33 Years

1976 - I was born.
1977 - I moved to America.
1978 - I spoke my first words in English.
1979 - I started pre-school.

1980 - I went to kindergarten and hated it.
1981 - We moved from Indiana to New Jersey.
1982 - Mrs. Ellis gave me books to read by Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. Then I won the Read-A-Thon.
1983 - I started third grade and went for half the year.
1984 - I moved to Delaware. I finished third grade at Highlands Elementary in Wilmington.
1985 - I started fourth grade. Mrs. Edwards didn't like me.
1986 - I was permitted to take photographs as part of the Talented and Gifted kids. I took a photo of my brother playing football in the snow. The T&G teacher thought it was a really good photograph.
1987 - I had my first girlfriend. We went out for two weeks. She broke up with me by the yellow lockers.
1988 - I was singing with the Chorus and playing saxophone a lot.
1989 - I made my first film about slavery still existing in the United States. It was deemed as impressive and I was allowed to shoot music videos during history class.

1990 - I played soccer and tennis for my high school.
1991 - I started getting more into Drama classes.
1992 - I got into Governor's School for Acting.
1993 - I did a lot of acting. I wrote and directed my first play. I filmed friend going out to McDonald's, trying on women's clothing, and various strangeness.
1994 - I listened to Nirvana, got suspended from school, and read Dostoevsky's Idiot.
1995 - I started college. I didn't like it. I wanted to go to acting or film school.
1996 - I started playing in rock group Cecil's Water and dropped out of college.
1997 - I played music everyday for about six hours a day.
1998 - I did the same thing in 1998.
1999 - The band ended and I started painting regularly. Then I went back to school because that's what made sense.

2000 - I graduated from college after returning from hiatus.
2001 - I got married and started graduate school at Naropa University.
2002 - I switched my major from poetry to fiction.
2003 - I stopped working and just wrote in my spare time. I wrote THE WHOPPER STRATEGIES.
2005 - My first marriage ended and I moved to Los Angeles.
2006 - I worked as a Dub Logger, Associate Producer, and Post Production Coordinator in Hollywood.
2007 - I moved to Korea for what I thought would be six months and ended up being two years.
2008 - I started the screenplay for THE HUMAN WAR.
2009 - I got married again. Then I filmed THE HUMAN WAR and moved back to America.
2010 - ???

Are vooks the future of publishing?

I visited the Vooks site and previewed a couple of their titles. I also visited Myebooks to see about other ventures that were possible for immediate experimentation outside of an exclusive corporate model. I can definitely see potential in offering vooks. At present though, there isn't much imagination involved with the titles. For example, Vook.com has a Sherlock Holmes title that touts a simple video explaining why opium dens were used as shock value by fiction authors of the time. Then it has a few wiki links to explain unfamiliar terms. That's it for the first couple pages. We don't get to really fuel the reading and visual experience together.

I expected that a Vook would simply be music or video that offered a visceral connection to the material - almost like a soundtrack to what was being read. As far as material that would provide instructional video outside text, one would assume this would work best with sex scenes, violence, or instructional videos i.e. "cooking shows," etc.

If I were to make a vook, I would make it much more integrated than it is presently. Right now a vook isn't worth a consumers time. True integration would require more creativity on the parts of the creators. Authors would need to be versed in multimedia tools, or have collaborators who have a deeper connection to material than the 70,000 random filmmakers at TurnHere who provide video content for Vook.com.
Of course, all Vook.com needs to be an immense success is one title that sells. Their push for fitness and cooking vooks is the right way to go. These will generate sales and interest, but what about fiction? Will they even be able to assist a person's imagination unless they go deeper into the video aspects of what happens with auditory and visual signals?

In order to effect fiction with visual sensations that would push text further into a reader's imagination, video would need to appear simultaneous to text. We would either need to read text much like subtitles as video proceeds, or have a timer linked to a page view to launch a video after a certain amount of time. These clips would not need to be long in duration. You could have a simple droning that would mirror the da-dum da-dum of Jaws, or the ominous keyboard sound in Halloween.

Such audio triggers combined with dirty images of arms flailing, etc. would be ample material for horror fiction, but there isn't much to work with outside genre fiction. Can you imagine a literary fiction novel transformed into a vook? Is there really anything to a vook other than having someone read/imagine for you? Wouldn't it be better to just watch a film adaptation?

I believe vooks will be the norm in a few years. As gaming technology meets the primitive state of vooks presently, we will start to see more interactive experimentations. The key for all of this will be hackers who devise their own vooks and make them available for download as independent entities. These selections and collaborative mags will pave the way for how vooks will incorporate audio and video. I also believe that Flash animation will be the key behind the most successful vooks. People aren't interested in live action depictions. We need to correlate with the illustration models that were provided earlier. That is why graphic novels and poetry will be successfully mutated if brought into a vook format. The only question is how to make a vook without signing up to a piece of shit site that takes all your money. Then, of course, comes the never-ending question for our digital generation - how would it get distributed?

The Human War Movie: Last Days

My last night in Ohio Avenue was spent on the floor just like I began 44 days ago.

James and I spent the whole day yesterday cleaning. He rocked a shitload of dishes. I was on chachkie duty.

We filmed the potato guns firing in Cortland at Keith McAleer's house. This is one of his sweet puppies with James Roehl. I am pretty sure both were sleeping as I took this picture. I would like to join them when I get on the plane in a couple hours.

Tom and I are pretty ragged in this photo. All I remember is that it was a cold day to stand out in the snow shooting potatoes.

Tom and I constructed a mini-set for JIMMY'S POTATO GUN ASSEMBLY VIDEO. I laid out a bunch of random things on the table, including cereal, spoon, saw, hammer, PVC piping, jigsaw, stapler, and a deck of cards. It looks like Tom added donuts to the mix as well. I see a sprinkled one in the picture above.

Lizzie helped me paint the backdrop for JIMMY VISION. It is probably one of my favorite pieces that I got to do.

(Lizzie did the Campbell's soup can. There was no way I could draw that well.)

Keith McAleer and Thomas Henwood check out his performance on the EX1.

Our last day of principal photography was filled with little rubies here and there. Jared Greene offered the first jewel by pointing out how light readings were identified on the monitor.

Eugene was a little grease monkey! He really put the Chevy Celebrity back into shape. I couldn't help but laugh as he pulled out a tube from the engine and said, "Um...I'm pretty sure this is supposed to be attached to something."

He was right. By the time I got to see under the hood later in the day, I was more than impressed by the sheer number of zip ties that had been amassed to hold the various degenerating tubes and instruments in place.

"Looks like Frankenstein," I said.

"Yup," James agreed. "Car of Frankenstein."

Joanie Walkoff holds up the tee shirt that Lizzie painted. Talk about amazing? I can't wait for Lizzie to give me my tattoo when I come back to Youngstown for the premiere. I think I'll get all my tattoos from her from now on.

Press for Film and Wrapping Principal Photography

We made Sunday's cover in The Vindicator! Elise Franco wrote a great article. They included five of Geoff Hauschild's amazing photos.

We are now busy cleaning up. We will be back in town in March to shoot some B-roll of the city. I'll put updates here as things move along in the editing room and with distribution.

Stan Boney will be interviewing Noah Cicero about his book and the film on ABC's WYTV channel 33 on Tuesday night.


I Ate Mr. T and Howled

I cut my hair to improve morale on the set and it gave everyone a good laugh. I walked onto set to people hooting and hollering. Only James Roehl suggested that I actually looked tough.

"You look good," he said. "I need to get one."

"No," I said.

"No, I mean. I would like to get one. Not right now. I mean, I would do it after I'm done with the acting."

"No," I said. "It'll be more difficult for you to get work."

This is where we got into a wild fistfight. Actually, that is not true. I simply suggested that it might be difficult to get acting work with a mohawk, until he was super famous, which he probably will be anyway, so who knows? Maybe, he should just do whatever he wants to do. That sounds like the right answer to me.

"Okay," James said. "I am going to get one tomorrow."

"Good," I said.


Jared Greene (Key Grip) told me yesterday that it was difficult to take me seriously with a mohawk. I told him I ate Mr. T for breakfast. Then we discussed what would be our next practical joke to play on the crew. I am hoping someone will get tied to their bed.

Days 18-21: Chevy Celebrity Coughs Blood

Uncle Pooch helps us contemplate how badly the Chevy is doing.

"You either got a bad battery or alternator," he nodded to me.

"Yeah," I agreed.

"You probably got a lot more things wrong in this pile a heap too."


"Well, we might as well get a battery off that Mac in the back. Just make sure you get it back to me."

"That's nice of you, Pooch."

"Well...you want some more?" Pooch holds out a pouch of Redman.

"Okay," I say.

"You ain't getting dizzy yet."

"It's starting to get to me."

Pooch smiles and puts the pouch in his back pocket. I follow two steps behind him.

The Chevy Celebrity stalled nine times on the way to our location in Cortland. At one point, Todd Maki simply rolled down the backroads in reverse because I had to pop the car into drive without stopping to get the thing going.

I have a video of this Matrix-like maneuver. Apparently, they filmed me behind the wheel as well. I was even given a tuba soundtrack with the jokesters put-put-putting the car's sad state in an A cappella fashion: "Bum ba bum Ba bum Ba Bum..."

After the sixth stall on the highway, Todd expressed all our sentiments.

An organic POV of the machine in action. I will have the EUROSPORT insignia forever tattooed in my mind, as I repeatedly tried to honk the horn that did not work on this dinosaur of automobiles.

Days 14-18: Filming at the Oaks and Plaza Donuts

We shot at Plaza Donuts on Belmont today. Here is some of the team: TJ Hellmuth (DP), Thomas Henwood (Co-Director), Kene Holliday (ELIJAH), yours truly, and James Roehl (MARK SWIFT).

Kene gave James some good advice about acting: "Take care of your body and it'll treat you well."

Yesterday we finished up at the Royal Oaks bar. Here is a shot of Joanie Wolkoff (KENDRA) and James Roehl (MARK) hamming it up between takes.

It was definitely a long three days. I heard people talking about how pale I looked. The third week of a production is probably not the best time to do interviews, but I took my funny mustache and pale frame in front of cameras for The Vindicator and 21 WMFJ.

Noah Cicero did much better in the interviews and you can watch out for him on a couple other stations throughout the week.

I finally got to direct a bit more at the Oaks. Since I've been needed on the producer side of things for a majority of locations, it is definitely a treat when Tom and I can switch roles and rock out. That was literally the case when we went through the Open Mic sequence at Crapiokie.

Luckily for us, Youngstown has an incredible talent pool. I don't think there was one bad performance in the bunch. We had a roller skater, some poetry, a freestyler (our own John Vinson), and a special guest appearance from the vocalist of Gil Mantera's Party Dream.

Richie is an amazing performer. I could even see him acting in films if he wanted. He is a natural.

Noah and Kene were two peas in a pod. It was good to see them laughing together outside Plaza Donuts.

Kene directed me before we started the day yesterday. "Get a picture of this for my wife," he told me. "Yeah," he continued. "Get in front of the car. Right there! Yes! Yes! Okay. Now you keep doing what you do. Spread that around. Okay! Ready? How does that look? Oh, you got the trees in there and everything! Look at that! That's what I'm talking about."

We had Kene move through the forests to represent his characters interest in natural scenery over a life with human beings. I watched Kene come alive in each take - even taking a tree branch as a prop and extending the branches through his fingers to check the blossoms like he had been living in the woods for his entire life. Kene is definitely an amazing talent. It was a pleasure to see him work and offer bits of wisdom throughout the day.

My favorite moment was when one war veteran at Plaza Donuts heard Kene's performance and told him he agreed with that character's thoughts on war.

"You know," the spectator said. "I fought in Vietnam and I agree with everything you're saying."

"Well," Kene replied with a knowing wink to me, "That's why we're making the movie."

Here is Richie from Gil Mantera's Party Dream letting loose in a spontaneous improv that ended with him asking the audience to embrace the future; "It's only two minutes from now!"

James Roehl has offered the world an incredible performance. I am very excited for his career and the work he will do with each subsequent film in his career.

"You're going to do fine," Kene agreed with me last night at dinner. "Yes, you are going to do very well."

"Thank you," James said in his natural humble way.

I looked at Tom. It was a proud moment. We had started this journey a year and a half ago. It had taken us hours and hours of work. Now with one actor's career being anointed by another, we could see one of the many proud moments of directing an independent film.

I could keep doing this my entire life.

Days 11-13: The Human War Gets Mustaches and Learns How to Kick Flip

We shot the skateboard scene today. Basically, JIMMY (Keith McAleer) explains how to make a potato gun to a riveted audience. Then thy rush off to make good on a "big explosion."

Everyone did a great job in the cold and still hitting their tricks. Joel (pictured above) didn't miss one kick flip all day.

To celebrate we sang Nirvana'a "Come As You Are" together lounge style.

I am pretty sure this is Kyle rocking the ramp.

TJ and Tom roll up handheld, while Tyree skates down to the ramp.

Stephen Andrew (ELLIS) has been helping us with behind-the-scenes footage, acting, and pretty much everything you could imagine. It is hard to imagine this film happening without him. It is also pretty "fortuitous" that he just happened to be our upstairs neighbor. I would have never guessed when I knocked on the door that I would find a poly-artists Van Gogh, or that I would have a friend for life.

The first time I met Jenna I think I scared her off by being gruff and generally disagreeable. Then we both found out that that was just a day in Neverland. Having been hired to do Make-up, Jenna has shelped in every capacity of this film. I am impressed by her energy, strength, and overall professionalism. I have no doubt she will accomplish anything she sets out to do. Hopefully, we will get to work on another film together in the future.

I was told to get picks of the actors in domestic bliss to put into picture frames on the set. Luckily, I managed to get some instant family moments because the actors were so agreeable and easy to direct.

"...Pretend you're nagging him about something..."

"Um...look at the TV. Don't look at the camera. Now put your hand on his knee. There. Okay. That looks good..."

To share in our family atmosphere on this film, Jarrid Green, head of our lighting crew, suggested we all have mustaches. Everyone looks pretty good with them. When we show up on location, most people don't notice until we say something about it.

The inspiration for my mostache was Inigo Montoya from THE PRINCESS BRIDE. When I saw Jarrid after shaving, my first words were, "You kill my father. Prepare to die."

I like the mustache. I think I could rock one for my whole life.

THW Day 10: Filming in JIMMY'S ART STUDIO

We've had folks from all over the place come visit and go. Each leaves us a message and a bit of themselves into the film. Here is one from Elise (I hope Vassar is treating you well, Elise. You could always bail on finals and come back. ; )

Here is a shot of Jimmy's art studio from the monitor. I had the idea to paint the tire before shooting began. This is my favorite piece thus far. Originally, I wrote "Viva La..." and then I changed it to "Viva Ohio!" I think that fit the scene a bit better.

I really like this chair. It's completely covered with mice and text. I used a poem I wrote when I was 23. It works for the piece.

Viva Ohio!

I let this thing drip into being. Tom didn't want me to paint on the proper side, since I already did another painting for another scene on the flip, so I just dripped paint on the reverse and used paper towels as brushes to makes a piece in under five minutes. It's not much, but it's a whole lot of something at the same time. Where is Che now?

I really like "Mammy, Mama." I think it says all the write things for a sex-obsessed teenager. I also like the Freudian undertones. It makes me feel like a rock star too. And, yes, you can plug this in and it shakes.

I painted over another painting for this one. I think it looks better than the other one that was there. But, at the same time, that other one was good too.