Do you love psychological thrillers as much as I do? If so, I think Onyx Movie will be the film for you! I am especially interested in this project because my friend Patrick White is acting in it AND directing. It also interests me since it is an indie project that can become a reality through crowd funding and fan support. Be sure to follow Onyx on Twitter and Facebook to find out all the latest info and be sure to support the campaign so we can get this film from concept to reality. Also check out the following interview I did with Patrick and Nati Rabinowitz and the trailer for the film below that. I think you’ll find it quite the teaser!
Q: Congratulations on your work with Onyx Movie! Can you tell me a little about what the film is about and what it means to you?
NATI: The Onyx story on its most basic level is about a man experiencing some very real realities while in a coma. It’s a film that can certainly be interpreted various ways, none are wrong.
PAT: Onyx really is about the possibility of losing everything. I mean when we are at our happiest is when we are most vulnerable. This is one mans battle with loss.
Q: This was your directorial debut, correct? What was that experience like?
N:Hard to say, as we haven’t shot the film yet, but so far the writing process, development and shooting of the teaser has been exciting. Overwhelming at times, but that’s been the advantage of working with a writing and producing partner. Patrick and I both keep each other motivated and on track with the project.
P: We haven’t shot the film yet so it will be a fun experience. Collectively we all have a lot of experience working in front of the lens, but this process from idea to completion is a huge learning experience about the business of making movies and is completely different than only preparing the script or our scenes.
Q: What advice do you have for fellow actors who want to direct?
N:Just do it. Start writing. Today.
P: if you really want to make a movie the first thing you should do is read other scripts. Decide if you want to write it and if not make sure you have some creative friends.
Q: What would you tell someone who wants to be an actor but isn’t sure about the right path to take or the right way to get started?
N:Sign up for classes. The rest will fall into place, the business aspect of things. Once you sign up I highly recommend my first acting coach Matt Newton’s book “10 Steps to Breaking into Acting.”
P: Take a class and see if you like it. Audition for student films and try to just get in front of the camera as often as you can.
Q: How can people help to make sure Onyx Movie is seen by the masses?
N: We need funding to make the film. The more funding we have the more amazing the film can be, and the more likely it’ll be to get into festivals, perhaps be made into a TV Pilot or feature film. That’s way down the line but right now we need your dollars.
P: the campaign is super important. Raising the money let’s us make the movie. We know not everyone can donate and that’s okay, but sharing the campaign with anyone and everyone is a HUGE deal. We want anyone who wants to see this movie, to have an opportunity to participate.
Q: Where can we find you and the film online and on social media?
N&P: We’re on Facebook at @OnyxShortFilm
Instagram as @OnyxShort
N: I’m @natirabinowitz on both Instagram and Twitter.
P: I’m @PatrickWhite_ on just about everything.
Q: What is one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without?
N: I can’t live without a good kitchen, I absolutely love cooking and do so often. Without? ISIS. Seriously, we can do without them.
P: Food. Literally I love good food. Cheese specifically. I wish money wasn’t so important, everyone would be a lot happier and less stressed.
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received? Who gave it to you?
N: Advice is like food. There’s healthy, phenomenal tasting food. There’s terrible, bland, unhealthy food and there’s food that’s just mehhh. But there’s no best food. I’ve been pushed to not play it safe, to get out of my comfort zone. It makes sense - as being adventuring with food is important too. Don’t eat grilled cheese every day. As for giving advice, and following it, I certainly think I try and pass on and follow the lessons passed on to me.
P: My mom always told me not to be a dick, you’d be surprised how far you can get in life by just being genuinely nice and caring about other people. As for advice I would give? Never eat expired cheese. Seriously. I’ve done this once or twice so I guess that tells you how good I am at listening to my own advice.
Q: What’s up next for Patrick White or what else do you have in the works?
P: What’s up next for me? Well that’s up in the air. I have a lot of fun ideas I’d like to develop but I’m taking it one day at a time and hoping this film is as fun for everyone as it was for us to make it.
Teeco71: Here it the trailer for your enjoyment, I hope you find it as intriguing as I do!
The sitcom is dead, long live the sitcom. Since reality TV was introduced to the masses, we’ve been hearing that scripted series, especially sitcoms, are in trouble. We debate their future, we lament over the classic ones we loved, and some of us long for the days sitcoms ruled. I have some good news for you, the sitcom isn’t actually dead, it’s just not your father’s sitcom anymore. Just look at the work TV Land is doing and you can see that. With shows like Teachers and Younger, we are seeing a change in the genre but I don’t think we need to get the resuscitation equipment ready just yet.
I have been a huge fan of television my entire life, particularly a good sitcom. I suspect that many of you are like me and enjoy escaping for a half hour of entertainment and laughter. When I heard about Mission: Dadpossible I was intrigued by the premise and hopeful for a new project that would bring a little more scripted laughter into our lives. Since reading up on it I am sure this project will be one to watch.
I have to admit, I am a bit biased because one of my colleagues and friends, Adryenn Ashley has shown her support for Dadpossible through her crowd funding platform, Crowded TV and that is another reason I am confident this project will be something we will want to get behind. With the changing landscape of television, we are going to see many artists headed to alternative sources in order to be sure their projects are seen by the masses. After you read this delightful interview with Associate Producer/Actor Jayme Wojciechowski and Creator/writer/actor Stennar Strom, be sure to head over to Crowded TV to find out more and check out other upcoming projects!
Jayme Wojciechowski (Associate Producer / Actor): Mission: Dadpossible is a broadcast quality sitcom about Sherwin, a single, “40 year old virgin,” raising his two spirited and precocious young daughters. They decide to create an online dating profile for their dad and send him out on dates. Hilarity ensues as calamity and chaos interfere with every romantic potential.
Stennar Strom (Creator/Writer/Actor): Sherwin is a hero at home, but a lovable loser everywhere else in the world. My favorite roles are dads who have as much fun as the kids, and adults who are completely awkward in social situations. The concept for the show began when I wanted to combine those two halves into one character. I created the sitcom from there.
One important aspect for me was that the women on the dates were not the punch line of the joke. That is the standard sitcom situation. Oh, the date is crazy! On Mission: Dadpossible, Sherwin is the one who messes up. I wanted to be sure that the women had a smart, well-rounded voice behind them. That is why I brought Dakota Shepard on-board as co-writer. I want the women on the show to say things that a woman would say. Not just what a male writer thinks a woman would say.
Another important part of the show is that he’s the father in a mixed race family. But that’s not the joke, or what the show revolves around. There are several successful primetime shows where the main focus is the family culture. They do that well. But on our show, it’s just who they are as a family. It just is. My kids in real life are multi-cultural, but for us it’s just our normal. When I was writing, it was always in the back of my mind that was Sherwin’s family too. There’s very little representation of those families and those kids on TV; so I just thought that would be a nice extra. I didn’t realize at the time how many people would respond so positively to that aspect of the show.
Q: Do you think there is still hope for the traditional three camera sitcom? I’ve noticed a trend of moving toward the single camera, no laugh track, no studio audience style lately.
Jayme: There is a ton of hope. I actually think we will see the reemergence of the three camera sitcom in the next few years. Like anything in Hollywood, trends tend to come in waves. Shows like The Office and Modern Family created this wave of single camera comedy and How I Met Your Mother introduced this hybrid of using three camera without a laugh track. The traditional sitcom dominated comedy television in the 90’s and early 2000’s to a point where audiences wanted another option. Then they were replaced with a more grounded style of single camera that is currently dominating. I feel that same push for something different now and believe a wave of groundbreaking traditional sitcoms are on the horizon.
Q: What are some of the plus sides of producing independent television? Are there any down sides?
Jayme: The main plus side is being able to maintain control of what you are creating. Once a creative sells their idea to a network, they often lose much of the creative control. We have some big ideas for the show that go beyond just the story and script, and we chose to produce the project ourselves to ensure we do not have to sacrifice those ideas.
Stennar: In addition, the way television is traditionally produced it can take two to three years to go through the development process for a show. We are able to go from funding to filming in a few months.
Jayme: I wouldn’t say there are any down sides but there are unique challenges to self-producing. There is just more steps for us personally. You need to not only write a script, but fund it and promote it and organize it yourself. You are not simply writing a script and selling it to a company to produce it. You are doing it all yourself. So, I guess the down side is that it is much more work. But that could also be seen as an upside. Depends how you look at it. Just like everything else.
Q: It is important to portray real families on television with all of the different types of families we experience in real life. Do you think we will see more multi-racial, single parents, and same sex parent families?
Jayme: When it comes down to it, I think people simply want to be able to relate to what they watch on television. And as creatives, we want to bring our own experiences and lives and viewpoint into the projects we create. Our team decided very early on that we wanted diversity to be a huge part of Mission: Dadpossible. From a creative standpoint, I have experienced that the more diversity there is in the creative process, the more interesting and human the project becomes. Being able to find that shared humanity when you have a plethora of ideas and experiences allows there to be more heart, and that is really what an audience yearns for. What makes our project super unique is our dedication to diversity in both our casting and our crew.
Hollywood tends to progress quite slowly but as America continues to diversify so will Hollywood. The demand is overwhelming and the networks just need to catch up. Just one more reason we are self-producing. Diversity is too important for us to risk a network being in charge.
Stennar: I think we will see more over time. I certainly hope so. My little daughter loves the movie “Home,” because the story is great and the main character looks like her. So representation does matter.
Q: What are some of the draws and perks for using crowd funding to finance projects?
Jayme: Crowd funding makes self-producing much simpler than it ever was. It really allows fans a way to feel like they are a part of the process. It also allows you to fund and promote at the same exact time.
The drawback of crowd funding is that is it easy to get lost in the shuffle. Crowd funding has become very popular and everyone from established Oscar winning filmmakers to your friend’s grandma are trying to use crowd funding to make their next film. You really need a solid project and plan in order to have a successful campaign.
Q: How do you balance creating funny, family-friendly content that appeals to adults and is suitable for children?
Jayme: Mission: Dadpossible is definitely made for adults. The idea was to create a sitcom for those parents who only ever watch the same 5 episodes of Elmo’s World with their kids on a daily basis. The humor of our show really just mimics actual family humor. If you have an adult conversation with any parents while their kids are in the room, the content of the conversation rarely changes. What changes, is that all of a sudden the adults start using all these code words and code behaviors that make the adult conversation a million times more amusing.
Stennar: It’s definitely rated PG. But, little kids won’t have any inappropriate words to mimic. When you’re watching TV with a three year old in the room, and you pay attention to the show, it’s amazing how many prime-time sitcoms past and present use words that you don’t want your kids repeating. At the same time, lots of the humor will go over the heads of older kids. I definitely think that high school kids, college kids, and single adults will enjoy the edge though; especially the disastrous dates. If you’ve ever had a bad date, then in all likelihood Sherwin’s are worse. There’s comfort and comedy in that.
Q: The crowd funding platform you are using, Crowded TV, is unique in that it allows people to back you via social currency as well as with traditional currency (money). What are some advantages of going this route, especially for indie artists and projects?
Jayme: Mission: Dadpossible is bypassing the traditional network process and instead we are asking our fans for support through Crowded TV. Crowded TV is the next level of crowd funding for independent television. What makes it perfect for indie television projects is that it allows fans to show their support in ways beyond just teaming up as financial donors. Fans can also support projects for FREE by helping build a shows “social currency.” Social Currency is the gathering of Mission: Dadpossible’s entire fan base’s demographic data. That data is matched to the ideal advertisers / sponsors and then transformed into production dollars and distribution.
There is a definite stigma that comes with crowd funding that Crowded TV is trying to eliminate. Crowd funding independent entertainment should not be about begging our family and friends to donate money to our projects. No creative wants to have to do that and now we don’t have to. With Crowded TV, the focus is on creating a fan base and having organized data about that fan base. This way we can appeal to appropriate advertisers and investors that are willing to back the project with larger donations.
Q: Where can people find out more about Mission: Dadpossible and how to help with the crowd funding?
Jayme: We happily welcome anyone who would like to join our team as a financial donor, but if you would prefer to back us for FREE that is just as helpful. All you need to do is visit www.missiondadpossible.com and click on the “Back with Facebook” and/or the “Back with Twitter” button. Then just follow the prompt. It is super easy and takes less than 10 seconds to complete.
Q: What is one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without?
Stennar: Laughter. Life is hard. Sometimes you just need to laugh.
Even though haters gonna hate, it would be a much better world if people just didn’t.
Jayme: Ditto to both of those!
Q: What is the best advice you’ve ever received? From Who?
Stennar: My father always told me to create things for yourself. If it’s something that strikes a chord, people will join in and help. Mission: Dadpossible is a testament to that.
Jayme: A Zen Master once told me an incredible little saying. Student says “I am very discouraged. What should I do?” Master says, “encourage others.”
Q: What is the best advice you’ve ever given? Are you good at following your own advice?
Stennar: You don’t have to accomplish everything in one day. One brick a day can build a house. Just keep putting down that one brick. As a stay at home dad with two small children, it’s the only way that I have built my achievements.
Jayme: I stole this saying from Bjork but I regurgitate it often. Lust for comfort suffocates the soul. I have a rule where I must challenge myself intellectually, physically and emotionally at least once a day. Reading science journals, sword fighting, cross-fit, meditation and watching emotional YouTube videos tends to cover all the bases.
Tommy: Remember to head over to Crowded TV to show your support. There are many ways to do so, including lending your social currency to the project and sharing the page with others!
Patrick White has been a bright addition to my Twitter world for quite a while now. When I heard he was working on a new film project, I was immediately interested to find out more. What I didn’t know was that in recent years, he has been through so much that would cause many of us to retreat or affect us in ways that would change our dispositions. Patrick has never shown anything but kindness and positivity online for as long as I have known him but he felt a need to share his true story in hopes of helping others. This is what our new world of Social Media should be for, reaching out to help others with the tools we have learned by going through our own trials.
Knowing Patrick, I’m sure it will be an important project with a hint of fun, learning, and laughter. I included the video interview from his Kickstarter page because I enjoyed watching it and felt he conveys his message perfectly. As an added bonus, Patrick agreed to do a little interview with me. This was truly a delight to do because it allows me to share him with you!
Q: Tell me a little about the film you are working on “Murphy’s Law“. I read that it’s based on your own experiences. Has it helped you cope with the things that have happened?
Patrick White: Yeah, its loosely based on recent experiences in my life. Most notably losing my mother to cancer this past April. Writing and producing this film has helped me grow as a person to understand that no matter how much it feels like it’s the end of the world. Its not.
Q: Do you believe in luck? Some people think there really is no such thing. Oprah says luck is when being prepared meets opportunity. What is your take on that?
PW: A friend once said something very similar to me, that luck is when opportunity meets preparation and thats when success happens. But at the same time I believe a string of bad things happening can be the other end of the spectrum of luck. So to answer your question, yes I believe in luck.
Q: What do you do to turn yourself around when too many things seem to be going wrong?
PW: My go to response when the world is crashing down around me is to just pretend like you have your life together, and eventually you will. Not everything is going to be great in your life, bad things do happen. Be patient and work hard, good things will come.
Q: If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what time period would you go to & what advice would you give yourself?
PW: I would go back to my childhood right around my pre teen years, and tell myself to appreciate family a little more. For all of you reading the people you love in your life might not always be around, so let them know how much they mean to you.
Q: You have a Kickstarter campaign for the film. How can people get involved and help you make this film a reality?
PW: They can donate whatever amount they can or if donating just isnt in the cards right now sharing the project with friends who might appreciate it would be extremely helpful to our campaign too! We need all kinds of support for this project to be successful.
Q: What advice would you give to others who are going through similar experiences and feel like they are all alone?
PW: My advice to people going through similar experiences is to let the people who care about you take care of you for a little bit. They want to help, so let them. I felt the weight of my world on my shoulders when my mom was sick and tried to hold it together for every one and it was too much of a burden to bear. Not everything is in your control, emotions are human. Be human and let the ones who love you, love you.
Q: What is one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without? Feel free to give me a serious or playful answer!
PW: Oh, this is a fun one. My serious and funny answer would probably have to be cheese. Im a huge foodie and good cheese in anything is usually a big win for me. What I wish we could all live without? I love technology, but I wish we could all do with less of it. Me and my friends always make it a point to not be on our phones frequently when we are together. Everyone being so wrapped up in things going on elsewhere they can never completely just be in that moment. Kind of sad to think about really.
I’ve know Derrick Ashong through mutual friends for a few years now and have always enjoyed what he has to say, what he’s doing, and respected what he stands for. He is a perfect combination of activist, humanitarian, intellect, and soul. I’ve known him as a talk radio host as well as a musician and admired how he looks at the world. I recently found out that he was starting an Indiegogo campaign to change the game of hip hop and help artists get wider exposure. I did not hesitate at the chance to get involved. We’ve all read/heard/seen how music can transform lives, bridge gaps, and even aid in education. We’ve also watched as our culture has suffered due to lack of funding while artists struggle because they can’t catch that initial break they need.
Enter Take Back the Mic where you and I can help aspiring talent while having fun doing it! Think American Idol with the ease of an app where you can keep up with your favorite artists and vote for them to advance. No snarky judges, just FANS supporting their favorites and deciding what happens next. Please be sure to LIKE them on Facebook and FOLLOW them on Twitter, show your support, keep up with them, and share on your various social media platforms.
I have to say that honored doesn’t begin to describe my feelings on being given the opportunity to interview Derrick or having the chance to be involved in this project in even a small way. I will let him explain it all further for you, enjoy!
Q: Tell me a little bit about what motivated you to start “Take Back the Mic?
Derrick Ashong: I was on a trip back to my hometown Accra, Ghana back in the early 2000′s and I noticed two significant things: first, unlike my previous trip a few years earlier where all the clubs & DJs were playing mostly American Hip Hop, the airwaves were now dominated by music with heavy, hybrid beats that supported lyrical flights in our indigenous languages.
This new style was called “Hip Life” – a hybrid between Hip Hop and Ghanaian Highlife, and the whole country, from little kids to my grandma were jamming to it.
The second thing that happened on that trip, is I got called a n*gger while walking down the street. The guy who said it didn’t mean any harm, he was trying to be cool, colloquial and shout out the “American” in the way he thought Americans talk. But it was the first term I’d ever heard that word in my homeland and it was a powerful reminder that US popular culture has a massive impact around the world.
Looking at those two factors – on the one hand we were taking Hip Hop and making it our own, and on the other, Hip Hop was reshaping us in “it’s own image” – made me really ask myself who decides what matters in our culture? Who decides who “we” are? And the more I thought about it the more I became obsessed with not so much what the answer was, but what it should be: “we do.”
That year, while walking the streets of Accra, I realized that not only was an entire generation worldwide using Hip Hop to define itself, but that definition could be empowering or degrading depending on whose voices spoke the loudest to the rest of the world. I wondered what would we happen to global youth culture, if we did something as simple as amplify some new voices. That was the birth of “Take Back the Mic.”
Q: How important do you think crowdfunding is for an artist today?
DA: I think crowdfunding is crucial for artists today, and as a creative I feel like I’m truly in the right place at the right time. Go back a couple of decades and the cost of recording an album would have been prohibitive for most independent artists, and there was no reliable mechanism for harnessing the power of their networks to make those projects a reality.
Today it’s much cheaper to record, produce, shoot, edit, master, do FX, the whole nine. For the first time in human history creatives of various stripes have the toolset to not only produce amazing, high-end works relatively cheaply, but they now have the ability to offer other people the opportunity to be a part of bringing beautiful and meaningful creations to life.
The power in crowdfunding is not only in the ability to harness capital towards a positive end, it’s in the opportunity to galvanize communities in collective actions to create art that reflects who we are. It is the definition of taking back the mic.
Q: Hip Hop has become a language and a means of expression for many. What does music, and especially Hip Hop, mean to you on a personal level? For society as a whole?
DA: I’m an Afropolitan – a 21st Century product of a globalized world. I grew up in Ghana, Brooklyn, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jersey. As a kid I moved every four years until I was 20. For me music was always more than entertainment, it was a through-current that helped me form and maintain my identity, while also creating a bridge to the different cultures I grew up around.
Hip Hop was particularly impactful for me, in part because I was living in New York around the time it was born. I was too young to really understand what was going on around me – what a “break beat” was, when we were “breakdancing” to it – but I like a lot of people had this sense that this is truly “our” music. There’s been a loud debate lately about cultural appropriation in Hip Hop. If you look at music historically, though, cultural appropriation is a given for any music whose influence reaches beyond the confines of its origins. The bigger the impact your sound makes, the more other people believe in and want to belong to it.
Music is culture in motion. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with many people drawing from and contributing to that evolving culture mix. The trouble I see for our society is much more fundamental – what value do we place on the people who create our “culture”. Everybody loooves to see boobs and bragadoccio in their Hip Hop artists, but we then we turn Black youth outsiders, people who’s lives are just…less than, despite the fact that their irrepressible creativity has helped to form ALL of our identities.
If you look at American Hip Hop today, frankly a lot of it has lost it’s soul. In reality, that’s part of the lifecycle of any music. Rather than blame the artists, the industry, the society etc., I believe we should channel our energies to supporting music that still makes us feel something. And when you look at what artists are doing around the world you find that Hip Hop culture has far from run it’s course – in many ways it’s only now finding it’s voice. And that is very much the voice of the global streets.
Q: You are a very busy man who is always one step ahead of the crowd. What else are you working on right now?
DA: To be honest this project is so big, for a team this small, that I can’t really do anything else. With the exception of playing with my kids and my guitar, and periodically hitting the gym, I’m all-in on this.
Q: So many people are struggling to bring their dreams to life. What advice would you give to up and coming artists?
DA: Find a way to make money doing something you can believe in, that leaves room for you to build and develop your craft. Artistry is like entrepreneurship, in that ultimately it’s not so much a sprint as a marathon. You might not even get good at what you do for a decade or more. Give yourself the time to become the artist you want to be. And if you want to make $$ in a way that makes sense for your creativity – learn to do something hard, that other people can’t or won’t. You’ll wind up getting paid more for less time, and the balance you can invest in yourself and your work.
Q: What would you say to those people who are at the end of their rope and ready to give up hope of ever making it work?
DA: Take a nap. Get something to eat. Watch a funny movie. Get a day job, take a break for a couple of months. Whatever you need to do to maintain your sanity and keep the lights on. When you reach the end of your rope stop. Find some more rope. Then keep moving.
Q: What is one thing you absolutely cannot live without? What is one thing you wish we could all live without?
DA: The one thing I cannot live without are actually two – my little daughters who use my head for a treadmill and swear I was put on earth to be a living jungle-gym. I guess God made them cute so they can get away with…everything. Then again, if not for my wife these two would have killed me a long time ago so umm…yeah I’d have to say it’s her.
The one thing I wish we could all live without right now is Pete Carroll. 1 yard bro. 1 YARD!! Sorry…I’m not even a Seattle fan and it still hurts.
Q: Where can people find you, Derrick Ashong, online, so they can keep up with all that you do?
DA: The best place to connect with me is on Twitter: @DNAtv. And of course peep www.takebackthemic.com to meet some phenomenal global talents as we build the first ever World Cup of Hip Hop!! PEACE, D.N.A
I’d like to thank Derrick for taking time to talk to me! I encourage you to check out Take Back the Mic to find out how you can help! There are some pretty interesting PERKS:
Following the successful ‘Veronica Mars’ Kickstarter movie campaign, Zach Braff is enlisting the help of fans to help him fund his ‘Garden State’ follow-up, ‘Wish I Was Here,’ which he plans to make with his brother. Though he’s well on his way to making his two million dollar goal, not everyone thinks…