The Human War: Final Shots Completed for Second Unit

For those of you who didn't know, Sangha Films did come through Youngstown to get some additional shots for THE HUMAN WAR. Thomas Henwood, who manned a small crew consisting of himself, Josh Silfen (2nd Unit Director of Photography), and Steven Andrew (MVP All Star), captured the final images to complete the film at the end of March, 2010 in Youngstown.

Bringing back the two stars of the film, Henwood re-shot several dialogue sequences between Keith McAleer (JIMMY) and James Roehl (MARK). The first took place in an abandoned alley downtown. Henwood couldn't resist the location once he saw the tag, "Dumpster Diver for Fun!"

Not to be confused with a one-man-band, we here at Sangha Films like to consider this pic, the old man and the audio sea, if you will.

James Roehl (MARK) and Keith McAleer (JIMMY) did more walking than skating in this sequence, so we could capture this gorgeous shot of them making their way down the train tracks close to town. This is probably one of our favorite scenes in the film. It's a special moment when we get to have characters walk and talk about crossroads at the same time.

After a few days in Youngstown, it was off to New York City for our final shots in Manhattan. It was difficult to get James Roehl (MARK) all alone so close to Ground Zero, but we did manage to get a few key shots for the film.

Is it even possible to have no people downtown? Sometimes we at Sangha Films think there are unknown forces helping bring some of our cinematic moments to life. You might call it the Flying Spaghetti Monster. We call it prepping to say action, running a small crew, and getting help blocking the on-rush of people who are waiting around the corner.

Sangha Films will be posting a new website in the coming months to get ready for our eventual release of THE HUMAN WAR. As it stands now, there is still a lot of editing and sound mixing to do. If you're hoping for a teaser trailer, then keep your fingers crossed for the middle of summer. Who knows? We just might keep ahead of schedule.

Tokyo, Japan #3

Our second day in Tokyo began the same way as our first. We were back to trying to figure out subway maps and how to get around the city. Sogee had a very particular plan about how she wanted to attack the city. That's right. I said "attack." Typically, when I hit a new city, I'll just wander for a good long while. When I get hungry, I eat. I don't have destinations along the way. That's not how Sogee works though. She loves to mark off what she visits like a video game marker from one level to the next. I felt like Super Mario going down the flag pole more than once after we accomplished each task she set before us. The worst, of course, was the fact that she wanted to visit all these hot spots that neither of us knew how to get to.

That made us both short with one another. We would take turns looking at the maps, getting frustrated, scowl at one another, and then kiss each other on the cheek and try again. It was a difficult experience for me. I really disliked looking for subway destinations. It made me feel like I was seven years old in the lingerie section of Macy's, waiting for my mother to walk out of the pits of doom.

We made it though. After a few mis-steps, we did manage to get to Ochinamizu. This stop was supposed to be for me, as it was explained to me by Sogee. "Now you can get your guitar."

I didn't argue with her. It was like being given an opportunity to go to the toy store after a very long stint at the WPOE (Worst Place on Earth, or Pathmark as it is known on the East Coast). I devoured both the guitar stores and seasonal political rallies (see above) that lined the streets of Ochinamizu. It was a thrill not to see a subway map in front of me.

The guitars in Japan were pretty much the same. You didn't have anything too unusual. It took me about seven guitar shops before I found some strange guitars. I think it was a used/trade shop because everything seemed vintage there. I asked this one sales kid which guitar he thought was the best. He pointed to a 60's Vox Spitfire. I asked about a Hagstorm II that was twice the price, and he again pointed to the Vox. So I tried it out. It was nice. It was easy to play and unusual enough to record a record with. I offered him a nice price and he agreed.

Sogee said he was totally laid back before this photo was taken, but just before she said "cheese" or whatever, the guy busts out this rock pose and scowl. I thought that was pretty cool. I shall dub this move the "sudden shift." I may even try it out before the end of the trip.

After Ochinamizu, it was back to the maps.

I wasn't happy. I think I had five maps I was cross-referencing by now. Some were entirely in Japanese, and I think that's what was causing the most difficulty. Still, we managed to get to where Sogee wanted to go. This place that was known for being the old district of Japan. I don't even know what it was called, but we got there.

As soon as we got there, Sogee was all about getting her grub on. I didn't complain. I had been meaning to try sushi in Japan, so I was game when she asked some folks for good sushi. We headed to this place up the street and got some sashimi. I would've liked a california roll, or things of that nature, but, believe it or not, Japan does not rock the rolls like the U.S. does. It's predominantly sashimi or fish eggs wrapped in seaweed.

I was happy. I like to eat fish. I even ate a bunch of things I had no idea about. I wouldn't touch the big, orange fish eggs though. They looked too scary.

This shopping district had way too many people. That was one of the surprising things about Tokyo for me. The people. It was unbelievable. You could barely move most of the time. The subways were filled, the markets were filled, fucking everything was filled. Add to that the fact that no one really pushes each other and everyone's polite, and you've got slow moving swarms, prodding onwards down one corridor after the next. I truly believe Tokyo is the inspiration for ants everywhere.

In the middle of this swarm, we did manage to find a beautiful Buddhist temple. As were to find out on visits to other temples throughout our stay in Tokyo, there were a couple interesting staples to be found. The first was the idea that you had to wash your hands and mouth before entering the temple for prayer. I thought that was fairly interesting. The second was that you could burn these ten cent prayers written on paper in a big fire pit, and that if you let the smoke come upon you, you would be given good luck. I don't believe in these sorts of things, but Sogee was all up in that smoke. She was like an old Buick by the time we made it into the temple.

Once we got in the temple, you were supposed to throw money into these slotted boards and say a prayer. I don't know why money was involved. It seemed like a gip to me. I don't throw money at home. I did what I was told to do though. I knew this element was probably added to make money off of tourists. I liked hearing all the tourists throw the money against the boards though. It sounded like what I imagined a hundred cash registers being emptied at once would sound like, and I've always wanted to be a part of something like that, so I tossed a couple hundred yen against the ching of a couple hundred more.

More to come when the smoke clears...

Tokyo, Japan #2

A story is made of appendages. Let me tell you about our arms. They are flapping their way to Tokyo.

As you can see, Sogee is in constant fashionista status. Here we are going through the gate and she's got the perfect little outfit - black boots and all.

I am donning my usual black tee and jeans. I would like to wear other clothes, but I just can't seem to get off the habit. I expect someone from a reality show to stop me soon. It's already happened in Brooklyn. Some kids yelled at Sogee and I last year asking what she was doing with me. I was going to tell them that it took money, patience, and other skills. They beat me to it though.

"Does he have money? A big dick?" one boy screamed out the car window. "Please tell me! I want to know. How does this happen?"

Sogee laughed at the situation. I took it as an insult on my fashion and body image. I told her to stand up for me next time. She said she would. It didn't really matter though. I did the same thing when I was 16, so what are you going to do?

Anyway, back to Tokyo...

We spent most of our time trying to figure out the subway system of Japan. That was fairly difficult. There are multiple lines. Some maps list only a particular line, so you have to make sure you have a complete map. We had to learn this the hard way. It took me about four maps and two days of getting off at wrong stops to figure it out. Here is Sogee taking a break from her usual pose with maps. I had to sort of look for other photos to take, since we spent most of our time in the belly of Tokyo's subways our first day.

One thing I could tell about Tokyo right away was its cleanliness. The streets were not covered with gum or trash like in Seoul or New York. In fact, I couldn't find any trash cans in the subway or on the streets my whole trip. I figure that is to make people carry their trash with them, until they find a proper receptacle, and therefore, cut down on littering. That a pretty ingenious idea if you ask me. I might try it out in my house. "Trash? Oh, sure. We don't have any. You better rock that empty bag of chips with you."

Our hotel was in Gotanda. It was about seven stops from Tokyo Station. I dug the room. It was just like my space apartment in Seoul. Everything was compact and ready for micro-living. Check out the entire kitchen and laundry appliances behind Sogee's excitement.

Let's take a closer look at Sogee's excitement. Apparently, she was really gung-ho about the snacks at the local 7-11 and grocery stores of Japan.

I tried something that I thought was mul mandoo - a Korean dim sum (think boiled egg roll). I was wrong though. This was some kind of raw meat wrapped in dough. I was not a fan. Can you tell?

Sogee was tired from all the travel and our early rise in the morning, so I decided to walk the streets of Tokyo by myself. I didn't know how safe it was to walk in the middle of the night, but I figured I'd risk it. Besides, I wasn't too worried. I can look menacing when I want to. At least I thought. I walked only a couple blocks before I was accosted by four different sex walkers. Each offered a variation on this dialogue: "Massage? Sexy massage?"

The first couple prostitutes were women. Then I must have hit the male streets, where the inquiries were a bit more polite.

"May I service you, sir?" a young man with a lopsided mohawk asked.

"No, thank you," I responded in kind.

He bowed and left. I kept on my adventure. It wasn't long before I found some tire advertisements at the gas stations that caught my attention. It was my friend, Leonardo, selling tires. I was surprised at first. Tires? Well, they pay well in Japan from what I've heard, or at least from what Sogee has told me.

"You can get a million or five million dollars for a couple days of work."


"Yeah, Brad Pitt does commercials here all the time."\

"I'd like to see those."

"Just look on YouTube."


Leonardo loves tires and Suzuki.

It started raining during my walk. I did manage to catch this pic of a Denny's and 7-11 in Tokyo. It made me feel like I was in Little Tokyo or a side street in New York. Tokyo definitely didn't feel like a foreign city. I walked back to the hotel and got a ticket stub from a vending machine out in the lobby to watch a film on the computer monitor on the desk in our room. Sogee was asleep. I watched the whole film. I looked at the city from our balcony. I thought about what we would the next day. I didn't have a clue. I tried out the bidet and warming toilet seat. I went to bed.

More to come...

Death of a Gang Starr

Guru passes away after a year long battle with Cancer.

Sky Cake

Patton Oswalt explains the dawn of religion.

I, Godzilla!

I run rampant across Tokyo. It is 9:45 a.m.. We must check out of the hotel at 10:00 a.m.. I will now discuss the trip in three minutes or less. That is all the time I have. Okay. Go. We have done a lot of things. Mostly, we ate strange things and got lost a lot. We came here without even bringing a map. I suppose it's what one would call a backpacking adventure. Sogee says she doesn't like these types of vacations. "Next time we go to Bali," she says. "I don't like this kind of trip."

I didn't argue with her. We got lost almost everyday. I also wasn't much of a communicator in Japanese. Loren Goodman told me to just use "Mas" and "Das" after everything. That really didn't work. I know that most Japanese end with those verbs, but I needed a bit more of the language to be fluent and express my innermost feelings. That's what I usually like to do on vacations. I go up to strangers and tell them about my childhood or my first sexual experience.

The three minutes has ended. I will write more in a cyber cafe...

Writing Assignment #3: Near Death Experience

I am so quiet these days. I suppose I'm recovering from working so hard on this film. I don't know. I just don't feel like doing anything. That seems a good attitude to adapt a screenplay. I'll probably do that this week. Who knows? Maybe, I'll find some more inspiration this weekend. I head to Tokyo. I've never been there. I've always wanted to go. My life is consumed with Akira Kurosawa films. I watch at least one a day. I think they are moving paintings. I watch them over and over again. I also like watching Toshiro Mifune. He is an excellent actor. I like to see his extreme facial expressions. I might write about my experience in Japan. I might just sit around and do nothing. I definitely feel like I'm in a perpetual daze of 1991 all over again.

Each week a few writers in Seoul are getting together to write comics, stories, or poems on a particular theme. This week when we got together we discussed near death experiences. Below was my week's installment. For some reason, I was interested in the master villain. I may write some more on this, but considering that I haven't written anything and it's almost Wednesday, I doubt it. Usually, I know when something launches long because that's all I do for a couple weeks. Looks like the search continues for the next novel.

Next Week's Writing Assignment: Getting Jiggy

Latest Fiction:

I am not much of a hero. I wish I were. I wish I woke up in the morning with thoughts of “saving the world” or “kittens.” I wish I could look in the mirror and see something besides destruction, brimstone, and a pestilence so severe it peels the skin from human skulls to expose the hidden vanity and dishonesty that lies hidden beneath them. It would make life so much easier to see the “beauty of all things” or have a “poster of Gandhi” on my wall. Believe me. I might have had some semblance of a life that wouldn’t be consumed by how I could invoke a thirty year old curse passed onto me by a witch doctor in Haiti that would make my younger sister think she was a troll, or spend six months trying to hypnotize the students in Mercer County to commit mass suicide rather than studying for my SAT. I could have been a product of Pac-Man, Cheerios, Reaganomics, and the golden arches. Instead, I am hopelessly crippled by my deafening superiority to the insects around me. I sit by myself in the tall, overgrown grass by the bleachers at Roosevelt High and practice my Chinese. That’s the only thing that can soothe my criminal tendencies. Then I think about how I could conquer the world.

I have several methods to bring villainous thoughts into reality. In most cases, I free associate. I don’t mind map or filter a plan with the use of an outline. I just allow treachery to come freely without control. I see the Amoco on Route 6. I think “boom” or simply “get Max, the attendant, to check my oil, while I lift the latch that holds the hood of my car and let it fall on his fucking back and terminate his apparent uselessness to the world.” That’s one of the secrets to creating an effective and ruthless plan for destruction. It’s all about freedom. You can’t hope to melt off the fingers of everyone in your chemistry class by just rigging one Bunsen burner. You’ve got to have the creative freedom to max out the fuse box and pump acetone peroxide and silver nitride overnight into a U-tube, until the next morning, when a mild explosion sends seventeen useless bags of skin to Mercer Community Hospital.

Ruthlessness requires a singular mind that is not corrupted by frivolities that a hero might consider. I don’t sit around in the cafeteria and stare at the smoking hot babes and pretend to be shy because I’ve got some secret identity I’ve got to keep. No, fuck that. I watch how the lunch ladies get the contents for meatloaf from the yellow cabinets by the gas range. I make a note of the size of the bag. I take a few photos with a camera I’ve installed in the top button of my white Oxford. I navigate my way past the buffet line and ask “Miss Charlotte” – because that’s what she asks me to call her – what makes her tater tots so good, and like a dunce, she lifts the key ring from the nail sticking to the side of the fryer to open up the yellow cabinets to see “all them food stores” during her pathetic tour that takes all of about two minutes.

The New Jackie Chan

Loren passed AZO onto me. He's pretty impressive. I like it best when he jumps over the fountain.

Nail in the iPad Coffin

"Why would anyone want something you'd have to lay on a table to type with?"

"You can buy a docking window and a wireless keyboard for like $25."

"What about MS Word?"

"They've got iPages. A program that is like Word. Final Draft is also going to put out an app, so you can write and view screenplays."

"How much are they?"


"Mmm," I considered. "Not bad."

"The next generation will be cheaper and you'll be back in L.A. by then. It's perfect."

Sometimes I think my brother is being paid by Apple, either that or he is a good salesman that practices on others before he makes gratuitous purchases himself. Of course, I'm laying blame where it isn't deserved. The truth is that Apple products and other technobilia might be the next generation of toys for us. Gone are the days of old when you would see hardware store geeks looking for the latest handsaw. Now you'll see this master builder creating a website on an iPad. Got any nails?

Can Soundcloud Float Your Music Marketing Campaign?

Soundcloud is an ingenious platform that allows you to share music with anyone regardless of the file size, track stats for a particular song, and drop songs off via Facebook or Twitter. I predict this will be a nice marketing tool for bands and podcasters. Now if we can drop off film clips like this, that would make it a remarkable little site.

Writing Assignment #2: The Proposal

Each week a few writers in Seoul are getting together to write comics, stories, or poems on a particular theme. I call these "story parties."

This week our assignment was to write about a proposal. I managed to get into an interesting story. I did it rather quickly as well. I'll put a short excerpt below. If you're interested in reading more, just e-mail me (piroozkalayeh[at] and I'll send you the rest of the story.

Ji-soo held her hand in the air to block the Sun that was shining through the window into the classroom and right in her view of Mr. Shepard. She shielded her eyes with both her hands before Mr. Shepard noticed her discomfort and reached up to pull the blinds down further.

“Ji-soo!” Mr. Shepard taunted. “You don’t have to go blind in my class.”

Ji-soo’s classmates giggled at the comment. Mr. Shepard was constantly making them laugh with his teasing. Ji-soo didn’t mind the attention when it was meant for her.

“I am already blind,” Ji-soo said calmly in Korean.

“What do you mean?” So-young, a classmate next to her asked in Korean. “You say such strange things.”

“I’m blinded by Mr. Shepard’s assets,” Ji-soo continued in Korean, and nodded towards Mr. Shepard’s backside.

So-young and the others in class who could hear Ji-soo’s comment glanced over at Mr. Shepard. His back was to the girls on that side of the classroom. Muk-Young, one of So-Young’s loyal supporters, gasped and then began to laugh riotously, stopping only to put her hands to her eyes, spreading them wider, and saying with a melodic croon: “Mr. Shepard’s assets!”

“Ji-soo is blind!” So-young exclaimed. “Blind with white fever!”

The other girls now joined in on the laughter. Several began to whisper among themselves and point in Ji-soo’s direction.

Mr. Shepard had already handed out the next day’s assignment. He was writing example sentences on the board.

“Let’s make sure you get your commas right for your self-introductions,” he announced. “I don’t want to see commas where periods are supposed to be.”

Ji-soo noticed that Mr. Shepard had red freckles on his nose and forehead. She imagined what a child might look like with him. She hoped it would have his blonde hair and strong thighs. She certainly didn’t want freckles on her baby’s face. Somehow she didn’t mind them on Mr. Shepard though. It was okay for him to be exactly as he was.

“Does anyone have the answer for number two? Ji-soo?”

“Um, yes,” Ji-soo said and glanced from Mr. Shepard to her paper quickly. “It’s—“

“Blind again?” Muk-young barked in Korean.

“Yes!” Ji-soo shot back at her, and then regained herself and responded calmly in English to Mr. Shepard. “The answer is “E.” Someone who is “anxious” is overly nervous or worried.”

“That’s right,” Mr. Shepard agreed. “Has anyone ever felt anxious before?”


Ji-soo poured hot water from the kettle on the stove into three short and rounded ceramic glasses on the black tray on the kitchen counter. She filled each glass before lifting the tray and carrying it into the dining room for her mother and father who were seated with dishes half eaten in front of them.

“I don’t see the point in going to the church one hour before the ceremony. No one will be there. It’ll be a waste of time,” Mr. Kim said to his wife in Korean. “We might as well arrive when the ceremony begins like everyone else.”

“If you do that, then all the seats will be taken,” Mrs. Kim replied.

“None of the seats will be taken. It’s on a Saturday morning. No one will be there.”

“Don’t you want to support me?” Mrs. Kim asked with an arched eyebrow.

Mr. Kim lifted some sprouts from the plastic container with his chopsticks and put them into his mouth. He chewed and looked over at Ji-soo.

“What are you doing today?” he asked her.

“I have to go to my English class,” Ji-soo replied. “Then I’m going out to meet friends.”

“Any word on schools?” Mrs. Kim asked.

Ji-soo shook her head. It had been time to receive word of whether she had gotten into any universities, but she had yet to hear from her top choices.

“Maybe, next week,” she said to her parents.

“I heard Min Hye had gotten into Seoul National last week. It’s strange that you have had no contact.”

“Maybe, I didn’t get into the school.”

“Oh!” Mr Kim gasped. “Don’t give yourself bad luck.”

Ji-soo grabbed a tea from the tray and sipped it quickly. It burned the tip of her tongue. She liked how her taste buds had no feeling for a moment. She rubbed the pain out against her teeth.


Ji-soo had been standing behind Mr. Shepard for only a moment. She was close enough to smell the aftershave she had tried to find in an international market in Itaehwon. It wasn’t “Old Spice” or any of the other brands the Pakistani clerk had behind the counter. It must have been a more expensive cologne from England, his home country.

“Ji-soo?” Mr. Shepard asked with one hand wiping the board. “Did you need anything?”

“Ye-yes,” Ji-soo stammered. “I need help with this sentence.”

Ji-soo held up her notebook for Mr. Shepard. She pointed to a sentence midway down on the page with the pen in her left hand. “That one,” she said.

“Ah, okay! Let’s see,” Mr. Shepard smiled and took the pen from her hand, moving it over the sentence. “Hmm. Looks fine to me, Ji-soo. Yes, it is. ‘The weather has grown colder since yesterday.’ It’s a nice comparison.”

Mr. Shepard handed the pen back to Ji-soo. She took the pen and held his hand in the process. She managed to grab a few fingers and held them tightly.

“Mr. Shepard,” she began, “I am not in high school anymore.”

“I know, Ji-soo,” Mr. Shepard said and took Ji-soo’s hand in hers to lead her to some seats in the back of the classroom. “You should have heard about schools by now. How’d you do?”

“I did—“ Ji-soo paused slightly. “I did well.”

“So you got into Seoul National? That’s great.”

“Yes, but—“

“What is it?”

“That means that I won’t need to come to this class anymore. I got in. That was the agreement with my parents.”

“I think I understand. Well, you’ll definitely be missed, but you can certainly visit anytime you like.”

“Mr. Shepard!” Ji-soo suddenly shouted. “Mr. Shepard I have to make you—I have to show—“

Ji-soo pulled the zipper down on her jumper. Her skin was pale from lack of exposure. She had a brownish mole in the center of her chest. It was hidden slightly by a see-through black lace bra that peaked through the fabric as Ji-soo let the zipper go and the sweater swung open slightly.

“I am not a child,” Ji-soo said and opened her sweater. “I am here.”

Ji-soo pulled the sweater open a bit further. Her breasts loose in the bra peaked slightly outside of their cups. She noticed Mr. Shepard’s eyes dart towards them. She pulled her bra down slightly and massaged the edge of her nipple between her thumb and forefinger.

“Ji-soo, I am not sure why you’re doing this, Mr. Shepard exclaimed, and put his hands in the air to block his view “Whatever pressures you’re going through. I am sure—“

Ji-soo lunged close to Mr. Shepard and kissed him on the mouth. She put her nails into his back and dug deeply into the skin.

“Ji-soo, I’m not—“ Mr. Shepard managed to say and stepped back slightly. “Please, Ji-soo!”

“Don’t you want me?”

Mr. Shepard bent down in front of Ji-soo. He placed the sweater’s halves together and zipped them up gingerly, careful that the zipper wouldn’t catch against Ji-soo’s skin. He peered up at Ji-soo . “I’m sorry,” he said and dropped the zipper. “I am still your teacher.”

“Alan,” Ji-soo said. “Mr. Shepard—“

“I understand you’ve been under a lot of strain lately. I’m not about to let you jeopardize your good news. Please go home now. I won’t mention this to anyone.”

“But, Mr. Shepard! I know you feel the same way I do.”

“Ji-soo, I’m sorry.”

Ji-soo looked down at her fingers. They were trembling slightly.

“I am not a child, Alan.”

Mr. Shepard stood and walked towards the door of the classroom. He opened the door and waited for Ji-soo to approach...

NEXT WEEK: The Near Death Experience

Check It Right; You Ain't White!

Maz Jobrani is helping kick off a campaign for Arab-Americans and Persian-Americans to stop checking "white" on census surveys. "Check it right," his slogan goes. "You ain't white!"

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