Tag Archives: screening

Another Screening (or Enjoying A Film Festival)

I just had the film festival that I run, and the film that I did last year was part of the comedy programing. It was cool to have us in the festival and to get to share our film with more people. It wasn’t the first time we screened publicly, but it was our first film festival. And while it did feel a bit odd to have the film in a festival I run (I have nothing to do with programming so it’s fine), I was still so proud to have a film festival laurel on our movie poster.

We have been busy submitting our film to multiple festivals, but many of them won’t let us know if we got in or not for a while. But we did hear back from another festival besides the Beverly Hills Shorts Festival and we found out that we got in! We got into the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival and we screened there this week!

This screening was held at Regal Cinemas at LA Live, so it was going to be another screening on a big screen. And we were going to be in a block with other short films, so I was happy to see what other films were in our programming block and to support other filmmakers.

There was a pretty decent turnout for the screening. We were worried because it was on a weekday afternoon, but the theater was over half full and everyone was so excited to see the films. We were toward the end of the program, so I tried to relax and enjoy the other films that were screening.

I’m not sure if we were a block of short films or comedy short films, but it was an interesting mix of films. Some of them were a bit more out there than our film is (ours is pretty down to earth and realistic), but there were things that I really enjoyed with each of the films that were in the hour long program with us. When our film played, I couldn’t focus too much since I still don’t love to watch myself act. But I was very happy that we got a lot of laughs and some of those were in spots that we hadn’t gotten laughs in before.

Once the program was done, we headed out of the theater quickly since the next screening was going to start right after ours ended. There wasn’t a Q&A or anything, but most of the filmmakers were gathering right outside the theater. There was a step and repeat set up so of course I had to get photos with my writer/co-star and my director!

When we were taking our photos, we had some people coming up to us to tell us that they enjoyed our film. That was really nice and I wasn’t expecting it. I am really proud of our film and would be happy even if it was just for us and nobody else got to see it. But to know that other people are enjoying the film is amazing and really made my day!

I wish that I could have stayed at the festival longer and seen more films, but my schedule did not allow for that. I know there were so many short films to see and I really wanted to support my fellow filmmakers. I know it isn’t easy to get people to see short films and I wanted to see as many movies as I could. Hopefully if we get into another festival I can attend more programs and see all the films. It just wasn’t mean to be this time.

I still can’t believe that the film that we made is getting recognition. It started out as such a small project and it has continued to grow and grow. I am so proud of the work that we all did and I’m really hopeful that we can continue to get into film festivals so more people can see it. We are already discussing working on another film together because we had so much fun with “Single Parent Date Night”. But until we do, I’m just going to enjoy having a great film out there and being able to look back at the hard work that we did.

Another Grove Adventure (or Dinner And Not A Screening)

I rarely go to the Grove, so the fact that I went last week was unique enough. But the fact that I went back this week is totally crazy! But since it is the time that I get a lot of invitations to screenings, there is always a chance I’ll be back there. Most of the screenings I go to are at the Director’s Guild or other screening rooms, but from time to time the screenings are at regular movie theaters.

This week, I had been invited to a screening of “Sing” at the Grove. I RSVPed right away, but because it wasn’t a screening hosted by an organization that I’m a part of they said that they overbook and seating will be first come first served. I invited my friend Dani to come with me and since we both had that afternoon free we decided to meet up for dinner before the screening.

The screening was at 7:30 and we figured we should try to line up an hour or so early (that’s what I usually do), so we met for dinner at the Grove at 5. We ended up going to the Cheesecake Factory since it is next to the theater and were seated on the balcony. They have heating lamps out there so it wasn’t too cold, and I liked having the view of all the lights from our table.

We had a nice dinner and discussed lots of random stuff. Some of it was about our tickets for Pantages (it was at dinner that we realized our next show was on Oscar Sunday so we started to work on figuring out when to move our tickets to). And of course since she is my workout buddy we discussed Orangetheory. It’s always nice to be able to get together with a friend for dinner and I’m glad we had some time to hang out that wasn’t before a show or on the treadmills during class.

We enjoyed our dinner of salads and cheesecake (you can’t go to Cheesecake Factory without getting cheesecake!) and then headed to the theater next door to line up. The line wasn’t too full so I figured getting there when we did worked out pretty well. Dani has never joined me for a screening, so she was excited to go to one with me. And close to 7pm, the line started to move and we were getting excited to get inside.

But as we were almost at the front of the line, someone from the studio came over to say that the screening was at capacity and that there were no more seats. This is something I know can happen at screenings, but it’s never really happened to me. Turns out, the line that we saw when we got in line was only part of the line. They had been letting people inside the theater for almost an hour by the time we got there because some people were lining up 2 or 3 hours before the screening.

While I was sad that we didn’t get in, it wasn’t horrible. I do want to see “Sing”, but I’m sure I’ll have other opportunities to see it. I know I’m so lucky that I get to go to as many screenings as I do (movies are so expensive!) so I’m not going to be upset that I missed one of them. There were so many kids in line who didn’t get to see the movie and I feel so bad that they didn’t get in.

Since we no longer had a screening to go to, Dani and I decided to walk around the Grove a bit. The Christmas decorations were just as pretty as they were the week before, but it was so much more crowded there!

We decided to wander around Barnes and Noble where I found some new books I wanted to add to my library wish list plus some books that I want to buy as gifts for people next year. It was funny walking around a bookstore since I haven’t really done that in a while. And there were some sections in the bookstore where there were so many books in a row that I have read! I know I read a ton, but since they are usually on my Kindle I don’t think too much about the number of books I get through.

It was nice getting to window shop in a bunch of different stores and see the various holiday decorations that the stores have, but the crowds at the Grove were starting to get a bit overwhelming. It was tough to walk around without having to stop because there were too many people in front of us. So we decided it was time to leave there before the crowds got even worse.

Even though my plans that night were to get dinner and see a movie with a friend, it was just as nice to get dinner and window shop. Taking time to just walk around and check out what is happening isn’t something I do all the time, so it was a nice change of pace from what I’m used to.

MRI Time (or Another Type Of Cancer Screening)

Because I’m considered high risk for getting breast cancer since my mom had it, I do cancer screenings a lot earlier than most people do them. For the past 2 years, I’ve done mammograms. They aren’t fun to do, but I know I need to do them. There is a chance that I might not be doing them every year for the next few years, but that’s not yet decided.

But because my mom’s type of breast cancer wasn’t caught on a mammogram, there was some discussion that I would need to get a breast MRI in the near future. I got a letter from my mom’s geneticist that explained that a baseline test for me would be a good idea, and my doctor sent that to a geneticist at my hospital. And after my last appointment with my doctor, it was decided that getting a baseline MRI would be my cancer screening this year (it was instead of getting another mammogram).

I’ve had a MRI before for my hip. That wasn’t a great experience for me because I didn’t realize how loud the machine would be and how long I would be stuck in there. I also went into that MRI knowing that if my pain went away or decreased after the solution they used was injected into my hip, that was a clear sign that my cartilage was damaged and I would need surgery (the MRI was before I had a full diagnosis or treatment plan). I was out of pain within minutes of the injection, so I spent the entire MRI knowing that I would need surgery and that freaked me out a bit.

This time, things were very different for me. First of all, this MRI couldn’t be done at my hospital. Because breast MRIs require special equipment and they aren’t done that often, there is an imagining center that my hospital outsources them to. I’ve never had to do any procedures or appointments outside of the hospital that I go to, but I tried to think about it as a new adventure. I was able to get a Saturday appointment, so I went right after work this past weekend.

When I got to my appointment, I had a dozen or so papers I had to fill out. Most of them were pretty basic, but there were a few things that I had to think about (such as the dates of my mammograms and the date of my previous MRI). I was trying not to be nervous while filling out the forms, but I’ll admit that I was a bit shaky as I was trying to write.

After my forms were filled out, I waited for a bit for my name to be called, and then the tech that I was going to be working with brought me back to the changing area. For my last MRI, I had to be naked under the gown (they needed full access to my hip for the injection) so I just assumed this would be the same. I didn’t realize that if I had worn pants with no metal I could have kept them on. I should have worn yoga pants so I could have done that, but I wore jeans so I had to just wear the gown. Not a big deal, but something to keep in mind if any of you are going to get a breast MRI.

Next, the tech took me into the MRI room. They were able to arrange for me to have an open MRI machine since I do have issues with claustrophobia and I was grateful for that. The tech had me lay down face up on the bed for the machine so she could put the IV in my hand. I’ve said how much I hate needles and IVs are the same problem. I told the tech my issues and she was seriously amazing! She asked me if I knew any good or bad veins, and I showed her the vein that was used for both surgeries I’ve had before. She was able to get the IV in with one stick, and then she got ready to prep me for everything else.

For most MRIs, you lay on your back on a table that slides into the machine. For breast MRIs, you lay on your stomach on a ledge that is on top of the table. There are holes in the ledge for your boobs to go into (they want to keep the tissue separate from your body) and you have your arms out in front of you. It took a few tries for me to lay properly so that everything lined up ok, but the tech was really great again and helped me get into the position that was going to get the best images in the machine.

Right before I went into the MRI machine, I got my earplugs (you totally need those for MRIs) and the tech hooked up my IV to a machine. For the first part of the MRI, there would be some saline going into the IV. But about 2/3rds of the way though, there would be contrast going through my IV to get a different type of images. I tried not to think about the IV too much and was slid into the machine.

While I was face down, my face was close to the front of the room so I could see light. And they had a fan at the front and the back of the machine so there was air always moving around me. Some of the images took 5 minutes and some were shorter. Each time, the tech warned me how long the session would be and I tried to stay distracted or count down the time. It’s extremely loud inside of the machine, and since my hip MRI had my head out of the machine I didn’t realize it would be quite as loud as it ended up being. It wasn’t too bad (the sound was very muffled with the ear plugs) and I tried to use the variety of noises to distract me.

Then it was time for the contrast to go into my IV. My mom had warned me that the contrast sometimes hurts, but it was more uncomfortable than I expected. The contrast is a thicker liquid than the saline so it feels weird. It wasn’t unbearable or anything, but I think the shock of the feeling made it feel worse to me than it really was. As soon as the contrast was all injected into my IV (it was done by a machine and not the tech), the tech ran into the room and disconnected my IV so that I didn’t get anything else into my vein. That made the discomfort go away almost right away.

After the contrast went in, there were only a few more minutes inside of the MRI machine. And before I knew it, it was all done and the tech was pulling the table out of the machine so I could get up. She first had to remove the IV from my hand and bandage it up, but I was able to sit up within a few minutes of being done. My body didn’t hurt too much, but my abs were a bit sore because I think I was tensing my body up from time to time and that gave my core a bit of a workout.

I didn’t get any pictures of the MRI process. I was so tempted to ask the tech to take one while I was in the machine, but I didn’t want to distract her from her work or make her run behind with other patients. But I did take a picture in the dressing room after everything was done.

after-mri

I felt really great after the MRI was done. I was so nervous about the IV and I made it through that. I was nervous what the MRI would be like or if I would have any issues, and fortunately I didn’t really have any problems. I haven’t gotten my results back yet, but I’m not too worried. This is just a baseline MRI so that future MRIs can be compared to it. I also know that MRIs (just like being young and getting mammograms) can have false positive results, so if I do hear back that there was something suspicious I’m not super concerned. There is no reason for me to believe that there is anything wrong with me and that’s the mindset I’m sticking with.

I know that having cancer screenings can be scary. You are terrified that they will find something and that’s why many people don’t do them. I totally understand that feeling, but I also know how important it is for me to be on top of my health and this is just a part of life for me now. I don’t know if I will be doing any more cancer screenings before I’m 40 (that will be up to my doctor and the geneticist to decide), but whichever way it goes I trust my doctors and that they are looking out for me.

My First Cinespia Experience (or Watching “Speed” In A Cemetery)

I’ve lived in LA for almost 15 years now, so I feel like I’ve done a lot of the things that people love to do in LA. I go to the Pantages, I go to the Bowl, I go to the beach, and I go to the mountains. I go to a lot of movie screenings (mainly thanks to my union) and I get to do a lot of fun adventures quite a bit! Most of the time when I see lists of the top things to do in LA, I’ve done all of them. But there was one thing that it seems like everyone does that I hadn’t done until this past weekend: Cinespia screenings.

Cinespia organizes some pretty amazing movie screenings, but I never had gone to one before. I believe they have screenings throughout the year, but their most popular ones are the summer ones at the Hollywood Forever cemetery. I’ve actually driven past the cemetery on screening nights and seen the huge crowds there lined up to get into the cemetery. It seemed a bit overwhelming but fun at the same time.

So when my friend Erin asked me if I wanted to join her and some friends to a screening of the movie “Speed” at Hollywood Forever cemetery this past weekend and I figured this was a perfect opportunity to check out what the screenings are all about. I got my ticket online and got some picnic stuff together for Saturday’s fun.

I got to the cemetery a little more than an hour before we could go inside. There was a big line in front where you wait before you have your tickets checked, and one of Erin’s friends had gotten there early and got us a good space. So I met up with everyone and we sat down and waiting for the gates to open so we could go inside.

Once we got inside, I really didn’t know what to expect. A couple of people went ahead to claim a good spot for us to put our blankets down at, but I walked a bit slower with some of the other stragglers. I wanted to check out the cemetery plus I was carrying a bunch of stuff and couldn’t go that quickly.

The cemetery was pretty cool, but so many of the headstones had headshots or photos on them and I thought that was a bit different. I don’t have a ton of experience being in cemeteries, but from the few I’ve been in I don’t remember so many photos of people on their graves. But it was still interesting to look at and some of the people buried there were buried a very long time ago.

Once we walked around the cemetery we got to where the screening was going to take place. We got a pretty good place to put our stuff down and once we got all the blankets out a couple of us went wandering around. The cemetery is pretty beautiful so I’m glad we got to explore a bit.

Hollywood Forever

We went looking around at the various graves to see who was buried there. There are quite a few famous people who are buried there, but the first “celebrity” marker that caught our eyes was the one for Toto.

Toto

We also saw Mickey Rooney and Hitchcock, but I didn’t get pictures of those. And as we were walking back toward where the screening was happening, we saw the photo setup they had for the movie. We were all hoping it would be some sort of bus, but it was a bus stop and I think we got a pretty amazing photo as a group.

Cinespia

At the end of the night (after the credits of the movie aired) they put a couple of the photos up on the big screen to show off and our photo was one of maybe 10 that they chose to do that with. I don’t know if that means we were one of the top 10 photos of the night, but we felt pretty special.

Once the photos were done, it was starting to get dark so we headed back to our blankets to get settled in before the movie started.

Movie Time

We also all brought some food with us to share, so we were eating while we waited for 9pm which is when the movie was supposed to start (I brought the feta dip I make for Thanksgiving).

Once the movie started, it was pretty exciting. We had an ok view of the movie (the people in the chairs in front of us blocked our view a bit) but I have seen “Speed” so many times that I was ok not having a perfect view.

Speed

The crowd was very energetic and it was so exciting to watch a movie this way. At the screenings I usually go to, people are quiet and trying to be respectful. This screening had people cheering and yelling at the screen and it was so much fun!

The only negative to me (besides having a partially blocked view) was my lack of preparation to be there. I brought a nice beach blanket with me and I thought that would be fine. But I wish I had brought something to lean against or one of the camping seats that are on the ground but have a back to them. I was getting a bit locked up in my hips and toward the end of the night I was starting to be in a decent amount of pain. But since I had never been to a screening like this before, I didn’t know what to expect and now I’m more prepared.

I’m so glad that Erin invited me to join her for this screening! It was such a fun night out and while I don’t know if I’ll make it to another screening this summer I’m totally going to do this again!

I Wish I Could Go To Comic Con (or Your Chance To See The Rock Opera)

A while back I wrote about the screening of “Once Upon A Time: The Rock Opera” that I got to go to. I really loved the movie and I feel so lucky that I got to check it out! I love how talented my friends are and I hope that I get to do a project as fun as the rock opera is one day. It’s really inspiring to see my friends create projects and get to see the success they have with them. Maybe “Single Parent Date Night” will be like that? I still feel as much excitement for my friends’ projects as I do for my own.

After that screening, I started to work with my friend Erin (the creator and star of the rock opera) on another project. While the other project fell through a bit (it just wasn’t something either of us could do), Erin said that she would want to work with me again. I knew that we make a pretty great team together and I’m always looking for more day jobs to add to my day job collection. Plus, I was pretty excited about that because it is awesome to work with friends and even more awesome to work with incredibly talented friends!

So when Erin asked me if I could help with the Comic-Con event that she’s doing for the rock opera, I said yes without thinking about it! She’s going to be putting on such a cool event and I knew I wanted to be a part of it. It’s going to be a sing-a-long concert plus screening. There is going to be a DJ there and lots of cool merchandise, food, and fun the entire night. It’s really going to be one of the best after parties at Comic-Con this year and I know that it will sell out in advance. I thought it was the coolest thing ever that I was asked to help out. I’ve actually never been to Comic-Con, so to get to go to an event there is a dream to me! I’ve been applying each year to get a press or performer pass, but I’ve never been successful at getting one. So any way I can get there is very exciting to me.

Then I looked at the dates of comic-con. That’s the weekend I will be back east for a family reunion so I can’t attend the rock opera party. I’m not skipping my family reunion (most of the family that will be there will be family I haven’t seen in 16 years) so there’s no way I can be there in person. While that’s a loss for me, I’m hoping that some of you will be able to attend (and maybe tell me how awesome it is)!

The event is going to be on July 23rd (doors open at 7pm and the screening starts at 9pm) at the 10th Ave Arts Center. You can buy your tickets at INDIETIX, but if order before July 5th and you enter the promo code SDCCROCKS15 at checkout you’ll get 15% off tickets!

Rock Opera Comic Con

I really hope all of you already planning on going to Comic-Con will get tickets for this party and get to experience not only a great party but such a fun movie! And if you don’t have a Comic-Con pass, this party doesn’t require one so you can come and experience a part of Comic-Con without needing to have a pass!

I’m already jealous of all of you who will get to go to the rock opera party. I know I’m missing an incredible event (it’s for a good reason but I’m still sad) but I hope that a bunch of you will be able to go! If you do, make sure you say hi to Erin for me!

“BLUE” (or Supporting A Friend’s Film)

This past weekend, I got to attend the premiere of my friend Robert’s film. This was something that I know he had been working really hard on, and I was so excited to see the finished product. So I had been counting down the days to the screening!

Robert worked with Marie and Chris (the epic party throwers) on this project, so a lot of people attending the screening were the same people who I see at lots of parties throughout the year. That made the event even more fun and I think everyone shared my excitement about it!

The film that Robert and Chris did is called “BLUE” and it is a very personal story for Robert. It shows people what it is like living with depression and how it can rule your life even if you are doing something fun or that you love. Depression in the film was represented by Blue, a puppet, and I think it was a really great way to show people what mental illness is like.

Blue

Technically, I was diagnosed with depression when I was younger, but the more I’ve learned about mental illness and depression I believe that I was actually misdiagnosed. I think my depression was a side effect of my panic/anxiety disorder. The panic attacks made me sad and I didn’t know how to make things better. That depression is very different from when people are diagnosed with depression, but I can still relate to the concept of the film.

While I don’t deal with my panic/anxiety on a daily basis, I do live in fear for when the next attack will be. Fortunately, they are getting better now so I’m not in as much fear as I was before. But I’m still wondering when the bubble will burst and I’ll have a horrible panic attack that causes me to not be able to do anything for a day or so. That feeling is similar to what some people with depression feels when they wonder when their next down time will hit them.

I loved this movie! It’s short, but the message is very effective and clear. I think it’s a great way to show others what mental illness can feel like and how we can feel crazy when we can’t just forget about it. And I think that everyone else who viewed it felt the same way because everyone was just so touched after the end credits were done.

And because my friends Robert and Chris are so amazing, they have posted the movie on YouTube for everyone to see and share.

(if you can’t see the video above, click on this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rk_D9x5BeRI)

I hope that you all take a few minutes to watch this movie and to share with everyone you know. Let your friends who have a mental illness know that you are trying to understand them. And let your friends without mental illness know that they should watch this so that they can try to understand their friends who battle this every day.

After the screening, Robert had arranged for a photographer (Adam, who did my last headshots!) to take photos of us with the puppet who was in the movie. I love photo booth set ups and this one was so much fun! And of course, taking photos with a puppet is a pretty awesome thing too.

Me and Blue

Adam also took some fun candid shots before and after the screening. Most of them haven’t been posted yet, but I love this one of a bunch of us in the backyard before the screening started.

Party

After the screening and photos, most of us hung out in the backyard just chatting like normal. But it wasn’t like normal because everyone was more open than I think we’ve ever been before. We were discussing some more serious things than we normally do and there was no shame in what anyone had to say. This movie really did bring us all closer together even though we were already pretty close to begin with. I think anything that helps to remove the shame from any mental illness is such a gift and I’m so glad that Robert and Chris did this so we could feel more open with each other.

If you deal with depression or mental illness, please know that you aren’t alone. There are so many of us out there who know exactly what you are going through and maybe not everyone is ready to share that with the world. By being willing to share, you might inspire others to share and be open too (I experienced that with this blog).

And if you are dealing with mental illness and want help, please get it. There is no shame in needing someone to talk to or medication to make things better in your life. You may find a way to live a fuller life by getting help, and that is something you don’t want to miss out on.

A Night At A Screening (or Forgetting What Non-Screenings Are Like)

Last week I got an invitation through Women In Film to attend a screening of “Neighbors 2”. I had seen the first movie and I thought that the second one would be fun to check out. I wasn’t planning on going to the movies to see the movie (I try not to spend money on movies unless they are really the type of movie that needs to be seen on a big screen), so I was pretty excited for the invite to the screening!

The different screenings I get invited to all have their own personalities. The SAG-AFTRA Film Society screenings are pretty much always at the DGA theater and they are the type of screenings that you have to show up early for to make sure you can get in to the theater. There is no food or drink allowed inside of the theater and pretty much everyone stays until the end of the credits (it’s actually in the rules that you are supposed to stay until then). Most of the SAG Awards screenings are like this too. You go to a screening house and line up to get in. They are private events so they are almost always actors.

Women In Film doesn’t always do screening like that. Sometimes they are private events, but they also sometimes are with other organizations too. When I saw “The Theory Of Everything”, that was the fanciest screening I’ve been to. And when I went to see “Miss You Already” it was a screening with other groups, but somehow it ended up being more like a private screening with the crew and a couple of other people (I was one of the random other people there).

I’m aware that I’m probably spoiled with the screenings. Not only does it allow me to see more movies than most people go out to see, but the environment that I see the movies in is very different from what it’s like at a normal movie theater. Most of the time, nobody is allowed to eat or drink so I don’t have to worry about weird smells (I once sat next to someone in a movie theater who ate a tuna sandwich during the movie and the smell was pretty overbearing) or the noise of people eating. Also, at screenings it’s extremely rare to see a cell phone out. Not only are the people at the screening usually too into the movie to look at their phone, but since some screenings are advance screenings you can be kicked out if security sees the light of a cell phone during the movie (security will be standing all around the theater just watching for that cell phone glow). Seeing movies in screenings has fortunately become my norm and I’m so grateful for that. So when I see a screening that isn’t what I expect, it throws me off.

The screening for “Neighbors 2” was held at a movie theater at The Grove, and when my friend and I lined up to go inside we noticed that it appeared that the screening was not just Women In Film but a couple of different groups attending the movie. We got our tickets and got some popcorn (we had gotten dinner at The Grove before the screening) and walking into the theater.

Screening

As soon as we walked inside, I was shocked about how crowded the theater was. We had gotten inside about an hour before the screening and a lot of the seats were already taken (or saved by people putting their coats or purses on them). Also, at the front of the theater there was a DJ, a step and repeat, and a bunch of people there. Turns out, this screening was also sponsored by a local radio station (I think they might have given away tickets to the screening as well). Before the movie started, there was very loud music from the DJ and people climbing over seats to get to the front to play some games to try to win a free poster or frisbee.

Once the movie started, there were a couple of people talking around us and eating loudly (we may have been guilty of eating loudly too since we had popcorn). And I saw a couple of people trying to secretly text or check their phones during the movie even though we had been warned that if you were caught with a phone on that you would be kicked out. I really wanted to shush the people who wouldn’t stop talking during the movie, but I tried to ignore it and enjoy watching it. But this was all a reminder of how spoiled I have gotten with the screenings I’ve been to.

The crowd and the noise didn’t ruin the movie for me at all, but it was a bit distracting. Overall, I enjoyed “Neighbors 2”, but I wished they had focused more on the parents instead of the college students (I definitely identify more with the parents). It was pretty funny and I think my friend and I both had a pretty good time at the movie.

Once Upon A Time: The Rock Opera (or An Awesome Giveaway!)

Today’s post includes an awesome giveaway and I’m so excited to share this with you all! It’s seriously a super awesome prize and I think a lot of you will be entering this!

The other day, I was invited to check out my friend Erin’s movie “Once Upon A Time: The Rock Opera”. They are getting ready to launch a screening tour and they started in LA this week. Erin has been working on this rock opera for a bit and I couldn’t wait to check it out (you can check out the trailer for it here).

OUAT: The Rock Opera actually started as a parody video of the ABC show “Once Upon A Time” that Erin made called “Once Upon A Anonymous”. That then turned into an award-winning web series. After doing the web series, Erin decided to take things up a notch and create a rock opera that has 7 original songs in it!

I’ve seen an episode or two of “Once Upon A Time”, but I’m not super familiar with the show. So I was a bit worried going into the screening that I wouldn’t get it too much. I was pleasantly surprised that this wasn’t the case!

OUAT Rock Opera

All you really need to know about the story is that the characters are all fairy tale characters (Snow White, Hook, Tinkerbell, Cruella DeVil, Ariel, Ursula, and others) and they are in the mythical town of Storybrooke, Maine. The story of the rock opera was pretty self-contained so I didn’t need to know the plot points from the TV show to get it. I’m sure I missed some jokes because they were about the show, but I still was laughing a lot during the movie. The songs were super awesome and covered a bunch of musical genres. And while I’ve seen a lot of films my friends have made, I think this was the most professional looking film I’ve seen by a friend! It looked just like something a studio would have created and it had some really fun special effects.

And of course, the actors were all amazing!

With Erin and Ace

Erin plays Emma Swan, the lead in the movie, and she looks just like the actress who plays the character in the TV show. And her husband, Ace (you might recognize him from playing Aladdin at Disneyland), plays Hook. I didn’t know most of the other actors in the movie, but I really enjoyed watching them all. They all played the characters exactly how I would want them to and they all had awesome singing voices! You can buy the soundtrack for the movie if you’d like so you can check it out!

They’ve already done other screenings that typically sell out plus they’ve had a big live performance at San Diego Comic-Con! The fanbase for this rock opera is big and I think that people who are fans of the ABC show have to see this and non-fans need to see this just because it’s awesome!

With their new screening tour starting up soon (tickets are on sale for some locations now!), Erin and the entire team behind OUAT: The Rock Opera wanted to give away an amazing prize to all of my readers! They are letting me give away 2 VIP tickets to any of their screenings on the current screening tour (but you would be responsible for any travel costs to get to the screening if you need to travel to it) plus a digital download of the full movie! This is such an awesome giveaway and I’m so grateful that Erin and the team are letting me give this away to one of you! All you have to do is enter via Rafflecopter below and a random winner will be selected after the contest ends at midnight on April 15th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

There are a lot of opportunities to enter and you can enter every day with the tweet about the giveaway option! The giveaway will run through midnight on the 15th and I will email the winner that they won (you’ll have 48 hours to respond to my email before a new winner is chosen). You will have a chance to say which location you want screening tickets for (don’t worry, what you put as a comment doesn’t have to be where you really want them) and Erin and the OUAT: The Rock Opera team will coordinate with you to get you your tickets and digital download.

If you don’t win, you will still be able to buy tickets for their screenings,  buy the soundtrack for the movie, and starting on April 1st you can buy the digital download of the movie.

Good luck with entering and I can’t wait for you all to get to experience the Once Upon A Time: The Rock Opera yourselves!

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (or A Movie With A Fun Friend)

The other day, I got an email from Women In Film inviting members to attend an advance screening of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2”. Women in Film does really great screenings (like the one I went to for “Miss You Already”), so I signed up for tickets right away. Since there were limited tickets for members I wasn’t sure I would get tickets, but a day later I got the email that I got my seats!

I put it out on Facebook to see who else wanted to see the movie with me, and my friend Elisa said she wanted to go. I met Elisa through Tone It Up, she also works out at Orangetheory (but a different location than I go to), and she’s now going to be a part of my Pantages season tickets group next season. But she and I haven’t really hung out a ton by ourselves so I was excited to go to the movie with her.

I was super excited to see this movie. I remember when the first movie came out and loving it! And the story of how it was a one-woman show turned into a movie was really inspiring too. As soon as I saw that there was going to be a sequel, I knew I’d go to see it. And I’m so grateful that I got an opportunity to see a screening for it because there are so many movies lately that I want to see and I can’t afford to see them all!

We got to The Grove (where the screening was held) a little more than an hour before the movie was supposed to start. We were told that even though we had tickets it wouldn’t guarantee us seats, so we wanted to make sure we lined up early to get in. We were toward the front of the line and got our tickets pretty quickly. But then we noticed that they were not assigned seats (I thought they would be). So we didn’t want to wait too long before going into the theater. Even though The Grove has a bunch of restaurants, we both ended up getting movie theater food for dinner. Not the best choice, but I got a hot dog and water so it wasn’t too horrible.

We got some pretty great seats once we went inside (it didn’t get crowded until a few minutes before the movie started) and sat down to enjoy our dinner. We did get to catch up on life and everything since we had an hour before the movie started. Elisa has some cool things coming up in her life and job so she was filling me in on that. And we had a good time talking about all things Orangetheory. And before we knew it, the representative from the studio was talking to the audience explaining that since it was a pre-release screening they had antipiracy officers in the audience looking for cell phones and the movie was starting.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

The movie was really good! I was shocked afterward to see that there were negative reviews online when I enjoyed it as much as I did. I had seen in interviews that the original cast was returning for this movie. And there were a ton of people from the first movie! Every scene it seems like I was realizing that the actor on screen played a cousin or something in the original. It’s nice to see that so many cast members loved doing the original movie and they wanted to come back!

The story was really cute and even though some moments were a bit absurd, there was always something real and heartfelt to bring it back to reality. Elisa and I both were laughing throughout the entire movie and it seemed like everyone in the audience enjoyed it as much as us. The only thing that bugged me were the women sitting next to me. They talked pretty loudly and decided to do some dancing in their seats (and elbowed me a couple of times). I’m also used to going to screenings where you cannot eat inside the theater so the noise of people eating threw me off a bit (but that’s a personal issue and not an issue with the movie).

I’m so glad that the movie was just as good as I hoped it would be! It’s tough to do a sequel over a decade after the original, and this one did not disappoint at all. And I think Elisa would have the same review as me.

With Elisa

I wasn’t able to hang out at The Grove after the movie because I didn’t want pay too much for parking and I wanted to get home at a decent hour. But it was nice to get out there since I missed doing my post-New Year’s cheesecake outing with my friend Joanna this year (hopefully we’ll do that eventually this year).

With it being after the awards season now, there aren’t as many movie screenings as there were earlier this year. But I’m glad that there are still some so I can go to the movies and not worry too much about having to splurge with my spending. There are a couple of movies that are screening this weekend that I’m going to, and if they are as awesome as “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” was, I’ll be writing about those for sure!

A Speedy Friend Visit (or Making The Most Of 24 Hours)

When my friend Kate stayed with me the last time, she mentioned that she might be coming to town in February to watch the Olympic marathon trials. I set the date aside in my calendar and was really excited when Kate told me that she had booked her flights and that she wanted to stay at my place again. But because of her work and the varying costs of flights, Kate was only able to be here for 24 hours (almost exactly). So I was planning out how to make this the most awesome 24 hour visit ever!

Kate got here on Friday afternoon (which is why I couldn’t work out on Friday). I picked her up at LAX and I was super excited to see her. I miss having her live in LA, so even when her visits are super speedy it makes me so happy to have her in the same city as me. It’s funny that it’s such a big deal because since we graduated high school, we’ve lived in the same city for a very limited time. But since she moved to LA briefly I am even more excited when she comes back!

I had gotten an email from the SAG-AFTRA Film Society earlier that week that there was going to be a screening of “Hail, Caesar!” at the DGA that evening. So I asked Kate if she wanted to go to that and she did. It was actually her first time going to a screening with me (for some reason we could never coordinate schedules with the screening schedules when she lived here). But this time it worked out pretty nicely so as soon as I had picked Kate up we headed over to the DGA.

Since the screening wasn’t until 6:30, we had some time to grab dinner before the movie. We walked across the street to The Counter (I love that place!) for burgers and some catch up time. Kate filled me in on her work and her cats and I filled her in on the craziness of everything and my workouts. We had to eat pretty quickly to make it to the screening, but it worked out fine.

I really enjoyed “Hail, Caesar!”! It was really funny and even though some of the jokes were very much about the entertainment industry, I think that enough of the movie isn’t insider stuff that everyone should be able to enjoy it. I was laughing quite a bit through the movie and I think that the entire cast was amazing!

After the screening, Kate and I walked over to the West Hollywood Orangetheory location. I don’t work out at that location, but I wanted to show it to Kate because there is a Orangetheory near where she lives and she’s thinking about checking it out. Even though the studio was closed, the manager (who I’ve met several times and he knows me) was there and he let us in. I showed Kate the various equipment inside and I chatted with the manager about the crazy workout from Thursday (where there was 22 minutes on the floor straight). We didn’t want to keep him there too long after hours, so Kate and I headed out and headed back to my house.

The next day was the main event that Kate came to town for: the Olympic trials. I’ll share more about this tomorrow but Kate went early in the morning and I was able to join her there after I was done with work. Even though I missed most of it, I got to see a little bit.

After we were done watching the racers, we headed over to my side of town to get some lunch at one of my favorite places, Lyfe Kitchen. Even though they have so many good things on their menu, I tend to get the same things each time. I love their BBQ chicken flatbread but instead of fries (since I had some the night before), I got a side of steam veggies with my food.

Lyfe Kitchen

After lunch we only had a little bit of time left before Kate needed to be back at LAX for her flight home, so we were trying to figure out what to do. We finally decided on doing a bit of random searching in the car for new wine bars. My favorite local wine bar, Bottle Rock, closed down right after the last time I was there so I was on the search for a new place. I knew that any new place I found wouldn’t be walking distance like Bottle Rock was, but I still wanted to see what other places were out there.

I had randomly seen a wine bar driving around a few weeks ago, so we headed over there first. Sadly, the place wasn’t open yet for the day. But we were able to see a menu online and it looked promising. After checking out that place, we did a search on Google Maps for other wine bars in the area and we set off on an adventure! We ended up checking out 2 other wine bars (one that looked good and one that didn’t) and then it was time to go to LAX.

Considering that this was all done in 24 hours, I think we succeeded in maximizing the limited time that Kate had in town. She kept saying that this wasn’t really a friend visit since she was coming here for the Olympic trials, but I lucked out because she was staying at my house. So I wanted to make sure that Kate had a fun time in LA and didn’t just feel like she was flying in, sleeping at my house, watching the Olympic trials, and flying out.

I’m just glad that Kate was just as up for going on as many adventures as we could like I was.