To Live and Write in LA

‘Pound of Flesh’ Premiere with Jean-Claude Van Damme, Princes, and Vine Stars

(Originally published on Films don’t just premiere in Hollywood anymore. The premiere of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s new action film Pound of Flesh turned up the crazy on the red carpet as the film premiered to an audience of cast, crew, and industry insiders at the The Grove on May 7. The Grove is the […]

Making ‘The Vineyard’ for the Los Angeles 48 Hour Film Project: Lessons Learned

(Originally published on I was always told that the promulgator of Murphy’s Law worked in an Information Services department, but, now I know better – he was a filmmaker. In August of last year, I decided to enter the 48-hour Film Project – Los Angeles. The contest organizers give you a genre and a […]

The Last Days on Mars

(First published on The Last Days on Mars grabs you right at the beginning and doesn’t let go. It is a text book example of how to make a sci-fi thriller. Based on Sydney J Bounds’ 1975 short story,The Animators, the film focuses not on landing on Mars, but on the crew’s last day of a six-month […]

Anthem Film Fest – Telling the Truth Could Get You Killed

(First published on Filmmaker Reaves Washburn quoted Oscar Wilde: “Wilde said, ‘If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise, they’ll kill you.’  For us,” he continued, “that means give them good themes, peak their interest, ease people in and make it fun in every way.” Washburn, whose film Knocked Down won the short […]

LA Film Fest: When (Creative) Worlds Collide

(First published on On June 23, 2013, at the LA Film Fest worlds collided. This was no hokey sci-fi flick, but a discussion of the impact of new media on the movie industry and the art of storytelling. Hollywood and Silicon Valley Collide: Immersion, Interactivity and Narrative Expansion brought together panelists Florian Henckel Von Donnersmark (The Lives of Others, The […]

Alameda Writers Group: Everything About Screenwriting

(First published on If you left the May meeting of the Alameda Writers Group (AWG) with unanswered questions about screenwriting, it was your own fault. The featured speaker at the AWG General Membership meeting was writer, director, producer, author and UCLA instructor Tom Lazarus. AWG President Marc Cushman (Star Trek, Diagnosis: Murder) introduced Lazarus whose credits include writer/story consultant for many […]

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

(First published on Everyone agrees this is a failure of a movie. Spoilers (if it were possible to spoil this movie any more than it already is) follow. As writers and filmmakers, what lessons can we learn? Plot problems: The plot follows the formula “Hotshot FBI Agents come into town and bump heads with […]

The Independent Spirit Awards: Real Reel People

(First published on A lot goes into creating the “willing suspension of disbelief” needed for an audience to become immersed in a film and experience it — laughter, tears, fear — as “real.” The most important factor? The characters must be believable. In reviewing films to vote for in Film Independent’s Independent Spirit Awards, I watched […]

The Making of ‘Effigy’

(First published on Opening e-mail is usually pretty uneventful, but that day in August was different. I saw an ad for the “The 2nd Annual Debra Hill Fellowship presents Producers Guild Weekend Shorts Contest”. Heck of a long name for a shorts contest. I’d heard of competitions like this before and they intrigued me. The goal […]

How to Succeed in Hollywood by Really Trying

(First published on How would you like to rub shoulders with producers and directors, find out insider secrets from produced screenwriters, recruit actors and production talent, and learn how to jump start your Hollywood career? You could havedone all of this and more at the September meeting of the Alameda Writers Group in Glendale, California. The […]

Robot and Frank

(First published on   Robot & Frank shows us that a small film can be great, as can a small robot. Director Jake Schreier’s feature debut is anything but small when it comes to acting, story, and directing. The film, which takes place in the near future, is a tour de force for Frank Langella, winner […]

PopConLA: Screenwriters Panel Says ‘Don’t be the Naked Schmooze’

(First published on PopConLA, a new popular culture convention debuted July 5-8, spotlighting fantasy/sci-fi, art, music, fashion, extreme sports, and other pop-culture memes. It hosted a Screenwriters Panel as a part of a series of indie-TV-Movie events. The panel of working professionals shared their take on how to succeed in TV and Hollywood. They conducted […]

PopConLA: New Nerd Nirvana Debuts in LA

(First published on A new convention for fans of popular culture, PopConLA, debuted in Los Angeles, July 5-8. The new event describes itself as the “Popular Culture Convention, about ‘All Things Pop Culture’, including Art, Design, Fashion, Music, Xtreme Sports, and of course, Movies & TV.” The new fandom conclave ran concurrently with the International Television Festival, […]

Dances With Films: Friday was a Dead Night

(First published on Friday was a dead night at the Dances with Films film festival (now in its nineteenth year of bringing the best of the independent film world to the heart of Hollywood), but in a good way. The two “dead” films that screened that night were Dead Dad and Detention of the Dead. Dead Dad, the West Coast […]

‘You Got This’: Hollywood Filmmaking in the Suburbs

(Originally published on Cancer, a marathon, thievery and a touching story are a lot to pack into a thirty minute film. That, however, is what producer/screenwriter, and American Film Institute (AFI) grad student, Sara Hills is doing in her film, You Got This. This film is the thesis for Sara’s Masters in Fine Arts from the AFI Conservatory. […]

Q&A with ‘Cowboys and Aliens’ Scribes Mark Fergus and Roberto Orci

(Originally published on Cowboys & Aliens screenwriters Mark Fergus (First Snow, Children of Men, Iron Man) and Roberto Orci (Star Trek, Transformers, Fringe) beamed down to The Los Angeles Film School the night before Cowboys & Aliens opened to share observations about life in the warp-speed lane with students and fans. The film begins in the old west when a stranger […]

Alameda Writers Group: Power to the Writer

(Originally published on Writers, long domesticated by publishers, producers, and other men in suits, are now empowered to break through the barriers and take charge of their careers as never before. That was the message writers Jim Sorenson (Transformers Animated: The Allspark Almanac, Vol. 2 ) and Courtney Joyner (Stealing Candy) shared at the Alameda Writers Group (AWG) July general membership […]

LA Comedy Shorts Festival: If You Want it Done Write…

(Originally published on You guessed it…then you gotta do it yourself. That was the advice from show creators and writer-producers at this year’s LA Comedy Shorts Film Festival at the Downtown Independent Theater. The “write-it-yourself” panel consisted of Kevin Shinick (writer/creator/producer of Cartoon Network’s Mad and writer/creative director of Robot Chicken), Phoef Sutton (writer/exec producer of Cheers, writer/producer Boston Legal), and […]

LA Comedy Shorts Festival: Five Films, Five Styles

(Originally published on Opening night at the Los Angeles Comedy Shorts Film Festival packed the Downtown Independent Theater, 251 S. Main Street in LA’s gentrifying inner city. (Only my respect for the Fire Marshal keeps me from telling you how packed.) If you were there, you enjoyed the unique experience of watching films, sitting amongst […]

LA Comedy Shorts Festival: Do You Like My Shorts?

(Originally published on Earthquakes, war in Iraq, tsunamis, unemployment, war in Afghanistan, housing prices in the dumps, nuclear reactor meltdowns, riots in the streets, and Moammar Qaddafi in really cute sweaters: isn’t there anything in the news that can bring a smile to my face?Well, if, besides smiles, you don’t mind having to text […]

An exploration of film and filmmaking