All posts by yogi1964

Is it ALL or NOTHING?

I
cannot believe this is true. I just read an email and am beside myself.
Wedgwood Circle Angel Investment Group that I have hailed as an amazing since
they have a mission statement that Abilities United fits into wonderfully – I
mean eHarmony.com could not have matched us any better! And I made the
application deadline on August 29th despite not getting the
application until the evening of August 28th I was so happy and
feeling so good that this match would be accepted and I would have the
opportunity to present my business at their biannual investor
meeting/conference in LA at the end of October! This will do it. I have applied
to several Angels and Angel investment groups to be considered but none of them
have a mission or goal to help out companies in the arts, including films that
will have an overall affect on culture and or society like Wedgwood Circle does! And does Abilities
United Productions goals of “Breaking the Hollywood Stereotypes of Characters
and People with a Disability” not fit perfectly with that?

Is there any reason that you can think of that I, that Abilities United
Productions would be denied by Wedgwood with such a common Mission – with a
niche product that is universally appealing to all audiences – that would have
such an impact on American Cinema, which is a major part of American culture and affect society as a whole as we finally strip
down the inaccurate stereotypes that have been portrayed by the entertainment
media and help end the industry wide discrimination against performers with a
disability as has been the case for the entire history of the motion picture
industry? Where an authentic voice can finally be heard, instead of being
stomped on by well meaning but misguided able bodied people and corporations?

Hell no! Well that is until today when I got the Wedgwood Circle rejection email. I guess
Wedgwood is the same as the rest of the (current) Hollywood
machine! Why I thought this was going to be different I guess is like a child’s
innocence in the toy store at Christmas time! So I guess I will continue to
present to other companies, Angel investors and groups even though I cannot see
and have not seen any that would be so compatible as that of Wedgwood and
therefore maybe should begin to expect to be rejected, laughed at, denied,
ridiculed, and sneered at behind my back as they all wear a politically correct
mask so no one appears the truth in how they obviously feel about those with a
disability – like myself – that we are not worthy individuals and in fact are
nothing more then second or third class citizens with really good parking and a
drain on societies resources, time and energy for the worthy, capable to
participate in society, able bodied individuals! Afterall they have been everytime I present or try to present my mission and vision with Abilities United Productions – I have just chose to ignore them as they have, under false pretenses, dismissed me so easily.

So from now on I guess I should not be so optimistic and begin to see reality as I know so many have wanted to tell me over the past 12 years but I suspect do not want to hurt my feelings – so I should see reality and
go into each potential opportunity with the same pastey, fake smile and pretend to have the
feel good optimism as those that are sitting on the other side of the desk! At
least then we are all on the same page! This way I will not be so adament that they at least listen to the whole presentation so they can see how this is so much more then just another so called “unique” project that aspiring filmmakers try and sell them. That this is so thought out that I can answer every question and objection before it is even raised! After all I am so tired of trying to convince them just to listen past the words “disability” and no become so themselves as their ears immediately go deaf. Then they can deny me before hearing
the whole prospective and not feel bad when they say “so sorry
but cannot help at this time – but try again and good luck you have a worthy
cause!” That way they feel as if they have been equal opportunity individuals and corporations, after all they listened – they allowed me in the fornt door! Who am I to shatter their illusions? Now I can go into it with no expectations, I will feel
no surprises at being rejected!

I have been trying again and again for the past 12 years since I became a
paraplegic. I have run into every obstacle imaginable and I always took it on
as a challenge to overcome – to get around – to conquer! But this – this takes
the cake!

Boy I have really done it this time – risking everything on putting my attention
on this launching of Abilities United Productions full time instead of spending
only the free time after my full time job! I am completely broke and have creditors chasing me right now as I expected this to have been running weeks ago with the promises I had from prosepctive investors who at the last minute pulled the old – I have no way of getting any money at this time routine! Before even looking at – as you guessed – the business plan which when you view the financial spreadsheets will see August as being when I expected to start our cash flow!

I did not expect that my ship would
just come in. In fact I built the damn ship – that is Abilities United
Productions – all I need is the sails – or the fuel for the engines to take
this ship out of the harbor – finally and show everyone how to make it despite
the challenges faced time and time again!

Do you know what motivates me to wake up every morning and get into the empty
wheelchair staring at me right next to my bed all the while knowing that I will
have major physical and emotional challenges all day long as I am dragging half
of my body around? It is taxing even though I ignore and not put too much weight on any of those in my daily routine because I do practice what a I preach in “Deal with it!” But my main motivation is and has been for years, my work. My work that I have
brought altogether and formed Abilities United Productions, created a complete
business plan with financial projections and detailed descriptions of how my
films are going to be different from all previous attempts and how they are
more then just a movie that has the starring character sitting in a wheelchair?
How I have planned every step in the marketing and distribution to increase the
chances of success! Yet everyday I get people and companies pretending to care,
acting like it is so admirable that I do what it is that I do – and that is if
I even get them to listen to the excitement, the passion and the facts that I
have gathered, built, and created into a very commercially viable product!

Is the saying that you can be whatever you want to be nothing more then a cliche? Or an old Army slogan?
A happy little saying we tell our children when they say they want to be an
astronaut, a policeman, the president, an airline pilot? One that after all these years and all
these challenges, work, blood, sweat and tears has come down to? That it is
only true in my mind? And after all isn’t that all that is necessary to make it
true – I believe so therefore I am! So in fact I am a successful writer,
director, producer of unique films that have an impact on culture and society
in a way that is similar to the impact that the filmmakers and the great actor
Sidney Poitier had on black characters and PEOPLE both black and white in the
1960’s? I must already be liberating the characters and actors with a
disability since that is what I have envisioned and worked towards and think in my mind for the past
12 years!

On one hand I soooooo want to continue and brush this off just like I did with
all the ones in the past! Proving that I am that someone that has what it takes
to make things HAPPEN! Just like I truly believe I am and have believed all of
my life – even before I knew exactly what my place was in this crazy world. Now
I do know and have a lot of people who will benefit directly and society will
indirectly. Must push forward as I always do! And on the other hand – for the
first time – it seems like this must be a futile fight and therefore a waste of time.

***************************************  *********************** ********************

I
cannot believe that I am writing all of this here and that I will publish this
here on my blog because I am the last person who wishes to show any sign of
weakness, of questioning what it is I am doing, any vulnerabilities since I
must keep a positive face on this all and at all times! Otherwise it might fail and that is not an option to me. And for everyone’s sake so
that they will believe, even if common sense has them relying on believing in my believing it will happen, my optimism,
my vision, my passion, my dedication, sacrifices and work toward this as a
serious and worthy cause that can be and will be achieved. And because in
reality, it is my everything! I have sacrificed so much and placed so much
importance on achieving this mission and vision because it is so much a part of
who I am – in what I am – it is the passion of my life – and I cannot see
anything beyond the things I have set up as Abilities United Productions in my
life! Even my closest friends know how dear this is and how faithful I am to
staying positive and never showing any fear, any thoughts of possible failure,
any vulnerabilities……but……I guess if I were to admit it it is only showing that
I am human. Maybe?


Well since as I said earlier that I have risked everything in making this happen and no longer rely on it it happening someday as I work in my free time around the full time job and are now not able to find two dimes to rub together I guess I will not go and
get drunk so I can wallow in my self pity. Or repress it by going to a strip
club and at least pretend that shapely, beautiful women think of me as Mr. Stud and want to be with me since there are no strip clubs in this area of Utah (I do need to move back
home to SoCal)! Wow what I have I gotten into!

I guess that is a good thing
since it only leaves one option. The option to get back on the phone and call
people to the cause of Abilities United Productions that is dedicated to bring
together those of all Abilities United in “Breaking the Hollywood
Stereotypes of Characters and People with a Disability.” Even if that
“bringing together” remains just me – maybe, just maybe it will not be
for very long! And if I keep singing the other cliches in my head that keep me
going, like how you have to knock on a hundred doors and expect 99 to say no –
but that it only takes one to say yes – may need to be modified to say a
thousand doors with 999 that say no or maybe ten thousand doors since I have
been at this a long time and have already had too many “no’s” – but still I have to look for that door! I do believe
it exists. So who ever said that it isn’t good to be poor – must have been born
into wealth! Now I do not have time to go along with not having the money right
now to go buy a drink and get drunk or diving into a pool of gorgeous women who
all want me…well at least in my mind do and so long as I have enough cash in my pockets!

Again this is only leaving one option – to continue on with
the cause – otherwise there will not be much point in waking up tomorrow and
looking at my wheelchair staring at me! That is the way I see it – I have
always been a one way or the other, do or die, win or lose, all or nothing! So far it is nothing but my hopes, my dreams, my
work up to this point and really isn’t that all
I need? It is if I am ever going to find that door that I know exists but seems
to be hiding o rbe among the line of so many that they all look alike! Only one thing left to do, knock, knock!

 Edited: I am adding this song to this blog entry for a good reason – I love the song and it has nothing to do with loving the television program that used it as a theme song! Speaking of which this is the shorter version that was used for the opening of the program. Listen to the words – they are perfect and I love them! I play this tune whenever I need a little reminder!

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Wheelchair Life = Death?

    I just
caught a commercial on the E! channel for their show “Dr. 90210” and
the cosmetic doctor who is the focus of the reality show is in his karate
outfit talking about a upcoming fight or practice with an opponent that he is
already believing his is out matched and therefore will lose, and says, “I’m
going to get killed and wind up in a wheelchair.”

 
What? Is it me or when a person is killed don’t they end up in a
coffin not a wheelchair? Are we now transporting deceased people from
their location of death, to the morgue to the funeral home and then to the
grave in a wheelchair? Although I hear from some that a coffin can costs as
much if not more then a wheelchair this is ridiculous thinking and just goes to
prove the thoughts society in general has on life or in their opinion the lack
of life in a wheelchair.


I have gathered over the past 12+ years since my spinal cord injury that people
put public speaking and living in a wheelchair – even as a an active person in
a wheelchair like myself who despite having survived a complete severed spinal
cord at T-7 and having complete use of my upper body – they would rather die –
be dead then to live as a paraplegic or to address people in a public
speaking setting!


I always tell people who I hear say that that they would be surprised at what
they could do when put in a traumatic situation. Many don’t believe me and
maybe they are correct because they think that way and they think that way
because of the way Hollywood
and the media in general depicts those with a disability in a wheelchair – but
the majority of the people who I see that go through traumatic circumstance and
survive are positive, active people of society.


This is just another reason why I want to produce my screenplays into films to
help break the stereotypes and the thoughts that using a wheelchair for
mobility isn’t the end of life – only life as you knew it!


Interesting on the James Gandolfini HBO documentary program, which I highly
recommend about Iraq
war vets coming home after a serious near death experience that leaves them
disabled in one way or another – they call the day they survived their
experience as their “Alive Day”! I have always kind a
celebrated April 1, as a second birthday since that is the day back in 1995
when I survived my spinal cord injury and now LIVE LIFE as a para, but
never called it anything other then the day of my accident! But life does go on
for those who will believe in themselves like those returning soldiers in this
program hosted by James Gandolfini and I guess those like this Dr. Ray on the
E! show is not one of those who believes in himself – other wise life in a
wheelchair and death would not be associated in the same sentence as
equals! 


So listen up doc and the pessimistic out there, you are obviously blind or
ignorant, either way you are disabled in your thinking as I am not rolling
through life in my chair as a zombie in “Dawn of the Dead”! I am
still living life to the fullest. I am not saying it isn’t without its’
challenges and without compromising some things and doing others a little
different, learning the word adapt as a verb but just like everyone else there
are good times and bad – ups and downs and if it weren’t then it wouldn’t be
life at all! And just as I did prior to my accident I shake those down times as
quick as possible so that I can get on with the good times! If you don’t then
it doesn’t matter if you use a wheelchair for your primary mode of mobility or
not you will end up in a grey world of four walls in self pity and not living
life –  I and most whom I know that find themselves in
circumstances they didn’t think they could live through CHOOSE to LIVE LIFE
and I will promote that to the end of my days!

 

Can you see why it is
necessary to have movies where the disability isn’t the focus of the film?
Where it plays a part of the featured character, just as their gender, race or
creed does but not the whole of the person! It is past time to have
proper representation
of those with a disability in featured movies
from Hollywood!
Well as an indie producer, writer and director giving an honest and authentic
voice to those with a disability it would be great to have Hollywood’s support in funding, marketing and
distribution as I have detailed in my business plan so that the movie will have
the impact and exposure that it deserves!


Abilities United Productions will play a significant role in
“Breaking the Hollywood Stereotypes of Characters and People with a
Disability”
both in front of and behind the camera as history
will soon record as a “turning point”
for those with a
disability in Hollywood! But that time has a schedule (as my marketing and
distribution strategies need a 2009 theatrical release) as I have detailed and
we need it so that maybe in the future even cosmetic surgeons in Beverly Hills
will not automatically think and feel that life in a wheelchair is equal to
death and instead correctly know that those with a disability are active
members of today’s society!
But as far as public speaking goes…well
that will have to wait for someone else to address!

 

It’s a Twister! No! It’s an Earthquake? No! Amusement Park Ride? No!

I
remember when this new camera technique was first launched – it was crazy –
super smooth and meant you could also go into place that were small tight
corners, places a film camera has never been! I thought that “The Shinning” was
the first time a stedicam was used – at least on a major production. Maybe it
was just the first time Kubrick got to use it. And used it he did! Following
little Danny around on his Big Wheel through all the rooms and hallways of the Overlook Hotel! It was
amazing as to get that kind of shot so smooth and steady it would’ve taken several shots, several times
when the dolly track had to be moved! Or be really shaky in attempting a hand
held maneuver. It was revolutionary!

In
the early 1990’s when a couple of television programs on MTV used hand held
digital cameras and it caused a unique effect – some intended but most because
the budget and schedule didn’t allow for anything better!

I
don’t remember when I first saw Hollywood use
the shaky camera effect – except that it was around the late 80’s, early 90’s –
and that it was originally meant to capture that great 14-25 year old segment!
At least that was the commentary going around from those in and out of the industry. Filmmakers found that it was a cheaper and quicker way to shoot some scenes and
it became a predominate technique for action scenes, especially fighting scenes
because the angle of the camera – to the stuntmen swinging their arms and
kicking their legs did not have to be precise so that audiences could tell
there was never any actual contact.

I
can understand that for the most part. It is also supposed to give the audience
the feel or rather the look as if you were in the room and moving really
quickly or fighting yourself! But since then it is also used if the character
is running or jogging or walking real fast for an OTS or POV shot. Any kind of
activity nowadays seems to require the shaky camera effect. I cannot take it
any more!!!! Let me say that again – louder I CANNOT TAKE IT ANYMORE!

A
few months back I re-watched “48 Hrs.” as it is one of the pre-recorded VHS
tape I still have and wanted to see it. Mind you this is an action flick and
yet I never saw a shaky freakin’ camera shot throughout the movie. I cannot
tell you how overall satisfied I was in watching that movie – aside from the
great performances from Murphy and Nolte. Great storytelling, great action –
guns firing, buses hijacked and run all over the road and all smooth non-shaky scenes! Sure you had to have more WS when  you’re doing it without a ahndheld or forcing the camera to shake but I still loved it!

I
am right now watching the “The Island” on HBO2 and this is what finally got me to
writing this blog I have had on my mind for months and months. First I really
love this movie – it is a storytelling action flick that makes you think –
especially about cloning! (For the record it still does not keep me from my
STRONG support of stem cell research! But that is for another blog!) Overall it
thought it was also shot beautifully. The golden sun on that faces of Scarlett
and Ewen as opposed to the white pale faces of those in the real world they
encounter – although Steve Buscemi there isn’t much even a talented Make-up Artist and DP could do to change his pale skin type – no
offense Steve, I love ya but I’m just saying! But a good contrast is when
Lincoln and Tom – both played by Ewen, meet in Tom’s house. You can see it a
lot.  Anyway besides all of that –
getting back to the point and the one – if not only criticism of the way it was
shot was the shaky camera. Now again there are some scenes I can agree with its
use but I would prefer in small dosages. Even on the semi-truck speeding down
the freeway in the futuristic Los
Angeles. And what really got me on that scene was the
fact that when you have the camera on Scarlett Johansson – DO NOT SHAKE the
camera – even for effect, especially when it is a head shot and all the care taken to film her in the
golden touch which to me did justice to her natural beauty. You’re messing it
up seriously with a shaky camera.

Am
I saying that you must sacrifice the action or the picture on the whole, the
theme of it all just so that the frame is steady on Scarlett’s face? No. Yes, I
mean no! And by the way – Scarlett I do not intend to demean or make your
natural beauty a superficial thing – you are an incredible actor as well as
being incredibly attractive and I hope to work with you one day or at least meet and hopefully become friends!

But what I am saying is that there is too much
sh-sh-sh-sh-sh-shaky-shaky camera in movies today – and if I were to reduce the
amount – I would surely make sure it was when the camera was on Scarlett! I
have had many people agree with me on this. The shaky camera that is –
EVERYBODY would agree with my comments on Scarlett!

One
last example. I saw “The Bourne Ultimatum” opening weekend – and it was great –
I loved it and Matt – you’re the every thinking man’s action spy hero! And this
was an action flick and there was a lot of shaky camera – most of which did not
bother me as much as usual. But two scenes I remember distinctly where it was
really overboard. One was when the chase was on the roof tops and the camera
followed behind those who were chasing Bourne. When they got to the roof they
stopped – looked around for more then a few seconds and then resumed their
chase but the camera NEVER stopped shaking! Whew! TOO, TOO MUCH! The second was
inside the CIA offices – the characters were all in one room and the camera was
shaky.

Alright
lastly like I said before – there are times when there is going to be shaking.
POV from inside a car, fighting scenes – although one more note on that even
though it is off topic a bit – the two scenes that got very good reaction from
the audience was when Bourne kicked ass in the hallway over three or four dudes
and the last hit was not even on screen and people went “Oooooooo” as they know
without actually seeing what happened! And second was when Bourne used a
hardcover book off a shelf and placed it with the cover facing him to punch it,
suddenly I cannot remember why – if it was to hit someone or to break something
– but I made a mental note of the reaction from the audience that I interpreted
as a good reaction! I mention this because not every action scene needs to be
filled with blow them up, blood splattering everywhere and for economy sake using
a shaky camera effect for it to be effective!

Let
me finish by saying – I will not work with a DP that likes the shaky camera
effect. Only when it is necessary because of the shooting circumstances – in a
tight spot where a stedicam harness is out of the question – or just has to be
shaky. The movies are not Shakee’s Pizza or Shake ‘N Bake (unless you’re Ricky
Bobby!) I get a headache from being in a theatre where the camera shots are
shaky too often and unfortunately that happens in too many movies, so along
with my vow to keep the shaking down in my movies – I plea with all DP and Directors to also
keep it down! Thanks!  

  

Weekend Work!

 
Alright I have to vent a little here. I am finishing the Abilities United Productions, LLC Business Plan and of course I am at the part I dread, the financial projections! I’ve got 76 pages written and although it was hard and took a lot of time – I found great satisfaction in finding the ways to articulate, in business language, what a great path we are on in “Breaking the Hollywood Stereotypes of Characters and People with a Disability.” I am going to trademark that saying as soon as the biz is up and can afford it! But this whole process, which has come with many obstacles, even in just general information about the motion picture industry and the indie sector. I need facts and figures and all kinds of info to backup why I think that Abilities United Productions can be a success. And again that is just at being an indie production company! Of course the MPAA puts out theatrical, box office figures and stats every year about the numbers the previous year. And that does help but only goes so far! Finally after months and months of searching and gathering I finally got what I think will put it all together. Still wanting on some details about the average exhibitor’s and distributor’s cut and fees to legit the financials that – did I mention I am pulling out my hair on right now to complete? I do all of this because I love to write, direct and produce. How does that Steve Miller tune go…”You got to go through hell to get to heaven.” Most who have actually seen those a movie set would not think that production is all that much like heaven – but that is when I am in my element and I do love it!

The next challenge was in articulating my vision and how it will differ from past attempts to feature characters with a disability! I won’t go into a long explanation of what I came up with – because it would bore you and I it is important to be able to explain it to others, including all those in the industry that you want to do business with and especially in these startup days and that means to investors too! So the short of it is:

Abilities United Productions is an independent motion picture and television production company dedicated to bring together those of all Abilities, United in “Breaking the Hollywood Stereotypes of Characters and People with a Disability” on both sides of the camera.

Unique Motion Picture Products and Service
The products produced by Abilities United Productions are unique and different from all other production companies and all previous products that resembled them in theme. The Company has combined three elements that together make an entertainment product worthy of capturing audiences of all types and from all over the world. Our difference is in bringing together all three of these elements:

  1. Disability content-specific material – the featured or starring character is one with a disability and where the disability it not the focus of the film. The key is having realistic characters and engaging stories that will capture audiences and in most cases the disability is no more then the gender, race, creed, age of the character.
  2. Authentic – in using those with a disability in the key roles, primarily the  actor portraying the character will have the same or similar disability. Other roles can include the writer, director, etc. Nearly all previous movies that featured a character with a disability was portrayed by able bodied actors whom audiences knew in the back of their mind would not have a disability when they went home after the work day was done.
  3. Universally Appealing – Successful stories in the entertainment industry must attract the widest possible audience. While all of Abilities United products have the first two elements, they also contain this third one which is expected to be appealing to able bodied, those with a disability and everyone in between.

Along with the unique combination of elements, these products also provide a valuable service by hiring performers/actors with a disability. The Screen Actors Guild published a report in mid-2005 documenting the incredible discrimination toward performers with disabilities throughout the industry. One of the main excuses detailed was the incorrect notion that those with a disability can only be hired for roles that were specifically written with a disability, yet in nearly every single role that featured, in a starring or supporting role a character with a disability has been cast with an able bodied actor.

Abilities United strives for the general qualities that every producer seeks and is common in the movies that have had success. That includes a great story (screenplay), Hollywood Star Talent/Power, professional production personnel and an end product with high quality. In addition to that, Abilities United has an advantage over other independent productions with its unique elements combined, along with specific marketing and distribution gives their films the best chance for success.

Will you participate in the great turning point for characters and people with a disability in Hollywood?

**** Okay I am not sure you think that was the “short of it” but it is as concise as I can make it! That is what I copied and pasted from the Business Plan. Like I said combining what makes Abilities United unique with the opportunities for independent films is a little tricky, especially with all the closely guarded info, stats and figures about the industry, but I feel confident I now have a very good Business Plan. I liken all of this with setting up a huge domino display and I am close to that last placement of bones and will then push the first one and watch the rest of them fall in place! And if one of them bones fails to knock over the next one, it will just require reaching over and giving that one a delicate push or maybe a more forceful flick of the finger! Nonetheless it WILL HAPPEN people! I have actually been putting all of this together for years and feel I have a very well thought out and prepared plan to make a success out of the Hollywood unknown of using Performers with the same or similar disability as the character’s that are in starring roles and will be directed by myself, another person with a disability!

Well I guess my break is up! Self discipline is a key for the self-employed! And btw, who blogs on their break? I have to finish the financials this weekend so I can actively chase down more investors to get the company off the ground! I cannot stand to do these “numbers” as I am not an accountant – but I have to to make sure we are moving forward and I can feel we are near to exploding on the scene!
 
Who’s with me?

Yeah!  

Biz Update

Things with the formation of the business are moving along. And I am very excited about the current business environment with what we are doing in establishing Abilities United Productions as the premier motion picture and television production company that specializes in content-specific, authentic and universally appealing entertainment!

The marketing of this business with a unique mission is one that has to be aggressive and clear. Although we are producing films that have the starring character as a person with a disability, and primarily at this time, characters using a wheelchair(that is what I have written), and using only actors with the same or similar disability should attract those with a disability but are not exclusively targeted to those with a disability. Some think that our mission of using the content-specific material (meaning the screenplays that are written with the main character has a disability) and are authentic (meaning are written and directed by me, a paraplegic and are acted by actors with a disability) that they will only be interested by those within the disabled consumer market! That is part of the stereotypes that we are breaking! Although this is a point where I like to point to the facts that the disabled consumer market is the largest and fastest growing minority in America – with 54+ million – and a spending power of over $1 Trillion a year – which many other industries have now found out and are specifically marketed to attract – this is a great “Segment” of moviegoers that we hope will become loyal followers not only coming to future films that we produce but also buying the DVD and other merchandise from the current movie because of our realistic and honest portrayals.

Some come to these conclusions which brings concerns that it will only be attracted to those in the disabled community but do so without ever looking at the “universally appealing” part of our mission – without ever reading my scripts! But that is where nothing but another challenge lies!

There is a lot of concerns and questions but I can give an answer for each and every one of them! So now I am currently getting some attention and from those who will look at the whole picture – since I also point out that  James Cameron’s next  blockbuster movie – which is in production now – features a character  in the starring role of his futuristic, sci-fi, action movie is a paraplegic! And when the audiences go in droves to see this movie that currently has a release date in 2009 – Abilities United Productions will be positioned and therefore known for bringing characters and people with a disability to the front of the entertainment business – and when all the other studios want to follow Cameron’s success, they will know where to look for authentic projects – ABILITIES UNITED PRODUCTIONS!

We are in this for the long run – not just for one movie! Finally a production company specifically setup and doing this over and over again! That is what the difference is between the movies of the past that were produced and acted by well-meaning Al Jolson’s in a wheelchair! They were looking at just doing that one picture! I am getting investors to look at more then just one movie – and how this will become a “turning point” in Hollywood for all of those with a disability both in front of and behind the camera and the audiences too!  Look out – Here we come!

Welcome back!

Well the website is finally update with a new look and more concise content! I hope you like it. And I invite you to visit the Contact page and fill out the Feedback Form if you haven’t already! Let me know what you really think! LOL!

Ok I also have to apologize for not keeping up with the blog. Although I anticipate being a lot more busy in the coming months, I will be making more regular entries. Sad that the last entry was my honest and realistic review of a movie that I cannot believe was as successful at the box as it was – and now finally part two of part two is about to be released! And although I didn’t read any reviews before I saw “Dead Man’s Chest”, I have seen some short ones already and it looks to be only somewhat better then part one of part two! But I will still make my own judgments as I am still hoping it will give more then the last and be like the first. But I can assure you I WILL NOT see it opening weekend. I do not want to contribute to it’s opening day and weekend results because the last one so disappointed me. I was glad that “Spiderman 3” whoop it’s butt in the opening day and weekend totals! ANd I so hope that Pirates part 3, no I mean part two of part two, doesn’t cross the bar Spidey just did!

OK the new blog entries will contain reviews when they hit me either really good or really bad and I have to. They will also contain entries that talk about film productions, styles and the like. And lastly but far from least they will be updates with the company and our films, namely the short “Glacial Breeze” which we will be shooting as soon as the funds are secured. Once complete it will kick off our promotional tour at the film fests and the PR work so that everyone who is anyone in Hollywood will know who “Abilities United Productions” is and what we do! They will know that Abilities United is the home for Hollywood with disabilities and that we bring and honest and authentic looks to our films that feature characters and actors with a disability!

This is an exciting time because we are starting to see more characters in Hollywood films that have a mobility disability as we focus on. Cameron’s “Avatar” and the recent release of “The Ex” which I will comment on in another entry. But this is a perfect time for us to position ourselves as the Premier motion picture and television production company that features characters and people with a disability. Look out Hollywood – here we come! 

Seven Deadly Sins of the Seven Seas!

Seven Deadly Sins of the Seven Seas!

Wow! Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.
What a movie huh? Broke a single day record and followed up with making more money then any for the first weekend. The American Cinema audience, the movie goers must like that kind of sequel, huh? I am amazed when I talk to people, especially those whom I know and I feel are far from lazy, couch potatoes with IQ’s that barely reach a high school level, but they just tell me how much they liked this movie! Why?

What in the hell is going on? Hollywood has had a terrible 18-24 months leading into this Summer’s traditional money making season. And it appeared there was no stopping it. Mission Impossible III did respectable money but not what they expected or hoped for. And that is just one example and then comes another sequel with blockbuster hopes in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.  

(Note: If you want to continue with my review skip to the next paragraph. I have some commentary here that as in my usual manner tends to ramble a bit!) I absolutely love going to the theatre to see a movie. It is a regular event that I am always excited for when I enter the lobby. To assure I get one of the few wheelchair accessible seating before able bodied people snag them so they have extra leg room and several feet before the next row and therefore I have to embarrass myself to ask them to sit somewhere else so I can transfer into that seat, have my family and/or friends or date sit with me or else I stay in my chair in one of those spaces where there isn’t any seats. That is what those are there for so hopefully if I am resigned to having to stay in my chair then I again better get there before mommy and daddy put their damn strollers there and then I have to ask those that I have come with to enjoy the movie together, to sit somewhere else – so I arrive much earlier then most. I get my over priced concession goodies and head into the theater! So I find that designated wheelchair accessible seat that finally most theaters have put in a more reasonable place within the theatre instead of the very first freakin’ row or the very last freakin’ row (in those cases I never seem to have the problem of others sitting in those seats and I could usually arrive with the crowds instead of being way too early and having to read the slide show on the screen for the seventh time before the commercials start and don’t get me started with that!) and so there is already about 10-15 people in the theatre and guess what? Two of them are sitting in the wheelchair seating area! Fortunately I am in one of the newer theatres that have an entire row for wheelchair users and there are others available. It is the principal of it though! If the theatre is full and there are some seats available on the accessible row then by all means please help yourself – I sometimes wish there was a Disability Etiquette course everyone could take! (The Boy Scouts of America have a new merit badge that is called Handicapped Etiquette which I give kudos too but am still upset they call it Handicapped (read a future post on the topic!)  So now I have raised the armrest (yes that is why that those move and none of the other rows have movable armrests – except in the newer theatres I have seen some of them where all the armrests move) transfered into the seat, moved my wheelchair to the open spot right next to me and am now comfortably sitting eye to eye with all the rest of the theatre patrons, since on this occasion I was by myself but is another one of the main reasons I do not stay in my chair whenever possible because then – unlike in most of life’s situations, I am taller then everyone else in the room! Which that just leads to sticking out just as much – although now instead of being ignored people are forced to look at me or sometimes around me! And if I have a date with me then this is real uncomfortable – I sit next to her but not really. I cannot make my movie theatre moves on her from so high up! How can I hold her hand or stretch my arm to rest it around her shoulder!! Date night is ruined if I have to stick out and away from my date! But as I said this time I do not have that problem and am sitting in the theatre seat with my wheelchair next to me.

I am now ready to watch the sequel that I was excited to see. I had seen the Curse of the Black Pearl several times – twice at the theatre and then a few more times on DVD and then HBO. I would watch it right now if it was on! That was a very entertaining movie and I felt as one who used to go to Disneyland for school field trips that they captured the feel of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. They had a great storyline, character development and special effects that were perfect for that movie. Surely this sequel will match that right? Or at the very least come close since all the key elements are in place for a summer blockbuster of a movie, right?

WRONG! WAY #&$%@) WRONG! By sometime between half way and three quarters I couldn’t take it. I contemplated staying which I usually do because I paid for it and you never know it could turn for the better or I could learn something of what not to do but sometimes after it is over I regret staying immensely (Like in “Domino” anybody waste their money on that flick – wished I took my gut feeling and left that one in the middle. Kira’s strip dance was good but not worth sitting through the rest of that crap) and then I did what I never do – I transferred back into my chair while the movie was still on. I remained there to watch it because I felt that it was near the end – I could feel the third act coming – but it went on and on and on. I felt like I was at the end of the Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King – only this final act NEVER came! They kept leading to an end where you can see what conclusion is going to happen, but then it doesn’t and they continue on and on and on. 

Well, because I like to read the credits and wait until the able bodied crowd leaves the theatre before I move my chair into the walk way to transfer into which annoys most because I am then in there way to get to the bathroom and release all of the overpriced already but it was only twenty-five cents more for the extra large Coke, or to get a cigarette lit as soon as possible or to get to their car and beat the traffic out of the parking lot and I am in their way which will cause them precious time – they never say it but I often see it behind the cloud of politically correct politeness – but this time I was already in my chair and when the end – which come to find out isn’t the end but just seems to be when they finally ran out of film – I rushed the exit as if I was one of those still addicted to nicotine! 

So why did I find this so bad? Because in my opinion it did not live up to the standard that the Curse of the Black Pearl set. 

Here are my Seven Deadly Sins of the Seven Seas!   

First of all the story was too fake and senseless – I never wondered “how are they going to get out of this Curse”. It never engaged me. I could’ve told that in about 30 minutes instead of two and a half hours without an ending. The beginning should have been a clue. The trumped up charges putting Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann in prison? On the day of their wedding day? Was these charges stemming form the end of the Black Pearl? When if I remember correctly it was given that Jack could get on with his life. So now is there another circumstance that in the dialogue that seems to be going in many directions is explaining and I am too dumb to figure out? And Ms Swann’s father has no way of influencing the
new Captain, Mayor, Constable, whatever he is – I have no clue except that somehow he has gotten power over the people. And now he can throw anybody into prison – even those of wealth in a time and society where that meant everything and if you were a member of that upper class you could not be subjugated in most circumstances. Here we go into a minimal, roller coaster of a story that has no common sense applied anywhere! For instance, how does Boot Strap Bill fit into this story? He was responsible for the first curse and now he is somehow connected, even trapped into this one? Cameo appearances by some of the other characters including Barbossa from the Curse of the Black Pearl? Why are they here? How do they fit into this story? And again what is this story? You have to go home and try and figure it all out because the writing is so all over the place that it isn’t making much sense. We have a mysterious compass that Jack never lets out of his sight – though this is the first time we have seen it – Will is forced to find it by this character who just arrived with the Almighty’s power and Jack on some quest that is of such importance that he escaped justice and that Will and Elizabeth aided in. Some guy name Davey Jones with a weird face that keeps moving and a crew of monsters that are chasing Jack. Whew, this is all making sense, to who?

Second no character development. I found myself not rooting for anyone – unlike in the first one I was hoping for Jack Sparrow, and Orlando Bloom and Kira Knightley’s characters to all get what they want – The Black Pearl and to get out of a wedding so they could have a real wedding! Whether it was a humorous bit, like is Captain Sparrow going to keep his hat in the end, or will he run into another woman whom he has loved and left? To the more serious like will he be able to get the Black Pearl back and be recognized as a Captain again? Will Will find his true identity within himself now that it is revealed he is the son of Boot Strap Bill Turner who is responsible for the curse they are all in. And speaking of which will they be able to end the curse? I was never engaged in the Dead Man’s Chest let alone to the level of the Curse of the Black Pearl.

Third was this sequel was filled with cliché after cliché. I hadn’t seen anything this riddled with cliché’s since Con Air and Independence Day. When they’re on the beach and the guys are being guys fighting and the woman is being a woman upset and saying that the boys will be boys. It was pathetic.

Fourth was the special effects – now before you jump down my throat, they were done well but it was too much. The characters under the curse of the Dead Man’s Chest each being some kind of fish or animal or monster of the sea made this too much like a comic book. And not in a good way like Daredevil, Spiderman, Batman, Superman, the X-Men or Sin City all who brought life from the comic book – this one reversed it and went from life into an animated over the top special effects look what I can do with my computer! I quickly grew tired of the special effects here – unlike the Curse of the Black Pearl where the special effects enhanced the movie because it added to the reality of the Curse they were in. It was not over the top or done too much and did not turn it into a b or c rated comic book. At night those with the curse seemed human and set on a mission we all wanted to know about and then find a cure for. When Kira’s character, Elizabeth Swann was being held in the Captain’s room and Barbossa said “You better start believing in ghost stories Ms. Swann. You’re in one now!” and he stepped into the light to reveal that he is really a pile of bones – a walking skeleton – it was brilliant – and a great special effect that worked so well for the story. Dead Man’s Chest again it seemed too ridiculous. The hammerhead shark, the starfish and mangled with barnacles on his head. It just got more and more ridiculous.  

Fifth was the acting – again hear me out – these actors are very good actors but they had little to work with. I do not need to mention the depth of Depp – and when he created the nuances of Jack Sparrow, the way he used his facial expressions to be a part of the character was amazing and why we all fell in love with Jack Sparrow (btw I think that facet of Depps acting can been seen ever since the beginning of his movie career with Edward Scisscorhands – he is a master at using his look to create the story that cannot be said out loud) Knightly is pleasant, Bloom is a fine actor and Jack Davenport I hope we see more of him. Of course I am a little bias because I loved Coupling but he did a great job there and although it was very limited here too. Speaking of which the lack of Geoffrey Rush who is an amazing actor who I have never seen give less then a spectacular performance comes in at the end – oh wait its not the end just the end of part one of the Dead Man’s Chest! But none of them have much to work with because as I stated above there is no story and no character development. Dialogue is contrived and filled with cliché. They have nothing to work from. A real waste of good and great talent.

Sixth was the pointless scenes – it is a rule in filmmaking – in story writing that every scene must lead you toward the conclusion, the third act. The Dead Man’s Chest was filled with scenes that wasted time and had no point to it, did not add to he story and did not lead to the conclusion of the story. Here is one example: When they were shipwrecked on the deserted island and Jack was captured by the natives. First of all the first half of this scene looked like it was taken right out of the master reel of Peter Jackson’s King Kong! I forgot what movie I was watching for this scene. And what was the point to it? What did it contribute to the story? The Characters? Anything? I thought the make-up on Jack Sparrow’s face was funny and the chasing and the crew members being suspended in those wicker balls suspended over a deep gorge and sea below. But that is it. Nothing to it and it adds nothing – it was a waste of time like the ones that included cameos from characters from the first Pirates that I have no idea still how they are related to this masquerade of a story just as many of the other scenes were pointless which brings me to the final reason this movie sucks!

Seventh is what I already mentioned, it was way too long. Exactly two and half hours and on top of that it….did… not…end! There are movies that do not end – The Lord of the Rings – but we are all aware up front that it is a trilogy. Tarantino’s Kill Bill Volume 1 and 2 where again he made it perfectly clear – even in the title that there would not be a conclusion at the end of the first one. But this one gave no indications of that until it happened – suspended the audience like the crewmen in the scene that had no point! How can I get out of this situation? This is not a television series. I do not expect to go to the theatre and see a movie that has a cliffhanger! And if you do then please tell me before hand!

A story that was barely there and what was so mixed up it didn’t make any sense, did not engage me did not even bring the characters into a position where I cared what happened to them, acting that was well below the standard of many of them because they had nothing to work with, cliché after cliché, special effects that were way over the top turning this into some comic book I couldn’t care less about, too many pointless scenes that seems some were made just to accommodate cameos and some that were ripped off from other movies all of which was drawn out and out and out to finally say…come back next year and we’ll tell you what happens! SUCKER!

When I rush
ed the exit and got into my van I kept thinking that word of mouth will doom this piece of crap. Sure it made a lot of money in this opening weekend but people will tell others how disappointing it was and then like many movies the life of it will cease after a month. Then the rest will wait until the DVD comes out. I surely wish I had! But wait no, people continue to see it and it is grossing unheard of money! WHY? Can anyone tell me WHY? I found no redeeming quality in this movie and it was a huge disappointment from the first one which was of tremendous entertainment value.

I am baffled and if this is what the people, the movie goers want then I might have to re-evaluate my wanting to be a filmmaker! I am seriously sadden by the statement this movie is making by the sales – by the people that are seeing it. To me this movie was truly the Seven Deadly Sins of the Seven Seas!