The video below talks about the disappointment of not achieving goals and I play the bio video I made for Project Greenlight, which apparently sealed my fate.
It has been a week of ups and downs, you guys. Serious ups and downs. After the disappointment on Friday of not advancing in Project Greenlight, I was deep in planning mode trying to get ready for the upcoming shoots on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights. I was having a hard time getting my hands on fake guns that look legit, but I had my shot-listing done for the 16 pages we were going to shoot and was starting to call the actors for brief one-on-ones about their characters.
Then I got the call. Like I said in the above update video I got a call about a catastrophic location debacle. Not a we-need-to-schedule-this-for-another-time call, a it-would-be-great-if-we-never-dealt-with-this-location-owner-ever-again call. I spent the day trying to figure out how to keep the scenes essentially the same in a new location, but was having a really rough time. Luckily, my wife is a super story editor as well as a producer and she helped me come up with some interesting alternative ideas. So I started rewriting. And I will continue to keep rewriting tonight. One of the main storylines of the episode needs to be re-worked about 30 to 40 percent and a lot of location justification needs to be threaded in. But I’ll figure it out. It was just a tough pill to swallow on top of everything else.
Luckily, it’s also been an amazing week. My friends Craig and Chyna got enganged! And he proposed to her in his 1,000th YouTube video where he revealed he’d been working on the proposal for weeks. Then the video went viral. His first real viral video. As I type this it’s got 1.3 million views and it keeps collecting more as sites like huffingtonpost do more “YouTuber Proposes in 1,000th Video” posts. So amazing. Here’s the proposal:
This week the Cold
War officially and symbolically ended on Sept 8th 1994. But many of you
probably missed it, if you saw it at all. It was in an unlikely place, The MTV
Video Music Awards of 1994.
EAST VS. WEST:
WHAT ARE WE FIGHTING FOR?
When one nation
battles another (specifically the USA), we are told that we are fighting for
the Hearts and Minds of the enemy. US President Lyndon Johnson used this turn
of phrase numerous times in many speeches. And it was actually the official
name of the strategy and public relations campaigns for both the war in Vietnam
and the second Iraq war.
Adams in 1818 gave it a much better context: "The Revolution was
effected before the War commenced. The Revolution was in the Minds and Hearts
of the people… This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and
affections of the people, was the real American Revolution".
So how does one go
about doing this? Whatʼs the military strategy? How big is the budget where one
can even achieve this? Who or what could actually win over the Hearts and Minds
of the enemy?
What was NOT
officially sanctioned by any US President or British Prime Minister, was the
good work done in the name of freedom by the unofficial Cultural Embassadors;
Yes the Cool Rockinʼ Daddies and Hep-Cat Kitties of the Rock ʻnʼ Roll
Revolution kick started in Memphis back in 1954. And you have the British and
American Rock n Rollers to thank for that. The Right Honorable Rock n Rollers,
Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, and The Beatles, &
BACK IN THE U.S.S.R.
Eastern Europe/Soviet communist experience with Rock ʻnʼ Roll and The Beatles
in particular is unlike anything that anyone in the West could imagine. There
is no lightning bolt moment of a Sunday night Ed Sullivan TV appearance to
excite and unite. You couldnʼt see Elvis at the movie theaters in the Eastern
Block. It was even rare to see any pictures. So itʼs not about hairstyles,
matching suits, or psychedelic jackets. It is literally just about the
music was passed around on the black market often on old used X-Rays that could
be used as flexi-discs. No picture sleeve, no liner notes, no credits and in
many cases, no song title or artist even. “Got any bones?” The sound quality
was awful but what came out was exhilarating, Little Richardʼs voice still cut
and imagine the reverse, you live in the West and you hear, say some banned
Iranian Folk tunes and it thrills you, or some Russia Balaklava music from 1959
and you would be willing to risk arrest and spend half a months wages just to
hear it again (any of it) by any artist. And when you got your hands on some
bootleg recordings, you didnʼt turn it up, no, you would have to listen quietly
with your ear right next to the speaker rather than risk your neighbor
overhearing and reporting you to the authorities. Such was the lengths of a
music fan in the Eastern Block.
Soviet State got hip to this and started making fake “rib” bootlegs. You would
get home with your contraband, flatten out your new purchase between some
books, wait a while, put on the record, and there would be a few seconds of
Rock ʻnʼ Roll music, then a voice (in Russian) came on… “So you thought youʼd
hear the latest sounds? You would you like to hear some American music?” laced
with some humiliating insults, then silence.
Think they got any sleep that night?
ME WHATʼD I SAY
Did I mention that, these music fans also donʼt understand the language? You
could hear the rhythm of vowel sounds of a rhyming couplet, but what was the
message, the meaning. You were told over and over again that this was the
propaganda of the Western Imperialists. Eventually, some of the songs would be
translated, as you wanted to know what the singer was singing about; They could
hear that Russian composer Tchaikovsky was mentioned in Chuck Berryʼs “Roll
Over Beethoven”. But why? Was it an anti U.S.S.R. song?
“You know, my temperature's risin'
and the jukebox blows a fuse.
My heart's beatin' rhythm
and my soul keeps on singin' the blues
Roll Over Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the
The other banned songs were hipster tales of love and loss, “Heartbreak Hotel”,
“Rock Around The Clock”, “True Love Ways”, “And I Love Her”, “We Can Work It
Out”, “Satisfaction”, “All You Need Is Love”…
This was the propaganda message from the West the Sovietʼs were not supposed to
hear?!? Learning the language of the West through the fun poetry of Rock ʻnʼ
Roll humanized the West in a way no military could.
THE WALL GOES UP
The Berlin Wall was first constructed in Aug of 1961 and came down in
The Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin by the Wall, was the site where visiting US
Presidents Kennedy and Reagan gave their memorable historical speeches; Kennedy
spoke at the Berlin Wall just two years after it was erected, and gave his now
famous speech… “All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of
Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words "Ich bin
ein Berliner! (I Am a Berliner!)”
June 12 1987, President Ronald Reagan with West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl
on the dais to his right said, “We welcome change and openness; for we
believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human
liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the
Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically
the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace,
if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek
liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr.
Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall.”
For any great speech to have any historical resonance, it not only depends on
the charisma of the speaker, the wise words of wisdom spoken, but it lives or
dies on who is listening. If it falls on deaf ears it hasnʼt moved the
discussion an inch. It really depends on how the speech effects the actions of
the listener afterwards. Who is listening? Reagan no doubt deserves some
credit, for his inspiration and for this speech in helping eventually bring
down the wall. But, the speech was actually not widely reported at the time.
And can you imagine in another time Brezhnev hearing any of this?!? More
important was Reaganʼs personal relationship with Gorbachev. That they
genuinely liked each other and that Gorbachev was listening. It all combined to
have an enormous effect. Some in the US give Reagan way too much credit, and
Gorbachev not nearly enough. For it was also Gorbachevʼs reforms in Russia with
Perestroika and the revolts in Eastern Europe that had an even bigger hand in
the changes to come and the Wallʼs eventual collapse.
prior to Reaganʼs speech in June of 1987 in the same place where both Kennedy
and Reagan had given their speeches. West Berlin hosted a three-day
"Concert for Berlin" on the cityʼs 750th anniversary, which was an
open-air festival staged in front of the Reichstag. The three headliners
of the festival were David Bowie, The Eurythmics, and Genesis.
The producers of the event set up several speakers facing backwards out to the
East to blast the forbidden Rock ʻnʼ Roll out over the wall. Halfway through
the first nights show Bowie performs “Heroes”, a song recorded in West Berlin
ten years earlier about two lovers kissing under the shadow of the Berlin Wall.
The song reverberating and echoing out over the buildings into the East never
meant as much as it did that night...
“I, I can remember,
Standing, by the wall
And the guns shot above our heads
And we kissed, as though nothing could fall
And the shame was on the other side
Oh we can beat them, for ever and ever
Then we could be Heroes,
just for one day”
A crowd of 2,000 East Berliners started to head to the wall and found the
streets cordoned off. There was fighting in the streets and 200 people were arrested.
There were clashes on the streets all three nights, with the East Berliners
chanting, "The wall must fall!" and "Gorby get us out!"
next year in June 1988 the headliners were Pink Floyd, and Michael Jackson.
Again a crowd gathered on the Eastern side of the wall to hear the music. Can
you only imagine hearing the opening bassline to Billie Jean and the roar of
the crowd reverberating and echoing down the East Berlin streets? And the mix
of excitement and frustration of having never, ever been to a Rock Concert. The
tensions escalated on the night of the Michael Jackson show into violent
clashes with many East Berlin music fans beaten and arrested.
This was getting out of hand and embarrassing, even to the leaders of the
German Democratic Republic. In the wake of the concerts, and aftermath, the GDR
realized it had made a mistake. In an attempt to improve their image with the
youth and people of East Germany, the GDR, led by Erich Honecker, invited Bruce
Springsteen and the E- Street Band (who were on tour in Europe at the time) to
play a month later in July.
Erich Honecker, the General Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party since 1971,
had been the prime organizer of the building of the wall back in 1961. And was
a communist hard liner who tried to slow the progress and changes made by
Gorbachev. The mere thought of a man like this reaching out to an American Rock
musician to help him with the "image" of the GDR would have
been better suited to a Roger Corman B-Movie or a 1970s underground comic. But
it was really happening, and happening fast.
THE CHIMES OF FREEDOM FLASHING
Reagan had spoken to 45,000, Springsteenʼs afternoon gig was attended by
300,000 and broadcast on television (with a two minute delay) to millions.
About an hour into his set Springsteen, under a keyboard bed intro with a piece
of paper in hand, spoke to the crowd in German, saying: "I'm not here for
or against any government. I've come to play rock 'n' roll for you in the hope
that one day all the barriers will be torn down." Then the band went
straight into Dylanʼs poetic, “Chimes Of Freedom”.
a truly inspired moment. Bruce chose his words carefully. And yes, it was
censored on the East Berlin television broadcast, but was heard loud and clear
by everyone there at the show, and the short speech was broadcast on all the
major West Berlin News Reports that night.
While a short speech might be censored, the songs werenʼt. Along with
Springsteenʼs originals, there were the covers, John Lee Hookerʼs “Boom Boom”, Edwin
Starʼs “WAR”, Elvis Presleyʼs “Canʼt Help Falling In Love”, and finishing off
the night with Arthur Conley/Otis Reddingʼs “Sweet Soul Music”, Sam Cookeʼs
“Having a Party”, and The Isley Brothers/The Beatlesʼ “Twist and Shout”. The
romantic themes in Springsteenʼs music cut right through to the heart and soul,
the idea (and ideal) of a reunited Germany. The effect far and wide of these
words and melodies being broadcast across the country uncensored cannot be
overestimated. Thatʼs what inspired the locals. For most, not to run off and
escape to America, but a yearning for the freedom that America represents and
to make their home a better place.
While the GDR thought the concert would
appease the people, the concert only fired them up. The East Germans wanted
more Rock ‘n’ Roll and the freedom that it symbolizes. A few months after that
concert, Erich Honecker, the leader of East Germany, resigned. The protests
only increased and a wave of refugees leaving East Germany for the West had
increased and had found their way through Hungary via Czechoslovakia. Thousands
were showing up at the border overwhelming the guards.
They didn't storm the gates, this was
the "Peaceful Revolution". On Nov 8th, to try and deal with the sheer
number of refugees willing to leave, the politburo decided to allow border
crossings between East and West Germany. The new regulations were to take
effect the next day. And on Nov 9th the Berlin Wall came down.
No bloodshed, no tanks, no bombs.
got under their skin?
a political agenda?
barrel of a gun?
The military has its role to defend, to serve and protect (we hope) the people
and its borders. But it can only do so much. Rock ʻnʼ Roll doesnʼt threaten
anyone with eternal damnation, or intimidation of physical violence. Everyone
is welcome, come on along, have you heard the news? Thereʼs Good Rockinʼ
tonight! And the kids wanna rock.
In the rocumentary, “How The Beatles Rocked The Kremlin”. A Russian music fan
says about The Beatles music... "You hear it, and you want to be a part of
Rock 'n' Roll had shown the way and the Russians and Eastern Europeans felt an
unshakable loss of belief in their own system. It was undeniable.
The spirit of revolution?
spirit of revolution was a Western promise of freedom and expression. A Culture
of Revolution. A sacred revolution of the heart.
The seeds were sown by Elvis and Little Richard in the fifties, and it took
root and blossomed with The Beatles in the sixties and beyond. There was thirty
years of Rock ʻnʼ Roll lighting a fire and sliding through the cracks. With all
the changes happening to Germany and the Soviet Union, Springsteen was up at
bat with the bases loaded, with Bowie on third, Pink Floyd on second, and Michael
Jackson on first. They had set the stage from the West. But Bruce was there on
the other side of the Wall, at the right time and the right place to knock it
right out of the park.
Winning over their Hearts and Minds and their Hips and their Feet as well.
ʻnʼ Roll Music inspired, excited and subverted, hitting deep, physically,
mentally, and spiritually, where no bullets can ever go.
In 1989 the borders had come down, the Wall came down. And the time was
right for dancing in the street.
brings us back to that infamous moment, five years later and twenty years ago
this week. Strip away the spectacle of what looks on the surface to be just
another American Pop ʻnʼ Roll Award Show with some cringe worthy hairstyles,
and you will find in actuality, a no more symbolic moment of the Cold Warʼs end
than the MTV Video Music Awards of 1994. Thatʼs right.
The MTV VMAʼs traditionally like to open with a big surprise like the memorable
opening in 1991 with Pee Wee Herman at the height of his controversy asking,
“Heard Any Good Jokes Lately?”
then they like to end the show with a big (they hope) show-stopping moment; a
climatic confetti spewing huge shebang with alternately, a large balloon drop,
dancing dwarfs, and/or Axl Rose running around out of breath, etc. etc.
The MTV VMAʼs of ʻ94 were hosted by Rosanne Barr at Radio City Music Hall in
New York City. It was broadcast around the world and was seen by 250 million
people in over 100 countries world-wide.
The broadcast opened with the surprise of Michael Jackson hand-in-hand with his
new “bride” Lisa Marie Presley welcoming everyone to the show. Resembling a
sort of over-blown Pop Royal Wedding reception, he kissed his new bride and
they walked off. And then the show got underway.
The show ended with the Leningrad Cowboys with the Alexandrov Red Army
Ensemble. The Leningrad Cowboys are actually Finnish and were put together
(much like The Monkees) for the popular Indie film, “The Leningrad Cowboys Go
America”. This time they were out promoting a sequel, “The Leningrad Cowboys
meet Moses”. They form quite a striking profile with their painted red stripe
suits, foot tall pompadours and extra foot long pointy shoes.
But, in all the goofy pompadour and circumstance of the MTV broadcast, it was
maybe too hard to see what was really happening... yes the Leningrad Cowboys
are from Finland, but behind them actually was the Russian Red Army Choir (not
a stage name) made up of Soviet soldiers or to give them their proper title,
the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation under the leadership of President
Boris Yeltsin. It might have looked like a staged novelty goof off to anyone
watching in the West, but there they were, the Russian Red Army Choir and
Ensemble singing an American song, a Southern American Rock song at that,
Lynyrd Skynyrd's, “Sweet Home Alabama”.
it another way… there is no more symbolic a moment, that the war has finally
ended, than bringing the enemy Army into their enemyʼs Capital City, putting
them up on a stage and broadcasting live, for all the whole world to see, for
here was the enemy singing their enemyʼs song.
They were not coerced, they were not forced at the point of a gun, they were
not tortured into submission, and this wasnʼt a condition of their release.
The war was over and you know what, the Russians were only too glad to be
there, singing at the top of their lungs, and you know why?
Because they LOVE ROCK ʻnʼ ROLL!!!
after all is said and done,
It's only Rock 'n' Roll.
week’s video update features a trio of hilarious scenes I received from
one of my actor’s cell phones vamping in character on his first day at
woke up at 4:30 a.m. this morning to get to the airport and head to LA.
Now, I’m laying on the floor of my friend Rob’s apartment in Los Feliz
trying to stay awake until this event at the YouTube Space LA. I tried
to pinpoint the draw of Los Angeles as I walked out to wait for the
rental car shuttle at LAX—aside from the dream factory’ness of it all.
I’m pretty sure it’s the palm trees. And the awesome looking hills that
appear at the end of very long streets penned in by generations of
rundown shops and restaurants. I think I’ve got it now though. I’m
pretty sure it’s the palm trees. I just really like the palm trees. A
whole lot of this place just seems to vibrate with an atmosphere of
collective ambition, which can be a little disconcerting. But I really
like those palm trees. Unfortunately, the New Beverly is closed for the
entire month of September, so I can cross that off my to-do list.
Tonight is the Streamy nominees reception at the YouTube
Space and they’re announcing the winners of 33 of the categories,
including Best Indie Series. So, we’ll know pretty soon. I’m also hoping
to run into a few fellow nominees and just discuss the nature of making
a show simply because you believe in it.
My buddy Rob, in
addition to playing a character in PoPS, talks to a lot of folks, builds
networks, and right now he’s working on building a blog as well. He
just asked me how I make all this content. I told him I just do. I’ve
been asked the same question by other web show creators who’ve built
more recognizable and lauded brands for their shows. They have more
press and buzz, but a lot less content. I tell them the same thing. I
don’t know how to market or get press quotes or do any of that stuff. I
just know how to make stuff, so I just keep making it.
We also had
our first live streamed Q&A on our YouTube channel. All of the main
four cast were there as well as our friend Chyna. We talked to the
audience and reminisced and answered questions for over 2 hours. It was
all recorded via YouTube and a full video of it is on our channel. I’d
say a good five minutes at the front are us trying to figure out how to
work the live stream, but most of the events I’ve seen seem to always
start that way.
Last, but certainly not least, we launched our
Indiegogo campaign for episode 9 of PoPS last night during the live
stream. As of right now, about 19 hours later we’re almost up to $1500.
Our audience is just so supportive and cool. 30 days left in the
campaign. Plenty of road to go.
CLICK THIS LINK TO CHECK OUT THE CAMPAIGN.
for reading, you guys. I actually got everything from last week’s blog
post done, except Ryan cancelled the shoot day he needed me for. That
helped a lot. I’m so tired.
The video update below features the last known footage of me before my short was selected as one of the top 200 inProject Greenlight. I basically talk about how busy we are. More chatter about how busy we are after the jump.
I have so much to do right now I cannot stop thinking in lists and time slots. Before we go any further, watch this video of one Project Greenlight submitter reading the email saying he was selected for the top 200. He ingeniously started recording from his laptop camera every time he got an email that day so the moment would be captured, no matter the outcome. This...is...perfect:
I commented on that video asking if he had a hard time sleeping the night before the announcement emails were sent out and he responded saying he's a big fan of PoPS. So, good times.
For real though, the night before the emails were sent out I kept having these dreams that looked like Coke commercials, all golden-hued California dusk light falling on people getting their top 200 notification and jumping and hugging in the street in tracking slow-mo shots. Then me lying in our shadowy, pre-dawn bedroom, not getting one. Like, all night.
So, now that we are in the top 200, here's everything that's going on right now:
-I've dropped into hyper-work mode at my money-making job to try and get all of my work done before going to L.A. in 7 days. I have to write three more feature stories and two restaurant reviews for the magazines. Two of the evenings before I go are also taken up with going to the restaurants that need reviewing.
-I have to shoot, edit, and upload three videos this weekend. The usual update, my Project Greenlight bio video, and a fundraiser video for the episode 9 Indiegogo campaign. Luckily, with Labor Day, this is a 3-day weekend.
-For the bio video, I need to go to the hardware store tonight to get the materials for a specialty prop, and I have to build that.
-I have a call back audition for a significant role in another awesome web series on Saturday in the middle of the day, but I'm combining that with grabbing some clips for the bio video. So it's a two-for-one trip to the city, before we go to the western suburbs for one of the restaurant review dinners.
-I need to finish writing AT LEAST the villain arc of episode 9 because I just scheduled the first three days of filming for the night after I get back from L.A. Another of our actors is moving away and his character needs a satisfying exit. His last night of shooting is currently scheduled for the day before his projected departure.
-One of the actors from PoPS asked for a cut of his scenes for his new website, so I need to put that together. That won't take too long though.
-On Tuesday night we're planning a live show with Craig for the PoPS fans to thank them for voting for us in the Streamy Awards. That might also be a nice time to launch the fundraising campaign.
-Wednesday, on my lunch break, I need to go pick up my new suit and make sure it fits right, then after work I'm due to go film with a friend for the web series that he's doing. Not the one I mentioned earlier.
-On Thursday at 7 A.M. I fly to L.A. to hear the winner of Best Indie Series announced later that night.
-And, this is kind of silly considering all the things I've just outlined, but for three months I've been planning to go to a drive-in movie theater on Friday night for an amazing horror movie triple feature. The Return of the Living Dead, the new 4K restoration of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Creepshow. All for 10 bucks. How the frigging frig could I let myself miss that line-up? AT THE DRIVE-IN! Nope. Can't. I'm totally going.
That's what's happening right now, you guys. If I can land all of these things in the next 6 days, then I'll feel like I can do anything.
Oh, and since I haven't posted it here, here's our 3-minute Project Greenlight Entry.
Thanks for reading.