Supermodel Joanna Krupa, Club Universe and a Creative Awakening
Club Universe was the first short film I wrote and directed. Years have passed since then, but I look back on this project with a smile. It was my first to making feature films.
It marks the point in my life where I had a creative awakening and I finally decided to not be afraid of letting what I wrote be produced into a film and shown to viewers. I had already made the move from strictly writing short fiction to screenplays.
But I still was carrying around seeds of doubt about putting myself out there to have what I wrote attacked by people.
When you write something and share it you’re basically standing in front of a crowd totally naked. Of course people will find your flaws and gladly point them out to you.
I said to hell with it. It’s time for me to bare myself naked with Club Universe. After all each of us is naked at some point every single day. Some people look better than others, but you have to work with you have. I do.
Club Universe was originally a short story I wrote when I felt a nostalgic creative moment that I had to put down on paper.
Well not paper, but on a computer screen. But you get the go of it. There are times when you fell you have to write a story down or you will not have peace.
I didn’t want it to just remain a screenplay in a drawer or saved on a computer. I shared the short story with lifelong friend Ruben “Smiles” Navarro who has been reading my short stories since we were cruising around on beach cruisers in the streets of southern California.
He gives me honest feedback. Then I let my Pops and a couple of other close friends read Club Universe. After that I took the plunge for me. I took an extension course at UCR for creative writing.
I always wanted to write a novel, still working on that now, but Club Universe was workshopped in real creative environment with people I didn’t know. They didn’t care about my background or where I came from.
Everyone there shared a passion for writing. It was an amazing experience for me meeting people that were not part of my everyday life.
I admit I’ve kind of grew up in a bubble, not saying it’s a good or bad thing. But I’ve had the same core group of friends since elementary and junior high. Outsiders were rare in our circle.
That’s except for Tim “Timbo” Beachum who has been my business partner going on 8 or 9 years. I’ve made Virginia Beach my home away from home where Timbo is located. Before that I had only been to Mexico and El Paso Texas.
Once I started visiting Virginia Beach I added Detroit to my regular stops to party with Super Bike (Consignment producer) lifelong friend of Timbo.
Anyway, this creative writing course opened me up to constructive criticism from strangers. This was what I needed.
I made changes to the story and said hell with it, I want to make Club Universe a short film. I knew nothing about the entertainment business. I was making money doing industrial videos for clients that were not creative at all.
Luckily for me I had strong support from my friends and my Pops. Hollywood Ruben, new nickname since he’s been in two Slice of Americana Films projects and is Man in Panama Hat in PSORO THE MOVIE (2012), got the ball rolling by putting up cold hard cash. My Pops and other friends put in cash as well.
I was so new to this that I had no idea how to budget or schedule a movie. Industrial videos for clients were cut and dry. Most of the times we never needed to cast actors only.
Through another bit of luck I was up northern California with my ex-fiance having dinner and met a seasoned stunt actor from the 80s and 90s action flicks that had been in movies like Courage Under Fire, Executive Decision, The Replacement Killers and Hard Target.
He became a mentor to me about the business and we got to work. After hiring crew we needed to cast. At the casting call we had Supermodel Joanna Krupa stole the show. She was cast as the female lead who was the mean ex that every guy remembers.
Joanna Krupa has made a fantastic name for herself as one of the top supermodels in the world. Back then from working with her she was down to earth and had a good personality on set. It doesn’t surprise me she rocked the modeling world.
Club Universe was a good time and experience for me. It was filmed in Reseda, California in a local night spot. We shot during the day before the place opened.
The cast and crew were excellent across the board in either talent or positive attitude. In some cases a person had both.
This was before the reality series America’s Wildest Bachelor Parties took off and put me in a better position to be involved with independent filmmaking with coproducer Tim Beachum.
He stared off as an editor and became my business partner in the entertainment industry. They say never become business partners with friends, but I think that’s only if your friends aren’t solid friends.
During Club Universe actor casting calls was when I first realized how hard it can be to select talent. There are very charismatic people that the camera loves. As luck would have it for my first short film supermodel Joanna Krupa auditioned.
She had looks and personality without bringing attitude on set, which is always a plus for a first time filmmaker. I hired a seasoned director of photography and sound mixer not only to get the best product for my budget, but to also learn from them by watching what they did.
Everything I learned would only make a better filmmaker in the future.
Where I was living was too far to make the commute during shooting, so I booked a hotel in Woodlands Hills. Hollywood Ruben wanted to see what was happening with the movie.
He booked a room in the same hotel and we took in the night life with some really cool crew people that were from that area. We hit local joints for a “Slice of Americana” and I will admit a few strip clubs. But every day I was on set to take care of business.
Like with any shoot, there were problems that had to be fixed and rewrites that had to be done to massage scenes. Hollywood Ruben ended up playing the bouncer and an extra.
Club Universe was my first creative work, but I am still proud of the results because it represents that thrill of a “ALL IN MOMENT” in life when you decide if you are going make movies or not. This is indie filmmaker Sid Kali typing FADE OUT