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Entries in sex drugs and jazz (4)

Wednesday
Jul112012

Thoughts on Episode 3 

 

Where to begin when talking about Episode 3 “The Kid is Not My Son.” I originally thought of the concept for this episode because I was always astonished with the pot dealers I knew who were always regaling me with stories of the high level people they sold to in New York. Local politicians, celebrities, District Attorneys, Wall Street execs, CEO’s, professors, you name it. So I thought it would be fun if Neptune ended up selling ganja to a high level guy who works for the NSA.

Overall in this episode we see Neptune begin his ascension as the weed dealer du jour of NYC. He starts raking in the cash and the ladies, and things become complicated quickly. I have no idea how I came up with Neptune hooking up with an older black lady, but it makes me laugh just thinking about it, so that’s what I wrote. The image of them lying together on the couch post coitus is one of my favorite parts of the episode.

We shot a ton of this episode in the East Village and Lower East Side of Manhattan. A highlight for me was when we shot the montage of Neptune selling weed on the LES. We tried to cover as many streets as possible, Orchard, Ludlow, Houston, Grand, etc...And of course we had to include a beautiful shot of the omnipresent Lower East side artist's Marco’s work.

Another major component of episode 3 is the music. The Hot Club of San Francisco is all over this episode, and I think really makes the episode cohesive. The Hot Club is such a tight and hard swinging band, their tunes are addicting. We’ve also got a ridiculously smokin song called Everybody’s Talkin’ ‘bout Miss Thing, from Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers. The Hot Club and Lavay and her crew are based in the Bay Area but tour frequently around the US. So get your lazy ass off the couch, and check them out when they are in your town.

Reflecting upon this episode I think my favorite anecdote from those days of shooting, was for the intro. In the intro Neptune (Ashley Springer) calls the cop Julie, and realizes he has called a police station. His friend Chris (Trevour Zhou), tries to get him off the phone by hitting Neptune in the cahones. And then visa versa. So we all show up on set for the ball punching scene, and I assume that Ashley and Trevor will just kind of fake hit each other as no one really wants to get their balls punched. But method actor Trevor shows up with two nut protecting hockey cups. And handed one to Ashley, and was like “dude, we gotta make this believable, we really got to get each each other hard in the nuts if it’s gonna be funny.” So they put their cups on to my astonishment, and for the next couple hours, wailed away on each others nut sacks. It was brutally hilarious. And a wonderful intro for episode 3.

Enjoy!

Thursday
Jun072012

All about Episode 2 - “The Dinner Party”

There are several once-in-a-lifetime events culminating this week. We saw Venus eclipse the sun, which was pretty boring. In other , more globally relevant news, we have finally released episode 2 of Sex Drugs and Jazz, entitled “The Dinner Party”.

As you might remember if you were sober at the end of the Pilot episode, Neptune (Ashley Springer) gets arrested by the NYPD for selling ganja on St Marks street in New York. Episode two opens with Neptune trying to figure out how to get customers for his new weed start up business. Our Jazz musician protagonist is obviously not the sharpest business person, but with the help of his best friend Chris Wang (Trevor Zhou), a plan is hatched to throw a fancy dinner party to entice new high end customers to sell pot to.

Getting ready for the dinner party is a shit show, and the party itself is filled with complications from start to finish. At the dinner party we meet Steve and Ricardo, two flamboyant broadway theatre directors; We meet Metta, the intimidating billionaire oil man, and Eliza the horny cougar who is always has her hands on Neptune’s joint.

I really love this episode so very much, and I love dinner parties. They are one of the best social activities we get to do in our short little lives. Good people, good food, good wine, and I’m in heaven. For episode 2 I thought it would be fun to have all these characters who Neptune would be selling weed to, to gather at Neptune’s house to see him in his own environment as a cook and host. Which - surprise surprise - he’s not very good at.  

The music from Episode 2 features more kick ass tunes from the brilliant Hot Club of San Francisco - the songs Lover’s Leap, Jonesin’, and Yerba Buena bounce from the HCSF. The great funk tune for the massive bong smoking scene is “Camouflage” by Hokum Factory out of NYC.

Will Neptune pull it off, and get enough people to buy pot to start his business? Watch the effen 2nd episode now and find out you lazy slacker.

 

Thursday
May242012

Sex Drugs and Jazz - The Pilot Episode

 


What a ride it has been with this little project of ours, Sex Drugs and Jazz. It all started  - like all series do - with the first episode, “The Chronicles Of Neptune.” When I started putting the script together for the Pilot I knew I wanted to make it a believable musicians story, and include a lot of the places I frequented in New York. I wanted the show to feel like you were actually there with the characters, getting down and dirty on the L.E.S. I based the first season of the show around the genius stoner Neptune, mainly because I thought that he would just be a really fun character to write. Neptune is like a lot of people - seriously gifted in some areas, and just dumb as ass in others.

The story begins as viewers meet Neptune, who has just spent the night with a pretty young thing. We see him scramble to try and play for change so he can take his lady out for brunch, but winds up getting smacked down by another street musician trying to get his corner back. This is one of my favorite openings in the first season because it was really true to my experience - there were plenty of times during our first year living in New York, that we were playing in the streets in the snow for change to get dinner. And I loved every minute of it - well maybe not the freezing my balls off part, but in retrospect, I totally loved it. And there were definitely times our friendly group of musicians were verbally and near physically attacked for being on another musician’s corner. Good times.

In the next scene, we see how Neptune interacts in the real world, at his office job.  It doesn’t end well, another storyline drawn from life as my entire life as a filmmaker and musician has been a battle to balance multiple jobs at once. We meet Neptunes corporate roommate Mitchell Rock played by Sean Hartofilis, who basically is the antithesis of everything Neptune believes in - living together for convenience sake, a very New York experience.

Netpune’s best friend Chris Wang is always there to rescue his bud. Chris is an engineer, scientist, consultant to NASA, and also a major stoner like Neptune. The Pilot episode also introduces us to an intimidating but teddy bear of a drug dealer Dino - another character ripped ripped straight from the streets of New York; there was a pot dealer lots of musicians knew about that was pretty bi-polar. One day he’d be delivering weed smiling laughing, the next day screaming cursing and intimidating. Another funny side note on the role. Originally I hired an actor...Forget his name as we didn’t end up using him as the day of the shoot he didn’t show for call time. Doesn’t answer his phone, nothing. Later I hear the actor I hired to be our drug dealer got arrested.... Oh sweet irony. By happenstance,  working on set that day was great friend and actor Rob W. Miller. He jumped in, grabbed a script, and in about 15 minutes, we had a pitch perfect Dino.

The second to last scene in the Pilot is Neptune meeting his new love interest Julie Danes played by the fantastic Tory Dube. I wanted to shoot this to be in places I frequented. We lived on the border of Chinatown, Financial District, and the Lower East Side. me and the lady used to take lovely walks all up and down the pungent East River where people referred to as Two Bridges. It’s a beautiful area just up from the Southstreet seaport in between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. We spent many a days sitting on the benches and staring out over to Brooklyn. I thought it would be great to have Neptune meet his lady here.

On the technical side of things: The Pilot and series was shot by my brother from another mother and brilliant DP Joe Gabriel. Neptune is played by the quirky and delightful Ashley Springer. The Pilot intro was shot in Williamsburg, and the exterior in Chinatown. The Office scene in midtown Manhattan 38th and 8th Ave. Neptunes apartment interior is in Williamsburg Brooklyn at South 9th and Bedford. Dino’s apartment is shot on the Upper East Side on 91st and Lexington. Neptune and Julie’s scene was shot on Catherine St and South Street under the FDR.

Anyhow, I may have out nerded you with all the details, but perhaps some of it will be interesting to you. Furthermore I highly suggest you get up immediately, grab a bottle of something with alcohol, go to our YouTube page, and watch the Pilot episode and see what I am yammering about.

A huge thanks as well as I talk about the Pilot to all of the cast, crew and friends of this project who made this shoot possible. A huge shout out to the Mayor’s Office of Film  and Television of New York.

The above pic was Neptune (Ashley Springer) playing guitar at sunset in Washington Square Park for the intro to the show. Below is the full Pilot episode “The Chronicles of Neptune.”

 


Monday
Apr232012

E! True Hollywood Story Presents - Sex Drugs and Jazz

We’re overdue for an update on our comedy series Sex Drugs and Jazz, as this project has meandered in and out of consciousness for the past couple years. So what is Sex Drugs and Jazz you ask?

Originally when I went to New York, I had it in my head that I wanted to do a project about Jazz. And I wanted to do comedy. Pretty much my two favorites things, besides Sophia Vergara’s bosoms. So I got to New York, and explored the music and film scenes and the city itself as much as possible.

At first I actually wrote a feature film script for the project, revolving around a piano player who puts a band together in one night to try and save a famous old jazz club. That was around the end of 2009. I can remember it clearly now, as we sat with our investors, right after the financial collapse having cocktails. Laughing is all I remember. Laughing at the thought of investing in independent film in these economic times. “Independent film as we know it is dead my friend,” lamented my producer.

I took a month or so to regroup, and concluded the future would be in tv/web content a la hulu, netflix, and the Youtube’s out there. So I decided to make the Sex Drugs and Jazz project into a comedy series. I took some of my favorite characters from the film and went into production on this comedy show.

The first season of Sex Drugs and Jazz follows the brilliant jazz gypsy guitarist Neptune played by the charismatic Ashley Springer. Neptune is really a super dumb narcissistic stoner, but also one of the most talented jazz guitar players in New York. Neptune finds it hard to make a living as a jazz guitarist in NYC, and gets into the business of marijuana. We follow along as Netpune balances his life, friends, family, musicians, and ladies.

Where the hell are the episodes? Great question. Although we shot the series quickly, post production has been a brutal mofo. It has dragged on and on, not unlike your drunk racist uncle at Thanksgiving. Good things were happening, but at a snails pace.


Thanks to the addition of an additional superstar editor to our team (Big ups to my girl Viva), we are back on track to get all these episodes out throughout this year! The episodes will be coming out on the first of the month each month starting in May, and go until 2013.

I will be writing more in depth about the Sex Drugs and Jazz project as we move along to each episode with pics, anecdotes, and dirty uncensored behind the scenes stories. This week, we’ll release the first single from the soundtrack, the trailer and the Pilot episode. Check it.

Below posted is the lead single from the soundtrack entitled “Sex Drugs and Jazz”. It’s spliced together with clips from the first season. I produced the track along with my brilliant producing partner Taylor Ryan at AM studios. It was written by Rick Russell, Shaun Manley, and Todd Woodward. The emcee on the track is Woodz, and vocals are by Angela Workman.

Enjoy.