Monday, April 30, 2012

Ask the Genius: John Estrada

See this movie.
After a bit of a layoff, I'm proud to announce the return of "Ask the Genius." The idea of ATG is to ask people in the know about stuff they know.  Today's edition is with John Estrada.  John shares his thoughts on producing his first feature film, the
sci-fi thriller

For more information about buying the movie, check out the website or email  A copy of the trailer is at the end of the post.

Initially this film was part of a slate of projects I pitched to several studios/financiers/production companies with the “hook” being these films would target the growing Hispanic movie going audience.  It was a "pass" from all whom we approached, primarily because we were unproven filmmakers with no track record of commercial success and none of our film projects had any recognizable cast attachments (e.g., Olmos, Smits, Leguizamo).  Finally, after getting a pass from Roger Corman’s company, we decided to stop searching and make it ourselves.

We decided to self-finance this film. Financing was jumpstarted by one of the creative players, the film's co-director.  An actor already committed to star in the movie also offered to invest some money too and later earned a co-producer credit by taking on some additional duties.  In the end, all three creative players responsible for making this film each contributed money to fund the making of this film.

Script development took about one year from the first time I heard the idea, to shaping a storyline and to creating characters that we really liked.  Once we decided we were going to make this film ourselves, casting took about two months.  Staffing fell into a similar time frame, though it was much more difficult getting reliable crew since we had no money to pay them.  Shooting the film took about two years, spread out over many weekends (since all of us had full-time jobs).

One of the biggest challenges was the scheduling and organizing of the production schedule.  In combination with that was securing locations that provided production value at an inexpensive rate.  Both situations worked hand in hand because not having a location to shoot meant our schedule would be extended by one to three weeks.  This in turn affected availability of actors and crew, but this came as no surprise.

There were two major take aways:
  1. Have a clear understanding of who the market/audience is for the film.  
  2. Create and maintain a shared vision by the key creative players of what the film is and what it can be. 

We are currently targeting the “friends and family” network to drive sales.  Simultaneously, we are utilizing the power of social networking to create fans of the film, and drive visits to the website.  Our core audience is Hispanics, so we are compiling websites and portals where we can generate buzz, including focusing our efforts in California, Arizona and Texas, where the biggest demographics reside. Since we are a sci-fi film as well, we are researching sites and venues that can play a role in building awareness.  The objective is to keep things simple, build awareness, and drive sales.

As of today, we are fully exploiting our film via DIY Distribution utilizing Create Space via – both DVD and VOD.  We have just completed our website that features our newest trailer and has direct links to both options for folks who want to purchase our film (via DVD or VOD).

Working with the people I did in making GB2525 was one of the greatest experiences in my life.  I believe we made the best film to our capabilities, considering the severe lack of resources and money. All of the lessons I learned while making this picture, great and small, were incredibly valuable to me, and serve as a personal archive for me to review for future projects.  Creativity, vision, passion, persistence, and salesmanship are the required fundamentals for independent filmmakers.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Happy Anniversary to Nikki and the Chipmunks

Today marks the two-year anniversary of one of my favorite Nikki Finke-isms - headline but no article. The suspense is killing me.  Check it out for yourself.  

Monday, April 23, 2012

The most wonderful time of the year

Not Dog X.
Happy Administrative Professionals Week.  If you're reading this right now, you're probably thinking, "I pray to any holy deity (or Eric Clapton) that this is the last time this statement applies to me."  Aren't we all?

Some employers like to use this celebration of administrative types as chance to do some role playing (not the kinky sex kind, unless you're in to that).  So you might get a chance to swap out positions with your boss for a just a few minutes.  This way you get to see a future you'll never have while your boss quietly wonders why he agreed to this ridiculous activity.  The folks at the Hollywood Temp Diaries suggest you take full advantage of this opportunity in the following ways: 

Have your boss get you coffee: As you're now the boss, tell your "assistant" to make a Starbucks run for you.  When he comes back with the venti, sugar free, non-fat, no-foam, extra caramel macchiato you ordered, tell him to take it back because it's cold.  If the coffee is still scalding hot, just throw it at your "assistant" and say, "Iced coffee!  Between April 1 and September 30, it's always iced coffee!!"  Watch and chuckle as he endures second-degree burns.

Call me Maggie Gyllenhaal.
Roll calls to your friends and other people not related to work:  This accomplishes two separate and distinct purposes: 1) it shows your boss that dialing the phone is so easy, even she can do it, and 2) it shows your boss that she wastes a shitload of time on personal stuff and every time she does, it keeps you from doing your actual job.

Introduce them to the multi-function photocopier: The bane of your existence will now be the bane of your "assistant's."  Give her a stack of scripts, receipts and invoices that are bradded, paperclipped and stapled (respectively) and say you need three copies of each.  If the undoing and re-doing of the binding doesn't get to her, then the inevitable paper jam will.  And if that doesn't drive her bat shit crazy, throw everything out and tell her to do it again...double sided.  Remember, we're running a "green" company here.

L'art poor art.
A closed-office meeting:  Express your disappointment because your "assistant" isn't as chipper as you want him to be.  Heck, you could have a new person in here starting in 10 minutes who would be grateful for the opportunity to perform the preceding tasks while making $10.50/hr.  And that person would do it with a smile, Goddammit!  When your "assistant" inevitably explains (quite unconvincingly) how much he loves his job, tell him it's too late.  You've already found a replacement who is better looking and has a cuter butt.  That's right, fire 'em.

And that's how you celebrate Administrative Professionals Week.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

THE MOST IMPORTANT NEWS IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND EVER (or at least according to Darling Nikki)

You're probably wondering why I haven't made fun of Nikki Finke in a while.  The truth is, I stopped caring about her site.  She doesn't do anything different or better than THR, Variety or The Wrap.  In fact, with the exception of the periodic (and needless) use of first person in an article, you'd never know the difference between any of these publications.  But then this little gem comes in courtesy of one of my fans - a breaking news item that will quickly send Hollywood running for the 405. 

Nikki is on vacation!

To quote my favorite TV show Archer, "HOLY SHIT SNACKS!"

In the delusional and self-important world of one Nikki Tiberius Finke (and yes, that's her middle name), this is the most significant news since the famed Culver City traffic jam that never was caused by her show that never will be.

If you think I'm kidding...

WARNING: Breaking news will ruin the screen on your iPhone 4S.

Friday, April 13, 2012

"Here comes a Job" - A song parody for the times

Not Hasidic
I know there are some of you out there who hate when I write song parodies.  So if you're one of these people, this is probably the day you want to avert your gaze or read some other, less interesting, blog.  But for those of you who enjoy them as much as I do, I have a special treat for you today.

While it's a meaningless fact, I share the same birthday as the late George Harrison (also Carrot Top and Jim Backus, but that's less relevant).  So inspired by his musical deftness, I've written another song for you to enjoy.  It's called "Here comes a Job" to the tune of "Here comes the Sun."

All you need to do now is click on the play button for musical accompaniment and sing along.

Lyrics by Temp X
Music by George Harrison

Here comes a job
Here comes a job, and I say
Just kidding

Unemployment, my benefits are running out
Unemployment, my rent is eight, no, nine days past due
Here comes a job
Here comes a job, and I say
Just kidding

Unemployment, the jobless rate is 10 percent
Unemployment, it seems like years since I've had work
Here comes a job
Here comes a job, and I say
Just kidding

Job, job, job, hire me
Job, job, job, food ain't free
Job, job, job, woe is me
Job, job, job, EDD
Job, job, job, hire me

Unemployment, will an Obama second term help?
Unemployment, it's almost noon I'm still in bed
Here comes a job
Here comes a job, and I say
Just kidding

Here comes a job
Here comes a job
Just kidding
It's not right

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I'm four years old

Guess which favorite website of yours turns four today?  If you guessed me, you're smart.  If not, I'll give you a second chance.

Keep on kissing ass.  It's bound to get you somewhere in this town.  It totally worked for me.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ask Fake Ari Emanuel

You wish you were me.
Welcome to another edition of Ask Fake Ari Emanuel.*  Fake Ari will answer all of your questions because he's made it to the second highest level of Hollywood -- WME2.  And who knows? One of these days CAA might just hire him as a floater.  If you have any questions for Fake Ari, please send them to

*Any similarity to any person living or dead is merely coincidental.  No animals were harmed during the writing of this posting.  Please don't sue me.

ANONYMOUS READER ASKS: I am currently a senior at Ohio State and am graduating in June. Needless to say I will be applying for jobs soon and was curious if you believe it is overkill to send a cover letter when one is not requested, or is it assumed when one would send a resume.

Buenos Dias.
FAKE ARI EMANUEL RESPONDS: Oh to be young and stupid again.  Actually, to be honest, I was young, but never quite this stupid.  I'm sure it's a bit disorienting.  You probably wake up in the morning and wonder which shoe goes on which foot - this despite the fact that they are labeled "Left" and "The Other One."

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the only experience you have is an internship (at best) and, more likely, only as a waiter at Hang Over Easy on Neil Ave.  So in reality you have nothing.  This means you need to do your damnedest to convince HR that your "can-do" attitude is good for doing something other than serving up the offensively-named "Dirty Sanchez" - scrambled eggs, chorizo, hoe fries (keeping it classy) and cheddar cheese wrapped in a soft flour tortilla and smothered in (even more) cheddar cheese, salsa and sour cream.  A well-crafted cover letter might just help.

Just make sure there are no typos in your note.  And don't be so pretentious as to write The Ohio State University.  You and I both know OSU is still only the fifth-best school in the Big Ten regardless of how many definite articles you use.

Just look for this.
ANONYMOUS READER ASKS: I'm a Canadian who lives in Canada right now, and have had little success getting responses to my applications. I feel my background's pretty strong. More importantly, I'm passionate about film, have some experience in writing and making short flicks, and I feel my cover letters are fairly strong as well.

Is it possible that I'm not getting responses since I'm not a U.S citizen?

FAKE ARI EMANUEL RESPONDS: Duh and duh. While the Canadian unemployment rate is 7.2 percent, the jobless rate in California is 10.9 percent. And don't get me started on the whole H1-B visa process.  I don't care how nice your resume is, you stand a better chance of finding the God particle with a magnifying glass and a pair of tweezers than you do finding a job in Hollywood. [Note: Despite what you might think, the God particle isn't named after me, although it should be.]

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Coming soon to a theater near you?

Eddie Murphy = Funny?
Hollywood is so risk averse that they've - and this is not a joke - decided to make sequel to the 1988 Danny DeVito/Arnold Schwarzenegger film Twins and call it Triplets.  The execs at Universal, who have clearly lost their collective minds, are adding Eddie Murphy as the long-lost brother to a movie that will win the 2014 Razzies for Worst Film, Worst Actor (tie between Murphy and Schwarzenegger) and Worst Screenplay.  Kelly Preston is a little long in the tooth to come back as Marnie Mason.  So the Worst Actress nominee, but not winner, will go to Olivia Munn for her role as Laura Lau, the love interest.

So it the spirit of needless sequels, the folks at the Hollywood Temp Diaries have put together a list of other brainless films we'd like to see.  [Note: If any of these get made, I want 10 percent of the gross.]

$74.99 on eBay

Titanic Two: A chip off the old block - Seventeen years after the fabled boat sinks, Rose is happily married with two children living in a remote town in Northern Idaho.  Things get confusing when a lobster fisherman outside of Winter Harbor, Maine comes across a giant block of ice which contains the cryogenically frozen body of Jack Dawson.  When they thaw him out, it becomes an international sensation.  When the news ultimately reaches Rose, it becomes love triangle she never expected.  Meanwhile Cal Hockley tracks down Jack because he needs Le Cœur de la Mer to cover his stock market losses.  Cal is convinced that Jack can lead him to Rose and, ultimately, the the priceless diamond. 

I'm on the phone
Dr. Strangelover or: How come only one of us has a uterus? - The bombs went off all over everywhere thanks to a busted radio and an overeager Major Kong.  But in an ultimate bit of irony, the only people who were saved from the nuclear holocaust were the people in the war room and Miss Scott, who was en route to see General Turgidson when the bombing began.  The sequel focuses on the challenges of starting a new society with only one woman in a room full of aesthetically, intellectually and emotionally repulsive men.

Skeet surfing?
Surf and Fight: Apocalypse Now Re-Redux - Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore is still pissed that Captain Willard stole his surfboard, so he follows him up river.  Meanwhile, Willard realizes that it's not such a bad thing being seen "a God," and he takes over for Kurtz.  The film ends with Kilgore and Willard battling it out for long-board superiority and control of the village 75 klicks above the Do Lung Bridge.  Kelly Slater guest stars.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

"My life in Hollywood sucks" -- April calendar

Think your experience in Tinseltown is worse than everyone else's? Tell me how on the "My Life In Hollywood Sucks Because..." entry. Your tale of woe might just make it to the monthly calendar.

P.S. Sorry about thinking that March is only 30 days.  I probably should know that by now.