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 030 – Director Will Pomerantz


will_pomerantz_1Will Pomerantz and I grew up in the same small town of Seguin, Texas, and we both eventually made our way to the Big Apple to pursue a life in the theatre.  We first met when he was about 13 (which would have made me about 12), and while in Texas we did plenty of high school and community theatre together.  We recount a few tales from our Texas theatre roots in the interview.

Will has over the years evolved into an amazing director who is always busy with exciting projects.  I was lucky enough to rope him into directing a play of mine call Desert Rites, which for me was one of those great life experiences that one always remembers.  He’s very skilled at working on new plays, possessing the ability to help the playwright clarify and fine-tune what he’s attempting to say. I certainly had a better play at the end of our rehearsal process.

For more information about Will, check out his website.

Topics covered in the interview:

  • Hi Will… and Zoe.  Growing up in Seguin, Texas (2:17)
  • The director emerges, Cornell University (8:51)
  • An interview with the CIA (11:33)
  • MFA in directing at Carnegie Mellon University (13:27)
  • Drawn to the past, particularly the 1930s (16:49)
  • Will directs my new play, Desert Rites — a strength working on new plays (17:58)
  • Working with Nancy Harrow on This Side of Paradise about Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald (20:59)
  • The Blue Flower by Jim and Ruth Bauer at American Repertory Theatre and Second Stage Theater (24:58)
  • Adapting Tale of Two Cities at The Culture Project (28:38)
  • A tangent — The Godfather and Pulp Fiction (31:51)
  • Epic Theater Ensemble, Mahida’s Extra Key to Heaven by Russell Davis (34:30)
  • Working with John Guare — Landscape of the Body at Juilliard (38:57)
  • Working with Kathleen Chalfant, Great Expectations (43:48)
  • Audition stories from the other side of the table (49:22)
  • Stephen’s “bad director” story (54:25)
  • Directing philosophies — how to coax forth a great performance and how Will approaches a new project (58:27)

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 Audible.com.  (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 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 018 – Stephen Rosenfield of American Comedy Institute


stephen_rosenfield1Stephen Rosenfield and I had a great conversation about comedy, how one can learn the craft, how comedians prepare and how he got his start.

Stephen is the director and founder of the American Comedy Institute where folks with the comedy bug can receive great training either by way of their monthly comedy classes or in their year long program.

I happen to know Stephen from working on the website for the school.  It’s a great resource if you’d like to know more about how you can join in!

Topics covered in the interview:

  • Intro  (0:00)
  • How we met through Ted Greenberg and The Complete Performer (2:13)
  • How it all began, working on the writing (4:58)
  • Growing up and being funny and the need to express yourself (7:39)
  • Being well rounded as a comedian, Louie CK (10:11)
  • Taking note of subjects and attitudes that are working (15:50)
  • Comedians that have reinvented their persona (19:48)
  • Comedians who seem to be making it up on the fly have worked hard to prepare  (22:03)
  • Stephen’s role as teacher, how to create a hyphenated career (25:50)
  • The One Year Program at American Comedy Institute (27:06)
  • Doing “bringer shows” (bringing in an audience to the clubs) and when comedy was “rock and roll” (32:45)
  • How to build and audience as a performer (39:15)
  • Keeping warm after bombing  (42:07)

As usual my buddy Sal Clemente (of Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra) who wrote the podcast theme song, “Here We Go Again,” plays us out.

Episode 017 – Victoria Campbell – Adventurer Filmmaker and Actor


Victoria_CampbellI’ve decided Victoria is amazing and fearless.  And I don’t know if she’d define herself as an “Adventurer” but after talking to her I felt like that word needed to be in the title of her interview!

We got to know each other when she was in a production of my play, Home of the Great Pecan at The Drilling Company, and over the years I’ve seen two of her films, House of Bones (about her lovable, eccentric family and childhood home on Martha’s Vineyard — not to be confused with a horror film of the same name!) and The Hunt for Good Americans where she and a friend traveled across this great country finding and filming all sorts of cool characters.   [I’ll put up links to see these films as they become available.]

I had heard a few stories about her most current project where she daringly finagled her way into Haiti 7 days after the earthquake of 2010.  I knew there would be some amazing tales about that journey, and, boy, I was not disappointed.  You must listen!

By the way, the Haiti documentary, Monsieur le Président, is playing TOMORROW as part of The Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival at 10 am at the Chilmark School. Check out this great article from the Martha’s Vineyard Times.

Topics covered in the interview:

  • Intro  (0:00)
  • Hello Victoria; growing up in Martha’s Vineyard in an artsy family (3:12)
  • Film: House of Bones  (10:39)
  • Film: The Hunt for Good Americans (18:55)
  • Back road hookers in Ely, Nevada, Crow Reservation in Montana  (21:06)
  • Blues man, Razorblade, in Clarksdale, Mississippi (27:22)
  • Film: Monsieur le Président; the Haiti Earthquake in 2010 (32:29)
  • The aftershock 6.2; drafted as a “nurse”  (36:22)
  • The Voodoo Priest, Gaston (41:50)
  • Ukrainian transgender in Canarsie, NY (52:11)
  • “Bizarre, Interesting or Horrible Audition Stories” (53:17)

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 015 – Dan Wackerman of The Peccadillo Theater Company


dan_wackermanThe Peccadillo Theater Company is the resident company of Theatre at St. Clements, a beautiful 160 seat space on 46th Street in the heart of Manhattan.  I interviewed Artistic Director, Dan Wackerman, and we talked about their mission to bring classic American theater from the Golden Age of theater, the era of the “well-made play” to the stage.

There are economic challenges involved in bringing period plays with exceptionally large casts to the stage.  (Most modern plays are written with 6 or fewer characters; playwrights like myself know that if you can tell a great story with fewer actors, your chances of getting the play done regionally are better.  This is not necessarily the case for schools and universities where those institutions are interested in giving a lot of  students the opportunity to perform.)

I loved Dan’s quote about how the church half of this organization views theater as a “kind of sacrament.”  Loved that.  (6:05)

Enjoy my talk with Dan, and for more information about this great company, go to the website:  www.thepeccadillo.com.  (Designed and maintained by yours truly.)

If you you would like to see the reading of Clifford Odets’ Rocket to the Moon mentioned at the end of the interview, go here for tickets.  And please keep you eye on the website for William Inge’s A Loss of Roses. Previews begin May 7th, 2014.

Topics covered in the interview:

  • Intro  (0:00)
  • Colder winters in New York (2:20)
  • History of Theater at St. Clements and its place in the Off Off Broadway movement (3:08)
  • How Dan got the theater bug (7:26)
  • The Golden Age of American Theater – “era of the well-made play” (10:48)
  • 20 years ago — the first play — O’Neill’s Strange Interlude (12:15)
  • The Silver Cord by Sidney Howard is revisted (14:10)
  • How Dan finds these plays, American gems (15:26)
  • Counsellor at Law, the challenge of working with period plays, large casts (19:07)
  • Another Part of the Forest by Lillian Hellman (20:47)
  • What’s the purpose of theater? (23:53)
  • What’s the job of the director?  Casting is 75% of the job. (27:10)
  • Some new plays in the classic style, opening up the mission (32:53)
  • The future, A Loss of Roses by William Inge (34:44)
  • Auditions from the other side of the table (35:51)

As usual my buddy Sal Clemente (of Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra) who wrote the podcast theme song, “Here We Go Again,” plays us out.

Episode 014 – Hamilton Clancy of The Drilling Company – part 2


DrillingCompanyInterviewClancy2In the second part of the Hamilton Clancy interview we visit stories about the Theater Ghost, a horrible audition story, how Drilling Company helped to raise money for the kids at PS87, and actors teaching Sunday school.

Don’t forget that Drilling Company is now running The Norwegians by C. Denby Swanson and directed by Elowyn Castle with the following cast:  Hamilton Clancy, Veronica Cruz, Karla Hendricks, and Dan Teachout. The stage manager is Mary Linehan, and the house manager is Milena Davila. Go to the website for more info:  www.drillingcompany.org.

Topics covered in the interview:

  • Intro  (0:00)
  • The Drilling Company Theater Ghost as told by Dan Teachout (5:19)
  • History of space – Mark Zeller (10:03)
  • The new one-act read-aloud, Stephen plays a trick (12:25)
  • The Drilling Company starts producing full-length plays (15:25)
  • The haunted house at PS87, Zombie Labs (16:58)
  • The Discovery Series for developing new plays (19:15)
  • In Memoriam: Edwin Owens and Richard Harden (21:58)
  • Actors teaching Sunday school (25:24)
  • Now playing over 100 performances, The Norwegians (32:08)
  • Hamilton’s bad audition story, the toy fair (35:24)

As usual my buddy Sal Clemente (of Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra) who wrote the podcast theme song, “Here We Go Again,” plays us out.