"All the time I'm not writing I feel like a criminal." -Fran Lebowitz

Thursday, February 9, 2017

OHO - Post-Production Update

Happy February, everyone. 2016 is a distant memory. Okay, maybe not. But it is a memory. Now that the groundhog has seen his shadow and cursed us with six more weeks of winter, Tom Brady has cemented his legacy as the GOAT and sent most NFL fans cursing, and “Does he own a bathrobe?” has become a question by which we define all past and future American Presidents (Bill curses), it’s time for another update on One Hour Outcall. Briefly or otherwise, I’m hoping to keep you all posted as we progress towards having a completed film.

As I mentioned in the last update, we’ve screened a first rough-cut of the film. The creative brain trust was unanimous in feeling it was a tremendous start. I grew quite excited watching, as I realized, “Hey, this is a thing, this is coming together.” Our editor Sam Hook is working on the next cut now, as we move forward You can see from Sam’s apartment walls the roller-coaster map and index cards are shaping up the cut. We’re hoping to have that cut completed by month’s end. We’ll screen it again and that’s when we’ll start really diving down into the dirt, trying to shape it into the best movie it can be. Everyone’s pumped to keep the momentum moving on One Hour Outcall.

And this is where we need your help again. Many of you were tremendous in contributing during pre-production and principal photography to helping get One Hour Outcall into the can. Now that we’re into 2017, and have shaken off the post-2016 rust, we’re in post-production, we can see the finish line for a film we’ll be proud of, and I’m hoping you’ll be willing to asset us in reaching that finish line. I’m re-opening up our GoFundMe campaign, trying to raise $5,000 to help us complete the movie. Those dollars will go to:

-continued editing of the film, shaping it from the first cut to the final cut.

-sound design

-completing color correction, essential to establish the look that we want for the piece

-music, an underrated aspect of all movies

-preparing the marketing and publicity for the film, as we attempt to find One Hour Outcall an audience

If you’ve contributed already, know that I appreciate it, know that your help has gotten us this far, and please consider helping out just a bit more. If you haven’t contributed yet, please consider it, know that many people needed to see that One Hour Outcall was becoming a reality before they felt comfortable assisting us, and understand how grateful I’ll be. Please go over to our campaign page at and toss some change in the hat. We’re extremely close to getting there. Any amount would go a long way towards us getting this home.

Thanks for considering it.  Forget the groundhog, forget Tom Brady, forget that dude without a bathrobe. Talk to you soon.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

OHO Update - 01.18.2017

Just a brief update on One Hour Outcall.

(dramatic pause)

(trumpets blare) 

(dramatic pause)

We have a cut of the film.

It’s just the first cut. It’s only a rough cut at this point. So it’s the beginning. But when we screened it last week, even knowing that we were only just starting a process that will take time, while I watched occasionally the thought popped into my head, “Hey. Look at this. This is shaping up, here. We’re putting together a movie, here. This is becoming a thing, here.” Each part of the journey has a beginning and an ending, and watching the cut seemed somewhat like an ending and a beginning at once. A cut of One Hour Outcall exists. Another milestone reached. It’s shaping up. Watching the cut felt good.

Watching the cut felt surreal, as well. Some of you have watched our teaser trailer and commented that it’s weird to watch me onscreen. Suffice to say, it’s weirder for me than it is for you. I get trapped in my own brain that’s trapped in the actor’s brain, the actor who is me, then I remind myself that it’s me, to get out of my own head, and then I wonder, “Who’s head am I in? Mine right here, watching, or the head of the guy I’m watching, who’s me?” and then my heads are buzzing and I want a cup of chamomile tea. So I needed tea last week, for sure.

But despite the surreality, watching the cut felt good. Sam Hook, our editor, did a fantastic job and we all acknowledged, it’s a great start. The look of the film is already terrific. The tone of the scenes are unique, intricate, and compelling. The inability to judge myself aside, the performances are great. The film felt real. Not just as a piece, but as a process. It felt like another step towards creating something good and interesting and something people will enjoy. I’m proud of the work we’ve done already so far.

Again, there’s more to be done. Post-production is a process in itself. Our next step is to continue editing, shaping the film, getting it to picture lock. Then comes color correction, sound design, music, and everything else. So we’re a ways off. We still need your help. Please continue to consider contributing to the film - I’ll be renewing my pitch in a week or so to help us get to the finish line.

But it’s shaping up. It’s becoming a thing. We’re closer. Each step gets more and more exciting. I need a cup of tea.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Play due tomorrow

I've been toying with writing something along these lines for awhile. Since I'm alone this Christmas, and Christmas is the time for reflection and derivative homages to Christmas works of the past, I'm gonna buy some Jameson, drink it in moderation, and pull an all-nighter, writing this play tonight.


(BILL, 47, sits in the living room watching football on television. The TV is muted, however; Taylor Swift plays softly on the stereo. Bill wears an L.A. Kings hoodie and cargo shorts. He eats white cheddar popcorn straight out of a bag. He drinks Jameson Irish Whiskey out of a 7-Eleven coffee cup. Three cats (gray WALTER, orange LOUIS CK, and black VICKY) mill about. Pause. Suddenly! WHOOSH! A FLASH of BRIGHT LIGHT. A loud POP! A BOY (17 years old) appears in the living room. He wears khakis, a blue Oxford, a red knit tie (poorly knotted), and an ill-fitting blue sportcoat. He looks at BILL.)
BOY: Jesus Christ.
BILL: Jesus Christ!
BOY: ...not as fat as I thought, I guess.
BOY: ...still fat, though. Jesus Christ.
BILL: Jesus Christ!
(The BOY loosens his tie and retucks his shirt in his khakis.)
BOY: Nope. Right day. Wrong story parody.
BILL: What?
BOY: Merry Christmas.
(BILL finishes his cup of whiskey.)
BILL: Jesus Christ.
BOY: Nah. Not him. (quote fingers) Not "Him."
BILL: Not him.
BOY: I'm you.
(Boy looks around.)
BOY: Sorry if I woke everybody up.
BOY: Where's your family?
BILL: Billy?
BILLY: (nods) What tipped you off, the nose? Noses can't get fat, I suppose. Unless you're an alcoholic, I guess. Wait - you better not be an alcoholic.
BILL: You're me - Billy?
BILLY: I'm serious, you better not be-
BILL: I'm not an alcoholic-
BILLY: SWEAR you're not an alcoholic.
BILL: Hey, shut up. Definitions are constantly changing.
BILLY: Asshole.
BILL: How old are you? Am I?
BILLY: Where's your wife? It's like midnight. Shouldn't you guys be putting gifts under the tree for your kids and cutting each other down, like our parents-
BILL: How old are you, me?
BILLY: 17. Hold up. Where's your tree?
BILL: This isn't my house. I'm housesitting.
BILLY: You're housesitting with your wife? With your family? That's weird.
BILL: I don't have-
(The orange cat, LOUIS CK, ambles through the room. He ignores both BILL and BILLY and moves to the kitchen. Pause.)
BILLY: (evenly) Fuck, is that.
BILL: Louis CK.
BILLY: (evenly) Fuck, is a Louis CK.
BILL: He's a comedian.
BILLY: That, is a cat.
BILL: No, he's NAMED after a comedian, named Louis CK. You're gonna really like him.
BILLY: I don't like, CATS.
BILL: You like comedians.
BILLY: But I don't like, CATS. You're not housesitting. You're CAT-sitting.
BILL: Well, you will gain an appreciation for some things you didn't use to like as you mature, Billy.
(BILLY wanders around the living room, checking pictures, looking.)
BILLY: ...gain the expense of what? A wife? A family? Dignity?
BILL: Well-
(BILLY holds up a hand, quieting BILL. He points to the ceiling)
BILLY: (re: stereo) Fuck is this?
BILL: (pauses) Taylor Swift.
BILL: You gain an app-
BILLY: I'm going to murder you.
BILL: She's good-
BILLY: I'm going to murder YOU, so I can put ME-
BILL: No, seriously, she's pretty-
BILLY: -out of MY misery. OUR misery.
BILL: You don't even know her-
(BILLY holds up a hand, quieting BILL. Pause.)
BILLY: You and I need to talk.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

OHO - GoFund Me Campaign update

Last night we held the cast/crew wrap party for ONE HOUR OUTCALL. It's tough to coordinate everyone's schedules during the holidays, and so being held on a Tuesday night, it was a somewhat sedate affair. But it was great to get most of the people who worked on the film in the same place one last time for a while - the next time perhaps will be when we screen the film. Everyone who worked on the movie was terrific, but especially the cast, who each brought amazing talent, energy, and professionalism to the project. They made ONE HOUR OUTCALL what it will be...

...and they all are getting paid. Though it may seem like a small thing, I'm very proud of that fact. I'm trying to make ONE HOUR OUTCALL as professional as I can for a guerilla, independent, ultra-low-budget film, and to me paying the cast is part of that. Actors in L.A. work so very hard on so many projects, and often they're doing it gratis - so I tried my best to make sure their work got rewarded here.

With that in mind - there are a few days left in this GoFundMe campaign, and if you're inclined to contribute, it sure would help us get ONE HOUR OUTCALL to the finish line. We're almost there. I understand that it's the holidays and, like free time, cash is hard to find for everyone. But any amount would assist us in making the film the best it can be, and as professional-grade as it can be. Thanks for considering it. -billy

Friday, December 9, 2016

OHO - Principal Photography Update

It’s over.

Well, it’s not over, of course. It’s not anywhere near being over. There are many, many steps left before ONE HOUR OUTCALL is finished. We’ve got to edit the footage, color correct, fix sound issues…not to mention when that’s over, actually go out and try to figure out a way to get people to actually see the thing. So no, it’s not over. There’s an argument to be made that it will NEVER be over, not totally…

But production is over. Principal photography for ONE HOUR OUTCALL is over. And it feels good.

During the shoot, I got a lot of ribbing for seeming uptight, for not relaxing, for rarely smiling. It prompted me to post on Facebook one night, “Yo, I smile when things get done, yo.” It’s true; part of my notion of having fun is getting things done. I can appreciate that perhaps I need to lighten up a bit (or considerably), but part of the enjoyment for me is the notion that things are moving forward, that I’m making progress, that a creative project I’m involved in is coming to fruition. That’s not to say I have ZERO enjoyment of the process; I do. But part of the pleasure for me is knowing that I’m making my way towards actually finishing something. After so many years of merely talking about stuff and not doing much, now it’s become not only about doing much but finishing much.

ONE HOUR OUTCALL was shot over twenty-three days. Twenty-three days to shoot a 138-page script, 100 of those 138 pages shot in fourteen days. Twenty-three days with a fantastic cast that gelled quickly, knew their stuff, and brought the talent and insight to the script. Twenty-three days, most of which with a crew of the great, award-winning director T. Arthur Cottam, his (and my) right-hand man Jim Eshom, and makeup artist Shayna Madison. A 140-page script shot in just over three working weeks with a crew of essentially three.

That is amazing. It would be amazing even if the product DIDN’T look great. But with T., Jim, and Shayna’s work, along with the work of on-set editor Sam Hook who was cutting and assembling as we went, we think the final product WILL look great. The trailer Sam cut certainly looks great:

If you haven’t taken a look yet, please do and consider making a contribution to our GoFundMe campaign:

Because while production is complete, of course we’re not done, and we could use your help. ONE HOUR OUTCALL is shaping up to be a unique, intriguing film. I’m extremely proud of it already. Even if it’s not done.

Before he left the night we wrapped, T. looked at me and said, “Now the hard part begins.” He’s right. It’s not over. But it feels good and feels better with each new step forward.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

OHO - Mid-Point Update

Today was a day off.

Yesterday we completed the second week of shooting on One Hour Outcall. We’ve done six-day weeks, in one location in downtown Los Angeles, just me and my co-star in a funky church-turned-apartment. We’re shooting day-for-night, so the windows are blacked out. The neighborhood where we’re shooting is, to put it charitably, a dystopian nightmare, so when I emerge outside after each day’s completed, it’s dark and spooky and depressing. The scenes we shoot melt together, the election seems light years in the past, and I’ve lost track of what time of day or even what day it is. During the day, it doesn’t seem like it’s tiring work. Then I walk outside to the car after the day’s wrapped, and I’m exhausted. It’s a good kind of fatigue, but it’s fatigue. 

But today was Sunday, and a day off. Technically, a day off. Because when you’re making a micro-budget independent film, relying on a crew of four, without a car in L.A., even days off are not days off. I spent the day walking around the Valley, running errands, picking up props, sending emails, preparing for when we move to the next location. Our time in the church/apartment ends Tuesday, and though we’ll be off for essentially four days through Thanksgiving, we’re in a restaurant next Sunday night. Independent film production seems like laying down train tracks as quickly as you can before the locomotive runs off into the sand. So even Sundays aren’t Sundays.

What I realized, however, was that we’ve shot 12 days. We’re scheduled to shoot 23. That means theoretically, principal photography for One Hour Outcall is more than halfway complete. Which amazes me.

We’re getting there. And we’re having fun doing it. Now, I’ve made a conscious decision that no one needs my neurotic ass looking at the footage as we go, so this isn’t first-hand knowledge, but our director, line producer, and on-set editor seem to be pleased. I feel more comfortable every day, and my co-star and I are connecting, professional, and efficient. It will be interesting next week, when the rest of the cast joins us. A different dynamic, perhaps, but more people to enjoy the fun.

We’re getting there. And it’s exciting. And it’s worth “working” on Sunday. Though I’m not going to lie, four days off for Thanksgiving aren’t going to be bad, either.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

OHO - Project Update 11.05.2016

Autumn, 1986. New York. Early into my senior year, I was walking east on 86th Street one day after school. I walked past a movie theater.

I can’t recall where I was going. I was on the north side of 86th, so I wasn’t headed towards the Lexington Av. subway station. I wasn’t on my way home. Maybe I was in search of a slice, a gourmet hot dog at Papaya King, or perhaps I was in search of an Upper East Side bar with a progressive attitude towards carding teenagers. Who knows? After three years of high school, I had finally gotten over feeling intimidated by New York City and would wander when I could…

The chances are excellent that as I passed the theater, I was listening to the Beastie Boys’ “Licensed to Ill” on a Sony Walkman the size of a dictionary…*

*Nah,checking Wikipedia, that seminal album wasn't released until November. Suspend your disbelief for the purposes of this essay, please. Ooh, ooh, let's say I was listening to their pre-"Ill" single "She's On It"! That works!

Anyway, as I passed by the movie theater (United Artists? Those are gone, yes? That one is, I know) on 86th just west of Lex, I noticed a television mounted on a tall stand playing in the outside foyer. On it was a tiny, black man wearing a Georgetown Hoyas tank top, gargantuan Cazale glasses that made his eyes seem huge, and a bicycle hat, bill turned up. He was sputtering patter rapid-fire. “Do you know? Do you know? Do you know?” the man repeated, bobbing his face close to the camera lens. It was a commercial, a minute or so long. I watched it again; the man’s name was Mars Blackmon. He was promoting a movie. Mars was a character in the movie. The film, like the commercial, was in black-and-white, the footage crisp, Mars’s patter braggadocios and hilarious. It was 1986. I was a suburban white kid. It’s fair to say I had never seen anything like what I was watching on a loop. I watched it three or four times. I decided to go in and check out the movie the man was selling.

Ninety minutes later, I emerged from the theater with a new dream.

The man hawking in black-and-white was Spike Lee. The film I saw was SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT. And the dream was that perhaps one day I too could make a movie.

After I had seen the movie three or four times at that same theater, I read up on SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT. Spike Lee made the movie for approximately a nickel and a dime and with fifteen cents spawned the independent film boom.

SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT was like being shown the world was actually possible to me. Up until then, movies were either summer blockbusters with spacecraft and Muppets or abstract puzzles inaccessible to me that starred David Thewlis. SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT was different. It was a beautiful, funny film about people who you didn’t see in movies back then. It’s revolutionary in that respect, and I recognized it at the time. More importantly to me, though, it was about things I could relate to, things I was interested in, made by someone who liked what I liked. 

As a teenager, I somehow felt I might want to be an artist someday, but wasn’t positive I had the resumé. Artists were from exotic lands with tortured backstories. Artists were Truman Capote or Edith Wharton or Ralph Ellison or Pablo Picasso. I figured artists weren’t kids who grew up in suburban New Jersey following college basketball and whose biggest pain was having parents who didn't believe in Atari.  

I wasn’t sure I had PERMISSION to be an artist.

The Beastie Boys began to change that assumption in my mind. They made funny lyrics about TV reruns, Budweiser, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. They created art that was entertaining, significant, GOOD, and they did it with material that was pedestrian and every day and LIKE ME. “Licensed to Ill” holds up today; it’s undeniably revolutionary*. It’s a classic piece of art that talks about things that existed in my world. (goes to iPhone, puts on “New Style”)

*Except “Fight for Your Right (To Party)”. That song sucks and always has.

SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT doesn’t quite hold up for me now. I watched it a year or so ago, and it’s still funny but the performances aren’t great and it's a little retrograde with some of its ideas. (I understand the same could be said about “Licensed to Ill, ” but people who do are ignoring the parody aspect of it, and should kindly shut up) In 1986, however, SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT not only entertained me but gave me the notion that a typical guy with common interests could create art that showed those common interests in a meaningful way. The photography is fantastic, the subject matter is one I’d never been exposed to in 1986, and it is still funny. The movie is cinematically unique and groundbreaking, but it also has a scene where people play Scrabble and another where two characters argue about the relative merits of Larry Bird. I played Scrabble. I hated Larry Bird (in 1986, I did).

Wait, I asked myself at seventeen-years-old. Were you allowed to create art about that shit?

It’s not a stretch to say that Spike Lee and the Beastie Boys somehow gave me the permission I needed to WANT to be an artist.

Now. It took a long time from wanting to be an artist to putting in the work, discipline, confidence, and tenacity to BEING an artist. Perhaps the jury’s still out on that one. I still struggle with saying, “I’m an artist.” I’ve written some plays and a novel, and periodically I catch myself and say, “Oh, yeah. I’m a novelist.” During that progression, however, my inference from Spike Lee and SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT has been borne out. Being an artist doesn’t mean having to have some esoteric, exotic background or any one-in-a-million heartbreak and pain. Any background can be mined for art, and any heartbreak or pain will do. I’ve written some things, I’ve acted in some things, and I’ve written some more things. I like to think I’ve developed a voice, and a style, and a skin tough enough to endure the invariable heartbreak that continues when you put your art into the world. But I’d never tried to make a feature film.

Monday morning I begin production on ONE HOUR OUTCALL, an independent feature film whose screenplay I wrote. I am co-producing it. I will also be acting in it. I would argue that this is coming way too late in my life if there is such a thing. But for whatever reason, be it laziness, fear, distraction, I’m trying to do it now. I’m nervous, anxious, terrified, and convinced that any expression of confidence would be hubris. But I’m also excited.

We’ll see what happens. ONE HOUR OUTCALL may not work. It may never be finished. It may be finished and then disappear. Whatever. I love the cast and crew we’ve assembled, and I enjoy doing the work. It’s hard. It’s often frustrating. It feels right, however.

And while I wouldn’t be opposed to one day hawking it on a television commercial outside a theater, it’s enough to me now that I feel permitted to try to do it at all.

Wish us luck.