CHILDHOOD PRODUCTIONS (1987-1987)

As mentioned on the main "Film" page, I started making movies the same year I began learning to play guitar, 1988. Back then, the two first combined when I made two attempts to "re-make" the Richie Valens biopic La Bamba. It's probably more accurate to call these early, eight-year-old attempts at filmmaking more "reenactments." I'd have my parents run the camera as my younger brother and I lipsynched to the Los Lobos soundtrack and recited lines of dialog from memory. 

 

In my late teens, an attempt at a three-camera concert recording turned into my first feature-length documentary, Dreaming Out Loud. Around this time (1998), my friends and I were singing cover songs around a campfire each week while my brother's middle-and-highschool band was taking the stage at Northeast Ohio's premiere concert clubs playing original material. I didn't have the skill at the time to see it through, but I was gathering footage of the young group for a music video of their song, "Man of the Crowd"—the first entry on this page

 

The following year, I managed to pull together an entry to the Pearl Jam Yield Music Video fan club contest. I recruited a few friends and aimed to have their three story lines converge on the highway for the song, "MFC" (Mini Fast Car). It worked out well enough, but I ended up having to supplement my scenarios with footage from the band's Single Video Theory VHS release to keep things interesting. 

 
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The year 2000 was chronicled in music & film for me in the documentary feature, Steve: Finding Rhythm

 

When I started writing and releasing my own music a few years later, talented folks like David Urbanic and Bobby Makar were helping me out with music videos for songs like "Déjà Vu," "Secondhand," "Upward Down," and "Wise Blood." 

 

From 2011-2012 I used the short-lived Flip Video camera and App to capture the making of my second LP, Light The Dark, in a 50-part weekly Vlog series on YouTube.

 

As was the case with Inertia: Re-making The Crow (2001), I ended up finishing video profiles in which I was the subject—a practice I’ve gotten quite used to over the years. It’s now one of my specialties! Just as with Inertia, the crucial component to those pieces is a central interview conducted by someone with their own creative agenda. I'm grateful to Will Dages, David Urbanic, and Bobby Makar for sitting me down to talk on camera. 

 

Another of those interviews, this one thanks to Cait Rybiski in 2015, was so thoughtful and thorough that it's become the backbone of an as-yet-untitled feature-length documentary centering around the recording of my Furious Light album. 

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The Karate Kid: Action Figure Theater (1987)
 

Utilizing THE KARATE KID “Attack Alley and Training Center” packaging for title cards (box artwork and assembly instructions, respectively), and with Mel Brooks’s YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN inappropriately audible on the soundtrack, this action (figure) drama features a cast of six-inch plastic figurines released in conjunction with THE KARATE KID motion picture. In an improvised scenario, making use of the Training Center’s break away doors and the full line of KARATE KID action figures, the training of Mr. Miyagi and “Daniel-Son” is interrupted by an attack from the KARATE KID films’ bullpen of baddies in a conventional action sequence, complete with simulated slow motion and a cameo by (a plastic) Bruce Lee. After being defeated by the legendary Kung-Fu master, Kreese and company conspire in their lair built out of baseball and tennis trophies to bomb the dojo, killing the sleeping heroes in the narrative’s sudden climax. 

 

Frankenstein [Version 1] (1988)

 

Boasting a wardrobe of hooded sweatshirts and karate uniforms in place of three-piece suits; art direction involving lavatories-for-laboratories; and a one-flight staircase for mountainside, the story begins as Henry Frankenstein and his hunchbacked assistant Fritz plunder the back-yard graveyard’s pine-tree gallows and cardboard-box coffins for stuffed pajama-cadavers to be used for Frankenstein’s raw materials in the creation of a man. After Fritz makes the fatal mistake of dropping the stolen brain, a dazzling display of light-switch-flickering brings the stuffed pajamas to life, cueing the famous lines “It’s alive! It’s alive! (Laughter) Now I know what it feels like to be God!” However, in this particular rendition the outburst is followed by the outtake “Done for today!” and the stop-signal is flashed--a fist rested firmly against the mad scientist’s cheek. What follows closely resembles, however heavily condensed, the scenario set forth by the James Whale directed, Boris Karloff version of Mary Shelly’s novel, released by Universal Pictures in 1931. The Monster’s unveiling and destruction all occur in a few short minutes, with familiar pantomime of key moments and an unfortunate injury of the junior Ullman, when as Frankenstein, he is thrown down by his creation into the corner of the kitchen counter, prompting the frantic flashing of the previously established stop-signal over the anguished adlib “I’m really hurt!” 

 

The Mystery of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1988)

 

Working from the Crestwood House adaptation of the 1932 MGM film starring Frederick March, as yet unseen by the filmmakers, this ultra-brief adaptation involves much improvisation. Wearing the now-familiar pajama-for-suit costuming, Henry Jekyll’s opening lecture borrows more from the 1986 My Pet Monster film than Stevenson. Later, with the audible pounding of a toy piano in the background (meant as musical score?), the scientist works in his bathroom laboratory over moldy yogurt containers and other food-coloring-filled kitchen castoffs to finish his elixir, which promises to separate the dual nature of man. In a transformation scene inspired in equal measures by John Barrymore’s 1922 performance (which Ullman had recently seen a clip of on television) and the cartoon metamorphosis of Teen Wolf, Henry Jekyll becomes the evil Mr. Hyde. After briefly relishing in his new persona by gleefully frightening a woman unconscious, Hyde returns to the lab to change back into the Good Doctor Jekyll. Once restored to his original state, Jekyll quickly reasons that he will eventually be unable to regulate the transformations. Very soon thereafter, he changes into Hyde in his sleep, only to be swiftly gunned down by an unseen assailant.

 

Frankenstein [Version 2] (1988)

 

Shot on an empty sound-stage in Minneapolis. Though the track is very much a full-band affair, this lyric video for the most popular track off of The Furious Light album was a solo effort—from the photography to the motion-captured handwriting.

Filmed with a Canon 60D
Edited in Premiere Pro

 

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde [Version 2] (1988)

Performing “French New Year” on December 15, 2014, at my actual day-job-desk for a few of my actual co-workers. 

Filmed with Canon 60Ds by Thomas Ducastel
Edited in Premiere Pro

 

 

I Was A Teenage Werewolf (1988)

“Between The Lines: A Conversation Through Music.” Crossing genres and generations, David Ullman (34-year-old folk-rocker) and Phil Little (74-year-old country songwriter) invite you to a unique evening of songs and stories at the 318 Cafe in Excelsior, MN. 

Filmed with a Canon 60D
Edited in Premiere Pro

 

Superman (1988)
 

Filmed on December 7, 2013, during a house concert in Saint Paul, Minnesota by Preston Rogosheske and Adam Thies for RawCraft. Guest accompaniment on “Déjà Vu” by batteryboy’s Cobey Rouse. 

Filmed with a Canon 7D and 60D
Edited in Premiere Pro

 

La Bamba [Version 1] (1988)

 

Watch me hand-stamp and number all 100 limited-edition "Green Bootleg" CDs in three minutes while hearing clips from the 12-track live compilation album, Best In Boots Vol. 1 (2009​-​2012).

Filmed with a Canon 60D

Performance clips recorded on a Flip Video camera
Edited in Premiere Pro

 

La Bamba [Version 2] (1988)

 

In this alternative to the album-art-only YouTube music listening experience, I filmed the Light The Dark record playing from various angles—with a real-time flipping to side B—for those longing for the vinyl experience without the luxury of a record player.

Filmed with a Canon 60D
Edited in Premiere Pro

 

Impact [Outtakes] (1991)

 

The only surviving footage from this early attempt at an action flick--very influenced by the then-new Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle, DOUBLE IMPACT.

In 1984 Edward Niponi threatened the police chief’s family’s life. In order to keep them alive, he had to let the gangsters do whatever they wanted in the city. John Crisp was on the case as an FBI agent. He got a tape of one of the conversations between Niponi and the police chief. John was killed, but the tape was passed on to his brother Jake. Seven years later, Jake Crisp, now a hired assassin, after being chased down and shot by gangster Edward Niponi is now dead to the known world. The Agency sends a rookie (Lawrence Leoni) in his place. The two assassins meet on a dock on Lake Erie. They later team up to kill Niponi and his fellow gangster Tony Lavita. 

 

Silent Running (1992)

 

This music video came out of the 50-part Light The Dark Production Vlog series. Recorded at the Elevation Studio in Cleveland, Ohio on September 30, 2011 with Jake Fader engineering. Thanks to Morgan Milliken, a young lady interning at the studio, I walked away with some sweet shots from the control room I could mix in with tripod shots from my various passes at the song. Unfortunately, I was not present the day Tara Hanish recorded her cello parts—though we did capture a virtual duet during 2020 (for any cellists out there curious to see what she’s playing).

Filmed with a Flip Video Camera
Edited in Final Cut Pro X

 

Illusion (1992)

 

This track-by-track look at the Light The Dark LP pulls from the 50-part, weekly production vlog series I published on YouTube from 2011-2012. It’s tied together by an on-camera interview with Bobby Makar, who directed the “Wise Blood” and “Upward Down” music videos for the album—as well as “The Vinyl Countdown,” the what’s-in-my-bag-inspired invite to the album release party at Blue Arrow Records in Cleveland, Ohio. 

Filmed mostly with a Flip Video Camera

Interview captured with Bobby's DSLR Camera
Edited in Final Cut Pro X

 

Illusions (1992)

 

Crowdfunding pitch video to complete and release my Light The Dark album on vinyl. My direct-to-camera bits were recorded in my living room, surrounded by a sea of vinyl records and at least six shelves of books and films. 

Filmed with a Flip Video Camera
Edited in Final Cut Pro X

 

Illusions 3 (1992)

 

From the first note of the first demo to picking up my test-pressing vinyl from the manufacturer, this 50-part weekly video diary documented the making of my second album, Light The Dark. I would publish on Wednesdays, and for a few weeks I tried to keep them to one-minute, “your weekly one-minute Wednesday new album update!” The series was captured and edited using the Flip Video camera, a tapeless HD camcorder that fit in the palm of your hand and had only a button to start and stop recordings. The proprietary editing app only allowed dissolve cuts, but I embraced these limitations. With my background spending years on documentary projects, I felt these parameters would help me keep up the weekly schedule. It was fun and motivating. Over the course of the year, the vlog ended up doubling as a crowd-funding campaign, and the footage captured became the basis for a proper making-of mini-documentary, as well as two studio-session-based music videos. 

Filmed with a Flip Video Camera
Edited in Flip Video App

 

More Illusions (1992)

It took me almost 10 years of cajoling to convince my brother Brian to let me release a compilation of the songs he recorded under the name “Fascist Puppeteer” from 2004-2013. This tongue-in-cheek rap song was very popular on MySpace in 2006, and I always wanted to make a music video for it. Though that didn’t happen at the time, the release of The Fascist Puppeteer Mixtape in 2019 offered me the chance to pull together footage from a few rowdy 2010/11 performances.

Filmed mostly with a Flip Video camera (2010/11)
Edited in Premiere Pro (2019)

 

Even More Illusions (1992)

 

Produced by Will Dages for “quoteUNquote” Productions. The interview was conducted by Will in January of 2007 in the basement of my parents' house where I recorded much of the album with my brother Brian throughout 2005-2007. I supplemented Will’s interview, performance, and documentary footage with some lo-fi VHS material and edited it together shortly after Dog Days was released in 2008

Filmed with Canon XH A1 Mini DV Camcorder / Panasonic Palmcorder VHS-C
Edited in Final Cut Pro 7

 

Behind The Scenes of "Even More Illusions" (1992)

 

Shot in Pittsburgh, PA on July 6 & 7th, 2005 by Matt Jackson and David Urbanic. On the drive from Akron to Pittsburgh, I remember telling Matt—my longtime friend and creative collaborator—how I didn’t want the promotional photography we were about to capture to be clichéd scenarios like alleyways and brick-wall-backgrounds. I was purposefully dressed in everyday clothes and resolute not to partake in such inauthentic representations of myself and this deeply personal music I’d been working on. I also recall denouncing concept videos as non-starters as well. Of course, within 20 minutes of arriving at Ship King captain David Urbanic’s Shadyside apartment, I was standing in an alleyway in front of a camera and getting talked into shooting a concept video for "Déjà Vu" later that evening! For all of my pretentious protesting, I had a great time and was super-pleased with the resulting music video, which was filmed at and around Urbanic’s apartment. This behind-the-scenes short I cut together a few years later captures the free-flow of ideas and easy camaraderie of that weekend. I’m grateful to Dave and Matt for helping me get out of my own way a bit.

Filmed in Hi8
Edited in Final Cut Pro 7

 

Oh Yes, More Illusions [AKA: “You Guessed It, More Illusions”] (1992)

 

Produced through a college class at Kent State University. The interview was filmed at Musica in Akron, Ohio, where I’d been playing gigs as a solo act. Zach was an inspiration to me as an aspiring musician in Northeast Ohio. He performed 200+ shows a year and even got regular play on the cool radio station—WAPS, 91.3 The Summit, which is where I filmed DJ Bill Hall for this piece. Super-fan Marilyn Stroud was recorded in her home in Cuyahoga Falls, and the performance was captured at the Lime Spider in Akron. Zach and I would go on to become friends and collaborators, which you can see a bit of in the “Happiest Sad Song” music video above

Recorded July 27th, 1992

 

Jump (1992)

Circle of Willis was my brother’s high school rock band. They were a crowd favorite at the annual Cleveland High School Rock Off competitions, which were held at the Odeon concert club. This short commercial was shown during the closed-circuit morning announcements at his school. 

Filmed with various borrowed video cameras.
Edited with the Media 1000

 

Rain Go Away [Jump 2] (1992)

 

Produced by one of the “Cabin Kids” for a college project on influence, this exploration of the band U2's impact on our group of friends features many of the Long Walk Short Drink family—including Palmer, myself, Logan, Jacko, Marv, Kramms, and more! In addition to appearing in the interviews, I also edited the video.

Filmed with a Goldstar GVC-D425 VHS
Edited in Media 100 with graphics from Newtek Video Toaster 4000

 

Amy (1992)

 

FROM TEN CLUB NEWSLETTER NUMBER FOURTEEN:

 

Your mission should you choose to accept it, will be to create a music video of your favorite song off the album Yield, with the exception of “Do The Evolution.” The winner will receive a full year of free membership, an original cell from the Todd McFarlane animated video “Do The Evolution” autographed by the band and their picture in the next newsletter. Second place will receive an autographed copy of Single Video Theory. Two lucky runners up will receive fabulous prizes not yet disclosed. 

HERE ARE THE RULES:

* The video must be a song off Yield.

* Only 1 video entry per tape

* No more than two video entries per member

* Video format must be VHS

* Include your full name, address, and a picture of yourself along with your entry.

* Entries must be received no later than June 1, 1999.

I managed to pull together an entry to the Pearl Jam Yield Music Video fan club contest. I scribbled down a script, recruited a few friends, and aimed to have their three story lines converge on the highway for the song, "MFC" (Mini Fast Car). It worked out well enough, but I ended up having to supplement my scenarios with footage from the band's Single Video Theory VHS release to keep things interesting. Between that “cheat” and their enormous fan base—no doubt filled with a great many more skilled filmmakers than myself at the time—I did not even place in the contest. 

Filmed with Panasonic Pro-Line AG-456 S-VHS Reporter
Edited with Panasonic AG-A770 controller and the Newtek Video Toaster 4000

 

Jump 3 (1992)
 

This video began on November 22nd, 1997 when the band Enormity—then just freshmen in high school—went into CMC Studios to record "Man of the Crowd" and a handful of other original songs. I asked my brother, bandleader Brian Ullman, that someone bring a camcorder to the session and grab some footage. I later followed up by filming the group performing to playback in the band's basement rehearsal space. The first 40 seconds were edited on tape in 1997, but back then I didn't yet have the skill to pull it all together. In 2018, I finished it as part of the posthumous release Enormity: Live at the Odeon (1​-​31​-​1998) incorporating footage from the band’s entire archive.

Filmed with various band members' VHS & VHS-C camcorders (1997)
First 40 seconds edited with the Panasonic AG-A770 controller & the Newtek Video Toaster 4000 (1997). The rest edited in Premiere Pro (2018)

A Family Vacation (1992)


This video began on November 22nd, 1997 when the band Enormity—then just freshmen in high school—went into CMC Studios to record "Man of the Crowd" and a handful of other original songs. I asked my brother, bandleader Brian Ullman, that someone bring a camcorder to the session and grab some footage. I later followed up by filming the group performing to playback in the band's basement rehearsal space. The first 40 seconds were edited on tape in 1997, but back then I didn't yet have the skill to pull it all together. In 2018, I finished it as part of the posthumous release Enormity: Live at the Odeon (1​-​31​-​1998) incorporating footage from the band’s entire archive.

Friday, Aug. 7th through Sun. Aug. 16th, 1992

Finally, We’re Ending This Stupid Illusions Series (1992)


This video began on November 22nd, 1997 when the band Enormity—then just freshmen in high school—went into CMC Studios to record "Man of the Crowd" and a handful of other original songs. I asked my brother, bandleader Brian Ullman, that someone bring a camcorder to the session and grab some footage. I later followed up by filming the group performing to playback in the band's basement rehearsal space. The first 40 seconds were edited on tape in 1997, but back then I didn't yet have the skill to pull it all together. In 2018, I finished it as part of the posthumous release Enormity: Live at the Odeon (1​-​31​-​1998) incorporating footage from the band’s entire archive.

Friday, Aug. 7th through Sun. Aug. 16th, 1992

Illusions [Collected] (1992)


This video began on November 22nd, 1997 when the band Enormity—then just freshmen in high school—went into CMC Studios to record "Man of the Crowd" and a handful of other original songs. I asked my brother, bandleader Brian Ullman, that someone bring a camcorder to the session and grab some footage. I later followed up by filming the group performing to playback in the band's basement rehearsal space. The first 40 seconds were edited on tape in 1997, but back then I didn't yet have the skill to pull it all together. In 2018, I finished it as part of the posthumous release Enormity: Live at the Odeon (1​-​31​-​1998) incorporating footage from the band’s entire archive.

Friday, Aug. 7th through Sun. Aug. 16th, 1992

Untitled New Years Movie (1992/3)


This video began on November 22nd, 1997 when the band Enormity—then just freshmen in high school—went into CMC Studios to record "Man of the Crowd" and a handful of other original songs. I asked my brother, bandleader Brian Ullman, that someone bring a camcorder to the session and grab some footage. I later followed up by filming the group performing to playback in the band's basement rehearsal space. The first 40 seconds were edited on tape in 1997, but back then I didn't yet have the skill to pull it all together. In 2018, I finished it as part of the posthumous release Enormity: Live at the Odeon (1​-​31​-​1998) incorporating footage from the band’s entire archive.

Friday, Aug. 7th through Sun. Aug. 16th, 1992

Watchful Eyes (1993)

 

Bang! You’re dead! IBM executive James Slade has witnessed a pointless murder and now his whole world is doing to be turned upside down. After a series of threatening letters and sending his daughter Veronica to his mother’s for protection, the real battle for Slade begins as the murderer sets his sights on a new victim – HIM.

Untitled Clint Eastwood Wiffle Ball Movie (1993)

 

Sergio Leone-infused improvisation wherein a poncho-wearing, rifle-toting maniac crashes a backyard Wiffle ball game.

Untitled Bruce Lee Influenced Movie (1993)

 

Sergio Leone-infused improvisation wherein a poncho-wearing, rifle-toting maniac crashes a backyard Wiffle ball game.

Lethal Weapon 4 ½ : The Smell of Fire (1993)

 

OK. OK. They’re back… Well, sort of. The newest addition to the Lethal Weapon series pairs wide-eyed Riggs with a new and definitely different partner. After finding out that Murtaugh has retired, Riggs gets the surprise of his life – a new partner! Riggs and pyromaniac partner Peter Krikes take on a gang of ninja-masked drug dealers (not to mention each other!) in this explosive action-comedy from the producers of Watchful Eyes.

Completed: Summer 1993 (Filmed July)
60 mins.

A Dying Breed [Version 1] (1993)

 

Bounty killers are no longer a dime a dozen. They’re a Dying Breed. When Ken Ridgeway seeks vengeance for the murder of his friend, he looks to one of the only bounty killers left. But after Ex-Navy Seal and (now) Ex-Bounty killer Joe Couric declines his offer of eight grand, Ridgeway hires Jack Benz to take care of his friend’s murderer. But, in desperate need of money, a reluctant Couric joins the game for a higher price of ten grand. Now, the two bounty killers, completely unaware of each other’s involvement, compete in an unknown race against each other in this new film from the producers of WATCHFUL EYES.

A Dying Breed [Deleted Scenes] (1993)

 

Bounty killers are no longer a dime a dozen. They’re a Dying Breed. When Ken Ridgeway seeks vengeance for the murder of his friend, he looks to one of the only bounty killers left. But after Ex-Navy Seal and (now) Ex-Bounty killer Joe Couric declines his offer of eight grand, Ridgeway hires Jack Benz to take care of his friend’s murderer. But, in desperate need of money, a reluctant Couric joins the game for a higher price of ten grand. Now, the two bounty killers, completely unaware of each other’s involvement, compete in an unknown race against each other in this new film from the producers of WATCHFUL EYES.

A Dying Breed [Version 2] (1993)

 

Bounty killers are no longer a dime a dozen. They’re a Dying Breed. When Ken Ridgeway seeks vengeance for the murder of his friend, he looks to one of the only bounty killers left. But after Ex-Navy Seal and (now) Ex-Bounty killer Joe Couric declines his offer of eight grand, Ridgeway hires Jack Benz to take care of his friend’s murderer. But, in desperate need of money, a reluctant Couric joins the game for a higher price of ten grand. Now, the two bounty killers, completely unaware of each other’s involvement, compete in an unknown race against each other in this new film from the producers of WATCHFUL EYES.

Made In China [Fight Choreography Tests] (1994)

 

A phase-fusing culmination of our cinematic inspirations, instead ignited a flame that when fanned sparked a four-year filmmaking odyssey re-adapting James O’Barr’s THE CROW. MADE IN CHINA meshed all our interest to date by having a foreigner introduced to the American culture. We filmed a video store renting binge (Blake’s Hometown Video), which was going to set up using a fight scene in HARD TARGET as a model for a later sequence in which two high-school bullies upset that I beat them and Jenny Wallace in a race… Bob (La Bamba) doorbell… Me overhear Matt Talking bad about me… Bruce Lee in general (“Don’t get into any fights,” etc.) Plus the title owed to both my character’s place of being raised (born in USA like Bruce Lee) and reference to father’s fortune inventing plastic shoe-lace endings.

Untitled [Dubbed] Tent Movie (1994)

 

July 1994