Thursday, December 23, 2010


Today, I finally finished my feature writing assignment for a producer with promise of exposure at Sundance and major literary agencies.

More news to come in the New Year. 'Til Then! Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Clear Your Weekend!

Another Life screens at the Big Easy International Film Festival this Saturday!

Catch our exclusive showing on Saturday, December 11 @2PM at The Theatres at Canal Place in New Orleans' historic French Quarter district!

Not only will you see Another Life, but you'll enjoy a bevy of award-winning films, the Theatres' trendy and cutting edge all-HD experience, and all the color and culture of the famous French Quarter. So find out more about the festival here and hope to have you there!

Speaking of awesome, the #1 Blog for Aspiring Screenwriters, Go Into the Story, posted a feature on Another Life here!

If you can't make it, spread the word and wish us luck!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Black Friday Discount

High Point of the Week: seeing Phantom of the Opera on Broadway and then spending Thanksgiving with family, new friends, football, and scrumptious food.

Low Point of the Week: returning home to find out I no longer have a paying job.

Oh, I still have a job. But as we're currently developing new models for attracting investments and a steady revenue stream, my position is no longer sustainable. So for now, I'll be working pro-bono on a credit-only, part-time basis... meaning I have no income.

And with that psychic blow, I'm back on the market for more work. What to do?

Network. After all, I got my current job by meeting old friends at a birthday party.

So I looked over my connections and now I'm going to 8+ networking events this month, on top of working a part-time job and writing a full-length feature assignment before Christmas.

The silver lining to this cloud? I have to write and party like it's my job... until I get paid for it.

That sounds like a challenge, Hollywood. I accept.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Christmas Comes Early

This week, I finished the First Ten Pages of my Writing Assignment.

Some of you may ask, "Really? Just the first ten?" Well as many professionals have said, the first ten pages of a screenplay are the most important.

The first ten pages are the first and ONLY chance you get breaking in. Hell, the first three. And with this assignment, I have to deal with subtitles, flashbacks, AND voice over, perhaps the three biggest No-Nos for an unknown writer...

And dammit, these first ten pages will suck in the most bitter, skeptical reader in Hollywood.

Now that I've thoroughly outlined the entire script, mastered the first ten pages, and received the go-ahead from the producer, I'll be pumping out pages like a machine till Christmas.

Also, check out tomorrow's DVD Release for IN/SIGNIFICANT OTHERS:
A multi-narrative drama in the vein of Crash that navigates through the different lives in a small North Carolina town -- an Iraq War vet returned home to an emotionally disturbed wife, a new father living in the shadow of a successful brother, a sister caught up in a web of addiction, and an overly ambitious cameraman exploiting everyone's dirty secrets -- all of whom are connected to the same murder investigation. As the subtle manipulation of every relationship is exposed, the search for truth turns into a gritty struggle of a life and death.
This film was EASILY the best drama I've seen in my festival run. A must-see for any aspiring indie filmmaker. So check it out!

Available tomorrow at Amazon, Target, Netflix, and Blockbuster.

Low Point of the Week:
My boss showed a recent cut of a project to his Agent and bragged about the great work I did on it. My boss said, "Look out, Nate! He's going to poach you!" The agent then offered me his card -- then took it back, laughing at me. You know, he just offered to represent me and kick start my career -- as a joke.

High Point of the Week: Well it's really YOUR high point. Feeling in the Holiday Spirits, I will extend the following offer for the rest of 2010:

If you haven't seen Another Life yet, and you'd love to have you very own copy, then Christmas has come early for you. Just send me an e-mail at with your postal address and I will mail you a DVD or 2 as soon as my schedule allows.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

See you on Tuesdays from now on!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bye, Bye Social Life

This past week, I have:
  • clocked in a 40 hour work week
  • guided research on several TV projects
  • chugged along on the Writing Assignment
  • submitted materials to the Big Easy International Film Festival
  • submitted to 3 more film festivals
  • went out to drinks with 4 cool filmmakers
  • did some Voice Over work for a TV pilot
  • went to see a Kabuki play, the "Ghost of Oyuki" -- so much fun!
Highlight #1 of the Week: My boss wants to shoot our next project before we close shop on December 3rd. So with Thanksgiving on its way, and an investors meeting coming even sooner, he asked me to package and lock up two more TV shows by the end of this week.

It's an awesome challenge and I'm very excited to take it on.

Highlight #2 of the Week: I finally got the greenlight for the Writing Assignment with a Christmas deadline or earlier (since most of Hollywood will be skiing by December 17th).

Then the script's producer mentioned:

"Oh yeah, I just got off the phone with one of the head lit agents at XXX [one of the Big Five agencies in L.A.] who wants to read it as soon as it's done."
So yeah... I'm going to forsake my social life until I finish this rewrite... because if the script's good enough, I just might get an agent for Christmas.

Monday, November 8, 2010

We got into the Big Easy Int'l Film Festival!

Another Life was officially selected for the Big Easy International Film Festival!

The most amazing story is how we got in. Here's the email I received:

I am the director of both the XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX Festival and the Big Easy International Film Festival... I had asked the programmers we have working on the
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX Festival to keep an eye out for any soldier related short films as my programmers for the Big Easy International Film Festival needed another one to fill out a program. They suggested your short film.

We would like to screen it at this year's Big Easy International Film Festival (Dec. 10th - 16th) in New Orleans, if you are interested. I need to know fairly soon so we can get it in the press release.
I didn't even apply! Programmers at a different festival not only watched Another Life -- they not only liked Another Life -- they suggested Another Life so strongly to the Big Easy festival director that we made Official Selection!

I had to say yes, especially after I read all about them:
When hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, it almost destroyed one of America's national treasures... the city of New Orleans. It was at that point when Laura Martone, seasoned film festival director, decided she wanted to do something to help bring the culture back to her home town.

The 4th Annual Big Easy International Film Festival seeks to bring the world of film to the amazing city of New Orleans. We are going to make this festival a massive party... utilizing places like the French Quarter, the Big Easy Film Festival will be a one-of-a-kind experience. Screening every type of film, from comedy to drama... from horror to documentary... from thriller to experimental!
We will be screening on Saturday, December 11th at 2:00 PM at The Theatres in Canal Place, a cutting-edge HD cinematic experience in the historic French Quarter district!

Sounds like tons of fun! Wish us luck!

Monday, November 1, 2010

What Is This "Sleep" You Speak Of?

This past week, I have:
    • clocked in a 40 hour work week
    • packaged a few projects
    • wrote a few treatments
    • read a pile of scripts
    • worked on my own writing
    • submitted to more film festivals
    • went out to drinks with cool writers
    • got sick for two days...
    • Recovered!
    • AND got my Halloweekend on, costumed as Dexter Morgan
    And today my boss returns from his film shoot, and I aim to start the day by wowing him with my progress report... and this week I have my final notes meeting on My First Writing Assignment before I am unleashed into the wild world of rewrites!

    Highlight of the Week
    : After a hard day at work, a coworker asked to borrow a copy of Another Life. The following day, she came in telling me she really liked it and she was enamored by the story, the performances, and the sound design. And she meant it.

    Oh yeah, and she just so happens to work with a really snazzy film festival...

    Wish me luck! More next week!

    Monday, October 25, 2010

    "So What's Next?"

    After back-to-back festival news, from Temecula to Mountain Madness to the Accolade, we've got a long wait ahead of us -- the next I hear from a festival will be in December.

    So what's next? Twiddling my thumbs till that next festival phone call?

    Hardly. At work, we've been busting our butts for the past few weeks, prepping pitches for a few new projects to potential investors -- and we got an investor! And now my boss is out shooting one of our projects! Very exciting and very busy times.

    So after all that hard work, do I go home and relax every night?

    Hardly. Thanks to pure luck, good face, and maybe a little skill, I landed my first writing assignment.

    I can't say much, as I've signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement and we all remember the second rule of Fight Club... What I can tell you, my dear readers, is that I've been asked to rewrite a feature that closely resembles my spec work in the crime thriller genre, so this assignment is a perfect fit for me. And I hope to have it done by the holidays!

    So between festivals, work, and writing, that's all I have time for? Right?

    Hardly. This past weekend, my wife and I entertained guests Friday, went to parties Saturday, and schmoozed at a networking event Sunday. To make it in Hollywood, you can't just lock yourself in a room and write... you need to get out there.

    For example, I enjoyed a Little Victory thanks to meeting with an old friend. She told me about working at mega-agency CAA, and after catching up over coffee, I practically begged her to read my script... and she sent me the following:
    I feel a bit at a loss because usually when people send me their stuff I have to restrict the amount of critical comments to give them, but really I have very little negative or critical to say about the script! I think it's very well written and definitely marketable. The beats are all in the right places, the characters are three-dimensional and engaging, and there's certainly room for a sequel, or even prequel. I really enjoyed the script, and I don't normally enjoy movies like this... Again, I really like the script, and I definitely think it's ready to be read and seen.
    An e-mail worthy of framing, right? But here comes the hard part:

    I've spent the last few years working very hard to get to this point where I have a short film in festivals, an executive assistant gig, a writing assignment, and this polished screenplay ready to be seen -- but if agents or producers do take notice, guess what they're gonna ask?

    "So what's next?"

    Hrm. Let me get back to you on that. Until next time, dear readers...

    Monday, October 11, 2010

    Award-Winning Short Film

    Another Life won the Award of Merit from The Accolade Competition!

    The Accolade Competition recognizes film, television, videography and new media professionals who demonstrate exceptional achievement in craft and creativity, and those who produce standout entertainment or contribute to social change.

    The official letter came in the mail this weekend, stating:
    It's not easy to win an Accolade as the judging standards are high and winning means the craft and creativity exhibited by your entry is outstanding and stands above other productions. You can be justifiably proud of winning.
    And I am deeply proud because of all the amazing hard work and sheer talent from my cast and crew, who made this award possible.

    Stay tuned next week and I'll let slip some more fantastic news!

    Monday, October 4, 2010

    Mountain Madness Film Festival

    Another Life was just selected for the Mountain Madness Film Festival!

    Mountain Madness Film Festival
    is a celebration of the people, products and passions involved in the art of motion pictures. MMFF provides the community of Gatlinburg, Tennessee with a cultural institution that inspires, educates and entertains through screenings and events. MMFF also provides the makers of films, and the makers of film products, with a unique and powerful opportunity to enjoy together, the fruits of their labors– films.

    The Festival will take place October 7-10, 2010 -- this weekend! -- and Another Life will screen this Friday at 9 PM.

    So if you're in the general Tennessee area, come on down for a good time!

    I've got more good news to report in coming weeks, but the first rule of Fight Club is... don't break your Non-Disclosure Agreement. Till next week!

    Monday, September 13, 2010

    One of the Best

    Only 4 days away until Another Life premieres at the Temecula Valley International Film Festival! Are you excited? You should be. Here’s why:
    Another film to not miss is Another Life by festival newcomer Nathan Ruegger... I have literally watched this three times now, it is one of the best independent short films that I have seen.
    -- Kristin Southall, Hollywire
    We are so thrilled to get such high praise! Check out the full article here:

    Support the Arts! TVIFF Offers Something for Everyone

    But we'd be even more thrilled to see you there! So be one of the first to see Another Life at our exclusive screenings on Friday, September 17 @3PM and on Sunday, September 19 @3PM at the Movie Experience at Tower Plaza in Temecula, California.

    Find out more at the festival’s website, spread the buzz, and see you this weekend!

    Monday, September 6, 2010

    Mark Your Calendars!

    It's official! Another Life will make its World Premiere at the Temecula Valley International Film Festival next week!

    Catch our exclusive screenings on Friday, September 17 @3PM and on Sunday, September 19 @3PM at the Movie Experience at Tower Plaza in Temecula, California.

    Not only will you see the film, but you'll get to meet the director (me!) and key cast and crew, enjoy a Q&A session with us, and if you're nice enough, we just might leave together :) So find out more at the festival's website and we'll see you there!

    Speaking of nice, check out this sweet article on Another Life by Kerri Mabee of SWRNN:

    Monday, August 30, 2010

    Life in the Fast Lane

    Last week, I drove over 105 miles to go to the big Media Night event for the Temecula Valley International Film Festival -- and it was worth it.

    I enjoyed amazing drinks and appetizers at the gorgeous Monte de Oro winery and met some very cool filmmakers and reporters -- all of whom were excited for Another Life. What a great party! I can't wait for the festival!

    For example, check out these cool films coming to Temecula:
    Then I came home to 2 more rejection letters.

    The film festival circuit -- and the career of any filmmaker -- is going to be an emotional roller-coaster ride. To keep my sanity, I have developed the following philosophy:
    If they don't like my movie, then we have different tastes in film, so we probably shouldn't work together. If they did like my movie, then let's do lunch.
    If you second-guess yourself after every rejection or only validate yourself with every success, you will go crazy. If you poured your blood, sweat, tears, money, and time into your work, and if you know in your heart of hearts that you made a good script/film with professional polish and masterful craft -- then it is good.

    And don't let any festival or producer tell you otherwise.

    Yes, rewrite your script for that perfect draft. Yes, tweak your press packet to better sell your short film. But never take a rejection personally.

    For example, here's an excerpt from one of my rejection letters:
    The XXXXXXXXXXXXX Festival is an international program, which premieres fewer than 35 films each fall. Since more than thirteen hundred films are submitted to us every year for consideration, the selection process is necessarily highly competitive, and our decision is in no way an absolute judgment on the quality of your work. We hope we will have the opportunity to see your films in the future.
    I did that math on that festival's acceptance rate: less than 3% of films submitted were selected. So from the very beginning, every filmmaker has to know that they are up against the most impossible odds to achieve any kind of success.

    How do you conquer these odds? Check out Indiewire's Filmmakers Toolkit, with tips and advice on how to break into the indie film scene from the mouths of film industry veterans.

    But stay tuned this week and the next -- as I'll be getting some big news soon, such as Festvial Showtimes for Another Life and published articles on the film. See you soon!

    Monday, August 23, 2010

    Antici......... pation!

    Last week, Another Life was accepted into the Temecula Valley International Film Festival. And this week...

    * tumbleweeds roll by *

    Nothing. Happened.

    But not for lacking of trying! I had an interview with a reporter about Another Life, but she's still writing and wants to publish when the time's right, so I'm waiting to hear back.

    At work, I've been plugging away at an undisclosed project under a tight deadline, but with my boss out of town, I'm still waiting to hear back.

    I've been writing a lot, preparing for another meeting with the Hollywood Hotshots. I e-mailed them about when next to meet and... you guessed it. More waiting.

    As an aspiring filmmaker knocking on Hollywood's doors, so much of your life is spent in anticipation. You send your film out to festivals... and wait. You send your script out to Hollywood Hotshots... and wait.

    And a lot of the time, you never hear back.

    Here's what NOT to do: Stare at your monitor and refresh your Gmail every 5 minutes, thinking that this time -- this time that e-mail will appear, finally saying "Congratulations, kiddo! We're gonna make you into a star!"

    The healthy thing to do: Move on. Like a professional actor at an audition, you have to put your best foot forward, show them your best work, and then get on with your life.

    Don't even expect a reply. Hang out with friends. Cook a tasty meal. Enjoy life.

    So when the good news finally does come, it will be a delicious surprise.

    But what to do with all that nervous energy? Why not read some o' the BEST blogs on the web? Like these tasty morsels for fellow filmmakers:
    And here's a real treat for all you Animaniacs fans:
    For more, check out the Blog Roll on the right. For next week, stay tuned for a big press release on Another Life at Temecula! Till Then!

    Monday, August 16, 2010

    We got into the Temecula Valley Film Festival!

    Another Life was just accepted into the Temecula Valley International Film Festival!

    Thank you to everyone involved -- cast, crew, friends, family, and fans -- I am so very proud of all of your hard work, sheer talent, and support. This couldn't be possible without you!

    Ranked as one of the 'Best Kept Secret Film Festivals' in the US, the TemeculaValley International Film Festival started as a small grassroots affair and then evolved into a world class film and music event, showcasing and honoring some of the very best in entertainment from emerging filmmakers to established celebrities such as Leonard Maltin, John Landis, William Shatner, and many more.

    The festival will take place September 15-19, 2010 and Another Life will screen there 2-3 times -- showtimes TBA on September 6th!

    I'll be attending their red carpet Opening Night event, special screenings, industry workshops, exclusive soirees, and the star-studded Closing Night Awards Gala.

    More details soon... and I've got a good feeling this is just the first of many festivals.

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010

    SPECIAL EDITION: On That Guy With The Glasses

    Check out my interview with The Nostalgia Critic about my glory days on Animaniacs by clicking HERE! There's also a little piece in there about Another Life!

    Monday, August 9, 2010

    Rejection? Rejoice!

    Another Life was rejected by six film festivals.

    While some people frame their rejection letters, I'm not so cocky. When I read an e-mail that starts with, "We regret to inform you that your film was not selected..." it ruins my week.

    But last week, I gave myself three reasons to move on and rejoice:

    1) Another Life was featured on Hollywood University! Get the full scoop here!

    2) After searching for months, I joined a new Writer's Group. Not only are all the writers talented and hard-working, but they're all so easy to get along with and great note-givers. I'm glad to know them all before they become rich and famous :)

    Last week, they gave me some good notes on my horror feature and this week they'll give me notes on my action feature -- just in time for my next Hollywood Hotshots meeting!

    I think this is the beginning of some beautiful friendships.

    3) After seeing Shakespeare by the Sea last night with some good friends, a newly-made acquaintance told me that she just saw Another Life -- and she loved it.

    And it's for moments like these that made me want to write and direct.

    Last week, I let the cat (or squirrel) out of the bag and revealed my past as a child voice actor on Animaniacs. This week, I'll tell you how I went from there to here:
    While I once thought about going back into voice acting, when puberty hit and my voice cracked, that pretty much killed my career as a child voice actor. I did work on my acting in high school, but as I found myself re-watching some of my Dad's shows, I was instilled with a love of good writing and great movies.

    If you watch Tiny Toons, Animaniacs, or Pinky and the Brain closely, you'll see episodes that are obvious homages to classic American films like Citizen Kane, The Maltese Falcon, and The Third Man. So instead of going back into children's TV, I dug deeper into this inspiration in great American films, worked on my own writing and directing, and approached my career from there.
    But that's all I can say for now! Check out my full video interview on That Guy with The Glasses later this week along with other Animaniacs' greats like Sherri Stoner, Paul Rugg, John P. McCann, and Tom Ruegger!

    So stay tuned!

    Monday, August 2, 2010

    Truth Will Out

    Bruce Wayne is Batman. Dexter is a serial killer. And Rick and Ilsa will always have Paris.

    Dark secrets. Skeletons in the closet. Everyone has them.

    Even me.

    Last week, I was interviewed by the beloved internet personality That Guy With The Glasses, best known for his hilarious 5 Second Movies and wonderful Nostalgia Critic articles.

    Little did I know he was an investigative journalist ready to blow the whistle on my past. But before he publishes my most shocking secret, I think it's best you heard it from me.

    Here goes... *sigh*

    I am Skippy Squirrel.

    That's right. This dark, brooding, film-noir-loving writer-director was once a child actor, providing the voice of a chipper, fuzzy, animated squirrel on the children's TV series Animaniacs.

    Don't believe me? IMDb rarely lies.

    How did I go from Animaniacs to Another Life? Tune in next week to find out.

    Monday, July 26, 2010

    The Blurst of Times

    This past week, there were 3 intensely anticipated, potentially life-changing events:
    1. Another Life's first real world screening
    2. my Hollywood Hotshot meeting
    3. our 3-Year Anniversary of Marriage
    It was neither the best of times, nor the worst of times.

    It has been the blurst of times.

    1): Another Life screened with Film Independent at the W Hotel... with mixed success.

    We were the first short film in the line-up, and since we were in Hollywood, lots of people showed up late, looking for seats during the most emotional scenes in the movie. The audience was quiet throughout the screening with polite smatterings of applause afterward...

    I thought it bombed -- but we played to a packed house. Almost everyone stayed for the Q&A. And fifteen or so people stuck around to shake my hand and congratulate me.

    Always a good day when strangers shake your hand and tell you they loved your movie!

    2): Then there was the big Hollwood hotshot meeting. Two hotshots actually.

    I prepared myself in every way possible. I put on my best clothes and my lucky red shoes. I memorized the loglines and pitches to all of my scripts. I made lists of my favorite movies and TV shows. Then I let all of that go so I could just go with the flow of conversation.

    It was like getting ready for a first date, hoping for a break instead of a kiss.

    And I got it.

    In 3-4 weeks, we'll meet again, and depending on how I respond to their notes on my script, they'll take a professional interest in turning me into a working Hollywood screenwriter.

    3): Then I had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad anniversary.

    It started out beautifully. My wife and I went to Porto's -- where we had bought our wedding cake -- and had an early, romantic breakfast. We reminisced and were downright obnoxious.

    Then we both had work. She had overtime that night. I had to help out on a shoot.

    On the way to the shoot, my boss called, and instinctively, I picked up the phone. A policeman pulled me over and gave me a ticket for cell phone use.

    After the shoot, I came home to find several film festival rejections in my inbox.

    I was so furious I turned off my phone -- only to find out via facebook chat that my wife had been calling me for the past 45 minutes to get a ride home.


    But the next morning, I got up, had a lovely breakfast with my wife, sent Another Life out to another high-profile film festival, and went to work.

    I have to stay focused that Another Life has screened well, and somewhere out there in Hollywood, there's two power players who believe in me. Also, my wife loves me :)

    Take the bad with the good. After all, what's a writer without turmoil?

    Now I got 3-4 weeks to prep one script for notes and finish another script as though my career depends on it. Because it does. Back into the coal mines...

    Monday, July 19, 2010

    To Write, or Not to Write...

    Not really much of a question, is it?

    Answer: Write. Much better than not writing.

    But the life of the young, emerging writer is more than just sitting at home alone, writing a damn good script. What’s the point of writing a script if no one will ever read it?

    Alternate answer: Self-promotion. “Ya gotta get out there, kid!”

    For example, this past week has been intense at my boutique production company. I can’t say much (Non-Disclosure Agreement, anyone?) but I’ve been working long hours setting up complicated film shoots with lots of paperwork and assisting my boss on set.

    I’m forging some key relationships that will help me break into the business – and this week is just as packed with intense, hands-on Hollywood fun:
    • Tuesday, Film Independent is screening Another Life at the W Hotel in Hollywood, and I’m invited to speak on a panel afterwards!
    • Wednesday, big Hollywood hotshot meeting! Wish me luck!
    • Thursday, three-year anniversary with the wife (most important thing this week)
    So I was going to prepare for all these events this weekend, but my Mom begged me to finally take away all of my old boxes of childhood paraphernalia and store them myself.

    And as I’m going through these memory-packed totems, I find my little Idea Box, filled with all of my most cherished story ideas from when I was a kid.

    Then I found this gem, apparently right after I saw Glengarry Glenn Ross:
    Always be writing.
    No matter how long you’re at work, no matter how you schmooze the party, no matter how hard you self-promote, none of that matters unless you’re still writing.

    After all, what’s the point of getting yourself “out there” if you don’t have a polished script or three to show for it?

    So this week, I’ll be working long hours, going to my screening, big meeting, and anniversary shindigs, and writing a damn good script. How, you might ask?

    Sleep is for normies. Caffeine is for writers.

    Sweet dreams, dear readers. More news next week!

    Monday, July 12, 2010

    The Case for Film School

    The age-old question for the aspiring filmmaker is this:

    Do I go to film school? Or do I just move out to L.A.?

    I've asked this question at various Hollywood parties and on top insider blogs like Hollywood University, John August, and The Anonymous Production Assistant's Blog.

    And the consensus is always the same: film school is a big waste of time and money.

    Most point out the lack of recent successful film school grads: where's today's George Lucas? Today's Martin Scorsese? Hell, Steven Spielberg didn't even go to film school.

    So when you finish film school, you're 3-4 years older, thousands of dollars in debt, and still unemployed because that job you interviewed for went to some Hollywood hotshot's nephew.

    And when you go to industry panels, Hollywood's top directors, producers and executives say they never went to film school and neither should you.

    "Just go out there, write some good material, meet some good people, and if you listen and learn, you can do anything you want in this town."


    Wrong. They are all wrong.

    If you want to break into this business TODAY, film school is your best chance.

    Case in point:

    I've been working for an emerging director at his boutique production company and we had a film shoot the other night.

    To prepare for the shoot I had to do everything. And I mean everything:
    • I supervised and taped the casting sessions.
    • I organized and edited the casting tapes.
    • I scouted and locked filming locations.
    • I drafted contracts for actors, background, and location owners.
    • I found and hired essential crew members.
    • I made the call sheet, shooting schedule, and budget.
    And while on set, I ran the shoot as the 1st A.D., I managed the actors and crew members like a producer, and I was even the 2nd Unit Cinematographer.

    At the end of the night, my boss told me that it was one of the easiest shoots of his life.

    To break into Hollywood, you need a broad range of filmmaking skills and experience that only film school can give you.

    Maybe 10-20 years ago you could break in with just hard work, connections, and good taste. But in today's market, assistants are expected to get their hands dirty and do just about everything under the sun to get the job done, day after day.

    Sure, my boss could've hired some hotshot's nephew instead of me -- but that nephew wouldn't have lasted if he didn't know editing, casting, producing, shooting, etc. inside and out.

    Sure, you can make it in Hollywood without going to film school.

    But here's the kicker: my boss not only appreciates my work, he's seen my short film Another Life, and he's recommending me as a director to anyone asking around.

    Try doing all of that without film school.

    Monday, July 5, 2010

    You Get What You Need

    Happy 4th of July, everyone! I hope you all had a blast. Pun intended.

    So big news: last week, I was scheduled to meet with a super secret Hollywood VIP.

    For a kind of meeting that could change my career.

    I prepared my best answers to all their potential questions. I put on my coolest clothes and my lucky red shoes. I staged a mock meeting with my cat -- and I have to say, my cat thought I was very charming.

    Tuesday night, they called me.

    They confirmed the meeting.

    They gave me directions.

    They put me on hold for just a sec -- and then told me that they had to reschedule. And push back our meeting to several weeks later.

    But that's Hollywood, baby :)

    And it's a blessing in disguise too. I'm half-way through writing the final draft of a new feature script -- and if I write 3 pages a day, every day, until this meeting -- I'll finish the script just in time to send a copy to this Hollywood VIP.

    "It's so crazy, it just might work!"

    But then there's another twist: my current employer, the rising writer/director [UNDISCLOSED], apparently likes me so much that he wants me to stay on as his assistant even longer!

    So I looked at my calendar and almost died: I will be working a full 8 hours a day and then coming home to write 3 pages a night. Every day. For the next four weeks straight.

    I thought about giving up on my crazy writing scheme -- but then I'd come empty-handed to the big meeting.

    I thought about asking for time off at work -- but at my boutique production company [UNDISCLOSED], I'm scouting locations and putting together pitches, which beats making copies for minimum wage.

    And then it hit me. This is it. This is the dream life.

    Working with a hot, new director by day. Writing a hot, new feature by night. I'm Peter Parker with Final Draft instead of a spidey suit.

    Of course, I want to get paid gobs of money to work under a studio bigwig. Of course, I want gobs of time to write the perfect script.

    But if I try sometimes, I might find... I get what I need.

    And now, I must be off. Writer-senses tingling. Thwip!

    Monday, June 28, 2010

    I Have A Job!

    Yes, I finally have a job in this business.

    I'm working at [UNDISCLOSED] -- a boutique production company for TV, film, internet, and comic books. The company's founder -- writer/director/producer [UNDISCLOSED] -- sold a pilot this season and now has several other TV projects lifting off the ground.

    So I'm assisting this director with research, casting, and light clerical work for one of his TV pilots -- and I'm sworn to secrecy not to tell more.

    This director has a very impressive reel of music videos and commrecials as well as a great voice in his writing. He's also a pleasure to work with and I'm learning so much from him.

    It's only a two week gig, but I plan to get the most out of it.

    Oh! This week's Another Life Festival Application Count: 35

    And stay tuned -- there's a super secret Hollywood meeting going down tomorrow night. More details will get posted as I'm allowed to give them away. Till then!

    Monday, June 21, 2010

    Is Girl Power Gone?

    There are no heroines in Hollywood today.

    The other night, I went to a party with several young screenwriters, all of whom were working on scripts -- action, comedy, horror -- with strong female leads.

    And none of us could catch a break with our scripts. Why?

    One writer told a sad story: he pitched an animated action-adventure TV show to a major studio. The show starred a brother-sister duo. The studio exec loved it, but he had one note:

    "Change the sister to a brother. Women don't sell overseas."

    This is a crock of bullsh*t.

    You know who was the biggest Box Office draw of 2009? Not Robert Downey, Jr. Not Johnny Depp.

    Sandra Bullock. That's right. Her two movies The Blind Side and The Proposal raked in over $600 Million worldwide (see box office mojo).

    So either this studio exec doesn't read the news, or this "Strong Women Fall Hard" Myth is very pervasive in Hollywood.

    To prove my point, try the Bechdel Test for Women in Movies for the last 3 movies you saw. Just ask yourself:
    1. Are there two or more female characters with names?
    2. Do they talk to each other?
    3. If they talk to each other, do they talk about something other than a man?
    If you answer "No" to any or all of these questions, it's not really a movie with any real, strong female characters, now is it?

    Now obviously this is not a perfect test, but just reverse it: almost every Hollywood movie ever made features two men talking about something other than a woman.

    So what happened to roles like Ripley in Aliens? Sarah Connor in Terminator 2? The Bride in Kill Bill? They've been replaced by frivolous fare and eye candy, as in Mamma Mia and Transformers.

    How do we get strong women back on the silver screen?

    Simple: If you stop going to bad movies, they will stop making them. Stop seeing movies that objectify women as damsels-in-distress.

    Vote with your wallet at the box office. Do NOT see Eclipse. See Salt.

    And we all have to work together. Writers, keep writing strong female characters. Actresses, keep taking on strong female roles. Producers, keep developing movies starring strong women.

    We have to do this together.

    Monday, June 14, 2010

    We have an IMDb page!

    Now that we're officially in consideration at over 25 film festivals, Another Life has its very own IMDb page! Check it out:

    We'll hear back from our first festivals in July, so cross your fingers!

    Monday, June 7, 2010

    Exclusive Hollywood Screening!

    Film Independent just selected Another Life for an exclusive Hollywood screening at the W Hotel! Come join us!

    The screening is Tuesday, July 20th @ 7:30 PM. Here are the details:

    Film Independent’s Cinema Lounge is the coolest way to view short films and meet filmmakers. Cinema Lounge takes center stage at the hip and chic W Hollywood Hotel. Sip a cocktail on a comfy couch and watch an eclectic mix of fascinating foreign, inspiring documentary, brilliantly crafted animated or truly entertaining short films. With usually 3-6 short films, the night runs 60-80 minutes long followed by Q&A -- and they also serve free beer and popcorn.

    And I can get you in for FREE, but only if you visit our Facebook Page, check out the Event Invite, and click "Attending."

    See you in Hollywood, baby.

    Monday, May 31, 2010

    You Win Some...

    Last week, I interviewed for a Writers' PA position on a hit TV show.

    I spent the 24 hours before in intense preparation: predicting their questions, coming up with good soundbytes, reading up on juicy Hollywood gossip to schmooze about, picking out the perfect clothes, researching the show meticulously, etc.

    The interview lasted 15 minutes. And I left feeling good.

    I found out on Friday I didn't get the job... so I applied for five more similar positions and the waiting game begins again. C'est la vie.

    But I've been hard at work on Another Life! I submitted the film to *15 more festivals.* That's a grand total of 27 Festivals I've already submitted to!

    I also just finished a comprehensive "Film Festival Submission Plan" that outlines a Total of 100 Film Festivals that I'll be sending Another Life to -- with detailed research on their festivals' deadlines, entry policies, programs, etc.

    That's right, 100 film festivals. Everything from Venice and Telluride to Topanga and Omaha -- all festivals that are best suited for Another Life. We're shooting for the stars!

    But this week... there's one big, exciting, confidential meeting going down... more on that when I'm allowed to talk about it...

    Keep your fingers crossed -- until then!

    Monday, May 24, 2010

    First Festivals Submission!

    Today, I submitted Another Life to 11 film festivals across the world! I'll hear back as early as July from a few of them. Fingers crossed...

    Where do you think I should apply to next? Become a fan on facebook and let me know by clicking on that link right over -- over there! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------->

    Lately, a day in Another Life has been a day in The Adventures of the Unemployed Filmmaker. All kinds of really exciting things are happening like:
    • sending my resume to top TV Shows and Production Companies
    • waiting patiently by the computer for them to e-mail me...
    • doing dishes
    • tidying
    • neatening
    • deliberating on which bathrobe to wear today
    • writing
    • more writing
    • still more writing
    • or actually just watching lots of Netflix Instant
    • meeting friends for coffee and talking about how it's hard out here for an unemployed film school grad... and pimps. It is also hard out here for the pimps.
    • checking email for job application replies every two minutes.
    • checking facebook every three minutes.
    Stay tuned for updates on getting into festivals, getting a Hollywood assistant job, getting an agent/manager, and getting the next hot script written. Until next time -- stay classy, internets!

    And oh, yes, I chose the blue bathrobe today.

    Monday, May 17, 2010

    Screening Success & New Website!

    Thank you all for coming to the screening! It was a major success!

    We got such a magnificent audience at the Paramount screening last night -- everyone was so supportive and gave such wonderful, positive feedback. I'm all aglow...

    Oh, and we have a new and improved website now! Check it out:

    It was quite a whirlwind. If any of you shook my hand and wished me congratulations, please feel free to shoot me an e-mail -- now that I've got more time on my hands, I'd love to meet up and talk more over coffee or something.

    So What's Next?

    * submitting Another Life to film festivals (obviously!)
    * job-hunting (Hollywood assistant, fingers crossed)
    * write, write, write, write, write
    * meet more cool people at screenings, parties, etc.
    * keep getting my work out there till it sticks!

    Now that Another Life is finally done, this blog will keep you posted on getting into festivals and the ups and downs of a young writer/director looking for work in Hollywood.

    Tomorrow, I graduate from USC film school. Then, the world!

    Monday, May 10, 2010

    Trailer is Up!

    That's right! Check out the new trailer right here.

    Also, don't forget to RSVP for the exclusive screening at Paramount Studios this Thursday, May 13th right here.

    But please note that the line-up has changed: the screening will begin at 7:30PM and now there is no intermission. If you just have to sneak in after the screening starts, Another Life will probably begin at 9:00PM (but no guarantees).

    See you on May 13th behind the pearly gates of Paramount!

    Monday, April 19, 2010

    Screening on May 13th!

    We're screening at Paramount Studios!!

    Here are the details:
    The Fresh Voices Screening
    Six USC thesis films. Six new directors. One fantastic evening.
    Thursday, May 13th @7:00pm
    Paramount Studios - Main Gate

    And Another Life is saved for last in the line-up. If you cannot attend the entire evening, please come during the intermission at 8:00pm and stay for the last three films.

    To RSVP, visit the link to our screening's website here.

    See you all behind the pearly gates of Paramount!

    Sunday, February 7, 2010

    Scoring, Strategies, & Trailer

    This past week I met with our composer John, developed a marketing strategy with our producer Min, and worked on the trailer with our editor Beth.

    What a good week.

    My meeting with John couldn't have been simpler. He showed me two cues for Angela's "romantic" theme... and they were brilliant. Subtle but emotionally evocative. Just the right sound for the film too. We had a great discussion bouncing around ideas to tweak these cues to perfection and developed a decent plan of where to go from here: having her romantic theme darkly echoed in the final scene and developing a dark, rumbling electronic sound for her more suspenseful Doug-related scenes.

    Oh yeah! And props to Chris (different from Lead Sound Designer Chris) for inviting me to join a big screening night. Chris and several other thesis film directors are banding together to organize a thesis film screening night in mid-May. We'll all be working together to find the perfect venue, advertise, promote, and invite agents, managers, and assistants to the screening.

    I haven't seen Min since the film shoot in August, so it was wonderful to see an old friend again. She's doing very well for herself in Stanford business school and I'm very proud to have such an intelligent, well-put-together, and fun friend. We laid out the potential "Another Life" has after the final mix:
    • I'll meet with my film school's festivals office in May for a festivals strategy
    • I'll be at our school's First Pitch event in early May -- the best and brightest of our film school pitching our projects to up and coming agents and managers -- and I'll pitch not only my feature scripts, but plug my upcoming screening
    • I'll help promote and plan our thesis film screening in mid-May
    • We'll have a trailer up on the internets by March
    • Between now and May, I'll be putting together a press kit, posters, and DVD art designs
    • Most importantly -- have polished scripts ready to hand to agents at the screening!
    And Beth, as usual, is amazing.

    Last weekend, we discussed our trailer ideas. This past Wednesday, she made a rough cut of the trailer that was damn near perfect. I sent her notes, she's working on a new cut this morning, I'll be seeing it late Monday, and we'll meet up this week and probably finish it.

    There's still much to be done, like coordinating Foley and ADR.

    So stay tuned till next week, when we should finish Dialogue Editing, make progress on Backgrounds, and try to lock down our schedule!

    Wednesday, January 27, 2010

    Sundance & Sound Design

    What a crazy past few weeks...

    Early last week, we pushed "Another Life" into the sound design phase after meeting our keys: Beth, our editor and post supervisor; Chris, our lead sound designer; Rebecca, our dialogue editor (first at work on sound); and John, our composer.

    And the meetings all went well.

    Rebecca and Chris both spotted the film with me and gave very good notes about the challenges ahead in ADR and Foley, the exciting opportunities of developing backgrounds, and the surmountable difficulties of dialogue editing. And some pretty great ideas with developing a new take on the film's soundscape!

    John and I met and spotted the film. I discussed my initial impressions for the score and he came to the table with some brilliant ideas on developing two themes for Angela's two worlds.

    After a few technical difficulties, Beth and Chris stepped in and made sure that John and Rebecca had all the right files to begin their work.

    And, yes, I was at Sundance this past weekend.

    I woke up early and stood in line for hours and hours to wait-list tickets for amazing films that will change the landscape of independent cinema. Films like Animal Kingdom, Abel, and Cyrus.

    I took buses, waited in long lines, and struck up conversations with complete strangers, making budding connections connections with emerging filmmakers and passionate filmgoers.

    I went to late night mixers and parties, rubbing elbows with actors, actresses, writers, producers, directors, and all kinds of exciting filmmakers until I ran out of business cards.


    The whole time I was there, I generated buzz for "Another Life."

    Stay tuned as next week, we review dialogue editing, build sound backgrounds, start making a trailer, and keeping the post-production schedule chugging along!

    Monday, January 4, 2010


    No better way to ring in the new year than with a Pic Lock...

    Picture. Editing. Is. Finally. DONE.

    Earlier today, my editor Beth and I watched the film for the first time since the winter holidays break. With fresh eyes to the 6th Cut and our last (very successful) test screening's notes, we watched the film, and... there was very little left to do.

    Beth had a few edit points she wanted to massage just right, cutting/adding a few frames at a few moments that felt slightly off... and then those scenes felt ten times better, just because there was half a breath more after a provocative line of dialogue or a stronger connection between the actors' eyes.

    I had one big note from the screening notes: a few audience members felt a little confused with the last flashback when Angela watches Tom die in her arms. They didn't understand what happened to the off-screen insurgents . Beth and I agreed and inserted a shot of Angela shooting down an off-screen insurgent before turning back to Tom bleeding out on the floor. Beth and I took some time picking just the right take, inserting it into the timeline, reconfiguring all the gunshot sound effects, massaging the edit points, getting the timing just right... and we nailed it.

    Beth and I both had some tweak notes on sound design and then we had some business to cover to make a smooth transition from picture to sound: making the OMF file and a high-res quicktime with the TCR embedded into the screen with no sound as well as a discussion of credits. I'll be compiling the final list this week (minus the names to be added during the sound design process) and we'll find a credits artist and finish that work before Spring Break.

    And after two hours of work, that was it. Final Cut Done.

    This is the way the editing ends
    Not with a bang, but with an AWESOME.

    Next, sound design! And then, the world!