In (belated) Memory of Christiane Riera

I feel very stupid about this because I had no idea that one of my classmates at Yale, Christiane Riera had died of cancer 4 years ago at the quite young age of 44, leaving behind a son and husband in Brazil. (At least I knew she had moved back to Brazil after Yale.).

chris riera I just came across an email about a Facebook post from a few months ago where a theatre in Brazil was named after her. It’s beautiful that someone so young was beloved and had accomplished enough in a relatively short life to be so honored.

So, I just want to honor, late and after the fact, but well deserved with pictures of “her” theatre. christiane-riera-teatro-municipal-in-itajuba-brazil

Obviously the bulk of her theatre, film and TV work was in Brazil, but a very good film she worked on was “The Constant Gardener” which many people should know. Here’s another person’s blog post where she goes through some of the details of Chris’ career and how she gave to her as a writer and person.

christiane-riera-teatro-municipal-in-itajuba-brazil-interior-2

But I also feel so sad because Chris was such a nice person. In the arts, there are always people with egos and insecurities that lead them to do nasty things. She was SO the opposite of that. Kind and generous. I can’t think of a moment in New Haven when she wasn’t so. She had a shared apartment down in NYC and let me stay there, which allowed me to stay so much more connected to the NY art and theatre world while I was in New Haven.

And of course, it’s impossible not to relate her death too young to some other friends who died too young like Vivi Friedman – a talented film director I knew – who also died of cancer in her early 40’s. And friends and relatives who died (and some who survived) of the same disease. And of course, my own mortality and what seems like so little accomplished. And how we fool ourselves that our time is forever but in truth we’re sitting on the ledge of a figurative Grand Canyon. The awesomeness of life is before us, but our balance is always precarious and ephemeral.

So, the one message of it all, however trite it sounds but isn’t trite at all, yes carpe diem but also seize the connections with others just as much. Do it all with love.christiane-riera-teatro-municipal-in-itajuba-brazil-interior-1

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“Limping Towards Babylon” Look Book done – Seeking Qualified Investors now

I’m just days away from being able to approach investors to fund my movie with just a few more technical tasks however the Line Producer has completed the preliminary budget, one liner and DOOD; the LLC is registered and the Look Book is done. (I know it’s the proverbial needle in a haystack, but if anyone has any “qualified investor” leads for me, PLEASE private message me.) Here’s the cover design for the Look Book, designed by Brian Grondahl brother of Jennifer Grondahl Wozniak. I think he did a fabulous job making my content sing. Look Book Cover design by Brian Grondahl

Limping Towards Babylon video for it’s successful Kickstarter (pre-production funding)

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the Music of LIMPING TOWARDS BABYLON

3 days to go in the LIMPING TOWARDS BABYLON kickstarter (Nov. 20)

Therefore, please, please spread the word to your friends directly and on social media.

So, today’s creative update is about the music in the video and what I envision for the film as a whole. So, exactly how did I meet a Grammy Award winning composer?

Grammy Award winning Partch Ensemble.  Alex Wand seated lower left

Grammy Award winning Partch Ensemble. Alex Wand seated lower left

Los Angeles has a reputation for being a shallow, glitzy, materialistic, non-intellectual place. And there are certainly are many examples where the truth of that is as good as gold. But equally true is that LA is a complex city, with veins and pockets of other under-appreciated precious metals and gems.

So on May 5, 2015, at the rather unlikely location of Western and 2nd Street, I went to see a concert of “micro-tuned” guitars at Monk’s Place – from the outside, it looks like a small warehouse amongst, fairly downscale retail shops, and inside, likewise, industrial with exposed brick walls and uncomfortable, plastic white chairs for seating.

  Monk's Space exterior


Monk’s Space exterior

It reminded me of the funky little venues I would go to in the East Village and Brooklyn when I lived in NYC.
Exactly, what is “micro-tuning”? As I understand it, it’s an alternate tuning system of in-between notes rather than the standard system used in Western music, and thus sometimes the notes sound unusual and interesting and sometimes, to my ears at least, flat and unpleasantly “out-of-tune”. So, most of the concert was interesting, but too alienating, and for over an hour, just an intellectual curiosity to me.

And then at the very end, Alex Wand came out with a large ensemble of musicians to perform his song cycle “The Great Hunt” using Carl Sandburg poems as lyrics.

Immediately it was a different experience. I was hearing something both tuneful AND unconventionally micro-tuned, with rhythms that sometimes were smooth and sometimes deliberately jerky and syncopated.

I literally felt the excitement coursing through my body and brain. It was new classical music with inflections of folk, blues and rock lurking in the background that suddenly thrusting forward. I was having the rare experience of a true musical discovery, where I wasn’t just hearing a new song, but a new sound… familiar yet utterly unfamiliar.

Alex Wand (right) composer of Sandburg song cycle at Monk's Place 5-5-15 photo by Erin Barnes

Alex Wand (right) composer of Sandburg song cycle at Monk’s Place 5-5-15 photo by Erin Barnes

(Here’s the link to Alex’s full piece performed at Monk’s Place https://youtu.be/cRzDB_KciHM)

And also, what I was hearing was so, so close to what I imagined the music major character, Marcus (played by Matt Mercer) in my script would be composing, In the screenplay, I have him performing Bach for Amandine, but also later composing a new classical concerto for marimba, violin and guitar, as a way of expressing his feelings for her.

  Matt Mercer as Marcus and Karen Sours as Amandine


Matt Mercer as Marcus and Karen Sours as Amandine

So after the Monk’s Space concert, I bee-lined over to Alex. My enthusiasm and praise must have made enough of a positive impact that when I invited him about a month and half later to sit in on the first full reading of the LIMPING TOWARDS BABYLON script, he not only came by on a Sunday summer afternoon but also was impressed enough by the actors and the script to get on board with the project.

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“Limping Towards Babylon” excerpt – Thomas discovers George has facets…

Here’s an excerpt from the “Limping Towards Babylon”. We shot this scene during the teaser video shoot, but I couldn’t fit it within the time constraints of the teaser.

Limping Towards Babylon excerpt – Thomas discover George has facets from Julius Galacki on Vimeo.

For more go to www.limpingtowardsbabylon.com

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An Excerpt from the opening scene of LIMPING TOWARDS BABYLON

8 days ( !! ) left for the Kickstarter campaign, i.e. Nov. 20, 2015 – go to www.limpingtowardsbabylon.com to pledge

.. so it’s time to go a little deeper into the script. I want you, my supporters, to get a better sense of “E”‘s character as well as the humor in the script.

The teaser video has just a tiny section of the opening scene where Adam interviews Thomas and Marcus for their suitability as roommates. Shortly after that, “E” interrupts the interview:

 Marcus (Matt Mercer) and Thomas (Josh Breslow) being interviewed by Adam

Marcus (Matt Mercer) and Thomas (Josh Breslow) being interviewed by Adam

”E” is really EILEEN SMITH, 23 or 24, in the grad Art and Architecture School, but she goes by “E” and signs her paintings / mixed media Combines as “E. Smythe”.

ADAM: Fine. I withdraw the question.

She speaks as she leans over Adam’s shoulder and starts reading his notes. Then, she turns the page, to read his earlier questions.

 Adam (T.W. Leshner) interviewing Marcus and Thomas

Adam (T.W. Leshner) interviewing Marcus and Thomas

“E”: You’re the two new roommates?

ADAM: “E”, please.

She puts her hand out to shake hands with Marcus and Thomas.

“E”: (To Adam) They look good. I don’t see any serious problems. (To Thomas) Sorry. I didn’t say…

ADAM: No, I haven’t said they’re… Will you please – (let me tell them…)

"E" (Miriam Korn) showing interest in Thomas (Josh Breslow) while Marcus (Matt Mercer)

“E” (Miriam Korn) showing interest in Thomas (Josh Breslow) while Marcus (Matt Mercer)


“E”: I’m “E”.

THOMAS: Thomas.

“E” nods to Marcus.

MARCUS: Marcus.

THOMAS: “E”? Uh, how do you spell that?

“E”: Just the letter. “E”.

THOMAS: Oh. So, like the poet: e.e. cummings?

“E”: No. Not like him. I capitalize my name….

*** **** ***

And finally, here’s a photo of Josh and Matt goofing on me during filming:

Yes, I clearly inspire fear and respect from my actors! LOL

Yes, I clearly inspire fear and respect from my actors! LOL

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