COVID-19 has, well . . . (gestures to the general state of things ) . . . and it’s pretty bad.
However, the fine people at Zombie Orpheus Entertainment are hosting a FREE ONLINE VIRTUAL convention! Yes, that’s right! Check out this link to REGISTER. Be prepared to read instructions, and roll with the hiccups because it’s all new and never been tried before, but there will be opportunities for all the gaming/film convention things: games, exhibitors, artists, panels, film screenings, etc.
I’ll be part of the Gamers: The Shadow Menace screening with cast/crew watch-along tomorrow 4/25 at 10:30am PT!
There comes a time in the life of every performer when they’re asked “Do you think you could hit the gym before this project? You’re playing a barbarian.”
OK, no. That’s not true. At least, not for Dwayne Johnson. I think he walks past a rack of weights and just becomes a paragon of human physical training and development. (Love you DJ! I indeed do detect that which the Rock is in process of composing in the kitchen; it smells glorious.)
However, I did in fact visit a weight room and physical training edifice local to my place of dwelling, and the results, well, are now on film for good or ill.
This project is in the late stages of post-production, I’m told, with things like digital effects and color balancing being applied to footage at a torrid pace.
It aired live last night, but if you missed it, or want to see it again. . . well do I have a link for you! You can find the episode free to view on the GRIMM webpage, as well as streaming on such sites as Hulu, and Amazon Prime Instant Video! Check it out!
Once upon a time, I made some extremely shoestring-budget films with my college buddies. We were, and still are, nerds who like Star Trek and Dungeons and Dragons. With this confluence of influences, many of us actors at one time or another, and the available technology and willingness to make absolute fools of ourselves, we hit on the idea of filming the scripts of one Matt Vancil.
The first of these was Demon Hunters, quickly followed by Demon Hunters 2: Dead Camper Lake, and international cult hit The Gamers. I’m not making the international cult hit thing up, either. Copies of the DVD were sold to places like Finland, the UK of GB, the Baltic Republics (I’m looking at you, Lithuania) and many other fancy nations not in North America. All this was back in the days before digital streaming of videos, and we had to actually ship things physically from place to place, employing thousands of people rather than calling on our robot drone army to deliver items door-to-door.
After we’d finished filming The Gamers, I graduated from our liberal arts university, and being an ambitious nerd, moved to Chicago to attend graduate school.
While I was away from the beautiful Pacific Northwest, my friends incorporated themselves into a film company, Dead Gentlemen Productions. Under this aegis, they produced and filmed The Gamers: Dorkness Rising. For a while, in the early days of live streaming for Netflix, you could find it in their catalog. It was a big deal for the company, and totally raised the profile of our once little group of buddeez.
Not only had we entered the age of digital streaming, but my contact with the company changed as I moved to the middle of the continent and pursued my theatrical training and career to obsession. It is, after all, what one is supposed to do in graduate school for theatre. It’s also at this point in the story that I lost track of the day-in, day-out goings on in the ‘company’. Things were changing in my absence, which is not to say that had I been present, they would’ve remained the same.
I returned to the Pacific Northwest for reasons romantic. My then-girlfriend (now wife) Emilie had just landed a great job in Tacoma, and I, in my naïveté, thought “Well, I can continue my acting career anywhere! There’s a major theatre in Tacoma (the now defunct Tacoma Actor’s Guild), and it’s just a short commute to Seattle! The Dead Gentlemen guys have more stuff in the works, and I get to be with the lady I love!”
Within 6 months of landing in Tacoma I had indeed landed on my feet and continued my theatrical career. I had booked a school tour with The 5th Avenue Theatre’s Adventure Musical Theatre outreach: “Klondike! The Great Alaskan Gold Rush”, and landed a role in “Once Upon a Time in New Jersey” at The Village Theatre in Issaquah. The ‘walking-distance’ theatre I’d once dreamed of working at closed its doors mid-season in ignominy over mismanagement and profligate spending. And Dead Gentlemen Productions, still alive and kicking despite several key members moving to other states for film school, jobs, and educational opportunities, was indeed about to embark on another project.
Like what you see? There’s going to be more! The Dead Gentlemen return to their origin! From the DG website: “The Demon Hunters are back in a new weekly comic from Dead Gentlemen Productions! We’re taking things back to before the beginning with a new format, new stories, and a few surprises along the way. This is Demon Hunters the way it was always meant to be seen—without the limitations of a college film budget. Join the hunt on April 1st at Demon-Hunters.com!”
” Brooks Caldwell has it all: money, power, and a beautiful socialite wife. When Brooks makes plans for a weekend romp with his young mistress, his wife sets in motion an elaborate plot of revenge.”
Sounds fun, right?
A (gigantic) Tangent
Up here in southern Alaska, we’ve got something called Washington Filmworks. It’s a great organization with the stated goal to ” encourage growth in the film and video production industry for the economic benefit of Washington State. By offering productions extensive support–from location scouting to financial incentives–we’re helping Washington State reemerge as a premiere destination for motion picture production.”
A while ago, Washington, and Seattle were popular places to film. We had movies that put us on the map. “Sleepless in Seattle, ” anyone? But as producing film in Hollywood became more expensive, many US states began to subsidize film production to attract producers to make films away from Los Angeles, for less money. Maximize those profits, capitalists! The era of ‘Runaway Produciton’ began quickly, and has not yet let up. Washington state was not as quick on the draw to subsidize film production, nor as generous as several other states, and was quickly losing out on opportunities to bring film jobs north from California.
Enter our hero: Washington Filmworks. Washington State has had a Film Office since the 1970’s, but Washington Filmworks merged with the state film office to create a cyborg of incubation, subsidy, and resource-gathering that has allowed local filmmakers to hone their craft, and the state to attract production, and jobs in the film industry for crew, and (most importantly for me) actors.
An important part of Washington Filmworks’ mission is incentivizing film production through the State’s Motion Picture Competitiveness Program. Money for movies.
Bad luck? No! Good luck.
Especially for me. In 2012 I was cast in a film, partially funded by Washington Filmworks incentives. “A Bit of Bad Luck” starring Carey Elwes, Teri Polo, and Agnes Bruckner.
If you don’t blink, you can find me in the bar, where the film’s protagonist (Elwes) finds himself befriending the locals of a small town.
It was a great gig. I had one line of dialogue, which may have been with my back to the camera, depending on which shot the director and editor decided on. But for me, professional exposure in this film was far less important than my experience on set. I got to spend time on a union film set, and learn my way around, taking that experience with me. I got to meet Carey Elwes, who, aside from being a truly funny guy in front of the camera, was an absolute gentleman and complete professional in the most inspiring sense. I had a really enjoyable time, getting to work with my colleagues from the Seattle acting community in a setting where we often don’t find ourselves.
What’s the moral of this post?
There is no moral. I live in a state that cares about my industry, and I’ve seen a benefit from the State Government meddling in the purity of the market. You want a moral in every post, go write your own blog. (I think my political economy professor would be proud of me just now.)
As artists, we sometimes find ourselves taking projects just to keep working. The performing arts can oftentimes be a ‘what have you done for me lately’ industry, where your most recent effort on stage or screen becomes the entirety of how you’re viewed. To keep yourself in the eye of people who could/should be hiring you in the future, and to prevent the formation of artistic ‘rust’, you continue to work.
I know, as an actor that work itself is hard enough to come by, and completing roughly 3 full productions a year, plus or minus film work and voice-over gigs, is a pretty good pace. However, I’m not always doing the work I have a desire to do; the work that inspires and compels me to do it.
Which brings me to “Music and Lyrics,” the 2007 romantic comedy starring Drew Barrymore and Hugh Grant. I really was taken with this film, because I love music, lyrics, romantic comedies, Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore. It’s a story about honesty, artistic excellence, and integrity. Oh yeah, and two really neat characters fall in love. Formulaic? Yes, however there’s some great stuff in the formula, and it’s executed so well that I find myself drawn nearer to the characters, themes, and plot, rather than distanced from them.
In it, Hugh Grant’s character, an aging 1980’s pop star coming to terms with his nostalgic fame and lowered expectations says, referring to his accomplishments in light of his greatest musical influences (Smoky Robinson, Bob Dylan): “They write DINNER. I write dessert.”
Dinner. A satisfying meal that sustains one through the night. Simple or complex, it is artistic food he’s getting at. While I’ve grown through each project, developed as a performer and refined my craft with each opportunity to work and perform, I find myself really yearning for those fulfilling roles. The ones that stick to the audiences’ ribs. The roles people take home with them. I’ve had a taste of this in the last year and a half. I’ve had the great fortune to bring Dietrich Bonhoeffer and C.S. Lewis to the stage. I’ve also left my mark as Aguecheek in ‘Twelfth Night’ and formed part of a tremendous ensemble in ‘Antony and Cleopatra’. I stand behind all my work, but I find myself hungry again.
As another year draws to a close, I find myself making lists (it’s a compulsion of mine) and thinking about the year to come. A colleague recently asked me what roles I WANT. Not what roles I could be interested in, but what I desire to do; roles with words that compel me to speak them. What roles do I want?
Celebrating a successful run in Seattle Shakespeare’s “Antony and Cleopatra,” about to go into it’s final week of performances at the Intiman Playhouse at Seattle Center. This play is EPIC. Grand in scope and scale. Imposing. It’s not only one of Shakespeare’s great ‘late play’ triumphs, with indelible characters and themes that resonate as loudly today as they did when first produced 400 years ago, but for the same reasons, it’s far from dry or tedious. Sex, Politics, Battles on Land, Sea, and in the Bedroom, Ego, Hubris, Humiliation, Comedy and Drama are just some of the elements which combine to create a story that spans 10 of the most tumultuous years in the history of the Ancient World. Go see it. Here’s a link to Seattle Shakespeare’s website for tickets and more information.
Celebrating the release of HALO 4. Yes, that HALO 4. THE HALO 4. “Why?” you ask? Because I now get to see my work fully rendered, voiced, realized. It’s such a privilege to have worked with the tremendous artists at 343 Industries to continue to tell the story of Master Chief and Cortana, and to help write another chapter in another grand storytelling universe. Here’s a link to CNN Tech’s Review of HALO 4. Enjoy.
Celebrating completed projects. Recently: Filmed “A Bit of Bad Luck” on location in Morton, WA. Completed a voice-over session at Microsoft Studios for an industrial project. Also voiced a radio spot for Banner Bank. Voiced the role of Captain Jack “Stratosphere” McGraw in Moon Bullet Studios’ “Airship Daedalus” Serial Audio Adventure.
The “Gamers: Hands of Fate” Kickstarter is a success! The online pledges are above $320,000 and the film is fully funded! Now I get to not talk to friends for quite a while as we dive into pre-production with casting, meetings, more casting, more meetings, etc. Thanks to all who pledged! I can’t wait to get to work. If you’d care to send any more love (and eventually, money) our way, you can still find us on kickstarter for the next four days at:
It’s Tuesday! JourneyQuest Season 2, now in full-swing, is taking a teeensy break this week. So INSTEAD, click the image below and take a look at this!
The same production groups behind JQ are making the third movie in the GAMERS series …at least, they’ll be making it if they get the money. 17 days to go and several thousand left… and if we don’t get ALL the money pledged, we don’t get ANY of the money pledged.
Watch the video, check out the crazy fan support in comments, and pitch in $10 bucks if you have it. It will go towards supporting professional Seattle artists–actors, writers, directors, production assistants, camera and sound techs, special effects, composers, costumers, caterers, and sooo many more– doing what they love and what they are good at. THANK YOU!
And if you REALLY don’t have $10 bucks, please re-post or re-share. Getting the word out is crucial, and I GUARANTEE you at least ONE of your friends is as big a nerd as we are and wants to see this movie made!