Thursday, September 22, 2011


What a great blessing, having the opportunity to work and collaborate with an exceptional person like Neil Lisk. When ever he was on board each step of production benefited from his talent, professionalism, and heart.
Before a shooting schedule was even made Neil would have notes and ideas about tone, style, and ways to translate deeper meanings and themes cinematically. Once the locations were locked he would take pictures of each and every one, creating a detailed shot list. He’d then present a list of options, inclusive of what ‘glory’ shots could actually be afforded, always finding ways of transforming very little resources into what would appear to be much bigger productions on screen, even to the point of spending his own money on renting gear he thought would ad value to what the audience would see.
During production Neil dominated, first to arrive, last to leave, doing what ever it took, no matter how trivial, to keep things going. With very little time and even less money Neil was the ‘go to’ guy for making decisions when there was no time to hash things out. He could see the entire scope of a scene in his head, instinctively knowing how to get the coverage needed while never having an issue with the line. Very active in blocking, Neil would carefully watch actors run through their actions, figuring out all the necessary set ups. When time was at an absolute minimum, Neil would come up with a way of shooting entire scenes in just a master, while still keeping it visually interesting. When framing, Neil would spend as much time as necessary looking into the monitor with the production designer, moving props around until the picture looked absolutely perfect. Camera movement was another thing Neil was a stickler for, but only as it served the story. Every push, pull, or dolly move had to actually mean something.
Neil’s technological knowledge was without question, as was his ability to do multiple jobs at once. He brought a certain respect to the set, never making a final decision until it was sanctioned by the director, keeping criticisms and opinions only for those who needed to hear them. He was the first to admit he was wrong, never complained or had an ‘attitude’, even when doing something he didn’t totally agree with. Actors loved how Neil would always give them encouragement and space. His energy and professionalism being contagious. 
Once principal photography was wrapped Neil would continue working, sitting through rough cuts, providing notes and advice during the entire editing process. Always a cheerleader during horrible early string outs, Neil was usually the one who’d find a solution for scenes that didn’t quite play out like they were on the page. “There’s a great little movie in here mate, don’t give up”. He’d sit through every color timing session, offering insight as well as an incredible eye. We’d think we have picture lock and then... eight more pages of notes from Neil Lisk.
Neil wasn’t perfect, he could be too logical, by the book, and occasionally drive people crazy with his perfectionism. But over all, Neil Lisk's about as close to perfect as a person could be.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Dances With Films, now in its 14th year, renowned as one of the last truly independent film festivals, champions the unflinching spirit at the very core of the independent film scene. While the vast majority of film fests rely heavily on celebrity, DWF relies on the innovation, talent, creativity and sweat equity that has always revolutionized the entertainment industry. And that reliance continues to prove successful with alumni moving on to write and direct celebrity-studded vehicles, star in blockbuster movies and network series, produce multi-million dollar films and create hit TV shows, even OSCAR® nominees... In a world of formulaic, homogenized film festivals Dances With Films continues to break the rules and bring you tomorrow’s stars today.
This was a really fun festival where someone from NoA participated at least one of the daily events every day. We had a lot of fun watching the movies, attending the panels, going to brunches, parties, but mostly meeting all the great people involved!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Santa Cruz is a pretty amazing unique little funky beach town, with bitchin’ beaches, a rad boardwalk, vibrant down town, and an open minded population that looks and acts like no other. Just a cool laid back ‘tripy’ vibe. The perfect place to screen our flick!
Lord and Lady Deal arrive the first day of the fest on a Monday(we screen on Saturday). “You’re here, so early?” Real Deal replies “We’re here to work”. And work they do for the next two days as Lady P and Real Deal promote, promote, PROMOTE... also making nice with the friendly people at the festival. Daily calls come into LA, reporting press articles and radio interviews.
I arrive on Thursday, meet all the fine folks at the festival, and then am immediately put to work... stickers go on cards to be handed out, posters are put up, and people are talked into coming to the show....
We’re pretty excited, but there’s still a downside. Hardly any pre-sale tickets have been sold, making Deal and I wonder ‘will the whole damn audience be standing up for the Q & A?’.  Lady P is extremely confident that is NOT going to happen.
We head to Stazz’s acoustic show at the Ugly Mug in Soquel. Everyone is blown away by her talent and we pimp our screening for the next night.
Friday rolls around and more of the cast and crew roll into Santa Cruz. Chris, Christopher, Sam, Tabetha, Bob, Gint, Gina, Santino, Tony... 
Screening time approaches, the Real Deal and I do a projector test, and then:
People start showing up. Lots of them. Guess people in Santa Cruz don’t usually buy pre-sale tickets for movies. We even see some of the people from Stazz’s show at the Ugly Mug.
The flick plays amazingly well, with the audience positively reacting through out. Q and A lasts about twenty minuets.  Cast and crew then hang out at the Crepe Place across the street, recapping the evening.
Saturday is the last day of the fest and Lord, Lady Deal, and myself have wonderful parting conversations with all the friendly folk we met before heading back on to LA, ready for our next film festival adventure. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Night of the Alien viewer reviews

Being a volunteer/helping out with hospitality coordination I went into the theatre knowing that a ton of members of the cast were going to be there. Hearing them cheer and clap during the beginning credits started the movie off with good energy and foreshadowed a film worth the excitement... Night of the Alien was an lol hilarious riot of a stoner yet identity seeking adventure! The story-line kept me interested and intrigued as to what would happen next and never failed to keep me surprised, laughing, and even grooving to the soundtrack. As over over the top (and even out of this world) as some of the characters were, its messages and depiction of human nature, love, and adventure seeking remained down to earth, realistic, and spot on for the demographic it represented. As a young adult myself I could personally relate to its identity (and love) seeking main characters. AWESOME JOB GUYS!
great movie and the whole concept was well performed and very entertaining loved it.
Totally blown away. Awesome flick!
Loved this movie! I went in without knowing what to expect and was blown away. Great acting, storyline, and dialog was awesome. Great job to the entire cast and crew!!!
Wow! What an amazing experience!!! Such a roller coaster ride of crazy characters, insane situations, incredible production value and a thoroughly exciting story. I loved it!
Completely outside the box, fantastical fun. Brilliant job by all involved.
Now that was a great road trip. Thoroughly entertaining performances by a great ensemble of actors. Laughed all the way through. Would love to go on that trip again!
OK, it's a future cult classic like Fear and Loathing in LV. But why should I care about these losers? And, yes, they are human beings and I was probably a boring stoner at that age too.
A fun and quirky movie with elements Cheech and Chong in its drug references and the chaos of those on the edges of society but with a lot of heart which comes through the great performances of the cast.
What a ride!! The characters, the music and the story were epic! I got to see it again
Ouch. It's been a long time since I've been physically angry with a movie for wasting two hours of my life. Verging on incompetent. Or maybe I just needed to be seriously ripped ... which clearly the filmmakers were.
A trip-e, entertaining, laugh-out-loud ride that I would like to take again! Amazing sound track, awesome cinematography, well developed characters and great fun!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


It’s cold and raining when Club Stencel picks me up at the Kansas City International Airport. Club rightly being a bit freaked about a family emergency and might have to be leaving town at any moment. Even still, he’s got a ton ‘o micro brewed beer and ready for a good time.

We drive to the KC film fest’s fearless leader Fred Andrews’ pad, where we’ll be spending the night. Fred, Club, and I have a film-festaculiar conversation and then head on over the the AMC Mainstreet Theater Movie Palace... and palace it is, where even the bathrooms look like the belong in a cinema sultan’s crib.

Club and I check out Don Lewis’ doc ‘Worst in Show’ about the worlds ugliest dogs and it’s pretty darn entertaining. The sound and picture here look amazing! But then again, it is like the most technology advanced theater in the world.

Festival platinum player Club Stencel just happens to be good pals with Don, of course, and who along with fellow movie mavin Mark Bell, break bread with us at Chipotle. We watch another doc, then along with festival jurist Marceil Wright, head on over to:

The Flying Saucer Drought Emporium: Oh man, there’s about as many beer choices here as there are food items on Jerry’s Famous Deli’s menu. From Delirium Nocturnum to Flying Dog Raging Bitch to Ommegang Belgian Pale Ale, and many others orders abound. I, am just sipping a coke. Tim De Paepe and Tom Horton drop by, both ordering cokes too, and the cinema wars begin. ‘Observe and Report rules’.... ‘no it doesn’t’... ‘Death Proof is way better than Planet Terror’.... ‘no it’s not’.... ‘Pulp Fiction is Tarantino’s best’... ‘no way Jackie Brown totally is’.... this goes on till we close the place at two in the morning.

Next morn Club discovers he’s got a couple more days before his family business so we travel to the Bottoms for breakfast at the Genessee Royal, this converted gas station with amazing food. John Nirenberger and De Paepe arrive and the conversation turns to, what else? Movies.

The Kid Friendlies arrive from LA and we drive out of the city to have some BBQ at Sneed’s. Next up is:

The screening, where there’s more people than expected, being this was sort of a work in progress ‘special screening’ type thing. The movie looks great and the Q&A goes pretty well.... I really have to keep reminding myself this is a movie that needs to ‘sink in’.

Next day is pretty much more eating in and around KC before going to a screening of Michael Biehn’s ‘Victim’. The crown jewel of the festival. Biehn and wife/co-star Jennifer Blanc do a long interview with tastemaker Jeff Goldsmith for his podcast, which is informative and interesting. I wander back to the hotel room sometime after one in the morning, only to discover:

Club Stencel has a wild party raging, which keeps right on raging till hotel security shuts it down a bit after three in the morning. But that doesn’t even stop party master Club, who takes the good times to another location, breaking up sometime after six AM.

On very little sleep the next morning Club and I head on over to the filmmakers brunch where there’s a Southern style spread that’s pretty darn tasty. Turns out the movie did do some ‘sinking in’ because lots of people are talking to me about it in a great way... unsolicited.

Later that night the KFs and I see a pretty interesting shorts program. And then it’s off to the awards where Don Lewis’ ‘Worst in Show’ wins best documentary.

Last day in KC has me and the Friendlies hanging out at Tim De Paepe’s super cool condo pad, inclusive of a state of the art screening room. Right as we are about to head back to LA we see a resident of De Paepe’s said condo complex stuck behind a broken parking lot gate. A young lawyer who need to be getting to the court house ASAP. So we give him a ride and along the way asks ‘what are you doing in KC?’ Once he hears the name of the movie we brought he says ‘that was playing at the AMC downtown, right?’... ‘Yes’.... ‘I read something about that movie’...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Stoner space ships

Some of the early alien space ship ideas by CGI artist Robert Rossoff.

Monday, January 24, 2011


The initial spark for musing Night of the Alien was simply a not so simple question.

“What if you picked up a hitchhiker, dressed like a B-movie alien, who claimed to actually BE an alien, and never once let up on that schtick?”

Taking it a bit further...

“What if this ‘alien’ was constantly spewing out universal truths and did something ‘kinda’ magical?”... kinda

Would you be driving around some crazy person, or might this ‘person’ actually be... an alien?


Friday, January 21, 2011


Is there an upside to making a movie on a budget of air? Well, there’s no crushing deadlines or ‘investor’ telling you what you can and can’t do, so can just let the creative risk taking fly... as one is able.

Downside? Well, there’s no investor keeping you on a crushing deadline so the flick can actually get finished as your services ‘donated’ continually keep getting doled out according to time and convenience.

Thus, a little production can get frustratingly stuck in the purgatory of waiting... a few more music cues here, bit ‘o audio sweetening there, more mixing, new van sound, roto scoping, digital face beatifying, final screening ready outputting...

Thank god this coming February the clouds finally appear to be opening to the heavens, putting that final completion clearly in sight.... or is it?

Thus far every set back been a some sort of blessing, so?

Fingers crossed...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Bieber Theory

A middle aged plain as can be English woman, living alone with a cat named Pebbles, or is she?... Plain as can be...

There better singers than Susan Boyle? Sure.

But the right story, at the right time, with some viral exposure, and talent... equals phenomenon... sometimes...

Anyone can blow up at anytime...

Ask that kid from Canada... making youtube videos... and then....

The speed of exposure... can’t argue with results...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

More on the Music

Eric Wolford, AKA DJ Wolfie, explains his thought process and state of mind for scoring Night of the Alien’s clothing store scene.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Kardashian Theory

Doesn’t matter what one does, if anything. The masses just gotta know who the heck you are. That’s it! Oh yeah. This, is the society in which we now live.

Exposure trumps content, makes sense, right? Who isn’t enchanted by the antics of Snooki? Google Snoo... and then... it knows... even before Snoop Dog... SNOOP DOG!

Is the secret to success really just as simple as having nothing more than a kinda gross, yet engaging personality plastered all over a cable reality show? Maybe.

What would Ted Williams, that homeless dude with a rich golden voice, STILL be doing if not for that viral video?

Yes, it’s true. The surest way of making it is putting every effort imaginable into getting your brand out... worrying about any actual content... well, later. Brand recognition, those talented folks able to pull that one off are entertainment’s true heros.

Content without exposure is like clapping in the forest, if no one’s listening... are you really clapping? If no one’s noticing, are you really entertaining?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

the CGI guy

Robert Rossoff chats about his thoughts on creating the CGI for Night of the Alien as well as his approach to movie making. Robert's visual effect credits also include Star Trek, Shrek, and Alice in Wonderland.

Friday, January 7, 2011


Waiting.... to see where and when this flick is gonna screen. Yeah, there’s still be a bit ‘o posting yet to be tweaked, but nothing that can’t be rocked once there’s a call to action.

This is fursure the roughest stage of makin’ a movie... Getting a gang of creative types bonded for long hard hours of throwing down hard core. Wrangling semi-exotic locations and gear. Not a prob... Making sweet music, finding and clearing bitchen tunes, a bad ass opening title sequence, roto scoping and compositing till the cows come home. Done that.

What we can’t do is know the tastes of all those gosh darn festival programers, of which one will say “Why this is the movie I’ve been looking for”. He or she is there... somewhere... sipping a pikes roast, watching the clouds go by, sleeping in.

So we wait. For that next chess move...