Wednesday, March 31, 2004

We Must Beat Them With Newspapers! It's the only way! 

So there's this old Dilbert cartoon in which Dogbert is explaining that in any given meeting, everyone in the room will try and turn the discussion and solution for the problem at hand to the very thing that they specialize in. So there's the guy saying that the problem can be solved "using Ronget's Theorem, which I did a paper on in grad school," and then the next guy saying, "No, no, it can be solved by utilizing more bandwith compression, which is my field of expertise..."

And then Dogbert, being a dog, mind you, stands up and yells, "We must beat them with newspapers! It's the only way!"

That's sorta how I felt on set today.

Everyone on this production has a very different job from everyone else, yet we're all working toward the same end goal. Yet everyone is so focused on their job, so totally convinced that their job is THE most important job in the entire production, that to do anything any way other than the way they do it is the utmost of ludicrosity.

We must beat them with newspapers.

Now, that said, all of these people *are* quite good at their jobs, and we couldn't go forward without all of them working in delicate little harmony with one another.

Today was an especially difficult day in terms of logistics, mainly because they were working with so many extras. At least 60 or 70 of them, all dressed in tuxes and ballgowns, milling around at a party, trying to look like they were talking without actually being allowed to talk, having to move out of the way at precise times in order to let the Steadicam operator through...

What was great fun was to hang out with the extras during and after lunch. Now, none of them knew who I was or what my role was on the project; as far as they knew, I was just another set P.A. or grip or whatever, and I did nothing to dissuade them of that opinion. I just wanted to hear them talk about Rex, and see what they thought it was --

See, extras and background folk are a weird breed. Most of them want to act professionally, so they take the gigs to pay the bills, get some work on their resume, and so on, but they're treated as more or less cattle on a set. They're not told about the project as a whole, and they never receive scripts; if they even see a call sheet, they feel like they've been included.

So there they are, mingling at this dinner party where they've got drinks with big leafy herbs sticking out of them, listening to a speech by this odd woman who's talking about evolution and Progress and being hatched from an egg, etc.

Most of the extras seemed to get there were dinosaurs involved; some thought we were shooting some weird reptile-porn film.

The weirdest thing I heard was that someone had become convinced that we were shooting a spinoff of Threat Matrix, and that Progress was a terrorist cell.

Like I said, they get some weird ideas.

Dailies are looking smashing, just some beautiful compositions and colors, all thanks to Bert, our cinematographer, and Julian, our director, and the actors are really getting into their roles.

In short, Day Three went well. No Indian food or Frantics shows, but a good day overall.

I am beginning to tire a bit of life on set, which is so sad considering I just haven't been there that long, but I get antsy when I can't work for a few days. Still, it's not much longer; I can hack it...

I think...

Must... write... more... books... and... scripts... must... contain... myself... a few... days... longer...

Great White North, Day 2: Electric Boogaloo 

It's all about timing.

Yeah, sure, timing helps in film, but that's not what I'm talking about.

See, Monday night, we didn't get off set until around 10:45 or so, which meant that by the time I got back to the hotel and ready to eat dinner, it was like 11:15. Not much is open in Toronto at 11:15 on a Monday night, so I was left to wandering the downtown core by myself, poking my nose into very closed restaurants.

And just as I was about to give up and go get food from the 24-hour take-out deli, I turned down a side street just because it seemed to feel right --

And hit upon an Indian restauarant that was still open because 10-15 folks inside were throwing a birthday party. They agreed to feed me, too, and for those of you who know me, you know that Indian food is #1 on my list of happy Eric foods. It was the perfect capper to a good day.


Nothing beats yesterday for timing, though. The day's shoot was good -- we were filming in a gorgeous loft in Bedford, this incredible artists' space that they've turned into Circe's house, replete with a herbarium and ground-herb wet bar. Mostly Vincent/Circe stuff yesterday -- actually, *all* Vincent/Circe stuff yesterday, with a sexy-nudie-sex-sex scene thrown in, during which they closed the set. As Exec. Producer, I actually could have stayed on set had I wanted, but I respect the actresses' request to close it off (damn! I really have to get rid of that whole respect thing if I want to make it in Hollywood), so since the set was closed at around 8:00 PM or so, I decided to call it a day.

So I come back to the hotel, fiddle around on the computer, and decide to check out the Second City schedule. The Second City theatre is literally next door to our hotel, so I figured what the heck, I'll see if there's a show --

Oh, there was a show.

A Frantics show.

Those of you who know Canadian sketch comedy will know what I'm talking about. Those of you who listened to Dr. Demento growing up will know what I'm talking about, too. I'm talking about Boot To The Head. Bill From Bala. All that amazing comedy --

And their show was starting 6 minutes from when I checked the schedule. EEEEEEEK!

Once again, another great day in Toronto.

Timing, baby.

More tomorrow...

Monday, March 29, 2004

Tired... oh so very tired... 

But not too tired to blog, eh?

Yes, I've picked up the "eh?" thing here in Canada, more by choice than by true osmosis, though.

12:51 AM here on Toronto time, and we wrapped the day about 2 hours ago; I've just gotten back to the hotel.

So, on Day 6 of the shoot, we covered a crazy dinosaur nightclub/rave, an appearance by one of Raal's henchmen in Progress, a nasty claw-induced/throat-slashing death scene, a little sequence with Raal himself, and some very nice camera work. There was a bunch of Ernie time, and a bunch of Gabrielle.

Gabrielle, by the way, is a new character created just for the show; she's Ernie's daughter, and is played by Stephanie Lemelin, a wonderful actress who's just about perfect for the part. I hung with her and her family quite a bit today (her father is Reggie Lemelin, star goalie for Boston for many an NHL season), and had just a blast.

Oh, did I mention I have my own trailer?

Yes, that's right. TRAILER. That makes me official Hollywood Trailer Trash, and I couldn't be happier about it.

Except I guess, in this case, that I'm Toronto Trailer Trash. Close enough.

I'll try and get some photos of the cast and set up on the website when I get back from Canada, just so everyone can see the actors we've got, and the great job that the set/props/makeup/etc. department is doing.

It was trippy walking into this nightclub scene and seeing, instead of a wall of alcohol bottles behind the bar, beakers and glasses filled with cilantro, rosemary, etc. All told, they've got nearly 500 people working on this project in some capacity or another, and the care and creativity from every single one of them is evident in every shot.

More good news from tomorrow's set, I hope (10:00 AM call, thank God), when we begin to shoot the Progressives' party, and the first meeting between Vincent and Circe...

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Access Galore! 

I've just gotten great news from my lovely hotel in Toronto that they have broadband Internet access in every room (and WiFi hotspots in every single common area in the hotel -- keen!), ensuring that I'll be able to post daily updates (so long as I'm not *too* bushed) from the Anonymous Rex TV set. Word from Joe Menosky, our wonderful EP, is that the first week of shooting was gangbusters, the actors are stellar and easy to work with, and the dailies look great.

Dear God, we've got Citizen Kane on our hands. Prep those Emmys and Cable Ace Awards and Golden Globes and Hugos and... um... well, the other ones, too.

I love how easy it is to be optimistic at this stage of the game.

In any case, next blog will be dispatches from Canada. Onwards!

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Goin' Back to CA-nada 

About a week from tomorrow, I'll be heading out to Toronto to check out some of the filming of the Anonymous Rex pilot. There's still a lot of work to be done before then, but everyone's working incredibly hard to put this thing together.

Still, I've been embroiled in TV and the TV world as of late, both with Rex and some other projects I've been working on, and as such, I've had time to immerse myself in a few new experiences.

So, without further adieu...


"The best grips are in Vancouver."

"If we push too hard on the breakage, we're going to have a mess on our hands."

"I'm taking the 9:45 to Toronto" (come on, if you say it with a leer, it could sound sooo dirty)

"Let's massage that first bit and see if we can't make it tighter."

I'm hoping I'll have Internet access at the hotel in Toronto so I can post some daily blogs for the week or so that I'm up there; if not, I'll post reports once I return.

In the meantime, I need to buy a warm coat.

A *really* warm coat. My little Matchstick Men crew windbreaker ain't gonna cut it in the frigid northland.


Monday, March 15, 2004

Gettin' Hot and Sweaty! 

Even my daughter's in on the act.

She's three -- well, three-and-three-quarters, as she'll have you know -- and almost needless to say, she's a bit of a chip off the old block. Picture a much smaller, much cuter version of me, with a bit of my wife thrown in for that whole female-element, and there you go.

First, I let her act as "delivery gal" at my most recent signing down at Mysteries To Die For in Thousand Oaks, Cali. I give out little plastic dinosaur figurines in plastic eggs to people who ask good questions or who propose new titles for the Rex series, and Bailey was incredibly excited to be the egg-hander-outer. Did a stellar job, through and through, and even asked a question herself during the Q&A period (to wit: "How you get those dinosaurs on the TV?" Answer: CGI effects! Now she'll probably spend the next two months quizzing me on what CGI effects are, but that's my own bed and now I have to lie in it).

Then, she's at a park today with her little friend Victoria, and it's steaming here in California right now, so Bailey gets very hot and needs to rest.

My wife asks her how she's doing, and Bailey says, "I'm hot."

My wife repeats (as we often do, just to make sure we understand exactly what she's saying), "You're hot?"

"Yes," says Bailey, "I'm hot and sweaty."

Beat. Beat. You know what's coming. She smiles and says:

"I'm Hot and Sweaty Rex."

Brainwashing! Yes!

Friday, March 05, 2004

Our Long National Nightmare is Over... 

Well, the *casting* nightmare is over, at least.

And it really wasn't a nightmare, technically, but it sounds nice and dramatic, and I'm nothing if not for melodrama.

We have a Vincent. We have an Ernie. Means we'll finally, truly, have a show.

Vincent will be played by Sam Trammell, most recently the lead on the Showtime series Going to California. He's got this cool Sam Rockwell vibe to him, and he was far and away everyone's favorite choice for the part. There's something genuinely cool about him that I think everyone's really going to gravitate toward.

And Ernie will be played by Daniel Baldwin, most famous for his role on NBC's Homicide. Yes, folks, we've got a Baldwin brother, and a rockin' one at that. He's got a great feel for the material, and really seems to get the project, both the comedy and the serious elements, so hooray!

We got to see the two of them test together, and the vibe was electric, which is exactly what you want when you're pairing up two actors who have to spent a good 50% of each show playing off each other. You can really believe, watching these two, that they're old friends, and that Baldwin has Trammell under his wing -- er, his talon.

Now it's just a matter of nailing down the smaller parts -- and I've got some info along those lines that I'd love to blog soon, and will as soon as the contracts and signed, sealed, and delivered.

As for that Time Out New York piece, it seems that it came out great -- photo and all. I still have yet to see it, but all my NYC contacts tell me it's wonderful, and that I look appropriately ominous and fun in the big ol' picture.

I also hope to continue blogging when we start shooting Rex on the 22nd. If I'm up in Toronto for the shoot, I'll make sure to give a rundown every day or so, documenting the creation of the show as it happens.

Oh, come on, *someone's* gotta find that interesting. Anyone? ANYONE?

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