Archive for March, 2005

Mitch Hedberg 1968-2005

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One of the most brilliant comics ever to make me laugh my ass off has died. Details are just hitting the news agencies. I heard about this early this morning but couldn’t confirm it until now. Comedy has lost a legend, even if many people have never heard of him. I even wrote a part for him in my screenplay with a bit of dialogue based on one of his stand up bits. I am actually quite surprised at how much his death has affected me. I had the pleasure of seeing him live three different times, and even getting a picture with him on one occasion.

I highly recommend grabbing this great package of his two CD’s and a DVD. I’m trying to come up with some witty Mitch-like quip here, but it’s not happening. File this under “D” for “Damn”. It’s right next to “Donut”.

In addition to his CD’s there’s a great thread here with a lot of his jokes that people saw him do live but aren’t on wither of his CD’s.

And now my lame attempt at diffusing tragedy with a poor emulation of how I imagine Mitch in the great beyond:

[mitch emulation]
Man, when I first got here, there was this blinding white light and these voices saying “Mitchell, go towards the light..” I said “not until you install a dimmer or perhaps issue some incorporeal sunglasses. That is too damn bright. Perhaps you should consider a lower wattage.”
[/mitch emulation]

“I’m sick of following my dreams. I’m just going to ask them where they’re going and hook up with them later.”
-Mitch Hedberg

Here’s the plan:

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Will’s company will decide to leave Hollywood for the more laid back, burgeoning film industry in Austin, TX, and we will convince Terry Gilliam and Eddie Izzard to also come here for a production. Probably Gilliam’s “Dark Omens” which would also mean Neil Gaiman would come here as a consultant.
That’s the short version. Suffice to say, that was the end result of a random conversation Jess and I had the other day. My favorite point was when my brain about snapped at the bizarre thought of Terry Gilliam directing a film starring Ben stiller and Eddie Izzard.
The other option was that Will, Annika, Jess and I start that fantasy production company we’ve talked about to produce this project. I mean, come on, who wouldn’t give us financing for something that bizarre? 😉

Screenplays are never finished…

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…only abandoned.Now that being said, I still plan on editing and revising my feature length screenplay and trying to heed as much of Se�or Klein’s most excellent feedback as I can, but I went ahead and submitted my screenplay to a contest. It’s strange, I wouldn’t really want to submit it to an agent until I was as finished with it as I was going to be, but for some reason I didn’t feel like sending it to a contest was as big of a deal.
With an agent, I may only have one shot to impress them, but with this contest I’m just paying my $40 and shooting the dice. I don’t feel like I’ll burn any bridges with the contest. I’ll just fade into nameless obscurity with all the other entrants. I figured that even though it probably still needs a lot of work, what the hell, the deadline was fast approaching so I’ll submit it as is and see what happens. Worst case scenario, I’m out $40. Best case scenario, I get a free trip to L.A. to see the muchacho and muchacha del fuego known as the Kleins.
Regardless, it felt cool to finally do something with it, and I think it might inspire me to finally get back to giving it a good look and try to polish this turd up.

“Infamous”

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Today I was an extra on the movie “Infamous“. It’s a big movie about Truman Capote starring lots of really famous people, but screw them, this is about me.
Many people who work as “extras” on a set aren’t really actors. Many of them are people from all walks of life who somehow heard about “extra” work and thought, “Hey, being in a movie would be cool!” However, there are always at least some “serious” actors among them. Being an actor and working as an extra is somewhat like being Charlie and getting the Silver Ticket to the Wonka Factory. Not the Golden Ticket, but the Silver one. This ticket won’t get you a grand tour and face time with Wonka himself, but you do get to work for a day with Oompa Loompas. Not the featured Oompa Loompas who get to do the fun song and dance, but the nameless, faceless Oompa Loompas who work behind the scenes in the factory doing things like cleaning children out of chocolate ducts. You can see the Golden Ticket winners doing what you’d love to be doing more than anything, but you are stuck in the back room making sure the Ever-lasting Gobstoppers actually last forever and don’t dwindle just this side of eternity. You’re exhilarated by just being in the Wonka factory, but sad and frustrated that you’re only on the fringe of your dream.
Today’s scene took place on a closed off downtown Austin street which was standing in for 1960 New York. I had been to a costume fitting last week to be fitted with 1960’s New York guy clothes (although from the way my sweater buttoned, it was obviously made for a woman). My costume would be my own black dress shoes, rust colored slacks, a maroon sweater tucked in, a long tweed coat and a scarf. The pants pulled up rather high as was the style back then. Maybe the whole trend now of wearing your pants practically falling off is some kind of karmic pendulum swing the other way.
I awoke at the ungodly hour of 5:15 a.m. to be on set at 6:15. When I arrived, a big bus took us all to another location which apparently used to be a restaurant or something. They gave us our costumes and then sent us outside to change in some tents set up in the parking lot. Hair and make up then saw us and did their thing (which in my case was putting lots of product in my hair and slicking it into a side part). I sat there at a table feeling like melancholy Charlie with the silver ticket and contemplated whether or not I should continue doing extra work since it was just sort of a tease and pretty much leads nowhere except to more extra work.
Quite a while later the bus took us to the set and we were all sent to get props. I got some lovely 60’s eyeglasses and a brownish orange briefcase. We were then placed in various areas and told what to do when the cameras rolled. I was paired up with another guy named Rance who ended up being very cool and interesting to talk to. We were both actors, writers, directors and had some really interesting conversations throughout the day while plotting how to best get us some screen time. There were lots of extras who owned old cars which they had on the street for the scene.
When the cameras rolled, Rance and I would walk down the sidewalk acting like we were talking, pause to say goodbye, and he would go into a building while I tried to hail a cab. This ended up being quite fortuitous since the two stars of the scene (Hope Davis and Toby Jones who looked like an absolute perfect clone of Truman Capote) ended up walking right in front of us as the passed. Score! There is no way that I will not be seen in this movie unless they completely cut the scene out. There were many takes and as with all movies, much waiting in between. Another good sign that I must have been in the picture a lot is that I got several notes from the crew member handling our section such as “tone it down a little when you’re hailing the cab so as not to distract attention from the leads”, and a few other notes which indicated that I was definitely being seen and thus scrutinized heavily.
Though I was only in the background, I was genuinely acting. Rance and I would walk along engrossed in our mimed conversation, gesticulating with purpose. We would reach our mark, say our goodbyes (linger as the two leads passes mere feet next to us), and he would go off to his imaginary job, while I tried to get the attention of the cab driver who just wouldn’t stop and pick me up. Instead he drove on and some other girl got in and stole my cab! I could hardly blame him as she was very pretty, but I still acted indignant and annoyed, and proceeded to look for another cab down the road.
In the end it was a good time even if it was a tease. I enjoyed meeting and talking with Rance, and I might finally make it in a movie without being cut out (knock on your crossed wooden fingers). Though it can be painful and taunting, I know I will do it again. I am an actor. Actors must perform, and given the chance to be a part of a movie, even as what equates to just being part of the scenery, we are drawn like sailors to the siren on the rocks. Like moths to the flame. Like bad writers to extraneous similes.
Charlie would have kept buying those chocolate bars too, hoping that Wonka would someday give another tour, and when that day came, Charlie might just open that wrapper and see the corner of something gold.
*EDIT*
I feel the need to share this entry from Wil Wheaton’s blog as it’s nice to see the other side of the coin sometimes. I love to see things going well, and people finding satisfaction in their endeavors. It made me feel good just to read this and live vicariously through him! Nice counterpoint to the incessant whining I can sometimes do here.

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BLAH!