Featured Students

Rob goes to Hollywood

Rob Taylor

RobNUTV12

“Looking Back (and Forward)” – June 22, 2013

After a delayed red-eye flight and a couple hours of sleep, I’m back home in Boston! It’s always a little hard to believe that ten hours ago (at the time of writing this) I was on the complete other side of the country. Makes me feel like California was just Cambridge and I stayed the night at a friend’s place.

But I didn’t, and Campus MovieFest weekend went out with a bang. Let’s review the last day, and then I’ll get all wishy-washy and give you my top five takeaways, shall we? (I figure since we started with numbers, we may as well end with a list.)

I was up bright and shining for our 7:30 a.m. shuttle over to Universal Studios for their backlot studio tour. It’s funny, I’ve been to Universal down in Florida, so I’ve seen a lot of replicas of the sets that were on display. Take Jaws, here:

Jaws

The cool part of the tour was that each tram had a television in it, which featured the tour guide and some bonuses, such as showing each set in the context of the movie it was in. I liked it a lot, because a lot of the sets they showed me were in films I’d never seen (for a video guy, I have an embarrassingly poor knowledge of classic cinema). Take a look, starting with an earthquake-ravaged subway:

Ravaged Subway

That set was incredible… and included a controlled flood mechanism, which they used when the water main burst in the movie “Earthquake.” Very cool to see the actors on screen getting pushed away by the same water in front of you. Next, a car in a little better shape than the oil tanker:

Back to the Future Car

They had the Flinstone-mobile (don’t know if it was actually called that but we’re rolling with it) and some of the cars from “The Fast and the Furious” there too. They also had some more recent, full-blown sets:

Desperate Housewives House

Now I’ve never seen “Desperate Housewives” (and I’m not trying to pump my masculinity here – just ask me about my taste in music…), but what a marvel this set was. They literally constructed an entire neighborhood. In a lot of Hollywood projects, the houses are just facades and you can save a lot of money just by making sure you only shoot from the proper angles. Due to the success of Housewives, though, they built the entire houses and there’s an entire suburban neighborhood just sitting in the middle of their back-lots. I’m admittedly still curious about what an ABC show’s set was doing at Universal (their parent company is NBC), but it was fascinating stuff.

Next, a movie I’m proud to have seen:

Whoville

Good ol’ Whoville, from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” The replica snow made me feel like I was right back home at Boston… three days of non-stop sunshine just didn’t feel right.

And finally, this marvel comes from the movie “War of the Worlds:”

War of the Worlds Plane

In the movie, a plane goes down in a suburban town. To make the set, they bought an actual plane, and destroyed it. With shipping costs included, it took nearly a million dollars to pull off (all for a three-and-a-half minute shot). And to think I was debating whether it’d be worth spending my printing dollars at the library to make the exam prop in my film “No Chance.”

That wrapped up the studio tour. We stayed right there in Universal to watch the screenings of all the student films, which was a five hour marathon across three different theatres:

CMF Theater

The time flew by, and I enjoyed seeing just how differently other schools (and regions) approach film-making. At Northeastern, a lot of the films focused on city shots, public transportation, and the campus (mine certainly did). I remember during the NU screenings how impressed I was when I saw things like cars used effectively, because that’s not really what we know. Other schools in more rural and suburban settings had different themes, props, and settings.

It was great having an audience of 100 or so students watching the film I’d made. It was even cooler to have people come up to you after saying they liked it. I’ve got to admit though, my friend and fellow NUTV member Gordon Freas’s film “Library: A Quiet Film” stole the show, it got a whole lot of laughs.

I’ll break down what was going through my head seeing all of the movies (and as you know from reading my last few posts, a lot goes through my head) in the list a bit later.

Finally, after a quick run back to the hotel, it was red carpet time!

CMF Red Carpet

I threw on my shirt and tie and headed over to Fox Studios for the festivities. What a show CMF put on… they had quite the list of celebrity presenters, including Keegan Michael Key from “Key and Peele,” Danny Pudi from “Community,” and Josh Peck from the Nickelodeon show “Drake & Josh” (one of the true appointment viewings of my adolescence). The list made the whole competition feel that much more prestigious.

While I unfortunately didn’t win any of the categories, the night was still great. I got a lot of laughs and saw some really impressive films that I’d missed at some of the screenings. One in particular was called “The Boy and the Deer” and was incredible. It featured some great animation intertwined with live-action shooting, so give it a watch after you’re done reading my post.

And with that, the entire experience was over as quickly as it began. I took a shuttle straight from the finale to the airport, so there were some quick goodbyes with a few of the fellow students I met over the weekend. I had the pleasure of meeting a lot of great filmmaking minds (and some really nice people to boot). If the crew that was there this weekend gets to have its say, we’re going to have a lot of awesome films in the future.

Time to get to the core messages I’m taking away from this weekend, and there are a lot of them. I came into this event in a very weird place, having been stressed with things like finals and a lot of the extra video work I do on the side. When I get into the nonstop grind of classes and work, I often don’t allow myself the time to really think about the bigger picture, the “whys” that keep me doing what I’m doing. It’s all just habit – just going through the motions of executing decisions I made a long time ago. This weekend really gave me the chance to reflect and take a look on what I want (and don’t want) my place in the industry to be.

1.) Los Angeles is NOT New York West. One of the major things I’ve heard from the field is that “if you want to end up in the entertainment industry, you have to go to New York or Los Angeles.” As LA is the second biggest market area in the country, I assumed it’d be just like New York. Bad assumption – Los Angeles is so spaced out. I get claustrophobic just thinking about New York, the mobs of people, and all the neon lights. From the few brief trips I’ve had to NYC, my view is that it is a city of efficiency, from the dense streets to the skyscrapers to the expansive public transportation. Los Angeles has room to move. Driving around doesn’t give you panic attacks. There are naturally-growing trees. You’ve got hills, places for hiking, the beach, and suburbs right in the city. And things change fast — you can walk three blocks on Santa Monica Boulevard and witness a transformation from glitz and glamor to simple apartments. The feel is very different. And going hand-in-hand with that…

2.) Hollywood culture takes filmmaking seriously. This point may seem like an obvious one, but I can’t stress it enough. In Boston, I get self-conscious when people ask me what I do because I feel like there’s a stigma around moviemaking. For one, there’s the whole “keep dreaming, kid” mentality. Two, it’s easy for one to make the arts secondary in a place where you’ve got so many colleges doing cutting-edge engineering research, a booming startup entrepreneurship base, and some of the top hospitals and medical research in the world. In Hollywood, it’s quite different — the conversations feel like they’re in a different language. There’s a pride in films and it feels like almost everyone out there wants to be an actor or a director. I talked to a girl from UCLA who made a film using a child actress (it was called “Lemonade” by the way and it was great – I highly recommend you check it out) and she did a casting call to find the girl. She received dozens of applications to the casting call, including parents flying their kids out to be a part of the student film. The girl she chose was six and did it unpaid. I have enough trouble dragging my friends out to be extras for an hour!

All that said, the culture was dramatically different and I’m left wondering about my place in all of it. Movies are great, of course, as a form of escape and entertainment and I love them as a creative outlet. But I also do work making videos with Beth Israel and Harvard, driven not just by creativity but the pursuit of communicating a message. The big thing I want to do in life (it’s corny, I know, and I still don’t know the way I’m going to do it) is to influence people. Filmmaking is a great way to achieve that, and there’s no easier way to reach a large audience. Still, I feel that in the film industry there are countless complications that might counter-balance communication and career advancement. So, where is my place in this field?

3.) I make movies to have fun. That’s not the only motive, of course, but it needs to be my primary one. Now there will be bad experiences, obviously. I’ve had plenty a frustrated night trying to fix audio glitches or reshooting scenes because a memory card failed or taking on way too many duties all in the sake of getting things done. However, if the entire creative process ever feels like “work,” that’s when I need to stop. Bronwen Hughes, the director of “Breaking Bad” and “Harriet the Spy,” had a really great message. In an industry that too often is full of people insisting “never say no to anyone” and “you gotta start somewhere” (even if it means unpaid positions and yielding to unreasonable requests), Brownen said it’s important to remember “it’s okay to say no.” She talked about some big-time directing gigs she turned down (even ones that could have advanced her in the industry) because she didn’t like the people she’d have to work with or couldn’t connect with the creative vision of the shows or films. She said that connecting with her work is why she does what she does, and that infusing herself into her films is the most important piece for her. If a film didn’t offer those things to her, it wasn’t worth her time. And she seems all the happier for it.

The two makers of Five-Second Films, Brian Firenzi and Jon Salmon, also helped hammer home that fun and passion should always trump ambition. Five-Second Films barely pays (aside from pennies from YouTube royalties), yet they love doing what they do. They’re working completely on their own terms as a comedy troupe and they’re on their way to raising $200,000 to make a parody slasher film, which they were gushing with excitement about. The enthusiasm was contagious, and while there were a lot of mixed messages this weekend (the TV generation said, “work from the bottom up, meet important people, get the experience you need” while the internet people said, “branch out and build your own brand – there’s no time like the present”), I think I know what I want out of this field — and it’s maintaining my sense of fun and self in the creative process.

4.) The future is in good hands. I mean this in general, not even just the filmmaking world. Though I value creativity and imagination, it’s often easy for me to get worried that both are going by the wayside because of the social connectedness of my generation. After having watched five consecutive hours of student films, I now know that’s not true. So, so many students — some with filmmaking experiences, some without — poured their souls into the creative process. And I think that no matter the quality of the creations, that’s awesome. The messages were often idealistic, as a lot of us young people are. I hope we can all hold onto that.

A great piece of Campus MovieFest is that they rent cameras out to the students for free. With HD video a staple of daily life, quality editing software coming free with every computer, and the cost of great cameras declining every day, filmmaking is more accessible to my generation than any before. I think that’s a fantastic outlet that gives us the chance to be producers, not just consumers, of content. I think the accessibility of young filmmaking, and the democratization of mediums (with YouTube, Kickstarter, Vimeo, Netflix, and so many others challenging the traditional cable model) allows for a great form of resistance to old ideas. Having witnessed the ideas my generation has, I hope they get out to the world because I think they’ll do a lot of good. And the messages can be transmitted quicker and easier than they ever have before.

5.) Northeastern has some talented filmmakers that can go up against the best in the country. A lot of film schools were out there at Campus MovieFest, including several huge and selective programs out in California where students have been doing this their whole life. And having watched over sixty of the films this weekend, I can say that Northeastern’s crop rivals any other school’s. Four of our films screened to rave reviews, including Elena Guy’s “Flint,” which makes my heart grow three sizes each time I watch it, and “Reset,” for which Mateo Caldas took home best actor. I worked with NUTV during Campus MovieFest, and our group produced six total films… and none would have been out of place screening this weekend. On a personal level, that’s incredibly rewarding – we worked to rebuild the club from the ground up a couple years ago and we would often joke about the quality works we could be capable of, but I’d never have guessed that we’d get to this level in a couple short years. And I’m convinced the best is yet to come. The new NUTV Executive Board has some great plans that they’re ready to put in motion, and I think the group’s filmmaking ability and quality of content is going to be taken to the next level. So to any incoming students this fall (or current students who haven’t heard of us), be sure to check us out! Our website is www.nutv.neu.edu, and expect it to relaunch in a couple of weeks with a lot of new content come fall. You can always email nutv@neu.edu to figure out ways to get involved (even this summer), as we’re always looking for students interested in production, whether you’ve got experience or not. And now, we can say that you’ll be learning from filmmakers with talent that ranks right up there with the best young cinematographers, producers, and editors in the country.

Before I finish, I can’t conclude without thanking Northeastern for supporting me during this incredible opportunity. On a professional level, it was inspiring and instructive. I’ve never been more excited to continue honing my craft (through both the workshops and screenings, I have a lot of new tricks to try out!). And on a personal level, I gained a lot of direction as I move in to my senior year here, from the rewarding endeavors I want to pursue and where I want to do them to who I am. None of it would have been possible without the support of the university, the student activities office, and the College of Arts, Media and Design. I really can’t thank them all enough.

And finally, thank you for reading and watching! If you have any questions about the trip, the program, NUTV, my bad taste in music, or anything else, feel free to follow me and send me a message on Twitter (@robetaylor).

Finally, I’m reluctant to end this journey in a campy way (though nothing will ever be campier than Late Show host Jimmy Fallon concluding the Universal Tour with “have a tram-tastic day”), but I feel compelled to do it…

That’s all folks!

 

“Lights, Camera, Pitch!” – June 21, 2013

One of the best things about this whole Campus MovieFest experience is that they absolutely jam-pack the weekend with mixers, workshops, speakers, and tours. However, one of the things that disappointed me was that because of the packed schedule, I wasn’t really going to get the chance to see much of the city. Well, I befriended a student from UCLA (several actually, and they’ve all been incredibly nice), and got myself a personal tour of Sunset Boulevard, Santa Monica, the 3rd Avenue Promenade, and the Pacific! It was night, and my camera was having a little trouble with the low light, but I was able to get a few cool photos of some of the city’s prominent spots:

Hollywood Blvd

El Canitar

Santa Monica Pier

Hard Rock

And while we’re on the talk of tourist traps, I did manage to sneak out to Universal CityWalk too during lunch, where I got to meet King Kong here…

King Kong

Then, Marilyn Monroe continued to follow me around this city, though this time she was made completely out of jelly beans:

Jelly Bean Marilyn

And finally, I had to get a shot of one of the iconic giant guitars.

Giant Guitars

Now that you’ve joined me for that brief detour, back to the actual CMF action!

I set my alarm clock extra early this morning to prepare my pitch. As I mentioned yesterday, ShortsHD (a premium cable channel that runs nothing but short films all day) joined the Campus MovieFest activities and created a competition for filmmakers to pitch their short story idea. My submission advanced to the final twenty, where contestants would pitch their idea on camera as part of a reality show-style competition to determine a winner, who will take home $3,000 and have their film aired on the ShortsHD channel. Here’s the set, and the lights I was under!

ShortsHD Pitch

I woke up early, practiced my pitch in the mirror, ironed out all the fine points, and really liked my story idea. It’s called “Guardian,” about a super-class of people who work to maximize the happiness of one hundred strangers, by manipulating the small things in their lives. It seemed like a fun story and I’ve got a lot of ideas on how to shoot it.

Unfortunately though, my pitch didn’t go as well as I’d like. I’m lucky in that I normally thrive in public speaking situations — stage fright doesn’t usually bother me. This time though I definitely got rattled, stumbled through a few words, was shaking… I don’t like my chances. But hey, I’m going to chock this one up as a good experience. The competition was a great motivator for me to try to flesh out this idea for a film, which I definitely plan on shooting. And next time I’m pitching, I’ll be even more prepared. Though, maybe not as prepared as these guys pitching their science fiction film (talk about going all out):

SciFi Movie Pitch

After the pitches, it was workshops, workshops, and more workshops. Get ready to see the “Campus MovieFest” backdrop a lot, ‘cause here we go…

CMF 1

First, here are Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, writers of such films as “Crazy/Beautiful,” “Æeon Flux,” and “Clash of the Titans.” They discussed the creative process, some of the jobs they’ve worked on, industry-breaking tips, and what it’s like working as a team. The day was off to a good start, but it got much much better…

CMF 2

Here we have, from left to right, Tom Karsch (former Executive Vice President of Turner Broadcasting), Rob Sorcher (Chief Content Officer of the Cartoon Network), and Scot Safon (the Executive Vice President of HLN). Coolest to me was Rob in the center there (who also has a great name), as he is also the person who brought “Breaking Bad” and “Mad Men” to AMC, effectively putting that station on the map. They discussed the “Future of Television,” which is in a precarious spot with the advent of new revenue models like Netflix and mobile devices. I got some great takeaways though, the main one being “when pitching, or working on anything, show them something they’ve never seen before.” The panel ran long, but I was able to run over to catch the last half of Bronwen Hughes’s Q+A session:

CMF 3

She directed, of note, “Breaking Bad” and “Harriet the Spy.” I’ve seen one of those two works, and I’m not going to tell you which one. For a woman that has dealt with some very serious themes and content matter though, she was bubbly and light-hearted. She discussed the art of directing, the need to adapt when circumstances don’t go your way (sick actors, bad locations…), and her long journey into the industry. Her passion for the field was contagious.

After a boxed lunch break, it was time for the next round of speakers, and they were my favorite two workshops of the weekend. Leading off, David Kwong:

CMF 4

That deck of cards in his hand is there for an awesome reason… David is a magician and film magic consultant. Yep, I didn’t know that job existed either. But he worked on the film “Now You See Me” as well as “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,” teaching sleight of hand to actors like Morgan Freeman and Woody Harrelson. He even did a few tricks for us… including creating a New York Times-style crossword puzzle in five minutes, which (unknowingly to me) spelt out “three of spades” across the middle of the puzzle, referencing a card trick he’d done earlier. I’m going to have to check and see if any of Boston’s local magicians have any interest in being on camera…

Finally, they saved my favorite presentation of the weekend for last:

CMF 5

That’s Brian Firenzi and Jon Salmon, and you’ve probably seen some of their “5 Second Film” viral videos. Every single weekday, they release a five-second long film on their website. They showed us some their favorites, and the audience laughed the hardest I’d heard all weekend. Both were also incredibly down to earth and are just at the start of their careers (one actually freelances filming nursing training videos, which I do too!). They were two of the most charismatic people of the conference, incredibly likeable, hilarious, and had plenty to offer in terms of learning the importance of brevity, too. They’re pretty good marketers as well… they’ve raised over $120,000 through Kickstarter as they look to make a feature length ’80s slasher parody. I’m rooting for them.

After all of that, I took a walk over to try my first ever In ‘n’ Out Burger. Not too shabby! But after eating that behemoth of a burger, I’m all ready to call it a night. It may be early, but I’m exhausted and the bus leaves for Universal Studios at 7:15 tomorrow morning. Then it’s time to see my film screened, as well as a bunch of other student works. And finally, it all wraps up at Twentieth Century Fox Studios, for the red carpet and the award ceremony.

See you there!

 

“(A Very Busy) Day 1″ – June 20, 2013

It happened. I hopped off the plane at LAX with a dream and my cardigan, minus the cardigan. My flight arrived right on time at about 11 PM last night… Pacific time zone. Having never been more than one time zone away, it was a pretty weird feeling to go to bed at what feels like 3 AM, and still not have to worry about being exhausted for an 8 AM wakeup. The six-hour flight wasn’t bad, I was glad I got my overtime wish on the Bruins game, but was disappointed that they lost. Ah well, at least now I won’t miss a clinching game on Saturday! Despite being exhausted, and awake at the equivalent of three in the morning, it still took me a little while to fall asleep because of this woman staring down at me:

Marilyn

Creepy, am I right? But of all the women to be looking down at you, you could do worse than Marilyn Monroe.

I woke up at 8:30, registered for the weekend, and immediately had to run over to a shuttle bus that took us to Red Studios.

Red Studios

For those of you haven’t heard of them (I hadn’t either), Red Studios are the makers of a camera that has filmed such mega-crazy blockbusters as Gatsby, Oz the Great and Powerful, and Prometheus. They showed us a reel of the stuff they’ve produced, and it was a whirring visual trip through the last two years of cinema. The Amazing Spider-Man, Flight, 42 (The Jackie Robinson story)… it blew me away. I’m used to seeing student reels that have a chunk of a short film and maybe some footage of a sibling’s Little League Baseball Game!

They also showed us a couple of sets, like this one for the movie Hitchcock:

Hitchcock

On top of that, we got a sneak peek at this super secret set (super secret as in they wouldn’t let me take pics) for a new TNT show called “Los Angels” coming out in the fall. It was amazing… it was designed to look like an office space, on the outside it was just a normal building, and on the inside it transported you back to a Mad Men-like 1950’s style era. If I were them, I’d rent the space out to a law firm to try to make some of their investment back.

Upon showing us some cool sets, they let us get hands-on with the amazing RED camera:

Camera Hands-on 1

Camera Hands-on 2

Camera Hands-on 3

Admittedly, I found it a bit nerve-racking… that thing costs three times more than my car, and it’s their “basic” model. But I was in good hands – a cool guy named Chad walked us through some of the camera’s features, such as being able to “overcrank the frame rate” (allowing for cool slow-motion shots), as well as some great exposure and focus tools.

Cameraman Chad

After some post-production tutorials and incredible tacos, I was on the bus back to the hotel, where two workshops were still on the schedule. The first — and I apologize for the blurry pic — was this gent: Adam Ravetch.

Ravetch

He’s an Emmy-award winning documentary filmmaker, whose home is the Arctic tundra. He talked us through some of the trials and tribulations he’s had filming films in extreme conditions. Do I have any interest in filming animals — like polar bears — that could maul me at any moment? No. But was it cool to see walruses defending their young from starving predators? Sure was. He showed us a look at his upcoming 3D-film in the fall, Ice Bear, which included visuals that felt right out of the Omni Theater.

From left to right, these are Suzanne Feller-Otto, Jean-Peal Leonard, and Joe Garrity, faculty members of the American Film Institute.

AFI Members

While they were pitching the merits of their master’s program, they were also discussing a position on the film crew I’ve never given much thought to — production designer. When I work on films over at NUTV, we never have the staff or the budget to assign someone specifically to figuring out things like set design, look development, props, and everything that goes into the artistic appearance of the video. For me it’s a much more on-the-fly process: I get to the place I’m shooting, figure out which direction looks nicest, maybe try to move a prop or two into the shot (whatever is on my person, generally), and we hit “record.” To get a film to be top notch, production design seems to be the next step.

Also impressive were the resumes of these speakers… Suzanne was the production designer of Seinfeld, which I’m watching a re-run of in my hotel room as I write this.

The only thing left after the workshops was the launch party…

Launch Party 1

I had the chance to eat some appetizers, meet a lot of the other students attending the festival, and hear the breakdown for the weekend. A couple of industry professionals were showing off their products as well, such as this worker with the Adobe Creative Cloud (my editing software of choice).

Adobe Creative Cloud Demo

There’s a lot more on the docket for tomorrow, including a jam-packed workshop schedule. There’s one event I’ve got circled on my planner though… “ShortsHD CMF Pitch.” Last week, they asked students attending the event to submit their resume, reel, and a brief paragraph for a short film idea. I received an email today saying that I’m advancing to the next round of the competition, and am in the top twenty! Now, I’ll be pitching the idea to some of the leaders of ShortsHD (a cable station that runs nothing but short films), with the winner of the competition getting a $3,000 prize to make their film. So wish me luck, I’ll let you know how it goes!

 

“Packed and Ready” – June 19, 2013

Hey world,

As I prepare for the big trip, I’m sure a bunch of you are wondering what’s coming with me. I give you… the contents of my suitcase:

When next you hear from me, I’ll be on Pacific time!

Rob

 

“Here We Go” – June 12, 2013

I’m Rob Taylor, a communication studies major at the College of Arts, Media and Design, and, in a week I’ll be representing Northeastern University at Campus MovieFest Hollywood, the self-proclaimed “World’s Largest Student Film Festival.”

A few months back, Campus MovieFest visited the university for a week, renting out free equipment to students and encouraging them to make a short film. Hundreds of students signed up to set up their tripods, white-balance their cameras, and yell “action.” At the end of the week, over fifty student teams celebrated their creations in the West Village theatre, with the competition’s hosts screening the top movies and presenting awards.

As an executive board member of NUTV, the campus’s student-run production studio, I had a blast staying up ‘til 4 in the morning on the night of a snowstorm to produce and edit a five-minute video with some fellow members and friends. I crossed my fingers that we’d get to see our film—and some of NUTV’s other films—on the big screen. So you can imagine my delight when I heard not only had we won the top prize of the competition, “Best Picture,” but that the film was to be screened at the national festival in Hollywood and go up against the top films from other universities across the country.

If you haven’t yet seen my film, well now’s your chance:

Speaking of chance, my film was entitled “No Chance” and that’s exactly how I’d have responded if someone asked me three months ago whether I’d be taking a trip to the west coast. And yet, due to the College of Arts, Media and Design’s support and encouragement, I’ve got the 20th circled in my calendar. Campus MovieFest will offer workshops with industry professionals, back lot tours of Universal Studios, film screenings and award ceremonies, and tons of other film industry-related stuff I can’t wait to be a part of.

In addition to those trusty resumes I’ll surely be carrying on the six-hour flight, I’ll be packing my laptop and video camera so you can join me for what should be an awesome trip. I’ve never been to the west coast, so I can’t wait to set my sights on the Pacific (and who knows, maybe run into Joss Whedon…).

If you’ve seen my film, you’ll know I’m into numbers… Here’s a few that are on my mind these days:

  • 2,987 miles: the distance from Beantown to Hollywood
  • 294 seconds: the length of “No Chance,” which will probably go by in a blur when I’m watching it at the screening
  • Way more than 294 seconds: the amount of time that went into making “No Chance,” many of which were spent begging friends to keep shooting with me for “one more scene,” or trying to keep special effects editor Matt for ten more minutes at the risk of his missing the T, or deliriously laughing at the film’s least funny parts with star actor and editor Emil because we were seeing daylight and we hadn’t slept yet.
  • 12: The number of cast and crew of my film “No Chance.” None of it would’ve been possible with any of them, but Emil Gruber and Matt Novak went above and beyond anything I could have asked. Emil, the star of the movie, was just as valuable behind-the-scenes and was responsible for all of the fun graphics of the video. And without Matt, you wouldn’t have enjoyed all of the numbers or seen our fun little splicing effect when Emil nearly got hit by the T (if you still didn’t click the play button up there, I bet you want to now!). Also, co-author Jamie Schefen helped make the script the strongest one I’ve ever worked on and took all of my funny ideas and made them funnier (and ruthlessly cut all of the non-funny ideas). Finally, that number “twelve” doesn’t include the ten or so NUTV members who helped brainstorm endings at one of our weekly entertainment meetings. If it weren’t for that, we might have had the coin fall on its side. And we’ve all seen that happen too many times.
  • Seven: Days until I’ll be in L.A. Not that I’m counting.
  • Three: American Idol judges that yell “you’re going to Hollywood!” (something I can now empathize with). Though I can’t sing, so it’s probably for the best that I won’t be coming face-to-face with Simon. Though if I remember right, he’s not even on that show anymore…
  • 50/50: The tossup between whether I’ll listen to “California Dreaming” or “California Girls” when we land at LAX.
  • One (million): What I assume is a very conservative estimate on the number of movies filmed in Hollywood. It would be pretty cool to get the chance to make it a million and one…

I’ll be posting the latest happenings from my trip on this very page, so check back here for updates, videos, recaps, likely a bit of name-dropping, and whatever else I can think of to sum up this amazing experience. And when I run into J.J. Abrams, you’ll be the first to know!

See you on the coast,

Rob