My First Film and John Cleese

Several years ago I become consumed with film writing. After many interviews of anyone semi successful around me, I basically received the same advice from everyone. Just create. Make something. Pull whatever you can together and just do it, and keep doing it. The advice also included submitting your stuff to as many film festivals as you can.

I am an idiot. I took this advice to heart, but for some reason – maybe call it my background as a poor only child from a single parent home with some need to validate myself or whatever – but I felt I needed a big name involved with my first short. It is a comedy piece, but also should make people think a bit. The whole thing is narrated. So I picked my top five favorite comedians that I thought would do a good job at narration, and I tried to reach out to them.

At the top of my list: John Cleese.

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I am an ultimate Monty Python fan. It’s a long long story, and I have the whole thing written out somewhere, but I’ll summarize for today in saying that John agreed. It was a very exciting moment. I assumed this meant I had found my destiny. Well, after many discussions with agents and lawyers, John backed out. I was not Hollywood enough. In the period of 7 months I went from an ultimate creative high, thinking I was going to work with a comedy god and someone I really admire, to an ultimate low. I then got a bit pissed off, but also realized that it was dumb to need a big name to validate anything. Though it is still nice to think that John Cleese assured me he liked the script but bureaucracy got in the way. So I wrote something else. It is not a comedy, again because I was in a bit of a low place. I have a masters degree in marriage and family therapy, and through those studies I learned about professional burn out. Basically when a therapist doesn’t have his own crap in check for whatever reason, and they start becoming more of a detriment to their clients than helping them. Ultimately a counselor may end up needing counseling themselves, which is an ironic, sad, and kind of funny outcome.

So – I wrote a piece about that. I took all the advice I had received: I pulled together some friends and acquaintances, and made my first short film Burn Out. It was truly a wonderful experience. Elwon Bakly and Mitch Hall are phenomenal actors. The energy in the room with these guys was so thick I was breathing it in. It is such an amazing feeling to be there on a set, and feel like the words you wrote are coming to life, but also that it’s a real circumstance and you are just a ghost in the room watching. So cool. I am really proud of this film for my first effort. We finished this thing years ago, but I have not released it until now. Primarily because there are some things about it that really suck. Above all, I learned what all film makers must learn, which is the importance of killer audio. I really wish that we had lined up some better audio for this video. I have thought about doing ADR (automated dialog replacement) but it has not panned out.

Since shooting this film I have gone on to be apart of many other projects, and I have many more things in the works. But for now, I figured it was time to dust this off and show it to the world. Thanks so much Clark, Elwon, Mitch, Aaron, Sid, and the hot secretary for this great experience! Check it out here: https://vimeo.com/233698458

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Moxie – more than just a killer word

Moxie. Yeah man Moxie. Moxie is my motto for 2016. Moxie moxie moxie. Pop quiz – do you know the origin of the word “moxie” without looking it up? Vigor, stamina, determination, a go-getter, a little bit of umph. These are but a few of the words that define moxie for me. It’s a killer word. Turns out it was injected into the American english language from a freaking soda! (Apologies if I’m the only person in world who didn’t know this already, none of my friends did. Ok I only asked one, but he is an important friend. He’s like the lord of friends. Lord Friendy – I’m gunna start calling him that. K bye)

The drink has been around since the late 1800’s! While the soda did not grow in popularity like Coke or20160101_004410 Pepsi – no one is ever going to say, “I am going to live life full of Coca Cola.” Well maybe somebody said that, but they are probably really fat and unhappy. At least if your only plan is drinking Moxie until you die, you can say “I am going to live my life full of Moxie” – and everyone will just think that you have some new found confidence and not that you’ve given up. So… Yeah – I am going to rock up 2016 full of Moxie! The soda or the ideology may you ask? No. No you may not. 😉

Soulbook – Come On Eileen

My wife is somewhat obsessed with the old tune Come On Eileen. Part of me is like “Come on Wifeen, really – this song?” Shortly there after the violin hits and I’m losing my mind jumping around the room with her.

For the purposes of today’s writing I am going to collectively give western society the name of Eileen.

I was out on a job recently where I spent over 12 hours with people I had never before worked with, seen, or ever heard of. Because of the type of work, we were forced to be together in a number of different circumstances. Eileen was showing herself in some varied colors. One trend I noticed I find a little troubling.

I’m a fairly social dude, and with my psychology background – I am interested in people. I am interested in what makes people tick, how they find happiness, and how they endure challenges. I don’t walk up to people and say “Hi, my name’s Wes, I like Cheetos and Art. What makes you happy?” I do however try and be polite, and talk to people. Nothing weird here, just your everyday courteous conversations.

keep-calm-and-come-on-eileen-3

Here is what I noticed as I tried to engage in conversations this day: People are very happy to talk about themselves. No one seemed bothered by picking up a conversation with me at all, in fact – many people talked my ear off. Which was great. It made the day go by fast, and I got to learn.

However, in all of discussions I had with many different people that day, not one person asked me anything about myself. Not one person in over 12 hours! Now, I don’t offend easy – I don’t really care that no one asked me. It is however a troubling trend.

I fear that our Facebook/social media culture is getting us in the habit of demonstrating as follows:

Look at what I eat
Look at what I don’t eat
Look, I’m on the beach
Look I have freaking cute kids
Check out all the weight I’ve lost
I am so fat
LOL I just saw Daniel Radcliffe at Starbucks
I am unfriending all the haters in my feed
I am so tired right now. I totally forgot to post something about myself because I am so tired, so I’m going to tell you that I’m tired. Ha I’m funny when I’m tired.

“I!”

Could social media be effecting our already self-centered society for the worse? I sure as crap think so. The name says it all – FACEbook. Other variants: VAINbook, MEbook, Ibook (Don’t get me started on Apple products 😉 ). Really, shouldn’t it be SOULbook? Soulbook would focus on others. Isn’t it funny how the best way to improve the health of your soul is to take the path of selflessness? It’s hard to be selfless when combined with a cell phone addiction and relentless posts about yourself.

Maybe my day with strangers (all folks perfectly happy to talk my ear off about themselves without a care in the world about the stories of those around them) is not indicative of Eileen in her entirety. But, my gut guess is we are far more self-centered than we used to be. Technology and social media can help spread goodness – but it can also easily and naturally take you down a life of “I”. So not much else to say other than Come On Eileen!! We can do better.

Done better see some live music son

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If you are a music fan, particularly a live music fan then you must have your reasons for forking over $20-200 to see a group play. Now keep in mind when I say “live music” I don’t consider New Kids On The Block, or any other group where the lyrics say things like *”I’ve been waiting for you to get naughty” and song titles like **”Sexify My Love” as music. My next door neighbor is a die hard “Block” fan, so without trying to bash her or the group too much – for the purposes of this discussion lets focus more on live rock music and move on from talking about lame kinds of groups before I get into a rant.

Why would you want to go see a group play live? For me nothing can beat the experience of watching a musician pour out their craft in a live setting – blowing your mind, melting your face, and busting your guts. To be a part of the process of art, whether its watching a painter make something amazing out of what was before just a white canvas and colors on a pallet, a dancer practice, actors on a stage, or a choir rehearse – it solidifies the art and makes it more personal. If you can’t be with your favorite bands when they wrote the music and recorded it in the studio, which is likely – then the closest you can come to the raw art is going and seeing them live. Plus if the band can wail live  it will just make you love them even more. If they suck, oddly it still provides some sense of satisfaction that at least you now know they are only any good in the studio. It is simply just cooler to be a part of the process instead of only having the end product – the finished painting or the studio CD.

So go see some live music! The next time one of your favorite groups is coming to town save up and go see them!

*Actual New Kids On The Block lyrics
**Actual New Kids On the Block song title

It’s growing like a banshee, and it may kill you

Disclaimer #1 – I am unaware nor have I researched how quickly banshees grow, but I bet it’s freaking fast.

Disclaimer #2 – Maybe your mom can help.

Disclaimer #3 – But, I doubt it. Depends on your mom.

The other day I pulled up in my entirely non-automatic truck (no power steering, no power anything. I hope the whole your car represents who you are bit isn’t true. Wes Lapioli: No Power Anything, is pretty pathetic) and I saw this:

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Woah. What the crap is that thing? It seriously grew out of nowhere. The kicker is – we didn’t plant it. This was a couple weeks ago too. It’s out to the sidewalk, and it has about 20 pumpkins growing in there now.

While kinda cool – it is also freaking me out. Could there be vigilante gang bangers that  go around secretly planting huge plants in people’s yards? Hardcore gang. They’re called The West-side Greens – and they will jack up your yard man.

This whole plant coming out of nowhere caused me to put on my Descartes/Kant/Nietzsche hat (pick your flavor of philosopher).

Wes-face-self-reflection-race-thing BEGIN!

Is there perhaps something growing inside of me that isn’t me at all? Something I don’t want to cultivate? Something I really don’t want to be, become, and something I definitely did not plant? If I really take sometime and think about who I want to be – I sadly find a whole lot of uncontrollable pumpkin plants.

Chalk it up to culture, media, weakness, family history or the West-side Greens – it doesn’t matter.  This stuff is a part of who I am, and I don’t want it to be. Anybody manufacture any good soul weed (crazy unstoppable plant) killer?

What do you do to try and kill unwanted characteristics/patterns in your life? As a dude interested in human behavior I’d love to hear. If you don’t know – lets figure it out before these banshee plants rip our faces off.

Music, the World, and That’s All I Got

“Music’s the only thing that makes sense anymore man.”

You ever see that Beatles extravaganza “artsy” movie that came out several years ago, Across the Universe? I’ve seen the sucker a fair few. While there was some good moments, the real reason I’ve peered through this take on the Beatles universe multiple times – is my wife has the hots for Jim Sturgess (she’ll deny this claim, shes lying). I should be the wisest of the wise wisey people having traversed the universe so many times. Alas, I am but a humble idiot. Also, half of the movie must be what feeling stoned is like.

Anyway – when the world seems to be exploding I always think about that line referenced above. Music. When the amount of flat out evil seems to be dominating our universe – what is left that makes sense? What makes sense to you during troubling times might just be the core of who you are – or perhaps what you should be spending your precious time on.

I wish I didn’t need wake up calls like horrific events in the world to help me remember how most of what I face everyday is extremely trivial. “Suck, no more oatmeal creme pies in the vending machine!” Struggles man, struggles. While there are bigger obstacles in my life than vending machine qualms, everything I face is truly just an oatmeal creme pie in comparison to whats happening in the world. I cannot fathom the straight-up evil. I feel powerless. All I feel like I can do is write. Play music. Love my loved ones. And for you religious folk – pray.  So be you, do what makes sense to you – unless it’s all this evil crap. In that case – freaking stop. Welp, off to Jimmy Johns :).

That look…

IMG_2560This is one of my favorite images of all time. You know that look. You done bad man, bad.  Our ability to communicate through expression and body language is a beast cake*. Look at that face! This happens to be my wife’s face. I captured so many little subtleties of her personality in this one image. There is a little annoyance, disapproval, a slight smirk, but still some mystery. What is she thinking exactly? So many subtleties here that all add up to this woman I desperately love. Fun stuff.

“You’re a writer Wes?” states this cute mysterious free floating wife face head thing. “Um… yep. Didn’t you know that?” Apparently she didn’t. Apparently nobody really knows that about me. So here I go. I’m going to keep up my writing chops here. To date I’ve written 3 short films, one full length comedy film, lyrics to hundreds of songs, far too many boring but usually A+ graded psychology papers, and I am finishing up a book.

The book discusses my struggle to become a successful creative person via self therapy sessions. It’s a comedy memoir narrative type thing where I tell stories about being rejected by Bill Murray, John Cleese, and a whole bunch of other fun letdowns you can laugh at. Get ready because I’ll be chanked* if I don’t get the thing published. ROCKmaninoff my friends.

*Mmm delicious.