A sprawling, introspective interview of two Western New Yorkers trying to make it in Hollywood
blog by Ben Kirst • June 25, 2012 @ 11:04am
We’ve all dreamed about it: uprooting ourselves from the comfortable, if somewhat unsatisfying, daily grind and rolling the dice on a massive change. If things break right—just right—we could find ourselves in a world we never imagined possible.
The problem, of course, is that things rarely break just right. We fear that even if we work our hardest, stretch our resources as far as they can go, we’ll still end up disappointed.
So we don’t try. We settle. We talk ourselves out of moving to Hollywood or New York because it would be a lot easier to move in with a couple friends down in Charlotte…or just to stay at home.
Matt Landon and Jordan Imiola didn’t take the compromise. The two young Western New Yorkers—Landon was born and raised in Holland, Imiola in Cheektowaga—moved to Los Angeles in recent years to pursue their writing and acting dreams. They have experienced a modicum of success: Landon has appeared in a handful of web series, music videos, independent movies and, most recently, landed a small role in a Ben Affleck-directed film. Imiola has been feverishly writing his own screenplays and various web shorts while working as a script analyst for Untitled Entertainment.
In their free time, the duo has teamed with a friend to write, direct and produce a web series entitled Orville vs. Pedro, a black-and-white comedy series that feels like a delightfully low-budget homage to the humor of silent movies, Tom and Jerry cartoons and The Simpsons.
Is Orville vs. Pedro a web phenomenon? It is not. Is it funny, well-shot and genuinely entertaining? It is. Will Landon and Imiola become big Hollywood names? The odds are certainly against that. But that does not mean that they are not on the hard-working path that could lead to meaningful success. They’re the brave ones—the guys who took the chance. We’re rooting for them.
Over two months this past spring, Landon and Imiola were kind enough to engage in an email back-and-forth that illuminates their own background, struggles and successes as hungry young men trying to make a go of it on the west coast. Take a look.
Your Orville v. Pedro videos are funny. That seems like a pretty basic and mundane statement, but being funny – legitimately, cleverly funny, even while smashing stuff and barfing on each other – is really difficult. There are a lot of awful examples of people attempting humor on YouTube..and television…and movies…and a million web sites around the world. The reason these videos come off as funny is because of the subtlety and referential nature—the goofy Charleston after the successful basket, 1920s Mickey Mouse-style; bottles of alcohol labeled as such (I particularly enjoyed “Santa’s Cooking Wine” in the “Drinking Contest” video); and a bunch of other little touches that recall old-school film, and even more recent stuff like The Simpsons.
So here is the question—what makes two 21st-century guys draw upon these increasingly obscure references, put them together into independent film shorts and then have the confidence to share these publicly—and know that they are entertaining? And even if these don’t go viral, how important is it to you guys just to have this record of what you think is funny and comedically important out there?
The idea is pretty simple. Life is a series of actions and reactions. The original idea was to make content in seven-second increments that was just action-reaction. That idea became Orville vs Pedro. Jordan and I both love comedy of all kinds, dialogue-based and physical slap stick. One of the things I like about Orville Vs. Pedro is it’s honest irreverence. You really never know what you’re going to get next. We’re always trying to come out of left field. I think that’s what makes it funny—it is either something where you are like “aw,” because you can totally relate to the moment, or you are like “What!?” because you would have never expected it. We also wanted some good, semi-clean comedy that pushes bounds of good taste while still being borderline family-friendly. Something that we could show our friends or our grandmother (usually.)
Jordan and I have always appreciated the classics. I am still blown away by Buster Keaton in The General. I mean, wow. Him running up and down that train in real time—amazing. The first time I saw that, it changed the way I saw movies.
The great thing about film is you really don’t need words to understand or relate whats happening. The visual gives you the entire moment. You get thousands of words worth in one seven-second snap shot of time. With no words, anyone in the world can see this understand and connect. Silent film is a universal language. Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, the Three Stooges, Harold Lloyd etc. were able to accomplish so much without words or huge budgets. Their comedy and action scenes still hold up as relevant today. It really stands the test of time. They were able to find the simple honesty in the moment and exploit the @*$% out of it. That would be my 101 definition of comedy.
I am pretty excited, really. I feel that we still have the best episodes ahead of us. I really look forward to capturing them. We love this stuff. We had a lot of fun shooting it and coming up with the ideas, but we couldn’t have done it without the great work of Dewalt Mix, our awesome DP and editor. He has been so integral in bringing the vision to fruition.
We draw upon the 1920s slapstick style of comedy, because we are both huge fans of films from that time and the humor is timeless. I know Matt is a big fan of Buster Keaton, and one of my biggest inspirations is Charlie Chaplin. Since my Grandpa gave a VHS copy of The Gold Rush in high school, I’ve been hooked. There’s something so amazing, hilarious and unforgettable about that film. The jokes work just as well today as they did in 1925 and the story is satisfying in every way. Since watching The Gold Rush, I’ve seen almost every other Chaplin film, but The Gold Rush” is still my favorite and holds a place in my heart.
I feel a lot comedy today depends too much on pushing the envelope and being absurd on purpose. Shows like South Park and Louie are entertaining, but it’s because they’re so raunchy, vulgar, and sometimes cynical. I’m also sick of movies being made in 3-D as a tool to grab the attention of an audience. We lose what movies are really about, and that’s story, relationships, and emotion. I still have yet to see Avatar, and really have no interest, because all my friends said it lacked a real story.
There’s a simplicity, innocence, and good nature to classic black and white comedies that can be loved by everyone. A film like Buster Keaton’s The Cameraman not only appeals to senior citizens, but to toddlers as well. Another one of my favorites is a comedy from 1933 called Design For Living. It has my favorite dialogue of any film I’ve seen. And they swear only once towards the end. And it’s the big one, the queen mother of all dirty words. And that swear word holds so much meaning and power, because it’s used only once and has a specific purpose.
We try to take the simple humor of classic black and white comedies and apply it to Orville vs. Pedro. We’re always trying to find more ways to keep the comedy simple. That’s why we dress in t-shirts with O and P, so you always know who’s who. By having the series in black and white, it holds that simplicity and establishes the world our characters exist in. When I was a member of Buff State’s improv troupe, FNL, the founder, David Rzeszutek, taught us comedy works best in black and white. If a scene is too complex and not simple, the crowd is going to get confused, get lost, and not laugh. Shows like I Love Lucy and The Honeymooners are forever funny, but they wouldn’t be as funny in color.
Orville Vs. Pedro takes an old formula and applies it to new media. We took something we have a real passion for, and created a web series with it. Rather or not the videos become viral doesn’t make a real difference. Matt, me and our DP, Dewalt Mix, love each episode for various reasons. We find something entertaining and endearing in every webisode.
And the entire process has been fun and fulfilling. Matt is one of my best friends, so it’s always a blast coming up with joke pitches, and seeing what we can do to one another. He doesn’t mind if I vomit on him or kick him the nuts as long as he hits me in the head with a basketball over and over again until we get the perfect shot.
And if we’re having fun making it, I think the audience will have fun watching it. I love how Orville vs. Pedro is unique in so many ways (the music, cartoonish props, the wild physicality, etc) and I could easily watch and laugh at each episode again and again. If my screenwriting career somehow takes a turn for the worse, and I somehow end up as a garbage man or a tattoo artist, it will be still nice to look back at this webseries and reflect back at a more comedic time of my life.
I find that whenever I go out of town and get pulled into a conversation with anyone—business associates, hotel guests, random strangers, service professionals—it does not take much to get me rambling about Buffalo. Ask me where I’m from, I’ll say “Buffalo”—I grew up in Dunkirk, to be 100% honest—and if the other person gives me even a hint of an opening I will soon find myself going on and on about the Bills, and how the weather isn’t that bad, and how things are getting better around here, and there is a real energy building up, and have you heard of Frank Lloyd Wright, and on and on. There’s a real pride there, but also this weird sensation that I feel I need to make a good impression as a representative of my city. Which, with all my chamber of commerce monologues, may be counterproductive.
Anyhow, talk about your upbringing in Western New York. Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school? How hard was it to go away? And do you have any designs on coming back here again? Do you find yourself discussing / comparing / promoting / slagging Buffalo on the West Coast? Or is it really not such a tangible thing to you now that you are gone?
Let me open by saying the police helicopter is literally right over my roof shining it’s light on the building I live in. The light is spilling onto me where I am sitting typing this right now. I have no idea why it’s there. I’ve heard automatic gunfire while walking down the street. Never did any of those things happen where I grew up.
I was raised in Holland, NY—home of the Flying Dutchmen and the Tulip Festival. My family used to set up a popcorn and Loganberry stand at the Tulip Festival. We used the proceeds to buy flowers for our house every year. It was a tradition. Just the other day, I was just trying to explain Loganberry to someone with no success. Buffalo is seriously lucky. We have so many unique edible treasures. Loganberry, beef on weck, sponge candy, real pizza and some of the best (and most fatteningly delicious) food out of anywhere
I have traveled. We really are unique. My family owns a successful coffee house in East Aurora named Taste Bistro. (That’s 634 Main St., East Aurora, NY 14052…try the house specialty, secret recipe E.T. Mocha! You’re welcome, mom.) My brother has a 4.0 GPS and is about to graduate the engineering program at the University at Buffalo. I grew up performing. I carved my teeth all over the city. Starting at Geraldine Hoffman Dance Academy and later the the amazing Future Dance Academy (which could totally reside in L.A.), I performed on stage for two seasons as dance captain at Six Flags Darien Lake when I was a teenager. I studied at Studio Arena and the Theatre of Youth. I performed at Holland High School all four years (Albert Peterson in Bye, Bye Birdie, Prince Charming in Cinderella, Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof and Marcellus Washburn in the Music Man), along with a handful of plays and musicals at the Aurora Players in East Aurora. I performed on stage at Shea’s when we won the Kenny Award for Best Musical and sang onstage to a packed house in the Town Ballroom. I have appeared on Channels 2, 4 and 7 more than once, as well as a bunch of Buffalo television and radio commercials. Currently, I’m flying back and forth filming a roll as the lead antagonist of the film Nicholas of Myra, which is being shot entirely in the B-LO.
The list goes on and on but you get the picture—Buffalo is pretty much built into my DNA. Although, I have to say, Jordan definitely one-ups me all the time on the Buffalove. I am pretty sure he owns every shirt and trinket ever made in, by or about Buffalo. It comprises the majority of his clothes, I’m pretty sure.
First things first—I have to say California weather is way better than Buffalo weather. I do miss the first snow, the crisp feel of fall, the smell and colors of the leaves, going to the cider mill. Ultimately though, in California, you could literally go hiking in the desert, surfing in the ocean and snowboarding on fresh powder all in the same day. It’s pretty amazing to be able to go outside any day, not having to check the weather report seeing if its going to rain or be to cold. In Los Angeles, the answer is no, It will not rain. It will be sunny and 80 degrees..again. Which is what is sort of also the downside. Weather gives variation. I get so excited every time it rains here. It’s so refreshing. I feel like it’s a renewal. When it does rain here in L.A. people freak out, even if just a light drizzle. It rains 15 times or less a year here. So when it does rain, people cancel meetings and there are more accidents on the highway.
It’s a funny thing—I remember getting 2+ feet of snow (in Buffalo), just while you slept. Still going to school, trudging through snow up to your belly button while all bundled in a one-piece snowsuit and moonboots. The people of L.A. would explode if they had to deal with something like that.
Which brings me to my next point. The thing I speak about most when I speak of our city, is it’s people. Some of the kindest, most genuine, hardworking, honest people you will ever meet live in Buffalo. Salt of the earth people. I think that is truly what defines us. We ARE the city of good neighbors. I know that those traits are in many ways what defines me here in L.A.
It’s not because Matt Landon is different, it’s because of where he came from and how he was raised. To be a real person, with heart and values. I think a lot of those characteristics are also what made us create Orville vs. Pedro. Simple, genuine comedy. No pretense, no filler.
I mean, ultimately, if I wasn’t from Buffalo, Orville vs. Pedro would never exist. I had just moved into a new apartment building and went to the laundry room to do…well you know what. Anyway, the light to the laundry room won’t turn on. I make a comment about this to the only other person in the room who was consequently also doing his laundry in the dark. Within a few sentences we learned we were both from Buffalo and had been to many of the same events and places, often at the same time (Lenny Kravitz, Goo Dolls, Mighty Taco, Music is Art, Taste Bistro, Town Ballroom, Allentown, the list goes on). We had been in the same room with each other for years and never even met the other. The funny part is, Jordan was washing his laundry to move out of the apartment building that same day.
Over the past year, since that dark and lucky laundry excursion, he has become one of my closest friends and now roommate. So in other words, if there wasn’t a Buffalo, there wouldn’t be this article.
There are actually a surprising number of Buffalonians here in Los Angeles. I am always seeing someone will a Bills shirt (I have a Jim Kelly jersey, which I wear constantly, and an autographed Terrell Owens Bills away jersey. I only bought it because his signature lowered the value of the jersey. It was a stitched jersey and I bought it for $32 with papers—that means the jersey’s value was cut in half once he signed it. I thought that was funny. I also have one that says Billieve, which I got from a Labatt Blue cube…man, do I miss Canadian beer.) The other day I saw someone wearing a Bisons t-shirt.
Just like three days ago, I started talking to someone wearing a Bills shirt. He’s a writer, living in New York City but out here for pilot season, filming a pilot. We instantly hit it off talking about Bills moves and how cool Marv Levy is. He and I set up time to meet and talk about working together, all based off a simple shirt with a lot of meaning to us both. I still stream all the Buffalo Bills games on 97 Rock.com and keep up with the city through Buffalo.com, buffalonews.com and a few Twitter feeds, but the best is going to Busby’s in West L.A. It’s a Buffalo bar and the entire back section is for Bills fans. I went for the Bill-Patriots game early season 2011. When we beat the Patriots, the place exploded. I felt like we won the Superbowl. It is one of my favorite football memories of all time. I even have a video. Super-crappy video, but I watch it often just because it reminds me of home.
I’m happy here in L.A. but I will never forget from where I came. I will always remember all the valuable lessons Buffalo taught me about honor, hard work and honesty. I have been asked if all people from Buffalo are as nice and caring as I am. I’m proud to say yes. Even if I spend the rest of my life in here in LaLa Land I will forever be a Buffalonian. I am proud to be an ambassador for the Queen City and will keep reping for her until the next Pan-American convention is held there. I guess if I was to summarize this all into one sentence I would simply say “LET’S GO BUFFALO!!!”
I find myself promoting Buffalo all the time on the West Coast. I miss the Queen City quite a lot, but it took me leaving home to really discover how much I love and appreciate growing up in Western New York. I was born at Children’s hospital and spent most of my childhood in Cheektowaga/Sloan. In high school, I moved to Marilla, which is the town next to East Aurora. Then in College, I studied television and film arts at Buffalo State College, where I really fell in love with the city.
Buffalo will always be a part of me. Figuratively and literally, since my only tattoo is a blue buffalo. It was hard leaving. Most of my family and best friends are still there, but I know it doesn’t matter how far away I am, they’re still always be there for me. Texting, skype, and cell phones have made that process pretty easy. And when I do go back home, it’s like I never left. I notice additions to the Galleria Mall and the new shops on Elmwood, but the comfortable feeling and persona is always there.
The saying “The City of Good Neighbors” is so easy to see when you leave Buffalo. There’s so many rude people in bigger cities who have less personality than cardboard paper. Buffalonians are more genuine, proud, funny, and personable. I miss the people a lot. It’s odd how Matt and I will have the same thought patterns, and our friendship was almost instantaneous when we met last year. It’s so easy to strike up a conversation with another Western New Yorker.
Buffalo is a very homey city with a sense of community that doesn’t exist in other places. We are rich in keeping traditions and values alive. We all know when the next Sabres game is, or the score of the last Bills game. We really appreciate concerts and look forward to annual events. We take pride in our city’s culture and heritage. Every year since I was a nine, my family has bought me a t-shirt from the Allentown Art Festival, and I have several 716 and Buffalo Love T-shirts.
On a more silly note, we also know how to party! If gangster rap from the 1990s has taught me anything, it’s that California was supposed to know how to party. Tupac built up my high expectations, but the reality is, people here flake all the time! And when Californians do party, they’re in bed by 2 a.m. All the bars crudely kick people out at 1:30 A.M. I often find myself thinking, if I was back home, I would be in Allentown right now meeting cool new people until 4 A.M. before going to Jim’s Steakout. Buffalo truly has nights worth remembering and we know how to have fun.
One thing I noticed and love about Buffalo is how much we celebrate. We celebrate every major holiday and then some. I’ve had so many happy memories from celebrating holidays back home. Most people in L.A. don’t pay attention to holidays and there’s a lot of trendy atheists. They’re not very fun and a lot of them are annoying. This Easter I didn’t see one single Easter decoration, and I know that’s different back home. My family always decorates and has Easter Brunch or dinner. Not only does Buffalo celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, but the whole city comes together for the Sunday before or after for parade day. And I didn’t realize Dyngus Day wasn’t a national holiday until I left home.
I totally agree with Matthew about the food in Western New York. Buffalo has the best places to eat and it’s food that will fill you up! L.A. has more variety of food, but it’s genuinely more expensive and the servings are for skinny people. People here think they know what chicken wings and pizza are (they are so very wrong). Pizza here is always awful. Any Italian restaurant on Hertal Avenue, or Picasso’s, or La Nova is beyond better in every way. I also dearly miss Ted’s Hot Dogs, Spot Coffee mocha shakes, poutine fries and hoagies from Jim’s Steakout, Anderson’s custard (and their curly fries), anything from Mighty Taco, Wegman’s subs, sponge candy, Bob & John’s pizza, Molson, Labatt’s, Pearl Street Grill and Brewery, Bison dip, Timmy Ho’s Iced Capps, Taffy’s milkshakes, Chiavetta’s chicken, and so much more.
If my career allowed me, I would love to come back and live in Buffalo for summers. I’ve had several apartments around the city and I find summers there to be phenomenal. There’s so many amazing events to go to. The Taste of Buffalo, Allentown Art Festival, Music is Art, Elmwood Festival of the Arts, the Erie County Fair, Bison games, Disco Duck concerts, the Italian festival, etc. The city is lively every day during summer. And we have a slew of free concert series that I dearly miss every year (Thursday at the Harbor, Tuesdays at Artpark, Canal Fest, Bidwell Park). I feel Buffalo is a big city with a small-town feel. And I wouldn’t want it any other way. The people, traditions, friendly vibe, and food truly make it amazing and unique.
There was an article by James Wolcott in a recent edition of Vanity Fair about television officially surpassing movies in terms of “…inventive comedy (Modern Family, 30 Rock), complex heroines (Damages, Weeds), and finely textured drama (Mad Men, Downton Abbey)…” And it does seem, at least from my personal perspective, that water cooler talk (and Twitter conversations, for that matter) are far more often about what’s on TV as opposed to what’s playing at the megaplex. Some of this, of course, is pure convenience—I can watch Community with my laptop open (or even on my laptop) and have a conversation about it with my friends or like-minded strangers instantly, and I can’t do that at the movie theater.
But there is also Wolcott’s argument that “…franchise blockbusters seem to be leeching off the legacy of pop culture and cinema history, squandering the inheritance with endless superhero sequels and video-game emulations that digitize action stars into avatars and motion-capture figures, a mutant species with an emotive range running strictly in shades of bold.” Or, in other words, new movies generally kind of stink.
As individuals trying to build acting careers – how do you feel about the current creative situation in American entertainment? Is TV the place to be? Are mainstream movies really getting worse and worse? Are there shades of grey that are being ignored?
First of all, I think its important to note that television is accessible to the masses, especially when there’s an economic downturn. People turn to television since a hundred channels for a month costs the same as one movie outing for two people. Movies are a large investment for a family of four on a budget, so television is obviously more accessible. There is also more diversity with all of those channel options so it has less responsibility than movies, which try to hit all quadrants and reach as many people as possible.
Do I think movies are getting worse? I don’t know. I guess it depends on perspective. I go to the movies a lot. I even enjoy a superhero remake now and again. I am extremely excited to see the new Dark Knight movie when it comes out. I will be there at midnight for the first screening, unquestionably. With that said, there is a good deal of trash out there. It definitely boggles my mind to see some movies get produced when I know so many talented people who haven’t (yet) been given a chance. It’s also a changing landscape. Famous film actors are now taking television rolls. So the people who used to be television leads are now taking smaller roles and the person who was previously taking the smaller role is taking and even smaller roles and that continues to filter down to the bottom. That really makes it a challenge. This is a new thing and the industry is still trying to figure out how to adjust.
That’s another reason why I enjoy making things like Orville vs Pedro. It’s an opportunity to do what I love, on my own terms. Surprisingly too, some of these web series are getting a much larger viewership than some of those shows that have stars attached.
I think it comes down to a few things. I don’t proclaim to know everything about the industry by any means, but I am a lover of cinema and a lifelong student of the medium. First off, there are too many movies made. I realize that you have to cut your teeth on a few movies to make yourself known (which I now think means cutting your teeth on a few high-quality web series), but cinema is meant to be an experience. It offers you a two-hour journey through something special, unique and provoking. You go to the movies and sit in front of this monstrous screen with the gargantuan popcorn and early-onset diabetes-sized soda and you expect and epic experience—something you have never seen before.
The first film ever shown was just simply a train pulling into a station. As the train pulls up, all the people in the audience freaked out. They thought the train was going to come through the screen and flatten them all. They had an experience they will never forget. That is what going to the movies is all about. I think there needs to be more of that—remembering that the true purpose of cinema is creating a spectacle that couldn’t be shown on television. Be it emotional, psychological, spiritual or physical, people should leave your film feeling transported and enlightened. If not, then please don’t make a film. (Man, I am far more cynical on this question than I expected.)
Personally, if I want to invest myself in something, I watch a film. If I want to relax at the end of the day or take a bit of time to clear my head, I watch television. I think that needs to be acknowledged too. People expect a little less from television. They don’t have as much expectation or investment as a two-hour, $50 movie outing. If you look at the ratings on, say, Netflix, television shows as a whole have a higher rating than films.
I think television has really improved over the last several years. There is some quality content that is again being put out. I am extremely glad that the reality television era is waining. I’m pretty sure I felt a sense of nausea since the invent of reality television. It’s intensely frustrating to think that people who offer no value, depth, intelligence or moral worth are being glamorized as a status symbol for our country. _________________ (Right there is the part where I would go off on some diatribe that would get me a nasty call from the Kardashians or some lame drive-by attempt by the Jersey Shore clan…so I digress.) (Wow, I am seriously spicy on this question! No hard feelings, Kim and Snooki!)
I expect as technology continues there will be less of a differentiation between film and television, as they both will be pushed through the medium of the Internet. Your phone, laptop, iPad or television screen is now your own personal movie theater. That is a bit of where Orville vs Pedro came from. Its a tribute to the golden era of film with a bit of a modern twist, in a modern medium, for a modern viewing audience. They say peoples attention span is three to five minutes. So Orville vs. Pedro is wwwwaaaay ahead of the curve…witty, classic comedy in small, bite-size pieces. Perfect for the person who just needs a quick laugh break.
In my opinion, web series are not getting the credit they deserve yet. Yes, obviously there is a plethora of amateur content out there, void of production value. There is also a good deal of high-quality content out there now and I think the trend will only increase. To prove my point, I was the lead of a web series named Nuclear Coleslaw. We, in one week, had more viewership (the count got reset when we sold the series, but we had a million-plus views in a few days) than an entire season of an unnamed MTV show (the director worked at MTV at the time, so I got to hear the stats). But the MTV show 600 times the advertising dollars put against it.
The opportunity for the Internet is mega. it’s still the wild west and I love that. Shows aren’t forced into time slots, demographics, to-the-second-specified episode lengths or FCC regulations. That opens up so much potential for the creative. I believe that will have a great impact on entertainment. Opening up creations unable to be explored in the current construct of American television broadcasting. The best content will rise to the top, regardless of the medium, as they will all be housed within the great equalizer of the Internet. Well, the best content and funny cat videos…but again, I digress.
We are the first generation to create things for the digital age and that is an honor. I am proud to be a pioneer in new media, with the freedom to share what I think is funny and good knowing that my grandkid’s great-grandkids will get to see it. That will be the true test of timeless humor. Hopefully they will laugh when I get kicked in the junk.
Personally, I would rather work in TV than film, but not because movies are getting worse and worse. Every year has it’s garbage and gems. I agree, we have endless sequels every year that are terrible, but that’s always been the case. There’s always been movies that stink, but we choose to remember and re-watch the good ones. Bad sequels have been around forever, but we don’t need to see Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey or Free Willy 3 more than once. And terrible superhero movies are not new. Remember Superman III and IV? I hope not.
Too much in film today is being focused on 3-D and special effects, but every year we also have fantastic films that take us by surprise. There’s still amazing stories we haven’t heard yet. And then we’ll have a film like Hugo that offers stunning visuals and a great story.
A huge reason why we get a lot of lousy movies is because Hollywood loves making tent-pole films. And they always have. These are movies that offer sequels and franchise opportunities, so it secures a long-lasting profit for the studio. The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter have been hugely successful tent-pole films in the last decade. Unfortunately, so have all the Saw films and the six sequels to Police Academy.
The fan frenzy and buzz from film and television also depends on seasons. The greatest and epic movies of the year are released during summer and around Christmas, when TV takes a break—but fall is dominated by TV, with all the season and series premieres.
I don’t think at all movies are getting worse, but I do enjoy TV more, because it’s more accessible and makes us spend more time with the characters. As dedicated fans, we get to see these characters grow in current time as we grow ourselves. A movie could never offer that. TV is also a quicker process to create. It doesn’t take nearly as much time to write, produce, or act in a TV show as it does in a feature-length film. I can write a first draft of a spec script of a TV show in a few days, but it would take me a few months to write a good first draft of a feature-length screenplay.
I would rather work in television than film, but only because TV is a quicker process to create, and audiences are more emotionally invested. A movie’s biggest day is usually the Friday the film is released in theaters. The buzz declines after that, whereas TV can last for years, even decades. I’ve been a dedicated fan of The Office for eight years now, but I’m not going to watch The Avengers every week of my life.
What are you working on now? What projects do you have planned for the near future? And where can locals see your work?
Right now, I’m focused on rewriting and marketing my latest screenplay. I finished it a few months ago, and I’ve had some fantastic feedback and buzz. It’s about two female comedians who cross-dress as dudes to prove women can be just as funny as men…but soon their male selves take over their success. Some Like It Hot meets Bridesmaids. It’s tentatively titled Lick My C@#$. And it’s really funny.
I’m constantly writing and working on new comedy scripts. I just finished writing a spec episode of Parks and Recreation with another super-funny writer. And I’m working on a new web series that’s budget is pretty expensive. It’s titled Unemployed Adventures of Drew and Alejandro. In this broken-down economy, Drew—a scrawny, nebbishy, Canadian—and Alejandro, his crazy, questionably ethnic roommate—have five days to make $900. They always find a way to make money, then always find a way to lose it.
For a day job, I’m working as a script analyst at Untitled Entertainment, a management company in Beverly Hills. I do script coverage and random office tasks. I’m taking writing classes and performing improv to always learn more and be in an atmosphere of growth.
Matt and I are also working on new episodes of Orville Vs. Pedro. We spontaneously brainstorm new ideas and will shooting more next week. My favorite ones that I want to film soon are titled “Humanitarian,” “Apology,” “Who Can Be More Puerto Rican?” and “Homeless.”
For some great live comedy in Buffalo though, I recommend Domino Effect Extravaganza at Road Less Traveled Productions.
My good friend, Dan Morris, runs this hilarious show and we performed together on FNL, another stellar show that’s FREE to the public every Friday night at Buffalo State College when school is in session.
I will now respond to this simple question as long-windedly as possible. I’ve found L.A. to be plentiful in creative paths. There is a fine balance between focus and diversity here and I love/hate it. Maybe it just brings out the Gemini in me.
Last year was solid and this year is well on its way to surpassing last year already. I was the starring role in a six part web-series named Nuclear Coleslaw, a post-apocalyptic series loosely based on the video game Fallout. I was the lead of several music videos, including a really beautiful shoot for a band named Gamble House, along with a featured role in a Pendulum music video. All of these can be seen from my YouTube channel (If you really love Buffalo, you will subscribe to me! If you don’t subscribe, that means you love the Miami Dolphins. Just sayin’.)
I completed a small roll in the film Argo, starring and directed by Ben Affleck, due out sometime next year. I am almost wrapped as the lead of a horror film entitled The Locals, a 1980’s found footage film about a famous horror director who takes his cast and crew to a notoriously dangerous location to film his next big hit. That will be coming out in Redbox sometime over the next year, along with another found footage film 051: Confidential. I have a really fun role, playing Matthew Lyons, alien expert. Keep your eyes open for that in Redbox sometime over the next several months, as well.
I also continue to fly back to Buffalo for Nicholas of Myra. It’s the true story of Saint Nicholas (Santa Claus). I play the lead antagonist. Not sure when it wraps but the dailies look great. I ride a white horse and wear authentic clothing.
I’m in talks for several projects to shoot throughout the course of the remainder of the year, along with several projects that I have been working on in various capacities. But while I work on that process—Hollywood has too much “hurry up and wait” for my liking. I swear, a New Yorker could have had it done in a week!—to combat the Hollywood pace, I have been dedicating my sleep time to creating an organic espresso catering company. I am quite proud of it. We have been tailoring elite quality hot, iced and blended espresso-based drinks with only the finest ingredients. Our caramel sauce and all of our flavored syrups are made from scratch and are farm to table. Everything is recyclable, reusable or renewable. We have beautiful equipment and our bar was created by a local artisan. We have been getting rave reviews and are currently in talks with several studios and local businesses. Check out our five-star rating on Yelp and, in the near future, we will launch http://www.consciousbean.com.
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Thanks so much for the interview. Really great to share the Buffalove. Looking forward to the next. LET"S GO BUFF-A-LO!!!
Photo from YouTube.