A tip from Career Candy

I met up with my friend Candy tonight for coffee. As I’ve mentioned she is going to school for multimedia production and she told me about an awesome site: Media-Match.com. It lists TV and film gigs (some permanent, mostly project) all over the country. Unfortunately the only two Ohio listings are in Cleveland, and I’m not qualified to be a production assistant. But, if you were living in a bigger city like NYC, LA or Chicago you’d have a wide array of positions to apply for. From the looks of it I could actually use my Plum St. Productions credits toward getting hired onto a project, which kind of blows my mind.

It’s a paid service, but Candy said it has paid for itself already. She is currently a researcher for a court TV, “Judge Judy”-type show. She goes through Franklin County’s small claims reports and forwards on the more interesting-sounding ones to the producers. She says three of her findings have already been used on the show and she gets paid mileage as well as per hour. Not too shabby.

I don’t see any acting jobs on here, so I’m guessing that’s kept separate. But I really feel like I could be a PA for a project or a director’s assistant. Wouldn’t that make for some awesome writing material?

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Don’t try to force it

Mike, director of photography, blocking a shot for the CRGs

Mike, DP, blocks a shot

I woke up at 5:45 Saturday morning, accidentally woke up my uncle and the family dog on my way out, got into my car in the dark and drove to Cincinnati for an 8 a.m. start time with Plum St. It was Rollergirl day. We set up lights and breakfast when we got there, and before 10, several players for the Cincinnati Rollergirls started showing up. They rolled in laughing together, talking. I asked them to sign a talent release form and let us know what kind of pizza they wanted for lunch. They were very friendly and polite and seemed generally happy to be there.

Staying in position

Staying in position

The commercial, as I said, was for FORCE, an organization that raises cancer awareness. I was assistant director for the first time with Plum St., and at first I didn’t think this would mean having much responsibility beyond serving  as a go-to between the directors and crew, and keeping everyone on schedule. That’s what I remembered previous ADs doing on the set of other projects, but early in the morning I found out I would be the one calling “action” and “cut” all day. At first, while in front of a group of people whose company was paying Plum St. for their work, I felt this was a pretty nerve wracking realization. However, after the first few takes, I found I was more comfortable in the role than I thought I would be. That’s usually how these Plum St. gigs go; I drive to Cincinnati feeling jittery and self conscious, and then after I get my feet wet, I get into my element and by the end of the day I’m so glad I went that I agree to do whatever project they tell me about next. That’s got to be the sign of a great team, and one that makes you feel welcome and useful. The folks at Plum St. always thank me for making the trip and tell me they appreciate my work.

Group shot

Another duty I had Saturday was working with the rollergirls who didn’t have a speaking role and giving them direction for each shot. Fortunately, this direction was usually limited to “Skate faster this time,” and “Let’s do that one more time.” Another important lesson: on set, “One more take,” almost never means one more take. Lucky for me, the team was very patient, so they made my job much easier. It was fun for me just watching and listening to them interact with each other, constantly joking around at varying degrees of vulgarity. Some of the names of the players cracked me up, from Karma Krash to Sister Sacrilegious to Michele D’Bomya. My personal favorite, Miss Print, is a reporter at The Cincinnati Enquirer. When I was skating after my “Whip It” fever, I asked Brandon what my derby name should be. He came up with Penny Pain, which I think is better than I could ever ever come up with.

Me with Sister Sac at the end of the day

Watching them skate around the track made me remember why I loved the idea of roller derby and the female friendships that seem to go along with it. They showed off bruises like champs, swapping stories of epic blows.

The 30-second spot was mostly Brandi (aka Sister Sac) speaking while the rollergirls skated behind her. They all eventually lined up behind her at the end and gave a line in unison. We started filming before 10 and wrapped by 3, so that was pretty short and sweet. I met a few new Plum St. people as well, and liked them a lot. I got along really well with everyone on set for the day and we had a great time together. After the last shot that involved all the rollergirls wrapped I asked Chenney to take my picture with them. Best day ever.

One of these things is not like the others

Ahoy weekend

Tonight there is yet another SNP going away party (good luck, Lisa!) and unlike last week, I don’t have a work conference to be at. I’m carpooling with fellow SNP-er Rachel, who left the company but, unlike most of the others, managed to stay in journalism. Lisa is actually staying in the field as well and will be freelancing for a local chain of suburban papers that will remain nameless. She’ll also be further developing her successful photography business, and through this venture, following her dreams while actually making money at it. Jealous? I am. Does anyone want to pay me to finish my screenplay?

Tomorrow I will be serving as assistant director for a Plum St. Productions commercial. The Cincinnati Rollergirls have a partnership with FORCE, an organization that raises cancer awareness. Some of the girls will appear in a promo for FORCE tomorrow, which means I will get to fulfill my dream of meeting an actual roller derby player. I will try not to act too starstruck.

On Sunday, I am moving my stuff back into my apartment. Brandon’s moved in with some guy friends, which means I’m heading back in. Last night I made my big thank you dinner for my family. It took almost an hour and a half to make (which was about twice as long as I expected) but they were very patient with me. I really need to learn to cook, you guys.

It will be weird living alone, but I try to remember the short time I lived by myself in the city; a couple years ago, there was one month in between moving out of Doug and Chandra’s and Christina moving in where I was on my own. The first few nights, I stayed up late, paranoid and convinced I was about to murdered in my sleep. Granted, there was a serial rapist running loose at the time, but still, I was a little nuts. After I got used to it, I took advantage of the time alone in an apartment with no furniture and painted, read and wrote. It was actually a pretty sweet month. I do miss that apartment sometimes.

But that’s enough reminiscing; the time to live is now. I’m going to get so much done in the next couple months. And I don’t just mean tracking down season three of “Veronica Mars” and watching it with Eileen. I burned through the first season in a week and I’m almost done with the second, sigh.

Trusting my instincts

This weekend I went shopping with my friend Jessi from college and met her friend, had dinner and a movie with Christine, with whom I attended Muskingum for only one semester, yet we’ve kept in touch. I had breakfast with Eileen, who afterward spontaneously decided to drive down to Cincinnati with me for a Plum St. Productions meeting. It was a great weekend filled with girl time and good conversation. It’s something I’ve been lucky enough to experience a lot of lately and I’m  feeling grateful for that. Really grateful, actually.

I had a work conference all day Friday, and I ended up missing an SNP going away party that night. SNP continues to have going away parties for people I worked with there, and I never cease to be amazed that there are still people I knew leaving. I was extremely disappointed I missed the party, and went home feeling dejected and exhausted. I also had to work Saturday, but got a break early in the day, allowing me to see Jessi, who was down from Cleveland for the day, shopping at Easton. My conference was at Easton, so she and I, along with her friend Shellie, walked around together. I got to have a good heart to heart with Jessi, who can relate to my life situation these days. Breaking up is hard to do, kids. She’s a trouper, though. And I enjoyed meeting Shellie, who was very pleasant and easy to talk to.

Later Saturday evening I stayed at Easton where Christine met up with me. She and I had planned on getting dinner at Max & Erma’s but while waiting for a table, we spontaneously decided to go see “Avatar” and have AMC food for dinner instead. She’d already seen it, and was so dismayed that I hadn’t yet that she insisted we see it right then, even if it was no longer available in 3-D. I didn’t realize how long that movie was going to be, but it was pretty good. My cousin described it as “Fern Gully” meets “The Matrix” and I can totally see that. I probably would have been more engaged if we had seen it in the 3-D format for which it was intended, but alas.

She and I went back to her apartment after and began planning our October trip to NYC. She’d mentioned it earlier this month and I have been wanting to go back to the city for a while now. It’s probably not a good idea to visit the city alone, so I jumped on her suggestion when she asked if I’d be interested in the trip. There’s a concert there for one weekend only that she wants to see, and she’s never been there before.

The next morning, Eileen and I went to Spinelli’s Deli, our old breakfast stand by. She’s going to be moving to San Diego in June, and she’s been compiling an ever growing list of things she wants to do before the big move. Breakfast at Spinelli’s one more time can now be crossed off. She was telling me about her big idea for moving all of her belongings across the country. Perhaps on the high of planning the NYC trip with Christine, I asked her if she’d like company. The answer was an enthusiastic yes. So, if I can get vacation time, I’ll be going on a cross-country road trip in a van filled with Eileen’s clothes and furniture.

But that wasn’t all; in the spirit of spontaneity and road trips, Eileen asked me if I’d like some company for the trip I was about to make to Cincinnati. She went into her apartment, grabbed a book and her laptop and on to Cincy we went. She read while I sat in on a Plum St. pre-production meeting for next weekend’s commercial. Afterward, we went to be extras in a short video two Plum St. writers were filming across the river in Bellvue, Kentucky. It sounds like a fun concept; it’s intended to poke fun at Foursquare. I can’t wait to see it when it’s finished. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t on camera at any point but there’s a good chance Eileen was. Also, while we were there, she talked to her old roommate, who I was friends with as well, and it sounds like she’ll be going on our road trip with us as well. It was pretty serendipitous.

I dropped her off and went back to my aunt and uncle’s. That morning, I’d had an odd moment with them; I told my family before going to breakfast that Brandon would be moving in with some friends this week, and so I’d be going back to my apartment soon. My aunt said it has been nice having me there for a while, and I suddenly teared up. It has been nice for me especially, and I’m going to miss living with a family. They are not exactly the same as my family was when I was in high school, of course, but it has been so wonderful having a family to be around. There’s always someone home, and they ask how my day went and what’s going on with me, what I’m doing later. I know about their lives, what’s happening with them. We eat dinner together. We help each other out. Well, they help me out. I decided to make dinner for them one night this week as a thank you gesture. When I got home last night from my trip, my aunt told me I am more than welcome to come back on Thursday nights for our tradition of watching “The Office” all together. I can’t wait.

I feel really loved right now; I can’t really explain it, but this weekend was uplifting. Last weekend was great too, of course, with all those people celebrating my birthday with me. But this weekend was full of meaningful conversation and honesty, and general goodwill. Oh, and shopping. I just feel like I’m starting to think maybe I am going to be okay after all. Things are happening in my life in 2010, and I am going to welcome change. I am not usually a friend to change, and I find myself spending far too much time reminiscing about the “old days,” when things were so much better. Until suddenly there’s different “old days” to miss and I was too busy living in the past to appreciate them. I’m not taking the time to be glad for the good times going on right now, happening this second. I am staring dead straight into the rear view mirror, and since graduating from college, I have not taken two seconds to try to look at the future. I’m just stagnant, moving slowly forward while scrambling frantically to go back.

Today, I am looking forward to the future. I am appreciating the present. I’ve got big plans, people. This is kind of a cheese ball entry, but it’s what’s on my mind right now, so there. I have been sitting on my butt since I moved out of my apartment, but that resting time is over. It’s time to plan for the future, and for once, that idea is exciting instead of scary, even though it felt terrifying merely weeks ago.

We’re gonna be okay, and every part of me trusts that feeling. I have to listen to it, even if doesn’t make sense. Maybe that’s what they say having faith is like.

New Plum St. Commercial

Remember how after seeing the movie “Whip It!” I became momentarily obsessed with roller derby? With that in mind, you can imagine how excited I was to hear that Plum St. had been commissioned to make promos for the Cincinnati Rollergirls. Here is their first commercial of the season. I think it’s extremely well done, possibly my favorite piece of theirs. And I didn’t even work on this one, so I’m not (that) biased.

I’ll be teaming up again with Plum St. next month as assistant director on a commercial. Pretty exciting stuff.

Also, what do you think of the new layout? It’s now been a year since I moved this blog over to WordPress so I thought I’d give it a new look.

Congrats to Brandon

My lack of exercise last week caught up to me. I gained a couple pounds back as of this morning. At least I continued Couch to 5K and the elliptical Tuesday and Wednesday this week, and tonight. I have to work harder. If only I could convince myself to go the gym every Saturday before improv. That hasn’t happened yet.

After the gym tonight, I am taking Brandon out to dinner to celebrate. His lab is being published in Investigating Ophthalmology and Visual Science, a trade journal in his field. This is very cool, because they have worked really hard to get published since Brandon started and it’s finally happening. It sounds like the more you have findings published, the more credible you become and the more credible you are, the more likely you are to receive grant money. And Brandon’s job is funded by grants, along with all they do at the lab. Like study eye cancer and stuff. Congrats to Brandon, who will be getting third billing on the piece.

On Sunday night, Plum St. Productions is meeting together to talk about some important upcoming projects. It sounds like something exciting is cooking and I’ll be reporting on that here once it’s out there. I’m not sure I’ll be able to go to Cincinnati for the meeting, but I am hoping it works out. It’s been too long since I’ve seen the folks of Plum St.

We’re official

Check it out: Plum St. Productions has a fancy new web site. It’s pretty awesome. Check out my bio and the bios of many awesome people involved with the company. It’s all coming together so fast. I did read on here that sadly, “Gnomewhere To Hide” will not be completed until this summer. Don’t worry, it will be worth the wait. You can see a teaser trailer for the movie on the site under the portfolio section.

On the weight front, I am not losing but I am not gaining. Plateau 2010 continues.

Year in Review: 2009

This was the second year of The Sleeper Hit’s existence, and this blog documented a lot of changes in my world in 2009. Granted, 2008 was my first year in a new city, living on my own, buying a car, etc. But 2009 brought lots of new things as well. After all, 2009 was the year I decided to make movies and actually did. As I did last year, here is a recap of the inane and the important, a.k.a., the things I deemed worthy of blogging about.

January: Brandon started his job at OSU. Coincidentally, we stopped cooking dinner in the apartment around the same time. The pipes in our old place froze. Obama was sworn into office. I started the screenplay for “Beacon Alley” (untitled at the time) and read lots of books about how to write screenplays. I cut nearly a foot of hair off, and so did Brandon. The Sleeper Hit turned one year old.

February: I left my car unlocked and someone rifled through it and stole my faceplate but not my stereo. I discovered Club Trillion and did not do much work for a of couple days. Owen and Jamie found out they would be having a girl, which I totally called. I discovered my undying love for curry and finished writing “Beacon Alley”.

March: I began seeking donations from local businesses for the movie but got poor response. Casting for “Beacon Alley” took place this month, starting with heroine Becca and ending with villain Melissa. Brandon and I went apartment hunting and found our new place near campus. I switched from Live Journal to WordPress. I joined and promptly quit Twitter. A generous friend donated some gift cards to use to buy food for cast and crew on shooting days. I bought a high-def camera. Filming for “Beacon Alley” began.

April: Brandon bought me a new faceplate for my car stereo. Surly Girl allowed me to film at their place. Filming took place every weekend this month and I woke up shaking with fear every day of it. During the actual filming I felt awesome, and even better after we wrapped for the day. I named my production company Wilmer Productions, an homage to Owen’s former Willow Films. We made t-shirts. I juggled moving out of our old apartment with the final days of filming. It was slightly stressful.

May: I chose the name “Beacon Alley” after taking a photo of a street sign by our old place. Editing began. I co-hosted a baby shower for my sister-in-law with my aunt. I ran into many technical issues and discovered the importance of lighting. I got the idea for my web series, “Paper Cuts”. I threw a cast party to debut the trailer of “Beacon Alley” and scheduled the premiere with Studio 35. I watched the “Glee” pilot and flipped for that show before the rest of you bitches. Count it. I re-joined Twitter and saw the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

June: Saw the Decemberists with Brandon after he won tickets from CD101. I began casting for “Paper Cuts” and met my muse, Taylor. Editing of “Beacon Alley” continued, and I wrote the first four episodes of the show. Met Monsterbeard who advised on my scripts. Watched a lot of web series. My beautiful niece was born. Participated in Cincinnati’s 48 Film Project and met the awesome folks of Plum St. Productions: love at first shoot. Michael Jackson died.

July: Production of “Paper Cuts” began as editing of “Beacon Alley” wrapped. Showed episodes one and two before the movie at the premiere, which was well attended to my relief. My blog stats hit an all time high the week of the premiere as people googled “Beacon Alley” after presumably seeing it on the marquee at the theater. Brandon and I planned a fall trip to Colorado.

August: Filming of “Paper Cuts” continued and involved casting new extras for each episode, one of which included child actors. It was weird. Brandon dressed in a borrowed tiger suit. I had a last-minute cameo in episode six after a friend had to cancel her role as a bridezilla. Filming wrapped at the end of the month. I lamented majoring in journalism rather than engineering or nursing or some other field that is still hiring.

September: Realized I had somehow gained ten pounds over the summer. Brandon’s gallbladder attacked him in his sleep. Went to Ft. Collins, CO and San Francisco, CA to visit friends on my first-ever vacation as an adult. I tried to write a one-hour TV show pilot while in California. Got one of the worst sunburns of my life.

October: Plum St. Productions exploded into prominence. I helped them with their short film, “Gnomewhere to Hide” and loaned them my camera. Got an iPhone and began using it to help me lose weight. Brandon got his gallbladder removed and his parents paid us a visit for Halloween. Became obsessed with roller derby after seeing “Whip It!” and visited a retro rink by the interstate.

November: Spent time with my dad on a sad anniversary. Spent Thanksgiving in Chicago with Brandon’s family again, saw Second City. Became very interested in both improv acting and stand up comedy (influenced partly by seeing “Funny People”). Started announcing my weight loss progress (or regress) on my blog. Actually lost some weight.

December: Visited my mom’s parents in Cleveland with my brother and his family. Lost the ten pounds I’d gained over the summer. Brandon got new glasses. Wrote 2009 Year in Review. Oh, wait…

Exciting new project coming to Plum St.

Last week I proclaimed I would write ten pages of one of my screenplay ideas before this Friday. I ended up going home and doing it that night. I even started with my opening scene. So far, of my college script idea, I have a freshman girl being dropped off in front of a dorm, meeting her new roommate, taking a first-year tour, and meeting with her adviser. It sounds terribly boring now that I’ve put it like that, but hopefully the script itself is much more entertaining. I will be out of town for work tomorrow night but maybe I can get a few more pages done Thursday evening.

On Friday, I’ll be heading down to Cincinnati for one night only to help shoot Plum St.’s second commercial for KT’s Barbecue and Deli. This time, they’re getting paid. If you do good work for cheap (or even free) and show you’re committed to doing the best you can, you can prove yourself to a client who might be inclined to keep you on board long term and reward you for your efforts. Plum St. is demonstrating this excellently. Additionally, the guys ordered their brand new camera online last night, so on Friday I get to bring my baby back home!

Plum St. has more than commercial work lined up; two of their writers created a web series, and it’s pretty awesome. Much like “Paper Cuts,” this web series has a background in journalism. And lucky for it, Plum St. is actually hiring. The production company gave “Superhero Issues” the green light last week and we were all sent drafts of the first five episodes to write notes for. I’ve been wanting to read the scripts ever since I heard about the project and now that I have, I am pleased to say it will make for an extremely fun project. There’s a lot of wordplay in the writing and I hope the guys can find actors with the talent (and especially the comedic timing) to pull their well-written jokes off. Also, Brian asked me if I would be interested in guest directing one of the eight episodes, so if that pans out I’ll be even more enthused. More details to come.

An unexpected project

This Sunday I will be making a short video for a class project as a favor. My high school friend Brad’s wife needs it for a psychology class. I’ve cast two parents and need two teenagers for the video which will be about “parental discord.” Since I am not a psych major I can’t elaborate on this. But what I gather from the script, it has something to do with parents who have traumatizing shouting matches in front of their kids. Since my own camera is still in the hands of those on Plum St., my wonderful aunt is letting me borrow hers for the day. We’ll be shooting from 2-4, in time to go to Studio 35 for their showing of “Blazing Saddles” on the big screen.

Tomorrow, on Black Wednesday, I will be going home to visit my dad, who is hosting a meeting of some local authors near our hometown. There is a surprising number of them in southeastern Ohio, and they like to meet up once in a while to discuss their current and/or future projects. So, instead of reading more back entries of Postcards From Yo Momma and laughing through the tears, I will be hopefully getting some inspiration to work on a screenplay. It’s about time I set myself a deadline. It’s easy to say, hey, I’m going to write a screenplay this fall and winter, but what do you do when it’s almost March and you’ve been hibernating all season?