Saturday, July 31, 2010

Position one...

It isn't all glamour. The past few days of shooting have taken a toll on me. I have never been athletic, and 5 years of driving cab had turned me completely into veal. This morning I was picked for more running. On the first take I felt something snap in my groin. I was expecting the heart to go first, not the groin. Repeated rehearsals and takes had reduced me to a limping flat footed straggler. A production assistant came up after a take and tapped me on the shoulder to tell me to sit it out. I guess this film isn't a comedy.

I limped back to extra holding holding my left nut.  Shame, that one was always my favorite. Having to walk up a flight of stairs to get to holding, I was afraid "Lefty" was going to fall off, drop out of my shorts and roll down the steps. Awkward moment for sure. About the time I managed to find a position in a hard plastic chair that didn't add to the pain, they broke us for us for lunch.

Walking back to set after lunch a group of us crossed Poydras Ave. I heard my name being called, I ignored to first two Erics since there were a few on set. Mid street I turned around to see my landlady sitting at a red light snapping my picture. She had been in town on business and got stopped by this red light. I just happened to be crossing at that moment.

Sounds incredible, but New Orleans is a small town city. I keep bumping into the same total strangers so much that I know many by name.When I limped back into formation on the side walk with the other background extras, one asked "Who was that?" I replied: "Fuckin Paparazzi."

It's a very tightly closed set and cameras will get you kicked out. But since this was taken off set by a motorist I can show you me in wardrobe.  We were dismissed earlier than usual with some of the background extras being given tomorrow off. Not me, I guess I am in a few key shots that they need me to come in. I'll duct tape Lefty to my thigh and do my best.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The other "LA"

NOLA's only real booming economy down here is the film industry. The state and city won over Hollywood years ago with nice tax deals to motion picture producers to move operations to New Orleans. My buddy Steve was telling me today on the ride in to work this morning. An ex cop pushing a Lincoln over the bridge at 4:00 am in the morning. Feeling safe, but at the same time feeling like I'm commuting into a video game.

With little traffic and a beautiful night time skyline, we're signing into wardrobe 10 minutes later. A decent breakfast with co-workers that I like. I don't even look at the carnage anymore. This morning we passed a half a dozen car wrecks, school buses and gasoline tankers involved. Large sets built to get demolished. The black night sky is blotted out by the artificial rented light.

As a former sign crane operator, I can tell you the cost and scale of this operation is equal to a bridge build. Cranes the size of dinosaurs that probably had been on call 24 hours a day for months, safely dangled a monstrous metal framed scrim diffuser over my head. Think of it as an artificial cloud. The day before we lost time waiting for cloud cover. We stood in the direct sun with a 110 heat index for 20 minutes. When some god who directs the wind does smile upon us with healing shade, we have to run at full speed towards a camera.

I am so impressed by the production people. I have never seen so many hard working people pushing together to complete a great project. Professionals with sincere love of the art doing their best, then in come the background extras. Upon seeing a jack knifed gasoline tanker I commented to myself, "Looks like an interesting day at the office today." Asked about my day I spoke into my phone, "Ahh, nuthin new, same ol. Yea, still getting chased by monsters. Dude, stunt chicks have the hottest bodies, yea."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Running with the Bulls in NOLA

I've discovered a lot about myself while working as a background actor. If a giant monster attacks New Orleans, I will be the first to be eaten. The director set up the shot by saying: "Imagine a monstrous, forbidding, swirling cloud descending upon the city and destroying life." The director should have remembered that this is New Orleans. That description of our imaginary monster is the weather report several times a summer down here. These people don't run in fear from large murderous clouds, they run to a bar and invent a drink to honor it.

We got the gist of what he wanted. Running in fear toward the camera, looking over our shoulders at a computer generated monster who will be added months from now. Ironically, we were looking in the direction of the BP oil spill. He wanted fear and terror, panic and confusion. He got it. People from New Orleans work well together only if you dress them up in costumes and line them up in the street to perform in the same direction. It was just another form of parade. Imagine if everyone on a crowded Bourbon street simultaneously saw the same hallucination, that's what I did today at work.

I'm 47, I don't run. I have flat feet, and today is the first time I ever wore sandals. There were several flip flop injuries that instituted wardrobe changes for tomorrow. When the 300 or so of us would walk back to position one (the starting point,) we would see a half a dozen or so shoes scattered down the street with cell phones as punctuation marks. New Orleans takes a lot of pride in it's well organized evacuations.

The last time I had to sprint 2 blocks was in Belmar NJ on my forty third birthday. The reason I was running is complicated. It involved a stolen eight ball of coke, a criminally insane stripper and a very irate Italian mobster driving around Belmar looking for us. I probably shouldn't say much more.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Here it is. Much thanks to my friend Russell for the many hours invested in this project. In the middle of production, he received a call to help out on the special effects for a low budget ghost movie. That gig payed, Binge didn't. Russell still managed to work on both projects.

So here is the first real animated BiNGE project. It was a learning experience for the both of us.

Monday, July 19, 2010

What fun am I missing?

Well, this is the first summer in the past five that I haven't driven cab on the Jersey Shore. What fun am I missing? People thought that we made boo-koo bucks. The summers I worked were ok, but earned it. Loud drunken Bennies. A Bennie is slang term on the Jersey Shore for summer tourists. The slang comes from railroad conductors years ago who transported summer people down from north Jersey. The word derives from the stations that they got on to go south: Bayonne, Elizabeth, and Newark. In south Jersey, the term "Shoobie" is used. Folks from Philadelphia would bring their lunches in shoeboxes on to the coast bound train. Florida calls them "Snowbirds."

Guido, is used to refer to an Italian American from north Jersey or New York who comes down in the summer to act like an ass. I bet this summer they will be more obnoxious and abusive because of the TV show "Jersey Shore." Now the idiots will think it's cool and fashionable to be a negative ethnic stereotype. The guys will be pumped with even more steroids filling them with rage. They will come down with even more insecurities to cause them to act like a pack of male dogs trying to out hump each other or each other.

The girls named Maria will give themselves ridiculous nicknames and believe that you're not drunk enough until some stranger punches you in your obnoxious mouth. Thanks MTV.

Sneek Peek

I've been promising all three of my fans that there will be a short animated BiNGE episode soon. Well here is the opening sequence. The rest is still being painstakingly glued together to be debuted shortly. So to tease you, here is the opening titles. It's a two minute cartoon, what did you expect, a trailer?

We threw in a Taratino reference, and kind of a slam against cheap anime.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

La Vie Boheme

By extension, Bohemia meant any place where one could live and work cheaply, and behave unconventionally; a community of free souls beyond the pale of respectable society.


The tag line for my comic strip BiNGE is "An artist in search of a 21st century Bohemia" It never really dawned on me, but I guess that was what I was searching for. I tried the Ned Flanders life of Sunday school and white picket fences. It wasn't me. Not that there is anything wrong with that life style, I just can't live it. Suburban keeping up with the Jones. Spending money I don't have to buy things I don't need to impress people I don't like.

I've met a lot of people who claim to be non materialistic, claim to be simple spiritual beings. The same people are quick to boast about their new car, which when it's paid off won't be new any more and they will have to take out a loan for a newer car. New agey neo hippies who want the illusion of Bohemia in a chic four bedroom house in an expensive town with perfect landscaping. They'll talk about positive energy and karma, then talk about their best friend behind her back.

New Orleans is a city where it's people have learned from experience that all material things will end up in a landfill someday. Why run down to Home Depot for a new ceiling fan, here's one on Craigslist for $10. It's not new? That's ok, by the end of the summer we may not have a ceiling to hang it on anyway. Are you driving an 15 year old car? Let's paint it to look like Zebra.

Down here when you fill out a form that asks for occupation, you can fill in artist, actor, writer, musician or juggler and know one questions it. Back in Jersey, you would get a snide comment "What's your real job?" Well, at least it's not processing pointless paperwork.

oh no! it'z Godzirra!

Landscapers earn their keep in Louisiana. The weather is tropical, the plants are tropical, the insects are from B-movie monster flicks.

"Gee, did someone just fly a remote controlled model aircraft into my head?"

"No, it was a flying cockroach."

Today, I encountered these ugly but intriguing creatures. They are huge, almost as big as a cell phone. Black and bright red piping. Heavy Metal of the insect world. You get three of them together and they look like the band Motorhead.

They're called DEVIL'S HORSE, sounds like a metal band. Probably is. From what I understand, they'll get bigger still. God help us all.

The wasps are even nastier than in NJ. These act like angry alcoholics first thing in the morning. They just are looking for an excuse to go off on someone and sting them. I was kicking around the back yard before I mowed. I saw a crawfish eating a dog turd. JEEZ, this is a delicacy to who?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Dress for success

This afternoon I went for a wardrobe fitting for an upcoming film background role. Due to extremely tight security and confidence I can not give you too many details concerning the shoot. I was contacted to be part of a scene involving hundreds of background extras. The casting company told me to bring attire of a "business man" to the fitting. With about 40 pounds of suites and dress shirts in my bag I made my way to the wardrobe fitting.

The costumer looked at me, then at my paperwork and back at me. "Don't these casting agents ever look at your photos? You are NOT a business man type, you are a stoner - beach bum type." "Uhm, well, yea, I guess I could play that. I don't really like the beach though." She turns to her coworker and announces "I found the one to wear "THE" shirt." Evidently the lead wardrobe lady has a favorite shirt that she likes to work into the background of films she works on.

I really dig watching the wardrobe people work. I'm not a clothes type of person. However, I see the art of what they do with costumes. The one who dressed me showed thought and enthusiasm in her work, they all did. Where else can I get a girl half my age to measure my inseam.

I wore the shirt and shorts given to me, along with a pair of Jesus creeper sandals. After much searching a straw pork pie hat that could fit my head was added. When I emerged with my sunglasses on, the second wardrobe lady shrieked "THE DUDE ABIDES!" A reference from one of my favorite films. We start shooting in a couple of weeks. I hope I don't start getting type cast as an unemployed stoner.

Are you employed, sir?


You don't go out and make a living dressed like that in the middle of a weekday.

Is this a--what day is this?

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I was enjoying the goodies of the care package that I received the other day. I got to thinking about the good friends who mailed it. I always kidded them about this scene.

Yea, I was in a chick movie

Revenge of the Bridesmaids
7pm Sunday July 18 ABC FAMILY

Look for me in the background wearing a 70's disco shirt.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The job thingy

I hit Craigslist a couple of times a day. Not a lot out there. When I first arrived in New Orleans in March, my buddy Aaron suggested that I start applying for work on off shore oil rigs. Great money, adventure. I wouldn't be doing the roustabout kind of work, too old. The rigs are like small cities in the Gulf, they need janitors and cooks. I started to send out resumes to a few companies.... the rest is history.

At one of the temp agencies I found some work doing labor. Even though I was twice the age of most of the local kids hired from the same agency, I kept up and even out worked some. I didn't bitch about doing the work that was given. I was thankful for it. The manager that hired us through the temp agency pulled me to the side and took my number. I never expected to hear from him.

Yesterday my phone rings, I have a week's work waiting for me in Biloxi Mississippi. Unloading trucks and assembling school furniture. They'll put me and a few others up at a Motel 6 and feed us, plus pay. I explained that my car was in the shop, he said he'll set me up with a ride to Biloxi. I'm glad to find a place where the work ethic does not go unnoticed. I'll keep you posted.

BTW, it's pronounced Bil- LUX-i, not bil-OX-i. Pronounce it wrong and the locals laugh. Let's see them try to pronounce Manasquan or Hohokus.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Where's BiNGE Drinking Game

Tomorrow night on Memphis Beat my friend and I will be on, in the background. Outdoor bar-b-q scene. Maybe, or we might be on the cutting room floor, or just a blur. We haven't seen it yet.
Anyway, if you spot me you have to do a shot, if he and I are standing next to each other take two shots. Some fat dude gets stabbed, so it's probably in the beginning of the show.

Memphis Beat - Tuesdays at 10/9c TNT

good people story

When I returned from picking up the forms for food stamps this morning, (Of which were mostly gone to those who used to work in the fishing industries.) I found a care package waiting for me. Shipped from an undisclosed mountain in the Pacific North West. It was heavier than I thought and I may have damaged a testicle. The package (Box on porch that is) contained everything from rice to Dewar's airplane liquor. The GONZO Diet: Starch and liquor. Candy, Chef Boyrdee, coffee, yea.

God bless them both. Thanks to everyone who has helped me on this journey. "Ok Columbus, here's two hundred to find something interesting...." I can't wait for an opportunity to pay each of you back ten fold. That is the one's who believed in me get ten fold. Regular creditors and idiots just get payed back exactly what I owe.

Thanks again, not just for the carbs and buzz, but for believing in me.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

easy out

I didn't have anything really funny to say today, so I thought I would just post a favorite movie clip. I hope you enjoy.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

An artist remembered

Back in New Jersey a funeral is treated as a period to someone's life. In New Orleans, funerals and services are treated like exclamation points. I was invited to a party by Miss Mardi Gras to celebrate the life of renowned float builder Raul Bertuccelli. The party was held in Blaine Kern's float den in Algiers. The hundred or so attendees enjoyed the open bar, gumbo and fire works surrounded by some of the most magnificent floats one could imagine.

Not yet having experienced a carnival season since I moved to New Orleans, this was a great chance for me to examine the art up close. The warehouse or "den" was a gallery of huge pieces of art that many don't get to view up close. As a painter, sculptor, cartoonist and sign maker, the floats held my attention all night. I was walking around like a kid with A.D.D. in a casino. Not many pieces of art can be towed down the street with dozens of people standing on top of it flinging beads. We tried it once at one of my art opening and things got ugly.

I'm still trying to wrap my head around the carnival since moving here. The rest of the world view the Mardi Gras as drunken decedent parades involving costumes and breasts. Mardi Gras is more than that, it's a mindset, an attitude that keeps this city breathing. The ugly racial tensions of NOLA are kept at bay with carnival. Residents return storm after storm to be healed by it.

A former float sculptor after seeing my artwork suggested I might pursue employment in the industry. Larger than life cartoonish figures, scathing political and social satire punctuated by voluptuous cleavage and sensuality. Art galleries seem so tiny, dull and boring in comparison now.

Parades and festivals in other cities are created for local merchants to make a buck. In New Orleans many individuals spend thousands of dollars to be a part of Krewes and partake in the season. It's not and industry or marketing ploy, Mardi Gras is a mass spiritual experience for the city and it's people. Raul Bertuccelli was like a church architect designing impressive structures to create awe and spectacle in the eyes of the parishioners.

Friday, July 9, 2010

face time

I worked in a kitchen all day. Hot greasy place, stained and nasty apron, cops hassling me. Ironically when I moved to NOLA most of the job applications I filled out was for dishwasher at the fancy restaurants in town. Ok, and strip joints. The irony is today that I worked as one as a background extra. I'm just working as an actor until I can find full time work as a waiter.

I was lucky to have a 1:00 PM report time, some had 5:00 AM. Wardrobe gave me a new apron and proceeded to splatter it with various kitchen stains. A Pollock masterpiece of berries, melons and chicken grease. Then a make up artist gave me some gel to smear on my skin for a look of sweat. "Be careful not to get any on your wardrobe." But the other lady just smeared...never mind.

They filmed Memphis Beat at a posh hotel in NOLA, my third time working the show. After lunch the crew, actors and background proceeded to the kitchen for filming, I was singled out. "What's your name?" the director asked. I instantly thought "Damn, they recognize me from the other two episodes I did and are going to send me home." They don't like to keep using the same extras if they can help it. There is a shortage of dependable background at times in New Orleans. Right now the film the Green Lantern is tying up a lot of background actors. So I guess I'm the best they can get. "Your name?" "Uhm...Styles?" "STYLES! We got something for you to do...."

When we took positions in the kitchen and Jason Lee and Sam Hennings walked in. I'm not sure but I might have gotten the "Oh no, not this asshole again." look from Jason. I'm familiar with the look. I shot back a "I'd rather be working background on Green Lantern right now" look. The best face time I've gotten so far as a background actor and I had to be wearing a damn hairnet.

I've been a background extra on the show so many times,
I could become a drinking game.

I had a featured extra part as a minimum wage earner getting questioned by cops. Not a real stretch for me as an actor. But I did have a lot of experience to draw from. At first Sam Henning was improvising some questions. "Did you see anything, what time did you come in?" The director stepped in, "Just ask yes or no questions so he can just nod." If I even mumbled an answer it would've been a couple hundred more in my paycheck. Just nod, we have a budget. "Did you see anything?" I looked at the ceiling and nodded no.I walked away with my meat.

Check out Sam Hennings IMDB page. This man has an amazing history of working in television. It was a privilege to be on screen with him.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cool Car

This clip has a chase scene in it that was shot about 3 blocks from where I live in Algiers. The car rocks. I'm working again as an extra on Memphis Beat tomorrow. I explained to the casting agent that I had worked two other episodes. Since they were several episodes back she said it would be fine. My first episode will air next week. Look for me at a Bar B Que festival. I'm the sunburned guy.

I'm glad I got more background work, I was afraid that I had become a washed up has been extra.


Anime sucks. Someone has to tell you this fact. You thirty year olds who have never seen a real naked woman in your entire lives can sit in your parent's basement all night long on line chatting about how great anime is, it won't change the fact. It sucks. Asian culture is based on not stepping out of the box, taking what someone else has invented and making cheap mass produced rip offs. This is the entire Asian cartoon industry. Perhaps a few comic artists have improved and excelled at the craft, but the bottom line is Anime is cheap plotless garbage that should only be enjoyed by the 10 and under crowd. Unimaginative mass produced fluff for unsophisticated tastes who need to be baby sat while mom is on the phone.

When I was five years old watching Speed Racer and Gigantor, I knew even then that it was grossly inferior to Warner Brothers. I would be embarrassed if someone came into the living room to find me watching Speed Racer. Sure one can argue for the "campy kitche" appeal to the early Asian cartoons. The same way one can argue that Pixie Stixs have some nutritional value.

I got thinking about how painfully bad anime is while working on my cartoon "CRUDE." My two minute animation may not be the greatest, however it does involve some work. We needed a quick one second shot of a character talking. To stay on our schedule we decided to employ the cheap trick of focusing on the eyes of a speaking character. We laughed about how entire 30 minute episodes are filled with such ploys. Even funnier, chubby nerds who spend their hard earned allowances on DVDs of this crap to watch with their pants around sweaty ankles.I am familiar with the genre, I was reading HEAVY METAL Magazine before most of you Poke Mon card collectors were born. Perhaps there are a few talented artist who work in the style that deserve respect. The overwhelming majority of the anime is drawn by sweat shop minimum wage nerds who have a pen in one hand and a tiny yellow penis in the other. Drawing nothing but doey eyed twelve year old girls with D cup breasts. Stop praising it.

I on the other hand draw forty year old skanks with fake D cup breasts, the way God intended cartoons to be. This is my opinion, I don't care what you think, NERD!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Sneek Peek

Here are some elements from the in progress animation of BiNGE in "CRUDE."

I had to make just one Taratino reference, this is the opening shot.
(with a twist)

Our version of background extras.

These guys provided security during the filming.

Exotic locations and vehicles.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Coming soon to a computer near you..

A guy who worked on a film with

and he worked as a background extra on a show starring

the other guy worked with a director who worked with

Probably in July 2010 the latest BiNGE animation. My co-conspirator Russell is putting all of the pieces together between naps. I just saw the opening sequence, totally different from what I would have done. It was great, I like to have a collaborative effort with others. I hope none of you will be disappointed with the two minute epic.