Today, amidst the massacre that is Orlando and the explosive van caught going to LA Pride, I attended my great-grandfather’s funeral in the blistering hot Palm Desert.
Being told and retold stories of the great man that was Leon Lauderbach, passing after a full life at 97, I am reminded of what a good human looks like.
He was a man of great adventure. A boy who supported his family in the Great Depression grew into the man who asked for his High School Sweetheart’s hand in marriage, my great-grandmother Lorraine, and joined the Air Force for WW2.
After 75+ years of faithful marriage and partnership to my great-grandmother, my great-grandfather earned a living in lumber and sold it in 1970 and started a life of adventure and exploration.
In his later years of high school, Amelia Earhart went missing and Charles Lindbergh set the record for fastest flight across country. It’s not hard to see where his obsession for flying came from. He was always flying high in his small planes, if he wasn’t diving off the coast, spending weeks in his Utah cabin with his grandchildren, or visiting a new country. All of this, he was doing well into his seventies, maybe into his eighties.
He was a great man. A family man. The foundation of the Lauderbach’s and, by extension, the Barton’s and the Shaw’s. He is survived by his loving wife, my great-grandmother, and the three generations that have come to know and love his stale jokes and endless enthusiasm.
I never thought a man born on April 1st in 1919 would be a person I will forever compare and aspire to.
Live long and prosper, my family, because Leon Lauderbach the Fifth is resting in peace.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m starting a podcast with my friend and roommate, RIOT WILLIAMZ (@riot_williamz on INSTAGRAM), about movies and television.
We’ve created this podcast to review and critique films and television with our unique perspectives. With his ethnic background and designer’s eye along my insider views of film structure and feminism, we’re hoping to bring a new voice to the film audience.
Follow us @screenrioters on Instagram for updates and notices for when I post the podcasts RIGHT HERE!
In eleven weeks, queer fans of The 100 have completely revolutionized the conversation about about how TV treats its LGBT characters, and they’re showing no signs of slowing down.
I strive to include LGBT elements into my writing, treating them fairly and as respectfully as every other character. I was to normalize diverse sexualities such as gay, lesbian, transgendered, bisexual, and asexual alike and I believe through mainstream media, it can become as common and accepted as heterosexual behavior, romances, and storyplots.
Why do we have to chose between a poorly written gay-plot just to avoid a well-written plot about the torture and eventual death or acceptance of a gay character? Why must the sexuality be the leading force behind ANY movie?
And why must those characters die?
The market for live-action adaptation for anime/manga is building popularity right now. Many sources claim it’s the new Marvel Franchise.
From Paramount/Dreamworks picking up a live-action adapation of GHOST IN THE SHELL with Scarlett Johanssen to the Japan-centered adaptation of ATTACK ON TITAN the high-concept anime franchises have come to Hollywood.
Not to mention the interest of Lionsgate for the NARUTO franchise, Warner Brothers picking up ROBOTECH and BLEACH, and the incredible success of DEATH NOTE‘s turn at live action which has garnered the interest of Netflix enough to take the production from Warner Bros. The cult-classic manga, AKIRA, has been adopted by producer Christopher Nolan for a trilogy.
It’s safe to say these adaptations are in high demand of IP.
But what is missing in this market?
You have the crash-bang-boom of action and science-fiction, blood and gore, horror and temptation of sin — but in a market of such diversity (there is literally something for everyone in manga) it’s ignorant to just take the time and money to invest in one subset when there is an audience in every niche.
My proposal is to get a manga story that has been overlooked because of it’s classic art style and prominent female lead.
Japan has been adapting their own content for years with popular success. It’s not on the same levels and Hollywood blockbusters, but it creates a proven structure of successful adaptation. Ex: Kimi Ni Todoke, Lovely Complex, Haikyuu, High School Debut, and Paradise Kiss. All with female leads cloying for the 14-25 female population.
We’ve seen the popularity of female-driven content . Saying that movies lead by female protagonists don’t make money is just not true anymore. Not when you have a good story and respectable representation.
That is why I bring up KANATA KARA, or FROM FAR AWAY in English.
When NORIKO, a young Japanese school girl, finds herself in a forest from a fantasy book, she has to rely on IZARK, the quiet warrior who keeps her alive in a dangerous, ancient land, even though she doesn’t know the language.
As an audience, we learn about the world and Noriko’s place THROUGH her. It brings us closer to the emotion as we learn secrets of the cities and who’s really the antagonist.
The potential in this IP is more than just a female lead. It could revolutionize the way the “hero” is portrayed, it could bring in audiences that haven’t been offered an outlet for action adventure and a subplot of romance, as compared to a leading plot device, and it could breach the tidal wave of having a woman of color lead a major adventure film.
The story also brings about rediscovering your abilities in a foreign land, learning a language, or accepting who you have always been. Good messages that any age of viewer can relate too. I mean, just look at the Harry Potter franchise.
In a way, it’s a massive action adventure, coming-of-age piece with high-concept fantasy and in the vein of a period piece set in Asia.
Thanks to a few connections in my house, I was invited onto the set of COWGIRL’S STORY, directed by Tim Armstrong and produced/starring Bailee Madison. It was filming in the local area and I wasn’t working that week, SO I decided a few hundred dollars for a few long days as an background extra wasn’t a bad idea.
It turned out to be great. On my Instagram page (@california_dime) you can see more pictures of the production (I can’t really bring my big camera to set, duh) and the fun people who I’ve worked with. They are great, aspiring people who work long hours for work that usually goes unnoticed.
Seriously, try to count how many extras you see in the background of any high school movie. And then count them again. It’s a lot.
I used most of my techniques to get on the good side of the crew, VERY nice people, and for the next few days I was a staple presence on set. I turned out to be so available and just the right height to stand in for the lead actress for camera set-ups.
And that led to the director asking me to read back a line or two for a later scene I could be in.
So! I have a line in a movie premiering next year. Below is the DEADLINE article for anyone interested.
I’m incredibly pleased that I was able to be a part of this movie with all the great people I met and worked with. I hope some day soon I can get back onto set and do a little more than just background.
Hello ladies, gentlemen, and others!
My friend Max (@malibu_max on Instagram — check him out) invited me to Universal Studios and I had never gone. SO! I brought out my rarely-used DSLR, my precious child of a camera, and shot OVER 500 pictures.
By the end of the day, we were both tired and Max wasn’t to jazzed about my picture-taking. Some people tell me I should enjoy the moment instead of taking the picture. I say, I have an entire photo album to look through as an old woman when I can’t remember those moments!
Anyway, if you’re ever in the area, looking for a fun way to spend a few hundred dollars, I suggest Universal Studios. But this is only if you’re not in the Disneyland area. If you’re closer to Disneyland, go to Disneyland. I’m biased sue me. Check the blog for my next Field Trip post on Disneyland, hopefully in June!
BUT, saying that, I still think Universal was a fantastic park.
Just into the gate, we see this breathtaking sculpture depicting a filmmaking team (left). It features the classic director hunched at the front, trying to frame the shot, the director of photography, or cinematographer, in the lift seat focused on the best picture, and the boom operator, pleasantly represented by a woman, holding the boom mic just out of shot.
Luckily, Max and I went on a cloudy Wednesday morning this May which meant there were almost no lines at all. It was beautiful and we got to do everything in the park.
If you haven’t heard, Universal Studios California, the original soundstage, has JUST recently brought the Wonderful World of Harry Potter to the West Coast! I am a HUGE potterhead (RA RA RAVENCLAW) and was absolutely stoked to see the creativity that went into Hogsmeade and Hogwarts.
We started the day VERY early and, like I said, it was overcast so a lot of tourists I guess don’t think things in Los Angeles work if there’s no Sun.
My favorite part of Hogsmeade was not the Boar’s Head, the closest thing to a pub I’ve ever seen in a family fun park, but *drumroll please* HONEYDUKES!
Yes, Honeydukes. The brilliant candy shop with oodles and boodles of bright, eye-catching candies.
The aesthetics did not disappoint. Bright colors. Crisp packaging. High stacks of cylindrical gifting tins. Oh, but the prices.
That bar of chocolate was nearly $6! But I’ll tell you, I didn’t buy it to just eat any old chocolate. I bought it to eat chocolate from Honeydukes.
Aside from Honeydukes you had the casual cover-ups for the gift shops.
My favorite was the Owl Post.
They put a lot of detail into wrapping the packages that guests don’t even interact with. It was such a consistent method of world-building I have to applaud them.
Of course, it’s not Disney-level world building *cough* themed trash cans *cough* BUT it was lovely. And considering all their employees had to wear Hogwarts robes it really added to the experience.
Speaking of experiences, I didn’t even know this was a thing, but there’s a live demonstration/meet&greet at the heart of the Wonderful World.
Two attractions, that I saw, share the stage. So at one time you could have photo ops with the lovely ladies of Beauxbatons or stand manly beside the lads of Durmstrang. While at another time you could be treated to a lovely acapella by the Toad Choir. I love to sing, so I was glued to the spot for almost ten minutes and poor “Max the Gentleman” stood beside me in a brief stint of boredom.
It’s great. There’s a cheery Gryffindor choir leader who’s all smiles and spirit, along with another Gryffindor who’s constantly beat-boxing. I don’t know if he does anything else. A Slytherin girl and a Hufflepuff girl that contributed soprano beats to the tune, and the Ravenclaw boy that stood out and showboated. Ra Ra Ravenclaw. He was dancing and singing modern song styles into Hogwarts-themed lyrics. REALLY playing the crowd and I was ALL for it.
And they were all doing this holding enormous toad puppets on pillows. It was beautiful. Charming. 10/10 would watch it for hours.
There were restaurants EVERYWHERE in the park, and at least three in this specific attraction. All well-decorated and themed. One of the tellers even commented on my Muggle money. Ha!
Now, you’re probably thinking “Brie, did they have Butterbeer?” OF COURSE THEY HAD BUTTERBEER! They have it on every corner! You can get it regular, like a soda, or frozen, like an icee.
There are two big attractions in the Wonderful World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade and Hogwarts. Hogsmeade is just a place to pick up robes, butterbeer, wands, owl puppets, books, all that jazz. But Hogwarts is this long, eventful, beautifully crafted replica of the castle and a simulated flight on an enchanted bench that lets us Muggles fly with Harry Potter to the Quidditch pitch.
You can argue that The Flight of the Hippogriff is also an attraction.
But it’s only thirty seconds long and not the most thrilling ride in the park (we’re letting Jurassic Park get that one, I’ll explain in a second) but it’s also lovely with juniper trees planted along the lines. I just want to give it up to whoever keeps these evergreen ever green because those aren’t native to Los Angeles, or Florida really, and it probably takes a lot of work.
But anyway, as I said, Max and I went on a really good day. No. Lines. We didn’t even have to upgrade to the Front of the Line pass because a five minute wait wasn’t bad at all. The wait wasn’t even as long as walking through the maze that would soon hold the summer crowds.
It was well-crafted on the inside and out, but no moving staircases as I hoped. But that’s more for the safety of the guests. There were holograms, bits of information planted in the guest’s brains so we can relive it on the ride, and a lot of scene dressing.
You’re put on this bench and then flipped onto your back for the ride.
So, I’m afraid of spiders. And this ride relies HEAVILY on the world of the first book for set up and recall, but also some things like Dragons and Dementors in the later ones, but still, Chamber of Secrets is a heavy influence.
So what does the first book have so many of?
That’s right. Spiders.
Universal has this new trick on rides. They drip or spray water onto the guests to enhance the experience, but when a spider the size of a fat baby flashes out of nowhere and water drips on you FROM ITS MOUTH some people, like twenty-something bloggers, scream. It wasn’t a long, blood-curdling scream, but a scream nonetheless.
We went on the ride twice, once as the first ride and once as the last ride of the day, because it was so rich in world building. I highly suggest making a beeline for this ride if you come in the summer because there is like a mile of line corrals and I’m sure they use them.
I wasn’t prepared for the prices of the massive amounts of awesome stuff I wanted, so Max and I vowed to return with more Muggle money to dress ourselves appropriately.
After that, we looked around a little before deciding a path.
Around the park are sections that look vaguely like parts of Europe. There was London, France, and Italy from what looked like 1920-1940. Most had themed restaurants, a piece of 1930’s Brooklyn had a candy shop, but not the candy I was hoping.
(There’s a candy shop in Glendale I’m going to add to a field trip post, so stayed tuned)
There was stuff like an Irish pub or a French cafe, but shops for pizza and hotdogs were serving the many common-taste folk. I think those spots were just to give you an idea of what Universal could do visually. And it could do a lot. The Studio Tour, which I’ll get to, was the grand finale of set dressing.
We passed over the Despicable Me area of the park, but did ride the Minion ride. It was jostling, but the intro was really long. The ride was good. Short, but good. It’s good for kids and people who want to be emotionally involved with a park ride.
What I think is the star of Universal is Springfield.
Springfield was enormous, consistent in the theme of Springfield (except the pile of burning tires) and, the best part, there were screens hoisted around everywhere playing selected clips of The Simpsons.
In the guise of Krustyland, we waited the longest time, maybe ten minutes, to get onto a ride that STRICTLY prohibited photography. But I took a photo.
A really creepy photo.
The ride was probably one of my favorites. It’s not the classic animation, it’s more 3-D, but it’s long, creative, funny, and exciting. 10/10 would ride again.
Springfield is where we stopped for lunch. Overpriced hotdogs, pizzas, chips, waters, etc. I chose an overpriced hotdog, but it was what I was expecting. I pity the people who don’t think amusement parks, based solely on the principal of consumerism, would believe in fairly priced food and snacks. Have you BEEN to a movie theater? It’s the same idea.
BUT! One thing I would suggest everyone get would be a Lard Lad donut.
Enormous, fluffy, sugar-filled and icing covered Classic Homer Simpson donut. I regret things in life. Alas, this donut wasn’t one of them.
Max and I had a hard time eating just ONE by ourselves.
But we did.
We moved onto the Studio Tour because HELLO a tour of the Universal Studio lot was like seeing a hooker. You pay to see it, but if you don’t, you still see it. Just, without knowing.
I didn’t know what to expect. It was a tour, and all the tours I’ve seen of backlots in movies were fat people trollied around hot asphalt with sound stages, led by a lackluster tour guide.
That was not the case.
I was very excited for the tour because, as you might know, I’m trying to break in and become a television writer. NBC owns Universal Studios, which is majorly a feature company, BUT the television studio isn’t doing too bad either. Of course, their television success can’t really be compared to the stunning profit of King Kong, ET, Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, Fast and the Furious, Despicable Me, or Transformers, they’re trying to make an impact. They have the Voice. That’s cool. I guess.
But it’s not the content I was psyched about. It was the sound stages and backlots and the film history. The tour guide, Kevin (upper left), was very well-informed and practiced with a pleasant humor.
When I first arrived at the park, a representative asked me to take a survey in exchange for a front-line pass to the studio tour. The wait was half and hour, but we were jettisoned to the back of the very front trolly in a second. Really, it worked out great.
So Kevin and the driver, Dean, took us on a forty minute tour of the soundstage and backlots.
We saw sets built for Whoville, Back to the Future, and basic big city streets for action and special effects that can’t be filmed around the public.
It’s really all brilliant. They went from the Big Apple replica to Small Town USA dressed for principal photography of some unaired pilot.
Other historically significant movie sets have been set aside and preserved, as well as cars displayed for the tours.
The plane wreckage from War of the Worlds, the motel from Psycho, and cars from Fast and the Furious to Biff’s car in Back to the Future 2 and even the dune buggy from Jurassic World.
I didn’t exactly know this going in, but Universal LOVES using their special effects. I should have suspected when they have a complete show of just special effects demonstrated for the guests. Which we saw and loved. They set a guy on fire.
The lagoon from the Creature of the Black Lagoon was still in the backlot, as well as the miniature boat used in the classic King Kong: still tied up and bobbing.
The set for JAWS was the most popular and demonstrative spot on the tour. They had the classic billboard, the shark and the chance to show their pyrotechnics. Oh. And their other shark.
After the Studio Tour, and another two stints at demonstrating their pyrotechnics and special effects techniques, we moved onto Jurassic Park.
After the hit of Jurassic World, the park was nearly reinvented with the streams of youngsters falling in love with dinosaurs in a whole different way than myself.
The original trilogy of Jurassic Park didn’t bring in raptors as beloved pets/family. They were RAPTORS and they KILLED YOU. You didn’t NAME them. But it was cute. And…
You get some cutie with a bootie taming “Tango” the huge raptor.
Aside from the Raptor Encounter, the section was very lively.
For children, they had Dino Play and, since I’m not a child, I don’t know what they do in there.
BUT! I do know their water ride, or just the Jurassic Park ride, was great. It was the most exhilarating in the park. The use of water-spitting dinosaurs catches you off-guard, but that’s the point! It’s a water ride! They sell ponchos right before you get on!
My favorite part about it though, was the form of the ride. It starts slow, and in the circumstance that you are a guest at Jurassic Park calmly taking a boat ride through the river with the herbivores, but then you take “a wrong turn” and you see the tell-tale signs of danger. Broken wires, bent fences, the crow of a T-Rex in the distance.
When you’re in the tunnel, that’s when the dinosaurs come out of nowhere! They come down from holes in the ceiling or behind machines and scream at you or spit more water, you don’t know! And the T-Rex you can almost touch as it dips down at you. RAWR. And then the drop and I didn’t have enough scream in me to scream as much as I wanted! It took the breath out of me. I haven’t been on a ride like that in a long time. Whooo. Ironically, Max got really, and I mean REALLY, wet when we hit the water at the bottom. I didn’t. Not even a splash. Ha!
We stopped by the Mummy ride. It’s not long, at all, but it jerks you are like nothing else! The holograms could use an upgrade and I’m always for making rides longer, especially when you have a rich world to build it around.
Transformers I think had the longest ride. I didn’t time it, but they take you through the storyline of “evacuating” or something, I wasn’t paying attention. But you’re riding a Transformer and trying to save the All Spark from Megatron. There’s a lot of jostling and jolting, skidding and turning around. I liked it enough.
By the time we got done with the lower lot, it was already close to 4:00 so we went to watch Shrek 4-D and then the Special Effects show. My camera died about here, so I don’t have anymore pictures.
I will tell you though, Shrek 4-D is okay. It’s 4-D because it gives you the 3-D glasses but also blows cold air on your neck directly from the chair when Ghost Farquad shows up, or when spiders come out at you SOMETHING HITS YOUR ANKLES like the spiders ARE ON YOU and I was not appreciative of that.
The Special Effects demonstration wasn’t anything new to me. I knew the vague principals, I knew matte painting, they didn’t even cover double exposure (I admit they would have to explain more about the chemistry behind celluloid than anything else), I knew about the flight wires and stunt men, of plywood set dressing and the assist of the foley artists. It was still a hoot to see it live.
Thank you for making it this far, if you haven’t gotten bored and changed blogs. My day at Universal was AMAZING and I’ll definitely be going back, but not before I go to Disneyland. I’ll be sure to bring a backup battery.
Follow me on Instagram @california.dime to see my field trips update live or if you just want to see a little bit more of intimate LA!
Have a great day!