Monday, April 27, 2009

Going to New Zealand and Then Australia, For A Month

In October of 2008, Qantas airlines started running a promotion, $380 tickets to Australia in honor of their new A380 aircraft, which would be starting service between L.A. and Sydney. That was it. I wanted to go to Australia and it was a cheap ticket, so I reached out to a few friends and put out a line asking if anyone wanted to take an extended trip with me. It took a few days, but some guys said they were willing to go and we narrowed it down to May as the best time. When I went to actually book the ticket (and I was the first), I realized that Qantas allowed you to book a stop-over, for as long as you want, somewhere between Fiji and Australia. Ever since watching the 18 hours of Lord of the Rings special features, I've wanted to spend some time in New Zealand, so I knew I wanted to split the trip between the two countries. After consulting a friend who had traveled through New Zealand, it became clear that I only needed to travel to the South Island. So I booked a ticket, from L.A. to Christchurch, New Zealand, on the South Island, for two weeks, and then from there to Sydney, Australia for two weeks, from May 5th to June 5th. After that, my friend Clint booked a ticket to Sydney, arriving May 20th and then Jonathan Nicholas, a fellow cinematographer, got my itinerary and booked the exact same flights as me, from L.A. to New Zealand to Australia.

I knew before I booked the tickets that I'd be making some sort of movie on the trip. For the last two years I've been traveling around the world making little travel-blogs and informational videos about places, and Jonathan and I had wanted to make a bit of a pilot for a travel-show idea we'd been brewing as well. But Jonathan is a cinematographer, and I'm a filmmaker right? So why make a documentary, when we can make an actual narrative movie? So that was it, we were making a movie. Then the brainstorming started and I came up with a story line pretty quickly, based on true events, mixed with fantasies I'd had on my own backpacking experiences.

So here we are. We're going to New Zealand to make a movie. I'm both playing the lead role, directing and producing the movie. An actress and friend of mine showed interest in playing one of the parts as well, so we asked her to come along. She said yes, so we bought her a plane ticket to come with us. We were going to rent a friend's HVX-200 to shoot the movie, but then Jonathan bought a Canon 5D Mark II digital SLR that shoots video, and now we're shooting with it, through 35mm lenses. An audio engineer friend of mine has decided to invest in the project by lending us professional sound equipment, so now we have a limiting mixer, a digital recorder, Lectro wireless mics and a boom.

I'm writing this all out because I'm working on the script and needed to get my fingers warmed up. No, that's not true, I'm procrastinating. Well, back to it.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Donating My Hair

Jessica and I went over to Floyd's barbershop in Studio City to get my hair cut and donated to Locks of Love. I called them beforehand and they informed me that the haircut would be free and that they had the paperwork to donate to the organization.
I had spent the last year and a half, growing out my hair, not even getting trims, so that I would have plenty to donate. Last week we measured it from my scalp and it was 11.5 inches. You only have to donate 10 inches.
I filled out the paperwork and sat down with the stylist.The first thing she said was, "your hair is not long enough to donate." I informed her that we'd measured it and it was over 10 inches. "So you're shaving your head?" she said. I told her that I wanted to salvage as much as possible, but I was o.k. with it being very short. She grabbed the back half of my hair into a loose ponytail and chopped it off before I could say anything, cutting the hair on the sides and top in half at about 6 inches. The hair was ruined.The year and a half was wasted. "See," she said. "It's not long enough." I said it was too late, but that "the Locks of Love website said to gather the hair into a bunch of small ponytails or braids and cut those off."
She stopped cutting my hair. "I've done this a lot" she said. "Oh, ok, you would know then" I said. "Yeah, thank you," she said. And continued to cut my hair.
I was more than disappointed. I decided a little while ago not to get angry or stressed out about anything anymore, so I kept my mouth shut.
I'm pretty sure that when I left they just threw away my hair. Or maybe they made baby mustaches with it?I'm pretty sure that she just didn't want to take the time to do it right, because she knew I was getting a free haircut and the quicker she got me out of her chair, the quicker she could get to work on a paying client. What did I learn?

It's hard to do good things. People are rarely nice by nature...Humility.

Here's the part when you're really going to think I'm crazy - I tipped the stylist afterward. She looked surprised. The other thing I learned is that I look a lot better with short hair.P.S. Thank you Jessica for photo-documenting this and for editing the photos and making me look SO GOOD (I saw those raw files girl, - bang up job sprucing me up).

I Got a Kindle 2!

One of the benefits of leaving the country for long stretches of time, sometimes your mom gives you your present early.
Love you mom! Review to come soon.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Bulking Up For A Role

It's not that my character needs to be a muscular guy, but being that I don't have a lot of acting experience, I feel like it's going to help me to become someone else, by changing my actual body a little bit, so that I actually feel like someone else.For the record, I don't plan on continuing this bodybuilding course. After this summer I'm going to go back to marathon and endurance training and reduce my heavy lifting. I'm naturally thin and I'm o.k. with that.

Cutting 10 Inches Off My Hair

I'm donating my hair to Locks of Love tomorrow. I wish I could say that I was doing it as a selfless act to help another person, but that's not exactly my motivation. The truth is, I love setting goals and accomplishing things. About a year and a half ago, I decided to grow my hair out until it was long enough to give away. It needs to be at least 10 inches to give to Locks of Love and mine is about eleven and a half right now. So tomorrow, I'm finding a barber who knows how to cut it for donation, and sometime in the afternoon, my head will be lighter.

Friday, April 10, 2009

"Grande Drip" - Short Film - My Homies!

Last August I was asked by my friend Greg Wilson, to lend some of my technical expertise on a short film they were shooting using the Red Digital Cinema Camera (I wasn't able to work on it because I was out of the country). After six months of post-production, they finished the film and it turned out great. It recently played at the AFI Dallas Film Festival where my buddies from Real TV Films got a hold of them on the Red Carpet and produced the following interview, which intercuts commentary with the cast and crew with A LOT of the actual film.

"Grande Drip" from RealTVfilms on Vimeo.
Grande Drip was produced by Greg Wilson and Emily Moss (who are soon to be MARRIED) ((Greg saved Emily's life on set, broke his wrist in the process, fell in love and now they will be together forever!)), directed by Angelo Salvatore Restaino and stars Jamie Martz, Matthew Walker, Velinda Godfrey and the one and only Garry Marshall.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Traveler of The Month on LonelyPlanet.tv

This month I have the honor of being featured on LonelyPlanet.tv's homepage as "Traveler of The Month." I can't tell you what a fantastic company Lonely Planet is and how greatly I respect them - wait, yes I can. They are fantastic. Not to mention they buy my travel videos AND promote them. Thank you LonelyPlanet.tv! Hi Rachael, hi Suzanne!

In case you would like to hear my sultry voice read my travel bio, click the video below!:
video

If not, just click the picture below and go to the actual site. Just scroll down and it's on the left, above that handsome little picture of me on the street in Jaipur, India.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

We Have An Actress

I just had sushi with a very beautiful and talented actress. I told her, "without you, we cannot make our movie." She said that she feels compelled to be part of the project and shook my hand, giving her commitment to play the lead role. I went home, took out my credit card, and bought her a $1,000 ticket to New Zealand. WE HAVE AN ACTRESS!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

List Making Calms The Nerves

I'm running a 5k at 7am. I've been lying here in bed for the past 2 hours not able to sleep with my mind racing. It's my own fault really. After my busy two weeks, I allowed myself to get into the habit of staying up far too late and staying in bed in the morning far too long. The main focus of my thoughts are the many things that must be done before leaving on May 5th to make this movie in New Zealand. As I mentally poured over the many details of the trip and the production process I started becoming anxious, a feeling that's been rare an unwelcome for the past few months. Realizing that I wasn't going to bed any time soon, I got my headlamp, a pen and my notebook and began writing a to-do list. I came up with 20 individual tasks that need to be completed within the next two weeks. It's a little daunting to see it laid out like that, but I know from insomnia past that getting these things out of my head and on to paper is a good way of freeing myself from the anxiety of them weighing on my sub-conscious.

One ray of hope that is beaming right now is the strong possibility that an actress will be accompanying us on our trip. She is perfect for the role of the main female love interest and she is very enthusiastic about the project. This would make our filmmaking process so much easier and we are going to do everything we can to bring her with us.

Now that I have all of that out of my head in a tangible way, I'm going to shut everything back down and see if I can get four and a half solid hours of sleep.