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

2013-08-14 18.16.54

Mindy Raymond and C. Thomas Howell

2013-08-14 16.47.27-1

The stars of Bigfoot Wars

2013-11-13 22.32.46

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 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 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 026 – Author Karen Moline – Part 2

Karen Moline's Novels

Karen Moline’s Novels

Here’s part 2 of Karen Moline’s interview. We get right into it talking about celebrity interviewing for the magazines she worked with.  Don’t forget to check out Karen’s books, fiction and non-fiction, on Amazon.

By the way, the director of The Long Good Friday (that we blanked on) was .

Please go to Karen’s website for more information about her at www.KarenMoline.com.

Topics covered in the interview:

  • Treating celebrity interview subjects fairly (1:57)
  • Getting pawed by Brian DePalma (3:54)
  • Writing a biography of Bob Hoskins (5:22)
  • Who would play characters in the movie version of Lunch, Alex Kingston (15:26)
  • Getting the inspiration for Belladonna staying at Castle (24:16)
  • Staying true to what you’re good at (35:00)
  • Who would Karen interview now – Hilary Clinton.  Finding interesting people (36:51)
  • Adoption reform, www.pear-reform.org (46:21)

I moved to Austin!  More on that later.  My parents are selling their beautiful home.  Take a look at this cool website I made for them, www.TennesseeMountainRetreat.com.

Episode 025 – Author Karen Moline – Part 1


karen_molineMy fun friend Karen Moline is a wonderful writer with a no shortage of great stories!  We we had such a long conversation (the time flew by) that I needed to break the interview up into 2 parts.  So here is part 1 today.  Come back next Friday for part 2.

One of the first things we talked about was her first novel, Lunch: A Novel of Erotic Obsession, and in the course of talking about that novel we explored a bit some of the ways writers go about getting ideas flowing and freeing themselves up to write.

She got a substantial advance for her second novel, Belladonna, (A Novel of Revenge) back in the days with publishing houses were able to do such things.  Please go to Karen’s website for more information at www.KarenMoline.com.

Topics covered in the interview:

  • Hello Karen! (2:20)
  • How Lunch was born (3:10)
  • Stories of being an entertainment journalist; the shift from print interviews to Internet (9:11)
  • From the picture wall of fame – Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman, and the set of Harry Potter (17:20)
  • Funny story about John Malkovich (24:36)
  • Discussion about how art is created… or at least how Karen goes about it (26:36)
  • Belladonna, (A Novel of Revenge) (30:50)
  • Advantages of writing with pen and ink (32:12)
  • How ideas for Belladonna came about (35:39)
  • Dreams for inspiration, the fun of research, take a trip to the library! (39:21)
  • What Karen learned at the University of Chicago (44:24)
  • Back to Belladonna, traveling to a location for research (49:05)
  • Writing something that makes you squirm a bit… like an orgy scene! (53:00)
  • Most satisfying financial moment (58:18)
  • How celebrities can change over time… Justin Bieber (1:00:18)
  • Taking criticism (1:05:18)
  • Fiction is to transport you out of your head… we’re all Elizabeth Bennett… and the A&E version is the best btw (1:08:46)
  • A great interview with Mel Gibson with the benefit of a secret (1:15:48)

Tennessee_Mountain_RetreatFinally, I’m moving soon from staying with my folks in East Tennessee to Austin.  My parents are selling their beautiful home.  Take a look at this cool website I made for them, www.TennesseeMountainRetreat.com.

Episode 012 – Gioia De Cari of Truth Values




Photo by John Olson

My friend Gioia De Cari created a very successful one-woman show called Truth Values: One Girl’s Romp Through M.I.T.’s Male Math Maze which has had 95 performances in 45 theaters in 17 states with over 17,000 audience members.

In this interview we talk about the development of her show as well as her background as a mathematician at M.I.T.  The show has create a serious discussion about women in STEM fields.  The writing of the show was in part spurred on by a quote from the former president of Harvard, Lawrence Summers who infamously (and publicly) suggested that the reason women weren’t more represented in STEM fields was because of innate gender differences.

[Please note: Gioia wrote me in horror after the interview realizing that she had had a brain fizz and said “Bill Clinton” when she meant “Barack Obama” at the 9:20 mark of the interview.]

If you’ve ever wanted to write and perform your own one person show, certainly Gioia may be held up as a model of success.  Or if you’re interested in the topic of gender inequality in education, you’ll enjoy her point of view!

Topics covered in the interview:

  • Introduction.  Welcome to New York!  (0:00)
  • Hello Gioia De Cari.  The acting impulse.  MIT. (2:52)
  • The beginning of her one-woman show, Truth Values (7:15)
  • Tips from Wynn Handman about writing a one person show (11:43)
  • Gioia trying to fit in at MIT (14:49)
  • How she started booking the show into theatres around US (20:43)
  • How she figured out the business end of touring (24:30)
  • Political writing, can art change people or policy? (31:31)
  • Stephen didn’t realize he was sexually harrassed in the workplace (34:39)
  • Writing again after a hit (39:37)
  • Gioia’s most horrible or bizarre or interesting audition experience (46:15)
  • Go eat at Chirping Chicken at 77th and Amsterdam! (51:44)

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

Episode 009 – Storyteller Saundra Kelley of Jonesborough TN


saundra_kelley_storyteller_03In this episode of Off Off Pod, I interview storyteller, Saundra Kelley.

As many of you probably know, I’ve been staying with my parents in Tennessee for a while since my mother’s been going through treatments for cancer.  And while here, I wanted to find some local artists to interview.  Jonesborough, Tennessee is THE place to go for storytelling.

Saundra is the President of the Storyteller’s Guild, an organization in the Jonesborough area, and she and her group perform in a beautiful complex built just for storytelling.  Besides the local “tellers,” performers come from all over the world to Jonesborough to perform.  The height of the excitement happens in October during a yearly storytelling festival.  There are links below if you want to find out more about the area.

I had asked Saundra if she had any local true ghost stories she could tell, and she delivered.  Afterwards I got a tour of some of the old buildings and locations.

Topics covered in the podcast:

  • The introduction (0:00)
  • Saundra Kelley, The Story Teller’s Guild http://storytellersguild.org (5:05)
  • The Jonesborough Storytelling Center http://www.storytellingcenter.net (6:50)
  • Beautiful Historic Jonesborough, Oldest Town in Tennessee (11:12)
  • A Master’s Degree in Storytelling ETSU (East Tennessee State University) http://www.etsu.edu/coe/stories (14:40)
  • The storytelling festival in October (18:15)
  • How Saundra Kelley made her way to Jonesborough from Florida (20:11)
  • Why I asked her for a ghost story (26:42)
  • Ghost Story: “Blood on the Floor” (32:51)
  • The seasonal ghost (48:41)
  • Andrew Jackson strolls around town (51:58)
  • Some of the mechanics of storytelling — using images (55:54)
  • How to partake in storytelling in your area http://www.storynet.org (1:03:17)

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

Episode 006 – Erik Van Wyck Actor/Writer – Part 2



This is part 2 of my talk with my good buddy, actor/writer, Erik Van Wyck.  In this interview Erik lets it all hang out in his assessment of Los Angeles, the good, the bad, and the ugly — why it can be intoxicating and also soul sucking to pursue the favored industry of the town.

Erik talks a bit about a movie he helped produce (and acted in) called Expecting (which you can watch now on demand) with Radha Mitchell and Michelle Monaghan.

He also talks about traveling the world as the host of the reality show Getting Abroad which was on for a season on the now defunct The Mojo Network.  The show explored mating and dating rituals around the world, and basically Erik traveled to a country, and he and a local wing man went around and tried to pick up women.  He started each show by sampling an (often disgusting) local aphrodisiac.

Erik also offers up some embarrassing and/or bizarre audition stories.

Topics covered in the interview:

  • My introduction (0:00)
  • What drew Erik to Los Angeles  (4:58)
  • Ryan Reynolds gets Blade Trinity (7:58)
  • Douchebag is born in the movie Expecting (8:41)
  • The reality tv show Getting Abroad goes abroad (12:33)
  • Disgusting aphrodisiacs of the world (15:45)
  • How to get lucky in Iceland (23:50)
  • Interrogated by Stana Katic and the pilot Drived (29:19)
  • Embarrassing audition story, hiding crotch with script (39:48)
  • Big bad casting director story (47:48)
  • Casting couch – keys to the apartment (54:18)
  • The management company, “Welcome to Hollywood” (58:25)
  • Being killed with kindness in LA — “Hope is fuel.” (100:35)
  • Seduced and Abandoned and The Hurt Locker party (104:58)

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