Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A lot happens in 112 days

My plane ride back home made it a perfect time to catch up on some much needed blogging.

It has been three months since my Dad passed away.

It's so hard to explain what these 112 days have felt like, because honestly, I've felt so much.

Leaving my Mom and sister in our new home, to leave for my home, was not easy. They didn't move into a new place, but it is obviously just different now. I was left to be the man of the house, but...from afar?

My sister was starting her senior year in high school, my mom was starting a new job, two actually as she is now also the main provider of the household.

I got back home to LA and had to take a week to I was due to return to ALADDIN, but I wasn't ready, even after it being almost three weeks since Dad passed. Coming back was strange. There was a lot to get done, with one of my movies gaining steam, but I needed time still. I had been good about keeping to my responsibilities from afar, but I was back now and things were different. I felt differently. I held a higher regard for certain things that I'd mostly taken for granted. Who knows if that is even fair to say, because I wasn't really in a position to be, "aware" until now. I took the week and went on hikes, got a massage, be around Erin, my cat & dog and just relax. I needed it.

I started to really take notice of things that previously were bothering me and I addressed them. Personal things, but mostly professional things. For me, I'd just lost the person that was the biggest advocate of, "family time" and I was not going to let smaller, petty things continue to eat at me. I'd address them and if that meant going in a different direction, so be it. Time is precious. I'm still sorting those things out, but I feel loads better as a result.

MADISON COUNTY had been accepted to World Premiere at the famous Grauman's Chinese as part of the prestigious Screamfest Horror Film Festival and it was time to take the charge.

Last year, Eric, Erin and I attended one night and I made two promises. One to Eric, that the next year, we'd be in it for MC, and to Erin, the next year we'd be walking the carpet.

I tend to be an extremist at times. Sometimes I carefully plan and attack, but mostly, I am driven by instinct, passion and my heart.

This has gotten me into trouble, but I cherish it more times than not as it's lead to a lot of great things. I like being impulsive and doing spontaneous things, sometimes it saves you from nerves getting the best of you. The night before my 28th birthday I decided go jump from a plane. 30 days before the event, without proper training, I rallied a team of soldiers to tackle the Tough Mudder (10+ miles of obstacles designed by British Special Forces in the mountains of Big Bear). I can go on and on. This festival was going to take 20% planning and 80% instinct/passion. After all we didn't have time to wait. To be fair, I had been doing tons of work for over a year now for the film, but my next promise to my team was that we were going to sell this event out and get an encore screening.

As much as getting ready for the festival could serve as a distraction for my recent loss, it also served as a reminder, because every little achievement, every bit of news or any success was something I wanted to share with Dad.

It also was time for Football season to kick in, a sport I grew up with thanks to Dad. The last seven or eight years I really got INTO it, calling Dad on Sundays to talk about the game, or to see if he just saw a recent touch down. Now every week, when Sunday hits, it's tough. There is always some point during the day, that I instinctively almost reach for my phone to call him. A few weeks ago, one of my hardest days came on a Sunday. I was just other way to describe it. I miss him. It was a Sunday that I was going through past texts on my phone to drop a line to friends to remind them about our upcoming premiere, when I came across an old text from Dad as I scrolled down. I literally let out a, "Ohhhh!"

Weird-- I just recently stopped receiving emails from Dad with the subject line, "How are you?" His account has been phished or something. I didn't want to report it though.

If Sundays weren't enough, September was the time I was set to begin a 9 week basketball league on Wednesdays through Disney. It's my favorite sport to play and one that I always played with Dad. I decided to change my longtime number of 15 for that of my Dad's, 53.

There was an issue EVERY week and had to use someone else's jersey for every game because mine didn't come in. Every week I'd show up with only one thing on my mind, "Is my jersey in??" It pissed me off. Still does. I need that jersey.

In between Sundays and Wednesdays, I was back getting into the swing of things. Back home, Mom was not liking the new job, Alexis was prepping to visit and apply to schools. I'd also get calls or emails from the two of them venting a little about the stress the other was causing he other lol.

I started working with a PR company to help take advantage of the big premiere and they started getting me out to events and in front of some of the horror crowds and such.

I did a some radio shows, tv shows, interviews, podcasts which was great exposure.

It was a lot of fun and even though a lot of the same questions are asked repeatedly, it helped at the time reinforce what I was here to do...constant reminders of my goals. My new focused mission. As I would share with my friends or send to my family back home, I would always think of Dad, but I started to grasp that he was already aware and watching it all unfold :)

One night I was due to hit an actors tweet up (a meetup organized and attended by twitter users). I'd failed to make any previous ones, but promised I would attend this one. It was a week before our big premiere and I thought it would be a great way to spread the word so I said I'd go. 8pm rolls around and I'm not feeling it. I don't want to leave the house. I had so much work to do and didn't want to disrupt the flow. I tweeted a few people telling them I'd be "flaking out" (so LA) and that was that. A friend then messaged me saying they were not going to go, so I even felt that much better lol. I started to work, and then it just hit...I NEED TO GO. I ended up rallying and going. I saw some friends and spoke to a few of them at length, which was very nice, but it was a few hours later and I was ready to hit the road. At the very end, as I was saying goodbye, a friend of a friend said bye and I introduced myself. We started to talk and somehow it got deep fast. I can't remember how. I think we were talking about auditions and I had explained how I recently had one that really hit close to home and we ended up talking about my Dad's passing. I think I was mentioning how I was in a position at an audition where it was just a real situation for me, one I could relate to now and how I felt IN THAT MOMENT, that I had really changed. He went on to speak about how he too had experienced similar loss and mentioned a quote or something he heard. I can't remember the exact quote but it was basically, "Not until a son loses his father, will he become the man he is intended to be." It just really brought my recent discovery full circle. More so, I realized that my chat with this new friend was the reason I was meant to SHOW UP. I left energized.

The day was quickly approaching for the premiere and now my sister and best friend, Peter were flying in. I was excited.

My mom couldn't make it because of her new job, but I was ok. I was still busting ass to get things together. I had ordered shirts, a back drop, posters, post cards, posters and came up with giveaways, raffles and everything else to get people excited about the premiere. I wanted this to be more than just watching a movie, this was to be an EXPERIENCE. I was fitted for a new suit and spared no expense-- that was for Dad. I knew he'd see to it that I looked sharp for this so I carried it through knowing that would be his wish.

I was a machine. Early estimations on ticket sales were sounding good, but I wasn't letting up. I caught wind that there was a free screening at Arclight in Hollywood for the remake of THE THING and I was read to attack. I called up Eric to see if he would help, but he was going to instead try to sneak in as a "non-filmmaker" to see the movie. I went early, grabbed my dog (nothing is an easier condo starter than my pup) and grabbed a shit ton of post cards and headed for Hollywood. I was going to be a one man street team for the night. I started at the front of the line asking people jokingly if they were horror fans or just along for the free movie. Most people were big fans of the genre so it was an easy in. I'd tell them that about our movie; how we did this for little money, how we were going to be premiering at Grauman's and people were hooked. If I needed to, I'd pitch further about there being a free movie playing right before ours, so that they could see two movies for $5 a piece. More? There would be some tshirt and poster giveaways (people LOVE free shit). More? I had more for days. The best feeling was about 15 people KNEW of the movie already and most of them already HAD tickets! I wasn't done though. I went into the parking decks and post carded all of the cars. I would not be denied.

Well the day of the event hit and it was game time. The place was PACKED. INSANELY PACKED. People were being turned away AFTER an hour delay due to stand by tickets. MADISON COUNTY...had arrived. We had huge names in the genre show up to support and WITNESS THE RISE (one of our tags)! One of which, provided us with a cool story. James Wan (the man behind the SAW franchise and director of the recent hit, INSIDIOUS) actually payed someone a good chunk of cash to have their ticket. He also was VERY complimentary to the film and took the time to send a bunch of us personal messages on a job well done.

After over an hour delay, the theatre was packed and some people were sitting in the aisles. Daniel, his girlfriend Bri and I were not going to have seats. Eric had a seat saved that he tried to give to Bri, but she wouldn't take it, so he was safe. We finally entered the theatre and walked to the front and when I turned around...I was in shock. This must be an ounce of what it feels like when you are a rock star on stage in front of a sold out arena.

500+ people were pumped (some crabby at the delay)! We were beyond sold out and ready to play our baby on the big screen for the first time for everyone, including us! We said a little speech to thank everyone for coming and then we intro'd the film. I had put together t-shirts and Posters (with my sister and Peter's help) and threw them into the audience creating even more of a frenzy and headed to our aisle seats. Our logos hit the screen first, beginning with Daniels then Eric's and then mine.

At that moment I looked up and just teared instantly. I thought of Dad, sad he wasn't here, but I was very, very happy. I knew my mom would be there if she could, my dad was watching down and I was SURROUNDED by my loved ones. Erin, my closest friends, Peter & my sister were near me. Even Erin's family flew out from St. Louis. I had so many friends show up to support including my Aladdin family, which always rolls deep! I recently heard from a friend who wanted to let some time settle before dropping me a line to tell me how much they enjoyed the film, I didn't even know they had come! Thank you to EVERYONE who made it out and who supported from afar. The movie was a hit that night & the energy in the room was incredible!

Leading up people were asking me if I was nervous and I honestly wasn't. I was prepared. I've been working hard for a while and this was my time time to enjoy. The most nervous was about two hours before the movie was due to start. We were having dinner and I wanted to hurry to get to the theatre, so I could change into my suit and do my hair lol. I was worried if get held up and not have time. It worked out.

Erin and I got to sneak a few pictures in together on the carpet. Both my promises from a year earlier had come to fruition.

The movie was done and I still had more work to do, I needed to get over to our after party venue to set up our, "press room" for the night. We didn't really end up using it, but it looked good lol

The next two days...sick. Lol. The high of what we had just experienced was not calming. Then we get the call..."Do you guys want to have an encore screening...tomorrow?"

Holy shit.

Here comes instinct and passion 100% I quickly confirmed, got on the computer and typed up a press release to announce our sold out hit, encore screening and used the momentum of the sell out to try to get as many people as possible. I pulled out the big guns and offered free tshirts to the first 50 people and free posters to the rest. We also had a Q&A planned since we didn't want to do one so late the night of the premiere. In less than 24hrs we had just under 100 people show up. I think it's a success considering it was strictly word of mouth.

The dust was settling, the festival was over and it was bittersweet. We had such a great time and now it was over. We were also a little bummed that we didn't get some kind of audience appreciation award, considering we were the only film to sell out the festival and gain an encore screening. But, on well. That's life. Screamfest was very appreciative of the job we did and we are beyond proud to be a part of their history. Thank you Rachel & the Scresmfest team!

Now time to sell this bitch. It was around this time where I started to really be affected by my dad's death. Things were settling in and it was about the two month mark and it was hitting even harder. Everything was reminding me of him. I started to think back to everything and had those brief regrets or sad thoughts of, what if?"

I had a couple of dreams about him recently too. One was he and I running in wooded terrain. We were trying to get away. All of a sudden he yells, "watch out for the scorpions!" and before you know it there was a scorpion flying at me! I woke up. Dad was a Scorpio.

I had a couple of others, nothing as intense though lol

I started to think back to something we found in Dad's briefcase a few days before I was set to fly back to LA. I felt it deserved it's own blog, so you can check it out by clicking this link:

It really helped me and continues to help me during this time.

Things are going well for the most part. MC is about to be sold to a great company & we are really excited to be working with them! We have another company selling territories over seas for the movie to bring it to an international audience. Our follow up film ROADSIDE, is going to be incredible. It's been submitted it to the big festivals so far, so we'll see what happens. This film is special to me for many reasons. It's my juiciest role to date and closest to the types of films I want to do for the rest of my life. It also is one i showed my Dad when I was home and he was really into it!! At the time we only had the first 3/4 ROUGHLY assembled, but he was hooked and wanted to see more. This one will be dedicated to him. I can't wait to see what this does when it is ready for the world!

I helped Eric shoot a halloween short which was a lot of fun and a much needed, no pressure shoot that brought back a lot of our gang from our past two features.

I then helped Erin on her film directing debut, another Halloween short. This one was shot by Daniel, who was not able to work on the first one. It's called MEET THE TWEEDS & I was solely a Producer on this, but it was such a great experience! I'm very proud of what Erin did! Her past experience with directing theatre and her technical awareness was impressive.

Erin and I also had a very nice trip to Palm Springs and are planning our Sundance trip as we speak!

I had a chance to shoot an episode of SPARAH a web series by Virgin Mobile and it was an absolute BLAST!

I'm flying home to Jersey as I type this and its going to be the first time I visit our home without Dad. I expect it to be tough, but I'm very thankful to be spending Thanksgiving with my family and WOLFY who is visiting too! In a few short weeks we'll be back again for X-Mas, this time with Erin! My sister turns 18 the day after Thanksgiving so I wanted to be here for that. How fast time flies. 112 days flew by. I can't believe it's the holiday season already. Last December my dad was having his surgery for the cancer. Crazy.

When time flies as fast as it is now, it's important to value the things that really mean the most to me. No more time for non-sense.

It's game time.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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