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Paolo Fortades                   Writer: Jake Lackner


Every year, thousands of people come to Los Angeles to join the entertainment industry. Everyone is told that it’s hard, but usually the kinds of people to listen to that sort of advice aren’t the aspiring writers, actors, or filmmakers of the world. We tell ourselves – “others have made it. How hard can it be?”

Well, I took the jump to Los Angeles. And, now that my initial excitement has waned, I find myself suffocated by the day-to-day. The constant grind of uncertainty. Some days are better than others. Some are much worse. Every day is a struggle.
My name is Jake and I’m helping out with this movie, Butterfly Caught. I’m supposed to have a lot of different jobs over the course of the production, but I think the most important is using this blog to document the process. When I first started talking with the director about the blog, we originally had the idea of me writing as a fictional character. But honestly, I think you’ll get a more intimate, realistic look coming from me. 
It’s fortunate that I’m working on this movie, because it tells a story that’s very similar to my own life. Butterfly Caught examines the struggle of three aspiring actresses in Los Angeles.  One – Naomi – is a veteran who’s been embittered by years of failure. Another – Joe – is frustrated, angry, and prone to bad habits. The third – Elsa – is new, naïve, and not sure who to trust and where to turn.
I’m not an aspiring actress, believe it or not. I’ve never had a self-destructive relationship with a drug dealer or gone on a blind date with an LAPD officer. But despite our differences in circumstances, I honestly do identify with these characters. The details are much different, but the underlying emotions – fear, anxiety, and above everything else, anger – are all the same.

Just like the characters in this movie, I’m hoping that I’ve finally found something real – that I’ve finally stopped wasting my time and my parents’ money, and come across a reason to stay in this city. I can’t tell you how this story ends, but I can tell you that experiences like this film are why I came to this city.

Butterfly Caught is being made by a small group of people for a small amount of money. Right now, there’s not a lot that we – or I – can promise you. But I can tell you this. If you give us a chance – if you look at our pictures, if you read this blog, if you check out our social pages – we’ll give you a real account  of our progress and enthusiasm. The nice thing about a movie like this is that there are very few barriers. That means few barriers between myself and the production, and few barriers between myself and you.  We’ll be honest with you. I’ll be honest with you. 


Photos: Paolo Fortades                   Writing: Jake Lackner

I went to film school, you would think they would teach you
everything you need to know about putting together a world class film, but
really it means that I know very little about making movies. So I have to admit
that before I showed up for the first day of shooting, I assumed I would be
walking into chaos.


Despite my expectations, the set was very quiet and very
controlled. Part of that can be attributed to the call time – at six in the
morning it’s tough to get the energy to yell at anyone. But I think the
majority of the credit should go towards the group of people that made it out
there before the sun was up.


As I said, I know very little about making movies. I can’t
tell you what makes a good grip or a bad grip, or what makes a director of
photography rise above their peers. But I’d like to think I know a little bit
about people. I can tell you that everyone I talked to was friendly, focused,
and professional. They were here to work.


In a town with so many other productions, the competition is
overwhelming. Just as we were setting up and biting into Pop-Tarts and Red
Vines, dozens of other movies were doing the same thing across the city. The
fact is, the odds are stacked against almost anyone trying to make a film.

But I’d like to think that this specific group – this
mixture of novices and veterans, a mixture of people making this a career and
people just visiting, a mixture of people who spent their life in Hollywood’s
shadow and those new to L.A. – might shift things a little in our favor.
Every day will not go as well as the first. It’s not always going to be
pleasant. But I think with the right team, you can weather the storm.


For most people, myself included, there’s something inherently unnerving about hospitals. I would add that there’s something even more strange about fake hospitals. It’s really peculiar to chug Diet Coke and chew on croissants as you pass by counterfeit examination rooms and doctor’s offices.


Saying that movies and acting – or actors – are fake is pretty much the least original combination of words in our language. That’s the whole point – someone isn’t actually getting pregnant or recovering from a suicide attempt, but we get a piece of the experience anyway. We get to visit this world, but we don’t have to stay.


The thing is, if you want to be a convincing fake, you have to first learn to be genuine.  To be able to conjure up a lifelike performance, you have to be in touch with yourself. People have the idea that artists just grab art out of thin air, but I don’t think it works like that. In the same way that energy can only transformed, not created or destroyed, art is being constructed from something else. 


No matter who you are and where you are – whether you’re the lead actress or the set photographer – art begins with real emotion. I don’t think it’s as simple as just saying “how would I react if I found out I was pregnant?” It might start there, sure, but it goes deeper. It’s conscious and subconscious. It’s a kind of reorganizing
your brain and your history, trying to mold it into new shapes to mimic foreign objects.


I was lucky to find some time to sit down with Johnathon

Schaech, who plays the role of the film director Brandon Banks.

Schaech’s recent credits include The Legend of
Hercules, Ray Donovan, and Takers.


 JL: Butterfly Caught is a story about

acting, getting into the business, making your way –

can you talk about how you
got started?


JS: I came out from Baltimore, Maryland in 1989. I
wanted to become an actor and I left college. I met a great acting coach named
Roy London when I came out here, and he took me under his wing, I trained
really hard for three years, and then I went to an open casting for a Franco
Zeffirelli movie, and that was the first big break that I got with my career,
but it turned out not to be as big a break as some would think.


JL: Can you tell me what attracted you to Butterfly Caught?


JS: Well, you know, it was a personal thing with Butterfly Caught, because Manny
Rodriguez Jr. – I’ve known since he was little. His father was my security for
a period of time, and we became really good friends. We would go to ball games
together, and we started hanging out together, and both of us always had
ambition to make movies and such, and he calls me up one day and he says
“Junior’s got a movie! He’s got a movie! … You’ve gotta be in it” I read it and
I was like  “I’m really in!” This
is good stuff, and it’s very straight to my heart. You’ve lived in this town
for 25 years, a lot of this stuff really does happen, to a lot of people I’ve
met, a lot of people I’ve cared for, now the stories are being retold.


JL: Can you elaborate on that?


JS: Other people have been put in the position where they
had to sleep with someone to get the role or they thought they would have to
– which is a big part of my character. The drug scene has taken so many of
my friends away – following the dream, getting too high on the dream, losing
touch with who you are and what you’re really about and all that stuff.


JL: I identified with the script… getting pissed off, you
make bad decisions, you get discouraged, looking for something to take your
mind off it. Do you think that there might be a correlation between people that
go out for this and people that are vulnerable?


JS: Yeah, absolutely, but I also think that the general
population, outside of the creative world, are also vulnerable.


JL: It’s not only actors that do drugs.


JS: I think the culture out here is a little colder, and you
don’t necessarily have the support team out here that really cares about you. It’s
a town where everyone else wants you to fail.  And not every town is like that. People in small towns, they
root for their football stars, the people that are excelling in certain areas,
poppy syndrome–


JL: Tall poppy syndrome.


JS: It’s definitely a part of this culture. If you get a
chance to get a big break, they want to see you fall, because they would rather
see themselves rise. Everyone’s going through all that, I think the drugs and
alcohol are a part of the culture because – you gotta fill that void somehow. In
my acting classes, they were always talking about the greatest actors were
Montgomery Cliff and Marlon Brando. Montgomery Cliff struggled with drug abuse
his entire career – as an actor you hear that he was so great, he had problems
with it, if I did that, maybe that’s the thing that’s going to give me the edge
that puts me over to be a better actor.


JL: It’s romanticized.


JS: Yes, romanticized.


JL: You’ve been around for a good amount of time. You said
that the culture is cold, do you think it’s changed over the past… 25 years
you’ve been here?


JS: In the world that I live in, with the people that I live
with, it has a lot to do with the fact that when you do work, you go away. I go
away for four months in Mexico, and I come back, and it’s hard to pick up those
relationships that you’ve been part of. We live a very intimate life in very
short periods of time with people, and building long-term relationships in this
industry is very difficult to do. You come back, that person’s working… you
have to set boundaries of how long you are away from the other person.


JL: People are doing such good work, and having so much fun
out of the city, that it’s tough – if you were in a city where everyone lived
there, worked there, played there, you might have a stronger community [than
one] where everyone’s going back and forth.


JS: Yeah, absolutely, 15 years ago, 10 years ago, I was
going to Canada every time I worked, now I’m going to New Orleans or Atlanta.
I’m constantly traveling to the most remote areas of the world, I’ve worked in
every desert in the world.  I have
certain friends that I really can trust, but it’s not like being back home –
Mom, Dad, aunts, uncles – family is family, you know? You try to build that
community – I’ve been able to do that, but not everyone can.


JL: It does seem rare.


JS: The story captures that, this group of friends, they
venture off–


JL: They’re all experiencing different levels of success,
one’s going up, one’s going down, one’s kind of stuck in a holding pattern,
it’s tough – I know that experience – it’s tough to be friends with people
that are all doing better than you… it can be challenging to maintain those


JS: People don’t realize, they think they can get to a
certain level and they can quit, they can just be successful, it’s not true,
this town – you can never quit on it. This script [deals with] maintaining your
sense of integrity. Making those decisions with your moral compass, inside your
gut, getting through all the potholes.


JL: Besides Butterfly Caught, do you have any other projects
that you’re excited about?


JS: I just finished a project called Texas Rising, it’s on the History Channel, it’s about the Texas
Revolution, it’s with the same guys that did Hatfields & McCoys, it stars Bill Paxton as Sam Huston, I’m
Colonel Sidney Sherman, and it’s pretty awesome. It’s an 8-hour miniseries.
That’s why I was gone for four months.


JL: It’s a big time commitment, for you and the audience!


JS: I did a feature with Bruce Willis, this year, opposite
Bruce Willis and Bill Paxton. I had a very manly-man year…. It’s called Vice. They come out around the same
time… I’m excited.

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