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Showing posts with label los angeles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label los angeles. Show all posts

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Snapshots, still frames and behind the scenes . . .

Welcome To The Wyndotte Street Photo Gallery (<---click here)

This time around, we've got a behind-the-scenes snapshot from the Naked Man Comedy Series, filming near downtown LA. We had the run of the place and a lot of fun.

What's a Wyndotte?
(Besides original comedy and live music videos?)
Find out HERE.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


Bill Posley at the Wyndotte Street Variety Show
Standup Comedy, Ruby Theater, Los Angeles, CA
Produced by Christian Monzon and Adam Fike.
Director of Photography: Peter Castagnetti.

Watch it HERE.

There's more at www.yndotStreet.com . . .

#funny #varietyshow

Monday, February 9, 2015

Episode 9 - L.A Nites

L.A. Nites

The Revelation

This episode is supposed to tell it all and start moving toward the conclusion. Whether or not it does is up for debate. The story remains pretty open-ended even up to episode 13 (to be released 2.12.15) but is also supposed to have some sort of closure as for as the Howie storyline. The reason this is lacking from the show in general is the lack of specifics. As we wrote the show, Lawrence resisted the urge to define things too much saying, "[L.A Nites] is supposed to give the audience the feeling of confusion."

Lawrence Le, L.A. Nites
Confusion is a feeling

As the guy playing Emmett as well as one of the writers it was fun to see how much I could get him beat-up by the end of the show. After the explosion we find out that Emmett lost his eye and he finds his way to Jewel's.

Emmett and Jewel L.A. Nites
Emmett never leaves

This episode is also great because we got to throw in some sexy times. Granted, it's PG and turns quickly back into whatever weird witchy shit that Leighann does with Aaren but, yay for sexy times, right? Rozlyn was a champ about it. I mean, we shot at Lawrence's house with Erik. Closed set but that's still three guys and then they're like, "hey do you mind taking off your clothes so we can film you."  

Leighann works her witchy magic
You don't have to force me, you know.

Shooting film is weird because you do it in real places, not sets. The scene between Aaren and Leighann takes place on the bed that Lawrence shares with his girlfriend. So there can be a weird crossover between reality and the world of make believe. Walking onset is a little like entering the Phantom Tollboth.

Crossing through the Phantom Tollboth.
Crossing the line between fantasy and reality

Again, a big reason that Jewel is in this episode and that she is a witch is because I had stolen her hoodie from a previous shoot. We need to bring those characters back together so that he could lose the hoodie which began the stripping down of his character.

Aaren knows that they can use Emmett
Jewel, Leighann, Aaren and Emmett finally come together

Throughout the series, I had been building up Emmett's costume as he tried to disguise the things that he knew about Howie and the drops. But this is the turning point for him and since he's a psychic he know's that Aaren is closing in on him. He's a dropped out freak, so jumping is the most rational choice for him. Watch the video for full effect. The crunch is sickening.

Seriously, though the crunch is sickening
Emmett loves his drops

One of the specifics that is not really defined in this series is that fact that Emmett is also psychic. He also believe that his visions are fated to come true. Therefore, even if he foresees a negative outcome for himself, he still feels that he must do it. This is why he says to Jewel that you can't change your own destiny. Emmett knows that he was going to jump off this balcony, even if it means breaking his leg as seen in episode 11.

Emmett from L.A. Nites
He had no choice

Friday, January 30, 2015

Episode 7.2 - L.A. Nites

L.A. Nites

Wrapping it up

How far can you go into a forest? Halfway, after that you're coming back out. It's my feeling that both stories and projects should be approached with this same mentality. This is why we set everyone on each other's trails for this two-part episode. 

Garrett Hughes, Jody Barton, Erik Peterson
Everyone is looking for someone

For me this episode was all about the gore. Emmett shows up a little bit because what you come to realize, especially as the show nears its conclusion, is that Emmett is a conduit more than he's anything else. He connects everyone to everyone else. So for that reason, I got to show up on screen in order to connect storylines and then splatter blood on Erik Josef Peterson.

ooh... blood

Jody Barton, as always, was fantastic and I'm sure when Krysten saw the "sexy tattoo" scenes she was glad that we cast Rozlyn instead. Probably the story would have gone a different direction with the original casting but since Erik and Roz have worked together on a pretty regular basis. It was, however, the fist time for Lawrence, Sarah, Roz or I to see him naked but was well worth it for the development of Aaren's character.

Give him the ol' drug-him-and-tattoo-him routine

A number of people have asked me what this scene is all about which I accept as an oversight in the writing. Let me be the first to remind the entire community, through example, that just because you, the author know a piece or pieces of information, it doesn't necessarily mean your audience knows that information. I cite another example of a great web series that is suffering from this same plight.

Outside references, like knowledge of occult practices in the case of L.A. Nites, invariably narrows the scope of your audience down to those that understand the reference. There is nothing "wrong" with this but it must be noted before you get upset for people "not getting" your work. Here's the quick and dirty about what happens in episode 7 so if you were left scratching your heads, you can seems smarter than your friends: Emmett gets Aaren working for the manager. Leighann, a witch, has come to Los Angeles to avenge Howie's murder. She learns the identity of the manager from the detective and puts a spell on Aaren, a b&e artist who broke into Howie's apartment to steal the rest of her drugs. He goes to kill the manager and Pete and as his reward Leighann brands him as a member of her coven.

Stills from Sleepy Hollow
You know, everyday witch stuff.

Turns out that Wiccan practices are less mainstream than we thought. Just throwing it out there, though, at one point we talked about having Leighann & Howie being werewolf cousins instead. We all wanted to do it, too, but were stopped by the practicality of doing the transformations since practical effects, ala American Werewolf in Paris, was outside our budget. Sure there's CG but unless you can get good CG, it's just CG.  

L.A. Nites jokes
In an alternate reality, this is a shot of Leighann

In a lot of ways we were caught up in the creation of a world that existed outside our own minds. You could say this is Lawrence's show because he was the creator/director but that's not wholly true. Both Erik and I were there for most of the decisions that were made this show so, our own aesthetic opinions helped make L.A. Nites what it is. The same goes for every actor on this project and for every project that was ever made. Once you believe in the reality your team is creating, you get hooked on it. Shout out to my web series creators who know what I'm talking about.

L.A. Nites Episode 7b
One hit and you're hooked.

We had long discussions about how Aaren should booby-trap the door. We drew diagrams, shopped around the prop shop and ultimately settled on a hand grenade. All of that said, it really doesn't play well in the final cut mainly, I think, because the audience never sees the pin pop out of the hole and because there is no explosion once the manager forces Emmett inside.

This is the opinion of Caleb D. Manci
Not gonna lie, the end of Episode 7 kinda feels like this.

It doesn't matter though. In the supercut, (due out 2.16) we get the pay off of episode 8, right after meeting Ellen who is, by far, my favorite character. 

Bad ass women of cinema
Badass Boss

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Episode 7 - L.A. Nites

L.A. Nites

The Climax (part 1)

The hardest part of doing any story is having it all build up to something. The second hardest thing is having it then come back from that point to the beginning again. The story device I designed makes it possible to know what's going to happen when you get there and in the case of L.A. Nites it added up to this.

L.A. Nites Web series Caleb Manci & Erik Peterson
Overlooking the LA

Letting a story take its own direction while still giving enough information to survive on its own can be an incredibly tricky balance. As far as I understand there are two schools of thought which suggest that a writer should either orchestrate everything and the one that suggests that the author should let the characters do whatever they want. In my opinion, the first option can add up to stilted characters and tired situations while the second can lead to completely meaningless stories. My device follows the advice of writer Neil Gaiman which I paraphrase here: make a world for characters to make their own choices in.

L.A. Nites web series
Characters can be surprising

So we put Emmett in connection with Aaren, Emmett says he can get Aaren a job working for the same guys that beat up Detective K in episode 4. According to the "math" of the story-telling device the climax means finding a reason to push everyone together and making them deal with each other.

L.A. Nites web series Caleb Manci Garrett Hughes Erik Peterson Jacob Cormier
Aaren meets The Manager

Further we had to bring the detective in contact with Leighann. We liked the idea he had been stripped of his badge but he was obsessed with Howie so he couldn't stop. Like any good detective he's in it until the case is solved, as seen in episode 10.

Jody Barton of Los Angeles
But not giving up

This is the first tattoo we see on L.A. Nites. Fun Fact: The tattoo shot once filmed a week after the previous and following shots. Those of you that know the magic of movies will shrug and those of you that don't will be like, "omg... mind=blown".

web series L.A. Nites
Jody Barton and Rozlyn Stanley steal the show

Absolutely fantastic performances from both Jody and Rozlyn. We wrote episode 7 after we filmed episode 6 and so she gracefully combined her performance of what she knew about Leighann on the first day we shot with what we discover at the end of this episode. The reason I so highly applaud both Ms. Stanley and Mr. Barton's work is in the way that they hold onto their previous choices while incorporating the new twists that we built into their evolving characters.

L.A Nites web series written by Caleb Manci, Erik peterson and Tim Leavon
Bad photos of bad guys

This next sequence was fun because it was something that Erik had been excited to incorporate into Aaren's character since the beginning. Cool thing about being a writer for the show that you're also performing in is that you get to see your characters unfold the way you want them to. Both Erik and I had the luxury of doing things that we felt were plausible for Emmett and Aaren while Jody and Roz were more at the whims of what we thought was plausible for their characters.

Erik Peterson on L.A. Nites
Tying up loose ends

For the record, Roz was excited when she found out her character has power over the supernatural. This was a bold choice on the part of everyone involved with this decision. The end of this episode is what really defines this show for me. If L.A. Nites continues into season 2 we should continue to explore this angle.

Hiding in the closet, the closet L.A. Nites style
She set him up

We filmed both parts over two days, the most ambitious shoot we had up to this date. Check out the conclusion of this episode in part 2.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Episode 6: L.A. Nites

L.A. Nites

The Dark Horse

Before we even begin, I want to first tell you that what comes next will be completely biased and all statements made here in no way reflect the opinions of anyone but the author. Leighann is the best character in the series. Don't ask me who comes second because ever other actor who played one of the other characters would be pissed. 

image created by Caleb Manci
Okay, I'll tell you. 2nd place also goes to Leighann

Originally, we were talking about bringing Krysten, who plays Howie, back onto the show as her cousin, Leighann. She thought that this was an odd idea because as we confirmed in episode 3 she's definitely dead. I guess most people would think the same if they haven't seen Twin Peaks. If you haven't noticed there are some unintentional correlations between L.A. Nites and David Lynch's original series.

L.A. Nites Caleb Manci Lawrence Le Erik Peterson
Actually they're just a co-incidence... 

If you haven't noticed the Twin Peaks correlations, now might be a good time to point some of them out. A dead girl that everyone cries about for the first part of the show, Erik, former slave to a QC department was quick to point out. Howie is our Laura Palmer.

Krysten Jorgenson, Caleb Manci, Jody Barton, Rozlyn Anita
Poor Laura... I mean, Howie....

Another one that people are quick to point out are the use of owls. Which although it wasn't our direct intention is for the same reason that David Lynch, J.K. Rowling and Walt Disney used owls in The Sword in the Stone. I don't want to give any spoilers but check out episode 9 and episode 10 (due out Thursday, 1.22.15) for more about the owls. Actually the first owl appears here on the show:

L.A. Nites web series
This is Roz's actual phone case

Before this we only knew that Leighann had a tattoo of an animal but we didn't know what it was or why she had it. Since we were writing it as we were filming it, we were able to incorporate elements like the actresses phone into the storyline. Flexibility like this also allowed us to cast Rozlyn Stanley as Leighann when it turned out that Krysten was not available for filming that week. The opening shots of this episode were shot to make the viewer wonder if Howie was, in fact, still alive.

L.A. Nites web series
Who is that?

I am glad that we ultimately went with another actress since it would have been unnecessarily confusing. What we initially wrote as a joke for Justin Phillips, the guy who thinks Leighann is Howie, becomes a much more poignant moment in Rozlyn's hands. I cast Justin Phillip in this scene because I worked with both him and Rozlyn in the previously mentioned dick-joke company. What we did there was cheesy, melodramatic murder mysteries far below the talent of these two actors. I wanted them to do something real to show off just how good they were.  This segment says everything about why they should work together in the future.

Making moves
Vandiweasel says, "hey."

FYI, yhis episode is intentionally misleading. We wanted to give the impression of Leighann being an innocent, country girl who is unable to protect herself. However, once Rozlyn joined I knew that we could go further with her character. The twists and turns that change everything in episode 7 and onward, I knew could tackle. Leighann's ironic nature of being both good and evil would be a challenge to any actress but Rozlyn pulls it off with the same grace and poise that she does everything.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Episode 5 - L.A. Nites

L.A. Nites

The Plot Thickens

In storytelling you've got your setup (in our case episodes 1, 2, & 3) followed by your counter action (Detective K's investigation in episode 4) which effects the characters from your setup in the twist.

lol. you know?
Elementary, my dear webbie.

We tried to make sure that every choice we made a bigger repercussions in the next episode which is why Emmett is hanging out with the boys from the costume shop. This actually is my girlfriend's apartment for convenience but she also has a nice set up so featured set! w2g!

Caleb D. Manci as Emmett
Mi casa/su casa but don't steal my shit, okay?

It's funny to write, produce and act in something since there are so many hats to wear. I helped write the scenes and dialogue that I was in but I had to also memorize and say the lines that we co-wrote. The same with Erik and I'm sure Lawrence from his aspect on the filming. We all made part of it, none of us made all of it so even though I had help write it and set up the shots and do the costumes, dress the location, etc, I still had to make time to study lines to play this character.

Everyone's process for character creation is a little bit different

It was always Lawrence's idea that Emmett was homeless to some degree. Like maybe he had a home but he didn't want to go to it and was possibly adrift in the streets. Which is why we thought it would be funny to have him welcome everyone into his place only to be kicked out again by the actual occupant.  Enter Jewel.

L.A. Nites Episode 5 Drops and Droppies
I thought you lost your key?

As mentioned previously we all met Carolyn Vasko, who plays Jewel when we shot episode 3 at Tim's place. When I met her I knew that we should have her in the series and especially that I wanted to see her freak out. Carolyn is ferocious. Don't let her.... never mind it's pretty clear she's ferocious. It was fantastic working with her and later in episode 9.

lolz. no kidding.
Actress Carolyn Vasko

We did get lucky in a number of ways every time we filmed outside. Yeah, it was an open set and yeah, we had to deal with the environment but the backdrop of L.A. is pretty fantastic to work against. A prime example is the following series of shots. Watch the lights flashing across the phone and then the cops roll by. Beautiful. 

Caleb as Emmett and Erik as Aaren
In case you forgot that we live in a police state

We got to callback the joke of excessive driving in Los Angeles in the following sequence but, again, the city itself, especially at night is gorgeous. The title, L.A. Nites was chosen by Lawrence for that reason and the story was developed in order to get such shots as these and the opening shot of episode 7:

Emmett and Aaren on L.A. Nites
Picking up trash in the streets

The main purpose of this episode was to make sure that Emmett and Aaren could have an impact on each other while the detective comes after either one or both of them. However, there was one small complication that we introduced in episode 6.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Episode 4 - L.A. Nites

L.A. Nites

The Twist

As mentioned in the first post Lawrence, Erik and I approached the writing of this series by using a device I created which maintains the overall story structure and form so that the writer or writers only has to worry about creating content. It has proven able to produce a number of different types of work without difficulty so I helped Lawrence apply it to the web series. According to our structure this episode was to be about the drug and a force within the universe known as "K".

Jody Barton

This, by far, was Lawrence's favorite character. He allowed the other ones to exist in the L.A. Nites universe but the detective was the one that he really cared about crafting and making his own. Lawrence had a very particular way that he wanted this episode to appear which is why it has such a marked difference between it and earlier episodes. Big differences were make-up:

Jody Barton answers the call at Santa Monica pier


and the surrounding area
We were all over the place

Featured extras:

Doing drops in the alley for L.A. Nites
The lovely Sabrina Bruce

It was important for us to kick up our game at this point and try to make L.A. Nites the show that we really wanted it to be. Episode 4 is still our best looking episode to date while also introducing such key players as the Manager and Pete, the pirate.

Detective K gets the crap kicked out of him
The Manager and Pete the Pirate take care of bid-ness.

Playing up what Tim had introduced in episode 3 with the monkey mask, we sent Detective K to the costume shop in an effort to draw out the Manager, Garrett Hughes.

L.A. Nites, Episode 7
He hates to be interrupted.

I need to pause for a moment to really thank both Garrett and Jacob Cormier, who plays Pete the Pirate, for coming along with us on the L.A. Nites adventure. For those of you making web series, you know, often times you're asking your friends to fill the roles for the trade of food because you have no one else and no budget. If you are as fortunate as we were with the casting of this show then you should be happy. The caliber of actors that we got to donate their time is hard to find. Further, they kept coming back to film more as we continued each week. I truly appreciate them and hope they get more work from this series.

Actor Jacob Cormier

All of that is to say nothing of Jody Barton's portrayal of Detective K. This project was evolving and changing each week so we had a vague idea of where we were going but not real concept of where we would end up or what exactly would happen along the way. That is to say that Jody had no idea what we were going to throw at him when he signed on. Watching his performance in episode 7 versus this initial episode or episode 10 (to be released 1.22.15) it's amazing to see how he builds off of what he introduced earlier. He is a phenomenal actor who is also easy to work with and set to break into the mainstream. You read it here first.

Why god why?
Left for dead

While I never suggest that anyone rely on voice over for anything ("show, don't tell," guys) I would gladly have Jody narrate my inner monologues any day of the week. For no other reason than his closing speech from this episode sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it.

Krysten Jorgenson, Garrett Hughes, Jody Barton
"I have a photographic memory."

Because of this early success, we turned with high hopes to the even more ambitious episode 5.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

L.A. Nites: Episode 3

L.A. Nites: Episode 03

Your Work Comes to Life

Once you've done three it becomes real. One cigarette doesn't necessarily make you a smoker but three, well...

But this photo is hella funny.
...you may as well.

Since this was the third episode, we knew we had a series on our hands. Previous to writing and filming this episode we only had a set which is a small difference but different none the less.

Don't ask me why
In order to accomplish things you've got to trick the brain into believing that it's done more than it has

This episode was as far as Lawrence and imagined in his original concept. When we started, L.A. Nites was this: a guy meets this mysterious girl and she's killed because of a new drug on the streets of Los Angeles. The opening shot, seen below, is the fulfillment of Le's original vision.

By Lawrence Le, Caleb Manci and Erik Peterson
Howie under the pier

This shot was nabbed under the Santa Monica pier with our good friend Krysten Jorgensen, who played Howie. Web series fun fact: you're going to be lucky to be getting people to fill roles for you so a stand-in is probably out of the question. When we wrote that we found Howie's body on the beach, we had to tell the actress that we killed her character and then get her to agree to film her body on the beach.

Still from L.A. Nites
She's going to wake up, right Mommy?

This was the second time where I was officially creeped out by what we had written. Since Howie's death was the only part of the show that Lawrence had created, we opened the episode with it and then asked, "What now?" Again it's funny how these things come about. Our friend Tim was going to have a Hallowe'en party that week....

Monkey mask on roof
Tim Leavon, Actor/Comedian

At the time he lived up in Burbank and had access to this fantastic roof view. He was throwing the party because he was moving out. If we didn't shoot that weekend, we would never be able to use it as a location. So we wrote the roof jumping scene, a monologue which I knew Tim could knock out of the park.

L.A. Nites is supposed to be funny
The monkey mask was his idea

There were a number of optional cut aways that were written into the script but in the end it turned out that we didn't need them. The skyline of the Valley and Tim's delivery was more than enough to carry the shots. Every angle from that roof is gorgeous. 

Episode Three still, Burbank
Emmett (actor/writer Caleb D. Manci)

It was at this party that we met Carolyn Vasko who ended up playing Jewel in episodes 5, 8 and 9. Actually it was on this very same roof. She and Nate had driven out a couple of days previously to see if L.A. was something they wanted to do. Nate is the character standing to the right of Emmett in the roof scene.

this is not a photo of Nate because we already saw that side of the roof
Fascinating, yes, tell me about all the minor characters....

The most interesting part of the shoot for me was getting to hear Tim deliver the monologue that we had written earlier that week. He's an incredibly good actor so was able to breathe a ton of life into it. I'm grateful to him personally because Tim took so much care with his performance.

background image, intro from the Reanimator
Going up to the roof

We wrapped this shoot fairly quickly. Tim was the one that suggested the monkey mask and subsequently it was the reason that costume-y costumes became part of the show and why we ultimately ended up at the costume shop in episode 7. At the end of this episode we used the device I created to zoom out into the larger world which brought us to the detective and his follow-up investigation in episode 4.

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