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Joel Marquez

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  1. Yeah, I stopped reading Atlas Shrugged when I got to the part with the motor that ran on static electricity. Utterly ludicrous. And don't get me started on alloys that gain tensile strength -and- become less expensive by adding copper. Are you kidding me? Who reads this crap?
  2. I don't know if I can make the argument that Nirvana is more sophisticated than Rachmaninoff, but that really is comparing apples and oranges. Rachmaninoff had entire concertos devoted to extracting every implication out of his great melodies. But try playing Lithium on a piano sometime. It's more sophisticated qua melody than people give it credit for. Now, imagine devoting a concerto to that melody. Or do the reverse. Try playing Concerto #2's melody on a guitar. (I don't mean the crazy virtuoso piano stuff, just the melody.) It's a lot simpler than you think. It's beautiful, but it's not that complex. Of course, classical composers sound more complex than pop composers do, but pop composers have about 4-5 minutes to express their musical ideas. Comparing them is like comparing sprinters to marathon runners.
  3. I am a graduate of the LA Film School in Hollywood, which is a similar kind of 1-year immersion program, and while I emerged from the school with a lot of practical experience, and two short films I'm proud of, I'm not sure it was the best use of my money. The eternal question, if you want to become a filmmaker, is whether you should spend your money on film school, or spend your money on making a movie. You spend your money on film school to get experience to make a movie that you will no longer have the money to make when you leave film school. But here's the dirty secret that film schools (like LA Film School or NY Film Academy) don't want you to know. There are two components to filmmaking, the technical aspects of production, and the creative, storytelling aspects. After having gone through this process, I'm convinced that film school is unnecessary, if you are completely self-motivated, driven, and can push yourself without any outside help. For the first part, if you're smart, and can learn fast, and get along with people, you can learn everything that film schools of this kind can teach you simply by working on film sets. I see that you live in New Jersey. I would suggest that before spending tens of thousands of dollars on NYFA, that you first try volunteering to work on film shoots. Go to Craigslist.com, or mandy.com, and see if there are any small film productions, student films, that you can work on. There are always productions that need free labor. More so in the NYC area. Film sets are very hierarchical organizations in which workers typically have very specialized skills and interact with each other in very particular ways. If you don't know what you're doing, it can be intimidating. If that's the case, then accept the fact that you don't know anything, and go in with the attitude of "I'm willing to do anything, make coffee, do deliveries, anything." Be grateful for any crumb of knowledge that anyone wants to give you and definitely don't go in with any sense of entitlement or that anything is beneath you. If you're smart and observant, you'll figure out how a film set works, what the difference between a grip and best boy is, why there are several assistant directors, and how to read a call sheet. Work your ass off, and make yourself utterly indispensable, and you will be called back and asked to work on the next project with more responsibility, and maybe they'll even pay you. The old saying goes "90% of success is just showing up." I guarantee you that if you show any kind of reliability and/or competence, you -will- be called back. So many people are in this business for the wrong reasons, and because it doesn't satisfy whatever thing they thought they'd get out of it, they drop out and become unreliable. Show up. Be competent. You'll have your own network in no time. If you go to a school like NYFA, they'll show you how a set is organized, how to plan your shots, what the division of labor is, and you'll be working each of these jobs on your fellow students' shoots. But do you really want to spend 25 to 30k or whatever it is now? Especially when you can get the experience for free/paid. What about the creative, storytelling part of filmmaking? Read some books. Go to any Barnes and Noble and you'll find any number of good books on storytelling, or how to be a good director, or how to work with actors. I would recommend Robert McKee's Story to start, but really, just park yourself in the filmmaking section of Barnes and Noble and start reading. And then, start writing. Write some short scripts, anywhere from 3-8 pages in length. Assuming that you are an aspiring director, you have this ambition because there is something you want to say. So, now's your chance. Don't stop until you have about a dozen of these short scripts. Buy a camcorder. You can get one for 1/100th of the amount that you'd spend on film school. Go to your local community theater and find some actors. Make a movie. It will be dreadful, but you will have made a movie, and you will know that you can make another one. Repeat with steadily increasing ambition. You will have produced more material than if you had gone to film school, and you will not be nearly in as much debt. What I'm recommending here does not apply for those who appreciate having the lesson plan laid out like a road map, which is a perfectly appropriate process. However, you do pay a premium for that service. I'm of the opinion that quick immersion programs like NYFA and LAFS are just not good enough film schools to deserve that premium. I have a different opinion about USC and AFI's film programs. They are much better and there's a lot of value to being plugged into their alumni network. But these other schools are just meat grinders, churning out students and taking their tuition money. And if you're a director, be prepared to pay extra for producing your film. You're expected to pay the production costs -on top- of the tuition. In closing, I'll just say that you owe it to yourself to try working as a volunteer on a film shoot before spending money on film school. If you find that you would rather have a focused course of study and pay for it, then film school is the best way to do that. But you might also discover that there's a better, cheaper alternative, and it might get you to where you want to be even faster.
  4. Hi, Just a little factual note. Emily was only able to do the first show, on 11/29. She was replaced for health reasons. (She's doing much better now, but won't be able to come back to the show.) Christina Valo has done every show since then, so if you didn't see the show on opening night, you saw Christina playing Vanna. Joel
  5. Hey Steve, I don't know if you'll get this but if you're in LA right now, come out to the theater. We have our last dress rehearsal tonight, scheduled for 6pm. It would be nice to have more of an audience. Joel
  6. Three new episodes for the Monna Vanna podcast have been posted. We're up to #12 now. Do a search in the iTunes store for Monna Vanna podcast, and you'll be able to download or subscribe to the podcast. Joel p.s. We weren't able to get to your questions, Steve, but hopefully you'll get them answered when you see the play.
  7. In truth, the producers had booked a theater, put down real money, and advertised the production as part of their arts cruise, so we were mandated to find a way to make it work no matter what. However, you can be sure that if we hadn't found our great cast, we would have just tried harder until we did. We had the benefit of giving ourselves enough time to make the decisions, so we weren't constrained by a bad deadline. It's funny you should mention that Prinzivalle quote, because that was what I had picked for the audition sides. And, oh lord, you haven't lived until you've seen that monologue done 20 times, very badly. I think about that, every now and then, about how completely unbearable it would be to try to do Monna Vanna without a great cast. It would be unbearable with a just OK cast, or even a slightly better than average cast. I said this to Emily the other day that when I think about how random it was that I met her at that weird audition last year, how close we came to not meeting, and how completely inconceivable it is to do Vanna without her, it sends a chill up my spine. Fortunately, it's not something I have to worry about. So Steve, I have a question for you and anyone who might be interested. We're recording another episode or two this weekend. Are there any questions that you have for us at this stage? We'd like to devote some time to answering listener questions, if there are any. Please let us know, and again, thanks for the kind thoughts.
  8. Steve, thanks for the support and we're looking forward to seeing you on opening night. Well, if you think she's great on the podcast, you should see her perform. I've worked with a lot of actors and I don't think I've ever met anyone who so "got it" intellectually, and was able to translate that into action and performance. This is really a perfect role for her. She's such a passionate and formidable person, and to see her sink her teeth into this character is terribly rewarding. She told me that Vanna teaches her something every day, and I'm lucky enough to get to see that happen. Of course, everyone in the show is great, but we worked really hard to make that happen. We had over 1000 submissions for this production. Having been in rehearsals for the last 8 weeks, I can tell you that this show cannot possibly work without great actors such as the ones we have. Frankly, I don't think I could do this show anywhere else except LA, NYC, or London, just because of the concentration of quality acting talent. And while I would love to see productions of Monna Vanna happen around the country, I think it's unlikely you'll see a great one unless you can get a great cast together (which is unbelievably hard). That's why I'm treating this production as a once in a lifetime opportunity. So, to anyone else reading this, if you have the chance, do what Steve is doing and come out to Hollywood. You won't regret it. Joel
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