Treatment Update and Important Mailing List News

Treatment Update

I’ve been really quiet on the blog for a while because I’ve been putting my focus on writing the treatment.  Here’s a bit about the writing process:

Each time I go through the treatment, I’ll go back over what’s already been written and clean up anything that needs to be fixed.  Then I’ll usually write another page or two.  After that, I hand it off to Shawna who looks at the old stuff again and the new pages and gives me her thoughts and edits.  It may be a slow way of working, but it is making the older pages better and better.  And while Shawna is working on it, I’m thinking about where I want to go with the next scene or two.  I know how the story is ending.  It’s just mapping out how to get there.

The treatment is getting a lot more detail this time around, which I think will help the script writing go a bit easier.  It reads more like a short story than a dry synopsis, which is what it should do.  Synopses are short matter-of-fact summations of a story…basically a condensed version of the plot.  Whereas, treatments are more entertaining—like a story.  Writers use treatments to sell their screenplays to producers.  But in this case, I’m using the treatment to get the details of the story worked out; and then I’ll use it to get cast and crew on board until the screenplay can be finished.

One of the many challenges with this story is making sure that all five of the main characters (played by Vince, Paul, Eddie, Shannon, and Mike) serve a real purpose in the story.  I don’t want any of their characters to be throw-away characters, like Eberts was in The Invisible Man.  As much as we loved Eberts (and there was even an episode about The Importance of Eberts), in reality, the producers could have easily taken the character out of the series and it wouldn’t have hurt the storyline.  I think it’s to Mike’s credit that he connected with the fans early on and endeared himself and his character to us.  By doing this he assured his continuation on the series, even becoming a series regular in season two.  So I really want to make sure that Mike’s character has a role that is vital to the story and I think we accomplished that.

How fortunate for the Veronica Mars fans that Warner Brothers is willing to bring back their show in the form of a movie, even if the fans have to fund it themselves.  I wish Universal had been as cooperative with The Invisible Man.  Instead, I was turned down flat.  Of course, I was not the show runner, so that gives me considerably less pull with them.  In spite of all that, I’ve always kept in mind that this movie is first and foremost for I-Man fans.  While I can’t copy I-Man, I’ve definitely been using it as inspiration.  I’m hoping that this story will be so good that it will get past any disappointment you may have that it’s not I-Man.  Just to be able to see the cast together again will be such a treat!

This last pass through, I ended up writing five new pages and I’m really happy to say that we are sitting right smack at the beginning of act three, the final act!  The end is so close, I can taste it.  I can’t wait until I’m able to share this story with all of you!

Mailing List News

Some of you observant ones may have noticed that there is an email sign-up form on the front page of my website as well as the Shoom Zone Facebook page.  It’s actually been there a few months.  I’ve been experimenting with a new mailing list service so I really didn’t want to say anything about it until I got the kinks worked out.

The mail service has a cool feature that allows one to split up the mailing list by interests.  I really like the idea, but in practice it was a pain in the neck, so I removed that feature.  I apologize to those of you who signed up already and specified their interests because this means that you will now be getting all my blog posts by email, not just the ones that match your interests.  Although I feel that I need to be blogging more, even at this blog’s busiest, you shouldn’t be inundated with email.  And if a subject doesn’t interest you, you can always delete the email.

My plan is to move everyone from the old mailing list over to the new one within the next month or so.  If you want to go ahead and sign up now, please feel free to do so.  You’ll be able to choose whether you want html, text, or mobile format.  If you don’t sign yourself up, your default will be html.

I won’t sell, rent, or share your email address with anyone except in rare cases as spelled out in the privacy policy.  Please read it if you have any concerns.  Your privacy is important to me.  I don’t like it when someone else abuses my trust and I won’t do it to you.  If you have any questions about it, please feel free to ask by posting a question below or contacting me via the contact form.

Click here to sign up for the mailing list and enjoy the convenience of getting blog posts in your email.

Cast Updates for Vince, Eddie, and Paul

Since I’ve got three updates for you today, I’m going to combine them all into one post.  Let’s get started, shall we?

Vincent Ventresca in Flying Monkeys

While Disney’s Oz: The Great and Powerful is premiering today in theaters, Syfy will be premiering its own Oz knock-off tomorrow called Flying Monkeys (originally called Flying Terror).  The story is about a girl living in Kansas whose new pet monkey turns out to be an evil, flying shapeshifter.  I’m guessing that’s the only similarity to Oz, but we’ll have to see about that.

Vincent Ventresca in "Flying Monkeys"

Vincent Ventresca and Maika Monroe in “Flying Monkeys”

Vincent plays the girl’s father, James.  I’ve got to admit that I’m not crazy about seeing him take another role in a horror creature feature.  I think he’s too talented an actor to play second fiddle to a monster (or in this case monsters).  But I get that it’s work and sometimes you have to take what you can get until a better role comes along (like the role I’ve got for him in my movie 🙂 ).  Regardless, I’m glad he’s working and that we’ll get a chance to see him on our screens again.

Flying Monkeys airs tomorrow (Saturday, March 9) on Syfy at 9:00/8:00c.  Be sure to check your local listings.

Here’s a peak at the trailer:

Eddie Jones in Benched

Eddie Jones and Matt Fowler in "Benched"

Eddie Jones and Matt Fowler in “Benched”

Several years ago, I had the pleasure of seeing Eddie performing live on stage.  It was such a treat!  He’s an amazing actor, as well as a genuinely nice person.  So I was happy to hear that Eddie is back on the stage again in a play called Benched.

The play is about a disgruntled senior citizen named Max who “makes his way to his favorite bench in Central Park to consider what choices he may have left to make his life worth living.  He discovers the bench occupied by a stranger who seems determined to disrupt and interfere with whatever plans he may have for himself.”  The LA Stage Times has a nice write up about it.

If you’re in the LA area, I highly recommend that you take some time to see this play.  Watching Eddie perform live is never a disappointment.  And his wife, Anita Khanzadian, is directing the play too, so you get the talents of both halves of this husband and wife team.

Can you tell I’m a fan?  Well, it’s not hard to be with these two.  They are not only talented, but also just the nicest, sweetest couple.

Benched is playing a limited run through March 24.  You can see it every Friday and Saturday night at 8:00 p.m. and every Sunday at 3:00 p.m.  It’s playing at the Avery Schreiber Theater, 11050 Magnolia Blvd., NoHo Arts District.  You can purchase tickets at the Interact Theatre Company’s website or call 818-765-8732.

For your convenience I’ve put Eddie’s performances as well as Vince’s movie on the Shoom Zone calendar.

Paul Ben-Victor in Vegas

Try as I may, sometimes cast appearances escape my notice until after they are over.  This is the case with Paul’s recent appearance in Vegas.  Fortunately, you can watch the entire episode on the official Vegas website.  But it may not be up for too much longer, so you might want to watch it while you can.

The episode is called “Two of a Kind” and in it Paul plays Abe Silver, a Hollywood producer.  This is the second time Paul has played a Hollywood producer; and the second time he has teamed up with fellow actor Michael Chiklis.

Here’s a little quiz:  Do you remember the name of the TV show in which Paul previously played a producer?  What TV movie has Paul appeared in with Michael Chiklis?

Paul Ben-Victor and Michael Chiklis in "Vegas"

Paul Ben-Victor and Michael Chiklis in “Vegas”

Paul has signed up for a four-episode stint on this show so we’ll get to see more of Abe Silver in the future.

Doritos Crash the Super Bowl Contest: Contest Update

Can you believe the Super Bowl is tomorrow!?  Yep, tomorrow is the day that the two Doritos commercial contest winners are announced.  This will happen during the game sometime when they air the winning commercials.  Unfortunately, it won’t be one of our commercials because we didn’t make it into the finals.  I’m not really surprised.  There was some tough competition this year and there were plenty of commercials that were even better than ours that didn’t make it into the finals.

Overall, I would say we were in the top 20% of the commercials in terms of production value and story; although much of the story ended up getting cut because of time constraints and I think that really hurt us.  I really wish that we could have, at the very least, made it into the finals (and won $25,000) so that we could have paid everyone involved in the project.  This was an all-volunteer project.  Nobody got paid…from cast to crew.  Everyone took a chance with this project and it is greatly appreciated.  We couldn’t have done it without their combined talent.

Now I know I said that I would be talking more about the making of the commercial, and I will.  But because producing the commercial took me off my I-Man cast feature film project for several months, I felt it was more important to put my focus back on writing the treatment to get that project moving again.  Naturally, if we had actually gotten into the finals, I would have put my time and energy into promoting the heck out of the commercial and trying to get as many votes as we could so that we could win.  But since that didn’t happen, I switched priorities.

To all of you who have been supporting us in this contest, I want to give a big thank you.  It was because of you giving us five-star ratings that we were able to actually make third place in the popularity ratings for a short time!  It didn’t last long, of course, because everyone else was trying to get their ratings up too and they overtook us.  But it did get our commercial some attention; and that was one of my goals during that phase of the contest.

If you’ve been following the contest, you know that Doritos had a Nacho Awards contest earlier.  There were eight different categories and our commercial didn’t really fit any of them so we weren’t chosen to compete.  To watch the winners, go to the Doritos Facebook app and click Nachos on the “Sort By” drop down menu.

The Finalists

The following video is of Ali Landry introducing the five finalists, giving us some behind-the-scenes tidbits, and explaining how the contest works.

Tomorrow we find out who the two winners are!  Which commercials are you rooting for?

Doritos Crash the Super Bowl Contest: Two New Commercials!

I’m pleased to announce that we have submitted two new commercials to the Doritos contest!

Why submit more than one entry?  Well, we got some feedback on the first commercial and not all of it was positive.  One of the complaints we heard was that it went by so fast some people couldn’t figure out what was happening.  Others complained that the trophy didn’t seem damaged enough to replace the football with a Doritos ball.

So, Mike Wood, our 1st AD, took the raw footage and cut another commercial.  It meant having to completely cut out some scenes, but I think the sacrifice was worth it.  The commercial flows so much better now and it really focuses on the story.  If any of our commercials have a chance to win, we think this will be the one.  You can click on the link below to watch it.  By the way, don’t let the name of this version fool you.  It’s not a true story.  It’s completely fictitious.

Doritos Golden Trophy True Story

The next commercial came out of a lot of extra footage that we had.  Sandra Myers, our director, had originally envisioned having a lot of dancing in the commercial.  Her first idea had the actors doing goofy end zone touchdown dances.  Then she changed it so that everyone was doing the same dance.

So what happened to all that dancing footage?  Well, it got cut.  Thirty seconds was simply not enough time to cram it all in!  So Sandra decided to cut another commercial…one that focused on the dancing.  It doesn’t really tell a story, but it is a lot of fun.  She used not only footage from the shoot but, also, footage from the auditions and footage of some of the actors eating Doritos that she took when we were doing ADR (Automated or Additional Dialog Replacement).  Here’s the fun result:

Dance Doritos Style

There are only two more days left before the contest changes so I hope you’ll help us out before Wednesday, November 28 by giving us a five star rating on our commercials, especially Doritos Golden Trophy True Story.  We really want to get that one noticed and we don’t have much time left!

November 28 will start the Nacho Awards portion of the contest.  This part of the contest is where Doritos pits the commercials against each other in various categories.  For example, Doritos may ask Facebook users to select their favorite commercial that includes a pet.  We have no idea if any of our commercials will be chosen to participate in the Nacho Awards or even if they will be available to view and rate (we hope so!).

Whatever happens, I’ll be keeping all of you updated on what is happening with the contest.  I’ll, also, go back and talk more about the pre-production, production, and post-production phases of the project, which is something that I had wanted to do while we were going through those phases, but was unable due to time constraints.  I’ll have some cool behind the scenes photos to show you and maybe another surprise or two.

Announcing Our Crash the Super Bowl Commercial: “Doritos Golden Trophy”!

Hey, folks, I’m pleased to announce that our commercial for the Doritos Crash the Super Bowl contest is now online!  Now before I send you to the link to watch it, I want to give a big thanks to our cast and crew and especially our director, Sandra Myers, for making this ad a reality.  We couldn’t have done it without you!  This was truly a group effort.

There are only a couple of days left before the submission period closes so we need you to help us out and get us noticed!  Here’s how you can help:

  • Accept the Doritos Facebook app!  It’s the only way you’ll be able to watch the commercial.
  • Go rate the ad by giving it five stars!  Not one, not two, not three, not four, but five stars!  We need to keep near the top of the ratings and not get lost at the bottom so that we can get noticed.
  • Post a comment!  You’re comment will appear on your Facebook page along with a link to the commercial.
  • Share the commercial!  There are three share buttons below the ad.  One for Facebook, one for Twitter, and one for email.  Please share it with everyone you know and ask them to rate and share it too!

Thanks for your help.  Now go watch the commercial!

Doritos Golden Trophy Commercial


Doritos Crash the Super Bowl and SAG Membership

I’ve been asked by several actors about the SAG membership that comes along with winning the Crash the Super Bowl contest, so I wanted to take a few minutes to explain what that means.

Disclaimer:  Now before you take what I say as gospel truth, please know that I have never produced a SAG project.  I’ve only done non-union up to this date (but do have plans to produce SAG projects down the road), so please do your own homework if you absolutely have to know the exact details of how this contest and SAG work.  I’ve done some research, but I’m not going to claim to be an authority on this subject.

First off, here’s what Doritos says in their official rules:

Each person whose image, likeness and/or voice appears in a Finalist video must agree that he/she will execute a contract with Sponsor (“Option Contract”), in which Sponsor has the sole option to elect to use the Finalist videos for marketing purposes and under the terms of such agreement, if elected, Finalist shall be bound by the standard terms of the Screen Actors Guild Commercials Contract, will accept minimum scale compensation and talent residuals and will be bound by the terms and conditions of such contract, including exclusivity.

What this means is that if our commercial is chosen as one of the Finalists and if it is aired, all actors, including extras, must sign an agreement with Doritos, which will require you as a principal or extra to sign a SAG Commercial Contract.

This means SAG membership for principal roles, which include getting paid scale (on top of what Sandra will be paying you if we become a Finalist), and residuals.  If Doritos requires exclusivity, it would also mean you get paid holding fees.  For more information on holding fees please see the SAG-AFTRA Commercial Contract FAQ page.

For extras, this could count as one voucher toward getting your SAG membership.  You need three vouchers to join SAG.  In addition, you would, also, get paid SAG rates for background work (in addition to the amount Sandra will be paying you if we become a Finalist).

If you’re an actor looking to join SAG, this could be the opportunity that pays off for you…not to mention that being seen during the Super Bowl would give you incredible exposure.  Of course, there is a catch:  We have to win!


Doritos Crash the Super Bowl Contest: Changes

Things have been crazy busy as we rush to get all the elements we need to shoot our commercial.  This is the first breather I’ve had to actually sit down and write about the project.

One of the things I found out about the contest is that they choose, not one, but two commercials to air during the Super Bowl!  How cool is that?

Here’s the second winner in last year’s contest:

It seems that kids and animals are a popular theme among the winners.  But, we’re not doing either one of those themes.  Our theme is football…which presents some challenges.

Supplies to make one of the props.

When Doritos posted their contest rules last month on the 19th, I was anxious to read them and make sure that we were on the right track.  They have very strict rules about not using any kind of NFL trademark, logo or merchandise or any other third party trademark or logo; so, in addition to not using NFL trademarks and copyrighted material, we, also, had to be careful about violating other football leagues’ trademarks or copyrights.  Sandra, basically, had to create a totally fictitious football league and football team (as well as another fictitious company).  But when I read the rules I realized that one of our props totally violated NFL trademark rules.  So that prop idea got thrown out and Sandra came up with another idea that is very generic and should work fine.

Composer Martin Morillo

Sandra recruited her brother, composer Martin Morillo, to compose original music for the commercial.  Martin, visiting from Spain, is a very talented composer and we were so fortunate to get his help.  However, the rules stated that contestants could use only the music provided by Doritos, so Martin’s efforts will, unfortunately, not be heard.

I wish I could have gotten a hold of last year’s rules.  It would have saved us a bit of time and effort.  But, overall, we weren’t set back too much and we’re still on track to not only meet but, also, beat the deadline of November 16.

Mike McCafferty in “Austin & Ally” Tonight!

Hey, Invisible Man fans, here’s a heads up that our own Mike McCafferty will be appearing in tonight’s episode of Austin & Ally! The episode is entitled “Backups & Breakups” and Mike plays the role of Mr. Conley in it.  The show airs tonight on the Disney Channel at 8:30 p.m. PT, but be sure to check your local listings for your time zone.

When I was checking out the show’s website, I was pleasantly surprised to see that actress Raini Rodriguez is in it.  She’s probably best known for Paul Bart: Mall Cop.  I met Raini a couple of years ago at a film festival and she really impressed me with her friendliness and professionalism.  She’s a very talented young lady and it’s nice to see her as a regular in a TV show.