Monday, April 20, 2009

Zach Spencer

I stumbled across Zach Spencer on MySpace and absolutely fell in love with his song, "Letting You In!" Well Zach has a new EP out and it is just as heartfelt and moving as his earlier efforts. Open for Discussion had a chance to chat with Zach and ask a few questions.

O.D. What have you been up to and what are you working on now?
Z.S. I recently released a five song EP.

O.D. How did you get started in music?
Z.S. I grew up in a small town with a population of about three -thousand people. We had two stop lights and a bunch of corn. Both of my parents played in a band. My dad sings and plays guitar and my mother played the tambourine. My father still plays in a band called "Geezer."

O.D. What was your first album purchase?
Z.S. Boyz II Men.

O.D. What is your favorite song on the new album?
Z.S. "Change is Coming."

O.D. What do you know now that you wished you knew when you first started?
Z.S. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Follow your instincts.

O.D. Any regrets?
Z.S. No regrets! It's all a journey. You should have fun as you're learning.

O.D. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Z.S. Hopefully I can convince someone to let me do this for a living. I'd love to still live in Nashville and tour.

O.D. Any hints you can pass along to aspiring musicians?
Z.S. Believe in yourself. Learn from others. Be humble.

O.D. Do you do any touring?
Z.S. Nashville mostly. I hope to go on tour this summer!

O.D. Any battle scars?
Z.S. I was playing a gig in St. Louis and the stage was wet. The cords weren't taped down. I fell on my ass. That was one of the first bands I played with back in high school.

O.D. Do you have a favorite venue?
Z.S. I love to play at Rutledge in Nashville. The sound guys are great! Busch Stadium would be the ultimate!

O.D. If they asked you to do the National Anthem would you do it?
Z.S. That would be awesome!

O.D. Is there anyone you'd like to meet?
Z.S. Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, and Tom Petty! They seem to transcend through time. I'd love to write a song with them!O.D. Do you have a routine when coming up with new material?
Z.S. I started when I was fifteen. It's different everytime. It randomly pops in my head. If I'm driving down the road I try to record it on my phone.

O.D. Do you have any hobbies?
Z.S. I love sports. I'm a Cardinals and Titans fan.

O.D. Do you have a day job?
Z.S. I work in a hotel to pay the bills.

I'm sure we will be hearing more from this twenty-four year old from Nashville! If you'd like to check him out, he's on MySpace! You can also find his album, "When I Found You," on Itunes and his online store.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Cake Eaters

I saw "The Cake Eaters" at the Austin Film Festival in 2007. I absolutely loved this film. Open for Disucussion had a chance to catch up with Jayce Bartok (the writer and actor of the film). I asked him a few questions.

What transpired between the festival circuit and the theatrical release of "The Cake Eaters?"

We basically played every festival under the sun, and had a great time and watched the film play really well in front of audiences, but were frustrated about the opportunities for distribution for "The Cake Eaters" after a year and a half since it’s premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Mary Stuart and the producers recut the film, and it had started to win some great awards, but it was the massive success of Twilight starring Kristen Stewart (who plays Georgia so wonderfully in "The Cake Eaters") that began the resurrection of the film.

Jesse Scolaro (producer 7th floor) & Jayce Bartok

What's the meaning behind your title?

The Cake Eaters is a term I grew up with in Pennsylvania. My mom used to use it to describe those who had it made, had their lives mapped out for them, where the most likely to succeed…"The Cake Eaters." I thought it was an interesting metaphor for this group of misfits who begin the story searching and longing for love, trying to overcome grief, and through the course of the story…find their “cake”. They find some love, happiness, peace… The title gets a lot of questions, it’s pretty controversial…and unforgettable.

What have you been up to and what are you working on now?

My company with my wife, Tiffany – Vinyl Foote Productions - has three projects in development. The most recent is a project I wrote called "Red River," which I am directing. Check out It’s a true crime story about these strange drownings in the Mississippi River around Wisconsin. The film revolves around this super normal family – the Casey family. The dynamic and characters have a real Cake Eaters feel, but there’s this huge twist and darkness underneath the surface. The Casey family is connected to the murders.

Vinyl Foote is also working on "Tiny Dancer," a film about a ballerina struggling to get back into the company directed by Jackson Gay and Dream Country. It's based on the best selling novel by Luanne Rice, directed by Will Geiger and starring Bill Pullman.

What's it like to work with Mary Stuart?

Mary Stuart and I had a really amazing time working together. We both pushed each other to find the best in the story. She is wonderful with actors, of course. And she cares. Which is SO rare.

How long did it take you to write the script and do you have a routine?

The Cake Eaters was started in the end of 2003. The first draft took a month or so. It was my first script so, boy did it change! I think we shot the 21st draft. I always feel the script starts to take shape around the 3-5th draft.
My routine is pretty simple – I try to dodge writing as long as possible. I will do anything not to start. But then when I do, it’s like a fever. Then it’s done, whether it’s a rewrite or first draft. And then I try everything I can to not write again.

Aaron Stanford & Kristen Stewart

Proudest moment (any not just on Cake Eaters)?

Well, we are expecting our first child any day now….so I think that will take the Cake (yes, a pun was intended).

Any regrets?

Of course, I wish I had started writing movies when I was in my early twenties, instead of mid-thirties. But alas, I probably wouldn’t have had anything to write about.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started out?

Not to freak out during the rewriting process. It’s still hard not to when you get tons of notes from a director or producer or friend, even. Writing really is rewriting. It sucks, but it’s also just paper, y’know. Best to get it right before you shoot it.

What motivates you?

The love of cinema. I love movies. I love characters, and stories. I love hearing a great story, telling one. It’s that simple desire to be like, “I saw this guy on the subway today….

Jayce Bartok and Bruce Dern in "The Cake Eaters"

Craziest moment?

During the filming of The Cake Eaters, I was shooting a scene on a roof during a real storm. They rigged this tow line to me under my clothes, and then I had to pretend to fall off the roof. There was this little teamster on the other side of the house holding onto the tow line so I wouldn’t fall. I was like, “Is this guy gonna’ hold me?” Needless to say, I did the stunt. It was amazing. And it never made the film! Hilarious.

Any hints you can pass along to aspiring actors/writers?

Do everything and anything to get your movie made. You have to have 100% belief that your project will get made. It’s a long road, but one door leads to another. Write great parts for actors, and get some really talented ones involved.

Press line at the Tribecca Film Festival

What got you into the industry?

I started out doing plays and commercials in NYC when I was a teenager, and that led to films and tv, and that led to writing…and hopefully directing next.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Hopefully, as a successful writer/director. I want to develop my company, Vinyl Foote, into a growing indie film company.

"The Cake Eaters" opens up on March 13, 2009. If you get a chance, go see it!

Spotlight on Photography

I had a chance to work with Erika Barrientes on a shoot back in January (I'll fill you in on that more later). I'm glad that I had the opportunity. She is very dedicated as well as talented. I asked her for a bio as well as her favorite pictures. It's hard to choose only five of your favorite photographs. These pictures only scratch the surface of the talent this young lady has.

I asked Erika a few questions:

What are you working on now?
I want to have my own studio with my loyal clientele.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
If I had enough of a name that clients would come to me instead of advertising. They would come to me because I had the shot they were looking for.

Any funny stories you'd like to share?
Dealing with a difficult child on a one and half hour shoot we finally got a great shot, but the funny thing is that I didn't get her face in the shot.

What inspires you?
What's the story behind the shot? Why is this important? What was the drive behind it? This is what inspires me!

What do you know now that you wished you knew when you first started?

How to take control of the client and take control of the shot. Know what you want before your shoot. Don't gun and run. Do my research.

Pet peeve?
When people ask what kind of camera do you use?

What's your mantra?
Camera doesn't make a great picture anymore than a typewriter makes a great novel

This is her bio from her myspace: "Hmm ... about me. This is usually a section of pages that I avoid like a plague! But, with each trip around the sun I take, I have finally begun to understand that it's ok for me to take a good long look in the mirror. I am a wife, mother, daughter and sister but mostly I am learning that I'm a person ... and darn it if that doesn't feel good! I stumbled into photography as an accident taking pictures of my first born child. As my babe continued to grow, so did my desire to learn more about this photography thing. What has surprised me the most about this new venture in my life is that I am actually pretty stinking good at it! (Yes, it's ok for me to float my own boat here ... it's my page after all!) And so, with each new year I have continued to push myself to learn more, do more and even be more. And I gotta tell ya, it's an incredible ride ... hopefully some of you will be lucky enough to find yourself in front of my camera, because if you do, there's no telling where I just might take ya! Hugs, E. "

Words people use to describe me...energetic, creative, outgoing, fun, and friendly.

Feel free to peruse her website for more pics. For all things Erika check out: