Music Vids from MOG2

September 20, 2010

Due to recent requests, I have sought to find and make available the two 1995 music videos to support the 2006 release of Men of Gray II, Flight of the Ibis.

Unfortunately, I have only been able to locate bits and pieces of each of these two historic Trinidad & Tobago music videos, and only in a low quality VHS copy.  If if find better, I’ll post them.  Meanwhile, here are the snippets of these videos:

We created the music videos to promote the movie, as you can tell by the way they are cut together with scenes from Flight of the Ibis.

  • Love and Pain was written and performed by Tricia Lee Kelshall.
  • Winning Lane was written by Sean Bartholomew (also known as Adrian Bartholomew), and performed by Sean, Tricia, and David Rudder.
  • Both videos (and the movie) were directed by me, Ric Moxley.
  • Sean Bartholomew created the musical score for the movie.
  • David Rudder and Tricia Lee Kelshall were both in the movie.  David performed as himself in one scene and Tricia was a co-star and the female lead.

All three of these Trinidadian musicians are still active.   See recent news on Sean/Adrian here, here, and here.  See Tricia on youtube, performing Mindcircus, the hit single from the 2001 Way Out West – Intensify album, which reached #39 in the UK charts.  David Rudder’s Facebook fan page is a good way to stay abreast of his music and recent news, or from his official Web site

Finally, here’s a nice picture of the three of them together, taken by Trinidadian photographer Mark Lyndersay behind the scenes during production of Winning Lane:

Where Are They Today? Joe’s Son from Men of Gray II

August 21, 2010

Matthew Kong as “Sean Cameron”

I was recently contacted by a Trinidadian I’d never met—a young woman named Sydney.  It turns out that she is the younger sister of the boy who played Sean Cameron (Joe Cameron’s son), in the 1996 Men of Gray II movie (aka Flight of the Ibis).  Sydney and her mother Cheryl were trying to find a copy of the 1996 movie on DVD, which is apparently very hard to find in Trinidad.

Matthew then and Matthew today

The actor who played young Sean, Matthew Kong, is now fully grown and still living in Trinidad.  Here is Matthew as Sean in 1994 when we shot the movie:

sean_mog2_a sean_mog2_b

And here is Matthew today in a recent snapshot:


I’m not certain what Matthew is doing now, but hopefully he or one of his family members will respond to this and fill us in.

The difficulty in fulfilling the family’s request 

With Men of Gray II being released so long ago, and into the low budget market, the movie was not originally distributed as a DVD at all.  It was theatrically released in several countries (not the U.S.) and available in TV markets and VHS worldwide.  But not DVD. 

Since I was not aware of a place in Trinidad where his family could buy the movie, I pieced together a collection of video snippets from the movie that featured Matthew.  It’s not as handsome a gift as a DVD (which I don’t have either!), but this online 8-minute montage was well-received by the family. 

You can see the Matthew-as-Sean clips here on YouTube.

Name Changed to Connect the Innocent

September 2, 2009

Speaking of connecting the dots, an idea occurred to me this morning as I reread the Flight of the Ibis shooting script while brainstorming story thread tie-ins of the new story to the original movies from which Joe Cameron, the protagonist of the current story, was formed.

So, here’s what I’m toying with…

One of the lead characters in the developing story is Orlando LaSalle, a young member of the press who is initially influenced by Joe and then, later, becomes the influencer. So, it occurred to me that Flight of the Ibis had a younger reporter as well — Zack Lereau — who may appear in this story, no longer a reporter, and much older of course. Why, in fact, he’d be older enough to have a son about Orlando’s age … and since they both already have French surnames… maybe Orlando could be Zack’s son

It makes sense, because…

It’s not unreasonable to think that a news reporter could breed a news reporter. For starters. But wait, there’s more:

  • Joe Cameron and Zack Lereau formed a solid interpersonal connection in the last movie — a mutual respect. To have Orlando be Zack’s son could let me jettison the Joe-Orlando relationship past the normal who-are-you-and-should-I-care exposition just by having Joe finding out that this whippersnapper is Zack’s son.
  • The story’s Orlando intro is already designed to show that he is not a crowd-follower: not your typical reporter, which is something that Joe liked about Zack. So it’s believable that the son would share characteristics with the father.
  • Having Orlando be Zack’s son would help me bring Zack into the story without fabricating some contrivance to do so; having Joe meet the son of a man he once knew and respected would engender a desire to reconnect.

The only downfall:

And this is minor, really.  But I like the rhythm of the full name Orlando LaSalle, much more so than Orlando Lereau.  It doesn’t roll off the tongue as smoothly. But I also like Orlando as the reporter’s first name. It just … fits. So, I may have to give him a new first name if I decide to make the Zack-Orlando father-son connection.  Bummer.

Connecting the dots

September 1, 2009

As described briefly on the blog’s About page, even though I’m writing this screenplay to function primarily as a standalone story, the fact is that it is built on characters introduced in two earlier movies — Men of Gray and Men of Gray II  (released internationally as Flight of the Ibis). Both of these ultra-low-budget movies got some good play in festivals and both have acquired a fan base among Caribbean audiences, particularly in Trinidad and Tobago where they were produced.

Consequently, something that producer G. and I have been sensitive to in developing this story is stay true to the original character of Joe Cameron, and to consider the possibility of including other characters that were introduced in the first two movies — both things that we feel would be appreciated by those who are familiar with these earlier films.

Of course, since the first two movies were loaded with high action confrontations between police and criminals, we damn near killed off the whole lot!

But what about those few characters that did survive the mayhem?

Right: Some did survive. But, with this new story, some 16 years of water have gone under their bridges — 19 years from the first Men of Gray movie, in fact. So I certainly have the choice of starting from scratch: ignoring the past and hoping no one notices…

But frankly I like the challenge of not forgetting about it — of staying fully on course with the story that we want to tell, but also infusing it with these historic threads.

Infuse … How so?

Here’s what I’m thinking about:

  1. Influencing Joe’s brain:
    At the very least, the surviving main characters from the first two movies are part of the emotional and psychological makeup of the present day Joe Cameron, so I’ve already built the modern day psyche of this man with those past events and characters as influencers.
  2. Adding interim adventures:
    I’ve also considered what might have occurred in Joe’s life with these characters in the nearly 2 decades since we last saw them; if they were friends, did they continue to be friends? If they were coworkers or subordinates, did they stay that way? If they were his enemies — wait, no: We killed off all the enemies, come to think of it. But you see my point; life goes on, and so I wanted to have some fun exploring the possibilities of how their intertwining lives may have developed since we last saw them, and how that might influence the current plot.
  3. Reintroducing them into MOG3:
    Though not confirmed, this is something we are seriously considering — infusing this story with the present-day embodiment of these past characters. It introduces some pragmatic risks to the production though, so I’m only carefully looking at this option, designing the story in such a way that, if necessary, we could later remove any of these reintroduced characters without tearing at the fabric of the story.

What pragmatic risks would that introduce?

For instance, if we wanted to cast any of the original actors for the roles, do we know that they are available? Are they even alive? Do they look anything at all like they did back then, or would they have changed so much that bringing them back would do more harm than good for the audience? And, since this new movie will likely have a higher budget, it will also have higher international expectations or distribution requirements. That means that, even if we bring back any of these previous characters, we may need to recast them with actors who have stronger international appeal. Would doing so potentially alienate any of the existing fan base?

So, who survived, and what happens to them now?

None of this is set in stone, mind you, but here are some of the characters from Joe Cameron’s life that we didn’t kill off in the first two movies that I’m thinking we could make good use of this time around.

  • Sean Cameron
    sean-cameron-mog1This is Joe’s son. When we last saw Sean, he was about five years old. Now, he would be a young adult. This is the most probable character to be continued in the new story. He would have changed so much in appearance that we are free to cast openly for it. Also, no other character is “required” to have been a continuing influence in Joe’s life like Sean would. At the very least, we would have to explain what happened to him if he is suddenly missing from Joe’s life now. I apologize — I don’t recall the name of the young actor who played Sean. If anyone knows, please shout it out in the blog comments.
  • Kelly Shepherd
    TLK-MoG2Played by Tricia Lee Kelshall, Kelly was the one female on Joe’s police anti-narcotics “Ibis Squad.” In watching Men of Gray II – Flight of the Ibis, we get the sense that there is some romantic attraction between them, or at least by Kelly, but it remains unspoken: unrequited. Joe’s wife dies early on in that story, so we are not surprised when Joe’s focus is elsewhere.  However, as the movie ends, as Joe and Kelly walk off into the proverbial sunset (in fact literal sunset, as I recall), they are symbolically holding hands with little Sean in between them, and each holding on to the boy’s hands. I suspect that viewers would like to think that Joe and Kelly got together somewhere beyond that sunset. So, I’m playing with that idea now — that they became briefly, but intensly, involved romantically shortly after we last saw them, with each going their own way, with one or both of them remarrying. Now, Joe enters the story as a single man with no romantic connections, and no apparent interest in one. But what happens if, after many years of living abroad, Kelly suddenly shows up, and sparks are flying?
  • Jason
    Cauri-MoG2Jason (Cauri Jaye) was the rookie Ibis Squad cop from Men of Gray II. I have a couple angles I’m thinking about with Jason. We know from the first movie that he is “once bitten, twice shy” personified. So, perhaps he became afraid or disillusioned with the law enforcement business, and has left it long behind. What happens if his old mentor Joe suddenly shows up asking him to work with him again? He might accept, but what if he has become a pacifist instead? What if he is philosophically at odds with Joe’s radical anti-crime strategies? If Joe does persuade him to reenlist, I’m considering having Sean be directly involved at one pivotal moment in the story that involves innocent people being killed by Joe’s team due to some bad intelligence, tearing Jason up emotionally. Or maybe he just gets killed, I don’t know. Lots of options here. 😉
  • Zack Lareau
    Michael-MoG2Zack, who was played by Michael Cherrie, was a youthful, intelligent, and likeable newspaper reporter in Men of Gray II. it seems doubtful that he would still be doing the street beat after all these years. Since the story has several press characters, one thought was to make him a chief editor or perhaps a TV anchorman. An idea that I like even better: He is now an attorney … and could perhaps become Joe’s attorney when the world turns against him late in the second act.

 We’ll see…

Being There….From Here: Remote Location Research

August 28, 2009

Once further funding is in place, I’m hoping to do a story research trip to Trinidad and Tobago, which is where we will likely be shooting the entire movie. But while I’m creating this story from my home office in LA, I already need a strong sense of the geography, culture, and environment to help me make the story more realistic and to take full advantage of the rich diversity of that land.

From LA? How do you do that?

There are a few things helping me to have a leg up in envisioning the locale while my legs are still down here in California:

  1. Personal experience
    In the ’90s, I traveled and worked in Trinidad three times, and also lived there with my family for nearly 10 months. I find that there is no better way than being there to pick up on many things that can influence the story and how you shoot the movie. For example, while I was living there, producer G. Anthony Joseph (Trinidadian by birth) took me to a pan yard. This is a behind-the-scenes Carnival experience that the average Carnival tourist would not even know about, and it impressed me as a fantastic location for a movie scene. A pan yard is essentially a rehearsal area set up weeks or months in advance of Carnival by the large orchestras of steel drum musicians that compete around that time. This particular pan yard was a dimly lit open area behind a dilapidated cinderblock truck repair shop in a light industrial district, surrounded by rusty, corrugated steel fencing. What an experiential contrast to what then transpired there! The aural sensation of being directly in the middle of one of these 80-plus member percussion bands is indescribably exhilarating, and the simple yet precisely choreographed rhythmic movement of the musicians is hypnotizing to watch. Whether such a steel drum rehearsal is just a creative backdrop to a scene or becomes central to the drama of the scene itself, it would be an intriguing and memorable experience for the viewer — one that I would never have dreamed up had I not been there to experience it. I could give you a dozen more examples of culturally specific dialogue, locations, and events that ended up in Men of Gray and Flight of the Ibis (both shot entirely in Trinidad and Tobago) because I was influenced by things I experienced while living there before shooting began.
  2. Book and newspaper research
    This movie will be seasoned with many historical and cultural references that will make the story more personal and meaningful for viewers from that region. To make the references appropriate and relevent, I’ve been absorbing just about any book I can get my hands on related to the history, politics, culture, dialects, and geography of Trinidad and Tobago, using that input to enrich my understanding of the land and people.  
  3. Online resources
    I’ve got a list of great sites I can give you that would be useful for anyone doing geographic research on locations worldwide. And there are several other sites specific to Trinidad and Tobago that I turn to regularly to immerse myself as much as possible in the hot local issues regarding the economy, politics, social infrastructure, and crime situation. As the list of reference links would be rather long — and yet very interesting — I’ll devote a post or page to this in the future.
  4. Map-oholism
    One blog reader asked about the maps that they’ve seen on the wall in the story structuring board photos I posted here. Yes, they are part of my story process. In fact, what you could not see in those pictures is that the walls of my office are almost completely covered in maps of Trinidad and Tobago — one way of immersing myself in the geography while I’m creating a story. It started off with just a couple of smaller maps like these…Map-1
    … which were helpful, but didn’t have nearly enough detail to give me more than a geographic overview. So, I added a couple of larger maps, one that details the terrain and this one below, which is large enough (about 3′ x 4′) to list just about every town in the country and identifies the major roads:Map-2
    But, since much of this movie will take place in specific areas or along specific streets in the northernmost third of Trinidad, I really needed a street level understanding so that, if someone in this story is, let’s say, following a suspect into a neighborhood, I’ll have real street names to draw from in appropriate neighborhoods with the right kind of topographical features. For that, I’ve started building out a gigantic map of the primary population areas in which I needed that level of detail. I keep expanding the map as the story develops.  As you can see here, it’s presently about 8 feet wide and 4 feet high …Map-big
    …and displays as far West as Chaguaramas, as far North as the north coast, as far South as Chaguanas (I’ll eventually extend it to San Fernando), and it goes as far East as … well, as far as I could go before my window got in the way, which is just short of Sangre Grande.  As you can imagine, this detailed map has been useful in plotting out very specific locations. So, for instance, if I’m envisioning a car chase that would start downtown and end up on on Saut D’ eau Road a couple kilometers north of Saddle Road …Map-big-XCU…I can know exactly what the terrain is and what possible escape routes the suspects might take.  Thanks to satellite imagery available online, I can even identify houses, pastures, patches of woodland, etc. that I can employ in my vision of where the scene might occur:

    It may not turn out to be the location in which the scene gets shot, but having a real location in my mind from which to model the geography of a scene helps me to design a richer, more dimensional and plausible moment.  And it’s a fun way to decorate a wall.  😉

None of this is an adequate substitute for the immersive experience of actually being there for story research in person and in the current year, but all these research activities are valid and useful things that I might have done anyway, even if I’d already done the field research.