Bonus – Episode 107 of Off Off Webseries

As some of you may know, I have a webseries that I do with my talented friends called Off Off about several guys in their late 40s/early 50s trying to keep an Off Off Broadway theatre alive.   This is an episode that was actually shot a while ago, but for various reasons didn’t get released until today!

Synopsis: With the looming threat of the theater space being either torn down or turned into office space, Carlton, Blake and Johnny meet up with Georgina,the owner of the building (who also happens to live in the apartment over head), to try and work out a deal to extend the life of the theater.

Guest starring:
Joan Barber
Pëtra Denison
Lexie the Dog

Series regulars:
Stephen Bittrich as Blake, the playwright
David Marantz as Carlton (aka Jim), the artistic director
Dan Teachout as Hank, the jack of all trades
Robert Arthur Wilson as Johnny, the actor
Dennis Gagamiros as Derrick, the costume designer
Lisa Peart as Sammie, the stage manager
Kendall Rileigh as Bethany, the intern

Series DP:
John Painz


Episode 033 – Producer Director Actor Brad Coolidge – Part 2

Filmmaker Brad Coolidge likes hockey

Filmmaker Brad Coolidge likes hockey

Here is part 2 of my interview with Brad Coolidge.

If you’ve ever thought you might want to direct a film, this is a great interview for you because my buddy Brad talks honestly about some of the challenges he faced as a first time director shooting a “creature feature.”

Sometimes the elements don’t cooperate, or your creature gets held up in customs and arrives late, or you don’t have enough days on the schedule.   There are so many obstacles awaiting you when you make a film.

Brad and his wife, Melissa, along with their producing partner, Todd Labarowski, make beautiful indie movies as well.  We talked about these in detail in part 1 of the interview, but here are the links again to those great films: What Maisie Knew, Prince AvalancheJoe,  The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him AND Her, Manglehorn, and The World Made Straight.

Enjoy the interview.  Topics covered:

  • Back to our conversation in progress, El Chupacabra (1:25)
  • Setting the movie in Austin, paring down the budget, casting in NY, LA and locally (5:06)
  • Approaching go time, creature creation by Mario Torres, Jr. (7:22)
  • First day — driving scenes, Texas State University (9:50)
  • Relying on experienced crew, location scouting, spending a lot of time on the master (12:29)
  • Complication at the beginning of the first week (19:19)
  • Weather does not cooperate, steady cam (22:22)
  • Creature challenges, no time to rehearse (24:56)
  • Reworking, editing what’s in the can (33:00)
  • Inspiring the troupes, “Once more unto the breach!” (34:56)
  • A little about raising money (39:46)
  • Working on a script with Brad, Drilling Company connection (44:16)
  • Treating people well on a film set (46:37)

Episode 032 – Producer Director Actor Brad Coolidge – Part 1

Stephen Bittrich and Brad Coolidge after whacking some golf balls.

Stephen Bittrich and Brad Coolidge after whacking some golf balls.

My good friends Brad and Melissa Coolidge helped me transition to Austin.  That’s the kind of lovely, awesome folks they are!

And they also happen to make thoughtful, exciting independent movies.

In part one of this two part interview I talk to Brad about the movies he and his wife have been producing or co-executive producing (along with their partner, Todd Labarowski).  These include, What Maisie Knew (with Julianne Moore, Alexander Skarsgård and Steve Coogan – inspired by a Henry James novel), Prince Avalanche (directed by Austin filmmaker David Gordon Green and starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch, Joe (with Nicholas Cage and again directed by David Gordon Green),  The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him AND Her (which can now be seen as intended in the big markets like New York — and a combined version “Them” is playing in some smaller markets), Manglehorn, (with Al Pacino, Holly Hunter, Chris Messina, directed by David Gordon Green) and The World Made Straight (with Noah Wiley, Minka Kelly, Haley Joel Osment, and Jeremy Irvine).  These last 2 films have not yet been released.

In part 2 of the interview we’ll talk about Brad’s experiences directing a “creature feature” horror film.  So keep an eye out for part 2 coming soon.

If you’re in New York or other select cities go see The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him/Her.  Click here for tickets in New York.

Topics covered in the interview:

Episode 031 – Actor Mindy Raymond


Mindy getting made up for Bigfoot action

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Mindy Raymond and C. Thomas Howell

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The stars of Bigfoot Wars

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Mindy Raymond in The Adventures of Pepper and Paula

I’ve moved to Austin, and actor Mindy Raymond is a new friend I met at a pool party given by my friends, Brad and Melissa Coolidge (see exciting news about their big movie project at the bottom of this post).

While swimming around in the pool, Mindy mentioned this project she’d done with C. Thomas Howell called Bigfoot Wars that promised the potential cult status of a Sharknado, and I was all over that!  I knew we needed to have an interview about her experience making that movie.

Right after Bigfoot Wars, because of the great work she did and because of a new connection she made on set with Robin Nations, she was cast in a family movie called The Adventures of Paula and Pepper based in part on a real woman with the stage name of “Pistol Packin’ Paula” who is a modern day Annie Oakley-type persona here in Texas.

Mindy is a charming, bubbly, positive force, and I hope you’ll enjoy our talk!

By the way, there were a few awesome attractions here in Austin mentioned during the course of the interview, so here are some links you might find helpful if you’re ever visiting the Austin area:

1) the Austin Steam Train in Cedar Park,
2) Hamilton Pool, an amazing natural grotto,
3) Natural Bridge Caverns,
4) Enchanted Springs Ranch and old west town,
5) and The Georgetown Palace Theater.

Topics covered in the interview:

  • Sasquatch-Bigfoot-warsHello to Mindy… and what do you call more than one Bigfoot? (2:24)
  • How Mindy got the acting bug (3:32)
  • Yoga in Mindy’s life (9:17)
  • Mindy and Nate (12:04)
  • A little about Austin near the Lakeway area (13:49)
  • Finding acting work in Austin (16:27)
  • Top 3 things to do in Austin (21:12)
  • Mindy directs a short film (25:19)
  • Teaching classes at 4 Reelz (28:48)
  • Talking about Bigfoot Wars experience … and how cool Alamo Drafthouse is (29:54)
  • Audition process for Bigfoot Wars (37:48)
  • Talking about the Bigfoot legend… please don’t kill Bigfoot!  And, yes, there was a Legend of Boggy Creek movie in the 70s when I was 10 years old! (40:30)
  • Talking about The Adventures of Pepper and Paula (43:48)
  • “Bizarre, Interesting and/or Horrible Audition Stories” (49:35)

I mentioned my friends, Brad and Melissa Coolidge above (and this interview was actually taped in their guest house, so you’ll hear us mention at the end how Brad got stuck in a sudden downpour).  They are co-executive producers of an AMAZING movie that I saw screened 2 nights ago here in Austin at the Violet Crown called The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby with Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy and an amazing all-star supporting cast.  It’s in theaters.  Go see it now!

Episode 029 – David Marantz – Actor and Voice-Over Artist


David Marantz and Stephen Bittrich in the webseries OFF OFF.

Dave and I have been working on projects together for a while… in fact he is one of the stars and a co-producer of the webseries I created, Off Off.

But in this interview we concentrate on his newest triumph, Audio Book Narrator.  At this time of this interview he’s narrated 51 books on  (Check out his page!)


Dave Marantz at work narrating books

I should also mention that Dave is now starring as Malvolio in the Drilling Company’s Shakespeare in the Parking Lot production of Twelfth Night.  (I hear he’s quite fetching in yellow cross-garters.)

For more information about Dave, check out his website.

Topics covered in the interview:

  • Hi Dave! (2:18)
  • Our Drilling Company Theater roots (5:24)
  • The Whisper Room – Sound Booth (8:45)
  • Dave’s impulse to be in the arts (10:03)
  • His job helping lawyers take depositions (15:50)
  • The voice-over artist is born, Audible Books (19:25)
  • The first book, Raising Stony Mayhall, by Daryl Gregory (Audible’s “Zombie Book of the Year 2011) (23:38)
  • Literary porn and truck drivers (28:51)
  • A new Neal Asher project, science fiction writer (31:22)
  • Characters with unique voices, keeping characters straight, the job’s biggest challenges (38:12)
  • The engineer, the studio set up (45:00)
  • Recent book, Innovative State: How New Technologies Can Transform Government by Aneesh Chopra (49:50)
  • The money aspect of the job (52:45)
  • Being naked on stage, Take Me Out (56:00)
  • “Most interesting or bizarre or horrible audition story” (1:03:14)
  • Health Insurance story (1:09:53)
  • Shout out to the webseries Off Off (1:11:53)

Episode 028 – Maggie Wagner – Actor


maggie_wagner1My friend Maggie Wagner is opening in a new movie!  It will be playing tonight Friday June 20th at the Manhattan Film Festival at 9:30 pm.  The film is called The Wisdom to Know the Difference which stars — Maggie of course, Daniel Baldwin, Billy Baldwin, Lou Diamond Phillips, Mayra Leal.

Maggie comes from a show biz family which includes Uncle Mark Rydell who directed On Golden Pond and The Rose to Aunt Joanne Linville who wrote the book Seven Steps to an Acting Craft, to brother Andrew Wagner who directed the films Starting Out in the Evening and The Talent Given Us. 

For more information about Maggie, go check out her website.

Topics covered in the interview:

  • Hi Maggie! (1:27)
  • Funny Girl gives Maggie the show biz bug… and her show biz family (3:03)
  • Auditioning for the Actors Studio (9:43)
  • The film Anna and friendship with Sally Kirkland and Sandra Bullock (12:29)
  • Working Girl with Melanie Griffith and how she met Daniel Baldwin (15:50)
  • The Wisdom to Know the Difference filmed in San Antonio (18:17)
  • “Most interesting or bizarre or horrible audition story” (20:20)
  • Upcoming projects, Make It Big (23:07)
  • Advice to younger self about making it in the acting business (26:40)
  • Starting Out in the Evening directed by brother Andrew Wagner (29:15)

Had a great visit to NYC doggy sitting for my friends Margo and Bill.  Back to Austin today!

Episode 027 – Ann Talman and Kel Haney


Kel Haney on left and Ann Talman on the right

My friend Ann Talman has been developing her solo show, Woody’s Order! for a few years (well, arguably her whole life) about her relationship with her family and in particular her brother, Woody.

Woody’s Order! will be performed on Monday, September 29th at 9 pm in the 5th Annual United Solo Theatre Festival on Theatre Row.  Click here for more details.

I was very pleased and excited to interview Ann and her director, Kel Haney, in New York.

Topics covered in the interview:

  • Hello Ann and Kel — how they met — Ensemble Studio Theater (1:51)
  • Matt Hoverman Workshop — How to Create Your Own Solo Show (4:20)
  • Working on new work, solo work (7:07)
  • The development and evolution of the sola show (8:55)
  • What’s the show Woody’s Order! about? (13:47)
  • How Kel got the theater bug (26:10)
  • A director who likes to read! (30:54)
  • How Ann got the theater bug, imaginary friends (33:36)
  • Trying to give Woody a normal life — frustrations, sex (43:00)
  • Doing Little Foxes on Broadway with Elizabeth Taylor, audition story (48:12)
  • Kel meets Woody (51:02)
  • Al Pacino meets Woody (55:24)

Less than a week after moving to Austin, I headed to New York to doggy-sit for my friends, Margo and Bill.  So I captured this interview with Ann and Kel while in NYC.

Episode 024 – Jessi Blue Gormezano and Joe Jung – Project Theater and Our Bar NYC


Jessi_Blue_and_Joe_Jung_1Joe Jung and Jessi Blue Gormezano are a talented and adorable theater couple.  I was first introduced to their work with a production of the dark comedy, The Secretaries, produced by their NYC company, Project Theater.

And then when a production of my play Home of the Great Pecan was done at The Drilling Company, we were lucky enough to get Jessi in the lead for that fun Texas romp.

In 2009 they formed a site specific theater experience which has been going strong ever since called Our Bar, which is set – surprise! – in a bar.  It’s a great NYC experience where the audience feels like it’s literally in the middle of the show – and can drink and eat at the same time!  And there always seems to be live music afterwards often performed by the jug band, The Saltcracker Crazies.  So the party goes on well after the show!

Please enjoy my time with the very entertaining, Jessi and Joe.  And don’t miss Our Bar which is the first Wednesday of every month; the next show is called Stuck, and it’s on May 7th, 2014.

Topics covered in the interview:

  • Intro  (0:00)
  • Hello Jessi and Joe! The beginnings of Project: Theater (3:11)
  • Backing up in time, how the stars aligned and these kids met (8:43)
  • How I was introduced to Jessi and Joe during the run of The Secretaries by the Five Lesbian Brothers (15:04)
  • My Custom Van by Michael Ian Black (20:40)
  • Joe gets a great job in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (23:46)
  • The OurBarNYC experience, the jug band origin (31:50)
  • Jessi Blue in Home of the Great Pecan (45:25)
  • Jessi Blue, the writer emerges, Mark My Words (48:42)
  • Joe has very specific news on upcoming projects (50:15)
  • How to start a theater company (53:08)
  • “Bizarre, Interesting or Horrible Audition Stories” – Joe’s first (56:26)
  • Jessi’s audition story (1:08:21)

As usual my buddy Sal Clemente (of Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra) who wrote the podcast theme song, “Here We Go Again,” plays us out.  URO has a concert coming up.  Click the link to find out more!

Episode 023 – Steve Sherman – Actor in University of Tennessee Masters Program


Steve Sherman in Spamalot at the Clarence Brown Theater


Jessi Blue Gormezano and Steve Sherman in Home of the Great Pecan. Photo by Lee Wexler.

I was introduced to actor Steve Sherman by my buddy Dave Marantz, and he was great in my play, Home of the Great Pecan as Deputy Diggity.  I liked him so much I asked him to be in a workshop to help me develop a new play I’d been working on called Hole.

That was in New York City.  As it happens we are both in Tennessee at the moment, he as a student in University of Tennessee’s graduate acting program which is connected to the Clarence Brown Theater — a LORT Theater.  And he’s in Spamalot which is opening there tonight!

It was great to get the perspective of an actor who had been out in the professional world and had gone back to school.

Topics covered in the interview:

  • Intro  (0:00)
  • Hello Steve! His beginnings and how he got the bug (2:58)
  • Producing his own work in New York City (On Campus) and developing new work (5:44)
  • Improv in LA  (8:31)
  • Going back to school – Grad school at University of Tennessee (10:25)
  • Living in the South, long distance relationship (13:14)
  • The plan – teaching or acting (16:04)
  • Working with the Clarence Brown Theater (18:12)
  • Teaching an improv class and taking classes as a student (23:25)
  • After the masters program (28:58)
  • “Bizarre, Interesting or Horrible Audition Stories” (30:14)

As usual my buddy Sal Clemente (of Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra) who wrote the podcast theme song, “Here We Go Again,” plays us out.  URO has a concert coming up.  Click the link to find out more!

Episode 022 – Marc Palmieri – Actor, Writer, Webseries Creator


Marc_Palmieri_The_ThingMarc Palmieri is a very smart and entertaining guy, an actor, writer, teacher, and dad. He tells some great stories about getting a screenplay of his made, some of his first survival jobs, his awesome webseries (The Thing), but the most touching part of the interview well may be when he tells the charming story of how he met his wife.

He and I met when a friend of mine was in a play which he was also in, and we all went out afterwards to a bar.  I instantly liked him because he was just fun to be around, but over the years since, I’ve been consistently impressed with the depth of his talent not just as an actor but also as a writer.

In the interview we mentioned the awesome set for his play, Levittown, as designed by Michele Spadaro.  Here’s a picture of that set and a link to that feature in the NY Times.


Topics covered in the interview:

  • Intro  (0:00)
  • Hello Marc! (3:51)
  • First survival jobs – as a Macy’s “model” and receptionist  (5:10)
  • Growing up, connection to New York, theater roots  (12:00)
  • Artsy fartsy literary Shakespeare guy (15:26)
  • The Thing Webseries  (19:07)
  • Playing the lead in the movie, Too Much Sleep (22:25)
  • Writing the screenplay Telling You, the scoop (25:45)
  • How Marc met his wife – great story! (32:21)
  • Exploring question – is art still important if fewer people see it?  (44:01)
  • Levittown production (and talk about that great set) (47:13)
  • Contacting playwriting hero, Christopher Durang  (1:01:37)
  • Talking about memorable moments of the webseries (1:03:28)
  • “Bizarre, Interesting or Horrible Audition Stories” (1:14:16)

As usual my buddy Sal Clemente (of Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra) who wrote the podcast theme song, “Here We Go Again,” plays us out.  URO has a concert coming up.  Click the link to find out more!