Saturday, November 29, 2014

My Return To The Director's Chair

My first film, Night of the Snakehead Fish, was released 11 years ago. I made it without having any experience in movie making whatsoever. I credit my resilience, ability to research the process, and pure naivety for the film coming together. Though it has its flaws, Snakehead has steadily found an audience over this past decade. It keeps popping its head up in the most unexpected places. (It will be featured on the Weather Channel next year!)

This month has found me back in the director chair. I am directing a new short with Azbest Films and Piano Man Pictures. It is a noir inspired piece, and I am really excited by.

If you are reading this, you may be wondering why its taken me over 10 years to make another movie. Well, the short answer is: it has and it hasn't. After Snakehead Fish, I wrote half of a sequel that I never really felt lived up to the original. I abandoned that and spend the next several years working on a number of scripts with a writing partner. Though they were really great, they were just impossible to film. With no money, and no one around me really doing films, I just couldn't make them happen.

Eventually, I did begin another project entitled Whimsical. It was a psuedo/mock documentary of my friends' band. They were called The Whimsical Douche Bunnies and featured bass, drums, and vocals only. The movie followed them around in their day to day lives, and showcased their few gigs. The three of us wrote it as we went along, mixing fiction with reality. It was almost impossible to find the lines that separated reality from the staged. The plan was to film for almost a year, and set up certain events that would happen during their live shows. We had the story, the plan, and had 20 minutes of it shot and edited together. Unfortunately, the bass player's mother experienced a catastrophic injury that stopped the project all together. I've had the footage sitting around for a number of years. I did edit it into a short, but a lack of signed releases from certain audience members will probably ensure it is never released.

Following the aborted attempt at Whimsical, I decided to focus on writing short stories and novels. I did some tech work for plays and the occasional short for other directors, as well. It wasn't until just a couple of years ago that I fell in with two production companies, Azbest Films and Piano Man Pictures, that have reinvigorated my film interest. I have worked on a number of projects with these two, as well as other companies, that will mostly be released next year.

Next year should also see a documentary that I directed and edited. It is about Rusty's TV and Car Museum in Jackson, TN. While this would technically be my return to the director's chair, I felt that I needed to return to narrative to really make it count. Luckily, I have been given this chance with my noir short.

For now, that is all that I can say about the piece. I will definitely post more about it once it has wrapped and is ready for release. The cast and crew are all very excited about this project, and I can't wait to share it with you all.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pecha Kucha Memphis Vol 10: Monster Mash

On October 30, 2014 I participated in a night of Pecha Kucha presentations at Crosstown Arts. If you aren't familiar with the format (I wasn't), it's a style where you have 20 slides that show for 20 seconds each. The presentation lasts about 6 and a half minutes. It's a fun, if challenging endeavor.

Since it was the night before Halloween, each topic related to horror or science fiction. I spoke about the strange success of Night of the Snakehead Fish and what I have been doing since then. Here is the actual presentation from that evening.


The other speakers were fantastic. To watch their videos, click here.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

October Happenings

Well, the month of October turned out to be a very busy one, indeed. Here's a break down of projects I was involved with this month:

-The lastest short in the Shelby Staxx series from Azbest Films. Not only did I work behind the camera, I also had a small role!

-I helped Piano Man Pictures shoot three episodes of an upcoming vegan cooking show. Fun people and delicious food.

-I appeared at Crosstown Arts for their PechaKucha night 10: Monster Mash. I was given 20 slides for 20 seconds and spoke about Night of the Snakehead Fish, as well as other film and writing projects. 

-I attended a fundraiser for a short to begin production next month: Kissing River Phoenix. It was written by Kat Moore and is being produced by Polyphony Creative

-Indie Memphis 2014! Need I say more? 

-Time Warp Drive In wrapped for the year. Our Shelby Staxx short played. I also played a music set with David Virone and Jesse Davis before the films started. I believe there will be more to come in the following year. 

November is looking to be busy, as well. I will be directing a noir inspired short, and finishing up a documentary about Rusty's TV & Car Museum

Friday, May 9, 2014

New Podcast: Creative Differences with Richard A Lester

I have decided to create a new podcast where I interview creative people in Memphis. The idea is to talk to people in all different sorts of artistic endeavors and record them in their "native" environment. I have the first 3 guests lined up, so this should be pretty fun.


My first guest is comedian/musician Josh McLane. I've known Josh for ten years now, and he was the perfect choice for a first guest. He is involved in bands around town, does stand up (recently opening for Doug Stanhope), and also works in local films.

We met at the P & H Cafe, a local dive bar that we've both spent our fair share of time in. I had a blast recording with Josh, and I hope that you enjoy our banter.

For more about Josh:

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Lights, Camera, Nomination!

Sorry for the lack of updates recently. I have been extremely busy with a couple of projects.

First of all, I worked on a short film that will be shown at the Summer Drive In during the Time Warp Soul Cinema night on April 26th. It's an exploitation piece that I did sound (amongst other things) on. The footage I've seen looks pretty great. I can't wait to see the finished product.

I had the pleasure of working with a talented group of filmmakers from Azbest Films. They are currently in post production on a feature entitled I Filmed Your Death. It should be released later this year. (I make a memorable cameo appearance, as well.) We have decided to make a short a month, allowing everyone to have a chance to learn various aspects of film making. As such, I have written a new script for a short that I hope to direct in the coming months. More information on that as things get moving on it.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Age of Reason?

The last time I checked a calendar, the year was listed as 2014. That hasn't changed, has it? The reason I ask is that I keep seeing news stories that seem to have been taken from the early part of the 1900s. For starters, I see that the state of Arizona is trying to limit access to retail stores and businesses to homosexuals.  What the hell is going on here?

Perhaps there is some sort of research that I could do to figure this out, but I can't imagine how people hold such archaic views in a time when we have unprecedented access to information. The number of smartphones and tablets that proliferate our society puts information, literally, at the finger tips of the majority of Americans. So, why are people choosing to ignore it? Why are people clinging so desperately to backwoods ideals and uninformed ideas?

Thursday, February 6, 2014


By now, you have all heard the tragic news about actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. Like many, I followed his career for a number of years as he developed from character actor to leading man. He was, easily, one of the most interesting actors working in Hollywood. What many never knew was that he was also a recovering addict.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Frustrations of Being Indie

Welcome to the first post of the New Year! I hope your holiday season was fun and fantastic. I hope you got lots of reading done, and have tons more to go!

For the most part, my first year as an independent author has been an amazing ride. I have loved all the positive feedback I've gotten, the book signings, the radio interviews, etc. I've even enjoyed the "tedious" parts like finding a publisher, picking a cover, and all the rest.