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You Are What You Eat Pre-Production

UNLV Coffee Bean, one of two casting locations on You Are What You Eat

UNLV Coffee Bean, one of two casting locations on You Are What You Eat

Finally, I am finished with the casting process. Auditions took place at the Usr/Lib above The Beat Coffeehouse and at the UNLV Coffee Bean.

Today was the start of pre-production on my comedy short “You Are What You Eat.” It’s a corny comedy about GMOs or Genetically Modified Organisms. I met with our make-up artist, Amanda Martinez, at Star Costume & Theatrical Supply store. I purchased some yellow make-up and looked at some wigs. Then I went to check out some additional wig shops.

Yellow Make-Up on Hand

Yellow Make-Up on Hand

It feels so good to be collecting all the elements for a new short film. My last short, “The Octo Circus” was in 2009. The film was a spoof on the Octo Mom and the pregnant man. What a strange society we live in.

I’m very excited about “You Are What You Eat.” It’s not just a comedy. It shares a message and a warning about the foods we eat. If corporations are going to continue lying to American consumers, we need to take a stand. Foods are not labeled GMO and need to be. We should know what’s in our food.  Genetically modified vegetables such as corn are being re-created with pesticide and being sprayed on top of that. These poisonous large monoculture fields are disrupting bees natural ability to pollinate and survive. Bees are dying off by the millions. People are getting sicker. Cancer is not going away. It seems to be getting worse. Diseases we didn’t hear about growing up like Autism are in the mainstream. GMOs are being banned in numerous countries around the world, but not America. And the bill to protect corporation Monsanto slipped in when no one in congress was looking. Distractions divert our attention in the news away from the truth or bigger more important news items. Why aren’t there new stories about GMOs in the news? Think about who owns the news. People need to get together whether by sharing posts on social media, marching during protests or make the news. Even boycotting corn! I’m directing a short film. 

Today also happens to be the day MAM, March Against Monsanto, orgs around the world posted videos representing the May 25th, 2013 march and announcing the next worldwide march October 12th, 2013. Here’s the MAM Las Vegas video from GMO-Free Vegas.

3 Years in Vegas

>Run DMZ - I Think I'll Go to North Korea Today

DMZ border of North and South Korea

Wow! Has it been three years since I landed at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas? On July 12th, 2010, I was flying back from South Korea on an ESL teaching job. I only spent 7 weeks there instead of the one year I was supposed to put in. It was a major career turn as I’m constantly seeking ways to make a living. The film business may be easy for some people, but for the majority it’s very, very hard. I used to have larger-than-life dreams about the film industry, but that’s transitioned into making a living in film. And I keep coming back to film no matter how difficult it is. I may not be a master of any one particular job such as screenwriting, directing or video editing, but I love doing them. Sacrifice is a given in this business. For various reasons, I let my first love of screenwriting sit on a shelf for many years while trying to make a living as a video editor.

Ross Directs "The Octo Circus"

Ross Directs “The Octo Circus”

Ross edits TV pilot

Ross Edits TV pilot

My thought was that I would edit film or TV by day and write at night. Directing seems to come with inspiration when I’m totally broke. In 2009, when I was struggling to make a living as an editor, I made a $400 short film, “The Octo Circus” inspired by the Octo Mom. I only entered a handful of film festivals as they’re expensive. The film did not get into any festivals, but has been getting a steady stream of You Tube hits.

At the end of 2009, I took a course in teaching ESL or English as a Second Language course. At the end of May 2009, I boarded a plane from Las Vegas (where my parents live) to Seoul, South Korea. When the director informed me after a few weeks that I wouldn’t be teaching for more than a month, I spent every weekend touring all over Seoul and taking in everything; museums, palaces, tourist traps, the DMZ. It was a great experience.

Viva Las Vegas!

Ross hikes in Red Rock

Ross at Red Rock Cyn.

What am I going to do here? Re-Inventing myself was a topic I spoke on in 2012 at a Delivering Happiness Inspire event. I’m proud of the accomplishments I’ve made here in Las Vegas. Although work has not been consistent, I’ve had some opportunities I might not have had in LA.

Ross writes about Duran Duran for Vegas 7 Magazine.

Ross writes about Duran Duran for Vegas 7 Magazine.

  • Wrote a first person article about my experience attending TribeFest, a gathering of Jewish Federations from all over North America for David Magazine
  • Had a 4 page story about my career in David Magazine
  • Became a RAW Artist as a filmmaker at first RAW event in Las Vegas with “The Octo Circus”
  • Have written and still write concert reviews periodically for Vegas Seven Magazine; Scott Weiland, ZZ Top, Tesla, Matisyahu, Crosby and Nash
  • Have been an active member of the LV Screenwriting Group
  • Incorporated my production company, In Your Head Productions, LLC
  • Founded and was the Festival Director for Social Media Film Festival that took place at The Mirage in 2012
  • Interviewed on various radio stations including the Las Vegas Social Media Show
  • Been involved with various TV pilots as an editor and other film and video projects
Rianne, Rayna & Ross at RAW

Rianne, Rayna & Ross at RAW

SMFF Crew @ Royal House

SMFF Crew @ Royal House

What’s next? Where will I be in the years to come?

Social Media Film Festival was a success, but not the type of success I was hoping for even in its first year. Some more sponsorship and money would be needed the next time around. I do hope to put SMFF on again some day. Currently, I’m teaching myself Avid Media Composer in hopes of making that technical skill and system how I make a living. Either I will find work on TV or film projects back in Los Angeles or some other skill will help me find more work here in Las Vegas. I’m prepping to soon direct a no-budget short film comedy about genetically modified foods. In addition, I am working on a new screenplay. It simply feels good to be writing again and working on a new idea instead of beating my head against the wall re-writing old screenplays.

There are some really cool people here in Las Vegas and I hope to stay in touch whether my work and/or career brings me back to LA or not. We are a little bit passed the half-way mark of 2013. I feel inspired and motivated to make things happen.

Ross Picalum Pose

Ross Picalum Pose

Scott Weiland @ The Pearl

Scott WeilandAll 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.

Scott WeilandThe 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

 

LV Supermeet 2013

 IMG_2658

Supper Meat before Supermeet

Supper Meat before Supermeet

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.
 

 

Adobe SpeedGrade

Adobe SpeedGrade

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.

Scott Squires and Scott Ross

Scott Squires and Scott Ross

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.

IMG_2669

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.

IMG_2673Scott 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.

IMG_2677Supermeet 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.

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,200 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

ZZ Top Has Legs

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.

ZZ Top at HOB Las Vegas

ZZ Top at HOB Las Vegas

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

That Brad Garrett

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.

End of the Year Blog & SMFF

I am very thankful and grateful to all of my supporters. The following blog post was written on the blog of my website for the Social Media Film Festival. I try to keep them somewhat separate. This is more of my ‘Bruce Wayne” site and the other one is my ‘Batman’ site. It’s tough leading two lives and identities. It’s enough juggling various pursuits.

Anyway, the year has flown by. I had no idea that at the end of it I’d be pursuing a film festival. I’m so thankful for all the support in people sharing my Indie Go-Go link and in some cases contributing to my campaign.

I don’t know what will take place in 2012. I hope things take off and you will in some way be a part of my journey. I’ll keep this short and sweet. The full blog with photos can be read and viewed on the link.

I still miss Los Angeles, but am making the best of living in Las Vegas. Hopefully my pursuits and opportunities will expand here.

Thanks again.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Ross

http://socialmediafilmfestival.com/?p=703

Roger Sings Tommy

Tommy can you hear me?

Imagine how many Twitter followers Tommy would have today? A fan from the audience tried to speak with Roger Daltrey towards the end of the show at The Joint in Las Vegas. Roger, or should I say Tommy, could not hear them. He could hear the spirited older crowd in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s Saturday night, October 22, cheering, singing and dancing the night away.

Roger mentioned that the band playing on stage was definitely not The Who. But Roger was definitely ‘Roger’ as his voice was superb. For someone who’s had voice problems and surgery, Roger brought back Tommy in a glorious rock and roll style.

See Me, Feel Me

Visual effects accompanied Roger and enhanced the story of Tommy, ‘a classic’ Roger said after getting through the entire album. Assuming there’s no teenagers in the audience, Roger wondered about the music and lyrics lasting the test of time. It’s a salute to Pete Townsend and his bandmates of the past; bassist John Entwistle and drummer Keith Moon. Pete Townsend continues to struggle with ear problems.

Roger hinted that they (him and long-time bandmate Pete) were not done yet. That sparked more cheers from the aging crowd. After all, this little tour was originally meant to be one show for charity and was encouraged to tour.

Sally Simpson

I’m Free

Tommy is timeless because of its themes of isolation, acceptance, sexual abuse, murder, religion and more. There are so many levels to Tommy. The story is told so well that it grows on you over time. And the times may change, but those themes remain the same. Even Sally Simpson got an upgrade as the visual effects had her laying on her bed buried in her laptop computer.

Who Are You

The band on stage may not have been The Who, but they sounded great! He may not be his older brother, but Simon Townsend vocally sounds a bit like him, singing all the parts his brother would be singing if present.

Simon Townsend

The Kids Are Alright

Roger lead the band through hits by The Who; “Who Are You,” “The Kids Are Alright,” “Behind Blue Eyes” and “Going Mobile,””Baba O’Reilly,” “My Generation” and ended with “Blue, Red & Grey.”  Roger played homage to Johnny Cash playing a medley of songs; “I Got Stripes,” “Folsom Prison” and “Ring of Fire.” It was Roger’s effort to keep another artist’s music alive.

The Who’s music won’t go away anytime soon with the next generation keeping their music alive with acts like Pearl Jam and TV shows like ‘CSI.’ Amazing show!

The following footage I filmed with my little Canon Powershot camera. I wasn’t very close, but you can always zoom in.

Long live rock!

Beauty Bar and the Beast

Being in a new city has its perks. Hardly anyone has seen my films here in Las Vegas. So, when I saw a posting on FaceBook in one of the film-oriented groups seeking short films I decided to check it out. I had been screening a short film I did a few years ago, “The Octo Circus” around town and thought it was time to screen a much older film.

“The Turnaround” was filmed on 16MM in 1995 as my last film while attending Columbia College-Hollywood film school. It’s about a struggling actor that gets mugged in the streets of Hollywood and then confronts the mugger in a bar. The 23-minute film is something I still consider my favorite just like a favorite child even though you’re supposed to love them all the same. “The Turnaround” screened at the IFP Market in NY and was the ‘Best of the Fest’ at the Rochester International Film Festival in Rochester, NY. It screened at other festivals. but never quite got the recognition I thought it deserved. I actually thought this little epic was the key to my film career. Oh, well. I do love the opportunity to screen it and share it with other filmmakers and film fans.

The Beauty Bar in Las Vegas has the old-fashioned seats that women sit in when getting their hair done, manicure, etc. The one in Vegas feels more like a bar then a nightclub if that makes sense. On Wednesday, August 17th, along with a bunch of local filmmakers, we screened our short films from a projector outdoors onto a screen. I hope the Beauty Bar acquires a newer screen as it had some sort of yellow stain all over. The films all had a unique 70’s look to them especially “The Turnaround,” the only film of the night shot entirely on film. The group of filmmakers praised me for that alone. My film screened last and I was very thankful there were still people in the audience. We had to compete a little with the loud music playing inside the bar as there were bands playing, but you could hear the dialogue fine until the door swung open.

I very much enjoyed viewing the other films and getting to know my fellow filmmakers. The title of this post is ‘Beauty Bar and the Beast’ since there was a strange theme that took place with most of the films containing or about drugs, guns and crime. There was a zombie trailer, “Patient Zero” by Rob Sholty and Andrea Walter. Thank G-d! And thank you to Maggie Yeah, Ben Zuk and the Beauty Bar for hosting the event!

 

 

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