Baby, You’re A Star


Sunday was a nice, blustery day so we decided to get out of the house and do a little bit of shopping – mostly window-wishing – at the local outlet.

As is the case with most outlets these days, the walkways are riddled with independent vendors trying to push their wares to anybody that passes. I had heard it said that these guys are the modern-day equivalent of pop-up ads and it’s true: they just keep pestering you.

But one booth wasn’t selling tennis shoe polish, laser-etched iPhone cases or fidget spinners (and I swear if I hear my kid say that one more time, I’ll scream). And unlike most of the booths, it was unmanned when we passed it.

What they were selling was a Hollywood dream to make it big in television and movies. It was a casting agency that specialized in recruiting children and teens for studios like Nickelodeon, Disney, etc. or so they say.

And it wasn’t until we were ready to leave when we were approached by the person who was running the booth. Apparently she thought we looked like a bunch of pigeons as she walked up to us, taking particular interest in Anthony.

She first asked if we were local. I confirmed her suspicion. Then the spiel began about how she was looking for teens age whatever-to-whatever to cast for shows on the aforementioned networks. That’s when I started to grin and then dropped the mic on her.

“Nah, that’s okay. I used to do background acting and…”

At the mention of “background acting” I swear that woman left a puff of smoke behind her and disappeared faster than Usain Bolt in the 100m dash.

Why is that?

There are a few reasons for her to not take interest in me or Anthony.

First, casting agencies in general. When you’re selling Hollywood to some slack-jawed yokel that doesn’t know any better, they will of course shovel out whatever it takes to make their kid a star. And that’s the problem: legit agencies will NEVER ask for money up front, and you can bet that this one was going to ask me for my wallet in order to get Anthony a few headshots that would be stuffed into an album of hundreds of others that already got bilked and still haven’t been cast for anything. For my casting file, my headshot was taken with a digital camera at the agency. That’s all they need especially if it’s only non-union background work. Speaking parts require SAG-AFTRA union membership and that costs money, something that you pay directly to the union and not the agency. Only then will you make decent money. Until then it’s minimum wage, baby. Except may for the monetary bumps for exposure to smoke, water, or the studio using your car in the background as well. Living the Hollywood dream? Hardly.

Second, I’ve seen what kids have to go through in this industry. For adults, it’s no big deal other than hustling for more jobs during your downtime between shots and there is a lot of downtime. For kids, however, it means having their parents on location with them, going to the on-set “school” between shots, and just long days that nobody that young should be put through. There’s never guarantee of when the production will wrap and if they have another shoot the next morning or get a callback for the current one, it’s a lot of stress for parents and kids. Kids also get hungry and antsy. This is why they are so hard to work with. It’s a miserable existence and a life I would never wish on any child. Believe me, it’s nothing like what you see on the screen or social media.

I can say quite confidently that those last two paragraphs are exactly what went through the mind of this woman as she ran away from me. She knew I had an inside track about the industry and didn’t even want to mess with me.

So sorry, kid. You’re not going to be the next big thing.

But you’ll always be our star.

Photo May 07, 5 28 41 PM

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13 More Pictures of the New “Amityville Horror” House


First and foremost, I need to explain a little bit.

As I post my pictures of the location and the interest in this movie continues to gain momentum, I’ve witnessed a blatant disregard for the intellectual property in regards to my images. I’ve seen many of them being reposted on Instagram and while I have no problem with that, when users go so far as to crop out my watermark on the image, that’s when it becomes an issue.

The watermarks on the images serve two purposes: to clearly indicate the owner of the image and to deter unauthorized use so when someone doesn’t ask permission or give me credit, at least my Twitter handle will still be visible. That hasn’t been the case with the images I’ve seen on Instagram where the watermark was cropped out completely.

While I understand that trying to prevent images from spreading like wildfire online is practically impossible, intentionally omitting the owner’s mark and pretending that the images is yours for the sake of gaining 200 likes is, in a word, uncool. That said, I have had bloggers contact me asking permission to use them to which I agreed as long I was given credit for them. All of them have complied but it only takes a few bad non-blogging apples to spoil things so from this point on, I will be watermarking the images with my Twitter handle in a conspicuous location on the image as well as applying filters so that they are more distinct. Hopefully this will alleviate things or at least show who the rightful owner is.

Besides, I will always own the original, hi-res versions.

With all that out of the way, here’s today’s batch of images from the new Amityville Horror location. It’s been almost a few weeks since I last went running through the park so a lot has changed. Here’s a shot approaching the rear of the set.

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Walking up to the set, it appears that a lot of the props are now starting to be placed. Here we see a small boat as well as some gardening tools.

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The rear of the house seems to be taking the longest. Since my last visit, roof tiles have been placed, windows installed, and painter’s tape/masks removed from the existing windows.

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In addition to this, a fence has been constructed around the backyard and foliage – real and artificial – has been set in place.

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Compared to last time, we can see that this side of the house appears to be much more detailed with the addition of shrubs. Although not visible here, zooming in on the original image shows that house now looks more weathered than it did before. Those SFX guys are amazing.

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I wasn’t able to get a good 3/4 shot last time so here you go.

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The front of the house.

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Another shot of the infamous home. Note the prop tree stump and firewood. You also get a better view of the wooden fence from this angle. Filming must be happening soon if the details are going in now.

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Also put in place since last time was this big pile of firewood which I saw the security guard messing with as I was walking by. I’m not sure if he was going to bother me or not so I played it cool with taking pictures until he was out of sight. I should have just taken them anyway. (I mean, come on, it’s in a public park. We have a right to be there!)

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An interior shot showing wallpaper being hanged. Note the “NOT A STEP” warning written on the ledge above my watermark.

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A better shot of the backyard details.

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The backyard fence.

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And finally, from afar.

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At this point I went back to my 2-mile mark to hydrate a little bit then continued on my way. Unfortunately, I had worked 8 hours (4pm – midnight) the previous day and my knees just couldn’t take much more punishment, especially working on 3 hours of sleep. I ended up walking the rest of the way, my route shortened from the standard running of 9 miles to walking 4 miles. To top it off, my Endomondo app kept losing my GPS signal and my measured distance was way off. It was a horrible workout overall and I didn’t even save it. I’ll save a better workout later on.

One more thing I’d like to address. I’ve gotten questions as to whether the set was located near a lake. The answer is yes, it is, but not entirely close to it. Click to enlarge the image, courtesy of Google Maps.

amity map 2

And with that, this post is a wrap. I will post more images as I take them. Hope you’ve enjoyed what I’ve gotten so far.

Pictures of New “Amityville Horror” House


Last week, a little bird told me that there was some kind of construction going on at El Dorado Park, which just happens to be part of my BSR (Big Sunday Run) route. The park, literally 2 miles from home is huge, divided into two parts, and takes up a good portion of my run.

I figured I had to check this out for myself so I took a break from my run to see what was going on.

Here’s the back of the house, still under construction:

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Here’s another shot with a small garage adjacent to the home:

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I continued to make my way around the house:

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This is where I thought it would be funny to pose with a rather frightened look on my face (flames added for dramatic effect because, you know, Amityville Horror and stuff):

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And finally, the front of the house:

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The set is drawing a lot of attention because, well, it’s in the middle of the park for crying out loud. For someone unfamiliar with movie locations or set construction I’m sure they’re curious as to why a home is being built in here and to those who know, it’s becoming a cool spot to take pictures and brag to your out-of-state friends about. In fact just after I took this shot, a group of runners was taking a break and decided to take some pictures themselves. They wanted a group shot so I volunteered my services and took it for them.

For more info on the movie, visit this post at OLV.

And hey, one of those pictures looks familiar, doesn’t it? With all the filming around here, I’m always on the lookout for new locations and tweet pictures to OLV when I see something new. I’m always happy to let them use my shots.

Oh, and my run? I ended up with 9.2 miles. Not bad for an old(er) guy.

Netflix Changes Pricing and Plans


Well, has it been an eventful week or what?

In addition to being a Virgin Mobile customer and getting the news of an eventual price increase on monthly Beyond Talk plans, I’m also a Netflix customer and wasn’t all that happy to see this nifty e-mail in my wife’s inbox:

netflix

Yup. If we want to continue with our current plan of streaming and one disc, the monthly fee doubles to $15.98 per month. So until the new pricing plan and structure go into effect, we’ll stay with our current plan and see as many movies on DVD as we can but eventually switch to the streaming-only service.

In all honesty, I’m not a really big movie watcher and rarely (if ever) see first-run movies. The wife and kid are bigger moviegoers than I since I’m working most of the time and it gives them something to do, especially during the summer. So by the time a movie gets to Netflix on disc, chances are I won’t even bother to go through the hassle of putting it in my queue and turning on the Wii to watch it. We do, however, use Netflix for their streaming content which includes the entire The Twilight Zone series. Yeah, I stayed up late one night and watched them until I puked. Oh, and every James Bond movie is there, too. Not too shabby.

All in all, this change won’t affect us too much since, well, 90% of the time when we get a disc, it sits around – usually MIA on the kitchen table – until we decide to watch it which in some cases is never. As such, chances are we will stick to streaming-only should we decide to stay customers.

But besides the shows and movies I’ve mentioned, there’s only so many times you can watch lame ‘80s movies or foreign artsy-fartsy flicks, which makes me wonder if it will be something worth keeping.

If you’re looking for alternatives to Netflix, check out this post by Russ of Fat 2 Fit podcast fame. He’s compiled a pretty good list of ideas for consumers wanting to tell Netflix to get lost.

Yeesh, what else will go up in price this week?

Good and Bad News


First, the bad.

I got yet another rejection letter today from another potential employer. I’m beginning to think I’ve got the plague or something. Maybe it’s because I’m not shifty enough to be a car salesman (which was the job I applied for) but meh, I’m still out there trying for anything. With just a few unemployment checks left, I’m *this* much closer to flipping burgers for a living, provided they even want me.

So what could possibly be the good news?

I was booked for my first role as an extra! I will post no details here but the call time for the shoot is very early and not too close to home. That means going to bed very early the night before and waking up very early the day of the shoot. At least this will show that I am working–or making an effort–so that California doesn’t get all pissy and whatnot about my unemployment status. All income has to be reported so it will be deducted from my next unemployment check anyway.

During the interview with the Casting Director, I was asked if I would be opposed to shaving my goatee to play the role of a sheriff. I had no problem with that but replied, “Excuse me?” just because I was feverishly taking notes–a requirement for these kinds of jobs–at the same time. Instead I was cast as a protester so no big deal. I really wouldn’t have had an issue with shaving it off but in hindsight, it was a good idea I didn’t because:

  • One of the requirements of the job is that you must update your photo whenever your physical appearance changes, and this can only be done in person not online. So I would have had to spend my day in line again at the agency just to switch photos. Nah.
  • If I had shaved, I could have just waited for it go grow back and not change my photo but then I wouldn’t have gotten any work because nothing matched. Figured it would be easier to maintain my look and keep looking for work than change it, take a new photo, then if I decided to let it come back, take another one. Too much.

This will definitely give my note-taking skills a test because many, many notes need to be taken for each call. But it’s work.

So instead of sitting around wondering what those yellow signs are for and what’s being filmed, I will now be on the inside looking out.

Fuckin’ eh, man. I’m gonna be in a movie or TV show (it wasn’t specified). How odd is this?

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