Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A little Stimulus for me too please!

There's an online petition going around. Here's the text:

One Percent for the Arts Campaign

Congress will soon pass a stimulus package aimed at creating jobs and stimulating the economy. We ask that 1% of the stimulus support the arts. In the 1930s the Work Progress Administration created by Roosevelt created 3 million jobs. They built roads, streets, highways, bridges, parks, and public buildings. They also worked in the arts.

Our generation deserves no less.

The WPA employed 40,000 artists, writers, musicians, theater workers, and performers. Public support made it possible for people of modest means to dedicate themselves to their work. The WPA supported Jackson Pollock, Arshile Gorky, Saul Bellow, Zora Neal Hurston, John Steinbeck, Sterling Brown, Orson Welles, John Houseman, Burt Lancaster, and many other great talents, known and unknown. The WPA arts projects reached wide audiences and made the theater, music, and the arts accessible to low-income people.

An arts stimulus package could increase fellowship and scholarship money, create workplace arts and reading programs, foster cultural exchange programs, support artist-in-residency programs in schools and libraries, and more.

We are also calling for a cabinet level position for a Secretary of the Arts.

At first I thought this was ridiculous. But then I thought - hey - why not some film financing - it fits the profile - an expensive, short-term project that will benefit relatively few people. Besides, I've always wanted to adapt a real Horatio Alger story and this just seems like the perfect opportunity.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The elusive $60,000 feature

I had lunch with a friend last week and we were talking about the state of films and film making (I'm conflicted on the grammaticality of the elision of those two words into one in our popular culture) and distribution and the prospect of making films in the future that are not under the umbrella of a studio - major, mini or otherwise. The subject specifically turned to the idea of a $60,000.00 feature film. Now in the past this was easily (well, not easily - my $85k film was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life) done and there were distribution avenues available - to some degree theatrical and certainly home video. But the world is changing and the studios are getting out of indie like rats leaving a sinking ship. Video stores are going the way of the typewriter and Netflix has filled the void in essence, by itself. Of course the prospect of online distribution had us engaged for a little while, but the question arose : is it feasible to make a $60,000 feature film? Of course it's feasible if one doesn't intend to make a profit, but given that there's not much of a future in producing a stream of calling card films, that would seem to be goal. But where and how can these films make money? Who's showing them and more importantly, now that the indie world has been co-opted and then abandoned by studios and theaters, and perhaps re-directed by YouTube and the interweb in general, who and where is the audience?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Yeah, it's been slow

Sorry for the lack of scintillating words, but it's been awfully hard to concentrate on developing really stinging snarks about the film biz when you're working so damn hard. Now - if I could only translate piles of work into piles of money, I'd be a happy camper.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

My wife has a subscription to People

So Clay Aiken is on the cover of People (which was lying handily on the floor in our library bathroom) and apparently he's come out as gay, which, according to some of the radio I've been listening to is no big surprise to anyone. BUT - according to the photo on the cover of People he's also becoming a woman. Either that or someone went a little slaphappy with the old Photoshop.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Netflix thou confuseth me.

I've been a member of Netflix for neigh on three years now and over the course of that time I've gotten several mailers from them, and today I got an email from them, all along the same lines. The cover, and in this case the subject line touts a great member bonus.

"Special member bonus inside."

Yet, when I fall for opening it what I'm presented with is a coupon that I can give my friends or family to get one month free. Given that Netflix will pretty much give anyone at anytime and anyplace a free month, how exactly is this a "Special member bonus" for me???

Ah - my mistake. Apparently the Bonus is that when they redeem this free bonus trial I get one free bonus rental. Hmmm... let's see... most of the time I don't have the time to watch the three movies I'm entitled to... so I ask again, how is this exactly a bonus for me?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Paying Gig


It's been a while since I posted here. Well, things have been busy. This industrial I'm working on, I just realized yesterday, is feature length. I mean, quite literally. At its current run time it clocks in a t 101 minutes, which easily qualifies as feature length. It's funny because I've been working on it for months and never once did it occur to me to do the math on that. Anyway, needless to say, I've been busy. 

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Comedy Writes Itself

Apparently, as I ponder new episodes for the series of webisodes that the Sunday Evening Daily Morning Register called, "brilliant in it's latitude," the world has decided to assist.

Today is "National Orgasm Day."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I'm still here

but I've been shooting and editing and just lose all track of time and bodily functions while I'm doing that.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Busy, busy, busy...

Finally had the shoot - two days for the paying gig. It was fun in a weird sort of way. Weird because it was a tough shoot - too much material, not enough time and not enough money - but yet still fun because it was a shoot. Now I'm editing which is a lot fun and now that I think about it would be a great job for a vampire since about the only light I see during the course of a day is the warm glow of my flat screen.

Anyway - right before I went into the whole thing I posted Episode 9. At the moment it's the season finale, but you never know. I kind of like the way it leaves things and I have ideas for more, but the ideas I have kind of take it in new direction.

Here's the link (no more Funny or Die, they reworked their website and kind of boned guys like us)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Grande Con Carne Dot Com

After suffering through the indignities of the Funny or Die website re-design and the carnival freakshow atmosphere of YouTube - we've put up our own damn site.

Here it is right here.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The rare political post

I've only once before delved into anything kind of relating to politics on this blog but considering that I am (only just barely) in the media business, as a filmmaker and published author, I thought I should comment on this article.

Basically, it talks about the current Canadian persecution human rights kangeroo court trial of a journalist Mark Steyn for publishing words that were apparently offensive to Muslims.

It also talks - or I should say - alludes to American Exceptionalism and the fact that some people think America should perhaps reconsider it's stance on freedom of speech. Oh wait - hang on - did I say "allude" I believe I should have said, "explicitly states."

I quote: "Some prominent legal scholars say the United States should reconsider its position on hate speech."

Now the article seems to fairly even handed in presenting both sides of the argument, but the overall gist of it is that America is alone in the world regarding the idea that speech should truly be free. Of course what this (and the quote above) is referring to is "hate speech" which is a big amorphous, undefined blob of thought that seems to say any speech that might make someone else feel bad is no good. If that isn't the least bit frightening terrifying to any of you out there who, like me, are marginally involved in creating works of art film - then you need to re-read 1984 (or read it for the first time). If, like so much of the world, you'd rather not read then (well, then you probably aren't really reading this) let me just point out that the reason this is dangerous is because while it may seem all ducky and might even give you the warm and fuzzies to be in favor of banning hate speech now just remember that what determines "hate speech" is defined by those that are in power - not those it allegedly protects. And if you don't think THAT is dangerous then - well hell, do me a favor and just go read 1984.

Episode 8 "Double Lesbian Twist"

Sorry - forgot to cross post this here...

Thursday, May 29, 2008


After a few weeks of being buried in a script for the current project, I'm back to editing Grande Con Carne while I wait for client notes. It's a long script, so I'm not expecting anything from them until at least tomorrow, which means, that I should be able to finish up Episode 8 today. I may wait until Monday to post it though as Fridays tend to be right before Saturdays and I'm pretty sure most people are not at work on Saturdays and what's the point of wasting time by watching interweb videos if you're not a work?

I'll wait for my audience.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Casting again - or why it's important to show up.

The last week has been particularly brutal on my sinuses. It tends to happen when the weather changes, which it did last week, from kind of cold and muggy (down here at the beach) to really hot and dry. Now I love the hot and dry - I really do, but it takes my inner cavities a little while to get used to it, which makes it hard to sleep and - well - live. The tragedy is that I don't think this weather is supposed to stick around, which means I'm going to go through all this again.

Now - on to the regularly scheduled blog post(which may not be as witty and erudite as previous entries due to the sinus medication cloud my brain is currently swimming around in).

My partner, Steve, and I did some casting on Friday, with our always wonderful casting director, Mark Sikes. It wasn't for GCC, but for the actual paying gig. It was fun and we saw a lot of good people. But it was interesting. Generally with the freebie stuff we've been doing you don't see a whole lot of actors but you kind of know that up front. Yesterday, with a paying gig to offer, we saw quite a lot of people, yet it was still pretty surprising that there were quite a few no-shows. In a business where 50% of the job is just showing up - a heck of a lot of people didn't show up.

And there was another phenomenon that I thought was quite interesting. As this project is an informational, "how-to" video, we had some voiceover work as part of the sides, being that voiceover work is going to be a substantial part of the production process. I can NOT BEGIN to tell you how many actors walked into that audition and asked if we were going to do the voiceover. And then, when we said, yes, in fact we do want you to run through the all the material we took time to assemble and photocopy and get out to you, at least half of them hadn't prepared it and wound up reading it cold (and given that it was somewhat complex and technical, tended to stumble and bumble through it - one guy actually jut gave up in the middle and walked out).

Let me just tell you, in case there are any actors among the three of you out there reading this, that if a producer/director/casting director actually takes the time to include some dialogue (even, and let me make this perfectly clear, even if it is only just YOU speaking) in a set of sides and then sends it out to you there's a better than even chance we didn't do it just so you would have something extra to wrap fish with once the audition was over.

I mean, I'm just saying...

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Time off to work

Sorry the posting here and of new episodes (of which there are two awaiting my digital razor blade) has been slow but it turns out I had to take a little time off to work for some actual money. You see, although Grande Con Carne has all the appearances of a multi-national, festival-favorite, box-office blockbuster, the fact is that remains a labor of love. And as such requires, from time to time, the occasional break to actually go ahead and prostitute my talents on cash infusing endeavors.

This particular project is actually kind of fun. It's an industrial but an interesting one for the boy in me. We get to play with cars. More on it later.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Rapid clothes-free sorties...

As an off topic, little bit of fun, I'm posting this: (At least, I think it might be a little bit of fun provided you have sufficient bug spray and aren't working anywhere near anything thorny or poison ivy. Yeesh)

Get ready for the Fourth Annual World Naked Gardening Day (WNGD)! People across the globe are encouraged, on Saturday, May 3, 2008 to tend their portion of the world's garden clothed as nature intended.

Gardening has a timeless quality, and anyone can do it: young and old, singles or groups, the fit and infirm, urban and rural. An elderly lady in a Manhattan apartment can plant new annuals in her window box. Families can rake leaves in their back yard. Freehikers can pull invasive weeds along their favorite stretch of trail. More daring groups can make rapid clothes-free sorties into public parks to do community-friendly stealth cleanups.

Click here for more

Thursday, May 01, 2008


Well, we're up on YouTube.

I had kind of resisted posting on YouTube for two reasons, one - is I think it's essentially a freakshow with the best and the brightest falling behind the weirdest, scariest and sickest. The second reason is that the codec YouTube uses to compresses the videos sucks donkey balls.

But - YouTube recently added a function whereby the viewer can click a little link at the bottom right hand corner of the frame and watch the video in higher definition. It's still a freakshow, but it's a freakshow with a monstrously big audience. Heck, even the music videos I did, which have a limited following to begin with have gotten two thousand clicks each.

So - for all my loyal readers, here's the LINK.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Episode 7 Up

So I just posted Episode 7, "Hi, Hi, Bernie" of Grande Con Carne. I'm looking forward to seeing what the reaction is on this one since it has a couple of industry "in" jokes.

But in keeping with the age old internet tradition of keeping your eyeballs glued to this page forever - here it is:

Friday, April 25, 2008

For Your Consideration

Well, for those of you who may not know, which accounts for the whole entire world, minus about 12 people, "Grande Con Carne" has been submitted for Emmy consideration.

A few weeks ago, I got a comment on this blog (here) encouraging me to submit. Apparently there is a special category for "Short Form" programming and last year the Emmy folk decided to make broadband an acceptable form of broadcast to qualify for Emmy consideration.

So, seeing the obvious potential upside should I actually win the lottery and even receive a nomination, I submitted.

Now the problem is, I'm sure the folks from "The Office" and "Medium" and all those other gigantic Alphabet shows out there that do "webisodes" in addition to their normally and regularly scheduled programming, are going to submit as well. And, unless I'm gravely mistaken (and I have a feeling I'm not) all those networky networking types are going to start running ads in Variety and HR and sending out fruit baskets and various and sundry marketing swag type items to all and anyone who has any sort of voting capability with the Emmys. All of which I, as an independent writer-producer-director-boom-pole-operator do not have the ability (or even a small fraction of the cash) to do. So here's my compromise. To any and all Emmy voters out there willing to consider voting for my tiny, and underfunded little webisodic efforts, I will offer, right here and now, my hearty and sincere thanks.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Missing Language

In my blog rolling adventures I came across this link at another blog. It's a glossary of film terms, yet I find it sorely lacking. Anyone who's been around the business long enough will certainly have heard terms that get every day use, but are not included in this list.

For the initiated:

Mickey Rooney (used to describe a dolly move)
Groucho (a direction given to an actor)
Cowboy (a camera angle)
Two T's (another camera angle)
Producer Tape (expendables)
C-47 (grip equipment) (and one of the most commonly heard terms on set)
C-Stand (also grip equipment and another of the most commonly heard terms on set)

There are other's I'm sure, but my brain is still trying to absorb the caffeine I pumped into it this morning, so if I think of anything else, I'll include it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Retroactive Script Notes

A Script Supervisor is one of those positions that, when you are making something for a very low budget, seems superfluous. It's also one of the jobs on set that can be extremely important. The job of a Script Supervisor is to record every shot, every action, to take notes on the script as it's being shot. They also assign scene numbers that go on the slate. Though in reality the convention of how scenes are numbered is fairly straight forward, Sc 1 Tk 1 -> Sc 1A Tk 1, etc, they can get a little tricky at times and as a camera assistant and later as a director I depended on them to help me keep track of what was happening and most important, what had happened and what was going to happen.

I'm just thinking about that now, I as I sit here, going through all the footage from the last shoot and making retroactive script notes.

As a 2nd AC, especially on a film or series, you tend to work very closely with the script supervisor for a long period of time. I have fond memories of more than one.

UPDATE: As an update, I went trolling through some of the blog rolls of the sites I frequent and came across this blog Script Goddess. If you have some time and are interested, give it a look - watch the film she has posted about sleep and read the piece on Brent - he was a good guy - someone who helped me when I was just starting out. In fact, I'm going to crack open the nut that is my blog roll, over one the left there, and add this one.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Grande Con For Sale

"Grande Con Carne" is looking for a home. 

I realize that while we look like a slickly produced, big-budget, high-concept, years-in-development webseries with gobs and gobs and gobs of venture capital™ firms pounding at our door, dying to moentize® our efforts,  such, I can assure you, is not exactly the case.

"Grande Con Carne" has been produced on a shoestring budget, independently and with a only a few bottles of water and a bag of Chips Ahoy as craft service. 

Of course, to the layman, the casual viewer, the porn-weary web surfer, we are an oasis of comedy gold, but little do they know the peculiarities of the entertainment industry.

Submitted for your approval: my Mom and Josh's Aunt Lisa firmly and sincerely believe that "Grande Con Carne" should be made into a TV show, and I, for one, am not going to dissuade them of their opinions. And it may well be so that "Grande Con Carne" should, in point of fact, be made into a TV show. But it's also the case that I've been so busy making the damn show that I haven't exactly had time to get the word out. Well, this, my loyal reader(s) (and any agents, managers, producers or new media™ titans who occasion to happen upon my humble blogging efforts), is the official getting out of the WORD. 

"Grande Con Carne" is for sale. Kind of. What we'd like is to find some nice production company or web portal™ to finance or "partner" with our further efforts (while leaving us in complete creative control, with 99.995% ownership). It's not that I want the money, heaven knows I have no desire to sell out my artistic ambitions, but it's just that I feel it's "unfair" to all those viewers out there who have yet to see "Grande Con Carne" to keep it to ourselves.  So if you, or someone you know is the next Pierre Omidyar or Chad Hurley, please shoot us an email. We'll be happy to talk.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

I wanna be Judd Apatow's friend.

There was a time when it seemed like being a Coppola was a sure ticket to Hollywood success. I'm not sure if all of these names are related to the grand-master Francis (though a staggering number of them are), but I'm sure their surnames didn't exactly hurt their careers. In fact, while I was shooting my first film, "Learning to Surf," (winner: Best Achievement in Directing at IndieVision Fest 2002 (just in case anyone was wondering)) my good friend and D.P. Steve Vernon, C.S.C, counseled me to change my name to Coppola. "If anyone asks," he said, "whether or not you're related, you can always tell them, 'I really don't want to talk about it. I prefer to achieve success on my own terms.'"

Alas, I kept my name and here I am, blogging about my adventures producing a small webseries with a budget the size of Jerry Bruckheimer's pocket change (assuming Jerry hasn't been to an ATM in a while).

But things have changed and the new man about town, the king maker, the man with the midas touch, is Judd Apatow and I am here to officially announce my desire, my longing, my fervent need to become his friend. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

There Once Was a Man From Nantucket

The LA Times writes today about Judd Apatow's engorged efforts to thrust the display of male genetalia more securely into the modern film age. The story outlines an episode in the new "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" where the main character, played by Jason Segel, is fully and frontally nude for quite some time. The scene, according to the article, prodded the audience at South by Southwest to fits of laughter. Apparently serious comedic benefits can be accrued by filmmakers willing to sling their sausage in the faces of movie goers. Given that the title of this blog and of my webseries, Grande Con Carne, is in fact a thinly veiled double entendre regarding the aforementioned male appendage, I am sympathetic to this argument. The problem with the article is that the author assumes this is a new thing when in fact phallic comedy is as old as the hills.

In 411 BC Aristophanes used erect phalluses to great comedic effect in his play "Lysistrata".

Here are just two examples, though more abound throughout the play.

CINESIAS:(To the audience and pointing at his jolting prick)

My God, this prick! It’s worse than starving Hercules, waiting for his lunch.


and then later:


That’s a… that’s a… Spartan message rod.


Hah! If that’s a Spartan message rod then so is this (Indicates his own phallus)

Don’t worry friend, I know what’s up. You can tell me the truth. How are things with you men in Sparta?

SPARTAN HERALD: (Moral relaxation ensues after the disclosure but he is still visibly, very uncomfortable physically because of the affliction (ed note: the "affliction" is an erection))

All of us, Spartans, as well as allies, have stiffies like this one. We all need a fuck!

(ed. note: the original Greek word for "fuck," according to Google is: γαμω)

Friday, April 04, 2008

The Web Series: Episode 6

For all my adoring fans and loyal readers here is episode 6 without the added heartache of navigating away from this page: