Tuesday, August 3, 2010

From California to the Desert

The long and winding tale of how Ken Gregg got to the world premiere of his dramatic short Resuscitate this Friday, August 6th at the Prescott Film Festival begins in the 1990s at a less than reputable downtown Los Angeles motel. The San Gabriel, CA native had decided to quit a Fullerton construction job and come the big city to seek his fame and fortune as an actor.

"I had taken five years of acting classes and workshops," Gregg recalls during an interview with FilmStew, "so I felt like I was ready to chase auditions for film. I found a job working as a messenger, which was really cool, because I had access to all the major studios and talent agencies. The most intriguing part was picking up large sums of cash from banks and then delivering them to the homes of celebrities."

Eventually, Gregg answered a communal living ad in the L.A. Times and relocated to a two-bedroom apartment in Venice that was part of the Yesss Center patchwork of properties overseen by a spiritual leader named Arhata Osho. Among the seven other people sharing the space with Gregg was a well-known porn star.

Resuscitate co-stars Willa Lavinia, Jason Robbins

"I met some amazing people during that time," recalls Gregg, who was able to relocate to the relative privacy of a 1972 VW bus parked in the complex's carport. "The inspiration for film came when an artist from Russia, Nick Gabrichidze, moved into the commune. We collaborated on a story based on true events and eventually wrote a screenplay."

Gregg then hooked up with John Koster, a friend who had graduated from USC with a major in film, co-producing and starring in two films shot in Arizona, Valley of One and Yonderville. After all this, and all those years after arriving in Los Angeles with a thousand dollars in his pocket, Gregg decided in 2007 to train with famed online film school guru Dov Simens.

"It's the best $500 I ever invested!" insists Gregg, who has lived in Prescott since 2000 and works as an Associate Producer for the AZTV7 morning show AM Arizona. "He taught me to just go for it, anyway I could; to shoot a short, submit to festivals, then shoot a feature."

On the wings of Dov

The material for Resuscitate comes from David Jenkins, a writer Gregg connected with via the Zoetrope Virtual Studio website. Rather remarkably, just yesterday, Jenkins framed the short film with this dramatic tweet: 'Two years ago today, I almost killed myself. I wrote about the experience, and now it's a short film. Living is so much better.'

In the 15-minute Resuscitate, Jenkins' suicidal doppelganger is Kent (Jason Robbins), at his wit's end after two years of chronic unemployment. The August 1st tweet may hint at how Kent ultimately deals with his troubles, but how he gets there is entirely unexpected. Gregg says he is at work with Jenkins on a new feature film project that may already have a distribution deal in place.


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