17
Sep

Life Changes

   Posted by: Jon   in Acting, Film, Producing, Production, Screenplays

Door of Fear Movie Poster
Wow.. so much as happened since the last blog entry. I wrote and directed another film, which was a horror called “Door of Fear”. It’s still in the final stages of post production and was shot back in April. It will be released, but had a lot of issues to be dealt with. We shot on the 2.5k Black Magic Cinema Camera, which altered our entire back-end workflow. It should be ready for film festival submissions by Oct. 2013.

Now, the sad updates: My father passed away of cancer in May after a long battle. I was able to return to Texas for a week for the memorial, but was not able to make it back in time to see him alive. The last time I saw my father was 3 years ago. The next month in June, I lost my family to divorce. In August my temporary video contract job ended, so I’m just a full-time filmmaker/actor now. I feel like such a walking tragedy.

With my house slated to be sold soon, I’ve got nothing left in Arizona other than a successful acting career and a large number of new friends. So I’ll be moving to the LA area in November to pursue both my film and acting careers to their fullest potentials. I’m thinking, to help others out, I might like to post regular blog updates about my transition out to LA and post helpful advice and just give my story. Before I leave Arizona, I do want to shoot one last film a romantic comedy short called “Rejection”. I’ve got a good key crew lined up and need to finalize the screenplay and cast for the roles so I can shoot in Oct.

This is just a quick summary update of everything that’s happened this year up to this point. There are tons of things I should be adding here acting wise, but I’ll save that for my new actor’s archive page, as this will become my personal actor site as well.

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Ring of Time Movie Poster

 

You would think after making a film after 5 years since my last would be enough, but nope, it was a new month and I made another film. I entered into this year’s A3F 48-Hour Film Challenge here in Phoenix, AZ. Our entry was a short 5-minute film called “Ring of Time“. Our line of dialog was “I can’t believe it worked”, our prop was a ring, and our theme was “Something magical”. We were 1 of 55 teams to enter, 1 of 47 that turned out film in on time under the 48 hour limit, and unfortunately, only made the top 30 films getting an Honorable Mention, but not screened at last night’s event with the top 20. Really, surprised me on that, as I thought we did quite well and it was my most ambitious 48-challange film to date out of 6. I really appreciated the cast/crew I had on this project and thought they all were amazing. It was funny to grow from having 2 actors and 1 crew member the night I signed LJR Productions up as a team and how on the day of the shoot that number grew to 26 people. Starting on this project, I only knew 5 of the 26 people I worked with, so met a lot of new faces.

I had recently announced on my Facebook page that I was done making short films and focusing only on feature films. Well I learned I shouldn’t make statements like that, because last night at the A3F film screening for the top 20 films, I listen to a call from the event organizers of the Jerome Indie Film & Music Festival asking for more horror films. Now that it’s March and another month in 2013, I may be doing a short 10-minute horror film.

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30
Jan

I created a movie in 10 days

   Posted by: Jon   in Film, Producing, Production

Second Chances Movie Poster

From concept to wrapping on post-production. I recently wrote and directed my first film in 5 years.

Like any film project I’ve worked on, after it’s all said and done, you look back on what happened to get it made and find it hard to believe you made it. For me “Second Chances” was a miracle and last minute project. Created for the 2013 IFP Phoenix Breakout Challenge, I waited a full two weeks from the kick off before I decided last minute to try and make a movie to enter. I started on a Thursday night with registration and getting my theme for the challenge. Afterwards, the story outline and script were completed in less than 24 hours. All my casting was done between Friday and Saturday, with a table read on Sunday. One of my support leads became ill and I had to recast her the night of the table read. Then there was the locations, I didn’t have those until Sunday as well, the day before we shot. Shooting was over the next two days and by Wednesday, we were finally in post-production, to have this project completed and turned in by Sunday four days later. Oh what a ride it was! This is my first time working with any of the cast and most of the crew and I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish at the last minute. I hope you enjoy the urban fantasy drama “Second Chances” as much as I did making it.

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10
Jan

Monsterland

   Posted by: Jon   in General

This is a bar & restaurant located in Mesa, AZ. I had heard about it and seen some pictures of the place but never made it a point to go see. That was until this week when they announce they were closing their doors after being open for less than a year. Horror, animatronics, good, and drinks!? This place sounded like an adult version of Chuck E. Cheese pizza. I invited some friends who were regulars of the place to meet us up there today and finally went with my whole family.

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After entering the front doors you enter into a short monster maze. Animatronics and interesting things look at are here. After snaking right around the corner along the castle looking stone walls you come to a mummy tomb on the wall.

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Afterwards, the maze opens up into a room where this caracul is there to greet you, alone with Frankenstein on a table and an old pipe organ (not pictured).

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This room opens into another room, still not inside the restaurant area itself, where a demon oversees all who enter alone with some bat looking creature below.

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Then there is a grand gate and entrance into the bar and restaurant area itself, with a dragon peering over all who enter. To the right of the gate in this picture is a huge stone golem that stands up.

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More of the restaurant area, here you can see Freddy Krueger in the corner and Pumpkin Head standing under a crumbling castle tower about to fall. Lots of classic monsters are here.

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I sat down at a table next to the Grim Reaper with two kobold looking demons at his side. He was on a timer and ever so often would stand up and swing that scythe around, while chanting.

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His minions at his side would move as well and blow smoke.

Monsterland

The place also had this nice tomb structure inside the restaurant, which exited out onto a patio area for outside dining. I’m glad I didn’t wait  too long until the place closes next weekend on 1/19/2013. The Swamp Water drink I got was great as was the interesting food items served all with horror names. I’m hoping someone else will step in and buy the place as it’s certainly a place I’d like to return to again and see.

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1
Jan

A New Year & New Life

   Posted by: Jon   in Film

So today I officially quit my job of 6 1/2 years to pursue my dream of a career in filmmaking. This is a huge leap of faith for me and the closest thing I can remember being anything like this was enlisting in the US military. From this moment on, all I do is TV & film. This is my next big step towards moving to LA and working in Hollywood.

30
Apr

Nero LARP Event – Day 3

   Posted by: Jon   in Gaming, LARP

I awoke to the sounds of the busy tavern nearby, full of people eating breakfast. I got into garb and joined them. My phone had died from blogging the night before, so I had no ideal what time it actually was, but it felt around 7:30am. After doing a quick charge on my phone, I walked over to the tavern to find Cheese Burgers were on the menu for breakfast. It was good too, was getting a bit tired of hot dogs at that point. Before I was even done eating more than half the tavern left to continue fighting in the sewers where we had left off the day before. I took my time and finished up my burger and then caught up with the rest of the party who were now in combat with the dreaded Brood. Nasty insect like creatures who spit acid and attacked for acid damage. It was said that if they made a good hit on someone they could inject you with a vile substance causing a swam hive to feed upon you from the inside out. Eventually, the baby broods inside would pop out of the host killing them, spawning new brood in the process. It was during this time I took a quick out-of-game break to snap off a few photos for the event and one short video, capturing a round of combat.

 After what seemed like forever, eventually we got to the Brood Queen and slew her and her black guard. Doing so ended that quest, never quite sure what happened to “Meb” but he was there with us I believe in our final battle with the Brood. Still looking for a fight myself and the Templar I had met the day earlier decided to set off together in search of encounters and treasure. We came across a few encounters, hill trolls that still wanted us off their land, a band of goblins, which we slew, and finally an interesting mix of green creatures (goblins, an orc, and maybe a troll?) who were playing some form of football with the body of a dead animal. The Templar and I stood there bewilder at what we were seeing. It appeared they had not even noticed us and continued to play their game. Eventually, they got bored and looked up to see us standing there in the forest clearing, not sure what to do next. The group of monsters came over to us to parley and introduced themselves as the “Animal Cruelty Society”. They asked if we knew where any big animals where. We stood there wandering if we should fight or answer them. Eventually, I attempted to throw them off by pointing to a nearby hill and telling them I just saw a huge bear go over it, however, they either did not fall for it or were just confused because they couldn’t see the bear with their own eyes. The crazy Templar then suggested he knew of a nobleman in town who owned a poodle dog. This excited the greens and they just walked right pass us to go and attack the town in search of the dog. We quietly left the chaos of the town behind us and went in search of more treasure. We eventually happened upon a spell component and a slightly valuable ring treasure, later identified as being worth 1 gold coin.

After town combat was over we ventured back into town to collect our share of the sewer adventure coin and to sell the component we had found to a shop keeper. I also bought an extra shield, just in case my own ever breaks from a rat headed shop keeper who spoke only with nods and his hands. Next, while at the Plot camp, I was asked to NPC for an encounter. This was actually the first time I had even NPC’ed a monster so I agreed. I laid down my own shield and weapons and found a big great sword in the cache of weapons. I put on a white tabard and got instructions that I was an undead warrior left off from the previous night that the townsfolk and adventurers had not found. I made my way over to the starting point with the sword head over my head to mean I was not actually walking around in-game. Once there we called ourselves into action and began attacking the two players the encounter was setup for. I walked slowly towards them not making a sound and hold the sword out in front of me. All the NPCs were hit with packets of some sort which allowed the players to do more damage to us. I was the last undead to fall, was checked for loot and had none to give. Slain, I once again held the sword over head and made my way back to Plot game to retrieve my own weapon and shield.

With the noon deadline for tent breakdown soon approaching, I decided to end my gaming there and to pick it back up at another later event. I got changed into my mundane clothes, packed up everything and broke my tent down. With everything packed inside my truck and ready to go, I went to the Plot camp to do what is called “Checking Out” of the game. I discovered I had leveled my character up to 4th level and said my goodbyes to most the people I had met. As I left the event, fighting and adventure were still going on around me. The tavern was still there, a few tents where still up, and players were defeating monsters and collecting gold. Had it not be so hot and I was not expected home, I would have liked to stay longer and continue my gaming in NERO, but for this event the time had finally come to leave that for the next adventure.

All in all, I had a really great time and only wished I known the rules better. After going to the event and then checking in the rulebook the next day when I got home, things made a lot more sense to me. As a recommendation to a first time, I’d say just go to an event and ask others to help you, indicating you know nothing but are interested in the game. You can even play for free as an NPC at this chapter in Phoenix and that will give you all the items you need for the game as well as experience of what to expect. If you prefer to start like I did as a player character, then you’ll at least want to read the rules on creating a character and have your character sheet in hand at the event and ready. Registering your character before hand at the (nerodb.com) NERO database is also a good idea to help streamline things. The only thing that could of made this better was for there to be more people, so if you’re in the Phoenix or Vegas area and reading this, and you’re not already a member, you should come out to an event and join us. The more people the better the events get!

Below are a few helpful links to get you started on your path to gaming in NERO:

Official NERO website – http://nerolarp.com

NERO LARP Rule Book 9th Edition (free downloadable) – http://nerolarp.com/download.php

NERO Phoenix Chapter on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/groups/119777521371573/

NERO Phoenix Chapter website – http://nerophoenix.com/index.htm

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30
Apr

Nero LARP Event – Day 2

   Posted by: Jon   in Gaming, LARP

I awoke about 5:30am the next day to find no one else had yet joined us. No matter, it made the earlier night’s experience more like camping and easier to get into things as I had not been camping like that in over 10 years. Needing more ice and before anyone else had woken up around 6:30am I went to get ice a few miles away at Fry’s grocery store. In my mundane clothing I grab a protein drink, a few fresh pastries, and a bag of ice for the cooler. Once back to camp, I filled my two coolers with ice and enjoyed breakfast at a nearby picnic table next to my tent. Others began to stir and the camp once again came to life.

Eventually, a large white van showed up and Michael Hatch (the chap who runs the NERO Phoenix chapter) showed up with his family and crew to get things started. After they unpacked and greeted everyone it was time for sign-in. Character sheet, which I had brought from a previous game 6 years earlier, were reviewed and needed updates were made. Plot camp, the place where the people running the game sit away from others and NPC hang out was established and setup. This was also when I was given any starter coin and tags for the physical items I had brought to the game. No in-game item exists without a written tag.

I wasn’t aware the game had yet started, but others soon got into character and garb and I meet a crazy mad man who was a Templar. I being a fighter who likes to play music broke out my drum and Irish flute in the tavern and began to practice and play. Eventually, the Templar came over next to me in the tavern and took over drumming as I played my flute. It lighten the mood a bit and made it feel a bit more medieval. After some time of playing 2 more vehicles showed up and it was announced that the Vegas NERO Chapter had arrived. Soon the numbers of the event more than doubled and it started to feel like more like an event. More tents were erected around the tavern and the Templar and I continued to hone out skills at forming a small two man band. As we played NPC (monsters) started coming out and into the town (basically where the tavern was established). I took a break from playing to help slay a few monsters, then when all was finished, I went back to playing. After awhile more monsters attacked the town as we sat playing music in the tavern, a Knight yelled out to us to play music for the battle as so we pick up the pace a bit and played a battle tune. Quickly, the monsters where defeated, the knight walked over to tip the Templar and I a gold coin that had been placed in front of us for such purposes. Our first in-game coin from playing had been made! Huzzah!

We played a few more tunes and then I noticed other out on the outskirts of the town searching for items. When they returned to town I inquired what it was they were doing, “Seeking Treasure and Adventure”, I was told. To help show me how it was down I went out with a cat faced Healer, in-game these cat like humanoids are called Sarrs. She was nice and showed me what to look for. Small plastic single colored plastic eggs had been hidden throughout the gaming area. Inside were small slivers of paper that indicated what you had found. Sometimes it would be an encounter, later to be acted out my real NPCs and the people who found it. Other times it could be a component used for making potions and spells or best of all treasure. On this outing we found a few items I of course found an encounter in my first egg. The healer instructed that we should go to the Plot tent and turn in what we had found. She had found treasure and components, while I the encounter. We were asked to return to the location we had found the encounter and wait. Eventually, two NPCs showed up with weapons over their heads, to indicate they were not yet in place (out of game). As they passed us they described what we saw. Two large green skinned Hill Trolls. When they came into game, they began stomping on the hill and yell for us to leave and to get off their hill. Not really looking for a fight and as they seemed to be able to out match us, we said OK and left. That was it for the encounter. I learned not every encounter was a combat situation where you had to fight. Alone, I continued to look elsewhere for treasure, but found none. On my way back, up from the ground came a giant scorpion and it attacked me with both claws and a stinger. I was able to outrun it and went to my campsite to put down some items I had found. The scorpion charged into town after me. I began attacking with my longsword and shield for defense. Eventually, others in the tavern heard the sound of combat and came to join in the fight. With help we quickly destroyed the giant scorpion and all was safe again, at least for awhile.

After adventuring and fighting, I went to the tavern to get a bowl of Shrimp Soup. As I sat enjoying my soup in the tavern, another healer or magic guy came into the tavern to heal the Templar I had played with other of his craziness and to remove some strange markings upon his face. The wisecracking healer began a long drawn out ceremony to first find the cause of the Templar’s madness. Once that was done, the Templar asked me to hold all his possession, and I being of honorable intentions, did so without trying to steal all his stuff. A spell was then casts that removed all magic from his being both internally and externally. The markings upon his face remained and it was eventually determined that he just had paint upon his paint and was just an idiot after all.

Goblins came to town looking for trouble. A local merchant named “Meb” instead got them to barter all their goods for cheap. The merchant gave them 6 gold for all their cure mortal wounds plus other stuff. After the goblins had left town the merchant informed some newly arrived adventurers walking into town that if they wanted to make a quick 6 gold coins, there were some goblins that had just left town and pointed in the direction they left. I sat there in the tavern watching events unfold before me. Eventually, the trickster merchant “Meb” hired the entire tavern to go and slay some hell hound like dogs and to collect their hearts. Everyone agreed and a large band of roaming adventurers left town, I along with them. The trail lead to an underground sewer complex. We quickly found the hounds were had come for, slayed them and got the components we had come for. However, instead of turning back, the merchant convinced everyone to continue on. He stayed with us for a bit, but soon disappear in between encounters. The party chose to continue to look for him. Deeper into the sewers we went. The party of about 10 adventurers next encountered a hive of Fire Ants. It took awhile and we fought a large onslaught of ants, but finally managed to find the queen any and destroy her. Still looking for “Meb”, we came across next a giant silver and stone golem and some huge unknown undead being that no one had seen before. Cautiously, we fought a hard battle with a few of our party going down, but not for long as he had a few healers on hand. After a long fought battle and quite a lot of magic use, we defeated all 3 monsters. Having survived that battle we chose to continue onward deeper in the sewers, but prepared for bigger and harder monsters ahead. Eventually, the sewers ended in a Goblin Den of unending goblin spawns. The party killed at least 50 if not more goblins before the stopped coming. With most of our resources expended and no sign of “Meb”, we returned back to the surface to the tavern in town. Above ground nightfall had descended upon the land and a campfire could be seen from town, beckoning those with coin to the fire. This night hot dogs were on the menu in the tavern and all enjoyed a quick meal. One problem with the sun setting is that the undead began to rise up out of the ground.

While most of the others left town to vanquish the undead I took a rest from the game. By wearing a headband that indicated I was out-of-game and just enjoyed sitting and talking to others around the campfire. As the battles raged on into the night lit only by the moonlight, I went to my tent to sleep. This night I would make sure to get more rest as I had quite the full day of my 2nd NERO event.

 

 

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28
Apr

Nero LARP Event – Day 1

   Posted by: Jon   in Gaming, LARP

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I arrived alone tonight for my first actual LARP weekend event. I had done a single day Nero Larp a few years ago, but never anything like this. Upon arrival I meet a nice lad who called himself Jon, same as me. His family was here and his wife introduced herself next.

As the sun was quickly setting, I immediately began to pitch my tent for the first time. I had tried an unsuccessful attempt before in the backyard without using stakes. This 3 room tent requires stakes. With a little help from Jon, I was able to get it up in no time. Next was to load up all my gear into the tent and get my air mattress inflated. It was nightfall by the time I was able to get the tent top on. Next, I searched for some wood in order to carve myself a pitch stick for roasting hot dogs. I found a suitable pair of sticks and used some twine I had brought to bind them together. While doing this in my camp, one of the others invited me over to the campfire that had been built. I thanked her and grabbed hot dogs, mustard, and buns. A bit thirsty, I also grabbed a water bottle.

Under the night sky as I chatted with this new family at the NERO event I roasted my food over a campfire pit. Something I haven’t done in many years. I chatted with the family as their kids ran around, enjoying the company and finding out more about the Larp.

As it turns out for the first night of the Larp, tonight was mostly for setting up tent in preparation for tomorrow’s event. Nothing much happens this night. With no one else showing up, I retired to my huge tent and made sure to have my medieval garb out and hung ready for tomorrow, when I shall become another person. A fighter in the game Nero who goes by the name “Ox Gildenhide”.

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13
Apr

Lil’Monsters Gallery Added

   Posted by: Jon   in Artist, General, Sculptor

Tonight, I decided it was time to grab all the photos from my “Lil’Monsters” polymer clay figure series and post them in their own gallery here.

Lil’Monsters – http://www.jonray.net/?page_id=2081

A few of these are still for sale if anyone would like to buy a One-Of-A-Kind sculpture.

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23
Mar

Script Frenzy 2012

   Posted by: Jon   in Screenplays, Writing

Well… I’ve finally decided and dedicated time for next month’s Script Frenzy 2012 (www.scriptfrenzy.org). It’s similar to the NaNoWriMo event I did some years back where I wrote a 50,000 word Fantasy novel. Except, this time it’s 30 days, 100+ page screenplay, all within the month of April. That means by the end of April I’ll have a completely original and new feature-length screenplay. Yesterday, I also picked up a program I discovered call Celtx (www.celtx.com). It’s similar to Final Draft, but more like a striped down version with goodies. I got the paid Plus version for the PC and the mobile version, but it’s also available for free with less goodies. So far, I’m really impressed and liking it more than my older version of Final Draft.

I haven’t really decided what genre of script I’m going to write yet, but I have a large list of movie ideas I’ve been building on for the past couple of years. I may draw something from that list or do a comedy, horror, Sci-Fi with Fantasy elements. I really want to do a fantasy screenplay, but if I do, I will end up wanting perfection and will need more time to develop the story. Which is why I’m going to have fantasy elements in whatever I do, but will no go full on force high-fantasy like I would like. This way, I can hope to complete a feature length screenplay, once and for all. It all starts April 1st. Check back for updates on how the writing and story development is going.