All aboard! Former Stone Temple Pilots singer, Scott Weiland, stepped on stage, sporting aviator sunglasses, looking dapper in a sharp suit about 30 minutes late with his band, the Wildabouts. The 90-minute concert showcased mostly STP hits from albums, “Core” and “Purple.” After Weiland rambled about hearing Elvis whispering on stage, he shouted into his characteristic megaphone and launched into “Crackerman.” The 75 percent full crowd in their 30’s and 40’s stood up and cheered as Weiland performed “Wicked Garden.” Some fans enduring seats on the floor eventually snuck up to the stage.
The first half of the show was strong. Weiland worked his strange, wavy dance moves all over the stage and laid down to feel Doug Grean’s guitar solo. At the end of “Dead & Bloated,” Grean let fans run their fingers along the strings. Weiland connected with first row fans, fist bumping, slapping, shaking hands and tossing a pair of sunglasses into the crowd.
The second half of the show suffered due to their late arrival and Weiland’s weakening vocals. The Wildabouts seemed to tolerate Weiland’s antics, musings and ramblings. Some fans encouraged Weiland during some hiccups. Because of lost time, Weiland skipped some damn good STP classics; “Interstate Love Song” and “Sex Type Thing.” Weiland seems to too often reach a point when the train is leaving and he must be on it. A loud siren rang before the band’s encore. It was warning fans to lower expectations. Feeling uninspired, “Unglued” and Doors cover, “L.A. Woman” prolonged this train wreck. Weiland missed an opportunity to pay tribute to legendary Doors’ keyboardist Ray Manzarek whom passed away earlier in the week. After all his strange babble, Weiland was first to exit the stage with nothing further to say. I guess he had a train to catch.
Some high points were “Creep,” Jane’s Addiction’s “Mountain Song” and David Bowie’s “The Jean Genie” as Weiland took the liberty to climb a large stack of speakers to pull out an American flag from The Pearl’s wall. Weiland paraded his patriotism, flag in hand, marching and dancing around the stage. Love him or hate him, Scott Weiland is the quintessential, flawed rock star.
Vegas Seven Magazine article
Video editors, filmmakers and consumers of the post-production industry gather at the 12th Annual Supermeet during the week of NAB, the National Association of Broadcasters, to discover the latest in digital post technology. Supermeet took place at its usual location, the Amazon Ballroom, inside the Rio on Tuesday, April 9th, 2012 to roughly a thousand post-fanatic geeks. Hosting Supermeet as usual were Daniel Berube of the Boston branch BOSCPUG and Michael Horton of the Los Angeles branch, LACPUG. All of the post-production groups make up what’s called Creative Pro User Group with CPUGs all over the world.
Before Supermeet, one needs to take advantage of ‘supper meat,’ the appetizers served before the event. Veteran Supermeeters know to get there early. It may not be fast food, but it does go fast.
A last minute surprise addition opened the event with DSLR guru, Vincent Laforet, showing off his new toy, the Movi, a small and light enough device that holds DSLR cameras so they can move effortlessly no matter what obstacles get in its way.
What used to be a main Final Cut Pro soapbox, has become a smorgasbord of NLE systems. Avid showcased its newest features in Media Composer 7 that dropped this week for ONLY $999. Adobe showcased new features in many of its platforms including Premiere Pro, SpeedGrade for color correction and After Effects and its new exciting partnership with Cinema 4-D. And apparently the Coen Brothers plan on editing their next film on Premiere Pro according to Al Mooney, the product manager for Premiere Pro.
Autodesk’s Smoke wowed the tech-heavy crowd. Filmmaker Anthony Brownmoore did a demo on how he used Smoke on his short film, “REP 5091.” Blackmagic Design and Red Giant had demos as well. Strangely enough, there was nothing new to demo for FCP X two years after its announcement and first look at Supermeet in 2010. Maybe they’ll make the cut next year.
In the middle of the event a break from festivities lets the digital gurus roam the sponsors’ booths and network with other digital post geeks.
The second half of the show was dedicated to the status of the VFX industry. Perhaps you’ve seen profiles on FaceBook and Twitter turned green. Since the Academy Awards, an issue has risen to the surface that’s been simmering for many years. The VFX industry has been suffering more drastically in recent years. We have seen the end of famous VFX studios such as Rhythm & Hues and Digital Domain among many other VFX companies that have gone bankrupt. To put this all in focus, Scott Ross, the Co-Founder and CEO of Digital Domain and Academy nominated VFX supervisor, Scott Squires, addressed the audience with the facts.
Imagine big visual effects oriented movies without the actual VFX. Scott Squires asked the crowd what “Life of Pi” would look like? A boy in a boat talking to a tiger hand puppet is not going to cut it. Ross added, “Claudio Miranda won an Oscar for best cinematography.” Basically, the Oscar winner shot a boy in a boat in a pool surrounded by bluescreen. All the truly amazing work that brought life to the FX heavy film was added later.
More movies are relying on visual effects to return the movie studios’ investments at the box office. That’s fine for the movie studios, but what about the artists working their butts off 60, 70, 80 hours a week and not seeing an amount of pay to reflect it?
“Most countries have a cap of 60 hours a week. We typically start at 60 and go up from there,” said Scott Ross. He added, “It’s not unusual to work seven days a week.”
VFX companies have at times built VFX studios in Vancouver, Canada so movie studios got tax rebates. And then you have the VFX artists moving their families only to be out of work when the project’s over. What do they do then? Visual effects cost millions of dollars. And there’s no union whatsoever. VFX companies have been ‘under-bidding’ to compete with other VFX companies. And movie studios will start outsourcing VFX more to places like India for even cheaper labor.
Scott Ross informed the crowd of a meeting to take place in May in Los Angeles with as many of the top VFX companies as he can to discuss the possibilities of a trade association. The industry needs to set regulations and assist the individual VFX artists with better working situations including perhaps points in the films they work on. It was a very serious note and very appropriate to take place at Supermeet. Scott Ross and Scott Squires received a standing ovation from the very empathetic audience.
Supermeet always satisfies editors’ exciting curiosity of what’s next in digital post-production and the knowledge of where the industry stands. Things happen and change so often now in this business that one needs to stay informed to survive. If that’s not enough there’s always the giant raffle of amazing prizes at the end of the evening. Grown men with busting guts shout at the top of their lungs, run the entire length of the ballroom when their ticket is called after winning something cool. Supermeet brings out the child in all of us.
Additional Article on Visual Effects at Supermeet.
It’s been roughly eight years since Galaxy Theatres closed down in the Green Valley Town Center of Henderson, NV. Thursday, March 7th, 2013, was the night of the Grand Opening. It was a magical kick-off with free popcorn, wine and a ‘yellow’ carpet. I was lucky enough to be invited by an associate, Juergen Barbusca. I had gone to the Galaxy Theatres in Los Angles, CA, but this theatre was new to me in many ways.
A ribbon-cutting started things off. Of course, Henderson is very much a part of Las Vegas. And Las Vegas is nothing without showgirls.
What makes these eight movie theatres luxurious? Well, for one, you can order alcohol. Two of the eight screens are IMAX size. There’s plenty of room in each aisle. And then there’s the comfy, reclining leather seats! Unless a customer is in the IMAX theatres or watching a 3-D movie, prices will reflect regular movie prices. WOW! And reclining seats include food trays. What else do you need? You’re in movie-going heaven!
As if all of this wasn’t enough, the movie the theaters were screening that night was “OZ, The Great and Powerful.”
We got a unique preview of the film before its official opening. So, I did what was natural. I placed my popcorn and drink on the tray.
Then I reclined the leather seat so I could feel at home. Hopefully, the Luxury+ Galaxy Theatres will be open for many, many years to come.
Baby boomers and slightly younger fans crowded the House of Blues in Las Vegas, hooting and hollering with anticipation. “Ladies and gentlemen, it’s party time,” said the cute young, blond girl in the video that opened the show. At 10:20pm, those sharp dressed men, bassist Dusty Hill and guitarist Billy Gibbons, entered the stage with their classic long beards, cowboy hats, dark suits and cheap sunglasses. Ready to rock! Beardless Frank Beard, wearing a tee-shirt, pounded the drums. The trio powered through their entire 80 minute set promoting new album, La Futura, without any breaks. Gibbons wished the House of Blues a Happy 20th Birthday. “We’ve been doing this for 4 decades,” he added and the lively crowd cheered.
The show was a warm and fuzzy look back at ZZ Top’s great bluesy music and rockin’ hits over the years. Video clips, live shots of the band and other visuals enhanced the songs on-screen behind the band. Classic MTV videos played along-side “Gimme All Your Lovin’” and “Legs” while other songs had visuals such as pretty girls driving cars. Old movie clips of Vincent Price accompanied “Vincent Price Blues.”
At one point in the show, the band took a license plate from a fan. It read: ZZ TOPS. They passed it around on stage to sign. Gibbons then pretended to be an auctioneer, bidding. “Do I hear 25? 25?” The fan got their license plate back eventually.
Folks kicked up their heels to “Tube Snake Boogie.” There was a lot of 70’s and 80’s nostalgia in the air. I purchased that same famous ‘ZZ’ keychain I had and lost over 10 years ago. For their last few songs including “La Grange” and “Tush,” Gibbons and Hill switched out their guitars for those crazy white and fuzzy ones that spin. The only thing that would have completed the experience for me was if they actually spun those guitars live just once. Well, at least the guitars spun in the video clip. This was a solid performance and this is the perfect band for this venue. ZZ Top has legs.
Vegas Seven Magazine article
After years of placing my first passion, screenwriting to the sidelines, I have finally registered a NEW screenplay with the Library of Congress.
I’m fairly sure the last screenplay I registered was for “American Quest” back in 2001 about young Iranian male teens looking to leave the wrath of Khomeni’s 1980’s Revolution. Inspired by a true story. So many years of juggling other projects including feature film, “Rubbernecking”, struggling to work as a video editor, etc.
In the last five years, I started playing around with some screenplay ideas. I’ve been working on and off on two very different stories.
This screenplay I registered today is a dark, supernatural high school drama. You could call this a teaser. I’m not even giving out the title. It’s only a first draft. There will be more drafts to come. But it just feels so good to finally accomplish what used to be second nature to me. It’s been too long! I used to crank out first drafts like drafts of beer. Well, I no longer drink like a fish. There’s nothing like finishing a good first draft and feeling great about the second draft. And look! IT’S FRIDAY NIGHT!
“We broke the record we set last night in Phoenix,” said Buzz Osbourne, lead singer/guitarist of sludge metal band The Melvins Lite. The trio has embarked on a grueling tour in support of their latest release Freak Puke. The tour is more of a mission; 51 dates in 50 states in 51 days including Washington D.C. They’re attempting to break a Guinness Book of World Records to be the fastest tour by a band in the U.S. currently held by George Thorogood. Osbourne was accompanied by drummer/singer Dale Crover and Trevor Dunn on a stand-up bass.
Switching up from the usual 4-piece band with two drummers to the trio with Dunn on bass is why
they’re called The Melvins Lite. There was nothing ‘Lite’ about it. Osbourne, with his signature grey, ragged hair, black long-sleeve shirt and what looked like sequins, thrashed about on stage, leading the rockers furiously. Bass player Trevor Dunn wore a brown baseball cap, white button-down shirt and a tie. Is this Dunn’s Angus Young (AC/DC) Halloween costume? Dunn got the flannel-wearing crowd of 30 and 40-somethings revved up with his thrilling bass solo from dark, spooky riffs to the pleasant sounds of “Over the Rainbow.” Drummer Dale Crover, mid-40’s, tee-shirt and jeans, re-entered from backstage and told the crowd, “Sing it Bitch!”
Crover got a surprise on-stage before their set as ‘Professional Weirdo’ Jenn O. Cide, a very tall, tattooed, busty brunette, lit up the room with her lengthy ‘fire fingers.’ She then lit the candles on Dale Crover’s cake and led everyone in singing “Happy Birthday” to Crover.
Melvins Lite, on their 49th date of this record-breaking tour, has stuck together since the early 80’s. This hard-working band played with great confidence and spirit. It was a solid performance including songs “Mr. Rip Off,” “Electric Flower” and Wings cover “Let Me Roll It.” At the end, Crover shouted, “Let’s get fucking shit-faced!” And with that the band exited the stage. George Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone” played immediately afterwards. Look out, George!
The show took place at Las Vegas Country Saloon.
Link to article in Vegas Seven Magazine
Matisyahu with The Dirty Heads – Soundwaves Pool @ Hard Rock Hotel
The Dirty Heads kicked off the good vibes with their rock/reggae/hip hop grooves for the beach ball-throwing kids mostly in their 20’s and 30’s. The Dirty Heads with their own fan-base got the crowd dancing and swaying to the hits; “Spread Too Thin” and “Lay Me Down.” The Dirty Heads were solid.
Without his usual skullcap, dark long beard and conservative black and white clothing and tallis or ‘prayer shawl’, Matisyahu walked through the crowd unnoticed as he hopped on stage wearing a white tee-shirt and blue jeans. Many fans were still unaware of his new lighter-colored hair and clean-shaven appearance. He seemed to have a fresh outlook on life as he reached out at one point to go crowd-surfing. It was a good show, but was crowd-surfing and beat-boxing enough to satisfy true fans?
In early December 2011, Matisyahu shocked the music industry with a new look and not going by the ‘Hasidic reggae superstar.’ He hasn’t shed his Jewish beliefs as much as redefined them for himself.
Matisyahu has experimented with different styles of music and other artists (ex. The Chemical Brothers 2009’s “Drown in the Now”). With his new look and new album, “Spark Seeker,” perhaps his transition is a struggle to find a new identity and a wider audience. His updated look doesn’t mean he’s changed much on the inside. He‘s shed all labels. He just wants to be known as a musician or artist.
My friend (KOMP’s @thehangingchad) and I decided to watch from the upper level. Unbeknownst to us, Matisyahu and his small entourage were hanging out in a cabana nearby before the show. Every once in a while, Matisyahu would exit and walk somewhere with whom I’m guessing was his son, about six years old.
During the show, I actually spoke to a guy with a long, dark, scruffy beard who called himself Kool Kojak. He turned out to be the Co-Writer/Producer on Matisyahu’s current “Spark Seeker” album. Kojak told me Matisyahu grew tired of some the restrictions of Hasidic life. He wanted to embrace his female fans as much as his male fans. That was not allowed in his Hasidic faith.
American Jews and non-Jews alike have identified with Matisyahu’s messages of faith in his lyrics. What made him so inspirational when he first came on the scene was the feeling in his voice when he sang with all his emotion and spirit. His earlier music sang out with such conviction. That magic was not present at this show.
This show was nothing like the first three times I saw him about six years ago. Matisyahu sang some of the old songs; “Time of Your Song,” “Jerusalem” and “King Without a Crown.” There was a slight edginess and a faster tempo to the old songs that lost their original appeal.
At the end, Matisyahu invited fans to climb on stage during “One Day.” And as unnoticed as he entered the stage initially, Matishayu snuck off the crowded stage and back into obscurity. He returned to the very same cabana. I was able to tell him, “Good show!” And it was a good show.
So, last week I’m working at my freelance editing gig at a post facility in Las Vegas. I’m working on a TV reality pilot. The day before I was informed that Brad Garrett was coming in to do some voice over for an upcoming animated feature film. I think it was going direct to video. I was hoping to meet Mr. Garrett. I had two stories I’d like to share with him.
Story #1: At a post facility in Woodland Hills, CA, I met Brad’s step-father, Lionel, who was waiting to pick up some materials. We exchanged business cards. Months later, Lionel and Brad’s mother attended a screening of my feature film, “Rubbernecking.” (Titled “Accidents Don’t Happen” at the time)
Story #2: When the hot new throwback model of the Ford Thunderbird was coming out, Brad Garrett was in line to get one at the Calabasas dealer. Brad Garrett, who stands 6′ 8″ could not fit into the car and ended up not purchasing it. Next in line was my father and he still has that car today although it’s losing its umph.
Unfortunately, I just missed Mr. Garrett as he left the facility. I did hear him enter initially with his distinct animated character voice. Later, I viewed some clips of his filmed performance. As an animated film subject, actors need to be filmed so the drawings of facial expressions can be accurate and give the animated characters the character of the actor.