Omnipotent Kids

Holee Crapp I been busy. My opportunities for blogging are few and far between. I'm shooting a ton. Prepping for more projects. I'm shooting TWO short films and the Pet Food Business is BOOMING. Busy aint bad. Busy is GOOD. However you want to look at it. Busy is for REALZ. My short film TRAILS, formerly known as TRAILS OF GRAY is still moving forward. The story and the film as a whole has gone from a short story about a couple getting lost in the mountains... essentially a ghost story... to a much more complex tale and six unassuming characters, the original lost couple, included, who are all connected by one unique kid, who roams aimlessly through the city and through the story. The deadline for Sundance is August 25th. That's my goal right now, to get this film into Sundance. Cordano Russell is the kid who I cast to play this omnipresent character. Cordano is a really good kid. Cordano is also a phenomenal skateboarder. He is only 9 years old and he's is getting attention from major brands and sponsors. It's his skateboard skills that led me to create this other YET TO BE TITLED short film. Ive been calling this project "Zoning," because it is a by-product of one of the legal vignettes that I wrote and directed for Aspen Publishing. That particular vignette is about a zoning variance hearing where dozens of people in "Any Town USA" attend this city council meeting and protest a re-zoning application that would convert an old sorority house into a rehab/halfway house for trouble military veterans. I have a lot of familiarity with homes fro troubled veterans because my father has been part of the Beacon House program in Long Island, NY. My awareness of that program and my Dad's involvement gave me the motivation to write this vignette is such a away that the project inevitable paved the way for a bigger, more meaningful endeavor. Add to that the fact that Ive always wanted to carve a creative project like a web series or short film out of one or two of these corporate gigs (but never really had the opportunity) and boom... I'm jumping on it. So as Ive been writing and producing and casting and coordinating all these scenes and episodes for Aspen, Ive been finding ways to squeeze in a few scenes to shoot for the film. What Ive got right now is a 75% finished film about Fathers & Sons... about love, loyalty and frustration. This film is about our military veterans... about a world that is desperately dependent on... dare I say ADDICTED TO... oil. It's a story and the people that have died fighting in wars in the name of that addiction.. and the people who fought, survived.. and brought that war home to share it with their family.... its also about kids.... and skateboarding. There's a lot going on there I know. But when it all comes together... I think once its done, it should be a really compelling film... with some important messages. maybe I'll submit this one to Sundance as well. I have to come up with a title. "Zoning" doesn't quite cut it, but that's all Ive got. 

Cordano isnt the star of "Zoning." Elijah Grissom is. Cordano is a great skateboarder and a decent actor. Elijah is a decent skateboarder and a great actor. I cast Cordano in one of the educational vignettes... about skateboarding... for obvious reasons... but I cast him as the main character in TRAILS because he has something special. He is a very charismatic, charming, good-looking kid. He is not as good of an actor as Elijah, but I wanted that unspoken unique quality to come out in this omnipotent kid. Cordano doesnt have many lines in TRAILS. He is everywhere and seems to see everything... so there is a lot of non verbal acting for him... and it suits him perfectly. Elijah is more experienced as an actor and he is super solid, fundamentally, for someone his age. He takes direction and gets it immediately. Polite. Professional. He's been a pleasure to work with. I met both kids when I was auditioning actors for ANOTHER corporate video I'm writing and producing for Aspen. That episode is a lesson in Tort Law and it centers around 3 kids on their skateboards who come across a pile of debris and decide to rip some tricks on it. One of the kids gets hurt and the viewer (Law students and/or Professors) are encouraged to discuss in class the liability in such a scenario.

My plan was to use Elijah and Cordano and another young actor named Logan to play the 3 skateboarders. I came up with the idea for the film as I was planning out the shooting schedule and it looked like I might be shooting the skateboarding scene on the same day as the Zoning scene. We shot the Zoning scene down at Chapman University, which is in Orange, CA and since Cordano was coming up from Sand Diego, Logan lives in Costa Mesa and Elijah lives in Long Beach, I figured I would try to make it easier on the kids and the parents if I cut down on their travel a little bit. So, as I was mapping out a nice long day of shooting in Orange, I started visualizing these kids in the world of the zoning hearing... my imagination took over from there and the story evolved.

Logan was actually the one who was supposed to be the main character in "Zoning." He was the son in the "Parental Immunity" Tort Law scene hat I shot a few months ago. He is a pretty good actor and he was pumped to take on a new role.... but when he showed up to set that day at Chapman, he was sick. He got really upset . he was crying and trying to keep it together...  but he just wasn't able to perform. I felt bad for him but the show must go on. I had to make an adjustment, so I took the script over to Elijah and his Mom and I said  "Okay Elijah, you're up. Logan can't  do it. He is sick and he is going home. Can you learn this monologue in 2 hours?" He said yes. He got work. Did a great job too. We've been running and gunning ever since. 


That's a picture of Cordano and Owen. Owen is the original kid who appeared in the early version of Trails. He is still an important part of the story. Cordano and Owen shot a scene together in Torrance a few weeks ago. I took this picture of them once we wrapped.

Ok, I gotta go. I wish i had more time to write this blog... and I will certainly try to drop an update as often as I can. This busy thing is really really good. Its' exhausting... but it's good. Good things are happening. 

Stay tuned.

"I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have" - Thomas Jefferson


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