6/08/2018-ACTING- Recap of Second Time Filming on “Johnny Z”

-05/31/ – 06/06/2018 – Just got back from Part 2 of Block with filming on the horror / martial atrs / zombie film JOHNNY Z (HURRICANE BRIDGE ENTERTAINMENT) and it was BRUTAL (in a good way). I believe this has now taken the place of NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE as the hardest set I’ve had to work on to date (same director πŸ™‚ )-and was told that I pulled it off so that’s good right? πŸ™‚

-I was on the bus, basically, for 12 plus hours, going from Syracuse, NY to Richmond, VA via Greyhound on Wednesday May 30, 2018. The days are actually kind of a blur for me. The first two days we spent re-shooting a lot of the stuff that we’d done the previous time I was here. While it was good, there were some things that had to be fixed / changed so they were just re-shot. They all came out better than what was originally done. I got even more bruises on both arms from fight scenes with Feliz Cortes and Jason Delgado-as well as numerous scratches on my arm from the aluminum knife Felix was using-which is a good indicator of what would happen in a real knife fight. Then I had to do some more physical stuff. I can’t give any details away, obviously, but this was some intense stuff. I’m glad I had some padding to land on (even though there were times when I wasn’t suppose to fall but did anyways) and my knee is eternally grateful for the hard shell pad I had on it or I’d have a shattered kneecap right now. A number of the things done here were things I’d never done before (or, if so, with much more intensity) so that was quite the experience. An example is slamming into a wall ful force a few times-the last of which did some damage to the wall and myself (I got a video of that and I can post it so that’s forthcoming…). I got to see the playbacks on most of the takes and I can’t wait till you guys see this. The most intense of all this was on the last day when we didn’t start leaving the house till around 11 AM-a totally exhausting and draining day of filming, but everyone pulled thru and we got it done. At that point, I was such a mess-FX artist Marcus Koch said I’m the sweatiest person he’s ever worked with. I mean, I was drinking bottles of water for hours, yet not needing to go to the bathroom at all-that’s how much I was sweating. We also did some outdoor shooting earlier in the day before all that.

-I had an awesome time and learned quite a lot of stuff. The cast & crew here were wonderful. The extra emphasis on safety was great (although-true to form-I managed to unintentionally break some stuff). It’s too bad there wasn’t a behind the scenes camera rolling throughout-especially on that long final day. That would’ve been fun to look back on-especially with what I had to do at the end. Second block coming up-I have some quick shots to do and I’m done. Big thanks to everyone on this project for your support and special thanks to director Jonathan Straiton for giving me the opportunity to be on this film. Everything that I’ve seen so far on this is, IMO, on a much higher level than NoSS and I’m grateful to have been a part of it.

-Pics can be seen on my acting page on Facebook.

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5/20/2018-ACTING-Recap From Filming On “Barely Coping”

-I was asked not too long ago if I wanted to a cameo role in his comedy film “Barely Coping” (MAD ANGEL FILMS). Starring Ryan Santiago and Jennifer Lefsyk. I believe most of it was filmed last year. It was shot before, but I was told it didn’t come out right upon review and he wanted to redo the entire scene as more of a spoof on a popular origin story. I said sure-it’s not every day one gets to wear a panda head (although I didn’t find out that was part of it all till a day or two before the shoot). It was fun and went by relatively quick. The scene was mostly with friends I’d acted with before. I got to do a scene with Joseph “Little Wayne” (HA!) for the first time (since it’s been going around since “Radiant Dark” that he could play my son or a way younger version of me) so that was cool. Check out the pics -I’m glad I got them off my phone before it died. I believe “Barely Coping” is to be released before years end. Check out the MAF pages for news and updates. Pics can be seen on my acting page on Facebook.

WWJ ACTING PAGE OF FACEBOOK

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5/5/2018-ACTING-Recap From First Block Filming on “Johnny Z”


*Pic by Nathan Ludwig*

This recap actually starts , albeit briefly, way back in 2011 while I was filming with the horror / comedy film “NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE. (NoSS)” The director, Jonathan Straiton, had asked me if I wanted to be a future movie called “JOHNNY Z.” I said yes and then continued getting coated in huge amounts of blood and gore πŸ˜€

-Fast forward to 2017. Jonathan sets into motion pre-production for “Johnny Z.”-a horror zombie martial arts film that has a much more serious tone than NoSS. Jonathan didn’t want to be stuck as “that guy who can only make totally gross sexual zombie flicks” – although I’ve been told that demand for “NoSS 2” is high. A gutsy move-but I believe it’s the right one. Jonathan asked me to do a PSA video for the Johnny Z Indiegogo campaign. I was in the midst of a “detour” off what I call “The Path” and it took me longer than it should have to make one-and when it came time to do so, I’d just had some old guy cough right in my face a few days prior. This resulted in me losing all of the high range in my voice, as well as a good chunk of the mid range. Check it out via the link here (pls feel free to like / comment / subscribe to my You Tube page BTW…)…

-In addition, the Indiegogo campaign for Johnny Z is still ongoing and has a lot of really cool perks as well as a lot of insight into what’s happening with the film and what’s in it. Check it out via the following link…

JOHNNY Z INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN

-Then we get to 2018, where I was almost unable to make it to filming. I managed to get my sh*t together-at least to where I could get out to Virginia for the first block of filming. My last time to Virginia was via rental cars-this time it would be by bus. Basically, each trip was 13 plus hours. I left Syracuse on Saturday 4/28/18 at 8:10 AM and arrived around 10:00 PM in Richmond. The trip there wasn’t too bad. I had plenty of time to catch my connecting bus and being in Port Authority in NYC again brought back some memories.

-I spent two days in the dorm buildings where I was with several other members of the cast / crew and then the other two days at Jonathan’s place. I was introduced to several new faces over the shoot-cast and crew. I’m happy to report that everyone was great to work with-no divas (except maybe me-HA!). Of course, it was also a mini “reunion” with members who were involved in NoSS-and I was told that this “NoSS” core was all going to be working again on a future project (vague statement is…vague… πŸ™‚ ).

-I’m playing the role of “Monster Boy” in this film. He’s basically an enforcer for Vin ( actor Trey Harrison). During this block I guess I had to accept that I’m a “big guy.” I know I’m bigger than I was during the NoSS years, but I still-mentally at least-don’t consider myself as being a “big guy” per se. It was pretty much drilled into my head here so I submitted to it πŸ™‚ I was also told I seem to have this habit of slamming car doors shut too hard πŸ™‚ I didn’t know exactly how I’d look like or what I fully had to do during this block till I got there. Finding out that the FX and makeup was being done by Marcus Koch-who I worked with on “HOUSE SHARK” (SRS CINEMA LLC) and MOHAWK (DARK SKY FILMS / SNOWFORT PICTURES)-which was a relief cause I knew I was in good hands. \m/

-On my first day here, I was basically in “Hurry Up and Wait” mode-till I was basically released for the day. It happens and it was fun just to see what the others were doing. It became surprisingly cold during the nights, but they had some propane heaters in a room so that was a big help. Dominos pizza was for dinner this night and Chinese food the next. I got an interesting fortune (check the pics) :). The next night saw me on set in action.

-I have a line in this one (and some more thru out the film), but the biggest part for this night was being in a huge fight scene. While I do have have some martial arts training and have done some fighting in previous films, this was a whole different level. Felix Cortes (one of the main leads) is a Master of FILIPINO COMBATIVE ARTS and has done stunt work for multiple projects. One of his nicknames is “Iron Felix” and my arms were sore from days blocking his attacks (not even going full out)-not to mention he’s really fast. He can slice you up before you even start with your first move. In addition, members of the DC STUNT COALITION (DCSC) were also here to coordinate all the fight scenes-so I was really looking forward to seeing what I could learn and hopefully be able to keep up with them. Rehearsals for the first half of this fight (which is basically broken down into three sections) was at least an hour if I recall (maybe two). Both Felix and Dylan Hintz (the leader of the DCSC team) were both very patient and easy to work with. What’s great is not only did we go over the fight choreography piece by piece, but I was shown the effectiveness of what I was doing-whether offense or defense. In addition, what I was doing-which is based on various forms of Karate I’ve trained in over the years-was a nice contrast to what Felix was doing. They didn’t have me learn a whole new style (which would have been OK if they did), but basically take what I knew and augmented it as to be effective for this fight. It was a lot of fun, but I was still a touch nervous when the time came. I was told I did well afterwards so that was a relief πŸ™‚

-I obviously can’t detail the fight scene at this time, but I will say that, after each take, we all got to watch the playback via the monitor and offer our thoughts. It was also quite the workout in several ways. I worked hard in a gym for the last three months to erase the damage done to me during my “detour off The Path” and, while I’m not where I want to be, I’m getting there and that work did me good here. Remember when I mentioned that the first half of this huge fight scene was in three sections? Part of this was me fighting with actor Jason Delgado-a big guy. He was pretty intense-and it was like I was getting hit with karma to a degree cause I kept thinking “So this is what some of the others had to receive from me during NoSS.” πŸ˜€ Unfortunately, as we were closing in on this section, the generator ran out of gas. Then we discovered it was past 5 AM and actress Ellie Church had to get her remaining scenes done cause she was leaving to go home in five hours-which she got done quickly. This was the first day where filming ran so long and I joked that with me, Jonathan, Trey, Michael Merchant and Brett Janeski on the same set as Jonathan, the “NoSS factor” had kicked in (there were multiple shoots with NoSS where we weren’t done till 6 AM or later). I was already slated to come back during the second block, but now I have to come back sooner to complete this huge fight scene. All I can say is, once this whole big fight is filmed (and I survive-HA!), it’s gonna look fricken awesome πŸ™‚

-The days flew by so fast here. While things were a little behind schedule, they weren’t-as Jonathan said-“NoSS behind” (that production got behind big time on the first day). There also weren’t as many takes like in NoSS so that was cool. Jonathan is using a RED Dragon on this one (NoSS was using Canon 5D’s (Mark III’s I think?) ). I heard that a tornado warning happened one day-which ground filming to a halt. In addition, Felix was called away for two days to work on an episode of DAREDEVIL (Season 3-Netflix) so another slight delay. Overall, everyone was cheerful and pleasant to work with and I’m really looking forward to the other blocks.

-The last day of filming on this was just me, Jonathan, Trey and Marcus. The generator ran out of gas again, but we were just filming one scene so that didn’t take too long. I got, maybe, five hours of sleep, before I was riding with Jonathan to the bus station. Traffic was bad and I barely made it by the departure time-but it took another 30 minutes till we actually left. There were so many people in the line…In addition, there were several delays-including where the bus driver, while going over the safety procedures, got into an argument with some loudmouth who basically wanted the driver to stop talking and get the AC on. I was concerned, for awhile, that I wouldn’t be able to make my connecting bus from NYC with all the delays; even the rest stop in Delaware was delayed. I got into Port Authority and rushed over to the right gate (I was told by a clerk the wrong gate initially) just as they were starting to board. The bus ride to NYC was quite crowded, but after that, the trip to Syracuse it was easy. Jonathan had asked me if I was sore the next day after the fight and I said no, but then I took a nap later on that day and, when I woke up, I was sore till the next day after I got home. I have a few scratches and bruises on me as well-even a cut on my forearm where, during the fight scene, someone pointed out that I was bleeding. I didn’t even notice…

– I was also part of a video interview with Trey by Nathan Ludwig, the festival director for the GENREBLAST FILM FESTIVAL, so be on the lookout for that (unless it’s part of the specials with the blu-ray release). I had a great time and feel very fortunate to have worked with all the people involved in this. “Johnny Z” has a very modern feel to it and, I believe, will be well received. Keep checking out for news and updates on the Johnny Z page on Facebook. Pics from the shoot can be seen on my Acting page on FacebOok.

WWJ ACTING PAGE ON FACEBOOK

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4/26/2018-REVIEWS-Long Review of “Empire State of the Dead” by Bryan Kristopowitz

Below is a link to a nice long review of “Empire State of the Dead” (SRS CINEMA LLC) by Bryan Kristopowitz for 411MANIA. The review goes thru each of the chapters of the film as well as the wraparound story. I played the role of Draven” in Chapter 5 “Prey of the Living Dead” (AKA “Blessed Are The Meek” from MAD ANGEL FILMS). Thanks for the kudos Bryan and yes, it would be fun if there was a sequel and if I could get another run as Draven-one of my best performances to date IMO…or at least a FB page for ESOTD (HINT-HA!)

REVIEW OF EMPIRE STATE OF THE DEAD BY BRYAN KRISTOPOWITZ

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4/25/2018-REVIEWS-Twin Video Reviews of “House Shark” and “Night of Something Strange”

The following two videos above are reviews of the films HOUSE SHARK (SRS CINEMA LLC) and NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE (HURRICANE BRIDGE ENTERTAINMENT) by INSIDE MOVIES GALORE. I played the roles of Darth Squanto and Cornelius in these films respectfully. They’re both under 30 minutes long and a tad unstable at times-possible due to being done via Google Hangout. The interview I did with them previously (clocking at a little over three hours(!)) can be seen in the video below-just a heads up that it can be unstable at times. Enjoy!

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4/16/2018-ACTING-Pics / Recap From Filming on “Mercury Screams”

-Towards the end of March I got a message from director Dan Wilder asking if I’d be interesting in playing the role of “Herd” (love that name-I bet I can guess what one of his nicknames in high school was-HA!) πŸ™‚ -the male lead-in his short film “Mercury Screams.” It would be filmed out in Nassau, NY for a day. It’s set up like a found footage type horror movie and the story takes place in the early 1980’s. This would give me a chance to dress up totally tubular πŸ™‚ I got on board and started shaping up a look. I asked Dan about a few things, got approvals on some ideas and went to work.

-Since I’m continuing my research on how to currently live life as a broke actor, πŸ™‚ I had my friend Sarah Randall take a pair of cheap jeans and acid-wash them. She did a nice job-even said she wanted them πŸ™‚ I debated on getting one of those Casio watches, but that went against the broke actor study so that was off. As you can see from the pics, I’m not only wearing the acid washed jeans (pegged even-my first time ever doing that), but also a pink t-shirt. I wanted to get one as a tank top but couldn’t get one in time so…I was actually told by one of the crew that I looked ridiculous-but that just meant I did my job. If I could’ve gotten my hair permed, I would have. As is, I was able to wear it down as well as using my normal voice. I’m having a hard time remembering when I was able to do that last for acting. While I slightly debated about throwing some 80’s slang in (Dan basically told me to modify the dialogue however I liked-which is always awesome to hear), if I had short hair , 80’s style, I might of tried it.

-Nassau is a decent distance away from Syracuse. The call time was noon and, for me, it’s been awhile since my last acting gig so I was a little rusty on things. One thing that hit right away was that old concept of “hurry up and wait”-which lasted most of the afternoon. That’s fine BTW-no where near the record and I was having fun just being there. I got to meet the cast and crew-most of who were brand new to me and some even coming as far away as Boston, MA.

-Overall I had fun -outside of one thing with my right contact-which was bothering me starting around mid afternoon. The trip home was painful, but no worries-it’s not like I haven’t gone thru that before and it was part of the rust that I mentioned before. Dan and his cast / crew were a pleasure to work with and I hope I kept up with them. I look forward to working with them all on future projects. Thank you for having me Dan and thanks to all cast / crew for putting up with my crap πŸ™‚

-“Mercury Screams” Facebook page just went up today so “LIKE” / share it and keep checking it for news / updates. Pics are up on my Acting page on Facebook.

WWJ ACTING PAGE ON FACEBOOK

MERCURY SCREAMS ON FACEBOOK

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4/13/2018-R.I.P.-Russell Bates-The Creator of Walking Bear

-I just found out about the passing of writer Russell Bates-which happened a few days ago. Russell was the creator of Ensign Dawson Walking Bear, a character from the STAR TREK THE ANIMATED SERIES episode “How Sharper Than A Serpent’s Tooth. ” Not only was he a co-writer of the episode, along with David Wise, but this episode was responsible for winning an Emmy Award ( the 1974-1975 Daytime Emmy in the area of “Outstanding Entertainment Children’s Series”). He was a Native American who’s lineage was from the Kiowa tribe.

-I had the privilege of being introduced to Russell via a group Facebook chat set up by Troy Beriner in January 2017. Troy had wanted to introduce us-being that I was the actor who portrayed Walking Bear in two episodes from STAR TREK NEW VOYAGES (“Mind Sifter” and “The Holiest Thing”-as well as one currently unreleased “Bread & Savagery”) in addition to, at the time, an upcoming episode with THE FEDERATION FILES called “Walking Bear, Running Wolf.” It was quite a thrill and Russell offered to give me some more background on the character, which I readily accepted. He also thanked me for bringing Walking Bear to life in those episodes-which I deeply appreciated. I sent him links to the episodes, as well as to “Walking Bear, Running Wolf” when it it was released online.

RUSSELL BATES WRITE UP ON NERDIER TIDES

-Unfortunately, I never got to meet him in person. He was a cat person like me so I’m sure that topic would’ve opened up a lot of stories. πŸ™‚ Below is a link to a brief write up on Russell showcasing the TAS episode and Walking Bear. It was touching to see that a couple of pics of me as Walking Bear were included in this as well.

-Russell passed away on April 9 after a brief illness. He was 76 years old. Graveside services for Russell will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 18th at the Ft. Sill National Cemetery Pavilion near Elgin, Oklahoma.

-R.I.P. Russell….

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