TV and Movies Archive

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S1E1, We Just Decided To – My Thoughts Exactly

I worked in a newsroom not too long ago. Only it was called “The War Room” in my case. It wasn’t for a televised news show like Atlantis Cable News, but for the Queens Chronicle, the most widely read and distributed print newspaper in Queens.

I’ll never forget the day that the paper’s editor-in-chief approached me and said that he wanted me to front a story for their website about Congressman Weiner’s expected resignation later that day. The E.I.C. gave me a press release that was still hot off the printer and asked me to get on it. What ensued was an experience not far from the one I just witnessed in the first episode of The Newsroom.

In my case, preparing a story with such little notice was fairly easy, mainly due to the fact that Weiner had already made various statements and remarks about his situation. In the case of the oil drilling explosion and spill off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico in the first episode of The Newsroom, this was not so. Everyone had to work together as one efficient machine, no matter what people’s views were or how they felt about one another. They had to get along (or at least respect one another to some degree) to get the job done. Once the realized that, the pieces of the story almost fell into place by themselves.

The Newsroom perfectly portrays life in a bustling news room. Go figure!

The Newsroom perfectly portrays life in a bustling news room. Go figure!

In the beginning of the pilot episode, Will McAvoy (played by Jeff Daniels, whom I felt a special connection to after recently visiting Gettysburg, PA and seeing him play the roll of Colonel Chamberlain in Gettysburg) admits that the United States is not the best country in the world; it’s far behind in so many areas, but just like it was the greatest country in the world at one point in time, it can be again. Unfortunately, McAvoy chooses to say this after cursing out liberals and conservatives during a political debate (as well as a “college frat girl”).

Viewers experience the debate in McAvoy’s point of view, which is achieved by having the camera rack in and out of focus on both sides of the debate floor while seeing McAvoy rub his temples and roll his eyes. Debates can often times be disorienting and hard to sit through, especially when childishness and name-calling is involved. This is how I sometimes feel during political debates involved presidential candidates, political parties, etc, so I was immediately able to associate with McAvoy. He didn’t have to say how he was feeling about the debate for people to understand that he doesn’t believe there’s any point to the automatic gainsaying of any statement the other person/party/candidate makes (even though he goes on to do so a few minutes later).

Despite these facts, McAvoy’s main point is clear. Viewers start off wondering how McAvoy feels about the whole debate situation, then are confronted by an outburst of full-on rage (incited by a pugnacious debate moderator, might I add), and then are introduced to a caring, nostalgic, and somewhat mourning side of the man. Unfortunately, the media and his co-workers/employers twists his words and choose what part of his speech they want to listen to. For a majority of the rest of the episode, McAvoy feuds with Charlie Skinner (ACN news division president) and Don Keefer (the former executive producer of McAvoy’s show) about the direction of the show and the introduction of a new executive producer (which viewers find out is McAvoy’s ex-girlfriend). It’s only when, as mentioned before, the oil spill story surfaces that the team is forced to work together and put aside their differences for the good of the show and out of respect for the men and women who lost their lives in the explosion.

Despite their differences, the team learns that the show must go on.

Despite their differences, the team learns that the show must go on.

The main reason that this pilot episode works so well is because of its cleverness and likeliness to the work of George Orwell. In Animal Farm, Orwell uses various farm animals to make a sociopolitical and psychological statement about the nature of Soviet Russia after WWII. In “We Just Decided To,” Aaron Sorkin (the show’s creator) uses the colorful cast of a broadcast television newsroom to represent the state of the government in US and how things could be if people worked across to the aisle. This cast works in other realms of thought like racial stereotyping (the tech guy) and office relationships/love triangles (Don, Maggie and James), but it shines overall as a show that wants to get right to the point and get the work done.

Minus parts of the show that slow down the action just a tad towards the middle (like MacKenzie’s introduction back into the world of the news room and awkward bouts of tension between Don and James), I think this episode well deserves a 4.5/5 rating!

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By the way, this is a link to the article I eventually produced at the QC–just in case anyone is interested: QChron Weiner Resigns

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Losing Focus Movie Premiere

Losing Focus, a short film that I’ve been working on with fellow filmmaker Rosaria Cariola for a little over one year, finally premiered on December 16 at my alma mater, Christ the King Regional High School in Middle Village, Queens. I wanted to post about this sooner, but Sandy recovery, final exams and the holiday season are all been reasons why I haven’t been able to.

The premier started off with a quick “thank you for coming speech” and a short synopsis of the film everyone was about to watch. Losing Focus is the longest film that I’ve ever acted in, lasting over 30 minutes in runtime. It was pretty enjoyable to sit in an auditorium filled with well over 100 people and watch them as they watched our film–I don’t think there’s any other better feeling in the world than physically seeing others enjoy the work that you create/you’re a part of.

For those of you who weren’t able to make it to the premeire, you can visit the official Losing Focus Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/LosingFocus?fref=ts.You can also view some behind the scenes and promotional videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/LosingFocusMovie, and you can watch the official trailer for the film right here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYZE6PyB73E

If your Like the Facebook Page, you’ll be kept in the loop on future web release information and how you can see the film or get a hold of a DVD copy of the film! Hope you all enjoy the content that’s available online already! =u)

Four of the five cast members and the co-directors, co-writers and co-producers of Losing Focus on stage at Christ the King Regional High School.

Four of the five cast members and the co-directors, co-writers and co-producers of Losing Focus on stage at Christ the King Regional High School.

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One Final 2012 Update–Happy New Year!

‎2012… What to say?

It’s been the worst of times and the best of times, at least in my opinion.

I could recap all the bad things that have happened in the past few months, but I don’t feel it’s necessary. What I do feel is necessary is talk about the GOOD of 2012: communities coming together, people volunteering more often, a nation working hard to rebuild and recover from a poor economic state, the breaking of dozens of records (like the highest free fall ever from space), the world NOT ending, and of course, the release of Gangnam Style. We’ve all survived a lot, and it’s good to know that we’re going into this new year together.

God Bless you all, God Bless the United States of America, Happy New Year to you and your families, and enjoy my last “new” film of 2012 (it’s something that was never finished, but deserves to be seen). I’ll see you all on the far side!

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Merry Christmas to All! I bring tidings of a new short film!

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you have a fantastic holiday with friends and family–I think everyone deserves some cheer right about now (after all of the bad things that have happened in the past few months). I’d also like to give a big “Happy Birthday shout-out” to one of my main men, Jesus (that was pretty corny, I know). Can’t forgot about the man who made this holiday possible.

My sincere wishes of good tidings, comfort and joy go out to each and every one of your families and friends, as well as to the many families and friends of those who were not fortunate enough to be able to be here today. It’s sad to say, but I keep praying and hoping that all us NYers, NJersites and CTites will be back on out feet strong and better than ever soon.

As my gift to everyone who sees this page and/or reads my blog, here’s a short film that my friend Andre and I made before he left for USMC bootcamp at the beginning of November. I was made with Halloween in mind, but Hurricane Sandy made sure that THAT didn’t happen, so it’s our gift you today. Enjoy, and please share if you like!

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS,

AND GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILIES. 

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“One Way” Goes Live as Fall 2012 Semester Ends

Today, December 21, marks the official end of my third semester at college (not to mention the end of the Mayan calendar cycle). Things have been going very well so far, and I’ve only had issues with two of the classes I’ve taken in the past! All in all, not a bad first third of college, haha.

This date also marks the announcement of one of my newest short films, One Way. I wrote, directed and edited it, all for my Film Production 1 class at Brooklyn College. I originally had larger plans for it (I wanted to shoot over the span of two days to get lots of coverage and a few extra scenes), but Hurricane Sandy prevented me from doing that. Regardless, I’m very proud of the way it came out, and I’m even more proud that I can call it a film and know that’s what it is–it was shot on a 16mm Bolex film camera.

I sincerely hope you all enjoy the film. Please SHARE it with your friends, and LIKE my production company’s Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/PassingPlanesProductions.

 

UPDATE (12/22): One Way is now live and available to watch on Vimeo! Enjoy.

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Revolution Kicks Off the Fall 2012 TV Premiere Lineup

Well it’s that time of year again, folks! Time to review and discuss the new television shows airing this season. This year, we’re beginning with Revolution. Now please keep in mind that in previous years, too many shows have come and gone in one season leaving viewers with strong senses of dissatisfaction and confusion (two prime examples being The Event and Alcatraz). So it’s important to know that I don’t feel that any reviewer/critic should show mercy for any show this fall. If they’re not good, they’re not going to last.

As Revolution’s pilot episode kicks off, viewers are introduced to the Matheson family, headed by Ben and Rachel. Rachel is played by Elizabeth Mitchell, who played Juliet Burke on LOST, so it’s awesome that her husband’s name is Ben. As Ben runs into his house to warn his wife and brother that “everything is about to turn off,” everything turns off. All lights, cars, phones, TVs, computers, planes, etc. Seeing all of this happen in a matter of seconds was actually really eerie, and the dozens of planes that fell out of the sky immediately sucked me into the action. I was ready for one hell of a pilot.

One of NBC’s new shows for the Fall 2012 TV season.

 

Flash forward a mere fifteen years, and Ben, Danny and Charlotte are living in a Terra Nova-esque village (according to Ben’s outburst at his daughter, his wife was killed years ago) without any power. Not only do the village, clothing and location remind me of Terra Nova, but they also remind me of the towns from Firefly (another one season show that got cancelled way too soon). Anyway, as soldiers of the Monroe Republic show up searching for Ben solely because they “have orders to do so,” Danny pulls out a crossbow to try and protect his father. Unfortunately, he just ends up starting a large-scale brawl with the soldiers, getting his father killed, and being taken by the militia. Charlotte hears the gunfire and returns from a trip outside of the town gates. Unfortunately for her, she just finds that her father is dead and her brother has been taken. As she cries over her father’s dead body, there’s a certain lack of emotional connection between the audience and the people onscreen. We’ve only seen them on screen for a few minutes, so I don’t understand why we would want to cry with them or even feel their pain. They’re not bad people, we just don’t know them at all yet.

Later in the pilot, Danny frees himself from the wagon he’s being transported in. He runs off into the woods and ends up having an asthma attack. Fortunately for him, there’s a woman who lives close by that just happened to have had a son who also had asthma (what happened to her son remains a mystery). After forcing him to tell her what he was running from, the woman supplies Danny with a pump for his asthma. Unfortunately, the Monroe militia arrive just a few scenes later after having tracked Danny to the woman’s house. The militia finds that Danny is being housed there and captures him a second time.

Some of the awesome visuals seen in the pilot episode, “Blackout.”

 

As all of this is happening to Danny, Charlotte and her “sort-of stepmother” Maggie head out searching for Ben’s brother (Miles) who’ll “know what to do,” according to Ben’s dying words. They also bring along some entertainment in the form of Aaron, Ben’s former friend whom the audience knows nothing about except that he used to work at Google. After a run-in with some angry rebels and a random soldier named Nate Walker (who we later learn is actually a member of Monroe’s militia, a very predictable plot twist), Charlotte, Maggie and Aaron try to recruit Miles to come with them and search for Danny. Miles doesn’t want to join them, and he proves that they’re foolish people to expect everyone to be kind-hearted by showing that Nate is a traitor (he spots one of Monroe’s militia burn marks on his arm). Nate runs off to warn the militia as Miles throws Charlotte, Maggie and Aaron out of his Chicago bar, but it turns out that they never really left because they come to help Miles when he’s attacked by the militia (again, very predictable).

After an intense musket/sword/crossbow battle takes place in one of Chicago’s old hotels, Miles agrees to travel with Charlotte, Maggie and Aaron. (Just as a side note, that “intense battle” was pretty ridiculous. And I mean that as a bad ridiculous. Not only did Monroe’s militia not know how to shoot with muskets, but they just stood around as Miles sliced them all in half. It’s one of those guilt pleasure battles where you know there’s no way it’d happen in real life, but you still watch it because it’s pretty awesome). As the three set out to search for Danny and whatever secrets Ben might have been keeping from them, we cut back to the woman who helped Danny. Now alone, she enters a secret room in her house where she has a small device (which is identical to one we saw Ben handling in the beginning of the episode before the fifteen year flash forward) that’s apparently able to provide power to it’s surroundings. She logs onto a makeshift computer and begins communicating with someone, letting them know that Monroe’s militia visited her house today. After she leans back in her chair and we get a good look at the little computer that’s being powered by the small device, the pilot ends.

The cast posing on the hotel stairs where Miles’ insane battle takes place.

 

Here’s the biggest problem with Revolution for me: that fifteen year flash forward! Right at the beginning of the show when we saw a montage of all electrical devices failing, I thought that was insanely creative. Since our world has come to depend on electronic devices, it’s mind-blowing to think what we would do with electricity. That’s what the show’s story should have been about: how the power went out, how things slowly failed, and all the ways the world changed because of it. Instead, the show seems to be obssessed with focusing on a family story (again, exactly like Terra Nova) and how the brother and sister are going to reunite. There were only a handful of people in the pilot who even mentioned the power going out, and that’s a big problem. That should have been the main focus of the show, not a flash forward into family life in the powerless 2030s.

I feel that the show has some amazing visuals and a truly awesome, creative idea that’s driving it, but it’s moving in the wrong direction. Instead of following the Matheson’s fifteen years after the power went out, it should be following the Matheson’s fifteen minutes after the power went out. Why the blackout happened isn’t going to be enough to validate a second season for this show, but unfortunately, I don’t believe the show will change. Like I said from the start, I’m only pessimistic because of the great number of shows that have failed in the past two years, but it looks like Revolution is going to be added to that list. Maybe if it the show can find a way to combine the blackout and all its mysteries with the “flash forward story,” it will continue to air. But if it can’t get its story straight and becomes another uninteresting family drama set in an apocalyptic world… all I’ll say is that we better find out what caused the power to go out before that happens.

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My 50th Short Film Has Arrived!

I’m extremely proud to announce that my 50th short film, Trunked, has officially released on Vimeo and YouTube!

Trunked follows the story of three friends that take a fishing trip upstate. They expect to take a little break from life and enjoy themselves for the day, however after certain perilous events ensue, they realize that not all friendships can survive the transition from high school to college.

This film is by far my greatest achievement in independent filmmaking. It took me about four months to draft, finalize and perfect the scrip in my Screenwriting I class at Brooklyn College (this is also the first film I’ve ever written a complete script for), and then another two months to shoot and edit everything. This was also the first short film I’ve shot with my new professional HD video gear.

For these reasons, I consider Trunked a learning experience above all. Making an indie short is not easy, and I learned a lot about the process with this film. Gathering actors, matching up schedules, securing locations, notifying the public about what you’re doing and dubbing audio in the editing process are not easy tasks.

I don’t consider Trunked a masterpiece in independent filmmaking. It’s cheesy, a little corny, and a bit slow for my standards, but there is a LOT of thought that went into this film, and I couldn’t be more proud. I guarantee that if you watch it twice, you’ll notice things you didn’t notice the first time.

I hope you enjoy my work, and please, please share the short film on Facebook, Twitter and/or whatever social networking platforms you use. Thank you very much. Making movies wouldn’t be any fun if you fine men and women didn’t watch them. =u)

 

 

Also, in case you’re interested, we made a short little video log about the day we shot upstate in Bedford, NY. We were up there all day getting the prefect shots at and around my uncle’s house.

 

And last but not least, stay tuned for a full-length commentary by yours truly and the actors/crew. =u)

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Trunked Teaser Trailer

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m extremely proud to present to you the teaser trailer for my upcoming short film this summer, Trunked!

I couldn’t be more excited to get together with all of these wonderful people and make this bad boy happen. As a “blog exclusive,” I’ll tell you all a little bit about the people behind this short film.

It’s written, directed and edited by yours truly. And I think you know enough about me.

The other stars, Eric Kramer and James O’Connor, are Christ the King alumni who were involved in CK Broadcasting and CK Musical Theater. We’ve known each other since the beginning of high school, and both of these guys love acting. Just like me, they couldn’t be more excited to get started on this.

The camera operator, Andre Aspirany, is my childhood friend. We’ve known one another for over nine years now, and we’ve been making movies for over five. If you haven’t already, check out our YouTube channel to watch some of our stuff. Andre is very passionate about making films, but his life goals lie with our country, the United States of America. Andre is going to be shipping out for training with the US Marine Reserves in a few months. Needless to say, I’m extremely proud of him!

The music composer, Jessica DiMari, is a fellow student at Brooklyn College. After meeting her this year and learning that she was a fellow LOST fan, I knew that I’d definitely enjoy working with her! She’s a student at the BC Music Conservatory, and the pieces she’s already written are absolutely terrific. Naturally, I can’t wait to see what she’ll create for this film.

Besides these main people, there are a few others that are going to be involved in the film in some way, shape or form. We plan to start shooting in a few weeks (towards the end of June or beginning of July), and with any luck the film will be done by August. I hope that you all share the teaser trailer for all to see, as well as my production company’s Facebook page. See you soon, bruthahs and sistas!

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A summer update short

Hello everyone!

Yestarday, my friend Andre and I made a short video in which we described our plans for Summer 2012. As some of you may know, I recently launched my own production company, Passing Planes Productions, so I’ve been trying to get people to like our page on Facebook. If you haven’t already done so, please visit the page at facebook.com/PassingPlanesProductions and LIKE/SHARE it.

As for the update video, I’m linking it below for all to see. It was uploaded to YouTube and Vimeo, so take your pick!

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Passing Planes Productions Facebook Page officially launched

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m proud to announce the launch of the Passing Planes Productions Facebook page! After months of deliberation, I’ve chosen a name for my own Howard Beach-based production company. Now, it’s up to you to like and share it. CHECK OUT THE FACEBOOK PAGE HERE!

The working title card for Passing Planes Productions.

I plan to write more notes on the page about the history of the name, future projects in the works, and things of that nature. Please stay tuned in for more information, and please share the page with all your friends! That step is VERY important, as you can imagine.