SHOCKBOX TV is Here (Almost!)

Hey Everybody!

The time is NOW to unveil my newest entertainment project, my most ambitious undertaking to date and my biggest call-to-action ever!  SHOCKBOX is a new, cutting-edge comedy web series for which I’m the creator, head writer and executive producer. The show is about two guys, ALEX and CHAD, who run an independent music web talk show out of their apartment in Santa Monica, California.  Alex is a kind-hearted, sometimes-naïve Southern Boy with dreams of stardom and a taste for good whiskey. Chad is a boisterous, girl-chasing Trust Fund Baby with a soft underbelly and a knack for getting in trouble. Together with their hodge-podge of friends, these two put on ROCK YER FACE, a weekly web talk show that features the latest from independent music/film… but ratings seem to SOAR when CRAZY stuff happens on the air.

The show is when “Wayne’s World” seduces “30 Rock” with a torrid night of Boones Farm Strawberry Wine and old Rod Stewart CDs—and their love child is SHOCKBOX.  The show-within-a-show, ROCK YER FACE, will feature parody commercials and real musical guests, as well as a few surprises I can’t talk about yet! Let’s just say we call it SHOCKBOX  because the comedy will shock you senseless and will be available on all your entertainment “boxes”, including laptops, smartphones and ipads.

The series will also break new ground as camera, cast and crew all become characters as needed to expose the behind-the-scenes look at the making of a web talk show/real web show and the hi-jinks that ensue both on and off the air. SHOCKBOX is a never-ending party of music, comedy and the mayhem that results when crazy-talented folks get together, no holds barred. Every show will be unpredictable!

I, along with my producing partners award-winning director Matthew Prater, Amelia Yaron and Steve Broxterman, have written 24 x four-minute episodes of SHOCKBOX and are ready to shoot. We’ve launched a campaign on KickStarter to raise $24,000 in order to produce the entire 1st season of the series.  This ambitious-yet-moderate budget is the minimum needed to get SHOCKBOX on the air.  Please take a look at the promo video (below) where I and my partners talk about the SHOCKBOX concept and why we are the right team to make this a reality.  We’ve put together some awesome rewards and incentives for contributions starting as low as $1 and growing to a role as executive producer on the series. Here’s the thing: unless we raise the WHOLE $24,000 budget, nobody who contributes has to pay a single dime, so it’s critical that we reach our goal.

We’ve also begun a comprehensive outreach to independent bands from all over the country (and the world) to get SHOCKBOX awareness out, start building a fan-base and seek out musical (and otherwise crazy) guests for the show-within-a-show, ROCK YER FACE—just one of the opportunities for bands to get their music heard. Even if you can’t spare a contribution right now, you can still HELP by getting the word out, telling your friends about this crazy new series and linking to our KickStarter site to find out more.  Forward the link to any unsigned bands you know, too! Thank you all for the support over the years; I really am excited and happy about working on SHOCKBOX and hope it’s the Next Big Thing.

All-New Animation Project: “Secret Code Word”!

Josh and Steve’s Studio Setup

I have some really exciting news! I am working on my first ANIMATED SHORT, and it’s a really cool set-up, too! My longtime friend and colleague, Stephen Toback, is a highly experienced animator and content creator (and musician too, I might add.) His 14-year-old son Joshua is an accomplished filmmaker in his own right, specializing in LEGO-built sets and stop-motion animation techniques. His short SIZE MATTERS NOT (check it out, here) is a testimony to his talents and one of several this young animator has produced on his own. Here’s a link to Josh’s studio. Anyway, I contacted Steve about working on my animated short SECRET CODE WORD, a six-minute story I wrote that I’ve wanted to do forever with a cool message for kids (and adults too!) about not getting into cars with strangers. After meeting Josh (on Skype, because the Tobacks live in North Carolina) and seeing his animation work online, we all felt this would be the perfect project for a father-son collaboration with Steve directing the short and Josh developing the animation, which includes building sets entirely of LEGOs (need to find out if I need to pay a licensing fee for that!) and utilizing stop-motion photography and other effects to tell the story. It’s a cross-country, cross-generational collaboration that will take time to develop but everyone’s on board and excited about what this can look like. I’ll keep everyone posted on the progress of course, including “Behind The Scenes” photos of the sets being built (we’ll need to buy some more LEGOs I think) and how Josh and his Dad work together on this short film. It’ll definitely make an excellent festival candidate too, especially fests that specialize in work by upcoming artists (I mean Josh. I’m just a broke artist, heh.) Check out Steve’s CV here.

Just a placeholder for the “real” title treatment TBD.

Pics: “Mother’s Day” Weekend Film Shoot

"Mother's Day" Title Card

It was a FANTASTIC WEEKEND.  The Locations: a home in Pacific Palisades and a doctor’s office in Culver City.  The Actors: Derek Meeker (DAVID), Keri Blunt (VANESSA), Brendan Parry Kaufman (DR. PARKER) and Grant McLellen (ALEX.)  The Crew: lean and all pro; everyone wore about 17 hats each.  The Food:  Delicious and plentiful.  The Camera:  Sony XDCAM EX PMW-EX1 Camcorder.  Me: hellaciously sick with the flu. But I kept my mucus to myself, mostly.

Director David J. Eagle steered the ship as we filmed all day Saturday (complete with rainstorms) and most of the day Sunday.  But, we still wrapped both days ahead of time.  It was a weekend shoot I’ll never forget as I watched this production team work tirelessly to bring this short film to life.  I am SO proud of everyone who put so much passion and effort into making this thing a reality.  And I thank you all too, for reading this post and letting me express my appreciation.

Moore’s “Hours Before Dawn” Production Stills & Synopsis

Hey all,
Today I have something really special to post. ‘Member back in December when I told you Joel David Moore (Avatar and much more) was directing my short “Hours Before Dawn”? First off, I was thrilled because Joel has been acting for years and he has feature film directing credits as well. He filmed the short with a RED ONE camera featuring the talents of cinematographer Dustin Pearlman. The characters are played by Stuart Lafferty and Jarod Einsohn, both highly accomplished actors with film and TV credits (click on their names below for details.)  I have a couple production stills a summary of the story:

Stuart Lafferty in "Hours Before Dawn"

SYNOPSIS – “Hours Before Dawn” (Moore’s version)

Teenager Max (Jarod Einsohn) has kidnapped a schoolmate, Peter (Stuart Lafferty), and has handcuffed him to a metal pole in the center of his dank, gray garage. Max, dressed in battle fatigues with a freshly-shaved head, waves a semi-automatic handgun, saying he’s not afraid to use it on either of them. He also has a digital video camera set up on a tripod, pointed at Peter and filming away.  Terrorized, Peter’s clueless to what he could have done to incite this fury–what is Max going to do to him?

Jarod Einsohn and Stuart Lafferty, "Hours Before Dawn" #2

While it seems Max’s anger is initially directed toward Peter and the handcuffed teenager truly has reason to fear for his life, Max and Peter are actually longtime friends.  Max’s plan is to keep his buddy by his side on his last night on Earth, because the next morning Max will do something terrible at school—and a lot of people are going to die. Cuffed to the pipe, Peter will be forced to stay the entire night and witness Max’s grim preparations, unburdened with feeling compelled to notify anyone who might prevent the attack. Gesturing to the video cam, Max says he’ll document the whole evening on HD video to prove that Peter’s just a “prisoner of war” with no prior knowledge of Max’s grisly plan or ability to stop it.  Pete demands answers. Max pulls out a duffle bag of weapons he’s going to bring with him to school the following morning—two shotguns and enough ammo to kill anyone he needs to. Peter is shocked as Max then unrolls a huge document across the cold concrete floor. “This,” Max proudly proclaims, “is my Masterpiece.”  It’s a hand-drawn floor plan of their high school.  Max rattles off a list of students, jabbing his finger at the floor plan at their feet, pointing to yearbook photographs pasted where his intended victims will be on the map the following morning. Max plans to mete out shotgun justice fifteen minutes into second period.  But one kid will be absent from school tomorrow—Peter, who will still be cuffed to the metal pole in the garage, eating granola bars that Max has kindly placed within mouth’s reach while Peter waits for the cops to come. In fact, Max’s bloodlust is bridled only by concern for making sure his friend isn’t caught in bloody crossfire. Peter is in awe of Max’s weapons, his heartless strategy and the macabre floor plan unrolled before him on the dirty garage floor. He also sees that Max’s bitter rage has turned him into a monster.

Jarod Einsohn and Stuart Lafferty, "Hours Before Dawn"

Peter tells Max he can’t do it alone. Max replies, “I won’t be alone. Ben will be with me.” With that, Max pulls out a cremation urn and a bottle of fine vodka. He mixes the two and swigs it down with a sly grin, “Because he is with me, and in me.” Max remembers a year ago when his younger brother, Ben, took off with some bad-attitude older guys who were outta-their-skulls drunk and crazy driving for kicks. A freak car crash later that night claimed Ben’s life, but the other boys walked away from the wreck unscathed. It isn’t fair, and Max will sacrifice himself—and as many other innocent people as necessary—in order for justice to be served.

Peter says he has to come to the school with Max and help with the rampage, “side-by-side, like assassins.” Max refuses until Peter confesses he saw Ben moments before he took a ride in the older boys’ car, watched the whole scene unfold and did nothing to stop it. If Max has to sacrifice himself to right this terrible wrong, Peter has to as well. Max can’t help but agree.

After a threat to kill Peter if ever betrayed, Max removes his friend’s handcuffs and the two plan their joint-attack with bravado. It seems Peter has fantasized a long time about doing this on his own.  He proves it by brandishing a handgun and smashing the video camera that would have proved his non-involvement in the attack. But it was all a trick. When given the chance, Peter tries to shoot Max in the foot, but the gun Max handed to him earlier has no bullets in it. Peter is certain his life is over. Gritting his teeth and grinding the handgun muzzle into Peter’s temple, Max ruthlessly sneers he’s good on his word to kill anyone who tries to prevent Ben’s revenge, especially Peter, and this murder will prove it. As Max’s finger tightens on the trigger, Peter tries to make things right with God, finally gets furious and demands Max get it over with… check out the film when it’s released to find out what happens!

Stuart Lafferty in "Hours Before Dawn"

Check This Out!

This photo appeared in this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly. The tall guy in the back with the beard is named Joel David Moore, and he’s the director of the short film I wrote called “Hours Before Dawn.”  It’s the second time this short has been produced. You can see a trailer for the first production (a film school grad’s thesis project) here. Joel’s production is a lot more professional. He filmed it using a RED ONE camera which is top-of-the-line for independent films.  He’s also an actor, co-starring in the upcoming adventure movie, “Avatar”.  If he gets some attention, hopefully he’ll talk about the short film he directed, written by me. I know he’s planning to submit it to festivals and stuff. He just filmed it last month so when I see something, I will pass it on for you to see.