Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Convention Reporter Choo


Choo is a convention reporter for and also writes for  Her love of the horror genre started at a young age which also led to her being grounded several times for sneaking into scary movies…She has covered several conventions over the years and has most recently started volunteering with The Walker Stalkers at their conventions (which just happens to be her favorite).

When she is not writing, being silly on social media (@Choofabulous) or  chasing down cool people to interview she likes to hang out with the guy she married, the two boys she birthed, and her two miniature dachshunds that think they are pitbulls. She calls Charlotte, NC her home….for now.

What do you like to do besides writing, reporting or interviewing?

I really like just hanging out. I spend a lot of time with my boys (11 and 5) and my husband. I have a few girlfriends I like to get together with and just complain about everything in general (kidding). I like to watch movies and just be a regular human. I am always looking for a new adventure.

How would you explain Walker Stalker Con to a first timer?

You are going to have the time of your life! Everyone is so approachable and kind and they make the experience like their first time as well. The celebrities are so appreciative of their fans and just really love to be there as well. I would tell them to pace themselves and try not to get overwhelmed, there is always someone on hand to guide you and help you get to where you need to go.

What's the most interesting thing that's happened to you at a convention?

I don’t even know where to begin with this one. There are so many interesting characters at conventions. The Cosplayers are incredible and like actors they rarely come out of character and some of them can be scary! I think one of the coolest things to happen was Bruce Campbell giving my husband and I marriage advice the day before we got married!

Do you ever get nervous when interviewing celebrities?

Nope! I look at it this way. They are people just like everyone else and what they do is the profession they have chosen to do. It would be like getting nervous before interviewing a plumber.  The editors for the sites I work for always ask me to try to get the interviews because they say I am not scared to ask anybody questions.  I think the only thing that really makes me nervous is if I don’t feel like I am familiar enough with their work to ask an educated question. I try to do a lot of research before I approach someone for an interview. I am not a big fan of the sound of crickets so I try to be on top of things.

What are the Walker Stalkers James & Eric like?

Those two guys are fantastic.  I am pretty sure the energizer bunny got his inspiration from THEM! I swear they must bleed coffee because they are always on. They want everyone to have a great time even if it costs them days without sleep. I worked with Eric pretty closely at the Chicago convention and I think we are both a tad OCD which served us well.  James never stops moving! I kind of think of him as the blur you see buzzing by and he always has great shoes ;)  They both just have this overwhelming desire to make people smile and help make memories for people who may not otherwise get the chance to participate in such events.  I am so happy I have gotten to know them pretty well over the past year.

Will you explain how your obsession with shoes started?

Hahaha! I think I need a therapist couch for this one. I have always loved shoes because of the variety available. My mom says that whenever it was time to go school shopping I always made a bee-line for the shoe department. Nothing makes you feel better than a new pair of shoes and as a female who struggled with body image issues…no matter how big the rest of you gets…your feet stay the same size! Obviously my favorites are Jimmy Choo, but I also love Manolo’s …neither of which I can my friends just started calling me Choo.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever gotten?

It’s sounds incredibly cliché but my husband telling me “Go for it, you only live once” really struck a nerve with me. The past year has been probably the most exciting one I have had in a long time. My kids are old enough that I can leave for a few days for a convention and not feel wrecked with guilt. This things that I do and the people I get to meet excites me. A lot of times my family is able to come along and my kids get to meet the people that they see on television and in the movies as well and they think that is really cool. I like to think that they see me doing what I love now in my 40’s and will not wait quite as long to pursue what they love.

Is there anything you'd like to add?

If there is anyone out there reading this that has never been to a convention add it to your bucket list. It is the one time that there is a room full of people with similar interests as yours and you may make some new friends out of it. I know I sure did!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

"Giant Sloth" Creator Paul Hornschemeier

Paul Hornschemeier is the author of the critically acclaimed graphic novels "Mother, Come Home," "The Three Paradoxes", and the New York Times Best Seller "Life with Mr. Dangerous," as well as the short story collections "Let Us Be Perfectly Clear" and "All and Sundry." His most recent collection, "Artists Authors Thinkers Directors" groups 100 portraits from his art blog "The Daily Forlorn," a featured illustration blog on Tumblr.

His prose and comics have been translated into eight languages and garnered international awards and have appeared in publications ranging from Life Magazine to The Wall Street Journal.
He has taught art and creative writing for The University of Chicago and lectured internationally on art, literature, and modern media.

His animation and artwork appears on IFC’s “Comedy Bang! Bang!”, now in its second season. He recently wrote, directed, and produced a live action short, "Daniel in the Factory," based on his feature script of the same name, and is developing a variety of live action and animated programs for television.

He lives and works in Boston, Massachusetts. He and his wife have a cat. And a kid. The kid really loves that cat.


What is "Giant Sloth”?

Giant Sloth is a short animated film. It’s a combination of all my interests, ranging from surrealist filmmaking to bizarre, dusty museum exhibits, to animation from the 60s, to dark comedy, to… well, a lot of things. So let’s just say it’s a short animated film about a museum curator whose life is being pulled out from under him and he’s being dumped into a modern world he’s scared of and has avoided by choice. In response to all this: he starts seeing things, daydreaming, and just generally losing his mind.

How have your previous projects prepared you to make this film?

I feel like my previous projects always prepare for whatever it is I’m currently working on, though that’s never by conscious plan. I stumbled into animation and film, thought those are two things I’ve always loved…

I’ve been writing and drawing graphic novels for over a decade and have been working in animation for the past four years. I did the animation on IFC’s Comedy Bang! Bang! and I write and direct a weekly animated web series on YouTube, Forlorn TV. I’ve also been working in writing screenplays and directing small films for a couple years. One of the (live action) shorts is available through this campaign. So… all of that has fed, in one way or another, into Giant Sloth.

How did you choose your cast and crew?

Casting Paul Giamatti was first. I had the idea for Giant Sloth a while ago, several years ago, I think. But it wasn’t until I started working with Paul and his production company (Touchy Feely) that the idea rose back up in the pecking order of projects. I really just had a treatment about a year ago, so when I wrote the script, I was really writing for Paul. Which was such a huge relief when he responded to the script and wanted to do it.

Jason Mantzoukas was someone I knew through Scott Aukerman, just on a mutual respect level (Jason’s a comic book enthusiast, and I love all his comedy). I had wanted to figure out a way to work with him and his voice is just about one of the best comedic voices out there…

Robert Popper was someone I actually connected with through twitter, again just out of mutual admiration for our work. He and I actually recorded another little film together that I’ll hopefully announce more about soon. After we did that and I still had an opening for the jerky boss, I had to have him in that role. Thankfully he said yes.

Kate McKinnon and I have the same manager. So, that was just a matter of my/her manger handing her the script and Kate liking it enough to sign on. I think she’s THE BEST person to come along on Saturday Night Live in a while.

Although I’m working with Scott on other projects, I was probably the most hesitant to approach him to be in the film, just because he’s such a phenomenally busy guy. The amount of granite-solid comedy content he’s producing right now is just… it’s amazing. I’m assuming he never sleeps and owns at least a couple time machines/clones.

As for the crew, which in my mind is no less amazing than the cast: those are all people that I’ve been insanely lucky to have worked with on either Comedy Bang! Bang! or my own film projects. The talent in that crew is unbelievable. Every one of them is such a creative genius. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up. But I think that’s the job of the director: to hire people who are better than you in their specific department. It only improves the film.

What would you say are the pros and cons to crowdfunding?

The cons are lack of sleep, rising blood pressure… I’m not sure of any real cons beyond that. I think the rewards for backers, that part is a bit hard to figure out when you’re putting a campaign together. If you’re create a tangible product people can go out and use (the new tooth vacuum!… no idea what that would be), I think it’s a little easier, but with an art piece or an experience, it’s a bit tougher. So some of the budget has to go into making physical manifestations of that experience.

But that’s part of the fun too, designing those things to offer as rewards. Or anyway, it’s a lot of fun for me. And that brings me to the big BIG up side of crowd funding: no middle men deciding those things for you. I mean, I suppose kickstarted itself is technically a middleman, but not having any majorly invested entity getting between you and your potential audience (and in fact potentially growing your audience during and after the campaign)? That’s amazing. It’s allowing so many great, bizarre ideas to get off the ground, when before they would have just puttered around and died from lack of finding an audience and lack of funding.

What advice you give to someone who wants to become an animator?

My background is comics, and I think that’s a great place to start if you’re interested in animation or film. Animation and film are certainly their own beasts, but learning how to tell a story with words and pictures sequentially takes a long, long time, and it’s a bit faster to tell a longer story through comics than it is to animate the entire thing. And I think comics gives you a sense of editing, of using the cut to tell the story. In between each panel in comics, you have this sort of cut…

Otherwise, I’d just say that if you want to be an animator: animate. Do the thing you want to do, and do it every day. It’s the only way anyone ever improves. Every day: work at your work.

How has becoming a father changed you as an artist?

I think the biggest thing he gives me is perspective. I don’t think my storytelling or the things I’m drawn to narratively have changed much at all, but the lens through which I perceive my life/work balance is different. My son is a walking manifestation of wonder, and it’s impossible to be around him and not slow down a little and really take time to look at all the amazing small details in daily life. I may have done that before to a degree, but he offers a different sort of calm to the whole enterprise of just being in the moment. And laughing at your own farts, of course.

Is there anything you'd like to add?

Jonas Salk, the creator of the polio vaccine, married Pablo Picasso’s muse, Francoise Gilot. Use that information wisely.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Peter Simeti: The creator of "The Chair" Graphic Novel

Peter Simeti is the publisher of Alterna Comics and is the creator/writer/and co-artist of The Chair graphic novel.
You can follow him on twitter @petersimeti

What is "The Chair" about?

The CHAIR's story follows Richard Sullivan, a death row inmate who's been witnessing a lot of his fellow inmates getting tortured and killed at the hands of the prison's insane and sadistic Warden.  Not much has necessarily happened to Sullivan in this prison, but he figures he must be next in line because the prisoner count is dwindling.  With that in mind, he decides he needs to fight, even kill, to survive.  In doing so, he's pushed to the brink of his own sanity and the story just goes from there.

Why did you create the graphic novel?

I created the initial idea of it as kind of an "artist outlet" because I was pissed off after hearing about some psycho that killed a bunch of kids in a daycare or a school.  For whatever reason, the story just hit me at a bad time.  I mean, why on Earth do people do these kinds of things? Anyway, I had created the character of the Warden kind of out of a wish-fulfillment sorta thing.  A character that could do horrible shit to vicious scumbags that deserved it.  The conflict of The CHAIR though, is that we're told that Richard Sullivan is an innocent man on death row and he's in for the same fate that everyone else has been getting.

Why do you want to make a film adaptation of graphic novel?

Aside from the fact that it would just be cool to see great actors bring these characters to life, I think The CHAIR is a story worth telling as it touches on a lot of different themes.  Child abuse, capital punishment, the ethics of torture, the political argument about the humane treatment of convicted killers that didn't get that option to their victims, and mental health - these are all part of The CHAIR's story.  It's not just a straight-up horror film where someone is killing a bunch of unsuspecting group of people that are all too stupid to fight their way out of a paper bag - The CHAIR has a lot of strong psychological elements to it and the characters have a lot of depth.

Why use Kickstarter to fund the film?

Because for the most part, there's nothing else like it.  It's a tremendously useful tool to gauge interest in your project (as long as proper word gets out) and it also allows you to gain the interest of people you might have never reached in the first place.

Why should people support your project?

Hopefully they support it because they like the story presented!
I'm not looking for pity dollars, haha, I'm not going to say that this project will save lives.
It is what it is - a psychological horror film based on a graphic novel that has a great cast and crew, an entertaining story for fans of that genre, and something that will hopefully take you away for 90 minutes and get your adrenaline pumping!

What is the casting process like?

The casting process consisted of reaching out directly to actors and agents and for the most part, 90% of the cast was attached through social media.  Literally, I'd tweet to actors or send them a facebook message to see if they would be interested in coming on board.  Even the actors that respectfully declined, were just so nice about it!  I figured, as long as I'm respectful and honest, the worst that can happen is that they say "no".  We were fortunate enough to attract a lot of amazing actors and talented crew members to this project.

How have your previous projects prepared you to make this one?

Comics and film are so different but so similar. In terms of prep and promotion, it's sort of the same. But that's kind of where the similarities end.  A film is just an all encompassing thing. I think that's part of the "movie-making magic" - the fact that people who aren't involved in creating it, will just have no idea whatsoever of how arduous a task it is to create something that you can watch for 90 minutes or more. And then if it's actually something you like or even love, that's even harder to do.  Movies and comics are all about creating circumstances that are exaggerations of reality, sometimes it's an extreme exaggeration and sometimes it's a small one, but it's always *just* removed from realism.  It's a chance to make the impossible, possible - and that's pretty awesome. 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to create a graphic novel &/or film?

Well, I think if you're not prepared for the time and energy commitment that it takes (for instance, I get up at around 7 or 8am and work till around 2am or so...) then this isn't the life for you.  You have to be obsessed, on almost a mentally ill level, haha.  You just need to create as much, if not more than, your need to eat or sleep.  There's times that I go to bed and I'm just pissed that I have to because I'd rather get stuff done.  It's that "workaholic" mentality - I hate that that kind of mentality is kind of looked down on so much now though, because it's the mark of a passionate person.  It's not an anti-social thing, it's not a distant person thing - it's a passion thing.  It's someone whose drive is so unrelenting that simple words like "no" and "you can't" don't stop them.  That's who you have to be.

Is there anything you'd like to add?

Sure, I'd just like to thank everyone for being so supportive of this film, for the cast & crew that believe in it, for Erin Kohut for doing a great job turning a 22-year-old's comic book prison story into a fleshed out living breathing screenplay years later, and I'd like to say that there's a lot more to come, a lot more awesomeness.  So please check out our Kickstarter, be a part of comic and film history and say hello on twitter @petersimeti and @thechairhorror.  Above all, keep reading comics!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Production Designer TINK

 TINK is a Production Designer for Features and Television, with a foundation in multi-disciplinary design for clients around the globe.

Born in Canada and having lived in Germany, France, Italy, England, Japan, Australia and Singapore, Tink settled in the west coast of North America, dividing his time between Los Angeles and Vancouver, while often working abroad based on project needs.

Throughout his wide spectrum of work, Tink is acclaimed for his originality, quality and timelessness.

What are the current projects you are working on?

I'm about to start on a wonderful feature produced by the same gang that made Juno and Up in the Air. I can't say too much about it at the moment, other than I think it will be quite special - very much looking forward to this one.

What are some of your favorite projects that you have worked on?

There's been quite a few. Spooksville was definitely one. It's a high-quality TV series produced by the inimitable Jane Startz, who has become a great friend, and written with great wit and humor by James Krieg, also now a good friend. Everything about the show was fun, from the design concept, to working closely with James in order to create story opportunities that fit within our world, and of course that world, shot on beautiful Vancouver Island in Canada - gorgeous!

Along those lines, I did a series on Singapore and Australia a couple years ago called Stormworld - created a whole alternate universe for it and traveled to some amazing places in the process. My crews were fantastic and the project was life-changing - so was Spooksville for that matter.

There are other films I have had a great time with, from working with Nic Kalikow, Sean Covel and Chris Wyatt on Concrete Blondes, to both of Tyler Shields' films and also many of the films I designed for Uwe Boll.

What's it like working with Tyler Shields?

I have a deep crush on Tyler, both professionally and personally. He's a pure creative and that fits with me perfectly. Our aesthetic senses are quite similar, as are our work ethic and process. We recently wrapped "Outlaw", his second feature, which is quite beautiful. Keep an eye out for it.

What's it like working with the cast and crew of "Spooksville"?

Love them all. Because we were working in a remote location, kind of in our own "show bubble", we spent a lot of time together and many lasting friendships have come of that. It was challenging budget-wise at times, but the energy and creativity everyone put into it was always exemplary. Big shout out to my Art Director Alyssa King, Set Decorator Terry Lewis, Prop Master Noni Peck, Costume Designer Rebekka Sorensen, plus all our Construction, Paint and Greens crews - they truly did fantastic work.

  How do you come up your designs?

I break down a script and envision the world that it needs to become, then I begin a lot of research and image referencing to build a basis for ideas to design from. Based on that and the practical needs of the script, I then design the required elements. This process is quite satisfying when the projects are creative to start with and the production team allows me to think outside of the box.

What does the old adage "The devil's in the details" mean to you?

Hmmm - I never say that, but obviously it refers to the details are the strength of anything you create and taking care of them is mandatory for a successful project. I pride myself on that work ethic and I work with crew that contribute to that at even greater levels than I sometimes do myself.

Which do you prefer acting or designing?

Sometimes I'm acting when I'm designing :)

I tried acting when I was in university, but realized it wasn't my thing, but I still love being in front of the camera or an audience, as long as I'm able to be myself. I'm actually looking forward to hosting participatory opportunities to promote design and entertainment.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into design or acting

Follow your passion and work your ass off. Research and learn as much as you can - from all different viewpoints. Be great with people, communicate what you want and need, and focus on that. Simple...

What would be your ultimate design be? Assume there aren't any constraints.

Hmm - ultimate always changes, but I would love to design a fully detailed alternate world - complete with a new language in visuals, architecture, costume and word - I've touched on that in some projects, and would love to build upon that.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Filmmaker Sarah Knight and "Vino Veritas"

Sarah Knight is currently developing a romantic drama, In the Land of Fire & Ice, with writer, David MacGregor.  The film will star Academy Award nominee, Shohreh Aghdashloo, as a powerful Kuwaiti CEO who flees from personal and professional pressures to Iceland where she falls in love with a charming Scottish hotel keeper.

Her most recent documentary, Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend, is a portrait of Nicole Sherry, Head Groundskeeper for the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards – one of only two women in that job in Major League Baseball.  Diamonds  premiered at the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame where it became part of the permanent archives.

Sarah’s previous doc, Hot Flash, about Saffire-The Uppity Blues Women, was nominated for a 2010 Blues Music Award, won the Audience Favorite Award at the 2009 Cinema on the Bayou Festival, and was acquired by Shorts International.

Her adaptation of the bestselling novel, A Yellow Raft in Blue Water, was featured in the 2007 IFP Market Emerging Narrative section, was invited to the 2007 Film Independent Screenwriter’s Lab, and was a second round finalist for the 2007 & 2008 Sundance Labs.  The film chronicles the saga of three generations of American Indian women.  Q’orianka Kilcher (Pocahontas in “The New World”) and Misty Upham (“Frozen River”) will star.

Sarah has won fellowships to the Berlinale Talent Campus, the Rotterdam CineMart Producer’s Lab, and the Tribeca Film Institute’s Tribeca All Access.
Short films include Qiana (director, screenwriter, producer), Abstinence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder (director, writer, co-producer) and the internet cult hit, Survivor in da ‘Hood (director, co-writer).

She directs theatre in New York and Los Angeles.  Credits include An Ideal Wife, based on her adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s “An Ideal Husband,” (Pacific Resident Theatre-workshop space).
Sarah has assisted directors Taylor Hackford and Mikael Salomon and producers Peter Macgregor-Scott and Robert Shapiro.

What is "Vino Veritas" about?

Our story takes place on Halloween night.  Two couples, neighbors and best friends, meet for their annual pre-costume party drinks.  One of them has just returned from Peru where they picked up a truth serum.  They decide to try it and all the things they really think and feel – negative and positive – come out.

This is a story in which, thanks to the effects of a tribal concoction, the characters are stripped of the carefully composed social masks they have diligently fashioned for themselves. The superficial veneer of what passes for civilization is peeled away, layer by layer, to reveal not just personal quirks and secrets, but the primal core that drives so much of our behavior as human beings. Whether the subject is children, faith, sex, death, or the drives and desires that are hardwired into our DNA, this is, finally, a film about what it means to be human.

Why did you want to make this film?

My mom (who has exquisite taste and who often serves as my unofficial development girl) first turned me on to “Vino Veritas” when she saw the original stage play. She fell so in love with the writing she returned for every remaining performance then enthusiastically encouraged me to read it.

When I did, I was particularly taken with the character of Lauren. Much like me, she is an incredibly forthright person who expects those around her to follow suit. I found the portrayal of her coming to terms with the fact that others cannot and often do not wish to do so quite poignant.

As a filmmaker, the challenge of adapting a play set in one location and making it work and move well as a movie also excited me. For research, I looked to several of my favorite pictures, including “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” “Deathtrap,” and “12 Angry Men,” which had done so in various inventive ways.

What was the casting process like?

I did not do any auditions.  I had seen Heather Raffo and Bernard White in separate Off-Broadway plays almost ten years ago but they both had such charisma and chops they stayed with me and immediately popped into my head for the roles of Lauren and Ridley.  I was more familiar with Carrie Preston as a film actor from her stand out supporting turn in “Duplicity” and leading role in “That Evening Sun.”  A New York theatre casting director recommended Brian Hutchison to me.

Why did you choose to distribute the film via VOD?

Our distributor, Gravitas Ventures, will make the film available to some 100 million viewers On Demand and iTunes on its launch date of January 15th.  That’s an awfully large number of people who will have access to the picture.  And more and more people I know get most of their film viewing through VOD, Netflix, Amazon Prime, iTunes, etc.  I always prefer to watch movies in the theatre, at least the first time I see them.  But I certainly appreciate the continuously growing number of platforms which offer so much content that might have been otherwise lost or missed.

Do you think the world would be better off if everyone was completely honest?

In general I think open communication would solve a lot of problems.  If people were honest about what they really wanted in their lives and weren’t so quick to fall into social norms or what is expected of them just think how different society would be.  Happier overall, I would think.  And in relationships, if people would be honest instead of just automatically doing and saying what they think the other person wants them to, it might provide some wonderful and surprising results.  Personally, I strive very hard to only say things I really mean but to not to the point of being hurtful to others if I can help it.  I’m genuinely curious in what others truly think – just not necessarily what they think about me as I’m neurotic enough as it is!

How have your previous projects prepared you to make this film?

Very early in my career, I worked as assistant to producer Peter MacGregor-Scott for many years at Warner Bros.  Although he was producing $100 million plus budget films, he always approached them as if they were small indies (his background was “Cheech and Chong” films).  He watched every penny and came up with scrappy, inventive ways to solve problems rather than just throwing money at them as is often done at that level.  That was an invaluable lesson as I also produce all of my own work.  After that I assisted director Taylor Hackford.  Being able to be at his side, watching his process from prep through post was immensely beneficial and many of his techniques I now incorporate into my own work.  Directing theatre certainly helped my ability to work with actors.  My experience in the legit world spilled over into “Vino” which I ran as a somewhat anomalous film set.  All four of the actors had theatre backgrounds, as well as film.  I managed to secure six days of rehearsal and required the cast to be completely off book before they arrived on location.  We shot entire scenes in one take which created an amazing energy for the actors on set, almost like what they experience on stage.  I’ve spent the past few years making documentaries.  That helped to further hone my storytelling although it felt terrific to get back to narrative work which is what I enjoy the most.

What's your favorite movie?

“All About Eve.”  I first saw the film when I was about 11 and I never tire of the powerhouse performances, incredibly witty dialogue, and perfect structure.  I think it still stands as the best screenplay ever written.  Only caveat is the dreadful ‘you’re not a real woman unless you can look up in the morning and see your man’ speech Margo Channing gives in the third act.  But I’ve always just chalked that up to a sign of that time.

What's your favorite wine?

I don’t drink wine at all.  Dirty martini is my preferred cocktail.

Is there anything you'd like to add?

Many thanks for interviewing me and featuring the film!!