Go check out my roommate, Linc Hand in "42." He plays a pivotal role at the end of the film as "Fritz Ostermueller." And you see him in every commercial on every television show 90 times a day.
It's really amazing that we both have incredible career changing moves happening in the same week. He has a major premiere (and his episode of SOUTHLAND just aired) and my HELL HOUSE and THE MARKED are moving forward.
Wow - I can't believe it's been nearly two months since I posted anything on my little blog. I always regret it later, because this is always a great place to go back for me to see where I've been and where I'm going.
First off, in the previous post I wrote an open letter to Megan Phelps. She read it. We met. We are now friends. Yes, THAT Megan Phelps.
I think I'm moving back to Georgia. At least for a year. Hollywood is a necessary evil when you are a producer. You have to be here to cultivate relationships with talent and media. But if everything works out, it looks like I'll be in Savannah for the next year. Possibly in July. It still is a ways off, but July is practically tomorrow.
We had amazing movement on my script THE MARKED last week. I toured a studio there and met with some potential investors. Because of the tax incentives, my little movie can be done there at a fraction of what it would cost to shoot in LA.
I also found investors that are interested in X-RATED, so hopefully we can find time for it early next year.
HELL HOUSE is gearing up to start filming in the summer. I'm not directing that one, but I'm really excited to be involved.
Also writing a new low budget indie with my friend, Steve Murray, called HAYVENHURST. My plan is to shoot it after THE MARKED and before we shoot PINEAPPLE UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE (which will be the sequel to BIRTHDAY CAKE, assuming BIRTHDAY CAKE does well in the festival circuit this summer).
Speaking of BIRTHDAY CAKE - we ran into a small issue. The movie disappeared. Gone with the Wind (unfabulous). Three and a half months of editing down the tubes. But fortunately Mike Justice who cut GROOM'S CAKE became available and Jasun Mark, who is cutting PROJECT: PHOENIX are both slamming out a cut and we should have a new cut by Sunday. And still hoping for a premiere in San Francisco at Frameline in June!
I also wrote, produced and directed a short film called MOVING DAY starring Joshua Morrow and Shanda Lee Munson. We are currently raising money to get the film into festivals and you can visit the site HERE. Would love to premiere it in Palm Springs at the International Shorts Festival in June!
PROJECT: PHOENIX is close to being done for a June/ July premiere. The cuts look incredible. It took us a long time to find the right look, but Jasun Mark has killed it.
I had a blast in Savannah last week. Very little sleep, but I love that city. Spent four months there when I worked on Robert Altman's GINGERBREAD MAN back in 1998. I would love to put down some temporary roots for a year and make movies.
And check out my roommate, Linc Hand in "42" this weekend!
Hey, girl, hey.
I'm not sure if you remember me in your plethora of hate tweets that you tweeted over the years, but we had a number of exchanges. I produced LARAMIE: 10 YEARS LATER here in Hollywood with an all-star cast. You told me you were coming. You didn't. I was bummed, because we had ordered sandwiches for you guys.
Last year I even visited you guys at your church/ home/ place. I made a sign and everything! But no one was home.
I even made a movie about it!!
When I woke up to messages from family and friends that you had left the church, I literally burst into tears. I sat in bed for 20 minutes reading your letter with ugly tears (like bad Oprah crying) streaming my face and I couldn't stop.
I am so proud of you.
I am so happy for you.
I (we) never felt hate in our hearts toward YOU. Sure, we didn't like you that much, but the action of you physically removing yourself from that situation, is a strength that most humans will never know. That was your family and your main source of interaction with people. We get it. Trust me, we ALL get it.
Welcome to the rest of your life, Megan. One that isn't about "hate." One that will undoubtedly kick you in the teeth and have you screaming for mercy, but one that can live in hope and faith.
Megan, it would be the great honor of my church, my people to have you as a guest. We can fly you in and put you up and give you a tour of Hollywoodland if you want. Dog and pony show. But I want to show you what a CHURCH based on love and community is all about.
Hollywood United Methodist Church feeds nearly 200 homeless people every Tuesday. We send teams to Haiti to rebuild homes. We are active with the HIV/ AIDS ministries for those in need in our area. We build homes for Habitat for Humanity. We make health kits for natural disasters... we do a lot. We have families - both straight and gay. We have movie stars and we have homeless people in our pews. We want to make the world better.
You don't have to do anything. We're not going to make you stand on a stage and talk. We just want you to come and breathe and feel what a community trying to make the world a better place, should be.
So if you are, let me know. You will always have an invitiation with us. I hope you say yes. Pauley Perrette hopes you say "yes." Ben Patrick Johnson hopes you say "yes." The Rev. Kathy Cooper-Ledesma hopes you say "yes." We feel a special bond to you after all your tweeting over the years.
And know that we all, everyone at our church, forgive you. And we wish you support and kindness and love.
Chad (and everyone at Hollywood United Methodist Church)
Today, I'm talking to you as a producer. An indie producer, who in the past year, made an award-winning short film, a web series, and a feature film - all for less than $30,000.
$10,000 of that money was raised through Indiegogo.
$15,000 of that money was an investor who saw my short and believed in the feature sequel enough to cut me a check.
$5,000+ of that money (and I'm not counting the $6,242 bond that the Screen Actors Guild is STILL holding to...) is MY money.
I'm trying to raise money for X-RATED (the "Porn Brat Pack" biopic) which will cost us $450,000, HELL HOUSE, which is currently budgeted at $650,000 and THE MARKED which was last budgeted at $1.5 million.
I've been on more pitch meetings than I can count. I have jumped on planes and flown to cities all over the country, thinking THIS is the investor that will cut the check. Every single day there is an email that says, "I'm 90% sure this guy is going to fund the entire movie." But until those big checks clear, I will continue to beg, borrow and steal.
Until that day comes, I continue to have to find ways to make films on a nothing budget and beg editors, visual effects people, hair and make-up people, production assistants, musicians, to all work for free or peanuts, because "the talent" are part of a guild that dictates they all get paid a certain rate, plus pension and health.
I get it... I'M the one stupid enough to be making films in California, as opposed to a right to work state like Georgia and that's the way it is. "I can't believe you would ask actors to work for free!" I'VE been working for free and in debt for over a year. I'm the one writing, producing, directing, birthing and raising these beasts. I'm NOT asking talent work for free. I found the money to pay them.
I'M ASKING FOR THE TALENT I PAY TO DO THEIR JOB AND PROMOTE THEMSELVES.
When a producer ASKS you to tweet or Facebook about an upcoming screening at a film festival or "could you tweet about our indiegogo campaign," they aren't really asking you to JUST tweet a link, they are asking you to get involved in the project.
Unless you are a "name" actor with hundreds of television and film credits, there's no excuse for you not supporting the projects you are in.
Case in point: the indiegogo campaign for BIRTHDAY CAKE. We only raised $2,500. I just went back through the "funders" and $2,400 of that money was from MY friends and family. The campaign lasted longer than a month (Indiegogo extended a number of campaigns because of the hurricane).
I shot videos, I posted, I emailed, I begged.
I also swore I would never do indiegogo again.
Very few of my actors actually even posted the link to the campaign and I would say 85% of my actors in GROOM'S CAKE never even post the links to the upcoming film festivals, which BLOWS MY FREAKING MIND because YOU ARE IN THE MOVIE and the movie IS WINNING AWARDS!
I did have a few actors donate money themselves to the campaign. But it's mindblowing to think that I have people who never once posted about it and they were in the videos we shot begging for money.
Alternately: I had one actress who I cast in PROJECT: PHOENIX who emailed me before we started shooting BIRTHDAY CAKE and said, "I believe in the project. I would like to invest (a rather large amount of money) to be on set and watch you produce. I want to learn." Instead of taking her money, I gave her credit and she handled nearly 90% of all of our on-set logistics. She handled our catering, all the purchases... nearly every logistical aspect of the film. When a role opened up, I cast her in it. But we couldn't have done the film without her.
Another actor, who had seen the pilot of PROJECT: PHOENIX (after the Indiegogo campaign had ended) saw a role in the breakdowns that he could not be less appropriate for. The role called for a NSA Agent who was big, beefy soldier. He submitted. I ignored him. He started following me on Twitter. He taped himself AS an NSA Agent doing a monologue. It's not what the role was, but I had already decided I was going to cast him as a different role, simply because he kept writing to me about how he wanted to be a part of the series. Before I even offered it to him, he wrote me and said, "I know this might seem weird, but I really believe in this web series and I want to invest in it." He didn't ask for a role. I didn't take his money. But I gave him the role anyways.
I would much rather work with people who have a vested interest in the project and fight to be a part of it, than people who show up late, I spend five minutes trying to locate ON set, and annoy the living hell out of me.
I am very generous to people that I know when it comes to crowd-sourcing. I just went back through Indiegogo and Kickstarter campaigns that I helped fund over the past year and I donated A LOT of money to people. A lot of people who in turn, DIDN'T DONATE A DIME TO ME. To me, this is actually a relief, because I know in the future, I don't have to donate to them again.
And what people don't seem to understand that whether you're donating $10 or $1,000, it adds up. You're helping support filmmakers and independent film. And usually there are fun perks that come with that.
But actors need to realize that when you get on board a project, you have to support it. AND WHY WOULDN'T YOU? You're in it!? I don't understand talent that don't self-promote. And if you are an actor who doesn't self-promote, please let me know so I don't ever cast you. Producers need actors to TALK ABOUT THE PROJECTS THEY ARE DOING.
I attended close to a dozen film festivals last year, all on my own dime. At every festival, I would talk up my actors. "So and so is doing this film..." "Next month so and so is in this show..." And it's so frustrating to not have talent even put a status update, "Hey, if you're in Kansas City or have friends out there, tell them to check out my short! It's really great and winning a lot of awards!"
Instead, I feel like Julia Roberts in SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT when she's ranting like a crazy person outside the bar when she sees her husband cheating on her, "I CAN SEE YOU!!" I can see when you are not doing anything to promote your own work because I follow you on Twitter and we're friends on Facebook!
And I'm not talking about professing accolades onto the people that are making the film. You don't have to say, "So much fun on set today with (insert filmmaker here)." But if there IS a campaign, write your friends. Post about it. Tell them why you're doing it. Tell them about how excited you are about doing it.
And this just isn't about crowd-sourcing and tweeting about screenings. It goes to simply SHOWING UP for your fellow artists. Go see their shows. If they host a night of musical numbers, go and support them. If they have a project that you really believe in, TALK ABOUT IT.
This whole post is what makes me miss Atlanta more than anything. When I was doing theatre in Atlanta, everyone supported each other. We shared sets, actors, costumes. We went to each others show. This was before Twitter and Facebook, so we would all meet up at Manuel's Tavern and each theatre had a table. It was about COLLABORATION.
I'm only ever interested in working in collaboration. I don't have time for anything other than collaboration. I only work with good, kind, smart, talented people who know what they are doing and respect me.
Success begets success.
And if you choose not to, that's fine too. It's your prerogative.
Just don't be surprised when that filmmaker chooses to not include you in any upcoming projects. If you're not going to support the filmmaker, the filmmaker is not going to support YOU.
One month before I was to run the Honolulu Marathon in 2008, I discovered a lump on my testicle that, after a month of tests and drugs, would be removed and revealed to be cancerous. I would undergo chemo and spend tens of thousands of dollars over the next four years for surgeries, scans, and doctor visits.
Never mind the expense and debt you go into, there are huge psychological traumas of going through this. If you don't understand, I can send you a picture.
I had my surgery one week before the marathon and obviously, I didn't run. In fact, I couldn't walk like a normal person for nearly three months after the surgery, because they cut you in your upper leg to remove the testicle.
As soon as I was diagnosed, I bought Lance Armstrong's book, "It's Not About the Bike," in which he chronicled his battle with cancer and the rise of the Livestrong Foundation,
I was (still am) a member of the Livestrong community. For the first year after my surgery and chemo, I used it to learn about what happens when you have NO immune system, and how being around sick people could literally kill you. I learned about acupuncture for the nausea. Many people supported and checked up on me during my first year, and in turn, I became the person that people looked to later for experience and support.
Because I didn't get to run the Honolulu Marathon and because I had blogged about my experience and training, I was asked to join the prestigious Livestrong Team for the NYC Marathon the following fall. Because of those who supported me, I raised nearly thousands of dollars for Livestrong. The run would fall on the one year anniversary to the date of when I found the lump.
I trained, but my IT band in my leg went out at mile 10 in Brooklyn (damn Brooklyn) and I was not able to finish the race. (A year later, I would train again and run my final marathon in Honolulu with my friends, Zen Gray, Catie Boles, Will Finley, and Shannon Speaker.)
I continue to use the Livestrong website for items like nutrition and health.
I don't care what Lance Armstrong: The Cyclist did. Sure, I'm disappointed he used drugs that were illegal and it was fun to cheer someone on who was a champion and giant, who fought a disease and inspired many others to fight as well.
He lied. He admitted it. He went on OPRAH. Get over it. "He didn't show any remorse." Need I roll out a laundry list of politicans who have cheated, lied, or killed people? Need I bring up things I know personally about YOU that are less than stellar? He just cheated on a bigger scale.
Lance Armstrong: The Humanitarian built an invaluable organization. He has raised awareness and educated millions of people. Livestrong is a community that is there for people going through cancer, when the ones closest to them, don't know what to do or what to say.
It's NOT about the bike. Livestrong is bigger than one man.
So if you want your dollar back for your yellow bracelet, send me your address and I will send you a dollar.
But if you want to attack Lance Armstrong, you're going to have to go through me first. And you can start by sucking my ball.
I put quotes around his name, because his real name was Nick. Nicholas Iacona. He's been a ghost to me for almost 12 years.
Only two times in my life have books literally fallen off a shelf in front of me. Both times I've picked them up and bought them. The first book was Randy Shilts' "Conduct Unbecoming" in 1994 at the Chapter 11 Bookstore in the Ansley Shopping Center in Atlanta. That book followed me through six apartments in Atlanta, a guest house in Savannah, a home in North Hollywood and my current home of 11 years.
I knew at some point I was going to turn that book into a movie. In 2009, I was a writer for hire on a historical DADT epic called HERE'S WHAT WE'LL SAY. It was a combination of Reichen Lehmkuhl's biography about his time in the military in the early 90s, a present day reporter and Randy Shilts' research and release of his book. Three stories that bounced off each other like THE HOURS.
What happened (or didn't happen, more appropriately) with that script is a whole other story. I was angry at Reichen for not talking about it on his "reality" show THE A-LIST: NEW YORK. I told him he needed to talk about it in order to get a buzz going. He finally did after nearly a year of the script collecting dust and my phone blew up with text messages, "you're in Page Six!"
Sure enough, November 2010, Page Six covered the fact in print for the first time that a script existed and within the hour, Entertainment Weekly was on the phone interviewing the producers. CLICK HERE for the article.
After OVER A YEAR of the producers owning the script, finally someone was actually talking about it.
A staged reading was scheduled. The day of the reading, my dear friend, Ryan O'Connor called me. I was just leaving City of Hope Cancer Center, having had the worst appointment ever - stuck in a room for five hours because the doctor forgot about me - I was coming out of my skin from the fury and Ryan very gently assessed I had not heard "the news."
"Oh, God. You don't know," he said.
Our friend, Chane't Johnson had died of a heart attack. We both grieved and as it goes in Hollywood, the show must go on. We arrived at the theatre and did the reading for potential investors and producers.
I met Bryan Singer for the first time and he complimented my writing, but I was still numb. We had a number of actors reading the script and one of my favorite actors, Ben Weber read the role of "Randy Shilts."
I'm not going to lie - I was angry about a lot of things. Confused about my role, more than anything. It was ME who spent many trips flying back and forth to San Francisco, combing through Randy Shilts archives for multiple trips on my own dime. And I felt out in the cold on the celebrations of the evening. I was thankful for my friends coming. Bryan Putnam took the above shot from the reading.
Two weeks later... President Obama repealed DADT and my script was literally the deadest script in Hollywood.
Two weeks ago, Bryan Putnam killed himself, after many years of battling addiction and depression.
The week after September 11th (September 17, 2001 to be exact), I was in A Different Light Bookstore when the book "Wonderbread and Ecstacy" fell on the shelf in front of me. I picked it up. A naked man on the cover. Joey Stefano. Never heard of him. But it was an interesting story from the back cover - porn star who died of drugs. HIV-positive. It's GIA with a dude.
I bought it. I read it in one sitting. But something felt... off... about the story. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I knew I had to turn this into a movie. Two days later, I found Chi Chi LaRue's email and I emailed him.
Chi Chi (real name, Larry Paciotti) discovered "Joey" and his career exploded. He became the biggest porn producer/ director in the industry. He was also in love with Nick. An unrequited love.
In Nick, Larry formed a family of wayward misfits called, "The Porn Brat Pack," made up of performers, crew and a reporter.
I knew I couldn't do the film without the full cooperation of Larry. He emailed me back the next day with these words: "I have ZERO interest in talking to you about this."
That was it. The book went back on the shelf and collected dust for ten years.
By Summer 2010, I was ready to move back to Atlanta. I had quit casting in late 2005 to pursue writing and here I was, nearly 5 years later with nothing to show. I had completed HERE'S WHAT WE'LL SAY seven months earlier and NOTHING had happened with it.
Since I had quit casting, I went from one ridiculous experience to the next. I can't tell you how many Facebook updates were all, "got great news about..." and then nothing happened.
Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner had taken out my pilot MORTIFIED in 2008 it died a slow death (I got the call that they were done with it the same day I discovered the lump on my testicle, so I assumed that was God's way of saying, "prepare yourself. You're going to die." But good on God for giving Sean and Todd some creative closure.)
Right after getting diagnosed with cancer in 2008, I was "hired" (read: I was never paid...) to write a script based on a producer's idea. Realizing the money wasn't coming, I began to question the validity to the project. When I asked for my contract and what stipends were due to me, suddenly I was "difficult." I ended the relationship. I didn't need that level of toxicity while I was going through chemo and trying to heal. There's a much sadder ending to this story, but that's for another time. And as a side note, if someone is going through chemo, DO NOT make them sit outside in the freezing January temperatures so you can smoke while giving script notes.
I spent the first half of 2009 unemployed. I went to work for hotel on a night shift job and wanted to shoot myself in the head every night.
I was hired for $1,000 to rewrite another script as a writer-for-hire based on a book. It too was in the hands of someone who had NO IDEA what they were were doing with it.
In early 2010, my friend Ryan Green and I produced a no budget movie called AWAY. It was 13 stories that take place in a hotel. Ryan and I worked well together. I found the hotel. He closed the deal allowing us to shoot there for free. I wrote half the stories and another writer/ director wrote the others. He also served as editor. And the film remains sitting on his hard drive, unfinished to this day.
And on June 4, 2010 - I was done. I was ready to move back to Atlanta. I was sitting at St. Felix with someone I no longer have in my life and my friend Adam Cuculich. Adam had a small role in AWAY, but he made a living working in the adult entertainment industry.
I couldn't get a literary agent and I was done. I was going to move back to Atlanta and start extras casting again and make a killing doing that. Five years was enough time to realize this writing thing wasn't going to happen.
"Why do I keep writing for people who have no idea what they're doing!" I screamed.
And Adam very calmly said, "you should just do it on your own."
That was the stupidest thing I had ever heard.
I can't PRODUCE! I can't DIRECT!
And again, Adam said, "well, look at AWAY. You produced that. And the actors wanted to deal with you more than the director."
He had a point. And I HAD produced theatre. If you can produce theatre, you can do anything.
BODY FARM (my pilot MORTIFIED as a feature film) was too expensive. THE TELLING was too expensive. If I was going to do a "little" film that could do festivals, I needed a subject that would play to the LGBT festivals. And the only story I ever wanted to do was JOEY STEFANO.
Adam said, "you should talk to Chi Chi."
I explained the entire story and he said, "I think enough time has passed." In truth, nearly 9 years had passed.
We finished our drinks, walked from St. Felix to Eleven (one block away) and ran right smack into... Chi Chi LaRue.
In all my years in LA, I had never met Chi Chi. So this was clearly a sign. A big, loud, drunk sign.
Larry was drunk. I wanted to talk to him, but I wanted to do it when he was sober. I made a deal with the person no longer in my life (which I plan on honoring),"if you can get me a meeting with him, I'll give you associate producer credit on the film."
24 hours later I was sitting in front of Larry at Starbucks. I pitched my little heart out. I told him I thought Joey Stefano's story needed to be told: it's a story about addiction and family. The ones we create and the ones that bind us. Every day in casting I saw a hundred "Joey Stefano's" who just wanted to be famous, but the trappings of Hollywood ruined them.
I could tell Larry really didn't want to do it, but he said, "every single day of my life, someone asks me about Joey Stefano. If I agree to this, you have to make this movie. Because after it's done, I don't want to ever discuss it."
In the 14 years since Nick's death, Larry has lost hundreds of pounds. He is still one of the titans in the industry. And I knew I couldn't tell the story without him opening doors.
I started interviewing the surviving members of the infamous "Porn Brat Pack." I tried for weeks to find Mickey Skee. Larry just kept telling me, he's out there. But "Mickey Skee" was again, a pseudonym. (WHAT IS IT WITH EVERYONE HAVING TWO NAMES!?)
More bizarre signs happened: I ordered Karen Dior's autobiography through Amazon One-Click. When it arrived, it was shipped from a guy who I know from church. Of all the people in the world to ship this book... I know him from church. I freaked out, "oh, no! This guy who goes to my church is going to tell everyone I'm buying books on porn!" I called him and explained the movie. To which he said, "oh, I knew Joey Stefano... I used to cover the industry under a pen name, Mickey Skee."
I knew for the first time in my life, I was on the right track. I mean... do you need a bigger sign than, YOU GO TO CHURCH with Mickey Skee?
I interviewed Chris Green, Sharon Kane, Brian Maley. I interviewed over a fifty people. I flew myself all over the country to interview people. Nick's family did not want to be involved. I approached them numerous times over the years and they have turned me down.
I never went back to the book because I didn't want to be accused of stealing from it. I wanted the story to come directly from my characters. And as I would discover, that "feeling" I had that was a little "off" was true. Through no fault of the author, there are inaccuracies in the book, because the book was written shortly after Nick's death and the truth is, they were all high doing interviews. They told half-truths. And people were interviewed who claimed to have a bigger part of his life. It was so real and raw in the moment that they hadn't had enough time to process what had happened. Yes, a lot of it IS true. But I would discover there were some events right around the end of his life that were not true.
These survivors had... survived. Some were now sober. Some were now HIV-positive. Geoffrey Gann (aka Karen Dior) died of AIDS related complications in 2004, ten years after Nick.
It was a different time. It was a time when porn stars were royalty in West Hollywood. They would walk into a club and the seas of people would part for them. Without discussing each of their addictions, it's safe to say there were A LOT of drugs. Some people could manage their use and function. Others couldn't.
It was driving back from Comic Con with Pauley that I voiced out loud for the first time, "I think I want to direct this." I had never had any interest in directing, but having just worked with a director who wanted to completely redo my script THE TELLING, I needed a way to protect myself. If I'm going to produce it. If I'm going to travel all over the country interviewing these people, then I want TOTAL control.
For the first time, I was sticking up for myself and what I believed in. I was told by many people, "oh, so-and-so will never talk to you," I earned their trust and got them. If you weren't helpful, you were off the project. For years I had carried dead weight and tried to make people feel involved, even if they had ZERO experience in production, but not this time. If you weren't supportive, you were gone. I was getting too old for this shit.
I finished the first draft of the script in about 6 months. It was centered on Joey.
We did our first staged reading in February of 2011. I had cast Ryan O'Connor as "Larry" and Willam Belli as "Karen Dior." We would later add Missi Pyle as "Sharon Kane."
Following that reading, I met Kevin Williamson who read the script and liked it, but his note (and what I had come to fear, having heard two readings at this point) was: "I don't think your script is about Joey Stefano." He was right. It was about the entire PACK. Not just him.
Another rewrite later, nearly a year after the first draft was completed, it was called THE PORN BRAT PACK.
Last year we got a lot of buzz when we released photos and a video of the cast in costume.
We've gone out to literally dozens of actors to play "Joey Stefano." If he's 20 and looks remotely like him, trust me, we've gone out to him. It blows my mind that most of these actors (who are not A-List talent... or even B-List) would so quickly turn it down. After all, "Gia" launched Angelina Jolie into a super star. But I know we'll find the right one eventually.
I've always felt that I need to make this movie for about a half million. At a half million, I feel confident I can make my investors money back. Any more than that, and you run the risk. Of course, at that time, I had never directed anything.
My producing partner and I went back and forth over numbers for two years. She felt more comfortable at a million (knowing it was STILL going to require a lot of beg, borrow, steal). I felt more comfortable at half that.
Last summer, while sitting in a room, watching the last mix of GROOM'S CAKE, Kathy turned to me and said, "do you really think you can do this for a half a million?" and we agreed.
The title has gone from JOEY STEFANO to THE PORN BRAT PACK to its current title, X-RATED. It doesn't glamorize the porn industry. Far from it. It's not going to be shot as some experimental sex movie. Again... it's "GIA with a dude."
Since those drinks two and a half years ago, I've shot a web series (PROJECT: PHOENIX, which is in post-production) three short films (HABEAS CORPUS was nominated for Best Picture and Best Drama at the 48 Hour Guerrilla Film Competition and GROOM'S CAKE has won nearly a dozen awards for Best Short) and I just finished my first feature on a shoe string budget.
"I can't produce" and "I can't direct" are no longer part of my paradigm.
I need money. I need investors. I need to tell this story.
And this is a good investment! THIS is a Sundance movie. Worse case scenario, it opens and closes every LGBT film festival next year. But these are people known all over the world. When the film was first announced, blogs all over Europe were talking about who would play Joey. People love biopics. People love movies about addiction. People love movies about the industry.
But mostly, people love a good story.
Since those drinks two a half years ago, the night I met Larry... he has been sober for over a year. That's right. Number two on the call sheet is living a new life.
Addiction is a day to day battle. As an addict you make the choice for "today" not to drink. Not to partake of drugs.
Since those drinks two and a half years ago, I've lost several friends to addiction and I have friends who slip and fall every day. But they get back up and they get back on.
If we can change the life or motivate just one person to get help, we've done our job. I've often said that I'm going to get the money for this project through someone in the community who has a vested interest in addiction. Maybe I will. Maybe I won't.
I just know that this is an important story with a message.
I'm grateful for people like Adam, who have encouraged me to strike out and do my own thing. After I started researching and interviewing for X-RATED, I tried to get THE TELLING made. It didn't work out either, but rather than let it get to me, I used the lessons I learned in that working relationship to shape the way I handle the business side of all my projects. Namely, never say, "I totally trust you and whatever you think is the best, that's what we should do." I still listen to my producing partners, but I don't ignore my gut and instincts anymore.
I'm grateful for Ryan O'Connor, Willam and Missi for hanging in there while we wait. This happens with a lot of films - the cast is announced and its 5 years later before a foot of film has been shot.
I'm grateful for my producing partners, my attorney, and all the people make that sausage.
I'm grateful for Larry, Sharon, Mickey, Brian and the others who have trusted me and shared their stories and let me into their lives.
Everything comes in cycles. I get that. MORTIFIED sat on a shelf for three years and then it came back to life and we took it back out again. (Still waiting to see what happens with it.) The scripts you think are dead are the ones that roar back to life.
Hopefully this year, we get to tell Nick's story. Larry's story. Sharon and Mickey and Brian and Karen and all the others.
Wish us all luck on trying to get it to the screen this year. I don't want another year to go by where I say, "Happy birthday, Joey Stefano. Hopefully this is the year we shoot your movie."
I have to say that for the first time in as long as I can remember, I can not wait to celebrate the end of an INCREDIBLE year and wait with breathless anticipation for the new year.
How many times have we (read: "I") said, "this year sucked... I can't wait for next year..."
2012 was a game changer for me. It was the year I finally dug in my heels and with the support of many friends (and investors) was able to finally start my career on a path that with every passing day is revving up new momenteum.
In January, I put on my big boy pants and took on the Girl Scouts of America. Working with TYFA, we helped raised THOUSANDS of dollars for Bobby Montoya's Girl Scout Troop and brought the issue to a national level. While, I'm a lady and won't discuss what happened behind the scenes, (it wasn't great) our efforts forced a change. I wasn't looking for a parade and I'm the one who ended up on the outside, but shit got changed. And I'm so proud of that. Sometimes you're the one who has to take the bullet and play dead. But shit got changed.
In February, with the coaxing of my church friend, Pat Murray, I wrote a little film called GROOM'S CAKE. We started production in March and wrapped after three days. We had an incredible cast. I learned a lot (mainly, never shoot a short film that is 35 minutes if you ever want to see it programmed in a festival!).
In April we shot a sneak peek for PORN BRAT PACK (now called X-RATED). It got some great national buzz, but alas, we're still looking for investors to make it a reality.
We also shot the pilot (dear God... we shot that in APRIL!?) for PROJECT: PHOENIX. I had an incredible cast. Jesse James Rice shot and edited that thing to perfection.
In May I celebrated my grandmother's 90th birthday. I shot HABEAS CORPUS for the 48 Hour Film Competition with Jesse James, Nanea, Brittany, and the whole team from the Monkey House. From start to finish - from concept to upload, a short film done in 48 hours.
We would later go on to be nominated for Best Drama and Best Picture. We didn't win... but it truly is an honor to be nominated.
In June, we began our GROOM'S CAKE festival circuit: Fort Worth, Kansas City, Palm Springs... we picked up Best Short Film awards left and right! I visited my friends at the Westboro Baptist Church and made a movie about it.
In July, we screened in Philadelphia and Cincinnati. Two amazing festivals. We won Cincinnati for jury and audience, but one of my favorite memories or the year was visiting the unmarked grave of my "Joey Stefano," Nicholas Iacona in Philadelphia. For twelve years, this man has been a ghost to me. To be able to stand at his grave was one of the most moving moments of my life and I hope and pray to the baby Jesus that in 2013, we are able to bring his story to the screen in X-RATED.
In August, it was hot as hell in LA. I spent many weekends in a pool in Palm Springs writing and in September, we started shooting the series for PROJECT: PHOENIX. Naively, I thought the show would already be out by now. Never write a show with visual effects and lots of action on a shoe-string budget you are paying for and expect it to be out quickly...
In September, we also won an award in Palm Springs for GROOM'S CAKE and in October, we won in Atlanta for Best Male Short.
Also in October, my church, Hollywood United Methodist Church was only of the highest fundraising teams for APLA's AIDS Walk Los Angeles for the third straight year in a row.
In November, we played DC and a week later, I turned 40. I spent the better part of the month writing BIRTHDAY CAKE and..
It's amazing what can happen in a year.
Along the way, I also spent the year pitching MORTIFIED with my producers Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner. I began writing SLEEPING BEAUTY for a director. I started a new pilot called DEAD OR ALIVE and finally started the "Fade In:" on KENT STATE.
And as of 72 hours ago, HELL HOUSE roared back to life and is in first position of my life for March.
I met so many wonderful people over the past year.
I've lost a few people over the past year.
I turned 40 and according to a psychic prediction in 1996, I was supposed to be dead by now.
So I can't wait to see what happens next.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
I would like to say that over the past year I've worked with some of greatest actors living in LA: my friends. People that I've known for years (I started off babysitting, lived with for over 11 years, ran marathons, known since my days of casting in Atlanta, etc...) All driven individuals who aren't sitting around waiting for things to happen. Not waiting for their agents to call and not complaining because their agents aren't calling.
BEYOND excited to get to work with the brilliant Jane Badler. I was a gigantic fan of "V" as a kid and lost my mind over the reboot and was part of the people that demanded she be hired for season 2. They DID hire her, kept her in a cell for an entire season, then killed her (and the series).
"V" was a show as a kid that made me want to be in film. I even started an international "V" fan club when I was 11 years old, called "The Rebel Resistance." People sent me a quarter once a month and I sent them a one page cut and paste newsletter with fan drawn pictures from other fans. (God, I was a dork.)
But the show was unlike anything I had ever seen and it sparked what turned me into what I do today.
In the movie, Jane plays herself (like James Van Der Beek in THE B IN APT 23). "Dan" has to go to the studio where she is having a nuclear meltdown because she refuses to sing the song he has written. "Elizabeth Taylor was a philanthropist! A humanitarian! I am NOT singing this!!"
It's not until she starts singing, that Dan realizes he sent a song to his composer (played by the awesome, Justin Jones, who is also writing the song) he wrote as a joke while he was drunk, and not the intended song.
Things only get worse...
We'll be announcing more of the new cast over the next few days.
(And thanks to Heath Castor for designing our poster!)
Posted an ad for an editor on Craigslist for BIRTHDAY CAKE. (To clarify, we do have money to pay the editor, I specifically said there is not a lot - because the film is SAG/ AFTRA Ultra Low Budget and it's a great opportunity for a film student or someone who recently graduated from film school or someone who wanted to transition into features. If you've seen GROOM'S CAKE, it's not CLOUD ATLAS... it's shot documentary style).