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 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 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!

Episode 021 – Scott Baker – Actor, Bally Master, Santa


Scott_Baker_Bally_Master_02Scott Baker is truly one of a kind on this earth.  He is the barker or bally master for the Coney Island Freak Show in the summers.  In the winters he is often (when not acting in films or plays) Santa Claus in one of the big department stores.  He was in the legendary show Oh! Calcutta! for 12 years on Broadway, and he also did some porn acting in the 70s-80s!  Quite an amazing and varied life!

He and I met doing theatre Off Off Broadway at the Drilling Company years ago, and he was my muse there in the beginning when I was writing a lot of bizarre comedies for which he was so perfectly suited.  He added his unique stamp to all of those short plays.

Interestingly the interview took a dark and serious turn when we talked about his experiences being mugged in NYC.  NYC is a safer city now, but the area where he’s lived (and in other areas around the 5 boroughs) the city has gone through some major changes through the years.

I promise you will enjoy this talk with Scott Baker!

Topics covered in the interview:

  • Intro  (0:00)
  • Hello Scott! How we met — Two Eggs and La Mouche (3:49)
  • Bally Master a short documentary film about Scott Baker  (8:17)
  • The Coney Island Freak Show — three kinds of freaks (12:00)
  • Early inspirations, Frank Lentini and Gilbert Mysto Magic Set (16:30)
  • How to learn how to pound a nail into your head or eat fire, Coney Island Side Show School (20:32)
  • Winter job, Santa Claus (24:56)
  • How Scott got to New York (25:51)
  • Scott performs in adult films – “Rupert!” (27:23)
  • Oh! Calcutta! on Broadway (33:12)
  • How Times Square has changed, being mugged by gunpoint (37:30)
  • “Bizarre, Interesting or Horrible Audition Stories” (44:00)
  • Kitschy interests and new project: Elvis, Santa, John Wilkes Booth, Frankenstein (50:43)
  • Cancer survivor — of the soft palette (55:16)
  • Remembering director, Richard Harden (59:29)

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 019 – Corybungus – Off Off Radio Theater


corybungus_posterWelcome to Off Off Radio Theater with the short play Corybungus written by Stephen Bittrich.

Hijinks ensue when a bookshop customer tries to return a defective “OED” (Oxford English Dictionary) because it’s missing words.  This fast moving skit is a nod to the works of Monty Python.

The Returns Man is played by Steve Sherman.

Mr. Weiner, the Customer, is played by Stephen Bittrich.

An interview with Steve Sherman coming soon in a future Off Off Pod episode!

Corybungus was originally performed by The Drilling Company in an evening of New York themed one-acts by Stephen Bittrich called Big Apples.


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!