A Decade of Following A Dream

Wow, so the beginning of a new year is upon us which usually calls for reflection anyway, but I'm coming up on another milestone also...
10 years of living in Los Angeles.

On January 9th of 2008 my dad and I flew to LA and in the days following I began a semester long film program called the Los Angeles Film Studies Center. 

Since then basically a third of my life has happened, right? I thought I'd make a list of some memorable moments, in sort of chronological order...

- Directing a short film featuring Justin Grant Wade aka Steve Holt! from Arrested Development
- Background acting (aka being an extra) on shows like House and Criminal Minds and (the newer versions of) 90210 and Melrose Place, rubbing elbows with Nick Kroll and Dave Franco and Jerry O'Connell. One time when I was an extra Jesse Tyler Ferguson strolled up and said I looked familiar then we had a nice chat!
- Writing a handful of direct-to-DVD movies with religious themes and African American casts (anyone see Nora's Hair Salon 3: Shear Disaster?!)
- Stumbling into a career in producing reality TV, starting at the (very, very) bottom
- Working on over 100 episodes of A&E's Intervention
- Caring for my first dog
- Meeting and writing for Orlando Brown and Chingy and other people of note! One time Orlando took me to Chili's in Northridge to discuss a sitcom pilot we wrote together. Another time I was introduced to Jamie Foxx and he was not impressed...
- Pitching to Funny Or Die, taking sketch comedy class at UCB, guesting on podcasts and YouTube shows
- Having our first son!! Being a stay at home dad during the day and working at night
- Telling Shane West that I'm a big fan, running into Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller at The Grove right before seeing Forgetting Sarah Marshall
- Seeing awesome comedy at UCB with Ash: Judd Apatow, Jonah Hill, Aziz, Dragon Boy Suede, Brett Gelman, Reggie Watts, Charlyne Yi, The Birthday Boys, Paul Rust and Neil Campbell, Kristen Schaal, Jeff Garlin, John Ross Bowie, etc, etc
- Steadily working for 10 years in the field that I studied in high school and college without having to take a non-industry side job ever
- Producing sketch comedy videos that got featured on the front page of Funny Or Die
- Writing a feature length movie that was shot in Tokyo
- Writing two YA novels, the first of which getting optioned to be developed into a movie or tv show
- Having our second son!! 
- Making new friends and keeping the ones that mean the most

I don't know what the future holds. I'm still writing constantly. Book 3 is in the works. I have sitcom specs and feature scripts and all kinds of stuff I want to get made. 

So here's to 10 more years in LA?

Pete Reads: Catcher In The Rye

I had a funny thought when I saw the movie Gravity.

I mean, the thought itself wasn't that funny, but it was funny that I had it while watching Gravity, you'll see what I mean. But let me first set the scene: I was a little buzzed and I was in the movie theater 100% alone. It was like a tipsy private screening for just me! It was awesome. I like to see movies alone and this was as alone as you can get this side of an extinction level event. I was going to say zombie apocalypse but if a swarm of zombies burst into the theater while I was watching Gravity that would not be enjoyable in the least!

I watched Gravity and loved it. Afterwards I was marveling at what humans are capable of (still buzzed, can you tell?). First, people go into space, that's intense, good for them (astronauts) and us (person-kind) and U.S. (USA! USA!). Second, the filmmaking was pretty incredible. I was like, well, they must have filmed that in space, that was a documentary, George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are astronauts... sexy astronauts...

It got me thinking that yes, this is a very good modern movie, but there are so many incredible works of film, literature, music, PAINTINGS, for goodness sake!! I need to step up my game and take in the best art that I can. We only have so much time on this Earth, do I want to spend any of it watching the 4th Final Destination movie for the 3rd time!? (The answer to that question is yes by the way, so, bad example, but you get my point).

Pete, why are you telling me this? you may be thinking. And I would respond that that was my roundabout way of explaining why I just read Catcher In The Rye for the first time. It's a classic, I didn't have to read it in high school, and I've heard about it a bunch but I didn't even know what it was about. All I knew was that comedian/podcaster/actor/etc Moshe Kasher titled his memoir of his tumultuous teen years "Kasher In The Rye." And also there's that joke in The Good Girl when Jake Gyllenhaal (by the way just spelled that right on the first try, blammo) tells Jennifer Anniston that he's named after Catcher In The Rye and she says "What's your name? Catcher?" 

Also Ash owns the book and it was sitting around the house lookin' all fine and I just hadta read it.

I was delighted when I began Catcher In The Rye. I love Holden Caulfield's voice and the style with which he's written. In hindsight I've read that teens identify with his worldview, which I sort of get, but reading him as a 30-year-old I thought he was immature and spoiled and sheltered. His descriptions of people and events were hilarious. Since I didn't know the 'plot' of the book I kept waiting for the story to kick in but it never does and I was still along for the meandering ride.

Overall I give it 4 out of 5 Catcher's Mitts. Very enjoyable.

Shooting the Book Trailer

Last weekend I shot a book trailer for The Happenstances at the Yellow County Community Swim and Racquet Club the Summer Before Last.  

First and foremost, big, big thank yous to Rick Bickerstaff, Jason Marsh, and Marc Femenella for helping me with this project.

I work a minimum of 10 hours a day, plus (not to sound like "The Californians" but) I live in the valley and my office is in Santa Monica so that adds a bit of a commute on either end of that.  And I ordered some awesome lifeguard shorts for the shoot that hadn't come yet (and still haven't by the way).  So Friday night came around and there were still miles to go before I slept.  I stopped at Smart & Final on my way home from work to get snack bar-esque supplies.  Then I ran by Target to get replacement red shorts to stand in for the waylaid pair.

Finally I got home and it was time to cook.  

I cooked late-ish into the night.

I was the Walter White of fried foods.

I dipped into my own supply though...

Here were just a few of the props:

The next morning I rose early and drove down to the wonderful Redondo Beach.  Rick and his family were very generous with their time, their home, and their baby who is a delight.  The location was great for what I needed to shoot.

Jason brought some badass equipment and his bad self.  

And basically the shoot was a few bros bro-ing down by the pool.  

Beautiful weather, good food, great footage shot.

And I even got in front of the camera for a little thing that I'm excited to see how it turned out...

This weekend or next Marc will be cutting a couple things together and I'll release them as my book's release date approaches.

So far so many people have helped in making this dream come true, I appreciate it.

First Attempt

The Happenstances at the Yellow County Community Swim and Racquet Club the Summer Before Last was the second screenplay I ever tried to write.  I would sit in my classes at Towson and brainstorm scenes for it then go back to my dorm and plunk away at my Costco-bought desktop computer's keyboard into just a Microsoft Word document.

My first attempt at a screenplay was called Worth a Try, but the Word Doc was just called "First Attempt" because I didn't have the courage to actually let myself pretend I was actually writing a movie.  It was just an attempt, an experiment.  I loved movies so much that I couldn't imagine fooling myself into thinking that I could write one.

But I wrote it, and it may have been a little short, and cliche, and it was definitely too autobiographical for anyone to probably care, but I left the document titled "First Attempt" when I gave it to my friend to read.  He thought the script was pretty good, but suggested I change the title, First Attempt wasn't that compelling.  I said "Yeah, it's called Worth a Try, I don't know why uh, it says "First Attempt" on there..."

My second attempt was the brashly titled The Happenstances at the Yellow County Community Swim and Racquet Club the Summer Before Last.  It started as the kernel of: how would I feel if I graduated college with a film degree and then immediately went back and worked at my summer job and exploded from there into the collage it is today.