Thursday, July 7, 2022

There's No Limit to What You Can Imagine


"Love what you do and do what you love. Don't listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it. You do what you want and what you love. Imagination should be the center of your life." - Ray Bradbury

Something happened on the way to the life that I was trying to create for myself. I had imagined the perfect life, a wife, kids, a house, and all those places which the American dream was trying to lead me. But somewhere, I realized that the world didn't have to be the way I was told it had to be. We're constantly being told to live in the real world and connect with reality. But who's reality? Who's idea of this reality? 
It's seriously the person who came before us that said, "This is the way it should be." and our reality was created by people who we had no connection to. Our reality continues to be connected to people we have no connection with. 

As I get older, I'm starting to realize that it's time to plant trees knowing that I will never be able to sit under their shade. And I keep asking myself, what is t going to be the legacy that I leave for the world and for my children. And it's simple. I want the world that they live in to be able to let them know that they can try an idea out, fail and then try again. That they have the freedom and support to try new things. 
We have a new generation of creators that need a sandbox. They need a place where they can grow. And they can prosper. 

In the next month, I'm going to be creating that something for the City of Tulsa that will hopefully outlive me and will allow other creatives like me to make good art. 

That something is ImaginationTulsa.Com

It's taking shape and I have a plan. Want to be a part of it. Go to the website. 

We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams. - Ode by Arthur O'Shaughnessy

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Inside Llewyn Davis and Why It's a Great Movie


After watching Moon Knight, I thought it might be a good idea to revisit one of my favorite movies by Oscar Issac and some of my favorite filmmakers the Coen brothers. The movie is called Inside Llewyn Davis and it tells the story of a folk singer who is dealing with the death of his partner in a fairly successful duo, and trying to strike out on his own while maintaining his authenticity. His music was based on the music of David Van Ronk which was a contemporary of Bob Dylan, but he represents an everyman living in the world created in the Mayor of MacDougal Street.
Oscar Issac plays Llewyn Davis, a down on his luck folk singer who is clinging ot whatever success he had from his previous duo. His partner died which left him alone to continue on without him. He's searching for success but also trying to maintain his authenticity. In the meantime, he's sleeping on couches and dealing with personal issues. Llewyn had a girlfriend but he messed it up and she moved to another man. He gets an opportunity to play a session with the boyfriend. 
The movie tells the story of an album through the life of the singer and his quest to take the right path to success without ever really knowing what that success is. His agent is not really promoting him very much. The agents in Chicago don't think that his music is very profitable. He's stuck between doing the work that he wants to do and making something commercial that people will buy. Something that I think we artists at one time or another all need to reckon with. 
The movie tells the tragedy of the working mans singer. It tells the story of a catalog artist who is destined to be the mid range catalog artist. 
Llewyn Davis masterfully shows what the struggling artist goes through. It's the journey of a struggling artist who is constantly making the wrong decision. Llewyn's self-sabotaging journey through his post-duo career shows his despair and his inability to compromise and create a new start for himself. 
Watching Inside Llewyn Davis again at this stage in my life is a completely different matter. I'm at a point where my career is not really going anywhere as an actor. I still have the skills and the knowledge, but I'm not putting in the time or the energy in the art of it. I'm lacking focus, but then am I missing opportunity. Recently, the Tulsa King is filming in the area and I was thinking about what it would be to be in that or at least be an extra in the background. Used to have film guys asking me to be in their films all the time. Not so much anymore. Don't really know whether or not I will be doing it anymore. I go back and forth a lot of what is next. We'll see.

Friday, April 8, 2022

What Does Sling Blade Have to Do With TikTok?

Billy Bob Thornton was an actor who was frustrated with the film industry. And as most actors do, they make the film that they want to star in. From this frustration, he started to create the character of Karl. He worked the character into a one man show, Swine Before Pearls. After performing this one man show, he raised money to make a short film called Some Folks Call It A Sling Blade. 
Thornton got a role on the CBS Sitcom Hearts Afire with John Ritter. He made the finishing touches on the Oscar Winning script while sitting at this mother's dining table. While taking this movie and shopping it around Hollywood. His feature link film version "Sling Blade" was filmed in 24 days in Benton, Arkansas and it brought in $24 Million dollars after having a $1 million dollar budget. The distribution rights were sold for another $10 million. 
This film went from MONOLOGUE to ONE MAN SHOW to SHORT FILM to FULL LENGTH FILM and won the Academy Award for Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay. 

TikTok is the latest craze for people who make videos. Everyone's camera is getting more and more advanced and people are sharing their creativity in many different ways. From dance, to tips, to advice, to voice lessons, TikTok is your new short form video powerhouse where you can instantly create content. And people are creating more content than ever before. The old saying goes, "A million monkeys with a million typewriters can eventually type the works of William Shakespeare" and that theory is being put to the test with the new short form video creators. 

TikTok pays it's creators. It's called The Creator Fund. It actually pays you for making great content, and you don't know what is going to blow up, so might as well create for an audience that you love. Who is your audience and what are you trying to tell them. What would you say to the person who could change your life if you have 15 seconds to do it? Which one of these people are going to send the elevator back up and change your world.

Here are just some of the models that could be used:

An actor who wants to get a role in a movie could record monologues daily and have those monologues get audience feedback to work on his cold reading and interpretation skills. He could follow casting agents and get his face out there in hopes of getting an audition for a role in a film. The more followers he builds the more marketable he is to the general public. 

A filmmaker gets film ideas and makes a 15 second version on TikTok. The idea that sticks can use the sling blade model and go from 15 second idea to short film and that short film can be shopped to make a feature film.

A musician can write a lyric with music that he might use in a song later. Pose a question to the audience and get ideas for a song. Build the song into an album and have a readily available audience to buy his music. 

There are a million versions of this, but the mad libs version of this would be:

The (Creative Type) who wants (Goal) can do (Small thing) to (Medium Thing) so that he can get (Ideal Goal) 

Just some thoughts, but I would say if you're not making content, no one knows you exist and if you can take steps to change that, it's a great way to build your brand and achieve your dreams. 

Monday, March 28, 2022

In West Philadelphia, Born and Raised...

Will Smith got upset at Chris Rock for telling a joke about his wife and slapped him in the face. If this was a normal altercation, it might be a few days long. This happened at the Oscars. My initial reaction was, "Did I just see what I thought I just saw?" And then, I looked on the net. Literally a few seconds later, writers had already written a story that was a basic explanation of what happened. Later that night, Will Smith accepted his Oscar crying about his performance at the Oscars. So the next day, there were a billion videos about Will Smith slapping Chris Rock for a joke. 
What can we learn from this...
We are all familiar with violence and we're pretty much used to it. We see people smash into other people in football. We see people get shot in public schools. Our news is full of crimes of violence and mayhem that happen in our city. We are a violent society.  
The writer Anthony Burgess said it plainly. 

Violence among young people is an aspect of their desire to create. They don't know how to use their energy creatively so they do the opposite and destroy.

We are teaching our young people that violence is the answer, and creativity will never do anything for you in this world. It's all about taking as much as you can from the other person. Protecting yourself and your ego. And it's not about creating things. 
When violence is happening, creation cannot occur. Chris Rock delivered a joke about Will Smith's wife (Creativity) and Will decided to smack him for what he said. (Destruction). So there we are. Will Smith's reaction last night was a reaction of violence. It was fight and not flight. He could have walked away. 
So everyone talked about this one violent moment that overshadowed all of the creativity of the night. Overshadowed all of the movies and milestones. And it was that one moment that drew our attention. And basically drew everyone's attention. 
What are we to learn.

Will Smith is human and he has feelings. He makes mistakes. He, in his own apology, stated that he is a "Work in Progress". We are all trying to go through this world and have peace. Have a great night. Will is under great pressure and he has his breaking point. 

Is the comedian responsible for the joke that he tells? Jokes at the heart of what they are divide people. They make fun of things. They poke fun and they allow us to look at ourselves. They make us laugh. In our highly politically correct culture, everyone's opinion is elevated. The joke was probably written by someone, and it was delivered by a person who's goal was to bring us all together and make us laugh. Was Chris Rock responsible for the joke? Could Leonardo DiCaprio come up and slap Amy Schumer for saying he dates young girls? Did Claire Danes have the right to slap Amy Schumer for getting her out of the seat next to her husband, Jesse Plemons? Hollywood actors are fair game, and Oscars ever since the beginning have taken the tone of a roast. It's just the way it is. 

Will Smith is a Hollywood actor and a brand. He employs thousands of people with every movie he produces. Chris Rock is a Hollywood brand as well and employs others. They are responsible for their actions and today, press people had to clean up what happened. 

It was definitely defending his actions and not talking about the incident or talking about the person. He used the language of a person who was not sorry at that point. He was trying to do his best to save face. 

I seriously think that he needs to make peace with Chris Rock. I could see him donating to a major charity that Chris Rock champions. I would say that the academy should not take his Oscar. He earned that. He needs to remember that kids saw that. He's a role model whether he wants to be or not. And I think that he just need to move on. Do better next time. That's basically it. 

It's a shame that it happened. I like Chris Rock. I like Will Smith. I don't like a world where Will Smith and Chris Rock do not like each other. But people do have problems with others and there are better ways to deal with it. Those are my thoughts....Share this post with others and tell me what you think about the incident. 

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Luckys Gamble: A Television Pilot is Now Available for Purchase

A while back, I wrote a television pilot that I never released. Partially because I had plans on filming it myself and putting it out there. Well, fast forward a few years and I have a few irons in the fire, so here's Lucky's Gamble. I wrote this after watching a ton of Breaking Bad and always being a fan of heist films. Oceans 11 being the most famous and many others. This teleplay follows the actions of four friends who are gamblers in Oklahoma city but are struggling through the daily slings and arrows of life. They decided that the only way that they are going to get ahead is planning a heist on the Indian Gambling casinos that are in the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma. 
This is a labor of love for me and it's also something that I've written that I'm very proud of. It's available for filming, purchase, stageplays. Anything that you would like to do with it. I would appreciate if you do a performance or something of it, throw me a bone. But then again, let me know you're current situation, and I'm willing to work with you. I know what it's like to struggle. Check it out here: 

Saturday, March 26, 2022

The Idiot in the Hallway: My Thoughts on the Passing of Taylor Hawkins

I worked for the Tulsa Stagehands Union when Foo Fighters toured with Guns and Roses. It was like a circus to see Dave Grohl and Axel Rose walking around. As a stagehand, there are certain unwritten rules to not do, talk to the talent being a HUGE one. We are waiting in the wings and the Foo Fighters just killed it. As they are walking off, the idiot next to me yelled "Great show, Taylor! YOU ROCK" to which he graciously raised his hand and waved as he walked to his dressing room. We all quickly turn around and told him to be quiet and did our laboring as stage hands getting the Foo Fighters to the next city. 

It's also hard to hear and find out all of the things that I never knew about Taylor Hawkins. It seriously reminds me of the death of a good friend called Tommy Layon. He did all of this cool stuff, but I found it out after he died. I was surprised to learn about Taylor Hawkins that he had three kids, that he played for Alanis Morrisette on the Jagged Little Pill tour and that he had side gigs other than the Foo Fighters. I was also surprised to just become a lot more aware of how much amazing stuff he did on the Foo Fighters records. And how much, just everyone, in Rock n Roll music just loved the crap out of him. Tom Morello and Joan Jett gave great tributes. 

Foo Fighters have gotten me through a lot. They, in my opinion, have been the flag bearers for rock music. They're whole album is scattered across my "Work Song Playlist" which is a playlist of rock songs I use to get through my day. Your life was a great show, Taylor. And your rocked it, and may I forever be that idiot in the hall giving you praise for all that you have give us. Damn. Hug a Foo Fighter fan. We are not okay today.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

There and Back Again (Why I Left Tulsa and Came Back)

About ten years ago, I left Tulsa. I left after giving the city ten years of my life. I was living with my then girlfriend who would later marry me and give me two beautiful children and five years together before our divorce. I’m not an easy person to live with. I wish life would have turned out a whole lot differently, but it did not. But here is the story of what happened when I left Tulsa.My then girlfriend and I were on the couch at our two story home where we were at the end of a failing production of one of my favorite plays, Humble Boy. Our lead actors walked out of the production at the end of the show a week before our opening performance at the Dennis R Neill Equality Center. We were on the couch, talking to each other about being happy in Tulsa. I asked her, “Are you happy here?” and she said “No, are you?” and I said no. I think it was part trying to live a creative life in Tulsa and a life that was completely out of the way of the constant criticism that is received from doing anything.
I was stranded in Tulsa more than coming here willingly. Leaving college after a year of being an assistant manager at a hotel there in Fayetteville, Arkansas. I packed everything into my Honda Accord and moved to Glenpool to live temporarily with my mother. The plan was to go on and move to Los Angeles. It was the logical next step. My transmission died and I was here without a car. Lost and looking for a direction, a job opened up with the Sapulpa Community Theatre as their general manager and I spent the next five to seven years in the Tulsa community making great art.
At the end of that time, I was looking for more. That more came in the form of a trip to Chicago, Illinois. My ex-wife and I sold everything we owned and loaded up the back of a truck with all the rest of our belongings. We moved to Chicago singing showtunes all the way and driving up to Chicago. When we made it to Chicago, under the suggestion of a friend, we went to a housing service. (As a note, when you go to Chicago again to find a home, just walk around the neighborhood you want to live in and look for signs). The housing person took us to three different houses. One was half done. One was really stinky and bad, and one was semi done. We got a place in Chicago for $700 dollars which is almost unheard of for price. But we were able to get through to live in a place that was habitable, but it wasn’t great. We lived poor. I walked to work. My wife got a job at Evanston, and I couldn’t get work. I finally got a job at a staffing agency and my wife was let go. We couldn’t get jobs together and therefore, could not get on our feet. I was working a pretty steady job when I worked with City Staffing, so that was good. We both worked shows. We both walked when we didn’t have train money. We starved. We ate. We learned how to live on very little.
My ex-wife told me that we were going to be pregnant with our first child and we moved back to Oklahoma. Because there was bad blood with Tulsa, we moved to Oklahoma City to try our hand there. We came back. We were poor. We relied on the kindness of others. We cooked food in the fireplace. We read from candlelight. We fought. It was not a very good time in our world. One night while watching “How I Met Your Mother” my daughter decided to make an entrance. And we had a little baby. One of our very own. I got a job as an Insurance Customer Service Agent. I worked there. My ex-wife stayed home taking care of our child. I created a theatre company called Valkyrie Theatre which did horror themed plays.
While I was starting to build a live in Oklahoma, I received a call from a friend saying that he was going to leave his teaching job in Marion, Arkansas, right outside of Memphis, Tennessee. I had to raise money do it and raise money to join a program to become a teacher. I had to take test to prove I could read, write and math. And I had to drive long ways back and forth to do a teacher program. I taught a theatre program and managed a performing arts center. I was able to participate in concerts for John Anderson and Barrett Baber. I was able to bring high school musicals to the general public. I was able to learn a ton about what to do and what not to do. I was able to help students achieve scholarships to college. I was able to do great things. I believe that they may have been at the cost of my marriage. My marriage fell a part and I was left with only one option of stay six hours away in a two bedroom house with a teachers salary as the drama teacher, or be close to my kids. I chose to walk away and be closer to my kids.
For the past two years, I’ve been here in Tulsa. I’ve been struggling. I’m in a good situation, but it’s hard and tumultuous. It’s walking on a tightrope of financial stability. It’s trying to peddle your ideas. It’s moving on from here. I keep telling this story, and this story keeps haunting me. Is where I’ve been any more important than where I’m going. Right now, I’m sitting in my house searching for jobs on the internet and trying to write this story.

There's No Limit to What You Can Imagine

  "Love what you do and do what you love. Don't listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it. You do what you want and what you...