Indiewire picks The Porterhouse!

Indiewire, independent film’s leading source for industry info, has picked The Porterhouse as it’s “project of the day” for Thursday May 31st!

After the film is showcased on Indiewire on Thurs, you’ll get the opportunity on Fri June 1st to vote for The Porterhouse as it squares off against Mon, Tues, and Wednesday’s “projects of the day”!  The winner will be named “project of the week”.  Be sure to vote for The PH on June 1st by clicking here!

The Porterhouse Promo Reel

In this scene from “The Porterhouse”, Shawn Harper has just quit, and is preparing to leave the corrupt restaurant forever, but Lee, Shawn’s unpredictable boss, has one last trick up his sleeve.

Writer/Producer: Jeffrey Delano Davis

Director: Ben Insler

Actors: Jeffrey Delano Davis/Rick Zahn

Courtesy of SAG-AFTRA.

Screenwriting & Working “The Board”

A screenwriter truly finishes writing a film only when the audience first sits down to watch it.  Re-writes happen throughout the process: in development, pre-production, production, and, via the editing process, in post-production.

I test out everything I write; with colleagues in production meetings, at readings, and in front of the camera.  If something is not working, say a certain moment falls flat in a reading, or while shooting a teaser early in the process, I go back to the drawing board, and restructure.

A film is generally first outlined on a board, using a three act structure, with note cards representing individual scenes.  This is a way to lay out the structure of the film; to make sure that the characters are developing properly, and that important plot points are being hit.  The first row of note cards represents Act I, the second and third rows of cards Act II, and the fourth row of cards Act III.

This year I did a good deal of testing out the material.  My production team and I had a few readings, and we shot a scene together.  I have a lot of ideas for how the material can improve, and develop.  I’m very excited to see how the script grows in 2012.

Click here to make a donation to the making of “The Porterhouse”.

Returning Film Equipment, Returning Full Circle

I came to NYC when I was twenty-two with stars in my eyes and about $70 to my name.  I had a two month sublet, and hair down to my chin. I was determined to make a mark; to say something as an actor and a writer.

Despite a prolonged period of “couch surfing”, I managed to squeak by.  I landed a cheap apartment in the east village.  I got up at 5 am, sloshed coffee in Soho until 2 pm, and then headed over to the east village to act in Shakespeare in a parking lot, or a Melville adaptation in a large renovated loft.  I studied acting with The Barrow Group in a dilapidated theater above a strip club in Times Square.  One of my first scene partners in class was a sweet teenager girl who brought her mother to our rehearsals. Her name was Anne Hathaway.

It was exciting, but over time, I got tired, and the determination to make my own mark, to create my own work, got lost.  I started worrying about my head-shot.  I thought about my “look”.  I obsessed about “showcasing for the industry”.  The spirit of creative exploration I had enjoyed in college was replaced by marketing and “practical thinking”.

It all came to a head during the summer of 2004 when I was working as a waiter in a restaurant on the day of one of the largest protests in American history.  I had always wanted to be in the middle of a movement, to be a part of history.  Like the protestors, I too had been appalled by the violence perpetuated by the Bush administration in the Middle East, and yet, here I was… waiting tables.

I resolved to change.  Inspired by the protests, I set out to write something that paid homage to the spirit of 2004.  Each morning I got up, and wrote.  And wrote. And wrote.  For six years.

Over time, and with the help of countless people, I pulled the script together.  Fiscal sponsorship came my way, and people gravitated toward the material; a director, a cast, and a crew.  Two weeks ago, the camera rolled for the first time, and we shot the first scene of “The Porterhouse” together, as a way of getting our feet wet and developing footage for our funders.

The shoot went off flawlessly thanks to the expertise of my team.  It was an overnight shoot, and we had to store the lighting equipment in my apartment in the morning so I could return it to the lighting rental company on Monday.

When the movers rang my buzzer at 8 am on Monday morning, I nearly slept through it.  I had been up for 36 hours over the weekend, and I was utterly exhausted.  During the days leading up to the shoot, I felt like somebody had plugged me into an electrical socket.  My energy soared, and then crashed.

I dragged myself out of bed, and packed up the equipment.  The mover and I headed to Soho, where my first cafe job was, to return the gear. After unloading all the equipment from the van, and signing the bill, I headed out into the Soho streets.  It was a beautiful day.  The radiant fall sunlight contrasted brightly with the oily downtown streets.

As I wandered around my old stomping grounds, I stopped for a coffee at a local cafe, and whispered to myself “My God, I just shot my first film”.  One of the patrons heard me, and smiled.   I strolled back outside, and sipped my coffee.  The irony of being dropped off in my old neighborhood, walking past cafes where I had worked for $10 an hour, dreaming of a moment like this, overwhelmed me.

I walked past the first cafe I had worked at 16 years ago, and peered in the window.  It was now a nail salon.   I walked by the Korean deli I used to go to during lunch breaks.  Sadly, it had closed too, as had the Starbucks next door, all victims to the financial crisis.

“They’re all gone”, I thought.

“I’m still here.”

Click here to make a donation to the making of “The Porterhouse”.

Preparing for an Indie Film

Running lines for The Porterhouse promotional reel.  We are shooting the reel on Sept. 10th, 2011.  The promotional reel will be one scene from the film, a simple two-hander.  The reel will help us give our budding audience a feel for the film as we fund-raise and develop key working relationships.

Click here to make a donation to the making of The Porterhouse.

Lee Breakdown and Sides

SAG New Media Contract – Porterhouse Promo Reel

$100 Flat Rate


55-65, M, Caucasian, – the manager and part owner of The Porterhouse Restaurant. Violent, intelligent, unpredictable. Methodical one moment, apoplectic the next. Originally from Killeen, Texas. Very slight accent.

Porterhouse Promo Sides

Notes on Sides: In the previous scene Shawn notified Lee he is quitting, and the two had a short scuffle.  If there is any difficulty downloading sides, try another browser.  If that fails, email the producer, and he will send a copy.  See the “Synopsis” and “Spark” pages for more info regarding “The Porterhouse”.

Shoot and Scheduling Information:  This is a night shoot which will take place in Astoria, Queens from 10:30 pm until 6:30 am on Sept. 10th. Please be available for one or two short rehearsals the week of Sept. 4th.  THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUBMISSION!

Promo Reel Location Scout

Ben and I shot a short video clip of a gym locker room space we have decided to use for our promo reel for “The Porterhouse”.  In the scene we are going to shoot, the protagonist of the film, Shawn, has given his boss Lee notice, and is packing his belongings in the locker room of the restaurant, and preparing to leave the decrepit, corrupt restaurant forever… or is he?

The gym space is rather spiffy, so in order to scum it up a bit, Ben plans on shooting the corners and crevices of the space, utilizing concrete walls in the stairwell, and possibly putting up a fake wall.  Ben also pointed out that the sound really bounces in the space, and that reverb will be an issue.  This is something we will want to tackle in production, and not in post-production as reverb is hard to edit in post.

All in all, however, we are psyched to have a location picked out, and a shoot date secured; September 10th! Stay tuned!

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