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10 Things I learned from my HFF17 Experience (The Hollywood Fringe Festival)

21 Jun

The Unknown Artists and Ruckus Rockwell produced the show “13th Grade” at the Hollywood Fringe Festival this year.
2 shows Left: 6/23 @ 7:30pm & 6/24 @ 7pm
OMR theatre at The Complex on Santa Monica Blvd.

Poster design by: Katrina Rennells who also plays “MARGOT” in the show

I wrote a lot, I laughed a lot and I learned a lot. Here are 10 Things I Learned:

  • Make Sure You Have the Money you Need to Produce the Show you Want. We made only half of our Indiegogo hopeful campaign goal. This made producing the show extremely difficult. Waiting on the funds and the ticket sales to even things out was stressful. When you’ve got a great script and music and amazing actors, the last thing you want to do is stress about money being the reason why you can’t put up the show you want. A lot of the “Things I didn’t like” reviews had to do with space/sound issues. Had we had the money we needed up front,  we could have delivered a better product. And I never want money to be the reason why we don’t do an awesome musical comedy.
  • Make Sure Your show is Actually 10 Minutes Less than the Time you Quote. Our show ran 58 minutes most nights for an 1hr long allotted time. It was a nail biter. Definitely writing an hour and 15 minute musical next year and saying it’s 90 minutes.
  • Find Reviewers Ahead of Time. We had about 2-3 people come and review our piece. Would be nice to arrange having more of them there that first weekend so we can use those reviews as buzz for the remaining shows. We are so thankful to our Fringe audience reviewers!

  • See More Shows. 375 shows this year and I got infected with, what we lovingly referred to as “The 13th Plague”. This hindered my schedule quite a bit and there were so many more shows I wanted to see. It was a big bummer. I want to hit previews hard and start making recommendations ASAP so people can plan ahead. I’d also love to start something where shows send me a clip of their rehearsal and I can make a MUST SEE blog early for people to plan ahead.
  • Advertising. This is where the majority of your budget should go. There are SO many shows. It’s hard to get a voice. Especially if you’re a newbie. Being that this was my first fringe, I noticed that there were a ton of shows with built in audiences and buzz from previous years. So they were sold out before they even opened! haha. Swag will be a good idea for next year too. Everyone’s got a postcard. You must be clever.
  • Events. We did the Cabaret, Opening Night party, a couple nights at Fringe Central and will be doing Prom this year. I think it’s important to do as many Fringe events as possible to meet new people and make friends. You want these people at your shows and they’re most likely going to come to their friend’s show than a strangers. BE MY FRIEND.
  • Social Media. It’s a lot of work but it’s so necessary. Posting about your show, your audience reviews, things to get people to stop and look at your page are important. If you can get GOOD quality photos or little video teases of your rehearsals… it’s key. It’s a way to stand out. If the audience can’t come see your show yet, at least they can see its potential.
  • Cross Promoting. We DEFINITELY could have been better about that this year but we weren’t terrible. Find a show with a great reputation, with a theme you believe in and a piece that you know is gonna be good. Team up with their team and cross promote.  Social media posts, program ads, flyers and swag to pass out with your postcards.
  • Have a Good Time. This is why I strongly encourage comedies at something like Fringe. If your piece is a crowd pleaser then you know that they’re having a good time. They’re laughing. They’re applauding. If you’re on stage having a blast, they’ll sense that and join you. We had INCREDIBLE audiences and we couldn’t thank them enough for the energy and positive attitude they brought to 13th Grade.

  • Effort. All of the above takes effort. You have to have a team that is willing to go above and beyond for your show when it comes to Fringe. Decide carefully whom you surround yourself with when participating in fringe. It’s not just a run-of-the-mill show. It’s an experience and it should be.


Shows I recommend: Shakeslesque, Herpes a Love Story, Buffy Killed Edward, Ladies in Waiting, Nick and Brooke’s Comedy Special, So you Want to be a Vampire, Spidey Project. There would be so many more had I not got infected with the plague.


My Bad…

26 Oct

We all judge. We judge books by their cover, people by the rumors we hear and we judge the happiness of others. We actually judge other people’s happiness. Is it jealousy? Is it insecurity? A combination of both? Or are we generally built with a lack of faith. Faith in the truth. Faith in the good of others, in the genuine. When things aren’t going our way, how do we view the successes of others? It’s important to remember that we are human and we have flaws. Any starving actor can’t stand in front of me and say, with 100% honesty: “I am so happy that you booked that Oliver Stone movie.” A couple struggling to conceive a child of their own can’t look at their pregnant friend and feel pure, unadulterated joy. And a single woman, with a string of highly disappointing romantic encounters over the last decade, can’t look at couple displaying PDA with out a slight glare.

“It’s very weird now not feeling that stupid panic feeling inside me all the time.
Without that, I just start thinking about myself, and what good does that ever get anybody?
Today, on the bus, there was this adorable couple, and I felt myself giving them a dirty look.
I just had no idea everything was .
.. moving in the wrong direction.

This quote is from the movie AS GOOD AS IT GETS. It’s not just the quote that secured the Oscar win for Helen Hunt, but it speaks so true to those of us out there who want to be the kind of person who looks at happiness and is filled with reflective happiness.  Not someone who takes all of what I call “personal unlucky history” and uses it to battle feelings of untainted love and support for others.

Today I am happy. Yesterday I was not happy. Today I’ve learned that tomorrow I may be unhappy again and I shouldn’t take that out on anyone.  We design a… design in our minds about how things should go to ensure the utmost success. For us? For others? Who’s to say what the right speed is for everyone? The right choice? The right plan? I’ve watched relationships crumble all around me and I’ve watched the exceptions. So why do I hold on to those negatives and use it to define my caution?


“We’re taught that in life, we should try to look on the bright side, to be optimistic.
Not in this case. In this case, look on the dark side. Assume rejection first. Assume you’re the rule, not the exception.”

This quote is from the movie HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU. This movie may or may not have ruined my life for the last 7 years. This is NOT a great movie, however there are a small handful of quotes and scenarios that I chose to live my life by after I saw this film in 2009. Love is chaotic. It’s all fucking over the place. When you’re in and out of love and trust, you feel unhinged and this film provided me with guidelines at a time when I was starving for answers. I grabbed the “Message” of this film (Which is still un clear to this day) and I decided to apply it to how I approach and analyze my love life.

Years ago, a friend of mine started fooling around with her boss. They had a secret relationship for a while for personal and professional reasons and it had “disaster” written all over it. They broke up a bunch of times, she was heartbroken a bunch of times and kept on fighting for him and what they had only to give up several times out of exhaustion and a fierce sense of defeat. Last week, they were married. They are happy and healthy and #winning.

This story is the exception to the rule. I was told that the rule is: Don’t set yourself up to fail by wishing upon yourself the success of the diamonds in the rough. That story above? That’s a diamond in the rough. If you think that this could happen to you, you’re just going to be immensely disappointed. If you prepare yourself for failure, the fall won’t hurt as bad.

I spent 7 years reminding myself that I am NOT the exception in order to prepare myself for the inevitable idea that, sometimes people just don’t meet their person. Sometimes they are alone. And that’s okay. That has to be okay or your heart won’t survive your life. (Now looking back at it, it’s like I refused to process the message of this film’s ending. Whatever. working through the meaning of this shitty movie is not the point of this blog.) It made me bitter. It made me distrust any potential. It made me celebrate red flags as an excuse for an exit and it confirmed negative thoughts I consistently had about my romantic life. I wouldn’t take chances or risks because I was comfortable with the notion that I was the rule. It wasn’t going to be some great plot to the romantic comedy of my dreams. With disappointment after disappointment, how could you possibly think anything else.

Then you meet someone 7 years later at a point where you’re so fucking exhausted of being you. Of the negativity you release into the universe at each moment of being interested in another human being and then with out any reasoning behind it… you throw caution to the wind. You see the red flags and you hear about them from others, you could never erase the doubt that forms 76% of who you are, yet you say “Alright. Fuck it. I’m all in.” Because there’s this voice inside of your head and heart that’s saying something positive in a time of darkness and you just can’t ignore it. it gives you breath. It gives you life. Chaos. Love is chaotic.  But it exists. As does hope. And as long as you’re someone who believes in both those things, just in general… you’ll never truly be able to run away from it. And that’s what makes you the exception to your rule.

So… my bad to all those I judged. I am you. We all are you.


1 Dec

CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR (2007) – Charlie Wilson

Synopsis – A drama based on a Texas congressman Charlie Wilson’s covert dealings in Afghanistan, where his efforts to assist rebels in their war with the Soviets have some unforeseen and long-reaching effects.
Tom Hanks – The coke-friendly Texas congressman.
Co-stars – Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julia Roberts and  Amy Adams.
Best Parts – Aaron Sorkin, Mike Nichols, Philip Seymour Hoffman, the scene where Hoffman has hid the bug in the ribbon of the scotch bottle, the quote at the end of the movie.
Worst Parts –
 Waste of Emily Blunt – though she was fairly new to the scene – she should have had Shiri Appleby’s role at least, some of the Sorkin mumbo-jumbo starts to feel like you’re listening to another language – subtitles please for those who don’t work in the white house,
Best Hanks Acting – The New York Times put it best when they said “here he has the devilish smile of a middle-aged playboy who has woken up in a long-lost guilt-free sequel to “Bachelor Party”.
Best Line(s) – “It was like being slapped around by a Pakistani vaudeville team”, “Well, my name is Gust with a “T”, but I don’t care.”

Overall – While political dramas aren’t always my favorite, I appreciate that this film entertains as well as informs. I’m all for people using their flaws to serve a greater, noble cause.   (84 = B)

EXCEPTIONAL – (A+) 95 – 100
EXCELLENT – (A) 90-94
GOOD – (B) 80 – 89
AVERAGE – (C) 70-79
NOT A FAVORITE – (D) 60 – 69

To see original post and list of his films (hyperlinked if reviewed) CLICK HERE.


23 Nov

CAST AWAY (2000) – Chuck Noland

Synopsis – A FedEx executive must transform himself physically and emotionally to survive a crash landing on a deserted island.
Tom Hanks – The Island guy.
Co-stars – Helen Hunt & Wilson.
Best Parts – The plane crash, I love how there’s nothing exceptional about Hanks character – like he wasn’t a scout expert back in the day or that he has unusual and helpful upper body strength… he was average. This is how we would try to survive, when he first makes Wilson and keep staring at him while trying to light the fire, when he makes the fire, when the packages wash up onto shore, Wilson, the fact that we feel emotion for a volleyball’s disappearance, him spearing the fish from the far away rock – badass, I want to write a play about Helen Hunt’s character in this movie. 
Worst Parts –
They definitely could have shaved off some time from the scenes before the crash, they played the orchestral theme far too often, some of the dialogue was very… trite. The scene with him and his friend after he goes to Kelly’s house – it was kind of unnecessary… we already know he tried to kill himself. The angel wings lady at the end is a little abrasive, I thought some of the crazy could have stayed in Tom a mere 4 weeks after the rescue. Also, not sure the greatest message you should send is “You can survive a plane crash if you don’t wear your seatbelt.”
Best Hanks Acting – His smooth switch from work obsessed to panic to hopelessness to insane to shock to acceptance, when he’s sitting on the rock – 4 years later – eatin’ the blubber while staring into space, the scene at Helen Hunts house.
Best Line(s) – “Wilson!”, “Gotta love crab. In the nick of time too. I couldn’t take much more of those coconuts. Coconut milk is a natural laxative. That’s something Gilligan never told us.”

Overall –   (90 = A)

EXCEPTIONAL – (A+) 95 – 100
EXCELLENT – (A) 90-94
GOOD – (B) 80 – 89
AVERAGE – (C) 70-79
NOT A FAVORITE – (D) 60 – 69

To see original post and list of his films (hyperlinked if reviewed) CLICK HERE.


21 Nov

FORREST GUMP (1994) – Forrest Gump

MV5BMTQwMTA5MzI1MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzY5Mzg3OA@@._V1_SX214_AL_Synopsis – Forrest Gump, while not intelligent, has accidentally been present at many historic moments, but his true love, Jenny Curran, eludes him.
Tom Hanks – Forrest, Forrest Gump.
Co-stars – Sally Field, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise and Mykelti Williamson.
Best Parts – Gary Sinise & Robin Wright, the clever mix of Forrest’s life and that of significant moments in our history, young Jenny and Forrest, the roommate listening to Jenny and Forrest in the dorm, the scene with Kennedy when he has to pee. How good he is at everything, Tom watching Robin in the nightclub perform on the stage, that there’s a new person captured by the story on the bench each time, Forrest with John Lennon, when Forrest sees Lt. Dan on the dock and jumps in the water to get to him, Gump in the midst of the gospel choir, when he jumps off the boat upon learning that his momma is sick, did I mention Gary Sinise?
Worst Parts– The feather. That stupid, symbolism-down-our-throats-feather.
Best Hanks Acting – From his first breath to his last look… he’s “simply” wonderful. It’s an undeniably incredible performance. My favorite Hanks moment is when Forrest realizes that little Forrest is his own – “Is he smart or is he…”
Best Line(s) – “Stupid is as stupid does”, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”, “You can sit here if you want.” “Run Forrest, Run!”, “Dear God, make me a bird so I can fly far, far far away from here.” “My name’s Forrest Gump, people call me Forrest Gump.” “That’s all I have to say about that.” “Sorry I had a fight in the middle of your black panther party.” “I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is.”

Overall – This film spit out a ton of lines that we all know and quote today. This film won Hanks his second Oscar for Best Actor back to back with Philadelphia (only other actor to do that is Sidney Poitier.)  Zemeckis did a masterful job with this movie. While it remains controversial to a lot of people’s tastes, I think it’s inventive, inspired and at times… brilliant. Plus, there’s a restaurant chain based on this film and their hush puppies are delectable.  (98 = A+)

EXCEPTIONAL – (A+) 95 – 100
EXCELLENT – (A) 90-94
GOOD – (B) 80 – 89
AVERAGE – (C) 70-79
NOT A FAVORITE – (D) 60 – 69

To see original post and list of his films (hyperlinked if reviewed) CLICK HERE.


20 Nov

THE GREEN MILE (1999) – Paul Edgecomb


– The lives of guards on Death Row are affected by one of their charges: a black man accused of child murder and rape, yet who has a mysterious gift.
Tom Hanks – A Death Row guard.
Co-stars – Michael Clarke Duncan, David Morse, James Cromwell, Michael Jeter, Sam Rockwell, Doug Hutchison, Patricia Clarkson, Barry Pepper and Bonnie Hunt.
Best Parts – The supporting cast – Every. Single. One of them. (Especially Rockwell, Hutchison & Jeter), Mr. Jingles, the Patricia Clarkson healing scene, the unsuspecting comedy in the midst of this intense drama, Rockwell’s reaction when he’s told that he’s about 10 seconds away from spending the rest of his life in the padded room, the guys pretending to play cards while Hanks drugs Rockwell, the emotion running through the guards as they have to execute John, and, of course, the anti-death penalty message of this film.
Worst Parts– That Michael Clarke Duncan and Michael Jeter are dead :(, The death penalty, that Mr. Jingles isn’t credited on IMDB, I don’t think we needed the whole “present day/Old Paul Edgecomb” thing – only to show that Jingles was still alive? really? And to rely on narration.  It’s about 30- 45 minutes too long, that no one noticed that the sponge was dry.
Best Hanks Acting -It’s in movies like this and Road To Perdition when I best like to watch Hanks when he doesn’t have dialogue. His eyes, the thoughts of his character… it’s all there so vividly. When he pees normally for the first time, having to say “Roll on two”.
Best Line(s) – “Pissin’ razor blades.” ‘That man is mean, careless and stupid and that’s a bad combination in a place like this.” “All I wanted me was a little cornbread.” “Honey, if you don’t tell me what’s on your mind, I’m afraid I’m gonna have to smother you with a pillow.” “On the day of my judgment, when I stand before God and he asks me why did I kill one of his true miracles, what am I going to say? That it was my job?”

Overall – This film is beautiful and extremely difficult to watch. It hurts in deep places and also evokes the possibility of miracles. I’m a fan of this one.   (93 = A)

EXCEPTIONAL – (A+) 95 – 100
EXCELLENT – (A) 90-94
GOOD – (B) 80 – 89
AVERAGE – (C) 70-79
NOT A FAVORITE – (D) 60 – 69

To see original post and list of his films (hyperlinked if reviewed) CLICK HERE.


19 Nov

A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN (1992) – Jimmy Dugan

Synopsis – Two sisters join the first female professional baseball league and struggle to help it succeed amidst their own growing rivalry.
Tom Hanks – The team’s alcoholic coach.
Co-stars – Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell, Geena Davis, Lori Petty, Garry Marshall, David Straithairn, Jon Lovits,  & BILL PULLMAN.
Best Parts – Any time Jon Lovits is on screen/opens his mouth, when Geena catches the baseball in her hand, when Tom kisses Cuthbert, Hans Zimmer, The 1940’s dance club scene, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell, When Hanks throws the baseball mitt at Stillwell. Marla, Marla’s dad, Tracy Reiner’s acting when she realizes George is dead.  When Madonna teaches Shirley how to read, The “All American” song they sing, Geena’s beauty… my God, that Tom’s pee session rivals Mr. Powers,  Dolores’s dad, Bill Pullman cause it’s Bill Pullman.
Worst Parts– Kit’s panic attach in the dugout – Calm the fuck down, the team losing, Stillwell – fuck that kid. The fact that older Dottie has Geena’s voice, but it isn’t Geena, but it looks so much like her, but it’s not her. Does she let Kit win or doesn’t she????!!! (I think she does. Let’s talk about it.), The civil rights moment they force down our throats with a knowing nod, the scene between Tom Hanks and Geena Davis on the bus when they talk about Bob, that telegram prick, old Geena’s reaction to Bob being recently dead – (meh, people die...)
Best Hanks Acting – Sober or drunk, the man gives one of his funniest, best performances in this movie throughout. Best moment: When he tries with all his might not to yell at Ellen Sue.
Best Line(s) – “Has anyone seen my new, red hat?” “I’m singin’da Nelson, aren’t I baby?”, and, of course…“There’s no crying in baseball” “Every trip I take, I gotta sit next to one of these guys. I’m too friendly.” “Did you promise the cows you’d write?” “Just goin’ home, shower and shave, give the wife a little pickle tickle and then I’m on my way.” “Did anyone ever tell you you look like a little penis with a hat on?” “Lord, I’d just like to thank you for that waitress in South Bend. You know who she was, she kept calling your name.” “You’re killing me. You’re killing me, Alice. You’re God Damn Killing me!”

Overall – This is one of Tom’s best performances. This movie is a feel good, heart wrenching, motivational triumph. The women are excellent and Tom leads the way.  (96 – A+)

EXCEPTIONAL – (A+) 95 – 100
EXCELLENT – (A) 90-94
GOOD – (B) 80 – 89
AVERAGE – (C) 70-79
NOT A FAVORITE  – (D) 60 – 69

To see original post and list of his films (hyperlinked if reviewed) CLICK HERE.