Angie Azur is a YA Sci-fi Writer.
Writer for PALEO Magazine.
Former Intern at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
SCBWI & COWG Member.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Interview with Writer/Director/Producer and Founder of MADIGAN FILMS: Tom Madigan


I met Tom at Writer's Boot Camp, Santa Monica. Cute, witty, and engaging I paid attention to his creative ideas. He has a lot of them and you can check them out at www.madiganfilms.com

Tom's a funny guy. I'm sure you'll agree after reading this interview. With his perseverance and attitude we will soon be seeing his comic-horror films in theaters. 

And if you'd like an opportunity to see your name as executive producer, Tom is willing to negotiate those terms (see below). 

Read on for interesting answers to some great questions:

1.    What's your favorite movie to shoot?

I like comedy-horror, not slasher stuff.  I prefer something over-the-top, but with something at stake for characters other than their emotional well-being.  And I never liked it when the hot girl was killed.

2.    In 5 words describe your feelings behind the camera.

Having Sexy Fun Times, Yes.

3.    You describe DEAD DOORNAILS as a cult classic: what does that mean?

It means that as soon as people see this movie (more than the thirteen who already have, mostly cast and crew) it will have a special place in their hearts! Man, we made that movie for $2,500.  And it’s freakin’ watchable!  Nobody else in Hollywood can do that.

4.    What's the strangest audition you've seen?

A man came in and I thought he had just killed someone.  Sweaty forehead, raspy voice, glassy eyes, nervous twitch.  If I thought he was only acting I would have cast him.  But it was just too real.  I was pissed he knew where I lived too, bc I had my auditions in my dining room.

5.    Do you currently have any celebs attached to a script or movie idea?

In my mind, Jim Carrey is going to star in a really timely thriller I have going.  Mr. Carrey, you wanna turn Hollywood on its ear with me?  

Also, I had a really famous adult film star who wanted to do my comedy-horror movie, but for some reason she disappeared.  Probably drugs.  

Don’t do drugs.  It will kill your chances of working with Tom Madigan.  And Tom Madigan will be working with Jim Carrey.

6.    Who would be your number one writer, actor, and producer to work with?

In no particular order: Stanley Kubrick , Jim Carrey, Sigourney Weaver, The Cohen Bros., Ridley Scott,  Paul Thomas Anderson, Daniel Day-Lewis and Blake Lively.

7.    Why horror? Do you have nightmares? Do you have an evil mind?

Comedy-Horror (thanks mom!).  Besides that, horror movies done right can be incredibly entertaining and empowering.  Yes, I used to have nightmares.  One was a recurring werewolf.  Until someone told me I could control my dreams.  Then I killed that sombitch werewolf with a whip.  I strangled the bastard at age four and he never came back.  

Then I convinced my friends in first grade that I was a werewolf.

8.    What type of fake blood do you use? Does it stain? Smell?

Corn syrup and food coloring is what I make meself, unless I hire someone to make it, then I don’t know.  Mine stains clothes but washes outta skin after a few days.

9.    I see zombies and vamps on your website. Where are the werewolves? Anything in the pipeline for other celebrated monsters?

You THINK you see zombies.  I have a werewolf project coming down the pipe too.  And also that’s a role I’d love to play.

10.    Have you worked with anyone from Writer's Boot Camp? If yes, on which project? If no, anyone you'd like to work with?

Sci-Fi guru Mary Lissone and I shot a spec commercial for the iPad together.  

And if I were ever hired to write a romantic comedy, and it would be awesome as all hell, I think I’d enjoy doing a re-write with Jason G.  Then again, he might not put up with me trying to have a vampire fly in the background during a very sensitive scene (and stumble as he landed).  But that movie would effin' sell.

11.    What one word describes you?

Loveabledictator.

12.    Where do you get the money for project budgets? Do you raise it yourself? Get loans? Or are you super rich?

I am super rich, but I wasn’t always.  I took my bank accounts down to zero more than once funding my own movies.  But you and I and everyone else will soon be dead, so I’d rather have a movie or two made before I go.

13.    What is the most creative way you've gotten someone famous (actor or director) to watch your reel?

I can be very intimidating.

14.    Do you reuse actors you've cast in other roles?

Yes, if we get along.  I like working with good people, but it’s mostly personality that I care about.  Acting ability comes second.

15.    What is the funniest thing that ever happened on set?

As far as “I didn’t see that coming?”  Hmmmmm.  One time I pulled off my pants and directed a scene in my undies because some actors weren’t getting along.  I thought it would ease the tension.  

Another time, another movie, a homeless guy kept interrupting while we were shooting.  He had a technical question about the audio.

16.    Does your family support your creative career choice?

They aren’t unsupportive.

17.    How would you describe your director's voice?

Definite.

18.    What's the best shot during a murder scene?

It’s what you don’t see that is truly terrifying.

19.    How can my blog readers help you to become an even bigger success?

Send me love and good vibes.  And if you’d like to buy a DVD let me know.  A huge help would to make our online shorts viral videos.  SPREAD THE WORD!  (How does “She Thinks She Sees Zombies” not have 400 million hits by now?  It’s amazing.)


And if you’d like to help fund my next movie, or know Jim Carrey, I’d love to have you as an executive producer. 

20.    What's your favorite horror pic?

There are so many good ones.  Including: The Shining (Kubrick’s!) and Psycho (Hitchcock’s!).  The Exorcist is also amazing, albeit a Catholic, fear-mongering, anti-sex propaganda machine.  It’s a really well done propaganda machine.  I also love the original Nosferatu.  And the first two Alien movies are masterpieces.   And I really wish I would have thought of The Blair Witch Project.

21.    What are you afraid of?

Living in an apartment.

22.    If you could choose, how would you like to die? Drowning? Fire? Shark attack? Other?

Peacefully in my sleep, or saving someone’s life.

23.    What are your favorite industry terms? Action! That's a wrap. Others?

In the words of Bela Lugosi, “Let’s shoot this fucker!”

Friday, October 14, 2011

Interview with Author: Bettina R. Flores


I met Bettina through her daughter, Marisol. Mari and I have young boys and we both recently moved to Mill Valley. We kind of fell in friendship love the first time we met. Of course she asked me what I did, and I said, I write. She quickly put her mother, Bettina, and I in touch.

Bettina amazed me the first time we spoke. I am a newbie writer, hoping to get my first novel published. Bettina has 5 books out (Chiquita's Cocoon, Chiquita's Diary, The Millionaire$$ Across the Street, Mujeres Millionarias, Write to 1,000,000) and one of them is translated into other languages, another is even required college reading. And yet, this highly acclaimed author took time to talk shop with me. She answered my questions, not once tiring of my over excitement or lack of confidence. She welcomed me as an equal in the world of writing and I will forever be grateful.

Bettina is BOLD, loving, kind, and gracious. She is a women on a mission. Her love of life, creativity, and people from all walks reflects in her smile. If ever you hear her speak, or attend a workshop, or book signing, don't be shy. Bettina loves her craft and will be open and honest with you too.

Below are her answers to the questions I posed:

1.  If someone said, "Chiquita's Cocoon changed my life!" What would they be referring to?

The attainment of their dreams for themselves.  
 
2. What time do you get up to start your creative day?
 I'm a 4-5am early bird, especially when I'm writing.
 
3. I once read an article that said, "White people do not see people of color, therefore they do not write them into their stories." Do you believe this is true?
For the most part, def. true. I mean, how often do you read or hear about ethnic groups in the mainstream media?
 
4. In 5 words describe your creative day.
Only five words.?  ...... write, walk, communicate,  declutter, bubble-bath.
 
5. How many rejections did you get before Chiquita's Cocoon was published?
Nearly 100 or more. Funny thing, a publisher who rejected Chiquita, later offered me a six figure contract.  
 
6.  What made you want to write that story?
No choice. ....a compulsion.
 
7. Where does your inner strength come from?
 Adversity and hard work as a migrant worker: picking grapes, cotton, tomates, etc.
 
8.  How did you discover your true writer's voice?
From my English teacher at Fresno City College.  I attempted to write like Hemingway during a class exercise; she whispered in my ear, "You're a good writer. Use your own voice."   
 
9. What one word best describes you?
BOLD!
 
10.  Do you believe that the world of writing people of color is changing?
Not fast enough.
 
11. Do you like that phrase, "people of color"? Do you think, in writing, we are moving toward all just being, "people"?
No, I don't like "people of color" or using the word "minority."  Guess who gets the publishing contracts and the big advances???
 
12. Are your family members supportive of your creative career?
I hope so. Once I heard my oldest son saying to his girlfriend: "What are you talking about? Didn't you read my mother's book?"  


And back then, my kids were always asking, "Mom, what page am I on in your book?"
 
13.  Where did your characters come from?
I believe characters come from many places-- our own lives, our imaginations, books, television, plays, radio, walks in nature like Muir woods and those grand old "Classic" funny mags. 


 I also remember going to the Mexican "sho" (show) with my Mama and coming out mesmerized by the entertainment. 


A big movie for me was the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II back in the '50s (I think.)  My favorite book, which I read at least ten times--Gone With the Wind..............
 
14. What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you lately?
 I hit a parked car of all places....at the library where I volunteer.  Ai!!
 
15. Who is your biggest role model and why?
Scarlet O'Hara.  Tough, smart, beautiful and BOLD!
 
16. What are you working on now? Do you have a publishing date?

 I'm working as a book developer for several clients.  
1. Vietname Sojourn
2. The Dorothy K. Story.  


 I have two of my own works in progress, but just not ready to release my "perfect" titles. I hope to finish both by January 2012.  I also have some freelance magazine pieces going; again, I cherish keeping my subjects and titles until that magic time..........

Also, I won the "GuidePost's" mag last writing contest. 
 
17. What are your goals for the next 3 years?

I'm an idea person so who knows what I'll come up with?  Maybe I'll get one of my inventions off the ground.
 
18.Which authors influenced you during your childhood?

 As a child I read voraciously. By 12 I'd read the classics and, for me, the thicker the book the better. 


Hmmm... favorite authors:  M. Mitchell, Michener, Steinbeck, M. Mead, A. Rand, Pearl S. Buck, etc. And although I don't recall the author, the book THE CHILDREN OF SANCHEZ wins first place.


Reading now: The Help, Eat, Pray, Love and when Moneyball comes to the library, I'll check it out. I read 3-5 books a week. 


19.  When you hear that a college course requires students to read Chiquita's Cocoon – what is your first reaction?

Amazing! I had hoped to help a few women but Chiquita's Cocoon helped tens of thousands. My cup runneth over. Y que viva la raza.
 
20. How can my blog readers help you become an even bigger success?

Pass the word around: Chiquita's Cocoon is still alive. 


There are copies of it on Amazon for $200.  Why do people insist on ripping  their own customers off and authors to boot. Ai.  Also, I'm still in the speaker's circuit.  I am my own agent, of course.


Getting on Oprah couldn't hurt - email her and tell her about my works. 
 
21.  Who is the most proud of you?

Me.
 
22.What do you keep on your writing desk – your must haves?

 Red dictionary, red thesaurus, red easy ref. speller. Red is BOLD.  Beautiful rocks of my power animals, a bat and a butterfly. And a Chinese message of Peace, Happiness, Prosperity and Longevity.  
  

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Interview with Voice Over Actor: Susan Chesler


I met Susan in LA via a close friend. Her and I hit it off pretty quickly being both creative types. She's a lovely person, sweet with a sense of humor. Kind and gentle, children are drawn to her. So it's no wonder she's the voice of Polly Pocket. And when I first heard that known voice come out of her I was blown away. 


Her demo reel proves her vast talent in this hollywood niche. I don't know how she does it, but she can sound like a baby, a child of any age, a boy and an old person. It's strange to sit across from her, knowing her real voice, and then hear this completely other voice come out of her mouth. She has a jaw-dropping ability!


She's a wonderfully, multi-talented, giving person. And you'd be lucky to call her friend...I am.  


Below are the questions I asked her:


1.    How did you first get noticed for your voice? 
I was acting, but doing massage to pay my bills.  Little did I know that I was working on the president and CEO of a major kids' network, whom I was helping with some physical ailments.  


She said to me, "You have a unique voice.  Have you ever thought about doing voice overs?"  That moment changed my life.  I had always thought about it, but hadn't acted on it.  


I took my first class in a hurry as she gave me my first job.  In that class, I discovered that I could do kids' voices, which is one of my strong suits.


2.    Have you always lived in LA? 
Yes, except when I was in college.


3.    In 5 words, describe a typical recording day. 
Fulfilling. Grateful. Sometimes nerve wracking.


4.    How supportive are your friends and family in your creative career? 
Extremely.


5.    Have you ever done on screen acting? If no, would you like to? 
 I thought that is what I wanted to do, but I was never happy, focused or confident when I was trying.


6.    Who is your favorite coach/teacher? Why? 
Susan Blu as she encouraged my to risk and flail in her class. She discovered my knack for kids's characters and she helped me get going with my career. 


Ginny McSwain for her straight forward direction.  


Charlie Adler for helping me to rediscover my talent and for saying, "You are meant to be in this business." 


Cathy Kalmenson, who taught me two basic things that I use in every commercial audition.


7.    How many voices do you have in your arsenal?  
Hmmm...maybe 20 or 25?  Don't know.  If I were organized, I would have them all on index cards.


8.    Do you physically act out a part while you are recording? 
Yes!  As we have to get our character across only through our voice, I find that being physical is the only way to be.


9.    Do you hope your children follow your example?  
I don't have a career goal for my kids, other than my deep hope that they find their passion and follow it.


10.    How do you keep your voice in tip-top condition? 
I absolutely must start taking care of my voice.  I am about to read Roger Love's book.


11.    What is your favorite commercial you've done?  
Polly Pocket!  The funniest one was when I booked a job on a two word audition:  "Hey, Chuck."  Now, that was plain old luck.


12.    Who is your favorite actor? Who would you most like to work with? 
Don't have a favorite actor, but there are tons of people I would most like to work with:  Tim Curry and my friend Richard Horvitz are two of them.


13.    Tea or coffee?  
I really want to be a tea person, but coffee still wins out most days.  


14.    Does an agent represent you? 
Yes.  They have been supportive of me through ups and downs.  But, the post production voice work that I do (called ADR) does not require an agent and this is where I have been making much of my living lately.


15.    What are your creative goals for the next year? 
To work on my animation skills, especially my audition skills.  Also, to work out my voice.  And, I am wayyyy overdue in updating my demo-- it is embarasingly old.


16.    Give us one word that describes you. 
Heart-felt


17.    What are some insider terms when recording? Any funny ones like break a leg? Or break a voice?  
From ADR:  My favorites are "donut" and "mushroom."


donut:  we walk in a circle in front of the microphone. Sometimes we speak only when in the front of the "donut" and sometimes we speak the entire time.  This technique is used in certain circumstances to create a busy sound, for instance on a city street.


mushrooms: are similar, but people walk to the mic and then split off, either to the left or right.


18.    How often do you work out your voice? Your body? 
I wish, wish, wish that I could say that I work out my voice regularly.  Now that my youngest child is in kindergarten, my commitment to body and voice are priorities.  


19. How can my blog readers help make you an even bigger success?
 Wow, such a thoughtful question!  They can go to the Polly Pocket website  and let them know they want more of me.  And, next time I book animation (praying that will be soon), maybe I can let you know and they can write in that they liked my work-- if they did in fact like my work.


20.    What is a voice over demo tape? And do you think it's necessary to get a job in this industry? 
A demo, which seems to mostly be heard through websites or sent by email these days, seems to be necessary for commercials, promos and animation.  


Monday, October 10, 2011

Interview Student Film Maker: Darren Lee


Full disclosure: Darren is my brother. I've known him all of his life yet, he surprises me often. He is an open person. He will talk about everything from rap videos to why we are here on this planet. 


Darren has a unique voice and he will be heard. He is passionate about creativity. His point of view comes through loud and clear in his writing and movies. 


He's a stand up guy, a gentlemen among the ignorant. (I may be a bit biased, but he's awesome!) He believes in himself, no matter what. No matter the economy, nay-sayers, or peer pressure. He is true to his goals. 


Watch out Hollywood. Darren graduates this year and is gunning for you. Good luck Bro! I'm waiting and hoping, wishing you all the best. Oh, and when you do make it big, I got a couple of scripts I want you to look at. 


Below are the questions I asked this young film maker student. 


1.    As a student, you are subject to many genres during studies, what is your favorite and why?
      Yeah, as a film/video student at Penn State we're subjected to all major types of film and filming styles. We get to make documentaries, narratives, and experimental films. In the narrative style alone we can choose what genre we want to try to make from horror and drama to animations and action films.

2.    Are your family members supportive of your creative career choice?
      Well I got the type of family that have always told me I'm the best at whatever I do. So I would say yeah, all of my family members are very supportive of my career choice.  They know that it's gonna be a long and tough road, as do I, and they give me the backup and support thats gonna help push me to succeed.

3.    In 5 words describe your typical creative day.
      Inspiration can come from anywhere!

4.    If you were to produce a film now, would it be drama, comedy, action, adventure, or romance?
      I am getting a film together right now, and it is actually a horror film. Can't give too much away but it deals with mirrors, hidden cameras and demons.

5.    What word describes you best?
              Spontaneous.

6.    When do you get up in the morning and what do you eat for breakfast?
               I get up in the morning usually an hour before my first class whether thats 8am on M
ondays, Wednesdays and Fridays or 12 noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Thats usually because I am up late nights in to the early morning either thinking or working.

7.    What is the degree you will graduate with and why did you choose it?
               I am going to graduate with a Bachelors in Communications in the field of  Film/Video Production. I chose the degree because I love all of the things that go into making a piece of art such as a movie or television show. The creative edge, the eye for shots and lighting, and the ability to tell a story that takes an audience of your work on a ride.

8.    What is your goal for the next 3 years?
                First, move out to San Diego, then to make a music video that does well enough to get noticed, and also to work on a large scale film or make a small budget film myself.

9.    Where do you see yourself being your most creative, TV, Videos or Movies?
                 Music Videos. I think I'll be most creative in that area because it mixes my love of music with my passion for film. Later on I hope to progress to television or movies.

10.    What is more fun, directing, writing, producing, acting and why?
                The most fun I have had in school this far has been acting. To play out the crazy story lines and assume the rolls we come up with in college has been a blast but for my future work I hope to be in the producing/directing end of the spectrum.

11.    What is you favorite all time TV show? Movie?
                My favorite all time TV show is the minnie series Lost. It is absolutely amazing from a film and story perspective. My favorite movie is The Shawshank Redemption directed by Frank Darabont.

12.    What is the most exciting thing that has happened to you since you chose filmmaking as a goal?
                I have been an extra in a few films including Abduction that just was released this past week and I Am Number Four that came out a few months ago.

13.    What is the latest project you are working on?
                I am working on a bunch of school projects. One is a producing project where we have to take a script, break it down and come up with a shooting schedule and budget. The other is a short film that I'm in a team with other seniors and it is a horror flick.

14.    How do you come up with titles for your work?
                My titles come and go and change faster then any part of my work. As long as the story is all there and the filming is done well the title will eventually come as an epiphany.

15.    Do you have a resume? If so, can you recommend a template for other students in your field?
                I am building mine right now, and I realized that for film majors, its not really about an organized template, its more about what creative work can you show that you have done and what you have worked on. Experience is the best teacher in the field in my opinion.

16.    In 5 words describe your perfect job after graduation.
                 Director for Wiz Khalifa's music video. (6 Darren, but I'll let it slide.)

17.    What is the industry like in Pittsburgh PA? Union? Non-Union? Open? Closed?
                 I really don't know. I know that there is Union and Non-union everywhere you go but I'm not sure about Pittsburgh. It's not where I'm planning to base out of anyway.

18.    If you choose to move, where is your first choice? Second? Third?
                My first choice is San Diego and second is Los Angelos. My third choice if I could would be Australia, and I will either live or visit there once in my life, at the least.

19.    Who do you admire in your industry and why?
                  Christopher Nolan, because all of his films that I have seen have captured my interest and have held onto it until the ending second of the last scene. Thats an inspiration and a goal to obtain one day.

20.    What was the most interesting class you've taken toward your degree?
                 My Camera Tech class. It is a class where we watch a scene from a famous film in the beginning of class and for the rest of the class we work as a crew to remake the scene as close to the one in the film as possible. We've learned a lot about lighting, sound, camera movements and camera functions, along with other technicals that go along with creating a film.

21.    When you're behind the camera, what are you thinking?
                  By the time I am actually behind the camera after all of the pre-production work, I am thinking this better look exactly how I pictured it in my head, and if it isn't then changes must be made.

22.    How can my blog readers help you with achieving your career goals?
                   If your blog readers are trying to get a script looked at and put into production, or have a song or piece of music they would like to see a music video for they could email me and we can talk. If anyone is interested in joining and helping my small but growing production team, we are always looking for people, we're not big yet....yet. (You can find him on FaceBook)
 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Interview with Poet/Actor: Sam Spade


I met Sam at Writer's Boot Camp, Santa Monica. His honest eyes and goofy grin made me smile. 


Sam and I sat next to each other for almost two years. We bounced script ideas, character quirks, and zombie scenes off of each other. (His zombie scenes - which I am waiting to see on the big screen because his idea is so new, so unique...) I learned a lot about Sam during that time of discovery for both of us. 


Sam, once married, now divorced, is still such good friends with his X that they met my husband and I for a double date. He supports himself appraising homes, but feeds his soul with poetry. He's easy going, loves life, and is thankful for the little joys most take for granted. 


While taking writing classes, Sam started going to a small acting class and invited me along. He was amazing, a natural in front of the camera. Since then, his acting has taken off. He has been in many small theatre productions, and landed some amazing commercials along with minor movie roles. Go Sam!


Sam has a gentle soul that spews pure honesty. His poetry touches thousands of Facebook friends. Fear flees when his pen touches paper, and people respond. His bravery translates to live audiences as well. He's funny. He's pure. He's Sam I am. 


Quote from Sam about this interview, "I think your questions moved my POV back to a time before I knew."

1.    You are a person with many creative hats – which one do you wear often?   
Poet hat is the hat that can feel the world whisper, gifting me the abilities to write and act. 

2.    What is your experience in the field of professional acting?
Limited so far, I have been in a few movies now, minor roles.  But just to be able to say that, I have been in a few movies now is soooo coool.

3.    What is your best quality as an actor?
Being a poet.  I feel the other person and can directly react off of their emotions. It makes it seem as if the audience has stumbled upon something they should not have. Something private. 

4.    How does acting help you with writing? 
I will act out the scene I am writing and just follow, writing and typing as fast as I can hoping to capture the "moments" that Brando coveted.  Writing is best when done from that place in the heart, from the body.  It can be exhausting, and at times shocking because I was not expecting my character to do what they did, in the "moment."


5.    Do you have weak points as a writer? 
Self doubt. Second guessing. The only cure for this is to write through it. 

6.    When you compose a poem, do you think of a specific person? Place?
It depends on the poem.  If it is about or for the person yes.  If it is about a scene, I like to write a poem about a scene before I write the scene, so...yeah even then it is about a specific person and place. Maybe not real, but absolutely specific. I do the same with the acting.  I will compose a little poem from the script about the scene, so that it becomes "real".
  

7.    What time do you eat breakfast in the morning? What do you eat?
My natural clock is 5 am. I am still and ole farm boy having to feed the cows.  I like grape nuts and a protein drink.

8.    Please describe a typical creative writing day in 5 words.
It becomes my total focus. 


9.    Who is your favorite poet? Actor? Writer?
Sounds narcissistic, my favorite poet and writer is me...


...because I can write and make up stories that please and move me.  When I am feeling the emotion I know my audience will feel the emotion, when I am truly crying or laughing at the keyboard.  


In Acting I like  Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Micky Rourke, Robert Downey Jr, George Clooney, people people always say he looks a lot like me.

10. What makes you believe in your work and keeps you on track?
How it moves me, my poetry is spot on.  Script writing is almost there. I can write a scene  that moves me like a poem now, almost at that point with the whole script. 
...It is something I must do. 


11. How can you help Sam achieve his creative goals?
Friend him on FB at www.facebook.com/spadesamspade
He sends out original poetry there and announces his next acting gigs.