Our group “Requiem for a Team” won the Huntington Cinema Arts Centre 48-Hour Film Festival late this Summer. We had to write, film and edit a movie (under 5 mins) with a set guideline of elements. It showed before every film at the theater for a week! 

The required elements were —

Genre (each group had a different one): End of the World

Line of dialogue: “You fool, those were my mother’s feathers!” 

Action: A doll has to fall to the ground. 

Character Name: Prudence Barebones 

I led the writing team. Right off the bat, we decided that comedy was the way to go, since 1) It might be more family friendly and 2) There are SO MANY drab, grey-looking apocalypse films with dirty people walking through woods with guns and gas masks. The first idea was “what if Annie Hall and Alvie Singer met in the apocalypse?”

We wrote a script, up until 3 AM, but it wasn’t satisfactory. After getting a couple hours of sleep, I woke up early and decided to write something new based on some ideas we’d been workshopping. The whole idea of dating tips was the best way to go, since it is free for on-set interpretation and improvisation. I wrote the new script, in a weird, delirious state for 45 minutes, handed it to the crew, and then passed out for most of the day. 

The actors, interestingly, got hints of the initial Woody Allen influence, and decided to dress up accordingly. Nowhere in the script did it mention Alvie Singer or what the characters were really wearing. I was happy and found it odd that the writing itself strongly hinted at at those influences without outright saying it. 

Thankfully, everything worked out, and we made something that we are proud of. 

Carbon Dated Log #4 

My brother has lyme disease. So does my dad. This is what we get for living on Long Island. It’s a nice area - but watch out, you’ll get bitten by ticks! It happened to my brother a little over a week ago when he went camping with his girlfriend. To my dad, it was a few years ago. They’re okay, for now. Brother is on antibiotics. Has to avoid direct UV sunlight. In a couple weeks he’ll look like a mole-person, especially since he just got a PS4. 

More bad news: I lost my glass water bottle. The good news is, I lost it at yesterdays press screening of Woody Allen’s “Magic in the Moonlight”. (Which I enjoyed quite a lot). Now, I can’t get into explicit details, since there’s an embargo on reviews til’ the 18th. What I can tell you is that I liked it just as much as “Midnight in Paris,” less than “Blue Jasmine,” and more than “To Rome With Love”. Allen once again has plugged his neurotic self into his writing, Colin Firth playing an egotistical, atheistic, very logic based Houdini-type magician. Allen probably would have played the character himself, if the film were made twenty-five or thirty years ago. Emma Stone is a young clairvoyant in the film, whose “act” Firth sets out to debunk. That’s about all I can tell you, my review will be posted after the 18th for the Pioneer. 

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I’ve been pondering whole-heartedly seeking paid journalistic work this Summer. I know that I’m fairly ahead of the game, as a rising junior, and I’m enjoying the (albeit unpaid) work I’ve been doing for the Pioneer - I’m my own editor, with the luxury to pick my own assignments and really try to push the boundaries of the A and E section. The initial goal has been to sharpen my nails this Summer through my PR contacts I’ve developed with the Pioneer. Write reviews, conduct interviews, etc and learn how the industry works on my own terms. But I could contact publications and try to get some paid work (not sure what type they’d assign me) before school starts back up again and I’m busier than I’ll ever be (production lab starts, it’s an involved film class). Of course, it would be a great experience and I’d develop even more contacts. At the same time, I don’t want to get too ahead of myself. I don’t know why I feel that way. I wouldn’t say that I’m scared, but I’ve got a hint of trepidation. The people I’ve met at these events are almost all in their mid twenties and up - out of college, with some internships under their belts.  I’ll redraft my resume and reach out my feelers soon. Probably. 

Pete 

Carbon Dated Log #3 

This has been a good week. Yesterday I went to the press conference for “Boyhood”. I saw some colleagues who were at the screening and was able to sit in the front row with them. Collected some new business cards. It’s nice to be among well established writers and be able to have real discussions about film. I told them, “this is my first press conference” and I got the run down of how they work. Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Ellar Coltrane and Richard Linklater came out to answer some questions (only a few, unfortunately). I was not able to ask one, but I’m hoping to be more assertive when I go to the press day for Woody Allen’s “Magic in the Moonlight”. The screening for it is Thursday. One of my new acquaintances, Chiara, will be there as well. She’s from Milan, and will be returning to Italy soon to cover the Venice Film Festival. The mix of fellow writers is… well, mixed. My oldest acquaintances are in their 50’s and 60’s and then Chiara and another guy I met named David (he of course attended NYU), are in their mid twenties. I need to bring my Canon T3i next time. Shitty phone pictures won’t cut it. 

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Pete 

Carbon Dated Log #2 

Like most people who consider themselves a “writer” I keep various (too many) notebooks, pads and scribbles of ideas around the house and on my person. I’m a notorious lister - I have my To Do lists organized days in advance (which, when I think about it isn’t that bad) and the notes app on my phone has something from literally every day of my life. Some of those little scribbles are … standup comedy bits. 

I have never dabbled in standup, but I’ve sat awkwardly on the border of it in ways. For some reason, I was elected “front man” of my band of five years (I play bass) and had the semi-pleasurable (I’m an introvert) opportunity to speak to our measly audiences at the house shows, charity gigs and pay-to-play bullshit out here on Long Island. So, yeah I’d crack a joke here and there - I distinctly remember making awkward comments about the bikini season (and having to fit into a one-piece) at a Summer Cancer Charity, and I once invented my own word called “Epicocity” which is the scale of something being epic.

Also, I was part of a monologue showcase in high school (missed my senior scavenger hunt for it…) and was the FIRST to go on. My monologue was a shitty, probably arrogant piece about a writer sitting in a subway (as if a 17 year old Long Island kid can really relate to that) and observing the people who walk by - finally concluding that they all are, deep down, very similar. I sat there, fake drinking a cup of coffee like an asshole, with a pad of paper. So, I opened up the whole show and forgot my monologue (after furiously rehearsing it backstage over and over) halfway through. Somehow, I managed to improv until I found my spot again. Dodged a bullet. And I think the performance was actually more natural, because my character was supposed to be frustrated. Accidental method acting? 

Back to the standup: so, I keep some bits laying around. They’re accumulating in case I ever want to try standup (maybe I will if I move to the city, or something). I’ve got stuff about my childhood, sex-ed in high school and some other small observations. I feel that everyone should keep a list like this, because it’s sort of a catharsis where you can be cynical, but also humorous in dissecting the world around you. Even if I don’t literally do standup, it’s always good to be an observant person as a writer, and if I’d like to write comedy (scripts, fiction, etc) it’d sure as hell help, right? 

I’ve never gone to a comedy show. Well, I’ve seen some of those crappy shows on cruise ships, or small festivals, but nothing of real import. Recently, I’ve realized how much I actually KEEP UP with standup comics. Probably at least 75% of the specials on Netflix I’ve already watched, and I can name a LOT of comics off the top of my head. Louis CK (I’d like to think I found him earlier than most other people - back in 09) is my favorite. Marc Maron is probably a close second. They’re both crude, but not in an alarming way like Jim Jeffries (the guy is gross).

CK is very influenced by George Carlin (another favorite) and has taken on the whole “one special a year and then throw out the material” schtick. He’s brutally honest and his show is a game-changer in many ways - he’s made it so pretty much anyone can relate to him. The guy is a clear demonstrator of how people are TRYING to be adults, but are often really just grown up children who don’t know what the fuck is going on half of the time. I appreciate that. Maron is a bard. He’s what I like to call a “storytelling comic” - not 100% focused on the “joke” but makes his comedy feel like a very concise, funny campfire chat. I’ve been listening to his WTF Podcast. I find it very… inspiring to hear how some creative people “made it” into the field. He’ll do interviews, starting from the ground up, and over the course of an hour the career of the interviewee is established, and ultimately their humanity shows. The interviews aren’t the manicured crap like half of what we see on TV - these people really let their guards down in a lot of ways, and it’s refreshing. Boomer lives! 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUARHZ5HoPg

I bought a few tickets to the Funny or Die Oddball Comedy Festival in August. It was totally on a whim, but since I’ve never gone to a comedy show, I figured it’d be a great sampling. Louie CK, Bill Burr, Sarah Silverman, Jeffrey Ross, Dave Attel, Chris Hardwick and Hannibal Burress will all be there. My friend John is already set to go with me, and I’ve got time to figure out who will be taking the third ticket. It’s at Jones Beach theater, so of course it won’t be as “intimate” a place like, for example, the Comedy Cellar in NYC. BUT (here’s my rational) it’s $40 to go to the that place, plus a two drink minimum, plus a $20 ticket to the city, plus any food I’d buy. The end cost would probably be well over $70, and I’d be seeing maybe one comic I KNOW, and a bunch who I’m taking a gamble on. The Oddball Fest tickets are $65 each. I’m seeing some of my favorite comics, all together. I think it’s a good deal, yeah? Just sad I don’t live on the West Coast - Dave Chappelle, Marc Maron, Demitri Martin, Jim Gaffigan and Aziz Ansari are doing some of those dates and I’d love to see them as well. 

I’m sure it’ll be a good show. 

Pete 

Carbon Dated Log #1 

Yesterday, I navigated NYC for the first time completely on my own. I know, it’s a little embarrassing - given that I’m into the arts, and I’m turning twenty years old in a week and a half. Maybe it’s just been that whenever I’ve NEEDED to go in, the reason included more than one person. Yeah, let’s say that, and not that I’m a bit underdeveloped in some areas… 

The reason I went in: a private press screening of Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood” at SoHo House NYC - a very upscale place (which I’ll get to in a moment). I will be writing a review of the film for the Pioneer (it is released on July 11th, limited) and most likely be attending the Press Day next week. I took a train to Penn, then the Subway downtown to Houston St. Station. Used my phone GPS on the streets, which wasn’t all that bad. Found my way into a little book store full of hipsters. Didn’t see anything I wanted. 

Then I got to the “general area” according to my GPS. It was 12:45 PM - the screening at 2. Okay, so I got a slice of buffalo pizza (had little celery bits on it) at the Gaslight Pizzeria and watched some of the France V. Nigeria World Cup Game. Time ticked by. I decide to leave and find SoHo House already. After asking a couple folks, one guy says “See Gaslight Pizzeria, that black awning right next to it is SoHo House.” That’s right, people, I ATE NEXT TO IT and didn’t realize. In my defense, there isn’t a huge sign like most of the city buildings have, but fuck it - this was SoHo, the rich/artsy/bohemian area. Maybe they detest big signs. 

I go in. My name IS on the list, which made me feel special, even though I’m not being paid for any of this other than a $200 stipend by the Pioneer every semester. I’m waiting to be let in to the theater, making awkward conversation with some NYU Student. They’re always from NYU. Whenever I’ve been at a press screening or event (which hasn’t been many, yet) the young folks tend to come from some upper echelon school. Whatever, I’m in the right place for what I want to be doing in life (more on THAT later). 

They start moving us all in. The screening room is a few floors up. I overhear that one of the writers (they always have satchels and bags) was representing IFC. I get into the elevator with IFC Dude, NYU Kid and a Mysterious Old Man. The elevator had nice wooden flooring, and fancy padding on the walls, so as soon as I come in I say “nice elevator” to no real reaction. Maybe I’m just not used to nice elevators. 

The theater itself was the best I’ve ever been in - lounge chairs, small lamps and tables, free candy (nobody took any) and cushioned foot rests. People start flowing in, we’re all watching the Cup game on the screen, which is much better than trivia and local advertisements. The man next to me has an infinite number of bags. He was nice - told me about his time at a food festival earlier in the day, traded information (he writes for Huff Post, among other things) and spoke a bit with his bearded friend next to him, and a woman in front of us who was apparently from Milan, Italy.

I’m happy to build contacts, but also a little nervy, since I’m still in school. If I start getting more involved than I currently am, I’d hate to just CUT OFF at the end of August, and then feel some sort of odd pressure during school. I’ll be extremely busy in the Fall, between being a Pioneer editor, trying to get some of my scripts made in production lab class, and my regular school work. A similar thing happened to my brother. He did freelance film set work a bit last summer, and when school rolled around, he felt like he should just drop out, because he was still being extended opportunities and had to turn them down. It’s not like the writing gigs would really get me much money anyway, but that isn’t the point. 

"Boyhood" is literally a rendition of my childhood - just add in alcoholic fathers, divorce and subtract my weight issues. Linklater made the film over the course of 12 years, chronicling the lives of one moderately troubled family, keeping the same cast. The lead character Mason (Ellar Coltrane) is roughly my age, so things like Dragon Ball Z, Game Boys, 911 and presidential elections come flashing back into my head throughout the film. It was an ultimate nostalgic ride, which become a little less interesting as time went on, since I-Phones are what I see ALL OF THE TIME, and when the film reaches modern-times, the world becomes average and mundane. It’s like the past has some gilded appeal to it, so that was my favorite part of the film - when it was the late 90’s and early 2000’s. I had a good time, I think every kid born in the 90’s should see the film. 

So, that is what I’ve been up to. I feel guilty, sometimes, for not having a money-making job. But then I consider what I’m doing - building a portfolio, steadily watching films, meeting people, and pretty much being semi-professional without the pay (in fact, I’m losing money). I constantly hear this advice, that if you want to write: DO IT. And this Summer, I’m dedicating time to DOING IT. I’m trying to finish some scripts, been working on my artist interview blog, and will collaborate with another blogger/artist from Latvia in the Fall. Also, trying to write a short story and to get that published at a Science Fiction magazine. Working a few days as a stage hand at the Tilles Center, but that isn’t very consequential (literally it’s less than a week of work for my schedule). I forgot to mention that I still have a short film to finish editing. My brother did the bulk of it, but I have a LOT of sound design to do, and little to no experience in that department.

Thankfully, I have an outlet at my back for my film writing and criticism, so when I request things and get added to PR contact lists, I’m not just some Joe Schmoe. I’m one small step above that, though. Well, I hope I’m more than that. I like to think I’m a little bit better at writing than other people and that the competition is between me and the NYU kids who I have awkward conversations with. But those people tend to be in grad school. Maybe I’m doing pretty good for myself. My sense of validity is up and down. 

I put in a request to interview Emma Stone in a couple weeks. I’m not getting my hopes up, but maybe it’ll work out. It’s for Woody Allen’s “Magic in the Moonlight” which comes out later in the month. I got the email, inviting me to the press screenings (which I’m going to!) and the press day. That’ll be a press conference (Woody, Stone, Colin Firth, Jacki Weaver) with SELECT interviews. I don’t think I’m select, but I’m trying to be select. 

…what else is new? I bought tickets on a whim to Funny or Die’s Oddball Fest, at Jones Beach Theater. Going to see some of my favorite standup comics, including Louis CK, Sarah Silverman and Bill Burr. I wish Marc Maron was at that gig, I’ve been digging his IFC TV show, and am now a fan of his WTF Podcast. Good stuff 

Have a good day (whatever day you may be reading this). 

Pete 

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