Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
That's probably why writing "LINKED" made me hyperventilate.
In its first stages LINKED was just a short film thought up by my friend Pablo and I. Once we filmed it though, it took on a life of its own. People thought it was a webseries and wanted to see more. So, I did what I've always done; started writing with no clear path as to where I was headed. I think I had a short moment where I lived the parallel life of a "Lost" writer. Further turbulence came with the loss of Pablo who had to move away from the project in order to focus on his new engagement and other pieces of his life. Without a director or camera, the project seemed finished without having really started. I was about to forget the whole thing when Jona (Jaime's long time friend and talented horror director) showed interest.
It wasn't until late summer, maybe even September, that I was able to meet with him and chat in person. I told him my beginning, my end, and the flurries of middledom that had no clear landing spots. And he helped. He helped me rule out the things that didn't make sense, that didn't fit the plot, and pull together the things that did. By the end of the meeting I had a storyboard going and all I needed to do was write the dialogue.
I transferred all my bootleg Word doc/scripts to a real script writing program and prepared my own crash course on how to write scripts properly. Over the course of 2 days I pumped out the remaining 8 episodes equalling about 80-85 pages, with little corrections and "What if Gabe said this" moments from Jaime which were very helpful. My friend Henry jumped in to edit tweaks in the first few episodes and entirely edit the last few. It was all coming together to look like an actual series. So finally, we're ready to complete filming. The only problem? It was November and we'd started this project last May. Weather was entirely different and against us in every way. But we filmed.
We cranked out back to back filming days in the first weekend, and another full weekend which just passed. We have one more day to go until I can say the filming portion is finally over. Maybe if I weren't involved as a writer, director, producer and actress it wouldn't be so draining. But, as I look over my amazing crew, I see that it's not just me that is ready to gladly crawl under a rock and sleep for at least a week. We've been busting our asses and from the footage I've seen thus far, it's been well worth it. My production team has been amazing and my actors have fully grown into their characters (to the point where we all keep confusing our real names for character names when talking to and about each other.) It's been quite the experience.
Now that it's almost reached it's point of conclusion, I've also realized it's made me aware of what I'm capable of. Will I pursue a career in any of the several hats I wore during this production? Not so sure, I do like my steady paycheck. But what I do know, is that I can if I wanted to. And maybe that's all I needed to learn....
Mucho thanks to Jona, Henry and Jerry (my clutch AD!) for all the time and effort you've dedicated.
Special thanks to Pablo, for his early involvement and pushing me to get this idea out of my head.
Mike, Jose, Cortes, Paul, Ariobin, Bryan, Amanda, my mom, Claudette, Danny and Frankie for helping bring my characters to life and sticking around on set to support when you could have gone home.
To everyone who keeps watching, commenting and supporting the series.
And a very incredible amount of thanks to Jaime. Besides the fact that you are the star of this show, you have stood by me and believed in me since day one and have fully committed yourself no matter how tired you got. Like Lynn says... "I owe you." ;)
Below are some videos. To my email subscribers, you'll have to go to my actual blog to see the vids (http://www.laurenjrivera.com/). The first was taken after I crashed on day 3 of filming and apparently woke everyone up from my snoring. Very funny, Jona. Very funny.
And if you haven't caught up with LINKED yet, here are Episodes 1 & 2... Enjoy!
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Orphans International and Capicu! came together to raise funds for Orphans International Dominican Republic branch at La Pregunta Arts Cafe by way of a variety show. I arrived a little early to the event, which would be masterfully emceed by Papo Swiggity and Divine. After me, arrived Mike and then Jaime. They retreated downstairs to the green room to run over the skit they'd be peforming with Jerry. As the show was close to starting I made my way downstairs and found Jaime and Mike looking worried. It turned out Jerry was stuck in New Jersey and the closest he could come to making it was maybe an hour into the show. We all looked at each other for a moment and then I checked out the script. They were going to redo a skit called Hooters Waiter, but without their third person it wasn't going to fly. Jaime was looking at me right in the eye and I knew what he was thinking without asking it.
"You want me to do it?" I asked.
The big "dun dun dunnnnn" behind this is that I'd never done a live stage performance before and I really don't go around promoting myself as an actress outside of the small cameos I've made. I looked over my boys whose stomachs were clearly tied in knots and said, "Ok. I'll do it. But we need to rehearse the shit out of this RIGHT NOW."
And so we did. For the next 30 minutes we ran the skit over and over until finally we all thought, This is actually going to work!
We returned to the cafe to hear the likes of Homeboy Sandman who just happens to be on my friend Sucio's label (High Water Music) and whose flow caught my interest immediately. It was after HS that our group was introduced and Jaime approached the stage to help the audience transition to comedy with his stand up. He did his thing (as he always does) and segued into our skit.
Was I nervous?
Until I got to the stage that is. Once I was up there seated across from Jaime, all nervousness flew out the window and I just went with it, which isn't hard at all when a) you know your boyfriend's comedic timing like the back of your hand and b) Mike shows up in short shorts and my main job is to act like there is nothing more I want than his package. I had lines and they were delivered well, we heard the crowd laugh uproariously and when it was all over we each received congrats and praise... even me; the little one that never did stage before. Now I know what Jaime means when he talks about the high he gets from performing live. I'm hoping to find a clip of the video to share soon, will post when I do.
Interesting night. A new task under the belt. Who knew.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I could care less about politics and had never exercised my right to vote. I never felt like my opinion mattered, things would just roll on as they always had. I watched my country fall apart under the leadership of a clueless man which only seemed to strengthen my belief because really, if my (our) opinion did matter would he have ever made it into a 2nd term? It all just seemed so... pointless.
And then the tide changed directions suddenly and out of nowhere. A black man and a woman were battling it out for the Democratic nomination for President. This is getting interesting, I thought to myself. I began to watch, I began to learn, I began to become... invested. Jon Stewart and Bill Maher were now heading two of my newest TV show favorites (sure, they aren't on MSNBC but baby steps for me, please.) I found myself in the middle of discussions I never thought I'd have, debating issues and policies. And then, to my surprise, it became even bigger than it already was.
Obama won the Democratic nomination and he was pitted against McCain, who I will say is a very honorable man, but who made a ridiculous choice for his running mate. Immediately, I was scared. It was so obvious to me that having someone like Palin so close to the most powerful seat in the nation was ludicrous, but I wondered, was America ready to overlook the lines of race and elect a black President even if they knew how terrible a President she would be should anything happen to McCain? I'm a 3rd generation American of Puerto Rican decent (which is actually a part of America anyway, but we won't get into that right now) and even I have experienced my share of racism. I was nowhere near convinced that the people of my country could overpower this.
It came down to the last weeks before election day where I bit my nails continuously as I monitored various polls. Democrats were sure of a victory, but I felt caution - 90% of anything I've ever wanted, I didn't get because (I feared) I wanted it too badly. Just wait until the eve of November 4th you guys, just wait and then celebrate! And then November 4th came.
I live in New York, so yeah, in essence my vote didn't "matter" because Obama was going to win NY regardless of how I voted. But it DID matter. It mattered because I was a part of an incredible wave of participation this country has never seen before. It mattered because I felt my heart beating through my chest as I entered the polling area. It mattered because it was about time I learned how to work a poll booth (and let me tell you, all those little levers are confusing. I pulled a monitor aside and asked her, "Can you please just show me how to vote for Obama?" With a smile, she obliged.) It mattered because if he won I could say I was a part of it. It mattered because...because it just DOES.
As I worked around my house, busying myself with anything that had nothing to do with watching election specials on TV, I started to lose control. I switched on the tube. Obama was leading but there was a gap of less than 75. I kept it together, we still hadn't won YET. I spoke to my friend Jerry on the phone, "I'll believe it when I see it" he said. I was with him 100%.
And then we saw it.
The West coast polls closed and Obama soared well past 270. I shouted incoherent noises and told Jerry I had to call him back. And when we hung up, and I sat down on my couch, I put my head in my hands and cried.
This wasn't just a battle to get a man into the White House. This had been a battle to show each and every one of us that change IS happening. Change in our ability to ignore race and respect capability and human quality. Change in the way my generation rocked the SHIT out of this vote (pardon my French, I needed it for the emphasis.) Change in the way we view opportunity. Change in the way we feel our voices are heard. Change. Change....Change.
For the first time in my life, I care about this country. I care what happens. I care to participate....
I leave you with this quote, I'm not sure who said it, but I feel it says it all...
“Rosa sat, so Martin could walk. Martin walked, so Obama could run. Obama is running, so our children can fly.”
and so now, we can say they can...
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Tonight I attended a party where Samantha Ronson was the DJ. From the moment we received the invites, there were whispers as to whether Lindsay would be attending as well. It made me wonder how Samantha feels about being, at one time, known only for her good DJing skills, to suddenly being famous and having her picture plastered everywhere simply because she made one of Hollywood's young and troubled stars into a lesbian? confused bisexual? Neither of which I care, and for what it's worth it seems the stories about Lindsay doing blow are long gone, so, good for those ladies! But as I stood there observing those around me gawk, glare and sneak phone pics of the twosome once Lindsay arrived, I wondered what does stardom even mean anymore? I feel as though there are now only three ways into Hollywood: scandal, YouTube or somehow finding your way into a hit show or movie no later than when you're 15 years old. Who gives a crap about quality anymore? And I find that incredibly sad.
I'm surrounded by a plethora of talented people. I may even be one myself. But, logically speaking, the majority of them will go unnoticed or beat themselves into the ground trying and then wake up and realize they are 40 and still at the same place there were 15 years earlier. Does that mean they should give up? Not at all, but you must come to understand why you're doing it. I do the things I do because there's a level of fulfilment I receive when I see my articles published, my screenwriting come to life or my photos end up in random places like AM NY, that I'll never get from the 9-5 I have. But the 9-5 is what pays me. It's why I was able to afford my own home and hire a stylist. And although my family may wonder why I wear myself so thin doing so much, I'll never question myself. I'll continue to live my life this way because it's what completes me.
So Ms. Lohan, my advice to you is live up the life God has granted you and run with it for as long as you can because you can only be young and in the eye of the paparazzi for so long before you become just that crazy Hollywood kid that never grew up. I wish you the best of luck as I do to all others who are striving for just a piece of your stardom.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
2. As you fight off the stares of totally creepy men costumed as wolves who love to dress in drag , become inspired to create a richly amateur movie depicting the horrors of two lovers who lose each other in a scary town called "Everything is Fake-ville." Convince yourself it will be very avant-garde.
3. Use props and studio lots when no one's looking to film very important climactic moments.
4. Take a break to stick your head in Jaws's mouth just to see if he'll bite.
5. Or, as an alternative to #4, hang out with a deranged Mad Hatter who, at any moment, might actually bite your head off.
6. Observe as dimwitted onlookers get skeeved out by the sight of rats crawling over a lady in a see-through coffin when in reality the rats are scared beyond belief to even be in there with her.
Afterwards, realize your boyfriend is missing and notice that he is balled up on a far away stoop repeating to himself, "I shall not be afraid. I shall not be afraid. Mickey Mouse is my friend."
At this point you shake your head, disbelieving that he could be so scared of a harmless creature. You stop when you're suddenly distracted by a tiny centipede sliding across the street several feet away from you sending you into a fight of screams and "God help me!" shouts.
7. Try to provoke one of the scary monsters to chase you so that you can catch the scene on film. Then actually find yourself screaming of fear as they chase and you no longer find it funny.
8. After several hours of running around the park, being scared by nonsense, filming things of greater nonsense and having a ton of fun doing it, rush back to your hotel just so that you can edit the film right there on the spot and have it ready to release the moment your laptop can hold an internet connection long enough for the upload process.
9. Blog about your experience and post your masterpiece so that all your friends, followers and family can comment on how amazingly fantastic your creative skills are.
Halloween Horror Night - The Jaime and Lauren Story
Uploaded by LaydeeRiv
10. Post a photo with the Simpsons family although it has nothing to do with the rest of your blog, simply to show people how much fun you had on your birthday vacation.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Jaime never ceases to amaze me with his multifaceted talent. My latest introduction was to his collaboration with one Pete Bune, a member of Long Island's original public access team of misfits called "The Slack Pack". Pete, on first notice, comes across as so calm, cool and collected you would never imagine him to jump in on bits like "Nigel Hardon's Dildo Galaxy." Yes, you read that correctly. So I guess it's at this point that I must provide a disclaimer: THE HUMOR YOU ARE ABOUT TO EXPERIENCE IS R-RATED!
Mind-warpingly-funny Jaime meets so-out-there-funny Pete and they come together as the newest comedic Voltron warrior: PB&J (yes, like the sandwich.) Now, I've been hearing about this project for quite some time, seen the interaction of the two at table readings, and promised to be the squishiness between their PB and J (TMI, sorry.) But, it wasn't until a brisk Sunday in October that I joined the duo (and several other of Pete's faithful friends) to team in on the creation of their intro.
There were costume changes, makeup applications, long absurd lists of fornication and baby chucking, and yet I came out of it feeling completely normal. Maybe that just means I'm strange. So here you are, the intro to the upcoming season of "The PB&J Show".. (To my family and friends who are easily offended by mention of bodily parts, you are fully warned! And remember, it's all in fun!)
Breakdancers for life!
Monday, October 6, 2008
(For those of you that subscribe via email you'll have to click on the highlighted "Style Me Episode 2" in order to see the vid.)
Thursday, October 2, 2008
I don't have to tell you what MySpace grew into since then, unless of course you've taken up residence at the North Pole and spend your days playing cards with Santa (oh no wait, he friend requested me last week - never mind.) Suddenly everyone's computer screen at work had MySpace plastered somewhere until the boss went by and a series of minimizing mouse clicks reigned throughout the office. The site became a place to display your personality to the world, unless of course your profile was set to private. And for those not interested in having people find them, you could easily list your full name as Seymour Butts without a moment's hesitation from the site. All was fine and dandy until Facebook came along.
At first you could only join if you had a college email address. Then you could join via your company email. Then Facebook said to hell with the MySpace competition and let everyone join but full names were more of a necessity. I joined because... I'm a drone and do anything everyone else does. Plus, you can't Facebook-stalk people unless you're a member.
I constantly received notices saying so-and-so wanted me to add an application that did things like rate how hot people thought I was. I would instantly reject, knowing damn well that these applications were just another ploy for God to remind me how not flattering my hips were becoming. It was all so complicated that I just stuck with accepting friends and writing on walls. If it were that difficult for me to comprehend, there would be no way anyone older than me would find there way around...right?
My cousin Danielle became new to Facebook while we were vacationing in the Outer Banks of North Carolina...
"Lauren, how do I add pics?"
"Danielle, pass me the suntan lotion."
"Lauren, seriously! How do I update my status?"
"You realize we're on a beach right?"
"Come on, this is fun! Everyone I know is on here!"
In the week that followed, Danielle came to believe she was the most popular girl this side of the Chesapeake Bay bridge tunnel... until she had friended everyone she knew, and then there were no new friend requests. Poor thing.
Her peek into the world of social networking prompted an invitation for my godmother/her mother to join Facebook as well. Which clearly left me aware of what would come next...
My mom joining Facebook.
First there was the email notification I received that screamed "Your mother wants to be your friend!" Once that was accepted, this is what was written on my wall:
Well Mom, first things first this:
means your bisexual so I suggest you change that to simply "Men", unless there is something you'd like to tell me (in which case I think I'm upset you chose to tell the Facebook world first.)
"But I'm only saying I'm interested in making both male and female friends."
"Umm, no. That's not what it means mom. Do you want my help or not?"
I expect that by this evening I'll be given her password to fix up her page, post some pics and make her look like the coolest mom on the planet (which of course she is.) And will have completed the social experiment I was never aware I was a part of; the experiment in which I see social networking close the age gap and cause me to fight my mom for the award for best Facebook profile.
Which is all good... as long as she doesn't join MySpace.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
You ever watch American Idol or Dancing with the Stars and see how the people you thought would win don't because people didn't vote for them thinking it was pointless bc so many people would vote for them that their individual little vote didn't matter? And then BAM! the people you thought would win don't or the people you didn't think would win do because of those who DIDNT vote... Well the Presidential election is the same thing.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Upon entering the reception area I was immediately warm and fuzzy with smells of lavender and citrus. The foreign woman behind the counter (we’ll call her The Russian) greeted me in a way that relayed she’s a total bitch but trying extra hard to be welcoming. She guided me up a walk way set to resemble a wooden bridge, while piling slippers, towel, robe and disposable bathing suit onto my open arms as if preparing me for battle. By her guidance I was hurried through the locker room area (an open space, not a room) and didn’t understand what the rush was since it seemed I was the only one around. After leaving my belongings in a locker, I found a room with some sinks and mirrors, closed the door behind me and changed into the “bathing suit”. Its fabric reminded me of the caps worn when entering a medical facility. Clearly, it was not flattering to my shape.
I emerge from the changing room and find The Russian. After asking her where I’m supposed to go, she rambles off, “Go shower, then go to the coal sauna, then bath, then steam room and then the body scrub.” This was all in one breath and I lost her after “shower.” I just smiled and headed for the back area where the showers were hidden by a contorted wall of tile. As I stood there, about to turn the shower on, I suddenly wondered why I even needed to shower, I was about to go sweat in a sauna. So I stood there for a minute and then quickly shut it off, toweled off and placed my robe back on. Walking out to the open area, a small Asian lady met me by the sauna and stripped me of my robe in one quick movement. Standing there in the shitty makeshift bathing suit, I asked how long I was supposed to stay in the sauna. She instructed 5-10 minutes, then opened the midget-sized door to the stone cave and ushered me in.
The heat hit me immediately as I made my away across the cave to the back where I sat on a wooden bench. There was no one in there but me and so I breathed in deeply and told myself to relax. This works for about 2.56 minutes when I suddenly realize this place is HOT! I look at the ceiling, at the bench around me, at the floor. This is supposed to be soothing, I remind myself. But, in just a few more minutes I give up and exit the sauna, running into The Russian once more. She instructs that I can go into either pool, but that cold would be better for me and then leaves immediately. I touch the colder pool with my toe and instantly notice she forgot to categorize it as “ice pool.” F’ that! Into the warm pool I sink, accompanied by floating lemons on either side of me. I take a deep breath… And then start flicking lemons across the pool with my index finger. Within moments I’m bored and apparently not good at this relaxation thing.
I climb out of the pool and ask a small Asian woman if I can go to the body scrub and she tells me I must do the steam room first. With a sigh I head towards it. I nearly lose my breath as the door closes behind me and must remind myself this is not a Korean water torture method. I last 30 seconds and exit. I find the same woman once more and ask her, almost pleading, “Body scrub now?” She looks at me baffled, turns to another woman and speaks in a language I don’t understand. I’m sure they are telling each other what a worthless piece of crap I am and how they wish they could throw me out. But, they do it with smiles. I am directed to the back of the loft, winding beside walls of stone and bypass a woman lying on a bed, covered in towels and adorned with a cucumber face mask. That looks nice.
A wall of bamboo rods separates the woman from another area with two beds where I am directed by the Asian woman behind me. She directs me to the bed on the left and tells me to lie down. I take off my robe and begin to climb onto the bed when she tells me, “Take clothes off.” Huh? “Naked,” she clarifies. I’m not sure if she saw the gulp go down my throat, but I’m sure she heard it. She doesn’t realize she’s talking to someone who goes into a bathroom stall to change while in the women’s locker room. “Naked?” I repeat. She just looks at me. I slowly begin to strip, all the while coaxing myself into believing this is supposed to be an angelic experience.
Within moments of me lying down, she begins to throw buckets of hot-warm water over my body. Maybe she wasn’t “throwing” necessarily, but I was too busy staring at the tiled walls that were beginning to resemble the shower room of a women’s detention center. When I’m soaked she starts rubbing what feels like Brillo up and down my body. While completely uncomfortable, I count down the moments until she’s done. “Over,” she says. I jump up thinking she means the torture is over. “No, no. Over (she makes a hand movement) other side.” I try not to frown and flip over.
Now my mind wanders and I imagine that as I lay there some fictitious woman who I loath because of her perfect body type gasps at the sight of me and says “Lauren, you’re so brave to go commando like that.” As I look up at her I see that she is in a bathing suit. I try to cover myself up but clearly I have nothing to do that with except my hands. “Brave?” I question feebly. “Yeah, you didn’t take the bathing suit option.” As she walks away giggling to herself I would shout (straight out of a Seinfeld episode) “Option?! There was no option!”
I blink myself out of the nightmare and am fully relieved to find out that end of the massage which followed the scrub signals that we’re finished. I'm handed my suit (as if that were relevant anymore) and head to the shower where it all started. This time it’s actually useful. Fully cleansed and ready to depart, I wrap myself in only my robe and step out of the shower area where I see… men! Several of them! They are robed and moving around the loft, paired with women who I’m assuming are their girlfriends, wives or mistresses. Without looking anyone in the eye, I shuffle towards the locker area where a couple surrounds my locker. It’s immediately obvious to me that I’m the only single person in the establishment and fear an oncoming invitation to a threesome. (What is this place?!) Looping around the now coed locker area, I find a room all the way in the back that has a door and so I jump in and lock it behind me.
When I resurface the woman that tortured, err scrubbed me, finds me and ushers me to a bar area where she hands me warm lemon water and a plate of fruit. I’m allergic to fruit. I’m afraid to mention this. But, as a few moments pass, I see that she’s aware I’m not eating. I try to explain I’m allergic to fruit and she looks at the same woman she spoke with earlier about me. Smiles and takes the fruit away. Then she sticks around and it dawns on me she’s waiting for a tip. Only problem is I didn’t think of this ahead of time and so I only have $10 in cash on me. I roll up the money in a way that makes it hard to see what the roll consists of, hand it over to her and make a run for the exit.
At the reception area I press for the elevator and wait anxiously for its arrival. I was unaware that The Russian was behind me until she said, “Great surprise wasn’t it?” How incredibly ironic for her to ask. I smile and quickly jump into the elevator ramming the DOOR CLOSE button with my thumb.
My boyfriend meets me downstairs and immediately asks, “Are you okay? You look like you’ve been violated.” He’s distraught to think his gift may have turned out badly. I reassured him that his idea was a perfect one and it’s not his fault that I’m not comfortable being naked. Over Korean BBQ dinner I tell him the entire story and he’s in tears with laughter which causes me to laugh to the point of stomach pain. Not only does the experience make for an entertaining story, it will probably be the most memorable anniversary gift I’ll ever receive.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Instead of telling you the story behind the whole process, the winning stylist (I screened about 5), Rashad Webb and I, decided on making a video to document the experience. Below is episode one, an introduction to us both. Check it ;)
Episode 2 will be coming soon... Are you ready to see what's in my closet??
(If you'd like information on Rashad, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will make sure to introduce you.)
Thursday, September 11, 2008
"Bobby Fisher" of Bombin' Magazine was well aware of my friendship with the legendary b-ball/DJ/sneaker guru/entrepreneur and elbowed me in the rib while asking, "So you think you can get Bob to do a piece in Volume 3?" After consoling said rib, I replied, "I could ask." I hit up Bob who agreed to the piece as long as "you're the one writing it." Ah! Scary! But, I said, "Fine." See, here's the thing with writing. After you get passed your first artist/celebrity interview, the first time your editor rips apart your writing and you think you'll die and then you realize after re-reading what you submitted "Damn, since when did I lose consciousness of grammar?", after all that... it becomes easier. Almost routine... As long as you're not dealing with someone who knows you.
As I sat there prepping for the interview I blanked out. I couldn't think of an angle or damn thing worth asking. I knew a lot about Bob and I couldn't get out of that mindset to remind myself that not everyone knew what I knew and they would want to know. I had to pretend I knew nothing about Bob. It helped that as we drove in the publisher's Range Rover up to Bob's house, the crew (consisting of EIC, publisher and photographer) spit around random ideas, helping me to settle on asking Bob completely random associations of events and sneakers. When we arrived at his home, I was ready... sort of.
As we greeted him hello and he hugged me tightly, he mentioned how much he was looking forward to having it be me to do this. He said, "I get asked the same questions all the time. It's cool to know someone who knows me is doing it this time and has the edge to be different." GULP! We settled down at his dining table and I set up my voice recorder, starting with the most obvious questions as to where he's from and all that wonderfulness. "Lauren, you know where I'm from," he laughed. "Bob! Let's pretend I don't know you. I just need this all on record so I can pull it all together when I write." He laughed and gave in. The interview continued with laughs and quality answers. When it was all done I felt both relieved and content. Bob thanked me for such a fun interview and I left happy.
As an interviewee, Bob had provided me with entertaining information that helped me bring together an enjoyable piece. As a friend and mentor, he had given me the confidence to create something fresh and original. Thanks, Bob!
Friday, September 5, 2008
Before I begin the storytelling, let me set a disclaimer: I do not usually analyze politics, I've never before taken the time to watch a debate, and November 4th will be the first time I've ever voted (and I've already had the opportunity to do so twice.) Maybe it's these points combined that make me the best person to state what's obvious since I'm fresh to the subject at hand.
For the duration of 2008 thus far, through my non-political perspective, I had only been aware of one battle: Hilary vs. Obama. McCain who? Who cares! There was a historic milestone developing around the race for President that had nothing to do with the Republican party. For months I saw the ads, heard the debates, and viewed the increasing involvement by my generation in determining who would take the Democratic nomination. Personally speaking, I believe an Obama/Hilary ticket would have been phenomenal, but after seeing them at odds I knew it was not possible. Regardless, those months were legendary. After all was said and done I had one lingering fear. The fear that all the efforts to bring change to our government while simultaneously changing our history by the addition of either a female or African American President, would be pointless because the majority of Americans may not be ready. And what is so disappointing is that the values and standpoints of either candidate could be entirely irrelevant if a voter couldn't see past gender and race lines. And it would be in that case that McCain, who just sat silently and unseen all along, could just sweep up the nomination for President. But, then the conventions happened...
First, the Democratic National Convention where Hilary and Bill rocked regardless of the fact that they won't be able to call the White House home again in 2008. Where the audience was young, vibrant and ready for something new and something smart to happen with this government. And where Obama gave a speech that moved me. It wasn't that I was trying to let it move me either, I was just listening and suddenly felt my eyes burning with happy tears. I'm not normally that dramatic, seriously. Maybe I don't need to see an extensive resume in politics to feel that someone knows what they are talking about and that, more importantly, the person I'm listening to commands change and immediately makes me want to do something about it. If he can do that to me, someone who normally could care less about paying attention to anything discussed on CNN during campaign time, then I have no doubts about his ability to get others to listen. Sometimes engagement is the strongest force someone can have. You can talk politics all day but if I'm not engaged from the initial moment, anything you end up saying is entirely lost.
Then came McCain's choice of Sarah Palin for VP. I could end this whole blog entry right now. His choice has to be the most absurd thing I've ever heard. But, I'll get to that in a second. Let me touch on the Republican National Convention. Probably the single most boring event I've ever seen on television where everyone is either 1)old, 2)white, 3)wearing a ridiculous hat, 4)looking stuffy in suits and ties or worse, 5)all of the above. Where was the diversity? And I'm not sure if anyone noticed but any non-white people in the audience looked completely staged. Anyway, the audience isn't necessarily the important part. The speeches were what solidified my belief to continue being anti-Republican. First off, why doesn't anyone come right out and say "Bush ****ed up!" Instead, we hear how the Republicans will "change" the state of the country. I'd have so much more respect for them if they would acknowledge their obvious 8 year mistake. I'll admit I didn't hear Palin's speech, but I was too busy learning her husband is part of a secession group that is looking to make Alaska its own country. Um, excuse me! (Hand raised) Isn't McCain's whole slogan "Country first"?? Ironic isn't it? Then there was the rest of his speech which I don't even remember except for that he's a war hero. I respect the man for that, he went through horrific ordeals as a soldier and deserves much praise... but that doesn't equal Presidential glory for me. Not to mention... were anything to happen to McCain during office a completely unqualified and totally off the wall person would then become President and have the greatest power in all of the world?? Oh wait, this country HAS been through that already. And have we not learned ANYTHING????? **Sigh**
Bill Maher and Jon Stewart are my heroes. Check out this clip from the Daily Show that says it all...
(9.11.08...After this post encouraged several conversations on the matter I came to this point of being reminded why I've never been that interested in politics to begin with... No matter who wins the Presidency, the odds of me being directly affected, whether immediately or ever, are not tremendous. The President isn't going to change my career path, or help my loved ones with the issues affecting their lives. The most I (or anyone) can do as a citizen of this country is to live my life how I want/need to and do my own personal best to make this world a better place. Because, when it comes down to it, we're the only ones that can make real change happen. )
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Check out me, Latin Daddy (Mike) and Jaime on our way to Connecticut last December...
Monday, August 11, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Over the next few weeks that followed, an audition for the commercial was held where both Jaime and Jerry were asked to try out, and having been the ones to create the thing, they landed spots easily. Mike was asked to audition as well and quickly made the cut. The final version, which combined both their script and some improv from the actors wrapped up in June and looked a little something like this:
This is an unaired version of just Jaime and Mike's cuts re-edited by Lyn-don McCray:
New York International Latino Film Festival Promo Shoot
On the weekend of July 4th the commercial was released to AMC theaters around NYC. People who ventured to see Dark Knight were greeted by the witty catchphrases of my boys. Another catapult to stardom was the release of the commercial to Time Warner Cable channels. I started to receive feedback that the commercial was viewed on TBS, TNT and the Food Network. But, it was the week leading into the festival that brought the spot to air during the Today show. As I stood brushing my teeth, I overheard "It's about a girl from the Bronx" come from my TV and ran out (brush still in my mouth) to watch the commercial in its entirety. There's something incredibly gratifying about seeing the faces of your friends/clients on the tube and it not be an appearance on the local news.
Before we knew it, the week of the festival had arrived. It all began with the opening night/red carpet for the premiere of "American Son". Jerry's face was plastered all over welcome signs and volunteer badges, while Jaime appeared on the badges of filmmakers. These still shots, taken during the commercial filming, were everywhere and semi-creepy after a while, but nonetheless they only demonstrated how closely associated the guys were with the festival. Jaime you forgot your badge? No worries! Just go stand next to a filmmaker and smile, they'll let you in.
The red carpet frenzy wasn't entirely new to me considering I've worked them as a runner in the past. What was different was seeing the likes of Daddy Yankee and P-Rod (Paul Rodriguez's son) walk down that fuzzy crimson walkway. The majority of the celebrities were Latino (shocker!), and although the title of the festival clearly indicates the films must in some way relate to Latinos, this was still new to me. Furthermore, seeing a young woman nearly pass out from extensive bouts of crying after passing by Daddy Yankee, made me do a double take. What world is this? Who cares! I love it.
Wednesday's premiere of the short film "Sandman's Box", was a proud display of the hard work created by my good friends and colleagues. Watching them all up on the big screen, or knowing they were behind the camera, was an exhilarating experience. Not to mention I forgot how mentally horrific the premise for the film was and nearly spent most of my time hiding my face behind my hands. It was a scary as hell masterpiece.
(Cast, director and producer of "Sandman's Box")
The next five nights consisted of juggling red carpet interviews, attending premieres and making new friends. By Sunday we were all burnt out and wrapped the week up with some laughs, some awards and some great memories. I could consider that I was pretty involved in the festival this time around, but something tells me they haven't seen the last of me ;-).
Monday, July 14, 2008
"Where's Jaime?" was the second thing that came out of Imani's mouth (the first had been "Titi Nina, do you want to see my sexy bathing suit?) I explained to her that Jaime had to work and that she'd see him next time which caused an instant pout on her part. I distracted her with music that made her shimmy in the backseat as I drove the ten miles to Dorney Park. My GPS guided me to the administrative office of the park instead of the main entrance. As I did loops, Imani made a point of telling me, "Titi, we've already been here." She's four and already a smartass... I love it.
After finding a parking spot, I lugged her and our bag of essentials to the park entrance. Once paying the entry fee I thought it would be best to have her give the bathroom a visit before heading to the wave pool. With incredible focus I watched Imani like a hawk watches a field mouse, scooped her up and rushed into the bathroom. Jumping in the first stall, we each did our business and all was well until I heard a man's voice.
At first I thought maybe the walls were thin. Maybe this guy's voice was really loud. Or, the not so great theory, maybe I was in the men's bathroom. I peered out the crack of the stall door and was quickly shown that my latter theory was the winner. The irony that I hadn't seen one male when I entered the wrong bathroom and now it was overly obvious as 3 men stood at urinals (which I hadn't seen either) and one man stood in the stall next to me. I turned such a deep red that I looked sun burnt and then started to giggle, which sent Imani into a fit of giggles and which was picked up on by the guy next to me who had figured out what was going on and giggled. I picked Imani up, told her to bury her face in my chest and ran full speed out of the bathroom and as far away from it as possible. When we were clear of the bathroom Imani was still laughing, and I was still embarrassed.
After that I vowed to relax and stop being so paranoid that I would lose the kid, or else I'd end up in a shark infested pool instead of the wave pool. The rest of the day went on without any serious injury, loses or tantrums. Imani asked for googles which she is wearing in this pic on the left, but then quickly tore them off saying they hurt. Kids.
After hours of water rides, and some kiddie attractions on land, I was pooped. Imani, on the other hand was ready to keep on. Either I'm getting really old or this kid's DNA is mixed with the Energizer Bunny. It's probably a mix of both. But after the day I had, I'm well aware that I'm still very much in favor of the child return policy (when they don't belong to you, you get to enjoy them and then clock out at the end of the day.)
One day I'll be ready for my own... I'm thinking 2018 maybe. For now I'll continue my visits with this adorable little girl and pay more attention to bathroom signs.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
(Pictured left- Tony Plana aka Papa of Ugly Betty.. and he looked identical to this photo)
The shittiest thing for you to figure out when you enter GCT is that you either just missed your train or that you didn't just miss it but missed it by enough where you won't curse yourself for missing it, and yet become grumpy anyway knowing you have 30 minutes until the next one leaves the station. I was completely engulfed in the latter as I stomped towards my train whose doors were not yet open. The God awful heat of the train tunnel sent me into a U-turn back towards the main air-conditioned terminal. Upon the first swivel of my U-turn a man, walking alone, was coming towards me. Suddenly I found every need to stop walking and grab my cell phone out of my bag as if it were ringing (it clearly was not.) The man on his way to passing me was Mr. Plana. My first reaction: Figure out what train car he's going into. Second reaction: Question why he's taking a train.
I'd heard that Ugly Betty had begun shooting in NYC just recently and, just as recently, I had mentioned aloud to the wind that I wish I could happen upon the show's set. I don't watch much TV- a)I'm too busy to commit to something every week and b) I could care less for more than half the shit that's on the tube. However, there are 3 shows I try my best to stick with and UB is one of those few. It's my lighthearted, feel good, wittily (word?)-written, girl power show and Plana's character makes my heart melt. Too bad for me, Mr. Plana had done a U-turn himself and was now walking past me into the main terminal. Apparently we shared a deep disliking of sticky heat - what we're the odds!
I gave it a few beats and then followed him out of the tunnel and into the terminal, but in the process lost him. I wondered when I'd suddenly crossed into stalker mode, but the fact that I was already reciting how I would say hello proved I was already over the edge. Ten minutes later I was done indirectly looking for him and proceeded with my return to the train that would take me home. As I passed cars I side glanced into each wondering where he'd chosen to sit. Half way through I gave up and just entered the next car. Plopping down into an open seat, I dug my phone from my bag once more and when I looked up Plana was sitting two rows in front of me. His row was blocked out by a man sitting opposite of him so to go any closer would have made me look ridiculous (not that I didn't already seem that way to myself.)
And so we rode. Me glancing every now and then to see Plana clearly going over his next script. What I wouldn't give to grab that script and run! (to what? the next car?) To know how a UB script was laid out and to have insight into the future of my favorite characters would have been ultimate bliss. But, sad for me, fortunate for Plana, I never had my opportunity. When the train reached my stop, I grabbed my belongings and lingered near his seat. Were it not for the fact that me saying anything to him would instantly give off a clue to all those sitting around who he was and potentially ruin his late night ride home(?), I might have leaned in close and opened my mouth (to speak you freaky fools!) I could have sworn he glanced my way, less because I'm an astoundingly beautiful woman (I'm not) and more so because I was wearing this incredibly colorful dress that everyone seemed to be noticing today.
Ding Dong! This is the stop for blahblah the next stop is blahblahblah.
I exited the train, never saying what I wanted to, to Mr. Plana. So here it is: You're an awesome TV dad, you show too much heart to not actually be that way in real life, and I hope your show goes on forever!!! Oh... and yay for world peace!
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Pablo: So I have this idea for a short film. It's about this guy...
Lauren: ...that you want Jaime to play?
Jaime:...who is a slacker that's called to do something bigger with his life.
Pablo: So once I cut the trailer...
Lauren: we'll come to realize that this isn't just a short...
Jaime:... it should be a webseries.
And so was born the demolisher of what was left of my free time. But I'm not complaining. Here's why...
Back when I was a wee little writer, my inspiration came from books written by R.L. Stine and later Dean Koontz. I was a sci-fi/fantasy/thriller lover until freshman year of college when suddenly it became easier to write about my own life in the version of chic lit rather than the imaginary stuff that took more brain power. As movies like "Harry Potter" and TV shows like "Heroes" made their way into popularity, I'd kick myself thinking that I could have written things of that caliber had I only tried harder. Instead, I had thrown all creative ambitions to the wind and settled with a job that paid me to do the other thing I was good at; managing someone else's life. So here, many years after I'd packed away previous manuscripts, I was given the chance to reinvent myself and my craft (can I even call it a craft if I haven't been fully successful yet?)
Pablo and Jaime spit out ideas while I worked diligently to string them all into something that... made sense. When the script was finalized and approved by all, Pablo went to work doing what he's good at (finding locations, setting up shot lists, etc. while Jaime and I ran lines. Sidebar-- to that point in time I hadn't seen Jaime act in anything where he wasn't a) a goofball, b) a maniac or c) gay. Gabriel, the character after which the title was named, is just a normal guy and as simple as that sounds, I feared it might be the hardest thing for Jaime to pull off. As we adjusted to the script (oh, and it's "we" because I would be acting opposite in him- this endeavor was triple fold), I became confident that this thing we were creating was in fact, good. And with that in mind, we went to work.
After a six hour shoot and some hours on the editing table with Pablo, this was the first run trailer.
We blasted this trailer on our Myspace pages and through email blasts. The reply that resonated to each of us was the question "What happens next?" with a certain degree of urgency. We had an audience. An audience that wanted more than just a short film. And so became the idea of the webseries.
Off the bat we knew "Missing" for a title, wasn't going to work. Pablo and I were stuck on one word names and symbols. At first stuck on words revolving around "dream" or "missing", it wasn't until I sat through the movie "Iron Man" that I would come across the one word that blazed like a lighthouse beacon. It was a name. Simple and yet strong. I immediately texted Pablo who agreed as soon as he received the text. I took a deep breath. We had a name. Now, we just needed a storyline.
Over the course of the next month I would write and we would film, two more episodes introducing new characters and plot twists. The scripts flowed from my thoughts so easily that I was surprised I hadn't lost my knack for this kind of stuff. As we continue with this series, I will keep you informed of its progress. Once the first 3 episodes have been fully edited, we will begin release. In the mean time I'm hoping to land an exclusivity deal with one of my many social networking connections to make this project fully legit. But in the mean time, it's fun as all hell :)
Here are some on set photos:
Amanda Andujar (Angel), Jaime Fernandez (Gabriel) and Danny Rivera (Danny)
Pablo Diaz and moi
Me, Amanda, Jaime, Pablo and Jerry Diaz (Jason)
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
A random blog I used to keep caught the eye of an Associate Editor at Rap-Up Magazine, who reached out to me via the ever so useful Myspace, and asked if I had any interest in music journalism. Sure, I could totally do that! ( I was bluffing, I'd never even tried at it.) And just like that I was given the opportunity for my first phone interview, a piece on Miss Issa. Sweet girl, haven't heard from or about her since. Oh well, wherever you are Miss Issa, thanks for helping me open the door! From that piece which was ripped apart by my editor (rightfully so!), I began to improve my journalistic skill and went on to interview the likes of Kia Shine, Zion, The Dey and even attended the Boost Mobile Rock Corps Concert in Radio City Music Hall where I met the boys from...
Bombin' Magazine. Completely by chance, I sat next to the Editor in Chief and Creative Director from the mag who happened to be totally cool, totally talkative and totally ready to bring me on board. At first it was all about connects, like how I could have a star-studded birthday party (with all the friends I'd made along the way) and have it dubbed as their extravaganza fully equipped with the tasty liqs of Trump vodka. But later, as the EIC suddenly realized, "HEY! This chic can write!" I was brought in as a contributor and given the chance to interview my good friend and mentor, Bobbito Garcia (turntable master with an extensive sneaker sense and even greater heart.) Pics from that interview will come in time. OK, here's a little sneak peek right up above.