My oldest son, Alex (6 years old) has started writing stories. He writes them out illustrates them, then staples them together as books. His first one was called “The Lonely Race Car”. Thanksgiving weekend, we got out his toy cars, lincoln logs and some thread, built a set and off we went. Alex helped with the entire process. Even down to directing camera on several shots. He is my little rockstar.
I am happy to present “The Lonely Race Car” by Alex Morrell. Enjoy!
Yep, we did it. Put the bonzai blades to the test. Too much fun. The last one is a picture of my sliced finger…. Enjoy!
Hey, it’s done! This was a fundraiser piece, that I directed and edited for My Broken Palace. MBP is a teenage suicide prevention organization out of Orange County. They are doing some pretty rockin’ stuff for kids. Have worked closely with nearly everyone in this organization over the last few months… They are the real deal and their hearts are big! Please check them out: MyBrokenPalace.com
Director of Photography – Royce Dudley
Music – Ah2 Filtered
Audio Mix & Sound Design – Jimmy Jernigan
Directed & Edited – Paul Morrell
I was recently asked to use a series of single words to describe who I am, what is my personality. At first I was like, OK this is easy. But as I thought about it more and more, the string of words changed again and again. Here is what I ended up with. Perhaps I missed psychotic….. but here goes.
Paul Morrell in 5 single words.
Now I will explain each.
Stories. I love to tell stories. And I am not talking about the cliché film maker response. I literally LOVE to tell stories, face to face with my mouth. I love to see the reaction when I tell a funny story that really happened to me. Bathroom stories, getting mugged, getting hit in the head by a baseball at the Dodger game, etc etc etc.
People. I am happiest when surrounded by the people I love. My Wife, My Kids, Parents, Friends, Old Friends as well as new acquaintances. I love solid conversation, happy conversation, debates, differences and most of all just sharing a laugh with others. I love it.
Food. I am a foodie to the core. All of it. Not picky. Greasy, healthy, whatever. I love it. If I haven’t tried it, I want to and will be excited about every bite of it.
Emotional. I am super emotional. The smallest things in life will get me rolling. Good and bad. It doesn’t take much. I get stoked, pissed, offended, and fall in love really really easily! And sometimes all at the same time. Whether it is people, food, God, my wife, whatever. I am passionate about everything in my life, and thus, my emotions are a roller coaster. But whether I am upset or excited, my passion level is the same intensity either way, in all aspects of my life.
Risk. I am not afraid to take risks. I am always looking for opportunities to do something big. Perhaps, this falls into the emotional category, but whenever I dive into something, I go fully in and don’t look back. The problem is that I don’t always check out how deep the water is before diving… but I dive nonetheless.
Wow. what a year this has turned out to be. From bottom of the barrel financially to back on top in a matter of weeks. This time last year, I was casting for a feature film. Didn’t make a dime off of it. In fact, I ended up putting thousands of dollars of my own money into the film… Ultimately killing my year financially. This year, I have chosen to focus efforts on making money versus spending it. In this awful economy, I have somehow found work, and for this I am super thankful. What feels like a million deliverables before Thanksgiving is going to keep me busy the rest of the year, and hopefully into twenty eleven.
I have some exciting stuff cranking on the creative front as well. My next feature is well underway “Raymond & Gladys” is in full on development. We plan to go into production early 2011 and “Rusty Revolver” (a deranged badass TV Pilot) in a few months. Unfortunately, until someone wants to pay for it, “Wailin’ Jones” has been iced. Wailin’ is the passion project I’m willing to wait for to do it right
Until then, it is kitchen appliances and exercise videos……………………………….. lol. After a day of meetings and research for a Kitchen Appliance show, one of the PA’s asked me if I loved my job. I said “hell yeah”…. and as I thought about that more, I realized I really do. I freaking love every aspect of it. Loving this journey. The ups and the downs. Thankful I can do this fulltime.
Rusty Revolver is going to rock…. I am busting at the seams to tell you more… but you will have to wait :)
I just wrapped up what was possibly the busiest start to a new year I have had in my career, and after a very rocky 2009, this was VERY welcomed.
It being the new year, there have been an onslaught of new interns that have started working. The typical fare, you can see immediately the ones that will amount to something and the ones where you just wonder…. what are they thinking… they are going to get eaten alive in this business.
Well, the guy managing the interns ran out of stuff for them to do and had them follow me around. Now, I don’t move very much. And for someone to follow me around really just involves sitting in a chair and watching…. So I got to spend 1 on 1 time with each of them over the last couple months and 2 of them really stood out. The first reminded me of myself. He was constantly asking questions, driven to do something at whatever costs, and just immediately jumped right in. You really can see the passion in this kid. He wants this.
The other that stood out, was COMPLETELY the opposite. Now, he may have the exact amount of enthusiasm about his dream, but he definitely isn’t expressing it. He NEVER asked me a single question. I asked him, and his responses were under 10 words, everytime. And on days when he wasn’t shadowing me, I would catch him peeking around the corner into my edit bay staring at me… still never saying anything. lol. it was rather odd. funny. but odd.
I came in from lunch one day and there was an intern sitting at the front desk and I had to pause a second. For a moment, my head went right back to 1998. Working in Nashville, TN right out of college, I was the staff PA at Stephen Yake Productions. When the receptionist would go to lunch, part of my daily duty, was to man the phones and play video games on her computer while she took a break. I just snickered.. what a killer time that was. So many people around that inspired me. People that I wanted to be just like. Mike Ashcraft directing a music video, teaching me to document/journal my experiences as each project is a new adventure that I need to remember and take things from project to project to get better and better. Darla Korieba showing me how she does a radio edit of the dialog before she covers. Dan O’Connell teaching me the processes of maintaining a system. Sylvia Avalos (who managed the interns / PAs) telling me to go sit in a bay and watch Darla or Patty cut. To go sit with Mike and pick his brain. And ultimately, Steve Yake and Randy Brewer giving me opportunities to work even tho I was NOT qualified.
The stuff that I got from these guys, I literally use now, EVERY DAY. These were people that made a HUGE impression on me. So much so that 12 years later, I can sit in an edit bay on the other side of the country and remember their faces, their expressions when I walked into their offices. People that listened to my stories and ideas and encouraged me… I realized, Dang I am now on the other side. All those years ago when I would peak around the corner to see if they might invite me in to watch what they do…. I was thinking, I can not wait to be like them. I can not wait to do that. I can not wait to be the guy sitting at the console running the AVID. The director yelling back at the producer when he is trying to change the vision for a piece. The guy that walks into a production company for a meeting to pitch a project, and says hello to the intern covering phones during lunch.
Now I sit here. That guy. After a rough 2009, I sit here wondering how in the world am I going to take my career to the next level. How am I going to get to the point where I am “successful”. And I realized, success is all about perspective. Because 12 years ago, I don’t know that I would have really believed I would be where I am today. 12 years ago, I would have given my right arm to be where I am today. How quickly I forgot. How easy it is to look at where I sit now, and feel underachieved. Until I look at where I came from and how far I actually have come. Of the 25-30 people I went to school with and interned with, I seriously can only think of 3 or 4 people that are still working in the business and doing what we all started out to do. And for that I am thankful to be one of the few still going after it. I am stoked for the projects on my plate this year. 2010 is going to rock. I hope and pray that I can rock the world of the interns that pass thru my life just like those of you that rocked mine.
2009 was probably one of the roughest years for me thus far. But at the same time was possibly one of the most memorable. From the economy nearly killing one of my largest clients, to identity theft, check fraud, license plate stolen and being held at gunpoint, this was definitely a rough one. So I am super stoked to see 2009 go away.
But in 2009, I also saw some significant career jumps. “Oversold” signed worldwide distribution and I finally made the leap from shorts & commercials to features – As a Director for Hire, I directed my first feature film “Filth to Ashes” which we are finishing post this week!
My oldest son also started school this year, he loves it. Will be interesting to see how long that lasts. (him loving it, not how long he’ll stay in school )
Music… I tripped up on an artist that just blew me away. I was surprised as this wouldn’t normally hit my radar at all, but PHIL WICKHAM rocks. I also fell further in love with Country Music: Brad Paisley and Zac Brown Band…. hah, never thought I would say this… but these guys definitely made my list of 09 faves.
January 8th marks 10 years of being in Los Angeles, I have lived in LA almost as long as I lived in my home town. Does this mean LA will soon be “HOME”? lol. I don’t know. It still doesn’t feel like it. I have spent the last 2 weeks with Mom and Dad in Florida… and this is definitely “home”. And the food is WAY better in the south
Back in LA January 7th… a couple infomercials on the slate and another feature.
Happy New year. Twenty Ten. Let’s rock it.
PS…. an update and footage from my 7D shoot are coming… wasn’t completely prepared for the workflow when I headed home for the holidays… (I loaded all the footage onto a USB bus powered drive…. and it needs FW800) So I will get er done when I get back to LA.
Several new projects on the horizon… time for a refresh of all the promo junk!
I recut my reel, however I can’t show it yet as it has a truncated scene from Filth to Ashes on it… I also updated my bio and resume. VIEW HERE
I would love to “beef” up my followers. Scroll down to the bottom of this page and click on “FOLLOW THIS BLOG”… I need to fill that box up. Well, I guess I don’t need it, but it sure would make me feel better about myself. lol.
Time for new glasses… (and a shave ) 3 years with these red glasses next month… I think this is a record time for a single pair for me. choices choices choices:
I attended the “House of the Wolfman” premeire tonight at the Vista Theater in Hollywood on Sunset Blvd – which was fantastic!
Around 11:15 I began the short walk down Sunset toward my car. I pulled out my cellphone and began looking thru emails to see what I had missed in the 2 hours I was at the premiere and I notice this guy walking toward me. It was a dark part of the sidewalk between street lights if you will and I noticed he was pulling the hood of his sweatshirt up over his head. I looked up and was going to say “Hey What’s up” as I have done hundreds of times walking down a side walk in LA. And the guy pulls a pistol out of the side of his sweatshirt and puts it right between my eyes and says “It’s your unlucky night mother f—er”. At this point I am completely stunned. I really don’t know what is happening much less what to do. I just stood there. Yes, for once in my life, I was speechless. lol. He began to ramble words, I didn’t really process what he was saying but I heard the words Mother F—er and empty your pockets. Again, I just stood there.
Then he begins to yell. I throw on the ground my cell phone, a handful of candy (i am diabetic – emergency stash in my pocket), my favorite pen (Dr. Grip), the receipt from the popcorn and soda at the movie, and my car keys. Why I thought he would be satisfied with this I really don’t know… at this point I was just thinking “this guy has a gun pointed at my face” While all these things are very important to me, they are of no value to a crackhead with a gun. He says “empty your pockets”, I said “I’ve got nothing else” and he says “I want to see the inside of your pockets” so I pulled them out and then I realized he wants my wallet, so I pulled out my wallet and threw it on the ground. He then says “I want to see the inside of your back pockets… I want everything you have”. He then turned me around. I could feel the barrel of the gun against the back of my head, and at that point I really realized what was happening. He started patting my butt to feel my pockets, then he yells “Walk Mother F—er” with my hands in the air I began to walk up the sidewalk back towards the theater and as I felt my head come clear of the gun, all I could think about was that I was about to get shot. He says “that’s right mother f—er, back the way you came”. I can see all the people standing outside the theater chatting as I am literally just a block away and I didn’t hear anything behind me.
I began to walk into the middle of the street to get into the light and then I processed – I have no keys, no wallet, no cell phone – I can’t call Karen, I am walking down the middle of a dark street with the whites of my jean pockets hanging out and I can’t do anything. All I could do was grunt – mostly obscenities…. but I could hardly speak. My body started shaking profusely. It was like a diabetic sugar level swing – but totally different. I was numb and my hands and legs were shaking. 10 – 15 more steps down the middle of the road and I darted over to the other sidewalk where I was met by a group of 3 people (2 males and a girl) walking in the direction I just came from. I stopped them and said not to proceed as I was just held at gunpoint.
The girl uses her cell to call 911 and as I am explaining what happened to the guys, I realized who the girl was. It was freaking Leslie Andrews from “Sick Girl” and I said “you’re Sick Girl” and the guys started laughing. (turns out they were from the online magazine NukeTheFridge)
Well, needless to say Leslie is nothing like her character in Sick Girl. She wasn’t covered in blood and wasn’t carrying a gun and she stayed by till the cops came and filed the report. She let me use her cell to call my wife, and we had a great conversation. We both then climbed into the back of the police car and they escorted us to our cars. (turns out the guy only took my wallet and phone and didn’t take my car, which was only a few steps from where we were standing) Completely random, yet a totally awesome surprise ending to what was an awful event.
You never know how you will react in a situation as this, well I now know. I did nothing heroic. My life didn’t flash in front of my eyes, nothing. I stood there and was speechless, I am really surprised I didn’t wet my pants. But thank God the punk didn’t pull the trigger. All is fine on this front. I think Karen was more freaked out by it than I was. Hey, at least I get to go get a new iPhone tomorrow. :0)
Crazy thing is… I have had dreams the last few nights about being held at gunpoint. Fate? or Coincidence? Regardless it is jacked up.
I have always been a dreamer. I have never really given up on dreams. Could be why I stay in so much trouble. I think that it is super important to not forget your dream. Not forget who we were made to be. At the same time we have to remember that sometimes, when we shoot for a goal, we are given a window or door to an opportunity that may not be the glamorous path to success we have envisioned. It may be the bottom of the barrel and then we have to take that mess that is the bottom and make it the best we can possibly make it. It is super important to not pass up opportunities that are staring us in the face. On the flip side of that, I think that it is just as detrimental to allow the reality, that we won’t be superstars at the beginning weigh us down and or more importantly keep us from ever starting. Meaning: Just because we may be forced to deal with the bottom of the barrel on a project or situation, we should NEVER just set out at the beginning aiming for the bottom of the barrel. We should shoot for the best, then take what is given or made available to us and do the very best we can possibly do.
Mediocrity is NEVER acceptable. If we don’t push for excellence in EVERYTHING that we do, we are failing ourselves and those around us. If we are put here to be a leader and we don’t give it everything that we have, we are failing those that were chosen to follow us. We are failing those that are destined to be changed by what we are doing. There is something to be said about the saying that if you aim for nothing you will hit it. But there is also something to be said about common sense and reality. I believe that success lies somewhere in the middle. I believe we pray for miracles, shoot for the top and then take what we get – and make it the absolute best we can do. And then maybe just maybe the miracle we are given is not success on a silver platter, but an ability and a drive to break the odds, push thru the crap and truly use that poop to create something so fantastic, that it changes someone’s life for the better.
A few months back I was wrangled into giving a testimonial for an infomercial for a product that helps people start their own business. I was told that they were going to ask me some questions that had to do with being self-employed and the pros and cons of it…. I have been self-employed for nearly 10 years now and you would think that I would know what to say…. well, it turns out I can’t get a sentence out to save my life and of course, I was cut completely from the show! David Gomez cut together this outtake reel…. pretty funny.
Counting down. 3 weeks from Monday we begin production on my first feature. This weekend, I am taking some time to relax. My mom flies in tomorrow am, and she and my youngest son share the same birthday (on Saturday)… We are going to just hang, eat some cake, and I am stoked. But come Monday, we will be working non-stop for the next 6-8 weeks. Here’s to relaxing and what I am taking as a 3 day weekend!
The infomercial shoot was a blast. hectic no doubt… but this mini flash light that i was hocking yesterday turned out to be pretty dang bright. We were prepared to have to “gag” it to get the light to show up on camera… but the thing was surprisingly bright and played really well thru the lens. Cast was incredible, crew worked their arses off and hopefully we got it all! Will be cutting it this week, then on to the feature!
If you read my previous blogs… you know that I am really wanting to stop trying to “do it all”.. I definitely learned my lesson last night. We had a revised script thrown at us a 1/2 hour after we starting shooting… and I was directing and breaking down the new script as we shot… hence things being hectic. So stoked I will have a dedicated AD for the next project…. This makes me happy!
rock it. paul
So anyone that has actually worked with me in production, you know that I am big on pre-production. There isn’t much that makes me more upset than walking onto a set not knowing what is going on. For years I have worked with one of my best friends Zan Passante co-directing projects. This relationship typically works really well. He handles most of the “producing roles” and I typically handle most of the AD roles (which is prepping for the technical sides of directing… scheduling, shot lists, etc.) Aside from the unfortunately common mis-communication spat, we work really well together. And there is no disputing, some of my best work has been with him by my side. More recently, Zan and I have been doing solo projects (as if we are rock stars!) I have been trying to handle all AD roles as well as directing: 1. because this is what I have always done and 2. to save money.
Well. That is stopping. It is too much to handle doing it all, and unfortunately when I am doing it all, the pre-production suffers, which slows the shoot down, which creates more work in post, which makes me even more mad at myself for trying to save a few hundred bucks not hiring help!
I am currently in pre-production on 3 projects all of which are shooting over the next 3 months, and I am sitting in LA traffic yesterday and this is all I can think about. Then it hit me. If any of you know me personally, you know that I am right the opposite with nearly everything else in my life. I don’t prep for anything. I am totally a fly by the seat of my pants kind of guy. So I started thinking why in world would I only apply this practice to my work and where in the world did this “planning” attitude even come from. The only thing I can really figure is that it is because I place soooo much value on my career. Am I a control freak? I guess so, at least in that particular area.
Which brought me to another thought. Control Freaks. I think I hate that more than the lack of pre-production. While being prepared can take you as close to perfection in executing a project, not letting go of control can demolish a project regardless of the amount of prep.
I think this attitude can really be applied to all aspects of our lives. Perhaps, I should take the rest of life more seriously. Prep more. Whether it be my kids, relationships, religion, whatever, be more cautious, careful. Perhaps this will save me years of heartache… who knows… Then I thought. aghhh…. I like being spontaneous. If we prep too much sometimes we would never make a decision to move forward, at some point you have to start the project. So I guess there needs to be balance. Too much of anything is bad. I see this more now than ever.
Take it or leave it. This is what’s in my head today!
Well, as a lot of you have experienced, it has been a pretty rough 9 months around the Morrell household. From working 3 years straight with hardly a week or 2 off, to what we can only guess is due to the economy, strikes or maybe it was my striking looks?!?!? work has been stuttering in. Definitely not the landslide of jobs knocking on my door we had come so used to.
Not once was I ever really “not working” because I am truly a workaholic. But I was able to take the time to travel a bit with the family, camp, write, and actually relax.
Well. That drought and pseudo-free-time is officially over. From a documentary in July to a feature that I will be directing in August, to what looks like will be a steady stream of infomercials and reality TV post production. sumoJACK is going to be a busy fat man.
All this and we are contemplating a move back to Nashville or somewhere in the south closer to home.
Should be fun!