V.S.P. Wars

For a contest to win $50 each, my co-workers and I made this Star Wars parody video as part of a company campaign to get employees excited about taking V.S.P insurance. We spent a few days working on the script, about an hour recording it, and I spent three hours editing everything together. We all had fun filming this video. The whole store thinks our is the best video out of all of the submitted videos. :)

Dennis Spielman as Director/Editor
Melanie Cotanny as Princess Hoya
Cody Jones as Luke Spherewalker
Jimmy Alston as Obi One Base
Darlene Flores as R2-Diapoters
Katrina Parham as Jedi Sales Associate
Daniel Hardy as Jedi Customer
Phyllis Cole as Jedi Customer

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The Office of Dennis Spielman

Dennis Office Sept 2014
I thought it would be fun to show off my office. I enjoy seeing other writer’s offices so I’m sure someone will enjoy mine. I recently bought a new monitor to connect to my MacBook Pro and sold my old iMac. I’ve had my iMac since early 2009 and it was started to show it’s age, especially compared to my beast of a laptop. I bought the ASUS PB278Q 27-Inch WQHD LED-lit Professional Graphics Monitor. The colors and screen resolution are phenomenal! I wish the speakers were too. I cleaned the desk and the room for that matter to take this picture today.

The paintings on the wall to the right were either done by me, Leslie, or for me by my friend, Anthony Nguyen. Not pictured is a corner to the left of two of my photographs as canvas prints.

What’s that on my laptop? A Spotify playlist for The Time Traveling Troupe? Yes, I’ve been collecting songs that fit or inspire the show. I have the first 12 episode season outlined with a few notes for the second and third seasons. I’m still a few years away from filming the first episode. My current book I’m working on does have a guest appearance from a character from the series.

Anyway, I wanted to share how my office was coming along.

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The Atlanta, Georgia Trip

2014-08-30 Downtown Atlanta. Photo by Dennis Spielman
During an extended Labor Day Weekend trip, Leslie and I flew to Atlanta, Georgia to visit my family and explore the city. We took a 5:30 a.m. (blah, so early) direct flight to Atlanta, arriving there around 9 a.m. local time.

2014-08-30 Highland Bakery photo by Dennis Spielman
My parents took us out for breakfast at Highland Bakery located in the Old 4th Ward. We all had seen them on a food show on Netflix, and since my parents hadn’t been there yet, we HAD to go. I had their french toast, pictured above, and it was delicious. The $10 meal was made with thick slices of challah bread and topped with fresh fruit and French cream.

After breakfast, they drove us to the tiny town of Juliette, which was on my Mom’s To-Visit List. If you’ve seen the movie Fried Green Tomatoes then the town will look familiar. I personally hadn’t seen the movie. Along with handful of antique shops and sets leftover from the movie, there was the actual Whistle Stop Cafe. We didn’t eat there as it was busy and we were still full from breakfast.

2014-08-30 Mystic Falls sign-01
Keeping with the movie locations theme, the next town we visited was Covington. We didn’t explore too much as Leslie and I were tired and needed to check into our hotel. I did snap a picture of the Welcome to Mystic Falls sign from the TV series Vampire Diaries.

The rest of the Saturday evening consisted of us people watching the cosplayers from Dragon Con (which we weren’t able to fit in), roaming downtown as we had dinner at Jalapeño Charlies.

On Sunday, Leslie and I went to the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Go see it. My photo gallery barely scratches the surface of it’s size and beauty. We spent half the day there. Just, go visit.

The other half of the day we took my first taxi ride, a completely stereotypical experience with the driver honking and rolling the window down to yell at people. Our ride brought us to Lenox Square a.k.a. the rich mall. In one of the stores I picked up a $2,000 pair of boots–and then quickly put them back down after seeing the price tag. $2,000 for shoes! Nope. Not for me. Still a cool mall. There was a cupcake shop called Sprinkles where we enjoyed some yummy cupcakes.

Monday morning was spent with my family at Underground Atlanta followed by shopping at Atlantic Station, which we enjoyed more. For lunch we ate at The Pig and The Pearl, where I had the Knife & Fork Brisket Sandwich. It was good, but too smokey for my tastes.

In the evening, we took a long drive to Helen, which I had visited before with my family, but not with Leslie. We didn’t go tubing–didn’t want to carry around the clothes for it–but we explored the shops that were still open. We didn’t get back to our hotel until very late that night.

Our final day, Tuesday, was spent in Five Little Points (again, been there before). Leslie got herself a spa treatment while I wandered around. Front Page News was for lunch before we caught our flight back home.

While we did a ton things, we didn’t do everything we wanted. I guess we have an excuse to go back. :)

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Eureka Springs

2014-07-04 Eureka Springs-03
For the Fourth of July weekend, Leslie and I took a vacation in the beautiful Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The one word we joking used to described our trip: stairs. Eureka Springs is a hillside tourist town and so we walked along many up and downhill trails, slopes, ramps and, of course, staircases. Don’t let the workout discourage you–it’s worth it. Fortunately they have an excellent trolly system, and I suggest buying the all-day pass to get around hilly town. It won’t rescue you from ALL the stairs, but you’ll be glad for the break.

Here’s an overview of our trip for ideas for your own adventure.

2014-07-04 Eureka Springs-01 Cafe Amore
After checking into our hotel, we had dinner at Cafe Amore (2070 E Van Buren, Eureka Springs, AR 72632). We split the hot and delicious Friday Special – Homemade White Lasagna with Alfredo sauce, chicken, bruschetta, artichoke, mushrooms and 3 cheese, with salad and garlic bread. For dessert we shared a piece of Slow Death by Chocolate Cake (which was as delicious as it sounds, if not actually deadly).

We drove around the town for a little bit to get a feel for the town. Driving around the major highway roads, there isn’t much to see. However, I was wowed when we turned into Historic Downtown Eureka Springs, for this is where the city truly shines. We took a short walk and then we went out to a nearby resort for a fireworks show (it was the 4th of July, after all!).

Saturday morning we went out for breakfast at Cravings (508 Village Circle, Eureka Springs, Arkansas 72632). When we arrived, they weren’t open quiet yet. Across from them was Pine Mountain Tower. The tower was originally used by the forestry service and is 100 feet tall, and with a dollar in quarters and a tight squeeze through the security gate you can climb up to the top if you like. And we climbed it, all 100 feet of rickety wooden staircases and swaying metal bars (not for the faint of heart, let me tell you)! Pictures for proof, just ignore Leslie’s crazy wind hair. I think climbing climbing down was a bit more nerve racking than going up. (Are you starting to see why we described the trip with the word ‘stairs’?)

 Eureka Springs: Cravings
By the time we got down, we had worked up an appetite for breakfast (and could no longer feel our legs, but that’s the price you pay for adventure sometimes). Because Cravings is not part of the touristy downtown, it is considered a hidden gem by the locals. There was a generous selection of breakfast items, including muffins and cinnamon biscuits, as well as cookies and cupcakes. We highly recommend them, even if you’re on a diet, because we believe that you don’t gain calories on vacation. OR you could always go up the tower afterwards ;)

The Music Park
After breakfast, we drove to the downtown area. We left our car at one of the few free parking lots, which is a bit north past everything, and journeyed towards downtown on foot. Our fist attraction was the music park, a novelty to both of us. It contains a mix of musical sculptures that were designed to be played, such as a giant xylophone, a “walking” wind chime tuned to the song “Give Peace a Chance” by the Beatles, and other interactive musical instruments.

Above, a gallery of some of the sights seen in the Historic Downtown.

Food at Nibbles
For lunch that day, we ate at Nibbles Eatery (79 Spring Street, Eureka Springs, AR 72632). One of the tiniest restaurants I’ve had the pleasure of eating at, Nibbles had a staff of three people – waiter, busboy, and the chef. If you can get a seat, take it before it’s gone!

While essentially the entire town is a community of artists, The Art Colony is a hodgepodge of studios and living spaces for local sculptors, painters, and more. I give it huge props for it’s unique architectural design. The bridge to The Art Colony is an excellent example of the creative spirit within the space.

Quigley's Castle
One of the most popular tourist attractions is Quigley’s Castle (274 Quigley Castle Rd, Eureka Springs, AR 72632). Quigley’s Castle was the dream home of Elise Quigley, a nature enthusist who lived from 1910 to 1984. Mrs. Quigley designed and hand-built just about everything on the property, from the fossil-studded walls on the outside of the home to the two-story tropical garden INSIDE the home. The garden paths feature over 400 varieties of flowers and lead around secluded benches, a lily pond and bird baths up to her home which she beautifully covered with stones and fossils she’d collected since childhood. Quigley’s Castle also has butterfly, fossil, crystal, arrowhead and glassware collections beyond imagination.

2014-07-05 Eureka Springs-63 Cosmic Cavern
From the castle, we drove up to Cosmic Cavern (6386 Arkansas 21, Berryville, AR 72616), a delight for adventurers of any age. During the roughly hour long tour, we saw two bottomless lakes and various cave formations, including one of the longest soda straw formations in the Ozarks. The privately owned cave is camera friendly and there are several photo opportunities throughout the tour. Bring your good walking shoes, however, and be prepared for some low ceilings, slippery patches and, of course, stairs.

The rest of our Saturday evening consisted of exploring gift shops back in Downtown Eureka Springs. We enjoyed burgers and waffle fries for dinner at the New Delhi Cafe and enjoyed people watching from the patio as the sun set.

2014-07-06 Eureka Springs-80
Sunday morning, our last day, we had the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet at Pancake’s Family Restaurant (2055 E Van Buren, Eureka Springs, AR 72632). Obligatory American breakfast picture above for reference.

A Working Bunny
Bunnies aren’t just cute like everybody supposes. There’s a gift shop, East by West (9 Center St. Eureka Springs, AR 72632), we stopped at that is home of the Working Bunnies. Yes, these are actual rabbits, and once we heard about them we had to see it to believe it. I bought my sister a birthday card from there to see the bunny in action. The store owner gave the bunny the package and the bunny gave it to me.

2014-07-06 Eureka Springs-87 Casa Colina
For lunch on our last stop out of town, we had lunch at Casa Colina (173 S Main St, Eureka Springs, AR 72632). The picture of their patio just goes to show that there is hardly any place in Eureka Springs that is not picturesque.

From Oklahoma City, the drive to Eureka Springs was about five hours. There were plenty more attractions nearby that we just didn’t have the time to see this time. If you are thinking about making a first-time visit, it would be fun going with a group of friends and everyone could stay together in a treehouse. We personally recommend Eureka Springs for a vacation destination.

Happy Adventures!

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Air Donkey Zipline with Uncovering Oklahoma

A few weeks ago for Uncovering Oklahoma I went to Air Donkey Zipline in Davis, Oklahoma.

I spoke to Steve and Rosalind Burrough about what to expect from this high-flying adventure. Watch the video and check out the pictures from my visit. The video turned out great. This time, I did some color correcting to make the scenery pop and I left off the title credit in favor of a new end title.

Leslie and I both had such a fun time. Fair warning: Air Donkey Zipline was quiet the workout. As I stood on the tower for the first real zipline, I was nervous. Once I went down the first one, the scared feelings went away and the rest were easy. It’s an intense experience that I can personally recommend.

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Ghostbusters Reel Shorts

During June’s Premiere of Film Row event, Leslie and I took part in a Ghostbuster parody video. I got an e-mail today with the finished video! You should watch it. Not just because I’m in it, which is always a good reason to watch something, but you should watch it for a valuable lesson, which may or may not come in handy. In any case, valuable lesson and me.

Volunteers from the audience at the June 2014 Première on Film Row street party were cast in this “Ghostbusters” parody, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the classic movie’s release. Actors set up in front of the green screen on the Paramount Cafe center stage and Chuck at Upper Room Graphics did all the special effects. Enjoy!

Noel S. as Friend 1
Dennis S. as Friend 2
Leslie K. as Gozer
Brian Gililland as Ghostbuster 1
Brandon Chism as Ghostbuster 2

and a crowd of dozens!

“Mischievous Ghosts theme” by Yamy

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Post-deadCENTER 2014 Thoughts

2014-06-12 Film Row-04 Leslie and Dennis holding Press Passes
Recently I got to do one of the 14 Things I want to do in Oklahoma in 2014 when I went to the deadCENTER Film Festival. Due to work, I only attended the opening night party on Thursday and on Sunday saw the features I wanted to see: The Posthuman Project, Army of Frankensteins, and Rough Cut.

2014-06-12 Film Row-01 Selfie with Bunee Tomlinson
While waiting in line to get my press passes, I met with filmmaker Bunee Tomlinson who I had interviewed about Hana, his short movie at the festival. We took the above selfie together. I posted it on Twitter, tagging deadCENTER, and after a few minutes the tweet showed up on a large TV screen displaying tweets about the festival.

I got to do this brief on-the-spot interview with some of the crew behind Rough Cut during the opening night party.

Photo with Kyle Roberts
Met with Kyle Roberts after the showing of The Post Human Project. Read his Q&A here.

2014-06-15 Film Row-16 AoF Q&A
Picture with the cast and crew of Army of Frankensteins standing up after the movie to do a Q&A with the audience.

While I’m not going to write in-depth reviews, I will say I enjoyed each of them and I look forward to next year’s festival.

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Pre-2014 deadCENTER Film Festival Thoughts

For the first time I’m going to Oklahoma City’s deadCENTER Film Festival and I’m getting to go in style with an all-access press pass! For those not in the know, deadCENTER is Oklahoma’s largest film festival, recognized as one of the “Top 20 Coolest Film Festivals in the World” according to MovieMaker magazine. More than 15,000 people attended deadCENTER Film Festival screenings last year. I wrote this Uncovering the 2014 deadCENTER story if you want to know more.

Since this is my first time going to the festival, I thought I would share my before and after thoughts. I will start with the Opening Night festivities, which begin with a rooftop party, open to all pass holders, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. I’ve been told from Lance McDaniel, executive director for deadCENTER Film Festival, that “It’s the perfect environment for our local and visiting filmmakers to meet deadCENTER supporters and festival goers, and toast the beginning of a crazy, beautiful week.”

What exactly I’m going to see will be planned day by day. (I would go to almost everything if I could.) There are three feature movies I do want to see for sure that I have been keeping tabs on during their production.

The Posthuman Project - movie still
First off is teen superhero movie, The Posthuman Project. In my Uncovering Oklahoma interview with Director, Kyle Roberts, he described the movie as “a teen superhero film with the heart of a 80s John Hughes movie and the flare of JJ Abrams. Oh and let’s go ahead and o that on a micro budget!” The effects and the movie itself look great. The song from the trailer, “There’s So Much Energy In Us” by Cloud Cult, is beautiful. Introduced to a new group. Awesome.

Army of Frankensteins
Next is Army of Frankensteins. The movie is “a fun and exciting adventure/horror movie about a guy who accidentally ruptures space and time and winds up fighting in the civil war with an army of Frankenstein monsters from parallel universes,” Director/Producer Ryan Bellgardt said in my interview.

From the trailer, the movie seamlessly features an Army of Frankensteins played by one actor. I also always get a kick when I watch a trailer and I recognize one of the locations, like the Crest that used to be across my street.

Rough Cut still
Finally, there’s Rough Cut. It’s a comedy about making movies. Hey, I can relate to that! However, Adam Hampton said in my interview that Rough Cut is more than a comedy and that “it’s an underdog story about chasing your dreams that anyone can relate to in one way or the other.” The screening at deadCENTER is going to be the first episode as Rough Cut will be an episodic series. Best of luck to them.

There are some shorts I’m interested in as well. What I end up seeing and who I interview will all depend on everyone’s schedule.

I am excited! This deadCENTER is going to be a blast and someday I’ll have a movie there.

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Take 9 Video Interview

For Uncovering Oklahoma, I interviewed some of the cast and crew behind the variety show, Take 9, in Norman, Oklahoma.

This video features a fast-cut, multiple people style edit that I’m proud of how it turned out. It went so fast, I couldn’t really leave people’s names on the video.

Take 9 borrows the hilarious cast chemistry from Carol Burnett, adds a touch of Saturday Night Living, and finishes with the irreverent audience interaction of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. With recurring characters and themes along with some exciting new elements, this is not a sit-and-watch show — it’s dynamic!

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Progress: May 12, 2014

Most of my creative energy has been spent toward Uncovering Oklahoma.

Over the past month, I overhauled the web site. It features a responsive design — looking sexy for any device, magazine style front page with featured images, and in short, it looks much nicer. I’ve had popular articles, like this one, that got an insane amount of shares. I’ve been building relationships with media managers. I’ve been having fun taking a typical press release like this one and turning it into something like this story. I’ve done several fun interviews, like with the band, Team Nightstand; director/writer, Brandon Bergin; and singer/songwriter, Audra Elizabeth. I have a new video in the works on the Take9 variety show in Norman, which I should finish this week. Plus, so much more.

I feel like Uncovering Oklahoma is going somewhere positive and I feel great about it. I just got to do something big to give it a popularity boost. I’ll keep working on it and see where the site goes.

While Uncovering Oklahoma and my day job has been getting my focus, other projects…not so much. I’ve done little creative writing. I have been researching for a new car though. The Crashing of Heaven and Hell is now available for the Nook. Shelved a private investigator romance series for another time along with story connecting to The Time Travel Troupe. I did come up with a few ideas for new projects. That’s good!

And I’ll be sharing one of those new projects soon! Good night!

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