We Did It!

WE DID IT! Happy New Year to all! May 2012 be YOUR year. We set a lofty goal yesterday – to reach $2000.00 in funding for TLAU Episodes 4 – 6, and we not only succeeded, we exceeded! That’s a great way to ring in the New Year!

Let’s give a giant cheer and a shout out to our first wave of 2012 TLAU backers (in alphabetical order):

Gary Anderson

Katie and Matt Armistead

Reed Boyer

Marneen Lynne Fields

James Gale

Sandra de Helen

Christine Koehler

Marilyn Lower

Liza Martz

Pattie Mulderig

Katia Nizic

Liz Ross

Seth Ruffer

Paul Singleton

Don Shirey

Seth Ruffer

Thanks to each and everyone of you, WE MADE GOAL!

We’ve still got quite a road ahead of us… but we are definitely off to a start.

Next goal? We need to double this amount by Thursday, January 5. Can we do it? YES! With your help.

Here’s a couple of ideas for you – throw a TLAU fundraiser! Are you a great cook or chef? Have a fundraising soiree! Do you frequent a local restaurant or pub? Talk to the owners and see if they will host a fundraising night, donating 30% of sales to TLAU. Are you involved in theatre? Have a staged reading of plays, and donate the proceeds… the possibilities are endless!

Check back later today, when we’ll be announcing our first TLAU Contest! Oh, is it a goody!

Remember, it takes a village to produce a film, and we’re so happy to have you as members of our tribe. So let’s make goal, and have some Bloody. Sexy. Fun!

xo

anne

Episode Three: Let’s Do Lunch

In Episode Three, Beth gets the chance of a life time when Alex arranges for her to audition for an A-list power broker, and Ted, a lonely park ranger, comes to the aid of an ethereal young woman on top of the Hollywood sign.

With Justin Baker, Jessica Nicole Webb, Erik Kowalski, Allen Marsh, Marcia French, David Stanford and Kendra Munger.

Original score by Brent Heflin McHenry.

“A Story Forever” courtesy Mike Peralta.

To learn more about the legend of Peg Enstwistle, click here.

Winds of Change

I’m viewing the final cut of Episode Three, Let’s Do Lunch. The launch was delayed by Santa Ana winds, which roared through L.A. like one of King Lear’s storms, downing trees and triggering massive power outages some of which are just now being resolved.

It’s an odd feeling, watching something that you have crafted, come to life. I created this world… and yet, I find myself worried for those who live in it.

I want to tell Jimmy to go easy; to savor this time with Beth, for there may not be another. I want to hold Alex’s hand and lead him out of his dark state. His deal with the devil may prove to be too much for him.

I long to stand with Peg, all alone, in the dark, and help her to find her way out of that horrible place… and I wish that I could give Ted comfort. I want to ease his pain, the unbearable isolation of being all alone…

…instead I plunge headfirst into pages, into new chapters of these character’s lives. I walk the lonely streets with Caim. I know the depth of pain that resides within his heart. I watch Serafina as she returns to the only life she knows, as she once again dances to the beat of her tortured tango with Rocco. I’ve been away from my characters during this final push-through to post, and I long for them to wrap me in an embrace.

 

Six Degrees of Separation

“I read somewhere that everybody on this planet is separated by only six other people. Six degrees of separation between us and everyone else on this planet. The President of the United States, a gondolier in Venice, just fill in the names. I find it extremely comforting that we’re so close. I also find it like Chinese water torture, that we’re so close because you have to find the right six people to make the right connection… I am bound, you are bound, to everyone on this planet by a trail of six people.” – John Guare

Ouisa’s musings from John Guare’s extraordinary play, Six Degrees of Separation, perfectly articulate the journey that has been – and continues to be – the creation of They Live Among Us. There has been an odd synchronicity surrounding the project; glorious at times, at others, unsettling, as if unseen forces were at work.

I experienced two such incidents this week. In one, I was given the opportunity to bring to closure a traumatic incident from my past,
through the chance encounter of an old acquaintance.

I consider this a gift. A chance to heal. Bit by bit, one step at a time.

In the other incident, I sat dumbstruck as worlds collided within my pages.

I had written Episodes 4 – 6, and was executing a rewrite as I moved on towards 7 – 9. Episode 4 opens where 3 leaves off, with Peg and Ted in the Hollywood Hills. Peg was recounting the events leading up to her suicide: I was with… the worst sort of people. It was a party. They were… there were things done that night, terrible things. I remember I ran into the night. They chased after me, calling. I ran up to the sign… it was so very high, I thought if I could just climb up there, if I could just escape…

One of my rituals is to jog Lake Hollywood, then hike up the hills under Wolf’s Lair, eventually coming out onto Mulholland Drive at Castillo del Lago. Both structures are among my favorite in the City of Angels; the latter was once owned by doomed star Rudolph Valentino.

I wondered if it was possible for the party to have been there that night. I wondered who owned Castillo del Lago at that time; if, indeed the residents were the worst sort of people.

I decided to research the property. I skimmed through real estate listings and acquisition records. Then I stumbled across an article that almost brought me to my knees.

In 1932, the same year that poor Peg took her infamous swan dive into oblivion, Castillo del Lago was vacant. The residents of the nearby community of Beachwood Canyon would traverse the hills to the abode, using it as an impromptu community center. Countless parties were held there; some family affairs, others of a decidedly more debauched nature.

In the center of the article were the reminiscings of an old man, who was a boy during those parties. His sister attended many a midnight soiree at Castillo del Lago; he remembered being jealous of her adventures there, and how he dreamed of one day owning the estate.

His name was Milt. Milt Entwistle. Peg’s younger brother.

And so, the journey continues…

The Story Begins

Today is All Soul’s day. What a serendipitous date to premier Episode 1 – “Pull My Strings” of They Live Among Us.

You’ll meet Craig, a guy who is having a really bad day. You’ll watch Jimmy and Beth exchange not-so-secret glances, and you’ll hear Caim and Buer as they begin their eternal discussion… and you’ll meet Lillith. A lovely stranger – from a very strange land.

Original music by Brent Heflin McHenry

“Mary Annette”  courtesy of The Hushdown

The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n. – John Milton, Paradise Lost

Like what you see and want to see more? Support our Kickstarter campaign for Episodes 4-6!

Moments of Grace

“I don’t believe in stories with happy endings; I believe in moments of grace.” ~ Todd Field, AMC Shoot Out

I’ve been thinking a great deal about this quote, as post enters its final stages for Episodes 1 – 3 of They Live Among Us.

Moments of grace. What the characters – supernatural and mortal – are seeking. What I – as a writer, a filmmaker, a human being – am seeking. Moments of grace.

We live in ungraceful times; we are culturally conditioned to judge a man not by his actions, but by the amount of money he makes. Profit is our deity; we feed off of the misery of others through war-profiteering, loan-shark banking and depriving the impoverished of healthcare. An infant dies in its mother’s arms because the truckload of grain that relief organizations sent to her camp was hijacked and resold for profit. Churches build towering gilt monoliths worth hundreds of millions of dollars – and these structures cast giant shadows on Skid Row. Victims of rape are murdered by their families, for their victimization is seen as an admission that they are the guilty ones. Children are bought and sold – traded like junk bonds – within the sex-trade industry.

We know this, of course. We hear it on the nightly news… but we refuse to listen. Instead of exploring the human crisis that is Darfur, we turn our attention towards the Jersey Shore. We do anything, everything to drown out this influx of data, for the shame and guilt that we would feel if we were to open our hearts and our minds to the human suffering that surrounds us would be more than the soul could bear.

It was not without trepidation that I began this project. I knew that I would be taken to very dark and painful places; and yet, I also knew that I would experience moments of grace… and that is pwhat I experience as I witness post: beings as they battle demons, literal and figurative, while strugglthe in the place that is the City of Angels… and seek moments of grace. Dark emotions and conflict lurk just beneath the surface; scenes are taut, whittled down to what is most primal and essential. A killer seeks true love. A priest ministers to demons. A lonely man loves a ghost. An angel yearns for a prostitute.

Moments of anguish… enveloped by moments of grace.

Worlds Collide

Saturday night marked the final day of shooting Episodes 1 – 3 of They Live Among Us.

I sat in a corner and watched Lucian and Beliala as they stripped Beth of everything. They were voracious in their need to rob her of her humanity; their lust for her flesh was wanton. They fed on her fear – and then, they fed on her. I wondered how long their hunger would be sated by this act… who would be next?

Caim and Buer bid one another adieu in front of the Paradise, and went their separate ways. I followed Caim with the stealth of a spy as he made his way through the mean streets of Hollywood. He passed a street… and stopped in his tracks. I turned to see what had garnered his attention, and there she was. A prostitute, clad in a sheer midriff blouse and the plaid skirt of a Catholic school girl. Serafina. She strode with determination, as if she worked her territory by sheer will-power alone.

A man appeared in front of her – Rocco. Deep in the throes of a cocaine high, he was jumpy, paranoid. An argument began, an age-old squabble over money… only this time something darker had entered the equation. Rocco erupted; violence spewed forth from him like ash from Vesuvius. He beat Serafina; he kicked her on the ground. His rage had turned him into a feral animal; he was like a man possessed…

…and all the while Caim stood by, watching, as he had countless of lifetimes before… only this time, something within him snapped. He bested Rocco; with one swift blow he knocked him into unconsciousness. How he resisted killing him, I do not know. He gathered Serafina into his arms and soared into the night sky, towards refuge.

I peered around a corner in Caim’s warehouse loft. It was not the trendy downtown loft of the self-aware hipsters, instead, Caim’s lair was a decrepit, aged building of glass and steel and stone. Caim carried Serafina gently towards his bed. He ministered to her wounds; he permitted himself the luxury of touching her face – a secret, stolen act that he could only execute while she was not conscious, for with such contact comes great danger. He waited for her to wake – and she did, filled with hurt, distrust and shame. He showed her mercy; he pledged to take care of her – and wanted nothing in return. I sensed his hidden anguish; how carefully he concealed his humiliation when he realized that she did not remember him – but how could she? I longed to comfort him, to whisper that everything would be alright – but I did not, for I could not tell if that was the truth or a lie. I still do not known which it is.

Caim left. When Serafina woke, there was food, and a desperate communication to her soul: an azalea blossom. She held the flower, and I saw her hand tremble. The whispers deep inside her had begun. She left – ran, actually, like a thief, into the night, towards all she knew. She ran home to Rocco.

I trailed behind Father Buer as he ministered to a homeless man – another fallen angel driven mad. As he and Caim argued about Caim’s contact with Serafina, a movement on the periphery of my vision caught my attention. I turned focus and found myself gazing upon a homeless man. He was not an actor. He slept in filth in an alley near St. Joseph’s Place; the stench of urine was unmistakable. It was cold outside, and wet – a thick marine layer had enveloped us in its water-logged grasp. The man had blanketed himself with newspapers in an effort to banish the chill. I wanted to go to him… who was he? Certainly, at one time, he had a name. He had once been somebody’s son, somebody’s lover, somebody’s friend. How far he had fallen from grace…

…but I did not approach him. I waited by my car after the last shot, making small talk, smiling, seemingly nonchalant, while inside I was weeping, for I was thinking of all that I had seen that night… and I fervently wished that I was a different person, one that was more beautiful. More brave. One that had the courage to sit with the fallen.