Monday, August 29, 2011

I want to adapt "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place"

If I was ever given the opportunity to make an adaption of one's written work, it would have to be Ernest Hemingway's short story "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place." 

I first read this story my Junior year at Columbia. I remember this moment so vividly because, when I read it, I felt I could relate to the young waiter. 

Let me take a step back for a moment and give you a quick synopsis of the piece. "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" is a story of three men. One old, one middle-aged, and one young. The middle-aged and young men are waiters at a café, while the old man is merely a patron who sits, every night, in this clean, well-lighted place, and drinks. 

At first, the young waiter talks about how the old man is in despair. About how he has no respect for others, and the fact that he, himself, wishes the old man would just go home. The older waiter defends the old man and understands his need for a place to drink. Who wants to drink at home alone, right?

Well, like I said earlier, when I was college I could relate to the young waiter. I was always in a hurry and looking forward to getting on with my life. But as I get older, I start to see myself as the the middle-aged waiter. Understanding the importance of a place like this café. A place to sit, in silence, yet, in public, and drink. 

Yeah, I would love to make an adaptation of "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place." Then again, maybe one day I'll just be the old man. Who knows. Maybe. 

Anyway, if you've never read this wonderful short story by Ernest Hemingway, I really think you should. I feel it's his best work, in regards to short stories, of course. And if you don't feel like buying the book, you can always read it here. Then again, you really should buy the book. I do prefer the feel of bound paper in my hands so much more. 

So, what book would you turn into a movie if you had the chance? Let me know in the comments below. I'd love to hear what you feel deserves to make its way to the big screen.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ode to movie theme songs—Part 5: Lose Yourself

My fifth and final top fav' movie theme song has to go to Eminem's Lose Yourself—the unbelievable hit from the film 8 Mile, which also starred Eminem as the lead character. Not only did this song have a 12-week run as number one on the US Billboard Charts, but it also won the 2002 Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Written mostly during the filming of 8 Mile, Eminem cleverly depicts the story of the lead character, B-Rabbit, throughout the song. And if you've never seen the movie, you really should. It's a great flick with an outstanding performance by Eminem. It also stars one of my favorite actresses, Brittany Murphy, who's been in a ton of great movies throughout her short career. Anyone ever see the movie Freeway? It's killer.

So, if you've never seen the video for this song, check out the embedded YouTube video below. And if you've never seen the movie, jump on to Netflix and start streaming it now. Trust me, it's a great flick.

Don't forget, let me know your thoughts in the comments below. And if you haven't read my previous "ode to movie theme songs" posts click on the links below.

Part 1: Blaze of Glory
Part 2: Coo, coo, ca-choo Mrs. Robinson
Part 3: Singin' In The Rain
Part 4: Don't You (Forget About Me)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ode to movie theme songs—Part 4: Don't You (Forget About Me)

If there was ever a song that could define an era, it would have to be Don't You (Forget About Me). Featured in the cult classic, The Breakfast Club, this song would catapault The Simple Minds from a couple of New Wave pop-stars from the UK to a World-Wide phenomenon.

The thing you might not know is they didn't even write the song. It was handed to them in a bright shiny box by songwriter Keith Forsey, who also won an Oscar for Flashdance's What A Feeling.

But wait, it gets better. The Simple Minds wanted to turn it down. As far as they were concerned, Forsey had already offered it to Cy Curnin from the Fixx, Bryan Ferry and Billy Idol, all of which didn't want to do it either.

Fortunately for them, their label, A&M, encouraged them to record the song in hopes to gain popularity in the US. And what do you know, The Breakfast Club went on to be a box office hit, while Don't You (Forget About Me) propelled to being the number one song for three weeks in row in the US and around the world. Not bad for a UK band that had no leverage in America.

So, if you've never heard the song, watch the video below. And, if you've never seen The Breakfast Club, what are you waiting for? It's an 80s classic for Christ sake.

Well, thoughts? Let me know in the comments below. And if you haven't had a chance to read my other "ode to movie theme songs", check them out. You might find something new to like.

Part 1: Blaze of Glory
Part 2: Coo, coo, ca-choo Mrs. Robinson
Part 3: Singin' In The Rain
Part 5: Lose Yourself

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ode to movie theme songs—Part 3: Singin' In The Rain

What came first, the chicken or the egg? I'm not really sure, but I do know which came first between Singin' In The Rain the musical and Singin' In The Rain the song. Oddly enough, it was the song.

According to our friends at Wikipedia, Singin' In The Rain originally debuted in the movie Hollywood Revue of 1929. Now, I've never seen Hollywood Revue, mainly because I don't like musicals. But, the thing I love about Singin' In The Rain is that it's a musical that pokes fun at the transition from silent movies to "talkies".

See, the overarching premise is a war between two studios trying to get their talking picture released first. Unfortunately, Lina Lamont, a silent film star, has a voice that is high-pitched, annoying, and definitely not made for this new art of sound in pictures. One of my favorite scenes is watching Ms. Lamont struggle through her lines as she practices with a diction coach. Cracks me up every time.

Now, aside from the hilarity of this comedic musical, you can't argue that Singin' In The Rain is probably one of the most recognized theme songs in all of history (okay, that's a big statement, but you get my drift). One of the most famous scenes of this film has been parodied and popularized in mainstream culture for decades. Go ahead, check it out. Even if you've never seen the movie, I bet you're familiar with this scene.

Of course, as I said before, it's been parodied in several movies. And my favorite rendition has to be in Stanley Kubrick's genius adaptation of the book A Clockwork Orange. If you want to check it out, by all means, click here. But, if you have a sensitive stomach, you might want to pass this one by. Not me, though, I'm gonna pop that sucker in my DVD player right this second. I love that flick!

So, any thoughts regarding my third favorite movie theme song? Let me know in the comments below. And if you haven't already, check out my previous "ode to movie theme songs" when you get a chance. You might find a new fav' of your own.

Part 1: Blaze of Glory
Part 2: Coo, coo, ca-choo Mrs. Robinson
Part 4: Don't You (Forget About Me)
Part 5: Lose Yourself

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ode to movie theme songs—Part 2: Coo, coo, ca-choo Mrs. Robinson

For those of you who didn't grow up in the 60s, myself included, there was a time when studios rarely worked with recording artists to cut tracks for their films. However, during the filming of The Graduate, director Mike Nichols was so enamored with Simon and Garfunkel, his producer, Larry Turman, actually convinced Paul Simon to write three songs for the film.

Well, according to a Variety article by Peter Bart, Paul was too busy touring to write three songs, and only wrote one song about Mrs. Roosevelt, Joe DiMaggio and how time pasts. After hearing just a few notes, Mike Nichols changed Roosevelt to Robinson and a legend was born.

Now, whether this side of the story is true or not, you have to admit, it’s a pretty damn good song, even if you don’t like the folksy sounds of Simon and Garfunkel. And if you never heard the song, or watched the movie, I highly suggest checking them out. But for now, here's a nice little YouTube clip for your listening pleasure.

Now, if you have seen The Graduate, you could probably argue that a second Simon and Garfunkel song was more of the movie’s theme than Mrs. Robinson. That song would be The Sound of Silence. Again, another phenomimanl song—however, I don't believe it was written for the film. But, it did make its appearance several times in the flick, including the intro, outro and a famous pool scene that has been parodied throughout movie history.

Which movies, you ask? Oh, I don’t know, like, Old School. Yep, my favorite scene in that movie has to be when Sean William Scott shoots Will Ferrell in the neck with a dart. I laugh my ass off watching this scene. Not only is it hilarious, but they cleverly capture the essence of the pool scene in The Graduate. Brilliant!

Don't believe me? Take a look for yourself below. Enjoy!

Well, what do you think? Pretty damn sweet, right? Either way, leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts of this great film and great theme song. I'd love to hear what you think. And, if you haven't had a chance, check out my previous "ode to movie theme songs" post at the link below. Ciao for now.

Part 1: Blaze of Glory
Part 3: Singin' In The Rain
Part 4: Don't You (Forget About Me)
Part 5: Lose Yourself

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ode to movie theme songs—Part 1: Blaze of Glory

I like movies. And I like music. Yeah, who doesn't, Sergio? But there's something oh-so-wonderful when a recording artist works with a studio to create a beautiful backdrop for a film, elevating it from a mere flick to a motion picture masterpiece.

Not to be mistaken for a soundtrack—a collection of music used in a film—a movie theme song is the element that carries the story, both within the picture and throughout other mediums (i.e. radio, music videos, etc.). And, with so many theme songs being created every year, I decided to pick my top 5 favorite and share them with all of you.

My first pick has to be the song Blaze of Glory by Jon Bon Jovi for the movie Young Guns II. If you haven't seen it, or the first Young Guns for that matter, I suggest adding them both to your Netflix queue. However, I personally like the second one better than the first, which is weird because sequels rarely win my choice for best of.

Now, regardless of Young Guns II being such a great movie, its theme song is what I believe helped make it such a huge box office blow out back in 1990. I mean, come on—you have Jon Bon Jovi, at his pique, writing a song for a movie about Billy "The Kid". Bon Jovi—a man who just 4 years prior won the world over with his runaway hit Wanted Dead or Alive from the album Slippery When Wet. This classic combo didn't just happen by chance. Hell no! The marketing geniuses over at 20th Century Fox knew exactly what they were doing. And trust me, it worked. So, without further ado, I give you "Blaze of Glory".

So do you agree? Should this theme song be on my list? Comment below and let me know. And, check back later to find out my remaining four theme song favorites. Or not…it's really up to you.

Part 2: Coo, coo, ca-choo Mrs. Robinson
Part 3: Singin' In The Rain
Part 4: Don't You (Forget About Me)
Part 5: Lose Yourself

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The lonely tower

There's no story to tell here. At least not one that I can think of. But imagine what stories this tower could tell as it stands here desolate and dreary withering away to nothing.

I'm 230 miles from Chicago right now in a small town called Bitely. Yeah, Bitely, Michigan. Ever hear of it? Neither did I till my buddy asked me to head up to his cottage over 10 years ago.

We came up here this weekend to get away for a bit. You know, hang out on the lake and enjoy the rest of summer. Unfortunately, weather didn't agree with our plans. It rained all morning.

Luckily, we decided to occupy our down-poured day with a drive around the small town. Much to my delight we stumbled upon this tower. This lonely tower standing silent and still beckoning to be found.

Well, I found you lonely tower. Hope you enjoy your 15 seconds of fame. After I send this post, you'll go back to being forgotten and alone.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A long way Say WHAAAAT!?!

When it comes to books making their way to the big screen, I have to admit, there's no better author than Nick Hornby. There's something about the way he tells a story that lends itself perfectly for motion picture adaptation. Anyone who's seen the movie High Fidelity can attest to that.

If you haven't seen High Fidelity, trust me, it's a must-see. It tells the story of a middle-aged record store owner who must face the undeniable fact that he's growing up. But, far more entertaining than the main story is the quick-witted banter between Cusack and his faithful sidekick, Jack Black, who are constantly arguing about the likes and dislikes of music. No matter how many times I watch this flick, it doesn't get old.

Another Hornby fav' o' mine has to be About A Boy. Now, I'm not exactly a Hugh Grant fan, but he does do a decent job as his portrayal of Hornby's Will Lightman—a thirty something year-old slacker who's been living off the royalties of a song written by his deceased father. Once again, we find our main character struggling to come to grips with the realities of adult-hood. I guess sooner or later, you gotta grow up.

Of course, out of all of Nick Hornby's work, I have to say that the one book that stands out of the crowd, for me, is A Long Way Down. This novel takes a subject that is rarely talked about and makes it the focal point of the story—suicide. Four strangers meet on New Year's Eve atop a building known for taking one's life, and make a pact to help each other out during the harsh holiday seasons.

Now, I hope I'm not jinxing this, but rumors are abuzz that A Long Way Down will finally join its brothers in Hollywood sometime in 2012. And if this is true, I just suggest running out and getting yourself a copy of this wonderful story. I promise you, once you start reading it, you won't be able to put it down.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I hate Courier. But love Celtx.

They say the hardest part about writing is knowing what to write. As true as that may be, I think knowing how to format your writing correctly is a close second. Particularly, when it comes to writing scripts. There's so many rules and formats that if you don't follow them people won't take you seriously.

Well excuse me for not using the font Courier to write my script. I was a little busy, I don't know, crafting a masterpiece! Okay, so the things I write are not exactly masterpieces. But they have potential, right?

I remember when I first started writing, I would use Word to create a script. Then I would peruse websites like Script-O-Rama to see how to format the type. All Caps for character names, centered align dialogue, actions in parentheticals, etc. It was a pain in my butt. Sure I wanted to write like a pro, but programs like Final Draft will set you back $250 bucks. Yikes!

Then, one day, I was perusing a fellow local film producers blog (thank you Yajaira and Visual Edge) and there was my solution—Celtx! Holy Crap—an absolutely FREE script writing application. Complete with formatting tools, PDF creation, cast and crew notes, the works. I couldn't believe I was writing in Word all these years.

So if you have dreams of writing the next Citizen Kane or Gone With The Wind, do yourself a favor and get this software. Seriously, it'll let you spend more time crafting and less time formatting. Unfortunately, it won't let you do much with the font. God I hate Courier.

What the hell ever happened to the movie Rad?

Anybody who grew up in the 80s and 90s, rode a BMX bike or skateboard, and watched every BMX and skateboarding movie available, knows that we had some very cheesy films back then. And yet, I love sitting down and watching Thrashin' and Gleaming the Cube every once and while. Hell I'll even sit and watch a 14 year old Nicole Kidman wave her pubic-like hair in the wind in the movie BMX Bandits.

But I have one question. What the hell ever happened to the movie Rad?

If you don't know, and I'm sure you don't, Rad was one of the best BMX movies ever made in the 80s. It even featured a young Lori Laughlin before she made it big as Becky in Full House. Oh, you know what I'm talkin' about.

For years I've searched to find this movie on DVD. I've scoured Best Buys. I've browsed Amazon like nobody's business. But no matter what, I could never find this movie on DVD. So, in order to appease my desire to watch movies of my youth, I took the time to go to my parent's house, dig through the basement, and recover the VHS tape I owned when I was little.

Hell, I even took the time to bust out an old VCR player, connect it to my computer and turn it into an MP4 so I could watch it on my AppleTV. That's right, I'm that dedicated to the film.

So, now that all the work is done, I figured I'd share the fruits of my labor with all of those who've been dying to watch, once again, the tale of Cru Jones—a young man with the intensity and desire to win a BMX race called Helltrac!

Go ahead. Click the link and enjoy! "Rad" The Move

Things to know! First, umm, yeah, I don't think we're allowed to play this for you. But, you know what, maybe the owners of Rad will brighten up and actually sell it on DVD. Am I right, or what? Second, it'll only be up for about a week, so you better watch it now or you'll miss out. Last, but not least, because I couldn't use a licensed player, you have to deal with slow load time. Sorry about that, but if you really want to watch it, you'll have to be patient.

Monday, August 15, 2011

To me, old movies are like comfort food

When I was little I couldn't wait for Friday night. Why? Because Friday night in my household meant pizza from Papa Pizzano's and movies from Video One. Yeah, Video One—a Pre-Blockbuster, mom and pop video store that would fine you if you didn't rewind the VHS tape. Please be kind rewind, anyone?

Those were happy times for me. Not so much for my dad, though. He was the one stuck driving to pick up the pizza and then having to endure me renting Back to the Future for the hundredth time—weekend, after weekend, after weekend. He finally smartened up and bought me a copy for Christmas.

To this day I can sit down and watch Back to the Future and not get bored. As a matter of fact, when I'm sick, one of the first movies I turn on is Back to the Future. When I'm stressed out at work, I'll go home and pop it in merely to have it as background noise as I sit in front of my computer.

It's weird. There's something so damn comforting about hearing Marty McFly proclaim his ignorance to the definition of a gigawatt. Or hearing Doc Brown recount the fateful night he slipped on his toilet seat, smacked his head and envisioned the key to time travel—the flux capacitor.

Yeah, I really love that movie. As a matter of fact, I love a lot of old movies from when I was growing up. To me, old movies are like comfort food. When you're feeling blah, you can pop one in, watch the TV screen, and slip away to a time when the problems you had were so petty. So unimportant. I miss those days. I guess that's why I'll always have a copy of Back to the Future close at hand. Thank you, iPhone!

So tell me, what's your motion picture comfort food? You know you have one.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sorry beauty, I would have passed you by

It amazes me how much we miss when we don't take a moment to enjoy everything around us. It's like Ferris Bueller once said, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop to look around once and while, you could miss it."

I've always been a firm believer of that philosophy. Ever since my days at Columbia, I would spend hours sitting in Grant Park, or along Michigan Ave., watching, staring, gazing. It wasn't until after College I began to bring a camera everywhere I went to document my surroundings.

It's hard to capture the moment. You know, to snap a pic that completely encompasses everything you feel when you see something absolutely captivating. It's difficult because your eyes see something beautiful, yet, everyone around you simply walks on by.

When I walk through the city, I see art. I see shape. I see color and design. When I walk through this city, I see the work of a designer, a sculptor, an artist. Work of someone who spent hours, days, maybe even years to create. It's beautiful, really. Like the picture in this post. It's a roof. A cover. It's something that shades the ground beneath it.

But damn, when I looked up, and saw the shadows, the depth, the design, I thought it was beautiful. So I captured it. To share with you. Had I not looked up, well, sorry beauty, I would have passed you by.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Kick A Rock is now live! You can watch our videos right on our site, then "like" us on Facebook, "tweet" us on Twitter, watch us, again, on YouTube and Vimeo, if you know what Vimeo is. ;)

Either way, we hope you like what you see. And if not, well, at least give us an "A" for effort! :)

And, if you're in the neighborhood, come party with us at the Kick A Rock Launch Party at 115 Bourbon Street. We'd love to have you join the celebration.

Ciao for now!

Fail or flourish

Well, it's just around the corner. We'll be launching the site tonight, just before the launch party.

In a way, I'm not too concerned about that. You see, my drive has always been about the ideas. About the creativity. I love being creative. I love taking what's in my mind and making it tangible. Making it real.

What happens to this site once it's real, well, only time will tell. Either it'll fail or flourish. Who knows? Should be one hell of a ride, though!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Less than 48 to go...

After a very productive meeting last night I think we all feel much better, and ready to go, for the big night on Friday! I can't tell you how much better I felt when Tony, Bill, and I left Sergio's last night, then how I felt when I was wide awake by my self just 24 hours prior.

I have a tremendous amount of confidence in Kick A Rock, and in the people that are coming. Because, truthfully, they are the reason this party is gonna be an amazing night...I hope. Even before we get there, I want all of you that are coming, and all of you that have supported us, to know how much I personally appreciate it.

I also want my KAR brothers, and extended KAR family, to know that my level of gratitude to each one of you is off the charts! Thank c'mon Friday! Get here already! THIS IS IT!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Oops. My goof. Your profit!

As some of you may know, we have been beta testing the site this week for any glitches, bugs, hold ups, or random crap that may occur in the real world.  Hey, it's hard as hell to make sure websites work properly on every type of machine running several different operating systems.

Nonetheless, my one rule that I've been telling everyone, don't click the "like" button. I know it works, so whatever you do, don't click the "like" button.

Yeah, well. As I was making adjustments to one of the pages, I hovered over the "like" button, and like an idiot, I clicked the "like" button.

Oh crap! I'm logged in to Facebook. The "like" is gonna end up on my wall, then everyone's newsfeed. Then people can access the site. CRAP!

Luckily, I jumped on my profile, deleted the "like" and am now praying I caught it in time. Then again, if anyone is familiar with the "wonky-ness" of Facebook, I'm sure that my "like" will end up on someone's newsfeed.

So, if you're one of the lucky ones to find my "like" on your newsfeed, snap a screenshot, post it on our wall, and I'll personally give you $20 bucks! No joke, ask Mo, the winner of our Photo Contest last week. I'm good for it. --- Sergio

Crunch time

We're a few short days away from launching the site and I find myself full of a wave of emotions. I'm excited, nervous, anxious, concerned, pretty much every emotion you can imagine. Sergio has done an amazing job getting us ready for the site. Now it's up to me, well all of us, to make sure the party goes off as well as we hope. I'm having a hard time even sleeping, which is why I'm writing at 2AM. I just can't keep my mind off of Friday night.

I already feel like I've failed to a certain degree. I tried to call in a favor or two and bring in a top notch performance to go along with the already amazing band we have booked, Lipreader. But those favors fell through. I'm afraid we won't have the content we planned ready for the party either. I don't know, maybe it's just the pessimist in me coming to the surface, normally I stay positive and optimistic, right now I feel like Sergio a little bit.

All of this combined with some issues and concerns in my personal life have me in a place I haven't been in awhile, freaking out! I'm sure it will all work out, this party is gonna kick ass one way or another, I just wish it would get here! C'mon Friday!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Breaks and bike rides

Long day. Productive day. Took the day off work today. It's now exactly one week till the launch party. It's gonna be killer.

Then again, we have a ton of work to do. That's why I stayed home. Thank god, too. I finished tweaking 16 of our videos and I should have the beta site ready for testing by Sunday. And if all goes well, launch day will be a success.

Of course, hard work always deserves a break. So I grabbed my bike and went for a ride. I'm typing this out at my favorite spot on the lake right now. It's a small look out just around the corner from the Shedd Aquarium. Best view of the skyline if you ask me. Then again, you didn't ask me, did you. ;)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Photo guessing contest

Guess exactly what this is and I'll give you $20. No really, I'm good for it. And, go!

Dammit i'm mad!

In life, we all strive for perfection. Well, at least I "try" to strive for perfection. Unfortunately, for me, it's always a journey, never a destination.

We sat anxiously in the dark theater. Joe sat in front of me. Tony to my right. Not sure where Bill was, but that's besides the point.

It was quiet and pitch black. The anticipating beats in our hearts were almost audible in the silence of the theater.

Then, our title card lit up the screen. YES!

All went well at first. Tony appeared on the screen, sharp and majestic. Cut to a giant, beastly man shadowing our hero in the night. Enter Bill Miller, an actor of which his performance was beyond stellar. And all was right with Kick A Rock.

The sound was exquisite. The lighting, villainous.

Cue kick-ass soundtrack from our dear friends Lipreader, and we had one hell of a start to our 48 Hour viewing. 

And then…

...then came the most unsettling sound you could ever imagine (given you have a film submitted in a film festival of course). The sound of our AUDIO DROPPING.

What the hell, man! What went wrong?

Did I accidently lower it before exporting? Did rendering mess with the levels?

I don't know, but all I could hear were the barely audible lines spoken between our hero and the nemesis' henchman.


Side note: did you know that "dammit I'm mad" is also a palindrome? What's a palindrome, you ask? It's a word or phrase that can be spelled the same way forward or backward. Like mom, or evil olive. Pretty cool, right?

Okay, back to the story.


My fists clinched. My teeth gritted. AHHHH! 

Luckily! When the scene cut to INT. OFFICE, audio was back to normal. Voices could be heard. Soundtrack was something fierce. All was right with Kick A Rock again.

Well, like I said, I "try" to strive for perfection.

But, for me, it's always a journey. Never a destination.