1st Quarter Assessment

Four months down, eight more to go! The first quarter of 2016 is over and I am here to honestly assess my progress thus far. After all, I am my own business. As you may or may not remember, I wrote a blog entry back in January detailing my focus for 2016. I wrote:

Cristela Alonzo, Tyler Perry, Mindy Kaling, Lena Dunham, Jorge Ortiz: Self-generating artists who have carved a name and empire for themselves in Hollywood and in the world.

The above statement is a postulate. And a postulate is defined as:

A proposition that requires no proof, being self evident, or that is for a specific purpose assumed true, and that is used in the proof of other propositions; a self
evident conclusion, decision or resolution; a self generated truth, a prediction.

So let’s assess. Let’s see how I am Chasing The George and really moving forward with my postulate:

  • Met Cristela Alonzo twice…and we took two different selfies together.
  • Met a Latino TV showrunner for coffee and pitched myself to work for him.
  • Had a wonderful, hour-long conversation with a TV writer and received advice from him.
  • Finished writing the pilot script for my new TV series, “Anthony”.
  • Finished writing the third draft of my feature film script (where James Franco plays the villain) I have a title for the film, but I will keep it under wraps for just a little while longer.
  • Registered my “Anthony” pilot script with the Writers Guild.
  • Copyrighted my “Anthony” pilot script with the U.S. Copyright Office.
  • Registered my feature film script (where James Franco plays the villain) with the
    Writers Guild. 107 pages.
  • Researched a plethora of writing competitions.
  • Submitted the pilot episode of “Chris/Tina” to the Cannes Film Festival.
  • Submitted my “Chris/Tina” pilot script to the Back In The Box, Slamdance and ScreenCraft writing competitions.
  • Submitted my “Anthony” pilot script to the Back In The Box and Slamdance writing competitions.
  • Prepared and executed various postcard mailings, phone calls and email mailings
    to literary agents from CAA to UTA to Paradigm to Innovative to Heroes & Villains to Rothman Brecher, etc.
  • Manifested three direct connections to James Franco.
  • Promoted my work as an actor and writer on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram on a weekly basis.
  • Started pre-production on a short film with a handful of my friends that we will use to showcase our talents as actors and writers. We are shooting on June 5th and 6th. We are shooting on the Black Magic Camera. My role in this film is actor, co-writer and executive producer. Creating the evidence. Creating the evidence. Creating the evidence. And then promoting the hell out of it.
  • Launched my own personal website so that everything is centralized in one location.
  • Put up work in Scene Study and the Professional Development Program 2.0 classes and threw down to stay sharp as an actor.

1st Quarter Assessment: Pretty good! Grade: B

I gave myself a B because I flinched on an impulse in one instance and I accepted “no” too easily in another situation. Not following my impulses has cost me in the past and will continue to cost me in the future if I don’t honor them.

Accepting “no” too easily is also not acceptable. I have to use more charm, humor and irony to exhaust possibilities.

2nd Quarter Assessment and Goals:

  • Get laser-like with my James Franco project and move it further towards completion. I’ve created a timeline to accomplish this using Ken Kragen’s concept of backwards thinking with forward motion (Ken was a top manager to many of the biggest stars in the world)
  • Shoot short film with my friends and promote the hell out of it.
  • Cut trailer of my written works.
  • Shoot new headshots.
  • Be more assertive. No is not an option. Flinch is not in my vocabulary. The word “no” does not come into contact or agreement with my postulate. I must maintain dogged, unwavering belief in my postulate.
  • Follow my impulses.
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Writer Whore?

I love James Franco. He and I have a special connection and relationship. Our chemistry is undeniable. I’m about to start the third draft of my screenplay where James is the antagonist. By the way, I finally have a title for it! But I won’t reveal the title until I finish this third draft and register it with the WGA and the U.S. Copyright.

Every time I read James Franco’s dialogue, I blush. I become giddy. When I read his dialogue, I hear his voice and I see him looking at me with an irresistible twinkle in his dark brown eyes. At 5’7", 167.5 lbs and 10 inches…….in shoe size…….he is my muse for this particular script. We love each other and I always thought we would be together forever.

But lately, something strange is happening. I find myself sneaking out at different hours of the day and I don’t want James to know about it. And to a certain degree, I don’t want the other characters in the feature film to know about it either. But James in particular because he is my favorite.

What am I doing at these different hours? I’m writing a new series set in NYC! And I feel guilty because I’m falling in love with the new characters in it. I feel like I’m cheating on James Franco. I invested all this time into James and now I’m investing time into these new characters. And like James, one character has emerged as my favorite and he might end up being the break out character of the series. He is scraggly, skinny, unkempt, rocks dental braces and looks like his brain is a little fried. I love writing dialogue for him and breathing life into him.

This new character makes me laugh. He makes me smile. He makes me blush. I find myself reciting some of his lines out loud as if they were Shakespearean sonnets. I have a visual prototype of this character and I can look at it forever. His eyes are also dark brown and he looks at me with a twinkle in them. And don’t even get me started on another character who comes in at a very close second place. At four years old, audiences will fall in love with this adorably complex character.

OMG, I’m having a fucking affair behind James Franco’s back. I feel horrible. I’m betraying him. Should I come clean to him? What the fuck do I do? I’m a horrible person. Then it hits me: I’ve done this before. I was in love with the characters in a feature film titled Love Returned. It was all about them. And then, when I came up with the idea for the James Franco screenplay, I moved on from Love Returned. I’m a fucking writer whore. Oh God, a writer whore. Brand me with the scarlet letter.

A writer creates characters in a particular world for a certain period of time. A writer develops a very personal, intimate and long-lasting relationship with these characters from conception to completion. Sometimes, completion occurs when the project is released in the cinemas, or on TV, or online, or in bookstores, etc. Completion could also occur once awards season is over or once a project has run its course on the film festival circuit. And once that journey is complete, the writer moves on to a brand new set of characters and begins a whole new relationship with them. Or sometimes, like in my case, writers will be simultaneously managing multiple projects with different sets of characters and worlds. I’m having multiple affairs. Oh God, I’m a fucking writer whore jumping between the peeps in the James Franco screenplay and the peeps in the new series. And oh shit, I just remembered that I recently revisited a short film script and made changes to it as well.

But wait a minute, this is a common occurrence in the literary world. For example, JJ Abrams created the TV series, Alias. He was incredibly involved with Alias until he turned his attention to creating LOST. LOST became his new lover. And he kept that up until he created and/or executive produced other TV shows and movies. He’s just ONE of COUNTLESS examples.

I have written two feature films, two TV series, a short film and a non-fiction novel in the last few years. I was madly in love with the characters from the TV series, Chris/Tina, before I moved on to the amazing characters in the feature film, Love Returned. Then I moved on and fell in love with the characters in the short film. Then I moved on to the James Franco feature film. Now I’m falling in love with the characters in this new TV series. And each project has that one or two characters who become my favorites: Chris and Diego in Chris/Tina, Xavi and Jordan in Love Returned, Emilio in the short film, James and Laura in the feature film, Pito and Dominic in the new TV series.

But the amazing and cool thing is that whenever I re-visit any of these stories, I fall in love with the characters all over again. They are all part of my literary universe and life. They all are part of an artistic theme and arc. Baz Luhrmann has his Red Curtain Trilogy (Strictly Ballroom, Romeo & Juliet and Moulin Rouge) Krzysztof Kieslowski has his Three Colors Trilogy (Blue, White and Red) Quentin Tarantino wanted to combine Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained with a third film to create a Rewritten History Trilogy. Other writers have their own trilogies, arcs, series or themes. I feel like the body of work I have created falls under an arc. And they fall under the category of Urban Operas: Works that are cinematic, dramatic, musical, hard-hitting, real, impinging, tells it like it is, humorous.

Every character and world in each of my projects is connected to each other and they create something greater. The challenges Xavi experiences in Love Returned is no different than the challenges that Chris faces in Chris/Tina or the ones that Laura faces in the James Franco screenplay. These are human beings trying to survive and be the best that they can be against extraordinary circumstances and challenges. Even my non-fiction novel chronicles my own personal journey against a particular set of extraordinary circumstances and challenges during the summer of 2014.

I share something special with each character. Each one brings a new dynamic to the table. Sometimes a character in one project informs a character in another. Sometimes I recycle dialogue: I’ll take a paragraph or a monologue from one project and use it in another project and I’m amazed at how beautifully it still works.

Wow, maybe I’m not cheating after all! Maybe in this case it’s okay to be a whore. These characters and these worlds all take care of each other. They are part of an artistic whole. Part of the Urban Opera I’m weaving and conducting.

So now that I am aware of this, I don’t have to sneak around anymore. I don’t have to feel guilty anymore. I can embrace my whore. I can look James in his dark brown eyes and say, “Babe, I’m going to spend some time with the peeps at the new series. I’ll see you later tonight.” And vice versa, I’ll let the peeps at my new series know that I’ll be spending time with the peeps at the James Franco movie. I can tell Laura that I want to spend some time with Emilio and Jacob from the short film. And on and on and on.

I’m a writer whore and proud of it. Brand me with it.

Funny Things I Said On Set

Shooting a feature film in NYC has been wonderful. From on-location shoots at Radio City Music Hall to iconic fashion photographer Francesco Scavullo’s three-story townhouse on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, this experience has only reinforced my love for being an artist. I am truly grateful and I want more. I will have more.

And in a massive city filled with millions of people everywhere, it was amazing to see how much I stood out. At first, I thought it was because I wore an LA hat. Then, I quickly realized it was because of who I am. My spirit, my life force, my joy of what I do and who I am. Many people were intimidated, inspired and drawn to me. My influence wasn’t just limited to the world of LA. So witnessing my impact on others confirmed even more the power I have as an artist and how I can truly change the world.

And since this blog is about my weekly experiences as an artist, I thought it would be cool to share with you some of the funny things I said on set. Enjoy! And see you soon LA!

I said on set:

“Okay!”

“Okaaaayy!”

“Hold on, I’m still putting on my strap on.”
————-

Lead Actor: “I read a book that started with the line, "Joe inserted his big black dick inside her taunty pussy.”

Me: “Do you still own that book?”
————-

“I would eat that salmon all night long.”

“Okaaaayy!”

“Shake it, bitch!”

“I thought she was spelling ‘Dietrich’, as in ‘Marlene Dietrich’”
————-

As we’re getting shuttled to the next location, I sat next to a crew member in an Infiniti SUV:

Crew member: “Ouch, your ass bone just poked me.”

Me: “That’s not my bone.”
————-

“I’ve been told that I’m the size of a baby’s arm.”
————-

A crew member looks at the hashtags I used on an Instagram post:

Sound Operator: “Hashtag Gay Mexico?”

Me: “Yeah, I’m international.”
————-

“You think I’m going to pay $40 million for a townhouse on the Upper East Side of Manhattan only to look out at all of this horrid, loud, nasty traffic?! Get the hell out of here!”

“Okaaaayy!”
————-

Me: “Sorry, I keep digging into your butt.”

Director of Photography: “I don’t mind.”
————-

“Okaaaayy!”

“He’s in the Bronx where he belongs.”

“Not today, Satan, not today.”

“Okaaaayy!”
————-

Towards the last day of filming, I walked around in a red towel because NYC got hit by a tropical rain storm and my pants had gotten wet.

Crew Member: It looks like you’re walking around in a bath house.

Me: We’re all family at this point.
————-

“Okaaaayy!”

Filming In NYC.

One of my goals for 2015 was to shoot on location. Cut to September 26th and I am landing in JFK Airport to shoot a feature film. Saturday was spent with immediate family and the BROOKLYN accents were strong, alive and representing. Quick first-day timeline for your amusement:

4:45am Running out of the building like a mad man to catch the car to the airport. I became that asshole who runs late. I guess I got caught up listening to the original Broadway cast recording of “Little Shop of Horrors” while I was getting ready.

4:47am As we drive down Hollywood Blvd., I start getting a little sad. The first thing that pops into my head is, “I’m gonna miss all the stores that sell stripper/hooker attire.”

4:55am After getting over my sadness and getting excited for my work-cation, I can’t resist the urge to log onto Lavendr and start swiping left and right. I say to myself, “Hey, you never know. Maybe I’ll find Mr. Right before I fly down to NYC.”

5:07am We pick up another passenger. Last name, Dong. I thought she said “Dung”. Look, I’ve had 3 hours of sleep each night for the last seven days…

5:12am. We’re driving south on Highland Ave. and through the beautiful neighborhood of Hancock Park. I wonder if Hancock Park resident Shonda Rhimes is up?

5:26am I have nothing to write about.

5:30am We drive into LAX. When I see the large LAX letters to my left, I think of the “Lost” episode titled “LA X”.

5:48am A cute TSA agent pats me down. This is most likely the only action I’m getting while in NYC.

5:56am I’m starving. It’s time to eat. I’m ready for the overpriced everything. Burger King is definitely not an option unless you want me shitting all the way to NYC.

5:59am I realize I’m wearing an LA hat. I’m so literal.

6am Waiting in line to purchase a water and a simple turkey sandwich. This is the best LAX can offer at the moment.

6:01am $12.81 later for a water and a simple turkey sandwich. Give me a God-damn break. Two words: Write off.

6:05am How is it possible that in 2015 there aren’t any electrical outlets to plug my iPhone into?

6:15am A two-year old cries. Please don’t be on my flight. Please don’t be on my flight. I immediately quote Frank Underwood from “House of Cards”, “I’m not going to lie. I despise children. There, I’ve said it.”

6:26am I get emotional for three seconds because the last time I flew to NYC, I did so with my ex. This time, I’m flying by myself.

6:40am Time to drop the kids off. I’m very particular. I pack baby wipes. And I’m very thorough. Very thorough.

6:55am I place a call to my mom to check in with her.

7:06am Getting ready to board the plane. We are scheduled to depart at 7:30am and arrive in NYC at 3:55pm. Upon first glance, it seems like a long flight. But it’s due to the time difference. In other words, when our plane takes off, it’s 10:30am in NYC. And the two-year old is not on this flight. Thank God.

7:15am Selfie time. One take only as I hate selfies. This picture will kick off today’s blog entry. Not bad considering I’ve been sleeping three hours each night for the past seven days…and I’m hung over (Boom!) Thank you Sayaka Miyatani for the bottle of champagne!

7:30am Time to sleep!

This is where my iPhone shifted into Central Time:

11:15am I get up to stretch my legs and use the bathroom. I walk dizzily down the aisle towards the bathroom. I am definitely hung over (Boom!)

11:32am I can’t fall back to sleep because the guy across from me is absolutely gorgeous. I’m marveling over how immaculately groomed his facial hair is. Till this day, I still don’t know how to keep my facial hair on point.

1:35pm I wake up. I guess I WAS able to fall asleep again. I fall back asleep.

This is where my iPhone shifted into Eastern Time:

3:42pm I wake up and become emotional when I see Lower Manhattan and the new World Trade Center building. I’ve never seen the magnificence of this building before in person.

3:55pm I grab my carry-on luggage and exit the plane. My brother-in-law picks me up in his fabulous BMW (I joked to him that I felt like I was receiving the Hollywood treatment by being picked up in a BMW.)

And the rest of the day was catching up with family–refer to the first paragraph 🙂

I look forward to filming on location!