Building Bridges at San Diego Comic-Con + “The Two Rays”

Building Bridges at San Diego Comic-Con + "The Two Rays"

Well, right now I’m on the West Coast attending the “convention of conventions,” San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC). This is the biggest show of the year for me. It’s where more deals get made than anywhere else if you have a comic, novel or film project. If you ever decide to do any of these then, you must make the pilgrimage to this place.

Even if you wander around, you never know who you’ll meet or who is here looking for new things. All it takes is for you to put something together, have some material on what you’ve done, and the courage to walk boldly up and present.

Will you get turned down? Yep, a lot. But, if you tune your pitch just right, they’ll listen and then you at least have a toe in the door. And, you can learn from many pros who are pretty cool about what they think you need to do. It worked out for me and a lot of other people I know. So, think about it. It’s not easy to do, but nothing worth effort and belief is.

The reason I’m here this year is something that started last year when I was on an indie film panel on working across borders. We live now in a fully connected global village and all the things you need to make a movie outside your country’s borders are available anywhere now. The time of cooperating with those in other countries is here and could get you further then just think LA is the be all and end all.

My film, Bubba the Redneck Werewolf, was shown on German national TV. It was not subtitled. It was actually dubbed, and that is the indicator that you have something that strikes a chord with the world. Plus, hearing myself dubbed into another language was cool and hilarious.

So, when I was asked to join this panel, I was the U.S. ambassador to this group. This group was an interesting one as it had Mexican filmmakers. We all got to talk about the resources and ability to take story and make it come to life in unique ways. Did you know there is Mexican version of Netflix? And they need content too! Plus, they love U.S. concepts and those that include nationals from their country get a serious look. Last year I said, “I’m not here to build walls, I’m here to knock them down and make bridges if I have to.”

And wonderfully enough, this year’s panel was a follow up to this and is called, “Making a Bridge With Genre Movies.” SDCC made this panel even more special as its taking place in the barrio of San Diego and open to not only attendees but the general public. That means many people who could not get passes to the main show, can come see what it takes to make their dreams of movie making come true and get advice from those of us who have made a difference on the independent level. It will be seen by the whole world as SDCC is one of the most watched and respected events around for pop culture.

So, the world is now a stage for us all to perform on and I hope we inspire a whole new wave of creative types to take the big step out. Last year inspired me to make some short films that anyone anywhere could enjoy. The first new film of this series is called “Two Angels, One Cup of Coffee”. It is me reprising my Satan role, but this time I’m not the one in control. It’s a romantic comedy where I fall in love with an angel of my past, but she works for the Big G, and he’s not in the mood for love. He’s busy arranging the apocalypse and my romantic wants are in his way, so it gets to be a very uncomfortable first date for us all, him included. We are submitting the film to various film fests, and it will be on my You Tube channel later, as well.

It has a great old friend, Douglas Pasciewicz, creator of Arsenic Lullaby and freelancer for Mad Magazine. Douglas has also been featured on Comedy Central with his brilliant animation work too. So, soon you’ll get to see what one person who worked for Cracked and the other for Mad can do when directed by newcomer, Amy Zunk. She’s no slouch either. She’s run major conventions, written for quite a few places and also stars in the film along with a supporting cast of funny as hell newcomers. I wanted this to be a film that as Bubba was, had some experienced deft hands, but also some naturals who should have been doing this stuff for years. Amy, Douglas, and I wrote a film that has many facets as it comes from three unique perspectives, and I think you’ll really enjoy it. If nothing else, you now have a new word to use thanks to well-known and heavily followed artist, Morgan Wilson who was there to help put her spin on things and created a seriously funny new catch phrase. “Beelzebullshit” is the new “mansplaining,” but with more evil intent as if that could be possible. LOL!

In my past blogs, I wrote about how to put together a film and now you can follow the journey of a completed project to the next levels. Film festivals, streaming and possibly getting this pilot idea picked up for something more and possibly something international. So, keep on sticking around my website to see what happens. Make the world think and start communicating across the planet to make entertainment that can go a lot further than ever before. Hey, it’s what creatives do best. Cause trouble! LOL!

So to close this blog, I’m going to relate another “No shit, there I was minding my own business” story and this one once again, centers around SDCC…

At one of the SDCCs I did in my early days, I was an exhibitor promoting a crazy comic named Bubba the Redneck Werewolf. You might have heard of it, and it was this show that got it off the ground or at the very least into distribution. Now, having an exhibitor’s badge can get you into the show early. It is amazing. The place is like three football fields long and multi storied and being there with no one but a few vendors, artists, and some celebs and all the wild displays just being there quietly is surreal.

I walked through a whole mounted tribe of Orcs, got look at a full-size semi that was Optimus Prime, Star Wars vehicles, Batmobiles and just lost of great stuff to gawk at before several hundred thousand others showed up. As I was wandering, I noticed an older gent just sitting by some props and life-size figures from films I knew and loved.

It was the skeletons wielding swords that drew me over and as I got closer, I realized that the older gent was Ray Harryhausen himself. He was just sitting there looking over a notebook he was scribbling in. I tried to not disturb him, but here is where the power of coffee shows why in the biz, it is a beverage that can do mightier things than keep you awake while you create.

Ray looked up, sniffed the air and looked at me. He then asked me where I go my coffee as he had gotten some earlier, but it didn’t, as he said, “Smell as inviting” as what I had.

I told him I knew a great bakery nearby that made incredible coffee and offered to get him one. He smiled and asked if it would be too much trouble to bring two back? He then gave me how he wanted them, and I was off like a shot. I ran the whole way to the bakery, almost flubbed the order, because I knew who this was going to. It never even occurred to me that he wanted two and I never thought of anything but getting his brew to him. I made it back and brought a couple of danish in case. Hey, always bring pastry if ya get coffee. I was raised right, damn it.

I came back around the corner I had originally seen him from, and I almost dropped both coffees, and the bag of pastry I had sitting on the cardboard tray they gave me. Sitting next to him now was one of my writing idols.

Ray Bradbury had joined him!  I forgot that they did a panel called “The Two Rays” every year, and they had been friends since high school and had worked together on some pretty cool concepts. Apes and dinosaurs were their passion, and they just took off from there and remained buddies till both passed away.

Anyway, so I steel my spine to keep walking over being as nonchalant as I could while sweating in the 68-degree hall. Yeah, I was cool as a snowball on a hot plate. But, in my ruined brain, I had to be all no big deal and just bringing two guys some coffee and more sugar than they probably needed. Luckily, I had met and been with a few celebs from my childhood before (soon, I’ll tell y’all about my lunch and visit to meet Moe Howard of the Three Stooges daughter and looked at baby pictures and other things belonging to him and his brothers, Curly and Shemp. But, next time…)

So, there I am just talking character and story design with legends of the entertainment world, and both were enjoying the coffee so much they asked if I had any questions about writing and design. OK, so where the hell do you start?! I went over to my booth and brought back a couple of Bubbas and said that showing them was easier then telling them. Bradbury laughed and said that it was one of the most original but nutty things he’d seen. He stared at the first cover with a werewolf on a toilet and said that this was truly humanizing a character to a whole new level. Harryhausen laughed but said that it was too humanizing and that no one would fear him. I was about to say that was the whole idea, but Bradbury said the best monsters were ones through pathos or sympathy resonate with the audience and then the discussion turned to us all talking about the Wolfman , Frankenstein and a few others.

I could have asked either of these men about how to fine tune my work or if they wanted to keep in contact and see more of where my Bubba went, but I didn’t. I was not going to ask these legends to mentor or advise me because as in Wayne’s World terms, I felt I was not worthy. You may think this was a mistake, but, I wanted to deal from strength and was sure I’d see them again next year and have more to show, plus I was in a deal to make a Bubba film which was a disaster and after it crashed I was glad I didn’t push it that day either.

What I walked away with was knowing I was on the right track with my work and made two of my childhood heroes laugh, talk about their personal favorite things in creaturedom, and got two wonderful guys a decent cup of coffee. Oh, and they autographed a photo of Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, as it was something that Bradbury inspired Harryhausen to do based on a short story. Plus, it was about a dinosaur and they loved those! So, this was special stuff I had in my now less sweaty hands. As for the danish? We all forgot about them and they were left on a stand with a pretty good size cyclops who probably didn’t notice them either. Now, if it was a gyro ‘cause those are made from lamb, and he had this mutton fixation like from the film, well it might have been a different story…

Talk to you all again, soon.

Yours unruly,