Thoughts on Making Movies Then and Now

I thought it was just me.

Used to be I could post a casting notice on a website or Yahoo Group (remember those?) and get dozens of replies within hours.

Now I post a casting notice on Facebook group and get nothing.

A fellow filmmaker, who is still very much in the game, assures me it’s not me. Actors are different these days. Ten years ago everyone jumped at the chance to do anything on camera. Now they’re more savvy.

This is both good and bad. It’s good because a lot of perverts post casting notices for reasons other than actually making a movie. You don’t just answer any casting call, especially if you’re a woman, without checking it out first. It’s bad because there are some actors who create problems on set that I never had – like an extra holding up a shoot demanding a lead actor be replaced on an unpaid project.

I miss it, but I don’t. The scheduling headaches and the time away from my babies (now 10 and 11) was the reason I left, and there are now more reasons to stay out. I still have many very talented actor friends from those days, and most of those folks will still say yes because I finish what I start. I also have a lot of friends who “used to act” and will come out to do things just for the fun of it. You get a lot fewer attitudes and a whole lot more collaboration and laughter with them.

I am exceptionally grateful to everyone who ever auditioned for me or sent an acting resume. I had a blast, and I am thankful that some truly amazing people would still come out and work for me if I asked – even though I’m much closer to Phil Tucker than James Gunn as a film director.

No, this not me swearing off film. Just some thoughts I had after a good catch up with a fellow director while trying to cast my next wrestling short. For the record I’m using a new actor (the only new face who responded to my last casting call) and one old friend I haven’t worked with in over a decade. Should be a good time for all.

Speaking of films I made, here’s a classic. Hope you enjoy it.

Movie Pitch: Lord of the Files

Here’s an old idea I had for a movie. Probably better suited to a short subject rather than a feature, but who knows?

Working title: Lord of the Files

Logline: A modern day office breaks into tribal warfare in an updated version of the classic novel Lord of the Flies.

Synopsis: Around 9 am on a normal Tuesday, a busy sales office discovers that their branch manager is dead. With no central leader to keep order, the office breaks down by department into factions. Sales, Accounting, Purchasing, Customer Care, Administrative, and HR all begin to stake our territories and slowly turn tribal. Small skirmishes flare. By just after lunch, it’s clear the whole office is headed down a path of destruction.

The sales department is the most aggressive, having beaten the HR department into submission and claimed the break room area for themselves. When the sales manager begins to have second thoughts about what is going on, his top sales rep stages a coup, and the sales manager is exiled into no man’s land – i.e., the production plant, which has become a savage wasteland inhabited by the violent production workers.

Meanwhile, customer care attempts to form an alliance with purchasing, accounting, and admin to stave off destruction at the hands of sales. Food is scarce, though, and it’s up to the rookie in customer care to brave no man’s land to cross through the plant, raid the vending machine, and return. He makes it back with an armful of Cheezits and Payday bars, wounded but alive, and the alliance is forged just in time for battle.

Armed with staplers, letter openers, and rubber band guns, the sales force strikes in an attempt to obliterate their colleagues and conquer the whole of the office. The bloody battle begins at 4:58 pm, but as soon as the clock strikes five, everyone stops what their doing, grabs their stuff, says their goodbyes, and heads home.

We end on a shot of the dead manager, his head still on the desk, rotting away.

This idea came to me many years and a few office jobs ago. I never pursued it because (A) I could never seem to get a start on it, and (B) I never read Lord of the Flies nor had the desire to read it.

Robot Monster Diaries

I love this book.

I love, love, love this book.

I love this movie, and I love this book.

I’ve been a fan of Robot Monster since I discovered the movie on VHS at Suncoast Video Store more than 20 years ago. I bought it on VHS in 3D with the glasses, and yes, I still have them.

Robot Monster is the epitome of so bad it’s good. It is equal to Plan 9 from Outer Space in that category in every respect. Robot Monster Diaries is a work of love that sheds light on the quintessential B-movie (okay, D-movie) and reveals more trivia than you ever knew existed. You’ll learn all about the 3-D process, the amazing bubble machine, George Barrows and his famous gorilla suit, and even find out what happened to the suit and the helmet. There are even interviews with the three surviving cast members from the film, including one who has never spoken about the movie until this book. You’ll learn how the legend of Ro-Man has stayed alive in movies and television and on the Internet. My good buddy Jerry Williams and his series Astro Space Hero even get a mention!

Kevin Scott Collier is a kindred spirit, and this book is an absolute joy to read. If you love bad movies like I do, click here and get it now on Amazon. I cannot calculate how much you will enjoy this one!

The “Lost” Films of John Cosper

The oldest film now posted on my YouTube page is the original Fluffy. It’s not the the earliest film posted YouTube, mind you, but production-wise, it pre-dates everything else on my channel.

There were actually four films that preceded Fluffy. Two were shot that same summer. One was shot a few years before. Here are their stories.

God Told Me to Break Up With You

This film was an adaptation of a one act play that I wrote and toured with the Righteous Insanity drama company. It was a story about five Christian singles that really set up and parodied the rocky realm of the Christian dating scene. This is the one shot just before Fluffy, and the talented cast included future Fluffy stars Jamie Bratcher, Laura Elton, Randy D. Pease, and Sean Bailey, along with original Righteous Insanity cast members Natalie Gilbert and Erin McLish. The entire play was filmed for the video adaptation, but one key scene was promptly lost. One of the cast members supplied the camera and tape used to film that scene, and it somehow went missing right after we filmed it.

I completed the movie anyway, writing in a throw away scene to cover for the missing scene and released it as a series of webisodes. The camera work was pretty poor all around, the sound quality on another scene was poor due to a metal roof and a rain storm, and without that one scene, it really didn’t live up to my hopes. It’s not online right now, but I might go back and post it later.

Open Doors

Written by my friend and frequent collaborator at the time Natalie Gilbert, this was a very personal story about friends, about relationships, and finding love when you least expect it. I co-starred in this one along with Natalie, Randy, and Jamie. We had a delightful two days running around Louisville and filming at various locations. Unfortunately, a camera malfunction rendered the video and audio useless, and the movie never even made it to editing.

Flee

This five minute short edited in black and white was my attempt to be artsy. It was a dramatic piece with no dialogue that literally showed a young man fleeing from sexual temptation. Fans of my film work will no doubt have realized I am no creative auteur when it comes to cinematography, so trust me when I tell you, it’s much more awkward than artsy. This one was completed and re-edited a few years later. But for now it’s locked away on a hard drive offline.

Chasing Leia

The one that preceded them all! This movie was filmed in the summer of 2002, a full three years before Fluffy. It was a send up of Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy about a Star Wars fan who meets the perfect girl, only to discover she is a… Trekkie. I ended up playing the lead in this one after the actor I cast in that role got called into work the day we started filming. It was an awkward shoot, as my co-star and romantic interest was a former student of mine, but we had a lot of fun making it. A low resolution edit with no music still exists, as I was able to cut this one together on my Dad’s mac computer, but I never got a chance to save the master file, and the edit was lost.

I went looking for the footage a few years later when I had a Mac of my own and could not find it. A few years after that, I found some of that footage when I was editing another project. I had taped over the majority of the film without knowing it.

What lessons did I learn from these films? Plenty, but here were the main takeaways:

Always label and copy protect tapes. That’s not very applicable now, given everything is digital, so the modern update would be to label and keep everything.

Always back up your files.

If you’re not good at a certain thing, find someone who is and hire them, even if it’s just with food.

Sound is just as important as picture.

Don’t let footage out of your sight. Get it before you leave the set so it doesn’t get lost.

Don’t try to be something you are not. It’s okay to experiment, but learn to be comfortable in your own shoes.

My New Favorite People on YouTube

I did Christian drama and comedy for 24 years, publishing material and producing short films under the label Righteous Insanity. I also had a few sub websites called Sunday School Dropouts and Get Yoked. I loved using sarcasm and humor to step on toes and point out the insanity of the church and Christians So I was quite thrilled when an old friend sent me a link to Cedarville Comedy.

These people are amazingly funny, and so on point with their humor. They are the kind of people I’d love to hang around with and see what happens creatively. If you loved Righteous Insanity, Get Yoked, or Sunday School Dropouts, you will love this stuff.

A Little Wrestling Humor

So just because I’m writing mostly about pro wrestling these days doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten my roots. Not only did I write a sci-fi/ wrestling novel, I’ve been making skits about pro wrestling too.

Here’s the latest. Share and enjoy!

Get Yoked – The Series?

Back in 2006 I created a parody Christian dating website called Get Yoked. Don’t look for it. I shut it down a few years ago because honestly, it just never found an audience. We did get a nice rub from Crossdaily when they banned us from being linked on their site for “offensive” content. All we did was present real, honest portrayals of singles in the church. At least certain singles.

The whole point of the site, of course, was to point out the real blindspot of the church when it comes to singles. Many Christians – I should say many married Christians – don’t want singles to stay single. They want them to be equally yoked as early as possible. They gloss over the part in 1 Corinthians where Paul talks about how singles should focus on God and serving others since they are free from the constraints of family and push their single friends to get married.

“What? No, Christians don’t feel that way about singles.” Oh no? Then  why, when I did a web search in 2006, did I not find a single website dedicated to encouraging singles in their Christian walk?

Believe me I looked for one. You see, I was feeling a tug to do something for Christian singles that would encourage them to devote their energies to God instead of dating. I even prayed and told God if there was one website – just one – dedicated to encouraging singles in their faith, I’d let the idea go.

You know what I found? Meat markets. Nothing but dating sites. Every Christian website, hub, and directory had a link that said “Christian Singles” and when you click the link, it took you to a dating site.

So that’s why I did it. That’s why I created Get Yoked. We created some fake video personals to make people laugh. We created some advice givers who spoofed the people putting undue stress on singles to get yoked. I wrote a book. After the website closed, I brought some of the videos back and created a Bible study series to coincide with them. I think a few people found it and used it, but then things changed and I closed Righteous Insanity down to pursue new opportunities.

Two weeks ago, one of the actresses who filmed a Get Yoked spot asked me what happened to the videos. I posted them all on my Youtube channel that weekend, and within a day, a Christian producer reached out to ask if I might be willing to help develop a TV pilot based on the idea.

So there’s a TV pilot in production, 13 years after we set this thing in motion. Will it go to series? Who knows? Stranger things have happened. It’s exciting to see these videos finally get some love and attention – and I promise, even if the series doesn’t pan out, I won’t take them down again.

Somebody’s bound to see poor Miriam here and get a laugh out of it.

Is This Thing On?

So in case you didn’t notice, I stopped blogging almost a year an a half ago. You might notice this if you scroll down and see that my last post was in September of 2017.

I’m gonna give this a try again.

Lots happening in my life these days. Righteous Insanity is about to have a new life in the hands of one of my former students. My 11th wrestling book will be released soon. And recently, my past life as a sci-fi writer crossed over into wrestling with the release of the Bomb Shelter’s first novel.

And then there’s the guy who wants to turn my old video series Get Yoked into a TV pilot.

Like I said, lots happening.

Let’s see if I can keep up this time!

Imaginarium is Coming

Louisville’s self-described “geek family reunion” is less than two weeks away. I’ve been hearing about Imaginarium for years, and while other commitments will keep me from attending this year, it’s something I plan to check out in future years.

Imaginarium is the place for fans of sci-fi, fantasy, and other geek-related fandoms to gather, share ideas, and have fun. It’s less a place to go buy and sell books and more a place to hang out with like-minded creative people – although they have added a free admission book market this year as part of the convention featuring some incredible independent authors from around the region including Tony Acree, Lynn Tincher, Stephen Zimmer, Lydia Sherrer, and Atty Eve. I recently got hooked into Atty’s book My Beautiful Suicide, and she’s written two sequels so far. You better believe I’ll be hitting the bookstore if nothing else!

 

Imaginarium also includes a film festival, and festival favorite “Out of My Mind” will be screening for the second time in less than a month in Louisville. This is a MUST-SEE for writers and aspiring writers who are 18 and over (due to adult content), an incredible horror piece that Cindy Maples created based on my short story, “Drip Drip.”

 

For more information on Imaginarium, visit their website by clicking here.

Out of My Mind Coming to Louisville

My remarkable friend Cindy Maples continues to make headway in the world of independent film. This September, you can catch two of her award-winning shorts at the Louisville International Festival of Film.

Out of My Mind (based on my short story “Drip Drip” in the book Robot/Girlfriend) and Random will both be screening on Friday, September 15 at the Muhammed Ali Center Auditorium. These thrillers are recommended for mature audiences, and both are guaranteed to leave you with chills.

Cindy has always given her fans a thrill with her on-camera work. She’s proving to be an amazing director as well. Congrats to her and the cast and crew of both films for this well-deserved recognition.

And PS, Cindy: Clive the Zombie misses you.