The Shapiro Files

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Fighting the Good Fight

Last night, Marcie and I attended a San Jose Planning Commission public hearing in support of our neighbors, who are fighting the illegal expansion of a church in our neighborhood (download the Staff Report for all the boring details). In a similar hearing that took place in 1978, the Planning Commission ruled that the church would be allowed no further expansion. But despite this ruling, for the better part of the last 20 years the church has been illegally purchasing adjacent homes and using them for church business (including day care) without permits. They finally got caught and are now forced to apply for a permit. Receiving such a permit would amount to being rewarded for 20 years of illegal activity. Ridiculous.

Also, though I won't go into it in any great detail, the church has a long history of being a horrible neighbor. They have created very serious traffic, noise, safety, and sanitation issues that they refuse to address other than electing a church member to act as a "community outreach" stooge, who does nothing more than going around and saying "Problems? What problems? Everything is fine."

Neighbor turnout at the hearing was great (one of the commissions said he was "overwhelmed" by our size and the strength of our opposition). Our organizer, Joan, also encouraged everyone to not only show up but to speak at the hearing. So, spoke I did. Although I didn't prepare like I should have, I really enjoyed my allotted two minutes of grandstanding and am proud to say was the first speaker to get applause.

The commission ended up deferring the matter for "a minimum of 90 days" (i.e. probably anywhere from 6 months to a year) to see if the church could make a amends. Of course they won't. This is going to get pretty nasty. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Official Title and Behind-the-Scenes Photos

An official title has been selected for the movie project in which I recently acted: Nightmares on Film Street. Stay tuned for more details regarding the premiere and film festival submissions.

And in other movie news, our assistant director Bob posted online a bunch of fun rehearsal/production photos here.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Sneak Preview

Cinema Nightmares director Jerry has already begun working on some rough digital/CGI composites to the blue-screen footage he shot last weekend and he posted some stills to his website demonstrating his work in progress. The Casablanca scenes look especially cool. He's already added fog behind us and I believe he'll be adding a 1940's propeller airplane as well. As for the Titanic still of me and Fernanda, she looks great, but probably due to the camera placement and the fact I was standing several feet behind Fernanda, I look like I have big body and a tiny head. For any readers who haven't met me in person, I assure you that my head really is in proportion to my body!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Making the News

Newspaper reporter (and fellow former Ballyhoo cast member) Becky surprised me this afternoon with an email linking to this short news piece she wrote about Cinema Nightmares. Very cool. Thanks, Becky!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Shadows and Fog

My work in the short independent film Cinema Nightmares (working title) is now complete. Our director Jerry and the entire cast and crew were all wonderful and made the whole experience so much fun. The entire process was a pleasure from beginning to end.

We shot the entire Casablanca scene on Saturday. Shooting began with a medium two-shot that allowed us to perform the whole scene uninterrupted, which was a good way to start off the day. After a handful of takes, we then went to a tighter two-shot, followed by an over-the-shoulder shot of Fernanda, and then one of me. We finished up with close-ups of each of us and an extreme close-up of Fernanda. For that final shot, assistant director Bob and I held a light reflector board under Fernanda's chin (barely out of frame) while I simultaneously performed my lines.

Jerry was incredibly prepared and well-organized so the whole day went very smoothly and we finished shooting almost a full two hours ahead of schedule.

Sunday was dedicated to the Titanic scene. Again, everything went very smoothly and by lunch, all my scenes had been shot. Unlike doing theatrical productions, which typically take months out of my life, it was strange that after only three rehearsals and one and a half days of shooting, my work on the project was finished. I was actually a little sad to be done.

I'm looking forward to seeing the finished project (it sounds like there will be some sort off premiere party for cast and crew) and I hope I get to do more of this film stuff in the future. I really had a blast.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

A Whole Lot of Photos

Over the past few years, I've posted to my website lots of different photos of my various theatrical endeavors and other adventures. With baby photos not far behind, I thought I'd create a new webpage with links to all my different online photo albums for easy access. Check it out.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Final Rehearsal

Yesterday was the final Cinema Nightmares rehearsal. One of the great things Jerry wanted to do is test out the script in front of a live audience to get an idea of what works and what doesn't. So the second half of the rehearsal consisted of us performing a staged reading of the script to an audience of crew members and friends (a very nice group of folks, by the way). To help translate his screenplay into a live performance, Jerry invited over an actor friend named Kerry, who starred in his first film, to read the script narration so people can get an idea of what the film visuals will be. To our delight, she actually acted the narration, rather than merely reading it. We all very much enjoyed her contribution.

Audience reaction was very good (a newly added piece of dialogue in the Casablanca scene got the biggest laugh of the performance) and I think everyone is feeling pretty good about the start of shooting next weekend. I know I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

David & Amy's Tokyo Vacation Photos

Friends and fellow Tokyo travelers David and Amy put up a new website featuring a cool video slideshow comprised of 180 photos and lots of fun Japan-themed music and an online slideshow of 195 of their favorite pictures. Take a look.