Monday, December 5, 2011

Tony and Will - Part 2

Tony, Will and I would hang out every month or so. Then signs appeared of them losing interest and patience, calls weren’t always returned, conversations went nowhere. At some point Tony told me he was hanging out with his old clique in his old neighborhood. I generally tried to be motivational and encouraging without overstepping boundaries but I couldn’t do much else but to ignore their fading interest for now, it was time to do some work and talk some business.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tony and Will - Part 1

A few months back I wrote about meeting two former gang members Tony and Will, during my volunteering activities at the Southern Youth Correctional Reception Center and Clinic in Norwalk, CA (SYCRCC). I had pitched my Citizen film project to get them interested in a consulting job and maybe more. After their release they were housed at somewhat of a half-way house in Moreno Valley, CA and I drove out there to take them out for meals and to get a conversation going about how we could work together. We would just hang out and one day we went for a hike at the nearby Perris Valley reservoir. We slowly built up a little bit of a connection, a little bit of trust.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Cholo Writing: Latino Gang Graffitti in Los Angeles by Francois Chastanet (EXCERPT)

The following is an excerpt from the book "Cholo Writing: Latino Gang Graffitti in Los Angeles" edited by Francois Chastanet:
"Each Latino gang, each neighborhood, has a slightly distinct style, but visual conventions in letterforms are clearly shared, defining a kind of "geographic homogeneity" in wall handwriting, i.e. a lettering identity on a metropolitan scale. The Los Angeles "gangster touch" in letters can be presented as a writing system in four handstyles:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Where are they from? Where are they going? - Part 3

Part of my research for my film project temporarily titled The Assassination of a Citizen takes me into the Southern Youth Correctional Reception Center and Clinic in Norwalk, CA (SYCRCC). This is a 3-part report of my experiences there.

For some of the youth at the SYCRCC, especially the more serious offenders, the ones with a gang background, it’s like college, or maybe high school. Federal Prison is college. Some say it’s a summer camp compared to what’s going on in adult institutions. I mean, it somewhat is. It’s a surprisingly pleasant, easy-going atmosphere, which is what you’d want for a rehabilitation environment for the youth. But there’s tension in the air between the brown, black, white and yellows. It’s a fragile peace but everyone is trying to get along, pass the time, endure all the do-gooder patting to get back out and for some back to business.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Shorts For Charity

My co-writer Caroline Chang is not only working on Citizen, committed to a day job, producing her friend's films and finding time to work on her own writing projects, no, she also just ran half a marathon organized by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. And as if that is not enough she now takes her activism further to bring you Shorts For Charity, a one-night event in Downtown Los Angeles.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Where are they from? Where are they going? - Part 2

Part of my research for my film project temporarily titled The Assassination of a Citizen takes me into the Southern Youth Correctional Reception Center and Clinic in Norwalk, CA (SYCRCC). This is a 3-part report of my experiences there.

Almost a year ago I applied to become a volunteer for the California Department of Corrections. I’ll skip the details but after some meetings, a background check and other initial processing, in January 2011 I was cleared to volunteer pretty much at any facility in California that offers recreational or rehabilitating services to its inmates.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Workshopping the "Citizen" Script

An exciting thing that happened these last months was a writing workshop I held in early July, bringing together my co-writers Mark McKeown, Caroline Chang and myself for a three-day-weekend meeting here at the Reflektiv base in Los Angeles.

Based on extensive, ongoing research and a detailed treatment, I wrote a first draft of the The Assassination of a Citizen screenplay in the fall of 2010. Mark and Caroline took that and did their very own rewrites, each focusing on issues and notes we discussed before.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Where are they from? Where are they going? - Part 1

Part of my research for my film project temporarily titled The Assassination of a Citizen takes me into the Southern Youth Correctional Reception Center and Clinic in Norwalk, CA (SYCRCC). This is a 3-part report of my experiences there. 

Some before me have “embedded” themselves in a gang for research purposes, may that be in the name of science, for criminal investigations or creative purposes. People want to hear that you've lived with gang members. While I think that's admirable and warranted with other subject matters, I think it’s important to keep an outsiders view on it because only then is it possible to create something differentiated and balanced.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Making it fit - Part 2

Read Part 1 here.

Although I don’t quite live by “Innovate or die”, I’m contemplating the switch from the conventional feature film format to a 4-part series, not just out of necessity but curiosity, eagerness to experiment and the prospect of creating something flexible and versatile. How about an online event? Or both?!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Making it fit - Part 1

While writing the screenplay for Citizen I encountered a common obstacle: trimming your story. But let me back up. We have arrived in the age of Media 2.0 and at Reflektiv we embrace new possibilities in producing, exhibiting and distributing films. This is nothing new to anyone working in the Media field and I’ve written about this before but the revolutionary leap the entertainment industry has gone through in just the last five years is unprecedented.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Hi Friends and Followers,

this blog has been experiencing an unusually long drought and I apologize. I'm still working on a more casual, more frequent routine but publishing, filmmaking, entrepreneuring and being a human at the same time is not the easiest task. I'm working on juggling that a little better and I think as we're gearing up for a new phase in the development of The Assassination of a Citizen (more on that in the weeks to come) it'll become an integral part of the week.

I've got some interesting posts lined up so stay tuned.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Ticked is Streaming

Hey all,

I'm excited to announce that my latest short film Ticked is available for streaming on the digital independent film library Indieflix starting today, May 3rd, 2011! Indieflix offers a curated selection of quality, independent short and long form films for streaming as well as purchase of a physical DVD. Here's Indieflix in their own words:

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Too Young To Die

I have been breeding on this idea for a while to create a network of like-minded partners; organizations and individuals; a dynamic and diverse coalition of artists, activists and social entrepreneurs who produce and support initiatives, ambitious creative projects of various kinds with a progressive, humanistic cause. In my blog post Russian Roulette I talk about what it means to be a filmmaker today, which has a lot to do with building an infrastructure.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Citizen Writing Team

In February I had to make two significant decisions. I very much enjoy the writing process; putting all the research and ideas on paper (more on the research process) and modeling a compelling story that stays true to its origin. That's what I did in the first, the current draft of The Assassination of a Citizen. But I knew I wanted to collaborate with other writers, additional sets of eyes and perspectives to make this a unique and refined film. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Russian Roulette

Fans, Friends & Followers, 

we're marching well into 2011 and making things happen one day, one step at a time here at Reflektiv. We're making a film. What does that even mean? It means different things to different people and it means something different today than even just five years ago, let alone over the last decades and its first century before that. While I'm not trying to confuse you, the technological advancements of the last ten years spawned a whole new spectrum, a whole new breed of filmmakers. Or contentmakers.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

On American Realism Part 1 - The Women

Two former Sundance Film Festival Dramatic Competition winners I just recently got to see: Frozen River and Winter's Bone. Both feature incredible talent and an ambition for a realistic portrayal of its subjects and the world they live in.

Both films are set in milieus generally ignored and overlooked because nobody bothers. No doubt both deal with tough subjects: organized crime, drug trafficking, illegal immigration, economic and emotional desperation. But both show realities of contemporary America that can't be ignored and they do it in a sensitive and engaging way that is hard to escape.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Moreno Valley, CA

Moreno Valley, CA is a "little town" in the Inland Empire on the eastern periphery of Los Angeles. You'll find a beautiful, quite spectacular landscape with a number of geological sites of interest. Like most of Southern California (rural or urban) you could get the feeling you're standing on the Moon, or Mars respectively, which of course is one of the reasons the film industry took root here in the first place. Don't get carried away like I did because in between and around unusual rock formations and Mountain Lion habitats you'll still find the (sub)urban sprawl LA is famous for. I saw some quaint corners in this town but much of it seems to get choked by the relentless grip of housing development around it (pardon my drama). I digress.