Tag: United States

An Interview With Film Producer David Mandel


David Mandel is the producer of the film Cold Turkey which stars Peter Bogdanovich, and Cheryl Hines. He also  is the CEO of Young Gunner Films; here is a link to his website:
Q: What made you interested in filmmaking?

A: I just grew up loving movies. That and reading. But as I got to learn more about filmmaking, I discovered it was a collaborative process. I enjoyed writing (and still do), but it’s very solitary. And I love working with people: sharing ideas, solving problems, even arguing.
In a lot of ways it’s much more impressive when a really great film comes together, as opposed to a great novel. Of course, part of the problem is that making movies is never quite as enjoyable as watching them. But I don’t know of too many other jobs where you get paid to be creative and to work with an interesting set of talented people. And I really enjoy how challenging filmmaking is.

Q: What is Cold Turkey about?

A: In a nutshell: Family dysfunction. It’s about a wealthy family getting together for Thanksgiving. It’s the first time in 15 years that the patriarch (played by Peter Bogdanovich) and his three adult children (Sonya Walger, Alicia Witt and Ashton Holmes) have all been under the same roof. As they all chip away at each other psychologically, the careful lies they’ve been telling themselves start to crumble.

Q: What made you interested in producing it?

A: I’ve known Will Slocombe, the writer-director, for almost 20 years. And I’ve known Graham Ballou, the other producer, for almost 10. We’ve worked together before and so it was a really easy decision to work with them again!

Q: How did you go about getting the funding to produce it?

A: I didn’t really! Most of the funding was already there by the time Will and Graham asked me to come on board and help produce it. And thank god, financing is my least favorite part of being a producer.
We were on set during production, shooting a Kickstarter video to raise the finishing funds, when we heard that a couple of investors would come in and help us finish the film.

A: What makes it different from other dysfunctional family reunion films?
The story’s very personal to Will, it’s full of real characters that you don’t usually see on screen. The actors all really responded to the script and I think their performances really elevate it.

Q: Who are some of your filmmaking influences?

A: The Coen Brothers, Wes Anderson, David Lynch. I don’t love all of their movies, but they’ve made a few of the ones I love most.
There’s something so specific yet universal to their films. Their characters, their dialogue, their directing.
I try to remind myself that even these guys – who I admire and would trade places with in a heartbeat – have made some not-so-great films. It’s really tempting to think they’re flawless and hit home runs each time, but it’s just not the case. Even Spielberg makes shit every now and again.

Q: What is your oddest on set story?

A: Haha, I’ve a bunch! I’ll go with one that doesn’t include brushes with the law.
I once had an actress come to set in the morning, walk straight up to me, and burst into tears. She fell on her knees and literally begged me not to make her work that day. In front of other cast members. It was surreal. For a second I felt like some sort of horrible monster.
Turns out she had a bad case of food poisoning.

Q: Do you think talent or connections are more important in the film industry?

A: Oof, that’s a tough one. Short answer: you’ve got to have a healthy dose of both. What good is talent if you’ve got no one to share it with, to collaborate, to learn from?
What good are connections if everyone is “talentless?”
Long answer:
“Talent” is a dangerous word. I used think talent meant you were naturally gifted at something, and therefore didn’t have to work hard at it. That’s a bad line of reasoning. You’ve got to work hard, especially in an industry this competitive. You’ve got to be willing to fail, and fortunately there are countless examples of filmmakers who didn’t succeed with their first, their second, etc. film. And again, film is great because it requires you to work with people. A talented person in this industry is not some genius who does it all himself; it’s someone who has a good team working alongside him.
I’ve gotten work because of friends and I’ve made great friends because I forced myself to work with strangers. I wouldn’t say I’m very “connected,” and yet I’ve still gotten to work on some great stuff.

Q:  What would you change about the film industry?

A: Ha! How much time have you got?

There’s a really unfortunate strain of dishonesty that runs through most things. I’ve often had conversations where I just didn’t believe what the other person was saying. Most folks don’t like being the bearer of bad news or giving negative feedback. I think a lot of the cliche of Hollywood phoniness is a result of that behavior.
There’s a lot of fear and aversion to risk. It feels like there are a lot of norms and rules in place to keep people from trying new things, or just getting regular things done.
And lately it seems people in the industry are more interested in going to meetings, events, parties, conferences, and festivals – instead of actually making movies. The means have somehow become the ends.
How would I change those things? I don’t know. I think the best tactic is to just avoid those aspects of the industry. The good news is that every day it’s getting easier to make films without being a part of “the industry.”

Q: If you could pick a famous director to direct your life story who would it be?

A: Hands down: the Coen Brothers. I’d have to botch a crime or somehow be involved in an illegitimate activity gone wrong.
They’ve made three of my absolute favorite movies. And what’s so incredible about them is that they’ve created this body of work that spans so many different ideas and tastes. I’m a huge Big Lebowski fan. And if you randomly meet a fellow fan, it’s almost like reuniting with a lost member of your congregation. There’s an instant bond because you both quote the same lines, etc. And it’s incredibly annoying to any non-Lebowski fans around you.
But there are other people who love the Coen Brothers and can’t stand that movie. I’m not particularly big on Barton Fink, or Hudsucker Proxy, but I know people who have the same intense love of those films that I have for the Dude. And I think that’s a really impressive accomplishment.
I think if the Coens wrote and directed the story of my life, they’d probably have me say things that people generations from now would be quoting, and I really like the thought of that.
Hell, I’d give an arm just to be a supporting character in a Coen Brothers film!


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 Richard Thomas

richard t

Richard Thomas writes the travel column A Big Day Out for South Wales Evening Post. He is also the author of “The Loss of Flight 19 – Is There a UFO Base inside the Bermuda Triangle?” Here is a link to his website:


Q:  When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

A: I think I’ve always wanted to be a writer of some sort. When I was child, however, I thought I’d be a science fiction writer like H.G. Wells or Arthur C. Clarke. For a long time I wanted to be a script writer for television and film like another one of my heroes Nigel Kneale, who penned the Qutermass stories for the BBC and Hammer Films. Kneale is probably best remembered today for his third Quatermass story, Qutermass and The Pit, which is kind of the original Prometheus. Riley Scott even admits Kneale’s influence on his Alien prequel in his DVD commentary. Basically the story is about a Martian invasion which was stalled five million years ago. I don’t want to spoil the film for people who haven’t seen it, but Kneale and other science fiction writers were writing about “ancient astronauts” long before the History channel series.

Q:  . What is the overall theme of your column “A Big Day Out?

A: It doesn’t have anything to do with the paranormal or any of the other alternative subjects I’m more known for online. Basically, the column involved me visiting museums, castles, cinemas, leisure centres and other fun places to go to on the weekends. I wrote this my local newspaper the South Wales Evening Post for about three years, by which time it had really run its course. I also wrote a similar column for the newspaper’s monthly magazine, Swansea Life. Sometimes, however, as was the case at Swansea Museum and Oystermouth Castle I’d sometimes come along a ghost story I could include in my column to make it more interesting for me to write about. For anybody who would like to take a look all of my columns are posted at www.abigdayout.info. Q:  What made you interested in writing about paranormal activities?

A: I think it was my fascination with science fiction which ultimately led to me writing about the paranormal. I was a huge fan of shows like Doctor Who and The X-Files, as well as Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysteries World, a paranormal-themed documentary series hosted by the late science fiction author. Nigel Kneale, who I mentioned before, didn’t only write the Qutermass tales he is best remembered for today. He also wrote a TV play called “The Stone Tape”, a term that that will be familiar to ghost hunters. What they might not realise, however, was that the theory that ghosts could be 3D recordings captured in the stonework of a building was first introduced by Kneale in his 1972 script. Q:   What made you interested in writing “The Loss of Flight 19 – Is There a UFO Base inside the Bermuda Triangle?”

A: I was asked to write a series of short ebooks about different UFO cases by Bretwalda Books, who published my first two books Para-News and Sci-Fi Worlds. The disappearance of Flight 19 in 1945 has always been one of my favourite mysteries. One theory is that the planes were abducted by aliens, so I thought it would be interesting to include the case in the UFO Files ebook series. Readers can buy the ebook on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Loss-Flight-19-Bretwalda-ebook/dp/B00BCIAQDK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1394326501&sr=8-1&keywords=richard+thomas+flight+19



Q:  What evidence is there that there is a UFO base in the Bermuda Triangle?

A: In Unearthly Disclosure (2000) best selling author Timothy Good disclosed information given to him by “a senior reporter in Washington, DC,” who, in turn, received it from “a senior US Air Force officer”, about the existence of extraterrestrial bases on the Earth. Good writes: “According to the officer, aliens have been coming to Earth for a very long time. Following the Second World War, they began to establish permanent bases here, in Australia, the Caribbean, the Pacific Ocean, the Soviet Union and in the United States.” The reference to the Caribbean is interesting as this is where a portion of the Bermuda Triangle is located. Since the time of Christopher Columbus strange lights have been reported in the region known as the Bermuda Triangle and ships and planes continue to go missing without a trace. 6. Who was the most interesting character you have interviewed in the course of your UFO research? It is difficult to pick one but the interview I’m most proud of is the one with the Mac Tonnies, who sadly died in 2009. Me and Tonnies didn’t agree about a movement called Transhumanism, but I think when two people who disagree try to out think each other instead of name calling, it makes for a fascinating interview. You can read my interview with Mac Tonnies here: http://binnallofamerica.com/rr12.26.8.html Q:  Have you ever had a personal UFO encounter?

A: There were other factors too that led to me writing about the paranormal besides just being a science fiction fan. When I was a teenager I had a UFO sighting which led to me becoming increasingly obsessed by strange phenomena, alternative history and conspiracies. Read about my UFO sighting here: http://www.para-news.com/2010/12/ufos-over-swansea-bay.html Q: , Why do you think people are hesitant to believe in UFOs?

A: I’ve pondered this for a long time and come to the conclusion it is for the same reason many people had difficulty coming to terms with the British TV personality and charity fundraiser Jimmy Savile being exposed as a prolific pedophile. People basically want to believe what the authority figures on the TV tell them to believe. It doesn’t matter how much evidence exists to prove the contrary. Conspiracy researchers like David Icke were talking about Savile’s activities for years before he died, but they were just laughed at. It ultimately took a documentary on the UK’s Channel 4 for the laughing to stop. Until the mainstream media across the board stop treating UFO stories as just entertainment, people will continue to not take the topic seriously. Q:  What sort of UFO research have you done?

A: Lots of reading. In my book collection I have everything from Donald Keyhoe’s flying saucer books from the 1950s right up to books published this year. I prefer to read older books, though, and whenever I start researching a particular alleged incident or sighting, I always start with the first book to document that case. For instance, The Interrupted Journey by John G. Fuller, which first brought the Betty and Barney Hill abduction case into public attention is one I’ve been reading lately. I’ve also interviewed many other authors and researchers, as well as witnesses about their experiences. Q:  What has been the most challenging thing you have ever written about?

A: The most difficult case I’ve written about would have to be the alleged Aztec incident. This allegedly happened in 1948, in Aztec, New Mexico. Although the crash supposedly happened the year after the more famous Roswell Crash, Aztec was the first flying saucer crash story to break into public consciousness following the publication of a best selling book by gossip columnist Frank Skully in 1950. Basically the case has some good merits, including a possible crash site that has been discovered, but the credibility of the case was poisoned when it was revealed that the original source for the information about the crash were two con men. My gut feeling is that the Aztec crash story may have been invented or at least promoted to distract UFO researchers from looking into Roswell. For 30 years UFO crashes were almost completely ignored by the UFO research community following the Aztec crash being debunked. Readers can get all the details in my ebook The Aztec UFO Crash: http://www.amazon.com/The-Aztec-Crash-Bretwalda-Files-ebook/dp/B00BBEBFNA/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1394324991&sr=8-3&keywords=The+Aztec+UFO+Crash


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 Comedian Matt Nagin



Matt Nagin is a comedian, writer and actor; here is a link to his website:



Q:  When did you know you were funny?


A: I recently watched an old home video from when I was seven years and pretended to be Mahatma K. Gandhi. The fact that I was doing an impression at this young age shows that on some level the need to entertain has always been integral to my identity.


I also remember being a real showboat at my Bar Mitzvah. It was a shared Bar Mitzvah. To save money and increase efficiency two other children were Bar Mitzvahed with me. But I remember outshining them and really singing my Haftorah portion like I was auditioning for American Idol.


Hence, while I didn’t perform standup until seven years ago, humor has always played a preeminent role in shaping my existence. I’ve used it to fend off bullies, pick up women, improve my relations with my family, deal with a devastating chronic illness. I even used humor during my grandpa’s eulogy!


That being said, I’m not sure I ever KNEW I was funny. There was an overall sense I had potential, but I never KNEW for CERTAIN. To this day I still wonder, at times, if it’s an illusion. Just because I say I’m a comic doesn’t mean it’s accurate. People can call themselves whatever they want. Then, too, you question your priorities. Why am I even going out on stage every night? I could be doing something important…like joining The Peace Corps.


I think this self-doubt and self-questioning is critical to the development of many artists. If I KNEW I was funny I wouldn’t have the same drive to perform. For it would already be PROVEN.


It doesn’t matter that I’ve gotten up on stage more than a thousand times over the past seven years and quite often have terrific sets. It doesn’t matter that I had a very successful one man show that obtained four star reviews. Even after a set where I kill, and go home feeling great, the next day I’ll wake up, go back to a club or open mic, and have to prove myself over again. Comics spend their lives CONVINCING THEMSELVES that they are funny. And, in the end, you’re only as good as your last show.



Q:  What kind of day job do you have and how does it influence your comedy?


A: I work as an Adjunct Professor of English Composition. This job has helped my comedy in a number of ways: it has helped me be more expressive; it has taught me the importance of conveying matters in a way that is simple and lucid; it has given me confidence talking to a group of individuals from diverse backgrounds; and it has inspired me to devise a myriad of strategies to relate to an audience.


A critical challenge with being a teacher and a comedian is these are two vastly different worlds. I often go over feminist theories in one of my classes yet I discuss raw sexual encounters with a series of women I explicitly portray as doltish in my standup. One persona does not neatly overlap with the other.


A College Professor is a very strong persona; you are expected to convey a certain level of professional distance and objectivity while in that role that is almost directly oppositional to what is expected from a comic. Most comics unveil what is deepest and most personal—they try to eliminate anything like a professional distance. Plus, they often act like fools; another polar opposite to the prototypical highly intelligent lecturer in a tweed jacket.


Q:   How do you deal with a heckler?


A: Many standups fear and/or despise hecklers. I consider a heckler a gift. The reason for this is that in most cases the audience gives you carte blanche to make this rude intruder look foolish. I have always been able to think quickly on my feet, and am willing to be honest in the moment about my own flaws, as well as being perceptive about the flaws of others, so I do great with hecklers. Some of my best sets have involved making hecklers look foolish. This could also be partly the result of my teaching background—as an instructor you learn how to keep troublemakers in line.


Incidentally, I’m also not a big believer in having prepared heckler material—it seems better to respond in the moment. Stock lines seem too forced. It is like a guy using a pickup line at a bar. Few women take such a wannabe Lothario seriously. I think you are better off being authentic and responding honestly and authoritatively. There are different opinions on this, of course, as with everything, but the critical element is that the comic must win the battle with the heckler. If not it is the kiss of death.


I remember one of the few tough sets I had when it was pretty much a tie. The reason is I was being heckled by a grandma. Female hecklers, in general, are trickier for a male comic. The reason is if a comic eviscerates a female heckler he can easily come across as a total jerk. These feelings are only compounded when the heckler is a grandma. No one wants to see someone rip apart a nice old lady. Well, this old lady screamed out “not funny” during an edgy joke and mocking her in a way that didn’t come across as too cruel yet enabled me to continue the show was challenging. That was probably my toughest heckler in recent memory—not because of what she said so much as because of what she represented to a lot of audience members.


Q:  What is your strangest teaching story?


A: My first year teaching, at a local community college, I had a student with Tourette’s Syndrome in a racially-diverse remedial class. Her condition was such that she could not control the urge to yell out racial epithets. Needless to say the other students hated her. Every day the class was on the verge of a race riot. Because she had a medical note specifying she couldn’t control what she blurted out I had to be sensitive to her condition. At the same time, I had to keep in mind that she was pissing off the entire class in a highly disruptive fashion.


I tried to suggest she do her best to control her condition which only seemed to make matters worse. The class was a nightmare. Every day was jarring. I’d routinely kick students out. I had them all sign behavioral contracts stipulating that certain poor behaviors would get them an F. I gave surprise quizzes and complex homework assignments in a futile attempt to gain control of the classroom dynamic.


Then, one day, during another heated exchange, where I threatened to fail one student who was being rude to the girl with Tourette’s, he stood up and said that if I didn’t pass him he’d come into school and shoot me. He went on to describe how he’d do it graphically. Given all the school shootings at the time that was a very endearing threat. Then he stormed out and slammed the door.


Remarkably, he ended up passing the class. Not because his intimidation worked. I would rather die than lose integrity. But because, in spite of his behavioral problems, his writing was at a level that was ready to move onto the next class. It was terribly inappropriate behavior and, in retrospect, I should have reported him to the Dean’s office. But he probably moved on from it, and, hopefully, never threatened to kill any of his other instructors.


Q:  What are some key ingredients for strong comedic writing?


A: One key ingredient for strong comedic writing is it has to fit the persona of the performer. What is funny in one person’s voice is not funny at all in another’s. Anyone can write a joke. So the critical element that separate’s comedians, in my opinion, is the stage persona, the way they convey a joke, the delivery, the particular charm of the individual.


Another key element with comedic writing is timing. The punchlines need to come in unexpected places. The set needs to play against expectations, to create disruption, to build contrast, and to develop in such a way that the audience cannot see where precisely the performer is taking them. This can all be established in the writing.


A: Yet another key element of comedic writing is depth. When a performer has depth in his set, when he really conveys something of substance, it stands out from the endless performers who merely try to be amusing.


Q:  Of all the people you have opened for, who was the funniest in person?

A:I am reluctant to answer this question directly—because I hate to pick favorites. But some of the funniest individuals in person are not who you would expect. I think being funny off-stage is almost a separate art and some are better at that then they are on stage with prepared material. I know performers who can riff brilliantly off stage an entire hour and have it be better than what most comics take fifteen years to come up with.


Q:  Who are some of your comedic influences?


A: I try to be influenced from all areas—film, painting, writing etc. My favorite filmmaker is Stanley Kubrick, and I was hugely influenced as an artist and human being by Kubrick’s dark sense of humor, his psychoanalytic streak, and his cynical perspective on mankind’s foibles. Films like Dr. Strangelove, The Shining, and A Clockwork Orange, all mix the humorous and the disturbing in ways that have always intrigued me. Woody Allen was another huge influence as I feel I am in the tradition of neurotic Jewish self-loathing intellectuals—only I would say my sensibility is much filthier. Obviously, I am not in his league—he is a brilliant filmmaker and was a terrific comic—but I like to learn from what I consider the best. Other standups I really enjoy are Sarah Silverman, Bill Burr, Don Rickles, and Gilbert Gottfried.


Q:  What about human nature is fundamentally comical?


A: I think humor is a natural defense against the tragic. I am sure Jews during the Holocaust were telling each other one-liners. My 94 year old grandma told me that what helped her family get through the Great Depression was a sense of humor. Not savings. Not stories. Not love. Not family. Humor.


Wherever there is the most sorrow and anguish there is the greatest need for humor. We are currently in a very troubling era; global warming, a country ruled by a military-industrial complex, corrupt politicians subservient to corporate interests, bailouts for corporate criminals who have destroyed the national economy, unheard of infringements of civil liberties—the list goes on. In such an era, humor is essential as a means of coping, synthesizing and responding to the collective madness.


But, really, in any era, there is a need for humor. For human life is so fragile. It all goes by before you know it. We are at the mercy of bowel movements, urination, snot, body odor, sexual emissions, and come into the world helpless and then go out of it the same way. We pretend to have great importance when we are on a rock hurtling through space at more than 67,000 miles per hour. Meanwhile, our incomprehensibly vast galaxy that is but one of hundreds of billions of similarly massive galaxies. Given all these realities, how could you not see our reality as inherently comic?


Q: Are there any subjects you consider off limits?


A: I once had the opportunity to talk with Robert Klein and ended up discussing the same question. He essentially said that you can joke about anything. No topic is taboo. But he felt that if you are going to do jokes about very sensitive topics like 9/11 or child prostitution, say, the material had to be that much more hilarious.


So, to answer your question, no, I don’t feel any topic is off limits. That said, some topics will be easier to develop material from than others. But any topic, to me, is fair game. It all comes down to execution.


Q:  Will you tell me a blogger joke?


A: Many people are very upset the NSA is spying on us. All communication is potentially being monitored by this agency. Nothing is completely personal. But this doesn’t bother me at all. My one hope is that the NSA will start reading my blog. No one else is.


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


An Interview With Lucid Practice Owners Paz Romano and Brian Levine

Paz Romano and Brian Levine own Lucid Practice, which is a website that offers useful information on yoga, travel and wellness; here is a link:


Q: What is Lucid Practice?

A: Lucid Practice is a community for our readers to live, learn, and give. Anything and everything from our daily practice is brought forward for conversation. By practice we mean daily thoughts, activities, captivating books and websites, to some of our opinions on love, faith, and life. We would like to help our readers “stay lucid” on their journey throughout life.

Lucid Practice is a little piece of positive energy. It’s a ripple. How far will it spread? We don’t know but we’re excited. We hope our readers will find http://www.lucidpractice.com to be a useful daily resource for living a more loving, conscious, healthy, lucid life. We focus on yoga, travel, wellness, and art.

Q: What inspired you to start it?

A: Lucid Practice began as a “blog journal.” We intended to keep record of our thoughts and of the lucid articles and videos we came across day to day. We thought Lucid Practice would serve as a central hub of positivity and sharing that we could always refer back to. Additionally, we thought that others might benefit as well.

However, we never imagined that http://www.lucidpractice.com would be having such a positive impact on so many readers in such a short period of time.

We’re grateful and have enjoyed sharing our thoughts and hearing from readers to create connections and foster conversations that matter.

Q: How can yoga make the world a better place?

A: In Sanskrit, the word “yoga” means “to yoke.” Yoga is a process of self enquiry. Yoga is a process of yoking our body, mind, and breath. With consistent practice, we feel more connected to ourselves, to those around us, and to God and/or the universe.
In this sense, yoga can yoke people together. We feel that if people are at peace with themselves and truly aware of their actions, they will be selfless and their actions will not be contingent upon their own ego.
Yoga is a method of purifying one’s self. Unskillful thoughts and actions that have become patterns in life can be brought to attention and reflected upon. The Tao Te Ching eloquently notes, “In the pursuit of learning, something is acquired every day. In the pursuit of the Tao, every day something is relinquished.” By becoming our best selves through yoga, we can all live at peace together and let the world take its natural course.
Q: You make videos of your travel destination; what makes your videos unique?

A: Many of our readers are backpackers and international travelers. We feature travel videos that we think will have a positive impact on our readers. One of our blog contributors, Danielle, has studied film. She’s so talented in an array of artistic mediums and we enjoy sharing her work with our readers.

Also, we’ve recently been uploading clips on YouTube that viewers can’t find anywhere else. We like to blend yoga with music and the early results of this have been decidedly positive.

Q: What kind of training have you had?

A: We participated in an Ashtanga yoga retreat in Koh Phangan, Thailand with our teacher (who we’re still very much connected to) Rory Trollen. During this retreat, our concept of life as we knew it was forever changed. We do not profess to be experts by any means. We are students first and foremost.

We’re not so sure about (well, we’re not so sure about anything) the Western approach of “200 Hour Teaching Training Courses” which can essentially be crash courses designed to make a quick buck for the yoga studio owner. We feel the real training comes from your own consistent, daily practice. We feel the best training is consistent, daily practice and we mean six days a week for several years consecutively.

Who is more qualified to teach: the 200 hour certified yoga teacher who just found yoga 4 months ago or the “uncertified” practitioner who has studied and practiced yoga daily for twenty years?

Q: You both have backgrounds in football, is the football culture accepting of the teachings of yoga?

A: Ten years ago the answer to the question would be drastically different to what it is now. Yoga has become widely accepted. In the Western culture and especially in American football culture, men tend to have a “tough guy” mentality (we know because that was us!) and yoga was seen as contrary to that. This cultural norm has been flipped upside down as more and more NFL players have expressed their gratitude for the practice.

The best athletes in the world practice yoga regularly: Lebron James, Calvin Johnson, Ray Lewis, etc.

Q: How did yoga help improve your game?

A: We both began practicing yoga to become more dynamic athletes. We became more balanced, more flexible, and less prone to injury. We didn’t realize it at the time but now know that mental aspect of yoga can be even more beneficial than the physical.

Overall, we both agree that yoga helped us bring our game to the next level. The proof is in the results: We both helped lead our respective teams to conference championships while being awarded individual accolades that otherwise may not have been possible.

Q: What are the different types of yoga?

A: Yoga is a form of meditation for cleansing the mind, gaining spiritual consciousness, and forming a connection with the One of life. The Bhagavad Gita is one of the core texts of yoga. The Gita is eighteen chapters long and it’s said that in each chapter a different type of yoga is discussed.

While reading the Gita I didn’t necessarily notice eighteen types. I recognized four main branches of the practice: Karma yoga, Bhakti yoga, Raja yoga, and Jnana yoga. In basic terms karma yoga is the yoga of action, bhakti yoga is the yoga of devotion, Raja yoga is the practice of meditation, and Jnana yoga is the yoga of knowledge into practice.

Hatha yoga is the practice we see many people in the West practicing today. It is a form of Raja yoga. Many people associate Hatha yoga or Ashtanga yoga (a type of Hatha practice) with the well-known eight limbs of yoga. One limb of this practice is the physical asana or postures. This meditational practice is changing the world.

Q: How do you decide where to travel next?

A: We usually pick a starting place and have a defined but entirely open and flexible plan. At one point, we were about to book a flight from Beijing, China to Mumbai, India but at the last minute opted to fly to Bangkok, Thailand. One of our favorite aspects of travel is being spontaneous and disregarding cultural norms that most people are used to.

We prefer long duration trips and tend to stay in one location for at least a couple of weeks in order to get immersed in the local culture.

We’re passionate learners, meeting new people and learning about other cultures has taught us that there’s so much more to life than going to a great college, getting a great job, getting married, having kids and settling down. Many Westerners get distracted by “the rat race,” celebrity gossip, slavishly following sports teams, or other activities that to us seem trivial compared to seeing the world and having a positive impact on people.

Q: If a football player scored a touchdown and no one saw it would it score six points?

A: That’s a tough question! Yes he would, we think? Would he celebrate and showboat? That’s a discussion for another day.

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:)

An Interview With Model/Stuntman Shawn Alli


Shawn Alli is a model and stuntman, here is a link to his fan page:



Q: What made you interested in modeling?


A:  Looking back I always wanted to be a Nascar driver, till one day (out the blues) I was asked to be a Model for a friend of mine’s Project. I was so natural and fun to work with that the photographer recommended for me to try out Modeling Field and here I am shooting for International Magazine, Commercials and now slowly working my way up into Acting Field.

Q: What is your strangest work story?

A:  Galli, I got so many of those but the most amazing and fun work story I can remember right of the rocket would be when I was 16 and was sent to spy on my Father. You believe that? My own Mother had my spying on my Father and paid me in M&M’s lol.. A story I can’t forget..

Q: What other kind of jobs have you done and why is modeling better?

A:  I’ve done from cashier work to business’s man work and comparing that to modeling. It is WAY fun and different, I mean you are your own boss and just live in those moments that gets to be captured by the camera for a lifetime, where you can always look back and relate to it.

Q: What is your greatest professional triumph?

A:  My Greatest Professional Triumph was being Ranked #1 in the USA for America’s next top Denim Dude and shooting Aeropostale‘s Commercial.

Q: What was your biggest goal?

A:  Even though I have been Aeropostale’s next denim dude and was Ranked into the top #50 Hottest Male Models in the USA for my Unique looks but YET I have something more thrilling that will be my biggest Triumph for a while. so stay tuned for this ONE since I’m starting to love Acting ;)..

Q: What is your dream modeling job?

A:  My Dream Modeling Job would be to do runway for Dolce & Gabbana, I mean come on who wouldn’t want to?

Q: Is there anything you would not want to advertise?

A:  I’m the Opposite, before I take off from Modeling World I want to be able to make sure that I have advertised everything in the Modeling industry.

Q: What kind of stunt work have you done?

A:  Stunt Work? Now we talking, since I love speed and have owned many race car’s and motorcycle’s which don’t last long since I have a bad habit of either wrecking them or doing something that jeopardizes them.. This might help, few weeks ago, I hit 190MPH in the backstreet quarter mile where I almost “died” I don’t know what I was thinking but HEY what kind of man I be if I don’t love challenges. set up a time and I be there. ” I live my life on Quarter Mile as there’s no tomorrow”.

Q: What photographers would you most like to work with?

A:  Since I love being on front of the Camera. I wish to work with “Yousuf Karsh“…. Darn it. I just looked up he died in 2002, well my 2nd one on the list would be Scott Kelby, just because of how he view photography and is able to bring something Astonishing on the table on all his shoots.

Q: What makes you fame worthy?

A:  Not being conceded but since I get daily compliments on my unique looks then YES that’s what makes me Fame worthy, I mean come on, let’s face it. Industry will only represent you if you are capable of unique looks, which I am thankful to my Parents for giving me Middle Eastern “chromosomes”..



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 Filmmaker Tal Almog


Tal Almog is an Israeli film directors whose short film ILOVE will appear in festivals around the world this year; here is a link to his website:


Q: What made you interested in being a director?

A: When I was a kid, my grandparents owned a movie theatre in our neighborhood, so whenever I needed a refuge, I could always go there and catch a movie for free. Maybe it was due to my grandparents choice to play sweet Hollywood films in order to attract audience, But when the movie was over, I got a new perspective on the world around me and a fresh take on this thing called life.

After a while I wanted to find out for myself how this magic works. Video cameras were too expensive at the time but my grandmother was kind enough to buy me a used stills camera. I couldn’t put it in words back then, But I found that the better I got taking those photos, the better I could explain the world to myself, and sometimes even shaping it the way I wanted it to be.

Up to this day, the world is still too complicated for me to understand, but when I manage to squeeze it into this miniature world called a movie, It appears, even for a short while, to make sense.

Q: What is iLOVE about?

A: It’s a romantic comedy about a love triangle between a girl, a boy and his smartphone. After receiving a smartphone as a birthday present from his girlfriend, Eric finds it hard to put down. Eventually his loving girlfriend wants to get her boyfriend’s attention back so she asks him to put the phone away. This is when the smartphone starts to get jealous and plans out a digital revenge on her in order to win Eric’s attention back.

Q: What gave you the idea for the film?

A: My girlfriend. She always complains about how much time I spend with my cell phone, and how little time with her. Since I think I’m not the only one that has an affair with his phone, I figure it could make a great film if we actually turn the smartphone into a character, give him his own personality and have him fight for what matters the most – having it’s owners undivided attention. It’s almost natural for most people these days to spend more time with their mobile devices instead of their loved ones. We tell ourselves that we are multitasking but eventually we are all just addicted to this technology.

I personally, would love to spend more time just staring at the sky and less time in front of screens so I think this film might remind people how important that is.

Q: Why do you think people like their phones so much?

A: There is a whole science behind those phones that make them addictive but I think the biggest problem is us, the users. We keep forgetting it’s only a tool that is supposed to help us connect more easily and become addicted to the shiny screens even when there is no real reason to check them. It’s a global addiction issue and I believe now is a good time to admit we have a problem.

Q:. What film festivals can we see it in?

A: Paterson falls film fest, USA,  Fastnet film fest, Ireland, Speechless film fest, USA, Fear No film fest USA, Icon film fest, Israel,Identities film fest, Israel.

Still waiting for answers from Interfilm Berlin and several other film festivals in the US and in Europe. wish me luck 🙂

Q: What is the most challenging thing about being a filmmaker in Israel?

A: Israel is a young country than is often under threat by it’s surrounding neighbors. Unfortunately the reality is that 1 third of our country budget is spent on our army that is supposed to protect our borders. When a country spends that much money on tanks and airplanes, art doesn’t figure high on the list of priorities, and when films are eventually funded they often tell the story of the conflict with the palestinians or other war stories. Nevertheless, the Israeli film community is getting stronger every day, and makes more and more exciting genre films that are immensely successful in film tests worldwide. My hope is that in the next decade along with the peace process, Israel will become a source of innovative filmmaking. I do believe we have a lot of beautiful stories to tell and using imaginative screenwriting together with international co productions might be the key for a new wave of Israeli cinema.

Q: What major themes do you try to touch on in your work?

A: As a director I have embraced the genre of romantic comedy. I have figured that love – the most challenging and rewarding subject in life is also the one most worthy of making films about.

Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it influence your work?

After graduating from Tel Aviv university film school I have opened my own production company in order to be able to finance and direct the films I had in mind. In my work I operate very much like Batman – On day time I direct music videos, commercials (Lexus, Pfizer, Nike) and TV documentaries, but at night I turn a switch and make the time to work on my passion projects, which are, for the most part – romantic comedies. After making numerous award winning shorts I have dedicated myself to the making of “Rebound”, a dark romantic comedy which has made it to Cannes 2012. This has made a major change in my career that enabled me to receive offers from bigger clients who were looking for more narrative oriented directors. I can say that my passion projects have contributed to my commercial work as much as it worked the other way around.

Q: What do Americans misunderstand about Israel?

A: Many Americans I get to meet believe that Israel is a lot about the army, anti-terrorism and the conflict with the Palestinians, which is what they pick up from the media. These things are barely present in our everyday life. We have a fascinating culture here and an extremely vibrant lifestyle that is a mix of western and mid-eastern cultures. The best thing for Americans to do is pay a visit and experience Israel for themselves.

Q: Who are some of your directing influences?

A: I know it’s a boring answer, but Steven Spielberg is a huge inspiration for me. His style of directing is something that is so unique, it is impossible to copy, and even today he has a lot to offer. His films are definitely the reason I find cinema to be inspiring and worth all the pain and hard work.

My next project will be my feature film “Shtiglitz”. It is a sci-fi -romantic comedy about a girl who is supposed to go on a date with the man of her dreams. On the night of her date, an alien invasion is breaking in her city. She decides a few aliens are not gonna stop her and leaves her house to meet her man. As you can imagine, Spielberg was an inspiration when I was writing the script…

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