This blog is dedicated to all things Frank – past, present and future.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Fuscos Go To Disney! (2011)

We got back from our trip to Disney World last Saturday so I put together a little video…because that's what I do. I didn't take a whole lot of footage because this new camera I got is not designed for the quick point and shoot – there's focusing and aperture/ISO setting involved. 

Waiting in line for Tom Sawyer Island.
Tom Sawyer Island got the bulk of my video shooting. It's a little more laid back than the rest of the park – making it easier to shoot – plus I was living out a missed childhood experience through my kids. When I went to Disney World as a child we didn't realize Tom Sawyer Island closed at dusk and by the time we got to Frontierland the sun had gone down. So this trip I got to experience it through my kids eyes. We had fun exploring the island together. 

I also made sure to video the inside of Splash Mountain. It's interesting that Disney created a ride based around a film (Song of the South) that has never been released on home video or DVD in the United States, due to its racist overtones. Millions of kids who visit the park attraction today have absolutely no connection to the story or its characters. For that reason I wonder if its days are numbered? The Swiss Family Treehouse in Disneyland was re-themed as Tarzan's Treehouse, to coincide with Disney's Tarzan animated film, and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea: Submarine Voyage was re-themed as Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage for the same reason. If Disney ever releases a film set alongside a river or stream it could very well be the end of Splash Mountain as we know it.

Here are the kids, wet after the Splash Mountain plunge.

And here's some more photos from our trip…

The first of many pictures Chloe refused to smile for.

A large section of Fantasyland was under construction so they put up this wall.
Chloe liked the character (not sure which one it is?). The plans for the new Fantasyland look pretty cool.

Breakfast with the Disney characters -- Mary Poppins, Tigger, Winnie The Pooh, Alice.

Casey's Corner. (Still wet after Splash Mountain.)

One of Disney's creepy animatronic exhibits.
As much as Disney's changed through the years some rides never change.
I remember this '60s family from when I was a kid.

Here's a few shots of the castle I like.

Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios. 13 story elevator drop!
There were grown adults having second thoughts about riding the Tower of Terror, but not my kids.
They're daredevils.

Epcot Center. Chloe still refusing to smile.

Dining with the Disney Princesses at Epcot Center.
When you arrive they take a complimentary photo of your princess with a Disney Princess (Belle).
Chloe was having a melt-down so Casey, my prince, stepped in.

Chloe warmed up to the other princesses once we sat down to eat -- Cinderella, Snow White, Jasmine, Ariel.

Bruce from Finding Nemo. The one time Chloe refusing to smile actually works.

It rained for 20 minutes every day we were at Disney (not bad), but on the day of Epcot it rained from 3pm to 7pm.
The kids wouldn't wear their ponchos and this time Kim refused to smile.

Disney was pushing hard on their newest character, Duffy the Bear.
Because Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto and the other 200+ Disney characters aren't enough.
I'm sure Walt's rolling in his grave over this one. Duffy doesn't have that Disney quality all the other characters have. He looks like a generic teddy bear you find at a Rite Aid.

Animal Kingdom.

Kali River Rapids -- Animal Kingdom.

The kids loved Florida's wild lizards.
On my first trip to Disney, when I was 10 or 11, my cousin George caught one for me and I took it home.
When he caught it the tail fell off. It grew back crooked. I kept it for a couple of years until it died.

On the last night we met up with some family for a much needed home-cooked meal.

The end of a long week.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Stretch Arm Strong - "Lift The Shades" @ R.T.I. (5/15/92)

I saw Metallica at Yankees Stadium last night and it reminded me of this song I used to play with Stretch Arm Strong. The intro is pretty much a Metallica rip-off, with me trying to channel my inner Kirk Hammett...failing miserably.


Dean Drillbit - vocals, guitar

Frank Fusco - guitar

Kevin Purcell - bass

John Hoffman - drums

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Toyota Shoot With Gavin Bowden (2007)

I recently finished reading Anthony Kiedis' (Red Hot Chili Peppers singer) book, Scar Tissue, and it got me thinking of a couple of spots I shot with director Gavin Bowden, back in 2007. Gavin was mentioned twice in Anthony's book because he shot a few Red Hot Chili Peppers videos – he also happens to be Flea's (RHCP bassist) brother-in-law.

We were considering three directors for the job but we awarded it to Gavin after he flew out from LA just to pitch us his vision in person. We appreciated his enthusiasm and his treatment. At this point we didn't know about the RHCP connection, we only saw his commercial reel. We found out he was related to Flea on our way to LA, when Malibu was in the thrones of uncontrollable wildfires. Flea's house was one of it's victims. The fires lasted for a good part of our stay in LA.

The subject of the Red Hot Chili Peppers came up during one of our conversations, of course, and I found out that Gavin directed Funky Monks – the documentary on the making of the Chili Peppers breakthrough album Blood Sugar Sex Magic. I bought Funky Monks on VHS back in 1991 and I've watched it many many times – still own it. So it turns out I was a fan of his from way back. He told me he also documented their follow-up album, One Hot Minute, but it'll never see the light of day because the band was a mess, physically and emotionally. I personally like that album, even though it's considered a failure by many.

The two spots we worked on required a lot of special effects, something Gavin had plenty of on his reel. So a lot of green screens (or blue) and computer-generated imagery was used. When shooting these types of spots it takes imagination and trust in the director because it's not so obvious when viewing the video tap. You're shooting bits and pieces that will later be merged together along with CGI backgrounds. Heady stuff.

One of our spots, "Imagine", is for the Toyota Camry – "The Best Selling Car In America". The premise is that it's easy to imagine yourself in one, so every time a Camry drives by a person, that person seamlessly finds themselves driving one. Coming up with those transitions was a lot of fun. Here's the spot…

The other spot is for the RAV4. Toyota likes to position that SUV as the perfect vehicle for on and off road driving. It reminded me of the song "There Is A Mountain" by Donovan, with the lyrics "First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is". I figured we'd show the RAV4 boogying in the mountains, then the city, then the mountains, and so forth – again using those seamless transitions like the Camry spot.

Getting the rights to use the song was a bit tricky. It would've been too expensive for the original track, but luckily for us, Donovan recut a bunch of his famous songs for that very reason. The record companies own the copyrights to the original tracks and Donovan doesn't make much off of them. But by rerecording the tunes he bypasses the record companies – brilliant. The new version sounds very similar to the original. I can tell the difference but the average listener will not. (And here's another Red Hot Chili Peppers connection: Anthony Kiedis dated and lived with Donovan's daughter, Ione Skye, for a few years. Weird.) Here's the spot…

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What If We All Had The Same Face?

My son started his first day of 1st grade today. It reminded me of a ditto my 1st grade teacher handed to my class at Jacob Gunther elementary school. (Yep, I still have it because my my mom saves everything.) The title up top – though hard to read – says "What If We All Had The Same Face?", with "Grade 1 - Introduction Phase" at the bottom. Introduction to what? Terrifying nightmares? The image is pretty disturbing, especially for a 1st grader, and the poor mimeograph quality doesn't help. One of the many reasons I turned out this way.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Manure For The Mind (1995)

Manure For The Mind was a public access show I created with my friend Jim Burns. The 12 episodes aired on Manhattan Neighborhood Network from July to September of 1995. It was basically a hodgepodge of things we liked – music, film, TV – with some live-action scenes we shot ourselves (and with my sister) peppered throughout each episode. The video above is a collection of just the live-action stuff we shot – which equaled to about 8% of the show.

Each week we pieced together an episode – using the poor man's two VCR editing system – based around a loose theme (ie: evil, blaxploitation, custom cars, kids shows, etc.). One thing we liked to do was play a "Six Degrees of Separation" or tag type of game with video. For example... start with the Scatman Crothers and LaWanda Page scene from Zapped! ...cut to... LaWanda Page and Antonio Fargas (Huggy Bear) in Starsky & Hutch ...cut to... Antonio Fargas and Pam Grier in Foxy Brown ...cut to... Pam Grier and Yahphet Kotto in Friday Foster ...cut to... Yahphet Kotto and Isaac Hayes in Truck Turner ...and so on and so on.

To the right is one of three posters I hung guerilla style around the city promoting the show. During our three month run we aired 12 episodes of Manure For The Mind. We were supposed to make 13 but we opted to rerun Episode 6 by request from a fan at least one person was watching.

Here's the titles of the episodes that aired:

Episode 1: All Things Evil
Episode 2: Nod Scene
Episode 3: Zebra Soul
Episode 4: Drag
Episode 5: My Own Urine
Episode 6: Connect Four
Episode 7: One Giant Leap For Mankind
Episode 8: Blaxploitation and Beyond
Episode 9: The Letter "P"
Episode 10: A Little Root
Episode 11: Wake The Kids
Episode 12: It Was The Best Of Times, It Was The Worst Of Times

Here's the song Jim and I performed by the railroad tracks in Episode 10: A Little Root (also in the video above)…

"LIRR"Jim & Frank

I always liked the tune so 10 years later – as I was about to move out of the city – I wrote some lyrics, changed the name, and recorded it with my friend Dave Deluca

"Leaving The City"Franklin Mint (featuring Dave Deluca on bass)

©1995 Bubjunior Productions