Wednesday, April 30, 2014

An Attack on Privacy

A terrible thing recently happened to a friend of mine that called attention to an issue with Facebook, and I thought it prudent to blog about it.

As many of my regular readers know, I have many an issue with Facebook, my most recent complaint being their change in their saturation algorithm which makes having a professional page useless unless you pay them to "boost" your posts - but there's something else which bugs me.

I have two Facebook "accounts." One is my now useless professional page which I maintain for the people who think having a FB page makes me look legit, and the other is my personal FB page which I keep to people I know in real life, with a few minor exceptions (writerly types I've met and conversed with extensively through other FB pages or Twitter).

If I change my cover photo on my personal FB page, it automatically becomes a public post. This means I can NEVER use a picture of my kids, my house, or anything snarky and sarcastic (like memes or scenes from movies) because it automatically goes to everyone in the entire universe who looks me up on FB, and I don't want to be sued for copyright infringement.

All my regular posts are secured to show on my 'Friends Only' setting, but it's always bugged me about my cover photo - but whatever, right?
No big deal.

But apparently, it's trickier than that.

Frank Piccioli is a union leader for the City of Phoenix medics, 911 operators and various other public workers, and posted a news article to his PERSONAL page calling a member of the city council an asshole.

Now, I don't personally know if this council member is an asshole. But I know Frank very well, and I trust his judgement thoroughly. So if Frank called him an asshole, he probably is.

That being said the article somehow became public and the lovely vice mayor of Phoenix, Jim Somebody I Won't Even Dignify With His Real Last Name, printed Frank's comments (including Frank's personal FB picture which featured him and his fiance's daughter) and then passed out copies at a city council meeting.

Of course, the press then got a hold of Frank's comments, and then the press started Tweeting, writing, blogging, and posting articles of their own, all featuring pictures of Frank's Facebook post and comment.

Now, in case you missed it above, remember Frank's profile pic?
The one with him and his fiance's daughter?

Now, I don't know about you - but I have daughters. Two, to be precise.
Given that I have a public on-line persona, I try my very best to keep pictures of my kids off the internet.
If they ARE on the internet, I don't want them tagged with my, or their names.
They don't have FB accounts. They don't have Instagram, Twitter - nothing.
I'm a little crazy with the over-protecting thing, but I've also had friends LOSE their teenage daughters after meeting some dude on Facebook - and that's not even an exaggeration, a friend's daughter RAN AWAY with a guy she met on Facebook and they NEVER SAW HER AGAIN.
She's gone.
She's either trafficked, or dead, or who knows what, and it's a horrible horrible nightmare no parent should endure - so I am not light when I say you should not allow your minor children to interact with strangers on-line, and a part of that, is not allowing their photos to be spread all across the internet, or the press.

I am personally FLABBERGASTED that a public official like the Vice Mayor of Phoenix would willfully endanger the safety of a minor child by passing around her photo to a pack of reporters who are then OF COURSE going to spread it all over the internet, all in the interest of punishing Frank and his union for calling another council member an asshole.

This, my friends, is why I HATE 99.9% of politicians.
They simply don't give a fuck who they hurt if it serves their purpose.

Also, add this to another reason why Facebook is becoming more and more dangerous.
Your private opinions are not private.
Your photos are not private.
Your political rants are not private.

It is open season, folks.
Anything you say WILL be used against you in the court of public opinion.

Be careful.

UPDATE: 5/3/14

The press did a surprisingly nice move the other day and upon finding out that the profile pic contained the face of a minor, they blurred out her face.

I am not a fan of most "news" organizations, but I am impressed that integrity still exists amongst the press.
Well done.


Apparently the asshole politician? You know the one I wasn't sure if he was actually an asshole? He took the flyer with the Facebook post and the profile pic, and posted it on HIS Facebook page - so, now he's distributed the SAME pic of a minor - AGAIN. Apparently, he IS an asshole. 

His name is Sal DiCiccio. My hatred of politicians remains intact.

UPDATE: 5/6/14

First I want to thank all of you who continue to keep apprised of this situation. As you can guess, it has been quite traumatic for my friends, and I wish them some semblance of peace.

Sadly, however, this circumstance will not end to their satisfaction. And if you have a soul at all, you will understand how very unjust this ordeal really is, and the pain it has inflicted.

My friends had a meeting with the Vice Mayor in regards to his taking the picture down and/or issuing a public apology. He FLAT OUT refused, but he was kind enough [sarcasm] to give my friends a speech about the proper use of Facebook.

In other words, he couldn't care less if he endangered the life of a minor by publicly facilitating the publication of the photo of a minor child, not his own. He really doesn't give a fuck.

This, of course, makes me desperate to find a photo of him sunbathing nude, or bending over to pick a penny off the pavement, or some such embarrassing thing, but then I would be as soulless as that asshat and frankly, he isn't worth the effort.

He's also not worth the air he breathes, but, you know…sticks and stones.

All I can say is that if you feel the weight of injustice and wish to do something about it, I encourage you to contact Jim Waring's office, and be sure to tell them how you feel about this situation.

I also encourage anyone who lives in the Phoenix area to remember this come election time.

On a more positive note, the office of Sal DiCiccio retracted the photo on Facebook, and issued the mother a written apology - so I guess he's not as much of an asshole as Waring is.
Good on ya, Sal.
Don't do it again.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Book Trailer Reveal

Want to be a part of the CARRIER book trailer reveal tour?

Sign ups are here:

Here's a sneak peek:
Photos by Jordan Rassulo

NAYA: Briana Wilson
RIC: Connor Ficcadenti
AUBERGE GUARDS: Alex Vaiangina and Justin Goslee
GIRLS ON THE LINE: Anna Ross, Beatriz Adriana, Dana Hathaitham, Hannah Bank

Monday, April 21, 2014

The CARRIER Book Trailer Shoot - Anne's Diary

If any of you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you would have seen some pictures I took of the CARRIER book trailer that was shot this past weekend.

I wish I could adequately describe to you what it felt like to watch CARRIER be brought to life in front of my eyes, but I can't seem to find the right words.
Here, let me try...

I've written scripts for television before, so I know what it feels like to have my words spoken back to me through the television set - but these were all freelance scripts I sold to someone else's show. These were not characters I created, but ones that already existed. I was just putting words in someone else's mouth.

But to have the world of Auberge come to life (the city where CARRIER takes place), to have characters I'd only seen in my head come running past me - it was an emotion I can't quite articulate. To say the least, it was overwhelming. If I didn't know any better, I'd say it was freaky enough to make me lose touch with reality for brief moments in time. Like some sort of sick and twisted deja vu.

The first location of the book trailer shoot was in an alley in downtown LA. This alley was off 6th street and came with it's own cardboard house, yelling homeless residents, a discarded rubber glove on the ground next to a glob of petroleum jelly, smears of and an actual pile of human feces, and a river of urine running down the middle of the road, which pooled at a drain that had long ago stopped draining anything.

The smell! Oh my God. The smell!

In CARRIER, one of the most distinguishing factors of Auberge, the corporation that owns the city, is the smell. The air is so toxic it makes Naya nauseous throughout the entire book.

To then have the lead actress playing Naya coughing and covering her nose and complaining about how the air tasted badly, and then to experience that myself! - it was like listening to Naya step outside the Line for the first time. It was like being Naya as she stepped out of the Line for the first time.
There were actual moments as I stood in the alley, smelling that horrific stench, that I teared up - because if I could barely stand it for just a few hours, imagine what it must have been like for the people in Auberge to live in that 24/7, not to mention the real life man who lived in the cardboard box down at the end of the alley. It was too much to bear. Too much. By the time that location wrapped I was cranky as hell and desperate to get out of there. Desperate. If I could have, I would have run back to base camp and left the rest of the crew in my dust.

Another aspect of the shoot which brought me to near tears was when we created the hallway of the Line. In the book, naked girls are lined up, inspected, and assigned "appointment" rooms. These imaginary girls were then expected to get raped by ten men a day, seven days a week, until their bodies gave out, or they died.

Since we were limited by the confines of REAL LIFE (thank God!), we couldn't exactly hire actresses to strip down naked and line up in the hallway of a sex factory, so our director, Wes Armstrong, found a hallway in a television studio, dressed it with Auberge logos, and we hired four actresses, plus our lead, to wear distressed tank tops and underwear and to simulate the motion of an assembly line of girls entering and exiting an appointment room. Plus, we had a "guard" in full tactical gear patrolling the hallway. And - WOW - the image of these girls - HOLY MOTHER OF GOD - did these actresses knock it out of the park - I WAS A MESS!

If I stood on set and saw the girls, their real life faces with smiles and laughing and chatting between takes, I was fine. But the moment the camera was rolling, and they were in character, and I was in the control room watching them from behind the screen, them suffering as girls on the Line suffered - I couldn't handle it!

For better or worse my two daughters were at the shoot with me, and they wouldn't leave me alone.
"Mom, are you crying?"
"Mom, are you okay?"
"Why are you covering your eyes?"

It was like watching my worst nightmare. My. WORST. Nightmare.
It's one thing to have written about it, and create that horrible place - it was all in my imagination, safely locked away in my mind's eye. But to have it VISUALIZED - and done sooooo well -
it quite literally wrecked me.

But because I'm a "professional" and because my daughters were there, and because I didn't want anybody to know what I was REALLY going through, I made a few comments about how it was really, really disturbing and sucked back my emotions - but the truth was, I wanted to go hide in a corner and bob back and forth like a lunatic.

It was like shoving a person with claustrophobia in an elevator.

I was beside myself. And then, thankfully, mercifully - it was done.
I shook hands with the actresses (again, they REALLY did an amazing job), and handled business and was all smiles. But internally - holy shit in a bucket - TURMOIL.

For the second half of the studio shoot, we moved to an "appointment room," and had the main character inside, Naya, while several different "johns" entered.
There was not much to it, technically. And it was shot minimally, but creepily. It was not AS disturbing as the girls lined up in the hall.
It was damned uncomfortable.

The actress, Briana Wilson, did a fabulous, fabulous job of showing Naya's vulnerability and her strength, and Wes, the director, kept asking me questions about her frame of mind, and how did I like this shot? And how was that? Keeping me involved and keeping the mood of the room just on the cusp of fun and business.

But all I kept thinking was that I wanted to leave and go hide in a corner, any corner - maybe have a gin and tonic, or go stand in the parking lot, alone, and smoke a cigarette, or two, or six (and I don't even smoke!) - but no, I'M A PROFESSIONAL and I held it together.

They finished the shoot. I was all business, took care of closing down and cleaning up the studio - gave out tee shirts and pens to the crew as a thank you - all smiles and hand shakes and thank yous.

But I'm telling you right now - after you have seen the darkest regions of your imagination come to life - you are never the same again.

Or, at least for the last few days since the shoot, I haven't been the same.
Maybe I'll feel "normal" again after a day or two?
I hope?

But even despite all that mental anguish, torture, and uncomfortable feels - to show you, my readers, just a taste of what I was trying to show in CARRIER - it will change you. And to me - that's worth every ounce of angst.

It's true what they say…

A picture is worth a thousand words.