Homegrown Seattle Film Producer Ramon Isao

by Mary Hubert

RamonProducing a film seems like rather a nebulous task. We have the director, who directs, the actors, who act, the designers, who create the world of the piece, and the writer, who writes the thing. But what does a producer do, exactly? He is the forerunner, the organizer, the person who makes the thing happen. And Ramon Isao, an up-and-coming writer/producer in the Seattle film scene, certainly fits that mold.  The energetic, talkative, and charismatic young artist is set to do his third feature this summer, Dead Body, a slasher-meets-mystery flick sporting a cast and crew of young up-and-coming Seattleites and shot in a cabin a few miles out of town.

When I asked Ramon how long he’s been writing, he said, “I’ve always written, even as a kid. I started out with fiction, but 8 years ago, my buddy Kevin asked me to help rewrite a movie called Zombies of Mass Destruction”. A completely new experience for Ramon, he jumped on the chance, and the two were able to produce the feature amidst positive reviews.

Then, along came Junk – a film he described as “A raunchy, evil comedy – the work that I’ve decided my parents never need to see”. In addition to co-producing and co-writing, he co-starred in this one, playing a character that he put as “disturbingly like myself”. Ramon said that learning to act in this type of role changed everything for him as a writer and producer. He exclaimed, “I gained a newfound appreciation for what actors did!”

Fresh from these two successes, he has jumped headlong into co-writing and co-producing – along with co-conspirator Ian Bell – a combination slasher and mystery flick called Dead Body. Seen it a million times? That’s what I thought. When I asked him why this movie was so special, he pointed out the never-done combination of slasher and mystery. Turns out, it’s hard to do – Isao has worked with Ian for months to crack the formula, involving high school kids, a game gone wrong, mystery, death, and campiness all bundled into one delicious little flick. With it, he’s interested in “combining the humor and the absurd with violence”.

Believe it or not, though, the new genre isn’t what Ramon is most excited about. He spent most of his time gushing about the talented group of young Seattleites working on the film. Ramon said he was “dead lucky to score” the cast and crew. As Ramon put it, “Every single one of these people is super talented – I’m mostly just excited to show off to everyone that I landed all of these awesome collaborators!” Almost as exciting for Ramon is that he can do a film in his hometown, with people in his hometown, about an area in his hometown. His goal with this group is to build a community of Seattleites to make art with, project after project.

Upon asking him what a Seattle layperson should do to get involved with Dead Body: He laughed, and said, “Come to us! Email me at dbfilm2014@gmail.com if you want to be a PA throughout August – you’ll get some food and experience, and get to kick it with some kickass artists!” You can also check out their Kickstarter to donate – cool perks include a Halloween party with the cast and free tickets to see the movie at one of the festivals it will be circulating at (Ramon is shooting for horror festivals and SIFF, to name two).

His response to my query of how to get into film in general? Get out there and do it! “It’s easy!” he said, and immediately laughed. “No, I’m lying. It’s fucking hard. But you just have to go do it. Start making things! You gotta make the bad shit to get to the good shit”. So, you heard him, would-be film guys. Start making movies, even if they’re terrible. Get out there with your camera and shoot shit – you never know when you’ll get your break. And stay tuned for more on Dead Body – I expect we’ll be seeing more about it soon.

Mary Hubert is a performing artist, director, and arts administrator in the Seattle area. When not producing strange performance concoctions with her company, the Horse in Motion, she is wild about watching weird theater, whiskey, writing and weightlifting.

The West Hill Family Center: Skyway’s R.A.Y.S of Sunshine

Rays 3By Marcus Harrison Green

On a typical day it can serve as a de facto community gathering hub, overloaded computer lab, hallowed sanctuary for religious revival, job center for the long term unemployed, adored romper space for toddlers, a copy/ printer/ fax depot of last resort, and a cherished Destress Zone for elders raising the twenty first century’s version of teenagers.  Of course, if you ask Morgan Wells – Director of R.A.Y’s West Hill Family Center, located in the Skyway/Westhill neighborhood – days at the center are anything but typical.

“The people who come in definitely vary on a day to day basis. They may be looking for housing, job searching, researching DSHS benefits, or wanting to take an online course, along with a myriad of other things. We want to serve as broad a part of the community as possible and throughout it all we want to make sure that we have a welcoming staff for them.” Says Wells.

The multifaceted West Hill Family Center – equipped with a computer room, conference meeting suite, children’s play area and a staff of five full time employees, in addition to two interns-  has been one of the Skyway area’s most venerable institutions, serving its residents for the past twenty years. Not a small feat when you consider – with a few notable exceptions- that during the same period the life cycle of most  businesses and organizations in the area have approximated that of the Mayfly.

Wells points to the unqualified support the center has received from the community as the main reason for its continued endurance. “This place is very much community run  and community owned.  Many times, when staff are away or sick, community members will just take the initiative to fill in for them, answering phones, helping people find resources, fixing computer problems, and keeping the building safe. It’s really them who have kept the Center thriving and helped us to avoid the pitfalls of many other organizations.”

To many of the area’s residents, the support has been both mutual and sorely needed, as Skyway- though falling within the Seattle city limits, and maintaining a Seattle address – is technically an unincorporated portion of King County, effectively meaning it lacks availability to the funding and resources that the rest of the city has access to.

As a result, the center has stepped in, during times both good and bad, to serve thousands upon thousands of the area’s residents. In several cases it has functioned as the last line of defense between them and destitution, both physical and mental. “If it wasn’t for the center I’d be homeless or worse right now. I really don’t even want to think about it!” one patron attested to as she used the center’s dual copier/fax machine to send her resume to a prospective employer.

Unlike the callous and aloof nature that is often associated with social service organizations, the center has cultivated a reputation of warmth and respect in its treatment of those who walk through its doors, regardless of circumstance, preferring to refer to all of them as clients.  “When I walk in the door here I’m treated as a human being, and not a piece of garbage like other places. You can tell at other places that they don’t care about you. They’re so condescending towards you. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been waiting in line forever. It doesn’t matter if you have a child you’re waiting with. To them you’re just another number.” Said a young mother who frequently visits the center.

That reputation wasn’t acquired by happenstance, according to Wells: “Our vision is that everyone who comes here walks out of our door thinking they’ve been treated with respect, and that’s been a permanent part of our culture.  We don’t have direct benefits to give out and so we don’t have to ask people to prove their eligibility like other social service places. Our door is open to everybody and there are no eligibility requirements for any of our programs which is great. So we try to treat everyone like a person and not like you’re number 1652 at the DMV.”

Although it’s reputation has remained intact throughout the years, several new faces amongst the center’s staff have caused concern over possible changes in its operation. In a little under a year, the center has undergone almost a complete overhaul, as its previous director – Jennifer Moore, along with two of  its youth counselors-  departed for opportunities elsewhere.

Perhaps no loss has been as heartfelt  as the recent retirement of the center’s long time receptionist/ administrative assistant Cynthia Green,  who had been with the center since its inception, nearly becoming indistinguishable from it in the minds of almost all of the area’s locals.

“I don’t know, with Ms. Cynthia leaving it’s kind of strange. When I come in now I see new faces and I’m not sure what to make of everything. With all the changes I’m a little concerned.” said one grandmother who regularly attends kinship care support group meetings at the center.

Well aware of some of the anxiety that has arisen amongst the clientele, Wells has been proactive in soliciting the opinions of the center’s regular attendees, even going so far as to establish a community steering community to best identify what most needs to be addressed as it concerns the Skyway area.

“Historically, we’ve made an effort to be flexible and responsive when things change, whatever they are, whether at the center or within the community. I’m certainly willing, if we need to totally scrap something and start over and build from the ground up.  If that’s what we have to do to meet the needs of our community right here and right now. If the voices are coming to us and saying we need and A.A. group, or we need more Adult Education classes  ESL classes, or whatever that thing is, I’ll go after it and put my heart into bringing it here to this building.” Wells stated.

Even with the center undergoing potential changes, there is at least one thing that its regulars hope remains forever sacrosanct. As one stated, “This place, to me, is like a second home. A second family really. And I hope it always stays that way!”

What’s Happening in South Seattle The Weekend of June 20th- June 22nd

WeekendEvents this weekend in the South Seattle area

 

Friday, June 20th

Community: VFW Meat Raffle from 4 to 7pm @ Skyway VFW Hall 7421 S. 126th St Seattle, WA 98178. More Info: email persimmon1859@gmail.com

Movies: Opening of Chef staring Jon Favreau showtimes 1:30pm, 4:00pm, 7:30pm and 9:30pm @ Ark Lodge Cinemas 4816 Rainier Avenue South Seattle , WA 98118. More Info: http://www.arklodgecinemas.com

Community: Rainier Valley Eats Community Dinner, from 5:00-6:30pm @Rainier Community Center 4600 38th Ave South Seattle, WA 98118

Community: Beacon Hill Meaningful Movies presents More Than Honey @ The Garden House 2336 15th Ave South Seattle, WA 98144. film starts at 6:15pm and includes free admission and free popcorn. More Info: http://www.beacon-arts.org

Theater: Anything is Possible Theatre presents Friday performance of Robin Hood, show starts at 7:00 pm@ The Rainier Valley Cultural Center: 3515 S Alaska St, Seattle, WA 98118. More Info: http://anythingispossibletheatre.org/

Music: Seaprog Festival 2014 show starts at 8:30pm @ The Royal Room 5000 Rainier Avenue South Seattle 98118. More Info: http://www.theroyalroomseattle.com

 

Saturday, June 21st

Community: Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands Work Party from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm @ 5513 S. Cloverdale St.  Seattle, WA. More Info: http://seattletilth.org/about/rainier-beach-urban-farm-wetlands

Toddlers: Tot Gym ( Gym will be filled with lots of toys, along with a few bounce houses for each and every toddler’s enjoyment) from 10:00am to 1:00pm @Rainier Beach Community Center 4600 38th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118 More Info: Carl.Bergquist@seatte.gov

Community: Cierra Sisters presents Summer Surprise, from 11:00am to 1:00pm @Rays West Hill Family Center 12704 76th Avenue South Seattle, WA 98178 More Info: http://www.cierrasisters.org

Theater: Anything is Possible Theatre presents Special Giving Night Saturday performance of Robin Hood show starts at 7:00 pm@ The Rainier Valley Cultural Center: 3515 S Alaska St, Seattle, WA 98118. More Info: http://anythingispossibletheatre.org/

 

Sunday, June 22nd

Community: Brunch at the Beachcomber from 10:00am to 12:30pm @ Beachcomber  12623 Renton Ave S Seattle, WA 98178. More Info: (206) 772-5183

Theater: Anything is Possible Theatre presents Sunday performance of Robin Hood show starts at 2:00 pm@ The Rainier Valley Cultural Center: 3515 S Alaska St, Seattle, WA 98118. More Info: http://anythingispossibletheatre.org/

Music: Mayfly/ The Tallboys . Performance starts at 8:00 pm @ The Royal Room 5000 Rainier Avenue South Seattle 981178. More Info: http://www.theroyalroomseattle.com

 

If you have an event to post, please email events@southseattleemerald.com

 

 

Seed Arts Cinema Presents Lady Be Good

lady be good

 

Seattle, WA –  SeedArts Cinema and Jazz Night School are presenting a documentary that traces the musical contributions,  journeys and  obstacles of American women instrumentals in jazz form the early part of this century. The film will be shown on Saturday, June 28th at 7 pm  at the historic Rainier Valley Cultural Center (3515 S Alaska St, Seattle, WA 98118), followed by a conversation with the filmmaker, producer, and director Kay D. Ray.  Suggested donation is $5.

The 80 minute documentary film” LADY BE GOOD Instrumental Women In Jazz” concentrates on the contributions of local American women instrumentalists in jazz from the early 1920s to the 1970s and the development and extent of the all-woman jazz groups. LADY BE GOOD captures the lost stories of female jazz musicians in provocative and often humorous interviews with women musicians, big band leaders, jazz authors and historians. Musician and composer Patrice Rushen guides us through these exciting histories with rare photos, previously unseen film and television footage, and scarce recordings. Join Peggy Gilbert, Marian McPartland, Carline Ray, Quincy Jones, Jane Sager and many others in this important new narrative.

For more information, please visit: http://www.rainiervalleyculturalcenter.org/cinema/

 

 

Tips For A Better Post-Workout Recovery

by David Calderon Post-Workout Collage

 

Post-workout recovery is an often under-looked or overanalyzed component to a successful training program. When it comes to a post-workout recovery routine, keeping it simple is best. Try these 3 easy to-do tips from RHF CrossFit trainer David Calderon to help your routine:

1. Food: A recovery shake or small meal consisting of simple sugars to replace glycogen (stored energy) and protein to aid in repair of muscles is key. Here are a couple options depending on your schedule.

  • Whey protein shake made with milk
  • Greek Yogurt (8 oz) with berries (1/4 cup) or bananas (1/2 cup) and granola (1/4 cup)
  • 2-4 ounces of deli meat, a handful of nuts and a small piece of fruit

2. Water: Just drink! Hydration post-workout will assist in recovery, help flush out toxins and aid in transportation of nutrients. An easy rule of thumb not just for post-workout but in general is to consume enough water so that your urine is clear.

3. Stretching: Static stretching has its place and is most productive post-workout when muscles are warmed up. Never stretch to a point of pain; instead stretch to a degree that is comfortable to you and accumulate 60-90 seconds per muscle area. Adding a stretching routine will aid in increasing your flexibility, preventing injury and reducing next-day soreness.

David Calderon  is a graduate of San Jose State University with a Bachelors of Science in Nutritional Science with a concentration in Dietetics. He’s also the CrossFit trainer at Rainier Health & Fitness.

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Review of South Seattle Theater Group’s Modern Spin on Robin Hood

by Mary Hubert

Actors from Anything Is Possible Theatre's Production of Robin Hood
Actors from Anything Is Possible Theatre’s Production of Robin Hood

When I sat down with Ellen Cooper, the Executive Director of the Anything is Possible Theater Company, I was excited. Ellen, who also wrote the company’s current rendition of Robin Hood, was in the middle of telling me just why her company was different from all of the other kids’ theaters out there. Her reasons were compelling ones.

Above all, she talked of how the messages in children’s shows are not deep enough. The Anything is Possible Theater Company, she said, sought to bridge the gap between real-life issues and what is deemed appropriate for children.

To this end, she said, Robin Hood is set in the present, where the Merry Men are homeless youth and the Sheriff is an old rich businessman. By recontextualizing an old classic, they are able to grapple with issues that many children in the low-income areas of South Seattle face, while still providing the draw of a time-honored tale. This would then spark discussion in families about topics like class inequality and homelessness. She described Robin Hood as “A relevant show about people’s lives. It demonstrates an active and positive way to respond to what’s happening through community-building”.

Other things about this company also sparked my interest. Ellen mentioned the pay-what-you-can night and low ticket prices, designed to make the play accessible to a low-income crowd. AIP even gave away 40 tickets to Treehouse, a Seattle organization serving foster children. And in a neighborhood where this happens to be one of the only theaters in existence, let alone one serving children, AIP’s community-mindedness was something I gravitated toward immediately.

So, it was with high hopes and a growing excitement that I sat down to watch “Robin Hood.

The play did do some of what Ellen mentioned. The set was a homeless encampment, complete with a “99%” poster behind a chain link fence and a tent upstage. The costumes furthered this concept – the Merry Men were dressed in mismatching, ripped clothing, and the “bad guys” – the Sheriff of Nottingham, his daughter, and the host of barons and kings – were in business attire. From the offset, the stage was set for an interesting take on Robin Hood.

But then… the characters opened their mouths. And out came a jumble of what sounded like terrible Shakespeare. As I struggled to figure out why on earth the characters were speaking like this, I realized that as an attempted throwback to the traditional Robin Hood dialogue, Ellen had decided to write it in a strange approximation of pseudo-Old English. With that, what could have been an insightful look into why Robin Hood is relevant to our time – especially to the citizens of Rainier Valley – became simply a concept smacked onto a play that didn’t really fit.

Ellen’s idea to set Robin Hood in modern times, highlighting the disparity between classes in a way that would resonate with the community’s large low-income population, is a brilliant concept for a children’s show. Using a time-honored classic like Robin Hood to bring audiences in and then showing them a new way to look at it is all well and good. However, if you are going to do that, then do it. Language sets the time period for any play, so to not alter it made what would have been a brilliant commentary into a disjointed modernization of a dated text.

This was just the first of many examples of a half-realized concept. The stage was very narrow, so many of the scenes were conducted in a line. Though some handled their text and movement with ease, too often the scenes played like a presentation. The myriad of accents only added to the issue – we had Irish, British, American, and some odd combinations of the three, which served to confuse the audience rather than create a cohesive world.

For all of that, the show was enjoyable. Adorable children and talented young adult actors made us all smile as they carried out the telling of Robin Hood’s tale with gusto. Broad-sweeping villains made kids gasp and adults chuckle. The ensemble seemed to connect with each other in a way that was endearing, especially with a multi-generational cast. And despite some flaws and my disappointment that the show didn’t completely live up to my expectations, I found myself enjoying the piece.
The Bottom Line: Ellen has attempted to recontextualize children’s theatre by making it relevant and placing it in an area where kids have limited access to art. Although her show does not entirely succeed, her effort to create change and get the children of South Seattle involved in art is admirable. Go support the Anything is Possible Theater Company.

Mary Hubert is a performing artist, director, and arts administrator in the Seattle area. When not producing strange performance concoctions with her company,  the Horse in Motion, she is wild about watching weird theater, whiskey, writing and weightlifting.

 

What’s Happening in South Seattle The Weekend of June 13th- June 15th

WeekendEvents this weekend in the South Seattle area

 

Friday, June 13th

Community: VFW Meat Raffle from 4 to 7pm @ Skyway VFW Hall 7421 S. 126th St Seattle, WA 98178. More Info: email persimmon1859@gmail.com

Movies: Opening of How to Train Your Dragon 2 showtimes 4:15pm, 7:30pm and 9:15pm @ Ark Lodge Cinemas 4816 Rainier Avenue South Seattle , WA 98118. More Info: http://www.arklodgecinemas.com

Music: Choro Das 3/ Choroloco (Brazilian Music) show starts at 8:30pm @ The Royal Room 5000 Rainier Avenue South Seattle 98118. More Info: http://www.theroyalroomseattle.com

 

Saturday, June 14th

Community: Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands Work Party from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm @ 5513 S. Cloverdale St.  Seattle, WA. More Info: http://seattletilth.org/about/rainier-beach-urban-farm-wetlands

Toddlers: Tot Gym ( Gym will be filled with lots of toys, along with a few bounce houses for each and every toddler’s enjoyment) from 10:00am to 1:00pm @Rainier Beach Community Center 4600 38th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118 More Info: Carl.Bergquist@seatte.gov

Theater: Anything is Possible Theatre presents Saturday performance of Robin Hood show starts at 7:00 pm@ The Rainier Valley Cultural Center: 3515 S Alaska St, Seattle, WA 98118. More Info: http://anythingispossibletheatre.org/

Culinary: Seattle Cooks:Northwest Wine Academy Spring Release from 2:00 to 7:00pm @South Seattle Community College 6000 16th Ave. S.W. Seattle, WA 98106. More Info: 206-386-4636

Music: A Celebration of Woody Guthrie’s Birthday shows starts at 9:30pm @The Royal Room 5000 Rainier Avenue South Seattle 98118. More Info: http://www.theroyalroomseattle.com

 

Sunday, June 15th

Community: Brunch at the Beachcomber from 10:00am to 12:30pm @ Beachcomber  12623 Renton Ave S Seattle, WA 98178. More Info: (206) 772-5183

Theater: Anything is Possible Theatre presents Sunday performance of Robin Hood show starts at 7:00 pm@ The Rainier Valley Cultural Center: 3515 S Alaska St, Seattle, WA 98118. More Info: http://anythingispossibletheatre.org/

Music: Orca Elementary K- 8th Grade Junior Jazze Select. Performance starts at 6:30 pm @ The Royal Room 5000 Rainier Avenue South Seattle 981178. More Info: http://www.theroyalroomseattle.com

 

If you have an event to post, please email events@southseattleemerald.com

 

 

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