Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Day After Tomorrow

I have got to start watching the news. I had no idea that New Orleans was submerged. That is crazy, man. It's like the day after tomorrow. It's wild. It looks like a disaster movie. Several people have fled here to the M-town. I pray that the victims made their peace with God. I also pray that the families of the victims can find solace in the fact that to be absent from the body is to be in the presence of God. My prayers go out to all the victims, alive and deceased. This is crazy. I am glad to see the relief efforts going on. I guess all people aren't selfish scumbags. It's hard to wrap my head around. Could this and the tsunami be signs of the apocalypse? They got me singing Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready" (for those who don't know, google it). I think the man upstairs is trying to get our attention. I don't think he's too happy with the foolish actions of men. These are just my opinions. I could be wrong. Occasionally, it happens. I feel a need to contribute in some way. Everybody should contribute. A six-pack of bottled water might not be much, but it's better than nothing. Man, the world is a cold, cruel place sometimes. If I didn't have belief in a higher power, I might lose it. As always, my ramblings are my opinion. I apologize if I have offended anyone. Be easy, readers.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

If You Film It, They Will Come

Okay, after my self-imposed one-day exile to the country with my cousin Anwar, I was focused and ready to resume my budding cinematic career. I was all set to start a film that John Fuess was directing. Tragedy struck Friday night, however. John's mom had a stroke. My thoughts and prayers are still with him and his family. I sent him an e-mail telling him that we understand. Movies can be pushed back. Family is everything. That's what I'm starting to realize. I did handle the sound on Keenon's film, though. It was cool. Rod, Keenon, Ruth, Hank, and myself were hanging out. We watched a rough cut of the opening sequence. Keenon shot it in a helicopter. Man, the Pyramid and Fed-Ex Forum look very different from up there. The opening sequence also included a song by the Tim Terry Experience. Google them, people. Good Memphis Soul music. Everybody ain't D.Jay...You know it's hard out here for a...Man, I've gotta get that song out my head! Okay. Saturday went smooth. Everybody picked on me (as usual), but I quit caring. I chilled out. I laughed. Sunday, the main person that we planned to shoot with canceled. Yesterday, we shot at the Bel Air Bar and Grill. I came by late after I got off work to show moral support since it was near my job. We filmed people shooting pool and drinking. One guy was real belligerent and made a comment that I could have taken as racial. I just tried to rise above the foolishness. Independent filmmaking, there's nothing like it. Hopefully, Keenon's film will be done, and then, Rod, the homegirl Arnita (Westwoood!) and I can focus on Rod's next project. I'm ready for finished projects, premieres, and film festivals. Hopefully, I'll get my wish soon. Be easy.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

It's a Family Affair

Yesterday I took a one-day self-imposed exile from filming to hang out with my cousin Anwar. I went to Somerville, picked him up, and we hung out in Collierville and watched a movie. I wanted to see Brothers Grimm. He wanted to see Dukes of Hazzard. Our compromise was Four Brothers. I enjoyed it a little bit more the second time. It's flawed, but enjoyable. I drove him from Collierville to Somerville and planned to drop him off. His mom then asks me to go over my Aunt Mary's house in Somerville and pick up my cousin Sam so my uncle Ray can take him back to Memphis. Afte I get Sam, I have to take him to various stores to find his cigarettes. I finally have to go in and buy the cigarettes because he does not have ID on him. I love my family. To death. We begin talking. I talked about my film. He talked about his brother who will be going upstate for a while. I feel like I've neglected my friends and my family in my pursuit of the fortune and fame. I need to spend more time with them. Which will probably mean going out to the country on Labor Day. I hate the long drive from Cordova, but I need to spend more time with my family. Family is everything. I have never really been close to my family. I need to do better. Especially now that I see my cousins taking the wrong path. I want to try to do my part to see that the rest of my cousins avoid run-ins with the law. Spirituality and family time will be the cure for the emptiness I still feel. Honestly, I love making films, but after we wrap for the day, I feel empty. It's a loneliness that I can't seem to fill. I do exciting things, and I wish I had someone special to share them with. I know God can fill the emptiness. I've neglected him for far too long. I also hope to involve my family in some of these pursuits. I know that three of my cousins rap. I hope to get them on my album one day. I also hope to maybe use them as extras in my films. Gotta put things in perspective. I cannot sacrifice everything for the dream. I must prioritize. I will, however, shoot on Keenon's film today. I still want to finish what I started. Be easy, readers. Spend time with your family. Family is everything.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Confessions of a B-Movie Actor

The Library has a public access station called WYPL. On Tuesday at 11:00 AM, they hosted a talk show with celebrated B-Movie actor Bruce Campbell. He has a movie coming out on the Sci-Fi Network called Man With the Screaming Brain. The movie will then be released on DVD unedited. Campbell was also plugging his book How To Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way. The title is misleading. It is not a guide on love. It is actually a fictional account of what would happen if Bruce Campbell finally got a huge role in an A-list movie. The movie is a complete and total disaster. Campbell said that he has no wish to become a mainstream actor. He is content with his small appearances in mainstream films such as Sky High. Campbell has also made cameos in the two Spider-Man movies. His childhood friend Sam Raimi directed those movies, and also directed Campbell in the cult classic Evil Dead trilogy.

It was interesting to hear Campbell talk about how things run so much quicker on independent film sets. On B-movies, they spend 6 hours on 10 pages. On major productions, they spend 10 hours on an eighth of a page. Campbell finds this to be ridiculous. He also said that Hollywood is "creatively bankrupt". He made mention of all the remakes that came out this year, such as War of the Worlds, Dukes of Hazzard, Herbie, Bad News Bears, Batman, Bewitched, etc. He also made an excellent point of how A-list movies have b-movie concepts: Radioactive spider bites (Spider-Man), men in bat costumes (Batman), and alien attacks (War of the Worlds).
I asked him a question at the end. I asked him is there any way to bring a new attitude or sensibility to mainstream films? He said that he doesn't care about mainstream films. He said that they do silly things, like make horror films PG-13 just to get more kids to see it. He said that that was ridiculous. He said that people like Bruce Willis have to have $50 million opening weekends. He's okay with $500 on the first weekend. He also said that people like Bruce Willis have to be concerned with what roles are good for their career, while he can select roles based on gut instincts. Campbell said that he would rather make a movie with 1.5 million and have 3 people giving him notes than make a movie with $100 million and have 300 people giving him notes. He had a very intersting view. I hope to be a mainstream actor with an independent mindset. Lord willing, it will happen. Be easy, readers.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Back on the Block (Like Quincy Jones)

Okay, I was a little down after the results of the Black Snake Moan audition. I had doubts for a minute. I got back in the swing of things, though. Last night, it was back to doing sound for Keenon's film. Keenon and Ruth did some good work. After various shooting mishaps and the semi-disappointment of the audition, I was glad to be working on something. Last night reminded me of why I do this. No matter how miserable or how bad I feel, I can always lose myself in cinema. Even when I'm just holding a mic, I feel alive. I feel as though I am a part of the creative process. I need it now. I have to be creating. I am also still trying to talk to people when I see them about any film projects. Yeah, baby, I'm still the Mercenary of Memphis Cinema. It won't stop! Dig it, baby! Gotta start writing again, though. Bryan, DeMarco, Ken, and myself will meet at Perkins at 2PM to discuss our project. It'll be crazy, wild, and a little bit wrong. We will pull it off, though. Hey, ny future's so bright, I gotta wear shades! Okay, that was corny. If I'm being corny, I must be feeling better. Peace, readers, Be easy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Black Snake Moan Audition, Part 2

Bryan and I made it to the audition. By the time we got there, the homegirl Arnita (Westwoood!) was there, trying to arrange things for Keenon's film, as usual. We chit-chatted with her and the rest of the hopefuls. Of us three, I went first. The person I read for had me read for the character of Charlie three times. She seemed a little cold. Arnita and Bryan got callbacks for next week. They will be reading for Craig Brewer. As for me, well, I didn't get a yes, but I didn't get a no. My coworkers told me to stay positive. My coworker Cedric may know some people. Arnita said that I will probably be an extra, if nothing else. It was cool to see Mose Peace again. Dude's funny. Oh, well, back to focusing on Keenon's film and my countless other projects. Lord, I just want to finish a project and I want to get paid to do what I love, eventually. I've got to chill this weekend. Spend time with my cousin. Be easy, readers.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Weekend and Black Snake Moan Audition

I held the boom mic for Keenon's film on Sunday. It was cool. I kept getting joked on, though. I would say stuff, then some people would say it later. The child actress Selina said, "No one listens to Markus." I kept going. Then, in response to Hustle and Flow, I said that I grind and spit. People had negative views of that. We had a good day shooting. Selina bust on me again on Sunday. I said that I was a wonderful soundman. She said, "That's why they're so many". I tried to explain myself, but everybody was like, "Give it up, Markus. She's 11, stop arguing with her." I calmed down and began joking. Everybody gave me pity applause later. My response was, "Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining." Then I said, "I hate ya'll, man!" I built a bridge and got over it. Later on, I got in soapbox mode about the current state of hip-hop and what I hope to achieve with my anit-thug movement. I think I made Hank leave. Sorry, dude. But, hey, he wears Cincinnati University paraphernalia anyway. As a Memphis alumni, I have to hate on him. Everybody thought my explanation was informative and humorous. I also explained my recent poems. I guess it was cool. I may ramble, but at least I'm passionate and honest. I think that's a rare commodity these days. I went to the Black Snake Moan Audition this morning and I knew so many people in the place. The homegirl Arnita (Westwoood!), Ely, Bryan, LaVita, Angela, Will, Tiffany, Bryan's friend Jonathan, Lauryn, Lyrin and her boyfriend, plus this guy I call Money and other actors that I know. Arnita, Bryan, and I all got call backs! Bryan and I have callbacks at 3:15 today. It's crazy. I also met Moses Peace. He is a veteran actor in the Memphis area. I loved hearing his insight and wisdom. This is the result of years of hard work. I'm a little nervous, but I have to do it. I asked for this. I pray that I will give a competent reading tomorrow. Be easy.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

A View At the Movies: Four Brothers

Yesterday I saw Four Brothers, John Singleton's latest directorial effort. The story centers around four foster kids who were taken in by a woman who raised them as though they were her own kids. She is murdered in a robbery at a local ocnvenience store. The four brothers decide to investigate and avenge her death. Two of the foster children, Jerry and Angel, are African-American. Jerry is played by Andre Benjamin, who is better known as Andre 3000, one-half of Southern rap duo Outkast. Angel is played by actor/singer Tyrese Gibson, who was also in John Singleton's films Baby Boy and 2 Fast 2 Furious. Jerry is a former Union leader who is trying to start his own business. His wife is portrayed by Taraji P. Henson, who was in the Singleton-produced Hustle and Flow. Angel was in the military and is trying to get reacqauinted with his old girlfriend, played by Sofia Vergara. The Caucasian "brothers" are Mark Wahlberg, who is an ex-hockey player with agression issues, and Garret Hedlund, who plays Jack. Jack is a wannabe rocker and the youngest of the brothers. As the youngest, he is teased constantly.

The brothers decide to investigate, despite the objections of a cop and friend of the family, played by Hustle and Flow's Terrence Howard. Their investigations suggest that their "mom"'s death may have been planned. They also discover a trail of corrupt politics, dirty cops, and dirty money which leads to a confrontation with the ringleader of the whole operation. The brothers' constant bickering and camaraderie suggests a genuine chemistry between the four actors. I found myself ignoring their racial and peripheral differences due to their on-screen interactions.
Another touching moment is their first meal after her death. All the brothers have their own memories of their mom. Without giving anything away, let's just say the brothers work through thier grief in a very unique way. I also enjoyed the music. The music seemed to be its own character. It seems as though John Singelton was inspired by the Detroit setting. The Motown Sound is prominently displayed in his music choices. My favorite song was Marvin Gaye's Trouble Man, which is used in the opening and closing sequences. Other Motown songs in the film include Marvin Gaye's Inner City Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler), and the Temptations' Cloud Nine and Papa Was A Rolling Stone. As a music geek, I loved this. It really added to the scene and conveyed the character's emotions during those periods in the film.

In closing, Four Brothers is good, but not great. It's a little tough to suspend disbelief at some of the vigilante actions that the brothers commit without having to atone for their actions. Also, Andre Benjamin is still a little green in terms of acting. While I felt he shined in Be Cool, in this film I felt that he was a bit of a weak link. He wasn't horrible, but clearly new to dramatic acting. I also felt that the beautiful Taraji P. Henson could have benefited from more screen time. Taraji makes scenes come to life when she's in them. Sofia Vergara was very memorable as Tyrese's girlfriend. Tyrese Gibson is slowly building a credible acting career. Not bad for a guy whose career began as the boy singing on the bus in Coke commercials. Mark Wahlberg continues his string of charismatic, solid performances. Not bad for a guy who was a rapper known for wearing Calvin Klein boxers. Garrett Hedlund shows promise as the younger brother Jack. Singleton has delivered another solid feature. Four Brothers is not the most innovative film, but it is a solid, entertaining story, which seems to be a rarity in Hollywood these days. I give Four Brothers 3.5 stars.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Back in the M-Town

I took a business trip to Charlotte on Wednesday. First of all, our boarding was delayed because there was a fuel leak on our plane. I was a little bothered. I called Bryan, but he calmed me down. They cleaned up the leak, moved our plane down a few gates, and we boarded forty minutes late. My coworker and I flew to Atlanta and had to catch a connecting flight to Charlotte. We arrived so late, we ran to our gate. Then, we found out our plane had been moved to another gate. We ran to that gate. Fortunately, the plane was delayed. The plane ride from Atlanta to Charlotte was very turbulent due to the weather. We arrived in Charlotte so late, all we could do was go to our rooms and sleep. The actual meeting was cool. I got reacquainted with and met some people. I did a presentation. My presentation rocked! I bought a laser pointer for $3.99 and it really enhanced my presentation. Of course, I knocked them dead. We got bumped up to an earlier flight, but by the time we checked in, we missed our thirty minute "safe" window of time. This meant that our luggage would probably come in later (mine came in this morning), and we had to run. To make matters worse, we had to do the extra random searching where they take our shoes off. I ran for that plane like Jesse Owens! They called our names over the intercom for "last call". It was crazy. We barely made it! Now, it's off to the doctor and to the airport to get my luggage. It's always something. Be easy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The (Delayed) Weekend Wrap-Up

Friday, I sat around waiting for a shoot to happen on Keenon's film. Nothing happened. I went to a party with some friends from the 48 Hour Film Project that I did. It was pretty cool. We hung out, watched DVDs, kicked it with Arnold Edward's girlfriend Dayna (Fayette County! What!) and chilled out. Saturday, I got off work, hung out at the mall, then picked Rod up so we could shoot over Keenon's house. Nazee held the mic. I tripped out with Keenon's daughter Ashley, gave this guy named Hank a hard time for wearing Cincinatti (Memphis alumni, baby) and tripped out with the homegirl Arnita (Westwoood!) She s trying to get information for her film. She wants to base out characters off of real life experiences. Sunday, Rod and I shot more scenes with the little girl playing Ashley in Keenon's movie. Between Westwood, Ashley, Selina (movie Ashley), and Sydney, Selina's sister, there was a lot of diva action going on those two days. I also held the mic for scenes last night and this morning. I'm one tired dude. I'm almost gonna be glad to get away. I have to go on a business trip for Strayer. Planes (boo) and hotels (yay!). It should be cool. Of course, Friday is back to filming. We'll get done some day, God willing. Of course, then it'll bbe on to other projects. Be nice to go on a date and see a movie sometime. Maybe by Christmas it'll happen. Everything comes second to the dream. Be easy.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The White Party Scene

We had filmed a white party scene for Keenon's movie before. It took place at this big house out in Collierville. This time, we had to shoot it again due to personnel changes. This time, the extras were few. I even got to rock my white outfit. The usual suspects: Rod, myself, Keenon, and the homegirl Arnita (Westwoood!). Arnita and i actually have roles so we were trying not to be seen. It was cool. It was fun. I met an aspiring actress named Kim who plans to move to New Orleans soon. More movies are made there because they give tax breaks to productions that film in their city. I also met a guy named Stephon who works for Reflections, a modeling and talent agency. Gotta network, baby. Rod says that Kim may resurface in our next movie. Cool. We all looked fly and we had fun. I can't be on set today, they start shooting at 5:30 PM. I will be back on set tomorrow. Gotta keep hustling. We'll knock out Keenon's film, Rod's film, then we'll start on Rod's next film. Plus, I just landed a role in a short film and a short piece with John Fuess. I 'll be playing a geek again, but at least it fills out the resume. Be easy, readers.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

More Movie Moves

On Saturday I had an auditon for a film called Mail Call. I think that I'll either play this geeky boardgame dude (what a stretch), a bartender, or a mailman. The director also wants my input on making his African-American dialogue authentic for another script he's working on. I figured what the heck? I would rather take a stab at the dialogue than someone who doesn't care. Then, Saturday night I met with Keenon and submitted some songs for the movie. I believe that my good friend Scott Lynn, who lives in Philly, will have a song in this movie. He already has the end credits song in Rod's film. I make it happen. We also plan to use songs from this great undiscovered soul singer named Eric Roberson. Go to and discover the great music. Sunday I had an audition for Amy Novena's film. It's very surreal, but like I told her, I'm trying to diversify my roles. I had to leave the audition process early to sang Bryan and work on Keenon's film. We arrived at the library by 2:45. The library closed at 5:00. We finished by 6:15. Angela, Sweet Millie G, and Ely from the mentally challenged scene showed up, as did our top assistant, the homegirl Arnita (Westwooood!). Also, a few people from other films and these young kids from Arkansas. My boy Will even showed up for a minute. Will is a crazy dude. Monday's shoot was canceled. Arnita hit me up this morning wanting to know my availability. I am out of the Wednesday and Thursday shoots because of work (darned second shift!) but I will be down for Friday's shift. The hustle continues.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

The Real G-Unit!

Forget 50 Cent and those guys, Nikita Entertainment and Pittstop Productions are the real G-Unit. We're guerilla filmmakers, baby! Permits? We don't need no stinking permits! Rod, Keenon, and I bumrushed a fieldhouse at a certain university and shot a scene where Keenon plays basketball and chats with his fiance. We found a beautiful, friendly lady named Ruth to play his fiance. She's a novice at acting, but she hung in there. Afterwards, we shot at Southland Mall in the lobby area. We shot with Ruth, the young girl playing Keenon's daughter, and the homegirl Arnita (Westwood!) came through again on some last minute fill-in type stuff. She played an old friend of Ruth's in a scene. They were good. I sucked as a sound man, however. My arm and hand kept dropping. I guess I should do more sit-ups or something. We made it, through, though, in spite of me. We will have to ADR everythign because of the music and vacuum cleaners and rambunctious mallgoers. We finished that scene in an hour. That was cool. Then, I went to Arnold Edward's birthday party. I'm glad I've met new people, because I've certainly alienated my old friends, but that's another story.
Auditions and scenes are on tap for the day. Oh, yeah, RIP to Little Milton. he was a blues singer whose siganture song is "Hey, The Blues Is All Right". My mama was expecting a tribute rap or poem for him like I did for Luther Vandross. I may have to do some research. I was not as versed on his work as I was on Luther. I'll probably do it, though. I must challenge myself. I may get tired, and I may never go to the theaters (except for my movies), but I love cinema!!! I can't say that, enough. Be Easy, readers, and God Bless.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

We Gon' Make It

As I sit here, slightly peeved that I cannot take place in the shoot for Keenon's film, I am comforted by the thoughts of my people. I have really been vibing and getting reacquainted with people. At Brandon's movie screening, Ennis let me know that he still plans to drop his Eclectic Mixtape. I did an intro for it back in '03, but it was shelved. He plans to have me compose a new intro and keep the old one as an interlude. He also plans to put my one spoken word track, "Damn Love" on the mixtape. Hopefuly, it will be in a certain film that I am working on. (Rod Pitts, I see you) Rod also tells me of his ideas and they include me: Horror films, hitman films, me playing twins, a crackhead, and reprising my role as the Cinema Geek. Rod always knows how to play the fact that I am a ham against me. I wind up doing crazy stuff, but it looks good. Darn you, Pitts! Bryan talks about working on movies and an album. I don't know if it will jump off before he leaves (Sniff), but I am excited for him.

I have also met friends like Keenon who has songs that he wants me to "flow" on, and other movie ideas. Arnold and Jarrod at Cowboy Up Productions plan to use me in other projects. I am still auditioning and calling people, like Bevan and Christine at Rusted Sun Films. And, when the homegirl Arnita (Westwoood!) finishes her screenplay, hopefully she'll throw old M.Sea a bone. My boy Ken is writing a children's book about his childhood going to Catholic School, and he reads me a new passage every day. It's great. I also plan to get Dr. Augustus Q. Fro of to start writing with me on some skits. The boy's nuts! I hear good old Aaron's writing, one of my fellow acting colleagues. Also, one of Rod's friends Bret Cantrell is working on something. I also met a female named Shajuana whose sister writes gospel plays. Church!!! And, I just met a woman named Jasmine who is writing children's books and is interested in acting. I will be be busy, but happy. I will make this happen. Please believe it!!! I used to kick myself for procrastinating so much about things that I've always wanted to do. I don't mess around as much this year. I guess it was appropriate that I started hustling when everybody else did. I draw strength from Ennis' grind, Rod's diligence, Keenon's passion, Bryan's grit, Arnita's hustle, Arnold's enthusiasm. I have to match my peers. I feel like God has his hand on me and my friends and out projects. To quote the old song, "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now". Let's make it happen, people. Be easy, but work hard.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Filming and Sharing the Vision

Rod and I worked on Keenon's film yesterday. We filmed at his assistant Ann's house. The shoot went pretty well. I had other people assisting with lighting, and we pretty much used natural sound, so I didn't have to hold that long boom mic. YAAAYY! I thought that I might have to play the mentally challenged character again, so I shaved the goatee. No such luck. I am now "naked faced", as the homegirl Arnita (Westwooood!) called me the last time I shaved. After the shoot, Rod and I really got insight into Keenon's vision. He talked of living in California and becoming a regular and then a production assistant on The Parkers. He talked of not being able to really do plays because he had to be there for his daughter, Ashley. Ashely is an up-and-coming singer. She is a cool kid! Keenon talked about people who toil in Cali for years without getting a SAG card. SAG stands for Screen Actors Guild. You cannot work in Hollywood without it. He also showed us some scenes from the movie. He also played us some songs for the movie. Background music and actual songs. He had lyrics scribbled down on paper. I also tried freestyling over some of his beats. I did okay. I hope to be on the soundtrack. That would rock. I was glad to get a greater understanding of Mr. Nikita. Nikita Entertainment is gonna blow people away when he fully realizes his vision. I am also grateful to him for helping me break my cycle of goofy/angry characters. My mentally challenged character does not speak, but I feel that it shows my versatility. Me and my crews are gonna make it. Shout out to Pittstop Productions, Nikita Films, Hello Kid Productions, Cowboy Up Productions, and the upcoming Seaberry Boy Productions. Let's make it happen, people! Be easy.