Posts Tagged 'Hollywood'

Episode 171: Please, stop lying

This week on the O The Anthem Podcast: Cory says uber eats has the worst customer service, Hollywood blames Rotten Tomatoes for the summer box office, Donald Trump Jr can’t stop fibbing, and is the Senate bill dead?

 

 

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Episode 152: The Russia Sessions

This week on the podcast, Cory is getting more film work, SNL is back, Trump has a congressional address, Jeff Sessions lies about ties to Russia, and seven Baltimore police officers are indicted.

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SHOW NOTES

Jeff Sessions lies

Trump accuses Obama of wire tap…for some reason

Read the comments on this

So the Keystone pipeline won’t use American steel after all

Herotics – Episode Three: Celebrity

Episode 110: We Love LA

This week on the podcast, Cory is taking a trip to Las Vegas and Los Angeles, Donald Trump apparently acted as his own spokesman, George Zimmerman is auctioning off the gun that killed Trayvon Martin, the Capitals are eliminated from the playoffs again, the Edward Nero trial is underway, and when will the Baltimore mayor’s race be final?

 

Also the Store is now up!  Go get your shirts for Orioles games at The O The Anthem Store

 

 

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Show Notes

Donald Trump was his own spokesmen for a time apparently

George Zimmerman get’s the “Dude really?” of the year so far

Prosecution rests in Edward Nero Trial

Once again, we aren’t positive who won the Democratic primary in the Mayors race

Spotlight episode 71: One Year Later…

Every week, we take the best moments from the podcast and put it together in a truncated video we call the Spotlight.  If you enjoy the show, check out the podcast at otheanthem.com/podcast

This week on the Spotlight, we talk about the NFL Preseason and the Ravens, Ferguson one year later, and the disaster that is Fantastic Four.

 

 

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Episode 71: One Year Later

This week we talk about the Ravens and the NFL preseason, What is going on in Ferguson a year later, Fantastic 4 just keeps getting more and more crazy, and AT&T and the NSA are going to different levels to spy on you.

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Show Notes

Cop bragged on Facebook about Michael Brown bonus

Ex Baltimore Cop on Joe Rogan Podcast

AT&T and the NSA had a spying partnership

The Academy Awards (and Genesis Series update)

It’s that time of year again, where the brightest stars descend upon the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.  This year more than any in recent memory the competition has been fierce, with lots of great contenders at all the top awards.  I will be live tweeting the event (OTheAnthem on Twitter) but I figure there was no better time than now to give my predictions, and who I would pick to win.

Original Screenplay

Prediction: Dallas Buyers Club (Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack)

My Pick:  Her (Spike Jonze)

Adapted Screenplay

Prediction: 12 Years a Slave (John Ridley)

My Pick:  The Wolf of Wall Street

Acheivement In Sound Mixing

Prediction: Gravity (Skip Livsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Bernstead and Chris Munro)

My Pick: Gravity (Skip Livsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Bernstead and Chris Munro)

Acheivement in Sound Editing

Prediction: Gravity (Glenn Freemantle)

My Pick: Gravity (Glenn Freemantle)

Achievement in Visual Effects

Prediction:  Gravity (Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould)

My Pick:  Gravity (Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould)

Best Live Action Short Film

Prediction:  Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Xavier Legrand and Alexandre Gavras)

My Pick:  The Voorman Problem (Mark Gill and Baldwin Li)

Best Animated Short

Predition:  Get A Horse! (Lauren MacMullan and Dorothy McKim)

My Pick:  Get A Horse! (Lauren MacMullan and Dorothy McKim)

Original Song

Prediction:  “Happy” Despicable Me 2 (Pharrell Williams)

My Pick:  “Let it Go” Frozen (Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez)

Original Score

Prediction:  Saving Mr. Banks (Thomas Newman)

My Pick:  Her (William Butler and Owen Pallett)

Achievement in Production Design

Prediction:  Gravity (Production Design: Andy Nicholson, Set Decoration:  Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard)

My Pick:  Her (Production Design:  Catherine Martin, Set Decoration: Beverly Dunn)

Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling

Prediction:  Dallas Buyers Club (Adruitha Lee and Robin Matthews)

My Pick:  Dallas Buyers Club (Adruitha Lee and Robin Matthews)

Best Foreign Language Film

Prediction:  The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium)

My Pick:  The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium)

Achievement in Film Editing

Prediction:  Gravity (Alfonson Cuaron and Mark Sanger)

My Pick:  Gravity (Alfonson Cuaron and Mark Sanger)

Best Documentary Short Subject

 Prediction:  Prison Terminal:  The Last Days of Private Jack Hall (Edgar Barens)

My Pick:  The Lady in Number 6:  Music Saved My Life (Malcolm Clarke and Nicholas Reed)

Best Documentary Feature

Prediction:  20 Feet from Stardom (Morgan Neville, Gil Friesen and Caitlin Rogers)

My Pick:  The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sorensen)

Achievement in Costume Design

Prediction:  American Hustle (Michael Wilkinson)

My Pick:  American Hustle (Michael Wilkinson)

Best Animated Feature

Prediction:  Frozen (Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee and Peter Del Vecho)

My Pick:  Frozen (Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee and Peter Del Vecho)

Achievement in Cinematography

Prediction:  Gravity (Emmanuel Lubezki)

My Pick:  Inside Llewyn Davis (Bruno Delbonnel)

Achievement in Directing

Prediction:  Gravity (Alfonso Cuaron)

My Pick:  Gravity (Alfonso Cuaron)

Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Prediction:  Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)

My Pick:  Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)

Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Prediction:  Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

My Pick:  Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Prediction:  Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)

My Pick:  Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)

Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Prediction:  Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

My Pick:  Leonardo DiCaprio (Wolf of Wall Street)

Best Motion Picture of the Year

Prediction:  12 Years a Slave

My Pick:  Her

In my honest opinion, I didn’t like 12 Years a Slave that much (I would have ranked it seventh out of nine) but it feels like it will be the runaway winner.  I do think that Gravity will take home the most statues based off of the scale and magnitude of the project, but won’t take home the top prize.  It will be shocking if the Academy doesn’t choose 12 Years a Slave, Gravity, or American Hustle; though I think Her was a near flawless film.  Still a little bummed that Inside Llewyn Davis was snubbed out of a spot in Best Picture, even if it didn’t have an honest shot at winning.

Genesis Series Update!

O The Anthem Genesis SeriesSo here is the deal cats and chicks, It took way longer than I ever hoped to get the Genesis Series posted because I was at the will of music rights holders for an incomprehensible amount of time.  I am happy to say that the light is at the end of the tunnel and I will be able to release this sucker in the next 10 days.  While I don’t believe that the first 10 films I have made are the best representation of me at the top of my game, I think it is an important part of being an artist to share your work, and to (when applicable) share what you learned from the process.   Regardless, I knew I promised the Genesis Series soon as of December, but I am ready to roll it out and I hope you all enjoy it.

Enjoy the Academy Awards, and be sure to follow me on Twitter if you want to join in on the discussion on film’s biggest night!

The New York Film Academy

It was a combination of excitement and exhaustion that came with me on my first day at the New York Film Academy.  For the past week I had been taking the rare opportunity it was to sleep in late and I was taking full advantage of it.  Not on the first day though, the first day I wanted to take my time, get showered and dressed, have a nice breakfast, and head over to the main building nice and early.  Everyone from all the programs were there, acting, film making, and writing.  We all met at the building and filled out our paperwork, and then waited.  Erin had suggested I use the opportunity to make friends, but I was nervous.  Everyone looked nervous, and conversations that were being had were all nervous chit-chat.  They took us for tours around the different buildings that NYFA occupied, and we learned about how intense this program was going to be.  We were going to learn a little bit of everything, and leave with the ability to make better films.  It was exactly what I had signed up for.

I was so tired, but our first class was that night and I was focused.  It was camera class, a subject I clearly needed a lot of help in judging from my previous films.  This was when our classes were broken up into the groups we would be in for the rest of the course, and I wanted to make a good impression and make friends.  It was in that class at that moment that all my previous school experience came out in an instant.  I wanted to be engaged,  I wanted to show that I deserved to be there, and I wanted to endear myself to my class mates.

Instead, I fell asleep in the middle of asking a question.

I was horrified, and embarrassed.  Everyone else laughed, and I shrugged it off as not being acclimated to west coast time yet.  I thought I was over; a joke.  Luckily for me the group of people I had been placed with have proven to be some of the nicest, most compassionate people I have ever met.  I was the lone American in the group, and one of two men; but each of them brought a passion and talent I will not soon forget.

Motaz and I became really close, as we would car pool to class together from Oakwood where we both were living.  He came here from Egypt, and he had one of the kindest hearts I had ever seen.  He was always there for you and he wanted to help everyone.  His films always were about the message, and it was very important to him that his film meant something.  He would be in my smaller crew when we would go off and shoot our projects, and our crew of three also included Noua.

Noua is an incredible friend and an incredible film maker, no matter how much she beats herself up over her finished films.  Of the nine people we had in the class, she was one of five Brazilians.  She has a great taste in music, is funny, nice and always there to help you out in a jam.  Plus I knew we would be close friends when I saw her celebrating her futbol (soccer) teams victory following one of our classes.  As long as she remains a by proxy fan of my Baltimore Orioles, I will hold a place in my heart for Clube Atlético Mineiro.

Barbara, Jessica, Luciana and Ana made up the rest of the Brazilians.  Barbara made some of the most incredible works of the entire course, and I still remember fondly the rest of the class being in awe of her music video project.  She really has a great talent and makes visually stunning works.   Jessica worked in the crew with Barbara and had turned out some exceptional work in her own right.  When I needed an assistant director for my final project, she was who I went with, she had a natural eye that I identified with immediately.   Ana was the third member of that crew, and she had a truly incredible video she showed in editing class inspired by Mia Wallace in Reservoir Dogs that was on point.

Luciana was in the final crew with Lucia of Spain and Nuria of Mexico.  Luciana and Nuria each had their focus in writing, which is where I had devoted much of my film making time to as well.  If there was a picture in the dictionary next to the word sweetheart, Luciana would be right there.  She is one of the nicest people I have ever met and you know when she looks at you that she really cares.  Nuria’s writing in the class was something I always enjoyed getting a chance to read, because she had such a unique and focused vision of what she was trying to get across.  Lucia was my smoking buddy.  During every break in class you would find me and Lucia over by the ash tray talking about class, movies and music.  She is a dear friend, and I really miss what she brought to class.

Now that the cast of characters are out of the way, we are back to my soul crushing embarrassment.  All I could think is that I was going to be the outcast from this point on, and there was no coming back from this.  Let me tell you my first film school lesson though, if you are nice and listen and treat people right, embarrassing moments are nothing more than funny stories you all laugh about.  It was during the third day of classes, when we took a trip out to Griffith Park for camera work with a 16mm arriflex that we all started to gel and become friends.  The conversation on the shuttle was engaging, and the fun we had at the park was educational and enjoyable.

The class schedule, and the filming schedule were both grueling.  It seemed like I spent all day in class, or writing, or calling actors, or getting details ready to shoot, or shooting.  Don’t take that sentiment for one second as complaining, because god knows that schedule is just as grueling when you shoot a movie anywhere.  I don’t know if I would have been able to do it without the awesome teachers, awesome classmates, and my awesome long-lost friend Zach.

I first met Zach at Hofsta where we became fast friends.  Zach, Rob and I would often go for late night trips to sbarros, hang out and get into long-winded conversations.  He transferred about the same time as I was getting out of there and we hadn’t seen each other until I made the trip to LA.  Zach was now working for NYFA in the editing building, and I was so happy to see him again.  When I saw him it was like we picked up right where we had left off.  We spent most of our time at Zach’s apartment, watching all kinds of movies.  Our night with JCVD and our two nights with Cloud Atlas are nights I won’t soon forget, and the fact that I got to go out and celebrate his birthday with him made me very happy.  It’s great to know that I can be apart from someone like Zach and pick right up where we left off.  Having a friend like him made the time I spent 3000 miles away from home that much easier.

While I was in LA, I also got to become close with Jenni, who I acted with in a show back home in Maryland.  Her and her husband had just moved across the country from Maryland and it was nice to have friends from home.  From our night out at the pool hall, to the Angel game; it was great to have friends from home.

As far as the teachers go, it was amazing to learn at the hands of these talented professionals.  The two who lead the way the most were our directing teacher Nils Taylor and our camera teacher Travis Hoffman.  Both were exceedingly professional and great people to learn and spend time with.  I hope that with enough focus on my craft I can live up to the example they set for us in class.  What really amazed me about them both is with even the short amount of time I had classes with them, they instantly reached that small pantheon of teachers I really love, and knew that they cared about their students and helping us succeed.  Anything I do from this point on will be thanks in no small part to the two of them.

The course was broken up into projects, with each week we basically had a different project that was to progress our talents as film makers.  The first project was a mise-en-scène, which is French for placing on stage.  The objective was to shoot a short film, in one shot and tell a story.  The week prior to shooting we had a casting session with the incoming students from NYFA’s acting department, which is where I met Nick Holmes.  Innocently enough, Nick and I first bonded over the fact that we both smoked, and after the audition portion of the casting session, I asked if he wanted to sneak down for a cigarette.  I was very taken by his performance, and when I talked to him downstairs I my intuition proved true that he had previous stage training in London, his home town.  I knew I had a leading man.  There were many great actors I met that day, and many I had the pleasure with working with.  I will point them out as we go along here.

Nick was my man though, I knew him the second I saw him he had what it took to play the part for my mise-en-scène.  I also cast Austyn Orci, who was a fabulous and beautiful young woman who had the ability to paint an emotion on her face.  Between the two of them, I knew I had my short.  Shot on 16mm, it was my first experience with film (having shot exclusively digital for all previous work) and I was very excited with the opportunity.  My scene was about the importance our technology has on society, much to the detriment of real relationships.  It is a silent film, so don’t worry that your speakers aren’t working…

Our next project was a continuity project and it was my first opportunity to work with Lorena Vignau.  She is a tremendous talent, and a very trusting artist.  She always seemed so excited to work, and was always on point with what I was trying to communicate with her.  The purpose of the continuity was to expand the short to multiple shots and multiple angles.  It was the first time I had faced adversity with a project as well, because the matte box had slipped down during the shoot, and every single shot had the matte box creating a makeshift border around every frame.  In addition, my attempts to properly expose a shot from inside a closet onto a harsh flourescent bathroom light created a grainy dark image.  When I first got to the post production building to begin editing, I thought I was going to cry.  The one concern I always had with shooting on film was not knowing what the product would look like until I had gotten it back, and the footage was a disaster.  I was crushed, and it wasn’t because it was a film I wrote and directed; it was because so many other people had been there to help and it was their film way more than mine.  Noua shot something that looked great, Motaz lit the thing like he was in my head looking at my imagination, and poor Lorena in another part with no dialogue put together an awesome performance.  I felt like I let everyone down.  But here was self learned film school lesson number two:  shit happens on every shoot, what you make of it determines how talented you are as a film maker.  So I put the time in at the editing room.  I reframed every shot, I color corrected and fine tuned the image to the best of my abilities, and I worked as hard as I could to make sure the performance carried the film.  Lorena saved me with her craft, and I won’t soon forget how awesome she is.

Sadly I put music to the flick, and I wanted to make sure I had clearance to use it before I put it on YouTube.  Stay tuned though, that is coming soon.

With the way Lorena and her abilities bailed me out during the continuity project, I knew I wanted to secure her for my music video project.  It would be our first shoot where we got to use the Canon 5D Mark III, and I wanted to try something different, something to push my abilities technically.  Motaz was unavailable to assist on this project, but I gathered up a crew of Noua, Luciana and Nuria and we plugged away late into the night on a project that many a student can appreciate, study or party.  Best laid plans: the shots I had intended to match together were not perfectly in sync.  I would happily try to push myself now while learning rather than do it when there is money riding on its success.  Regardless of its overall execution, I still think it is an awesome film, and Lorena and my crew knocked it out of the park…

One of the truly incredible experiences of going to NYFA in Los Angeles was the opportunity to shoot on the backlot of Universal Studios for our production workshops.  The first production workshop was on the Wisteria Lane set, where they had shot Desperate Housewives.  Noua and Motaz each shot a production on that day, I was left to DP and AC for the two of them.  The second production workshop was all me and Motaz though, and that took place on the famous Western Set.  The goal was simple, come up with a short silent movie, shoot it in 16 mm, and try to push yourself, learn something as a film maker.  The first was about a boyfriend and girlfriend checking out a scenic old building when the femme fatale comes by and starts breaking necks.  It stars Magda Howard, a pure delight and ball of sunshine as the girlfriend, Franciely Gonzaga as the femme fatale who is talented and funny actress and celebrity back in her native Brazil.  The boyfriend was played by Anany Anand who I had acted with in Motaz’s mise-en-scène and Luciana’s music video project.  He has a great look and is very funny, and it was a real pleasure to work with him again.

After lunch, I shot a film with Sofia Flores and El McKnight that was more a technical exercise than a compelling narrative.  With the help of our teacher’s aide Derek, he helped Motaz and myself put together shots through the reflections in the glass, and I thought it looks awesome.  Don’t look for too much meaning in this one, it was purely for practice.

It was this point in the school year that we had a little more time to ourselves, as there was no projects to shoot for a week.  I took the opportunity to see Scriptnotes 100, a live taping of the best screenwriting podcast out there hosted by John August and Craig Mazin (check out the podcast at John’s website http://www.johnaugust.com ).  It was an awesome show at the Academy Theatre in Hollywood, and I got a chance to meet fellow screenwriters Alina Brosh McKenna and Rawson Marshall Thurber.  When I told Rawson that my brother and me loved to quote the line “I believe you’ve met my fitness consigliere Me’Shell” I could see it really touched him, and I hoped that someday something that I write and direct will have the same impact on someone else.

I also got the opportunity to introduce Motaz and Noua to baseball and the Baltimore Orioles with a game at Petco Park in San Diego.  It was so nice to make the drive down, and awesome to see my birds live for the first time in forever.  My favorite part was teaching Motaz and Noua baseball, and trying to get them hooked on the sport I love.  They aren’t Buster Olney, but they seemed to have a great time.

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Motaz and Noua sure do like to make the funny faces

The next project was our Checkovian projects, where they provided dialogue, and told us to make a project using the lines.  The idea is that each individual project would be different (which it was) and that it would give us a chance to really work with actors on crafting a performance to match the project.  Casting for this project was a nightmare; as I had tried to use exclusively acting students but most of my favorites had already left (with the exception of Nick who was unavailable).  Luckily I was able to secure Sofia again, and when I went to pick up Sofia I met Roberto, who filled in for me having to act in the thing myself.  Roberto and I became very close, he is a tremendous talent and is a load of fun  to have around.  We ended up acting together on Noua’s Checkovian film and had a hard time from keeping a straight face most of the time.  My project was a fun set as well, and we all worked well to make an awesome little project.  I specifically went into this project with the desire to make a visually stimulating piece, ala directors David Fincher or Darren Aronofsky (two of my favorites).  It took a lot of planning, but in the end I think I have a clear break from the aesthetic look of my previous works.

All that was left was the final project…anything we wanted to do, write, direct, edit something that is all yours.  I had a script that I had started back home I wanted to use, all I had to do was finish writing it, cast it, and secure permits.  I had saved money throughout the program by shooting in my apartment, and was ready to splurge (relatively) speaking.  It started with an awesome service called Cazt which Nils had turned us on to, where I had met some truly fantastic actors.

I had already picked Nick as my lead, but needed to find two movie star level looking females to complete the love triangle.  The first actress to walk in the room for an audition was Fernanda Rohd, and I knew there was something special right there in the room.  For anyone who has never auditioned, it is tough, way tougher than you can imagine.  What I got from Fernanda was someone who knew how to read the script, and hit it close to perfect the first time she read.  The funny thing is when I was making my notes in the audition, the only question I had (though slight) was her timing and cadence.  When she was on set though, she was nothing short of perfect.  Timing is not something you can teach and when the camera was rolling she knew how to bring it.  I told Fernanda when I dropped off her copy of the film and whole heartedly mean it; the only actress I have seen that combined ability with a natural sense of timing like that was Sarah Paulson in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.  Casting session lesson learned:  Audition is preposterously tough and don’t sweat the small stuff.

The other amazing talent Cazt introduced me to was Emilly Thomas.  She was the last person to enter the room and blew me away with her ability.  I honestly thought I was watching a young Jennifer Connelly when she was auditioning, she was so natural, one of her enviroment so much.  I felt like I struck gold twice in one morning, and was so excited to be in the position I was in.  Name any two actresses, pick your two favorites, a dream cast…I felt that walking out of Cazt that morning.  Combined with Nick and his natural ability to be hilarious, I thought what could go wrong.  Don’t count your chickens as they like to say.

Problem one came with Film LA, the permitting agency for Los Angeles.  I’m sure I will write a blog in the future about the issue they like to call runaway productions, where LA based productions leave town with there cast and crew to shoot somewhere that is cheaper or less stressful.  After one project dealing with Film LA, I never wanted to have to shoot here again.  The degree of difficulty, and driving around town I had to do to lock down locations was maddening.  Granted I was trying to get permits in a week, but the fact that I had so much trouble does not make me, the young aspiring filmmaker, want to ever be LA based.

The next problem came the day of shooting at Grand Park.  I had helped Barbara on her final for most of the night, and got about two hours of sleep going into production.  While I have had very few problems shooting on a skeleton crew up until this point, I learned the untold benefit of having spare people.  In my exhaustion, I had left the food I had purchased for the set in my apartment, as well as the backup battery for the camera.  Motaz was very ill the day of the shoot so everything had to be run by just Noua and myself.  Everyone was understanding, and really helped out the best they could, and I was so thankful for their outstanding professionalism, but the battery came back to haunt me, and kept me from getting the shots of Emilly that I had planned for that day.  After briefly considering shooting it with my phone, before ruling that out as a terrible idea, I closed down shooting for that day and worked with Emilly on shooting the remainder of her shots on another day.  More problems plagued that day however as the camera was having trouble recording in the full HD resolution that I wanted.  Overall despite the problems I was very happy with the final film, but always wonder how much better it would have been without the slew of problems we kept encountering while shooting at Grand Park.

Like the continuity project, I have some musical issues I am trying to work through before I can post the video, but stay tuned for a future blog post.

After all the writing, the shooting and the editing; the day had come for our final showing.  I loved the projects that everyone showed, and It was a very sad day because I knew my time with these remarkable artists was coming to an end.  We got our certificates, we hugged and planned for a night out together to celebrate our success.

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From L-R Nuria, Luciana, Lucia, Barbara, myself, Motaz, Ana, Noua, Jessica and Nils

There were two separate nights of celebration.  First I went out to the soul/funk club with Noua, Jessica, and Barbara.  It was an awesome night, and the first moment I knew I was going to really miss all these people who had meant so much to me over the last couple of months.  The last time as a group, was out at Bubba Gump’s on the Universal City work, the night before I left, where I would say my proper good byes.

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From L-R Luciana, Noua, Nuria, Motaz, Myself, Lucia, Jessica and Barbara

We looked back on all that we had done and experienced.  We remembered fondly all the moments we shared.  We shared gifts and laughed.  The thing that made the experience so sad was that for many of us, this would be the last opportunity we may ever see each other.  It hurts when you grow so close, and you know that you may never spend time like you did.  Though the parable of Zach holds true in this moment more than any other.  I become friends with Zach in New York, and years pass between seeing each other.  When we finally get together, we pick up right where we left off, and the value of friends who are there for you no matter how much time passes between visits is monumental.  Everyone from my time in LA is in my heart forever, and I will always be there for you.  I am here for you all, no matter what you need.

CHECK OUT THE PEOPLE I TALKED ABOUT IN THIS BLOG

Nils Taylor                facebook

Lorena Vignau         facebook

Lucia Luben              website

Fernanda Rohd       website  facebook  twitter

I drove from Baltimore to Los Angeles to go to New York

March 10th was the day where the dreaming began, on the High Line in New York City.  Erin, Ashley, Dave and I had driven to New York for a day trip.  It was mostly an excuse for Erin and Ashley to enjoy an exhibit on Harry Potter at Discovery Time Square, but there was lots of the trip for everyone to enjoy.  One moment in particular was going to B&H and admiring all the video technology I could ever need or want.  Erin was trying to talk me into maxing out a credit card on a higher end camera than the Canon I had been shooting my movies on to that point.  I didn’t buy anything that day, but knew I would be back before I was ready to make the leap from short to feature-length film maker.

We went from B&H to the High Line, which is parks converted from old rail lines if you have never been.  We sat looking out on the streets of New York when she handed me a pamphlet and proposed the idea.

“Why don’t you go to film school?”

I had gotten questioned about going back to school before, and I’m fairly certain the idea of film school in particular came up.  The idea never interested me, I always thought that I would be a film maker who did without it.  I seemed to have a vision, a clear sense for what I wanted to see and hear, and a unique voice.  But from that moment on, the question permeated.  Were my technical abilities holding me back from my dreams?  At B&H I wondered while looking at a plethora of cameras, which would be the best for me?  I did not wonder because I had so many to choose from, but rather because I had no idea what I was looking for.  I threw the question around for a while in my head, always resigning to the fact that my 7 day a week job was far to hectic to allow me to ever leave for school for any amount of time.

Months later, my job had changed and I was itching to change things up in my life.  After many talks with Erin, my family and friends, I decided to drive across the country to Los Angeles and study film at the New York Film Academy.

In my next blog (part 2 of 3) I will explain why I chose NYFA, and talk about my time there.  For now however, this is a story about the open road and a drive out west…

June 25th I woke up at Erin’s house with the car fully packed, and we went for an early breakfast at Denny’s.  I wanted to be on the road by 7, but we woke up late and didn’t start our meal until 8ish.  It was a tough breakfast, though it was tough to tell if it was because Erin was going to miss me so much, or if she was tired and wanted to go back to bed.  Either way, we had a pleasant conversation and talked about how much we were going to miss each other.   When breakfast was over, I filled up the car, bought a copious amount of sugar-free Red Bull, and was on my way.

Day 1:  Drive to Detroit

I had chosen a fairly unusual course to LA, at least according to my father.  I decided since I have never been to Chicago, I would drive north in the direction of Chicago before driving west to Los Angeles.  I decided 8-10 hours of driving a day would be about my limit, so I picked Detroit as my first stop along the way, and I was very happy with the decision.  Detroit is clearly a city in disrepair, and no words can accurately describe what it is like to be there.  The vacants, between the old train station and the abandoned skyscrapers in downtown, are extremely fascinating.

It was a true parable for America, and an interesting first stop in the cross-country trip.  It is shocking to me what the divide between the highs and the lows in this country can be, and no place encapsulates that quite like Detroit.  The streets were empty, and I went to the city center and found myself alone.  It seemed like everyone in town was at the Tigers game (which I wanted to go to, but didn’t arrive in time).  To truly understand what it is like to live in a poor city, I found nothing quite as shocking or eye-opening as Detroit.

Day 2 and 3:  Chicago

The short drive to Chicago was very pleasant, getting to see “The Big House” (Michigan Stadium) was quite a sight to see.  It would take 3 months before I said to myself again that I have never seen anything that large.

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I arrived in Chicago around 6:00, and knew that time was of the essence if I wanted to drop off my stuff, get checked into the hotel and get on the subway to see the White Sox game.  Along the way I learned why Chicago is not the city for me…

-Terrible cell phone service because of all the large buildings.

-Cigarettes cost $15 a pack

-Public transportation is too slow, certainly not on pace with a city like New York, and it’s not a driver friendly city.

When I finally arrived at US Cellular Field, I was shocked by how quiet the home town club was.  I still to this day do not know what the crowd cheers to pump up the local nine (Let’s Go White Sox?  Go Sox Go?  Not the Cubbies?).  I felt more inspired checking out Wrigley Field the next day.  It was an amazing place to be, and I can’t wait to go back and catch an O’s game in the future.

It was cool to go up to the top of Willis Tower, worth going out on the ledge if you aren’t scared of heights…

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Day 4:  Kansas City

This was a day where all the driving caught up with me.  Coincidentally, this is where a lot of the country started to look the same.  Along the way I did stop in St Louis, saw the Arch and had some awesome BBQ at Bogart’s.  I had every intention of going to catch a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse when I got to Kansas City, but the hotel was far away, and I was way too tired to do anything other than catch up on sleep.  I didn’t feel like I missed that much.

Day 5:  Denver

This drive was very long, and very boring.  If you have or ever plan on driving across the country, this is the place you want to save your most entertaining music or podcasts.  When you eventually reach the Rocky Mountains though, it’s like an aberration.  One of the most beautiful drives you will ever make are through those mountains.

Denver was an awesome city, and a place I would move to with joy if I had to.  It was gorgeous, and just an overall amazing city.

I walked down a street near city center and saw an interesting named place (I can’t remember it off the top of my head, for the sake of story, let’s call it Mary Jane’s).  So I was walking down the street and I saw Mary Jane’s and wondered if this was a marijuana depot of some kind.  Just as I approached it, I saw a group of guys outside all smoking joints.  The curiosity was killing me so I asked one of the pot smokers.

Cory:  I’m sorry if I sound like a complete tourist, but does this place sell weed?

Pot Smoker:  No, it’s a restaurant.

Cory:  Oh, I just saw you all smoking out here on the street and started to wonder.

Pot Smoker:  No, they can’t sell it til next year, but we all just smoke where ever and no one cares.

Cory:  So you guys must really be taking advantage of the new laws?

Pot Smoker:  No, honestly no one ever cared.

A thoroughly interesting conversation that I imagine will be coming to a town near you over the next decade or so.

Day 6:  Las Vegas

I woke up bright and early in preparation for a long drive to Vegas, I was hoping to get there in time to bet on and watch the Oriole-Yankee game happening later that night.  When I woke up I wore a sweatshirt, it was a brisk 63 degrees in Denver and I like to drive with the windows down.  Over the course of my drive through Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada the temperature rose to 120 degrees.  Completely unacceptable…

I didn’t arrive in time to put $20 on the O’s, but I did catch much of the game at a nice sports bar at New York, New York.  I’m not much of a gambler or show watcher, so most of my night in Vegas was spent on the roller coaster and walking the strip.  No matter what you like to do though, there is always something in Vegas for you.

Day 7:  Los Angeles

A short drive was all that was left from me and Los Angeles.  A journey of 3000 miles begins the journey of my career.   As I drove into Los Angeles, I flipped on my perfectly curated “Los Angeles Playlist”.  I drifted away in the art of others as I dreamed of allowing others to drift in to mine.  The next step in my life started when I checked into the Oakwood, where I would spend the next 2 1/2 months of my life.

Over the course of the week I spent in Los Angeles prior to the start of school, I took in the town.  I drove around a lot, I checked out the scene.  One thing in particular stood out though.

Fourth of July I was all alone, with no idea what to do.  I had seen online that Grand Park in downtown LA was having food trucks and fire works, so I thought that would be as good as it gets for a day honoring ‘Merica.

Needless to say I was bored pretty quick, and tired.  I had 5 hours until fireworks started so I decided to take a walk to a convenience store so I could get a red bull.  When I reached the Rite Aid, that’s when I saw it.  An old marquee for the Roxie Theatre.  I had heard tell of a music venue by the name of the Roxie before, but this could not be it.  The inside had t-shirts and other nick knacks.  I looked further down the road and saw more old theatres, the Cameo, The Arcade.  As I continued walking I saw beautiful old theatres, many repurposed for a variety of things, but was taken back.

Before the suburbs became all the rage, theatres in the city littered the blocks, all competing for the neighborhood and for a particular audience.  With the boom of multiplexes, these old-fashioned architectural masterpieces slowly died off.  All over Baltimore, I enjoy looking at these vacant palaces and think of the days when they were entertaining the city.  But here in Los Angeles, the movie capital of the world, was a row of them.  Each more magnificent than the one before it.  What it said to me is there is a place in the world for my movies.  I know that’s quite a leap, but these movie houses all played different movies, trying to attract specific audiences, and the days of the multiplex and 24 screens does the same thing today.  There is a place on 24 screens for my voice, and I was in the right place to make it happen.  I spent the rest of the afternoon reading up on the theatres of Broadway, United Artists, and the history of old Hollywood.  I was there now, and I was ready to get better and I was ready to bring it.

Next blog will detail the time I spent at New York Film Academy, the people I met, the teachers I had, the great actors I worked with and the experiences I had.  I look forward to telling you all about it.


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