Enter the black hole

21 Sep

 

My boyfriend woke me up this morning at 6:30 to see if I wanted to go with him to his class…FUCK NO.

I dragged my ass out of bed at 8 to practice what I thought would be some serious tapas….FUCK NO.

I thought about working on my script Skylar Stiff…FUCK NO. I started the Skylar Stiff script four days after The Bhakti Boy shoot ended. I needed out of Daimon, Vinyl, Dean and Loud’s world…please give me another world to bite me teeth into.  Don’t let me look at BB footage. Hide it away. Don’t show me anything. Store it deep in a hard drive, in a drawer, maybe I can forget that its there by asking Who is Skylar Stiff?…FUCK NO.

Almost three months have passed since we finished shooting. My plan was to start a new script and then once I needed a break from it I would start editing The Bhakti Boy…well…the time has come. Skylar Stiff needs some serious time away from my brain. That film needs to incubate…which means its time to begin editing…FUCK __________???

So I opened up the Bhakti Boy file and there it was 16 days of shooting all nice and tidy in files ready to be cut into and dropped into the sequence in any order my little brain rhythmically wants.  What did I do?

I dropped a few tears. I really did. Its okay you can laugh at my pretty privileged ass.

How can I do this?  I can’t do this?  The black hole. The black hole that is going to leave my arms crippled, my hips stiff, put me into a world that looks like it will never end.

And then I calmed down. I started to look at a bit of the footage and god forbid see some acting.

vinyl and daimon basement

Screen Shot 2013-09-21 at 11.41.15 AM

 

 

FUCK YES.

So I guess I’m ready to start eating this mother fucker and enter into the black hole.

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RIP Abandoned Church…opening scene of The Bhakti Boy

5 Sep

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This photo was taken after filming the opening scene of the film. An abandoned church is the location for Daimon’s nightmare. In this pic from left to right, you have Emma Arrick, who played Hobo Jill and a werewolf, sound man Sam Nuttle, D.P and art director Christine Meyers, Joe Cummings who played Vinyl and a werewolf, Chris Morson who played Daimon and the director Joy Marzec

 

 

When I wrote the opening scene of The Bhakti Boy I did not have the intention of an abandoned church to be the location.  In fact the script reads,

Ext. High Desert – Dawn

It became apparent as the budget rolled in that filming in the high desert of New Mexico or Colorado was not going to be possible so David and I started to look for a location around Philadelphia.  Location scouting is a bit of an obsession for us. We love it. As we started driving around Philly looking for possible places David stumbled upon this church in northern Philadelphia that was being prepped to be torn down.

One afternoon we hopped into one of the windows and what we discovered was this incredible church with stained glass windows, amazing light, that was completely falling apart. We both knew that this was ideal for Daimon’s opening nightmare.

 

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The day of the shoot we had a skeleton crew which consisted of me, Sam (sound), Christine (D.P/art director) and the actors.  The church was mildly dangerous but mostly we didn’t want to get busted.  We spent about five hours in the church shooting. It was essentially a wet dream for Christine in terms of photography and I wanted Sam to completely geek out over sound. I wanted him to give me a potential sound scape for post.

There were many times during the shoot of The Bhakti Boy where everything coalesced perfectly and  my vision was satisified in  a way that I wouldn’t have imagined. The church scene was certainly one of those times.  I couldn’t have asked for a better location to represent Daimon’s inner psyche.

 

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Nothing to do with The Bhakti Boy cause you a junk man.

30 Jun

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I was thinking about death today.  I’ve always been highly conscious that I come into this world alone and die alone.  That is what ultimately connects us to each other, right? If there’s only one similarity amongst me and my screaming neighbor it is this fantastical reality.

So I was thinking about my relationship to death in the car today and somehow a train car came into my mind.  I took note. That’s an interesting image.

And then I was researching books to buy about various vagabonds and I came across this poem by Carl Sandburg.

 

I AM glad God saw Death
And gave Death a job taking care of all who are tired
of living:

When all the wheels in a clock are worn and slow and
the connections loose
And the clock goes on ticking and telling the wrong time
from hour to hour
And people around the house joke about what a bum
clock it is,
How glad the clock is when the big Junk Man drives
his wagon
Up to the house and puts his arms around the clock and
says:
“You don’t belong here,
You gotta come
Along with me,”
How glad the clock is then, when it feels the arms of the
Junk Man close around it and carry it away.

  After I read this poem I felt like I just orgasmed.  A huge nod to Carl Sandburg for letting me back into dream world. I was afraid I lost you.

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Crying for Dean

22 Jun

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I haven’t cried once over the past three months.  The stress, the exhaustion, the frustration, none of those emotions have caused me to break down and cry.  But yesterday was the magical day that the faucets were released.  Dean Refuzor, a character that I have  crafted and lived with for over two years “died” in the film. This of course happened to coincide with the last day of shooting for the actor Matteo Scammell.  We filmed  his death scene, I paid him for all of his hard, dreamy work, and then I rushed off to the next location.   I didn’t think much of it.

 

And then I was sitting outside the Production Office looking over my script for the next scene and the water works came flooding.  It didn’t feel like a friend or a relative had died. It felt like a part of my imagination or a sliver of my work had died.  I love all of my characters. I write characters who I would want to know, hang out with, fuck, write a song with, have deep conversations with, in fact, I do all of these things with my characters.  I love the actors who play them and I love the actors more when they are the characters.  It may not make sense to you. That’s fine.  But for me yesterday when I knew Dean was dead that the character could never live on in another film I grieved.

I love Dean. Dean Refuzor in my mind forever.

 

 

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Directing the Intuitive Actor

6 Jun

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Its hard for me to express my love for actors.  They dedicate their lives to exposed vulnerability in a world that insists we shut that part of ourselves out. Yet they continue to explore that part of themselves.

 

Give me a bare room with two great actors filling a need and I will be engrossed.  For me the story and the actors are the essentials.

As a kid I used to write plays and I can remember being very conscious that I wanted the story to “move” people.  Even now people will ask me why I make films and in my head I will be thinking, “to move you.”

 

My job as a director is to create the structure for an actor to be vulnerable.

The structure I live by is…YES.  Yes to every choice the actor makes.  He needs to trust himself. To trust that his instinct is dead on. When his instinct is turned on then his intuition is turned on and then he is operating in a world where art is created. He can then wow me, swoon me, and ultimately move you.

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Dean and Loud where 7 plus 7 makes 105

1 Jun

Dean. We can’t rescue him. By the end of the film he can’t see anything beautiful about himself.  He loses it. Where do we see it? We see it in Loud. We see Loud’s heart break for him. There’s a loss there for him. A deep loss of a brother dying. Of someone who can’t keep it together. His best friend, his youth is gone.  During his last scene with Dean we see Loud want to save the relationship with Dean.  We see his struggle. We see that it doesn’t work. We see that Dean is beyond rescuing.

 

LOUD (V.O)

The Bhakti should move to LA. We would have a way better chance if we could go to LA. More people.

INT. HAUNT BATHROOM

Dean walks into bathroom.

He sweats and shakes

LOUD (V.O)

More chances to meet someone who can help us. I gotta get Dean to move. How can I do that? He doesn’t have any money. He’s never had a job. I could go first. Look it over. Get it all set-up and then he could come out. We could tour on our way down there.

INT. HAUNT

P.O.V: LOUD WATCHES DEAN REENTER SPACE

LOUD (V.O)

There’s a way to do it. Lexter wouldn’t have said we were good enough if he didn’t mean it.

 

So the interesting question becomes why does Dean give up?  I hate addiction. For the same reasons that I hate yoga.  Its too simple. People see those two worlds and write them off. Write them off as uninteresting. Too simple.  Why? I want to know why people give up? I want to know why say fuck it to the struggle of pain?  Why does the universe give us so much consciousness that we choose to not be conscious? I don’t know the answers. I know that its heartbreaking. I know that in The Bhakti Boy I’ve written an unbelievable soul that drops away. And I know that there are childhood circumstances and bad luck and lots of other fucked up reasons why people get addicted. But I also know that there is a deep mystery, an unexplainable mystery, an X file, where 7 plus 7  makes 105 and I don’t understand it.  And this is the story of Dean.  And for his best friend Loud there is sadness, confusion, and eventually the need to let Dean go.

 

 

 

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The werewolf jaws of fear

31 May

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One of the last scenes of The Bhakti Boy takes place inside werewolf jaws.  Let me reassure you that it all makes sense within the context and storytelling of the film.

 

DAIMON

Dean. What are you doing? You missed the show.

DEAN

I’m dead man.

DAIMON

What? Am I dead too?

DEAN

I don’t think so. You aren’t cold.

DAIMON

You are. But maybe I died differently. Why else would I be here?

DEAN

I don’t think so man.

Dean shows a knife in his chest

DEAN (CONT’D)

Look. It doesn’t hurt. This is

weird. We crossed paths somehow.

 

Essentially the idea is that somewhere between Dean traveling through death and Daimon having a black out drug moment the two characters cross paths and end up in werewolf jaws.  The two opposing characters, Dean and Daimon, are at the opposite ends of the spectrum. Dean, physically dead but not in pain, and Daimon, physically alive but in pain.

So what is the significance?  Why is this scene so important?

This scene is important because Daimon needs to see that death is not painful. In fact death is pain free.  Daimon who is running scared in life and therefore never fully living witnesses the bliss in death and that death is not scary.

At the time I was writing The Bhakti Boy I was extremely anxious about my choices and path of being a filmmaker.  There were (still are) many fears that I am challenged with in being an independent filmmaker and I believe they are all rooted in my ultimate fear of death. That the fear of death is the root cause of all my other fears.  This scene is my attempt to try and understand those fears, challenge them, and maybe one day come to a place of acceptance. 

 

Maggot brain shirt design

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Everything useful inside my mind.

28 May

THIS MAY SOUND FUCKED UP.

When you make a film you use everything. You use power, sexuality, intelligence, wit, sarcasm, manipulation, everything to make the vision you see in your head.   Everything ugly and lovely comes out.  One moment I’m in complete disgust of how I just reacted and then the next I’m in awe of something my brain conceived two years ago and is playing out in a way cooler way I could’ve imagined.  The key is that you have to be completely self aware of what you are doing, how you’re playing the roll of the dice at every moment or else you can lose your footing. That’s why you have to treat yourself like a world class olympian during a shoot. Physically, emotionally and mentally or else you won’t get what you need to convey what is interesting in the story.

 

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Director’s Dreams: Daimon’s Fears, Vinyl’s lack of faith

25 May

Fear. What is the salve of fear? A true spiritual calling.   Allowing fear to control your life and letting it dictate your decisions is not living. If you let your fears be at the command center of your choices then the need to satiate and avoid your fears becomes essential.

The difference between Daimon and Vinyl. Daimon faces his fears. He enters the jaws of them, accepts them, and chooses to face them so that he can find his true spiritual calling and devotion.

Vinyl cannot and does not face his fears.  He operates his life avoiding his fears and using drugs, sex, music, and power to keep them at bay in hopes that he won’t have to look at them. Inherently, Vinyl does not have a belief in devotion. In a higher spiritual calling. This is his falling. There is nothing bigger than himself. This is a curse in life.  He doesn’t know this.  He just knows something is wrong.  To believe in devotion is a gift that we are given.  Some people understand it some people don’t.  A lack of faith can feel like you are losing your mind. Like there is a glitch somewhere and you don’t know how to remedy it. Vinyl knows there is something missing and he can’t place it. When he is in jail it is haunting him. There is a missing link or (something lodged in his brain.) To not have faith would make someone feel crazy.  Think of what not having faith would mean in your life? How much distrust in yourself that naturally brings?

Why do we fear? Because we have something at stake.  Because we actually care.  Partially Vinyl is so fearless because he doesn’t actually give a shit about anything. Daimon fears because life is important because life is here for devotion.   And so to face our fears with the chance of not overcoming them or failing (ie. grabbing the mic and singing) is far worst then challenging his fears.  Daimon is someone who puts high expectations on himself…a life of high spiritual devotion…and to think that life may not have that intended for him is really fucking scary. Far more scary than running. Until it gets so bad that by the end of the film his only choice is to face them.

When he shoots up at the end. It has to be about, “I can do this on my own. I can fuck up my own life if I want.”  The moment when he stares at the werewolf mouth is pivotal. If he chooses to not enter that mouth, to avoid, to keep running, then he won’t find his spiritual calling. Then he will choose drugs, the other path of spiritual death.

 

 

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A Yaqui Warrior

24 May

My great grandmother was a native american in the tribe of the Yaqui.  The Yaqui’s were known to be fierce, fighting, brutal warriors who were a tight knit tribe.  I’m a Yaqui director. The sheer tenacity and will it takes to push this story through, to convey the vision I’ve been implanting and meticulously creating for the past 2.5 years requires me to be collaborative within my own tribe  and lead them through the battle to the victory of art.

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