Tag Archives: embers of war

My weekend with the Iron Throne at Miscon 26…Part 1.

30 May

The sun rose at about 5Am last Friday morning while I was sitting at my desk still working on the announcement trailer for “Legendary”.  Slept had not met me since the previous Monday and the amount of Redbull cans that surrounded me was that of epic stature!  Our photographer and principle “behind the scenes” shooter, Annie Bardonski, had just arrived and we began to instantly load up camera equipment, laptops, and notepads.  We left SW Washington and arrived at director Barry Morgan’s house where executive producer Guido Orio also joined us.  We loaded into Orio’s car and hit the road for Missoula, Montana.  Today was the day we would meet the creator of “Game Of Thrones”, Mr. George R. R. Martin, and promote “Embers Of War” and “Legendary” at Miscon 26!

Did Sean Bean ever make it this far? 😉

Friday’s drive out to Montana was interesting!  I was asked to be part of a panel on Friday night with Mr. Martin to talk about writing for the screen and my involvement within the new media space.  The panel was to start at 6PM and were were running LATE!

With Orio driving like Mad Max we passed through the Tri-cities in record time….and that’s when the red and blue came on behind us.  We pulled over to the side of the highway and another car pulled ahead of.  We thought “the cop pulled two cars over at the same time!”  The cop came to the passenger side and told us we were speeding.  Duh!  But he said he needed to check on the other car as well, so get the registration and license ready.  A few minutes passed and he came back.  “Today’s your lucky day.  The guy ahead of you is drunk.  Don’t speed and have a safe trip!”.  Talk about lucky!!!!

We arrived in Missoula at Miscon 26 (which was taking place at Ruby’s Hotel and Convention Center) at five minutes past 6PM!  I was late to a panel with George R. R. Martin!!!  I rushed through registration with the help of a very nice young female who comped Annie, Barry, and Orio, and then we were whisked away to the “Great Hall” where the panel was taking place.  I was welcomed quickly and everyone settled right back in.  There was a crowd of about 150 people in the room and Eldon Thompson (panel moderator) was asking George questions about “Game” and the amount of creative control he has on the show.  His responses were amazing and used such phrases as “HBO sends dump truck loads of money…and it’s nice!” along with “Hollywood is full of shitsniffers…And I have never wanted a brown nose!”.  Hilarity abound, Eldon turned and discussed my writing credentials in LA, my work on the sequel script for Goonies:  Part 2, and my ongoing involvement in the realm of new media.  When “Legendary” was brought up and discussed, George cut me off to say “You use real horses?!  They barely let us use them on the show!  We have to have men with coconuts standing by to mimic hoofing sounds!”.

Cthulu Bob (far left), George R. R. Martin, Eldon Thompson, and JLee

Part of the crowd during our panel “Writing for the silver screen”.

The panel ended and the four of us headed to our hotel room over at the Holiday Inn Express (thanks Tiffany Forni!) to drop off bags and unwind for a second before “Embers Of War” screened on a two hour panel and Q and A.  The turnout wasn’t massive but it was a very active Q and A!  Loads of questions about the VFX side of the series, where it’s filmed, what it’s shot on, and how the story came to fruition.  There were several film students in the room and it was awesome to be able to share some of the experiences and stories with them while we have been filming “Embers”.  It was a fun little panel and got us much closer to some of the fans who watch the show!

“Embers Of War” Screening and Q and A

After the screening, the room parties began!  Now, if you have never been to a fantasy, comic, or scifi convention, let me explain what room parties are.  Normally, several other convention organizers will show up and promote on of their upcoming cons.  At Miscon, several were there such as Radcon, Spocon, and Worldcon!  Each one was given a room to throw parties in on the second floor balcony overlooking the pool and the free booze flowed!

Part of the second floor balcony and all the wonderful drunks!

There were elves running around half naked, fairies doing shots, and weird people in random steam pun garb!  We made our way around and hit up every room, networking, making new friends, and just enjoying ourselves!

This lady was hysterical!

Not quite sure what she was…But Barry (to the right) didn’t really care!

Proof that goth apparently isn’t dead…as we’ve hoped!

This is also where I met the wonderful Sarah Kelley and discussed film and entertainment for a good hour before I started to spill my drink all over myself!  Sorry Sarah!

The wonderful Sarah (right) and the feisty Jenn (left).

Spocon’s room by far had the best and craziest concoctions and they would not let anyone know what they put in it!  Cool dudes though and they’re room party was hoppin’ on Friday night!

George loved to chat it up…and loved Annie!

Crazy broads were everywhere!

Annie B. (right) stares in confusion as Barry Morgan (center) and JLee (left) are on a quest for more booze!

Somehow…Orio looks like a dwarf in this picture! There could be a possible Hobbit audition in Orio’s future!

This is a FOX! I made the mistake of saying “nice werewolf costume”…and then got read the riot act!

There was a drag contest..and well…these dudes deserved to win!

Saturday came and Miscon’s chairman extended us an invite to screen “Legendary’s” trailer and a sneak peek clip on the IRON THRONE in front of a wonderful group of people!  Orio and Annie made up flyers that were passed around the convention and with the throne as our backdrop, we showed the trailer to an awesome crowd and talked the show up.  Questions were in detail and people were excited!  We even had a whole SCA group show up in garb to support the series!

Orio and Annie designed some nice flyers that went all around the convention Saturday to promote the “Legendary” panel that night!

After the panel and screening, we mingled with a few people to discuss Legendary more in depth.  Then we were allowed to hold a private video and photo shoot on the Iron Throne.  We recorded an intro for Indie Intertube’s live Sunday show and many other things such as “Thank You’s”.  This is about when I was sitting there, Annie was taking a pic, and a drunken man in a Kermit the Frog costume stumbled into the room.  My response was “I have to get a picture with you!”.  He took this as a “Please come jump in my lap on this throne!”.  The following picture and video should describe the incident.  I am just hoping that Annie Bardonski does not post any others!

WTF? Fantasy convention! Not the Muppet Show!

Saturday was also the day that I had been meandering outside on the balcony while a bunch of other panels were going on.  Mr. Martin appeared on the balcony ahead of me and met me halfway.  “Mr. Lee!”, he said.  “The new media dude!  Tell me a bit more about this stuff!”.  What I thought was going to be a 30 second convo turned into a full hour of conversation with George and ended up being the most inspirational conversation with a single human being I have ever had.  He talked to me about story and character, to never give up on a dream and to never give in to others who say something cannot be done.  When I asked him how he has dealt with criticism…he simply responded “There comes a time when those  that have sat back and been the critic will realize…they’ve never written a story…a screenplay…or made an idea come to life.  Let alone one with kings, beautiful women, sexual appeal, dragons, bad guys….and dwarves!”  This full conversation put a giant smile on my face and I thanked George for being such an inspiration.  He was an awesome guest of honor and an incredible man to get to know!  Thank you again George!

Creator of “Game Of Thrones”, George R. R. Martin and creator of “Legendary: A Tale Of Blood And Steel”, JLee.

We stayed for several more hours, enjoying room parties, meeting more people.  Hell…there was even a rave going on in one of the rooms with black lights and glow sticks!  It’s quite the experience to see someone dressed up as a Star War’s Rebel fighter grinding up against a chick dressed up as a Jawa!

Sarah and Jenn caught us on the way out to say “Bye”.

We soon packed the car up and headed back to Portland.  The idea was to get back in time for Wonder NW in Portland and jump on a panel towards the end of the day but, apparently, that panel was full.  Very much a bummer as we had lots to share from the weekend!

Later in the afternoon on Sunday, the world wide release of the trailer for “Legendary:  A Tale Of Blood And Steel”  aired on Indie Intertube’s live show!  We watched in amazement as over 3400 viewers tuned in to watch it live!  A giant thank you to Destini and Shad for being so supportive!

I will follow this blog up tomorrow with a Part 2!!!!

MISCON 26 FOR THE WIN!!!

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This past week and all its revealed!

18 May

Well…I have been hunkered down in the “Legendary” production office for over a week now getting ready for today!  Last weekend we shot three days.  One within Portland and one out on the Oregon coast and the footage could not have turned out better!  It’s amazing and the caliber of acting and character is top notch!

So here we are getting ready to leave today for Mckay Creek Stables out on highway 26.  Let me elaborate for a moment how everything has come together for this weekends shoot (which is massive by the way).  We had a semi skeleton crew for last weekend’s shoot and were a tad worried how this weekend would end up.  Within three days, those that hold no ties to the possessiveness of the infamous “Portland film cliques” came out of the wood work to help when they heard of our production value!  Tons of stand up people!  All of a sudden we had our hands on a massive jib with remote head,  four Canon Mark II 5 D cameras, a principle BTS filmer, 20ft of dolly track, shoulder rigs, glidecams, one of the most amazing creature FX specialists in the northwest, a full SCA troup of warriors, tons (literally tons) of armor and props, and some of the most talented crew that can be found north of LA!  All this on top of the already amazing locale that’s providing over 2o horses and livestock and 85 acres of forested area!

Now there have been a few people who have come and gone already on this project and it saddens me they could not have been a part of this.  I will be bold enough to say this is one production for the record books for Portland…Most def. on the new media front.  With 30 crew, 10 principle cast, and over 30 extras…it’s massive!  This past week has been full of blocking, rehearsals, and production meetings!  It has been an absolute highlight to see my story come to life!

However, in all my happiness, it still concerns me to see the state of our little film industry in Portland.  I was lucky enough to get to sit down and chat with several individuals about it this week.  It is blatant that when a project comes up that shows great potential in Portland, those “cliques” that we have mentioned before want to come out in droves to try and verbally bring down your project.  Or even those two faced beasts that we’ve touched on as well want a piece of the action.  I find it all rather humorous.  Is our space really that big where you don’t think things will be heard?  Where sound will not travel?  Or how about ego, once again?  What have you made recently?  Or acted in that has given you right to speak like Tom Cruise?  This is where I will give a massive shout out to some specific individuals.  These people in no way needed to help and are coming to lend a hand just out of sheer generosity and in my opinion are standouts in the Portland film community.  The creation of a film or short doesn’t tell anyone what kind of a person you are.  That acts that follow do.  Luis Garcia, Edd Blott, Aris Juson, Rowan Spiers, Sean Parker, Krysta Kelley, Claire Brooksbanks, Forge And Thistle, and Kevin Martin.  You all have a place in my heart for your generosity and giving spirits.  My sincere thanks and friendship!

I have to give my good friend and fellow actor a big shout out here.  Drew Garrettson was here from LA for about a week and a half and I wanted to get him in on this.  I revised a section of the script so he could get in.  I unknowingly wrote him a massive amount of dialogue and suddenly started worrying about him being able to memorize it in such a short time frame.  What I should have been thinking is how much of a professional he is because he was!  In the past four years that I have acted and worked with Drew, to me, this was the role that he rose with!  Drew nailed everything spot on and really shined in front of a lot of people!  His ability to adapt and contort his reactions, expressions, body, and abilities shows that he is a master of his craft!  Running lines with him brought me back to previous projects we’ve done and put a huge smile on my face!  Thanks, Drew!

“Legendary” has been a life changing experience for me.   As we get deeper into it,  I can only see big things happening for all involved!  With LA talent coming on in the near future (Courtney Zito and quite a few others), “Legendary” is going to be one hell of a wild ride full of busty babes, magic, creatures, and enough steel on steel that Stallone and Arnold will even be jealous!

FILM PRODUCTION FOR THE WIN!!!

Indie Intertube Interview and “Legendary” Day #1!

10 May

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Yesterday, I called into Indie Intertube‘s live podcast where hosts, Destini and Shad did a wonderful interview with me!  We talked the state of new media and touched on topics such as sustainability and new ways of platforming shows.  We also discussed in much detail my new series (along with “Arcana” creator, Barry Morgan) “Legendary:  A Tale Of Blood And Steel” as well as the future for “Embers Of War“.

Don’t miss out on MISCON 26 at the end of this month where “Embers Of War” will have a full two hour interactive panel and “Legendary” will get a taste of the “Iron Throne” and George R. R. Martin!!!! 

Today also marks the first day where several cast members and myself will be going through fight choreography with Jeff Richardson at the Academia Duelletoria!  The we will be making a journey out to Mckay Creek Stables to see the horses that will also be some of the stars in “Legendary”!  It’s going to be a fun filled day!

Original series for the win!!!!

How the “Cabin In The Woods” saved my week!

21 Apr

So this week was on a downward spiral from the start as I have not been feeling well.  A little background info on that.  After the first shoot we did on “Embers Of War” out on the Oregon coast back in October, we all came back proud of what we had accomplished.  Just a few days into being back, I suddenly came down with a temperature of 105 degrees, chills that would normally break a man’s spine, and felt like I developed the breathing habits of a 107 year old chain smoker!  Top this off with no appetite and barely being able to move and I knew I had come down with something worse than Hitler!

I tried to wait it out for over two weeks (stupid, I know) but the temp peaked at 106 degrees and my roommates finally said enough was enough!  They took me to a hospital in SW Washington where I was poked, prodded, had over six veins blown out from so many antibiotics pumped into me, and quarantined.  All this happened in a week and instead of just saying “we have no idea what may be wrong with you” they just kept pumping drugs in me.  My Mother and Aunt looked at the sixth doctor I had during that week and finally said “get him someplace else…now!”  They instantly transferred me to OHSU in Portland, Oregon where I was diagnosed and treated for Cryptococcal Pneumonia Gatti within a day.  What is it you ask?  It’s something straight out of a horror film, ladies and gentlemen!  Spores that miraculously made their way over to North America in 2000, cling to trees and other densely forested areas and when us, humans, walk by, we breathe these in as they are released.  The spores go into your lungs and attach to your lung walls where they soon blossom and turn your insides into a garden!  Awesome stuff, huh?  NOT!

So…to wrap things up.  This form of pneumonia can last up to two years.  Luckily, my body has done a great job of fighting it off along with the help of some gnarly medication.  But this last week, I started to not feel so good again.  Even with a wonderful night seeing friends at the “Embers Of War” screening, I felt pretty crappy afterwords.  Having an idiot try and tell me the “The Guild‘s”, Felicia Day, lacks anymore creativity sure as hell didn’t help matters!  I wanted to punch the dude in the face after his comment about how Felicia has used her “celebrity credibility” to push the show for the past two seasons, having pop culture icons make guest appearances.  Once again, telling me that “Community” is a far better show than “The Big Bang Theory”…didn’t help the situation!  So…as I began spiraling downward into an almost depressed state…there was still a light at the end of the tunnel.

A little movie had premiered at SXSW this year called “The Cabin In The Woods“.  Now, for all the Joss Whedon fans out there, you know this movie has been complete for quite sometime and was being stalled as Joss wanted it in 3D.  Well, finally, he settled on a limited release.  Friend after friend had been going to see it and saying how “awesome” and “amazing” it was.  Then I read a review where it said “Cabin In The Woods” broke every horror stereotype there had ever been and was the “best original horror film in over 20 years”.  This is what really made me almost die (literally) to see this film!

So, myself along with the wonderful, Meg Gamez, went to see CITW.  We showed up at the movie theater in Pioneer Place, one of the only theaters in the northwest showing the film, paid for our tickets, and started to walk towards the showing gate.  My eye caught a table with something on it.  Now, these days, you almost never see promo materials handed out at theaters anymore..but there…on the table was about seven “Cabin In The Woods” medium sized posters.  I instantly began to snatch them all up like a starving dog having just discovered Beggin’ Strips for the first time!  The bottom poster caught both, Meg’s attention and mine.  There was writing on it.  I was curious so I examined the writing closely.  Signed by Joss Whedon.  If that wasn’t good enough…the movie got a 10 out of 10 from this here horror fan!

All in all, the experience of watching “Cabin In The Woods” with Meg will only ever be rivaled by the time I went to the premiere of “Transformers’.  But then again…that moment never coughed up a signed Optimus Prime poster now did it!  Game…set…and match.  Cabin In The Woods for the win!

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“Legendary” and it’s familiar faces…Part 1!

19 Apr

Creating one series has been hard enough (Embers Of War), but when I made the announcement about going into production on another series (Legendary:  A Tale Of Blood And Steel), I had no idea the kind of response that I would get from others.  I thought they’d think I was nuts!  And in fact, several people think I am.  “Embers Of War” is still in production and here I am starting ANOTHER show already!  Why do you ask?  Because I feel it’s the best way to properly monetize web series. Running two shows with built in audiences increases your chances of having two audiences play off one another.  It increases views.  A tactic that I think more creators need to look into.  As stressful and hectic as it may be, I am willing to take the gamble.  But one thing that has been amazing about getting into the “space”, has been the fortune of getting to know and beginning to work with other creators, actors, actresses, and producers.

“Legendary” in just over the past week has taken on a life of it’s own.  Two individuals who I will mention in this first post are Barry Morgan and Courtney Zito.  Barry Morgan is the creator of the series, Arcana, while Courtney Zito is the star, creator, writer, and producer of Hollywood Girl.  Both series shine in their respective genres.  Arcana brings a suspenseful take on horror showcasing so many strengths in tension building and character development that it is a show one cannot pass up!  Hollywood Girl is an amazing refreshing take on comedy and the daily life of most LA females trying to burst into the “scene”.  Courtney does a phenomenal job in her acting abilities to portray a character struggling with the small details of everyday life in a major city all while bringing the finer points of comedy to your monitor.

All of these are reasons why both have came on board “Legendary”.  Barry brings his amazing producing skills to the table while Courtney, wanting to play something outside of comedy, gets to do just that as recurring character “Lady Rhonwen”, a blade slinging feminist warrior.

I could not be more happier than to see two of web’s finest creators come aboard to help this project along.  This is where I see the face of new media going.  Creators helping creators…shows helping shows.  It seems to me that web series are working because everyone knows how much passion, money, labor, and love goes into everyone of our projects and we’re each willing to help one another.  For this..I am eternally thankful to Barry and Courtney and the several others that I will mention in the next post on this topic in part 2!

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