Kicking off the new year…

Image of Joe on screen interview… with some cool news. Hinted at it a while back, but no need to be secretive any longer. A few months ago, an indie filmmaker from Europe contacted me about being in a documentary he was working on. He had a mishap which nearly cost him his sight and hearing, which got him thinking about what he would have done had things gone differently for him. Here’s the first clip, (Pam says it came out looking sharp). Not sure how much I’ll figure into the finished project, but felt great to be featured like this for my work. Take a look and let me know what you think. Plus, I’m not about to stop you from sharing the link on Facebook or posting it on Twitter if you so desire. Enjoy, and hope you had a great New Year with a fantastic 2016 stretching out before you!:

I’d Be Embarrassed

I don’t know what college is like these days, but despite being a couple
decades removed from the experience, I can’t bring myself to believe that
the same institutions that were around when I was at Fordham have so totally
fallen to pieces that students have become such cowards they’re *so* afraid
of a movie screening that they wanted to ban it.

I remember when I looked forward to going to college for the promised
“exchange of ideas.” To be immersed in an environment where you were taught
to question everything, and to have the courage to stand up with a notion
that wasn’t mainstream, and put it forth. To enter the debate (no matter
what it was), if you had an opinion you believed was worth sharing.

That kids today are too freaked out to allow American Sniper to be shown on
campus makes me embarrassed *for* them. Is this what we’ve become? We’re
raising kids so frail that they can’t tolerate a movie they’re not keen on
seeing? That they can’t spend that time on the quad or at a local haunt or
at an off-campus theatre or the mall or.heck, y’know.studying?

Listen, if you’re so unhinged by a film, go into your crappy bathroom, take
a good long look in the mirror, and admit out loud: “I’m no different than
those people who want Harry Potter banned from school libraries.” Go on, do
it. Because, when it comes right down to it? That’s the truth. You’re no
better than the types of fundamentalists people point at and make fun of for
being unwilling to tolerate a different view. You’re no different than the
folks who didn’t want Brokeback Mountain to play at their local theatre; no
different than the preacher who wanted to burn Qurans; no different than the
Westboro Baptist Church fanatics and those like them, who believe that books
featuring gays or sinners or messages questioning their philosophy are the
work of the devil. C’mon, step into line. You belong right next to ’em.

It’s a movie. You don’t like the protagonist or the subject matter? So what?
You don’t like war and snipers? Too bad. You don’t want your campus to be a
place where creative expression is encouraged? Well then, go home. Because
clearly, you’re unfit to take up space at a college like Univ of Michigan,
and your spot should be held for someone more open-minded. For those of you
pausing for a moment to consider your rationale for wanting the film banned?
Grow up. Don’t like fraternities? Don’t pledge. Don’t like religion? Don’t
go to church. Don’t like the editorial slant of your local newspaper?
Subscribe to a different one online. Don’t like a movie? Go play on your
iPad or find something else to do for a couple of hours. Don’t prevent those
who *do* want to experience the film from doing so because of your issues
with it.*that’s* free expression. That’s being open. That’s being tolerant.
And, most important?

That’s *not* being a coward.

The Next Frontier

The Bunker Movie ArtFirst time director, can’t see, minimal budget, cast spread out all across the country. Just finishing a movie would pretty much be seen as a success, right? That’s how I looked at it, being the blind first-timer in question. But not only did we pull it off, we shook off sabotage from within, financial shortcomings and reshoots in multiple states to produce a film that not only got good reviews, it got great reviews. We got invited to screen at over a dozen festivals. Yours truly got a filmaker award at a well-known fest. And, we topped that off by garnering both a domestic film deal and foreign distribution.

Now, the newest frontier. We’ve signed on with Commodity Films to screen The Bunker on IPTV, meaning if you live in one of the non-exclusive territories? You’ll be able to see The Bunker, for free, starting on Halloween night through November 6th. Any time, day or night, you can stream the flick at your convenience and see the film that, without exaggeration, made movie history. 

I hashtag: #NoLimits a lot. Because I don’t believe in any. Well, okay. Maybe I won’t  get my pilot’s license. But I’m talking about having no limits in terms of pushing the envelope. Doing things people don’t expect you to do. Things people don’t believe you can do. When I announced I was going to direct? There were plenty of naysayers online, and some I met in person, face-to-face, at conventions. Proving them wrong? Just added incentive. 

Halloween night, or the 6 days following, visit CommodityFilms.com and click into the Screening Room to view The Bunker. Then come on back and let us know what you thought. C’mon-it’s 7 days. You can’t be in a post-Halloween candy coma that long.

Joe’s Groundbreaking Feature Hits IPTV this Halloween; FREE for First Week!

The Bunker Movie ArtJoe’s debut feature, THE BUNKER, premieres Halloween night, Oct. 31 on CommodityFilms.com, and will run for free through November 7th, along with a “Making of” documentary, and REDEMPTION, a TV pilot based on one of Monks’ teleplays. Just click Watch Now to enter the Commodity Films Screening Room.

Despite obstacles his handicap presented, Jo raised the money to shoot the movie, and embark on a journey no filmmaker had taken before. With THE BUNKER, Joseph M. Monks is the first blind feature film director.

Commodity Films’ Russell Hess saw enormous potential in the envelope-pushing project, and reached out to offer his services.

“I was more than mildly intrigued when I heard a blind guy was making a movie. At first, I reacted as many would, thinking that this was some kind of stunt. Not only was I completely wrong, what Joe accomplished is far better than most amateur filmmakers I’ve seen during my career.”

After a year’s worth of discussions, the two finally met face-to-face, and sealed the deal.

“It took me a while to trust somebody after the hassles I had in production,” says Monks. “But we secured domestic distribution, foreign distribution and now the IPTV deal. Not bad for a first-timer who can’t see, huh?”

Airing alongside THE BUNKER will be a “Making of” documentary, and REDEMPTION, a TV pilot based on one of Joe’s teleplays.

Observations & Stuff

Haven’t blogged in forever, so just throwin’ some stuff out there.

MH370. Listen, I know families want answers. I would, too. But a freaking
plane went off radar, cut communications, deviated from its flight path and
nose-dived into the drink. There’s no black boxes. No flight data recorder.
Nothing beyond a short transcript of what the pilots said to the tower
before turning everything off. Where the hell do you expect to get any
answers from, folks? I feel sorry for each and every one of you, but this
demanding answers and accusing the government of a cover-up? Really? You’ve
got basically zero to go on. And that’s a whole lot of water to hunt
through. Five miles deep in places. Totally dark down there. Underwater
mountain ranges, trenches, you name it. And you’re pissy because the last
line of the translated flight transcript is a little off??? I know we’re
talking life and death here, but this is like my wife demanding answers
about a missing lighter during one of our parties. Now, she may want
answers, and there may be a bunch of people hunting for the thing, and we
might even have a basic search area narrowed down, but there aren’t going to
be any answers until the damned thing turns up and we find out who put it in
their back pocket instead of their front pocket and walked away with it.
There’s a bunch of countries helping out round the clock. Let them do their
best and hope for results, because searching an ocean is *not* an easy task,
and these people have been doing it for a month straight.

The NCAA. How out of touch am I with college hoops? When it got down to
Kentucky vs. U Conn for the national championship, I rooted for U Conn
because I thought it’d be cool if Jim Calhoun won another title.
Unfortunately, Jim doesn’t coach U Conn any longer, and I didn’t even know.

The Giants. I may actually splurge for the Sunday Ticket for the first time
in 3 years over at my Mom’s, because for the first time in recent memory,
the Giants did a whole lot during free agency and significantly upgraded the
team. Big signings. Splashy signings. If things come together with the new
players, this could be a playoff team. Getting to see all 16 games? Might be
worth it this season.

Writing. Been banging away like a madman on the keyboard for weeks now. Ran
through a set of batteries on Dad’s old keyboard in less than 3 months,
which never happens. I was pretty set on the lineup for Grave Choices, the
new anthology I’ll be releasing in May, and then. And then I got an idea for
a new story, and started writing it. And, that new story became an
all-consuming creative inferno. End result? A 65 page creature story that
blindsided me (har-har)  and will now close out the book. It’s put me up
against the wall time-frame-wise to be done with my final draft, but what
the hell. When the Muse calls, you pick up the phone. Every time.

Freelancing. Couple weeks back, I got the single strangest assignment I’ve
ever gotten in my life. It’s for a magazine that caters to 60somethings.
Yes, it’s a men’s mag. No, I didn’t know it existed until I got the call.
Interracial, cuckolding, grandmother swinger sex. No, I didn’t mistype that.
Oh, and the kicker? “Any chance you could turn this one around in a week?”
Needless to say, professional that I am, I did *not* deny that I’d gotten
the e-mail, took the gig, and met the deadline. Whatever pays the bills,
baby, whatever pays the bills.

Guitar. Broke another string yesterday. Now, this is no surprise, really,
strings don’t last forever. But for a novice like me, who’s used to strings
lasting six months at a clip, this was irritating. Billy, who’s been doing
this professionally for 20+ years, says, “Dude, it happens. We’re playing a
hell of a lot more than we were a couple of months ago.” And this is true.
Still, in my head, I have this misguided belief that strings should only
break when my guitar is in it’s case, and I don’t need it. I should hear a
muffled, Sproing! In the middle of the night, and think, “Oh, better change
that in the morning.” Still, can’t complain. Even though this set only
lasted 2 months, Billy and I (and John, on Tuesday’s) are playing a *lot* of
guitar. Yesterday I picked up a song I had never played before, and in one
run-thru not only nailed it, but nailed the dynamics as well. Last week, I
hit 30 on my ‘Playable songs’ list. Truth be told, never thought I’d get
here. Tried learning several times during my life, back when I had sight,
and could never do it. Now? Thanks to Billy, I can hold my own at any
backyard party for a good 3 hours. Not bad for a year and a half.

Gas. Hey, all my liberal friends. You ignored it last time I mentioned how
you all went into hiding when Obama took over for Bush and gas prices didn’t
return to ‘normal.’ Yesterday we paid $3.71 for gas, and we sure as hell
weren’t buying premium. Please tell me, again, folks, how gas prices being
double what they were under Bush is Bush paying off big oil.after 6 years.
C’mon, I’ll wait. I’m reminded of Simon & Garfunkel every time I go to the
pump, because all I hear out of the same people (as well as the media) is
the sounds of silence when it comes to gas prices, when newscasters were all
but apoplectic on-air when gas first hit $2.50 a gallon under the last guy.
Where’s the outrage now, huh?

Movies. I’m sitting on a pair of free passes to our favorite Regal. Me? I’m
thinking Godzilla, opening weekend, maybe the last show on Sunday night so I
don’t have to deal with the Friday and Saturday crowd. I don’t care what
people say, the trailer sounds fun, and the Godzilla roar isn’t a
disappointment. My nephews say from the trailer that Godzilla looks like
Godzilla, the big, rubbery, loveable Godzilla. Might just circle that date.
Who’s with me?