Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The NYILFF and Me

A monster was born several months ago. It began when the mastermind of the NY International Latino Film Festival (NYILFF), Calixto Chinchilla, asked Jaime and Jerry to pen a script for the NYILFF promotional commercial. Me, being the duo's manager (oh, I didn't mention I do that too?) had them camp out at my house to break night writing the script. They call it "forcing creativity", I call it "getting their asses to write on purpose." Inevitably, it worked and the next day they had a script to present. There were giggles around the room as it was read aloud and we were all convinced it was a winning piece.

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:

New York International Latino Film Festival 2008

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

Godmothering 101

"Lauren, DO NOT LOSE IMANI!" was the advice my mother gave me the night before I left to Pennsylvania to pick up my 4 year old goddaughter. By the time I arrived in Allentown I was terrified of a possible abduction while on my watch. As Imani bounded out of her house, a ball of energy, I quickly strapped her into her booster chair before someone could run out and grab her. I was being ridiculous.

"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

Midnight Ride with Tony Plana

I'm convinced Grand Central Terminal (GCT) here in NYC is a place where parallel universes collide. Where there's a chance you'll run into an old friend from grammar school. Where a nun will walk along side a cross dresser. And where Tony Plana will zoom past you...

(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!