Painting for Autism – Anchoring a Dream

May 15, 2013

Communication is one of the biggest challenges for someone with autism.  Even if you’re shy, or unable to find the right words, we at least know how it’s done.  But with autism, it’s like becoming lost trying to follow a jumble of lines on a map.

Productive, positive relationships.  That’s the basis for the Anchoring a Dream project in Pasadena, at a place called Villa Esperanza.  Basically, I painted an interactive mural.  Its surface is reusable.  Kids can take communication outside the classroom, practice sharing their dreams and ideas by painting directly into the clouds of the mural.

Dreaming

One day I came to the mural and found this wheelchair, where a child with ambulatory difficulties had wanted to sit here a while, perhaps dreaming of possibilities.

When it came time for the mural unveiling, I was floored!  The kids and teachers came out, talked about the mural and gave me this amazing thank you card.  (That’s me in the pic, flanked on either side by my ultra-proud mom and dad.)  Best of all, I got to see the mural in action.  The kids had already drawn a rainbow and put the word “Autumn” on the sail of the mural’s paper boat.

Image

Posing with my parents, with a Villa Esperanza baseball cap, a beautifully framed certificate, and this awesome thank you card that the kids had made!

My mom was so taken by the whole experience that she decided to write an article.  Yes, of course, because that’s what moms do best!  Well, she also wanted to try out Facebook’s “notes” feature, and I suppose that I helped a little bit.  For this unique behind-the-scenes look, check out Anchoring a Dream (and feel free to give a “like” … My mom would be absolutely thrilled to have random strangers get involved;)

Or support the kids by making a donation at Villa Esperanza.  They’ve been around for over 5o years supporting individuals with developmental disorders.  Be sure to put “Anchoring a Dream” in the box that says “How did you hear about us?

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Clark Kent: The Movie

August 16, 2012

Imagine if mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent was leading a double life … not as Superman but as baseball sensation Bud Smith, pitching for the Metropolis Titans.Image

Well, this actually happened, way back in 1947, in a series of episodes called Superman vs. Kryptonite (click to listen commercial-free) made for the radio show Adventures of Superman (click for the whole series, with classic commercials).  Spanning over a decade, from 1940 to 1951, the show seemed way ahead of its time, tackling serious issues such as racism and corruption in politics.

Sometimes you can even hear Superman shouting famously, “Up, up, and away!” and then “Down, down!” to help listeners visualize his flying maneuvers.

While it’s fun listening to this program, a particular delight can come from watching the action unfold.  In this short film, news reporter Lois Lane and photographer Jimmy Olsen are trying to figure out who this baseball player really is … Bud Smith or …. Clark Kent?

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Who or what is the Psychic Star Division?

April 26, 2012

They posted a creepy video on youtube:

Apocalyptic vision?  Or sophisticated community college prank?

“The photosynthetic world is collapsing,” cautions a poem that accompanies the video, leaving the rest up to us to decide what to do with our day.  Creepy!

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One Million B.C. — historically accurate movie review!!

December 30, 2011

Since we are always approaching a new year, it’s never too early to start one of those retrospectives that looks back through time.  In this case we will take a look back at One Million B.C.  It’s a movie starring famous celebrity Raquel Welch and some other fine cave people living among a variety of dinosaurs…  and also one super-humongous iguana.

It’s filmed like a real documentary.  As you’d expect from cavemen, we get lots of expressive grunting and bloodcurdling AAAAAHHHHS!!!  But there is also a love story.  Raquel Welch is from the blonde-haired tribe, where they do arts and crafts.  Needless to say, she falls for a caveman from the much tougher brunette tribe.  And wow are they tough!  A simple fight over scraps of dino-chicken can easily escalate to epic proportions.

Naturally, the narrator is the only one who speaks English (or Spanish, depending on which dubbed version you are watching).  But he doesn’t last throughout the whole movie.  Quite suddenly he disappears, mysteriously, after only about ten minutes into the movie.  We can only speculate his disappearance must have something to do with plot we are dealing with:  Cavemen.  Dinosaurs.  AAAAAHHHH!!!

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Thor – The Movie

September 13, 2011

In his struggles against good and evil, the Mighty Thor ends up getting stripped of his super powers … but not his super charm!

Thor’s father, King Odin (a.k.a. Anthony Hopkins with an eye patch and a whole warrior’s wardrobe), must now decide who will be the next Thor.  Will it be Thor (played by Chris Hemsworth)?  Or will it be his angst-ridden brother Loki (played by Tom Hiddleston … picture on bottom-left)?  Soon the fates will be clear:  There can be only one Thor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S.: Thor is now available on VHS.  Grab a copy today!

P.P.S: Be on the lookout for a special guest appearance from cameo film star Stan Lee!

 

 

 

 

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An Interview with Actor Nick Harvey

July 24, 2011

Rey Marz of the Illustrated Movie Review spoke with Nick Harvey about his career in film, working with other professionals such as John Cusack, Ben Kingsley, Marisa Tomei, and Hilary Duff in the film War, Inc.  Mr. Harvey first talked about his role as a blacksmith named Tannen in the sci-fi western  Copperhead, directed by Todor Chapkanov and starring Brad Johnson as a gunslinger in a lawless town.

Nick Harvey:  After 30 years as an actor, this was one of the most enjoyable films I’ve done. The whole cast in this film liked each other, had a beer together after filming, and sat around and chewed the fat.  Brad Johnson, why he was never the next John Wayne I’ll never know.  He’s a real cowboy, rancher, and a bloody nice bloke.

Some may remember Brad Johnson as the fighter pilot in Steven Spielberg’s AlwaysCopperhead also starred Billy Drago, who has played many sorts of villains, from one of Al Capone’s gangsters in Brian de Palma’s The Untouchables to the magical demon Barbas in the TV series Charmed.

Nick Harvey:  Bill must be one of the all-time Nice Guys from Hollywood.  Off-screen he is like a lost child from the 70′s hippie era and loves a beer and to tell a story.

 

After Copperhead, Nick Harvey worked again with Billy Drago and director Chapkanov in the film Ghost Town, starring Jessica Rose, Randy Wayne, and Gil Gerard (beloved by sci-fi fans as the hero of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century!)

 

Nick Harvey:  Todor Chapkanov is one of the great directors of the future and a great guy to work with as the rest of the cast in both the movies are.

[check out this interview with Todor Chapkanov from killerfilm.com]

Nick Harvey:  I was actually cast in the role that Gil Gerard finished up playing in Ghost Town (the Sheriff) … cast in the role by Todor (the director ) and the casting director at BUFO in Bulgaria.  But when the cast was sent to UFO [United Film Organization] in LA for approval, they said I was a comedy actor and this was a straight role. They had spoken to Gil in LA and he had accepted the role.  So I went to the next character (the Mayor).Gil Gerard

I was a bit discerned about me being typecast as a comedy actor, as I’ve played mostly dramatic characters in my career.  But at least I’d been noticed as “something” hahaha by the powers that be in LA and was chuffed that I’d been knocked out of a role by Gil Gerard.  And I still had a job.

Gil was also a great guy to work with and we linked up off-screen as well for dinner.  As the studio was busy, I took my car and we went to the ancient city of Plovdiv here in Bulgaria for the day to show him some history of the country, which he was very interested in.

All the cast of Ghost Town got on well.  As it was a movie that crossed 2 time zones, I didn’t meet or work much with Randy Wayne or Jessica Rose.  But with Billy Drago back in the cast was also a lot of fun.

Nasko Srebrev [who played in both Ghost Town and Copperhead among many other films] is a great actor and friend as well.  He lives here in Sofia, so we meet up from time to time anyway.  The actors of his genre here, Nasko, George Zlatarev, and Vlado Mihailov, are all friends and we all meet up from time to time for a gossip and bitch over a beer.

 

Now we come to the final stretch of the interview, regarding Nick Harvey’s work in War, Inc.  We also cover his earliest acting experiences, his work beyond film, and some final bits of advice.

 

Nick Harvey: War, Inc. was a step up in pace from the UFO productions.  I had a small speaking role in it and 3 days work.  I met all the cast including the unstoppable John Cusack.  He’s a work dynamo from when he hits the set of a morning to when he wraps.

I got a great pic taken with Sir Ben Kingsley and Marisa Tomei.  My scenes in the movie were with Marisa Tomei, John Cusack and Ben Kingsley, so that was lucky for me…

In my scene, I was an interfaith clergyman in the final fight scene where Marisa is in a karate fight with the villain, and it involved her doing a lot of high karate kicks right in from of me.  Well I must say, the sights made my day, and how the costume people forgot to tell her to wear sports knickers in the scene, instead of a G-string, I’ll never know, but be eternally grateful hahahaha.

Before War, Inc. came along, what were some of your earliest experiences as an actor?

Nick Harvey:   After I left RADA [Royal Academy of Dramatic Art], I worked in West Country repertory in England (stage) and the first acting role I had was as the Beer Seller in “The Merchant of Venice”, then “Day of the Fools” with Oliver Reed and Glenda Jackson.  My first TV acting experience was in Austraila as an extra in the Grundy Organisation and Crawford soapsCell Block 13… and The SullivansSpy Force etc…  I was also a male model who did a lot of commercials.

Has your approach to acting changed since then?

Nick Harvey:  I hope the only way my approach has changed is that I’ve learned more about the application of the craft, from Stage to TV to Film and probably don’t take the knocks we all get in the industry seriously anymore.

Whether in film or outside the world of film, what other projects are you working on?

At present I’m not working on any film projects.  I finished a music project with Terry Douglas, a CD.  It’s called Broken Hearted Lover Man, no real life reference there.

As my day job, I’m working in Africa as the Director of Mining Operations and Project Manager for (Union Gold WA) finding, identifying and developing Gold and Diamond mines. Exciting huh!! and a lot more money than acting.

As a final question, what would your advice be for beginning actors and filmmakers?Boom Boom Bang Bang

Nick Harvey:  Advice to filmmakers … get a good script, good director, and plenty of money hahaha….

For actors … learn your craft well.  Take any work available that involves any type of acting, because you learn and develop from everything you do.  In the beginning, don’t rush your career, and don’t take roles that are outside your ability.

Do a course in TV and film, learn to work to a camera properly.  Rule is, on stage, move your body.  TV… move your head.  Film… move your eyes.

Learn to be a professional from the very beginning.  Be where you are asked at the time you are asked to be there … or 1 minute earlier. Study the industry itself.  Learn how a movie is made, so you totally understand what and why everyone on the set is doing what they are doing. Respect them all.  Learn something from every actor you work with.  And finally, take the industry you are working in seriously … not yourself.

Well, that concludes this interview.  Click here for an illustrated review on the movie Copperhead (2008):

Copperhead
Cowboys battle copperhead swarm.

Copperhead

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Phantasm – a Phan-tastic Movie Review!

July 4, 2011

Phantasm is a cult classic starring a floating silver ball and a slender yet beefy funeral director who can lift anything as if it were styrofoam.  Costarring is a guitar-picking ice cream man, a pesky monster fly, and a boy who runs around the neighborhood spying on his older brother with a huge pair of binoculars.

Of course, with this much going on, trouble will inevitably ensue for quite a few Phantasm sequels.

But in the world of Phantasm, trouble is actually a whole lot of … phun!

*movie reviewer cringes appropriately*

 

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