January 01, 2009

Thanks for a great screening

Hey all, it was a great turnout and a wonderful reception to the film. It was a blast watching it tonight with many of you.

HAPPY 2009!

Posted by jason on 01:01 AM | Comments (6)

December 27, 2008

Electric Chainsaw Massacre - Special East Coast Screening


Over the summer, a hardy bunch of us shot a film in the woods of Maryland and an abandoned Dairy Barn.

Now, the bountiful fruits of our sacrifice are available to all of you. Regardless of your plans.... pop in on New Year's Eve and enjoy the best 10 consecutive minutes of your entire life! (Then you could leave and go back to your other plans!)

It's a horror spoof comedy, it would probably be rated PG, and it stars the incomparable REBEKAH LATSHAW (also known as Rebekah Wendell or Becky Wendell) in a performance that has people buzzing with excitement. And we are happy to introduce to many of you the talents of Todd Ryan Jones. You will not be disappointed!

Come and watch it with the filmmakers and the stars! It's gonna be in HD Blu-Ray on the famous Kempista Big Screen TV. It should be a blast.

PS. This will be one of the few chances to see it for a while because since we're submitting it to festivals we're not allowed to post it online.

PPS. It might be too intense for kids. But you can still bring kids– we could show it twice so parents could take turns watching their children in another room.

Posted by jason on 02:04 PM | Comments (2)

August 18, 2008

More photography from the set

I was fortunate to have a number of very talented photographers on set capturing the production.

Just because the shots are so fantastic and they continue to be added, I wanted to bring your attention to Rob McFadden's flickr photostream again.

Brett Weber also took a number of great images.

And if you're on Facebook, friend Joe Kempista so you can see his shots as well.

fog_light.jpg by Brett

reb_waiting.jpg by Rob

reb_post.jpg by Joe

And I just noticed that Joe liked Rob's portrait of him enough to make it his profile picture. Congrats Rob!

Posted by jason on 09:59 AM | Comments (6)

August 17, 2008

It's a wrap


Today, a hardy group of filmmakers and actors called a wrap around 8 PM. I'm absolutely thrilled with the work we all did, and really excited about editing it all together.

I had a much better second day than first day. The first day started off very rough actually. Things were just taking a long time, our camera's sound intake was all clipping, the batteries kept running out, and so much time was being wasted. It didn't help that our shoot was a quarter mile away from our gear truck and we had no immediate electricity (though we did have a generator.) But in the end, we got what we needed for the first day, though I came away thinking filmmaking is VERY hard and I'd rather write. I was just so inexperienced, and I felt it.

And now in the second day, I really started to get a groove. I actually started enjoying directing, got more confidence, and loved the way you could see the movie coming together. Anders Uhl, our amazing DP (seriously, the guy is a total artist, and very patient and smart... love this guy) said that the most important thing a director can do is have a vision and be able to make decisions. I definitely started to grow in both senses today.

For those of you who have gone to group workcamps or short term missions or summer camp, you know bond with the people who share those experiences. This was a very similar experience. I can only imagine what a 30 day shoot must be like.

Overall, it was an excellent experience. I learned so much... and definitely made some mistakes that I would avoid in the future. Our actors, Rebekah and Todd were so amazing and wonderful to work with. We got so many amazing performances, I'm proud to have them in this film.

OK, I'm so relieved now.

Time to start writing again.

Some other pictures for fun (by the way, I know some of them look terrifying... I swear it's a comedy.) These are courtesy of expert photographer Rob McFadden, who I'm so happy was on the set, because he got a ton of great shots):





Posted by jason on 12:11 AM | Comments (11)

August 14, 2008


This day was more difficult than I would have imagined. Part of me deserved it I guess, setting myself up like a bad sitcom, with the day before the shoot madness PLUS a combined birthday party for Lyric and Ollie both hitting at the same time.

But who would have guessed just how difficult it would get. First of all, I hired an AC today who seemed like a lifesaver. He knows the Red Camera, he has a lot of his own gear, and he was willing to go to Philly and pick up the rentals.

We had a great location walk through with our DP, Anders, and things were really looking like they would go smoothly today.

Then the boom dropped. The production insurance we had purchased earlier in the week, which is needed to be able to rent anything, was deemed unacceptable by the supplier that was renting us the camera and lenses. So we had to quickly scramble and find other insurance, while putting together a contingency plan in case we couldn't get that other insurance.

Anders was able to finagle some insurance for us, and I had to call a contact in LA to make it happen. I was working on all that when our AC showed up in NYC, and unfortunately I hadn't really communicated to him that he wouldn't just be picking up the equipment but he was supposed to "prep" the equipment, a process that apparently takes hours and which I am still dicey on the exact specifics. But our AC seemed a little shocked that he had to do it, and the rental house seemed shocked that he wouldn't already be expecting to do that.

And the rental house still needed a certificate sent to them from the insurance company before they'd release the gear. I finally got it to them 10 minutes before they were to close.

But then another problem. The AC hadn't taken a large enough truck to carry all the gear. He called to tell me this while I was trying to run a game for the kids at the party. Joe took the call, and arranged for the AC to rent a truck large enough to transport the gear back. So again... unexpected costs, people... truck rental plus parking for our AC's car for the weekend!

And now...

It's raining.

Posted by jason on 09:23 PM | Comments (4)

August 12, 2008

Lessons Learned

Of course, we haven't even had our shoot yet, but I will saw a couple of things that I've learned already.

1) Shooting just a 5 minute short doesn't make sense financially...
There are certain things, like production insurance, which have cover a minimum of 10 days shooting and thus are awfully overpriced for just a one to two day short. I would definitely say the better way to make the most of your money would be to line up 2-3 shorts and film them all in a day or two.

2) There is always something more to do...
You have to really stay on top of things and make lists. There are so many details to keep track of.

3) Technical people and equipment is expensive.
Getting things to look and sound good costs money. There is no way around it.

4) It's always good to have a backup plan.
I wanted to shoot both days in Fair Hill, but the head ranger there didn't want have us film there on a saturday. So I went to a run down dairy barn nearby today and got permission to shoot our second day there. One less thing to stress about.

Posted by jason on 01:19 AM | Comments (9)

August 05, 2008

You're looking at...

...the lead for The Electric Chainsaw Massacre.


Todd Ryan Jones
. He's awesome.

Posted by jason on 11:13 PM | Comments (8)

August 03, 2008

The Bearer of Bad News

To be in charge of anything, however small, means sometimes you have to make decisions that people aren't going to like. While some people relish this, I don't. I can get caught up in people's hopes and dreams, and I can really feel bad for them.

So it is not fun for me to have one role and a ton of men trying out for it. But we had one actor yesterday who nailed the part so well that we decided to cancel the auditions on Tuesday and let him know he got the part. So I spent the better part of this evening letting people know they didn't get the part (or that they wouldn't get to audition on Tuesday.)

The difficulty is that we had a lot of skill on display yesterday, so I do just feel bad letting these people know they didn't make the cut. But oh well, it's worse just waiting and waiting and never hearing back, so I wanted to let them all know quickly. I've gotten a couple of responses back already. All professional, but also wanting to know what they could have done better.

That's a hard question to answer, really. You can give some feedback, but would that have gotten them the part? The truth is there was only one role here. It's not a matter of them not being good, it's a matter of someone else seeming more right for the part. But anyway, I figured that question does deserve an answer (or at least I would want one if I asked it) so I responded to them reiterating that they had a very good audition and that it was fierce competition.

I told one guy he ad libbed too much on the lines (being a writer who really does spend a lot of time polishing up dialogue, this is a bit of a pet peeve of mine. OK, I'd make due if the actor was Robin Williams, but that's not the case here. For an audition especially, stick to what's on the page. Especially if the director is also the writer. Because otherwise what you're saying is "I know you worked hard on this script but I think I can come up with something better off the seat of my pants, watch me!") And I told the other guy who asked that he made really bold choices with his audition and made them believable, but that truly we just went in another direction.

I really don't like breaking people's dreams. And for some reason, this part in a small film was VERY important to a lot of men.

Posted by jason on 10:27 PM | Comments (5)


Auditions turned out to be MUCH more eventful than expected. Much more. I had an initial instinct that we should hold casting at a neutral location, not in anybody's house.

I was right.

Let's just say that Rebekah, the female lead, was quite a trooper today. We had some people show up who took the role VERY seriously... and were actually, let's say, borderline dangerous. Don't get me wrong, these people could act. But, I think they somehow missed that the film was a comedy. They managed to make even the funniest lines creepy beyond compare, and in the end there is no way in the world I'm willingly putting a chainsaw in these people's hands.

It was actually a blast, and I think we found our lead. It was an experience we'll never forget, and I'm so glad that we have it all on tape because there were so many moments that were so crazy that you might be tempted to think, wait that didn't really happen, did it?

But they did.

Posted by jason on 02:02 AM | Comments (3)

July 31, 2008


They aren't exactly works of art, but I spent the evening work on storyboards for the short and now my hand hurts from drawing so much. They are very good because they force you to visualize your film beforehand and you end up with much more solid shots. I had to do them, because we're hiring a DP and I can't just tell the guy to "roll with it." I need to show him what I want.

I used to draw a lot. I used to be fairly good at it. Now, not so much. But with the animation class I took and now this, I'd like to shake some of the rust off and draw more.

This is the first page.


Posted by jason on 12:53 AM | Comments (2)

July 29, 2008

Attack of the Scary Movies!

Joe, Collin, and I got together and watched a number of Horror Films to dissect their shots, use of color and light, stuff like that in preparation for the short we're shooting in a couple of weeks.

We watched the following films in fast forward (except for scenes that really caught our interest):

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (really beautiful cinematography)
Sasquatch (totally stunk)
The Hills Have Eyes (ahhhh terrifying and so messed up but also well shot and effective)
Friday the 13th (such a terrible film, I've always heard so much about it but it does not stand up to the test of time.)
The Descent (we were liking it, but we specifically need to figure out daytime scary shots in a woods or a building and these were all in darkness in a cave.)
The Ruins (again, liking it, but not all that helpful because the terror is the result of a plant or something, we need a large hulking pursuer.)
Wrong Turn (really really scary, nicely shot, mostly in the woods.)

Anyway, none of us are horror movie fans at all, so this was a weird yet kind of fun experience. The interesting thing to me is how much these films have in common. Young hip teens find themselves somehow waylaid (often by spikes meant to pop car tires) in the middle of nowhere where cell phones don't work and are then at the mercy of some creepy horrible rural bumpkins / genetic freaks of nature. That really is the basic storyline for much of the above stories. But hey, it works.

Also, the experience of sourcing actors and a director of photography and an audio engineer has been really fun, but also kind of difficult. First of all, what is it with actors? Why do they have to be so weird sometimes?

Cases in point:

1) I've had 3 different actors ask me to call them so we can "discuss the role." That would be fine at the time when I've cast them, but this is pre-auditions and we're up to 20 potential actors. I just don't have time to chat with all these actors!

2) I've had a mom respond to my ad saying her 15 year old son would be perfect for the role of the hulking chainsaw killer. Uh, no!

3) I've gotten a response from a petite woman saying she wanted the role. When I responded to her saying that I'll keep her in mind for future projects but that I really need a large, intimidating man for this role, she replied "This is the kind of role I need to expand my acting reportoire. Please reconsider your decision." Uh, I cannot cast a petite woman in this role!

4) I've had 3 actors say they are in Philly with no cars and would need rides. One asked me to figure out the best public transportation bus route to get from Philly to the audition. What world do these people live in where this is my responsibility?

For the DPs, we're down to 3. I think I've made my decision. Just for fun, I'll post links for the reels for the three of them and you let me know which you prefer.

Reel A:

Reel B:

Reel C:

Either way I'm psyched because I think the footage is going to look incredible. I really am wondering why I never thought of hiring a DP before. The talent in this area alone is really impressive to me.

Posted by jason on 12:38 AM | Comments (13)

July 25, 2008

The Electric Chainsaw Massacre

We'll be shooting a 3 minute short comedy film, written by me and based on an idea by my older brother Josh.

Anyone who would like to help with the shoot, let me know by writing me at jason @ the look machine . com. We'd love to have you.

We'll be shooting Friday and Saturday, August 15th and 16th.

I posted on Craigslist for the male lead, the director of photography, and the audio engineer. You wouldn't believe the response I've gotten so far. It's been positively overwhelming! I was told that if I wanted to shoot a short as a UCLA student I should do it away from LA, because away from LA people really want to work with you (but in LA you're kind of ho-hum).

I'd have to say that's true, some of the resumes I've gotten are very impressive.

That combined with the fact that we'll be using a fancy-schmancy Red One Camera has really made those three positions hot commodities. (Plus the fact that we're paying a little for each of them, I'm sure that can't hurt.)

Seriously, as good as some of the reels are looking for the DP alone, I'm wondering why I didn't think of doing this a long time ago!

Again, if anyone would like to be involved, let me know. We'd love to have you.

Posted by jason on 11:52 PM | Comments (5)

July 10, 2008

Black Family Update

I had a meeting with the producer at Maguire today about the Black Family project. He is REALLY excited about it, and thinks it's a great idea. He definitely wants to produce, and put a deal for funding together. So when I get back into LA we're going to meet and start putting together meetings around town.

It's really exciting!

Posted by jason on 05:21 AM | Comments (19)

June 19, 2008

Sebastian's Voodoo

I mentioned this short film before, but now it's actually viewable.

You HAVE to watch it until the end, the 4 minute film is so beautiful and amazing.

Watch it here

It's by an animation graduate student at UCLA.

Posted by jason on 07:47 PM | Comments (2)

June 04, 2008

Pretty cool situation

The assistant at Maguire Entertainment is an aspiring director, and he and I get along very well. I was psyched because today he sent me a short story he wants to shoot as a short film, asking my thoughts about it. I shared my notes on the idea, which he really appreciated.

And he wants me to collaborate with him on the screenplay for it. I'm excited about it for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the story itself is strong and cinematic. But also because it's always nice to find a creative match, and the assistant has read a couple of my screenplays and he obviously likes them enough to want me to work on one of his own projects.

I know it sounds weird, but whenever someone who isn't family or friend actually likes my writing, it's a special thrill.

Posted by jason on 03:58 AM | Comments (5)

May 19, 2008

Prince Caspian

Wowza, this was an intense movie. It was a much more emotional, darker, difficult-to-watch-film (in places) than the first... And I think better. Really, if you've seen it I'd like to know your thoughts. I very much enjoyed it, and am continually pleased with how well Walden and Disney and Andrew Adamson are bringing these books to the screen.

Hope it does well. I want this team to make all the books into films.

Posted by jason on 12:50 AM | Comments (2)

January 31, 2008


My outline pitch on the historical movie went very well. Michael had major changes and notes for everyone but me, and said my story was in very good shape. However, one thing he encouraged me to do was cut down on the flashbacks I was planning on writing.

I've since talked to him and told him I'm just not ready to give up these flashbacks yet, and I'd like to still give them a chance to work when I actually write the pages. He told me that's fine, and to go ahead and do that, that's what first drafts are for.

Anyway, I was wondering... how do you feel about flashbacks? I personally like them, and even though they are somewhat discouraged by those "in the know," I think they really work well in a lot of movies. And, of course, LOST (which starts again tomorrow).

So my question is: Do you like flashbacks? How do you think they can be used well, and how do you think they are used badly?

Posted by jason on 02:24 AM | Comments (10)

January 30, 2008

Film Literacy

I'm embarrassed to say that I took a film literacy assessment the other day in my 434 workshop... and came up lacking. There are a ton of foundational films which I've never seen. Anyway, I have the list now and I need to add them to my Netflix queue and try to make amends. I'll post the list after the link if you want to watch them too.

Update: If you want to see what my queue looks like now, so you can know what order I'm watching them in, click here. There are also films in there which are recommended by Howard Suber, who is teaching a "film structure" class based on patterns he's detected in 80 of the most memorable films. Also, I was prescribed a certain order for the films below, a first tier that I needed to see first.

I'm bolding the ones I've already watched.

Part One: English Language Films

A Clockwork Orange
All About Eve
Annie Hall
Ball of Fire
Blazing Saddles
Blow Up
Bonnie & Clyde
Boyz ‘N the Hood
Breaking Away
Broadcast News
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Carnal Knowledge
Citizen Kane
City Lights
The Conversation
Die Hard
Double Indemnity
Dr. Strangelove
Easy Rider
E.T. The Extra Terrestrial
The Exorcist
Frankenstein (1931)
The French Connection
The General (Buster Keaton)
The Godfather, parts 1 and 2
Gone With the Wind
The Graduate
The Grapes of Wrath
A Hard Day’s Night
High Noon
His Girl Friday
The Hustler
In the Company of Men
It Happened One Night

The Lady Eve
The Last Picture Show
Little Cesar
Local Hero
Mad Max
McCabe and Mrs Miller
The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek

The Maltese Falcon
Mean Streets
My Darling Clementine
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Ordinary People
The Postman Always Rings Twice
The Producers (1968)
Pulp Fiction
Raging Bull
Reversal of Fortune
Red River
Rosemary’s Baby
The Searchers
Sense and Sensibility
Sex, Lies and Videotape
The Silence of the Lambs
Singin’ in the Rain
Some Like it Hot
Stranger Than Paradise
Sullivan’s Travels
Sunset Boulevard
Terms of Endearment
The Third Man
Three Days of the Condor
Tom Jones
Touch of Evil
2001: A Space Odyssey

The War of the Roses
When Harry Met Sally
White Heat
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wollf?
The Wild Bunch
Working Girl
Wuthering Heights (1939)

Part 2: Foreign Language Films
The Battle of Algiers
Beauty and the Beast (Cocteau)
The Conformist
The Damned
Grand Illusion

8 ½
The 400 Blows
Jean de Florette/Manon of the Springs
La Dolce Vita
La Femme Nikita
La Strada
La Terra Trema
Open City
Scenes from a Marriage
Seven Beauties
The Seven Samurai
The Seventh Seal
Shoot the Piano Player
Swept Away (1975)
Throne of Blood
The Wages of Fear
Wings of Desire
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

Posted by jason on 12:14 AM | Comments (24)

January 22, 2008


It's a fact of nature that people eventually get "used" to things, and something that may seem shocking and amazing at first will seem more mundane. As with drug doses, people will have to increase their dosage to get the same affect. This same dynamic works in movies... Take a look at the following numbers through the Rambo movies to see how they have to increase the violence each time in an attempt to break through the clutter.

From the Los Angeles Times
Dead and deader

When the newest "Rambo" movie opens later this week, there's going to be a lot of death and dying. So I got myself an early copy, watched it several times through, stopping and starting along the way,
By John Mueller

I: "First Blood" (1982)

II: "Rambo:

First Blood Part II"


III: "Rambo III"


IV: "Rambo"


Number of bad guys killed by Rambo with his shirt on





Number of bad guys killed by Rambo with his shirt off





Number of bad guys killed by Rambo no matter how attired





Number of bad guys killed by accomplices of Rambo acting on their own





Number of good guys

killed by bad guys





Total number of people killed





Number of people killed per minute





Time at which the first person is killed (mins:secs)





Number of people killed per minute from that point until the end of the film (not including the ending credits)





Sequences in which Rambo is shot at without significant result





Number of sequences in which good guys are tortured by bad guys





Number of sex scenes





Posted by jason on 03:44 PM | Comments (1)

December 03, 2007


Jason and I are rivals. Pure and simple. Anything I do, he has to do better (like growing a beard) anything he does, I have to do better (like graphic design).

So, jason posted his animation on here, and I felt inferior. I tried and tried, and finally I felt as though I had something I could offer as competition.


Posted by ian on 08:34 PM | Comments (5)

December 01, 2007

Another pitch

I have to start working on the script I'm going to write next quarter. Here's the pitch I have so far. Thoughts?

True Love Waits is a comedy about a young couple, JOSHUA and NIKKI (22), who are heavily invested in the Abstinence Only movement. They "do things the right way" and wait until marriage to have sex - only to find their "happily ever after" turn into a (metaphorical) "dark and stormy night." Joshua soon realizes that they aren't able to consummate their relationship until he "gets his heart's lust under control" to Nikki's satisfaction, but in the end what they both need to find is the true love they both desire.

Posted by jason on 01:13 PM | Comments (5)

November 30, 2007

My Pitch

so... tell me what you think. I have 2 minutes. It's supposed to pique your interest enough to make you want to ask questions. Does it do this?

Remember back for a moment, back to elementary school. Think back to the kid who wasn’t cool. Maybe it was you. Maybe it was the kid you ignored. But he was there. He was the one that peed his pants during music class, cried during recess, couldn’t catch the football during the big game.

Now imagine he goes home, and things don’t get any better.

A Well-Adjusted Boy is a drama about intellectually precocious 12 year old Laurent Winters, the son and primary test subject of a prominent child rearing expert, his mother Dr Jean Winters.

On one hand, he exists in a structured, emotionally barren world at home (His mother will only hug him for 5 seconds at the most, it’s timed on an egg timer, and only as a reward for good behavior.) And on the other hand, he barely survives in this chaotic lord of the flies 6th grade existence at school (Where he is, by his own admission, “not high on the social hierarchy.”)

This delicate balance is overwhelmed when he’s traumatically shamed at school, and finds no comfort from his mother at home, at this time when he really needs it. Laurent loses his carefully groomed, well-behaved disposition and makes a decision he knows his mother wouldn’t approve of. .. Because he needs to change.

With the help of his new – and only – friend, a free-spirited 12 year old girl named Talayah, he sets out on a quest to find the Right Reverend Cornelius, the famous Texas Televangelist... the only one who can turn his cold, distant mother into

the loving parent he’s always needed. Of course, as with any journey, they find much more.

Posted by jason on 07:04 PM | Comments (7)

November 28, 2007

Pitching next week

Our screenwriting instructor Paul Castro is arranging a "pitch session" where we have 2-3 minutes to pitch our script to "a mysterious guest." I have no idea who it could be, but he does have connections. I have to put my pitch together in the next couple of days, then know it well enough that I can deliver it while the rest of the class throws balled up pieces of paper at me...

Fun times.

Posted by elanyarts on 03:25 AM | Comments (4)


Go and see this movie. It's really very clever, well made, funny, and sweet. Perfectly cast... loved it. Hopefully it'll usher in more hand drawn animation. I love the Pixar stuff, but there is something about a great big 2D animated film that seems more epic and timeless. I still can't believe Disney discontinued the art form...

Posted by jason on 03:16 AM | Comments (4)

November 15, 2007

kitties by lyric

look what I found on my computer. my 8 year old daughter put it together just for fun. I had no idea she could even use keynote, the presentation program from Apple.

Posted by jason on 11:27 PM | Comments (8)

October 30, 2007

My Movie Poster

Our latest assignment was to create a movie poster for the screenplay we're writing in our class. here's mine.


Posted by jason on 02:33 PM | Comments (14)

June 13, 2007

Retro Band

So I just finished the first draft of my latest full length script, entitled Retro Band. It's a comedy. Definitely rated R.

If you want to read it, let me know.

ps. in case you're wondering, of the 5 full lengths I've completed so far, 3 are definite R's, and two are PGish. Of those Rs, 2 could probably be toned down to get PG-13.

One is a lost cause.

Posted by jason on 02:42 AM | Comments (19)

May 17, 2007

Filming BSF

We haven't had any updates because it's one of those situations where so many things are going on that you don't want to miss anything. But then we get nothing, so I'm just going to post something, anything, to give you an update.

This is going fantastically well, both for filming and personal enjoyment. We're getting excellent footage, really covering the concerts and the crowd and band so well. I can't wait to see the finished product when it's all edited and put together. I'm excited that we're doing this because the way the crowds here in Europe love boy sets fire is something you truly have to see to believe. Yes, I had been told they played to large crowds and everything, but some of these concerts have the most fanatical fans I've ever seen.

We're using a 2 camera setup on stage, and then we have our X Camera which is just for crazy extra footage where we don't mind so much taking a risk with it because it's a cheaper one. Want to carry a camera while you stage dive to see what it'll look like? Use the X Camera. Collin, Brett and I have all done this so far. Ian uses that camera when he's out in the audience alot and get some great shots. I was using it while people were landing on me. Seriously, the footage is just cool to watch.

Our days are so long because we sleep so little. In the last 72 hours, we had slept 6 hours. That included naps and nodding off in the car. Because of that, I think we feel like we've been gone for a month already.

Just some interesting things we've done so far: Slept in caves and started a bonfire in the woods in Nuremburg. (We are quite literally homeless over here). Walked 2 hours in the rain at the 4 in the morning in Zurich to find our hostel. (After walking an hour to and from the bar where everyone went after the show). Checked out the amazing fortress on a hill in Salzburg (and managed to make our driver go completely insane with anger because we took too long there and met him an hour late).

OK, that's it.

One more thing. Watching the way the crowd reacts to the band here makes us Look Machiners glow just a little with regret. Goodness it would be fun to be them.

Posted by jason on 04:57 AM | Comments (2)

April 12, 2007

Getting Admitted to UCLA's Masters Degree Program for Screenwriting

I'm mostly writing this so search engines can find it so prospective screenwriting students will know what the process is. I searched for it all the time while waiting and waiting and couldn't find an explanation of the process at all.

In November of 2005, I applied for the program. I didn't hear about an interview or anything, and in late April, 2006, I got an email that told me I had not been accepted. (April 19th to be exact).

I enrolled in their professional program, which is a feeder program for the MFA program. (Last year, I think 19 of the 24 people who got in had completed the professional program). Somehow, I lost track of the application date for the 2007 session, and didn't realize it until a little more than a week prior to the deadline. I asked my professional program professor for a letter of recommendation, but it was too soon in the program and he said he didn't have a feel for me enough to write one. He told me to wait and apply for the 2008 session. I didn't really want to do that.

Instead, I scrambled, wrote a full screenplay in a week, somehow got some letters written (thanks to Professor John Jebb from University of Delaware, Joe Kempista, owner of Elany Arts, and Heidi Banfer, a VP from Chase Bank, and then since I was already kind of thinking it was a lost cause, decided to do something really noticeable for my "Statement of Purpose," which is the freeform essay you have to submit.

Since I had written a statement of purpose the year previous and liked it - yet knew I didn't get in that year, I didn't quite know what to do. My purpose hadn't really changed much in the year. I still liked it and believed in it. So I thought... why not do something completely different? I sent them a roughed up message in a bottle. Bought a wine bottle, aged it, filled it with sand and grit, wrapped it in old vines. In it I put this crinkled old looking letter, written on a map that I created. I hand wrote the letter, a message from me trapped on the east coast, looking for a way to get to this mythical community I had heard of in UCLA, begging for assistance and rescue. I then also wrote out my previous statement and purpose and included it. I should have taken pictures of it. It actually looked pretty cool. I was happy with it, but at the same time knew it could be really risky, kind of ridiculous if it wasn't what they were looking for.

So I sent it by November 1st, and waited. And waited. In February I received a postcard from the UCLA MFA program. It had boxes on it that someone was supposed to check off to tell me if they'd received everything properly, or if they were still waiting on anything. NO boxes on the postcard were checked! It was COMPLETELY BLANK. There were no phone numbers to call. Every phone number I tried to call dumped me to an answering machine. I emailed addresses I found, and never got a response. The mystery of the blank postcard persists to this day. It made me very nervous, but I guess it was ok.

March arrived. I knew that decisions were communicated in April. I didn't know the timeline of the interview, but honestly I thought that they'd want to set up interviews at least a month before since I thought I'd have to go out to California and I thought they'd want to give me time to get out there, then they would need time to make the decisions too. March 17th arrived, and my wife and I decided that another year of failure was upon us. We were at peace with this, and thought, ok another year until we move to CA.

The next morning, at 4.19 AM I received this letter:

Dear Jason,

The UCLA Screenwriting Committee has reviewed your application and you are among a small group of candidates invited to a personal interview. From your application, I understand you live in Maryland. Is that correct? If so, we will be holding interviews in New York City on March 24th and would like to have the opportunity to meet with you in person.

Upon our receipt of your intention to attend, we will send you a specific meeting time and location.

David Whelan
Graduate Assistant to the Chairs

My mind was blown. I really thought it was too late for me, and here I was being set up for an interview just 6 days later. Wow. So I have my interview in New York. I didn't know what to wear. For a job interview, it's a suit. But I'm supposed to be the creative Hollywood writer here. I struggle with this, along with wondering how long the interview will run and whether I should have anything prepared to show them. Finally, I decide to just ask the guy who set up the interview. He answers:

Jason, Not a stupid question at all. Expect the interview to run 20-30 minutes; you do not have to have anything prepared. With regards to attire, as I understand it, it's not too formal. A suit and tie would be fine, maybe even a little too formal. It's safe to say that ripped jeans would probably be underdressed.

It lasts 20 minutes, and it's with Richard Walter and Hal Ackerman, two extremely nice men. It's a very comfortable talk. Prior to our interview, I get to talk to other prospectives as we wait in the hotel lobby. Every is very friendly, but I'm surprised to find out that the interviews had been communicated to us at wildly different times. One girl, from Maine, had found out about it 3 weeks previously. Another girl had 2 weeks notice. I had 6 days. One guy, another person from Maryland, had found out about it just 2 days before. Go figure.

In my interview, which I thought went extremely well, I was told I'd hear something from them in the "next couple of weeks." I interpreted that to mean... 2 weeks. So I waited and waited and waited for the next 2 weeks. Nothing.

An impending sense of doom settled on me slowly as the 2 weeks were up. My thinking was as follows, "They will surely tell the people who make it first. Since they are taking so long to tell me, I'm out." Finally, on April 10th, I just can't stand it anymore so I write to the person who set up the interview, telling him I wanted to make sure I hadn't missed a message. (Yes, that's pathetic, I know).

I received this message:

Hi Jason,

I do not know a confirmed date of when the decisions will be communicated, but I believe it will be soon. Wish I could be of more help!

As always, let me know if you have any further questions.

This comforts me to some extent, because I think... Well maybe they haven't told anyone yet.

The very next day, April 11, I get this message in email:

April 11, 2007

Dear Mr. Latshaw:

Congratulations! It is with great pleasure that I wish to inform you that you have been recommended by the admissions committee for graduate study at UCLA.

Official action and notification regarding admission to UCLA is handled by Graduate Admissions. You should expect to receive notification from Graduate Admissions within a few weeks.

Please advise me by May 4, 2007 if it is your intention at this time to do your graduate work
at UCLA. Your notification informally will assist us in completing the process of students who will be attending.

Whew, sweet relief. And disbelief. I'm still in shock.

So there you have it, the dates and the process. Hope it helps. I would have loved to know it when I was going through it.

Posted by jason on 11:19 PM | Comments (10)

November 16, 2006

Vote for our Insomniac Movie

Hey all, please please please vote for our film here. Thanks, that is all.

Posted by jason on 06:10 PM | Comments (7)

November 11, 2006

Our submission

So we just submitted with 10 minutes to spare. This was actually harder then we expected, but we had a blast. I think our project could have been better, but considering the time it's pretty good.

We did a scary little movie. Based on a true story as told by none of then Josh Latshaw, that happened to him and his friends in the White Clay Creek Preserve.

Watch it here.

Posted by jason on 04:49 PM | Comments (8)

November 10, 2006

Insomniacs in action

Photo 594.jpg

Photo 586.jpg

Photo 590.jpg
Our New friend Justin (a.k.a. Jagang)

Photo 591.jpg

Photo 592.jpg
B.S. Webber

Photo 593.jpg

Photo 588.jpg
Jonah Rocking Out

Photo 589.jpg
The Real Creative Brains (and incredibly good looks)

Photo 596.jpg
The Dictator

Ps. This is ian posting this. That's why I'm in so many pictures.

Posted by jason on 11:05 PM | Comments (6)

November 02, 2006

The Insomnia Film Festival

Hey everyone. I had mentioned that Drew and I were kicking around the idea to participate in the Insomnia Film Festival, run by Apple, and it got some quick interest from a number of you.

So I think we're going to try to do it. On 11/10, Apple will send us 3 elements we must use to create a 3 minute short film. We then have 24 hours to write, film, edit, track, export, and upload that film. People vote on their favorites and the winners get Final Cut and Shake software (which I already have!) and 80 GB iPods. Each team can have 5 official members (the ones that actually win that stuff).

Now here's the problem, you have to be in college and at least 18 to be an official team member (ie, able to win the loot). I could sign up because I'm in that program with UCLA.

So here's the deal, if you are in college and older then 18 (Ian, I'm looking in your generally handicapped direction), go online and register under the team "Visual Mechanics."and then email me so I know you're part of the team. You need an Apple ID to register, so either sign up for one or use it if you already have it.

You'll also need to know:
Team Captain: Jason Latshaw
Team Captain Email: jason AT thelookmachine.com

If you aren't both of those things, you can still participate, you just can't be official. Just email me (jason at thelookmachine.com ) and we can start our planning.

(Note: I couldn't get the sign up to work on a PC, I had to use a Mac running Safari.)

Posted by jason on 12:07 PM | Comments (10)

October 13, 2006

pretty cool.

view this video on metacafe.

Posted by shane on 08:56 PM | Comments (2)

August 14, 2006

The Wilhelm Scream

Hey all, who knows about the Wilhelm Scream? Not the band, but rather the sound affect from the 50s that's been in countless movies since. That's right, a "scream" made by a character named Wilhelm in a movie from the 50s has been used in the Star Wars Trilogy, Indiana Jones movies, and many many others. Peter Jackson is a fan of the scream (which was labelled in the film archives at first as "man being eaten alive by an alligator"), and used it in King Kong and his LOTR movies.

Once you know to listen for it, it makes watching action films rather fun because it's very recognizable. And even though it sounds like an urban legend, it's true.

Posted by jason on 12:50 AM | Comments (5)

June 04, 2006

The Horrible Cook

Here is one of my finest home videos.

(here is the direct link)

So, how do you like it? Critics, now is your time to shine.

Posted by shane on 12:19 AM | Comments (8)

December 06, 2005

Another video Update

Hello everyone.

Here is another video. It is quite funny, I think. (Ian is the wonder filmographer, filmer... camera man. whatever. he is the one responsible for capturing this timeless jewel on tape, or gigabytes or something...)

There may be another version with audio sometime soon on here.

Does anyone know any good free video uploading sites?

well, without further adieu, here be a picture link for this fantabulous video:

Posted by shane on 12:42 AM | Comments (7)

November 30, 2005

Ian... Give Thanks

Okay, so here is a video of Ian.
It's not filmed so well...
The audio got deleted when I uploaded it. I'll try to find a diffreent uploading site on a Google search or something. I want you all to be able to hear the audio...


Posted by shane on 02:23 PM | Comments (13)

September 20, 2005


Well, the 3rd draft of my screenplay has been completed. I've sent it off to LA, and hopefully fame and fortune follows.

Realistically, thanks to all for the comments so far, I think Screenplay 3.0 is much better for it, and maybe it'll do something good for me.

If anybody would like to read it, email me at info@thelookmachine.com

Posted by jason on 11:15 PM | Comments (23)