Adventures as an Extra: “The Hitcher”

Last week I got the call to be an extra on “The Hitcher“. They wanted me to be a paramedic. Being the considerate guy I am I told them that I was pretty sure they had my out of date headshot where I was 60 pounds heavier and since I recently shaved my head for a role I wanted to send them a current snapshot to make sure they still wanted me. I emailed the snapshot and got the call back that they did still want to use me, but I would instead be a prisoner. Fitting, since I called this my “Prison Break” hair style, but kind of a bummer since I think the paramedic ended up getting used a lot more and got some good camera time. I’m not sure why they changed me since the paramedic didn’t look all that drastically different from me.
The location was down in San Marcos, about a 45 minute drive away, so I got up at 5:00 a.m. to be on set by 6:00 a.m. I was told that I’d be a “new prisoner” being brought in after having just been arrested so I should bring 3 changes of clothes for wardrobe to pick from. The location was the Hays County Law enforcement center. It was interesting filming there since they obviously couldn’t shut the place down, and periodically everything had to stop while an inmate was brought in or taken out. I parked my car and hauled all my stuff across to the catering tent they had set up outside where we’d be hanging out. I signed in and got some good food for breakfast from the table. After a few minutes I was taken to wardrobe. I told them I was a “New Prisoner”, but instead of keeping me in some of my clothes, they put me in the black and white striped prisoner clothes. Hair and make up looked me over and gave their approval, and I was off to the tent to wait. And wait. And wait.

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Gustavo’s Theme

I thought I’d post this little recording here in case anyone was interested.
I was finishing up a comedic short film that me and a friend had made when I decided to add some music underneath one scene at the last minute. I fired up the DAW and threw down two pieces of music really quickly for the scene. This was during the course of a marathon editing session in order to get this piece out quickly, so I didn’t have a lot of time to be my obsessive perfectionist self.
The playing is sloppy as **** , there was no effects or other post processing done to it at all. Just hit record and went. I pieced it together over many, many, many takes.
So as I said, it’s sloppy, unprocessed and unpolished, but without further disclaimer, Gustavo’s theme
As a bonus, here is the other piece of score I composed for the film.

Lex Luthor

For our “Movie Musketeers” segment filming last night, we were interviewing viewers coming out of “Superman Returns”, so Larry once again got some more mileage from his Superman costume, Hillary was Supergirl and I was Lex Luthor. Hopefully I can get my hands on some of the many pictures that were taken of the three of us together.

Some Austin Movie Show segments

I’ve uploaded some of the segments that we’ve produced for the Austin Movie show. More to come! Sadly, I can’t seem to get any better quality from my uploads, but they should suffice for now.

Busy, but good!

I am Assistant Directing a new short film. This is a project produced by some of my Austin Movie Show compadres, and I’m taking some vacation days to help make it happen. We are shooting for about 6 days spread over three weeks, and our first two days were Tuesday and Wednesday. I loved it. Every experience I have like this just affirms how much I love this field of work. Even when I was doing Production Assistant work (which people say is the lowliest, “pay your dues” kind of work on a set), I loved every minute of it. I always thought that my next professional step behind the camera would as an Assistant Director, and this is my first chance to add that credit to my resume (though I have directed my own short films, of course).
Many people wonder why I would possibly want to be an A.D. when they are usually one of the most hated people on the set apparently because they are the ones who have to crack the whip and keep things moving and on schedule, so consequently they have to kind of push everyone. Many people firmly believe you can’t be a good A.D. without being an asshole. I am determined to prove this wrong. I always thought I would be good at it because I think I’m good at motivating people and getting things done, but keeping things fun and still being friendly and diplomatic. Sure, I have the ability to be a more of a slave driver if that’s necessary, but I believe that overall I can get things done and still leave the crew liking me when it’s all over. I felt very at home during our first two shoot days. In addition to the AMS people I’ve already raved about, I’ve met even more incredibly fun, cool, and talented people on this film. Austin is jam packed with them!
Now if I could only find a way to do this all the time and get paid for it.

My latest role: Christopher Walken

Since my stint as Tom Cruise, I’ve pretty much completely dived into to working with the Austin Movie Show. Not only do I help pitch ideas, write and perform, but I also help out producing the live show every Sunday night. It’s taking a lot of my time but it’s been really great coming up with ideas and pitching them to the group, and they seem to be well received. Last night we filmed my idea called “Good Actor? Bad Choice!” which will be a recurring bit about actors auditioning for roles for which they are completely wrong. When I pitched the idea, the specific example was Christopher Walken. At the time I did a passable Walken, but I figured we would get someone else who could nail it. After receiving a very good response from the group over the next week, we decided to film it with me doing my Walken. I worked my ass off trying to perfect it as I wanted it to be perfect. Before filming last night, I did nothing but work on my Walken impression for three hours. By the time I left the house, I felt very good about it. Not perfect, but hopefully funny enough to overlook that fact.
We were kind of pressed for time so I pretty much only got one take for each of the three fake auditions I had come up with, and while I don’t feel I was quite as good as I could have been given a few more takes, hopefully it was passable. The crew all seemed to be having a hard time containing their laughter behind the camera, so that’s a good sign. I did Walken auditioning for Inigo Montoya in “The Princess Bride”, Milton in “Office Space”, and Harry in “When Harry Met Sally.” I’m working on getting copies of the tom Cruise bit and this one to get online for you all to see. The Tom Cruise bit can be seen if you check out this show via podcast. I’m not sure of the exact time where it appears so you’ll have to find it in the show. I know it was right after the Jason Reitman interview, which led to some awkwardness as detailed in my article which no longer seems to be online.

“Tomorrow Never Knows”

With much satisfaction I have completed my latest project. For the longest time, I’ve had this idea in my head to remake “Tomorrow Never Knows” by The Beatles album “Revolver”. The song has always been something special to me for many reasons. The original song was recorded using mostly tape loops taken from various orchestral compositions, sound effects, and any other tape The Beatles could get their razor blades on. Since they only had four track technology then, I’ve read accounts of how George Martin had every available person standing in every available space, such as closets, holding tape loops on the ends of pencils and such, so that he could fade them in and out throughout the song. I always thought that it would be fun to recreate the entire song, including all the strange tape loops, on guitar.
This became an even more interesting idea when I started using the Line 6 Variax digital modeling guitar which can emulate a whole studio full of guitars (including electrics, acoustics, banjo, 12-strings, and more), and the Line 6 Pod XT which digitally models amps, cabinets, effects, etc.
Here is the result of my mad scientist experiment (It’s about 4MB). Aside from the vocal, drums and tambourine, everything you hear was done on guitar. Everything. Including the seagulls. And the bass. Everything. Hell, even the vocals got run through my Pod XT for the last verse. I am quite pleased. As is always the case with me, I feel I could do so much more work on it to make it better, but I was anxious to get it out there, and sometimes you just have to designate a stopping point. I’m sure there will be tweaking, as I’m already nitpicking it all to hell, but for the most part I’m fairly happy with it.

0-100 so fast I got whiplash!

Previously I mentioned how much fun I had being psycho Tom Cruise and meeting this great bunch of people. It looks as if I may have fallen into something pretty cool, and definitely good for me. The skit I filmed was for The Austin Movie Show, which has been around for a while in various incarnations and currently airs on our Public Access station. It’s mostly the two hosts reviewing and talking about movies, but also has a lot more thrown in such as the shorts we’re starting to write and film now and some other segments.

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Cruise control

Yesterday I filmed my stint as Tom Cruise for a short parody to air on the Austin Movie Show. It was incredibly satisfying, and really moved me in a strangely deep and emotional way. Obviously it was great to get “back in the saddle” and just cut loose with some totally over the top acting, but it was the people that really made it for me. Maybe I’m just in some hyper-emotional frame of mind or something, but I just truly loved everyone I met yesterday. They all seemed like wonderful, fun, genuine people who I think I could connect with, and in a way, did. The show is just getting started and they seemed really open to any of us who wanted to be involved with the troupe to pitch ideas, brainstorm, just take some bit parts, or whatever level of involvement individual time and desire allowed.
I left feeling that I did an adequate acting job but that I could have done much better. Everyone seemed to be pleased and entertained though. I also left feeling a bit wistful and not really wanting to go because I wanted to get to know these people better. I guess we’ll see what the future holds, but all in all it was a great experience, even if I am left a bit bewildered by my emotional response to it. I feel more deeply moved and touched than I feel I should from doing casual light little comedy piece with people I only just met. It’s very bizarre. Even if I never see any of them again, I feel my life is richer for having met them.
Maybe this is just a side effect from tossing my inner creative passion monster a tasty morsel after having not fed it in a long, long time. It awoke from it’s hibernation with a bug hunger. I will try to post or link to the skit as soon as I can get a copy.

Baby Steps

After my last whiny spell, some small amount of progress has been made. I’ve asked around about some open mic nights here in Austin, and started rebuilding my solo acoustic song list.
Then today I saw a casting call for someone to play Tom Cruise in a short spoof about him and Katie to be aired on a local access comedy/improv show. I initially deleted it. Then I remembered over the years how many times people told me I looked like, or in some way reminded them of Tom Cruise (I lost count after about 15). I figured, what the hell, I’ll throw my hat in the ring. I may not be a dead ringer but if it’s a comedy caricature, then I could probably at least do something interesting with it.
Later as we were about to meet some friends for our monthly writer’s meeting, I got the call that the people from the show wanted to meet me to scope me out. I had to leave the get together with our friends to go meet them. I grabbed my Tom Cruise sunglasses, and prepared for the audition. I watched Ben Stiller’s hilarious turn as Tom Cruise’s stunt double from the MTV VMA show. On the way to the audition (I was just meeting them at a coffee house) I started improving as Tom Cruise in the car, and I gotta say, I came up with some good stuff. I may have to do my own Tom Cruise skit just to use it!
When I met them, we chatted for a bit and then they handed me the pages. I was hoping for a chance to improv and riff a little, but that was alright. I looked them over, they summarized the scene, and we started to read through it. I launched into my best over-enthusiastic Tom Cruise and read the first set of lines. That was it. They decided that I was the man for the part. Now I don’t know how many other people they saw, if any, but it was still cool to get the part after reading one set of lines.
So tomorrow I get to be crazy Tom Cruise in a skit which will air on a local show. And to think, I had deleted this email, and only retrieved it because of all the crazy people on crack over the years who have told me that I reminded them of Tom Cruise. Crazy, man. Like Tom Cruise.