004:
Iíd bet anything that Jude was praying for rain. He didnít sound too excited when I called him to say that we were shooting again. It was a good day too. We packed a lot of shooting in for the Sins of the Father documentary. Everything was going really well until I played back my answering machine and heard that the actress who played the nun had second thoughts about being in the movie. This taught me a very important lesson. ALWAYS GET THE ACTORíS SIGNED RELEASE BEFORE YOU SHOOT. Iím usually a stickler for that and the one time I didnít I have a problem. As I write this, a few weeks have actually passed by since the shoot. Iím happy to say that she finally signed it. She initially had fun doing the scene but once she got to thinking about it her Irish Catholic upbringing kicked in and she thought it was morally wrong. Once I had a chance to explain it to her and she had time to digest it and finally came around. The headaches that it caused in the meantime are immeasurable. Iím just glad it all worked out.
Diana, Jude, Mike Lane and myself began the day by traveling all around Putnam and Westchester revisiting locations where we have shot the movies. The footage will be used for a documentary on Sins of the Father called Fairview Falls Revisited. A lot has changed in two years. Many of the locations that were once remote now have been developed or renovated.
Our journey ended back at the VFW Ė our usual meeting place. We shot a continuation of the Westmore Psychiatric Facility escape. The scene culminated with a bloody confrontation between Azrael, the Preacher and a nun. Itís easily one of the best scenes in the movie. We wrapped on a great note. Everyone had fun. I forgot to have the actress who played the nun sign a release but it was no sweat. She said she would mail it to me.
The scene involved a fake tongue made of gelatin - a prop that cost around $200.00. We went crazy the day we shot because the tongue disappeared during cleanup. It turned out that it was thrown away in the trash. It took several time of sifting through the stench filled, "blood" covered garbage before we found it. I think my stress level went up a few notches that day.
Sunday was a rescheduled shooting day. If you have been following the journal entries then you know that one of the actors had a run in with the law. That matter has since been resolved. The only mishaps that really occurred was that Joe Lauria missed his train due to the shoot running about an hour longer than expected. We started shooting shortly after 9 AM and wrapped at around noon. Sadly, due to the rush to get it done we took barely any photos from this important introductory scene.
The scene introduces Alec (Joe Lauria). It also sets up the roots of friendship between he and Matthew (Joe Policastro) and the reason why Chopper (Gene Mazza) is so despised. Part of the scene has Gene knocking a bag of groceries out of Joe Lauriaís hands. On one take a big can of chunky clam chowder opened up. Joe Policastro made a suggestion that he smash a handful of clam chowder into Geneís face in order to break up the fight between Gene and Joe Lauria. Gene wanted no part of it not even for the promise of a 32 pack of beer. This is when chaos ensued. Joe Lauria masterminded the plot to throw the whole can onto Gene on the next take. We even shot behind the scenes footage leading up to it. The caper took place and surprisingly Gene continued the rest of his lines. It was only after many jokes and his noticing that the chowder had begun to cook in his shirt pocket from the afternoon sun that he lost his sense of humor and delivered a nasty blow to my groin and then exclaimed that I owed him a 24 pack of beer.
After several minutes of dizziness we resumed shooting. Would I do it all over again? Hell yea! The shoot was soon wrapped and the seeds of my revenge were hatching.
Since we had some time to kill, we decided to do a pickup shot for the movieís finale. I wanted to do a moving shot for one of the gun shot close-ups. Gene had the crazy idea of strapping a firecracker to his arm under the squib so that his arm could be in motion when it exploded. The prior footage had an arm stationary and being shot close range with a paintball gun in order to explode the squib.
After countless of failed attempts (mostly from dud firecrackers) we ended with 4 firecrackers strapped to Geneís arm. The latex condom never exploded. It only leaked. The end result left us with no pickup shot but some hysterical footage that will probably make its way on the DVD.
So how did I get my revenge? You see the costume that Gene needed to partially wear for the pickup shot had been sitting unwashed in a bag in my car baking in the heat for weeks. It was so sticky from the dried up ďbloodĒ that the shoes in the bag were virtually glued to the suit. It smelled of sweat and syrup. Gene reluctantly put it on and asked what the white stuff was on it. I was supposed to have washed it but since we decided to do this pickup shot a week ahead of schedule I didnít have time. I told him that I had sprinkled baby powder on it to try and freshen it up somewhat. Afterwards, while the camera was running I revealed that the white stuff on the suit was not baby powder but in fact white mold spores. Needless to say, it resulted with an on-camera punch to the balls and Gene saying that he would settle for a 12 pack instead since he had dealt me a second blow to the nuts.
Exhausted from the weekend and still in pain, I set out for the last chore of the day - a family reunion. I had to tape it for someone. At least it was a paying gig. Now, in the middle of prepping for the remaining 4 shoot days I have 12 hours of a family reunion to dub off and a summer camp video to edit. Then there's my boring day job. I wonder if Spielberg ever had to shoot family reunions and weddings to fund his projects and put food on the table? It even begs a better question - has anyone on Spielberg's crew ever punch him in the nuts?
This past Saturdayís shoot reunited Fear of the Dark cast members Michael Scarpelli, Jr. and Ed Shelinsky (also from The Tenement). This time Michaelís son, Michael Scarpelli III was involved as well. The real life father and son team would be playing the same on camera but with grim circumstances.
Ed played Azrael, a cold-blooded cannibalistic killing machine, who is Reverend Jeremiah Jonesís (Jude Pucillo) right hand man. In this scene, young Oscar Valentine watches as his father is beaten, partially devoured and killed by the evil Azrael and is ultimately tortured himself by being branded with a hot iron that is wielded by the preacher.
We shot young Michaelís scenes mostly as cutaways to spare him from the gruesome shots that would follow. I had no wish to traumatize the child by having him on set as his father screamed from the inflicted wounds that were later applied by Gene and Brian. Young Michael was directed to show certain facial reactions and expressions. To the onlooker it appeared that perhaps he was indeed scared by the surroundings and the imposing preacher that Jude portrayed. In the end, it was nothing more than shear talent certainly passed from father to son.
The day went much longer than anyone could have expected. We had prepped the set beginning at 8 AM and began shooting at around 9:30 AM. Young Michaelís scenes wrapped at around 12:30 PM. We had to delay other scenes until 5 PM while we continued with the rest of the morning shoot. Now the real fun began.
Dana and Brian redid Sean Patrickís clown makeup. This time it was a more innocent incarnation Ė one that wouldnít last long. In the scene, Ed steals upon the unsuspecting clown and murders him. The scene called for Ed to slam Seanís head down onto a table and then slit his throat. In the trial run Ed accidentally slammed him down onto a bottle of makeup that crashed down with such impact that it shattered another cosmetic container. You certainly canít accuse Ed of not getting into character. He and Brittney ought to compete for an award for the most inflicted abuse to another actor. Sean was okay. The swelling to his brow went down rather quickly leaving nothing more than a minor bruise.
The hardest part of the shoot was trying to convince the rather manly Ed (who is not at all a homophobe) that biting into older Michaelís thigh (just above the kneecap) and tearing out a chunk of flesh was not gay. This resulted in many a chuckle as the cast was divided into factions debating the issue. Ed reluctantly went ahead and did the scene. Itís funny somehow that when he doesnít feel comfortable about doing a scene he claims he never got a script. Iím sure Iíll take heat over writing this as well. Oh well.
Jude gave a commanding presence as the preacher. Again, there were moments that I thought little Michael was actually scared because their performances were both so good. I think that Mike Valenzanoís interpretation of Judeís preacher character will flow well once the movie is edited together.
The most fun was shooting the asylum escape that ended at around 8 PM. This was the shoot that was delayed from its 12:30 PM start time. Ed and Jude really got into character as they made their escape. There were lots of fast action kills that looked really great. Someone, I think Brian or Gene, exclaimed that they thought that this scene might have been my best cinematography yet. We plan on doing a small pickup shot this coming weekend at Judeís request.
The evening ended with a few shots of Jude for various flashback scenes including the ending. We wrapped a little after 10 PM and were out of there by 11 PM.
July 24, 2004:
So far so good. It was overcast but not raining. I was up at 4:30 AM. Brett and Mike came up the night before. Kerri had tagged along for the ride. We arrived at the Putnam Valley Market at 6:00 AM for the deli scene shoot. It was originally supposed to take place in a warehouse but we lost access to the location. I had met Nino Santucci (Eddie) at one of my auditions and remembered that he had owned a deli. It really worked out. I killed two birds with one stone - I got an actor and a location. The shoot went smoothly with Manny Piatos playing the part of the nasty deli boss dead on. We wrapped right at 8:00 AM and met everyone at the VFW and the moved over to the Canopus Country Club for the next shoot.
The next scene was where Sal gets a disturbing phone call at the bar and runs out smack into Vinny. This was a final wrap for Johnny Mac. Here's hoping he reappears down the road in the Light & Dark universe. I now wish I had made his role of Vinny the Hammer larger.
Wow! We were an hour ahead of schedule. That's a first. We ended up falling back right on schedule when Michael Sirow (Joey) arrived late for call time due to car problems. That was okay since we had a little difficulty with the pool stick prop. We began shooting at around 10:30 AM and wrapped at around 1:30 PM just as lunch arrived. The shooting was fast and furious. Chris Coyne (Earl) threw out some great original one liners. He was seconded by Brian Spears (Bill) who took off his makeup hat and showed off his acting skills. We were treated to a new one liner every take that resulted in a burst of hysterical laughter once cut was called.
I was really nervous about this scene despite everything going smoothly thus far. I was afraid that the pool table might get damaged or more importantly Chris might get hurt. Neither occurred. The end result was a great scene early on in the movie that will have the audience wanting more.
We left the club at 3:00 PM and went back to Kenny's house - the site of the movie's finale. Gene, Jude, Mike Lane, Starrla Noble (Hacker's Source) and I did a pickup shoot that required a spurt of blood to be shot directly at the camera. Mike Gingold watched. A large sheet of Plexiglass was used to shield the camera. Somehow it didn't quite work. My hair, shirt and pants were soaked with blood. What a sticky situation and a rather humorous way to end the weekend.
We won't shoot again for 2 weeks. Now it's a mad dash to find new locations. We need an interior that looks like a trailer and a hallway that looks like it's in an asylum. The first location seemed a little unsafe and we lost access to the latter. Jude is away next weekend so I think I'm on my own for scouting locations. I'm a little nervous too now that Brian and Gene are going to be involved in another movie's preparation at the same time that we are working on Fairview Falls. Brian has assured me that everything will work out.
This weekend marked the halfway point for shooting. Let's hope that the weather holds up for the remainder of the shoot days as there are many outdoor shoots with tons of scenes packed in each day.
July 23, 2004:
Diana, Jude and I went back to the club to prep the pool table and light the bar scene at around 11:00 PM. Diana cut a layer of plastic trash bags to go under the layer of felt on the table. It took longer than expected to make it look good. We left there well after midnight. It had been pouring all day. Now all that was left was for me to pray that it wouldn't tomorrow.
Diana, Jude and I went to the Canopus Country Club at around 7:00 PM. We were there for a couple of hours as Diana measured and cut the felt that would be put over the pool table to protect it from getting "blood" on it. Jude played a round of pool afterwards to see how the surface handled. It worked.
Why do I make movies? Am I driving myself into the ground trying to do something grand on a small scale? Will any of this make a difference? Today, I have a better understanding of my place in the grand scheme of things. There are many dedicated people working on this production giving their blood, sweat and tears to get this done. We all want the same thing - to make some kind of a difference. This is our chosen profession. We are driven and determined to succeed and leave some mark, no matter how small. Sure I bitch and complain about how I hate this business but it's in my blood now and I don't think I could ever give it up. The cast and the crew are my life's blood flowing through me and giving me the energy to go on.
Today marked the halfway point for shooting. There are 8 more days left providing nothing goes wrong and pickup shots are not required. Today was just as difficult. We all have our personal lives that we try and put aside when we come to the set. Sometimes it's difficult. Brian kept it quiet that his grandmother was very ill and probably wouldn't make it through the weekend. He didn't want to burden anyone with it. Sadly, she passed away. He stood by my side and carried on as many others have done on this and previous occasions. It's their dedication that spurs me on to complete this movie. This movie has been a great test for me. I think the test was for me to learn how to better relate to people and situations when faced with hardships.
The Putnam Valley Volunteer Ambulance Corp. was fantastic. They came to the location to be in one of the movie's final scenes. Don Graesser acted as a consultant to insure the scene was as authentic as possible.
Brian, Dana and Gene each did character makeup on Sean Patrick, Mike Valenzano and Ed Shelinsky. The results were even better than I had hoped for.
We completed the second half of the movie's finale on time just before it began to rain. Some of the cast departed and others hung out to shoot the breeze. Gene, Jude and I fought the the rain and quickly shot an insert shot that had slipped my mind to shoot. I have to look at the footage yet but I think we have everything we need. The highlight of the weekend was seeing Mike Valenzano get drenched so much in blood that it leaked into his underpants. It was very funny.
It was a trying weekend but we got through it. Teamwork made it happen. New issues and problems arose this weekend that I had to deal with. I think this weekend's experience will help me to direct better with the later ensemble scenes.
This was the beginning of another weekend that I was dreading. We shot the finale for the movie Ė a finale that required more makeup effects than any other Light & Dark movie to date. Gun shots, squibs, stabbings, brandings, cuts, bruises and 3 major character makeups rounded out the laborious task at hand. Itís even more difficult when you are working on a low budget because quite often you find yourself lacking manpower. This was a weekend that had to be precisely controlled. This was a weekend that seemed like it would never end.
There is nothing more frustrating when you plan a day out and a wrench gets thrown in the works before it even begins. I had what my shot list ready to go so we could bang the scene out smoothly. The call time was set for 7:45 AM. One actor showed up about an hour late and another was an hour and a half late. A third actor required for the scene had to be back on a train by 11:15 AM. By the time we lit the scene and had the actors in makeup and wardrobe it left very little time to shoot a much-needed scene. As a result, I feel some of the shots were compromised. A valuable lesson learned was to make call times earlier allowing room for tardiness.
With one actor wrapped we proceeded to shoot the rest of the interior shots praying that the rain would not come. The location was in a small shed so raindrops hitting the roof would have been a big problem. Things were going smoothly. Joe and Kerri spent the better part of 5 hours tied together back to back with rope that inflicted a slight burn on Joeís wrist. Before we knew it, the end of the scene was near. Toby Elmore, Johnny Mac, and Sal Sirchia were on standby for hours waiting to play their big part in the finale scene. Unfortunately, no one brought it to my attention that Johnny had to leave by 5 PM. Now the pressure was on. It didn't help that crucial takes were interrupted by cell phone interference especially when I have repeatedly asked that all cell phones be turned off on or around the set.
Johnny was very cool about staying to the end. Another valuable lesson was learned. Always reiterate to the actors to clear their day for a shoot. Scripted scenes were slightly altered for time which Iím now agonizing over. Will the final sequence work in the movie? Iím sure it will. Is it what I envisioned? Not quite. Gene and I may go back and do a pickup shot for a gore effect that may more than make up for what I think is lacking. Donít get me wrong. The performances were great. Itís just that I wish there was more time to shoot a few more things that I feel were needed. Like I always say, itís all in the editing. The Tenementís strip club scene was a real fiasco but that turned out good after I edited it all together. It was very different from the scripted scene though. The lesson learned again is to allow yourself extra time. Donít plan so many shots for one day.
We wrapped at about 6:30 PM. It should have been 5 PM as I initially planned but what was I to do? I called everyone together and stressed how important it was to be on time. Thankfully everyone showed up on time the next day.
July 15, 2004:
Today a weight was lifted from my chest. The "powers that be" listened to my side of the story regarding the infamous (yet harmless) Graduation scene and my troubles have begun to go away. As expected, the facts were distorted before they reached the "powers that be." I'm just thankful it's over and hopefully I can put it behind me and that all the false rumors will finally be put to rest. As I said before, there is nothing more disheartening than when something well intended is maligned. Now let's hope the rest of the shoots go smoothly. I have talked to the cast that will be shooting this weekend and everything looks good. Let's hope the weather holds up now.
Don Deich was going to loan me a prop blank firing gun but I couldn't reach him right away to confirm it. I went ahead and ordered one and had it shipped overnight. I hope it comes it time for Saturday now that I passed up Don's offer. He'll be away so I won't have a backup. He' too far away or I would have driven there just to have it as a backup. I'm still so tired from this past weekend. Thank God we don't have full shoot days this weekend. Kerri will be up Friday night again to stay so she doesn't have to travel back and forth. Diana will keep her company while Jude and I set up at Kenny's house for this weekend's shoot.
July 14, 2004:
Today I went to a dear friendís fatherís funeral. It really made me pause and think about my life. I donít really consider myself to be a religious person but when someone dies, especially someone you know, it seems to put things into perspective about our own mortality.
I often wonder if all the time and effort I put into these movies are worth it. I have been ostracized, ridiculed, financially, mentally and emotionally broken by these movies since I began in 1999. I wonder if it really is worth it. My own family has told me that my work is Satanic yet it bears nothing of the sort. Is it really worth it? I try many times to convince myself that what I am doing is right. There is a social consciousness that is woven into my movies. I believe to get a message across that you have to do it in a way that people can absorb it or relate to it. I do it through entertainment. I do it with horror movies.
Recently, people have twisted my vision into something horrible. I have been accused of horrible things and false rumors have spread in my own town about me. Itís disheartening. All I ever wanted to be was a writer. I set out with a dream and faced the odds. I want to entertain and enlighten people. Movies should evoke an emotion. They are a shared experience that brings people together. I have always said that I wanted to leave some kind of legacy behind before I leave this world. I want people to remember me for the entertainment that I have brought to them and hopefully the lessons that my movies teach.
The message is pure and simple. We primarily have become a society that is in denial where the future generations stand to suffer from our ignorance. We need to be proactive now not tomorrow. I look at my movies as a scared straight program. On one side of the coin, they are fictional entertainment, on the other they carry a bit of truth. We sleep with the doors unlocked in our quaint little towns because nothing could happen. This leaves us exposed to the degenerate predators of society.
Jude commented on all the recent troubles I have been experiencing and said that perhaps it is a test as to whether or not I have what it takes to make it in this industry. I wonder myself sometimes. At the end of the day, all I know is that I will see these movies out there for people to enjoy. Maybe one day long after Iím gone someone might discover these little movies that Iíve done and appreciate what inspired them. If they donít get the message within them then hopefully they will at least appreciate and take with them the gift of imagination.
As predicted, Sunday was indeed a long day. I woke up at 6 AM and loaded up for the morning shoot. Diana woke up at 7 AM and made eggs and bacon for the cast and crew. A half hour before leaving I suddenly realized that I had forgotten to tell Brian Spears that he would need to do makeup for Chris Aloís Simon character that morning. I called and woke him up. He didnít seem too happy but heís used to my calling him last second for things and took it in stride though I'm sure he cursed me when I hung up with him.
I arrived at our usual meeting place a little before 8 AM. Gene and Joe Lauria were waiting. Jude had gone ahead to location to meet a friend who was opening a bar for us that would be used as the exterior for a country store. Brian was to meet us there as well. Twelve-year-old Amanda showed up soon with her parents. I was a little nervous because I wanted to finish this first scene on time. Her father, Joey, had to get back to open up his video store (that was used in the movie) by 11 AM.
We made small talk while waiting for the last actor (who will remain nameless) to show. Before you knew it 10 minutes had crept by then 20. I called the actorís cell and I got the actor's voice mail. I tried calling the actor's house but it turned out I had the wrong number. Now an hour had gone by and I became frantic. How could the actor have forgotten? Did they oversleep? This was not a good situation. This was a big scene. I only had Chris for that day. Heís a rock journalist so his concert schedule didnít allow for him to return any other day. Moreover, Joey was doing me a big favor by having Amanda in the movie. This was quickly becoming an embarrassment. Suddenly, I saw Chrisís car go by. In my desperation to contact the actor who was a no show I forgot to call Chris who was working off an hour or two of sleep from the night before. It ended up that we had to cancel the shoot. Now the big question was whether this person would be at a very important shoot that evening. Everyone was on standby and was told that we would shoot the scenes that we could without the actor.
We moved up our next shoot from 1 PM to 12 PM. This was a reshoot from the prior shooting weekend. Walter and Kerri would reshoot a roadside scene where she almost hits Walter with a car. Jude took a catnap and overslept. By the time he picked up the car needed for the scene we ended up right back where we started Ė the 1 PM call time. Walter was in good spirits despite his hour wait. He was on vacation and didnít have to rush to work this time around.
This time everything was in our favor. They had the lines down perfect, the lighting was just right and we had picked a desolate road with virtually no traffic. We finished ahead of schedule and were able to relax a little while before going to location for the diner scene that night. However, there was still no word from the missing actor. As I was just about to leave, the phone rang. Sure enough, it was the actor. The actor had been involved in an altercation the night before and had spent the night and morning in jail. The good news was that the actor was going to be at the evening shoot. A weight was lifted.
Jude went to the bar/diner location at 5 PM to begin lighting it. The rest of the cast and crew arrived at 5:30 PM. Jude lit the bar finale scene first. We started shooting at around 7 PM due to a few minor delays. The bar finale was shot in just a few takes. I also shot a pickup scene with Kerri for the previous bar scene she did with Debbie Rochon. I also videotaped Kerri for something that will be used later on the DVD extras.
I recast the role of Simon and made the character a generic bum. I had to do this because Chris wouldnít be able to attend the rescheduled morning shoot. Casey DeLoe who was to be a diner extra got the role. Mike Lane prepped him while we changed the lighting for the diner scene.
This was the longest part of the day. What would be a four or 5-minute scene took 4 hours to shoot and thatís with all of the actors getting their lines right on just about every take. They were all fantastic and very tired. Some became a little hungry and were not content with nearby snacks. This became apparent when halfway through the shoot I discovered that 2 of our featured extras were gone. They had left to get something to eat. Now chaos ensued as we scrambled to locate their whereabouts. With their positions in the shots, there was no way to write them out of the scene. Simple physics and logic wouldnít allow it. All of our shots established that there was only one way in and out of the building. Now we were faced with a continuity error. By the time we came up with some possible solution they had returned. It was very frustrating but we quickly finished our shots and wrapped the scene by 12 AM.
Now it was time to move outside for the next scene. Joe Policastro would wave goodbye to a few characters and have a run-in with Caseyís mysterious bum character. Thankfully, Brian had completed the makeup for Casey while we were shooting the diner scene. The shoot went smoothly and we wrapped at 2 AM. I felt especially sorry for Jude since he was starting a new job selling tombstones in the morning and he still had to drive over to Edís house and swap cars. I drove Lisa home and practically crawled into bed upon my return home. Most of us didnít get to bed until 3 AM. The length of time for the diner scene is a good indication of what we will be up against for the party scene in August. We wonít start shooting that scene until 8 or 9 PM at night. I hope that the cast has the stamina. This evening seemed to prove that they did.
We stand a chance of losing Amanda for the tentative rescheduled morning shoot. I hope that that wonít be the case or we will have to rewrite the scene. I hate tampering with my vision of the way the story should unfold. So far, it has been pretty much the way I intended it to be. Iím very satisfied with the results.
Ouch, ouch, ouch! My #!!#!#! sunburn is killing me!! Today we started late. You know what they say about the best laid plans. I wanted to have everyone at the meeting spot by 8 AM so that we could move onto location by 8:30 AM at the latest. I had 4 hours of sleep from the night before and got up at the crack of dawn to pick up Lisa. It's a 45 minute round trip. I arrived at our meeting place at 8:02 AM to find out that Brittney Evans (Alicia) was running late. By the time we got her into makeup and wardrobe and then moved over to the set it was 9:30 AM. The quiet that we expected in the area was broken by increased traffic and hikers. I swear air traffic control must have diverted every plane over our location too.
The first scene had Light & Dark veteran Joe Lauria (Alec) and Joseph Policastro (Matthew) at odds with one another. It's a pivotal scene leading to the climax where light is shed on the friendship of the two characters. We finally made it through the scene after countless takes of the two bursting into laughter. It was a light hearted way to start the day off but we quickly found ourselves running behind schedule.
After the first scene wrapped I hastily called Melinda Hogg (Melanie) to push her call time back 2 hours. The next scene was another pivotal confrontation between Lisa's character Ariel and Alicia and Chopper. I was surprised how quickly the scene went. We were under enormous pressure to finish by 2 PM since Jude needed his car back that we were using in the scene. We finished at 2:30 PM. I apologized to Jude who was surprisingly not mad at all. He had lied to me just to get me to finish on time. It turned out I had finished right on schedule. They all know me too well. I'm master of the retakes, king of the multiple angle. So sue me, I'm a perfectionist. The best part of the shoot was seeing Gene get his ass kicked. I haven't gotten my rocks off like that since Gingold was smashed with a shovel in The Tenement. Brittney kicked him for real too which wasn't supposed to happen. One shot found its mark in the kidneys and the other in his balls. Now that's getting into character. Gene was a real trooper too. Despite a brief shock to his nervous system he turned out fine. Brittney seems well suited for the horror/thriller genre. After all she comes from horror royalty. Her grandmother, Susanna Foster, played Christine opposite Claude Raines in Universal's Phantom of the Opera (1943).
Diana took Joe Lauria back to the train station as we set off to our final shoot. We reshot a scene depicting graduates Melanie and Ariel with the nefarious Chopper. It's a symbolic scene representing wasted education in the youth of America. It reflects many kids of today's views of the value of education. I would discuss it more but it seems that some have found it offensive. It's quite a shame when the words of a parable that are meant to be poetic and powerful are twisted into something dirty.
After running home to grab a forgotten but much needed prop (that seems to happen too often) we completed the scene quite nicely. We wrapped shortly after 4 PM. Diana, Gene, Lisa and I watched a little bit of the footage before we parted ways. One last trip for the day to take Lisa home and it's time to relax. Now I have to wait for Brett and Kerri to show up tonight. Last time they left late and got stuck in construction on the GW Bridge. They didn't show up until around 3 AM. Ah, Sunday is going to be a long day and my #!!#!#! sunburn hurts like hell!
July 8, 2004:
Jude and I spent about 3 hours testing lighting configurations for this coming weekend's diner scenes. We used a 1000 watt work light and a couple of 500 watt work lights all purchased from Home Depot. Jude has an old camera light with 4 75 watt bulbs mounted on it that we used for backlighting. I had some scraps from a roll of blue gel that we used to create a moonlight effect for exterior shots. Jude stood in for the actors and we blocked the moves and lit them accordingly. It worked and very inexpensively I might add. Our test will really save time when we shoot the scene on Sunday.
July 6, 2004:
Damn it was good to have a weekend off already! I finally got a chance to study the June 27th footage. It looks pretty good. I had a short night car interior scene which is a hint grainy due to underexposure. I may reshoot that in August. The roadside scene with Kerri and Walter will be reshot on Sunday. It suffered from bright afternoon sun. We also were in a bit of a rush. Thankfully videotape is inexpensive and all it's really costing is time.
Brett Fallon (Derek), Mike Lane (John) and Kerri Taylor (Tina) stayed over my house from the night before. Brett and Kerri got stuck on the GW Bridge and ended up with as much sleep as I had. The first scene was at Joeyís Movies (the site of The Tenement signing). Trouble struck again. My 7-year-old daughter was set to play the little girl in the movie who later gives Chopper a run for his money. She surprisingly wouldnít do it due to last minute stage fright. The funny thing is that she danced and sang in front of hundreds of people at a dance recital the week before.
Mike Lane quickly stepped in and rewrote the dialogue to match Joeyís twelve year old aspiring actress daughter, Amanda. The scene, though a little rushed for time, turned out okay. The changes worked. Amanda was a lifesaver. Joe Pisani was hysterical playing opposite Brett as the video storeowner. He took Brett a little by surprise when he whacked him in the head with a rolled up magazine. He wasnít quite expecting it. Gene made his first appearance in the movie. Even Diana pulled it together despite the pressure for time. We ended just as the store opened for business.
Now the only problem was that we were 2 hours behind schedule. We raced back to Putnam Valley to a somewhat quiet roadside for a scene between Kerri and Walter Eikner (Detective Max Gunnar). Itís an expositional scene warning the kids to stay out of the woods. That morning we started experiencing some problems with the shotgun microphone. In our rush to get to the location, my headphones and a much-needed donut prop were left behind. The additional delay resulted in the afternoon sun changing into a really bad position. Though the performances were fine, the scene may need to be reshot.
We finally made our way back to the VFW to meet Joseph Policastro (Matthew Woodrow) who had been baking in the sun for over 2 hours. We had to shoot a scene where he and Brett get attacked at ďTinaís house.Ē When we arrived back to the VFW we found out that Joe had received a cell phone call that his grandfather had passed away. The shoot was cancelled. Poor Jude had killed his back cleaning up his yard for that scene too. The cancellation almost put us back on schedule.
We arrived at Mike Gingoldís (Eli Korman) house just in time to bang out the love scene between he and Kerri Ė no pun intended. They both handled the scene like pros. Ironically, though there was nudity in the scene I donít think this comes across in the finished shot. Iím still recovering from the weekend so I havenít had a chance to really sit and scrutinize the footage. Even so, their performances (again, no pun intended) speak for themselves. Mike scolded me a few days later. It seems that the open can of beef stew that we used for vomit in the scene was left out sitting in his hot apartment as well as the vomit in the toilet. He came home and was greeted to the lovely odor of slowly spoiling meat. Makes your mouth water, doesnít it?
We finished at Mikeís house just in time to pick up Debbie Rochon (Georgia Korman) from the train station. We drove to ďbarĒ location and started setting up. Even though Jude and I had went through the lighting and setup weeks before we ran into a few minor issues. Itís hard to judge certain things when the cast wasnít actually in place. We break for dinner and then shoot afterwards starting at around 7 PM. I was concerned about it not being dark enough outside for shots that had the windows in them but by the time we got to those shots it was pretty dark out.
Debbie brought everything to the role of Georgia Korman that I could have possibly hoped for. Debbie, Kerri and Mike Gingold played wonderfully off one another. Debbie proved that she has just as big a sense of humor as Sal Sirchia (Sal). The two of them kept us in stitches all night long alleviating the days tension. Itís always nice to see an actor embrace a role. Kerri continued her soft-spoken interpretation of Tina and it really worked. Originally I envisioned her character as being a little bitchy but Kerriís take on Tina shows great promise for the rest of the movie.
One of the funniest recollections that I have that night was when I called cut because of a buzzing noise. I thought the microphone was acting again or perhaps it was coming from some nearby appliance. It turned out to be that Kemn had dozed off at the bar and was snoring. That was the first and not the last time that he would be caught taking a late night catnap.
Mike Lane helped direct some of the shots with me and was an asset to the shoot. Jude once again really dived in body and soul to get the show moving along. Like Diana, he was running all over the place for me all day.
The last shot of the night was a quick humorous car scene interior with Kerri, Mike Gingold and Mike Lane that may have to be reshot again due to inferior lighting conditions.
Everyone seemed to have a lot of fun (at least with the bar shoot as the prior scenes were grueling) and went home well fed - tired, but well fed. We ended the night at 11:30 PM. Brett, Kerri and Mike Lane left my house sometime around 12:30 AM. I could barely climb the stairs to bed. I laid down and went to sleep. It was good to be back home. Now I would have a 2-week reprieve before I have to do it all over again.
Saturday, June 26, 2004 otherwise known as the weekend from hell. I only had an hour and a half of sleep from the night before. I went the whole day without eating. In fact, I didnít eat anything until I had a small portion of rice and beans and spinach salad on Sunday night. I lost 5 pounds over the weekend. At this rate, my ďsoda gutĒ will be gone by the end of the summer.
I got up at 6 AM in the morning and chauffeured everyone over to my apartment by 8 AM to begin shooting. The first scene was where Ariel (Morgan LaRocca) finds out some disturbing news about her boyfriend Chopper (Gene Mazza). Don Deich made my skin crawl with his portrayal of Arielís seedy alcoholic father. Dana Elder, Gene and Brian Spears were on hand to do the makeup effects. Brianís friend Tommy Dedde assisted. A reporter for a Connecticut newspaper was on set taking pictures and interviewing us for an article about Brian. Diana raced around getting food and props ready. Jude Pucillo (the Preacher) and Mike Valenzano (Oscar Valentine) were on hand to help out too.
Lisa maintained her riveting performance throughout the intermissions required to relight for various angles and added makeup effects leading up to Donís death scene. We were supposed to wrap shooting for the death scene by 10 AM but the makeup required more time to apply. We didnít start shooting the suicide scene until after 2 PM. I donít want to give away too much of the plotline. I will say that the shots are pretty much dead on to what I wanted. Considering budget restraints, it amazes me that we were able to pull it off. The suicide takes place in tub. The killer walks in and on the ďvictimĒ expecting to kill but finds the person is dying. I think this scene is one of the most powerful moments in the movie where for the first time the killer truly understands the meaning of death. By the time the set was struck it was very clear that we would be late for our next and last scene for the day. We raced to the location and set up. This is when everything turned upside down. I canít get into it. Letís just say that the day didnít end as well as I would have liked. By the time everything was said and done, yours truly got only an hour and a half of sleep again.
This was the first day of shooting. The day before should have been but I found out last minute that the location was rented out to a baby shower. Several hours of phone calls later and that shoot gets bumped to July 24th.
For the first scene for we use the VFW downstairs hallway as the foyer to the morgue/coronerís office. Iím pretty satisfied with my lighting job. Jude (Reverend Jeremiah Jones) and Gene (Chopper) were on hand to assist me. In fact, pretty much everyone was pulling double duty in their down time. Mike Gingold (Eli Korman) and Johnny Mac (Vinny the Hammer) opened the scene with their expositional dialogue about the dark history of Fairview Falls. The scene ended with the introduction of Mark as Carmine and Kevin Iorio as Tony. The scenes took longer to shoot than anticipated due to lighting needs. Jude could finally relax for a moment. He had played human light stand and held the lights in awkward positions since we didnít have anything to clamp them to. The lights were clamp lights purchased from Home Depot. I figured if it could work for Robert Rodriguez on El Mariachi then it should work for me. Lighting was a little easier for the next scene. The room was brighter.
We wrapped the location with the second half of the morgue scene. The scene entailed making the VFW kitchen look like a morgue. Itís all in the angles. The kitchen sink counter became an autopsy table. We wrapped a crude foam latex corpse with a sheet and spattered it with blood and laid it on the sink counter. The shots were carefully framed so that you couldnít see the surrounding areas especially the stove which was shoved off to the side. The real focus of the scene was Mark who played a grieving mob father very well.
The scene was wrapped in very few takes. After cleanup and equipment breakdown we went about 2 hours longer than planned. The day was still young though as we moved on to our final location Ė ďCarmineís house.Ē The morning proved to me that getting back into the routine of shooting a movie was going to be a little tough. My timing was a little rusty. It has been 2 years since I last shot a movie.
We shot the last scene at my friend Mattís house. The house was used before for Dr. Fisherís house in Sins of the Father. Thanks to some recent interior decorating, the location looks pretty different. All we needed to do was to put a family picture up on the mantle piece and move a chair into position for better lighting and we were ready to go. The scene has Sal Sirchia (Sal) meeting with Carmine and a deal being struck that plays into the movieís finale. I forgot the gun prop for the scene but it turned out to not be necessary. The strong emotion of the scene was enough. Again, the performances were top notch. Mark finished to a round of applause. The second half of the shoot day went very quickly and without any problems. Perhaps the Light & Dark curse is finally lifting after all. Heh, heh, heh.
After weeks of calls to actors and hours of studying my calendar to come up with a schedule, the day had finally arrived Ė Rehearsal Day. I rolled out of bed at 6 AM reassuring myself that things would go smoothly. Joe Lauria (Alec) had recovered from an eye injury so he would be there. Toby Elmore (Barry) and Joe Policastro (Matthew) had both had automobile accidents just days before but they were okay. Joe would be there but Toby wouldnít be able to make it. The Light & Dark curse that we have always joked about hadnít quite set in yet.
Too many people put too much stake into superstition. Unfortunately, I tend to be one of them. Iím the sort of person who wonít walk under a ladder or will look for the nearest piece of wood to rap on when someone says ďknock on wood.Ē Without going into too much detail, Iíll give you a few examples of what we jokingly refer to as the Light & Dark curse. One of the actors suffered an emotional breakdown on Fear of the Dark and another wound up in a psychiatric ward on The Tenement. Production stopped during The Family Tree when Danielle Russo was hospitalized for complications with her pregnancy. Sins of the Father had some ghostly mishaps that interfered with production. Sure, all of these really have nothing to do with Light & Dark but something out of the ordinary always seems to happen during the course of production.
So it was to no surprise when Mike Lane (John) called me that morning and announced that he was not coming. Recently, he was diagnosed as having 2 herniated discs in his back. Morgan LaRocca (Ariel) came down with the flu and couldnít make it either. A few other actors showed up sick as well. I take these things in stride these days. No sense pulling my hair out.
Everyone was surprisingly on time for rehearsal considering the distance many had to travel. We started at 8 AM and ended at around 8 PM. There were a number of breakout performances. This was the first time that Mark Pozzutto (Carmine) had ever acted before. He and Lisa (whom I rehearsed with a week later) were dead on in their performances that just proves to me that schooling isnít everything. You either have it or you donít. I think this is the best cast I have had the pleasure to work with yet.
I just want to thank all of the people who have been with me from the beginning. It's never been easy putting a movie together and this time around it's no exception. My wife Diana has put up with me through thick and thin. She's had to deal with the worst of it - the financial sacrifices and the personal sacrifices. Mike Lane has got to be one of the best friends you can find. He has been on the frontlines since day one promoting and pitching in however he can. This time around he has been an enormous help not only in polishing the screenplay with me but as a creative consultant as well. Some of the witty dialogue is owed to Gene Mazza (and David Dunwoody) too. Jude Pucillo has been a blessing. If only I could clone him. Hmmm. My first fond memory of him was when he loaned me his hearse for a Sins of the Father scene and got more than he bargained for - he played a corpse with a plunger up his ass. What a trooper! That's almost right up there with leaving Mike in a casket with no air to breathe and having my sister-in-law Judy dance in strip club scene. Brian Spears is one hell of a makeup artist (as is Gene) and is once again putting up with my antics. Finally, Mike Gingold has been there pitching in from auditions to present. He's helping me out despite his hectic schedule with Fangoria magazine. Thanks to everyone. It took a little longer than expected to get the ball rolling for this one but it's rolling quite nicely now!
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