Saturday, September 22, 2007

Podcast interview with EL MUERTO writer/director Brian Cox has now put up their podcast interview with Brian Cox.

And my interview was put up earlier in the week here.

Oxnard screening a hit! Fans, food and lottsa fun!

About an hour north of Los Angeles lies Oxnard, and this year they hosted their 10th Annual Independent Film Festival. EL MUERTO was chosen (um, no pun intended for those who've seen the film!) as the opening night film and it was my honor to attend the screening. They even had a red carpet leading into the theatre!

Also attending the festival was my friend Martin Espino, who worked on the film as well. Here he's being interviewed outside the theatre by some local press. (Martin's the gent wearing the suave hat)

Martin worked with our composer Tony Humeke and director Brian Cox on the film's unique pre-Columbian sounds. Martin handcrafs his own instruments, just as they were created by the ancient Mexicans hundreds of years ago. And he's also fluent in the Aztec toungue, Nahuatl. The various chants you hear in the film come from Martin, as well as a jaguar growl or two! He's a wonderful artist, an inspiring person, and most important that night, a heck of a lot of fun to be around.

One great thing about attending the festivals is actually meeting fans of the movie. One such fan was this wonderful lady, Terry, who drove out from a neighboring city to catch the movie. Martin took this picture, and for good luck made sure to include the cash machine in the shot! Hmmmm..... Hope the gods were watching!

The screening was held in the theatre where DRAGON WARS was playing, so for the 7 o'clock showing at least, El Muerto slew the dragons! There was a full audience when I entered the theatre, represented by a good cross section of people. Men and women, old and young. Earlier, I had seem some younger kids outside checking out the poster, and was glad to see them inside awaiting the movie.

Originally I had told Martin that we should stick around for the opening, then maybe we could dart out and grab some margaritas, returing back in time for the Q&A. However, Martin and I were having such a great time sharing our individual commentary with one another during certain scenes that we ended up staying for the whole movie! Just as well, because I really enjoy hearing the audiences reactions to the film. And sometimes I get so wrapped up in how beautifully the film was made I just want to see the whole thing through.

Afterwards was very enjoyable as well. Most of the people who watched the film stayed for the Q&A. The usual questions such as my inspiration for the comic were asked, but people were also keen on the story elements in the film and the use of symbolism evident in the picture. This crowd, largley Latino, really responded to the film in ways that only they can. It was obvious to me that these folks were very much into the mythology as well as the culture El Muerto came from. Their support of the film only reinforced what I've believed all along in the character and the story. Sure, you want to appeal to the mainstream, at least as far as a commercial enterprise like a film is concerned, but there will always be certain groups that will be the core support for whatever your endeavor might be.

Following the Q&A we all headed up the block for a real nice after-party held in a restaurant. When I got there, one of the organizers announced me and to my surprise there was a real nice round of applause from the seated guests! It's moments like this that can't be measured with any amount of ticket or DVD sales.

Another moment that's hard to put a price on is feeling like a movie star surrounded by pretty ladies like these!

Before I had arrived at the restaurant, I had called my girlfriend to let her know how things were progressing. One of the last thing she told me was "Well, go enjoy yourself and have fun signing b**b**s!" To which I responded "Aw, c'mon sweetie, ya know I wouldn't do that!". However, I was asked by one of the gals to sign her T-Shirt, so I figured I better do my part as Associate Producer of the film and oblige!

The another lovely Latina asked me to sign her festival badge. Much obliged. Looking at this pic, I think we could have both used a cigarette afterwards! (and I don't even smoke!!)

Next thing I know, they all want their badges signed. I love the movie biz!

The food was very good, served buffet style. And it was nice to be able to chat with the audience members on a more personal basis. I was even introduced to one of the local Councilmen when he stopped by to visit the party. At one point, trying to give a photographer from the local paper a good photo op, I started drawing on the table top (don't worry, that's a paper table mat!).

Julio Alcala, who works as one of the festival programmers is an amicable guy. Very accomodating to his guest, and engaging to talk to about the independent film biz, as well at the Chicano arts scene. Here's a shot of he and I, and a friendly guest, kicking back at the bar.

This young man, Graciel, said he was really moved by the film. I stopped by his table and we discussed some more of his questions about the film and Mexican culture in general. He was very proud of his Mayan roots and was happy with this drawing I made for him (from another one of the table coverings!).

The gentleman in the pink shirt is originally from Mexico and he was very keen on the Aztec prophesies and themes of sacrifice portrayed in the film. He said he was grateful to see Aztec mythology portrayed in a film. I had a few comics on me so I made sure he got a signed copy.

I was asked to do another interview at the restaurant, for which I was more than happy to do. Veronica, the delightful young reporter from a local college television show, was a little nervous as she said this was her first time. Resisting the obivous joke, I told her that we would do just fine. "I'm an old pro at this," I reasurred her, hoping it would turn out to be the case! She did fine though. I'd sure like to see a lot more of her on TV!

The staff of the Oxnard Independent Film Festival put on a wonderful event, and I made sure to let them know. They themselves started from humble roots 10 years ago (their first festival was held in someone's garage!) and now they were celebrating their 10th year. It's been about 10 years since I first published El Muerto so I guess it was some type of fate that brought us together to show EL MUERTO as the opening night film to this year's festival. When you're working in your chosen medium as an independent, wether it's film, music, comics or whatever, you've got every imaginable obstacle in your way. Sometimes you don't 'make it', but if you keep slugging away, against all the obstacles, critics, setbacks, maybe even your own insecurites, you just might make the mountaintop you were eyeing years ago.

Maybe someday you'll really get lucky and get rich while doing it! But the journey, as they say, has been an enriching experience for me since day one.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

EL MUERTO opening night film at Oxnard Independent Film Festival

Whew! DVD released tuesday, the film started a theatrical run at a local arthouse theatre last friday...and tomorrow, Sept. 20, EL MUERTO will be the opening night film at the Oxnard Independent Film Festival!

I'll be hosting the now obligatory Q&A after the screening, which I learned by my second film festival always brings out new questions and comments each time. Oxnard lies about an hour or so north of Los Angeles, so it will be a new crowd for me to talk to. Info available at the festival website here.

And I was sent this pic from my producer. The local Latino paper up there has put El Muerto on their cover! I'll grab me a good stack of those tomorrow evening, for sure!

Monday, September 17, 2007

EL MUERTO (THE DEAD ONE) out on DVD today!!

Podcast interview at

The media whirlwind continues!

Tony Tellado, the host of Sci-Fi Talk, interviewed me about self-publishing, creating El Muerto, the comic and the movie. Here's the link to the podcast. He also has an interview coming up tomorrow with Muerto screenwriter/director Brian Cox.

And remember...EL MUERTO (The Dead One) comes out on DVD tomorrow!!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

EL MUERTO opening night

Friday night was our opening night at the Laemmle Grand 4-Plex in Downtown Los Angeles! Finally a theatrical run! I've always dreamed we'd get an art-house release, so this run at the Laemmle fullfilled that one. Here's me inside the lobby:

We hosted a Q&A after the 7:20 screening. Screenwriter/director Brian Cox and I fielded questions and comments from the audience. It was great to share the spotlight with Brian, as he was previously neck deep in other productions during the other film festivals we've attended. Films are really the domain of the director, and in this case he also wrote the script. So for him to hear from and talk to the audience gave me a great deal of satifaction.

Afterwards we all posed for the obligatory pics in the lobby. Here's a trio of us from Whittier, the place I've called home for umpteen years. I'm flanked on the right by my old friend Tony Saxon. We met last century in college and for several years attended Comic Con together with other friends (until I had to get uppity and become a publisher/exhibitor!). The gentleman tp my left is Martin Espino, a musician who I met a couple of years ago at one of my signings in Whittier. Turns out that during post-production, my director was looking for someone who could sing in Nahuatl (the Aztec tounge) as well as perform the indigenous pre-Columbian music so prevelant in our film. I got Brian in touch with Martin and next thing you know, another Whittier artist gets involved in the Muerto movie! (Our head make-up artist, Mark Bautista, also hails from Whittier)

Keith Rainville also showed up. A friend of mine I've met several years ago, Keith is publisher of the fabled FROM PARTS UNKOWN, a zine that helped to spread the work about the world of masked Mexican culture called Lucha Libre. Kieth's publishing online now, and also has his hand in creating a major animated lucha libre cartoon called LOS CAMPEONES.

This nice group shot includes me, and starting on my left: Tony Humeke, our film composer who really enhanced the picture with his atmospheric score, director Brian Cox, Marin Espino, and film editor Chris Wright. Nice to see some of the filmmakers and thier families out enjoying the film on the big screen.

Without a doubt, the key creative person on this project was our writer and director, Brian Cox. The shear amount of determination and hard work to get the film made was, to me, astronomical. Regardless the size of the budget, any film involves so many elements. Not only on the creative/artistic side, but technical issues, logistical problems, marketing differences, money availability and the usual case of politics! His personal take on the story and the characters, while of course taken directly from my comic book, really won me over. I saw a story unfold that I would not have thought of to write myself, so I had the duel pleasure of having my comic adapted to film, but at the same time see an original story unflold before my eyes. So many people were involved in making our film: the Leones, our executive producers, for financing the project, our producer Larry Rattner for putting the deal and film together, all of our crew and cast. Everyone gets my gratitude and respect.

But I often tell people that there would not be an EL MUERTO film if I didn't feel that Brian was the right person to make the film. I signed the deal ulimately because I believed in his orginal vision for the film, his promise of collaboration with me, and mostly the honesty I felt in him to do right by the comic and me. All these elements I'm glad to report turned out to be true. Hollywood often gets a bad rap (and it's self-inflicted, of course) but Brian Cox turned out to be a real stand-up guy, an artist with unwavering passion, a man of integrity and, I'm glad to say, a good friend.

Next up for us is the DVD release this tuesday, Sept. 18. And on thurday, I'll be at the Oxnard Independent Film Festival introducing the opening night film, EL MUERTO! In the meantime, it's about noon on sunday, and I'm taking my girlfriend to see a movie in Downtown Los Angeles. It's called EL MUERTO.

Taking my girl to see my movie. No having to dress up, no Q&A afterwards, no having to put on my filmmaker face. Just gonna buy us a pair of tickets, get us some popcorn and soda pop, watch the movie and catch lunch in Little Tokyo after.

Best date ever.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

EL MUERTO (THE DEAD ONE) plays LA starting this friday

EL MUERTO will start an exclusive engagement this friday, Sept. 14 in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Grand 4-Plex! Following the friday 7:20 pm screening, writer/director Brian Cox and myself will be hosting a Q&A with the audience.

The film will be playing all week, so anyone can catch it at all times. Here are the official times:
Fri: 5:10, 7:20 & 9:55
Sat & Sun: 1:00, 3:00, 5:10, 7:20 & 9:55
Mon-Thu: 5:10, 7:20

And the address:
Laemmle's Grande 4-plex
345 S. Figueroa St.
Downtown Los Angeles, 90071
Theatre website here

I look forward to presenting the film with it's actual theatrical run. But I also look forward to returning for another viewing over the weekend incognito, complete with popcorn and tank of soda! Wouldn't do to have a Q&A or a press conference at a festival screening with popcorn in my teeth. When I watch it again on sunday with a friend of mine, I will definitely be off the clock!

Monday, September 03, 2007

The Possum by Blair Kitchen!

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Here's a cool comic I discovered only a few months ago (my girlfriend lent me her copy and I fell in love with the book instantly!). I wrote the creator, Blair Kitchen, and ordered my own copy of issue #1 and his more recent #2. And here's what I think about THE POSSUM...

This is a great book! The hero, a teenage comic book geek/comic book creator by the name of Stuart Spankly (hmmm...who says they don't make comics I can't relate to anymore...Um...except the teenage part!!) gains zombie powers through a foolish mishap and becomes The Possum! Actually, 'the Possum' is the name of Stuart's comic book character, and in fact dresses up as his own character at comic cons as he tries selling his book! Hats off to Blair for coming up with such a great idea.
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Stuart is a good-hearted kid, just not the most athletic hero around! Blair's artwork and writing are perfectly in tune with the story he wants to tell. His animation background definitely comes into play with the manic action and expressiveness he evokes in his drawings. A humor book that actually delivers on the humor. Tons of great visual gags abound in both issues. The first book, at a whopping 72 pages, covers the origin of the Possum, while the second book features a battle royal with a team of masked, midget Mexican wrestlers, Los 7 Deadly Dwarfs! Issue #2 even has a car chase that lasts for about 18 pages...out of a 23 pg. book! Not since a late 1960s Gene Colan drawn issue of DAREDEVIL have I seen a car chase that exciting!
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If you read his blog, you'll discover that Blair is a very hardworking publisher as well. He's got quite a lot of comic book conventions under his utility belt (in fact he travelled from Toronto, Canada to the APE in San Francisco this past year...and I missed him!!). He's generous about creating for the fans free Possum sketches. That's a great guy, and a nice way to build a rapport with the fans. As a publisher myself, I always appreciate seeing how others conduct themselves with the public. Sometimes I even steal some of their tricks!

I hope Blair continues to create more Possum comics, as his love for his comic is very evident. THE POSSUM is a professionally crafted book, with a refreshing good-natured sense of fun. In a perfect world, independent artists who love creating their comics would never have to worry about making ends meet. But, an imperfect world filled with creative, energetic cartoonist doing what they do for the shear love of their art ain't a bad world to live in. Do all of us a favor and order your own copies!

Oh yeah, and along with my comics, I recieved this little gem from Blair. Very cool, no?!
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Thanks Blair!