Shih-Tzu Filmmaking

April 10, 2001 - We shoot the animals

I decided to include my fuzz-ball, mop of a dog "Mei-Li" (a Shit-Tzu) in the film as Johnnys pet. Why? Two reasons:

1.) You can always pander to get a cheap "aaawww" reaction out of a cute animal.
2.) It gives me something else to cut to in the scenes.

I've been showing a fine cut of a bunch of scenes to a few people. There's two scenes where the exit music seems to be really pushing the movie forward. The first one, is where Johnny is kissed by Beth at the nightclub and he's left standing there with a eat-eating grin on his face. The song "Nothing So Ordinary" by Zoux comes up and fits the mood perfectly. I want to milk the moment for all it's worth, so I want to have some more shots of Johnny celebrating his personal victory before he sits down at this computer and relates his story to Enigma online. (this is where the music will fade out) At this point I've only got a shot of Johnny walking out of a parking lot while Horrigan pisses on a wall. Having him go home and celebrate by himself doesn't make any sense. Giving Johnny another prop (a dog) gives him something to work with.

The second place is where I walk off the beach as the clown and Johnny leaves depressed from his break up with Irene. I initially had him run home and relate this story to Enigma online. The song seems to be really working (Back Where I Belong by Dumptruck), so I want to extend that. This time I have Johnny sulking around his home while the dog watches.

I've been getting some good comments on the music I've chosen to support a bunch of the scenes. I'm in a bidding war on ebay right now to get a clean, digital copy of "Back Where I Belong". The song came out back in 1986, when CDs weren't that common, so a digital copy of it is a collectors item. (The bidding is already up to $36)

We also shot the insert of the cat wearing panties which will be seen during one of the Amandas party sequences. The cat is called Paka and this is Johnnys REAL pet. Vital statistics: "Paka" is Swahili for "cat". Paka weighs 26 pounds and 38" long. He's basically a dog living the lie of being a cat.

We inserted a joke in one of Johnnys scenes where he turns to Mei-Li and says, "I'm sorry I let them take your balls." Keeping in traditional canine Lassie movie fashion, Mei-Li was referred to a a boy on screen, even though she is a girl in real life. I can't believe I burned up 400' of film attempting to film my dog. Mei-Li was difficult at times to get her to look on cue. Normally she's a hyper dog, but towards the end of filming, she tended to collapse in a furry heap. We're thinking of giving her a real movie name like "Crusher" in the credits.

I recently bought two large reference directories of agents. If this project is ever to be sold for real money, I'm going to need one. The "Hollwood Creative Directory" and "The Hollywood Reporter Blu-Book 2001" contains hundreds of names, addresses and phone numbers and e-mails of anybody who is anybody in Hollywood. You can order the books on their websites, but they are a little cheaper on Amazon.com. I figured I'd get Dan Bridges to start plowing through all the names and see if I can get any interest before the project is finished. I have no idea WHO in the Hollywood Creative Directory book has any good contacts, or if they are even trustworthy. It seems the larger agencies have many agents working for them, while there are many people who are listed in the directory under one name and phone number.

I can only imagine how many Broadway Danny Rose's are out there. The major agencies (International Creative Management and William-Morris) all say BY REFERRAL ONLY. This might be a tough nut to crack. The cute thing about the Blu-Book is in the "Talent and Crew" listings, it has movie stars with their agents phone numbers. Now I know how to contact people like Ernest Borgnine, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar & Ruth Buzzi. What a deal.

Pooch on floor

Mutt on the table

Eric directs his dog

April 14, 2001 - The (pretty much) Wrap Party

I guess it was obligatory to have a wrap party, so I did. I've only got a few odds 'n ends to film, but screw it...it's (pretty much) a wrap. I have a 67 minute rough assemblage of all the scenes which are edited and some which I'm still working on. Everything was assembled in order of appearance. This was to be the highlight of the evening. I fed everybody with catered chinese food from the local joint, plied them with alcohol and herded them into the TV room. A few people like Tony Annesi, Brian White and Sparky haven't seen much of the footage, so they were the most objective for the evening. (and probably most sober)

It's like I can almost spot the finished project appearing over the horizon. People are enjoying themselves and it's getting laughs. I realize that we all suffer from the home movie effect, but the people who haven't seen any of it said that it kept their interest and looks like a good movie. It's now obvious what I need to do to get it completed. When the music kicks in, it really comes alive. I'm gonna hafta write some subtle stuff for a bunch of the scenes where anyone is at a computer or just fiddling around. There are some shots that I didn't shoot which I'll have to go back and get. Computer screens...and I need plenty of computer screens. (Still searching for an LCD monitor to shoot them.) I'm now looking forward to showing it to a completely objective audience once I get the film together where I'm comfortable with it.

Latest development on the agent front: A woman whom I've trained for years at Tony Annesi's karate school knew of my project and mentioned to me a while back that her son was an agent in Beverly Hills. I sort've dismissed it at the time as another mother who thinks their offspring are successful no matter what they do. (I'm thinking, "Yea...he probably works for FedEx and DELIVERS packages to some agent somewhere.")

Recently she saw the Boston Globe article and brought up he son again. She said that she had given the article to her son and explain how she knew me from the karate school. She had given him my phone number and e-mail and she gave me his. I'm thinking, "The guy is probably rolling his eyes going, 'Cripes...my MOTHER is suggesting clients to me..oh brother.'" She mentions that he works for the United Talent Agency in Beverly Hills. I'm thinking, "United Talent Agency is probably one guy at a desk and he's his assistant."

I look up United Talent Agency in my handy-dandy Hollywood Creative Directory. Jesus Christ. United Talent Agency looks like it's probably the third largest agency in Hollywood! (behind ICM and William Morris) The guy is listed right in the middle of the page! It also says BY REFERRAL ONLY. Shit...I've now been referred!

I call the guy up and talk to him. He says that he's basically a literary agent, but they have agents who just deal with indie film projects. He said to send him a tape when the projects done and he'll get it in the hands of the people who deal with this sort of thing. I asked if he'd take a 12 minute section just to wet his appetite. He said sure. Woo hoo! I gotta get this fucking film DONE.

We're number one!

Gang on couch

Johnnys room

Spar - KEY!

Phil puckers up

Foods here!


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