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Dan Steadman’s Film “Proximity” Hits Wehrenberg Theaters.

in Midwest Filmmaking Profile/Pop Culture by

Circling back from an interview in February of this year, Dan Steadman has completed his recent project entitled Proximity. This latest Steadman movie premiered in Jacksonville, IL earlier this year, which is the hometown for Proximity actor Jackie Manker. Currently, it is scheduled to play in several local Wehrenberg theaters in Greater St. Louis.

We caught up with Steadman to discuss what’s happening with Circa87.

“Two years ago we auditioned 1300 people in Wehrenberg Theatres. Over 400 of those people have played small roles in our last 5 projects. 3 actors won lead roles in Proximity – Sandy Sparks, Meg Davis, and Cody Heuer. So the auditioning really leads to great casting discoveries. It’s so exciting to see how far those actors have come in the past two short years. Even more, the actors who take the workshop get much bigger opportunities on a weekly basis. I want to grow the company with those who invest in it — not just people who self-servingly show up for the shoot dates and red carpet premieres. This is something we’re all building together.” Shared Steadman

Recently, as the Circa87 2016 Actors Workshop completed in June, Classes will be pick up from January to June next year – here’s how to get involved.

“We will be filming “The Racket,” a full length feature film this October with members of the class in lead roles. Some supporting roles will be cast in our open call casting sessions, happening next weekend, September 2 and 3, at all four Wehrenberg locations showing “Proximity.” Actors who audition may download the sides from our website, or prepare their own 2 minute monologue.” Shared Steadman’s publicist, Ethan McDaniels.

Get your tickets for Proximity, audition for The Racket and check out the press release for more information and how to get involved.

Proximity – Open Casting Call – Press Release

Proximity - Movie Poster

**

Take a look at the previously featured article published on 2016/02/06

Midwest Filmmaker: Dan Steadman

by Scott Michael Dunn @scottmdunn

BMnYw2S2

Dan Steadman: shaking up the community with his focus to develop, drive, and promote talent in the Midwest. Hollywood certainly gets most of the credit when it comes to filmmaking, with New York following close behind and Atlanta determined to catch up. But Steadman fully believes that the St. Louis metropolitan area is a perfect location for sitcoms, movies, and live theater. Not only is he talking this talk, but there is no doubt that Dan Steadman has dedicated his talent, passion, and career to walking the Midwest walk.  After moving here from LA, he developed a substantial following and became determined to give back to this community by providing opportunities for actors to fulfill their dreams. For example, his movies, Belleville and Proximity, saw the casts walking a red carpet for their respective premiers and being interviewed by local radio and TV stations. Fortunately, for the multitudes of acting talent in this area, this will happen again! Steadman has developed workshops that will provide not only in-depth guidance in the acting craft, but also opportunities for future roles.

Steadman founded Circa87, and actors can enroll in talent workshops available every Saturday for the next few months, and gather more information about additional opportunities at www.circa87.com. Steadman shared his personal story with us:

How long have you been in the industry? What kept you pushing forward and did you have immediate success?

I’ve been in the industry since 1987 – just about 30 years, which seems like a long time for someone who’s only in his early 40s. But I started as a teenager, producing TV in Michigan. Originally I was in front of the camera, as a clown. The next series I did, I started to hide behind puppets. By my third project, I quickly learned that storytelling was my drive. I quickly lost the performance bug and started to fall in love with discovering talent and putting it on screen. Writing and directing became my passion, and still is, nearly 30 years later.

How do you support your projects financially when it seems the toughest battle in this industry is funding?

That is the toughest battle. I think the secret is to devote far more time marketing than doing the “fun” stuff. I hate marketing, but part of being a professional is to do the things you hate doing. This year, the acting classes I’m teaching for six months will help fund the sitcom and the movie I’m shooting this year in the Midwest.

images

How do you feel about the talent available locally?

I moved here from Los Angeles due to the high quality of talent here. My first film, “Belleville,” starred St. Louis actress Cooper Show. I hired her off of her fantastic demo reel, even without an audition. She killed the part of the antagonist in that film, and was rewarded in Beverly Hills with a Best Supporting Actress win at the American Movie Awards for her role in our film. Another actor in “Belleville” is Antonio St. James. He was a new actor with a magnetic talent. He came in and auditioned for me at a banjo shop in New Athens, IL (no joke – I didn’t have an office for casting, so the fine folks at the Bluegrass Shack) let me use their space. Antonio was immediately written into my film and he has since gone on to book speaking roles in the film “Gone Girl” and on top notch TV shows “Empire,” “Chicago PD” and “Shameless.” That’s the kind of talent we have here. It was enough to make me move.

What’s the newest project and do you have a teaser for us to promote it?

The latest project is “Proximity,” which is continuing to roll out in theaters across the Midwest. It’s a romantic comedy we shot in St. Louis, Belleville, and Centralia, IL. I’m very proud of it. It was a stage play I wrote in Los Angeles about eight years ago with my writing partner Rajeev Sigamoney. I’m so glad we’ve finally gotten the chance to turn it into a movie.

What role did you play in Belleville, Proximity, and now the newest project in motion?

I wrote and directed “Belleville.” I directed and co-wrote “Proximity” with Rajeev Sigamoney and will be writing this Fall’s movie with him, as well. I’m flying out to California in May to finish it with him. Then I’ll be directing that film in September, with actors from my 2016 Actor’s Workshop.

How are you recruiting talent for these projects

We’ve auditioned 1300 people in the Midwest and over 400 of them have landed roles. Now it’s time to focus on those who are the most serious. That’s, in part, why I started the acting workshop. I want to devote my time and attention to actors who really want to make a go of this profession. If they are willing to come to a weekly class on Saturday for six months, I want to invest in them and make sure everyone gets some kind of speaking role in the Fall movie.

Most importantly, how did you get Adam W. to play a role in Proximity – baseball to the movies isn’t unheard of but I bet that played a role in increasing your audience?

Our producer Kathy Kaiser knew his family, and that’s how we approached the Wainwrights. The whole family was part of it — his daughters, his wife, and even his then-unborn daughter (if you squint really hard). Yes, getting a celebrity on board always helps, of course. That’s how our culture is rigged. I used to make TV pilots and films with famous folks (Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spencer, Sean Hayes, etc) and that excites audiences. But really, a good performance is a good performance – whether it comes from a famous person or an unknown. Just look at Antonio and Cooper! (previous answer)

How does it feel to have your projects play with all the lights and red carpet. I’ve seen some of the pics of wide grinned, local talent but it must feel like an accomplishment to have a full house and a big screen presentation?

A full house is certainly an accomplishment, of course. The marketing of all that is challenging for me — exhausting, even. But for me, the red carpet premiere events are thrilling for two reasons. I get to tell a story to a willing audience. That’s a near-impossible feat in this day and age, with the fractured audience consuming media, with everyone on their cell phones, and with attention spans at an all-time low. The second great joy of a screening is watching all these deserving Midwesterners walk a red carpet, all glammed up, and get their much-deserving moment in the spotlight. Watching people have so much fun and feeling special makes all the behind-the-scenes effort, worth it.

For more info check out Circa87

Follow on twitter here.

If you like this then check out Always Late TV.

Midwest Filmmaker Profile: Doveed Linder

in Midwest Filmmaking Profile/Pop Culture by
Doveed

Midwest Filmmaker Profile: Doveed Linder

by Scott Michael Dunn @scottmdunn

Doveed and Barry

Another contributor to local filmmaking in Greater St. Louis is Doveed Linder. He has marketable success, with an earlier project that was sold to a notable Hollywood studio. Linder has another feature film (anthology) in motion and it is very close to completion. He has never feared progress as he embraces every new opportunity by jumping in with both feet. His focus and determination represents his success. With a culturally diverse background and a very interesting cinematic perspective and professional direction, Doveed Linder is an extraordinary individual. From experience, his direction moves talent to the next level and forces the emotional contribution to become personal and real. He also maneuvers that discipline into his boxing training.

“That movie was an action/western movie called “Defiance”, which was picked up by Lionsgate Films. That was my first feature film…”

https://movielala.com/people/doveed-linder/videos

“The Box” is on the way to completion along with his boxing training. There doesn’t seem to be much that can be done to deter this gentleman from contributing to the entertainment industry. It is best to join or get out of the way as he climbs a metaphoric ladder: boundless and success driven. Check out his movie “Defiance” released in 2002 and his book about boxing, The Modern Era, Vol 1.

Stl TV Live interview with Doveed Linder

Boxing: The Modern Era Vol 1

Let’s start off with who you are and where you are from geographically, ethnically. Do you feel you’ve had an advantage in life? 

I was born and raised in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri, first in University City and later in Ladue. I come from a half Jewish, half Catholic family, not particularly religious either way. My family growing up was middle class, perhaps upper middle. We didn’t live extravagantly, but I always had presents on Christmas and on my birthday. If I wanted to play a sport or do a certain activity, I always could. I guess you could say I had advantages that a lot of people in the world don’t have. I think the biggest advantage I had was that I had the freedom to pursue all of my interests, specifically filmmaking which isn’t considered a practical path. Instead of going to college and getting a degree, I started making movies with the intention of building a career as a writer/director of motion pictures. This was something I had wanted since I was five years old and my parents were supportive of that. They never suggested that I should take a different path.

“The owner of the gym asked me if I would work with some of the neighborhood kids a couple days a week in exchange for waiving my gym dues. A couple of days quickly turned into six days a week”

You are currently a boxing trainer and that has an interesting twist to your life story. Would you elaborate on where that all started?

Doveed and RaymondIn the late 90’s, I started to become a big boxing fan. From there, I learned to box and had a few amateur fights. In 2009, I moved to Los Angeles and started dabbling with boxing writing, eventually writing a boxing book that is coming out later this year. So, my passion of the sport has led to my involvement in a number of different ways. As a trainer, it started in 2004. I was working out at a boxing gym on the North Side of St. Louis. The owner of the gym asked me if I would work with some of the neighborhood kids a couple days a week in exchange for waiving my gym dues. A couple of days quickly turned into six days a week and I ended up training amateur fighters and putting them in fights. After a year of that, I had to stop and find a way to support myself. I became a personal trainer at a gym in Clayton called Sweat. My niche, of course, was boxing instruction. There were a few occasions along the way where I would work with somebody who wanted to fight, so I would spend a little extra time with them and get them to that level. But I wasn’t what you would call a “go-to guy” for people who want to get in the ring, nor am I now. Right now, I train one boxer who is about to make his professional debut. I Doveed and Demetriusknew him from the amateur days and we were always friendly over the years. I ran into him at an event a couple of years ago and he asked me if I would work with him. I’m very happy to do it, but I’m doing it to build his career, not mine. This isn’t something I’m trying to expand for myself.

 


Right now you are finishing “The Box”. How long have you been working on this project?

We started shooting “The Box” in December 2012. I started writing it in August or September. It all started when I moved from Los Angeles back to St. Louis in July of that year. Dave Rutherford, a cinematographer who I have been friends with and have worked with since I first started making

The Box Trailer

The Box by Doveed Linder

movies, suggested that we make a short film together. I wrote an 18-page script called “The Box” and started passing it around for feedback. Somebody suggested to me that I take this idea and make a feature film – an anthology consisting of 3 or 4 stories, where this mysterious box is used as a link from story to story. That’s how it took off. We shot one of the stories in December and I started writing the other stories in 2013. I had no idea how we would pull this off. But I figured with an anthology format, we could start and stop as we go along without having to worry about significant continuity issues along the way. Starting and stopping over a three year period is a tough way to make a movie, but we’re finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.Doveed and Stephanie

You had a previous production that made it to market, Can you elaborate on that, what it was about, and how people can watch a clip or teaser trailer?

That movie was an action/western movie called “Defiance”, which was picked up by Lionsgate Films. That was my first feature film and my only other feature besides “The Box”. Like “The Box”, it was a long process with a lot of starting and stopping. It was a very raw effort because I was so young and inexperienced, but it was a great accomplishment for everyone involved. I’m probably more proud of that movie that I will be of any other movie I make from here on out. It was a massive first film in that it was set in the 1800’s, and we were working with horses, guns, special effects, hundreds of extras, etc. It was so demanding on everyone who worked on it and I have such a huge appreciation for everyone I met on that movie. If you want to see it, Google “Defiance 2002” and I’m sure you’ll find something.

“I just wrote a boxing book, which will end up being a series of books, so I’ll probably be working on that for the next few years.”

What are your plans with boxing and movie making? Can you balance the two at the same time? Which one are you most passionate about?

Like I mentioned, I’m training just one boxer and my involvement, as a trainer will depend on his interest and level of commitment. Right now, he’s taking a very professional approach, so I am as well. I just wrote a boxing book, which will end up being a series of books, so I’ll probably be working on that for the next few years. But movies have always been the thing I’m most passionate about. First and foremost, I need to finish “The Box”. I have a few other projects ready to go to when “The Box” is finished. My plan is to get those movies made and keep going with it. When I first started making movies, I was having a lot of success. We made “Defiance” and followed it up with a Stephen King adaptation called “Strawberry Spring”

Strawberry Spring

Strawberry Spring by Doveed Linder

which was screened at the Cannes Film Festival. At some point, I hit a wall with filmmaking. I didn’t have the resources to do the things I wanted to do and I didn’t know what angle to take. Around this time, the boxing thing started showing up in my life. I kept trying to get my movie career off the ground, but boxing is where I found the open doors. Boxing has been good to me. It’s a sport that has really shaped me as a person. Here I am 15 years after I made my first feature and I’m finally working on another one. I’m back on track to make movies again and I now have this second career with boxing. As far as how I balance the two, I just find ways to make it work. The boxer I train came out one day to help me with “The Box”. I read that day that we might be fighting in three weeks, so we started training right there on the sound stage.

Tell me about the life of a boxing trainer. What does somebody like that do: the sacrifice, the commitment, the challenge? What does it feel like in the moment when you watch your protégé fight?

In a way, being a boxing trainer is a lot like being a film director. I spend a lot of time daydreaming. I develop a vision for what I want, but there has to be flexibility in that vision because it’s a collaborative process. Fighters, like actors, cinematographers, musicians, etc., are all unique and bring something to the table that a trainer or a director never counted on. Trainers and directors both have to study their craft and follow the history, as well as the evolution of it. My feelings about the actual fight are similar to the way I feel about going onto the location to shoot. It’s not my favorite part of the process. I kind of just want to get it over with. The real stimulation comes with the planning. In the ring or on the shooting location, there are often variables that you never counted on, so you have to be able to think on the fly.

What’s should we look for from Doveed Linder in the future, and how can we follow you?

The book I referred to is called “Boxing: The Modern Era, Vol. 1 (24 Interviews with the People of the Sport)”. It’s a collection of interviews with various people in the boxing world – the fighters, trainers, promoters, officials, etc., from the Muhammad Ali era all the way to the present. It was picked up by McFarland Publishers and will be out in the near future. “The Box” will be finished this year and I look forward to marketing it for distribution. The boxer I train, Raymond

Sweat GymHandson, is making his professional boxing debut at Lumiere Casino on February 20th. I hope for a successful night and that he keeps moving forward with his career and doing good things. Most of all, I look forward to the next movie after “The Box”. There are a few different possibilities and we’ll see how it unfolds. As far as how to follow me, I’m on Facebook, or you can book a session with me at Sweat gym in St. Louis, where I work as a personal trainer and a boxing instructor. Sweat has been a huge source of support. They give me a chance to make a living and also give me the freedom to pursue my other interests.

Midwest Filmmaker Profile: Dan Steadman

in Midwest Filmmaking Profile/Pop Culture by
web1_proximity-FOR_JUMP

Midwest Filmmaker Profile: Dan Steadman

by Scott Michael Dunn @scottmdunn

BMnYw2S2

Dan Steadman: shaking up the community with his focus to develop, drive, and promote talent in the Midwest. Hollywood certainly gets most of the credit when it comes to filmmaking, with New York following close behind and Atlanta determined to catch up. But Steadman fully believes that the St. Louis metropolitan area is a perfect location for sitcoms, movies, and live theater. Not only is he talking this talk, but there is no doubt that Dan Steadman has dedicated his talent, passion, and career to walking the Midwest walk.  After moving here from LA, he developed a substantial following and became determined to give back to this community by providing opportunities for actors to fulfill their dreams. For example, his movies, Belleville and Proximity, saw the casts walking a red carpet for their respective premiers and being interviewed by local radio and TV stations. Fortunately, for the multitudes of acting talent in this area, this will happen again! Steadman has developed workshops that will provide not only in-depth guidance in the acting craft, but also opportunities for future roles.

Steadman founded Circa87, and actors can enroll in talent workshops available every Saturday for the next few months, and gather more information about additional opportunities at www.circa87.com. Steadman shared his personal story with us:

How long have you been in the industry? What kept you pushing forward and did you have immediate success?

I’ve been in the industry since 1987 – just about 30 years, which seems like a long time for someone who’s only in his early 40s. But I started as a teenager, producing TV in Michigan. Originally I was in front of the camera, as a clown. The next series I did, I started to hide behind puppets. By my third project, I quickly learned that storytelling was my drive. I quickly lost the performance bug and started to fall in love with discovering talent and putting it on screen. Writing and directing became my passion, and still is, nearly 30 years later.

How do you support your projects financially when it seems the toughest battle in this industry is funding?

That is the toughest battle. I think the secret is to devote far more time marketing than doing the “fun” stuff. I hate marketing, but part of being a professional is to do the things you hate doing. This year, the acting classes I’m teaching for six months will help fund the sitcom and the movie I’m shooting this year in the Midwest.

images

How do you feel about the talent available locally?

I moved here from Los Angeles due to the high quality of talent here. My first film, “Belleville,” starred St. Louis actress Cooper Show. I hired her off of her fantastic demo reel, even without an audition. She killed the part of the antagonist in that film, and was rewarded in Beverly Hills with a Best Supporting Actress win at the American Movie Awards for her role in our film. Another actor in “Belleville” is Antonio St. James. He was a new actor with a magnetic talent. He came in and auditioned for me at a banjo shop in New Athens, IL (no joke – I didn’t have an office for casting, so the fine folks at the Bluegrass Shack) let me use their space. Antonio was immediately written into my film and he has since gone on to book speaking roles in the film “Gone Girl” and on top notch TV shows “Empire,” “Chicago PD” and “Shameless.” That’s the kind of talent we have here. It was enough to make me move.

What’s the newest project and do you have a teaser for us to promote it?

The latest project is “Proximity,” which is continuing to roll out in theaters across the Midwest. It’s a romantic comedy we shot in St. Louis, Belleville, and Centralia, IL. I’m very proud of it. It was a stage play I wrote in Los Angeles about eight years ago with my writing partner Rajeev Sigamoney. I’m so glad we’ve finally gotten the chance to turn it into a movie.

What role did you play in Belleville, Proximity, and now the newest project in motion?

I wrote and directed “Belleville.” I directed and co-wrote “Proximity” with Rajeev Sigamoney and will be writing this Fall’s movie with him, as well. I’m flying out to California in May to finish it with him. Then I’ll be directing that film in September, with actors from my 2016 Actor’s Workshop.

How are you recruiting talent for these projects

We’ve auditioned 1300 people in the Midwest and over 400 of them have landed roles. Now it’s time to focus on those who are the most serious. That’s, in part, why I started the acting workshop. I want to devote my time and attention to actors who really want to make a go of this profession. If they are willing to come to a weekly class on Saturday for six months, I want to invest in them and make sure everyone gets some kind of speaking role in the Fall movie.

Most importantly, how did you get Adam W. to play a role in Proximity – baseball to the movies isn’t unheard of but I bet that played a role in increasing your audience?

Our producer Kathy Kaiser knew his family, and that’s how we approached the Wainwrights. The whole family was part of it — his daughters, his wife, and even his then-unborn daughter (if you squint really hard). Yes, getting a celebrity on board always helps, of course. That’s how our culture is rigged. I used to make TV pilots and films with famous folks (Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spencer, Sean Hayes, etc) and that excites audiences. But really, a good performance is a good performance – whether it comes from a famous person or an unknown. Just look at Antonio and Cooper! (previous answer)

How does it feel to have your projects play with all the lights and red carpet. I’ve seen some of the pics of wide grinned, local talent but it must feel like an accomplishment to have a full house and a big screen presentation?

A full house is certainly an accomplishment, of course. The marketing of all that is challenging for me — exhausting, even. But for me, the red carpet premiere events are thrilling for two reasons. I get to tell a story to a willing audience. That’s a near-impossible feat in this day and age, with the fractured audience consuming media, with everyone on their cell phones, and with attention spans at an all-time low. The second great joy of a screening is watching all these deserving Midwesterners walk a red carpet, all glammed up, and get their much-deserving moment in the spotlight. Watching people have so much fun and feeling special makes all the behind-the-scenes effort, worth it.

For more info check out Circa87

Follow on twitter here.

If you like this then check out Always Late TV.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Always Late TV by Scott Michael Dunn

in Midwest Filmmaking Profile/Pop Culture by
AlwaysLateTV

There are some who remember going to the “video store” to rent the latest movie on VHS. When DVD’s hit the market, we still rented movies, but crazy red boxes showed up all over the place and we drove to pay a buck to get a DVD dispensed. And then, what seemed like an almost simultaneous launch, streaming emerged. With video stores as archaic as VHS tapes, the long lines in front of the infamous “Redbox” have now dwindled as well thanks to the streaming phenomena we now have access to today. Local, creator/director of Always Late TV. Kevin Edwards, is a forward thinker with streaming information to the masses.

AlwaysLateTV4 - Dani

According to Edwards, “We, at Always Late TV, want this site to be St. Louis’ source for original, home grown shows and documentaries.” Edwards has past productions to thank for the growth and success of Always Late TV.

One of Edwards’ current and all-time favorite productions with AlwaysLateTV.com is his first project: “Local Ambition.”  He started this series in 2013 and has produced four seasons thus far. With season (5.0) beginning in February of this year, Edwards is celebrating over five million views in 50+ countries. 5.0 is currently in pre-production with plans to start actively filming in February.  “Local Ambition” is a reality series with women competing to win the loosely put title “Most Ambitious Entertainer.”  5.0 is also offering $1,000 in cash prizes and potentially more if things go well. The viewership growth, according to Edwards, could expand and allow more prizes and opportunities for the contestants.  Women of all shapes, sizes, looks, and experience levels throw themselves into the mix of this show.

You can stream “Local Ambition” seasons on your computer, whenever you want, wherever you want (bearing an internet connection), and yes, it is free.  With “Local Ambition” heading into production this February with 5.0, here’s a peek at season 4 and the swimsuit round.

Always Late TV.advertisement

AlwayslateTV.com is recognizably gaining attention locally, nationally, and globally, utilizing regional talent and developing opportunities for those aspiring to entertain.  Edward has a couple projects keeping him busy these days. “Brother vs. Sister” is wrapping up final edits and releasing later this year in May.  Edward is expanding his talent profile from reality streaming with this fictional drama.  The plotline is about a sister left behind to clean up after her brother reveals dark secrets, unmentionables that were never to be shared with the small town they live in.  Dani Jay, a participant in “Local Ambition” season 4, crew member for (5.0), and staring in “Brother vs. Sister” is overcoming physical obstacles (fibromyalgia) and achieving her dreams with her start on Always Late TV.

We had an opportunity to visit with Kevin. He shared some of his thoughts with us about his projects and personal ambitions.  Here’s a little insight into Kevin Edward and AwaysLateTV.

Tell us about your inspiration? The why and what that inspired you as creator?

My inspiration for Brother vs. Sister is hard to explain.  What happens to our main character, Ryan Lancaster (the sister) is loosely based off of what happened to a woman in the town I grew up in.  The decisions that she made came back to haunt her when the town found out about them.  She lost everything and her life, and the lives of her family, changed forever after that.  That true story is the basis for the start of Ryan Lancaster’s character on the show.  Everything that happens after that is fiction.

My inspiration gets harder to explain after that.  I’m not sure why I get a lot of the ideas that I get for stories and characters – but I get them.  I guess that’s all that counts, right?  I usually find that if I sit down and try to write – I’ll get nothing.  When I’m ready for bed; in the shower; or driving – I’ll get my best ideas.  Then I scramble to find something to jot them down on (because I’m still not the type of person who puts that stuff into their phones).

I have tons of sheets of paper in my desk with ideas written on them that I use from time to time to help me write Brother vs. Sister.

I can’t say that the characters or stories on the show were inspired by anything I’ve seen in television or movies.

AlwaysLateTV - Brother vs. Sister

How do you feel about the talent base available locally?

A lot of these characters on the show are dark.  Their situations and behavior are pretty extreme at times.  This isn’t the kind of subject matter that you expect a lot of people to be cool with.  That said, I’m impressed at how the local talent have taken these characters, accepted them, and brought them to life.

Some of the local talent that I have been really impressed with are Clayton Humburg, Kalena Schubert, Jaan Marion, Brittnee Bell, Samantha McKimm, and David Sanchez.  These are only some of them.  I’m impressed with everyone on the show, but for the sake of making this short – this is who I listed.  I feel like I should say that.

Clayton plays the brother, Jamie Lancaster.  Jamie is a great villain, because he’s not the kind of person who gets his hands dirty.  He’s not Tony Montana or the Joker.  He’s more like Littlefinger from Game of Thrones.  All of his action is done behind the curtain, manipulating people to get what he wants.  Clayton has done a great job at portraying him and audiences are going to see how much of a cold, sociopath Jamie really is.

I would also like to mention that our talent from Local Ambition impresses me too.  Dani Jay, Alexandra Wantland, and Pyramid Williams were all cast members on our modeling reality series, Local Ambition.  Now they are actresses on Brother vs. Sister.  The step from reality to scripted television is huge and they’ve made the climb.

What’s the newest project and do you have a teaser for us to promote it?

We have two new projects – Brother vs. Sister: Season 1 and Local Ambition 5.0 (the 5th season).  Brother vs. Sister will air in either May or June as the first project of our brand new on demand service that we are launching.  We are very excited about that!

Local Ambition 5.0 will start filming in February and wrap in July and will air in September this year.  It will be our biggest season of the show to date with a cash prize for the winner.

 

Always Late TV.Sarah

I know this is a tough question but, what is your favorite project and why?

This is a very tough question.  I’d say Local Ambition.  I say this because it has a special place in my heart.  It was the first project Always Late TV ever had and it’s improved every year we’ve done it.  Local Ambition has produced a lot of great talent for us and it’s been a lot of fun to make.

We get to choose a cast and see what happens.  We get to see each of them develop over the course of the show; challenging their creativity, modeling skill, and personalities. It’s an amazing show.

Explain the concept behind Brother vs. Sister and where are you with that show?

The plot is centered around a sibling rivalry between Ryan and Jamie Lancaster.  Ryan had everything she ever wanted, but lost it all when her brother told everyone back at home her deepest secret.  Having lost her job, friends, family, and the love of her life – she has nothing left to lose.  She decides to go to River City to find him and teach him a lesson in revenge.

The show follows two parallels – one with Jamie and one with Ryan.  You get to see characters and side stories develop around these two.  Viewers will see gang warfare; the dark side of the adult film industry; shattered relationships; and broken dreams.

AlwaysLateTV Brother vs Sister - Kyle

How would you rate the actors you have playing characters on that show?

Since I’ve mentioned some of them already, I’ll mention some that I haven’t talked about.

Kalena Schubert plays Stacy Hutchins.  She is the ex-best friend of Ryan Lancaster.  After their hometown turned on Ryan, Stacy decided to save her social status and do the same.  She chose her public image over her best friend.  Stacy’s a villain that is going to be very easy to relate to by viewers.  While not everyone can imagine a gun-toting psychopath who terrorizes an entire city, they can picture a small town woman whose interests are more material than anything else.  Kalena is the exact opposite of her character and that’s what impresses me about her performance.  She can completely transform into Stacy and it’s amazing to watch.  Kalena is nice and sweet, but she turns into Stacy, who is a manipulative, spoiled rich brat.

Samantha McKimm is another talented actress.  She plays Luna – Ryan’s new neighbor in River City.  Luna has overcome a lot of struggles in her life, including leaving an abusive ex-boyfriend.  Despite all the pain and suffering she’s experienced, Luna remains positive about her life and does what she can to help others.

When I was watching all the video auditions for Luna, Samantha’s performance stuck out the most.  She was the only one who actually seemed to BE Luna.  Everyone else seemed like they were just reading the lines.  On set, she compliments Ryan’s character perfectly.  While Ryan is brash and sarcastic, Luna is sweet and sincere.  Samantha is one in a million.

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What is local ambition? Describe your thoughts behind that?

Local Ambition is a modeling competition reality series that puts local women from St. Louis, and the surrounding area, against each other.  They compete in themed photo shoots and challenges each week and the women who fall short face elimination.

The show, unlike Top Model or others, takes more of a personal interest in the cast members.  It’s not all about modeling and doesn’t tell women that they need to look a certain way to be beautiful.

Our show promotes body positivity.  Women who of any shape, size, color, or age can participate.  The winner of our last season was Sarah Galbraith – a 33 year old single mother of three.  She was our first plus size model and she competed on the show while being a size 16.

 

There is drama on the show, but it’s 100% real.  Unlike Top Model, or other shows, we do not script or coach our cast to do or say anything.  The drama occurs organically.  I have a great producer for Local Ambition – Hanna Hetz. She was a finalist on our last season and she has quickly adapted to her new role behind the scenes. She asks a lot of great questions and has an eye for this kind of thing. I’m very impressed with her and can’t wait to see what she can do on our next season.  Chris Hoffman is also someone who continues to impress me. He’s been with Always Late TV since 2013 and he’s moved from photographer to cinematographer. He’s adapted very well from still frames to motion pictures.

If you liked this article check out this piece on The Tallent Brothers.

The Hope House: Men’s Sober Living TV Show

in Pop Culture by
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Glenn Langohr spent 10 years in some of California’s worst prisons on drug charges before becoming a best selling author. Now he is to producing a Docu-Reality TV show about a Sober Living Home which shines the light on the process of getting sober and staying sober in a house filled with alcoholics and drug addicts. Picture The Jersey Shore turned up to one million. Everyone that lives in the house has to feed the homeless at a Soup Kitchen once a week and maintain all the other rules, including a random drug test. Glenn works as the advocate in the series bringing in new arrivals, some of whom are just getting out of prison. All new arrivals begin their journey in a small spinner room to see if they are serious about sobriety. The GR1ND sat down with Glenn for a Q&A to discuss the series, what its about and where he is going with it.

What is the Hope House Men’s Sober Living about?

The Hope House Men’s Sober Living is a Docu-Reality TV Show idea I came up with. In California there are over 30 state prisons with over 80% of that prison population incarcerated with drug or alcohol related crimes, or addiction issues. Once a prisoner is released from prison, most go back to prison, but some choose to live in a sober living house. This TV show is going to shine a light on this process.

How did you come up with this concept?

I lived it. I went to prison 4 times for drug crimes that started as addiction and led to heavier drug crimes and longer sentences. One common problem was not having a stable place to live. Sober living homes offer a stable place to live where all who live in the home are trying to recover their lives from addiction. They all have a common goal, to stay sober, get a job, get their families back and focus on healthy dreams.

How did you get the people to come on the show?

I found a sober living home and put together a quick video to cover some of my vision for this funding project. The sober living I chose for the first shoot was already in place. I did add a couple of ex convicts I had done time with who both had previous experience living in sober living homes. I found another sober living home that I want to shoot 3, 22-minute episodes at that fits with my vision even more. At this sober living home, they take people straight out of prison or off the streets, as long as they are serious about sobriety, on a trial basis. This house has a “Spinner” room where the new arrivals start that is similar to prison conditions where there are 2 bunk beds to house 4 men. The entire house has 13 men who all have to donate a few hours a week feeding homeless people at a local soup kitchen, plus they give their testimony in other forums and are drug tested upon demand to stay in the house. Once residents find a job they have to pay about $100 a week to continue to live there. That cheap rent takes some of the pressure off and allows the residents to get their lives back together.

What is the background of all the participants?

Everyone who lives in the sober living home has different backgrounds. Addiction is color blind so there are Black, Mexican, White and Asian races who live in the house. Some have been to prison, some have gang affiliations, some are rich kids who ran out of options.

What does living sober mean to you?

Living sober means living life on life’s terms without any mind-altering drugs or alcohol.

What is the premise of the show?

The Sober Living Home has two managers who maintain the house. All the residents have to follow the rules that include donating time to the soup kitchen, giving their testimony, looking for a job and maintaining all the other rules. A surprise drug test can come at anytime. I am “The Advocate” who finds people who just got out of prison, or elsewhere to live in the Hope House. Some are going to make it and get their life back and move out, some are going to crash and burn and get kicked out or leave, and some are going to be in the process.

How many episodes do you envision?

I am looking to hire some film students to shoot the 3, 22 minute episodes to shop across all the Cable/TV outlets. Getting picked up by one would be the first miracle. Making it past season ONE would be the second miracle. Having a top rated Reality TV show that impacts society would be the third miracle.

Where is the show or house based?

In Orange County, California, right next to LA.

Do you have a substance abuse background? Explain.

As I mentioned earlier, I have been in prison 4 times. My last sentence was for 11 years. During that sentence I started writing my first book on the back of 600 pages of my trial paperwork from court. When I got out of prison, I chose to live in a sober living home to keep my publishing dream alive. So I lived out this process.

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What are your qualifications to do a show like this?

I’m a Writer/Director who knows this lifestyle. I know what it takes to make it and I know what can get in the way of making it.

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Give us a little of your background and accomplishments?

My background: I spent over 10 years in some of California’s most violent state prisons, with 4 years in solitary, for drug related charges that topped out with “Alleged Organized Crime” charges. I became a best selling author of Prison and Drug War books, with over 500 reviews. Here is a list of my prison books in Audio, Kindle and Print. One of my best reviews for my first novel “Roll Call” from Kirkus Discoveries Neilson Media~ “A harrowing, down-and-dirty depiction–sometimes reminiscent of Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic–of America’s war on drugs, by former dealer and California artist Langohr.”

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To check out the sizzle reel for The Hope House go here  and you can contact Glen here.

If you like this piece then check out  The Mad Science Interview with Writer Oliver Mertz. 

 

B. Clay Moore’s Big Hawaiian Dick

in Pop Culture by
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by Scott Michael Dunn @scottmdunn

B. Clay Moore has spent the last ten plus years working his Hawaiian Dick formula and finally, after all the effort, it looks like these comics are about to hit Prime Time.

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After years of writing and promoting, a recent pitch to NBC has met with the first level of Prime Time success. As stated by Moore, “Right now the writers, Dave Elliott and Paul Lovett, are working on the pilot script, and progress seems positive.” Positive indeed as the pitch was made possible with the combined efforts of Moore and producer Eric Gitter. As we all look forward to the developments of the pilot episode, there is more to share. A 100 page graphic novel was launched on Kickstarter and raised $20,794 with 684 backers. With all of these exciting developments, we decided to be dicks ourselves and investigate the man behind the comic.

As a child, Moore moved around a lot and developed a fondness for comics at an early age.  While this seems no different than the likes of many children, Moore had a special talent for farce; he was enough off-kilter that he gained reader interest at an early age. He continued to develop this craft until finally, as a college student in Kansas City, KS, Moore found himself at a proverbial crossroads while studying journalism.  He was battling the realization that his dream of producing comics was far-fetched and humility was in order. However, he decided his creative and entrepreneurial venture deserved one more chance and reached out to Joseph Torres.

According to Moore, the selection of comics at that time was a poor replication of the art and the industry was slowly creeping to a halt.  While Moore was disappointed with the comic industry at that time, he was inspired by the work of J. Torres  (known recently for “Teen Titan Go”).  As it turns out, their chance encounter was a comedy of errors. Moore was expected to do graphic work for Torres and ended up editing the entire book, “Comic Book Tales.” Torres was impressed with his work, which created a long-standing relationship. In the mid 90s (post college), Moore resorted to sales to stay afloat. He was talented and gained attention, but he was not willing to sacrifice his ideas for success. His goal was to be different enough to garner attention, yet remain in the mainstream in order to entertain the masses.

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Moore spent a number of years with Image Comics in and out of production with his Hawaiian Dick comic ideas.  Since Image Comics was not changing comics to fit the industry, they were hard pressed to find quick success however, Moore became a big part of developing their successful brand.  This led the author to New Line Cinema in early 2002, and the two entities (New Line Cinema and Moore) struck an agreement to bring Hawaiian Dick to life on the silver screen.  The project was ready for a green light, but New Line Cinema began experiencing financial difficulties so the movie was unable to be produced. However, when the plans for the movie were moving forward, Johnny Knoxville was secured as the star. Even though that project didn’t see completion, Moore knew that, with the big name agreeing to portray his star character, he definitely had a marketable product.

That product has now developed into a potential TV series that NBC is interested in airing. Incidentally, if the pilot is picked up, Knoxville will still be cast in the starring role. We asked Moore to highlight his career in comics and he shared these thoughts: “The immediate success of Hawaiian Dick was hard to top. It was the first thing I’d done on my own, and its extremely positive reception really motivated me. Beyond that, having the opportunity to write characters like Superman and Batman was fun. I don’t know what writer wouldn’t love to tell at least one story for each of those guys. But I find creating my own worlds and characters to be the most enjoyable aspect of what I do. I’ve recently had the chance to introduce some new characters to existing comic book universes, and that’s been a lot of fun, as well.”

So who exaclty will Johnny Knoxville be portraying? The original “Hawaiian Dick” comic was a reflection of Hawaii circa the 1950s.  Hawaii was gaining interest as a popular destination and there was a specific culture that began to develop during this decade.  After watching a film about a band of apparitions that moved around and danced to drum beats, the author was also inspired to add a supernatural aspect to his writing. However, he was hell bent that Byrd was not to become a cliché ghost hunter.  Byrd is a sort of dim-witted private dick that tends to muck things up as well as he solves mysteries (enter the quintessential Johnny Knoxville characters we know and love).

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Moore attributes his growing success to his followers, and is humbly grateful for the contributions to his Kickstarter campaign. When he was determining how to set a pace for the release of “Big Hawaiian Dick,” “Aloha, from Hawaiian Dick,” and the TV series, he decided to use Kickstarter to launch the marketing for all of his Hawaiian Dick endeavors.  This campaign brought all of these projects together by building a single platform, which launched him directly onto his current path. “Big Hawaiian Dick” is a compilation of unpublished material, art, and original work from the “Hawaiian Dick” comic.  This 100 page book has collectable artwork and never before seen content.  The crowd-funding marketing concept seemed to align with his ideas for simultaneously promoting his work.

Obviously, it was the right decision with the amount that was raised and the number of backers he received. The Great Big Hawaiian Dick graphic novel will not be available anywhere else according to Moore.  He merged exclusively with Kickstarter in order to streamline his process.  Rather than an overload of pricey merchandise, the collaboration is only offering this 100 page content driven representation of his comic.  When asked what Moore thought of his decision to launch this campaign on Kickstarter, he said, “I’m very gratified. There aren’t a lot of high dollar rewards as part of the campaign, so reaching our goal so quickly felt great. The main thing I wanted to do was get the book into people’s hands. As of right now, we have just over 500 backers, with the rest of the week to go.”

After discussing his success on Kickstarter even further, Moore had this to share: “I think it’s a fantastic way to put things directly into the hands of readers and consumers. You know the book is going to be read, and you know how many people are going to read it. In this case, we won’t be overprinting the book by much, and won’t be reprinting it in this format, so this is honestly the most likely way for people to buy the book.”

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Moore’s public is excited to see the series and is anxiously awaiting the partnering comic, “Aloha, from Hawaiian Dick.” Considering Moore has been creating this series of comics for many years, he had a huge amount of content to work with.  He decided, rather than start a whole new series that may or may not take away from the original, he would create a sister project entitled “Aloha, Hawaiian Dick.” The idea for the Aloha series was to hold hands with the original “Hawaiian Dick” and be more of an attributing story rather than a fresh one.

Moore currently resides in Kansas City, KS and spends his time developing new projects while keeping up with the Comic-Con scene.  He is launching “Aloha, Hawaiian Dick” into production with artists like Shawn Dove and Greg Smallwood, the artists who are working on the covers.  Moore shared that “Southern Bastards,” a recent release for Image Comics, is his favorite book on the market right now.

In a recent discussion with Word Balloon, a comic book conversation show, John Siuntres interviewed Moore and he shared another project he launched in 2013 called Bad Karma, which is a 200 page hardcover comic. With all the hype for Dick and Aloha, Hawaiian Dick, Bad Karma is gaining lots of support too. 615 supporters pledged $36,262 towards the project.  It seems that Moore is on top of his game and gathering steam along the way.  Do not be surprised to read, hear, or see B. Clay Moore on the forefront of entertainment news and Comic-Con events.

If you like this article check out our interview with Troy Little who adapted the Hunter S. Thompson classic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas into a graphic novel.

 

From Dirt Track Racer to NASCAR

in Pop Culture by
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When people talk about the world of racing, NASCAR immediately comes to mind. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and Danica Patrick are the names associated with the big money sport, but when it comes to dirt track racing and super late models its a different story. A cacophony of dirt racing circuits crisscross this country, acting as conduits to ultimate dream of NASCAR. Funneling the top talent up the hierarchy, after they pay their dues, hone their racing talents and find the right sponsorship.

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Right now there is one kid who is tearing up the circuit, winning all the races and making a name for himself as the next big thing. He hails from Oakwood, Illinois and is only 18 years old. But he has racing in his blood and has been involved with the sport since he was born. Can you say prodigy? Meet Bobby Pierce, #32 Smooth Operator.

“My dad raced forever and kind of made racing a living.” Bobby tells The Gr1nd. “Ever since the day I was born I was at the racetrack watching him and supporting him. By the time I was 8 years old I started racing quarter midgets. Up until then I always wanted to play football. I told everyone I was going to be a football player, but all that didn’t work out. I’m kind of a small dude.”

But in a race car his size didn’t matter. It’s only his heart, his courage, and his technique that counts. Taking those turns at close to 100 mph takes nerve and Bobby has plenty of that. From the time he started racing quarter midgets he showed a prodigious skill and natural ability to win races. An ability that followed him as he graduated to kit mods at age ten and then to the super late models he is currently racing on dirt tracks across the country.

“I started racing crate late models, which is the same as a super late model, but it just has a crate engine which is about 400 horsepower compared to 850.” Bobby says. “Then I moved up to super late models. It was a big learning curve, going through all those classes helped. They always say you gotta start young and its true, if you start young and start progressing you will find yourself at the top.”

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Refuse to lose is the motto stenciled on his car and with 128 career feature victories Bobby takes those words seriously. His visits to victory lane are starting to attract interest from NASCAR. But going to NASCAR means racing on asphalt. A big difference from dirt. But Bobby takes it all in stride. In just his fourth asphalt race at Hickory Motor Speedway in North Carolina, a track known as the birthplace of NASCAR stars, he finished second driving the #88 Speedco Chevrolet for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s JR Motorsports.

“I’m a fan of the 100 lap races because you don’t have to hustle the car all the way through,” Bobby tells The Gr1nd.”You can kind of layback and be patient, so you don’t burn off the tires too fast and there’s some more strategy that goes into it. I’d like to try and get some more asphalt races in, but dirt racing is always going to be my favorite to race. But if you can make it big time on asphalt that’s where a lot of the money is at.”

And a lot of successful dirt track racers have made the jump to NASCAR- Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon to name a few. Jeff Gordon even used to race at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Illinois the track where Bobby has won 15 or so features. Even winning four features in a row in late September. An extremely difficult feat in the world of dirt track racing.

“Even if you just have a good run, its a sport that you have to be very humble about because if you think about it you have 25-26 cars that make the feature race and there’s only one winner.” Bobby says. “Its not a sports game where its you versus them. Your percentage and odds of winning the race are kind of low.” And a lot of hard work and preparation goes into it before the car even hits the track, so Bobby and his crew savor each victory.

“Its awesome.” He tells The Gr1nd. “Its a lot of hard work. A lot of blood sweat and tears go into the cars every week and if you tear them up everything , it’s so expensive these days with the sport. But when you get in victory lane, no matter if its a big race or a local show or whatever it is, there’s a whole lot of things that go into it and you can’t really compare it to anything else.” The thrill of victory or the agony of defeat.

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In the race car game its like Ricky Bobby said in Talledaga Nights, “If you’re not first, you’re last.” And each win puts Bobby Pierce into a better position to reach the pinnacle of the race car world, NASCAR. “I have always looked up to NASCAR, so hopefully I have a good race in Martinsville and open some eyes there and get a ride.” Bobby says. “Sponsorship in NASCAR is basically the key. It doesn’t matter how talented you are, if you don’t have the sponsorship and money behind you, you’re not going to make it.”

NASCAR is the dream and Martinsville Speedway in Virginia is a NASCAR track.

“I raced the NASCAR truck at Eldora this past July and ran second in that race. That was my first time ever running any sort of NASCAR race,” Bobby tells The Gr1nd. “It will be different for me because its an asphalt track. I’m going to have to adjust to that.”

Bobby Pierce has a bright future but until he’s on the big stage he will just keep turning heads at the dirt tracks.

“If you haven’t been to a dirt race before then you definitely need to go to one,” Bobby says. ‘If you are close to me, where I’m racing then come. Go to my website  and see where I’m racing and hopefully you can come watch me and come by the trailer and I’ll give you an autograph and talk to you.” You can also get one of his

Reaper two t-shirts with the dual gun toting skull face.

“Everyone that races always has some type of logo and I really like my logo. You see guns and stuff and it sets the theme and the style of driving that I do.” Bobby tells The Gr1nd. And there’s a some history behind his nickname, Smooth Operator, also.

“An announcer gave me the nickname the Smooth Operator.” Bobby says. “My nickname used to be the Short Cool One because my dads nickname was the Tall Cool One. I was thinking I didn’t want to be called the Short Cool One my whole life so some announcer gave me the nickname and it kind of stuck. Thats what you gotta be on the racetrack, you gotta be smooth.”

With over 50 thousand followers on social media Bobby Pierce epitomizes the essence of smooth too. But in the pits he keeps it a family affair. His dad runs his pit crew, builds his cars and both of his parents travel with him to every race. “My dad actually builds race cars, dirt modified and late models. He probably built 1000 modified and 300 late models.” Bobby says. “My dad drives the tractor trailer with my mom on trips and my crew guy Mason and me, we drive the motorhome and it pulls the trailer.”

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Compared to NASCAR, dirt tracks are short and tight and the cars get sideways in the turns. Imagine hitting 100-110 on the straightaways on a half mile track and then hitting the turns at top speed. Bobby says there’s no feeling like it. Being built for speed is what racing is about.

“We’re haulin’ in there when the track is really fast, probably coming in at 100-110 mph because you barely ever slow down.” Bobby tells The Gr1nd. “It kind of throws you back in your seat. The first time I drove a super late model compared to a crate late model it was an awesome feeling. You know that feeling you get when you ride a roller coaster? You’re shooting through the turns and stuff, thats what it feels like. I don’t like rolling coasters though because I can’t control it.” But Bobby loves dirt track racing because he is in complete control.

“The races are thirty laps and a lot of people think thirty laps, thats not very long, but for a dirt race thats pretty long. When you’re in the race car it feels like a long time.” He says. “The track looks like asphalt when the dirt gets hard and when the track gets a shine like that you want to try and not run through the shiny stuff because thats where its slick and it feels like ice. When the track gets like that come feature time, tire choices and what tires to run, whether it’s soft or hard, became a big factor because that could win you the race or lose you the race.”

And flipping the car and rolling it is always an occupational hazard.

“I flipped the late model twice. It was crazy. You just close your eyes and hang on.” Bobby tells The Gr1nd. “I hit the wall in Tennessee head on and did somersaults in the air. It was pretty crazy and the second time I flipped was last year. I hugged the corner and these cars have so much bite. I started barrel rolling. It was pretty sick. I wasn’t sore. Thats the good thing about all the protection and safety equipment we have now.”

The life of a dirt track racer isn’t all glitz and glamor, but as the victories accumulate Bobby Pierce #32 Smooth Operator is putting himself on a crash course with NASCAR. As he continues to pad his resume with victories and attracting more attention from sponsors that outcome is very likely. But no matter what happens, whether he makes the show or not, he will be racing because its in his blood. He loves the feeling of being in the car, hauling into the turns at 100 mph and cruising into victory lane after leaving all comers in his dust.

 

Films on Serial Killers

in Pop Culture by
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John Borowski is a Chicago filmaker who has delved into the world of serial killers since day one. His films examine the lives of some of the most brutal murderers society has ever dealt with. But John prefers to cover the pre-1930s serial killers. His films cover men like H.H. Holmes, Albert Fish and Carl Panzram, all vicious psychopath killers who plied their trade before CSI and modern day police investigative techniques. John also did a film on serial killer culture, examine the people who collected serial killer artifacts and wrote to the criminals as they did their time on death row, waiting to be executed. If you are into murderabilia and this sort of stuff then John’s films are for you. Check them out and check out this interview he did with The Gr1nd.

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When did you start making films and why?

I always loved the cinema, all genres of film really. So movies were always a passion of mine since an early age. Watching movies on TV, pre-VHS, was always an event. Jaws and Psycho are two movies I remember watching every year when they were on TV. Those are also two of my favorite films ever. When I was a teenager, I collected films. I was a mini rental store for my family, who would come to me and I had a card catalog with all my films listed by alphabetically and the corresponding VHS tape number. My sister is to blame for beginning my love of horror films and all things macabre really. She even turned me on to Edgar Allan Poe and Edward Gorey. Beginning with the classic Universal horror films, I eventually graduated to slasher films and couldn’t get enough horror. Of course Hitchcock’s films played a big part in my becoming interested in psychological murder thrillers. When I was a teenager, I became interested in special makeup effects and began practicing the art by creating prosthesis and masks and utilizing my creations in 8mm short films I would shoot with my best friend. The makeup effects of Dick Smith (The Exorcist, The Godfather, Taxi Driver) were really an inspiration to me.

What led to the Serial Killer angle?

When I was in college I was researching for an essay on Chicago history and came across the story of the castle of H.H. Holmes. This fascinated me but it really wasn’t until I read Harold Schechter’s book Depraved that I learned about Holmes entire life, which was equally fascinating as the building itself. That was when I decided to make my first features documentary film on the life of America’s first documented serial killer, H.H. Holmes who literally laid the groundwork for all future serial killers in America.

H.H. Holmes was an evil genius and macabre entrepreneur who designed a building in Chicago during the 1893 World’s Fair and rented rooms out where he gassed victims and after dissecting their bodies and stripping the flesh from their bones, sold the skeletons to local medical schools and universities. H.H. Holmes: America’s First Serial Killer (2005) covers Holmes’ entire life from birth to his eventual trail where he served as his own attorney. Ted Bundy would follow Holmes’ lead and become his own attorney at his trail as serial killers love to be the center of attention.

What are the other films about?

Albert Fish was a sadomasochistic child murdering cannibal who was the original Stranger Danger, preying on youths in depression era New York City. He is most well known for sending a letter to the mother of his victim Grace Budd, where he details how he cooked and ate her. Albert Fish: In Sin He Found Salvation (2007) is the second and last film I had the pleasure of working with actor Tony Jay who served as narrator and worked on numerous Disney films and animated shows.

Carl Panzram was a lifelong criminal who was abused in American jails and prisons. In 1928 he met the kind young jail guard Henry Lesser, who convinces Panzram to write his autobiography so that others can learn how he was created and hopefully prevent other monsters from being made in his image. For Carl Panzram: The Spirit of Hatred and Vengeance (2012), I filmed Panzram’s actual handwritten papers at the University of San Diego and also filmed at Leavenworth and Clinton Penitentiaries which were very frightening places and I am glad I was on the outside of their walls.

My latest released film, Serial Killer Culture (2014), focuses on the artists and collectors who are inspired by serial killers.

How’d the Serial Killer Culture documentary come about?

While I was wrapping up production on my film on Panzram, I began to look at all of the contacts I had made through my career of making films on serial killers. They were an interesting bunch of people to say the least. So I decided to create a film where I would give murderabilia collectors and artists their opportunity to tell their side of the story regarding why they are interested in such a gruesome topic. After the film was released, I received a card from a young woman in California which read: “You make my F***ing Day” where she went on to write how she thought she was alone in her macabre interest in serial killers and that it was nice to know there were others out there who shared her interest.

What role do you play in the making of your films?

As a 100% independent filmmaker, I wear almost every hat when making my films. The upside to this is that I have complete control and my passion shines through in the final product. The downside is that it is a lot of time and work for myself where if I had budgets, I would be able to hire more crew members to work with me on the films and concentrate on producing and directing. When I studied film, I made sure to learn about every phase of film production and I did not take directing classes because I feel that a filmmakers unique vision cannot be taught. I do hire cast and crew members such as actors, cinematographers, sound designers, and composers but I write, produce, direct, and edit my films. I am always seeking investors and/or potential partners to expand my catalog of film titles as I am beginning to produce feature films.

How does crowdfunding come into play for your films?

There were several previous online fundraising campaigns I had run for my films Panzram and Serial Killer Culture which served as the training ground of the realities of these types of fundraisers. They are extremely difficult to run and even more difficult to achieve success with. Because of both of our fanbases, we successfully achieved the goal of the Kickstarter fundraiser. The main problem came about a week or two after the launch of the fundraiser. Someone had taken offense to some aspect of the fundraiser and complained about it on Facebook so everything pertaining to the fundraiser and film were blocked on Facebook. This presented a problem because Facebook works closely with Kickstarter and ultimately determines the success of the fundraiser through spreading the word on social media. I could not even paste the link to the fundraiser in a message on Facebook. I was infuriated about several things, especially the fact that someone’s bias towards two major American artists working together could be blocked by the major social media platform on the internet. I have learned that in the film industry, everything is a battle that must be fought for. So I put my polyester suit on and marched down to the Chicago Facebook office and took the elevator to the only floor it would take me to, then I took the freight elevator to the Facebook office where I was buzzed in. I politely explained the situation to the young man at the front desk who mentioned that he may not be able to help and it was blocked by “autobots”. My response was that therein lies the problem and it needs to be addressed since I could not think of anything that was offensive about the fundraising campaign. Four hours later, the block was removed so I won that fight.

Give us a little history on yourself where you grew up, what you were interested in and how you got into film?

I grew up raised by my mother on the northwest side of Chicago. My parents divorced when I was young. My mother would take me to films all of the time. My older sister lived with us and she made sure to feed me a healthy diet of classic horror films. Vincent Price is my favorite horror actor and if he was alive, I wanted his voice for my film on H.H. Holmes. I always had a cinematic mind. When I was a child, I would build skyscrapers out of cardboard boxes to play with action figures in and even made doorways, chutes, and ladders in the boxes. I was seven years old when my sister told me about a movie she went to see where astronauts discover eggs on an alien planet and an alien bursts from the chest of a host. That film was Alien and I was seven years old when I saw it and since I knew the chestburster scene was approaching, I looked away in fear when the bloody scene happened. So imagine my joy when in 2015 while filming Bloodlines, I was able to stand in front of the props from the film at the H.R. Giger museum in Switzerland. It is true that in life it is all about the journey. I am very lucky to have been able to live out some of my dreams.

Learn more about John’s films here.

If you like this article then check out this profile on the supremely talented artist Riana Moller.

 

Artist Profile- Riana Moller

in Pop Culture/Uncategorized by
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The title of this is Artist Profile- Riana Moller, but in essence Riana Moller is much more than an artist. To simply label her that is an insult to her talents. She is an artist, a creator, a graphic visual artist and designer who does comics, video games and more. I first met Riana when she agreed to do the awesome cover for my Supreme Team comic. I don’t think I could have found a better cover artist. I was amazed by the art and what she did turning the real life characters from my book, The Supreme Team, into artistically accurate life like portrayals for the graphic novel. Known as Fealasy on her Deviant Art profile, Riana has been in the industry for a minute. Mostly working on video games like Hitman and Ryse: Son of Rome she has found time to create her own comic book on web toons in limited edition of course. Everything Riana does is exclusive. Her artwork is impeccable and stunning. She is clearly an auteur of the canvass, even if her canvass is a computer screen. The Gr1nd sat down for a chat with Riana to find out more about the mysterious and alluring creative talent from Denmark.

How did you first get interested in drawing?

Most children are interested in expressing themselves from an early age, so I’d say almost instantaneously. But when art allowed an escape from a set of increasingly painful realities that’s when I fell in love with it.

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How would you describe your style?

Surrealadelic when it’s good. Renegotiable when bad.

What comics have you drawn or been involved in?

In the past I had a stint with the printed newspaper world, allowing me to have a weekly strip about an miserable woman and her depraved imaginary friend trying to cope with “the real world”. Recently I completed my first graphic novel that goes into some painful truths about my past. It takes on the topic of school-shootings and bullying, but from the point of view of the harassed shooter. It’s semi autobiographical and tries to explain how I escaped those terrible desires. And lastly I had the pleasure of giving a contribution for Seth Ferranti’s growing project The Supreme Team. A man I hope to collaborate with again.

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What video games have you worked on and in what capacities?

I worked on the Hitman series and Ryze for prolonged periods, and several still unpublished AAA titles from my time at Volta and lots of indie-this-and-that games. All while working my way up from being a trainee to art director.

Where are your from?

A small southern island in Denmark named LOLand. But there wasn’t always a lot to laugh about.

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What was life like growing up for you?

Difficult outside the family home. There was a lot of isolation, spite and condemnation for anything that stuck out from the accepted standard template in a small town. From simply revealing my lack of faith in a god I was labelled a “spawn of the devil” by our local preacher, which evolved into a lot of bullying, verbally and physically. I just very recently have been capable of shaking off the insecurities and mistrust, but it was worth it somehow. By not conforming and having to deal with hardships, a lot of valuable lessons and skills have been learnt.

What have you learned over the years working as an artist and graphic designer?

That honesty and self-expression rules supreme. I had jobs that by financial and reputation standards should have made me happy, but failed to entirely. There’s a lot to be taught by stepping into others footsteps, it’s crucial to do, but has it’s limits. I finally feel liberated enough to take on a truly dangerous route.

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Where are you based out of now?

My life is currently in uproar, a long list of very positive but also intense events are taking place as I slowly ready myself to move to the other side of the planet. From my latest expat experience in Prague to Sydney, Australia.

What are your current projects?

There’s two. One is more aligned with my older style of work as it revolves around an animated comedy show. The other… Will be something a bit more interactive on a real life level.

When you first started drawing did you think you could make a career out of it?

I knew I could fall in love with it, that’s what mattered and what got me places.

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If you liked this article then check out the interview with Supreme Team artist Joe Wills

The Dark History Con

in Pop Culture by
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The Dark History Con is an annual event showcasing the darker side of history. Crime, gangsters, serial killers, spree killers, assassinations, public enemies, women’s suffrage, the civil rights struggles, Native massacres, tragic events, anything not covered in “history books”. Lest we forget, it is the victims of these events that are the most important to remember. The Dark Con isn’t to glorify any of these people or events. They are however part of our history, a part that is very important to remember and learn from. By bringing together the authors, artists and others who are intimately familiar with these events and their effects the Dark History con is a unique and entertaining show. To get the 411 we got with Brian Ward who conceived and put this convention together.

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What is the Dark History Con about? 

My purpose in putting it together has to do with educating people as to the events and psychology behind the events that fall into the darker realm of man’s history. There are so many aspects of history that people just are not aware of. Through no fault of their own, they just haven’t been presented with these things. Or if they have, the importance of them has been lost somewhere. All you have to do is look back through history to see so many instances that repeat each other. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could gain an understanding of that and perhaps stop the cycle? Just a thought. The stated goal of the event is to simply bring together like minds and create a network of friends and connections to share our passion for darker history and educate others as to it’s importance.

 

How did you come up with the idea?

I attended the Crime Scene show in 2013 in Indianapolis. That event was put together by John Borowski, Matthew Aaron, Joe Hiles and Rich Hillen Jr. and it had a three year run. It was there that I got the idea, those guys were all great and supportive of what I wanted to do. While their shows were heavier on entertainment value, they had bands and such, surrounding the genre, mine is more about growing the genre and making things educational and still fun.

What guests do you have scheduled to appear?

The list is probably too long for this article but EVERYONE is listed on our facebook pages and the website. Some highlights would be Seth Ferranti, world famous artist Jeff Gaither, John Borowski, Gary Jenkins, Corvis Nocturnum, Judith Yates, the list goes on. We have authors, artists, filmmakers and a few others scheduled to appear. We have one pretty infamous guest announcement coming up the first week of September. This guy has seen his fair share of media attention and promises to make a splash!

What can people expect at the Dark Con?

People can expect to learn about all manner of “dark things”. A large number of people will confess to being interested in true crime but feel it is still somewhat taboo. We are providing a place for those people to feel comfortable, be who they are and make some new friends along the way. We are having a number of our guests speaking and some will be screening their films as well. We have a couple fun guests that everyone will love. The original Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo, the Z.O.D. St Louis chapter will be bringing their zombie hunting vehicle and equipment and who knows what else we will get!

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How many people do you expect?

Being a first time type of event in a city full of events, it is tough to guess. I would really hope to have a few hundred. I personally will be happy to have an attentive audience of a couple hundred and if they are satisfied and happy, then we can only grow from there.

What special events do you have planned?

We have 9 people scheduled to speak, we have at least 3 films set to screen, one of which was shot in Champaign over 20 years ago but has NEVER been screened there so that is exciting. We have recently lined up a Hollywood make-up artist that everyone should recognize. The Z.O.D will be recruiting and showing off the skills needed to survive the zombie apocalypse and there may be more coming in the next coupls of weeks.

Tell us about your crowd funding venture?

The crowd funding venture has been enlightening to say the least. We originally launched a GoFundMe campaign back in January in an attempt to build a budget for the show. It was up for three months and never even garnered and penny contribution. I re-launched it a month or two ago and we have been fortunate enough to raise a bit over $300.00, not much but being unproven and new, it is better than where we were. Sponsors have helped a lot and every guest doing this out of their own passion and not commanding crazy fees, is really the only reason we have been able to put it together.

What is it that you like about true crime stories?

For me it has always been about the psychology behind these things. How does someone get to a point where they can do the things they do? The mind is endlessly fascinating and we will never have all of the answers. For me, that means there will always be more to learn and I truly enjoy learning all I can so I should never run out of things to read about and explore!

Check out their website: darkhistorycon.com.

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