Episode 034 – Off Off Topic – Sal Clemente & Stephen Talk Star Wars – SPOILERS!


URO_Sal_ClementeI get Off Off Topic with my buddy, Sal Clemente, and we talk some Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  Sal and I are the same age, and we both saw the original back in 1977 at age 14.  (I said 15 in the interview, but I checked our birthdates, and we were 14 when it came out.)  I think it’s fair to say the new movie brought out nostalgic feelings from when we saw Star Wars in our youth.


For the first time this podcast is also a “vidcast.”  Here’s the video version:

Couple of things, I said in the podcast that the guy who did Avenue Q was supposed to have done the music for the Cantina Scene in the new Star Wars.  Got it wrong — it was Lin-Manuel Miranda writer of Hamilton and In the Heights who did that music.

We also talk about Sal’s band (which he began with Alan Ware) called Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra (www.URORocks.com). If you want to hear some awesome 70s covers and see  some great showmanship, go check out some of their videos on the website … or better yet … go see them in concert if you live in the Boston area!  They have a concert on January 31st at 9 PM at the Regent Theater in Arlington.

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 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 005 – Cameron Watson writer/director of film, “Our Very Own”


cam_watson_our_very_own_posterThe multi-talented Cameron Watson wrote and directed the film, Our Very Own, which was a valentine to his small hometown of Shelbyville, Tennessee.

If you want to be truly inspired by someone who did not give up on his dream of making his indie film, listen to this interview.

cameron_watson_our_very_own_cameraIt has a happy ending… a deal with Miramax… and you can stream this film right now on Netflix.  It stars Allison Janney, Keith Carradine, Cheryl Hines, Jason Ritter, Autumn Reeser, and Beth Grant.

Cam’s latest project is a new weberies called Break a Hip which sounds hilarious and is in post production now.  Here’s the Facebook page.

Topics covered in the interview:

  • My introduction of Cam (0:00)
  • Sweet story about a high school kid doing a monologue from my play, Home of the Great Pecan  (4:58)
  • Interview with Cameron Watson begins (7:38)
  • Growing up in small southern town with supportive parents (19:44)
  • Spaced Out – Cam gets cast as the heroic captain of the “ship” (20:37)
  • Horton Foote campaigns for Cam in The Widow Claire (23:55)
  • The move to Los Angeles, a work-a-day actor (25:40)
  • The writer/director emerges — Cam performs a story about his hometown (27:19)
  • Cam forms a writing group/support group (31:24)
  • Our Very Own — the next steps, a great supportive core group (33:14)
  • Shelbyville welcomes the production; casting the film (40:51)
  • Allison Janney and the Independent Spirit Award (44:43)
  • What’s the film about? (46:57)
  • How Miramax found the film (48:45)
  • Mary Badham cameo – Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird  (52:18)
  • Keith Carradine comes on board and writes a song with Nancy Griffith (55:42)
  • The other musical number in the movie – shades of Pippin by Bob Stillman (58:50)
  • Shiny Shelbyville — shooting in the town and finding period cars (102:11)
  • The new webseries with famous friends, Break a Hip (105:35)

lbs_12_09_13I reached goal one in my weight loss quest (during Turkey month, no less).  Hopefully, more updates coming soon!  I’m shooting for the next 10 pounds.

Write me if you’re working to achieve one of your goals — OffOffWorld@gmail.com.