Friday, December 4, 2009

Genius is Next to Insanity

So a few nights ago my friend Tony Sago invited me to an advanced screening of Sherlock Holmes with a Q&A afterwards with Robert Downey Jr. This is one of the many "perks" of living in LA and working in the film industry. But as a writer it is also extremely advantageous because it allowed me a small glimpse at an actor, who I believe to be an utter genius on screen.

Now that is a huge statement to make and I know that there are people who will both agree and disagree with me but, to me, it really is hard to deny his talent. Just for the record, I'm a huge Sherlock Holmes fan. My mother introduced me to the stories when I was kid. I'm actually half way through the second book of collected stories (which I highly recommend to anyone who hasn't read them.)

I found the movie amazing. I really did. It was funny, clever, well performed, and beautifully shot. It is one of my favorite films thus far for 2009. However, afterwards, was where the real inspiration for me happened: the interview with Robert Downy Jr. Now, I won't say that it was life altering or anything like that. But I did find it inspiring in many ways. None of us are strangers to his past. His drug and alcohol abuse, the arrests. It was hard to see someone we loved on screen for so many years fall so low. But he did the unthinkable...he recovered, became sober, and began acting again and came back with such force. It was like he needed that period of his life to regain confidance or, perhaps, a better perspective on life.

Listening to Robert talk the other night was one of the few moments in life that I will always treasure. He was very witty, charming, and most engaging. He literally took over the interview with fun stories and quips of being on the set while filming the movie, what it took to prepare, how he got the role. There is no doubt that Robert Downey, Jr is zany in real life. It may possibly explain why is presence on screen is so larger than life. And I've just often wondered if Genius is next to insanity.

I suppose that could be so. I mean, look at the late Michael Jackson. He was in scandal after scandal after scandal. Near the end it seemed as if he had become just a caricature of himself. He lived an extravagant life; living in a mansion that he had turned into an amusement park. Strange as it was, we as fans were always intrigued by the way he lived his life. It was, dare I say, almost surreal. But his music, it seemed to speak to so many across the globe. There isn't a Michael Jackson song that no one doesn't know. He was an icon who had reason beyond the stratosphere when he died.

I suppose that you can still be extremely creative as an artist and NOT have to be insane. In fact, I know that you can. But I wonder if there is a fine line between the two and I wonder just exactly how they both truly affect one another.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

May '09: Daniel Frank

1) What is the biggest challenge facing writers/bloggers today?
I have talked to a few people regarding their blogs and how they got them started. I would say if you are just getting started writing/blogging the biggest challenge is finding your voice. Your voice is that one hook or angle that makes your writing different and unique.

2) What has been one of your biggest challenges?
My blog is about my experiences in the entertainment industry. Often I have found myself attending the same event every month. When I choose to cover an event multiple times, I find one of the biggest challenges is finding a way to make the repeated event interesting without repeating the same experiences each time. Another challenge is actually being able to go to those events; let's face it, blogging doesn't exactly pay well and living in Orange County instead of LA doesn't too much either.

3) Where do you find your inspiration to write?
This is a somewhat difficult question as my blog is about my experiences in the entertainment industry, usually the stories write themselves. For other things I have written or help create, I find inspiration in isolation or dreams; basically any activity which allows my mind to wander.

4) What current projects are you working on?
In addition to my blog, Hollywood Nobody, I am currently writing two screen plays. Both deal with the same concept or belief of soul mates, but each deals with this idea in different ways. Another project I am working on is tentatively called, "Elementals" which is about a group of genetically altered GAY superheroes; perhaps you know my partner on this project, his name is Michael Coulombe? Currently this project is still in development. In addition to writing, I am also passionate about acting. I can currently be seen in Nick Wauters short film, "Neurotica," which is not a porno. If you go to LOGO Online you can currently watch "Neurotica" as part of the CLICK LIST - BEST IN SHORT PROGRAM. Another project I worked on as an actor, which has recently been released is the Henri Charr feature, "The Border." Unfortunately my footage was cut from the film, but I had an amazing experience working on that film. The third project I can be seen in is the upcoming directorial debut of Chris Fishel, "Chronicles of a Lonely Mind." In addition to those three films, I will begin work on a fourth film, "The Purpose of Apples," shortly.

5) What is the best benefit of journaling in a blog?
I think the appropriate answer would be the ability to look back on an amazing journey and see how I have grown as an artist and individual, but that's kind of a bullshit answer. For me the best benefit is hearing from the readers that they enjoyed what I wrote. Nothing gives me a bigger high then to know that someone enjoys what I am doing. It nice to know that I am doing this for the amusement of other people and not just to fulfill some innate narcissism

6) Have your tried writing anything else?
Yes I have tried writing poems, and song lyrics, but found that I am not that great at writing those. Again that goes back to finding your voice. I also have been working on a few screen plays, but those take forever to write so it's hard for me to remain focused on it for too something shiny!!!

7) What is your ideal writing sanctuary?
Normally I do a lot of writing in my bedroom sitting in an uncomfortable office chair with an armrest that continuously pinches my arm because it is slowly falling apart. Other than that I like to go to The Library in Long Beach. It reminds me of the Gay and/or trendy coffee houses back home in Minneapolis; Vera's, Uncommon Grounds, and Café Weird (God rest her soul). By the way I fully expect free drinks from each of those places for the plug.

8)Do you think that being openly gay affects your writing?
Definitely, but not necessarily in a negative way. Being gay myself, I have found that those are the stories that I am interested in hearing, seeing, and writing. I have recently begun to create an idea for a screen play that features a heterosexual lead; however, it's a female with a gay best friend. Hey you know what they say, "write what you know."

9) What are your goals/aspirations?
My current passion is mostly in acting; however my biggest goal, regardless of the medium I use to accomplish it, is to be a positive role model for LGBT people across the nation. I know that's a tall order, but I believe it is an important goal to have. The more positive role models our community has the more we will ourselves accepted for who we truly are. I am tired of reading in the newspaper (or more appropriately on Facebook and The Smoking Cocktail) about 11 year old boys killing themselves because their classmates made them feel like they were worthless and had no other options; there are always other options.

10) How does being an actor affect your writing?
In terms of my blog, if I wasn't for my experience as an actor, the blog itself wouldn't exist. Or it would be about something else. Most likely me being bitchy about random meaningless things. Lets be honest, bitchy is my thing. In terms of writing or creating screen plays, If I am working on an incredibly difficult scene and am struggling with dialogue, I have found that the ability to imagine myself in that scene and/or act it out can help me create better dialogue or even take the scene in a completely different direction then I had previously imagined

Daniel Frank

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Poor Man Copyright

So I am struck with brilliance and I sit down to compose my masterpiece to paper (or sometimes to my computer). I know it isn't complete and there will still be many changes but I want to protect my work without having to constantly copyright it, since that can be costly. So, I put the newly written piece into an envelope and I mail it to myself so if I ever to dispute it being stolen I have a dated piece of material dated by a Federal institution: the post office!

Well that is no longer the case. According to the film production law blog a 'poor man's copyright" is a poor solution for copyright protection.'

Check out the article here:

Film Production Law Blog

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Unlikely of Places

One thing I've learned as a writer is that talent can come from the most unlikely of places. It works a lot like inspiration in that way. On April 11, 2009 Susan Boyle stepped onto the stage of the UK hit show "Britians Got Talent." She is a plain, unassuming woman who is nearly 48 years old. She is unemployed and, as she says when they talked to her, a woman who has never been kissed. She is the kind of woman that people snicker at, evidenced by the audiences reaction to her as she stood there introducing herself.

She started singing at the age of 12 and it was her life long ambition to sing to a live crowd and on April 11, 2009 she finally had her chance. She walked out there, nervous and with a cheeky grin and told the audience "I'll be singing 'I Dreamed a Dream' from Les Miserables." The audience was ready to hear warbling half hit notes and the crooning of a woman who had only convinced herself she had talent. What she did though was to win over an entire nation in less than four minutes.

She is endearing, to say the least. I admire anyone who never gives up on their dream. She knew she had nothing to lose and decided, even at the age of 47, to risk everything and give it a chance. To me, that's inspiration. To me, that's a true artist. If anything, we can learn that if you 'dream a dream' then it's never too late to reach for the stars!

Here she is:

Susan Boyle

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Star Wars (John Williams is the Man)

One thing I've learned about spending a lot of time writing is that sometimes you have to stop and take a break. Here is something fun and enjoyable I ran across. Hope the music and humor of it inspire you....

Thursday, April 9, 2009

April 2009: Steven Reigns

Steven Reigns is a Los Angeles based poet and educator. After earning a degree in
Creative Writing at the University of South Florida, his début poetry collection, Your
Dead Body is My Welcome Mat, was published in 2001. Since then, Reigns has published
two chapbooks, Ignited and Cartography, and taught creative writing workshops around
the country to gay youth and people living with HIV. For three years, Reigns served as
Literary Director for Tampa’s GLBT community center. Currently he is working on
S(t)even Years, a 7-year endurance performance under the mentorship of performance
artist Linda Montano and is also at work on a new collection of poetry entitled
Inheritance. He recently edited My Life is Poetry, an anthology of autobiographical poetry by GLB seniors.

1) What is the biggest challenge facing writers/poets today?

I think creative people’s challenges have been similar for decades, if not centuries, we wrestle with creating precisely what we envision and feel, we’re in constant exploration and observation of our inner and outer worlds. What’s unique to our time is the changing culture of print and its competition for our attention. Writing poetry, sans a small few, isn’t a viable means for sole income.

As far as the future of poetry, I’m not a fatalist. I embrace technology and feel that we’re in an exciting time. Fifteen years ago we lamented on the dying art of letter writing. It would have been impossible to imagine what we have today—email. I realize it isn’t the same thing but if we embrace the change it’s easier to recognize that more people are expressing themselves with the written word than twenty years ago. I’m confident poetry will have a similar fate. Just last week I was scouring the net and downloading poets into my iPod. Technology or some type of cultural shift is going to give poetry new life. In many ways, I think poetry, with its brevity, has the potential to become favored over novels.

2) What has been one of your biggest challenges?

The first is finding time. I don’t think this challenge is unique to me. I’m so engaged in life and find so many things of interest that it can sometimes be easy to neglect my writing time. The books on my shelf and the blank page have lots of attention competition and don’t seem to cry from neglect.
I’m also not immune to self-doubt. There are times I question the importance of what I’m doing. I even get into the comparing game and think of all of the talented poets out there vying for the same space in journals, publisher’s printing presses, and bookshelves. About two years ago I was flying out of NYC and kept staring out the window. I was like a kid again and awed at how many people were out in the world. My thought wasn’t “There are so many people, I should stop being one.” I felt excited to be on the planet, able to join-in and witness life. I soon began to think similarly about my poetry—I’m joining a pantheon, not battling in the coliseum. There is enough room for all of our voices.

3) Where do you find your inspiration to write?

I think anything can serve as an inspiration to write, we just need to allow ourselves the time to do it. Linda Montano wrote that everyone has a chicken story. The first time I read that, I thought it was ridiculous. Then, when I gave myself time, I realized I had one too.
As a poet, I gather what is around me and inside of me and put it into my work.
Generally to write a poem I like to have two ideas or two sources of inspiration. Sometimes one element doesn’t seem to be enough to sustain a poem. As an example, smells can quickly take me back to a time and place. Smelling the perfume soap my grandmother used could be a poem but I like poetry to be a bit more complex than that. I’d couple that poem with a story about sitting in her beauty parlor or relate the aromatic reminder to my first boyfriend’s cologne.
Inspiration for writing has changed over the years. Good writing inspires me. I’ll read a good poem and get excited thinking how I want to write something as good. I don’t think of this as competiveness, I think of it as almost a conversation. I want to be in that kitchen, cooking with those chiefs.

4) What current projects are you working on?

The biggest “project” I’m working on isn’t directly poetry related. In December I will graduate with a Masters in Family Therapy. When starting the program I wrote supportively in my journal “You’re not leaving poetry behind, you’re leaving poverty behind.” I was tempted to get an MFA but I was unsure about my interest in teaching in academia.
As a poet, one needs to find a way to support themselves; poetry isn’t going to be enough. My course of study, psychology, focuses on the personal and relationships. My poetry has had the same scope. Shortly after starting the program I read the Sigmund Freud quote, “Everywhere I go I find that a poet has been there before me.” Anne Sexton has a poem about the similarities between the professions, “Said the Poet to the Analyst.” If I desired I could even specialize in the emerging Poetry Therapy field. The deeper I get into it, the more surprising the similarities.

5) Do you mostly write in free verse?
I have quite a few poems that are forms but I’m a fan of the narrative block.
I think one of the dangers of form poetry is that the message or meaning gets distorted because the poet tries to push a story or experience into a container that might not be appropriate. It’s important to know what container fits best for ones story. There isn’t a one-size/one form fits all proportion. That’s why it’s important to know forms and what works best within them. In my classes we avoid all end rhyme. It usually makes a poem sound like a nursery book.

6) What else do you write besides poetry?

For three years I had a bi-monthly column in a magazine. I’ve occasionally written book reviews and conducted interviews. Primarily I write poetry. Right now I don’t have an interest in anything else. This is a rarity in Los Angeles where there are so many aspiring screenwriters. I went on a date with a guy who was amazed I only had interest in writing poetry. He thought it lacked ambition and asked annoyingly, “Don’t you ever want to do anything bigger than that?” I told him that poetry is big, it’s the biggest thing in my life and I never tire of it.

7) What is your ideal writing sanctuary?

I’ve long given up the idea of a writing sanctuary. Focusing on the perfect one or how I don’t have one seems like a good excuse to procrastinate or a good reason why I’m not writing. Ideally, I’d write down a poem when the idea comes to me. This isn’t always the case, I’d be a more prolific writer if I were as open to ideas as I was in the past. I was forever pulling my car over and jotting down ideas, stopping mid-shower to write a verse. I still keep a notebook near my bed but the urgency to write down every idea isn’t as strong. Maybe my feelings of needing to immediately write the thought came from some type of starvation thinking. I’m more comfortable with myself as a creative person, I know my output is endless. I believe the strong images will be waiting when I’m ready to write. The challenge currently is setting aside the time to write.

8)Do you think that being openly gay affects your writing?

My flippant answer to this question is that everything affects my writings. However, I know it’s more complex. Such questions are common during queer writing panels and at conferences. What makes a work gay? What is a gay sensibility? I took a weekly pottery class for four years. One night I was looking at a shelf filled with my work, the only gay male, and that of my classmates. I’m not so sure potters talk about the gay sensibility of their work or if their gayness affects their work, they just make it. The same is true for my poetry. I don’t feel the need to represent my community when I write. If I did, I’d be paralyzed with pressure. I’m focused on representing my experience or vision—that’s pressure enough. I hope readers can relate, learn, and empathize with the work but I don’t sit down with an audience in mind.
Gayness and being a writer has always been intricately linked for me. When I first had sex with a guy at age sixteen, I wrote about it in my journal. Later while reading that entry to my friend Stephanie Recht, she encouraged me to write more and I followed that advice.

9) What s your next project?

On April 15th, I’m teaching a free autobiographical poetry workshop at The West Hollywood Library at 6:00 PM that is co-sponsored by Friends of the West Hollywood Library. On April 27, I will perform at Queer Mondays at Highways Performance Space at 7:30 PM. I enjoy teaching poetry workshops and connecting people with the joy of writing poetry and finding a creative outlet. I still teach the monthly autobiographical poetry workshop My Life is Poetry for GLBT elders.
I have a finished collection, Inheritance, which I’m submitting to presses. I’m three years into my seven-year performance piece S(t)even Years. Each year I focus and move my way up to each chakra of the body. There’s a chapbook for each year but these have very small runs and are limited editions.

10) As of right now, what are you most proud of with your writing?

I’m always the most proud of my latest accomplishments. Most of my work is autobiographical and the writings are documents of that time. I think I’ve become a better writer but also a more astute observer and a healthier person. My new work reflects that. The honesty and integrity of my work hasn’t wavered but the pacing, rawness, and immediacy have changed. I’m quite happy with where I am and the direction of my poetry. I look forward to observing where poetry takes me and where I take the poetry.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Purpose of Apples

So I held auditions for my short film "The Purpose of Apples." It's the story of Ethel and Caden who meet at a bus stop in LA at 8 in the morning.

There were so many amazing actors. Each one of them brought something different to each character. It was nice to see the various interpretations!

So after sitting down with a bunch of head shots and looking through resumes and watching 30 auditions, I have finally reached my oscar winning cast.

Ethel: E Fe

Caden: Andrew McGuinness

Young Ethel: Djakarta

Herb: Mike Wade

Alyse: Jamie Willey

Flower Guy: Daniel Frank

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Being an artist

The one thing about being an artist is learning to deal with the frustrating times. For instance, my good friend Andrew is having a moment of what he calls "actor's block." It's sort of like writer's block but only for actors. He's a phenomenal actor but, just like rest of us, had an off day. He had an audtion this afternoon for a play called Carved in Stone. We went to go see the reading last weekend and really enjoyed it. He'd really be perfect as one of the lead roles. He knows, I know it. But he went in for the audition today to be an understudy and just didn't do well. It happens. It doesn't make him a bad actor; it just makes him an artist.

This is something I have to remind myself constantly of when it comes to my writing. It seems for every good thing that will happen that pushes my career forward it always seems there are three things after that drag it backwards.

The one thing I'd like to remind all artists is that there will always be lows for every artist. Even the established ones. It's about remaining positive, keeping faith, and never giving up. I struggle with that myself almost daily. But my love of writing always, always surpasses my desire to just throw in the towel!

Monday, February 9, 2009

"You Can Call Me Eve" Play Reading

Two weeks from today is the reading of my first full length play "You Can Call Me Eve." The story of a latina woman who changes her identity to help deal the pain of her past.

When: Monday, February 23, 2009

Where: Write Act Repertory
6128 Yucca St
Hollywood, Ca


The play reading was such a success. I truly want to thank Wil Bowers
Everyone who was there gave amazing feedback. They all seemed genuinely touched by the words. The actors themselves brought so much to the reading as well. People were laughing and was moving. And sitting there listening to everyone and seeing the looks on their faces made it all worth it.

A few days later Wil told me the Sr. member of the Write Act Repertory said the feedback from the audience, and the actors, and the director was good so they'd like to produce it! So, now I need to take the feedback from the reading and sit down and make the necessary albeit important changes to the play. This is, of course, a great thing. I've waited four (4) years even for this step.

So thank you to my actors:

Eve: Liliana Montenegro
Rosa: Lucia Solares
Danny: Vance Roi Reyes
Carlos: Cameron Bender
Maria: Melanie Cruz
Erik: Tim Bell
Narrator/Danny (14): Casey Dickerson

Thank you

Sunday, February 1, 2009

February 09: Bazhe

1) What is the biggest challenge facing writers today?
The readership that is shrinking as the global warming is expending.
The greedy publishers that want only commercial books to sell like soap.
The need of books that readers can read without using their brains.
Simply, the need of books that won't make the readers smarter, yet dumber.

2) Where do you find your inspiration to write?
Everywhere I go I can get inspired easily. I travel a lot and that helps.
I just absorb any details of any place, or of a situation I am in.

3) What current projects are you working on?
I am finishing one fiction book, and one art book.

4) Who are some of your favorite authors?
Many. Currently I read and study: G. Orwell and A. Huxley.

5) What's your favorite genre/medium to write in?
I like to experiment with different genre as I create new work.
I think writing the same way all the time is dull.

6) What is your ideal writing sanctuary?
In a train that goes somewhere, or in my basement.

7) English isn't your first language. How is growing up in Yugoslavia affected your view on the world? How has it affected your writing?
Knowing more than one language can only complement my writing abilities.
I am glad that I am able to use my knowledge of different human systems.
This only enriches my writing, and makes it more powerful.

8) What s your next project?
The book that I am finishing is a Americana-fiction-book.
It deals with the all timely problems that we are facing now.

It deals with: the financial and the healthcare crisis;
the banksters bankrupting America; and
the collapsing of the auto industry.

I write about the heads of these institutions begging for money
and at the same time screwing the American people royally.

It is a satire about the manipulations done by the elite groups
and the people begging God for help.

9) As of right now, what are you most proud of with your writing?
The all great feedback that I received from the readers.
This motivate me to write more and better.


Monday, January 12, 2009

I Am Important

I am important!
I get on my cell phone as I exit the gym
because life cannot wait until yoga is over.

I am important
as I sit contemplating the universe
sucking on a double espresso chai half-caf latte no whip extra foam.

I am important -
my Prada suit,
Armani pure leather jacket,
Donna Karin alligator belt,
and Louis Vuitton handbag tell I am.

I am important!
When I jump in my in my C-class Silver Mercedes Benz
and valet park at the Ivy where I meet my friends for lunch
and dine on eggplant and tofu parmiggean
smothered in a red-wine vinaigrette
followed by a soy-based low-fat vanilla bean ice cream.

I am important.
I arrive fifteen minutes late to Pilates
because there is nothing more dramatic than a grand entrance
and since leaving yoga class early
interrupted my state of enlightment
and I must reach it or my heartbeat will continue to rise
and I will break out into a sweat
causing my grape seed facial peel to counteract
and cause a rash.
I am important.

I am important!
Between Feng Shui and Rhinoplasty -
I am important.
Between Abercrombie & Fitch,
Fred Segal, or Dolce & Gobana -
I am important.
Between movie premieres
or that raging party that was thrown by
my best friend's cousin's sister-in-law's dog walker -
I am important.
Between Lexus' or BMW's;
between Sunset Boulevard or Hollywood;
between auditions or the casting couch - -
I am important.
I am important.
I. Am. Important.

© Michael Coulombe

Saturday, January 3, 2009

January 2009: Veronica Craven

1) What is the most challenging thing facing writers today?

The most challenging thing writers face right now the the fact that every time you think you have something original that no one has ever thought of or done before or said quite how you've said it, you find out it has. And better.

2) Where do you find your inspiration to write?
I find my inspiration in my life experiences or fantasies I could never act out other than on paper. There will always be some of my reality in everything I do. I think that's true for most writers.

3) What current projects are you working on?
Right now I am in pre production on a film I wrote called "Zombie King". Michael Norman Mann helped me on the screenplay. It's a post rapture party story of a lonely little zombie trying to hold on to her humanity while going on a 'Wizard of Oz' type journey to find the Zombie King who can 'cure' her.

4) Who are some of your favorite writers?
I love Stephen King. Love, Love, Love him. If I were a man, I would be Stephen King.

5) What's your favorite genre/medium to write in?
I tend to gravatate towards Erotic Horror. My writings have always been dark and pretty graphic. I've had to edit them significantly to fit an outline or treatment.
Now if you are talking about what do I like to use to write with. I have my note pads, shiny pens and pencils. I have tons of notes on scenes or characters, or general outlines. Only when I have somewhat of a complete item, will I use electronics.

6) What is your ideal writing sanctuary?
In my bedroom, or on BART. Love BART for writing. Much fodder for the mind.

7) How has working in cable influenced your writing?
Writing for television is much different than writing for the silver screen or a publication, or even a webzine for that matter. It requires a different skill set, or, rather, the force of you developing one fast! You have to be able to divorce yourself from your 'baby' it is not yours and they will tell you when they want it changed. They always want it changed.

8) As of right now, what are you most proud of with your writing?
Two peices pop into my mind: an horror erotic short titled "Sam Knew Better", it was published in a San Francisco underground magazine last year; and the "Zombie King" script. Those two I am very proud of.