From Aris with Love, Music, and Film

Losing a loved one is unthinkable. Knowing it could have been prevented makes it even more horrific. The people responsible not taking responsibly is unacceptable. There are no words to comfort someone who has suffered such a loss, there are no actions that can bring a loved one back but there are ways we can help to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else. If you don’t already know him, I want to introduce you to my friend, Aris Ziagos, and I would like to share his story and the story of his mother, Virginia.

I met Aris after the loss of his mother and from what he has told me of her, I’m sorry I never got to meet her. She was an interesting, kind, loving soul and someone I would have LOVED to interview! I know she was amazing because she raised one amazing son. I’m so proud of him for taking on this latest project and I want to help him to make the film a reality.

In his words:

“On October 29th 2012 Bellevue Hospital was crippled and left without power in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy. My mother was a patient in the ICU, and died in the aftermath of the storm. In the midst of the worst tragedy that has struck my family, the biggest storm ever to hit NYC changed our lives forever and revealed cracks in our emergency management and health care systems. This documentary is so important, for learning from the lessons of these events, for grieving and healing.”

You all know I have always felt entertainment and social media are best when we are telling stories that help others and this is definitely the case here. Please enjoy our interview and visit the fundraising page if you can help. Even one dollar can assist and hopefully prevent this tragedy from happening to others.

Q: Your project, From Virginia With Love: A Documentary, is a labor of love and the story of your mother. Can you tell us a little about your mom?

Aris Ziagos: Yes, thank you! My mother was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and travelled around the country a lot in her youth as the daughter of an army family. In her 20′s and 30′s she toured as a belly dancer across America, finding a home in New York City. It amazes me that an Irish American girl from Ohio taught herself Greek, how to dance and sew, and made a career out of it. As she approached 40, she went on to real estate work and had me. I grew up around all these amazing photos of her from her belly dancing career, and it definitely influenced and inspired me to find my own way to the stage. When I made this choice and at every step along the way afterwards, my mother was my biggest fan, attending every show and offering any help she could.

Q: You suffered such tragedy during hurricane Sandy, and it seems like it could have been avoided if the hospital was better equipped to deal with natural disaster. Is part of the motivation behind the film to try and correct this for others going forward?

Aris Ziagos: Yes, that’s exactly what sparked my desire to make this film. The hospital (Bellevue Hospital) where my mother was an ICU patient did not make the necessary modifications to their emergency power systems or infrastructure for a tropical storm or hurricane in preparation for Hurricane Sandy. Worse yet, because the hospital is run by a corporation and the city, they worked in lock step to keep their failing infrastructure out of the news, until the entire hospital was unable to function with doctors unable to wash their hands, medication not reaching patients, toilets not being able to be flushed, no food for anyone. It was an absolute nightmare. We can’t change the past but we can learn from our mistakes by addressing exactly what happened and what could and should be done differently going forward. Anyone who lives in a coastal area should be thinking about ensuring the safety of the vulnerable in emergencies like this.

Q: We hear so often that “it gets better” but that surely doesn’t happen all on it’s own. Where did you find the strength to go on after all of this? What advice would you give to people who are grieving right now?

Aris Ziagos: My biggest motivation has been living in a way that would make my mother proud, and also finding a way to transcend the tragedy and find a way to honor my mother’s legacy of love. Her passing was so tragic, and I got stuck in that for a while in deep depression as could be expected. A big motivator for my life moving forward from that was to make sure my mother was remembered by her amazing spirit, not just by her passing. That’s been the inspiration for a lot of my music, and definitely for bringing this film to the world. The arch of tragedy to grieving to healing to finding purpose is one everyone can take something away from, and it’s one that plays out during the documentary.

Q: Since you have gone public with the story, what responses have you been getting from fans and friends?

Aris Ziagos: Everyone has been very supportive, encouraging and sympathetic. A lot of people were surprised to hear about the events surrounding my mother’s passing, because very little of the information made it to mainstream news. It was a week before the 2012 Presidential elections, local elections, and the entities that hold New York City together were very careful to present the story in a way that would not cause public outrage.

Q: Has anyone from the hospital contacted you since you started the campaign?

Aris Ziagos: No, not a peep. The hospital’s official story is they triumphed through the disaster with no loss of life. In spite of a great deal of independent reporting, and some good mainstream reporting exposing the hospital’s faults, there has been no accountability for the choices made. They have made some improvements to their infrastructure as defense against a future Hurricane Sandy, but we’ll have to see how thorough those defenses are in a future hurricane.

Q: How can people help you to get this story told?

Aris Ziagos: I’m raising funds for the documentary on IndieGogo:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/from-virginia-with-love-a-documentary/x/260537

I’m offering some really cool merch, like vintage photos of my mom’s belly dancing years, original music, tickets to advanced screenings and fun experiences, as well as pre-selling the documentary.

Q: What are some of the greatest lessons your mom taught you that you can share with us all?

Aris Ziagos: So many things! Love can move mountains. Never stop believing in yourself. You can achieve anything if you keep trying and learn from failure. Be of service to others and give back often in different ways.

Q: I know you have other projects you are working on as well. Can you tell us about some of those?

Aris Ziagos: I’m finishing up work on a few new songs and remixes which I’ll be releasing on the deluxe edition of my album “Pulse” in a few months. I’m also excited to finally release my collaboration with Paula Cole as a single in 2018.  It will be a year that will also see me focused on completing this film, and some new music to accompany it. I have a lot of other songs in the works for future releases, so there’s a lot on the horizon for the next 24 months.

Q: Where can we find you, your music, and your projects online?

Aris Ziagos: You can find me on my official site at http://aris.fm

and on social media at -

http://twitter.com/arisziagos

http://youtube.com/arisziagos

http://instagram.com/arisziagos

http://facebook.com/arismusic

Q: Do you think you will be doing more film work in the future? Would you stick to the social good theme or perhaps branch out into other genres?

Aris Ziagos: I can definitely see exploring film more in the future, a short film, more documentary work. I tend to put my heart into things that inspire me that I can get fully passionate about, who knows what the future will bring?

Q: I always ask people to give me one thing they absolutely cannot live without and one thing they wish we could all live without.

Aris Ziagos: CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT IT: MUSIC!

WISH WE COULD LIVE WITHOUT IT: TRUMP!

Q: What’s up next for Aris the artist?

Aris Ziagos: Next up is the deluxe edition of my album “Pulse” and some new singles in 2018!

I want to thank Aris for taking time to talk to me and for being a part of my NYC family. Take my word for it, he’s one of the good ones. Here is the Indiegogo page if you can make a donation:

And, for your enjoyment, here is the video for his song ‘The Music’:

Interview with Sean Cunningham (Friday the 13th Director)

In October I was honored to be part of the San Pedro International Film Festival, where I got to walk and work the red carpet, see some amazing new Indie films, support those filmmakers, and celebrate the industry. One of the two weekends was October 13th to the 15th, which meant we were in attendance for Friday The 13th. This Friday became the horror night, which was the perfect opportunity to show the original Friday the 13th film.

What was even more serendipitous was the fact that Sean Cunningham was in attendance that evening too as a special guest. Mr Cunningham is quite an interesting artists and a pleasure to talk to. I think I learned more in those few hours than I have in a long time about movies, filmmaking, and the industry as a whole. He was also gracious enough to grant me an interview and sit down in front of a camera for a change.

One of the things we talked about was his new project, The Nurse With the Purple Hair, a Social Good film that shows what hospice care is and what it can be. It’s the story of Michelle Lasota who makes the switch from surgical nurse to hospice nurse after the death of her father.

Sean met Michelle at Fan Expo in Toronto, CA, and was captivated by her stories about her hospice work. As filmmakers often do, he turned his interest into a project.

To date, the film has been viewed by focus groups from Vitas Healthcare, Skirball, and Kaiser Permanente. This has been their reactions:

– A catalyst to break through American culture’s denial of death.
– A great tool to bring awareness to what hospice is really about.
– Takes the mystery and fear out of hospice and dying.
– I feel brave, inspired, and honored to start a conversation that matters.
– A true look at a caring hospice nurse and the wonderful qualities of hospice care.

Here is out interview from SPIFFest:

Here is the trailer for The Nurse with the Purple Hair, you can learn more here:

Have You Met Greg Finley?

You may know Greg Finley from his roles on iZombie, The Flash, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, or Star-Crossed (one of my favorites). You may have met him at a convention or two and I’m SURE many of you have a poster of him up in your room. I was lucky enough to be introduced to him recently and couldn’t wait to do a little introduction piece on him!
I really like doing these quick Have You Met pieces, especially when I learn a thing or two about the subject. In the case of Greg Finley, I discovered that we share a love and a dislike (you’ll see later on in the interview) and I was left wanting to talk to him more and go a little deeper. Hopefully, Greg will allow me the opportunity to follow up with a full interview soon too! Even in such a quick interview, I find him fascinating with a little mystery. Read, share, like, and maybe he’ll agree to sit down with me :) .
Now, in case you don’t already know him, let me introduce you to actor and filmmaker Greg Finley:
Q: Growing up in Maine, did you always know you wanted to be an actor? Were there any other professions that interested you?
Greg Finley:  I never wanted to be an actor, I never even thought of it. The reason I became an actor is for a different interview and I won’t bore you with all the details but I went through some things my senior year from 2003 to 2005 that led me to this crazy journey.
Q: You have an impressive acting resume, appearing on many shows we all know and love. How does it feel to be part of iconic shows like The Flash and iZombie?
Greg Finley: Thank you for saying that.  Yeah, it’s really cool to be a part of shows like iZombie and The Flash. I collected comic books as a child and I remember talking to one of my buddies growing up thinking it would be so cool if they did real life action movies and TV shows of comic books. So, to be a part of a couple of them was really neat. Both shows’ casts and crews are really  awesome, down to earth people and I love all those guys so much. It was a blast working with them.
Q: Appearing on shows like these, it gives you a different sort of connection to fans with conventions being so popular. Have you done many yet and what are your thoughts on this new form of interaction?
Greg Finley: Yes, I have done a few conventions, it’s really cool, the fan base for the shows …they are so into so many details of the show and they appreciate it so much and believe me we appreciate all of them! I think the coolest part is going to conventions in other countries, it always trips me out when people know my name or my character’s name from different countries and all over the world. I just love talking to the fans in different areas learning about their cultures and kind of connecting with them .. there’s something kind of cool about that.
Q: What is one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without?
Greg Finley: I cannot live without the ocean. I live on the ocean here in Maine and whenever I don’t smell or hear the ocean for a while I feel trapped. I won’t get too deep with something that we could all live without because there is a lot of things in this world right now that we could all live without so I will just say traffic.. I hate traffic ha!
Q: Where can fans find you on social media?
Greg Finley: The fans can find me on Instagram at @gregfinleyofiicial and on Twitter at @Greg_Finley
Q: Speaking of social media, can you describe yourself using two hashtags?
Greg Finley: I guess if I would describe myself in two hashtags it would be #Goofy #Hungry
Q: What’s up next for Greg Finley? 
Greg Finley: I am currently working on my own script that I developed and trying to get it locally shot here in Maine.
There you have it, Greg Finley loves the ocean and dislikes traffic. Who knew we had so much in common? I don’t know if I’d ever call him Goofy to his face until he described himself as such, haha. He’s also looking to shoot a project in Maine, so get at him! And look for him at a convention near you! 

Onyx Movie promises to leave you questioning your reality

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!

Your 2017 Oscars Nominees

I don’t know about you, but I am super excited that it’s Oscars time again! I’m so happy to be back in LA for it, and thrilled to have been a part of CTV’s ETalk Oscars week! There are so many Canadian actors and talent nominated this year and they truly have some amazing content to share.

Their coverage of the red carpet tonight will be epic. Ben Mulroney is the most gracious, knowledgable person in the business and may I add, he’ll be looking quite sharp out there! I am already missing my new Canadian family but looking forward to my next CTV adventure. 

I figured I’d compile a list of our nominees so in case you haven’t seen them already or you just want to use it to follow along tonight, we have it! Feel free to let me know your thoughts and predictions. Also, you can follow me on twitter @teeco71 and also follow @etalkCTV for all the red carpet fun! 


BEST PICTURE

Arrival

Fences

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

Hidden Figures

La La Land

Lion

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight

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ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge

Ryan Gosling, La La Land

Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic

Denzel Washington, Fences

 

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ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Isabelle Huppert, Elle

Ruth Negga, Loving

Natalie Portman, Jackie

Emma Stone, La La Land

Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

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ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water

Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea

Dev Patel, Lion

Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

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ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Viola Davis, Fences

Naomie Harris, Moonlight

Nicole Kidman, Lion

Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

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ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Kubo and the Two Strings

Moana

My Life as a Zucchini

The Red Turtle

Zootopia

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CINEMATOGRAPHY

Arrival

La La Land

Lion

Moonlight

Silence

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COSTUME DESIGN

Allied

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Florence Foster Jenkins

Jackie

La La Land

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DIRECTING

Arrival

Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight

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DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE)

Fire at Sea

I Am Not Your Negro

Life, Animated

O.J.: Made in America

13th

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DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT)

Extremis

4.1 Miles

Joe’s Violin

Watani: My Homeland

The White Helmets

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FILM EDITING

Arrival

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

La La Land

Moonlight

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FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Land of Mine

A Man Called Ove

The Salesman

Tanna

Toni Erdmann

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MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

A Man Called Ove

Star Trek Beyond

Suicide Squad

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MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

Jackie

La La Land

Lion

Moonlight

Passengers

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MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

“Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from La La Land

Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

“Can’t Stop The Feeling” from Trolls

Music and Lyric by Justin Timberlake, Max Martin and Karl Johan Schuster

“City Of Stars” from La La Land

Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

“The Empty Chair” from Jim: The James Foley Story

Music and Lyric by J. Ralph and Sting

“How Far I’ll Go” from Moana

Music and Lyric by Lin-Manuel Miranda

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PRODUCTION DESIGN

Arrival

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Hail, Caesar!

La La Land

Passengers

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SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)

Blind Vaysha

Borrowed Time

Pear Cider and Cigarettes

Pearl

Piper

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SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

Ennemis Intérieurs

La Femme et le TGV

Silent Nights

Sing

Timecode

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SOUND EDITING

Arrival

Deepwater Horizon

Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land

Sully

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SOUND MIXING

Arrival

Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

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VISUAL EFFECTS

Deepwater Horizon

Doctor Strange

The Jungle Book

Kubo and the Two Strings

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)

Arrival

Fences

Hidden Figures

Lion

Moonlight

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WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

Hell or High Water

La La Land

The Lobster

Manchester by the Sea

20th Century Women