Saturday, September 17, 2016

Movie: XOXO

Netflix, the life saving app that has gotten many a teen through hours and hours of homework.
Xoxo is netflix's first jump into content for a teen/college audience. A smart move given how many of their users are between the ages of 13-22.  However, I would not readily recommend this movie to anyone below 15 or 16.

Sadly this is one of netflix's more underwhelming film ventures.
While the film is beautiful shot and full of many attractive young tv stars the film lacks a hook.
I think the biggest problem with the film was a lack of any underlining point or point of view on the rave going experience.
There was no commentary on todays world or the people. The main characters all felt like copy and pasted people from the 'teen' movies of the last 20 years.
At many points I felt like the characters ( and actors) were out shown by random festival goers or  minor supporting characters.
The scene stealers of film would have to go to Hailey Kyloko and Ian Anthony Dale, and the one random bouncer who said what we were all thinking.
Those actors made the most out of what they had been given.

Director Christopher Louie  show lots of potential for his future films if he can find away to deepen his screenwriting. His clever use of time and savvy rule bending prove he could be a force to reckon with down the line ( if he plays his cards right).
The film was beautiful shot, making the most of their red cameras, locations, and light kit. These visuals help keep the audience watching through the more cliche moments or the gross drug haze.

However for netflix I think this film should count as an outstanding loss. It will do little down the line to inspire hope in their younger subscribers.  Luckily they have a wide array of original content to soften the blow.

Stars. ** 2.5 
Netflix Orignal 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Interview: Noelle Cope ( A daydreamerS post )

Hello readers!
Today I had the pleasure of interviewing a young filmmaker - just 18 years old, writer and advide YA reader.

I first found out about Noelle Cope through a blog post on the WriteGirl website.
On whim I typed her name into google to see if I could find her personal blog - where the post had originally been published.
On her blog I learned she was an aspiring filmmaker, I of course had to contact her. I also found about that she had been written about in a previous daydreamerN post for a documentary she is making.

However I decided to talk to Noelle about her latest project and first venture into narrative filmmaking.  A short film she is directing and staring in called Subversion.

DS: Where is the film at right now?

Noelle Cope: Right now it is in post production. I'm in the middle of dealing festival submissions. It's really kinda crazy when I look back on it all.  I still can't believe it.

DS: What are some of the moments that stand out the most when you look back?

Noelle : There are so many. The casting process was a huge one. In many ways it went really smoothly and in others it was not so smooth.

DS: Please explain?

Noelle : It went really smoothly because we found our top choices really early on. The moment Yasmine ( the shorts actress/producer and script writer), and I saw them we knew we has our people. The really great thing about it was that they might not have been what we pictured in our heads, but they blew us away. I could care less if they fit the "look". They got the character and read the lines in away no one else had.
But the main problem was we scheduled like 49 actors and only 20 showed up.

DS: Why do you think that is?

Noelle: I'm not very well known. and most actors aren't about to google me. The fact of the matter is they think if you are making a short you are not serious.
So if a bigger audition comes along or traffic is too thick they just bail.

The one bit of advice I'd give is to trust your gut when you schedule actors. Every actor I doubted or had a bad feeling about I was right.

DS: How so ?

Noelle:One thing to be aware of is how young all of us are.  For a lot of people that would right away be a huge negative. There are a lot of young filmmakers out there that mistreat actors. Leaving actors rather turned off to younger filmmakers.
I also could tell by what system the actors used to submit how serious they where.

DS: Being an actress how was it watching the auditions?

Noelle: Good and bad.  I've been the reader at an audition You learn a lot about what makes an actor stand out.  You have a couple of seconds grab our attention. After the third line you find yourself spacing out by the time the third or fourth actor reads the scene.

But the biggest factor was how well they took direction. Ramona ( Young) and Zac ( Zachary Reeve Davidson) completely changed their performance. The truth was they came in really strong to start and then we well... we turned the scene on its head to see how they handled it.
The best thing that Ramona did was slip up on one line. She slipped back into her old way of saying it, but she caught herself and then committed to the change. seeing that she could be so self aware without ever letting the viewer catch on. That sold me on her as an actress.

DS: So taking direction is huge part of an audition?

Noelle:It's the make or break factor. Who cares how nervous you are. If you can take the direction we now know that we can work with you. Bottom line.
Another thing that Ramona and Zac had was winning personalities. They came in where polite. And they didn't seem to care about our age.
Ramona while quiet and a little shy seeming, seemed excited.

DS: So after casting what was the next step?

Noelle:Lots and lots prep. Fixing the script, working on getting all the little stuff like props together. And also getting the crew together.
We did a rehearsal that went amazing. Much to my delighted surprise Zachary and Ramona have a natural talent for improv. Which was a true blessing.

DS: What is one major tip you would give other filmmakers?

Noelle: Don't be afraid to ask for help and favors from other people. But do everything in your power to respect them and play them back in anyway you can.
I'm very lucky that my mom is an amazing cook and was willing to cook for us. The higher quality the food the happier the cast and crew. Things like snacks,lemonade, teas, coffee and warm meals when possible go a long way. Also treat everyone with respect. Even if things aren't going prefect or according to plan.

As a filmmaker just like a human being we should always treat people the way we want to be treated.
Filmmaking is a job. You need to always keep that in mind when dealing with people.

DS: So when can we all see the film? 
Noelle: Right now we are submitting it to festivals. The website and Facebook and tumblr  page will keep everyone updated on upcoming screens and such.

Tumblr page  Facebook Page

Sunday, March 29, 2015


Philippa Gregory. Almost any fan of Historical fiction is familiar with her name. Most famous among teens for the film based off of her novel of the same title The Other Boleyn Girl that stared Natalie Portman.
After seeing the movie Other Boleyn Girl, I was very interested in Philippa Gregory's writing. While the Other Boleyn Girl wasn't my kinda book I found Changeling to be more up my alley.
However much I did enjoy this it did little to thrill me.

The stand feature of the book for me was the way it dealt with the  religion. Religion is always a tough subject to tackle due to its highly personal nature. Which is why it is important to note that I am not a religion person however I did really enjoy the story. I found it very interesting and was handled very well. I think that anyone of any religion would find the book interesting and insightful.
Another part of the book that I did enjoy was the historical aspects of the book. While I can not vouch for how actuate it is to history.
There was only two stand out issues for me in the book. One was the love story. While I'm pleased with the way it was handled through out the book at points I found my eyes rolling skyward.
By the love story aside I was pretty pleased with the characters. I understand that this is the first book in a series so I will go easier on the characters than I would if this was a stand alone.
Over all an enjoyable read if you can look past it's blemishes. Fans of historical fiction however will not be let down.

( YA- 13 and up)
Stars: * * * 3.4

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Movie: Ask Me Anything

Having read the book Undiscovered Gyrl over the summer I was really looking forward to seeing the movie and to see how the film tackles many of the issues that the book handles.
I have to say that while I liked the book this is a case where I liked the movie better.  Which was really surprise me. 
The first 30 minutes of the movie were a little iffy. I found myself facing a bit of a learning curve with Katie. Brit Robinson ( who won Best Actress at the Nashville Film Festival for her performance in this film) is an actress I have been a fan of since  the Disney Channel movie Avalon High, seemed to have a bit of a hard time finding her footing in the start of the movie. Almost like she couldn't find the core of the character. She always standing very funny and also her behavior seemed to lack realism at times.This might have been part of her plan however it did little to pull me into the film. After those first 30 minutes she steadily seemed to shed this part of the character, and therefor became more relatable and believable.  I think that one of her finest moments was when she was seeking wisdom from Martin Sheen. Another when she was talking on the phone with her friend Joel's mother. Even after the movie was over I found myself thinking about those scenes. They really stayed with me as I'm sure it will stay with many audience members.
The supporting cast also did a wonderful job. Most notable of them being Martin Sheen and  Justin Long. Both gave very real performances that added a nice layer to the movie. 
However I think that the real star of the film was the music. Normally it is so hard to find a film with music that was so well tailored to not only the character but the style and pace of the movie as well.  by the end of the film I found myself wanting the Ask Me Anything soundtrack. Interestingly enough  entire soundtrack is made up of songs submitted to a contest via Craig's List.  The songs had to be written and performed by a female, 21 years old and younger. Undiscovered girls you could say.
The soundtrack very rightfully won best music at the Nashville Film Festival.

On the behind the scenes side  of things, I was very impressed by the over all quality of the film, given it's tight budget. 
Whoever made the call not to have the film play into all of those blogger cliches was brilliant.
I had been fearful that the movie would done like a series of blog post.
But thankfully it was not. While that style worked for the book it would have created a far to great disconnect in the movie. The only thing that fell short on that side was the flash backs. To me it was too over the top.  rather than pulling me into Katie's past it had me losing interested in her back story. 

A highlight of the film was the ending for me.  And while I can't talk about it as both a fan of the book and movie it was wonderful. Above and beyond what I had hoped for.

(UN-  However the film does contain brief nudity,and langue) 

Stars: * * * 3.6

The film can be rented from, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, On demand, direcTV, AT&T  Xbox, Sony, Verizon, and many more.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Interview : Allison Burnett

Hello readers! I got the wonderful chance to interview author, screenwriter and now film director Allison Burnett. It was wonderful to get to ask him some questions about his book Undiscovered Gyrl which Allison adapted into the film Ask Me Anything. 

How did you first come up with the idea of Undiscovered Gyrl?

In 2007, the Writers Guild of America went on strike.  Every morning I would walk the picket line with my colleagues and we would lament the fact that we were under strict instructions from our union to stop writing.  Since I had already published two novels, I wondered if I might take advantage of this downtime from screenwriting to write another novel.  When I sat down in the cold dark one morning I heard the voice of Katie Kampenfelt.  She was based on many girls, some of whom were bloggers whose work I had stumbled upon while promoting an earlier novel.

How was writing about/from a teenage girl’s point of view different from your other work?

Whenever a novelist tells a story in the first person he is taking a huge gamble. If the narrator's voice is not pitch perfect, then he or she has nothing.  The book is worthless.  The whole time I was writing I was aware that I was on a high wire and if I did not get it right I would fall to my death.  When the book finally came out, it sold well among teenage girls (even though it was written for adults.)  Only once in all these years since did I receive an email from a reader telling me that Katie did not ring true to them.  It was from a middle-aged man!  Three of my other novels are narrated by a tall, fat,  bald, chemically imbalanced, gay alcoholic.   In other words, I am comfortable channeling voices unlike my own. 

What was it like take transform your novel into a screenplay?

Remarkably easy, because I had let two years pass.  This gave me the objectivity I needed to make the million tiny decisions of what to keep and what to cut.

Did writing the screenplay reveal things about Katie or her story that you hadn’t been aware of before?

Not really, but making the movie did.  Putting a body onto the voice changed everything.  In the book, Katie's language is what draws the reader in -- her wit, charm, and open, buoyant spirit -- but in the movie, there is a flesh-and-blood human before us whose actions must resonate for the viewer.  It is her behavior not merely her language that must engage us, and the tiniest gesture can speak a thousand words.  

What was the most challenging thing about making the movie?

Because we shared our lead actress, Britt Robertson, with another film whose schedule had been disrupted by Hurricane Sandy, we were forced to shoot for five days in October, six in November, five in December, and six in January.  This was brutally difficult and stressful.  I wouldn't wish uncertainty like this on my worse enemy.

What was one of your favorite moments while shooting?

The one that makes me smile every time I think of it was when the wonderful Max Carver was filming a hot-and-heavy love scene with Britt.  I am pretty meticulous about what I want in any given scene, so I found myself in the corner telling Max exactly how I wanted him to orgasm.  It was hilarious for both of us.

What do you hope audiences take away from Katie’s story?

A few things:  I want everyone to understand that what we read on-line is no more real than what we read in a novel.  The internet is a fictive medium.  Everyone is self-dramatizing, self-protecting, self promoting, and self-deceiving.  Also, I hope Katie's story will serve as a cautionary tale to those who avoid the journey inward by venturing out recklessly in search of love.  But, most important, I hope they think of Katie with love and affection, accepting her for all her myriad flaws.

What is next for you?

I want to direct my own adaptation of a wonderful novel called Inside Out Girl, by Tish Cohen.  A fabulous story with a gigantic heart.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

The Impossible Hope

The impossible hope.
No, this is not a book. This is not a film.  It is a feeling inside many girls in the Chicago area right now.  Chicago native Caelin had always wanted to do something to help change the world around her. Something to help make the future brighter. There was only one catch, she had no idea what it was she could do. 
When Caelin watched the kickstarter video for Keep It Safe ( a documentary film about people taking action to end climate change), she was so inspired by the video that she took action.
Caelin started sending out emails to friends and family asking them to watch the video and pass it on. But she felt that still wasn't enough. She knew she could do more.  Then a wonderful idea popped into her head.  So the next day she went to the school counselor and pitched the idea of a bake sale to raise money for the film. She was very worried that the counselor would not share her views on why it is so important to raise money for a film about climate action. Much to Caelin's surprise the counselor loved the idea. After that Caelin was off and running. Literally. 
She was telling everyone she could about the film and the bake sale.
To adults is might not seem like any big deal. But for a high school student it is. Emailing and texting everyone you know asking them for their support is not something easy for most adults much less so for teenagers who tend to fret about every word. In the world of high school sending the wrong text message could lose you most of your friends. And lets not forget going to the counselor.
Going to the school conniving them to hold a bake sale takes a great deal of determination.  Something that many even many crowdsourcing campaigners wouldn't do.
If that wasn't enough she now has the photography club on board to make signs and posters for the bake sale all inspired by what she saw in the video. I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Caelin via email.  
From left to right, Molly, Caelin, Matea,Taylor

The first thing I asked was for her to walk me through her day and a little about her fellow students who are helping her. 
"When I walked into the consular office, I was nervous and excited at the same time. I first mentioned the email that my mom had sent her a few days ago, then went right into the kickstarter video. When I saw her pause for a minute, I got nervous once again, but soon relieved when her face lit up with happiness and excitement too. She loved the idea! She said that I should talk to the Dean of Students. I did and he loved the idea as well. So I went around talking to kids and asking for their email addresses to send them the link. That's when I ran into a girl named Matea. We were messing around before english class when I brought up the subject. She was messing with me and saying that she would have done better, and before the bell rang, she then said that it was a big thing for me to be doing. She wanted to know more. She caught on and jumped in. We talk about ways to make this more out in the open. Molly, on the other hand, doesn't believe in climate change, but is still helping and backing me up. She helps with spreading the word and supports me through it all. She has always been one of my best friends. With Molly, I know that this will get out even farther. Taylor. She - the one that told me to go and talk to the consular -is great for support. I listen to her when there is something huge on the line like this video and project. She is also helping spread the word. These girls want to get on board to help me and support this cause even if Molly doesn't believe in it. They know its huge for me, and the environment is at risk. Who wants our oceans to rise 23 ft any way? Not me, or them."
US History teacher joining in

I asked Caelin why she is so passionate about this project. 

"This means a lot to me personally because I love nature and looking at what climate change is doing to this beautiful planet is devastating. I want to see something done about it. something to help make everything better and not have anything more extreme to worry about in the future. This film is helping people become away with what is happening around us and that we need to do something about it and do it now. This film is expressing how people feel about this and how our own stories take part in it. It helps people become aware for the dangers to come."

The Keep It Safe kickstarter has a much better chance for success with Caelin on board. When told that the filmmakers behind Keep It Safe can't believe the work she Caelin shrugs and says "Believe what? I will help for a good cause. I will at least try. I want the film to reach it's goal. $1 dollar could help the world take action now The team immediately asked her to become an associate producer.

I asked how she feels about her role in the project overall.
My mom say I will be let down in the end because the film won't get funding, but I know what I'm doing is a good thing.

Thanks to all of the work she and her friends are putting in to raise money, the filmmakers have decided that if the film gets funded they will go and interview the girls.

Noelle Cope the films  co-director ( who is only 17 herself) said, Some of the kids from the photography club are going to get stills and video of the bake sale and other parts of the fund raising process.  Which will not only be a great addition to the film but also make for wonderful behind the scenes.
It's wonderful because they are putting presser on me to do even more. Not only to get the film funded but to make it the final cut something they will be proud of.The thought of letting them down is terrifying. For me, the film is all about people doing what they can. It's about showing the world and it's leaders that we care about climate change. That we will join together. That's why kickstarter works so well for us. It's all about people coming together to make things happen. People coming together to make the film happen. Caelin and all of her friends are a fanatic way of showing the world that 'young' people won't back down.

And that is just what Caelin and her friends are showing the world.

You can help Caelin and her friends achieve their goal by pledging to film HERE. " Every dollar counts. We can do a lot. But we can't do it alone" Caelin says.
Funding for the film closes at 8:55 AM PDT Friday, September 19.

**I will continue to post updates and more information about the school fund raiser as things move along.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Book: Undiscovered Gyrl

When I first read the plot of the book I was very interest from the go. A book about a girl that blogs naturally peeks my interest.
However this book was not what I was expecting it to be at all. This book was dark, edgy and at time heartbreaking.
Because the book is Katie's blog post we slowly learn about her through her own words. So in-between the posts about her daily life, her drunken post, we learn about Katie's past. Through Katie's blog we get to know her friends, drunken father, and her lovers. Reading this book really makes you rethink all of those people you follow on Tumblr.  More than once you find yourself wondering how well you can really know someone on the internet.
Do we 'Befriend" the people we follow online the someway that we do characters in books? It's an answer that each reader has to find for themselves.
Now to have the book written by an older man made it very interesting.
This book however was the anti-John Green. Were John Green fights to write teenagers as deep,thoughtful people NOT just teenagers. Allison Burnett however a few too many times for my liking gives into stereo-typed teenage attitude. The kind that is hard to believe, and is draining for the reader because it is boring and unrealistic.
Aside from that the book offers readers the interesting battle of having to decode Katie's blog and try to figure out what is coming next.
Over all a very interesting read with an ending you'll never see coming. And I'm super excited to see the movie!

The film adaption now titled Ask Me Anything is coming out on the 16th of December in select theaters and VOD platforms.

( YA - 15 and up)
Stars: * * * 

Friday, April 04, 2014

Book: Best Friends ( Until Someone Better Comes Along)

This book grabbed me right away with its title. It sounded like something I had not read in a while.
First off the book is fun but a little over the top which is the only real down fall of the book. The main character was so over the top and such a brat that I found myself losing interest in her at many points through out the book.  I myself have a hard time when it's the main character in books for younger readers that are so... well mean brats seems to be the only way to sum this up. So much so that I almost stopped reading the book twice because I could not take it.
But I do have to say once the karma started to kick in the book got really good.  Say whatever you like about me but i love it when the nasty people get what is coming to them.  I mean that there is some really nasty things that Izzy does in the book and she should get kicked in the pants. I really hope that people read this book and learn how to be good friends and that friends don't say mean things to each and are still honest. I did however really come to like the book by the end. It had a lot heart and a good message to it. It also did not play out way I would have thought. Which was really nice. Over the pretty good and I could see a lot of the young teens or tweens having a lot of fun reading it.

( Kids -11 and up )
Stars: * * * 3.4


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