Month: December 2013

An Interview With Actress Janell Islas




Janell Islas is an aspiring actress who appears in the film Scout; here is a link to her IMDB page:


Q: What made you interested in being a performer?


A:  As a child I was always singing, dancing, and citing around the house and in front of family. I used to videotape myself and then show it to my family. Of course then it was funny. Because I loved acting so much I took theater all throughout my school years all the way till high school. I really loved doing theater in high school. I ended up getting a scholarship in theater arts for community c college. So I have been doing and loving acting for a while.


Q: What is Scout about?

A:  Scout is a movie about a rebellious girl who is gothy trying to find her sister. She travels across Texas with a guy and goes through many life experiences.

Q: What role do you play?

A:  In the movie I originally had a different role but they deleted my role, so I ended up getting featured as one of the psych patients that the boy is in the psych ward with.

Q: What is your dream role?

A:  My dream role would be to get a supporting role in Fast & Furious or any major film that is fun and has aloof action. The reason this would be my dream role is because I love action movies. They are so exciting, thrilling, and just capture the audience in the moment.

Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it affect your pursuit of an acting career?
A:  My day job is creating websites and social networking. I have a small website and social media development company called KAZZAM Media. This keeps me busy when I am not filming, but I think filming is taking over right now. My business actually helps me in my pursuit of acting, as I help people in media build their websites and market them, and that gives me a lot of connections in the entertainment business.

Q: To what method of acting do you ascribe?

A:  I studied the Meisner technique throughout school. It was a great way to introduce me into the world of acting, but now I think no matter what method any actor studies, they must know their craft in order to be good. If you do not know your craft, then any technique no matter what will not mean anything if you cannot perform well.

Q: What do you like about Hollywood?
A:  Everything. I am a Texas southern girl, and California and Hollywood is a breath of fresh air. It is huge eclectic, crazy, fun, glitzy, glamorous, and everything else you can think of. It’s exactly what you see on TV when you are young. The only difference is when you are trying to build your acting career Hollywood can be very competitive and harsh on you if you do not do well. But other than that, I LOVE IT!!!

Q: What would you change about it if you could?

A:  I love Hollywood just the way it is. That is what makes it Hollywood. If I could change anything about Hollywood I would only, and everyone would love this, get rid of traffic!. I would also love to make everything Eco friendly around there.

Q: What is your oddest LA story?

9. As far as any odd LA stories, I have one really crazy one but I cannot tell. It’s a secret!

Q: What makes you fameworthy?

A:  I think the thing that makes me fame worthy is the fact that I know my craft. I am a very dedicated hard worker and love acting. I am also very easy to get along with on set, so people like that. I want people to know when they see me on the big screen, that’s Janell Islas, she is such a great actress.


Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)


An Interview With Writer/Producer Ray Starmann


Ray Starmann Is a writer and producer who co owns Sheer Bravado Productions. He is the writer and producer of the web series The Gumshoe and a producer of the film Silverlake Video – The Movie; here is a link to the company’s website:

Q: What is the main concept behind Sheer Bravado Productions?

A: We strive to tell unique stories of significance. Our goal is to create unforgettable moments on screen that highlight the human condition, reminding us of our common humanity. Our films inspire, encourage, expose and challenge the reality, the beauty, the excitement and the mysteries of life.

Q: What is The Gumshoe about?

A: Los Angeles, 1947; NICK MCGRAW, 40, a self-employed, hard-boiled private eye is on the verge of cracking the biggest case of his life, the murder of film actress, Veronica Davis. In the middle of the night, during a violent storm, McGraw is called to his office to speak with reporters who were tipped-off about the case. Unbeknownst to McGraw, the U.S. military is running a top-secret intra-dimensional time warp program from the top floor of his office building. The program is a continuation of Tesla’s defunct 1943 Philadelphia Experiment – After dismissing the reporters from his office, McGraw steps into the elevator as the storm rages outside. Lightning hits a series of strategically placed antennas on the roof; causing the elevator to act as a dimensional super-conductor. McGraw emerges from the elevator and stumbles out to an unfamiliar Wilshire Boulevard and the year…2013.

Q: What sets it apart from other Web-series?
A: The Gumshoe is a story with many facets. It has a science fiction quality to it, a crime/mystery element and also comedy as the greatest generation collides with the jackass generation. I think it’s really different from most things that are being produced right now. It’s a combination of Raymond Chandler, Quantum Leap and the Rockford Files.

Q: You wrote a very successful Hallmark Channel movie called Generation Gap. What is the secret to writing a producible Hallmark movie?

A: I think you have to write a quality, family-oriented script with a message. The characters need to learn something and change for the better as the film progresses.

Q: How does your military experience influence your work?

A: My military experience as US Army officer certainly has given me an understanding of military operations, past and present. It helped me as I co-wrote Citizen Soldiers, a WWII film Sheer Bravado is currently producing. I also wrote a MASH/Catch-22 type military comedy novel called CHARLIE FOXTROT, which is currently on sale on Amazon. Charlie Foxtrot is loosely based on my own experiences as an intelligence officer in Germany at the end of the Cold War and in the Gulf War.

Q: You have worked as a treatment writer for a Touchstone production. What is a treatment and what qualifies one to write them?

A: I actually never worked for Touchstone directly, but wrote a treatment called the Last Halloween that was pitched to them. A treatment is a summary and outline of a film or TV show or series that may be from 2 to 25 pages in length. To be a good treatment writer one must not only be competent at summarizing the story, but be excellent at selling it as well! So, you have to be part writer, part salesperson.

Q: What is Silverlake Video – The Movie about?

A: Silverlake is about Ben, a regular guy, on the verge of losing his video store, who has one day to get a business partner before his lease expires. His day takes a turn for the worse, when his “out of his league” girlfriend leaves a message, proclaiming “We need to talk”. With no where else to turn for moral support, he opens up a Pandora’s Box, when he seeks advice from the local flavor of the neighborhood, Silverlake.

Q: What made you interested in producing it?

A: I thought it was a good story with some definite comedic moments that could be produced for a very low cost.

Q: What is your most memorable celebrity encounter story?

A: When I was in college at Southern Methodist University, I was able to meet Bob Hope and Gene Kelly and speak with them for a few minutes. They were both true Hollywood legends!

Q: What would you change about Hollywood?

A: I would make Hollywood more accessible to aspiring writers and producers. It’s very much a closed club and probably the only business in the world that doesn’t want your business. I would also open it up to creative people of all ages like it used to be. In the last 20 years, Hollywood has become a 20-something business, with results that we can see on the screen. Most good writers and producers must have aged a bit and seen the world to create true high-quality projects.


Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

An Interview With Psychic JoJo Savard




JoJo Savard is a psychic and life coach; here is a link to her website:





Q: When did you realize you were psychic?


A: At five, when I predicted my 2 year old brother’s death. At that age I was already reading cards and hands of family members.


Q: What kind of training did you have in astrology?


A: A Rolls Royce training! Masters degree in astrology from Shri Chandra Swamiji Maharaj Institute plus lots of professional training in numerology, palmistry, meditation and life coaching. I have Personal and Spiritual Development Counselor degree fromThe Ageless Wisdom Institute taught by Michael Benner and accredited by UCLA .


Q: What makes someone intuitive?


A: Someone that is more aware of their soul and the spiritual side of life. Everyone has an intuitive gift but some people have the ability to see the fields of energy in everything, more then others.


Q: What is the strangest question anyone has ever asked you as a psychic?


A: Does your thick blond hair, help your psychic abilities ? Like Samson the biblical character.


Q: What is the most common thing people ask you about?


A: Love and money. They often ask me where can learn more about astrology. I invite them to watch my free weekly video astrology show on my website


Q: How can you tell a real psychic from a phony?


A: The color of their auras. When a psychic has the ability to see the past, then one can rely on  their predictions of  the future.  A real psychic sees the finished painting of one’s life potential and destiny.


Q: What other kinds of jobs have you had and how do they influence your perception?


A: I was blessed to work in my field since I can’t remember. I am a psychic in everything I do, even as a wife and mother. Also being a producer and TV host, author and public speaker, most of my life, gave me a voice, which allowed me to reach many people and uplift their soul energies so they can be free, powerful, healthy and the best they can be.


Q: What is the biggest challenge you face in running your business?


A: For me, in life there is no problems, only solutions. Everything happens for the better good. If it does not work one way, it just means that there is a better way to do it.


Q: What do people misunderstand about what you do?


A: Most of the time people don’t misunderstand they don’t know anything about it!  Real fairies, wizards and psychics are free thinkers, therefore always out of the box in their looks, speech and self expression.


Q: What going to happen to me next Tuesday?


A: As you think as your Tuesday will be. Think grandiose and it will shall be.


Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)



An Interview With Stretch Producer Nila Najand


Nila Najand is a talent manager who is one of the producers of the film STRETCH which stars Ed Helms and opens in 2014; here is a link to her Twitter account:



Q: What made you interested in talent management?


A: I started my career in the industry at a talent agency working in the hosting, special appearances, and music departments.  I was creating marketing decks and attending celebrity events.  The first event was for Timbaland.  Justin Timberlake, Paris Hilton, Ciara, Brandy, Ray J, Jimmy Iovine, Jamie Iovine, and several other celebs attended.  I loved it!  It really didn’t feel like ‘work’.  From there, I entered agent training and started sifting through film and tv projects for the actors, actresses, and athletes the agency represented.  I switched to talent management when I was given the opportunity to produce.  I wanted to keep a small client list and focus on the careers of a few people rather than the thick roster I was handling at the agency.  I enjoy helping them achieve their career goals.


Q: Why did you chose to become a producer?

A: The best part of being an agent was reading the role descriptions and scripts.  It made me want to create.  When Joe Carnahan sent me ‘STRETCH’ and asked if I wanted to learn how it’s done, I couldn’t possibly say no.  If you love movies and TV shows, it really is a dream job.

Q: What is STRETCH about?

A: STRETCH is an action comedy about a down on his luck limo driver (Patrick Wilson) with a gambling debt and only one shift left to pay it off.  He picks up an insane cast of characters including an eccentric billionaire (Chris Pine) who offers to pay off his debt if he fulfills all of his requests, no matter how bizarre they might be.  As our hero is struggling to get through the worst night of his life, he’s also being taunted by man in a shark-skinned suit and a weird tiny mustache (Ed Helms).   We have Jessica Alba, Brooklyn Decker, Ray Liotta, David Hasselhoff, Keith Jardine, Ahman Green, and Randy Couture keeping this film very interesting…completely insane…and absolutely hilarious!

Q: How did you get Ed Helms for the project?

A: We all love Ed Helms for the characters in ‘THE OFFICE’ and ‘THE HANGOVER’ films, but this role is very different.  He’s not a sweet, goofy guy in this film.  That’s why he wanted to do it.  I think people will really enjoy seeing him mess with Patrick Wilson.  He’s such a nice guy in person and it was a lot of fun watching him transform into this character.

Q: What is your oddest work story?

A: : Oh boy, that is a really difficult question to answer without giving away scenes from the film.  I can say this much…Ed Helms is a great skateboarder!  You can ask Shaun White.  I also had fun with fake blood on my knuckles and “punching” Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon – ‘THE WALKING DEAD’).

Q: What makes talent marketable?

A: I find that unique characters/characteristics paired with talent make actors marketable.  I’ve watched countless auditions.  The ones who do things just a little bit differently are the ones that stand out.  Create a character and fully commit to it.  That’s the best advice I can give.

Q:  What makes a movie worth producing?

A: A great script, a great director, and a cast who would love nothing more than to bring those pages to life.

Q: What do you like about Hollywood?

A: Hollywood is a very creative environment.  From picking out the right script to choosing the cast to the time on set to seeing the final edit on the big screen…I love every minute of it.

Q: What would you change about it?

A: With millions of dollars on the line, people tend to take fewer chances.  I’d like to see a few more bold choices.

Q: What is more important, big name talent or a great story?

A:  We’ve all seen films with big name talent and a terrible storyline flop.  If you have a great story (and a great director), big name talent will want to be involved.   The names we have on ‘STRETCH’ are people who love the script and Joe Carnahan.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

An Interview With Chef CiCi


Chef CiCi is a pastry chef whose sweets and drinks will be featured at The Sweet Hour at Nic’s Beverly Hill 453 N Canon Drive in Beverly Hills on Wednesday, December 18th from 7:00 to 9:00 PM; here is a link to her website:

Q: What made you interested in becoming a pastry chef?

A: Baking with my mom when we lived in Johannesburg, South Africa. That’s where it all started!

Q: What kind of training did you have?

A: I attended the Wilton School of Cake Decorating, Valrhona En Route Courses, New School of Cooking & Chef Eric’s Culinary Classroom.

Q: What kind of pastries will you be serving at The Sweet Hour?

A: Budino‘s topped with Créme Fraîche , Carrot Cake Cupcakes, Chocolate Bark, S’mores Cupcakes, Beignets, and a variety of Ice Creams.

Q: What are the drink specials you will be serving?

A: Fresh Lemonade, Virgin Pinã Colada, and Fruit Smoothies.

Q: Will you have vegan and gluten free options?

A: Yes, all of the Cupcakes, Ice Creams and Beignets are vegan! There will be some gluten free cupcakes as well.

Q: What kind of flavors do you like to experiment with?

A: I love experimenting with fruit flavors, seeing which fruits pair together well.

Q: What makes your pastries unique?

A: Majority of my pastries are vegan and people can’t believe they’re vegan. I do not tell them they’re vegan until after they have eaten it. The reaction when I tell them is always great.

Q: What is the next Cronuts?

A: The Vegan Beignets!!!

Q: What has been your greatest triumph as a chef?

A: It would have to be interning at Mélisse, a 2 Michelin star restaurant in Santa Monica. I honestly did not see myself ending up there. I’m very thankful for the opportunity, it’s really great.

Q: If a person was only going to try one desert at The Sweet Hour, what would you recommend?

A: The Carrot Cupcake with a Pecan praline and Vanilla ice cream.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

An Interview With Folk Singer Becky White



Becky White is half of the electro-folk duo Firekeeper; here is a link to the website:


Q: What inspired you to start Firekeeper?


A: Firekeeper started out of playful conversations with Nathan Pundt (drummer, designer & collaborator) while on tour with The Secret Mission.  We had this on-going joke about starting an electro-pop duo until we realized, that sounds really fun!  Part of our idea was to expand our musical potential with various electronics and focus on an intentional integration of multimedia and visual art.  Then we realized, this duo idea gives us some really cool creative freedom that feels inspiring.  Let’s go with it and see what we can dream up for real.  Then the name Firekeeper came to me while on an a beautiful hike on a cliff above the ocean.  Now we’re pretty amazed how far we’ve come with it all.


Q: Who are some of your musical influences? (why)


A: I’ve always been influenced by a full range of musical genres.  As a kid my mom played me Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Band, Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix, Jimmy Cliff, Rolling Stones, CSN&Y  and all those good 60‘s & 70’s hits on vinyl.  I love that stuff. I also got really into the 90’s bands out of the UK at an early age along with punk/indie & alternative rock.


Recently I really love the creativity and authenticity of Bjork, Catpower, Radiohead, Gillian Welch, Woody Guthrie, Sade, Santigold, MIA  – oh yeah, and some newer folks like Oh Daughter, Grimes, and Lord Huron, Sean Hayes and the Be Good Tanyas.


I also grew up around the electronic music scene on the west coast and went on a tour with Bassnectar when he was just starting out and had the good fortune to cross paths with cool underground artists like Random Rab, Papa Chango and Cheb i Sabbah among others.


I’m a student of Indian Classical music as well, and love Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan, Nikhil Banerjee and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, to name a few!


I guess good music draws me it!  If I feel the spirit of the music, that’s the most important thing. I’m also a fan of good hip hop and dance music, I’m always looking for the next cool thing.


Q: What are you hoping to accomplish at Sundance?


A: I’m excited to play at Sundance because it seems like a great nexus of creative people.  I love being in the community of artists of all types.  I also love film and feel like there is so much crossover between sound and image.  Really, Firekeeper strives to cross artistic boundaries and I feel like Sundance Film Festival is the perfect place to share our music and creative visions.  I’m also excited to see various friends and colleagues  – and if I’m lucky, maybe get a run in on some powder 🙂



Q: What is The Great Unknown about?


A: The Great Unknown is about living life to the fullest and not being afraid to surrender to the unknowningness of life.  So much of living and surviving as a musician is being able to continue making music without really knowing what will happen in the future and trying not to be attached to a specific outcome,  like how the logistics of day to day reality will turn out.  It’s not like having a 9 to 5 job.  It’s a path full of adventure, risk and passion.


Q: What trends in music annoy you?


A: As a woman, I am over this idea that female musicians need to fit into a certain mold, model or act; and that as a woman your music is dependent on our marketability.  I don’t go for packaged, pre-calculated, over-marketed music.  I do love beautiful things, but I’m not down with a plasticky sheen.


I love the way music brings people together.  I’m really most interested in authentic creative vision, poetry and unique sounds, not the pitfalls of the corporate capitalistic music industry.


Q: What is your most unusual backstage story?


A: Although I’ve played music my whole life, my studies in college had a focus on marine conservation and I’ve spent a lot of time above (and below) the ocean observing and studying cetaceans, i.e. marine mammals such as orcas, bottlenose dolphins, spinner dolphins, fin whales, grey whales and humpback whales.


My experiences studying these amazing creatures in the natural world have greatly influenced my music.  The magical qualities of the Earth around us and our place within the natural world as humans is a topic that I continue to explore through music and visual art.




Q: Define “folk music”.


A: I think of folk music as the music of the people, of the folks, regardless of class or caste, a place where everyone is welcome. Folk music is passed between people by the oral tradition of singing the songs.  Folk music can also reference world music and the traditional music of regions and tribes.


Folk music is music that can be adapted and transformed.  It has room for people to claim the songs as their own, as folk songs tend to be honest accounts of everyday people facing the realities of life that everyone can relate to.



Q: How did you two meet?


A:  I met Nathan Pundt the same day we moved into a house together with four other mutual friends during my last semester at Prescott College in Arizona.   This big beautiful house was outside of town near the national forest and had an impressive wraparound deck.  We had some great parties there and played a lot of music.  Nathan and I have had many amazing adventures together since.


Q: What has been your greatest professional accomplishment?


A: Writing, recording & producing the Firekeeper album To Wake the Living and making it this far as an independent musician!



Q: What sort of day jobs have you had and how have they influenced your work?


A: I grew up around the restaurant industry, but was never drawn to work with food professionally.  Instead, for a long time I was a naturalist and wilderness guide, taking adults and kids into the backcountry by foot and kayak.  It was rewarding to teach people about the natural world and the earth around them, and I have learned some amazing skills which constantly inform my life and work.  There is a special resilience and passion that comes out of knowing how to survive in the wilderness, and loving it!


I have also worked as a part of various non-profits, working on issues such as climate change and the realities of global economic systems.  These topics have influenced my music and I consider myself one strand in growing movement for social and ecological sanity.


Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)



An Interview With Officiate Bill Russell


Brother Bill Russell Is the Officiate at Alternative Ceremonies; here is a link to his website:

Q: What is Alternative Ceremonies?
A: I perform ceremonies or celebrations that are in any way outside of the traditional mainstream, or that are spiritual but not “religious.” These could range from pet marriages or funerals, motorcycle blessings, military safety blessings, house cleansings…anything where people feel that rituals and ceremonies will provide comfort or imbue success. But I can also perform traditional marriages that are perfectly valid and legal.
Q: What inspired you to start it?
A: I realized that there is something in the human psyche that values the heightened experience of ceremonies but they don’t always want the pat religious ceremony, or it’s not something a traditional clergyman would do. People desire comfort or affirmation in certain situations that they cannot find in traditional mainstream religious bodies. So, I can provide that for them.

Q: What is your educational background?
A: I originally attended a very conservative Baptist bible college, studying for the ministry. But I realized that they seemed to focus on following their own rules more than being godly or spiritual, so I eventually dropped out. More and more I sensed a correlation between religious beliefs and basic human behavior, so when I eventually completed my degree it was in Behavioral Science.
Q: What are your own religious beliefs?
A: I believe in a Higher Power that is not necessarily a “person.” My concept of God is something between the Judeo-Christian “Jehovah” and the Buddhist beliefs. I believe most “religions” acknowledge this power and have attempted to make it rational to human understanding, which is essentially impossible.

Q: Are there any kind of ceremonies you would refuse to do?
A: Anything that would violate basic morality. Anything involving cruelty or torture, for example. Other than that, I’m pretty open-minded.
Q: Why are ceremonies important to people?
A: Excellent question, and one I’m still trying to fully comprehend myself. Essentially, our brains respond to certain things that elevate the human experience beyond the everyday mundane. Ceremonies give a heightened sense of meaning to situations and experiences. And that in turn imbues those experiences with a feeling of comfort or reassurance or euphoria or whatever. And I feel that people want to believe a higher power has blessed their experience.
Q: What is the most unusual ceremony you have ever performed?
A: Pet weddings always seem strange to me. Usually they involve people who don’t have children but desire the experience of hosting a wedding. Of course you can’t get a marriage license from the county clerk, but I create a “certificate” for them and it conveys a sense of legitimacy. But the most unusual was a guy who wanted to marry his car. The man felt very strongly about his car, a feeling so intense he calls it “love,” and a ceremony and a certificate validates that feeling for him. Makes it more special.

Q: You have a background in hypnotherapy, how do you use it in your current work?
A: A big part of hypnotherapy is understanding how people access and process their feelings and emotions from a psychological perspective. So in many instances, this is easily translated to a ceremony or celebration. For example, if a family’s beloved pet dies after 18 years, I can use guided imagery to provide solace and comfort. I’ll invite them to close their eyes, to mentally celebrate good memories, and to send the pet off to an eternal paradise and when they re-open their eyes they are happy and reassured.
Q: Why do you think people object to gay marriage?
A: Honestly, I think it is that some people object to homosexuality in general, and they feel that legalizing same-sex marriage legitimizes being gay and they believe that is wrong. The problem in my opinion is that marriage in this country is primarily a legal entity and only secondarily a religious one. Which is why a minister or priest has to say “by the power invested in me by the state of…” So to deny marriage equality to someone based on religious beliefs contradicts the constitutional right concerning religious discrimination.
Q: Why should my readers hire you?
A: They should utilize me when they want a ceremony or celebration that is in any way outside the mainstream. I will show up in my tux and use my theatrical appearance and spiritual background to lend meaning to your experience. Whether you desire comfort or reassurance or heightened importance, I will provide that. Also, I’m just a pleasure to be around!

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)