How I got involved with the #HowEyeSeeIt campaign

Back in June, I got a tweet from someone I didn’t know, asking if I’d be interested in participating in a digital campaign. I didn’t recognize the Twitter handle and had no clue what the campaign might be, but figured, what the heck? So long as it wasn’t promoting the new Ghostbusters

So we share e-mail addresses and Amanda Slavin, from Catalyst Creativ, sends me a note about the project. It’s a campaign being kicked off by the Foundation Fighting Blindness, designed to bring attention to various diseases causing sight loss, helping researchers looking for cures get more funding, raising awareness, that sort of thing. Needless to say, blindness is more than a pet cause, seeing as for me, the lights’ve been out since 2002. I was IN even before finishing that e-mail.

So, dates are set. Other people (including some actors, a pageant winner, two documentary directors and yours truly) would be shooting together in late June. Only, well, it’s entertainment. Things fall through. So, the original dates didn’t work. No problem, right? Just reschedule. But, by mid-July, dates were still being discussed, and a firm deadline to complete our part was set for August 7th. As you can imagine, by the end of July, that window  was closing fast. To be honest, while I was totally stoked about being involved, the folks I was scheduled to be working with are much bigger entertainment industry fish than I am. I mean, by a lot. So, I figured, given that I’m not the world’s luckiest filmmaker, the whole thing might not happen. Before I lost hope, though, August fifth started looking good for everyone. On Aug. 1st, I get word, asking if I can be in New York, not Los Angeles, in 72 hours. Flight, lodging, Uber rides, whatever, that’ll
all be covered. I called up some friends and my sis to see who could watch Mouse and the cats. I hired another friend’s pet-sitting service for the slots I couldn’t fill. Thursday morning? We were on a plane out of Ft. Myers, on our way to The Big Apple.

I won’t get into all the ins-and-outs of the trip there. Suffice to say, it wasn’t bad. The trip back? The voyage from Hell? I already posted about that – but my run-in with TSA? That wasn’t the worst of it. (Sorry, I don’t like cliffhangers or teasers, but I’ll get to that other incident in a couple of blogs).
Joe Monks and Todd Kellstein talking at a table at John Sullivan's in NYC
I will, however, do a name-drop, because I’ve got the okay from the powers-that-be behind the shoot. That pic? That’s me and director Todd Kellstein of Wayfarer Entertainment, one of the filmmakers behind Rebel With a Cause: the Sam Simon Story. For those of you who don’t remember the name, Sam was the co-creator of The Simpsons, who died of cancer in 2015.

Todd, Pam and I hooked up Thursday night for dinner at John Sullivan’s, where we became fast friends, talked not just the following day’s shoot, but movies
in general, how I made The Bunker, films Todd and his partner have worked on and released – needless to say, we wound up taking up a table for a lot longer
than the average dinner-seekers at a place right up the street from Madison Square Garden.

More on the shoot, the other people involved (yeah, yeah, I know, more teasers). But August 23rd is comin’ fast, and on or around that date is when all can be revealed. In fact, probably a lot earlier, but for now? This is how the trip began. Dates get locked Monday night. Flight arrangements made around 10pm. I start contacting people about the pets, rescheduling things planned here, that sort of stuff. Tuesday night? Hotel arrangements get locked down. Thursday morning we’re city-bound. Thursday afternoon? The New York location falls through (that’s shoots for you, rarely does anything but planning go without a hitch). Thursday late, the producer books an even better location, and I get e-mailed that address that night, with a call time of 9am. Sound frantic? Trust me. I’m a writer. Words do not do this one justice. And, there’s a lot more to come. Keep checking back to see how the shoot itself went, what’s left of Times Square, The Village, and some of my favorite old haunts, having grown up traveling into the city a ton.
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Currently listening to: “Monsters” by The Cruxshadows